Fear Not

Last January I decided to focus my self-improvement efforts on a single word that would guide me through 2013. It would be the driving force behind all of my actions. That word was Balance. As I reflect back on the last year I feel a personal success in my implementation of this word in my daily life. But enough about the past. Moving on. New year, new goals, new word.
While reading the article 37 Life Lessons in 37 Years, one of the author’s lessons really resonated with me: Fear is often a very good indicator of what we really want and need in our life. Let it be your compass and enjoy the exciting adventure it leads you on.

So it was decided. 2014 will be a Fearless endeavor.

We are all individually capable of so much, yet tend to hold back our potential because of our fears. Fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of  making mistakes. These fears cloud our minds and divert our attention away from our goals and the things we really want. We settle. We become comfortable. We don’t jump hurdles or take leaps into what could be a happier future. It’s too risky. We’ve got to much to lose. But do we?

I am an extremely ambitious person, always wanting to achieve bigger and better. And when I want something badly enough, I get it. I’ve always known that I will do great things someday. Someday. (Note: I define “great” as that in which is meaningful to ME, realizing others may not see it as such). But why am I waiting for Someday? The fears within that are keeping me from accomplishing these things NOW will only intensify as the clock ticks and I may eventually convince myself that I have more to lose than I once did.

So here I am, ready to push this new strategy. From this point forward I will base my decisions on the answer to the following question: What would you do if fear didn’t stop you?

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This is not about me

I have a goal. A goal to run a full marathon in a decent time.

My best friend, Allison, has a goal. A goal to finish her very first half marathon.

We joined forces and agreed to achieve our respective goals on the same day. Same time. Same place. Same race.

I proposed the idea of combining our training efforts and tackling this together to make it a more pleasant experience for us both (well, as pleasant as running 26 miles can get). Every Sunday we pound the pavement together for our long distance runs and check up on each other during the week to make sure we’re keeping up with our middle-of-the-week training. Allison typically runs half the distance of my scheduled run. A win-win situation. As a neophyte to running, Allison benefits from having someone to pace her, correct her form when her physical fatigue becomes obvious and keep her convinced that she can go just a little further every time she’s considering a walk break. On the flipside, I have someone to accompany me, keep me from getting overzealous, exert too much effort during the first half of my run and burn-out before finishing my target mileage.

I have always been one to get a thrill from motivating other people and watching their progress (and Allison has made incredible progress). Encouraging someone to keep going harder and stronger makes it easier for me to do the same. Amongst other things, coaching Allison has taught me patience. As mentioned above, I have tendencies to go too fast, too soon. This has resulted in injuries, fatigue and eventual abortion of race goals. Last Sunday I found myself wanting to speed it up and had to remind myself that as focused as I am on reaching my own goal, this is not about me. I am equally in this for my friend. To watch her succeed and witness her happiness when she reaches the finish line. So why go faster? Why fly solo? After all, I’m doing this with her so we can both enjoy it. My struggles come when Allison leaves me. I suddenly have no one to feel proud of, or laugh at how exhausted we are, or question why we are voluntarily suffering in what feels like a humid hell rather than drinking mimosas on the Atlantic shore (which, by the way, lies less than 50 feet away during our entire run). So why leave her?

My point in sharing all of this is the following: Find something that motivates you and run with it. In my case, it is literally Allison. Your inspiration may not be a person but rather lie in a song, a quote or a memory. Different strokes for different folks. But whatever it may be, keep it with you, whether physically or mentally, and you will find your goals to be more attainable than expected. More realistic than you originally thought they were. You might actually have a good time jumping the hurdles and dodging the bullets to reach them. And you will feel like a superhero.

With that said, thank you Allison Sens for making me feel like Wonder Woman.

Stay strong and Happy Holidays.

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Be grateful for everything, and anxious for nothing.

I’m a travelholic. I’ve told myself that every few years I would invest my time and money into some sort of big trip and fly somewhere where I don’t speak the native language (and if I don’t recognize the characters of their alphabet, even better).

This year I decided to journey to Indonesia. My trip was perfectly in-line with my mission for 2013: Balance. Epic sunrise volcano climbs, afternoons of surfing and monkey bite shenanigans juxtaposed with guru-guided yoga sessions and crystal-clear open water swims were the perfect recipe for mental rejuvenation. Another fascinating trip to a third-world country put my senses into overdrive and brought me back to the U.S. with the realization that as different as our worlds may seem, we are really all the same. Regardless of culture, we all have dreams for a better life for ourselves and our children.

Traveling emphasizes what’s really important and I definitely got my dose of perspective (something I think everyone seems to slowly lose without realization. Hell, I’m guilty). I returned to the Western world thinking about how much we have and how much we take for granted. Too many of us are so enthralled in things we want and lose sight of what we already have. We have forgotten to keep it simple and we have mastered the art of over-complicating. We have forgotten how to slow down, take a breather and enjoy the things and people that are important to us as individuals. I had a lot of time on planes to reflect not only on the differences in lifestyle of the people and places I visited, but on the things that matter to me most. Simply put, I am grateful. Grateful for my health, my freedom, my successes, the dreams I have managed to turn into realities at the ripe age of 26 and, above all, I am grateful for my friends and family. I am reminded that I worry too much about things that don’t matter. Reminded that being a good person has its rewards. Sometimes they are small rewards, but it’s often the little things that can make all the difference. So when you feel like being an asshole, don’t be. Stay grounded. It’ll payoff.

With that said, take a minute to think about what matters most to you. If it’s a person, tell them. If it’s an action, indulge in it. Relax, enjoy and remain grateful for everything and anxious for nothing.

Oh, and did I mention I got bit by a wild monkey? I leave you with a few Indo-stills:

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A little bit of this with a little bit of that

I came across this challenge just before the start of the new year. The idea is to pick one word that will serve as your driving force. A word that will serve as a constant reminder of your goals. I’m not really sure I believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think anytime is a good time for a fresh start. So what if it’s already May, right? But I thought this was a neat idea, so I decided that my word for 2013 is Balance.
The fact that I haven’t written anything in a while is testament to the fact that I don’t know how to relax. I’ve mentioned before that I tend to overwhelm myself. It’s just part of who I am. A can’t-sit-still-Cuban. But I’ve realized that I need to occasionally slow it down for my own damn sake. Take a chill pill, Em. Hell, take two! Indulge in the things that make you happy. After all, what’s life if you don’t enjoy it?
I take pride in my accomplishments and all the things I juggle. I don’t know how you do it (words I hear often from friends and family). Good time management? Perhaps. Wonder Woman? We already knew that. But on those rare occasions that I do step on the brakes and breathe, enjoy my own company or the company of friends, I realize that a break can be so nice. I don’t want to become a workaholic or so busy that I don’t have time for the people that are important to me. I need to learn to make more time for them. I need to make more time for me.

My ultimate goal: Feel challenged by life but relaxed enough to enjoy it. My reminder: Balance.

So far, so good.

Albert Einstein said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” I do believe that living a balanced life comes easier to you as you gain momentum. But listen, Einstein, sometimes you just need to stop moving so fast.

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Favorite Things: October

I fear change so much sometimes. And I realize that more often than not, it’s unjustifiable. I started a new job this week that makes my days longer than I’d like them to be. I’m exhausted. But I love it. I made the right choice and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Why was I so afraid? Sheesh.
Now I fear not being able to run this marathon. I finally went to an Orthopedic. Diagnosis: Hip Flexor Tendinitis. Nothing that time, lots of ice, ibuprofen, stretching, rest and massage therapy can’t fix. But it’s so mentally debilitating not to be able to run or be as active as I’m used to. Perhaps I won’t do the ING in January. At least not the full distance. Maybe this is all a sign that I should postpone this race just a few weeks. Maybe travel to run the LA marathon and visit a few dear friends on the west coast. I’ve been meaning to journey out there anyway. I just hate to think I’m giving up (Warning: stubborn Taurus mentality surfacing). Who am I kidding? If you know me, you know I’ll find a way to do this thing anyway, regardless of the circumstances.

I digress. The real purpose of this post is to share the things that have made me smile the last month. “Favorite things from October.” Here we go:

  • Becoming a Sweat Pink Ambassador and living the mission: Sweat hard, Play hard, and inspire those around me to achieve their best selves.
  • Receiving a surprise shipment of Zico Chocolate Coconut Water from one of my good friends, Bozievich. It’s the little things in life that are actually the greatest. And I’m referring to the gesture, not the beverage.
  • C.O.P.E. Instructor training (see earlier post). I can’t wait for unsupervised ziplining adventures with Gomez!
  • Finding a new apartment and job that I love.
  • Experiencing the Keys for the first time in ages with two very good friends. Sometimes a few solid days of laziness are in order.
  • Reaching personal records on long runs (pre-injury). I’ve never felt so good on a 12-miler in my life. And I had an awesome sidekick riding his bike alongside me the whole way.
  • Dressing up as a Loofah for Halloween.
  • Although this bleeds into November, the Glow Run 5k on Miami Beach was quite memorable. In fact, the whole weekend was spent in good company with out-of-towners.

And because I’m a huge fan of visuals, here are some photos for you to match to some of the events listed above. I can’t wait to see what November has in store. Enjoy!

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