Wednesday, June 27, 2012


File:DNA Double Helix.pngI was tuned in to HGTV’s Love it or List It show and saw an ‘interesting’ episode.  The client was a married couple and the husband is actually part of the show’s own construction team.  In this episode though, said husband wasn’t allowed to participate in the construction job. 

The wife was the one who was desperate to move out of their existing home.  Her main complaint was that her husband, being Mr. Handy Man/ Construction Guy, never gets to spend enough time with her.  According to her, when her husband comes home after a long day at work, he still spends countless hours working on DIY projects to finish their home.  He works to complete the renovation on their master suite, the patio, the basement and other areas of the house.  He was practically flipping the entire house while they lived in it.  She hated it.  And this is why she just wanted to go out and find a new home that is move-in ready and completely perfect (translate: project-free), one where there won’t be anything for her husband to fix.

When she expressed this to the show’s host, I couldn’t help but scream back at the television…

That’s not going to solve your problem!  Even if you gave him the perfect house, he will always find something to fix.  It’s just who he is!”

He will find something to repaint.  Something to hang.  Something to repair.  A flower or tree to plant.  A small bulb to replace.  Something.  Anything.  It’s what he loves to do.  It’s what he enjoys.  It’s what makes him tick.  It’s who he is.  It’s simply how he is wired.

This made me wonder.  How much time has each of us wasted trying to change something integral to someone else? It may not have been a blatant effort.  It may have simply been a wish, a slight shaking of your head.  And I’m not just talking about changing a minor habit or something quite shallow.  What I’m referring to here is trying to change something that truly defines the other person.  

Think of the character Dr.Gregory House.  You just know that wherever you place him, no matter what he does for a living, he is just the kind of person who will thrive on puzzles.  It’s who he is.

Think of Oprah Winfrey.  You can be certain that regardless of circumstance, she will speak and teach.  It’s who she is.

Have you found yourself telling a 'thinker' not to over analyze?...A perfectionist to stop checking and re-checking something?...Or an introvert to stop being shy?  None of this makes sense, does it?  But people do it all the time, and it’s sad because I see that sometimes we want to change another person merely because it makes us uncomfortable to let them be who they are deep down. Their choices make us uncomfortable.  Their choices are inconvenient to us, don't align with who we are, who we want them to be, our sense of morality or own ideals. This kind of desire for change does not come from a place of love, acceptance or respect, does it?  

Sometimes, it really does take more love to leave someone be, rather than be 'present' but constantly demand change.  I believe that there are times when love can really be found more in acceptance rather than resistance.

Take the Serenity Prayer to heart.  It really does say it all…

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference”.



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Seriously, I'm Just 38...

On my 'Running Shoes Chronicle' posting last week, I admitted seeing a doctor about my knee issue.  For the longest time, I had been in denial about it, thinking that it will just go away, that it was merely hormonal and certainly nothing permanent.  

Now I would like to set the record straight.

Though the heightened sensation of pain might be hormonal, the cause behind the pain certainly isn't.  The doctor, after a series of questions regarding my symptoms, in conjunction with a physical examination, diagnosed me with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or simply put, Runner's Knee.  Essentially, it refers to pain behind the knee cap occurring from knee over-use and / or misalignment.  Apparently, it does not help at all that I was born flat-footed.

He also instructed that I get a knee X-ray, after which he confirmed my suspicion that I do have osteoarthritis of the knee.  Life is swell, isn't it?

To further sweeten the deal, he told me 'no running, just do the elliptical, bike or swim'.  Sure, that's easy.  Except that I don't swim (am terrified of the water so don't go telling me it's not too late to learn) and I don't think I can afford an elliptical machine right now and I also don't have a bike.  Frankly, the treadmill has been my best friend where it comes to exercise and weight loss, not to mention that I have completely fallen in love with running!  

Oh and did I mention that the good doctor managed to casually advise that losing more weight would benefit my knees?  Duh!....You say this now after telling me I am not allowed to pursue my favorite work out routine??!  Really??  Thank you for making my life so easy for me!!  

At this point, my only real motivation in following my doctor's instructions is the thought of healing as quickly as possible so that I can once again manage to run on my treadmill.  I am on pain medication and have been given exercises to strengthen my thigh muscles.  I hope the healing comes sooner than much later.

More than anything, I'm realizing that I am getting old.  I see it on my face, my eyes, my skin, the lines and spots, the feeling on my joints.  But I'm also realizing that beyond these external manifestations of aging, things inside me have also changed a lot through the years.  

I have somewhat mellowed in the 'being right' department.  More and more I find that it matters less to me that people don't agree with my thoughts and perspectives.  The art of agreeing to disagree has truly grown on me since my late 20's and though I don't claim to have completely mastered it, the practice certainly feels more natural now, more effortless.  After countless impassioned arguments in my past, I now know better than to impose my truth on others.  What I see more clearly now is that a lot of times, people merely confuse the need to be right with the need to be heard.  That is all.  

Another change I've noticed is that I find that I've also managed to significantly tame the urge to over-explain and give details.  (And believe me, it took me a long time to get here).  I see the wisdom in choosing silence when appropriate and have come to accept the fact that somehow, somewhere, someone will always want more information, but that can never guarantee deeper understanding, nor arriving at a single 'truth' (which can be so relative to begin with).  In my age, it's okay to leave people in the dark.  It's okay to not offer all the information you have.  For all I know, no one is wondering and even if they were, my boundaries are what are most important to me.  It is not my duty to make everyone else comfortable all the time.  If the lack of information or my silence causes them discomfort, that's their problem, not mine.  I'm too old and tired to worry about everyone around me.  That's certainly one benefit of aging.  Your lens are so much clearer now for seeing who your real significant others are...the select few who are truly entitled to information.

In connection with being asked for details or offering information in the spirit of clarifying something, another thing that shows I've definitely 'aged' is that I now know that to be understood is not as important as I once thought. Until about three years ago, the need to be understood was so important to me that the thought of having even just one significant person not getting my point or accepting my reality pained me.  It would then cause me much frustration and a sense of alienation, making me wonder about which part of my reality is so hard to accept.  Then I got tired of it all.  The realization hit me.  Sometimes, you just need to accept the futility in situations, make peace with it and move on.  In the end, the only real person who needs to be on board with what you believe in is you.  Nobody else. The truth is that there are just certain things in this life that are only meant for you, and not for the world, to understand.  Others not understanding does not invalidate your reality.  And there is no reason to resent others either.  As I said earlier, it may just be enough to be heard.

It is obvious that the common thread here is validation.  I do believe that as one gets older, the fixation or obsession for validation wanes.  You become more sure of yourself, more sure of your mind and of what is in your heart.  You gain more certainty with the paths you choose, more traction with each step, in spite of a bad knee, arthritis and all....  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father's Day Gift

To see your smile and wide bright eyes
Hear your giggles and demanding cries
What I wouldn’t give to see your face
Always and today, this Father’s Day.

Faint shadows of you running around
Playing cheerfully, filling the house with sounds
What I wouldn’t give to hear your calls
Always and today, this Father’s Day.

My world has turned a paler shade
With your absence, my joy chose to fade
To have you back and hold you tight
A priceless gift to me this Father’s Day.

You might not just yet fully understand
Why I’m not there with you holding your hand
But know that I think of you and wish you’d stayed
Give meaning to me and my Father’s Day.

To loving fathers all over the world, who, for whatever reason, are unable to fully celebrate this day, this poem is for you.  May the love you feel for your children be enough to affirm that you are and will always be a Father worthy to be honored and celebrated on this day and always...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Running Shoes Chronicle: Warning Signs

Pain threshold.

The body always knows when something is wrong.  We may choose to ignore it, or delay our response to it, but I believe that pain always finds a way to make itself known. 

My left knee has not been doing so well lately.  As a result, I’ve been restricting myself to doing no incline at all on the treadmill and taking it really really s…l……o…..w…….l…………y.  A physical therapist friend advised me not to run unless there is absolutely no pain but I must admit that I'm not that willing to comply.  I just find it utterly difficult to walk for just 10 minutes, no incline and no faster than 1.5m/hr.  Those were her instructions.  However, I know that the boredom will drive me insane.  Stubborn me, what can I say? 

This morning, when I hopped on the treadmill, I really wanted to be good so I made up my mind to just do it for 15minutes, no incline and really pay attention to my body.  But then after 3minutes, I could no longer help myself.  I had to run.  Not too fast though.  I kept it at 4.5mph, no more than that.  It felt great to be able to run again, to feel my heart beating faster, to feel a few beads of sweat forming, to bounce with the rhythm of my music (yes, it’s still Dido I’m afraid).  I felt liberated!  But then that all too familiar sensation started creeping in again.

Uh-oh, it’s back…that ‘you-better-stop-now-if-you-want-to-still-be-able-to-do-this-again’ thought and feeling.  Ok, ok…so the doctor also told me that running is no longer on the menu….EVER… to which I responded, “Seriously?”, which really translates to, “You do know that I will selectively perceive your term ‘order’ to only mean ‘recommendation’, right?”  (And now I hope he is not reading this).

The way we respond to the sensation of pain or discomfort is a function of our perception of the level of pain we have.  To choose to keep pushing in spite of the objective presence of pain could mean any of the following:

(   1)    That you enjoy pain;
(   2)    That though you may not enjoy the pain, you think you deserve it;
(   3)    That you are in denial, thinking that the pain is but imagined;
(   4)    That you acknowledge the pain but keep thinking that it will just magically go away    
          soon enough and way before any real damage could be done;
(   5)    That you think you are invincible

( If you all must know, I go back and forth between 4 and 5).

   The thing you need to remember about pain is that it's not very forgiving when it comes to being ignored. Depending on your threshold, it's really only a matter of time before pain screams at you to say it will no longer take 'No' for an answer.  It needs to be acknowledged and can be very persistent.  It can be worse than a jealous mistress or lover needing your attention and doing everything in its power to get noticed.  And really it wants only one thing, and that is to be understood.  When you find that you can no longer keep ignoring your pain, the wise thing to do is to not simply try to rid yourself of it, but to know the underlying reason for it.  Only then can you intelligently treat it and come up with a realistic strategy on how to manage it and heal yourself.
     Be grateful for pain for it warns us that something is not right.  It might be hard to admit this but we need pain and it does serve a very important purpose.  We really just have to learn to accept it, befriend it and trust that it is genuinely on our side.  What it really is, is a reminder for self-preservation.  If you say 'no' to that, then you obviously need to do more digging within yourself, not to mention taking not just pain medication but maybe also anti-depressants?  Just a thought.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

WANTED: Three 'Hunks'

I’ve been catching the movie Independence Day on television recently.    And since I’m a sucker for such movies (the whole E.T. visitation plot), I keep watching said movie every time I see it appearing on the T.V. guide. 

If you recall, there are three main characters in this film:  Bill Pullman’s (President Whitmore); Jeff Goldblum’s (David Levinson); and Will Smith’s (Capt. Steven Hiller).  Interestingly, as I watched the movie, I realized that in most, if not all, doomsday or apocalyptic films, you will find the same characters over and over (think  2012The Day After Tomorrow, and I'm sure you can come up with countless other films featuring these three)

There will always be the politician / legitimate social authority figure; the scientist / source of legitimate information; and the soldier / muscle man / action guy.

No one really likes the politician so much.  For the most part, just as in real life, this is the  character that talks, talks, talks, takes too long to make decisions in efforts to please everyone and weigh every single consideration there is even when choices are crystal clear (breathe)….and sadly, though the fate of the world rests on his decisions (yes, for the most part this is played by men), he’s the character that doesn’t really have any balls.  However, his usefulness mainly lies on the legitimacy of his role in mobilizing people and resources, hence making things 'happen', in some detached, 'I-am-not-dirtying-my-hands' kind of way.

Then there’s the science guy, the one who makes the key discovery and holds the information that can save mankind.  We can also call him the Brain, the one who really understands what's going on and sees the big picture.  It is this guy's commitment to truth and knowledge that truly saves the day.  Most often than not, some kind of friction always exists between the Brain and the Politician, with the former hating the indecisiveness of the latter.  

Finally, we have Mr. Soldier, Muscleman, Action guy or simply put, the Brawn. This is the character that doesn't really care much about rules and politics. He reacts from the gut and is clear about having a singular mission....saving the day! He cannot be bothered by scientific mumbo-jumbo, not by any bureaucratic entanglements.  He knows what needs to be done and tries to execute the plan (if there is any) as swiftly and as altruistically as possible.  Simply put, this is our traditional idea of a 'hero'.

So what is to be learned from the recurrence of these three characters?  I suppose the point is that inasmuch as we'd like to do away with one, say for instance, just kill the politician or don't even include him altogether, we all know there is a reason he is there and much as we'd hate to admit it, he is just as important as the other two.  

The fact is, 'saving the day' requires a delicate balance.  

You need to be able to charm people, be charismatic enough to get the resources you need, as well as willing cooperation from others, just as much as you need intelligence and a good amount of information to come up with a firm strategy.  And of course, always, you need a respectable amount of action and the ability to show real balls. Execution is necessary and it always helps to follow your gut and to rely on that internal compass telling you where to go regardless of what may seem normative.  The bottom line is that a degree of innovation is always the key if you truly want to make a difference and save the day!

There may be no alien invasions or huge catastrophes right now, but the next time your day needs saving one way or the other, try to cast your three trusty friends above by summoning them from within.  Then you'd really be kicking a**!

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