Items Of Interest #5

This is once again my take on some of the items that I have run across this week. I wish to share them with you:

The Bullet Journal is a very interesting note taking markup system along the lines of my dash/plus system. I prefer mine of course but there are some interesting ideas going on here, including having an index page and his innovative solution for having a calendar. Plus, the website is slickly designed. Well worth checking out.

Austin Kleon’s recent post on keeping one’s overhead low is still resonating with me even as after I read it. I’ve long tried to articulate the idea that doing with less means having more freedom to do what you ant to do. Here, he captures it perfectly in just a few short paragraphs.

Speaking of freedom, J.D. Bentley recently shared his experience living in a land where you are naive of the culture and speak little of the language and the freedom that can come when you are forced to let your ego and self-expectations go. Beautifully written as usual from J.D (who remains one of my favorite writers).

I’m all signed up for the Big Gay Race 5K again this year. If you are in the Twin Cities area you should come run it with me and support a good cause (the continuing fight against hatred and bigotry despite landmark legislative victories like the right for all Minnesotans to marry). The early bird registration is only $25.00 and includes a free t-shirt.

I’m a big fan of packing light. Here is a nice account with some great tips of someone packing to travel to and live in Northern China for a year. He’s going over to teach English. A good lesson in figuring out what really is essential.

By the way, I’ve writen his entire post using Editorial — a fantastic new text editor for the iPad. I’m still getting my head around all the things it can do. This write up and review at Macdrifter, along with the nicely done videos Gabe included, were a big help. Suffice it to say that a new bar has been set in iPad text editors and this is now the one to beat. Especially if you use Markdown. Simply fantastic.

That’s all I have for now. Enjoy your weekend.


I came across this question as I was driving around today. Not in an especially prominent place. Tucked away. Spray painted on the back of a warehouse on a less travelled road. It challenged me. I felt as if all those who happen upon it, those fortunate few, owe it to the asker to answer. My first answer: It’s likely been too long.

This got me thinking about signs and messages in general. What if such prompts for introspection were ubiquitous? What if we replaced every street sign with a call to action or opportunity for reflection. It could be called propupganda — messages designed to "prop up" one’s self-esteme. Would it make a difference in the way we see things? Would it make a difference in the way we treat each other? Or would these just blend in and be ignored. The same way we so easily ignore the mundane beauty that surrounds us daily. Would we rush pass signs like this and leave them unnoticed in the same way we rush past the beauty of the morning dew that has fallen on the lawn overnight. Unnoticed because getting to the where-we-go always seems to be more important than the where-we-are.

I’m in some ways glad this message is rare and off the beaten path. It makes the impact on those that notice it that much more appreciated. Here, in my rushing, I was stopped in my tracks and asked to reflect. And now my answer is: Right here, right now, I took the time to notice this. And, thus, my self is the better for doing so.

Habit Forming

Yesterday, I went on my first run after ten weeks of not doing so. Yep. Ten whole weeks.

About, eleven weeks ago, I went on my last long run of training for the Minneapolis Half Marathon. I set out for a two hour run and went 12.5 miles. It was a bit of a slog after I hit a wall at about mile nine. But, that was the same place I hit a wall in my first half-marathon so that was OK. I now know where that wall is. After I made it back home I was a bit sore but still felt like I had a bit more “left in the tank” and felt good about my overall time and pacing.

Then, after a few days of recovery my shins were still pretty sore. I began to get worried so I decided to go for a very short run to work out the kinks and see how I felt. Well, every step felt like my shins were on fire. I barely ran a mile like this and, at the point of tears from the pain, I walked home. I spent the next two days massaging with a couple of rollers, icing, modifying my nutrition, and just about every other tip I could find to see if I could fix it. The day before the marathon, I decided to try that same short run to see if I could make it. Same problem. I was certain it was shin splints. This is a common injury for those who have tried to increase their running distance too fast (as I had done). And, though I had paid the registration fee and picked up my race packet, I decided right then to bow out of the race. It was for the best.

I knew it would take a few weeks of babying my shins to heal. Resting, icing, massaging, stretching, etc. All of which I did. It was going to be a pain in the ass because I really had worked hard to form a routine — a habit — of running. I knew a couple of weeks off meant that I would spend every two to three days with the urge to go for a run. I also knew that, once I got back out there, I would need to take my time and be careful not to make the same mistake twice. All I would have to do is to fight that urge until I was well rested and healed. Then just give into it when the time came. It would still be there if I healed up soon enough. Which was the plan.

But then, two to three weeks became three to four. I always put it off to tomorrow. Then each tomorrow became just another tomorrow. And, each time I said tomorrow it became easier to say it again when tomorrow came. And, soon enough, I had formed a new habit…

A not-running habit. A tomorrow habit.

I had spent a good month or so when I started running coaxing myself to put on the shoes and get out the door. But, each time it required less and less coaxing. Until, eventually, I did it naturally because I had formed a running habit. Not running was not an option becuase I got a nagging feeling every time the time came to run.

Well, what I discovered is that one can form habits in the opposite direction as well. And, they work just like forming any other habit. The more you say no the easier it becomes to say it again.

This is true in other areas of our life too. That task on your list you keep putting off will become easier and easier to put off until, eventually, you form a “putting that particular task off” habit. That dream you keep talking about pursuing but never do, eventually becomes a “talking about it but never chasing the dream” habit. You get the idea.

The only way to break any habit is to eat that frog and replace it with a new one.

So, yesterday, I decided I needed to replace and rebuild my running habit. I refused to let it be just another tomorrow again. After so much time off, I would need to form the habit all over again. And the only way to start was to strap on my shoes, get out the door, and go.

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