Saturday, September 4, 2010

Winning the Game (Set & Match) of Life

Did I mention that my work commute is 50 miles each way?  It's a journey that can take an hour or two or three.  It all depends on day, time, weather, and how much the universe wants to screw with me at any particular moment. 

Thank goodness for podcasts.  I have a few special favorites:
     * Get-It-Done Guy
     * Grammar Girl
     * Car Talk
     * NPR Fresh Air (as well as All Things Considered, This American Life, etc.)
     * The Onion Radio News

My fabulous pod friends help pass the time whilst also teaching me how to "work less and do more" and how not to butcher the English language.  (Mind you I am known to break the rules intentionally.  Creative license and all that.)  Thanks to podcasts, I also know what to do when my 'check engine' light comes on and am fairly current on the world around me, both real and satirical. 

It's a beautiful thing indeed.  Particularly since drinking while driving is illegal.  I need something to keep my mind off the long parade of brake lights, horn honking and other related annoyances.

So, yesterday I was wading in an endless sea of cars, all also heading north for the long Labor Day weekend.  I found myself fantasizing about a world where there is a "fast lane" for people who actually need to get home vs. those who are in no real hurry except to swim, cook meat and drink beer all weekend. 

I'll admit it. I struggled to stay in my happy place.  I'm only human ya know.

Luckily, Terry Gross at NPR came to my rescue with a Fresh Air rebroadcast.  Perhaps technically a rebroadcast podcast; a 2009 interview with Andre Agassi.  (I'm tempted to clarify "the tennis star" after his name but seriously, who doesn't know that?)

Although I never read his memoir Open, I remember the swirl around the drugs, the pain and the myriad of relationships, including his overly-driven father and one Blue Lagoon actress.  And of course, the hairpiece which always makes me think of Gallagher, who had a similar pseudo-coiffure.

In retrospect, I may have even heard this specific interview when it aired the first time.  The ol' brain cells just aren't what they used to be so it's hard to say for sure. 

Yet, one piece of the conversation really piqued my interest this time around.  (This is not to be confused with having my interest "peaked" or "peeked."  Thanks Grammar Girl!)  

Agassi was talking about his coach, Gil, whom he described as both his physical trainer and his "soul trainer."  (Love that!)   Early on, Gil questioned why Andre was doing the kind of training he was doing.  Specially, why he was running five miles a day when the game of tennis was about constant starting and stopping; a totally different set of skills and muscle conditioning.   Gil got him to start focusing on working the muscles and skills which were in alignment with the game he wanted to win.

It made me think about the kind of fitness conditioning I do every day.  (Yes, I am using the phrase "every day" very loosely.)  Does my workout routine align with the needs of my life?  I don't play tennis or any sport for that matter but even normal life has physical demands.    For example, I need to have enough energy to work 15 hours straight if needed, be able to sit without back pain for long periods of time and lift / carry a fifty pound child.   Sometimes two. 

I also have this weird goal to live and enjoy said heavy children for as many years as possible.  

To achieve my goals, I clearly need to engage in activities which build endurance, core strength and overall health.

Although Agassi was talking about physical conditioning, you don't have to be Oprah to make the connection about how this applies to the mental, spiritual and emotional as well. 

In my life balance methodology, "Personal Strategic Management" my mantra is that true life balance is internal.

That means that my thoughts, words and actions all need to be in alignment.   For example, if I exercise an hour a day but then look in the mirror and say, "Holy crap, my legs look like cottage cheese!" or "I am SO tired. Look at these bags!"  Not in alignment. 

It's kinda like drinking a diet coke with a donut. 

Tying it back to the Agassi thing... what I say, think and feel has to be working towards the "muscle tone" of my mental health and happiness, in the same way that my fitness routine needs to meet the physical demands of my life.

So, food for thought: 
   Do the activities you engage in every day support your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual goals? 
   Do your thoughts, feelings, words and actions put you in the position to win at the game of life?

Carpe diem,
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Victoria said...

Ooh good one! I like it! :-D
Never thought about it in that way, but it totally makes sense... I must say I feel I am fairly good at aligning the physical and emotional - was out running yesterday in a new area and absolutely loved it! Was smiling all the way and even had energy to jump up in the air and scream "wuhuu"!! And afterwards I looked in the mirror and told myself "wow, you look good, healthy and happy"! And that is mostly why I exercise...

I find the hardest is to position my thoughts, cos I tend to be very sarcastic in my words and thoughts, as in saying to myself "yeah right, that was great!" -but in a sarcastic way. And I don't know if its as powerful and efficient then... I am trying to listen more to my thoughts and change the negative thoughts to positive ones, but they run so fast sometimes its hard to keep up! :-D

Thanks for another great post!

DanniiBeauty said...

Great post - there is definitely lots to think about. I try to remain positive and think that everything I do will help me achieve what I want. I have my lazy days, but always try to pick up and start new!

Thanks for commenting on my blog! I am now following yours!

Di said...

Thought-provoking post. I really enjoyed it. In my case, I need to focus on aligning my emotional/mental game to my fitness strategy. Most days they're in sync..sometimes I take a downward turn and have to be ready to catch myself, redirect my energy, and stay on track.
We also share a long commute in common (I go about 52 miles one way). Will have to check out the podcasts you mentioned. Typically, I keep audio books, a Rosetta Stone series, and a really good music playlist on hand. Tends to do the trick but always welcome variety.

Charlene said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate such thoughful comments - Thanks!

Victoria - I tend to be sarcastic as well so I know what you mean! I love the "wahuu!!"

Dannii - There are always ebbs and flows but I figure if we're being positive more times than not, we're doing well!

Di - Don't you love that 100+ mi per day commute too? LOL! Audiobooks are the best - usually even better than reading them if the reader is really good. Check out The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I ended up sitting in my work parking lot just so I could hear more! :-)

Judy Harper said...

Hmm-I do the right activities for all but the physical. I'm trying to get back into my physical. Have you ever noticed that it's so easy to avoid the physical activity or get sidetracked.

Charlene said...

Yeah - it's pretty easy to get sidetracked for sure!

TC said...

You are SO right. So right. I wish I had grammar girl, I listen to PBS ALL the time though. I thought I had it rough with a 25 mile commute one way but my job was not nearly as interesting. Now I can work in my pj's and make even less. LOL

Sarah said...

For me it's a constant struggle so thanks for the reminder. There's this little voice in me, no matter how many times I try to tell it to beat it, always seems to be saying otherwise. I do a little meditation while walking but obviously not enough. BTW, love "car talk" and "wait wait don't tell me."

Charlene said...

TC - here you go!

Sarah - reminders are always good... I think that's why this interview struck such a chord with me. And of course I think you are awesome! :-)

Serene @ MomFood said...

The idea of life being a game to be won just isn't the way I look at things, nor am I hyperfocused on goals. Mostly, I just live my life, and pursue joy and goodness, and when I die, I really think it will be after truly living well.

Unplanned Cooking said...

So true. I find it easier to make changes (e.g. lose weight) while making a mental/spiritual shift as well.

Ms. Mayra said...

Ooohh I love him!! I play tennis and he's one of my faves. =]

i completely understand this and definitely agree alignment is very important. It's like when you're trying to achieve something, whether is losing weight or being more productive but you have second thoughts on if you really can do it.

I feel like my state of mind helps me everyday. I don't workout as much as I should but playing tennis a lot helps me carry my little one. I'm short so it can feel harder than it actually is. My self assurance that I can do it is aligned with what I have to do.

Loved this post! said...

Great post - my hubby is a big podcast fan... he has a shorter commute than you, but part of it is on a transit bus, so he's also learning all sorts of new things... I have to say that my balance is totally off lately as my pregnancy advances and I'm less able to do the things in my normal routine without major modification ... and that's throwing my whole family dynamic out of whack... but this perspective may help us to weather the next few months... thanks for sharing!

Crystal Escobar said...

Good for you for multitasking and learning something new by listening to podcasts in traffic. Those ones you mentioned sound great! I love listening to audios.

Charlene said...

Serene - I think that's a great attitude! Love it!

Unplanned - Exactly the point! You get me! ;-)

Mayra - I wondered if I'd get any tennis players! I used to play and it is definitely a great workout.

Heather - you'll have to ask hubby which podcasts he likes; I'm always looking for new ones. All the best with your pregnancy!

Crystal - I do a lot of audiobooks as well. Currently listening to "Nineteen Minutes" by Jodi Picoult.

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