Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Show, Don't Tell

'Actions speak louder than words.' 'Show, don't tell.' These are basically the same thing and are phrases I live by.  I have also come to truly believe that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it. In other words, bad things will happen but what do you do after? Do you pick yourself up and keep on moving forward?  Or do you let whatever happened end up defining who you are as a person from then on?
I will speak in terms of a breakup or end of any sort of relationship. If it ends badly naturally you would rather not interact with that person if at all possible. How far do you go to achieve that? If you work together do you leave your job? If you live together do you move out? Sometimes it's very easy to not see a person if you put your mind to it, sometimes it's not so easy and you must either suffer or make a difficult choice.
Today I made a choice but it is not as dramatic as switching jobs or moving out. However, the action will make this seem more dramatic. I switched gyms which in and of itself is hardly a blip on life's radar. The meaning behind it will not be lost on those closest to me though. I am leaving the supposed 'best' gym in my area to go to an average gym. It's cheaper and closer to home which is great but it'll be a step down for sure. I am doing this to make sure I have no interaction with a specific person who frequents that old gym, and who actually is the one that got me to switch there 2 years ago. 
What this means in more relatable terms to most people is I would rather have something less and be happy than have the best but be miserable.  Choosing something less to effectively remove someone from your life is a very powerful statement.  It is the age old debate between 'holding on' and 'letting go.' In order to go further in my life I must be willing to let go of whatever causes me pain and distraction. The gym is really only a metaphor for a greater statement. Maybe my actions will finally show this person how much hurt they caused, probably not. I am doing this for me and my future. The only way to begin a new chapter is to end the old one first. So with one small change I have closed a chapter, tomorrow we begin anew.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Treadmill As A Metaphor Pt. 1: Who I Was

Treadmill As A Metaphor: Who I Was 

A treadmill normally refers to a machine that runners, such as myself, use to stay active when it is either too cold or the weather is too severe to run outside. However it can also be a metaphor that writers such as myself use to describe the feeling of being stuck in place and not getting anywhere. The latter is how I am using 'treadmill' for this post.
I received a book deal during the summer of 2011. It was an amazing and exciting culmination of over 6 years of nearly nonstop work. I had basically forgone having a social life for so long, replacing that with the process of brainstorming, plotting, writing, editing, and self publishing ebooks of all shapes and sizes. I shared my work through Amazon's Kindle store but also ended up getting linked to companies like Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, and the defunct Borders. Sure it was difficult, sometimes thankless, sometimes tedious, and at some points it felt as though I was simply throwing darts at a board in the dark. I never knew if anyone was even seeing what I had done.
Thomas Edison had a famous quote that I used to keep me going. He said, 'Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.' I kept telling myself that all I needed was for the right set of eyes to fall upon one piece of my work just one time and that would be all I needed to make it all worthwhile. So I kept on going, writing children's books, suspenseful short stories, collecting old poetry into anthologies. I was trying to create a sort of buffet of work so that I'd have something for all types of readers.
The idea of travel writing, which would incorporate my love of writing along with photography and travel did not come organically. It came as a sort of defense mechanism. When my Nana died just after Christmas in 2009 I did not want to deal with the grief and did not want to feel that pain. I would routinely get into my car and drive off, going to places that did not remind me of her. While there I would shoot some photos and generally feel better about things. I began to seek out specific places in towns nearby to write about and combine them all into articles I posted on Blogspot entitled 'In My Footsteps.'
My goal was to give the reader a complete picture of what I saw, where I was, and what I felt. These articles became a passion/obsession. Each one was time spent away from grieving for my Nana and ended up being a new creative spark that excited me. 
During the first few months of 2010 I was on the road a ton since I had the entirety of New England to visit, shoot, and write about. I must have posted thirty articles during the spring. I was doing it more for me and my own sanity but I also thought that if others enjoyed what I was sharing that was a plus.
The places I traveled to eventually got further away and I was able to spend some amazing days and nights in spots I will never forget. Driving into the White Mountains in New Hampshire at sunset was almost surreal while the moment I stepped foot into Gloucester, Massachusetts cemented it as my favorite town in New England.  However, the 24-Hour period in which I watched the sunset from the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine and then drove out to West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine might rank as the best 24 hours of my life. It was after that trip that I decided that travel writing was what I wanted to do and was meant to do. All I needed was a break.
I got that break through a Facebook friend whose book I spotted on the shelves at a Barnes & Noble in the Cape Cod Mall.  I asked her how she got it published and she put me in touch with her publisher.  After detailing my plans for a Cape Cod travel guide in an email I crossed my fingers and hoped the publisher would like what I was selling.
I remember sitting at West Dennis Beach on a warm July evening having just finished eating in my car. It was just an average summer night until my phone rang with an unfamiliar number.  On the other end was the publishing company and what they said changed my life forever. They loved the idea of my Cape Cod travel guide and wanted to publish it! All I could do was thank them and try my best to contain the squeals of joy I wanted to let out.  Once we set up another time to discuss more details I hung up and ran up onto the sand dunes and simply said 'Yes!' I held my arms outstretched and smiled as wide as I could. After so many years of working nonstop toward a dream that at times felt like it might never happen I had finally received the break I had so desperately wished for. No matter where I went from that moment I would always be a published author.

-Part 2 Still to come...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sunset Running

The growing silence and changing colors in the sky. There is nothing quite like a good sunset run. I will many times use my running as a sort of meditation to think about any problems I am having in my life; the atmosphere created during a sunset run only enhances this.  Personally I enjoy either runs along the beaches or the solitude of bike trails, today I utilized a bike trail running through a local golf course. The lowering sun filtering through the surrounding trees was magnificent and helped to create a sort of moment where it became less about the actual running and more about the feeling of total peace inside. I knew my feet were moving, rapidly I might add, but things felt much slower in my mind. It's runs like these that make me so glad that I discovered this passion.  Sure, I could go and walk and see the same sights but the added bonus of burning a thousand calories makes running all the better choice. I am so lucky to live in an area like Cape Cod where there is never a shortage of beautiful running routes to get lost in.  These are the types of runs I mention when explaining to non-runners why I do what I do. Even better I take photos of the beauty I see and share them with anybody; they always seem to entice even the staunchest non-runner to 'maybe' give it a try.
Today was 8 1/2 miles of meditation, a chance to rid my mind of any negative thoughts that had crept in during the day. I'm a runner, so naturally running is my meditation. I am sure however many people have other passions that double as chances to meditate. Fishing, music, painting, I am sure there are many others I'm missing but the end result is the same.
Do any of you runners enjoy sunset runs? Do you get to the same meditative state that I have been talking about?
Along Bass River in West Dennis, Ma.