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My Key to a Relentless Positive Attitude: Part 145

This is not going to be an easy post to take – especially if you’re a negative person who likes to blame your problems on others…  Good luck!

Positivism doesn’t happen on it’s own.  I didn’t wake up this morning and realize my life was spectacular enough that I can now go about being a happy positive guy.  Shit just doesn’t work like that.  For anyone.

There are constant forces at work to drag us down, right?  People who wrong us and make us angry?  People, places or things that make us this, or make us feel that?

Well yes there are, but they only count for anything if I want to be dragged down.  And stay down.  That isn’t me.

The trick to relentless positivism

I have to completely divorce myself from the outside world when it comes to concentrating my energy on my attitude.  The second “you” enter my train of thought, I’m pooched.  People, places and things are entirely out of my control.  It’s not about how the outside world is, but how I perceive it and how I then, in turn, react to it.

My positivism is not an accident….

If you’ve been following along for any length of time, you know I was working on a difficult project a couple of hours’ commute from my house.  Each way.  We were given a target date when the owner was going to start moving furniture in.  My boss, just back in April, confided in me that he thought it was an impossible goal, that it wasn’t going to happen – there was no way the owners would be moving in on time.

My team beat the date by three weeks.  It’s been an ugly process getting there, but we’re there. We blew the budget, of course, because you can have something built fast, built well, and built inexpensively… you only get to pick two.  The owner picked fast and built well and we delivered.  It cost an arm and a leg.

I gave that job everything I had, every day.  I didn’t miss a minute of work, not even to have a crown fixed that I’d accidentally loosened on a Jujyfruit the day before I was to start – I put that crown back on and ate on the other side of my mouth until I had an open vacation day four months later that I used to go to the dentist.  There were several days I’d have to stop at a rest area on the way home to take a nap because I was getting too tired to drive safely.  I had only had three waking hours a day for my family.  My wife and kids got to a point they told me they missed me… but I still took that job by the horns and I made it my bitch.  One day at a time.

On my last day, several of the foremen from the other subcontractors told me how much they were going to miss my positive attitude on the job, that I was a light on that site.

Folks, that four months (and some change) out of my life was hard.  My car broke down twice, I had that tooth issue, my glasses broke, my phone was stolen, the owner’s management team rode us like red-headed rented mules… there were a dozen other little things that could have brought me down but I didn’t budge.  I just kept motoring ahead, one day at a time, with my eye on the prize.

My friends, not letting that outside stuff get to me was, plain and simple, a choice.  At each opportunity to fail or fold, I thought to myself, “Is this the thing that you let bring you down?”  Each time I answered “F*** NO.”  I became so relentlessly positive that I got strength from making the choice to stay positive, to keep winning.  Just the act of acknowledging the difficulty and that I wasn’t going to let it break me made me stronger, more resolute.  More positive.

It wasn’t always easy.  I wasn’t perfect.  There were times the drive really got to me.  The look on my wife’s face when she said she and the girls missed me… driving down to work without my glasses was scary as hell (my eyes are not bad enough I couldn’t pass the State’s eye test – my driver’s license did not require corrective lenses, I’d just gotten so used to seeing perfectly…).  One particular time, when my team and I were on the hot seat to get some critical work done and we were struggling to produce, that one almost got me.  I quieted up for two days… but then I realized what I was doing to myself and I asked that most important question.  “Will this be the thing I let bring me down?”

I bounced back the next day.

I have a choice of whether or not I will let an event or another person bring me down.  Every single day.  I don’t know what God’s plan for me is, but if my past is any indicator, He’s got some big plans and I’m going to have a lot of fun fulfilling them.  Either I can get on with it, or I can curl up in a ball on the floor and stick my thumb in my mouth.  It’s my choice.

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20190709_071432That stack of drywall you see under the bridge is all we’ve got left on a job that needed more than 2,000,000 sf.  That’s it.  There’s so little remaining to do, I’ve worked myself right out of the job – there’s nothing to gain by having full-time project manager-level supervision on site anymore so I was sent back to the office to save money.

I don’t have to be perfect, or mistake-free.  I don’t have to be the best, or the strongest.  I just have to give it my best and care about what I do.  I have to choose to remain positive.  The key to being positive is choosing to be positive, and refusing to let my negative thoughts get in my way.

I can choose to quit and ball up in the fetal position tomorrow.  As long as I remember that tomorrow never gets here.

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How to Upload a New Route to Your Garmin Using Ride With GPS

If you’re trying to use apps to get routes to your Garmin, you’re likely frustrated.  I was.  Or maybe I was doing it wrong and I just lost patience…  If you’re like me, relax, this is going to be simple. This takes about five minutes, once you know what you’re doing… so, about the second time.

First, open the Ride With GPS route in a web browser on a computer, and after you’ve created a free account. Export the route to a .fit file (that extension is said to work best for Garmin). Download the file to an easy location to access on your computer (I have a folder for this purpose). Plug in your Garmin and open the drive in a folder to view files. Open Garmin, then Courses… that’s where you drag and drop the new file into your Garmin.

Now, I use my laptop for this if I have a good wifi connection. If I don’t, my tablet or phone both work fantastically, as long as I use the browser rather than the app to open the RWGPS route. Also, I transfer the file from my phone to my laptop, then to my Garmin, but that’s just a USB chord connection.

TNCR: A Hot Time in the Old Town, Tonight Edition

Michigan leaves a lot to be desired.  Our summers are rather short, our winters tend to be a little on the long side, but we do have vast webs of paved roads that receive little traffic.  Our Tuesday Night Club Ride is a great example.  First, I’m sure the locals are accustomed to us by now, but if we get passed by three cars in 30 miles, it’s a pretty busy night.  Come summertime, the wind also dies down to where we won’t even have a breeze some days.  This past week we only had one day where the wind even approached 10-mph.  Otherwise, we were down at 3 to 6-mph.

On Tuesday night, with no wind, you can always bet it’ll be a fast night.  Last night was no exception.

We rolled out just 30 seconds after the A Group and it got lively in a hurry.  I was up front with Mike and his wife, Diane on a tandem.  They’re solid and over the course of our 1.3 mile turn up front we took the speed from an easy 20-mph up to 24 before we took a right turn and headed to the back for a rest.  The remainder of the night was a blur except for the dreaded Shipman Road.  What little breeze there was, right in our face.  Things got a little chippy with some of the weaker riders having a tough time keeping a predictable pace – I was taking short turns up front, but I always tried to get the pace back up over 22 (if riding is chippy, the best thing to do is speed up, not slow down).

After Shipman, though, things seemed to settle down and the speed picked up and stabilized.  Stable, fast speeds with little wind makes for good drafting.  I got rotated to the front a little more than I’d have liked and the sprints were a complete mess (the first one was my fault – I chased after a guy I knew would flame out way before the City Limits sign at 30-ish mph, and I was right.  With a quarter-mile to go, I was out front.  I pushed the pace and left the sign to one of the faster guys who blew right by me.

The final sprint was a bit of a different story, with the same result.  With a half-mile to go, at 26.6-mph, I was the lead out with a train of strong riders behind me.  I took the pace to near 30 (48 km/h) and held it till I was cooked and arm-flicked out.  Some times I’m the sprinter, sometimes I’m the lead out, it is what it is.

We rolled over the line with a solid 22.1-mph (35 km/h) average for the 28-ish mile route.

It was all hi-fives and laughs back in the parking lot… and my work is all but done down in Kalamazoo, so I didn’t have to pack up and hurry home after the ride.

And I got to sleep in this morning.  Oh, was it wonderful.  More later.

Surviving Hell on Earth was a Lesson in Perspective. At the Time It Sucked, but It Turned Out to Be the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me.

Nowadays we sell struggle. And pain. And blood and guts. We sell anguish and anger.

My alcoholic, and subsequent recovery, story isn’t anything all that special.  Sure, I got in some trouble and I was facing some serious time for crimes I played a small bit role in, but I’m typically what you call a “high bottom” drunk.  I quit way before things got really bad.

I didn’t do too many hard drugs.  I never shot up.  I never whored myself out to cover my tab with the dealer.  I was never really homeless, if I was close a time or two.  I caught a break going through intensive out-patient treatment when a doctor ran some intake tests on my liver and they came back really bad.  At 22 I had the “liver of a 60-year-old chronic alcoholic”.  He said I’d likely be dead of cirrhosis by 30… if I even made it that long.  I drank for another year, but eventually I arrived at the obvious conclusion; I was f***ed.

The 26-year journey from the day I quit has been, at times, a serious struggle.  My first year was a bitch… until they told me that year was a gift – and I found out what, exactly, that meant.  They were right, it was.

After five years, the fog started to lift.  The clouds broke around ten.  At fifteen, it was partly cloudy.  At twenty, the sun was shining.  And at 25, it warmed up in the sunshine.

I truly believe the hardest days of my life are behind me.  The hardest thing I’ll ever do was done at 23-years-old.  Or perhaps, let’s say that if I choose to stay on my current path in life, the hardest thing I’ll ever do was done at the ripe old age of 23…  Should I decide to firmly implant my head in my ass again and drink, the hardest thing will become quitting again.  I know I’ve got another drink in me, I don’t know about another recovery.

So here’s the trick; everything I am has changed.  I believe my Higher Power (God, in my case) granted me grace.  I did something really good with that grace and quit killing myself, and torturing those who loved me (not an easy task as I was).  My attitude and outlook on life has completely changed.  Completely.  I’m on a path that led from hell on Earth to Heaven, to where I’m truly grateful for every day I’m on the right side of the grass, pumping air.

Getting to the point without getting too deep into the weeds, and to put this in a way that anyone can use, my version of hell was bad enough.  I didn’t have to dig any deeper.  My version doesn’t have to be better than or worse than anyone else’s, what matters is that it was enough to get me to see that, after a whole lot of working to make me a better version of me, each day is a gift.  Even the hard days, because as few as they are, they get me to the good (and vastly more plentiful).  I’ve cleaned up who I am to a point that, instead of continually making and cleaning up messes I make, I’m able to concentrate on something higher.  Something better.  I can concentrate on doing more of what made the sun shine.

Because I’m no longer the drunk who was only capable of doing exactly the wrong thing at any given moment.

At the time I was going through it, my first year sucked.  In two through five, I saw that first one as a glorious gift.

I thought I was doing really well in my fifth year sober, till I made it to ten and looked back – then I realized how hard I’d worked and was entirely thankful to have made it as far as I had.

Then came twenty, and I realized I really hadn’t known much at ten, but I’d made a good start of it – and besides, the sun was really shining now.  Things were really clicking.  My job was good, my marriage was great, the kids were good and doing great things… and my recovery was well spent.

Then I hit twenty-five and I realized I had a lot of room for growth, because in that short five years my life had gotten exponentially better… and I know that if I keep doing the right thing at any given matter, it’ll likely continue to get better.  Quitting drinking really sucked at the time, but when I look back at how I’ve changed, it’s the best sucky thing that’s ever happened to me.

And why wouldn’t it keep getting better?  For twenty-six years, since I started working a program of fixing the train wreck that I was, that’s all that has happened; things got better*.  And if I can do it, anyone can.  There’s an instruction manual.  It’s 164 pages long, and they call it the Big Book.  It just takes some want to.  And therein lies the rub.

Better, you don’t have to be a drunk to use the work in that Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous to better yourself.  Just take the drinking out of the equation.  Step one:  We admitted that we were powerless, that our lives were unmanageable.  Step two:  Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  Step three:  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him… and just keep going.

Powerless over what, you ask?  Who cares?  Do you want to get better or don’t you.  Make a decision and roll with it.  Powerless over being happy.  Start there and build on it.  That’s how it works.

*Not easier.  Better.  Big difference.

And Finally, Some Decent Miles to Go with Summertime (and How Sobriety Factors into the Fun)

On one hand, this summer, if you could call it that until two weeks ago, should have been a YUGE letdown. My miles are down, my weight is slightly up, and the weather has just plain sucked. I haven’t even topped 4,000 miles for the year yet, and I’m liking food way more than I should.

On the other hand, I’m on the job of my career and I’m freaking digging it and the pay has been quite nice.

I don’t know what the rest of this year will hold, but beyond the sacrifices, I’m having fun and I’m happy. And that’s what really matters.

Then, out of nowhere, the best cycling weekend yet this year. It was supposed to rain every day, but the worst we got was a popcorn storm for ten minutes, and never while we were on the bikes.  I could have put in so many more miles, though… 75 on Thursday, 40 Friday, another 56 for Saturday, and we’ve got a 100k on tap for today.  If memory serves, I’d have sprinkled in an 80-100 miler in there and at least one of the 40 or 56 mile rides would have been a 100k.  I’m not that guy this year, though.  For the longest time, I feared I would like cycling less if I let off the gas, if I didn’t try to cram absolutely every last mile in.  I was so wrong; I like it more.

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Because I’m not always trying to push max miles out of every ride, my enjoyment of the sport increased and I enjoy each mile much more.  In the end, there’s still no place I’d rather be than on my bike, and the search still continues for the sucker who’ll pay me to ride it.  I’ll let you know when my luck changes.

In the meantime, it’s just another day in paradise on two wheels.

There once was a time when all I could do was think about how I could escape being miserable.  Every day I’d try to figure out how to game the system so I could have just one more day drunk before the house of cards crumbled under the weight of my poor choices.  Today, 26 years without a drink or a drug, and I’m working on making content and happy, happier.  Talk about a difference that’ll put a smile on your face!

My friends, once I embraced that the hardest thing I would ever do in my life occurred 26 years ago, in quitting drinking (and eventually, smoking), once I realized I’d already been through hell and as long as I keep on the right path, I don’t ever have to go back, life became less about survival and more about enjoyment.

Just for today.  Keep quit, no matter what.  Even if your ass falls off… and in the event it does, put it in a paper bag and take it to a meeting.  They’ll show you how they put theirs back on.  There’s only misery at the bottom of that bottle.  It won’t get better this time.  There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Shit, there’s no rainbow.  Because there’s no sunshine.  Just keep quitting.

A Busted Pair of Glasses and My Experience with Glasses USA and Ordering a Couple of Pairs Online…

Whilst snorkeling at Eden Rock on the Grand Caymen Island, I did something I’d end up regretting: I wrapped up my eyeglasses in my towel and placed it in our locker. Five or six hours later, and about 107 photos, and my wife beat me back to the locker.

After seeing all of what Eden Rock had to offer, we walked down to Sunset house and spent a few hours over there. Sunset had some impressive snorkeling but my sister-in-law and brother-in-law weren’t ready to get out. You can’t get me out of the water, so when they said they wanted to snorkel back rather than walk, I was staying in the water…

With blue like that, I don’t know how I could be expected to get out till the boat was leaving…

Long story short, my wife had gotten into the locker and dropped my glasses on the concrete patio. Then stepped on them to complete the job. They were destroyed. Arm broken off, lenses gouged. Destroyed. I was angry for about two seconds, but the look on her face after she told me what had happened, there was no way I could blame her or stay mad. It was technically my fault anyway. I knew better.

I started at Warby Parker that night but they didn’t have many styles I liked. I made my way over to Glasses USA. They had a great feature that let you upload a photo of your face and it would, after some manipulation, put the glasses you liked on your photo… and it worked. I ordered two pair on Monday after Mrs. Bgddy dug out my prescription (one pair for backup, ahem).

Email confirmation was sent, so on and so forth. Instructions said it would take about eight work days to get them shipped. I paid for the upgraded, faster shipping. The following days sucked. I’m nowhere near legally blind, my driver’s license doesn’t require I wear corrective lenses at all… but once I was used to seeing perfectly, I got used to my HD life. It was going to be a LONG eight days.

The first pair showed up at my door Friday. Four days, and they look exactly like they did in my uploaded selfie. No email that they’d shipped, just a “your order is going through our qc department” email, and there they were.

They’re fantastic, and being able to see again is wonderful… and in only four days (I’m expecting the second pair today, I just got the qc email), so five business days for the second, if they show up.

My experience couldn’t possibly have been better. The choosing process was simple and satisfying. The ordering process was easy, and the delivery vastly exceeded my expectations (even if their eight days was more “under promise and over deliver” – 2 to 3 days for qc is silly).

Best Vacation Evah! And the Diet Started Yesterday.

It’s been quiet over here in Fit Recovery land for a reason… I was away with my wife and kids, and my wife’s family on a cruise to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, Belize (you better Belize it), and Cozumel (Cancun for us).

I didn’t write a thing for a week. I also did no work. For one full week, plus a day, I spent a grand total of 1 minute 13 seconds on the phone. I’ve never been so fortunate on vacation… not that I can remember, anyway.

Sadly, I brought a little more home than some fantastic photos… the food on the cruise was so good I brought home a couple more than a few extra pounds. I’ve got some work to do.

Thankfully, I had a break in the daily rain and got a nice little 18 miler in last evening. I’d skipped breakfast and had a sensible lunch so all that was left was a non-ridiculous dinner. Mrs. Bgddy made her most excellent chili. A bowl and I was off to bed.

It’s good to be back and getting into the swing of things again, but that was one heck of a vacation.

Only a few more weeks on the out-of-town job, so I’m hoping to get back to a more regular schedule soon.

All photos taken by me, with my Galaxy S9 in a Lifeproof case, underwater. I’ve never experienced a leak, though I did wreck the face on a rock on the last excursion of the trip, swimming in a cave… and Lifeproof replaced the face as a part of the warranty. Folks, the quality stands up to the name.