Most Productive 20 Minutes in Your Week

watchHere is productivity tool that I was taught that I continue to find worthwhile.

The most productive 20 minutes in my week is the 20 minutes I spend planning my week on Sunday night.

Simple as that.  When I take that time and plan my entire week – those parts that can be scheduled, it consistently produces dividends.

Don’t believe it?  Just try it for a month.  It will consistently result in focus and clarity.  Try it and see if it’s not the most productive 20 minutes in your week.

BTW, if you like this watch, you can purchase it here.

3 Ways to Learn Humbly?

Well, went to church today to hear about living a no regrets life.  Why not go, I mean who doesn’t want to live with no regrets – right!  I mean, even if you’re not totally into this Jesus,church and religious thing, who doesn’t want to live with no regrets?

Why not go?  Well it was raining cats and dogs – mostly dogs cause I’m a dog fan!

In the midst of the deluge a man comes riding up on a motorcycle – in the pouring rain.  Makes me feel kinda guilty when I’m thinking about sleeping in because of the rain…. Just proves the fact that church isn’t something you gotta do but instead it’s something you get to do.

Thought I might share some of the points from the message for what it’s worth.  Who knows, maybe as you read this you’re thinking about living a no regrets life.  So here ya go…

The teaching was about Peter – apparently he said that he would go all out for Christ but when fronted after Christ’s arrest, turned a blind eye- 3 different times. So, the message centered around Peter’s denial and what could be learned from it.  It was noted that these came from the materials provided by Kerry Shook who wrote the book One Month to Live – 30 days to a regret free life

Peter shows us how to learn humbly:

1. Learn from my losses

2. Surrender to God’s strength

3. Pursue God’s path

After the message we had 27 people become a part of the church in 3 services.

I’m actually enjoying this series and looking forward to the next installment – Leaving Boldly.

 

Holocaust then and Now

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Auschwitz

As I write this it’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. How could anyone forget the horrible atrocities that took place in 1933.  And yet if we don’t study history then it’s bound to repeat itself.

As I thought about this event and searched the facts I was reminded of a documentary I saw a couple weeks ago on Netflix.  It was called Hitler’s Children. It was a solemn reminder that we should never forget.

That was then but what about now?  At the Dailymail.com Bettina Goering talks of her need to be sterilized…

Hermann Goering’s great-niece: ‘I had myself sterilised so I would not pass on the blood of a monster’

This event continues to have an impact to this day and how could it not?

 

I even took a virtual tour of Auschwitz.
I would encourage you to take time today, whatever day you read this, and pray that this type of atrocity will never happen again.

Mountain Mist 50k Trail Run 2015

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Over the weekend I decided to run what is claimed to be the premier ultra trail run in the Southeast.  31 plus miles would need to be covered to reach the finish line racing on Monte Sano in Huntsville AL.

Here’s the way I saw it.

To set the story up it will help to understand that I barely qualify to run this.  Here is a notice from the Mountain Mist site:

Those demonstrating no previous endurance activities will be denied entry or have your entry to this race removed and no refund will be issued. If you have a question about a qualification standard, please contact eric.charette@yahoo.com

  • Any previous Mountain Mist 50km finish
  • Any ultra marathon finish in previous 2 years
  • Any marathon finish under 4:40 in previous 2 years
  • Any 70.3 Triathlon finish under 7:00 in previous 2 years
  • Any 140.6 Triathlon finish in previous 2 years
  • Other endurance running activities on case by base basis

I barely qualify, but I qualify nonetheless.

Weather:  A couple of days before the start it rains cats and dogs.  I can only imagine what the trail will look like after several hundred runners trample over it.  Night before the start, it snows – sure why not!  Guess with snow on the ground I don’t need to mention it’s cold.

Race Day:

Dress:  I decide as I usually do in really cold running to go with shorts, calf compression sleeves, long sleeve running shirt with a short sleeve running shirt over it. Visor, no boggin’ for headgear. Camelback for hydration.  Gloves.  It’s cold but hopefully I warm up after a few miles like normal.

Breakfast:Cup of Coffee.

Arrival:  Arrive at the lodge early for the start.  As I survey the other runners I’m reminded that I barely qualify to run this one.  Everyone looks like they showed up for a skinny person’s convention.  Me, I’m looking for anyone that I can hang out with that looks like a rugby player.  Just a few.  The rest appear to be serious ultra runners from all over the country.  Several men are sporting ultra beards which intimidate me.  Find some bacon, probably eat too much but I’m ready for the race.

Racing:  Racing is a relative term for me.  As with most ultra competitors it means a lot of running with periodic walks in-between – you must develop a strategy.  It’s an endurance race.  How you get to the finish line is up to you.  But there’s a catch.  This race has cut off times for the safety of volunteers and runners.  This means you must make certain aid stations by a certain time or get pulled off the course.

Aid Station One Cutoff – Start goes off without a hitch.  Run on the pavement for a little while to allow faster runners to get a head start on the trail.  I hit the trail.  It’s soooo muddy!  Several hundred runners were ahead of me and the trail was trashed from the beginning.  Then there was the first big climb – lovingly referred to as K2.  That climb just kept on giving until your legs were trashed and this takes place just a few miles in.  I was sliding in and out of mud like it was an ice patch for much of the race.  But, I make the aid station with only 5 minutes to spare.  I realize that I will probably be pulled at the second aid station due to this small margin.

Aid Station Two:  Many people got pulled from the course at station one.  So now I find myself running for miles without ever seeing anyone.  At one moment I thought I was off the trail and wondered how they would ever find anyone that far out in the middle of the forest.  Right when I started to seriously question it I saw a red trail marker – and it felt good to see it.

The Fall:  My last ultra on the mountain I found myself kicking rocks and falling.  Thought I had masted it (you never will) and was floating along (my fantasy) when I slipped on a downhill, no one within miles.  Did I mention mud?  Also this trial is littered the entire way with rocks as well!  Back to the fall…  On my way down I grab a sapling of decent size to stop my impending fall, it snaps like a toothpick and the inevitable happens.  I actually land on a dead tree after a few summer-salts, which crumbles and actually cushions my fall.  I get up hoping nothing is broke.  My ribs on my right side are aching – bad, I have a cut on my leg and a few scratches.  After getting back on track I decide I don’t care if I make the next cutoff time or not!  That hurt!

Aid Station Two Cutoff – As I pull up on aid station two and ask if I made it (I’m good if I didn’t as this is a brutal race) they said I made it by 25 minutes!  What? Darn! That means I’ll have to continue and so I do.  I am now thinking that I may actually finish the Mountain Mist!

Problem: To get to the next aid station I will need to climb Waterline.  The climb that this race is known for and you do it toward the end with tired legs.

Aid Station Three Cutoff – Things seem to be going fairly well.  Mud and rocks everywhere.  Thought I saw a dinosaur stuck in one of the mud pits. Then I see Waterline.  It just goes up and up and up.  No switchbacks.  Just up!  It became so demoralizing that I had to keep my head down and look at my feet – one step at a time. This happens after you’ve already run close to 24 miles. Then, here’s the kicker.  About 3/4 of the the way you have to climb a short rock face!  It seemed dangerous to me.  If you fell then you would fall a looooooong ways before anything could stop you.  Here’s a pic from runyourfirstultra which has many pics of the race.

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Once you finish this climb you still have a steep climb to go.  But I make it.  I have now been racing over 6/12 hours as I come up on the LAST aid station.  If I make it here I will most likely finish the Mountain Mist.

The Results are In

As I run in to the aid station the wonderful volunteers are offering encouragement.  I ask if I made the cut off and in a sad voice she says no!  I scream THANK YOU, BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD TODAY!  I was trashed and felt I got my money’s worth.  Did I mention you have to pay for this experience?

After 26-27 miles running on a trial for over 6 hours I missed the last cutoff by 10 minutes!  10 minutes!  Small things matter and if you don’t want to get pulled off the course you should RUN FASTER!

So in the end I had a great time, in a weird way.  When riding back to the lodge (the ride of shame) I said I’d never do that again – with the mud, rocks, and that rock climb, it wasn’t that fun.  But on the way home I was already thinking about how I could do better next year.

But, I did accomplish a few goals:

1. I did meet the qualifications to be able to enter the Mist

2. I did climb Waterline

But when all was said and done I didn’t see this:

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As I write this with hurting legs I’m already in the process of choosing my next ultra! It looks like either a 12 hour endurance race in Decatur, AL or a 50 miler in Alex City AL.  If your an ultra runner you must give the mist a try!  Maybe I’ll see you next year.  I’ll be the one that looks out of place.

Life Without Cable?

Can there be life without cable?  I wasn’t sure, but I thought what another great life experiment let’s try it and see!

Here’s the real back story.  We had AT&T U-verse and loved it!  But then we moved – just a block away.  Turns out the house we moved from was the last house on the U-verse line?  What?  How can that be?  It was.  No U-verse! How could life ever be the same?  No more taking my TV outside on the deck.  What would we do?

Well, glad you asked.  We decided to go without.  Just go with the internet and Netflix. And that’s what we did for a while.  Then one night while learning all I could about “whatever” on the internet (I love learning new things, currently it’s linguistics) I learned that local stations were required to broadcast in HD for free.  So I bought a cheap HD antenna and started getting local stations in HD for free.  FREE!  This may be one of the best kept secrets ever.

We continue to live without cable TV and yes it’s possible.  I watch less mindless TV and mostly focus on Netflix documentaries (actually learn things).  Yes, I hate not having ESPN as we missed all the great SEC games this year.  But I got a lot of practical things done by not watching cable TV for hours on end.  At this point the advantages of not having cable far outweigh the advantages of having it.  More time to read, run, ride my mountain bike, go for walks, go to the lake, spend with my wife,etc…  Then there are the financial savings each month.  Add up your cable bill for a year and see what you spend.  You may be surprised. No, seriously add it up – right now!

You might want to try this experiment for yourself. In fact I’d recommend it. If you do, my antenna looks like this and hangs on wall but has other options.

 

HDTV ATT

No Regrets Take 2

I caught the second part of the new series where I attend church and thought I might share some of my notes.  While I suspected that it might be a lot of morbid stuff it has actually been anything but that.  Tons of practical stuff. Some of it might even be helpful to someone who reads this blog.  Her ya go.

Remember, based on the book, One Month to Live.

Basic premise:  We were meant to live the life God gave us to the fullest.  Kerry Shook noted, if we follow Jesus we will see a life

1.  Lived Passionately

2.  Loved Completely

3.  Learned Humbly

4.  Left Boldly

We should do the same if we want a life lived to the fullest.

Living Passionately may mean:

1.  We need to do something drastic

2.  Expect the unexpected

3.  Create God space every day

4.  Keep a constant reminder

The service ended with a young lady that seemed to live these out.  It was titled Catching Kayla and you can see it here.

Last week we were encouraged to create a bucket list.  I was inspired to spend time talking to my wife about bucket list items that we can do now.  This weekend I hope to check one of those off.  Then in a few weeks another.

You might want to do the same.  Take some bucket list items that can be completed in the short term and do it while you still can.  Otherwise you may regret it later.

The Experiments Begin!

So, how did the experiments begin? Early in life I decided to try some interesting (read stupid!) things that I thought would be exciting – living life to the fullest.

After spending time with my parents over the weekend, my mother told a story that may be the original experiment. This is probably where it all began.

I stayed with my grandmother during the day while my parents worked.  Her backyard was the actual playground of Bellinger Hill Elementary School. I had caught wind that other kids were signing up for the first grade but there had not been any talk around the house about me doing the same. What? So I decided to take things into my own hands.  My birthday fell on a day that allowed me to start a year earlier than most, a date change that had just started that year.  So at 5 years old I set out to register myself – without anyone knowing I had gone to the school.  The school called my mother that evening and let her know what happened. She informed them that I had not gone to kindergarten at the time and would be going this year.  The response from the school, he answered all the questions we asked satisfactorily while he was here and he’s good to go.  So that’s how I enrolled myself at 5 years old.

There have been repercussions to that first experiment…

–  Had to ride my bike everywhere while friend who were already 14 rode their motorcycles – I know, BIG DEAL

–  Mother dropping you off at high school every day your entire 10th grade year.  I eventually had her drop me off

a block from school and I walked the rest.  Not sure I have recovered from that to this day.

–  Drivers license didn’t materialize until 11th grade – when I turned 16.  Everyone else had been driving for a year.

–  The license issue meant a lot of double dating, Which meant you had to find somebody who would let you

double with them.

– High school graduation came when I was 17 and I started college just a few days later at 17

So, according to my mother that was perhaps the beginning of a long string of experiments in life that continues to this day.

What kid even wants to go to school, much less attempt to enroll themselves?

Passion!

Last week at the church I attend we started a new series, One Month to Live – 30 Days to a No Regret Life.  Not sure I wanted to think about the possibility of only having 30 days to live.  But as we got into the message you couldn’t help but think about it.  I mean how different would your life be if you took that thought seriously?

In the message it was mentioned that one minister noted that if we were really going to live a no regrets life that it would do us well to see how Jesus lived.

That same minister believed that when looking at Jesus life, he gave us 4 principals to living the abundant life.  Now, if you’re like me I’m sometimes skeptical about any quick fixes to anything.  But, these seemed plausible. He said if you want to live a no regrets life then:

1.Live Passionately

2.Love Completely

3.Learn Humbly

4.Leave Boldly

Not bad!  I wish we had gone further in each one but then I realized that this was just an introduction.  Still funny that we’re going into a 30 day situation and the series is lasting longer than that!  Oh well!  Hopefully my lifespan will outlast the series so I can learn how to live the abundant life! 🙂

Apparently we will be looking at Living Passionately this week.  So I Googled Passion.  Passion – strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something.  I’ve been thinking about that this week.  What am I really passionate about?  What fires me up?  What makes me want to get up every morning?

I’m looking forward to what will be said this Sunday.  Kind of worried about what I might be challenged to do as we are normally given something to do to live out what we’ve learned.

Until then, what are you really, I mean seriously passionate about? Is it something significant? Does it add value to your life or more importantly a friend? If you’re not sure, that may be what’s holding you back from a no regrets life.

70 Plus Ideas to Simplify Your Life/Home Minus 65

Does your life ever seem complicated?  Have you collected so much stuff that you are renting space to store it – or should be?  Is your house so messy that you occasionally find something and say “I didn’t know I still had that.”  Does it seem like every day is getting shorter and shorter because your calender is becoming fuller?  Are you spending more and more time at work but getting less done at home.

Here are 5 ways to simplify your life/home from Apartmenttherapy.com

See what you think.

 

YUCK – One Month to Live?

Sounds kind of morbid – to know that you only had one month to live!  But the church I attend is starting a new series January 11, 2014 that will address that question.  What would you change if you knew that you only had one month to live? I understand it’s going to be loosely based on the book, One Month to Live – 30 Days to a No Regret Life.  I searched the One Month to Live site and found this:

Founding Pastor, Saddleback Church and International Best-Selling Author of The Purpose Driven Life

“We did the One Month to Live Challenge at Saddleback with absolutely outstanding results!”

One Month to Live.

Really not a bad question to ask every day I suppose- If I only had 30 days to live how would I live today, not tomorrow, not a week from now, but today?  What regrets might I have about my past? What relationships needed mending? What material things might I regret not having or travel opportunities missed?

Sounds like this series is going to encourage me to ask and answer some interesting life questions that I don’t always like talking about.  Guess we’ll see this Sunday!

The ironic part is that the series lasts more than 30 days (5 weeks I think), so I hope we get to the point quickly!  What were they thinking!