Reflection Time

Was this your plan all along?

It seems like only yesterday when I was counting the days until I’d show my pops just what a big ignoramus he’s be through out most of his life. I had this entire narrative planned off on the day I came home in a bad mood to him being his once usual nitpicking self. I was gonna point out genuine issues and point out real flaws with no emotional expense. No matter how hurtful it may had seemed, all this pent up angst and resentment needed to be expressed to someone other than a close acquaintance or past relationship. I remember writing some otherwise jerk tangents on this very blog. 

With the whole moving thing said and done, I can sit and reflect on how I’ve come here. Months leading up to this landmark have been surprisingly pleasant. It’s as if both of us have lavelled out and realized that we are two different people. I believe I came to this realization first, but getting to this level of maturity isn’t a race. Even before I mentioned that I was going to fly the coop it seemed my dad got the point I was trying to get across to him. Maybe his other kids made him realize that there are more important matter to attend to than things you want your adult son to do that goes against his character. Or maybe my mom and uncle mentioned how I felt to him more directly. I’m gonna go with a little of both. 

One night we were having dinner and I took this as I sign to open up and express some heart-felt, but in no way directly rude personal emotions. I mentioned how crowds usually make me anxious and I prefer more concentrated, well thought out conversations in cozy, low volume settings. Our work schedules don’t give us much time together. I speculate that some of these things I shared stirred up something within him. That along with the time spent apart gave him some time to think about what was shared. This resulted a more calm and mature approach to the parenting role. 

Instead of the gritty ending to us living together I had expected, we were helpful and patient to the others needs. I can say that he showed genuine selflessness when it came to the moving process. I remember the conversation when I had decided I was going to make the move. I anticipated he was going to take it personal and see it as an attack towards him. To my surprise, (and his) this thought never crossed his mind. I had imagine there would be this ongoing discussion of what is and what is not mine. None of that even came up. 

The timing of all of this seemed surreal. I’ve heard multiple people say that after someone hits a certain age (usually around 40) it is incredibly difficult to change their behaviors. While this is still true for his eating habits, his physiological anatomy has come to an enjoyable experience. I guess he’s come to realize I’m a grown man. Our relationship feels more of a friendship than a parent/ child. Am I complaining? Absolutely not. 

All is well for this brief point in time. More to follow once it arises.

-dfj

Open Up

Comfort hinders progress….

In my experiences with friendships in and out of the intimate setting, I have come across many different personality types. I have many resources to be thankful for. If I hadn’t discovered cycling or public radio, my horizons would be narrower than most. I’ve acquainted with people in different stages in life, and personal development. I know people trying to get their lives back in order, and others who can say with confidence that they’ve lived great and successful lives. I’d like to touch on those who have tasted success more than once and some of the conditions that aroused that behavior.

One trend I have come across is these special individuals have gone through  life experiences that have been less than pleasant. They have been put in sink-or-swim circumstances and have had the option to put things on the back burner taken away from them. I’m not implying that we all need our backs against the wall to achieve success in whatever it is we set our minds to, I’m simply pointing out an observational trend.

Whether it’s bringing a child into the world, quitting your stable job for a riskier career opportunity, incarceration, or finally moving out of the house, these are all examples of life events that are life changing. These truly test one’s character and are landmarks to the next phase in our lives. Those who possess genuine drive will at the very least learn from their mistakes if the wrong choice is made. I believe it is life changing experiences such as these that shape us into better human beings.

For example, up until recently, I’ve been living with my folks for all my life. These past few months have made me financially comfortable, and in a stagnant state of progression into adulthood. I didn’t even want to move out at my age. While most of my peers are making that transition, I was content (to a certain degree) at living with five other family members in a loud household.

This recent change in perspective has sparked a new and clearer way of thinking. In between the cleaning and packing, I’ve come to realize what is important for physical, mental, and emotional growth. To start with the physical growth, I’ve come to realize until you have accepted a routine of completely depleting yourself to the point of openly admitting that the past weekend’s events are the most difficult thing you have done thus far, and rebuilding yourself through rest on a frequent basis, real progress can be made. It’s a matter of getting out of that comfort bubble and exposing your body to a vulnerable state. If you allow your body to do what it needs to do to maintain that homeostatic balance, then progress can be made.

On a mental standpoint, all of the ideas I have mentioned from the book I just recently finished put things into perspective. If we are not willing to take a look inside ourselves and attempt to connect the dots as to why we behave in such an awkward and quite way in social settings, then we are bound to keep that synthetic bubble of contentment alive and well. At that point, you should consider why you would even leave the house in the first place. If you believe that you have what it takes to maintain a lifestyle that is free from others interfering from what you wish to experience, then form my own experiences, you are headed towards a dark and neurotic way of life. On a lighter note, if you choose to accept that you may or may not get hurt if you open yourself up to others in hopes of getting what you innately seek from someone else, you can grow as an individual on a tremendous level. Tell that person at work or the grocery store how you feel. Take a second to actively listen to what someone is trying to tell you. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with others no matter how exposed you may feel. You’ll feel better once all is said and done.

The emotional concept ties in with the mental growth. There is this lingering social standard to save the heart-felt emotions for when someone is behind closed doors. This is a harmful behavior that needs to be changed. Why is it socially unacceptable among most of us to share a more sensitive side of ourselves to others? Sure, you may not get hurt if you keep your guard up day after day. Can you say you’re living a genuine experience after you’ve made this commitment? My educational experience was set to the tune of this idea. You were considered inferior because you showed a side of yourself that linked your personality to that of other (at the time, it was considered) inferior genders ( I think you get the point.)

Age has lead to so many new discoveries and assurances that the feeling you felt as a younger human being were perfectly normal and should be expanded upon, rather than kept inside and regressed from once stumbled on once again. But before I get sidetracked and thrown off my main point, I would like to reiterate that I am becoming more and more convinced that growth stems from vulnerability. On a social level, the more you expose yourself to the option of failure, (based on your character) the better (or worse) your chances are at success. You can probably connect the dots and figure out that I will begin this next phase of my life in such a way. Saying I am excited is an understatement. There is only so much I can speculate before I arrive on this philosophical and imaginary cloud of hopes and wishes. Until next time….

-dfj

Destroy. Rebuild. Destroy.

Hurry, while it’s still fresh….

In recapping my race weekend, I am taken back to this same time (same exact weekend) last year. After finishing Saturday’s road race last year began my decline in all self-esteem and self worth. My inner voice that loves to point out all the flaws was on an all time high and had me convinced that bike racing may not be what I am cut out for. Steering away from the trashy details, I was in what those who suffer from depression call, “The hole” for months at a time. Resorting to harmful habits in an attempt to regress to a previous state of comfort, familiarity, and confidence. At the time no one could convince me that what I was doing was right (believe me, people tried.) For a while I was living with the emotional highs and lows. Eventually the lows bottomed out at manifested itself as a complete lack of emotion and empathy altogether. Having gotten dropped from the race after what I thought was training for this type of event. I was still in that confused state of experimenting with different race and training tactics and still coming up short with results and performance.

Every competitive athlete knows you can only turn yourself inside out so many times without receiving tangible gains. This in combination with whatever psychological state I was in at the time (the neurotic that took pride in his flaws) was discouraging to say the least. It never got to the point of drastic, self-destructive attempts. Isolation and complete absence of inner drive to leave the bed was the worst that things got. I tried to abstain from things I normally enjoy like coffee to again, regress to a state where I believed I had more control.

When you’ve put so much time, energy, and finances into one thing and am unable to have anything to show for it, you begin to question. First your own physical abilities, then your decision making, then all of the actions you set out to achieve. All of these thought can turn someone cold in a short amount of time (I was contemplating a “Cold heart, old soul” tattoo somewhere on my body.) Things weren’t looking good for me last year, and it took a long time for corrective actions to begin to take place. I’ve been told that I have thinner skin than most and at the time I didn’t see that as a bad thing (I still don’t to this day. Expressing emotions can be very therapeutic no matter what triggers them.)

A year has gone by and while I fell off the wagon during yesterdays race at an identical spot, I was not emotionally traumatized as the previous year. Part of it had to do with the time at which I chose to upgrade categories. Two of the most difficult road races were lined up and I got crushed for both of them. I’m now taking a different psychological approach and have received consensual advice from friends and teammates alike. Due to recent changes I’ve shifted to a more mindful way of life and seek more opportunities to open myself up to my environment.

After having done a road race and a criterium this weekend, it has been made clear that due to my training, I am better suited for criteriums and circuit races this year. I’ve got many more matches to burn when things are short, punchy, and more-or-less flatter than a “climbers race.” Last year I made the mistake of attempting to alter my fitness from one end of the spectrum to the other in the middle of racing season. Knowing what I know now, I should have stayed the course and focused on what worked in my favor. Perhaps when the season is over and the time comes to start things back up at a lower intensity, I’ll try and keep a more well rounded training approach.

I would like to put it out there that I am not choosing to focus on one specific race type for the rest of my time spent on the bike. I know the more often I ride with others who’s training has them better suited for longer, sustained intensity efforts with a lot more elevation gain, I will eventually adapt and regain that fitness I once had. I am not giving up on the road race setting. You won’t see me trying to bulk up and turn into a linebacker by the end of the year. I’m simply playing to my strong suit at the moment.

Still having fun on the bike. Still able to feel emotions and get myself out of bed. Still like the shape I’m in (sorta. Takes more convincing nowadays but comes from a deeper rooted issue.) Not feeling as socially awkward as I did last year. That being said, right now I’m glad I have a desk job and can kick my feet up and begin to recover from a caffeine fueled, and productive weekend.

-dfj

I

Time to balance out the melancholy….

Since beginning the process of being more mindful about the psychoanalytical reasoning for certain habits I have, there has been a noticeable shift in my mood. After realizing that self-nurturing is a synthetic and less gratifying way at living, I’ve begun to open myself up more to others and things have begun to pay off tremendously. Keeping vulnerability in the back of my head on a frequent basis makes it easier to show a more personal side of myself to others. People subconsciously pick up on this and usually reciprocate (depending on who your friends are and how comfortable they are in their own skin.) The result is an organic relationship and a genuine appreciation for the highs and the lows.

These past few days I caught myself engaging in conversations with others more willingly. It’s not only to brag about my shift into emotional maturity, but to actively listen to what other have to say. The pendulum of exchanges in a conversation can be energizing, therapeutic, and enjoyable. It may take some time to get things moving along with taking a step back and realizing what others intentions are (this person is engaging me in a conversation, they must have something they want to share. They’re asking me how my day was, they clearly want to share something that has, or will be happening recently or upcoming.) The ebb and flow of human interaction has intensified now that the focus has been shifted from self-fulfilling to mutual gains. To enrich yourself and those around you is an empowering feeling that’s become addictive.

Music has boosted these mindful emotions a great deal. The beginning of the year musically started off a bit slow, then slowly progressed into a peak of fantastic content. I’ve been on a hip hop binge lately. Each New Music Monthly thus far has included one hip hop album that I have paid much more attention than in the past. I was convinced that the subject matter and delivery system of hip hop was too materialistic for my ears. With the discovery of such alternative acts such as, Busdriver, I have found a new niche that is pleasing on multiple levels. January it was the EP from Open Mike Eagle. Then in February I discovered Doomtree by way of the rap collective, Hellfyre Club. Doomtree shows that you do not need to be from an urban sprawl to be taken seriously as a rap group. Reigning from Minneapolis, they are able to still go hard when the occasion calls for it, while refraining from subjects of materialism and objectifying women in an all too familiar gesture. March has been the most promising of them all with the release of the groundbreaking album, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. I could devote an entire post to breaking down the dense talent the oozes, no, not oozes, radiates a significant intensity that upon immediate consumption shows it will stand the test of time. Not to get too philosophical, but music has contributed to the good mood I’m already in.

In summary, my source of gratification and emotional satiation has been shifted and has a healthier outcome on my psyche. I know there are both highs and lows that come with opening oneself up to the slings and arrows of blah blah blah blah, but once you’ve had that real experience, it becomes worth the effort and risk. Until next time….

-dfj

Transitions

This rest day cabin fever is setting in….

The good news is I no longer feel fatigued for more than the end of a three day training block. Starting a new week fresh and willing to exhaust myself only to rebuild into a stronger being.This past weekend was rough for me and as a result I’ve chosen to burn a day or two in bed for the sake of a better physical and mental state of mind in the long run. There is a fine line between what a healthy amount of rest is and what starts to become toxic.

I’m making the best of my time off the bike by attempting to be more engaging in hopes of a genuine human experience. This transition period is in full bloom. One of the indicators was a dream I had this afternoon. It took place in an unknown residential suburban neighborhood in the evening. I seemed to be gathering things for a group ride when I realized I forgot lights. I make an effort back to where I am currently residing to an open house with music playing (some type of hip hop. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop these days so that’s appropriate.) I’m followed by a young kid and his mother into the house. They seem to need to use the restroom and thought that if they follow me they’ll find it. I take the more inward path towards my room to a house with the bare-bones amenities (couches, tables, chairs.) Nothing of personal significance. No art, plants, or flare to it. I direct the family to the restroom when I hear a woman’s voice beginning to call attention to all those who are ready to ride. While she is making the opening announcements (discussing basic riding etiquette, route, etc) I become a little anxious as I am behind schedule. I become consumed in the fact that I clearly feel comfortable in this house as though I have lived there, but fail to see any familiar symbols or objects that personalize the setting.

I awoke shortly after this in a bit of an anxious rise. My interpretation of the dream has to due with a heavy focus towards moving. The house is empty because I am starting fresh. I plan on letting a lot of things go where I currently live to begin to acquire my own material goods. I recently started up my own phone account in which I transferred no previous photos from my older phone. In keeping the fresh start theme I saw this as an opportunity to format my computer, saving only essential programs and documents.

It’s hard not to become consumed in a transition when sitting at home, waiting for the month to end so you can start to pack up your things. I have put a hold on other plans of bike racing due to the move. Going from making weekly plans of racing all over the state, I’ve had to shift to planning events months at a time. While they are of a stronger significance, the frequency is messing my flow up.

Where, do you ask, does all of this slowly building stress, anticipation, and excitement come from? A big part of it comes from this book I keep mentioning. I’m half way through the read and have driven home the idea that organic experiences (not the self-satisfying ones) make for a healthier life and a path towards a happier and content state of mind. Instead of training and my diet as things I think of on an obsessive basis, I’ve adopted an awareness for more human interactions for self (and non-self) improvement.

Up until next month I’ve got a few new albums to keep me entertained, a new person in my life to talk to (and ride bikes with,) a clean computer and few cell phone to get this new ship prepped to set sail. Until next time….

-dfj

Neurosis

Ever read something written about yourself? Try an entire book written and cited by multiple doctors….

If asked, “If you could fight anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?” My first response would be Woody Allen. I’ve had fantasies of bludgeoning the neurosis out of that guy. Its not to say the movies he makes are bad. I happen to like a handful of them. Something about who he is as a person, his genuine character makes my skin crawl. If you’re wondering why I’ve started off on such a cynical note, it’s to show the tip of the metaphorical iceberg that is my inner issues.

I have concluded that the reason for this disgust for neurosis stems from a form of self-loathing. I could go on and on about my flaws and insecurities I have about what I consider to be unique and self-identifying aspects of life. I often have to hold myself back from hopping on my self-loathing soapbox in new relationships because I know no one (except myself) enjoys hearing that. Oh yes, my self-hatred runs very deep. That in no way, shape or form makes it an acceptable behavior.

Those of you that know me on a friendly and close basis know that I tend to keep to myself and reserve my emotions in most situations. It may appear as though I have things figured out and am on some kind of self-enlightened path, but I have been treading water for a long time. Most of my habits come from an effort to gain control and prevent a state of vulnerability to those around me. the ghosting out of parties, the withdrawal from physical human interaction, the difficulty to express affection, and the unusual pleasure that comes from being alone is all a part of a front for self control and self nourishment. Something inside is convinced that I don’t need these things from outside sources and that I do fine when I provide these things for myself. It’s all a front, a fantasy, a makeshift security blanket that I have clung to for years now.

Timing couldn’t have been better for this form of neurosis to grow and further develop. The few concepts I remember from developmental psychology remind me that the early twenties is a time for developing a personal identity. A time for figuring out who you really are. I foolishly took the character of neurotic and let that be my primary character trait. Oh boy did it feel good. To finally conclude that you got your identity figured out (no matter the realization) can be very empowering. Little did I know I was feeding a slowly destructive part of my personality. I’ve managed to convince past relationships that this was acceptable behavior because I was convinced that this is who I am as a person. While this may be a defining trait for some, I have realized the harm it can cause both directly and indirectly.

Most of the things I do stem from me creating a figurative and synthetic bubble of comfort to make of for the attention, affection, and interaction I am not currently receiving. Everything from my eating habits, personal and intimate relationships, to everyday behaviors and routines are a cry for stability and refrain from a once vulnerable state. Just what is it about being vulnerable that scares the shit out of everybody? Why do I threaten (and actively) to end relationships when others try and penetrate my comfort zone? There is an incredibly strong resistance to those who seek that vulnerable state. Is it because of an underlying fear of pain and death?

Perhaps the emotional psyche is more fragile than we all imagine it to be. Sure, we may seem tough and contained on the outside (myself especially) but deep down inside once someone finds a way to try and tear down that wall, we all do whatever it takes to preserve that sense of security that is deeply rooted to a fear of mortality. Just think of all the genuine experiences that come from accepting that that once familiar and peaceful state as a child we all once had (the feeling of immortality) is a lie and will never be experienced again. Think of all the possibilities we open ourselves up to once that sense of acceptance has been established. It may sound strange at first, but hear me out.

Think of those who are terminally ill. People who have been told they have a finite amount of time left on this planet that is approaching in a measurable amount of time. Sure there are the five stages of grief, but in the end we have to reach a state of acceptance (or die in a synthetic, denial filled bubble.) Those who have accepted their fate have successfully come full circle from the childlike state of bliss and open themselves up for so many experiences. While they may not have as much time to experience them, they have cracked the code and have a leg up on most of us.

That being said, realizing all of this (along with my neurotic baggage) has inspired a change within my being. I will admit that finding out the behaviors you have established as a young adult were all wrong in the first place were hard to swallow. Figuring out that they were a natural response to certain childhood experiences involving affection and preconceived notions towards the opposite sex, and one’s view of the world made it a little easier to get down. It’s like someone telling you, “Yeah you’ve got some problems. But they’re a perfectly normal response to some traumatic experiences as a child. The best part is there is still time for improvement.”

While the fact remains that these are some deep and personal problems that need correcting and will not be completely fixed overnight. Being mindful that they still exist and knowing where they come from is a helpful tool to getting things back in order. Until next time….

-dfj

Purg

No one said change has to sway in one direction indefinitely….

I’m sitting here waiting to punch out of work, thinking about the next chapter in this story of mine. Some of you may have heard I’ll be relocating in three weeks. While this is a big step forward for me, the anticipation is at a simmer. On top of that, I believe I’ve hit a plateau on the bike. Both pieces of news have equally subjective outcomes, they are one item short of a trifecta of self-discovery. 

I’ve mentioned on other social media mediums that I’m a quarter into a book I’ve been on hold to check out for almost three weeks. It talks about psychology and the defense mechanisms one goes through to maintain a comfort zone the author likes to call, “The Fantasy Bond.” Much like the feeling one gets by hearing the first thirty seconds of an incredibly well composed song, I was awestruck by the first pages. Having chosen to consider the possibility that this field of social science is a plausible explanation for my neurotic behaviors both in and out of intimate relationships, I find myself wanting to know more and more about the theory this doctor has come up with. I have already noticed character traits about myself that would explain why I behave the way I do. It’s almost spooky how close to home some topics can hit. 

What I’m getting at is the tree main aspects of my life (home life, bike life, and social life) seem to be out of sync with each other. That would explain this funky, confused attitude I seem to have. I will have flown the coop by the end of the month, my next race is in a few weeks, and my social life is continuing to support an on-call trend. It’s almost like some strange form of purgatory. 

That being said, the above mentioned parts of my life are clearly depended on one another. Which would explain the confusion and apprehension towards the next step. I seem to be making the most progress in the book seeing as it has no time restraints attached to it. I’m trying to put the concepts into practice in a mindful, day-to-day basis. I have a difficult time with being vulnerable and notice that those who have come to terms with their vulnerability (and don’t let it hold them back) get the most benefits on a social level. 

I’m trying to do more grown up things in hopes to incorporate change in my life. I know once this move is all said and done, it will solidify the change I can’t help but obsess about. Time spent off the bike has helped me realize what need improvement. 

As difficult as it was to turn around and do the ride of shame after failing to complete my interval workout, I got all the anger out and realized it was time to give things a rest. The world of cycling can be incredibly distracting. Unless you know for a fact someone is on the same training regimen as you, (or you do all of your training alone) it is near impossible to notice where others are in their training and not inadvertently adjust your routine for better or for worse (usually for worse.) this past week was a clear sign of that. After going hard for so many days (often times, consecutively) I hit a wall. Having to push my pride to the side. I took most of the weekend off, not touching my bike. My body seems thankful, and I look forward to going back into the normal routine. 

A lot of thoughts are coming in and out of my head sparadically. I hope this will help gets things back to their nice and neat structure. Until next time….

-dfj