“Hope” in my daily life…. Month of Hope

Ok, fair warning from the start. While I am really doing this for myself in the end anyway, I do hope I can inspire at least someone with my messages as well. Today is absolutely along those lines. While there is a theme to things of how I view Hope in my daily life and messages of that Hope along the way, in the end this is a journal for me. This is that, time to download all of these thoughts running around in my head, type of blog today. So I warn you that it is long for those that would like to read it, and for those that don’t, I totally get it. 😊

As I mentioned at the onset of my Month of Hope, it was time for me to get back on my process. December is a month full of intense meets, travel, and what is really the opposite of a routine. So, while there were any number of pieces to my process that I had fallen off over that time, two seem to have sparked this blog entry, my morning routine and swimming.

Both things have really helped to clear my mind a bit over the last few weeks, but in doing so have also made me aware of more things going on in my head. It’s this weird balance of feeling more energy, clarity, and excitement but at the same time an awareness of other things as well. In an every day life type of way, I guess maybe I’d equate it to a state of flow or “the zone”. The idea of it being the same game, same things happening for the most part, but it’s the difference of being lost in the speed and quickness of it all or having things click just enough that time seems to slow down just a bit and you just start to move with what needs to get done. In that state you start positively focusing on what needs to get done and you start ignoring your negative thoughts. Energy goes up for multiple reasons, but one is that you aren’t focused on being tired and why you are so tired. At least, the mind usually starts to see the positives more, or avoid the negatives, but when part of what you are doing is trying to improve yourself, it becomes a complicated situation.

And all of that leads me to here. First off, I hope you can tell by now by the tone and above message, that I am actually in a pretty good place. While I am getting old and need to take care of myself earlier than I used to these days, my health is great. The bottom line is that I feel absolutely blessed to not just be here, but to be able to live my life.

I’ll try not to lose any of you by going too deep into it, but through the last four years I’ve gone on my own little spiritual and self-improvement journey. That’s not to say that I am looking for the answer to life or that I am trying to meet someone else’s definition of a “good person” or any definition really. No, I am just trying to be a better person in the eyes of my toughest critic, myself. When I did this though, it became this crazy journey of opening my eyes to see my weaknesses that I otherwise considered strengths at one time or really thought of myself in a different way because I only looked at certain pieces. Examples there would be an “over-reaching” grit that now leads me to push too far or a fixed mindset that pops up way more often than I would like or even thought happened.

Or something like just how much I tend to prepare for the worst in my mind. I shared this Kristine and another one of my coaches this summer actually and they both seemed shocked as I had never shared it with anyone. I don’t think I overly stress about it, but at the same time I’m not sure how it wouldn’t impact me in some way. Here’s a simple example, if we travel and are coming back together to an empty house, I somewhat expect to come back to a house that has either been broken into or caught fire. As I drive up and I see the house I relax a bit and then I walk in and look left to the TV (easiest reference point in my mind to see if someone was in the living room) to see if it is there, and enjoy being home. A little different I know and not something I want to do, just something that happens as I am driving up to the house.

I am becoming more aware of little idiosyncrasies like that in me. More aware of where I am emotionally and connected to when I am becoming over-run by an emotion of some kind. That said, there are certain pieces that I continue to fight. I used the example above on purpose, as those concerns that I have with the house haven’t actually happened, but what happens when things have happened? It’s something I seem to be struggling with more than I thought and am hoping writing will help process it.

I know everyone still reading by this point is fully aware how much I love the sport of swimming and the opportunity to inspire our athletes to learn life lessons through the pursuit of their personal excellence in the water. It’s why I have committed so much of my life to it overall, and why working 45 days straight in the past over summers didn’t phase me at all. Lately though it had been harder than normal.

I know it may seem like I like to say that I am introverted, but it may not seem like I am. Or maybe some of you understand that introvert can just as easily refer to how I need to recharge over being “shy” as part of being an introvert. I have somewhat of a mix personality that way, but it’s always been pretty clear in my life that I am a small group type person and speaking in front of people has always, and still does, scares me. As part of that as well, I hate conflict. Both relatively common I think, but when your job is to lead 400 plus families and you strongly believe it’s your job to stick to the expectations that you believe to be best for the swimmers, it has always involved a bit of anxiety and over-thinking for me anyway has I walk on deck the first time each day.

Recently though it has seemed worse. It all settles in after I’m on deck and coaching has been great, please don’t misunderstand that, but the anxiety of walking on the deck and waiting for the next issue to pop up has become a more intense feeling lately and I couldn’t quite figure it out for a while. I think I figured it out though and it all goes back to that idea of being prepared for the worst.

I’ve always struggled with the emotional piece to coaching. It’s a really difficult thing to give your heart and soul to this sport, to sometimes be treated without the respect I think is warranted to anyone who is doing their absolute best and is obviously committed to what they are doing. Then to build relationships only to see some of them fall apart because you are honestly committed to doing what you believe is best for the development young athlete but parental emotion sometimes can’t see that when they are in the middle of the harder times.

Right now I am struggling because I don’t tend to actually process things. Cancer started a processing of things like this for me, as cancer isn’t going away, but even then I tend to let things “slip my mind” more than process them. Then, 6 months later or so, I wonder why I am struggling. The “event” happened this summer and I had no doubt it impacted me at the time. As I left I questioned for the first time in my life if coaching was worth it and if I should continue doing it.

It’s similar to that old saying, it’s not paranoia if they are actually out to get you. Yes, I know it’s not whether things can or have happened, but it’s living life and not letting yourself get carried away by concern of something that isn’t likely to happen at all. For me it’s about growing as a person. I have a choice as I move forward. I can let my experiences in life allow me to grow in a positive way or I can build walls, put in what I believe to be protections in my mind, isolate myself more than I want to as part of my personality, and build anxiety up inside of me until it takes away the joy in that activity.

Wow, it’s been a while and all of this seems to just be flowing from one to the other for me, but I don’t want to take it too long here. So, you are either thinking at this point how crazy I am or how this all ties back to Hope on a daily basis. Yes, Hope is that foundation that let’s you stand and start climbing when you feel you have reach rock bottom. It has that power for sure. I believe Hope is used on a daily basis as well though. Let’s see if I can walk through how I see the Process of Hope on a daily basis.

The Process of Hope starts very simply with the willingness to hope for something “better”, and there is never a time in life that I believe we can’t, or shouldn’t, have hope of some kind.  That hope allows you to start to build a Dream. It’s that step from the general feeling of hope to a more formed and visualized Dream. This dream now allows you to start taking steps forward in reaching for it. That Dream then gets broken down into Goals, or the specific steps that will bring you closer to the Dream. Breaking it down into your daily life is then forming the Process that will allow you to reach those Goals.

Process of Hope

It’s life in a process to me. Where we are spending the most time just depends on what is happening in our life. Cancer for example clearly took me all the way back to Hope and I needed to spend a good amount of time there to understand it like I do today. While this would be a much longer blog if I went into it, Dreams become a complicated step for cancer survivors. Dreams by nature to me taking on a longer time-frame that sometimes becomes difficult to think through because of our past.

Let’s take a more simple everyday type process. I’ve said since early on that I hoped to write a book on my journey. It was something I am willing to hope for because I believe it can happen and I believe I can do it. Over the past year I would say it’s taken the step of becoming a Dream. The vision of it has started to come together and I can see it more now because I’ve been willing to take the step of dreaming about it. Just last week I’ve now moved in to the Goals stage and I’ll share the top goal here so I can feel that energy of having shared my goal. I want to finish my cancer journey book by my 5 year survivor date, January 4th, 2020 and self-publish through Amazon. Now it’s an exciting time for me, it’s time to build the process. Whether you consider part of the Goals stage or Process, it’s really just that next step. It’s figuring out how you will proceed forward towards the Goal. The Results stage is really just that and really just feedback. From there you again just go back to the appropriate stage and keep working.

A new Dream to follow? A new Goal along the same Dream? Didn’t reach your goal yet? Then we review the process and start working it again, until we get the results we want.

I hope that you all can see that life can just be a series of steps along this process, and none of it is “bad”. Negativity and pessimism really only come from expectations in my mind. You’ll notice that the above really didn’t have a “finish”.  There’s a reason I don’t put “Success” at the end of the process, as that would set an expectation and missed expectations lead to negativity, pessimism, and a lack of confidence in your ability to accomplish something.

Which will take me full circle here. I have hoped for years to have better control over how I handle stress or emotional situations, and now that I seem to be more aware of the impact on my body, that hope has become even stronger. All that said, it’s been stuck at Hope and nothing changes on Hope alone. (That’s a wish, or something you would like to have happen that you have no plan to work for or no control over happening.) Recently I’ve tried to push that into Dreams more. I’ve tried to see myself not only learning how to meditate and handle things when I feel stress build up, but how to not allow my mind to even worry about the negative potentials for no reason, or make little things bigger than they are, or any of the other crazy things our minds do to us.  I’m starting to Dream past my own limitations. I’m have started to Dream of being able to change those mental idiosyncrasies or negative habits, and think inside the way I try to lead my life on the outside. And through this blog hope to be moving to through the goals stage and now need to start developing my process to reach that goal. Meditation, swimming, reading/listening to books, writing/blogging, and the process starts…

Wow, if you have made it this far, I thank you for being on this journey with me. I hope this wasn’t sharing too much, but again figured it’s your choice to read or not. 😉  It’s all part of my process and breaking down some of that fixed mindset stuff. Breaking down some of those “walls” trying to act like I have this all figured out and being worried about being judged by my actions all the time. In fact, I’m still waiting to feel like I have it all together like I thought adults my age now did when I was a kid, but that would be a whole different blog.

My Month of Hope continues with a 3-day worth blog to get me through day 18 now. Thank you again to everyone on this short journey through Hope. It’s been a great way for me to start 2019, and I am looking forward to a great year ahead of learning and growth.

2 thoughts on ““Hope” in my daily life…. Month of Hope

  1. Love this, Jeff! Sooo much to comment on, but can’t do that now. Suffice it to say for now that I believe I have a good feel for where you are coming from. A couple of “bottom line “ things that I think are applicable here are self- confidence and a high patience level – at least they are for me. You have every right to have the the first-don’t know where you stand on the second (that one takes a lot of work and not many people seem to have one). 😊 This sounds to me that you are on a good track! Keep it up! Much much love, Pops. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

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