Running Into Discipline

Earlier this year, a friend and I started talking about the realities of running in a marathon this year. My initial reaction was “are you serious?” He said, “you’ve run the Shamrock Shuffle. You can definitely train yourself to run a marathon.” So after some consideration and entering my credit card info on the registration page, I signed up to run the Missoula Marathon on July 13th, 2014. Yes, this race is in Montana.

Why this year? Isn’t it too much at once?

That’s a great question. On the brink of a new year with a promotion at work that brings new demands and other responsibilities outside of the day job, adding on a training schedule between now and July seems like a ridiculous idea and a sure fire bet for burnout.  And on paper, it very well could be. A full time job that often takes me beyond the 40 hour work week, a proposed 4 day a week marathon training schedule, me wanting to read more books, write more here on this blog, watching TV shows that everyone’s talking about, AND spending time with people: is it all possible? Can it all be done by one man? Can I be all things?

Maybe, but with a large dose of discipline.

While I naturally love to have a flexible schedule and be open to the random opportunities life has to offer at any given moment, the fact is that won’t work for getting myself ready for a 26.2 mile run. I’m not a fan of living by a strict calendar when I’m outside of work. I love the space I leave for myself to think, mentally wander, and just “be.” However, the body and mind don’t magically become capable of big achievements without some serious work.

And change.

Yes, it’s going to mean things like swapping out Netflix for a 4 mile run after work on Tuesdays followed up by reading a couple chapters of a new book. It will mean forcing myself to call it quitting time from work before 8PM so I can spend time reflecting on whatever’s on my mind and writing about it here. It will mean trading in my precious Saturday mornings in bed for a double digit endurance run. And it will also probably mean (trying to) eat better so I have the energy I’ll need to do all of this and not pass out.

I can’t expect my life to ever be any different if nothing about it stays the same. I suspect I will learn useful life lessons while I train for this marathon, many of which plenty of marathoners before me already have learned, but I hope my personal perspectives and reflections will be of some interest to you over the coming months.

Now excuse me while I avoid all that tries vehemently to distract me from everything I’d like to do this year.

You Won’t Believe How You Feel After Reading This

I don’t know about you, the reader, but I grow more concerned and fearful every day that our culture is falling deeper into this trap of wanting more “wow factor” out of just about everything we experience. And of course, these experiences cannot come from a longer drawn out process. No, they must be instant, emotionally touching (but only positive), and promise to change how you view the world. This has become a noteworthy characteristic of places like Upworthy and similar viral content focused sites. Social media sharing has primarily become about the feel good moment.

However, leave it to news outlets to pick up the slack on the other end of the spectrum. We all know by now how the news (perhaps a misused term these days) use outlandish titles and exaggerated terminology to describe just about everything to keep us hooked in. This is nothing new and has been a tactic used for decades.

Social media, and us as creators of most of that media, have fallen right into the same patterns that has made us hate the news and write that way in status updates. We even do it in our day to day conversation. Our stories must be dramatic, “epic”, “amazeballs”, or whatever other terms are in now. (I’m clearly showing some age now.) It hasn’t helped that we’ve been telling our kids and each other we’re all “different and unique” in our own special ways. So now we all think we have some great story to tell – and really some of us do. I have wondered before how the Internet and social media channels have increased our narcissism or simply given us an outlet for what was always there. And thanks to Facebook, we all have a mini montage of our lives with a emotion-inducing soundtrack to watch and share in case you weren’t there the first when you posted all of it.

I’m waiting to see the day when this one-upping of everything bubble will burst like the early 2000’s tech bubble or the mid 2000’s housing bubble. This can’t go on for much longer without it imploding.  In ways, I look forward to seeing where we can do next. Perhaps it’ll be a world where solid content speaks for itself and we can analyze and identify it for what it truly is instead of being told it’s the best thing we’ve ever read. No seriously – THE BEST.

The Difference Between Inaction and Reflection

Action vs Reflection

A few months back, I wrote a post about The Ache of Inaction and the effects of a season in my life where activity levels were low in a number of areas. Life, in ways, has been jump started again back into a flurry of actions, projects, and more mental and physical stimulation than I’ve experienced for some months.


As is common when new initiatives or goals are identified, we naturally throw ourselves into it 100%. You stay late at work because you want to, or keep reading that book because the story has pulled you in or the ideas being presented are sparking ideas you’ve never had before, or you’re at the gym 5 days a week pushing yourself to the max and loving every second of it. This is an exciting time and with good reason. These times are indicative of change and progress, two things which many people want whether or not they know it. It feels like progress is happening.


However, it’s impossible to be on the move all the time. Our own bodies remind us of that daily. In the midst of action, it’s not uncommon to take moments of pause. I believe it’s in the pause that the real work is being done.

It’s that moment of non-movement where the real work begins. That information you’ve been soaking in needs to be processed. The story you read opens up as you ponder upon the author’s words and draw your own conclusions. Connections are being made in your brain that were just waiting for you sit down for a minute and not do anything else. Training programs for large goals like marathons specifically call for a day of rest because the body needs to take a break! The same must happen for us mentally to truly thrive and succeed.

If we constantly try to stuff ourselves with information, when are we going to actually do anything with that data? Not stopping to analyze anything creates a dangerous behavioral pattern of just taking in and stuffing ourselves with information that we ultimately do nothing with moments later.
This year, I am planning to embark on a lot of initiatives and am setting what I consider to be significant goals for myself. I have new (to be defined) goals and responsibilities at work. I’m seriously considering training for and running a marathon this year. I want to be more well read and to write more in the midst of all this too. It will be critical for my physical, mental, and spiritual health that I maintain a healthy cycle of action and reflection. Too much of either and I will fall short of where I want and need to be. I either will burn myself out if I don’t ever stop or fail miserably if I just lay around on the couch for too long. Let’s hope neither happens.

Looking Back: Top 5 WUGO Blog Posts of 2013

Another year, another set of WUGO ramblings and reflections. 2013 didn’t produce as much writing as I’d hoped, which is something I plan to focus on next year. I suspect there will be much on my mind to work through in the next 12 months.  But for the curious, which WUGO blog posts garnered the most views from readers according to Google Analytics?

1) Interactive and Thoughtful Discourse Part 1

Somehow a 2011 post and 2012 Top 5 post makes it way to the top of this year’s list! It seems its contents continue to resonate with the Internet. It seems our general lack of ability to truly have conversation is hitting home with readers.

2) The Ache of Inaction

The most recent post covering a multitude of topics and areas in my life takes second place this year for readers. And I’ve had conversations with a handful of you sharing your appreciation and resonance with the post.

3) That Sounds Like a Mis-spent Childhood

Not my first blog post on childhood, but this was the most recent one reflecting on my own unique experiences growing up. (It’s OK, I know we’re all special and unique, just like everyone else.)

4) To Be or Not To Be All Things

An early summer post on trying to do it all – or at least appear that way. Something I should go back, read, and reflect on in my current state in life.

5) Technology & Life: The More Things Change

And last but not least, an early 2013 post looking at how our present always has some foundation in the past and that we shouldn’t so quickly forget that. I also looked at how culture has grown in its laziness to make decisions and desire to understand how things work.

2014 and Beyond

I feel like I say this every year, or at least think it, but 2013 brought a lot of changes with it that will flow over into the coming year. These changes will cause me to rethink a lot of what I know and challenge me to stretch and grow in ways I had previously not planned for. Should be an interesting ride.

Loyal and new readers alike: If you could choose what topics you want me to write and share about, what would they be? Sound off in the comments or wherever I share this link online (FB, Twitter, Google+).

The Ache of Inaction

Too tired to care

The longer you’re in a state of inaction, the more difficult it is to get out of it.

Recenly, I’ve learned some lessons that can unfortunately only be learned with time. Over the last few months, I spent way too much sprawled out on my couch consuming too much Netflix.  I should’ve been exercising, reading books, or writing more on this blog.  I started noticing things in myself by the end of the summer both physically and mentally that gave me concern and an impetus to act.

Sitting or laying around for too long caused literal physical aches and soreness. Not only was I not hitting the gym or running outside to keep myself in good shape, my inactivity was discouraging me from even doing minimal stuff some days – and weeks. A similar challenge was affecting me mentally. Ideas that were trying to make their way out onto paper or blog were held back; books that were begging to be read were left on digital and physical bookshelves. Personal growth has been stunted by the amazing power of non-movement. You don’t realize what it can do you to emotionally until you’re snapped out of it and recognize that you’ve been missing out. Inertia is something that should never be underestimated.

Continue reading The Ache of Inaction

That Sounds Like a Mis-Spent Childhood

This post starts out with a quote from a coworker who usually knows just the “right” thing to say in the “right” situations. He makes many of us at work smile and laugh – and maybe sometimes reach for that HR department we don’t have (thankfully.)

Continue reading That Sounds Like a Mis-Spent Childhood

The Teen Years – Career Edition

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about longevity and loyalty. It was sparked by making it to 12 years at my job and a friend who I’ve known for more than 2/3rds of my life getting married last June. This year, I celebrate making it to 13 years in my post-college career life. And unlike the first time I turned 13, I feel more confident in myself and that I’m only beginning to come into my own, male pubescent voice cracking not included.

Compared to my first venture into the years ending with “-teen”, my self confidence is much more pronounced. I’m mostly less awkward about my interactions with people who are older than I am or have more experience in the industry I work in. I feel knowledgeable about the things I talk about. My tenure at the company brings with it a sense of being the “old guy” who’s been around the neighborhood and knows the history of everyone who’s come and gone.

But unlike the original teen years, I recognize there’s a lot of areas I still need to grow in. I don’t have that teenager invincibility mentality. There are consequences to actions we take and decisions we make (hey, I rhymed!). I don’t know everything there is to know, though the expectation is there sometimes at work. For me, a lot of this revelation comes from being able to grow and change in a familiar environment. While some would argue we need to change it up more often, the consistency flies in the face of a culture that on the outside craves change and “new” for the sake of new more than having a constant to center ourselves on.

So, here I am facing 13 again as an adult. Hopefully I’m wiser and funnier. And maybe I’ll finally beat pimples this time around too.


To Be or Not To Be All Things

Are expectations on myself too extreme?

To describe the predicament I feel I am in, let me start with a list of areas that based on my career, personal interests, stage of life, and relationships I expect myself to be versed in to some capacity (list in no particular order):

Tech support/advice for everything with electricity especially for the tech industry , programming advice, trend watcher, account manager, good listener, giver of wise counsel, man of patience, semi-amateur photographer enthusiast, teacher, homeowner, welcoming host, humorous, culture/media “intaker” and critic, decent blog writer, great “director”, email writer, able to quickly absorb and interpret everything I read, son, friend, “uncle” to others’ kids, all around smart guy, consistently cool, calm, and collected, and above all — awesome.

I have this perception that expectations on me are high all the time. Everything I’ve listed above and more could be “needed” from me at any given moment and I must be prepared and knowledgeable. I must be expert of all I survey and more. If I can’t keep up, disappointment begins to seep in; first from myself, sometimes from others.

As a person who ultimately wants to serve and please others, internal pressure increases to stay sharp in ever increasing ways. From knowing how to diagnose computer problems you’ve never encountered to knowing how to properly phrase a thought in a teaching moment or fully grasping the story of a book’s theme or how to console a hurting friend in a time of need, I want to be the best at it for the sake of the recipient. My own goal to always have a well thought out and appropriate response to any situation challenges and haunts me. While I am not a perfectionist, I am a “want-to-be-great-at-everything-ist”. I want to be whatever the definition of the modern Renaissance man is.

What I want at the end of the day is to be able to intelligently speak in just about any situation; to always have an eloquent word to put to paper, blog, or tweet; to analyze what I hear and read in a way that’s well rounded and isn’t simply a rehash of another person’s ideas; to take that perfect photo the first time I put that camera up to my eye. I want to be something that only exists in movies and TV shows. Culture seems to demand this of us as we gain access to more and more information. Why can’t we all read everything online and able to retain it to intelligently discuss it all? Why haven’t we kept up with every meme or funny story or big news story and have opinions on it?

The problem is I can feel my own idealism that drives me to want to be all things to all people slowly wearing me thin and pulling me into more directions than is realistic for people. With my inherent limitations, I am forced to make decisions on where I want to go deep. What’s worth reading online and offline? What subjects must I leave in the past so I can focus on other ones instead? Which people do I need to spend more time with?

Narrow and deep, not wide but shallow right?

Life, Relationships, Technology. Processing at slightly slower than the speed of light.