Removing my Self

When I started my mediation app today I realized that the app’s motto is “Treat Your Head Right”. This got me thinking… which isn’t a great way to start my meditation, but whatever. I find it beneficial to remove the “self” from my body and mind. If I see my mind and body as something I love, but separate from my being then I am more comfortable and motivated to adopt healthy behaviors.

Instead of seeing it as “my mind” I see it as a close friend. If my best friend told me that in order for him to reach his full potential he needed me to spend ten minutes a day doing something that was mildly uncomfortable or difficult I would gladly do it because I love him, and I know he would do the same for me. If I think of my mind and body along those lines it makes it easier for me to prioritize much more than ten minutes… hell, dedicating one hour to training my mind (meditation, learning a foreign language, reading, writing, solving puzzles, etc) and one hour a day to physical activity is an easy price to pay for my best friend.

It is even better than that though, because by helping my best friend become the best they can be I get to reap many of the benefits. It is a win-win for me, I get to feel good because I helped a friend out, and I get mentally and physically stronger.

This view of the mind and body as separate from the self probably won’t work for many people. I’m sure many people are more responsive to viewing at as a strict cost/benefit analysis (if I dedicate one hour today that will give me greater than one hours worth of value at some time in the future), but for me it helps to remove the ego from the act. My mind and body should be my two best friends and I should treat them as such. I wouldn’t poison my human best friend, I wouldn’t work towards them being turning into a mental or physical sloth, I don’t want them to have a shorter, unhealthy life… and I should do those things to my body or mind.

I love my body and mind, they are pretty kick ass, and I should treat them like I love them.

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Next Chapter

I’ve been having a lot of trouble focusing on my writing lately. To be honest, the only thing on my mind is the next chapter of my life that is about to begin. I made the announcement on Facebook last week, but I have not written anything about it here yet. Long story short, Anna and I have decided to pause the bike ride for a few years and move to Wilmington, NC. I don’t want to rehash all the reasons here (though, I will copy/paste my Facebook status at the bottom of the post for those interested), but it is something we are both incredibly excited about.

Why Wilmington? Well, it has so much that we look for in a town plus a ton of bonuses. The city is dog-friendly, bike-friendly, cheap, near a beach, has a college, and an active community. It is also near bigger cities that can provide opportunities for new sexual experiences, concerts, and an airport for travel. It is also near the mountains and the city of Asheville, which is an area we’ve always wanted to visit and hope to spend a fair amount of time in. It is also a reasonable drive to other places we love like Charleston, Savannah, Richmond, and DC (well, we don’t love DC, but we love some of our friends who live there). The cheap housing will also allow us to get a multi-bedroom house with a yard on our budget, which means lots of Couchsurfing/Warmshowers hosting, friends can visit, and we can start gardening and home brewing.

So, what will this new chapter mean for my life?

Work will be the same, though I may look for some part time work depending on how expensive life gets. It has been a while since I was in a stable location for several years. I am pretty minimalist but there might be some unexpected needs or wants that pop up. Life on a bike is really cheap (you basically have only a cell phone and health insurance bill), living in a house is very different. The things I’m really excited about is focusing on rounding out my mental, spiritual, and physical fitness.

Health has a lot to do with diet and having a kitchen will put me in greater control of what goes into my tummy. Ideally I will be able to take my veganism closer to “raw” and cut out some of the processed foods that have been a part of my bike riding diet. I did a quick meal plan (below) and I should be able to spend less than $100 a week on food and easily meet my dietary needs. Also, and this is a big one, I’m basically cutting out alcohol for the next few months. The only time I will drink is special occasions, like an upcoming bachelorette party in Canada and my birthday in October. Other than that, I will try not to drink any alcohol and will not keep any in the house. Luckily, Anna supports this and has the same goals. Having a partner that shares your goals and methods is super important to success.

In addition to my food, exercise is going to be important for me to feel healthy. It would be really easy for me to get out of shape when we stop. A major benefit of the bike ride was activity was a necessary part of life, now I will need to make an effort. Anna and I signed up for a half-marathon to help with motivation and I will be joining the local YMCA to use their weight room, pool, and yoga classes. We are also joining a local cycling and running club to get some community support and to make friends. I’m also interested in barre and martial arts, but I’m not sure if I will jump into that right away.

I’ve never run a half-marathon before. In fact, I really haven’t run at all since my time in Army, so I have no idea what I’m doing. But, then again, I had never really biked before my first cross-country ride and that seemed to turn out okay. I am taking precautions with the running and will be consulting with professionals to make sure I have the right shoes and get a training plan that works for me. I know that running uses different muscles than cycling and is harder on the knees. As much as I want robot knees someday I don’t think the technology is advanced enough in 2016, so I should probably take care of my body.

I will be very likely be recording this time in detail and blogging about it. I want to keep track of my weight, measurements, and such during the few months leading up to the half-marathon. During this time I will take lots of nude pictures to have a visual record of this time, and they will probably be shared on this site. Don’t worry, I will provide ample warnings to prevent anyone from accidentally seeing my booty or flaccid penis in these non-sexual (kind of medical) pics.

This break will also give me an opportunity to focus more on my writing. I am dedicated to finishing the book about my solo cross-country bike ride, as well as submitting some of my sci-fi story ideas to be published. Anna and I are also working on a series of children’s books about our adventures around the US and a “Couple’s Guide to Adventuring” that will share what we’ve learned by spending two years together cycling nearly 10,000 miles.

Another thing we are looking forward to is accomplishing things that are impossible on the road. We want to expand our sex life to be more than just “maintenance sex”, we want to start gardening, and I want to become fluent in a foreign language. I’ll also be doing a lot of reading about transpersonal psychology to decide if that is a future career path.

To be honest, the thing I’m looking forward to most is building a community. Some of the clubs we will join will help with that, but I also want to start volunteering. I’m sure I can find local animal shelters, LGBT community centers, women’s shelters, and Planned Parenthood facilities that can use support and volunteers. The kindness of strangers has been such a part of my life and I want to make sure I’m returning the karma.

Anyway, I’m fucking excited and I can’t stop making lists and schedules and researching all the things I want to do. My little heart is all a flutter with the possibilities.

 

*Facebook Announcement*
“After a short conversation, Anna and I have decided to stop the bike ride for a few years after this next week. There were several factors that influenced this decision. None of them alone would be enough for us to alter our plans, but all of them together made us realize that we needed to change.

First, we just weren’t having that much fun anymore. Our frustration and stress runs deeper than the shitty roads of the south. We both started dreading the days when we had to ride. We love cycling, but that doesn’t mean we want to be forced to do it. It is better to stop now than to keep going until we hate it.

Second, we have been presented with an opportunity to live with our friendIvy for a few months and then move to Wilmington for a few years. As wonderful as it is to travel, we haven’t really had solid home since 2014 and we miss it a bit. We want to do home brewing, yoga, gardening, go on our honeymoon, get tattoos, learn to dance, begin fire staff again, take up rock climbing or surfing, foster animals, go to Burning Man, host Couchsurfers, take classes, etc, and that is more plausible with a home.

Third, the current logistics would make much of our journey a terrible rush… and we don’t want that. It is hot as balls and we would be on time crunch to get north.

So, what does that mean for you?
Probably nothing, unless you want to come visit us in Wilmington and hang out on the beach in the next few years. You have a place with us.

Post-Script: There was a surprising surge of anxiety about this while we discussed it. We felt like we were quitters or something… Luckily, we realized that bullshit. It is our life to do what we wish, and that includes changing your mind. You shouldn’t let past decision prevent future pleasure.”

*Starting Meal Plan*
Total Calories: ~2,000
Protein: ~77g
Fat: ~65g
Carbs: ~227g

Breakfast – Oatmeal with fruit, black bean and veggie scramble, avocado toast (~820 calories)
Snack 1 – Almonds (~100 calories)
Lunch – Veggie wraps (~450 calories)
Snack 2 – Grilled tofu salad (~150 calories)
Dinner – Veggie soup or bowl or chili (~300 calories)
Snack 3 – Fruit and nuts (150 calories)

Starting Meal

Compliments

Compliments are funny things. We all want compliments (probably), but it depends a lot on the situation. I think we tend to prefer compliments that reinforce our hard work towards some goal. If I work hard and get a good grade a compliment on my hard work means a lot more to me than a compliment about something I have no control over, like my eye color. I think this is why I’m always a little awkward when people compliment my eyes or my dog. These things are completely out of my control, unless what they are really saying is “congrats on not getting your eyes stabbed”. We like to think we are doing the right thing, compliments are often a way to tell someone you agree with them and recognize their hard work.

It gets more complicated in our society when it comes to our bodies. For example, I have a Facebook friend who has been working out more and sharing images of her progress. I will generally like these because I support people doing what they want, but I probably won’t ever give her a specific compliment on her body or progress. As someone who hasn’t met her in person I don’t think I have the social capital to compliment that. In addition, I am a male who is in an openish relationship, which means my interactions with women may be met with increased skepticism.

It sucks. I think it is a shame that all humans can’t openly and honestly compliment each other without any assumptions of ulterior motives, but that is the world we live in and we need to operate in reality. Of course, this would be a much smaller issue if we lived in a culture that wasn’t body-negative or sex-negative, and if friends and family saw each other nude more often to create a realistic view of what bodies look like.

Anyway, the world needs more compliments. We need to support each other as we try to better ourselves. Life is too short to be negative or try to tear each other down.

Self Evolution

self-improvement

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions but I kind of get them. New Years is a concrete day to change, it is something we can grasp, it is a benchmark… a new beginning. For me self improvement is incredibly important, if a part of my life stops growing and becomes static I feel like it is dying. My body, mind, and spirit needs to be constantly challenged and face new experiences. With this in mind I am not really making a New Year’s Resolution but I am committed to myself and making the most out of my life.

Body: These fragile sacks of water that we roam around in are what keep our spirits in this plane of existence. I have fallen out of shape since my bike ride and it is time to fix that. I need to improve both my exercise routine and my diet. It will all start with baby steps but I would like to do a half marathon this year and really get into a solid plant based diet. This will have the secondary effect of helping my finances.

Mind: To quote Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books”. I read them constantly and my interests are diverse. I find that I rotate through different subjects in a cyclical way and my knowledge of subjects deepens with each cycle. I want to keep this up but I really want to add more writing to my time as well. I have ideas for my book about my bike ride and I have no excuse for not getting those ideas onto paper. I am also finishing up the requirements for a MA program here in Los Angeles, I’d love to have my first classes underway by the end of the year for a Psychology degree.

Spirit: Nourishing the spirit is important to me and at this point I find meditation and yoga to be the best practice. I will also continue to read varying thoughts on the subject and trying out new practices to see what works for me.

Most people advise actual action items for improvement. That has never really been my style but I see some benefit to it so here is a loose list of habits I’d like to get into to pursue my goals. I might do a blog post or have a private list of how I plan to accomplish these habits… or I may not. I don’t really know yet.

  • Run 2-3 times a week
  • Yoga 2-3 times a week
  • Complete Fire Dancing courses that are offered at Fire Groove
  • Apply to MA programs
  • Meditate daily
  • Finish the book of my ride before summer
  • Start making breakfast for myself 4+ days a week

From the Ideal

So I had a conversation recently with someone who really made me think about how I think. I guess I’ve taken for granted my own thought process and never really articulated it much. This conversation allowed me to harness how I think and gave me the inspiration to vocalize it.

Basically, I very explicitly start with the Ideal after asking myself a question or two. This process was talked about in my post about becoming a vegan (which I suck at but I’m trying). I ask myself what the ideal situation would be and then begin to bring that ideal closer to reality.

To give an example. In an ideal world for me people would always be naked when climate allowed. I believe this would remove social judgement  improve people’s views of their own bodies, help eliminate the over-sexualization of the human form, and provide greater artistic inspiration for people. I think much of the problems that come about are due to suppression of our bodies.

Well, I don’t live in a world where nudity is the norm, so I work with what I’ve got. That means an interest in visiting nudist environments and events, as well as (ideally) having friends that I could be nude around. Even in the pretty liberal crowds I run with the idea of just hanging out and watching a movie naked with your friends is pretty extreme (or maybe it isn’t but nobody has brought it up yet). Until I get to my ideal I act as I can (nude in my room) and encourage conversation and actions to change the social norms.

So, that’s my thought process in a nutshell. Take an ideal, figure out how close you can get to it, and stay there as much as you can.