Missing the Mark: Where’s the Bullseye?

There are two targets in life for any attempt at success. The one you aim for, and the one you land on.

Now, with this principle in mind, looking at the 8 targets above, you’d be surprised to find that we probably don’t agree on where the bullseye is.

Well that’s a little silly. Unless he means the circle around the bullseye isn’t the bullseye and that the true bullseye is the X?

Close! Actually, the bullseye for me is the smallest spot of black on the X. The middle of the X, and then smaller than that. Why?

Because most people don’t aim for it. However, it’s the only target I see. The bullseye IS the target….until I miss. Then I reevaluate my strengths and weaknesses based on where my shot landed (second target).

When you’re striving for excellence, are you narrowing your focus enough to pinpoint exactly where you want to be? Don’t let the world set the standard. In competition, the rings count for something. You will be awarded points.

But get this: While I get the same amount of points for hitting the X as I would for being inside the smallest ring around the X, it’s not enough. Your standard should exceed anything anyone could ever set for you.

REMEMBER–special note: While striving for excellence, appreciate where you are, but always push towards where you want to be. Perfecting over perfection. You may never arrive, but you can always strive as hard as possible.

And whatever you do, do it now.

 

Getting a Little Closer to the Clouds

I called in.

Doing this in the middle of the week pushes me to really make it count. So this morning my beautiful wife and I wasted no time in getting dressed and hitting the trail. Eisenhower Park in San Antonio Texas is absolutely a great way to start the day with miles worth of accomplishment.

With our little man being taken care of by the in-law’s, we have the week to be more spontaneous and venture out into the city…and a few other cities in the surrounding area. The last time we hiked this trail, we weren’t as consistent as we are now. This is the first time the long way around–filled with higher elevations and boulders to climb over–felt like just another hike, in the best way possible.

In fact, had we not gone today, I wouldn’t have realized that our 1 yr 10 month old son is more than ready to be helped along. I may have to carry him towards the end, but that’s fine by me. He loves dirt, rocks, being outdoors, and hiking. Minimum and maximum criteria for this kind of an outing.

As far as the experience we shared together alone, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Fueled by a simple McDonald’s pit stop, we were ready to huff and puff up those hills. There’s something about filling the silence between conversations that makes you more aware of each other’s unique presence. We reflected on the week and our goals for the future. We talked about friends and family. We talked about work, but not for very long. You have to be intentional about seeking out the recesses of each other’s mind. It’s not a forced, but rather loving sense of commitment and curiosity that is usually hindered by the nuances of regular background noise and people you interact around.

At some point I stopped and gave Monica a long kiss.

“It’s just us.”

Those three words have carried us through trials and sums up the best part of working as a team. It says whatever we accomplish, we accomplish together. That’s already something to be proud of. That’s a success in itself. God watches us use a “fear-setting” technique in that phrase that allows us to acknowledge the odds of success are better in unity. There’s no other option. It’s all or nothing.

At the top of the watch tower, the city was laid out before us in all its distant appeal. That’s how far I want to be removed from the norm today. As far as this trail allows.

A lot of people refuse to be away from their kids for any long length of time. That’s admirable! For us, however, it’s done in moderation and with a purpose. There’s a time for everything. I highly encourage everyone that can to try it out. It gets easier the more you try it. The first time wasn’t easy.

It gives your kids a break from you and has proven to be a wonderful reminder to take things back to the basics every now and then, keeping each other’s hearts in their own special spotlight. It’s amazing how many light towers a couple can need even while they’re only a few feet apart. But these moments keep me moored to the love that hold us in place amidst the storms and sunny days of life.

What are some activities in your own life that can exclude the world and include only your spouse? Give it shot and make life happen.

And whatever you do, do it now.

If You’re On-Time, You’re In A Rush

“If you’re on-time, you’re late.”

Sounds wise and shocking, until you realize it’s not. Impressive, because it takes something acceptable and makes it sound as though it’s completely unacceptable. Clever.

You get a little older and realize this is a lie. Kind of like when you clock-in at the last minute, fly into the parking lot by the seat of your pants a few times, show up to pick up a date at 7pm…on the dot, turn in that writing assignment to your eye-rolling professor, write “Happy Birthday” at 11:57 p.m. on someone’s facebook wall, and somehow make it to the curb with your trash can in the morning…and you know what? You got away with it. Because you’re not late. You’re in a rush. 

That’s the true saying: “If you’re on-time, you’re in a rush.”

Until now, it’s been unnoticeable to you. Because when you’re on-time, you’re good. Not great, but you’re good. And who’s going to tell you about this? Nobody. Because it’s your right. And you’re abusing it or giving up a life of peaceful, swift, and graceful entries in and out of each experience during the course of your very hurried life.

Think about it. You’re always in motion. Everything in your schedule leading up to an event and deadline in your life is now a slave to perfection and the absence of friction when you’re on-time. You don’t get to smoothly transition. You get to hurry. What used to be a negligible amount of change or deviation is now a deal-breaker. Traffic is a something to worry about. Married and a family man? Ask me how that works. Wait, don’t. I’ll tell you. Your wife can’t forget anything on the way to the car. Your kids can’t forget their favorite toy. You don’t get to look for your favorite station on the radio. The car will remain on 0 miles to empty. You will run to work. You will breathe heavily even after you’ve “made it”. Because you don’t have time on your side anymore. You surrendered that partnership when you waited until it was too late to be early.

On the other hand, you don’t have to make people wonder. You don’t have to be the person that others would love to hate, but can’t. It would have been easier to say “You don’t have to be difficult”, but that’s really what I meant to say there.

Instead of breaking even with your day, let me repeat that…instead of BREAKING EVEN with your day (meaning you gained nothing), why not invest in a small reserve of time that allows for human error? Avoid frustration. You’ll have to acknowledge that you can’t control everything, and that necessitates the need for a cushion of reserve time before the next appointment or commitment you’ve made. But trust me, it’s worth it. You’re less of a headache that way. You have less headaches that way. Ever seen the guy that always has a silly reason for being late when he finally is? Nobody cares a whole lot about that guy. They sympathize, but they can’t change him. Be the master of your schedule and make “early” the ideal, not simply the “noble” thing to do.

And whatever you do, do it now.

 

This IS the Good Part

We value our family time together. In fact, “family” and “time” tend to be used in combination quite often around our home.

Lately, our son, Raiden, has been the prime motivation for getting outdoors on our days off. With Texas winters acting a lot like any other state’s summer, it’s easy to get sick with the constant change in temperature. We figured we’d power through the gut-busting, food-laden holidays, but with at least one of us sniffling at all times, we compensated with healthier foods and little movie nights as a family….now that we’re on the other side of that, our routine is finally taking shape again.

Raiden is my model for getting the most out of my day. It’s a simple strategy, really:

Nap when able, stay on your feet, and stay curious.

Translated into our adult world: get some rest, stay active, and put effort into keeping your interest in learning alive.

It’s not the same trail every week. It’s the trail where Raiden learned the difference between a boulder and a rock. That’s not the same trail running alongside that apartment complex. Last week he learned that Dad’s key ring can’t open every gate around him. Little things like that remind Dad to continue seeing analogies in life. And that bridge is where Raiden started to fear the sound of something he can’t see. The cars overhead. It’s easy to see how patient God is when you’re explaining something so simple, yet something not to be completely understood for a while longer. Belief, but not just by sight.

I try not to be anxious while we’re out there. A 30 minute walk with a stroller is a two and a half hour walk with all of us on foot. But this is what counts. “As good as it gets” will become more precious as he gets older. These simple walks are shaping him to become more independent and fearless than I’ll ever be. And this is all just my perspective. My wife has an entirely different experience than I do. Every time. Nature offers each of us a different serving of humility and reflection.

We’re not getting to the good part. This is the good part.

Rest. Stay active. Learn. ….and love.

And whatever you do, do it now.

 

Asphalt, Fresh Air, and a Throttle

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” -Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

 

Alice is the name of my 2009 Superglide FXDC. As you might have guessed, she shares the name with the heroine from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Why? I’ve always admired Alice’s ability to navigate through a backwards world. How’s that for being relatable?

A few observations from the time I’ve spent on Harley’s:

-It’s a brotherhood.

There’s an instant sense of camaraderie when you’re out there and you pass by another rider. Stop for those in need, lend advice when asked, and savor the friendship you may not have past the conversation you’re holding. Blood may be thicker than water, but we’re all filled with both. That 2 or 3 finger salute/wave we give is a sign that you’re never alone and we all wish for the best for each other.

-Don’t buy a Harley to save money or gas. 

Do it for the love of the ride. Fuel economy is a bonus. Parts and maintenance can add up quickly. But you can’t and shouldn’t put a price on outpacing the wind. Especially when it’s done while engaging all your senses, fully exposed (some people prefer the term unprotected). You just can’t get that same sense of liberation in a car (cage). The satisfaction of earning miles through the work of your hands rivals surpasses any vehicle I’ve ever been in. You’re so cut off from the world by panels, mirrors, a/c and a hood that you forget the limitations of man are being broken with every gear that’s shifted. There’s a greater sense of realization out there on that bike.

-Take care of what takes care of you. 

Your whip is valuable because your life is valuable. Don’t skimp and play Mr. Cheapskate just because it’s easier. The more time and attention you put into cleaning her up and preserving what you have, the more likely you are to live long enough to tell your kids and their kids what it truly means to ride. Your bike gets you to and from, creates long-lasting memories, and carries a soul that can’t be replaced.

-Be concerned, but don’t worry when it comes to death. 

If you’re going to constantly worry about dying, then don’t ride. People love to ask “Are you okay with the fact that something may happen?” Well, no. Who is? And how unfair is that? If we had to become comfortable with the idea of death every time we decided to try something new, we’d accomplish very little and miss out on a lot. Back to the main lesson, though…we tend to gravitate towards what we think can happen and help our thoughts come to fruition. Sow a worry, and you’re more likely to reap an accident or worse. Keep your head in the game and try to make sure your skill-set outweighs as much of the risk within your ability to do so. The rest of it is the stuff of prayers I pray every time I kick my clutch into first. I don’t think about angels as much as the God that made them.

-Ride with your kids and your spouse.

Some of the earliest sounds my 1 1/2 year old has imitated in this world has been the Vance and Hines pipes when I roll in from a hard day’s work. I love that he’s so amazed at how it all works. It’s the first thing he points to when we leave the house, and I plan on taking him on the back with me until he’s old enough to decide whether he’ll ride alongside on his own. I hear it imprints on them forever. As for my wife and family, there’s no greater feeling on the road than when you have you’re loved ones holding on to you, viewing God’s green Earth in ways that some people never will. It’s also humbling. I’ve never spent so much time in silence while actively contributing to the strength my marriage has, or the bond my family shares.

Alice will never be my favorite lady, but she’s been a blessing. The beauty of riding is that you can’t foresee how even the next leg of the next trip will change you or the people you care about. It’s an adventure. Fueled by gas but driven with passion. Stay safe out there and ride like you mean it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with a Vamp–My Wife: The Lady I Adore. Sometimes From A Distance

So I thought I’d try something different and interview the person closest to me: my wife. It’s a candid, humorous look into her mind and was meant in part to help me study her. You should always strive to study your partner. I revel in the pursuit of knowing her better than anyone else with the purpose of serving her in more and more ways.

 

Here’s a glimpse into the life of the woman I love.

 

 

On Marriage:

 

What makes being a wife feel special?

 

 

I think knowing that I’m the one you choose to wake up with and go to bed with. On dates where we go for a big dinner or special occasion, I like that I’m not forced to wear makeup and get all dressed up. Some guys would push it on their wife, and make it a “Hey, is that how you’re going…?”

Trusting me all day, every day with our kid: That I’ll take care of him the right way, knowing how many snacks to give him, not overfeeding him when it comes to sweets—**Crashing sound interrupts midsentence**—[Raiden starts crying in the other room, walks over, Monica gives him a hug & a kiss, asking if he’s alright]feeding him first before feeding myself.

 

What advice would you give to any couple considering marriage?

 

Just know that bad times do happen. And more often than we’d like. But at the end of the day, God allowed you to marry this person and marry without postponement. You picked a day and that day came…you just need to push and remember why you married in the first place. You ARE meant to be…without interruption.

 

What is the best takeaway you have from watching your parent’s relationship as you grew up?

 

Always have your disagreements behind closed doors and don’t raise your voice (as much as possible). Don’t leave the house with a mad look… Let the kids know before you go you just need to get out for a bit. Even if you need to just get some air.

I’m sure my Dad left for a drive or my Mom went outside just to cool down….but we didn’t really know.

 

Why is that important to you?

 

You always read about things like kids who bring guns to school, and it always starts at home. If the parents are fighting, sometimes they feel like they’re mad at the world. …I don’t want to screw up Raiden.

 

What do you think is important to look for in a husband?

 

   Can he be entertained? Can I make him laugh? Does he have a spontaneous appetite like I do? Doing things like “restaurant hopping”? You know, going for burgers from Burger King, fries from McDonald’s, and a shake from Whataburger all at once.

   And the outside does matter. I know people try to say that (attraction) on the outside doesn’t matter, it’s what’s inside that counts…. But you need to be attracted to someone in that way. It makes me less tempted to have lust for sexy Chippendales-looking guys.

 

Now, this is a total Mexican thing to say: But does he get along with my family? Can our relationship grow like this? Or do I have to make extra, separate time for him and sneak away to be with my family? Can they spend time together?

 

On fitness:

 

Which band or type of music gets you ready for a workout?

 

That would have to be…Jason Aldean. Country. I love running to it. It just has an upbeat, party vibe that inside his music. Specifically, I like running to She’s Country (by Aldean).

 

What are some of your goals in regards to fitness?

 

I’d like to be able to run for miles and miles without gasping for air at the end. Getting to the point where working out is fun and less of a chore.; something you have to do.

 

What type of outdoor activities do you find yourself drawn to the most?

 

It’s been a long time, but I enjoy outdoor archery vs. indoor archery. Indoor shooting doesn’t get my attention as much as outdoor shooting does. It’s less realistic and doesn’t have all the fresh air that comes with it.

 

On relaxation:

 

What helps you wind down after a long day?

 

Well, I know what does, but I don’t think you can put it in your blog!

 

Sure, I can. Just tell me.

 

Honestly, stripping down and turning on the fan on full-blast. Oh, and with a nice glass of wine.

 

**She’s right…. I fully object to encouraging having the fan on full-blast. She’s a bit of an eskimo. But a naked eskimo. And that changes things.**

 

Is there a certain food or drink that you enjoy separately or paired together in your off-time?

 

Mm…Peter Piper Pizza with a Black Cherry Mojto. I’ve never had them together, but I would like to try that one day.

 

Tell me about the most relaxing experience you’ve had recently.

 

The therapeutic massage that my husband surprised me with. They forgot to give me the hot stone add-on, but all that aside, it was relaxing. Painful, but it seemed like my blood circulation flowed more easily, my knots were taken care of, and the music was perfect for the moment….a flute? Just the feel of soft, oiled up hands. It was too painful to fall asleep, but I wanted to.

 

**We were arguing that day. A lot. I came home after a jog and said, rather sternly: “LOOK… you OBVIOUSLY don’t understand how to relax or the value of relaxation. So I’m going to help you. At 6 o’ clock you’re going to a 1-hour massage with a Hot Stone therapy and I’m going to watch Raiden. You’re going to go early to fill out some forms. And it’s already paid for, so I don’t want to hear any and’s, if’s, or but’s about it.” **

Something Angry, Something Pride, Something Argued, Something Bride

“Temper is what gets you into trouble. Pride is what keeps you there. “ -Anonymous

 

Picture this: You’re sitting down next to the woman whom you’ve forsaken all others for and you decide to remark rather offhandedly—by the way, please note that our remarkable English language has deemed it necessary to have such a word, one that describes both a complete lack of forethought and serves as a written warning that the road ahead in this story is indeed perilous and ornamented with danger.

But I digress…..so you’re sitting there and casually remark:

 

“Man, you know what I could really use? A new [insert general and non-specific noun]. Yeah, the next time we head to the motorcycle shop I think we should buy one. Maybe today, if you don’t mind, my most tempered and ever-loving bride.”

 

I don’t think this is verbatim, but you get the picture.

 

She retorts—“That’s funny.” (Was it?) ”…I’ve been asking you for months to fix my (insert car part here) and you haven’t lifted a finger. But all of a sudden your bike is more important and now everything needs to be done right away??”

 

“Whoa, now. I did say ‘if you don’t mind’. And you seem to be implying that I wasn’t open to both errands being run today for both vehicles. How about we get both errands done while we’re out and about?”

 

“That’s fine, Andrew.”

 

“It doesn’t seem fine.” —Notice the absence of provocation. I’m simply being thorough in ensuring my wife is wholly satisfied with the end product of this currently skirted argument.

 

“Yeah, I said it’s fine.”

 

*pause for effect*

 

“…It just seems like you weren’t really concerned about it until today when you needed something.”

 

There it is. A few back-and-forth’s, a few unsolicited clarifications later, and we’ve arrived at a little place I like to call: Heateddebatesville, Texas. Where it’s always sunny and tempers boil over.

 

But wait! What’s this? Wife-partner has made an unexpected play! Just as the big guns are about to come out (not literally), and the transition from implosion to explosion is about to unfold, she unexpectedly calls for a truce! A white flag of the “Look, it’s not a big deal. Let’s not fight, okay?” variety.

 

This is a problem for two reasons.

1.) I was just about to unleash a barrage of critical points that would have devastated her cause. And subsequently 2.) I’m so worked up I don’t know what to do with myself. This is where temper turns to pride.

 

Whereas a wiser man might have relaxed his grip and lowered his now-leveled barrel, I decided to go ahead give a lil’ crank-a-roo on my Gatling gun, anyway.

 

This is typically where you see the following fruitless responses:

 

“Oh, just like that? Just like THAT, huh??” –The I’m going to maniacally and rhetorically question this new-development…a lot method.

 

“NO, you started this, now finish it!”–The Arguments are like a sandwich and good meat is expensive approach.

 

“I knew it. You just can’t admit that you were wrong to begin with.” –Ah, the oft-used What a revelation. I wasn’t sure of my convictions till now, but this did away with my wishy-washiness. Thank you, my dear strategy.

 

Many a men have been known to try and navigate out of this Bermuda Triangle of love and marriage. Many have never been seen from again. Our moral compass tends to spin out of control at this point. Quite frankly, a few years later I can’t remember even half of what it was we were fighting about.

Our words of love and even righteous anger should be like your proposal, played out over and over during the course of your marriage and always presented with the utmost consideration towards reception and environment.

But I do know this: My pride has taken over where my anger should have burned out or bowed out long ago. It’s easy to let your commitment to an argument grow legs. How dare your spouse get you all riled up, just to call it all off in a moment’s notice! Ironically, a sudden change of pace is what you were initially looking for, but now that you’re fully invested in it, you feel like you have to experience that full release! The conflict arises when this Get-your-money’s-worth mentality starts to fuel a spat past the point of a healthy conflict–which promotes growth and accountability—to a place where bickering and verbal-sparring points are all that you’ll have left at the end of the day. Speaking from experience, it’s usually always better to make an extra deposit in the marriage bank and, in a few words, leave it alone. At least for a while.

 

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.” –Proverbs 29:11 NLT

 

That’s not to say that there won’t be a time where you feel a burning desire to get one more piece of valid, edifying advice in. But usually, the “real-talk” that we put so much stock into is worth enough to save for a later time. And it grows with interest. We marry for the “forever” of this lifetime, but argue as if it’s the last five minutes we’ll ever have again. Our words of love and even righteous anger should be like your proposal, played out over and over during the course of your marriage and always presented with the utmost consideration towards reception and environment. Easier said than done? Well, what isn’t? I can’t think of anything I’ve spoken into existence, today. Or ever, for that matter. Action will always be harder than thought. But extremely rewarding.

Patience in the heat of the moment. Humility through reflection. Tactfulness in the calm of a pause. Silence isn’t a weakness. These are tools of the wise. Forged in restraint and wielded to cut through a dense and tense situation to a clearing where you’ll have a more welcomed opinion. Even if that means reversing course and revisiting a point of contention at a later time.

With everything to lose and even more to gain, I would recommend trying this the next time you find a disagreement gaining momentum and reaching a sudden halt. Feed the fire of passion in your marriage rather than stoke the flames of anger and pride. And whatever you do, do it now.