Todd Mead’s Blog

September 15, 2014

Marc Wilson: Goodbye to an awesome teammate

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:20 pm

I’ve been involved with athletics of some sort or another since I was six years old. It all started on a little league field in Hudson Falls, NY and continues today on all sorts of softball fields throughout the area. I’ve always enjoyed being part of a team and the sport played with a bat and ball has piqued my interest more than the others. Although I enjoy playing in adult hockey leagues there’s something about baseball and softball that hold my attention year after year, even as I head toward the half century mark.

Fifteen years ago I was asked to play on a softball team with a lot of guys who where considerably younger than me. At the time I was in my early 30s and most of these guys were in their early 20s. As most people know, the age gap in those years is a little different than the same age gap when you’re in your 40s or 50s. Most 20 somethings haven’t had much in terms of life experience, so they tend to live in a fantasy world where reality hasn’t clicked in yet.

When I was asked to play I gladly accepted. I worked with a few of the guys and the rest of the team was made up of their friends. I’ve always been able to fit in quickly with the people on all of the teams I’ve played with over the years and this team was no different. When I took the field with these guys I had a pretty good feeling we were going to be in for a long season and boy oh boy was I right. Actually it wasn’t a long season……………….it was a long decade. We got lucky and won a game here or there because the opposing team would have to play a game with eight guys, but it was rare. Over the last few years we finally started flirting with winning records.

From those first days there have been a lot of people who have come and gone, but the core group of guys still play today. The very first year I met Marc Wilson. He was a young kid who was full of life. He wasn’t a freakishly athletic specimen, but looking at him from a distance I figured he would probably be one of the guys on the team who could hit for power and drive in runs. After a few games I realized I was wrong. From my observations it appeared that he hadn’t grown into his body yet. Although he had a long way to go before becoming a good softball player he had something that very few people have and it was evident in the first game I played with him. I’ll never forget when he hit a ball down the right field line and headed toward second base with all the speed he could muster up. About halfway there everyone on the field knew he wasn’t going to make it, but he didn’t break stride and launched into a headfirst slide. Dust flew all over and Marc skidded to a stop. I couldn’t help but laugh when it was clearly evident that he hadn’t planned the slide too well. The shortstop stepped off the base and walked a few steps forward to tag Marc on the head. He never made it to the base. I still laugh about it today, especially when I see how far Marc came from that day.

Marc was always a stubborn guy when it game to softball. He would listen to advice, but almost always persisted on doing it HIS way. Kevin would lecture him about where to throw the ball and thankfully that finally stuck in his head the last few years. If a ball was hit to him he was mentally aware of the game around him. In prior years he was always unsure, but he allowed himself to learn from Kevin and listen to him.

When Marc started playing softball he always wanted to be a power hitter. He could never understand how a guy as small as me could repeatedly hit the ball over the fence. He always thought that since he was bigger than me he should be able to hit the ball farther than me. I had to explain to him that the size of a person doesn’t have much to do with how far he can it the ball. My bat speed and transfer of weight contributed to my power.

Eventually Marc found his place and realized his potential. I’ve never played with a right-handed batter who could place the ball so well on the right field line, especially when we needed a big hit. If the game was on the line he was always one of the guys who I wanted at the plate. He became a master at finding a hole between the fielders and did it consistently. Over time he realized he could also hit the ball on the line to left field. Whenever he game up the other teams would always yell, “Good hitter! Can hit it anyplace, but watch right field.” When you get a reputation in softball and all the teams know you it means you’re a good player.

Whenever I listened to the other teams chattering I always thought back to that slide into second base and couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Marc, the guy who was lost in his own body, became the guy who other teams feared and sought after. Along the way he found his place on the field. One year he tried pitching and became one of the most sought after pitchers throughout many different leagues and on tournament teams. If he was a major league pitcher you could say he was a nibbler. He would get two strikes on a batter and start throwing moon balls in hopes of landing one on the plate. He almost always got at least one strikeout per game and that’s good pitching in unlimited arc softball. He was proud of that, too, as he should have been.

About ten years after meeting Marc I got the feeling that in some ways he hadn’t really found himself among people other than his immediate friends. Since he was a good player and an even better guy I asked him to play on one of my teams. I knew these guys would welcome him onto the team as part of the family. As anyone would be, Marc was nervous the first time he played with us, but the nervousness didn’t last long. He went 4-4 that night and pitched a near perfect half a game (since he split time with our normal pitcher) and his contributions were the main reason for our victory.

As one week led into the next Marc became part of the family and one of the top players on the team. He lit it up with his timely hitting and shut down the other team with his half-time pitching role. My friends (who were now his friends) thanked me every day for getting him on the team. In the previous 10 years I hadn’t seen Marc experience anything like it. He went to the bar with us and hung out after the games. We ended up winning the league that year with only two losses. Although we got eliminated in the playoffs the rest of the year was an eye-opening experience for everyone.

Marc played one more year with that team before the league rules changed and you could only play on two teams. Since he had been on the other teams longer he chose to play with them. I was on one of those teams, so I understood what he had to do. I also knew by watching him where his heart was really at. Although he didn’t play on our team he continued to show up for our games and give us support. He remained really close to everyone on the team and came to the bar a few times even though he no longer played with us. After all………….he had become part of the family and our family has strong roots. He was one of us and he knew it. I knew it made him feel good.  When he showed up at the bar he always asked where the team picture was from the year we won the championship. He knew he was in it and he wanted to be in the photo hanging on the wall that said “League Champions” on it. To this day I’m to sure if that photo ever got hung up, but I’ll never forget how important that was to him. It was important to us, too, because without him I’m sure we wouldn’t have won the league.

When I was coming home from Colorado last week I was in an out of sleep in the backseat. About 24 hours into the trip I got the news. I sat in silence and glanced out the window as we drove by Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis. I couldn’t process the news I had just heard. “Marc Wilson died.” How was that possible? Marc was only 35 years old and I played softball with him the night before I left for vacation. I talked to  him at my desk before I left about the games to be played when I returned. He told me how he was going to fix a hitch in his swing. He always tried to get better and I knew he meant what he said.

When I got home I still couldn’t believe the news and then when I got to the softball field on Thursday I expected him to be there even though I had said my goodbyes the day before at the funeral home. He was too good of a guy to go this soon and it hit me pretty hard. I went to the wake early so I could be by myself and deal with it on my own terms. I never expected to say goodbye to a guy 10 years younger than me who I played ball with two to three nights a week over the last 15 years. As one of my friends told me the other day, “God always picks the best flowers first.”

For the people who didn’t know Marc they missed out on a genuine and caring person. Since I wasn’t in Marc’s inner circle I’m not sure how he acted around his closest friends, but I do know that I’ve never been around a more respectful guy. He let his actions speak for his character. In all the years I played ball with him I never once heard him criticize anyone or say anything negative about the game, opponents or an umpire. I made an abundance of errors behind him over the years and he never once rolled his eyes at me or said anything about it. He was the best teammate a player could ask for. If someone made an error he thought it was his job to pick the person up. Although everyone wants to do this very few people are actually capable of getting it done, but he was one of the few.

Marc was a guy of few words around me, but his quick witted humor could make anyone laugh. Marc had a way of quietly spitting out a one-liner in a way that you couldn’t help but smile when you heard it. He was a guy who could make anyone smile without putting any effort into it. Marc was a guy who worked very hard to better himself in whatever he was doing. I saw it in softball because that’s where we shared the most time together. He would go to the batting cage to perfect his stroke. Some days he would go there before the game and then perfectly place the ball onto an empty green spot in the outfield. It was a pleasure to watch. Many days Marc’s work schedule wasn’t too accommodating for softball, so he would take his lunch break to play and then return to work. He went out of his way to make sure he gave everything he had in everything he did. He gave 100% in every at bat and with every pitch he ever threw. I respect him for that because so few people give 100% in anything, let alone a recreational softball league. Marc was a gamer in life.

Marc was never satisfied either. He always tried to get better and studied the game to do the right things to improve himself. One of the things that made me laugh is when people would misspell his name and spell it with a “K”. He would make sure he informed them they messed it up and politely ask them to get it right next time. I enjoyed that because one of my biggest pet peeves is when people spell my last time with an “e”. It was probably just another way that we quietly connected.

I’m glad I got to know Marc, especially after the first season of softball. I feel lucky to have watched him grow up on the softball field as well as in life. I remember asking him a few times in the parking lot where his car was and he told me he was having work done on it and he was driving his mom’s car. I appreciated things like that. He told me on a few occasions how thankful he was that his mom let him use her car. You can learn a lot about a guy by the way he speaks of his mother and that was true with Marc. Marc was a good guy and it showed in many different ways. I’ll miss him on the softball field, but I will also miss the days when he wandered up to my desk in the middle of the afternoon just to talk about this and that. As he found his place on our team a few years back, I hope he finds his place in the new world he is in now. He deserves to be surrounded by great souls just like his own. Rest in peace Marc. We’ll all miss you.

 

 

April 14, 2014

Accepting Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:26 pm

It seems like summer dropped from the sky the last two days without allowing spring to gently slide into place. It appears it won’t last long as a small dose of winter has been forecasted for the next two days. That’s the beauty of living in a place where you’re able to experience the four seasons. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine how many people in the world never experience the seasonal changes we encounter every year.  I listen to many people bitch and moan about the weather and I must admit, even I do it on occasion.

In the grand scheme of life I thoroughly enjoy everything each season brings with it. Now that spring has arrived I’ll enjoy the unpredictability of the day to day temperatures and weather. One day it could be 80 degrees and the next day might be in the high 20s. Spring reminds me a lot of the things we encounter on our journey through life. Our lives could be cruising along on a freeway without a care in the world. Our car windows are down and it seems like we have the pedal on the floor as we put miles and miles behind us.

Suddenly a deer can dash across the road in front of us and everything in our life can be shattered. If we collide with the deer we might end up in the ICU unit in the hospital. We might wreck our car. We might crash into another car and hurt someone else or we might even drift into the sky in search of a new nesting ground. No matter what happens it’s painfully obvious that there are no guarantees in life. Life has no favorites and father time is undefeated.

When I was a child I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was five years old, but I remember very clearly what the doctor said to me at the time. He told if I stayed away from smoking and drinking it would increase my odds of living longer than expected. In the early 70s there wasn’t much known about diabetes. Heck, they hadn’t even developed blood glucose monitors at the time, so it was virtually impossible to see any patterns. I did my four urine tests a day, but urine could sit in the bladder for hours on end and present false readings. The readings might show negative for any glucose in the urine and that was because four hours earlier there was none present. When I was given my set of directions with all the do this and don’t do that items highlighted I made special note of it.

That is the reason why I get so frustrated with some people when they will not change for the betterment of their own health. We only get one life and it is up to us to increase our odds by listening to what the professionals tell us. Last winter when my dad had a heart attack I knew it would be a life-changing experience for him. I know it scared the heck out of him as it did all of us family members. We listened to the doctors when they told us he would have to make a lot of changes and we were ready to help him.

For the first few months everything went well. He stayed away from the stuff on the menu that he wasn’t supposed to indulge in and I felt good about it because I know there are many things I would like to experience, but have always avoided for the benefit of my health. Lately I’d like to pull my hair out when I sit back and watch him from a distance. How can you tell someone you care so much about to stop doing what they’re doing? He passed his stress test in flying colors so he thinks he’s all okay. I just can’t imagine being that ignorant to the real problem, the problem that can’t be seen or felt from the outside until it’s too late. It was minutes from being too late last time, yet that seems to be long forgotten. It’s not forgotten in my mind. I live it every day and the lack of concern and disregard for following a more strict diet that avoids foods that are not good for people who have had heart attacks is alarming. How can someone so smart be so ignorant to the fact that he was given a second chance?

I’m sure this happens to people all over the world, but for me I just wish my own blood could see the things I compromised while growing up and even into today to ensure I could live the longest life possible. I know old habits break hard, but they never break at all if you don’t give them an honest effort. Food tastes good. I get that, but continuing to fill your body with the things that led to first episode isn’t good.

I also know that one person can never help another person unless the other person wants the help. I’ll sit back and keep doing what I do while cruising down this highway. You never know when a deer will bolt out in front of you and at that point I guess it doesn’t matter what precautions you have taken along the way. As hard as it is to watch I believe I have to sit back and let the events unfold in front of me because whether I like it or not I’m pretty sure none of us have a lot of control over how it all ends because our path has been predetermined.

I’ve rambled a little bit tonight. This didn’t go in the direction I had intended. That’s the beauty of writing. Once you start writing you never know where you’re going until you dot the last sentence with a period.

April 8, 2014

Following My Feet

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:34 pm

I slept in on Saturday morning. I didn’t have enough energy to roll out of bed at the crack of dawn. It seems as if the energy has been drained out of me over the last few weeks.  Earlier in the week I had committed to attending an archery tournament to benefit the Hunt of  Lifetime Organization, so I planned on getting a little extra rest before heading to Plattsburgh in the afternoon.

The ride through the Adirondack Mountains was phenomenal. It’s the time of year when you can see large blocks of ice falling from cliffs as the sun warms them enough to set them free before they crash to the ground. It’s a phenomenon that has a different meaning for each and every person that is able to witness it. It reminds me of life.  No matter where we go or how high we climb we must always return to a base. The base may be our home if we have been on the road for a while or it could even be a trailhead if we have gone for a hike. No matter what or where the base might be it gives us a sense of security and with security comes warmth, not necessarily happiness.

Actually security too often feeds upon happiness and without stepping outside of ourselves we sometimes never have the ability to see the full effect that security has on us. We might find security with our jobs, hobbies, or partners. No matter where we find it we learn to accept things because we’re afraid to welcome change into our lives. Without knowing it we become stagnant and let life dictate to us what we will become and where we will go. If we have outside activities to draw us away from the security of everyday life it usually brings a lot of happiness to our lives, but if we don’t we can be doomed without any possibility of escaping from it.

While I have been a victim of security over the years I’ve also made sure to find things away from my security blanket to help me grow and become the person I want to become. I’ve set goals and made a plan to achieve them. In doing so I ventured into unknown areas and welcomed the obstacles I encountered along the way. When I stumbled upon blocked roads I simply put the blinker on and took a detour. Although there was no mapped out route I did my best to find a way through the places I had never seen.

When I returned to familiar roads I was secure once again. Security in a few areas of my life have been challenged recently and I find myself scrambling for other options. Scrambling can cause chaos and chaos can lead to panic. I’m thankful for being a laid back person. I tend to sit back and tackle things when I’m confronted with them rather than worry about things that haven’t happened yet.

Since security seems to be slowly disappearing in one area of my life I’m going to have to run my hands along the forest floor and grab a handful of leaves. I’ll toss a few into the wind and watch them disappear into thin air as the air currents carry them off the mountain. Just as a leaf doesn’t have the ability to predict its travel route neither do I, but I do have ideas and dreams to chase. Although my feet are gently carrying me across the dirt I’m sure they’ll lead me to the place I belong as long as I start walking in the right direction and don’t turn around until I arrive.

April 3, 2014

Spring: Chasing New Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:48 pm

It appears that Spring has finally sprung. I’m sure we’ll still get some chilly weather, but I’m pretty sure the brutal cold has passed. In the last few days the snow has begun to melt at a rapid pace and I couldn’t be happier about it. With everything we do there always comes a point where we need a change of pace. It might be from a job, a hobby, or even a routine. Too much of the same thing can become stale and focus is lost.

That is the reason why competitors need to take a break from competing whether it’s in individual or team sports. Too much of the same thing leads to mental exhaustion. Once the mental fatigue sets in the desire to compete can quickly be lost. Every year when I used to compete in archery I was always happy to see September. I knew I had a solid three months of limited shooting. I could unwind at that time and approach it with a new and fresh outlook in January.

It has taken me all winter to find my shot in archery. I think I’ve finally found it now that the indoor shooting is coming to an end. Although I would have liked it to happen sooner I can’t complain because some people never truly find their shot just as many people never find their true purpose in life. For the vast majority of people their purpose escapes them. There have been times when I’ve looked in the mirror and thought I had it all figured out. I’ve never really felt lost on my journey with the exception of the agony I experienced during a painful divorce. Looking back at it I can easily say that the divorce led me to things I never thought much about other than in passing. When I sunk to the bottom of the barrel I dug and clawed my way out of the darkness to find a new light. The new light was lit when I began writing my first book and the candle burnt brightly for the next few years as I knocked that one off and wrote another one.

Now that I have two books behind me I seem to have fallen into another dark and gloomy barrel. I’m stuck in the monotony of a daily grind where I encounter the same thing over and over. My mind has raced from one thought to the next, but it always brings me back to archery and writing. It doesn’t take much common sense to figure out that I’m passionate about these things. I’ve been trying to see a future in them, but the road is not clear quite yet. I’ve had a number of brilliant ideas pop into my melon, but I always find myself questioning if these wonderful ideas can get me to the end of the rainbow.

That’s a question that nobody can answer. It’s a question that many people have faced while pursuing their own goals in life. It’s the reason why risk takers have no fear. They go all in with hopes of making it big. I’m sure failure crosses their mind, but it doesn’t stay there and prod them. Thoughts of success must outweigh the thoughts about failure. If I look at the target and fear missing I’m programming my mind to miss and the misses will come more readily than if I look at the target and expect to shoot the center out of it.

I’m at the point where the daily routine needs to be changed. One of my readers recently sent me a note saying he had reached this point, too, so he quit his job. I applaud him for doing something he believes will bring him a quieter mind and more internal peace. We all need to remember that although money makes things easier for most of us, it doesn’t bring us genuine happiness. We have to pursue the things we are passionate about and give it everything we have to ensure we can stay on that path…………………….spring is here and it’s time to experience new life.

March 10, 2014

Follow Your Passion

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:22 pm

How do people find success? Is it something we find or is it something that comes to us after a lot of hard work? I guess the answers to these questions all depend on the situation. I’ve seen a few people attain levels of success by simply being in the right place at the right time and knowing someone who put them in a position of significance. This type of thing can test the nerves of even the strongest person. When a person puts everything they have into a job or a project and the person next to them is rewarded for a lesser job just because he’s in the clique there is something wrong with the system. I’m sure anyone reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not always about how much you know or how much you put into it. More times than not success in the workplace is directly related to who likes you and who does not. If you challenge authority you are looked at as a problem. People take advice personally and decide something has to be done to punish the employee who has spoken up or given insight into problems that could be avoided or corrected. I’ve never figured that out, but it’s an everyday part of corporate America.

That’s why I find so much enjoyment in most of my hobbies. When I’m doing an assignment for my editors I always listen to what they want and I try my best to give them the best article I can write. Once the assignment is given everything else is up to me. My success is directly related to how I approach the topic. If I think a narrative will strike the tone for the readers that is what I give them. If I believe interviews are necessary to drive home the points I go out of my way to speak to the right people, so I can prove or disprove any theories on a topic that is controversial. In the end it makes it all worth it when my editors send congratulatory notes and thank you notes expressing their gratitude for the pieces that have been submitted. I’ve had this happen over and over again. There’s no better motivation than interaction with a boss who appreciates the work that is being done. I also take constructive criticism well, too. If an editor tells me something needs to be changed I listen closely because I want my article to be a success and I know the editor wants more people to read the pieces in the publication. Constructive criticism is always a win/win if it is presented in the proper way, however, if it isn’t then a lot of animosity can brew and become a hot stew. Many people aren’t capable of listening without instantly reacting. I’ve always tried learning from these individuals, so I know the proper ways to behave and react in any situation I may encounter in my travels and with my work.

I find an unbelievable amount of joy in the success I’ve had in archery and that is because nobody is responsible for it except me. I practiced for hours on end for many years and I was able to achieve a lot of things I never imagined. Although I never got to the top of the mountain I gave it a good run before my shoulders failed me. Now that I’ve had reconstructive shoulder surgery I appreciate the things I did with a bow and arrow even more since I can’t practice hardly at all anymore. I would love to shoot for hours on end again, but it simply isn’t possible.

I’ve been helping people shoot for the last month or two and it feels good. Their success is also my success. I want them to succeed and learn as much as they can as they improve. Yesterday I helped a small child. This kid loves shooting a bow. Just by looking at him I can tell that he is something special. He definitely has the ability to be a great shooter because he’s so passionate about it at such a young age.  I would love to show him the way.

Never forget that success comes in many different forms. If you haven’t succeeded in one thing it certainly doesn’t mean that you haven’t succeeded in others. I can look at the path of my life and very easily see why I’ve found success in different arenas. It all follows a very common theme……………………..My success comes from my passion. Anything I’ve succeeded at, especially at high levels, I’ve been very passionate about. My advice to everyone out there is to follow your passion. It will bring you happiness and a greater sense of yourself and who you are.

February 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:49 pm

This winter just doesn’t want to let go. I’m not sure, but I may have written the same thing last time I visited my blog. If I did I won’t apologize because it’s true. The cold began in late November and has continued right through today. The weekend gave me a glimpse of spring, but it was fleeting. The birds sang loudly in the morning and the sun warmed the air enough to start melting a lot of the snow. As I inhaled I could smell it even though it seems so far away right now.

As I said last time………..spring brings new growth. That means it’s time to leave behind the cold and misery of winter. It’s easy to understand how depression can settle into the depths of even the strongest souls that wander through the north country. When the daylight hours begin to extend into the evening hours a new hope comes with it. Many people find happiness with more daylight.

I’ve always been fortunate enough to have a few winter hobbies that consume a lot of my time and energy. Sometimes I’d like the winter to last a little longer so I have more time to perfect my crafts. This winter I’m not sure what I need. I’m searching for some ambition, which I seem to have lost over the last few months. I’m still torn about my next project. Should I start the novel or should I stick to the narrative style books I’ve already written and do another one, which wouldn’t take too terribly long?

After talking to my good friend and fellow author Bob Elinskas a few weeks ago he gave me an idea I should probably consider. He thought it would be good if I could use some more of my own experiences and incorporate them into stories about others who hunt in the Eastern Adirondacks. It actually hit the spot when he spoke about it. There are a lot of people who I’m sure would be more than happy to tell their stories.

The next few weeks should give me time to sit back and analyze all of the possibilities. After that process is over I’ll have to decide what path to follow. Since we all choose our own paths I’m sure my feet will direct me down the one that is best for me in my current situation. Only time will tell where my feet will lead me……………………..follow me and you’ll get there shortly after I arrive.

February 19, 2014

From the Classroom to the Workplace

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:25 pm

It’s amazing how many people are affected by bullying. Bullies come in different forms, but they all share similar characteristics. In one of my recent visits to a primary school I was amazed when I stood in front of 150 students and asked for a show in hands from all the kids who get bullied. More hands than I would have liked were raised.  When I asked how many kids bullied other kids I was amazed to see some students actually raise their hands.

As I started speaking to the crowd I knew I had their interest. I shared a few stories to ensure them that everyone, no matter who they might be, has been affected by bullying. It happens in school, in athletics, in the neighborhood, and even at the workplace.

Bullying in the workplace can create an unbelievable amount of morale problems. If it isn’t properly addressed it can gain speed and create a disaster. I’ve seen it first hand. When the bullying begins most people will complain, but nothing will be done because of fear. The fear of the bully or what might happen if a complaint is filed becomes the primary concern of the person affected. Eventually the person loses hope, gives in, and takes on the same qualities as the bully so he or she will become accepted. At that point the acceptance leads to more power for the bully. Once the above scenario takes place it splits the employees down the middle because sides are set and the line in the sand turns into a cavern.

Trust is lost and respect goes with it. As the bully gains more control he or she will continue intimidating others in order to achieve more power. If enough employees recognize the problem they will begin falling like flies. The people who leave are the ones who decide it isn’t worth the fight to expose the issue. The people who challenge the intimidator become a target because the bully cannot mentally handle if someone doesn’t buckle under their pressure.

I’ve witnessed this many times, but never more than the last few years. It’s a shame to watch such good people cave in because they lose all hope. It’s even more of a shame to see people leave their jobs because they can’t handle the unprofessionalism of others.

If you encounter this type of thing in life make sure to stand up for yourself and remain confident. Confidence will carry you through many things including petty stuff like this that sometimes demolishes even the best of people.

Although the weather has been horrible this week the longer hours of daylight are a sure sign that spring is on the way. With spring comes new growth. I’m ready to grow and sprout new leaves.

February 17, 2014

A Look Back in Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:15 pm

I got out of bed around 6:30 on Sunday morning. It has been a long time since I got up early to head to an indoor target archery tournament. I was on the road by 7 o’clock.

After setting my cruise control at 73mph I let the tension out of my body and enjoyed the ride. The fresh snow was still relatively white, which was somewhat surprising since it had been on the ground for almost two days. There’s nothing better than fresh snow before it gets tainted with debris.

As I continued driving a lot of thoughts from past years moved in and out of my head. Since I was headed to the annual Guan Ho Ha Vegas Tournament I remembered the very first time I ever attended it, which was almost 20 years ago. I had never shot in an indoor tournament and didn’t know what to expect.

When shooters were called to the line for the first scoring end I can recall my heart rate accelerating. My breathing was shallow and rapid. I was in a place I’d never been. Instead of letting the emotions overwhelm me I decided to embrace the nervousness and just do what I always did………………shoot my bow to the best of my ability. If I did well I would be happy and if I didn’t I would do everything I could to improve the next time around.  Before I knew it we were adding scores. I couldn’t believe how quickly it was over.

I never got ahead of myself and I shot one arrow at a time without thinking too far into the future. I walked away that day with a first place finish and an award for the highest score of the tournament. To the day it’s still one of my best moments in competitive archery. It gave me something I would need to succeed when I started shooting in national events. In the years to come I would win that tournament a handful of times.

Eventually I ran into problems with nervousness. Although I could still shoot very well I had a hard time reaching my peak performance in competition. It hindered my ability to shoot consistent scores and ultimately led to my loss in interest of the sport.

Now, with a second chance after surgery I’m ready to address the problem and set a goal to fix it. I will get back to the level I used to be at and I will use the nervousness to my advantage. I will harness it and shoot my practice scores in tournaments again. Although I can’t practice as much due to the surgically repaired shoulder I can still visualize and rehearse mentally. I look forward to the challenge. Now that I have set goals I’ll map out a plan to achieve them. A person without a goal just has hope. A person with a goal has something to look forward to. I will no longer hope I do well. I know I will do well again.

………………after a look back in time a new journey has begun. Set your own goals and begin your journey. Good luck.

February 12, 2014

Archery: In search of a quiet mind again

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:02 pm

This is the first winter I can remember since I was quite young where it hasn’t given us any relief since late November. In the last few months we’ve only had a few days where the temperature has stayed above 25 degrees for a full day. I’m worn out both physically and mentally. I can’t get enough rest lately no matter what time I retire to bed. Today I came home from work, ate dinner, and passed out in the recliner for three hours. Now, as I write this, it’s 8:30 and I’m ready for bed. I’m hoping this brutal cold begins to let up in the next couple of weeks. I’ve had enough.

In early January I decided to attempt shooting in an indoor archery league for the first time in three years. I couldn’t shoot the year before surgery, the year of surgery or the year after surgery. Although I felt good enough to give it a try this year I’m not sure if it’s one of the better decisions I’ve made. I’ve had a lot of tenderness in the neck and shoulder area, but I believe it’s related to the muscles not being in shape for the required repetition of the shooting process.

It has become evident that my mind is no longer quiet when I’m at full draw. I used to hear very little monkey chatter as I drew, aimed, and released. This year I’ve heard nothing except monkey chatter. My inner voice talks to me non-stop, which has hindered me from achieving the scores I used to shoot on a regular basis. While I’ve had two above average rounds neither one of them is close to my best. There are days when I feel very close to regaining my old form, but the voice of negativity seems to creep in at inopportune moments.  I’ll continue fighting the fight and see where I end up by the end of the 10 week league. I have a feeling I’m going to come out on top in late March. I feel very close. It’s like being in the woods and feeling like I’m very close to seeing a deer. Very rarely am I wrong. It’s an inner sense that is unexplainable to most people. The power of positive thought almost always wins out over all the background noise. If I continue pushing forward on the march toward achieving my goals I will surely make progress.

Archery has brought a lot to my life. I’ve tried to give back as often as possible. Sometimes it’s something as simple as giving someone a nock if they break one during a round. Other times I might offer to work on their bow in my press. Since archery has given me so much I feel the obligation to help people. It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve done. There’s nothing like watching someone become extremely accurate with a bow and arrow and achieving results they only dreamed of in the past.

A few years ago at this time I was told I would never shoot a bow again. Although it was quite realistic I never believed it. I figured I could beat the prognosis if I had surgery and gutted my way through the rehabilitation process. At times the rehabilitation seemed like it wasn’t doing a thing. It got so bad that the doctor asked me if I was even going to therapy. My range of motion didn’t improve in six months post-surgery, but I continued on. Many people asked why I bothered, but I knew if I gave up I would never have a chance to improve. Nine months into rehab I started to feel a little better. Now, I can shoot my bow and throw a ball again.

I might try shooting in tournaments this spring and summer if I continue making progress. I need to work on my mental game in order to be successful. I’ve started doing visualisation exercises to help me achieve a few goals I’ve set. I can’t wait to track the progress.

February 5, 2014

Shedding Your Skin

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:09 pm

I’d like to say that I haven’t had the time to write, but I’d be lying if I put that out there for others to read. Instead, I simply haven’t made the time to write, so I decided I need to change that. Writing has always freed my mind. When I sit down at the desk and start pounding words out on the keyboard I’m often transplanted into places I didn’t imagine going 10 minutes before I sat down. Sometimes those places are dark and other times they’re bright and sunny. No matter where the road leads I just sit back and enjoy the journey. In the process I hope that I gain something from the time as well as anyone who chooses to read what I write.

Lately I’ve spent some time trying to get organized. I’ve set a few goals and it’s time to start outlining plans to achieve them. In the process of cleaning I’ve found a few things that surprised me, some that saddened me, and others that brought a smile to my face. All of these things were items from the last seven years. I knew it was time to throw some junk in the trash. As I gathered old papers between my hands I happened to read a quote I had written on one of them. Amazingly, the quote fit perfectly for where my mind has been over the last month.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.”

Many people get caught in a routine. As time passes the routine becomes cemented into their way of life. We become accustomed to what we do and begin to plan our lives around our daily schedules. Life can become monotonous in many ways even if you’re still doing the things you like. Although you follow the routine you always have some wild and crazy thoughts of what you might do if things were different. I’m guilty of this and I’m sure some of you are as well. When these ideas pop into our brain it might be time to take a step back and examine them. At first something might seem like a crazy idea, but with more thought and research it might just be something that gives you freedom. A snake can’t continue growing unless it sheds its skin and we are very much the same. In order to improve our condition we must shed our old skin. That’s where the saying “there’s no reward without risk” comes from. The people who have the ability to take chances are usually the ones who end up  on top. The people who aren’t afraid to fail are usually the most successful ones because they’ll keep trying until they succeed.

I’ve found a few other quotes during my cleaning and I try to address a different one every day. I like the stimulation my mind gets when I read quotes and analyze them. I can tell I haven’t written in a long time. My writing is choppy and needs a lot of work. Writing is like any craft in the fact that you have to practice a lot in order to be at the top of your game. Hopefully I can make the time to start practicing again, especially if I plan on reaching my goals.

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