Tag Archives: Health

Just Get Started

Yesterday I read a tweet by someone that said he would gladly pay someone to write the beginning and ending lines of whatever project he was working on. I responded that I find the opening line of anything I write to be painful to get out. Just like this post. I could overthink and be paralyzed thinking of the best way to open the post. But instead I decided to just start writing and let it go from there. And now I am off and going and hopefully you will keep reading despite a less than perfect beginning.

In life though I think that is the most important thing. Don’t over analyze. Don’t get paralyzed by the anxiety of just getting started. That is something that has haunted me my entire life, always the fear of the unknown instead of the excitement of starting something new. But I am working to change that.

I just started reading the book Quiet. It’s been sitting on my virtual bookshelf on my Kindle for a long time now. Every time I need to begin a new book I agonize over what to start and never choose this title because I feel like it may be revealing for me. But now I am reading it and it is good. Just get started. Once you get started then you can enjoy the process.

I’ve always struggled making friends. Always afraid to put myself out there. A couple years ago I made it my new years resolution to join a running club. I put myself out there. I didn’t really talk to anyone the first couple of runs I went on but now all my running friends are probably thinking, “We can’t get this guy to shut up.” So just take the leap and put yourself out there. You don’t have to walk the tight rope without a net, but put yourself in the situation where things can happen for you.

This applies to running and getting in shape itself. I had always been the kind of person that thought if I wanted to get into better shape I could whenever I wanted. But that is just an excuse to never start. Once you decide to start you will find how much you really can do, but you have to start first.

I even feel this fear and hesitation in things I have loved to do for a long time. Photography is something I have loved to do for a long time, but starting a new project or even just getting out the door to take some photos gives me pause. But, once I get out there and start clicking the shutter that all dissipates. The joy and passion flows and I am off and running, often shooting hundreds to thousands of photos. I love doing it but it takes a renewed commitment to starting each time to get me going in the right direction instead of procrastinating.

Life is hard. There is no easy way. There is no perfect beginning or time to start. The time to start is now. If you want to do something do it. Start now. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do not let the paralysis by analysis set in. Get going. Do that thing that you have always wanted to do. Once you get going to momentum will build on itself and you will get where you are going. But you cannot get there if you never start.

Stop planning to start and waiting for the right time and just start. Life long dreams and goals don’t come easy. It may seem like there is not enough time to make significant progress on a goal right now and that may be true. You won’t accomplish it right now in the moment, but you can get started. Get started making progress toward a goal. A goal is rarely something that you can just go out and do right now and attain it. It is something that requires steady progress toward the end result. You will never get there if you don’t get going.

Join me in this experiment that we call life and get out there and start that thing you have always wanted to do today. Let m know in the comments what you are starting.

Kira The Gentle

Kira came to be part of our family in a funny way. I had been volunteering my time at the Chemung County SPCA to photograph the dogs and cats there that are available for adoption. I love just about all the dogs that I have worked with there. But when I photographed Kira there was just a connection. I went home and posted her photos online and I half-jokingly commented with the photos that someone better go adopt her before I do. We were not looking for a dog at the time and despite the connection I felt with her I was not seriously thinking about adopting her. At this time my wife, Debby, was working at the Chemung County SPCA and shortly after I photographed Kira she said she thought she really liked Kira and maybe we should adopt her. And that was all it took. I was fully on board and Kira went home with us.

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Kira at the Chemung County SPCA

Kira might have been the perfect adoption for our family. She was just the right dog for us. We have always had multiple dogs in our home and adding another dog to the mix can be complicated. Kira was the perfect fit. She got along fine with all our other dogs. She didn’t need to be crated. She didn’t cause any problems when left alone in the house. She might have even been too well behaved for us. We love to sit with our dogs all snuggled up on the couch and we had to teach Kira that it was OK to get on the furniture at our house. One thing I did learn quickly is that Kira was not a dog to let off leash. One day shortly after she came home I unhooked her from her leash thinking we’d just walk the few steps to the door and into the house. Wrong. She bolted across the yard and down the road. Luckily she was a big dog and I caught her pretty quickly. And that is how our lives together began.

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It’s really tough when you adopt an older dog. There is this ever present feeling of uncertainty. You never know what to expect. While nothing in life is certain, when you commit to an older dog you know that there is a god chance that their best days may be behind them and the life you experience with them might be short and limited. It is something that you try not to focus on but it is a consideration. We tried to make the best of things with Kira and for the most part she was healthy and loved to do all the things that any other dog would love to do and we tried to get her out there doing as much as possible.

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She enjoyed walks, and hikes, and going to events with us. She loved us and loved being with us. We tried to give her the best life we could and she ave us everything she had until her last day. It’s hard not to feel like it was unfair that we had such a short time to spend with her. She was such a loving and comforting dog. She didn’t want to do anything but sit with you. The only thing on Kira’s agenda was sit with my humans. Be with my humans.

Kira at Seneca Lake
Kira at Seneca Lake

It’s funny now thinking back on our time with her, that there aren’t many crazy stories to tell about her because she was just that kind of dog that didn’t require much. She didn’t do crazy things. She was just mellow and melted into the background of the home. She was the calm one. The one that waited her turn and when all the other dogs were done she would approach to get her turn with you and be petted and loved on. When you lose a dog like that you have lost something special. A dog that didn’t require any extra work. A dog that was just there for you and accepted whatever you had to give. I think that my favorite memory of her is after finishing my first half marathon Debby and Kira were waiting for me at the finish line. She was there to cheer me on and support me just like family does.

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It’s odd how much an impact it is or a void that can be left by the quiet and calm presence of one dog when they are no longer there. There isn’t this huge dog who quietly saunters down the all to my office and nudges my hand while I work so I will pet her and then lies down quietly on the floor while I work. I won’t have that warm heart just a few feet away as I type or edit photos anymore. There is more room in my office now, but I would give anything to be crowded again and have to type one handed.

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I spent the last week we had with Kira wanting to get some photographs of her. But as a photographer I have this need for the photos to be perfect. Even if they are just personal photos that I might be the only person to see them. I still want them to be nice. I want the photos to be as good as they can be and I want my dogs to look good in the photos. So I kept putting off taking photos until I had time to get out my cameras and lashes and take some nice indoor portraits of Kira so that I would have really nice photos to remember her by. Then one night I decided to lie on the floor with her and just snuggle her. It was then I decided I needed to just take photos now and capture the moments as they were. The real moments that we had together. Because we never knew how much more we would have. I am so glad I made that decision. I took photos of her with my cell phone two nights in a row and then she was gone. If I hadn’t taken those photos I would not had any images to remember her in her last days by. So don’t wait for it to be perfect. Don’t wait for the best possible circumstances. If you have an opportunity to create memories do it now while you have the chance. You never know if you will have the opportunity again.

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Coming home from work to find that Kira had passed was not how we wanted it to go and it might have been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced. But, Thankfully we have amazing family and friends that when we shared the news of Kira’s passing were so supportive and loving. There really are no words to express how grateful I am to have all these people in my life. I don’t know how we would get through the times like this without them. So many people shared words of compassion with us and told us exactly the right things that any dog lover needs to hear in these tough times. We also have the most amazing vet who took the time to talk to us and share her thoughts and kind words with us. Knowing that she didn’t believe that Kira suffered meant so much to us.

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In the end Kira died at home the way she lived. Without fanfare and without drawing attention to herself. She died peacefully and in a way that we didn’t have to make that most terrible decision that any dog owner has to make. In hindsight I believe Kira was hanging on those last few days for us. She still got up and followed me to my office even though it was obvious she was laboring. And that was when we knew it was time. But she had other plans. For the last few nights once we knew the time was close, before I went to bed I got down on the floor with her and whispered in her ear. I told her I loved her and if it was time for her to go tonight that it was OK and that she didn’t have to hang on for us. And that is what she did. Once we were gone for the day and she didn’t have to be with us anymore she could leave us for the last time. The hardest part is just not being able to be there in the last moments and say goodbye.

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Another Running Goal

As a runner one thing that helps me stay motivated and get the training I need to enjoy the races I want to run is setting goals. The goal could be the race itself that I want to run or it could revolve around some other aspect of running. Goals can be time related, distance related, or taking on another specific challenge.

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After running multiple half marathons in 2016 I found that the half marathon distance is a a distance I like for road races. It is the perfect amount of challenging yet holding the possibility of improvement. I decided both training for the races as well as running them. I decided that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon whenever I saw a race that looked fun. I didn’t want to have to look far off into the future and plan and make sure I had time to train for a half marathon.

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I just want to see a fun event and jump on it and do it. This might sound a little crazy from some perspectives. But it seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I enjoy running half marathons. I want to be able to run any half marathon that sounds fun if I want to run it. I want to be ready for any opportunity that may arise.

So to this end I decided that since I had trained for a half marathon the past two years in a row now as my goal race I wanted to be at the point where I didn’t have to “train” just to be able to run the half marathon. I wanted to be in good enough running shape to be able to run the half marathon distance whenever. I may not be able to run it to the best of my ability but I wanted to be to the point where I could run the distance without suffering at any time.

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I decided I wanted to commit to running a half marathon distance at least once every month for all of 2017. That way My legs would build the muscle memory of that distance. My mind and my body would know how to run that race. I would fully know what to expect from that distance. I figured this would keep me prepared for any half marathon that I should decide I wanted to do. This lead me to mapping out a nearly half marathon distance run that I cold do from my house in a loop fashion that would include over 1,200 feet of elevation gain. I never thought I would be doing anything like that.

The toughest part of this goal came in May. I had been enjoying my normal running routine and went out for a planned 13.1 mile run with a friend and the run just wasn’t going well. I was exhausted and tired and slow. I eventually had to call it quits at 11 miles. It was a huge downer. My friend knew I was bummed about not getting to my goal distance and encouraged my to shake it off. Telling me that we all have bad days. Days when our runs don’t go as we would like, and that is true. But I still felt down about that run. I had this goal and now I wasn’t going to reach it. I never reached my goal of a half marathon distance run for May.

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I could have let that stop me. I could have given up on my goal of running half marathon distance runs and never run another one after that. Or I could have run long runs less frequently, But I didn’t I continued to run half marathon distance runs. I ran with friends or I ran solo, but I ran. I kept reaching for that goal even though technically I still wouldn’t reach it. But I would still get 99.9% of the benefit of trying to attain that goal. There is more to setting a goal than just saying you achieved that specific thing.

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I managed to keep up my motivation through the month of October. Other than the one month I didn’t run a half marathon distance run I did successfully run a half marathon distance every other month. In October I actually ran at least 13.1 miles three times and that included the hardest run I have run to date, a 25k trail run with over 4000 ft of elevation.  So don’t let one minor hiccup in achieving your goals create a real setback in what you are trying to achieve. You can still achieve a great deal without actually meeting the exact definition of what your goal was.

Reaching for your goals helps you feel better. It provides motivation. It provides the fodder that powers us on to bigger and better things. Set goals. Reach for them. Achieve them. And most importantly of all keep striving for them despite setbacks. You will be glad you did.

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Little Kira

Sometimes in life you get some bad news and your are not sure it can get any worse. But then to your dismay it gets even worse. Literally twice as bad as it was before. How do things like this happen?

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Two weeks ago our gentle giant Big Kira was diagnosed with cancer. That hit us like a sucker punch. Totally unexpected. Now we had to take Little Kira to the vet for an ultrasound of her bladder. We had been treating her for what we were hoping was some type of bladder infection for several weeks. However, as the infection persisted despite treatment our vet recommended we take Little Kira to get an ultrasound to see if there was a mass or something else going on with her bladder.

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Little is such a good girl. She was in and out of her ultrasound in no time. Unfortunately, that is where the good news ended. There was definitely a mass in her bladder. It is most likely cancer.

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I called Debby and told her the bad news. She met me in Ithaca and we made a day of it for Little Kira. We had fun exploring Stewart Park. She is such an easy dog that loves everyone. As soon as we arrived at the parka gentleman approached and wanted to say high to Little Kira. She nuzzled him for some head scratches and the kind man remarked about how sweat a dog she was. Little played in the water and saw some new sights.

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After that we headed over to the dog park, which is always an odd experience with her. She is a very good dog but doesn’t care to leave our side much. She doesn’t go play with dogs. She is good with them and says hi in the typical dog way if other dogs approach but she doesn’t seek them out. She will go over to other humans at the dog park to be petted but only if we are near by.

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We sauntered around the park enjoying basically a nice casual off leash walk. Just appreciating the nice day and the time we have with our girl. We just want her to be happy in whatever time she has with us and she is a happy girl. She enjoys life and enjoys being with us.

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After the dog park we went and explored a little more of Alan Treman park along the waterfront. Little whined and signaled it was time to go home. We pilled back into the car and headed for home. In spite of the terrible news we had a good day with our dog and I hope she had a good day with us. I only hope there are not too few of these days left for us.

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Randomly selected photo from Ossian

I’ve been wanting to share more, but I have been so busy trying to get a bunch of different projects done. So, here is one randomly selected photo from the Ossian Mountain Run at Swain Ski Resort. Many more to share in the future.

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Ossian Mountain Run. Swain Ski Resort.

Photographing Mendon Mauler

One of the reasons I love trail running is that it brings me closer to nature. Trail running gives me another reason to get outside and enjoy nature. Even better trail running encourages me to explore areas I might not otherwise visit. Trail running also allows me to cover more ground in a shorter time than I would be able to on a regular hike, so I see more nature on one trip than I would be able to without running.

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As a photographer and a runner my mind is in constant conflict. Run as best you can Vs. Stop and take a photo. I love taking photographs of nature even more than I love running through it. So, I’ve developed a strategy to be able to do both as equally effective as possible. I found the perfect hydration pack that allows me to carry water and fuel as well as my camera and cell phone, the Nathan VaporAir.

You might be thinking how on earth are you fitting a camera in a hydration pack? I am able to do that because I have a Nikon 1 J4 specifically for easy travel. It is about the size of a cell phone but bulkier and fits right in one of the front pouches. So, now on almost every trail run my pack and my camera is along for the ride.

Mendon Mauler was a tough race for me. One of the longest trail races I have run to date. It was also a race that started at 6:30 pm. I don’t usually run in the evening. And the temperature at start time was around 80 degrees. I do not like to run in the heat and usually avoid it at all costs.

The first 4 mile lap felt brutal in the heat. When I got to the end of the first lap I could have decided to stop at 4 miles and boy was that tempting. Being done and getting out of the heat sounded like a very good idea. But I had sign up for the 8 mile run and I was committing to the 8 miles and passed on the opportunity to finish at 4 miles.

Lap 2 felt much better. I was tired and slow but the temperature started to drop as the sun went down. I was actually cold for half of the second 4 mile lap. Then I cam to all the hills and warmed back up. The course was challenging for me. No huge hills but a lot of short steep inclines and declines. They were just burning up my legs.

Near the end of each lap there is a steep incline followed by an even steeper decline covered in slippery rolling rocks that defy description on the decent. It can really only be experienced as you try to maintain your balance on the slippery sliding rocks under your feet.

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I decided that this spot would be the perfect spot to stop and take a break for a minute. Stop. Soak in the nature. Remember why I am out here and remember why I love doing these things that most other people probably think are crazy. I got out my camera and composed a few shots of the incline as a fellow runner ascended. Then a paused again at the top to compos a few shots of the sights from the hi-point before I descended. It was then that I was really happy about my decision to go another 4 miles. Without putting in the extra effort I would not have been able to capture these nice images.

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Then a relatively short time later came the part I was now really looking forward to. The finish line and a chance to rest, re-hydrate, eat food, and reunite with my friends that also ran the race. I was also able to capture some nice photographs of the sun setting on Mendon Ponds Park.

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