Grace in Adventure

British Columbia, Canada

After years in sports, I know that showing up is not enough.  In fact the physical is the easy part, it is the mental, the mental management of the physical that is the key to it all, to performance, endurance and enjoyment.

And I had the pleasure of spending some time adventuring in the Canadian pacific northwest late this spring and was reminded that in back country sports, with a longer outlook, showing up with a combination of strength and grace is key.  I could not gut out these sports with my usual burst of energy, and use recovery days for sore muscles.  Rather on a paddling camp trip, on days after biking and hiking days, I needed to find a place in inner calm and really settle into each stroke, and be in the moment.  My impatience would not serve me. 

Instead it was a lesson in finding beauty in the moment and just being there in each paddle stroke, not considering the next one, or recalling the last.  If I worried or wondered too much, I would frustrate myself and burn energy. 

It was literally spatially constrained meditation, and was it stunning once I found the zen in it.  Soaring pine forested mountains, topped by retreating snows high over salty fjord waters lapped with kitten paw waves whipped up by the sunset breezes. One night we watched the shifting palette of sunset mark time passing and distance gained across the fjord, as we slowly paddled towards the fading light and camp.

And skiing in 75' weather high above the chilly Pacific winding through the waterways between the islands and the Straight of Georgia, well, it was heaven, let's be perfectly clear.  But it also again took a mental calm combined with cardio, to work through the heat and the excitement I felt about all the beauty to pace myself, in terms of energy, enthusiasm, and even hydration.  I couldn't "blow out my hip-flexors" as people tend to do, if I wanted to come back for many runs over many days of earning my turns, skinning laps. 

And in order to bring energy to the downhill I brought joy to the uphill, loving the duality of the work up and then flow down, which only make turns, and beers in between that much cooler and sweeter.  I am hooked on this mode of skiing, meditation muscle and flow!

And in a bigger sense, with my genetic gifted migraines picking up significantly under the load of my mothers illness these last few years, I am intensely reminded of the joy, and blessing, of a healthy able body, the feeling of sweat pouring down my back, my lungs working in concert with my legs, my core and my back straining in balance, as my arms swing in cadence with my feet, and pulling me up a mountain, across a sound, or (god help me) up and down a mountain bike trail. 

These are gifts not to be taken for granted, and the ability to play in the great outdoors is by no means a given.  So even when I get cramps on a run and settle into the fact that the aches and pains are the good kind, the healthy and alive kind, man, do I want to do this kind of fully alive living every day, every hour. 

Our physicality is the ultimate escape, and the great outdoors the best playground we will ever find!  So until next time, body - and by that, I mean tomorrow...

Berlin, a designer's dream city

With my design traveling 710 New Balance red sneakers on and ready to travel we headed out to get coffee in a city proud of it's coffee.  (Sadly getting down to my last pair of these amazing shoes Kai/NB!)

We organized our days around coffee and breakfast, and this turned out to be a brilliant strategy, as hip coffee shop = hip neighborhood.  And after the caffeine kicked in there was time to check out the amazing deep and intense history of Berlin.

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In preparation for his run, Ryan checked out the finish of the Marathon at Brandenburger Tor while some kiddo's warmed up for a short inline skating race.  I had never seen a roller blade marathon, but Saturday there was a full roller blade Marathon before the runners on sunday.  It was pretty cool honestly, and looked slightly more viable to me, though still rough.

 Brunch at Roamers, quite possibly the best in Berlin, a city of brunches!  And the people watching here, like all of Berlin, is awesome and the crowd here in particular could inform NYFW of what is coming next!

Brunch at Roamers, quite possibly the best in Berlin, a city of brunches!  And the people watching here, like all of Berlin, is awesome and the crowd here in particular could inform NYFW of what is coming next!

 Lazy Saturdays done right - the European way, unhurried over a beer and a cigarette in Volkspark Friedrichshain.

Lazy Saturdays done right - the European way, unhurried over a beer and a cigarette in Volkspark Friedrichshain.

After starting our day at Silo Coffee in Friedrichshain we wandered through the park, and I was reminded of yet another reason I love Europe, and miss calling it home.  These people know how to live well.  Whether it was a game of bocce, a picnic overlooking fields and then Fernsehturm (Television tower)  fly fishing lessons in the park or more dogs living the good life, weekends are taken seriously here.  And dogs like well, by the way.  Even at fancier, restaurants like Neni, where tourists make up half the guests, dogs sat politely under the table, and throughout the city well behaved dogs ambled alongside owners off leash.  I am pretty sure my dog Mia is a Berliner at heart.

The restaurant, Neni Berlin, atop of the achingly cool 25 Hour Hotel has a cool Ace Hotel vibe, but with a uniquely German and Berlin aspect.  Be sure to check out the Monkey Bar across the hall after for drinks!

 What remains of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is stunningly beautiful.  Also be sure to go across the street and check out the Bikini Berlin, the other end of the design spectrum, and a must see stop.  Cool pop up shops for local designers, food stands and events abound.

What remains of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is stunningly beautiful.  Also be sure to go across the street and check out the Bikini Berlin, the other end of the design spectrum, and a must see stop.  Cool pop up shops for local designers, food stands and events abound.

 Memorial to the Murdered Jews

Memorial to the Murdered Jews

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews is a deeply moving memorial to walk through the 2,711 tomb like columns which wind slightly and vary in height set in the location of a key Nazi administrative site in the 3 million murders. 
Looking across the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, into Tiergarten, the memorial bleeds out into the city, into daily life, in an uncomfortable way, intentionally reminding us of the ambiguity of difficult subjects like guilt and innocence. The Memorial has been controversial, one reasons being that it is only dedicated to the Jewish dead, and so further memorials have been created in Berlin to the many other groups murdered in this era, including Catholic, Homosexual and Gypsy.

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 As a creative, Scheunenviertel felt like ground zero for contemporary designers, thinkers and urban chic in the way that drew me in and felt like home.

As a creative, Scheunenviertel felt like ground zero for contemporary designers, thinkers and urban chic in the way that drew me in and felt like home.

Here are three boroughs which anyone artistically or architecturally inclined must check out after starting with your day gently with stellar coffee;
Ora in Kreuzberg
Silo Coffee in hip Friedrichshain
the Barn Roastery in Scheunenviertel area of the Mitte

 Ora in Kreuzberg was a must for us, recently created in an old pharmacy in the east, this chic coffee shop is open til 4am, with a simple menu but fabulous old school apothecary decor.

Ora in Kreuzberg was a must for us, recently created in an old pharmacy in the east, this chic coffee shop is open til 4am, with a simple menu but fabulous old school apothecary decor.

While planning the long weekend in Berlin, my father told me that as a young man he got a visa & went through Checkpoint Charlie, when it was the gateway between wildly disparate worlds.  No one knew that he had crossed the Wall, and the East Berlin people he met were desperate and scared, looking to him for money, hope, clothing-anything.  He said it was an extraordinary experience and also deeply unnerving.

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Walking through Berlin this weekend, finding how much I love this vibrant city and the warm people, knowing my father walked in a moment of its painful past, however briefly, really brought home how recent it all is. And how resilient this city is.

 

A Classic Must See TED Talk

I was chatting with someone about body posture today and Amy Cuddy's amazing TED talk came up again, it seems to always come up!  If you have not seen this it is a must, it encapsulates so much that is essential in our time; about TED, about science, research, education and the power of belief in changing and improving yourself, and about the importance of sharing what it is you find with others.