Quote of the day


Joseph Campbell

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Hero's Journey

The Hero's Journey is a term coined by the famous mythologist and philosopher Joseph Campbell. I just watched a film about this called "Finding Joe" and thought it was absolutely fascinating so I wanted to share it with you. I will do my best to explain what it is and how it can be applicable to all of our lives.

The Hero's Journey is a circular algorithm, a metaphor really, for life. I think of it as Joseph Campbell's version of the circle of life.   It's core or center point for rotation is living a life in which we follow our bliss.

In the Hero's Journey there are 3 phases: Separation, Initiation and Return. Because it is a circular algorithm, when you have reached your first return you go back to a point of separation. And the cycle starts again.

In the Separation phase there is a call to adventure. The phone literally rings, we hear it and eventually, if we don't ignore it (and you know when you've ignored this call), we answer it.  Once we are open to the idea of separating (i.e. when we get the courage to answer the phone), we then begin the initiation phase. Essentially we are catapulted into the next version of ourselves.

In the Initiation phase we become part of new adventures in which we face our fears head on; we are tested, moved to a crisis point, struggle with internal conflicts and then, at some point, we come out on the other side. Some equate the Initiation phase to entering a dark forest of our deepest fears.  After facing trials and tribulations, turmoil and strife we, eventually, come out into the light in which we have conquered our fears. This is the point at which we can and will "return".

Somewhere between the initiation and return phases there is a death of part of our old self. We shed our old skin because its no longer of use to us. With our transformation comes a new meaningful life at which point we enter the Return phase where we return to tell our stories to others. We have thus completed the hero's journey.

In order to go through our hero's journey we need to be willing to accept the challenge, endure the pain of discovery and be willing to shed our old skin. Campbell says that when you are willing to delve into this journey, "doors will appear for you where doors will not appear for others". Each of us has a unique adventure to face, a unique fear to conquer so that we can all return to tell our story to others.

Campbell believed that each of us is born with a seed of potential that wants to be actualized.  Unfortunately, we live in a society that puts us under a hypnosis so that we forget that "life is the fruit of (y)our own doing". Instead, we become conditioned to listen to what society tells us we should and shouldn't do. This prevents us from discovering our true selves and, instead, most people end up on the treadmill of life and never get to the point of actualization.

The story of myth allows us to go beyond what we thought was possible; to explore and unearth our potential as it was when we were born, before society covered it with layers of false reality and false expectation. 

What I learned from Joseph Campbell is that the mythical life is part of each one of us. The challenge we face is the unearthing of our potential. We need to transcend most of what society has told us we should and shouldn't do so that we can live our very own Hero's Journey of self discovery and therefore live the life we were intended to live .

We can only be the hero of our own life when we decide to stop being the victim of our own life. So I challenge you, today, to go find YOUR adventure (answer the phone!), face your fears, shed your skin, separate, initiate, come out stronger on the other side and most importantly return, so that you can tell your story. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


This has been a great week for connecting with old and new friends.

Yesterday, in a span of 12 hours, I connected with some of my all time favorite "old" friends.  I spoke to my college bestie, Aniela, received an email from one of my boarding school besties, Kate, and had dinner with one of my current Denver besties, Travis.  During my morning run around Wash Park on a most glorious morning in the mile-high city, I breathed in the fresh air and thought, "sweet air"...then I laughed because I was reminded that this very expression is one my friend Vanessa always said when we were mountain biking out east. Hope you're getting some sweet air today Vanessa!

After my run I had the pleasure of meeting up for coffee with Ellen Hart, a world class athlete (former marathoner...as in Olympic trials marathoner, current top Ironman (Kona) Age Grouper,), a graduate of Harvard University and University of Colorado School of Law, a mother, a wife and an overall woman extraordinaire. Ellen also struggled with bulimia and became an advocate for eating disorder awareness and recovery. Her story prompted the creation of made for TV motion picture called Dying to Be Perfect in 1996.

Ellen is the type of woman who walks into a room and brings with her a rush of energy, good nature and poise. Ellen and I exchanged stories about recovery, training and life. Her recovery from bulimia, like others I know including myself,  came from her willingness to open up and to share her story.    
After meeting with Ellen, I was again reminded how important relationships are in recovery and in life. The former is actually the premise by which MentorCONNECT's founder, Shannon Cutts, created MentorCONNECT: a place where "relationships replace eating disorders".  This is why being a board member and ambassador for MentorCONNECT is so invaluable to me and to the thousands of others who have joined this online community.

In others we find strength...and recovery.


From now until March 2, 2014 MentorCONNECT has joined forces with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Awareness) on a Virtual Walk to raise money, support and awareness for eating disorders. This is "virtual" walk done through social networking and your support is always appreciated. Please click the following link to learn more and donate. Virtual Walk

Monday, February 10, 2014


Remember that movie with Hugh Grant called "About a Boy"? Remember how his life was divided into 30 minute blocks of time just to fill in the gaps? (if you have not seen this movie, please go get it now and watch it- priceless). Lately, it's become more apparent to me that much of my time and energy the past few years has been looking for ways to fill in my small gaps of time. Personally, I'd refer to them as voids. We all have them. Some call it "wander lust" some call it "soul searching". Right now, I call it frustration and exhaustion.

What fills your voids? What makes your life more complete with vs. without these elements?

One paramount part of who I am is my adoration for animals. Have you ever loved some one, some thing, some place, some idea....so much that it hurts? Well, that's how much I care for the well being of animals.

Over the years I have been a part of the passing of a lot of animals, my own included. I still reflect on certain days, certain years, certain moments...and can vividly remember the sobering thought of realizing that they will never return.  There is a big topic in the veterinary field called compassion fatigue ( Compassion Fatigue). The idea is that those who work closely with animals every day can become almost numb to the emotion of it all. This is most commonly seen in the decision to euthanize. I think the idea is valid, but not for me.

The past two weeks have been harder for me than usual. Ah, lets call a spade a spade...the past 4 weeks have been hard for me...and there are a variety of important reasons why this is the case, only one  of which I will delve into tonight.

The past two weeks have come with the passing of two very special animals in my life and others. They were not my own but what they exemplified as loyal creatures and love givers, made me feel like, at any time, any place, any where, any how, they would have embraced me. Given me a lick or a tail wag or a nudge. Just because it was me. Isn't that what true love is?

Last week my good friend Bailey Stevens died at home. Bailey was a handsome yellow lab who was  a trouper through and through. He never missed a beat of a tail wag or a treat and endured many trials and tribulations over his long life. Most recently (last year), I removed his spleen which had a 5 lb. tumor on it. It was on the brink of rupturing when I gently exteriorized it from his abdomen (I'll never forget that).  The tumor was benign (a very rare occurrence for tumors of the spleen) and even though he was 10 yrs. old at the time of surgery, he recovered like a champ. I remember the day after surgery, he looked at me as if saying "hey doc, where's my breakfast and why is there this giant lamp shade around my neck??". He spent the next year romping around with his little sister Denale and they were such fun when it came to seeing them for appointments. My last kiss from Bailey was in late December 2013, at a wellness check-up where he seemed to be doing great.

On Wednesday morning I got a message from the office manager saying Bailey died over night. After talking to his dad, I believe Bailey suffered GDV (gastric dilation volvulus), meaning his stomach bloated then twisted on itself (did you ever see the movie or read the book "Marley and Me?" Same disease Marley died from).  Sounds like Bailey had, as usual, a grand evening meal then played with his sister for awhile before he started going down hill. He began vomiting foam and was restless. Mr. Steven's said he was upstairs, downstairs, outside, on the couch, on the floor...but couldn't get comfortable and he continued to non-productively heave.  In the course about 8 hours he eventually went to find himself a place outside to rest. It was there where Mrs. Stevens sat with him until he passed. Today Mr. Stevens told me that when Bailey died, he cried not just for Bailey but for all of his dogs that had passed (this man does not cry easily and I don't believe he had yet outwardly mourned the loss of his other previous dogs until now). Bailey spent his whole life giving love and getting love in return. He conquered injury, illness and a major surgery. But, in the end, what he faced was too great for sweet Bailey. I will miss you my friend. So much.

Today was another particularly trying day. Coming off a week of a sore throat which then turned into congestion and then a fever over the weekend, I had just about enough energy to get to work for half the day. I felt a great need to be at work for a few reasons including, calling owners back regarding blood work I ran on Saturday and, more importantly, to see a another sweet lab named Buddy Bailey.

Buddy had been diagnosed with cancer last month. He had multiple nodules in his spleen and liver and it was really just a matter of time until the cancer  took over his body. He was a big, handsome black lab with a lustrous coat. He was full of energy and a zest for life.

I spoke to his mother on Saturday afternoon who said that Buddy refused food for the first time since his diagnosis. She elected to watch him closely the rest of the weekend and come in for an appointment today. Well, Buddy's energy continued to decline as did his appetite (although mom said he managed to have a yummy pot roast last night). On presentation today he was too weak to stand and he was pale. His abdomen looked distended and I believe one of those many masses might have been bleeding into his belly.

After I spoke to mom and dad and we all agreed it was time for Buddy to go, Heather, a wonderful vet tech, and I entered into our comfort room (a room that is down the hall from the waiting area and main exam rooms) to place an intravenous catheter. We place a catheter for every euthanasia. It gives us the security of being in the vein and, even if the animal moves, it will not affect our procedure. The final few moments of any animal's life is precious and we try to make it as smooth as possible.

Heather and I tried for nearly 45 minutes to feed a catheter into one of Buddy's fragile peripheral veins. The problem was he was so under perfused (low blood pressure) and hypovolemic (low blood volume) that every time we entered a vein it either collapsed or blew, meaning it became useless. Mom and dad sat at Buddy's front end the entire time Heather and I tried. They kept petting him and telling him what a good boy he was and every so often he would give them a tail wag just to say I love you too and its going to be ok. They were just as brave as Buddy.

I cannot remember the last time I had such a difficult time performing a euthanasia and I hope this never happens to anyone. Eventually, we had to use Buddy's jugular vein because that was the only vein that was prominent enough to feel, feed and inject. Buddy, until the very end, showed me what a patient, tough, enduring and loving dog he really was. I am so sorry for the delay today Buddy. Thank you for your patience and for showing us all what it means. We will all miss you sweet boy.

These are the nights I lay awake. These are the nights I cry and feel a deep sadness in my chest. I can only hope that Bailey and Buddy have met and are full of energy, spirit and, always, love. I also hope they have met the other dogs and horses that have passed through my life personally and to my relatives that have passed and all the loved ones in YOUR lives that have passed. I hope they are having fun and let's thank them all for reminding us how each day is a blessing.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I don't think anyone likes being sick. And, boy o' boy, I am no exception. I have a very low threshold for tolerance of feeling even just a bit under the weather. So the past week has been brutal for me. It started off with a sore throat on Tuesday and until yesterday I felt like I was swallowing shards of glass every time I swallowed.  As if that wasn't bad enough, around the same time I developed a lower urinary tract infection. So, basically, from my shoulders up and my waist down I felt like I was a voodoo doll being stabbed with pins. Thrilling! I began antibiotics to treat my UTI as I believed by upper respiratory infection was probably viral.

Yesterday afternoon I felt like I was making a bit of a turn around and made sure to get myself into bed by 6:30 pm so that I was feeling as good as I could for work today. Well, some time around 10 pm I woke up shivering and really congested. My temperature normally runs low and I have a history of feeling cold (worse before I was treated for hypothyroidism). But last night I was both shivering and febrile. My temperature was at 99.6 degrees F. My normal temperature runs low at 96.5-97 degrees F so, I was BURNING UP. I popped 600 mg of Ibuprofen, flushed my sinuses (hooray for the neti pot) and tucked myself deep under the covers trying desperately to warm up.

I woke up every hour on the hour after that and eventually decided there was no use in trying to sleep any more and I got up at 2 am. I thought it was a good opportunity to write about my misery (haha). And now, its 3 am and I'm sitting on my couch watching the women's skiathalon  (formally known as "the pursuit") live in Sochi....in a tank top and sweating (perhaps out of empathy for these women who have been pushing hard for 38+minutes) ...

Every time I get sick and the stubborn part of me wants to take over my mind, I am reminded of times like these where if had really given in, in the beginning, I might not be in such a rut. Then again, I may just be succumbing to a major viral infection and I was bound to get this sick. Chances are though that I didn't give in like I should have Tuesday and Wednesday.

In training, always listen to your body...not the sometimes corrupted and ridiculous mind of yours that tells you "don't miss a workout", "keep pushing, its not that bad" or "resting will put you behind".....because all of these negative thoughts are blasphemous. Rest. Rest. Rest. It is natures best remedy.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Being in Denver during the conference playoffs and now as the Super Bowl kicks off, is quite a fun experience. The camaraderie of this amazing city is pretty special. "United in Orange" is the motto and I think I've seen more orange jerseys/shirts worn the past two weeks than I can ever remember. It reminds me in part of college athletics, especially the first year of my college volleyball season when we moved up the leaderboard ladder swiftly. The more we won, the closer we got to the conference championships. We were continually moving closer to being united as a team. The culmination of the pre-season, season and post-season efforts was invigorating and intoxicating. The same holds true for the Broncos and the Seahawks today as their seasons culminate on Super Bowl 48. The same will hold true for any athlete training for their biggest race or game of the season. For me, of course, this is Ironman Lake Placid.

I just completed my first month of base training. One more month and "phase 1" is complete. I gotta say, I have been working harder than I can remember ever working in the past, mainly on strength training. Strength sessions are occurring 3x per week and I spend 60-90 minutes during each session. And I'm pushing myself hard. Like "grunting" hard. One of my main goals is to become stronger so that I perform better. Also, adding muscle means I will be burning fuel faster and more efficiently and thus maybe becoming leaner. And, yes, I want to drop my body fat percentage down to fighting weight. Who doesn't?

Go BRONCOS! As for everyone else, keep fighting your fight and digging deep to get yourself to the kick-off of your dream game/race.

During what I imagine will be some funny commercial breaks, time-outs or the half time show during today's game, please take a moment to click on the donate link. I have a big monetary goal and I would love to feel invigorated by your contribution. United in giving.