After spending five hours running loops of a 2.5 km trail you would think the desire to ever do this again would well and truly fade with my legs, quite the contrary. It was about this time as dawn cracked the horizon and the kookaburras began to laugh that I filled with passion for this discipline.
On a remote mountaintop a brave social experiment is taking place.
Buddhist Monk Lobsang was trained under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama but 8 years ago he left behind a life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to create a unique community in the foothills of the Himalayas which rescues orphaned and neglected children.
5 year-old Tashi is the newest arrival. Her mother recently passed away and she’s been abandoned by her alcoholic father. Wild and troubled, Tashi is struggling to find her place amongst 84 new siblings.
Lobsang has channeled his own unhappy childhood into an opportunity for other ‘uninvited guests of the universe’ to avoid a similar fate. But Can the community’s love and compassion transform Tashi’s alienation and tantrums into a capacity to make her first real friend?
"...a lovely reminder that while there is a lot of darkness in the world, there are also beautiful shining points of light."
Run, Learn, Evolve
This relationship between running and who I am did not evolved over night, it is a journey within itself, separate from that of life; addiction or abuse, but one that harvests a sense of connection between all, one that aids in bridging the gaps between past, present and future. As I continue to run I continue to grow, in ways that I am still trying to understand; however what I have learnt is that running provides me freedom from myself.
Through time on legs I find the clarity and direction that allows me to navigate the mental minefield. On roads and trails I unite with earth and nature; I am afforded a level of consciousness with the universe only found in certain moments of stride. Through distance I find gratitude for the meaningful things in life; often identified in the form of tears upon realization. Through solitude I find love, for myself, for others.
I will continue to run, as I will continue to learn and evolve.
Depressions in Landscape & Emotion
An unstaged, mid-run, terrestrial-based short with Rob Krar. Krar, new to ultra running, holds the speed record for the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim and has quickly become a dominant force in American races.
Our individual journeys are not always smooth sailing and can become quite testing at times; in spite of less than desirable sea states we attempt to search for positive winds to remain afloat, however, as the journey becomes long and the seas continue to swell we risk filling our vessel with negative water and ultimately sinking.
I have personally struggled over the last few months and continue to do so. A niggling knee injury that not only prevents me from training to my full potential, but also aided in a less than desirable mental state on occasion. To add insult to injury I was forced to withdraw from the GNW100, as a result of not enough hours in the legs and in fear of becoming a liability on the trails during the event. As the weeks’ pass and my training remains sporadic, it is extremely hard to remain positive and not take on water. Although a 1st world problem compared to some, it has been enough to halt my forward progress not only on the trails but also in other areas of my life.
The one thing I have been able to draw on though is my persistent perseverance to not let this injury beat me. My goal of running 100 miles has been replaced by a goal of stringing together a solid week of pain free training, however the key is that I still have a goal and I still continue to sail forward. Don’t let negativity and self-doubt into your life as a result of things not being perfect. If things are perfect then embrace the smooth sailing, if things aren’t so good then respect the fact that in order for us to evolve we must be tested. Prove to yourself that you have what it takes to move forward in the face of defeat and earn the right to grow. Re-ignite the fire that drives you and do today what others wouldn’t in your situation.
My hope is for this message to find someone who may be taking on water and facing his or her own personal struggles at present. I want to reassure you that you are not alone, through perseverance and the will to succeed you will also be able to see these testing times through. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be; you are growing stronger every day and strive for that moment to embrace smooth sailing.
"If you find yourself taking on water, look for wind, and sail in a different direction."
- Johnathon Morrison
Emotion is something that I would love to completely understand one day, I am under no illusion that it is possible, however if I can harness emotional strength and balance in myself then that will be a step in the right direction. Emotion runs deep in me, a trait I inherited from my mother and something that I have had to work on throughout my sobriety. I have used this gift of emotion in the past to manipulate people; I have also allowed myself to be manipulated by it. Emotion can be an inner reservoir of energy and strength, a miraculous gift or a powerful weapon, one capable of complete destruction.
I had never felt raw emotion until last year; don’t be confused by this I have felt emotions before however I never really respected them, nor did I understand how or why they needed processing. Previously in my life I would quickly drown away emotions, particularly those I didn’t want to feel or deal with; I chose to face my difficulties in a way I had grown accustom to, alcohol and ignorance. I have also been guilty of carelessly drawing upon emotion to gain influence or manipulating people to aid in my own endeavors. Addiction gives the same advice you hear given to hopeful musicians or actors, use your emotions to gain a connection with your audience; it has the ability to turn you into a Faceless man.
I strongly believe now that emotions should not just be felt, but lived. I had to live my emotions in order to ever understand how and why they affected me the way that they did. At one particular point I recall being hit with just about every emotion known to man in a single death punch, a single event was enough to nearly de-rail my recovery and give me an excuse to relapse. Emotions are not excuses, they are feelings and it was through those feelings and that experience that I gained respect for raw emotion, not masked, not false, the core, root, and raw emotion.
If we take the time to analyze our emotions and observe the underlining feeling to that emotion, we can start to develop knowledge of its impact. Rather than switching off, approach with a conscious decision to weed out the full range of emotions you are feeling. It may take some time, however gaining knowledge on this energy will allow you to live an emotion with thought and feeling, unlocking another level of consciousness within our lives and giving us again a powerful weapon, used for growth and rebuild not destruction.
As addicts we may never gain a strong hold on our addiction until we understand ourselves, we need to learn to live with our emotions, we must feel them in their rawest form, process them till their passing, learn and understand their meaning. Once we have lived with emotion from its birth to its death that is when we start to gain its strength.
We all poses courage, some display it more than others, but it runs through us all. The difference is a lot of us tend to let it lay dormant, we smother it with an array of other virtues that are far easier to muster, or worse, we allow our vices to intimidate courage through the use of fear. The Oxford dictionary defines courage as the ability to do something that frightens one, or strength in the face of pain or grief. We have all in our lives demonstrated acts of courage, some were small feats, others huge, but nevertheless they were all acts of courage in the face of fear.
As children we were all courageous, I think back to when I was a child and all of the times I called on courage; that first leap into water, a night with the light off, even the first day of school. All events I am sure you can relate to, however my greatest act of courage as a child, some won't.
I remember the feeling of uncertainty to the act, I was virtually unaware of it's meaning, still I could sense its evil. I had been abused several times, and on many different occasions, with every account I gained a greater insight into what this person was and how they thought. I started to identify the cues, breaking the code to help protect others and myself. I got to know it so well that I was able to ensure I was the only person hurt.
The day I knew what I was suffering was wrong was the day a giraffe spoke to me. I remember him as Happy Harold, however I think he is now called Healthy Harold? Happy Harold was a toy giraffe, big though, that travelled around schools as part of life education. On that particular visit I remember the van going completely dark, with little lights shinning on the roof that resembled the night sky, I also remember Happy Harold telling me the following jingle "my bodies nobodies body but mine, you touch your own body let me touch mine". That day I saw the universe and also became aware of child sexual abuse.
I kept the truth to myself for a while, thinking and doubting that what was happening was actually wrong. I was that scared of nobody believing me that I devised a plan to leave no doubt in anyone's mind. As a child I decided to let it happen again to prove that it was happening, I would also lie to this person, convincing them that I wouldn't tell anyone. That is until I got back to so called safety. I knew it was going to happen again, it was just a matter of when. Throughout all of this abuse I was a victim, until that day, that day I was in control and that day I became a survivor. I let it happen again, as planned, and again I swore to not tell a sole, the memory of that lie is still so vivid. My courage wasn't needed to deal with the abuse, or to tell someone about it, the courage I needed was to lie. The fear I faced was lying to this persons face, I had to hold a poker face against a monster, I was that scared of not being able to sell my lie that it took every ounce of courage I had.
Sold it like a boss.
It disgust me that any human regardless of age should have to face this evil, however unfortunately it exist. I don't want you to take away from this how awful it may have been or that it should have never happened, it did. It does. What I want you to take is that we are all born with courage and a lot of other virtues; they run through us and may just need waking. Whatever it is you fear you have the courage to face it, believe in yourself and your plan.
Today is the start of dry July and many will opt to quit the drink for a very worthy cause. I applaud the efforts of all those taking up the challenge. I have reflected a lot on the periods in my life when I actually abstained from drinking, in an attempt to understand how this demon works. I have done dry July; there have been times when I haven't touch a drop for months on end, 3 months even up to 6 months, so if I had the ability to not touch a drop for that period of time then surely I don’t have a drinking problem right?
Well not quiet, and I use dry July as an example. I completed dry July relatively easy, I was strong, stood my ground and rejected the urge to tie one on; however this was only achievable due to my focus on the reward at the end. What kept me sober was the desire to not be sober, I was driven by the notion that once this month was over then once again I could return to the bottle. It was relatively easy to abstain from alcohol; all I needed was that light at the end of the tunnel that reassured me this wasn’t the end.
The majority of people will approach this month with the best of intentions, they will support the cause and raise much needed funds for cancer sufferers. Some will actually use this month as a form of self-assessment, an opportunity to reassure themselves and their loved ones that they actually don’t have an issue with alcohol. However please be mindful that if you are approaching it in the same mindset I did then it’s not dry July your focused on, it’s the alcohol fuelled binge at the end. If this is the case then your self-assessment can be completed at the end of today.
If you are a drinker like me and when I say drinker I mean alcoholic, then you can probably relate to 'shut out mode'. Shut out mode is exactly that, we shut out and switch off from the rest of the world. It's that mindset we go into when the only people we give two fucks about are ourselves and those in the next shout. I would focus all of my time and energy on these people, as if I had blinders on to anyone else. The drinking partners, the strangers and the drink would get my full undivided attention and take priority over loved ones, friends and whoever else was not co-located with me at that particular time or place. There were times when I enjoyed a social drink with mates, but the majority of the time, particularly in my later years, I was drinking with people that were just after the same thing I was, massive consumption. As my mates grew out of it, I grew into it, looking for every opportunity I could to turn a few quiet beers into a weekend festival and in doing so avoid answering to anyone, including myself. The difference for me was that most people enjoy the company of others when they drink and it is purely a social event with healthy interaction, however I grew to hate it, the going out for dinner, the family events or social bbq, all these occasions disrupted my drinking, If I did attend then I was completely on edge the whole time. I couldn't relate to why people chose to eat a meal or have a chat over getting wasted, drink or move the fuck on, It drove me insane and I grew to resent people for it. This resulted in me making up excuses and lies to not attend, and again I was shutting people out.
I had developed this ability to just shut myself off from the outside world on cue, I didn't care who I hurt in the process but once I started drinking I only cared about how I could keep drinking, if you were not contacting me to drink then you got nothing. I didn't want to be disturbed or harassed when I was trying to party, really I was just too dame ignorant and self-centered to care. It had nothing to do with having fun, fun was code for I am up to no good and if I take this call or reply to this txt then I am going to have to answer to someone. I knew what I was doing was wrong but that’s just it, it's only wrong on the come down or when it came time to make amends for the destruction I caused on the weekend; Then I saddled up and went back out to do it all over again the following week. It was just one vicious cycle, however at the time I could justify every action and believe every lie. I found the more positive influences I shut out, would allowed for more negative ones to be let in. I was replacing people that didn't support my habit with those that did, I was creating an environment that was filled with other people who shut out their own influences and by doing so we created a nice little bubble that supported our cause. For me my addiction survived by shutting loved ones out, if you want to kill addiction you need to let your loved ones in. Who are your loved ones? They are those people still hanging around after you've had your last drink, they are the ones you trot on and so quickly hung up on when you didn't need them.
I remember someone saying to me once, that they didn't care how much I drank as long as I answered the phone whenever they called, I chose not to on three occasions, there wasn't a fourth. Shut out mode doesn't exempt you from your responsibilities; it doesn't give you the right to just pick up on Monday where you left off Friday. It is a method I used to support my habit, and a habit that killed my support. I again chose to adopt 'shut out mode' when I made the decision to quit, however this time I shut out all those who were a negative influence on me and supported my addiction. Unlike the loved ones they have never missed me nor have I heard from many since.
In the mission section of Sober Strides you will see that I categorise my goals under two headings, missions (long-term goals) which define an end state, and stepping-stones (intermediate goals) used to evaluate my progression towards a mission.
It is normally recommended that you only focus on one goal at a time; however, I like to choose two, one that supports my own growth and one that supports others in growth. When selecting a goal it is important to ensure that it aligns with your "why". When I made the choice (goal) to not pick up (drink) again, I had a "why", although my "why" has evolved slightly over time it has maintained its core principle. You may already know your why, or you may need to find it, either way to give yourself the best possible chance of mission success you need a "why".
Mitch Horowitz offers the following guidance, "What if a genie promised you a wish, but with a catch: you had to tell him the truth about what you really wanted — otherwise you’d lose everything. We internally repeat what we want to believe about ourselves (“I enjoy my work”) but rarely with self-scrutiny. Make a list — every day — of what you truly, deeply want out of life. Revise it repeatedly, until you feel you are being unflinching honest about your desires. This does't mean becoming Walter White, but you should know what you really want. You may be surprised where it leads you".
Once you have identified your "why" follow the SMART process below to help develop your goal.
(S) Specific - You need to be specific when setting a goal so that the exact nature of the goal is known; ask yourself, what do I want my life experience to look like at the end. Be certain to not take a half hearted approach to goal setting, like I need to loose weight or I need to get fit, you must make a commitment to the specific goal, for example – I will loose 10 kg before 24 Dec 16, or I will complete the Melbourne Marathon 2016.
(M) measurable - To measure your goals you first need to make a commitment to your goal and hold yourself accountable for it’s success. By signing up for an event, enlisting in a program or identifying a firm end state, you will be able to measure your success through achievement, completion or result. Mission success will be known to you and identifiable to others on completion. To aid in measuring your progression towards your goal utilise steeping-stones to motivate, maintain focus and assist you evaluating how well poised you are to achieving your mission.
(A) Acheivable - Goals should be set high enough that they pose a significant challenge, but not be impossible to achieve or overwhelming. Keep goals to a minimum of 1-2, allowing you to give complete front sight focus towards achieving your mission.
(R) Realistic - Be realistic in the goals you set and in your abilities. Take time to ascertain if the amount of effort, dedication and sacrifices required to achieve your goal can be afforded. If you find that you fall short, then just re-evaluate your goal.
(T) Timely - Set and define a time frame/line for achieving your goals. I have proposed the following time frames/lines, short term (1 day - 4 weeks), intermediate (1 month to 6 months) – etc, long term (1 year and after).
“I actually sign a contract with myself for any goal that I set out to do, no matter what it is; because that holds you accountable.” – Gail Devers
Goal Work Sheet
1. My goal (stepping-stone, mission) is it a SMART goal?
2. My target completion date is?
3. My reasons for committing to the achievement of this goal are (my “why”)?
4. Key steps (decisive events) involved in achieving this goal (brainstorm before narrowing the focus)?
5. Which of my values/visions are supported by this goal?
6. What am I willing to commit/sacrifice to achieving this goal (time, effort, money, other)?
7. What obstacles may occur, and how can I manage/overcome these obstacles?
8. How will I know when I have achieved the goal (or not)?
9. What will be my reward when I’ve achieved this goal?
If you do not achieve the goal, that is ok, you just need to reflect on what tripped you up. Go back to the start of this process and re-set, as the goal is worth it- it lines up with your “why”. Hopefully that has made the process of goal setting a little less daunting, and given you a tool to use in preparation for mission success. If you have any further questions or would like some help please don't hesitate to contact me through the contact page. Good luck and go get it!
It’s not easy for me to pin point moments of honesty associated with my addiction as the majority of my addiction was surrounded by dishonesty. I finished my first draft when I realised there is really nothing in here at all about honesty but quiet the contrary… How do I find honesty amongst addiction?
After some reflection I found that the connection between addiction and honesty for me is essentially a positive one. The first step in my recovery required me to be honest with myself, I had to admit out load that I have a problem and it needs to be addressed. This honesty only came at my rock bottom, in fear of going off topic I will quickly explain why I say my rock bottom. I believe we all have our own rock bottom and it comes as a consequence of key events in our lives, It may be through a near death experience, the loss of someone or something close to you, a dark place you never want to return to or like me a point when you finally realised that you are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I still had a job, car, girlfriend and money but the other three were about to go out. It’s in that moment as I sat smothered by anxiety, remorse, hate and self-pity that I mustered enough courage to be honest with myself and admit that I have a problem and I need help.
This next account of honesty is one of the hardest things for me to write, even as I try to articulate it I find myself overwhelmed with emotion. In all of my relationships prior to sobriety I have been guilty of lying, cheating and dishonesty. These traits along with many others created a constant barrier that kept me from ever giving myself completely to someone, however once I surrendered myself to honesty it rewarded me with some of life’s greatest gifts. None more so than the opportunity to have given myself honestly and completely to another, not masked by a false version of myself but me in my truest form. If I go through life and never experience that again, I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to have experienced it once.
Sobriety requires honesty.
This address was delivered by Adm. William H McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University of Texas, Austin on 17 May 2014. Adm McRaven relays 10 lessons learnt during SEAL training that inspire all to make change.
"What starts here changes the world"
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- Theadore Roosevelt
Although I have made positive behavioural changes in my life, this doesn't exonerate me from the negative ones I have exhibited in the past. I was a shit human. It never began that way but as the years of self proclaimed rock star went on, so did the decline into complete self-centred dick. I have been guilty of lying, cheating, dishonesty, betrayal, and the list could go on. Again I could blame the drink and the mental state I was in, however that is not an excuse to treat myself and others with a total lack of respect. I can never make up for the mistakes I have made or expect forgiveness, I can only offer my apologies and vow to not disrespect myself or another human again.
If you are reading this and find you are guilty of the same behaviour, then it's something you need to address. Relationships are an opportunity to learn and evolve through positive interaction with another, a privilege that should be embraced not abused.
Tool - Reflect on your weekend and acknowledge both positive and negative behavioural patterns. Once you have exhausted your list, look for any areas of concern and try to establish what environments promoted that change in your behaviour, both positive and negative. If you require any help or assistance, please don't hesitate to contact me.
"A man who has committed a mistake and does not correct it, is committing a second mistake"
Sober Strides requires emotional balance, without this we become susceptible to tipping. To achieve balance I utilise, reflection to remain conscious of pain and visualisation to remain hopeful of joy. We already have enough pain in our lives to reflect on, so please don't keep searching for more, however do look for every opportunity to find hope.
This short film will aid in both reflection and vision. For me the emotion that it draws out and the overwhelming amount of passion for life it gives me is priceless. I am not going to spoil the watch for you, however here are a few of my favourite thoughts from Trail Dog.
Happiness is so much simpler than you might think, its about our relationships with the earth, nature and each other.
Jump for joy when you are happy and surround yourself with the people you love.
Live in the moment and Listen more than you talk, but when you do talk, speak from the heart.
Look for the best in everyone and be loyal.
Love unconditionally and shine with all of your light, all of the time.
Always go for a run even if it is raining.
It is a weekly watch for me now and I send much love to Gaëtan, Pèpite and JolynI. Thank you Salomon running TV for making available such motivating, touching and inspirational short films. Check them out and if one consumes you, then please share by contacting me.
"Through sobriety I found running, through running I find sobriety"
- Johnathon Morrison
Today, 35 years ago I was born in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. I am blessed to be the son of two amazing parents and the brother of a true warrior.
My journey through addiction and child sexual abuse is not one absent from love or support. I have grown up with an abundance of love and have been supported through times of both defeat and triumph. It is important to know that all of the battles I have faced in my life, but one, are a result of my own behavior and the choices I have made. This is not a site for excuses or blame.
About 4 months ago I had a conversation with my best mate about endeavouring to gain sponsorship for my running through Instagram. I was hesitant to do this at first but after some encouragement I decided to give it a go and make my profile public. I experimented with different ideas and took on board the guidance from my mate, however I lacked the passion and drive to achieve a desirable outcome; I eventually lost interest and reverted back to my original posts. From all of that very little effort the only reward to come from my attempt was a meaningful hash tag (#soberstrides) that pretty much summed me up. I'm sober. I run. Well that's the straight to the point version, in actual fact it says I am conscious and free from addiction, moving forward with positive strides.
The key word above is passion. When I joined Instagram I joined with the purpose of creating an account that was private, it allowed me to only let people in that were healthy for me but also a way to record my days sober; a simple equation and captured image that visually expressed where I was on my journey. My account had purpose and was filled with passion, providing me with everything I needed. Sober Strides was created and built on those same foundations and has become an extension of myself. As stated on my home page I am not extraordinary or brilliant, I am just someone who has decided to step up and hold myself accountable for making change. I don't have all the answers nor am I qualified in any way, shape or form but I am willing to make myself vulnerable and share my own journey through abuse, addiction, recovery and wherever the trail leads me from here.
In order for me to achieve my intent with Sober Strides I need your help, I need warriors who are aligned with my vision to step up and support a tribe of like minded humans to take action. Through word and action we can inspire others to choose a better quality of life, through acts of courage and compassion we can become apart of something bigger than ourselves.
Today 35 years ago I was born, however I feel this is just the beginning of my life.
- Dedicated to my family and my best mate.