Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

I am not good at routines. I’m forgetful, easily distracted, and I would rather do something new or entertaining than follow a routine. However, I know that I owe a lot of my happiness and good fortune over the past several years to well established beneficial routines. When you have physical goals like a marathon or long hike routine training schedules are what make it possible. I’m not a neat freak, but I like to stay on top of thing around the house. And I have a lot of projects around the house that I want to do, and I really dislike leaving anything half-finished. A solid daily and weekly routine helps me keep these things on track. If these things are taken care of, it’s much easier to focus on planning fun things and doing them!

Over the past 8 years I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my daily and weekly routines. However, after I completed the Marine Corps Marathon last October, I fell off on many of my routines. It started as a conscious effort to let my body heal, my hip and both Achilles tendons were very sore and the constant training was not letting them heal. So letting up on the work outs is explainable, but a lot of my other daily and weekly routines suffered too. My blog posting dropped off and I wasn’t as much on top of chores around the house. We’ve been busy, but I have the time I need to do these things.

In addition to slacking off on good habits, some bad ones have gained ground. Too much TV, too much couch time, and my diet has taken a turn for the worse. So far there has been no big difference in my life due to these changes, but over time, if I let this trend continue, my life would change and not for the better.

There is a well-known saying that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I would like to paraphrase this proverb to state one of my strongest held beliefs, “all play and no work makes Jack a bad playmate”. In addition to the preparation required so that you can truly “enjoy play”, you have to do “the work” on yourself and your situation before you can be a good play partner. You need to be financially prepared, you have to be physically prepared, you have to be well rested, and you need a stable orderly living situation before you are really ready to put all that aside for some worry free and well deserved fun. You have to do be prepared before you can be a good playmate.

Establishing beneficial routines and sticking to them is an essential part of living a full life. Do the work to prepare yourself for life and you’ll never regret it! If you don’t have good routines life will eventually overwhelm you and then start to pass you by.

View from Tecate Peak in Southern San Diego County

One of the most satisfying feelings in life is feeling the sense of being grounded. The dictionary definition of the word asks more questions about a person than it answers.

I’ve heard other phrases in my life that I also equate with a person who is grounded such as “knows who they are and they’re happy with it”, “comfortable in their own skin”, and “right where they want to be in life”.   The classic view of a person who is “grounded” is of a person who is that way because that is who they are and nothing can shake them. People like that might exist, but I think anyone is capable of being shaken loose from their roots occasionally. Sometimes it is better to let yourself drift for a while than to hold on to a self-image that no longer works. I believe you won’t be able to hold on to that “grounded” feeling for long if your self-image doesn’t match your situation!  Although I haven’t always felt that I was “grounded”, I can definitely think of four times in my life I felt that way.

When I was young and we lived just outside of my hometown, even though I spent a lot of time alone, I remember being very happy. I had a close family, felt I knew who I was, and where I fit in the world. Of course things have a way of changing, in fact they never stop changing. I hit puberty (never a likely time to feel grounded), my parents divorced, and we moved in to town. It is hard to feel grounded when the “ground” is shifting underneath you.

But I found my way and even though I was a rebellious teen, I felt grounded. I’m sure my Mom would feel differently about that time in my life, but I was happy with much of my life. I started working, had a more social life, a terrific best friend (who is still my best friend today), and I learned a lot about myself. But high school doesn’t last forever! After high school the ground shifted yet again. Behavior that worked when I had fewer responsibilities became a huge problem. I didn’t know where I was headed and no longer felt even a little bit grounded.

Eventually, I decided that a major change was necessary. I decided to join the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is a terrific organization and I loved every minute of my 21 years of service, but I can’t say that I felt particularly grounded during my first four years in the Marine Corps. I was constantly moving around, meeting new people, and learning even more about myself. I wasn’t particularly happy with some of the things I learned, so I decided to make some changes. At the end of my first enlistment I met a woman, got married and started a family. Responsibility and family allowed me to finally feel grounded again.

The years I spent married and raising young children was a defining time in my life. I was absolutely exactly where I wanted to be. I never wanted it to end! We were married 20 years. We were happy at least 80% of the time for the first 17. Unfortunately we were only happy about 20 percent of the time the last three years. This was different for me than after high school. After high school I didn’t really know who I was.  Now I did! I was settled in my career, I was a father, and I wanted to be a family man. That included coming home from work to my family. My self-image no longer completely fit my situation. I saw my children several hours a week, not every night. I came home to an empty apartment, and I didn’t have a long list of interests to fill my life with. The interests of my youth – going to the bar, playing pool, and the rest of the things young men do, felt like a pretty hollow existence compared to what my life had been.

I didn’t all at once decide to “find myself” or to live a fuller life. In fact I did what a lot of people in my situation do, I jumped back into a relationship very quickly. I thought I could rebuild what I had lost. I thought all I needed was someone to come home to and then everything would be “good” again. It didn’t work out quite that way. I ended up married and divorced again very quickly. Although it was a 3 year relationship I was not able to regain that feeling of being grounded. After that experience I was even more “out of sorts”. I really was adrift except for one thing, my youngest son moved in with me.

I wish I could say that with my son there I had decided to just enjoy having my son there, not worry about dating, and take some time to build a life, but I didn’t know I needed to do that.  I was a single parent, dating, and dealing with the challenges that all of those things together bring. It didn’t leave a lot of time in my life for self discovery. It didn’t take long for me to see that this wasn’t the way to happiness. I pulled away from online dating, focused on doing my own thing, not for years, but for enough time to find something that I could build on.  I also started blogging. My first blog is no longer around. It was a 60 post in 60 days nonstop rant. I wasn’t ranting at the world for “what they were doing to me”. I was ranting at myself! I needed to change some things. It was too late to “Join the Marine Corps” again, and that is not the kind of change I needed anyway. I needed to accept that I wouldn’t go back to where I had been before. Besides, my kids were mostly grown and the nest was emptying out. I started to hike, and run, and sail more. I started going to plays and more concerts than I had ever gone to before. I also accepted the friendship offered by a terrific woman I was dating before my “60 posts in 60 days” rant/melt down. Again I wish I could say that I let this go slowly, that is absolutely what I needed, but I didn’t. After a few months I asked her to date again. At least it wasn’t because I needed to date, it was because I thought she was terrific and I didn’t want to lose her.  However, I did commit myself to taking the dating slowly, and to continuing to find myself. I knew I needed to fill my life with not just the company of another person, but with my own interests if I was going to ever be happy again.

Much of the rest of the story is already told in the posts I’ve written for this blog over the last 3+ years, so I’ll skip to the good part.  Last week I was rocking my grandson to sleep and my beautiful, tenacious, adventurous, wonderful wife bent over to give me a kiss and one word came to my mind – grounded!  I was grounded well before this, but I felt it more strongly than ever before at that moment.  I could not be in a better place. I cannot imagine a different life. I know exactly who I am and I’m happy with that person (well mostly). I know that there is change out there somewhere in the future. I don’t dwell on it… but it will come. Until then I will live every day to the fullest and continue to feel grounded!

2013 Collage

Last year, 2013, was a very good year for me. Although it will be hard to beat I’m hoping for an even better 2014!

In 2013 I checked a major accomplishment off on my Bucket List, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and had a great time in Washington DC that weekend! In order to make that happen I ran over 500 training miles including two half marathons, the San Diego Half Marathon in March 2013, and the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in San Diego in June.

We had a great time camping near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park with family. Although I’ve been many times, this was my first trip to Idaho with Jenny. We spent our first anniversary enjoying downtown Boise, went white water rafting, and biked the Boise green belt on the 4th of July, then headed north for a couple days in beautiful Stanley Idaho. For my birthday we had a terrific weekend on Santa Catalina Island. the trip started out fast with my first zipline experience, and we also had a terrific time hiking in the hills around Avalon and just relaxing in our hotel and at the Descanso Beach club.

We enjoyed our third year of Green Flash Concerts at Birch Aquarium and lots of other live music including a few of my favorites Sara Barelles and One Republic at the SDSU Open Air Theater, John Mayer and Phillip Phillips at Sleep Train Amphitheater, Steve Miller at the fair, and Fleetwood Mac at one of my favorite venues – the Hollywood Bowl.

We closed on our new house on 31 December 2012, so we had all of 2013 to get settled in. This inspired me to start a new category for my blog: Weekend Project. Although I got a good start on the house, there are plenty more projects to tackle over the next few years.

For 2014 I will do this a little differently than last year with a top 10 count down of predictions for 2014!

10. Week-end project – install surround sound speakers!

9. Develop an Android App and publish it to Google Play.

8. Weekend Project – Improve the storage in our garage so we can park 2 cars in the garage at once (novel idea)!

7. Our 4th consecutive season of Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium.

6. Bucket List (progress) – Complete at least 35 new (never been on hikes) in San Diego County.

5. Bucket List – Walk across the Grand Canyon not once but twice on a rim to rim to rim hike!

4. Check at least one item off my Bucket List in the travel section. Need to coordinate this with a few people so I’m not picking one now…

3. Visit family and friends in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, and even here in California!

2. One of my daughters will get engaged! (OK cheating on the prediction side of things as it happened on January 2nd.)

1. Bucket List – rock a grandchild to sleep in my arms!

I hope your 2013 was unbelievable, and your 2014 is unstoppable! Happy New Year!

Another year of life has passed and the day marking that passage was filled with cheerful birthday wishes on Facebook, in emails, and face to face. Although it’s been 3 weeks since I finished the Marine Corps Marathon, I’m still not completely recovered. The aches, the pains, and even the cheerful wishes all remind me that another year has passed and I’m getting older.

But then I received an email from my best friend… He started off by pointing out that we’ve been friends for 40 years, since I was 13 and he was 14. But somewhere along the way, his message of friendship and good cheer took a turn. When he got to “we’ll be fortunate to make it to…” I started to worry. But what the heck, a 20 year old might wonder about that too… right? Anyway, I decided to figure out what age we might achieve if we are fortunate. U.S. men have an average lifespan of 76 years and women about 81 years. So if my friend and I are fortunate we will exceed the average. Those averages also include a lot of people who were not fortunate enough to make it to the ripe old age of 53.

One of the great things about living longer, is the average life expectancy continues to increase based on your current more advanced age. The Social Security Administration will gladly calculate those factors in for you. Check out their Life Expectancy Calculator if your really want to know “what age you’ll be fortunate to make it past”.

Social Security Administration Breaks it All Down with Life Expectancy Calculator.bmp

For me that is currently 82.5 years, a bit better than the overall 76 year life expectancy for males. This make me feel a little better. Of course there is a limit to this increasing average thing. Eventually if you are really fortunate you exceed the ability of the Social Security Administrations tool to calculate your additional life expectancy. However, that doesn’t happen for men until you hit 120! It appears that 119 is a lofty goal, but a risky position to be in!

Life Expectancy Calculator reaches it limits.bmp

To put it all in perspective my friend was sure to remind me that we were of course “well past half way”! Just think of all those great memories! Yes, I have years and years and years of great memories. Many of them with him. But this is a two edged sword, lots of time has past to make those great memories so I have less time to make more great memories in the future. We went back and forth on emails a couple of times and came to the conclusion that we have fairly good recollection of some very early memories of our friendship. This exchange eventually included, “I suppose when I’m “really old” my memories well fade, and I won’t be able to remember hanging out at…”. I can’t blame that bit of joy on my friend, I had gotten into the spirit! I realize, at fifty-three (less scary to spell it out), I am “well past half way”! And if I didn’t the Social Security Administration made it easy by doing the math! With a bit more than 29.5 years remaining (if I’m fortunate) and 53 years of great memories, I’m definitely “well past half way”.

Dave also reminded me how lucky I am to have found my wife. He doesn’t have to remind me, she is a sweetheart! She’s loving, wonderful, adventurous, and I’m a very lucky guy. It wasn’t so much the reminder as the way he put it, you should let Jenny know how happy you are to… “spend your remaining years with” her. We have a terrific marriage, and a very full life, but she might smack me if I talk about our “remaining years”!

I gave Dave a hard time for all the talk of time, “the end”, birthdays and “how many more we may have”. But in truth I have thought about all these things myself over the last few years. It gets harder to avoid the older I get. There are reminders every day of how long I’ve been at this. The aches, the pains, the memories good and bad, and the number of past cheerful birthday wishes I’ve received are adding up. We all meet our Destiny one day (no not the girl you picked up at the club and spent the weekend in Catalina with). Regardless of “how long I have”, I plan to make the most of it. To me life isn’t about making money or collecting things. Even the memories of adventures, travel, and challenges met will be fleeting, no matter how much fun they are to collect. To me what is important is how I live my life, who I share it with, and how I will be remembered – regardless of how fleeting it will all be.

This week signaled the end of summer for 2013 in San Diego. I can’t count the number of places I’ve lived in the world on both hands, so I know summer ended a bit earlier in some of those places (Iowa and Minnesota) and seems to never ends in at least one of them (Hawaii). Even though San Diego is blessed with wonderful weather it is not the same weather all year. This week we had a couple of cold rainy days… this doesn’t happen in the summer in San Diego! So the end of summer has arrived. We’ll be keeping the windows closed… or open less, putting the thicker blanket on, and maybe a thermal blanket too. It will be harder to get up and out from under the covers. Another summer has come and gone.

Eric Rial sailing September 27th 2013I love summer. I love doing the things that are best done in the summer like going to the beach, seeing a baseball game, going to an outdoor concert, sailing, early morning runs, and late evening runs. This was my 53th summer and it went by too fast! It almost slipped right by without doing a couple summer things like going to the beach, and sailing. However the week before last was one of the best weeks we’ve had in San Diego all year, we had friends in town so off we went to the beach and sailing. We will still have nice weather in San Diego on non-summer days, but it won’t be “the summer”.

Jenny and Eric hiking in Mission Trails Park North Fortuna Trail.jpg.08The winter in San Diego is different than most other places. There are much fewer people at the beach, but the weather can still be really nice. It’s unpredictable though. If you plan a vacation here in the winter, it may be beautiful and it may not. That means fewer tourists. However, if you live here you will almost certainly get to enjoy a few weeks of Faux Summer . Then there will be a few cold and rainy weeks… time to get some projects done around the house. But most of the winter will be cool butnot cold. This is perfect weather for hiking, biking, walks around neighborhoods, and if you miss the heat you can just drive inland for a couple hours and you’ll find plenty of sunshine most of the time. One of my favorite things about the winter in San Diego is that I can go for a run right after work at the beach and see a terrific sunset almost every time.

Running at Sunset at Pacific Beach

The end of summer is more than about a change in the weather. It’s about the passage of time. Everyone has a limited number of summers to enjoy, so each one is precious. When you are young you take this for granted… it seems there will always be another summer, and you’ll be happy, healthy, and ready to enjoy it. As you get older, and I’m definitely getting there, you realize that in 10-15 summers you will not be doing the same things you have loved to do all your life. You are likely to be less energetic, might have health issues, and even if you can still do it, who wants to see a wrinkly old man yank his shirt over his head and run into the water! So each of the passing summers becomes more important and the passing of a summer means you have one less summer to enjoy! All the more reason to take your life by the horns not the tail. Plan a full life, then live it!

Three Sisters FallsIt rarely rains in San Diego in the summer, so by late May anything that is not being watered is likely to be brown. But the winter rains bring new growth on the inland hills and small mountains. Winter and early spring are a great time to hike in eastern San Diego county and there are several trails that are near water or lead to water or waterfalls. My favorite is Three Sisters Falls. I’ve hiked there a couple of times, it’s really just a big kids playground with huge boulders to climb on and around. I plan to hike a lot this winter as we prepare for a rim to rim (to rim – hopefully) hike at the Grand Canyon late next spring.

The summer of 2013 is over, but it was not wasted. We had a terrific time, created some great memories, and spent a lot of time with some of our favorite people. The summer of 2014 is not far away, and I have high expectations! Hope you had a terrific summer this year and next years is even better! Until then enjoy the fall, winter, and spring.

PS: One other nice thing about the winter is there is less marine layer in San Diego so the views are clearer. We have a great view from our house and we’ll get to enjoy a clear view much more often in the winter.

View from our balcony Nov 2012 - views are clearer in the winter

Only our footprints on Barking Sands Beach for milesI was running by the beach the other day. It was a pretty busy Friday night at the beach. Folks playing beach volleyball, skateboarding, riding bikes. I really prefer there to be some activity. I enjoy dodging a little traffic while I run. But the thing that caught my attention was two guys tossing small bean bags at a slanted board. I looked this up on the internet and found two names for the game: bean bag toss and cornhole. I prefer to say “two guys were playing bean bag toss on the beach” to “two guys were playing cornhole on the beach”. The point and what made this stick with me, is that this is a very simple thing to plan and do, but it’s fun. I’ve played this before in Iowa with family and had a ton of fun.
In our busy lives we make sure to make time for big things… big adventures, big events, and vacations, but we forget to make time for the simple things. A full life should have plenty of time for the simple things!

Some favorite simple things:

  • Throwing a Frisbee
  • Going for a walk or a hike
  • Riding bikes
  • Playing fetch
  • Swimming in the ocean
  • Boggie boarding
  • Playing cards
  • Playing games
  • Watching a movie
  • Reading a book
  • A Picnic
  • BBQ
  • Watching a sunset
  • Playing catch
  • Playing board games
  • Talking with family and friends
  • Happy Hour

I’m sure I’m missing lots of great simple things… any ideas?

Crossing the George Mason Memorial Bridge into DC May 2012
I believe the yearning for love, meaning, engagement, and contact with others is there from the beginning of our lives. It is part instinct – a part of our genetic makeup… but it is shaped by our environment. Consistent loving parents from an early age can make this “hole in our soul” a positive manageable thing. Inconsistent, absent, or ever changing situations at a young age can create an internal beast that can never be satisfied. Sometimes the size and intensity of a person’s hole in their soul can not be explained. Regardless of how perfect your childhood or your adult life, the hole is there! Sometimes the happiest people you know can become the most yearning, lost, confused people you know when those things they have filled the hole in their soul with are lost. Just look at how people act after a divorce, or when they lose a job, or have a crisis of faith.

What do we fill the hole in our soul with. If we are very lucky, we fill it with a full life, fit/healthy living, a strong sense of the meaning of life, a wonderful loving companion, close friends, a terrific family, and a rewarding job. Unfortunately, the reality is that most people are missing some or all of these things. If we are very unlucky or make bad choices we fill this hole in our soul with “less uplifting things”… alcohol, drugs, obsessive behavior, sex, get rich quick schemes, compulsive spending, irresponsible debt, selfish… self serving behavior, and other self destructive habits. But for most of us we end up somewhere between very lucky and very unlucky. We have a partial fill for the hole in our soul, and we alternate between feelings of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Sometimes the unbalance is minor, but sometimes it can overwhelm a person’s life. A person can have a wonderful partner and family and become a homebody… these people are susceptible if they lose this to becoming needy, smothering those they love. A person focused on fitness can set very challenging fitness goals, but still maintain some balance, but if they experience problems in the other parts of their lives, the fitness can evolve into their only focus… leading to excessive exercise. Any health issue or injury can seriously upset their lives.

I started thinking about these things about seven years ago when I went through a divorce after a long marriage. We had been mostly happy up until the last few years… but I had let my life become almost completely about family and work. As things went bad I focused even more on it. After it was over, I rushed back into a new relationship. I wanted to fill the void that I was now feeling with an intensity I had never experienced before. Before my marriage I had felt driven to be more successful, to start a family, but I had other things in my life too. Over time the family relationship filled more and more of the hole in my soul. I did almost everything with them. I don’t regret any of the time spent with my family… I do regret not having other interests. After my second divorce I found myself in a familiar situation, but this time I wanted to do things differently. But I didn’t really know how. I found myself drawn to people who had taken a different path in life. People who had other interests, a more rounded existence, and in a few cases women who had lived exactly the opposite of me. Women who had no children and had not been married. I wanted to understand how they looked at life. Was it different? How did they find meaning in life. The meaning in life for me had always been my family and friends. I found for many of them it was definitely their friends and for some their work. The ones who seemed happiest also were living very full lives. So I decided to give more of my focus to living a full life and less to recapturing what I had lost. I decided not to fill the hole in my soul with a replacement for what I had lost.

The more you put “all your eggs in one basket” the more susceptible you are to the hole in your soul becoming a beast if things go wrong. The key is to recognize areas of your life that are out of balance, and to not give up on things that have disappointed you in the past. Don’t let those things become unimportant to you just because you have not had success before. If you find yourself in a situation where your life is not only out of balance, but a loss has left you confused, unable to live a normal life… be sure to focus as much on the other parts of your life as on finding that new thing to replace the fill you lost! Get divorced… breakup with your girlfriend (or boyfriend) don’t just jump into a new relationship… focus on the rest of your life. If you don’t have a “rest of your life”, get one! Fill that hole in your soul with a full life and you’ll be able to regain your clarity, get back to a normal life, and you’ll be able to approach a new relationship with a much healthier attitude.

Sunset View from the house

You hear it all the time… just live in the moment!  That’s the key to happiness, lower stress, getting over past relationships, letting go of failure, etc.  It’s great advice for anyone enjoying a full life. For some this comes as easy as breathing. Unfortunately for me, and I think for a lot of people, it is a tough thing to do. This can be especially true when you are doing things you have done before. Other people may not think of running on the beach at sunset as an ordinary thing, but if you’ve done it dozens of times, it can take an effort to live even in that moment. However, it is an extraordinary thing and I want to make the effort to acknowledge it. What I’ve found is that it is hard to hold that feeling for the whole run, but I can absolutely take a brief pause, and really live in that moment.

The difference between living in the moment and living in a moment is the time you hold the sensation of now. To live in the moment means to let go of your cares, worries, and to take in the experience you are having right now. I’ve been there… it’s great! When I’ve been in the moment it is usually because the moment is so unusual, so engaging that it consumes all your attention. It takes no effort in these cases it just happens. Living in a moment tries to recreate that feeling for a brief moment rather than an extended time.

One of the great benefits of having lived in the moment is that you end up with strong, detailed memories of the experience. I love the feeling and the ability to recall all the details of an event or encounter. But I can’t just turn the feeling on at will. I can’t take myself there it just happens. However I’ve found that I can get to that place for there for a brief period of time – a moment!

Paused my run to enjoy a sunset

So, what does it take for me to get to that place? The first thing I do is get rid of the distractions. Stop planning, don’t think about the next thing you need to do, focus on what you’re doing right now. Let go of past failures, those lessons have been learned, what you need to know will come to you when you need it. I’ve found it helpful to think of this process as taking a mental vacation, because that’s what it is. Thinking, planning, worrying, experiencing regret are all work… there is a time to do that work but sometimes it is good to take a vacation from the mental grind!

Next, heighten your senses. Really experience the world around you, listen for things you normally just filter, birds, traffic, surf, wind in the trees… Do the same with your other senses, smell, touch, taste. Let in an innocent sense of wonder so you can appreciate all of these things as if you were experiencing them for the first time. Then hold on to that place as long as long as you can.

Enjoying a moment before heading up Bright Angel Trail Grand Canyon 2010

Not only is it possible to create a more lasting memory by living in a moment, it refreshes your soul, relaxes your body, dumps stress, and improves your mood. When you get back to what you were doing you continue to enjoy being more connected to the moment at least for a while. But eventually the thoughts and worries will return, but not quite as heavily as before.

So far I’ve been able to live in a moment fairly well when I’m alone, but not as well when I’m with other people.  I can focus completely on the people or I can zone out and take in my surroundings, but I have a hard time doing both.  This may be a “multitasking” issue, and humans in general don’t multitask well.  My time with others is very important to me, so I plan to at least try.   I imagine adding a strong focus on the people around me will be a key, focusing on them and the place at the same time.   However, this may be more difficult than it sounds.  A more likely way for this to happen may be to experience a comfortable silence with the people around me as we all take in the world around us, and share in the wonder of it.  Of course that can’t be done on demand… everyone has to get there at the same time on their own.

It would be great to be able to get into the now more on demand.  I will keep thinking about how to do this and try to make it more a part of my daily life.  I’m sure it will definitely be worth the effort.

Crowd watching the sunset Green Flash Concert 2012

This year, 2013, will be our third year with season passes to the Green Flash Concerts at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. In addition to supporting the Birch Aquarium, it is a great way to spend a summer “hump day”. The 3rd Wednesday of the month from May until September, Birch Aquarium transforms their tide pool area overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean into a stage and with the help of KPRI. The Green Flash concerts are all about great music, but they also have some tasty and healthy food, adult beverages, and the most spectacular view of any music venue in San Diego, or anywhere else I’ve been.

Bastards Green Flash 2012

The line-up for 2013 has a similar feel to past years, some new acts with current hits, some local Southern California groups to make us feel at home, and a couple acts I’ve never heard of but I’m sure I’ll enjoy… I always have. The year will kick off on May 15th with Bob Schneider and Alpha Rev. I like the sound of some of music Bob Schneider has on YouTube and I’m looking forward to seeing him live. I love the Alpha Rev song Sing Loud, great sound and lyrics.

On June 19th two powerful new women will be entertaining us, Vicci Martinez and ZZ Ward. Vicci Martinez will start the night off. She was on Season 1 of the voice, not one of the shows I watch regularly, but I like Vicci Martinez. Her song Come Along, which in a different version of Come Along song by Vicci Martinez and featuring The Voice coach Cee Lo Green is getting a lot of play time on the radio. The first time I heard ZZ Ward’s song Put the Gun Down on the radio I thought it might be Adele, it came out about the same time as her James Bond theme song. While ZZ Ward didn’t get the same recognition for this song, I like it’s raw sound more than the more “polished” and produced Skyfall.

On July 17th The Fixx, a British blast from the past, will rock us. Songs like Red Skies, Saved by Zero and One Thing Leads to Another were big hits in the late 70s and early 80s… big MTV hits.

A couple of Southern California acts will close out the year. Matt Costa , we have not seen before, but I like some of his music online. Steve Poltz we have seen several times and always enjoy both his music and his humor. (Update Jul 22 2013: Delta Rae was added to the August show, with Matt Costa. Won’t want to miss this one! Her new song with Lindsey Buckingham – If I Loved You, is terrific)

I’ll come back to this post throughout the year to add something for each show. If you’ve never been to one of these concerts and live in the area, I recommend checking them out. My guess for the best show of the year will be June 19th, but they should all be entertaining, and the venue is spectacular.

Update May 18 2013: We attended the first Green Flash concert of 2013 last Wednesday. The weather was overcast and there was no sunset, but it was still a beautiful view from our favorite location.

vercast but beautiful view from Birch Aquarium May 2013

Alpha Rev started the night out. The first thing we noticed, after 2 years of hanging by the stage was that the speakers were much louder than usual. Actually kind of hurt the ears. Maybe I’m getting old? Anyway, rather than move back, we moved a little forward past the front of the speakers and it was tolerable. We enjoyed Alpha Rev, but we were in for an expected treat when Bob Schneider came to the stage. I had heard the song 40 Dogs regularly on the radio, but I had not listened to his other stuff. He is a singer (great voice)… song writer (some sad, funny, irreverent, and eclectic stuff) and played solo for this show. With the help of his looping machine he was able to put together a very full sound when he wanted to with guitar, keyboard, and percussion. I’ve found some of his music on YouTube, a great example of one of his sadder songs Blow Me Back To You. What you don’t hear in this in version is the deep fullness of the lows in this song – live it was rumbling. I couldn’t find one of my favorites (made me laugh so hard my eyes watered), but here’s a good example of what I liked about his music: Trash. Finding new favorite music is a great reason to go to the Green Flash concerts.

Bob Schneider Green Flash May 2013

Update June 20 2013: The June 19th performance of the 2013 Green Flash Concert series got off to a fast start when Vicci Martinez came on stage. Here hit “Come Along with Me” is not her only terrific song, she has a great voice that came through very clear even when the rest of the music was blasting away.

Vicci Martinez blasting out a vocal

There were still some issues with the volume of the music. The volume was again in the painful range and the mid-ranges were completely distorted for both acts. We go to lots of concerts and have no problem with loud music, but this is affecting the quality of the sound. We plan to move back next time, but hopefully they will fix the issue.

The sun was extremely bright at the beginning of the performance it was a relief when it moved lower and I could watch the show without shielding my eyes. The pictures were easier to take too.

Vicci Martinez at the Green Flash Concert 19 June 2013

ZZ Ward started out with the song that first made me notice her on the radio, Put the Gun Down.

ZZ Ward singing Put the Gun Down at the Green Flash 2013

The sun started to set shortly after ZZ Ward started to sing. One of the best sunsets we’ve seen at a Green Flash Concert over the last 3 years.

Very Nice Sunset at the Green Flash Concert June 2013

I don’t know if anyone caught an actual green flash, but the conditions looked about right as the sun got lower.

A little early but the conditions look right for a Green Flash

Here’s another shot of ZZ Ward. Not hard to tell what she is about to sing… WooHooHoo… love that part of the song.

ZZ Ward has the WooHooHoos down pat

ZZ Ward has a ton of good music. My favorite song of the night was Charlie Ain’t Home.

We had a great time, but were partially deaf for an hour or so. Great night, and great music – definitely up for some more of that!

Update July 19 2013: We were a little later than usual getting to the July 17th performance of the 2013 Green Flash Concert series thanks to horrendous traffic getting out of Sorrento Valley. We decided to just relax and get there whenever. The first act Bushwalla was already started when we got there. The crowd seemed much bigger than the two sold out shows we had already been too in May and June. I have to admit that by the time we got our food, beer, and got settled in Bushwalla was done. There were new speakers inside though so we heard a few relaxed acoustic songs and at least one rap song… wish we had seen his act.

Our plan after two months of painfully loud and distorted music was to move to the back. However, the crowd had filled every nook and cranny.

View of the crowd, the ocean, and The Fixx at Birch Aquarium Green Flash Concert 17 July 2013

The only reasonable spot left was our regular spot right in front of the speaker. In fact a little closer than usual. Really too close to even see the whole band all at once.

The Fixx Green Flash Concert July 2013 laid back bass player

The Fixx still have all of their skills. They delivered the music like the old pros that they are. I was completely unfamiliar with the first 4-5 songs, but they were good and there were a lot of fans in the crowd that knew the words. I was surprised that my favorite song of the night was “One Thing Leads to Another”. The line “But when the wrong word goes in the right ear I know you’ve been lying to me” had more meaning to me this time than it didn’t back in 1983. There were no “lines that grabbed me” in the other hits. “Saved by Zero” still sounded like an 80’s MTV video hit to me. Their big finish song “Red Sky’s at Night” didn’t have any meaning to me, but it definitely is a cool song. The guitar in that song really makes it good for me.

The Fixx Green Flash Concert July 2013 classic lead guitarist player

I got a reasonable sunset picture too, the size of the crowd made it much harder to get a good angle, but I love the trees surrounding the tide pool area at the Birch Aquarium.

Sunset at Birch Aquarium 17 July 2013

And a pretty amazing shot of the moon with my little compact Nikon 9100.

Moon over the Birch Aquarium 17 July 2013

It was another fun summer evening at the Birch Aquarium. We’re looking forward to the other two concerts to come.

Update Aug 21 2013:The August lineup was a strong one. Due to the late announcement of the second act there was some confusion and maybe argument about who was the headliner. I enjoyed both acts so win-win.

Matt Costa Aug 2013 Green Flash Concert

Matt Costa’s music is eclectic with good lyrics. His song Good Times is his best know song, but he had several good tunes. He has a smooth steady voice and the band played a great set. Although I enjoyed the music, I have to admit to being distracted by the sun as it went behind some clouds…

Sun through the clouds Green Flash concert Aug 2013

and finally set.

Sunset August 2013 Green Flash Concert

Usually the sunset is at the beginning of the second act. This seemed to be part of the compromise on who was the headliner. Either way, it was another terrific sunset that blessed us!

Delta Rae has one of my current favorite songs on the radio… If I Loved You

Delta Rae at Aug 2013 Green Flash Concert at Birch Aquarium

I have to admit to being very surprised by this group. I expected one lead singer, the lead on If I Loved You, but there were absolutely 4 very talented lead singers in this group. Two brothers (Ian Hölljes, Eric Hölljes), a sister (Brittany Hölljes), and the lead on If I Loved You, Elizabeth Hopkins. My Wife liked the voice and vocals of Eric, on keyboard the best. Here’s one of his songs – Morning Comes. I have to admit he had a terrific voice, but I didn’t have a favorite. I loved them all, and well definitely be adding this group to my list of favorite bands! I look forward to more music from them and to seeing them play again. Be sure to check them out online!

Delta Rae - all great voices at Birch Aquarium Green Flash Aug 2013

Update Sep 21 2013:There were two local acts for the September’s Green Flash Concert. Pulling into the parking lot I knew there was a different kind of act, and a different crowd for tonight’s show. There were several groups of people tailgating! Great idea when you are getting ready to see Steve Poltz!

Paul Cannon September Green Flash Concert 2013 - Birch Aquarium

Paul Cannon opened the night. This was the second time we saw him, he opened for Matt Nathanson at the Green Flash Concert in July 2012. The first thing I noticed was he had flip flops on… this surprised me because he was barefoot last time. The flip flops were gone by the time he stepped up to play though! He has a very rich voice and I like his music. A very relaxing act to listen to as the sun sets over the Pacific (or at least appears to).

Faux Sunset 18 September 2013 Green Flash Concert Birch Aquarium

Next up was Steve Poltz. There was a bit of confusion on the introduction… Steve snuck up on stage early and introduced Madison (KPRI’s morning show host), to introduce him. His first song about Friends was my favorite of the night, it definitely struck a cord with me. He is a very talented musician, and a rare individual.

Steve Poltz with some help on 18 September at the Green Flash Concert Birch Aquarium.bmp

If you have never seen Steve, definitely check him out live. Be sure to do some tailgating first and hit the gym for at least a few weeks prior, you never know what you may need to hold over your head.

Steve Poltz crowd surfing at Green Flash Concert September 2013

Another season of Green Flash concerts in the books… we love these concerts. There are times when we feel a little rushed getting there on a Wednesday night, traffic may not always be the best, but once we get there it is “the best venue” I’ve ever been to! KPRI always has great music lined up, and the food and refreshments are terrific. This was our third year with season passes and I hope we decide to do this again next year.

Other Green Flash posts and more: Live Music Posts (Favorite Artists and Favorite Venues)

Mission Beach Run south parking lot sunset

I run for fitness, but also because it just feels awesome. When I do it often enough it feels like I could run forever with very little effort. I don’t always do it regularly though. When I tried to run more often a few years ago I had issues with tightness that led to frequent injuries after running. So I’ve added plenty of stretching my training plan. So far this has worked and since we got a jetted tub in our new house, my tightness and soreness has been almost completely under control. About a year ago I decided that I wanted to work up to being able to run a marathon. I’ve always wanted to run a marathon, when 40 passed me by I thought I had missed my opportunity, but I’ve found that with just a little more work (and care) I can do many of the things I did before I turned 40 even though I’m now over 50. At this point I don’t think I’ll need to think about slowing down until I pass 70. I guess we’ll see.

Favorite running spots in San Diego.

Mission Beach Sunset Run

Mission/Pacific Beach. I work in Point Loma so it is easy for me to do a Mission/Pacific Beach run before or after work. In the winter I prefer the evening as I’m able to see the sunset during my run. I have a 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10 mile course that are easy to remember here. If I add in Mission Bay I can make the run as long as I would like. I prefer to start at Mission Beach or Crown Point Park because there is less traffic to deal with on the way in and out, than Pacific Beach, and there is plenty of parking. I run from Belmont Park to the restrooms just past Grand Avenue and back for a 3+ mile run (actually around 3.15 miles). I continue to the end of the running path where the path meets Law Street/Ocean Blvd and back for a 4.25 mile run, and I add in the little stretch to the end of the beach and back to the Mission Beach.

Mission Beach Run at Sunset

View of Coronado Bridge from Harbor Area Seaport Village

The Harbor. The harbor is a flat run, like running at the beach, but the atmosphere is much different. I love the harbor because I sail there, have done a couple harbor cruise/concerts there, and there are lots of memories of walks, dinners, and events with friends and family to think about as I run there. The scenery is also great. Some of the best views of the San Diego skyline can be seen from Harbor Island. Running along the harbor is also nice because you don’t have to cross very many roads, and the sidewalks are wide and in good shape.

Running on Harbor Island March 2012

Lake Murray (actually part of Mission Trails Regional Park) – I also enjoy running at Lake Murray (or walking the dog). It is closer to home, so it is a good place for me to run on the weekends and later on summer evenings. The trail is wide and level, there are usually quite a few walkers/runners/bikers on the trail which makes it more interesting. I usually start by parking along Baltimore drive as it is closer to my house than the parking lot and faster. If you’ve never walked, bike, or ran at Lake Murray be aware that you can’t get all the way around the reservoir. There is a gate at the Dam and you have to turn around. If you run from the parking lot to the dam gate it is 3.2 miles one way. The full run will be useful as I get closer to running a half marathon, but I usually run between 3-5 miles when not training for a longer run.

Running at Lake Murray - La Mesa CA

Running at Lake Murray – La Mesa CA

Balboa Park. This is a great place to run, both because it is a peaceful and beautiful place, but also because it has both flat running areas and plenty of hills if you want them. I have run here several times, but need to make this a more regular running location!

Botanical Building and Lily Pond Balboa Park Dec 2012

Ocean Beach Bike trail. This trail starts at the Ocean Beach, dogs beach and will take you to the Mission Valley North road, by the time you reach that road you are at 6.25 miles and have only crossed one street. To that point it is flat, but it is easy to add a big hill to the run at that point by running up Bachman Place to Hillcrest, from there you can run back toward downtown and the harbor, or you can head further east and find your way to North Park. I like this route when training for San Diego area half marathons because they all seem to head up a hill similar to this at some point.

Near east end of Ocean Beach Bike Trail

Although I’ve been running for a few years in San Diego, I know I’ve just scratched the surface. I’m looking forward to finding more terrific places to run. Coronado and Mission Trails Regional Park are a couple places I would like to run through/around. If I run out of ideas I can always go to MapMyRun.com, there are over 2000 routes (some may be nearly the same) listed for San Diego. Pick an area and see the routes for that area. I looked today and found an interesting route that appears to go by many of the museums and attractions in Balboa Park. I need to add that area to my, “on the way home” run list.

Other posts and pages on running.

My Training Log for the Marine Corps Marathon 2013
My Post in the Running Category