Creating Conditions

I’ve decided the New Year will start on February 1st. January is a trial month. 

Its halfway thru January. Perhaps you’re already a bit disheveled. Perhaps you had resolutions that you’re struggling with. Perhaps you have never even caught your breath from the holidays let alone thought about any of those frigging resolutions. Maybe you have a cold, car broke down, furnace went out, work is overwhelming, bills are coming in. It could be you’ve been around the block enough times that the whole January hype has left you a bit jaded or at least uninterested.

Honestly this is less than a ideal set of circumstances or approach for anyone with aspirations of  accomplishment, personal evolution, let alone significant transformation. Cards are stacked against one from the get go. What fool came up with this anyway? Its like starting the semester with finals week. WT… I suspect a government conspiracy! For those that are still holding course for any intentions they had for the New Year my hat is off to you.

There actually are people who are moving right along, unfazed by any of the challenges above, already accomplishing their goals and with a flourishing life on their terms. You’ve perhaps even met some. Don’t hate on them. They simply were taught or figured out the strategy and tactics of how to do it. What they have to their advantage is momentum and a practice of living a life that fosters this ability to flourish. Jan 1st has little meaning to them. They might have begun 7 years ago on March 11th or September 7th or been this way since a youth.  This isn’t to say engaging some changes or starting after goals in Jan is a bad thing just that such a arbitrary point on the calendar is no more significant than what we make it.

• Creating conditions. In Zen there is the understanding that for good things to occur the conditions in which they are to occur must be established foremost. The odds are against a garden thriving if you just throw a punch of seeds out on to the hard packed ground without first tending to the health and condition of soil. Clearing away the weeds, tilling it if necessary, bringing in some compost. What I repeatedly observe are people, full of hope and finite will power, futilely tossing seeds out on to hard packed ground of their lives that at best sprout but a little before they die. There is little to no foundation, conditions generated, or preparation. Who can do all that right in the middle of the preceding holidays? A time when every descent discipline is challenged already by temptations and demands. (and I’m not against relaxing discipline and letting lose now and then – in fact I’d say that is a healthy part of a larger discipline). So include the time now to work your space, remove the clutter, get those nagging left overs on the do it list done, set up supports, foster a enabling environment for what you have in mind.

• Incremental steps. As integral to their larger narrative, people who live well, meaningful, successful lives, cultivate a life giving discipline that is edifying rather than punitive. There are times when it is valuable, even necessary to go yang, but in the day to day flow, development is paced with a doable, manageable, and appropriate challenging volume and intensity. You don’t go from a sedentary life to 100 mile weeks right out the door if  you intend to run a marathon this year. Nor is it prudent, this side of a incredible support system,  to immediately take on learning a foreign language, piano lessons, meditate 2 hours a day, take a class on french cooking, and lose ten pounds a week (especially with that french cooking class at the same time) . A longer view in those directions mindfully paced out in daily life is the key. Such a discipline will foster both fortitude and a state of flow where things happen more readily with less resistance from existence.

• Natural patterns. Of the two, sailing rather than rowing across the ocean is going to be the far more effective, efficient, and sustainable choice. To work with natural developed energies rather than against. If you have intentions to change things up, accomplish goals, or have a vision of the kind of person you want to be in a few months, a year,  or a decade ahead the surest way of making it so is by giving attention to the conditions, the environment, and the support systems that will enable this. Coming up with a resolution 8PM on New Years Eve just isn’t going to cut it for very long. Secondly you will have more success if you take those consistent sustainable liberating disciplined steps that build on each other in a way that excites you rather than defeats you, and in such a way that you are not merely doing, you are becoming the kind of person that such flows from naturally.  You don’t do martial arts, you are a martial artist; you don’t go running, you are a runner; you don’t play guitar you are a guitarist; you don’t go to school you are a scholar; you don’t go on a diet you embody a fitness lifestyle. In doing so you might even find yourself advancing towards your dreams quicker than you anticipated, such is the nature of this simple daily obedience in a long direction.

So yes by all means, utilize all of January (and February too if needed) to assess, to plan, to set in place, to create the conditions where by you can engage the rest of the year with enthusiasm , accomplishment, and enjoyment.. gezzzz for all that is sacred and precious in this verse make sure enjoyment and meaningful moments are in your intentions and practice.





You don’t ‘feel like it’, you are ‘not in the mood’, you ‘don’t want to’ … but yet down inside you envision and hope and dream for not only things to be different but for you yourself to be different. I’m going to tell you something. If your pattern is to wait until you feel like it its never going to really happen. There where be moments where you ride the wave but they will be fleeting. Happiness, energy, productivity, fitness, creativity, accomplishment, love making, adventure – whatever goals and attributes of life and identity you want to happen, that you want to become will not occur if behavior does not come first. First you perceive (create a vision in your mind) then you behave (act) and then you will become. As Scott Sonnon rightly said ” We don’t merely behave how we feel; we feel how we behave: it’s a two-way biochemical street. No matter how you may feel right now, act how you wish you felt and create the state-change though the doing.” Act, the mood will take care of itself. Why let something like ‘mood’ dictate your life in the first place? You want more energy-get off the sofa and move. You want to be a writer, write. You want be kinder, show kindness to others with you feel like it or not. You want to be strong grab that kettle-bell. You want to have a better love life with your partner, will you get the idea. Mood follows action. Action creates. Thoughts might show you the door but it is action which gets you out there.
Perceive BEHAVE Become.


My own little op ed…
Interesting observation the past month…not counting my own life long inclinations towards minimalism and a touch ludditism (more of a appreciation for simple ingenious tools than a hate of anything) I’ve encountered a significant number of people across various demographics who profess a desire to scale back and even eliminate a lot of the ‘matrix tools’ as I call them. This includes not only retreating from online social media but ousting their TV’s and video game consoles, going back to basic cell phones and in several cases canceling cell service for old landline phones-even tracking down rotary phones (yes they are still out there), canceling internet at home and even selling off any computers they have, content with using one at the public library when desired. Also in more than one case they express or are even in the process of selling houses for something smaller – out of the suburbs or city bustle if possible, getting rid of vehicles, and a general jettisoning of material possessions. Some of these people have a professional background, others don’t, some have an adequate income some don’t, some are highly educated some not. Some of them have admittedly, like myself, had a life long appreciation for minimalism but for others this orientation is a paradigm shift and they are not sure where or why it has come.
I think it says something about a shift in values, about a shift away from some aspect of daily operation that deletes qualities of being alive in a poor trade off for some hooked up plugged in alluring candy. I am starting to wonder if perhaps this is not so random but a larger social trend across a wide spectrum of society? Not that we are all going to go join the amish but perhaps the dazzle of the past 15 -20 years is impressing us less and we are coming out of the spell it has had on us. I don’t think it is a mere nostalgia for things of the past or a retreat to the what was or some imagined simpler time. I think for some of us of a age that can be a factor but many who are recalibrating their lifestyles are too young for such a recollection. I guess if when I next visit the local library I find some twenty somethings sitting around reading the likes of of Wendell Berry out of a real book I’ll have my confirmation… and probably a quiet smile.

Back by Popular Demand

A beautiful New Year to all High Mesa Fitness® students and friends.

I am here to announce the return of the High Mesa W.O.W (workout of the week). Several of you have recently made the request and I’d like to honor it.
To make this a viable service I will need have at least 10 people sign up with a commitment of at least 2 months. The cost will be 25.00 per month, to paid via paypal for the time being.

As per the past, all subscribers will receive a workout flow the beginning of each week to implement as their weekly training for whatever the fitness goals they have, or as a compliment to other training they might be doing. It stands alone or in harmony with other modes of exercise. For instance you might be enjoying the slopes a lot this winter, or getting reading for a spring 1/2 marathon, or maybe have returned to the dojo. Either way one will want some solid trusted conditioning to construct a rock hard foundation.

The base of each weeks workout will be body weight training, a.k.a calisthenics, but might also include kettle bells, clubs, rings, medicine balls, or other props. Along the way I will make suggestions of gear you should have access to either in a gym or at home… and honestly I feel a home based gym always the best. Not that I don’t like a good ol classic iron dojo. Other modes of training will be incorporated include moving in outdoors, in nature, with a bow to Bush Parkour®, Mobility training (joint mobility and haha yoga), and ‘natural gymnastics’. This is all focused with cultivating a love of movement and even play, while engage in exertion and purifying perspiration – a true holy water.

Each weeks flow will have adjustments for what ever level is most appropriate for you. This is not merely for one demographic. We are all on this path together.

Two new aspects that will be added are a upgraded delivery format rather a plain email, and video tutoring.

Anticipated launch date is set for Feb 1st.

To sign up send a email to . Subject line W.O.W. 2016 . Simply say “YES’ in the message. Questions are of course welcomed.

I look forward to hearing from you and envision a magnificent year for all of us with robust vigor, health, and peace.

In strength and courage,
Coach Joe Sheader


I have no doubt that to live a flourishing life one must live simply, yet instead we complicate it sometimes to the point of fubar. We over involve ourselves, fall prey to the glut and marketing of greed, generate or at least participate in drama, give way to our reptilian id over good sense and virtue, busy ourselves with the trivial, neglect the value and wisdom of sweeping the floor, chopping wood, carrying water, running a trail; we let, yes let if not outright invite every little snowflake to ruffle our feathers to the point that being uptight is our modus operandi; feed and rehearse the fear of what doesn’t matter over the practice of what does. Living a life in which you flourish is honestly not that difficult, you only make it so. You still have a choice, every day, every breath. Everyone of us has this choice, whatever our station or predicament in life is.

Flowing across earthscape

Yes the correlation to autumn and running is strong. I think it goes down deep, primal deep.

For me no matter the season running is not really about heart rate or calories or PR’s or so many other such concerns. Honestly a lot of that is fairly trivial to me and was even when I was racing on the elite stages.
Running was and is more about sage, sky, and greeting the sun.

Though and perhaps because I am a naturalist this thought from Mills resonates.

“Your life is a gift from the Creator. Your gift back to the Creator is what you do with your life.”
-Billy Mills; Lakota, 1964 Olympic 10,000 meter champion

Recently while running among the mesa tops and canyons of my homeland I was reminded of a period in which a great deal of my running experience was shared with Turtle Island native companions. They were primarily from the tribes of the Southwest; Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and those of the Pueblo’s, Ute, yet also Lakota and others.

To breathe across the landscape with these runners was a different experience than with others. It was far more quiet, little talking and no heavy feet landing; we moved akin to breeze across the high desert scape of sage and sand; the awareness of sky, of desert cottontail, of raven or hawk in the sky was sharper and of more value than heart rate, gps, what a watch said, and certainly nothing as intrusive as a iPod.

One learns not only about a deeper way to run in such company but about being abundantly alive as well. For these men and women running was not a mere activity they might have been introduced to in school track. It was part of their cultures, their way of being, their spiritual practice. Many of them were introduced to running by their grandfathers as a proper way to be at one with the earth at their feet and the sky above. Running was survival. Running was the hallmark of a Brave. Running was not mere sport or exercise, but was and remains a sacrament of sorts.

I can tell you this; running with the ‘chi’ or flow is nothing new. It was known, taught, and expressed way before a book came out on it. Indeed the practice, techniques, and other ‘secrets’ have been with these peoples for thousands of years and remain so.
Take a look at the cover of the book INDIAN RUNNING by Peter Nabokov (see Those three young warriors were three of the very same that often took me with them across the sagebrush and pinyon-juniper.

There is no doubt that there exists within the native peoples of Turtle Island the talent to rival any endurance or long distance running tradition in the world, including the African nations. If we as a society enabled these outstanding talents as we do young kids yearning to be NFL Quarterbacks this would be witnessed. Yet I digress. For now, I encourage you on your next run (or hike) to leave behind the gadgets and instead move with open senses, quiet breath, soft feet, and the joy of the earth and sky around you…see if you can catch and thereby some deep part of you remember, just a little of what our native brothers and sisters have always known.

Photo.. a scene from my own running grounds…

Pollock Bench 162

This is why

This is why..
“that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being”
Why I train, why I run the crazy trails, rumble with my huskies, shoot my bow, sweat pools across my mat, climb rock and tree, throw iron around, pound the heavy bag, repeat my jabs and kicks hundreds of times, scamper thru the wilds, eat hot chile and drink great beer, make wild love, strum my guitar, shoot across undulating frozen landscapes on dogsled or skis, gaze at the stars stunned…
Simply lining up the outside with what’s on the inside.
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That’s what it’s all finally about, and that’s what these clues help us to find within ourselves …
“Experience of life. The mind has to do with meaning. What’s the meaning of a flower? … There’s no meaning. What’s the meaning of the universe? What’s the meaning of a flea? It’s just there. That’s it. And your own meaning is that you’re there. We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture associated with being alive, is what it’s all about.”
from Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, Episode 1