Jai Seed

I am so proud of my wife. An artist extraordinaire, she defies labels. Painter, photographer, sculptor, musician, yogi, healer, mother, wife, and on and on.

So I wanted to take a moment of departure from my typical posts to share with you her new website JAI SEED, which we launched this week.

In particular, please visit the PHOTOGRAPHS. This is her new collection of gigantic tree photographs, entitled SEED TREES. They are all high-resolution digital format, colorized in photoshop, printed on metalicized paper and mounted to glossy plexi-glass atop a 2” aluminum box framing. The high gloss accentuates the vibrant colors of the print and adds an additional dimension of room reflection from the people, furniture and media in the space.

All SEED TREES are large format -- up to six feet in height -- and great for large walls. But even the images don't do them justice. We have a couple in our home and one in my office, and they are truly striking and beautiful.

We are in the process of putting together a gallery show in the LA area, so I will keep you posted on details.

I hope you enjoy them! If you want more information on the images, including prices, etc., you can contact me, or e-mail Julie at jailifestyle@aol.com

Thanks to Joe & Vicky Curtis for doing such an amazing job on the site -- in and of itself a work of art. If you like the site design, check out Joe & Vicky's work at CURTIS & COMPANY. They are amazing.

Being Here NOW

Once again, I've been off radar, but not because nothing's going on. In fact, alot is happening, which has left me with so little time to even reflect, let alone blog. But with Spring in the air, I am ready to share.

In truth, things have been pretty tough lately. The economic landslide has taken its toll on me, my professional life and my family and I have been forced to focus in a way I never have. Pure survival. With 4 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cars and my dreamhouse, my overhead is huge, and its all I can do to just try to keep the machine moving forward without my head exploding in fear. Its been a struggle just to get the mortgage paid, and the unpaid bills keep stacking up. Business is OK, but its growth has been stifled. And the location shoots we generally hosted at least 1-2x month on average over the last 5 years have virtually evaporated with the steep decline in the advertising and production industries.

Its an understatement to say that the pressure is on. My anxiety level is high. Very high.

And yet my wife and I have never been more in love. I am so grateful that the crucible has brought our family closer, as I know it so easily could tear us apart. Were in it together. Not just my wife and I, but the kids too. Everyone pitching in to help, getting creative. Coming together to solve our common problems.

I came across the above photo today and it really reminded me how much I love my family. The picture was taken before my 2 little girls were born, when we were in the middle of building our house. For 7 months we lived in a 22' Airstream trailer and a Tepee. Yes, a true to life Souix Tepee. It had its romances, but it was also challenging. It was winter (LA winter, but still cold); a very rainy winter. Our "campsite" was down a hill from the construction site and I remember nights when we would run out of propane in the middle of the night. Or mornings when it was so muddy we couldn't get the VW Bug up the hill. We kept our laundry in the car. We lived like vagabonds. But it was wonderful. We were in love and we were building a house. It was a great time. And just looking at the picture says it all. Takes me right to what is really important when that fear creeps in. And it definitely creeps in.

As the patriarch of my brood, I battle feelings of emasculation. I NEED to solve this problem for them. Its up to me t make it right. Believe me, it keeps me up at night. I have what we call in AA, "self-will run riot". The idea that if I just apply my will to the situation and barrelforward, I can solve all these problems and everything will be OK. I can work harder. Work later. Pull all nighters. That sort of thing.

But what I have learned in sobriety (but mostly from my wife) is that this is not the solution. In fact, it is counter-productive. I am not in control. There are things I can do, sure. But it is incumbent upon me to identify what I can control and what I can't. And for those things I can't, I need to let go. Surrender. Because God is my employer.

The same thing applies to training. And its why so many endurance athletes overtrain. The idea being to just work harder than everyone else. Push the limit, day in day out. And any experienced endurance athlete will tell you this is a recipe for disaster. For injury. For burnout.

It would be elementary to conclude that I need to table my training for now and focus on "real life". But I also know that the experience of training -- for me -- is crucial to maintaining my presence of mind. And without this, I lack the tools to properly function.

Balance. Temperance. This is the key. Not just in training, but in life. And for me, it is really the event horizon -- something I am not good at. Something that takes alot of work on my part every day.

I worked till midnight last night, the woke up with what my mom always called "racing mind" -- its that thing that keeps you up at night. Worries about what might happen. Or what if I did this instead. But I know all too well the woes in living in the past or obsessing about a future that hasn't happened yet. My job is to stay present. Do what is in front of me. And most importantly, to be balanced.

So despite every inclination that I needed to race into work and grind out a solution founded in my self-will, I did the opposite. I went on a ride. It was a beautiful morning in the Santa Monica Mountains and as I climbed Topanga, I realized that this is what grounds me. What keeps me in the "moment". Present. And its this presence of mind, body and soul that is the greatest weapon in my arsenal of taking on the rigors of daily life.

And yet at the moment of this realization, I quickly forget. I'm dumb that way. I need to be constantly reminded, vigilant when it comes to the idea of what my favorite yogi Bhagavan Das (he married Julie and I) coined "Be Here Now" or what my main man Eckhart Tolle calls "The Now". That odd spiritual equation that contravenes every obsessive fiber of my body to live anywhere but here.

I don't know where I'm going with this other than to say that the more present I can be, the more productive I am. When I look at my children, I see that rare ability to just be in the moment. And its in that place -- and only that place -- where true joy and happiness can reside. When I see that twinkle in their eyes, it is the most potent reminder of what is truly important in life.

For me, the only way to embody some semblance of Now is to be on my bike, tackling a tough climb. Out on a remote trail, running in solace, at one with nature. In the ocean, swimming along with the tides. Or maybe just a moment of meditative silence during the work day.

It doesn't come easy, but when it does, I experience a happiness that that is otherwise rare for me. And this -- this is why I love endurance sports. Its not the racing. Don't get me wrong, I love that. But its the daily experience of presence that the training brings. Its truly a spiritual practice, and for this I am forever grateful.

Gold Medal Mel Interview on SwimNetwork.com

Check out Gold Medal Mel's interview with me on SwimNetwork.com, competitive swimming's "go-to" web source for all things swimming. The site recently began airing Mel's great work, which is great for Mel, but even better for swimming. He is a great example of service to others and to something he loves, which in my opinion the only real reason we're here on Earth. To help others. In any event, Mel is a huge inspiration to me personally and someone I look up to and aspire to emulate in some small personal way.

Since this piece went live on SwimNewtork.com yesterday, I have been inundated with so many very cool e-mails and Facebook messages from people from all walks of life who watched the interview and visited the blog. I am so grateful for all the kind words, and especially to Mel, who has been a good friend and huge support.

What is most gratifying is this slowly growing notion that somehow, in some way I am inspiring people. Believe me, this is a huge surprise. I chose to change my life and pursue something that made me happy. Along the way I changed my life and decided to write a little bit about it. To share some insights from the journey, mostly for my friends and family. In truth, I thought I was being selfish. Training for something like Ultraman commands an unreal level of dedication that took more time away from my friends and family than I care to admit.

But what I did not originally realize, and what is only now becoming more clear, is that I have a small but slowly growing platform that is creating the opportunity for me to help others. Over the last 6 months I have been blessed with so many new and great people coming into my life as a result of my Ultraman adventure. People who have read the blog, the interviews, etc. People that are inspired and looking to grow in new ways outside their comfort zone.

In these difficult economic times, I have taken pause to consider my path. To ponder what is truly important. And what has become clear is that I love being of service to others. This notion has taken firm hold and I have become energized to divine an organized way to expand my love of not only endurance sports, but of a healthy holistic lifestyle. In short, I know I'm here on Earth to help others. But now I have a clear idea of just how I can help. Whether its just to share a bit of nutrition insight, help someone lose weight, change their diet & get back in shape a bit or even to tackle something like Ultraman, consider me an open door resource.

I'm nobody special. Just an average family guy. I'm not a doctor, a nutritionist or a professional athlete. But I have learned a lot in the last two years and am committed to helping others discover their own innate potential. To discover the value of overcoming our own internally set limitations. To expand -- not just athletically, but mentally and spiritually.

I hope you join me along the way.

Gordo Byrne -- Change Your World

Gordo Byrne is a stud. He inspires me in so many ways. To be a better athlete, yes of course. But even more, his blog provides a wealth of fantastic insights into not only multisport training, but on issues ranging from nutrition, family, balance and business.

Gordo went from "average joe" (see the "before" Gordo pic, below if you don't believe me) to Ultraman Champion in 2002. He is an incredible athlete, with a slew of amazing ironman and endurance accomplishments, but what I find unique about him is his holistic approach to life as a very well rounded, mature and insightful person. A realistic approach to balancing family lives and economic concerns against a passion for athletic prowess and the outdoor active lifestyle.

If you haven't already, check out his website Endurance Corner, as well as his blog. In addition, you can subscribe to his Endurance Corner podcast on iTunes, where he shares tremendous wisdom and insight, as well as compelling interviews with some of multipsort's elite.

Totally Inspired -- Shepard & Lance

He started with those ubiquitous Andre The Giant Posters, which morphed into the omnipresent "Obey" movement. I recall living in NYC in the early 90's, and you couldn't walk a block without seeing the graphic pop art of Shepard Fairey -- from small painted reliefs adorning the sidewalks and kiosks to massive paintings covering entire buildings in SoHo -- and wondering, "What is this all about? Who is responsible for this art?" Yet he seemed to fly anonymous. A mysterious dark knight of high graphic art, with all of NYC as his canvas.

His images became a brand. An industry into themselves. But it wasn't until recently that this amazing artist was thrust into the mainstream with arguably one of the most iconic images of our generation, our time, our country -- the Obama "HOPE" image.

And now he's done it again -- these huge murals of Lance adorn the intersection of Hollywood and Vine and take the movement of Obama hope one step further in inspiration.

There is just something about Sheaprd Fairey's art that strikes a deep, resonant populist chord. Maybe its the thinly veiled inversion of its propaganda art ancestry. The converse of the communist era Lenin posters, or cold-war era of Soviet propaganda, his images subvert traditional notions of propaganda, infusing them with a post-modern message to lift a democratic people in these difficult times -- images of hope, change, courage, defiance and action. Messages which transcend politics or partisan idealogy. A transfixing call to action aimed at a country desperately in need of a main line infusion of positivity and change.

They are evocative, provactive and lingering. Once you seem them, you simply cannot remove the image from your mind.

And personally, I am thrilled with the Lance murals now gracing my city. We need this. We need to heed the words of our new Commander in Chief who is demanding not that we go out and "spend" (as his predecessor urged), nor that we "trust government" to take care of things. Rather, he is demanding that everyone must sacrifice. That our problems will be solved only with a collective movement. A movement not only of "hope", but one that requires, as Lance so fully embodies and as so artfully articulated by our President, of "defiance" -- defiance not only of the norm, traditional modes of status quo, or of partisan divides -- but defiance of the limits other people put on ourselves. And the limits we perceive within ourselves. Defiance, coupled with the unifying message of "courage" that is empty without "action". Powerful stuff.

Thank you Shepard. Thank you President Obama. And thank you Lance.

And so, I am inspired. Inspired to better embody these themes, this "ethos" into my personal life. Through my approach to work, my own financial crucible, my relationships with others. Through my quest to promote plant-based nutrition for athletes and the general public. Through my approach to training and racing. But most importantly, through the limits other people place on me, and more importantly I put on myself.

Yesterday I was out on a ride with my coach Chris Hauth and the crew. A beautiful morning, we headed up PCH, then turned to tackle Malibu's Latigo Canyon, a long challenging ascent very popular with the local cycling crowd. My time off showed. I was not up to form. I was getting dropped. It was awesome, because it really gave me the wake up call I needed to re-focus and begin applying myself. I can't wait to start anew.

And to boot? I found out after we crested that Lance himself was several minutes behind us, tackling the same climb. On the same morning. Unfortunately I never saw him. But my disappointment was eclipsed by the simple and deeply felt knowledge that I was where I was supposed to be. Or at least in the general vicinity.