A week ago I ran 60km in one go, with a great man. I was definitely physically underprepared, but I learned that I had unknowingly been mentally preparing for something like this my whole life.
The run was for Many Miles For Mary, a yearly run that is done by Jamie Milne. Jamie is a friend of mine that has done many extraordinary feats of endurance over the years in memoriam of his Grandmother Mary. For 2016, Jamie is running from my office in Albert Park, Vic, to his gym, Jamie Milne Training, on the Sunshine Coast, QLD, that’s 80km a day, every day for about 18 days… And yes, that is insane.
Jamie is an absolute superstar of a human. It was one of the great pleasures of the experience to just spend a bit of time talking about all things life. Obviously we had many hours to just chew the fat while pounding the pavement… Jamie’s running involves considerably less pounding than mine, as I lumbered my way through the first 40kms into a headwind, Jamie’s indefatigable steps just chewed up the kilometres.
I learned that you can just run through cramping. I know this because I started cramping about 16kms in. Yep, with 44kms to go, my legs decided to betray me.
Cramps will move around your legs though, you can’t run right through them, but you can walk them out until you get to a point where you can run again. It goes something like, run – cramp – run – cramp – stop running – tin man walk with stiff cramped legs– transition into chafe walk (kind of like a waddle) – transition into regular walking – run again –repeat.
I learned that you can run for miles out of Melbourne on one road (Brunswick St. if you’re wondering just keeps going forever apparently).
I didn’t train for this properly. When I committed to running the 60kms, I thought I would get my training done alright. With plenty of lifetime miles in the legs, I figured training for an Ultramarathon would be like any other kind of training. Except this time, I didn’t do it. Work was busy, I was travelling a lot and I went through a period of illness with express instructions from the doctor to do nothing…. I of course, did something, which prolonged my illness, because I am both stubborn and busy.
Jamie had an interrupted prep too. Originally slated to only run 60kms a day, Jamie ended up committing to an unprecedented 80kms a day in order to cover more distance in a shorter period of time. Even with his experience in running long distances and world record attempts, Jamie runs a business as well, and has never even attempted this distance in total, or each day!
We talked about the way you are shaped in your early life, how the people around you shape your views of the world, and the ways in which we have both come to have similar views on many things. In the words of Jamie’s grandmother Mary, “Be Nice, but don’t take any shit”, a lesson he learnt early on, and one I picked up along the way too.
Neither of us have flawless upbringings, but not many people do. Good decisions, bad decisions, tough times, good times, it all shapes the men we aspire to be each day. There is no settling, Jamie’s sights were set on the next challenge 30kms into this one. Finding your gift and making the most of that for the benefit of others, it’s what drives Jamie, and keeps him constantly improving and refining his message.
We both struggle with meditation. Two busy minds, with a lot going on, we seek distraction rather than silence. We both find it hard to just stop and enjoy silence, or to seek a still and quiet mind. Rather we both seek distraction.
Jamie runs, not fast, but he runs. Running is something to do, to take his mind off the myriad of other things that go running through his mind every day. I too, am constantly seeking distraction rather than silence. From exercise, to daydreaming about having super-powers until I fall asleep at night. Cut from the same cloth in that regard, we chatted our way through the miles. Singing songs, making jokes and eating slice made by the mother of one of the support crew, which 20kms in, tasted like the best thing I’ve ever had.
I learned more about the head game. It’s a big thing for some people. When will your brain tell you to stop? When it hurts? When you are tired? When you get to the end? When you get close to the end? Will your head just hold up the whole time while your body gives up on you?
Your body is a funny thing. The same reflex that tells your bladder to relax about 10m from the toilet can kick in and tell you that you are exhausted when you are near the finish line. You can see the end, and all of a sudden, your body just starts to ache.
To run 80km a day, Jamie has to have outrageous mental fortitude. Driven by something bigger than himself, driven by the memory of his grandmother and the lives that he can impact by actually pushing himself to do something more than he’d ever done before.
We can’t forget though, that mental strength is tied to, in part, physical endurance. For many years the only time I shed any tears were after football games, when I was physically depleted. Physical exhaustion can weaken your defences and let in the doubt, pain and emotion of things long since suppressed. Jamie will deal with these on a daily basis, and so far has beaten them all away. Getting up each morning to kick on with the goal.
A week later, (I only ran one day), and my body is feeling better now. Some residual soreness from being a big lump of a potato, and some strain on my foot which is annoying, but otherwise, I am feeling pretty good. Jamie has run every day since, racking up 20 marathons in 10 days. I couldn’t walk on my feet after one day, and Jamie outran me by 20kms before backing it up the next day, and the 8 days after that.
I learned that from the waist up, I could run a long way. I never doubted that I would finish the 60km. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but my whole life has been all about one foot after another, just chewing up the miles and getting the work done. Not always in spectacular fashion, but always getting it done.
It was re-affirmed to me as well that those who give the most, always continue to give the most. Jamie has already put his body on the line for a good cause more times than most people will ever consider doing. The support crew is full of people who spend much of their time helping others, teaching, assisting and encouraging people not just during this run, but in their everyday lives.
I learned again what it is to be a doer. These guys are doers. They are running, they are contributing and working for others. Raising money and awareness for the Alzheimers Foundation. Sacrificing their time, their money and even their bodies for a cause that means something to people who can’t help themselves. Jamie’s gift is the ability to run and the ability to speak and inspire people to get on board a journey that is bigger than 80kms a day. I learned once again, a lesson that I have learned many times in my life. That we don’t all need to run the whole way ourselves, that we can run with others and support people who have big vision and the skill and aptitude to get things done.
I’m glad to have been a small part of the process, and to kick off this run. Not many people will experience running into a small crowd of open arms, in the middle of Victoria, after running an ultramarathon distance. I encourage everyone to jump on board and give Jamie and the crew a pat on the back, a word of encouragement and even a couple of bucks.
Big love to Jamie, big love to Mary for moulding such a fine man, and massive thanks to the support crew and everyone who has gotten on board supporting this legend.
As Always, Just Be Nice.
Many Miles For Mary Facebook Page
EveryDay Hero Fundraising Page
Before someone gets started, white privilege is a thing. It just is. It affords those of us fortunate to be born white (and for people like me, straight and male) with better educational opportunities, better jobs, better pay, longer life expectancies and a million other advantages.
On the flipside of privilege, there is disadvantage. Disadvantage for those of different skin colours, different religious affiliations, low socio-economic background, different gender and different sexual orientation, among many other things.
I am the beneficiary of many privileges courtesy of the ovarian lottery that gave me a skin colour, sexual orientation and sex that is preferable in the society I live in. I had no choice in any of these things, but I have and will continue to have, many advantages over those who were born with different characteristics.
One privilege that we (and by me, I mean others who won the ovarian lottery alongside me), need to give up, is the privilege to say “Because I did it, you can do it too” or to say “Because I have seen someone from a different background achieve success, so everyone from that background should forfeit their right to complain.”
Disadvantage occurs at the starting line of life, comparing the finish lines of success between those of privilege and those of disadvantage is giving false positives to the opportunities available to those who experience disadvantage.
The path to outrageous success is paved with hard work. There is little doubt that to achieve great things and have success, even as a white, heterosexual man, you need to work hard.
We desperately need to acknowledge however, that the paths look very different.
My path to success, is wider, there are cracks, but they are manageable, there are hills, but I can get up them with a bit of grit and focus, there is room for me, and those like me to walk beside each other and help each other along. It’s not necessarily an easy path, but it is one that has been carved out by generations of white privilege before me, and is well trodden. Guidelines are available at certain points, as well as maps. We have seen plenty of examples of people like us going forward ahead of us, and we know what to expect. The people we meet along the way have opportunity to help us, and some are inclined to help us get to the pinnacle of success.
Some of us, despite our privilege will stop en-route to the top. Happy with being high enough, happy with having walked far enough. There are plenty of places to stop along the way, while still being comfortable and supported. We have peers lining the path at every level of success, to join us and help us find a space wherever we may decide to stay. If we decide down the track to make our way up a bit further, the wide, well-trodden path affords us this opportunity.
The path to success for those of disadvantage looks very different. It is narrow. It is not well trodden, often there are no maps, and very few people to help along the way. There are many, many opportunities to fall, and often it runs under the paths of the privileged who intentionally and unintentionally dislodge rocks to fall onto the paths of those below them. You start from further away, and often take the toughest routes to the top. Sometimes you do it without shoes, without ropes, without jackets and without food. The path to the top for those at a disadvantage looks very, very different. There aren’t lots of places to stop, and settle down. If you don’t make it to a certain point, your only option is to head back down, if you do make it to a point where you might like to settle, on your way to the top, there may not be much room. You might not have any company. You might be isolated, on your own, a community of one.
The top of the mountain, the point of success, looks much the same for everyone. Those of us with privilege need to recognize the path well-trodden as being that, well-trodden. It is still work. It still takes time and effort to get to the top, but realise the path to the top for a person like me, looks a lot different to a female, indigenous, lesbian woman in Australia.
This is the privilege we need to acknowledge. We don’t need to look to the top for examples of equality and opportunity, we need to look to the paths. We don’t need to look at individual success as the measure of equality, but at the opportunities afforded to others from the same situations.
Standing at the top, we could probably find some kind of representation from every walk of life. There are women, people of colour, people of different ethnicities, religious affiliations, socio-economic backgrounds and levels of education, but there are far less of them.
Looking to the paths that got as all there, we will see nothing but outrageous disparity. The width, quality, difficulty and availability of the different paths to the top are the reason why we need to acknowledge our privilege.
There are log jams at the top, where limited spaces for women prevent others from getting to the top. There are log jams at various stages of the climb where indigenous Australians are stuck because they cannot read and write. People are jammed at the very beginning, where refugees aren’t even able to get onto any path at all because we have them, men women and children, locked up in detention.
The most dangerous execution of this belief of the privileged is to make the path MORE difficult for those of disadvantage. For example, shaming individuals on welfare, claiming they are all ‘bludgers’ and threatening to take away support, rather than add more, is akin to removing their shoes and jackets, and driving them further from the starting line, all while demanding they get closer to the pinnacles of success and self-reliance. We lock people into unsupported communities and wonder why they feel and act isolated. We allow talk of suspending the rights of people of certain religions, forcing them onto different, more difficult paths, then demand that they don’t complain. We pay women less, and tell them it is their responsibility to get to the top, with less support, and less resources as a result of pay inequality. These things are dangerous, and only further degrade the paths to the top for people who are already at disadvantage through no fault of their own.
I am obsessed with improving the equality of opportunity for people who aren’t lucky enough to experience the privilege I did nothing to get. There is, and always has been limited space at the very top, equality of outcome is an impossibility.
We can however, improve the paths for everyone, and give space to people to find their niche on the way up, without having to sink back to the bottom because no one is waiting for them at any point along their journey. We can use our privilege to lend a hand, and bring someone onto our path, rather than leave them to climb the path less travelled, or build their own path as they go.
We are all climbing the ‘Ladder of success’, but our ladders all look different. Let’s tidy up the ladders of those who need help, and do away with the privileged notion that
“Because I did it, you can too, so I don’t want to hear your complaints”.
“I’m sick of hearing (insert disadvantaged group of people here) complaining, (Successful person of this background) made it, they just need to work harder.”
Disadvantage should be assessed at the starting line, not the finish, and people of privilege need to do a better job of understanding that. We also need to do a better job of fixing it. Bringing more people to our starting line, and improving the conditions and quality of the paths that exist for people of disadvantage.
It certainly won’t happen overnight, but it can happen over time. We simply need to give up the privilege from the top of the pile, telling those below us that because we are here, they could be too.
Remember to be grateful of your privilege and mindful of those who aren’t fortunate to have it, and as always Just Be Nice.
When did we agree that arguing against hate with hate was the way to resolve differences?
This week I have seen people accuse Muslims of all being terrorists, followed with comments that agree with the sentiment like:
“We should shoot them all.”
“Ban the Rag Heads.”
I have also seen the comments that disagree which use similar language.
“You f*#king idiots.”
“F*#k you, racist idiots like you ruin the country.”
I have seen people on welfare abused this week, called bludgers and seen them ripped on in status updates and in papers, the news and on social media.
“I pay my taxes, and these f*#king dole bludgers do nothing and just cruise on my dollar.”
“There shouldn’t be any welfare for these losers, if they don’t go to work they shouldn’t get paid.”
And so on, and so forth. Anger, finger pointing, abuse, name calling, death threats, jokes about killing, deportation, locking them up and condemning people to lives without help dominate the conversation about political affiliation, race, gender, abuse, welfare, sexuality etc etc.
People who don’t agree with you, are simply that. People who don’t agree with you. Now I have had plenty of face-palm moments, I disagree wholeheartedly with many of the bigoted statements that I see in the media and on the internet daily. The path out of ignorance however is not paved with abuse, it is paved with information and understanding.
The bigot who is scared of Muslims is as misinformed as the Muslim who thinks all non-Muslims hate those of the Islamic faith.
The young man or woman of privilege who believes that all people on the dole are simply lazy dole bludgers is as misinformed as the person of disadvantage who believes that all ‘rich’ people are greedy and don’t care about them.
The problem is not necessarily in having differences in opinion. It is in the way we collectively address them.
So in the interest of practicality, if you are going to engage in a discussion in person or online, let’s try and establish some conventions that might help move conversations forward.
Which leaves me with point 8
It is a privilege and a right for us to have our opinions heard and discussed. Let’s make sure that we keep it that way. Be proud of what you have done and said because of how logical it is, not how emotive and mean it was. Spend more time looking for solutions rather than looking for problems, and look at ways to help before you look for ways to condemn. But don’t stop speaking up for those who can’t, we need more informed discussion and less abuse everywhere.As always, remember.
Just Be Nice.
First of all, there is far too many opportunities for people to discuss, real world examples of women being raped by men, and unfortunately I am seeing these stories shared mostly by women.
Men, we need to step up and take ownership of this conversation amongst ourselves as well.
This week alone, I saw a man on a TV show slut shame a woman for sleeping with her partner, I’ve seen convicted rapists let out of prison after serving minimal terms, transcripts from a trial in the US where a judge asked a rape victim why she didn’t just keep her knees together or tilt her pelvis away from her rapist. A women stalked from online and raped, and even a friend of mine who received bruising on her arm from an aggressive man she had been on a couple of dates with, who got mad when she no longer wanted to see him.
Are. You. Serious?
That was just THIS WEEK!
What has happened that not only are we discussing these things as news and entertainment, but that they are so easily accessible that I can’t go a day without seeing it on social media, or hearing about it from my friends.
It’s time for men to step up and say it’s not ok. Not online. In person. Share this, or don’t, but at least think about it. If you share this and don’t pull up your mates for their terrible behaviour, then it’s not really working is it?
How can we, as men, do a better job of pulling up other men for behaviour that might lead to attacks on women?
Well you can keep an eye on your peers/friends that do the following with their partners/girlfriends/women they are dating:
If you know people who act this way, maybe have a chat to them, see why they do, tell them that its not really a great way to treat people and offer them help to find someone to speak to about it. Keep an eye on them and their partner and make sure that she is ok over time. Partners of abusers won’t always leave right away, and that can be frustrating, but be there for them for a time when they might need to leave.
On a comment thread a couple of weeks ago, a female friend of mine had seen in a carpark, a man punch a woman in the face, to the ground. They had been having a verbal confrontation, and the woman slapped the mans face. The man then spat in her face and closed fist punched her to the ground.
The first few comments from men on that thread were along the lines, “Well what did she do to fire him up” “It’s bullshit that women can do whatever they want and if men retaliate they get in trouble”, “Women want equality, but complain when they get back what they dish out”.
Can we just cut that bullshit out?
Women arguing for equal rights are not giving us permission to beat them up when we are mad. These things happen from the way that we as a whole talk about it.
People argue, people fight, people say mean horrible and hurtful things.
None of that gives you permission to rape and/or beat someone up.
I made a graph to clear up any confusion.
Now being ‘traditional’ is no excuse to yell at a woman who wants to have sex with someone for any reason. The point should be that no one should have to be with, or have sex with, anyone that they don’t want to. If a girl has had sex with 200,000 people, it doesn’t mean that she will have sex with you, or your mates. It means she can have sex with whoever she wants to have sex with (provided they want to have sex with her too).
It is that simple. As men we need to end talk about being ‘owed’ sex for any reason. As men we need to stand up and say that it’s not a woman’s fault for not ‘tilting her pelvis’ and being raped, it is the fault of the man who raped her.
It is not the fault of the drunk woman who passed out and was raped. It is the fault of the rapist.
It is disgusting to me that the first comments on many discussions like this start with
“What about women that beat men” – Yes there are issues with all kinds of violence, but a conversation about women abusing men is not a counter argument to men beating women.
“What about women that lie about being raped” – Also not a counter argument to the fact that women are still being raped by men, and that women shouldn’t be getting raped for any reason, ever. That is still not a reason to immediately assume all rape claims are spurious. It is certainly not a reason to make excuses for convicted rapists.
“Women want to be treated like men, then they shouldn’t complain when they get all the same treatment” – Equality of opportunity does not mean men can do whatever they want to women!
Consensual sex is awesome. It can be fun and varied and intimate and wonderful. Healthy sex is consensual sex, good sex is mutually enjoyable sex. You don’t have to marry everyone you have sex with and likewise, if you want to wait until you are married to have sex, you have every right to do so. Everyone has the right to dictate what happens with their own bodies, and no-one should be forcibly abusing another person in any way at all. If you have any doubt about whether someone wants to have sex with you, just ask!
If we change the way we talk to each other about these things, then we can, as men, improve the situation for women who unfortunately, currently have good reason to be wary of us. Men are well placed to look out for other men who might go out and cause harm to women. Pull them up, talk to them about what is and isn’t appropriate, and create an environment where we celebrate men who make other people feel good, and not just men who do whatever they want, when they want.
There is nothing embarrassing for all men for talking about being disgusted by the behaviour of these guys that are committing these crimes. We don’t need to start with the comments like “All the rapists should be burned alive”, “These guys are the worst kind of scum” etc etc. The vitriolic comments and violent rhetoric doesn’t actually help.
What does help, is taking the people around you, and the people you know and talking openly about how pinning a girl to a wall and kissing her when she didn’t want to be kissed, is not cool. That getting someone drunk so you can have sex with them, is not cool. That bringing a girl home and letting your mates watch you have sex with her, or letting them join in without her consent, is not cool. That if a girl doesn’t want to see you, that’s ok. That you are never owed sex. That 3am trips to your house, do not guarantee that you’ll be having sex with someone. Being drunk isn’t an excuse for putting your hands on a woman inappropriately. No outfit on the planet is a blanket invitation for anyone to have sex or touch whatever part of a woman they like. Drugging someone’s drink is not cool, for any reason. That being a dickhead only makes you a dickhead, it doesn’t make you cool. The number of people someone has had sex with has nothing to do with how good they are as a person. The number of people someone has had sex with is no indication of how many more people they will have sex with, and certainly there is no magical number over which someone will definitely just have sex with you.
Bring it up, it’s not embarrassing, it’s just real. I think everyone should be having great sex, and no one should be getting raped. It’s up to men to pull each other up when there aren’t women around, to prevent things from happening when they are. We can do better, and improve the situation for women in generations to come.
Share the articles, let women know that it’s not ok for men to get away with rape and slut shaming and treat them terribly. Let women know that there are some men out there who recognise the problem, and even though we don’t always know what to do about it, we are here to learn and help however we can.
Just Be Nice - J
Off the back of some conversations I have had recently with people about Indigenous Australians and the situation we as a country find ourselves in dealing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and individuals, I thought I would film something that was basically the conversations I've been having. Given the vitriol that I have seen on social media and in the regular media lately, I think its worth looking at the situation perhaps in a different way.
Its not super long, but its longer than my regular VLOG's because there was a bit of ground to cover, but you can also listen to it as audio, you'd still get most of the info out of it.
Hopefully we can improve some understanding here and work on solutions rather than just finger pointing and passing blame. Misunderstanding and fear is one of the biggest blockers to progress, and the #JBNProject is all about providing solutions, not just talk, so lets raise the level of understanding, along with the equality of opportunity.
Enjoy, and Just Be Nice.
This is one of my favourite photos of all time.
It was taken by one of the at-risk kids during a hip-hop tour of St Kilda about 5 years ago. There were plenty of out of focus, terrible photos taken during this trip, as I handed my camera to a couple of interested kids and showed them briefly how to use it. This one, though, has it all.
My man Nadav, leading from the front, as he always has. A real inspiration and support of mine and hundreds of others, Nadav is one of the selfless ones. Having been through a lot himself, a fighter with a huge heart, you would be hard pressed to find a more generous and caring version of a man. At the time, we were just a couple of guys in our 20’s helping out local youth. Now Nadav is also a devoted father, with a beautiful wife who’s passion to help matches his own fire.
At the back, bringing up the rear, behind a group of kids who despite disadvantage bring an attitude and enthusiasm to our activities that I am yet to see among children of privilege, I am keeping an eye on a cheeky little bugger who is climbing on a road sign.
We took photos, checked out graffiti and finished up at a breakdance competition. We talked and walked. It was one of many such activities and events we did for years and years as part of the PCYC outreach programs.
And that’s what it’s all about. No one big moment of clarity or inspiration. Nadav is the same strong fighting and caring spirit today as when I met him 8 or 9 years ago. We were just there. That is the hardest part to measure. It doesn’t show up easily in KPI measures, it takes a long time. Nadav and many of my colleagues dedicated years of their lives to simply being present for people in need.
This wasn’t a one off inspirational chat. This wasn’t resume building. It was building trust, consistency builds trust, and with trust you can have an exponential influence and impact on the lives of those who need a guiding hand.
Some days we would just play basketball, other days, I taught interested kids how to box. We talked about school, and talked trash to each other on the court. Occasionally the police would give us the heads up that some of the kids had been acting up. If they wanted to talk, we were there. If they didn’t want to talk, we were there. We brought muffins when we had them, oranges and apples, cordial, you know, kids stuff. Over time we saw some kids grow into amazing young adults, and we saw some stray.
That is the natural attrition of this kind of work. It could break your heart, or it can strengthen your resolve. Not necessarily to go for bigger and better sounding events. But to be there more, to be more consistent, and provide longer and more meaningful support.
We will never have an equality of outcome, everyone is far too different, but with people like Nadav leading the charge, we can certainly work towards an equality of opportunity where every youth in Australia is afforded the necessary attention and support they need to be the very best that they can. Yes, some need more than others and that’s ok, because we are all different, and we all deserve that chance.
This is one of my favourite photos of all time.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports