Sunday, January 14, 2018

Kindness

I've always felt that you should give without telling, and be kind without expecting anything in return.  I am reluctant to even write this entry because I don't want this to seem like I'm stroking my ego, or giving myself a pat on the back.  But... I have decided to write this down in hope to inspire someone out there, whoever it is that actually reads the random thoughts I write, to go out and do what they feel is important in their heart.  We live in a time where we are all so connected, yet disconnected at the same time.  I hope that somewhere in my story I will remind you to do something that you feel is right.  


Wednesday started off like a normal day.  I took the kids to school, went to workout at Fit 36, then headed off the get some Jiu Jitsu practice with Randy.  I then got cleaned up and headed to work.

I was running a little late and decided to just grab a pizza at Little Caesars Pizza on the way to work.  The pizza is only 5 dollars, so it's something I grab when I'm in a hurry and running late.  As I walked up to Little Caesars I noticed a man sitting off by himself.  He was a homeless man, and he was just sitting there with his belongings and eating a pizza.  I saw a few people walk by him, and they were avoiding eye contact with the man.  He didn't bother any of them, didn't ask for money, and he didn't ask for help.  He just sat there, eating his pizza and minding his own business.

The location I was at is a nicer side of town.  An area where you don't see homeless people.  While I was getting my pizza, something told me that I needed to do something for this guy.  I asked the lady working behind the counter at Little Caesars if they sold gift cards.  She said that they did, so I told her that I would like a $30.00 gift card.

I got my pizza, and my gift card , and walked out of Little Caesars.  I saw the homeless man still sitting there, and I walked over to him.  He noticed me walking up to him and I said "Hello, I have something for you.  I see you like pizza, so I figured that you could put this to good use."  He saw that it was a gift card and I told him it had $30.00 on it and I wanted him to have it.

What he said to me left me heartbroken.  He told me, "$30.00... that's too much."

This was not the response I was expecting to hear.  I looked at him and said, "No it's not... it should be more."  Then I walked over to my car, got in, and drove to work.  The whole time I was driving I kept thinking how I wish that I had the time to sit down and talk to this guy.  I felt like I should have asked him if he needed anything.  I wished that I wasn't in a rush.

I got to work and went about my normal day.  Today I was working with Andrea.  We haven't hung out in a long time, and I always like working with Andrea.  She's one of those people that I can joke around with, and have very meaningful conversations with as well.

As we were ending our shift and were closing up the store I shared my story about the guy I had my encounter with earlier to Andrea.  I told her how heavy it was to hear him say that I gave him too much.

Andrea then said something that blew me away.  She told me, "It was probably hard for that guy to take it from you because he wasn't asking for anything.  You felt like he needed help and you did something about it.  You knew that he needed help from the way he looked and the position he was in.  If anyone saw you walking down the road they wouldn't think anything of it, but if they see this man they can automatically tell that he needs help.  The guy you helped probably realized that you could tell that he needed help just by looking at him.  That's gotta be a pretty heavy emotional thing to deal with."  This was a point of view that I never thought of.
 
A lot of time we see people in distress and we walk right by, look the other way, hope that someone else will step in, or just ignore them. 

Sometimes when we see a homeless person we automatically have an idea in our head about what their story might be.  We have no clue as to what got them to this point in their life.  Our luck can change at the drop of a hat.  We never imagine that the person we walk by could be us... but maybe we should.  I know that it is personally hard for me to swallow my pride and ask for help, and if it wasn't for my parents I don't know where I would be in my life when things were going bad.  I could have at one point of my life been that guy that needed help sitting there...



until next time...

BE KIND TO EACH OTHER!!!!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

01-13-18

It would have been easier
To be carried by you,
During those difficult moments
That I have been through,

The easier road
Is the one I've never taken,
It left me feeling broken
And feeling forsaken,

But making it through it all
Made me so grateful,
And in the end
So much more humble,

I need you behind me giving me a push
I need you I front of me giving me a pull,
There were times in my life
That I was so doubtfull,

Sometimes this world
Seems so dark and full of shit,
It would be easier to stop
Turn around and quit,

But that's not the way
I was designed and built,
I would prefer to push forward
And embrace all of the hurt,

At the end of the dark tunnel
There's a lamp that shines so bright,
And if I keep moving forward
And if I continue to fight...
I'll be so thankful
That I made it out alive.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Lost and Found

Losing Faith

I remember waking up early on an October morning and hearing the phone ring.  My first thought was, "who would be calling this early in the morning."  From my bedroom I could hear my mom talking in the background... "is she ok... what did the doctors say... We will be there tonight, we will leave as soon as the kids are out of school."  I immediately knew something was wrong.  I walked out of my room and asked my mom what was going on. She told me, "your cousin was in a car accident when she was going to work yesterday, she's in the hospital and we will go see her tonight."

My cousin was driving to work and had been hit by a drunk driver.  She was in critical condition and would be so for several months.  We would take trips constantly to visit her in the hospital.  We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with my Aunt at the hospital.

I remember seeing my cousin, and she was so beat up from the accident she was unrecognizable. I remember the beeping of the machines in her hospital room... holding her hand... talking to her... praying every night that she would get better.  Pleading to God, "Just help her get better.  Do something for her."

After several months of hospital visits and seeing her in a coma..  She passed away.  I was in junior high when all this happened.  I was young, and this was my first real experience with death.

Her death mad me very sad, angry, mad, pissed off, upset, confused... and faithless.

How could God let this happen? What the FUCK!!  If that's what I get for believing and praying I don't want anything to do with this anymore.  I stopped going to church. I remember telling my mom that I didn't want to go anymore and that I was done with it.  She wasn't happy about my decision, but she said it was my decision to make and that she wished that I would reconsider.  My mind was made up... and I was done.


A Slow Transition

I went through most of my life being what I would consider faithless.  I didn't want to hear anything about religion... or God.  

When I started to get into trail running back in 2010, my thinking and attitude towards God started to shift a little.  For me, it is very hard to be out in the middle of a forest and not feel like there was something bigger out there.  There is so much beauty when in the middle of nature, that I can't personally help but feel like there is some type of a higher power out there.  I slowly started questioning if I made the right decision many years ago.  Even with those random moments where I felt like I just wanted to believe again, I still held a lot of hate and resentment in my heart... and I wasn't ready to have a relationship with God.

The more time I started to spend on the trails, the more open my heart became.  The more I would go on long solo runs, the more I would question how I really felt deep down.  Part of me was wanting to believe again so bad, but I still had that part of me that was just fine without it.

Back in October of 2015 I met my friend Megan.  Megan and I have ran quite a bit together.  Megan helped me with a lot of my harder speed workouts and is one of the people that pushed me to really start running hard.  I have friends that are religious... and then I have Megan.  Megan's faith is a very huge part of her life, and I really like talking to her about how her faith plays a role in her life.

After one of our harder training runs we walked back to our cars and we said our goodbyes.  As I walked to my car Megan called me over to her car.  I walked over to her, and at this point in our friendship I had not talked to her at all about my beliefs, and she told me, "I talk to God and Jesus a lot..."  At this point I was wondering where this conversation was going to go.  I wasn't sure at this point how I felt about religion.  Then she continued, "Jesus want's me to tell you that he see's you... and he loves you.  He's always been there watching you.  He wanted me to tell you that you can let go of the pain you have inside."  I looked at Megan and smiled and couldn't hold back my tears.  She gave me a hug and told me that everything was going to be o.k.

Megan and I talk about life and religion very regularly when we hang out and run, but I wasn't ready yet for this to be a part of my life.


Coming Back Around 

Megan and I had not been training as much together, but in July of this year we started running together again, and for the first time we started hanging out in a non-running environment.  I remember hanging out with Megan one night and telling her, "This is the first time we've ever hung out and not ran."

At this time I was also running a lot with my friend Sunny.  Sunny has been my most consistent training partner for the last couple years.  We drop off from time to time, but we are pretty consistent about keeping each other on track.

By August I was training with Sunny and Megan pretty regularly as I was getting ready for Headlands 100.  Our training runs consisted of a lot of talking... talking about faith, god, life, death.  Deep down I was wanting to start believing again, but I wasn't quite there yet.  I would talk to Sunny and Megan about my cousin... how I was feeling, the pain I still felt, and anger I had, and the confusion.


Another Chapter

A few weeks after Headlands 100 I started hanging out and running with someone new.  I met Alisha a week before Headlands 100.  We were casually talking about trail running at Fleet Feet.  She asked me if I had a trail race coming up, and I was very vague about it.  When she asked what race I had coming up, and I didn't want to be that, "I'm running 100 miles" person... so I told her, "It's just a race I do every year in the bay area."

The week after Headlands 100 Alisha was picking up some gels while I was working.  I was helping someone out and notice Alisha walk in.  I said hello and she replied with, "So... just some small race you do every year in the bay area?"  At this point I realized we were friends on Strava and Facebook, and she was calling me out for not mentioning that I was running a 100 miler.  I wasn't sure how to reply... so I just laughed and said, "Yeah, I guess I left that part out."

Before I knew it, Alisha and I started running pretty regularly together.  On our first run we were out on an evening run.  We got to our turn around point and stood there for a couple mins looking at the stars.  At that moment Alisha asked me, "Do you believe in God?"  I replied with, "It's been hard for me to run on trails and not believe... and it's been harder to not believe in God lately, but it's complicated..."

On our run back to the car I shared what I had been going through... the pain I had from my cousins passing, the anger I still held onto, and just the confusing I was feeling.  Alisha listened to what I had to say, and we talked about her faith and what it means to her, and the roll it plays in her life.

The more we ran together the more open our conversations became, and I now had one more person to talk to about what I've been struggling with.


Welcome To The Breakdown...

At this point I had been talking to Megan, Sunny, and Alisha a lot about God, faith, and just about everything.

On October 19th I set out for a solo long run to get ready for the 2 Cities Marathon.  I headed out my front door with my headphones on and didn't expect the run to go the way it did.  I threw on a Rise Against album and started my run.  A song came on that triggered something in me.  I had been talking a lot about my cousin, and the anniversary of her accident was near.  I guess because of this date coming close I was thinking about her more that usual.  I remember not feeling as angry about things, and longing for some type of relationship again with God.  I remember the chorus ringing through my headphones...

"These whereabouts unknown
Please know you can come home
It's alright
I long for the moment
Our silence is broken
It's alright

It's alright now
'cause all is forgiven
If you could just listen
It's alright"

I felt moved by this song that I've heard over 1000's times.  I was becoming very emotional...  Part of me felt like I needed to say these words to God, and part of me felt like God needed to say this to me.

This became a very long and emotional run.  It was just over 21 miles of me talking to God, something that I had only done twice since my cousin passed away.  Other than a short prayer I said on the the day my son was born, and another one I said on the day my daughter was born... I felt no real need, or want, to talk to God.

I spent that run, talking to God, my cousin, praying, asking questions, looking for answers...


The Process

I remember something that Alisha told me during a run... "There's no timeline for the grieving process.  It can be as long or short as it needs to be.  It can't be rushed, and it's different for everyone and every situation."

At the end of my run on October 19th, I felt like there was a huge weight lifted off of my chest.  I felt like I got out whatever it was that was holding me down.

During the weeks leading up to and after this run I had been making it a point to hit the trail more and run less around town.  I feel centered on the trail.  I was doing at least 1 or 2 runs a week solo on the trail and I was just thinking about everything that was causing me pain.  I tried to rationalize how someone I loved could be taken away from me at such a young age.  I though about how it effected me over all these years and I looked at the how it helped me become the person I am today.

I use to drink a lot.  I would drink with my friends, and more than I would like to admit... I would drink alone.  Sometimes to kill whatever pain I was feeling inside, and sometimes because it was becoming a habit.  But when things seemed to get out of control, I would think about my cousin, and I would back off from drinking.  I often joke with my friends that I drink like I run.  I'm either doing a 5k or a 100 miler.  I have no middle ground...  It's safe to say that I have an addictive personality, and luckily I have my kids, running, and jiu jitsu to focus my life on.


100k

On November 18th I ran the San Joaquin River 100k.  The weeks leading up to this event were very overwhelming at times.  I was feeling better about building a relationship with God, and I was working things out in my head more during my runs, and I was starting to pray again.  I had people in my life that I was able to discuss all this with, and that made the process a little easier.

During the 100k I had a lot of time to think and be on the trail by myself.  I ran by myself for the majority of the race.  I thought about my cousin, I talked a lot to her, I remembered all the good times we shared, I thought about how hard it was to see her in the hospital, the impact her death had on me.

The last mile of the race is downhill, but in order to get to that point there is a pretty long climb to the top of the hill.  I was feeling very lonely and tired at this point, especially since it was near the end of the run.  I prayed for guidance in my life, for strength to not be afraid anymore, and to try to have a new start.  As I climbed up the switchback I could see the headlamps of the 2 people just in front of me.  They seemed so far away, all I could think is, "How am I going to make it all the way up there?"  Just then I looked down.  I could see headlamps in the very far distance, and I stood there looking at them for a few seconds.  I realized that the top of the hill was closer than I realized, and that I had almost made it to the top.

I realized that as I was going up the hill and feeling hopeless, I was still getting closer to the top.  My slow progress was progress.  I didn't see at as progress at the time, but the closer I was to the top, I was able to see just how far I had come.  The top was getting near, and the bottom was almost out of sight.  Just like in life, sometimes we don't realize just how far from the bottom we have come, and if we just keep moving forward, we can eventually get to the top of our goal.

I finished the race a lot slower that I wanted to, but I finished a little faster than my previous times.  Alisha was there waiting for me at the finish line.  I was so out if it and emotional, it took me a few seconds to actually see her standing right in front of me.  She came up to me and gave me a big hug.  It was a very emotional finish.  When Alisha hugged me it was a very overwhelming feeling.  It made me feel like all the pain I had put myself through (not only at the race, but the pain I've felt for the countless years) was being released.  I was very happy to have finished and to have Alisha there waiting for me.


The Next Day

The day after the race I woke up, shaved my beard that I had been growing out since the Dirty Dozen race back in July, and I headed over to Fit 36 to teach my morning classes.  On a normal Sunday I would have headed over to Fleet Feet after I was done teaching but today was different.  I went home, got cleaned up, and met Alisha at the church she attends.

We had been talking about me joining her sometime, but I usually work every Sunday.  I decided to take the day off and make it a point to check out the church she goes to.  I met the Jason, the Pastor of the church, and he was a very cool guy.  I listened with an open mind to what he had to say.  I liked the message that Jason presented and the way he delivered it.

During the service I decided that maybe it was time that I start reading the Bible again.  I tried to read it once in high school, and another time in college, but I just wasn't ready for that to be a part of my life yet.

After church we went out for lunch and hung out a little bit.  I was getting ready to leave Alisha's house and she told me that she had something for me.  She handed me a Bible and suggested that we both start reading it together and start on the book of Matthew.  I couldn't help but laugh a little since I was just thinking about doing this anyway.  I smiled and Alisha and thanked her for her Bible, and agreed to read it and discuss it with her.


Trust Fall

This journey has been long and painful.  I'm no longer filled the the doubt that I use to have, and I feel like I'm seeing life differently now.  I'm trying to go to church with Alisha at least once a month, or more often if my work schedule allows it.  I had to let go of the fear that I had after my cousin died... the fear of being let down... the fear of praying and not getting the result I want, but perhaps getting the result I need.

I have some amazing people in my life that I feel have helped me get back on path.  The more I have shared my struggles with them... the more I've been open and honest... the more they have made it a point to be there for me.

This road has not been easy.  To be 100% honest it has been scary as hell.  But I feel like I'm finally ready to close my eyes, lean backwards, and see what happens...



Until Next Time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!