Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jantastic

As I reflect on the past month, I really am excited about what it did to set me up for success in the many months to come.  I wanted to take a look back and see how this month helped me take steps toward the goals I had for this month.

Weight
One of my goals for 2013 is to stay below 230 pounds.  I started over it, so I knew it would take me a little bit to get below that.

Dec 31: 236.8
Jan 31: 223.2
Down 13 pounds this month - game on!

Fitness/Nutrition
I have been working out a lot.  I've been seeing a trainer about twice a week since December.  She's amazing!  I've been running a few times a week in the midst of half marathon training, I've been playing volleyball... so much!  I've been eating really well.  I'm mostly gluten free - focusing on a shift to more protein in my life, and just eating better food.  REAL food.  And I feel so great!

Spirituality
This post just about sums it up.  I am finally starting to listen.

Creative Outlets
This is something I've wanted to surround myself with for a while, but haven't really done in a long time.  Here's a couple things that have come out of me messing around a little bit...


Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul. 
W. Somerset Maugham 

Smile and laugh a lot
The last couple years, this has been the last goal on my list for the year.  But I think this is most important.  Some of you know, but this winter has been pretty rough on me.  Internal reasons, external reasons, physiological reasons.  A whole lot of things in my life piling up over the last couple months.  But I am stronger than all of it.  And I am conquering it all :)

February, you're up!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

28 for 28 Challenge

As most of you know, I am running my first marathon on June 2 in San Diego.  

I am running the race through Team in Training, an organization that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

To put the FUN into Fundraising, I am issuing an official challenge, which I am naming 

28 for 28 Challenge

On Friday, February 1st, I will be celebrating my 28th birthday.  In honor of this, I am issuing a challenge:

If 28 people donate at least $28 on my 28th birthday (2/1), I will let each of those 28 people name something that I have to do in response.  You can make me do (just about) anything.  

Think of the most embarrassing, humiliating, outrageous, scary, gross, etc. thing you can think of.
Think of the most practical, choreish, I-do-for-you-so-you-don't-have-to thing you can think of.
Think of the most friendly, inspirational, helpful thing you can think of.

Basically, ask yourself what would you pay money to see me do?

You donate.  You name it.  I do it.

I have no shame - I'll do anything... with very few exceptions.  And I will document it and post it here on my blog.  Have fun and get creative with it!

AND you still get all of the awesome incentives that I have offered on my fundraising site.

Here's the catch - 28 people have to donate at least $28.  If 27 do, nobody makes me do anything.  

I am throwing my dignity on a limb here, and I'm hoping you can help me reach my goal of running a marathon and help find a cure for cancer.  

Now it's your turn.  

Donate.  Pass along to your friends & family.  Pool your money together with friends and donate as a team.  Just donate!


For more information on Team in Training, visit http://www.teamintraining.org/

On Friday, February 1st, let the games begin!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

How Depression Pushed Me Away From And Brought Me Closer To God

Moments.

So many of them go unnoticed.  So many of them forgotten.  So many of them wasted.

But some rock your world.

Sometimes, moments change everything.

I want to tell you a story about three moments.  

As a kid, I was a dutiful Christian.  I went to groups.  I went to Sunday school.  I was in Awana.  I prayed.  I went to church.

As I was preparing for confirmation, I was involved in a youth group.  Although I was a dutiful Christian, there was a lot I did not understand.  As I entered adolescence, my faith wavered, and I was religiously apathetic.  I said prayers but they didn't mean anything.  I went to church but was more focused on counting down the minutes until I could leave.  I was losing my faith.

I went on a retreat my sophomore year of high school, a sort of last hurrah leading up to conformation.  A weekend full of activities with a whole bunch of people my age, many that I went to middle school with, plenty of strangers, plenty of friends.  A whole group of people spending time together exploring a little bit more about faith.  I don't remember the activities.  I don't remember the conversations.  I don't remember anything about the weekend other than one part.

Moment 1.

On our last night, we did an activity meant to signalize letting go of our sins, our pain, and our suffering, and letting God take control of those things in our life.  There was a fire burning in the fireplace, and the glow filled the dark room with hope.  After a lot of reflecting, we were asked to write on a piece of paper the things we were struggling with.  The pain we were feeling.  The sorrow that we were experiencing.  The hardships we were facing.  Make a list, throw it in the fire, and let God help you let go.  Most people wrote down one or two things, walked over to the fire, and dropped the paper in, letting go of their burdens.  I wrote.  And wrote.  And wrote.  One by one, everyone got up, dropped their paper in the fire, and walked away.  I wrote.  Until finally, I couldn't write any more.  I was crying.  I was ashamed.  So much I wanted to let go of.  So much I realized I needed help through. I slowly made my way to the fire, clutching the paper in my hands.  I said a prayer:

God, please help me through these things.  Please help me let go.  Please help me.

I was approached by the leader of the weekend.  Pat said that he noticed that I had written a lot, and asked if there was anything he could do to help.  I just said I have a lot that I'm trying to let go of.

The next morning, before be left, we had a chance to speak in front of the group sharing what we had taken away from the weekend and how we were affected.  After a few people, I was compelled to talk. I took a deep breath, walked up, and started talking.  I talked about how I had learned a lot this weekend and enjoyed the time I spent with everyone.  I told everyone about how much I wrote on my paper and how I needed God to help me through, and how I believed he would answer my prayer.  As I started sobbing, I thanked everyone for helping to bring faith back in my life.


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Moment 2.

After I returned back into the routine of high school life, I started feeling worse and worse.  Those things that I was trying to let go of were getting bigger and bigger.  I started becoming more and more detached.  I started hating myself.  I started falling apart.  I couldn't stop hurting.  What followed were some of the darkest days that I could have ever imagined.  Brokenness.  Fear.  Hurt.  Hopelessness.  Misery.  Sadness.  Pain.

I spent so many days in a dark hole that I couldn't seem to get myself out of.  I spent so many nights going to bed hoping I wouldn't wake up.  I spent so long wishing I was dead.

I asked you to help me, and this is what you do?  I hate you.  I don't need you.

That's the moment I walked away from God.

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Therapy.  Medication.  Love.  Support.  Hospitals.  Doctors.  Pills.  Time.  Treatments.

I started liking my life again.  I started finding a purpose again.  As my mom said with a smile on her face, "I got my son back."

A few years passed.  I found myself resenting God.  Whenever we would go to church, I would be bitter. Former apathy turned to anger.  I didn't want to listen to this crap.  Why should I waste my time?  He wouldn't even help me when I needed it the most.  I got myself better.  I did what I needed to do to turn my life around.  I found my way back.

A few years passed.  Anger turned back to apathy.  If I stepped foot in a church, it was either Easter or Christmas.  I didn't feel anything.  I didn't care.

A few years passed.  Apathy turned into curiosity.  So many of my closest friends were devout Christians.  My values fall in line with so many Christians, and we just fit well together.  They would tell me that they were praying for me.  A few years before, I would have been pissed.  I was flattered and honored.  It didn't mean anything to me in a spiritual sense, but it was touching that these amazing people felt that strongly about me wanting to have a relationship with God.

A few years passed.  Curiosity turned into desire.  Desire to figure out what I really believed.  I spent so many years turning my back and walking away, but I realized that I needed to start a journey toward discovery with a blank slate.  I realized that I believe in God, but not the same way that a lot of other people do.  I have a lot of spirituality, but it is expressed differently than a lot of other people.  I started checking out a few different churches and did a lot of reading.  I found a church that the first time I walked in, I felt that it could be a home to discovery.  I found a church that for the first time in over a decade, I actually look forward to going to every week.  I found a church that really makes me think, examine, reflect, question, challenge, and grow.  I found a church that for the first time in over a decade, I felt anything.

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Over the past few months, something has been lurking underneath the surface.  Every couple of years since the "dark days," I experience moments where feelings of depression return.  Sometimes weeks.  Sometimes months.  But like clockwork, every 2-3 years, I am challenged with another bout.  I have come to understand myself and my mental health very well, and after years of challenge and understanding, I know what to do when it returns.  It never manifests itself in the same way, but I can always figure it out and conquer it once again.  But this time, I realized it too late.  My job has been suffering as a result.  I lost the the most important thing to me - the biggest part of my life.  All because I didn't see this one coming.  When I took away everything and all there was was me, I knew something wasn't right.  I knew that depression was back for another fight.  In all my years of battling this, in all of these moments, I know what to do.  I know how to calm myself down.  I know how to get help for myself.  I know who to turn to.  I know what I need to do to get through it.  But something was tugging on me and I did something different this time that I have never done before in these moments.

I prayed.

God, please help me through these things.  Please help me figure this out.  Please help me.  Please be with me.

What followed was a moment of peace and clarity unlike I have felt in a long time.  Although it has damaged many things in my life, although I lost a relationship, although I was struggling with many other things, I got it.  I understood what was really going on and could grasp the issue at hand.  The depression I thought I had said goodbye to long ago, yet has shown itself every few years, has been creeping back into my life.  Even though I felt damaged and broken, I knew what I had to do to pick up the pieces.

Moment 3.

The next morning, I headed to church before I was to head to Minnesota to spend Christmas with my family.  I have been listening to one song over and over this week (It is posted below).  Usually, when I go through rough patches, there's one song at the time that becomes my go-to for inspiration.  One song is in my life that will make me feel better.  So many songs have helped picked me up through the years.  Although I don't find myself overly religious, I have always found comfort and hope in religious music.  I am going through a rough patch.  This is my song.

On the way to church, I listened to it on repeat.  Over and over.  Tears streaming down my face.  I got to the parking lot.  I took a deep breath.  I turned off my car.  I walked inside.  As I entered the sanctuary, a song was playing over the loudspeakers that caught my attention.  A different version.  An acoustic, beautiful, traditional version of the traditional song.

My song.

During the service, between the traditional Christmas stories, there was a message.  The title of the message that morning was A Healing Kind of Christmas.  If there's one things I need during this time, it's exactly that.

Healing.

Short yet enlightening, succinct yet powerful, he spoke about the brokenness that people feel.  The pain that people experience.  The hardships that people work through...broken relationships...not ideal job situations...deep pain...searching for something...running from something...

He might as well have been pointing a finger right at me while he was talking.  He was speaking directly to me.  Directly to my soul.

In that moment, I didn't know what it meant.  I don't know what it means for me or my future.  I don't know what is going to change or where it will go from here.  But I know that one thing happened that I haven't thought, felt, or believed in many, many, many years.

In that day, in that morning, in that moment... God was with me.

video

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

#oneword 2013

In the Twittersphere, there's this thing called #oneword, where people choose one word to live by for the upcoming year.

I'm playing along this year.  

And my word for 2013 is


I'm leaving 2012 with the feeling that some things in my life are off-kilter.  And 2013 is the year that I sort some of those things out.

Career
The next 6 months are going to be a pivotal point of my life as far as this goes.  I am looking forward to discovering opportunities and finding out really what direction I am headed in.

Faith
Something I'm been wrestling for a good majority of my life.  I've been learning a lot of great things and finding new ways to develop my spiritual beliefs.  Trying to really understand what I believe is going to be an exciting part of 2013.

Hobbies
Going along with some of my goals for 2013, some forms of creativity and ways to spend my time will be emerging.  Photography, art, maybe some music, reading, writing, etc... finding meaningful ways to spend my time.

Meaning
Speaking of meaning, this is the year that I will try to add some more depth to the things I do and the life I life.

Future
I need to figure out some things for what I am really looking for in my life.  Where I want to be, what I want to be doing, how I want my life to play out.  So many things to look forward to over a lifetime, and living in the moment sometimes makes me neglect looking at the bigger picture.  Figuring some of those things out and being intentional about how to get there are going to be exciting.

Limits
I just go.  Sometimes that gets me in trouble, as I get in over my head in a lot of situations.  2013 is going to do a lot to test my limits and discover what I am capable of.

Life
In general, I feel like I've done a lot over the past two years to treat life as an adventure and find opportunities that I can succeed in.  I know a lot of these things have huge implications on my future, but this is one of the first times I believe that will be a defining moment for the rest of my life.  2013 is going to do so much to determine what direction I head in the many years to come.  Health & Fitness.  Career.  Places.  People.

I am excited to see what 2013 has in store for my life, and I can't wait to discover so many new things about myself and the world around me.

Even when I feel like I have it all figured out, I realize how much more I have yet to discover.

13 for '13

Every year, I set some pretty ridiculous goals to set the bar and look forward to the next year.  To dream big.  To aim high.  Here are this year's goals:



Stay below 230 pounds
I peaked in late 2010 at 284.  I started 2011 at about 270.  I started 2012 at about 250.  I am ending 2012 at 236.8lbs.  During 2012 I got down to 217 but quickly gained some back.  Yes, I would love to get down to a certain number, but for starters, I want to stay consistently below a certain number.  It should take me just a couple weeks to get below the 230 mark, then I plan to spend the rest of the year in the 220's and beyond.

No McDonald's or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
My two biggest weaknesses when it comes to food.  Gone.  For a year.

Run a race every month
I ran my first 5K in Dec. 2010 and have ran at least one race every month since.  The streak will continue in 2013.

Run a marathon
I have signed up for Rock n Roll San Diego on June 2nd.  I have to raise a whole lot of money to make it happen.  To learn more and to support me in this journey, click here.

Run under the following times:
5K: 26:00  10K:  57:00  Half Marathon: 2:00:00
Game on!

Run 3 destination races
San Diego is 1.  Hoping for 2 more :)

Visit 5 new places
Exploring the world around me

Read the Bible
Trying to understand...

Increase savings accounts to undisclosed amount
I have a number in mind.  You don't need to know it :)

Have zero balance on my credit cards
2012 marked the first time I've been unable to pay off my credit cards in full every month, and I've been struggling to stay afloat financially since.

Volunteer
I want to do something that matters...

Discover/Rediscover a creative outlet
I have a few ideas up my sleeve for this, so I want to spend some time in creativity

Smile and laugh a lot
Because that's what life is really all about.