Kindness. Running.

Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart

Yesterday at work I was an asshole to a someone. I was short with her. And the interaction immediately felt bad. Generally, people describe me as patient when I work them, but I was so impatient with her that I was embarrassed as I talked with her. And I was rude. But I couldn’t stop. My behavior was like a rapidly spreading cancer or food poisoning induced diarrhea. I couldn’t stop it.

I have excuses—bad excuses—for why I was this way. I won’t list them because when I’ve tried, in a few previous drafts, to list them they all sound petty. Extremely petty. I could say that it was the other person’s fault, the woman I dealt with earlier who treated me poorly. I could say that I was tired. I could say that I don’t like working on Sundays, so I was already foul. I could say that I wasn’t supposed to be helping her because I was supposed to be doing something else. I could say a lot of things, but as I mentioned, they all sound like feeble attempts to not take responsibility for my own behavior.

I’m working on this kindness thing, this being present and real and compassionate in every moment with every person I meet, and I’m finding that the more I work on kindness and compassion, the more I am smacked in the face with the moments I am unkind. Or impatient. Or rude. Or short.

Or just an asshole.

And there are many moments I wish I could go back in time and change the tone in my voice, the look in my eyes, the mannerisms of my hands, or the unspoken language of my body positioning.

But I can’t. I can only try better later.

Is that another excuse? Is that another way of my excusing my own behavior, or is it a healthy way to move forward trying better next time? Is there a way to stop myself in the middle of an interaction with someone and just admit that I was being inconsiderate, unkind, or impatient?

My goal this week is going to be to allow myself the space to breathe between interactions, to stop myself if I feel like I am being less than kind or compassionate, and to really force myself to be fully present with each person with whom I interact. No excuses.


While I was out running this morning, I was thinking about how running is getting easier again, slowly but surely. I was noticing that I have time and energy now to look around and notice what’s around me as I run. My breathing is improving, my form is getting back to normal, and my legs are feeling stronger each week.

I found myself being incredibly thankful for this moment of renewal in my life, the time here and now when I am not a slave to sadness to anxiety. I am thankful for second—let’s be real 1000th—chances and that I am here to live more days.

I took some time, too, to pray and meditate while I was moving, which is  really the goal of it all anyway. My mental health, and ultimately my ability to accomplish kindness and compassion, is wrapped up in my ability to begin my day with a long period of thinking, praying, and breathing.

Days, like today, when I don’t work until noon, are perfect for me. I can read, I can write, I can run, and I can pray and meditate in a slow, leisurely, intentional way. Days, like today, where I can sit on the porch and write while drinking coffee, are the days that make life worth living for me. And I know that sounds cheesy, but I know how true it is, so I’m grateful.

I’m also so very grateful to those of you who continue to read my words here, even when they seem sad, or hopeless, or cheesy, or beautiful, or cyclic, or uneventful. Thank you.

Namaste. Peace. Love.


September (FALL/AUTUMN) is Here, and I Couldn’t Be More Excited

Pushups for Veterans

I was challenged by friend Shon Byrum, the Mayor of Winchester, Indiana, to a Facebook challenge. I don’t typically partake in Facebook challenges, because I fail to see how they do any good, since they focus on some effort that neither raises money for, nor provides a solution to, whatever problem the challenge is supposedly addressing. This challenge, though, raises awareness about a problem that I think is particularly important.

Why is it that so many of our honorable veterans come home, only to end their lives shortly thereafter?

For the particular challenge Shon invited me to do, the acceptor of the challenge is required to do 22 pushups for 22 days in honor, or memory, of the approximately 22 veterans per day who commit suicide because of PTSD or another mental illness. I’ve done two days worth of pushups, and I’ve challenged two other people to the same challenge, which is a part of it. They are then requires to pass the challenge on, so awareness is spread via the viral nature of social media.

Starting tomorrow, I’m raising the bar on this challenge for myself. I’m putting 50¢ in a fund toward a veteran’s charity that helps with mental health care services for members of the military who are returning from war. By the end of the challenge, if my math is right, which it may not be, I’ll be donating a total of $220 to help our veterans who’ve been damaged by the effects of war. I haven’t yet decided which charity I will chose, but I’m doing research. I’m leaning toward The Soldier’s Project; my only hesitation is that their help is only available in limited parts of the country.

Starting tomorrow, I’m also going to include a different link to a different charity each day in my post. I’d love it my friends and family would also make small donations to those charities in honor of this challenge. Then, I think, I’d feel like I’m doing more than just raising awareness of a problem, but I’d also be helping to provide a solution to the problem as well.


Running: I’m doing it, and I’m enjoying it more, so I guess that’s progress. I’ve also started swimming again. Merideth and I started with a four day a week pact, but four days is a bit daunting along with running, too, so I am shooting for three days a week from here until the end of October.

Compassion: I’m struggling right now to articulate my spiritual beliefs. On the one hand, I do so love the Jesus, but on the other hand, the things I love about Jesus feel more Buddhist to me than anything, so I am reading a lot about people who have a similar struggle that I do. And there are many of us.

I’ve slipped bit on the vegan front, and I even ate a bit of meat when I was in Texas for training for work. I regretted it immediately. I wanted to breathe the life back into the cow, but I couldn’t, so I just cried instead. Into my hotel pillow. How sad.

Looking back, I’ve lumped a bunch of things into this category of compassion and the one that doesn’t seem to fit is meditation. But it does. I mentioned the other day that meditation has helped me more in my adult life than prayer has, that isn’t really true, I suppose, except that meditation is helping me become friends with myself in a new way. By focusing on my very existence—my breath—  I’m able to recognize my absolute physical impermanence, and through prayer while running, I’m able to contemplate how to use my newfound settledness, inner-peace, or contentment to love in a new way. (I’m sorry if this seems a bit scattered or not really well articulated, but I’m trying to find a way to describe some feelings that are utterly foreign to me.)

To focus my meditation, I’ve been using a mala that I made from a bunch of beads I’ve had since college, but today I ordered a new mala made of jade. Because I use beads when I pray, I find to be especially helpful—but in very different ways—to use beads when I meditate. Meditating each day for nearly a month now has helped me to empathize with people more easily, to pause and give space in conversation, to not have to talk as much, to be able to listen more, and to be able to have unbridled compassion and love.

It’s really beautiful.

Social Media and Creativity: I came back onto Facebook, because I missed some of my friends. I’m learning to balance it and my other activities, so that I am not consumed with comparison (Facebook envy), anger, and an irrational need for feedback and approval. I haven’t done any art, and I’ve done little writing. I have done quite a bit of listening to Podcasts, which are feeding my imagination and making me think differently about the world in which we live. And I’m still reading quite a bit, so I’ll call this successful for now.

Finances: I’m paying things down. Slowly but surely. Not as fast as I wanted, but it’s happening.

Pay It Forward: I’ll be in Canada during the classes for the sexual assault advocacy, and now that I really think about it, there are probably other volunteer opportunities that will suit me better, ones that won’t cause me personal distress. I’m open to suggestions of things people might see me doing, so if you think of anything, I’d be happy to hear about it.

Fall and Autumny Things

Most people know that fall is my favorite season of the four. The air is crisp, the trees are filled with color, and everything looks and feels like it might just curl up and take a nap. Fall is filled with apple cider, hot chocolate, bonfires, and pumpkins; all of which make me extremely happy. I get to have impromptu coffee and writing time with fine people like Ico, and the drive to work doesn’t feel so bad with bright red and yellow trees guiding the way. Essentially, everything is more amazing in the fall.

The two most exciting things for me this fall are that my friends Julie and Alan are coming to visit this weekend and we’re going to an apple orchard/pumpkin farm, and then a couple of weeks later, I get to vacation in Canada with my beautiful wife and my amazing little brother. What’s most awesome about our vacation is that we’ll also get to spend time with Merideth, Josh, and T-Bean in New York.

The end. 

Basically, my life feels like it is on an upswing. I’m working hard to help this be a new way of life for me,

  • one in which I have a balance between setting goals and achieving them, or not.
  • one in which I have personal health, and a healthy way of interacting with other.
  • one in which I am serious, and also feel free.
  • one in which I respect those around me, but I also respect myself.

Peace. Grace.

My Hips and Knees Are Sore, So I Must Be Running Again

If you follow me on here, you know I set a few goals for this—my forty-second—year, and you know I said I’d check in on each goal every month on this day. I have to admit that I am not super inspired to write today, but I am going to give a run down of how my goals are progressing.

RUNNING: Let’s start with running, since that was the goal that sparked all of this. Running is both a blessing and a struggle. It’s frustrating to me when I look back at old photos and see myself 50 pounds lighter and a lot better at running, both faster and farther. But I’m doing it. I’m building my way back up to being a runner, instead of someone who simply wants to run and never does. This morning, for example, I ran 48 minutes on some fairly difficult trail at Afton State Park. Don’t ask how (not that) far I ended up going in that 48 minutes, because I’d be embarrassed to tell you, but I did it. I got up. I went to the park. I ran. That goal of running 26.2 in less than 6 hours seems so far off, I can’t even fathom it at this point, but I know I can do it. With my friend Molly supporting me and cheering me on, I can do nearly anything, even if my hips and knees get sore.

COMPASSION: The vegan diet part of this one is going really well. I’m kind of disgusted with the meat industry, so this part of the compassion goal is much easier. I never have a problem having compassion for animals; their sweet faces make it so easy to love them. Self-care and compassion is always a bit more difficult for me. Have I been to church regularly since I wrote these goals? No. And every Sunday, I say I’m going to go and then I don’t. I need to try harder in regards to my spirituality. I’m letting a lot of opportunity fall through the cracks. It’s a good thing I’m checking in on these goals I’ve set, because I have been neglecting a lot about this compassion goal: I’ve not been meditating every day, like I planned, and I haven’t been praying while running. Here is a place where I can do some serious focusing and bear down to accomplish wellness.

PAY IT FORWARD: Now that I look at this goal, it’s closely coupled with my goal of being more compassionate. I’ve been focusing on the work part of this goal, and trying to look at each customer with the love, grace, and patience I’d show my grandma. God rest her soul. I’m finding that my vocation to love is becoming easier and easier to practice, even when people can be difficult. Recently, I’ve been more able to think about how we all can be difficult and about how we all have faults. Whenever I think about how irritated I am able to get with other people, especially if my irritation is over someone’s inability to understand, I am reminded that I am likely irritated with my own insecurities more than I am irritated with that other person. In fact, I am reminded of this Thich Nhat Hanh quote: “If you are not yet able to love yourself, you will not be able to love your enemy. But when you are able to love yourself, you can love anyone. When you do this, you will see that your so called enemy is not more or less than a human being who is suffering.” The more I work on my own wellness and self-love, the more I am able to love those around me.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND CREATIVITY: I have been off of Facebook for over two months now! And, I am finding that I really don’t miss it at all. Do I miss some of the people I interacted with through Facebook? Yes, but then I think about how easy it is to find other ways—ways that are less invasive and less public—to communicate with them, and I know I made a good decision. Have I written any memoir or drawn any illustrations? No. Have I read read any books? Yes, I have been reading so much that I finally remember what it’s like to simply read for the sake of enjoyment, instead of reading to analyze text. Of everything I’ve changed in my life, reading more is the best part! I even joined the library!

FINANCES: Um, yeah. These are goals, and, um, I am certainly a work in progress in this regard. We’ll just leave that there.

Peace and cheers!

43 years = 43 kilometers and some goals

My 42nd birthday is coming up shortly, in about 12 days and 6ish hours. I was born at 2:26 AM on July 22, 1974 with fat cheeks, squinty eyes, and a full head of very dark hair. Given my disposition, it is very likely that I was crying, or at the very least, making noise. Lots of it.

I’m excited to turn 42, so, naturally I decided to set some goals for myself, things to accomplish between now and the age of 43. For some reason, probably The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, 42 feels like some kind of magical year. Forty-two certainly can’t be worse than 41, or at least the last few weeks of 41 have been, and I’m banking on 43 being even better.

As I was thinking about what types of goals I could set for myself, I asked what was important to me. I came up with a few answers: running and fitness, compassion and leaning into my spirituality, making the world a better place, getting away from social media, reading, writing, and arting more, and moving toward a more healthy financial situation.


  1. RUNNING: I thought I’d be clever and set a goal for myself to be able to run a certain distance by my birthday next year, and I thought I’d be clever and make it however many kilometers I’ll be turning. I decided to commit to running 43 kilometers, which also happens to be roughly 26 miles, which also happens to be a marathon distance. And, as luck would have it, there just happens to be a trail marathon around Grand Island on Lake Superior in Michigan on my 43rd birthday. And that trail marathon just happens to have an early start for slow-ass runners like myself.If that isn’t Providence guiding my goal, I don’t know what is.
  2. COMPASSION: Compassion is an idea that comes easily to me, but a practice that comes much less easily. I talk a lot about being compassionate, and I practice it as well, but I could use a lot more practice, if you know what I mean. I especially find it difficult to feel compassion for people who I don’t think deserve it, which is entirely not what compassion is about.
    In order to work on the practice of compassion, I am committing to attending church as often as possible, to meditating each morning after I run and on my way home from work, and to using my time running to pray for those who need prayer.

    In addition, I plan to maintain a strictly vegan diet for the year. How can I practice compassion without thinking of the animals I love so much and consciously avoiding eating them?

    Finally, I am going to practice some self-compassion by working on my mental health.

  3. PAY IT FORWARD: In October, I plan to attend a series of training to become a sexual assault advocate. I am not entirely sure what this entails, but from what I can tell, I will help to intervene in situations where people have been assaulted and act as their advocate as they navigate the reporting of, medical care during, and figuring our the aftermath of being assaulted. My goal of making the world a better place starts here.I am learning that my worth does not lie in my job, but I can use my job as a means to make the world better. My vocation, grace, can be practiced anywhere with anyone.
  4. SOCIAL MEDIA and CREATIVITY: I am finished with Facebook. I’m hoping to use that time reading, writing, or doing some kind of art. My goal is to write something I am proud of, to read one book, and to complete one piece of art each month this year.That’s twelve chapters of memoir, along with twelve illustrations, and twelve new literary adventures in the 377 days. I think that’s doable.
  5. FINANCES: I need to work on paying off some credit card debt. My goal is to pay $4300 off of my credit card debt by the age of 43. That’s paying an extra $350 each month and not charging anything new, which I can do if I am really frugal, which will be really hard for me.This may be the most difficult of all these goals.

As part of this goal-setting for the year, I plan to check in on these goals every 22nd of each month until July 22, 2017. Hopefully, that last check-in will come after I’ve taken a dip in Lake Superior after completing a 26.2-mile run around an island.

Here’s to birthdays and the ways in which they require us to rethink our priorities. Cheers and peace.

Unapologetically Me: Manifesto 41

A couple of days ago I finally landed the job that I’ve wanted for quite some time.  I’m stubborn, and I wanted it so much sooner than now, but I am learning to wait for what is good. I’m now a teacher for a company I respect and believe in. I have some big plans in my mind about what this might mean for me, and I am so excited about how my future may turn out.

I move to my new store on May 14, so a week or so from now and a couple of weeks before I head back to Indiana to watch the graduation of my last class of students, who I had in class for more than a couple of years. This seems like perfect timing, since I was offered my job nearly one year ago. I started there on June 1, 2015, and I’ll permanently be in my new role from June 1, 2016.

I’m sad to leave behind all of my friends at MOA, but I am happy I was so welcomed and accepted there. For the past year, I feel as if I’ve been unlearning all the awful habits I’ve picked up in the workforce before working with people there. The level of kindness, forgiveness, and support from most folks is unparalleled in my experience. On most days, work feels like a cooperation, instead of a competition, and I like that. I don’t live in the constant fear of doing something wrong.

That being said, not everything is always sunshine and roses, but I firmly believe that life ends up being what we make of it. It’s safe to say that I’ve lived a good portion of my life making it whatever I’ve been influenced to make it and becoming whoever I have been made to feel  should become. Because of this new job, I feel more empowered to be who I am, than I have felt for a long time in my life. I work for a company that embraces its employees for our difference, for being who we are, for exercising our creativity and uniqueness. I get to teach in a highly professional setting, and I get to be unapologetically me.

I can shave my head, get pierced, get tatted, wear flip flops and shorts all year long, and simply live my life, my destiny, who I am designed to be. Sure all the things I’ve listed are physical attributes, but they are things I’ve struggled with throughout my working career. From student teaching forward, I’ve never worked somewhere that I can be uniquely myself with no repercussions. From arbitrary dress codes to “professional” conduct codes, we do quite a bit of pushing beautifully unique pegs into unnecessarily restrictive square, narrow, widget-shaped holes.

That being said, if you can’t deal with me being unapologetically me, we’d better stop being friends. More than ever before in my life, I’m being true to myself and doing things exactly the way I want to do them and, much more importantly, exactly the way I was designed to do them. I’ve always struggled with the feeling that who I am isn’t good enough, refined enough, or professional enough. I’ve even been made to believe, by different folks in my life, that who I am is not acceptable of a Christian woman. For a bit of my adolescence, I was even made to feel as if God couldn’t possibly love me, specifically because of who I am. 

Over the past several years, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, meditating, and praying, and I’ve finally recognized out that I have to give in to who I am, even if it isn’t the choice others in my life would make for me. As I look back through Facebook and here, I speak quite a lot about wavering between poles and trying to feel like I am living a consistent ethic. I’ve been a lot of things over the past ten years, but I am tired of trying on new hats all the time. I think I’ve been a lot things and wavered so much, because I am on a quest to please those around me. Well, y’all, I’m done with that nonsense. 

Sadly, this realization has taken a good portion of my 41 years of life.

I’m ready to live unapologetically and authentically me.

Unapologetically a praying Christian. Unapologetically a meditator. Unapologetically a deep thinker. Unapologetically an empathetic soul. Unapologetically a vegan. Unapologetically a teacher and seeker. Unapologetically a trail runner and hiker. Unapologetically queer. Unapologetically a civil rights advocate. Unapologetically a Minnesotan Hoosier. Unapologetically an outside the lines kind of human. Unapologetically fat. Unapologetically bald. Unapologetically tattooed and pierced.

Unapologetically whatever I become from here. 

Unapologetically a harbinger of peace, grace, love, and joy. 

Unapologetically me.