Role Model

Everything you do right now ripples outward and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. Your glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. Your every act can open hearts and minds. —David Deida

The other day at work while all of the kid’s parents were picking them up, the mother of two boys came up to me.

Yep, the same two that I mentioned in the post Passion + Compassion.

She told me that she is extremely grateful that I have been so great with her boys. She told me that they don’t have a male figure in their lives right now and I’ve become a role model for them and their only male figure. She said they talk about me a lot and she just wanted say thank you to me for hanging out with them in our after school program.

This definitely made my day!

Not only is it wonderful to get that kind of praise for my job but it’s incredible and rewarding to know that I have made an impact on a few lives just by having fun and being me.

I think I have been on a search for a job that has a positive impact on people. I think that it why I have always felt unimportant and that my job was meaningless at most jobs that I have had.

But I think I have finally found something that I love to do and that has hopefully made a difference in the lives around me.

I have even started a collection of all of the drawings and colorings that the kids have made me and it has warmed my heart to know they are thinking of me when they are making something.

It’s definitely hard work watching after a group of kids but I feel like I am getting more in return with the happiness I have received from them.

All of this makes me wonder why we praise certain people in society. Why do we care so much about celebrities?

Do we really become happier and better people by learning what someone wore on the red carpet? Or by buying what someone is being paid to talk about?

Here is a little quiz to ponder over based on the philosophy of the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, Charles Schulz:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.  

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.  

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.  

 4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.  

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.  

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.  

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.  

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.  

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.  

5. Think of five people you enjoy spendingtime with.

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

A Call to Joy

I sat down to do some writing this afternoon. I put on some ambient music to help with the creative process but my mind became almost silent as the atmospheric sounds left me adrift. I feel extremely content and happy right now and I am very much enjoying the calmness that has enveloped me at the moment.

I don’t think I will get any writing done, as I now plan to just enjoy this state of mind.

But to give everyone something inspiring to read, here is a quote that I came across this weekend and fell in love with:

“Place your hand over your heart. Feel that? That’s called purpose. You’re alive for a reason. That thing that you do, after your day job, in your free time, too early in the morning, too late at night. That thing you read about, write about, think about, in fact fantasize about. That thing you do when you’re all alone and there’s no one to impress, nothing to prove, no money to be made, simply a passion to pursue. That’s it. That’s your thing. That’s your heart, your guide. That’s the thing you must, must do. What is your thing? The things that make you happiest are not random. They are your calling…placed inside every human being is a call to joy, and the purpose of your life is to answer that call.”


5K: Win is a Win

Got my first win in a race ever!

I ran a 5K over the weekend in the next town up from me. Races are few and far between in Wyoming so I really wanted to jump on the chance to get in a 5K before I really amp up my ultra training.

Well my race wasn’t pretty.

I went out pretty ambitious and hard. I figured it would be my only 5K until the Fall, so why not go all out?

First mile I was around 5:42. I knew from my breathing that I wasn’t gonna be able to hold it but just ran hard anyways.

Obviously I just fell apart. By the half way point I was on pace to run 18:30, which was my goal. But still fell back from there…

Ended up getting 19:41 for the whole race. About 2 minutes faster than the person behind me.

Not many people run in this state, I have found out, which kind of sucks because I don’t have people to push me.

I talked to a friend back home about the race details and he said “a win is a win.”

Didn’t go as planned but I’ll take it even though I would be destroyed in any other 5K.

Hopefully it sets a trend….

The Boys of Summer

I thought about you today on my run and I can’t believe it has almost been a year since you left. Like everyone that heard the news, I didn’t want to believe it, thinking there was no way that one of my childhood best friends could be gone so soon.

From the moment the news was confirmed, I wanted to carefully craft something in writing for you to say goodbye but honestly I had no idea where to begin.

Unfortunately, time slipped by and I never got around to it.

Recently I was watching the movie Stand By Me on a lazy Sunday afternoon and the final words Richard Dreyfuss types onto his computer struck a chord between you and me.

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

Then all the great memories rushed back and played all in a flash in my head.

The Nerf wars in your basement. The most epic football game in your front yard with a few inches of snow on the ground. Breaking wood boards in your garage before you went to Tae Kwon Do practice. The baseball games played while we crushed tennis balls onto the roof of the house across the street from yours. Drinking all of the Pepsi your parents bought from the store. The hours played on the Nintendo that we played Ken Griffey Jr. baseball, Golden Eye and Diddy Kong Racing. And of course winning a few championships in rec basketball together.

I could go on and on man.

I even followed you around like a little brother a lot, I bet.

You were fearless and did everything with such intensity. It’s always great to have a friend like that to show you how things should be done even though it isn’t until now that I admired that about you.

Though friends do sometimes come and go out of everyone’s lives, it was always a pleasure to bump into you. We would always have huge grins on our faces to the point where our eyes were barely noticeable, before we could even get words out of our mouths.

That smile and the fact that you were always laughing, I’m sure is what everyone misses most about you.

But you live on in all of the lives that you touched.

Without you, I honestly can’t imagine what growing up would have been like for me. I’m sure everyone in the neighborhood would agree too.

Hell we created a path with all of the foot traffic we did between our houses on a small section of woods just to cut a few houses out of our trip.

All in all, I guess what I wanted to say is thanks for everything and miss you man.

Passion + Compassion

Ever since I first read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and also when I first starting listening to motivational speeches, I heard about the concept that when you listen and follow what your heart is saying, the universe will open up to you and give you what you want.

And just like the last Steve Jobs quote I have in my Love What You Do post, you really do just have to trust that things will work out in your favor.

I left the newspaper job with no idea what I was going to do to hold me up financially down the road. While I was on one of my last lunch breaks at that job, I went to my YMCA for a workout class and noticed a sign that they were hiring for their Kids Program.

Without hesitation I applied. I pretty much had the interview on the spot and was offered the job right away. The hours are very flexible, allowing me all of the running/training time I want.

This was perfect for me and a great example of trusting that things will work if you just follow what your heart is telling you.

During the interview for the new job, I was asked why I wanted to work with kids.

I paused for a second trying to think of an honest answer beyond saying that I love working with kids.

I then told her that I wanted to work with kids because I truly wanted to inspire them and I wanted to have a positive impact on them.

After a few weeks, I can say that I absolutely love this job. I basically get to play my entire shift.

Though quickly I have found something that bothered me. But I don’t want the word ‘bother’ to mean something negative at the position. Maybe ‘moved’ is a better word, but let me explain.

I can’t go into full detail about this because of the safety of the children, but part of the Kids Program has to do with signing the kids out when someone comes to pick them up. Some of them, because of issues at home, have legal restrictions as to who can pick them up.

One day last week the staff was notified that a certain parent can no longer pick up their kids. It was officially a court order. I didn’t think much of it then in that moment.

But when all of the kids were dropped off by the bus, I noticed from one day to the next that a few kids seemed emotionally upset based on their actions that I witnessed. They were happy one day, then you could see the sadness in their eyes the next day. They started acting out uncharacteristically. Instinctively I put two and two together and realized that maybe kids lash out at times because of what they experience at home or what they go through in their personal lives. I started to really feel for them.

You can never judge a person because you have no idea what they are going through.

I really wanted to give them extra attention.

“Treat people with kindness because behind every face is a story that could use a little more love.” -Cheryl Richardson

I felt extremely empathetic and honestly I really wanted to give these two brothers a hug and tell them everything will be okay. I wanted to tell them that life can be tough at times, but you can’t let things beat you up and eat you up inside.

How can you convey that to someone who is under 10 years old though?

I seriously sat and thought about this question for about 30 minutes a few days after.

Maybe the only way to show the kids how to be happy, is to be happy myself in front of them. Smile as much as possible and laugh like there is no tomorrow.

Maybe the only way to show them that anything is possible, the only way to do your best, is to do what is absolutely possible and do my absolute best.

Teach by example.

I want to show these kids not only what hard work can do, not only what chasing your dreams will do, but also that there are highs and lows in life just like what I go through in races but you can only do your best, with the best attitude, and you only need to keep moving forward.

And if I want to lead by example, the only way I know how to do that is through my passions.

I want to dedicate my running and dream chasing to the kids of the world who have it tough at home. To all the people who are going through a difficult time in their lives. To the dreamers, doers and also the people who have something burning in them but need the courage to take the first step. For my friends and others who have died way too young. And for the people that never truly lived at all.

Just like the interview question, I want to inspire and have a positive impact on everyone around me.

“Somebody is learning how to be a person by watching you.” -Kid President

That day, when I noticed the emotions in those kids, one of the basketball goals in the gym was lowered to 7 feet or so. One after another I picked these kids up to dunk the ball. It was fun and seemed so simple but maybe I was doing more for them. Maybe I was showing them how great it feels to almost fly, to be lifted and do something they thought was impossible. Maybe that was their high point of the day or even week. Who knows?