Tag Archives: happiness

Facing The Darkness

Last year I wrote Running From The Darkness and opened up about my struggle with finding meaning in my life and dealing with low thoughts of self worth and depression. It took a lot for me to write that and to be completely vulnerable to the world. Now, I have come full circle.

Prior to moving to Durango, my experience with meditation was very minimal. It was inconsistent and I only went for 10 minutes at a time. I mainly did it before bed to relax, reduce stress and to sleep better. Little did I know I was just skimming the surface.

When I first got to my new town, I discovered that there was a meditation center and a few nights out of the week there were group meditation sits. Usually they last as long as 45 minutes and then the leader does a talk afterwards.

If you haven’t meditated before or if you are new to it like myself, 45 minutes is a long ass time to be completely alone in your head. Sometimes my mind is going 100 mph and sometimes my mind is completely clear. Sometimes I am in complete bliss and sometimes I am digging deep in the dark corners that have been tucked away my entire life.

Meditation and mindfulness is not just about finding positivity in yourself and the world around. Part of it is about becoming aware of negative thoughts and emotions too.

When you become more mindful you begin to ask yourself why you do what you do, why you say what you say and why to think the way you think. It’s almost like a way of asking yourself, who am I?

A lot of the things we tell ourselves, whether good or bad, are from a lifetime of experiences and somehow we have become conditioned to think that way.

For some reason, I was conditioned to think that I was worthless, that my life had no meaning and I wasn’t happy. Maybe those feelings were rooted in my lack of finding meaningful work that I loved and/or from all of my failed relationships.

I truly believed all of the negativity I was feeding myself.

I used my passion of running to push all of that aside and to chase a life of happiness. I was running from myself and the darkness. It was a quick fix, but no matter how far I ran it would always be with me.

“You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.”

Lately I have been working on personal compassion. Compassion towards the world was one thing that I felt when I first began a consistent meditation practice. But I can be my own worst enemy and I wantedto dive into that area of my mind head on.

How I did that was with words of positive affirmations. After a few sits, I could tell a slight shift in my outlook on myself, but I knew there was more that I could do.

About 2 weeks ago, I was meditating and I realized that there was something that I have never said to myself.

The words “I love you” came out and I honestly couldn’t hold back the tears.

It felt like I finally saw myself as someone deserving of my own compassion and love. I was beginning to accept myself as someone who I would in normal life, like a friend or a loved one.

It was a relief to hear myself say those things to myself. Like I had been waiting all of my life to hear those words from me.

I continued with this practice and again, I didn’t realize there was a depth even further.

Last night, while at the group meditation we were doing a guided meditation. We were asked to think about someone who we are envious of and then we told to realize that we are all the same in that we share the same air, the same gravity, the same world. It doesn’t matter what others have or what other do.

We are all equals in this world.

Then the leader of the mediation said, “you are good enough.”

My internal armor dissolved.

Tears welled up and then they flowed down my face and I couldn’t hold them back.

She said it again and I felt free from myself. Free from all of my self hate that I had tucked away. Free from the shit I was running away from. I finally felt like me.

I was liberated from the internal cage I built inside as I struggled with life after graduating college. I finally felt like I deserved everything that there is good in life.

Later in the mediation she said “sometimes meditation is about going into the darkness with a flashlight, not about pushing it away.”

Last weekend’s race at Antelope Canyon was the first race I did after starting to be more compassionate with myself and it was the most enjoyable race I have ever done. I was solely running for the love of running. I wasn’t running for a certain time or for a certain place. I ran for the passion and not to try to make myself feel worthy and deserving of myself. I ran because I loved it. I ran free.

There is a reason why I wanted to share this with everyone. And it also goes with why I try to inspire everyone to follow their hearts. I believe part of my life’s purpose is to translate my experiences to everyone, so that they are inspired to take a chance at the life they want deep down.

So here is my message to everyone and I won’t stop reiterating it:

You are good enough. You are capable of amazing things and you deserve everything that your heart desires. You are beautiful. You are incredible. You are better than you think you are.

You are alive for a reason and that reason it to do amazing things. We have one chance at life, so go fucking for whatever it is that you want. Go for it. Like, right now.

There is that saying that “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” Well majority of the world is living as if they’re at the destination. Just sitting, coasting by and not truly living. They’re already dead. If it’s about the journey, then make it a journey. Doing something you hate everyday isn’t a journey, it’s a death sentence.

Wake up. Be alive. Be mindful of the world around you. Smile more. Taste this wonderful life. Appreciate everything around you. Be grateful to be alive. Wake up excited everyday. Take chances and take pictures. Dance and sing. Be free. Travel. Make mistakes. Learn and grow. Open your heart. Write your own story.

Do the world a favor and just be you.

The things you want are just on the other side of fear that you’ve made up in your mind. I have been on my path for a few years now and I can only say that it is fucking wonderful to see the world the way that I do. Don’t let others hold you back and don’t let yourself hold you back.

When you follow your heart, you meet the most beautiful people and go to the most beautiful places.

Go live. Chase your dreams. Follow you heart. Never stop living.

I know I still have a long way to travel down my road. I just hope you have the courage to travel down yours.

Much Needed

“Movement is the essence of life.” -Bernd Heinrich

Over the last few days I have noticed, from a mental standpoint, how much I need running in my life. I have been witness to a slight deterioration in mental health that I believe to be a result from simply not running. Not moving.

For a few days, I almost felt more lost in life than if I were to actually be lost on a run.

It’s too easy to say what your love is when you have it. But it’s not until you don’t have it, that you realize how much you really need it and appreciate it. Because what you love is part of your identity.

It’s your life.

Your passion is essential to your life. As much as food, water and shelter.

I guess all of this answers if I am mentally ready to get back into running.

I have taken two weeks off from running and the fact that I moved to a trail running town, have combined to create a longing to get back to running.

I recently read in a book, about doing what you love and finding out what motivates you (I believe it is called Drive), that you should take a note card. On the front of it write the answer to the question, “What makes you excited to get up in the mornings?” On the back of it write the answer to the question, “What keeps you up at nights?”

And if you ever feel that life isn’t what it should be, then you remind yourself of your answers and do more of those things.

Running with the sunrise is my answer to the first question.

Though I did not get up that early today, I did begin my recovery process with a short run then a long morning hike. My happiness rebounded from the expansive views, fresh air and great company I had along the way.

And as I look back to earlier in the day, it was perfect and exactly how I wish to spend all of my days.

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Expect and Accept

I have heard many times before, and can completely agree with, that if you lower your expectations you will enjoy experiences more and your happiness will be lifted.

A great example of this, I am sure most of us have noticed, comes from watching movies. We have all seen a movie that we were in the least bit impressed with but everyone we know made it feel like we were about to watch the greatest movie in cinematic history. And have all seen a movie that we knew absolutely nothing about prior to watching it but it turned out being a movie you could place into your top 10 movies of all time.

I think that I need to take this approach with myself when it comes to running ultras. Go into them with an open mind. Not with an exact outcome in mind.

After my last race, as I mentioned in the race report, I was a little frustrated with my results. But I had zero reasons to feel that way.

During my drive home that day, I even screamed at the top of my lungs (like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50) hoping to rid myself of all of the unnecessary and negative emotions. And right when I did this I thought about what Ray Lewis said to during a pregame speech to the Stanford basketball team.

“If you ain’t pissed off for greatness, that means you’re okay with being mediocre.”

For some reason, that gave me personal reassurance my feelings were valid.

And in that moment I became at ease, at peace and had more of an acceptance for what was to come.

I think it is paramount that we expect greatness from ourselves with our goals and passions. From that expectation, we strive to become our best we can possibly be. And when you are your best, you can feel satisfaction.

I have been preparing and training myself to be my best self for my next big race. And with that, I can dissolve my expectations and just do the best I can do.

I’m not really sure that even makes sense.

By preparing to be your best and by expecting your best self, you can drop your overall expectations because you know that you did everything you can to be your best on a given day, race or whatever you do.

And with the elimination of expectations of a certain event, you accept how things will unfold for you.

You can accept everything with happiness, gratitude and an understanding from an open mind.

I feel that this is where my mind is right now. Even though I still have about 2 and a half weeks left of running to do before the Bighorn 100, I feel that the physical training is complete. I am not in taper mode just yet, but I think I am at the point where I am maintaining fitness. I have trained with high expectations of myself, now though, I can accept that what is done, is done.

With that, I can set my mind at ease knowing that no matter what the results may be on race day, I will feel nothing but satisfaction and happiness.

Mountain Calling

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” -Jim Carrey

I had a huge week of training this week. I covered about 110 miles total. It was my first time ever running over 100 miles in a week.

I had two awesome back to back long runs over the weekend. Went 25 on Saturday where I ran up Grouse Mountain. Felt great to dig deep with drool all over my face hammering up the switchbacks. And Sunday I did 21 along a long and windy dirt round at the base of the mountains.

Probably some of my best runs and in some of the most beautiful and scenic area.

I love it here.

And I finally feel content.

Ever since college the mountain west has been calling to my heart. I satisfied that urge temporarily with a few cross country road trips, but once the excitement of those faded, there was always that temptation to move somewhere out there.

It wasn’t until the other day that I realized that my heart has been quiet. Not burning to do what is what screaming at me to do.

There were days this week that I felt pure happiness and satisfied. After running during the morning hours I spent that rest of the days reading, writing, listening to music or doing a puzzle. Might sound extremely boring to many but I loved every minute of those days.

Yeah I am getting sick of eating PB&Js every day and pasta just about every night, but I am doing what I love doing. Living in the mountains, chasing my dreams of winning ultra marathons, writing and working with kids.

I know it’s a constant theme in my writings, but follow your heart. You get one life, make it amazing.

Success

When I returned home from Wyoming, I had to move back home with my parents because my apartment lease ended at the end of the summer while I was working in Wyoming. My Dad is retiring from his job that he has had for 39 years in just a week and as of right now, the house is going up on the market in a few days and my parents are moving to the north Georgia mountains. Which left me with having to do some massive cleaning of my stuff before the realtor comes to take pictures.

I honestly have never really done a huge clearing of my things so the task was hefty. My room looked like an absolutely disaster with things from every apartment I’ve had. And books, papers and projects dating back to my college and my early high school days. My closet was the worst part and I dreaded having to clean up that dusty mess of crap.

While I was cleaning my closet though, I came across a folder that was for my high school senior letters. Not sure if every school did this or not, but we had a day that we rehearsed our upcoming graduation then everyone received a folder that had letters written by family, friends, teachers and anyone else that wanted to commemorate our graduation.

I actually remember this day very well. I remember seeing everyone’s folders thick with letters spilling out. And I felt some embarrassment because mine was thin. No more than three or four letters in mine. I reread one of them and don’t even remember the person who wrote that one. And one was from a best friend’s mom and another was from my math teacher that year.

My friend’s mom mentioned in her letter how I was always great to have around because I smile and laugh so much. Which actually made me smile. My math teachers’ letter is what hit me though.

It starts out with the question, What is success?

Then this quote.

“What is success?
To laugh often and much.
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends:
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by
A healthy child, a garden patch
Or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed
Easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This really made me think about my life. What I’ve accomplished, what I’ve failed at, where I’ve been and who I’ve met along the way. The ups and downs. And the highs and lows. The last few lines are what really hit home for me too. Have I succeeded? Have I lived? And have I had that type of impact on someone?

Before I read this quote and what the teacher said in her personal note, I wouldn’t have thought of my life as a success. And to be even more honest, I have struggled with my self-worth ever since I graduated from college.

I think it’s because I have had a hard time finding work that I don’t view as work. Finding my career calling as I would like to have it. I also have intense feelings of being lost in this world. Like I have no idea where I should go or what I should be doing and feeling completely helpless. I have felt out of place many times and I have felt completely worthless. I often find myself questioning my purpose and role in this world.

Nothing has been completely fulfilling for me. Like what I was doing wasn’t serving a purpose for myself or even anyone else. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I’m broke or live at home with my parents or not happy because I’m not exactly in my dream future. I can be really hard on myself at times and these negative feelings I believe has put me in a mild depression at certain times in my life.

I’ll be the first one to admit that a lot can hide behind a smile. As happy as I can appear at times, sometimes what goes on in my head isn’t very healthy for me. My recent girlfriend once told me while we were driving back from spending the day in Fort Collins Colorado, that I took so sad when I’m not smiling. Without feeling or seeing my life’s purpose sometimes is depressing for me, for some reason. And when I smile or laugh, I often forget about the inner struggle of mine. Those are my moments of escape. So she was right at that moment.

But on the other side of things, this has pushed me to do my best. It has made me an inward thinker and reflect on things I need to work on and improve upon. I feel I have become a better person because of it. It has also made me beyond grateful for the little things in life. It has taught me a lot about myself and has made me realize that I don’t need much to be happy.

A lot of times I question why I do the things I do. I think the main reason I do long endurance events is because of my feelings of worthlessness and feelings of being lost. Training and doing the races I have done, have really only been what’s made me not feel useless. Now I know I shouldn’t think like that because there is way more to my life. Things that I can be blind to during moments of darkness.

The letter continues on and she says,
“When you look back on your years in high school, I hope you will have fond memories. But, I also hope you don’t look back on these days as ‘the best days of your life.’ There is an exciting world out there ready for you to make your mark. I hope you find your inspiration and share that with anyone who will listen. You are the future. Make a difference. Be a success.”

Ever since I have returned home from Wyoming, a lot of people mentioned to me that I have done more in the last 4-5 months than most people have or will ever do in their lives.

Laying in bed last night, I thought of everything I’ve done the last few months. Everything I’ve done and accomplished. Everything I’ve seen. And everyone I have met. Replaying all that took place in my head, made me think I was watching a movie. It made me feel very satisfied and grateful. It even put a huge grin on my face and laugh in pure contentment.

The past few weeks of being home, I haven’t felt very great because of the complete uncertainty that lays ahead for me. The feelings of being lost have come back and I have no idea what I’m doing. But now I feel okay about it. I even feel excited and anxious about what the future brings. I think it’s natural to feel down after returning from a long adventure. But I have to remember that once one ends, a new journey will begin shortly.

So, what is success?

I have no idea if I have made the world any better than when I first entered. I have no idea if I have earned appreciation of critics or from anyone really. And I have no idea if someone has breathed easier because of me. But I do know that I can now smile from all that I have experienced. I know that I am happy with the way things are because life has been an amazing trip so far. And I do know that all of my ups and downs in life are because I have truly lived. And because of this I do feel I have some worth for the world and I have succeeded so far.

Everyone wants something different out of their lives. But no matter what you want, I think if you are happy, you have succeeded. If you are grateful for and content with your life experiences, then you have succeeded. If you surround yourself with wonderful people, they will make you feel you have succeeded. And I think that if you can look back on your life and smile, then you have succeeded.

Not matter what you do, where you are or who you are with, you are touching more lives than you think. That is success.

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
-Abraham Lincoln