Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks/Giving: an UNnatural approach

I'd like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy this day off from work and the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and can find the time to sit down and consider all the things to be thankful for. Perhaps, a few laps around the Thanksgiving Dinner table sharing the same. I propose a different view/approach to Turkey Day: Thanks/Giving. With every Thanks, follow it with a way to give back. After all, without Giving by someone or something, we couldn't really be thankful for anything, could we? To stick to the principal of "practicing what you preach," I'll go first.

Disclaimer: in no particular order!

I am thankful for a beautiful wife and 2 beautiful daughters. In my line of work, I see a part of society every day that is lonely and without something this simple. A part of society with multiple physical/mental problems and hardly a soul who cares. I pray with my girls every night to be thankful for each, dad, a sister, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins...and the list goes on. We can't ever forget or take for granted the ones we surround ourselves with day in and day out.

I commit to give my full attention and love to my family and cherish every day I have on Planet Earth with them. I also commit to give compassion and caring to those not nearly as fortunate as me and serve them in any way I can. I also commit to impart this to my kids and raise them to always be thankful and to spread that around.

I am thankful that I have the God who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I may have eternal life one day. (oh boy, he's goin' religious!) Well yea, it's pretty hard to get by THANKSgiving Day and not thank the One who is the ULTIMATE Sustainer, Giver, and Forgiver. For it is He who started it all and sustains my every breath and waking moment. I am forever thankful for His blessings upon my life, my family's life, my country, and the world we live in. May we stop taking so much for granted that He has and continues to provide for us.

I commit to do my best to walk in His footsteps and live a life worthy of Him. Although impossible for any man or woman to achieve, I will strive to follow Him in every moment of every day. I commit to continue to be thankful for His creations every day and soak them up. Beautiful trails to run on, fresh air to breathe, and good health for myself and my family. All blessings to not take for granted.

I am thankful for family who lives so close. In the 21st century, many families are fractured and many live hundreds of miles or even thousands of miles apart. With the advent of technology, we can "feel" much closer but nothing replaces the physical. Little cousins getting to know and grow up with each other, brothers to support and know better as life happens, and parents to support and spend time with. All things that I am thankful for.

I will give my best to not let these relationships crumble and be unworthy and a failure. It is one thing to be thankful for something but then let it get stale and moldy like old, stinky cheese in the fridge. For something living and fluid like family, attention must be given to it. Attention in the form of time, listening, love, support, caring, and a "genuineness" that at times can be hard.

I am thankful for jobs for both myself and Marjie. Period. We now have jobs that in an economy where people are getting their hours reduced or losing their job altogether, we must be thankful each and every day for the privilege to go to work. As I heard many times this week on WCRF, 103.3FM, live every day with the motto: "Overflow with Thankfulness Everyday". Can you imagine what a different kind of world we'd live in if we all approached our each and every day like this? Sure, we shout out our thankfulness as we slip and slide over the Buckeye Trail while running with some of the best people around each Saturday morning, but what if we lived our "daily grind" every day like this? It would...and WILL change everything.

I commit to put a little sign up on my computer at work that says "Overflow with Thankfulness Everyday" when I get back to work on Monday. I will give my very best to my job and and give the very best service I possibly can to the ones I have been called to serve in the public.

I am thankful for the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. I am thankful for every man and woman who has served our great country in the past, present, and future and I salute them. I am also thankful for those in the service profession such as police and fire that protect us all right here in our hometowns. They have committed to put their lives on the line if duty calls so that we may live. I am also thankful that we have a fighting force today that is 100% volunteer. No one is forced to take the Oath and defend our country. I have heard that many view service today in the Armed Forces as support for the current War on Terror and for policies of the current presidential administration. Let me be clear on this one (for yes, it is a touchy subject for me!): I serve my country and have sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. My Commander-in-Chief is whoever is elected by the citizens of this country. I follow orders from this person regardless of their political slant or views. I gave up my "right" to not follow orders when I raised my right hand. With that said, please do not think a person in uniform supports any kind of campaign or war because he/she fights in it. It is service to Country, its Constitution, its Citizens, and upholding Freedom which drives us to lay down some of our rights and perhaps our life. My blood flows Red, White, and Blue...not Red OR Blue.

I will continue to serve my country selflessly without complaint or disregard for orders I have been given. I will do my best to represent myself and my country in such a way that is beyond reproach. I will continue to live the motto of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps: "Honor, Courage, Commitment" and uphold the Honor Code of a Naval Officer: "A Naval Officer Will Not Lie, Cheat, or Steal, nor Tolerate Those Who Do."

Lastly, I am thankful for the physical ability to run and run far. I am also thankful for some of the most beautiful places to run, mostly right here in northeast Ohio. I am also thankful for some of my very best friends that I now have as a direct result of a vibrant and growing running community here in NE Ohio. As I have contemplated in the past of different career paths, many options led me away from NE Ohio. Why not live in the warm south? Why not near a beach and crashing waves? Each time, it came down to family and for me personally, my relationships and friendships with the local running community. Believe it or not, at heart I am an introvert. I have never been one with one or multiple "best" friends or been in the "in" crowd. I've always just been one on my own on the outside. Fortunately, the running and ultra-running community is one where ALL are accepted, regardless of, well, everything. We're all the same out there. For that, I am forever thankful.

I will commit to do more to give back. I have now run 22 marathons and a good deal of ultra-marathons. I have volunteered very little. I did some in 2008 but commit to much more in 2009. I still want to run my favorite events, but I commit to do more in organization, publicizing, course marking/clean-up, and anything else I can do. I'll start that today at the Turkey Day 4-miler in Akron. I'm also going to be the newsletter editor for Western Reserve Trail Running which is really going to take off in 2009. Stay tuned for more details...but take it from me, our trail running community in NE Ohio is going to get a major "upgrade" in 2009! Very exciting times! I also hope to get more involved in the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run...not just running it, but helping out in any way I can. (even Marjie will be getting involved by volunteering at the Boston Store Aid Station...a good place for an Emergency Room nurse!) I also hope to help out Lloyd in the new Fools Day 50K on April Fools Day weekend. Let me encourage you to get involved and give back to our local running community. It is growing by leaps and bounds and I feel that we're just cracking the surface of what's to come.

Friends and Family, thanks for "enduring" my UNnatural approach to our beloved national holiday. I wish you the very best today and in the future. Remember, "overflow with thankfulness everyday!"

To you local runners...

Happy Trails!

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