Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Faith, Fitness and Family

I'm inking this post from a comfy chair at my daughters' orthodontist. Child #2 gets her braces on today. Child #1 gets them off in a few months. So with the ending of one payment plan begins another but I'm thankful for that. Thankful for non-overlapping bills and a little bit of insurance to ease the burden of a costly service. So, while she gets the metal in her mouth, a few minutes here to catch up.

Only a few more weeks and another birthday rolls in. It'll be my 43rd year of completion on this earth and to me, it's just another day. Seriously, I'm good with a birthday kiss from my bride and perhaps one of my favorite craft brews at dinner and I'll be good. Many say that "age is just a number" but in my opinion,  it means a lot more to folks. It's used as an excuse, a point of complaint, often hidden and considered "private" but really, it just is. We all grow older by the moment and really, it's just a number. To let it define you, your limits, your "whatever" is to hold yourself back!

March 23rd...2016. It's amazing to me to think that 5 years ago, I was about to head on over to Afghanistan. Thanks to Facebook's "On This Day" feature, I get reminded of that daily, how I felt moving towards the day and forced to reflect on the "me" of 2011 vs. the me of now. Like I tell many, perhaps I'll write a book on that journey but suffice to say for now, it has been filled with the lowest of lows along with some incredible highs. Today, though, it has taught me to live in the NOW, capitalize on TODAY, love those around me NOW and never let a kiss go un-given, a hug not shared or the sun to go down on emblazoned debate. It has taught me to not count on tomorrow and to be the best version of all the knowledge and resources I have before me.

Faith: If you asked me when I became a Christian, I'd tell you something like: "Well, I was 5 years old, WKRP in Cincinnati was on the TV, and I was eating a bowl of buttered rice at the table in our modest home in Canfield, OH." That's really my recollection! I was raised in a Christian home, attended church my entire upbringing, was active in the youth groups of many churches, attended summer camps, and in all, I was a pretty good kid. To this day, I have never touched, let alone smoked (or whatever) an illegal drug. I kept clean, got good grades, and had parents that provided a safe and stable home to grow up in. Faith, though, or my religion never really matured. I definitely had the mouth of a sailor in the 90s and I led my home/marriage the best I could. We were active in using our talents for music and we were always engaged in groups within the church. It wasn't until late in 2011 (just after my return from the desert 10,000 miles away) where my faith was put to the test. It was a fork in the road of sorts and I could either say "I'm done with you, God." or fully devote myself to Him, let Him take the lead, and in turn, lead my wife and family. I chose the latter and I'm living testament to an awesome God who just never fails me. I really despise the term "religion" and the societal rules it has forced into our country and world. Instead, I am a Christian with a heavenly Father who is my all in interceder, my leader, the one I talk to first when I wake up, and my protector. When the crap hits the fan, I know "He's got me" and won't let me go. There is great peace to quite literally KNOW Him and cast all the worries of this life on Him and let Him lead instead of me. There really isn't anything comparable in this world.

Pre-November 2014
Fitness: Back in 1997, I ran my first marathon and for the next 17 years, that's all I did. It began with marathons but then upon our move to Ohio in 2002, the taste for trail-running was sparked and ultra running followed soon thereafter...and eventually a few 100-mile races in 2009. It wasn't that I grew tired of running or hated it, but I was tired of hurting...and aching. I was also tired of never looking different in the mirror. I thought "How could I run 200+ miles per month yet never lose a pound, an ounce of fat, or even look anything but sedentary?" I wanted a change so I accepted the invitation from friends of ours to try CrossFit. That was November 4, 2014. In the beginning, I still ran but cut the mileage way back because too much mileage made me too sore to really give it all in the gym. Fast forward to today and I might run 10-20 miles a month now...max. I find it hard to still call myself a runner but my body still remembers it and when I do head out, it's all groovy! I love it. But, the fire that burned bright before that pushed me out into the dark at 4:30am most days is all but snuffed out.

Today, I truly feel like I am in the best shape of my life. I could never do a dip, a pull-up, climb a rope or lift much of anything heavy. I can do that and a lot more AND I can often hold my own with those half my age. The long-distance running part of me (aka: endurance) helps me often for those long, grueling workouts where others just want to die and give up. The "engine" is my ace in the overall strength is ironically my weakness and kryptonite. But since 2014? It is far better and greater as indicated in the current CrossFit Games Open competition that I am a part of. The photo here is from last Saturday and was captured part of the way through 55 dead lifts at 225 pounds. I could lift that a year ago but there is no way I could've done it 55 times. My daily grind is overall positive but I still fight myself and my shortcomings. I have always been and always will be very, very hard on myself and unfortunately, those around me just don't get it. They perceive a bad attitude, a desire to not be there, a "whatever." The truth is, I love pushing myself hard and seeing/feeling change. It's not one of vanity to show off, but feeling good in my own skin and accomplished. I still look like a goof in so much I do but my heart is fully in it. I'm not sure where the future is headed here. I know I love it and I won't stop doing it. The rest is a blank slate.

Before I close the book on fitness, I would be remiss if I didn't share a little something with you. You probably know I recently got into rucking and GORUCK via the local Cleveland Area Rucking Crew and had signed up for my inaugural event over July 4th weekend on July 1st in Cleveland. Well, I dove a little more head first into that world by signing up for a triplet of sorts dubbed the HTL. In June, I will head to Detroit, MI for a 3-event series that begins with the GORUCK Heavy, followed by the GORUCK Tough and then finally the GORUCK Light. If you really want to know the "suck" factor here, just click on the hyperlinks you just read over in the preceding sentence. In a nutshell, the Heavy will be 24+ hours and cover 40+ miles. A special forces guy will lead it (aka: cadre) along with Old Glory and it'll be all about team and not quitting. Of course, I will always be carrying my 30 pound ruck on my back. A few hours after finishing, I'll do the Tough event  which will be 10-12 hours and cover 15-20 miles. After that, it's onto the Light that will be 4-5 hours and cover 7-10 miles. No sleep. No quitting. 3 patches.

Family: While faith has to come first, family is as tight a second place as it can be. My focus to keep my marriage alive, fresh, fun, selfless and loving is laser-focused. Who says 23+ years has to be boring, dull and meh?! I think my bride would agree that through our journey, we are closer than ever and stronger than ever. While we have had our bumps, bruises and near total collapses, we have made it to this point. I read something this morning about the enemy (aka: devil, Satan, evil)...if you hear him talking, he's lying! It's so true! He is a king, for sure...the king of lies and deception. The sooner you realize that and who is talking, the sooner you can be set free from it and call it for what it is every time he comes around.

Being a father also is a challenge to say the least! I swear they are a sponge for everything! Our youngest said something last night and while it wasn't a cuss word and I have certainly said it, it should not come out of her mouth! LOL! I kindly told her "You really can't say that." (insert chuckle) But, I will continue to do my best by them and hopefully, we'll stay close for a lifetime and they'll always know that I love them no matter what and through anything life deals them.

In closing, I'll just say that things are good. Change is constant. There are many knowns and unknowns in the near and distant future but as long as I keep priorities in check, be passionate about all that I do, and never compromise who I am, it'll all work out as it should. I just gotta remember to smile thing that doesn't come natural for me! "I promise...I'm not angry!!"

Go be epic, friends!


Tammy K. said...

Smiling is a good thing. Giggling is even better. But getting "Tickled Pink" and all out laughing is the best!! Great post, Nick.

Chuck said...

Sir! You are an inspiration and I am so glad that God has mixed our lives together!!