Life, Dishwashers, and Friendships

First off, Happy Birthday to my daughter Stephanie. Please forgive me in advance if I embarrass you with this blog post. I am your Dad though and that’s in my job description. It’s been a long while since I’ve posted something on this blog. I’ve been kind of busy and didn’t really have anything to say.  This morning however I opened my dishwasher to get something out of it and unload it. I looked at the arrangement of the contents and was flabbergasted. I was in a state of anxiety and shock. For about one second! Keep in mind I have a system for loading my dishwasher. Plates and the containers I heat my lunches in go on the bottom arranged in nice symmetrical lines. Very orderly. I keep all the silverware nicely organized. Knives in their place. Spoons in their place. Forks in their place. The top is reserved for bowls, containers that won’t fit in the bottom and the lids for my lunch containers. This morning my dishwasher, which had clean dishes in it (of which I am very grateful to my daughter Stephanie for doing) was sheer chaos. Small plates were in the top. Large plates had other dishes in between them. Bowls were sporadically placed anywhere they would fit. Even my cutting board was in the dishwasher. (And it looked amazing by the way. Great idea Stephanie!) I was flabbergasted and as I said earlier that lasted about one second. In my 100 Questions of Transformation…

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Tigers and the MBTI-INFJ, Fitting In and Belonging


I made the attached picture my cover photo just before the Madison Half-Marathon at the beginning of November. I saw that picture and had a sudden surge of positive emotions. The message resonated with me as I was about to take on my second half-marathon. “Believe in Yourself.” I shared the picture on Facebook and eventually made it my cover photo. I’ve referred back to that picture often as I’ve struggled with issues over the last month and reassessed some things that have occurred in my life. “Believe in Yourself.” I don’t really like cats either, I’ve always been more of a dog person. If I were to choose an animal that I felt a strong association with it would have been the wolf. They are pack animals but it is believed that they mate for life, one of only a few animals that do so. When they lose their mate, they often become a lone wolf. I’ve felt like a lone wolf for a long, long time. However, I didn’t find a meme of a little puppy looking into a pool of water and seeing a large, majestic wolf with the title “Believe in Yourself”, so I was stuck with a cat/tiger meme! I’ve spent most of my life fitting in or at least trying to. Who doesn’t want to fit in, to belong. I was a shy kid, very introverted, but a good student in school. I did well in math and English. I enjoyed the rules of…

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Coffee, Perfectionism, and Failure


First off, I don’t really like coffee. I hate failure even more. Perfectionism, though, I’ve embraced like a warm blanket for most of my life. Brene Brown though calls perfectionism the 20 ton armor against vulnerability. Perfectionism has either led to or contributed to codependent behavior in my past marriages and stands in the way of me connecting with others. A friend sent me an article a few nights ago about how people who suffer from anxiety often are creative geniuses. It was her way of saying that she and I were both creative geniuses. I’m grateful for her friendship as well as the fact that she thinks I’m a creative genius. (Or was she just telling me that she was a creative genius?) In another conversation a few nights ago while I was discussing my totally failed attempt with the Whole 30 program, some one asked me “Don’t you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot.” I’m grateful she asked that question. On a morning run the next day, I gave those conversations some thought as I listened to “Paint it, Black” through “It’s My Life” on my lengthy running playlist. In the last two years. I have accomplished a lot physically. So I feel like I have control of my physical health. I’ve always thought I was intellectually capable so I don’t really struggle with my intellectual health. When it comes to the emotional aspects of life however and my emotional health, I struggle. I have a lot of…

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Life by the numbers


Do you remember those paint by the numbers sets? Do they even make those anymore? I don’t consider myself a painter but when I was younger I thought it would be cool to paint a beautiful picture that would hang up in some art museum somewhere for hundreds of years and inspire someone, anyone to do something wonderful with their life. While I didn’t paint that masterpiece, I was gifted with a couple of paint by the numbers kits when I was younger. If you’ve never seen a paint by numbers kit, it is a small 8″ x 10″ piece of white textured cardboard with blue lines all over it with numbers in the spaces and shapes between lines. There is also a small paintbrush and some paints. The most crucial piece to the paint by numbers is that there is a key that tells you what color each number is. Like 42 is blue. So in my meticulous mind (yes, even at 10 I was meticulous and thoughtful before doing almost anything) I examined the “canvas” and began looking for numbers. I would then pick a number and its corresponding color and I would begin. I would find that number everywhere on that canvas and I would paint as carefully as I could between the lines. As more colors were added to the canvas the picture, which before was just a bunch of squiggly lines and shapes on the cardboard, started to take on the semblance of a picture,…

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Disappointment and Expectation


A common theme for me recently, for most of my life actually, has been disappointment. If I’ve not been disappointed with myself about one thing or another, I’ve found plenty of reasons to be disappointed in other people. Recent therapy sessions have dealt with these feelings of disappointment and I’ve made a lot of progress. One of my favorite quotes (in the past) about disappointment and one I’ve felt very personally for a good many years is by Jodi Picoult. “Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” I’ve used that as justification for being isolated, alone, and disconnected from the world. I’ve always wanted to achieve lofty goals but at times it seemed, that no matter my effort, I always fell short. One of the most common sarcastic memes about dealing with disappointment, and we’ve all heard it at one time or another, is “The best way to deal with disappointment is to have no expectations!” While this works sometimes, it is only human to have expectations. In fact if someone has no expectations in life, I’m not sure how they could function. We have expectations for doing well in school. Some of us have expectations about doing well in athletics whether that is a team sport or an individual one like running. We have basic expectations that…

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The Magic of Transformation

This post is not to garner sympathy or admiration. It was inspired by a post of Curt Ehlinger’s a few days ago on World Suicide Prevention Day. It is merely my way of sharing how depression and anxiety can exist in someone who most people think has it all together all the time. My hope is that it provides someone some hope and a believe that they can change their lives. It’s a long read but I hope someone finds it worth it. The Winter Challenge of 2015 at Farrell’s was a magical time for me. Sometime in the fall of 2014 someone told me publicly in a Facebook post that “I was awesome and amazing.” That statement was a catalyst that ignited a fire in me. That statement had given me enough courage to try and be a coach and the Winter Challenge was my first. In a way, that ten week challenge was a crucible for a change that has been more powerful than my physical transformation. It was an emotional and joyous time but it was also a time of tears, grief, and depression. I had told myself that my second year in Farrell’s was going to be a time of emotional transformation. With any transformation, change is accompanied by pain with very few exceptions. This time was no exception My transformation had actually started with me taking charge of my health and joining Farrell’s the prior year. My ten week challenge was actually in the Winter…

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Dreams that aren’t even a speck on the horizon

Goals and dreams are important. It’s important to set realistic short term goals and achieve them to gain momentum to reach other, more lofty goals. Sometimes you have to set lofty goals however to reach lofty heights. Dreaming big requires you to set goals that result in others telling you that you are crazy if you think you can reach them. While some goals are like specks on the horizon, it’s okay to set some goals that seem so lofty they aren’t even specks on the horizon. Running is a sport that lends itself to goal setting and dreaming very well. I’m in my 50s and struggle with running. I seem slow at times. I call myself a turtle but I remember being faster. I can run a mile at a much faster pace than I can run a 5K or a 10K. Calculators based on my fastest mile time indicate I should be able to run a 5K or a 10K much faster than I have proven capable of so far. While I had many running goals, my main goals coming into this year were to run a 5K in under 30 minutes which I made known to running friends in the Dubuque Running Club and a 10K in under 60 minutes which I kept to myself. However I’m far from both goals at this time. Yesterday I ran a 10K race. That is 6.2 miles. It was my first race at that distance. I had this awesome thought…

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Successes and Failures

Today I completed a long run as I prepare for my first half-marathon on Labor Day Weekend. I ran 10.1 miles. When I say I ran 10.1 miles, I actually did run the entire 10.1 miles without any walk breaks. Prior to today, I’d never run more than 5-6 miles without stopping. I also had never completed a double-digit mileage run. On Thursday of this week, I had to walk several times during a 3 mile tempo run as knee pain forced me to stop and walk or risk injuring myself. I was not very happy with the tempo run and considered that run a small failure. I was ecstatic after this morning’s run and considered it a huge success. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, so I’ve struggled during my short running career after those failure runs. If you’ve done any running, you know what those runs are like. Your legs are leaden. Your lungs burn. Your quads, hamstrings, or calves burn (or all three) and throb with each step. You often finish the run slower that you started and are so glad the run is over. While you may not feel the greatest about yourself after these types of runs, you are at least glad that they are over and glad that you did them.

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