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Friday, October 27, 2017

Our Story.. My version

So, as I was writing a submission for a wedding publication, I thought I would share it with you guys as well. So, here is our story......

"Our love story started with a meeting that would change both our lives. I was new in town and didn't know a soul. I met Jackie through a guy I was with at the time. I was in my 30s with two kids. I had never been in a relationship with a woman. I had spent my entire adult life married to a man. But, the day I met her, I swear lightning struck.
We went from strangers, to acquaintances, to friends, within no time. The more I got to know her the more I couldn't get enough of her. Fast forward through some really messy and awful breaks ups in both our lives, we thought we would give it a whirl. I was pretty clueless when it came to dating anyone, much less a woman. But I jumped in with both feet.  I was head over heels and I fumbled my way through the first days of our relationship completely inexperienced. But, I would spend the rest of my life figuring it out, just to get to kiss her lips or feel her touch.
You know, it's amazing how you read and hear songs about someone lighting a fire inside of you or butterflies; you never consider for a second that mumbo jumbo is real. But, it is. Since I met her, I have experienced every love song, every poem and then some. I never knew a love like this was even possible.
After knowing deep down in my bones she was all I was ever going to want, I decided I to commit myself to Jackie in every way possible. I planned for months how to do it, what the ring would look like and what I would say. I played every scenario out in my head. We had talked about marriage in the past, and it was something she had never really thought was for her. So, I went into my proposal thinking, she may very well say no and tell me to hit the road. Let me tell you, I am terrible at keeping secrets and being sneaky. I blush like a school girl and cannot tell a lie to save my life, so I knew hiding this from her would be a challenge. But, I knew I wanted to be the one to ask. So I did, Christmas of 2016, I got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life as my wife. She said yes. I felt absolute joy in that moment.  
Now, the planning began. We looked at colors, we looked at venues, and we made guest lists. We started buying table arrangements and making invitations and it became stressful. So, one night cuddled up on the couch scouring through Pinterest, we decided we were going to make this about us. We decided we were going to elope.
Jackie was in the Navy and had been all over the world. I had not even been to the west coast, so I had no idea where to even begin looking. We looked at all of the countries we actually could get married and started narrowing down the list. I think the final decision came down to Jackie finding me a race to run in the right time frame. So, Iceland it was!
Once we picked the country, I immediately started researching what paperwork was needed and what the process was to legally get married in another country. After emails and lots of internet reading, I found out what we needed to have and the required time period we needed to be in the country before the ceremony. The paperwork was not fun, but the Iceland government was so wonderful by being very specific about their requirements. Finally, after a lot of work, everything was a go.
We arrived 7 days before our planned ceremony, to allow the proper timeline for the documents Iceland needed. We spent those days sight-seeing in the most beautiful country. Words cannot describe the beauty of Iceland. During our entire trip, we stayed in contact with our celebrant, Helga. She found an isolated and breathtaking spot for the ceremony, and even recommended a fantastic local photographer who captured the wedding.  I will caution those who plan to elope though, getting married in a foreign country you have to be flexible. Like any other wedding day, things will go wrong. Being unfamiliar with the area our ceremony was being held, we spent the first several hours of our wedding day in the car just trying to reach our destination. We dressed in a museum bathroom and I purchased and created my flower arrangement with flowers from a local grocery store. The day was a blur but it was magical. I wouldn’t change a thing about that day for the world because on July 17th, 2017, I married the love of my life.

And they lived happily ever after…. "

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

First isn't always the best

Divorce is an ugly and catastrophic personal experience. In the thick of divorce, you get a glimpse behind the curtain and see people's true selves. If you have been there, you know the destruction two people can do to one another. But despite the tears and screaming matches, you can survive divorce and actually find happiness. You have to find a way to let go of the past and move forward; learning from what you have been through. The next relationship will be scary, the possibility of finding a happily ever after will be dismal. But you will. Finding happiness is worth the risk of letting someone in.

I have had conversations with people who survived divorce, and most say they would never do it again. They would never put themselves through that again. How incredibly sad. Since, I have withstood divorce and came out on the other side, I thought I would give you a few reasons why you shouldn’t give up on love or marriage after divorce.

Here are 8 reasons your second marriage is better than your first…

1.      You are older and wiser.
      Most (but, definitely not all) of us grow wiser as we get older. We go through periods of self-exploration and personal growth.  Eventually figuring out who we are meant to be. When I got married the first time, I didn’t know who I was. I honestly didn't have a clue about the person I would become in the next 10 or 15 years. As I have gotten older, I have started to figure it out. Learning more about myself has made me a wiser person who knows what I want in life. You shouldn't be afraid of growth, you and your partner should grow together and you realize that the second time around.

2.      You know what you want out of a partner.

You aren't looking for someone who is perfect and without flaws. By now, you have found out there is no such thing. Now you know what you can live with and what you can't live without. So, by the time the second marriage rolls around, you know what kind of person you want to marry. You know what things you want out of your spouse. You have higher standards and don't want to marry someone who you aren’t willing to spend your life with.

3.      You know what marriage is like; the good, bad and the really ugly.

Having survived divorce, you know every day isn’t going to be daisies. You are fully aware there will be days when you fight and don't get along. There are days you have to put in more effort. There are days you are in complete bliss. The difference is, this time around you begin your marriage without rose colored glasses. You ditch the unrealistic promises and you look at one another on your wedding day and promise to endure the good and the bad that you know is inevitable. You go into your second marriage wide awake and ready.

4.      You have figured out marriage is a choice.

You have lived the struggle, you have been through the worst case relationship scenario. So, you begin your second marriage knowing love is a choice. You know you have to show up every day and make the choice to be there in every way for your spouse. Marriage is waking up every day of your life together and choosing your spouse. Through the fights and stubbornness and everything in between, you still promise to choose them every day.

5.      You are more yourself.

One thing I have realized through the whole messy process of divorce is the fact that I don't know if my ex really ever knew me as a person. When I first got married, I was 18 years old and a kid.  I was completely naive about what loving someone really meant. I tried very hard for a long time to be who he wanted me to be and not who I actually was. I hid parts of myself that he didn't like and felt like being me wasn't okay. This time around I am completely myself. I went into this marriage not being afraid to be who I am. At this age, you know who you are and you want someone who is going to love you for you. Love is genuine and real the second time around.

6.      You know you can't change your spouse.

I'm sure you tried the first go round and look how that turned out? People are who they are, they change and grow but, essentially if someone is an ass, they will always be an ass. You can’t always mend the broken and you can't make someone grow a heart. Your second marriage, you have to take on what you can handle. You stop assuming it's going to get better because marriage can be ugly. Marry the person you want to go through the ugly with.

7.      You know how hard THE END really is.

You have survived the death of a marriage and because of that, you begin this marriage with the confidence that you will give it everything you have to never be there again. You know the pain of divorce and you know what happens if you don't give your spouse your all every day. Having lived through divorce you can really really appreciate marriage.

8.      Marriage #1 changed you.

Not in a good or bad way but, just in general. You look at life different now and that's okay. You have seen how awful people can be and how someone you promise to love can be your complete demise. You have seen what happens when people get lazy, or people stop trying. You have seen more than some have and it changes you. Let that change help you grow and move forward. 

I know not every scenario ends this way. But, I grew up a child of divorce and I have seen first marriages fall to shreds. Hell, I lived through it. But, I have also seen first marriages go the distance. My point is, just because your marriage failed does not in any way make you incapable of love. Divorce doesn't mean you won't get your happily ever after, on the contrary. Now, you know how to fight for your happily ever after every day.  Like all experiences in life, you learn from the bad parts of your life and you move on. Don't give up on how amazing happily ever after can be. 

My happily ever after...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blessed are the meek

Image result for beatitudesI can remember as a child, going to bible school at church and hearing the Beatitudes. I can hardly remember any of them but one has always stayed with me, "blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth".


Coming from someone who has been cursed with meekness, this is a complete load of poo. Being meek is what I have fought my life to overcome. You see, I have a natural disposition to make people happy. I want to please everyone and will do this to my demise. Every relationship in my life has been this way. But, if there is one thing that has come out of this god awful divorce, it's the fact that I am learning how to put my meekness aside and be more assertive. This fight that has been going on for the last year over child support, custody and parenting plans has completely zapped the little angel that sat on my shoulder. Pretty sure the little red horned guy gave her the boot once I paid the retainer for my attorney. No matter how much I try to compromise and try to keep things peaceful, I get knocked back down. I'm so beyond sick of the score keeping and fights over the tiniest things. I swear to god this has become a "mine is bigger than yours" competition. Every decision is an act of congress and both parties end up being a loser because it's impossible to make both sides happy all the time. Meekness, bye bye. I have got a good hard lesson on how to assert myself, the hard way. Maybe there is a silver lining in all clouds.  I'm learning how to speak up for myself on a pretty regular basis.

I have always called my meekness a lot of things trying to church it up a bit; empathetic, optimistic, good at compromise but honestly, it's just my inability to assert myself. I have finally started figuring out thanks to pure necessity. You can only push someone so far. I have stopped being the martyr and just saying "yes" and "sure". I have learned to say "no" and "I want". If you are meek like me and are going through or have been through a divorce you know what I am talking about. Both parties have to compromise but don't let it get to the point where you are always the one bending over backward. Don't be the person to eat crow in every situation. This is the time, more than any other, to say what you want.  It's your life, and if there are kids involved it's their lives too. Yes, you have to figure out a way to have a business relationship with the other parent but, do not do it at the expense of your sanity. You have to live with the outcomes and decisions you make. You have to see past the immediate battle and look toward the future. You know what you want and what you can handle. Don't let the fear and anxiety control your conversations. You are stronger than you think and the worst thing that could happen is a fight, but if your situation is anything lie mine, that is going to happen regardless.

I know being meek is always going to be apart of my personality; I see it in my oldest son and I feel so bad for him knowing how much of his life will be spent being stepped on and taken advantage of and I hope he can overcome it.

I don't want to sound like its the worst thing ever because I think being a little meek and humble is what makes you kind; but I also think its very easy to spend your life doing things you don't want with people who take advantage of you because of your meek nature. Walk the line between kind and strong. I'm learning the hard way but like all things in my life, better late than never.

Image result for strength

Sunday, October 8, 2017

First Ultra Marathon Recap

I am the kind of person who enjoys pushing limits. I have slowly through the years set goals and completed them only to turn around and set another bigger goal. This year my goal was to finish an ultra. For those of you who don't know an ultra marathon is any race past the 26.2 mile marathon distance. I have been training and trying since January to complete this goal. It has been a tough year physically and mentally for me and running. After being pulled and getting a big fat DNF in Iceland, I went into my 40 miler this weekend completely terrified. I didn't know if I could do it, I didn't know if I was ready and I was so afraid  I would fail again. The mental monsters that invade after not finishing something you work so hard for are hard to explain to anyone who hasn't been there. To sum it up, I put a lot of pressure on myself.

My training for this race has honestly not been the best, life got in the way big time. I missed far too many long runs and even some weekly miles and I was sweating it come taper time. I went 30 miles at one point during the training. I didn't know if that was too much or not enough.  I had just happened to piece a training plan together based off a 50K plan and tweaked some things here. I was clueless if the miles were even going to be enough. Come race day though, I just showed up and hoped for the best.

Here is my recap:

4:00 AM- Alarm clock goes off. Oatmeal and half a cup of coffee goes down; poop comes out. Thank goodness. Clothes on, race number pinned and running shoes laced up ready to go. I kiss all the important people in my life and hit the door toward the race.

6:00 AM- Race begins in the dark. My third time running with a headlamp in complete darkness, it made the beginning of the race even more exhilarating. The race is 3 loops around a 13.1ish mile trail. The trail cuts in and out of Barkcamp State Park and it is by far one of my most favorite places in the world. It's where I started my trail running fun and where I always look forward to running. First loop I kept myself slow and easy, felt good. I drank my water, ate my clif shots, drank my Gatorade and enjoyed 60 degree temps. Since there was around 16 runners who were running the ultra I enjoyed solitude for a good portion of the entire race.

9:00 AMish- Loop 1, done. Start lap 2 of 3 around the course. I knew I had to stay pretty steady as I had to be finished by 1 with the second loop, to be able to continue. I still felt good, I was eating and drinking. The ascents were starting to hurt, the temps were starting to climb but I kicked on my audible to keep myself mentally in the game. I lost myself for a while listening to the book and just trudging a long. The end of this loop got hard. I mentally struggled to keep going. I battled with myself because my head kept making excuses of why I should quit when I reach the end of this loop.  But, I made it to 26.2 within the time constraint. I got to the bag drop. I changed my shoes. I ate a pb&j and set off, giving my head a big giant eff you in the process.

1:00 PMish- Oh god it started out hard. I immediately regretted changing shoes. I went from Hoka's that are like little pillows on your feet to a neutral shoe; stupid mistake. My feet ached and they didn't the rest of the race. At the start of this loop, it was hot out. I was sweating and losing salt at an insanely fast rate. I drank my Gatorade I had packed in my drop bag somewhere around mile 29. I kept taking Endurolyte's every 40 minutes to keep myself from bonking out from dehydration. I think they helped tremendously. I was in new territory. I had never ran this long or this far so I honestly had no clue what to expect. I hurt like I had never hurt before. I'm not going to lie, I cried a time or two and I came super close to shitting myself around mile 32. Good lord I was in pain. I stopped listening to my audiobook somewhere around mile 35 because I was in a bad way. My head couldn't process the book and I was having a hard time focusing. I think at this point in the race I was down to a walk and a little shuffle run where my feet barely left the ground. My legs were done and my head had quit hours ago. I got to the last aid station and the guy told me 3 miles left. Now on any given day that's easy peasy but I honestly cried when he said that. I didn't think I could make it the last 3. Thank god my wife text me at the right time. She talked me through mile 37 and 38. I was at the verge of quitting. I just wanted to lay down on the trail and wait to be found. Then around mile 39 or 40 (my watch had died somewhere around the start of loop 3, so I had no clue where I was) I heard my name being called and my phone rang, it was the race di
rector Rod. Seeing him and Cindy (the other race director) and then my son and mom in the middle of the woods was fantastic. They kept me going that last mile.

5:00 PMish- 11 hours later, I finished! Coming around the corner to see the finish line was instant tears. Scratch that, I sobbed. The emotions that hit me at that moment is the reason I do this crazy stuff. I felt complete elation and accomplishment. I have worked so hard all year. I have sacrificed so much time and energy and to see the finish line makes me tear up just talking about it. Words cannot describe. Waiting at the finish line were members of the trail group I run with, handing out high fives and hugs. Solidifying the fact that runners are the best and most genuine people you will ever met. I never knew how awesome a sweaty finish line hug could be until spending 11 hours running around the woods in 85 degree weather. Even though it was hard, I am so glad I did it. My first ultra completed and I am so freaking proud of myself. I am glad I didn't listen to the crap in my head, I'm glad I didn't give up when my mind was screaming for me to. I'm glad I stuck it out. I'm glad I completed my first ultra with the barkcamp crew.

Thank you Rod and Cindy for an unforgettable experience and for being there with me through that last mile. You two put your heart and soul into that race and it shows. Thank you to the runners who I have trained with or talked to and who were waiting at the finish line with arms open, without the advice from you guys I would still be running on the road and missing out on the trails.

Lastly, thank you to my amazing wife who I could never do this without. I put so much time into training and she is there with me encouraging me every single mile. She has ran training runs with me and sacrificed time just to be there for me. I hope she knows what her support means to me. She listens to all of my complaints and pulled me out of the dark place my mind was the last few miles of the race. She is always there and takes amazing care of me when I am barely able to walk after a race. I know not many people have someone like her in their lives, who will spend hours in a running shoe store or who will run in the middle of the night in the woods because you have 5 more miles to fit in. She is amazing and I am nothing without her.

Now, it is time to recover and rest this body and reflect back on an incredible experience.