Monday, February 9, 2015

Life, the exponent

It’s been 2.5 years since I moved from the midwest for two dreams:  to serve the poor and to figure out what I’m supposed to do with an engineering degree.

For 1 year I served the poor and because of that, it threw everything off. It gave me new perspective on life. It helped me understand how cruel the world is and at the same time, how loving it is.  It also helped me understand that culture is merely a concept that defined by dreams, relationships, religion, and personal drive. When I was growing up I also considered culture something you are born into and will always have with you, boy was I wrong. Now I’m not saying that the small town midwest boy a grew up as isn’t still apart of my culture, it is. But that part of me is what makes me unique and not similar as culture would suggest. At one point in my life I was told that I was lucky. How? I was told I grew up in a small town in the midwest of the United States. That alone made me lucky.

The students and families I worked with in my volunteer year, truly showed me how lucky I was and still am today. I owe that to my parents. But luck always has side effects. Because of my “luckiness” I feel like it made me ignorant to the world. Not ignorant to the problems of the world, rather ignorant to the people who suffer because of those problems. My volunteer position “humanized” the world. It showed me behind every extremely complex decision both political and moral, there are people suffering because of the outcome, or lack of outcome..

After my volunteer year, I set off for my second dream, which seemed selfish, but something that has always been apart of me: to work for a large tech company and impact the world. To be a valued and needed member of something. Now I have always held leadership positions, been on committees, been apart of decision making, and make logical decisions that would greatly impact organizations I was apart of. But I was always looking higher. Why? Probably because it always seemed like “I can’t” would always creep into my mind and then it was a challenge. “I can’t continue the legacy of good trumpet players”, “I can’t focus to become an Eagle Scout”, “I can’t make it through the core engineering classes”, “I can never  lose the weight”, “I can’t run a marathon”, and “I’m never going to be smart enough to get into a big tech company”. EVERY single one of these “can’t”s I accomplished above and beyond what I ever expected. 

Being “smart” enough to join the tech world as an engineer would always eluded me, until I had the opportunity to live in California. I guess if you dream hard enough and never give up, even if it is subconscious, things will work out. I think I the biggest thing about not giving up is taking everopportunity  that presents itself. Because of that persistence, I’m now a technical trainer teaching a framework to fortune 500 companies.

To say the least, I have reached the other end of the tunnel of my mission in California. So now what? I don’t know. I really don’t. For the first time in my life, I don’t know. Every goal I have ever had as a boy I have achieved in some fashion. Most at this point in their life have set new goals of buying a home, fixing a home, getting married, having children. For me though? Not yet.

I have arrived at the other end of the tunnel with no where to go. I should really figure that out.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

This will be the "Year of firsts... again"

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

Life is NOT a dress rehearsal.

Jon Blais was the only man to complete the Kona Ironman world championships while diagnosed with ALS

This quote has been said by a lot of different people throughout history. But the first time I heard it, it was from the mouth a Jon Blais, also known as the "Blazeman". Jon Blais was the only man to complete the Kona Ironman world championships while diagnosed with ALS. He completed the course in 2005, but then ALS took over most of muscle control in 2006 and Jon was forced to cheer from the sidelines while another man completed the course in Jon's name. To see his complete story you can go to:

Now Jon was a person of passion and drive. Never wanting to give up and continued to fight on awareness and research for ALS. In 2007 Jon passed away, but left a legacy with the war on ALS and my inspiration of this blog, "Life is not a dress rehearsal".

With change comes "out with the old, in with the new", for better or for worse

To most, when you get inspired you want to do something new and exciting. For me (at least now) that means "to do again". Since my move to California, my life has changed considerably. But with change comes "out with the old, in with the new", for better or for worse. For those that knew me in college, endurance sports was all I knew. Testing the limits. Challenging myself to do something crazy. Attempting the "impossible". Moving out to California, for many reasons, this is something that had to be put on the sidelines to allow for the "new" to take hold in my life.

This year will be the "Year of firsts...again"

I'm happy to announce, after 2.5 years of volunteering, carrying 3 jobs, attempting the startup life, trying to be a developer, and acclimating to the "California" way of life, it is time to take endurance off the sidelines. Now that I'm settling down with my career path, I can finally focus again. SO, this year will be the "Year of firsts...again"

In order to break new ground, I need dig out where I have filled in, which is why this will not be a year of "new",  rather, this year will be a year of "first time since", which I'm really excited about. In spirit on this new montra, I have started a twitter account called @YearOf1stsSince. Each time I do something momentous.... again,  I'll post it there to keep record of it all. So here's my lists of firsts...again for this year:

have a training schedule
cross train for running
push myself in a 5k
push myself in a 10k
run further than a half marathon
run longer than 2 hours
compete in a Tough Mudder
ride in Ragbrai
the scale shows below 215
run over 25 miles in a week
bike in the rain
run in the rain
collect a lot of crap (aka SWAG) form races
train in the dark
beat my brother-in-law in miles for a week's training
eat delicious gu, hammer, or even heed
train on distance rather than time
buy new running shoes
stop at a random house for water
travel for a race (besides Iowa)
confuse my friends on why I do it

...and the list could continue.....

Here's hopin' this "year of firsts since" turns into another crazy adventure.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Wrong doing, government, policy, racism, justice, rights, idiots, misunderstanding, ignorance, injustice, hippies, and cluelessness. What category you decide the Ferguson case fits into? I honestly don't know. Maybe all of them? I don't know a whole lot on the situation and therefore have trouble fully deciding what to think.

Never-the-less, we are making history with this case and it will be one of those things that you hear about in the textbooks and "i remember when" stories. I will tell you though, at times as Americans, we see so many things through screens, text, rumors, bad innuendos, and humorous racial stereotypes, we forget the fact that there are real people suffering in the world. Even if it is cushy Americans "suffering" because of police brutality, they are losing their rights in a free country. I think this is something we sometimes forget in America. We are a nation under the dollar and we think that protects us.

The fact of the matter is, whoever holds the bigger stick decides the rules, even if it's self or majority elected. There will always be that injustice and the Ferguson case just further affirms this. So whether you are for the out come or not, remember that these are real people with real human rights caught in an unbelievably complex social issue.

Thats all I got for tonight. take it with a grain of salt.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How many times have you been around the sun?

Today is my birthday. I taught class today to a crowd that was all older than me by 5+ years. Now in this evening I am traveling on a plane to go back to my home. The bar at the airport was jam packed so I had to eat my dinner "birthday" meal at a fast food pizza place. I have received snaps, texts, voicemails, Facebook posts, and even LinkedIn messages wishing me happy birthday today from people all around the country. I'm finding that is my life now, friends all around the country. It works well since I travel so much.

"I'm on a plane and it's my birthday"

Last time I wrote I was at a startup company that I wasn't super happy with, money was a bit tight, my home still didn't seem like home, and I really didn't feel like I was contributing to a greater cause. Since then I have started working with Adobe and things are shaping up! I am working as a corporate trainer for a product called Adobe Experience Manager. I'm able to save more money, I have made more friends, I get to travel, and most of all, I am becoming a professional in this world. The biggest change though is the travel. To really document my life in the air, I have started a new blog called Plane Runner, feel free to follow that blog as well.

I will admit life is different now, but I can say this is exactly what I have wanted for the past few years. Now that I am a professional technologist and get to travel I'm finding it's just different than I was expecting. I think I always had this thought I would have this great life back at home that I would come home to, but in reality my life is in the sky.When I actually am home, I find myself wanting to travel again. I'm finding home is in the sky and hotels rather than the apartment a few of my things are kept.

"When I actually am home, I find myself wanting to travel again."

No, I don't want to do this all my life. I want to settle down with a house, wife, and kids. But these things are not things I can actively control and so I might as well make the most of what I have. My job has set me up on a path that I could have only dreamed of when I was younger and I am continually thankful for the cards I have been dealt. Living the lifestyle I have now though is very different than my friends and even family, I hope to write a blog on this topic.

I have now made it 26 times around the sun and am proud to say I am a grown professional that contributes to society in a positive manor. I am no longer a child relying on others to support me. But that doesn't mean I have to act professional all the time. There's still a lot of "kid" inside of me!

Oh, and thank you Mom and Dad, without you two there wouldn't be me. I guess that means I am eternally grateful to you two. :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Old Man

This is a speech I wrote for the end of my volunteer year. It's story is wrapped up with the meaning of sonder, feel free to check out my post about it's meaning. This story is dedicated to my Vincentian roommates. You are some of the most influential people in my story so far, and my story is where it is because of you; Thank you.

The Old Man

This is a story about an old man that I met and the journey that I took with him known to some as the epic journey of life. But he was not the only character in this story. Other main characters include a koala, a tea pot, the fly on the wall, Chocolate, and my BoY!. most would say that a story with so many odd characters would not work, and well you would be correct. But thats the interesting thing about life, it isn't a story, it's a mash up of many stories put together. This story is the realization that

each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own-- populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness-- an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you'll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted way.

My first impression of the old man was one of extreme energy and excitement for a new experience. He was so excited that he wanted to keep others of another epic journey up on a work night, asking them questions left and right like "whats your favorite color?" "whats your favorite experience so far?" "how is the program?" "Oh man thats legit, was it hard to live here with your community?",  despite the fact it was past the bed time of the old man.

The next week the old man was thrown into his element like a small child being thrown into a ball pit, except the old man was being thrown into a school with children. For him this was heaven and a time for him to shine and show his youthfulness once again. 

A week past by and myself and the old man went to meet the rest of the characters of the story. This was not just any meetup though. It was an epic experience, filled with laughter, awkwardness, fear, judgement, and realization that these people would be changing our lives forever. Along with the main characters we came to meet a subset of characters in this story known as "The Others," they were with us but not. They went through the same sonder and yet it was completely different. My personal sonder would be touched by The Others over and over again each time we had an epic meetup.

The old man and I went on many adventures with koala, tea pot, the fly on the wall, chocolate and My boY!, but I came to realize the old man and I had a special relationship, realizing the fact that he was old and I was an introvert. We worked well together. We kept quiet most times and understood when talking was needed.

The old man and I had the opportunity to meet The Others once again when we had a conference near them with our work. I came to realize during the exciting time of learning about Vincentian charisms and the relationship between Vincent and Louise, the old man knew how to dance, and dance hard. The old man always seems to be so reserved when serving the children and dedicated.... but when you give the old man a pair of dancing shoes, wine, and a great dance floor (or any floor) he will show you that he isn't as old as he seems. He will show that he has love in his heart and a great passion to make people smile and love life. Oh and sometimes you need to keep a foot on the ground while sleeping to keep you grounded.

Unfortunately, many times the old man had to take what I would later learn to know as 'old man syndrome', or early night sleeps. During his long napping the koala, tea pot, fly on the wall, chocolate, My boY! and myself would enjoy an evening of conversation, dancing, shenanigans, and enjoyment. My boY! and I would often go in and check on the old man, which would usually result in "WHAT WHAT. oh my no no no no leave me alone." Another time though the old man decided to relive his younger years and he and MyboY! relived their college experience being RAs for the rest of the sleeping house.

Being the teacher that the old man was, he insisted that the fly on the wall needed learn to drive, which to me didn't make much sense since a fly has wings...... never the less, the old man and my BoY! taught her on the hills of San Francisco. 

Stories upon stories can be told about the old man... but sometimes, he was napping. Like the time we went to the Cal Academy of Science or when we had a huge 4th of july celebration. Sometimes though, he would put his big ol' sunglasses on and take us somewhere in the car. Times like Napa, Cambell, Salsalito, The Warf, the beach, or even to see The Others. The first trip I went on with trip with the old man he apparently couldn't regulate his temperature and NEEDED to take his pants off, bad. So we stopped at a gas station, and he jumped out in youthfulness and ran to the bathroom to change into shorts. Silly old man.

Many things affected the old man out of his control, and he hated that. Most of the times it involved his supervisor, community pressure, or a cute girl to convince him. But most of the time, he went out to be social. I began to see a change in my life, a sense of Sonderness and I think the old man started to realize it too.

No matter the old man's sleeping schedule, we slowly began to respect it, because he was just another person in his own story, a story that focuses 100% on children. I mean Koala had a story of becoming a doctor, the fly on the wall wants to become a social worker, tea pot just wants to blow her whistle... or go back to college, chocolate wants to eat anything that looks tasty.. or also go back to college. My BoY! wants to help his family or live with me, that part is still being written.

We are all involved with our lives, our story, or perception of what life is. We view others through a small pin-hole of the interaction that we get with them. The old man has been alive for 23 years and I have only known him for 1 year of that. And as much as I love being attached to the old man's hip, I still did not know every little detail that he did this year. That's because his story isn't mine, nor is this story a true depiction of how he perceived this year. My story is mine and mine alone, but what I, and the rest of the world needs to realize is that

each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own-- populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness-- an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you'll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted way.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The last two miles

As you probably maybe seen from my Facebook profile picture, I recently found this picture in my picture archive.

This is a picture of me finishing my first marathon at the end of 2010. Only one and a half years after I started endurance sports. At the beginning of 2009, I was at 230 lbs, not in shape what so ever, in fact I had probably run for "fun" less than 10 times in my life outside of a small amount of sports. The journey to get in shape was going to be a rough one, but a journey nonetheless.

This is the untold story of my struggle the last two miles.

The last two miles of my first marathon, really made me dig deep and find who I was. It brought me to tears and almost to the point of giving up completely. I had run a solid 18 miles without stopping. the next 3 miles were a trade off of walking a quarter mile and running the last three quarters. After 21 miles, I began to struggle. Running was becoming less and walking more. At about mile 22, my brother in law started to run with me and continued to run with me for the next two miles.

At mile 24, he told me that he was going to go to the finish line to see me finish. The second he left the path, I gave up. I couldn't run anymore, tears were coming to my eyes because I knew my body was giving up on me. I wasn't taking in water anymore, I couldn't focus, I was cramping, the last 2 miles seemed longer than the first 24.

But then one of the most powerful things in the world came into play. Passion. But not the way you would expect. My mind was fried from dehydration. I really couldn't think straight enough to keep positive and move forward. Passion, in the form of a person, ran to me. They came to me and told me to start to walk, so I did. I explained to them I couldn't continue. I was done.

Then this person gave me a speech that I will always remember.. They told me that they had watched me since I first started my training, saw that I had never given up, I always pushed myself. They personally could never see themselves doing a marathon. But the fact that I was doing the marathon said a lot about my personality and my spirit. But most importantly, my family was at the finish line waiting for me. My whole family was there waiting for me to finish my goal, my dream, my passion and they were there to support me, just like they had throughout the whole training process.

These words allowed me to remember my passion, my spirit, my life and how much I needed to finish.I can't say the last two miles after that point were easy... every step I took was a test of my spirit. No matter how hard each step was though, I knew my family was waiting at the finish to share the accomplishment with me and I knew I needed to get there.

The picture above is  that expression of finishing and being able to share it with my family, pure raw passion. Among my family was the person that gave me the power to finish, my bother-in-law.

Simply put, family is important to live out your passion, whether that family is blood related or not, it just needs to be someone that cares about you enough to set you straight when life gets you down.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Value. What does it mean? Truly. What does it mean? I mean really? Working in the for profit world I really wonder sometimes. How do people get lost in it? 

Does my paycheck validate what I do? I'm starting to think no.