New Car, Reinvigorated plan!

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Jan 22nd, 2013
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This weekend my wife and i decided to trade in both of our cars for one. We had been talking about getting a bigger vehicle over the past couple of months and we did it.

The new family truckster

The new family truckster

It is actually a way for us to be closer in a time in our lives where we live such opposite lives: She’s home all days with the boys and I am at work. i’m home all night with the boys and shes at work. i fall asleep at 7ish and and up at 4 and she falls asleep at different times :) . Living such different life schedules makes life’s logistics difficult to the uninitiated, but for us logistics is part of life. We are very dialed in. It gives a reason to communicate during the day when we could otherwise be wrapped up in our work or other life moments. Now, we will have even more reason to talk…who gets the car!?

We’ve done it before and it didn’t take long to get used to it then so it should be easy now. For the most part not much will change seeing as though i ride most everywhere i need to be. There will be times i’m sure where it won’t be convenient, but that’s ok. Saving $200/month in car payments, gas, wear and tear, etc will more than makeup for a little inconvenience. Plus, it gives us one more way to share. i like that. PLUS, we do have tons more room. On Sunday we went out to eat lunch with another couple and their baby for a total of 7 people in ONE car! That was awesome!

On a side note, we joked when we bought the car that of course the Blizzard of ’13 would hit as soon as we did. Well, that didn’t happen yet, but this morning it was 17 degrees F on my way into school with a wind chill of -4, snow is expected tomorrow, Thursday morning we expect a low of 11 degrees, and 2-4 inches on Friday. If we were only that good at predicting the lottery i would play.

Riding in the cold is all about the right gear.

Riding in the cold is all about the right gear.

579 for 2…but not for me

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Nov 29th, 2012
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Last night, the country’s biggest lottery jackpot was won by two people.  Together they split 579 million US dollars!  What a great morning for them!

This past Sunday, while at my in-laws home, i heard on the news that the lottery was up to 425million and i immediately thought, “i’m gonna get some tickets!  No way am i going to pass this up!”  i thought of how my life would change if i won.  i thought of how the lives of those i loved and knew would change with that much money.  Man, we could get everything we ever thought we wanted: Cars, clothes, money for college for the boys, homes paid off…heck– new homes!  My father-in law even gave me some advice to just buy one ticket because my odd of winning are the same. But i knew i already wanted to buy 10 tickets…$20 worth.  Seemed like a good idea.

Monday, Tuesday came and went.  i had not yet bought my tickets.  i was even at a gas station on Tuesday where i could have popped in to pick up my tickets.  But money hasn’t exactly been flowing and i knew i would have to use “lotto” money in case the boys got sick, or we needed some more groceries than normal.  i also know its getting colder, so i need to invest in some cold weather riding gear which can be expensive.

Wednesday came and as i rode by the gas station, i though again about the tickets…about how it would change my life if i won. Then i thought of a sermon i heard on Sunday at Jordyn’s hometown church by Pastor Art Barnes entitled “Thankful Sheep“.  He reminded us of how we truly are like sheep and we must allow ourselves to be led by God.  We must be thankful for Him and what He provides.  It was a very good sermon and it served me well this week.

As i rode by the station, contemplating my winning tickets, i thought about the chances i had of changing my life with $20.  i had no security in that $20 WOULD make my life better (in fact, i would probably need $20 for something else later on and regret buying the tickets).  i thought about how i was putting my hope and faith in a lottery instead of God. i thought about the fact that since October 6th, 2012, 289.5 million chances were purchased in hopes of something better and only about 2 of those would get the benefit.  The rest would be left with nothing but less money and a piece of refuse.  How sad i thought.  That people would spend their money in support of something that would most likely leave them empty and unfulfilled. i imagined the benefit they would do if those same people would donate the same amounts to charitable organizations or serving their communities in such a short amount of time…how amazing that would be.

i thought about my past year and the change i have undergone. i thought about he past 5 years of life with Jordyn and Christ and the world of difference both have made in me. Those were fulfilling changes.  Those were changes i wanted to support.  That’s something i can invest not just my time and energy into, but also my money.

So this week, instead of buying lottery tickets, as i rode by the station i chose to gamble on God (which really isn’t a gamble at all).  His returns are greater that the money i would most likely not win, and the odds of them being 100% perfect for improving my life are 1:1…like Pastor Art urged on Sunday, follow God and He will reward me with everything i need to be rich in the way He created me to be. This week, my $20 goes to His house as a thanks for making a change in my life and giving me the hope that my life will continue to be changed because of Him.

Embark and Carry On

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Nov 13th, 2012
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Love this paragraph from Velominati:

“The task spreads out before me like molasses poured onto a tabletop, indulging in its viscous immensity. Its growing breadth makes it a kind of enigma, the sort distinguished by an elusive end and therefor an intangible beginning. It occurs to me, at this moment, that the difference between those who achieve and those who stagnate is not measured by their greatness, but by their courage to begin. There is a boldness in embarking on that to which the end is unknown, to trust in your ability to navigate a path along which the way can be felt more than it can be seen.”

When people ask me “how’d you do it?”  I feel like saying “I started the journey and I followed through…everyday.” Sure I ate less and exercised more, but the truth is that none of that matters unless you start.  When you stare out at the journey ahead of you, a lot of times you can’t help but stammer in the face of the distance, difficulty, and solitude of the task.  It’s up to your mind to control your body, your spirit, and your liveliness to push off and carry on.  Rule #5!

 

Read more here: http://www.velominati.com/defining-moments/solitude/

Untangled i.Am

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Nov 12th, 2012
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This morning, i found my headphones. It was probably a technological milestone to be able to generate big sound from a speaker the size of a pencil eraser, but I think for many it has also been a source of frustration.

For the past week or two, i’ve been riding sans headphones. Admittedly, riding with headphones is inherently dangerous and some purists would even say it defeats the purpose of riding outside. Some would argue that its the tune of the bike brought to us by gear shifts, freewheeling cassettes, and that eternal wind howl over the helmet straps that really sings to our hearts while riding. But, i’d rather get in tune in other ways: fiery quads, breathing rate, and muffling those external sounds so i can focus on my internal ones. i surely think it’s nice to hear the wind whizzing by my ears for 1-4 hours, honing in on the sound of my chain rubbing against my front derailleur, and who doesn’t love some freewheel buzz, but to be honest, when there’s that much commotion going on outside, i find it hard to focus on the tunes going on inside.

So i ride with headphones. i tune into a station on Pandora Radio that i think will capture my spirit for the ride and i head out. i can no longer hear all of those external stimulants (though i do hear muffled car sounds as a precaution) and i can focus on what’s going on inside. Coupled with my Garmin Edge 500, my headphones are an indispensable training accessory. Years ago, I would skip going to Church and claim that i would meet God out on the road somewhere around hour 4. I didn’t wear headphones then, and i never met God. Now I know better. i don’t skip Church on purpose and i know He isn’t going to meet me on the road (..but he will let it be known that he exists because no matter my pain I will heal by the next day).

Yesterday was a good reason not to skip Church. We dedicated Aiden and Asher in our church. Similar to a baptism in the Catholic church, we made it known before God and the public that we will raise them in a life knowing Jesus and following his teachings and those found in the Bible. It was a great moment to stand before our families and our congregation and proclaim our love for God and our hopes for our children to know His love– in public view. So many times as a Christian i feel like i need to hide my faith for fear of what others will think of me or my beliefs. So many times, i feel like it’s better to keep those beliefs to myself (or only share with those i know share the same beliefs). So many times, i stash my Bible or my Bible app on my second screen away from curious eyes. So it felt good to be in a room where we could put it all out there and not feel that societal fear.

Yesterday in Church, our Senior Pastor also encouraged us to do what we can with what we have to help change the world in a Christian way. He went on to give several examples and said that no matter how much we come with, God will take that and multiply it to make the impact we desire. I took his message to heart as parents that we do not need to come with all of the answers nor all of the holiness of all of the Christian Church, but we need to bring to them all that we have. Whatever we don’t possess, God will fill-in and multiply through fellowship, life groups, family, etc. That is reassuring because there are definitely times when we are not enough.

SO it was late last night that i remembered that i needed to find my headphones. i had thought about it last week, but my searches came up empty. There’s the frustration with these things. i bet no one misplaced headphones back in the 1970′s! i also bet they weren’t able to option them as essential riding gear.

Before i closed my eyes to sleep, i decided i would check a pocket of a jacket that i hadn’t worn in a while. Morning came and as i set out i remembered to check for my headphones. i checked the first pocket…nothing but an old breakfast receipt. Reluctantly, i check pocket number two…BINGO! There they were! Suhweet! The only problem was that they were unusable. In the state which i had found them in, they were completely incapable to procuring music for my ears so that i could spend the morning ride thinking about what’s inside versus listening to what’s outside. See, while these tiny little earbuds had been playing hide and seek for a week and a half, they had somehow worked themselves into a rat’s nest and left me trying unravel them before i could put them to work. How this happens i will never know, but it happens all the time. Leave headphones sit out of sight for too long and they won’t be ready when you need them!

It was as i was untangling them that i began to think of yesterday’s sermon once again. i began to draw a metaphor between my headphones and the message. Like my headphones, you don’t always find God where you hope to find Him (like in my 1st pocket) or where i would like to find Him (on my bike).  Like my headphones, my non-electronic Bible is out of sight hidden from me. It’s part of the mess of my desk and my Bible App is surrounded by folders and apps that distract me from it. i realized that as i was unraveling my headphones, that i need to not only leave them out in the open to prevent this from happening again, but that i need to do the same with my Bible. A Bible buried will not be ready when i need it. It will not be able to answer my prayers, help me sort out my decisions, or help me guide our boys as they grow to fulfill their Glory just like my headphones weren’t ready for me to use this morning. If i thought the headphone cables were a mess, try finding a relevant passage in the Bible!

So here comes my next commitment: Commit to making the open Bible and open Christianity a piece of essential living gear. Like my headphones and my Garmin are to my daily riding routine, i want my Bible and my Faith to be a part of my daily life routine. Neither do me or anyone else any good tucked away so that i can feel safe.  In fact, i think it is more dangerous living without them than with them. Living with my faith out of reach and outside of public view is as unsafe in my eyes as riding with headphones is in the eyes of others. I need my headphones and my Bible for the same reasons.

Tucked away, in both cases, they end up becoming lost and when they do become found…they’re a mess.  So the only thing i know to do is to place them both “out there” so they’re easy to access for myself and for others.    i will commit to using opportunities to support others through my faith in public whether through acts or words and to reading pages of the Bible daily so that i can bring even more to the lives of my boys and those lives in my life. If listening to music while i ride helps me get in tune with myself…i can only imagine what listening to the word of God will sing into my life.

That Was NOT Easy.

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Nov 8th, 2012
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That Was NOT Easy. Share

2012 was a year of new beginnings in my life.  Both private and public doors closed and opened.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has been fruitful.  Specifically, 2012 brought Jordyn and i two baby boys.  What a BEGINNING!

As with most beginnings, the euphoria begins to wear down eventually and you begin to settle into TCOB (taking care of business) mode and then it becomes part of what you do. And so had been becoming a father and husband to a mother…it’s what i do.

But those new beginnings also bring with them a level of commitment which once determined cannot be struck-through…they must be stuck-to.  The commitments of a father are many as are those of a husband.  Notice I haven’t even mentioned friends yet…but they’re in there too (somewhere).

Believe it or not, one of the toughest commitments i have had to undertake and stick-to has not been what you may think.  Committing to the boys is easy…they need us.  We want to be there for them.  Committing to my wife is easy…i need her :) . i also want to her to know i am here to serve her.  And i feel the same about my close friends.  No sir, one of the toughest committments i have had to stick-to and make part of my TCOB Mode (my SOP if you will), was a commitment to myself.  As many parents, husbands, and wives can nod their heads in agreement, keeping yourself through all of it is hard– VERY HARD.  Whether you need to make money, family decisions on how to spend time, adjusting to new eating and sleeping schedules, and planning for the future, maintaining yourself comes at a price of sacrifice and commitment that is much easier to just forget about than pay.

Those that know me well know that i have spent time trying to find myself or make myself into what i wanted to be.  i’ve started businesses, joined others, ventured out into the woods, and hurled myself across and down mountains all in the name of fulfilling myself before God and before others.  But as my boys were born, i was forced to ask myself what i thought they might be asked of me sometime down the road…”Who’s your daddy?” (and it’s okay to say that in a Barry White kind of voice…i know i always do).  i didn’t know, or remember, the response.

What i did know was that i was claiming or doing all of the following: New Dad, Husband, Son, Cousin, Nephew, Friend, Teacher, Car Detailer, Bike Shop Owner, Web Designer, Outdoorsman, Christian, Writer, Artist, and Reluctant Bike Rider.  i also knew that this list didn’t stop here, but it was all i could think of and it needed reshuffled, trimmed down, and then reshuffled and trimmed some more.  i needed to find myself…and quick.  Because i knew that my new SOP would soon overcome my ability to do what so badly needed to be done…find who and what is in my core and live that way every day.  One facet of that core is what this post is actually about.

On May 4th, as i said, our boys were born.  On May 5th, while they were undergoing a “Circummm-Elective” procedure, my father-in-law had the idea to go mow our lawn.  It was an inviting Spring day, so i decided to go with him and go for a bike ride. i was numbingly tired and thought some lung and leg burn would help me feel alive.

i did a short ride i’ve done a hundred times before…a 20 mile jaunt from my house to Leola and back.  When i got back, my legs burned, i was sweaty, and i wanted more.  i definitely remembered at that moment part of my core…i am a bike rider. It is part of who i am and who i’ve always been.  But that dude had been neglected and ignored in pursuit of other passions or dreams. i wanted that part back.  i was willing to commit to reigniting that fire and becoming that dude again. But i also realized that i weighed 235lbs, just had twins, had a buzillion directions i was being pulled into, and a a wife that need attention and love.  i knew that if i was going to commit to this, it was going to take more than just a desire, it was going to take dedication from my, my wife, my family, and my friends.  So that day, i wasn’t ready to make it public.  i kept it to myself.  But i knew i had already made my decision.  i didn’t know exactly what i wanted to achieve, but i knew that by doing so, i would end up in a better place.

SO that week i did my thing as a dad and as a husband and by the end of the week, i spilled the beans to my wife.  i knew what i wanted and i was ready to let her know.  To ask for her blessing.  To ask for her support.

On that day i committed “semi-privately” to living a life as a healthy dude.  i committed to being a role model of good choice to my sons.  i committed to becoming the rider i was once before.  More importantly and specifically, i committed to getting fit and to riding my bike at least 2 hours everyday (6 days a week). i knew this is what i wanted, and with Jordyn’s blessing and support, i knew it was up to me to make it happen.

For a long time, i kept my goals semi-private, but i publicly posted rides on Facebook.  While i did this to kind of let others know what i was doing, i felt it helped me stay accountable.  i felt satisfaction in seeing my rides logged online.  i felt like i was accomplishing and working towards something. But that was something I was still struggling with in my heart.  What exactly did i want out of this?  What did “fit” mean? What was the deal with 2 hours? How did this new ideal, this new era of commitment fit into my new life?

Sometime around the end of June, as Jordyn made her way back to work, i had clarity.  i was forced into it.  One way or another, Jordyn’s shift back to work would mean my ride time would become less flexible and becoming fit was something i would have to do on my own while tending to infant boys. So i sat and thought about what I really wanted.  Did i just want to be a fit bike-dude-dad or something more specific?  It was definitely something more sepcific.  Again, i sat to talk it over with Jordyn,  and she supported.

i specifically wanted to get back into racing my bike, but not this year.  i wanted to start back up with a solid base-season. Lots of miles, lots of terrain, no fixed regiment.  i also decided that getting fit to me really meant getting “to fit in” to old clothes.  It also meant committing to not fitting all i wanted into my diet, but what i knew would fuel me right.  It was time to live right again and make tough choices.

Some of those tough choices meant getting a sitter some days for 3 hours so i could ride my bike.  Sometimes they would say they could stay for 4 hours and i would stay out longer.  Sometimes it meant figuring out difficult schedules and bike transport logistics to ensure i would ride on days i had schedule to do so.  As the school year began, it meant once again figuring out how to commute efficiently and learning how to extend my commute to include it as a workout by learning to wake up at 4:15am so i can get 20-30 miles in on my way to work.  It also meant planning school clothes and 1 car trip a week to swap out clothes and such.  When you commit to life on a bike in an automotive world, life becomes inherently difficult at first, but then it becomes SOP and you no longer think about the difficulties…you just TCOB!  In fact, thanks to my schedule as a teacher, my summer job became scheduling my day around riding.  There were days when it was a task, a chore, a bother.  Kitting up, pulling on sweaty gloves, and sliding my rear on the saddle as i glided out of the driveway.  Other days it was like taking flight!

Aside from dialing in our schedules and prioritizing wants, needs, and passionate pursuits, i also had to dial in the diet.  Anyone who knows me knows i am a “foody”.  i like food, drink, and anything in between.  But those that know me well, may also remember a 139lb college kid who was a strict vegetarian turned vegan.  i knew what i had to do, i had just chosen to ignore that knowledge for way too long. i started by consuming lots of green smoothies.  Later i cut-out refined foods.  Throughout i removed land animals from my food source. i felt a difference…i was hungry again! i fed that hunger with what i determined to be clean foods. It wasn’t as hard as i thought it would be, but there were definitely days where i struggled.

There was an entire stretch of time where nothing was happening though i was feeling awesome. And while i was feeling awesome, i knew i was at times putting a strain on us as a family in terms of time, my obsessive tendencies, and more.   But this is where the support and parallel commitment of your wife, your friends, and your family really make a difference.  Everyone was on the same page (those that knew) and we understood the challenge would be met and produce a positive overall result.  Yes, these were hard moments; but i and we persevered, and soon, once again, everything was back on track.

i also decided somewhere along the line that i was going to be more open about my goals.  My commitment was solid.  My choices were made.  And I was living it out every day.  It was time to let others know about what I wanted.  SO again, I had to ask myself, specifically, what do i want?

I wanted to weigh 175lbs by Thanksgiving Day and enter Two Mountain bike races to test my legs.

i knew that now i had a goal others could visualize and present me with their opinions and support (or not-support). This was late August.  Riding was now inherent.  Eating right was something i just did (although there were still moments of weakness).

My biggest hurdles were that finishing up August i weighed in at 204.  Also, by the time i decided to specify my goals to others,iI had two weeks until the 1st MTB race and i hadn’t ridden a mountain bike in 4 years.  That was a lot of weight to lose (almost the same amount i had already lost) and not a lot of time before the 1st race.

Time came for the race and i had a fever and was sick.  i struggled with racing or not. i decided i wouldn’t really be racing that day, just paying a race coordinator to ride my bike on their course.  i stood no chance at competition.  So i bagged it.  Although i felt a little defeated inside, i knew i had made the right choice. i actually took 2 days off the bike, ate normally and ended up feeling like a new man by mid-week.  That day instead of racing i was a family man and enjoyed time with the boys and my wife. i knew i needed more of that.  i recognized that as one of the things i need to keep in my core…another commitment.  One that i work on everyday and i will work on everyday.

Another month passed and the second race came up.  i was super nervous.  i hadn’t ridden mountain, much less raced it in 4 years.  What was i doing?  What if i had ridden all this time and lost all of this weight and I come in last or DNF? Would it all be wasted time?  That would be a crushing blow.

But that didn’t happen.  Though i waited until the last minute to enter the race, i had a good race.  In fact a really good race.  i felt strong, capable, and like my summer long commitment was worth the effort.

So now…for the weight.

Today is November 8th 2012.  i’ve become that biker dude again.  i’ve become that eat-right dude again.  i’ve maintained the daddy-dude throughout.  i’ve ridden 2,562 miles since May 5th and this morning i weighed in at 185.2.  50lbs down and 10 to go!  

With only 3 weeks to go, i am a little apprehensive about meeting my goal weight.  However, i am also excited and amped-up for the challenge.

At this point i am willing to accept the numbers whatever they might be on Thanksgiving Day (well almost any numbers).  i know that I have begun the process of “refinding myself” and learning what is in within me that I wish to maintain.  I know that my commitment is strong and my family and friend support is there, and that regardless of what happens i’ll be at that better place.  i also know that i have begun the process of not only redefining who and what i am at my core, but also living that out every day.  In so doing, i also know that i will be a better role model for my boys and a better husband to my wife and a better son and friend and teacher.  i finally, also know that i’ve finally learned the difference between hard work and working hard.  The latter is what you do when you take on too much stuff without focus…the former is what you do when you want to achieve something “that is NOT easy.”

 

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