Jade

jade

Catching up with Jade earlier this year. It had been 3 full years since I had seen her. I am thankful she is back in Oregon!

I never had a little sister growing up.  It wasn’t until my mid-teens until I inherited two older brothers, Matt and Matt.  Growing up as an only child certainly had its challenges, and I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to care for someone else, in a big brother type role. Perhaps I wanted that dynamic in a family setting? In no way do I blame my parents for this, in fact, being an only child, as an adult, has helped me to further understand my challenges with anxiety, alcoholism, and addiction, most notably the craving and need for reassurance and attention.

In 2010 I began volunteering at the Cascade Youth and Family Center in Bend, Oregon.  I wanted to do something to give back to the community in some way.  I knew that the LOFT (Living Options for Teens) was a place where homeless and troubled youth went to try their hand at rehabilitation, in a community environment, and I wanted to help, to get out of my head, and to do something meaningful in the hearts of others.  One fall afternoon as I was hanging out in the common area at the LOFT with some of the kids, playing guitar, waiting for dinner to be cooked, a shy girl walked in, looking timid and frightened, and sat on one of the corner benches in the room.  It was obvious that she did not know any of the kids, or staff, as she didn’t say a word to anyone in the room.  After a few minutes I went up to her and introduced myself, and she hesitantly replied, “hi, my name is Jade.”  For some reason, at that moment the inner big brother in me, that had never really been exercised before, came out, and I took her under my wing.  That day Jade became my little sister.

As a volunteer at the LOFT it was expected that we treat every kid the same, without favoring one or the other.  And I did this, creating bonds and friendships with many of them that still last to this day.  In fact, one of those kids just emailed my a week ago saying that he had finally gotten his first job out of college.  But with Jade it was different for some reason.  I wanted to teach her about life, responsibility, and hopefully bring out the courage in her to understand that, despite her troubled past, she had a bright future ahead of her.

A few of my favorite memories of my time spent with Jade when she was at the LOFT impacted me then as I was undertaking my own rough patch in life, struggling with self-identity and self-worth.  I so wanted to be able to relate to her, as a teenager.  For now as I look back at my mental and emotional capacity at that time was probably along the same lines as Jade, being 16.  Most notably she taught me about what kids listen to for music.  She and I would spend hours downloading and listening to music, with the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Lost Boyz, and Lil Wayne.  To this day I can recite “Black and Yellow” word for word, much to the amazement of my friends and work colleagues.  Basically anything by Wiz Khalifa reminds me of Jade, and the minute I hear any of his songs a smile comes across my face, taking me back to the days when Jade and I would pass the time being teenagers together…I loved it.

One other moment with Jade sticks out in particular.  One evening when I brought the kids to workout at Juniper Swim and Fitness Center she came with me to the yoga room where I liked to stretch.  For that hour Jade opened up to me about what it was like growing up with her own personal demons and challenges.  Today as I think back she and I actually had similar experiences to some degree.  She spoke so candidly, especially for a teenager, about what she had gone through to get to the point where the LOFT was her best option at restarting her life.  She spoke and I listened.  That conversation still has a profound impact on my life.  It serves as a reminder that we all go through challenges at varying degrees, regardless of our socio-economic backgrounds and financial, mental, and physical status.

When Jade left the LOFT early the next year I was crushed.  I sat in the LOFT that day for about an hour with tears in my eyes, hoping that I would get the chance to see her again and that we would stay in touch.  She moved away from Oregon for a few years, and during that time we did manage to stay in touch by Facebook.  When I got her message that she was coming back to Oregon to live I literally jumped out of my chair and screamed for joy.  My little sis was coming home, and I’d have the chance to see her again.  I was beyond excited.

Today, 3 years later, I am able to catch up with Jade once every couple of months when I am in Bend.  In fact, when I plan a trip back over to Central Oregon she is the first person I call to see if I can steal her away for a little while to catch up.  I am happy to say now that Jade is making a life for herself on her own, as a new mom.  She recently had a  baby girl, Teagan, who is absolutely adorable.  The weekly pics I get of Teagan and her mom make my day.  I am just hopeful that she let’s me be there for her, as an adopted uncle , as she continues to forge her life as an adult.  I miss ya Jade, and you know that if you ever need anything I am there for you, period.

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Silent Lucidity – Exploring the need for silence, and maybe someday, a sense of clairvoyance

Queensryche, one my favorites of all time, and their video for Silent Lucidity.

 

Definition of luciditya presumed capacity to perceive the truth directly and instantaneously, clairvoyance;  clearness of thought or style

Growing up as a teenager in the late 1980’s I fell in love with the band Queensryche, a mysterious, orchestral hard rock band from Seattle.  They were a bit of an anomaly in those days in comparison to their 80’s metal counterparts Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and Cinderella, among others.  As a band, their story telling, through song, was very interesting to me, a virtue that I revert to time and time again.

In 1993, after the Bill Koch Youth Ski League festival in Jackson, NH, our ski group went on adventure skiing off of the backside of Wildcat Mtn, and back to our hotel, using the experience as an end of the year celebration of our mutual love for adventure and X-C skiing.  As we were getting ready for the trip in the hotel room that morning I remember Queensryche’s video for their song “Silent Lucidity” coming on MTV (when they actually played videos).  The song was stuck in my head for the entire day throughout our adventure.  I remember this because of a moment that vividly sticks out in my head, one of being scared and alone.  Descending off of the backside of Wildcat, somehow winding up on a golf course just after Jeremy Lemieux had biffed into a snow bank, I remember being alone, in compete solitude from our party, following the tracks of the group into an unknown part of the woods.  Other than Silent Lucidity playing through my head, as well as the sounds of skis shuffling back and forth through the snow, I remember the sound of silence, a sound that I was not capable of embracing at the time.  It was terrifying.

I bring this notion of silence up because it is only now that I am finally beginning to appreciate the experience of sitting alone with my thoughts, processing the day, sorting my head out, in complete silence.  Think about it, how often during any given day are we able to accomplish being in a place where we have complete silence?  With work, and life, my days are filled with phone calls, emails, text messages, Snapchats, Facebook notifications, Twitter posts, music, conversation, and a constant stream of thought.  Shutting my brain down from the time I wake up in the morning until the moment I finish stretching and eating after the last workout of the day, is nearly impossible. I used to fight it, knowing I needed more silence in my life, often wondering how I could get it.  Lately it is during these times of silence that I’m able to digest the day and reflect on the chaos that ensues the minute my alarm goes off at 4:30 AM.  The one challenge I am currently having with these moments, apart from the elimination of outside “noise” is having a sense of quiet in my mind.  It takes me several minutes of just sitting, and “being,” to be able to shut off my brain and get ready for a hopeful night of sleep.  Is this meditation?  I don’t know how to define it.  I’m approaching this idea of silence by comparing it to training, intervals in particular.  I get faster running partly by doing intervals of speed work throughout the week.  Perhaps I can approach this comfort of being in silence with the same methodology, by doing 20-30 minute intervals each night of having silence, solitude, and maybe someday, after practice, a sense of lucidity.  It’s worth it for me to give this a try, because I really do believe that, unknowingly, I crave it.  I guarantee I would not have come to this point of wanting to explore the notion of silence if I were still drinking the way I used to.

Last night was my first true and honest attempt at this.  At 8:30PM I shut everything off, my phone, my computer, podcasts (Rich Roll’s is my current go-to), all of the noise.  I sat still for 15 minutes, letting the thoughts fire back and forth in my head.  The next thing I remember is waking up at 1:20AM to my cat having a spaz attack.  So did it work?  Maybe, at least I fell asleep peacefully.  However when the alarm went off this morning it was interesting to note that the minute I opened my eyes the madness of a constant stream of thought fired back up.  Two hours later, as I write this, the thoughts are still raging in my head.  It’s OK I suppose, I’m only just getting started truly practicing this state of mind, of silence.  So, I’ll just give it another whirl tonight and hope I get a little bit better.

 

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The North Face 50 Mile Championships Report

The #FYDSYP crew before the start

The #FYDSYP crew before the start

This weekend a group of friends and I traveled to San Francisco to compete in the North Face 50 Mile/50K Championships, held in the Marin Headlands State Park, just north of the city.  Heading into the event I was feeling the effects of a solid build-up of training, poised to break into the upper echelon of 50 Mile competitors in the sport.  Guys that I look up to that toe’d the start line included Chris Vargo and Timothy Olson, among many others.  The field was stacked with the best 50 mile talent in the sport, and I was humbled to start among such an elite group.

Having done this race last year, as my first 50 mile attempt, I found myself starting at a conservative pace just to ease in to the day.  With an early 5 AM start we ran the first 2 hours with headlamps, in the dark.  One of the coolest scenes, that I vividly remembered from last year, was the first climb.  Being long and open you could see a line of headlights snake through the fire roads with the lights of San Francisco as a backdrop.  It was a gorgeous sight.

As for the race itself it just was not my day.  At mile 14 my stomach began to act up, which caused my form to basically go to hell.  Until mile 28, when things in my gut calmed down, the only thing I could really hold down was Coca-Cola.  Everything else came up including water, GU’s, shot blocks, and any solid foods, that I tried to take in.  Looking back I need to take a look at what I ate and how I ate in the days leading up to the race, to search for an anomaly that may have caused the problems.  Ultimately I think that because I wasn’t able to take in any substantial calories over the 14mile, two-hour stretch, I set the table for a very long and humbling day from mile 28 to 50.  Hey, shit happens, and not every race can go your way.  It’s a good reminder that I can apply to life overall, not just races.  That being said it is interesting for me to assess how I reacted to the situation, because in my drinking days, I really took these experiences very hard.

Over the last few years if I had experienced a tough day at a race I would have immediately sought out the nearest corner store and drank myself “back to life.”  The mind of an alcoholic at work is a very reactive thing, and drinking was my way to deal with my sorrows.  I also would have played the victim, proclaiming to everyone that asked how the race went by behaving in such a way that promoted the need for attention and reassurance that I was still a good person.  I would have craved the attention, sought it out, begged for it, and if I didn’t get it I would have had a self-inflicted pity party.  I would have played the victim of a bad day.  What a selfish and egotistic way of dealing with it. For what?  It’s only a race, you’re supposed to enjoy the experience, not let it bring you down and effect your confidence and self-worth.  And that’s exactly what a bad day on the race course used to do.  Certainly, and fortunately, I have had a shift in this post race attitude.  Treat every experience, good or bad, as a learning experience.  Assess, adapt, and move forward.  In thinking about this shift I am almost relieved that I don’t have to play the attention seeking victim any longer.  I’ll take that as a win for the day.

Needless to say, I am fired up to move on to the 2015 season.  So many good things are happening in my life and in my mind.  I have a fool-proof love of trail running, for the sake of trail running, not necessarily results.  Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to mapping out the upcoming season.  One realization that I have had is that mentally and physically I find myself being drawn to the longer distances. With that in mind my “A” race next year will be my first attempt at the 100 mile distance, as well as a return to the North Face 50 Miler to take another stab at trying to figure this course out.  Races like this, along with many other things in life, are puzzles, and this race course is one puzzle that I am eager to put together.

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