Dear Blog

I still exist.

I’m just tired. And swamped.

But I haven’t forgotten about you. I blame that sexy, attractive little minx called “Twitter” for why I’ve been away.

But I haven’t abandoned you.

Promise.

Bronze Colored Waters

North Carolina native Clay Aiken may have said it best:

“On my way here, where I am now, I’ve learned to fly I have to want to leave the ground; I’ve fallen hard but I’ve been loved, and in the end it all works out. Faith has conquered fear. On my way here […] I’d rather try and fail, 1000 times denied at least whenever you feel pain, it lets you know that you’re alive.”

 The beautiful shores of Hawaii. Is there any site better on this planet?

Best view of Hawaii!!

Best view of Hawaii!!

 

Today,  I do something I never thought I would. I conquer my swim fear. I’ve already posted the story of how the fear came to be. And how it’s stayed with me. What I haven’t done is talk about what it means to get rid of it. It’s official for me. I signed up for lessons. And my first one is today. I have my swim trunks. I’ll probably buy goggles later. I even have my sandals.

You see I’m a runner. I run. Running is calming. Running is safe. Running is an old habit that I am prepared to do at any minute. I haven’t run in months, yet earlier this evening I told myself that I was going to run due to the stress from school and the fact that I do miss working out daily. I’ve given myself visions of racing in and winning a 10K. A half-marathon. Who knows how far I could take it if I really submitted myself to daily training, and a strict diet. I could take running far, because I’ve done it for years. Well over a decade. But as I ran this morning, a thought occurred to me. Running is a lot of things to me.

But running is also a crutch. It doesn’t require work. It requires almost nothing from me save the investment in a new pair of nikes, which I absolutely need at this point (Orange preferably, size 11-12… in case anyone is keeping score… ). I run a distance of 5K pretty much whenever I want to and to be completely honest, in 3 weeks prep, I could run a 10K. Easy. When I lived at the beach, I would come home from school and run that distance nightly. In life both figuratively and literally, running is always the easiest option for me. Always. Just put foot to ground and keep it moving. I can use running to hide. You see, I will tell myself that I am doing it to get fit. That I am doing it to train for a future race. I’ll deceive myself that I am doing it to start my day off on the right foot. Or end my stressful day that I just endured. I might even post a picture to Instagram because well, fitness selfies are in vogue right now.

But the truth is, I’ll be running is the best way for me to control the anxiety that goes with thinking about swimming. this morning I got up early and ran because it’s the last chance I’ll have to run away from what I have to face. It’s not everyone’s challenge. But it’s mine. To put on swim trunks and walk into the recreation center, and meet a trainer. That is exciting yet difficult all in the same breath. I have to face the one thing I’ve been running from forever. The water.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken pictures like this at the beach or at fancy hotels:

Managing the Water...

Managing the Water…

Me nervously smiling while my legs dangle in the water. In a pool that’s 3 feet. What the picture doesn’t reveal is that by the time I’ve sat down on the edge, I’ve already calculated how deep the pool is, and how far out I can walk in it and still have my arm on the guardrails, as well as the location of all 4 lifeguards in attendance. Just in case stuff goes south.

A funny memory: Senior Beach Week in Myrtle Beach, SC. My friends and I had rented out a hotel for a weekend. It was awesome! But I remember we also had a large pool in the back. Not very deep at all. I had walked out and somehow in the actual pool had tripped or lost my footing. I remember I began to panic and I said, “I’m drowning!” My guy friends all looked at me and laughed, deservingly so… one of my friends simply said, “Why don’t you try standing, Calvin.”  Sure enough, the pool was about 4 feet deep…while I was 5’10 tall. “Oops…right,” I remember squeaking out. It was all in good humor but I remember being incredibly embarrassed.

So there I sit always on the edge, but never quite in the deep end of the pool. Always with my head above water, never holding my breath and going under. How does one maintain two identities that simply don’t go together: I absolutely love the beach. I LOVE the Beach. The beach is my element, it is my home. And yet I don’t go in the ocean. A deep desire of mine I’ve never really shared is that I want to learn how to surf one day. You can have the skateboards (especially since every day on campus at least 5 of them crash into me or into each other). But to put on a wet suit and ride the waves across Hawaii, Bermuda, the Carribean. Wilmington. Miami. That is my dream. Now I understand that I might not look as hot as my baby here crashing surfing on her boogie board…

 

"That's dangerous...!"

“That’s dangerous…!”

But I think I can come pretty damn close!

I refuse to live with regret. I refuse. It’s why that line, “I’d rather try and fail— 1000 times denied” is so powerful to me. I have to try to swim because the only alternative is never to learn to swim and miss the joy of swimming in a pool with my family. I can’t imagine never kissing my baby in the open ocean, especially given the choice of places we want to go for honeymoon. Never enjoying a cruise for fear of what I would do if we had to abandon ship.  Never really enjoying the reality of purchasing a house on the beach. Not really having an alternative as I know one day my knee is going out on me and running won’t be something I can do as often.

Never crossing the finish line of a triathlon with my baby’s hand in mine. Or never finally going scuba diving or snorkling, both of which I have admired and dreamt of doing since I was a kid.

Who wouldn't want to get in the water with that pretty lady in green?

Who wouldn’t want to get in the water with that pretty lady in green?

The easy thing is to run. I can run past the recreation center as I have done since I was 13. As I have done everyday since being on campus. I can run. I can run forever. But running won’t cause me to grow. The water will. So to steal a phrase from my very best friend, my support system and the woman that pushes me harder than any PhD program ever could…

It’s not time to jump. It’s time to swim.

 

 

Hawaii Fit

These are my all time favorite pair of swim trunks.

Hawaii on my mind and around my waist

Hawaii on my mind and around my waist

I know I still haven’t learned to swim just yet. But these swim trunks mean the world for me. You see back in August, I took a trip to one of the best places on earth. Hawaii. I went for business but it was the leisure side of things that really has always stuck in my heart some 3 months later. Hawaii was where I really got a chance to discover something: Life with family.

It is family that really builds the foundation of our hopes and dreams and gets us to achieve those dreams. When my family calls me and tells me they are proud of the man I’ve become, that makes me smile. When I speak with my father and we laugh on the phone for a bit, I am joyful. When my sisters tell me I am a “good man”, I feel so proud and want to be an even better one.

When I hold my baby’s hand and walk along the beach with her, as she fusses at the kids, screaming out both names… I can’t imagine life without her. Or them. In Hawaii, I realized something that touched me more than any business related event ever could. I realized… I fit. I actually fit. It sounds so simple, yet the phrase “I fit” has eluded me for a life time. Think of all the nomenclature used for the perennial loner, and that’s me: nomad, lone wolf, wanderer, here today gone tomorrow, lone rider. That has been me my entire life. Be in high school, especially in undergrad. Not so much in grad school.

Hawaii was different because the feeling of fitting in, of being the 4th puzzle piece to a jigsaw consisting of only 3. As we all walked along a busy street in Waikiki, amidst buses with Korean and Japanese writing, and scores of tourists taking photos, the one prevalent thought that appeared over and over is “this just fits”. It does. As we sat around the swimming pool making jokes and laughing. As we went to hard rock cafe and had dinner.

As we sat and bought skateboards (and argued about it afterwards!).

As we sat and had coconut flavored pancakes (WHY can’t I find that anywhere in NC?!?).

As we sat outside a hotel on a cold night having very serious talks. About friendship in love.

As I woke up Sunday morning sending the most heart felt email I’ve ever written to the woman I love while over looking the pacific ocean.

Sunday morning view

Sunday morning view

Another Angle

IMG_4870

 

 

All I can think about is that she represents my future. She represents my heart. She represents my family. I’ve spoken before about restoration. But who knew that the Lord could treat me so good? When you’ve found home, nothing will ever make you leave it. When you’re wondering, you leave home every night. I leave Raleigh frequently— because it isn’t home to me. It never truly has been. Never shall it be really.

But I do know where my home is. I do know where my family lies. And I do know the central part of my future. And it’s with her. I feel so powerful with her. I’m know I’m going a little link happy in this post, but the truth is, if you read the last year’s worth of post the common theme running through is that for once…I’m happy. And loved. And not alone. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Hawaii represents happiness. Not just because of flaunting bikini bodies. Not just because of watching my lover get taken out by a wave on a boogie board which was quite funny as she screamed ‘That’s dangerous!!”). But the memories we all shared as a family that day. WOW!

I love you, baby. I love our soon to be “unified” family. I love our future. And I love that the Lord brought us here to be together. Hawaii will always be our spot. And it will always be where I first got the blessing of seeing our life together. I love you, baby.

So these are more than swim trunks to me. They are a symbol. A symbol of the love I have in my life. And the hope I have in my future with you.

The best blessing I ever received in my life was being able to love and marry my very best friend. And be with you for life.

 

I adore…

I need to put this somewhere and this is the best spot. This is not fitness related…well, I guess if you mean emotional fitness it is.

I just want to say this…

Look we all know that Miley does some really crazy @#$% these days. BUT my baby dedicated this song to us last night. I just wanted to say this is one of the most beautiful songs ever. Sent to me by the most beautiful woman ever. I love you, baby and I hear you! I just want you to know that personally, I think it’s impossible for you to love me more than I love you! Yet, I hope that we spend the rest of our lives competing in this one area— who can love who most. There will never be a loser in this.

Thank you, baby. You love me perfectly. I never knew people were capable of actually loving in a Christ like way. I never knew it at all.

And you make my eyes water with the good love that you give. I’m a King… and I never knew it until I met you. You make me a King, baby. You’ll always be my Queen and together we shall conquer it all. I love you, baby. I just want you to know that I love you so much. I would do anything for you. Thank you for showing me I deserve good love. And only you could ever give it. If all the failures I’ve suffered in life, I consider my life a success— the Lord showed you to me.

And I have never seen anything or anyone more spectacular. I’m glad we’re having fun being us. I’m glad we’re Pre-Engaged. I’ve always considered us as such. I just want you to know though… we won’t be in that stage ever. When we advance to the next one, I will be so joyous to even be able to praise Him. For love. For a best friend. For a protector. For Restoration. Thank you for giving me a hope and a smile in life at a time when I had lost so much of it.

I love you, Pretty Lady.  I love you with all my heart.

IMG_5111

 

Forever comes sooner than you think.

10K Training Update: Sept. 2013

Whew, I’m tired.

I’ve still been training for the most part, but I am tired. This last week, I’ve had to travel for a retreat. Afterwards, I caught a nasty bug or flu or something that I have just not been able to shake, although now I seem to starting to get over this. I’m fighting hard to fight my “normal” of staying up late to get work accomplished. Instead I’ve been getting up early, like around 8:00 am and getting bed at a fairly reasonable time (for me).

I’ve actually learned to do something that it has taken me forever to get well at— establishing boundaries. I don’t check email anymore after 7:00 pm really and not before 11:00 am. I actually don’t go into work on Thursday’s anymore until afternoon but I use it as a half day (I run in the morning times though when I can’t sleep). Life is happening. I’m finally able to progress emotionally and professionally in a lot of different ways. Wednesday’s are really long for me, and by the time my 4:30 class starts, I am just done emotionally. For better or for worse, I don’t have it in me to do work after Wednesday’s end or even go to the gym. SO instead, I write or read Spidey.

I don’t think I’m the kind of blogger that will run and post a selfie or a post about the emotional meanings of the run daily. I would get bored with that and so I think my readers would be as well. There’s enough marathoners and runner who post those sort of posts daily and that’s their bread and butter. Not me folks.

But running helps to make my life more complete, and I can build things around it. So every once a while, I’ll post about running.

Today, just to catch you up, life has been good. REALLY good!

Last Monday was a really good day. I’m so happy!!! I may one day fully post about it. Working on a post in my head…maybe…

I’ve discovered a love of NFL football. I watch my Texans faithfully (and even my Broncos, hehehe!). I watched the NFL on and off for years.

My last public appearance of me in my Panther's jersey

My last public appearance of me in my Panther’s jersey. It is officially retired, now.

I’ve followed 4 teams ever. When the Panther’s first came out, I followed them. You’ll remember they went to the superbowl that year. Afterwards, they just sort of fell by the wayside as did my following the game. I followed them for that one full season. One of my closest friends got me BACK into football but as fate would have it…he and his family were Browns fans! I followed them as it was part of a group. But I don’t know if I ever felt “connected” to the team. There’s only so many times you can watch a team go 3-14 before NFL once again is no longer fun. This last year has been about change, though.  And Restoration. So for once, I decided to pick a team I wanted for me.  A team that symbolized Calvin. Enter the Texans. Truly a Calvin team! Wonderful wins, fantastic losses, but always fighting to the end. I’m a Texan. For life. And the Broncos— any team that looks that good kicking ass in Orange is going to be on my radar. I can tell you though if I lived in Seattle, I totally would get season tix to Seahawks games! There’s a nasty rumor going around that I watch Cowboys games, but um… you have no evidence!!! ;-) (My Pretty Lady will get that! and will probably start working on that evidence.)

I guess unlike last year, I’m learning balance. I don’t have to spend 70+ years in my lab working. I can spend 50+ hours and actually spend time watching the game. I need to be right mentally and emotionally before I fully run myself crazy on the treadmill.

I’m starting to think about… Post Docs! Already. I won’t be in school forever. I won’t be in NC forever, actually. I’m really leaving this to the Lord since wherever I go affects me and my then-family. But I know there’s a place for me professionally where I will shine!

This will probably be the best Christmas Eve ever! I love the holidays! I already want the Fall semester to be over with.

I’ve found a 10K I’m interested in doing as well!

I guess in short, I’m writing to say life is good. Finally on track. And good. I’m happy. Joyful. Thankful. The running is just reflective of that…not the sole focus of it.

I’m still here. You’ll see pictures posted, Lord willing, one day of my first race. I can’t wait to meet that personal goal!

Fears that Swim

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been meditating on the best way to write this one, so it’s been swimming in my head for the longest. I think with some of these posts as a blogger, the best thing to do is just to start writing and let the words try to form a coherent structure with which we hope we can express ourselves. Tonight is one such post.

So I have a fear. I don’t have too many of those really. But here’s one that the time has come to finally conquer.

This all began when I was 13. You see I had went to Myrtle Beach, is sunny South Carolina with my family for what was supposed to be a day trip. I will never forget it for as long as I live. I admit it was foolish to go that far out to sea but then again, what 13 year old boy doesn’t take risks on a day to day basis? My mother and sister sat on the beach soaking up the rays while I decided to get my feet wet. Well at first it was my feet. Then my knees. Then my stomach. What the hey, if the water comes up to my chest I’ll be fine, really.

I’m playing around flapping in the water (happily, I might add). For some reason, almost suddenly, the brightness of the sun was blocked. It got really dark, really fast. My back was turned and I was still having a great time. But I look over at my mother and sister. My mother, who had beautiful caramel colored skin, was suddenly pale white. My oldest sister, sitting beside her had her jaw drop with only muffled sounds coming out. I caught enough of a glimpse of her to see her pointing at me. What on Earth had grabbed her attention so much?

It was when I turned around that I realized she wasn’t pointing at me. She was pointing at behind me. And it wasn’t a solar eclipse that had blocked out the sun. It was the biggest wave I had ever seen in my life. It had risen so high, it seemed higher than the great wall of China. It was monstrous.

I didn’t get long to stand in its awe. In fact, it wasn’t long before I wasn’t standing at all. Down on me it crashed.

The force of water is awesome. It felt like a ton of concrete had been dropped on my head. It literally felt like bricks or mortar being flung at me. It slapped me in the face something horrible. I was knocked completely off my feet, and sent underwater, completely submerged. It wasn’t long before sand filled water over took my eyes, my nose, my lungs. I gasped for air. I tried to stand up and almost made it, but another almost equally as powerful wave came directly behind it sending me to the bottom of the water again. My head hurt. I couldn’t breathe.

What I also neglected to mention is that I also couldn’t swim. I was wading in the water for a bit and over estimated my ability to run back on land should a problem arise. Momentarily I floated, all four limbs above my body. I was completely powerless against the might of the Atlantic ocean. As the reality set in that today I might perish, I regretted not being smarter. Panic set in.

As a great, Pretty Lady might say, “Welcome to Fear”.

Time stopped. I remember that although I couldn’t breathe, I saw little particles of sand floating by me. Where there was light, a growing darkness started to overcome the light. The brown colored water began to get darker…and darker…

But the darkness can never overcome the light!

With a last bit of strength, resiliency and willpower, I steadied my body for one last fight. One last push. One final attempt. I will never go down unless I’m going down fighting! And I fought! Somehow I turned myself over and was able to grab something. Was it a rock, a reef, some poor swimmer’s leg? The hand of God? Whatever it was, I pulled on it and was able to flip myself over and pull myself back to far enough to my head could get out of the water and I could breathe. My strength began to grow and I righted myself enough to get out the water onto the land.

The last thing I saw was my mother and sister running towards me at full speed. Before they got there though, the next 10 minutes was spent upchucking salt water and sand from my stomach and lungs. My lungs hurt like someone had stepped on them! I was in pain. I had aches and pains a full week after. The memory of my sister and mother holding me to make sure I was okay, and my mother shouting obscenities at me for being so careless fills my head to this day.

I haven’t went that far into the water since.

I mean I lived in Wilmington for two years. I went to the beach and still got my feet wet. But I almost never went in beyond my hips, even after puberty hit and I got a couple growth spurts.

Today, I’ll sit in low pools. I’ll sit in jacuzzi’s. But that’s it.

And I have decided that that is not enough. This year is a year of freedom. A year of breaking old chains. A year of breaking any bondage that has kept me down.

I need to get over my fear of swimming. I no longer want to sit in the water. Or put my feet in it. I want to swim in it. Actually enjoy it!

IMG_5452This is the destination.

I’m signing up for swim classes. I’ll be mid 30′s soon. Very soon. It’s time to get over an almost 20 year fear. If I can do it, anyone can. Maybe we don’t have to be slaves to fear. Maybe we don’t have to fear love, life, hurt, pain, failure, loss. All the negative of life.

Maybe there’s a better way. Maybe I can inspire someone. And if not, maybe I can inspire myself. But I want for someone who loves life and the beach as much as I do, the fact that I don’t swim is an abomination. It makes no sense.

So maybe I wrote this more so to myself than to the readers. But I think that if there’s any fear in your life you need to conquer, NOW is the time to do it.

Just do it. Do it SCARED if you have to. But just do it.

Love. Live. Ask that person for forgiveness. Forgive that person. Take that money risk (as long as it’s calculated). Ask him / her out for lunch. Finally pay off that debt that’s been plaguing you for years. Attack life by the horns. Show the world how beautiful you are…and don’t worry what they say about you.

That’s what really being heroic is, to me. It’s not realistic to avoid fear. But the true show of strength is to face it head on.

That’s what I’m doing from here on out. Starting in the swimming pool!

I’m actually conquering two fears. I’m super frightened of even posting this on a public forum. I’d like to keep my vulnerabilities and private fears…private. But that doesn’t serve me, my readers or those who look to me for inspiration. So instead, I proudly display those fears. For the world. And I say enjoy them while they last.

They won’t be here forever.

Go Heroic.

 

Lab to 10K

There’s no question on this site how much I love running. None. I’ve decided to take it to the next level.

Over the years, I’ve left the gentle feel of the trails and ground for the hard iron of the weight room. Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit stagnant on what to write about on the site though. And I realized something.

I’m a little bored with it all. The bodybuilding stuff that is. The massive muscles, the supplements, the wild hours in the gym. It’s just all so… monotonous. Lately, I had been feeling the fitness bug and thought that maybe my dedication was lacking. Well, it’s not that at all. It’s that I needed to keep inspired. And counting how many sets I spent on the incline bench just wasn’t doing it anymore.

Boredom is disaster for me. I put running down because I was a little bored with gaining the mileage. But lately, it’s all I’ve wanted to do. Running, unlike bodybuilding, has a very STRONG spiritual / religious aspect to it for me. The prayer I do while hitting the pavement, and the endorphins that arise in my body… it brings me closer to the Lord moreso than any iron ever has. That’s why I can never, ever let it go for long. I’m ready to lace up my sneakers again. But this time, I want to add a new dimension to an old favorite.

I want to compete.

You heard it here folks. I want to run. Like so many of my friends do like Krysten, Hollie and Christina.

As I’ve thought about this more and more, I realize that running and blogging go hand in hand for me. I wasn’t running. So I stopped blogging became lost as a writer and seriously contemplated deleting this blog. I had no purpose in the blogosphere.

As it turns out, running gives me a purpose and part of that purpose is writing. Which brings me to my goal of giving my running a new purpose (I sure hope that wasn’t as confusing to read as it was to write. Oh my I have a headache now!)

On my “regular” runs, (which are cheaper than therapy as my baby would say) I normally run a distance of 5K. I’ve admitted this before, but the fact is I am a S L O W runner. My average 5K time is around 40 min. I’m a bit of a wonderer, so if I happen to take notice of butterflies, cardinals, flowers (I’m a sensitive guy, ya’ll!) It could easily take me 45 min or so. I don’t try to run fast as I don’t want to miss anything. But the way my mind works, “training to run a 5K race” doesn’t compute. That’s silly to me because 5K is for sight seeing, viewing nature and getting a quick workout in.

I used to run 10K distances in grad school. There was a place in Wilmington called “the Loop”. I would head there usually after class, some nights very, very late around midnight and run around twice. That distance was approximately 10K. I lost a lot of weight doing that. The sounds of the beach waters would just amaze me.

I can train to run a 10K race, but I can’t train to run a 5K. So…I’m training to run a 10K. There’s not that many in and around Raleigh, but one thing I have found is this little gem:

This is a 5K at the Fairgrounds on Sept. 13. See all the bright lights? People having a good time? Neon colors traveling at the speed of light? New friendships being forged?

It’s a very, very, very Calvin race.

I think my plan, which was imparted to me by the best woman ever, an athlete in her own right, is to train for 10K. But run a few 5Ks for fun until I can find a 10K to compete in. I have my eyes on an 8K in the area near Thanksgiving.

In short, I hope to use this blog for talking about my great love for the Lord, and all the wonderful things He’s done for me (even today, I got wonderful news!), talk about how in love I am with my baby, and hopefully posts pics from upcoming races. I’ve already started training by running a few 5K practice runs. I’m cleaning up my diet while learning what foods will work best.

What gear will I need? What energy candy will be the best for me? Can I make a personal record? Then beat it? So many things to think about…

My ultimate goal with this? I’m not sure. I think… I think… I want to run a half marathon within 1 year. We’ll see. But that’s the goal. A year from now, as I am really hitting my mid 30′s, I want my life to continually get better.

Here’s a start. Returning to my first love. And competing in it.

%d bloggers like this: