Nov 2014 Pic

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Random picture from Charlotte. I’ve been meaning to post. I have so many things to write about…

 

Hope Deferred

I needed to post this somewhere. I was sent a survey by the NCSU Aquatic Center. As you know I’m supposed to be learning how to swim. If you’re paying attention to me then you know I haven’t mentioned anything at all about swimming lately on any social network. That’s because it’s not happening. I have received some of the worst treatment by the NCSU Aquatic Center. At the end of this survey, there’s a space where you can “Please feel free to let us know your opinions so than we can continue to offer the best service possible. We appreciate your patronage and hope you will think of us for future classes and programs!”

This is what I wrote. You see no one is ever going to read their survey. No one’s ever gonna know my pain in this, and probably not even care. After I hit the send button, it’s going to go away into the abyss then it will all be over. But then I decided that I don’t have to keep in silence. I don’t want to keep in silence anymore. About anything. So I’m posting my open ended response that I wrote them here. Maybe someone will read this.

I think my experience was really atypical. It wasn’t the best. I started this program in mid July because it was a life long goal to learn how to swim.  I had developed a fear of the water due to nearly drowning as an adolescent. So when I signed up for lessons I was approaching mid 30’s. I’m a graduate student so the summer was the best time to take lessons. I signed up for the 5 lesson private sessions. I had my first meeting, then my instructor stopped emailing me and we couldn’t set a time up. He just stopped responding. He just wouldn’t respond. An entire month went by. I stopped by the manager’s desk 2 weeks after not hearing from my instructor and was told I should wait longer to hear from him before the center could set me up with another instructor. The day before asking for a refund back (because I’m a grad student) the Aquatic center emailed me to talk about setting up another instructor. He rocked! But by that point it was already early Sept. Finally I could resume lessons. Scheduling was difficult due to my graduate schedule but we did make lessons. We had two really good ones. Apparently the 3rd lesson was scheduled over Fall Break. The fault lies somewhat with me because I didn’t realize this and should have made sure. But since campus was shut down, I was away at a conference. I then was alerted via email that I had missed my lesson and that I was going to lose it. In other words, I just lost a lesson scheduled when school was closed. So although I started this out paying for 5 lessons over 5 weeks, I will receive 4 lessons over 3 months at the same cost. I have one more lesson left now. So I paid $95, still can’t really swim, and what should have taken 5 weeks max has now taken 3 months, and I’m being charged for a lesson that was scheduled when campus was shut down for holiday while I was presenting at a conference. I think after the first instructor bailed on me, I kinda became that problem that needed to be swept under the rug. I can’t really say that I’m satisfied with the treatment I’ve received or the level of progress I thought I would make. But assuming this case is atypical, no one is ever going to really hear about this and the Aquatic center will continue to get raving reviews from the patrons who attend. It just bothers me because of how important and how much of a personal thing this really means for me to try to be brave enough to get into water and then no one seems to value it but me. I know people have different personal journeys but mine is learning to swim. There is no victory for me on this end nor is there honor in this on the Aquatic center’s end. Instead, I’ve been let down by the Aquatic Center and at this point even wondering if it’s worth it to me to show up for this last lesson when all evidence leads me to think I’m going to have to sign up for MORE swim lessons with another company or private instructor not NCSU affiliated. It’s not fair and what started out as something so hopeful and enjoyable in the summer has become just another one of life’s little frustrations in the Fall.

I don’t expect any type of movement to come out of this or any type of refund or any type of amends. But NCSU failed me on this one. And that’s just the truth.

Guess I better go get ready for that last lesson.

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

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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.

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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!

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