Let's all be uncomfortable

When I first posted to Facebook a few days ago about some thoughts I was having about church, I was overwhelmed at the response. It turns out that many people have had a lot of the same thoughts, and were curious to read my first blog post

It's been a while since I blogged about something other than running, so approaching this subject is difficult. Before I continue to expand on my thoughts from "Time to stop being comfortable," I want to make sure I'm clear on a few things: 

  • I'm not going to be afraid to ruffle some feathers. We have to talk about this. Thus my title on this post -- stop being comfortable about things in the church when there are obvious issues. And if you don't have any problems, that is perfectly OK! 
  • I won't go into great detail about this, but it's important to know I'm not approaching this with tunnel vision. My church-going experience, my education and my professional experience is much more than just with the UMC. 
  • This is not meant to be an attack on the Methodist Church or religion. I will do my best to not let that happen. I want the conversations to remain civil. We'll disagree at times, but that's OK. That's part of finding solutions.

Lastly, I want to say thanks for reading and for joining in. Let's keep the uncomfortable conversations going. 

The Power of 3: June goals

May was so bad that I haven't added up my running miles for the month. I also haven't stepped on the scale in a while to know how badly I did with my goal of losing a few pounds for the month. I'm pretty confident I gained a few. 

It was a horrible month in many ways with my allergies contributing to quite a bit of my problems. It got so bad in the middle of the month that I finally went to the doctor. That medication helped, but it also made me feel weird. There's no doubt that I have to do something completely different next allergy season. 

But tomorrow is a new day, a new week and a new month. It's never easy to just flip the switch to a new mindset, but that's what I'm attempting to do. It feels like a Jan. 1 often feels -- something has to change for me. Better eating, better workouts, better everything. 

Instead of recapping what happened in May with my goals (2 out of 3 did happen), I'd rather focus on the next 30 days and be realistic about what I need to do to end the month in a much better place than I am today. 

1) Focus on a 5K
That means much more focused running than I've done in the past couple of months. I've written down my run schedule: easy days on Monday, speedwork on Tuesday, hills on Thursday, easy or off on Friday, some kind of distance mixed with speed on the weekend. It's a loose plan that will become more defined over the next couple of weeks. 

2) Streaks
In January, I did a push-ups challenge with a friend of mine -- 1 push-up for whatever day of the month it was. (1 on the 1st, 2 on the 2nd, etc.) It went really well in January, so now is a great time to do it again since I haven't done any push-ups in a month. For June, I plan to add sit-ups. 

3) Eat better
No wrapped candy that I let sneak back into my diet. More salads. Less second helpings. There's no real big goal with this other than to get back to some basics and let it last all summer and beyond. 

The Power of 3: May goals

I'm not sure where time is going, but it's crazy how quickly the first few days of this month have gone. It makes it really easy to not set any goals, but then that would just filter into the summer. 

For May, I'm keeping it simple for my 3 goals. 

1. Finish yard work
This is a combination of things -- pulling weeds, finishing the garden and picking up the last remaining debris from last winter. The drawback of living in a neighborhood full of old, tall trees is the constant cleaning up, which is something I didn't do a good job with last year. 

2. Run a new race
One of my running goals for this year is to run at least 3 new races. Since I'm 1/3 of the way into the year, I need to get on this!

3. Lose 3 pounds
Why 3? Because I'm all about the "Power of 3." And that's 3 that I gained back in late March and April after I lost 7 to kick off the year.

(And 4 ... Find a 4-leaf clover ...) 

I don't find 4-leaf clovers; they find me.

A photo posted by David H. (@runningbecause) on


The Power of 3: April Check-up

Now that 1/3 of 2015 is already gone, I'm at the point where I'm asking myself if I want to keep doing 3 goals a month. It's easy to say I'm done ... but I can't stop. I just need to figure out what's realistic, yet fun. I'm not ready to post May goals yet, but here's a look at how April went: 

1. Clean outside
While my allergies were horrible, I did manage to get rid of a large pile of sticks in my front yard and cleaned up an area for a small garden. It'll make May be a little easier.  

2. Blog weekly
I did this, sticking mostly to running, but it's done! I need to write more about other stuff though. 

3. Ride my bike
I got one ride in! It counts, right? 

How wearing my underwear backward changed my life

I'm not going to explain the headline yet. I can't. Honestly. It makes no sense, but it will one day. 

So why am I even writing this? Isn't this worse than those vague "Prayers Please" Facebook posts? 

Maybe. 

But after my post yesterday about making sure I blog at least once a week about anything, I started thinking about what my old journal-keeping self would think of this future self that I've become where I don't write down things on my mind. 

I use to vague-journal in private, which is not much different than vague-booking now (aka posting things with no context on Facebook), so there's no reason I can't just put down thoughts that will make sense one day. Vague-blogging is the next cool thing I tell you.

So yeah, there have been some weird things happen lately when I have worn my underwear unintentionally backward. The title may be a stretch on the impact it's had on my life because I don't know the middle or the end of the story yet, but it will make sense one day ... 

The Power of 3: March Check-up

This was a weird month in which I put a lot of focus early in the month on my dog who had some health issues. That was a major distraction from any goals. That said, this month wasn't a complete disaster, but I'm disappointed in how it all played out.

I can't stop with setting goals though -- this is a great plan and has helped me focus on getting organized, but there's much to improve. 

1. Have a relaxing drink on the beach
It was pretty cold for the day of Shamrock, but I did have a couple of drinks on the beach shortly after the race. It's tough to call it "relaxing." 

2. Clean/re-arrange my bedroom
This is an on-going battle with my stuff and motivation to get fully cleaned up. I did throw out a couple of bags of trash, as well as taking a couple of bags of clothes to Goodwill, so that's a start. (I also cleaned the dust off my ceiling fan!) Re-arranging will come later this spring. 

3. Photo clean-up, continued
My free weekend time to do this was limited, so I got nowhere on this project.

To kick off Q2 of 2015, I want April to be a month that carries this theme of organizing, but have that be a part of only one goal. January started off so great that I'm determined to not let a few disappointments stop my "Power of 3" series.

1. Clean outside
I need to get off the focus of organizing inside and clean up outside. My shed needs a re-do so I can get to my lawnmower. Winter sticks and yard debris also need to get cleaned up, as well as prepping a spot for a garden. 

2. Blog weekly
I love writing outside of my day job and running. I need to write about something weekly. I don't know what, but I want to get back in touch with that side of myself. 

3. Ride my bike
I haven't been on my bike since early fall last year. While this is a fitness goal, it's also great time with my son as I try to get him to take training wheels of his bike. 

All you need is love

For the past few years, March has been a tough month. Today, March 9, is my grandfather's birthday. He would have been 88 today. A little more than a week after his 84th birthday, he passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's. 

At his funeral, I delivered a family eulogy. It was, after all, my grandfather's request to me before I was even 20 years old. Every March around his birthday, I take a look back at what I read that day. 

I want to share with more of the world today some of what I said at his funeral nearly four years ago. The way he lived his life is a great reminder for me to live life with more love and focus on things that make me happy ... it's a perfect way to celebrate his birthday with a beer at my side and think about all the great things he did. 

* * *

My grandfather has taught me many, many things in my life, from some very little things to some very important life lessons. I want to share some of those things with you today, and I hope that he taught you some of those same things.
 
I learned from grandpa that you don’t put rubbing alcohol on an open wound because one time when I wrecked a bike that’s what he tried to do …
 
he taught me the proper way to walk a dog, although I sometimes need some help with that today …
 
I learned by watching him how to take care of a lawn, although I somehow have never had grass as green as his …
 
he taught me not to put ketchup on a steak …
 
his love for football on Sundays taught me how to remain loyal to a team no matter what happens, a lesson I’ve carried through in tough times in recent years with the Redskins …
 
even my wardrobe was impacted by him – the tie I’m wearing today is one I saw him wear many, many times (and as a side note, I impacted his wardrobe with a couple of sweaters that I passed along to him as I went up in size through high school) …
 
but on a more serious note, I have realized more and more this week that my grandfather taught me how to be happy.
 
If there’s anyone who knew how to enjoy life and make the best of it, it was my grandfather. In looking through family photos this week, every photo of him has this genuine smile that no one else does.
 
From photos of him as a young man in the Navy, to early photos of him and my grandmother, to photos of him with his siblings and kids, and from the mid-1970s on, photos with us grandchildren.
 
For me and everyone else in my family, being happy at a time like this is tough, but this week we have celebrated his life with stories and memories, through a lot of tears and a lot of laughter.
 
And I hope that the things I have learned from my grandfather over the years are things you can take with you today.

I believe that the main reason that my grandfather was happy throughout his life was because he knew how to love.
 
From the love he had for his parents years ago, to the love he shared with his siblings growing up and through life, to meeting my grandmother more than 60 years ago, to all the great moments with his children and grandchildren, I believe that my grandfather had an open heart to life, which lead to that never-ending smile on his face.
 
Even in the past few years as my grandfather’s health declined, he would manage to sneak in a smile or give his infamous wink or make this weird donkey sound that none of us can imitate or find a way to laugh. I know that his happiness in life compares nothing to the happiness he has today in Heaven.
 
I have this feeling that he’s already shared a good laugh up there with everyone he knew who has passed before him. I can’t wait for the day to share his love and laughter again.
 
Many years ago my grandfather asked me to speak at his funeral, and I’ve thought over and over again what I’d say, or what stories I may share. 
 
This week, though, I thought about what my grandfather would want me to say – what would he want the rest of the world to know about him.
 
I will gladly lend an open ear to anyone to tell a story, and I know that everyone in family will gladly do the same – we’ve done so much of that this week – but as I stand here in this church I grew up in and the church that my grandfather attended for years, I know he would want me to keep this short and to the point. He wouldn’t want you to be late for lunch.
 
As you leave here today and think about my grandfather today and weeks, months and years from now just remember this – he loved life no matter what, and he loved everyone who stepped foot in his life. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

What a lot of words there are (Or Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss)

Good words, bad words. What a lot of words there are. 

I've been writing a lot of words for many years. From keeping a journal in 8th grade to writing love letters to writing headlines to writing Facebook posts ... I've probably written millions of words about a lot of things. 

You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

For a while now, I've had an incredible amount of writer's block. For my day job it's not quite so bad, but when it comes to writing about running or other goals or other stories in life, I've been stuck. I have learned, though, to not force anything. 

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

When the words are ready to come out about whatever it is I want to say, they will flow. Slowly but surely they will. They always have. 

Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting. So ... get on your way.

On this day of the birth of Dr. Seuss, I've obviously spent some time looking up his quotes seeking some inspiration. He didn't always make sense. He didn't have to. He just wrote words. 

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.

Good words. Bad words. What a lot of words there are. 

Happy birthday Dr. Seuss.

A photo posted by David H. (@runningbecause) on

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

The Power of 3: February Check-up

February was a weird month. January's motivation didn't carry over into this month like I had hoped, but it wasn't a complete disaster either. Here's a quick look at my goals for the month and what's ahead for March. 

1. Photo clean-up
My wife and condensed a couple of boxes into 1 and threw away probably 100 or so photos that made no sense to keep. There are a lot of photos left to sort in the attic. I also deleted a couple of hundred photos from my phone. I'll carry this goal into March though because I don't want to stop what we started. 

2. Clean my "office"
Well this didn't happen. Part of my problem is my bedroom isn't organized like I want it to be right now, and getting an office together in this space is a thought that just overwhelms me for no reason. It's a mental hurdle to get over. The whole room needs an overhaul!

3. Go bowling!
Yes! In fact, the day I posted my goals we went bowling because I had off work and my son had off school. My son also went a second time during the month for a birthday party. 

Now that I'm 2 months into "The Power of 3" goals outside of running, I am comfortable with the approach of at least one goal that focuses on organizing and one goal that focuses on an activity. Getting organized shouldn't cause stress, but it does, and I'm ready to put an end to those feelings. 

Here's what's on tap for March. 
1. Have a relaxing drink on the beach
This slips over into running, but the Shamrock Half is approaching. I have a work event the night before and with very little sleep will run the race the next day. Taking the time to put my phone down, take off my shoes and truly relax on the beach is something that will be very well deserved that week. It's also a really easy goal to keep in mind in what is going to be a really busy month. 

2. Clean/re-arrange my bedroom
I realize that setting up an office space for me was too specific for a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

3. Photo clean-up, continued
See No. 1 from above! This will also help continue the attic project that started in January. 

The Power of 3: January Check-up

Focusing on "The Power of 3" in the first month of the year has been great. It's helped me refocus on what's important and has gotten me back to being more goal oriented. 

Here's a look at goals I set up for myself and family for January and how things went: 

1. Begin organizing my attic 
This has actually started well as the Christmas section of the attic is in much, much better shape. I also organized our baby clothes to put ones already used twice farther away from ones we'll have to reuse soon. I wish I had taken some before and after photos, but the initial space when going up the attic is much cleaner. Lots of work remains, but it's much better. 

2. Write down dinner menus 
This has been a great thing to get back to doing regularly and something I'm sure we'll have no problem continuing. 

3. Clean up my email
I unsubscribed to 23 email subscriptions through my email account, a joint one with my wife and my work account. I was surprised to see how many of the same emails I was getting from a places. I also had a net loss of about 600 emails in my work account. It's amazing how out of control that still feels, but it's a nice improvement.

A photo posted by David H. (@runningbecause) on

As for February, this theme of getting organized must continue! I'm also throwing in a fun one for the family: 

1. Photo clean-up
In our attic, we have a ton of photos in boxes and albums that are all over the place or simply not labeled. I also need to download and delete photos off my phone. 

2. Clean my "office"
I have a nice desk and a good spot to do work at home, but it's overflowing with receipts, clothes, dust and other stuff. I need some "me" space. 

3. Go bowling!
This sounds so simple, but we've had two failed attempts for $1 bowling day on Mondays in recent months. That has to end! 

The Power of 3

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
— Albert Einstein

Jan. 1 is always an interesting day. It's exciting to set new goals, but I hate getting rid of most of the holiday decorations. It's such a happy day, but it's also pretty sad. Imagine a 15-month-old pouting as we put away one of his favorite Santa toys and Elmo ornaments.  

To make things more interesting, my wife and I ran into an older lady (80 years old with 14 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren) at the grocery store yesterday who just loved our kids. She told us "everything will turn out for the best" no matter what.

Maybe she could sense our financial situation isn't great or she knew that two wound-up kids were causing us stress (although they were quite the "dolls" in Kroger) or she was just being nice and talking to strangers ... whatever it was, it left me thinking about things I want to do in 2015 outside of my running goals

For too many years now, I've set a lot of running goals, but haven't set many family goals. It's something I talk about on Jan. 1, but don't write them down. This year feels different though, and before I get too far along in January, I have to write some things down. 

Yesterday as a family we wrote down three things we'd like to do this year: plan family game nights (this was my son's goal of playing Chutes & Ladders); start the day earlier (my wife's goal; my goal for her is to go to bed earlier to start the day earlier); and spend a weekend in the Outer Banks (my goal to go somewhere different this summer).

I wrote the other day in my running goals about the "Power of 3" and setting 3 goals -- one easy, one challenging and one that stretches myself. Those family goals work out just right -- family game nights tend to happen anyway; getting into a routine of getting up earlier can be a challenge and takes some time to develop; and planning a family vacation stretches my wallet right now. 

These are nice goals to have for the year; they're measurable goals that we've written down and can focus on. We have to take the time each month to see where we stand and make sure we're on track to call each one a success. 

I want to take my "Power of 3" mind-frame a little further, though, and establish 3 goals each month of the year. Like anyone else on Jan. 1, I'd love to get organized, declutter and be an overall better person. Those are so generic though. I want this year to be THE year that I do less talking and more doing. (Kind of funny that this post is so long and a lot of talking, but I have to get that out of the way I guess.)

On the first day of every month this year, I'm going to set 3 goals to better my life and my family's lives, on top of what I do with running. In the last week of 2015, I can do a lot of reflecting on what went well, what didn't and then set the stage for the year after that. But let's not get too far ahead ...

JANUARY GOALS
1. Begin organizing my attic 
This may very well become a two-month or more project with limited time, but there have been a lot of things moved from place to place that we still have and have no use for. This has actually started well as the Christmas section of the attic is in much, much better shape. 

2. Write down dinner menus 
As a family, we've done this from time to time. It helps with planning, budgeting and conversations. 

3. Clean up my email
I tend to do this in the first few days of every year anyway, but I feel like I've gotten so unorganized with every email account I have. Time to do some unsubscribing, replying to those nagging follow-ups, and deleting. 

For those who know me, if you don't see a post on Jan. 31 or Feb. 1 with a follow up, please say something. I do not want to lose track of this. For now, though, I've got some emails to delete ...

Three Things Thursday

Way out of left field ... 

1. This week on the Veggie Tales Facebook page, people are outraged that Christian fruit and veggies have a new look. It's no wonder that people don't want to go to church on Sundays with those attitudes floating around.

I choose not to wear my religion on my sleeve or go around preaching about anything, but comments on many of those posts are just unbelievable.

2. While I'm on the subject of religion, my son told me on the way to choir practice tonight that he wants to be in a band for one day by himself so we can record him sing his favorite song and put it on a CD. ("How do they make CDs anyway?" was part of the stream-of-consciousness conversation.)

Here's his favorite song ...

3. Speaking of favorites ... and Veggie Tales ... where is my hairbrush? 

Three Things Thursday

I used to do Three Things Thursday posts a long time ago and have felt this draw to come back to it this week. A good friend of mine asked me to join the Facebook challenge of posting three positive things to happen to me for five straight days, and that lit a spark to get back to writing lists. 

Just random lists. There may or may not be a theme from week to week. These are just things on my mind. 

So for the first Three Things Thursday in a really long time, I bring you ...

1. Passenger's new Whisper album. I can't get enough of it. Now I'm hooked on this song ...

2. I never learned to read or understand music when I was younger. Instruments never appealed to me. For some reason, though, I want to learn to play something. I'm starting with a ukulele. We'll see what happens ...

3.  I'm a J&A Racing ambassador for the 2014-15 season. Much more information about that to come soon on my running blog

Friends & Memories

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
— A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

I'm not going to get into naming names -- even on a first name basis -- because some people may take this the wrong way. It's not my intention to offend anyone. 

Last week I talked to someone who at one point in my life was truly my best friend. Through the course of time, though, we just didn't talk to each other often. Our conversation last week, which lasted more than 2 hours, was only the 3rd or 4th time we've talked in 10 years. 

He's not on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn ... I had no idea where he was living ... I didn't know he had an almost 2-year-old child. 

There's some strange awesomeness in having friends like that, but it's not the way I want this or other friendships to be. Knowing that we're only about 3 hours apart from each other, and knowing we have more in common now that we did 20 years ago, I'm hopeful we don't have another 3 or 4 year gap without any communication. 

But what about other friends who have seemingly disappeared? 

When I look at my wedding photos from 10 years ago, I'm fortunate that many people in and at my wedding are still a part of my life. While Facebook helps some of those relationships, I actually talk to many of those people on the phone or communicate via an occasional text. 

I hate it when friendships seem to fade away for no reason. I don't like being the one that called or emailed or left a message on Facebook last, but after so much time I wonder if I was the one who hasn't responded. I'm no fan of hearing how busy people are ... everyone is on some level. 

Life's too short and no one is too busy to not to surround themselves with friends from years gone by. Even if it's just a conversation once a year or a text to say hey or an occasional "Like" of something on Facebook, do yourself a favor and reach out to friends have seemingly become strangers.

You may be surprised at what you have in common with each other now.