100 Kilometers- 62.1 Miles of Brutal Determination. 

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” – William Barclay

3 days ago, I sat on the edge of a hotel bed scared out of my mind; afraid of the task that was ahead of me. Laying out equipment and gear in preparation for a 62.1 mile trail race through the Kistachie National Forest, I tried my best to fight back my fears of failure.


My brother was across the room looking cool, calm, and collected. He had been through this process before and now I needed his guidance and his confident spirit, both at that moment and for the next 16 hours.

I knew there would be countless physical and mental obstacles in our quest to conquer a seemingly impossible feat. The mental hurdles would not wait for the start of the race, they had already started their unrelenting assault on my mind. 

Our plan was to get a few restless hours of sleep the afternoon before race day and then try our best to sleep the night before, which we both knew would be next to impossible. Wake up time would arrive with a energetic beep of the alarm at 3:30 AM.


The next two hours were a blur of coffee, running attire, bags of gear and food (that could have kept us alive for at least two weeks in any wilderness setting), a 45 minute drive into the woods of NW Louisiana, and enough pre-race jitters to fill an ocean.

Getting to the starting line would soon prove to be the easiest part of the journey.

The best piece of advice that I received was to picture the start of the run as the entrance of a long tunnel, and the only way out was through the other side. I pictured that tunnel in my mind at least a dozen times during our run.

The difference in the advice and reality is that the tunnel has several escape hatches along the way; it would be our own determined choice to resist the urge to open them and continue pushing forward.

As a small group of fellow Ultramarathon hopefuls gathered at the starting line, I could literally feel the residual adrenaline rolling down my skin. The moment that we had all trained for, sacrificed so much time and energy for, and ran thousands of training miles for, was finally here.

The clock struck 6 AM and it was on. It was time to attempt the unthinkable; to test my mind, body, and spirit, and ask them to take me much farther than I had ever asked before. If they weren’t up to the challenge, it would fall on my shoulders and nobody else’s. My brother was with me, but completing this race was up to me.

For the first hour and a half, we would be running in the dark while awaiting the arrival of daybreak. Headlamps in place, off we went. We knew that we would encounter around 5,500 feet of elevation gain via a varied terrain of soft sand, hard-packed red dirt, rock, and multiple water crossings.

The weather was perfect for running, with temperatures rising from the mid-30’s to around 55 degrees by the afternoon. Our first goal was to finish, just don’t quit. Our second goal was to finish in under 16 hours.

As light pierced the treetops, we were hitting our stride nicely and feeling good. Making a conscious effort to maintain an easy pace – power hiking the up hills and running the downhills and flats just as we had planned. The sandy uphills were by far the biggest challenge of the first 31 mile loop. Treading soft sand takes a toll on your lower legs and fatigues them faster than usual.

Our shoes and socks were taking on sand likes sinking boat takes on water. At the 18 mile aid station, our drop bags awaited us. We quickly scarfed down as many calories as we could, emptied the sand from our shoes, lubed our feet, changed our socks, and off we went.

Each 31-mile loop had around 2,800 feet of elevation gain which was mostly front-loaded in the first 20 miles. This was a welcomed relief for the last third of the loop because we were able to run most of it. We made up quite a bit of the time we lost trudging through the sandy uphills.

Our sights were set on finishing the first loop, getting another round of calories down, taking care of our feet, and getting through the first 10 miles of the second loop before dark.

Then, at around mile 28, my brother’s IT Band flared up and began causing him a great deal of added discomfort. I silently worried if it would be too much for him to deal with, but he kept going. He would have to fight through that grueing pain for another 8 plus hours to finish.

We made it through the first loop mostly in tact. We topped off our water bottles and stuffed our race packs with as many calories as it would hold. One side note: Ryan grabbed a bag of mini-snickers bars as part of our stock-up trip before the race. What a godsend that was! Nothing is more delicious and energy-packed than a mini-snickers bar in the middle of nowhere.


Mis-remembering the first 10 miles of the loop as being all sand and uphill, we were actually surprised to find that this section was a bit easier than we recalled. Then…we found the difficult section. Having already covered 41 miles, we were feeling the painful burn in our legs and the hot spots on our feet more than ever.

Everything ached and the miles were not going down as quickly as before. Now the hills and terrain came at us with a new intensity. One that the trail had not shown in the beginning. This was hell.

Our only focus became making it to the drop bag at mile 49 before we lost daylight. We began moving with a hurried intensity of run-hike-run. My toes were numb, my legs were screaming, and my mind was fighting me with everything it had.

We made it to the drop bag 10 minutes before dark. It was a good chance to get some carb-loaded calories down. Again, we changed our socks, threw our headlights on, refilled our water bottles, and we were off. 13 miles to go. We weren’t racing the clock, we were racing our will to succeed.

This would prove to be the longest 13 miles of my life. As the darkness set in, so did the thoughts of quitting. Your mind is such a powerful tool that when it’s working against you, it becomes a struggle of internal fortitude.

Thoughts of “how bad do you want this” get replaced with thoughts of “why are you doing this?”

It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to has power over you. – Leon Brown

As we began the last stretch of the race, there was dark calm of nothingness surrounding us. I would look to the woods in hope of finding some sort of strength, only to find a blank expanse of uselessness.

My mind was pleading with me to stop moving. I became quiet, fighting an internal battle of self-discipline and self-loathing. This was no longer a trail race, it was a fight.

As I looked at my brother, he was wrestling with his own demons – his IT Band was screaming in full throat but he was moving with an unwavering purpose. He wasn’t going to quit, no matter what. The look in his eyes and the purposefulness of his steps gave me the strength I was searching for.

A wave of emotion washed over me at mile 54 and tears were flowing down my face, only I had no idea why. Maybe it was a silent victory over my mind, a reminiscent feeling of always looking to him for guidance and direction – and realizing that after 37 years, that he was still there to give it.

8 miles to go and we now we exchange a silent gaze. Let’s do this. Power through. Everything you have.

We began to shuffle our feet, and then we’re running. We’ve got two hours to the finish. God it hurts! It hurts to run, it hurts to walk, and it hurts to stop. Keep moving. One foot in front of the other until it’s over.

As we round a corner, we begin to smell the familiar fragrance of a campfire. Hope returns and our faces both express smiles. The crowd at the finish line can see our headlights making their way through the forest and they begin to cheer. We crossed the finish line! 62.1 miles of agony and 62.1 miles of sweet glory!


This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the fact that I did it step for step with my big brother makes it that much sweeter.


We stared fear in the face and we kicked its ass. To my brother; thank you for always being there to shoulder the load. To my wife; thank you for letting me do this crazy shit. To everyone reading this; don’t ever back down from fear. You’re stronger than you could ever imagine. Don’t ever be afraid to challenge yourself!

Stop Giving In To the Pain

In life, we always have choices. When it comes to facing adversity, we have only two; we can choose to fight on or we can give up. When we choose to fight, we are making a statement, “I will not allow temporary circumstances to permanently alter my life.” 

That’s what quitting does; it alters the landscape of your mind and the more you give in to setbacks, the easier it becomes to do it again and again. This is life altering and it cripples us, holding us back from our goals and dreams.

On the other hand, the more we choose to fight and press on, the more seasoned our minds become. We begin to take on a different mindset; a mindset of courage and resolve. 

“Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.” -Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Adversity makes us who we are and it works both ways. If we constantly give in to our problems then we become quitters, never finishing anything difficult. Likewise, if we learn to look our challenges in the face and fight (whether we win or not), then we become someone of strength and mental fortitude. 

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

If we don’t fight, we will never know how strong we are and we will never reach our full potential. Make a choice today and everyday to be a fighter, not a victim. 

5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Grandpa

I was privileged to have my grandpa on this earth for so many years. I’m hopeful that all of us, at some point in time, have had someone that provided an impactful and positive influence in their lives. If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that my grandfather was a very special person whom I admire to this day.

He carried so much wisdom and insight from his 90+ years on this earth, that it literally spilled out of him daily. The way that he lived was a testament to his faith, beliefs, and values. He was a man of action, not just words. He modeled his beliefs through the way that he lived his daily life, and in doing so taught me many life lessons. Here are 5 of the most important:

Be content with what you have but never with what you’ve achieved.

Grandpa and grandma lived a life of simplicity. I never heard him say anything about wanting a bigger house, a newer truck, or a better life. They worked to take care of themselves and those who depended on them, but the trade off of more time for more money was never even a question. They were content with what they had.

bayou-285818__340

This didn’t mean that grandpa never achieved great things though. He was a highly decorated soldier from his time spent serving during WWII. He retired from the Highway Department with a full pension and served as a deacon in his local church for more than 40 years. He was content with what he had, but never stopped striving to be the person that he thought he could become.

You are never helpless. There is always something more that you can do. 

To say that he lived a life of adversity would be an understatement. In a recent blog, I talked about the many hardships that he faced in his life. When I would talk to him about a problem I was having, he would often tell me that we are never helpless and then he would encourage me to find a way through the setback. He never allowed me to take on the victim mentality.

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” — Marcus Aurelius

You don’t have to be wealthy to make a positive impact on someone’s life.

Grandpa never had much money, but he did have several acres of vegetable gardens, which he worked countless hours cultivating and planting in order to produce food for the family. The produce that was harvested was more than what we needed, and as I kid I could never understand why he planted so much.

It wasn’t until I was around 8 years old, that I realized he was planting more so that he could give it away to those who were in need. He also gave away most of his time, through volunteering at church, playing music in nursing homes, and thousands of other acts of selfless service which could never have been repaid by those who benefited from them.

Follow through on your commitments even when it’s difficult.

As I have gotten older, I realize that there were many days when he didn’t feel like getting up at 4 am to till the garden, prepare for Sunday service, or spending his weekend helping to restore the spirits of the elderly and less fortunate, but he always did it. He had a self-discipline that always amazed me and it was through this discipline that he instilled the same traits in me. It isn’t about how you feel, it’s about what you do…everyday.

Don’t become so focused on the talents and accomplishments of others, that you lose sight of your own.

Growing up, I struggled with self-esteem issues. I would often tell him that I didn’t feel like I had any talents or anything that I was good at, so he taught me to work with my hands. He taught me how to build things, how to fix things, and to find self-satisfaction in all of it. He would often recite the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30 and tell me that it doesn’t matter what we are given in life, it only matters what we do with what we are given.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

If we constantly compare ourselves to others, we will live a life stammered by feelings of inadequacy and discontentedness. It’s a recipe for hopelessness and depression. Rather than compare ourselves with the accomplishments and gifts of others, we need to focus on our own set of individual strengths and use those to their maximum capabilities. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to each other to be the best version of “us” that we can be.

Endurance Runners: Why They Do It

Endurance Runners: A special breed of men and women who push themselves to their physical and mental limits, and then push even harder.

They drive themselves to the brink of complete exhaustion and then go even further. They train to endure, to outlast; not the competition but themselves. Long after most would have quit, they continue on with an unquenchable thirst for more. More pain, more agony, more suffering. It is in this pain that they discover who they really are.

Their tanks are never empty. They always have more. When they run out of strength, they are able to dig deeper than most to find that little extra drop of determined courage to continue. Their minds are unharnessed by the limitations of mortality and their hearts are free from the strain and pressure of societal conformity. The quest to find meaning in their existence stretches far beyond fatigue. In fact, fatigue is only the starting point.

Everyone understands fatigue, but most never tap into the innermost recesses of their spirit to discover the inner grit and determination to push past fatigue.
If they were to venture into this abyss of mental and physical anguish, they too would understand that life is more rewarding when we explore these dark and remote corners of our soul.

For them, there is no end…no finish line. There’s only more to challenge and discover.

“The cure for the pain is in the pain” – Rumi

Most people wait for the feelings of fear, sorrow and misery to find them (and it does find all of us), but endurance runners seek them out. They know that the only way to beat them is to face them head on.

When you ask, “why do you put yourself through this?”, you’ll often hear them say “I can’t explain it to you”. They’re not saying this to be pretentious…no, endurance runners are far from egotistical.

They’re saying it because they know that the only way you’d ever understand it would be by putting yourself in those same dark and lonely places of the soul and fighting your way out. There are important lessons to be learned in the pain of life. Don’t wait for it to find you. Seek to find it, understand it, fight through it and learn from it.

Stop Letting Emotions Dictate Your Life

The ability to overcome negative feelings and forge ahead in order to accomplish an important task is one of the most overlooked aspects of developing a strong mental attitude. Too often, we wake up in a funk and allow that feeling to persist throughout the day. It affects our mood, our mindset, and causes us to perform at a subpar level.

Perhaps we don’t wake up with a bad attitude, but then someone cuts us off in traffic, sends us a nasty email, gives us a backhanded compliment, or we get an extra helping of projects and boom…frowny face syndrome sets in.

If we are not able to shake off those negative emotions and move on with our day, it leads to lost productivity and the tragic waste of an otherwise, perfectly good day. Too many of us let our emotions control us; we let them dictate our lives. String too many of those days together and you have a real grump who’s constantly waiting for the sky to fall.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”    – Robert Frost

Learn to identify those temporary emotions for what they really are; brief sensations that can signal anything from fear or concern to outright anger. While some of these emotions can be good, as in telling you to run from that dog that just broke away from his owner, we weren’t meant to hold on to them. Acknowledge the emotion, react if necessary and then move on (assuming the dog didn’t catch you).

Learning to focus on the bigger picture of the day without getting bogged down in the ranges of emotion that sweep through our bodies on a daily basis is the key to maintaining mental focus. We need to stop being reactive to our emotions and start being proactive with our actions…in other words, don’t let your emotions dictate actions.

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master.”        —Epictetus

Understand your emotions for what they are and learn to recognize that they are temporary. Don’t allow them to make permanent decisions on your behalf.

Know that our feelings and emotions often lie to us. Just because we have a feeling about something or someone does not necessarily make it a reality.

Shift your focus to the task at hand and move forward. When you do, these feelings will take a back seat and eventually return to the nothingness from which they came.

Take back your life and pursue your goals with constant forward action everyday. Relentless forward progress accomplishes great things as long as you are in the drivers’ seat.

Who Cares What They Think

Caring too much about what others think of you is like giving them the key to your house, and letting them live there while you pay the mortgage.

Last year I wrote People Judge Us after finally making significant progress in breaking away from the expectations of people who have no investment in my life. 

Most often, those negative comments that others make about you, or about your decisions in life, are a reflection of their own shortcomings, not a pronouncement of judgement on you. When you make a habit of doing things your own way and going against the accepted norms of society, in other words when you live life on your terms, it can make people uncomfortable; that’s their problem, not yours.

Deep down, we all have a need to be accepted by those around us but it is essential that we not measure ourselves by the standards of other people, or even society for that matter. There are people whose opinions should matter but that list should be extremely short. At the top would be our spouse, children, and parents, possibly followed by our boss and a close set of trusted friends.

Beyond that, the list should be fairly short (although different for some of us) and the further down that list someone falls, the less we should pay attention to what they think of us.

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet. – Mahatma Gandhi

Trying to present a flawless image to the world is both exhausting and debilitating. It also doesn’t accomplish anything fruitful. The fact is that there will always be people that judge us. In fact people judge us everyday at every turn – people that we know and people that we don’t.

We can’t tiptoe through life trying to cater to everyone’s ideal picture of us. Even if we did, guess what – yep, they would still judge us. No matter how hard we try, we can’t stop it. What we can do however, is choose not to let it affect us.

People are so busy and wrapped up in their own lives, chances are that they aren’t even thinking about us. In fact, they’re probably thinking the same thing – that someone (maybe even us) is judging them! The reality is that no matter what we do, there will always be people who don’t like us. We have two options in response to this truth; accept it or hide it.

Picture the absolute most awful thing that could happen to you when someone has those accusing eyes pointed toward you – no, worse than that – the absolute worst thing. Could you survive that scenario if it played out?

Guess what will happen? Nothing…nada. Not only will that awful thing that you pictured not happen, but nothing even remotely similar to that will happen. People don’t care. They really don’t!

No one is going to step up and confront you about your choice of shoes or why you sat down with your coat on instead of taking it off. No one cares that you chose plastic instead of paper to carry your groceries home in.

Constantly worrying about what people think can actually make us act differently than we normally would. We turn into those dreaded “people-pleasers” with no backbone or true opinion on anything. It can be fun to disagree with someone on an issue because you believe something different than they do.

I’m not saying to go around picking fights with people over what kind of cereal they eat, but truly expressing yourself in a constructive manner can be extremely freeing.

“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”

— Albert Einstein

If you struggle with this, then take the first steps. Decide what values are truly important to you and develop a sense of who you really are. Develop a passion for your beliefs, creative abilities, and chosen pursuits in life. Then learn to focus intently on those things. If you do, you will start to care more about those ideals, beliefs, and passions and less about the opinions of naysayers.

An Easy Life Will Never Accomplish Anything Worthwhile

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.”

– Theodore Roosevelt 

Effort, pain, and difficulty…the trademarks of a life well-lived. If you examine the great innovators, social activists, and heroes who truly made our world better with the sacrifice of theirs, you will not find men and women who lived easy, uninterrupted lives. Instead, you will find people like Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr., Theodore Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, and Abraham Lincoln.

This incredible list of names conjure up images of leadership, dignity, toughness, and a willingness to go against the grain, but what often gets lost is the amount of difficulty, tragedy, and hardships that they endured, most of which was not of their own doing.

Jesus Christ was betrayed by one of his closest friends, abandoned by His disciples after his arrest, falsely accused and rejected by Jewish leaders, mocked and tortured by Roman guards, and was crucified between two thieves at the cross on Calvary.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” – Jesus Christ 

Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested more than 20 times, had his home bombed and burned down, was stabbed by a woman while at a book signing, saw dozens of crosses burned on his front lawn, and was eventually assassinated. In 1963, King led 200,000 people in The March on Washington to the Lincoln Memorial where he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He was also awarded The Nobel Peach Prize at the age of only 35.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”        – Martin Luther King Jr. 

Theodore Roosevelt was born a frail and sickly boy who suffered from asthma, which was often fatal in that day. At the age of 26, he lost his mother to typhoid fever and his wife to kidney disease less than 12 hours apart. Roosevelt lost sight in his left eye during a boxing match. He was shot in an attempted assassination in 1912, but delivered his two-hour speech anyway, with a bullet lodged firmly in his chest.

Roosevelt contracted malaria at age 56, lost his oldest son and saw the other two severely injured in the midst of WWI. He eventually succumbed to a blood clot in his heart in January, 1919. he was buried with no fanfare, not even a eulogy. After his death, Thomas Marshall said this about Roosevelt, “Death had to take him in his sleep, for if he was awake there’d have been a fight.”

“It is not the critic who counts. … The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly … who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Nelson Mandela endured tremendous prejudice and discrimination throughout his entire political career, and was eventually jailed for trying to overthrow the pro-apartheid government of South Africa. He would spend 27 years of his life in prison. He was sentenced to hard labor, but never lost his sense of purpose. South Africa eventually ended apartheid and Mandela was elected President at the first general election following his release.

“Whatever sentence Your worship sees fit to impose upon me for the crime for which I have been convicted before this court, may it rest assured that when my sentence has been completed I will still be moved, as men are always moved, by their conscience….” – Nelson Mandela

As a child, Winston Churchill had a pronounced lisp, suffered from dyslexia, and some even consider him to have exhibited the traits of ADHD. His energy level and aloofness was incredible as a child that he once ruptured a kidney and suffered a concussion from throwing himself off of a bridge.

He was hit by a car while crossing 5th Ave in New York, crashed a place while learning to fly, and was thrown from numerous horses. Churchill also suffered from bouts of severe depression. While traveling through South Africa in 1899, his train was attacked by the Boers and he was promptly marched to a secluded prison camp. His first organized attack of WWI was a spectacular failure, causing him to be stripped of his post of admiralty .

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”        – Winston Churchill

Mother Teresa lost her father when she was only 8 years old. Of course we never picture Mother Teresa to have struggled with her faith but according to the book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, Mother Teresa actually struggled intensely with feelings of loneliness and even abandonment…an absence of Jesus in her life.

In a letter thought to have been written in 1961, Mother Teresa wrote: “Darkness is such that I really do not see—neither with my mind nor with my reason—the place of God in my soul is blank—There is no God in me—when the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God. … The torture and pain I can’t explain.” It is somewhat saddening, but also uplifting to see that even someone of her faith struggled so intensely with feelings of sadness and separation.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”                          – Mother Teresa

Abraham Lincoln’s family was forced out of their home when he was only 7 years old. He was forced to work in order to help support the family. Two years later, at the age of 9, his mother passed away. His sister died 10 years later when Lincoln was 19. He undertook a business venture in 1831, which failed and forced him into an incredible amount of debt which took him 17 years to pay off. In 1832, he ran for the State Legislature and lost. IN 1835, he met and became engaged but unfortunately his fiancé died that same year. The following year, he had a complete mental breakdown. later that year, he ran for Speaker of the Legislature, but lost. 4 years later, he ran for Elector and again was defeated.

In 1842 he marries Mary Todd; they have 4 boys but only one would live to maturity. The following year, he ran for Congress and lost. In 1846 he ran for Congress again and finally won and then moved to Washington. Two years later, he ran for re-election to Congress and lost. In 1850 his son, Edward, dies. In 1854, he ran for the Senate of the United States and lost. Then in 1856, he sought the Vice Presidential nomination at a national convention, but recieved less than 100 votes. In 1858, he ran for the Senate once again and lost again. Finally in 1860, Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States. Two years later, his son, Willie, dies at the age of only 12. In 1865 On April 14th, Abraham Lincoln is assassinated.

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” – Abraham Lincoln

Despite the incredible setbacks and hardships that accompanied the lives of these great individuals, they managed to overcome adversity on the grandest of scales. Not only did they overcome, they thrived and accomplished unbelievable feats of leadership, courage, caring, and most of all – they made the world a better place for those who followed. Their lives were certainly not without effort, pain, and difficulty…and they certainly did not lead easy lives.

We all face adversity…every single one of us. We can let these setbacks stop us or we can let them make us into the people that we are destined to become.

Persistence Is a Way of Life

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. To know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life—that’s persistence.”
― Ryan Holiday

Somewhere along the way, we’ve been lulled into this idea that we deserve an easy, unencumbered life. Like we are somehow better than the generations that came before us, our parents and grandparents. They were tough, rarely grumbled or complained about anything.

My grandpa was one of nine kids – three of them died before the age of two. His mom passed away when he was a toddler, and at age ten, he was pulled out of school to help keep the household running while his dad worked to provide food and the basic necessities. He was drafted into the Army at age 24 and was sent to Europe to fight in WW II.

He was on the front lines there for almost three years, saw atrocities that I cannot even fathom, and saw his best friend die 5 feet in front of him. You’d expect me to say that he came back a broken shell of a man, right? Wrong. He came back, married a beautiful girl, had four kids, and went to work for the State Highway Department where he worked for twenty years until he retired. You know what he did when he retired? He didn’t move to Florida. He planted ten acres of gardens and worked from sun up until sun down, ensuring that his family never went without.

My grandma’s mom died when she was two days old. Her dad was extremely abusive, so she was adopted by another family where she grew up cooking, cleaning, and raising other people’s children. She never learned to drive, in fact she never left the state of Louisiana – ever. They were married for 60 years and raised 4 kids in a 900 square foot house. They argued, then they got over it. They never gave up on each other.

They lived happily ever after, right? Wrong. Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her 70’s and my grandpa took care of her…every day (bathing, feeding, and everything else that needed to be done). He watched as she lost her ability to speak, to eat, and eventually to breathe. He never once left her side. He was a man – a true man.

I doubt my family and their hardships are much different than your family’s adversities. Life was hard…really hard. The funny thing is that I didn’t know any of what they went through until I was an adult. Why? Because they never talked about it or complained. To them, it was life – it still is.

Somehow our perception changed over time and we veered to a different perspective of what this life is all about. Because our parents and grandparents struggled, we were supposed to have an easy life? I complain more over the course of a week than my grandfather did in his entire life. Why? What happened? Why do we view life’s circumstances differently than they did? Why did they accept pain and adversity as a natural part of life, but we view it as being wronged in some way – like we drew the proverbial short straw?

“To argue, to complain, or worse, to just give up, these are choices. Choices that more often than not, do nothing to get us across the finish line.”
― Ryan Holiday

We spend more time complaining than looking for a way to make things better. Complaining about setbacks (you know like traffic, the cold, the heat, and kale) is the easy reaction. Complaining doesn’t get us anywhere worth going. Shouldn’t we expect pain, discomfort, unfairness, suffering, trouble, and terrible days? This doesn’t mean that we should walk through life waiting for the sky to fall, but we also shouldn’t be surprised when it does.

I encourage you to read and learn about people who have gone through tremendous adversities and came out on the other side, whole and unbroken. It may be in a book, it could be a family member, a neighbor, or maybe even you. It’s an attitude. Life will not break me – it may kill me, but it will never break my spirit.

It’s one of the very reasons that I took up endurance running. To purposely put myself in miserable situations as a reminder that life is not about comfort. Life is about learning how to deal with adversity without letting it defeat you.

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”
― Marcus Aurelius

No Time For a Better Life?

One of the absolute biggest lies that we tell ourselves when we want to accomplish something is that I don’t have enough time. How is it that some people accomplish so much with their days and some of us can’t seem to get out of our own way? Obviously, much of it has to do with planning and time management.

I read a book last year called The Time Trap and it completely changed my perception of time and just how much time I was wasting on absolutely nothing but honestly if I am being truthful, it’s just easier to be lazy – not necessarily snoozing until 11 am lazy, but the spending all available free time on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat lazy.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with downtime, but even our downtime has lost its purpose – resting and recharging. Spending time mindlessly scrolling through news feeds, looking at the same pictures, status updates, and taking selfies with goofy ears on our heads has replaced catching up on that novel or building that model car with your kid in the garage.

It’s easy and requires little effort, whereas signing up for that graduate course is hard. The more time we trade in for the easiness of passing time, the less time we have to accomplish worthwhile goals.

I don’t have time to work out means that I am not willing to give up and hour of sleep to improve my health and fitness.

I don’t have time to go back to school means that I am not willing to give up a few nights every week for a couple of years in order to further my career.

I don’t have time to make healthy meals means that I am not willing to give up a couple of hours to meal prep on Sunday for the week ahead. 

I don’t have time to work on my marriage means that I am not willing to sacrifice an hour every evening talking about your day to make your marriage a priority.

I don’t have time is the ultimate excuse that we use everyday to avoid the hard stuff of life. 

I don’t have time essentially means that I am not willing to sacrifice my ease of existence in order to do something that could better the lives of my family. Our perceived lack of time really boils down to avoiding the hard stuff and choosing to do the easy, mindless stuff.

“Someone once asked me “why do you always insist on taking the hard road?” and I replied “why do you assume I see two roads?”      

– Unknown

We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 8,760 hours in a year to accomplish so much more than what we think we are capable of. It isn’t about time, it’s about choices…our daily choices.

We can read books about time management, try the new diet of the month, or continue to lie to ourselves about why we aren’t where we want to be…OR we can start making different (better) choices today.

Tomorrow when you wake up, make a commitment to yourself to do one hard thing over the same easy thing that you’ve done for the past year. The more of those difficult choices that we make, the better our lives become, and even more importantly, we improve the lives of those around us.