30 Days of Gratitude – Day #2, Layoff Bliss


Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I take a different view. We all have challenges and hardships we encounter of various types and degrees. For me, getting laid off after 15 years at my last job just as the economy was tanking was very difficult … and rewarding.

Day #2 – Getting Laid off Was The Best Thing Ever

It was a moment that I remember vividly, Lisa coming home and me being there and her jokingly asking ‘what, did you lose your job’ and me saying ‘yes’ and her jaw dropping. But let me back up … I lost my job on the 3rd of October, the day after Danny turned 11, three days after the end of the third quarter. No one was surprised that more layoffs happened – this was the fourth straight quarter of by-department layoffs. First manufacturing, then engineering, then research, and finally quality and operations. I wasn’t even that surprised when I was pretty sure I was one of those being hit with the layoff … but that doesn’t make it easier when you have a mortgage and family and bills to consider.

But that same day I got a call from an old friend and former co-worker named Hemant, and he told me something that resonates with me still seven years later: although it is hard and shocking, you were not happy and will soon realize this was the best thing that could have happened. And he was right.

In 2004 when parent company Rohm & Haas fully took over and integrated all systems, all of the promises made when they bought out the Shipley family in 1992 went out the window. They instituted new structures and policies, and then executed a large layoff that was handled about as poorly and dehumanizing as I could possibly imagine. I never really forgave the company for that, and as I have discussed before I made a resolution in 2007 that one way or the other I wouldn’t enter 2008 at the company.

But we had also been looking at the possibility of moving towns in the Boston area, because what had started as a great school system in the early 90s when we moved there had consistently gone downhill ever since – and we knew we didn’t want the kids going to middle school there. We’d had our house appraised and were looking at selling – then suddenly we knew I would be working somewhere else and would likely have to move.

I have also talked about the job hunt and how lucky I was to have been cut before things got really bad for the economy, and also how if I had taken any of the other four offers made to me I would be in a different job now due to the other places eliminating divisions or going completely out of business.

But I chose Corning. And it has been the best move I could imagine. Lisa noted it within the first year – I am different, more happy than in years, and definitely more chatty. Suddenly I am outgoing and will talk to anyone, and that has only grown the last couple of years as I have grown as a runner. Now I see people out everywhere who see me running and I chat with them, and really in general lead my life much more integrated with everyone around me.

It is hard looking back and knowing that it took me so long to leave a job I knew I should have left long before, but I am glad I did eventually leave. And while I would love to move back to Massachusetts someday, it will be on my terms and I will carry this new outlook along with me. I still love reading about all of the great people I used to work with and how they and their spouses and kids are doing all over the country. It was an amazing 15 years that changed my life.

Is there a life moment that seemed negative that you now feel was fundamental to becoming who you are?

Thought For Thursday – Taking Time Where it Matters … To You!


This week on Facebook I have seen the following quote shared a few times:

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” _ Meryl Streep

It is very easy to read that as negative and standoff-ish … but I saw instead something purely positive and self-affirming. Several months ago I wrote about creating healthy boundaries in relationships, and what Meryl says is all about that – saying ‘enough’.

At the same time I loved a line in this post from Laura: I’m ready to find what I love doing again, whether it’s blog worthy or not.

Here are a few thoughts about that …

Decide What YOU Really Want

This can be as simple as ‘I want to learn to play the piano’, or ‘I need to change how I engage in romantic relationships to make myself more happy’, or anywhere in between. The simple reality is that most of us have something in our lives we are either not doing, or are doing but wish we could change. Figure out what yours is (or are) … and do something about it.

Not saying it is easy – and really, just identifying it can be hard enough. But you owe it to yourself to try.

Stop Letting Others Dictate Your Life

Maybe it is because I am in my late 40s and so many bloggers in this running / healthy living arena are in their 20s … but I feel like I see the impact of peer pressure just about every day as I browse my blog feeds. Whether it is someone over-selling how thrilled they are to have so many hands pushing them in various directions about planning major events in their life, or people ending up in places (jobs, relationships, homes, cities, countries) that they quickly realize they never wanted because others told them they SHOULD want those things, and so on … I am constantly seeing people who I fully expect will be saying to themselves or someone close to them in 10 years – ‘well, there are two years / $1000 / whatever I can never get back’

Most of us have things we compromise or concede on in our lives – that is the nature of life with others. But there comes a point where it is not about working together but instead about compromising ideals – and that is when it needs to stop.

The life led for someone else is full of regrets.

Remember That Those Who Love You, Support You

But that doesn’t mean they will always agree with you or tell you that what you choose is great – sometimes the best support is calling us out on our crap. But they do it with the best of intent – you can tell if someone really cares because they are happy for your successes and sad for your failures, and there to listen no matter what.

Further, I have noticed that places like Facebook and our own blog world are very insular and ‘same-mind’. In other words if you see opinions you don’t like, you ignore once, then on the second or third time you silence by ‘unfollowing’. That eliminates views we don’t agree with from our sight – but not from reality. Sometimes this is good … but sometimes it just further leads us down a world where everyone agrees and we never are forced to step out and learn about ourselves.

Ultimately You Get No Points for Doing What is Expected

You joined the right clubs and groups, owned the right cars, wore the right clothes, sat with the right people and so on … isn’t that enough? No.

A big part of life is discovering who you are – so if you simply sleepwalk through high school, college, getting a job, marriage, buying a house and having kids … you will wake up in your 30s with no idea who you are or what this life is you find yourself in the midst of.

What You Love Today … You Might Not Love Tomorrow

One thing I read into what Laura says above is that what she wants to do might not fit with blogging – but that is OK.

I spent a lot of time the last few years trying to compartmentalize computer functionality, to maximize efficient use of tablets to replace computers. But this year that has shifted and isn’t something I want to spend energy doing. That is fine. I also used to play a lot more computer games than now. And up through last year I kept chipping away at character sketches to write a novel.

This year is different … as a new school year starts I am feeling introspective, looking to clarify what I want to be doing and simply my approaches and shed things I don’t care about. There is no obligation – I don’t owe anything to iPad Music accessories if I decide to go back to using a full-sized studio, right?

We don’t owe anything to races or to blogging either – they are things we do purely by choice. Our health? Well, I think we owe it to ourselves to always strive to be the best version of ourselves possible. Which for me means another run in the morning, and another day focused on mental, emotional and physical health … surrounded by a wife and kids I love.

What Are YOU Doing to Make Sure YOU Are Living Your Life For YOU?!?

Take Care Tuesday – The Wonders of Random Kindness


Rants and pet peeves are all well and good, fun posts and easy to get fired up about … the reality is that most people are just trying to go about their lives and wish no harm to others, and some people are downright nice. So today I wanted to highlight some wonderful things I have seen recently.

1. Subway Savior

When we went to New York, we were headed into the Subway the first day and wanted to buy a Metro Card, and trying to get the best option for both the Path and the Metro. Next to us was a woman in a suit in her 30s, and she overheard us and did two things:
– Gave us a couple of empty cards to refill (saving us $1 per card)
– Helped us make some smart choices about filling up the card.

It was a totally selfless and unnecessary act that cost her time and helped us out. I have no idea where she was headed, what her name was or anything else … but Thank You!

2. Runner Recognition

When I went to a recognition event a few weeks ago, the project manager – who I have emailed but not seen since 2010 – was chatting with me and asking me about running and my fitness and so on. He just came out and said I looked incredible and that I must be a distance runner because that is what I look like. The last time I saw him I probably weighed about 50-60lbs more than I do now …

And once again, here we were at a company event, and there was no need for him to have said anything – but he did and it meant the world.

3. Un-Necessary Kindness

I have talked a lot about the need to ‘shut up … and listen’ – that too often people will speak unnecessary words when what the other person needs is someone to listen. Guess what – sometimes the opposite is true! Sometimes people will open their mouths unbid, and magic will spew forth. For whatever reason I have heard a bunch lately, here are just a few:

– I have a coworker who has been losing weight, had lost a bunch, put most of it back on and then has lost all of that and more. As someone who knows that struggle I am quick to mention if I see new clothes, and so on. But last week a bunch of people were together talking and one mentioned offhand that she looked like she’d lost weight, which she acknowledged quickly before things moved onto another subject. It all passed in a couple of seconds, but from personal experience I know these little things can make your day.

– The dangers of ‘reply all’ sometimes are a benefit! Returning from my anniversary weekend there was a ton of stuff to deal with, but amongst the myriad emails was some information in the form of a discussion I was copied on. Everything was dry and technical, and I had already replied and asked for more information so I could help out when I decided to read through the whole email chain to get further context. Earlier in that discussion my name came up and a bunch of nice things were exchanged about work I had done and help and time I had given to people. It was all small stuff, but the moment of satisfaction – like overhearing someone praise you without knowing you were there – really made the compliments mean that much more.

– In the store last week the person in front of me bought stuff that totaled $19.97 and the cashier noted that was the year she was born. I remarked that was in between my boys, born in ’96 and ’98. We started chatting and it ended up she knew my boys and had wonderful things to say about them – which was really cool since she wasn’t someone I knew.

– I have had a number of instances over the last couple of week where I have seen people I’d not seen in a couple of years, and they have said stuff about my appearance, or have seen me out running, or heard things, or whatever. Again, it is so much easier NOT to say anything, so the fact that they chose to make those remarks brightened my day.

4. Taking Care of Business

At the store the other day I saw a couple who were buying a jug of milk, but neither had their wallet – they thought they were going to have to go home and then come back. But the person behind them in line say ‘don’t worry, I got it’ and paid for it. Sure it was just $3, but in a world where everyone seems so disconnected and miss so much due to being on their phone, that presence of mind to hear what was happening AND step in with an act of kindness … it was touching.

Then the next day at the grocery store I got in line in the ‘express line’ behind someone who clearly had WAY more than the ‘suggested limit’ of items, and who was very easy to judge in many other ways (and honestly, I will say that someone with more than 30 items in a 7 item line opens himself up pretty much to judgement!). But as it got to be his turn in line, he turned to the person behind him and let her go ahead. A new cashier opened and plucked me out of line, but it was one of those totally unexpected moments.

5. Thanks for the ‘guest posts’

About a month or so ago Suz left a huge and awesome comment, and mentioned that it was basically ‘a guest post’ … and she was right! My initial thought was to quote some here … but I realized that to include some but not others wouldn’t be fair, nor could I choose any specific post since it feels like I get amazing comments on even the most mundane of posts.

Instead I just want to thank everyone – I really love and appreciate all of the kind and generous time and energy you put into your comments. It makes every single post better – you enhance things I wanted to say, offer different viewpoints agreeing with my statements, or even disagree in a very respectful manner. It is a humbling thing to read your comments every day.

Bonus. Combining Happiness … and Robin Williams

I haven’t talked much about Robin Williams dying, but it isn’t because there wasn’t an impact. It was more because there was SO much noise last week about it … there is the usual general uproar that centers around any celebrity death, amplified due to William’s career and how much he meant to so many people. But it also got a lot of attention due to highlighting the impacts of depression – and how much progress we’ve made towards recognizing it as a disease and not a shameful thing or just a ‘bad mood’.

I really don’t have much to add to the discussion at this point, so instead I am sharing a video from 1988 of a song by one of my favorite singers, Bobby McFerrin. McFerrin makes ‘one hit wonders’ lists due to the song, but fans knew him before and after as an incredibly talented jazz vocalist, composer and conductor. The song – Don’t Worry Be Happy – is appropriate to the post, but it also contains Robin Williams, making it even more fun! Enjoy!

So What Acts of Kindness Have YOU Seen Lately?

Take Care Thursday – Prepare Yourself Now for a Bright Future!

Brighter Future

I have no idea why, but it seems that since I started this blog I have been collecting lots of ‘Things I wish I could tell my 20/30/40 year old self’ posts, as well as ‘Things The Don’t Tell You About’, and ‘Things You Should Do Before’ articles and more. So I figured I would just steal fragments from a bunch of them and pile it all together into a set of a dozen or so general ways to set yourself up for a happier life!

1. For real happiness, focus on how your life feels instead of how it looks.

It is easy when you are younger to see people who look happy and associate the outer trappings of what they have with the happiness they feel inside. But first, you don’t know if they are happy. And second, chances are it isn’t having a Mercedes or a nice watch or fountain pen that made them happy. Instead look at what drives you, where your passions are, and work on those things – that is how to be happy!

2. Treat Your Body Better (diet and exercise) … That said, your diet is not something you can lord over everyone else’s heads

As I have said, at 48 I am in the best shape of my life, and my body rewards me for taking care of it. We can’t control everything that happens in life, but give yourself the best chance to have a long life with the only body you will every have.

But when making choices, remember they are YOUR choices. So if you choose to be Paleo or Vegan or Fruitarian or a junk-food junkie (good lord have pity on you), enjoy yourself … but remember you are not BETTER than others for your choices.

3. Don’t be afraid of your own voice.

You are unique, special and important … and you only have one voice – so use it. I remember in college writing music for an electronic music class, and I had a thought in my head based on some works by others I had heard, but no matter what, it came out with a funked-up jazzy feel. I realized that was my musical voice, and no matter how I tried to compose a certain way it was coming through. The same is true with blogging, and even writing reports and presentations at work. Instead of trying to mold yourself after others, celebrate who you are.

4. Mortality is very inconvenient. It ruins a lot of weekends.

As I said on Instagram the other day, there has been a load of recent information about the deaths and health issues of friends that has caused me to reflect. We are all going to die, and generally aren’t sent an calendar reminder of when it is coming. So we have to live in a way that makes our days worthwhile.

5. Marriage doesn’t complete you.

Your validation comes not from another person or a legal institution … but from within. Celebrate the person you are – because YOU complete you. Once you realize that you are complete, you are better positioned to give yourself fully to your marriage or relationship.

6. What other people say and do has nothing to do with you. It is a reflection of them.

This has come up many times, most recently from Carmy, but it is important to note – that when someone says something harsh or judgmental or spiteful or otherwise negative, it comes from their own place of negativity that has nothing to do with you. But internalizing these things it gives them more power over you.

7. Falling down is a mandatory aspect of life. Getting back up is living.

We ALL fail … and pretty often, on anything from a very minor to very major basis. It WILL happen, even to people who don’t like to admit it. It is how you respond to these failures that informs on the type of person you are.

8. You don’t know everything, and that is okay

One of my pet peeves (wow, I seem to have a lot lately) is people who refuse to acknowledge that they don’t know things. Look – we ALL don’t know things, and sometimes we don’t know stuff we SHOULD know, and maybe even learned at some point. Oh well – forgot. It is just fine – and with smartphones you don’t even have to run back to your office/dorm to grab the book containing what you forgot.

9. The only person holding you back is yourself.

This came up with Michele’s post last week – and in posts both she and Hollie (and others)talked about the mental aspects of running. But it applies everywhere – once you have decided you cannot do something, it is done. If you decide you can it is no guarantee – but never underestimate the power of self-validation.

10. Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you made. If you want a new outcome, make a different choice.

Basically, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

11. You Both Have to Change to Make the Marriage Work

This might seem counter-intuitive since common wisdom is to never enter a relationship with a ‘fix it up’ mentality, but the reality is that change will naturally occur as two people meld their lives together as one. But it is also important to maintain your identity and individuality in the relationship.

12. Consider the other side of the story.

You are not the singular purveyor of TRUTH. Chances are your point of view is different than many other people … so listen, you might learn something. Also, be willing to learn.

13. The best advice is felt in your heart not directed from your head.

Do you ever notice how certain things people said to you echo across the years, remain mantras and fuel your passions? These are not just words committed to memory, but feelings etched into your soul.

14. The sooner you can like yourself, the easier life will be.

The old saying is you cannot be truly loved until you love yourself and realize that you are worth loving. SO get to it … because you are awesome just how you are.

15. Accumulating “stuff” is stupid.

Over a certain amount, getting more money doesn’t add to your happiness. And when you get more money the first thing that happens is more spending – so your effective ‘wealth’ remains pretty constant. And what happens with ‘stuff’? Either it is something that will need replacing when the new version arrives next year, or you will end up not caring about it in a while. Regardless it is all just stuff – perhaps it allows you to momentarily show off to someone … but exactly what benefit is that?

16. Communication is absolutely vital

In any relationship, hiding things is the express route to failure. Communication is critical if you want to have a successful relationship. And it isn’t just the basic act of communication – you need to be open and honest with those you care about, and find a way of sharing your feelings and things that really matter. Make a prioritized list if you need help doing this – no one will judge you if they actually care.

17. Do not waste your time on people and things you don’t absolutely care about

You know how many people can have 100 people in a room, and 99 say something nice and the other one says something critical … yet the voice they hear is that negative one? Yeah, WAY too many! Don’t rent out your mind-space to other people who you don’t care about, and don’t let them control your life. It just isn’t worth it!

18. Marriage isn’t hard if you like each other!

This is a simplification as all relationships have ups and downs, but when you are operating from a place where the first instinct is teamwork and shared solutions … you’re already halfway there!

19. Try New Things – Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Find music or movies or games you hate, and take the time to experience them with an open mind. Maybe you will never like John Zorn or David Lynch or first-person shooters, but it is always better to make choices from an informed place. Here is some Anthony Braxton to help you along. 🙂

20. Make Time For Yourself – Always

No matter how busy you are with work and family and whatever else … remember to always find a few minutes each day that is only about you. Maybe it is on your run, maybe you sit in the car for 5 minutes before heading into work. Whatever it is, own it and make it your own.

21. Leave the Internet Behind Every Now and Then – Don’t Worry, It Will Still Be Here When You Return

My ‘mostly unplugged’ weekends have been incredibly rewarding. They allow you to be truly ‘in the moment’, and by allowing yourself SOME amount of connection you free yourself from that being a huge concern.

22. People will steal everything you do.

This is ironic because all of these points come from a dozen or so different posts I have been collecting in drafts for the last year! But don’t be so possessive of your ideas that you don’t share freely – because then you lose the joy, and will eventually lose exclusivity to the idea anyway.

What thoughts do YOU have for a brighter future?

From the Archives – Dinner Party with other people


As we are away again, I am once again dipping back into the archives – this time to our 13th wedding anniversary! For those counting, that makes this from 2005! At the time the boys were 7 and 9 years old.

I have really appreciated the responses on my ‘from the archives’ posts as well as the one about smoking … so I am going to pluck another one from the depths of the archives of an older blog written for myself. When you read this we will be on the road at the crack of dawn coming home from another round of college tours!

Just a note – I have been loving the amazing posts and comments from everyone these last couple of days. One thing I really loved was the reaction to my supplement post – it was meant to be provocative and many of you chimed in somewhat disagreeing but also being very respectful. It was awesome! I can’t wait to fully catch up on everything!

My wife and I got the rare opportunity to go out to dinner together without worrying about the babysitter. Last week* was our 13th Anniversary, and on our anniversary day we went with the kids out to Deerfield (MA) to a place called ‘George’s Rocks’ which had a nice litte Dinosaur exhibit and a man-made ‘mine’ for kids to get a bunch of polished rocks. It was fun for an hour or so. We also went to the Yankee Candle Factory store, which is always fun – they make it such a pleasure just to explore that the shopping part is secondary. Then we went to a nice little Italian place (Monty’s Garden in Leominster) for dinner – one of those places that was good as a family, but not so much of a ‘me & the wife’ things.

Last week we also had one of Lisa’s good friends from college and Christopher’s godmother up from Wed – Sun. She offered to stay with the kids while we went out Saturday. Whew! Normally we have to deal with the babysitter (she is very good, but only 13 so we are careful about time) or my parents (…).


We went to a very highly regarded place called the Herb Lyceum, which was a herb garden that has evolved into a fine dining place. No liquor license, bring your own wine. They have a single fixed menu for the month. All that was fine, but seating was ‘communal’ – meaning that there were two tables for 10 and one for 15, making their 35 person capacity. We tend to like more intimate dinners, but thought we’d try. Our thoughts were ‘not bad, never again’ – see, we had no real together time. Intimate side-talk during a dinner party is rude. Also, you don’t know anyone, and there were two very nice couples we sat with and had some nice discussion. Then there was a ‘younger’ couple, early 30’s. They never relaxed and weren’t much fun to talk to because of it. Finally there was a very pretentious couple, who would throw out names and places, but when anyone would want to discuss them, would seem bored and detached. Not much fun. But at least we got to dress up, have *awesome* food and wine, and a little time away.

So what did we learn? While we both enjoy the company of others, what we relish most is intimate time alone to celebrate our life together. In an age of 50% divorce rates – some of which have hit awfully close to home recently – I revel in the love and friendship I share with my wonderful wife. So even though we didn’t have the greatest time at this ‘dinner party’ style night out, we did it together, and shared in that experience and learned something about ourselves as individuals and as a couple.

It was funny reading this for the first time in 9 years. Back then we were JUST getting a reliable babysitter, but still wouldn’t do anything major or outside of our town – we were happy just to get some rare alone time! In fact, we had gotten into the habit of doing most holiday dinners as a family – including Valentine’s day … so this was a real rarity.

Now that the kids are older and we are getting much more time together … we still revel in our time alone together and I don’t think our thoughts and feelings would be any difference.

Another thought – I thought I knew what I meant by divorces ‘hit awfully close to home recently’ … but then I realized that neither of my siblings (both of who are divorced now) were even separated at the time.

Have you eaten in a fine dining place with communal seating? If so what did you think? If you have kids – or other reasons why time with your significant other is rare, what does your date night situation look like?

This … (Five Fave Things Right Now)

I laughed the other day when I read Laura at Fit Fresh & Funny introducing her ‘ABCs and 123s’ post by saying “shamelessly stealing this from Mike, because he’s always got the best ideas for a blog post!” Isn’t that something we ALL do?!? I mean, I grabbed the ‘alphabet post’ from Amanda at Running With Spoons from a two year old post she did, which I assume was part of a popular post-scheme at the time … since there seem to be ‘campaigns’ that make the rounds.

Well, in that vein … almost two weeks ago I loved this post over at The Girl Who Ran Everywhere … so naturally I stole the idea 🙂 So let’s get rolling with it, and if you like maybe you should steal it as well!


This … is my favorite picture right now. I found this as I was trolling my old blog, and it has always been a fave. Chris has always been an avid and adventurous reader, and always loved to fill his bed with stuffed animals and always had a book or two going. Before this he had taken to comparing his kids’ bible to the full good news bible after seeing a VeggieTales episode on ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’. As I noted at the time “When I walked into his room, I expected him to be reading on of the Droon or Narnia books, or perhaps a Garfield book … but this floored me and I had to capture the moment.”


This … is my favorite room in the house, with our inherited cat sitting by my side. She only comes out of the basement when the dogs are out, and was snuggling with me for a while the other day, moving from side to side and walking across the keyboard. I love the room because there is no TV and it is away from the main kitchen-dining-family room hustle and bustle, making it relaxing and peaceful.

My beautiful picture

This … is a moment that popped into my head recently as we were discussing Massachusetts. It is from Danny’s first birthday and he had a cool ‘ball pit’ that he loved to play in, and this was one of those great moments where we were able to capture him in action yet still for just a moment. I really love the look on his face.


This … is my love of over-tracking and measuring everything in one image. Garmin FR-15, Polar Loop and Magellan Echo … all great fitness tracking tools, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.


This … is where I want to be, who I want to be with, and where we hope to be for our 25th. We went to Sandals Antigua for our honeymoon, and they had ‘resort photographers’ constantly taking pictures around, and you could buy them … and this one we actually liked enough to pay the $5 or $10 (can’t remember anymore). Years ago we thought ‘let’s go back for our 25th’, which sounds awesome … until you realize that we will have two kids in college at the time! So we are not sure if or how it will happen, but as of now it remains a goal.

What are YOU loving now?

Five ‘Beautiful Me’ Photos

Yesterday Hollie had another great post, this one was about ‘Personal Beauty’. It is apparently ‘a thing’ on Facebook, where you tag 5 pictures of yourself where you feel beautiful … then tag others to get them involved, and so on.

She posted some cool pictures of herself in a variety of settings, but also decided not to set it up as an ‘award’ circle. Here is what she said:

Anyways on facebook if you are “tagged” the instructions say to find 5 photos of yourself that you feel beautiful.

Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. In a society where we are constantly told to look like this, or that or change ourselves…it’s important to remember that every person is beautiful. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. Each and every person has five photos they feel beautiful in.

While she didn’t do nominations she encouraged everyone to join in – so here we go! I have a couple of comments after the pictures:

Here is a fun picture of Lisa and I on our honeymoon on Antigua (not currently ‘lost at sea’ 🙂 ). Most pictures we took ourselves, but I was glad we got some pictures taken like this:


This is soon after Christopher was born, when we had ‘two kids under two’ … back in Massachusetts, with our cat TJ on the top of the sofa. Great memories.

Daddy and the boys

I love this picture, because we were really in Rochester for college visits, but it was my birthday and Lisa and the boys worked really hard to make me feel special. It worked.


At the end of the PA Grand Canyon Marathon – there are very few times I will look at picture and NOT pick out the many flaws, but instead just think – wow, you look awesome. And I am at the same weight and fitness level now, still looking and feel great … which makes me happy.


Lisa and I on a date this summer … and we have been so fortunate to have the time (and money) to get in lots of together and alone time.

Running History - Summer  20131

As I said in my comment on Hollie’s post, I feel that the pictures you choose say a lot about yourself and your values. Looking at these now, I am not surprised – my priorities are Lisa, my family, and running.

So I challenge YOU to post five photos of yourself and share the link!

Running, Blogging and Life – Continuous Trust Fall


Monday night as I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep, I reflected on the day – great run, amazing posts and comments from friends, great time at a college fair with the boys after Danny’s first day at work, and a great set of chats with Lisa after my run and after dinner/before bed.

Sure, I know I am #blessed and all of that … but it goes beyond that – and makes me feel like my life is a continuous set of ‘trust falls’, with someone (and generally many someones) there to catch me!


While my struggles with weight form an obvious undercurrent for my life, the real health story of my adulthood is about me and running. Running led me to eat better led me to lose weight led to an overall improvement in my outlook on life. Running me will talk to anyone, yet is perfectly fine being alone.

Running makes me, a better me.

When I started gaining weight a few different times where running seemed to be happening less and less, it wasn’t just the weight – it was my attitude, energy, eating, and general outlook on life.

I have referred to going back to running like stepping into a warm hug, revisiting an old friend. And yet this time, for the last two and half years things have been different. This time I have asked my body to be faster, to run longer, to rack up more miles each week than I used to do in a month … oh, yeah and to never get injured.

I did a bunch of ‘trust falls’ with running … and it has always been there to catch me.

But as with real life trust falls, the person falling has responsibliities as well: to make sure that the catcher is ready, positioning is correct and so on. So I have borne my responsibilities seriously: learning to fuel properly, listening to my body and resting it on occasion, and doing proper warm-up/cool down cycles.

Since coming back from vacation I’ve run more than 65 miles, taken the weekend off, and felt like I stepped back into the routine more quickly and easily than I could have imagined … and it is great. Hello again, old friend … I look forward to another 25+ years together!



This post started here – I had a post that I nearly hit ‘delete’ rather than ‘schedule’. Actually I have had several since I started, but specifically I had NO CLUE how I was going to take a few things I had been reading on Monster.com and turn it into a post that would be of any interest. Especially since my working title was about how a traditional day job was ruining your life and it was a very down post.

Then I was talking to the boys about how their college search should be about their passions, and last week Megan talked about how she was transforming her blogging, Laura was discussing her inside/outside running switches in the context of her cross-country run, and Danielle was talking about trying to figure out how to fund life through the next phase of Ramblen. Suddenly within a short time period I had a theme and BAM … a post.

And yet, there was a part of me that thought it wasn’t worth publishing, and I almost left it sitting in drafts until a voice inside of me said “these guys are awesome, let them guide you and tell you if this works”. And guess what? Not only did you find it worth reading … you posted a set of amazing comments.

Blogging is ALWAYS a ‘trust fall’ … but this was the first time I really FELT it.

I was reading Suz post on ‘The Comment’ … and had a sketch idea about a post on comments that can get to your weak points, and again was uncertain if it was worth posting, but again I am SO glad I did. Most of us make note of it, and Suz did a whole post about it … but the comments are THE BEST.

There are definitely areas from the early posts I don’t plan on doing as stand-alone posts – music and video games in particular – but this week has definitely totally enamored me even more than before on all of you guys! Amazing … really, just amazing.



I stated it in my ‘comment’ post, but getting married and having kids is a continuous stream of trust falls – starting with putting your life and soul into the hands of another person. Lisa knows me, and I know her – and we each know that when we make that blind leap the other person has our back.

Lisa and I were talking about things going on this week, and she had been talking to some people who were discussing things they would love to go back and change … and Lisa said what I had said in an earlier post – while there are some things I wish I had chosen to deal with differently (cough weight cough), ultimately all of these things brought me HERE to this moment.

And in this moment I have a great wife, kids, home, job, running life, and friends. This is the community that is there when I do my trust falls, and I don’t falter for a second.

With kids, sometimes a trust fall is really about taking off the training wheels … Monday was the first day of work for my older son, and that is always a thrilling moment for them, getting dressed, sitting through grueling training and HR videos … and the sudden realization that they get PAID to sit through those videos! haha

And we went straight from there up to Cornell University (~45 minutes) to attend a college fair, with about 70 schools represented. There is a ‘college summer camp’ week right now for high school kids, so there were kids from all over the country on the campus, making for an even more interesting college fair. Watching my boys know what they wanted, talking to recruiters and asking insightful questions was a reminder that I was ultimately just along for the ride. Which is great – because it is THEIR passion, not mine.

Another thing Lisa and I were discussing was how much we enjoy being together – it was something that came up in discussions for both of us in negative context expressed from other people. It is again another reminder of how fortunate we are to have been together all of these years and experienced so much happiness together, and also of how much hard work it is being married, having kids and all of the things that happen throughout our lives. Hollie asked about ‘What is Success’ yesterday, and it is something I’ve talked about – my life and family tell me that I am very successful.

Great Fortune

Here is the reality – being in the position to talk about these sorts of things is a reminder of the incredible fortune I have in my life. I am blessed with great successes in all areas that greatly enrich me every day, and bring me great happiness.

What Are the ‘Trust Falls’ You Make in YOUR Life?

The Comments That Can Tear Your Soul Apart

January 2012

This isn’t the picture I refer to in the post, but gives you the idea of me 100lbs heavier and with shorter hair.

Happy Monday everyone! As I mentioned on Friday, Lisa was off all weekend so it was a run-free (and sleep-heavy) weekend … which was great since last week was a blur coming back from vacation and seeming to have so much going on between work and home and the kids …

I managed to get in 47.5 miles last week running pretty much my ‘standard summer’ routes for 5 days. This morning it struck me how the thought of running 10 miles at one time was inconceivable just a couple of years ago … and now it is pretty close to my nominal daily run distance all summer. Perspective? Not me!

Having a Safe Place in Your Life

Today’s post is about comments that can hurt you deeply, but I am really only talking about stuff in the context of blogging. This weekend I saw a post – a happy one about an old friend getting remarried – that brought back a memory of someone from the same friend circle who went through a very difficult time a few years back, and due to sharing friends with the person on the other side of her difficulties, had her situation spread and become more difficult on Facebook. It led her to completely pull back and delete her account and email addresses. I hope that provided her some distance from the hurt, but it is a reminder that we all need to feel safe.

One thing about being married for 22 years and together for 25 is that Lisa and I are connected at a level that is impossible to put into words. As we were driving home from vacation something came up and it was one of those times where we finished the sentence together … but unlike most ‘finish your sentence’ things it contained references three levels deep!

But that connection also means knowing how to push someone’s buttons – we can see each other’s weaknesses and trigger points like they were massive bulls-eyes. I attribute much of our strength and happiness to the fact that rather than poking and jabbing at those weaknesses, we tend to protect them and throw ourselves in front of them if someone else tries to poke them. We are not perfect, no one is … but we fundamentally trust each other to always have each other’s back.

Thing is – we ALL have those weak spots. And some people poke them – intentionally or not.

The other day Suz alluded to a comment that really got to her in multiple ways, and then she addressed it more directly.

It got to her because:
– It attacked her as being eating disordered – which given everything she deals with is incredibly hurtful.
– It created a very negative feeling in what Suz is trying to have as a positive space, especially for people like her struggling in many ways.

Then Hollie posted about getting some seriously negative feedback on a web forum (I will actually deal with that one separately another day). What she saw was people questioning her writing (grammar, spelling, etc) and even asking based on that assessment how she graduated college. Myself and many other commenters complimented her for handling it in such a mature manner as opposed to unleashing the rage cannons on them.

Each of these women has set up their blogs not only as a way of sharing their own story, but also building a community, and rightly feel that people visiting should feel safe and encouraged to share positive messages.

Things That Perhaps SHOULD Bug Me But Don’t

Given my history of obesity and struggles to feel like a ‘real’ runner … you might think that an easy trigger would be to call me fat, say I’ve gained weight, or tell me I’m a slow old man.

Nah – I AM slow, I HAVE been fat, and I’m 48 … not exactly OLD, but the same age my Dad was when I graduated college.

None of that stuff bugs me in the least. In fact, while I have talked much about trolls and poor treatment of others using the anonymity of the internet, it is really nothing that has bugged me much. In fact, now that Hollie talked about it directly, I can say that her specific case is one that bugged me and that I alluded to indirectly … multiple times.

You might also think that insulting my family would be something that would bother me – and to be clear, a real-life encounter involving my family is one of my fundamental triggers – but I have also been around the internet long enough to know that there is no picture of any person that would not be potentially met with what comes down to the ‘2/10 would not bang’ treatment. So some person online making comments about the physical appearance and/or sexual preferences of my wife and/or children? Um, ultimately more about the person making the comment.

That leads to one thing – stuff said in real life is much more likely to impact me than stuff said online. I am not impervious online, but it would be much more difficult to make me feel personally insulted.

A Couple of Interesting Stories

Another interesting story – way back in the 80s, Lisa picked up the expression ‘thank you very large’, and since I was probably about 350 pounds when I met her I took some offense, but since she was so nice otherwise I was left confused and assuming I was being over-sensitive. Fast forward to when we met up again in Boston and I was under 200lbs (i.e. NOT large), and she used the same expression – and soon enough I was telling her about my feelings from a few years before and it made for a great early ’emotion sharing’ moment. Funny stuff.

One other story … let me be blunt: when people knew you as fat and then see you thin they really don’t know what to do or say and sometimes say the most hilarious and/or bizarre things! So people who I went to college with who saw me later had an interesting array of reactions – and they were generally bizarre things like my head looking too big for my body and so on.

And people who don’t recognize you are even more fun – I had one guy who was the year behind me in the fraternity who didn’t recognize me in April at the reunion … and it was great seeing his face when the recognition washed over him! It was great because it remained something that blew his mind all weekend!

Really it comes back to things I have talked about before – sometimes people who really don’t know what to say still feel the need to say SOMETHING. And generally when they speak up it isn’t either appropriate or sensitive … so we depend on knowing what they MEAN to get past what they SAY.

How I Discovered My Current Weak Spot

Just about a year and a half ago I was getting ready to start on a new project at work that would have me in Kentucky each week for several months. But there were some needs for transitioning and helping out on my existing project – and that included meeting new people who needed to capture things I had been doing to document and integrate with the processes we were moving towards.

So while dealing with one of the people – someone who I quickly became friends with and have stayed in contact with ever since – after a number of meetings we ended up meeting in my office, and on the wall was a picture from a team building meeting during the very early days of the project. At that point I weighed about 250lbs, and my overall look was definitely not one of my best: haircut emphasized roundness of my face, outfit was snug, and so on.

But at that moment the woman said something that stopped me in my tracks and hasn’t ever resolved in my head:

I think you look better there than you do now.

OK … WHAT?!?!

First off, telling someone … ANYONE … that they look better at another time than now is not a particularly classy move. Also, when weight is involved, the correct approach is questions ‘you look like you lost weight?’ and so on. Figure out the right thing to say – it really isn’t hard, especially for someone who is in a communications profession.

But WHY does this stick with me?

Because the insinuation is that I looked better fat.

While I have moved so far along in so many ways, it is pretty fundamental to me that I look pretty darn good now, and that being fit and thin is a great look for me, better than when I was heavy. In fact, I think I look pretty much better than at any other time in my life, and younger than I did 15 years ago.

But am I fooling myself? While I am 99% certain I am NOT, it is amazing how a small off-hand comment in February 2013 can stick with me and sabotage my self-image.

And really, I KNOW it is BS. How? Well, I will elaborate more in an upcoming post, but when I first lost weight when I was young I saw the way some people treated me change almost instantly and suddenly had women hitting on me in the airports and at companies I was working with. It was drastic and dramatic change. So I KNOW that stuff, but since when has THAT helped?

It is a reminder of how regardless of our strength and self-image, that pretty much everyone has a weak point, something that will shake your self-esteem.

What is Your Weak Spot and How Do YOU Deal With Those Who Push Your Buttons?

Can’t We All Just Get Along? And Blog-Reading FOMO!

Why Can't We Get Along

Yesterday Suz posted about her ‘blog process’, and had asked me to join in the fun! I said yes and will be posting mine tomorrow. I definitely recommend reading her post here. But for today I just had a couple of quick items:

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

It is interesting how things tend to flow together in the blogosphere – we complain about the cold, then dealing with training for spring activities, then the post-race letdowns, then it is too hot, then losing mojo … and suddenly now we are seeing a wave of negativity and on many of the blogs I follow there is a bit of a backlash!

I loved Harold’s post today asking people to ‘Get a Grip’, referencing a number of judgmental posts he has seen:

When people write these words, (along with so many other judgmental comments that discuss what others are doing), they are putting their morals, opinions and how they think others should act/write/blog, while disregarding or belittling other people’s reasons for doing or writing about things they do.

I kind of alluded to this type of post in my ‘Clean Eating’ post yesterday, referring to people using the term ‘as a hammer’, meaning that they were deciding that what a blogger / commenter was doing was *wrong* and/or ‘not clean’ – and doing so in some harsh and uncompromising terms. It was based on those ‘absolutist’ stances I was taken aback and moved to write.

In her post yesterday, Susie also referred to a commenter who had obviously really upset her … but that she didn’t want to give them the power and control by focusing on it in her post … which reminds me of advice Harold gave me ages ago. It is interesting – I have dealt with trolls since the late 80s writing on USENET … but when it is your personal space and identity it is very different. I am all for spirited debate, but we’re all actual people on the other side of these screens.

Finally Laura at Fit Fresh & Funny opened a thoughtful discussion about having kids. Because she is awesome and open and always willing to chat, a bunch of people shared freely why they did or did not want kids, myself included.

It was a great post … but it came from a different place. She has been trying to find a ‘home’ on Facebook for people in similar situations, and finding many places too harsh or otherwise not a great fit, then came across an article that asked the basic question about why people want to have kids … but in a bizarre way.

I mean, at first I was supportive – the author was tired of being asked ‘when are you having kids / why don’t you have kids yet’ by rude people who presume it is their business. And as I wrote about … I dealt with all of those insensitive questions, and think they really need to stop.

BUT … she then takes a weird turn, polls friends about why they wanted or want kids, and then spends the article picking them apart. Um … gee, you are a wonderful ‘friend’? My thought is that you never build yourself up by tearing others down, and that instead of suffering fools in silence only to turn around and berate your friends – make sure that the fools know that your life is none of their business.

But the theme is common – insufferable negativity coupled with online anonymity to create a very negative space.

And really, who needs that? Sure i have been critical of discussions being too ‘agreement’ oriented on blogs, but taking it to the other extreme doesn’t help.

Let’s seek the middle ground, happily agree to have energetic debates, know we will often disagree, but always be respectful and kind. Our world could use more of that.

I Miss You

Blog-Reading FOMO!

As I mentioned before, the down-side of a 9-day ‘mostly unplugged’ vacation is that I have more than 200 emails in my Gmail inbox … whereas I had 18 when I left. I have sifted through everything I can remove, so what is left is pretty much all of the blog posts I have missed. And that doesn’t count my BlogLovin, Twitter and WordPress Reader queues.

As I barely kept pace with new posts today (ok, really I failed as I just looked and saw some unread posts from earlier!), I have come to realize that I will simply have to summarily read many of them and let them go.

But you know what? That is HARD and tweaks my FOMO (fear of missing out) – I had gotten my queue to the point where I could manage to post AND read all of my faves on a daily basis … so having to just delete a post I mostly-read in the email browser? Not satisfying. Especially when someone references a post from last week (happened twice to me yesterday) and I am left trying to figure out what I missed! Ugh!

As I said, it got to the point yesterday where I realized I was actually losing ground – I had more unread things than when I started the day. There were two options: cut down on my blog roll, or let much of last week go.

I will have to think about a strategy for this the next time, as I think there must be a more optimal solution … but for now this is as good as I can manage.

Have You Noticed the Negativity? And What Do You Do When your queue is just too deep to catch up?