I look at the man in the mirror. His face reflects the life he leads, and the life he witness. Is this the life he envisioned many years ago? Is he living the life he dreamed of? His eyes reluctantly tells the truth. This life is not the life he expected. It’s not as bold, as great, or as beautiful as his childhood dream. It became the life of the status quo, a life of mediocracy. It’s never too late to stop and change the trajectory of one’s life.

Improving one’s life involves accepting where you are right now, knowing where you want to go, and taking small actions focused on the life you want. Small actions creates small accomplishments. Small accomplishments builds momentum to do amazing things. Momentum can pull you through difficult times in order move in the direction you want. Momentum can drive you beyond what you thought is possible.

I feel like western society slowly strips away a person’s dreams because it’s not practical or not in line with other think your life should be. People who care about us wants us to play it safe and do it their way. Doing remarkable things are reserved for other exceptional people. My dreams and I slowly drifted apart in order to do what other thought I should do. These notions of what ought to be started grinding at me. Life wasn’t satisfying. It started to be empty. I didn’t feel like myself. I wonder what it feels like to doing what I love and what I am obsessed about. If I know where I want to go in my life, I can create a road map to guide me there. I believe everyone can do great things and are exceptional in their unique way.

What were my dreams, passions, and obsessions when I was young? What did I want to create and build in my life? I need the time to reconnect with my dreams, passions, and obsessions. I decided to strip things out of my life. Stripping things out of my life will focus my energy and remove outside influences that would sway my thoughts.

I feel like I did too many things that spread my energy too thinly. I was unable to create the momentum to build anything meaningful. The tug and pull of each endeavor made me feel guilty that I didn’t spend enough time with it. I finished my formal education last Spring. I took a leave of absence from work. I plan to go on my road trip so it’s only me and the open road.

This strip down life gives me time to stretch my arms wide open and accept things in my life. It feels good like a refreshing rain on a hot summer day. I can choose to bring it into my life or cast it aside. I can assign meaning and a perspective that is uniquely my own, not heavily influenced by others.

I hope I can find direction by stripping my life down as minimal as possible so I can reconnect with my dreams, passions, and obsession. It’ll also give me time to spend time with myself without outside influences swaying my thoughts. I hope I can look at the man in the mirror again and smile because I can see how fulfilled his life is by living the life he wanted to live.

Image Credit: The Man in the Mirror by Rooners Toy Photography

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5 Reasons I Bought a Road ID

Road ID Band

I decided to buy a Road ID after my accident last year.  I’ve considered it in the past when I had close calls during road runs. I used to think that I don’t need it if I had state or federal identification on me. Now I realize the benefits of the Road ID. All the past close calls on the road and the incident on the bike trail culminated into my decision to get a Road ID. Here are my reasons why I bought a Road ID.

  1. The Road ID identifies me if I do not have my state of federal identification. There are many times where I go out for a run and I forget to slip my state identification into a pocket. I own running shorts that don’t have good large pockets to put things in. I’ll have ID with the Road ID if I get separated from my gear. During my bike rides, I often keep my wallet in a pannier or saddle bag so it doesn’t get soaked in my sweat or rain.
  2. My emergency contact information is listed. It makes it a lot easier for first responders and emergency department staff contact my love ones in case of an emergency. A lot can happen during a race or an event. Bibs can easily be separated from a participant. If I’m unable to communicate, they can find my info still.
  3. First responders and ED staff don’t have to waste too much time identifying me. When I worked as a registrar in an emergency department near my home, I had to help a nurse lift a body up to find their identification since the paramedics couldn’t find it. They can focus their time on treating me or other patients.
  4. It’s convenient. It’s a bracelet that I can slip on. It can stay on my wrist for the entire day.
  5. I find it attractive. You can customize it with different bands, badges (charms), and engraving. As you can see, bought a Road ID with a red band and engraved “Have faith and believe.” It’s a great reminder when things get rough out there to have faith in myself and believe in my abilities. Other accessories I bought are the barefoot and chain link badges as well as additional band colors.

I think the Road ID is an important piece of gear for anyone with an active lifestyle. It’s something that’s important to have and hope won’t get used for it’s intended purpose.

When you get your Road ID, how would you customize it and what activity would you use it for?

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Marathon Maybe?

Detroit Free Press Marathon LogoI’ve been thinking about the marathon again.  Choosing an event like the marathon helps me focus on getting fit and healthy. It’s a short term goal to concentrate on and makes it more difficult to put off my training.  It’s my reason to stay consistent when I don’t want to workout that day. It helps me to concentrate on a date and place so I can develop a training plan.

My cousin, Chris, and I talked about his next marathon.  Ed, another cousin, became interested and Matt said he’ll do the half marathon.  Chris registered me for the Detroit Free Press Marathon as a late birthday present.  It’s a great present from a great guy. Matthew and Ed registered shortly after Chris registered us.

My goals will be a bit different than the past. After completing my first marathon, my goals switched from just simply finishing to improving my times.  My goals this year are starting the marathon at my goal weight, run negative splits, and finishing the marathon feeling good. Feeling good means being able to be in good spirits, no injuries during the race, and be ready to run another six miles after a few hours of rest from the marathon. My goal weight is eliminating about 1.5 excess pounds a week (roughly 18 to 25 pounds total) until the marathon.

What event do you have that will keep you focus? Is it a race, vacation, birthday, wedding, or something else important?  Let me know below!

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One Year Since the Bike Accident


Today marks the anniversary of my accident on the Fox River Trail. I decided to go on an 80 mile bike ride to celebrate the end of Spring semester and quitting my job to travel, explore, and seek adventure. Halfway through my ride, I found myself wrapped around a tree trying to avoid a collision with a bicycle rider. It sidelined me for over a month and created another obstacle to work through while being patient. Yet it propelled me forward by teaching me something about myself and alter my outlook in life.

The bike rider was riding in the middle of the Fox River Trail. Her wheels crossed the solid line that separated the opposite lanes a few times. I thought I could ride the edge of the pavement to avoid her. Instead, I left the pavement and lost control of my bike.  I rolled down the side of the path until a tree stopped my movement. Thunk! My right forearm softens the blow before it redirects my body to slam the right side of my rib cage into the tree.  My hips where over my bike bar. I couldn’t breath. I thought I punctured my lung. I thought this was the end of my life.  It’ll end a few feet away from the trail.

Suddenly my lungs fill with painful air.  I yelled for help.  Someone finally reached me and immediately called 9-1-1 immediately when she saw me. While she was on the phone, I tried to separate myself from my bike and the tree. Starting from the top and moving down, I tested my body for feeling and movement.  Head? Check. My head didn’t hit the tree (thanks forearm!) and my neck didn’t snap violently. Fingers? Check. I can feel them and move them. Thighs? Yes. Toes? I can feel them moving in my shoes. I slowly peeled myself off the tree and separated my cleats from the pedals. My right arm was scraped up. The tree imprinted itself along the right side of my chest. No holes.  I was lucky. A few inches in any direction could have ended me.  The left drop on my bar was bent and the left brake was displaced.  My panniers were no longer attached to my bike. My bike seemed to be better shape than me. The 9-1-1 operated asked the woman if I still needed help.  I said I’ll be okay. She ended the call. I thanked her and she went on her way.

As the shock wore off, the pain began to set in and bite hard. The open wounds on my arm and chest began to sting.  Every breath reminded me of my tenderized ribs. A sharp pain appeared in my right thigh (which later became a nasty bruise) made my muscles cramped.

There were moments when I wanted to quit. A police vehicle was sitting near the trail and I thought about asking for help. I don’t know what it was, maybe it was my ego, maybe I didn’t want to make people worry, or maybe I didn’t want to inconvenience people. I just kept on going.  I paused to collect myself and rest when I wanted to stop. I pushed myself until I completed the 40 plus miles home.

AccidentTempTattooI could barely sleep after the accident because my body hurt so much.  My core muscles couldn’t support me when I tried to get out of bed or a chair. It was too painful to walk or lay down.  I was a mess but alive and in one piece.

Here’s what I learned that day:

  1. I am able to grit it out and ride through the pain. Survival and need to reach a safe place over-rode the negative thoughts that usually prevents me from accomplishing things.
  2. I am resilient and capable of pushing forward until I get to my goal despite my setbacks.
  3. Life is so fragile and temporary. I don’t know how long I have and when my life will end. It’s something I’ve always been aware of. The accident put it in the spotlight.

The accident made me take a step back but in many ways it propelled me forward once I overcame the obstacle.  It taught me something about myself and provided me insight on how to live my life.

Have you had a bad experience that ended up to be a good thing in the long run? Let me know in the comment section below!

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Traveling, Exploring, Satisfying My Wanderlust

I haven’t traveled or explored as much as I wanted to.  I traveled more than some but not as much as others.  I am blessed to have traveled as much as I have. Something inside me feels restless. Wanderlust has me aching to travel.  I need to feed that urge as it may be good for my soul. I yearn to explore new places.

Traveling to the same place in a different moment in the timeline creates new experiences. Time turns an old place new. I’d like to return to some of the places I visited when I was a child. I want to see these places with a new set of eyes.  I want to go west and re-experience Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, South Dakota, and and everything between Lake Michigan and the Pacific Ocean.

I miss bombing down a wet country road in Ireland on a bicycle.  Rain pours down on me. The road is sketch. It was one of the few times I the most I felt alive. Her countryside is beautiful and I want to meet her neighbors.  My brother tells me Spain is gorgeous riding. I continually see photos of Tuscany. I think Italy is flirting with me and asking me to visit her.

In high school, I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. I ordered an expedition pack from Moosejaw with dreams to hike that trail.  I never gave myself the opportunity to do a thru hike.  I think I need to make that time. It doesn’t have to be the AT.

I continue to put it off for later but I may not have the chance to travel and explore the way I want to in the future.  Priorities change. Circumstances won’t allow the traveling and exploration that I want to pursue. Life is unexpected and short. I might not have the time to explore later.  My body and mind might not allow me to go on my adventures on the terms I want to do it in the future.  Things can change in an instant.

I need to stop making excuses and let obstacles get in the way of traveling and exploring now. I put it off for various reasons: school, work, lack of money, lack of companions, lack of time, etc.  I can make the time to explore. There’s more freedom traveling solo (but less photos of me). Money can be made, set aside and budgeted. Work in this weird in between place right now. School is done for the foreseeable future.  All I need to do is make traveling and exploring a priority. Once I make this a priority in my life, where do I begin and how should I go about exploring?

I feel like a lot of people want to explore the world yet they haven’t explored and understand the intimate details of their backyard and the world around them. I am one of those individuals.  I dream of foreign lands, big road trips, and the wilderness but I haven’t explored my backyard. There has been one reason or another why I haven’t gone exploring or being a traveler in my own land.  Also, many people travel from many areas around the globe to spend their vacation in the Chicago region. It’d be nice to join them.  It’s time to correct this errata in my life. I think this is a good place to start. There is a big backyard for me to explore in the Chicago region.

The Chicago Wilderness waits to be explored.  Portions of the original wilderness have been miraculously preserved due to unusual circumstances and action of concerned individuals. Other parts of the wilderness are being rehabilitated or restored. people speed by with their busy lives and miss many natural gems in the Chicagoland area.

Chicagoland is like the girl (or boy) that you grew up down the street that you want to know better. You know her because you live on the same street, share the same friends, and shared the same social environments but you never got to know each other.  She seems to be a nice girl and you want to get to know her better.  She’s a diverse and eclectic girl that I want to spend time with and get to know.

The beauty of living in the Chicago suburbs is it’s eclectic mix of cultures from around the world.  I can travel around the world within eight miles of me by eating at the Pakistani restaurant across the street from my home, American food down the street, Polish food on Milwaukee Avenue, and a five minute car drive to a good Korean restaurant. Do you want to explore the Middle East food or Greece?  It’s only minutes away from my home.

I also want to spend time in the Chicago countryside. It’s only about an hour away from the city’s core. It’s a change of pace and scene from the urbanized areas of Chicago. The sea of agriculture goes as far as the eye can see. The roads are open and free.

Three major highways crossing the Chicago region, Lincoln Highway, Old US Route 66, and Dixie Highway shaped how the United states traveled and connected the country.  I want to take a road trip on Lincoln Highway and Old US Route 66. Lincoln Highway connected the coasts to enable people to explore the country and lead the way to other great interstate roads. Route 66 made the great American road trip into an iconic adventure. I plan on driving the full length of Lincoln Highway to explore a portion of the United States and take Old Route 66 back home to Chicago.  It will an amazing way to see this grand country I live in.

I’m setting aside the time and resources to make traveling and exploration a priority.  I’ve decided to start in the region around my home.  When you give yourself a chance to explore near your home, what will you do where would you like to go?

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Focusing on Getting Healthy and Fit

Sometimes my body is my worst enemy. It prevents me doing the things I want to do, where to go, and when to do it. My fitness places me in a bad situation. My health can limit the time I can do things. Being healthy and fit can enable me to do more things, give me the time to do more, and keep me out of trouble.

It bothers me that I couldn’t keep up with my brothers while hiking above the tree line while a nasty storm rolled in when we hiked the Presidential Traverse. If it weren’t for my lack of fitness, we would have made it safely to the Lakes of the Clouds hut or the Mount Washington observation station. Instead, we hiked through high winds, rain, and thunder.

I’ve been concerned about my health due to a knowledge of health care statistics and family history. My family has a known history of cardiovascular disease. An uncle lost his fight with cancer. I lost a lot of years early in my life for various reasons. I can’t get that time back but I can put myself in a good position to live a long and fulfilling life by reducing my risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other medical conditions that could shorten or reduce the quality of my life.

Getting healthy and fit is a process of developing healthy lifestyle habits. It takes time and energy to develop these habits. I am investing the time and energy now so I can take advantage of the how the benefits compounds itself. The more I put into it now, the great health and fitness I will receive in the future. Maintaining good health in the future requires smaller investments.

My focus is on changing my body composition so I can be healthy and reach my fitness goals. My intend to eliminate an average of one pound of excess weight a week until my waist size reaches thirty four inches. I will accomplish this through a combination of exercise and a healthy diet.

I really want to get my health and fitness in order this year. I do not want to be drudging through the end of an activity like hiking riding. I do not want to run my runs and endurance events into death marches. I want to spend more quality time exploring and accomplishing things joyfully. I want to do more than what my body currently allows me to do.

What would you like to do or accomplish if you become healthier and have better fitness?

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A New Chapter in an Old Book

A new chapter begins and another closes after a long winding journey filled with ups and downs. I traveled a long winding road. I learned a lot from the dark days and pleasant days. The new chapter is a story of synthesizing everything I learned from the past to create a stable base and build a solid foundation.  It’s a story of simplifying and contracting in order to expand, grow, and live. This is about living my life based on my values and dreams. This is no longer a life to satisfy other people’s dreams, aspirations, and expectations for me.

I spent too many years living a life that people wanted to live.  It was crushing and unhappy.  I did what I thought was expected of me even though my spirit thought there was a better way and there was something more. I never lived the life I wanted to live and struggled mightily.  I’ve accumulated regrets of things I didn’t do. A sadness washes over me because I didn’t live my life based on my values and dreams. I tried to live a life that I thought my family wanted me to live and what I thought would make my family proud.  I struggled and failed because it wasn’t me. It wasn’t who I am. It wasn’t who I want to be.

Life is too precious and too short to live a life that’s not yours.  It becomes a life full of regrets and frustration. Death brings live into perspective.  We never know when or how we will die.  It can be today or eighty years from now.  When I die how will I be remembered?  What will I leave behind? How will I have loved and be loved?  Who will be around me?  Will I have lived a well lived life?

I don’t like the portrait I’ve painted for myself.  I feel like I squandered precious time on an endeavor that wasn’t dear to my heart and core to who I am.  It’s time to learn from the past and allow it to remain in the past.  “Live today,” tell myself. “Move towards tomorrow.”

The previous chapter in a story builds to create the next chapter.  Today is yesterday’s future and tomorrow’s past.  The present is the working space to craft my new life. This chapter marks the moment when I clear my workspace, create a plan, and prepare a solid foundation to build my life on.

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