Friday, July 31, 2015

It's Fan Boy Friday! Meet Janeth Paris.

It's Fan Boy Friday, and that means I'm taking a few minutes out of my day to highlight and celebrate someone who deserves all the shout-outs she ever gets!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my friend, Janeth Paris.

Here's what you need to know about her:
  1. She's funny. Like, snicker under your breath until you can't hold it in anymore then lose it in a full-on belly laugh kind of funny. And that makes her an HR Manager's nightmare but a co-workers best friend!
  2. She's wise. She has learned what matters in this world, what really doesn't, and how to keep herself focused on the former.
  3. She's a joy to be around. She is one of those honest-to-goodness decent people that are a pleasure to spend time with. She has an easy smile and a sincere heart, and she just makes you feel better when she is around.
  4. She has recently turned off her "No" button and is now in full-on "Sure!" mode. If you have a crazy, fun, silly idea and ask her to join in, she'll do it. Be careful what you challenge her to do because she is unafraid!

Go run a 5K to honor Cedric? Done.

Get her DubSmash sing-along on? Done.

Jump out of a plane? River raft? Pub Crawl in a tutu and a tiara? Who knows? This lady is up to whatever life has in store for her, and the rest of us are lucky enough to be there when it happens.

Janeth, my friend, I am grateful that the fates conspired to bring you into my life. You are a bright light in my life and I love you like crazy, my friend!

Now, my friend, let's set this joint off with our man, Jamal!

100 Days of Happy 2015 (1-10)

I'm a big fan of the 100 Happy Days project, so I'm doing it again. And I thought this time I would capture it on my blog to so I can have all the photos together.

Here's the first ten days!

Ignoring my excuses and listening to my determination,

instead. That's how to start a day in a really great mood. 

#100HappyDays Day01

"Did I ever tell you you're my hero?" 

#100HappyDays Day02

I love when friends use photos with me in them as their 

profile pictures. It's nice to know that whatever we were 

doing at the time is a good memory for them, too. 

#100HappyDays Day03

I've been advised that I need to make time for myself

for silence and solitude. I get it now. Waking up in this 

beautiful guest room, laying here in the quiet for the 

last two hours, has given me more peace than a week 

of retreats. Thank you, Coy Family. 

#100HappyDays Day04

From coast to coast, spending time with my SolesMates 

makes me very happy. 

#100HappyDays Day05

Two days of seizures for Ruthie are exhausting and 

heartbreaking, but watching Idgie stick right by her 

sister's side while she recovers is wonderful.

#100HappyDays Day06

There's something comforting and amazing about 

seeing the important people in my life connect and 

interact with each other. 


Thank you to all of my friends who share the fun and 

funny and beautiful photos of their young children 

celebrating the simple joys of life.

#100HappyDays Day08

I've been awake since 2am. I have a terrible headache. 

And I can't stay in bed. So why is this my picture today? 

Because I'm a dude with First World problems and I 

hope I never forget that.#Perspective 

#100HappyDays Day09

I love living ten minutes "door to shore" and being 

able to enjoy a little beach time right after work.

#100HappyDays Day10

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Words From My Novel

"You change wives like other people change cars. And you're going to be mad because he chose one with a stick?"

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Good, Good Weekend. (Or, "How A Train Trip Saved My Sanity.")

After what seemed like an endless barrage of bad news, tough days, and sleepless nights, it felt almost like I was tempting fate to plan an out-of-town trip. Yet here I am now, on the final leg of my travels, and there aren't enough words to describe how amazing the last couple of days have been.

It started with a six hour train ride up the Pacific Coast. The weather was perfect and the views were incredible!

Before I knew it, I was already at my first stop.

My friend, Dani, picked me and we went back to the Coy Home to wait on Matt to get home from work. Soon enough, we were all on our way (with their cool son, Bennett) to a great dinner at Hollister Brewing Company. And for those foodies who peruse this blog, I'm happy to share that I enjoyed a delicious BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Smoked Gouda, Duck Fat French Fries, and a perfectly paired draft beer brewed onsite.

And then we opted for a decadent evening of stand-up comedy on the big screen and pints of ice cream. Five Stars all around for the entire night.

I woke up Saturday morning early but took advantage of the chance to lounge in the bed for an extra few hours. It was perfection.

Too soon, the lazy morning and the later coffee conversation with my hosts came to an end. We just had time for a quick selfie and then it was off to the train station for the next leg of my journey.

The trip north on the Pacific Surfliner was even more beautiful than the day before. Mile after mile of California coastline and I never tired of seeing it.

My best stop was the start of the mystery leg. I knew someone was picking me up at the Grover Beach train station, but not sure who it would be. As I walked along the train and towards the parking lot, a lovely lady looked at me and asked, "are you John?" I said yes and she said, "I saw your picture from Facebook but expected you to be wearing a headband."

How cute is that? She saw this picture and didn't really have any other frame of reference for me. 

Anyway, my driver was Jen, one of the world's coolest mothers-in-law and all around fun lady. She was assigned John Patrol while the rest of our group made their way to the farm for the big BBQ. 

For me, it was another chance to be lazy. I played with the kittens and the dog, enjoyed the cool breeze and the warm day, and even watched as an older Jeep was brought back to life with a replacement engine. 

Well done, gents.

And then the guest of honor arrived, my amazing SoleMate and running buddy Bonnie! She and her husband, Tim, flew i from Virginia for vacation and had no idea I would be there to surprise her.

The huge smile on her face when I walked around the corner was worth every bit of travel time. Plus, I also got a chance to visit with more teammates and their families. Good food and better company. What else can a guy ask for?

Sunday, we were off to San Luis Obispo to cheer on Hillary, Jessica, and Bonnie as they competed in the SLO TRI. They were amazing, of course, and I only wish I could have stayed through the entire event. Instead, I had to get back on the train and head back home.

I had eight hours to relax, unwind, and enjoy the view again, so I used some of that time to mock up a couple of fun "movie trailers" on my iPhone using iMovie. Super easy, super fun, and super silly.

And since I had extra time, I decided to create a movie for my husband, too.

And with that, my last miles on the train rolled by and my weekend adventure had come to an end. It was the perfect mix of friends, travel, relaxation, and laughs.

Thanks, all, for giving me EXACTLY the weekend I needed.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Words From My Novel

"In that moment, I knew. I truly understood. I didn't want to be him. I wanted to be wanted and held and loved by him. And knowing that was the beginning of the end of our friendship."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Sometimes, a photo really is worth a thousand words. 

Evening in Joshua Tree
Our libations area in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park,
courtesy of solar powered LED lights and our homemade chandelier.

Once More Into The Breach.

And here we go again. This week marked the beginning of my sixteen week training program for the Revel City Canyon Marathon on November 7th.

This is my running plan. It's not particularly aggressive, but it is enough to get me ready to run the 26.2 miles.

Fun fact: This marathon is mostly downhill, and that is going to work just fine for me right now.

Having been out of the running game for months now, starting back on the roads caused a lot of pain for me in my shins. The treadmill is a more forgiving surface, so my first month of training will be done exclusively indoors. That also allows me to work the treadmill decline to simulate closer the downhill slope of the marathon course.

Day 01 - Three miles.
They weren't pretty, but I got them done.
And I was faster than I had been for months,
so I'm feeling good about that. 

Beyond the running, my biggest challenge will be my eating. Over the last year, I have really allowed myself way too much junk food and empty calories, and my weight reflects that. I have no one but myself to blame, but the upside is that fixing that behavior is also completely within my control.

I will be using Runkeeper to track my activity, MyFitnessPal to track my eating, and this blog to capture all the glory (and pain) of this training.

I have already run six full marathons, so I know what is ahead of me. It will be long miles and a brutal day of running. But if I stick with my plan, respect the training, and eat within my calorie range, I can be as best prepared as possible for Revel City Canyon.

I got this.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Merrit Malloy

Every creative person is inspired by others and I'm certainly no exception. And here, I'm happy to highlight a writer, a poet, a true creative force of nature, Merrit Malloy.

For me, of course, she is truly timeless. I first read her words when I picked up a poetry book that my mother had left out on the coffee table. I devoured the book and immediately claimed it as my own. (I don't know that my mother knows to this day where "that little book of mine" disappeared to.)

Her words were simple and complicated, direct and elusive, beautiful and painful. To a young boy struggling with every aspect of his own life, the words felt like they were written just for me. I understood that these were the words of a woman navigating her way through life and love, but they might just as well have been written to explain my own journey of fear, loss, and hiding.

The loneliest place
I've ever been
Was not when
I was alone.
It was in a room
In West Los Angeles
Where I was in love
With someone
Who wasn't in love
With me.
Local Anesthetic
Sometimes I think
That I'm not really present at my life,
As though it goes on
without my permission.
although I don't want to die
I want to stop living.
I want to climb into the other side
Of my face
And observe my experiences
Without having them.
and only once in a while,
I want to stop living,
But I really don't want
to die.

She was the first person to tell me, in a way that I could understand, that words are more powerful than the strongest weapon. And I was hooked, even then. My precocious young self already understood the magic of the right words shared at the right time.

Now, thanks to the power of the internet and the access of social media, I have had the opportunity to engage in a private conversation with her and to express my lifelong gratitude to her. She ignited the passion in me that led me to this point in my life, to where I feel like I can honestly describe myself as a writer.

Thank you again, Merrit Malloy. Your words, and your spirit, continue to touch my life and my heart.

For those interested in reading more from Merrit Malloy, here's your link. Enjoy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

It's Fan Boy Friday! Meet Nancy Howard.

A couple of years ago, I started a short-lived series of posts called "Fan Boy Friday," in which I took the time to celebrate some of the truly wonderful people in my life. I don't know why I stopped doing it, but I really need to bring that series back. Writing those posts reminded me just how fortunate I am to be surrounded by so much love and compassion and intelligence and humor and... well, the list could go on forever. And all of it is worth bragging about.

So first up, I am celebrating my friend Nancy Howard.

We first crossed paths through a health and fitness website where she was an online coach and I was a new member struggling to find the motivation to continue. She was such an inspiration, always making the time to engage with me (and others). She had found her joy in running and more than anything, she felt the drive to help the rest of us find that joy, too, whether through running, biking, swimming, walking, etc. We didn't have to make her choices, just make our own and be happy with them.

We first met in person in June 2011, when Nancy came out to San Diego to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. Turns out, she was even more of a joy in person.

In the four years we have been friends, we have run together from coast to coast (literally), in shared races and on shared teams. We've run relays and marathons and logged more miles together than I can even remember.

But it isn't the running that has made us friends. That's just an activity that we share in common. We are friends because, quite simply, she has a heart as big as Texas and my life is immeasurably better because she is in it.

Years ago, I stumbled across a post from a mother concerned that she had nothing... honestly, nothing... to give to her two boys on Christmas morning. For reasons unimportant here, her life had come unraveled and she was in dire straits. Knowing I had a support group of friends who would help me, I made it my mission to deliver the most amazing Christmas those boys had ever had. Immediately, and I mean not ten minutes later, Nancy had already PayPal'd me the money to buy one of the boys a bicycle.

She didn't ask, "who is this woman?" She didn't wonder, "why is she unable to do this herself?" And she didn't ask, "is she truly in need?" She just sent the money. And because of her (and my husband buying the second bike), those two boys really did have the greatest Christmas Day ever.

Fast forward to April 2014. I really wanted to join a relay team to run the American Odyssey Relay, but I just couldn't get it into the budget. When a runner dropped out last minute and the team asked me again, it was Nancy (and our friend, Bruce) who told me, "we want you and we're going to buy your plane ticket and cover expenses to make sure you get here."

I was used to being on the giving end of something like that, and being on the receiving end was unbelievable. And, of course, the entire weekend was an amazing experience and one of the best weekends I've had.

Despite all of that generosity, it isn't giving money that shows the person Nancy is. She has a huge heart and she wears it proudly on her shoulder for all the world to see. And when someone she cares about is hurting, there isn't anything she wouldn't do to try to make them feel better.

This was her Facebook status yesterday morning:

That friend in a funk? That was me. I was having a really bad day yesterday, and Nancy took the time to reach out to me to see if there was anything she could do and to let me know that I was important to her, that I was a light in her life, and that I was a good person who was loved.

That, people. THAT is what she does. That is who she is. Whether it's stepping into the CrossFit box, convincing someone that they can do something brand new, running a new longer distance, or shedding tears because someone she knows is hurting... if she does something, she does it with her whole heart and her entire passion.

Nancy and her husband, Shawn, are two of the most wonderful people that I have ever known. And today, like every other day since June 2011, I consider myself so fortunate to have the two of them in my life as friends.

Nancy, I've said this before and I'll say it again. We may not share the same beliefs about the hereafter, but you are absolute proof to me of angels here on earth.

And I'll close this with my very favorite photo of the two of us together. This was the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon, October 2013. We both had a bad race and were disappointed with our overall results. But standing together, in the shadow of a monument honoring the single proudest moment in Marine Corps history, the two of us realized that the only thing we should be feeling at the end of 26.2 grueling miles was pride, happiness, and joy. And that is why our injured little bodies are way less important than the big ol' smiles on our faces.

I love you, friend. Thank you for being exactly the person you are.

P.S. I thought you might need these, too. You always were a big softy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#RunSelfieChallenge - Week One Recap

On July 1st, I started the #RunSelfieChallenge. It's been a full week now and I'm seven for seven.

It's been good. It's been bad. And it's been ugly.

The good? There's a lot. I've been active consistently for eight days already. I've logged more miles this month than I did in April, May, and June combined. I've started with very low distances and I am staying very conservative in the distances so I don't get injured or burn out.

I'm pushing for a total of 65 miles this month. They can be walked, jogged, or run, doesn't matter. But they have to be done. And so far, I've completed 14.49 against a goal of 14. So go me!

The miles in green are done, clear miles are still to come this month.

And more good? I'm actually enjoying the whimsy and fun of the daily photos.

The bad? I'm not running right now. I'm mostly walking with a little jogging added in when I can. And since I have a relay race, two half marathons, and a full marathon all coming up in the Fall, I need to get myself ramped up with my training sooner than later.

The ugly? My shins. Each day, my shins are getting progressively more painful. I need to move from the road onto the treadmill to see if that helps as I get back into the miles. I'm not even going to think about what I will do if the pain continues. Because I'm definitely NOT quitting this challenge.

And that's the recap. I can do this. I WILL do this.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Words From My Novel

"Loneliness is wishing someone would care. Desperation is fearing no one ever will. He wore them both like cologne."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Today is July 1st, and it is the first day of my comeback challenge.

For the next thirty-one days, I will be doing the #RunSelfieChallenge. Each day throughout the month, I am tasked with a specific photo challenge. Today, for example, I had to take a photo "with a beverage."

And it looked like this:

The photos are just part of what I am going to do for this challenge. I have decided to up the ante by setting distance goals, too. I will run at least one mile a day and at least fifty miles for the month. It doesn't sound like a lot of miles, but for someone who has been out of the game and is just now starting again, I think it's best to set realistic distance goals. I can add miles as I feel stronger through the month, but I'm don't have to if it feels like too much.

I've been in a bad headspace for a while now, but a challenge designed around selfies is the perfect motivation for me.

And I'll let Cookie have the last word here.