Let something new find you and then embody it
Live, Learn and Explore! This is the motto to live life by. But what drives these actions? For me it’s not pleasure I initially seek, and it certainly isn’t acceptance. The things that have shaped me are activities that I’m incredibly passionate about. They have been cornerstones of my life for the way they have challenged me physically and mentally. I’m fortunate because all that consumes me are very positive influences from fitness, to family, and my overall health. I’ve been able to fend off the negative impulses that dominate today’s society. I’ll often add in a new fixation I can get wrapped up in just to learn something new, which in turn helps me explore, and that leads to living. My advice for others is to gather as many positive experiences as possible, and in times of despair, wrap yourself in those times for comfort and joy. Your positive passion will always provide a beacon of light, no matter how dark it gets.
Life Experience – three years ago, I didn’t own a bike. Today I own four! Not sure why it happens, but when something positive knocks, I welcome it in with open arms. Mountain bike riding has become my new passion as it checks all the boxes. Live – a great outdoor experience I enjoy with my adult daughter. Learn – I previously didn’t know the difference between soft or hard tail, tire and frame size, tube or no tube. Now ask away. Explore – I’ve ridden the mountains in 12 different states – just 38 more to go!
Help those who can’t help themselves
If you have your health and the right state of mind, you can do anything to make the world a better place. My greatest motivation and inspiration comes from my wife of 33 years, Nanci. She has been a Special Education educator at every possible level for over 35 years. I marvel at her passion and compassion no matter the challenge of a particular situation, always putting the child’s needs first and using her expertise to find a positive outcome. As I watch her navigate some very difficult situations, I always asked myself why I couldn’t do more. After some soul searching and conversations with my wife, I knew my involvement had to match my passion so I can make an impact. My love of track and powerlifting lead me to the Special Olympics. It was a truly great experience as my entire staff accompanied me to two events in New Jersey. They were truly memorable. I would eventually be honored to be asked to MC a Special Olympics Powerlifting competition at West Point. Not stopping there, I sought additional avenues to dedicate my time to an equally worthy cause. My wife recommended an organization called Best Buddies. The mission of Best Buddies is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships while integrating employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). We would go on to host events at Parisi’s in Fair Lawn, and I would go on to being a fundraising Champion of the Year for the organization.
Life Experience – We had just finished one of our Best Buddy events at the facility. It was a series of relay races, push-ups, sled pushing, and everyone’s favorite – the tug of war. After the group of 30 or so participants cleared out and the high-fives, cheering, and encouraging had ended, I sat by myself in the conference room that overlooks the turf and track, exhausted, and my shirt full of perspiration from the evening’s events. As I reflected upon all that went in to that evening, I just broke down and started to cry. I never want to forget that feeling.
The greatest measuring stick
I get asked the question a lot, “Why do you ________?” filling in the blank with a multitude of things most don’t understand, especially when a 58-year-old waxes poetically about deadlifting and mountain bike riding. No matter the activity, be it trail running or adventure racing or working in the garden, I make certain that my time is being spent doing things that bring me joy. I recommend experiencing as many pastimes as possible and finding the ones that comfort you and that you feel are vital to a positive life. Align what you control and how you spend your precious free time doing things you want to do, not doing what others want you to do. It’s your life – don’t relinquish what you control…YOUR JOY.
Life Experience – My wife enjoys a game she calls “keep or get rid of.” It’s her whimsical way of pushing me to get rid of my black, red, or grey t-shirts every season. She will go into my closet and one by one hold up a shirt and say “Keep it or get rid of.” Her instructions to me are always, “Does it bring you joy?” My response is that it doesn’t, but YOU do!
Want to read the first two installments of this blog series? You can find those here.