Someone Worth Running For…

When I signed up to be a Bellrunner, I was told by more than one person that it would be a rewarding experience.  They didn’t lead me astray.  This past Wednesday, I went to the Bell Center to meet the child whom I’m going to be running for next weekend in the Mercedes Half-Marathon.  So what is the Bell Center and what does it do?

“The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs has provided quality early intervention services in a center-based program in Birmingham.  Here, infants and toddlers at risk for developmental delay receive services from transdisciplinary teams which include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech-language pathologist and an early childhood special education teacher as each child works on specific individual developmental goals.”

River after they took the speech device off of his wheelchair.

River after they took the speech device off of his wheelchair.

I arrived a little bit early so that I could see the end of a class at the center.  I was greeted by River’s mom, April.  She introduced herself and then we started talking about her son.  River was born July 14, 2011.  From the beginning, there were problems and River spent the first 8 weeks of his life in NICU units.  At 8 months old, he was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.  This type of Cerebral Palsy causes all four of his limbs to experience muscle tightness which makes it very difficult to walk.  I talked to her about my story and the problems my family faced when I was young.  I even emailed her a link to my first post on this blog. She emailed me a link to her blog if you want to find out more about River as well as her journey.

After talking for a bit, she led me into a hallway where I could observe the end of a class.  What I saw was amazing.  There was a roomful of children …and every one of them had at least one adult working one-on-one with them.  Some of them were in wheelchairs, others in walkers, and some without anything.  It was a very busy classroom as there were more adults than children.  I watched as the kids and their helpers were huddled around a leader for the end of the class and they all sang a goodbye song.

After class ended, I went into the classroom with April to meet her child.  River was in a wheelchair being attended to by a Physical Therapist.  The Physical Therapist had been working with him during class time on using a device attached to the wheel chair to help him communicate.  Progress had been slow that particular day.

His mom wasn't lying when she said she got a good picture!

His mom wasn’t lying when she said she got a good picture!

If there was one thing I took away from the brief amount of time I got to spend with River that day is that he has the most precious smile.  He was pretty much smiling the whole time I was in the room with him.  I’ve heard rumors that he likes to sing, but he was a little quiet on this day.  When it came time to leave for the day, River seemed genuinely excited to be out of the wheel chair and in his momma’s arms.  I hope he enjoys this next week at Disney World with his family!

One of the most remarkable parts of this story is that the Bell Center provides all these services at a significantly low cost to families when compared to the multitude of services offered. (Families tution and fees cover roughly 12-15% of the costs per child to run the Bell Center)  They do this without the aid of state and federal funding.  The Mercedes Marathon Weekend is the Bell Center’s biggest fundraiser and I’m participating in it this year as a Bellrunner for River Thomas.  I need your help to reach my goal of $1310 (That’s a hundred dollars for every mile I run).  Please click on this link ( and give what you can… every dollar will make a difference.  I wish the Bell Center had existed when I was a child as I believe I would have been referred there for the multitude of issues I faced.  Luckily for me, I had a mother who wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept searching for answers and help. But I know a place like the Bell Center would have helped and given her the support and direction that she often had to find on her own.  Thank you once again for your support!

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I’m All About Goals: 2014 Edition

Last year I posted about the importance of making goals, not resolutions.  Here is a list of my goals from January of 2013:

1.  Be more positive in everything I do.  (???)
2.  Eliminate all unsecured debt. (Completed)

3.  Take another real vacation. (Completed)

The first half marathon of five that I ran last year.

The first half marathon of five that I ran last year.

4.  Run a half marathon this year (Completed)

5.  Being Mario Mendoza (Maintained)

Only a handful of people caught the fact that my first goal was in fact, a resolution.  Why is that a problem?  Because it’s hard if not impossible to verify if I accomplished it or not.  It was very subjective oriented where the rest of my goals were objective oriented.

In July, I revisited my goals, and made new ones based on the ones I had already completed.  They were:

6. Put at least 15% of after tax income into savings (Did not Complete)

Half Marathon #3: Magic City Half.  Thanks to Ryan Murphy for always being there to get pictures!

Half Marathon #3: Magic City Half. Thanks to Ryan Murphy for always being there to get pictures!

7. 8 Half Marathons in 8 Months (4 down, 4 to go)

By making goals and not resolutions, I was able to objectively measure success.  I can look back at 2013 and know that I actually achieved something, not just feel like it. So when it was all said and done, I went 4 out 5 with 1 still in progress.  For those of you who chose to make resolutions rather than goals, how did that work out for you?

2013 was a fantastic year.  I accomplished many things that I did not think were possible at the beginning of the year.  I also realized that I achieved many of my goals even before the halfway mark of last year.  I’ve taken that into consideration for my 2014 goals.  With all that being said, here are goals for 2014.

1. Run 1200 miles

Why 1200 miles?  Simple.  That’s the amount required to get a Birmingham Track Club jacket.  It also requires me to be very consistent all year.  It’s a little over 23 miles a week, or a 5k every day of the year.  It will also be a goal I cannot complete by June.  For what it’s worth, I ran just over 543 miles this year.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can run a half in one of these...

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can run a half in one of these…

2. 12 half-marathons in 12 months.

I’m essentially extending my 8 half-marathons for 8 months challenge for the rest of this year.  The challenge is going to be finding races I want to run after April when temperatures start heating up.  The only exception to this rule is that if I run a race further than a half, I’m counting it as my de-facto race for the month because…

3. Run my first marathon

I really don’t want to run a half-marathon and a marathon in the same month.  It’s expensive enough as it already is.  I quietly had plans to run my first half on December 14th, but I made the call two weeks before not to attempt it.

River Thomas: The brave young man I'm running for.

River Thomas: The brave young man I’m running for.

4. Raise the $1300 I committed myself to raise for the BellRunners

Back in October, I signed up for the Mercedes Half-Marathon as a Bell Runner.  I committed myself to raising $1300 for the Bell Center in Birmingham. Right now I’ve only managed to raise $25.  So what is the Bell Center? The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs is dedicated to maximizing the potential of children from birth to three years of age who are at risk for developmental delay.  As a Bell Runner, I have been assigned a child to raise money in his honor.  I plan on meeting him when I get back from Pasadena.  This is where I need your help. I have a little over a month to reach this $1300  goal.  So if you want to help me, you can click this link here to learn more.  Thanks for your support!

5. Outline my Autobiography
It wasn't all bad.  At one point in my life I was a trendsetting dresser.

It wasn’t all bad. At one point in my life I was a trendsetting dresser.

This goal is not meant to sound egotistical.  But this goal won’t make sense if you haven’t read my blog “Hope Can Feed a Starving Man for Years on End…”  I have a great memory, but I honestly don’t remember very much from the first 17 years of my life, especially the first 12 years.  What I can remember was hellish at times, sprinkled with some good parts, but mostly frustration.  It doesn’t help that I know about it, but don’t remember it.  There are fragments that I sometimes piece together.  But overall, a lot of its a blank.  I know my own story.  I’ve heard the details so often that I can visualize it, but I don’t remember it.  Why is this important?  Because some people need hope.  I can’t imagine being in my parents shoes facing some of the issues they faced with me.  I lived through it, but ultimately they made the choices that allowed me to be me. I don’t remember much, but I want to know all of it.  It’s a story that needs to be told.  I think I can write it.  I’ve got to start somewhere and it begins by getting it into an outline.  This by far, is the most challenging goal I’ve set.  It’s going to require quite a bit of input from family members.

6.  Write on this Blog at least once a month

I started this blog as a way to vent, convey, or just to tell stories.  During football season, JP Predict’s takes up a good bit of time.  But there is no reason for me to go months between posts.  It’s just bad form.

7.  Pay off my Second Mortgage

Last year, I paid off all my unsecured debt.  It’s been a huge burden lifted from my shoulders.  My goal this year is to get it down to just a mortgage.  

I wonder if he lwants bacon?

I wonder if he lwants bacon?

8.  Start saving 10% of every after tax dollar.

I don’t think I need to add anymore detail.  Thanks for reading my goals.  I’ll periodically update you as the year progresses.  Thanks for reading my goals.  Now help hold me accountable.

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A challenge for me, a challenge for you…

I just finished reading my last entry and realized it has been almost three whole months since I wrote for this blog.  Shame on me.  My entries so far this year have focused on goals… specifically my goals.  Last time out I referenced my five goals and my progress.  For those of you who haven’t been keeping up at home or too lazy to read my last two posts, here are my 2013 Goals:

photo (59)

Being Mario Mendoza?

1.  Be more positive in everything I do.  (In progress)

2.  Eliminate all unsecured debt. (COMPLETE)

3.  Take another real vacation. (Kinda-sorta)

4.  Run a half marathon this year (COMPLETE)

5.  Being Mario Mendoza (Steady as she goes…)

Last time I wrote it was right before I ran my first half marathon in April.  I really should have taken the time to write a blog entry about the experience, but I did not.  I completed my first half with an official time of 2:22:24.  That was 2 seconds slower than what I was aiming for.  Not bad for a 13.1 mile run, but I know I can do better.

So what’s next?

At least I wasn't last...

At least I wasn’t last…

The best thing to do when you reach goals is to celebrate them and then move on by setting new ones.  I completed goals #2 and #4 early in the year.  I originally intended to run my first half-marathon sometime later this Fall, but peer pressure pushed that time frame up.  The elimination of all unsecured debt was actually a left over goal from last year.  So two goals complete means two new goals to set.  So what are they?

1. Put at least 15% of after tax income into savings

That sounds like a lot of money to put back, but its essentially re-purposing the money I was spending to pay off debt and just putting it into savings.  I’ve actually been doing this since March.  I still use my credit cards several times a month for sizable, planned purchases.  However, I always pay them off before the next cycle.  The second goal is a bit more crazy…

2. 8 Half Marathons in 8 Months

photo (57)

At the finish line of my first half marathon.

I know some of you probably just read that goal and said “What the…”  To be honest, my plan was to run a full marathon before the end of this year.  However, I decided that I wanted to work my way up to running a marathon so that I wouldn’t just treat it like a bucket list item and only do it once.  Since my first half-marathon, I’ve continued to run… even in these awful summer months.  I was training, but I wasn’t sure for what…

About two weeks ago, I noticed the Birmingham Track Club sponsors a “Triple Crown Half Marathon Challenge.”  Three half-marathons in three months.  I looked at the line up and realized that none of the races would interfere with college football or Montevallo plans.  So I contacted my running buddy Ash and he said he would join me in the challenge.

Then I started looking at other races I wanted to run in the cooler Fall/Spring months and I realized that I could easily find at least one half-marathon every month all the way through April.  Then the most dangerous thing started happening, I started scheming… I talked to a couple of my trusted and much more advance running friends and they told me that I should be capable of this feat as long as I stayed injury free.  They told me as long as I don’t try and push for a full marathon during this time I probably would be alright… Probably.  You have to remember, some of these people run 18 miles once a week and call it a Sunday run.

So my own personal challenge was born.  8 half-marathons in 8 months.  This will be a bit of a challenge for me, but I feel like it will push me to be a better runner and continue to stay in shape.  It will also help me push for a full marathon next fall.  So here is my race schedule for the next 8 months.  The first three races are set in stone as well as the Mercedes.  The rest are tentative.

If Simon Pegg can do it..

If Simon Pegg can do it..

September 22, Talladega Half Marathon

October 12, Montgomery Half Marathon

November 24, Magic City Half Marathon

December 7 or 29th, Panama City Half Marathon

January 12, Servis1st First Bank First Light Marathon, Mobile

February 16, Mercedes Half Marathon, Birmingham

March – Tuscaloosa or Seaside Half Marathon

April –  Homewood 4.13 Half Marathon

My plan is to keep a running journal about this challenge on this website.  I’m either going to really like running after all of this or I’m going to take up cross-stitching or crotchet instead.  Now for my challenge for you…

So what is the challenge for you?

Many of you know that I started writing about college football two years ago during my exploits with the Tiger Tail Team Van.  The best thing to come out of that whole experience was that I started writing again.  My Tales from the Road segment was well read on the Tiger Tail Team website as well as at the AUFamily website.  When it became impossible to continue on with the Tiger Tail Team, I decided to continue on with my favorite part of writing, which was the predictions.  It appealed to me because my non-Auburn friends were reading it.

We love all things jorts at JP Predicts.

We love all things jorts at JP Predicts.

Last year I decided to start a website based solely on predicting SEC football games in a humorous manner.  I named it JP’s Politically Incorrect Predictions.  Without the help of my friends Ryan, Ash, and “Honest Abe” I would have never been able to get it off the ground.  When it was all said and we produced 47 articles and had over 30,000 visitors to our page.  Not bad for a website that doesn’t have any advertising.

We want to grow the website even more this year, but we need your help to do it.  Last year most of our traffic came from a small handful of individuals sharing our stuff on SEC message boards.  Despite numerous likes, comments, and returning visitors, most people failed to like our facebook page and were dependent on the same people to provide them with weekly links to our articles.

We love the fans...

Expect to see pictures like this, often.

Here is my challenge to you…

If you read and enjoy our “Politically Incorrect Predictions” and other stories please like them, share them, and help us grow.  We aren’t doing this website to make money, but to have fun.  We realize that not everyone is a college football fan or enjoys our type of humor.  But if you do, please help spread the word.  Most, if not all of you have family, friends, co-workers, or enemies that would get a kick out of what we write.  Besides, it’s much easier to write when you know you have hundreds if not thousands reading your material as opposed to dozens of people.  So please help us out if you can!  And if you already are like my friends Chris, Michael, and Jamie… we are truly thankful.  If you didn’t see one of the twenty links to our website, here is another one for you.

Until next time…

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Goals, Goals, Goals… (a quick update)

photo (52)

Reaching for your goals can be tough… especially in a suit.

Way back in January, I made a brief blog post about why goals are so much better than resolutions.  I haven’t written anything for the internetz since.  I went as far as to include five realistic goals for this year. (I guess I can be thankful writing wasn’t one of my goals)  They are:

1.  Be more positive in everything I do.

2.  Eliminate all unsecured debt.

3.  Take another real vacation

4.  Run a half marathon this year

5.  Being Mario Mendoza

So how am I progressing on these goals?  Well, I’ve made progress on all goals and after this weekend, I should have two of them completely marked off the list.

1. Being more positive in everything I do

The first goal on my list is more subjective than objective and can be difficult to measure.  It is the most resolution sounding goal on my list.  I honestly haven’t found the best way to try and measure this goal. However, I wake up every morning and try and find the good in the world around me.  At the same time, I’m trying not to lose my objectivity when it comes to tough or problematic situations where being positive is not a realistic option.  When this happens, I try to focus my energy on finding a positive solution.  Often this involves asking myself the “miracle question” which is the key to Solution Focused Therapy. I’ve found it to be a tremendous help.  I actually used this approach in coming up with my short term and long term goals.

Current status:  On-going

2.  Eliminate all unsecured debt

I actually started making a concerted effort to eliminate all unsecured debt last year.  I’m very proud to say that I achieved this goal back in March.  It’s quite nice not having to pay interest on a credit card.  Now I’m actively starting to save all the money I was spending on paying off my credit cards to build a formidable savings account back up.  Then the next step after that is active investing…

Sorry goggles, not this year...

Sorry goggles, not this year…

Current status: Completed

3. Take another real vacation

I haven’t taken vacation yet this year.  I was tempted to take a ski trip, but I didn’t.  I’m pretty sure I’ll take a trip to the beach sometime in August.  If I could amend this goal, it would be to take an international vacation.  I’m working on that right now…

Current Status: In progress

4.  Run a half marathon this year

No caption necessary.  You can make up your own.

No caption necessary. You can make up your own.

My original plan called for me to run a half marathon sometime this far.  Right now I’m way ahead of schedule.  I’m signed up to run a half marathon this weekend in Homewood.  For those of you who have been paying attention, I’ve started logging some miles and distance the last several weeks.  I can thank the quicker than planned attempt at the half to my friends from the “Monday Runday” run group at Tin Roof.

Current Status: Soon, real soon…

5. Being Mario Mendoza

You’d think I would start shedding some serious pounds with as much running/working out as I have been doing.

What ludicrous speed may look like.

What ludicrous speed may look like.

I really haven’t.  However, my metabolism has definitely started to shift into ludicrous speed.  So I’m definitely eating more right now…  and I’m continuing to be Mario Mendoza

Current Status: Steady as she goes

So what does this all mean?  It’s about time to reassess and replace my completed goals with some new ones.   Like running, it all begins by putting one foot in front of the other…

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Too Heck with Resolutions… I’m all about Goals.

new years resolutionsNew Years was ten days ago.  I’m sure that most of you who are reading this made or at least thought of making the infamous New Year’s Resolution.  I’m betting many of you did. In the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”

Its been my experience that resolutions are a waste of time.  They are often open ended, vague, and oral in nature.  Ultimately, the lack of attention to detail and the game plan to get there will lead to failure.  A prime example is “My New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight this year.”  That’s great that you want to lose weight!  But how are you going to go about losing it? How much weight do you want to lose? You see the problem here folks?  There is nothing quantifiable and its just really a statement.  I’d like a million dollars. However, without goals and a detailed game plan to achieve those goals I’m just as likely to get my million dollars as you are going to lose weight. That’s not to say that making resolutions is a bad thing, but it is only the beginning of the process.

With that said, I’m going to share some of my goals with you for this year. I’m not going into all the detail behind them, but putting them in writing is one of the bigger parts of any goal setting process…

Everybody loves a winner...

Everybody loves a winner…

Goal 1: Be more positive in everything I do.

I know that seems vague to those on the outside and goes against everything I just criticized several paragraphs before.  Honestly, this is more like a resolution, but I’ve made it into a goal.  When I was younger, I was an optimist.  When I looked at a bad situation, I could find the silver lining or something positive in almost any situation.  As I have gotten older, I’ve become more of a realist.  It has its pluses and minuses, but I’ve noticed that I to focus too much on the negative, which is often the exception.  I’m trying to be more encouraging and positive in everything I do.  It just fits me better as a person.  I’ll measure the success of this goal by the quality of company I keep.  Nobody likes being around a Debbie Downer… except for Depressed Darrell.

I'd still keep one...

I’d still keep one…

Goal 2: Eliminate all unsecured-debt

I had this goal last year and made significant progress against it until some unforeseen circumstances came along… like a week long cruise to the Caribbean that I hadn’t properly planned for.  I’m still using the same game plan I’ve had on this one for awhile.  I expect my tax return to wipe the last of it out.  This will allow me to…

Goal 3: Take another real vacation

If it is one thing I regret I haven’t done more of  it is traveling.  I’m still working on some ideas for something fun to do and this will be an evolving goal.  I expect a good week long summer trip that doesn’t involve the beach.  I’d love to get out of the country and go somewhere exotic, like Georgia.  Although I do plan to take a week long trip to the beach as well.

Hey, it worked for Simon Pegg...

Hey, it worked for Simon Pegg…

Goal 4: Run a half marathon this year

Ah, so here is a very easily measurable goal!  It will take some work to get there, but I’ve got the beginning of a game plan.  Right now I run anywhere from 4 – 10 miles a week.  I’m planning on gradually stepping that up and working it in with my Crossfit even more.  That means physical activity 4 – 5 times a week.  Building endurance is the name of the game and both activities will benefit each other.  I’ve set a November deadline for this activity.

Goal 5:  Being Mario Mendoza

I am Mendoza. My line:  You do not cross.

I am Mendoza. My line: You do not cross.

Being what?!?  Last year I set a goal to get my weight below the “Mendoza Line” or 200 pounds for those of you who don’t understand my baseball rhetoric.  I broke it only to recross it over and over again last year.  I blame my coach Mark Smith and Trinity Crossfit for that.  Where I might not have lost the weight, I definitely lost the fat.  My weight has stayed consistently between 200 – 208 range for the past several months.  Instead of trying to limbo under that Mendoza Line, I’ve decided to be one with it.  However, I still want to tone up some more…

Well these were just some of my goals for 2013, what are yours?

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A Year Later…

Yesterday it had been one year since my last surgery.  Trying to remember anything from the first few months following surgery are actually still foggy, but I remember almost everything from the day of the surgery.  I published my first blog post to this site attempting to explain things to some and clarify things to others.  If you have not read it, I recommend you click here before reading on or you might be a little confused.

So what is different a year later?  

Cosmetically, not much.  Unless you haven’t seen me in the last 15 years or so you wouldn’t notice really anything different.  My eyes tracking together has gotten better and that’s about it.

Mentally, everything is different.  The last 12 months I’ve my life have been the most interesting in my life.  To be honest, I only really remember about the last 10 of them.  The first two after surgery are really just a blur at this point.  For those of you who know how much I love my memory, its rather frustrating not being able to remember big chunks of two months of your life.  Before I get any further tangents, I’ll try answer some questions.

Why is everything “mentally” different? The world just looks different.  When things looks different, you perceive and process it differently.  In the past, things returned to “normal” several months after surgery.  This time it never did.  I can’t tell you if it is a good thing or a bad thing.  It’s just different.

Does this bother you?  It is more frustrating than anything else.  I’m not sure if it is the new “normal” and things are truly better or something is truly wrong.  I lean very heavily towards the new “normal.”  I feel like my peripheral vision is better and that things are better.  However, my mind is taking a lot longer to adjust to these changes.  Hence the reason why everything is “mentally” different.

What is “normal” to you and why would it have changed? or Why do you not remember much from after the surgeries? I had two separate eye surgeries within four months of each other.  After each prior past surgery I had periods of times to adjust and develop a new “normal.”  I don’t think I ever fully recovered or adjusted from surgery number six before I had surgery number seven.  So when I had both eyes operated on last December, it changed everything.

I don’t remember many details from last January and February, but what I do remember is everything being very different after the surgery.  It was like everything was “out of place” and things looked very “surreal.”  An good analogy would be it was like looking at the world through someone else’s glasses.  To be honest, it still feels very surreal right now when I start thinking about it.  It was like my mind was having a very difficult time trying to understand and process what it was seeing.  It’s gradually improved or either I’ve just gotten used to it.

Why would having eye surgery mess with your memory? We perceive the world through our senses.  Most people rely on what they see and what they hear the most.  Most of the way my memory functions is tied to sight.  Changing the way I see things also seemed to change the way I processed and stored memories.  It caused a “hiccup” in my process.  The mind is a powerful thing and has seemed to adjust to the new settings.

Are you done with surgeries? I don’t know.  Right now I don’t feel like the issues I’m experiencing are something that can be fixed with a scalpel.  I feel like they are cognitive.  I saw the world a certain way for 32.5 years.  I obviously feel like I see it differently now and I’m still relatively new to it.  For the time being, I’m sticking to my mantra of Patient Time.

What’s next?  Patient time… and a brand new season of Archer on January 17th!

If you have any questions feel free to post them in a comment or just ask!  Thank you for reading.

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The Challenges of Staying Regular…

Those who have known me for a majority of my life would tell you I had two gifts growing up… drawing and writing.  The last piece of art that I produced was completed in May of 1998 and hopefully still hangs on an old friend’s wall in Hoover.  The last piece of composition that I produced that wasn’t a school assignment was July of 2000…  That was until July of 2011 when I wrote my first “Tails From the Road” piece for a new blog I had started.

Looking back at it now, I find it hard to believe that I went eleven years without composing something of meaning or importance outside the classroom.  It really makes me sad when I think about all the things I could have or should have written about.  I might have to slowly start telling some of those stories over the next several months.  As for the art, I still haven’t picked up the pencil and started drawing…  I’m not sure I ever will.

Today’s challenge is staying regular when it comes to writing and blogging.  I’m sure several of you opened this blog expecting something different because of my mother and her special tea… but that’s a story for another time.  Last year, I composed all the material for the now defunct Tiger Tail Team website.  Every week, I wrote a story about the prior weeks adventures as well as my weekly predictions. I pretty much did all the writing. However, they certainly wanted to read everything before I published it (which is understandable).  What I did not appreciate was one of the particular people wanting to act as an editor on anything and everything I published.

The whole process got extremely exhausting.  I was gone every weekend.  I spent Sunday afternoons and Monday nights writing a 2000 -2500 word “Tails From the Road” piece.  Then on Thursday, I would compose a 1500 – 2000 word politically incorrect prediction piece.  Averaging 4000 words of composition a week for a hobby took its toll.

The first week of the tiger tail team website,  it got a little over 200 hits on the pieces I produced.  I got very excited.  Two weeks later, that number was over 2000 hits.  By the end of the season when I stopped, it was closer to 3000 hits a week.  All told, the website got over 16,000 visitors in about a three month period.  My stories ran concurrently on another website as well.  That blog produced a staggering 60,000 hits last year.

By December, I was burned out.  I had some amazing adventures, but those I was involved with did not share the same dream or vision for the venture that we had started together.  We have since gone our separate ways.  One day I will take the time and explain that story, but part of it is still playing out.

One of the best things to come out of the whole adventure/ordeal was that I had rekindled my passion for writing.  I started this blog which you are reading shortly before the new year.  The challenge has always been to find something that interested me enough to sit down and write.  I’ve updated it on a very irregular basis, but I’ve kept it much more personal.  I’m planning on keeping it that way…

This last summer, I decided I wanted to continue to still write about college football.  Looking back through the old websites statistics, I discovered that the predictions part of the website were popular among people from other teams (“Tails From the Road” was very much an Auburn thing).  They would read the “Tails From the Road” story that involved their team, but they would keep coming back for the weekly predictions.  One of my goals was to write to a wider fan base than just the Auburn one.  Writing a weekly predictions for all SEC teams would provide me with an avenue to do so.  The predictions were one of my favorite things to write, hence was born.

I can’t tell you the amount of time it takes that goes into the predictions every week (actually I can).  It’s very time consuming and at times, there are a thousand other things I would rather be doing.  The challenge is to produce something that is humorous, doesn’t cross too many invisible lines, and some how remains accurate.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  I’ve picked up a couple of friends along the way to help me along this adventure (Ash and Honest Abe).  I’m not sure where it is going, but it continues to grow.  Many of you who read this post also read the politically incorrect predictions.  The best thing you can do to help us is to like our Facebook page and “share” and “like” our posts and stories.  It helps us grow and we want to keep growing.  By doing so you can help us stay regular when it comes to posting new material.

Until next time…

Posted in Incoherent Thoughts, Musings, Ramblings, Random | 4 Comments

Cause I’m somewhere in the middle of this…

It’s been my belief that you show more about yourself and your character by how you handle adverse or undesirable situations, especially when there appears to be no-win solutions.  It is in these moments that are principles, ethics, and what constitutes our moral fiber is challenged.  We often define who we are and what we hold most dear by how we respond.  Is it our reputation, family, friends, justice, beliefs, dignity, self-worth?  Regardless of what we choose, we will try and justify our decisions (rational or not) in an effort to make ourselves feel better.

The last several months, I have been confronted with quite a few of these situations… stacked one on top of another.  None of these situations were directly related to one another, but they were all extremely taxing in their own different ways.  The one thing in common is that they all affected me in some form or fashion.  Quite frankly, the last couple of months have been some of the most challenging times of my life.

To talk about any one of the numerous situations in detail in this forum would be inappropriate and would not achieve anything except to further fan the flames or re-stoke the embers that some have since died down… which is not my intention.  To say I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting on it all is an understatement.  In every one of the situations I had to ask myself what I really wanted, what I thought was right, and what I believed.  They often did not add up and I was put in the position of having to make difficult choices.

So I made choices, not knowing what the results of these choices would be, but hoping for the best.  I know I can’t make everyone happy nor justify my decisions to everyone.  But in the end, I’ve had to make choices that I would be able to wake up and look at myself in the mirror and not be ashamed of the person looking back at me.  Through this whole process, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I value.  The challenge is always doing what I feel to be the right thing, even if it comes at a personal cost to me…  I feel like sometimes it is a reminder that the right decision is often not the easiest, nor the likeliest one most people will take.   In the end of it all, I’m the same person I was before.  I’m just a bit wiser and maybe a bit more seasoned…

I’m still a deeply caring and passionate human being and for those who have spent any deal of time around me, I hope my actions reiterate this point.  At the same time, I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes and you might not always like the decisions I make.  Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong.  In the end, I just want to be happy…  and I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s chance at happiness to achieve my own.

The choices I have made have come at a cost.  Every choice I’ve made has been met with consequences… some of them I have expected, others I have not.  It has never been my intent to hurt others are cause anyone else pain.  Undoubtedly, it has happened.  For that I am sorry.  I have had to remind myself that I have been down a similar road before when it comes to making hard choices… and the sun did keep rising in the East.  I’m pretty sure it will rise tomorrow.

Posted in and other Incoherent Thoughts, Ramblings | 2 Comments

Your Time, Your Heart, and Your Dues…

Jim Methvin presenting me with the Alumnus Loyalty Award last night.

These are the prepared remarks I gave last night at the University of Montevallo’s National Alumni Assocation Award Banquet…

Let me begin by saying I am truly honored and humbled to be standing in front of you right now.  I’d like to thank the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association for presenting me with this award.  I look out into the crowd and see people who I look up to as role models and mentors, and I many of you I call friend.

Before I get to my prepared remarks, there are several people out in the crowd who I feel need special recognition and I want to say thanks.   Without them and their support, I would not be standing in front of you today.

Jim Methvin.  Jim, you’ve been a mentor and a friend.  My only regret is I didn’t know you when I was in college.  It sure would have made my life easier at times.

Dr. Susan Vaughn.  Thank you for always supporting me, yet challenging me.  It has meant more to me than you may ever know.  For those of you who don’t know, Montevallo has the top undergraduate social work program in the state.  It did when I was in school, and Dr. Hitchcock, Dr. Newell, and Jeannie Duke are continuing on that tradition.

Last but certainly not least, my family who is sitting right in front of me.  I don’t have time to thank you enough for all the love, support, and guidance you have given me.  They are an amazing support network and I would like to introduce them to you.

Ryan Matson.  Ryan is my childhood best friend.  My Montevallo story doesn’t begin if not for you.  I’m so thankful that you got to choose Montevallo to continue your story.

Jason Booi.  My big brother when I got to Montevallo.  I’ve learned so much from you and your family.  Five years from now we will look back at this moment and smile my friend.

Jamie Purvis.  My older brother who has watched over me far more than I realize at times.

Dad, you’ve always been there when I’ve needed you and given timely advice. It is still very much appreciated.

Mom, you are a social worker at heart.  You never gave up on me, even after the doctors and other “professionals” did when I was a child.  You didn’t take no for an answer.  Thank you.

The story I want to tell you today comes from my time as a student and advisor to my fraternity.  One of the things required of a pledge was to get an interview from every member of the organization.  One of the questions they had to ask is “What do I owe the fraternity?”  My answer for over a decade was always the same.

Your time, your heart, and your dues.  Your time because you are going to get out of this organization exactly what you put into it.  Your heart because if you don’t give it your all, you are just wasting your time and mine.  Your dues because where friendship is free, insurance is not.

I’ve taken this same philosophy when it comes to being an alumnus of Montevallo.  I give my time, my heart, and my dues.  I volunteer my time and help when and where I can.  As for my heart, let’s just say I have no shame supporting Montevallo.  I really do give it my all.  The purple suit has been probably one of the worst kept secrets.  Last, but not least, I pay my dues.  I was afforded many opportunities to further my education at Montevallo by alumni who gave to the social work program so that I could attend conferences and network as an undergraduate.  I feel fortunate that I am able to help afford students the same opportunity now.

I don’t have to tell anybody in this room what a special place Montevallo is.  You all already know it.  I know I’m speaking to the choir in here, but my challenge to you is ask yourself am I giving my time, my heart, and my dues to help further the mission and vision of Montevallo?  By giving of these things you make students, professors, staff, and administrators lives a little bit easier.

In closing, I would like to thank you once again for honoring me with the Alumnus Loyalty Award.  Thank you from the whole of my heart.  Now may I live up to the honor that you have bestowed upon me…

Posted in Musings, Ramblings, Story Time | 1 Comment

May You Live Up to the Honors Bestowed Upon You…

Twelve years ago, I was named to the First Team All Alabama Academic Team representing Jefferson State.  I underwent a rigorous nomination and application process to be named to the team.   A lot of good things were said and written about me.  I was treated to an awards banquet at the Wynfrey Hotel and I even had my picture in the Birmingham News.  Being named to the team opened up many doors for me.  It was through this process that I would eventually end up spending the following summer in Washington, D.C.

The phrase that has stuck with me since that time was not something that was never written in a nomination letter or put in the application packet.  “May you live up to the honors bestowed upon you.”  It is a phrase that my uncle Doug used after I received word that I had been named to the team.  It stayed in the back of my head the rest of that Spring as I continued to receive honors, awards, and scholarships.

Not the award I’m receiving.

It has always been a humbling phrase reminding me that there is still work to be done.  Enjoy the moment, but don’t rest on your laurels.  I’ve always taken it as a challenge.

Tonight, I will be going back to another award banquet after being nominated and selected for a very prestigious award by the University of Montevallo National Alumni Association.  I feel truly honored and humbled to be recognized by the university I fell in love with twelve years ago.  At the same time, I feel overwhelmed and unworthy of such a prestigious award.  The challenge still remains, “May I live up to the honors bestowed upon me…”

Posted in Musings | 1 Comment