2014, my 30th year of life. When I was a kid, I never thought I would make it to this point in life. I come from a background that I wont really elaborate on. I will say it wasn’t the best or safest environment for a young man or really anyone. I see news reports to this day of the terrible things that happen in that city. When I was a kid I hated the idea of moving to the south. I didn’t want to leave New York. I thank my mother for doing it either way. Without that decision I know that I wouldn’t be in this amazing place I feel I am in now.
I am 29 years old and I haven’t always had the nicest things or the greatest. I always have thought adversity and struggle builds character in the strong willed. I have always been humble of my past and beginnings. I remember what it is like to have nothing but love and the basics. As a child you grow up thinking of all the amazing things that you will do… All that you will have… We grow up calling these things dreams… Dreams… a funny thing to call them. Dreams are intangible. Dreams are seen when you’re asleep. If you really want to accomplish goals you must be awake. You must open your eyes and look to see what it is you want to accomplish. You must visualize the path and map out your direction. It will come from long days, sometimes long nights. It will come from sacrifice and hard work. It will take dedication and focus. It will take an alertness. Some may start as dreams and create an inspiration, but they transform into progress, growth, stories and finally “Notches of happiness”.
Over the past three years I have been fortunate to have experienced much growth in my character. I have been blessed to add many notches in my belt that houses my bits of happiness. They all started as dreams. They haven’t all been easy and the path has not been all pain free. I have experienced much pain over those three years. In those three years I have grown to a small version of the man I dreamed I would one day be. There are still parts of me that will want to continue to improve. As a good friend of mine says constantly “I am a work in progress” and I will always be. Some think this is draining or doesn’t allow you to be happy or embrace all that you have become. I think it helps me appreciate it more and provides motivation. I realize how far I have come. From the young, poor, nerd kid to the older, wiser, nerd man that wants to save the world and improve all around him. I will continue to work to become more while recognizing I am more than I was!
Highlights of the past three years were;
Falling in love: A true deep and passionate love. I know many people might think that to be a soft moment, but I have grown to a point to accept vulnerabilities and not be a slave to them or the misconceptions of what they mean of me. That love didn’t turn out the way I expected. Thats the pain that I mentioned before but growth requires pain sometimes and usually provides the strongest push… A bolt of lightning hitting and providing the power needed. I am thankful for this. I learned a lot.
New Job: In 2011 I was in a miserable time. I wasn’t happy with my job at all. I didn’t feel respected or appreciated. In early 2012 I started a new job. It was in a different office and it was a job more suited to my skills, needs and personality. It was a huge boost to my ego and a catalyst for future notches.
Fitness: I had grown to a point where I had not been cautious of my weight or health and overall fitness. I had blown to over 220 lbs. This was the biggest I had ever been. I decided one day that I didn’t want to be that anymore. So, I worked my ass off! I studied, I researched, I changed routines and diets. I motivated and willed myself to get fit. Not to just lose weight, but to get fit to be able to be athletic and compete in athletic challenges. I wanted to be able to do things I had never done before or hadn’t in a long time. I accomplished this and still continue to work.
Fashion: Tie Tuesday. I posted about this before so I wont spend much time on this but I wanted to recreate my image and discover my sense of style. I wanted to express myself through my clothing and to mark myself for more than what everyone else thought of me or what I was.
Volunteerism: One of the running jokes my friends have is that I want to save the world. They arent far off. as I mentioned above. I know what it is like to have nothing or very little. I have suffered and been in desperate situations. I know what it means to want or need that helping hand and how much that can make a difference in someones day or life.
Meeting Curtis Martin: One of the people that have been amazingly inspirational in the person I would like to be is Curtis Martin. I wrote a whole post on him and that meet-up here.
This brings me to 2014. This year has been an amazing year filled with a few special moments and pieces of happiness captured. I made a promise to myself last year that I would accomplish a few goals. The first of which is a continuing goal. I would mold myself into a better man. I will work to inspire people to do the same. I want to see a world where we are all pushing ourselves and each other to become better people. I want us to stop settling in this life as we are imperfect so theres no reason to try to become more or better. You don’t have to work to be perfect but to be better can improve us all. There is a lot happening in the world today and much of it saddens and darkens the hopes for a wonderful future. People are fighting each other and killing each other. We are making excuses for wrong doings and excusing some inexcusable acts. We fight with people of differences and disguise it as group/cultural/racial or religious pride. We can embrace differences and still see each other as one. My goal is to try to share this vision to bring people together. I am working on this goal and getting people to help each other and those in need. I have showcased my volunteering on social media as a way to inspire others to do the same. Theres a saying that if you do something good and more than one or two people know about it, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. I can see the reasoning behind that but if no one glamorizes the care for fellow man then who will see all the good it can bring. I will say that while it hasn’t been the most successful goal of the year, I have seen moments where I have inspired. I have had friends mention to me their desires to volunteer after seeing me do so.
The next goal I started was from a seed planted last year. I had completed my second Warrior Dash race and it was after I completed the Spartan Race earlier that year. As I sat and looked at all of the medals I had. I thought to myself
“I would like to take the next step…”. “Next year I want a bunch more medals”.
So I decided that I would race to get more. I decided in January I would work to complete the Spartan Race Trifecta. I would race in three races each of different lengths. The Spartan Sprint. The Spartan Super and The Spartan Beast. The lengths were 5 miles, 9 miles and 12 miles. The number of obstacles were 17, 24, and 27. I knew that in order to prepare my body for this challenge I would have to work. I had never run anything longer than just over a 5K and I was very hesitant about completing the Super and Beast. But I set my mind to it and decided that I can do it. It is worth the time, training to complete something so physically challenging and proving to myself that I am willing to put myself through all challenges. I completed the Spartan Sprint in March. It wasn’t as challenging as my first sprint and I felt pretty good with my preparation heading in. I paced myself and handled many of the obstacles with ease. I even surprised myself on some of them. I will go into more detail on my races in a later post. I did write about my Spartan Sprint experience earlier this year. It was more about my mental and emotional experience than the physical and you can click here for it. I just completed my final two pieces of my Spartan Race Trifecta last month. They were by far the most physically challenging things I have done. There were times during the race where I thought that I would not finish and did not want to finish. The second race I wasn’t even sure I could do because of the toll the first race took on me… I decided though, that none of that would stop me. I made a commitment! A commitment to no one but myself that I would finish both of those races. After over 20 miles, over 50 obstacles and 10 hours… You are reading the blog of Spartan Race Trifecta completer!
Another thing that I have accomplished was just last week when I met Curtis Martin for a second time. I met him at the Charlotte Touchdown Club. He was a guest speaker for the luncheon being hosted. I love hearing his stories of his background and where he has come from and how he has overcome adversity to be in the position of where he is now. The first time I met Curtis I was 50 lbs heavier. I didn’t expect him to recognize me. When I met him this time I reminded him of our first encounter back in 2012 during his induction and the letter I had written to him. He told me that he didn’t specifically remember and that he had gotten a few letters that day but kept them all. It was to be expected. We went ahead with the luncheon and then after the luncheon I spoke with him just a bit more and explained to him how he has been an inspiration to me. I brought up the letter again and I reminded him of his last words to me that day and how they were a catalyst for me to push me through challenges such as my fitness journey and The Spartan Races. Those words were “Keep Pressing”. Once I told him this, his eyes lit up and he said that he remembered me. He told me that he remembered saying that to me. I thanked him again for how much he has done for not just me but inspiring people all over. I appreciate that I got to share news with him that he had reached a goal of his own and found a “notch of happiness” by being able to inspire me. This is a moment that I will cherish for a lifetime!
This brings me to the final “Notch of Happiness”. I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!!
When I moved into my last apartment back in 2012, I had realized that I was so tired of moving. I was tired of picking up my life and moving it from one place to another. I knew I hated moving way before this but I had decided I was actually exhausted. I didn’t feel I could rest. I felt that I had worked my ass off so hard and I didn’t really have anything to show for it. At that point I was still making payments on my car I just moved into another apartment that I wasn’t all that happy about and I didn’t feel it fit me or all my plans and hopes and the happiness I wanted for myself. I was tired of paying rent to stay in a place that was so far out of my control. I figured I was tired of moving and I was ready to stabilize my life and quit lifting heavy shit back and forth. I decided that my next move will be to a place that I owned. That it would be to a place that I would stay in and have control over.
I wanted to be secure in the fact that someone wasn’t dictating how much I would pay them to tell me what I could not do. So, in that thought I decided to begin my research and that when my lease was up in 2013, I would be purchasing my first home. So I studied and did research I tried to learn all I could about the home buying process. I picked the brains of friends and even strangers. I reached out in all ways I thought I could. When 2013 came I took the next step. That february I began my search for a real estate agent to assist me. A friend of mine mentioned that his wife worked for a real estate agency and gave me her information. I looked her up and sent an email. Her office was right around the corner from my job’s office so I decided she would be the agent that I would reach out to first for information. After my first meeting with Kadena, she provided so much information that I hadn’t already known. She was sweet and was understanding of my newness to the process. When that meeting was over I felt the nerves that I had prior were still there but less prevalent. I was still hesitant about the financial process. I wasn’t sure I was able to cover the upfront expenses that would be involved. I was struggling a bit and hadn’t saved enough to the point where I had felt comfortable. I went back and forth about it for about a month. At that point it became close to the time for me to either move or renew my lease. I made the decision that I would renew my lease and put off buying the home until the next year.
Fast Forward to 2014 and the year of the decision. I realized that I absolutely did not want to renew my lease. I planned and spoke with friends. In April, 3 days before my birthday. I decided to contact my bank to get pre-approval for a loan. I received a call back on my birthday informing me I was pre-approved for a loan for the budgeted amount $150,000 I gave to the mortgage consultant Kevin. I then called Kadena and left her a message and informed her of my pre-approval. She called me back and thus we were ready to get the ball rolling. My original search parameters were for the current area I was in. I wasn’t having much luck with that so I expanded my search. I learned about so many different mortgage programs and housing and real estate terms. I asked hundreds and hundreds of questions. I feel I must have gotten on everyones nerves but they were all patient and assisted. When we were looking for homes I had a conception in mind of what I wanted but I also had to realize I couldn’t look for a dream home on a non dream budget. It didn’t feel so much as settling as it did learning to love what can be beautiful. The whole process felt similar to a dating process. I found the home I wanted to make an offer on, it fit that idea perfectly. It wasnt my dream home or a perfect home but it fit so much of what I wanted and needed. It felt right but I also felt a fear of commitment creeping. I decided I would not let that keep me from gaining something possibly great and I walked into Kadenas office with a check for $1,000 earnest money deposit and made an offer on the home. There was some back and forth on the offer amount between myself and the sellers. In the end I put a number and held firm on that and the offer was accepted. Then came the most nerve racking part of the process. There were inspections to schedule there were papers and documents to submit and calls to make. So many times I became frustrated and worried about the process and what I was taking on. Until… one day I prayed and let go. I decided that the house was going to be mine and that I would great. When closing came I found out that instead of having to pay down payments or closing costs… I would actually be getting a check back for $650. I signed the papers and then had that beautiful feeling.
I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!
I have been in my home 2 months now and I am loving it. It is an amazing blessing. I couldn’t have done it all alone. There was faith and God involved. I want to thank Kadena and Kevin for everything. They took good care of me and provided me with my best interests. Kadena provided me with so much info and helped me tremendously. I would recommend her to anyone in the market for a home. Thank you to all the friends that have provided me with information and advice. I know have talked a few ears off and complained a lot. I truly love you all for being there.
So, safe to say I added a few notches of Happiness to my belt this year. Its time to tighten it up and see whats in store for 2015. Though I do know it will be tough to top 2014.