Thank you for being a friend!

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WOW-it’s been a year since I started my blog, Say Yes To Life!  I really can’t believe that 365+ days have gone by and what a difference 365 days have made in my life. A year ago I was definitely starting to hit my stride again after a very difficult year. I was also about to meet someone who would change my life. What it all comes down to for me, is friendship. The way I got out of the darkness of loss is because of friends. The reason I started this blog is because of friends. The reason I met my love is because of friends. Friendships ebb and flow, but the real ones last forever.

I was recently in London and saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  

I didn’t know much about Carole King except that she has written a ton of songs and people love her.  My boyfriend and I went to the show without much expectation.  It did win the star a Tony Award in the USA and the equivalent award in England was recently won by it’s “Carole”.  After two hours I walked away having a greater sense of the massive amounts of hit songs Carole King wrote AND tear filled eyes.  My boyfriend and I were standing on the corner of the street and I just started to sob.  What moved me more than anything in the show was the power of friendship.  Carole King and her husband were a writing team.  Next door in the same music executive office was another writing team, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. This foursome became such amazing friends, which was reflected in the show. Everything about how they met and became friends and supported each other through life’s ups and downs, even though they were competing to get their songs picked up by the record company, was beautiful.  I started to sob because I am so fortunate to have so many friends from over the years who have supported me in big and small ways.  Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann, and Cynthia Weil represent the good and bad, happy and sad times in life that all need support.  Friendship is about supporting each other and looking out for one another and truly, moving through life, together. The minute I left the theatre I knew I would write a blog about my friendships and what they mean to me. So here it is….

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Friendship is about time.  We are all so busy.  No matter if your busy is picking the kids up after work and feeding them and putting them to bed or going to yoga, then dinner with friends, everyone is busy with their life.  I am so fortunate to have friends who reach out and say, “Hey, let’s grab dinner. Let’s grab drinks.” Just last night I had dinner with a couple of my running friends.  We haven’t seen each other in months, but it was great to catch up.  Tonight I had a couple beers with a friend of 15 years.  We met at a bar that we used to frequent back in our early teaching days.  We both commented that, “it still smells the same it did in 2001.” Though I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like and our times aren’t as crazy as they used to be, we can always pick up where we left off. The point is, you have to make the effort to keep friendships going because when life is going well and you are “busy”, it can get away from you.

The reason this blog, SAY YES TO LIFE! started is because a high school friend I hadn’t seen since June 1995 reached out on Facebook and said, “Hey, I’m going to be in Chicago, I love your #100Happydays posts, and we should get a glass of wine.” We did and that hour of my life changed my life.  She truly inspired me to share my story and share my life.  What that meant a year ago was to share the pain of the previous year(completely cathartic).  Now it means sharing what I’ve learned about life, by SAYing YES TO LIFE! And where I got the name of the blog was because a friend said, “I can’t believe you are going to meet up with Dana.”  I said, “I’m saying yes to life!” Dana gave me her time, which was a true gift to me. I’m forever grateful

As I mentioned above, tonight I grabbed beers with my friend Amanda.  I posted on Facebook that we were at our old watering hole reminiscing about 2001.  Since I have been writing, the amount of “likes” on that post keeps going up and up from all of our old teaching friends.  Many of those people I haven’t seen in years, but we shared something so special back then. We were all under 30 or right around there. We were all single. We were all fun people and boy did we have fun. What I have learned in life is that things change. No matter how hard you try to not let the changes happen, they do. However, what I can do is go back in my memory bank and remember those amazing, great times. What matters is that we all gave each other our time. It is one of the greatest gifts we can give to someone.  Time. Time is precious and now knowing how life gets so “busy” I truly value the time that my friends give me.  Whether we are making dinner and drinking wine, crying on the phone over boys, laughing on Divvy bikes, dancing our fool heads off, or just chilling, we are giving one another time and that is valuable. Things can change at a moment’s notice, we all know too well, so give time to your friends.  It’s really important.

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Friendship is also about drinking. Face it, this is the truth! There have been different times in the last few years that I have tried to give up alcohol for a month, six weeks, whatever.  What I have noticed is that I like to drink.  I’ve also noticed that my friends are lushes too.  So that is important!  Ha, well, what it has shown me is that a lot of the time I spend with friends being social is centered around food and drinking.  You know what?  I’m ok with that. I should also note that my drinking has evolved over the years.  Back in 2000 when I moved to Chicago it was Captain and Coke.  Good God, if I even smell that these days I gag. I was also typically around a Flip Cup table.  Now I am a refined drinker of rosé, or as it should be called, “Summer Water.”  I like to do this on someone’s deck or on a patio in the summer. If drinking brings me together with my friends, so be it.  What is important, again, is that we are spending time together, the true gift in life.

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Friendship is about taking their hand, walking with them side by side, and letting them know that it is going to be ok. There are so many different times in life that are dark.  Breakups, death, loss…. When I was in that dark place, I had friends who would be with me in a moment’s notice, who would cook dinner, who would be there to take my call in the morning and at night and at noon and at….you get the point.  I had friends who would get drinks with me just so I didn’t have to be alone.  I’m forever grateful for all of my friends who took time out of their busy life to walk by my side and let me know that I would be ok.  I am ok. I’m SO ok now and a much better person because of the struggle. But the best thing that came of that darkness is that I was able to spend time with some amazing people in my life. Look, we’re all trying to make it through this life day by day. Some days are better than others, but I truly believe that friendships help us in those dark times but also in the good times to remind us always that we have a really damn good life. Be a good friend and notice when someone needs you.  Whether it is a shoulder to cry on or a drinking buddy they need, be there, by their side.

From a blog, Positive Outlooks Blog, I follow:

Life is not a race-but indeed a journey. Be honest. Work hard. Be choosy. Say “thank you”. “I love you”, and “great job” to someone each day. Take time for prayer. Be thankful. Love your life and what you’ve been given, it is not accidental. Search for your purpose and do it as best you can. Dreaming does matter. It allows you to become that which you aspire to be. Laugh often. Appreciate the little things in life and enjoy them. Some of the best things really are free. Do not worry. Forgive, it frees the soul. Take time for yourself. Plan for longevity. Recognize the special people you’ve been blessed to know. Live for today, enjoy the moment. — Bonnie Mohr

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So to all of my friends, THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND. It’s no secret that gay men and single women often talk about having a “Golden Girls” house when we get older. I mean, we’re going to have to take care of each other, right? Each group of friends has a Rose and a Blanche, a Dorothy and a Sophia.  We all have a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte too. Friendship is special. Friendships evolve over time.  Some are more significant than others and some last longer than others too. What I think is special is that people come into our lives for different reasons and for different lengths of time. But the most significant thing is to realize how each person who has crossed your life, from your first friend at age three to your most recent friend, has impacted you. How have they shared their time with you? How have you shared your time with them. Tomorrow you might not wake up or your friend might not come home from work again. Take the time to reach out and show the love you have for your friends. Spend time with those people who make you happy and who help to make you a better person. Spend your precious time smiling and laughing and enjoying good food and drinks. Life is short so get out there and enjoy it. Life is also beautiful when you stop for a moment and enjoy your friendships.

Tightrope

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Kelly Clarkson released her 7th studio album on Tuesday.  No one loves it and no one hates it. At best, all the reviews are mixed.  As a fan, and a lover of connecting to lyrics, I love it. Kelly doesn’t shy away from expressing her emotions, one of the things I love most about her. It might not be the most personal effort to date for Kelly, but it stays true to what she has always been to me, a fighter, a truth speaker, a feeler of emotion, and a powerhouse singer.  I love Kelly and I love this album.

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Upon first listen, besides the lead off single “Heartbeat Song”, the stand outs were, “Someone”, “Run Run Run” a duet with right now piano man John Legend, “Dance With Me” and “Let Your Tears Fall.”  Then I was driving home yesterday from work and I heard “Good Goes the Bye” and was immediately connected to it.

It’s like we pulled the pin out of a grenade
It just didn’t go off right away
But man did it go off when it finally did
Everything’s suddenly magnified
It’s loud and it’s quiet at the same time
As the echo of it’s all over sets in

The bridge of the song hits you right in the gut.  Anyone who has ever gone through a hard breakup, knowing in your heart that being “friends” is a dumb idea and next to impossible, you think about it and think it is possible because you want nothing more than to be connected to that person in anyway possible.  Then you eventually realize, it’s not a good idea.  You weren’t friends before you dated, so why be friends once it’s over? There is a reason it is over. It’s a gut punch, but you eventually realize it’s for the best.

I can’t go back, we can’t be friends
And we can’t be what we were then
You can’t be mine, and I can’t be yours
And it’s not love anymore

The final blow comes when Kelly gets to the third singing of the chorus. She comes in with backing vocals repeating each line in her upper register.

Slam goes the door
Hush goes the phone
Out goes the flame
And I’m standing here alone
Burn goes the drink
Down go the tears
Drip goes the sink
And I’m missing you like hell
Break goes the heart
Wrong goes the right

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I suppose there isn’t anything extraordinary about he melody of this song, but it is sort of catchy.  What gets to me, always with a song, are the lyrics, especially when I can relate.  I just love “Good Goes the Bye”.  How many times have you been at that point of a relationship ending and the “hush” of the phone is almost unbearable. “Out goes the flame/and I’m standing here alone/burn goes the drink/down go the tears” are some of the most relatable lyrics.  We’ve probably all been there and “break goes the heart” but I hope those of us who have been, can stand on the other side and say, it was for the best.  “Wrong goes the right/Goodbye.”

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I posted on Facebook my favorite songs and wondered what my friends thought.  “Tightrope” was definitely a crowd pleaser. This morning on my way to work I made sure to take a closer listen.  It struck me with the chorus.

And I ain’t seen nothin’ like you
The way you light up every room tonight
So easily
And I have moved mountains, babe
Just a stumble and too long a grace
And I, I still can’t compete

What is this song about?  To me, it’s about putting people up on a pedestal. It could be the person you are in a romantic relationship with, or a family member, or even a celebrity.  Why do we feel less than, then put others above us?  In my past relationship why did I put my ex on a pedestal?  At the time I thought he was everything and I would have done anything not to rock the boat for fear he would end our relationship.  Why do we do this to ourselves in relationships? Back then I was suffocated by wanting a relationship to work so badly with a guy I put up on this pedestal. I wouldn’t bring up wanting more out of our relationship because I feared his reaction.  After months of dating I wouldn’t say “I love you” for fear he would freak and end things. Ultimately, I couldn’t be my full self because I worried this person I put on a pedestal would reject me and our relationship.  Well, he did that anyway, and thank god! I have learned SO much about myself, what I am worth, and that that cannot be compromised in a relationship if we want to continue to grow. I could never have grown in that past relationship.  No one deserves to be on a pedestal.

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Now the rich and famous….famous for what? Why do we put Jennifer Lopez on a pedestal of celebrities?  She can’t sing, can barely dance, and act….you saw Gigli. So what is Jennifer Lopez besides a beautiful 40 something woman? At least Angelina Jolie is adopting the world.  Kelly’s song “Tightrope” made me think, Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why do we place people on pedestals to stand above us? We should all stand together, not above or below. Jennifer Lopez is beautiful, but what else? In a relationship no partner should be placed above another, ever.  The only way to grow as a partnership and love each other is to be side-by-side, together.

Which brings me to “Heartbeat Song” the lead single off Kelly’s new album, Piece By Piece. This is a pop romp!

You, where the hell did you come from?
You’re a different, different kind of fun
And I’m so used to feeling numb
Now, I got pins and needles on my tongue
Anticipating what’s to come

“You, where the hell did you come from?” The night I met my boyfriend wasn’t just any night, it was the 4th of July, but ok, otherwise, it was a night out with friends. The age old saying goes, “You’ll find him when you aren’t looking.” Oh you can all go fuck yourselves with that saying. And while you’re at it, take with you, “Have fun with it,” in reference to dating. Dating isn’t fun and when you’re single, who isn’t looking? Yet……”You, where the hell did you come from?” On that Friday night I was briefly introduced to this really good looking, smart, well dressed man in pink shorts, who bought me a drink. He gave me his phone number and told me he’d be in town the rest of the weekend. Still under dispute is the question of who pursued who. He gave me his number and bought me a drink, and this is my blog, HE pursued ME!

The rest is really history.  It’s been a “Heartbeat Song” since July 4th! 🙂

Until tonight I only dreamed about you
I can’t believe I ever breathed without you
Baby, you make me feel alive and brand new
Bring it one more time, one more time

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What I can say now, that I couldn’t say two years ago, is that being in a mutually fulfilling relationship makes all the difference.  I love my boyfriend more than anything and we grow every time we’re together.  There are so many “Heartbeat Song” moments I can’t name them.  He’s funny and sassy and classy and loving and generous and loves me for who I am, flaws and all.  He’s not on a pedestal(as he read this I know he shouted, “I’M NOT?”) and neither am I.  We have “opportunities to grow” and we do. We work together to understand each other. I can be who I am, good times and not such good times(I guess even I get moody too) but there is never this fear that I can’t be who I am or he won’t love me. What I’m saying is, trust yourself, value yourself, believe in your worth, and you too will find a guy who will give you a “Heartbeat Song” all the time.

This is my heartbeat song and I’m gonna play it
Been so long I forgot how to turn it up up up up all night long
Oh up up all night long
This is my heartbeat song and I’m gonna play it
Turned it on
But I know you can take it up up up up all night long
Oh up up all night long

#100HappyDays ~ The Simple Things

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Gosh, a year ago around this time I was starting my first ever #100happydays post on Instagram.  When I started I thought, this will be something that will keep me occupied, especially through those dark, lonely winter days and nights. I had no idea the impact of taking a photo and posting it on Instragram would have on me.  I had no idea that reflecting about one simple thing each day would actually make me happy.  After consistently doing this practice of highlighting one thing each day that made me happy and doing it for 100 days, I realized that some days were easy and others were difficult to find something.  There were times that it was obvious, dinner with a great friend or a frosted cookie.  Other times I took a picture of a Budda and yoga was my happiness.  One of the most distinctive days, the day that I actually believe I realized that I MAKE my own HAPPINESS, was when I simply opened an avocado for dinner.  It was the most perfect green and yellow color inside with no blemishes; smooth as could be.  You know what I’m talking about if you like avocado.  I found such great happiness looking at that beautiful, simple, perfect fruit.  The practice of looking closely, sometimes at the simplest of things, is what truly makes us happy.

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The Simple Things that make me happy:

Candles

Vanilla Comoro Tea(Harney & Sons)

Baking

Things That Sparkle

Nice, Colorful Underwear

Hazelnut Coffee 

Music

Oreo Cookies

A Coffee Mug From a Travel Destination

Soft, Colorful Socks

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LONG HUGS

A Smile From a Stranger

A Smile From a Friend

Holding Hands

Face Lotion

Frosted Cookies

Chapstick

Sending Goodies to My Nieces

Yummy Smelling Handsoap

Homemade Brownies

Traditions

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Ripe Avocado

Time On My Yoga Mat

Memories

Honeycrisp Apples

Whitney Houston

Sunny Days

Brunch With Friends

Brunch With My Entertainment Weekly and Me

Hazelnut Creamer

Good Wine

ROSÉ

Aged Gouda

My Text Tone(bc someone is thinking of me)

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Crisp Red Grapes

Peanut Butter on a Spoon When I Get Off the Plane

Sleeping In

Deep Breaths

Christmas Cards

Glitter

Friendship

Movies

Sharing

Dinner Parties

Singing

Dancing

Laughing

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Follow my next installment of #100happydays on Instagram @spartyguy99.  Who knows what will make me happy this time. What I know for sure is what a difference a year can make in your life. Happiness truly is a choice, I believe.  Shitty things can happen to us, but we have the choice to find the silver lining and wrap ourselves up with happiness and love from the simple things.  Fantastic things can happen to us too and we still have the choice to acknowledge those things and enjoy them.

What are your happy days?  What are the simple things in your daily life that make you happy?

Sometimes I Wish I Was Gay

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I’ve always tried to be myself throughout my life.  Of course that wasn’t always easy due to that little word, “repression.”  But overall I think I have done a pretty good job at least surviving some of those milestones.  I survived elementary school expressing my love and devotion for Whitney.  I survived middle school.  Lawd, we ALL survived middle school.  I survived high school exploring my interests in musicals and band and hanging out with friends.  I survived college…..lawd sometimes I wonder how I survived college.  I did it mostly staying true to who I was or trying to figure it all out.  I unabashedly loved *NSync and Celine and still, Whitney.  I did it dancing at bars and making mixed tapes and reading Entertainment Weekly and kind of dating girls, but exploring affection for boys too.  And I’ve survived 15 years of adulthood here in Chicago exploring me and trying to figure it all out.

One of the greatest gifts I have given myself is allowing me to live my life.  Although society has certainly played a role in shaping who I am and trying to keep me a “man” by design, I was designed different and thank the LAWD for that.  Last weekend I was at my good friend’s birthday party.  It had a dance floor, 3 gays, and a lot of beautiful women.  There were a lot of moments, like free style dancing to Journey’s “Separate Ways”, two of us boys jumping into the windows during a rendition of “Out Tonight” from RENT(musical people, you get it), and just a lot of fancy, wild, FREEDOM of dance.  While we were all doing that, another friend was at a table and a guy there said, as he looked at the amazing time we were having on the dance floor, “Sometimes I wish I was gay.”  I wonder, is he saying that he wishes he was out there dancing up a storm because there are so many beautiful women?  Or is he saying that because we were just being wild and free and not caring what society says about it?  I tend to believe it is the latter.  Society really sucks sometimes when it teaches men how “real” men should act.  I feel lucky because I have almost always been able to be me.  I’ve always had friends and family who have allowed me to dance like a fool on the dance floor at a wedding or at the bar.  Last spring I was at a bar in Chicago and it was 80s/90s night and right when we walked in Whitney played, then Janet, then Mariah.  It was amazing and we were dancing like no one was watching. I’m pretty much always dancing like no one is watching.  It was SO fun and we were all sweaty fools.  I noticed some twenty somethings laughing, pointing, and taking photos.  Oh, youth! They only wish they could be as free as us thirty somethings who know how to Say YES to Life without feeling bad or ashamed.

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It just speaks to how our society sends messages to our youth.  I wish more men were able to watch some crazy fun gay guys and think, “man I wish I felt comfortable out there.”  More than anything else, I invite them to dance up a storm, get out there. Release a little of that “how a man is supposed to act” feeling and let loose on the dance floor men!  If you are raising boys, let them explore their interests.  Let them know, leading by example, that it’s ok to dance like no one is watching!

I’m clear.  I’m courageous.  I can.

Tonight in yoga my instructor started with an intention, “I’m clear.  I’m courageous.  I can.”  It really resonated with me as I pondered this blog post.  As I mentioned above, I have survived to age 38 fairly unscathed with society’s standards for men and how we should act.  Luckily as a kid, in 1987, my dad introduced the American Music Awards to me.  He saw it listed in the television guide in the paper.  We had just gotten our first VCR.  “You should tape this award show tonight.  You might like it.” It was the night Whitney won award after award after award, 5 total, for her Whitney Houston debut album.  That was the night I fell in love with her.  Of course there were times as a teen I wanted to scream, “I LOVE YOU JORDAN KNIGHT!” but instead I felt I couldn’t, rather I littered my bedroom walls with Paula Abdul BOP Magazine pictures.  There were times in college that I really wanted to cuddle with boys, instead I did what society taught and cuddled with girls(like a few times-don’t get crazy). What comes with age, hopefully, is wisdom and clarity. Finally around age 26 I had the clarity to accept my homosexuality.

Certainly throughout my life I faced challenges that prepared me for this life.  My mom taught me to be courageous at the young age of 8 when it was realized in 2nd grade that I did not know how to read.  Elementary school worked itself out, but when I hit sixth grade it took me hours nightly to complete my homework.  Due to my dad traveling heavily for work, my mother was home alone with my brother and me a lot.  I just remember her picking me up from home after working all day, racing across town to get my allergy shot.  Other nights she had to take my brother to various sports practices.  She always made dinner, cleaned up, and managed to keep my ADD in check as I would spend hours doing my homework, much of the time sitting by my side.  In my line of work I know so many parents who are not willing to take the time to be a PARENT.  Luckily for me, my mother did and through it all, taught me how to be courageous. That certainly has served me academically, professionally, and personally in my life.

I didn’t always feel like I could be myself growing up.  My parents did their best to support me and my varied interests without making me feel guilty or shame.  Though he teased me in many other ways, my brother never made me feel bad about my interests in watching hours of Star Search, award shows, pageants, or taping hours of Whitney Houston coverage on television. But still, I didn’t always feel that I could put my “shows” on in public or in our living room. I always knew I had a safe place at home, but even there I sometimes hid in the basement to create solo dance shows or other acting/performing shenanigans. What I learned growing up in my house, never through direct conversation, mostly just through experience, was that “I can.”  I can watch award shows and Miss Universe and it’s ok.  I can be successful and complete my academic work.  It might have taken me four hours a night, but I could do it.  “I’m clear.  I’m courageous.  I can.”

What I know now is that society has certain rules and standards and roles that it tries to get girls and boys to follow. Depending on where children are raised, how they are raised, and by whom they are raised has an incredible impact on who they are as an adult member of the same society that “raised” them.  It takes courageous parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, neighbors, and all the rest of society to allow our kids to explore their interests, out in the open, without judgement, ridicule, or expectation.

Learning to Love Yourself

I am profoundly grateful that I am gay.  It has allowed me to not follow the rules and to be different.  It has allowed me to not follow the norms set before my male peers.  Being gay has allowed me to buck society.  It hasn’t always been easy, but growing up isn’t for anyone.  It hasn’t always been accepted, but not everything a child does ever is.  Whether it was the family who raised me or the mostly kind people I grew up with or whether it came from within me, I think I turned out kind of alright. Luckily for me, I have never thought, “Sometimes I wish I was straight.”

Say YES to Life!                 

Be Daring

BeDaringIt’s 2015-Yes it is!  I try to take the opportunity every January to think about the upcoming year.  The hopes I have.  The dreams I have.  The opportunities I have.  I picked up this candle from Bath and Body Works over the holidays.  Three things drew me to it.  First, the scent of saffron and redwood.  Second, the glitter and sparkles.  Most importantly, the saying, “Be Daring.” How can I live my life in 2015 by being Daring?

Adventure seeker is certainly a proper description for me.  I’ve bungee jumped off a bridge in Zimbabwe.

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Is 2015 the year I skydive?

As I’ve been thinking about the upcoming year my focus has been more on daring to hope more, love more, and live more fully. I am blessed to live pretty large right now, but there has to be more.  I never really expected to start my blog in 2014, but it just sort of came together one fateful day in May.  Falling in love was not something I expected to happen in 2014, but I certainly hoped for it.  Running my fourth marathon in 2014 isn’t something I expected…ok, I did expect to do that.  But I didn’t expect to have the amazing cheer crew chasing me all 26.2 miles.  I certainly did not expect to participate in the Gay Games 9 in Cleveland, but I met a boy, he suggested I participate, so I did.  That was daring.  That was risky.  That was one of the best, unexpected times of 2014 and of my life.

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What unexpected things do you HOPE happen in 2015?  There is that word that I love so much.  HOPE.  There have been so many times in my life that hope got me through, but I had to dare to hope.  Granted, I’m typically a glass half full type of thinker, but there have moments and times when I’ve thought, “Screw hope, it doesn’t work.”  Yet, if that is my attitude, where does that get me?

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The past is behind you.  You cannot change that.  What are you going to hope for in 2015?

Dare to love more in 2015.  Can I tell you something?  Love is awesome.  Being in love is awesome.  Love can also suck, but when you find yourself in the sucky part of love, what I know for sure is that you’ve got to love more.  Promise me, if you haven’t found love in your heart, keep going; keep loving more until you do.  Share more love with your friends.  Share more love with your family.  And always, always love yourself more.  I dare to love waking up at 5:30 a.m.  Ok, that’s never going to happen, but one can always hope, right?

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Live your best life in 2015.  It’s the beginning of a new year with new opportunities.  What does living life mean to you?  To me, most importantly, is to live my best life on a daily basis.  I think I’m typically successful which means getting up, working, working out, yoga, and spending time with my friends and my boyfriend over dinner, good wine, and conversation and laughs.  That is a full day and I am blessed to spend most of my days that way.  I dare to live more in 2015 and not wish away time.  Time is precious. Although here in Chicago winter is typically cold and snowy, I’m going to try not to wish away winter, and time, until Spring.  I dare to live more.  In 2014 my friend Sarah and I dared to live more by organizing monthly happy hours to get people out of their routines and neighborhoods.  Weekly slow cooker suppers with friends?  Dinner parties to get everyone out of the house in January, February, and March?  Game nights?  More Happy Hours?  TRAVEL!  I am blessed to travel as much as I can and I plan on exploring new places in 2015!  How are you going to dare to live more in 2015?

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So what is all of this hope, love, live, dare stuff?  It is all choice.  Man, each and every one of us has the opportunity each day to hope and love and live and dare to dream, all we have to do is make the choice to DO IT!  Get out there and seek something that is important to you, something that is new or maybe it’s something that you have longed for, just find the hope to continue your journey.

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I feel blessed that I can wake up each day and make the choice to make it a good day or a bad day.  Now as an adult, one of my favorite memories of growing up with my dad is when he used to drop me off at school in 6th – 8th grade.  He would always say, as I was getting out of the car, “Make it a good day, son.”  I would roll my eyes, slam the door and run into school.  What I know now, that I did not understand then, is that I do have a choice each day to make it a good day.  Sure, major unexpected things can happen like bad hair or minor, a stressful phone call, but how we choose to react is within our power.  So I try not to think in terms of “have a good day” rather, “make it a good day.”  And that, I guess, is what this life is all about.  Choosing to hope when you just can’t seem to find faith.  And choosing to love even though love has hurt you before.  Choosing to live each day even when it is zero degrees out and the alarm is blaring at 5:30 a.m.  And most of all, choosing to Be Daring when sometimes your mind thinks you’re foolish.  Get out there to Ride Your Wave In 2015 and seek what you dream of and what you hope for in life.  Be Daring and Say YES to Life!

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My List 2014

Every year at this time I sit down to reflect on the past year. It all started several years ago when I read about Joni Mitchell putting together a CD of songs she liked from the year and songs that meant something to her. Ever since I have done the same.

I just reread My List 2013. Wow, what a dark year 2013 was and what a dark place I was in one year ago.   2013 started off great and 2014 ended in a fantastic way.  The middle 12 months of 2013-2014 weren’t great, but the best news is that I survived!  My List 2013 was pretty much about the darkness I was experiencing at the time.  Songs like “Suitcase” by Emeli Sande-

“If you must kill me then please, please tell me why.” “I can’t stop my heart from leaving through the door.”

And every single lyric from Paloma Faith’s “New York”-

He left me for another lady. She stood so tall and she never slept. He left me for another lady.” “Her name was New York, New York. And she took his heart away oh my. She had poisoned his sweet mind.”

But there was light and release in Nina Simone’s gorgeous “Everything Must Change.

“Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Everyone will change. No one, no one stays the same.”

 “There are not many things in life one can be sure of, except rain comes from the clouds, sun lights up the sky, hummingbirds fly. Winter turns to spring. A wounded heart will heal. Oh, but never much too soon. No one, and nothing goes unchanged.”

“Everything must change.”

 —

In 2014, so much did change. I lost the love of one of my best friends. I got back on my feet and felt the love of friends, old and new. I gained love like I have never known before from a man who says what he feels and means what he says. The love I have felt this year is like no other love I have felt in my life. He is generous and so kind, sassy and so fancy, loving beyond imagine. The second half of 2014 has certainly changed for the better; much much better!

Heaven – Beyoncé

“Heaven couldn’t wait for you, so go on, go home.”

On December 31, 2013 we lost one of the best souls I knew, a legend in our own time, my friend Lesley. Those who knew her can remember her laugh, snarky remarks followed by a cackle, her wit, her generosity, and her love. When you met Lesley you instantly felt her warmth and her care. Lesley was my weeknight dinner buddy, travel roomie, fellow Spartan, and one of my closest confidants. She is so dearly missed.

My favorite Webs story goes like this:

The Ladies (my girlfriends) were sitting around reflecting on weddings.  Pretty much everyone was married now except Lesley and me.  Lesley, “I have to say, I was pretty lucky in brides maid dresses.  You guys picked good ones.”

Amy:  Well Matty is left.

Lesley:  Matty would never make me wear ANYTHING ugly.

I miss you every day Lesley.  Love.

 Jealous – Beyoncé

I just love this song. That is all and that is why it made my list.

Oh and last winter SUCKED! The snow! The cold! The SNOW! There was one night in February that I went over to my friend Dennis’s condo and we intended to have a few drinks, order dinner, then head out to the bars. We had a few drinks. We ordered dinner. Then, we proceeded to sing and dance to Beyonce’s then new album until 2 a.m.  Yes, it was a blast!

“I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer….”

 

Questions – Jon McLaughlin

“She’s asking a question, oh how will it be, after this next one eventually leaves me? How can a man be all that they say? All that I know is that men run away. I think I lose a little bit of me in every man that I see.”

In February I met a guy I liked. We seemed to connect. As I started to date again I was very honest with guys, “If you have any plans of moving away from Chicago, don’t date me.” This particular guy, “Oh no, I just moved back here to be with my family.” When the topic of New York City came up, “Oh I lived there when I was 24. It was great, but I’ve done that.” Six weeks later he moved….to New York City.

April 27, 2014

I had dinner with a friend I met through my ex. She told me he had a new boyfriend. Enough. Enough!

Heart of the Matter – India.Arie

This is a stunning, stunning song.

“I got the call today I didn’t want to hear, but I knew that it would come. An old true friend of ours was talking on the phone. She said you found someone.”

“I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter but I think it’s about forgiveness….forgiveness….even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.

Right to Be Wrong – Joss Stone

Remember Joss Stone from around 2002? She was going to be huge, the first Adele, but she never quite caught on here in the States. This past year I rediscovered my love of Joss and her debut album, Mind, Body, & Soul.

“Got a right to be wrong, so just leave me alone. Got a right to be wrong. I’ve been held down too long. I’ve got to break free so I can finally breathe. Got a right to be wrong. Got to sing my own song. I might be singing out of key, but it sure feels good to me. Got a right to be wrong, so just leave me alone.”

 Grateful – Rita Ora

Life challenges us. We get up each day and realistically have no idea what may be put before us. What I know for sure is that through the last year and a half of learning from life, I’m grateful for the wisdom that has been bestowed on me by life. I would never wish emotional pain on anyone. It is awful and much more painful than physical trauma. At some of my darkest days the summer of 2013 I could barely get out of bed.

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Now on the other side I can see all the experiences in life that I have been afforded because my past didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. I’m in such a better place personally. I have learned so much about my own strength. I am grateful for the life experiences in 2014 for they made me a better ME; A stronger ME; A ME who understands his worth and is not willing to compromise it for anyone.

“But I had to fall, yeah, to rise above it all. I’m grateful for the star, made me appreciate the sun. I’m grateful for the wrong ones; made me appreciate the right ones. I’m grateful for the pain, for everything that made me break. I’m thankful for all my scars, ‘cause they only made my heart grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful, grateful.”

 

Break Free (feat. Zedd) – Ariana Grande

This was the summer of Ariana. She’s been around over a year or so, but never broke into the pop arena like she did this past summer with “Break Free”, “Problems”, and “Bang Bang”. Is she the new pop diva?

“This is the part when I say I don’t wanna, I’m stronger than I’ve been before. This is the part when I break free cause I can’t resist it no more.”

Maps – Maroon 5

Last year’s List was filled with Maroon 5. They have a way of writing the perfect heartbreak anthem. This year I give you just one.

“Maps” is pure pop. Maroon 5 continues to write lyrics to speak to my life. There was a time I did not like them (“This Love” era), but that time is well over. They keep producing fantastic pop music. It’s just catchy and fun to sing!

“But I wonder where were you when I was at my worst, down on my knees.”

I Luh You Papi – Jennifer Lopez

As spring was turning to summer, my spirit had rebounded and this song was such a fun one to sing in the car. I have a co-worker whose maiden name was Pape (pronounced Pa-pi) so it was a fun June song to sing as we were getting ready for summer break and the adventures to be had in July and August.

Here It Comes (feat. Rick Smith) – Emeli Sandé

In late spring I got a Facebook message from a high school friend Dana, who I hadn’t seen in over 19 years. She was going to be in Chicago and wondered if I wanted to get together for a drink. I said of course. As I was riding the train downtown my friend Sarah texted me and said something along the lines of, “I can’t believe you are meeting up with Dana. You haven’t seen her in over 19 years.” My response, “I’m saying yes to life.” Right then and there my blog started in my head, www.sayyestolifeblog.com. I met with Dana and we both quickly went through 19 years of life. Then we settled in on relationships, the ups, the downs, the good , the bad, the joy, the sorrow, the clarity, the uncertainty. Dana encouraged me to turn my #100HappyDays Instagram posts into a blog. All in one 3-hour period of time on a May evening, my blog was started. From creating the title on the train ride down to meet Dana was the final encouragement that I needed. It all started then and there.

A week later Dana sent me this song, “Here It Comes”.

“Here it comes.” **DRUMS** Anthem! As I charge into my new life, a year after heartbreak, a new man emerges.

How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding

Sometime in the spring this song was played as a cool down during yoga.   Yoga was such an inspiration to me in 2014. Each day I practiced brought me closer to understanding and finding peace in my heart. I fell in love with the lyrics and the message at the end of this song. When I started my blog, www.sayyestolifeblog.com, I knew what my description would be.

“How long will I love you?  How long will I need you?  As long as the seasons need to, follow their plan.”

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Summer 2014

Bang Bang(feat. Nicki Minaj & Ariana Grande) – Jessie J

The song of the summer? This song filled the radio stations all summer and fall. It is a trifecta of Jessie, Nicki, and Ariana. The “Moulin Rouge” of 2014!!

Jump (For My Love) – The Pointer Sisters

How could I forget to add this song to My List 2014.  The Pointer Sisters performed at the Opening Ceremonies of the Gay Games in Cleveland.  When “Jump(For My Love) came on the place went wild.  I had a sneaking suspicion that the guy I was standing next to would become the man I would “Jump” for his love.

Here is an excerpt from my August blog post I Beat the Fastest Woman in the 10K-Gay Games.

Cleveland, you rocked.  You accepted us.  You loved us.  You rocked with us.  Thank you.  Forevermore, Thank you!

I’ll remember the people I met along the way.  The German reporter who sat with me and interview me at a basketball game. The speedo clad, tatted up, nipple rings, overly tanned, slightly saggy older man in the swim competition.  Erik, the teacher from Montreal, I sat with on my way to the 10K start line.  We chatted about teaching and kids these days, and how Cleveland rocked the Gay Games.  And there were the two Germans I ran with during the half marathon, Fritz and Michael.  Once I realized they were in my age bracket, I left them in my dust.  Sorry guys, it was nice chatting with you.  There was the girl who waited on us for brunch following my race.  “Did you guys participate?  Did you win?”  My response, “He’s a sliver medalist in volleyball.  Mine is just a participation medal.”  Haha, it’s fine.  She said, “Oh cool.  This is all so cool,” with a huge smile on her face.  Finally, all of the guys I call my new friends.  You know who you are and you are pretty awesome.  It was a joy to participate with you and all the shenanigans.  Thanks for opening your arms so wide to me.

The only thing missing from their GG9 Opening Ceremonies performance was one Pointer Sister(R.I.P.) and those dresses.

I love at 3 minutes when the synthesizers take it up a notch and octave.  I get chills every time.

I Belong to You – Whitney Houston

There was a lot of talk about Whitney Houston in the later part of 2014 as a first ever Live album and an Angela Bassett directed biopic for Lifetime TV were being produced. I never need a reason to listen to Whitney, but I was also falling in love with a boy I met in July. For some reason I was drawn to the I’m Your Baby Tonight album, Whitney’s underrated and undersold third studio album released in November 1990. I listened mostly for “All the Man That I Need” but I rediscovered two fantastic R&B songs, “Lover For Life” and “I Belong to You.”

“All of my life I’ve longed for this, someone who makes me happy.”

“I’ve been to the bottom but I’m back on top. And I’m feelin’ the rhythm as we start to rock.”

What a wonderful feeling it is to love a guy who isn’t afraid to express his love. Bliss.

Didn’t We Almost Have It All – Whitney Houston

Throughout 2013 and 2014’s self-discovery for me, I realized what does NOT make a mutually fulfilling relationship and what DOES make a mutually fulfilling relationship. At the Gay Games in August my boyfriend and I were holding hands and laughing. A group of guys passed us and said, “Did you guys just meet?” Fake angry, we looked at each other and at them, “NO, we’ve known each other a LONG time….six weeks!” When you know, you know. He has brought such joy, fun, consistency, stability, and mutuality to my life. He also allows me to listen to Whitney, A LOT!

One song that we heard in the very early days of our meeting was “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, and we still listen to it often. It might be about a relationship that didn’t work, but the root of the song, the message, is “Once you know what love is, you’ll never let it end.”

 Listen to Whitney’s vibrato and purity. It’s a gift.

In September 1987, I remember waiting by the television in our family room for the live feed of Whitney in concert, singing her new single, “Didn’t we almost have it all. This Saratoga Springs footage became the official video for DWAHIA. Whitney starts out slow and gets to her soul roots at the end with, “Didn’t we, Didn’t we, Didn’t we almost have it all.”

“Cause once you know what love is, you’ll never let it end.”

Home(Live from The Merv Griffin Show) – Whitney Houston

In May 1983 Whitney Houston made her television debut on The Merv Griffin Show. She was 19 years old. This is an incredibly special performance. You can hear Whitney’s purity and undeveloped potential power. Two years later she would release her debut album, Whitney Houston, which went on to score award after award after award between 1985 and 1987.

This is another song played in yoga (to which I shed a few peaceful tears) this fall and I call it “going to church”. Yoga is my church and so is Whitney. Sunday mornings, whether in yoga or simply listening to Whitney, my boyfriend joins me, and I love it. That time is special.

“Time please be my friend and let me start again.”

“Living here in this brand new world might be a fantasy, but it’s taught me to love so it’s real to me.”

“And I’ve learned that we must look inside our hearts to find, yeah we gotta find, a world full of love, like yours like mine, like home.”

Fancy(feat. Charli XCX) – Iggy Azalea

Ok, I’m going to reference yoga again because it played such a huge role in my life in 2013 and 2014. There were nights that I did not want to be home alone so I would take two yoga classes after work. On the other side of that part of my life now, “Fancy” was a fun song played during yoga and a huge hit in 2014. It also describes my boyfriend, “fancy”. Recently at his work holiday party, “Fancy” was played as he made his way to the dance floor with his boss and his wife. “Fancy” is his song!

Night Changes – One Direction

Fine, yes, I still love a good boy band. Although One Direction has only been on my periphery, I saw them perform at the American Music Awards in November. It was so simple. I loved it.

Daily I think about my friend Lesley who passed away in January at age 38. I’m reminded that as we get older, the value of time with good friends and family should be cherished. It might be a special event or a special trip or just Sunday brunch, whatever it is, cherish the time because it can be fleeting.

“Having no regrets is all that she really wants.”

“We’re only getting older baby. And I’ve been thinking about you lately. Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes. Everything that you’ve ever dreamed of, disappearing when you wake up, but there’s nothing to be afraid of even when the night changes.  It will never change me and you.”

Time:Friends

I Wish You Would – Taylor Swift

You are witnessing history here. Yes, I am putting a T Swizz song on My List 2014. This is the very first time she has appeared on any of my lists. She drives me nuts. Her winning awards drives me nuts. However, her new pop album, 1989, is classic pop perfection.   She writes catchy, can’t get out of my head songs. “I Wish You Would” is probably my favorite song from 1989. It’s pure pop and a throwback to music of the time, 1989!

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You and Me – You+Me

Alecia Moore, yes, Pink, has gotten together with some guy to create You+Me. “You and Me” was a free song at Starbucks in November. I got it. I liked it. Here it is.

“You and me were always with each other. Before we knew the other was even there. You and me, we belong together, just like the breath needs the air.”

Chandelier – Sia

SONG OF THE YEAR! (for me anyway). I love this song. There were times during marathon training on long Saturday morning runs I’d sing it to my friend JP. There were times in my car this fall that I would sing it at the top of my lungs as a release and empowerment anthem. There were times I would sing it at the top of my lungs just to sing at the top of my lungs(my vocal strength-the top of my lungs). Needless to say, it is a sing at the top of your lungs song. I even created in my head what I thought were the lyrics and to this day, my lyrics mean more to me and I sing them rather than the real thing.

My lyrics:

“I’m gonna fly like a miracle tonight. Fill my dreams in this life. I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier.”

Actual lyrics:

“I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night. Feel my tears till they dry. I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier.”

Other meaningful lyrics to me, a guy who finds strength and perseverance through song lyrics.   There were times in early 2014 that I was still desperate to let go of something that wasn’t meant to be. There was still holdover from my breakup. But I so desperately wanted to move on. I wanted to find the strength but some nights I couldn’t.

“’Cause I’m just holding on for tonight, help me I’m holding on for tonight. On for tonight.”

But Chandelier is also an anthem of power for life. “I’m gonna swing from a chandelier.” Yes, yes I am and yes I will. Surely, the second half of 2014, finding love and living life with my love has been truly joyful. For anyone who has been in love before you know the feeling. It just makes your lens on life a little bit better, a feeling of swinging on a chandelier. Joy. Happiness. Love.

So I’m going to swing from that chandelier and I’m going to “fly like a miracle tonight” and I’m going to “live my dreams in this life.”

Wrapped In Love

“The strength of a man isn’t seen in the power of his arms.  It’s seen in the love with which he embraces you.”

This past weekend I ran my fourth marathon(3rd Chicago)in three years.  Each and every marathon I have completed has been a different experience.  This past weekend I felt very much wrapped in love.  The marathon route can be so fast and so looooong at times, but it is never a place I feel alone.  The strength of a “man” as in “mankind” is shown with love and the embrace of people you know, people you love and who love you, training partners, and total strangers.

A post about love and embracing cannot go on without acknowledging those who could not necessarily come out to cheer me on, rather they supported me by donating to the Team to End AIDS/T2/AIDS Foundation of Chicago.  WOW!  At last count, I raised $2522.41.  All of those people showed love and support by digging into their pockets and making a donation.  I promise while I was running knowing that I had support all over the country did mean the world to me.

Look what your donations help do:

It’s not too late to make a donation either.  Reach into your pocket and help support.  Help change the story!

http://events.aidschicago.org/site/TR/T2/T2?px=1132260&pg=personal&fr_id=1132

“You’re lookin’ strong Matty and the hair still looks great too.”

Chicago Marathon 2014

I had a moment with a total stranger.  It was a five second friendship, but he totally understood me.  He got me and my hair!!  Seriously, the fan support for the Chicago Marathon is next to none.  Of course there are 1.7 million spectators out there, most of whom are looking for their loved one, their friend, their co-worker, but there are also people who are just out to cheer and support.  It is incredible the love and support for humankind that I feel while running the marathon.  I always put my name on my shirt and it never fails that hundreds of people will shout it out, “Good work Matty!”  “Way to go Matty.” “Looking good Matty.”  People ask, “What do you do/think about for almost four hours?  I watch the joy on spectator’s faces when they see their loved one.  I get chills when I see runners turn around to give a hug to his friends.  I listen for shrieks of elation as kids see their mom running strong.  I look for the love that is shared for 26.2 miles.  There are very few times in life that love is just shared without expectation.  Running the marathon time and time again proves to me that it is possible.  It is possible that humans will come out and support other humans, just because.  Just because running 26.2 miles is f***ing amazing and hard and deserves to be cheered on.  But also just because it feels good to support other humans doing something they love or running in honor of someone or something, or just supporting people who get this crazy idea that they are going to beat Oprah’s time(4:29:15).

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I continue to run because it is the single thing in life that has brought me to a place of understanding what it feels like to be part of the team.  Growing up I wasn’t an athlete.  I wasn’t part of a team.  Sure, I marched in band and sang in musicals, but nothing ever felt like a team until I started running.  After my first marathon I began to get that feeling.  Running on the Lake Shore path in Chicago I’d get a head nod here or a smile there from other runners.  They understood what I was doing and I understood them, especially on those super hot days or cold days or rainy days when only us crazy runners go out.  But not until last year did I truly understand what it is like to be part of a team.  I joined the Team to Ends AIDS purely for two reasons:  1.  To get a BIB for the New York City marathon and 2. To focus my energies on something good in midst of a break-up.  Saturday after Saturday I would get up at 5 a.m. and head to the lake for a run.  I’d meet my teammates, chitchat, and get to running.  Week after week I would run with about the same crew as we were the same pace. Week after week we would chat about work, weekend plans, pains of running, fundraising, etc.  Then, one Saturday as we got ready to run, one of my pace group leaders stood to give a talk.  He raised his hand high with a green wristband acknowledging (+) his positive status.  Then a few more guys came up and got wristbands.  As I looked around, five of my 9 pace group running mates were HIV positive.  No longer did I just join T2 to get into the NYC marathon, I was part of something much bigger.  I was raising money and raising awareness for the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  From that moment on, when I would go out running with my T2 shirt on and I’d hear other people on the path, “Go T2”, “Looking good T2,” I finally felt what it is like to be part of a team.  I finally had that feeling that I so longed to have, that camaraderie that teammates share.  I was part of a team that was raising money to help some of the very men I was running with week after week.

I run because it reminds me that I’m alive and that we don’t always know what the person next to us is going through on a daily basis, but they keep going, and I keep going because it brings me to life.

This past Sunday marked my second best time in a marathon, 3 hours, 50 minutes, 38 seconds.  It’s an incredible time for me, not my best, but substantial nonetheless.  When I tell people I was disappointed in my time, their mouths drop.  Fine, fine, it is sub four hours and I will take it.  What is more powerful than anything else is that I finished the race and kept that time.  Everything was set-up to be perfect.  The weather was in the low 50s, I trained since May, I took in fluids like I normally do and nutrition like normal too.  At 13.1 miles I was at an 8:01 pace.  At mile 15 I was at and 8:11 pace.  For the first 17 miles I was well under my goal pace of 8:22/mile.  After 18 miles, my legs started to get tired.  Mile 19, my least favorite, I was sore.  At mile 22 I saw the Team to End AIDS cheer bus.  That gave me umph to keep going.  Coach Chris caught up to me at mile 23.  This is when my legs started to feel really tired and crampy, though nothing significant.  With Coach Chris’s encouragement I kept running.  When I’d try to stop and walk, he’d give encouragement.  I made it to 40K where I saw all of my cheer crew together screaming, waving signs.  I blew them a kiss.

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There is no way I could move to the side of the road at that point.  I had to keep moving forward.  What seemed like an hour was really just a few minutes.  I just wanted to be done.  I crossed the finish line.  DONE!

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I didn’t meet my goal of under 3 hour 40 minutes, but it was still my second best race.  Just a minute after finishing my legs seized up at the same time.  The worst charlie horses I have ever experience hit my calves.  My legs went into rigamortis.  I screamed for Coach Chris.  He finally heard me and came back.  He dumped salt into my hand.  I downed that and a banana.  Along with a medic, he helped me hobble a little.  Five minutes later the cramps subsided.  Five minutes after that the right leg seized again.  Three minutes after that the left leg seized.  Finally after limping for 30 minutes I was at a bench surrounded by Gatorade, water, bananas and Coach Chris.  He stuck with me when I know he wanted to greet others who had finished.  He walked with me for another 20 minutes until we found my boyfriend.  Coach Chris is my hero!  I certainly would have finished the race, but not under four hours if he had not stuck with me.  I choked back tears as he helped me, not because of the severe pain, but because he was there helping me and caring about me as a fellow runner and human.

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Who wouldn’t keep running to see what signs would be pulled out next?  I honestly had the best cheer crew ever.  They chased me on bike and in car.  Sarah and Patrick made the funniest signs and hustled to three different locations on the marathon route.  Two of my favorites:

“If marathons were easy they’d be called your mother.”

“It may be long and hard but Matty can take it!”

My friend Dave drove Kurt, Matt, and Artur around to two different locations.  When I woke up marathon morning, I saw this sign on the table, Love and Whitney.

KurtPoster

It takes a special boyfriend who cares to spend hours making a sign with Whitney Houston lyrics on it.   I feel loved.  I feel wrapped in love by my boyfriend, my cheer crew, my coaches, my family, and all of the people who have donated to the Team to End AIDS/AIDS Foundation of Chicago.  On the marathon path it can get long out there but my cheer crew gave me such strength and energy, especially at 40K when I was tiiiiiirrrrrrrrrreeedd and just wanted to be done.  Their love of me gave the extra gusto I needed to make it to the end.  The cheering crowds up Michigan Ave. and rounding the corner at Roosevelt gave me the push I needed to step foot across the line.  26.2 miles, yes that is an accomplishment and with dedication I have trained my body to complete it.  But I feel most accomplished in life because I am able to surround myself with some of the most amazing and loving people.  Some I know from high school and some I’ve more recently met.  What made me feel better than anything else on Sunday was that I felt wrapped in love by people I know and by total strangers.  When you find love, whether of a friend or lover, cherish it.  It keeps us going.

“‘Cause once you know what love is, you’ll never let it end.”

Back in 2011 I set out to run a marathon for one of my milestone birthdays and to check that off my bucket list.  Little did I know, I would be up to four marathons (3 under 4 hours) and more than anything, that I would inspire others to run.

i-run-message

Back in high school I hated running.  Hated it!  I could barely run a mile, or more so, had little desire.  After my first marathon in 2011, I wanted to do it again and again and again.  Last year I ran Chicago and two weeks later New York City.  Since all of this running, several people from my past have messaged me to let me know that I inspired them to start running.  Some have kept to the 5 K race while another, Leah, reached out to me and I encouraged her to train and run one.  Just as it got me through a rough spot in my life, it did her too.  Now she is set to run TWO marathons within 2 or 3 weeks this fall. I commend her and honor her here.  She is inspirational.  And she’s a running rockstar mom.  Go get that course and run your heart out Leah!!  I am with you in spirit.  If you want a few signs, I have some great ones you can borrow!!

InnerKingdom

So what is this long blog post all about?  Running?  No.  The marathon?  Not really.  Signs of encouragement?  So awesome, but no. It’s about l-o-v-e.  It’s about humans supporting humans; strangers supporting strangers.  This blog post is about getting out there in life and keeping going even when it’s hard.  It’s about putting one foot in front of the other and why you do that is because of love.  You do it because people love you and YOU LOVE YOURSELF.  You are important to a lover, or a friend, or a niece or nephew or family member.  If you’re really lucky you have all of the above and even if you don’t, just know that somewhere out there, whether it’s on a marathon course or just walking the streets of your town, someone you don’t know, a total stranger, supports you.  And, if you are very lucky in life, you are surrounded by love always.  Look around, it is there.  Wrap yourself in love.

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