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Hello Lyme

Borrelia burgdorferi

I have Lyme Disease. Microscopic spirals of bacteria are burrowing and digging around inside of me – having a party.

For the longest time I ignored urging by family and friends to get tested for Lyme. I figured it was just bad allergies, a crappy immune system, or maybe mono. But I didn’t get better. Pills, x-rays, doctors, tests, vitamins, sun, adjustments, acupuncture, massage, diet, exercise, sleep, positive thinking, ice baths, even a tonsillectomy.

Then, finally, a positive blood test. I have Lyme.

It’s a relief to have an answer, although my first response was one of anger.

One and a half years of symptoms. Time lost. Weeks and even months that I can barely remember because of the Lyme-induced “brain-fog.” Thousands of dollars spent treating symptoms, while entirely missing the root cause. Twenty-four years old, and living at home like a hermit – with anxiety and depression that I was unable to explain.

Once upon a time I was a fire fighter, I took flying lessons, I traveled to foreign countries by myself, I had friends. Now I can barely get myself to go anywhere. A couple hours on my feet and I’m absolutely drained. One of the neurological symptoms is a “tippy” feeling. On my worse days it scares me just trying to drive to the store.

I know there is a reason behind this. A lesson. Before those mysterious first symptoms began, my life was on a collision course. I figure that previous trajectory would have put the collision about 20 years farther out. Instead, Lyme stepped in early and hit me across the head with a 2 by 4. When I beat this, I know I will be grateful for all that it has taught me about living and my health.

For those that I’ve ignored or treated poorly over these last several years, I’m sorry. Even with all the Lyme-induced symptoms, I’m still me. Our characters show best when we are weak and brought low. What I know now is that my character has been weak, and my prayer is that it will be made stronger through this time.

I will accept where my health is now, but I hope and plan to return to “100%.”

God, give me the strength needed to overcome what faces me now, and to rekindle my spirit of hope and possibility for my future. There are adventures out there just waiting for me, and Lyme isn’t invited.

It’s time to fight.

My Perfect Day: Family

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sunrise

I wake up. My eyes focusing on the ceiling above the bed. For a couple seconds the fog of sleep clings to me, then I think of the day ahead and smile wide. My arms reach up above my head as I execute a big stretch, then I roll to my left. I brush soft hair back from the face of the woman sleeping next to me, then I give her cheek a kiss. Her mouth twitches upwards in the start of her own smile, but she remains sleeping.

I roll back to my left and sit upright, with my hands pressed against the mattress. My head is bowed for a moment in prayer. Lord, give me your strength. Help me to give my all today. To think the right thoughts, say the proper things, to remember why I’m here. Guide my steps and keep me walking the right path. Thank you for all the amazing blessings you’ve given me. Amen.

I stand up and head to the bathroom. Several large glasses of water and one icy cold shower later I was am wide awake and ready for the day. I start some coffee, then grabbed my shoes and my Bible. Outside it is cool, but not too cold. The sun is still down below the hills. I start out at a brisk pace, heading up to the top of the hill. There I sit down at the base of a large tree, facing the direction of sunrise, and start to read.

It gets brighter, and I look up to watch the sunrise. What a beautiful day.

I walk around my property a little longer, getting my thoughts in order for the day, and thinking of the many projects I still had to get down around the place. Down at the bottom of the hill I can see my house, nestled comfortably into the green landscape. Well constructed, well taken care off, and radiating an inviting aura of hospitality. Just looking at the place, and thinking of the memories I am making there, is enough to make me smile.

Back inside I grab a cup of coffee and sit down to start on my first project of the day. A book that I’d been working at for a long time. It is finally coming together, and I’m getting close to completing it now. For the next several hours I write, completely absorbed in the task at hand and not noticing the time passing.

I finally sit back, and sigh contentedly. Done. Then I feel warm hands settle onto my shoulders.

“Good Morning, babe.” Says my beautiful wife, kissing my cheek and smiling. “How is the writing going?”

I stand and put my arms around her waist. “I finished it.”

She smiles up at me. “I’m so proud of you. You’ve been working so hard on this book.”

She gets quiet for a moment. “I have something to tell you.”

My heart jumps and it must have shown on my face.

“Silly.” She says, laughing at the look on my face. “It’s not something bad! It’s something amazing! We’re having another baby.”

I stand there absorbing the news. I am wearing a huge, silly grin, and at the same time tears are streaming down my face. “I’m so happy. So blessed. I love you.”

The rest of the day is spent with my gorgeous, pregnant wife and my beautiful toddlers. One boy, and one girl. I am so blessed.

Now it’s your turn. Think about what would be your perfect day. Write it down! Remember, if you don’t know what you want then you’ll never know when you have it.

 

Destination Unknown

I interviewed when I was seventeen years old. A few months later I was playing hero on a fire engine. Goal decided and target acquired. For the next several years I studied and learned, applying myself to the career track of a fire fighter. Somewhere along the way my focus started to wander. Trying to renew the vigor and excitement I started with, I applied for a law enforcement job. The next two years were spent working for the sheriff’s department. I’ve since moved on to working as a software tester. Through all these changes I’ve struggled with finding my identity. What ties it all together? As I move from place to place, what am I striving for and what should I be preparing for? In every job I’ve held I have been easily replaceable. How can I change that and find a place where I’m doing the most important thing I can and where I’d be the most difficult to replace?

I want my life to be one of those connect the dot pictures. With each point along the way drawing my life’s story towards more completeness.

I’ve been in a place where I lost hope and I know that losing it is a very dangerous thing indeed. Things close in around you. Dreaming big starts to feel, and even become, impossible. All the things I’d done didn’t feel like they were part of something bigger.

I didn’t have a future vision and without a vision you will leave no legacy.

How can I chart a proper course and know my destination?

A. Be Honest

Wake up each day and look in the bathroom mirror, asking the person who stares back where they stand in God’s eyes. Until you can start to happily and honestly answer that question then your growth will be stunted. You will work against yourself with every step you take.

Be honest to both yourself and to others. It’s all the little, seemingly inconsequential lies we tell ourselves that always seem to eat at our souls. Nibbling away slowing. Almost unnoticed until it’s too late. I didn’t really speak that harshly, no need to reconcile. I don’t eat bad at all. My habits don’t control me. I don’t need to ask forgiveness for THAT….

It’s easy to dismiss it as something other than lying. Often it is just a “pushing to the back of the mind” of certain thoughts and guilt. Trying to cover what needs uncovering. But no endless supply of positive thoughts or uplifting mantras will keep the skeletons buried. Slowly, persistently, they rise to the surface.

Practice complete honesty. Admit what is broken. Start with honesty to yourself, then live it out with the honesty you give to others. That is the first step to fixing those things and moving on.

B. Find Your Vision

Gary North, author and creator of garynorth.com has an excellent tool for finding your life’s vision. You imagine yourself at your own retirement party. In every detail you think of the speech you want to give to those who have gathered. Who do you want to be there, cheering for you and the life you’ve led? What are you the most excited for having accomplished during your life?

Authors use this technique to write novels all the time. They ask themselves, How does it all end? Then they fill all the pages in between the beginning and that ending. Use the same thing in your life. It won’t make your life “boring.” You may know the ending, but all the pages in between are blank and full of adventure. It will bring both motivation AND peace when you know where you want to end up. You know what you’re working towards, so you can start to develop the battle plan, and you can dream up all the tactics you need to follow to reach that final destination and victory.

A lot of the trivial “bucket list” items will lose value as you develop this future vision of where you are headed. We run around frantically, disjointedly racking up accomplishments to wow others with, instead of buckling down and doing the work that will actually bring us more in line with our Calling.

A heavy burden is lifted from your shoulders when you have a plan. Know where you are headed and the present suddenly becomes much more exciting and full of opportunity.

I’m working on my future vision. Why don’t you develop a vision for your life as well?

Never Work Out Alone

Several years ago I read a fascinating book called Never Eat Alone by the world-class networker Keith Ferrazzi. It was a fun and educational book. It explained exactly how you can develop more, and better, relationships in your life. I should probably read it again and start following its advice! Anyways, I brought that up because I pretty much blatantly stole Keith’s book title and gave it a little twist to come up with my post title. Thanks, Keith!

This morning I was driving back from my last private CrossFit session with CrossFit Cameron Park, and the inspiration to write on this topic of working out hit me, in a figurative fashion.

Crossfit has become a big movement in the gym world over the last several years. It has seen explosive growth in the number of people grabbing memberships and joining gyms. In 2005 there were 18 CrossFit gyms, and just last year that number had reached something near 1,700! What exactly is it that people find so fascinating about a workout style where you push yourself so hard you feel like puking? Some people even pass that point and actually lose their lunch. Seriously. I’ve been in a CrossFit gym where they had a designated 5-gallon “barf bucket.” And people keep returning with a smile!

I honestly believe that people are so in love with CrossFit because it embodies a spirit of community. Even on days when I would be crushed physically by the workout, I was always more positive and happy when I left. I attribute that to the stellar level of teamwork, openness, and positivity that was shared with fellow CrossFitters.

Sometimes I see a lonely runner, or a single bicyclist. My heart goes out to them. Maybe they are getting in really, really good-looking shape, but they are skipping out on an experience of bonding that can be absolutely amazing and also very humbling.

So now that I’m back to my home gym and can’t make it in to the CrossFit “box” every week, what am I gonna do to keep from being a lonely figure out on the road and under the barbell? Thankfully, with five brothers and several friends who like to stay active, I’m looking to be in pretty good shape. Again, figuratively, but hopefully also literally!

Working out with another person can teach you so much more about yourself. When the workout gets hard, and the going gets steep, you start to fray a little around the emotional edges. You let your emotional defenses down a little once the physical hurting starts. But in the end, those are the times when you learn the most about one another and have a chance to bond. So you get to know each other a little better AND you’ve accomplished something together. You’ll be amazed how much more fun and play is present, even in the hard moments, when you work out with a friend.

Next time you work out find a friend to join you. It might even keep you safe. A couple weeks ago I was working out with my brother. Encouraging him as he started into a squat with the barbell. Something went wrong. He couldn’t recover and started to collapse underneath the bar. I rushed up and lifted it off as quickly as I could. Boy, was he thankful I was there!

Stay safe and have more fun next time you work out. Find somebody to tag along. Or even turn it into a group thing. Accountability for everyone and a fostering of community. Never work out alone!

A Quote for Today and Tomorrow!

I hope you’ve been enjoying the posts I’ve been writing. I’ll just give you a short quote to think on today, but I’m excited to be working on some bigger things to bring to the blog soon!

~Ben

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.”
~ Charles Spurgeon

Stop Wasting Your Thoughts on the Wrong Things

I thought about it for weeks. It probably occupied my thoughts a dozen times a day. Still, it sat undone.

Over forty pages to complete for the law enforcement agency’s background check. That’s a lot of work! I thought. Often I even stressed myself out thinking about all the details I needed to collect to complete the packet.

Closer and closer the deadline creeped.

Finally, the deadline was two days away. I couldn’t procrastinate on this project any longer. I picked up the sheaf of papers and my phone. Only 5 hours later I’d completed the entire packet, sealed it up, and shipped it out.

“I do my best work when the pressure is on.” It’s a common refrain among procrastinators. I have guiltily followed that philosphy for years. I think of what needs doing, then spend my time doing fancy mathematical calculations in my head. Just exactly how long can I keep putting it off?

I would become a flesh and blood version of the statue of The Thinker. Chin in hand and resigned to being frozen in inaction. Contemplating what needs doing and never taking action.

I like to think about working out. I like to think about writing. I like to think about getting out of bed. It’s so easy and seemingly rewarding to think of doing while never getting around to the actual DOING part.

How productive could a day be if you stopped just thinking about what needs to be done and actually accomplished it instead?

Do it today.

How to Accomplish Anything

First, pick what it is you want to accomplish. Set your sights high and dream big.

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Only you can decide what goal should demand your focus. But make sure that it’s a grand and worthy one.

Second, plan where you’re going. I know I wrote recently about “fooling” yourself into taking action. Getting moving before your mind can say no. That is a useful trick for gaining quick momentum, but momentum is lost without a plan from which you can chart your progress. Weigh, chart, detail, and photograph your progress. Know exactly where you are starting from and journal the journey till the end.

I don’t actually journal currently (beyond this blog!), but I do keep little papers and notebooks that let me know exactly where I am with current projects. From my writing projects, to my blog project, my workout project, my eating plan, and my educational objectives, I track every detail.

Keep track.

Third, take action! You will go strong for a week. Then you will waver slightly. Keep pushing! Everything seems to be working against you. Other momentary demands clamor for your time. Crises arise. You become demotivated. Stuck.

Push on.

It’s so hard to keep focused. You’re not making progress. Friends tell you that you are wasting your time.

Don’t stop.

You break down emotionally. Exhausted. It’s too much work to continue!

Just a little farther.

Your lungs are fit to burst. Every muscle in your body is crying for oxygen. Burning. It feels like your footsteps should be lighting on fire.

Keep going!

The end is in sight. You suddenly find a reserve of strength. Everything comes together and you reach the end. Your goal is complete!

All of a sudden it doesn’t feel as amazing as you thought it would. You might feel slightly let down and disappointed.

It’s time to plan the next goal.

Keep striving. Keep pushing. Use every desire and every goal to please God and advance His Kingdom. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

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