There’s a point somewhere in here, I think…

A man in his late 50s or early 60s jogged past me tonight as I walked along the familiar lakeside path.  He had a ratty white t-shirt tucked into teal shorts, held up by a brown belt.  His baseball cap had a crooked brim and over his ears were old school Sony radio headphones
He hummed along to whatever music was playing in his ears and danced as he jogged.  He wasn’t going very fast and would often stop to overlook the lake or smile at people who passed by.  His sporadic pace ended up matching my steady speed, so he unintentionally accompanied me throughout most of my miles.  Runners dodged around him, giving him odd looks or getting irritated that he was all over the place.  Some people giggled to each other as they walked past him in the other direction. 
There was something oddly inspiring about him.  He was just so happy
I thought a lot about him as I ran errands after my walk.  Why does happiness elude so many of us?
Let’s be honest, the world is pretty messed up.  The evening news is enough to make you want to crawl into bed and never leave.   How can we possibly find happiness in this place?
I know I’m not the only one who wonders this.  And happiness means different things to each of us. 
I’ve lived my life under the assumption that absolutely anything is possible if you want it bad enough and that the only way to be happy is to go after it, no matter what.  Even in my darkest period where I felt perpetually trapped in an overweight body, when I hid away from the world… I believed it.  I still do.  To me, it isn’t just something high school counselors say at career day.  It’s a way of life that I hold in even higher regard today.
Maybe that’s why I felt connected to that older man who was dance-jogging around the lake tonight.  (Dance-jogging is bound to be the next big workout craze and I call the rights to it.  You read it here first.)  He didn’t care what anyone thought; he was just out there having fun and living his life the way he wanted to. 
I’ve done a lot of things that people have thought are crazy or impossible; ranging from chasing after a radio career, to attempting to write a book, to losing a hundred pounds, to writing music.   All of these were or are among things that I find incredibly scary.  But then again, isn’t that what makes them worthwhile?  Who cares if I look like an idiot to some?  Who cares if I fail?  Life is about taking a flying leap and doing what makes us happy.
I’m extremely motivated by people and things that inspire me.  That’s what makes me happy.  Last night I had the opportunity to meet someone whose songwriting I’ve admired for a long time and I got pretty excited about it.  Not in front of her, mind you.  (And to be clear, not in the same way I got excited about Joey McIntire coming to the radio station when I was a producer.)  But in this wow-your-music-got-me-through-some-tough-shit-and-it’s-pretty-fucking-awesome-to-meet-you kind of way.
The thing is, though, while I do find creative inspiration in a few “celebrities” (I use that term loosely, because the writers who I’m drawn to aren’t exactly mainstream), where I find my true inspiration for life is in the people who I walk through this world with — my family and friends.  And random guys who dance-jog.

Fake it til you make it. You read that right.

The blue rubber ball came rolling towards home plate, where I stood awaiting its arrival.  With a few quick steps, I kicked it has hard as I could and turned towards first base.  I dug my feet into the dirt and ran hard, trying to beat the throw. 
As I ran, I felt my right quad strain. 
Son of a bitch, I thought as I stood on the base.    The next kicker was out number three on a pop fly to second and I limped my way to the outfield.
“Is your leg ok?” asked one of my teammates.
“I’m cool,” I replied with a smile.  I wasn’t cool.
Somehow I managed to finish the scrimmage on Sunday night, but definitely wasn’t playing well. 
The following morning I winced as I climbed out of bed.  It felt like someone was holding onto my muscle, squeezing tight with no intention of letting it go. 
No, no, no, I thought.  I’ve been forced to forgo the majority of upper body workouts for months, thanks to a tear in my rotator.  My legs are all I’ve got and I was determined not to make it worse.

After work on Monday night, I drove to my favorite park in the city.  I stepped onto the pavement, took a deep breath and made long strides, stretching my legs as far as I could as I made my way through the three miles around the lake.  I felt my muscles loosen and I could tell that while I had to be cautious, this was a salvageable situation if I didn’t push it too hard. 

I woke up today, feeling looser, still with a slight twinge.  I knew I made the right decision by taking it easy last night and made myself skip my work out tonight to be safe.  What’s surprising, is that NOT exercising was really hard for me to do.  Or not do.  Or… whatever. 
My point is that weight loss and fitness are extremely mental.   (Thank you Captain Obvious!  You’re welcome.)   I thought it would get easier as I crept closer to my goal weight.  But as I enter the home stretch, with 15-20 more pounds to go, I’ve hit a wall of frustration.  I’ve been stuck at the same weight for three weeks and it’s been a struggle to keep focused.  My confidence is shaken and I feel frozen, terrified of heading back in the wrong direction. 
What I’ve learned is that the mental part of this process doesn’t “end.”  I can look at before and after pictures while sitting here in size small shorts… yet when I look in the mirror I still see the fat girl I was.  I look her in the eyes and try and find that fire she had to push herself harder than she ever thought she could go.  I try to rediscover that unwavering determination, that heart. 
Until then, I push forward to keep from falling down... trusting that I’m one good work out away from finding that resolve again. 
Be well, friends. 

So there’s this…

I haven’t had much direction for this blog… and I still don’t.  Not really.  But I think I want it to just be about seeing inspiration in every day things and situations… an outlet to just write… about nothing in particular.  More on that in a minute.

In the eighth grade, I was in an English class with one of the most difficult teachers in our school.  Maybe even in our entire district.  He was a gray-haired, thin man in his sixties and my classmates hated him.  They called him mean, but really, he was just bluntly honest, which a lot of kids didn’t deal well with.
Secretly, he became one of my favorite teachers becausehe was so tough.   His feedback and criticism made me a better student.  Being the awkward and shy kid I was, I never was one to raise my hand in class because I was fearful of what my classmates would think. He really only knew me through my writing.

At the end of that semester, I asked that teacher to sign my yearbook.  While that book is long gone, I will never, ever forget what he wrote.

“You have a talent. Still waters run deep.”

Part of me wishes I had believed him back then (I’m not fully confident I believe him now).  But maybe I would have taken writing more seriously and done something with it.  Then again, I’m one who believes wholeheartedly in the cliché that everything happens for a reason.

Now that I’m comfortably in my thirties, after going through a really difficult decade (more difficult than most people probably realize) I’m finally starting to see the world through clear eyes.  I feel inspired.  And I’m writing a book. 

This chick is crazy!  Yeah, you’re probably right.  But the thing is, I don’t have any grand delusions of getting anything published.  I just want to see if I can do it. 

The Awkward Dancer has been, and will continue to be, an important part of this project.  This is where I sit on the shoreline, writing poorly composed noise, mustering up the courage to jump into the deeper water and see if there’s anything there worth writing down.

Thanks for humoring me.