Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good Deed #13: Forgiveness

This Lenten season I gave up the consumption of alcohol. In past years I have done a poor job at sacrificing things and routinely have forgotten about not eating meat on Fridays. With that in mind, I knew that this year would be difficult given my track record. Fortunately, with the help of my girlfriend (who gave up fried foods), we have been able to avoid those things that tempt us and in a sense have felt closer to the Holy season.

If Lent is about prayer and fasting, then it is as much about repentance as well. Before I can welcome home the One who died on a cross and forgive my sins, I know that I have to welcome back those in my life that I have not forgiven myself. Extending my hand to someone who has given me reason to question their trust and integrity has proven a tough challenge to me and just because it's Lent does not make it any easier. As I think about the circumstances that have led to me shutting them out of my life, I know that this is not the way that Jesus Christ would have wanted it.

People are given second chances here on earth and that is courtesy of our maker. It's not my decision to determine who or what deserves another try, it's just my duty to forgive, and that I can do.

In the past I would just assume shut someone out who had lied or betrayed me. But with the spirit of Lent upon me I know that what I should really be doing is reaching out.

Many of us ask our God for forgiveness for our mishaps and past mistakes. We do so with embarrassment and humility. It takes courage for us to identify what we have done wrong and what areas we need to improve on, but probably more so when we confess this to the ones that we love here on earth. Admittedly, I have not been the best Brother (to my immediate family or my fellow neighbors), I've taken more than I given and I'm stubborn to a tragic fault. This Lent I'm confessing this all to my God and to those who may read this blog. I want others to know that while I'm offering forgiveness, I'm asking for it too.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Good Deed #12: Getting the Big Picture

Growing up my parents were notorious for never having a camera on them during big moments in my life. High School/College graduation, games, family reunions, holidays? These are all moments in my life that if not for my Aunt and Sister, there would virtually be no documentation of the events. The few times when they did have a camera, my Mother whose photographic nickname ought to be the "guillotine" for cutting out our heads in pictures, was always too afraid to take our pictures for that very reason.

As I grew up I was very cognizant that my family had relied on our collective memories to serve as the lasting scrapbook. I decided some time ago that I didn't want this same fate and thus I have taken pictures of most of my experiences since I have left home. With digital technology I don't have to worry about film and I just have file folders filled with pictures. Still, a crash to my computer could easily wipe all of my photo libraries (I know I need to back them up) and I'd be without anything.

As I thought about how important photographs are to me, I began to think about the two teams that I coached this past year (football and basketball). The pictures that I took of them with my camera are not for me. They are of them and for them. I knew that I had to disseminate them so that they could reminisce like I had. Today I sent both teams a team photo that I had taken during one of the last games of both of the seasons. Hopefully, they will look back on their youth as fondly as I did mine with or without pictures.

Good Deed #11: Keeping the Pace

Several years ago I was handed a heavy dose of reality. After graduating college I was quickly humbled by my peers who seemed to possess an infinite amount of talents beyond my own. As I searched for those special ingredients that my teachers had informed me that I had been blessed with, I began to see that running was something that had come as naturally to me as writing this blog. It was first through the observance of others that this "skill" was noticed and through their insistence, I learned to accept it, albeit reluctantly.

Throughout this blog, you will see that a lot of the "good deeds" that I do involve running. I will have you know that it wasn't until 3.5 years ago that I ran over a mile at a time. I just never liked doing it. However, I learned that I was good at it and through my quest to make a difference I have found that my legs can help contribute to a lot of causes (beyond my own). People who see me run assume that I love to do it, when in fact, I couldn't see a more useless waste of time. What I enjoy about running is the relationship it has with athletics and competition. Since I have always fashioned myself as an athlete, I think about running in the same terms as I did when I competed. That is to say, I used to play for my teams to win. Now, I run to make a statement. This year I will log a lot of miles on my feet. In many cases I'll probably run the same loops, trails and dimly lit streets listening to "Journey and Eminem" on my iPod more than I care to acknowledge right now. In the back of my mind though I can accept that I ran for a purpose and that my motivation is to contribute in whatever means I can. Step by step, stride by stride and race by race.

On Tuesday my boss was taking his semi-annual PT test. He had worked very hard at trying to slim down in the previous months so that he was prepared. When he asked me if I would pace him, I said yes right away since it's easy and I don't have to ice my knees after 10+ miles (not yet) and I am pretty good at it. The only thing that running cuts into is time. And as I've said before, it is the time that makes the biggest difference in other people's lives.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good Deed #10: Going the Extra Mile

This past Tuesday I went to the Community Center on base to give blood for the Red Cross. It turned out that since I had been to the Mayan Ruins where a suspected case of Malaria still exists that I was disqualified from giving blood for one year. As you can imagine I was fairly disappointed and thought that I had missed an opportunity to do something for others that day. Later that evening I received an invitation from an old friend of mine requesting that I help sponsor his Boston Marathon run for a charity called "Horizons for Homeless Children," which benefits homeless children back in Massachusetts.

Although discouraged from earlier in the day I realized that I had an opportunity to do help someone else fulfill their goal. As I thought about it, I decided to make my donation tonight despite my feeling that money donations alone are somewhat disingenuous. I came to accept the idea that fairly soon I too will be going to call on my friends and family to make donations on my behalf and that I believe their thoughtfulness in that act of giving will be quite selfless.

My friend inspired me to register early for the AF Marathon along with the Marine Corps Half Marathon in May. Through helping others I found that I am indeed helping myself. Seeing that site which was dedicated to my friend's charity inspired me to put my money where my mouth is and take that first step towards the 26.2 which I plan on running. Join me and sign up for the AF Marathon on September 19th in Dayton Ohio or give to my friend's charity for his race on April 19th in Boston.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Good Deed #9: Walking for Cancer

In the middle of the Caribbean it was a hard week to relax completely knowing that my promise of doing a good deed was looming over my head like a rain cloud. While I was excited to kick back and enjoy the fruits of life with my girlfriend, I couldn't help but think of what I could be doing to make a difference. And although we were generous with our tips and even helped the local economies of Cozumel, Grand Caymen and Ocho Rios, I don't think that my consumerism would quite qualify for a good deed.

Since I started this project the one thing that I've learned from doing this project is that when you get an opportunity to do something for other people, JUST DO IT! And so it was a no brainer for me when I saw on our itinerary that Carnival Cruise lines was sponsoring a walk for breast cancer on its top deck 1,500 miles from our US port in Miami. Before our mile walk we were told that by 2020 everyone in America will know someone either family, friends or co-workers with breast cancer. As I heard those words and looked around at the half dozen breast cancer survivors around me, I thought of my own family and my Grandmother who I never knew who lost her life to breast cancer when my Mother was only 14.

No words that I type can describe how much more work must be done to cure this disease. I'll just leave you with a few figures:

-500,000 Americans will die of Cancer this year (40,000 from Breast Cancer)
-1,500 Americans die of Cancer each day
-1 in 8 women (12%) will develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime
-Cancer will surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death this year
-Approximately 200,000 cases of invasive Breast Cancer will be diagnosed this year
-The American Cancer Society estimates that 25-30% of all Cancer deaths could be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment

*There are 2.5 million Breast Cancer survivors in the US today!