Mile Swim

When I was younger, I was a boyscout. I’d go to camp every summer for a week and enjoy the time in nature and doing different activities like shooting rifles, swimming, learning new skills, and meeting new people. I remember one experience that I will never forget because it was the breaking point of me realizing that putting my mind to it, I can do anything I want.

One summer, I decided to do the mile swim. This is an award boy scouts get for simply swimming a mile. I figured at the time that it would be easy, and the badge would be mine without effort. Little did I know was the camp I was doing this at would have one obstacle that kids in the past have fallen to. The water in the lake I was going to swim in was anywhere between 36 and 42 degrees almost every day.

The first day I went to my training class, I got to feel how cold the water was. Let me tell you, it took my breath away. I wanted to just jump back out of the water and run back to the field where the sun could warm me up, but I didn’t. I remember doing our paddling lessons the instructor said that every year there would be at least fifteen people who would want to do the mile swim, but only 2-3 would actually go through with it. A lot of it was mostly scare talk because each day our class would get thinner. I remember hearing about some kids getting hypothermia, nosebleeds, and muscle cramps. I almost wanted to tap out just from all the stories I heard.

It is funny how much stories can influence us though. Yes, the water was cold and yes, there was health risks involved. Did that stop me from pushing myself to achieve a goal I had set for myself a few months before I went to the camp? No, it didn’t.

I remember the day before the mile swim, it was just me and another kid. We were the last two who would make the long trek around the cold lake. He wore a wetsuit because he was one of the kids who had a nosebleed and hypothermia the year before. I, on the other hand, had swim trunks on. I know I wasn’t prepared for what lied ahead, but I know my dad was there with me. If something happened, I know he would’ve been the first to dive into the water to get me. It’s funny because the only reason I really wanted to do this swim was because I didn’t want to be a quitter. I didn’t want to fall short of my goal because of the temperature of the water. I remember the night before a few of the guys in my patrol told me they were going to be watching me do it from the dock. It was a a confidence boost for myself to know I was doing something that a lot of these guys decided to bail on.

The day of the swim, it was freezing cold that morning. It was foggy, and I could almost see my breath in the air. I still can’t understand why it was so cold up there in the summer, but I guess some areas are just colder longer. I walked up to the dock and pulled my shirt off and felt the chill of a breeze brush my naked back and chest. The other kid next to me was doing a few stretches and he told me to do the say to keep the blood flowing. So I did.

My dad and scout leader hoped into one of the canoes with two cups of coffee in their hands. I shook my head only wishing I could be in their position with warm coffee and a boat to sit in. They paddled out a meters from us and I watched the other kid dive in first. He was following a boat with his own scout leaders. I proceeded a few seconds behind him and off I went into the cold water. My dad kept saying from the boat that there’s a cup of coffee waiting for me at the dock once I finished. Then, he sipped on his. I shook my head and dove underneath the water doing breast strokes. I wanted to conserve my energy and hopefully build up some heat because I eventually could not feel my feet.

I was swimming for about thirty to forty five minutes I think. I can’t remember how long. May have been longer. I remember on the right side of the lake it was very shady and extremely cold, but on the left side of the lake the sun gave me a little warmth. Occasionally, I would look up to see where the other swimmer was, but we were so far apart, it was almost useless trying to keep track of him. I can remember feeling weakness in my arms and legs near the end. The cold had made everything numb from my shoulders down. It was a frightening experience, but I knew I just needed to keep throwing my arms forward until I reached the end of the last lap around the lake.

I flopped onto the dock and rolled over. There were camp personnel  there with wool blankets and cups of hot chocolate. They had a medic check both of our temperatures. Mine had dropped to 86 degrees. They ended up hugging me tight to give off some body heat cause I was shivering. It was a long and cold trek, but I did it. Even if I was close to hypothermia.

My dad told me later that night that my mom called to camp  cause she was worried about me. She had a dream that my grandfather was holding me in his arms when I was a baby in a blanket. She thought something had happened to me that day from the swim. It was a little scary hearing that from that grueling experience, but I wonder if my grandfather was there. Especially since he was holding me in a blanket in my mother’s dream.

I don’t think I will ever forget this experience only because it taught me that to follow the examples of others because of certain elements or circumstances is not what we are here for. I did not want to give into the past stories about other kids, and I didn’t want to listen to the parents or kids who thought it was too cold. I only wanted to achieve something that I knew I could do. We all go through certain obstacles and giving up will only lead to the sidelines to your path. I may not have done anything great that day to show off and make money off of, but I was proud of what I did.

My mom told me the other day that success is not how much you make, or what awards you have achieved. Success is how you have made the people around you feel about the things you have done. Thanks for that reminder, Mom.

Deeper into My Personal Life

Since this weekend has been a wonderful weekend filled with love and joy of a newly married couple into the family, I would like to jump into a little bit about my fiance, Nadine Ford. I know I have written about many different and random subjects, but I don’t really get many chances to really write about the one that makes me who I am today.

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This is Nadine, Luna, and me during Thanksgiving.

I met Nadine about four and half years ago at a small pizzeria. It was on the corner of a four way street across from the Farmer’s Market. I remember I was in a small three piece band at the time, and I was working on the weekly vlog with my drummer, when I received a message from my guitarist. He wanted us to stop what we were doing and drive about thirty minutes away to this pizza place to do a mini acoustic open mic night. At the time, we both didn’t want to because we were tired as hell and just wanted to promote whatever gig we were trying to pack out at the time.

Anyways, we went anyways because the word “GIRLS” was brought up. I guess when your as young as we were that one world will have you in a whirlwind out the door and into the car. Anyways, we headed down to the pizzeria and when we got there it was a thin crowd, but I wasn’t going to walk away from any crowd if they were interested in our music. We walked inside the restaurant and that’s where I saw Nadine. She was sitting with her cousin in the booths, and I couldn’t help but feel my knees weaken. I seriously felt like I was going to either throw up, or pass out because I was really thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever met. If I remember correctly, I think she was wearing a Nightmare Before Christmas Hat.

I sat behind her near the booths and played it cool trying to seem like I wasn’t too eager to catch her number. Instead, I just texted her cousin and aunt constantly trying to find out who she was. Eventually, we started talking, and things clicked quickly between the two of us. It was almost like meeting my other half. Anyways, my guitarist and I played a few songs, and I proceeded to continue to try and flirt with Nadine like a teenage boy. I got her number that night and we met up at a shopping mall, where we could get to know each other a little better away from everyone.

I learned a lot of things about her from her past relationship to her hometown on Long Island. She described the ups and downs of her life, and even revealed a few secrets to me that made me a little nervous at first, but I felt like there was something different about it from everyone else.

Over the years we have traveled together from Savannah, GA. to Illinois to New York City. It was a dream come true for me cause I was actually travelling alone without the my parents accompanying me. I always wanted that from someone else. Someone that wants to achieve the same goals and has the ambition to grow more every day.

I’ve had this question asked to me many times by people because Nadine and I have been engaged for two years know. We’ve been together for almost five years. I don’t usually have a straight forward answer with everyone I talk to about this because there are way too many things that come to mind. So THE QUESTION… Why do you love her?

I sat down and really collected the memories and events that have brought me to be able to answer this question that should be simple, but sometimes is a little cluttered. So here it goes. I love her because she believes in us, she has faith in better things to come, and all she wants is for me to be happy. I know we have both had our struggles in the past and even now, but I will say the will power that we have to get past some of the conflicts and bumpy roads is amazing. I’ve met people who are very materialistic and just have their eye out for a guy with cash. Well, I know Nadine isn’t like this because, well, I’m broke as hell at the moment. Also, there hasn’t been a moment where she has regretted being with me because of the finances. I remember writing my first book Horizon, and everyday she would flip through a few chapters. She always seemed to push me to keep writing. Especially any kind of romance that might be happening in the story.

I can honestly say, she is the motivational tool that kept me working on Horizon. She’s the reason I get fired up everyday to get another 10,000 words written. She is also the reason I wanted to get a real job, buy a house, and build a family with her. I don’t know how our lives got here. I don’t even know what path we both took to end up at that pizzeria, but every day I do wake up to the most amazing woman alive. When I feel her arms wrap around my neck, her lips press against my cheek gently, or her voice whisper into my ear, everything seems to just be at peace with me. I can’t complain about the things I wish I had, or the life that I wish we could be living right now. It feels like each stone has been placed perfectly for us to cross whatever void that might be below us. We are not you average couple by far. We play multiple video games like Destiny and Call of Duty. We read Walking Dead comic books together. We even enjoy watching Marvel movies together. Chick flicks have turned into no nos lately it seems.

She’s a fantastic cook. I could eat anything she makes and be left with a smile and a full belly. I do wish for more massages, but I can’t complain when I’m the one giving her a massage. She does work a lot, and I do too. I stepped down from my job just so I could experience a little bit more life with her. I can say she will tell you I’m very spontaneous, and I will instantly do anything. Sometimes it scares her, but she knows I try to do the best I can to make her happy. I’d give up anything for her. If there was a bullet in her way, I would be the one to step in front of her and take it. To me, love should not be about sacrificing, it should be about wanting to be with that person. It should be about letting the past go and building a future with that person. I’m in love with Nadine for the simple fact that we could go to hell and back, and still give each other a high five and a solid kiss.

These are only a few things to answer the question, Why do you love her? There are so many more clustered in my brain right now, and I know so many more memories will add on to the bundle later on in life.

“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”
Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

The Questions That Are Boiling in My Head

I know I have been away for a bit on here. I thought I would give you guys an update. At the current moment, I am working on an award for my blog that I was nominated for, but I can’t seem to get the ten lucky bloggers that I need to nominate. I’ll be working on that and once I have it together it’ll be posted. Football season has started so I’ve been watching my Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta Falcons bring their A game this last weekend. So I’m stoked for this next weekend when we go up against Cincinnati Bengals.

Work has been rough the last week. Let’s just say I’ve kind of been thrown on some pretty crappy shifts because good people have quit or have been sick, so I’ve pretty much been stuck with the crap shifts. It’s whatever though. I’m use to it. I haven’t gotten much writing done these last few days due to everything that has been going on with work. Hopefully I’ll be able to sit down and do a major writing haul tomorrow on my day off.

At this current moment, I am struggling. I’ve been trying to really keep that a secret, but I am. It’s on every spectrum of finances/job/social. I think that everything that is going on in my life right now is hopefully temporary. Every problem that I am facing right now is stemming from each one of the things I posted. My job status has changed so I’m making less than I use to, but I am happy that I get to write and spend more time with my family. It seems like there is always some kind of sacrifice you have to make with any decision in life. If you are focused on money and success, your social life will suffer. If you are focused on your family and social life, your financial situation may suffer. How do you find the medium to be able to survive though?

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about people who risked everything by leaving their current job and getting away from it all. They took their life in a different direction and let a job that felt almost like a trap for them. I read one today about a woman who worked as an insurance auditor in New York City, and she had many friends and colleagues die when the twin towers came down. She decided to leave her job because of all the heart ache and decided to go skiing. There she met a man and became a ski instructor. From what it sounds like, she is living a happy life at the moment. So my question is, how do people find the courage to do this? Is it at the brink of knowing life is short, or when you mentally just hit the edge of no return?

I don’t think I’ve really reached that point yet, but I know I want something else for myself, but I keep playing it safe. I keep telling myself that i need this job. It’s job security. I always tell myself that how can afford insurance if I don’t have a company helping me with it. I’m so lost right now, but then I watch these people take these risks. Is it because they have nothing to lose? Maybe I should think more like them and live for myself and not for someone else. I try not to be a selfish person, but I think my happiness would be selfish. I think that anything I do right now could cause the life I have already built for myself to crumble. But is that what I need to do to pull through this rut?

Sorry for all the questions. It’s kind of hard to think that I have one life, and I’m living it through work and stress. Everyone says enjoy life and take it in as much as you can because tomorrow could be the day you die. It’s scary to think that we all want to do big things in our lives, but why? My question has always been why do people want to make a name for themselves? Is it for fame, glory, and fortunes? Is it so no one will forget about you when you do pass on? Why do we HAVE to be remembered? Once we’re dead it won’t matter anyways. The fame, the money, and everything we’ve done. We can’t take anything with us, so what’s the point in it all?

I know for me, it’s to hold on to Nadine, and hopefully build some kind of legacy for my children and their children. For me, I could be forgotten, but I want my family’s future to be secure and to have a name follow them, so they can live their dreams.