Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year, In REARview

WARNING: The words you are about to read are quite raw and spoken without pulling punches. I'm showing MY life, warts and all.

 WOW, I can't believe how quickly time has flown, this past year. It's also closing in on one year since I last wrote anything in this blog. This year has been filled with so much, that I hope I'm able to touch on everything we've experienced.

When I left off, I was injured and not running. I was keeping fit by biking, swimming and weight training, as well as spin classes. I had taken my life off the back burner and started dating a woman named Chenae Jackson, who's children are now 12 and 5. My Girl's have also been growing up and are 9, 10, 11, 17,  23, and my Grandson turned 3 in August. I'm 47 now and my GF will be 25 yet again, in January.

Shortly before my last post, Chenae and I took a trip to Jacksonville, where she ran her fastest 1/2 marathon, EVER. I was set to run that full marathon, but decided to let my leg heal and pay $65 for a T-Shirt. The week before this race I was on a training run with Chenae and had to stop running at mile 8 of 10 because my leg was hurting. Chenae had to run back to our car and drive back to pick me up, which was quite the humbling experience. So she ran this race and another at the end of January, in Miami, while I rode alongside her, cheering and taking pictures. I really learned a lot about her during my down time. Plus, it was good to get a break from racing and to see things from a different point of view.

My ankle/shin injury slowly healed with 2 months of not running. I gradually start running again around Valentines day of 2012 and ran my first 5k race of the year in mid march. I continued to increase my mileage slowly and set a goal of running Grandma's Marathon in Duluth Minnesota, on June 16th 2012. It was hard on my mind to want to push up the mileage quickly, but I stayed the course, taking it slowly and became stronger and faster than I had ever been before. I started training with my Girlfriend, which had it's good and bad points. The bad point being that she doesn't like to run early in the morning, or train all that hard. Aside from that we trained well and she decided to make Grandma's Marathon her first ever marathon.

So we trained hard, ran a lot of races, spent tons of money traveling to events in towns we'd never been to, ran 2 marathons at the same time (but not together, as she says), besting our previous times and qualifying for the Boston Marathon, as well. We made tons of friends along the way and got to know each other more deeply.

 Beside our race vacations, we also went off with our family to stay at, and do some really cool things. We visited Sanibel, Siesta Key, various beaches, parks and events. We did more stuff in one year, than most people do in a lifetime. My Girl's and I really enjoyed our time with Chenae Jackson and her Crew, but unfortunately on November 22nd 2012, our time together came to an end. I will forever cherish the memories we made together. And that's all I have to say about THAT!

On another side of this, I've been forced to look at MY life and see that while I was happily engaged in a romance, I started neglecting my own family. It's funny how easily I can became distracted to the really important things in life. And by no means am I saying that my romance wasn't important. I just lacked the skills to balance the two, properly.

 You may recall the beginning of 2011, when my then Wife of 12 years had decided to separate from me. That was devastating to me and I decided at that point that I would devote myself to my Girl's, which I did. My exWife and I decided to share the Girl's 50/50, meaning one week I would get them, one week she would get them. This has been a beautiful arrangement and I spent so much quality time with my Girl's. From just hanging and exercising with Dad at home, play dates with all of their school friends and my athlete friends children, to running off to the wilds of North Dakota. We had really started bonding and working through the issues of the separation/divorce.

It was such a great time for us. I wasn't looking for love, or even thinking about it, for that matter. I was just being ME, with THEM, and it felt great. That's where I left off, I left them hanging. So here we are approaching a new year, back to where we started this whole journey. It is now time, once again, to be the Dad they were getting to know, the Dad that will help them grow into beautiful young ladies and young women. That's the job I signed on for and it shouldn't stop because of divorce or in whatever relationship I become involved.

I know I say that I've been negligent, but maybe that's too big a word. I have seen the subtle changes in the lives of my Girl's. I see my baby reaching for more, the changes in friendships, mindsets and attitudes. Some good, some not so good, but it's all part of growing up. So aside from the fun and real pictures of our lives that I post on facebook, there's a whole world going on that most don't even think about. I've even heard about people saying that my life is like the Truman show, or some reality show. Fortunately, that just isn't so. And knowing this won't stop me from posting pictures and showing the Love I have for family and friends.

I find it quite unfortunate that people are preaching tolerance, co-existence and understanding, but when it comes to people they disagree with, all that "tolerance/co-existence/understanding" goes right out the window. I can totally understand that everyone will not always agree. There are many many things/people that I disagree with in life. Many things that people do, say or want. These are all choices that THEY make and their choices are just that, theirs! So whether you find it abhorrent that I am a Christian (one that ACTUALLY prays and believes), or that I have put so much of myself into a sport that I love so much so that I appear quite skinny (fit), or like a cancer victim, (as someone very close to me once said). Or for that matter, whatever you may disagree with me about. I'm okay with that, because these are my choices, and those are your choices, and in America we all have the freedom to choose. So try not to be upset with people who are your polar opposite and make the choices they make, because that is their own personal choice, and I choose not to judge anyone based on their personal choice.

 If I choose to be friends with you, it IS based on a condition. Those conditions are conditions that I've thought about and are my very own. They are based on my own standard of thinking and reason and I would assume that your friendship towards me, is based on the same conditions. That being said, if I post something in this blog or on FB that you disagree with, you have the right to disagree with me about that. BUT, do you really think that scolding me in a personal message is going to make me change my post? Especially since I have NEVER posted anything that was demeaning or intentionally meant to hurt anyone. The closest I've come to being that way, is when I used to say how much divorce SUCKS. Other than that, My posts are normally lighthearted and meant to amuse/entertain, not hurt feelings.

I have been on the receiving end of hurtful posts/comments, that WERE intentionally meant to hurt me or push me away. These weren't from people that just disagree with me, but people who actually grew to dislike me for one reason or another. These are also their choices, as was it my choice to un/defriend them. I don't normally take things personally and usually go with the flow, but when people choose to be unfriendly and callous toward me, I tend to start thinking that they don't know how to talk things out and would prefer to push me away.

Okay, I've seriously gone off on a tangent, lol. The year 2012 has been quite a fabulous year. I have never been so thrilled, happy and done so many fun things in my life, and I'm 47 years old, for goodness sakes. I've learned more and more about being understanding of people's differences and have a greater sense of self worth. This year I have achieved the best racing times, times that I never dreamed possible, and feel that I can continue to get better, stronger and faster. I'm also proud of all of my running friend's. We've all come a long way this year, and we continue to prove that age, weight, pace are all just numbers.

I'm finding that writing this blog is quite therapeutic and am thinking that I may have some interest in writing here, more than just once a year. This post will be followed shortly by my running year in review. All of my ranting is over btw, so I REALLY look forward to writing that one. Stay tuned for The Year in Pictures.

Happy New Year to all that read this post. May God bless this new year, for you, yours and mine. .

Saturday, January 14, 2012

HAPPY, New Year! Transitioning and moving on.

Yes, it's a new year, and I'm quite happy, but it goes beyond that, WAY, beyond that. It's been one full year since the collapse of my marriage. A day I hoped would never happen, a day that had been coming for quite some time, but whose deadline had been pushed back on several occasion's.

I was really hurt and put into a position I didn't want. My girls no longer had a full time father, my dogs went up for adoption and I left most of what I had accumulated in 12 years, behind. I also found myself, thrust into the 21st century, all by my lonesome. I wallowed in the loneliness, a bit, but quickly found solace, when I turned around and found God, whom I had left standing in that very spot, was waiting there, with open arms, to give me the love and understanding I needed.

I've found that though I have a great relationship with God, I tend to put that relationship on the back burner, when involved in romantic relationships. The problem with this is, God is the one that gives me all the Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control. The very things that make me so attractive, beyond good looks. These are the qualities that make me beautiful, inside and out. So when i pause my relationship with God, I also leave these gifts, behind, leaving me on my own, where, when i start relying on ME, things start to fall apart. At which point I call upon The Lord, then slowly put Him on the back burner, once again.

This cycle has gone on, since I can remember, but this time, my focus is changing. Over this past year, I've read more about, and bonded more with God. I've given up some really, really bad habits and have concentrated on becoming the best Stephen and Dad, I can be.

After separating on Jan 11, 2011, receiving the divorce papers a month later and the divorce being finalized on Aug 19, 2011, I'd say I was bowled over. The only good part about this whole situation, is that we made the decision to share the responsibility for our Children, equally. That means that I get them for a week, and she gets them for a week, and since we only live about 3 miles apart, this is working out great.

The only problem is the girls are now going through many painful issue's, due to this divorce. So now, being who I am, I refuse to comfort them with trips, toys or any other distractions, that tend to put off dealing with hurt. I have had a more direct approach, just by being alone with them, talking, watching movies, learning how to be a good Dad in a girl world and being a part of their lives, more-so now, than I was before. Not doing this in an unrealistic way that won't last, but taking the time that I didn't take before, to listen and give them the love they need. Trust me, it's not all peaches and cream, but at least I try my best, of course with loads of help from Him.

In 2011 we took a few trips, just to get out and do stuff we hadn't done before. We went to Disney, during spring break and to North Dakota, in July. We had such a great time during these trips, but I don't think it was so much, where we went, but that we were together.

2011 brought an end to me being on the NW Jensen Beach/US1 route, where I had been for about 8 years. I got bumped by the next senior driver to me, when we bid routes, which we do every 2 years. I'm now out west, near 95 and Kanner Hwy, which at first i thought to be some sort of spiritual punishment, but now realize it was so i could keep going in the right direction, as I grow closer to God, and what remains of my family.

2011 also brought me my first cellphone, EVER. I didn't go out and get one, but the one I had bought for the former Mrs. Cortes, was returned to me. I have no clue why someone would return a cellphone that has her number and contacts, but that's what happened, so I took it and have kept it till the end of the contract. Now that the contract is up and I can upgrade, i'm seriously thinking of going up to the iPhone, so we'll see what happens. Last year, I also joined facebook , where I've reconnected with some old friends, have currents friends and have met new friends. I currently have 375 friends, which amazes me, because i felt so alone at the beginning of the year.

In 2011, I put my love life on the back burner, while I put my girls first, in my life. We met so many people, some married, some single, that we started hanging out with. We've done movie's, bowling, parks and beaches, building friendships and getting a fresh start, on us. Time will tell how this works out for us.

The end of 2011 saw many new changes for me. I haven't been able to run, due to another injury, though I have pushed it, making some great gains in my quest for speed, but to the detriment of my injured leg. So now I'm just biking, swimming and lifting weights, till i can run again.

With my new, every other week, free time, I've also taken my life off the back burner, making friendships and have met a very special woman. We actually met on facebook. We messaged back and forth for awhile and decided to meet, face to face, where we continued to connect on many levels. We eventually started seeing each other and eventually became exclusive. My new love's name is Chenae Bertholf Jackson, whom I call, Sunshine. She is a divorced mom of 2, an 11 year old girl and 4 year old boy. She lives with her parents, and has been doing so for the past 3 years, moving there after separating from her husband in Washington state. She's been divorced for 3 years and just recently started dating.

I really had no interest in dating or romance, for that matter. I was absolutely NOT looking and am surprised at where life has taken me. So I am now looking forward to a brighter, much , much brighter, future. My girls get more one on one time with Dad, I am over the midway hump at work, with retirement far off on the horizon and my love life has greatly improved. I'm excited, and look forward to all God has to offer.