2016 #ClubDaugherty Review: Hit The Dirt!


While being easily distracted during this peaceful Christmas Break, I’ve spent the past several hours sipping coffee and reading over several years* worth of yearly recaps on this very website. It is fun to reflect on what has happened over the course of five years, and just like those entries in the past, I look forward to sharing with you our lives in 2016.

I think friendship is the key term to describe 2016. Truly the year was split in half for Darco and myself. The first half from January to July, and the second half from July to December.

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I have a few artist in class

I continued to teach in 2016. By God’s grace my contract was renewed for the 2016-2017 school year. Teaching the same grade, working with the same people, and hanging out in the same school. Darco had a rougher start to 2016, the numbers for her store weren’t exactly what she was looking for, and this resulted in some serious stress for both of us. As anyone with a significant other could tell you, seeing someone else suffer because of stress is a hard thing to handle. Thankfully, we were still getting accustomed to our new home near the lake, and outside of her job, it was rather peaceful. I was

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I’m the…well…you already know

running races on the road each month, all part of a giant statewide circuit, and somehow wound up winning the state title for the 5K in my age group. Darco also hung out with me while I tried a 44 mile relay race with some local runners. Naturally, for the safety of everyone, I ran the shortest legs on the course. One of the runners though; she was nuts. She had ran a 50K the day before out in the middle of Kansas, signed up with our group, ran around 14 miles, and then decided she would go home and go to bed. Did I mention that she also was one of the top finishers of the 50K?

 

So peaceful that when June came around we decided that we could potentially host people in our home if they came to visit. Meaning, opposite of 2015, our friends from Pittsburgh, 13323407_851041924776_2669912194769923398_oPennsylvania came to visit us. With a catch…there was three of them! True story, we found out a few weeks prior to their visit that they were expecting their first child. Hanging out with them while visiting the city south of us continued to demonstrate to myself how strong friendship ties can be, and how important they are for the overall health of an individual.

July brought about the heat and summer break. I spent most of my days planning out lessons for the upcoming school year, looking at road races, and going to training sessions throughout the city. Darco was knee deep in her store; slowly by mid-year she was starting to see a change in the sales pattern of her store. A deep breath for her for sure, and the passion of what she was doing was reignited.

It was after our July 4th annual road race, the things started to drastically change for the

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This is becoming a routine sight

two of us in the running world. I had been admitted into a running ambassador program for one of our local running stores. Because of this I was around all sorts of runners; 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, all sorts of craziness! These people were obsessed with time, nutrition, and shoes. Realistically they were a positive group to be around, both for myself and for Darco. That was until one of them, during a speed session at a local high school, suggested that I join them on a Monday night run.

That changed everything.

That night run wound up being in the woods with about 15 other crazy people. They weren’t runners, they were trail runners, and some of them were ultra marathon runners. All of sudden, in the middle of the summer, I was exposed to this world of running through the woods, on random trails made of dirt and rocks, and having fun in the process. I had originally thought it was just me that this new adventure was going to affect. Originally I hadn’t noticed my wife quietly watching from the sideline…wanting to join in. We both ditched road running for good and decided together we would try this trail thing. It was hot, hard, and probably deadly. It was fun though. I ran my first race in July, Darco ran her

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She amazes me

first race in October. Combined we have run the following distances: 5 Mile, 7 Mile, 10 Mile, 25 K, 20 Mile, and 21 Mile.

The most amazing part was what it did to us on the social level. Suddenly we were on the trails with groups of people 4-5 days a week. We would eat dinner together, travel together, and motivate each other. The person who got me started, I was even able to watch them finish their first 100 Mile race. We wound up in the middle of Missouri, Nebraska, and Arkansas through the second half of the year. Sweat pants have been switched out for tech shirts, and shoes have become as important as our food. It is hard to express in words what trail running has done for us. Partly the physical side of things, partly the social side of things, and partially the marital side of things. We have had several trail dates that involves walking, running, sweating, and just enjoying each others company. I never thought I’d say it in a serious tone, but trail running has benefited our marriage in incredible ways.

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That is her heartbeat

Along with our extra-curricular activities Darco was notified that she would be getting a new store. Due to the increase in sales, she will be getting a new building two blocks from my school. She is extremely excited. Her sales are beating last years numbers and she is even looking at additional ‘advancement’ in her company. Trust me, I married an incredibly smart, young woman. Her ability to conduct business is amazing to watch. God has such a unique talent for this lady. There have been moments that I’ve sat in her lobby just watching her; jealous of what is capable of doing. It is humbling. School is back in session for the 2016-2017 year. My kids are amazing; each one of them is an incredible gift. This year I’ve made a stronger effort to work better with my peers inside the building; I contribute some of that to the assistance of our running friends working with my social miscues.

We have bounced around churches in the area. Ironically, we have wound up in Darco’s hometown for church on more then one occasion. Our home church kind of came to an abrupt end when the leader announced that him and his family were relocating to Colorado to plant a new church (God has done amazing things in their lives since heading

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We did the adult thing! Landscaping!

out). We are still working on where we belong, but we’re not giving up.

I know in the eyes of many, between deaths, elections, and a combination of both, 2016 has been a rough year. I think this year, personally, is a testament to God’s unfailing love and grace. My wife and I are living a life together that neither of us could have ever imagined. Our financial debt is getting so, so small, and we are looking at realistically purchasing the house that we are currently living in. This is a life that neither one of us deserve, and we know that, but we are grateful God has been so good to us in 2016.

As with any year; thank you for taking the time to humor my random thoughts on this page. My heart is so full this year; I’m truly in a place that I have never found myself before. God is so good.

Here is to a beautiful, God-breathed 2017

-D & Darco-

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XXXI: Ultras


I wanted to be fast.
I wanted to win.
I wanted to prove everyone wrong.
I wanted to prove myself wrong.
I accomplished none of these things.

Try to imagine this strange complex (some of you may be able to relate). You love a specific sport, soccer, football, baseball, etc…it is your life, it is your desire, it is something you dream about. There is just something about the event that just drives you. You play, participate, practice, train, etc…However, when the day ends, you are still too short, too big, too slow, or you just don’t ‘have what it takes’.

How do you accept that reality? Do you quit? Do you keep going? What is your exit plan when your dreams don’t always pan out the way you envisioned them?

For about a month, almost two months, that has been the life I have been living when it comes to running. I love running. I love everything about it. I train, I run, I eat well, I practice with others, and I run races. I just love to run. However, in a world full of statistics it turns out that passion doesn’t always equal results.

To be honest; I’m 6’5 and around 250 pounds. Overall I am just a big guy that towers over other people. There was not a lot of biomechanics that came with this physical package. Where MC and many other family members thrived in athletics; I looked good, but when push came to shove, I fell down. A lot.

I needed a change up. I didn’t want to vacate running because I still love the sport. However, I could slowly but surely feel the burnout growing within my own heart. I was growing tired of lining up for a local 5K race, running the race, and finding similar results. This year alone I’ve finished 4th in my age group in four different races. The ‘click’ just isn’t there, and now I’m starting to accept that reality.

Praise God for random strangers, stupid ideas, and foolish attempts.

Several weeks ago I wrote about making friends, trying out speed running sessions with random strangers, and even my involvement of being on a city running team for a local business. I needed all of those things, desperately. They were all the slight pushes I needed to move away from what was comfortable, but not fulfilling, and into something extremely uncomfortable yet incredibly fun.

Trail racing.

This is running on trails that are designed really for mountain bikes. A lot of rocks, roots, dirt, and the such. I’ve been out a few times, and each time I come back loving it that much more. Partly because of the technical challenge, partly because trail running people are a very special, close-knit group. Also, the distances for the races are a little different compared to standard 5K. They range from 7 miles to 20 miles to 50 miles to 100 miles, and everything inbetween.

I needed this. Road running was just becoming stressful, frustrating, and the love was really lacking. This is new, refreshing, and at the level of insanity that I’m comfortable with.

Because of all of this I’ve joined up as a volunteer for construction projects on our local trails (AKA: more friends), I run with a specific group each Monday (AKA: more friends), and of course our running team comprises of several trail runners (AKA: more friends).

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Flyover Trail Racing (I have no idea what I’m going to do with this)

This has also allowed me to experiment with design and concepts for logos, brands, and marketing. I launched (for fun) a Facebook page, blog, and Twitter account really recapping my experiences in this new sport.

Personally, and this is not something I would have predicted, it is the support that is best part of this transition. These crazies all enjoy doing foolish things on the trails, and they don’t make excuses about it. I don’t have to go to races alone, I don’t have to talk to myself about my adventures, I now have a group of people that are all just as unstable.

I consider that quite the blessing.

Here’s to the ultrarunners. You untable, insane, awesome group of people that I can call my friends.

-D-

XXXI: My Declaration


I’m sitting in my basement. The sun is shining through two windows and the blinds are currently drawn on the patio doors adjacent to this entertainment room. Above I can hear our two cats wrestling with each other in the living room. The laundry is caught up, washed, dried, and put away. We’re working on a way to correct our frame for our new bed so that our cats will not destroy our box springs (again). The kitchen is calm, dishes are washed, and I’m thinking of cooking ribs tonight for dinner. I washed my truck for the first time in six year. Darco’s tomato plant is growing, and our new landscaping in the front yard looks great thanks to my wife’s hard work. Her dress is currently drying in the summer breeze out on our porch looking over our backyard. We just learned that my wife will be receiving another ‘promotion’ within her company in the next six months. Granted, if I gave details she would be all bitter towards me for sure.

Later today, time permitting, Darco and I will drive six miles down the road and explore the trails that surround the lake that we live next to. Tonight Darco and I will attend Bible study with a group of people that are relatively close to our age. We’ll laugh, study, and talk about our positions in life and what we think God is directing us towards. In a few days MC and Jim will come to our house and we’ll watch the fireworks display that is being set off only two miles away from our neighborhood. Tomorrow morning I’ll run from our house, across the dam of our local lake, into the small downtown of our town. I’ll grab a cup of coffee, eat a cinnamon roll, and then run back to our house. Afterwards I’ll meet MC and Jim and we’ll depart to the city 15 miles south of our neighborhood. We’ll ride the streetcar, shop through the open air river market, and explore antique stores through the city’s old industrial sector referred to as the West Bottoms.

***

Between the founding concept of this website and the world currently outside my front door, negativity is something that plagues the world around me. Someone is upset, offended, hurt, or dead it seems every minute (maybe even more). Social media tends to be toxic with people arguing over what is right and what is wrong.

This world is a shockingly hard place to live in.

If I get wrapped up in what is so wrong with the reality around me I’ll miss the blessings that have already seen set before me. The truth is God is good and has blessed me tenfold in the past five years. I have a loving wife, a pretty entertaining job, and I live somewhere that I would have only imagined living in, in my own wandering dreams. I have central air conditioning…and tile floors…and a garage! God has given me more than I should ever deserve. Biblically speaking I only deserve death, so there’s that. I’m only curious, and this is solely directed towards the ‘Christians’ of the world. Whatever happened to us giving praise for the life we have? The enjoyment that we should never have had in the beginning? It is so easy to rely on God when the chips are down, but what about the other moments.

One of my objectives since 2011 was to experience life to its fullest. That included a crazy marriage, moving, and many different jobs. However, guess what, God has stayed faithful through every single moment of my life. He never left me, never forsake me, never gave up on me. He ‘s still right here, and I can’t express how comforting that is.

Let’s be real; I’m a divorced Christian that remarried to a woman who wasn’t even a Christian when we first met. I watch anime from Japan, teach middle school students, enjoy tattoos, running, and electronic dance music. Sometime during the year my beard is dyed different colors, and sometimes I even wear headbands when my hair is getting long. There is nothing, I pray, nothing about my life that fits the criteria of being a ‘Christian’ in today’s society.

Even thinking back to the days of youth church camps, mission trips, etc…there always seemed this unspoken urge to be sad, broken, or devastated about this, that, or the other. Don’t get me wrong, Paul, David, John, Job, and many others all tore their clothes for the sorrows of their own life’s and that of others. However, they also danced, rejoiced, and praised the high points of life.

I don’t think God expects us to be stoic.

I think God expects us to live a life worth living, and to reflect back knowing that we gave it our all and we had a blast along the way.

I will declare my happiness, my joy, and my peace at this moment in my own life. Darco and I are blessed, and I firmly believe that as a Christian couple it is our responsibility to not only seek God throughout our days, but also to give Him praise when life turns out in ways we could never dream of happening.

We’re praising. We’re blessed. God is good.

-D-

#getyourpraiseon


Strange packages I come home with…

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5K Category

True story; 28 years of never winning a single athletic event, and today I brought this award home.

I’m happy. While the accomplishment isn’t perfect, it’s still an accomplishment. God gave me strength to move, and a heart to run.

I’ll get my praise on because my God continues to refuse to give up on me.

-D-

XXXI: Memories Become Fragments


Peace.

One of the first ‘rules of blogging’ is to not apologize to the reader when it’s been some time since you’ve last posted any thoughts on your own blog.

Honestly, I’m not sorry.

I would apologize, but doing so would mean that I’m regretting the time spent with students, time spent with my wife, and time spent…well…living life. It’s almost supernatural to consider how so many vivid memories become nothing more than just fragments of a bigger picture. Turning down the trail, a mile under my belt already early in today’s crisp morning, I tried to think back on the motivation that propelled me to run for so many years.

I couldn’t envision it. I couldn’t remember it. I couldn’t grasp it. The once horrific onslaught of guilt and corruption no longer could be found in my veins. Truly, I’ve been cleaned and purified.

I haven’t written because I moved on with the life that I still have, and I’ve in turn walked away from the life I once had. Nights of sorrow are filled with days of life. Days of frustration are filled with nights of peace. This is the best I’ve slept in nearly twenty years.

Is it alright to just claim the ability of healing and redemption? Is it alright to forge life on dreams? I’ve never felt so reckless in my life like now, and I’ve truly loved life no more than currently in this strange state.

Shopping for light bulbs? Sure!
Splitting wood for the fireplace? You bet!
Grading papers while the sun spills through the window? Wouldn’t want it any other way!

I’m curiously fascinated by Darco’s take on my desire to always run against the grain of the socially accepted. Moreso now because there are so many things to this life that I’m 100% good with. I enjoy living in the suburbs, running to the local coffee shop, and spending the evening with my wife. I’m happy that we don’t try to conquer the world after a day full of work, and I love waking up to the light peering through our windows each morning.

It’s not even the point of thanking God for getting me out of once was; it’s about thanking Him for what He’s currently provided me with. Nowhere can I find Jesus suggesting that we hold onto the scars of our past, I can only find the encouragement to learn from them. I don’t read about accepting eternal guilt, I find lines and lyrics of embracing eternal grace. Why…how…could I negate the works of my Father when He’s completely revolutionized my life? Not once, not twice, but everyday that I continued to find breath.

What I didn’t think, or even envision in my own life is that revolution spins around more besides just a divorce. I thought for years that, that was going to the pivotal moment of my life. My defining moment of the legacy that was left on this planet.

Can I tell you the one thing that I’ve learned since grasping that thought?
A divorce is only one piece of the entire puzzle of one’s life. It doesn’t define anything about the individual, it’s merely another struggle to overcome, accept, endure, and embrace when trying to figure out your place on this blue dot we call home.

Darco accepts my weird scars, but she also doesn’t let me get away with using them as a crutch. A divorce five years ago doesn’t dictate if I can do dishes tonight or not. It doesn’t excuse specific spending habits in the bank account. It doesn’t justify hostility and negativity towards other humans. It’s merely a point in time.

Can I be honest with you? Part of the reason I don’t write as much on this page is because there isn’t nearly as much to share. So much about clicks, views, likes revolve around dramatic, traumatic experiences. I don’t have them to share. The cat got a cold and I think I have a few cavities, but that’s as crazy as it gets. After living some of the strangest chapters of my life already; I’m just fine with admitting that life in the view of the world’s perspective is rather peaceful.

I’m alright with conforming and not fighting against God’s desire and plan.
I’m alright with just embracing the naive, novel idea of peace.

-D-

XXXI: Vanity or Salvation


I run.
Nearly every day now.
What started six years ago as a means to impress my now ex-wife, became a tool of divorce recovery, and now a method of worship for my soul.

It’s more though…

I, like many, hate looking in the mirror. Daily I question what Darco sees in me anyways. It’s hard to stomach the idea that you’re not an attractive person. It’s a sin of doubt that plagues the mind. It’s been one of mine since I was a child.

Recently I learned a fun project for myself to handle the temptation of doubt and humility. I would grow my hair and my beard crazy long, losing my face in the process. I didn’t want to see it, I didn’t want to see my shortcomings.

I’d run for weeks, months, watch what I eat, and any time spent in the gym was done with multiple layers of long sleeve clothing.

I made it hurt.

I never wanted Darco to regret marrying someone that wasn’t handsome, unique, or attractive. She deserved more, she deserves more.

This weekend I shaved and cleaned up to see the progress, and for once…truly once…I was surprised.

For the first time in my life, that I can recall, I can look in the mirror without the guilt.

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I know it isn’t perfect, but I hope it’s something for my wife. She deserves it.

-D-

XXXI: Hang Up & Talk


Growing up in a digital age, I can’t believe that even I’m to the point of disconnecting from our own, manmade cyber world.


Perhaps I’m the youngest one in this age,
The idea of hanging up, putting away the prepay
Unwinding fingertips crippled by chronic keyboards,
Typing away each final breath.

Maybe I’m alone,
This new advocacy for self-help in a digital plain,
Deleted, rewriting, and disconnecting ones image,
Easing away the physical pain

I ponder the amount of dates gone by,
Talking to him across tabletops,
Screens rolling past his vacant eyes,

How many times has he whispered to her,
In the midnights twilight,
Understanding she heard nothing,
Except the comedy routine from YouTube’s limelight

Twisted, dark deceptive life
Full of zeros and ones,
A binary cry,
Calculated cost of communication cut short,
We cut the cord,
But we never hung up

Curious cursors cruise across screens,
Imaging imaginary ideas,
Reality no longer desirable,
Photoshop, ragtag pieces of former cut, cropped, cropped tops,
Litter to the mind

Days erased and night now rotten,
Glassy eyed empty souls,
Twisted membranes of cellular display,
Underline the world lost,
The love forgotten.

Unplug the warped reality,
A cyber crime unwinding in the minds eye,
Take up a natural life,
Block out the screen,
Turn off the lie.

-D-