Mutual Heartache


Reality is frequently unfortunate, and rarely kind to the heart. The atmosphere today was set at the point of waking up, something was off with the world I live in.

10 mile run in the woods was difficult, painful, and cold. Yet another forewarn of impending devastation.

While enjoying a cup of coffee my wife called me. We both know that if we’re calling each other instead of sending a text, something is usually off…

Hey, what’s up?

We knew it would happen someday, and it finally did.

Oh my gosh. Where are you? I’m on my way to pick you up now.

I hung up the phone and stepped back into the shop.

I’m sorry. That was Darco, I need to go. 

Is everything alright?

Her mother just died.

I never knew that you could love someone so much that their own heartbreak you could feel yourself. I feel so overprotective at the moment. She’s sleeping in our bedroom, and I won’t even leave the room.

I’m blessed to have this marriage. I’m blessed to be able to hurt with my wife in this saddening time.

-D-

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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Seasonal Perception


I don’t think I have been alone in my own home for the evening for at least three years. Darco left this evening to spend some time with her friend back home, and that has left me with an empty house, a battle with weevils, and two cats attempting to track down every insect inside their living arrangement.

Translation: All is right with the world (minus no wife this evening).

It is interesting what we perceive as ‘hard’ throughout our lives. At one point running a mile was hard, eventually three miles was hard, then came ten miles, and someday it may be a hundred. So much of ‘hard’ is perceived by the individual in measurement to their own life and past examples.

This past week was hard.

The past several months, if not year has been very low-key for our family. My wife continues to soar at her job, I thoroughly enjoy teaching, and we are finding more and more friends at a daily basis. That is why, based off historic context, this week was hard. My wife and I didn’t see each other awake until yesterday evening, parent-teacher conferences were this week, I had a performance evaluation at work, and other things transpiring within the world of education placed me in a rather unfamiliar position; uncomfortable.

Thursday night, I wound up with something to ‘fidget with’ at work because I was having a hard time paying attention. That isn’t to say what was going on wasn’t important, it was just that my mind was elsewhere. I was trying to solve problems, fix issues, and create solutions in my head for fifteen different problems. Unfortunately, along those terms is also the realization that I likely will not solve any of those problems. I argue that ‘status quo’ is unrealistic and unobtainable; life cannot stay in one specific state through time. There is always something to adjust, tweak, fix, develop, create, or destroy.

The only reason for any of this writing is to merely say that I had a personally challenging week. In no way does that mean that I have endured anything difficult, or overcame anything deemed impossible. Merely noting that in the perception of my own eye versus recent history; this was not the best of weeks and I am glad that like seasonal storms, it too has passed.

-D-

XXXI: Trail (Running) of Tears


I never understood teammates that I had played sports with in school.

If they missed the winning shot.
They cried.
If they scored the game winning touchdown.
They cried.
If they broke a state record.
They cried.

I never understood the emotional responses from these student-athletes that I knew through my education years. What could cause someone to be so emotionally distraught that they would break down and cry during a sporting event? In my mind that didn’t register as something that was acceptable. They were not professional athletes, there wasn’t a human life on the line…it…was…just…a…game.

***

For a few months I had been toying around with the idea of ‘trail running’. There really is marginal running, it’s more about technical footwork, strength, and a lot of hiking. I had established amazing friendships, found incredible support, and most of my nights have been spent traveling around dirt, single path trails along the countryside. It is brutal, it is hard, and yet there is something about surviving that causes you to want to do it again the next day.

This is the world of trail racing.

Saturday morning, 9:00 AM CST I stood in the grass with nearly 100 other souls at a local lake. People were holding bottles of water, vests held food and hydration packs, hats were on, shoes were laced, and the horn blew. We were the last group to take off during this day. An hour prior the runners that were partaking in the 20 Mile and 50K (31 miles) had already begun their journey. The group I was with was running the 10 Mile course. It was the ‘safe’ course for newer runners, compared to the hard mileage that laid ahead for the other two groups.

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Real photo at mile 7. Credit: Mile90 Photography

I’ll be honest in saying that the majority of the event is a blur to me now. The air temperature was a stifling 96°F with an extremely dangerous heat index of 103°F. The weather, mixed with being in the woods, resulted in an absolutely awful environment to run for any amount of miles. The first several miles my stomach was tied in a knot. I had ran this course a week prior, I knew it was a hard course, but by mile 4 my legs were completely exhausted. They were too heavy to move. I was in a struggle for this race.

By mile 7 I began seeing signs that stated, “You’re NOT almost there, but you look fabulous” and “Chaffing the dream!” I knew that this meant I was almost to an aid station that was being manned by the group that I run with on Monday nights…the ‘mud babes’. At the station I heard cowbells, screaming, a hairy man in a bikini top, and was inundated with the questions of “What can I get you?” and “Do you need your bottle filled up? Get him a bandana with ice, he needs to cool down.” Within five minutes of that small oasis I was back on the trail for the final three miles.

There was support raining from the trees!

There was support raining from the trees!

Becoming part of the trail running community has shown me so many different sides of humanity. It isn’t necessarily the race that really stuck out to my emotionally/spiritual self; it has been the people that I’ve been blessed to be around. They don’t argue, they’re not mean, and they are not stuck on their ‘pacing’ from their GPS watch. They help each other out through every obstacle. As one person stated, “Trail running isn’t about you against everyone else. It’s you against the mountain, the distance, your demons, yourself.”. In a world that is covered in competition this sporting event requires you to depend on the person your running against in order to survive (literally).

Mud Babes 16 Birthday

Tonight we celebrated birthdays (Mine, Darco, and two others), and then we ran (and ate cupcakes afterwards).

Being around these people outside of just race day has caused me to question so much in reflection to my own connection and growth within my own faith. How is it that this group of people can drink a beer after a run, moon a camera, and carry on in the heat for 3 to 6 hours…and still get along with each other? Politics are not brought up. Work is rarely touched. Family is mentioned frequently, and the next ‘fix’ of a race tends to be the highlighted conversation. There isn’t music players attached to everyones ears, and there isn’t asphalt for miles all around. Everyone is coated in sweat and mud, not pressed in dresses and slacks. Uniquely, the closest connection I’ve found to the world that God created is everything apart from the stone-faced, mortar-laid, carpet-clean church that I’ve been in for so many years. There is transparency (sometimes way too much of it in relation to bowel movements) on the trail, whereas I find so many hidden agendas laced throughout personalities everywhere else. Ironically, running through the woods feels closer to God than being in church on a Sunday morning.

When you move throughout the trails and enjoy the company of those around you, there is an emotional bond that is being built that individuals like me aren’t aware of until usually when we cross the finish line.

***

PS16 VIThree hours and six minutes, a time that I will never forget. I remember seeing the clock slowly tick by as the finish line came up to my sweaty, soaked, mud-caked shoes. Three hours and six minutes I had been alone in the woods, fighting off fear and disappointment, dealing with extreme heat and loneliness; all to cross one line and acknowledge that I had completed something I never thought I could ever do.

I crossed the finish line.

I saw Darco waiting for me.

I wrapped my sweat covered arms around her, and buried my head into her shoulder.

And I cried…

-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-

XXXI: Prayers of Laughter


We’re laughing in the middle of a prayer; God is going to be so mad at us…

Here’s the truth: Darco and I struggle to come to a middle ground when it comes to church. I struggle with music, but love deep, theological ideas through a sermon. She enjoys music…and people. Needless to say, we’re not exactly on equal terms, but we’re trying.

In recent adventures, through way of Google Maps and Facebook, we found a church near our house that had a young adult group that met every Monday night. We had come to the understanding, and both of us agree, that one of our struggles is not being around people our age. Not the people that are currently having kids (no offense), but the ones that are starting their adult lives, not rushing into families, and trying to make an impression on the world before being whisked away in the world of…family.

That’s when, while visiting this small church, we learned of the small group of young adults that met each Friday night at the leaders apartment a few miles away from where we reside. Last Friday, against all social fears that I could dream up, Darco and I traveled to this strange little apartment to be surrounded by a handful of people…that we’d never met, and that we knew absolutely nothing about.

The group was inviting, relaxed, chilled, and…wait for it…focused on humor, relationships, and faith. There was a quick devotion, some time for singing, and just talking about the real, unique problems that face people our age. Interestingly enough Darco and I are the only married people in the group. That’s an interesting perspective that I never thought I’d witness.

It was warm, comfortable, and inviting. Honestly, it was exactly what Darco and I had been searching for. There were people from India, South Korea, California, Missouri, Kansas, etc…fascinatingly diverse, but still unified on the same grounds of concept; faith, Christ, God, love. Even more awesome to me was the fact that not all the people there attended the same church. Some attended the small church we originally visited, some from a church near my school, and others from throughout the city. They came from all walks of life, and were respected for the unique quirks, concepts, and ideas.

Doctrine wasn’t discussed; only exactly what the Bible had to say and the encouragement to do better, dive deeper, grow stronger as  Christian and to rely on one another. It was so mesmerizing that Darco and I inadvertantly were there for nearly three hours last Friday night.

It was so fascinating that we decided to go again last night. Again, challenged to actually read the Bible, listening to people confess their shortfalls was so humbling to witness, and to know that people supported and prayed for one another was just jaw-dropping. It was basic and simple; it was something that I was extremely comfortable with. I was able to speak thoughts with this group, to listen, and to discover more about all of these people that are so seemingly close to same point in their lives as myself.

Consider it a blessing; I know that I do. It’s incredible that on Sunday nights I can witness the maturity of people and families that are established that we spend time with. On Friday nights it’s comforting being around believers that understand the similarities that each other are going through within the age establishment of the group.

Finally, it is the overcoming sensation of speaking to random strangers. I’m not one to enjoy heading out, being with groups, and talking about faith. That’s a rather stressful point of conversation I’ve learned over the years. However, there is something that can click within the individual to where a suppressed sensation of “this is safe, take a chance” becomes apparent. I consider this small blessing a large victory. It has been nearly nine years since multiple days throughout the week involved multiple groups of people. Again, I consider this gain. The temptation is be quiet, isolated, and individualized…the truth is that I need the fellowship, the wisdom, and the support of those around me.

Overcoming so frequently can become eventual blessings.

-D-