When do we get back to the way it used to be?

16602974_10155686575223765_6125692877867424884_n

I go back and forth on this. Sometimes, I don’t like what I see. But I am the one responsible for it. I can use my anxiety and depression as a crutch. But I’m not gonna. I don’t believe in making excuses. It’s not who I am or how I define myself.

So, here we are in this forever confusing winter. One of unusual and bizarre warmth and now one of icy cold temps and snow, slush and icicles everywhere in my town. Maybe the truth is this depresses me. Well, because it does. I hate the long winter. Truth be told, it hasn’t been bad. We got next to nothing for so long. But as soon as we get into March, it snows and then snows and sleets some more.

Every year, this is what happens here in New York City. Whether you live in Staten Island like me or the other four boroughs, it’s too confusing for words. If you were lucky, you didn’t get any snow or little like here. But lots of ice which makes it even more fun. If you live in certain parts of New Jersey, you got belted with over a foot of the white stuff. If you are from Connecticut or Boston, you’re buried with about two feet with more on the way in Massachusetts. It doesn’t sound like Long Island got hit too bad either.

Maybe when I go back on a normal schedule tomorrow with work and the gym, I’ll feel better. More like myself. I’ve just been bored lately. From the past Friday when the snow crud started. When I get into these ruts, they tend to stick around a while. But I’ll push myself out of it Wednesday and get myself back to who I truly am.

Hence why I went live on Facebook before an why I am writing in this space. Music helps. I was just listening to this cool song from The Girl Next Door.

Wasn’t Elisa Cuthbert breathtaking in it? Who wouldn’t drop everything for her in that movie? Now she’s married to Dion Phaneuf and that’s just boring. I know how that sounds but whatever became of her career? Jesus.

Do you ever stop to “Take A Picture?” I do. Whether it’s capturing a perfect sunset with daylight savings giving me more time if the sun makes an appearance. Or a fascinating photo of the moon or stars above or just one of mother nature. I love taking pictures. It’s fun just to shoot something once in a while. That’s what my Instagram’s for.

Normalcy is good. So, I’ll return to the real world and get back at it. Oh. And it won’t just be fun and games. But life. It’s what I need right now. Peace. ❤

The Hurt Inside

We all experience different types of hurt. Physical and emotional, it always feels the same. Physical of course can be very painful especially if it’s from participating in a athletic event or activity and you do something bad. I used to limp around school in so much pain from plantar fasciitis.

It’s not as bad as breaking an ankle or tearing a ACL or MCL sprain. But basically, your feet really do feel broken. I guess that is the price that can be paid for the physical pounding of running. I was never the most fluid runner. Heel to toe should have been eliminated completely. Prescription orthodox should be a requirement for running. That way you have a protective arch and aren’t naked on the concrete.

Mental pain is just as taxing due to the stress. Whether it be in the form of rejection from that hot girl turning you down or chronic anxiety which can do a number on your psyche, there’s only so much we can take. I can remember going through a difficult period about a decade ago. Of course, it involved a girl who I liked. But I basically punished myself. I couldn’t eat or sleep. Naturally, I became dehydrated and a mess.

Sometimes, the mind really overworks. We’re pushed into overdrive when we overthink. That’s a lesson I learned. It’s better to just speak. Say what’s on your mind. No matter what the response is, you will feel better. It doesn’t always have to be the opposite sex. It can be depression from a number of things. I used to score basketball games at a private school Berkley Carroll in Park Slope, Brooklyn. And for no apparent reason, I started to feel really sick inside. Like I was either gonna pass out or die.

That was a pretty scary time. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Only that it couldn’t continue. I had to do something about it. I wasn’t on the right medication. Nor did I know the proper diagnosis for my panic symptoms. It was only when I did volunteer work at a clinic that I discovered the panic disorder I suffered from. Panic attacks are common. It can come for no reason at all. But usually, it’s a social setting with a crowd of people.

There would be Ranger games we would be at with my family and friends when suddenly, it came. I couldn’t even breathe. That’s what it felt like. The pain was sometimes too much. There were moments when I had to leave MSG early and go for walks outside or just back to the car and listen to the rest of the game on the radio. It was then when I was alone that I cooled off and felt better.

The deadening of legs and random joint paints and heart racing can cause so much fear and panic. It was like I was crying for help inside. No matter how much I hid it from the outside. There were enough times at the basketball games where I always acted the part as if everything was cool. I would do random freestyles at the scorer’s table to crack up the people who worked with me. No matter how much pain, it was a way of coping. Somehow, I got through it.

Overcoming the hurt inside can be very hard. There are peaks and valleys. I still have my moments where I feel overwhelmed. It’s why I have not accomplished what I want. I can’t let it hold me back any longer. I must reach my potential. When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t care. I just made it happen and didn’t pay attention to such distractions. That method is how I scored my best gig as a hockey statistical researcher at ESPN at the headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. At 25, I was living on my own with an apartment set up and paying my monthly bills and my student loan.

Ever since I came home, that’s when the anxiety started. It’s hard to explain how or why. Only that my brother had his own personal ordeal which I finally got to see. Maybe that wasn’t the best environment for me. But I needed to be there for him. I always have been. And maybe that’s why we’re best friends who can’t be separated.

At some point, I need to break through. To escape. 2017 is fast approaching. My goal is to make it happen. Whatever it takes. One thing though. I will always be there for my brother. Even if we no longer share a roof, that will never change. Family always comes first. It’s how I was raised. I am very proud of the positive steps he’s taken. Now, it’s time for me to do the same and stop holding me back.

There’s been too much hurt lately. Whether it’s the loss of friends or me crying out for help, it’s too negative. I like to stay positive. When it gets too down, I turn to music or feel good shows like The Wonder Years which have life values. Yeah. I’ve been rewatching it on Net Flix. So much of that show makes sense to me. I understand why things are the way they are. I understand so much more than I used to.

Never Give Up. That’s a message that stands with me. Or as the great Jim Valvano said:

DON’T EVER GIVE UP

Look at Jimmy V who I again donated money to for cancer research. Or Stuart Scott. Now we lost Craig Sager, who fought so valiantly for two and a half years before succumbing to Leukemia last Thursday. He personified all that was right in covering sports with great journalism, a kick ass personality and amazing attitude despite the terrible disease he fought. Between the colorful outfits, there was the professional Sager on the NBA sideline with his fascinating interviews on TNT. No matter how much Gregg Popovich didn’t like them, you knew he loved and respected Sager.

Everyone did. Just listening and watching different tributes from former colleagues, NBA players, etc., Sager was amazing. You’ll never hear a bad word uttered about this man who had a wonderful wife and children that loved him. He was tremendous.

I’ve learned a great deal. So many people suffer from this chronic disease. It must be stopped. The same way suicide must end. We have to be there for our friends. Knowing a friend who committed suicide is mind numbing. I have friends who have lost others to suicide. It’s all too common. I spoke to a coworker who lost her nephew to suicide. He was only 22. It’s crazy.

We need to raise mental awareness. An area that isn’t covered enough. So many people are suffering. I vow to do good on this and gain a following. Let’s call it one of my life goals starting next year. Love each other. Be kind to each other. Unite as one. That’s my message. Who’s with me?

Dealing with Loss

Life is filled with ups and downs. When you are growing up, it’s a lot more up than down. There is so much to look forward to as a kid. Birthdays. Celebrations. Holidays. All are uplifting times we have experienced with family and friends.

I think what I always loved was being with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Whether it was at our home or theirs, those get togethers truly lasted a lifetime. As someone who’s older, I have been without grandparents for over a decade. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since my father’s side of the family passed.

One thing I can say is I have a photographic memory. So, I can always freeze time and see them watching down proudly on me and Justin. They were caring and loving. I really enjoyed the holidays. We are Jewish. So, we celebrate Channukah. I just wish we still did it together as a family. I feel like since my parents divorced, the caring part has stopped. But the most memorable were always at my grandparents. Whether it be a Passover seyder or Rosh Hashanah get together, that was always great.

I guess I just miss my extended family a lot. Such is life. As you grow up, we learn about death and tragedy. The first time it really hit me was back in November 1992. I was a high school junior attending Staten Island Tech. At the time, I was running Varsity cross country track. My favorite sport as it turned even though I was better at tennis. I always found running fun. Especially in the autumn with the unique elements and scenery and unpredictable nature of the courses.

My grandfather on my mother’s side had been let out of a hospital in Florida. The truly sad part is they made a mistake and he had a heart attack and passed away. Because he lived in Florida, I didn’t see him as frequently. But I still recall the times we shared including at my Bar Mitzvah in 1989. He was a tall, thin and proud man who loved his grandkids. I can still remember my Dad telling me as we drove up to Van Cortland Park for the PSAL City Champs track meet:

“Run for your grandfather today.”

That really hit home. On what was an ice cold day with temps in the low 30’s, there I was in my McKee/Tech gold and green running tank with a long sleeve shirt underneath and gloves on. Yes. It was bitter outside. Not ideal conditions. But what you’d expect for early November in New York City.

Our school had a good team led by junior classmates Jason Goldberg, Josh Kantrowitz and very talented sophomore Patrick Keegan. There were a few other teammates who were ahead of me. What I recall is the top seven who finished became your team total. I was on the fringe. I also remember Jeff McGooey and Sean Leckie. I hope I spelled it right. Some of us were just better at long distance. Others can fly and are much more equipped for 100, 200, 400 and even 800 meters in indoor or outdoor seasons. The true athletes can do hurdles, high jump and long jump. Those are quite challenging.

Getting back to the race, I definitely was inspired. Not that I wasn’t motivated already. I loved running for my high school. I wasn’t the best runner. But I always gave it my best effort. I looked up to my friends who were more consistent and better runners. The hard work paid off for them. I did the best I could in my comeback year. Unfortunately, I suffered from plantar fasciatis. A debilitating injury that affects the growth plate in the heel. It basically ended my career. Though I did do some indoor and outdoor before being relegated to inactive as a senior.

As much as I wish I could’ve participated, I don’t have many regrets. I did run a good time at the city champs up in Van Cortlandt Park. That was a nice reward for the practices and all the commitment I put into it. I do feel I should’ve stuck around more and supported the team even though I couldn’t run. But we all have stuff we could’ve done differently.

I think what I’m most proud of is that race because of what it meant. This wasn’t just about me personally. But rather about my late grandfather. I ran well for him. I’m sure he was smiling down on me standing tall with that grin of his.

So, why do I tell this story? Because as you grow older, it isn’t gonna get any better. Sure. There will be exciting moments in our lives that make us happy. Whether it be a school award or graduating college or landing a new job in the field we majored in. Something I was lucky enough to have happen to me back in ’01 and ’02. Whatever it is, those are the moments we should cherish.

The same echoes for good friends who you would give your left arm for. I’ve lost a couple of friends recently. It doesn’t get any easier. It’s already been six years since we lost Lindzay “Futuristic” Richburg. I only knew him for about a year. His family resides in Atlanta, Georgia. But his wonderful Mom Patty had him come live with his uncle in our development. He truly was the kind of special individual you don’t come around too often. A uniquely skilled and savvy kid with so much potential, he was dedicated and hard working.

No matter how bad the situation, Futuristic always saw the best in things. I remember we talked once at our friend P’s about myself and my family. He told me something I’ll never forget. That I was lucky to have two loving parents and a great brother who all cared about me. I don’t recall the particulars of what had me down. Maybe it was due to my anxiety. I didn’t have a job back then. But what he said really made a lot of sense and it stuck with me.

Sometimes, we don’t appreciate what we have. I don’t take anything for granted. Every day is truly a blessing. I know from experience. If we wind up feeling sorry for ourselves, then it’s pointless. There are so many others who are less fortunate and don’t have it as good. I’m talking about kids without fathers growing up in urban poor neighborhoods, etc.

I think when we are not feeling well, it’s never as bad as it seems. I might be having a bad day due to work or some other crap that’s on my mind. However, I am still here. So are our friends. Well, most of them. I used to be real shy when I was younger. But as I’ve grown up, I am not afraid to speak up when such tragedies occur. I did at Lindzay’s wake. I just felt obligated and wanted to share my memories and put smiles back on the faces. Let them know how great a kid he truly was.

I refer to him as a sunshine star. Most don’t understand what it means. To me, my definition is someone who was a special person who made people smile and laugh when we were with them. They are the kind who make our days shine brighter. The kind who are always there for you no matter what. Only a true few are always with you and understand that life isn’t perfect. There are challenges.

We lost another one too soon. Her name was Chris “Shorty” Schuval. She was only 31. She was a nice person with a good heart. It had been a tough year for her. She lost her fiancee this past summer. For her, it didn’t make any sense to stick around and live here. So, she relocated to Georgia and took a new job.

I always saw her posts on Facebook remembering the great times they shared together. I could tell she was going through a difficult time. Only nobody knew that she was suffering. On the outside, we can act normal and seem fine. But nobody knows what’s going on inside. I know about that kind of suffering and mental pain. I go through it but never to that extent. I suffer from panic disorder. Basically, it’s like a black hole which can cause panic attacks. It’s a fear of fainting or dying. It really sucks.

In thinking about Shorty, I just wish she would’ve reached out. I wish I could’ve told her everything would be alright. But how can we relate to what she experienced? A fiancee who died tragically. I guess she must’ve been really depressed. All the photos she shared were a sign. But nobody recognized it. She was reaching out for help. She lived in another state at the end away from family and most friends.

Patty was nearby. She is such a strong person. She could’ve helped her had she known. I know P-Dube would’ve because she’s so caring, so affectionate and wonderful. I still can’t imagine what it’s like without her outstandingly gifted son Lindzay. He was a month away from turning 21. It just kills me.

I don’t think you ever truly get over death. Especially when they die young. I can’t. But somehow, I keep going. Through the good and bad, I have to. Chris was very nice and someone who deserved better. Maybe this was her way of saying goodbye and being with her love forever. It hurts for those who knew her and cared about her well being.

When we say goodbye these next couple of days, we will do it by showing strength and compassion. It’s never fun being at wakes. I’m definitely tired of them. But it’s part of life. Everyone has a different way of grieving. I believe in the grieving process. By being surrounded by family and friends, it’s our way of paying tribute.

It’s hard to deal with. But something we all go through. Love and hugs to Chris and her family. <33333 😦