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Don’t Quit: Commit (to taking care of YOU)

Scrabble letter tiles in spell the word commit


It can be difficult to commit to something knowing the hurdles, distractions, and disappointments to others that you may face. It can be especially difficult to choose to take care of yourself. If you are reading this, you are most likely a giver, not a taker and consistently put others’ needs ahead of yours. You are important too and need to nurture your physical, emotional, and mental health.

During a middle school field trip to Purdue University, I decided that I wanted to attend. I didn’t know what field. I was accepted into Freshman engineering. However, no-one in my family had gone to college; I didn’t know how to navigate the path. I had no mentor. I joined the Marine Corps to earn tuition money. I was determined to be a Boilermaker.

While stationed in California, I volunteered at a relay service center for people with hearing impairment. I connected the hearing impaired with the hearing. I answered the TTY and voice called to check on people’s photo orders, prescriptions, and to connect family and friends. I knew what I could do now! I reapplied to Purdue, was accepted into Speech and Hearing. I began in August of 1986.

Starting college at age 22, I was motivated to complete my studies and get on earning a living as quickly as I could. I took a full load most semesters, worked 20-30 hours weekly, and took summer classes. I finished my Bachelors in 3½ years. My M.S. followed 18 months later. Riley Children’s Hospital was in my sights for my Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY). I wanted to learn from a team of professionals. I completed my CFY in 1992 at Riley. I spent the majority of my career (21 years) at a special education cooperative that served three school districts.

From 1995 to 1996, I met daily with a friend for weightlifting, M-F at 5:30 am for a 2-hour workout. I used a simple spiral bound notebook to track every repetition, set and food intake (over 5000 calories daily). Having an accountability partner AND tracking my data kept me on course.

In 1996, I switched my focus to triathlons and running. These communities have been some of the most supportive groups I have been with. They nurtured my physical and mental health. The running club’s icing on the cake (at least for me) was the Sunday morning long run. Back then, it was 5:10am start year round regardless of the weather. I am still a member, 24 years and counting, still do speedwork on Tuesdays, tempo on Thursdays and long runs on Sundays (current Sunday streak is 27 weeks in a row.). We have chosen a more civil start time of 7:00 am. This commitment has kept me motivated during even some of the most difficult times. The Sunday long runs have been my physical and emotional support. You can talk and listen to a lot during 2 hours!

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve experienced numerous setbacks; plantar fasciitis (several times - kept me from marathoning for several years), torn meniscus – 3x in my knees (usually a month of no running after the surgery), a compressed nerve behind my knee that caused foot drop (had to cancel a 50 mile race), back strains, shoulder surgery. Each time, I was determined to come back and usually did AND ran faster. Commit to taking time to rest. We need to rest too.

The running club family helped many of us reach our goal of qualifying to run in the Boston Marathon. I tried for 3+ years to get qualified. I completed Boston in 2004. My biggest running goal was to complete a marathon (yes - 26.2 miles) in all 50 states by my 50th birthday.  Didn't happen...yet.  See above. I have completed 42 with the help and support of many friends. My most recent was the Mardi Gras Marathon in Februrary 2020 (As far as I know, I didn't catch COVID-19).  I'll get there. Preparing for a marathon takes several months to properly prepare for the physical and mental feat. I was supposed to run 3 marathons last weekend. Travel restrictions hit the brakes on that. I'll finish those 8 states and save Hawaii for my final marathon. What big goal do you have to keep you going?

I dropped out of a race ONCE… the dreaded “DNF” DID NOT FINISH in a 100 mile race at mile 95. Yeah, I know, “only” 5 more miles. I had been running in the Virginia mountains for 34 hours with 16,000 feet of elevation change; hallucinations, exhaustion, and a golf ball size knot in my quadriceps muscle all together screamed at me saying “that was enough.” Honestly, I had not prepared properly. I was determined to complete the distance; it took me 25 hours at the Kettle Moraine 100 miler in 2005. I committed right then to NEVER do that to my body again!

During this difficult and stressful time due to COVID-19 and Continuous Learning (Indiana’s name for “Virtual/Distance/e-Learning) it’s critical to commit to taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally. You have to find your “club” or support.

Working from home makes it all too easy to work from sunup to sundown, to neglect your physical health, and become disconnected from others because of social distancing. I miss being around my co-workers, students, stakeholders, family and friends. I have committed to taking care of myself so that I can be a better husband, father, grandfather, and member of the PATINS team.

I work too much (ask my wife). I exercise and usually eat pretty well (I do have a sweet tooth). Since joining PATINS in November of 2019, I have worked on my leadership, mental, and emotional well-being by reading a wide range of books (40 books in addition to numerous professional journal articles), meditating off and on (mostly off though!), and talk to friends on the phone and FaceTime.

Stay healthy and commit to doing something every day to take care of YOU:
  1. Mental health - read (checkout library books for FREE using the app called Libby), meditate, do yoga, call a friend, write a letter, etc.
  2. Physical health on your own or with a partner - walk, ride a bike, run, lift weights, stretch, do yoga, etc.)
  3. Emotional health – talk to a friend or other supportive person, take breaks during the work day, dress for work, limit your hours and stick to it, work will always be there, do something with your partner, kid(s), family or friend(s).
  4. Check out the PATINS Training Calendar for opportunities to grow
  5. Look through the PATINS Lending Library to borrow something new to you (shipping is FREE both ways)
  6. Attend the Fall Access to Education Conference

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Saturday, 03 December 2022
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