After 35 years of life, I have a few things to say.

Category Archives: Challenges

The time has come to make a fresh start once again.  When the clock struck midnight early this morning, the calendar started its march toward December and as tradition, lots of people are making new promises to themselves for the upcoming year.  Some of the most popular resolutions for the new year are to eat healthier, get into shape, connect with old friends (in person, not online), and many others that attempt to make them feel better and better about themselves.

This year, I am no exception, but I did get a head start on a few of them.  I’m already a gym rat, so check that one off the list, although all my goals at the gym are not fulfilled yet.  It’s a work in progress.  I also recently started going to spin classes again, which I used to do and fell out of it.  I can’t remember when, but I decided to go cold turkey on my sugar in my coffee.  Some people told me to just stop drinking coffee, and since that will never happen, I did the next best thing and stopped the sugar.  It took me a few weeks to get used to the bitterness, but now I don’t even notice.  Now, if I can only kick the soda addiction.  I have gone diet, but in recent times, they say diet isn’t any better for you, so that should probably be the next thing to go.  We’ll see.

I started this blog when I turned 35.  Last week, I turned 38 and much has changed.  Life is fast.  New babies come into the family, as well as new spouses with their own families.  Some family members go to heaven to start their new journey.  My dad made that trip this past year.  Some family move into the next phase of their life.  My step-daughter is one semester away from finishing her high school/Associates Degree middle college program and she is already accepted into a private 4 year school that she will attend in the fall.  It’s only an hour away, but far enough to spread her wings and stretch.

This next year is going to be great.  Lots of things will change, I know, some for the better, and some not so good, but with my head start, I believe this year is going to be different.  I’m already ahead of the game, ahead of the resolutions.  My new habits are already taking shape.  I won’t be at the gym tomorrow as a stranger to all.  I will be there to help the new members adjust to the good life and hope they stick it out for the long haul.  Since my sugar habit is already broken, it will be easier for me to cut back on other unhealthy habits.  I know I can do it, and that gives me strength.  For once, I don’t need a new years resolution list.  I have already made my choices and they started long before the countdown to midnight.  All there is to do now is maintain and optimize the plan in order to meet my goals.

Good luck to you all in your new year journeys.



IMG_1097And I’m off and running.  Day 1 and my book is started.  1772 words so far and I might do a few more pages tonight.

pumpkinsHappy Halloween everyone.  I hope your weekend will be filled with scary movies, amazing costumes, and mouthfuls of teeth-rotting candy.  The one day of the year when you can dress up and pretend to be someone or something other than yourself.  Well, you can do that any day, but this is the only day you can do it and not get weird looks.  You have to laugh at the thought of what aliens would think if the one day they visited to observe us was on Halloween.

More scary than Halloween costumes and movies is the fact that the Nonfiction Writing Challenge starts tomorrow.  I’m not sure I am prepared to start, but I am excited and ready to get going on my first book.  If you haven’t been following along with my story so far, I’ll give you a preview.  When I was 4 or 5 months old, I was adopted by a loving family, but very soon after settling into my new life, I got very sick and was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus.  Because of this, brain surgery was required to save my life by installing a shunt to relieve the pressure in my brain from Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) build up.  Without this surgery, I would have died from brain damage when my brain was crushed against my skull by the outward force of the pressure.

As you can imagine, just one brain surgery did not fix me for life.  Over the years, I had to undergo many shunt revisions, from malfunctioning valves to separated drain tubing, and even shunt replacement at least twice.  When I was 20 years old, I had been under the knife a total of 15 times I think and my family was ready for a different solution, one that was more permanent.  We learned about a new procedure that could rid me of a shunt altogether, called an ETV (Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy).  This procedure is not for everyone with Hydrocephalus and you have to meet certain criteria for it to even be a possibility.  Lucky for me, I was a perfect candidate for this surgery, so for the first time in my Hydrocephalus history, I wanted to get surgery.

In December 2000, I went into surgery voluntarily and healthy, to have my shunt removed and the ETV performed.  Since I went into the hospital healthy, two surgeries had to be performed.  First, they had to remove my shunt and induce Hydrocephalus so that my ventricles filled with CSF and swelled up.  They had to do this so that they had the room to perform the ETV.  I spent a week in the hospital after the first surgery, just waiting and monitoring my pressure, waiting for the pressure to rise.  Once it was high enough, I went back into surgery to get the ETV.  My book will have the details of all this, but long story short, the surgery was a success, and I sit here now, 15 years later, shunt free and headache free.  The ETV is still working and I am grateful not to have had to get any more surgeries.  I’ve been meaning to write this book since the ETV, but now is the time and the story is even better now since I have had 15 years without a problem.

OK, maybe I am prepared to start this book tomorrow.  🙂

Thanks for reading.  Hopefully I will have the complete story for you to read in a month or so.

Happy Halloween.


It took a few weeks, but the 2015 MS Tour To Tanglewood Finish Line Photos are online.  Here is Cindy and I crossing the 50 mile mark and ready for lunch.  This is from the 30th Annual Tour To Tanglewood, a National MS Society fundraising event.

Bike MS Tanglewood 2015 Finish-1314

Today is the last day of Week 2 of our 12 week Half Marathon Training Plan.  So far, we have ran close to 25 miles, 12 last week and 13 this week.  It’s going pretty well so far, but I am still doing short walking breaks during the runs, firstly to give my heart a break because it gets up to 187 bpm, depending on my pace.  Secondly to give myself a chance to get some water.  I feel that my heart is getting stronger by the day, and since my weight is dropping as well, it is having to work less to keep me moving.  My breathing is pretty much under control with the help of the Albuterol inhaler.  I no longer wheeze when I run, which I am sure eases the nerves of the person running next to me.  Hopefully I no longer sound like I am going to drop dead at any moment.  I honestly feel better too.  The process is slow, but baby steps is the key to getting me into better shape and event ready.  I am looking forward to crossing the finish line, no matter what the time.  I will be proud of myself just to be able to call myself a Half Marathoner.  Bring it on Week 3.

Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon - 4/12/15

Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon – 4/12/15

Today was the first day of our 12 week Half-Marathon training.  The plan actually started yesterday, but since Mondays are “rest” days, today was the official start of this adventure.  Two miles was all that was required today, so it was a quick trip to the gym to knock it out and then head to the hot tub.  The weather was perfect for outside running, but since I need to work on pacing myself, the treadmill will be my best friend for awhile.  Not to worry though because tomorrow is going to be nice too, and I plan to get the bike back on the road for the first time this year.  I hope to see the trees passing me by at 16 mph during lunch tomorrow, while the wind blows through my beard.  🙂

My wife and I signed up for the Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon many many months ago when we were feeling, ummm, for lack of a better word, I’ll just say crazy.  We were on a high from doing some other races and thought that signing up so far in advance would give us plenty of time to get ready for it.  Well, as the high wore off and other priorities took over, so did training.  You know how that goes.  Anyways, awhile back, we decided that we bit off a little bit more than we could chew, so we opted to training for the half marathon instead.  Now that we are 12 weeks from the event, it’s time to get busy training.  On top of starting to run again, I have also joined my wife in eating low carb, hoping to trim down a little bit before April.  Cycling will help with that as well, so the plan is in place.  Now for the execution, that’s the hard part, at least for me.

The particular running plan we chose has rest days on Mondays and Fridays, run days of Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays (long run), and Sundays (recovery).  Wednesdays, as well as some Fridays, and an option on Sundays, are cross train days.  I will probably be cycling 2 to 3 times a week also, sometimes on run days and sometimes on CT days.  With all this and also eating better should help prepare us to run/jog/walk/crawl/finish our first half marathon.  The best part is that it is a Rock & Roll event, so there will be bands playing at every mile. Smash Mouth is the headliner, so I assume they will be at the Start/Finish Line.  There is no shame for us to have downgraded to a half marathon, even though we signed up and paid for the full 26.2 miles.  It was only $10 less to sign up for the half, so we will only lose $20 total, and that’s well worth it if it means we survive to the finish line.  Our future may have a full marathon in it some day, but not this year.  We are too busy of a family at this point in our lives to commit to the rigorous training schedule required for 26.2 miles.  Maybe after we retire, who knows.  For now, the half is the goal, and for me at least, it is a major challenge, and I look forward to conquering it in Rock & Rock style.  Wish me, and both of us, luck on this new adventure.


Simon A.

My new adventure!!!

My new adventure!!!

Yesterday was my first ukulele lesson at the music store.  My brother-in-law and I went there a little early and tested out the current stock of acoustic guitars while we were waiting for the lesson to start.  I found the 2 that I had been looking at on my previous visit.  They were both calling my name and I had a very hard time choosing between them.  Both of them felt like good matches for me, but in the end, I decided to go with the Epiphone over the Fender.  There were just a few differences, and those differences helped me make my choice.  The neck on the Fender had a glossy finish, whereas the Epiphone had a smooth polished finish.  My thumb slid back and forth better on the Epiphone.  Although I loved the natural wood colors of the Fender, the Sunburst paint job of the Epiphone looked even better in my eyes.  I know that color is not the most important attribute, and it wasn’t in my case either.  I really liked the sound quality of the Epiphone, as well as the on-board tuner and pre-amp.  The strings on both were really low, so that was not a deciding factor, but there was enough positives for me to make my choice.  As you can see the from the picture, it fits me well and I do believe I will enjoy it for years and years.  I’ve already started practicing with it. If anyone has any pointers for a very beginner, drop me a line.  I can use all the help I can get.

The ukulele lesson was ok, but the guitar shopping was the highlight of the trip, if you can’t tell already.  Ha Ha.

Hope to be playing around the campfire this summer.

Simon A.