“It’s supposed to be fun…”

2014-07-15 12.47.14“It’s supposed to be fun”

As kids, during sporting events, we can all recall hearing this. Remember? After losses, coaches and parents would always remind us this: “it’s just a game, it’s supposed to be fun!”

The sad reality is, I look around at the kids now and it doesn’t look like one OUNCE of fun. I see 7, 8, and 9 year olds having the pressures of grown men bestowed upon their small-framed shoulders. Their underdeveloped bodies and minds are just learning of this world and already it’s forcefully instilled in them, it’s PRESSURE and losing is UNACCEPTABLE. If your not the best or do not win, you are insignificant here on planet earth….

Parents and coaches seem to lose sight of the sole purpose of athletics; learning teamwork and building a strong work ethic.

From what I can see from 5 years of being a speed and strength trainer is this:

*Parents MAKING their kids play.

*Athletics being more important to the parent than the kid.

*Parents spending unreasonable amounts of money for the best training, the best gear, and the most elite tournaments, not to mention travel costs (gas, food, hotel, etc) to give their kid exposure. (Exposure? They just learned to tie their damn shoes!)

*Kids trying to have fun but being robbed of that by people who probably didn’t amount to what THEY wanted to athletically. Yeah, you got that right…..Vicariously living through children. Pathetic. Inexcusable.

It makes me want to grab these parents up by their shirt collars and teach them a lesson. But that wouldn’t teach them or the kids ANYTHING. So, I refrain. I watch. I try to be the calm, peaceful force amongst poor mannered, temperamental, and embarrassing grown men and women that put so much energy and stock into their child’s athletic “career.”

Let’s get rigorously honest. How many professional athletes are there? 18,000 in the USA is the approximation. That seems like a lot. It’s not. At all. It’s estimated that there are 4 million athletes JUST in the USA. 18,000 out of 4 million. So, even if you want it REAL bad for your kid, the chances and percentages that stare you in the face don’t lie.

Would I ever discourage a kid from pushing himself and putting everything he has into becoming the best he can be? Absolutely not. Athletics teach individuals how much they can endure, how hard work does pay off, and how being a teammate sometimes means not being the shining star. Do I agree every kid deserves a trophy every single time? No. Learning how to lose is vital to human development.

Life lessons. Yes. Many, many invaluable life lessons can be learned from athletics.

But the one gleaming reality I see is that kids are no longer allowed to be kids. What happened to capture the flag? Catching fireflies?  Racing homemade boats in the creek? Freeze tag? Pick up wiffle ball, backyard football, and playground basketball? Why is it all so SERIOUS?  Why is so much emphasis placed on forcing these boys and girls to be men and women far before they’re ready?

I ask you to please, let your kid be a kid. Life is short and time really does fly. Pressure and obligation is waiting for all of us but for 10 years of life, it should be carefree and FUN.

“It’s supposed to be fun!” Adults, coaches, parents, this message is to YOU. I hope this hits a direct shot to the CENTER OF YOUR HEART. I hope you consider that every person only gets ONE childhood. HOW DARE YOU TAKE THAT AWAY……#BzBe13

Strength and blessings.

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Senseless Acts of Violence

2014-07-09 21.20.11OCTOBER 2008-
“5 guys around me, growling, kicking, punching, swearing….. relentlessly. I desperately wish they’d stop. I’m bleeding….bad. “Am I going to die?” I don’t know how severe it is because adrenaline is blocking the pain. The shock. The ringing in my ears. The monsterous noises from my attackers echo and mesh together like something from a nightmare. A nightmare that, for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to wake up from. I’m forced to keep fighting, to keep breathing. I keep wiping the blood out of my eyes to attempt to see where the next punch or kick is coming from. It’s pouring and now my once white t-shirt is….red. One wrong shot to the head and I know my life could end so I protect my head with all my beaten might. I repeat to myself with tears in my eyes, in desperation, “Survive Shawn, just survive.” Finally, the police arrive. Thank God. All the bystanders watched in awe of the scene taking place before them. 3 cuts (one being deep enough that resulted in 8 staples) and 3 broken ribs later, I climb to my feet and am in another world. “What just happened? Am I going to live? …..”

If I would have known this was going to be the outcome, I never would have went to visit my friends at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I would have stayed home and spared myself the near death experience. The problem is, there is no way to predict something like that. From a fun night of laughs and drinks to being alone, fighting to stay conscious, and frantically defending my life. Not one person stepped up to help me. Not one heroic act of kindness in the crowd of a hundred college students.

The whole night shifted in a matter of 30 seconds. That’s all it took to cause pain that I still feel today. 1 second would have been all it took to end my life. 6 inches is all that stood between a moderate head injury and a life threatening shot to the temple. When I was helpless and scrambling to get to my feet, waving off the violence to flag that I’ve admitted defeat, a girl stomped on my head with a stiletto heel. I remember the sharp pain, scattering through every nerve of my body. I vividly replay the scene when I touch the scar on the back of my head. This was approximately my 6th head injury. I didn’t need another one but there it was, the darkness, the depression, the suicidal demon in my head laughing, which led to an almost fatal level of addiction. If you never had a head injury, the aftermath is torturous. I was lucky, though….

I could have prosecuted my attackers to the full extent of the law. Instead, I let them go. Now I regret that after what I would learn in the future……

A year later, I came across a page on Facebook in which I follow called, “Ryan’s Rally.” Ryan had a similar altercation except the outcome was different. He has been in a coma since November 9th, 2009. He was circled and brutally beaten by Jonathon May and Austin Vantrease (who have been unjustifiably recently released from prison). He was kicked in the head and life for him and his family, forever changed that day. I know the fear that gripped him in his final conscious moments. I know the evil he saw in his attackers’ eyes. He can’t speak about it so I try to do so,  for him. The Diviney’s faith and determination to raise awareness is second to none. Frequently, I visit “Ryan’s Rally” and read articles and drop a line of support for this resilient family who I hold dear and close to my heart. They depict the word family. They optimize faith and unity. If you’re not following, stop what you’re doing and go “like” their page. They need our support and most importantly, they DESERVE our support.

This can happen to YOU. This can happen to your son, your daughter, your grandchild, your cousin, your best friend, etc. The negligence and violence are increasing while the acknowledgement of the value of each human life is declining in our world and it is truly petrifying. The insensitivity is repulsive. The ruthlessness and viciousness inside hearts and minds is growing at an uncontrollable rate. Open your eyes and hearts. Look at Ryan. Take a moment and browse through old pictures and witness the life in his eyes. That life was taken away by the hands and feet of others. By an undeniable maliscious and SENSELESS act of violence. I don’t know what the reason was for the altercation was but I know one thing, he did NOT deserve the outcome. I devoutly pray that he comes out of the coma. I hope anyone reading this or the words on “Ryan’s Rally” page realize, DEEPLY, the evil that is breeding in our world. Be aware. When you grow up and the world seems like a movie with you as the main character, you never envision this as a chapter, let alone the ending to your film.

I appreciate that Ken Diviney agreed to let me share this. To the Diviney’s, I say to you, keep that hope, love, and faith. Miracles happen every day. I’ve seen them. And to Ryan, you’re a true warrior and I’ll never in my life, forget your story. #BzBe13

Strength and blessings

Loser.

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‘LOSER.’

You hear that word thrown around as loosely as the word ‘Hello.’ It is commonly supplemented with statements like, ‘Kill yourself’, ‘You’re pathetic’, ‘You’re lame’, ‘You’re an embarrassment’, ‘You’re a joke’, and the list unfortunately and brutally goes on…….

I have heard each of these comments, plus many more. This isn’t about me, though. It’s directed at anyone reading this to possibly fill that aching in their heart and HOPEFULLY make the aggressors out there think twice before spilling violent criticism. And for those who have experienced this to feel strength that I have overcome… and……SO. WILL. YOU.

Can you find it in your hearts to look deeper at each individual instead of lashing out due to preconceived notions and stereotypes?

I can’t even stomach the thought of saying any of these things ABOUT anyone, much less to their face. Everyone is born with a chance. Most people live in hope that they will obtain significance, importance, and purpose of some kind on their journey through life. These insults wear down even the STRONGEST person. These remarks can push a healthy person to SICKNESS and a sick person to their GRAVE. My question is, how can you not see each person as someone who is a beloved son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandchild, etc? Someone who is loved and loves in return? Why can’t it be known that this kind of treatment is morally UNACCEPTABLE. I may never find these answers….. but that won’t stop me from laying the question and truth in front of your face right now.

I read something where a man was trying to exercise to save his life. He was critically out of shape. The doctors strongly suggested he work out or plan for death. This gut wrenching story stayed with me for an entire day, bringing me extreme sadness. The man was determined to live! He was on a strict diet and workout regimen and sticking to it! He lost 90 lbs!! AWESOME!

Then,  he received an anonymous letter in his mailbox that told him to ‘stop jogging his fat all over the neighborhood. My kids don’t need to see that.’

REALLY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? How DARE that person who wrote those cruel words. I hope they understand the capacity of which they injured this person. I hope they realize that that man may now cry himself to sleep and rather DIE than risk any more embarrassment. He may indeed, never exercise again….

What I’m saying is, there are no losers. There are people who work long, grueling hours for low wages. There are people who work 2, 3, even 4 jobs just to pay bills. Those are not losers. Those people are in fact fighters…. survivors. Those people STILL, in the face of exhaustion and pain, forge on with that one final spec of hope inside their hearts that maybe, just maybe, one day, they will be rewarded. It will pay off…

On the contrary, there are people that have laid all their chips on the table so many times that they have no chips left to stack. There are people who have given up and accepted their fate. There are people that received enough of those insults for a period of time that they have been stripped of any confidence that was once available. Was your comment the one that made them throw in the towel? Was your insensitivity enough to make them lose all desire to live? Yes, we each have THAT kind of power.

So, who are you?  Are you someone who’s killing people or are you someone who’s breathing life and hope into others? I have cried, put holes in walls, and felt so embarrassed that I wanted my life to be over immediately. I have been up against walls my whole life and criticized for my passion and purpose. Did that stop me? You’re reading this so you know the answer. NO, it didn’t. Am I stronger than others to be able to withstand extreme negativity and ridicule? NO. I simply made the decision to make people feel the opposite of what those insults made me feel like. I’ve set out on a journey to not only better my life but to empower others. I’d be lying if I said some of the comments didn’t almost kill me. I thought about ending it…seriously. That would take the gripping pain away. THAT.. would silence the hate…That is the answer…

I was a man who had so much self hatred that I broke countless mirrors at the sight of my face. When interacting with others, I expected to be laughed at. I looked down when I talked to people. I absolutely felt inferior to everyone, at one time. Well, NOT ANYMORE…

You may not agree with everyone’s behaviors or views but that leaves you no right to mutter the words ‘loser’ about anyone. They have every right to a good life as you do. They know something you don’t and if you stand over them in judgement and superiority, you’ll never learn something that might be life changing that they could have possibly passed onto YOU.

In conclusion, Words can kill. I’ve seen it many times. It almost happened to me. You almost never read this post. It’s that serious…..” #BzBe13

Strength and blessings.

Victim or Hero?

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Hi! Are you a demoralized victim or a tragic hero? Ask yourself. Do you perseverate and obsess over the past or do you embrace the present moment and opportunity to do better? Some people use their mistakes to anchor them and as an excuse to not even attempt to be great in fear that they will somehow end up embarrassed or made a fool. Well, let me tell you. After you go through adversity and disappointment, you can surely play off of that the rest of your life.  You can use that to receive pity and hand outs. You can take miniscule chances, walk cautious, and every time you fail a half-assed effort, it’ll get easier and easier to accept yourself as a loser and attach yourself/define your character as your past mishaps and failures. I did this for many years. Everyone saw the wound. I used it as a bilboard shouting to the world,”I’m a misfit. I am broken. I am not worthy and undeserving of success. I surrender. Feel sorry for me.” Then, a shift occurred. You know when a storm passes and the sun comes out? Yeah, it was like that. After a 5 year storm, I finally let the sun shine through. I transitioned from the demoralized victim to the tragic hero. I wasn’t supposed to succeed. Many told me I never would. With almost every piece of my being, I believed them. But one day I woke up and admitted that, yes, what I went through was Hell but it’s up to me to choose if I want to stay there or use it as a catapult to a new level of thinking and being. Use it as gasoline to make the fire in my heart bigger or use it as 20 gallons of water to put it out completely. I got tired of being the victim. I got exhausted with defending my lack of ambition and making excuses. Look in the mirror. That person you see is ready. That person is healing or maybe even healed contrary to what your self sabotaging brain tells you. Say to yourself,”I will not let my past ruin my present and future ANYMORE!” Limitations are really self-made illusions. What I mean is, they are not real. They are as fabricated as the “boogie man” from your childhood. There is limitless opportunity to change. There is ample avenues you can travel to not only improve your current situation but to better your overall quality of life. I’ll end this piece with a quote. It is something I wrote when I decided to turn the page and be confident in the new me. “I shut the door to my past but I’m not going to lock it. Because I need to peek to be reminded what it costed…all my losses.” Be proud of where you came from but don’t stay put. You can do better. You deserve the world. Go get it relentlessly and fearlessly. Strength and blessings. #BzBe13