About Tripp

My name is Tripp. I am the father of two amazing children, who live with their mother and her husband about nine hours north of me. I have an extraordinary relationship with their mother, my ex-wife. She, her husband, my ex-fiancé and I are a united representation of love, forgiveness, and the happiness of our children. I am a musician, and have self-released three albums over the last twelve years. After a musical hiatus of several years, I am returning to the music scene with new material and a kickass band. I am a registered nurse and team leader within a rural emergency medical facility. My co-workers are a diverse and wonderful group. My job affords me the distinct and welcomed privilege of accompanying my fellow human beings through some of the most trying times of their lives. I have personally experienced a miraculous shift from a loathing and questioning of life to a passionate love and adoration of it, and I am committed to causing that shift within the lives of those around me. Cheers.

About A Breakup, Part 4 of 5: The Fallout

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Note: Make no mistake. About A Breakup is a story of hope and overcoming adversity. In order to experience a breakthrough, you must experience a breakdown first. Don’t get all caught up in the tragedy. Understand that any descriptions of tragic events are written  for the purpose of illustrating the breakthroughs which will follow. Stay with me, friends.

Meltdown Final 2Yes, it’s a sinister image. I thought about inserting a dainty unicorn shitting Skittles here, but let’s be honest. It’s The Fallout, after all: the single biggest reason people stay in their shit job, or continue to enable a life-sucking friend or family member, or, yes, remain in a miserable relationship. Because none of us wants to endure the temporary aftermath of an atom bomb, even as the whole universe is flashing neon marquises to a different life, one with possibility, of hope, of peace. We stay where it’s comfortable. As Donna, a dear friend and mentor, once pointed out to me while I was wrestling with making a choice regarding the breakup,

On an emotional pain scale (metaphors paraphrased here), with zero being the tranquil offspring of Gandhi and Mother Teresa, and ten being Ted Bundy on Angel Dust with kidney stones, people will tolerate a nagging four or a five for YEARS, even for LIFE. We are seldom willing to experience a temporary ten in order to ascend to the life of our dreams.

The Fray LyricThe Fallout is the period of transition between the immediate pain of The Atom Bomb (rewind to part 3 for a refresher) and the realization of the uncertain changes about to transpire. The fallout from my 2009 divorce (before my “enlightenment”) lasted about two grueling years.
The fallout from my broken engagement began to dissipate after just a few months. I’ll explain how I’ve learned to expedite the closure process later.

For now, let me toss a philosophical nugget your way (calm your tits and stay with me here; it’s a NUGGET, not a dialogue from a Plato). In life events, e.g. breakups, there’s what actually occurs, and there’s all that other horseshit that you tell yourself and everybody else about what occurs.

Simple example: Some guy cuts you off on your hurried way to work. Done. That’s all that happened. Here’s the horseshit (and what will have you wrapped in emotional turmoil for years to come): How dare this jerkoff cut me off on my way to work! Doesn’t he know where I’m going is WAY more important than where he’s going? Inconsiderate asshole! That’s the problem with the world today! A bunch of stupid, ignorant-ass people who don’t know how to drive and are making everyone else’s life a living hell!

Anyway, using the above nugget, I’m going to tell you exactly what happened, minus my horseshit story, which I had admittedly so painstakingly and methodically written out, so that the reader might grasp all of my ridiculously incorrigible teen thirty-something angst.

Here’s what happened. Alex and I make it a point to be straight-forward about the situation with the kids, to whom she’d become like a second mother. We sit right down with them the day after the Atom Bomb and explain what’s going on. As usual, they take it (as kids are so prone to do) so much better than we feared they would. Their resilience both humbles and astounds me, even to this day. They’ve thrived beyond measure, and I attribute this largely to our commitment to promote love and unity as opposed to bitterness and animosity.

Two days after, most of Alex’s immediate family arrive from out of state to provide emotional support and to help her pack up. I always admired her family’s tireless commitment to each other.

Three weeks after, she submits her two-week notice at work, stating she has no more reason to stay here. I help organize her house for packing.

Five weeks after, she makes the permanent move to Florida.

I could paint you a vivid mental picture of all the emotional pain and complexities, but for what? To indulge my mind’s (inaccurate) regurgitation of what a horrible person I am for making a move toward personal happiness? To entertain my mind’s desire to regret something, anything? It’s in the past, and it’s resolved. If you want to experience an expedited recovery, practice separating what ACTUALLY occurred from your emotionally driven STORY ABOUT what occurred.

Did it hurt? Hell yes. Did I have bouts of anxiety? Sometimes. Did I think the pain and heartache and guilt would never, ever, ever end? Absolutely. Vinny Bad DaysAnd yet, here I am on the other side, killing it with complete closure, completely happy in the relationship she’s found with her new guy. I couldn’t be happier for her, and we remain good friends.

Remember, my friends, your mind will gravitate toward the worst possible (most unlikely and illogical) scenario. If you lose your job, you’ll never be rehired by anyone and will die a penniless bum; if you don’t make the cut in America’s Got Talent, you’re a no-talent loser who has no choice but to go back to your 40-hour a week office job, forever; if you lose romance, that’s your last shot at love, and you’ll die a lonely old codger who pines over the one who got away; etc. Let go of the worst case! There are a million other possibilities between your current situation and the worst case scenario.

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

YOU CAN AND MUST ENDURE THE FALLOUT in its entirety before making any life-altering decisions!

The duration will differ depending on several variables, but know this: If you choose to return to your ex, for example, while any pain or lack of closure exists from the Atom Bomb, you will very likely make a decision you regret, a decision that is swayed by fear and influenced by a sensational thirst to return to that warm, fuzzy, familiar (shitty) comfort zone.

This is precisely the reason that miserable couples repeatedly reconcile after splitting (I know VERY well from personal experience). We don’t allow ourselves the time to let the fear-based thoughts dissipate. We hear the fear screaming like a banshee! Where will I go?! What will I do?! Will I find anyone else?! The kids are doomed! I’m so lonely! And so on. And we go running back to what feels familiar, even as our hearts resist returning, knowing that misery is waiting upon our return. We don’t allow ample time for self-discovery, to explore what led us to question in the first place. Stick it out! Use the fallout to discover what you really want in life!

Here are two empowering agreements that Alex and I made:

  1. A firm commitment to the happiness, peace, and wellbeing of the other, no matter what.
  2. A refusal to consider reconciliation as a possibility until we had thoroughly explored our own incompletions. As a dear friend and mentor once told me, two incomplete people cannot create a complete relationship. And we both began to become very aware of our own incompletions in retrospect.

As it happens, we stood strong, did some self-exploration, and the breakup stuck. We both agree without question that it was a decision that was true to both our hearts. We are both a testament that peace and friendship CAN exist between exes (the same remains true with my ex-wife).

Stay tuned for “Rebuilding,” the fifth and final entry in the About A Breakup series. Cheers.

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Room 1: The First Patient I Ever Lost

8765547_cb84ee4533_zI’m no stranger to patient death. If you’re going to be a nurse (or anyone in the medical field for that matter), it’s something you will deal with routinely. This post is in reference to a patient who suffered a critical event while under my direct supervision and did not survive, about five years ago. I was a rookie who had seen death a hundred times under the care of another person, but I’d never personally lost a patient.

Mr. Z was a drunk. He was a frequent flyer. He would use the money he should have been spending on his seizure medications to buy booze. Then he would get wasted, have violent seizures, and his wife would bring him to the ER. He would come up swinging, too, fists throwing out wild haymakers at all of us after the seizures subsided. We’d have to restrain him. Then he’d come to his senses and apologize profusely. This happened once every few weeks.

In my mind, I can still see his wife, always casually strolling through the ER to the waiting room as we began treating him. She’d be carrying a small suitcase and a blanket, preparing for another few nights in the hospital.

On one such occasion, Mr. Z was abnormally lethargic. He didn’t do his usual Mike Tyson routine after his seizure. Dr. Y ordered a CT scan of his head. I approached Room 1 to transport him to the radiology department. He was asleep when I entered. His blood pressure was a little low, but his pulse and respirations were normal.

The radiology tech accompanied me, and we wheeled him down the hall on the stretcher; the whole trip took less than five minutes. I kept track of his heart rate and respirations throughout. He remained stable. We slid him onto the examination table.

And just like that, he stopped breathing. I quickly checked for a pulse. Nothing. We quickly slid him back onto the ER stretcher, where I began CPR. I ordered the CT tech to call back to the ER and prepare for a Code Blue (patient not breathing). She made the call and steered the stretcher back to the ER with me perched on the side, doing compressions the whole way.

My team were at the ready as we wheeled Mr. Z back to Room 1 and went swiftly to work. Despite our best efforts, within fifteen minutes, it became obvious he wasn’t going to make it. Dr. Y announced the time of death. It all had happened so fast. I was dumbfounded.

Dr. Y, a seasoned veteran of medicine, cast a glance across the room and immediately sensed my struggle to process what had just happened. She marched toward me with purpose, grasped me firmly by the shoulders, looked into my eyes, and stated,

“It’s not your fault.”

I looked cluelessly into her eyes.

“It’s not. Your. Fault.” She repeated again.

I wept.

“Tripp. It’s not. Your. Fault.” She was insistent this time, firm.

I nodded. I stepped outside, pulled myself together and finished out the shift. I’ve often pondered why I was so upset, and over the years it has become apparent to me. We treat human beings, without question, without prejudice, without judgment. Whatever your race, your gender, your sexuality, your background, we will treat you.

As an emergency nurse, whenever I feel myself compartmentalizing inefficiently, feeling burned out, exhibiting jaded behavior, getting frustrated, I reflect back on Mr. Z in Room 1, and I am reminded that human beings are human beings. A life is a life. And a life lost before its time is a tragedy. Period.

To my dear fellow nurses this 2017 Nurses Week, you sometimes carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are a special breed. You see more disturbing images in a typical week than most people will see in a lifetime. You are loved, you are adored, and you are a vital part of the transformation of this world. Take time to accept the gratitude and appreciation that is declared to you, for you are all rockstars.

Cheers.

Life and Death: A Different Sort Of Birthday

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3408605763_92d0bc3049_b   5th of July, 2015. Before dawn. Most of the east coast is still sleeping.

In my typical fashion, I reach a lazy hand over the bedside table and smack the snooze button for the tenth time, annoyed at the damned ear-piercing alarm for performing the job I assigned to it. I finally muster the strength to drag my carcass out of bed to prep for another 12-hour round of mental taxation as an ER charge nurse.

Silence.

I live with my folks currently, so I take extra care not to disturb anyone as I do my morning routine. It’s a Sunday at that, so I won’t be crossing morning paths with my dad on our respective ways to work. I trudge down the hallway into the kitchen, scarf a few spoonfuls of Apple Jacks, down a glass of water, pop half a 5-Hour Energy (I know, I know; I’m an over-caffeinated work in progress), and quietly shut myself into the bathroom, still half asleep.

I kneel and turn the cold bath faucet on as part of my wakeup routine, to shock myself awake, and to tame my chaotic morning mane. A few seconds before plunging my head under the running water, I could swear I hear the muffled sound of my dad yelling in the next room. Weird. They usually sleep in on Sundays. I turn the water off and listen.

Silence.

We have this geriatric Rat terrier who, whilst in her prime, once tried to check out permanently via school bus tire. After miraculously sustaining zero injuries, the skid marks across her back faded, and she lived many more years. We’ve considered admitting her into a canine nursing home on account of her half dozen life-threatening diagnoses. Dear Lord, I thought, she’s finally hopped the twig to Abraham’s bosom.

I rise to make sure everything is OK. Of a sudden, before my hand reaches the door, it swings violently open, my dad gripping the knob with white knuckles, breathing heavily . . . focused . . . alarmed.

“Hey. Can you come check on your mom?”

My heart skips a beat as the adrenaline permeates. We rush to the bedroom, where I find her lying in bed, cold, listless, pale, sweating . . . and not breathing. I recognize the signs of cardiac failure immediately. I’m struck with a fear.

Stop. Breathe. Keep it together.

I collect my thoughts as my dad dials 911. He begins a series of trips in and out of the house, alternating between flagging down the ambulance and checking on his beloved wife.

“Hey mom! How you doing?” I shout in jovial terror, struggling to maintain my positivity as I put my fingertips to the side of her neck. I feel a very faint, very slow pulse. “Hey Mom!” I shout again.

She suddenly takes a shallow breathe, moans and whispers faintly, “I’m fine. I feel a little sick. Don’t call the ambulance.” Good. At least she’s herself. Even near death, she’s worried about stressing us.

Then she mumbles that she thinks she’s going to pass out. I watch the life slowly depart from her eyes. She stops breathing again. I instinctively look for the patient Code Cart which contains every life-saving medication known to man, shock pads, heart monitor, oxygen, compression board, intravenous setup. But alas, I’m not in the ER. All I have are my hands and my scrambled brain. I refocus and reach to lower her to the floor. I prepare to start compressions on my mom. Just before I lift her, she takes another shallow breath.

“Ugh. I feel just awful. I’ll be fine. Really. You don’t need to call anyone.”

I put a hand to her cheek and look into her heavy eyes. I take a deep breath and control a lingering tear as I pull it back together.

“Mom, I need you to trust me.”

She hesitates. I see irony in her eyes: This wonderful woman, to whom I’ve entrusted my life for so many years, now asked to place her life into my hands.

“OK, Tripp. I trust you.” Her lip quivers as she fights a tear, that dreadfully liberating release of control. Once more the life fades from her eyes. Once more I prepare for compressions. Once more she takes in a breath and comes back. We ride this roller coaster four to five times for what seems like an eternity.

My dad finally rushes in with the EMS crew. Mom seems to be returning to her senses, and is fully conversational by the time they lift her into the back of the ambulance. I step into the truck to tell her I love her and that she’s in good hands. The paramedic, a personal friend, runs a cardiac monitor strip and we both agree on the probable diagnosis.

We slam the back doors, the engine revs and they speed away as the day breaks, lights flashing. I trot back inside to help my dad get some things packed for a hospital stay. Of a sudden, the world stops as an hour of suppressed chaotic emotions surge to the conscious surface. We hug each other briefly, have a small meltdown, pull it back together and finish packing for a few romantic nights of white walls, sterile breezes, incessant beeping and waiting. Lots of waiting.

The cardiologists did stellar work on a heart so big that she probably feels guilty for “burdening her family” as she reads this post, as if she had any control over the electrical impulses of her own heart. There is no burden, only love. And we’re glad mom decided to stick around a while longer. Her recent birthday reignites my utmost gratitude for life.

Take heart my friends. We can live in fear of what we cannot change, or we can live with gratitude for what we would never change. Be bold. Seek to cherish your life and your loved ones, not out of fear of losing them, but out of simple love for every precious moment.

Thank you, mom. I love you dearly.

Image by J E Smith at https://www.flickr.com/photos/statusfrustration/3408605763

 

When The Shit Goes Down

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dave-a-roni/9139212242/in/photolist-eVARoS-ekxtuc-9PH5uo-9sQ8XQ-2332AC-9aVVgC-vh7gy-388qZD-7yDxrs-eZqzEk-L52ad-5CZAJk-q8PpT4-5DCLMf-9aSV6X-vgZua-8N7pZC-5Dytu2-fsce-4xa8u9-5CZApB-5H4Pqp-5H4RXi-pL5BGS-7WL2xF-5H97Jo-3oXGi1-5BBbJS-5BB7E7-5BwXE4-5CZAzZ-5BATtj-5BAXzm-5BwJKF-5BwMLa-5CZAW6-LRd5E-fscg-9nWac-99rVL-6DM5Cn-g85jGT-8EcC1Z-3oTbez-8GhZPR-8Gm9Sw-4PKiiK-f6ZQXT-7X7TCX-8LSqF3  This is an aside that loosely relates to About A Breakup, Part 3 of 5: The Atom Bomb. The shit has gone down a lot in my own life this year, and it coincidentally appears to be happening in the lives of several of my closest friends and students as of late. If you get nothing else from this post, get this: Every time the shit has gone down in my life, and I mean EVERY time, in the thick of it, I decided that life would never get any better, and I should just get used to the mediocrity, trapped and doomed to days of despair and anguish. And yet, here I am.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/frf_kmeron/5950142415/in/photolist-a4N33k-a4QTfh-a4QX59-a4NCkr-a4R1v1-a4RdF9-a4RcjU-a4NkXx-a4QP6f-a4RbiJ-5HmacA-5N1Znh-bdZ8zn-8qWLWV-5N24w9-5ikbwi-6oeCPH-s5q8R-5irge8-5vghbE-bUpnia-mYEKM-a4Nu2i-a4R4L5-a4NbwH-a4Ri2J-a4QWAY-a4MVhF-a4N3En-a4Ndo4-a4RiRC-a4Nef6-a4Nwnt-a4QVyj-y8h3N4-2G6xqL-5tpuR-mYEKW-2RhMm-5HgRqp-5HgRkn-5HgRnc-5HmadS-5HmaiG-acW5tV-7gyXAf-mi94K-oq5Xr6-oo7Szm-oq5Wsx

Have a look back at your life. It has happened to everyone who has ever breathed air on this planet. You lose your job; you’re struck by a devastating illness; you’re flung headlong into a dramatic breakup or divorce; somebody close to you dies unexpectedly; you holy piss off the wrong person or people; you put $10k of the kids’ college fund on Roulette red and go broke; you have a falling out with a family member; you have an “FML” moment and drink your bodyweight in Tequila and get hospitalized for alcohol poisoning; you have an alternate “FML” moment and sleep with a few random strangers and next thing you know you’re being treated for some syphi-gono-herpes super bug; and so on, and so on, and the shit absolutely, undeniably, unquestionably . . . goes down. In my personal experience, it’s usually one small- to medium-sized incident in a string of incidents that finally pushes you over the edge, and has you going all Jerry Maguire, flagrantly leaving his corporate job in the famous meltdown scene.

In my own life, the shit has gone down many, many times; so many, in fact, that I’d be hard pressed to remember them all. There was that one time in Nashville in 2003 when I had FINALLY gotten a decent band together, and we were making gig plans, when our daughter Em was born several weeks early; our house was over an hour commute from the hospital where Em had to stay in ICU for weeks; then on the day we finally got to take her home, an ambulance backed into our sole means of transportation, ripping the rear door from the hinges, rendering us without transportation for days while it was repaired; we racked up an astronomical hospital bill and had to sell the new house we’d bought two months prior; finally, my demo had been rejected for the 159th time by yet another label, and in a fit of rage, I drop kicked every last one of my remaining 1000 CD debuts’ barcoded asses into the neighborhood dumpster as the neighbors chowed down on popcorn and wine and enjoyed that evening’s entertainment.

THAT’S OKAY!!! IT’S JUST OUR ONLY FUCKING CAR!!!!!! -Postpartum Catherine (Em’s mom) to the mortified EMS guy, profusely apologizing for clipping our car.

Or the time in 2009: fresh divorce; enter nursing school a month later; flunk pharmacology; wait a year until pharm is offered again whilst getting a night shift job in the ER to pay bills; spend the next nine months working 7:00p to 7:00a, going straight to class and/or clinical after work from 8:00a – 2:00p, sleeping from 2:30p-6:30p, and going back to the ER for another shift; forced to sell my favorite truck because I can’t transport my kids in it when I have them for visitation; buy a piece of shit sedan that starts to fall apart during the first week of ownership; find out my kids are moving to California; get one call a day from collectors threatening to garnish my wages for old hospital bills; final meltdown happened after graduation. See “A Prelude.”

It’ll affect my credit score? (Maniacally) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Lady, I’m pretty sure about two years ago my score dipped below zero! You want to settle this medical bill?! Well take a number! -Me on mental breakdown day to a collector

My friends, I’ve coached a whole bunch of people during their “Shit Goes Down” times. Here’s what I’ve learned from my experiences and theirs:

  • I have never experienced a transformation without first experiencing a meltdown. The greater the meltdown, the greater the transformation. One of the greatest transformations of my entire life was a direct result of being chipped away, bit by bit, little by little, until I finally caved and hit rock bottom. And from rock bottom, I could offer no resistance to complete reformation. When you find yourself looking up to see the bottom, the doorway to transformation is right there. We are too often so overwhelmed by the pain and hardship that we cannot see the doorway. See if you can briefly let go of your perception and consider that you are on the verge of something amazing. 
  • We human beings become very attached to our problems. We identify with them. We think our problems make us unique (sidenote: they don’t). We will go to great lengths to prove to ourselves (and many times to show those around us) how much harder our lives are than anyone else’s. I’ve done this many times in my own life, and I’ve seen it many times in others. Observe the conversations you hear on a daily basis. I find it interesting that most human beings would rather argue about who has the worst problems,  the most bills, the most hardship, than whose life is the most vivacious and empowering.  Consider that you may have some degree of pride in being able to survive all that you’re weathering, and that you may be afraid that taking actions to pull yourself out of the rut may strip you of your identity. 
  • Emotional pain is familiar territory for just about everyone. And we LOVE familiarity. We are terrified of the unknown, terrified of stepping outside of our comfort zones, even if there was a great chance that it would lead to complete liberation. Hell, I would go so far as to say even if liberation was GUARANTEED, we’d hesitate if it meant stepping outside of our comfort zones. Consider that any attempt to create change in your life will come with some degree of discomfort. You must be brave enough to try something new, or has your old way of approaching life been invigorating for you? As dear friend and mentor Donna once told me:

Look at the emotional pain scale, with 0 being complete freedom and 10 being absolute misery. We human beings will live for years with a nagging 4 or 5 out of 10 because it’s familiar, rather than take an action that may BRIEFLY cause 10 out of 10 pain, even though that action has the potential to get us to a 0, complete freedom.

Finally, a word about perception. Shortly after my breakup with Alex, I was hanging out with some friends.

One of the guys said, “I heard you’re having some trouble with the woman.”

“Yeah,” I replied with my usual melancholy. “We broke up.”

“Congratulations,” he said.

It shocked me a little. Up until that point, everyone I’d told had showered me with empathetic phrases and angst-filled words of support. Not that I fully agreed with my friend’s way of thinking, but it momentarily jolted me from the perception to which I was so tightly clinging.

Change your way of thinking, my friends. Consider that things are not always as they appear. A new perception will breed new actions, which will breed new results.

To vitality, my friends. 

Poop And Love, Entry 4: I. Am. Iron Man. (Success!!!!!!!)

IMG_8377IMG_8401Let me just go ahead and throw this out there: I blew the roof off of the goal I created in Poop And Love, Entry 3: Project Iron Man: To break my personal body mass index record, coming out of my worst ulcerative colitis flare since my diagnosis in 2003. I’ll share the scoop with you, if you will agree to be infected with positivity and sexy confidence.

A QUICK REFRESHER

In January of 2015, I went into my worst ulcerative colitis flare since my 2003 diagnosis. From January to early May, I would drop from about 145 lb. to 122 lb. due to this chronic bastard &*%$ illness. That’s the closest I’ve come to my 2003 record low of 112 lb., when I was first hospitalized. Here’s what 122 lb. looks like (pretty sure the hair weighs around 10 lb.):

From January to May, I spent a whole buttload (badump, chhhh!) of time in the usual self-pity, anger, resentment, yada yada yada. I finally had enough, I got some stellar coaching from a few friends and mentors, I got off my sappy ass, and I created a plan to gain the weight back and become a confident, sexy-ass beast.  I ran with this change in mentality and created my first goal: To return to what I weighed before the 2015 flare (145 lb.). I started with pushups and a 20-lb. kettlebell, which I affectionately named Rose Bud. I improved quickly and in June moved up to a 35-lb. kettlebell. I named it Pain. By July, I’d met my first goal. This is me in June at 140 lb., and closing in on my first goal:
IMG_1242 (1)

On September 24, 2015, after I’d maintained my original bodyweight for a few months, I created a brand new goal to push it a step further: Break my personal body mass index record by gaining an additional 12 lb. of muscle in 32 days. Easy right? (Yeah, I have a lot to say about that, and I’ll address all the naysaying canker blossoms in a later post). I digress. I’m what you call a hard gainer, an ectomorph. I’ve been skin and bones all my life. Combine that with ulcerative colitis and you have a condition that I like to call Jack Skellington Syndrome.

In a society where being slim is the Holy Frickin’ Grail of all that’s sacred, maybe that seems like a luxury. But when you come from a background (as I do) of always the weak one, the frail one, the bullied one, the last one picked for sports, etc., then being slim serves you about as well as a Motrin for chlamydia. It’s all about perception, my friends, and everyone has a unique one. For more on the life of an ectomorph, see Poop And Love – Entry 2: You Are A Sexy Beast. In the spirit of being fit for life and a confident, sexy-ass beast, on September 24, 2015, I got started. I charted my progress:

Calorie_Count____Weight_Tracking

I used the kettlebell workouts from Pavel Tsatsouline’s Enter The Kettlebell; I added knife-handed diamond pushups; and I threw in some good old fashioned deadlifts using a standard barbell and some stacked concrete blocks. These were some of the toughest workouts I’ve ever experienced. I occasionally found myself dry heaving during and after. To build muscle, you must push them to COMPLETE FAILURE to trigger the release of growth hormone. I discovered that this takes tremendous mental discipline. When your mind says you’re done, you usually have a few more reps left. You have to push yourself beyond your mental limits.

And yes, you have to diet to gain weight too (and even more so with ulcerative colitis, because you also have to avoid foods that can trigger another flare). Sorry to suck the Febreeze from the naysayer’s last BM, but it’s damn sure not as simple as scarfing Big Macs and fries and donuts and Funyuns all day. You have to limit your sugar intake. You have to limit your fat intake. You have to measure your carbs and protein. And you have to count calories like Dustin Hoffman counts toothpicks in Rain ManBy the  October 26, 2015 deadline that I declared on September 24, I had exceeded my goal by a pound, weighing in at 158 lb. BOOSH. Here’s what that looks like:

IMG_8255

Stepping into the arena, declaring a goal, and blowing the roof off of it will light you up. And it’s within the realm of possibility for anyone. I got so proficient with the 35-lb. kettlebell that I moved up once again to a 53 lb. kettlebell. I named it Rebirth. Here are some expected (and unexpected) results:

  • A back of steel, and hips and shoulders that feel like freaking machines.
  • A core that’s stronger than ever.
  • Years of frequent shoulder pain, pops and crackles have disappeared.
  • A resting heart rate of under 60 BPM.
  • A new weird-ass bunch of bulging veins in my upper biceps and shoulders; I haven’t decided if they’re sexy or creepy.
  • I can totally jiggle my tits at will.
  • A return of confidence.

I’m not Bodybuilding Magazine‘s next cover model, but I don’t really give a crap. This project wasn’t based on comparison to anyone else. I did it as a testament of personal power and discipline, and as a means to light you up, to inspire you to dream up something and go after it. Let me tell you a secret about experiencing the miraculous in life: Declare a goal, something big, something that scares the shit out of you, something that seems impossible, and then make a relentless commitment to deliver on it, even if you have no idea how you’re going to do it.

I like to make promises that I’m not sure I can keep, and then figure out how to keep them. – Sophia Amoruso

I’m not superhuman. Hell, maybe I am. But if that’s true, then so are you. If I can do it, anyone can. Change your mentality. Stop obsessing over all the reasons it won’t work, and start obsessing over all the reasons it WILL.

Mural1

Dream big. LIVE BIGGER.  

tripp.life

About A Breakup, Part 3 of 5: The Atom Bomb

Note: Make no mistake. “About A Breakup” is a story of hope and overcoming adversity. In order to experience a breakthrough, you must experience a breakdown first. Don’t get all caught up in the tragedy. Understand that any descriptions of tragic events are written  for the purpose of illustrating the breakthroughs which will follow. Stay with me, friends.

Tyson QuoteI’m standing alone in the small parking lot of a local nature trail. I hear her peel out with a vengeance, that engine madly revving like a speed dragster that can’t get out of first gear, fading slowly until the only sound remaining is the wind moving through the trees. I start the first of a half dozen laps around the entire park.

I had a plan on this day, which turned into an expectation (bad idea). A solid plan with no holes. A plan that did not involve guilt-stricken explanations or crying or screaming tires punishing the black top. Or second thoughts.

A few hours before, we are wandering to the end of the trail, discussing light topics like the kids, and work, before moving on to deeper things, and the biggest shouting match we’d ever had. She apologizes for some of the things she’d said in anger recently. I apologize as well. I am positive she knows where this is going. I’m wrong. 

“I’m tired,” I say. “I’m tired of this tension. I’m tired of arguing. I’m tired of being in purgatory with our relationship.”

I watch as she comes to realize the conversation about to transpire. We’d had breakup conversations many times before, but this one is different. The threat feels imminent. I watch her go into shock and shut down. The details are fuzzy. I recall her telling me to go ahead and cut the cord.

“What’s there to talk about?” she scoffs. “If we’re breaking up, let’s break up.”

I find myself getting furious at the ball being in my court. Again. In retrospect, I see her need for closure, to leave no chance of getting sucked back in, of false hope. I get it. She would later admit that she’d felt the same way for a while, and would apologize for projecting her anger onto me.

“So I guess that’s it then.” She picks up her bag and begins the laborious trudge back to the entrance. I catch up and walk beside her. I feel like a traitor, and this will become one of the biggest personal challenges in the days to come: overcoming my mind’s compelling argument that I’m a bad person and a failure (I DID overcome; stay with me, don’t get caught up in the bad shit).

I watch her move from sadness to despondency, from despondency to fury; Irish-Italian Catholic fury. I’d witnessed this unique fury exactly three times in the six years I’d known her, twice toward another, once toward me. In each instance, I briefly feared for the life of the party on the receiving end.

When we finally reach the parking lot, she gets into her car and asks me if there’s anything else. I make a half-assed effort to have her see that we’ve exhausted every option. Didn’t we try everything? I realize I’m speaking as much to myself as I am to her. Regardless, she’s not listening. She mutters a goodbye under her breath before speeding away.

In the half dozen laps I make around the park afterward, I recall the futility of attaching oneself to an expectation, and the power of creating possibility. Expectations are static. You lose, you fail. You win, you realize it’s nothing special. Possibility, on the other hand, is different. You lose, you create a new possibility. You win, you create a new possibility.

Though I don’t believe it in that moment (remember, just because it sucks now doesn’t mean it will always suck), in the days to come, I will recover. And I will conquer. And so will she.

Somewhere in the distant past, I sold myself on the belief that there’s not a tragedy in this life that will make me give up. You have to decide that sort of thing BEFORE tragedy strikes. 11055343_10206828659705775_5582084695053198937_oI shared that belief with some of my closest peers and mentors, who true to their commitment to love and support their fellow human beings, incessantly and tirelessly reminded me that this is who I am. A survivor. A gladiator. Fearless. And the same applies to you who are reading this. Stand on me. It DOES get better. I swear.

Look for “About A Breakup, Part 4 of 5: The Fallout.”

Cheers.

About A Breakup, Part 2 of 5: Courage (The Cold War)

Note: Make no mistake. “About A Breakup” is a story of hope and overcoming adversity. In order to experience a breakthrough, you must experience a breakdown first. Don’t get all caught up in the tragedy. Understand that any descriptions of tragic events are written  for the purpose of illustrating the breakthroughs which will follow. Stay with me, friends.

Sometime in January of 2015, as I recall, I depart Alex’s (my fiancé’s) house as usual to start my week’s nursing work rotation. Moments before, I had hugged and kissed her as http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/alan-alda/images/26135914/title/alan-alda-photoshe left to begin HER nursing night shift. After her departure, as I’d done a hundred times before, I hugged Zeke, the sweetest dog ever, kissed his floppy ear, gave him a treat, locked Alex’s house, and departed.

Shortly after leaving her driveway, I’m struck with a trepidation, a panic. Call it a dark premonition. I have a momentarily vivid vision of life without Alex, of splitting up, of the relationship we’d built coming to an end.

She calls a little while later to make sure I’d left on time to get ample sleep. I mention the premonition to her, the fear still lingering, my voice unsteady. We chat about it briefly, and she assures me (as I’d grown accustomed to assuring so many friends and mentees), that no matter what, it will all work out.

About a year prior, we had begun to carry on some deep discussions with regard to the future of our relationship, having become engaged to be married. I know, I know. Work your shit out BEFORE popping the question. I think we’d found a peace with moving forward, even if every single minute detail wasn’t hammered out. Nonetheless, we found ourselves ebbing and flowing through some challenging conversations, and my heart was uneasy.

We would discuss, create a plan for how to generate new possibilities within the relationship, work the plan, and return to security and comfort. But we’d always somehow find ourselves back to being distanced, with lingering tension. So we’d discuss again. Make a plan again. Experience security and comfort for a time, and the distance would return. Again.

I had a few more of those random dark premonitions, each as vivid as the last. But I became well-versed in burying those gut feelings. It was too painful to think about. Envisioning all we’d worked for, and all the shit we’d have to deal with if we actually DID break up: relocating, the kids, the emotional aftermath, discussions with family, etc. I don’t recall how long I buried what my gut was saying, but it was a number of months at least. I went to great lengths to avoid what my gut was telling me. I feared the pain of change, despite the ultimate potential for happiness.

So I repeatedly resisted the urge to explore what was creating this unrest between us. I suppressed my intuition. If any feeling crept up that I couldn’t explain and centered around the future of our relationship, I avoided it like a drug seeker avoids Tylenol and NSAIDS. Again. And again. And again. In retrospect, though our relationship wasn’t what I would consider whole or complete (because WE weren’t whole and complete with ourselves, as I would discover), there was plenty about it that worked, we were comfortable, and neither of us was willing to challenge that. 

Somewhere around July 2015, the tension rose. We had a few heated arguments. I was angry at her for always putting the ball in my court to make a decision about where we stood. Of course, I should have been equally as angry at myself for doing the same damned thing. It’s like neither of us wanted to be the one to pull the trigger.

There was a ton of inner conflict and anxiety Waiting For The Wordwhile considering this choice. It’s like tapping into more courage than you can ever remember, in order to move on your gut instinct in pursuit of happiness, all the while praying that your gut instinct is wrong. 

I didn’t have it all worked out. I didn’t have it all tied down. But in late July 2015, with no particular reason other than I wasn’t happy (hell, can anyone explain gut instinct?), I made plans to break off the engagement with Alex. I think I reached a point where I just couldn’t ignore what my intuition was telling me any longer. It would be a lesson in dealing with failed expectations and navigating angry reactions (that make you briefly consider whether you’ll be getting out of the conversation alive, or as a ghost whose murder will be the topic of discussion for years to come). It DOES get better. I swear.

Look for “About A Breakup, Part 3 of 5: The Atom Bomb” next.

Cheers.