Category Archives: Mental Health

The Lesson a Giant Pumpkin Can Teach Us About Depression

I lost my sister, Katherine, at the age of 37, to suicide on March 26, 2012. I didn’t think about her every day before she died. I think about her every day now. Yep, nearly four years later – every single day. Who should you be thinking about every day? Take a few deep breaths…think about those people now. Repeat each day!

It’s amazing the lessons and reminders we get all around us when we find a moment to pause and reflect. My sister, Katherine, could brighten any room with her smile and laughter. She smiled until the end – keeping a brave face and hiding her struggles. So many of us were not aware of the signs of mental illness, depression, and anxiety, and how very real the possibility of a suicide could be.

Bear with me. We grew a giant pumpkin in our yard last year.

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In December it snowed, and I had visions of sprinkling the pumpkin with birdseed all winter long to watch birds and squirrels have fun with it.

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But then it warmed up a bit, and the pumpkin started to sag. As weird as this may sound, it was about this time that I had this random thought that my sister kept right on smiling and putting on a show that everything was ok, even though she was feeling bad. The pumpkin kept right on smiling. Every time I saw the smile on the pumpkin I thought of Katherine.

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I have many random thoughts, some I shoo away, some come back to me often, and this thought kept coming back to me. No matter how bad that pumpkin must have been feeling, that darn smile wouldn’t go away. And I thought of the struggles that are hidden every day by so many people.

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I kept thinking of this connection to my sister and complications associated with depression and the stigma of mental illness…still smiling.

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Of course. Still smiling. “I’m fine” said the pumpkin.

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I thought about the pumpkin while buried under snow and frequent sub-zero temperatures for over two months. The pumpkin could be seen again in March…still smiling. “You ok?”, “I’m ok, don’t worry about me. Check out my smile.” The smile is there, but the pumpkin is not ok.

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We had so much fun growing this pumpkin, showing it off to people, wondering how big it would get, etc, etc, etc, but I never ever would have thought the more the pumpkin rotted away, the more I would feel this connection.

So many people face struggles every day. They try to hide it from the world. They try to hide it from themselves, and they don’t share everything with their loved ones. They don’t know or see any way to get better. The rest of us don’t know what to look for, or think this will pass, or don’t pause long enough to look past the smile.

We cared for our pumpkin and watched it every day when it was growing and healthy.

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Maybe it felt heaviness from us.

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Being pushed or pulled in too many directions.

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Feelings of pressure.

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Or of emptiness.

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That it wasn’t good enough.

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Or was scared.

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But that darn pumpkin kept smiling through it all. Check in on those around you – listen to them. REALLY listen to them. Notice their changes in behavior and understand how very real suicide can be. If in doubt, get professional help. Mental illness, depression, anxiety, etc – they are so tough to talk about and share. You feel judged. You feel like you won’t get better. You feel helpless. With suicide you are fighting to live and die at the same time. It’s not that people in this situation don’t want to face the world and get better, they just don’t know how and don’t see a way out. Smiling puts people at ease and provides some escape from facing your reality and having to share the uncertainty that you have. Smiling on the outside, while caving in from all directions.

That’s what I learned from our giant pumpkin last year. It’s important for all of us to smile, but please be open and share how you’re doing with others. If you’re struggling then please let someone know. If you’re concerned about someone, don’t keep that to yourself. Reach out to them. Last year I wouldn’t have done this, but recently I noticed someone’s post on Facebook and sent them a private message, “…checking in to make sure you have people to talk to and have a good support network.” Sometimes that’s enough to get people talking. And to get a conversation started. But we have to pause long enough to make it happen. Peace in the week ahead.

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CLICK HERE to support this cause and help me save lives.

As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.

Week 13 Training Update

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Like my new shirt?

If you hit your initial fund-raising goal in CrowdRise they send you a shirt. I chose this one over “Decent Human” :)

Want to feel better? Happier? Healthier? Donating to my cause of suicide prevention and fighting the stigma of suicide and mental illness, will do all those (I’ll let you google ‘donating and happiness’ on your own).

Want to fight depression? Want to fight YOUR depression? Same answer – donate to my cause :) Don’t believe me? You just said you wanted to be happier, healthier, etc – how’s not donating to me treating you ;) Heh heh. It’s against my nature to always be asking for donations, but guess what? It works. No guilt here (I’m learning). WE are saving lives. A simple donation will fight depression in so many ways. Other small steps referenced in this article that we can all do each day to impact our well-being:

  • Be kind to others
  • Express gratitude
  • Think optimistically
  • Meditate on the good things in life

Today’s the day. Pick one of those. Go easy on yourself. Have fun with them. Make connections. Share these easy tips with others. Save lives.

Training continues to go well. Crazy when 13 miles now is a “short week”. What Yogi Berra said about baseball definitely applies to my training, “…is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” It’s crazy to think that I only have five weeks of training left, and only two more long runs (a 19 mile run, and a 20 mile run, and then supposedly I’ll be ready). The closer the race gets (< 50 days!) the more questions I get from people. I love the energy, excitement and support around this. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and encouragement.

I also watched a movie this past week, Spirit of the Marathon. It got my adrenaline pumping several times as it followed six runners preparing for the Chicago Marathon. A great quote from the movie was from John Bingham, who said:

“So most of us are out there for the same reason, right? We just want to have a good time. You paid for that course to be open as long as it’s going to be open. And the faster you run, the less value you’re getting for your marathon dollar. So the wise marathon consumer is going to be out there as long as we can…you do not want to rush that experience.”

I love that. I don’t want to rush my marathon experience. If you donated to my cause and have expectations that I’m going to run fast…well…you may want to try getting your money back from me? Ha – good luck with that!

It’s been a great past two weeks in terms of support and awareness. I’m over $12,000 thanks to all of your support – only $7,500 left to hit my next target of $20,000! A highlight is that I was the “Top Story” in the Rochester Sentinel (Rochester, Indiana) on March 2nd (it costs a minimum of $4.50 to see that article – sorry). Rochester (“City of Friendship and Pride”) is the town that my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc are from and/or live in still. It holds a special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to make the news there. My first marathon newspaper story!

And did I mention that I got a free t-shirt :)

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As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.

Week 11 Training Update

Here’s a mix of fun and sobering facts. Reflect. Enjoy. Learn. Grow. Share. Make a difference. You’ll find my week 11 training updates and pictures after the data.

Number Description
121 million ~# of people in world who suffer from depression (Healthline)
42,000 ~# of people who committed suicide in the U.S. in 2015 (AFSP)
31,000 # gallons of sweat that 26,000 people running the Boston Marathon could produce (ick) (Boston Marathon)
27,167 # of people who started the 2015 Boston Marathon (BAA)
26,598 # of people who finished the 2015 Boston Marathon (BAA)
10,000 # of lives I pledged to touch while raising awareness to suicide prevention
500 # of suicide attempts in the U.S. in the time it takes ME to run the Boston Marathon
126 # of people who have donated to help me save lives so far (THANK YOU!)
117 ~# of people who die by suicide each day (AFSP)
53 # of miles I ran in 8 days last week
37 age of my sister, Katherine, when she died of suicide
26.2 # of miles in a marathon
21 marathon mile marker when many runners may hit “the wall”
20.5 Boston marathon mile marker when you hit “Heartbreak Hill”
20 # of suicides in the U.S. in the time it takes ME to run the Boston Marathon
11 # of people over age 80 who started the Boston Marathon in 2015 (BAA)
11 # of people over age 80 who finished the Boston Marathon in 2015 (BAA)
1 # of people that it takes to MAKE A DIFFERENCE (you!)

In the span of eight days I did a 17-mile run, 5-mile, 8-mile with seven full hills, 5-mile, and an 18-mile run. And I took two naps :) The 17-mile run was dark, below zero, windy and snowing. Blah. The 18-mile run a week later was supposed to hit 50 degrees but instead I ran early in the day so I didn’t see anything above 35F (but it was the first time I only wore two shirts & only one pair of gloves, in a very long time!). It rained the day before so the entire 18-miles was an adventure in not trusting any of my steps. I didn’t fall but I had many, many, many slips and near misses. This was the closest I’ve come to quitting a run this year – not because I was tired, but because it was so slippery EVERYWHERE. My picture below doesn’t do it justice. Regardless, the 18 miles felt really good. Could I do another 8 miles? Yep…uh, maybe…I’d at least give it a shot now :)

Here’s my 17-mile run.

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And here’s my 18-mile run just a week later. Weather is getting nice. Crazy it is February with these high temps (it’s all a matter of perspective).

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Ice. Ice. And more ice on my 18 mile run. When it looked dry it was ice. When it looked wet it was ice. When it looked icy it was ice. I’ll soon find out what muscles I was using to stabilize – hope those muscles are the same ones that will get me through Boston!

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Here’s data from my “7 full hills” day. My phone still hasn’t quite figured out where I am on the hills. The red line should be going between 806 elevation up to 933 elevation each time. Honest – I run all the way down – I’d only be cheating myself ;) And the blue line…well, let’s just say I’m not quite as fast going up as I am going down. And does this picture look like 50F and sunny to you? Me neither.

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As of this post I’m at $11,040. The support I’ve received so far has been absolutely AMAZING!!! I am so touched and blessed to get this support and honor my sister’s life. WE are saving lives!!! YOU can still help with a donation by clicking here. I’m chasing that NEXT $10,000!

As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.

Week 10 Training Update

The top questions I’ve been getting lately are something along the lines of, “You’re running all of your training miles outside? What?!?!? Why???

In my original Giving Tuesday message, holiday letter, and CrowdRise donation page, I pledged,

“to run all 500+ training miles outdoors in Minnesota to give me continued awareness to the daily struggles that so many people face.”

I don’t get to pick and choose the days that have good weather, whether or not I want hills scheduled in my training plan (I did 12 half-hills today!), or how my body feels. I think about the struggles that others face on every single run. This gives me strength. Focus. Determination. Pride. A sense of purpose. I give thanks that I do have control over how I feel. I give thanks that I’m healthy enough to run. I give thanks for all of the support that I’ve received on my mission to create awareness to prevent suicide and fight the stigma of mental illness. I don’t take any of this for granted.

This means I run while 10″ of snow are coming down…

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This means I run when cities and citizens don’t clear their sidewalks (I’d like to dedicate my calf muscles and ankle strength to these two pics – this frozen, crusty, icy fun is what I face on every run)…

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A great friend of mine posted today on Facebook, “Davey! I ran in 19/feels-like-5 degree weather just now in solidarity. I only cursed your name a couple of times ;) Cheers, buddy.” How cool is that? So powerful. We are all in this crazy race through life together.

I ask you, what do you have control over? What exciting but scary challenge can you face today or tomorrow? Pause. Think about it. Seriously – right now – think about it. What can you do? It may be just getting out of bed in the morning. It may be telling someone that you’re struggling. Or running outside in crazy cold weather in solidarity with me. Or checking in on someone and letting them know you’re there to listen. Or taking the first steps toward a new dream. Whatever it is – find something that excites and scares you tomorrow – and take a step to start making it happen.

What’s the easiest way you earned $100 in a bar? Wait – don’t answer that. Thank you to a coworker for hearing my story over beers and handing me $100 without hesitation – I turned the money in, I promise. If you had to pick a 39F degree day with 20+ mph winds & snow, or sub-zero the next few days, which do you choose? My 13 mile run was Sunday – so I chose the wind and blowing snow. I think Ben Franklin’s expression says all you need to know about that decision. This was also my second run using a metronome. Yep, for 2 hours I heard beep-beep-beep (every time I put down my left foot). Working on my cadence is my next step (ha, step) towards making my back woes go away.

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I love this pic. Out for my run over lunch and a whole group had shovels and hockey sticks. They cleared the snow away and played some boot hockey. Also went old school with my Prairie Dog hat.

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And finally…look what else I got (don’t be distracted by the ice castles in the background)? Yep – it’s official. Accepted. I’m in “The Boston”.

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As of this post I’m at $9,795. So close to $10,000 – I can’t wait to see who will push me over that goal (YOU can donate by clicking here to make it happen). And then let’s chase the next $10,000!

As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping me fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.

Week 8 Training Update

THANK YOU for all of the support, donations and sharing my message. WE are saving lives! Week 8 Update: I’m over $9,000 in fund-raising and my long run was 15-miles!

My 10-mile run last week (Week 7) was sponsored by Prednisone (it was only 7 days – and I’m off it now). I ran fast (for me), I ran without pain, I felt great, my head was clear, my outlook was so positive. I hadn’t run and felt like this in over a month. I didn’t realize how really bad I’ve been feeling the past month, and how much my back pain had been getting me down. It took a good day to make me realize how bad I’ve been feeling. I kept telling people all was well. I kept going through the motions. But until I saw a doctor last week and got some medication, I didn’t realize how much this was impacting my life and those around me.

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It hit me on that run how ironic it is that I’m telling people to share what’s going on in their lives, yet I’ve been running in pain and getting down on myself for a month and haven’t shared it with that many people. Is it because I didn’t want to burden others? I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or judge me for not being tough enough to handle either the physical demands or the stress of prepping for “The Boston”? Because I don’t yet know what’s wrong with my back and whether I would be able to pull through this, or that I didn’t want to deal with going on medication and wondering about the side effects? Or is it because I didn’t realize how much this was really impacting me, and I was in denial?

This is hopefully a relatively minor back issue, but it completely changed my outlook and attitude each day. People struggling with mental health issues go through similar patterns and downward spirals all the time. These spirals build and build on each other, making it hard to ever think you can escape it. I was getting down on myself because my dream was in jeopardy, and I couldn’t stick to my plan. I felt like I could be letting myself and other people down. I had physical pains that plagued me throughout each day (and night), but the mental aspects, uncertainty and doubt were increasing all the time, and I wasn’t realizing it.

We don’t know how depression starts. It’s a combination of many things, but it can be triggered and worsened by downward spirals that get bigger and bigger and feed on themselves. The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, by Alex Korb, PhD, is a great book that I think would benefit everyone. It gives great awareness to the importance of starting upward spirals in our lives, to escape downward spirals “pulling you into a vortex of sadness, fatigue, and apathy”. Small things that spiral upward each day, reinforce good patterns in the brain. Chapters in this book include: exercising your brain (e.g., physical exercise – but call it “having fun being active” instead!); setting goals (what’s even one small, positive step you can take today?); making decisions; giving your brain a rest (sleep!); and developing positive habits (e.g., remember positive events that happen in your life). These are often simple steps, and this book does a great job giving clear examples, while explaining the positive impact in our brains.

Medication helped me get through my small hurdle, but even seven days on medication gave me side effects that impacted my personality. I also started sleeping more and focusing on proper exercise, but what really helped me first get help was talking with a few friends that I knew were listening to me. Be there for those around every day – it can make all the difference.

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I also continued my hill training this week. Although the graph doesn’t accurately show it (red line), I ran all the way to the bottom of this hill many times. What I love is that my pace (blue line) doesn’t even hint at me running up and down hills. What hills? Where? Heh heh – I can only hope Boston will feel the same :)

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Ready to make a donation. Here you go: https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson

Be there for others. Listen. Don’t judge. Have an amazing week!

Week 6 Training Update

“If there were no January, we might just take July for granted. Weather is a metaphor for life. Pain and suffering aren’t optional. Power through the storms and bitter setbacks – there’s always another warm front up ahead.” -Paul Douglas, January 17, 2016, Star Tribune weather page

Exactly. And as I prepare for each run in bitterly cold weather, I think about the struggles that so many people face every day. And then I start taking steps. One foot after another.

About 20 years ago I was a consultant in Chicago with KPMG Peat Marwick. I flew up to work at a client site 40 minutes north of Minneapolis, in Anoka. It was cold. Brutally cold. Below-zero-all-week cold. The hotel had an agreement with a fitness center down the road and would drive you there in a shuttle. I wanted to workout so I asked for the shuttle. How cold was it? So cold that the hotel staff gave ME the keys to the hotel shuttle and said I should drive myself. Yep. True story. Lucky for this hotel, the one guy from Chicago they chose to give keys to their shuttle was me. That’s when you know it is cold in Minnesota.

Week 6 of training. 120 miles behind me. Almost 90 days until the Boston Marathon. I’ve incredibly received over $8,000 in donations towards saving lives, preventing suicide, and fighting stigma. I’m touched every day by the generosity of so many. WE are saving lives. I can’t thank you all enough, and I hope that you continue to share my story and blog posts with those you care about.

This is what I wear for JUST ONE winter run. Crazy! I’m spending as much time doing laundry as I am running :)

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Do you have 4 minutes right now? Here’s a great, short video: What is depression?. A few, quick takeaways that are so important for all of us to understand:

  • “Depression has physical manifestations inside the brain”
  • “It takes the average person suffering with a mental illness over ten years to ask for help
  • “Depression is a medical condition, just like asthma or diabetes”
  • Open conversations about mental illness help erode stigma

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In the little weather picture can you feel the giant comic sun and beautiful hot air balloon warming you up? Yah, me neither. Squint and look at the scenery in the background of the photo just above the hot air balloon. See them? Look again and scroll down for a zoomed in view.

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Here’s the zoomed in view. It was a cold day, and I decided to jog through a nature preserve area that I’d never gone through before. As I rounded the corner I saw four deer. I watched them for a minute and took about fifty selfies (before my hand froze) trying to get both them and me in focus. Oh well, this was the best I could do.

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And a picture with a bit more focus…(once we take steps, even on bitterly cold days, we will be amazed by the wonder and surprises in life, especially as we go down new paths)…

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Long runs on weekends with the weather lately has kept things interesting. Sunday is my “long run” day (14 miles this week for my long run). Seriously, HIGH of -7F (not factoring in the wind yet)??? Brrrr!

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I ran part way across a frozen lake past a few ice houses, on my jog. But when I took out my phone it froze (literally), so I couldn’t take pictures. MapMyRun froze & stopped working then – so it showed a straight-shot home, which made it kind of fun, because it did show me running across the lake, but it also showed me running completely through yards and houses too! :)

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Thanks again for all of the support. I couldn’t do this without you. Click here to make a donation and support this great cause.

Thanks for reading. Have an amazing week.

Week 4 Training Update

Exactly one month ago I started my suicide and mental health awareness campaign as I train for the 2016 Boston Marathon. Today I passed $7,000!!! Wow! Incredible. Powerful. Touching. I can’t thank everyone enough for all of the support in your messages, donations, and helping share this message, as we ALL save lives.

Speaking of all the help I’ve been getting. My parents were just in town and this was my dad’s idea of how he could help me train harder.
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And here’s how I improved on his idea…
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Week 4 is done! Only 14 weeks of training to go! My back started hurting the week before Christmas (in a way that it never has before). I took it easy a few days, but I wasn’t sure if running was helping or hurting it, so…I went for an 8-mile run. Not a good idea. After that I couldn’t reach to touch my toes for days (with my legs bent even!). Nothing was helping so I decided to really rest. Tough decision when I’m supposed to be running 6 days a week. Tough decision for anyone who knows how rarely I sit still. Here were my sad stats for that week (one very slow run in seven days – yikes):

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I learned last year that the mental aspects of training for a marathon can be even more challenging than the physical demands on your body. Cutting an 18-week training plan to 17-weeks, plus not knowing when/if my back will heal, was driving me crazy. Doubts creep in. How long do I rest? Do I push it? What if I can’t do any long runs? Will I be ready for Boston? And it goes on and on. But I trust the journey. I listen to my body. While I was stretching/rolling more I started meditating each day to calm my mind. I eased back into training and slowed down my runs. I decided to only run 5 days a week going forward (back to Hal Higdon Novice 2 again). Doubts, struggles, stories we tell ourselves…they all can start downward spirals like I mentioned in my holiday letter this year. Here’s an excerpt from what I mailed out, listing some things I learned this year:

If you learn just one thing while reading this letter then I have succeeded. Neuroscience continues to advance, and many great books show that small daily changes can rewire your brain (e.g., The Upward Spiral, by Alex Korb, PhD and Uncovering Happiness, by Elisha Goldstein). The simplest thing you can do is listen. Listening shows that you care, and can give someone a greater sense of connection and control (especially to someone who doesn’t see other options). Small steps to create positive upward spirals include: mindfulness (practicing “nonjudgmental awareness”; making any decision reduces anxiety); exercise; sleep; long hugs (give someone a lingering hug right now!); breathing (breathe in through your nose while counting to six,  and let it out just as slowly); support networks (downward spirals are more likely when you’re alone; even movies together are a step for someone who doesn’t seem ready to talk); and gratitude (e.g., think of one thing you’re looking forward to each day when you wake up – even if that is just breakfast!).

What else have I learned? Strong support networks from family and friends are critical to get through tough times. Stigma around suicide and mental illness exists everywhere, causing people not to get help, and to feel isolated, judged, and alone. Suicide happens to “normal” families. People who commit suicide don’t want to die, but they don’t see any other way out of their current feeling of hopelessness. Mental illness is a disease like many other diseases. Depression creates physical changes in the brain, but people can get better. We’ll never get the answers we want, and we can’t fix the past, so we must move forward and honor our loved ones by living for today and helping others along the way. If you or someone you know is talking about suicide or exhibiting suicidal tendencies, get appropriate help right away. The Samaritans’ website is a great source for information.

Believe it. Share it.

My oldest daughter, Colleen, joined me on my first day back to running. We had a great 4-mile run, slipping and sliding a bit as we dodged patches of ice under the fresh snow on a beautiful winter day.
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Cool how many different tracks can be found after a new dusting of snow. Not long after this I saw four deer while on my run. I continue to add to my collection of pictures of blurry brown deer-like blobs.
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Thankfully this has still been a relatively mild Minnesota winter so far. Not a lot of snow and not any really cold temps. My new gear is making a huge difference!
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I’m so thankful for the support from those closest to me. It was great to see my parents for several days before they headed back to New Hampshire. We have all been through so much in the past four years, and we get through it all, good & bad, together. The Boston Marathon is a powerful journey for all of this year and helps us feel like we can channel energy and emotion into a great organization that touches so many lives.
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And finally, pictures from my long run in Week 4. It was supposed to be 11 miles, but I realized at mile 10 that I was missing my hood (crazy that I overdressed on a 20F day and ended up having to remove gloves and the hood). I ended up jogging back to find it and then taking a shortcut home, for 12 miles total. Funny how things work out, the last two miles after I lost my hood were the best part of my run. I ran through a wooded area around a lake, got to run through some unplowed paths, and ended up talking to a fellow runner. Plus I got the satisfaction of finding what I lost! :)
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Peace and happiness in the year ahead. Here’s to a great 2016. Happy New Year, and thanks again for all of the support!

If you missed it…I was one of three runners featured in the Samaritan’s December newsletter (scroll down in this article).

Look For What You Want To See

I’m starting Week 3 of my Boston Marathon training for Samaritans to raise money to save lives and create awareness towards suicide prevention and mental health illnesses. So far the weather has been great – I hope it continues all winter!

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As I ran this week, I was thinking about challenges and obstacles that so many face. Guess what I found everywhere I looked? Yep, challenges and obstacles. Every step seemed to find another gotcha, warning, and hazard, all filled with risk. My negative thoughts compounded, turning into doubts and fear, and made me want to turn around.

Our minds are crazy powerful

Our brains can work either for or against us. When we shift our thinking to positive thoughts, our minds can be our greatest asset that keep us going and stay motivated! As you read my alternate responses below for each picture, see which ones make you feel stressed versus relaxed. Which make you want to run versus stop in your tracks? What is your typical reaction? In the week ahead, I ask that you reflect on your reactions to all things. Think positive thoughts and get some upward spirals started today!

Obstacles I found this week & my reactions…

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Initial negative thoughts: Aaah, a gaggle of geese! They could turn on me at any moment! Why are they looking at me? And why are they so spiteful to do this to the sidewalk?
Positive thoughts: Look! An obstacle course that will help me strengthen all sorts of muscles in my legs as I dart back and forth. Thank you for waking my brain up as I have to pay attention to the road in front of me. So cool to see animals that will brave the outdoors with me all winter long!

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Initial negative thoughts: Seriously, a banana peel on the side walk?!?!? One false step and I’ll be flat on my back! How could someone be so inconsiderate? What a mess!!
Positive thoughts: Wheee – I could slide down this hill! Soon I’ll be home and can refuel with fresh fruit! This peel will compost and give life to so many critters. Ha ha – had some good laughs watching MythBusters fall on banana peels.

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Initial negative thoughts: A knife on the sidewalk? Seriously? How did this get here? What if I fell on it? Was it part of a crime? Kids causing trouble? What kind of neighborhood is this?
Positive thoughts: You can’t make this stuff up – I’m in awe of how well the universe listens. I start thinking about danger and the next thing you know I’m jogging over knives! My mind has incredible power, and I need to use it conjure up money next time! And make sure I keep it focused on helping others and spreading encouragement to all.

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I jogged over this giant ball of thistles many times. As I started thinking about challenges I got this great thought to take a picture of it in my hand. The thistle called to me. It beckoned me and played me its Siren Song. How much trouble could it cause?

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Initial negative thoughts: Are you for frickin’ real? Seriously, I just want a picture for my blog and you attack me? I’ll be picking thistles out of my gloves and shoes for weeks? Crap – I shook my hand and now I’ve got thistles on my shoes, socks, pants and glove! I’ll get splinters in my feet? I’ll cut myself when wiping my nose now with my gloved hand. The more I rub my gloves together the more thistle parts are everywhere and they don’t come out!
Positive thoughts: I can’t lie, my initial reaction was a bit of shock and a few seconds of frustration, but if you would have been driving by you would have almost immediately seen me laughing and talking to myself. It was a riot to see how fast I got covered in these things. Wow – nature, you impress me! Is this similar to the story that inspired the invention of velcro? Ok, I got myself into this, now I need to get myself out of this – one burr at a time – how can I best apply this to helping others get through their struggles? The same way – we’ll get out of it together, one burr at a time.

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Initial negative thoughts: Unstable ground? I could twist an ankle in Week 2 of training. What’s the matter with this neighborhood – fix your crappy streets! Am I making mountains out of mole hills? Why would you put your dirt here on this area of town that already has no sidewalks.
Positive thoughts: More paths to make my knees and ankles stronger, keep my body guessing, and give me power. I always stay more engaged on unpredictable terrain. Thank you city for saving tax dollars and creating a fun run for me!

What did I learn this past week?

Reminders once again that the universe listens. We create opportunities (or obstacles!) by what we’re already looking for ahead of time. If you start taking steps (even small ones) and think positive thoughts, you will see things in a positive light and be happier. Our emotions are created by how we interpret everything. We can have fun and learn in every situation around us, but we have to be open to new experiences. Be kind to yourself, believe in what’s possible, and think happy thoughts (regardless of how many burrs just attacked your hand), and your challenges will start to go away! In the weeks ahead, practice being positive regardless of what you’re facing, and support and encourage those around you!

Tap Dancing in the Street

Need a pick-me-up?

Listen to the last Wits show of the season (or ANY Wits show – you can’t go wrong!).

I got to see Cary Elwes and Kat Edmonson at the last show of the 2015 season. Fantastic guests! So thankful for the way their hard work has payed off in life, and really showed that blessings multiply with positive attitude, dedication and sometimes just being there in life.

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It was a great lesson in trusting and enjoying the journey.

At about the 26:30 mark on the recording, Kat is talking about movies and songs from early films that she grew up with. She said lately she has been tap dancing* ( * NOTE: “tap dancing” = whatever your current dream is!).

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John Moe jumped right in with, “Let’s start with WHY, WHY are you tap dancing?”

To which Kat emphatically replied, “WHY NOT!” (along with a signature giggle)

Not defensive. Not embarrassed. That’s perfect! When we believe in our dreams, we are never offended or lose confidence when someone asks a question with the intent of “Why would you ever want to do that?”

Share your dreams. Share them confidently! Who cares when somebody asks “Why?”. Proudly and enthusiastically, say “Why not!

She added, “…it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do…it was on my list of things to do and I realized I hadn’t gotten to it last year and so I started taking classes.”

That’s the way you dream!

Pick dreams that resonate with you. They are YOUR dreams. When the time is right, make each dream a top priority and then start taking steps. Small steps are fine at first, but just start taking steps. E.g., Look up tap classes. Research tap shoes. Buy tap shoes. Sign up for a class. Go to class. Repeat. Dance along with Fred and Ginger. Talk about it on Wits. It’s that easy.

:)

[Kat] “Actually…when I started watching these films, I actually thought…I would enter into this world where, when you went somewhere, and something happened, and…”

(she then goes into a cheery singing voice) “…you’d start to sing about it”,

“you know, and then somebody would be walking by, and they would…”

(cheery singing again) “…join in”“,

“…and then it would be this big number and everybody would be friends afterwards, and then you’d all happen to see each other at the supper club that night, drinking champagne, and then maybe you would get up on stage and sing, and then you would tap. And so I had to have tap in my arsenal…”

:)

[John Moe] “I just really DESPERATELY want to live in that world that you described!”

[Kat] “Oh, sometimes it is a lonely world.”

Sad.

Poignant.

Powerful.

But it shouldn’t be a lonely place.

What if we all REALLY listened to each other?

What if we all lived carefree, got along, supported each other and didn’t judge? What if we all paused long enough each day to listen (REALLY LISTEN) to each other?

Did you hear that?

Did you?

Watch out for those around you all the time. Let someone near you know if YOU are the one that needs to be listened to. Don’t hesitate. Get the conversation started. You never know when that can make all the difference. Maybe it’s looking for someone to dance with in the street. Maybe it’s just a pick-me-up. Maybe it’s something more. It doesn’t matter, say the first words and create a space where good conversations can happen.

Get out there. Do things. Experience life.

Don’t worry about justifying why you want to do your dreams. They are YOUR dreams. Support from others is critical, but we don’t need anyone’s blessing about why we have a dream on our list. We may not be clear why we are chasing something – but the secret is just to chase it.

I often don’t realize until later why I REALLY had a dream on my list. There are so many blessings in disguise that you’ll never realize if you don’t take that first step. Dare to dream – good things will happen.

Still need a pick-me-up?

Here’s your homework (wait…come back here…sit down…it will only take you 3 minutes). Watch the quick video below. Listen to the words. BELIEVE every word. Repeat until you believe them. Here are the simple but great lyrics.

Live some of these words today: “Happiness…heart upon your sleeve…be free…cast your troubles…lucky you, lucky me!”