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Playing in the Mud – DFQ

This is from two years ago today, on the 20th Anniversary of My open-heart surgery.

Sometimes you don’t need a large lead-in to a memory.  This needs none.  All the emotions I felt two years ago I still feel today.

February 8, 1995, a 24 year-old kid closed his eyes not knowing if they would ever open again.  Twenty-two years later, I have life’s eyes wide open.

Don’t Ever Quit

For those that have been following my installments know that today is the 20th anniversary of my open heart surgery and was always a target date in my mind.

Originally, I was told that the pulmonary valve that was installed in my heart would last twenty years. I was also told many things that I should be watching out for and paying attention to.

Well, 2015 is here and there are no issue. Yes, everyone is happy about that.

Twenty years ago, life changed on February 8th. It was the worst day of my life and also the best day. You see when you are dealt a garbage hand, you can do one of two things…quit or fight and go forward. I chose the second. It may have taken me some time to realize that I chose the second, but I did (I actually know the date I chose to fight…it was February 14, 1994). I chose to look my issue dead in the eyes and say that YOU WILL NOT BEAT ME. Those that knew me then know of the change that I had when I no longer quit on life. However, this is not about me. It is about all of you, the people reading this.

We are all at times dealt garbage. We have medical issues, family problems, alcohol problems, obstacles that we cannot overcome, injuries and the list can go on and on. How are you going to face it? Will you curl up in the fetal position and give up or will you look to your family, friends and internally and say, “This will not beat me” and when you do that, you define yourself.

You can look in the mirror and be proud of who you are and what you have and will accomplish. You can walk with your head held high and say that you believe that you will prevail over anything and there is nothing that you cannot overcome. When you believe it, there is nothing that can stop you.

I remember a phone call I received from a family member the day before my surgery. She was telling me that everything will be okay and I will beat it. I told her that I know I will. She asked me how I know and I told her that I know because I believe it.

The battle was not easy. The fight was the most difficult three months I ever had, but as I have told many of you over the past two decades, if I can get through that I can get through anything. I believe that all of you facing whatever you face can get through it and if you ever need a word of encouragement…find me and ask me. I will remind you how amazing you are and that you cannot be stopped.

Over the past two years, I have gotten involved in obstacle course racing and its environment. Each race to me is a battle and a battle that I always plan on overcoming no matter what. It was the same with my surgery. It will never matter how long a race will take me, I will finish. It has taken me twenty years to get to today and I plan on going many, many more. DFQ is a phrase from racing, meaning Don’t F*cking Quit. That is not about racing, it is about life.

Never quit life. Never quit on yourself. This isn’t about everyone else in your world, this is about you. Never, ever quit on yourself, your heart and your soul. If I had quit, I never would have met so many of you. I never would have seen so many of you get married and have families. I never would shared billions of laughs with you. I never would have crossed many finish lines and in particular, earned my first (of hopefully many) Spartan Trifectas and I never would have discovered the person that is standing in my kitchen, with a tear in my eye opening up to you encouraging you to never quit.

If I had quit all those years ago, I never would have lived and loved, found and lost many things in my life. I never would have found the Feline Four. I never would have tripped across this secret weapon in my life who is sitting upstairs watching the Grammys who somehow or another loves me for who I am with all my faults and loves even though I am impossible to live with and am the biggest pain in the ass. If I gave up and quit, I never would have be given the two angels sleeping upstairs that smile at me every day and give me unconditional love.

If I quit, I wouldn’t be here. DFQ.

840 million beats later, I still have so many more stories to tell.

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