New Years Day 2014

sunset at Seagrove, FL last spring

sunset at Seagrove, FL last spring

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I was asleep when the clock struck midnight on 2014. That’s generally been the way I’ve ushered in each new year for a decade or more. At one time Mommy and I would stay up to see midnight – she still does most years. Last night she leaned over and kissed me and whispered “Happy New Year.”

I guess we made it.

But I was asleep. Drifting through the void. The gentle dreamless black.

Time passes.

Today I’ve awoken to a sunny day. Frost clinging to the surface like residue of old weather beaten duct tape peeled away slowly. The sun will scrub it from the trees and the rooftops.

Looking back on 2013, I’m doing the same. Trying to scrub the residue of it all away, so that I can embrace the new year.

New Years Day 2013 I wrote about the adventure. Leaping from a tall rock into a dark pool somewhere deep in the wilderness. And we did. I tried not to scream on the way down, but beneath the surface of the water I screamed – breath releasing in bubbles towards the surface in a violent torrent of self doubt and bitterness. There was self worth and realization down there too. I lingered holding my breath letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. I found subterreanean passages flooded by both my fears and my hopes for the future.

It was quite a year.

2013 had it’s moments, but often I found myself grasping for meaning, wondering how the plot ties together, and how I might find redemption in the end.

In the spring I left a job I’d been in for almost a decade. It wasn’t easy. I learned a lot. I learned that deep somewhere within me I still have courage to do what I know is right. I found out how people can disappoint you though. It was hard to feel differently about people I respected at one time. You have to leave behind people, places, and things that are holding you back.

I found joy and humility in working for my wage each day. Our family embraced my new work of selling peaches. We worked at farmers markets, delivered door to door. I loaded trucks, unloaded, and loaded again. My muscles grew thick with effort. And I think in that my heart learned that there’s joy in simplicity. The smiles on your faces when I’d pull in the driveway with Grandfather’s truck piled high with thousands of peaches and long list of addresses.

Izzy, you came and helped me sell peaches at the Nashville Farmers Market on Tuesday. We had so much fun!

Izzy, you came and helped me sell peaches at the Nashville Farmers Market on Tuesday. We had so much fun!

you 3 at the Nashville Farmers Market on Father's day

you 3 at the Nashville Farmers Market on Father’s day

We went to the beach twice this year. Once with Nana and Papaw in the spring and then again with Gramma and Grandfather in late summer. We’re all so lucky to spend such time with family. The beach is where I found most of my answers last year. 

Seagrove Beach in May

Seagrove Beach in May

Seagrove in August

Seagrove in August

Izzy you were baptized at Vacation Bible school this year. I’m so proud of you. It was the highlight of the year and will always be one of the highlights of my life.

IzzybaptizedIzzyafterbaptism

You had another great year of swim team and triathlon – always smiling win or lose (mostly winning).

100 IM - your event!

100 IM – your event!

Post race: Kate, Gramma Brown, Grandfather Brown, Izzy, Papaw Nikazy, Max, and Nana Nikazy. Everyone is so proud of you, sweet Izzy!

Post race: Kate, Gramma Brown, Grandfather Brown, Izzy, Papaw Nikazy, Max, and Nana Nikazy. Everyone is so proud of you, sweet Izzy!

We celebrated your 5th birthday with a big party at a local farm, Max and Kate.

family

I raced a little, but not as much as in previous years. In part because I was tired from really working. And in part because we didn’t have the money for something that suddenly seemed trivial in face of trying to get by. My results were mostly mediocre: 5:37 at Rev3 Knoxville (13th in age group), 14th overall at Old Hickory Lake (4th in age group), and 52nd overall at Mt. Lakes (6th in age group).

Rev3 Knoxville finish in the rain.

Rev3 Knoxville finish in the rain.

Rev3Knox

Rev3Knox

with Kate, Izzy, and Max after Old Hickory Lake 2013

with Kate, Izzy, and Max after Old Hickory Lake 2013

racing at Mt. Lakes

racing at Mt. Lakes

after the race at Mt. Lakes

after the race at Mt. Lakes

Late in the summer I took on a new job. I became a recruiter. In that I’ve found a different sort of relevance and happiness. I often tell people “I change people’s lives by finding them jobs they love.” That’s true. But its hard. And I’m still learning. The first time I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing for a living.

Last year I wrote to you and told you that all I  knew for sure was that there is nothing to fear.

I still believe that.

But along the way I’ve learned that when you decide to stand up to fear there will be challenges. The self doubt I tried to leave behind at the edge of the rock over that water creeps back in from time to time. This year I’ve considered ending these letters, because I haven’t had much to say, I’ve considered ending my triathlon career because I couldn’t find my motivation. But here we are…and the sun is shining on New years day 2014. While I’ve written this the frost has already began to melt away. I’m peeling away the residue.

In my quite predawn hours alone at the kitchen table God never promised this year would be easy. He just told me to follow his voice. When I sat on the beach in the spring and pleaded for a sign from God he answered with a calm sea. Trust.

It’s all been worth it. I didn’t see the clock strike midnight last night / this morning. But I’m wide awake. Thankful for a beautiful year. Knowing that 2014 will be our best yet.

I’m skipping resolutions this year. Life is a daily journey, not a checklist. Mother Theresa said “I pray not for success, but rather for Faithfulness.” Thats goal enough for me.

I love you,

- Daddy

TENTATIVE 2014 RACE SCHEDULE (SO FAR):

March 8 – Tom King Half Marathon (goal: 1:35)

August 16 – Toughman Alabama half ironman (goal: 5:15)

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