Sixers Thoughts, The 4 Reminders, and Mental Health Article

Sixers Thoughts: 

I watched the whole first half of the Sixers-Warriors game last night and I was ecstatic as I went upstairs to shower. The Sixers had a 22 point lead and they were pounding the defending champs. I came back downstairs about halfway through the 3rd quarter and the Sixers were only up 8. I continued to watch as the Warriors dismantled the Sixers and dominated on both ends of the floor. Despite the loss, there were lots of positives from the game and I want to highlight some below:

1) Ben Simmons ability to drive and score with either hand. There was one play where he took Iguodala, an elite defender, to the basket and scored with his right hand. Simmons was stronger than Iggy and was able to use his athleticism to create the necessary space to finish at the basket. Iggy had no chance of stopping him. Most of Simmons points come from within 10 feet of the basket, which is highly unusual for a point guard, but I’m loving it.

2) An active Dario Saric. When the Sixers were clicking on all cylinders at the start of the game Saric was a key player. When he is actively going after rebounds and looking to shoot the Sixers are that much better.

3) Embiid’s trash talking. Embiid is obviously playing well on both ends of the floor, but I also love that he was willing to trash talk right back to Draymond Green. Green loves to run his mouth and the Sixers are starting to stake their claim as a legitimate team, so protecting the home court and taking pride in your play is important.

4) Reddick’s quick release. I love how Reddick is always ready to shoot. His presence adds so much on the court as the defense always has to chase him around and worry about his shot.

5) A vastly improved shooter in Robert Covington. Last year I was not a huge Covington fan because his shot flat out sucked. Suddenly, he is one of the better shooters in the league. Add that to his impeccable defense and he certainly earned his recent contract offer.

Image result for embiid draymond green

 

The 4 Reminders:

I recently finished Pema Chodron’s book Comfortable with Uncertainty and one of the short chapters highlighted what bodhisattva-warriors (a Buddhist sect) call the 4 reminders. I wrote them below and shared a couple sentences for each one from the book.

1) Our precious human birth. 

“Just like the weather, all sorts of feelings, emotions, and thoughts come and go, but that’s no reason to forget how precious the situation is. Our human birth allows us to hear these teachings, to practice, to extend our open hearts to others” (59).

2) The truth of impermanence.

“The essence of life is fleeting. Life may be over in the next instant! Remembering impermanence can teach you a lot about how to cheer up. It’s okay to let it scare you. Seeing your fear can heighten the sense of gratitude for the preciousness of human birth and the opportunity to practice” (59).

3) The law of karma.

“Every action has a result. Every time you’re willing to acknowledge your thoughts and come back to the freshness of the present moment, you’re sowing the seeds of wakefulness for your own future. You’re cultivating innate fundamental wakefulness by aspiring to let go of the habitual way you proceed and doing something different. You’re the only one who can do this. Life is precious and it’s brief and you can use it well” (60).

4) The futility of samsara. 

“Samsara is preferring death to life. It comes from always trying to create safety zones. We get stuck here because we cling to a funny little identity that gives us some kind of security, painful though it may be. The fourth reminder is to remember the futility of this strategy” (60).

Mental Health Article:

http://theconversation.com/with-teen-mental-health-deteriorating-over-five-years-theres-a-likely-culprit-86996

I highly suggest reading the short article above. The author argues that the recent high increase in mental health issues among teens stems from the amount of time we spend in front of a screen and not in other activities that require face-to-face interactions. I don’t think the research is valid at this point considering there is a small sample size of research on the topic, but I think it makes sense and in the future at some point I would expect there to be more research backing up this point with better explanations for why the correlation exists.

It’s no secret that we spent an abundant amount of time looking at our phones, TVs, or laptops. The actual statistics for how much time per day and per year spent in front of a screen are probably pretty scary to consider and the long-term effects (if there are any, which I would put money on guessing yes) will be worth looking out for. One example that sticks out in my head is at restaurants nowadays little kids are always playing on some device, such as an IPad. It’s easy to write this off as harmless as this gives kids something to do and the parents get a break, however I would think it’s important to teach kids from a young age how to interact with people and talk. Teaching them that they always have a cop-out available with a screen will keep them reliant on this as they grow. When they don’t get to distract themselves with a screen, they will most likely consistently be upset and struggle with normal interactions.

 

Cheers 🙂 Would love any comments of any sort. Have an awesome week. 

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“Heaven and Hell’ Small Excerpt from Book I’m Reading

I am currently reading “Comfortable with Uncertainty,” or as one teacher in my school called it when she asked what I was reading: “Being 22,” by Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun. I really enjoy the book as there are 108 short chapters, each with their own insightful message or story that’s full of wisdom and rather helpful. Below I copied an excerpt of an anecdote from the story that I really enjoyed. The chapter is titled “Heaven and Hell.”

“Once upon a time a big, burly samurai came to a Zen master and asked him to explain the difference between heaven and hell.

The Zen master looked him in the face and said: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you anything?

The samurai was immediately consumed by rage, drew his sword and prepared to take off the master’s head.

The Zen master said: “That’s hell.

Instantly the samurai understood that he had just created his own steamy hell, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He saw that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears filled his eyes as he put his palms together, bowing in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen masters said, “That’s heaven.”

 

I really like this story for multiple reasons. Firstly, it gives us a different perspective than the conventional understandings of heaven and hell. The samurai is ready to kill the zen master because strong feelings consume him. These strong feelings are full of resentment and self-protection. We experience a sort of hell when we find ourselves full of resentment, anger, jealousy, hatred, or any of the other negative feelings. On the opposite end, when we feel compassion, gratitude, gentleness, love, and the other positive feelings we are experiencing a form of heaven. Classically Buddhist, this story asks us to observe the mind and to think about what is happening now, not later.

UC 2 Mile Twilight

This past Friday night I ran in the Ursinus 2 mile twilight meet where the alumni get to race against/ with the current team. This being my first year as an alumnus, I was rather excited to run. I’m still friends with some current runners on the team and I am good friends with some of the other alumni, so I knew I was going to see a lot of great people whom I enjoy being around. 

With Alumni

I really tried to put aside any expectations for the race. Recently, I have been running about 15-20 miles per week. I usually run 4 days during the week, lift one day, do general strength + core another, and take off one day. I’ve been fairly consistent with this routine and I mostly enjoy it. City Year can be great, but it is also exhausting at times. Combined with my commute most days are around 12 hours total. In order to stay healthy and try to balance other things in my life, I’m not running as much. In a way, though, this is probably good for me. During my time at Ursinus I would often get a lot of little injuries that would keep me from training too much, which affected my race performance. I still get some tiny flair ups, but not running every day and using the whirlpool (basically an ice bath) at the gym twice a week seems to help.

The race ended up going rather well. I surprised myself and ran 11:06. I’ve been doing short workouts recently, with the most relevant one happening last Monday night where I ran a 5:25 mile and a couple of 400s at low 70s. Going off this, I knew I could run a solid first mile but the second one would hurt quite a bit. Funny enough, my first mile in the race ended up being 5:25. The second mile did hurt a lot but I did not fall off too much. If I really focused and did not joke around a bit with others while running in the race, I know I could have broken 11. Considering my low mileage, this was a pleasant surprise for me. If I ever really train hard for races again I’m excited to see what I can do. I’ve definitely got a Turkey Trot on my mind. Longer term the Alumni Mile and then a 5k in the track in the Spring on the track where I go for sub-17.

Running Alumnus

The race was loads of fun and there were lots of fast times. I’ve enjoyed running more for the sake of running while out of school, but running in a race atmosphere where I had people cheering for me reminds me how much fun racing can be and all the adrenaline involved. When I saw the results I was not surprised, but I was super impressed. From James demolishing the record and blazing to a 9:28, to Jamie running a 10:32 two weeks after a marathon, to finishing my 7th lap right as Haase came flying in to the finish at 9:47, a lot of great things happened. There really are too many people I could write shout-outs for in this race, so in fear of leaving anyone out, I will halt here. But seriously, to anyone who ran in the race, awesome job and I hope you enjoyed.  

Afterwards, the alumni got to go to ABC for some appetizers and drinks. It was really nice to sit with Vron (the best support around), Rudy, Vince, Jamie, Nolan, Simoncini, Doug, and Tony. It would have been cool to sit with Sam but he was at another table, and Drew apparently left his wallet at home so he came as we were leaving. I think Blickle and Crystal did a wonderful job setting up the race and then also setting up the after-party for the alumni. I imagine it’s not easy to coach a team that keeps improving consistently, recruit, set up events like this, and do your own training (as I know they both do a lot of). I still love UC cross country and track and field.

Post Race with Vron

Sixers Time, Books, Rudy’s BDay, Anniversary, and Miscellaneous

I hope you are doing well!! Thank You for the read!

Books:

I recently read “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright. Don’t look to much into the title. I promise you this book is not a comparison between Buddhism and other religions. Instead, the author uses a combination of evolutionary psychology and modern human tendencies to help explain why he thinks many ideas in Buddhism are actually spot on in what they suggest. Quick example: Back when our ancestors lived in hunter-gatherer villages, the only available sugary food was fruit. Fruit has obvious health benefits and actually benefited our ancestors. We got stuck with this desire for sugar. Unfortunately, we now have an abundance of processed foods loaded with sugar. Most Buddhists would probably suggest that when you feel the craving arising in your mind, simply try to be aware of the craving. Notice how the mind seems to fight back and forth between the potential benefits (short-term gratification) vs. the long term effects (bad for my health). If one can simply be aware of the thoughts they may not be tugged this way or that and could maybe make a better decision, whatever that may be at the time.

I have recently started Christopher Hitchen’s memoir, Hitch 22. If you have never heard of Hitchens, as I had not probably up until a year ago, I highly suggest going on YouTube and checking out some clips of him. He is honestly one of the most well-reasoned intellectuals I have ever seen.

 

Anniversary:

Veronica and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary together yesterday!! This is rather close to a quarter of my life. In a time where social media is rampant and long-term relationships starting in high school or college seem to be rare (could be wrong, but just a general observation), I am extremely thankful and proud of this.

STORY TIME:

Veronica and I met at a cross country camp when I was going into senior year of high school and she was entering her junior year. I find it funny how things work out sometimes. I was a competitive tennis player in high school and was actually planning on playing tennis at Ursinus. I was certainly not planning on going to this camp as I was not an avid runner at this point, but boy am I thankful that I was persuaded to go. Veronica and I sat at the same table for all the meals. We did not have many 1 on 1 interactions while at the camp, more group chats. However, I was infatuated with Veronica-never mind the fact that she was already way faster than me- but I found myself really liking her and trying to impress her at every chance I had. Once the camp was over, I lacked the jewels at the time to ask for her number, but by chance (long story that won’t go here) I had a number of one of her friends who connected me to Vron. Thankfully she did not think I was too creepy and we ended up meeting at a few different events (mostly Prep events) before we became a couple.

A short blog post does little justice to the effect Veronica has had on me. However, I really am thankful for her and our relationship.

Beer Glass from VRON

With VRON after Mac's.jpg

Sixers Time:

I have not gotten to watch too much of the Sixers thus far-a good chunk of the Wizards game and then some of the Rockets-but there are great reasons to be authentically excited that this team is good and has loads of potential. The main reasons in my mind in order:

  1. Unorthodox but Incredibly Effective Ben Simmons 
  2. A Healthy Joel Embiid 
  3. Veteran JJ Reddick 
  4. Improved Robert Covington 
  5. Scrappy Team Player TJ McConnell 

Rudy’s BDay:

A couple of weekends ago I went out to Jersey to celebrate Rudy’s bday!! Jamie and Vince also came and we had a splendid time. We played Nintendo 64-which of course Rudy is amazing at-then we went to Applebee’s and some of us got the dollaritas deal. Afterwards, we went to a bar not too far from Rudy’s house that had a huge outside area as well as inside area. We got quite a few drinks, including the Dirty Girl Scout shot which Rudy loves, and got to dance a lot to music from a live DJ. I absolutely love dancing with my friends. We combat toxic masculinity and are not afraid to dance with one another. When we were leaving the bar a lady came up to us and said that she thought we were all gay because of how we were dancing. Lolz. It was a really nice time and full of laughs.

We all get to see one another again on Friday night at the Ursinus 2-mile twilight meet where the alumni race with the current runners on the track. Get pumped!

Miscellaneous:

Climate Change is clearly real.

The Eagles are balling out right now.

Is our education system broken, or was it designed to maintain oppression, or both?

Game of Thrones is still the sh*#!

 

 

Mandatory Service? Taking a Knee? Jhalil Okafor! New Music I Like A Lot

Ohhh man it’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything. If you are reading this I thank you and hope all is well with you. Time really does seem to go by fast. The paradox of time is kind of funny actually with how slow or fast it can feel at times, but in reality time is just a constant, social construct to help us structure our lives.

City Year has been going fairly well. Still busy as hell but we are diving deeper with running after school programs now and doing more and more individualized tutoring. I’m developing stronger connections with my students and learning more about them. I thought I’d write on a few different topics today.

Mandatory Year of Service?

I remember doing some activity in either high school or college where we were asked if everyone who graduates from high school (or college) should be required to do a year of service of some sort before they go on with the next step in their lives. We had to choose a side of the room that aligned with our answer. I remember going straight to the “no” side, adamant that everyone should have the right to do as they please. I would still probably choose that answer, but would not have a problem if the other side was a requirement. In the sense that it became a norm for everyone, such as going to high-school and then off to college is the norm today. Instead though, a year of service would go plop in between them or would be something everyone does after college before entering the workforce.

We had City Year Opening Day this past Thursday where we celebrate the beginning of the year in conjunction with the other sites in the country. Former Governor Ed Rendell spoke to all of us. Apparently he helped bring City Year to Philadelphia 20 years ago when he was actively working as governor.

He said that he’s believed for a while at this point and argued in some of his books that a year of service should be required for all young adults. He notes the impact that a year of service has on a young person. Rather than jumping right into the work force or going to school not quite sure what to study and pursue in life, service can help in many ways. The young adult is exposed to diversity, inequalities, learns to work on a team, and much more. He says that he’s noticed that those who do a year of service typically pursue something afterwards that really helps others in a direct way. Their new perspective helps them realize more about themselves and what they want to do, helping to make them a better citizen.

I sure hope this happens for me. I can already tell my experience with students is having a large impact on me.

I definitely don’t think service is required for someone to do great things, obviously, but after starting City Year I can understand the argument for it being a requirement much better.

Taking a Knee?

I know a lot of people love to share their opinions on this polarizing topic and that can be rather annoying. I would like to keep my thoughts on this topic short. Players absolutely have the right to do as they wish during the anthem. You have the right to disagree with their decision but that does not mean you can force someone else not to. That’s the simple answer on a much more complicated issue in my opinion.

The main arguments I hear against someone taking a knee or doing something else during the anthem is that it shows disrespect to military members, the flag, and our country. The military point is probably the most sensitive and I think I understand why. However, a lot of these players have publicly said why they are choosing to protest and nothing in their answers has to do with the military. From what I understand, there are military members who have said players certainly have the right to protest in this fashion. I don’t think any of these players have any intent to disrespect military members, past or present, or their families. Assuming that is their intent is a bit of a cop-out from the discussions they are trying to spark.  

Take a second and think about why many of the players are protesting. Notice that many are African-American. There is a reason for that. I don’t think I have to go in depth trying to explain the reason for this. It’s something many of us know and feel uncomfortable talking about, especially if we are white and grew up privileged. The main reason for their protest from my understanding is to try to spark more discussion and while I don’t know exactly what that looks like in a productive way at this point, I absolutely respect their decision and hope more discussion and clarity on what exactly should be talked about starts to happen more and more.

Working in North Philadelphia in an under-resourced school may be an anecdotal argument, but I get an up-close look at some of the systematic effects every day.

I know this can be a touchy topic, but again, I’d love to hear others thoughts on the matter.

Jhalil Okafor!

If you like basketball, especially the Sixers, go look at a recent picture of Jhalil Okafor. Many know that Okafor struggled to fit in with the Sixers last season despite his vast potential and many want to seem him gone. I was on that train but now we might have to take a stop quickly before reaching that point. 

Over the off-season Okafor went on a mostly plant-based diet (vegan) and lost 20 pounds. He always looked a little chubby, but now he really does look pretty slim and fit. He has been plagued by knee injuries throughout his career but recently he said there is no more swelling there. He cites cutting out dairy and meat, two main causes of inflammation in the body, as really helping him. A healthy Okafor can be a really good player; don’t forget his rookie season. He’s also playing well in preseason games. Unfortunately, last year probably would have been much better for him to make this change if he wants to get in the rotation. Adding Amir Johnson makes it that much harder for him to break in. 

Whatever happens, go Okafor! I’m happy that he made a big change in his life and that things are looking up for him thanks to an improvement in his health.  

New Music I’m Digging:

I should have written New Music “for me.” I know some of these songs have been out for some time and others probably know of them already. With that in mind, here is a list of some songs I’ve come across in someway recently that I enjoy. 

“Don’t Take the Money” – The Bleachers

“Rollercoaster” – The Bleachers

“Could Have Been Me” – The Struts

“Kiss This” – The Struts

“Lay it On Me” – Vance Joy

“Cocoon” – Milky Chance

“Praying” – Kesha

 

5k Action, Mr. Jamie Hartop, Homecoming

5k Action

Yesterday morning I ran in the Philly Rock and Roll 5k. The race started rather early: 7 am. I was woken up before 5 by family because I still had to get there ahead of time to get my bib. My family was kind enough to drive me in and watch the race (really just the end of it, but still very nice). I tried something a little different than I would usually do in the morning. Instead of eating a lot, I only had oatmeal and drank a lot of water. I think 45 ounces to be exact. Other than leaving me with a feeling of having to pee during the race (even though I had already peed multiple times), this definitely ended up being the right move. In conjunction with my run gum that I like to chew before the race (caffeine and B vitamins for energy), despite not getting much sleep I felt very energized and awake during the race.

I was honestly not sure about what the competition would be like. They split us into cohorts between 1-6 with 1 being the fastest, and my projected time of 18 minutes (put that down when I registered and planned on being in better shape) got me into the first cohort. I was a bit nervous about how good the other runners would be, but when I got to the front I knew I was in the right place. I do not like making assumptions about other’s based on how they look, especially running wise, but I had a feeling some people there were not super-competitive runners.

I was not sure what to expect from myself or what the course would be like during the race. The course thankfully ended up being almost totally flat on Martin Luther King Boulevard, and I ran better than I thought I would. I’ve only been running 15-20 miles a week (usually 4 times a week) with one day of lifting and also general strength and core. I ended up running 19:14. But my GPS watch did say 19:05 for a 5k. I hit 5:57 for the first mile and felt rather comfortable. About a mile and half into it when we turned around I started to feel it. The second mile was 6:08 and the final one was 6:24. Despite the pain, I enjoyed the feeling of being in a race again even though I’m not in good enough shape to really race to be competitive yet. After turning around, I ran by everyone on the other side and lots of them would cheer. Despite having 1300 people or so, the race really was not super competitive and my time got me 8th place overall. I’ve got another 5k coming up on September 30th at Frankford High School in Philly that is related to City Year. Hopefully I can drop some time and rep my City Year team well.

Image result for philly rock and roll 5k

 

Mr. Jamie Hartop

Congrats to my man, Jamie! He’s been running a lot starting from early summer to get himself into great shape and today it seems all that hard work showed. Firstly, the hard work has already been showing: he crushed a couple of 5ks the past couple of weekends (both 17:15 on the roads). Today, he demolished a half-marathon. He ran 1 hour, 19 minutes and 53 seconds for an average mile pace of 6:05. That is really god-damn fast.

I’m not sure exactly what mileage he runs per week, but according to Strava he’s been crushing 60+ a week at times. With full weeks of work, that’s really impressive. I’m experiencing what it’s like being tired from full days of work and I give him so many kudos for his efforts. True dedication.

Also this was one of the top google images results so I went with this older picture. He might want you to know that’s he looking even more jacked now-a-days 😉

 

Homecoming 

Last night I joined my old friends/teammates/residents John and James at Ursinus. They were kind enough to let me sleep on their floor. Logan was also generous in letting me borrow his air mattress. I did sleep well despite their freezing cold room (they keep the air conditioner going at night). Ursinus was celebrating Homecoming, but I basically missed any of the celebrations during the day. Instead, I had my own race and got to see VRON crush her race at Kutztown.

It was a lot of fun to catch up with John and James. I liked hearing how they were doing and they seemed to find my City Year stories and the different chants and cheers we do funny. We then headed over to Reimert. That place doesn’t seem to change much. I enjoyed getting to see the other guys on the team. I got to see some fellow alumni but I think I missed a lot of them from the daytime. The track team culture still seems to be solid and I like the newbies. I’m excited to see the guys race at some point and to hopefully be back at some point to enjoy with them some more.

Image result for Ursinus

NBA and Premier League Standings Predictions

City Year is what!? RED HOT. City Year is what!? RED HOT. City year is r-e-d to the h-o-t, red-hot red-hot red-hot!

That is one of our many chants. Most of which I enjoy. Still working on the balance aspect of life with the busyness. Below I decided to put my predictions for both the NBA and the English Premier League Standings. I would love to hear anyone else’s comments and thoughts.

NBA

East:

  1. Cavs (53-29)   They still have Lebron. Again, they still have Lebron. Isaiah Thomas will hopefully be okay despite hip problems. And Jae Crowder is a beast.
  2. Wizards (51-31)    John Wall and Bradely Beal are about to go off. Best Eastern Conf Backcourt.
  3. Celtics (49-33)    Will take some time for this team to adjust. Will still probably be very good.
  4. Bucks (47-35)     The Greek Freak is about to dominate a weak East.
  5. Raptors (45-37)      Lowry and Derozan still make them respectable.
  6. Hornets (43-39)     All-star Kemba and a resurgent Dwight Howard lead the way.
  7. Sixers (40-42)    TTP. So young yet excitable.
  8. Heat (39-43)       Should still be solid and continue from a great second half of the season last year.

Notable Team(s) Missing: Detroit Pistons. The other teams seem to all still be rebuilding or just starting to.

West:

  1. Warriors (65-17) This team could win over 70 games. But considering it’s the regular season and how stacked the West is I think this is a fair guess.
  2. Spurs (59-23) The prediction could be rather high, but I think Pop and Leonard are just that good. Incredible team basketball. Hope Rudy Gay has a good year as well.
  3. Rockets (57-25) Hoping Chris Paul and Harden work well together. This team can be really good and I hope they are. Go get Carmelo!
  4. Thunder (55-27) A dynamic duo in Westbrook and George that will get better together as the season continues.
  5. Timberwolves (51-31) Jimmy Butler will help this team so much. Top 15 player in the league. Add him to Towns and Wiggins, along with Crawford, Teague, and Gibson… let’s go.
  6. Pelicans (49-33) Biggest surprise I think in my predictions. Boogie is in a whole new kind of shape apparently and I think him and Davis are ready to dominate together. Rondo needs to keep it together.
  7. Clippers (47-35) Tesedovic will be a lot of fun. Griffin can hopefully stay healthy and shine. Beverley is a pest for anyone and Lou Williams will help. Could be a great defensive team with Jordan at the anchor.
  8. Nuggets (46-36) Paul Millsap will compliment Jokic so well. This team scores the ball at a scary rate and I hope I get to watch them play a bit on TV.

Notable Team(s) Missing: Definitely the Jazz and the Trail Blazers. I just don’t think the Jazz have enough offensive firepower to win enough games, despite their awesome coach and great defense. The Trail Blazers were tough to leave out, but Lilliard and McCollum just don’t seem to get it done enough. They score so much but don’t win many games. This could be the year, though.

 

Premier League Final Standings Predictions:

  1. Man City
  2. Man U.
  3. Tottenham
  4. Chelsea
  5. Liverpool
  6. Arsenal
  7. Stoke
  8. Everton
  9. Watford
  10. Leicester
  11. Swansea
  12. Newcastle
  13. West Ham
  14. Southhampton
  15. Huddersfield
  16. West Brom
  17. Bournemouth
  18. Burnley
  19. Crystal Palace
  20. Brighton

Working Life

Life has been busy ever since City Year started up, that’s for sure. As with most busy lifestyles, there are pros and cons. I’ve mostly enjoyed City Year, but it’s required me to work a lot on how I balance things in my life. My working days are usually 11-12 hours including commute, so that does not leave loads of time for other things when I am home. I’m working on prioritizing.

 

Self-Care

This comes first most of the time. As a male, there are certain societal norms related to masculinity. When masculinity becomes toxic, boys and men think the only way through is to toughen up. Not so fast. Taking a step back and figuring out what’s best for myself has to be a priority. Making sure I get enough sleep, leaving time to exercise, socialize, meditate, these are all so important to me. With little time when I get home from work, this is where the balancing act begins.

My cousin from England and a friend of his stayed at our house on Tuesday and Wednesday. They went on a three-week trip in the US visiting Vegas, LA, San Diego, San Fran, New York, Philly, and more. Example of balancing: I did not exercise those two days because I know how rare it is to see my cousin and I wanted to enjoy time with him. We got to spend a solid chunk of time together and Wednesday night we got to go out in Media.

Now, I know I had a post about a month ago where I said my goal was to run sub-18 at the 5k I will be running in 2 weeks in Philadelphia. City Year put that on it’s head. I don’t like going back on something, but I have just not been running enough to realistically hit that. Yesterday, though, I did go on my best run in a while: 11 miles with VRON. I’m not setting a time goal but I would like to try to run consistently in the race. I don’t want to run sub-6:00 the first mile and then a 6:20 and then a 7:00. Unfortunately, there’s probably a solid chance of that happening. But I will work to try to not let that happen!

 

“Come to Me” 

If you check out a post I recently put up on FB, I have a picture and description of why I got the “Come to Me” wristbands. A friend of mine from high school is leading this amazing campaign to help fight the stigma surrounding mental health. As someone who has personally experienced what anxiety is like, this means a lot to me and I recognize the importance of the cause. My fellow City Year teammates will be wearing the wristbands alongside me. The wristbands signal to others that they are not alone.

 

What Made Maddy Run Review

What Made Maddy Run is a book authored by Kate Fagan. Maddy was a track runner at Penn who sadly killed herself during her freshmen year. To many, it seemed as though she had everything going for her. Suicide is a tough subject for anyone to talk about, but this book does a great job of doing so in an informative and sensitive way. Similar to the “Come to Me” campaign above, the book helps educate on mental health and tells the story (or part of it) about Maddy. Mental health issues have risen steadily among adolescents, specifically college students. The statistics are scary to digest. Books like this help share the facts and make people more comfortable talking about such a difficult subject. I highly recommend reading this.

 

Game of Thrones 

I know most fans are super excited about GOT after the last few episodes that ended the season. I am as well, but I’m also slightly disappointed. GOT is not meant to be fan fiction, but the producers seem to think it should be. It’s almost like the producers go online, read different fan theories, and then choose the most popular. Would the author, George Martin, care what his readers think of his decisions? Most likely a bit, but not really. That’s why he killed Ned Stark in the first book and constructed the Red Wedding. No main characters were really killed during this season. And no, Littlefinger was not a pivotal character in the long run. As a viewer and someone who read the first few books (although I forget most of what happened) this last season felt different. I still enjoyed watching, but recognize that marketability and keeping fans happy seem to be the producers main concerns.

89%, City Year Placement, GOT Thoughts, Poem

Hope you are doing well!!

89%

Earlier at the gym today I was enjoying on the basketball court and decided to start shooting some free throws. I kept track and decided I would go ahead and see what I could make out of 100. I’ve done this a few times before and twice have hit 86. It can be incredibly satisfying and frustrating. My goal has always been 90. Today, I hit 89. I missed the second to last shot, which put me 1 off of my goal. I wasn’t as streaky today as other days, especially in terms of missing. My best run was hitting the first 25 in a row from 50-75.

City Year Placement 

I found out that I will be serving this upcoming school-year at the Kelley school in North Philadelphia! This is a k-8 school, but we will be focused on helping 6th-8th grade. I really like my service team that I will be with during the year.

GOT Thoughts 

Just some quick thoughts on what’s been going on in GOT. *I have not seen or read about any spoilers that were leaked for the upcoming episode.

I understand that they need to progress the plot quickly and I was impressed with their approach in wiping out Dorne, house Tyrell, and the Greyjoys fleet (Yara’s, not Euron’s). However, those are all mostly sub-plots. The fight between the Lannisters and Daenary’s was awesome, but I’m a bit disappointed in a few things.

  1. The timing. You cannot convince me that the Night King is just taking a leisurely stroll with his army North of the Wall. How the hell long can they march before they get there? Also, how the heck does Davos get to King’s Landing in basically no time? Then how does Jon get back to the Wall in what seems like no time at all? They can easily get away with these inconsistencies, but I’m not a big fan.
  2. Lack of deaths of major/ sympathetic characters. Prime example: Bronn is a character loved by most fans, but he ought to have died fighting the dragon/ saving Jamie.
  3. Why is Jon leading this group north of the wall!? Yeah, they don’t have to do this at all. Let’s go get a white walker from a huge army and somehow bring him/her/it back to the other side of the wall without dying? Clearly they are straying from the books and now doing what they want. I just find the idea really silly and unnecessary. Now a character loved by fans is probably going to die on this foolish mission.

Poem

I like to doodle and sometimes try out different writing things such as poems in my journal that I have me with me a lot of the time. I thought I would share an untitled poem below that I wrote earlier today. It was a free-write and unedited.

Why sit by,

starting to cry,

feeling so shy,

when you could touch the sky?

They’re not looking at you, friend.

They’re too self-obsessed,

just like the rest.

You’re here; they’re there.

Those insecurities you carry round’,

throw em on the ground.

Tell them bye-bye,

I’m off to touch the sky.

Call Out the Racists, City Year, English Premier League

Call Out the Racists

If you have not heard of the rallies that occurred this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, then do a quick google search and read up. White surpremacists and nationalists from various organizations such as Neo-Nazis, the Alt-Right, the KKK and more met to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee (a Confederate General) statue. They were met by counterprotesters. This resulted in fights and ultimately a car drove into a pack of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Thoughts:

Free speech is a right, even including this rubbish, but we must band together and call out this blatant racism. Through the general media, social media, and especially in our conversations with others.  These people should honestly be ostracized from the main part of society. I don’t mean they should be removed from the country, but no one should talk to them other than to point out their sick viewpoints. Come out and protest and you will be met by millions of people calling out your racism and bigotry.

I’m not surprised there were physical confrontations yesterday. I don’t think violence is helpful or warranted in many situations, but I don’t blame any counterprotesters who took some swings.  For minorities, these viewpoints are an attack on their basic humanity. If these protesters came to Philly or another popular city they would be met with a fury that would make them shit themselves.

Everyone, specifically whites, should be calling out this BS.

City Year

*Quick disclaimer: My views do not represent City Year or AmeriCorps.

This past week I began my training with City Year. The first 3 weeks are all training based and they are long days, especially with my commute into and out of Philly though public transport- about 11-12 hours. I’m learning a good amount though, specifically related to some troublesome statistics about the drop-out rate for students in high schools in Philly and across the nation.

 

English Premier League

The first weekend is all but done, and there is clearly an exciting season ahead. My top 4 prediction is below along with which team I think will surprise and do very well.

1) Manchester City

Sooooo much talent on this team. Look at all their new signings and combine them with the players already on the squad; they are scary good. Love that Vincent Kompany is back playing. Gabriel Jesus and De Bruyne are so much fun.

2) Manchester United

They just bull-dogged through West Ham to an impressive 4-0 win. With Pogba and Matic controlling the middle, Lukaka wreaking havoc, Rashford flying in from the wing, and Da Gea in the back this team can be really good and could definitely win it all this year.

3) Tottenham

They had no signings over the summer, but they already have such a strong core group of players. They lost Kyle Walker, but Trippier is a solid replacement. Harry Kane will get his goals thanks to the brilliant providers in Erickson, Alli, Son, and more.

4) Arsenal

Sorry Chelsea. They are a strong team but losing Diego Costa will hurt them a lot. They seem to struggle to score consistently, and losing Matic really hurts in the middle. Arsenal had a fabulous comeback in the first weekend to beat Leicester. They play so well technically, but lack the physical toughness the Premier League seems to require. So fun to watch, though.

Surprise Team: Stoke City

I have a soft spot for Peter Crouch. I also loved that they signed Zouma and Fletcher in the middle. I think Bojan and Shaquiri provide enough talent going forward for them to contend for the 7th spot.