Thoughts on Compassion Expanded

Not too long ago I wrote a post that touched on compassion, attached below:

I’d like to expand a little on these thoughts. Recently I listened to a podcast where Sam Harris spoke on free will (or lack thereof in humans) and a few of his points stuck with me.

The main point was that no one chooses the life they are born into. You can be born wealthy, poor, white, black, in a police state, with a disability, the list goes on and on. No one chooses their genetic code. Why would it be important to recognize this? Because from this understanding one can develop compassion for others. When you are a kid or even at your current age and you make fun of someone for how they look when the circumstances are out of their control, maybe you can recognize it’s not actually the person’s choice a lot of the time. This applies to little things as well like how a person sounds or moves.

Compassion can and should also be extended as loving-kindness (a Buddhist/secular term denoting tenderness full of love and kindness) to oneself. Growing up I was very self-conscious of certain parts of my appearance (sometimes still am), for example my hands. I have what’s called Raynaud’s syndrome so I have low blood circulation in my hands, giving them a reddish/purple appearance most of the time. I used to find myself hiding my hands to avoid what I had thought in my head would be ridicule or judgment from others. This was really just my brain making a big deal out of something not that important. But it’s a good chance for me to practice feeling compassion for myself. I did not have any control as to whether or not I have Raynaud’s. To simply recognize this and not make this a big issue is important for my mental well-being. This directly relates to what many call self-love and self-care.

Now, this can also be applied to bigger topics/issues. I can have some level of compassion for others who disagree with me on what I would deem important topics, such as the right for a gay couple to marry, because I recognize they were probably conditioned from a young age to believe what they do. I understand this is not the case all the time, but most of us are born into situations where conditioning will play a huge part in how a person develops and grows. Many people who practice religion do so because their families did and that’s the environment they grew up in.  I don’t use religion as a good or bad example, I just think it’s a solid example of how conditioning can work. If I was born in a country where Islam was prominent, then I probably would not have had much choice as to whether I wanted to grow up Muslim.

Now, a society ought to work on compassion; all of us in the United States can work on compassion for those not as fortunate as us. Some of us are born with extremely good luck, with loving, financially stable parents in a great neighborhood with excellent schools, while others are born with really bad luck into circumstances that are not their fault at all.

When I think of some of the schools City Year serves in Philadelphia I recognize that all the students we work with deserve a satisfactory education and should not be denied this simply because of their zip code and where they grew up. Then think of health care. How is health care a privilege and not a right? Why would a society not want to make up for some of the extreme gaps that exist between those with more luck than others? Now think about gay marriage. Most people who do not think gay marriage should be legal do so because of religious reasons. If they actually knew someone close to them who was gay they would probably think very differently and have compassion for the unnecessary pain gay couples feel from the scorn/ridicule of others.

Practicing compassion is something I plan to do more of because I know I need it. I think if societies practiced it there would be a lot less hate and violence in the world.




Interview with the Lovely Veronica Wheeler

Hope you enjoy reading about one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and obviously someone who means a whole lot to me. Some questions are similar to the ones I asked Jamie, but I think they’re fun ones. Big thanks to Veronica for taking all the time to answer these and I hope you enjoy reading! Shout out to Vron for originally giving me the idea in an indirect way for trying out short interviews like this. Please feel free to write a comment on the post if you feel so inclined.

Life Questions:

1) Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years I will be 31, going on 32. I will hopefully be married (to a certain fella you probably know) and probably have about 2-3 kids. If all goes according to plan, I will be a certified occupational therapist. I would love to be living somewhere close to both of our families in a comfortable, affordable house. I hope I’ll still be running and, if I hadn’t already, complete my first marathon.
2) Favorite Harry Potter book? Movie?
My favorite Harry Potter book would be The Half-Blood Prince. I think because it has so much drama romance-wise and it’s the beginning’s of Harry’s mission to defeat Voldemort. My favorite movie would probably be “the Prisoner of Azkaban”.
3) Favorite Harry Potter character?
Would it be extremely generic to say Harry is my favorite? We get to know so much about him, with his personality and background, it’s hard not to sympathize and be rooting for him in all of his endeavors.
4) Favorite book that is not Harry Potter?
My favorite non-HP book would be The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. It is remarkably creative and helps you to analyze all of the seemingly insignificant parts of your life and how they play a greater part.
5) What is your dream date?
My dream date would probably be a fun activity like bowling or Dave & Busters (@Luke) and then coming home to get comfy with a movie and snacks, drink some wine, followed by some cuddling.
6) Favorite TV show?
My favorite TV show is definitely Jane the Virgin. It is so enticingly romantic and dramatic that leaves you on a cliffhanger after each episode. There is spouts of humor throughout, plus the lead male character, Rafael, is FINE.
7) Professional goals for the future?
I would like to become a certified occupational therapist, specifically working in geriatrics (caring for the elderly). I’ll be attending graduate school for OT next year and should graduate with a Master’s in 2-2.5 years. I hope to get a job in the greater-Philadelphia area, perhaps in a nursing home or an outpatient rehab clinic. I’m super excited at the prospect of OT.
8) If you had to play a sport that was not track/ XC, what would it be?
I am terrible at literally every sport, but if I had to chose, I would probably play soccer. I played soccer sporadically in elementary school, and hardly understood any of the rules.
9) Embarrassing funny story?
An embarrassingly funny story would be the time I was locked out of my room overnight while at a sleepaway cross country camp at Princeton University. I couldn’t get ahold of my roommate, so I slept in the dorm’s communal bathroom. Definitely the worst night’s sleep I have ever had to date.
10) Drink of choice?
Favorite {alcoholic} drink would be between Bud Lite Lime or frozen margaritas. Non-alcoholic drink of choice would be water.
11) Coffee or tea for the rest of your life if you had to pick?
I would absolutely pick coffee. I’ve been drinking a lot lately so going without it is almost unthinkable. As long as I was still able to have it with cream, that is.
12) What’s it like dating a weirdo?
There’s a lot I could say here, but short version is that dating a *particular* weirdo for 5 ½ years has been the experience of a lifetime. He has helped me grow into who I am today and I look forward to continuing to grow together hopefully for the rest of our lifetimes!
13) Favorite trip you’ve ever been on?
My favorite trip was definitely our family trip to Florida for my cousin’s wedding last March. It was by far the best spring break I’ve ever had. Luke came with us, which made it especially fun. We arrived in Orlando the week before the wedding and spent the time doing fun things with family, like going to Harry Potter world (which I had anxiously awaited since I was about 12) and taking swamp tours to see alligators. Of course the wedding itself was amazing.
14) Best dinner spot?
My favorite place for dinner would probably be IHOP. I almost always get the Split-Decision breakfast, which consists of pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon, and sausage. If I’m very hungry, I can eat it all pretty quickly. Though as Luke pointed out, we tend to leave there feeling a little sluggish.
15) Breakfast or dinner food?
100% breakfast food. I would eat it for every meal if I could. Hence why IHOP always wins.
16) For a 3 month period, would you rather eat meat for all 3 meals every day or go vegetarian?
I think I would rather go vegetarian for a few months. I’ve really grown to like more fruits and vegetables (relatively speaking, compared to the very little I would eat before college). And I totally dig tofu.
17) What are some things you really like about Desales?
I love DeSales mainly because of the people, especially my two best friends, Hannah and Victoria. They make it home for me and have really helped me grow in faith, academics, and as a person in general. I’ve also really enjoyed running for a team at DeSales, which helped me make strong bonds with people on my team, as well as in the athletic department and other athletes.
18) Where would you have gone to undergrad if it was not Desales?
If I’d have went somewhere else, I would have almost definitely went to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. My mom ran and graduated from there and absolutely loved it, which was appealing to me to continue that legacy. They are Division I, and I would likely have run there as well. I did receive some athletic money to be on that team, but that was a little intimidating for me. They also aren’t a very big science school, and I knew I wanted to go into medicine, so it probably would have been tough to find what I wanted to do after college.
19) If you had to live somewhere not on the East Coast, where would it be?
If I were to live anywhere else, I would probably like to go to the West Coast, specifically Oregon. I’ve never been, but it looks so beautiful. And it is obviously a huge hub for running.
20) What’s the side of Veronica that most people do not see regularly?
I think there is a talkative side of me that only people I am very close with see, where I say whatever comes to mind and I can say it easily. I am definitely not super quick to open up to people at first. It takes a little while for me to get to that point with people and even still, it won’t be in its entirety with everyone.
21) How do you want to contribute to society/ humanity throughout your life?
I want to be able to contribute in small ways here and there, such as just trying to treat each person with dignity and kindness, in hoping others will follow suit. I also would love to help in greater ways, like supporting organizations that have specific missions, like those of the Catholic Social Services and the like.
22) Best family tradition?
My favorite family tradition would have to be at Christmas time when my mom’s side of the family comes to our house the day after Christmas and we have a huge gift exchange, where we go through the family order, youngest to oldest, and each family gives each member of another family a small gift or two. There’s also a tradition of giving gag gifts, if something funny or memorable were to happen to somebody throughout the year and the rest of the family got wind of it. Tears have shed from laughing so hard at the gag gifts, which is so much fun. And if significant others are to visit (Luke has been to 5 Delaney Christmas’s) they are showered with gifts as well!
23) Advice for someone looking to run faster?
If you wanted to run faster, I would first suggest building your speed into your runs by doing shorter, faster runs. For example, going for a two mile run where you really feel like you are pushing yourself, you get your heart rate up which will get your heart stronger and able to work more efficiently so the more you do that kind of pace, it will not seem as hard.
24) What would someone find you doing in your free time?
I am definitely a crafty person, so in my free time, I love to draw and paint (not too much lately) and I’ve picked up knitting/crocheting which I find relaxing. I more often than not do a combination of those things along with watching Netflix shows, like Forensic Files. I try not to do such things when I know I have school work to do because I could go for hours.

Running Questions:

1) How did you originally get into running?
I started running track in seventh grade and when we had to run a mile at practice, I ran faster than most of the boys, so I thought “This is something I can do”. I mostly ran the 800 then. My best friend eventually convinced me to do cross country with her in the fall, which I slowly improved at also. Once track came around, I started running the mile and almost broke 6. I continued on in high school, doing cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and it was encouraging to see a stead pattern of improvement throughout the years. And now here I am, a senior in college, almost done with my competitive running career.
2) What are some of your favorite things about running?
Running can be really really hard, and races especially so. My favorite things about running would probably be what happens after the race, where you can have something at the end, whether that be a new PR, a good place in the race, or even a lesson on how to race more strategically for the next time. It makes your efforts have some kind of effective outcome.
3) How would you describe your relationship to running?
I would definitely describe it as a love-hate relationship. Somedays, running is literally the last thing I want to do so I put it off all day and sometimes resent the fact I have to run. But at the same time, I know if I were told I could never run again, I would probably lose my mind. I can say I take it for granted a lot. Of course, after a successful run, workout, or race, I am in love and so happy I chose to do such a rewarding sport.
4) Do you prefer runs alone/ with a partner/ in a group?
I’d say I’m 50/50. I’ve been running a lot by myself, especially this indoor season which I think is some nice introvert time to think and not have to talk for 50+minutes. On the other hand, I love running with other people who I can have nice conversations with so that if we’re talking for the whole run, the run goes quickly because I am so engrossed in the conversation, I almost forget I’m running. I’ve gotten the chance to do that with old teammates of mine when we run together which I definitely miss.
5) You have now qualified for five national championships. How does that make you feel?
I feel so blessed to have been able to qualify for any championships, so the more, the merrier! I know the lead up to a national championship race is always marked by a fair amount of anxiety if I will qualify or not, so once I get there, the excitement to race in such a fun race takes over (though nerves are still there).
6) Many people would describe you as humble. Does this make you happy to know others see you this way?
I think it’s important for you to not speak of your actions but to let them speak for themselves. I know I respect that in other people, so I like to act accordingly. It is nice to know people see that I am just happy to do what I can and that I am just as surprised as anyone else when I do what I do.
7) What are some running goals for the end of your collegiate career?
The goals for the end of my college running are just striving for the highest I can. I would love to qualify for the 10K and/or 5k for outdoors and getting top-8 in either would be the icing on the cake.
8) Any running goals for after college?
I surely would like to take some time off from running to recover my body for a time. However, I would very much like to run a marathon someday. My first will be just to finish it, not worrying about time, and any more after that would be trying to get a Boston qualifying time.
9) Will you miss running on a team?
I think I will absolutely miss having a team. Even having a very small team this indoor season was like a sneak peak into the future where I will have to keep myself accountable to run and won’t have many people around to run with. I still appreciate it all the same. I was thinking of maybe joining a track club to keep me in shape?
10) Do you ever see yourself coaching in the future?
I definitely would want to coach in the future, with Luke especially. I think we would make a great team and we’d have a lot of knowledge to share between the two of us. I would want to pass on everything I’ve learned, good and not-so-good. If anything, I’d want to coach high schoolers, because I think they would be open to receiving that guidance. And it would probably be manageable with a full-time job.
11) Favorite race memory?
My favorite (most memorable) race memory to date would probably be my senior year of high school, outdoor track Districts; I was just running it as my last high school race ever and I ended up shocking everyone, including myself, by having a big PR and qualifying for AAA states. I NEVER thought it’d be possible. It was probably one of the first times I started taking myself seriously as a runner.
12) Favorite male and female professional runners?
This tends to change a lot, but my favorite male professional runner would probably be Ryan Hall (American Record Holder & Olympian) and my favorite female professional runner would probably be Emma Coburn. She ROCKS.
13) How are you so good?
Luke is always too nice to say so, but I would beg to differ. There is always room to improve. I am not the best, but I just want to be my best.
14) XC or track?
10000% XC. I love cross country so much. From the workouts to the races, I feel like it is made for me. It’s more scenic than track, and track feels like a dead sprint most of the time.
15) What do you think about when your running?
I’ve been working a lot to think positively during races. I may start thinking “I wonder what would happen if I drop out of this race?” and then I immediately try to counter that with “no, you’re fine, this won’t last forever” and things like that.
16) How does it feel to be a 2-time All-American?

It is all still very fresh but it’s really exciting. It was definitely a big goal of mine to get top-35 for cross country so it was an even bigger reach goal of mine to break into the top 8 in the 5k for indoor. It was nerve wracking to see if I would even qualify for it. During the race, I felt not so good (awful really), so I remember thinking to myself, “You’re not going to get it, you’re too far back”. It wasn’t until I crossed the line and looked up at the scoreboard that I knew I got it. I felt so elated after that because I knew the pain all paid off. I think it has also only made me more driven to see what outdoor could potentially bring.


David Goggins- Take the Time to Check this Guy Out

If you have never listened to David Goggins speak (or even if you have), give this guy a listen. I posted the video below of his podcast discussion with the host Joe Rogan. He is a former Navy Seal with a pretty remarkable story. He holds the world record for most pull-ups in 24 hours and ran 205 miles or something like that in 39 hours (I believe). But his story is about so so much more.

The adversity he faced growing up and throughout a lot of his life is hard to fathom. What I might love the most about him is his authenticity and how he came face to face with all of his insecurities. You really have to listen to him yourself to understand what I’m talking about. Intense, passionate, determined. He is all of those words times two. His commitment to what he does might be unparalleled.

(One smaller thing I really liked him talking about was how much he stretches now. Definitely something I can implement quickly and easily. Listen to how it helped transform his body.)

Interview with Mr. Jamie Hartop

I wanted to do something different on the blog so I asked my good friend Jamie if he would be willing to answer some questions if I sent them to him. He was a great sport and answered all of them. He also added a lot of detail which makes it even more fun to read. I did not change any of his answers other than adding a little punctuation. Much appreciation to Jamie and hope you enjoy!


1) What got you interested in running competitively originally?

I first got into running my sophomore year of high school after being introduced to the sport by my friend, Cole.  Initially, we both thought it would be a good way to stay in shape during the soccer offseason and have kept up with running since.


2) What made you want to focus more on distance events instead of mid-D?

It took until about late sophomore year that I began focusing on distance over mid-distance.  Originally coming from a soccer background that consists of steady running and bursts of sprinting, my coaches put me in 800m and 1500m/mile races.  My lack of speed and penchant for aerobic endurance coupled with my growing enjoyment for running was the driving formula.


3) Are you happy you pursued running over soccer at Ursinus?

I definitely am.  I’m still a fan of soccer but I have come to realize that running aligns far more with my personality and interests.  For example, running is such an engaging focused, methodical, and numbers-oriented sport that it instantly clicks with me.  In soccer, almost half of the team is barely getting much playing time and being one of those individuals on the bench, it’s challenging to justify all the time, energy, and focus that you have invested at practice to not be able to exhibit it in the game.  Running is the complete opposite.


4) What is your favorite race memory from your time at Ursinus?

My favorite race memory is from my junior year outdoor season at a meet at Washington and Lee where I ran the 10k and qualified for Conferences.  I remember telling Blickle minutes before the race the time I was aiming to hit per mile and he looked at me and responded “with that time, you’ll qualify for Conferences,” which I was well-aware.  The night’s weather was fantastic, the race (all 25 laps) just felt like clockwork and hearing all of the Ursinus student athletes cheering keep driving me each lap.


5) Tell us one short, funny story from UCTFXC that sticks with you.

Waiting anxiously on the bus to leave for a track meet to look out the window to see a tardy teammate hurriedly rush to the bus, with his singlet on…backwards…nipples fully exposed.


6) What do you think of the current state of affairs for UCTFXC? Are they in a good place?

In my opinion, they’re in a great place.  I definitely credit Coach Blickle in playing a huge part in helping me “buy into” running and UCTFXC.  The coaching staff and their support combined with the leadership of the upperclassmen has created a team culture of an emerging, hungry group of guys and girls looking to make moves in the Centennial Conference.


7) What did you most enjoy during your time running with UC?

I have come to really appreciate the little things, like the shenanigans just before practice in the fieldhouse, stretching and cracking jokes, sharing the anticipation and nerves before a big workout and the meals together at Wismer.


8) What has post Ursinus-running life been like? How have you managed to arguably start running better since college? Please give some insights into your training regime.

It’s a change of pace compared to college running, particularly with commuting and working, the passion for running is definitely tested.  My day-to-day is pretty routine, low-stress, behind a desk in a casual, comfortable work environment at a small company.  I think there is something to be said for “getting after it” each day or chasing a certain goal, whether it is athletic, professional, personal, or emotional, to value each hour of the day and maximize productivity. 


Routine and eliminating minor shortcuts (snooze button) takes the stress out of fixating too much on unnecessary things.  On the weekdays, I typically arise at 5:30 in the morning, leave my house for the train into NYC around 6 and change at the gym to run in NYC (north or south on the Hudson Greenway) just after 7.  On the weekends, I typically run in the late morning around Glen Ridge.  I’ll usually pick out a few races of 5k to marathon distance and build up mileage and tailor my workouts depending on when the races are and how I feel day-to-day.  Mileage-wise, I’m still experimenting but I would like to keep run about 70mpw through mid-May until I run the Pocono Marathon.  I don’t follow any plan but my paces are based on a reasonable goal race time I usually try two workouts per week, a mid-week tempo run and a long run usually on Saturday, with a day off every other week.  Almost all of my runs are singles but I’ll double if I have a random day off or recovery Sunday.



9) What are some of your goals in running heading forward?


In two weeks, I’m running a half marathon and targeting under 1:17 (5:52 per mile pace)

In early April, I’m running a local 10k where I would like to better my track PR (5:36 per mile pace)

In the marathon I’m running one in mid-May and waiting to be accepted into the New York City Marathon in mid-May, I would definitely like to run under 2:50 in one/both of these races and eventually run under 2:45.


10) Who are your favorite male and female professional runners?

Alan Webb & Jenny Simpson




1) Any long term professional goals?

I am relatively new and extremely interested in the industry I work in (programmatic media buying) and I want to learn as much as I can and take on more responsibilities.


2) Why do you eat Pescetarian?

Health but moreso ethical reasons.  I believe whatever you eat or use, you have to accept the ethical implications of how it got to your plate or how it was made.  I don’t believe the vast majority of meat is cultivated in an ethical manner that I’m ok with perpetuating.


3) Favorite book(s)?

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely


4) Dream girl?

Perfectly imperfect


5) Ideal date scenario?

Something that puts us out of our comfort zone (exciting activity) and then dinner and drinks


6) Did UC help prepare you for life after college?

Probably personally more that professionally.  I definitely think UC helped shape my beliefs and develop into an adult.


7) Favorite TV show(s)?

Entourage and American Pie


8) What do you like to do in your free time?

I’ll keep this blog PG


9) Favorite season of the year?

Early autumn


10) Favorite sport to watch?



11) Which podcasts do you like to listen to?

Joe Rogan Experience, Football Weekly, The Football Ramble, The Totally Football Show, Citius Mag Podcast, Final Surge Podcast, Waking Up with Sam Harris, NPR Planet Money, Freakonomics Podcast, The Vampire Squid


12) Favorite school in the Centennial Conference other than UC?



13) Drink of choice?

Water or if I’m feeling rowdy, an IPA


14) If you could only drink tea or coffee, which one would you choose?

Coffee but that’s a tough choice


15) Thoughts on some things our government could do better?

If I was almighty ruler, drastically reduce military spending, stricter gun laws, eliminate mortgage tax deduction, legalize marijuana and certain other drugs, make the legal drinking age to 18 and no driving with any BAC, legalize gay marriage… just to name a few.


16) Favorite breakfast food?

Oatmeal with a splash of milk, banana(s), cinnamon, and honey or coconut oil


17) Condiment of choice?

Ketchup is alright I guess


18) Favorite would-you-rather?

Assuming you’re not trying to gain or lose weight, would you have no appetite (as in your hunger level is constantly satisfied and you automatically get all vitamins and nutrition) but food and drinks have no taste?


19) Favorite soccer team?



20) If you lived somewhere other than the US, where would it be?

Canada or England


21) Thoughts on the blog?

Love it, keep up the great work



NBA All Star Draft Flub, Compassion, and the Emerging Alumni Mile

Thanks for the read! Hope all is well with you 🙂 or that you are at least okay.

NBA All Star Draft Flub

The NBA decided to switch the format of the NBA All Star game this year, which is an idea I definitely agree with. I’ve watched a little bit of the games over the past few years and it is horrible watching ZERO defense and just a bunch of dunks and 3 pointers. Most players in the NBA can do that. Here’s to hoping this new idea prompts the players to actually entertain the fans with some good basketball. Rather than the West and East conferences playing each other with their respective best players, both Lebron and Steph Curry were chosen as captains by the fan vote and got to choose their teams in a draft. I like this idea mainly because it’s different and the fans could get into it.

However, the main problem is that the draft happened behind closed doors. We don’t know what the order of the players chosen was. What the heck!? I understand that players may not want to be the last pick, but I think their egos could survive. When you are one of the best 24 players in the league, being selected last among the top players should not be a huge issue. Many players would use that as motivation to play well in the game (like Russel Westbrook). I saw an idea I liked that Lebron and Curry should have chosen the players 5 minutes before the game started on the floor. Logistically that may have been challenging, but that would be pretty cool and old-school.

Also, maybe add an incentive for the players to want to play well and win. Again, I saw a cool idea of maybe putting money on the line to be donated to a charity of choice. If a team knows that a win could guarantee that $200,000 or more is going to a cause they support they would probably want to play better. Injuries are far from a player’s mind when they want to win.



Compassion is hard to define. I looked up the definition and the only part I resonated and agreed with was “concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” You know that feeling you get when you see someone visibly suffering, whether that be from a disability, handicap, emotional distress, or something else?  That’s where I think compassion stems from. That feeling of wanting to help them in some way and the simple recognition of their suffering both make up a large part of compassion. Cherishing the preciousness of life and wanting to alleviate the suffering in others. 

We are conditioned a lot of the time to turn our heads at the compassion we might feel in certain situations. It makes sense that we feel more compassion for those close to us such as family and friends, but maybe we can show more compassion to others who we might not normally do so.

I don’t say this to say I am doing the right thing and others are not, but I have chosen not to eat meat most of the time because 99% of meat comes from factory farms where conditions for animals are horrible. I feel compassion for these animals because they are sentient beings who can feel pain. We are so far removed from this pain that it is easy to write off, but I imagine being in one of those factory farms and I’m revolted at what I would probably see. Another example is when people from other countries are killed or experience some form of suffering and we hardly blink an eye. Recently 103 people were killed and hundreds injured at a car bombing in Kabul. How many of us would not even know it happened? That is devastating news and compassion can be practiced in situations like these.

The Alumni Mile 

Next Saturday I will be partaking in the esteemed Alumni Mile at Ursinus College. This will obviously be my first one and I’m pretty pumped. I’ve decided on no time goal. I’m going to enjoy the experience and sensations of racing and having old friends cheering. The nostalgia will hopefully be blasting.

I have been running and working out a bit, though, so it won’t be going out there just to make it through 8 laps. I saw something in the alumni group a bit ago about the over/under of how many runners break 6:00 and I can say that is happening unless something goes terribly wrong. Here’s to some fun running.


Image result for the alumni mile ursinus

Using Technology Wisely; Not Living as Technology’s Puppet

I think it’s an established fact by this point that technology plays a significant role in our lives. Phones, Ipads, TVs, laptops, all the jawns with a screen. Each one biding for our time. Time that many of us willingly give. Well, I would say our brains kind of trick us into using them almost constantly. We love that dopamine rush and the distraction. There are positives and negatives regarding technology usage, and I would say which one it is mostly depends on how one is using their devices.

I know I find myself checking my phone often simply because I get some signal from my brain suggesting (not sure if this is the right word here) I do so. This is simply the brain looking for a quick dopamine rush most of the time or a distraction. A thought in my head tells me that it’s important I go check my email/snapchat/any social media site even though I may have just done so less than 20 minutes ago. The only social media site I currently use is Facebook, unless you count snapchat. I don’t have the app on my phone anymore because I don’t think it’s a good use of my time to scroll through the feed multiple times a day just for the sake of doing so. I used to have twitter and I recognize how much time I could spend just scrolling through the feed. I know many people who have every social media site on their phones and spend tons of time looking through each site multiple times a day. I’m not criticizing anyone here because I do the same thing still. I’ll check the News app on my Iphone multiple times a day now and I really do not think it’s a great use of my time. Despite not having social media on my phone I still find myself looking at the screen way too often.

One could argue looking at various social media sites multiple times a day is how they want to spend their time. Want to make sure you know what’s going on with other people, right? FOMO. I understand the argument, but it would be worth asking the person to think a little deeper. Constantly looking at a screen is really just distracting from the present moment. The same thing will be on the feed an hour later than right now. I do think my generation and especially the youngsters below us are in a precarious spot with how much technology is available to us any moment. Kids at restaurants using phones or Ipads? No, that should not be a thing. I know I’m not a parent so I don’t have much room to talk but for thousands of years kids made it through a meal without technology allowing them to cop out from their boredom or discomfort.

What would positive use of technology look like? I think we already know; it’s just acknowledging how one can do so. Maybe setting time limits on how long you go on your phone each day? I know that would be hard for me to do but for some very organized people that could be an option. Personally, I am trying to be more mindful of what I am doing. Sometimes I’m just the puppet to my mind telling me what to do. Being able to check your thought before following through on the signal to check your phone can make all the difference. Next time you feel the impulse to check your phone just for the sake of doing so, see if you can just notice the impulse. It will probably go away if you sit with the feeling for a little bit.

Now, we are all going to still use technology and probably use it a lot. So how to do so in a positive way, at least the majority of the time? I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert in any way, but I would think it mostly revolves around checking that we are not mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching something for the sake of distraction. This can be okay some of the time but not too often. This is really hard to do. I’m on my phone way too much still so I know it’s taking the little steps that will really count.

I realize I mostly talked about phones here but obviously Ipads, TV time, video games, and any other technology are all similar. I’m trying to be more mindful of how much time I spend on them and think about how I can use them effectively, not simply as their puppet.

Hope this interested you in some way! Thanks for the read.


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Mental Noting aka Noting Your Thoughts

Have you ever taken a minute to observe your mind and thoughts? If you have, you may have noticed just how crazy our brains can really be. We have thoughts constantly streaming through that are basically out of our control. Sometimes, we are so caught up in our thoughts that we believe whatever our brains are telling us. For example, if you feel angry and just want revenge on a person who hurt you, you can become so caught up in these thoughts and the feeling of anger that you will believe this is who you are at that moment in time. However, our thoughts are not really who we are. Simply put, thoughts are just thoughts. We don’t have to listen to them and let them drag us around as a puppet. This is something I am trying to work on (it is not easy at all) and many meditation/Buddhist/mindfulness teachers use something called mental noting to help them not identify with different thoughts and feelings.

How can one do this? Well, it’s probably easiest at first to practice in a secluded area for however long you want just so you can see what it is like, but you can also practice in daily life at any time. If I notice that I am really feeling anxious about something, I can note in my brain “this is just anxiety at play.” What does this do and why does it matter? If I don’t identify with the thoughts there is a possibility I can cut the duration of how long the anxiety lasts down drastically. If you feel angry and can’t seem to stop thinking about the anger, maybe just noting in your brain “this is just anger” can help. It sort of takes the power of the thoughts and feelings away or at least reduces them. If one is really skilled at their practice (I am definitely not) they just move throughout the day with awareness and do not identify so much with their thoughts and feelings. They engage much better with what is happening in the present moment and not in their heads. One can do this with positive emotions as well, such as “this is what true joy feels like.”

I was listening to a podcast between Dan Harris and Jeff Warren recently where they recommended trying this out. Jeff uses funny little phrases in his brain such as “this is just catastrophic Jeff” or “fantasizing Jeff” and it seems to help. I think humorous phrases can really help take away the seriousness sometimes. Maybe give it a try if you get the chance.

Thanks for the read!




We’re Back

I’m going to pretend a ton of people read my blog and apologize for my hiatus from writing. I was rather busy the past few weeks with City Year leading up to break. But that’s not really a great excuse considering we’re all busy a lot of the time. Writing crossed my mind, sometimes often, so I’m really not too sure what kept me from sitting down and just typing. There’s obviously no pressure here really and I enjoy writing so I’m hoping to start pumping out some posts. I usually write longer posts, which I think I almost created as a default expectation in my brain, but I think I’m going to start writing some shorter posts for fun. This one is just going to be a bit of a stream of consciousness.  I really appreciate the read.

I know this almost feels old at this point thanks to our constant stream of information coming at us with social media and the news, but thank god Roy Moore lost the special election in Alabama. I find the tribal instincts shown by supporters of Moore revolting. Voting for a candidate simply because he is Republican? And this is not a Republican-Democrat issue in this situation. This is seriously considering all the allegations against this man as a moral person. Apparently he may have been banned from a mall in Alabama for his behavior around younger girls when he was in his 30’s. What!? Just go look up on google some more about him. The main point is that I find the tribalism shown here to be sad. I also see a lot of hypocrisy in what I would guess are evangelical Christians in the state who are voting for him.

Today I finished reading a book by Mitch Albom titled Tuesdays with Morrie. I had never heard of this book before but my Mom told me there was a movie made after the book. Veronica was kind enough to lend this to me. I could easily write a whole post about this book I loved it so much. The book is really short as it only took me a couple days with lots of time in-between readings and no chapter is more than 5 pages. The premise of the book revolves around Mitch, around 37 years old during the time the story takes place, meeting every Tuesday with his much older college professor Morrie who is slowly dying from ALS. Morrie offers him an abundance of wisdom and each Tuesday there is a different lesson focus, such as death, forgiveness, family, and more. There were so many good things in the book that I took some pictures on my phone to help me remember some of the quotes. Highly recommend a read.

The Sixers went through a bit of a rough patch without Embiid but got a huge win today against the Knicks. Big step in the right direction. The East looks like it will be tough making the playoffs, though. TJ McConnell really crushed it and made some big plays defensively down the stretch. Also helped a lot having Reddick back.

What kind of gifts do you like to get? Pre-planned or a surprise? I definitely think it depends on who you are getting it from but I would probably go with surprise the majority of the time. I realize I am coming from a very privileged position saying this, but I do think in general we are too attached to materials and I don’t feel the need to have much more. However, I also understand that some people like to know what they are getting and enjoy the practicality. It can make things a lot easier for other family members or friends as well who want to know what you want.

I’ve read a fairly good amount over the past year or so and there seems to be some common themes from elders who have lived long lives and learned a lot. The constants include love, strong relationships, and finding a purpose. I think technology has it’s advantages obviously and can be beneficial for some but as a whole I still tend to think it can push us from more genuine relationships at times.

Happy Holidays and hope you get some quality time with family and friends 🙂


Graduate School Applications, Excerpt from Book, Miscellaneous Thoughts

Thank you for the read! Hope you have been doing well if you are reading this 🙂 or that you are at least feeling okay.

Graduate School Applications

Last week I started applying to graduate schools looking to earn a M.Ed. in School Counseling. This has been a fairly recent development. I was unsure about what I wanted to do next year (still not entirely sure) but I’ve enjoyed learning in school and I have a desire to learn more in a specified area. I was stuck between pursuing special education and school counseling. I enjoyed certain parts of my student teaching experience, but City Year has given me a different insight into how one can function in a school setting rather than teaching.

I really enjoy working with individuals or in small groups and I hope this experience will translate well to working as a school counselor. I’ve experienced counseling myself (I still do) to help me work with anxiety and to talk about life in general. My hope is that counseling provides me with a great opportunity to help others and to do something that I enjoy. I’m also well aware that school counseling is different than working as a counselor in a clinical setting. I hope to help create a positive and inclusive school climate wherever I end up.

The schools I’ve started applications with are Temple, Eastern, West Chester, and Penn (sort of… they are the only school of these 4 that require GREs so I’m deciding if it’s worth it).

This is also not a set in stone path. I’m not sure if something else will pop up, but as of right now this is most likely what I’m thinking of doing.

Excerpt from Book

I am currently reading Jack Kornfield’s book A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life. Kornfield spent some time as a Buddhist monk and then came back to the states and recognized the difficulties of integrating his spiritual life into the modern world. The book is full of wonderful anecdotes, advice, and wisdom. Below I copied a small excerpt that resonates with me:

“Just as we heal body and the heart through awareness, so we can heal the mind. Just as we learn about the nature and rhythm of sensations and feelings, so can we learn about the nature of thoughts. As we notice our thoughts in meditation, we discover that they are not in our control-we swim in an uninvited constant stream of memories, plans, expectations, judgments, regrets. The mind begins to show it contains all possibilities, often in conflict with one another-the beautiful qualities of a saint and the dark forces of a dictator and murderer. Out of these, the mind plans and imagines, creating endless struggles and scenarios for changing the world.

Yet the very root of these movements of mind is dissatisfaction. We seem to want both endless excitement and perfect peace. Instead of being served by our thinking, we are driven by it in many unconscious and unexamined ways. While thoughts can be enormously useful and creative, most often they dominate our experience with ideas of likes versus dislikes, higher versus lower, self versus other. They tell stories about our successes and failures, plan our security, habitually remind us of who and what we think we are.

This dualistic nature of thought is a root of our suffering. Whenever we think of ourselves as separate, fear and attachment arise and we grow constricted, defensive, ambitious, and territorial. To protect the separate self, we push certain things away, while to bolster it we hold on to other things and identify with them (49).”

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Clearly these are all my opinions on things:

I’m not going to pretend like I know much about tax plans and the economics behind it all, but c’mon. I just struggle to understand something that helps the wealthy keep more money and hurts the poor. Come and tell me again systematic oppression doesn’t exist.

Sixers should make the playoffs. That’s clear at this point. No excuses (unless Embiid or Simmons gets injured. Please stay healthy!)

Love this quote from Mother Teresa: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

Why the hell is sex education not required in all states? I wrote about this in the past, but it’s ridiculous to think about.

Everyone is pursuing happiness in their own way. The people who piss you off, try to see them from a different perspective with this understanding ( I struggle to do this).


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.

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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:

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.