A Quick Note About Running

A very good friend and mentor of mine posted an angry rant on Facebook tonight about how she was followed by a group of teenage boys while out on her run tonight. They circled her four times while catcalling, whistling and shouting at her. She felt unsafe running near her home, in a city that is incredibly safe – the place I consider home.

I am genuinely pissed off by this act. As a runner, I understand the mental stamina that it takes to get out and run when we are already doing a million and one other exhausting and mundane daily tasks. The act of running is daunting which is what makes running so special.

The running community runs to escape the noise of the world around us, to push ourselves for improvement, to be alone, to enjoy the natural world around us, to maintain physical health, and so many other reasons…but that is stripped of us when we experience actions like this from others.

I have heard many of my runner friends – particularly those that identify as female – complain that they have felt unsafe or uneasy while out for a run because they have been followed, catcalled and shouted at. Rather than getting the needed escape from their run they are made to feel small, scared, and uncomfortable. This is so freaking upsetting.

One of the only activities that makes me feel alive, alone, connected and energized is running, and knowing that my runner friends don’t get this same feeling is something that trips me up and makes me think about this crazy world that we live in.

Why does this happen? Why are men so awful toward women? When did it become unacceptable for female – and male – runners to run in short shorts, no shirt/sports bra? How would you like it if I came to your living room, football game, or other place of solace and shouted, whistled and catcalled at you while you were trying to find your peace? Because that’s essentially what is happening here.

You don’t hear of other athletes feeling uncomfortable in their spheres of practice or performance…so why is running the targeted sport?

Is it because we often do it as individuals? Because, that again is what makes running so cool. We do it on our own, at our own pace and whenever and wherever we want. We’re on our own time and we are being pushed only by ourselves to do better.

Is it because we wear little to no clothing? Because, if that’s the case this gets into a whole different issue. The world hears so often “she was wearing revealing clothing. She wanted it.” from the mouths of alleged rapists, but its the same damn thing when you’re catcalling a runner.

Just because we wear short shorts does not mean we are asking to be looked at…in fact, please don’t look at us…quite often we have snot dripping down our face, spit on our shirts, sweat dripping from every possible inch of our body. We look like we’re dying. We’re gross. I mean come on, running is like the least beautiful and graceful sport out there.

So, I guess what I’m sharing in this post is that the running community needs to have each other’s backs, uplift each other, and support our running endeavors. To those of you that aren’t runners, please stay away from us while we’re running. To the young men in this world…grow the hell up. Be a gentleman, learn some manners, and respect the ladies – and other gentlemen – out there…because you know what they say about Karma. To Sarah – and all of my other runner friends – don’t let this hold you back from running. Stay strong, stay driven, maintain heart, and keep taking those photos and reporting behaviors like this to the police.

Help keep our running community safe and healthy please!

Run happy!

-Joel

Fate.

I have lived in four different cities in the past year: Marquette, MI; Beulah, MI; Vermillion, SD; and Gunnison, CO. Each of these cities holds a piece of my heart, a large chunk of my being. I’ve been formed by each of these places. My path has led me to each of these places for different reasons – some of which were crystal clear, some I probably will never know. Nonetheless, I’m happy to call each place home.

This summer I found my path leading me to this tiny little mountain town after saying “I am done with small town living” for the entirety of the past year. I happened upon this magical place after my dear friend Mandi suggested I apply for an internship here. Well the rest is history. Before I knew it I was in Gunnison.

And I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve learned more in two short months than I have in a very long time. I’ve made some amazing friends. I have found supporters, leaders, mentors, and guides. I’ve landed a full time professional job – my first full time professional job.

I am just 23 years old. I’m halfway through my masters program. I’ve had this internship for two months. And look at where I am. So much has come from being in this tiny little mountain town. So many doors have opened.

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staff golf cart photo shoots

I’ve always been a believer in “everything happens for a reason” and “where you’re meant to be is where you’ll end up” but it’s never rang more true for me than today.

A colleague and I had a conversation this evening about my fit here at Western and how my internship this summer was meant to be. I was supposed to come to Gunnison and am supposed to be working for Residence Life and Conference Services. It was my fate, a God sign, an alignment of the stars…my destiny. I have a specific purpose for being here. Everything happens for a reason, and being here is meant to be.

So whether you believe in fate, destiny, alignment of stars, or whatever…I believe I’m absolutely without a doubt meant to be where I’m at now.

I’m meant to be serving the Western campus, Gunnison community, and myself. I know that there is work to be done and waves to be made here, and I can feel it in my bones that I am supposed to be right where I am now – working with the people I am working with, living in this beautiful mountain town, and taking it one step at a time.

Everything happens for a reason. So, celebrate; life is fine!

-Joel

Making Waves.

My life mantra is “make waves” because I seek to live every day as the water does, ebbing and flowing, trying new things, being changed by the environment and giving back to the community around me.

In the last year, this mantra has become so important to me. I remind myself to live intentionally every day and to make waves in the lives around me, but also to allow my surroundings to make waves in my life as well. Living this way allows for growth, opportunity, spontaneity, and a lot of fun; it’s how I have found myself in so many new and exciting situations and places in the last year. I have made so many new friends, and gone to so many cool places and I hope to continue to do so…

Which brings me to this: I will be moving to Colorado!!!

I have spent the last two months in Gunnison, Colorado and have been serving as an intern at Western State Colorado University. This position has provided me so much experience as a professional. I have moved to a new location. I am working on a new campus. I am adapting to a new culture and community. I am supervising student employees. I am having a blast.

Working in this position has also provided me the opportunity to land a full-time professional position in the same department. That’s right, you heard me, I have landed my first #SAPro position as a Resident Director. I will be managing two buildings during the school year and will be coordinating housing arrangements for camps and conferences during the summer months. What a great opportunity!?

By jumping out of my comfort zone and trying new things, allowing my world to be changed by my environment, and focusing on building relationships and community in all that I do I have made waves here in this small community and it has made waves in my life in turn. I have stirred things up, brought something new, learned so much and am excited to keep doing this work.

I guess it pays to work hard and push through the seasons of life. Sometimes life comes crashing down and sometimes it’s a smooth sea, but if you don’t make a little waves in that smooth sea, nothing changes, and what is the fun in that?

I have only been in Sunny Gunni for two short months, but it has been two of the greatest months of my life. I truly believe this is a “right place at the right time” situation. I was meant to be here for my internship. I was meant to come to this campus. Western is a great fit for me and I am thrilled that my first professional position will be here in the Rocky Mountains where I will be working alongside an amazing team of professionals who will challenge and support me every day.

I’ll post updates as I know more information about my move and what this new role will be like. Stay tuned.

-Joel

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An Unquenchable Thirst

I am a proud Michigander. Raised by the Great Lakes, I have seen the beauty and power of the lakes, and it is this beauty and power that attracts me to them so much.

I have always lived along the shore of a lake. It is more than a location to me, it is a lifestyle. I am infatuated with lakes, with bodies of water.

I believe in water’s beauty. I believe in water’s power. I believe I have a deep, spiritual undying connection to water.

I am learning that it’s more than a connection. I think it’s an unquenchable thirst – a yearning to be by the waters edge.

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My life mantra is “Make Waves” because I seek to inspire just as the water does. I strive to change things up constantly, be changed by my environment, and to give back to my surroundings and my community the way that water does.

Water is my life source. I need it…we all do. Our bodies are 70% water. How cool is that? You can only go a few days without water. That’s even cooler! Water provides homes, food, and adventure, among so many other things. That’s the best part.

I believe in water. I believe in adventure. I believe in making waves.

I am thirsty for this life source and all that it provides. I seek more adventure everyday. I dream of sitting by the water for hours and just watching the waves crash against the land. I reminisce on all of the great times that I have had cliff jumping into Mother Superior’s mighty waves. I think of the countless summer bonfires on the shores of Lake Michigan. I remember the time I spent collecting shells with my grandmother on Crystal Lake.

Water is my cure. My medicine. My meditation. My religion.

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Water allows me to have deep thoughts, meaningful conversations, grand adventures, and soothing meditations.

Colorado is providing me with all of this. It is fueling me with a satisfaction that I never realized I craved. But it is leaving me thirsty for more.

I am ready for big adventures, meaningful relationships, environments and surroundings that ebb and flow, and lots of lakeshore living.

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I had a long day at work today so I spent an hour or so sitting on a rock by the river afterward and I couldn’t believe how uplifted I felt. There is  nothing in this life that a few minutes by the water can’t cure.

This is my ode to water.

-Joel

Elevation.

Elevate: Verb. To raise or lift something up to a higher position.


Moving from the flat lands of South Dakota to the mountains of Colorado, elevation is something that I have had to adjust to in the past two weeks.

I don’t often share with people that I have Asthma, as it doesn’t inhibit me nearly as bad as it does others, and I don’t often suffer from attacks or struggle breathing during every day activities. My Asthma is mostly sports induced or brought on by change in weather. Unfortunately, being at a higher elevation means that I have had a much harder time breathing and my Asthma is something that I am much more conscious of. I have to make sure that I have my inhaler with me wherever I go, just in case.

It’s weird how something that I have lived with for most of my life is now suddenly a much bigger deal simply because of my surrounding environment. It’s weird how one simple change has altered my way of thinking and the way in which I do my daily tasks.

Another way in which I have had to adjust to elevation is through my job as a Conference Services Intern. Western State Colorado University’s slogan is “Learning, elevated”. These two words drew me in so quickly. I’m not sure why, but the concept of learning elevated intrigues me. Working for the university and representing this brand is something that I am proud to say that I am a part of. It has made me think further about what elevation truly means.

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My challenge for the summer is to elevate. I strive to grow as an individual, to grow as a professional, to learn as much as I can and to uplift the people around me.

As an educator and a leader, I have the opportunity to impact thousands of people everyday. I create thousands of experiences in a day without even realizing that I am doing so. In a customer service related field, I have to make sure that the experiences that I am creating are uplifting to those around me. I can elevate my students to their highest potential by giving them the tools that they need to be successful, the resources to make that happen, and the support that they need at any given time. I can elevate my guests by providing great service to them and creating experiences that they remember as positive.

Life is all about the experience and the impact that our surroundings have on us. It is all about environment, community, and elevation. If we strive to uplift rather than to tear down, we will all be stronger, more successful, and happier individuals. This is my dream for the summer. I hope to ensure quality service experiences for my guests, learning and growing opportunities for myself and for my students, and a desire to continue to elevate as I move forward with my life.

Life’s a climb, hike on!

-Joel

 

#TheFlannelogues

Something fun and exciting is brewing – this afternoon I launched a new creative project!

#TheFlannelogues is a space that I created so that I could share stories, songs, and scenes from the local coffee shop. My intent is to capture the environment that I love so much. I hope to share my experiences at coffee shops – ranging from the smells and the sounds to the stories of the unique characters that I meet there.

Come along with me on this journey? Settle in, grab a drink, and enjoy!

-Joel

Heading West

{“I headed west / I was a man on the move” – The Lumineers}


Hello my friends!

I’ve been doing some traveling in the last week and wanted to share my journey with you but needed to collect my thoughts before writing.

Anywho…

I left Vermillion on Saturday, after attending graduation and sending all of my coworkers and friends off to their real lives. As you all know, I am not a planner and don’t really like to follow itineraries, rules, or schedules, but rather fly by the seat of my pants – is this still a phrase that people use? – and go with the flow. This is exactly how I like to travel. So I didn’t have any plans for how long I would drive, where I would stay for the night, etc. The only thing I knew was my destination: Crownpoint, New Mexico, where I would stay with my brother, Josh for a few days.

It was about 2:45pm when I hit the road. And I stopped for the night at 12:45am in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I definitely slept in my car in the Walmart parking lot – this is the true definition of adventure – and loved every second of it – all five hours of it. I woke up at 5:45 and was ready to move again. I went inside to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and grab a quick breakfast at the McDonalds inside. McDonalds was closed – probably for the best – so I decided to cross an item off of my Colorado Summer Bucket List – yes, I’ve been researching fun things to do and explore while I am here for the summer – and I stopped at Switchback Coffee Roasters for a coffee and a croissant.

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Switchback Coffee Roasters

This place was quiet, cute, and quaint. I was one of three people there – no surprise as it opened at 6am and it was 6:09 – so I had a choice of sitting inside or out on the patio. I settled in at a spot right by the window, with low hanging lights, and a plant in the center of the table – perfect. I will definitely be going back to Switchback.

I got on the road half an hour later, after discovering that Garden of the Gods didn’t open until 8am – so much for that idea. I left the Springs and headed south to New Mexico,  planning to stop for lunch in Santa Fe. I made it to Las Vegas and was so hungry I decided to make a quick stop in this tiny little town. What I didn’t know was that this town is not as sleepy as I thought it would be. I stopped at what may perhaps be the world’s slowest Burger King. I waited for 20 minutes for a 10 piece nugget – Byyyyeeee – and was so frustrated I almost left without my food.

After this extended stop I was anxious to get going again. I wanted to stop in Santa Fe, but now all I wanted to do was get to Albuquerque. So I skipped my stop in Santa Fe, and stopped at Pinon Coffee House in Albuquerque to pick up some good coffee for Josh and I to drink this week as well as a small dark roast to get me through my remaining two hour drive.

Finally, I had made it to Josh’s house! He was outside putting green chile cheeseburgers on the grill when I pulled up. Hank greeted me in his usual fashion of excitedly hopping up and down on his hind legs. Boy, was I glad to be in this tiny town again. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something really cool about Crownpoint.


Josh had to work all week, so I mostly kept Hank company, caught up on sleep, and did some running on the Mesa while I was there.

We did do some exploring and adventuring though. Josh took a personal day on Wednesday so we headed to Santa Fe on Tuesday night. We went into Cuba for dinner at what may be the best Tex-Mex restaurant in New Mexico and waited to see what the weather looked like to make our decision on camping in the Jemez Mountains for the night.

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El Bruno’s is the best Tex-Mex around
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A beast of a Navajo Taco

We ended up grabbing a motel room and posted up in a warm bed instead of cold, snowy, rainy mountainside. I curled up with my book and a Happy Camper IPA from Santa Fe Brewing Company, while Josh watched the Spurs v. Rockets and enjoyed a beer himself.

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Happy Camper IPA & The Minimalists

Wednesday morning we tried soaking in a hot spring but the road was closed due to weather, so we decided to go check out Bandelier National Monument instead. While I would have loved the hot spring bath, the hike at Bandelier was worthwhile, so no complaints here! After this we headed to Meow Wolf, an interactive art exhibit in Santa Fe. If you ever make it to this city, you have to check it out. It’s story telling, jungle gym, art museum, and puzzle all in one.

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“If you want a better view of the horizon, sometimes you’ve got to break a sweat climbing that hill” – Ron Pope
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Hiking up the Alcove Trail at Bandelier
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From the top of the Alcove Trail at Bandelier

After Meow Wolf, we drove to Albuquerque to take the tram up the mountains, but it was foggy and cold so we decided not to do it as we wouldn’t have had a very good view – I also was not dressed warm enough. We stopped at Page 1 Books and each found some books on sale! Hooray for local, independent bookstores being around still!

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Page 1 Books

We grabbed some grub at Bosque Brewing Company where I had the best and spiciest grilled cheese imaginable – I don’t do well with spices and this thing killed me but boy was it good. Here we ended our adventure-filled day and drove back to Crownpoint.


I left Josh on Friday morning. He went to school and I went North to Colorado, anxious to arrive in Gunnison. I stopped in some amazing cities on my way, and drove along the Million Dollar Highway, a narrow and winding mountain road with views that are unbeatable, but you don’t want to look in fear of driving off the edge of the mountain. I made it to Western State Colorado University between 2 and 2:30pm and headed to the Residence Life and Conference Services office where Paul would get me checked into my apartment.

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Western State Colorado University: Home of the Mountaineers

I started to get settled and then headed to dinner at High Alpine Brewing Company with Paul and some of his friends. I’d have to say my first night in town was very pleasant, an insight into what my summer and what Gunnison in the summer will feel like. Thanks Paul for treating me to my first meal in town!

Since Friday, I have explored, done some hiking and running, and have gotten more settled into my apartment.

My roommate and co-intern, Ezequiel, will arrive on Monday and I can’t wait to meet him and get started with training!


More updates to come.

Happy Mothers Day!

-Joel