Sunday, November 20, 2016

One Foot in Front of the Other: Time for a New Chapter

Last winter Ginger and I found out that she was pregnant. I was in the middle of training for Umstead 100. This wasn't a surprise. We'd had all the normal talks about starting a family. But, we were lucky. Things happened quickly. I suspected they would. Not out of any kind of bravado or whatever. I just had that feeling. I figured: Start "trying" now and things will happen at a good time (not during summer 100 season ha ha). And I was right. Ginger ended up pacing me at Umstead a few weeks pregnant. We couldn't tell anyone yet, so it was really interesting. Brett and I ran the first 50 of Umstead together. And, I was DYING to tell him. Heck, we ran together for 8ish hours. At some point, you run low on topics. And I had a great one. That had to stay secret. Anyway it was really cool. Ginger had an awesome pregnancy. Life was grand. 9 months flew by. The due date of November 23rd starting coming like a freight train. We had gotten as ready as we could logistically (crib, car seats, clothes, diapers, etc--) thanks to the incredible generosity of our  amazing family and friends  We are so grateful!! Being logistically ready and ready to be responsible for a life that had been purely theoretical (I wasn't actually growing a baby inside me-- Ginger was) for 9 months are different things though.

As the calendar clicked to November, time started feeling like it was moving faster. Then, on November 8, things kicked into hyperdive. The boy was going to show up early. And show up early he did. The birth was the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of. I stand in complete awe of Ginger. I'll never understand how she was able to pull that off. Her birth story is an amazing one. Ask her about it sometime. I'm sure she'd by happy to share it with you.

In the end Paul Thomas Stewart joined us on November 10, 2016 as an unexpected, but most welcome, present for the Marine Corps Birthday. He is, by far, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

Photo Credit Laura Swift

So, a New Chapter Begins. 

How is it possible that Ginger has more energy than me at this point? 

I'm a dad now. I've loved being a lot things in my life. Lacrosse player. Kayaker. Kayak Guide. Friend. Brother. Son. Teacher. Student. Runner. Marine. Husband. Now, we add a new title: Father!

I have to say that it is the title I am most excited to have. Now, I just have to figure out how to live up to it. Like anything I do, I want to be the very best (insert whatever it is) I can possibly be. The stakes have never been higher. As a Marine, I was responsible for myself and others. But, now I'm responsible for a life that Ginger and I created who is totally dependent upon us. That is heavy. It is also amazing.

As I tear into this new chapter, I will carry a lot of the lessons the other titles have taught me. Parents taught me compassion, integrity, empathy, hard work, and too many other things to name. Friends taught me loyalty and the importance of not missing a chance to let them know they're valued. Teaching taught me to think about what others need in new ways. Kayaking taught me to love exploring. The Marine Corps sharpened my sense of honor (if you don't already have it, not even the Marines can give it to you). Scout Sniper school taught me patience. Then, Ultrarunning taught me patience at a whole new level. From running, I have learned to take things one step at a time. As long as we can take one more step, we should. Anyone who's ever run a 100 miles (or even a marathon, really) knows that you can not be successful if you think about trying to get through the whole distance at once. You have to break things down into little bits. For me, when times get the hardest, just putting one foot in front of the other and not thinking beyond that is what works. And that is what I intend to do as Ginger and I write this new chapter. Just put one foot in front of the other. Have a plan for the whole journey. Have a plan for success in the long term. But, most importantly, execute that plan by focusing on one foot at a time.

Here's to the next step, my friends. Looking forward to settling into the new role and continuing to strive to succeed in all of my current ones.

See ya in the mountains. And soon Paul will be in tow learning to adventure. 

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