Should I?

Today is an exciting day.

I have raised $1,475 of my $6,000 goal.  That’s just about 25% of my goal!

I am so overwhelmed by the generosity, support, and words of encouragement.  Thank you to everyone that has donated or shared my page.  I am in the process of writing letters, sending e-mails, and reaching out to as many people as possible – and to already have support from so many of you, some of whom I don’t even know, is amazing.  You have all inspired me to work harder and to do more…

It has only been 3 weeks since I have began fundraising and I am already 25% of the way there.  With 27 weeks to go until I depart on June 1st, I have a question for you all… Should I raise my goal?

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November?

I don’t know about you, but today in Philly did not feel like November 18th.  I had plans to go to the gym, but the minute I stepped foot outside, that changed.  I called up my 4K mentor and friend, Julie, and we agreed it was the perfect day for a bike ride.

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Julie, her “Cousin Ally,” and I took a pit stop at Bicycle Therapy for a new seat post and to refill our tires.  It’s a super cool store and all the people that work there are really nice.  Fellow 4K alum and friend, Ali, also met up with us there, and we were off.

We made our way to the Schuylkill River Trail, one of my favorite places to run or cycle.  It’s a beautiful path along the river, with grass, trees, and a unique view of Philadelphia.  We began at the South Street Bridge (where they are extending the path further south!), heading north with the Philadelphia Art Museum in the distance.

It really was a perfect day for riding – 65 degrees and sunny.  It was really windy, but that’s just something I’m going to have to get used to if I’m going to be biking through mountains and the midwest.

8 miles later and we have arrived in Manayunk and decided to stop in their brewery for a break.  Bloody Marys anyone!? (I also got a delicious beet salad with goat cheese, candied pecans, and a raspberry vinaigrette… yum!)

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By the time we left the Brewery, the sun was beginning to go down and it was getting chilly.  The ride home was much quicker, as it was more downhill and we were cold.  We were able to catch the sun set over the Schuylkill River, a great end to a fun little ride.

imageimage_4Now to shower and get ready for dinner – I’m taking my dad to the restaurant I work at – Continental!  Bring on the astronauts and lobster mac & cheese!

– Michael

This man is an inspiration…


After learning he had brain cancer, he made this video – a celebration of life, love, and happiness. When things are tough, he is definitely someone I will think about for inspiration and a reminder of how beautiful life is.

Him and his wife have been posting youtube videos every day for the past five years… they document funny, crazy, and serious moments of their lives.  Visit their youtube page!

Today, I am thankful for the first seven.

Today, I am thankful for the first seven donors of my 4K for Cancer bike ride.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see my previous blog post Summer 2014. Cycle. Inspire. Unite.)

These people have all brought me to tears, as I watched each of their names and donations scroll the home page of the 4K for Cancer site.  Each one of them have had an impact on my life and their donations have meant the world.

Julie, the one who introduced me to the 4K for Cancer.  She was a rider last summer on Team San Francisco, the same route I will be taking.  Her stories and success have inspired me to challenge myself and fight cancer.  She is an amazingly strong person and one of my best friends.

Nancy, my acting professor and motherly-figure through college.  My mother passed away on Monday, August 31, 2009, my very first day of freshman year at Temple.  When I returned to school two weeks later, Nancy was one of the first impressions I had of Temple Theaters.  She welcomed me with a huge hug and treated me so kindly that first semester at Temple.  Nancy is such an inspiration to me, being a strong, kind, talented, and loving person.  When I think of my time at Temple and smile, she is one the reasons.

Erin, a great friend from childhood and high school.  I have known Erin since we were little gingers together.  We would play Pretty, Pretty Princess with a couple other close childhood friends (and I would steal the jewelry), celebrate New Year’s Eve by forming a pop band and dancing on couches, and fight over the “little swing” in my backyard until I told on her and called her a “pain in my butt.”  I was seven.  In high school, we reconnected, bonding over our ginger pride, love of tennis, and deep passion for Apples to Apples.  Erin is not only a fellow blogger (Get@Err) and hysterical, but also one of the strongest girls I know.

Maggie, an inspiration and role model to me.  While she taught me ballet and jazz at Temple, I learned so much more from her.  She radiates positive energy and a deep spiritual connection to the world around her.  The life lessons she lives and her perspective on life is not only refreshing, but incredibly inspiring.  She introduced me to dance, clean eating, and spirituality, changing my life for the better.

Kerry, a hysterical girl that I always have fun with.  She was one of those people who you admire from afar, always wanting to be just like them and best friends with them.  And somehow the pieces fell into place as I enjoyed many summers with her, spending much time at her place in Fishtown, being clowns in Tartuffe, and creating a Philly Fringe piece with Found Theater Company.  She has always been a beautiful person, but especially as she and Found members welcomed me with open arms.

Anna Lou, a great friend since freshman year of college.  This girl is one of my favorite friends I have made while at Temple, being a caring, talented, and entertaining person.  There have been times when we have fought, but I blame our overachieving, high-strung, and down-right crazy Type A personalities.  Don’t worry, we’re working on it.

Mike, a good friend of my older brother, Kyle.  While I only know him through childhood friends and my older brother, it just goes to show how kind people can be.  We don’t know each other very well, but he felt inclined enough to support me and donate to my ride against cancer.  And for that, I am touched and so grateful.

What inspires me so much is that these seven people come from all walks of life, having different beliefs, careers, and stories – but all of them have donated to fight cancer.  And that is what the 4K is all about – coming together as a community and a nation, to support those with cancer and create hope for a better future.

I am so thankful for these people, who are all united with me to fight cancer.  Please consider donating to my ride.  The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, the 4K for Cancer, and the riders use the money directly – providing care packages for cancer fighters, scholarships for young adults affected by cancer, and resources to make the fight against cancer just a little bit easier.

To donate, visit my fundraising page.  If you have any questions, please contact me.  I am more than happy to talk more about this cause (and will definitely do so in future blogs 😉 ).  It takes some time to process, so if you have donated already, I will see it shortly.

I am touched by those who have already donated.  Today, I am thankful for you.

Cycle. Inspire. Unite.
Michael

This morning, I am thankful.

A teacher, mentor, and good friend once advised me to wake up each morning and count my blessings.  I never took her advice, not realizing it’s impact it could have on my life, until now.  As it is November and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, I thought, why not start today?  Throughout the month, I’ll be creating a list of things I’m grateful for…

1.) The first thing that comes to mind is this cup of coffee.  Every morning, my eyelids slowly open, the sunlight blinds my heavy eyes, and all I can think is COFFEE.  It’s one of the few things that can get me out of bed in the morning.

2.)  The sunlight.  There is something so magical about rays of light streaming through your window.  While it sucks when it wakes you up, there is so much beauty in natural light.  I already can not wait to get outside and feel the sun on my face.

3.)  As I look around my apartment, wondering what else I’m thankful for (it’s not as easy as it sounds…), I am distracted by glitter everywhere, obviously the remnants of my Halloween costumes.  I love glitter.  It’s shiny, it’s fun, and it’s magical.

4.)  How could I be writing this list and not think of my father right away?  (I guess the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet).  My dad is one of the best people I know.  Not only is he amazingly supportive of me and whatever I want in life, but he is so supportive of others.  He is fortunate enough to have retired fairly early in life, and has now dedicated his life to service.  He volunteers just about every day of the week, finding joy and peace in helping others.  My dad is a special man.

5.)  Today.  Every day is a gift and I am excited for today.  I am working lunch, going to the gym, and going out with friends.  It doesn’t sound like a particularly special day, but I am able to do whatever I want to do.  It is a brand new day to be a better person and the person I want to be.  I am awake, I am alive, and I am caffeinated.  Bring it, Tuesday!

 
Michael

It’s my life.

It’s November.  I’ve been a college graduate for seven months now.  And I work in a restaurant.  And like every college graduate, I’ve been bombarded with the questions, “What are you doing now?”  “Applying for jobs?”  “Going to graduate school?”

Negative.  I currently work in a restaurant and martini bar as a server.  And to be honest, I don’t hate it at all – the staff is my family, many of them being my closest friends.  And who doesn’t love cheesesteak eggrolls, lobster mac and cheese, or disgustingly sweet tang martinis (cleverly coined “Astronauts”) !?  Certainly a guilty pleasure of mine.

I just graduated Temple University in North Philadelphia for theatre, with a concentration in acting, thinking I wanted to have a life in the magical world of theater… But truth be told, I have no idea what I want to be doing for the rest of my life.  What I do know?… That I don’t want to be doing just one thing for the entirety of my life: I plan on having multiple careers and keeping my mind open to all possibilities.  And until then, I am perfectly happy working in the restaurant industry.

To start, I believe that everyone has their own, individual path in life, affected by both nature and nurture.  I don’t pass judgement on those who have a career in restaurants or those who are accomplished doctors; they are both equal in my eyes as long as they are happy.  Everyone has their own reasons for who they are, influenced by different people and different life experiences.  Behind every person there is a story, a reason why they are who they are.  I try, always, to be understanding in people before passing judgement.  If someone is living a happy life while working at a less “admirable” job (as deemed by society), who cares?

What I want in this very moment are life experiences.  I may not know who I am or what my purpose is, but I know I can be a better person by experiencing as much as life has to offer.  Until I want to settle down and invest in a long-term career, I will be enjoying the world around me.  A full-time career can wait; If I am young and have nothing holding me down, why should I be worried?  I should be traveling, going out, meeting people, and taking advantage of life.

And from the little travel I have done, that is what I have learned.  It seems America is one of the few countries obsessed with work and establishing a career, while other countries are focused on living, exploring, laughing, and enjoying life.  I don’t believe in going to college right after high school, or going to graduate school right after college, in hopes of landing a good-paying job.  Personally, I could have used a couple of years after high school to work and figure myself out a little more before spending thousands of dollars guessing on a career.  But American society has mandated this structured system of education without taking into account personal experiences.  Everyone grows up in different homes, influenced by different things.  Not everyone progresses in the same way or at the same speed.  I am content with living an unconventional life, if you want to call it that; I just care about being happy.  And that is not determined by society, it is determined by me.  I am all for living your own life, and if that doesn’t line up with what society has structured, or what your parents want, fuck it; your life belongs to you.

I work in a restaurant and I am happy.  I am not meant for a serious, full-time career…right now.  I am 22 years old and want nothing more than to be free.  I am going to do what makes me happy in this very moment, and if what I want changes tomorrow, then I will change tomorrow, too.  But until then, I’ll be exploring the world, the country, and myself.  And serving cheesesteak eggrolls and Astronauts. 😉

xoxo
Michael