Intervention: Anything But My Own Skin

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No money in the pockets...

I hardly have a dollar to my name.  My pockets are bare, empty, and cold.  Only lint balls roll around the dark depths in my pocket.  But it doesn't bother me.  Well maybe a little bit.  There is some worry about if I can pay the bills, get some groceries, or just put a few gallons of gas in my tank.  Not to mention, if the thought of buying something for my-self ever crossed my mind.  I don't dwell on buying things for my-self because they won't make me happy.  But society tells me possesions will make me happy.  Society tells me I'm a nobody.   If I don't have a shiny new car or a fresh set of clothes, society tells me I'm not good enough to be part of the group.  But do I care?  Absoultely not.  I will never win against society and for that I am thankful.  I am thankful I don't have to worry about if I have the nicest car or the best dressed family or the biggest house in the neighborhood.  

What I'm really thankful for is this ability to find the things that truly enrich my life.  I am thankful I have discovered helping others before my-self makes me happier than anything else in the world.  I am thankful that I put others need in front of mine.  I am thankful that when I close my eyes at the end of the day, I sleep in peace.  I would not exchange my life empty of material possesions for all the money in the world.  It will never make me happy.

What will you do to create peace in your life?  What will you sacrifice in order to find what really make you happy for the rest of your life?     

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One of the strongest highs ever

I remember these days far too well.  The days when I didn't know who I was or what I was doing.  The days that I constantly searched for the group where I would feel comfortable with my-self.  The days of when I was a teenager. 

 My heart was going out to the young men that I stood in front of.  I was telling my story.  The story of why I changed a lifestyle that would only lead to destruction.  Now, if only I could persuade them to steer away from the path they were currently on.  All I wanted was for them to feel what I feel on a daily basis.  A feeling of complete and utter joy.  The only problem is I remember being that age and listening to people speak.  I never gave them two seconds of my time.  That's why I have to make them feel the pain they know far too well and then show them how to make that pain disappear.  So I pull out old artifacts of a dead lifestyle of mine.  It makes me shiver just looking at them.  The boys eyes are focused.  The artifacts touch home to them as well.  It hurts all of us and I can't take it anymore.  

I pull out the things that bring me back to who I am now.  A newspaper article, a published book, another newspaper article, and a college diploma.  I motion to the current pile of positive things and with a large smile say, "I can either have this or this..."  I motion back to the artifacts of the dead lifestyle.  It's a no brainer.  The boys seem interested.  I can only hope they apply it to their own life.

After forty-five minutes of speaking, I set up a four square game outside in the park.  It's a way to blow off steam and enjoy some good clean fun.  It seems to be working as the boys are smiling.  It makes me feel good. 

The day is over and I'm driving back home.  The windows are open and the winds from driving along the highway rush in and out of the car.  A feeling of complete happiness surges through my body.  The thought of impacting the lives of the young men is something that nothing else can touch.  It's one of the strongest highs I've ever felt.  

How will you impact some one's life?  Are you just living for your-self or are you going to live for a path greater than yourself?    

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Early morning Swim Session

The last few days have been stressing me to pieces. Whether it's another deadline for school, the air conditioning going out in my jeep, or my dog, Beans, throwing up in the middle of the night, it feels like it is never going to end. I can't take it anymore. The daily stressors are piling to an unbearable level. I need a release. I need an escape. I need something to make me feel normal. One thing comes to mind. An early morning swim.

The night before I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m, in hopes of beating the Saturday morning rush to the indoor community pool. However, one obstacle stood in my way. Waking up. But I had to do something that would make me feel better. When the buzzing alarm disrupted the deep sleep I was in, my body pleaded to stay in bed. My eyes begged to close and every muscle tried to go loose in hopes of staying in the fetal position where I was nestled under the warm soft covers. NO! I know this will make me feel better. I have to get up. I have to create a way to make my-self feel better.

The buzzing alarm went quiet as I conquered the temptation to stay in bed. My feet hit the carpet and I stepped into my swimsuit.  As I drove to the community pool, the grogginess of the morning kept my eyes squinting.  It was 6:58 a.m, when I pulled on the steel handle attached to the glass door of the facility. The smell of chlorine burnt the hairs in my nostrils. Ironically, it was a comforting burn because my body knew this is where I could escape.

The next thing I knew I was diving headfirst into the cool pool water. Morning sunlight was beaming through the windows in the roof. It created patches of glowing rays piercing through the still water. As I swam under the surface and through the patches of euphoric sunlight, I gazed off to the right. There wasn't a soul around. Perfect! I had the entire olympic sized pool to my-self. Just what I wanted.

The air pulled into my lungs as my head passed back over the surface. I took a quick gasp and threw my right arm over head as I pulled my body into a free style swimming motion. My legs kicked and my arms alternated as I glided through the water. After four laps I took a thirty second break and swam four more laps. My entire body burned with fatigue, my lungs felt heavy, and my chest tightened. The lack of air from swimming under the water was becoming difficult. It didn't matter though. I just kept swimming. Thirty minutes passed before I called it a day. I had nothing left. It was just what I wanted. The endorphins encased my entire body as the high feeling floated from my head all the way to my toes. All the stress was gone and I felt renewed. 

Have you done anything to wash away the stress?  Or are you going to wait til you're wound so tight, you snap...?  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Painting the master piece of the day.

I've had a good week so far.  There hasn't been any issues that pulled my brain to pieces or any situations that left me stranded without answers.  Nothing has gotten in my way and nothing has burdened my shoulders.  I feel at peace.  I feel calm.  I feel good, only because I have been creating the natural highs.  But the absence of stress does not mean life is at it's best.  No...  It could be better.  I crave something more.  I want the feeling of an earned reward.  I want the feeling of an elated mood.  I want that next natural high.

This week has simply been too plain.  The week feels like this plain white canvas sitting in front of me.  It needs color.  It needs life.  It needs me.  So I pull out my faded brown tackle box full paint.  On the front there is a smeared streak of yellow where the paint had once exploded.  I crack open the box and pull out the small plastic containers of red, yellow, and blue.  I squirt a glob of each on the ceramic painters dish and pull the hairs of the brush through the red glob.  My imagination takes off as my brush glides from side to side.  Blue paint comes next.  Then the yellow.  I'm creating a master piece.  The colors fill every inch of the once plain white canvas.  I'm actually surprised at how good it looks.  I have created a master piece.  Instead of sitting on the couch, I stretched my imaginative side and now have this feeling of pure bliss.  I feel enriched and not like a plain piece of paper.

What have you done to enrich your life?  Did you just go through the routine or did you turn your day into a master piece?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A check off the bucket list

It's here!  It's here!  I can't believe it.  The UPS delivery man finally showed his face.  I've been waiting a year and a half for this moment.  In my hands, I hold a small cardboard box.  It's no bigger than an encyclopedia, but it's the only thing that stands between me and my dream.  I rush to my room, immediately sit down on the bed and place the box next to me.  In my right hand, I hold a kitchen knife.  It's a serene moment.  It's a moment that I soak in.  It's a moment that I have dreamed of for months.  But that moment is now a reality so I sit and I soak it all in.  A minute passes before I let out a sigh and pull the knife across the postal tape.  I am like a surgeon, making sure I don't harm the contents...  Making sure I don't hurt my dream.  The tip of my index finger reaches between the gap of the two folds on the brown box.  The edges are rough and pull on my skin as I peel the fold back.  I then peel the left fold back.  Then I peel the last two folds back.  The box is open.  My heart is surging with a feeling of excitement.  There is still a brown layer of paper separating me from my dream.  I peel off the paper and there it is.  The endorphins saturate my brain.  I am so high with happiness that I feel like I am on another planet.  I am in shock.  I have created something that only a small percentage of the population has created.  I have published a book.

We can all do great things.  We are all meant to do something more than the routine of the day to day.  What's your big thing?  What are you going to do or what have you done that is a great thing?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gardening for the soul

It's been another long day at work.  Time seemed to pass slower than ever.  The computer screen could no longer hold my attention and I couldn't help but dream of five o'clock.  I've been couped up at this desk for way too long.  I can't take another email, another phone call, or another deadline.  But I need the paycheck.  I have to support my family.  So I rub my eyes, let out a sigh, and force my brain to concentrate on the next email.  What a pain!  But this is life.  I guess... 

Finally!  Five o'clock rolls by and I join the turtle pace line of traffic all the way up the interstate.  I'm not sure whats worse, sitting at my desk or sitting in this sea of shining metal, exhaust fumes, and miles of concrete.  All I want is to be in the serenity of my yard. 

Two hours later I pull into my driveway.  I waste no time in springing out of my stiff work clothes and into the comfortable set of garden clothes.  Before I know it, I'm standing on the soft green grass looking down at the plants that surround my front door.  I immediately start digging and the worries of the day melt away.  The warm sun erases the tension in my neck.  The green and purple flowers calm my soul.  The physical energy used to shovel the stubborn soil leaves room only for my mind to concentrate on the task at hand.  It's not easy.  It's no cake walk, but it is rewarding.  My hands are covered in dirt, the sweat creates a mud-like layer all over my knees, face, and hands.  But I smile.  I smile because I have added a new edition of yellow and green to my flower bed.  After I shower, I walk barefoot in the yard admiring my hard work.  The setting sun illuminates my new flowers.  I feel high on the reward of the new edition.  My soul, spirit, and mind feels refreshed, like the work day never existed. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Surfing the Cosmic Vibration

The room felt damp and the air felt warm against my skin as I passed under the door frame into the open room.  Hardwood floors were glistening under the yellow tinted lights that hung from the ceiling.  The moon and stars were painted on the left wall and a bright sunshine was painted on the right wall. Straight ahead, on the main wall, was nothing but a giant mirror that covered the entire wall.  Off in the corner was a wooden rack where pale green and faded purple yoga mats hung to the dry.  This was no ordinary yoga room, this was a hot yoga room.  

Being that I had never attended a yoga session, I grabbed one of the foamy community mats from the rack and laid it out near the back of the room.  I wasn't quite sure about the whole situation.  Even worse, the real yoga people were trickling in.  They all had their custom mats rolled up nicely and stuck under their arm.  Each one wore official stretchy pants and official yoga shirts.  I felt outplace with my knee length gym shorts and sleeveless shirt.  I clearly was a beginner.

Only minutes later, the tiny female instructor strolled in and turned the knobs on the heat machine.  The room quickly went from a stale warm feeling to blistering summer day.  I could barely breath as we moved from one pose to the next.  The sweat was dripping, but I could feel the tightness in my muscles lostening it's death grip.  I felt limber and able to move freely and the stress was melting.  My daily problems were fading.  My thoughts stayed only in the moment, not in the past and not in the future.  The problems of the past or the future no longer mattered.  I only felt the serenity of the moment.  Yoga was the cure for the mental grind of every day. 

An hour passed and now we laid face up with arms and legs stretched out.  The lights dimmed to a mere glow and the instructor whispered, "Let it all go, all the stress, all the worries, all the problems of the day... just let it go.  Save it for another time, let yourself surf the cosmic vibration."  My spirit floated from my body and joined the spiritual journey.  All the stresses of the day were lost.  I felt pure and clean like nothing else mattered.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A little piece of the Ocean

My dog Beans sprang to the three foot tall desk and rested her fury two front paws on the amber colored wood.  Her hind legs stayed planted on the hardwood floor while her eyes darted from side to side.  She was staring into a little piece of the ocean, my coral reef fish tank.  I couldn't help but laugh as she growled, groaned, and nipped at the glass where the fish floated effortlessly behind.  I had just spent two hours cleaning the wall of green algae that had turned into an enchanted forest on the inside of the glass.  For the first time in two months I could see what was inside my tank.  There were all types of tropical colors.  The fish were bright orange, neon yellow, crystal blue, deep purple and light green.  The sand on the bottom of the tank was now perfectly white and the rays coming from the lights above penetrated to every corner of the tank.  The currents from the filters helped create a glowing look as the purple, blue, and yellow lights streamed their rays through the fresh current.  As I leaned back in the cool leather chair, I lifted my feet and propped them on the over sized chestnut colored desk.  My mind was lost in the enchanted world under the sea.  If only I could be in the tank too.  I would jump from one purple colored rock to the next like gravity never existed.  Then I would climb to the highest peak of the coral rock before letting go. The fish would swim by as I floated effortlessly toward the soft sand.  It was all dream, but it was a dream that I created.  A dream that I earned because I took the patience and the time to methodically clean the tank.  This was my reward.  The satisfaction of knowing I exercised complete patience when I carefully stacked the coral rock in the right formation to create under water arches where the fish could swim in and out like a game of tag.  I built this high.  I built this little escape.  It took work.  It took time.  It took patience, but now I got the reward.  The high.  The feeling of an earned positive experience. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dress for Success Service Day

I twisted the faded gold nob to the left and pushed on the wooden door with my left palm.  The door stopped after six inches.  I pushed harder.  Still the door didn't move.  After realizing no amount of strength was going to open the door, I tightened every muscle in my body and slid through the crack.  The room was dark.  I couldn't see a thing.  Only my hands offered a means to discover the contents of the room.  My hands felt cardboard boxes, cloth that must have been shirts and pants, and silk that felt like ties.  I guess that made since since it was the "Dress for Success" closet at a local recovery center.  Finally, my hands discovered a light switch and with a quick flick of the switch the fluorescent lights hummed and illuminated the room.  What a mess!  Cardboard boxes were slammed from the floor all the way to the drop down ceiling.  Shirts, pants, hats, shoes, ties, and belts were overflowing from the boxes.  Black garbage bags, filled with all types of clothes, were tossed all over the place.  Some of the bags were spilling on the floor, some were torn, and others were tied shut.  There were old steel racks where many of the dress shirts, dress pants, and ties were hanging.  A few shirts were wrinkly, a few were freshly pressed, and a few were just normal.  I looked back over my shoulder at one of the residents with a look of despair.  He shrugged his shoulders and let out a small sigh.  Well I came here to work, so I guess I can handle this.  

The resident and I went to work.  Hours passed.  We threw boxes around the room, we ripped open the donated clothes and piled all the dress shoes into the middle of the room.  We were getting somewhere now.  The room was clearing.  The clothes were being hung on the racks and I felt like I was accomplishing something.  It felt good, but I didn't want to just organize the clothes and then four months later have the place be a wreck again.  I looked over at the resident and asked what to do with the shoes.  He said just pile them up under the racks.  No way, I have to do something better than that.  I have to leave my mark.  I can't just let my efforts of clearing the room get cluttered again.  There needs to be a system.  A light bulb popped in my head and I told the resident I'm running to home depot.  He looked confused, but I knew he would understand soon.  An hour passed and I was back with six pieces of plywood cut specifically to go under the iron racks.  It was perfect.  The shoes had a new home.  The shelves would keep the room clean.  It made me feel good.  I created an improvement that would last for these guys looking to improve their lives.  I felt high.  I felt clean.  I felt better than I had felt in a long time.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Music therapy

Kellie's high:

It's been a long two months since I moved to L.A.  I left everything behind.  My family, my boyfriend, my job, my friends, my life... all in hopes of finding something that could fill this creative side that has been suppressed by the never ending sales calls. 

I just couldn't take it anymore--the grey cubical, the nine to five hours, the stale coffee fermenting in the crusty pots , the gloomy faces, the left over birthday cake molding in the break room, and the boredom and the boredom and the boredom.  I can't... I can't... I can't!  So I did the only thing I could.  I ran.  I ran as fast as I could from Georgia to the other side of the world.  Los Angeles.  This is where I could find my real self.  The self that loves to create.  The self that needed release from the torture of the nine to five. 

But I miss everything back home...  I miss the warm, strong, hugs.  I miss the smells of my mom's fireplace.  I miss my friends and their quirky habits.  But I'm not close to any of those things.  Nothing.  Only the emptiness created from the long miles from my home.  It's been weeks that I've felt like this.  I have to get rid of it.  I have to escape.  So I do what can take me there.  Away from this lonely feeling.  I plop down on the cloth swivel chair and roll across the glazed hardwood floors toward my piano.  It offers what I desire.  An escape.  My fingers seem to move on their own as I discover the notes that match my mood.  My loneliness disappers.  It seems to float into the air.  The notes carry it all off my chest and I sing and I sing and I sing.  A song is formed.  The emptiness is gone.  The loneliness has slipped away.  I feel good.  I feel high.  I feel like a different person.  I love it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fitness Competition

My calloused hands methodically grasped the steel rough weightlifting bar.  My shins kissed the cold bar as I bent from the knees down into a semi kneeling position.  Arching my back, I flexed my arms into a straight position.  Tire sized weight lifting plates stood on either side of the rusty bar.  To my right, to my left, behind me and in front of me were ten other competitors poised in the same position.  Adrenaline was dripping from our pures, excitement clouded the room, and nervousness bounced through everyone's chest.

The warehouse style gym was our home.  It's where we belonged.  It's where we got high.  Adrenaline, competition, and survival was our best friend.  All that mattered at this moment was the middle aged man standing on the cold concrete floor with a stopwatch in hand.  He was counting down... "Three... two... one...  GO!  The adrenaline shot through my chest as I pulled with all my weight.  My back strained, my arms flexed and my knees took the pressure as I stood up holding the steel bar of 255 lbs near my middle thigh.  Only fourteen more reps..  I dropped the weight and repeated.  Stand... Drop... Stand... Drop.  The lactic acid filled my entire body.  It didn't matter.  I had to win.  I had to complete the workout.

The fifteen reps were done and I took off for a quarter mile run around the back of the giant warehouse.  The summer sun was scorching my skin.  Sweat dripped in my eyes.  My feet pounded the concrete.  In front of me were all the competitors.  I was taking my time.  I had to pace my-self.  I kept telling my-self they're all going too fast.  I'm fine.  Keep the pace.  We had to complete five rounds.  One round was lifting the weight 15 times, running a quarter mile, and performing thirty situps.   That's 75 reps of the weight, one mile and a quarter run, and 150 situps with no rest total.

The run was complete.  The spectators crowded on either side of the opening to the garage style gym.  Everyone shouted something.  "Come on." "You can do it."  "Go!"  I barely heard them.  All my senses were focused on the weight and the situps.

Three rounds down.  I took off on the run of the fourth round. My body pleaded to stop.  No.  Must keep going. Go Chad Go Chad.  My eyes tried to roll back in my head and my body threatened to shut down.  It didn't matter.  I had to keep going.  I couldn't see.  I just ran.

The last reps on the bar.  I was in second.  Everyone else was shutting down.  They went out too fast.  I did it.  I planned it the right way.  Just pull the weight and your done.  Three more reps.. two more reps... one more rep... DONE!  I collapsed, falling onto the black mat.  My arms cringed, my lungs gasped, I rolled around in pain.  It was over though.  Done!  Ten minutes later and the pain released it's grip.  The high set in.  The endorphins saturated my brain.  It was stronger than anything in the world.  I felt like I was soaring above the planet.  Wow...  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fulfilling a purpose

I looked out toward the audience.  There were all types of people.  Some young, some old, some middle aged.  Some black, some white, some blue, some brown.  Some pale, some dark. 
On either side of me where my parents.  My dad stood to my left and my mom sat in a director's chair to my right.  A tall microphone stood inches from each of their mouths.  My dad was speaking.  His voiced traveled through the metal microphone and into the giant speakers standing in the four corners of the tent.  The tent shaded the crowd from the beaming hot sunshine.  The members of the audience sat in white fold up chairs, bean bags, or just on the soft green grass. 
It was almost my time to speak.  My dad was giving an introduction of me.  Nervousness started to pulse through my chest.  Anxiety tried to grip my throat.  Not today nervousness, I have a purpose to fulfill.  My left hand reached up to the headset microphone and adjusted the black quarter sized speaker only inches from my mouth.  It had to be in the perfect spot or else they couldn't hear me.  Dad wrapped up his intro by saying, "And now here is Chad Hepler."
The nervousness dropped the second I opened my mouth.  There was no room for it.  I had to fulfill my purpose.  I had to tell these people why they should choose a path greater than themselves.  I had to make them feel what I felt.  Drugs and alcohol aren't the way to go.  It's working, they're listening, their heads are nodding, I'm doing it.  I'm fulfilling my purpose. 
Ten minutes passed before I turned toward my mom and dad and started asking questions.  It was beautiful.  The crowd loved it.  I loved it.  Another ten minutes flew by.  My speech was done.  Now I was asking the crowd if they had questions.  They had tons.  Some asked three or four, some just one, but everyone asked something.  They were all engaged.  I felt high.  I felt amazing.  I felt like I was filling a hole that had never been filled before... 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sunrise hike

The air was crisp, the dew was heavy, and the sun's rays were just peaking over Kennesaw mountain.  I looked down at my dog, Beans.  Her ears were perked, her nub of a tail was vibrating, and she was glancing back at forth vigorously from me to the mountain trail.  She knew what was coming.  A new adventure into the morning woods where birds and squirrels flourished like wild flowers. 
I didn't speak, I didn't give her any commands, I just turned my body toward the trail.  She leapt in to a full sprint zooming, criss crossing, and leaping in a frenzy over sticks, leaves, and fallen trees as she frantically searched for God's little creatures.  All I could do was laugh. As she sprang back and forth I worked my way up the steep jagged trail.  The peak of the mountain was my goal. 

By now the sun was lighting the woods and the dew was turning to mist.  My lungs were heavy with the stiff air.  My legs ached.  My arms pumped.  The peak was all that mattered.  Even Beans had slowed from all out sprints to a pace right next to my feet.  We were walking in stride, both focused on the trail.  Thirty minutes had passed and we were wearing down.  I felt alive, I felt strong, I felt pure.  A feeling that felt better than anything else.  Beans looked up at me, with her tongue hanging out and her breath panting for air.  "Almost there Beans"  I think she understand.  Her tail started to wag again.  I looked back to the trail and saw the peak.  The beautiful peak.  Finally!  We pushed a few more yards before planting on a giant boulder and soaked in the morning glory of the sun shining over Atlanta.  Perfect...