(Bear with me on this one. It takes me a little while to get to the point in the title but I think you will appreciate it.)

A little over a week ago, I found out that one of my cousins had been killed. We were really close growing up, but over the years life had taken us different directions. When I heard the news, I was immediately sad for his family and close friends.  I talked about it with my wife and kids a little. My boys had never met him, so they were curious about who he was and how we were connected. My wife knew him from high school and she talked about her memories of him acting a fool at school. In those brief moments of talking about it with my family, I had memories of us playing together after school. Those memories brought on some feelings of guilt and sadness because a part of me has always felt responsible for us growing apart. I didn’t do anything to push him away but perhaps I could have stepped in more and tried to have a bigger impact on his life and more influence on his choices. I didn’t beat myself up about it and as the week went on, I distanced myself further away from those thoughts. I did my best not to think about it as the week went on.

The funeral was last Saturday. As some of know, my dad had some health issues a few years back, and ended up losing his vision. It was the experience of being by his side during his health problems that led to the birth of Hype4Life. That was the moment that I vowed to take better care of myself and in doing so I was going to encourage others to do the same. I mention that because my dad doesn’t get out of the house much these days but he did attend the funeral. Despite the circumstances, I could tell he enjoyed being out and about, interacting with his family and friends. Seeing that was good food for my soul. My mom doesn’t get out much either, and she talks like she hates it but I could tell she also enjoyed the company of others. There is no doubt she would have much preferred to interact with them in the comfort of her own home, but even still, she enjoyed it. That too was good food for my soul. My sis joined us as well. It was nice seeing her helping dad around and I still remember the ring of her saying “sorry DADDY” as he stumbled a little bit over a raised area of the floor going through a doorway. My sis is great peeps but she can have a brash way about her, so hearing her say “DADDY” reminded me of how she will always be his little girl. Honestly, I didn’t intend to include these reflections in this blog but I am glad they fell upon me to share. They speak to the sweet moments that occurred on such a sad day.


The funeral service was well done and I seemed to be well in control of my emotions. After the service, it was business as usual so to speak. I took mom, dad, and sis to get some grub and then made some last minute store runs to get Valentines candy for the kids… per my wife’s request of course. As the day went on Saturday, I felt myself fighting the grumps and I wasn’t sure why. I remember playing NBA2K16 with my youngest son. It was early on in the game and he is always excited to play games video games with me. He was chatting away and I was doing my thing as best I could but he must have sensed I wasn’t my normal jovial self. He turned and looked at me three times in a row and I knew he was wondering what was up with me but he didn’t say anything and neither did I. I didn’t even make eye contact with him. Those three looks are burned into my memory.  It’s almost like it was the first time I felt like I let him down. It stings a little every time I think about it. I was trying to have a fun game with him but for some reason I just wasn’t myself. We finished the game and went on about our business as we normally do. After we got the kids to bed I decided to turn on a Netflix movie called “Brotherly Love”.  I enjoyed the start of it but fell asleep about midway through. When I woke up Sunday morning, I was not quite as grumpy but I still not my usual self. A buddy who volunteers with the kids at church with me stopped by my room and asked how I was doing. I told him I was doing pretty well and was trying to use the situation to reprioritize things in my life. I mentioned I hadn’t been very emotional about it and wasn’t sure if that was a blessing or a curse. After church I decided I was going to finish watching “Brotherly Love” while getting some exercise on the bike at home. So I jump on the bike, turn on the movie on my phone and boom… I find myself battling a ton of emotions and holding back tears. It was crazy. The plot of the movie hit me just right. It reminded me of my childhood and took me back to growing up with my cousin. I was trippin’ because the emotion and struggle to hold back tears came out of nowhere. A part of me wanted to stop right then and go let my wife in on what was going on so she could help me calm down and chill out. I talked myself out of that though. I generally don’t use profane verbiage but essential I told myself to stop being a bitch, so I stayed on the bike and finished the movie. I was on an emotional rollercoaster the entire way. I was so wound up that I had to go a couple rounds on the heavy bag when I was done. After that, I went into the bedroom with CA and told her about what just happened. She was as surprised as I was but didn’t say a whole lot. The crazy thing is how much better I felt after I told her about what had happened. She didn’t need to say anything, I just needed to stop hiding it from her.

So now we finally get to the subject of the blog. Looking back on it, I think I was STUCK trying to be strong for my family and it took a toll on me. I think the emotions I felt during the movie were intended to move me enough to let my guard down and simply SHARE what I was going through with my wife. It was like I was hiding this big secret from her that I didn’t need to hide. Often times we desperately try to shield those close to us from our problems thinking that’s the best approach. In doing so, we can easily get stuck there. The longer we stay stuck, the more comfortable we get being stuck there, and it becomes more difficult to move to a better place. This certainly applies to our health and fitness. We all get stuck trying to do it on our own, then when we fail, it gets harder and harder to move on. We don’t want others to see us fail so we don’t reach out. We carry the burden with us. We hide it. We keep fighting the good fight but we can sense things aren’t quite right but we don’t know where to turn. We don’t know how to move. In some cases, we are just incapable of moving on our own. So there it is fam. There is tons of information out there about how to get that perfect body, live healthier, and stay active but I stand firm on this point… the most important building block is not going it alone. Just imagine being stuck somewhere. I remember when my cousin and I were playing in the ditch and he got stuck in the concrete drainage pipe under the neighbor’s driveway. He wiggled. He squirmed. He yelled. He screamed. I yelled. I screamed. I tried to help but he insisted on getting himself out. It wasn’t working. Finally, he calmed down and agreed to let me try to help. Turns out that just doing that was all he really needed. Before I could get my hands on him, he wiggled himself free. Even though I didn’t physically help him, I think having me with him made all the difference. Knowing I was going to be there for him made all the difference. Thanks for always having my back and the great memories growing up cuzzo. We love you. -jp

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