#writeandrun31 Day 4


cold weather running

is something i really like

to include daily

A good friend of mine used to ask me to write more often. Usually he would as me to elaborate on something that we were talking about. Neither of us were under any illusion that anything I penned would change the world, but it would help me think through a lot of things. Things from my thoughts on current events to theories on youth development.  Even though we often speak about it, I have never been able to write consistently. The main reason is, I think, because so many other people do it better.

But. . .

So many people do so many things better. I am not the best pickler, fermenter, runner, program coordinator, or anything else. But that doesn’t matter. Perfection should not be the enemy of the good, right? I am daily telling the kids I work with that we learn by failing. We get better when we try to do something even if we aren’t successful.

So. . .

If I don’t let this bother me in other aspects of my life, why let it stop me from writing? I have found out that I learn more about myself and what I like when I try new things. I have also found out that I can be reluctant to try new things when I am pretty certain that I will fail or not be the best. This isn’t really a good way to live and I am going to do my best to kick it.


In addition to participating in #writeandrun31 I plan on writing at least one haiku a week. Each haiku will be inspired by a picture I take or a current event. My plan is to write both traditional and variant forms haikus. This will be a fun way for me to get back into writing and art.

#writeandrun31 Day 3

Reminiscing on Wrestling

Lately I have found myself listening to wrestling themed radio shows and watching old matches. This isn’t that surprising as I spent the better part of the first 18 years of my life watching wrestling (this is followed by another 3-4 years as a casual fan). In doing so I have realized that I actually enjoyed wrestling matches and disliked the soap opera nature of the “Attitude Era.”

The wrestling I enjoyed featured the good guys and the bad guys (or faces and heels). I loved watching Kamala take on Hulk Hogan in a steel cage match. Better yet was watching the British Bulldogs defeat the Hart Foundation. Crazier was watching Brett “The Hitman” Hart evolve from tag team competitor to the biggest name in professional wrestling. Sad was watching Tom “The Dynamite Kid” Billington destroy his body.

I’m not sure why I have been drawn to wrestling again, but I can say that it has been somewhat enjoyable. I don’t know the specifics of each feud, but I do know that folks like Jim Cornette are quite enjoyable.

#writeandrun31 Day 2

This is not meant to be a radical critique of technology or civilization. Than will come later.


Homies: The Picture – Photo by Rachel

This morning I went out for brunch with some friends. While we were eating Kevin and I were discussing the merits of different cell phone plans. One of the plans we discussed had what we described as a more local and decentralized feel to it. This was funny since the company is not based in Lawrence or even the Midwest. Our conversation quickly moved to discussing the importance of a nice camera-phone. Homies: The Picture was taken shortly after this conversation. . .with a phone.

I rely on my phone for so much more than calling people. I use it to take pictures, track my runs, take notes, serve as a Rolodex, check into flights, etc. On some levels it is hard to criticize the current models of cell phones. The convenience they bring to our civilized lives is, in someways, unmatched. Many people see their phone as an extension of themselves. When I bought my first “smartphone” I justified it by saying it would help me become more organized. Certain apps have definitely helped with that, but it is safe to say that the phone is simply a tool , it didn’t make me more organized. That first smartphone did, however, allow me to stare at a screen much more than I had in the past.

Back to the picture.

Brunch was quite pleasurable. Even though we were talking about cell phones, no one was distracted by them. Our brunch was a pleasant reminder that in-person conversations are much more fulfilling than a Facebook status or the latest Tweet. Besides, there was plenty of time to post the picture once brunch was over. . .how else would my Mom have been able to see it?


This is my first post for the #writeand31 project. It is crossposted at https://chrislempa.wordpress.com/writerun31/.


For many years  I have wanted to become a more active writer. When I started my first blog I thought that it would be a vehicle for me to do just that. Unfortunately that didn’t work out.

Then yesterday happened. I received an email from the No Meat Athlete listserv announcing #writeandrun31. The idea is simple. Write and run every day for 31 straight days. The project was inspired by the following Seth Godin blog post

There’s a fundamental difference between the things you do every day, every single day, and the things you do only when the spirit moves you.

One difference is that once you’ve committed to doing something daily, you find that the spirit moves you, daily.

Rather than having a daily debate about today’s agenda, you can decide once that you will do something, and then decide every single day how to do it.

How practical. So practical that I have no excuse not to do this. My goal will be to write at least 250 words a day. I am setting this low because it is attainable but will still be a challenge based on my general output. The running end will be a little bit easier for me. My goal will be to run at least 30 minutes everyday. I will make an exception on days that I go to the gym. On gym days I will exercise for at least 1 hour.

At the end of the 31 days I will work on making a regular writing schedule. My running schedule will be set by the Run Walk Lawrence training program that I am starting on Saturday, January 3 2015.

Go Play Outside!

My experiences in the youth programming field can relate to this post. A number of the youth I work with prefer to play inside near the outlets. One boy told me that the reason we don’t play video game outside is because “there are no outlets.”

Fortunately we have found this trend can be reversed through positive engagement. Phones, tablets, and computers are not and should not be used as pacifiers. Parents and other adults need to set better examples – I sure need to work on this!

Premise Four

Random thought. . .

The best thing that Derrick Jensen ever wrote was Premise Four in his book Endgame:

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

Premise Four provides a great starting point if we want to understand what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri.

Help Me Run the Chicago Marathon

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” – Lou Gehrig

Dad and Chris at the New Comiskey

Dad and Chris at the New Comiskey. This was the last live White Sox game we attended.

Short version – I am running the Chicago Marathon in honor of Ken Lempa, my dad. He was a runner and a victim of ALS. Please support my efforts to find a cure for ALS. Donation may be made online (http://webchicago.alsa.org/site/TR/Runs/Chicago?px=3557317&pg=personal&fr_id=10382) or by contacting me (8 lempa 8 (at) gmail . com).

I ran my first official race this past Thanksgiving (2013). It was a fun Pi-K (3.14 miles. . .get it?) that involved a lot of pie. It was also two weeks before my 33 birthday. . .and my Dad’s passing. It was very important for me to run this race for two reasons. First I wanted to make sure that my Dad – a runner up until he could no longer stand on his own – would be able to hear about my first race. The second reason had to do with a memory. The first race that I ever saw my Dad run was a Turkey Trot. I remember that he gave me the sweatshirt from the run. A sweatshirt that I proudly wore for years.

Dad’s two year battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig‘s Disease) ultimately took his life and led to emotional distress for those he knew, but he always made it a point to encourage me. This was especially true when it came to my then new found love of running. He was one of the only people that didn’t laugh when I told him that my ultimate goal was to run a 100 mile ultra-marathon. In fact, his response was to tell me to get a good pair of shoes and drink a lot of water. I now run in top notch running shoes and carry at least 20 ounces of water on every run.

Shortly after Dad died I joined a half marathon training program. I knew that this would help clear my mind and keep me physically active. It worked so well that I then signed up for a marathon training program. Of course if you are in a marathon training program you also need to sign-up for a marathon. It was around this time that I was approached by my good friends at the Chicago ALS Association about joining Team ALS’s Chicago Marathon team. I thought about it for a few days and eventually decided that there was no better way to honor my Dad than to run a marathon in his hometown while fighting to cure the disease that killed him.

A friend recently asked me how I dealt with the pain inflicted on my family by this terrible disease. I told her that I still try to look for the positive aspect of even the most negative situation. I don’t think my Dad would want us to be sad. I think he would want us to enjoy life and do what we can to make the world a better place. Please join me as I support the ALS Association and every individual who has been touched by this awful disease.

On Government, Insurance Companies, and ALS or #NoWhiteFlags

Steve Gleason has done a lot to bring attention to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Please read this letter that he wrote to his congressional delegation. Living with such a debilitating condition is not easy. Government and insurance companies have the ability to make it just a little bit easier. Unfortunately they usually do the exact opposite.

An Open Letter to Louisiana Senators and Congressmen:

Dear Senators Landrieu, Vitter and all Louisiana Members of Congress,

Recently, legislation was introduced to ensure patient access to quality, complex rehabilitation technology. An example of that technology is my power chair. I cannot imagine living with ALS (or any other physically restrictive disease) without a power chair. It is not only a necessity, it is a means of independence for me and my caregivers. The bi-partisan legislation introduced is S. 948 and HR 942. While every organization that supports the care of people with physical limitations supports this, not one legislator from Louisiana has signed it as of today.

Adding to this, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMMS) have new rules which become effective April 1st. Exactly the opposite of the legislation above, these superfluous rules will inhibit people from having consistent access to essential communication devices. The term essential is not hyperbole. I use my eyes to type on one of these devices. Essential communication; from requests for food or water, to telling my family I love them, advocating at the United Nations, or open letters to policy makers.

While I am very fortunate to have the ability to own and customize my equipment, most people who are dealing with ALS, and conditions like ALS, do not. Living with a physically debilitating disease is not only a tremendous emotional burden, but a financial one as well. By taking away access to these devices, the CMMS is harming the very people the institution was created to help.

Imagine if your cell phone, tablet and laptop were taken away when you had a hospital visit. While it is logical to rent “simple” machines like a car or a pressure washer for periods at a time, renting complex and customizable technology like a cell phone, tablet or laptop is far less viable, especially when that technology is your only means of connecting to the world.

I was recently in a Microsoft commercial. The commercial shows how transformative technology has been to individuals and the world. Microsoft calls these technologies “empowering”. These new rules from the CMMS will quash the power that technology gives people like me… people who intend to be productive and purposeful.

Please sign S 948 and HR 942. And, please introduce immediately an exclusion for Speech Generating Devices (SGDs). Thank you for your attention to this important issue and for your voice in Washington, DC. Through your support, you will also safeguard the voices of thousands of others.

Steve Gleason