Calculate your current blessed rating out of a 100 point scale.
You’re reading this: 98.5 points
(This factors in the fact that you are alive and have the means to access the internet and the wealth of information it provides. We can further deduce that you have the means to feed yourself, access to clean drinking water, and have your other essentials covered.)
You are in love: 10 points
You have children: 10 points
You have grandchildren: 10 points
You have great grand children: 10 points
You make a living doing what you love: 5 points
You’re debt free: 5 points
You purchased Apple stock before 2000 and still own it: 5 points
Now total your score:
98.5 – 100: Blessed
100 – 109.5: Really Blessed
110 – 119.5: Crazy Blessed
120 and over: Mega Blessed
I’m Really Blessed on my way to Mega Blessed and chances are you are too.
Give thanks for today and wish yourself and others well.
Dear Family, Friends, Strangers, Future Associates, and World Wide Web,
Earlier this week, I posted about my experiences running a Piggy Back Spartan Race with my sister Carden. It was an extraordinary experience, taking a stand against muscular dystrophy and not letting it define what can and can’t be done physically. That post, and some of the facebook photos, have gotten quite a bit of web traffic and social media attention, and for that I’m very grateful of the power of the web and sharing. I’m also extremely thankful for those of you who have donated to our mission – we set out with a $500.00 goal and raised $690.00 – awesome stuff. People I haven’t connected with in years are reconnecting and reaching out and that is a wonderful thing. Simultaneously, I’m being flooded with personal emails, comments, and speaking face to face about how inspiring that story is, and for that I’m incredibly thankful and we feel the love and support from each of you. So much adoration this week, it honestly feels like Carden and I can do no wrong in this moment.
So Here’s The Thing People…
I am a regular guy who does regular guy good things and regular guy bad things and I fail quite often, usually in a forward direction, or so I think.
The reason I’m sharing this is because I can see (ever so slightly now) how a ton of “overnight” attention can get into a person’s head and mess with their psyche. I also don’t want to be portrayed as this super great brother guy who can do no wrong and has it all figured out. Yes I love my sister, yes I struggle with the fact that she struggles every single day, yes we ran an extraordinary Spartan Race, but that doesn’t mean I’m this Golden Child either… I have tons of faults that I’m working on. And personally, I don’t want to have any Kony 2012-ish meltdowns of my own – so I’m writing today with the intention of self inflicting some humility on myself and giving my audience some more honest truths about me. I’m really nervous about sharing all of this, but I think that’s a good place to be. Some people might even respond back to this and say, “Spencer – you shouldn’t share all of your faults, insecurities, and misbehaviors online because now people will perceive you as those things.” To that I say, maybe they will, maybe they won’t… I consider this as a step towards living my life with full transparency. If I have nothing to hide, there’s nothing anyone can do or say to break me down or have against me. This post is a test of strength, and most of the time those tests are uncomfortable and difficult – so here goes…
List of my Not So Perfect, Often Disgusting, Just a Regular Guy things I do:
I sometimes leave the seat up after I pee standing up… OK, most of the time I leave it up.
Sometimes when I pee standing up, it splashes everywhere – and sometimes I clean it up right then… but sometimes I don’t.
Usually I brush my teeth twice a day, sometimes it’s only once, there was a time in my life where it was less often than once a day admittedly…
I have really bad smelling farts and they reload often… particularly recently. I think it’s because my nutrition and gut health hasn’t been top notch recently.
My feet smell after a long day of being in socks and that only gets worse if you throw a workout in the mix.
I drink alcohol, typically only on weekends – beer, wine, whiskey, tequila
This morning, I had Oreos for breakfast – that was before finally getting motivated to going to the store to buy eggs and bacon. This is not completely out of the ordinary.
I will pick my nose, usually in the car or when I’m deep in thought at a computer. Most of the time I don’t realize I’m doing it, but sometimes I do, but then I keep doing it anyway. It’s super gross, but sometimes I eat those boogers too.
I used to have an addiction to pornography – the temptations are still there and I give in to the temptations occasionally and then feel bad about it afterwards like an AA person who slips up.
I stress all the time about money – how I don’t think I’m making enough or worried that I won’t have enough to live the lifestyle I want to live or support a family.
I’ve smoked marijuana, I inhaled it, and I still do in moderation.
I’ve never been in a fist fight and often wonder how I would do in one… that being said, I have been hit in the face by a punch – but I don’t remember how or why it happened… I was probably being a dick at the time which brings us to the next point…
I’ve been to jail 3 times – all three were misdemeanors, all three were alcohol related, all three were expunged.
I can be a jerk sometimes, usually unintentionally, and there are times when I feed into other people’s gossip or create gossip – I’m not proud of it and am getting better at putting out those unnecessary, destructive fires.
I have taken psychedelic drugs before – but haven’t done so in years.
I have taken a picture of my man parts before and sent it to someone full well knowing it will probably live somewhere on the internet forever.
I can get really angry, but most of the time keep a cool head and am good under pressure.
I get down on myself pretty easily and often because I constantly have high expectations for my accomplishments.
That’s all I can think of at the moment – there’s probably more – but for now, weight lifted.
Why did I just share all this?
Because you needed to know and it strengthens me to share it with you. The truth is, I want to be an inspiration to others and educate masses of people along the way, and that mission is a journey… and it would be undeserved, irresponsible, and untrustworthy of me to just accept current and future adorations without sharing my faults that make me (and You) human. So that’s where I’m currently at in my human process – I hope you see this post as an act of courage versus a chance to judge, ridicule, or start your own gossip cycle. The things I’ve shared might close some doors, and I’m ok with that. However, as God as my witness, I think the doors it will open will be doors I’m more interested in walking through.
Thank you for your support and your readership. More great content coming to you soon.
Three ordinary people set out toward the Georgia International Horse Park on Saturday March 7, 2015 around 7:00am. Our bellies were full of steel cut oats and maple syrup – fuel for the day’s main event – the Atlanta Sprint Spartan Race. The crew: Dani Pasierb, Carden Wyckoff, and Spencer Wyckoff were listening to Barbell Shrugged’s episode #147, where they showcase Tony The Fridge – an ordinary man doing extraordinary things.
quick aside: Tony the Fridge raises money for curing cancer through running ultra marathons with a large 42kg fridge on his back. There are so many pearls of wisdom in this particular podcast with Tony, however my favorite part is when he speaks about the two other voices inside his head. 1 voice says he’s done enough, it’s ok to stop, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. The other voice says no, keep going, don’t stop ever, do more do more do more. During the races, Tony tells his interviewers “I take both of these (subconscious) voices, and I tell them to shut the $&%# up.” From what I can tell, Tony is a master of getting into a mindset that solely focuses on things that matter in the present – focus on breathing, focus on each step – over and over again – he paints this picture of laser like focus when doing his races.
Back to the Tale of the Piggy Back Spartan Race… So we arrive around 8:00am, an hour before our start time (or so we thought). The venue resembled a large music festival type event, with lots of people, vendor booths, dj booth, course obstacles, and mud… yes LOTS of MUD. We each became instantly excited and a bit nervous about what we were getting ourselves into.
We pull into handicapped parking, and found a spot in front of a dumpster that honestly probably wasn’t even a spot until we made it one. We step outside, take a deep breath of fresh air, and realize – it’s chilly outside, low 40’s chilly… this is going to get interesting. “Ok, we ready to do this?” I ask Dani and Carden. We agree, and then I assume the position that I will be assuming for the bulk of this day – I squat down in front of Carden, she gracefully falls over on top me, and we take the form of a brother/sister piggy back. Just like Tony racing with his fridge for cancer, we raced to take a stand against Muscular Dystrophy – FSH MD in particular. If you’re interested in supporting Carden’s cause – check this out.
So we go to check in – and find out our race start time is at 10:30am as opposed to 9:30am which we originally thought. So, nearly 2 hours early, we had to painfully wait for our turn to race – the tension started to build. We purchased some shirts and watched some of the elites finish their races with jumping over a big bonfire and splashing into the final mud pit. We were getting anxious, and cold, so we went back to the car to warm up and mentally prepare. After some time, conversation, and failed attempts at streaming pump up music over crappy cellular service, we made our way to the start line for the 10:30am heat. In fact, to get to the starting line, you have to first scale a 6 foot high wall… our first obstacle. Knowing that we were going to encounter a bunch of these, we found this was the perfect way to start our journey. Dani hopped over the wall first, then I lifted Carden over it and placed her in Dani’s arms. From there I jump over the wall myself, and Dani hands Carden back to me. Boom – first obstacle overcome.
The time has come. We’re in a heat of a couple hundred able bodied people who were chomping at the bit to start this adventure, and we were just 3 ordinary people out of that group. There was a very fast talking hype man who greeted our group, led us through a few AROOS!, and blazed through the risks and liabilities at lightning, Twista-like pace. Spartans Ready?!?! GOOO!!! Our pack begins to move, 99% of them running and jogging ahead, leaving us in the back of the pack. We weren’t racing for personal records today, our purpose was extraordinary though – help Carden complete a Spartan Race in the face of her muscular dystrophy. Since she is not too sturdy on her feet, the only way to accomplish this was through a piggy back ride. So there we were, at the back of the pack, taking our first steps forward as a team on a mission.
The first mile we encountered a good bit of obstacles – the first was 3 or 4 giant mud / water pits. Carefully, we stepped through the sludge and came out ok. There was a moment where I almost completely lost my footing and fell over with Carden – that would have been a really bad sign only 1/4 mile into a 3-5 mile race… but we kept the balance and kept forging on – mud entirely in the shoes. Next obstacles were high, uneven logs to climb over. We were able to lift Carden over each of these obstacles and make it happen – no burpess for us yet… Then we reach our first BIG obstacle – the high wall triplet. The high wall triplet is a series of three walls increasing in height. The first wall was probably 7 feet, next 8.5ft, finally 10ft. We managed to get Carden over the first 7 footer, yet the 8.5 and 10ft were asking a little too much. Dani and I knocked out Carden’s 30 burpee penalty for each of the two walls she couldn’t scale. Yes, there is a 30 burpee penalty for each obstacle a racer does not complete, no exceptions, so that was par for the course. The first mile finished with some cross country trails through the woods.
The second mile started to encounter more hills and obstacles. Most of the elements Carden could not complete on her own, so Dani and I were doing burpees – a good bit of them. We started getting some notice from our fellow racers – a bunch of “Can I have a piggy back too?” remarks started flying around more often, usually just in passing. Some of the elements we faced were a 3 sided rock climbing wall, a large monkey bar set, and some 2-3 story high obstacles to climb up, over, and down from. My body was starting to feel the weight of Carden, however I was in a pretty good place mentally, focusing carefully on each step, and taking each obstacle as it came without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of it. One “obstacle” they had during this phase of the race was a memory section. You had to stare at a giant board of codes and memorize the 7 digit number sequence and passcode that corresponded to your race # – you were going to have to remember this towards the end. When I saw the 2 mile marker – there was a moment I thought, thank you God, there is only ~1 mile left to go. This is after all a 5k right…?
Mile 3 started off with some GIANT mud hills and ice cold water pits – 5 or 6 of them in total. Unfortunately, we knew we were’t going to be able to scale these with Carden, so after getting through it, covering ourselves in mud, and knocking out the 3 burpees – we smeared mud all over Carden so she could wear that muddy feel of the race. It was during this obstacle too, that we made our first friends – The Latino Ninja Guardian Angel Twins. These guys didn’t speak a bunch of English, but they did wear Sub-Zero like Mortal Combat masks, and they took notice of what we were doing and began to knock out some of Carden’s burpees with us. They always seemed to be in our peripheral for the remainder of the course, hence the term guardian angels. Mile 3 was particularly rough – we encountered a bunch of hills, a grueling obstacle with a large bucket of rocks, and several others. For me, it was getting through the hills that was the toughest part – we’ve made such great progress thus far – just keep moving forward.
Thank the Lord – we just saw the 3rd mile marker. That means we’re in the home stretch right? A 5k is 3.1 miles – so we should be nearing the finish line! Well this is technically a Spartan Sprint – which is loosely described as 3-5 miles after some more research… eh just another minor obstacle we took in stride. At the time, we didn’t know it, but we were actually coming closer to our greatest obstacle yet. We started scaling down a very steep hill. We were getting very worried that we might not be able to continue, but some fellow Spartans began volunteering their help and guided us down to the bottom of it. Ok, can it get much tougher than that??? Well yes, it can. After traversing the bottom of the hill, we began to approach another, steeper version of that same hill we just climbed down – however this time everyone was climbing up it… It get’s nearly vertical towards the top…
I’m scared. Carden’s scared. Dani’s scared. We’re all scared. We’re looking for a way out, there is none – only at the top of this hill or go back – and we weren’t going back. So we made the decision to scale this 3 story mud mountain using just cargo nets, ropes, and the help of other Spartans. It started at a gentle incline, but soon got to be incredibly steep. If I lose my footing now, Carden and I will fall nearly 3 stories, taking out other people behind us in the process. There was no option for failure. Step by step, we make our way up the mountain, and once I scaled over the top to safety let out this primal, celebratory roar. People were amazed at what they just witnessed. A few people even called me their hero and kept racing – it was an inspiring moment, a moment where I felt all my personal mental and physical barriers shattered. I haven’t been the same since. But no time to pop champagne yet… we still had plenty of race to run. At this time, we had two local guys, Chase and Brandon, join our team and they helped us for the remainder of the race – thank God for those guys.
Here we are, the home stretch – the final mile. Back is sore, feet are tired, we are all completely covered in mud and grime, yet we can hear the music playing and can feel the energy of the finish line. Some of the obstacles we took on included climbing over tall gymnastics-like bars, carrying atlas stones, and throwing spears at hay targets – quick glory moment, I went 2 for 2 on the spear throw so Carden didn’t have burpees to do for that one, no big deal 🙂
All of this was leading up to the final 250 yards of the race, which was 250 yards of all obstacles. One of the standouts was a 60 yard, barbed wire space that you had to crawl under in the ice cold mud. Carden was determined to get this one done, despite her immobility and lack of upper and lower body strength. Without assistance, she made it 45 of the 60 yards herself before fatigue finally set in. We pulled her through the remaining 15 yards, and she triumphed. Unfortunately, this triumph came at a cost… The ice cold mud had put her into a pre-hypothermic state. She was frozen to the bone and shivering uncontrollably. We got her off the course and called for medical assistance. A medical team came over and wrapped her in solar blankets and correctly suggested that she go to the medical tent to heat up. But if anyone knows Carden, they know that she wasn’t up for this option – not until the race was finished. So I got her on piggy back one last time and walked through the remainder of the course, dodging the final few obstacles and going ahead without our teammates. Time was of the essence here and Carden was potentially heading towards hypothermia. Upon finishing, there were no flashing lights, no post-race interviews, or photo finishes. Simply the knowledge that we conquered an incredible challenge and took a stand against muscular dystrophy and FSH together and that with a great team you can achieve a seemingly impossible goal – that’s what Spartans do. AROO!
If you’re interested in supporting Carden’s cause and fundraiser for a cure… navigate to our Go Fund Me page. I believe this won’t be the last time we set out for an incredible challenge like this.
So freaking pumped for this weekend’s Spartan Race in Atlanta. Best part is, I get to do it with my sister Carden and officially, as of about 10 min ago, my girlfriend Dani – way to go girl! Truth is, I never really intended to do one of these races – and then I got inspired one day. In August 2014, I was listening to Barbell Shrugged’s episode #147, I was deeply inspired by listening to a 52 year old man known as Tony – The Fridge. This man straps a 93 pound fridge on his back and runs ultra marathons raising awareness and money for cancer, which has deeply impacted his life and his family. When asked, “why do you strap a fridge on your back – isn’t that inconvenient?” he answers something like “of course it’s inconvenient! do you think cancer is convenient???” That resonated with me, and I’ll tell you why below – quick poll: would you rather watch 1hr of really inspiring stuff or 1 hr of Vampire Diaries – if your answer is Vampire Diaries, leave immediately. If it’s inspiring stuff, I strongly suggest you watch this…
One of the biggest takeaways I got from Tony The Fridge, is that he claims to be a normal guy – he just has super human resilience. I believe we can all manifest this power through practice and enough healthy stubbornness. So that’s what I’m going to do with my sister Carden this Saturday. We’re going to complete a Spartan Race together. Quick history lesson – Carden has FSHD, a rare type of muscular dystrophy that sabotages her muscles and limits her mobility, and it neither has a cure nor any real treatment at the moment. The thing about Carden is, she doesn’t let any of it stop her – she is the most resilient person I know for this and possibly the bravest person I know too. So this Saturday we’re teaming up to run the Spartan Race together to flip a giant bird in the face of FSHD. She will do the parts she can, and I will help her through the bulk of it. Will it be convenient? Of course not, but neither is her living with FSHD and it won’t stop us from completing our task at hand.
Earlier today, I made my 25th blog post about how I Love Teaching – and it’s already been getting really nice traffic. What is nice traffic you ask?!? Well for a tiny phytoplankton in this giant internet ocean like myself, that looks like about 35-50 views – nothing earth shattering – but I’m loving the experience and the internal insights. Writing is coming very naturally, and it’s really helping sort out my version of the human experience and organize my thoughts. Sometimes it might look like ramblings – however some posts feel like the makings of some really quality content. Usually, it’s just close family and friends finding it entertaining. Whatever it is, it’s a good thing and this post is about reflecting on my last 25 blog posts, 3 personal transformations, and my favorite posts to date.
3 Transformations Since Starting to Blog:
Two weeks ago, I began volunteering two nights a week to teach children, ages 13-18, how to code in HTML & CSS. This has been tremendous, seeing kids light up about embedding a YouTube video or listing out their favorite foods and attaching pictures on a web page has really sparked some curiosities in a few youngsters that might grow into something great. This has ignited a passion for educating people, and particularly youngsters that I want to seek out further.
Started a Morning Routine that I’ve been consistent with 90% of mornings. This one practice is BY FAR the most important key to my recent performance and productivity improvements. Why report about a 90%? Because I’m human and want to emphasize how nobody is perfect, and there have been days I’ve woken up and not felt up to my hour-ish long routine. The one thing I have noticed is this: The days where I don’t complete a morning routine are the days I’m typically least productive, which is a great thing to know about one’s self.
Meditate for ~20min per day. Doing this in the mornings helps me come alive and focus on the task of the day. Doing it in the evening helps clear my mind of the day and prepare for a restful night sleep. Overall, the benefits to my mood and mental stability have been phenomenal and I would recommend this practice to anyone who is setting aside even just 2-5min a day.
My Top 7 Favorite Posts Thus Far (in order):
why 7?…. why not…?
My Morning Routine – It’s the one I link back to most and have edited the most, it’s my best work in progress.
Oh Snap! That’s a Cold Shower! – Entrepreneur on Fire’s John Lee Dumas commented on this post and really inspired some great confidence about what I’m doing.
1 (More) Reason I Love my Mother – This has been, BY FAR the most visited post. That’s because thanks to my mother’s Facebooking abilities, she was able to share it and attract nearly 900 unique visits to my site that day. Even WordPress told me the post was, and I quote, “Blowing up.”
Preparing to Ignite – This was the post right that inspired the morning routine. I realized on this day that turning 30 was 1,282 days away and I wanted to transform.
“I am Groot” – surprisingly, this post got me about 3 or 4 follows (like 30-40% of my followers at this time…) It was a reaction to my experiences watching Guardians of the Galaxy and a metaphorical analysis of the Groot character.
Group Therapy: Lessons from our 1st Group Project – We’ll round out the list with a reflection on what I learned from completing our first group project between back end, front end, and iOS developers. It’s an honest post with some good takeaways.
My great grandmother, Genevieve, God rest her soul, lived to the age of 96. She was widowed during World War II and raised her son Toby Maxwell, my grandfather, by herself and was a very mentally strong woman. I remember distinctly a moment when she pulled me aside and asked me the question, “Spencer, do you know what my secret to long life is?” I must have been 13 years old at the time and politely responded, “Of course!” She gazed directly into my eyes, paused for a moment and built up my suspense, and calmly stated, “Cold showers.”
Quick aside… I am a millennial born, American-raised male who enjoys the comforts of our the first world as much as anyone – my smart phone, laptop, pillow top mattress, etc. So the thought of deliberately taking an uncomfortable cold shower was nonsense and was cast away for over 10 years… until 2 weeks ago. I was in my normal morning routine, listening to Entrepreneur on Fire episode #848, where Ben Greenfield shared how he was fired up about cold showers. When he was asked the question, “Why do you take cold showers?” he listed off 6 or 7 different physiological and psychological benefits to cold showers and he ended his statement by saying, “and because it makes you tougher.”
Sure, cold shower physiological benefits are great, but what really resonated with my soul was the “it makes you tougher” part – and not this Macho Man, WWE image of toughness, but specifically “Mental Toughness.” Being able to overcome and conquer the variety of troubles life throws at you is a learned skill, and my personal goal is that of stoicism. Stoicism, by definition, is the endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint. So in my path towards this goal – cold showers are being added to My Morning Routine.
My Cold Shower Approach:
So… I’m not all the way in on this yet, and don’t want to portray that I am. My current approach is the first 50% of my shower is lukewarm (half hot, half cold) and then for the last 50%, I turn it to all cold. I think this is a great start for the beginner looking to make a transition. You can adapt it to be 90% lukewarm and finish the last 10 seconds of the shower all cold and get a similar effect. Doing this is better than a cup of coffee in the morning, guaranteed. I find I’m much more alert the rest of the morning and feel much more present in the moment.
The first time I turned to all cold, holy crap, I was screeching like a little girl, gasping for breath, body clinching, fighting the overwhelming sensations that were robbing me of all happy thoughts in the moment. Now, after nearly 2 weeks of practice, I find myself accepting the coldness and almost welcoming it with much less body clinch. You can do this, and it will get better.
In time, I see myself fully committing to a 100% cold shower, but for now it’s still in the testing phase and I feel progress has been solid thus far.
Some extra inspiration:
One of my role models is Rich Froning – 4 time champion of the CrossFit Games, and he has an entertaining video of one of his workouts called “Mental Toughness.” During “Mental Toughness”, he and a training buddy complete a workout, in the snow, that finishes with a swim in an icy cold pond – furthering demonstrating my point from above.