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Dome Pondering - 2013 Year in Review

Is it just me, or did 2013 just fly by? Maybe it's just me. Maybe. Either way, this year felt like it started, happened, and wrapped up rather quickly. Really quickly. Regardless, here we are in the final hours of the year, reflecting, remembering, honoring, awarding, and concluding everything that was 2013. In traditional fashion, let's look back on 2013 as well as look toward 2014 with the DP's biggest post of the year (like we do every year) - the Year in Review post.

In what has become a growing tradition here in the DPYIR post, I would like to thank all of you - the readers - for visiting this little site called Dome Pondering this year. What has been the upward trend over the past two years, once again rings true as the site has grown in content, feedback (always welcomed! - see: twitter), and overall hits and readership. Again, a major thank you.

Also, I'd like to thank the awesome people over at TNAsylum (A wrestling blog for those of you who are into that crazy addiction I suffer from) who not only recruited and invited me to share my thoughts and punch the keys for the well-read site, but also have allowed me to contribute via my own column as well. Gracias. 

With the usual gracious and extremely humbling appreciations now extended to those who are deserving, it's time to get this thing started! And of course, as always anticipated, we'll begin with the traditional thirty-three Pondy awards for 2013 (Pondy Awards History). 

The Pondy Awards

Crucial Moment of the Year: Boston Marathon Bombing and Suspect Pursuit

This was just an intense time, not just for the resilient city of Boston, but for the nation as well. Seeing from afar how the city of Boston was shutdown during the hunt for the two suspects was surreal. It was a clear, frightening, and very real reminder that we are vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Even more scarier, frightening, and real? The fact that these terrorists could be among us, living what seem as very normal lives.

A very - VERY - crucial time. And one that has expanded our defense in this ongoing war against our freedoms. 

Honorable Mention - Yemen Terrorist Plot Uncovered

World Affairs Issues of the Year: Potential/Possible U.S. Attack on Syria 

This was a pretty touchy subject throughout the summer as the U.S. considered striking Syria for it's government's role in using chemical weapons during their ongoing civil war. The tension grew as countries begin taking sides on the issue, including Iran, who Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened backlash on the U.S., Russia, and other allies should they attack Syria. 

Here at home, the potential strike of course caused a stir due to the potential of starting yet another war, especially on the heels of wrapping up projects in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Honorable Mention - Iranian Nuclear Weapons, Nelson Mandela's Death, Philippines Typhoon, and Kenyan Mall Shootings. 

Inspirational Story of the Year: Recovery of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle McKnight

After being saved from the scumbag (I refuse to give him any type of mention on this blog) who held them captive and brutalized for a decade, all three women have made strides in returning back to normal life and rehabilitating themselves to not only catch up on the time they have missed, but to maximize the time they have remaining. All the best to all three. 

Random Story of the Year: Manti Te'o Girlfriend Hoax

Wow, was this story weird or what? And my goodness was it random! Just when all the details were out, the story took another turn, and another, and yet another, just to reveal that Te'o really had an girlfriend he never really had, but thought he did, and also thought died from cancer. But in reality, never existed. And really was just someone over the internet leading him on through a fake identity. Good grief. 

It's amazing there are some people who buy into that. Yet, it's rather sickening to think about the wackos who sit at home going through tons of effort to fool someone else. And it's even more sad our society glorifies this with a TV show on MTV. Oh MTV, you just won't stop until you've completely destroyed society. 

Honorable Mention - Edward Snowden Leak Story and Dennis Rodman's Relationship with North Korea

Most Controversial Story of the Year: George Zimmerman Trial (Trayvon Martin Justice)

This issue was highly controversial. Sprouting from Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, to racial profiling, to the double standards that exist within the race relations we subconsciously live by in America, this story covered some heavy topics, some blown out of proportion, some uncovered for years. It's a shame the trial become such a motive for commercialism propaganda and protest and not one for true progression. 

Even until this day, regarding the whole ordeal, the only thing I truly to think about is the pain Trayvon Martin's parents must feel.

Honorable Mention - Obamacare (Affordable Healthcare Act), Budget Cliff Crisis, Government Shutdown, Death of Christopher Lane, Steubenville, Ohio Rape Case, and Mike Rice/Rutgers Coaching Abuse

Most Overrated Story of the Year: Miley Cyrus MTV Performance

Look, it really wasn't a big deal. I'm not sure why people were so "appalled" by it. After all, it is the MTV Video Music Awards. What do you expect? Actual musicianship and artful performances? Miley knew what was going down. Robin Thicke did too (yes he did - you know it). MTV did as well. And so did you. It's why anyone - everyone - watches the VMA's - for the next car crash.

So finally, let's all stop acting like Miley's twerking is the reason for our national deficit growing by the minute, our country falling behind the world in education, and as if our youth aren't viewing worse things on television. O-ver-rate-ed. Big time. Let's move on. 

Oh, and by the way, we all wonder why Miley was in the news so much in 2013? Look no further than our own selves. We built that monster. 

Honorable Mention - Birth of the Royal Baby

Tune of the Year: Avicii (and Aloe Blacc) - "Wake Me Up"

I actually enjoyed the year in music that was 2013. Some of my favorite albums were "Prisoner of Conscious" by Talib Kweli, "Marshal Mathers LP 2" by Eminem, "Lightning Bolt" by Pearl Jam, "Mechanical Bull" by Kings of Leon, "Stories Don't End" by Dawes, and "Life on a Rock" by Kenny Chesney. Even mainstream radio wasn't all that bad. Except for country. Seriously, whether you like the genre or not (and I'm not a huge fan), it's usually true to itself. Well written. Thoughtful. True instrumentals. Not anymore. Flordia Georgia Line and Luke Bryan?! Woof. Country has sold out. Just bloggin...

Nonetheless, of them all, Avicii's "Wake Me Up" (with the vocals of Aloe Blacc) is such a well-written song with awesome vocals, a great sound, and oh yeah, it's just so damn well written. To be honest, the lyrics alone could stand alone as a tremendous poem. Just a great song. Just great.

Invention of the Year: ReWalk

Gosh...any invention that helps those disabled by paralysis take a step towards walking and mobility again is a hands-down favorite for this Pondy. 

Honorable Mention - The Argus II and SnapChat

Comeback of the Year: Mariano Rivera

As amazing as Mariano Rivera is as a person and a pitcher, is just as amazing was his return from torn knee ligaments at the age of 43. The future Hall of Fame and this guy's favorite athlete of all-time did exactly what he has done his entire career - dominate. At age 43! That's pretty impressive. That's quite the comeback.

"Wishing Well" Award of the Year: Renewed Accountability in Society

It was only a matter of time before this finally earned itself a Pondy. Our society continues to move towards a culture of blaming everything else for shortcomings (e.g. race, mental disorders, diseases, addictions, others, government, economy, etc...) while still taking advantage of the freedoms provided to us. The sad part is this is highly prevalent in the next generation. It would be nice to have some accountability in our society, and have individuals take responsibility for their actions and lives.

"Just Go Away" Award of the Year: Justin Beiber

This kid is the epitome of a punk. Talk about someone that is now wasting talent and humanitarian opportunities for selfish and egotistical concerns. Nothing more evident of that than his "retirement" tweet/announcement on the night of Christmas Eve. Thanks Beibs, just had to try to steal Christmas, huh?

Sadly, again, I'll admit, he's super talented. But seeing a young adult like Taylor Swift handle herself just makes you appreciate her that much more even if you do not like her music. Beibs, again, is just a punk at this point that is more of a nuisance than anything. I'm sort of sick of it. I'm sure you are too. So are a lot of people.

Beibs, and heck, "Beliebers" as well, just go away.

Honorable Mention - Miley Cyrus, Twerking, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Harlem Shake Videos, and Selfies

"Largest Fortitude" Award of the Year: Diana Nyad

Anyone with the guts to attempt and complete a swim (without a shark cage) from Cuba to Key West, Florida easily wins this Pondy. That takes some big time fortitude.

"We'll Miss You" Award of the Year: Nelson Mandella

Pretty self explanatory here. A tremendous man that changed the way a lot of us look at life, and left behind an example of forgiveness that is extraordinary.

Honorable Mention - Paul Walker and Mariano Rivera's Cutter

"What Were You Thinking" Award of the Year: The Onion's Disgusting Tweet (Towards Quvenzhane Wallis)

I get it. The Onion is full of satire and sarcasm, and is there to entertain. But tweeting this about a 9 yeard-old actor who just received an Oscar - a flipping Oscar! - is just ridiculous! It really leaves you wondering, whoever sent that text, what the heck they were thinking? If at all.

Honorable Mention - Alex Rodriguez, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian - "North West" child name, Anthony Weiner, and Miley Cyrus

"What a Shame" Award of the Year: Mass/Senseless Shootings

Remember when mass shootings were something that truly shocked and stunned us as a nation? I still remember watching the events of Columbine, Colorado as a teenager with horror, concern, and fear. Now it seems that mass shootings are far too common. We've become desensitized to it, which is just alarming in so many ways. Such a shame.

"Welcome to the Scene" Award of the Year: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Their album dropped last year and quite frankly, no one had any idea who they were until 2013 came around, especially once "Thrift Shop" hit the airwaves. And of course, a personal favorite of mine, "Can't Hold Us". Can we go back, this is the moment/ tonight is the night, we'll fight 'till it's over/ so we put our hands up like the ceiling can't hold us, like the ceiling can't hoooooooold us!! Gotta love that hook.

And let's be quite frank, after Vanilla Ice set the stereotype bar extremely low for white rappers, and Eminem then made it unbelieviably hard for those who would follow, it's nice to see the void filled in the rap game, and done so respectively.

Honorable Mention - Jennifer Lawrence, Michael B. Jordan, Ariana Grande, Matt Harvey, Johnny Manziel and Lorde

"This Should Have Been Done Before" Award of the Year: Real Discussion on use of the "N" Word

Whether it was the Riley Cooper or Richie Incognito incidents, the topic of the "N" word's use in our society was a hot topic. And finally, we truly discussed the use of this word in our society, it's positves, it's detriments, it's allowances, and it's uncomfortable nature.

Hopefully, it continues in 2014, as personally, I think it's something the black community needs to bring to an end.

"The Incredibles" Award of the Year: Grand Theft Auto V

Wasn't expecting to see a video game win this Pondy in 2013, huh? Well, neither did I. However, the mere fact that upon it's release, GTA IV broke seven guiness world records for the following:

  • Best-selling action-adventure videogame in 24 hours
  • Best-selling videogame in 24 hours
  • Fastest entertainment property to gross $1 billion
  • Fastest videogame to gross $1 billion
  • Highest grossing videogame in 24 hours
  • Highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours
  • Most viewed trailer for an action-adventure videogame

Think our society loves violence?

Honorable Mention - Diana Nyad, Taylor Swift, Matt Prater, and Peyton Manning

"We Need to Fix This" Award of the Year: Race Relations/Perceptions/Stereotypes

2013 was the year of race relations in the United States. It seemed every hot-button topic revolved around race, stereotypes, and our own untold perceptions of others who are different than us. There also seemed to be a lot of finger-pointing as well regarding race. A lot of tension and underlying issues surfaced this year in many ways. Many of them, issues (see: Real discussion on "N" word use above) that needed to be brought to the forefront for all of us to move forward.

Biggest Letdown of the Year: President Barack Obama

It was not a good year for the POTUS. The Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare), foreign affairs, the struggling economy, race and civil issues, and of course, his declining approval numbers are the bulk of the reasons. And we're just into year one of another term for the President. The 2008 Dome Pondering Person of the Year has not been very effective this year, and for many that helped re-elect him or simply just look to his leadership, it was very, very disappointing.

Honorable Mention - Flloyd Mayweather Fights/Pay-Per-Views and New York Red Bulls

Idiot of the Year: Justin Beiber

I tell you what, Jim Dolan's reemergence (again) for this award almost forced my hand ot rename this award. However, Jimmy D is thankful for the dominant year Justin Beiber had for all of the wrong reasons. He not only wins the "Just Go Away" Pondy, but the "Idiot of the Year" award as well. That's tough ladies and gents, and has NEVER been done before. Another feat for Beibs. At least he's now retired, right? Yahhh, didn't believe it either.

Honorable Mention - Alex Rodriguez and The Onion

Dome Pondering Person of the Year: Bostonians

The city of Boston went through quite a bit in April with the marathon bombing and the days following with the shutdown of the city in search of the bombing suspects. Yet, the fight and resiliency of the city exemplified the phrase coined in the aftermath, "Boston Strong". The slogan rang ever so true as the city rallied together to not let terror destroy its spirit.

We saw it on display during the epic moment during the Boston Bruins first home game when the entire crowd sang the national anthem. We saw it in the way the city came together in honor of the victims in various events and public declarations that the bombing would not affect the city. We see it in the way Boylston Street is being rebuilt for this upcoming year's marathon. We saw it as the city followed through in support of its Red Sox winning a World Series championship.

The people of Boston persevered, and did so tremendously. Boston Strong indeed.

Fighter of the Year: Flloyd Mayweather

Although the fights were one-sided and really not all that entertaining because of his sheer dominance, Mayweather should not be held responsible for clearly out-boxing his opponents. He is the best in the sport right now. His record shows it. His demand shows it. His fight buyrates prove it. That's all there is to it.

Honorable Mention - Chris Weidman

Pay Per View Event of the Year: NJPW G1 Climax (Day 4)

Not much in the UFC really intrigued me this year, and as stated above, Flloyd Mayweather's big fights really fell flat. However, oddly enough, the product from the Far East in New Japan Pro Wrestling's nine day event called G1 Climax really entertained. Especially, that of day 4, which made for the most entertaining event I saw all year.

Honorable Mention - NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 7, ROH Final Battle, WWE Summerslam, and TNA Slammiversary

Pro Wrestling Match of the Year: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii - G1 Climax (Day 4)

It definitely helped G1 Climax earn this year's Pondy for PPV of the year with the fact it had the pro wrestling match of the year on the card. New Japan Pro Wrestling was really a great product this year, quite honestly, the most interesting wrestling product all year. While there were plenty of candidates, this match simply stood out for the sheer hard-hitting that was involved. It was just so different in style, that it stood out from all of the rest. Kudos to both men, and kudos to New Japan Pro Wrestling on a great 2013.

Honorable Mention - TNA Bound For Glory - Kurt Angle vs. Bobby Roode, TNA Slammiversary - Gail Kim vs. Taryn Terrell, Wrestle Kingdom 7 - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada, WWE Battleground - Goldust/Cory Rhodes vs. The Shield, WWE Summerslam - John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan, WWE Payback - CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho, and ROH Final Battle - Young Bucks vs. Adrenaline

Pro Wrestling Tag Team of the Year: The Shield (WWE)

Tag team wrestling seemed pretty dead across the board in early 2013, but really picked up as the year came to a close with plenty of great tag teams throughout pro wrestling, in all companies, doing some great things. However, it was The Shield that stayed most consistent throughout the year, even with a run recently along with Cody Rhodes and Goldust of stealing the show on RAWs and WWE PPVs.

Honorable Mention - Cody Rhodes and Goldust (WWE), Killer Elite Squad (NJPW), The Young Bucks (NJPW/ROH), and Bad Influence (TNA)

Female Pro Wrestler of the Year: Gail Kim (TNA)

Gail continues to be the class and the bar for the industry. Her match with Taryn Terrell at TNA Slammiversary proved it, and once again she is atop the TNA Knockouts division with yet another title reign.

Honorable Mention - Mickie James and AJ Lee (WWE)

Male Pro Wrestler of the Year: Kazuchika Okada (NJPW)

Up until around October, I was ready to hand this award over to Daniel Bryan. With "YES! YES! YES!" chants everywhere and Bryan becoming an absolute hit with everyone, it was inevitable. However, Bryan sort of cooled off a bit (and sometimes the YES chants made him a parody of himself), and Okada continued to deliver.

Kaz Okada was just really, really good this year. I don't believe I've watched anything involving Okada in 2013 that wasn't highly entertaining. Not to mention, his rise as the face of NJPW has been an overall success. It was a close race this year for this award, but my gut keeps going with Okada over Bryan with Bully Ray a very close third. 

Honorable Mention - Daniel Bryan (WWE), Bully Ray (TNA), and John Cena (WWE)

Sports Event of the Year: NBA Finals - Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

There was just great, great, great, great basketball night after night in this series. The adjustments, the strategies to stop certain players, the role players stepping up (Gary Neal and Danny Green!), the comebacks, the heartbreak, and of course, the triumph. And yes, there was a game seven in there. This series had it all, including an amazing moment that possibly altered the legacies of a few players involved. Nothing was better this year.

Honorable Mention - Eastern Conference Finals - Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat; World Series - Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals, NCAA Football - Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide, and the MLS Cup - Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt Lake

The Derek Jeter Flip Play Award of the Year: Ray Allen's Game-tying Three in Game Six

As stated above. It changed legacies. Without this shot, the San Antonio Spurs are your NBA Champions, Tim Duncan has five rings, heavy criticism is levied upon LeBron James (again) and the Miami Heat are in danger of being broken up.

Honorable Mention - Chris Davis' Game Winning touchdown return against Alabama, DeAndre Jordan's dunk on Brandon Knight, Raul Jimenez's game-winning bicycle kick-goal for Mexico, and David Ortiz's Game-tying grandslam in Game 2 of the ALCS

Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra

He doesn't get enough credit. So many people believe they could win with the Heat's talent, but Coach Spoelstra has done an excellent job of keeping egos in check, in keeping guys motivated, and keeping the Heat together when many (including myself) are just itching to see them lose.

Honorable Mention - Clint Hurdle, John Harbaugh, and Bob Melvin

Team of the Year: Boston Red Sox

This hurts to type...but it is the truth. The Red Sox are the team of the year. They are. The team endured the city's pain from the bombings, came together through growing long beards, continued to grind out wins when statistics proved they shouldn't, and delivered a storybook ending for a city that deserved it, all while making history as well.

It hurts to say coming form this Yankees-die hard, but they deserved it.

Honorable Mention - Miami Heat, Oakland A's, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Pirates

Dome Pondering Athlete of the Year: Serena Williams

The first ever female DP Athlete of the Year, Williams, dominated the game of tennis, even more so than she already did. Not only was Williams the oldest #1 ranked player in WTA history, but she won the French Open, the U.S. Open, as well as nine other non-major titles. All while compiling a 78-4 record as well as an impressive 34-match winning streak.

That's just domination. Very impressive. Williams continues to represent U.S. tennis in a tremendous way and continues to build her resume as not only one of the best tennis players ever, but one of the best athletes of all-time.

2014 Bucket List

With a new year, comes new goals, new tasks, and new things in life we all want to accomplish. For those new to this, it's rather simple - I select different (and sometimes crazy enough) tasks/goals to not only keep me motivated throughout the year, but to do exactly what a bucket list is for, to do things you've always wanted to do.

I didn't do so bad this year completing 12 of 35 goals which makes for a pretty good .343 average. Up from last year's even .300. I plan on getting to the tasks I failed to meet this year, while adding more for the 2014 calendar year.

And of course, as always, as more unforeseen or unpredicted bucket list items come up throughout the year, we'll add to the list, which you can follow on the left sidebar.

Enough with the fluff, here is the 2014 Dome Pondering Bucket List:
  1. Learn Guitar
  2. Have a random act of kindness day
  3. Go to a driving range
  4. Bake something from scratch
  5. Watch Star Wars for the first time (I've been told by many students that this is a must)
  6. Place a bet on a horse
  7. Volunteer for a day
  8. Learn a card trick
  9. Help someone cross an item off of their list
  10. Perfect a headstand
  11. Snap pictures to describe a typical day
  12. Shadow my wife for one of her photo walks
  13. Go to a live taping of a TV show
  14. Write on a bathroom stall door
  15. Watch an entire hockey game on TV (So hard to do. It's awesome live, awful on TV)
  16. Go on a picnic
  17. Learn to make, and imitate my mom's fried bakes recipe
  18. Call in to a sports radio show
  19. Win substantial money from playing the lotto
  20. Devote an entire day to any and everything my wife wants to do
  21. Write a haiku a day for a week
  22. Go to a concert
  23. Do 50 consecutive pushups
  24. Take a free online class
  25. Learn basic sign language
  26. E-mail a writer/editor in response to their work
  27. Take a creative ____ class

Final Countdown...

I can now exhale, 2013 is over. It wasn't a bad year per say for yours truly, in fact, looking back on it, it was a great year. However, it was a year of growth. Lots of growth. Immense growth that often times pulled on the strings of my very existence. 2013 was honestly, a year filled of growing pains, spiritually, mentally, and oddly enough, physically.

Over the last two or three years, (2011 Year in Review and 2012 Year in Review) I've made it a point to grow up. Sounds rather elementary in form, but I made an effort to seek out improving myself in every facet possible. Not for any reason other than I believe it was time for me to do so. After all, with the big 3-0 nearing, now married for two years, with thoughts of kids on the way, and now returning the favor brought about by the cycle of life that is taking care of my retired parents, I wanted to be ready. Ready for whatever life brings my way. As prepared and as ready as I could be.

And as we all know, you could never be ready. How cruel is that? Life's journey is prepared-proof. Yet, that alone lends to the type of person I am, the type of person I've always been. Always trying to be prepared for everything. For anything. Afraid of making a wrong step. Afraid of failing.

Ironically, I'm not afraid to admit what I am, well...afraid of.

Heck, it wasn't that long ago here on the DP that I admitted that I never considered myself a leader. It's really true, I just never have. I've never been the rah-rah type of guy, nor am I the outspoken, very vocal guy in the group. I'm the introvert in the corner that calculates, measures, and will assist the group when the iron strikes hot. When it is needed.

Good following solider and contributor? Absolutely. Leader? Absolutely not.

Orrrrrrrrr, so I thought.

In 2013, it felt like God flipped the script on me. And did so big time. I was placed in so many situations, scenarios, and moments of decision-making where I not only had to make those awaiting decisions, but also lead as well. This year I found myself being forced out of my comfort to do these things that placed me in positions where others counted on me heavily. There was very little easing into it as God pretty much said, "here ya go, get it done...again, and again, and yup, let's do it one more time".

God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
-1 Cornithians 10:13

First and foremost there is my job. A position, as I find myself becoming more and more comfortable in, the more students beginning to feel comfortable in confiding with me. And with that comes their trust and need for advice and guidance, which has become more and more of a responsibility for me.

I've written referrals, called for internships on behalf of students, given them professional experience and guidance under my mentor-ship, and even had a few pretty in-depth discussions with some students, including two that still stick out in my mind - the first from a student who wanted to know how I dealt with being a minority person in a field where there aren't many, and the other, a random girl who just lost her father two weeks prior, and needed someone to vent and talk to. And that's just the personal part.

There are the many, many, many (did I mentioned many!) injuries and moments of emergency where I am forced to lead not just for the health of the injured or the surrounding, but for the sheer mental being of that injured party. Those injuries and moments often take a toll on you. Moments like those are the ones, when the day is over and you finally find a seat on the subway, that force you to glance out of the window as Manhattan moves further away from you, causing you to exhale knowing you survived one more night, and everything is alright.

My work alone has put in me in a position of leadership. I feel responsible, almost compelled, to help these students who trust in me.

Then there are my parents. They've had a tough year dealing with an awful human being unpaying tenant who made their life miserable, which ultimately also made my life miserable and forced me to quickly learn the housing laws, tenant laws, and the entire eviction process of New York City (Which by the way, is so unfair for home owners). I suddenly took on this fight for them (Struggling Thoughts on Good and Evil). Once again, forced to lead. No time to be afraid.

And yes, then there are just my parents. Them, themselves. As they age, they both continue to lean on me to help them into their twilight years, and of course, there is my father, whose rapidly declining memory has already removed ten years off my life via strong concern. Yes, it's that bad. At times, scary, kind of bad. Time continues to tick away and waits for no one, and sometimes, I don't have any time to be afraid.

And of course my wife. Being there for her and this life we're continuing to build together. Oddly, she has absolutely no idea how hard 2013 has been on me (until she reads this of course). Or maybe she did...but I'd never put that on her, as her happiness and well-being often trumps my fears.

And there are plenty of other stories and examples to describe this growth, and how my resistance to leadership began to fade. Looking back on the year of 2013, the essence of leading and facing fears is one I truly believed the good Lord placed in my path, and one I can honestly say, through the grind of 2013, is one that helped me realize that fear is not real at all.

In fact, fear is a lie.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
-2 Timothy 1:7

As this race we call life progresses, we often allow ourselves to be beaten by fear. We melt in its presence. And we allow ourselves to listen to that little voice in our head that says, "you can't do that", "you shouldn't do that", and "you're not able to do that". You know the voice. You know exactly the voice. That damn voice! The voice that trumps fear over your heart. Trumps fear over your spirit. Trumps fear over your freedoms. And sadly, trumps fear over your will for God.

As I type this, I think about this past summer where I was immobilized and bed-ridden for three days, and severely sick for a month and a half. I lost upwards of 25lbs and probably was in the worst shape I can recall ever being in. Yet, in the midst of that sickness, when that voice told me "I couldn't and I shouldn't", I ran a 5K mud run and finished the thing (Appreciating Self-Victories).

While that is more of the physical, the idea is the same. There are so many aspects in our lives in which we accept and further confuse incapability and inability with fear. We limit ourselves out of sheer acceptance of fear and giving in to fear. Because we're afraid of the consequences. Ultimately - afraid of failing.

I've done it, and I continue to struggle with it. I'm sure you have too, and will continue to do so as well. Nonetheless, 2013 has shown me that fear is indeed a lie. A huge lie as big as the emotion and feeling it places inside of your gut when it's go-time.

2013 was a grind, and was immensely tough for me to break through. Yet, on the cusp of 2014, I'm glad I learned what I did. I'm glad the good Lord took me through that journey.

In 2014, I urge you all to not be fooled by the lies and deception of your inner fears that limit your abilities as a person. As this race called life continues to unveil new occurrences while challenging us to the depths of our souls, let's all continue to look fear dead in the face, call it's bluff, and move on. Without hesitation and the fear of failing. But with love in our hearts. And with the clear opportunity to improve ourselves, as well as fulfill the responsibilities to our loved ones, and to one another.

God will get you through your fears. Are you willing to do so?

In 2014, How will you respond?

Happy New Year!

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3 Up 1. Science and Research - Look, I'm not trying to get into any debates or start trouble with this selection. I'm just giving props to the men and women who continue to develop these vaccines - and now approved booster shots - that help fight off this terrible virus that has plagued over the past 18 months. Some countries still don't have an option when it comes to vaccines - we're onto booster shots, and can "choose". Perspective and privilege are needed sometimes.  2. Col. Wang Yaping - Give it up to Yaping who in six weeks will become the first Chinese woman to walk in space. OF course, she is receiving tons of backlash from the media - but hey, did we expect anything else? 

CM Punk's Return - Perfect Timing for the Symbol of Anti-WWE

Looooooooook in my eyes, what do you see?! The lyrics to Cult of Personality, especially that first bar,  never felt so fitting for CM Punk as it did last night.  For the most part, everything that is CM Punk's return to wrestling last night at AEW Rampage ties directly into my latest thoughts on pro wrestling - the company is making it must-see destination television, an element desperately needed from pro wrestling.  Last night was incredible as again, it was another moment that made wrestling feel alive - with a wild and energetic pulse. It was one of the coolest moments in pro wrestling that you knew was coming, expected, anticipated, and it was everything and more. Again, MUST-SEE television. That's hard to do.  For me, it wasn't just Punk's return to pro wrestling, but the mere presence and voice of his inclusion in today's space. We know that Punk can deliver on the microphone - probably his best and most signature attribute. We also know that yes, he can

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 10/10/21

3 Up 1. Moderna Vaccine to Low Income Nations - In a world where the idea of "pandemic" now feels like a state of mind or the privilege of belief, Moderna has decided to aim its efforts in getting at least 1 billion doses to low-income countries the COVID vaccine. I'll save the "vaccine" chat for another time - but this is pretty awesome by Moderna. And oh yeah, highly needed.  2. Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi - Two absolute legends of the WNBA had some legacy-cementing moments this week. Parker lead her hometown Chicago Sky into the WNBA finals, and Taurasi, was named the GOAT of the WNBA by fans. Because well, she is. Congrats to both.  3. Netlfix's On My Block - For the second week in a row I'm putting a personal - and admittedly, biased - selection in the "Up" section. One of my favorite shows by Netflix, On My Block , released its fourth and final season, and yes, I binged it on my daily commute home. Gonna miss the crew from Freeridge.