I first met James last March when the Back on My Feet journey began in Indianapolis. He was one of the inaugural members. If one thing hasn’t changed about James in the past year, it’s his positive attitude and friendly personality. You don’t feel like a stranger when you meet him and would never guess what he happens to be overcoming in his life.
James was our first Member of the Month last March. He had already started the journey to bring him to where he is today, but since then even more has happened.
I have been fortunate enough to watch James grow throughout this process. I remember some of his first one mile runs and was honored to be able to run his first marathon with him eight short months later.
Beyond running marathons, James has accomplished several other monumental goals, since joining Back on My Feet in March 2011, he has stayed sober, quit smoking, lost weight, purchased a car, moved into his own home and started a new job at BoMF employment partner Gilchrist and Soames.
James is an active Alumni Member of the program and still runs with the team on a regular basis. He is also a strong advocate and has spoke about the program to many different companies and organizations in Indianapolis.
“Back on My Feet was a much needed catalyst, that propelled me into the realm of self discovery and because of this I’ve allowed myself to heal and love me today.” said James “This opened other avenues by building strong relationships with BoMF staff, residents and non-residents. I can say today that I am very happy with me because of this organization.”
Before we dig into the DEEP STUFF, let’s learn some of the basics about James:
Running Shoe Size: Size 13 in Asics, 14 in Nike
Hometown/Family: I was born in Detroit, MI. When my twin brother and I were of age my Father retired from GM and moved the family to TN (where he and my mom had met) There were eight children at this time, my younger sister passed away in late June of 2002.
Favorite Restaurant: Pei Wei
Favorite Music: All kinds: Country, House (techo) and Alternative. Depends on my mood.
What brought you into Progress House? What were you overcoming?
I arrived at Progress House, homeless, no family, no friends and I was just released from prison. I had been battling a drug and alcohol addiction for the last 10 years.
Why did you join BoMF?
I joined out of curiosity for starters, I had no clue what was I was in store for. I would be lying if i did not say the incentives had a good part of my reason for joining.
What races have you completed with BoMF?
Too many to name on here! (I’m in awe of that still to this day) COMMITMENT BABY that’s what it is all about. I’ve completed a half marathon and a full marathon—– wow, two of the biggest things I’ve ever done. Number one was GETTING SOBER!
In your spare time, what do you like to do?
Listen to music, read about different religions, ride my bike and sleep.
BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals):
I have a 50K planned this summer to make it harder it’s on a trail…. to be continued. I would also like to go back to school at the start of next year, or sooner.
Over the past year, what has changed in your life?
So many things have changed this past year. After a one year stay in Prison, living in a local homeless shelter for seven days and spending an additional fourteen months at the Progress House, I now have my own place. I also have a Truck and went from no job to working two jobs! The biggest change in my life is the way I see people and situations. It like I have on a new pair of glasses!
What kinds of trials & obstacles are you still overcoming?
I’m always in a struggle with myself to do better and be better. The biggest thing I can say now is I’m trying to find that happy medium of balance. God has given me all of these great things and I’m trying to juggle them all.
What does running mean to you?
Running gives me peace of mind and serenity. It is also the place where I feel the closest to my higher power. I feel so centered after a good long run. It’s amazing.
If you could give one piece of advice to a reader who is struggling with overcoming addiction what would it be?
Stop trying to recover and RECOVER! If you can be truly honest with yourself and others and want that monkey of your back God will help you. I’m living proof of this and there are many more like me!
Do you feel like you can now be a mentor to others who are battling what you have been through?
I do! In fact I am mentoring a wonderful guy now who used to be a part of BoMF. He asked me one day if I would help him walk through life. I’ve been taught by my mentor, people in BoMF and my recovery friends to never say no to someone who wants help!
What are some accomplishments are you most proud of?
Obtaining my own place to live… I have never had my own place before. Running a full marathon, the hard part was training for it. I would not change it for the world.
Another big step for me was the opportunity to make amends to the victim of why I went to prison. We are now the best friends we can be to each other and he is under counseling. I am truly grateful to have had this chance to be a part of the human race today, not just existing, but living.
All time favorite BoMF memory?
Beth and I were at mile nine of our first half marathon and I was losing steam. She noticed and asked me if I knew any Donna Summer songs. I said yes- “I will survive”. She took the serenity prayer and sang it to the tune of I will survive all the way home! I will never forget that, it makes me want to cry just thinking about it. That is how awesome this program has been to me. I have made great friends, forever.