Can You Spare a Dime. . .To Defeat ALS?

Defeat ALS! Join Team Lempa

On December 12, 2013 I received a phone call from my mom while my co-workers were wishing me a happy 33rd birthday. My Dad had lost a 2.5 year battle withALS (aka amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Lou Gehrig’s Disease). While his passing wasn’t unexpected, we didn’t think it would happen on my birthday. Needless to say I hopped in my car and started driving. And driving.

This trip was nothing new -hell I once road a 125cc scooter from Lawrence, KS to Chicago – but it was different. It was both longer and quicker. Further and shorter. Multiple text messages from my brother reminded me to be safe while at the same time telling me that I needed to get home sooner. Rachel checked in to make sure that I was OK as did a few of my closest friends. Gaslight Anthem’s ’59 Sound was on repeat.

The drive itself was mostly a blur. I do remember laughing and crying as long lost memories formed a mental collage. When I arrived in Berwyn I was greeted by my Mom and brother. We hugged, laughed, and cried.

Three months later it is still hard to believe that our family of five is now a family of four. This experience has both weakened and strengthened us as a family. I am grateful for my friends and family that supported me throughout this ordeal and have checked in on me afterwards. I might not always say it, but I love and appreciate you.

I am also extremely thankful for the ALS Association Greater Chicago Chapter. Without them I don’t know how we would have made it through this ordeal. They provided equipment, guidance, and emotional support. Additionally the ALS Association also supports research to fight ALS and discover a cure.

Two years ago I captained the top fundraising team in the Walk to Defeat ALS. This year we have reformed Team Lempa and are again raising money to find a cure to this horrific disease. You can support us by clicking here:

Active Listening as Conflict Resolution

Active Listening as Conflict Resolution
By Chris Lempa

In the book Solving Tough Problems Adam Kahane lays out a methodology for dealing with tough problems in the most difficult situations. Kahane played an integral role in the Mount Fleur Process which brought together representatives from Apartheid-era South Africa. Participants discussed what South Africa would look like after Apartheid. After the Mount Fleur Process, Kahane took part in similar gatherings throughout the world (Follow this link to learn more about Kahane’s work).

Many aspects of the book will be useful to people in their everyday lives, I would like to focus on listening. In his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie tells us that by “becoming genuinely interested in people” and “be[ing] a good listener” are two important roles in building successful relationships. That’s great, but what is listening and how do we do it?

Perhaps you are rolling your eyes at the thought of this silly question, but I have been involved in many frustrating conversations with non-listeners. These “conversations” generally become a waste of time and quickly deteriorate into mindless arguments, with people talking past each other.

Continue reading at the Center for a Stateless Society:

The End of Libertarians

This article was written by Kevin Carson and originally published by the Center for a Stateless Society. Trevor Hultner did an amazing job reading and editing the article. The music was performed by Similarity.

#writeandrun31 Starting Over with Day One

I took this picture on a run east of town. You can see the open field and the wire to my headphone.

Cool Runnings

open midwest field

on a frigid winter day

push me to the edge

#writeandrun31 Day 7

I don’t like writing daily.

There, I wrote it. It has only been 7 days and I am already not enjoying the writing end of #writeandrun31. I have been thinking about why and I realized that I just don’t like to feel pressured into putting my thoughts onto “paper.”


In order to not “fail” I am going to change my writing plan. I will write a Haiku a day (based on a picture I take) and put up (at least) one longer blog post a week. Some of these posts might be cross-posted.

That’s it for now.

#writeandrun31 Day 5

no post for today

working and running kept me

from my daily words

#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


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.