The Bear and A Fat, Homeless Woman (And How This All Makes Sense)

A shot at life worth living means living a life where you call the shots.

Last Sunday, I had the great fortune of having dinner with 3 very awesome guys: Joel Runyon of Blog of Impossible Things, Mark Lawrence of Lifestyle Ignition, and Brandon James of New Life Travel.

Meeting at Rosa De Lima, delicious Peruvian cuisine in my Chicago neighborhood of residence, Bucktown, things couldn’t get better – or funnier – than $6.00 ¼ chickens with 2 sides and a hilarious helping of fun times.

How we got from talking about how to ignite our lifestyles with doing what we love to a small Japanese man Kobayashi competing against a gigantic bear in a hot dog eating contest is beyond me (the bear won, gosh, what a surprise!). But it was funny and a good time, which is what matters when meeting new friends.

What I really found amazing and inspiring about these 3 men were:

1. They each have their own passionate pursuits. What makes them stand apart from others is they’re actually pursuing them.

Joel is the Marketing Director at Fat Atom Internet Marketing based in Indiana. He does “impossible” things that others look at as crazy … and that’s more the reason why he does what he does. He was in Chicago last weekend for the Chicago Triathlon, the largest Tri yet! And he survived. Yay!

Brandon is traveling by bike from Berlin to Beijing. Wow, simply incredible!! And he chronicles his journey via video posts at

Mark … well, he’s infamous for his Body Paint Girls during broad daylight in downtown Chicago. You have to be a little crazy to do something like that!

2. They are happy doing what they love and not doing what they hate.

Both Brandon and Mark exiled themselves from corporate America and into the rich fields of freedom. I had the opportunity to listen to both their stories, and how it all went down, and found it incredibly inspiring to continue down the tunnel. I may not exit the corporate offices in the same fashion as they, nor would I want to. Each person who leaves his day job voluntarily to pursue what matters to him has his own unique story. It is their story that they need to write for themselves. I’m writing my story and you’re reading it as I progress towards my ultimate goal of freedom.

Joel (who looks eerily like a young Tim Ferriss, not that Tim’s that old anyhow), thankfully, is currently happy with the company he’s at! Because I’m sure if he’s not, he’d throw a javelin at each one of his bosses. And then turn on the rest of the employees.

He’s doing impossible things such as triathlons, mud races, javelin-throwing, and the like. I wouldn’t be surprised if he dominated the world next (wait, is that on his list?).

The Part Where You Ask About How the Fat, Homeless Woman Fits Into All This

When a fat, homeless woman from Texas approached Mark asking for something to eat, something was quite wrong with this picture. He denied, which resulted in her spewing claims of him going to hell for not helping his neighbor. Apparently, she must’ve eaten the part in the Bible where it says to not be a glutton.

Don’t ask for something in which you already have within yourself! It may not be tangible things, like food for the woman in the story above. Rather, it is the fiery intensity to make a difference … starting with your own life. You have it in yourself. You may not realize it and think, “Oh, those Gen Yers, they can do it but I can’t. I’m too old, too young, too married, too single, too burdened by debt, too fat, too skinny, too broke, too time constrained, too ugly, too beautiful … (insert anything that is an excuse).” No. You mustn’t defeat yourself before you even tried. You have got to give it a shot. A shot at life worth living, not just merely going through the motions like a brain-dead zombie.

Because fact of the matter is, a shot at life worth living means living a life where you call the shots. Thank you Joel, Mark, and Brandon for inspiring others to live their own lives, one crazy adventure after another. I wouldn’t have it any other way. :)

  • Joel Runyon | [BIT]

    Such a good time! I had a blast meeting you Nina! We’ll definitely have to do it again soon!nnp.s. I finally found the Kobayashi vs. Bear video :) so awesome >>>

  • Colin Wright

    Jealous! I’m in for this kind of night next time I’m in Chi-town!

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Man, that is some funny stuff! nnYes, same here Joel, finally great to meet the one and only “impossible” man in person! Keep up the fantastic work!!

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Absolutely, Colin!! :D And you totally missed my foot resting on Joel’s 6’2″ frame as I “kicked” him and upper-cutted Mark in the jugular. (Brandon was in zen pose and so peaceful.) Whilst IN the restaurant. Yeah, people were definitely staring! Wait, why was I doing that in the first place … hmm … LOL.

  • Joel Runyon | [BIT]

    you don’t have this picture Nina?

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    No, Mark does, though! It was taken on his camera.

  • Cheriedelaine

    I was not impressed with your uncompassionate nature towards this homeless woman just because she was a heavy person. I think it shows a form of biogotry on your part and you should know better. Just because a person is heavy does not mean she wasn’t hungry on that day and she very well could have mental illness as many homeless people do.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    Cherie, if you have been reading my blog for some time now, you will find I add some things that are meant to be taken lightly and on a humorous note. I’m sorry this has offended you. Rest assured, you will find much, much more offensive things in the blogosphere than you will ever find here.nnThe overall tone I take at Castles in the Air has intensity, radicalism, and a general feeling of positivity towards life, dreams, ambitions, and goals. If you don’t like what you read here, feel free to skip over this website. Thank you.

  • Mark

    Fun times in Chicago!!!!!!!! Had a blast! I’ve got a ton of great pictures from that night. Hilarious and awesome post Nina. See you soon!

  • Nina Yau

    Yeah, most agreed, Mark! Great choice with Rosa De Lima!! See ya real soon!

  • A’ishah Hils

    “When a fat, homeless woman from Texas approached Mark asking for something to eat, something was quite wrong with this picture. He denied, which resulted in her spewing claims of him going to hell for not helping his neighbor. Apparently, she mustu2019ve eaten the part in the Bible where it says to not be a glutton.”nnWow. I used to subscribe to this blog, but I won’t be anymore.

  • Mark

    A’ishah I wish there was a dislike button for Disqus comments. I think it’s ridiculous how you publicly defend a few sentences made to be taken lightly and with a humorous note. There are a lot of cookie cutter, politically correct, written for everyone to like, blogs out there. It’s funny because a lot of bloggers spend time “finding their voice” and holding back their own personality out of fear that people like yourself may be offended. You are being judgmental yourself. I am shocked that someone like you who subscribes to this blog and reads the posts would judge the entire body of work based on 3 sentences. Would you appreciate your life being judged by a few sentences? Is everything you have ever said in your entire life been politically correct? Im sure there’s lots of stuff you have said in your life, hat people would be really offended by. I’m sure you may be a nice person. If I were to judge you solely based on this comment I would think otherwise.

  • Nina | Castles in the Air

    A’ishah, as a past subscriber, you would have noticed my writing overall in this blog as one that here and now injects slight humor that is meant to not be taken on a personal, or negative, implication. nnIt is not my intention now or ever to purposefully make fun of someone in a derogatory manner. So you would understand that this was not meant to be taken seriously. Such as my post 70 Things You Can Do to Not Start Anything (, an entire list of things was written in a satirical manner in order to poke fun at the silly things we do when we procrastinate.nnNot everything I write will help everyone who reads this blog. I’m sorry I could not be of more help to you. Thanks for stopping by, nevertheless.

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