Thursday, June 18, 2015

Make everything a learning experience

This has been an interesting week. Very interesting. I don't want to elaborate here or now but I have tried to figure out what I can learn from this challenging experience. I will be honest, I don't have a lot of answers but I do have some. And I am grateful for the answers I have. So this is what I have learned:
  • Friends, especially mine, are crazy ridiculous awesome. From friends who treat me like family, their in-laws who treat me like I am their son, crazy awesome baked goods that remind me of home, supportive biological family who offered to drive up to support me and just listening ears all over the place.
  • Patience. I think I will stop praying for it. I got hammered with something difficult to deal with and for the first time in a long time, there was peace. I was still concerned and still slightly frustrated but there was still peace. I have not slept well but I am still trying to keep my spirit and emotions in super-check to make sure I can do what is best. I have often wondered how mental tough I am. This week I think I have confirmed I am a bit more mentally tough than I thought. I still have moments and I will still get knocked down but I will get back up. I may stay down to catch my breath.
  • Blessings. I wish my Dad could have been here to give me a blessing but I had two awesome substitutes to help give me a blessing. I knew what the blessing was going to tell me but I asked for one any way. I was told exactly what I needed to know and exactly what I already knew. Not too often have I known what was going to be said. I am glad I received one and I hope that the people the blessing mentioned receive the help they need.
  • This is going to sound weird but I am grateful for honesty. There hasn't been a lot recently and some things have been said that I am not sure where they came from but I am very sure the truth will prevail. It stinks that some think these lies are the truth especially about my family. Soon it will be squashed. 
  • I love my kids. A lot.
I have a lot to be grateful for even though I feel like I am in fire. One of my sisters said I am running a marathon...... Oh man is she right. Hopefully soon I will feel like I am only running a 5K.

It could always be worse.

I  am still a pretty big guy so I am sure I bounce like a rubber ball.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Worst. Day. Of. My. Life.

Today was probably the worst day of my life as a father. Yet I was calm. The Lord blessed me with friends to care for me and give me a blessing. Soon this will be better. I hope till then the Lord watches out for my kids.

Quote - Ralph Marston

Your burdens feel heavy because they are. They weigh you down and hold you back, but there is a better alternative.
You can choose to transform the weight of those burdens into positive energy. And you can draw upon that positive energy to move yourself forward.
The burdens you carry are creatures of the past that have survived to push against you in the present. Take a deep, fresh breath of the air that is right now, and fill yourself with resolve to take good, useful energy from those burdens.
Think of what you've done in the past to put yourself in the presence of your burdens. Now think of how you can use your energy and your actions to move yourself toward freedom.
You have worked your way to this point, and you can now work your way far beyond it. Imagine what is possible, choose from it whatever you desire, and begin right away to take the actions that will get you there.
Stop seeing your burdens as holding you back and start seeing them for what they can be. Take energy and inspiration from them, and choose to live life on your own positive, fulfilling terms.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Wedding Advice

Today I am going to a wedding reception of a friend - we went to help clean up Katrina together. We got the nicknames Laman and Lemuel on the trip.........

So here are my three pieces of advice that I gave them in their card:
  • Talk to each other (about FLIPPIN' everything).
  • Hug each other.
  • Tell each other how much you love each other (and why).
This probably isn't reliable advice coming from me.....

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Don't Give Up - Marathon Style

While competing in the marathon in Mexico City, Akhwari cramped up due to the high altitude of the city. He had not trained at such an altitude back in his country. At the 19 kilometer point during the 42 km race, there was jockeying for position between some runners and he was hit. He fell badly wounding his knee and dislocated that joint plus his shoulder hit hard against the pavement. He however continued running, finishing last among the 57 competitors who completed the race (75 had started). The winner of the marathon, Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia, finished in 2:20:26. Akhwari finished in 3:25:27, when there were only a few thousand people left in the stadium, and the sun had set. A television crew was sent out from the medal ceremony when word was received that there was one more runner about to finish.

As he finally crossed the finish line a cheer came from the small crowd. When interviewed later and asked why he continued running, he said, "My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start the race; they sent me 5,000 miles to finish the race."

DFQ - Don't freaking quit. Put your head down and just keep moving.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Men Are Not Evil*

Today I spent an hour helping prepare for Cub Camp. I was the only dude for miles. Not a single woman said 2 words to me. I tried to say something to two of them but I got stares back at me. I got some very weird looks from these women. So let me be blunt - just because I came to help with a "craft" doesn't make me a weirdo (I like to help Scouts hence I came), doesn't mean I am going to attack you and doesn't mean I am gonna hurt your kids. I have never felt so socially removed from a group -- I guess it is for the best anyways.

They were also more concerned about bad mouthing their husbands within their own little "social groups". I don't have friends who bad mouth their spouses. It is one of the things on my checklists of requirements for friends. No matter how bad things are, if you have problems in your marriage keep it in your marriage unless you are seeking counseling.  Men are not idiots because they are men and women are not weak because they are women.

So women, stop doing it.
So men, stop doing it and don't do it.

I am not a bad dude. And yes I am learning to sew.

*This post isn't imply that women are evil either.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Carry the Load 2015 Experience

My Carry the Load 2015 experience was crazy awesome and crazy hard. 40 miles doesn't sound like a lot but my feet beg to differ.
My bricks for Sgt. Enrique Mondragon
Dallas has gotten some crazy rain lately and been more humid that a shower. Carry the Load 2015 was humid as all get out even when the sun went down. We were expecting rain during the event but other than a few sprinkles, I was pretty dry from rain - not from sweat.  It was so flippin' muggy. Was like coming out of the shower but I was grateful for no more rain during the event.

The back of my tribute shirt.
The front of my tribute shirt.


Tribute signs for some those lost their lives in the line of duty.
I started this event knowing no one. I didn't get any takers on coming to walk with me (which I will change next year mark my words). Actually a friend Michell allowed me to piggy back on her son's Scout Troop to do the event but I wasn't planning on walking with anyone because I just didn't know anyone.  About 5 miles in a police officer by the name of David ran up to me and started talking to me. He had an arm full of people who had served in the military. It was awesome he was honoring them.

I stole this picture from the Dallas Morning News of David's arm.
David and I spend a ton of time together suffering together - mostly in silence. He was carrying a much heavier backpack than me. Mine was 43.5 and his was 52.5. I know that is only basically 10 pounds but I am sure David and my knees and feet would agree that 10 pounds is a huge difference. David did this event having never rucked before and just going for it. He did a GREAT job! I look forward to walking with him next year too. Hopefully my feet will be harder by then.

The field of 6000+ flags for each who has passed.

This is coming down the path. Going up was KILLER.

My "ruck" honoring Sgt. Enrique Mondragon.

So I had planned to do 40 miles with a 40 pound pack to honor Sgt. Mondragon. I knew I could do about 20 minute miles as that is what I have done in the past but this event blew up my times. I was slow. I was hoping to be done by 4 AM but with a 4 PM start I wasn't done until 10 AM. I have to admit as certain points I had to take a few naps. At about 1:30 AM I pulled into a water station, took off my shoes, socks and backpack and went to sleep using my backpack as a pillow. When I got up about 35 minutes later a volunteer stopped me on my way out and told me he had never seen someone fall asleep so quickly on concrete. I told him I was an ex-Scout leader and I had learned to sleep in some crazy places. He laughed and I walked on. Between 1 AM and about 5 AM I was falling sleep between steps on the trail. My feet hitting the ground woke me up only to fall asleep again before the next step. I couldn't walk in a straight line. It was crazy. On another nap, I had just planned to stop and stretch but I ended up (again) falling asleep on a concrete parking spot in a parking garage. A volunteer at some point covered me up with a blanket they had brought. I woke up wondering where the blanket had come from. I found the volunteer, thanked them and then headed out for some more walking. When I checked out in the timing station and told them I was done the volunteer told me that I had one of the highest weights of those who registered their weighed packs and that I had done a good job. This achievement wasn't for me. It was for Sgt. Mondragon. 

So what did I learn from this?
  • I learned again how many great patriots there are out there. Between 1 and 5 AM there were people out there hiking honoring their heroes. It was awesome. Americans are freaking awesome!!
  • I think again I learn that while I struggled like no other, I can do hard things especially for other people. Sgt. Mondragon deserves so much more than this but this is what I could do personally and so this is what I did for him. I hope his family knows we have not forgotten about him. They have not been forgotten either.
  • I learned that I am still not as mentally tough as I personally want to me. In talking with a friend tonight about this and life he mentioned to me that the middle of a trial is the part that sort of sucks. This was true for this event. Between 1 AM and 5 AM was the hardest. I contemplated quitting more than once but thinking about the sacrifice Enrique made being away from his family to serve our country and then his ultimate physically sacrifice, I kept going.
  • I am glad I did this. This wasn't about me. This was about someone else and about their family. If they ever read this, thank you!!!
  • Would I do this again? HELL yes. It is the least I can do.
I had blisters on both feet located on the balls of my feet. Even now 10 days later they hurt like heck and haven't completely gone away. I need to work on hardening my feet. I have something I am going to try. So next year I would like to put a group together to divide the 40 miles or do an 8 hour hike (4 PM to midnight). I want my kids involved in this.

Just as a small side note, I think I burned close to 8,000 calories and a Clifbar tastes pretty awesome when you are hungry enough!!

Nap locations: In a handicap parking spot, in a parking garage and on a stone fence. 

Goruck had nothing on my personal standards for this event. Granted I was able to take this at my own pace but the distance and weight were KILLER!! I had my butt handed to me and I was very humbled physically by this event. It was the hardest thing I have ever done physically.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Carry the Load - I will be carrying Sgt. Enrique Mondragon

Since I have lost 70 pounds I have started to challenge myself more physically. My Mom just shakes her head on Skype and asks me if I am trying to kill myself. She did again on Mother's Day. I am not. It is just nice to be able to, while still struggling greatly, do things that are hard. Really hard. Like crazy hard for a guy my size. Tough Mudder at 360 pounds 3 years ago was the start, Goruck a couple months back and my next challenge is Carry the Load over Memorial Day weekend.  Watch this video to learn more about Carry the Load.

I get very emotional then it comes to veterans. My Dad is one and I spent 20 years in his home as a military brat. I have seen the sacrifice members of the military make personally in my life.

Memorial Day isn't about hot dogs and hamburgers or a day off of work. It is a day to remember those who have sacrificed all. So with the help of Alex, a friend, I contacted my Texas Representative Patrick Fallon to contact a widow of a fallen soldier from my area. He provided Katie's email and I asked her permission to walk in her husband's name. I quickly got that permission from her. I posted something about this on Facebook and another friend who owns a t-shirt company mentioned that they knew the family and would love to print a memorial t-shirt for me to wear at the event after they got permission to use his image.  I am hoping to meet the family at some point but I want that to come at their comfort and their timing. 

So for me it is a great honor to be walking for Sergent Enrique Mondragon who was killed in action at the age of 23.  23 years old!!!  He was so young and had so much life ahead of him yet he chose to put his needs and wants aside to serve for me and you. I have clipped some things from the internet on Sgt. Mondragon to share his story and take no credit:


Sergent Enrique Mondragon, 23, of The Colony Texas assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachement, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Bamber, Germany, died December 24, 2012 in Baraki Barak, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by small-arms fire.

He was born June 20, 1989 in Dallas, Texas. He married Katie Arguea on October 3rd, 2009 in Carrollton. Enrique is survived by his wife, Katie and their 2 year old daughter, Beverly. 

“Anything we said we might do he would make it happen,” said his wife, Katie Mondragon of Little Elm. “We were 17 and he would always say we would have a house by the age of 25. He made it happen at the age of 23.”

Mondragon was born and raised in Dallas, where he attended Hillcrest High School. In 2007, he graduated from The Colony High School, which he attended his junior and senior years.
He met Katie Argueta, a Little Elm High School graduate, while they were both working at J.C. Penney.

Mondragon worked at several jobs after J.C. Penney and attended a trade school, where he studied computer-aided design.

“He tried, but he just couldn’t afford it — that was the main reason he joined the Army,” his wife said.

He went to basic training in March 2009. The couple married in October 2009.

Mondragon — Rick to his civilian friends and Dragon to his Army buddies — loved serving in the military, his wife said. He hoped to find related work — possibly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement — after completing his Army service.

“He was a big dreamer and a very motivated person,” Katie Mondragon said. “He loved his family a lot. He just wanted the best for my daughter and me — that’s why he did what he did.”

Mondragon was a military police officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Combat Team based in Bamberg, Germany.


My personal hope is that I will honor Sergent Mondragon by walking about 40 miles with 40 pounds on my back as I "carry him". He is definitely worthy of the honor.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

A long night. Scout leaders vs Scout mentors vs Scout parents

A few nights ago was a long night. 1 AM to be exact. I haven't been up that late in years when I have not had nothing specific to do. I hope this all makes sense. I am still dragging.

I spent the night mostly rereading some Scout stuff written by LDS Church members. My thoughts have been on Scouting for about 10 days since the day I received my 3rd Eagle Mentor pin from one of my Scouts. A huge honor for me. I wonder exactly why I received it because I am not so sure what exactly I did to get it. There isn't a set of requirements--the Eagle Scout gets to decide who gets it and why they get it. My goal isn't to earn these pins (nor will it ever be) but to create a relationship with a Scout to where they will listen to me and hopefully take counsel and advice from me. And hopefully my advice is good.  I served as a Varsity Coach for 6 years leading and trying to help the Scouts lead themselves. I think I have come to the conclusion that my time as a Scout leader might not have been the best use of my time in Scouting. So with that conclusion and the belief that being a Scout leader and a Scout mentor are totally different things, I wish I had learned to be a Scout mentor earlier. From an LDS article called Tenderfeet-Eagles-Missionaries from the 1978 New Era:

He handed me a letter that he had received from William Jones, a deacons adviser who had served during the time the boys were in Scouting. The special ingredient is described therein. The letter reads:
“Dear Brother Craig:
“As I prepare to leave Utah, I feel it appropriate to express my feelings and impressions of Troop 194, both as a deacons quorum adviser and as a worker on the troop committee.
“You know of my deep respect for you as a man, but I need to expand this to include your unique role as Scoutmaster. The activities have often taxed your time to the limit, but time was still found to meet the sincere needs of both Scouts and parents, even a ‘confused committeeman’ on occasion. Many felt that after your son became an Eagle Scout your enthusiasm would die. On the contrary, each boy in Troop 194 has, in turn, become a son to you and achieved the Eagle rank. I know personally of the great love each boy has for you.
“As a deacons adviser I owe you much for assisting me in making the priesthood such an integral part of each boy’s life. In no other place is cooperation more important, and I personally feel that in no other area is it more present than in our ward. Because you were with us on Sundays and you allowed me to play an active role in Mutual and on campouts, every boy became our concern and gave the program a true completeness.
“I was privileged to work with a choice group of men, but my greatest joy came from the obvious source—the individual boy. I shall never forget my first outing with the boys to Silver Lake. I was critical and tried to oversee 20 active Scouts. I failed, of course, but by the second go-round things began to focus and I watched the patrol leaders function. I saw characteristics in boys then that will someday make them fine men and our future leaders. Clean speech, honesty, and other principles that were taught in priesthood lessons came alive as I watched our boys.
“Troop 194 has no perfect boy. We have had and will continue to have loud, fidgety, curious, active creatures called boys to love, appreciate, train, and say good-bye to as they head into future challenges, better prepared for having been a boy in our ward.”

I have spend the past 4 weeks meeting with a Life Scout about his Eagle Project, talking to another about his project, trying to get another Scout who has his project complete but not his last two merit badges to complete them, meeting with a parent and a Scout on where they are at/how we can get them to where they need to be and just trying to be that "non-parent" voice to some Scouts reminding them that they are so close. Sometimes Scouts are more willing to listen to advice from someone who isn't a parent.  BUT PARENTS ARE ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS THE KEY TO A SCOUTS SUCCESS!!!  No Scout leader can replace a good or bad parent when it comes to Scouting (I know personally in my family). I have encouraged parents to be a squeaky wheel to their son's Scout leaders because Scout leaders sometimes don't know what the Scout (or parents) need to be successful. Don't fool yourself if you are a Scout parent and you don't know the program -- it is more important to know your Scout! You get a Scout pin no matter what because of how important you are to the success of the Scout. Everyone else doesn't get a pin on purpose.

It is only through good Scout Mentors and better parents who see the purpose of the Scouting program to make their sons better men will we get those better men!!  I heard an interesting quote at an Eagle Board of Review this week from one of my past Bishop who I love: "Mom Eagles make Mom missionaries. They can't learn to do hard things on their missions." Amen. AMEN!

So parents don't be scared to ask 5,000 questions. I have answered phone calls from one mom in the area 8 times a day when she called but I would rather answer their questions than them do something that they don't know if it is right.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Goruck in Pictures

Before the pain. The young lady to my right told me humbly she had the month before broken the US Female record for 100 miles race. She ran it in 14.5 hours -- that is a 14.5 minute miles average. CRAZY!!

Hold heavy crap over your head.

Push up position.

Belly crawl.

Me belly crawling.

Bear crawl.