Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Are you an egg or a potato?

Are you an egg or a potato?

What are you made of?

What does pressure and stress do to you?

What happens to you when life throws you a HUGE curve ball?

Where do you go to relieve stress? Or who do you talk to to vent?



If you know anything about my story in the past 4 years, I have had experienced some pretty crap stuff*. Nothing horrible but life likes to kick me in the gut and the Lord likes to humble me often. My circumstances have not made me who I am but they have molded what I have learned in life. 

There are some in my life that I see being pushed around by life. To them, I say don't give up. People care about you. 

So back to the original question - are you an egg or a potato? Life can be a boiling pot of water. By placing the egg in the boiling water you harden the insides of the egg.  By placing the potato in the boiling water you soften the potato. 

*Life is on the upswing. And it is a HUGE upswing. I was reminded of that today when seeing a doctor for the first time in almost 20 years.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mema - Jealous of a Grandmother

This is my wife's grandmother on her dad's side - her Mema. This weekend we went to visit Christi Jo's family in her home town. When we had to leave for home we went to see her Mema that lives in a Nursing Home. 


Having a father in the military and not growing up around my grandparents, I felt kind of jealous of my wife. I wish I had knows my grandparents better and I wish I had known my parent's family better. It is kind of sad not knowing them because we lived as far as we did. 

I don't think being jealous is a good thing - except for something like this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Wood Badge 120 - The Quartermaster of All Quatermasters

I don't think I have ever been so tired in my life. Ever. 

Wood Badge was awesome and harder than any other Scout event I have ever participated in. Hard in a good way and hard in a bad way. I should have learned from being an Assistant Quartermaster how difficult it would be. Even now 8 days after Wood Badge my body is tired and achy. My feet still hurt like no other. My body pops and cracks when I move (OK, that might be because I am partly old).* Seriously, my feet still stinking hurt. Like hurt after a Goruck event.


How much stuff can you cram in a Jeep? A ton.
The Quartermaster touches everything on our course and by that I mean everything that the Scribes don't touch - for me I can see that both of these jobs are just ridiculously involved (I have never served as a Scribe). When things were needed everyone comes to the Quartermaster. I would have been a billionaire if I got paid every time I heard "Go ask the Quartermaster." I will say I have had dreams of being the Quartermaster on a Philmont Course where the Quartermaster doesn't cook (and for the record, according to my Council's rules I can't serve as Quartermaster again so this will never happen). Not being able to serve again as QM is probably a blessing and a curse. I think I could handle things a bit better and plan a ton better. I put a ridiculous amount of stress on myself because I wanted to cook good food and come in under budget.  The budget was one of my biggest worries. I saw so many examples of how to manage the budget from breaking down costs in each meal to manage the budget individually in each day to just planning a menu and then making changes to make sure you are under budget through substitution. I tried extremely hard to use a lot of the same ingredients in meals so that I didn't use something just once. This also created a fear of not having diversity in the food I planned on serving. Stupid fears? Probably but there is nothing worse than bad food at a Scout event. Nothing..............

My staff was great. They really worked hard and did everything I asked of them on course. We had a lot of fun and we worked our butts off (in 8 days on course my Fitbit said I walked 65 miles!!). If anyone said my staff didn't pull their weight, I would probably attempt to run them down to hurt them but my feet probably wouldn't allow it.


All work and no play makes a lame Quartermaster Staff.

I got to meet very quickly Charles W. Dahlquest II who was at one point the LDS Church's Young Men President.**

At one point during the course, we had a huge meal to cook and I also became short-staffed (family and providing for your family ALWAYS comes first). I got to invite a Wood Badge friend and my wife to come help cook in the kitchen kind of on short notice. My wife watched us sing, she watched us sing Back to Gilwell, etc. She told me later "I finally get it. I finally get why you Scout." At one point I even heard her singing her own version of Back to Gilwell called "Happy Gilwell" a few days after her visit. Having her understand why I Scout it huge. Christi Jo has been a huge calming force for me since the preparation for this course started and when I was ready to lose it due to stress. 

Nothing like having fun during lunch!

I think for now I will be stepping aside for a while from Wood Badge. I want to do another course - I want to be clear about that but it has to be well timed in my life. Doing back to back courses has been extremely hard on me. I wouldn't change it but getting married in between courses (and not knowing I was getting married) was a huge surprise. Getting married was an easy decision thanks to Christi Jo. Serving on a Wood Badge course is an easy decision knowing who I was serving under. Learning how to balance both of those responsibilities is extremely hard especially when I probably micromanaged myself a little more than needed.

I am sad and glad this course is over. Glad for new friends and sad that it won't be like it was before.

* I am preparing for another Goruck event in about 2 months with a honeymoon in about a 3 weeks. I am busy and my body keeps telling me to slow down. More on this in a post later.

** Charles W. Dahlquest II bio. He currently is serving as the BSA's National Commissioner.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Why I hate Christmas

The past 20 years of Christmas have been painful for me. I was just in the wrong place with the wrong people. Holidays were really not ever about anything I wanted as a father and as the head of a home. I am sure that sounds a bit selfish but I tried for years to establish family traditions. What I wanted for my family was sort of overwritten by what extended family wanted especially when it put us out and wasn't really asked but just sort of told to me.



Last year I took my holidays into my own hands. I finally had the ability to make things different after a VERY difficult summer. That was probably the worst summer I have ever experienced. Those who know what happened know how deadly painful it was for me. After such a difficult summer, at Christmas time I created a plan to quietly serve others with ditch stuff on people's doorsteps, ringing their doorbell and running like the wind (OK, I am fat -- I ran more like a cow with a bad leg that should be put down with a bullet to the head). By following the advice of friend and religious leader I went out of my way to bake and deliver goodies to some of the people around me.


I love this tree!!!
This year has already been different. Different like not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally. Christmas music has new meaning. I have actually liked it after years of not liking it. Shopping for presents has been easy. My kids have finally been stress free in my home. Remembering what my God has done for me has been easier  and when I occasionally forget I am reminded quickly by my better half. Even after hearing last week I have to go back to court AGAIN I feel like there might be hope. 



This Christmas for me is about hope especially through adversity. 
It is about not being alone.
It is about my kids not being alone.
It is about having the same goals.
It is about not ever giving up.
It is about two loves. The love of my Savior and the love of my beautiful wife (and having more fun with her - she is a blast!!)

Here is to hoping that this Christmas and 2017 destroys 2016 and 2015. I am ready to catch my breath. Ready to see more of the good than the bad. 

I am ready to just be happy!!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

More life changes --- I should just expect them....

The more you want things to stay the same the more they seem to change. Life has served up some great and scary changes.

Last summer I wanted to sell my house and get a new start. Due to a family legal battle over kids, moving in the middle of the situation would not have helped my children. In fact, at the time I felt like it could actually hurt them. I have lived in the same home for 15 years. For a military brat that is a long time. I have never lived anywhere longer that 8 years. Little Elm has been my home. I love it here. I have friends. I know the community - I actually feel like I am a part of the community. I feel like I am part of my congregation. I love everything about Denton County and Little Elm. It is who I feel like I am. But my house......  It has been the location of a lot of turmoil in my life. The house is fine. It has great bones. It is where I have raised by kids. They love it there too. But my house..... There are a lot of memories there. Most minus my kids are not so great. Failed marriages, it sits empty more days due to my kids not being there while I work from the office now and now my commute is ridiculous due to taking a promotion.

So it is time to make a change with my house and sell it. I am very sad about this. More sad is the fact that I won't get to interact weekly with men like Alex, Josue, Clint, Russ, Josh, Brandon, Jeff, Tyler, etc. I could go on and on. Some have moved on themselves and I guess I just remember the "good old days".

Work has been extremely hard. Under-staffed like no other. I think the only way to fix this is utter failure. Warnings have been given but not heeded. I can only counsel.

The biggest change in my life as of late is Christi Jo. Just when you are done with relationships, the Lord humbles you. He knows better than I do. He reminds me often. When you are not looking, you usually find what you need. And I have. I don't know how else to describe her other than perfect for me and even more perfect for my kids.* My kids were bugging me quick to marry her quick. My oldest was the slowest to come around to this idea -- he was being protective especially after a therapist told me I should share in general terms what happened in the last marriage. I did. His eyes were opened. I have felt a ton more compassion from him (though he still gives me grief) and I actually heard him tell me twice "Wow Dad. You have been through a lot." He is right. I know the Lord knows me and loves me. I know He knows me personally. For whatever reason he has given me a ton of trials (at least I see it that way--others might not). This blog has only contained a small portion of what has happened in my last bit of life. The main reason is I don't want to air dirty laundry some of it my own. I have shared though in hoping someone will see there is hope and honestly it is therapeutic for me write down my feelings.

                                                   

My oldest though came around and came around quick and fast about Christi Jo telling me to hurry up and marry her. 

I know what is right. I know what is right for my kids. I know I have answers. I know I need a mate who loves me, who will serve me and who will let me grow and do the things I love to do - like Scouting. I don't want to spill my guts here but I will say I know she loves me. She is a good woman who loves my kids. I know it won't be easy - marriage usually never is. I just know she won't quit and neither will I. So we are getting married and blending families. It will be an awesome, horrible, sucky, rewarding, painful, stressful, interesting ride. I am ready to do it with her. I love her.

Today ended my 60 days of summer possession with my kids. It is usually a hard day. And it has been difficult but I gave my kids their before school blessings before they left today. My oldest got some very clear direction in his and for the first time in a long time I got a heartfelt and long hug from him when I was done. We both cried. I have cried a lot lately. Mostly good. Some bad. Christi had heard me mention it is usually a bad day for me when they go home after summer visitation and asked the kids to each pick out a card for me. It was just what I needed. I am glad she listens and my kids express to me how much they love me.

So in addition to selling a house and getting married, I am staffing another Wood Badge course. To be honest, this is probably where I am most comfortable as of late in my life. I have a lot work to do but I am ready.

With all these changes I cannot fail. I will not fail. I have already done enough failing.

*My kids were really hurt in my last marriage. Really hurt. My youngest the most. She was used as an emotional punching bag. Hence I created a "5 year plan" to date but not marry. I didn't want her to experience that again. Not child who you say you accept as your own deserves to be neglect like that even if you think I am a horrible person ESPECIALLY when you trust me enough to 3 years prior to adopt and be sealed to your daughter. The anger and frustration is gone on my part but I don't forget when you purposely hurt my child especially when I tried to protect you from you own kids when they attacked you. My youngest (and the boys) deserve a hell of a lot better than that. There is no hate or anger on my part. I just know what I will accept now and treating my kids like that doesn't fly. EVER.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Life Changes

This weekend I had the great opportunity to see three of my Scouts graduate from High School. It is a huge reminder about how old I am getting. It is great to see these three become men and make decisions on what they want to do with life whether that is mission or college. I am very proud of all three. We are getting close to changing what I am called - Brother Fisher to Chad. It is weird when it happens but I have had Scouts move to being a peer. It is great to see it.


Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to a funeral outside of Dallas for a co-worker's son. It is tragic what happened to him but this funeral gave her the opportunity to sort of put closure on a horrible situation and gave some of my co-workers and I the opportunity to support her. She doesn't ask for help ever but during this time she allowed me to me to serve her through making her a bunch of meals and bringing them to her. I am glad she let me serve. It was interesting to see and hear stories of her son. I had only met him 2 or 3 times and he was going through a rough spot in life at the time but it is clear that he was on the road to getting things back together. He looked like he was fun to be around and always had a smile on his face.

After the funeral I was able to celebrate with two of my Scouts at a graduation party. It was interesting to see them walk around and interact with people. Another almost Eagle was there hanging out with them (reminder to self - help fill out his Eagle Rank Application). Eagle is no measure of a boy's greatness for sure but I am glad they saw it through. I am struggling with the fact that my oldest chose not to get his but the choice was his - I think I will always struggle with this. It is very clear that the Scouting program is doing good things and working to make these boys better men. I am actually seeing it. I think about the all the young men that have entered "my" Scouting program and how they have all gone on to be productive and awesome.

One of my graduating Scouts will be having his Eagle Court of Honor this Thursday. Really proud that he finally earned it. He was constantly working on it through the help of awesome parents and a gentle reminder here and there from me to help nudge him to get it done. He did the work. We sure didn't. His project was PERFECT for who he was. I am working on his Trail to Eagle presentation and minus some crappy production value I might not be able to overcome it will be very personal to who he is. I may post it here after the event.

I have a lot to be grateful for. I look at these young men and couldn't be more proud of who they are.



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Uber Ride from Hell

Uber is a cheap alternative to a cab. I have never taken a cab before due to price. When they cancelled Carry the Load, they wanted us to hike back to basecamp to hide from the storm.  If you tell me I am done, don't then make me walk back in the rain. I decided to hire an Uber to carry Christi and I back to our cars since David was gone - I was going to have them drop Christi at her car and then proceed to drop me off at my car. I ordered the Uber at 3:05 AM. The Uber that was dispatched was 4 minutes away.................

30 minutes later I had watched this cab drive literally all over but not to the spot where we were waiting. Then I noticed she had already started to bill me for the ride....... My first Uber wasn't going well.  So finally she found us which with Google Maps isn't really that hard. I mean seriously. It isn't that hard. The app loads a map in for you to use not only to get to the location for pick up but to then get them where they need to go. Ezzy peazzy.

So when we got in I typed in the location of where we need to go and lets just say a 4 minute drive became like a 12 minute ride from hell. Our driver admitted she didn't know the area and then admitted she didn't know what she was doing. We kind of figure that. Then she proceeded to drive like a frackin' bat out of hell in the rain. I seriously was scared for my life. She almost ran 2 stop signs. I look over and Christi is laughing and I am almost crying.

I tried to be nice and offer suggestions. They were sort of overlooked.

A $4 fair ended up bring almost $15. I contacted Uber and the changed the fair to $7. Still not really happy about the whole situation. If I were a driver I would be mortified if I did this.

Needless to say we got to our cars. We survived but I want my $2 back*. Uber I will make you pay!!

* I have been back and forth with Uber all day yesterday. They finally agreed to refund the whole ride. They said this isn't normal or customary but neither was this ride. Thanks Uber for making this right. I mean I almost died!!!!!!




Monday, May 30, 2016

Carry the Load 2016 - After Action Review

These backpacks spent a ton of time together!!
Man, this year was awesome!! The weather was GREAT! I raised money this year thanks to a singular Wood Badge friend. And I did so much better than last year. I was hot and tired but I wasn't forced to take 83 naps throughout the night. It was a great, humbling, fulfilling experience that I recommend to all.




I was honored again this year to walk for Sargent Enrique Mandragon from The Colony, Texas. This years goal was 30 miles with 30 pounds. When I weighted my pack at home I was at 34 pounds. When it was weighted at the event is was a straight up 40 pounds. After last year's beating physically I had mixed emotions when I heard that. I contemplated getting rid of some of my stuff but elected to try it. I met up with my friend David who I met at last years event and we proceeded to walk the first 16 miles together. I got to admit the first 10 miles was an absolute mental battle with my brain. I had not slept well the night before and my neck and back were hurting from the horrible night sleep I had but I was stubborn enough to know that I had to wait to get into the zone. And it hit about mile 10. David was the only reason I got to mile 16. David has heart!



I finally got to carry a fire hose!!
Field of flags!!
I love this shirt!!
During the event people carry different things to symbolize carrying other's load. Firefighters usually carry fire hose. I ran into a female firefighter who is almost done with the Dallas Fire Academy and asked her if I could carry her hose for a bit. I carried it for about 3/4 a mile before she had to bolt to walk with friends but I was finally glad to be able to say that I was able to carry a fire hose at Carry the Load.


Saw some of my fellow Goruckers out there. Glad to be associated with such great people that actually care about veterans.

At mile 16 I met up with Christi. I wasn't very talkative nor was I very fast. Sweating from me eyes because I was so hot is partly to blame. Who knew you could sweat from your eyes? I had slowed way down but didn't need naps like I did last year. I think the better weather was the reason I wasn't wanting to pass out. I was pretty overheated last year. Plus the use of a cooling towel helped a TON. Almost every aid station I dipped it into the buckets of ice. My back was wet from sweat and my front was wet due to the cooling towel to help fight the heat. I was wet a lot during this event. I got two of the best blisters ever. One on the ball of my foot and the other on the top of my toe. Painful but worth it.

We had seen some awesome lightening and a little bit of rain all night. We were told storms would hit about midnight. I wasn't scared because the water would have cooled me down even further but the lightening became an issue. At about 2 AM it started to storm decent. The volunteers at aid station #3 told us they wanted us back at the Park. We elected to just go to our cars. One very long Uber ride later we were at our cars (more to come on this ride later). 

Final distance and time was 25.5 miles at 10 hours. For a fat guy with a 40 pound ruck on his back, that really isn't the bad. I would have really liked to have hit my 30 miles but it was not so this year. It doesn't really matter. it was more about honoring Sargent Mondragon and his sacrifice. 

I would encourage you to do a Carry the Load. You don't have to walk miles and miles like I do. You don't even have to carry a load. Just being there shows that you care.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

All I want to be is a Dad

All I want to be is a Dad. I want to be involved in my kid's lives. Harder for a divorced dad when kid's are in two different locations but still do-able. And I would do anything for them!! When I get last minute notice, I drop whatever I am doing to show my kids I am interested in them and love them (yes, I actually am). I shouldn't be excluded from piano recitals, concerts, get last minute notice on stuff, not be involved in decisions that effect the kids when they are in my home just because I don't live with them. I beg, I plead. I want to be involved. I have the right. I clearly can't be that horrible of a man.

So I wait till they need me..........and try to ignore they only want me when they need me.

To single dads out there my heart breaks for you. Especially if you give half a crap about your kids. My heart is broken.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Carry the Load 2016

I again going to be doing Carry the Load this year for Memorial Day. This is last years experience. This year I am not doing as many miles with as much weight but 30 pounds for 30 miles is still a shock to the body.  I am hoping my daughter K will be joining me as she has expressed interest in going this and Goruck events with me. I am sure she will do fine. She is pretty physically stubborn when she puts her mind to it.

This year I have thought and thought about who to walk for and I just keep coming back to Sgt. Enrique Mondragon that I walked for last year. I am friends with this wife and mother on Facebook though I do not personally know them. It is very touching to see their posts often about how they miss him throughout the year. He is obviously very loved and very deserving of having my ruck dedicated to him. 

So earlier this week I decided again that I will dedicate my Sunday afternoon, evening, Monday very early morning and Monday to Sergeant Enrique Mondragon. He should be remembered especially since he grew up right here in the area. 


Memorial bracelet I will be wearing!

Look for an AAR (after action review) after the event!