kris munsch

A simple hello can...

This past week I had an opportunity to speak with two different freshman classes at FHSU and I centered my talk around the very simple concept of saying "hello".  As I walk across campus, I greet everyone with a simple hello, good morning, etc.  It's not rocket science.  I make eye contact and speak.

Here's how it works.

1.  I see the oncoming person.

2.  I make eye contact.

3.  Typical response by the oncoming person is to look away, look at their phone, etc.  (I'm beginning to think this is a natural reaction due to technolgy taking away the ability to personally communicate)

4.  As I get closer, I look right at them and without any doubt of my intention speaking clearly and direct, "hello", "good morning", "beautiful day".

5.  The reponse 9 times out of 10, a smile followed by a reply.  I sometimes get the look of "who the hell are you?"  It doesn't phase me as a single smile in reply makes up for a hundred nonresponses.

6.  What I've noticed is almost a giddy in their step when they reply.  I love it and will forever do it, regardless of response.

The reason I shared this with the freshman class is that I want to change a culture, one person at a time.  I don't want a campus that ignores a fellow student, instructor, maintenance man.  I don't want a campus filled with people walking with heads down.  I want a campus filled with people making a difference.  You don't have to split atoms, write novels, give grand speaches to change someones life, in my opinion it starts with a simple hello.

A simple hello can change a life.  It can give hope to someone who's struggles.  It can put gidding in a step.  It can give light in a moment of darkness.  A simple hello can bring life.

Be safe and well friends, but more importantly, hello.  

Somewhere...

Somewhere, someone is waking up this morning wondering if it will ever go away.  The pain, the empty, the fear, the longing, the...  The endless list.  Not I or anyone can promise you it will.  The combination of the above can and often takes the living to the brink of death.

The fine line, the tipping point of survival.  I've leaned over it's edge, to convince within it's got to be better never achieved.  I can't hold you, I can't begin to convince you, all I can do is show you with the thought you may be watching.

I encourage you to step to the edge, to feel it, to touch it, to understand it.  What we learn, we no longer fear.  The empty subsides as the strength begins to flood.  Somewhere, I wake never to forget, but to understand that I can.  I can live a life, my life, regardless.  

I began to live, even in it's insanity.  I began to see it, sanity.  I'm not crazy, I'm me. It's reality, life, weakness, has brought me to my strengths.  I pull back, the edge, the brink to live a life I never dreamed.  

Be safe and well.

 

PS.  There isn't a day that I don't think back to the darkness, a reminder of just how bright my life is today.  I share from the heart as I can't imagine not.  

 

Aberrant

Aberrant is defined as:  departing from the right, normal, or usual course. 2. deviating from the ordinary, usual, or normal type; exceptional; abnormal.

Am I exceptional or abnormal?  I've asked myself this very question many times since Blake's death or after the experience of my second divorce.  In one breath, living in my car to gather my brain appeared to many as abnormal, yet as I exhale I see the strength in even taking the first step to do such a thing.

In my mind, I'm neither.  I'm simply me.

I never departed from the right, as what I did was never wrong.  It was simply what I needed to do.

Normal is simply a perspective, place upon something.  A judgement by others who have no business.

When I look at my life, the death of my son, two divorces is my course.  I can take no other.

 

This morning Taylor was reading from her ethics book and brought up this word.  It intrigued me, so I wrote about it.  

 

If I were to be completely honest...

If profanity bothers you, read no further.

 

I spent my entire day on yesterday working on my home restoration project on West 17th.  I would say that 98% of the day was done without a radio playing.  The only distrations I encountered were the occasional visitor or a trip to the lumberyard.  I enjoyed the time and smells of construction thru and thru.

As I worked, the silence gave way to some very good time to think.  As I was working, I couldn't help but think about my life and how I ended up here.  I paused a moment and walked over to the window that peers out of the front of my house and I looked over at the home I lived in when Blake was killed.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge as they say.  The journey from that house to the house I'm standing in now, well, there was a lot of shit I had to get straight in my head in those travels.  Blake's death and my two divorces fucked my head up.  There is honestly no other way to put it.

My first divorce was hard for me, circumstances that led to this divorce were tough.  As I look back now, it was the beginning of misunderstanding within.  To rebuild my life after this divorce, I strived to come back financially.  Insisting this was the way as I had no idea how fucked my brain was already.  

Then Blake's death.  I miss him, yes, and will each and every second that passes.  If he could step in the door this moment, I would instantly begin replacing the regrets I have.  My first divorce left me angry, I took some of this anger out on my son.  If there is one thing that fucks with me, it's that single action I can't take back.  If there were a stronger word, I use it.  

My second divorce was the tipping point for me.  Let's just say there was "no more room in the inn" for fuck.  The way my marriage ended literally sent me spirally out of control, the only way out was death, but I knew that it either had to be at my hand or to somehow find the patience to live it out.  I've never come so close to blowing fuck all over the wall, it's where it belonged.

It's not easy to type and I'm sure that it's not easy to read, the talk of suicide or the idea that I grasp with all my might that certain experiences in my past fucked me up in the head.  I don't want to hear, "be strong" or "it's OK" or "we love you" or "    " or "     ".  Honestly, I don't need a single outside condolence as I've found exactly what I need in this life.

It's not external and it's not a thing, it's the simple understanding that there are certain things that are very difficult to understand, to solve, to get answers too.  It's the simple understanding that I am me, a man who's lived a life with ups and downs, yet here I stand.  No better or no worse, but I understand. 

My past fucked me up in the head.  It's when I appeared insane to others I was actually seeking my sanity, which led me to my reality.  As I continued to work yesterday, I smiled.  I'm home, not the physical place, but the one within.  Maybe my brain is a bit blended, but I know that it is and just knowing brings peace, clarity and the power to overcome just about anything.

I sat down for dinner a couple weeks ago with Taylor and told her, "I'm so grateful for my life, all of it".  Even the part that's a little fucked up, it's my reality.    

A few simple words...

This morning, I had the opportunity to walk over to the FHSU Memorial Union and speak to a group of middle and high school students who are on campus for a conference.  The title of my 30 minute time to talk was "Live it".  I meandered a bit aimlessly this morning, a general idea of what I was going to say.

I typically don't have a defined path, I guess I just sit and listen prior to speaking.  Yeah, without a doubt my talk will be about life.  Yeah, without a doubt my talk will include death.  To some, the idea of talking about death to a group of 7 thru 12th grades may seem a bit crazy.

As I approached the front of the room to begin talking, the kids were shifting, moving from butt cheek to butt cheek.  Yeah, they were ready to get up and go.  Pencils moving, water bottles rolling, they were just being kids.

A few simple words brought complete silence to the room.  My voice crackled as it always does, tears filled my eyes as they always do.  "My son Blake was killed in a car accident just outside of Hays, KS".  I can't say it without tearing up, the emotions flood my body like gates opening at the Panama Canal.

Not a pencil moved.  Every eye in the room was glued to my next word.  "I don't want to be here, but it's the only way I can keep my sons voice alive" I shared.  The lessons he taught me far to powerful to hoard, to stack within, one upon another.  In time, his death would be wasted.

I was exactly where I needed to be, speaking from the heart.  The message within the voice.  The voice from a broken heart.  The broken heart that will forever mend.  The mending that takes place in changing lives.  The changed lives that create new life.  

The cycle of life begins with me, in this moment of time.  A beginner forever.  Doors never to be sealed, but to be broken down.  "Live it" 

Have you ever...

Have you ever slept in your car while it was raining? I remember driving south out of Washington State I found a nice little spot to park for the night and rain moved in. I laid there looking up at my side windows watching the raindrops run down my window.

The drops would begin as one, partner with another, than another and yet another. A single raindrop, slowly sliding down would gain more and more momentum as it gathered other drops. It would reach a point it was no longer meandering, but on a mission.

Reminds me of my life as I was grieving death and divorce. Now I have momentum, a force, a voice, passion, life. I started slowly, meeting people like Dave, Glen, Mitch, Daryl, Tanya, Darcie, Mary, Max, Alex, Jarred, Taylor, Steve...

I'm a little bit of all these people, yet I'm me, my foot on the center of the universe. It took a long time to see it, but now that I do, it's my obligation to teach it. To speak the truths that I understand, it's my journey, my story to tell for all who've become a part of my life.

A single raindrop on a window, a moment in time when I was looking. I'm glad I was there to witness it, as today I woke to finally understand it.

Be safe and well friends, but more importantly, be yourself. Even if you're the only one dancing on the hill.

I've never been so....

I'm guessing six months have passed since hearing the name Steve Fugate.  I'm not sure who told me but I remember them saying that he was this super inspirational guy who was walking back and forth across the country and was doing it because of the death of his children.

Maybe it did register, but honestly I really don't think it did.  Not because I don't care, my only explanation is that my own life has been so darn busy.  Traveling, teaching, renovating, life.  A guy named Steve is walking across the country, that is amazing but...  

As Steve has been making his way across Kansas, I had been encouraged to reach out to him and say hello.  So I did.  Within 24 hours he messaged me back with exactly the kind words I expected.  I went about my day.  

Then I read on his FB page he's making his way west, he's very close.  Life, teaching, West 17th, do I really have the time?  It nagged at me, not because I don't believe in his mission, just because I struggle to keep my own mission moving forward.

Today he was due south of Hays, KS.  I had to teach and we had a department meeting, leave the school at 5 or later, drive, mannnnnnnnnn!!  Regardless of the reasons not to go, something nagged at me from within.

So I walked into my dept. chairs office and said, "hey, I need to do something today at 2:30 and I'm going to miss the meeting".  He replied with "you're a grown man, do what you need".  I shared where I was going and that I did, head south to highway 56 with only two green PowerAde and a nervous stomach.

It didn't take me long at all to find Steve marching west.  I pull up and honestly, tears were ready to burst from my face as he walked up to me.  It could have just as easily been me pulling that load, in a sense we all pull that load.

With a grin he said, "now who are you?  I meet soooo many people".  I chuckled as this is exactly how I had hoped it would go.  I replied with a smile, "I'm Kris Munsch from Hays, the birdhouse guy".  He instantly stopped and smiled, "I remember you".  We walked on to my pickup, he dropped his stuff, grabbed a cold drink and we began to talk.

It was like we had simply not seen each other for years and picked up right where we had left off, although we had never met.  So easily we could have switched places, I get it.  I know what drives him, what gives him the inner peace to say it the way it is and not give one hoot of an owl's ass what others think.  

We cussed and dicussed.  Laugh??  Till I had tears running down my cheeks.  We talked about anything and everything, from teaching to teens, it was all out on the table.  We both offered each other different perspectives on life, love, marriage and kids.  On death, surviving, suicide, speaking and dropping the f-bomb when it's really needed.

Two hours we sat and talked, it felt like two minutes.  He did several things for me and didn't even realize it.  One, he validated my belief in self.  Meaning that the fight is worth the blood, sweat and tears.  Two, he gave me the courage to even stand taller for what I believe.  To say it because I believe it, if you don't, that's perfectly fine.  And third, it doesn't take magic, millions of dollars or luck to change the world.  

Steve is doing it because he's passionate, hard working and will do what it takes to get the job done.  We are brothers from different mothers.  If you don't know this man or his story, please take a moment to read about him.  If you want to see life from a different perspective, go see him.  www.lovelifewalk.com or look him up on FB

Now, I will finish with what turned out to be one of the best parts.  I've NEVER had a speeding ticket in my life, that is until today.  I couldn't wait to get there.  FUCK!!  

Be safe and well friends, but most importantly, be yourself.  If you're greiving the loss of anything, don't let anyone tell you how to do it.  

 

99.1 to .01

This has been on my mind all day, so here goes.

Last night I posted an article written by Ashley Davis Bush.  The article is below if you didn't see it. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ashley-davis-bush/dealing-with-grief_b_371...

This really struck home with me, it's not perfect but it's about as close as it can get.  Each point in the article could be summarized in my journey in percentages.  

1.  Grief is a normal reaction. 

I know this to be absolutely true, not only in death but in divorce.  I've said a thousand times that my divorce was actually harder for me then my sons death to get a grip on.  Death is final and divorce is filled with grey.

2.  Grief is hard work.

It's honestly the hardest work I've ever done and I've done some pretty tough stuff in my life.  I restore old homes and have had to eat dirt literally from crawling face down in attics and crawlspace to accomplish my goal.  Slept it off and gone right back to work the next day to do it again.  Resting up from grief is nearly impossible.  It hangs with you, regardless of sleep.

3.  Grief doesn't offer closure.

Closure is simply not possible.  For those of you that think it is, you need to find closure and back your silly ass up because it's not going to happen.  Not because I don't want it, because it's simply something that's not possible.  It's like telling me to pretend it never happened.  If you're in the business helping others and using the word closure, stop.

4.  Grief is life long.

It is in every sense of my being.  It in no way means all I do is sit in my house grasping to pictures or memories sobbing.  Again, it's like telling me it didn't happen.  I've spoken about my sons death or my two divorces many times in workshops, each and every time my heart races, my palms get sweaty and I have a hard time resting up afterward.  Emotions are like petrified wood, different, but very much as real as the day they first lived.  

I also want to touch on the idea that grief gets harder the second year.  It took me a couple months to even begin to realize my son was dead, gone, not coming back.  It took me a couple months to get a grip on the fact that my marriage was over.  It does get harder before it gets easier.  It's not about days, months or years, it climaxs somewhere as we are all different.  

5.  Grievers need to stay connected to the deceased.

This was without a doubt the toughest for me.  How????  Every single time I talk about my son those around me changed the subject.  It leaves a person isolated and left without direction.  The relationship doesn't go away, they have to change and it's up to the griever to figure it out.  Trying to push someone or telling them to disconnect or stay busy, what a joke.  It took me seven years to figure it out.  I really wish that someone would have simply given me the needed space and listened when I needed to just talk.  That's it, not try and solve it for me, just listen.  Have you ever had something that you just couldn't figure out and when you start sharing the problem you begin to answer your own question.  Figuring out this new relationship is no different.  

6.  Grievers are changed forever.

Now I can tell you without a doubt that I didn't go easy.  I kicked and screamed as I slide down the slope into this reality.  I cussed, flailed wildly, everyone was to blame but me.  I was not going down without a fight, but when I hit bottom I made a thud so loud birds across the state park I was in took flight.  Something I discovered was this, if something good changes us for life, why can't tragedy do the same?  The death of my son, divorce, they are a part of who I am.  I'm changed for the better.

7. Grief can choose transcendence.  

Without a doubt, this is exactly what I've done.  I mean this scores a 100%.  I had to find an outlet for my regret.  The things I wished I had done differently or even the things I didn't get to do were eating me like an ameba in my brain.  When I started helping others through The Birdhouse Project, what I'm writing today, listening to others, it's how I transended from sadness to happiness.  This can also transend into negative just as easily, drinking, drugs, lashing out, the emotional reactions in the negative direction are just as powerful.  

 

My final thoughts.  99.9 to .01

I can live each and every one of these to the most positive impactful life changing inspiring choruses in my life 99.01% of the time, but the power that is held within the pain of .01% of my human emotion can bring me crashing to my knees.  I can be empowered and drive by the cemetery and see my sons grave and I want to puke.  I can be empowered and hear a student introduce himself as Blake and wretch my body like a contortionist to keep from bursting into tears just from hearing his name.  

My son lives within me, I see him in everything I do, say and touch.  It's truly heaven on earth, I wouldn't change a thing.  I am 1 through 7, but I'm also Kris, a builder, a teacher, a visionary.  I'm grateful to be home, not in the physical sense, the spiritual one.  Be safe and well, but more importantly, be yourself.

"When I began doing things that seamed insane to other, I was simply seeking my own sanity.  When I arrived, I discoverd my reality".  

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