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. 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.  


Death does bring life...

Last week, a gentleman I know died, he was far to young. Leaving behind a family, many friends, a career he excelled in and projects he was working on.

I didn't know him well, however, we did cross paths a time or two. Something about his death has affected me, I'm not sure what it is just yet. I'll keep searching.

His grave is not far from my sons, I guess it's just something I never imagined. Maybe I feel the heaviness of his fathers heart, I'm not sure. I'll keep searching.

I no longer open the paper or hear of a death and simply shrug my shoulders and move about my day. I wish I could, but I can't. For a moment, if only a brief moment, I go back in time. It's heavy. I'll keep searching.

I'm just a beginner, yet walked a million steps. I'm not afraid to question, to feel, to ponder, it's who I am. Forever I'll be searching, yet at peace within. 

I'm home, the spiritual one. My mind may wonder, but I will always come back here. It's where I belong, it's who I am. Death will leave many wondering, searching, reflecting.

Death can bring life, don't be afraid. Search, you will find it.

Walking the bridge...

Taylor, Sue and myself stood at the east sidewalk entrance looking out over the fog covered Golden Gate Bridge on my 50th birthday.  My mind was in awe at the beauty.  I’ve watched several TV specials about the construction of this beautiful structure. 


I could feel the vibration in my feet from the cars driving by and we were still standing on solid ground, almost like the bridge was talking to me.  I lifted my camera, click.  As I lowered it to my pocket I said, “beautiful”.


I don’t think a half a second passed and Sue replied “I hate it”.  My head spun and our eyes met, I could see the depth of how this bridge was haunted her.  How could I see such beauty, yet 24” away this beautiful mom saw such pain?


Just over three years ago, Sue’s son took his life at post 61.  I didn’t know Jacob, but after spending the day with Sue as we drove from Sacramento to the bridge I started to learn more and more about him. 


A couple times she mentioned that she sat outside the night before and asked Jacob to send dolphins for our walk on the bridge.  Honestly, I didn’t give the request much thought.  It’s not that I didn’t believe in her, I simply base my life on what is tangible.


Yet I understand far to well, “when we do things that may seem insane to others, we are actually grasping to understand our own lives, which in turn lead us to our reality”.  I respected her belief as when I was looking for signs from my son, others looked at me in disbelief.


Much of the walk to #61 was in silence.  Every now and then we would stop and peer over the edge or grab the rail to keep my balance as I looked up to see the fog roll past the mighty steel.  As a builder of things, I was in awe.  I could hear the men hollering and tossing hot rivets, even if it were only in my mind.


As I approached post #61, everything about myself turned to Jacob.  What he was thinking, feeling and seeing.  Transporting myself within his spirit that seemed to linger in this space.  It wasn’t something that I expected, but I felt as though we stood as one. 


My right hand grabbed the rail, than my left and I peered down to the water.  Just below post #61, two dolphins played.  Jacob, it was good to meet you yesterday.  If only in spirit, you changed my life.  There wasn’t any other place on this earth that I would have rather been on my birthday. 


I never dreamed I would be here, in this moment of time.  Yet Jacob will live on within me forever, this experience stacked neatly upon the last.  It is who I am.  It is who I choose to be.  It’s good to be home within.  Be safe and well, but more importantly, be yourself. 

I'm just a beginner...

As I sit here this morning writing, I'm thinking about the fact that I'm just a beginner.  Today I turn 50.  A milestone in my life, I can only hope it marks halfway.  After Blake's death, I remember wishing that something would take me from this world.  

If only a headache could be a tumor, if only that tightness in my chest would be a massive heart attack ready to take me away.  I didn't want to live, but didn't have the courage to pull my own trigger.  The thought of living with the pain within was daunting to me.  

Last evening I sat with 300 parents as pictures of all our children who died far to young scrolled across the wall.  When my sons picture appeared, I lite my candle.  I sat, tears in my eyes watching the flame.  My life has just begun.

No, I never imagined being a part of this group, but I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  I'm just a beginner, so much to learn, so much to do, so much to say.  I don't live to keep my son alive, I live because my son is alive in everything I do.  

My journey through death and divorce has left scars, but they're only reminders of my strength.  Reminders that when it hurts, I don't have to get up.  Reminders of the power within.  

I'm just a beginner, today I wake wide eyed and ready to learn.  Ready to take it all in as I never know what the next step may bring.  My bones my be 50, but my heart, mind and hands have just begun.

Be safe and well, but more importantly, be yourself.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.  The mind is everything. What we think we become.” - Buddha

Grabbing crisis by the horns...

Yesterday I was at my office at the university working on a few things for the fall semester and received the email notifying me that I had been selected to be a part of the TigerLeaders class for the coming year. I honestly had to read the email a couple times as I couldn't believe what I was reading.

Being selected to participate in this for me sums up why I'm doing what I'm doing and for others on campus to see and recognize my efforts is extremely rewarding. I am a leader of my own passion. I am the guy who is willing to dance on the hill shirtless, regardless of who comes to dance with me.

At the end of July, I will be speaking at a conference in Sacramento and have been tossing around a few ideas as to the direction of my talk. When I really think about it, the topic is simple. It's about taking crisis by the horns and saying NO. 

It's about the willingness to walk away from everything external with the slimmest glimmer of hope that I could get everything. Saying NO was not easy, as I wanted to give up. It was just too much. Little did I realize the heaven on earth that lay waiting for me to see.

Being open to the very idea that I am who I am and my past is not something to control me, but to guide me. Each experience, every mile, the single tear has led me here. To a moment in time that's taking place because I made a decision, to live within and believe in myself.

If you've never danced on a hill shirtless, I suggest you give it a try. When the crowd gathers and begins to dance, step away and smile because you made it happen. Be safe and well, but most importantly, be yourself. 

It's OK to inspire...

On Friday I had to drive to Topeka to attend a state board of appraisers meeting. Long story how I ended up on this board but I'm really enjoying the experience. Anywho, road time usually equals think time for me.

I rarely turn on the radio, I use the time to just think about life. Kind of a who, what, where and when review of what's been taking place. The time is like a super mini time in exile away from the static. 

After the drive to and from, I made a trip to West 17th and spent some time admiring the progress we've made the past month. The amount of work it has taken to get to this point and knowing the amount of work that still lay ahead.

The parallels between the renovation of this home and my life leave me a bit speechless. The empty shell stood waiting for a reason to live again. Patient yet persistent in standing until the time was right. The sun rose and set, days turned to months, months to years.

I look back on my life and the experiences I've had, good and bad, not a piece of the puzzle missing. I had to seek it to find it, my way. Unconventional? Only to others, to me it made perfect sense. I'm no longer a crab in a bucket. I won't allow you to grab my ankle, but I will give you my hand.

I have a story to be written, I simply refuse to write a rough draft. The outline makes little sense, as I'm here, not pretending to be there. My reality is mine, only mine, only from my perspective. I inspire me, because when no one is looking I do the little things.

and the little things are what led me here, to this moment.


The next month is taking The Birdhouse Project all over the country, presentations in CO, NY and FL. I never dreamed such things would be happening, or maybe I did. Looking back, I remember standing at one of the work tables in my high school shop looking at the parts and pieces as the project was developing and could simply feel the future impact. 

I guess my gut told me it would help others because I could see how it was helping me. I don't know that I really understood it yet, but the foundation was there and I had to protect and maintain it forward. In my opinion, having and maintaining my foundation in anything I do literally is make or break as I move forward. 

I do home inspections and time and time again I will see poor drainage, downspouts without splash blocks or no gutters, sidewalks that slope back toward the house, settling soil that creates a pond, downspouts draining into landscape areas right next to the house. The list goes on and on and each item WILL eventually cause damage to the foundation of a home.

What I find so interesting is that even knowing these things, they are so often left for next years repairs. Put off because I need new faucets, or tile in my bathroom. The carpet is outdated and my kitchen has to go. I've never understood why we would invest so much above when the everything that holds it up below is slowing crumbling.

A foundation that isn't protected, nurtured and maintained is a foundation that will eventually fail. The pressures from the outside will continue to push and slowly, with time, the weak areas will begin to expose themselves. Isn't this life? 

I see so much of my life in the homes I renovate. I watched my foundation collapse. I felt the pressure of the outside world when I began rebuilding, when I began discovering who I REALLY am. The more and more I became me, the more and more the world pushed back. Yet with time I found the work that I did below has repaired my foundation for the next rainy day. It's also led me here, to a home within.

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