Everyday life...

The parallel's from everyday life to grief sometimes hit me like a ton of bricks. In the past few days, I've gone from one life to another. I knew it was coming and the transition has still been difficult. My attention needs to shift yet I'm still swimming in the middle. I can see where I was and where I need to go but I also know that I'm not there yet.

West 17th has been my priority, along with several other things I do. Now, school is that priority and making that shift is hard to do. I can't just shut off West 17th but I see that my mental attention needs to shift or I will not be giving teaching my full attention and that's not acceptable in my book.

Now, the parallel. I see this, I know this, I understand this and yet the transition is difficult. It's no wonder why our bodies and minds fight back when tragedy strikes. It's no wonder we go into scattered and chaotic thinking after something major happens. It's no wonder we don't know what to do, how to do it or when to do it.

The point I'm trying to desperately make this morning is that I know it and still have to force myself to stop and reflect instead of run and react. I'm still learning, I'm still a beginner. Just knowing this doesn't fix it, but it sure makes me feel much more in control.

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

730 days ago...

I'm humbled by the miles I've traveled in the past 730 days.  Two years ago this morning I set off on a journey of discovery.  I was desperate to find peace and to answer questions that I had bouncing uncontrollably within.  I honestly wasn't sure I wanted to live another moment.

Everything I felt that I needed to move forward in my life was neatly tucked away in storage, I closed the door.  The clacking as the door rolled shut to the life that was no more.  I desired peace, but didn't know that I had the strength to find it.

As the door hit the concrete, I reached for the latch and slowly put the lock on the door.  The question of WHO would open this door was on my mind, honestly, I prayed within it would be me.  

Without a doubt I had work to do, only this work wasn't a home to rebuild or a fence to straighten.  It was work within and the darkness scared me to death.  I was now a man faced with the reality of my past, I had to face it to move to the future.  

Several years before as I stood at my sons grave, the traffic continued to go by without a hint of slowing.  I wanted the world to stop, I couldn't afford another second forward.  Every second forward was a second farther from the last hug my son and I shared.  The distance in seconds was like a spaceship hurling toward Mars.

As I walked away from my things in storage and sat in my car with my hand on the ignition, I knew the days ahead would be difficult.  The spaceship was me, tumbling toward a world I didn't understand.  Afraid to breath, afraid to blink.  Seconds seemed liked hours.

730 days ago I set off on a journey of self discovery, what I found inspired me.  What I found within beyond the muck, the despair and the regret was a man who stood strong.  "This no more" I proclaimed, "there must be another".  

There was and there is.  In the darkness I inspired.  In the darkness I inspired myself.  I will and I can.  I found my answers within, the questions vanished.  

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.

I can see it...

While walking across campus yesterday at FHSU, I had to stop a moment and just look across campus. I thought to myself, "I'm really here". As I walked away from normal to travel the country, I had no idea where I would end up. 

I followed what I felt was right for me and ended up exactly where I needed to be. It's not Hays that makes it perfect, I could do what I do anywhere. It's not FHSU that makes it perfect, I could teach anywhere. It's not the students that make it perfect, I can find a full classroom anywhere. 

What makes all of this so worthy of the moment is the simple fact that I can see it. It's not what others have asked me to see, it's the fact that I found my way. Being home within doesn't come easy, I shed many tears finding this place. 

What's empowering is simply understanding that no one can take this from me. Take away the place, the people, the things, it's still mine. Anything beyond my skin is temporary, what I carry in my heart will be mine forever.

It all changed.


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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