Everyone Needs Love

Watch this video, then read the post

Upon watching all the videos on Facebook, I was struck by the particular video above where the guy pretends to be homeless and puts a sign in front of him that said “need money for drugs, alcohol, and weed” or something to that effect.  The video moves forward as person after person contributes money to this guys cup with comments like “you do you bro” or “keep livin’ man.”   The video progresses to a the same “homeless” guy with a little girl laying across his legs holding a sign that says “need money to feed my family,” or something to that extent.  Person after person after person walked by, not giving them one cent.  But then another homeless woman came up to them and gave them all she had, saying “you need this more than I do.”  He then reveals to her that he wasn’t really homeless and that it was just a social experiment.  He then gives her the money back along with $100 extra.
My issue with this video is the people that supported this homeless guy when the sign read that it would be used to buy alcohol and weed.  What is this world coming to?!!!  One of the biggest reasons that people don’t support homeless people and contribute to them financially is because we never know they are actually using it for food.  So we choose not to give. You hear it all the time.  Are these people rewarding this guys honesty?  At least I know what he is using it for so I might as well give?  Do we not really think?  Do we not realize that supporting someone’s drug habit is also supporting them not being able to get a job?  So many places of employment do drug testing before they hire you.  Or is it that we don’t really care?  Do we value the life of that homeless person so little that we will willingly contribute to the same vices that kill so many homeless people a year and land them in prison?  A slightly more forward and aggressive, yet similar, situation would be a sign that says “trying to kill my self, need money for knife”.  Would we willingly give to that too?  The situations aren’t so dissimilar that you can’t draw a parallel.

Some may say, what do you care?  It’s their life, if that what makes them happy, who are you to tell them they can’t?  I take so many issues to that mindset.  I had an uncle that died from alcohol abuse, he literally drank himself to death.  If that is what made him happy, should I have bought him a six pack of his favorite brew?  No, because I care too much.  Sorry not sorry.  That’s who I am.  I value human life.  Take that however you want to.  It is what it is.  I can’t support something that is completely damaging  someone no matter how “good” it is making them feel.

318049_4829130721938_2114467046_n

There is some hope in this video.  The homeless woman showed so much humility and generosity.  She didn’t have any money to her name, only what she had on hand, yet she gave it anyway.  It’s this type of selflessness that I hope to instill in my child.  I wish I had a heart as big as this woman.  Something tugged on that woman’s heartstrings that day.  She valued human life.  She knew in her heart of hearts that she would be ok, she would live at least another day, but she couldn’t say that for the man and his daughter.  So she gave all she had.  To her, everyone needs love.  She gave them so much more than money, she gave them love.

I want my daughter to be the kind of person that puts others before herself.  I want her to be the person that if an opportunity knocks to better someone else’s day or even their life, that she would take it.  I want her to not be afraid to stand up for what she believes.  I want her to be confident, strong, and loving to everyone.  I want her to know that you can disagree with someone and still love them.  I want her to be the best person she can be.  I want her to value the life of others.  Her heart is so big and full of love and I can’t wait to see what it can do in the future.  She has to still go on dates with me of course.  Now that’s just a given.

image1 (6)

Spartan Heart – Through The Eyes Of A Child

Shortly after my daughter was born, she was diagnosed with Amblyopia, or a lazy eye.  To most people, it’s not noticeable.  At least not until I point it out.  When she looks at you, it takes a little longer for her bad eye to focus.  Most people wouldn’t know she is almost legally blind in that eye.  She never lets it stop her.  She has finished two Spartan Kids Races at four and half years old.  Fast forward to when she was three, the specialist eye doctor told her that she needed to wear a patch over her good eye.  This would force her to use the muscles in her bad eye, strengthening it.  With enough persistence, her bad eye may become strong enough that she won’t even need glasses.  The problem was, she hated wearing her patch.  Her bad eye was so bad, she couldn’t see anything.  It was pitiful watching her bump into things as she walked around the house.   Fast forward again.  Two weeks ago, the eye doctor said that surgery wasn’t an option anymore.  She HAD to wear a patch.  Not only did she have to wear the patch, she has to wear it for at least six hours a day for the next year.  If she doesn’t, she may eventually go blind in that eye.  The deterioration of the one eye could lead to the deterioration of the other, causing her to go legally blind. The doctor had a sit-down with her and explained the importance of wearing her patch.  This was reiterated by her mom, and again by me when I got home from work.  I explained to her that if she didn’t wear her patch, she might not be able to see things anymore.  If she can’t see things, she might not be able to do some things that she was excited about doing when she got older, like driving a car. I was very careful not to tell her things she can’t do.  I don’t ever want my child to think that she can’t do things just because she has a disability so I was very careful.  However, some things, like driving, are just a reality.  I sat down with her and explained that wearing a patch is a lot like working out.  She understood this because she loves Spartan Races and she loves to go down in the basement and work out with me.  I explained that whenever she wears her patch, it makes her bad eye work out.  The more her eye works out, the stronger it gets, just like when you exercise.  I guess something in her head clicked, and she understood.  She wears her patch on a daily basis.  Yesterday, we were out of patches, so we had to stop at the store and get some more.  They didn’t have any patches with the fun kid designs, they only had the plain jane flesh-colored ones.  She was upset that she didn’t have a pretty patch.  So I told her I would make her an awesome patch, a spartan patch!  A couple of minutes later, this is what I came up with:

image

She loved it.  She calls her bad eye her “spartan eye” because it keeps getting stronger and spartans are strong.  So naturally, I thought this was adorable, so I posted this same picture on the Spartan Parents Facebook page.  One mother saw Jocelyn’s picture and commented that she had a 6 year old daughter who had optic nerve hypoplasia and she struggled with her patch too.  She said that she hopes I didn’t mind if she showed the picture of Jocelyn to her daughter because her daughter felt “different” and seeing her would mean a lot to her.  So of course I said, ABSOLUTELY, DO IT!  I immediately told Jocelyn this story.  I told her:  There was a mommy of a little girl named Addison that saw your picture.  Addison has to wear a patch too because she has a bad eye.  Her mommy wants to show her your picture so she can see that wearing a patch can be cool and that she doesn’t have to be scared or afraid to wear one. Because you are being so good and wearing YOUR patch, you are helping her wear HER patch so her bad eye can get stronger too!!! 

Jocelyn thought that was the coolest thing.  Then Jocelyn showed her spartan heart.  She asked me, “Can I make a video for Addison so I can tell her to wear her patch so her eye can get stronger like mine?”  My heart melted.  I asked her what she wanted to tell her.  I only wanted her to tell me so that she could practice what she was going to say in the video.  I pressed record and I heard, “ummmmm….” with a really long pause.  I said, “it’s ok, don’t be nervous, just talk to Addison and tell her what you were telling me. I’ll start over and we can try again.”  So I pressed record again.  This was the result.

I couldn’t have been more proud as a dad.  I couldn’t wait to send this video.  Just when you think this story is over and couldn’t be more mushy.  There’s more.  As I opened up my phone to send the video, I got a message back from Addison’s mom.  This is what it said:

I couldn’t get the video to download when I just got Addison off the bus, and she just went to a birthday party.  But I told her about Jocelyn and that the video would be waiting for her, and you should have seen her face light up.  I showed her the picture you posted and she said “that girl sees differently too! She’s sooo pretty! And a spartan!” LOL.  She said she wants to make a return video too, so when she’s home in a few hours we will 🙂 “

I teared up.  Here I am, reading this little message with tears streaming down my face. Not because of anything I did, but because of how proud I was of Jocelyn.  Yes, my daughter has a bad eye, but she has the most awesome heart in the world.  Nobody wants to feel alone.  Today, she made Addison’s day, all by herself, just by being her.  She showed her that she is not alone and it’s ok.

This morning Addison sent a return video to Jocelyn.  She was so happy to see Addison.  She keeps watching it over and over.

I don’t know what anyone who reads this is dealing with.  Maybe someone reading this is dealing with a disability, or a difficult situation, or struggling emotionally somehow.  Jocelyn and Addison showed me today that your situation doesn’t have to define you.  You can define your situation.  As adults, it’s easy to feel down on ourselves because things aren’t going the way we’d like.  You never know who you might help along the way when you help yourself.  Your difficulty could become your biggest testimony.

Please share this post and follow this blog for the newest posts from Spartan Daddy.

Why Do Men Work Out? The REAL Answer

I tried explaining this to my wife and she just couldn’t understand.  Maybe you have to be a guy to understand this.  I want to explore the answer to the question, “why do men work out?”  I’m not interested in a surface-y type of answer.  Deep, deep down, why do men work out?  Here are my thoughts.

Way back in the days of the creation of man, the inner workings of the brain, the conglomeration of synapses to what makes men tick began to take shape.  Back in those days, it was man vs man. Man vs. beast.  Man vs everything.  Men were the providers, the top dog, and the protectors.  I think that some of these attributes carry over today.  What man doesn’t want to be alpha?  Maybe you aren’t alpha of the world, but maybe you are alpha of your own little group.  Guys want to be the best at something, They just do.  Deal with it.  If you ask a guy, “why do you work out?”  You’ll probably get a multitude of answers.  “I DO IT FOR ME!”  Yes, that’s true, but why? Really, why? There is the ever so popular, “because I want to look good naked”.  There’s “to pick up chicks bro (high fives any guy within five feet).”  Then there’s the “I’m in training for ___________.”  There’s also “ummm crossfit….because crossfit.”  I can say that because I love crossfit.  But the answer to the perplexing question goes much deeper than this. The answer lies in how we compare ourselves to others.

Let’s talk a walk down hypothetical lane.  Me and my buddy walk into a gas station in a strange town.  We walk in, I make my way over to check if they stock Cheerwine, they don’t, so I grab the Muscle Milk in chocolate because it tastes amazing and I need my protein fix.  I’m parched, so I make my way up to the line.  As I walk up, I wait for my buddy to meet up with me because that’s the polite thing to do.  As I’m standing there, I notice a dude looking at me with a stank eye.  I glance over my shoulder because I’m sure he wasn’t looking at me, I didn’t even do anything.  But there is no one behind me.  So two thoughts enter my mind.  The first thought is “can I take this guy?”  Now before everyone jumps on me with the whole “why does everything have to be so violent with guys?!”  Hear me out.  There are a million scenarios on why this guy could be looking at me.  There are 999,998 in which he doesn’t want to fight me.  I’m not concerned about those. I don’t get hurt in those.  I’m concerned about the scenario in which he wants to fight me.  So why do I work out?  I need to make sure that if that scenario ever happens, I can take this guy.  I size this guy up in my mind in a matter of 0.2 seconds.  In the female world, this equates to the 0.2 seconds leading up to “is my butt smaller than hers?”  I can then come to the conclusion that a) I can take this guy, or b) I can’t take this guy.  Now I’m sure you noticed by now that I said 999,998 but I only mentioned one scenario.  The other scenario is that he doesn’t want to fight me, he wants to fight my friend.  Why? I don’t know.  Maybe my buddy looked at him funny in the parking lot.  It’s irrelevant.  If this scenario is true, the thought process is a little different.  You still have to consider if you can take this guy.  You don’t want to be the guy who runs away like a little girl while his buddy gets randomly attacked in a shady gas station.  But let’s say he wants to attack BOTH of you….with four of his friends.  Now it is not a matter of “can I take them?”  It is now a matter of “can I outrun my buddy?”  This is quite possibly life and death.  Of course this scenario only happens if your friend decides to run too.  If he doesn’t run and wants to fight, well, looks like I’m getting hurt today. Let me summarize – “can i take him?” “can I outrun you?”

Maybe this is all satirical.  Maybe this is scientific fact based on years of study. I am a psychology major after all.  Maybe we will never know.  One thing is for sure, you’ll laugh the next time you see two dudes look at each other at a gas station. AROO!

image1 (3)

P.S. This is my best “Fight Club” looking pic

How Fear Can Change Your Life

Today, I welcome Anthony Sloan as my first ever guest blogger.  I’ve been wanting to do a guest blogger for a while and I knew Anthony would be perfect for the job.  A couple of months ago when I was going through a rough spot in my life, I came across a Facebook page that Anthony belongs to called the Curahee.  Every now and then a video would pop up on my news feed and I’d watch it.  Slowly, the shell that I had been building around me began to break.  This was a man that was changing me and we had never interacted even once.  I’ve had numerous conversations since then with Anthony, both online and on the phone.  We both have this weird connection that somehow we were meant to be friends and our families will be super close one day. So thank you Anthony for being the man that you are working so hard to be.  We aren’t there yet brother, but we will die trying.  Without further ado, I give you….Anthony Sloan.

How Fear Can Change Your Life – Anthony Sloan

In 2005 I found myself In the middle of Afghanistan. My wife was eight months pregnant when our Unit left, so in our first month there, she gave birth to my daughter Brianna. Our deployment there was supposed to be 6 months long. Now if you’ve been to Afghanistan you know that they love to fight – and die. So every time that we went outside of the FOB (Forward Observation Base) on mission, we would get into a firefight. The first firefight I was in after my daughter was born, I felt something that I had never felt before. I was afraid! I know most of you are reading this right now and thinking ‘he’s been afraid before’. This was a different kind of fear! I was afraid I would never make it home to see my wife, to never even get the opportunity to see my daughters face. and to never get the opportunity to kiss her little cheeks. This fear was like something I’ve never felt before.  So in that moment I had two different ways I could’ve reacted, I could’ve froze and did nothing, or return fire and fight for my life.

100_1888

I believe men and women have to face fear at least once in their life. Maybe it’s not the fear of death, like I had to face; maybe it’s the fear of growing. You see we go to school and learn for so many years only to become adults and forget that we are supposed to keep pushing ourselves and growing as human beings. Most of us will spend a lifetime standing still and watching the opportunity pass us by. That day in Afghanistan I had a choice to live or die, to freeze up out of fear or fight like my life depended on it, cause it did!

So how can fear, growing and learning all tie together?

You see as Fathers and Mothers we have to grow daily, pushing ourselves to learn something new and forget the fear of trying! Just the fear of trying alone can kill you. It will make you freeze up in life and instead of doing something, you will stand by and watch life pass you by. Then one day you will be old and gray and the only thing you will be able to remember is what you didn’t do when you should have done it. The moment that would have gave you the perfect job, but you didn’t do anything to get it because it interfered with your current job.  How about that moment where you could have been a better father or husband?  Instead you failed by spending all of your time at work making money, instead of at home spending time being the father and husband that your family wanted you to be.  Your growth just doesn’t affect YOU anymore. What you do affects everyone around you. More importantly it affects the children that you have or the ones you will have someday.

I got out of the military in 2011 and I found myself in a world I didn’t recognize anymore. It wasn’t so much the world had changed, but more that I had changed. I didn’t feel like I belonged in an environment other than war anymore. Then I got around people and realized that they live everyday like the day before. They go to the same job and do the same thing every single day.  Technically they don’t have to really grow. Now I was in the same boat and instead of growing, I slowly slipped deeper and deeper into depression. My PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) started to slowly eat away at my head. I started to believe the lies in my head that I didn’t belong, that my life should have been taken away in another country, and that my family would have been better off with the $400,000 life insurance policy than to have me in their life.  I was hurting so bad and it caused me to start pushing my family away because I couldn’t explain to them what was going on in my head. I was still praying, I was begging God to take these thoughts from me.  Then I believe God answered my prayers and my wife changed our lives forever.

Jennifer wanted to lose her baby weight and decided that we were going to start our own online fitness business. At this point in time I was drunk at least 90% of my day. So Jenn started fixing our nutrition, she started to shop better and made sure that I would drink my shake everyday. It was such a drastic change for my mind, body and soul. Just by switching up my nutrition I found myself being a much happier person. I had been around while my wife was making daily exercise a priority for herself. It began to make me want to do it.  After a few months of not being able to do the gym anymore due to my time at work and the hours I worked, I started to try the 30 minutes a day workout.  I began to really enjoy it and I was seeing great results come about too. Then as the time progressed, I enjoyed it more and more.  Then I started to work out with her everyday. It was always only a 30-minute exercise, and not very often was I doing weights. For a guy that grew up in the gym, in a weight room, since he was 12 years old, this was awkward for me. But then all of a sudden I started to notice I was a happier person, I was living life Instead of life taking over and being this monotonous action that I felt like I had to suffer through. Then again, I started to notice this different self-confidence. I started feeling good about who I am and started to push myself daily in my workouts. I tried to go harder than the day before. I had an image of what I wanted my body look like, so I pushed myself every single day to get there. As my self-confidence changed, I became a new father, and a new husband! I believe that our bodies want nutrition and exercise. Just think about it for a second, if your body was a machine, what would make the machine run correctly? Would it be drinking an energy drink everyday? What about eating at McDonald’s?  Would that make your body run the way it should and to the best of its abilities?

Before PICS 2014

Exercise and nutrition changed my life. Now my wife and I work out together every single day. We push each other to get better every single time that we work out together. I can honestly tell you that the key to happiness is through exercise and nutrition. That even with my brain being chemically disabled, the release of endorphins into my body saved my life. It made me a better man; it made me a better father and a better husband. Now my kids will exercise with us every single day. Just by that decision in our lives, it has developed a mental strength in us and it is being created in our kids as well.  It all started from watching us daily and that has been an unbelievable difference in everyone!

11124538_10205920236832519_1518372439_n

So let me finish with a couple questions, just to get you to meditate on your own life for a couple minutes.

Do you wake up tired everyday?

Do you find yourself wondering what could have been instead of how today has put you closer to the vision and goal you have planned for your life?

What did you do today that will change the lives of others around you?

I want to thank Gerad for the opportunity for me to write this and share my heart and life of transformations.  I also want to thank our team, Warrior Team Fitness! Warrior Team Fitness is the team Jennifer and I have developed with others having the same passion to change lives around them with daily nutrition and exercise. I love that we are changing lives for the better! Building a stronger world through 30 minutes of exercise and nutrition easily accessible because of online accountability, also giving people the opportunity to work for themselves and change lives and homes at the same time.  

Fun Kisses

Kids Say the Most Hilarious Things

I’ve been wanting to do a post on this for the longest time. Frankly, because the things my daughter says crack me up. She is hilarious. Most of the time she doesn’t mean to be. The things that come out of her mouth are so innocent, yet they are so funny. When you have a four year old, these verbal gems are plentiful. I’ll try to think back in time and play through the Jocelyn highlight reel. So here are just a few examples of her comedic innocence.

  • When I was a manager at Chick-fil-A, I walked through our local parade as one of the cows. The problem was, no one wanted to be the girl cow so I volunteered. No one could see my face anyway right? Upon finishing the parade, my daughter runs up to me…”Daddy! You were the girl cow! You are a sissy!”
  • Riding in the car on the way home from a trip, I hear flatulence rip from the back carseat. I whip around, “Jo was that you?!” Jo looks down at her stuffed animal cat and says, “No, it was the cat. (she looks at the cat sternly) I am not happy about this!”
  • Jo walks up to me and my wife and says, “Mommy, Daddy, I want a baby brudder.” Why she said brudder and not brother i’m not sure, I think she was trying to be cute. “Well we can’t just get a baby brother sweetheart.” “Yes we can. Lets just go to Toys ‘R Us and get one.”
  • We stopped at Chick-fil-A this past weekend on the way home from our Spartan Race, she looks up at the cashier and tells her we saw a bumper sticker that said “I pooped today.” She kinda mumbled through the whole bumper sticker part, so basically the cashier heard her exclaim with much joy, “I pooped today.”
  • Getting out of the shower, I was of course shirtless. I had shorts on. She looks at me and says, “Daddy, you have fake boobies, mommy has real boobies.”
  • I get home from work the other day, the first thing that Jo tells me is “Hannah (her cousin) likes the smell of poop.” First thing! No hi daddy! Nothing!
  • A couple weeks ago, I gave Jo a huge hug and being the uplifting, nourishing Dad that I am, I ask her, “How did you get to be so cute?” “Well I took some of Riley’s (her other cousin) cutes. He’s 7, he doesn’t need them anymore.” To be fair, Riley is a cute kid.
  • Getting ready to leave the house for work the other day, Jo runs out to me, “Daddy hold on! I got to give you some cutes!” So I took the fake cutes and put them down the collar of my shirt. I do that because I put them in my heart of course. She promptly corrects me. “NO!!! That was a chewy cute! You’re supposed to eat it!”
  • “Why does your daughter have a pad sticking out of her underwear?” ‘Nuff said.
  • My daughter likes to call bras “boobies.” Where she got this from, I don’t know. We will be walking through a department store and walk by the training bras in the kids department. “Look! Little boobies!”
  • At the Spartan Race this past weekend…”Daddy, why did it take you so long to run your race?” “Well because Daddy had to run up the mountain a lot of times.” “It didn’t take me that long, i’m faster than you.”
  • I’ve recently been obsessed with the One Man Thrill Ride on Youtube. If you haven’t watched his videos and are into fitness, check him out, he’s hilarious. Keep in mind, he is a personality so everything he does is very exaggerated. One of the things he does is flex his bicep and go MMMmmmmMMMMmmmmmPOW! So I started doing it when I was working out to be silly and make Jo laugh. Now Jo does it and it’s hilarious. Just ask her to show you her muscle and she flexes up that little python and yells MMMMMMMMMPOW! So we were at a family get together the other day because my cousins were supposed to be in town. You probably heard of them, they were in town because my cousins daughter was throwing out the first pitch with her robotic hand for the Orioles. It was all over the news. Anyway, we were eating lunch and Jo was eating beside my great aunt Shirley. Shirley is like 80, she’s old ok? She can barely hear anything. You tell her something and she’s like “huh?” and leans closer to hear you say it again. Well Jo was talking to her about something, I don’t remember what it was. Of course Shirley couldn’t hear her. “Huh?” So then I hear Jo ask her, “you wanna see my muscle?” Shirley, of course, says “huh?” and leans closer. MMMMMMMPPOOOOOWWWWW!!!! Scared Shirley half to death. HaHa!!!
    I’m sure I could think of a lot more. I need to start writing these down as they happen. I’m sure a lot of you have some funny stories from your kids! Feel free to share them in the comments! I’d love to read them! AROO!
    image