We are 22

For those that follow me, there are some things that I am very open about. One would be the budding ability to be open about a plethora of subjects, ranging from politics, nerd culture, to mental health. That being said, let’s talk a minute about nerd culture before diving into the meat of what I wanted to write about today.

I recently remodeled my gym and living room areas to be more centric in what I was going for with these two rooms. For my gym, I wanted a no-distraction, result driven environment for both myself and the friends that I have that use my workout room while I travel week to week in exchange for upkeeping my home and taking care of things while I’m gone. For my living room, I wanted to create a nerd getaway that the likes of Will Wheaton would be envious of. I feel like I succeeded in both of those endeavors.

Without going too far into those (that’ll be in the future), I’ll dive into the meat of this one. The current statistic provided by the LA Times is that 29.5 per 100,000 veterans commit suicide every year. The actual statistic is 22 per year. The reason for the disparity between these numbers is context for where each is coming from, though. They are both correct.

29.5 per 100,000 comes from our current world environment. That envelopes only 2009 to present day. The 22 deaths per year equates for all veterans for recordable history (which only dates to 1974, btw… and doesn’t actually account for much when you look at the larger statistics involved with this). The largest mystery behind these numbers for veterans from 2009 to present day is that the suicide rate for those that never served in a combat environment are 16 percent more than those that served in combat.

I guess at this point, there will be the question… why the hell would a Navy idiot post about suicide and depression like he knows anything at all about these topics? Valid question, and not one without understandable criticism. When I was in high school in Minnesota, I knew a guy that was a genius. I’m not saying that I THOUGHT he was a genius… he scored a 99 on his ASVAB with near perfect SAT and ACT testings. He could literally write his future to anything in life that he wanted, but he ended up joining the Air Force. Him and I lost contact with each other, but he ended up getting a DUI while serving. Due to his preconceived beliefs about the situation, he ended up ending his life in his barracks. I wish I would have kept contact with him over that time period after finding out about his death in hopes of being able to shape the outcome, but the reality is that he likely had been struggling for a long time and finally succumbed to his demons the only way that he knew how to at that moment. I’ve known others in my time while serving that chose the same route that he did, and I haven’t been the poster child of mental health myself as a result of my own mind and past consistently reminding me of where I’ve been and what I don’t deserve.

Veterans make up a staggering statistic of mental instabilities. We have a suicide rate that is over 50 percent higher than the rest of the nation, and maybe it’s time that we contemplate why and how this is happening. It could be that those that do end up taking their lives have given everything and have not received back what they have put into their careers. It could be a battle of demand of the job and the drain on their families and social lives outside. It could even be that we are raising children differently that cannot cope with the demands of a modern military fighting force (though that would negate the Vietnam and Gulf War veterans that fall victim to this statistic). I would always be open to conversation on this topic, but I encourage anyone doing so to do so respectfully. My friends that are feeling like they would be a part of this statistic, my phone is ALWAYS on. In the event that I do not answer, PLEASE call someone else, and someone after that until someone picks up. You are never alone and your life is worth living, regardless of where you have been and what you have done.


Not Really The New Years I Was Anticipating

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… HAPPY NEW YEAR! The ball dropped, everyone in the bar is hugging and kissing each other; except for me. I got an awkward side hug and an explanation that she loved our conversation that evening, but she wouldn’t want to pursue it any further. I had started the day not feeling all that great, and it turns out that I ended the day feeling pretty similar!

Those that know me know two very important things about me. 1- I’m incredibly social and love making new friends and am seldom alone when I’m out and about. 2- I wear my heart on my sleeve and tend to fall for new friends and relationships quickly and very hard, which tends to get me hurt more than anything else. So how does someone like me get an awkward hug on New Year’s Eve? Well, long story short, I fell hard for someone that did not feel the same way for me and didn’t bother to make backup plans due to how I felt about her… go team dating life! To make the situation even better… I had planned out to meet up with several people at the place I was at to celebrate, but none of them showed. Luckily, I met up with old friends and a couple of new ones, so I wasn’t completely alone and hating life haha.

I suppose that I should probably make a new year’s resolution or a promise to myself for this new year… maybe to not be so quick to fall into someone, go a few months without a beer or to work out 20 out of 30 days a month (don’t lecture me, I know that some months are 30, others are 31, and then there’s the red headed stepchild of February that we won’t talk about… I get it. Don’t remind me of the flaw in these words)… But I don’t want to make promises that I either won’t keep or will make me feel confined into a set path that then makes me more than likely to fail at my goals.

I never want to change who I am in order to meet someone that compliments who I changed into again. I’ve done that before and it ended disastrously. But I AM willing to make improvements that are personal and not made in an attempt to attract someone worthwhile that can truly appreciate me for who I am. So I suppose I have my own personal list that will be my to-do list for the new year… I’ll be finishing my Associates Degree in May and will hopefully start working towards a promotion in my new company. I think that those are great places to start for now, more to follow in the future!

Oh… and I’ll be a little more proactive with this blog. I have allowed this to fall to the sideline with how busy I’ve been with work and school starting up. I’ll make the time in the day to write again since there was so much positive feedback from when I was doing this regularly!

Workout Challenge… What Did I Get Myself Into?

As I rounded my 4th mile of the day on my stationary elliptical machine in my home gym, I really started to notice the pain in my right knee reaching a new level of discomfort as well as my still sprained ankle screaming at me to stop… telling me that it’s not worth not being a fat body anymore (Navy joke). How did I get here and why is this so important to me to keep going?

As my readers already know, I recently made a personal decision to move back to my small home town in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota. It was a difficult choice, but one that I decided to do with arms wide open. Since being home, I have reconnected with old friends, made some new ones, made a few mistakes in my love life but also ones that I’ll always remember as amazing times that were too short-lived. I also revisited a friendship that was one of my closer ones in high school and my early Navy years, as well as with her husband and her closest few friends. It was from this reunion that “The Challenge” was made, and one that I intend to see through (even if it destroys me).

Erin (the close friend), her daughters, my close friend Cody and at one point her husband were helping me to unpack my house and set things up when she made mention of wanting so badly to use my personal gym that I have. “Why not use it then? Not a big deal, just clean up after yourself,” I told her. She made mention that she didn’t feel like working out on her own would be successful and asked if I would do it with her until she got on her feet with it, and I readily agreed since I needed some motivation myself. We agreed to the following weekend after my next work trip and parted ways, excited to actually have workout partners that won’t allow the other to back down from this.

The next week on my travel, I did some light cardio every day after work was complete so that I would be prepared for the onslaught that was going to be my weekend. I knew that it was going to hurt if I didn’t prepare a little, and I also didn’t want to let my friend down since this meant a lot to her as well. 2 miles one day, 2.8 the next, up to a 5k by the end of the week… I felt like a cardio god! During this time, 2 of her friends asked to join this and make it into a group exercise challenge… I immediately agreed to this arrangement! What a better way to get into shape than a group of people pushing each other to better themselves?!

So this brings me back to the here and now as I approached 4.3 miles in 30 minutes on the elliptical prior to heading off to thanksgiving lunch/dinner/dessert/overkill. My knees are done with me, Lilly (the dog) is tired of watching me, sweat is dripping off of me into small pools on the floor from the exertion and heat of the house (I jack it up during my workouts). I quickly take a picture of the workout and send it to the group of people who are in the challenge together and immediately felt satisfaction in what I’m doing. This isn’t just for me… this is for my friends that need the push to go a little farther, to lengthen that stride, and to drop those few pounds to have the bodies that they crave in the mirror. I’m enduring this pain so that they can be proud of their results in the long run because my friends mean more to me than my own discomfort and old military injuries. It’s not been 3 weeks since I started working out, 2 since they joined me, and I’m really looking forward to a new year of possibilities!

Feel free to follow me on Facebook through my fitness and health group, where like-minded people are there to give each other motivation and support, even during difficult/trying times in their lives! https://www.facebook.com/groups/221530385218170/

Where My Travels Have Taken Me, And Why I Made The Move That I Did

So, after a complete debacle that involved a shady moving broker that represented itself as the moving company itself (and cost me WAY more than I wanted…), I said my goodbyes to my home and old roommate/close friend and got on the road for my 2 day adventure with my trusting (maybe too trusting) navigator in tow.

44065485_10156820911624382_8633094761307176960_n Here she is neglecting her duties, as usual

A full day later (and only 4 hours of sleep due to running into a snow storm in Montana and not wanting to get stuck there), we made it to our new home in Minnesota! Well, home-ish… we had to stay with my parents for a few days while I waited to close on my home that I was in the middle of purchasing. Luckily, they have a VERY comfortable bed for us to put our heads (and paws) down on! We have been in the new home for almost 2 weeks now, but are still living on an air mattress and office equipment that was bought by my company in order to keep working. HOPEFULLY will be getting my home filled this week if the delivery company delivers… hopefully…

But, this isn’t about the destination, but the journey. I have had a lot of people criticize my decision to move home to Minnesota, especially to such an out-of-the-way location such as Thief River Falls. Truth be told, staying in Washington just wasn’t something that I could keep doing anymore. The thought of potentially running into my past there filled me with such anxiety that I would have to force myself outside so I wouldn’t be a prisoner of my neighborhood and what felt comfortable at the time. Some people are able to keep moving forward in their lives after divorce, but my life seemed to sit stagnant, unable to emotionally move past, what was at that point, my past. Sure, I had dated some great women that I wasn’t ready for or vice versa, but I just couldn’t and wouldn’t move forward if I stayed there any longer, and my closest friends that knew me well enough commented on this problem on a somewhat regular basis (along with “Stop working so much”).

So I made that choice and followed through on it. I even gave up a somewhat good relationship in the process (though I wasn’t capable of seeing it as such at the time). I started looking for a new job, informed my supervisor of my intentions (which he fully supported and often tried to help me find federal employment out here so that I wouldn’t have to leave that behind), interviewed and ultimately accepted my new position. I found a beautiful house, got the offer accepted, then moved out of my home in Washington to make this a completed journey.

I made this choice to be closer to the friends and family that I cared about the most, as well as try to mend some broken ties with extended family and friends that I have lost touch with through the years for one reason or another. So far, though, I do feel a little alienated from some friends that I expected probably too much from. I think that, in my head at least, I saw moving home as this grand event and that I would have many people who would make themselves available on evenings and weekends to go out and do things with. The reality is that people have kids, jobs, lives… and I only have one of those to take my time up with. I think that I got caught up in unimportant aspects of moving home and forgot the one thing that was most important.

I moved home to find myself, not to get lost again.

Here’s a parting video of Lilly finding the car after a foggy morning walk.

New Career and Environment

For those that haven’t had the chance to see my Facebook updates, I took the hard choice of leaving Federal employment and have entered the real job world. With this choice, I am moving home to Minnesota so that I can be closer to my family members. I wanted to take a few to talk about this choice and why I decided to take this route in my already stressed life…

Leaving the Navy wasn’t an easy move for me. I was on track to make Chief Petty Officer (E-7), had an exemplary service record and knew that job inside and out, front to back, top to bottom. The problem was that I hated going to work every day, was tired of being held to higher standards than the other people who worked with and for me, and was constantly blocked from holding people to higher standards. So… I left. I left my retirement, my career, my safety net and my military family. If the choice to leave wasn’t already hard enough, I had plenty of people that felt the need to voice their opinion about my decision, often quite derogatorily and condescendingly, which really did nothing more than cement that I had made the right choice for myself. I didn’t bother with a final award, didn’t really say goodbye to anyone on my last day. Clean break. New life. Check.

I entered into the job that I really wanted… I was a federal quality assurance specialist working on submarines! I was so excited for this job that I had overlooked some of the negative aspects of it, but I see them now looking back. At the time, I had a serious drinking problem, was VERY in debt from my divorce and was overall a very toxic person to be around because of the giant chip on my shoulder and the constant hangovers. That being said, I was also working graveyard shift with someone who I didn’t get along with at all. This guy had been caught by multiple people in our office looking at nudity on government computers, was confrontational, and often would negate other coworker’s work and sign it off without any further discussion. One night, he threatened me with violence and I didn’t back down or away from him. I really hoped he would swing just once so I had a reason to finally beat him down for all the crap he had put me through in that office. I reported the situation the next day and was merely moved to another shift to work under someone that I actually respected and worked well with… so I kind of felt like I won on that one. He was later investigated for his computer usage and what not, but nothing really ever came of it that I know of (nor do I really care anymore).

I ended up leaving that job for a promotion at another facility. I really loved that office and I got to work with my close friend there. But the more that I loved my job and the income, the less I enjoyed the area I was living in and the people around me other than my closest friends. I went home over the summer and made the decision that it was time to move back to the Midwest. My boss and his boss completely supported and even helped me with making the necessary changes to move, which was completely unexpected after my previous office’s reaction to anyone moving onto better things.

I started with Flow International as a field service engineer a little over a month ago and I so far really enjoy the work! It’s challenging when you’re in the field, and it’s never the same day-to-day for what you experience. I make a decent enough living to be comfortable and get to bank my travel rewards for later use, so a pretty big win in my eyes. I’m also pretty much treated like an adult by this company and am never micro managed, which was something that I hated about federal employment. I really do think that this is still a job that I am growing into, but I am overall enjoying this change in pace!

Feel free to follow me on Facebook through my fitness and health group, where like-minded people are there to give each other motivation and support, even during difficult/trying times in their lives! https://www.facebook.com/groups/221530385218170/

Moving Day, Literally and Figuratively

“It’s a wise man who understands that every day is a new beginning, because boy, how many mistakes do you make in a day? I don’t know about you, but I make plenty. You can’t turn the clock back, so you have to look ahead.” -Mel Gibson

It’s no secret… I am moving. SURPRISE! At least to anyone that doesn’t keep up with my chaotic (at best) life. So… Moving day is fast approaching, and it’s time to do what anyone else would do at this point; go through all of my belongings and give away/throw away anything that I don’t need anymore. This is a double-edged sword, of course. On one side, I am getting rid of unneeded or unused items to make room in the moving truck and lower the weight of my move. On the other side, I have to go through some boxes that I haven’t touched since my divorce.

At this point, some of you are just thinking to yourselves, “For the love of god, Don… grow up and deal with this already!”… and I am. At least I’m trying to. It goes without saying that it’s not easy to move forward when your mind is stuck on things that will never be answered. That really sticks with me on a day-to-day basis, especially when it comes to me wanting to get into better shape that I currently am. I can make leaps and strides, just to have it railroaded by a week of self-doubt and loathing that I can’t control. Luckily, I have family and friends to fall back on for these moments, but I am also not one to burden my pain onto others if I can avoid it!

That being said… I just survived the toxic gas leak in my home. It was absolutely atrocious and caustic, probably took the paint off of the walls in some places, but I was able to find the source and deal with it. Her name is Lily, and she is a boxer… and yes, her farts will murder small children.

This move is necessary, and I know that there are some really good things coming my way that will make my pain worthwhile in the long run. It’s just getting there and having to go back to open some of these old wounds is a bit daunting at times and I have found that no amount of whiskey or talking can prepare or save you from it. You just have to put your big boy (or girl) pants on and deal with it as it comes… the whiskey is for internal disinfectant! I have one other writing that I will be posting during my travels back across country, but I will also be finding a good place to finally depart with my wedding rings (yes, I have 2 of them… one was active wear and the other was metal) in the best and least ceremonious way possible. Comments and suggestions are welcome in this regard, but I won’t be tossing them into a volcano like a Hobbit!

Feel free to follow me on Facebook through my fitness and health group, where like-minded people are there to give each other motivation and support, even during difficult/trying times in their lives! https://www.facebook.com/groups/221530385218170/


This Could Be Why I Have Trust Issues..

What a month this has been! I’ve been so busy with life that I completely neglected this page, but I suppose that there is no better time like the present to get back into the swing of things! And I’m sure that some people are very curious to ask, “What has kept you so busy?”

Well, it all started with trusting someone who didn’t deserve that trust. Mind you, this was months ago, but the feeling of betrayal associated with this as well as the utter embarrassment for allowing myself to be this stupid really affected me for a while after the fact, which encouraged me to take a little time away from life and social media to relax and mentally recuperate from the event. It had started innocently enough with a girl that I used to really like messaging me to reconnect. I was ecstatic at her sudden interest, and conversation with her flowed well for about a week and a half, even with plans to go out on a date with her!

Those that know me know that I, 1- Fall hard for someone when I do and 2- Don’t always listen to reason when this happens. That being said, she mentioned a financial hardship associated with her ex boyfriend and was begging for a small loan to get out of from between the rock and the hard place that she had gotten into. I was a little hesitant, but I ended up loaning her the money after being pressured pretty hard by her sweetness. Afterwards, she stopped talking to me for a while, which really told me everything that I needed to know to start with, but I decided to look into her a little more to find out what was going on. Turned out, she had a long-term boyfriend that she was hiding online so that she could con money out of me at the time.

I felt betrayed and hurt because I had opened up to yet another person that intended just to use me for their own personal gain! I didn’t discuss this knowledge with her, of course, but instead insisted that she sign a payment plan with me so that we were both on equal footing with the loan that I had given to her. She did not want to sign it, and accused me of being an insensitive jerk for asking for this. After going back and forth for about a week about this, I informed her that if she refused to sign it, I would be forced to discuss this situation with her boyfriend since she had lied to me and was going behind his back for her own personal gain. She was very quick to pay back my money at this point, as well as remove me from her social media, and also made me promise to not inform her boyfriend of this because he was “going through a rough time”. I told her to never speak to me again and have since left it at that.

This happened a few months ago, as I had said above, but the damage emotionally that I feel from it persists still. I can’t help but feel that if I am attracted to a woman, that her only thoughts that she could possibly have towards me is only what she can get out of the interaction with me for herself. I realize that I have a history of attracting this kind of woman to me, and I often wonder what I can do in my life to prevent this from happening again in the future (short of staying off social media from now on and never messaging back to women that I’m attracted to unless it’s someone I hang out with regularly). I would love to think that I can have a loving and caring relationship with someone, but then I have interactions like this that really make me question it. I do kind of hope that she reads this so that she can see that she is an untrustworthy human being and that it will eventually catch up with her, but on the same token, I hope that she gets through this stage in her life so that she can have a healthy and happy relationship with someone.

Feel free to follow me on Facebook through my fitness and health group, where like-minded people are there to give each other motivation and support, even during difficult/trying times in their lives! https://www.facebook.com/groups/221530385218170/

Kneecapping? Na… take out his ankle!

So there I was… fresh and clean out of the shower and ready to take on the world (or my pillow, let’s be honest here)… when I noticed on the wall a giant, 14 legged, venom dripping spider lurking on the wall! “I’m going to eat you, my precious,” it said very Gollum-y to me. “Not today, creep!” I declared! Let’s be honest here… you either kill it, or you’ll have to burn the house down! So I climbed onto the sink and braced myself against the wall for support. This would be an EXCELLENT time to mention that I recently got my cast off of my right wrist… you know, the wrist that I decided to support myself on the wall with… the wrist that still can’t support my entire body weight just yet (Okay, you get the picture here). I quickly kill the spider while contracting in pain in my wrist from too much weight on it, falling from the sink and landing on the jeans that I haphazardly left on the bathroom floor. My ankle made 3 distinct popping sounds and I screamed in horrible pain!

Until this year, I’ve never broken anything, but I’m making up for it in due time! So I start calling around to my neighbors trying to find a ride to the emergency room (mind you, it’s 11pm…) to no avail, and I hastily decide to hobble myself into the car and drive there. I’ve had much worse decisions in life, I promise you! The entire time that I’m in the doctor’s office, I’m sweating bullets, fearing that my ankle is broken and I will need to postpone my new job weeks (if not months!). The doctor comes in with the good news.. bad sprain and I’ll just need plenty of bed rest and elevation to get on my feet again in no time!

I spent the remainder of the week with my ankle propped up on pillows, laying in bed and playing World of Warcraft. Which, honestly, was perfect timing for this to happen because the new expansion had just been released. Don’t judge me, I already judge myself worse than you will! It’s been nearly a week now since I fell and I have gotten a lot of my mobility back, although it does hurt to move it too much. I’m just going to keep taking it easy other than necessary work and cleaning around the house until I start my new job in a few weeks!

Feel free to follow me on Facebook through my fitness and health group, where like-minded people are there to give each other motivation and support, even during difficult/trying times in their lives! https://www.facebook.com/groups/221530385218170/

Life of the Party With Kidney Stones!

I’m sure that you, at some point in your life, have heard people talking at work or school about how “so and so” called in sick because they were passing a kidney stone. You probably thought to yourself, “What a woos! Those things are small and they are just being a baby about this!”. Let me be the first to tell you that those spiky little rocks conjured up by Satan alone are the most pain I have ever been through, and I’ve incurred my fair share of injuries and illnesses in my lifetime!

I started this journey when I was on deployment and got excessively dehydrated while working in our Engine room on a submarine (it was often hot boxed at around 110 degrees with no relief anywhere in sight). Normal human beings would just drink more water, but Submariners don’t have the luxury of places to relieve ourselves during our 6 hours standing the watch, which coupled with only 12 hours after watch to do all of your maintenance, studying, collateral duties etc., you tend to not live up to the definition of a well hydrated individual! So, there I was doubled over in pain in the Doc’s office, screaming bloody murder about things that can’t be described here without a mature label being slapped onto my blog, when he pricks me with a needle in my lower back out of nowhere! I was stunned at first! As I’m about to yell (ask politely) what he just did, all of the pain was gone… I was feeling amazing! Unfortunately, I was unable to pass this stone within the time that makes home port medical comfortable, so I was taken off the boat and brought home until I could pass it on my own.

Fast-forward 9 years later and I have had about 1 stone episode a year (on average), with some years having none at all. What was the cause of those years without stones? I wasn’t actively losing weight. It would figure that the one thing that is good for you is also bad for your body if done in the wrong ways. It’s proven that obesity and extreme weight loss strategies put you at risk of kidney stones by the National Kidney Foundation (1). High-protein, low-carb diets can cause uric acid buildup due to excessive protein! Well dang… if I would have known that almost a decade ago, I would have been a lot more vigilant in preventing these from starting!

My situation is a bit extreme due to the frequency that I can get them now as a result of prior episodes, but it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to you if you don’t take precautions! If you are worried about your diet potentially causing these prickly urine cacti, talk to your doctor or nutritionist to make recommendation on what you can do to prevent them. It would be better to be safe than royally hating everything about your left or right side for a couple of weeks a year!

I hope that you enjoyed reading my discussion on risks of kidney stones during weight loss! Please follow my blog here as well as my Facebook group linked below for further content!




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