Exit The Darkness


Robin_Williams-EsquireToday I am sad. Robin Williams reportedly took his own life. The sadness comes from many different places. First there is the fact that today the world lost a great actor and one of my all time favorite comedians. Second is the selfish desire to see him in more movies, movies that now will never be made. Third and most importantly, another person lost to the world because the fight against depression was too much to handle.

I have lived in the darkness that depression creates. I have wondered about easy ways out, and wished for some sort of magic to take it away. Unlike many, I was able to exit that darkness. It is still there. Sometimes it creeps up on me when I least expect it, but I am fortunate that I was able to find things that helped to turn the lights back on. This, what I am doing right now, is the single biggest of these things. I write. My thoughts and feelings are able to be purged in a way when I place them into written form. They are not gone. Like the darkness they are always there, but the ability to look at them and see them for what they are is important to me. Most of my darkness stems from loss. I have lost loved ones, some in tragic ways, and that leaves a hole in me that can not be filled. But I learned to express those thoughts here in this blog. Although I have not really had suicidal thoughts, I do think that writing saved my life. It allowed me to exit some of the darkness, and only then, in the light was I able to see what great things I still had going for me.

I know some of this just seems like I am rambling, but the fact is that Robin Williams could not find his light switch. The darkness overcame him and he felt there was no way out. This happens to so many. Rich, poor, popular, ostracized, white, black, christian, atheist, and any other type of person you want to list. They all have these demons inside telling them that for whatever reason they are not good enough, funny enough, rich enough, handsome enough. The problem is that many don’t get the chance to realize that it really doesn’t matter. You don’t have to live in a state of sadness unless you want to. I have this disease. I don’t take pills, though they do help some people, and I don’t see a shrink. I write. I hug my kids. When I am really down, I think of simple things. I think of the fact that my kids would not exist if I had let the demons win. How can I know what the world would miss if I lost now?

There are other ways. Reach out to the ones you love. Don’t think they will help? Then reach out to a shrink. Hate shrinks? Ask a priest, or anyone that might listen. If none of these, for whatever reason, are an option for you, then reach out within yourself. Sit down and write all of the things that make you sad on a piece of paper. Then on another piece write all the things you love or enjoy. Post the list of loves on your fridge and read it to yourself every day. Take the piece with the problems and burn it. It really is that easy. Convince yourself that the depression is nothing more than a list of crap you don’t want to read. Remind yourself every single day that there are things you would miss if you were gone. If none of this works, message me. I don’t know you and therefore can/will not judge you. I will talk to you until we find your light switch, because we all need to exit the dark. We all need to bask in the light, and there is NO problem so big that ending your life is worth it.

I still struggle. I have issues sleeping, I get into bad moods and I wonder why the world treats good people so bad. The thing that is different now, is that I recognize that the things that get me down are trivial. They don’t matter as much as I once believed they did. I am free from fear now because I convinced myself to be happy.

Rest in peace Mr Williams. You brought so much joy and laughter to so many. I hope you have found the peace you were looking for. I wish I could have helped you find your light…images

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Inspiration


Esja is in the back crawling under the barbed wire through the mud like a champ!

Esja is in the back crawling under the barbed wire through the mud like a champ!

I have never seen or experienced anything in my life that has me as inspired as my wifes actions this past weekend. Please allow me to  explain:

Last year we did a fundraiser that culminated in running the Spartan Sprint race on team “Running 4 J”, in Washington state. Never having done anything like this before my wife and I were both nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. We both pushed our nerves aside and joined because it was not for us. It was for my brother Jason who we lost a short time before the race due to the negligence of the cruise industry and Holland America Cruise Lines.

Upon entering we both had some anxiety, but I was not to bad off since I am former military and figured that although out of shape, I could tackle whatever they threw at me. Esja however felt different. She had never done anything remotely close to this and was very nervous. As we negotiated the course, I helped her over the walls, and through the many tough obstacles. She completed the event and was very proud of herself, rightly so!

The next day we signed up for the next one. That took place last saturday. I was now feeling comfortable since I knew what to expect and am in better shape than I was last year. Esja however still had that anxiety and was fearful going in that she had not worked hard enough. The race began and we climbed the opening hill. That hill is a beast and does a great deal of wearing you out right out the gate.

After that first hill came a set of walls. The same ones I had helped her with last year. I sprinted up to the wall, knelt down and pressed my knee against it so she could use me as stairs to get over the wall. I looked up and there she was, effortlessly flying over the first wall all on her own. I stood up in time to see her fly over the next slightly higher wall. I hopped over these walls and watched in shock as she took on the next two like they were nothing.

At the end of the walls she stopped, turned to me and screamed, “I did it without any help!” and the look of well deserved pride beamed from her face. The rest of the race was the same. obstacle after obstacle that I had helped her with last year was nothing but a task to be completed as she dominated them all.

In one year I went from telling her that the third time we did the race I was going to leave her on her own so I could try for a better time, to thinking, I need to work harder or she will leave ME in the dust. My wife is pure Spartan! She is proof that if you work hard you can do anything! She showed me that there is no limit to what you can do. The pride I feel for her is intense. The pride she should feel for herself should be spread to the world. The lesson she tought me is one every person on this planet could benefit from.

I don’t know when or where the next Spartan we will compete in is, but I do know that I have no intention of leaving her behind. I only hope I can keep up!

Do Business Owners Have To Cater To Everyone?


HDAs I often do, I posted on my Facebook page looking for interesting things to write about. Once again my friends did not disappoint. I had suggestions from “butt lice” (thanks Ian…) to debates on whether or not to have our kids share. Although the butt lice one could cater to my funny bone, and the sharing one intrigues me, my friend Joy mentioned an article she had read and the conversation that followed reading it. This is what I am going to write about.

The article found at this link: http://www.kcra.com/monterey-wharf-restaurant-posts-no-loud-kids-sign/27213584#!brqw4F is about a restaurant that has made the decision to not allow loud children. Now to be honest, what they have done is made it difficult for any children, but they are allowed as long as they keep the volume down and the behaviour good.

Many people are upset about it. They feel that it is wrong for them to take a stand against children in the restaurant. I however disagree. I think that if the owner of an establishment wants to make a decision like this, that is within their rights. I feel the same way about many things like this, not just children. I think if they want to allow smoking it should be allowed. The government disagrees and decided to step in on this, but that still doesn’t make it right. I believe that if they want no hats that is okay, no gum? Fine. The point is that it is owned by them, not by the consumers. The customers have the same rights. Don’t like those rules? Don’t go there. It is pure and simple.

I am confused as to why anyone should believe that a privately owned business should have to cater to everyone. What about strip clubs?  Should kids be allowed there? My favorite bar, The Gallon House, DOES allow kids until a certain hour, and I hate it. I want to go to a bar and watch the game. I want to cuss at the officials and have fun with my friends. This is not possible because there are children there. That doesn’t change the fact that they have every right to allow them. It is MY job to follow THEIR rules. I am just happy to have a place to go with great people, good beer on tap, and several televisions to watch my games! Would I be even happier if there were no kids? Yes. I could let my proverbial hair down a bit more (I have no real hair left), but going or not is my choice. The rules are not.

I get tired of people claiming that they have a right to make a decision for a company they don’t even work for let alone own. If you do not like the policy, don’t go. If enough of you stop going, maybe they will change that policy. If not, leave it be. Obviously there were enough people who liked it to keep them running.

I have taken my kids to The Gallon House for lunch. If kids were not allowed, I would have taken them somewhere else. That’s it. That is as far as the problem solving needs to go. So to all of you who want to further limit the rights of business owners, I ask a favor. Step down from your high horse and go somewhere else. I am worn out from reading articles such as this where “Americans” try to further strip other Americans of their freedoms and rights.

Please feel free to comment on whether you agree or disagree, and why you all feel the way you do! Thanks Joy for this topic.

Mr Rappe’ Returns To Washington


10527310_10152520142852649_1073498729259724079_nWhat an unbeilevable week!

Last friday I got on a plane and flew for the second time to Washington D.C. There was a hearing on cruise crime that I attended and it was an unreal experience that capped off a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with my brother Ross and my dad Dana.

We left Portland late friday night and arrived in Washington Saturday morning. The next several days were spent doing tours around the city and taking in the vast history that Washington D.C. has provided our country. We saw the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetary, The Vietnam Memorial, Fords Theatre, and more than a dozen other historical sights. We also walked through many of the Smithsonian museums. I love my family, my country, and history. To spend 4 days enjoying all three was a dream come true!

On wednesday we arrived at the Russel Senate building for the cruise hearing. Once we entered and were seated there was a vote that took place on five seperate senate bills and to witness first hand how this is done was an unexpected treat. After the vote the hearing began. Members of ICV as well as a few other cruise victims testified about the outrageous treatment they underwent during thier “dream vacations.” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Commity on Commerce, Science, and Transportation stated that he is “fed up” with the misstreatment and uncaring attitude that is shown by the industry towards passengers and thier rights.

After the hearing the Senator was kind enough to stick around and I was able to speak directly with him. I told him about Jason and was impressed with the intensity that he showed as he listened, and shook his head in disgust at the fact that these stories happen again and again. When I told him that my brother, father and myself had flown from Oregon to attend he stopped and announced to the room, “Did you all hear that? Their own money for three of them to travel across the country to attend. That is a sign to show how important this is to people and how important it is that we get this done!”

I truly believe that we will win and this legislation will pass! I was also impressed with the passion shown by Sen Richard Blumenthol of Connecticut. He is co sponsoring our bill, and I have a great deal of hope that once Sen. Rockefeller retires he will carry the torch and continue to help us move forward in making change!

I need to thank many people. All of you who helped with side jobs and donations so that I could attend. Thank you!

The Gallon House bar in Silverton Oregon. Your compassion and willingness to jump in and help is amazing. Thank you for doing the raffle to help get me to DC!

My dad and brother. I love you both, and was so glad to be able to spend this time with you guys. It is the love that I have for you guys and Jason that drives me in what I am trying to do, and it is also why I will NOT fail!

My wife and kids. Thank you for allowing me to jump on a plane on short notice and fight for what I believe in. Your understanding and support is very important. I know you don’t like me being gone, but none of you ever make me feel like I am not doing what needs to be done and love you all!

There are others, so many others, that have supported me in different ways. My cousins Sean, Tim, Wendy, and Quinn who always leave me encouraging comments and share the information that I put out there. My friends who do the same. Losing Jason is a horrible and tragic thing, but together we are making it right. We are going to change this industry 4J.10569040_10152520096517649_2340396300291559298_n

 

Always By My Side


As a young child it was play time and bike lessons

as a teenager it was it was 4 wheeling and parties

as a young adult it was carpentry lessons and watching football

he was always by my side

Me and the best big brother ever 1976ish

Me and the best big brother ever 1976ish

as a carpenter he was my mentor

as a friend he was my closest

as a man he was second to none

he was always by my side

Jason and I on my 28th birthday.

Jason and I on my 28th birthday.

with his death he became a mystery

with the mystery I gained a mission

in my mission I will prevail

because I have no doubt that he is still, and will always be, by my side

I finished. Can you?

I finished. Can you?

 

10 Year Miracle:How The Other Half Lives


10462740_913137818703191_7582204443527864102_nYesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of Esja and I getting married. We sent the boys off for a sleep over at their friend’s house, and set about our 3rd date in 8 years. That is when the world changed and the lights came on. Doors opened and angels began to sing. We were not prepared for what was about to happen!

Many years ago on Saturday Night Live there was a skit with Eddie Murphy called Mr. White. It was a spoof on “the white world and the black world”. Eddie went undercover as a white man to find out how they lived when there were no black folk around. I have a link posted at the end of this post to the clip and it is well worth a watch. What he found was that white people gave things to one another for free when there were no black people around. It was a world he never knew existed and the skit is really funny. Yesterday Esja and I discovered that the same is true of people with and without kids!

We go to Olive Garden on a semi regular basis as it is one of my wifes favorite places to eat. We usually spend a great deal of time waiting for bread sticks and the food takes forever to arrive. We now know that this is because of our children. Last night we entered and were told there was a 35 minute wait for a table. Just as we were resigning ourselves to the long wait, we noticed the bar! There was a large room with chairs and tables and booze set aside only for people without children! It did not take long for us to decide that we would enter this world, if only for one night! Grabbing two seats at the bar a man walked quickly in our direction. We assumed he was going to ask us to leave because we were parents, but it seems without the children in tow, he didn’t realize it! Instead he asked if we would like a drink. We ordered and received them within seconds. Already floating on cloud 9 we ordered our meals. Our soup, salad and bread sticks arrived within 3-4 minutes. I plowed my way through the soup and bread sticks and asked for more. 1 minute later there they were. Hot and delicious. Before they were gone our dinner arrived. I looked at my watch and made a note that the people in line for a table in front of us (they had children) were still waiting to be seated, and here we were, stuffing our faces with our main course!

After the meal they asked what I wanted for desert, since it came with the meal I ordered. I told them, and then they asked my wife. She politely said “mine didn’t come with desert” to which the man replied “it does today if you want it!” We both ordered and then the glorious human behind the bar said “If you would like we can upgrade those for you for free. The ones on this menu are so much better than the ones you ordered.” Why yes. Yes we would like that! We ordered our much larger and better treats and waited for about 3 minutes before a lady brought Esja hers. She told me that they were out of the one I ordered and asked if I would like something else. I made a second selection and she went back to get it. (now this part is like the bank in the skit. watch it and you will know what I mean… silly parent…) A moment later she walked past me and said the bartender was getting it for me. Right on her heals he came out with my desert, not the “we don’t have any more you loser parent” one, but he had found the original order, plus another one for my wife. “oh, you already have yours” he said. “I guess now you have an extra one to go!” He set them down with a smile and walked away. As we enjoyed our treats he came back with a frozen blended drink that tasted like heaven, sat it down in front of us and said enjoy! We did!

Once we finished everything and got the incredibly low bill (since most of our stuff was free) we paid, left an unusually large tip, and headed to Silverton for drinks at the Gallon House. Upon arrival the manager asked for our drink order. We told her and she came back moments later with them, placed them on the table and said “these are on me. Happy anniversary.”

What a great, inexpensive, lavish evening with my beautiful bride! Now that we know how the other half lives it will be tough to go back to being parents again. We love our boys, but there is no doubt, we need them to have more sleepovers with friends!

Here is the link to “Mr. White” http://www.snotr.com/video/422/Eddie_Murphy_goes_undercover

Bad News Beers


10390128_907232142626707_3220983100132201699_nA couple of months ago I had a crazy idea. I was bored, and thought about things that would be fun to do. One of the things that kept jumping out to me was sports. I am nearly 40 and not in peak shape (unless peak shape is beautifully round) so I needed one that took a little less energy than basketball or football. I decided that softball sounded like a good fit.

My next step was to see if there was anyone around that shared this desire. After posting on Facebook, asking if anybody would want to play if I started a league, I was overwhelmed with the response. Within a couple of hours I had 60 people wanting to know when we start. The local YMCA sent me a message saying they would be interested in running the league for me, and off we went!

Yesterday marked day one of games for this league. More than 100 players all showing up at their scheduled times because I got bored one day. I was beaming with pride. My team got beat 15-8 (I think was the final) but I had more fun than I even imagined. There are 14 people on my team. They all have great attitudes, and are crazy fun to be around. Do we want to win? Hell yeah we do. Do we care if we lose? Not really. Every member of my team (The Bad News Beers) is there for fun. We want to remove our butts from the couch and play a game for fun. That is exactly what happened.

I guess the moral here is never doubt your desires. I wanted to do something like this for a very long time, but didn’t think I could get enough people to be interested. All it took was saying something, and here we are! 8 teams. All with local sponsors, promoting our small town business. All playing for fun. I pray that this league sticks around for many years to come! I plan on playing until my body gives out!

I can’t wait for next weeks game, and the beers at The Gallon House afterwards where we can all laugh about our errors, brag about our good plays (Like Larry’s insane leaping grab of a line drive that had no business being caught….superhuman play Larry…) and bitch about calls we think should have gone one way or the other.

Thanks Bad News Beers for being my friends, and my teammates. This old man is loving it!1238913_888179191199054_8836001347593630122_n