Tiny Blessings for Others

Family Reunion

When I was about 10 years old, my grandma came to visit from Wisconsin. She and I went shopping at the now defunct Winns Department Store. As we were walking out of the store, I stepped over a stuffed animal on the floor. Not noticing, grandma stopped at the toy and called me back to it. Confused and ready for a session of Excitebike, I shuffled back. “Yeah, grandma?” She looked at me and said “Please pick up this toy and put it on the shelf.” I was confused. “Why? I didn’t put it there.” She changed me when she said “Hernan, when you pick something up or you do something nice for someone else, even when they don’t know you did it, you’re blessing them – even when they don’t know it.” Annoyed, I put the toy away. My Nintendo was calling…or paging…or whatever happened back then.

Fast forward a few decades when I’m waiting in line to pick up my SXSW badge with @lydialeavitt. I notice a pen on the ground. Without realizing, I pick it up, walk it over to the counter silently and come back in line. Lydia asks “What was that, Nan?” I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. “The pen…why did you put it on the counter?” I responded with the story you read above and she nodded. Each time you do this, like anything else, it becomes a part of who you are. So, look for little opportunities to to give tiny blessings to others. Even if they don’t know, you’ve done something special for friends and strangers. You also help me honor my 95 year old grandma Lydia.

Do you have a fun story of how you’ve done this in your life? Share with us in the comments.

These Three Words Will Change Your Life

Mark Goulston & Nan Palmero
I’m a fixer. I’ve grown up that way, my friends have always looked to me for advice and answers and I kinda like it. The problem that we fixers encounter is that not everyone wants to be fixed. As my pal Kevin Joyce once told me “Nan, if there’s a fire, you’re the guy to get everyone out safely.” I smiled. He followed my smile by lovingly saying “…but, there isn’t always a fire.” UGH.

In Jason Headley’s “It’s Not About the Nail” video, he illustrates this perfectly. The nail is so obvious to the man, but the woman just wants to be heard. Dr. Mark Goulston’s brilliant book, which I read repeatedly, Just Listen helps the fixers in the room. I’ve found that I less frequently offer an opinion when one isn’t needed of me. Instead I use Mark’s three very powerful words – “TELL ME MORE.” Then I promptly shut up. Mark knows a thing or two about this stuff – he’s a former hostage negotiator trainer.

These three potent words help people calm down and, as Mark says, “identify the specific problems that usually are far short of catastrophic.” This statement tells people you care about what they have to say, what they think and how they feel, especially when you show them you’re genuinely listening by leaning in.

Using “tell me more” has lead to me being thanked. Not because I’ve offered great advice but because I simply listened to the person reason through their situation. Typically, people don’t need us to fix their issues, just be with them. In Chapter 1 of Bob Goff’s whimsical book, Love Does, he says “I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” Thanks to these two caring guys, I’m getting closer to living life that way. Do you have something that you like to say to others to help show them how much you care?

Photo by Erik Darmstetter

Hey Boy…


Harrell Zeekie Browning was an amazing man. He scared the hell out of me when I first met him in 1997. I could hear him yelling at the credit card companies through the walls in the hall of the 600 Building on behalf of his bankruptcy clients. The 20th floor smelled like his cigars. Harrell was larger than life. That man had such wisdom, character and history. His deep and loud belly laughter was infectious and his stories would keep me engaged. He was so damn good at them, I’d listen to the same ones because he loved telling them as much as I loved hearing them. He was a damn hellion and we couldn’t get enough of him.

“Hey boy, did I ever tell you about the time we filled up our commander’s Ford with gas when he wasn’t looking then started syphoning it off later on? He thought he got the best gas mileage and he bragged about it, then he didn’t know what the hell was happening because it was the worst gas mileage. He swore he’d never buy one again.”

“Hey boy, did I ever tell you the time these big shot lawyers came to town and I found out where they were staying? I paid the front desk $100 bucks to call them every hour as their wake up call. They didn’t get a wink of sleep and were exhausted in court the next day.”

“Hey boy, did I ever tell you about my car, “The Vomit Comet?” It was the ugliest piece of shit green color you had ever seen, but goddammit it was fast.”

“Hey boy, did I ever tell you about the time I was a cabbage farmer and the crop price went to hell? Jim and I got out of the car to look at the crop, but I went to the trunk and shot that damn cabbage. Jim hit the deck, he was scared to death.”

“Hey boy, did I tell you about the time I worked for the mental health hospital in Austin? I had to get one of the guys escaped. He was enrolled at the barber college down the road with a straight blade near people’s necks.”

“Boy, there are two good things about sitting in your own shit. It’s warm and it’s yours…but you’ve got to get out of it some time.”


Goodbye, friend. I loved you like a grandfather. You died once, but you truly lived.

Harrell Zeekie Browning’s Obituary in the Corpus Christi Caller-Times

The Science of Happiness

Sometimes plans change. Saturday morning shifted from chores around the house to listening to clinical psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud, speak at Community Bible Church. Cloud wrote The Law of Happiness (Amazon affiliate link) based on clinical research which also matched up Biblically. Happiness is described as the sense of well being even when bad things happen. The research found that happy people have similar characteristics and that only about 10% of happiness is circumstantial. So whether or not you get to live in the neighborhood you want, get the new car, or the new toy, you get a boost in happiness that goes back to your basic set point of happiness. Some happiness is constitutional – you were just born that way, the rest is how you choose to live.


In the book he covers the following 13 truths about happy people, 6 of which he discussed:

– Happy people are not lazy about happiness
– Happy people don’t wait for “someday”
– Happy people fully engage
– Happy people don’t compare themselves
– Happy people are grateful
– Happy people forgive
– Happy people have a calling

– Happy people connect
Look down. You have a belly button and you were connected from the beginning. Even after birth, babies must connect. Beyond shelter and food, studies show that love and relationship shapes the child. Connection happens when your needs are revealed. Cloud shared a story where a monkey was placed in a cage during a study. His cortisol levels were measured for a baseline. The monkey was then terrorized with loud noises and flashing lights. His cortisol levels were measured after being terrorized. The monkey then had his monkey friend added to the cage and they were both terrorized together, with a cortisol measurement taken again. When the two monkeys were terrorized together, the cortisol levels were split in half.

– Happy people are givers
People who give have positive physiological changes. Cloud warns that if you are miserable in giving, you might be co-dependent. Cloud points to Luke 3:11 where John the Baptist shares …”Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” When you give, the same pleasure centers light up in your brains as when you have great food or have sex.

– Happy people think well
It matters how you think about what you think about. Optimists say “there is a way towards good.” Pessimists will:
Personalize the situation – “it was bad me’s fault”
Pervasive – “it’s all bad, my life is just bad”
Permanent – “it will always be like this”
This thought process affords less happiness but it can be fixed. When we observe our thoughts, we grow new brain hardwiring to learn new ways of thinking.

– Happy people pursue goals
Your mind already has a vision and goals, it helps you move forward when you connect with it. Maybe one goal can be found by asking “How can we get closer to God and people?” Goals with milestones start a sequencing pattern in your brain. Entertain the concept of a life mission. Cloud’s life mission is to show how The Bible can bring health instead of showcasing crazy. You can try starting with a daily goal, this could be as simple as encouraging just one person. Then work on stretch goals. Do enough of a stretch goal to freak you out, but not overwhelm you. Check out the graphic. You don’t know what’s in your heart until you start digging.


– Happy people have boundaries
We often lose boundaries with the needy and defer to rageaholics to prevent an eruption. Happy people will instead let go of what hurts them and have a necessary ending.

– Happy people have faith
These people trust transcendance, they understand they aren’t the center of the universe. These are people who look for the light and are oriented in seeking it. Those people recognize that they are not the light, they are only responsible for the light that is given to them. It’s a spiritual movement towards God.

If you want to read this in more detail, check out Dr. Cloud’s book. It’s on my list of books to read!

How to Pack for a Two Week Trip To Europe

The best travel tips when traveling to Europe for two weeks.

London - October 2012

Cell Phone
Get an unlocked device or unlock your phone. Determine if your phone uses a sim, micro-sim or nano sim. Reeview your contacts to ensure that their phone numbers start with +1 or else numbers will look incorrect and might not work smoothly, especially with iMessage. A number should read like this: +1 (210) 555-1212 instead of just (210) 555-1212. Check this wiki for information on carrier options in each country. Set APN information on your device. If you’re using an iPhone, check this site from your iPhone and it can set the information for you. Buy the sim in the country you’re visiting. In some countries, they will ship the SIM to a local address in the country you’re visiting. Mobile Vikings, who was great in Belgium, did this. I inserted the SIM and activated it and was up and running in minutes. Orange France’s Mobicarte is miserably slow in activating a new sim – it can take 48 hours. At least they tell you upfront that it will take this long. Three UK’s Pay As You Go 15 was a great deal with unlimited data and it provided a local number and texting.

Although the people in Europe are full sized, their hotel rooms, elevators, washrooms and cars are not. Packing giant luggage for a tiny room is a surefire way of angering your travel partner and likely carrying heavy bags up and down stairs. I travel with three pieces of luggage. A bulletproof Kirkland Signature carryon from Costco, a Patagonia Lightwire backpack (model no longer available, so pick a new one) for my laptop and gadgets and a Patagonia Atom day bag with bonus Gypsy strap. Gypsy strap is not an official Patagonia term. It’s what I call the secondary strap that wraps around your body to prevent someone from flipping your bag over the back of your head and absconding with your gear, as I witnessed in Prague. Packing so little requires some planning, but makes lost bags due to the airline nearly impossible. If you lose your bags on the flight over, at least you tried your best. Space is now at a premium so pack wisely. Oh, you want to know what I pack? Follow me.

What to Pack
Sure, my mom made me start washing my own clothes at 15 because I changed three times a day. I like fresh clothes. In Europe, it’s best to get over it and recycle. Before any gear goes in the suitcase, I Camp Dry it. Camp Dry is a silicone spray used for tents and outdoor gear to keep them dry in the rain. Buy a couple of bottles online or in the Target shoe department. I coat my hat, scarf, jacket, shoes, pants and bags. If you get caught in a small shower, you’ll be able to wipe the water off your clothes and gear. Camp Dry also prevents stains if you opt to wear a meal.

Packing socks and underwear for a few weeks eats up space faster than phonebooks in landfills. Instead, grab travel underwear from ExOfficio. It’s anti-microbial and fast drying. Pick up two or three so you can have a fresh pair, while another pair is drying after you hand washed in the shower or sink. They’ll be dry in an hour, I promise. Even in the winter. When it comes to socks, grab a few pair of SmartWool socks. These are also anti-microbial and will keep your feet padded and warm on a cold day. If it heats up, the wool stays cool. They have magic in the threading. Those suckers will stay fresh longer than Will Smith.

When it comes to shirts, I opt for polyester long sleeve shirts. Everyone makes them. Adidas calls them ClimaCool, Nike makes DriFit. Pick your favorites. You can wash these in the sink or shower as well and they dry fast. Wearing black or gray always looks clean and people can’t tell that you’re recycling clothes in the photos. While you’re at it, bring a pair or two of long underwear, too, if it’s the right season. Get the polyester version of those. Again, easy to wash, fast to dry.

With shoes, I wear running shoes. I walk close to 12 miles a day, so I’m looking for comfort. I also suggest that you bring one with a decent sole. The Brooks Ghost running shoes were perfect to cruise over the cobblestones and uneven ground of Europe. I also brought a second pair of shoes, black leather Ecco shoes that were good for walking, too. Since the Brooks are fabric, with enough rain, water will get through. If you get in a multi-day rain, you’ll want to have some shoes that will keep your feet dry. You’re a world traveler, rain won’t keep you indoors! Of course, if you choose to buy new shoes for your trip, I’d suggest a comfortable pair ready for rain. Solomon makes some great shoes.

If you’ve not lived in the north, pay attention. A scarf and a hat will save your bacon on those chilly nights. Have at least one of each with you. I thought scarves were stupid. Turns out, I was an idiot. The night I wrapped a scarf around my neck in Prague, it felt like a warm hug. I was sold. Go buy a scarf already. Oh yeah, if it starts raining and you lost your hat and forgot an umbrella, you can use the scarf on your head. You Camp Dry’d that thing, remember?

Bring snacks with you. Instead of forking over for crap food, bring hearty snacks like trail mix and low sugar, high protein bars. You’ll save cash, you can keep moving without cueing behind tourists for a churro or kebab. Save your cash to enjoy the local fair and a local brew later. Speaking of food and your belly, you should also bring vitamins and probiotics. Start taking them weeks before you travel. You want to be healthy on your adventure, there’s a ton to see! The probiotics will keep your tummy feeling good when you try new foods, especially if you don’t have the stomach of a billy goat. Eating the local yogurt will put the local probiotics in your system, too. Do that. Before you drink the water, check online to see if the water is safe to drink. If you’re smack dab in the European Union (ie France, Germany, Austria, etc) you’re good. Just in case, pack Pepto and carry it in your day bag. Even if not for you, you can help save some other tourist that’s not having a great day. There are also dissolving tabs that will prevent vomiting, but you’ll have to talk to your doc. Good news – the generics are cheap and they work.

Most of your gadgets are ready for 110 and 220 volt, especially if they can charge via USB. Be smart and look on the plug to ensure voltage compatibility. Beyond voltage compatibility, you will need plug converters. Your hotel might have some to loan you, but I like coming prepared. T-Tech makes a sweet plug that works in most of the world thanks to the flexible plug situation built in. It provides one power outlet and one USB outlet.

Take a knee. Pack a camera. Your memories deserve better than the awful pictures you’ll shoot on an iPad. Also, you look ridiculous shooting pictures with an iPad. Read your camera manual so you understand how it works. You’re going to see beautiful landscapes, buildings and people that you’ll want to photograph. If you don’t know why your camera isn’t giving you what you see, blame yourself. I’m telling you, read the damn manual. After you’ve read the manual, learn how to shoot. Don’t just use Instagram to shoot, the resolution of those photos is pathetically low. If you decide you want to print one for later, it is going to look like you printed it in 1998 on an inkjet. People barely want to see your travel photos. Do your friends and family a favor and make them good, ok?

Do you need help packing? I’ve got you sorted out there, too. I prefer the bundle wrapping method. It’s so awesome, a TSA agent in Kansas City fist bumped me after checking my bag. A security agent at London Heathrow told me my bag was packed very efficiently after having a look. When people who see thousands of bags take notice, you know you’re doing it right.

One More Thing
When you are traveling in a new country, especially in public transportation, take your headphones out. Sure, it can be for safety, but it’s bigger than that. I love listening to music. Probably more than most. Taking your headphones out exposes you to the world. It is an opportunity to pay attention to the needs of others and offer assistance if someone is lost and you know how to read a map. You become available for conversations that will enrich your life and make your travel more memorable. Save the music for later and make yourself available. It adds to the tapestry of your trip.

2014 Addition – Here’s a fun and cool packing checklist tool that is printable from Budget Direct in Australia.

2011 – These Go To 11

During a drive with @chocov to the ranch, we were recapping our year. Travel, friends and adventures filled 2011. Then Lydia Leavitt whipped up a post about 2011 and I had to do the same. Let’s get started!

– Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas
– Sarah comes to Texas


HawaiiSan Antonio Snow February 4 2011
– San Francisco & Cupertino for the @Telenav Waypoint Project
Wild at Heart Boot Camp on the Big Island of Hawaii
– It snowed in San Antonio, so I shot pictures. I wake up to a call from CNN.

SXSW 2011

– @lydialeavitt comes to Texas
– South by Southwest with @chocov and gang
– Met General Colin Powell


– Backstage at Fiesta for the Spazmatics


– Fortune Leadership Summit in Houston with Marshall Goldsmith
– JR & Blaire get hitched at the most amazing wedding I’ve ever attended. Helicopter included.

Aspen - June 2011Living Room
– Trail running & hard work revamping the technology in Smuggler’s Secret with @chocov and @erikdarm in Aspen

Independence Pass  | Continental Divide - July 2011

– Visited the Continental Divide
– Watched the 4th of July fireworks from Smuggler Mountain in Aspen
– Visited NYC during the hottest weekend in 60 years with @lydialeavitt, @rmitty, @mdflores & @bobbyfreeman
– Ice-T yells at me
– @heidigerhardt comes to town


– One of the best damn birthdays at @freetailbrewing
– Alamo Beer Challenge – my first 15k

Chevy Mancation
Chevy Mancation with @bobbyfreeman
– Jack Daly comes to San Antonio for EO

Mira Sorvino - Austin Film Festival - Union Square Premiere
– Fortune Growth Summit in Phoenix, AZ with @erikdarm & @tmeyeratplay to hear @DanielPink & other thought leaders
– Spotted Mira Sorvino at the Austin Film Festival

Los Angeles - November 2011Los Angeles - November 2011

– Blogworld LA with @thezippykid team
– Got on the movie set of Gangster Squad with @phikai, while standing a few feet away from Emma Stone & Sean Penn
– Ran the full San Antonio Marathon (26.2 MILES!) with @bemadthen & chocov


– Christmas with my family & friends in Corpus Christi
– @thebmpr Photo Walk on the River Walk to shoot the Holiday Lights
– Valero AlamoBowl with @bemadthen and @erikdarm

A big thank you to everyone who made this year such a great time. Our time together whether offline or online helped shape one of the best years I’ve had and I’m thankful to each one of you. Here’s to new adventures, blessings and tighter friendships. Happy 2012.

What Is Love?

cupids arrow

I’m writing this post to really get it, as a reminder to myself to read again in the future and to have the notes to review in the future.

The divorce was not fun (it was miserable) and it’s not something that you want to do again. Remember how you felt in the fights that never seemed to go anywhere, the times where you should have bitten your tongue and the grace you needed and should have shown more. You hung in there, you fought the good fight and it didn’t work this time around. Here’s some of what you learned about love.

These notes are taken from Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church. It’s probably going to take a try or two to get this, but here’s the love you’re shooting for.

English is a funny language where we use the word love in so many ways that it has lost it’s potency and it has become insufficient. We love the sunshine, we love the internet, we love our spouse and we love pizza. Those Hebrew homies had their ways with words, though, that described love differently. It came in three parts and built on top of one another to more thoroughly describe the relationship. It would be wise for your brain and your heart to get this. Let’s review the way the Hebrews spoke of love so you can remember it by heart.

The base of Hebrew Love, Raah (said rye-ah)

Raah is the Hebrew word for companionship. And not the “hey bro, let’s go hang out” companionship. It’s a word that’s used between humans and not between a person and an item or animal. Instead it’s the “oooh, I’ve seen the not so great side of you and I still want to continue doing life with you.” Matt goes on to say that you can’t experience raah during a first, second or third date. We can usually fake that. This is after the crazy has come out and you still say “I want to continue going down this path with you.” Without this foundation and revealing, love goes no further. This part is scary.

Stack it on top, Ahavah (said ah-ha-va)

So, cool, you’ve got raah down. You’ve seen the crazy and you’re still in. You’ve got raah and that leads into ahavah, “the love of the will.” Ahavah is were we’re in a fight and it’s hellish. We’re both furious, emotions are running high, you’re acting crazy and I still say “I’m not going anywhere.” We may be fighting, we may have issues and I want to stay with you and fight with you, no one else. This is the part that helps a woman feel secure in your relationship. Oh, by the way, God wants us to go through these steps of Raah and Ahavah and not have sex. Not yet. We aren’t married.

The cherry, Dode

We’ve got the companionship portion down with raah, I’ve still battled with you and your crazy and still want to stick around and figure life out with you, boom, ahavah. Woo, that’s a lot of work so far with no sex. We get married, now it’s time for dode. It’s the mingling of two souls and the word dode is only used when raah and ahavah are present. Dode is not sex, though it is a component of it. The intimacy that we’ve been searching for has been fulfilled. Without the raah and ahavah, the sex ends up being just technique and not the mingling of souls.

So there’s the beginning of it. Here are the notes and sermons where this came from so you remember.

And don’t worry, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. God’s mercy and grace is infinite. It’s okay.

Update: The sermons were taken offline since they were older and Matt has matured in his teaching.

Wild at Heart Boot Camp – Hawaii

Life continues to prove to be anything but stable. 2010 was a very difficult year for me and produced a dramatic transition in my life. In October 2010, I was introduced to John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart, by my friend and pastor, Kevin Joyce. Eldredge, with support of modern movies such as Gladiator and Braveheart, paints a picture of what a man looks like. And not just any man, but a hero. A man that can lead other men; a man that inspires and captures the heart of his beauty. That man is brutally fierce in his battles yet showcases his grace and compassion towards others who go unloved and don’t have a voice. A dichotomy that most men are lacking. Notice that you find this with William Wallace and Maximus. Guys you aspire to be. Warriors and lovers. We’ve experienced a bastardization of this in our lives; either being filled with rage or with a passivity that inspires no one and leaves others feeling cold around you. Maybe you’ve experienced this in a friend, family member or coworker. I personally had built walls around myself emotionally. Logic ruled in my book. As I read this book, along with coaching from Kevin, I began to see the value of my logic. I also saw my flaw, which I hadn’t recognized, in my deficiency of heart. This was created by my smothering of emotion by logic. As another friend, Scott Austin told me, “Nan, you’re the perfect guy when there’s a fire in a building. You’ll get the bull horn, get on a table and move everyone out safely. The problem is – there’s not always a fire.” Scott certainly had my attention. Allowing myself to experience emotion? Yikes. If you’re like me and most other men, that sounds pretty damn horrible. Leaving yourself vulnerable? Sounds scary.

Did I really want to do this? Enter Kevin, who had me read the story of Jesus and Lazarus. You trivia nuts will know about the shortest verse in the Bible – “Jesus wept.” Here’s the quick story. Lazarus was dying and these dudes were asking Jesus to show up and save him. Jesus delayed. (He had his reasons.) Finally, when Jesus and the guys arrive, Lazarus is dead. Jesus says, “nah, he’s just sleeping.” The guys are in disbelief. They keep arguing with Jesus. It says Jesus became angry and wept. Wait, what? So Jesus, the human version of God, got angry and wept and raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus logically knew that he could and would raise Lazarus from the dead, yet still he experienced the anger and sorrow. He didn’t just brush them off and do what he needed to do. Ugh. Feelings.

So after having read Wild at Heart and doing some additional learning of who we are and who God wants us to be as men, I was bouncing around John Eldredge’s Ransomed Heart website where I stumbled upon the Wild at Heart Boot Camp. I knew it was something I needed to do for myself and for the people around me. I was going to attend in Colorado, but my mom gifted me an upgrade to Hawaii – how could I say no to that?

I arrived at the Kona airport where I met a number of guys from around the country and later, the world, where Shane had flown over 30 hours to get from Cape Town, South Africa to the big island of Hawaii. That’s commitment. We had over 300 men in the Boot Camp, men from as young as 18 to men in their 70’s, ranging from dudes that look like they never left the beach to physicians and business owners. Clearly, this message resonated across all demographics of men.

It’d be impossible to cover all that we learned in the four days that we were there, but here are a couple of highlights of the teachings I received during those emotionally and spiritually rigorous days.

Wounds Of Our Fathers

We are human and our dads, unsurprisingly, are as well (hopefully). In being human, they made mistakes and they wounded us, oftentimes unintentionally. They were wounded themselves from their fathers. How could they know better? As boys we need to know that we’re loved AND that our dad’s believe in us and that we have what it takes. Maybe our dads loved us but never hugged us and spent intimate time with us. Maybe our dads did hug us but didn’t tell us frequently enough who we were as men and that they believed in us. A boy needs his father to provide this for him on a consistent basis. This is lacking, and has been for generations. How do I know? It came from hearing a room full of over 300 men weeping uncontrollably when Eldredge talked about this on stage. The first thing we need to do about this is forgive our fathers. Forgiving them doesn’t mean that your wound didn’t hurt you horribly, nor does it make it alright. It’s a choice to release your dad. As they said, don’t wait to feel like forgiving, because forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.


Morgan, a team member with John, described agreements as lies that we agree with internally. Morgan, after seeing his dad cry at a funeral without a discussion afterward, made an agreement that he would be the strongest man he knew. He would be Atlas and carry the weight of his world on his shoulders. Another guy was told by his stepdad that he was “nothing but a seagull – good for sitting, squawking and shitting.” That was the name his father gave him, so as a boy he made an agreement internally that that was who he was. These agreements that we have all made shape our existence, our relationships and our decision making process. These agreements need to be broken so they don’t continue to encumber our relationships and decision making for the rest of our lives.

For Me

I know that I carry wounds of my father. One of those that was passed along to me is the stoicism that he carries. Some could read me as cold or uncaring. I knew internally that this wasn’t true, but until I went through the book and further this boot camp, it had been difficult for me to show emotion. Things are changing for me. I’ve forgiven my dad. Poor man, he didn’t know that he was doing wrong by me. I know that since we are God’s children my dad isn’t just my dad, but also my brother. We all carry that young boy inside of us and he raised me based on his wounds, from his experiences, in the best and most loving way he knew. I also learned that God is not a substitute father if your dad didn’t provide you what you needed; He’s the primary. Your earthly father is in addition to your dad in Heaven. As Morgan described, God brings other fathers into our lives to serve and teach us. His financial father figure is Dave Ramsey, his marketing dad is Seth Godin. God uses other men as his hands and feet. Hell, Morgan even talked about his father in learning how to bow hunt – an 83 year old woman that competed in archery in the Olympics. It’s not necessarily about the gender. Recognizing the agreements that I’ve made with myself over the years from my experiences will continue to unravel and reveal themselves. I don’t know them all explicitly yet, but now when something goes awry or I’m feeling something that’s not of God, I am aware that there might be an agreement there that needs to be prayed over and broken.

I am committed to being a whole man, a man that will fight fiercely for what is right and who will show tenderness and grace appropriately. I will feel, I will love and I will fight. I know I’ll drop the ball and stumble along the way, I’m human and thankfully, we have God’s infinite grace for these instances. Men, God wants you to live a life of adventure with him. Notice that I didn’t write about being a nice guy, there were no descriptions of being Mister Rogers. Jesus was fierce, he was loving (funny too!) and that’s who God wants us to be as well – Maximus or William Wallace. It’s what resonates in our hearts. This will be a lifelong path and it will be worth it.

People, encourage the men that matter in your life to read Wild at Heart and to give the Wild at Heart Field Guide an honest try. It may be exactly what they need to help them escape their life of passivity or rage and unlock the heart that God gave them. If you have questions, please reach out to me and I’ll make time to talk to you about it.

Edit: I’ve been asked if there is an equivalent for ladies. The book is called Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge and they do have a women’s boot camp as well.

The Humanity of a Marathon – San Antonio Rock N Roll Marathon

On Sunday I experienced humanity in a way that I never had before by attending the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Marathon and Half-Marathon. The race was a great equalizer. The distance of the course doesn’t care about your age, race, health or anything else.

As I stood at the finish line watching the runners and walkers come in, I was so impressed with everyone in attendance. There were over 27,000 participants and the spectators were cheering them all on. I saw an elderly gentleman walking the final stretch. As he saw the finish line, he put his hand over his mouth, preparing for the flood of tears that were coming. It was clear that this was something special – he was walking with an oxygen pack. People cruised in on walkers, one gentleman trotting along with a full 55 pound military pack. Others were running for loved ones that had lost battles to disease. It was striking to watch the pain, the joy, the sheer excitement of every participant and how much the onlookers were experiencing these feelings with the runners. It was amazing. As my friend Lisa said, “the finish line is the reason WHY I run.” Wow. I couldn’t ever fully appreciate what that meant until yesterday.

You’re likely in the middle of your marathon of life right now. Look towards those people on the sidelines cheering you on. Seek out the people that are going to tell you to not give up, even when giving up feels okay, because you’ve gone through so much. Reach for the right people who can move you forward when things get tough. Do it, even when a train stops the race. The finish line is so much more fun than stopping mid-race.

Seeing Through People – Don’t Ignore High Performers


At TEDxSanAntonio, my friend Alicia Arenas shared her story about being a glass child.  As she described, a glass child is one that has a special needs sibling.  Glass children aren’t named such because they’re fragile, instead, the parents look through them like glass and focus their efforts primarily on the special needs child instead.  The glass child then does the best he can without the attention and focus that the special needs child receives.  It’s an interesting phenomenon because the glass child remains needing the attention.  Be sure to check back at the TEDxSanAntonio site for Alicia’s presentation so you can hear her story.

An analogous situation to the glass child issue can crop up at work.  As leaders in our offices, we have high performing team members that require less supervision and who seem to need us less.  They don’t seem to ask for help, they complete their tasks in exemplary fashion, they often pull off the miraculous.  For their efforts, they get a quick thank you, if that, and you move along to focus your efforts on the ones that need more attention.  The ones you see untapped potential in, if they could just get their work done or show up to meetings on time.
Those that you see potential in still deserve your support and attention.  The key is to cherish, develop and recognize they achievers as well.  They can become glass men and women in your office because you don’t think they need.  Remember, they want and thrive on your attention and efforts as well, so invest in them and reap the rewards from their accelerated growth as well.
photo by Andrew Mason