Thursday, July 18, 2013

West Virginian Inspiration...

It's been a while since my last post. Feels like I'm in confession, "father forgive me I have sinned".

The reason it's been a while is I've had no time to post. Travelled to West Virginia for the Boy Scouts 2013 National Jamboree. Normally I have time, or make time. This time I was too busy working and playing hard. It was a ton of fun.

First, let's start off with one of the highlights of my trip. Something I will never forget.

As I was flying to West Virginia I was doing the social media thing and tweeting I was coming to West Virginia. I get a tweet back from one of my twitter followers @fireryan33 that he was working at the Fire hall but would like to meet me when I arrived.

I didn't know who he was at the time other than he was a twitter follower.

The fact that I meet people off social media regularly and have even stayed at the homes of people I've only met on social media freaks most people and my family out. If I've heard "aren't you worried that they might be a serial killer" once, I've heard it all the time.

I'm a free spirit. I like going where most people fear to go. I like the free fall. I don't over think. In doing so I'd say I've met some of the greatest people on social media that have not only become friends but have become friends for life.

I tell people that I've met people off social media and have formed friendships that are as strong as friendships you make as a kid. With social media there is no heirs. I'm must Bryan and they are who they are. The only bond most of us have is Ironman or training of some sort. With that common interest and no end game, true lasting friendships are made.

I can go through the list of people I've met off social media and created life lasting relationships. I'm afraid to start listing names because I might miss some. Seriously. I don't want them to feel left out. But what I'd say is there is probably close to 20 people that I've met and are tight with. They could call me and I'd have their back in a heart beat.

The best story was when I went to Nashville and @sully1969 (David Sullivan) met me at my hotel for the first time, bringing gifts. Yes, we never met and he liked my blog and tweets so much he took time out of his day to met me and bring me gifts then we went out partying all night long. Best was when he ditched me. I was winding it up, it was late and I didn't want to stop. He said he was going to the bathroom and didn't return.

 It was classic. I never laughed so hard. I went into the bathroom looking for him after about 20 minutes of waiting for him, I was worried. I checked under the stalls and no Sully. I made it back to the bar, took a minute to absorb that I was "dumped", had a blank expression of disbelief saying to myself "how could I be dumped? Why'd he dump me? Was I that bad?" and then I just started laughing to myself on my chair. It was just so damn funny.

BTW, Sully and I are still great friends. I'd do anything for that guy. He just needed to get home because he wanted to make sure the first thing his son sees when he gets up in the morning is Sully's face. He's a great dad. He was worried he'd miss that. It was cool knowing someone cares that deeply about their kid and it was cool to be dumped. I never did get to thank him with a great meal. Next time.

I've also met so many other people, many have even travelled from around the world and stayed at my home. Jevon O'neil stayed at my house, he's a film director from England and even did a movie with Dennis Hopper. I stayed at Nina Jacks house in LA, she was first unit director of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I didn't know her or her husband, they didn't know me, they just opened their doors. The list goes on and on and on....At this point Simon Cross and Matty O are wanting to read their names. Not going to happen. Those two guys are chumps.

Seriously though, the list is huge of guys I've meet on social media and then met in person. Ok, I'll try it. If I miss someone leave a comment and spank me.....Rodney Buike, John and Frances Proc, Paul Dietrich, Matty and Heather O, Simon Cross, Fireman Bob, Kevin Neumann, Adena,  Carlos and Fernanda,  Tammy Jensen, Mandy Farrar, John Klain, , Doru And Mihaela Sandor,  Lindy and Rueben,  Derek Rogers, , Iain from Devon,....okay I'm stopping, the list is too long....

Not yet in person but I feel like I know them, Johann Stemmet, Dave Parker, Bill Seedes, Scott Keopp, Jane Hargraft, Bill Bradley Austin Tanny, Derek Dean, Matt Pixa, Peter Takeda

These are people I'd go to the mat for. They could call me and I'd help in anyway I could.

Now add another guy to that list....Ryan Pennington....from West Virginia.

Back to the story....

I get this tweet that Ryan is from West Virginia and wants to hook up. It's going to be late, but I figure what the heck, he seems really interested in wanting meet me. So we set up a play date, at the bottom of the hill from the airport in the parking lot of a 7 - 11 store. It was around 10 pm. Ryan told me he'd be the guy in an ambulance.

So I get to the parking lot and he comes out of the truck and introduces himself. Before I left the airport I googled his name and saw that he was a firefighter. Other than that I knew nothing about him.

Ryan told me that he was a follower of my old blog and that inspired him to start blogging and it changed his life. He said he was really bummed when I shut it down and it was his daily read. He know all about my kids and Reid.

He went on to tell me that it inspired him to start blogging. That he's no English major and liked the style of how I write and started a firefighting blog and starting blogging. Turns out the blog became a hit and it now got over 150,000 hits per year, he has over 5500 twitter followers, he now writes for some firehouse magazines, he's developed courses on how to fight specific types of fires, like houses of hoarders that catch on fire, and is not travelling all over Canada and the U.S. putting on courses.

And he wanted to thank me because I motivated and inspired him. He couldn't thank me enough. I was touched. He also did a half marathon and wanting to get into shape to do a sprint triathlon. He's a good swimmer, teaches it.

It's moments like this that you don't know the effect you have on people. When I started blogging it was just to document my crazy life of training and partying and my journey from fat to fit. I could understand how I could inspire others to lose weight and get in shape. That makes sense and I've had people tell me that. But this was out of left field, this was not an Ironman, this was just a guy that liked my blog and started to do the same and it opened up a new life to him. He now even took his blog posts and turned it into books that he sells on Lulu. You can check out Ryan's stuff by clicking here.

So we had a good 20 or 30 min chat. He's a great guy. Had I decided not to met him, I wouldn't have got the chance to hear his story. I had no idea who Ryan was before that. I just thought he was an Ironman guy who wanted to say hi. It was touching to know I had such an impact and that he was part of my life and I didn't even know it. He was following my crazy adventures.

The next day I learnt from Samantha that I inspired her husband Josh to get into the Minneapolis state fair with their Dr Vegetable truck. He did what I did when I visited Walmart. He just got into his truck and drove there and showed up and magic happened. He got into a fair that is near impossible to get a spot in.

This week I got inspired too. I was at the Boy Scouts National Jamboree. We had created a book, "the Building of the Summit" and a booth. It's a 10 day event ending next Wednesday.

I used to be a Boy Scout for a year or two. I was a cub scout for a number of years. I wasn't the best scout. I was more of a fool around and have fun kind of guy, but I did enjoy it. I went camping once, in the 40 below weather. Then the other time they wouldn't let me come because they thought I'd be too disruptive. It was fun being a scout but no life changer.

Fast forward 30 years and I have a new appreciation for Scouting.

I've been surrounded by 40,000 plus Scouts and Scout leaders. I've started to experience the culture. I've started to meet many of them. We have scouts working our booth.

What I've found is the kids that are scouts are great kids. They are not your athletes or the most popular, in fact it's the contrary. But they are really good wholesome, honest kids.

The troop masters are the same. They give up their time to coach and mentor these young men. They are selfless.

The principals they are taught is also a foundational rock bed of strong morals. Moving forward if we ever need kids to work for us I'm going to contact the local scout troop. Even one of the kids working for us I may want to keep on after the show to work for us full time.

What's most interesting is that when I was a kid I did a career aptitude test. It said I would be good at doing one of two things. Printing Sales or Forest Ranger. My family thinks that makes sense. They could see me as a forest ranger. When I wear those sorts of hats I do look like one.

At the time I didn't pursue forest ranger because I didn't realize the scope of the job, like search and rescue and all that adventure stuff. Alice thinks I'd be good at that because I never give up and if someone was lost I'd find them. Instead I thought that all a forest ranger did was walk around camp sights and tell people to turn down their music and stop partying.

In hindsight I was thinking that whatever path I took I might have ended up at this Jamboree regardless.

Now I'm back it's time to get back on the straight and narrow. As you know I have no middle switch and I have way to much fun on the road. Early mornings, late nights, lots of beers and tons of laughs.

I got back home, got spanked from Alice for posting one of my video's on facebook and decided not to do Ironman Racine 70.3. I was going to go with Alice, we were going to visit Samantha and Josh at the fair they are working the Pickle truck at and meet the Duck Dynasty guys. Unfortunately Reid has driving classes Monday and Alice is worried he won't get up without her help. Plus I don't think she wanted to go on a 16 hour out and back driving trip.

So now it's back to the straight and narrow and Ironman training, after today.