Monday, January 18, 2016

M-Cubed for 1.18.2016

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for January Eighteenth, Two-Thousand Sixteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- First M-Cubed since October 12th last year! This is what happens when Monday is a holiday, the news is inevitably going to be about the Democratic debates last night and the NFL's divisional playoffs (read: leaving the TV off!) and the espresso has been brewed. Looking back at October 12th's post, the Fall colors were popping, I had just done a CrossFit fundraising competition at CrossFit Independence...a place that ended up shutting down on 12.31 and (gulp!), my daughter went to her first Homecoming dance.

- In case you missed my 2015 Year in Review, you can catch up here.

- MLK Day 2016...and one of my favorite quotes from the reverend: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

- There have been lots of movies on my "must see" list lately but I've failed miserably in seeing them. "The Big Short," "Joy," "The Revenant," and "The H8ful Eight"...another Quentin Tarantino creation. I haven't seen any. However, I did meet up with a few new friends this past Friday night on opening night for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. It's the story of September 12, 2012 from Benghazi in Libya where we lost the life of Ambassador Stevens, two former Navy SEALs and another official. It was an extremely well done movie of a true story that, in my opinion, every American should see. The left will hate it, the right will love it, and those even-keeled folks will watch it with an open mind and get sickened by their government. Unfortunately, with an election looming this November, I don't see ANY candidate for any party worthy of voting for that actually has a chance of moving into the White House. So for filmmaking and quality...4 stars.

- 2016 is probably the first year where I don't have a concrete slab of goals in quite a long time. It's more of a loose set of goals and "wanna do" items. I'm less focused on one thing (like running, for example) and more spreading myself across multiple areas. I will run a few races, I will continue to CrossFit on a daily basis, I'll continue to tiptoe into my newest area of "rucking" (see report from my first ruck a few weeks ago here) and I hope to secure more time on my contract doing what I do for my "day job." Balance is certainly a concern and one that is fluid and changes, often, at the drop of a hat. Family, marriage, personal passions, staying fit and in the best shape of my life, being a dad...all important. I have goals but also just kinda going with the flow, too. The goals/events, though, that are committed to can be found at the link at top of my blog under "Upcoming Events."

- Speaking of CrossFit, my wife and I continue to stick to it and give it 100%. She has seen some dramatic changes in recent months which only fuels her motivation to keep at it. It's not uncommon to see her these days wearing a weighted vest on the treadmill or doing situps with it. Her attitude is awesome and she motivates those around her, too. One thing is for sure...she's working hard for it and after trying things for years and years (without results), it's awesome to finally see her succeeding and making change. 14+ months into this CrossFit "thing," I love it as well. My successes and victories are pretty far apart but in all, I'm making gains and getting/staying stronger than ever before. The photo here is from last week during about an hour working on the "snatch," an Olympic lifting movement. It's one that hasn't come easy but that has come a long way. Those with poor flexibility (me!) will struggle quite a bit with movements like this. 

- So we have these turkeys that keep visiting us behind our house. We hadn't seen them in awhile but last week after I left for work, my wife counted 46 marching across our backyard! A few months ago, we saw about 18 of them, mostly babies, marching around but this is a whole lot more. This is a pic she caught as they marched across. Pretty cool!

- So we haven't had cable in over 2 years and instead use an antenna to snag public HDTV broadcasts over the air like the major networks and PBS. We supplement that with Netflix. Recently, we found a few shows that we ended up binge watching and loved. One was Beachfront Bargains and the most recent was Fixer Upper. Fixer Upper is another HGTV creation that follows Chip and Joanna Gaines from Waco, TX who help their clients find a home in desperate need for love and attention and do a major remodel of the home. Chip is a "jack of all trades" and a realtor and "Jojo" is the one with the vision and designer. She can see all the potential, the walls to knock down, etc. while looking at a total disaster of a house. While the projects are amazing, Chip and Joanna are a blast to watch. Unfortunately, only season 1 is on Netflix and they're currently showing season 3 on HGTV. We're hoping they post season 2 soon to Netflix so we can catch up. In the meantime, their hilarious outtakes on YouTube will have to do. Here's a short article on the Gaines I found a few days ago.

- Back on 10/1/2014, a fellow Navy sailor I worked with fell ill to cancer. I wrote about him here and there, mostly on social media, since then posting updates and asking for prayers for his family. Back on January 8th, he passed away with his family at this side. I had the honor of attending his funeral on January 12th where a full Catholic funeral took place and full military honors. The following is my post that I wrote soon after I returned from the services: 

Reflections on today's funeral for Chief Aaron Jardina: I was up early and made the 90min drive to Meadville, PA. Arriving early to the Catholic church for the service, a few fellow shipmates were there and were asked to head next door to the funeral home where calling hours were yesterday. I went along and when I arrived, the pall bearers were being briefed, including two Navy Chiefs who Aaron personally asked to do that. Also, some close family and friends were with Aaron and little did I know, the viewing was continued today for them. As sailors practiced the ceremonial flag folding for later in the back, the rest of us lined up, one by one as 10am approached. Squaring each corner, we slowly made our individual way to Aaron. Sailor by sailor, we stood at attention, looking at Aaron in his full dress uniform, and rendered a slow final salute to our shipmate and friend. I was the last one and we all headed down the hallway to wait for his casket. Eventually, the doors opened and Old Glory atop his casket emerged and as he passed, we rendered our salute again....and again as we formed up outside in the snow while he was loaded in the hearse for the trip across the street to the church. As it drove, we lined up two by two and led everyone and the family across the road and once again, formed a line to render our salute as he was brought into the church. There must have been 30-40 of us, mostly Chief Petty Officers, and many whom Aaron knew well. Once inside the full church, a traditional Catholic funeral service commenced. I attend church regularly, but I'm not Catholic so I wasn't familiar with the many traditions and what each meant. Mixed in was a few readings and one of them by his father. His father is a great man and I had the privilege of meeting him a few times. He stood by Aaron's side, took him back and forth to the Cleveland Clinic for his chemo treatments for over a year. In most recent weeks, he spent nearly all day, every day with him. As the formal service neared its end, one of Aaron's brothers gave the eulogy as Aaron asked him to. He only asked that he not take so long like he did at their wedding which produced a much needed chuckle throughout the sanctuary. His brother cried a lot and struggled to get through it all and often referred to him as his best friend. One thing resonated with me when he talked about how Aaron felt about dying over the last 16 months. "He didn't care about dying. What he cared about was leaving his wife and two kids behind." That hit me right in the heart as that's exactly how I think I'd feel, too. That's the kind of man Aaron was. As the mass concluded, a fellow sailor and Chief from my command who knew Aaron well read "The Watch." Powerful. Moving. Fitting to send a sailor home. It concluded with every current and former sailor standing and rendering one final salute. We once again collected ourselves outside and waited for Aaron to leave for the cemetery. As Old Glory was put back on the casket, we saluted it and him as he passed on by. It was a good 20-25min drive over snowy, country roads in rural PA as a long, long line of cars followed Aaron to his final earthly resting place. Once there, the service was brief as the wind kicked hard and snow blew. Nearby, the local VFW stood at attention as did a formation of 7 sailors from the local Erie reserve center, each shouldering a rifle. One last formal item remained and that was the removal of Old Glory, its folding, and delivering it to his wife. As the sailors held it tight and began to fold it, the first of 3 shots rang out across the countryside which jolted everyone present. BANG!...a second....and then the final shot. 21 shells lay on the ground from Aaron's 21 gun salute. Old Glory, folded, was passed to our Command Master Chief who thanked Jennifer "on behalf of a greatful nation" and gave her Aaron's flag. Her son and daughter also were given a flag in honor of their father. As I began to leave and look around, one last image caught my eye and that was of Aaron's 11 year old son carrying his father's flag right in front of me...a flag bigger than his arms and outstretched, a full 8 feet long. He held it tight.
Please pray for Aaron's wife, Jennifer, and their son and daughter, as well as close family like his father and brothers. Aaron fought hard, he definitely left a legacy behind, and he will be sorely missed by many. "We have the watch, Chief."

- A parting quote today? Well, I already shared my favorite quote from MLK so how about my wife and I going all gansta on you? Just a reminder to keep it light, laugh at yourself here and there, have fun and treat each day like it's the last. We're far from the ganstas we display here (ha!!!) but I love the photo. I laugh every time I see it...perhaps because I was in the car when we captured it and I know the "real" us. So funny.

Have a great week!

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