Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I don't quite know the exact purpose of this video, but I thought it was pretty cool. Just a really awesome picture of reconciliation



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cold Mountain

  A few weeks back, Peyton and I hiked Cold Mountain, a loop hike connected with Mt. Pleasant. It was a beautiful day, a little on the cold side, but beautiful skies. I hope to go back there soon to do the 16 mile figure-eight loop to include Mt. Pleasant. I forgot I had these pictures on my camera.
I hope everyone is having a great week and looking forward to Thanksgiving. I am excited to spend time with family and friends, hunting, eating, running, biking, and maybe an overnight hike with Daniel on Sunday.
More updates to come. Am planning to do a Thanksgiving post of things I am most thankful for.

Enjoy the pictures:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guitar lesson

First off- want to apologize- I've been slacking on the blog lately, especially the pictures. Life has been every bit of wonderful, but busy lately. I assure you more pictures will come- I just have gotten out of the habit of having my camera by my side the last few weeks.

Yesterday, I got a chance to give my mom her first guitar lesson. Many of you know my mom, or have heard me talk about her at some point. She's my hero. Plain and simple. In some way or another, I almost always mention her in any essay I have composed since high school- to include college essays, personal statements, etc. She has been a huge inspiration for much of what I do in my life. I guess it has to do with the hurdles she has and continues to overcome in her life. My mom came down with spinal meningitis when she was less than two years old. The treatment she was given worsened her condition and caused her to lose her hearing in both ears.
As a kid growing up, I didn't understand the depth of her hearing loss until I went with her to an audiology appointment. It was here that I developed an even greater respect and understanding of the hardships and hurdles my mom is faced with still, as a 61 year old woman. She was put into a sound-proof box and asked to press a button when she could hear something. As they raised the volume, it felt like minutes, although probably only a few seconds until she pressed the button. I asked the doctor what an equivalent sound would be to what my mom had heard. She turned to look at me and said, "It was the sound of a Boeing 747 Jet engine at full blast next to your mother's ear". This changed my perspective, just a bit.

 Growing up, my mom's parents never taught her sign language- not wanting her to be limited by the resources available to the deaf community. She learned to read lips and relies on this as her sole means of communication today. As a child, she saw a speech therapist every week, many times more than a couple of times a week, until she was 18. She applied to 18 nursing schools and was rejected at every one. She went on to become an Occupational Therapist and has been licensed and practicing in the field for over 30 years.
My mother is tough to say the least- a quality I admire in her. She won't take no for an answer and is always up for a new challenge, despite what the odds may be. I joke around saying that one day I want to write a book to tell her story. Growing up, my mother always told me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. She provided a constant source of encouragement and inspiration in my life. Her life has not been easy and every day she continues to face discrimination and hardship because of her hearing loss. But this hasn't stopped her from reaching out to those in need.
Much of my desire to serve the under-served and the most vulnerable in our society comes from my mom's commitment to caring for the needy.
The summer I turned 12, my mom made me ride my bike five days a week to volunteer at a place called the Virginia Home. It was here that my passion for the "least of these" began. The Virginia Home is a home in Richmond for mentally and physically challenged adults. Many of the adults living at the home have CP, MS, spinal cord or brain injuries, along with other challenges that create barriers for them to live on their own.
I am forever grateful for the many lessons I learned the first and subsequent summers I would volunteer here. I still occasionally go back to visit some of the residents I first met over thirteen years ago.

Enough about me. My mom has been asking me for some time to give her a guitar lesson. I left an old classical guitar at my folk's house that she has been playing around with for a couple of months. I am always amazed at the projects or goals she takes on. A couple summers back, we took an introductory Spanish class together, because she wanted to be able to better communicate with the folks she was visiting in a Peruvian community her and my dad would be visiting that next fall.

I only taught her three chords on the guitar, but she did great. I'm looking forward to teaching her more, and hopefully next time, if I remember, I'll get a picture of us playing together. We're learning "I'll fly Away"- one of my favorite songs to play.

Until next time folks.

Helping the poor

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Over due update

The last couple weeks seem to be a blur. Seems to me, it has been mostly passed by studying, working, and bike riding, with a few epic hunts mixed in. I'm sure I have some pictures somewhere, but I think for now- I'm just going to start fresh with what I can remember about the last weekend.

On Sunday, my dad and I headed south towards Chapel Hill for an open house at the school of public health.
Some of you may know, I am currently in a certificate program through UNC- taking some of the core public health masters classes..

The program, Health Behavior Health Education, was having an open house for interested applicants.
I had only been to Chapel Hill once with Peyton passing through on a trip down to Asheville. A good friend of mine, Andrew, went to law school in Chapel Hill and was able to give my dad and I some suggestions for places to check out on our trip. We had coffee at an awesome coffee house in the woods- literally, called Cafe Driade. We also checked out a local market called Weaver Street market, similar to Richmond's Elwood Thompson's. We finished the night with dinner at Carolina brewery on Franklin St. Unfortunately, the night ended with a Steeler loss to the Ravens,but all in all, it was a great evening exploring Chapel Hill.
The Open House started bright and early Monday morning. Without going into too much detail, I really enjoyed the school, the professors and students I got to talk to, the areas of research faculty are involved in, the international and domestic opportunities for the summer practicum, and the warm, welcoming feeling felt by everyone I came in contact with. The school definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways.

Before we left Chapel Hill, my dad and I walked over to the school of orthodontics, where my grandfather had studied over 50 years ago.He was actually a student in the 2nd class to graduate from UNC's program. My dad wanted to see if there was any yearbooks or manuscripts that might have mentioned his dad that we could take a look at. We were having some trouble finding the department because of some construction that was going on, but we found a door that mentioned orthodontics, so my dad knocked. He told the student who answered what we were interested in finding, and literally, within two minutes, my dad and I were handed my grandfather's bound thesis paper. We were both in shock, looking multiple times at the year and name to make sure it was correct. As my dad paged through his father's thesis, I saw tears of joy streaming down his face. This had already been a very special day with my dad, and this just made it that much better. I am thankful for times like these because I know that I am incredibly blessed to have such an amazing father who cares so much about me.
Yes, I might have been the only applicant who brought their parent with them to the open house, but I was proud to have him with me. I wouldn't be where I am today without the love, support, and model that he has given and been to me and I was glad we got to share the weekend together.