Out of the Wilderness

Stories from an unmarried guy navigating through dates, owning a couple of dogs, being a brother, son, and friend, and looking for adventures along the way.


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You can take the dog out of the wild, but…

We were walking, we were wagging our tails, everything was fine then BAM! I’m bleeding with poop in my hand.

How did we get there so fast, you ask? Well, it happens when you have dogs. I took Piper and Asia to a nearby greenway, one of my favorites because it runs along Mill Creek in south Nashville. About a half-mile in we left the pavement to go down to the creek. They were panting so this was a great opportunity for them to cool their little paws in the rocky rush of cool water. Totally would’ve been awesome had they not discovered something in the brush near the creek that day. I didn’t know what that something was but I could see they were both chewing it. I made haste to remove it from both their mouths, having to do a finger sweep on Piper before she ingested the substance. I usually can scare Asia enough to command obedience, but not Piper. When she’s in the wild, she’s a wolf in beagle clothing… a scavenger in every sense of the word. I say that to help paint a picture of me trying to remove what she was eating, and her actively resisting that idea altogether. She was consuming as much as my fingers would let slip by and in her haste, she bit down on my fingers, drawing blood. So now I’m faced with a cut finger that I’m about to rinse in an unsanitary creek. But that’s not even the worst part.

The worst part is I don’t think it was animal poop.

The moral of this story is cats still suck.

-Out of the Wilderness


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My Trip to Vanderbilt for a Body Fat Analysis

Anything you’re willing to do on your lunch break is an addiction. Some people smoke. Some eat food. Me and my friend at work? No, we’re not that normal. We get in my car and drive to Vanderbilt Hospital for a silly annual competition that’s very annual, and actually anything but silly. It all started in 2010 when some medical people came to CMT for health screenings. They mostly just check the basics: heart rate, blood pressure, cholestoral levels, that sort of thing. They also measure body fat percentage. For 4 years this is the measurement my friend and I competed in. Two of those he was less fat, and two I was less, which lead us to 2014. A must-win situation because it’s the all-important tie-breaker. We arrived at work that day of the health assessment with excitement only to find out the Tanita Body Composition Analyzer was nowhere in sight! Are you kidding me? I’m just glad they took my blood pressure before I knew the machine wasn’t there. Will we have to wait another year for the tie-breaking numbers? Devastation ensued. That is, until Jill Brewster saved the day! She said to come by Vanderbilt later that day and she’ll break out Tanita for our annual battle.

Long story short, you’re reading the blog of the 2014 victor! Feel free to clap as long as you want. Although, I don’t know what’s more nerdy. That he and I have a body fat competition 5 years running, or that I’m excited enough to write about it. But it does give me an idea for another post. I’m thinking I’ll call it, “Valid reasons I’m still single.”

-Out of the Wilderness


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As Christian as it is…

“Can we go on like it once was?”

That’s part of “Another Story,” one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands—The Head and the Heart. Every time I hear it, from the very first word, I think of my grandparents Mom-Mom and Pop. I think about the house they lived in for a hundred years it seems. Pop built the house with his own two hands. Does anyone still do that? I miss him and think about him pretty much every day. He died earlier this year. A couple of weeks ago Mom-Mom followed him up to Heaven and now I’m faced with the sobering reality that all my grandparents are gone. Did I learn enough from them? Did I sit and listen to them talk when I had the chance? I will say this, I was blessed beyond compare that my grandparents were part of my life. That they took interest in me as a sometimes bratty child, a sometimes bratty adult. I’m not glossing over the fact that ANY time spent with them was a gift because grandparents like Mom-Mom and Pop, and Me-Mom and Grand-Daddy can’t be common. I refuse to believe anyone else has grandparents as loving, as funny, as devoted to the family and devoted to God as mine were. That will always be a sparkle on the memory I have of them. As Christian as it is to say they’re in a better place, I still miss them. I’m sad.


I’m doing pretty good at distracting myself from thinking about the loss too much, but then I’ll smell Pop’s Sunday church cologne. Or catch a scent that reminds me of their house in Monticello, Florida. I’ll hear Grand-Daddy’s southern voice recalling his time in World War II. Or Me-Mom telling stories about me as a child. In those moments I want to go back. I want to go on like it once was. But I can’t. Time doesn’t move that way. I can only hope the memories don’t disappear. And what I can take from this feeling of loss is to carry on the family name. To carry my grandfather’s pocket knife. To see gray hair on my head as a blessing that I might get to live as old as they did. To have my nieces and nephew think of me the way I think of my grandparents. Yes, I’m fun. Yes, I’m up for adventures. But just as important, I love them. And I love God. I will not stray from that. I will not stray from Him. I can’t.

This is 2014 and I’m 35 years old. I know I’ll look back and see this as a pivotal year for me. I’m excited about that, but sure do wish my grandparents were here to see it.

-Out of the Wilderness


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Dairy Free Weekend, 6 Months Later

How many vegetarians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
I don’t know, but where do you get your protein!?

The biggest challenge was a week-long family reunion in Florida 3 months into my altered diet. Grilled fish. Coke floats. Pancakes. Pizza. Burgers. Food I would’ve indulged in had I not jumped in with both feet on a challenge from my arch nemesis Nick Shell late March 2014. But avoiding those meals wasn’t difficult at all. No, it was explaining why I felt the need to bring bags and a cooler full of my own food for the week. It wasn’t just about being competitive (Nick challenged me to a dairy-free weekend). It was about making a positive change in my diet. What I didn’t know at the time was that it’s also changing my life.

My dad’s dad had a heart attack in his 60s. My dad had a heart attack in his 50s. I suspect my brother and I will, too, at some point. I can’t believe I sat on that information for so long without thinking what I put in my body can, at the very least, maybe help me avoid the same fate. Thankfully, they both survived, but I don’t want to survive a heart attack. I want to avoid it at all costs. Did I think this way 7 months ago? Not so much. But 6 months ago the wheels started turning, thanks to that challenge from Nick I mentioned. Since I suffer from allergies, Nick proposed that eliminating dairy might reduce the symptoms of these attacks. I thought, “I’m on board with that!” My unofficial motto became, “I hate allergies more than I love ____.” Fill in the blank with cheese, milk, ice cream, whatever.

Long story short, I took it a step further by adopting a “vegan plus” diet for at least a month. It’s been that way for over 6 months now. The “plus” is because I eat honey, and I don’t think vegans smile upon that. Whatever. I like local Tennessee honey. For me, it’s not about saying I’m a vegan, it’s about having a healthy body. But the craziest thing happened… this diet didn’t just change my meals, it’s changing my life. I’m almost ashamed of what I used to eat. I even have recurring dreams where I eat a burger, or most recently, a Gigi’s cupcake. Even in the dreams, I feel remorseful after. Waking up is a feeling of relief! And that’s exactly what this has done for me. I had to wake up. Funny that it wasn’t my dad’s or granddad’s heart attack, but it was a friendly dairy challenge that woke me up. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, just want to shed some weight, or you’re curious how food can affect your overall health, there’s basically an alternative for everything you currently enjoy. But you have to want it. You have to love your goal more than you love the food your giving up. I’m also beginning to see how what I eat relates to sleeping better, playing sports better, being stronger, being a better Christian, and with hope, avoiding any sort of heart failure later in life. Not to mention, I haven’t taken an allergy pill since day 1 of this challenge and only recently have dealt with sinusitis (which I believe is unrelated to allergies, although it has similar symptoms).

Half of this journey is about adding in healthy food, but the other half is about cutting out unhealthy food… things like boxed dinners, pop tarts, soda, frozen pizzas, high fructose corn syrup, any sort of dye, etc. I recently stumbled upon some information that I can’t not share. I’ve been editing a documentary about Autism produced by a friend of mine (click here for the trailer), and have been enlightened on the disorder in many areas. One of which is diet. It seems that food plays a major part on the behavior of kids and adults who have the diagnosis. And what’s even more startling, the very disorder itself might be caused by the diet of the parents before conception! There’s a lot of talk about dyes in food, artificial food coloring, heavy metals in food, sugar, gluten, casein, and more, that play a direct role in the behavior of people with autism. That stuff has got to affect the behavior of every person, don’t you think?

This all started with a dairy-free weekend challenge but it’s become so much more. Whether it’s learning about my own diet through an autism video, discovering that I don’t crave the food I once did, or loving God more through treating my own body well, 2014 is about getting roots. Digging into a healthier way of living that will change the rest of my life, and possibly generations to come. That’s enough motivation to keep on keepin’ on.

-Out of the Wilderness


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Fantasy Football Week 4 Update

Let’s talk fantasy football, shall we? Since, oh I don’t know, about 5 games into last season I was looking ahead to this season. Why? Because my beloved Billy Oceans were still looking for their first win. It took 4 more weeks to find the W. Yeah, it pretty much ruined the entire fall season for their owner… me. I’d show up to work Mondays and Tuesdays with a chip on my shoulder. But Tuesday nights the clouds would clear because that was when players on the waiver became available! Then Thursdays Yahoo! gave their expert opinion on each player’s outlook for the upcoming week. Forgetting the previous week couldn’t happen fast enough (and often didn’t). I was desperate for a win, no doubt. I ended up with a disastrous 1-12 record. Embarrassing from any angle.

But rising from the ashes, the Billy Oceans exploded into the 2014 season with a 1-0 record. A feeling of relief when I get my second win… which hasn’t happened yet. I’m 1-2 now and the ghost of seasons past could very well be walking up the driveway. If I don’t win this week (week 4), the bone-chilling thought of a repeat season will tumble around my mind like a lone shoe in the dryer. Loud thumps I can’t ignore. But my tight end already got 20+ points from 3, yes 3, touchdowns on Thursday night. Thank you Larry Donnell! Because of you, my actual tight end is relaxing a little… till Sunday rolls around.

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