You Can Too!

“You can too!”

The first 13 years of my life were fairly normal; a farm boy living in a small town doing the things farm boys do, working, playing, going to school, church, participating in sports. That ENDED shortly before my 14th birthday. As I looked down at my mother’s near lifeless body, which was force-ably ejected after a head-on collision with another vehicle, I knew right then the life I once loved was gone. I was the first one on the scene. If it wasn’t for that hill that obscured the view of the collision, I would have seen it with my own eyes. But boy, did I hear it. That sound, the smell in the air, is as vivid today as it was nearly 40 years ago in June 1972. By July 11th, she finally succumbed and passed on from massive internal injuries. It took many years, but that was just the first obstacle I finally overcame.

You can too.

Four years later in 1976, at age 17, I found myself flipping in the air in a vehicle I was driving. Me and a couple of high school buddies, who had traveled from California to Kansas that summer on their way east, stopped by for a visit. We headed to a party outside of my little hometown at night in my father’s Ford Bronco. We never made it. I missed a turn, the pickup rolled, ejecting my two friends, one of whom lay partially pinned under the right front tire. As one friend recalled later, he swore up and down I lifted the front of the pickup using nothing but my hands so he could pull our other friend out. We all survived, but the friend who was underneath the pickup never played high school football again. He nearly lost his arm. Somehow, I overcame that obstacle as well.

You can too.

Less than 7 years later, after moving from Kansas to California, obtaining a college degree from San Diego State almost entirely on my own, I stood on the tarmac of the airport in Great Falls, Montana. It was January 1983, night-time, snow falling heavily, and I had no means of transportation. I’d arrived there for my first job out of college, lying on the employment application that I had a vehicle, a requirement for the job. I was desperate, almost out of money, and needed work badly. Walked 6 blocks to work for the first few weeks in the snow until I was able to buy an old used Ford for $500, using my first credit card. Wow, I thought I had it made. A $1,000 limit! I found a way, I overcame again.

You can too.

Now we’re in the year 2000, 17 years later. After a bitter and long-fought two year battle, I found myself divorced and granted residential custody of my two children, who were only 7 and 5 at the time. By then, I had moved up the chain of command at the local bank in my role as loan officer in the town where I grew up, a position I eventually held for 20 years. Meanwhile, I continued to oversee and manage a 4,000 acre dry land farm operation that raised wheat and grain sorghum, hiring a friend to handle the day-to-day labor. A single father who made sure his children were properly fed every day, took them to school, worked at the bank all day, and managed the farm on the side. I wore a lot of hats. Social life? What was that? All I ever knew was work. But I played too. Again, I just kept going.

You can too.

And then my whole world began to fall apart by early 2007, shortly after my children left to live with their mother. All those years of “play?” My solace was in the drink, it was where I found peace and comfort, a place to shut out the pain, the pain from all those years of hard work and worries, worries about my children, my work, the whims that mother nature threw at my farm operation. I was lost; emotionally, physically, spiritually, and deeply in debt from a series of unfortunate and costly errors in judgment. By June, 2008 I lost nearly everything, including my own life three times from catastrophic alcohol withdrawals. Lost my job, my home, my children, and my freedom. And as I sat there inside that 270 square foot concrete and steel cage known to it’s occupants as “The Bullpen”, after being arrested for the third and FINAL time for driving under the influence in 13 months, I thought my life was over. I really did. “This is a nightmare” I kept telling myself, “This isn’t happening!” It did. The man who was once the envy of his peers in banking circles, a well-respected farmer, loving single father, the man who hadn’t had so much as a parking ticket in TWENTY-FIVE years, was at the end of his rope. But I didn’t give up. Something deep deep down inside began to stir, an inner spirit guiding me, telling me “To get up, to keep going. You’re not finished yet.” I did. I overcame yet ANOTHER ending.

You can too.

What does all this mean to you? Does this inspire you? My story isn’t any more tragic than anyone else’s. In fact, in some circles, it might pale by comparison. There’s people “out there” who’ve gone through a LOT worse than I. I know this to be true. I’ve seen them face-to-face. I know them personally. I’ve seen 20 year old kids who having nothing left to live for. Their whole life has been nothing but hardship and pain. I’ve seen grown men, who were once at the peak of their profession, in the prime of their life, reduced to tears with nothing more than the clothes on their back and a few coins in their pocket. I’m dead serious about that statement.

Why am I telling you this? Is it to gain favor or sympathy? No! I can’t say that loudly enough. My only purpose and mission in life now is to take all of these experiences, both tragic and triumphant, all of the lessons, strength, faith, courage, and indomitable will to survive and give them back to YOU; overcoming my mother’s horrible death, overcoming a car crash and helping to save a friend’s life, the glory of putting myself through college, getting my first job with little more than what I could carry in my hands as assets, reaching the pinnacle of success both personally and professionally, and finally, overcoming the biggest obstacle of all; finding life after near death from a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease.

So after reading this, look in the mirror, then close your eyes. Look at your life in your mind’s eye and if you wonder if you can keep going, if you can overcome all your worries, heartache, despair, and grief, of whatever kind or fashion, let my words and my story rest firmly in your mind, and then tell yourself…..

“I can too!”

  1. You are forever my favorite author.

  2. I’m going to believe in what you say: I CAN TOO!!! And, I just got home from going to lunch with a friend and talking about all the problems that seem to accumulate without no sign of stoping and came to the computer and read your statement. I needed that right this moment. You’re a kinf of God send so I’m going to make it One more time! Thanks my FRIEND! Maria

  3. That was beautiful Gus!! As always! Thanks for sharing, and for instilling hope. Love and Blessings to you my friend.

  4. Oh Gus, The things we struggle with. I to have been on the struggle, why me pity party train……..and I am sick of it………. I CAN TOO get out of it… Hanging on for my life, but I Can…….

    • No pun intended or to shed the light on me, but I wrote the freaking book on “pity parties”, excuses, and the worst case of “poor me’s” you’ve ever seen Judy. Somehow, I overcame that. Thanks to God and guts. 🙂

  5. Gus! We have a thing here we call “name it and claim it.” You have now done that, very eloquently I might add; and now you are ready to move to the next level. And, you can too. It is time for you to start your book you know!

    Gus, I just survived a very bad accident on the 4th, the 2nd in 12 years. Again I was spared, my poor Jeep is totalled, and I am dealing with all of these insurance adjusters, lawyers and doctors and therapists as I am hurt. Thank God it is skeletal muscular and not a lost arm or something of that nature. My biggest injury right now: loneliness and a broken heart. No one ever died from that, I don’t think! So, we shall plod along but remember that life is a vapor, as you have seen over and over; and it is here in the moment for us to enjoy. You have named it and claimed it and now you can move on. I am trying to do the same.

    It is a very unselfish thing you do here, for others, and I do believe it is your purpose and passion, to encourage others. People fuss over you, but truthfully, it is a thankless job. So, you do not need to apologize for asking for help, because you have made us a part of your family, and I can tell you, you are a part of mine. My prayers have been with you daily for a very long time.

    You are at the threshold of a breakthrough to another level. It is the fruit from the seeds you have sewn here. I can’t wait to see what it is!

    Thank you for this encouragement. God’s love to you, Gusto! ox

    • As always, very eloquently stated and deeply appreciated Jacki. Here’s to better days ahead for YOU! 🙂

  6. Thank you Gus, we are given lessons and gifts. In every lesson there is a gift and in every gift there is another lesson…

  7. Gus we all have our crosses to carry and our crossroads in life, it depends on us which crossroad we take.Often times we tend to take the cross that will carry more heart ache and pain before seeing the light in the far off distance. Yet with each event in our life there has/is a lesson to be learned at times we cannot see the lesson even thought it is right in front of us, sometimes we have to step outside the box in order to see. Often time’s people say to me you have had such a bad life or a hard life it always upsets me when someone says this I have had a great life, I have just had bad things happen in my life, I’ve have a awesome life. I spent many years in a abusive life and by the grace of GOD I was able to leave it alive, many woman are not so lucky. I raised eight children on my own and made many bad choices,I was not a good mother, I learned how to be a good mother nothing comes without challenges and sadly Gus even our children pay for our mistakes. I often say to my children now be all that I wasn’t what ever you felt I did or didn’t do for you as a child, then do it for your own, be what I wasn’t. Life doesn’t come with a booklet we make our own book.
    Be well,

    • Thank you Trish. It’s true, the best we can do is to share the lessons we’ve learned with our children, from both good and bad experiences, and pray they’ll use them as adults. My hat’s off to you. 8 kids on your own. Wow! And your attitude is amazing! Thank you SO much for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts here. Rest assured, they WILL be remembered! Love to you and your family. 🙂

    • Gus I hardly read email these days often time’s it is unwanted so normally I delete all without even looking. I do follow you tho on facebook, I often time send your thoughts onto friends I find could use your words of wisdom and at times I even post them on my group page, so don’t think just because someone isn’t reading your email, some are still following you on facebook…

      • Thank you again! You pretty much nailed it, we all get flooded with emails on a daily basis. Thankfully, this time more have chosen to read this one. That was no mistake and I’m grateful and humbled He’s directed you here! 😉

        • Gus I’m going through such a horrible time in my life, at times I feel like I’m losing my mind and my heart .I have been bisexual for the last 18 yrs and have only dated a few women in LTR, after my last breakup I started seeing a male friend of five years we always had a close connection I went to his house back in April and spent a week had a great relaxing visit and went back again last month and spent 8 days but we had chatted daily the whole time I was gone and I found myself falling in love with him, after spending 8 days with him and he knowing my pass history with men and what happened to me I was able to be intimate with him a few times and this really made me fall in love with him deeper I came back home on Monday we spoke every day/night every 2 hrs and spent hours on the phone,he was suppose to be here Friday night, he said he had trouble with his truck, he would be here Monday. the last two days he has pulled back and is very distance from me, nothing like he was before when I ask him what’s wrong he tells me nothing but we all know when something is wrong. Before I left I said to him if your going to break my heart do it now while I’m here don’t play me along or string me along, he assured me he would not and that he loved me and would see me he has been saying this right along but something is different I feel it with every fiber of my being and my heart is slowly being ripped out little by little. I can’t eat, can’t sleep puking my god I’m 53 and have to tell you I have never felt this kind of pain and I do not know where to place it or put it. I have not been intimate with a man in 18 years I never thought that I would ever be able to again after my pass exp. I gave him a part of me I had kept safe for so long, that no one would ever be able to hurt me again, yet he I sit at 4 am crying to a stranger my heart is shattered,he is all I think about 24-7 to the point I vomit,haven’t been able to eat in days,sleep don’t come,Then his ex tx me today and told me that they are thinking of getting back together she has no idea he was seeing me and i never said a word just said I was happy for her and hope it worked out this time Then to make matters even worse my engine blew in my car yesterday and living on disability I have no means of getting another one and before I could lease go for a drive. I’m so crushed i trusted him with everything I had. crying to hard now thanks for listening

          • Trish, I replied via private email. Please let me know you received it. Thank you. Hang on!!

  8. Okay I’ll admit, I’m one of the ones who never clicked a link on your emails. But I did this time and….I really *needed* to read this Gus. Thank you.

    And Trish, I love that last line in your post, “Life doesn’t come with a booklet we make our own book”. Amen!

    • Thank you SO much Rebecca for doing so this time. I truly appreciate it. I put a lot of heart into this post and not ashamed to admit, a tear or two. I realize everyone’s lives are extremely hectic and they don’t always have time to pick up what I lay down. I’m VERY grateful this came to you at juuuust the right time! God Bless you! 🙂

  9. Gus, I reread the post tonight. I also read it when you sent it last week and thought the same as now….I wish I could do much to help. You are on a journey that is selfless and time consuming. Please don’t feel you overstepped your bounderies….not at all. We all need to be able to call for help and we all need help. Guidance from someone is priceless. Please know I appreciate you for being you…your openness, and your honesty is awesome.

    • Thank you Rhona. It’s been a little discouraging lately for me, but I’m not throwing the towel in yet. I’ll just keep beating the drumbeat steadily. People will respond eventually, those who are meant to. Thank you always for your words of encouragement, your love, and your friendship. God Bless you! 🙂

  10. My dear friend Gus,
    It is 4:00am & I am starting to nod off so I will be brief. After just reading this inspiring and inspirational post of yours, I immediately shared on my Facebook wall with a little intro about you. I get easily sidetracked online what with 2 iPhones & a kindle fire, on all 3 of which I am switching back & forth between sites, so I did not want to chance forgetting to share your post. You were so forthcoming, so honest and humble, and at the same time so inspired & inspiring! I think of you any time I say or hear “Go for the Gusto”! Your resilient zest for life is refreshing and contagious! How can one not feel hope & strength after reading your words?! I am honored to call you my friend, as well as grateful for your kindness, compassion, sincerity, genuiness (is that a word?) and support. You are an angel whom I have connected with for a reason…this I know…and in time more shall be revealed…
    Love & Light … Lisa xoxo

    • Thank you Lisa! I’m more aware than ever that people have SO much going on in their lives and when they get ANOTHER one of “those emails” many simply delete them without ever reading them. I’m very grateful you’ve chosen to not only read it, but also to come here and read the full story. I feel very Blessed you’ve done so. 🙂

  11. Gus…All this positive encouragement hopefully, assures you that you are wanted, needed, cherished, and loved in not just our mailboxes, but in our lives as well. Friends and family call on one another when needed. I feel that if you have received some junk mail for asking for help, putting your name out there, or whatever one wants to call it, then those people truly just want to take, take, take from those in their lives. You are entitled to take what is given, though those of us that truly know you know that that is one of the most difficult things for you to do…ask for help from others.
    Much love and continuing on silently,

    Maria, Trish, Rebecca, Rhona, and Lisa, if you think he is honest, forthcoming, and tells a heartfelt bio…check out the Ramblings archives, though it sounds as if you already have. This man not only has brought himself out of each and every tragedy in his life, but continues to walk along others by using his words, heart, and time guiding us to overcome each tragedy in our own lives.
    Forever grateful!

    • Good to hear from you LeeLee. You are VERY perceptive, a trait borne from your own tragedies, LIFE-CHANGING tragedies. We both know that. Yes LeeLee, and to anyone else who reads this, it has, is, and always will be very difficult “being me.” I’ve put myself “out there” on the line, laid my heart out on the field of life for nearly 4 years, in the hopes someone will pick it up and realize that, in spite of the massive scars, it continues to mend. It beats strongly for mankind. Is that a boastful statement? I think not. Is it idealistic or realistic to think and live in this manner? Did the Wright brothers shy away when everyone scoffed at them? Did Edison when he invented the light bulb?

      I’m a visionary. I have a mission and purpose. That mission is directed by God. I believe that. And in so doing, I get bombarded at times privately via email and even phone calls, with horrific stories of pain, tragedy, and despair. Sometimes those whom I help turn against me, calling me a fake, a false prophet, one who’s only seeking monetary benefit for himself. RARELY, if ever, do I share those stories in a public manner, at least up until yesterday. I won’t go any further than that.

      Suffice it to say, I’ll never stop believing. I’ll never stop giving. I’ll never stop giving BACK that which I almost lost in life itself, all the lessons I’ve gained since being plucked from the ashes of darkness, despair, and literally at death’s door by the One who brought me into this world. My SOLE purpose is to carry that message to others; a message that life is simple, we just make it too complicated. It’s a message of HOPE, PROMISE, and Everlasting LOVE.

      My thoughts are always with you LeeLee. As is my HEART and my SOUL. 🙂

  12. Gus,

    I’m not sure if you remember me or not. I have wrote and deleted and wrote and deleted and wrote and deleted some more! I would just like to say that I’m EXTREMELY proud of you! Not many people go through what you did and come out kicking! Not only kicking but thriving! You’ve learned from your mistakes and bettered yourself! I’ve read several testimonials and almost all your blogs! It amazes me that you too are helping people! I hope you realize that’s what I try to do on a daily basis. But I also understand during that dark time in 2008 I was not your favorite person! I completely understand that! During those time, with everyone, all I want is for them to get help before something tragic happens. Although I didn’t know you before 2008, I heard you were a high ranked official in our bank and a well liked person in our community. It’s unfortunate how we meet! You may not think this but, I’m glad we did! Again, I’m extremely proud of you! Congrats on all your accomplishments and many more in the future!

    • Oh I remember you for sure Justin! Of all the people at “Doc Holliday’s Inn”, you were the most human. 🙂 158 days that changed this man’s life!! Still have all my daily journals and memories, take the good with the bad and move on. Cheers brother! You have a nice looking family! Take care.

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