Joule Mtanos placed the barrel of his assault rifle into his mouth, pulled its trigger, and heard the “click” of a misfire. This episode is about a USMC veteran’s life after surviving suicide, how to stop your mind from spiraling deeper into depression, and the ways that everyone can use the worst moments to lift up others.

As always, let me know what you thought of this episode by reaching out to me here.

Paul Alkoby makes fitness look fun. Over the past few years he’s worked as a videographer and photographer for cross-functional fitness companies, including CrossFit and, most recently, The Tactical Games. One look at his work and you’ll catch yourself saying, “I wanna do that.” 

But how Paul got to this position was a winding road of uncertainty, filled with self-doubt, and fears of failure. 

Like many veterans, Paul felt disenchanted with his career choices after service. The options seemed bland; lacked existential purpose. So Paul returned overseas, this time as a private contractor. 

That, he realized, was not the answer for “what should I do next for my life.” 

But a newfound love was forming. While Paul was traveling a lot to fulfill his contracts he picked up a camera to help a gym he loved run their social media. He soon found himself wandering during free hours taking pictures of anything that looked remotely interesting. He was beginning to love the camera itself – adjusting shutter times, aperture, etc

So began his calling. 

As Paul started sharing his work more and more people reached out to him for his eyes to get on their projects. They wanted to see the world Paul saw the world. 

Naturally, Paul’s initial clients were in the fitness industry – where much of his work remains today. 

Through this journey, Paul has helped showcase incredible athletes and programs that are changing people’s lives. 

Among the topics of our conversation, Paul and I talk about 

  • Creativity as a means to achieving mental health 

  • Concerns over privacy in the digital age 

  • Overcoming imposter-syndrome 

  • What to do when you feel completely disconnected from your work 

  • + MUCH MUCH MORE! 

As always, let me know what you think of the show! And until next time, Stay Resilient.

At one point Jeff Sabins was the most blown-up United States Marine in service. Meaning, no Marine wearing a uniform faced as many IEDs as him. But we don’t talk about that in his story. Because Jeff sees himself as more than a warrior. He sees himself as a loving father of a child recovering from a brain tumor; and as an author who just finished his first book, The American Terrorist. 

After Jeff’s son was diagnose with a brain tumor, his life was dedicated to being beside his son. And soon, it was dedicated to being there for families undergoing the same. Soon after his son’s cancer went into remission he was later diagnosed with autism – which, as Jeff explains, is more common than not. The Sabin family dynamics forever changed. 

Along the way Jeff noticed that the difficulties of navigating the medical system felt unduly cumbersome and isolating. On a mission to ensure that no families had to endure similar difficulties without having a community, Jeff and his wife started fromtumor2autism.com. This platform instilled hope in the Sabin family, as well as the many others that visited the site. 

Along the way Jeff’s career in the Marines progressed. But the author inside him couldn’t quiet. This, he learned, by writing regularly for his site fromtumor2autism. So, as retirement from the military approached, Jeff put paper to pen, and just two weeks ago published his first book The American Terrorist

What I love most about Jeff’s story is that each chapter feels so isolated from the next. We could have talked the entire time about combat and his near-death experiences. We didn’t say a word about it. We could have only talked about the struggles that his family faced after his son was diagnosed with a brain tumor – it was just an opportunity for them to help others. And becoming a published author….while on active-duty… that’s literally unheard of. Jeff’s character inspires, moves, and stills; and it was an absolutely pleasure to host him on Resilient Us. 

Follow him on Instagram or Facebook to see his latest writings!

As always, let me know what you think of the show by reaching out to me here

 

After a raid gone awry while overseas during his time in the Marines, Kionte lost his right leg. Though he recalls the moments after in a matter-of-fact tone, the truth was the Kionte lost more than just his leg that day. 

He lost his self confidence, his self esteem, his ability to ever walk into a room and not be looked at twice. 

What followed were bouts of emotions he never faced before: melancholy, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 

This next episode of Resilient Us is all about the darker parts of our mind. What happens when you no longer see a future for yourself? How can you manage anxiety, melancholy, depression – will these things ever leave? 

I’m most excited about this episode because Kionte always smiles. But happiness doesn’t preclude someone from suffering from debilitating thoughts. 

After our conversation I don’t think I’ll ever think about depression the same. And since the odds are that you or someone you love suffers from his exact same, tormenting thoughts, it’s a good thing to rethink.

So here’s to renewing our minds for the ones we love, for being there for them when they can’t be for themselves. 

Because really, resilience is a product of community.

 

Mario Romero: Free Will, Prior Causes, and Discovering a New Self

Mario Romero is a modern day renaissance man. 

He’s a polymath whose story doesn’t begin with promises of a prodigy. He seemed normal, even average. Some of his labels were inherited. As Mario so intimately recalls, he was told that “no one in the family is good at math.” So he wasn’t either, he thought. No one in his immediately family had graduated college (let alone an Ivy League), fought in U.S. Special Operations, or started the application process to become an astronaut at NASA either. But Mario has since done all these things. 

His accomplishments began with him challenging his prior causes, the moments in his life that defined what he thought he could and could not do. Mario was fed up with these prior causes, and believing them to be lies, set out to disprove their narrative. 

What culminated was a nine year journey in the U.S. Navy SEALs, where he was selected to join its most prestigious team, DEVGRU. After his time in the military Mario struggled – as so many veterans do. He never joined believing there would be a day after his time in uniform. Then there was. And he was left to figure out his new identity; with bruises and wounds on the inside and out.  

Having proved himself physically capable of some of the toughest challenges in the world, Mario applied the same approach to academics. He believed that he could become “good at math.” That it was just like any physical exercise – he just needed practice. Subsequently, he excelled at community college and continued his education at Columbia University in the City of New York – where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Pure Mathematics. 

Now, Mario works at NASA as a member of their dive team and trains astronauts in high-pressure environments. His next dream is to be an astronaut. 

Most peculiar to Mario’s story is his obsession with free will. How much of these accomplishments was actually his choice? He didn’t choose to first believe he was bad at math, did he? Did he choose to challenge the prior causes, or was it another cause that sent him into challenging his identity? 

While this conversation feels abstract, it suggests an interesting challenge. 

Where do we draw the lines to where the self begins and where it ends? And once drawn, can these lines be redrawn? Only through the proof of our lives can we answer these questions; through journeys with paths yet paved. Because, just as we’ve redrawn maps of the physical world, and our galaxy through exploration, so too we must explore and – and redraw – the map of ourselves.