Join Dwight and his special guest, Clint Hatton, in this impactful episode of Give A Heck Podcast!
******SHOW TRANSCRIPT AVAILABLE BELOW LINKS*****
On Part 1 of their 2-Part conversation, Clint, who is an author, motivational speaker, personal development and leadership coach, and founder of BigBoldBrave shares his inspiring life journey, from overcoming hardships and addiction to helping individuals and organizations reach their full potential.
Listen in as Clint discusses the importance of associations, how they can impact a person’s life, and the power of positive connections. He also opens up about the tragic loss of his son, Gabriel, and how he believes in processing emotions together as a family. This episode is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the power of perseverance, faith, and support.
In this episode, you’ll learn about…
- Clint’s life journey, including his struggles and successes.
- The impact of associations on a person’s life and how negative associations can affect them.
- Overcoming addiction and breaking patterns by changing associations.
- The importance of faith, support, and positive associations in tough times.
- The importance of grieving and processing emotions to move forward positively.
- And much more!
About Clint Hatton:
Clint Hatton is an author, founder of BigBoldBrave, speaker, and personal development coach. He has lived a very layered life, having gone through tough trials and suffered from hard losses, including being a former drug addict, a divorced pastor, and losing his 17-year-old son in a tragic plane crash in 2019. He is also a deliriously happy husband to his wife Amárillys and a dad to three amazing boys, Gabriel, Joel, and Liam. Clint has inspired many people to be courageous humans despite the challenges they face in life.
You can find Clint Hatton on…
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FULL SHOW NOTES BELOW:
Thank you, Dwight. I sure appreciate you and I’m really looking forward to this conversation.
Yeah, so am I. I look forward to it. Just developing the questions and the process and flow for today’s show. I was completely touched because I’ve had experiences not to the same connection level as you, but we’ll talk about that as well, of people passing and how it can help stagnate our lives and how it can cause us to become very introverted or hide from society. And there’s so many things that it creates in our life, and I think our listeners, probably my listeners, need to hear about that. And I guarantee there’s going to be a lot of people that can relate to you and the pain and suffering and joys and trials and tribulations that you’ve gone through throughout your life, not just from the not defined by one thing, right. That’s what happened to your son, which I’m sorry that happened, but we’re not defined by that. We’re defined by our whole lives. So one of the things I want to start out with, Clint, is the fact that I talk about people’s origin story all the time. For me, in order for me to know, like and trust anybody, even my clients or people that or I’m a client of, I need to understand that their life isn’t so rosy, it’s not all pixie dust and rainbows that’s things that have happened, right, that have created Clint to who he is from his earliest recollections. So do me a favor, brother, and share with me your origin story from your earliest recollections to where you are at today, please.
Yeah, I’d be glad to your point. I couldn’t agree anymore. Life is kind of a series of ups and downs and victories and some setbacks and mild. Life is no different. So for me, early on, my life started out what I would consider to be, quote unquote, normal. I grew up in sunny Southern California, just a place called back then it was called New Hall. Now everybody calls it Santa Clarita. It’s just a northern part of La County, but I grew up sunny weather. I was an athlete. I love baseball, I love football. Back in those days, giving away my age a little bit, you could be out at all times and nobody really cared until it was dinnertime where you were, and it was just really a lot of fun. And I enjoyed my life. My parents actually had me really late. They were in their 30s by the time they had me. I have an older brother who was eight years older. As a matter of fact, I forget about myself, about my own story, but my mother had actually had a partial hysterectomy. She was supposed to have not been able to have children ever again. And so, surprise, I came along eight years later. Anyway, I say that because by the time I was about eleven years old, they’d already been married over 25 years. And so life was good, normal things happening around the house. Like most places, I would see them argued from time to time. And it wasn’t like it was Shangrila all the time, but life was good. And then when I was eleven, that’s when my world got rocked for the first time and had to really go through a really challenging time. My dad ended up having an affair on my mother. And they were from a different generation. My dad fought in the Korean War, so they married when he was 18 and she was 16. So they were very young. And so your listeners can only imagine for my mom what that was like. And he didn’t just cheat on her, he ended up moving out and he moved in with his girlfriend. He moved in with her and her son, who was a couple of years older than me. So obviously not only was that painful, but it was also incredibly awkward. I just found myself in this awful scenario that so many of your listeners, I’m sure can relate to. And what ended up happening was my mom, they had parties, they would drink, but I wouldn’t consider them heavy drinkers or alcoholics by any stretch. But she did not handle his affair well at all and didn’t really know how to cope with it. And so she ended up drinking really heavy. And this whole scenario I’m going to give you, Dwight, lasted about two years. I’ll kind of fast forward to this part in that they did end up reconciling and ended up married for 65 years by the time it was all said and done. But this, this was a really crucial time of my life where it had an impact on a long term impact on me. So during this two years, she ended up with suicidal ideation, tried to commit suicide a few different times by just drinking a lot and taking a bunch of pills. Thankfully it was unsuccessful in that, but she also had a couple of times where she had been drinking really heavy, and I was on the scene and almost took me with her one time was in a speeding vehicle when she had drank a lot and decided she wanted to just end it all. And I was in the car, and we spun out on this little two lane road in Southern California that a lot of people have actually lost their life. It’s a dangerous road. And we spun out at about 65 miles an hour. Just missed hitting a tree, and that was a pretty scary moment. And then later on also, she was going to take her life with a handgun, or at least was threatening to. And my dad and I both jumped on top of her, and she actually was in my closet, of all places, and wrestled the gun away from her. So, you know, there were some pretty traumatic experiences that really kind of shattered this. What I thought was up until that point, pretty normal childhood. So the end result, I think, for me immediately was I began to drink, I began to take drugs at a very early age, 1213. I was already experimenting with this stuff, I think. Dwight the one thing that certainly helped me not go completely off the deep end at that age was I was an athlete, and I was a, you know, successful athlete at the levels that I played at. And so I love competing, so I would stay sober long enough to be able to compete and practice and, you know, do the things I need to do. But it was a really challenging time, and it kind of came to a crescendo, if you will, when they got back together after a little bit of time, after he lived with this other lady, and they decided, hey, let’s move away. Let’s get away from it all. Kind of a familiar story we’ve all heard how well this works, which is almost never right. We went from living in Southern California to literally out in the middle of nowhere, Montana. It was a place called Derby, Montana, a small town, southwestern Montana. So for a California kid, that was massive culture shock. One thing that was cool is I did love the fact that I could go. We had 20 acres on the Bitterut River. We were building a log cabin, so there were some cool things about it. And I was able to buy a shotgun, and I had a handgun. And I’m like twelve years old and roaming out with my two Labrador puppies and hunting and fishing and doing whatever I want to do. So there was some fun in there, too. Dwight. But what ended up happening was about two and a half months into living there. My dad was supposed to begin. He worked for a Pacific Bell back in those days before it broke up. And at and T eventually bought the mountain, so he had transferred. But he didn’t start that job until about two and a half months in. So he was home the whole time that we’d been there up until this one point. So one day he’s supposed to be driving to I think it was Billy’s forgive me, on where he was supposed to go helen, excuse me. Which was like a five hour drive, so we were only going to see him on the weekends, and we found out a day later that he actually never arrived there. He jumped on a plane and left us there and actually flew back to Southern California to reinstate his relationship with this other lady. So here we are now, stuck literally out in the middle of nowhere. My mom ended up selling the house, the property, literally in one day. I found out later as I got older, that they took a pretty substantial financial hit, as you can imagine. But anyway, next thing I knew, two days later we’re back on a plane to Southern California. And so that’s when the drug use, the alcohol, all that stuff, really began to be a big part of my life.
Well, you had a lot of different circumstances that have happened in your life, and that’s why the origin story is so important to understand. Because everything that we develop in our lives is based on patterns. Right? It’s patterns that we see from those that we hope are having our best interests in mind, but don’t necessarily really have them in mind. They’re so involved in their own six inches between their ears. As I coach people on your patterns from your past are developed by their patterns in their past and somewhere along the line, what are we going to do to break those patterns so that we don’t teach our own children that? And if you don’t have people listening, if you don’t have children, even if you don’t have children, you don’t want to propagate those patterns into your life to where you become that person, as Clint was mentioning, that you went through from as early as twelve years of age drinking and drugs to going away from it to back to it. Athletics stabilized you somewhat for a period of time. Yeah. So your mum ended up selling and you guys moved back to California. What happened from there? What happened in your life then?
Yeah, well, they ended up reconciling. And as far as my parents relationship, I’ll just kind of set this part of the story, just kind of finish it. Our relationship, I would say reconciled to where I had a good relationship with my parents probably by the time I was a late teenager, early twenty s. And so the relationship itself, we got along, I spent a lot of time with them. There wasn’t really any long term issues in that regard. But certainly what I didn’t recognize was to your point and the things that you just so eloquently put the patterns that had already been set, the trauma that I had suffered during that stage, that I thought I could just man up enough. And of course, drug and alcohol became a coping mechanism that I could just move on with my life. And I even remember, even in my early teens, twenty s, this wasn’t a story that I talked about all the time. I’ve always been someone who’s willing to be vulnerable and that kind of thing, but it’s just not a story you typically tell unless the conversation lends itself towards that, right? And so anytime I’d end up in a conversation like that, they would say, well, are you bitter against your parents? And do you think that you’re angry? And all this stuff. And I would always say, back in those days, I would say, no, I’m fine. I’ve moved on. But obviously, the older I got, the wiser I got, the more I studied the way it works, even neuroscience, and some of the other things that I’m very interested in, just recognizing how those trauma situations can develop thinking patterns and faulty systems. So one of them, honestly, was in in this one, made a lot of sense. I had many girlfriends over the years. I actually had a failed marriage, which we can we can talk about the marriage now. We’ve been together almost 20 years, and I have an amazing marriage, but I had some failed relationships along the way. And any time anything came up within that relationship that regarded cheating infidelity, it would set me off. It’s the one thing that would get me very angry, and at times I was very verbally abusive. There were times in certain relationships, and these are things I’m not proud of, that there would be some shoving and throwing things and punching holes in walls. So there was a lot of those type of behaviors that when I was experiencing those in my late teens and didn’t know to correlate those with some of that early trauma. So there was a lot of that. There was a lot of those patterns. I tried to just move on with life again, I went back into athletics and just kind of poured myself into that, which definitely curtailed the drug and alcohol use. I would still party on the weekends, but it wasn’t like this consuming thing. But again, I had a couple of things happen. In my senior year of baseball, I was returning all star shortstop. We had an amazing team. Everybody thought we were going to take it all the way. One of the top teams in southern California. And I blew up my knee the first game of the season, literally in the first inning, I played a couple more innings until I just couldn’t walk anymore, and it was over, and it was devastating, devastating blow. So, once again, how did I cope with it? Well, I couldn’t even run for a year. So I drank a lot, then got kind of a positive mindset going again for a little bit. Thought, okay, I can rehab, I can go, I played both baseball and football. I can go play junior college football and I can try to get a scholarship and then continue that play four years and maybe pay for my education. So I got excited about that after about a year of rehabbing and moved to Northern California because my parents said retired up there. At that point I didn’t have any active offers, partly just due to the fact that I just come off a cash rack knee injury. So man, I’m going for it. First year, made second team, all conference. I’m excited, things are going well. Second season, 7th game of the year. I suffer my second catastrophic knee injury, only this time it was three ligaments cartilage tendons. It was bad. And so Dwight, it’s not really embarrassing to say, but it’s sad to say at that stage of my life that’s the only goal I had was to continue to play football and hopefully use that to further my education. But if I’m being honest, the football was a little bit stronger of a motivating factor than the school. That was it for me. I stopped going to school and this is what’s going to lead me into when I got into really heavy drug use. At that point, the football, the college career was, was toast. And so I got to make a living. I had some friends that I knew that had gotten into the car business and now I’m 21 years old and they’re making money. So I’m like, cool, I’m going to become a salesperson, I’m going to make a bunch of money. Well, little did I know that that’s and I was still drinking during those days, but little did I know that’s where I would actually be introduced to meth. And so started doing meth with some of my coworkers and that began about a nine year journey of meth being a pretty prevalent part of my life. And so again, lots of alcohol abuse abusing meth and other things. Just a total train wreck really. Even though, and I’m going to say it this way, I don’t know what you’re thinking when you hear nine years of meth. I know for me, and I think most people, when you think of someone who’s addicted to meth, usually there’s some sort of prejudice that pops in your head of some kind. For me and the areas that I grew up in, in Southern California and then where I lived in Northern California, the image was always of this white dude with a bunch of tattoos, rotted out teeth, that’s living in the park and pushing a bike around with all three of his belongings. That’s what a methead looked like to me.
My experience though has been it’s always professionals that are the biggest abusers of it. White collar tie suits. Remember what I write as a finance dude, I have seen and heard it all. I’ve had family members that have been clients cocaine, crack, meth, heroin, now fentanyl. So I don’t judge anybody. Some people listening might, but I’m telling the listeners. The reason I interjected is listeners, you know what the facade of life and I talk about this all the time if you were to open up the doors of most people’s lives and look past the facade, they’re not who you think they are. Even your closest family members, and this is going to really shock people, even your significant other that you think you know so well, whether you’re married, not married, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever the case may be, they’re only telling you and representing what they want. That doesn’t mean that they’re not trying to be genuine. But people have things that compartmentalize about their past that they’re not willing to share, and they’re good, bad and ugly could be demons. Right. So I would never judge anybody that would tell me, like when you said the nine years that didn’t phase me. I know people that have been addicts and destroyed their lives and are no longer around. Right, yeah. All I do when you said that, I felt compassion, actually, I felt empathy, because it is a real hard battle with what you’ve gone through, brother. Right. And the end result, the end story is we’re going to continue to proceed on, is you’re a fighter and that’s good. Good for you. Keep on going.
Well, no, and I appreciate you saying that because that really was just kind of my privileges back in those days. But my story, my experience was I was a professional salesperson, and really, aside from the people that I partied with, my family, just as you just said, people outside of that had no clue that I was doing all that kind of stuff. There are times where I’d be up for three days at a time. We worked really long hours in the car business, and then we would get once a month off from Thursday night until Monday morning. And it wasn’t uncommon for us to literally not sleep from Thursday night until Sunday night. I had this crazy lifestyle where some people saw me a certain way and then others knew. Right, so exactly to your point. But really, ultimately, where that led me was I ended up getting married. And as you can imagine, for someone who’s abusing a lot of drugs and alcohol and she drank too, and we both had tons of skeletons, lots of trauma, and I don’t want to share intimate details on what she went through. We still are kind to each other this day, and that’s her story to share. But she had a lot of really hard things happen to her at a young age, too. So neither one of us were equipped to be in a healthy marriage. Neither one of us were equipped to be a healthy husband or a bride. It lasted about five years, but what ended up happening in about year four was the meth use had pretty much gone down dramatically. It was very rare, although we still drank a lot. And one night we decided, and I don’t even remember what the motivating factor was for it, but we just decided, hey, let’s get some crank. Let’s go have a good time. Let’s stay up all night. And so we decided to get some. So we did the whole deal. Where any of your listeners who have ever been in this kind of a cycle knows it’s such a crazy, stupid thing. You’ll sit for hours waiting to even get the drugs. You’ll sit in front of houses that you don’t know if DEA is getting rid of Raid. It comes with so much baggage, that kind of lifestyle. And so we did it that night and all I remember is I woke up the next morning and of course you’re never going to feel great coming down off of anything like meth or any hard drug for that matter. I just felt like crap. And I just remember thinking, I don’t want to be this guy. This is not the way I want to live my life. I don’t want to be identified as this kind of a person. And so I’m done with a meth and I like to call these courageous decisions. But I made a courageous decision that day that you know what, as far as meth use goes, I’m done. And I quit, and I quit cold turkey. And that was at 30 years old. So that’s been 27 years ago. And so, you know, obviously any time you eliminate something like that in your life, there’s going to be an improvement even if you do have all these other issues. So I was feeling more clear headed and felt like I had a little bit of a compass. But a second thing was happening during this time as well. We had gotten involved in a direct selling company. It was a nutritional company. You already know I was an athlete. So even though I did all these crazy drugs and alcohol and abused my body in certain ways, I still like to work out, I still like to supplement. And so I got involved in this company and it turned out that a lot of the people that were in it were not only very successful, my upline was one of the ones that was actually on the COVID of Success magazine. Made a boatload of money very quickly, all this stuff, but she also took an interest in me personally. So up to this point, faith wasn’t really a thing for me, but I knew that that was true about her. And so I would get involved in these workshops and these seminars and I would go to these weekend events where there would be a lot of talk about mindset and just realizing that there’s so much potential inside of you if you’re just willing to do the work, if you’re just willing to tap into it. So I began to think differently about myself. I began to think that maybe I’m not just that former athlete who can beer bong faster than anybody else. I mean, seriously, that was one of my identities. That was like a thing I could out drink even though I wasn’t that big. I could out drink just about anybody even twice my size. That wasn’t really what I wanted to identify the rest of my life with. So I was having these like, you know, strange experiences where I’m making bad decisions and things that really can hurt me. And at the same time I was making some decisions that were good and that were helping me. And so after I decided to stop doing the math, I had this upline. Her name was Kimber. Invite me to go to church. I’m like, as a matter of fact, she asked me several times. I’m like, I am not a church person. No, just not interested in that. But ultimately, here’s what happened to me. It was very interesting. I ended up going and at least consciously I did not go because I was seeking religion to become a Christian, to follow Jesus, however you want to characterize it. It was for one simple reason. The one thing, I reckon because I spent a lot of time with these people and what I recognized was they would have bumps and bruises and the gut punches alive too. But they seem to respond to it a little differently than I did and they seem to have a little bit more peace and they seem to have more calm. Whereas with me when things would go south, I would just freak out and I’d be angry or whatever. So I went and ultimately that’s a day that I gave my life to God. So for me I’m a believer and so now my mindsets were already shifting and now I’ve got what I believe for me has been really critical foundationally. I have a faith in God that there’s something greater than me out there. And all those things began to work. But funny enough, I’m at the tail end of this five year marriage now and I felt like I wanted to minister to people. I felt like I was going to end up working for a church. Had no idea what that was going to look like. But my ex wife wanted nothing to do with that. And she served me divorce papers on December 23, two days before Christmas of that year. And I remember Dwight being so pissed off because there’s that rejection again, right? I was so angry when she laid down the papers and I stayed that way. And this is going to sound corny, it’s going to sound like I’m making it up, honestly. But that lasted for about two or three minutes, this anger, and then all of a sudden, and I don’t know if it was God speaking to me, if it was just me speaking to me, it really doesn’t matter. But I just had this thought, why am I so angry at her? And the conversation shifted and we end up talking to Wyatt for probably 3 hours and it was calm and it was courteous, it was kind, and we ultimately divorced, but we just realized that we were such a wrong fit for each other. There were so many things that both of us needed to grow in. So it ended that marriage. So here’s this life that’s great and it’s not great and it’s moving forward and it’s taken two steps back and it’s this seeming just mixture of good, bad and ugly. But after that I really felt like, okay, now I have an opportunity to start over. And that’s effectively what happened. And I ended up really thinking about and praying about three different cities because I knew I wanted to move and start over refreshed. Ultimately I ended up in Dallas where things would really begin to change for the positive.
Right on. People listening are watching. Life is a culmination of hills and valleys. You’ll be at a high one moment, the next moment you’re stuck in the valley of despair. One of the things I wrote down, Clint, you were talking, was associations. And it all ties into even with you wrapping up with what happened with your failed marriage. Our associations are so key. We can get together with somebody because of a similarity or commonality and it could involve addictions and all of a sudden we change and we have to because I’m a God fearing person. You have your come to Jesus moment and your eyes are open differently. Yes, the whole process started from an MLM, which is how I ended up getting started in an MLM years ago, back in the early ninety s. And how I got into my six inches between my ears and dealing. With that mental grief or that grieving that I was going through because of all the trials and tribulations hills and valleys that I had gone through. All of it piles on top of one another. And when I had to look back, it was all based on association. I was associating with people that were boohoo boohoo with me and throwing more coal on the fire so it would keep on burning instead of and I didn’t know how to get out of there. So I appreciate you bringing that up. When I got involved with an MLM and I was going to those same events and listening to that same information and here, read this book, here, listen to yes, I’m going to date myself. Here, listen to this cassette tape. And then all of a sudden it was CDs, et cetera. But bottom line, people listening are watching resounding. You. Need to understand that it’s associations and by you changing your association and giving it, giving your life to God, it changed your life, but it also affected your relationship. Of course. Right. Because that was based on a former pattern that you were stuck in but decided not to be stuck in anymore. The person you were with, they wanted to stay on whatever thought process they were because you can be addicted to a negative thought process. Addictions aren’t always alcohol and drugs or sex. It can be just what do you watch? You’re associated and addicted to shitty TV or shitty movies or you’re in a group or association where you all get together. All it is, is you play baseball. Or in our country, people curl there in the winter, but there’s baseball, basketball, and they’re drinking, I call them drinking leagues. People get together and they play sports for a couple of hours and they spend the next few hours getting drunk or some of them will be drinking while they’re playing baseball. It’s like amazing what we can tie together. And as well as that association connection, you keep on that pattern, you’re going to get the same results. Like Einstein said, do the same thing over and over again. Expecting different results is the definition of insanity, right? So good for you, right? You broke that pattern. So those listening, you can break the pattern. But especially my loyal listeners that have listened to me a lot, I talk about the different things that you can do in your life to break those associations. Will it hurt? Will you go through grieving? Absolutely. Guaranteed. Clint went through some AHA moments, but it also might have caused some depression because you think of the past or some anxiety because you’re worried about the future. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. That’s my point. Right, but associations are where it’s going to change you. And for some people that association to God, for me, going through divorce, going through all the trials and tribulations I’ve gone through, god was my savior, my anchor, right? And I’m not afraid to say that for those that don’t believe in God that listen or watch my show, I’m all for you too. You can believe in nature, you can worship whatever you want, the universe, just be kind and be a good person and associate with the same type of individual. That’s where you’re always going to stay on the climb in life and you’re going to avoid the value of despair more often than not, when your associations to what you watch, listen, or who you hang out with change and you stay that way. So I appreciate you sharing. Is there anything else you’d like to share? So you got onto a different path. You basically had that conversation, you got divorced, you moved, you decided to end up in Dallas, and life has continued to move on since then for you. Yeah, right. So is there anything else you want to share about origin?
Man, I love everything you just said, and it’s so true.
Take a moment. There’s nothing wrong with it.
Your origin history, because that’s the story of its own.
Yeah, well, again, you share what you feel comfortable sharing. I’ve had people where they share their.
Lot of cut out.
Oh, you’re getting cut out. I’m sorry, just 1 second. So we were talking Clint. I had asked you if you wanted to add anything in regards to your journey from Dallas to where you are to now.
Yeah, well, first of all, I love what you just shared because it is so critical who we surround ourselves with. And what was interesting for me when I came to Dallas, I had come here. I mean, I sold all my possessions. I didn’t even have a job. It was quite the adventure, but I just knew I was supposed to come. And what ended up happening, Dwight, is I started going to a church and a lot of amazing, friendly people, and I would occasionally go out to lunch or whatever with people. But during about a two year season there, I really spent a lot of time alone as well. And I know that doesn’t sound healthy all the time right off the shoot, but I think for me in that stage, it was so critical because you mentioned anytime you’re making a courageous decision like this, you’re going to battle some emotions, you’re going to feel some things. And I did. I really did. I remember being in my bedroom, and sometimes it would be worshipping or reading the Bible and stuff like that, but sometimes it would just be in there thinking. And there were many times where I shed a lot of tears. I felt shame for a period of time of getting a divorce, you know, keeping in mind that even though my parents obviously had some really difficult parts of their journey, they they had stayed married for 65 years. So I had felt this failure that I, you know, couldn’t make a marriage work. And so there was all that stuff going on. But at the same time, I had a mentor. He was my pastor that I would talk to on occasion. And more than anything, much like you, I became a ferocious reader. I read all kinds of different books on how to just be a better human being, just to be a kinder human being, how to become a better husband. I got books specifically because I really felt like I was going to get another shot at it. And so I read several books on how to be a better husband. We did not have children, but I felt like I knew I wanted to have children, so I had read books on how to be a great dad. And so it was a critical season because I really believe as important as it is to have those people around you, and I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s still no one more powerful in terms of the things that you hear as what you tell yourself. And so it was in reading those books that I began to tell myself a different story about who I could be, what kind of person I could become. And then, because of that, the things that I could experience, including a healthy marriage and being a great dad. And so a couple, maybe two and a half years went by, and I ultimately ended up meeting my bride of almost 20 years. Now we’ve got a story that, quite literally, you would need another show, and just you’re going to have to trust me on that, okay? Because we didn’t just meet and then we were married right away, although that would have been awesome on my end. But there was about a two year journey in our relationship, too, that had some twists and turns and some things, but ultimately, we did end up coming together and getting married. And my oldest son, Gabriel, was with us during that season of our lives and just started to move on. I got into ministry, although I wasn’t a pastor at that time. I worked for an organization that did stuff, different events and stuff around the world. And we bought a house, we bought a car. It was just life was getting on track. But even with that, Dwight, it didn’t mean things were perfect. And we had some hits and some bumps along that journey, too. In the early parts of our marriage, after Gabriel, we wanted to have another baby, and we suffered a miscarriage, like so many of your listeners are going to be able to relate to. It’s one of those clubs that nobody wants to join and you don’t just go around talking about all the time. But I’ll never forget after it happened to us, we ended up meeting and talking to so many people, so many of their even close friends that had never divulged that they went through that, too. So there was that, and so we were able to process that and move on and just choose to continue to live our life and have hope and faith and all those things. Then my middle son, Joel, comes along, and we’re ecstatic because she goes full term. I failed to mention that with Gabriel. She had preclampsia, so he was born three months excuse me. He was born £3 12oz a couple of months early. So he was very premature, and that was because she had pre clampsy, and they had to, you know, do a C section to basically make sure both of their lives were safe. So Joel comes along, and she goes full term. So we’re ecstatic thinking that all right, this time everything’s going perfect. I go into the room after he’s I think it’s important to share this part. She was stuck at, like, a two for, like, 12 hours trying to give a natural birth, and it was just brutal. So we finally gave up, did a C section. So I’m in the room where Joel is getting cleaned up, and I’m holding him, and this is amazing. And all of a sudden, one of the nurses comes in and grabs me and says, we need you to come with me. And we go into the recovery room where she was, and she wasn’t coming out of the anesthesia. So, you know, that went on for another couple of hours. Very frightening night. Obviously, you know, it ended up working out, and she ended up being okay, but just another scary moment, you know? So after that, you know, they told us, well, you should probably wait a while before you try again. And we’re like, It’s okay, we’re done. Two is a nice even number. She’s had two really difficult pregnancies for different reasons. And so we’re done. And we were done. We were done. Dwight that was it. And five years go by, and you begin to see these little nudges, right? She never expressed it. She never gave any kind of pressure at all about having another child. But I would see, she would pick up every stinking baby that was within a 20 foot radius, right? Every opportunity she got, and she would hold them for way longer than I thought she should.
Oh, my gosh. You can just see it. And I’m thinking, no, it can’t be. And I certainly did not bring it up for some time because I was afraid of the answer. But ultimately, we ended up having a conversation one day. And I think at that point, I really feel like God was softening my heart towards the idea. And so ultimately, what happens is we decide, all right, we’ve got two boys. Let’s try for a girl. Now, I’m still not exactly sure how that works, because the methods are pretty much the same as, got you the first two, but we end up with, of course, a third boy. So she’s pregnant with a boy. We weren’t upset about that at all. It was like, okay, fine. We’re boy parents, apparently. And again man by now, we actually lived in Washington State at this point. We had gone on staff at a church where my mentor from Dallas actually took over a church up there. And life is good, and she’s, like, six months pregnant, and things had gone again. Pretty normal. Just little sickness here and there, but nothing big. So literally, I’m leaving one morning to fly to Louisiana because we’d spent I know I’m giving you kind of a shotgun story here, but we’d spent a little bit of time in Louisiana and had a home down there that was during the housing crisis. This is between 206 and 208. Could not sell that house. It set for almost two years. And so we finally decided, okay, we’ve been living out of a suitcase, literally for over a year in Washington. I’m going to go, I’m going to meet movers over the next few days, going to bring our stuff up. We’re going to move into somewhere stable, and whatever happens with that house happens with that house. That was kind of where we were at. So I leave that morning, fly all the way to Louisiana, takes you one connection all day. I get to the airport, Dwight or I land. I get in my car, and as I start to drive away, I call her and everything changed. She said, I don’t know what has happened, but my blood pressure has skyrocketed by now. It was like way into like 210 to 20 range, over 100 something. She said, they’re taking me to our hospital right now, and they don’t know what’s going on. We may have to get birth tonight. And of course, I’m in Louisiana and we’re just freaking out. So ultimately I had to stop at a Walmart on the way to our home because I was going to buy supplies to do this move, and I get to the house. So I called her back once I got there, which was like an hour later, and she said, things have gotten even worse now. They’re going to transfer me to another hospital, to a different doctor that we didn’t know. She’s going to a specialty Niku unit because they’re going to have to take the baby probably really soon. And so they end up giving her a shot of steroids, which they do. This is three months early. She was at 27 weeks. So at that stage, they give you steroid shots, not for you, but for the baby to hopefully accelerate a little bit of the lungs and the heart growth, just enough to buy a little bit of time. And so that’s what happened. So I was literally in Louisiana overnight, and that was it. I was on a flight by a 07:00 A.m. The next day, got back in time and we ended up having Liam, which is my youngest son, at £1 14oz.
So another just gut punch. Scary thing, but we’re in this really amazing neq unit, so we’ve got faith, we’ve got people praying with us. We’re really hopeful that this is going to have a good outcome. And ultimately it did. He ended up you have to test for two years. We went through all that stuff. You go to an appointment, there’s like four doctors, they’re doing speech, they’re checking his speech, they’re checking on his growth, they’re checking all this stuff, cognitive ability, all these things, and he made it through. And so it was just another one of those challenges that we went through as a family that I think began to develop some resilient muscles, if there’s such a thing to where ultimately where I know we’re going to go at some point. When we got dealt our biggest blow ever, our family had a track record of being able to persevere and get through some really tough stuff.
It’s tough, though, like, everything that you’ve shared. I don’t know how the listeners are feeling about this, maybe the people watching, but at the end of the day, I don’t care if you’re God fearing or not God fearing. It took me forever, Clint, to realize that things happen for us, not to us. And we don’t always have to like what happens for us, but if we have the proper associations and we have the proper connections to people that support and love us and we stay connected and unified to God, the answer appears it comes out of nowhere. And you know what? I can tell people listening. It’s not going to happen. Sometimes immediately. It could be a year later, two years later, it could be weeks later. All you got to do is the biggest thing that people are lacking today is faith. Just have faith that there’s a reason for things that happened. You don’t have to like it. And from that, we’ll go into that conversation about your son, Gabriel. I personally, as I mentioned earlier, have never lost a child personally, but I did lose a grandchild at four years of age in 2017, and it shook and rocked my world, brother. And I’m still dealing and coping with it. My oldest daughter, who was her daughter, we spent years in the hospital, and I won’t get into all the details of it, but there was undiagnosed. They weren’t able to diagnose what was wrong with her. They had specialists from around, literally the world trying to help out. Our local children’s hospital diagnose her. And when she passed away, she passed away shortly after her fourth birthday in 2017. She had spent already two of her birthdays in the hospital. Right. Her second and third birthday. And she had a reprieve when we held her fourth birthday in this house, and she literally passed away. I won’t get into the details as to why or what happened. We just don’t have the time, because this is about your pain, but my point of bringing it up is I can feel for it. I understand that. I see the pain still in my daughter going to be six years later. Right. And it it rocked her world, but it also changed her in so many ways. Initially, not the greatest ways for her and her significant other, but the proper support, the proper guidance, it’s not always going to be enough. You still have to be willing to want to change, and you have done that. And that’s why I want to delve into what happened to your son. You lost your son before he was 18 years old, so I got a few questions about that. How did you deal with because you mentioned this when you filled out the form, you talked about it. I believe it might have been in your bio. How did you deal with it personally, explaining it to your two youngest children when he passed away? How did you deal with explaining it not just to your children but to anybody?
Can you talk about that and give some advice to people when they need to explain the loss of a loved one to somebody?
Yeah. Well, first of all, I’m compelled to say I’m sorry for your loss. That’s a big hit and a big blow. And even when you have told my story so far, and I want your listeners to know this before I launch into what has been our greatest challenge is that we’ve never been of the mindset that pours me or that all these bad things happen to us. These are just the challenges of life that you don’t ask for that appear, and then it’s really how you respond to them. And so our mindsets and our value systems have really gone a long way in how we ultimately responded to losing Gabriel, which I’m about to launch into. But that’s a big key. And I’m saying this do I want you to know why I’m laying the foundation here really quick and your listeners too, because there is a lot of pain out there right now. There are so many people that have suffered some form of a loss and there’s been tremendous forms of loss since 2020 and the pandemic and all the effects of that and all that stuff too. So I’m wanting to be very sensitive to this, but specific to the loss of a loved one and especially a child. I do believe going into our tragedy, I did have a slight advantage. Now, my advantage was not with the pain I was ultimately going to feel. Nobody has an advantage over pain. But the mindsets, the value systems, some of the things, the foundations that we had built that helped us get through other things. And at that point, I had been a pastor for 17 years, so I had helped a lot of people. I had coached and mentored a lot of people who had suffered some really significant losses. And I had seen, unfortunately, many times a marriage ends up in divorce through the loss of a child or families just completely implode. So that said, I wanted to frame that because I think that’s significant with what we dealt with that morning. So it was a hellish night, the night that Gabriel it was September 23, 2019. He actually was just trying to get some hours. He was doing great. He flew a friend home to the University of Arkansas, which is a few hours north of us, just getting hours and on the return trip suffered from spatial disorientation and unexpected weather system had come through and ultimately crashed and lost his life. But that night was a hellish long night. We knew he went down at about 08:00 p.m.. And Dwight, we could talk for an hour on what that night was even like. But ultimately, we didn’t have definitive.
Or proof that he indeed was dead until about 330 in the morning. And that was because the coroner basically notified us that he was indeed gone. There was a lot of confusion that night that had gone on prior of whether or not he was fine or not fine. So it wasn’t until about 730 in the morning that my two younger boys even got up. We let them sleep through the night. They had no idea what had happened, so they came out. By then, we had one set of grandparents that were here, and of course, they knew something was up right away just because of their presence. My father in law is a chief of staff of a large medical facility, so he should not have been here on a Tuesday morning. So they just kind of looked at me and, you know, I just said, Boys, sit down and do I I cannot tell you the words. As far as how I told them about Gabriel passing, I just frankly don’t remember. It was I call it the impossible conversation. It was heart wrenching. Heart wrenching. And there was all the things that your audience would imagine screaming, crying, just extreme emotional responses. And then however long it took for us all to kind of gain our composure, it was then that I knew as the father, and just knowing what I knew, as I explained a moment ago, that we really were at a crossroads and that there were some decisions that we could make very early on that were going to go a long ways towards how we would respond and ultimately the quality of our life moving forward. And so I looked at the boys and I said, Boys, we have two choices. We can choose to identify with his death. I called it a death mentality, meaning that we can choose to always look at it as the tragedy itself. It was a tragic plane crash. He was pursuing his dream, but he died pursuing his dream. All the birthdays milestones, all the stuff, right? And ultimately, we’re going to continue to experience those milestones. But if our focus was the tragedy and the loss and the death, then we were going to suffer needlessly for the rest of our lives and be a shadow of who we were created to be. And I told him, there’s a second choice, and the second choice is, we’re going to choose the way your brother lived. And, you know, I didn’t share really much about Gabriel, obviously. We know it’s quite an accomplishment to become a licensed pilot at 17 years old, but he was the consummate go getter. He was so adventurous. He didn’t let fear, risks anything get in his way of the things that he wanted to accomplish. I have a couple of guitars behind me. I wish I could say I learned to play them. I have not but Gabriel literally taught himself how to play guitar because he wanted to. He became an amazing photographer, and I’m so grateful to this day. We have some amazing photos of some of his work. He just attacked life. And I joke now that everybody loves a T shirt with a catchy phrase. If I bought one for him today, it would be, what’s next? Because that’s how he lived in his life. And so I told the boys, I said, this is how he lived. And as I see it, there’s only one way that we can truly honor him, and that is if we make a decision today that we’re going to live the same way, not do what he did, because we’re all different, but we’re going to live the same way. And that’s what we’re going to do.
License session, right? And that’s the best way to look at it and how I’ve gotten through so many losses in my life, from best friends committing suicide, to best friends getting in car accidents, to my granddaughter. At the end of the day, grief is real. But you’re right, you have to make a choice. Are you going to live in, I wouldn’t even say pity or wallow in the fact of them being gone, or are you going to honor them by honoring your own life and realizing this life, sinceession it’s not a dress rehearsal, it’s time for us to live like they lived. And especially with, like you said, with Gabriel, you attack life, right? What’s next? I love that. So I appreciate you sharing that. Go on, continue.
Yeah, well, that was a great segue. So there was a part two to that, because having that kind of a mindset, and I call the life mentality, is only one part of the equation. We still had the real challenge of dealing with pain and grief. And so I told them part two is, boys, this is how we’re going to handle that. We don’t know how each of us are going to grieve. I don’t know how I’m going to feel from day to day. You don’t know how you’re going to feel from day to day. There’s going to be moments where we’re angry. There’s going to be moments where we’re sad, where we’re going to cry. There’s going to be moments where we laugh, where we’re going to have great joy thinking of just things, goofy things he did, or just the way he was, or certain fond memories. We’re going to experience all of it. And so I told him, and my bride, too, I said, so it’s all good. There’s nothing off limits. We’re going to need to allow each other to feel everything we need to feel. But here’s the key. We’re going to do it together. We’re not going to allow each other to do this independently. Now, you got to keep in mind, my boys, at that time, his younger brothers were nine and 14. So I told them simply, here’s what that means. When you’re angry and you’re pissed off, even if you got a cuss, even though that’s not really how we roll, if that’s it and that’s how you’re feeling, then it’s okay, do it. But you need to know this is a two way street. So I didn’t ask my kids, nor did my wife ask my kids to be honest about what they were feeling from day to day and to process openly and to talk to us about it. And then I was going to turn around and if I’m feeling sad or if I’m feeling something, go hide behind closed doors where they can’t see it so that I can process in private and then come out looking like the hero. Like I don’t go through anything or I’m just that tough. It would have been a horrible message to send to them because in my mind, that would essentially take away their permission to process the way they need to process and maybe even make them feel like there was something wrong with them. That dad, he’s just look at the way he’s leading our family and nothing strikes him, nothing gets to him. I knew that couldn’t be our pattern. And so that was the agreement we made that day and it’s played out. It’s been three and a half years, Dwight. It’s not very long. And so what I love to share, I think this is so important with the grieving side of this and even the mindset and the ability to move forward and live like big, bold and brave, which is where we’re going a minute, is that never took away the pain. There’s nothing about any of these mindsets or the way we grieved and talk things out that took away all of the pain. I think that’s a terrible goal when it’s someone that we really love. I have never asked for, prayed for, nor do I expect to eliminate the pain of losing Gabriel out of my life. Because that pain represents the great love that we shared. So for me, it’s not about pain and being pain free, but it’s really important to feel that pain in its appropriate state and then be able to move to the next emotion. Because, and you know this with what you do, we exchange emotions automatically all the time. We do it without even thinking about it. We’re angry 1 minute and we’re laughing the next. We’re happy 1 minute and then we find out our car engine just blew, whatever. So we automatically, the way we were created, exchange emotions all the time. However, when you’re dealing with loss and setbacks or disappointments and stuff like that, you need to be able to sense when a certain emotion hits you and process it. But then you need to be able to exchange that for something that’s going to keep you moving forward. So if we get stuck in the sadness, that’s where. We’ll live the rest of our lives. If we get stuck in anger, we’re going to be an angry, miserable human being the rest of our lives. But that doesn’t mean I don’t allow myself to be sad or be angry. We did do those things. And I have one quick strike I could share with you. Even this last summer. This last summer, we’re at a 4 July party. This is in Florida. I have in laws that live in Florida. My father in law has a really nice boat. So we’re out on the boat. It’s the 4 July weekend. We’re out on actually a little island. The weather is perfect. There’s tons of other boats. I haven’t said this yet, but my wife is Puerto Rican. So for any of those barriques out there, they know what I’m talking about. Puerto Ricans can put on a party, right? So it’s very festive, very fun, having a great time, and at one point don’t even know what because you don’t need a trigger when it’s your granddaughter or your son. I just start thinking about Gabriel. And I felt sadness coming on. Everybody was either in floats or waist deep in the water on the beach there. And music is loud. Nobody’s paying attention to everything you’re doing. So I just bounced about 20, 30ft away from everybody, and I just sat there and I wept. And I’m not talking, heaving, weeping. I just had tears streaming down my face because I needed for some moments to just miss my son and wish he was there. And that went on for like 30, 40 minutes, which sounds funny, but I’m telling you, it was a big party, so nobody’s paying attention to me. And then I knew it was time. It was time. I allowed that sadness to process. I was able to do it in a way that didn’t, you know, distract from other things going on. You know, I couldn’t have done that in a boardroom. Yeah, but I did it. And then I bobbed my way back over to where everybody was. By then, they were jumping into the back of the boat to get food. And I exchanged my sadness for joy, and we had a great day. And I shared that experience with my wife because nobody knew what I was going through at that moment. Later that day, I shared that experience with my wife and my boys. And so I just think learning to be able to process your pain and the setbacks and things like that is really important. If we bury them, we all know there’s so much data of how damaging that can be.
Well, yeah, you have to acknowledge that you were triggered. And I talk to people all the time about the best way to put it. Time yourself out. Sometimes you need to accept that you can be as positive as you want. You can read all the books in the world, listen to podcasts, hang out with positive people and things will all of a sudden grip you and you have to make a choice at that time, how are you going to deal with it? And if possible, not all the time, can you because you might be around people, time yourself out? Right. I’ve left circumstances and just made not a lie but a reason why I need you know what? I’ve had something come up. I need to leave. Can we deal with this later? Can we wrap up this conversation? Can we deal with this? And I’m never lying because something has come up. I’ve felt my body triggers for anxiety. I’ve felt this other thing go on. And I know that these thoughts are in my brain. And if I’m going to salvage my day and my loyal listeners know what I’m talking about, if I’m going to salvage my day and not say I’ve had a bad day, I’ve just had a character building bad moment, I need to time myself out, and I need to go deal with it and then come out on the other side. Being happy, joyful or content. You don’t always have to have joy on the other side of that feeling. So thank you for sharing about that because I practice that. I’m a working project the rest of my life till God takes me, you know, and I’ve had my last breath. I am always going to work at never, ever having a bad day. And it’s been at least five years since I’ve had one. Right, but what you said is so true. We need to check ourselves. We need to acknowledge how we feel when we compartmentalize it. It eats away at us and it drags us toward addictions of all type. And addictions don’t have to be drugs or alcohol. You can be addicted to being sad every moment of the day or angry. So I love how you shared that. I really appreciate that. Right?
Yeah. Another thing I like to add to that, too, is for your listeners, is it’s not about perfection either. I don’t want to imply in any way that we’re this, like, superhuman family and we’ve been able to process all of these things according to our own methods perfectly. We haven’t you know, you’re adapting but to life. And as you said it, you said the word. I love the word. You said it. You said practice. We practice these things. We recalibrate on a regular basis. It’s not about doing these perfectly.
It’s about having a compass that keeps recalibrating you back to where you need to be to be able to move on and not even move on. I actually hate the word move on when we start talking about a loved one. You never move on from a loved one, but being able to move forward.
So, Clint, we’re coming up on our hour of conversation. I have been doing this quite often lately, having a part two. The reason being is you’ve shared so much great information. You’ve been vulnerable with us. And I don’t want to leave my audience or you or myself hanging because we have so much more that we can talk about, that we can delve into, that you could be that person that changes one person’s life just because of your vulnerability. And what you need to continue to do for helping others is to share. And if you’ve already agreed that you’re willing to share, I think we should have a part two.
I love it.
Yeah. So we’ll wrap this up. I normally end the podcast with how do people reach out to you and what’s one last closing message? But we’re not going to do that for the simple fact that part two, we’re going to delve into even more. And we’ll wrap up with those comments from you and the questions that I’m going to have for you in part two. So I appreciate you sharing what you’ve shared up to now. I look forward to a part two. And we’re just going to wrap this up and tell everybody, wait for part two. It’ll be out next week and in the process, and in the meantime, never forget, it’s never too late to give a hack.