Where am I from?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014





The other day I was hanging out with a friend I've know for like 8 years and was asked where are you from?

I was like . . . really? How do you not know this?

Honestly I don't know where I'm from. My usual response is "All over" and then I recount the places I've lived.

I literally have had the same exact conversation over 6,000 times.

Ask any of my best friends or mission companions. They can recite it by heart.

Here are some cool facts for you Mormons out there.

- I was baptized in a Jacuzzi at age 8 in Beijing China in the Lido Hotel by this guy --> CLICKHERE
- I was given the Priesthood in a old Soviet Theatre in Moscow Russia
- I graduated from Seminary in a country the LDS Church doesn't even exist in ; Uzbekistan

I'm going to give you the cliff notes version of my life for two reasons - 1. I don't want anymore longterm friends asking me things they should already know and 2. I'm curious where you think I'm from.

Lets start from the beginning.

Although my father is a white guy from North Chicago and my Mom is a Black woman from South Chicago I was conceived in Mexico. (both were working in the US Embassy in Mexico city)

When that 9 month mark rolled around they headed North so I could be born in an American hospital in good ole Salt Lake City. - yes I was born in the heart of Utah.

I wasn't there long and I spent the first 2 years of my life in Mexico being raised by a Mexican nanny. My first words were actually in Spanish!

Every few years Diplomats are sent back our Nations Capital for 6 months to a year as they are reassigned to a new Embassy so we went to Virginia to do who knows what?

Then we off to Ottawa, Canada where I believe I skipped kindergarten and went straight to First grade. I don't know if I was actually smart or if Canadians just do things backwards. Probably the later.

Then I was off to Taipei, Taiwan . . . . to do first grade again . . . .(idk? . . . don't ask)

Second through Fifth grade were in Beijing China

6th grade was in Arlington, Virginia

Then we were off and I spent 7th - 9th grade in Moscow Russia

10th grade was is Falls Church City, VA

Now up unto this point I was the only black kid in International schools among all sorts of Nationalities so even though I didn't experience extreme hate or racism, it was always pointed out that I was black.

11th grade my mother decided I need to experiance more of my "roots" and moved us to a wealthy all black community of Mitchillville, Maryland. I'll have to write another blog post on this subject but it was fascinating how I actually became white. I was no longer black I was the "white boy" And instead of pointing out how I was black everyone pointed out how I was white. Its almost hilarious when I think about it. The only time I saw white people was at church. (this will probably be this Sundays Blog post)

Then my Mother got reassigned to a new Embassy moving us to Tashkent, Uzbekistan full of Russian speaking, Soviet union missing Muslims. (they hated the new government)

Because my mother would only pay for a church school and my grades were not amazing I went to BYU Idaho . . . for a couple semesters until I got kicked out.

Moved in with friends in St. George Utah and went to Dixie State University.

Then I went back to BYU Idaho . . . until I got kicked out again and went back to St. George Utah.

At this point I decided my life needed some changing and prepared to go on a mission.

I was called to serve in Rostov, Russia and actually served there for 2 transfers, came home and graduated from BYU Idaho, and then finished my mission in Everett Washington.

Since my return I've been in Provo/ Orem having all sorts of adventures.

So my friends . . . where am I from?

Leave a comment or send me an email at jamesbrandtcurran@gmail.com I'm curious what your response is : )

Its gonna be ok

Thursday, April 17, 2014



Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

Usually I dictate an idiotic and obnoxious moment from my past, and then illustrate how the gospel helped me through it and made me a better stronger person.

This week I just want to reflect on a talk given by a modern day Apostle of Jesus Christ during our Semi Annual General Conference titled - "Grateful in any Circumstances"

There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.
On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long (3-m) loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.
After the meal, the man looked up and said, “Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.”
We can choose to limit our gratitude, based on the blessings we feel we lack. Or we can choose to be like Nephi, whose grateful heart never faltered. When his brothers tied him up on the ship—which he had built to take them to the promised land—his ankles and wrists were so sore “they had swollen exceedingly,” and a violent storm threatened to swallow him up in the depths of the sea. “Nevertheless,” Nephi said, “I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.”


When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.
We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?
Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.
This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the
mind.
(full video below) Nothing is gonna be perfect. In fact you should probably count on things not going your way. But if we can look at things with gratitude instead of contempt then overall our life will just be happier. You don't have to be a Mormon to appreciate that.

Honestly I am not happy with my circumstances right now. I wouldn't wish these circumstances on my worst enemy, but I can be grateful.

The thing I am most grateful for are my friends and family. I have had friends come and support me in droves. People that I haven't even spoke to in years have shown their support. This trial has actually been a small blessing as well. I've even had burned bridges been built back up with a helping hand and a shoulder of support.

To anyone who has reached out and given me any words of encouragement,  to all of those who have offered prayers, and for everyone that has shown me love and care . . . I want you to know that I love you. I appreciate, and love you so much. I couldn't have made it 1 minute through this without your support.

Also I made an amazing decision to get a puppy. 3/4 Yorkie 1/4 Chihuahua. If you are going through instence heartache I recommend thinking about getting a puppy. It gives you a chance to forget about yourself and focus all your attention on something that needs you. The cuter the pup the better.







Selfishness will only bring you a handful of Pee

Sunday, April 6, 2014



I've adopted a puppy.

His name is Mason James, and I love him.



After recently being diagnosed with PTSD stemming from the traumatic abusive events from my childhood, I delved into research about overcoming it.

The obvious answer is therapy which I am getting and using to overcome this frustrating disorder. Another great solution for PTSD is to get a dog. When you have PTSD you randomly have flashbacks or anxiety about events of trauma that occurred from your past. Dogs are supposed to calm you down or give you relief during those awful times.

Although that is probably true for most people, I've found that for the past week and half I've been completely focused on him. Much like a new parent I'm sure there is a big adjustment to having another living thing completely depend on you for everything.

Mason is a 1/4 Chihuahua and 3/4 Yorkie. Yorkies are known for their emotional dependency and constant need for physical affection. Ironically my struggle with providing that type of affection and emotional support to a human is a major reason for why I am in the position I'm in today.

I've had to be completely selfless and humble in order to raise, train, and love this pup, and when I am not there are always consequences.

One instance in particular comes to mind

There Mason was, once again sniffing the ground looking for a place to pee or take a puppy dump. As a good attentive puppy parent I scooped him up and went to take him out side. As I was walking towards the door I saw an open bag of Doritos. I don't know what is is about that snack, but that dusty cheese calls out to me every time. Like a moth to a flame I was drawn to shove my fist deep in that aluminum bag and shovel chip after chip into my mouth. About 5 chips in I realized my palm was getting wet, and after chips 6 and 7 it was very clear that I was getting peed on.

Immediately thoughts of regret poured into my mind. If only I had gone outside like I was planning, instead of being tempted by temporal desires, I would 1; be that much closer to having Mason potty trained, and 2; I wouldn't have this mess all over my hand and floor. Instead of praising my pup for peeing outside I was scrubbing the floor trying to get a yellow stain out of the carpet.

I look back on my relationships and realize why some of them went south. It always came down to either one or both of us being selfish. Putting our own desires above the other's.

Being selfish is tempting just like those dang Doritos. Often we look out for ourselves before looking out for each other. Selfishness is cheesy and will stain your fingers, and if it goes on too long, whoever  you are supposed to be looking out for will probably pee in your hand leaving you to scrub stains out of the carpet.

You can never undue the past but you can learn from it. Sometimes the stain goes away and sometimes its permanent. You have to make the decision if you are going to deal with it or buy a new carpet. I'm pretty frugal so I believe you should try everything you can to get the stain out before making that drastic and expensive decision. 9 times out of 10 with some special help from a cleaner and some serious elbow grease you can get it out.







Mistakes and Apologies

Tuesday, April 1, 2014



When I was 19, on halloween night, a bunch of friends and I dressed up like mobsters put on bandanas and drove around town pointing fake guns out of the car window.



I wasn't thinking about anyone else other than myself.

Later on in the night, as I was driving by the BYU-Idaho dorms, a cop with flashing lights pulled out in front of me to a screeching stop; barricading me from moving forward.

10 seconds later, 5 other cop cars had me circled, and about 8 cops had guns pointed at me and my friend screaming at us to "Get out of the car with our hands up"

I'm pretty sure the thought "I'm going to die" crossed my mind, but mostly I was trying not to crap my pants.

Even in this moment I didn't realize what I had done. My thoughts and verbal explanation to the cops painted me to be the victim and that I hadn't done anything wrong. I was only thinking about myself.

Eventually I learned that a girl who had previously had a gun pulled on her for real, was a victim of our prank. She was deathly frightened and called the police believing that we had threatened her life. What I thought was harmless had given her anxiety, bringing back horrendous memories that I couldn't even imagine.

It took me a minute to grasp what I had done. As I sat there on the pavement with handcuffs behind my back I began to feel so sad and so sorry about how I had acted. I told the officer I couldn't take back what I had done, but to please tell the girl that I was so sorry.

Last Sunday, I did something selfish. Obviously not as a prank, but an irrational rant/vent that caused embarrassment to many people that had shown me love and to someone I was supposed to love and cherish for time and all eternity.

No matter how justified I felt in the moment, and regardless of my childhood past, what I did was wrong and unexcusable.

I'm not perfect. This was not the first selfish and irrational thing I have done, and it probably won't be the last. But I do feel sorry.

I can't take what I have done back but I do want to apologize. I hope one day you all can forgive me.

So often we look for validation and comfort from other people. But where can we find perfect love in all time and in all places? Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. My hope is that I look to them next time I feel like I'm in a situation I cannot handle. Only they can provide the support that comes from 100% empathy.

James


Climb the Mountain

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we prove our dependability, he will increase our capability" - Neal A. Maxwell


Thank goodness I have a Sister who is so loving and willing to drag me to her singles ward.

The thought of going to mine alone just weirds me out. Its a ward specifically for young newlyweds. Showing up today would be like walking into Prom alone, it just doesn't feel right for you or for anyone there.

Today's theme in church was all about trials. Surprise, surprise . . .  God is trying to talk to me.

One of the speakers in Sacrament meeting illustrated a story about climbing to the top of Provos illustrious Y mountain. 



This guy, after 3 years off, decided to start running again. In order to help him through this transition he reached out to a female friend of his who was an avid runner. He left it up to her to choose where they would run. She chose the "Y". Yes . . . she proposed that they run to the top of this mountain his first run back. In order not to look weak he agreed.

The hour of the run came near, and in a panic he scarfed down a can of baked beans for sustenance. He shared that that was one of the biggest mistakes he could have ever made before a run. As they drove up he broke out into a cold sweat of regret and fear. He really didn't think that he could make it. They got out of the car and began walking up the foot hills to get to the gate and already he was out of breath, sweating, and feeling extremely unprepared for what he had signed himself up for. He looked at his friend and told her he wasn't going to be able to make it up the mountian and that he had to give up. His female friend started laughing, but let him know that she wasn't going to let him come this far and give up with out even trying. After a while of communicating, coaching, and encouragement they finally developed a plan to make it up the mountain together. Instead of running all the way up they would jog one stretch and then walk the next, all the way to the top. She declared she would be there to prop him up or even carry him if he needed, but "they were going to get there together"

After about an hour of panting, lactic acid buildup, throwing up of baked beans, and tears they made it to the top of that mountain. He described the view from there as perfect, and shared such a deep gratitude for a companion who helped him get there.

What a wonderful story.

But then I thought what if you have a companion who also feels like giving up, or who wasn't willing to accept help or encouragement? What do you do then?

I've probably heard a million times this week how important compatibility is to a marriage.
And I'm not going to fight anyone on that. Compatibility is important and can definitely strengthen a marriage and be a great tool, but in comparison to your spiritual relationship and the attribute of humility. Compatibility is just peanuts.

When I recently came home from my mission, I started dating a girl who's husband had actually passed away and she gave me a lot of advice about marriage. One time she told me a story about when they had gone rafting together just the two of them.

I'm assuming at least one of them knew what they were doing because they had hit some serious rapids. They had managed to get through most of it but then unexpectedly they hit a large rock and the entire raft flipped over. Frantic, they both tried to swim for the raft but the raft was floating away faster than they could swim and eventually they were left alone to tread water.

I'm sure your first question was the same as mine. "Well, you were wearing life jackets right?" Nope they weren't; and like most of us when a trial appears, were not prepared for it.

So there they were treading water, in the middle of a giant river surrounded by giant rapids. (Not anyones dreams vacation.) They took turns trying to motivate each other to keep swimming and not to give up. That went on for hours and hours. She told me she had doggy paddled so long it got to the point that every movement sent a burning pain throughout her body. Her husband and her were in tears absolutely sure that they were going to die. Throughout all of this even though the husband was a return missionary and they had been sealed in the temple neither of them had thought to pray and ask for help from heaven. When that occurred to her she said a prayer, letting Heavenly Father know that she couldn't do it on her own anymore and was completely letting go - giving full control to Him. As she finished her prayer and began to sink down into the river, unable to go forward she was pulled up to safety from another boat.

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon thearock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

If we get married and rely on compatibility as your "rock" you are in for a long bumpy and hard road, because if there are chinks in your compatibility armor it inevitably will fail. You are also relying on man rather than Christ leaving yourself without our Heavenly Fathers promise.

Marriage is a mountain that makes Mount Everest look like an ant hill, and when you are sealed together for "time and all eternity" whether you realize it or not you have committed to climb that mountain with your spouse forever.

Some couples are so compatible that their biggest trial on the mountain is eating a can of baked beans too soon, but some are not so compatible and have to tread water for a super long time. Either way if we return to Christ as our Rock we have the promise that "we cannot fail". I know that is true.




Whats in the bag?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013






Today was one of those days where you want to curl up in a ball and die.

Where you want to rip off all your clothes,  start screaming, all while kicking large objects around the room with my hind legs like an crazed hyena.

Its not one particular thing thats driving me to this madness, but instead a combination of insanities that are causing me to have high blood pressure.

Also I'm pretty sure I became 50% more bald today, and for about 10 minutes I think I either blacked out or went deaf and blind at the same time. Still not sure.

On top of the the "zoo" of chaos going on at work, I am getting married in 5 weeks and having 2 receptions. I'm taking the GMAT in 3 weeks. And yeah . . . lets just say I'm going through some intense family drama.

I've had better days.

Halfway through my day, I couldn't handle the lunacy anymore, and I decided to take a walk and get a breath of fresh air.

Midway through my walk down University Avenue . . . I got hungry. I looked to my right and I saw Diegos a delicious taco joint in Provo, UT.




As I walked in the first smile I had all day came across my face as I saw the Book of Mormon available for reading sitting on top of Provo's Classifieds aka "Thrifty Nickle".




As I sat waiting for my order, sinking back in to my stressed state of mind, remembering what awaited me back at work, the most touching conversation began. It went something like this.


Diego - "Thats a beautiful ring, are you engaged?"
Girl ordering - "Yes were getting married in January"
Diego - "Oh wow are you getting married in the temple?"
Girl ordering - "Oh . . . No"
Diego  - "Really? Why Not?"
Girl ordering - "Oh . . . that's just not our thing right now."
Diego - "I see . . . well I can tell you getting married in the temple has greatly blessed my life. Whats keeping you from getting married in the temple?"
Girl ordering - "Its just a big lifestyle change"
Diego -"Well do you love him?"
Girl ordering - "Yes. More than anything"
Diego - "Well if you can make some small changes you'll not only be blessed now, but you'll also be able to keep your marriage going forever. Isn't that what you want?"
Girl ordering - "Well ... yes."

I just sat there in awe of what was happening. I asked myself how long it had been since I had a real missionary experience while Diego here was creating one out of thin air. It was apparent to me that Diego wasn't just in the business of turning a profit, but in the business of doing the Lord's work. What a Rockstar. But shouldn't we all be like that? Shouldn't our lives be have an even balance of temporal and spiritual? Isnt  ". . . the greatest and most important duty  . . to preach the Gospel.”

I walked into Diegos with a bad attitude expecting to leave with a bag of tacos. Instead I left with a bag of spiritual inspiration and a new appreciation for the purpose of life.

Whats in your bag?


My Peak at Polygamy

Sunday, November 3, 2013




Im gonna go ahead and speak for the male race for a minute.

For at least one second in every heterosexual man's life, the thought of having multiple wives not only makes sense but sounds awesome. None of us actually give the idea more thought than that because . . . well . . . its illegal; and just would never happen.

I spent the last 3 days with a lot of women.

The Group Skype with Gina's BF
left to right (Paige, Alyssa, Alex, Gina, Lindsi, Hillary, Carly) 

A Giant Bachelorette group of women.

All sorts of women: We had old marrieds, young marrieds, young divorced, recently engaged, recently unengaged, and even recently unengaged that got re-engaged (thats Alex) "wink wink"

The thing I have come to learn about women is that they have many specific needs. And although they might choose to mask them around you in the beginning, eventually those needs will come busting out like an exploding Pompeii Volcano. At that point you have 2 choices. You may either deliver, or choose to run. RUN!!!!! RUN as fast as you can because all HELL is about to break loose. Dating Alex I have come to realize it is much more pleasant to just deliver on those needs. Hence the old marriage slogan "happy wife, happy life"

Well this weekend involved a group of old friends of the female species who haven't all been together in 3-4 years. When this happens its like the Power Rangers all getting together; combining their forces to create and exponentially greater forcefield of strength. When all the pieces of the puzzle are in place there is no stopping them and all outside forces are then ignored.

It was probably just as surprising to them as it was to me, how comfortable they were talking about the female genitalia, menstrual cycles; along with past, current, and future flings / relationships.

The reason for this particular Estrogen Fest of 2013 is actually very beautiful. The perfect wedding of Jenna Metra and Logan Bounds. #JandLwedding


 My attempt to take and artsy picture of the Newport Temple



These two are honestly the reason Alex decided to give "us" a second chance. They paved the way for us and showed that even if you decide to call off an engagement, if you truly love someone, you can push through the trials and make it work. Life isn't about finding perfect compatibility so that you can plateau and coast through existence. Its for finding someone that really makes you better by stretching yourself to become more christlike.

These two looked twitter-patted and deeply in love the entire day, wrapped up and enjoying every bit of the moment while focusing on each others needs.

Meanwhile, The Girls of the bachelorette party were very focused on making sure I took the best pictures of them while guarding their purses and phones.


And because all the girls are actually my good friends I was very happy to be their personal assistant and photographer. But it got me thinking about that random thought I had about polygamy. And how "awesome" it would be? Nope. Not for me.

In the end Im sure I would be completely ignored and my wives would have a dance party every night, eventually forgetting I existed.







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