Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wrapping up...

So wow, I'm leaving New Jersey in 4 days...4 DAYS?!?!?!?!  What the heck I feel like it was just yesterday that I was lying next to my sleeping 4 year old son looking at him thinking...I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING more....I have to live in a more meaningful way...and WHAMO this crazy idea to quit my job and get rid of most of my stuff to hit the road...ran me down like a mac truck...and here I am today..4 days away from our departure, sitting in a nearly empty apartment looking around in disbelief that we are finally at this point.

 It's been an odd thing...a hard thing coming to this moment..it's one of those things where being a single parent WEARS on me immensely and makes the whole thing THAT much more difficult.  I also have run into moments, sorting through all of my stuff that I have established in my beautiful life with Katie where I'm on my knees missing her...finding beautiful photos taken of her that I didn't know we had or letters she kept..and she kept EVERYTHING.  We wrote each other often, simple letters, things you forget about..and I've stumbled upon these things countless times, and many times it's nice to read...but at the same time it brings me to such a breaking point where I feel so angry because we were GREAT and I can't believe it is no longer.  I will say that nearly once a day I see a picture of her..and I am rocked with such a sense of disbelief..that she is no longer in the physical sense here among us...it is one of those things where I'm left shaking my head thinking WHAT THE HELL...I can't wrap my mind or heart around it.  

With all of it said...I'm so excited for our adventure and this feeling of dispair fuels me all the more to make the year of 2009 OUTSTANDING...I have no doubt not one single regret or doubt that I'm not doing the right thing..all of this feels absolutely, perfectly peacefully right. 

I must say, I will miss New Jersey.  I've been marinating in the emotions of what living in New Jersey was like.  New Jersey stretched me as a person in more ways than any color or song will ever be able to depict.  However in the same breathe I never knew I was capable of all I have taken on these past 2 years.  I have seen, done and experienced many things that would absolutely put a person in a mental hospital, and it is only by the grace of God that I am still semi-sane.  I don't regret ever having come to New Jersey.  I've met amazing people, I have been moved in amazing ways...I love most the passion that fills the people here, whether their intentions are right or not the most amazing thing to me is the way people PASSIONATELY pursue the things they are passionate about.  I have not encountered this type of fury before and it has been something that has ignited in me a desire to live a life in hot pursuit of influence, and inspiration.  Had we stayed in Ohio, with this same outcome for my life and for Katie's life, I don't know that I would've had the same courage to pursue this trip around the U.S. and so I am thankful to New Jersey and the people I have come to call friends here who have taught me much about truly living.  So while you chewed us up and spit us out..NJ you taught us much...we dust ourselves off and go confidently in the direction of our new dreams.  I hope with the upcoming year, ALL Of us are reminded that life is fleeting and it is not the things we did that we will regret, it is the things we did not do that will haunt us most..so lets ensure that list of things we did not do is SHORT...run hard in the direction of your hearts calling..and don't for one second look back.  The next time I write, our Great Adventure will have begun, I look forward to sharing the lessons learned in 2009 and no kidding I LOVE hearing and reading the comments about how you have learned and been moved in the same ways...I read them all, I love the emails...I am just in awe in how so many of you are willing to share yourselves with me.  I love it, I invite it, and I learn from it so don't ever hesitate.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All I want to do is live my life more honestly!

Funny, I just typed up an email to my friend..and thought..hmmmm everything I just said here is exactly something I would've liked to blog about...so here is the exact email:

WOW I've been so darn busy at work!! Yikes sorry I haven't responded to you in ages..it's not you it's me :D how cliché...

So what's up..any good developments in your life lately...how are you growing how are you changing...I only ask because someone asked me that last night...and 1. I valued the question immensely (I have the coolest people in my life) and 2. it was still on my mind this morning...stuck with me....my answer is well crap what is not changing in my life..EVERYTHING is...constantly perpetually changing..thank heavens for that!! As well...It's ironic I find myself preparing to move away from Jersey..a place that has been so difficult to live in..because of circumstances..not because of location or people..and I've been here for 2 years almost..and it seems that only recently have I started to establish my life here..as far as building relationships with people. So I'm building into these people..and being moved and changed and inspired by them..and I truly find that I love them..and now I'm leaving..it's odd...makes it hard for me to leave this place that was so unkind to us. What is EVEN more odd is that 2 of these people that I've built friendships with never even knew Katie...they didn't know "Katie and Karen"..the tag that has been mine for all of my adult life...and so is is interesting trying to meander this life now allowing people to develop a new tag for me..and I expect that with all the traveling we'll be doing this upcoming year this is going to be a regular occurrence...what a strange thing. She was such a safety net for me..I was able to hide (sort of) behind her HUGE personality..and let her break the ice..let her do the "uncomfortable" stuff...and then I could easily just come in and pick up..once it was easy..and now..I've lost my net..and I'm being pushed and challenged to step out of myself..and that's hard too! AHH but those are the ways I'm growing and changing.

I've also been packing and purging and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of...and wowee is this ever a CRAZY task...what I realize is we had WAY more than what we ever needed...and it's just annoying....I NEVER in my life want to find myself having as much stuff (dare I say junk) cluttering up my house again...GOOD lesson to learn in your younger years...wish I had learned it in my EVEN younger years..hope to pass it along to the boys...experiences not things experiences not things experiences not things!!!

SO...I think I realized that I just wrote and wrote and wrote....sorry if I've overwhelmed you with my thoughts...I think I actually may just copy and paste this entire email as a blog..hope you're cool with that!!

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!! Hope you feel like you have lots to be Thankful for!!!



Thanks to my friend for allowing me to share this..even though I didn't wait for your permission :D

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This business of discrimination

RTV right :D well here goes....I typically am not one to "step up on a soap box" to discuss the hot topics of the world..or tough morality issues that will get a crowd all hot and bothered...I'm more of a let your life do the talking on the morality stuff, you know actions are WAY louder than words, but all this talk about proposition 8 in California has me thinking...mostly about how it is impossible for anyone to take away my profound love for another just because they say it shouldn't be allowed.

We elected a tremendous man as our President...even more historical was the fact that he was African American...on election night my son and I were having a conversation about Barack Obama.  Aiden wanted to know "does he look like me"?  As I started to tell him that well..kind of, but...Barack was older, and much taller, his eyes were darker, I had to pause and think should I call out to my 4 year old that Barack was "a different color"?  I realized in that moment I didn't want my young son to yet realize that we in America classify people or place them in a category or stereotype them simply because the color of their skin is different.  So I withheld this information.  I remember feeling such a tremendous amout of pride watching the new first family walk out onto stage that night, in fact I nearly cried at the sight.  I remember thinking WOW we've come so far and I LOVE that this family stands for THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, awesome!  Then came the rather surprising news that proposition 8 had passed in California...and I'm left scratching my head thinking we took huge strides in one direction only to take huge strides in the exact opposite direction still as a nation embracing discrimination and hate.  My moment of joy and wonder at my new diverse first family was cut far too short by this news.  

I'm going to say some things that I know will upset my gay friends..I've already said it to my close friends, and caused some dissent..but I SERIOUSLY believe this...while I don't agree with the passing of proposition 8 and while I will say that it is terribly hateful to deny a person a right they should be afforded as an American...I have to also say...YOU KNOW WHAT just because someone tells me they think the person I love is wrong and the act is immoral and disgusting and whatever else...all of these things said and rights withheld..IT DOESN'T MATTER to me..did I stop loving Katie because someone told me it was wrong...well for a time yes..but I got over it..pulled my head out of the WATER (I'm being kind) breathed in the greatest breath of life and pursued life and love and happiness spent with Katie.  

No matter what rights we were or were not afforded as a couple, we had a wedding, we vowed BEFORE GOD to be faithful to one another, to live a life pleasing to him, to be together until death parted us..WE STILL DID IT...and so it was..and so she was indeed my wife, with or without a piece of paper to declare it as such.  We had a home together and we welcomed people, lots of people, gay and straight, at our dinner table, and we laughed, and we cried, and we made memories.  Best yet, out of our love came 2 beautiful people, who know at the core of their being that 2 other people love them immeasurably.  And wow all those "disbelievers" say our boys should be very disturbed at their core...I would invite anyone who believes this to come and meet our children because they are astounding individuals at the ripe age of 2 and 4..they are profound and more importantly they are so stinking happy and quite frankly more adjusted and well behaved than many that come from a more "traditional" dwelling.  

So I don't know, I find it so interesting, what do all these people who vote this stuff down think? Because I'm here to say just because you say it isn't so...doesn't mean it deters me or stops me or hinders my relationship in anyway.  If anything it made us fight harder to make it work to go the duration...and we WENT the duration...ACTUALLY Katie and my relationship was probably put to the fire far more often and withstood the test in far more trying circumstances than that of our "married" counterparts who had the "paper" and the "rights"....emerging from the fire or the tests with a tighter union and connection or bond...growing our live in the midst..THESE are the great things which define a family or a marriage and mine was strong...stronger than most...we just didn't have the rights..but we didn't need them to make it any more real or legitimate.

ALL of these things are what I will pass along to our boys about diversity, real family values and acceptance.  Do you agree?  If not...come sit at my dinner table...I'd love to go back to my core and allow my life to speak for itself.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Refining and Becoming

I must admit, I've had a hard couple of days. Lately I've felt so heavy with grief I can just not get my head or more specifically my heart ahead of it. I think, as ironic as it may sound, Halloween was the trigger. It was a holiday Katie truly enjoyed..it was so fitting to her crazy, zany personality. She recalled being young, how her dad would play spooky music and was "the scary" house on the street. She wanted so badly for our own home, in Ohio, to be this same place. She downloaded the scariest music she could find, brought her ENORMOUS sound system to the front porch and took to the mic...NOT in her usual manner but rather she would drudge up the scariest voice she could find to lure children to our front porch. What is HYSTERICAL about all of this is that after our first Halloween on S. Huron we realized our street was not visited by ANYONE. LUCKY for us our friend lived on THE most visited street in the neighborhood, so Katie quickly set up shop there....EVEN better there were bushes to hide in and SHAKE at this house, so Katie had found her Halloween calling. Many children were scared, and that pleased Kate to no end, it is a memory that even today makes me laugh as I recall her antics.

We moved away to New Jersey shortly after Halloween 2006, and soon thereafter this disease reared it's ugly head. We faced many MANY trials from May - October in 2007. Katie completed 7 1/2 weeks of radiationt treatment at the end of September, and by mid October was feeling better than she had in some time. We chalked it up to being no short of a miracle, and praised God daily as her strength returned at an amazing pace. The picture above is our family during Halloween last year. As I stare at this photo I feel so much. Tears, well up in my eyes, and sometimes just won't quit. I am in awe at what a difference a year can make. This time last year was so filled with promise, and hope, and we were strong. Katie was getting better everyday, and while I CHERISH (beyond belief) the months of good health we had throughout all of the holiday's last year, I can't believe the contrast of where I find myself this year, and this picture above simply digs that dagger of sorrow in a little further.

I had a fantastic time trick or treating with our son Aiden this year, he was marvelous, what a perfect age. I found a street just a few short blocks away where every house put up amazing decorations and everyone in each family was dressed up and participating with as much excitement and eagerness as Katie would have. It was bitter but it too was sweet, she would've loved every moment of it all and I thought of her the entire way.

I don't write all of this to be a downer or to make anyone feel uncomfortable. There are no words of comfort when you feel at your lowest...there just aren't. For me, what has proven to help the most is just writing, just venting, just having the freedom to throw it all out there and say "take if for what it's worth", there's no one I'm trying to impress, no one I'm afraid to offend or upset. The BEST tid-bit of advice I have receivd thus far was this:

Take care of yourself
No one can feel your pain so don’t worry about them.
Just do whatever, spend whatever, and go wherever you want.
Never mind what people think.

*thank you Kerri-Lynne

I know I am in the process of being refined, of "becoming" and while it BURNS and it hurts, and I wish for the brighter days, I do know they will come..there will be a time..it is just not yet...and the holidays well they only seem to make the pain worse...but my head is up, my feet are on the ground, and the boys and I we just keep marching on!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Growing, Growing....GONE.

Wow, it's been far too long since I last wrote, and my hope is that I'll allow myself more time to sit and write and vent and heal all at the same time...because I know in 15 years when I look back at all of this I will marvel at my thoughts and the things I went through..and how far I've come, and most likely I'll re-learn from what I'm dealing with IN THIS MOMENT of life right now...isn't it amazing, life and the way it changes us...especially when we least expect it..MORE especially when it takes a hard left when you planned to keep moving forward.
I've resounded recently through all of this that I never want to find myself in a place where I've grown too complacent-too comfortable-too at ease, because I think (at least for myself) all of these things stunt my own growth, curb my own potential as a person.  Stepping out in faith, taking great risks, challenging myself, purposefully making myself uncomfortable, in THESE MOMENTS, in this place, this is where I've seen myself grow as a person the most..learn the most lessons.  MEDIOCRITY does not settle well with me..never has never will.  To date I've lived a rather unconventional life (by most peoples standards).  Katie and I resounded to do things that were right for us..that moved us...didn't necessarily have to be right by the standards society placed on us..but we were blessed in abundance and we loved in abundance and it was risky and it was scary but it worked...and it was beautiful...my soul hurts and longs for her...and this longing this hurt and sorrow has also brought with it an unbelievable quench for something more from life.  I find myself in a very unique place in life right now; people say when you experience the loss of a loved one you shouldn't react or make any rash decisions for at least one year...to this I say WHAT A BUNCH OF BUNK...never in my life have I found myself more open or with these thoughts, feelings, inspirations..and so I say WHY NOT?  Why surpress these fresh ideas when I'm MOST willing to act on them, to live in ways I've never imagined, always dreamed...maybe I'm far off..and I welcome your thoughts but I tell you again MEDIOCRITY is NOT FOR ME..I will not settle.

So I'm taking a step in blind faith, a risk, choosing life...living it...and refusing to allow what has happened to me to define or moreover defeat me.  ARE YOU READY FOR IT!?  Katie and I always dreamed of traveling the country together, it was something we often spoke of it was something we had hoped her music would propel us to do..so effective December 20th, the boys and I will be both jobless and homeless.  I'll soon be purchasing a Honda Odyssey (used of course), Katie's dream car...no really...I work for BMW we've been driving new BMWs for 7 years and all Katie ever wanted was a Honda Odyssey.  So the boys and I are headed out to discover this great U.S. visiting friends and family and every sight we've ever wanted to see.  Along the way, being moved and inspired by our pursuits.  Aiden wants to see sharks swimming in the ocean, and whales jumping out of the water, and crocodiles, and so I will do my best to make all of those things and so much more a reality for him and for Koen and for me.  Being together, learning together, growing together.  We're first headed to Florida, on purpose, because winter is just too dreary, too cold, too long, so we're skipping it all together.

Drinking in life is what 2009 is all about, living in a more real, transparent, and vulnerable way.  Won't you join me, in your own way in taking even one small risk in your own life?  Life is too short...too damn short to be wrapped up in the crap that wraps us up on a daily basis...I've gained quite a perspective from this entire experience (might just be the one and only thing I'm thankful for) and I look forward to sharing that and all the ways we've been challenged by life in the future.  So for now...if you have any suggestions on places to go, or people to meet, or heck if you have a place to stay, let me know..as my planning is well underway and I'm excited about our Great Adventure. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

86 Days Later....

So, wow.  I've been meaning to write for some time now....not so much for anything else than to get all that I've been thinking down on SOMETHING and journals..well journals just seem so 1985...but what to write..where to start...these past 86 days..well my whole life changed.  I walked into a building in a city, THE CITY,  as one person and walked out an entirely new person altogether.  It's an odd sensation to feel your life moving in a direction you never wanted, never dreamed, never fathomed, but you can't stop it..you can't do anything about it but just move...just keep moving..it really has been for me like watching a movie, watching someone else's life unfold..except for the fact that it's my life..this is my reality and some days that reality is easier to wrap my heart around than others.  

If you think I'm going to sit here 86 days later and say it's gotten easier with time...you will be disappointed, because this is just not the case.  I suppose one thing I've gotten better with (to some extent) is being honest, saying exactly what I mean to say, because I think we all have much to gain by being real, by being honest and by throwing it all out on the line...even if in doing so we may feel more stretched, possibly more uncomfortable..but in real love and real truth I believe we find something more powerful than what we ever could have anticipated..and these are the types of interactions I now desire, and seek amongst the ones I hold dear.

So how am I, that's a tough question to answer?  I think of her CONSTANTLY, her infectious laugh, her humor, her beauty, her smell...I put on a sweater that hadn't been washed the other day and Katie was the last person to have worn it...her scent was all over it..and while this was such a gift it was also something I was not ready for and I nearly fell to the ground in an instant... I miss her voice both speaking and singing my goodness BOTH were not of this world, so delicate, wraspy, airy, just plain unique and beautiful.  The way she made our children laugh, or me she never took herself too seriously..how perfectly she loved, how much she loved LOVE,  her energy and zest for life, nothing was wasted on her--and why her..why us -- we would not have wasted this life together not a moment we LOVED loving one another and I just can't figure it out, but even all the answers to all the questions I have would make missing her less piercing to my soul.  This is a person I never grew tired of in life, and even in death she's always there...always in the background...which makes for an almost cloudiness in my daily routine..I find now I have a terrible memory...I tell people the same thing 2 or 3 times..whole conversations...I misplace things everyday...my keys, my cell phone, my debit card...luckily I've not misplaced either of the children..yet... 

This is such a crazy thing to maneuver, this life now.  Sometimes it feels as if some quality about everything in life is lost -- the world is a little duller, less vibrant, less colorful..but I accept this suffering and and I am suffering in it -- not one to run and hide under some rock or put my head in the sand, but rather to be one who runs head first embracing each emotion felt during this time (for which they are all over the board).  Trying to learn, and feel, and question and most importantly to evolve and become better to change who I am at the core of my person.  

All the while my interactions with others...some of my closest friends have retreated into themselves...not communicating at all..and this is fascinating to me.. something I could have never predicted..while others the ones who were always in the background have just stepped up to be these remarkable people..who if asked will carry me at any moment of any hour..and who challenge me with being so honest about their own feelings and anger and grief.  This thing called grief..my how I have found it to be so intriguing..I never invited it into my life..never dreamed it would befall me and my family but it is and has and I am still trying to piece it all together.  I'm nearly finished reading a book by C.S. Lewis called "A Grief Observed" (thank you Robbie and Dana) to which he says "only torture will bring out the truth only under torture does one discover it for themselves" and so me and my tortured self we press on trying to find the truth in ways I never dreamed I would understand it.  

Don't get me wrong don't miss what I said earlier...I press on.  I still live..If anything this has led me to want more for my life..to not accept mediocrity in any form..so IN GRIEF even in grief I am inspired and moved and I get up each day yearning to learn and to be changed because who knows when my own time could be up.  And so it is.  

I'd say that's enough for my first blogging experience...I look forward to pouring out more words in the near future..in the meantime I'll keep moving forward..