Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oh how the pendulum swings

Well well well. I think I've been on an RTV haitus. NO, actually, I know I have. I don't know if it's possible to describe what happened to me exactly...the emotions felt these past months...BUT whatever it was I was paralyzed with RTV fear...I just couldn't bring myself to open up...to express in the same way I had been...and I'm not so sure I know the reasons exactly...possibly I felt too exposed...too "out there" emotionally...I just couldn't find the words...didn't want to type..just wanted to curl up and be with me and the ones I hold most dear. Could this be just another way grief rears its ugly head? One of the stages? I'm inclined to think most likely, yes it is...oh life and the places it takes you...if only we dare to open ourselves up, make ourselves vulnerable to the experiences of life. It's hard sometimes to take that step...be it the fear of the great unknown, the financial risk, what is it that stops us exactly from living the life of our dreams...knowing our utmost potential? These, my friends, are the questions I find I ask myself everyday, if not 15 times a day. I have all sorts of dreams, all sorts of passions, all sorts of things that fuel me, so how do I put them all together to make a life for the boys and I...to sustain us. THESE are the questions I'm asking now more than ever...I've found myself at yet another crossroads (lucky me), wondering if I can take all these experiences I've had this past year and really DO SOMETHING that matters, that sustains, that gives back, that moves me at my core. All of this questioning, I believe, has come from a recent trip I had the great fortune of taking to South Africa with TOMS shoes...and before I tell you what I've decided these few weeks since being back I want to share with you (or note for myself only for all of eternity) each day for the next few what I wrote in my journal...and experienced and felt while I was on my trip in Africa. I feel like if I take what's on paper...and type it out here in black and white it will speak to my soul in an even more significant way than the experience itself already has. So if it bores you, my apologies upfront...I'm just doing my thing trying to get back in the practice of being RTV....so here goes.

AFRICA --- DAY 1 --- "Due to safety regulations sleeping on the floor of the plane is not allowed" SOLID I think to myself what an absolutely solid announcement as I am about to embark on a nearly 18 hour flight to a place I've dreamt of going my entire adult life....AFRICA...it is ironic...I was once picked to go to Nigeria for a summer in college, I was a couple months in to the process when I met someone who made my world change colors...made my heart swell with feelings I've never experienced. I fell in love that winter and declined the opportunity to go to Africa knowing in my heart this love was more important..fearing if I left what was sitting before me would disappear. Little did I know then my whole life and being would be so significantly impacted by the choice to stay and forgo the trip to Africa. The love affair of that winter turned into the rest of my life as I know it today...my soul joined with Katie forever. So the fact that I'm sitting here now on a plane to Africa, this the last trip of the Great Adventure, I have to laugh at the irony of it all...how life does truly take us full circle sometimes...mind boggling actually.

So now here I am on a new journey, alone, starting over yet again, morning is starting to dawn and I catch my first glimpse of AFRICA, a chill runs down my entire back. I'm listening to U2 -- Joshua Tree -- Where the Streets have no Name -- Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for -- it's a perfect soundtrack as I gaze out of my window staring down below at the wonder that is South Africa! I don't know what awaits me out these doors of the plane but this excites me to no end. TOMS takes the approach that when we get the opportunity to go on a guided trip, like this, it is better to come in to the trip with as few expectations as possible....so nothing about my shoe drop has been shared with me...all I knew was when to show up at the airport and where I was going...that's about it. A true adventure awaits I know this for sure, and I expect my thoughts and feelings will be so different upon my return home. What will my mind be thinking and feeling when I gaze out this same little window looking down upon Ohio? Time will tell, what I know is I will be different, better for having taken this step of blind faith.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Heather's Story

be moved


stay tuned...MORE TO COME!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What I least expected

I am beginning to reconcile and reflect over all the things which went down this time last year..and the entire thing is so terribly maddening to me.  This very day one year ago we received the BEST news we thought we would never get.  Throughout the course of Katie's illness we were told over and over again from many doctors that Katie would die from her illness..told that their goal in providing treatment to Katie was not to cure her but to prolong her life with some ounce of quality.  Everytime I was told this I would smile cordially and say that's fine (really wanting to honestly say fuck you, but I'm too nice) I share a different viewpoint, our goal in this is to restore Katie back to full health and you just don't know this person your treating...this is KATIE REIDER for pete's sake..she is no ordinary human being...it is not her time...if you really knew her you would know if anyone could beat this tumor it is her.  ALL along I maintained this belief, to Katie I would say..well you're just getting this out of your system now, the boys are young, they'll never recall you being ill and when we're old we will already have done the life threatening illness thing so we'll have full health to look forward to...so when I received the news from our doctor on Friday June 27th, 2008 that her MRI showed the tumor to be 97% gone.. I was not surprised...this was the hope I had been holding on to all along...it was news I was told to never expect and it was finally here.  I hung up the phone (I was in my office at work), put my head on my desk and wept with pure and joy and exuberance.  SHE WAS BEATING THIS....the whole battle..this whole 2 years was finally turning around...we had made it...we were getting our lives back...these are all the things which rushed through my head and so much more....I immediately lifted my head and wrote (in a seconds time) the last email I would ever write to Katie (as a reference...we called each other beeb):

WE CAN DO THIS BEEB..YOU CAN DO THIS..you've come so far..and FINALLY
we're at a point where we're moving in the direction of getting you
restored..just imagine the good that will come from all of this...just
being able to talk again...to sing again..it's all possible Kate..and it
is all going to happen for you...our lives are going to be given back to
us..and you and I will grow old happily..w/o illness and we'll enjoy our
boys (and who knows maybe even more :D) ....and their children...

My hope in having you...was restored at the news today....and I will be
with you every step of the way...to your full recovery....we will never
be the same...we are forever changed and altered..but when we emerge
from this fire...holy cow..no one...nothing will ever be able to stop

I love you now..I love you always!

What was even better was the VERY next morning we were leaving to go on a family vacation we had been SO excited for..and we had this amazing news to send us off.  Never could I expect or anticipate that we would only have 1 full day to live with this good news before we took the ride to total despair and sorrow...never could I have predicted what would unfold in the next 2 to 16 days...and I suppose this is the nonsense I've tried to make sense of this full year later...I've come to many realizations over this year...mostly that even though her tumor was 97% gone it was not 100% gone and in fact part of that 3% was growing...so this thing indeed was never going to go away just as the doctors maintained and while it seemed cruel and shocking at the time...Katie was certainly spared from more pain and agony with which she had suffered already for far too long.  I write this out..and the events of the coming days this one year later to make even more sense of it in my head...to capture it forever someplace..to shove in my face that we all truly are one phone call from our knees (Matt Kearney lyric which captures the way I feel so perfectly sometimes).  So this is why we live it up...pursue our passions...find what moves us and run with reckless abandon in that direction...because it could be over in 2 days in 10 days...in 20 years...we just don't know...and when my time comes I need to know....in that moment...I've lived my best life possible.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 7, 2009

Yesterday is what would have been my 6th wedding anniversary....yesterday and today I have found myself painfully missing my wife.  Oh this first year...this first year of life without Katie is tough to say the VERY least.  Of course there is the obvious..all the "firsts" you have to endure...Christmas, Mother's Day, children's birthdays, her birthday...and now I can add anniversary to the list of firsts which have come and gone.  I'm feeling quite fortunate my last "first" is soon approaching..this day...the darkest day in my history...will be a difficult first to endure..so difficult in fact I find the emotions already building up..but I will be so happy to have leaped this last hurdle..turning yet another new unexplored chapter in this business of grief and living...the chapter I think I call..after those first 365.  I don't know what to expect on say..day 367 or 430, but something I've found to be so difficult with this first 365 is I often think about what it was I was doing last year at this time...and to know whether it was good or bad or worse..at the very minimum at this time last year I still knew what it felt like to have Katie's hand in mine...knowing this..at any given point of the first 365..is such an unexpected emotional weight...to know...she was here and now she's not..it's a painful reminder, salt in the wound (so to speak)..so I'm looking forward to the "after those first 365" days...one because again the "first hurdles" will all have been jumped, never to be jumped again..but more importantly...or maybe most importantly I'll know that say on June 7, 2010 when I say "what was I doing this time last year"...the answer can be..I was living..I rose above..I drank all life had to offer..I saw and was changed by the unexpected... I met new people who taught be amazing lessons all of which I could have lost had I not been willing to take the risk..I raised my children, loved them endlessly, showed them many things I had never even seen.  I engaged life, I laughed so hard I cried...I cried so hard I laughed...I was not conquered by my greatest fear but looked fear directly in the eyes and chose hope.  
 I've said so many times before we can not choose the situations which will happen to us in life...life has many plans for us we may not like..but the only logical choice regardless of the circumstance is hope..and living our best life possible...so I continue on...writing this chapter in my newest adventure.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

noretakes.com is UP AND RUNNING check it out!

Wow!  Did I ever think I would have a website of my very own...certainly not...what an exciting thing.  

The super talented and ever wonderful Adam George of Ample (http://www.helloample.com) created the design and flow of the noretakes site.  Basically all written blogs, video blogs, and photos can be found in one place.  ALONG with links to all of Katie's music.  Thank you Adam for making a beautiful site I'm happy to call my own.

Kiersten Turos (http://www.k2dsquared.com/who has created nearly every single Katie Reider website worked so hard to get this thing off the ground...Kiersten you have ALWAYS risen ABOVE for Katie and now me...there are no words...there is no amount of compensation..for all your efforst over the years... The amount of adoration I have for you and all the hard work you've put in for my family over the years....geesh...you are truly one of the most CARING, SELFLESS, LOVING people I have ever had the great pleasure of knowing.  I feel so very blessed to have you as a friend...I just can't even tell you. 

Robert Parish...the man who makes the videos...who sees the story from the countless hours of video I send to him and works his magic.  Robert if it were not for you and your encouragement there would be no videos...and these have come to mean so much to me...be so healing for me..so I thank you in ways I could have never anticipated for walking with me on this journey in such a fun and meaningful way.

And to Lauren Fernandes who has supported my family and listened to me...stretched me and encouraged me in so many ways...you've worked tirelessly for Katie and her story and you have not received nearly the credit you so deserve.

This is really such an amazing outlet for me to explore and grow...you can not...NOT choose the circumstances which will befall you in life..however you can choose how you will respond in any and every situation...Life affords us NO RETAKES...so we have to live for each moment..making it the very best and very most it was destined to be.  We just have no idea...when our time or moment will end...for Katie and my family it was seemingly overnight that things went from blissfully perfect to our darkest hour.  Never ever did I think this disease would conquer Katie...take her from me....I was her greatest believer, cheering her on through every unbelievable horror.  The entire battle with this disease was the hardest thing I have ever endured...when she died it was so unexpected so unbelievable...I walked in a fog and daze for many months after...however what I knew once I emerged is that I was left here for a reason.  Blessed with a love and a life and now 2 more lives entrusted to me...I choose hope, I choose rich experiences, I choose the pursuit of happiness, I choose taking risks and trusting God.  I choose growth over despair because I know far too well how precious life is.  I choose to be open to any and everything life has to offer...to be real, transparent, and vulnerable in all of my interactions...never shying away from telling my story to whoever will listen.  It is my hope that having encountered this story in whatever capacity you know it....you will think differently about your own life and how you can live it better...if even for 5 minutes.  OR that you will give thanks and appreciate and love what you have you have in your life and appreciate it in a deeper way...because it is not the things we own, job we have, car we drive that we will take with us when it is all said and done..it is the people we loved, the memories we shared and the experiences we created for ourselves.....so create your best life...one you never imagined or dream of...and share it with me because I love your stories...they are fuel to my soul.  Press on...again knowing this is our only and best life...and we will be afforded NO RETAKES!!


So the great adventure pressed on from New Orleans to Houston.  We had the amazing pleasure of staying with an old roommate of Katie and mine from college, Erica.  Unfortunately we lost touch with Erica over the years as life just "got in the way"...so I was super excited to drive to her home but also quite nervous about seeing her again after really no communication these many years later.  The last time we spoke to her I'm fairly certain Katie and I were still quite uncomfortable with the definition of "our relationship" so needless to say MUCH had changed really in both of our lives since we last met eyes.  Regardless of time and life and all the change both of us had endured it was wonderful to hang out and catch up...to meet her family and be in her life.  While there are people you will drift from (seasons of friendship) so to speak... it's always nice to know you can take a trip back to your roots...if you are so willing...and learn and grow and be changed...I loved seeing my friend and knowing she was so happy.  I loved walking down memory lane, being reminded of things I had forgotten...AND to top it all off I got to eat DOVE..uh yeah the bird of peace..that dove...for the first time (tastes like chicken if you were wondering).  It was a wonderful stop on the great adventure and I can not thank you enough Glen and Erica for being willing to host my family along our journey...

Thursday, April 30, 2009


picture by Aiden...of Raymond and Karen
While in New Orleans I received a message via facebook from Raymond, someone I did not know  (had no idea who he was) that basically said hey if you're ever passing through I would really love to meet you.  Now..I'm a small young female traveling the country with 2 young boys... I didn't know Raymond at all and while I appreciate the offer from ANYONE I sat on the email and truthfully thought about how I could politely decline.  A couple of days went by and as I was leaving New Orleans en route to Houston, TX (in the night no less) I passed a sign saying the town Raymond  lived in was around 70 miles and thought oh crud...never emailed him back...SO I pulled out my phone and started typing the nicest decline I could muster up.  I received a response from Raymond about 35ish minutes later...which basically explained he was a fan of Katie's...but the part that hit me...in the face and gut was the following:

Katie meant a lot to me on many levels. I was very upset when she passed away. I think God may have been looking out for me and "prepped" me for a loss as I had to experience one much greater than that of Katie (whom I had never met) but was a fan....my twelve year old son passed away on January 30 after becoming ill in June. 

This was February 25th...not even a month after this man lost his son.  In my gut I knew I should call him...now only 10 miles away.  So I did...and thankfully Raymond guided me to a nearby McDonalds (for the kids sake and ours) where we met one another...shared our medical trauma stories...exchanged stories about our grief, but basically just related to one another...and had a very real, very human interaction.  It is everything I wanted the great adventure...it is a moment in my life..simple as it may seem which I will always cherish and never soon forget.  There is something so magical about sharing yourself with another...about interacting in a real way...if even for a moment.  So while it may have been a risky thing to meet a stranger at night...I knew in my guts it was the right thing to do..so I took a risk..and yet again it paid off.  
Thank you Raymond for being so bold and reaching out to me...I'm not sure how you carry on in this life with the burden of a loss of a child...but you inspired me on that night to continue to carry on with my head held high!  

Mardi Gras...and New Orleans

So I'm doing my best to CATCH up for the love of all that is good in this world..and there's soo much to catch up on..so bear with me...I want to just post a couple of blogs about things we've done since I last talked about the trip...because I get asked all the time..and because I in re-reading past things I've written I realize just how much I forget about things we actually do in each wonderful city we've visited..and I can NOT lose these memories...SO HERE WE GO.  

Here's where I left off...in New Orleans....YES I took the boys to Mardi Gras!  No I am not crazy.  I did a lot of looking into it..and if you steer clear of the crazy party streets Mardi Gras is SUPER DUPER family friendly...I mean lets think about it...tons and tons and tons of floats throwing beads and candy and toys...what kid wouldn't think this is the greatest thing on the PLANET..my boys were baffled..but totally dug it.  We had a great time getting to know our fellow mardi gra participants..it was amazing and the boys had a tremendous time.  We also totally lucked out..on the day of Mardi Gras we were walking about a side street..and it turned out said side street was where the floats went to park.  It was just me and the boys on this street...and the floats UNLOADED anything they had left onto our lone selves there..Aiden exclaimed WE ARE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE ON EARTH!  It was hysterical...we enjoyed meeting the King of Mardi Gras and seeing all the floats and people up close and personal!

Our trip wasn't entirely about Mardi Gras...we had to go to Cafe Du Monde!!!  The birthplace of coffee in the U.S.  or at least legend says it as such...it's a sort of mecca for a fellow coffee devotee such as myself so I had to make my pilgrimage...pay my respects.  We blew powdered sugar all over each other..ON PURPOSE of course..got ugly stares from some..laughter from others..but we had fun and ate well so what more can you ask for!?

A fun pic of Aiden enjoying the streets of New Orleans

Aiden happy with his Mardi Gras beads...Ko just enjoying being alive :D

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Damn I tell you what...today I was driving in Tucson listening to a really great radio station play their acoustic Sunday morning show...and whamo I was smacked in the face with the song "The Promise" by Tracy Chapman.  I hadn't heard this song in some time and it flooded my head, heart, and then inevitably my lap with tears which just came without regard to any circumstance...like the fact that A.  I had the children clamoring in the backseat and B.  I was about to reach a check point to enter an air force base where I was going to meet Katie's dad...here are the thoughts that rushed through my brain...HELLO security guard, don't you want to let this tear drenched, red eyed, snot nose lunatic on your base?  Nevermind me I'm just suddenly mourning the loss of my wife...oh right don't ask don't tell...this certainly would make for an interesting story...ANYWAY..back to the song.

This one took me waaaay back....to a time when Kate and my relationship was just beginning.  This CD titled "New Beginning"  (oddly ironic considering the circumstance) was consistently on the play list during that time and what a scary, wonderful, mind blowing time it was...  Isn't it funny how one song can just INSTANTLY take you back to whatever significant time period you once found it...music is power and I've never doubted it...but wow I was right there...sitting again in Katie's black Toyota Tacoma pick up truck...us wearing our matching blue Abercrombie and Fitch hats...feeling all full of emotion and nerves, feeling like my heart was going to beat right out of my chest...because I was walking down a road I had never DARED even consider...and doing so with one of my best high school friends, which was even more random...feeling like I was going to burn in hell for eternity but being so wrapped up in the beauty of the emotion to even care.  There was Tracy Chapman, signing along to our fears and desires...and there was beautiful Katie holding my hand, singing along...harmonizing like only Katie Reider could, "your warm embrace"...oh I could hear her...I could hear her voice today...there became parts of many different songs where she just sang it so perfectly and I would squeeze her hand and we would smile to ourselves...she knew it meant I loved it so she would sing louder but with a big smile and we'd laugh...so I was transported today to THAT time when life was so flipping scary but it was amazing because we were falling in love...

Then I came flooding back to the now, another "new beginning", one less warm and fuzzy...and I could hear her harmony part during the chorus, and oh how I longed to be holding her hand, laughing at her obliging to my request to hear her sing it louder.  Good grief these are the moments you just can not anticipate when you feel like more than just the rug is pulled out from underneath you...these moments can cause the tears to come like water broken from the dam.   

Ironic even more are the words of the song...I don't know why I never realized it before...I suppose when you're falling in love you can turn any song into something grand...but this is a really sad song seemingly about loss of some sort...and the words just resonated to the core of my soul..and it meant something entirely different today...it was my heart song..I WAS "remembering her touch, her kiss, her warm embrace...Tracy Chapman goes on to sing "Oh I've longed for you, and I have desired...to see your face, your smile...to be with you, wherever you are"  COME ON!??  I could go on and on with these lyrics and what they mean but holy crow I don't have the emotional energy...point being, it is a good song and at least I had the moment if even brief of being transported to happier times...and memories I had locked away some where.....Like I said..music is power that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

This picture just summed it all up for me perfectly.  Sometimes there just aren't words to describe the way you feel.  Most times...this is the way Joy feels for me...sometimes it just sneaks up on you in the most unexpected places or times.  Being aware enough to spot it...even though it may not be as beautiful or awe-inspiring as you had hoped..that's what I'm learning to do.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nearly 2 Weeks?!

Wow time flies when you're traveling a ton!  I can not believe it has been nearly two weeks since I last posted anything!  So geesh we've done lots of moving since I last wrote...we camped in Key West for a couple of nights picture at left.  I have only camped with Aiden NEVER with Koen and NEVER alone...so to say I was worried is a HUGE understatement.  In true Aiden and Koen fashion they exceeded my expectations as they love LOVED camping.  No issues, any potential crisis I had anticipated were averted.  PHEW.  It was great to enjoy the sites of beautiful Key West.  Somewhat bitter sweet as Katie and I took our Honeymoon here over 5 years ago.  It was more bizarre than painful for me to be there in this fashion and I don't know if I can clearly explain it.   I think maybe I was just stunned to be back here knowing the dreams we had once spoken about in these places had only partially come true.  It allowed me some interesting reflection and at times made angry but Key West is so beautiful and wildly creative I found the anger dissipate as I walked about.  Interesting for me to say the least. 

We then moved on to Miami, but before that stopped by the everglades which was a fascinating thing to see.  The wildlife in this part of the country is just spectacular and vast.  Most interesting for the boys and me were all the alligators roaming about...even some right on the trail less than a foot away.  Nothing like seeing wildlife thrive in it's natural environment...what a pleasure.  

While on this trip I've resounded to stretch myself in many different ways.  I desire to meet people of all walks of life who really know how to live...just really get it...more importantly for me, people who have found themselves faced with adverse situations and really risen above.  I was blessed to be able to stay with a family who are friends with my friend Robert.  I have never spoken to them before (which was a stretch for me), but after having stayed with them for just 24 hours I left feeling SO enriched I learned so much being in their midst.  This family has a 12 year old son who is autistic, he does not speak but he does not need to...to be in his presence was spectacular.  I loved watching my children interact with him to learn about something different and embrace it instead of fear it.   I myself just watched him and learned... joy literally pouring out of him, when he was happy you knew...leaping in a beautiful way, yelling out with no pretense of what is the appropriate volume he was the epitomy of someone who is real, transparent, and vulnerable.  More impressive are his parents, there just are not words that can describe people of this calibre.  They are huge advocates for autism, speaking at conferences helping others come to grips and embrace this life.  They embrace, love and learn from their son in incredible ways.  I think what I will remember the most is a conversation we had where I was speaking of how much I struggled with strangers staring at Katie as she was frail and broken physically.  I often found myself trying to catch the eye of every person that walked by so they would know I was watching them...in my mind it prevented them from looking at her, it was my way to protect her, but it was maddening for me.  I was telling this story to someone who is all too familiar with the glances of wonder from strangers everywhere she goes.  Her response was, I am so lucky and blessed that everyday, everywhere I go I get to see people (if even for 30 seconds) remember how fortunate they are with what they have in life.  She was so blessed by the stares of strangers and I found my own perspective shift.  Geesh...I could go on and on for hours about the amazing attitude of this family I just have to say I was changed and blessed to have crossed paths with such quality people.  If everyone in the world had this type of outlook we could move mountains!

So the great adventure moved forward, I was lucky enough to spend a day with an old co-worker and his beautiful family in Coral Springs, it was great to just sit back as our children entertained one another...I needed that break from the craziness of parenting.  We then pressed on to St. Petersburg where we spent a couple of days with my friends Stuart and Troy.  I must say if my boys turn out to be even 1/2 as loving and compassionate as these two I will have done something right by the world...it was great to spend time together and really get to know one another better.  It seems each place we go I just fall in love with everyone we stay with more and more.  I am just amazed by the kindness, the hospitality, the love that people shower on us.  It is amazing, I am grateful beyond words.  FINALLY we've spent the last couple of days in Panama City Beach just relaxing and enjoying the sights.  We will leave Florida tomorrow morning en route to New Orleans.  I am excited to move on to places of this great country I have never laid eyes on before.  Good things to come, we continually grow as we challenge ourselves on this journey.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Becoming" is my favorite word

I love the word becoming, I always have....I'm thinking maybe I should get this word tattood somewhere on my person...(sorry mom).  Isn't it funny that this word has THESE two meanings... 1.  To change and grow and 2.  To be pleasing in appearance...I don't think it is  a coincidence at all that this word has both of these meanings behind it...because if in fact we are living a life that grows us and is not stagnant...be it hard to be stretched in certain ways or not...that alone is beautiful..and we will only be MORE beautiful for having "becomed" (I know that's not a real word but it is true right?).  I am becoming more and more everyday and if I am not I need to figure out how to change more to make it so.

I have all sorts of thoughts this evening..and I'll try not to be all over the board..(with heavy emphasis on TRY)..so I'm just going to spat out my thoughts..and you can pick and choose what makes sense...and then maybe you can try to help me make sense of it.  I certainly feel like I am on a path of "becoming"...this trip has been great...PRECISELY, exactly, absolutely what my little broken spirit needed.  I love the adventures we've been having, I love that there is NOTHING we HAVE to do on any given day, I call the shots as to our daily activities.  I especially love not having the drama's of everyday life that frustrate and stunt us, and I guess what I mean by that..is when you have SO much change in life, on a very regular basis, there is no time to be wrapped up in the petty spats or insignificant squabbles which seem to sneak in to your life and relationships.  Instead I'm lucky enough to be around different people in different environments and pull the lessons that need to be pulled..and then we move on...it is a freedom I can not rightfully explain but I have come to appreciate the feeling.

This leads me to my next thought...who knows what it is about the conversations I have been absolutely blessed to be having these past months...but wowee people sure have opened up and sometimes I feel just blown away by your own RTV-ness with me.  Some of you far out reach even my own attempts, I believe, and so I thank you SO incredibly much for being willing to put yourself out there...NOT to mention the overwhelming outpouring of all things related to Katie and how she changed you, made you look at things differently, inspired all the very best in you.  It is beyond unfortunate to not have her here anymore, it is a grief and sorrow I will never ever shake, HOWEVER to hear your experiences, the words, the music, the call to action...to see how you manifest your own grief into goodness I truly sometimes do not feel worthy of ALL that I have been privy to these past 6 months...and that is ONLY because people have been so damn RTV and I LOVE IT!  SO I've been wondering lately why it is so that we do not live this way on a regular basis...I find myself asking this question REGULARLY:  Do those that inspire me and move me, do they know indeed just HOW much I love them and am regularly changed by them?  AND IF NOT WHY NOT?  Why do we wait for such travesties in life to share our feelings..why did Katie not get this showering of affection when she was walking amongst us?  What a shame, and so I have resounded to try to be more honest to those I hold dear...it's hard to do sometimes...I'm becoming (there's that word again) better at it...it is a process indeed...

And then after all of this...after all the great travel experiences, and after I am reminded everyday how fantastically wonderful Katie was I'm a left with such sadness...such a feeling that no one on the planet "gets" me like Katie got me...like we got each other...it is a lonliness I have never known, it is uncertainty like I have never known and so again I am becoming.  Trying to sort it all out, where do I belong, because it feels like no place...and so I seek and seek and seek believing at my core that God will make it so painfully obvious if I only remain open and willing to be molded...to which I scream...here I am Lord...make me and mold me because I am open to ANYTHING.  Such odd ups and downs right now.  I'm not saying I don't like it...it just is uncomfortable this gap...but hey at least we are on the greatest journey to find whatever is to be...and for this I KNOW CERTAINLY that I am blessed abundantly to have this opportunity... so I go from there and have hope the next chapter will be revealed when the time is right.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Banyon Street my new favorite

So currently we're resting our heads in beautiful Punta Gorda, Florida.  We're staying at the home of a wonderful family Katie used to Nanny for...her "second family" as she liked to call them...I now feel lucky enough to have come to know and love them equally.  To all of the Marcians I thank you so much for your amazing hospitality and generosity.  Marion I have always and will always cherish the time I get to spend with you and the conversations shared are always a huge nourishment to my spirit, I learn so much everytime.  I tip my glass of Hess to you :D (I really am drinking Hess, but in a plastic wine glass because I couldn't find the "adult" ones, oh well it suits me better).  

The boys and I have been having some great adventures here in Florida.  I think I just realized the other day I feel like we've reclaimed the summer lost.  This at least is what this portion of our trip feels like..one big great summer experience.  Katie got (even more) dreadfully ill in late June and remained in the hospital almost fully until her passing.  After she passed I can honestly say that the rest of July, August, September and maybe part of October were a blur.  I remember speaking on the phone one day in late November to someone talking about school..thinking with full conviction that the school year was about to begin because really it was like an odd awakening experience.  I felt at that moment I had been punched in the gut...how did we get to November, where did the Summer go?  The fall?? Where am I?  So now as the boys and I are immersed in one another I feel like we're getting this time back...and living it to the fullest.  Some highlights include:  Watching a Pelican swallow a fish in one gulp...the boys were awed at the power of the pelican.  Aiden held a 3 year old aligator on an air boat tour we took, all the while some dad in the background berated his 12 year old for allowing a 4 year old to show him up...the poor 12 year old was scared out of his gord, and I don't blame him.  Today I rented a bike and huffed the boys around behind me in a trailer, fun was had by all.   More importantly we're just relaxing with one another, doing lots of swimming and playing in many various beaches.   I have come to realize that while not many can take this kind of time out to be with their loved ones, it is something I hope I never forget to do when this trip is over..just taking whatever available free time to sit in the moment...really BE in the moment without distraction of internet, phone, TV whatever it is..that is something we all can do..invest in the ones we love...if even for an hour or two...but in just doing that there is so much to gain...and learn...and all grow in the process.

The picture above is of my new favorite street that I found today on an island in Florida called Boca Grande.  We took a day trip here today and this street was our first stop, it's called Banyan Street where these trees line both sides of the street.   To just walk this short block is like breathing the biggest most peaceful breath of fresh air.  As the boys ran around and attempted to climb any possible tree I just peacefully drank in this block and thanked my lucky stars, and more importantly God for helping me to remember to take time out to breathe everyday knowing that while some days seem unbearable there are always small rewards (like Banyan street) that keep us going.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Can I Build?

Wow what a day it was yesterday, I found myself feeling so filled with hope and inspiration watching the scenes which unfolded all day long yesterday.  Watching President Obama take office, hearing his words, seeing the crowds it became quite a day of thought and reflection for me.  I've read and read the script of Obama's inauguration speech and I just can not get enough of it.  Yesterday this is what stuck with me for the entire day (oddly enough) "know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy".  While I know he was referring to something completely different this simple statement stuck with me throughout the entire day.  I kept thinking about my own life and the things I wish to "build" .  My oh my I have this HUGE responsibility to my boys I am building two people to be the best men possible, to contribute to society to love those that others will not, to see good in the world, to hope for things people say are unattainable...to run in the direction of love and prosperity, not towards those material things that will not last...to realize in their core that love and memories are really the ONLY things in life that will last forever and so we chase after these things.  I sometimes get some overwhelmed with trying to even express to myself, to organize my thoughts. 

Apart from the boys, I'm trying to rebuild my own life, to chase after only that which will grow me as a person and not those things that only destroy my spirit.  So that means I have to be aware of those things that will destroy me or tear me down...and these are the things I've been thinking about since I heard that sentence uttered yesterday.  I think what I've thought about most is trying to push the fear I experience on a daily basis for what will happen or become of my life this time next year out of my mind...our journey, our entire life journey up to this point was about taking risks, about being stretched, about doing what others said we could not do...these things always worked THEY ALWAYS WORKED (I say this or rather yell it to just remind myself).  I have big hope and dreams for our future.  Our Great Adventure thus far has stretched me as a person but everyday I experience something new, I see new things and I am reminded that life is good and worth living and those things that paralyze me with fear are just road blocks along our rugged journey.  I'll continue to create my new life to be exactly what I want from it no matter what it takes.

Oddly enough as I type, Koen has swallowed a lego helmet!  SO alas THIS blog must come to an end (ahh I'm laughing because he's ok).  Oh life..what a journey...I'll keep thinking about those things I do that destroy me, destroy those around me, and just should be pushed out of my life altogether, like legos.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So there I was driving along a Florida back road when I see the above
sign. Who knows why, but I was so amused by this sign and it left me
thinking of a number of things which I will share some with you now.

1st - I was about to get out of my car to snap a picture of this sign
when I thought AM I NUTS?!?!? (turns out this time I'm not). If the
sign is true then some killer Florida panther could be waiting right
outside my minivan, so I stayed put.

Then I started to think of stupid stuff like holy cow what if you got
a flat tire on this strip of road, I would be losing lug nuts all over
the place constantly worried some panther was lurking in the backround.

Or if you hit a panther (say like you hit a deer) do you get out of
the car to check on the injured beast? I say NO because unlike bambi,
if his guy is not hurt I'm a goner!

I could go on and on but I'll spare you and stop here. Point is this
has to be one of my most favorite street signs to date. Who knew?!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The adventure begins

So TONS has happened since I last wrote. I'm jobless, and homeless, but I have immense peace regarding the decision, so I know with un-waivering doubt I'm doing the right thing. I'll try to sum up the past month in as few words as possible. BUT before I do let me first say, now that this great adventure has begun, I commit to update this blog at least once a week if not more. In fact I do hope it is more as there is so much running through my head I need to get it out.

Alright, so I left New Jersey on December 20th. This was a task I did not think I was going to be able to accomplish but I DID it (crazy dancing in celebration). Surprisingly, when our apartment door slammed behind me for the final time it was as if the weight of 1000 elephants was lifted from my shoulders. No longer would I have to occupy this space where my dreams were shattered, no longer would I re-live the horrific events that those walls bore witness to...these moments are alive enough in my head, to physically be in that space was too intense. What is ironic is that I didn't even know I felt such disdain for this space until that door slammed for the last time, to which I breathed the most amazing sigh of relief I
have ever experienced in life.

On to Christmas. As expected holidays without your dearest just suck! While it was awesome to be with family for such a long time I was indeed happy to see Christmas come and go as quickly as possible. Speaking of wishing something away, I was also filled with glee to see the departure of 2008, which will forever be known as the worst possible year in my life. What I bore witness to in just one years time is mind blowing, but thankfully a new year is upon us
and I have incredibly high expectations.

So flash forward to now and we are on day 4 of our Great Adventure. Two of the four days have been devoted to driving, but we are currently in Florida where we will remain until nearly the
end of February. It took SO much to get to this point, I've felt nearly every emotion in the book and maybe some new ones that haven't been recorded. I look forward to being consistent in my
blogging and sharing each and every thing done and felt on our journey. I leave you with this: today as I watched my boys run down the beautiful beach, excitement bursting from every ounce of their beings...or while I swam around the pool with my 4 year old
for so long we could've been mistaken for raisins...It was this day with these moments that I knew in the core, the very depth of my being that I've done the right thing. This trip, this time
together, these moments shared...this is exactly the only way healing was going to occur for us. Boy oh boy has it been scary as hell leading up to this trip, and even during, but right now I have peace in my guts and I'm quite fond of the feeling. I write it out because I know fear and doubt and anguish will creep back in, so it will be nice to read what I just wrote as a reminder.

I hope you find whatever it is that will bring peace to your guts this year. Whenever you figure out what exactly that is, won't you please share, because I learn so much from the experiences of others as I sure hope you'll learn from mine.