Prompt Seven: Write About a Lesson You Learned or an Insight you Gained At the Time, I felt/thought/acted…Now I understand/admit that…

Most of us search our entire lives searching for love, our partner, the person we will share life with and in many if not most cases raise a family with. I thought I had found that in 2001.

All of us have decisions in life that change the course of our life. These are usually big decisions. Where we go to college, where we decide to live, the kind of work we do and who we decide to marry.

Getting there can often involve smaller decisions. Dating was always extremely difficult for me. The advent of the internet gave me far more confidence to date.

In January of 2001 I sat at my computer with my AOL instant messenger box open debating whether or not to send an instant message to a woman. I had grown tired of dating in general and internet dating specifically. I thought what do I have to lose. I sent the message and there was an instant connection.

We messaged for a few days before we spoke on the phone. It would be about two weeks before our first date. I decided to go out on the date with the goal of having fun and not worrying about the future.

My more relaxed attitude probably had a lot to do with the success of the date. We dated for two years and got engaged on the second anniversary of our first date.

We were married for two and a half more years before our first child was born. We went through a lot to get there. She had been sick beginning about eight months into our relationship.

The various illnesses would have changed most people and made them more appreciative of life. It didn’t seem to do either for both us. Ours was the epitome of a love hate relationship.

None of those illnesses compared to what was to come years later.She contacted a life threatening illness. The prospect of losing her made all the fights, arguments and disagreements seem pointless. I cried myself to sleep every night for two months.

One argument that preceded her illness by a month or two seemed particularly pointless.  As we were having a beautiful dinner outside in the summer I had forgotten to boil the corn to go with dinner.

The insight I gained from her illness is that almost all of our of arguments, disagreements and dissension seemed so trivial. Many of us get caught up in the minutiae of everyday life. What class your kids might take, whose family are you going to spend the holidays with or what are you going to eat for dinner.

When she got sick it made everything else feel pointless. In spite of our contentious marriage, I wanted to show her despite her illness I still loved her and hoped we could put the past behind us.

I learned a lot from a heartbreaking situation. Her illness clarified my love for her. More than anything I wanted to show her how much I loved her.

We were not always nice to each other. She would often call me names, particularly in disagreements with her family. I compounded it by teasing her early in the relationship and occasionally saying things about her family that I could have chosen different words for.

It took an inconceivable tragedy for me to realize how fragile life is. The lesson I learned and insight I gained is how fragile love is. What truly is love? How do we nurture a relationship? How do you put your relationship with your spouse/partner first while still keeping those in your life important.

One of the lessons I learned through all this is that the family you create together needs to come first. She would often say in her arguments “my family” “her family” my answer was always what about our family?

The insight I gained is that the importance of a living will, will and life insurance cannot be understated always have a plan in case you cannot speak for yourself.


Prompt Six: What Year Was Your Maximum Year of Coolness?

Wikipedia defines coolness as: “An aesthetic of attitude, behavior, comportment, appearance and style which is generally admired. Because of the varied and changing connotations of cool, as well as its subjective nature, the word has no single meaning.”

I’ve never thought of myself as cool. I have been fortunate to have been able to do cool things throughout my life. Its hard to pin down one year as coolness. I have hiked the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, Masada, been to the Grand Canyon, Final Four, US Open in Tennis and the Orange Bowl game amongst many other things.

Three years of my life stand out as maximum coolness over all the others.

In 1994 I volunteered for the FIFA World Cup. I was able to volunteer for two games working as a photo runner on the field. Remember film? Before the advent of digital camera’s and cell phones I ran the professional photographers completed rolls of film back to their tents.

The six weeks of volunteering was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I met numerous people that are still friends 22 years later.

I began volunteering for the World Cup about two months before the games began. Because of my early work I was asked to be the volunteer coordinator of our deparmtent. I turned it down because I didn’t feel ready to handle so much responsibility. It is one of the biggest mistakes and regrets of my life.

One of the two games I worked as a photo runner was for the opening game between defending champion Germany and Bolivia. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the Bolivian President and President Clinton were all at the game. Amazingly I had a better view that all three of them.

I also got to see the opening ceremonies from field level. It was a brutally hot day. The temperature was about 95 degrees and extremely humid. Diana Ross was about 15 feet from me and her dress did not leave a lot to the imagination.

Oprah Winfrey was the emcee and Jon Secada also performed. He nearly fell through a hole in stage, but nothing serious happened.

My other memory from that summer was going out with my fellow volunteers and wathing the OJ SImpson chase at a local bar.

My second year of coolness was the first year my ex and I dated. We went on five trips during the first seven months we dated. They were all amazing. The two best were going to the Final Four in Minneapolis and a trip to Florida.

We laughed all weekend in the Twin Cities, especially at the Mall of America. The trip to Florida, especially South Beach was incredibly romantic. I made a gesture at a restaurants on Ocean Drive about it being a perfect time and place to propose even though I did not intend to do so.

My ex and I spent our entire lives wanting children. Having a child and begining a family was a year of maximum coolness very different than the first two.

I remember when her water broke I asked if she was sure. It was blatently obvious what had happened and we looked at each other like is this really happening? Are we really about to become parents?

The drive to the hospital is as vivid as if it was filmed. After nearly eight hours, our first child was born. We loved having a child in our lives.

Four and a half years later were back in Florida on his first birthday. We went to the cafe at Joe Stone Crab and had lunch just the three of us. I remember her joking that we were getting only the best for our son.

Each experience was amazing. I got to accomplish and experience cool things in three very different stages of my life. One was doing something on my own, the second was with the love of my life and the third was co-creating and nuturing a life.

Prompt Five: Write About the Natural Disaster Experience You Had, Never Had and/or Wish You’d Had

The worst natural disasters I’ve ever been involved in were floods a couple of times to two different houses.

The damage was between $10,000 and $15,000 combined from the two floods. Dealing with flooding was difficult. A lot of personal mementos and things that were close had to been thrown out. Some can be replaced while others were heirlooms that are irreplaceable.

On the whole, a flood in the basement that did not affect the rest of the house is minimal. Seeing earthquakes on the west coast and others parts of the world, the wildfires that took place in the Smoky Mountains, tornadoes that happen every year throughout the midwest and southeast, Hurricanes that have impacted the Gulf and East Coast are far greater natural disasters than a flood in the basement of one’s residence.

I have avoided the aforementioned natural disasters a few times. While on vacation in the Bahamas a Hurricane hit the western part of the Caribbean. The cruise ships bound for the East Coast of Mexico and other parts of the western Caribbean were diverted to Nassau. The ships docked in Nassau for a few days before they were on their way after the Hurricane passed.

My other near brush with a natural disaster came when I left a trip to Los Angeles a day before an Earthquake happened. It was a bit unnerving, but thankfully it was not a major one and it had little effect on Los Angeles.

Prompt Four: What is the Biggest Position of Power You’ve Ever Held? How did it Change You?

The biggest position of power I have ever had, was running a local sports league that had about 120 teams. The games were played from Sunday through Thursday nights. Friday nights were make up games for rain outs. The two summers I was in charge were the rainiest summers ever locally

I was in charge of doing payroll for the umpires and staff, setting policy for the league, updating the standings and keeping in touch with the captains and their needs and the needs of the players.

The position gave me more confidence in myself. Being in charge of other people in the hardest thing to do in any job. Not only are you in charge of your own work, you are also in charge of any work of the employees you supervise.

I remember one particular instance when one of my staff members made a mistake. My boss and his bosses asked me if I reprimanded them for it. When I told them I had already discussed it with the staff member they were pleased that I had already worked with the staff on the issue.

Being in a position of power, authority, responsibly when things go well is very empowering and when things go well is a huge confidence builder. It didn’t propel me to higher positions, but at the very least, I knew that I could do that job and do it well.

Prompt Three: Picture a Photo from your Childhood, one you know well.Narrate the scene around the taking of that photo, to the best of your memory.

Prompt Three: Picture a Photo from your Childhood, one you know well.Narrate the scene around the taking of that photo, to the best of your memory.

I was fortunate enough to go to a great overnight camp. The picture I remember was in a beautiful setting. I was on horseback with a beautiful backdrop in nature. Those were some of the best times of my life. I would imagine it was part of the horse show as I was in the ring.

I remember more about how special the place and people were more than the specific picture. I remember thinking I wish they had a boarding school there to be with the same friends year round.

It’s a special place that had an amazing staff,owners and incredible group of kids that for the most part got along. The friendships I had there were very special and I felt myself maybe more than any other time in my life.

I have been able to reconnect with so many of those friends and counselors through the power of social media. I hope to be able to make it back there sometime to visit.

Prompt Two: The Dish Your Mom Always Cooked You Wished Shed Wouldn’t

Growing up there were not any dishes that I can remember my mom cooking that I wish she would not have at the time. Looking back I can think of a few. My mom is a good cook, but it was not her favorite thing to do.

The two dishes that come to mind are Stouffer’s Spinach Souffle and the Cranberry Jell from a can she used to serve.

I started to cook in college when I grew tired of my friends constantly wanting fast food. I love cooking. It’s good for the soul. When I make something and it comes out good it makes me happy and feel good about myself.

I never liked spinach growing up, but I love it now. A local restaurant has a spinach dish served with onions, tomatoes and mushrooms. I have adapted their recipe and made it my own.

I use either mustard or dry mustard, garlic, tomatoes and onions and then create a well in spinach and add an egg until the yolk is nearly cooked and mix the egg(s) with the rest of the ingredients.

I cannot even believe I didn’t know about how easy it easy it was to make homemade cranberry sauce until I was an adult.

It beyond easy. I boil the cranberries until they pop. I add brown sugar and cook it down until the water evaporates and then add vanilla. I have not done it yet, but I hope to add orange zest and/or orange peels in the future.

The old saying is that if you teach a man to fish he will have food forever. We have become a fast food always on the go society and have gotten away from family dinners and food being a major part of our lives. We know how to eat healthier than ever before yet we eat more processed food than ever before. Cancer and heart disease are higher than they have ever been.

Showing children that a home cooked meal does not have to be difficult and time-consuming. As Whitney Houston said “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way”. Cooking, eating well and being healthy are a big part of this.

Prompt One: Letter to a Teacher Asking for Help

The first prompt is “Write a letter to a teacher (or coach) who made a difference in your life asking him or her for help. What are you asking for? Why?

Dear C

I am writing to you to help me get through what has been a devastating five and half years. I’ve suffered through tremendous tragedy and loss. A lot of this was my own undoing and other aspects were out of my control. crime, a medical tragedy, divorce and a vicious custody has left me a shell of myself, whatever that was.

I’ve lost the most important people in my life. I’ve had to hit a major reset button on my own life. I have done a lot of reflecting, re-evaluating and deep soul-searching to figure myself out. As I look back on my life I’ve always struggled getting things done, questioned my purpose in life and have had low self-esteem. As mental health issues become more accepted I know that anxiety and depression are big reasons for my struggles.

I have always searched for answers about myself and who I might be and who I am. I’ve been told I have ADHD, depression and anxiety. Its been doubted if I have bi-polar. Could I be Bi-Polar II? I’ve never had an extreme manic episode or anything that would approach paranoia or schizophrenia.

I need someone to help me find a good psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health professional or anyone else that can help get me to a place where I can learn the tools I need to get to a better place to become a more productive member of society. I want to be happy, to be able to find work that allows me to become more successful and self-reliant.

You’re leadership and mentorship have played a huge part in my life and have put me in a good place for the few times in my life I’ve felt good about myself. You are one of the few people in my life that do not judge me, that believes in me and that accepts me unconditionally.

I really need to be able to get to a professional that can give me the right tools to get me to a healthy place mentally.

I really appreciate anything you can do.

Sincerely, 642