Friday, April 30, 2010

Trust Gratitude Inspiration Friday #3

Twenty seven years ago today, Sue and I got married in a little tiny Baptist Church in Littleton Colorado.

Sue and I went to a resturant today called The Melting Pot and as we were over on that end of town, decided to go see the church where we got married.

Desert at the Melting Pot

Amazingly, the church is still there and even more amazing is the pastor that married us still serves at that church and we had a nice chat with him.

We flew out to San Francisco for our honeymoon.  Sue's brother Rick, drove us to the airport and offered to buy us a drink as we waited for our plane.  Rick didn't have any money so Sue and I bought the drinks :)

We got in to late to pick up our rental car so I hailed a pink cab which marked the very first road trip of our marriage as Sue giggled all the way from the airport to our hotel at Union Square. 

After a wonderful honeymoon, we returned home to begin our lives together with my dog Erin(an advowed cat hater) and Sue's cat Shasta.

Twenty seven years later, we live together with our children, Laura and Adam, our dogs, Harley, Rocky and Kansas and one very unhappy and mean grey cat, Paws.

A couple of months ago, Sue received a champion of excellence award for her volunteer work with Colorado Youth at Risk.

I had written Casey the following day and asked her if she would send me the acknowledgement she read for Sue.

Sue likes to tell this story that I was crying as Casey read this. 

If there was only one thing I would want people to know about this person, is that she gives of herself more than any other person I have ever met.

Her heart, passion, and commitment to love, relationships, community and to Colorado Youth at Risk amazes me.  Each time I speak with her I am left with an overwhelming sense of just how deep her dedication goes.  With over 480 hours of volunteer in just 2009 alone- which equates to nearly 3 months of full time work with us, you can begin to see just what an incredible person she is.

This wonderful lady is a person that is limitless with her own personal growth and with her growth in Colorado Youth at Risk.  In the short year that I have known her, I have seen her find her own personal voice and become even more of a leader than she already was.  She is one of our few volunteers that coaches youth and trains mentors.  She has had two mentees, one of which is a Daniel's scholar and the other is well on her way to becoming a nurse.  And if this wasn't enough, she has been a community coach, group leader, and is the first ever Mentor Enrollment Team manager.  It is in large part because of her, that we have more mentors at this time for our upcoming programs, than we have ever had before.

Not only is she in my own personal circle of champions, but in Colorado Youth at Risk's as well.

Sue, 27 years later I am so grateful to you for our lives together, for the inspiration you bring to my life, the commitment, trust and love you share with Laura and Adam and me.

I love you and I am so honored to be your husband, friend and partner in life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Tonight is the pairing ceremony where I will find out which young person I am going to be mentor for the next 12 months.

I am incredibly stressed out and nervous about this process.

The mentor training I took earlier this year and the launch course two weeks ago feel like it happened such a long time ago.

I feel woefully unprepared right now.

Can I do this?

Can I make a difference?

Do I have anything to offer a young person?

Will my young person hate me and quit the program because they are paired with me?


One of the other mentors I met at the launch course has a great acryonym for F.E.A.R

He describes fear as a fantasy expectation appearing real.

I hope that is all this is. Is this jus  another story my physcotic 24 x 7  roommate has planted in my head?

Most of the things I spend so much time and energy worrying about never come to pass and yet I I continue on  in my story.

More to come.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trust Gratitude Inpiration Friday #2

I spent last weekend in Buena Vista at a four day launch course with Colorado Youth at Risk.  Sue has been volunteering with this organization for the last three years.  This is a cause she feels passionate about and she led the efforts for the mentor recruitment for two high schools, George Washington and Aurora Central.

Click here to watch a  short video about this program.

There were many amazing moments over the four days.  I had to keep reminding myself that these young people were only 14 or 15 years older.  They have had some very powerful things that they have had to deal with at such a young age.

One of the young men that was in my cabin shared that he had been in a gang since he was seven years old. 

 Half of his life and he is 14.   He proudly told us on Sunday that he has been drug free for the last three weeks.

14 years old, gang member and dealing with drug addiction. Just one of the stories we heard and I am afraid it is not than unusual of a story.

There were stories of rape, abuse, choices that led to a teenage pregnancy.

Many of the young people were very shut down, they would try to hide in their hoodies.  Become ghosts. 

One young girl who was absolutely beautiful and was so uncomfortable in her beauty would try and hide behind her coat, muffle her voice.

Friday the young people ran a "mile" and the instruction was to run at 100% the entire time.  What possibilites could they find participating with that level of commitment?  What would 100% look like?  What would it feel like?  Some ran the entire time, some had to walk some of the course.  The elevation was almost 10,000 feet.  I can attest that the air was rare as I had run(wheezed) my way through a couple of very painful runs.

Everyone finished!

Saturday, the activity was a ropes course.

There were several stations:

Leap of Faith, where the young people had to climb to a platform 30 feet off the ground and then leap for something. 

Some lept for better relationships with their family, some lept for freedom from gangs, vilolence and drugs and even for Mickey Mouse.

One teen lept for her brother who is stationed in Afghanastan.

Everyone that made it to the platform was able to complete their leap of faith.  One girl was not able to make it to the platform,  but she was able to get higher than she thought she could.

              Climbing the stairway to heaven.

The other activity that was very impactful was called the Freedom Fall.  You stand on top of stage and fall stiff as a board off the stage into the arms of the other people on the team.

Everyone has to announce what they are falling for and the person who is falling has to have complete trust in the people that are about to catch him or her. 

The people that are catching have to trust that the person that is falling will fall stiff as a board with their hands and arms clapsed together.

One of the things that was repeated over and over again last weekend was the statement that "I've got your back". 

When you catch someone that is totally prone or fall into their arms, it really brings that home.  You have to trust at 100% that you are safe.

I didn't want to do the freedom fall ,but after all the young people had done it the mentors wanted to do it and one by one I was the last one to go.   One of the young people in my group gave me the coaching on what I was to do.

It was much harder than I thought it would be.  I had to take several deep breaths to ground myself and I fell to have freedom of self expression and freedom to be playful.  Two areas in my life where I get stopped.

So for me, there were many things last weekend that were all about building trust.

I was grateful that Sue was at the launch course and that we could share this with one another.  One of the first little games we played was a mingling game and the facillitator give you a question to ask.  "Who is the most positive person in your life"?.  My answer was easy.  That person is my wife, my best friend.

I was having a huge breakdown during one of the activities called the possibility walk.  Every person had to walk across the course room and act totally foolish and no one could complete the walk the same way.

I stood there frozen, totally stopped.  I could barely breathe.  I just wanted to bolt out of the room and hide.

Sue confronted me, challenged me.  I didn't like it one bit at the time, thought it was horrible coaching.  Why is she being so mean? 

There were fewer and fewer people left on my side of the room.  I kept thinking I can't do this.  That voice in my head that always tells me, I am not good enough was having a field day.

I finally ran across the floor and ran like Phoebe Buffet did in Friends , arms flailing wildy, and slid across the line at the other side of the room with a flourish.  On the outside it all looked good and on the inside I was dying. 

I felt trapped, humilated. I stood there shaking, my arms wrapped across my body.   How in the world can I be a mentor and make a difference to someone if I can't do this one thing?

Later, I could see in that moment that is what this next year of mentoring might be like.  It is not always going to be easy.  There will be breakdowns and breakthroughs.  The coaching Sue gave me was not what I liked, it was what I needed.  Darn it!

Saturday night there was a letter that I wrote and burned during the forgiveness fire, another powerful and healing moment in my life that I shared with Sue.

I was inspired by many of these young men and women who shared their stories, at how they live their lives and that they are willing to imagine the possibility of something different, soemthing greater for themselves.

This week I want to give a shout out to two of my friends that are doing amazing things.

My friend Shayna is shaving her head next month to raise money for cancer research.  Loma Linda Childrens hospital will be a reciepent of the money that Shayna raises.  LLCH is the hospital where Laiken underwent treatment. 

That is courage, giving up looking good.  Standing in the possibility of a world without cancer.  Standing for Laiken, Kelly and her Momma.  Never giving up or giving in. 

Yes, Inspired!

My other shout out goes to my friend Dane who is running a 202 mile relay race this weekend and the wrinkle in the challenge is he is running the race solo.  You can follow his progress by clicking here.

What inspired you today?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love 4 Laiken

Please take 10 seconds and sign the dedication page I created yesterday for Laiken Kenwood.

Laiken passed away two years ago today.  Laiken's Mom left a post on Laiken's caringbridge site yesterday and my heart just aches for Stacey.

I wanted to do something to honor Laiken and I am hoping that everyone that reads this will take 10 seconds of their time and sign their names to Laiken's dedication page and would really love it if you would be kind enough to forward this link on to everyone you know.  I am hoping to get 500 signatures.

The Lance Armstrong foundation is creating the worlds largest dedication page to give to world leaders in an effort to get them to take action in this cancer fight.

I am glad that Kelly and Laiken and most recently my Aunt Joy are forever free from cancer.  However I am not happy that they couldn't be free from their cancer in this life.   I am selfish.  I don't understand this at all.

Cancer just marches on and we are hurt.  We feel lost without these vibrant people that we love.

Tonight, I wish I had some words of hope and inspiration to offer that someday this will end and cancer will be vanquished.

For now, I will keep fighting to honor Laiken's legacy.  Smile on pretty girl. 

Love for Laiken

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We are Columbine

Today marks the eleven year anniversary of the Columbine High school shootings in Littleton Colorado.

Hard to believe that some of these young people , would be, should be approaching their 30th birthday's.

The daughter of a colleague of mine at work, was in the cafeteria that day and saw some of her classmates get shot. 

She later hid in the stall of the bathroom as the gunmen shot out the mirror.  I am friends with her younger sister who is a sophmore at Columbine now.

Her Dad said Tiffany was never really the same after the shootings at Columbine.   Six years later she was murdered.  Was she another victim of Columbine? 

I wonder how many other stories are like that...

Please take a moment to read the namesand remember those that were taken away from their families that day.

Cassie Bernall, 17. Active in church youth programs and Bible study groups. Recently visited Britain. Favorite movie was Mel Gibson's ''Braveheart.''

Steven Curnow, 14. A freshman, dreamed of being a Navy top gun and piloting an F-16. Watched ''Star Wars'' movies so often he could recite dialogue. Played soccer as a boy; learned to referee to earn pocket money.

Corey DePooter, 17. Loved to golf, hunt and fish. Former wrestler. Had taken maintenance job at a golf club to save up for a boat with a friend. Good student.

Kelly Fleming, 16. Aspiring songwriter and author. Wrote scores of poems and short stories based on her life experiences. Was learning to play guitar. Had recently moved from Phoenix. Was eager to get her driver's license and part-time job.

Matthew Kechter, 16. A junior, had hoped to start for the football team. Lifted weights. Maintained A average.

Daniel Mauser, 15. A sophomore, excelled in math and science, and earned straight A's on last report card. Ran cross country and joined debate team.

Daniel Rohrbough, 15. Helped in his father's electronics business and worked on family farms in Kansas during the summer. Enjoyed computer games, stereos and home theater systems.

William ''Dave'' Sanders, 47. Columbine teacher for 24 years, including in business and science. Coached girls' basketball and softball. Married, three daughters and 10 grandchildren. Shot twice in chest while directing students down hallway to safety. Survived at least 3 1/2 hours.

Rachel Scott, 17. Played lead in a student-written play, ''Smoke in the Room.'' Active in Celebration Christian Fellowship church. Liked photography. During rampage, younger brother Craig, 16, played dead in library and helped lead others to safety.

Isaiah Shoels, 18. Due to graduate in May. Suffered health problems as a child and had heart surgery twice. Wanted to attend an arts college and become a music executive. Small in stature but lifted weights and played football and wrestled.

John Tomlin, 16. Enjoyed driving off-road in his beat-up Chevy pickup. Worked after school in gardening store and belonged to a church youth group. Went on missionary trip to Mexico and built a house for the poor. Wanted to enlist in the Army.

Lauren Townsend, 18. Captain of girls' varsity volleyball team, coached by her mother. Member of the National Honor Society and candidate for valedictorian. Wanted to major in biology in college.

Kyle Velasquez, 16. Had attended Columbine only three months. Loved computers, the Denver Broncos and dreamed of joining the Navy, as his father had. Devoted to family. Buried with full military honors at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.

The names of Columbine.

We are Columbine. We must never forget what happened. I pray for the day where no one has to relive the horror of that day.

Light and Love x Columbine...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Aunt Joy

My Mother's sister, Joy Monahan passed away early this morning.

Aunt Joy had a very aggressive form of bladder cancer which had spread to other parts of her body.

Joy was reunited this morning with her parents, Frank and Rose and her son Jim who died in a plane accident on labor day in 2008.

When Laura went to college in Florida during her freshman year, it was a great comfort that we had relatives to look out for her.

That was the last time I saw Aunt Joy was on the road trip to Boca Raton.

After hurricane Wilma  closed the Florida Atlantic campus in 2005, Laura and Nate had a safe place to go to.

I went out to dinner tonight and was reading a book, Life is a Verb by Patti Digh.  Most of the time as I have been reading this book, I have felt very uplifted and tonight as I was reading, I had tears streaming down my face.  I wonder what my waitress was thinking...

So tonight my heart aches again for the communal sense of sorrow that cancer brings to us. 

Next week will mark the two year anniversary of Laiken's passing. 

Four weeks ago today, marked the two year anniversary of Kelly's passing.

A long forgotten memory of Aunt Joy popped into my mind tonight. 

We were spending the night at my Uncle's house and if I remember this correctly, my cousin Jim somehow accidentally popped a ballon that we were playing with.

And for some reason, I sobbed uncontrollably over that. 

Aunt Joy just sat on the edge of the couch talking to me, soothing me.  I remember she sat there patiently rubbing my back.  I am sure she had no idea why this had set me off and as a Mother she knew what I needed. 

She just sat with me and continued to rub my shoulders and back until I fell asleep.  A simple act of love and compassion. 

We never talked about it after that night. 

40 plus years later, I am grateful for the love she showed me that night.

"I will not die an unlived life....I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me...I choose to risk my significance". -Dawna Markova

Friday, April 9, 2010

Trust Gratitude Inpiration Friday

 I love this thought from Brene Brown.  She has a recurring post on Friday's about Trust, Gratitude and Inspiration.

Quick shout out to one of my bloggy and Team in Training Friends, Courtney, who is also blogging on Friday's about inspiration.

I have decided to follow their lead so my Friday's posts will be about Trust, Gratitude and Inspiration.

I attended the Leukemia Cup Regatta kickoff meeting on Friday.

I know absolutely nothing about sailing and it was quite the eye opening education.

The images I have of sailing were of President Kennedy sailing in an idyllic setting.  Memories of the Camelot era in our country.

Gary Jobson was the keynote speaker at the event.  He gave us a fascinating glimpse into the sport sailing.  

Gary followed an inspiring story that was told by Preston Wilson, the Rocky Mountain Chapter's boy of the year in 2009.  Preston is seven years old and he was a tough act to follow.

The part of Preston's story that really reasonated with me was when he said, "the cancer fight didn't end for me, when I was declared to be in remission.  I am up here fighting for all of the other kids, who are undergoing treatment".

 Seven years old.

Preston's Mom told us, that "Cancer was a beautiful gift to our family, disguised in some very ugly wrapping paper".

Kelly's mom also talked about cancer being a gift.  Kelly chose her cancer, lived her life focusing on the gifts, no matter how ugly the gift was wrapped.

Seeing so many people that live a life of trust and gratitude during the cancer journey.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LLS Man/Woman of the Year Midway rally

I went to the Rocky Mountain Chapter Man/Woman of the year mid year rally tonight after work.

We got to meet the boy and girl of the year.  They are the reason, the inspiration for the men and woman who are putting themselves on the line.

This is one of many of the signature fund raising campaigns for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This is a 10 week contest where each candidate runs to become the man and woman of the year and every dollar that is raised counts as a vote.  The candidate with the most votes($$$) wins.

It was a nice night.  I got to chat with the Mom and sister of the former boy of the year Robert.  Robert's sister Cassandra is running in honor of Robert this year.

How awesome is that for both of them.

This was a night full of hope, determination, inspiration, commitment.

When I got home I read an email from my Mother. 

Cancer struck once again in our family.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cycling and Family traditions

Laura and I went for a bike ride this afternoon.

When Laura was a young girl, we did a 20 mile bike ride. Laura had a 3 speed bike.  I had an old Schwinn 12 speed bike.

Things are quite different now.

We rode 26.5 miles today and tonight I am sore and tired.  I think Laura is going to be an awesome triathlete.

She has the huge advantage of being able to swim.  That seems to be the weakest link in the chain for most people when they move to that sport.

I spent most of the ride today, trying to grab her rear wheel and by the time I would finally catch up to her, my legs were screaming. 

Tonight Sue made one of our family favorite meals, "Chicken A La Sue". 

Laura had a tiny helping of mashed potatoes for dinner tonight.

Mighty Mason Nerfed Cancer!

I attended the worlds largest nerf party  on March 20, to celebrate the end of Mason's relaspe cancer treatment.

I first met Mason and his Mother, Catherine at the Team in Training kickoff in May 2008.

Catherine is training for her 3rd Team in Training event in honor of Mason.  Please click here if you would like to make a donation in honor of Mason and to help find a cure for blood cancers.

I am a big fan of Catherine's blog. Please check it out and see what shoe's Catherine is wearing.

I love this picture of Mason flushing his last oral cancer treatment down the toilet.  A fitting way to treat cancer.

Rock on Mighty Mason!!!