Solitary Places

“Orlando naturally loved solitary places, vast views and to feel himself for ever and ever and ever alone.” – Virgina Woolf.

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We’re not always comfortable enough in our own skin to be by ourselves.  There is real value, however, in learning to be comfortable in our solitude.  I have found as I get older solitude has become more comfortable and more natural.   When I was younger, I hated being alone.

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Albert Einstein, one of the world’s most brilliant minds, left us some nuggets of genius on the topic. He recognize the challenge of solitude when we are young.  Especially in our school years, solitude can be quite painful.  As we get older, we realize how important it is for us.  Consequently, he also commented on how man in general is at one and the same time both a solitary being and a social being.  Every day depending on how much coffee I’ve had, I vacillate between the two.  The more coffee I’ve had, the more social I am.  Some would say, when I have coffee in hand, I glow.

 

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As a mother of three kids, finding solitude has become akin to finding the holy grail. Silent contemplation is a gift of my daily commute into Broward.  Set against the backdrop of an eclectic mix of music, I look forward to my 35 minutes of solitude.   Of course a happy and productive life needs a mix of solitude and togetherness.  One can’t find happiness in either extreme.

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Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach

Last week I received an email announcing the Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach Event.  I can’t believe it is that time of the year again.  We are less than a month away from the racing (running) season in South Florida.  Since the heat index has been in the triple digits since we got back, I’ve been training on the treadmill.   It is never too early to start training as the race will be here in a jiffy.

Today I setup our team for the purple stride event happening on November 19th at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in Boca Raton.  We will be racing under the team Deb Force Five for the third year in a row.  My goal is to be the number one team in fundraising for the second year in a row.  We are shooting for $10,500.

As I updated the information and the team’s website, I got choked up.  It hit me like semi-truck that this year would be painfully different.   August 26th will make five months since we lost Debbie, but it still feels so fresh.  Grief is awful.  Like a thief in the night, it comes out of nowhere and steals your happiness.  It pops up unexpectedly, forcefully and with so much pain.

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After I collected myself a bit, I got on the treadmill to put in my thirty minutes.  The first five minutes were tearful, but as my run continued my hope and sense of purpose returned.  I made a promise to Debbie to continue advocating for pancreatic cancer awareness and fighting for a cure.  It is a promise I cannot and will not ever break.

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In the coming months, we hope to announce the launch of a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy clinical trial that Debbie, Melissa Nicholas and I had started working on last December.   It destroyed me that we were not able to launch the clinical trial, so Debbie could benefit.  In hindsight, I think Debbie knew this since she was a pharmacist.  As a neophyte to the industry, I had hopes that we could get it started right away.

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She was a second mom to my kids and they loved her to pieces.   Her memory is never far for anyone us.  My boys insisted on lighting a candle in Debbie’s memory at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.  Afterwards in the gift shop, they picked out a praying angel, for her, that watches over us from our kitchen.

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You may have seen the new shirts that were posted to the site this weekend.  My boys and I have been hard at work designing shirts and a business plan for our new store.  For all of us, the creative process and the opportunity to honor Debbie’s memory has been cathartic.   The profits from our merchandise will go towards funding the clinical trial and towards a scholarship program that helps families with the expenses for travel hockey.

For more information on Purple Stride Broward-Palm Beach or to join our team click here

For more information of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network click here

Fore more information Pennies In Action click here

Fore more information on our store click here

 

You Being You

Loved this whimsical quote from Dr. Seuss that’s all about you being you and me being me.   The picture of my favorite carousel from Paris didn’t hurt either.  I looked high and low for pictures from our first trip to Paris.   I have a fabulous picture of Jake riding the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, but that photo album has gone ghost.  I digress.

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When we travel, we’re free to be ourselves.  Being free of other people’s expectations and perceptions, if even for a week, is completely liberating.  The truth is we have to learn to accept who we are before anyone else can accept us.  Further, and far more difficult, we have to learn to accept that not everyone will like us.

Reality is when we embrace who we are and we say what we feel those that are important to us will embrace us.  Those that don’t simply don’t matter.   Sometimes one needn’t look further than Dr. Seuss for great advice and Green Eggs and Ham.

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Wisdom Wednesdays

Wisdom Wednesdays are back and today our quote comes from famous 19th century, Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen.  Two hundred years later, his words have not lost their veracity.  As you go about your Wednesday, remember our actions will always speak louder than our words.

When Life Happens

As we get older, leave college, get a job, get married, etc, we quickly settle into our routine.  When life happens it is easy to lose our creativity.   We become so busy that the creative outlets of our your get pushed aside.   Here’s the problem with all of that.  Our creative outlets be it writing, photography, painting or singing not only relieve stress, but they stoke the creative fire of our minds.  Even creative outlets, like painting for me, that are sources of painful reminders of art class failures can stoke that creative fire while healing the soul.

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When we let our creative self go dormant, our thinking becomes constrained.  We get stuck in the rut of life and the rat race.  The issues is you don’t know what has been lost until it has been rediscovered.  As a matter of dealing with grief, I started this blog and began writing again.  The consequence is the way I think and approach the world is changing.  It is broadening with my creative outlets and I’m finding myself thinking more creatively and productively about the challenges I face at work or home.

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Note about the pictures:  I picked the pictures of Jake for this post because of the creative composition of both poses.  I took the the featured image was on Mt. Ulricken in Bergen during this trip.  Jake’s best friend took the photo on the stairs in Venice.  The painting was my second attempt at paint and sip with Debbie and family.  I redid the Eifle Tower about 80 times, but it still looks like a rocket ship.  I took the last photo while on the boat in Flam.

Last Night in Bergen

We had a brilliant lunch post Bergen aquarium near Bryggen with our family before J&B headed to catch the bus for Stavanger.  Tomorrow they’ll be on the hike of their life making their way up to Pulpit Rock.   Our waiter was incredible and bought us a round when the fryer broke and our food took longer than normal.  This was a great gift as beer and cider are extremely expensive in Norway even by South Florida standards.  The food was worth the wait and I enjoyed my fish an chips along with my cider.

 

Post lunch we hit the shops to find some useful souvenirs.  The Mayor found a nice knife he can use for fishing while Goalielocks selected a viking horn that sounds a bit like a kazoo.  The kazoo piece wasn’t intentional, so we’ll be looking for another viking horn for the house.   Jake got a nice Norwegian flag he can hang in his room.

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After two ciders at lunch, my favorite local coffee shop Dromedor was calling my name.   Not too far geographically from the tourist hub, but miles away in terms of its customer base.  This is a great local spot with quality coffee and pastries.   I have quite enjoyed their lattes these past couple of days in Bergen.

For dinner our kids wanted frozen pizzas, which was a complete godsend.  Food is extremely expensive in Norway and this was a perfectly economical way to feed the kids.        Post Pizza we headed to the wold famous fish market to meet J&M (my older bro and family), my grandma and my parents.

They were finishing up their dinner and afterwards we headed for dessert and shuffleboard.  We ended up at the same restaurant where we ate and drank yesterday as it had several shuffleboard tables where the kids could play and not interrupt all of the diners’ dinners.

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After two rousing shuffleboard tournaments, Priya and Zak and I emerged as champions.   Somehow I managed to figure out how to score a couple of points, which was enough for me to be successful.  The kids had a blast and enjoyed their desserts throughout the tournament.

After shuffleboard, we said adieu to our favorite spot, Bergenhus Bryggeri, and headed out to walk the city.   For the first time, we headed up Kong Oscars Gate where X&P found an awesome and cheap hot dog stand.  The group continued to make friends with dog owners and their dogs.   Norwegians love their dogs and take them everywhere.  Their dogs are meticulously groomed and extremely well behaved.

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As the sun started to descend in the sky, we headed back to our AirBnB to pack for our trip to Stavanger.  We have absolutely loved our time in Bergen and will be returning to this wonderful city hopefully soon.

Shiny New Toy

What is it about human nature that when something newer comes along, we tend to abandon our older toys or belongings in favor of the newer, shinier toy?  It would be okay if this was limited to inanimate objects, but this behavior is most egregiously displayed between people.  Sophocles paints a much more eloquent picture of this phenomenon in his play Women of Trachis writing “the eyes of men love to pluck the blossoms, from the faded flowers they turn away.” How is that we’re so quick to turn on those that have been loyal in favor of people that are new to our lives or our organization?  And does it have to be this way?

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The obvious, but not so easy answer is that it doesn’t have to be this way. If we learned anything from the movie Toy Story, and I think we all did, it is that the new and old can co-exist peacefully and productively. When a new person comes into our organization or lives, we want them to feel integrated and a part of the team. In hiring a new person, it is important to hire someone that can integrate into your team as this will alleviate many potential problems.

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In the corporate world, solving this issue comes down to leadership.  Leaders can integrate new members into the team making them feel important without neglecting or negating the accomplishments of existing team members.  One easy to do this is by highlighting the special skillsets and expertise each team member brings to the table and while clearly defining each party’s role in the organization.  This will help ensure new team members can integrate into the team without causing existing team members to think their being replaced.

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In our personal lives, the onus is on us to make sure we do not neglect our friendships.  Life gets busy and relationships evolve, but we can always make time to nurture our friendships be it a call, a text, a Facebook message just to say hi.  There may be finite room in your house to store stuff, but there is no cap on many people we can have in our lives.

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Wheels Up Pt. 3

The hardest of part of travelling out of state for hockey tournaments is trying to fit all of the luggage and all of the players into the trunk.  It’s a bit of a game as you fight with the hockey bags, maneuver the suitcase and ultimately decided you can live with the sticks in the passenger compartment.  Success comes with a true sense of accomplishment once you finally get it all to fit.  Once we got the luggage jigsaw puzzle figured out in the trunk, we headed to my parent’s house in the Northern suburbs.  The ride home was filled with the boys laughter and excited energy.  They were excited to finally make it to our destination, and we were too, but we were exhausted and they were wired.

Once at my mom’s house, Michelle and Andrew got acclimated and felt at home – like most people do at my parents- in short order.  My mom was ready for us with plenty of fresh cookies to go around.  My dad, two weeks post hip surgery, was surprisingly agile and mobile compared to what I had expected.  My parents and my niece and nephew were thrilled to see us and our friends.  Thankfully my parents were able to help us convince the boys they should take a nap before we headed to the Wild game.  They fought taking a nap, but were soon asleep.

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After a nice, lengthy nap we got ready and headed down to St. Paul to see the Minnesota Wild take on the Chicago Blackhawks in game 4 of round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  It was a must win game for the Wild, so the Mayor and I were hoping our squad would show up.  While I’ve been to several Wild games in Minnesota and Michelle had been to several Chicago home games, our boys had only been to Florida Panthers games.  This was going to be a completely different experience for them.

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We got to the game with plenty to spare having hit much less traffic than I had anticipated.  Since we had the kids, we couldn’t really pre-game at McGovern’s or Tom Reid’s so we headed into the Excel Energy Center after buying some nice souvenirs.  The kids were quick to notice that unlike at the Panther’s games, a lot of the crowd starting to file in was already drunk.  Fortunately, neither the Mayor nor Andrew were shy about sharing their observations with others.  They were a magnet for trouble and for the second night in a row, Michelle and I were convinced we were going to get shot or beat up on account of their mouths.

The pre-game started and their mouths were agape.  The game experience in the Excel Energy Center is second to none as is the energy in the crowd.  Having only been to Panthers games previously, the boys’ mouths were agape.  They had never seen a building alive with that much energy.  For them, the experience was incredible and one they still talk about to this day.  As the festivities continued, the fans continued to file in and the boys continued to comment on how they were so drunk they had already spilled beer down the front of their pants.

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Unfortunately for the Wild, the most dynamic part of their game was the pre-game and the introductions.  They were flat the entirety of the game.  The few chances they did have, they did their best to make Crawford look like a god of goal tending.  While the Wild’s play was lackluster, the entertainment from the crowd around us was not.  A couple comprised of a Wild and a Rangers fan, got into a huge fight and at the behest of the surrounding crowd and his other friends, he ditched her.  There was drunk goal to the right of us that managed to fall down two rows barely spilling her beer and not hurting herself.

Perhaps the best moment of the game, was when Andrew started talking smack to the two fans sitting behind him and the Mayor.  They were both drinking and one was spitting some chew.  Andrew felt compelled to tell him that he was going to call his mother and let her know that her son is a drunk that chews.  Thank god they had a sense of humor and  thought that the boys were hilarious.

By the skin of our teeth, Michelle and I survived another adventurous night with our crazy boys.  The Wild lost and the Blackhawks went on to become Stanley Cup champions that year.  Two years later, the Mayor still talks about how incredible it was to be in the Excel Energy Center that night and be a part of the experience.  Making new memories and sharing great experiences with my boys, their friends, and my friends is one of the best parts of having our kids participate in a travel sport.

Part 1 and part 2 of the story can be found below:

Wheels Up

Wheels Up Pt. 2

Wheels up

Two years ago, the Mayor and I headed north with his best friend Andrew and his mom Michelle to a Selects tournament in Minnesota.  We were originally slated to go to tournaments in Minneapolis and Boston, but opted out of the Boston trip when the stars aligned and round two of the Stanley Cup put game four of Minnesota vs. Chicago there during our trip.  It wasn’t a tough choice.

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From the first minute of the trip, I knew it was going to be an epic weekend.  We were flying out of PBI on Zachary’s birthday.  When we got to the airport to check our bags at the Southwest counter, the customer service rep handed us a $200 in vouchers and a hotel voucher for a luxurious stay in Atlanta.  Lucky us!  We headed to security where we met up with our friends.  As we prepared to go through the queue, the boys felt compelled to ask if Doritos were considered a weapon.  Thankfully, TSA had a sense of humor that day.

As we waited to board, we watched in awe as several elderly passengers sat in wheel chairs waiting to get pushed to the baggage area.  The airport was not staffed to handle the volume of wheelchairs and they soon grew impatient.  No more than five minute had passed before they felt compelled to take matters into their own hands.  Soon they all stood and started pushing their chairs.  Only in Florida….

Finally boarding zone B was called and we were free to board the plane.  Our boys, on their way to their way to their first out of state tournament and their first Stanley Cup playoff game, were bouncing off the walls.  At the time, the Mayor had just turned 9 and Andrew was still 8 and only came with one volume level extra loud.  We got them calm enough to stand in line to get on the plane.

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As we walked down the aisle of the plane to find some window seats for the boys and ourselves, people stopped moving as our fellow passengers put their carry-ons on the overhead.  As luck would have it, we were stopped in front of a very attractive, young black woman wearing a white shirt and no bra.  Had this site only elicited giggles, it probably would have been okay, but we were not going to get off that lucky.  Nope the boys had to announce that they could see her nipples.  Oh the shades of red Michelle and I turned as they loudly shared their discovery with us.

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We continued filing to the back of the jet, but the boys could not believe what they just saw.  They were completely transfixed (pretty much like every other guy I know.)  As our flight took off and headed to Atlanta, the boys became distracted by discussions of hockey, jets and life in general.  Lucky for us, we would continue to cross paths with the women in the white shirt everywhere we went in the ATL terminal.

To be continued.

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