Posts Tagged With: Life

Sleepless in Anchorage

Last night Lynda and I decided to have a snuggle night and with my tv (she won’t claim to own one) we decided on “Sleepless in Seattle”. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.. Innocent enough, and Lynda mentioned she had never seen it.

For those of you that have not seen it, the story is about loss and renewal. The story is of a husband who loses his soul mate to some undefined disease. The opening scene is from a graveside service with the boy and the dad standing at the grave site and his dad is trying to explain to his son that there didn’t seem to be any specific reason for his wife dying, that it was simply life being random in its selection of those it takes. and even more so: “If we start asking why, we’ll go crazy”.. I quit asking why her very, very quickly. Anger is an emotion that can spin out of control.

While Lynda and I lie on the couch, the year 2001 came roaring back in vivid color. My emotions, while under some sense of control, was given the reminder of what it means to lose a soul-mate. Something, even as I write can cause my eyes to leak. The movie went on that since his loss, “Sam” the person that Tom Hanks plays, cannot sleep. I remember that well. At the very best,  I could catch 1/2 hour cat naps once or twice during the day. And for those that know my penchant for sleeping at the drop of a hat, that is a big statement.

At that point in time, as far as I was concerned, my married days were over.  Sure, I would date, but the idea of finding another soul mate in this life time was zero. I had my time in the sunshine, Connie was my girl and she was gone, much like Sam’s in the movie. Eventually I became functional, but the words that Tom Hanks uttered hit home harder than I expected.. he was quoting me… “Wake up, take a breath, remember to breathe out, take another step”.. repeat. and remember to breathe in.. and take another step.

It was if “Sam” and I had walked in the same shoes down the same dark trail. Scary indeed. Lynda checked in with me a couple of times, but I was determined to watch the movie through. I can remember doing much like the character, lying on a couch talking to Connie as if she were standing right there. that was my new normal.

At some point in the movie there was a part where Sam was about to get mixed up with the wrong person, and his son fixed it for him. I can remember coming dangerously close to the same thing. Someone I was dating was looking for much more than I was willing to give. But in the end that ended well.

As the movie progressed it told of “fate”. of “knowing” when you have met someone that you have no doubt you will love for the rest of your life. That you have “found home” even knowing you had never seen it before, that this was where you were meant to be.

To quote Sam: “I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home… only to no home I’d ever known… I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like… magic”

When Lynda and I reconnected, I was nervous.. scared. Worried that again, I was making a mistake in reaching out to someone, but the funny part? I knew it deep in my bones that Lynda was the only one on the planet that had a chance of pulling me out of the world I had grown into.

When we met at the airport, that world began to melt away, the darkness, the loss, the hurt suddenly began to dissipate, evaporate. The passion was there, but there was something else. Like with Connie, when I heard her laugh at that restaraunt, I knew something was about to happen, and when I laid eyes on her, I knew.. I knew in my heart, that she was going to be my wife.

Lynda and I left airport terminal and went out to my truck. We hopped in and I started the engine. I reached over and took Lynda’s hand and the world stopped. I mean it stopped cold. That touch, that hand hold, took both our breaths away. At that point, I realized two things.

One.

I had judged every hand I had ever held based on that very same hand that I held from my high school days. With no doubt, every girl I dated, every female I had ever held hands with, that hand, Lynda’s hand, was what I judged every woman on, for better or worse. It was one of the most wonderful epiphanies I have ever had

Two

I had just become the luckiest guy in the universe. I had found what I deemed impossible, a second soul mate. I mean that. When you meet someone, that one person, you know it. There is, and was, no doubt, that Lynda and I would spend the rest of our days together, however long those days would be.  I describe it as the world suddenly “clicking” into place and the hands of fate had come full circle.

The movie helped me to remember that sometimes, when you lose something special, that in that moment, the universe is by far the most cruel thing there is. And in the next moment, when you find yourself staring at a magical place in time, that you use that memory to reach out instead of hide.. take that leap of faith and see what may be.

There is magic in this world, just remember to keep your eyes open to it. Sometimes it is something as easy as an email to someone you haven’t seen in 22 years.

May your new year be just that, a new year, full of excitement, adventure, fun, and love. Keep those that you care about close to you, never let them doubt how you feel, and live with a sense of urgency… Live the life that you dream of, and keep your eyes open.. The universe is stranger than fiction.

 

 

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Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Cancer, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Christmas that shouldn’t be

I look at that title of this post. and I re-read it again. It has been four years since Lynda and I were hit with the cold hard fact that her cancer had spread. and without Lynda in the room, I asked Dr. Sinclair the question that would bounce around in my head in more ways than I could ever imagine it would.

How long?

How do you spit that question out? How do you wrap your head around that kind of a question? My tongue was numb, hell, I was numb. I was in probably the deepest state of shock I had ever been in, but also I had known from the first PET scan that Lynda, my second wife was in trouble. Just like I knew Connie , my first wife, was in trouble when the words “pancreatic cancer” rolled out of that surgeons mouth in 2001. I knew that the likelihood of Connie making it for any period of time was nil.

Now, there I sat, with my second wife and now this ugly beast had reared its head in the dark and turned our way. Staring into the eyes of a dragon is a life changing event.

Dr. Sinclair, who I considered to be an excellent oncologist prefaced his statement with “We don’t know”. It could be… and at that point I tuned everything out. As I watched his lips move, I was rocketed back to the days with Connie. Spending days in the hospital bed, cuddled up next to her realizing that time was getting shorter with every passing day. And I was so wrapped up in losing her that I couldn’t figure out how to live… for those last few weeks, it was as if I was sitting around an empty coffin, just a matter of time before I found it filled.

I came back to the conversation finding Dr. Sinclair looking down at the floor, we both realized that this diagnosis was as dire as any that I had ever heard. Lynda and I left the office that day, and went for a walk, trying to talk about what we thought was coming. The options, any ideas? What in the hell do we do now? It was crushing. We talked, we cried, and we sucked it up and determined that we would do everything we could to beat this dragon.

As it progressed I think a light bulb went off in our heads. We are all going to die at some point, the end is never the destination, the journey is. Life is the journey, and it is what you make it. I remember a line from the “Shawshank Redemption”

Get busy living or get busy dying

Damn straight.

Lynda and I have always lived full tilt boogie, ask any of our friends. We don’t take life lightly. We decided to up that a notch, and go for the gusto. The road trip, Belize, getting in touch with old friends, making sure our family knew how we felt about them, then re-confirming all that once again.

Lake Harmony

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erick and Lynda bristlecones

Over two years later, and that dragon that had turned to us in that rough night is now sleeping. It rustles every so often, but does no damage other than remind us that life is uncertain, an ending is forever possible, and at some point, inevitable. But we think we found the secret to life. Live it. Run it as hard as you can, you won’t get a second chance, unless you get lucky like we did. We are in our second chance now. And it is good.

Us in Guatemala

Me and my wife

Me and my wife

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What has cancer done for us? Our sister in law has often asked “How can serve you” (can cer v u). and it has in more ways that I can count. This disease has made me appreciate every day I have with my wife and friends. It has made me a better man. And together, it has made us a much closer couple. Lynda is healthier now than she has ever been. As am I. Mentally we are tough enough to deal with anything that life has to offer, and perhaps a bit more.

Then there is the Christmas time of the year. This was Connie’s favorite time of the year as it is Lynda’s. For me it has always been tough as I get nostalgic remembering the Christmases of my past. The Charlie Brown Christmas tree with Connie. Connie and I decided to cut our own Christmas tree in Alaska, and found what we thought was the area to cut a tree, found one in Chugach National Forest and proceeded to cut it down, waist deep in snow.

We loaded it up in my little Dodge D50 pickup truck and off we went back to our happy little trailer in Anchorage. We  put it in a tree holder and filled the tree stand with water. A couple of days went by and it began to turn brown. I kept wondering what was going on? I looked at the water level and it hadn’t changed. added a bit more water and watched. Slowly over the next couple of weeks, the needles fell out and we were left with a bare tree with all its decorations about it. A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Then I realized that the stump was bout a quarter inch or so above the water line. We laughed about that for years.

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There fun we had as kids with my mom, never realizing just how little money we had, yet Christmas was such fun. The Pinatas, friends coming over, the smell of turkey in the air. I can remember the squeal of delight from my younger sisters as the threw themselves at the wrapped toys under the tree. I took great delight in that. Knowing that my brother Danny and I had spent a lot of the evening, wrapping those same presents. My mom in her chair at the dining table looking down with a worn but happy smile. those were magic times.

I realize now that the conversation with Dr Sinclair hung in the back of my mind for all this time. Lynda should not be here. Based on patient history of  those whose cancer that has spread, she should be gone, and I should be a widower yet again. and had this scenario played out, I am at a loss as to where I would be. and that thought chills my bones to the core. However, I am humbled by this Christmas that shouldn’t be.

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It is by far one of the greatest gifts that the universe could have ever bestowed on me. And my promise? I won’t squander it, and instead of being “Grinchy” I opt more for the “It’s a wonderful life” attitude. This is indeed the Christmas that shouldn’t be.  And may there be many more, not only for us, but for all of you who read this post as well.

Merry Christmas to all  and a quote from “It’s a wonderful life”

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he”?

Here is to the lack of holes in your world.

Merry Christmas to all

Note*** And especially to Regina, who just lost her husband, I truly know the loss, and if ever we can be of help, reach out, we are here.

 

Erick and Lynda Carpenter

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Cancer, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Dash

I once heard from a guy or read in a book, I don’t remember which, that a guy was standing at a grave site and looking at the headstone. On that headstone was two dates. And he was staring very intently at those two dates. Someone standing next to him made a comment about the end date.. and how final it was. The guy looked over and said that those two dates had no significance, instead it was the “dash”. The point in between the two dates. “We are all born, and we all die, but the dash is the important part, how you live your life”. Then he turned and walked away from the stone.

That, among many things I have heard or read over the years had an impact on how we live. Lines that I often quote are some from “The Shawshank Redemption”…

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Lynda and I chose the former. When faced with some really shitty news, or given a dire diagnosis, everyone gets to make a choice. Sometimes that choice is to do nothing and let life take its course. One is to fight tooth and nail for every moment, and use every tool available to scratch out what is hopefully another minute of life. Another still is to choose a different path. Let the diagnosis do whatever it may, but instead of focusing on treating the disease, make the best educated choices you can, and then?

Get busy living.

So since Lynda’s dire diagnosis, Lynda chose to educate herself as well as she could, use the tools, but instead of just focusing on survival, to get busy living a life that is as packed full of stories that we could load into a lifetime, be it just a day away or fifty years away. We focus on the here and now, and keep an eye on the future. What people don’t seem to understand is…… that we get it.

Yesterday is a cashed check, tomorrow is a promissory note, today is ready cash… Spend it wisely.

With that frame of mind, we are packing as much as we possibly can into this life, hoping for a future, but not willing to bet our lives on it. Instead bet on here and now, as that is our “dash” our important part. Our plans or our “bucket list” grows daily. And what shakes out is what shakes out. But that current list goes something like this:

  • Tibet – Being on part of a medical team to help the folks there, backpacking from town to town
  • Africa – A photo safari of the migrations there
  • British Virgin Islands – An island hopping trip for 10-14 days with close friends
  • Alaska – Road trip in our RV so Lynda can see all the majesty that I have seen
  • Europe – Greece, Italy, backpacking through Europe on a European Tran Pass and see Europe first hand
  • Diving in Palau
  • Diving in Australia
  • Visit New Zealand
  • Backpack on the Appalachian Trail
  • Backpack through the Black Hills
  • More backpacking in Alaska

Just a start, with Lynda doing her Masters, it may be a bit before the major push on this list. The Masters in complimentary and alternative medicine is another bucket list item for Lynda, and that is underway. However, while she works on this bucket list item, I can work on mine. What I will ask from each of you that follows this blog, take some time and make a bucket list. Day dream, play fantasy, and write down the things in life you would truly like to do… Then pick the top three.

Then make plans to do that bucket list item. What will that item take? How will you do that adventure? and plan your goal out. plan for the time off from work. plan for the expenses. Make that adventure your goal. Tell your friends about what that “bucket list item” is. Everyone lives in the thought of “I have time”. and I am sure that those people who went to work on 9/11 in New York thought the exact same thing. And it truly sucks to have your life cut short with no warning. And folks? That is usually the way it works. You are there one minute. And gone in the next.

So do Lynda and myself a favor. Let us inspire your “dash”. Let our adventures inspire you to reach yours. Use your passion, your imagination and your dreams to be your guide. Time is no ones friend. It is the one thing you cannot get more of nor can you get it back once it is spent. But you can make the most of what you have. Do that for us. Do that for you.

Make your dash count…

 

erick and Lynda bristlecones  2013 NOLS ELLE B

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Erick Lynda Garrett -2 Table Rock Jungle Erick and Lynda

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Namaste

 

 

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Colorado… land of dreams…

It was the back to school dance of 1980. I (Lynda) was starting my sophomore year: Erick was starting his Junior year at Goddard High School in Roswell, NM. That was when it all started.  Erick had seen me during the school year but I was going steady (remember that term) with a friend of his named Frank. Frank and I broke up over the summer and I was a single girl… until that Back to School dance. Erick wasted no time. He immediately asked me to dance and we danced all night together. Yes, he asked for my phone number and with much excitement I gave it to him.

When he called the next week (he was genius) he said that he was taking his younger sister to the circus in town and would I like to go. How could mom say no to that? He was such a gentleman. He, of course, met my parents and promised to have me home right after the circus. He opened my door and did all the things that a young man is supposed to do. Oh, and he cleaned up so nice. I was so proud to take his arm and hold his hand and walk next to him. Little did I know that 22 years later when I took that hand again it would take our breath away. More on that later…

As we began to get more and more serious in our dating he gave me a Promise Ring. It had our names down each side and a tiny diamond at the top. We talked about where we would go after we graduated high school. I had moved to Roswell in the summer of 1979 between ninth and tenth grade. My freshman year, 1978, was spent in Colorado Springs; CO. Colorado was greener than anything I had ever seen at the time.

My parents moved there from Oceanside, CA where I went to seventh and eights grade.  Oceanside was ok but it was a rough time for me and I was thrilled to leave. Colorado was different. I had always lived in the desert, never where the scent of pines filled the air and there was snow.  And yes, I had to walk a quarter mile in the snow to wait for the school bus. We had 3 acres just outside of Colorado Springs and we could look out over the city lights at night and see the tram lights as they went up the side of Pikes Peak. Under a full moon the snow on the mountains would glisten and reflect the moonlight. Twinkling stars were everywhere.

We decided after graduation we would move to Colorado and buy an A-frame house and grow old together. We talked about living in Colorado; what it would be like and what we would do.

Well, he had difficulty with a certain vice-principle in school. It was clear that Mr. Lair was going to do everything he could to see that Erick didn’t graduate. Erick knew he couldn’t support me without an education so he went to speak to the recruiters. He would have liked to join the Air Force but poor vision and glasses deleted that option so instead he enlisted in the Marines. He knew I would talk him out of it so he didn’t tell me until right before he left for boot camp. I was angry. No, I was Livid! But there was nothing I could do but let him go and promise to be here when he came home.

He came home after graduation from boot camp. OMG did he looked good. He walked taller and straighter than I had ever seen anyone walk. He was no longer a high school kid, he had become not just a man; he had become a Marine. He was home for about 15 days and then he was gone again. He had become a Marine, but I was still just a high school girl whose worth is measured by whether she had a date to the prom. Long story short, I lasted through boot camp but I didn’t have what it took to wait for him to come home again. So our romance ended with a letter.

It was 10 years ago; November seventh, 2003 when I got the email that said, “Is this the same Lynda Smith?” When he later asked, “What are you doing?” my response was “leaving a bad job and a bad relationship” He said, “Why don’t you come up to Alaska?” and I did. We knew that we had unfinished business. He met me in the airport with twenty-two red and pink roses (one for each year we had been apart) and a fur coat – it was winter in Alaska.

When we saw each other we both started running. he was trying to video me but dropped the camera to his side as the microphone of the still rolling camera recorded “oh my God.” We embraced, in the middle of the isle until security asked us to move. We gathered our things, I donned the fur and we walked – or should I say floated – outside to the parking area. Just like in high school he opened my door, helped me in and as I shook off the cool night air, he appeared in the driver’s seat of the Land Cruiser.

As if there had never been a day missed, our hands met on the console and our fingers interlaced. The moment our fingers found each other, we both gasped for air. The feeling of our hands together took both our breath away. Apparently every handhold for 22 years was unconsciously compared to that handhold. It was as though our hands found home. Once we found our breath, we kissed again. It was a long, hard, welcome-home kiss.

Now thirty-two years later as I type this we are traveling in Koko (our home on wheels) to set up in Breckenridge, Colorado for the ski season. He just asked me “how do you like our A-Frame” my response… “I think I‘ll adjust.” No, Koko isn’t exactly an A-Frame, I think maybe she is better.

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

Colorado Rocky Mountain High

We will spend the majority of the winter here in Breckenridge with our Epic Ski Pass. The Epic gives us access to several ski resorts in Colorado but also 2 in California and four in Europe – should we choose to go there. The month of December we will fly down to Belize where we will SCUBA dive the Blue Hole, tour the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, go hiking, cave tubing, zip lining, you name it.

And then? In January back here to finish out the ski season before meandering our way to the Florida Keys for more SCUBA diving.  We couldn’t do that sort of thing if we had a traditional A-Frame. So yes, I think I will adjust to our “A-Frame”

This dream took 33 years to bring to fruition. Let’s create another one that is 32 years in the making. But this time, lets enjoy all those years together. I love you, Babe.

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Down time

Well, after an exciting and enjoyable hike in the Wind River Mountains, Lynda and I are going to relax in Kalispell, Montana. We need some repairs done to the rig that are over due (result of a generator fire in Wyoming where someone put their generator too close to some trees) The embers came down on our awnings so those need to be replaced.

Next we are meeting some friends, Greg and Aleicia Landon that I haven’t see in 10 years, and have wondered about for the past few weeks. I had remembered that they had headed down this way, then a few days ago, Aleicia found me on face book.. Small small world

So Lynda has to put in some work time tomorrow and Tuesday, and I will be doing some work myself, mostly on managing the Allstate claim, the repairs and so on. In the meantime, a friend sent us a few more photos of our backpacking adventure with NOLS. (National Outdoor Leadership School). Folks these people are amazing as are their courses. AND they are tax write offs, so we intend do do a few more.

I am looking at one of their course, hiking the Dolomite’s in Italy. Another one of those “bucket list” things…

Dolomites

We are also prepping for our month long trip down to Belize, which should be a divers dream.  We just finalized our costs for that with our travel agent, Christine Cotten. GREAT travel agent for two clueless travelers.

But for now? Dinner with friends.. Then while Lynda is working I will also look into day hikes in Glacier National Park. We may or may not make it to Mt Rainier this year, and if not, no worries we will catch it on our way to Alaska next year.

Now for a change of pace. I have read several blog sites that entertain our way of life. and it occured to me that a lot of “curve balls” in life have placed us on our current path. Those include some cancer scares, change in employment, and the desire to find something “different” in life’s path.

I have been reviewing the past 10 years or so that Lynda and I have shared, and those years have been the best in my life.. and I mean that. Never, in a million years did I ever once think that I would end up with my high school sweetheart cruising the roads of America, and living a life that I had buried many years ago.

We have made GREAT friends in San Diego, and we miss them terribly, but you know something? I do NOT miss life in the “Cube Farm”. I truly hated what I did. I have spent 10 years (and of that 10 years, the MAJORITY of that time) working jobs that went nowhere, created nothing specific, left nothing behind, and accomplished little.  I look back at that and remember the ONLY reason I worked them was a means to an end. They all paid really well.

I traded my life for money. Something you cannot recover, something you cannot undo. Once your time is spent, it is gone. and that should be a precious resource that a person doles out with great care. Instead? I blew those days, months, years.

There is some good in that life of “chasing the all-mighty dollar”. My wife’s health is on the right path, we have the means to support ourselves as we rocket down the road, and each step on our path has led us to where we are. But let me say this. I have had many friends who have never had the opportunity to step out of the “American Dream” and try living for a life’s adventure. To truly jump onto the road less traveled and see where it leads.

They lost their gamble with life. Their lives ended much sooner than they ever expected, and with that, their dreams of adventure cut short. I look at others that have found themselves at their twilight years some very pleased with their lives, others? Not so much. and now, adventure time is over. Their bodies are old and with that, adventure is watching a movie.

So I have a suggestion, take it for what it is worth. If you find yourself “lacking” in being passionate about living? Try having an adventure. Even if it is only for a short time. Let go of the “stuff” that you own, quit allowing it to “own” you. Look for what you are truly passionate about, what gives you that “rush” to live..

I look back at a book I read, and in that, it was all about a group of fish that learned to hang on to the rocks in a river for survival. They had been raised to believe that if you ever let go of those rocks, you would be dashed to death on the rapids below.

One such fish told his friends that he would rather die on the rapids than to die of boredom, and they called him insane. He released his grip and as expected, the rapids bruised him, and pummeled him pretty severely. But, as he went further down the stream he found that he was swimming in new waters, a life  much better than clinging to the rocks. and the other fish called him “enlightened”… Truth is you can choose how you live at any point in your life. and yes, there are consequences for those choices, but for us?

The rapids were not that painful, and swimming in the river?

One hell of an adventure

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Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, RV Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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