I Miss My Boy…and I’m Proud of Him.

I Miss My Boy…and I’m Proud of Him.

My Facebook feed this time of year is frequented with images of friends, especially from high school and college, sending their kids off to elementary or middle school, even high school. My own son just started college himself. I’m 40 years old This is weird…and wonderful.

When Stephani and I dropped Joseph off a little over a week ago. She cried a lot. I didn’t. His time had come to take this next step. He needs the opportunity to grow outside our home…and we could use the opportunity to have a cleaner house (seriously, the boy leaves a trail of messes in his wake that is almost unbelievable). My lovely bride agrees, but she also has a deep emotional bond with that kid based on our journey as a family. Thus, the tears.

When we came home from taking him to college, Stephani cried again when she looked out the kitchen window and saw the empty spot where he usually parks his car. I didn’t tear up too, but I’ve encountered my own unexpected ways I miss my boy.

  • He started morning workouts for Army ROTC last week. In the past when he had a sports practice or workout I’d have a chance to see him later in the day and ask how it went. Now I don’t.
  • I often go shopping at Costco on Monday evenings. The usual trip this past week was more than a little different without an active, teenage boy to feed.
  • He’s not here to tease Stephani. I didn’t realize I would miss watching him interact with his mother. I do.

His texts are different too. Before it was the regular stuff of life. When would he be home….could I pick something up next time I was at the store…all of that. Now they’re more meaningful. He doesn’t text a lot, but when he does he’s asking for something or letting us know something has happened.

Like what happened this week: he not only received his Army ROTC uniform (pictured above), he got word he received a three-year ROTC scholarship too.

That’s a big deal, and not just for our pocketbook. Joseph is now making a commitment to the Army. They pay for his schooling after his freshman year. He owes his country some serious time in service thereafter.

Joseph was told from the start that a four-year scholarship was unlikely, because those are limited and Carroll College’s Army ROTC program is through the University of Montana, which has its own kids to consider as well. But getting a three-year scholarship is a big deal. Full tuition, room, and board…plus a stipend.

Now, the boy has to keep earning it.

I believe he will. Here’s why: he succeed at a great college prep school, and he grew into a man under the tutelage of a great set of sports coaches, including his high school football coach, Jim Shapiro (also pictured above). What Joseph is doing right now is a perfect example of why amateur athletics matters.

Somewhere along the path of life, an athlete taps out. Their body says no. They hit the ceiling of their talent level. They lose interest in the sport. Their time in organized sports comes to an end, for whatever reason.

What matters then is what being an athlete taught them about life.

Joseph is ready for ROTC because he learned commitment, hard work, dedication, character, teamwork, and toughness as a King’s Knight under Coach Shap. All those off-season workouts, those summer practices, the daily grind of the football season, the ups and downs of being a teenage athlete? Yes, those were preparing Joseph to play his role on a football team. And more importantly they were preparing him for ROTC as well.

That’s why I’m proud of the boy. I know he’s already doing something at the age of 18 that matters, and will shape him further into the man he is supposed to be.

Attaway, Joseph!

My Life Changed Today.

I dropped my firstborn off at college today. Big moment. Big day. For any parent.

This closes a circle for me in a unique way.

My son, Joseph, was born near Seattle when I was at college in Virginia. I’ve told his story before. It’s a powerful one. And needless to say, having a child while you’re in college isn’t exactly a planned event.

Next Monday Joseph starts classes at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. That is a planned event. The only college at which he applied. The place my lovely bride, Stephani, said “he has to go here!” during our first visit to the campus. The place I knew he needed to go as well on that same visit.

That isn’t what the odds said would happen to Joseph. Born to an unwed mother without a college degree, and a jobless father still working on his. More often than not that doesn’t end well. Stephani and I were told as much.

Joseph is not only going to a very good school, he’s joining the Army ROTC. If you really experience Joseph that’s not a surprise. That sometimes absent-minded introvert is a magnificent, caring teammate with powerful leadership and teaching abilities that are waiting to be tapped.

My wife has cried a few times in the last day. I haven’t. It’s time for Joseph. Time for him to learn some lessons in life he can’t learn under our roof. I’ll worry about him, especially his absent-mindedness. But, it’ll be ok. Stephani knows that too, it’s just a little more emotional for her because she’s especially close to him.

We’ve now moved our first child out of the house. One down, one to go (our daughter, Sophia, turns 16 next month). And I just turned 40. Stephani will do so next year.

You know what that means?

A truly new chapter in our lives. Empty-nesting with vigor. In control of our lives with a huge swath of our adulthood in front of us. And if you’ve read our writing or know us, it’s no secret that will be an exciting new journey.

That’s what awaits us. We are eager for that beyond words.

We’re not there yet. But, the time of transition is here.

It comes as the fine young man we raised, starting in truly challenging circumstances, makes his own transition as well.

Joseph is a history geek like me. He plans to study history and political science, my two majors in college. I went to Mary Washington College, now the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The campus is on a Civil War battlefield, and a famous one at that.

What does that have to do with dropping my son off at college in Helena, Montana?

Stephani and I had a picnic dinner on the grounds of the state Capitol after dropping off Joseph. After we ate we looked up at the statue prominent on the grounds outside the Capitol entrance.

Who was it? Thomas Meagher, who died as acting Territorial Governor of Montana in 1867. I didn’t know that. What I did know is Meagher was a Union Brigadier General during the Civil War, commanding the Irish Brigade. Where was one of that unit’s most famous actions? Charging the Sunken Lane at the base of Marye’s Heights…at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The University of Mary Washington sits on Marye’s Heights, with Sunken Lane serving as one border of the campus.


I don’t believe in coincidences. It’s a quirky connection, but a real one. Joseph’s journey began when I was in college. It changes today as he begins his own college career. And it marks how my own journey — and that of my lovely bride — is changing too.

Change can be scary. My son doesn’t like it a lot. As I type this he’s probably getting close to going to bed for his first night in his dorm room, after what has been a long day. He might be a little scared, not because college intimidates him, but because he knows change can make him uncomfortable at first.

Ain’t that the truth. Change isn’t always comfortable, but it’s necessary, and often rewarding. That’s why I’m looking forward to this next phase of my life. And I’m glad the transition had such a clear sign today that it was meant to be.

Take the Gift.

Really. Stop fighting life and take the gift.

What I mean by that is how many times has life offered you something and you were too set in your own perceived course, your own need for control, your own expectations…your own shit…to take a gift that was offered?

I’m not talking about a present wrapped up pretty in a bow. I’m talking about the gifts life hands you sometimes.The one’s you don’t expect to or plan to receive.

I’m slowly getting better at taking them, because I’m prone to wanting things the way I expect or desire, on my timeline.

I’m sitting in a car right now while my daughter drives. Our family is caravaning from our home north of Seattle to Helena, Montana to drop my son at his first year at Carroll College. The last couple weeks has sucked, with a lot going on in our house, including getting the absent-minded, disorganized man that is my son packed up and supplied.

I was up late last night getting ready to get out-of-town. I was up early to get out the door. I’m tired. Work has been stressful lately. And I realize as I type that the $1,450 we spent on service and repairs for my son’s car before he leaves the nest didn’t include checking the air conditioning system’s coolant level. Because there’s no cold air coming out of the vents as we cruise through sunny and hot Eastern Washington. There is, however, lots of sweat accumulating not so pleasantly behind my back and under my buttocks and legs on these cloth seats. Good times.

And you know, what? I’ll take the gift.

It’s sunny out. I’m not at the office. My son is closing out one chapter of his life and starting a new adventure. My daughter is getting dropped off on our way to Helena to visit a good friend who moved to Bozeman last summer. I’m also experiencing that my daughter is a pretty good driver, a month out from her 16th birthday [insert relieved parent sigh here]. I’m going to be in sunny, dry weather in an area of the country I enjoy the next few days. My lovely bride and I will even have about a day to ourselves on this trip….which sounds glorious after a couple weeks consumed by teenagers at home.

Yes, I’ll take the gift.

My wife is learning to do take the gift too. We need that more in our house. One example: this two framed prints were my birthday present last weekend:


Two prints by my friend and Tough Mudder teammate, Keegan Hall. His story of how he got back into making this fabulous pieces of art is utterly compelling (including a feature on the Today Show’s website). This work isn’t even Keegan’s profession. His off-the-clock pursuit of something he enjoyed exploded into popularity because he took a gift from Kam Chancellor, who responded to being tagged in an Instragram post of the bottom print. He praised Keegan’s work, re-posted it, and commissioned another piece. Kam’s publicity resulted in more work with professional athletes and teams for Keegan. Because he took the gift. He didn’t have to pursue the opportunity. It wasn’t expected. He took it anyway. And look what happened.

So, when my wife reached out to Keegan. it turns out he offered his own gift back to her. She didn’t want to take it. That’s not her nature (we’re quite a couple in that regard!). She’s been encouraged in her own life to “say ‘yes'” when opportunities arise. She took this one. And I’m really thankful!

I’m also thankful of a gift I received years ago that still resonates.

Nearly 20 years ago to this day, I walked into the office of the new men’s and women’s swim coach at my alma mater, the University of Mary Washington. I was about to start my junior year. I was a good but not great swimmer at the NCAA Division III level; the fastest on my team in a couple events. And I was done. My knees were battered by repetitive motion injuries that linger to this day. Welcome to campus, coach. I quit.

He could have said, “Ok, that sucks. Good luck with the rest of your time at college.” Instead we talked about what it might mean if I stayed around the team, maybe as a student manager. I did. It turned into an assistant coaching gig after a couple weeks. A gig that lasted both my junior and senior years.

I learned more out of taking on a leadership position with 40 of my peers than if I had competed as an athlete those last couple years. To this day it informs how I lead.

It also awoke a passion in me. I know what it’s like to lead people. To play a role in helping make others greater. To give a pep talk that leaves a team ready to explode into the competition in front of them. And it cemented my love for swimming as a sport that still brings simple joy to my heart when I have the chance to watch major swimming competitions in person or on TV.

Because someone offered a gift. A gift out of something that is often traumatic for athletes: prematurely having to call it quits. I took that gift. And ran with it. Without expectations. Just grateful for the opportunity to help the team I loved.

I wish I understood the totality of that lesson then. I didn’t. I would have done some things differently in life had I learned it faster.

But, that’s life. That’s part of the gift.

I’ll be honest. That’s truly fucking difficult sometimes. The relationship my lovely bride  and I have today is a gift. If you’ve read our stories (here and here), you know our relationship went to death’s door. What we have today is a gift, one that I gladly and gratefully accept, even as I hate what we went through to get here.

Most gifts don’t involve that much pain. I hope yours don’t. But, I do dare you to accept your own gifts in life.

Seriously. What gift are you going to accept today?

Being Humbled

“You’re an over-thinker.”

That was an observation from my acupuncturist. I’m working through a hip and knee injury, caused by muscles and related soft tissue getting out of balance. I’ve done the traditional doctor and physical therapy game on these things. It doesn’t tend to solve the root problem. So, I’m now relying on chiropractic care, massage therapy (fabulous!), aromatherapy (more effective than it sounds), and now acupuncture.

“Over-thinker”? Guilty as charged. She also observed I’ve got too much stress. It’s leading to tightness and tension inside my torso, which is pulling up on my hip muscles…with all the resulting symptoms in my hip and knee.

She’s right.

For all my new approach to life, physical fitness, emotional balance, yoga, et. al., my stress level is high. I’ve had some rough patches this year.

My employer had a brutal spring, announcing a sophisticated cyberattack potentially affecting millions of our current and former members. When you’re in charge of Corporate Communications for such a company, that makes for a big damn challenge, with a helluva lot of pressure. I’ve never had to get so focused and perform at my absolute best, no matter the circumstances and stress. I did it. The team did it. We handled a tough situation phenomenally well.

And it took more out of me than I care to admit or recognized at the time. The stress of that time period was brutal. I’m still not fully back in balance after that.

More recently I hit another rough patch. Nothing profound or serious. Just the pile up of circumstances that happens sometimes in life. A slew of obligations and choices that required time and attention in the daily grind of life for several weeks, all while that physical injury has limited my workout routine, including knocking me out of the outdoor swimming workouts I’ve come to love.

And while my workout routine is inhibited, the time and energy required to treat, rehab, and rest the injury has been a pain in the ass.

I may not be a true Type A personality, but I’m a Leo. In Ayurvedic terminology, I’m more pitta dosha than anything. I have some fire in me. Some ego. A little bit of a perfectionist. I don’t like being told “no” or not being able to do what I want.

So having a nagging, time consuming injury that is telling me “no” and limiting what I can do is fucking with my chi, big time.

It was a jarring experience recently to be in that unpleasant grind of daily obligations and tasks, take a vacation to attend Wanderlust Whistler, and then return right back into that same temporary grind. Wanderlust was fabulous beyond words. The before and after was not. And I’d be lying if I said I handled that as well as I should have.

What happens when I get off kilter like that. I don’t show up the way I want, including with my wife and kids. I hate that, they don’t deserve it, and was guilty as charged recently.

Why do I share that I’ve been humbled by events and my own flaws and weakness?

I write to because I have something to say. A story to share. An impact to have. And it’s all bullshit if someone reads what I write and thinks everything is always rosy.

Life is messy. I’m messy. And sometimes being humbled or reminded of where we’re not all that is just what we need.

What the Hell Are You Doing In this World?

What the Hell Are You Doing In this World?

My lovely bride is a different person today than she was several years ago. Night and day different. You might know that from her first guest post.

Why is she night and day different? You really want to know?

Read this. It ‘s about the reason she’s alive. It’s about how she answered the question that is the title of this post. I hope it speaks to you like it speaks to me.

– Eric

Today is my 39th birthday.

I am a yoga teacher.

I am a personal trainer.

I am a wannabe Buddhist.

I am a passionate vegan.

Sober as FUCK.


Why am I telling you this? Because it still amazes me that I’m even here, let alone that I’m in the space I am in today. My birthday is always a time of reflection for me, so I thought I would share with you a little bit of my journey BEFORE my big life transformation 2 years ago.

I distinctly remember a conversation I had with my mother when I was 14 years old; she was yelling at me (something she did quite often), and she was berating me about the condition of my life.

I don’t even remember what I had done to instigate the fight with my mother, but she said to me, “Stephani, what the hell are you going to do with your life? What are you going to be doing when you’re 30?”

To which I replied, “I don’t care. I’ll be dead by the time I’m 30.”

And I meant it. I had absolutely no intention of living past 30. As long as I can remember, I have always been… just maladjusted to life, for lack of a better term. I was always uncomfortable; I had crippling anxiety in social situations. I was a shy, awkward, introverted kid that had a hard time making friends.

My home environment was dysfunctional and unsafe. I lived in absolute chaos.

At 14, I was already on the fast track to nowhere. My future didn’t look too bright; I was a volatile, angry kid. My grades were awful, and I just didn’t give a shit about anything. During this time, I found the relief I had been looking for in a bottle of good old Boones Farm. From the first sip I ever took of alcohol, I knew it was the solution I had been looking for. My awkwardness went away. I stopped being so introverted.

I drank every single chance I got; my life quickly spiraled into alcohol, drugs, and a life that was quickly ensuring that I would get my wish-that I wouldn’t live to see my 30th birthday. I couldn’t picture any kind of life worth living, let alone one where I was “old.”

I could give you the gory details of the 16 years of my drinking…but I’ll spare you that pity party.

What I can tell you is this: in my drinking I had accidentally created the chaos in my own home that I fucking loathed from my own childhood. It sucked, and I was stuck.

So…Imagine my surprise on August 9th, 2006 when I woke up on my 30th birthday.

Shit. I was still alive.

And I had no idea why. Or how. Or what to do from there. I literally had done NOTHING with my life.

The next month was hell. I tried to drink myself to death during that time.  It didn’t work. I’m obtusely resilient, and I just wouldn’t die.

So on September 10th, 2006, I had my last drink. It was a shitty bottle of cheap white wine. On September 11th, 2006, I got sober.

Honestly? There just wasn’t anything else left to do.

I thought that was quitting drinking was going to fix things. Wrong. It actually got worse. And stayed worse for the first 7 years I was sober; the only difference between the drunk me and the sober me was that I no longer passed out, drove drunk, and slept on my bathroom floor.  I was crazy. I still wanted to die on a regular basis, but was just too chickenshit to pull the trigger.

My life didn’t get better, because I lacked the skills to do some serious self-reflection. I also needed to change my patterns of thinking about my life. I was stuck in my story, and I was wearing my trauma like a badge of honor.

I just couldn’t get free of my past.

So that’s how I lived. I lived stuck.

That is, until everything changed two years ago when I hit rock bottom.

And oh man, did it ever change.

Wait. What? A switch just flipped and everything changed? Just like that?

Yup, just like that.

So what changed? How did I go from a sick, miserable, dysfunctional kid/adult that wants to die…to the person I am today?

Well, that’s a big shift, wouldn’t you say? Yes, yes it is.

In my last blog post, I had a hard time explaining my transformation. I said, “Maybe it was god, maybe it was self-will, maybe it doesn’t matter.”

Or maybe it DOES matter.

I’ve actually been thinking about it quite a bit the past few weeks. And I think the answer is actually pretty simple.

I found a reason to live.

Now, when I say “I found a reason to live” I’m not talking about the obligatory stuff. I’m not talking about changing my life for my kids, my husband, my family. I had to want to change my life FOR ME.

I HAD to find the thing that lights my soul on fire. The thing I want to get up for in the morning. The thing that makes me understand why I’m here on this crazy fucking planet.

In “yoga speak,” this is also known as Dharma. I’ve found my life’s purpose.  All of those things I listed at the beginning of this post….the yogi, personal training, sober, vegan, Buddhist hippie nonsense.

Yup. That’s my Dharma. Helping people. Healing people. Inspiring people. Using what almost destroyed me to give hope to someone who is struggling.  I started doing yoga. I started working out and eating healthy. I started helping other people. I started writing. I started reading. I started learning. And my soul caught on FIRE.

See, when I was a kid, nobody was living their Dharma. As a kid, I learned that being an adult equates to being miserable. Nobody ever showed me a good example of what being a happy, functioning adult was. I don’t remember seeing an adult in my life express true, abiding joy, or talk about something that made their spirits light up.

No Dharma. Just survival. And chaos.

I guess nobody ever told them that this life is fucking beautiful, and that they could go out and help make this world a better place with the unique gifts that they possessed. Instead, this world, and it’s messages, snuffed out their fires. And then that was passed on to me.

Well gee. No fucking wonder I wanted to die before I turned 30.

I wanted to die because nobody showed me how to truly live.

But…that same resilience that wouldn’t let me die almost 9 years ago (and 2 years ago), is the same resilience that brought me to this place I’m at today. Out of sheer desperation for something different, I started taking action. I started reconstructing my patterns of thinking, and I stopped being a victim. I stopped wearing my past like a badge of honor.

I stopped living in my story, only when I started writing a new one. The hurt of my past dissipated when I started doing things that rewrote the script in my head that said I just wasn’t good enough. The script that said I was broken, and worthless, and there was nothing to look forward to.

Because I stopped being stuck and started moving forward with my life, I was able to halt the cycle of dysfunction that was bestowed upon me. I’m not sure why I was chosen to break the cycle, but holy shit, am I ever grateful.

I think we all at some point in our lives are presented with two options; an opportunity to live our Dharma, or to plod on to the bitter end. Most people, unfortunately, choose the latter.

When I found my Dharma, I greeted her like an old friend. I welcomed her with open arms. I stopped digging, and I started looking. And I started saying yes to the things that brought me joy. I’m writing a new story today.

If you are reading this, I want you to know it’s not too late. It’s never too late to start over, and find that thing that makes you come alive. If you’re miserable, please. Put down the shovel and stop digging. Instead of digging, start looking. Look for the thing that brings you true joy. And then go do it.

And I’m never turning back. My kids don’t ever have to see me struggle again. I get to show them how to really LIVE. Not just exist. They now know that they too, can do whatever they set their minds to, and that this world is indeed fucking beautiful. They’ve seen their mom’s soul catch on fire, and they have full permission to go explore what’s going to catch theirs on fire as well.

The cycle has been broken.

Happy Birthday to me.


What the Hell Did Yoga Do to Me?


Yoga changed me. Not dramatically. Not quickly. Not even overtly. Slowly, one step, one pose, one quiet moment at time it changed me.

Practicing yoga regularly. Experiencing the growth of teacher training. All that has had an impact. But, being at two yoga events this summer really put a fine point on what’s different.

First it was a yoga retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs in the mountains of Oregon, with my daughter and I accompanying my lovely bride as she finished her own yoga teacher training. Now it has been at Wanderlust Whistler, vacationing with my wife at the far Northwest stop of the splendid yoga-centric festival series with a cool name.

I could yap abstractly about how yoga has changed me, instead saying what I’ve done at these two places might say more.


  • I totally disconnected for a five night trip. No cell coverage. No wifi. No work email. No social media. No nothing. Leaving me there, and in the moment.
  • I did a lot of yoga, in classes taught by some great teachers, with some cool fellow yogis, in a place with a great vibe.
  • I soaked in natural hot springs. A lot. Usually nude thanks to the clothing optional vibe at the bathing areas.
  • I read by a rolling river. Without interruption.
  • I hung out with my people.
  • I saw deer that lingered near me from just feet away.
  • I went on a killer, 7.5 mile round trip hike, up a mountain…and didn’t see a single human being after the first half mile. Think about that for a minute if you’ve ever been hiking anywhere near a major population area. Hours of hiking. Spectacular scenery. Glorious mountain-top views. Not a soul. Fucking fabulous.
  • I just was. I had time to think. Time to reflect. Time to be grateful. Without anyone or anything else in life intruding.


  • I visited a place in Whistler, BC that is so hopelessly beautiful that I have trouble describing it…and wonder why the hell I’ve never been here before since I was born, raised, and live in the Seattle area.
  • I did a lot of yoga. Some I loved. Some I didn’t. You don’t love every yoga teacher you encounter. That’s ok. I definitely explored the full spectrum of that here.
  • I came away 100% more confident in being a yoga teacher, even though I’ve only taught two classes thus far. Why? Being a yoga teacher, just like practicing yoga, isn’t a formula. It’s about letting your authentic self emerge, evolve, and grow in the process…all while staying humble and not taking yourself too seriously. The best teaching I encountered did just that, whether they were teaching to 40 students or 400.
  • I took my first acro yoga class, at the top of Whistler Mountain. What’s acro yoga? Think circus gymnasts, then you’re starting to get the idea. I took a leap of faith, did things I’ve never done before, with cool people I’ve never met,all  with a spectacular view.Yeah, that was good.
  • I took my favorite yoga class ever. It was the first class, the first morning of the festival. It wasn’t a huge class. It wasn’t taught by a big yoga celebrity (yeah, they’re a thing…and a mixed bag at that). It was just a cool, authentic young teacher, with a great story and a splendid ability to channel that into her class in a way that brought the eight limbs of yoga (only one of which is the physical practice, or “asana”) to life in 90 minutes.
  • I enjoyed some splendid live music, surrounded by lots of other happy people doing the same.
  • I was around people with the most fabulous energy. Let’s get real: Wanderlust is a yoga festival. There’s a major hippie vibe. That doesn’t work for some people. That’s cool. But, I’ve never encountered such a high concentration of people with just fantastic energy. They’re vibrating at a good frequency. Sometimes you can feel it collectively. Sometimes it you feel it — even with a jolt — when you meet or are near someone in particular. Yeah, it’s that strong. That might sound crazy. If so, read a little about energy vibration and frequency and you’ll start to grasp what I mean.

What’s the takeaway?

Yoga let me chill out. Be present. Enjoy the moment. Try new things.

Maybe you can already do that. Great.

I couldn’t for a long time in my adult life. Now I can.

Yes, it has all sorts of physical benefits. My bad knees are better from yoga. I’m more flexible. I’m fitter. My blood pressure is lower. My body is more open and more healthy in general. That’s great. It’s everything else that has come with those important physical benefits that makes yoga meaningful to me.

The only question is, where does it take me next?

Postscript: The above post talks a lot about the non-physical impact of yoga I’ve experienced. Someone else might take yoga and experience it entirely for the physical. That can be significant and profound in and of itself. I know people who have found healing for back pain and other maladies that eluded them until they tried yoga. I know people who gain more from yoga in their mental, spiritual, and emotional health than in the physical. Everyone’s practice and experience in yoga is different. It truly is what you make of it.

Photo credits in the montage above in clockwise order to Instagram accounts @ali_ludovici, @lonegoatsoap, and @chelk87. Thanks for feeding the #wanderlustwhistler hashtag!