Friday, March 06, 2015

Memories of Holger

Originally posted on Facebook with a  little compilation of photos.

Holger, my (step) Dad, unexpectedly passed away in 2009 on March 6th, just one day after my mom's 60th birthday, two days after my
32nd birthday and just over a week after Coen was born. Holger's son, my (half)Brother Johannes, was only weeks away from graduating from high school.
It was -and still is- breathtakingly tragic.

One small blessing was this amazing event that I'll cherish forever:

Because Holger died late at night and because my mom knows that sleep is precious when you have a newborn, she decided to wait until morning to call and tell us. I think it was around 9:30 am.

Understandably we spent the day in a state of shock but of course we also still had to do our best to care of baby Coen. Jon and I just moved around the house, muttering in disbelief when at one point, maybe around 10:30, Coen became unusually fussy. Granted, he was only 10 days old, but he hadn't been much of a fussy crier, so it kind of shook Jon and I out of our stupor.

I was holding him, and as all new parents do, tried anything I could think of to soothe him. Swaying, rocking, patting, feeding - nothing helped. Tired, I sat down on the sofa and was immediately slapped by the sad realization that the last time we had seen Holger was just a week before Coen's birth and he had sat in that very same spot, on the far left side of the sofa.

A new wave of grief rolled towards me but was stopped cold just before it crashed over me; partly because I didn't want to lose it with Coen in my arms, but also because my attention got caught on something else. Actually, what I had become aware of wasn't something - it was the lack of something. 

For as soon as I had sat down, Coen ceased his discontented crying. I looked down to see him looking upwards, not at me but above his head, towards the lamp on the side table next to us. And he was cooing.

I blinked hard. Something felt different. I looked at Jon who was standing across from me in the doorway to the hall. He just stood there looking in my general direction. No one spoke and the room was silent except for an occasional sweet gurgle or sigh from Coen.

I looked at the lamp; it was a  Prairie style design with a dark oiled brass base and a lovely golden amber shade made out of mica. The room was lit just enough by the mid-morning winter sun and I don't recall if the lamp was turned on or maybe just dimmed.

A rush of blood filled my ears and I mentally shamed myself for being so ridiculous as I thought, "Holger, why are you in the lamp?"

It was clear that something was happening, not to me, but so very near me. My heart leapt, cautiously, for fear of being scolded again by my inner-critic, as I pondered what Holger was sharing with Coen. I mean of course if -IF- I wasn't losing my mind and what my heart was telling me was true: that the intense energy I was feeling around me, though mostly from the lamp, was in fact Coen's dear "Guapa" (the version of Grandpa which Coen's older cousin had created) making a special visit to see his new Grandson.

My brain and heart raced. Could this be? Or am I just imagining something I was only beginning to grasp would now never take place? With a glimmer of hope that I really was witnessing a supernatural interaction between the brand new life in my arms and an angel of heaven, I forced myself to stop analyzing and just be present.

The whole thing lasted maybe 5 minutes, probably much less. My gut feeling is that Holger introduced himself, made silly sounds and played with Coen's belly and stroked his cheek before saying some sort of prayer, blessing or promise to watch over my little boy. 

Ultimately I'm cannot be sure of what Holger said or did while he interacted with Coen. I can't know what he looked like or what form he took, if any at all. And I'm sad I'll never know for sure if Coen remembers this miraculous experience of his own account or only what we've told him.

But I am absolutely positive that it did happen. Holger was there. My deepest, truest Self knows this.

Plus, I have proof:
Remember how I said Jon was in the room right across from where I was sitting with Coen and that it was completely quiet? Neither of us said a single word until after I felt the presence leave. In that same moment Coen started to cry and I looked at Jon without any explanation and asked, "Did that just happen?"

And Jon replied, "Why was he in the lamp?"

Monday, October 20, 2014


If your relationship is lacking in intimacy lately, here's a great example of how to get out of your rut. My friend Jon Bradbury wrote this post *on his own, of his own accord* to his lovely new wife today.

I bought the ring one year after our first date. An October wedding was plan C. The country club was plan B and plan A was marrying her a long time ago. Pretty much from the first moments of our first date!
—  with Allison Uhl

This guy gets it in a way that, sadly, I think too many people don't. "It" is the act of creating romance. Sunsets are nice, but the sun ain't setting to make your special someone feel love and connection. That part is up to you.

This isn't about flirting or trying to get "business time" started. It's about keeping the butterflies, that spark when you touch hands unexpectedly, it's about tending that relationship garden.

Don't give me some lame "but I don't know how" - there's a lot you didn't know how to do until you learned it. And forget "I don't do stuff like that" - that crap ain't gonna fly. Fact is, you want this kind of heartwarming affection from your special someone too!

But I know this won't be the last time my friend makes this kind of romantic gesture because he understands that she's worth it and their relationship is worth it. Can't start a fire without a spark, y'all.

It doesn't have to be a facebook post, though we do live in modern times and use modern methods of communication, so it's definitely not a bad option.

One idea I suggest is that you watch The Notebook and write down all of the words that come bursting from your heart. Then later, when you feel like expressing some genuine feelings, grab your notes and pick one to share. Write it on plain old lined paper, fold it up like you used to in school and discretely pass it under the dinner table. Send flowers to the office but make sure the note was hand written by you. Send a postcard to your own house if they get the mail. Pick some random date of the year and make it your "Just because I love you" day and organize a day of doing their favorite things and make sure you keep doing it annually.

Thank you Jon for helping me with a point I've been trying to make. And anyone who takes this guidance and applies it, you're sincerely welcome :)

I mean, let's stop allowing the long held fantasy that marriage should be basically wonderful if you're with the right person. The truth is that those marriages that look so perfect and easy probably actually fall into one of these categories:
The couple can put on a really good show.
The couple happens to fall into the micro-fraction sized group of people whose marriage actually is somehow, magically easy.
They have worked their butts off to keep the love alive, often more than once throughout the course of their relationship.

Look at how hard it is for you (any "you") just to have a healthy and positive relationship WITH YOURSELF. Or with your coworkers. Or parents. Etc, etc.

Then add another equally complex human being to the mix, with whom you now have to navigate all of the same wonderful, crazy-making, crappy, awesome stuff that is life.

Isn't the whole point of being in a committed relationship so neither of you have to go through all that alone?

The ol' standard marriage vows are too easily set aside as cliche. Old words that sound biblical but don't really apply anymore.

But take another look (yes, take the gender specific aspects out) and who doesn't deeply desire to be honored and cherished? To be held and know kept safe within another person's heart?

Those things don't happen all on their own from nothing. If you want to feel loved, you can't just sit there and sulk. You can take some initiative and change the way you see your special someone, change how you perceive their actions, change your own actions and how you perceive yourself.

"Love" as a feeling is fleeting. But to choose to love as an action, as something you DO, that is when the real magic happens.

That love feeling is wonderful but it's purely chemical. It has little value in the long run. You nor your special someone did anything to make that love feeling happen. You didn't earn it, create it. And neither of you made or let it die. That love feeling is just the matchstick getting lit but you've (each of you) got to chop the wood, fan the flames and sit downwind of smoke sometimes if you want the fire to keep going.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A gentle nudge

My response to a woman who was very anxious about possibly sending her previously homeschooled son with SPD to a charter Waldorf.

I completely understand your apprehension. I mean, who wants to see their child feel rejected by an entire school? It would be heartbreaking to say the least!
However, if i may be a bit forward with you, I'd like to gently point to the equally possible outcome of your son finding a wonderful home away from home where he might just grow and develop and adapt in ways that astonish you. (Btw, I'm not anti-homeschooling in the slightest and while I wholeheartedly love the Waldorf way, my child isn't in one nor am I saying the school or his experience will definitely be perfect.?
In fact, the transition might be very bumpy for him (and you!), but I bet he's a resilient kid and also, life is bumpy, and there's no time like the present to learn that. You can take comfort in knowing that he will learn that you (and hopefully the school) support, cheer and soothe him. When we are able to let them learn to trust themselves, they also learn to trust us more deeply.
It's hard for me to do it, but I have to remind myself that we all learn best by trial and error. 
Not to mention the potential for a great community for you to find likeminded individuals who can support you!

I hope my comment comes across as kind as that is how it's meant.

Deep breath, onwards and upwards!


An important reminder to myself and my friends:
Reality is a million times easier to handle and even enjoy when you choose to live with a spirit of acceptance of what *is.*

Even if a situation itself isn't okay, you can choose to be okay with it. But just wishing your life were different or getting stuck on blaming the who or why it sucks changes nothing; it only creates useless feelings of discontent and suffering.

Dreams are nice and the cam be useful as a point to work towards, but real life can be so much more than something to escape if we instead choose live into the here and now instead of working so hard to avoid, reject or wish it away.

In order to move towards the life you of your dreams (and feel content and grateful with what you have now), it's important to understand how and why you got to here and now (not to blame but to learn from history and forgive).
None of this are possible without  dedicated time and action to take a gentle, honest look at your life. This is not to find fault or judge anyone or anything (including/especially yourself!). The goal is to assess and acknowledge your complete current state, inwards and outwards, mentally, physically, emotionally, situationally, financially and relationally.

You can't get anywhere if you don't know where you're starting from. You can't get what you want/need if you don't know what you have.

Life is hard, unfair and sometimes heartbreaking, but that doesn't have to ruin everything. When you spend your time and energy avoiding, rejecting and assigning blame and judgement for the bad, you're probably also missing all of the wonderful gifts and miracles.

Don't rob yourself of joy, wonder and delight! Instead, do what you can when you can to spread those gifts! And when you're suffering, you don't have to sulk all alone, go ask for what you need. Trust that you're not alone and that your humble openness is the best way to see and receive the abundant love and support you seek.

"Vita Abundantior!" School motto of my alma mater, Randolph Macon Woman's College

Monday, October 06, 2014

Good stuff

Jon and I recently had one of those awesome conversations that was full of deep wonder, big questions and open hearts. (It's hard to find the space for those moments as an adult, isn't it?)

Anyway, our final conclusion, which we reached independently but at the same time, was that the biggest challenge and highest goal to have in life is strike that balance between being content but not complacent.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Letter to Kiffy

Bon Jour,
I live in USA and I am very interested in your tricycle products. Do you plan on selling them here? If yes, when and how?

I also have a question that I hope may inspire a third product option: is it possible to add battery powered electric pedal assist to either of your tricycles?

I am only 37 years old and am relatively fit but I have a health problem that causes fatigue and pain in my joints (it's not arthritis but a genetic disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility). I don't need a wheelchair (hopefully never!) but my search for an urban transportation alternative has been frustrating.  I've found my options fall in only two categories: products for sport (electric bicycles or toy electric scooters) or products for very old people (electric wheelchairs or traditional adult tricyles).  It also means I have to choose between something I can only ride outside or something that can only be used indoors (like a shopping mall).

That's why I'm so excited about your tricycles - they have many of the features I desire:
Three wheels, comfortable ride, compact, lightweight, modern styling and a useful rack. Adding a little electric power would make it perfect!

I look forward to your answers!

Sincerely, Kate

Letter to URB-E

Hello Super Awesome Inventor People!

I am in total love with your products and if my lifestyle was like the one in the video, I'd love to be the first person in Atlanta (well, it's shoulder rubbing neighbor, Decatur) to have one. But there's one small (?) problem: while the URB-E has 99% of what I need -electric power, three wheels, comfortable ride, compact, lightweight, modern styling and a useful rack- it's missing a certain je ne sais quoi, a bit more susbstance or stability, or at least that's the case for me anyway.

Here's why:
I am only 37 years old and am relatively fit but I have a health problem that causes fatigue and pain in my joints (it's not arthritis but a genetic disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility). I don't need a wheelchair (hopefully never!) but my search for a transportation alternative has been frustrating.

So far I've found my options fall in only two categories: products for sport (electric bicycles or toy electric scooters) or products for the senior citizen set (electric wheelchairs or traditional adult tricyles). Essentially I'm left with having to choose either an unwieldy electric bicycle, which lacks versatility and the stability of a trike, or a geriatric Hooveround type thing, not to mention those also force me to choose between indoor or outdoor use.

What I want/need is something that I can use to zip through my neighborhood to pick my 5 year old son up from school, go along on walks with my husband and son, take to a mall, airport or theme park and maybe even be able to attach a larger basket or a small cargo trailer (like a proportionately sized version of the Burley flatbed trailer).

That's why I want everything the URB-E products already have, just MORE:  larger, more rugged tires, an even longer, wider base and a handle bar that offers greater control.

Please know I do understand why y'all made the choices you did to make the current URB-Es the way you did based on where you saw a need, and like I said, it's perfect in that application; and this is exactly why I'm telling you all about my need for a pre-mobility/eco/urban neighborhood walking/kid-towing/grocery/mall/flea market shopping/state fair/university campus/themepark/trail hike/airport/museum transportation alternative. And I know I'm not the only one.

Thanks for letting me ramble on and I genuinely hope to hear back about your plans for URB-E.3!

Sincerely, Kate