Posted by: edeiss | September 29, 2022

A Letter to My Home of 19 Years

Dear 10310 Althea Bend Court,

It was hard to leave you, really hard. The times we have shared range every emotion that mankind can experience, and you were there to share and lean on through all of them. I have been with you since your beginning. I remember how you took shape, with the wood framing, mounds of dirt being moved around, and talking with your builders. I will always be your first homeowner and I can say the man I was when we met in 2003 is better for it being under your roof when I said goodbye on August 22, 2022.

Before I left you, the pain of preparing for it was felt in both body and soul. Going through all the kids’ rooms and closets, the attic, the sun room, family room, kitchen, and having memories triggered of our times together was a lot to bear. They represented moments in life we shared, and I would be drawn back into your steady presence within your walls that provided strength, stability, shelter, and comfort.

“God sometimes takes us into troubled waters not to drown us, but to cleanse us.” – Unknown

You watched me go through a lot, including the pain that results from betrayal and experience the Strength of Scars. Yet you were a sanctuary for me, Will, Rachel, and Zoe as I rewove the pain into my purpose as a single parent (including starting this blog in 2012). Through prayer, faith, 3am friends, church family, great neighbors, relating with other Dads, exercise, and running, I got my bearings, gained strength and self-confidence. So much so, that I decided to take a chance, and follow my heart as I trained for my first and several half-marathons and marathons, and you provided a place to rest and recover in many ways.

Playing hoops in the driveway with Will, Rachel waiting for me at home to paint her room together, watching Coyote and Road Runner cartoons with Zoe before she went to bed, all while being grateful they ate my cooking. Sorry about setting off all those smoke alarms trying to get dinner on the table; good thing the fire department did not hear them though the International Space Station likely did. After they were in bed, folding laundry while watching Everybody Loves Raymond with Chatham (our cat), I enjoyed laughing again. Thanks for using your walls to not let the laughs carry too much through the house as the kids slept. All the Halloweens, and playing referee when Rachel and Zoe played Candy Trade. The Thanksgivings, including the one I was able to pull off on my own, and we all enjoyed it. Remember Christmas mornings? Including the one where I gave them each a personalized invitation to join me on an adventure to Singapore. Remember their faces?! Priceless. As was the adventure itself to where their Dad grew up. Seven years as a single parent; all of those years with you. I thought I might lose you when I got laid off from jobs twice during that time. I was not going to let you go that easy.

That is why letting you go was hard. How could it not be? The days of what I thought were ordinary living, were extraordinary times that I now treasure. I knew they would be and realizing the memory rewind button can get rusty with time, I wrote a letter to my older self. Being in your presence when Zoe got off the school bus in elementary school and hugging me at the front door. We would get her homework buddy, Chewy (our Guinea Pig) out of her cage and on the kitchen table as she did her homework; Chewy was fueled by carrots. The kids’ sleepovers, all of them….thanks for keeping me company as I didn’t get any sleep. Enjoying Friday night movie and pizza night, Rachel loved those. How about the time VCU went to the Final Four in 2011? Will and I were watching and high-fiving each other as it happened before our eyes. The summer neighborhood swim meets, we didn’t mean to keep you up too late wondering where we were as we were so happy to get back to you after each one. We experienced that each summer certainly had it’s own story.

Emotions are like vacuum cleaners of the soul. In order to leave it, need to grieve it; In order to bear it, need to share it; In order to heal it, need to feel it. – Unknown

My emotional vacuum cleaner was turned on high, and there was no doubt I was feeling it. The day we left, as I unbolted the bedframe in Zoe’s room, I was overcome with crippling grief that cut right through my soul. Homes can be time capsules, I did not want to leave you however I knew wholeheartedly that for me to keep learning, living, and growing, I needed to make room for a new family to have you. Grief is an expression of love, that someone or something matters. Those 19 years, through the best and worst moments, you were there for me to Get Through Tuesday, Give Away the Hardest Thing, and when meeting Angela I learned that Two Minutes can make a difference. I want you to know unequivocally that as my home for all those years you do matter. And I know you will for the next people who benefit from your protection and care.

I want you to know how much I loved you, and thank you for loving all those close to me. You allowed me to be open and vulnerable, and experience more than the experiences themselves. I learned what it takes for moments to be impactful, namely you have to be present and show up. Thank you for teaching me the meaning of home and being my steadfast, reliable, and trusting friend that loved unconditionally.

I’m not sure if I will walk through your doors again, however as I know I tend to be sentimental, I plan to drive by and take a look at you to see how you are doing. You are in my heart and will always be a part of me, and please know I will keep growing just as I did with you.

“Trust whatever God has for you. It will be better than anything you can plan for yourself.” – Francis Chan

Let’s both keep in mind that it is alright to hang on and look back at our times together; I feel the same about my homes in Singapore and Toledo as well. I wanted to leave this with you, and for others that have gone (or will go) through the same. The story behind it suits us well, as the songwriter, Bear Rinehart, conveyed that it was tough to write; “I’m a pretty serious person and the song is very nostalgic. I feel like I live my life looking forward but the song is a bit more about looking back at some of the beautiful things that happened in life or first experiences. But it’s more than just nostalgia, it’s trying to remember the energy you had – the innocence and vulnerability that made those moments possible. I think it’s a real great reminder to us during these days of the world.”

I will always hang on to the times we had together, and grateful you were there through them all.



Posted by: edeiss | December 24, 2020

The Gift of Our Presence

It was a garland wrapped strings of lights in the shape of a tree from ceiling to floor in the corner of our living room, as there are no pine trees in Singapore. Still, my Dad’s ingenuity was spot on and he did not want to cut down a palm tree and bring it in our home. That was our Christmas tree and when I arose early in the morning on Christmas day, they are all there, just waiting. The presents.

I remember as a child the feeling of Christmas, the anticipation and the excitement of waking up knowing I had waited another 364 days to get here. Those feelings as a youth have bridged over to my life as an adult, yet there is a realization that fuels that excitement for different reasons. It is a simple message from that day where time stood still, where the simple smile of a child in a manger reassured that love binds all of us.

As I look at our Christmas tree, and kneel to give and receive presents, I find myself relating to the little drummer boy and found myself doing what he is doing, banging my drums thinking I need to be found worthy on the basis of my gifts. However, he did not play to be known or to receive something back or for self-gain; he just wanted to honor the Lord. And what is perfect about his gift? His presence. He taught that all that we can give is…us.

And he played his best for Him.

It starts this way for all of us, being the little drummer boy. We feel completely inadequate, and can’t help to feel that way. All we have is this drum, or any talents we have, and told to bring nothing and just play the drum. And so we play, and play our best, all too aware of our frailty and shortcomings and with all that we are, and with nothing we have, we are giving our best. And knowing that me and my drum are wonderfully his and that I do not need some token of an excellent gift to be made worth loving.

The commercialization and busyness of Christmas can easily distract from the simple message the day marks when our humanity on Earth met the divinity of Heaven with humility, acceptance, and an open invitation.

When I kneel for gifts at our Christmas tree now, I view it from the eyes of that little drummer boy looking at the manger in that stable on the first Christmas morning. And as he plays his drum he tells me that I don’t really need to perform for him, I don’t need a gift of excellence to be worth loving and being here; I am loved and received already and my presence is the perfect gift. Even though what I have to offer is humble, I am also reminded by that I should give my best, play my best, serve my best, perform my best, and contribute my best with the confidence to offer my best. He knew that he didn’t have much, but he gave what he could. Certainly I can do that as well.

We don’t always have to give material gifts, in fact many of the best gifts I found were not under the Christmas tree. We can give of ourselves through our talents, our time, or just our love for others.

In this difficult year of 2020, we all were reminded of how much being together means. Let’s make the gift of presence and give of ourselves, drum and all.

“It all happened in a moment — a most remarkable moment.

God came near.

He came not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as One whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that held him were not manicured, but callused and dirty.

No silk. No ivory. No hype. No party. No hoopla. God had come near … for you.” – Max Lucado (God Came Near)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Posted by: edeiss | April 10, 2020

How Do You See You?

I remember those times in recess at school when it came time to choose teams.  There are two captains named and I wait to hear my name called, quickly.  As a kid, who did not love to be chosen while at the same time thinking ‘please don’t let me be chosen last’.  After all, don’t want to be seen as a dufus.  It sure hurts to be rejected, because we all want to selected.  Why?  For me, it gave me gave me self-confidence and helped build my self-worth.

There were many times I was not chosen as a kid and adult, or failed at something, or just roughed up and bruised. I am sure there are times we have all come face to face with hardships, difficulties, our faults and weaknesses.  And we all wonder if life will ever be different with the voice that says “no, this is who you are” being the loudest one we hear.

 “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

What you see is what you get; in other words, the way we think determines the way we act.  If I see myself through the lens of my faults and weaknesses, I can look forward to living that out and shrugging my shoulders.  If I see myself as a victim, might as well let others take advantage.  Research has shown that we tend to align our actions with what we perceive ourselves to be, and we often allow our perception of ourselves based entirely on how others treat us. The issue is we often are acting on false or inaccurate information about ourselves.

It is akin to each of us getting a clear picture of ourselves by how we appear in one of those crazy funny mirrors in the fun house at a fair.  Those imperfect mirrors serve as others in our lives, reflecting back distortions and inaccuracies.  We tend to believe those reflections and internalize them, while operating based on false or inaccurate information, thus allowing it to shape who we believe we are.

The point is, you are not alone. That is not who you are.

As I reflect on my past, I find myself irritated that I would allow the opinions of others have an effect on my self-worth.

The good news is our life is no longer defined by our faults and in our weaknesses, we can find strength.

There is an antidote.

“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.” – C.S. Lewis

From every wounds a scar, and from every scar a story.

She looked back, ran back to my car and said ‘I just want two more minutes with you.’ That was as Angela and I were ending our first date.  Having spent 7 years as a single parent, I shared that it was the scars that we each encountered through life, as kids and adults, which attracted us to one another.  We respected each other’s journey, knowing it is a part of who we are, and are stronger because of it.

We both experienced our share of Getting Through Tuesday, including being abandoned as kids by a parent and the pain of human betrayal as adults.

For me, and emotional scare includes witnessing a near death experience of my Mom with a gun at her head by my former step-dad, and the ‘what if’ possibilities if was not for a sheep dog named Katie (she will always have a special place in my heart), my brother and I could have been targets as well.

For Angela, she started planning her own funeral in December 2011 after being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer; she was given a 35% chance to live. She has shared with me that through the aggressive treatments of multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments that death seemed easier, yet she kept going.  She is still dealing with and having to manage the aftershocks of it all, yet she inspires me with the way she treats each day we are alive as a treasure and her actions go from there.

Perspective and context is everything, and our experiences made us grateful for our strength gained from scars inflicted.

So what I have learned is that when I see myself the way God does, it makes all the difference in the world.

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” Frederick Buechner  

We all must make the connection between how we see ourselves and how we approach life.

I say, do the world a favor and be you. The world needs you, or you would not be here.

Stop letting your past, your faults and weaknesses, difficulties, or hardships define you.  Don’t allow a recording to constantly play in your mind of all your wrongs.  Lost your temper?  Gave into your addition? It seems there is a war that goes on inside us all, we are not supposed to go through life feeling wrong about ourselves when there is a lot more right.

What Easter reminds, and what we all can keep in mind at all times is how God sees us; this is the antidote.

  • I know for one he sees us as acceptable.  Why would I be here if God didn’t need me? Acceptance is not based on perfection or the approval of others.  I’ve already been accepted, and it won’t be any more than, or any less than, today. It is simply based on His grace.
  • He sees us as valuable. When I realize how much was paid for me, it is the greatest ransom ever.  When we think of how much we are worth, God exchanged his own son for us.  That is how much we are valued.  Anyone who told you that you’re are worthless is wrong. We are valuable and it simply doesn’t matter what anybody else has said; He sees us as valuable.
  • We are all lovable, though I know we do not think of ourselves that way with emotional ups and downs.  God’s love is consistent and unconditional; it is not subject to moods.  God will never love you more or any less than He does right now.  Great to be reassured that I am lovable!
  • He sees us as forgivable.  He sees it all and is willing to forgive, no matter what. That is what God’s grace is all about.  For those of us that still hold any grudges, God does not carry grudges.
  • He sees us as capable. If you start believing and acting on the belief on how God sees you are capable, and focus on the truth, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you. After all, whom are you going to believe? God? Or that fun house mirror at the state fair? That imperfect person? Let it go!

“You are too blessed to be worrying about your imperfections. Your original self is perfect in God’s eyes, and His opinions will always matter the most.” Edmond Mbiaka  

We all have them, faults, weaknesses, difficulties, regrets, mistakes, and the list goes on.  I have shared some of mine with you and I am grateful that God doesn’t focus on them.  Rather, he looks at our hearts, as that is all that matters. God made you flawless and as long as we remember that, you will project what you believe.

This is not a traditional Easter hymn by any means, however the lead singer of MercyMe, Bart Millard, put it well…and I think the one thing we miss is that grace says “no matter how beat up you are, no matter what you go through in life, no matter how difficult life is, the cross made you flawless.” The day you came to Christ you were made brand new. It’s all in place for the rest of your life.

The video shares heartwarming stories on what it means to look at ourselves through God’s eyes, and the message of Easter.  


Happy Easter and Until Next Time,


I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  (Philippians 3:13)

*(I would like to thank Steve Merryman of Reunion Community Church in Peoria, AZ for helping frame this blog)  








Lynne’s Mom, Marilynn Barribeau and her three brothers

They all hang in my closet together, as we are forever connected.  I will read them from time to time, wanting to go back in time to see them again and know how they are doing today.  Names of big buddies and little buddies that have been carved on so many kids and adults hearts, and signed on Comfort Zone Camp shirts. They serve as a reminder of camps that transformed all of us.  Kids from all walks of life who lost a parent (or both) or a sibling in heartbreaking ways, and yearning for someone to understand, listen, and relate, and be reassured that scars do heal and they can grow from it all.

Almost ten years ago I was asked by a former work colleague if I ever heard of Comfort Zone Camp.  I had not, however being a single parent at the time and having been raised by one, my colleague felt I would be well suited as a Big Buddy. I’m forever grateful for that conversation.

I am also grateful to have recently spent some time with Lynne Hughes, the founder and CEO who shared her own story of childhood grief that has transformed our understanding of it and her mission to make other kids grief journeys easier than her own.  She recently, and deservedly so, was recognized as one of the 2019 People of the Year by the Richmond Times Dispatch.

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” -Victor Hugo

A Family’s Heart Breaks and Breaks Apart

The town of Rochester, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was spring 1974, and for Marc (age 14), Matt (age 10), Lynne (age 9), and Danny (age 6) Barribeau, their lives were what one would expect for a family of six.  Then it all upended in matter of three days.  It all started on a Sunday afternoon with their parents, Marilynn and Skip Barribeau playing tennis.  During the match, Marilynn pulled a muscle and could not continue.  Skip got her home and took what seemed to be the prudent doctor’s advice to rest, ice, compress, and elevate.  He wanted to take her to the hospital to make sure nothing was wrong, however Marilynn did not see the need.  On Wednesday morning that week, she did not wake up and died in her sleep from a blood clot.

Lynne with her Mom having adventures together

Just seeing the pictures of her family that Lynne shared with me for this blog brings me to tears.  I can’t imagine, saying ‘good night, I love you’ on Tuesday night and the next morning not being able to say ‘good morning’. Lynne knew something was wrong that morning when she saw her parents door open, and her Mom not awake. Skip felt extreme guilt for not insisting she go to the hospital, coupled with the sound of sirens and hearts breaking.  Lynne remembers the day clearly, just as she was when she was 9 years old the day it happened.

Lynne’s Dad, Skip Barribeau and her brothers

Skip had to move on, as kids always take cues from their parents.  The love of his life and mother of their kids gone.  He did not adjust well, and was broken by it all.  He had his parents travel in to take care of the kids, who in turn outsourced it to others who did not know what to do or how to deal with grieving children.  Skip also did not allow himself to heal and work through the grief, attempting to find solace through alcohol.  He remarried quickly in April 1975 and the struggles with alcohol surfaced in his new marriage, moving out then back in, and attempting to get treatment.  Lynne and her siblings went into ‘survival mode’ with their step-mom with whom they were not close, and then the day before she started Junior High School on September 7, 1976, her Dad passed away of a massive heart attack.

Lynne and her Dad, hugs and snuggles included

The two people who wanted you all are now gone. Is this a bad dream? Sadly it is not.

Together yet Alone

The ensuing years were hard, with their step mom not feeling the need to raise or care for her step children and not even pretending to do so.  They lived under the same roof, and Lynne and her brothers would just go to their separate rooms.  There were disputes over life insurance with her step mom threatening to sell the house unless she got more. The kids reached their tipping point; Lynne called Skip’s sister, her Aunt Lorraine, and asked if she could live with them.  In the meantime her brothers had gone their separate ways living with friends.

Imagine being told when moving in with family, and expecting some relief, ‘I’ll never love you as a father, or an uncle, and you should not expect me to.’ That is what Lynne was told upon moving in with her Aunt Lorraine and Uncle Frank. Though her Aunt and Uncle saw to it she had a roof over her head and went to school, she was never a priority and has shared about her grieving childhood:

“I looked like everybody else on the outside, but on the inside, there was a huge hole that I dealt with everyday. Grief separated me. It was lonely and isolating and enduring.”

Adversity and the sense of it all

We all go through adversity, and our natural tendency is to make sense of it.  And yet it doesn’t for many such as Lynne. It was as if she was a forgotten mourner, overlooked as she did well in school and was involved in extracurricular activities.  She did not wear a sign or wear a shirt as a kid that said “I lost my Mom and Dad, please be kind.”

Then along came her Junior High Principal one day in Junior High, Mr. Treais. Lynne was in the cafeteria and he came over and asked her what she wanted to do with her life (before Comfort Zone Camp was even a thought). She told him that she wanted to be famous and leave her mark on the world in a big way.

Mr. Treais then conveyed to Lynne (as a blogger, one of my favorite quotes and lessons as it applies to all of us): “you leave your mark every day, in each person you meet; each person you touch. You leave your mark every day here at this school with each of your classmates and each of your teachers and in everyone you come into contact with. You don’t have to be famous to leave your mark.”

What an “AHA” moment as it took the pressure off Lynne to do something grandiose, and focused her instead on touching those in her life every day.  A powerful life lesson, she never forgot and was reassured her life could be used to make a difference, no celebrity status required.

Thank you Mr. Treais.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou

I want to go back to Summer Camp, Letter to an Author, and a Purpose Realized

Lynne knew she had a purpose that was yet to surface.  As a grieving child, she was crying for help yet wondered who was listening.  What helped during her childhood years to escape this reality of her life were people that did care.  She found them at summer camp; the counselors, they were cool.  Those two weeks each summer were a bubble that protected her and allowed her to be a kid.  Since her parents died, she felt at times that walls would close in on her and that the change of scenery and routine that summer camp offers keeps them at bay.  As she left each year she wondered when she would be back next and yearned for it.  She also made up her mind that when she grew up she wanted to be a camp counselor, coolness included.

After graduating from Michigan State, even through her college years was not swayed from her desire to becoming a camp counselor.

Everyone has someone who ‘gets’ you.  For Lynne, she immediately felt that way about author Hope Edelman after she read her book “Motherless Daughters.” She was so moved by it, that she wrote Hope Edelman and a month later she gets a phone call.  Her and Lynne could relate to one another.  She asked Lynne if she would be interested in setting up a national non-profit for Motherless Daughters.

Off she went, her purpose gaining traction and coming more into focus as chapters were set up in numerous states across the country.

However, there was always that knock at the door of her heart ‘When can I go back to camp?’

“The man (or woman) who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucious

From Camp Weequahic to Building Foreverness   

And she did go back to camp, as a counselor at Camp Weequahic in the Poconos of Pennsylvania.  It is there that she met Kelly Hughes, her husband and now Director of Operations of Comfort Zone Camp.  Her and Kelly would ask each other what are we going to be when we grow up and can we go back to camp?  Is this as good as it gets?

Lynne and her former camp co-counselor and husband, Kelly Hughes

Upon reflection, Lynne soon came to realize that a child’s grief needs to be addressed at the beginning of the journey.  She learned through experience that children grieve differently than adults, fully recognizing the need to support childhood grief is always there; she was determined to build a place of foreverness where kids come first with people who ‘get you.’ There also needs to be a change of scenery (whether it be exercise, a walk, a movie, hiking, or camp) and there needs to be intention behind it.  She started doing research on setting up a non profit; she created a task force to vet ideas including getting those from other camps, such as those that are hospice based. She also reached out to therapists for input.

If you are wondering about how impactful this issue is that they are addressing, research shows that:

With over 5% of children experiencing the death of a parent or sibling before the age of 18, this issue affects more than 4,000,000 children in the United States; for youth up to the age of 25, these numbers more than double.  And as Lynn learned, while these statistics show the high prevalence of childhood bereavement, most grieving youth do not know other peers their age who have had a parent or sibling die, so they feel very alone in their grief.

Research has also shown that unaddressed childhood grief and trauma can lead to immediate and long-term social, emotional and behavioral difficulties. Failure to support grieving children and teens can contribute to  significant problems in a community, including issues associated with:

  • Academic performance
  • Truancy
  • Increased dropout rates
  • Illegal behaviors
  • Treatment for mental health issues


“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me” – Fred Rogers

Every Grieving Child needs a place like Comfort Zone Camp

Experiencing Comfort Zone Camps over the years have been some of the best experiences of my life.

What I have learned by being there for all the little buddies over the years, and being surrounded by other big buddies is that important things in life are not things; rather time, relationships, presence, and active engagement with others.  And the beauty of it is that I can serve just as I am; wounds, limitations, scars, and experiences included.

Lynne shared with me she leads with her heart and common sense, and knows a lot of good will happen.  It sure has, lives transformed because she saw the need to make childhood grief a better journey than what she experienced.

The mission: “…empower children experiencing grief to fully realize their capacity to heal, grow, and lead more fulfilling lives.”

For anyone interested in learning more and becoming involved, Comfort Zone’s programs are offered to children ages 7-17, and their families for the family programs, plus adult programs for 18-25 year olds. They are held year-round across the country, with primary locations being California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia (HQ). They also partner with organizations to serve their local or specific communities through our Partnership and Community by Design Programs.

Comfort Zone Camp has hosted campers from nearly all 50 States, Canada and the United Kingdom and all services are free of charge due to generous donations from individuals, corporations, civic organizations and foundation grants.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, you can find out more on the Comfort Zone Camp website. Also, feel free to reach out to me for insights and about becoming a big buddy.

Dear Dad, I miss you but I am strong

One of the highlights of camp is the end of the weekend.  There is a Memorial Service where kids can express what they have wanted to say for their loved ones lost. It is incredibly heartwarming and after my first one I realized why we have tear ducts.

Usually the campers will relate something that reminds them of their loved one, be it a song, something they did together, or just read a note to them.

If I may, I wanted to remember all the little buddies and big buddy buddies I’ve been grateful to share camp with over the years, and the ones to come.

It’s OK to remember and this is for you.

I know country singer Cole Swindell would in many ways relate to those at Comfort Zone Camp.  He lost his Dad, William, when a truck he was working on fell on him over the 2013 Labor Day weekend.  He wrote it because it was personal to him; and knew other people could relate as he realizes he is not the only one who has ever lost somebody, nor the only one who was missing somebody.

Also for you Lynne, Kelly, and the wonderful staff and organization that came out of pain for purpose that has reminded all of us that:

“Loss can remind us that life itself is a gift” – David Kessler



Thank you Lynne for sharing your story, your life is saving others and encouraging them as they move on with their grief.

You’re right, happiness is truly a choice for all of us.

Until next time,


Posted by: edeiss | September 6, 2019

You are Worth It All

I have always been one that can’t sit for too long, and having a desk job, got to get up and move from time to time.  I am fortunate to work next to the scenic Virginia State Capitol grounds in Richmond and will walk at lunch to get outdoors.  It was May 1st, 2014. As I walked I stopped and listened to a man talking about fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith.  It was the annual National Day of Prayer and I realized quickly it was David Gallagher, who had just lost his daughter Cameron less than 2 months prior after she crossed the finish line at the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16, 2014; it was discovered that she had an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia.  As I listened, and having children of my own, I thought how did that Dad muster the strength to encourage so many of us listening when he is hurting from such a tremendous loss of his daughter?  As I learned more about Cameron’s story, her dream of a new tomorrow, and what she stood for, I realized that he had her by his side that day and always.  It was as if she hugged him around the waist, as daughters do with their dads when they are younger, as he spoke and reassured him, in her own words that:

“You are worth it all.” -Cameron Gallagher

Having witnessed from the beginning Cameron’s dream become faith in action, and getting to know Dave over the years since Cameron ran her last mile in life where The Mission at Mile 12 began, I thought it would be insightful to hear from him, Cameron’s Dad.  When we sat down in his office at Dominion Payroll (in chairs made out of skis overlooking Scott’s Addition and the office pool table, incredibly cool Dave!), it was simply a couple of Dads talking about the love they have of being Dads, what we have learned from our kids, and learning from each other. We shared both laughs and tears, sharing joys and pains. I felt that opening up about Cameron, being her Dad, and the story of SpeakUp, would ‘pay it forward’ for so many other parents/siblings/friends who are struggling right now on how to deal with a loved one who suffers from this invisible illness as it has no borders or economic boundaries.

Family Dynamics, we all have them

Cameron is one of five siblings for Dave and his wife, Grace Gallagher.  As I have learned with three of my own, two of whom are daughters, each child has their own DNA.  We both know there is something about a daughter that adds another dimension to a man’s soul, as it has done for both of ours.  It softens and adds tenderness yet at the same time makes it more valiant and protective; a daughter’s eyes can melt a father’s heart.

When it came to being her Dad, it took way north of half of Dave’s (and Grace’s) parenting energy from when she turned twelve (when her depression and anxiety was first noticed) and on up. And they have four other kids.  Though her siblings came to understand the situation, there was a yearning for a more evenly distributed parental energy pattern.

Dave cherished his time with Cameron, she was awesome to be around and her words were captivating; she was wise beyond her years in many respects. Having read her quotes and positive notes she wrote to herself to cope with her depression, I can certainly see it.  When it came to parenting Cameron, it was akin to driving a Ferrari that was slightly out of control; she struggled in school and there were days she did not want to talk to anyone and they did not know what was going to happen or what she would say. She had a small group of friends and Dave conveyed she did not think in a linear way (i.e. in order to do this, you need to do this), it was more seeing a problem or issue and wanting to jump right in and do something about it.

As her depression and anxiety became more pronounced, it was thought she would get over it and he tried to convince her to do so.  After all, with a roof over your head and meals, it is hard for us to understand what is there to be depressed about?  What Cameron taught her Dad during this time is that parents underestimate the way mental health is viewed as the pain they are dealing with is worse than grief itself.  His learning was to offer love and support, and be there for her with the realization it was her battle.  He wished there were more family centered programs with others they can relate to in order to help navigate this dark road.  From this experience, Dave now leads groups of other Dads that are dealing with this issue in their children.

So, when was SpeakUp first spoken about?

Cameron was one to honor herself, and she fought the good fight of fighting her depression.  She was an avid swimmer.  Dave always woke her up at 4:06 am and out the door at 4:13am.  She also decided to train for the Shamrock Half Marathon and as she ran more and more, it made her feel fantastic.  On a training run with her Dad and Mom in January 2014, she talked about this idea with both of them.  Their response was to give it a throttle, which is a natural response from parents.  In essence “Are you sure Cameron, you want to raise this stigma and flag?” Her response was in essence: ‘Mom, Dad…this is exactly why we need it’; it is ‘go big or go home.’ The need and awareness around reducing the stigma is there and when Cameron goes all in on something, it is huge, rather than a small test the neighborhood kind of idea.  You know what, she was right.  We can all be reassured, as I have been and wrote a letter to her, that it is ok to not be ok.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene Brown  

This was the greatest gift she gave to her Dad, having a clear sense of mission and purpose.  Dave realized that though he did have purpose before he lost Cameron, it was unguided, not centered, more agitated and he felt compelled more than passion fueled.

What a gift, Cameron.  Kids teach adults too, especially what is to be valued.

The weekend of March 14-16, 2014

There was not a dry eye for either of us as Dave shared about the day Cameron ran her last mile in life.  They had been in a difficult spot with her before the race, however she was really happy the week leading up it.  They had a wonderful family dinner the night before, and on race day she and her best friend, Abby Donelson, were up early and ready to go. The excitement was contagious.  After they saw them both off at the start, Dave and Grace rode up to Mile 3 and both Cameron and Abby looked great and running strong. They then saw them at Mile 10, and Cameron looked fatigued and thought it was to be expected.  They awaited at the finish and spotted them 300 yards out as they ran down the boardwalk next to the Atlantic Ocean towards the finish.

She crossed the finish line with Abby and was very disoriented, and came over to her parents.  She put her arm around her Dad, and she fell.  He caught her and held on to her with his arms around her head and back thinking that she fainted, which she had done before.  Dave and Grace were not sure what was going on, fortunately there was a paramedic right close by and they took a look and put her on a gurney.  They then started doing CPR, and then took her to the ambulance to go to the hospital.  All were in a state of disbelief, it was if time stopped and went in massive increments.

Grace went in the ambulance with Cameron, Dave in a car with Abby’s family.  As he went into the hospital, and the doors opened, he saw six to seven doctors in the room and blood on Cameron’s shirt.  It was then that it hit him, she is gone. From her Dad’s arms to her heavenly Father’s.

“Do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill that love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.” – Corrie Ten Boom

It was heartwarming and brave for Dave to share this pain and scar with me, and I thought about the wisdom above of Corrie Ten Boom.  It was as if Cameron’s life and story was the baton when she fell into her Dad’s arms and it was passed to her parents to open another route and their love for her to travel.

How Pain became Purpose

Dave and Grace got back home to Richmond, which seemed so different than they ever expected or imagined. They went in their house, and could not go there. It took a while, a week and a half to be exact. Namely, into Cameron’s room. When they did, it was how she had left it with all that was familiar that reminded them of her, they longed to relive the moments with Cameron that happened there from childhood to her teenage years, even just one more time.

What they did not know is what the pile of papers was on her desk.  And then they looked through it, and realized what it was.  It was the plan to Speak Up, including letters to potential sponsors, speakers, and the vision. Before she died, Cameron was also promoting her idea of SpeakUp on social media and was organizing a SpeakUp 5k through a campaign. The press was asking if they were going to go ahead.

Dave then heard from his Dad, Tom Gallagher, who conveyed he got a phone call.  He was informed that a foundation has been setup and donation checks had been pouring in.

He then read what Cameron’s speech would have been:

“Ladies and gentlemen this young girl is now nearly fully recovered from depression. This young girl is me. If it weren’t for you guys running for what I suffered from and what so many people around the world struggle with, I would be stuck back in what I thought was an interminable tunnel. No matter how we feel, it is the love and support of those we surround ourselves with that gets us through the days.” – Cameron Gallagher, taken from the speech she wanted to give at her inaugural SpeakUp5k.

It was if Cameron was saying to her Mom and Dad: “Get Up, Speak Up, and take this baton and run with it!”

That other route for their love for her was being presented and opened; a beacon of hope for a world full of “Cameron’s”.

Growth and how SpeakUp continues to SpeakUp

The reduction of the stigma has been huge.  It is hard tireless work, yet Dave and Grace are fueled by their love for Cameron and the world full of “Cameron’s”.  I have experienced this firsthand, as when I went to Singapore in 2016 (where I was raised) and inquired at the schools I attended if they wanted to learn about SpeakUp. It was a resounding yes and next thing I know I was making two presentations to hundreds of students. There are no borders when it comes to Depression and Anxiety.

When it comes to growth, first and foremost, Dave wants to make sure it is done the right way and is natural, sustainable, and not forced.  As in running, pace matters.

For anyone wondering how to get involved with SpeakUp?  Presently there are SpeakUp 5Ks in Richmond, Tampa, Nashville, Metro Washington DC, and San Diego.  Volunteering at one of their events is always welcome.  There are also workshops for parents and kids on mental wellness and mindful living, that can be used for various audiences (e.g. school assembly, health class, guidance counselors, teachers, community groups, etc).

Ways to get involved can be found on the CKG Foundation website.

Seeing through the eyes of another

I’m convinced that the world would be a better place if we apply what Cameron reminded us.  What if we saw the world through the eyes of another, such as Cameron, and envision the deeper connection that comes from understanding.  We would understand better where they are coming from and vice versa;  personally and professionally.   Having grown up in Asia, I experienced that understanding and relating to friends from other cultures, backgrounds, and countries helped me walk in others shoes.

So, what if we put our hearts into others, shared each other’s experiences, be there for one another, empathize during tough times, and rise up (SpeakUp) for the common good of others.

Songwriter John Ondrasik does this well and conveys what Cameron stood for and her legacy by asking What if:


Dave, and Grace, grateful for you.  As are so many others.

Thank you for taking the baton and running with it.  Cameron is saving lives, and your love for her is fueling others to SpeakUp.

Let’s continue to Fight the Good Fight, Keep the Faith, and Finish the Race.

Until Next Time,



Posted by: edeiss | August 6, 2019

Turning the corner at Grace

It was just after mile 20 of my first marathon in November 2015. I looked at the clock as I crossed the timing gantry, it was at 3:05.  I had long forgotten how tired my legs were, I just kept urging them to keep moving.  Then it hit me, the wall…hard.  Both my calves cramped suddenly, nearly brought me to my knees.  Through what is known in Richmond, Virginia as Pope’s Arch, I saw the head coach of my training team (Sports Backers).  He came alongside, saw that I was struggling and said “Just walk as fast as you can and stretch each calf with each step.” That’s what I did, for 4 miles.  Thought I had nothing left, doubt crept in on actually getting to the finish line.  Made up my mind that if I had to walk to it the rest of the way, I would.  Then when I turned at the corner at Grace Street, the cramping subsided and I could run again, and finished off the race.  I won’t forget going down the hill on 5th Street where I could see the James River and the finish line, it was finally in sight.  Crowds line both sides of the street cheering loudly, with cow bells ringing in my ears, and my running teammates who I trained with for months were waiting for me.  26.2, we got you….talk about some good news!

Just like any long distance run, and what is not news to anyone reading this, life can be hard, very hard.  You’re weary, giving it your all day after day and this race of life you’re in is more draining than you ever expected.  Full of potholes, puddles, hills that seem to go on forever; you just want to catch your breath.  I’ve been there too. As I learned during that first marathon experience, and have experienced first hand in life, there are times I just don’t know what is coming around the corner.  It could be getting through a Tuesday, running down Wronged Road looking for that bridge to cross, and then realizing the strength from scars.

Know what?  I have also experienced God’s unwavering grace at a street corner perfectly named.

The corner of Lombardy and Grace.  Having now run three marathons in Richmond, it serves as a lighthouse bringing me home and reminds me of a lesson learned.

What exactly? That we are conditioned that we get what we deserve, to work hard and try harder. To a large extent, very true. As with running, you get out of it what you put into it.  However, the more I think about it, it can sell us short of our daily struggles and add false expectations.

When I decided to take a chance and follow my heart I quickly learned to focus and just run the mile I was in. One of our coaches taught us that we all can run any mile with a purpose in mind.  So I thought, what fuels that purpose and ultimately the endurance needed to run mile after mile after mile? Is it putting the hard work in?  Trying harder?  What is called ’embracing the suck’?  Not really, rather it is love; that is what motivates endurance and provides the fuel to stay the course. I wouldn’t have made it to the finish without it.

When I turned that corner, I got that second wind, the cramping stopped and I could run again.  The crowd support was amazing; it was as if my eternal Teammate who has already finished His race, had come back to champion mine with heavenly grace, all the while reassuring me the work had been done.

When I see that turn on Grace, I can feel it as if I’m being encouraged “Come on Ed, let’s bring it in together,” and be assured that it is not about my pace or where I place, rather about experiencing His infinite grace.

Long distance runner Ryan Hall ran a half marathon in under an hour, and a marathon just under 2:05.  He was the first American runner to break an hour in the half marathon and the only American to run a sub 2:05 marathon.  His wife Sara is an incredibly accomplished runner as well.  When he was asked during an interview “Are you this good because you have worked and trained harder than everyone else, or because you are more blessed?”

His response: “Neither. I am what I am because of the grace of God. God’s grace has allowed me to pick myself up out of the dirt time and time again. That grace is something we can all have. It obviously takes a lot of focus, discipline, humility, hard work and all those other things that make up great athletes but that is just who I am. We can all achieve a level of greatness when we are who we are meant to be to the fullest.”

After I read that, no doubt he has turned that corner on Grace as well.

There are times I wonder, what does heaven look like as it is approached?  I see it similar to the finish line of a marathon.   When we are weak and hurting, we can imagine the moment when it will be in sight; pressing on with the assurance that the finish will be more glorious, crowds more enthusiastic, and reunions more heartwarming than we could ever imagine.

After taking a year off of long distance running, and basically starting over, I look forward running down Lombardy and taking that turn on Grace.  When I see it, I know the crowd will be there and it will be time to bring it in together, knowing the finish line will soon be in sight.

“God answers the mess of life with one word: grace.” – Max Lucado

Now, that’s the best news ever.

Great to be back writing too.

Until next time,



Posted by: edeiss | November 6, 2018

Believe and Fly

A brother and sister, I can hear it now.  Her brother got on his bike and off he went in the country field in Hanover, Virginia where they lived.  She was still learning and though could not ride yet, said to herself I’ll give him about 20-30 yards or so head start then I’ll catch him, running.  And she did.  I am sure when he saw her out of the corner of his eye, his jaw did a ‘Wile E. Coyote’ pavement drop as Meg sped by, on foot.  The story of Meg Cross Menzies, her faith, her family, and her love of running.  With the fifth year approaching of Meg of lifting us all up on an Angel’s Wings I recently had a chance to sit down with her Mom, Pam Cross, and talk about Meg, her family, and the glory that has come out of ashes with Megsmiles and the impact she has made.  Her family never dreamed their daughter would have carved her name on so many hearts, including my own.

What was Meg as a kid like?  The middle child of three between her two brothers, Wirt and Howard, of Pamela and Wirt Cross.  She was quiet, humble, sweet, kind, loved being on a farm in the country and being outside, being with her Dad, riding the tractor. I picture it as a scene akin to Little House on the Prairie.  Meg started running in the seventh grade and just kept going.  One of her high school teammates shared with me about running with Meg that as fast as she was in high school she just kept finding new strength and soaring, getting better in the years that followed.  Meg’s Christian faith, as modeled by her parents, was the fabric of who she was, and was evident in every interaction.  She loved being with her Mom and Dad, as a kid and adult and was the kind of sister that loved and truly cared for her brothers.  Pam expressed her gratitude that Meg allowed them all to be a big part of her life. When her oldest brother would be deployed as a Navy Commander, Meg would go to his room and simply sit there and pray for him.  It was her way of saying she missed him too.

Meg wanted to be a missionary and would show an extra measure of grace to those she knew and didn’t; she would pay for the stranger’s meal while going through a drive through. Meg also became a wife and mother to three children, and even though she was training and competitively running (she was incredibly fast and close to breaking a 3 hour marathon time), including qualifying for Boston, what was remarkable was that she placed priority on slowing down and always being present with those around her.

The corner of Patrick Henry and Hickory Hill Road, in Hanover, VA on January 13, 2014.  Whenever I ask that question of those who knew Meg, they never forget where they were.  The road called her home that day, an agonizing one for all who knew her.  I did not have the pleasure to know Meg, yet I am grateful to have become good friends with her family and many of her friends.  As I have written about her story and impact, and that her still pictures move hearts, I find my heart moved to tears while writing.  It is said that grief has no rules, it comes and goes in waves and can be stop us in our tracks.  Pam shared that there were days she could not even drive out of a parking lot and getting through the next hour was all that she focus on.

God answers the mess of this life with one word: “grace”Max Lucado

At first it was one pair of sneakers on a road sign at the intersection of Patrick Henry and Hickory Hill Road, left by one of Meg’s running teammates from her Sportsbackers Marathon Training Team, then it became more…much more.  It became a community that truly cares about each other and lifts each other up through challenges and struggles, as Meg did to those around her.  The first weekend after Meg’s passing nearly 100,000 people from around the world ran for her.  Pam and Wirt thought that would be it.  Then as months, and now years, went by they never dreamed Megsmiles would become what it is today, namely glory out of ashes.  Pam feels it is Meg’s way of surrounding her family with love, encouragement, and support until they are together again; she is very close to many in the group and feels she has known them her whole life.

What did Meg love about running?  It was sharing the miles and the running community, and what is evident in the days, months, and now years since that day that Meg ran her last mile is that purpose can certainly find us through storms and we can get through it if we run as one.

A couple memories to share that exemplify to me being a part of the Megsmiles family:

August 1, 2014, I went for a run at Hickory Hill after work as was training for my first ever half marathon.  I live close by and it is very scenic, the major traffic on that road is tractors and hay balers.  Running there also brings reflection as it takes me to the beginning of a journey that encouraged me to take a chance and follow my heart when I ran my first marathon in 2015. It was Meg’s birthday and the first one her family would have without her.  As I finished my run, I came upon the road sign which became Meg’s Memorial.  There was a couple there tending to it and as I approached I was asked, ‘Are you Ed?’ And I looked at them both and it was Meg’s parents…you must be Meg’s Mom and Dad.  We immediately hugged, how fitting the first people I met In Megsmiles were Pam and Wirt Cross.  I have been grateful for their friendship ever since.

It was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, 2014.  I was driving back home from Northern Virginia down Route 301, it was dusk and at the last minute decided to take a detour.  I knew this was the first Thanksgiving Pam and Wirt were without Meg so thought would stop by Meg’s Memorial, reflect and pray for them.  As I parked and walked over, saw someone there. It was Wirt spending some time with his daughter Meg.  We had a heartwarming and authentic time to share with each other, as I knew he was grieving.  I was grateful to be there with him as we told stories and I learned a lot about Meg and what it was like raising her and seeing her into being a wife and mom.  For those that read my blog know, I always enjoy spending time with and learning from other Dads, and for those Dads with daughters as I have shared before, there is something about it that adds another dimension to a man’s soul, it softens and adds tenderness and at the same time makes it more valiant and protective.  That was evident with Wirt; Meg your Dad loves you with all his heart and though he can’t be with you now, knows that you are always with him.

‘Where our strength runs out, God’s strength begins’ – Unknown

When we drive by Pam and Wirt’s house and farm, we often stop by, for Cross Family Produce.  A farm stand in their front yard and when we do, my wife Angela and I love spending time with them.  That is the way they are, showing an extra measure of grace to all.  We realize we would not have known them had it not been for Megsmiles, and the tragedy in January of 2014, we can’t help think we were introduced in a way none of us wanted.

When I wrote a letter to Meg before my first half marathon, I noted the impact Meg and Megsmiles was having on my life, namely:

“That said, (Meg) you have brought together so many lives and changed them, more than you will ever know.  You have encouraged me to live life to the fullest, have no regrets, honor myself, and invest in the lives of others.  You have encouraged me in my faith, and the faith to carry on….”

Megsmiles Memorial Run 2017 at Hickory Hill, Hanover Virginia

In other words, you are encouraging us all to believe and fly.

“..but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Believe and fly, on the surface seems that it can’t be done.  So did running 26.2 until I did it, yet I knew that I needed to believe that I could.  When we are literally jumping into the unknown, doubts certainly can take over.  Then again, I am reminded that I would rather soar with eagles.  Thank you Meg.

God bless you Pam, Wirt, Wirt and Howard for sharing life her with us all.

I also want to introduce a new blogger to the community, Pam Cross.  When she asked me about it, I did my best to encourage her to do so, as we can all use an extra measure of grace.  The domain is up and we look forward to hearing stories and learning from you Pam!

Until next time,


An imaginative scene from Get Smart…

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

‘I’m missing your point by thaaat much, 99. Can you say that again?’

So Agent 99 clarifies ‘OK Max, this may not make sense at first so I will say it again: The best relationships are the ones you have the option not to be in.’


So Max after getting a suggestion from 99 on what to do next says ‘If you don’t mind, 99, I’d like to figure this out myself.’

After activating the cone of silence to think it over, he then turns it off and says ‘So what you are saying, 99, is the best relationships are the ones you don’t have to have.’

‘That’s brilliant Max!’  99 concludes knowing full well he just repeated her suggestion in his own way.

Get Smart, a great TV series. I enjoyed 2006 movie as well. Swordfish!!!

There is a saying from Mark Twain, “Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option”.

Ever happen to you?  That is what I thought.

The more I observe and think about my experience, the best relationships are the ones you don’t have to have, you have an option to be in them. In other words, you are in it because you want to be and make it a priority.

As I look around at relationships with friends, family, and couples I know, including what I strive for with my wife Angela, what are the dynamics at work?  It is evident that they are in it because they want to be, whether it is professional or personal; including ones with family. Being related does not necessarily mean there is a relationship; you can chose whether or not to make it so.  As you may have read, I certainly did with my Mom and I made that decision over time.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Great relationships are not easy to form and harder to maintain. What is it about these relationships we don’t have to have that we want to have anyway?

There appears to be some common threads:

  • A genuine and sincere interest at heart of the people we relate to, with expressed friendship; the words humility, selflessness, trust, and purposeful come to mind
  • Encouragement rather than criticism with sincere intent to listen and understand the other’s interests and point of view
  • Presence of a healthy mutual respect, including respect of differences; even the disagreements are respectful and don’t go down the slide of criticism and contempt
  • Ability to be introspective and accept responsibility rather than defensive pointing of fingers and assigning blame elsewhere
  • A preference for dialogue that works to resolve rather that allowing conflict to escalate to the “I’m avoiding you” level
  • Engaging of the mind before the mouth and keeping anger and emotions in check

It reminds me of “Be the friend you want to have”. – Unknown

Relationships in your life that are based on those threads will be there for you in times of need to encourage, correct, listen, and help out any way they can. They will be the ones that really care. I call them my ‘3am friends’ and they are there for you even at that hour.  Of course, we must ask ourselves if we will be there for others as relationships are, after all, a two-way street.  They require investment from both parties, and there is no greater investment that you could make.

Relationships that you don’t have to have are worth your effort because of the joy and life that they give; they must be fought for and maintained.

With the perspective of being a kid raised in Asia by a single parent, and one myself for seven years, keep them close because you probably have realized through your own lens that:

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” – Yogi Berra

Until next time,


Posted by: edeiss | July 12, 2017

The Struggle is Real, so is the Result

Training Run in August 2015, and the struggle to run 16 miles for the first time…got there!

It was the summer I was turning fifteen: ‘If we don’t operate and get it corrected, your life will be short and difficult.’ That was the prognosis from one of the surgeons who reconstructed rib cages. Mine were growing in a way that restricted lung capacity. When I heard it, could not believe it.  My Dad either. When I played sports, I had trouble breathing as could not get CO2 out quick enough. Dad struggled to think what it could mean if he decided to go ahead or not. If he went ahead, scars for life with metal in my ribs while still growing.  If he decided to forgo, either the doctor is right or a walk in faith. An agonizing and tough call for any parent, single or married. It was a struggle.

Though always active, I started long distance running in January 2014 that was inspired by a person I never met to persevere on the open road unknown, where both fear and hope can traverse both sides.  I have since  run two full and four half marathons, and lots more miles training for each one. I truly never thought could run more than a few miles, and I am sure neither did that doctor. Running for an hour or more allows time to reflect, akin to blogging on the run.  I know for certain that when it comes to getting through our struggles in life, they are best done when we run as one as pain can be rewoven into purpose.

So strength, where does it come from?  Whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Having spent seven years as a single parent, a run down can look like this: You have just worked all day, and had not such a good day in the first place. Get home, have to get one child to basketball, the other to gymnastics, get dinner on the table, make sure homework is taken care of, get some house chores done, and then say good night.  Ah, time to yourself…you say ‘Kidding, right?’  You may not feel like much of a success most days and when you do get a moment to pause you think about how you always wanted to find out how tiring total exhaustion can be. Then again, is that why you are stronger today than you were yesterday?

Have realized that strength does not come from success, whether it be a run, running a house alone, or anything else. As I take long runs on the weekends, it requires fuel; every mile, quarter-mile, tenth of a mile. What is your strength’s fuel?

Struggle. And without struggle, there is no strength.

“I am thankful for my struggle because without it I would not have stumbled across my strength” – Alex Elle

As I look around my family and friends I have grown close to as I relied on them through my own struggles, what I admire is that they are grounded, genuine, wise, strong, and authentic.   I am grateful for my wife Angela, who has shared her struggles with me and how she got through a stage 3 cancer, which has given me a new appreciation to just be still and listen to the wind. They have all known heartbreak and have gone through storms and fog in their life. They have gained an appreciation and understanding of life over time, and are passionate and compassionate.

When hard times hit, can be defined by it or be strengthened by it. Your choice.

What are some of the truths that hold fast through struggle? Some guidance from blogger Marc Chernoff with my insights:

  • Pain will happen, it hurts, and fuels growth – Pain is real and part of us, and when felt wakes us up. How you carry it is what matters, it is just fine to feel it as it would be fine to feel loved. You will only learn how strong you are when being strong is the only choice. Yes, pain can leave scars, however as you grow stronger you will see the beauty in the strength of scars.
  • Your Mindset – Who expects life to be wonderful all the time? Raise your hand. As I remember the painting my Dad had in our living room in Singapore of ocean waves crashing against a rugged coastline of rocks, rising and crashing waves are part of the same ocean. Recognize this and know ups in life require downs. An imperfect life, with air in my lungs a blessing each day, being around my wife and kids, and amazed at it all with radical gratitude sure is good.
  • Fear is what you allow it to be – After hearing that prognosis when I was fifteen, was not thinking about moving forward that much.  Then I realized, I can address it by facing it. No kid wants to hear their life will be short and difficult.  I knew what I had to do, and though there were doubts at times, it was my mind that was allowing it. Take courage and face the fear, and don’t let it stop you from moving forward with your life.
  • Experience means growth – The greatest gifts in life can be the plans that don’t go as planned. That was the case for me and the relationship with my mom, whom I did not get to know until I was an adult. When I left America at age nine, did not foresee or even imagine would be close as we have become, though would not recommend the experience. I guess by not expecting something or having a preconceived notion about it, I can appreciate it for what it is, accept what happened, and step forward with what I’ve learned.  It comes in handy with what is yet to be experienced.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”  – Mother Teresa

  • What you have is today – You may have heard that saying “Tomorrow, that mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation, and achievement is stored.” Life is lived today, and needs to be dealt with as it is today. Not where we were, should be, or want to be. Stay close to your family and friends, and there is much to be thankful for around you. Appreciate today as it is where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow.
  • It takes time – Ever experience instant results? Were they the best? If so, what is there to look forward to? Patience seems to be underrated and is misconstrued as waiting rather than working towards something that is worth the anticipation.  It is about a sense of accomplishment of staying focused, calm, and steadfast..and takes time.
  • You are not alone – Be purposeful and reach out, can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am for the guys I had around me as I was Getting Through Tuesday. In the midst of your struggle, it is easy to assume your friends are just fine. Fact is many have struggles or have gone through struggles you know nothing about. However, it takes courage to be transparent and open up about it. It was certainly hard for me at first, and then I realized that:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one” – C.S Lewis

Will always treasure my first marathon experience in 2015, I took a chance and followed my heart; learned that I had to be willing to struggle as each mile had a purpose that has impacted, encouraged, challenged, and inspired me over the years to be a better version of myself.

As I am training for Marathon number three, the 40th Richmond Marathon on November 11, 2017, I am reminded of an African proverb “If you want to run fast run alone, if you want to run far run together.” Having many friends and family around me affected by cancer, and the struggle, I running this 26.2 for Connor’s Heroes Foundation; a non-profit organization that was founded based on a Richmond  family’s journey through cancer with their son, Connor Goodwin. They are paying it forward by ensuring fighting childhood cancer a journey a family never faces alone.

Me and Connor Goodwin; honored that we are going to finish the Richmond Marathon together.

Building strength, it requires being open to the struggle.

Let it be the fuel to strengthen you through the ups and downs of the ocean waves that life brings.

Until next time,


Posted by: edeiss | April 20, 2017

Listen to the Wind

As we approached one of the windows overlooking a clearing and open water at Fort Pulaski near Tybee Island, Georgia on our honeymoon, the wind was gusting.  To me, nothing new and heard it many times before.  As I got closer I thought about previous generations of people and soldiers stationed here, looking through that same window and listening to that wind.  Angela says to me ‘Just listen to the sound of the wind.’  My wife is a cancer survivor and she has shared with me the day she was diagnosed in December 2011 and was facing the reality of not being alive much longer; when she left the doctor’s office facing the reality of the end being near, everything sounded different.  Children laughing, wind gusting, birds in the morning.  Everything is brought into sharp focus and what seemed before to be nothing new and heard before, was new every time. Got me thinking…what a way to live life.  As if you had only so much time and everything was new and each day was full of radical gratitude and worth your total pursuit.

The challenges we all face in life are not initially seen as gifts, however as I have conveyed previously, through storms and fog purposes may find you.  And when purpose does find you, the ability to sharing stories and making yourself vulnerable can serve others.

Regrets. We all have them. Think of the most common ones you have at present.  Is it not being true to, and having confidence in, yourself?  Working more than you would like over precious time with those important to you?  Been meaning to get back in touch with someone, an old friend you have known since childhood?  Turning off your phone/email more to enjoy the present and what is in front of you?  Worrying about what others think or trying to please them?  Enjoying the outdoors or going camping more? Travel? Not asking that person out? Doing a job rather than doing what you love?  Not taking care of your health as you should?  Not visiting a friend before they died? The list goes on.

Angela is also a paramedic and with her seeing life and death situations all the time, I recently asked her if she had ever been by the side of someone as they passed away.  She has, and as they did she holds their hand to comfort them.  As I listen and learn from her, I just grow in gratitude for her as my wife, and look forward to the years we have to listen to the wind.

So, what would be the biggest regret if this was the last day of your life?

A palliative nurse who has counseled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Regrets of the Dying, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying“.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.”

Take a breath, listen to the wind.  What will you set out to achieve or change?

The movie “The Blind Side” is a great inspirational story of Michael Oher who is an outstanding NFL player and left tackle, won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.  It is based on his book “I Beat The Odds”, and Tim McGraw portrayed his adoptive father, Sean Touhy.

With the context of Bronnie Ware’s insights, learned about Tim’s relationship with his Dad.  Many of you know that his Dad is Tug McGraw, 1980 World Series champion pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched the last out. Tug was hospitalized with a brain tumor on March 12, 2003 and it was revealed that he had cancer. He was given three weeks to live however survived nine months; he died on January 5, 2004.  His Hall of Fame teammate Mike Schmidt said of Tug on the day he passed away:

“Tug got more out of his time on earth than anyone could imagine. I have the photo of Tug allowing me to jump in his arms following the last out of the 1980 World Series on my wall. I will take it with me this summer, hang it on my office for all to see, and look at it a split second longer each day.”

Live life to the fullest, have no regrets, and invest in the lives of others and those close to you.

Angela and I are about to take a weekend to celebrate her birthday, celebrating another year she thought she would never see.  It’s a big deal to her, and as one that prefers to have my birthday anonymously I have come to realize that birthdays should be big deals to all of us.  It’s a surprise where we are going, however we will certainly live with no regrets about the time we have together and take our time, and leave our phones and technology behind.  Besides, would rather watch an eagle as it’s flying.

Happy Birthday babe, and thank you for being who you are, and teaching me to listen to the wind.

With you, I hear it as I never have before.  Let’s go.

Thank you for reading and until next time,


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