The Powdered Donut Manifesto | 21 and a Cup of Dirt

21. “Once in a Lifetime.” A cup of dirt. You might wonder what any of these things have to do with a powdered donut or the fight with cancer for that matter, but they do. I’m on a flight from Minneapolis to New York City, and now seems like a really good time to add to the Powdered Donut Manifesto series (story of the powdered donut). Last Sunday, I flew up to Minneapolis with Kyla and Katelyn, our 2 precious daughters born from the love I shared with Maureen for almost 25 years of marriage. Kyla’s team, Austin Performance 15 Asics, was playing in the American division of the Girl’s National Junior Volleyball tournament. It was a fun week. Being a Texan, the idea that the highs were only in the 70s was a blessing in itself, but the time was precious for other reasons. Maureen was reminding us frequently that the line between heaven and earth is thin… I’ve written about “thin spaces” previously and explained the concept in this post.  One of the “thin spaces” that happened this week was at a Whataburger in Phoenix as my son, Taylor (18), and four of his high school friends, stopped for a “healthy” snack on their way to Yosemite to hike up Half Dome and explore the many other trails and falls there. As he made his order, he was handed this number to set on his table. 21. 21 is a pretty magic number for those that know our story. For you see, Maureen passed on the morning of October 21, 2014. Rather than allow this day, this...

The Powdered Donut Manifesto | Sometimes Your #onething is 2

I felt a weird tug. An instinct. Something said call. I left a message. After peeking at my friend’s Facebook page, though, I realized I had to call back. Before going any deeper into the next few minutes that unfolded on my phone call this past Friday morning, though, I need to back up a little bit. For folks that know me, you know that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (the LLS) and Team in Training are big parts of who I am. These gifts came into my life because of my love for a little boy, Kethan, a little boy that should be finishing 9th grade with my daughter, Kyla. I met he and his family at the beginning of 1st grade at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School here in Austin. My life was forever changed, not just because he was fighting leukemia, but because he was a truly special human being. All who interacted with him were changed by him. His passing in the summer of 2013 left a huge hole in too, too many lives. Life is precious. Life is a gift beyond measure. His life changed mine, and because of the LLS, my life has been enriched by the many, many people I have met on my bike, at galas, and at meetings, like the one in Orlando several years ago. We were at a reception at Seaworld in Orlando. This was the site of our Volunteer Leadership Conference for the LLS that year. As my kids know, I love talking to people. I love people because I love life, and people are a gift. I...

Journey to Thailand | Day Five 5.2.2017 | Taylor Thompson

Smiles. The window into someone’s life. The doorway into a person’s happiness. A snapshot. A snippet. A moment. These are the moments we glance over most often. Forget. Disregard. For one little girl in Thailand, these moments are all she has. This little girl skips. She runs down the street. She watches eagerly. She helps pass the pails. She wears a yellow shirt. And a red skirt. For now, she has no name. To us, she is the girl who smiles. Her situation doesn’t faze her. It doesn’t envelop her. It strengthens her. She is able to find so much in so little. The positive in the negative. Beauty in rubble. Peace in discord. When I look at her, I cannot help but smile myself. I can not help but cry. Not because I feel shame for my “privilege”. Not because I feel like I am not doing enough. Like I’m not being enough. Like I’m not enough. Because I am enough. She is enough. We are all enough. We don’t have to be anything more than we are. As Theodore Roosevelt says in his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the areas, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the...

Journey to Thailand | Day Two 4.28.2017 | Taylor Thompson

When you are sitting on a plane for what feels like hours on end, time becomes a very predominant feature of your experience. You begin to wonder: how much longer? How long have I already been here? Why am I not in First Class?! But at a certain point, these questions begin to go deeper. They become what is time? Who created it? Why does everyone follow it? This line of thinking continues into who created everything we do? Things like science, arithmetic, language, design. The list goes on. And on. And on. And on. For me, the answer goes back to one of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs: Everything around you that we call life was made up by people no smarter than you… you can change it. You can influence it. You can build your own things that other people can use. You can poke life. You can improve it. You can make your mark upon it. You can make it better. Don’t settle. Think differently. Challenge the status quo. Do big. Not small. Because doing something big takes the same amount of time as doing something small. So why not do something...

Journey to Thailand | Day One 4.27.2017 | Taylor Thompson

Several months before the love of my life, my beautiful bride, passed, I began to write love letters. The normal CaringBridge approach of talking about the disease, her cancer, just didn’t seem right to me. After Maureen’s passing, I continued to write, because our love did not end on the day of her passing. She may not be present physically, but her love is fully present. We are still connected. Over the last several months, I have been privileged to share words of love that come from the hearts of our three children, Taylor (18), Kyla (15) and Katelyn (13). As we “celebrated” what would have been Maureen’s 53rd birthday yesterday, Taylor, our eldest, was in the air. Flying Etihad Airways. To Thailand for a Global Village Build with Habitat for Humanity in Udon Thani. Today, I share his words. His voice. His love. I love you son. Mommy loves you. God’s speed… Day One | 27 April 2017 Day one. Today was all about emotion. Excitement. Worry. Sadness. Anger. Happiness. A sense of belonging. Emotions that did not happen in one particular order, but that occurred intermittently throughout the day. Occurrences that affected my mood. That affected how I saw and moved though the world at that particular moment. I realized just how beautiful and wonderful emotions are. But also how destructive, distracting, and debilitating they can be if you allow the negative ones to consume you. Sitting here on the plane from Dallas to Abu Dhabi has allowed me to think a lot. I’ve thought about what I think the future might hold. About the past twelve...

The Day I Became a Mom

Post Co-Published on Mom’s Next Move A Site by J.C. Conklin & Monica Samuels Monica Samuels is a fellow St. Andrew’s parent, with a son in 9th grade, like my daughter, Kyla. As I explore taking my writing from the blog page to book form, Monica has been not just a good friend but a sage advisor, having written her own book, Comeback Moms, with J.C. Conklin. On October 21, 2014, I became a mom. No, it wasn’t a modern medical miracle. Science had not cracked the code on a man giving birth. Heck, we guys couldn’t handle childbirth in any case. No, on October 21, 2014, I had been asked to handle something else. After a courageous on-and-off 11 year battle with breast cancer, the love of my life, my Maureen, my bride of almost 25 years, passed from this world to the next. We went to sleep on the night of Monday, October 20th holding hands. We squeezed hands again around 4am when the nurses came in to take my sweetie’s vitals. Squeezing hands was our quiet way of saying, “I love you,” without using words. Around 5:30am or so, I had stirred a bit in my cot on my side of Maureen’s hospital bed. I looked out the window on 7 North at Seton Hospital in Austin, Texas. The sun hadn’t come up yet. The stars were twinkling, as were the lights at 26 Doors across the street, the shopping center that my favorite coffee and gelato shop, Teo’s, calls home. I felt a certain warmth and a quiet voice in my head that said, “go back...