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 | Senior Project 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...

The Gift of Love | Katelyn Thompson

On the way into St. Andrew’s Episcopal School this morning, I was already a little wistful thinking about the fact that this was Taylor’s “last” time to be at Lessons and Carols. Maureen and I have loved this service since he first sang “Mary Had a Baby” as a 1st grader. Now, he is a senior; Kyla is a freshman; and Katelyn is a 6th grader. As we drove, Katelyn wanted to read to me her Christmas present from English class. I’m glad she did, because it is the perfect expression of the love I always feel during this most wonderful celebration of what Christmas is all about, love. Dear Dad, The love that you and mom have provided me is more important than any Christmas gift that you can buy at a store. The time that you have taken to take care of us and watch us grow up is so breathtaking. You have been by our side throughout all of our lives. You have loved me when times got tough, and taught me how to love. The Gift of the Magi is a perfect story during Christmas time, because these two characters Jim and Della are sacrificing the prized possessions because of their love for each other. They are selling their possessions in the sacrament of love. Love in a family is a major part of having a well grounded happy family. I picked three things that represent the gift of our family. A gift to me is something that I will treasure forever, like all of the memories I have cherished with mom. My favorite memory...

The Love of My Life | “Can You Imagine?”

“Can you imagine what it’s like seeing life from the other side?” For those that have followed my writing for a while, you know Teo’s Gelato on 38th in Austin is a special place for me. Last Wednesday, I was sitting at Teo’s, after dropping my youngest, Katelyn, off at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School for another day of 6th grade. However, what unfolded over the next few hours was definitely not routine. For that matter, what has unfolded over the last few days is beyond imagination, but when “your heart is open wide, you’ll believe it.” And, for the last hour, I have been having a conversation with Nicholas here at Stouthaus Coffee Pub on Lamar… yes, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops! Nicholas was here with his son, Finley. Finley is only 5 months old, and as I looked over at him, I remembered “wheeling” Taylor around the University of Texas School of Law when he was this age. It was my third year of law school. It was late 1999. Taylor had been born earlier that year, at the end of January. Fortunately, Nicholas and Finley decided to move over to the couch at Stouthaus, and Nicholas and I started an unexpected, yet powerful conversation. Quite frankly, this blog post on “Can You Imagine?” would not be complete but for the many nuggets of thinking that Nicholas unleashed in my mind. This is the power of authenticity and vulnerability. It is why I like to talk with people so much. I’m lucky Nicholas was of a similar spirt this morning. One of these nuggets...