We started it off in Melbourne, Australia – honestly one of the best nights of my life. Dancing in a park with my family Aussie friends Hannah’s family (looking back now who knew that time together in Australia would be one of the last all together with Dad before his stroke) was absolutely amazing to bring in 2015!
Donald + Hannah got married on the 2nd – it was a blazing 102 degrees but beautiful and everything was perfect! We spent a few more days in the city before heading back to Jacksonville, Florida – to recover from jet lag get into our work catching up from being gone but also putting in time to put us ahead!
Every year in Jan my husband attends the PGA show in Orlando and I get to go along to work, give him rides and hang out by the pool! We were able to have lunch with his father as he was passing through on business and get excited about Golf in the Life Of’s year ahead.
We enjoyed our warm winter in Jax with walks on the beach, lots of coffee, a weekend away at our friends’ parents place with their fun dog!
We celebrated Valentines Day with a long hike and our best friends got TWO Golden Doodle Puppies! Now known as my nephews from there we headed to Austin, Tx for my cousins Star Wars Wedding! The week in Austin was perfect with lots of laughs, good hang outs with my older siblings Bobby & Michael – the BEST food in the states!
With our lease ending in April we went on the hunt for a new place to rent and found the PERFECT place on the beach in the beginning of March and held it until we could move in April 1st! We wanted to be more active (yes sometimes it was hard to drive the ten mins to get to the beach)! My 70 hours+ work weeks ended in March – I spent lots of time working and hanging out with the Clarkson pups. Cordie (my husband) took a couple day trips for work…life was good. We were looking forward to our family/friends to be visiting in the beginning of April… spent lots of time at the Country Club we were members at. I ran a fun 5K with some girlfriends!
We moved into a dream condo beginning of April and we satisfied to no longer go on day trips exploring or wanting to travel the world! We celebrated my birthday in style – I got a beach cruiser that’d I’d been wanting for ages! And thoroughly enjoyed riding it 3-4x a week! I also no longer worked at the admin job I was doing so had lots of time to plan and dream for what I wanted.
The Cass Family arrived a week later and we got to spend two weeks with them on the beach, hanging out in St. Augustine, walks, pool time and just good quality time. We had an issue with our wooden floors having pools of water from condensation but were moved in and happy with the view. Being able to sit and watch the sunrise and sunset from our balcony every day!
Come May I went to Las Vegas to reunite with some besties I met in Australia 9 years prior and had an amazing girls weekend! Was definitely needed as I hadn’t seen one in 5+ years and the other in 2.5!
Coming back to Jax was great – I was refreshed and intent on figuring out what I wanted… my husband the amazing guy that he is decided that we should wait until September 1st, 2015 for me to find another job (other than helping his businesses out) and just focus on writing, creating and doing what I wanted to do.
Another friend also got a puppy so I got to spend lots of time with him as well. : )
I started an Etsy Shop called Burlap & Bottle Co – with fiber art consistent of wall art tapestries, leather tied art and weaved looms! Along with custom painted and designed centerpieces from old wine, beer and whiskey type bottles with burlap, lace and fun rustic accents!
Cordie spent a lot of time at the golf course when he could – we went to several qualifiers (I acted as his caddie) We were happy, content and making progress towards our 2015 goals – personally and in our businesses.
In June I decided to do a 30 day meal plan – yes just for the two of us and MAN does it take time… so props to all of you out there that do meal plans! I found some amazing recipes we will make for years to come and enjoyed testing my cooking skills in the kitchen! Our usual for us was a smoothie in the Nutri Bullet, Salad for lunch and whatever we could come up with for dinner so it was a fun change of pace.
Come July we had more golf tournaments and headed up to MN for our annual trip to see friends and family! (The last time we had been there was in June of 2014). We arrived to an amazing home made meal made by great friends (Cass & Molins) felt extremely blessed and excited to spend time with family for the next 10 days before heading to Chicago for a golf work trip.
We spent our whole time outdoors – boating with friends, sprinklers on with the Dunlap Ln kiddos, frisbee golf with our parents…. biked around Rochester… ate at some amazing new restaurants in town… caught up with lots of old friends! It was a blast!
While we were there my friend was watching our condo for us – watering the plants and just making sure everything was fine! After 4 days of being gone she said there was mold on the floor from the water condensation (rewind to April when it was there upon our move in day and management said everything was normal and it was that way in all of the units) I was slightly nervous but she cleaned it up for us thankfully and that was that. She went back after a few days and the mold had increased – our doors/windows everything was shut (and even living on the beach there is humidity but not enough to do damage in 4 days).
Due to this concern we ended our trip a little sooner than planned and headed back south. Stopping in the Carolinas for a night to explore, hike, find some gorgeous water falls and do one last little getaway before returning to work life and our norm. We headed home with a new perspective that people matter. Spending time with loved ones face to face is so important. How important it is also for work and life and business.
OUR ENTIRE place was covered in BLACK MOLD. Not mold that would just show up but signs of dormant mold due to horrific installation in the building a leaking AC unit that our landlord never informed us about and the water spot on the floor would coat all of our possessions… I was furious. Shocked. Didn’t know what to do. We had emergency cleanup services arrive install filtration devices, dehumidifiers and were told not to reenter for 48 hours.
That yes we could clean our furniture and clothes, books, everything but could never be guaranteed that the spores were dead inside…. SO we crashed at our friends’ house…. Sunday came I cried a lot. Like a lot. All of my mementos. Irreplaceable things I had been given were gone. Things that belonged to my beloved Grandparents who had passed away and could never be given back. Books we had acquired over the years – when we travel to other countries we always pick out an interesting book those were all gone. Destroyed. Mold is serious. Seriously damaging to your health. Can be dormant in your homes… but also in your body for years without showing the negative effects it is doing to you. Your mental health. Emotional health. Physical health can all be affected.
Monday night we had dinner with our close friends had some good laughs… discussed that it would be okay. We’d figure something out. We would stay in a hotel for a week or so and wait out what the Landlord would do/insurance etc… As I set my stuff down on the hotel bed my phone rang – it was my Mom.
Her voice was calm.
She said, “Katherine I am in the Emergency Room at St. Mary’s something has happened to your Dad – please call the rest of your siblings.” My head was spinning I was rocked – Dad had a stroke she thought… Cordie and I double teamed calling my four siblings. Gave the little information we had and prayed. Cried. Prayed. Called family.
Read more and for updates visit: Prayfordon.com
Great friend of ours Andy went immediately to the hospital to be with my mother. Fought for my dad in prayer and called on others to do the same. It was difficult to sleep. We didn’t know what to do. Do we get a flight out first thing in the morning? What do we do with our mold infested condo?
After it looked like my Dad would make it through the night… and more we decided to take all of Tuesday to bleach and go through our shit – yes thats what it was to us. Crazy that we mourned and grieved our belongings just 24 hours prior and here someone we both loved and admired was weak, condition unknown and not the support strong Dad we all knew.
With the help of my best friend we went through everything got a storage unit – said goodbye to our friends went to bed early and left the next day at 3am. We drove 18 hours straight to Madison, WI before crashing and not knowing if we would make it safely to Rochester due to extreme tiredness and stress.
Thankfully friends fed my mom, supported her, prayed with her, visited her and loved on her.
Thursday August 6th, 2015 we arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN and we were both sick to our stomachs with what we would be facing. My mom hadn’t left the hospital/showered or anything since arriving that Monday evening. She wanted someone my Dad could recognize and see when he woke up. He had a breathing tube. Was a silent aspirator… and slept. A lot. The stroke was so large and with so much blood it is a miracle he lived through it all.
Honestly – the next two weeks are now a blur. Long hours at the hospital. Figuring out what to do since they didn’t have health insurance, crying at night when no one was around. We felt like zombies. Bobby and Elizabeth arrived – got to spend quality time with Dad. He was recovering quicker than they thought – doing great with his therapy. He got to move August 17/18th to a long-term facility that specialized in stroke rehabilitation.
Cordie and I floated from our parents homes to friends that graciously opened up their homes to us. We had to hire a lawyer to resolve the condo situation – without too much detail it was very stressful and hectic. To add on top of all of that Cordie’s parents were going through a divorce (which is what we thought was the worse and most stressful thing going on in our life back in July) and ended up being the least of our worries and stressors.
Dad made it to his 60th birthday figuring out how to communicate clearly with us all by following one dot at a time with one finger as he said one word! It was amazing! My eldest brother Michael spent a week in town from Los Angeles bringing lots of games, magazines and books to entertain my Dad at his rehab center.
I was spoiled with money to buy new clothes from a friend, got my hair colored for free and felt overwhelmed with the generosity of everyone around us.
Before Sept 1st we had to get all of our stuff out of the condo – Hurricane Something was on its way to Jacksonville and with the wonderful/now horrible location of our condo we rushed to get everything removed in the event the hurricane caused more damage than expected we wouldn’t be liable.
So we PAID people to remove everything and clean out the condo and do what they pleased with it all. Yes, they knew there was mold and didn’t care if they made money off of it – if some day down the road mold spores would pop up in someone else’s house due to it…. but it was a relief and step one. UNTIL our lawyer told us we should not have removed it all. UGH to explain the day to day stress of Dad’s condition, work life and this is not easy to do in words… and then to HAVE people TELL you I hope you kept all that you can, you should save it all… NO people’s lives matter more AND why would we put 10-20k into cleaning it all without a guarantee it was completely gone?!
Yes, we dry cleaned some bags of clothes that didn’t have any type of smell or sign of mold – it was expensive and we knew with starting all over again we didn’t want to do that with everything. Once it was all said and done – business began to grow there was increased client work had happened in August – we had a product launch. I was able to work with Cordie 20 – 30 hours a week… no need to get get a job now.
September was full of playing catch up on work from the two weeks spent in the hospital and all of the excess time with our lawyer – who made everything easy and great for us. We worked hard to get ahead as Donald and his wife Hannah would be flying in from Australia at the end of the month.
Honestly that month is a blur now. Felt like we didn’t see each other ever – or could have real conversations anywhere but in the car which were always cut short. So taking morning walks and sharing what we were grateful for was helpful. We went to the Farmer’s Market here in town one day and that was a nice treat… seemed like the norm for us in Florida was hard to find but we were blessed to be able to be with others. Have support and something other to focus on then what had been happening.
Friends’ of ours father passed away – that was really tough to hear about and watch them go through. Not knowing the best way to help. Another friend’s mom was diagnosed with Cancer… felt like all around us there was story after story of tough things people were experiencing.
However, we did have a blast being a part of Hannah’s first time to Rochester – we went to a pumpkin patch, Wild Game, the Mall of America, had a bonfire… ate lots of chicken wings. Drank lots of Moka – watched the blood moon, spent time watching NFL and went to our high school homecoming game! Oh it was so good to have them here. The two weeks flew by but in the midst of what was going on was wonderful to see them and create more memories with them! We celebrated Hannah’s 30th birthday as well it was a blast and my parents were so thrilled they could make it!
I got to go to my 1 0 YEAR high school reunion – yes ten years. So hard to believe. It was fun. Got to spend time with my bestie again and see soooo many people I hadn’t in years! Dad got to come home the first week of October – was extremely happy. Starting pool therapy…. my parents both cried the first day he got into the pool. It was an adjustment moving into the house but my brother Bobby would be living with them full time to help with food, transportation, daily hygiene etc…
Living with the Cass Family off and on for 4/5 months was an adjustment – but one I would never have changed. It was a joy to wake up with Mr. Potato heads on the bed, or barbies in my face.. to hear their girls sliding down the stairs to get us out of bed! To share meals together, coffee together… laugh, cry… get hooked on TV Shows together! It was the best!
People couldn’t understand it why we would choose to stay somewhere without four doors and a real closet but it was grand. Im sure people don’t get why Andy and Christy would let us live with them either… we will forever look back on our time there and smile. Remember how wonderful community is and vital it is to all relationships. We were lucky enough to learn from an amazing couple who have been married 10 years… watch their family meal time… movie nights… see them interact with 150% of themselves into their daughters lives… and oh how they welcome their home up to EVERYONE!
They are non-stop with including people into their lives, homes and hearts! Definitely something to be thankful for and we are looking forward to the day we can host them and have them stay with us and others!
Until we ‘settle’ down you will all just have to come visit us wherever we go in the next 12 – 18 months so we can be your hosts! (Which was our ‘plan’ for July 2016 to travel for a year so it just got pushed forward!).
Mid October we were hanging out with the Cass Family – had just finished dinner (I was braiding Christy’s hair) and she got a phone call.. her mom had been hit by a car while she was on her daily walk and was being taken to the hospital. That is all the news they knew. Christy picked up her sisters and drove straight away to Red Wing… Kiyah stayed home with Cordie and I for a movie night… Her pelvic bone was broken in three places, she had a brain bleed (everyone started praying that it wouldn’t be severe) and she was discharged from Red Wing and taken to St. Mary’s in Rochester.
It was once again a surreal moment. What would the outcome be of her walking again… her recovery etc… She was alive but the long term recovery would be there. Fast Forward to December seeing BJ without her yellow bruising (covered on her one whole side of her body) she was beaming with JOY. So full of life and concern for others… full of wisdom and tid bits of information like always.
We left for a weekend to Jax to finalize all of our stuff – get it out of a friend’s house into our storage unit go through and organize it a bit better – was great to getaway for a little bit and refocus. Be thankful that we have friends all over to see and spend that face to face time with even if it is every couple of months or once a year.
Going into November we sold one car… and started the hunt to trade in our ILX for something with 4WD or All wheel drive to make sure we could get around in the event it snows… one car you say! Its not strange to us but have realized how ‘abnormal’ it is in America for a couple to only have one car… but its perfect for us when one can be working at home and the other off doing whatever it is they may need to be doing!
Cordie is very very thorough in his research so we looked and test drove and found something we loved mid November which would be perfect to drive up to Canada in just a few short weeks to visit more friends, celebrate Cordie’s Golden Birthday and enjoy Thanksgiving out of the States. We moved into my parents house for two weeks while my older brother went back to Austin, Tx to take care of some things and have a little ‘getaway’ himself. It was fun to hang out with my mom and dad, attend his physical therapy session and just be there for the day to day moments. Which will always be different than ‘stop ins’ to say hello and hang out.
Fun fact: Cordie doesn’t really enjoy the holidays or his birthday so going away and being together just the two of us is our tradition.
I found a great hotel to stay in Ottertail, MN which included a fireplace and spa in the room – it was perfect! Then we stayed at the oldest hotel in Winnipeg for two nights – AMAZING! And another at our friend Gillian’s place – which is the cutest condo ever! From there we drove a short ways to Winkler and hung out with a couple – had lots of good conversation and laughs it was the best way to end our time in Canada! (May I also add it was Cordie’s first time to Canada – he wants to go back!)
Seriously, we had GREAT FOOD I mean SOME OF THE BEST we have ever had in all of our travels… yes it competes with Melbourne, Italy and Barcelona!
If you ever want to get away and go into the middle north – go to Winnipeg and Ill send you a short list of must haves.
Coming back to Rochester after being gone 5 nights hit me hard. I mean I was standing in church looking to see if I could find my mom and dad… skimmed over a couple sitting down in the wheel chair section… did a double take and BAM. I got angry. Mad. Wrestle with God during that worship session… pleading for him to stand up again. Be the guy I knew before this second stroke. Be the one who could hold his own. Entertain a room… moving to greet and welcome those who may feel lost or uncomfortable… oh it was hard. I was shocked. Surprised at myself.
Didn’t realize I needed to grieve ‘losing’ in a sense the dad I had. I do have him. He is alive but for some reason that day it hit me harder than ever. I wrote: “I am crying because I forgot what it was like to see Dad in a wheelchair… And I just want him to get up and walk. But I know something needed to change in their lives for something more. Greater. What it is I am not sure. I always just want understanding. Want to know why something happens. Do I need to grieve the dad from before… its not entirely possible to just forget who he was… his laugh or attributes that are different from then and now…”
I sobbed. Sat and cried. Didn’t know there was so much emotion I had been holding onto. Thankful I still had moments I could share with him now.. even if he is in a wheelchair… still cheering us on to go after our dreams, do what we want and not let his condition hold us back.
Feels like August – November came and went faster than the previous 7 months of the year… so many days are a blur of working, being with family and friends and adapting to our new life on the road mentality. Hunting for quiet and fast internet some days and others leaving the work until the next.
December. Came out of no where… there was lots of work to do. Life to get organized. We booked another little Northern Getaway Christmas Eve through the 30th… so knew we had to get as much work done and finished for the year as possible as we wanted to reflect, go skiing and relax for as much as possible.
We officially left the Cass house on the 17th.. my parents along with Bobby headed south for Christmas – my sister, Elizabeth would be flying in to celebrate Christmas with them and spend some good quality time.
As I started to pack up for the winter and get all of our stuff in a state to leave for a while it felt like we had so much junk. Even though we ‘lost’ it all… where in the world did all this random stuff come from I kept asking myself… the North Shore getaway was amazing! Perfect cabin tucked away in Tofte,MN just a few miles south of Lutsen Ski Mountain. We celebrated Christmas there – had an amazing Ham! We skied all day on the 26th in beautiful snow fall… I hadn’t skied in many many years and it’d been at least 5-6 for Cordie so we were both a little hesitant at first but had a great time in the end!
We invited the Cass Family up to have one last hooray together before Cordie and I headed out of the midwest. Was so good. Really nice that they drove all the way… the boys went riding all day while us girls went on a snow hike, had hot drinks at a cute little cafe and just hung out. They really are family to us and will be thoroughly missed.
Now the end of 2015 is just 30 hours away and there is lots of work to do… last minute errands to run… bags/storage bins to be packed… goodbyes to be had… and the excitement of what 2016 has in front of us is there. I am thankful we have each other in all of this… everything that we have done and been through together in our three years of marriage is unbelievable to me sometimes…. but we have come to the realization… that no matter what others decide to do or be we have each other. We are our family.
We are family. We will be okay the two of us… We keep saying we had a good life in Florida but it had to be taken away to get to a greater life… which we both heard from one of the golf interviews that was done and has been in a sense in anthem for our lives lately.
I hope that in 2016 I will be able to choose others over myself… be true to myself… and see the things I dream and work for to be accomplished!
I hope you are also able to choose others over yourself, forgive and forget the things others may have said or done to you… let go of the past and move forward into your own future.
Remembering people are important and the right people for you may not be the right people for someone else! Its okay to have space and go after what you want… and yes its still possible to choose others while doing so…