This week was filled with some really cool ironies.. I’ll start with Board meeting for the Road Home. If I haven’t mentioned it, I was asked to serve on the Board of trustees for the Road Home.. it’s the homeless shelter here in Salt lake City that serve men, Women and families to overcome homelessness. What a great and overwhelming blessing this is.. I sit in a room filled with CEO’s, Presidents, Directors and “High-ups” for many the major corporations and companies in the area. All coming together to help create change in our homeless population. During this months meeting, we learned that FINALLY, after I don’t know in how long.. probably never, the homeless numbers are declining in SLC. All due to the hard work and dedication of the Road Home staff. The community leaders on the board all work closely with Matt Minkevitch and his amazing staff. Matt is the executive director of the shelter, and as he put it, “we’ve finally started to turn the corner and go the other way”. This is huge news. All due to a program he initiated years ago, to change the idea of simply just providing a place to sleep, but providing programs to try to stop the cycle of homelessness. We do this with not just transitional housing, but training for new jobs and careers, resume building, counseling for clients that need to break out of abusive/addictive lifestyles, providing permanent housing options.. along with a series of new federal programs for change. The road Home has become a model for the nation that Matt is constantly asked to help other states adopt and learn from.

Anyway, this last meeting, we reviewed the financials and discussed the success of one of our recent fundraising events. As we started to move on to other business, one of the board members raised her hand and told the story of one of the people sitting at her table for this fundraiser. She told us how this year her goal was to invite a new group of people from her office to come and join her at the breakfast for the shelter. During the presentation, the woman leaned over to the board member and told thanks for the opportunity to be there. She then went on to tell about her own story of homelessness.. this local business executive told the story of how she was homeless for 18 months, with three small children.. no husband and no money. Because of her experience in the shelter, she turn her life around and has been a successful business exec for years. Her story isn’t known by her co-workers, and probably never will be. What touched me the most, was that she conveyed her gratitude to our board member for inviting her, because she “has been looking for a reason to give back, and help someone in need”.. apparently she made a substantial donating, but couldn’t stop thanking her co-working for “giving her the chance to help”.  No one on the board had a dry eye that morning. I used to joke about my involvement with the Road Home in the past.. you know, paying it forward, homeless Karma.. I don’t joke anymore.

I feel so blessed to be a part of this incredible movement for change..

 

One the job front?!? I finally got to have some face time with a potential job opportunity. It went well, more on this next week.. maybe. The TV thing in park City is a blast. I really like the performance of TV. Even if it’s a small cable access station.. people seem to like it. I hope I figure out a way to continue performing.. either on the radio or TV in the future. If this job mentioned earlier happens, it will probably be a desk job… hmmm.. I’ll make it work.

This weekend Lelani and I drove to St. George to attend a farewell for one of my cousins that will be leaving on an LDS mission soon. The drive was nice and warm. St. George is a completely different climate than Salt lake. Arid and very much a desert, the red rocks and sandstone are a familiar place for both of us. Both of us have relatives in this small Southern Utah town.. so in a way, it’s like coming home. In fact, our grandparents went to high school together.. a fact we put together after we got married. When we pulled into St. George, we “had” to go to one of our favorite places… the Red Cliffs above the city..

Red Cliffs above St. George

 

We come here to this place every time we make the trip to St. George. From here you can see the whole city. We have sat on these very rocks, as we did this time and recounted the last few times we were in town and for what purpose. Thankfully this time it wasn’t for a funeral… just a farewell. We decided to hike around the hills and spend some time together. Hiking the hills always reminds me of my grandfather. He grew up here as a boy, and now in later life.. continues to hike these hills as often as he can. I reflected on the many times we would hike these hills and talk. My grandfather is now 93 and blind, but still love the Red Cliffs.

Later that night we went to a family get together and I had the chance to chat with my grandfather. I told him about the hike we took and of the lizards we saw, the coyote poo, the cougar tracks and the incredible flowers that were in bloom. He said quietly “I love that place.. one of my favorites” I told him that I always think of him when I go there and remember our hikes when I was a kid. He looked in my directions, grabbed my hand and said.. “thanks Dain”. His tired, weathered face is wrinkled now. His eyes don’t work anymore, his wit and memory are both sharp.. and I can’t believe how quickly it seems that he got to this place of being a little broken down. I love this guy. He’s amazing and still loves to go for long hikes despite his vision challenges. He has always been and will always be one of my personal heroes..

Desert in bloom

 

My Grandpa Atkin... Ironman!

 

My mom made the trip up from Arizona too.. being this close to family is something I have really missed living in Texas for the past 5 years. One of the other highlights of the trip to Southern Utah was to see cousins and aunts & uncles.

The Atkins are a close tribe, and I’m damn glad to be a part of them. Seeing them again is so cool.. it’s always as if we all just live down the street from each other. I do have to give a super LOUD SHOUT OUT to JAMI…

Jami has been a special friend for many years. Recently she has had a bit of a rough personal road, but weathering the emotional storm like a true “Atkin” would. Jami.. you are awesome, love you.. and I was just kidding about that “kissing cousin” thing… kind of.

My uncle Dale has always been like an older brother. Chris his wife has really had to put up with a ton of “stuff” from both of us over the years.. mainly Dale. As we were standing there reliving some of our crazy adventures over the years, he brought a time when we talked Chris into driving us up and down the main drag so we could throw water balloons at some of the girls dragging main. This was Summer after my high school graduation.. I spent the Summer selling pianos in my uncles music store and chasing girls.. er.. throwing water balloons at them. Anyway, as he started down memory lane, Lelani stopped him and said, “haven’t you told him?” Way back in the Summer ’81.. Lelani and her sister were sitting in her grandmother’s front yard, when these guys came by in a little pick-up and threw water balloons at them.  Yeah.. it was us.  I actually threw water balloons at my future wife.. 30 years ago. And we NEVER met!! I was such a dork.. and alone all that Summer. What was I thinking…. DUH!?

Ironical?!?

Another thing that happened this weekend… during the church meeting. My Mom leaned over and said, do you remember that guy sitting up there on the stand? I shook my head and said no.. she told me that he was the doctor that diagnosed me with the pseudo tumor cerebri.. woow.. that happened my senior year of high school, during a visit to see the grandparents for Christmas.. the year was 1981. I was so sick. I spend most of the next couple of days in the ICU, heart rate dropping for no apparent reason, and getting weaker and weaker.

Now, the irony hit me like as ton of bricks. Here I was watching my cousin talk about her mission call, standing not 5 feet from a guy who may have saved my life 30 years ago.. That night in the hospital, the night I was told “I might not make it”.. I spent the night praying like never before. “please don’t let me die” I repeated.. I also made the lord a promise that night.. You see I really wasn’t thrilled about a mission. I had bigger plans, but this illness seemed to be changing all that.. the promise was simple. I prayed that if I lived and recovered from this.. what ever it was, that would serve an honorable mission to preach the gospel.

I was told that playing drums was probably not going to happen again because of the damage that probably happened due to the fake tumor.. I had lost most of my coordination due to nerve damage.

Faith is a cool thing.. I not only did I recover from that brain thing.. but I won “outstanding drummer” in the state later that year, and had the coordination that Summer to “bean” my future wife with a water balloon.. All this was going through my head during the meeting.

It’s so amazing how so many seemingly small things (at the time) have happened to me.. later changing my life forever. This weekend brought a lot of stuff back for me. Family, faith, admiration, paths crossing & uniting, reflection and the obvious process of life that really does speed up.

It’s funny how a smell, a hike, a hug, a song, a word, a story, an old friend can bring the past flooding back like a wave of familiar cool water on a hot Summer day…

Today I am definitely rich.. and blessed. Yes, with amazing genes from an amazing group of people…

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