Tag Archives: so long freedom

From Label Whore to Polo Bore

19 Mar

YoungRyanThere was a time in my life when narcissistic sentences would erupt from my mouth like, “I don’t wait in lines.”  Or, “I don’t believe in black licorice.”  Or, “I only shop at Villains-Vault.”  While my hatred of waiting in lines during my 20’s and the taste of black licorice lead to many nights forcing my way into NYC nightclubs and not ordering Flaming Sambucas…I had to eventually stop shopping at Villains-Vault when I moved away from San Francisco.  Some of my favorite articles of clothing and accessories are from there like my handmade hoodie by Paul Frank himself, limited edition Vans, and of course my 1 of 500 white ceramic Nixon watch most people still identify me with.  I was a label whore.  I owned a black Armani suit that fit me perfectly and from that day forward I was convinced that Armani was the only label I would wear for suits…because…duh…it fits me perfectly.  Sunglasses?  Armani.  Jeans?  Armani.  Ties?  Yves Saint Laurent.  Shoes?  Vans.  Tee-Shirts?  RVCA.  Hats?  New Era fitted.  Dress shirts?  I picked out fabric and had them hand-tailored because my arms were so long and my neck and torso so skinny.  I was a 6’4″ 180 pound runway model turned actor, turned filmmaker, turned commercial producer, turned…

…turned into a 30-something father of 2 living in the Midwest with a closet full of stuff that doesn’t fit anymore and a spare tire around the waist.  Polos.  That’s whats in my closet.  Polos.  Lots of polos with logos of golf courses I’ve played like Bandon Dunes, Flint Hills National, and Royal County Down.  So many polos.  I must have over 100 polos in my closet right now.  On Friday my wife and I decided to go out on a date and I realized I barely had anything anymore that didn’t advertise a place I worked for or a place I’d been.  Friggin polos!  I’m wearing a polo right now with a logo on it!  Polos!

Young RyanI can remember sitting on the beach in Hermosa with a buddy about 10 years ago commenting on the odd things our older generation wore.  Powder blue shorts with knee-high socks!  Tie-dye.  Above-the-waist slacks.  I came to the realization that everyone hits a point in their fashion where they say, “This is it…I’m comfortable!”  From that point on they no longer buy new things, keep up with fashion trends, or evolve.  They just replace things in their closet’s inventory as needed.  It made me laugh to think that one day I’d be an old man wearing New Era hats, hoodies, Vans, chain wallets, and dark sunglasses.  Who would be the Wilford Brimley of our generation?  “Hi, this is Ryan Seacrest and I’ve got diabetes!”  Doesn’t sound right without that Wilford Brimley accent.  “Die-a-beet-iss.”

Sherpa DadThe truth is that as we get older we seek clothing that is more comfortable and stop caring so much about what we look like.  I’m married…who am I out to impress?  Seriously…nothing impressive going on here anymore.  Just a bunch of southern facing man breasts, a receding hairline, and a propensity to throw my back out if I stand up too fast.  I like to wear boot-cut jeans these days from Seven For All Mankind along with a pair of Eccos and an untucked polo.  That’s my jam.  After work I like to slide into a pair of basketball shorts and the loosest fitting tee shirt I can find that covers my crumpled paper looking stomach ripples of fat that appear when I lounge on the couch.  Kate and I call this look “fat pants.”  I rock it on the daily.

So as I stand in my closet looking for something to impress and only see labeled polos looking back at me…I find myself saying much less narcissistic things in my 30’s.  Now I say, “I think I’ll swing by Target and see if they have some polos without logos on them.  Maybe I’ll grab a bag of black licorice while I’m waiting in line to check out?”  Whoa!  Take it ease Rhino…take it ease.  The truth is I moved away from NYC, LA, and SF for a life in Wichita, KS.  Why?  Start with the first post on this site and read forward from there.  This is the 400th post and it felt appropriate to reflect back and recapture what So Long Freedom was all about in the beginning:

“So long sleeping in…

So long tennis shoes…

So long freedom.

My journey into fatherhood, corporate America, and responsibility.”

Ryan GlassesFunny that 400 posts ago in 2010 “So long tennis shoes…” was part of the plan for this ongoing article and made it into the tagline.  “Hello polos.”  (The polos say, “Hi.”)  If we still lived in NYC, LA, or SF I bet I would still be wearing RVCA shirts, New Era hats, chain wallets, Vans, and so on…and I’d look pretty funny to current day me in my slacks and polos…because people don’t dress like that here, not people my age.  Actually, most people my age here wear suits or are much less casual than I am and wish they could wear polos.  (The polos are chortling)  So maybe I have to amend my Hermosa Beach hypothesis and include geographic location into the fashion equation.  You wear what is comfortable and indigenous to your area.  For me…I guess that means polos by day and tee-shirts by night.  Maybe its time I switched things up a bit?  Maybe I should rock the short-sleeve button down shirt look?  Not the plaid “hipster” look…but the “guy in his 30’s who likes the sophistication of a button down but doesn’t like to feel sweaty so he wears short sleeves” look.  Yeah.  Maybe that’s my new jam!  Pretty sure Target carries that look.  Its time to reclaim my casual look!  I have great formal wear!  I don’t care what I look like when I’m lounging!  I need a new casual look!  (The polos are giving me the stink-eye)  Don’t make any sudden movements…the polos are getting restless and I think they might be forming an alliance with the khakis to start a rebellion.

Shhhhhhh!  Don’t make the khakis angry.

So…with my 300th post I encourage you to share this site with friends, subscribe if you haven’t already, and join me for 400 more posts:

“So long classic 20’s narcissism…

So long polo shirts…

So long…hmm…<blank>…hello future.

My journey into fatherhood, corporate America, and responsibility continues!”

1781179_10100343056144992_1695578192_o

Wearing what I want at the launch party of Harvester Arts (Co-founder)

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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec
Merry Christmas from Max, Dodge, Santa, and all of us at So Long Freedom!

Merry Christmas from Max, Dodge, Santa, and all of us at So Long Freedom!

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Best Wife Ever

7 Oct

Kate VS and Ryan GWhile So Long Freedom is about “my journey into fatherhood, corporate America, and responsibility,” my wife (Kate) is the one truly down in the trenches slugging it out every day more than I am.  Since the beginning of this project I have moved us to Wichita, KS for a job, given up freelancing for a corporate gig, become a father, taken on real responsibility in my life, been almost leveled by anxiety, and clawed my way back into life…and I’m only 34.  Ha!  I’m standing on the tip of the iceberg.  I need to toughen up.  Anyhow, throughout this journey my companion in life has agreed to move to Wichita, put her career on hold to be a full-time mom, taken on more responsibility, remained calm in the face of my anxiety, and been the everlasting rock of calm as we trudge forward.  That isn’t to say she hasn’t had her battles, struggles, anxiety, and bumps along the road as well…but she’s tackling her 30’s much better than I.  With that said, I just want to send out my love publicly to my wife Kate on a day that isn’t a holiday, her birthday, or prompted by anything other than my fascination with her sheer awesomeness.  Every day she gets up and tackles the world with calm determination and patience and somehow puts up with me…even more fascinating is she likes me.  She is proof that true love exists because there is no earthly reason why someone as amazing as her would associate herself with someone as annoying as me.  But she does.

So…Kate, on this random Monday in October for no reason other than my love you.  Thank you.  Thank you for orchestrating an amazing Sunday where you let me sleep in, made chili for football, put both kids down for their naps so I could watch the Chiefs game, and let me have a pajama day.  Days like this are greatly appreciated and I love being pampered out of the blue…just know they don’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.  Remember, I am here to support you too in your endeavors which we are about to embark on.  I’m glad I get to be on your team and grateful I have you on mine.  Thanks for being my true love, best friend, confidant, safety blanket, and number one fan.  You are the best person I know and I hope as we grow old together I learn to be more like you.  Your teammate in everything,

-Ryan

Kate and Dodge in Stripes

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Letter To My Boys

26 Aug

Before my boys were born I wrote them letters in hopes that someday when they were older they could read them and maybe understand their dad a little better.  Now, Max is 2 years old and Dodge will be 6 months in less than a week.  Today is another letter for them to read when they are older:

Dear Max & Dodge,

wpid-IMG_0640.jpgThese are frustrating and rewarding times in my life as well as your mother’s.  This past week we moved you (Max) into your “big boy” room which you seem both excited and scared of.  We moved you (Dodge) into the nursery, and while you sleep better when not disturbed you are clearly having some separation anxiety when you wake…and you wake often as you are teething.  The fall semester of school started last week and your mother has resumed teaching which means Thursday nights are “guys night!”  Right now that means managing chaos and getting you two to bed…but I see the forest through the trees and know one day we’ll be renting movies together, going to events, and eating unhealthy food and not telling Mom.  Seriously…don’t tell Mom.  We wouldn’t be in trouble for eating greasy food…just in trouble if we didn’t save some for her.  She doesn’t like to feel like she’s missed out on something.  Nobody does.

20130825_173204Dodge, I’ve felt like I was missing out on your baby days the same way I felt when Max was a baby.  You are so attached to Mom right now (as you should be) since she is your food source, source of comfort, etc.  I’m just the goofy guy in the background who holds you from time to time.  Then…last night happened.  Max, you’ve been feeling jealous of Dodge because he has gotten almost all of Mom’s attention.  Dodge is a baby and needs Mom’s attention and you are a toddler who doesn’t understand why you are not getting attention.  It is rough to see you want to spend time with her and not be able to…I know I’m not Mama, but because of the new sleeping arrangements you and I have been having awesome bedtime tuck-tucks once you accept that I’m the one who’s going to read the books.  Sometimes when Mom can read the books you won’t go to bed till I come up and kiss you goodnight…you have no idea how much this request from you and the gesture itself means to me.  It makes me feel included.  Last night you (Max) were exhausted from swimming in the pool and were melting down.  I told Mom, “Go ahead, I’ll take Dodge till he needs you.”  So you got your wish…Mom read the books.  Dodge, you started fussing almost immediately.  No joke, you have started crying immediately when you see me because you know you are going to be away from Mommy.  I came over to comfort you and you starting wailing…I mean wailing!  It broke my heart.  It broke my heart to know I couldn’t comfort you, that I couldn’t help Mom more, and that Max wouldn’t get the time with Mommy he seemed so desperately to need.  Then it happened…I sang to you just like I used to when you were still in Mommy’s tummy.

Sherpa-Dad

At first, you (Dodge) didn’t know what to think of my singing.  In the past it had pissed you off…one more sign you were not getting Mommy right away.  I added in some rocking and started doing laps around the house slowly.  Family room, back hallway, kitchen, dining room, front hallway, family room…repeat.  Your little eyes moved back and forth with concern and curiosity till you stopped looking at where we were going and started listening to the sound of my voice.  You see, Dada live by a simple mantra nowadays.  Focusing on the past is depression, the future is fantasy (anxiety)…so all we can do is focus on what is happening right now in the present.  You focused on me…right there in that moment and I was focusing on you.  You know what you did?  You fell asleep right there in my arms.  Something you have not done in months.  It has been Mom’s privilege to experience that recently and I forgot how amazing it is.  You gave me a moment to hang onto in my brain and remember forever.  You were perfect.  Mom came downstairs and was in shock to see you asleep in my arms.  You don’t go to bed easily so you were either exhausted or I still have the baby-whisperer magic touch.  Maybe both.  Either way, I carefully handed you off to Mom for your bedtime feeding and you fell right back to sleep.

20130820_231701As I handed you off, Dodge, I heard your brother Max calling me from his new room.  I came in and found you (Max) sitting up in bed waiting for me like a prairie dog.  I crawled in next to you and asked, “Did you hear what Dada was doing?”  You nodded and replied, “Singing.”  I smiled and said, “That’s right, do you know who I was singing to?”  You proudly answered, “Dodge.”  You hugged me tight…you held me longer than usual so I whispered in your ear, “Do you want me to sing to you?”  The smile on your face grew rapidly and you placed a request, “Could you sing Chocolate Jesus.”  You’ve been a sucker for Tom Waits since you were teeny tiny…its your favorite.  I happily obliged.  You rolled over, hugged your stuffed rabbit “Muffin,” and I sang while gently rubbing your back, brushing your hair away from your face, and kissing your cheeks.  You know what you did?  You fell asleep in my arms.  Right there…in my arms…just like you used to when you were a baby like Dodge.  You are a very affectionate little dude but usually you’re moving too fast to get a real hug or a snuggle.  Your mom and I think you might be a shark because sharks will die if they stop moving…but you are not a shark.  You’re my baby boy.

20130824_164723Max, in the two and a half years I have known you…you have opened my heart in ways I had no idea was possible.  You have frustrated me to the brink of my sanity and represent the redefining element of my adult life.  You have caused me to take pause and ponder things…you’ve opened understandings to my father, my mother, and what formed them into the people (and parents) I know them as.  Dodge, in the 6 months I have known you…you have opened my heart further and tested my frustration even more.  I can’t wait to find out what you’ll be like as you get older.  You, Dodge, have caused me to take pause and ponder things as well.  You’ve provided clarity into myself, my relationship with the world, and my relationship to those around me.  You are the youngest of two…just like me, and there is so much I understand now.  Max, you are my first-born and will forever test the waters for Dodge…who will always be vying for your attention and will constantly compete to better you.  You both will constantly yen for my attention, your mother’s, and of course…our love.  I have learned that it is impossible to love your children equally…rather, I love you differently.  Parents say they love their kids equally because they don’t have a favorite and because if you don’t say “equally,” it implies you love one less.  It’s the polite thing to say.  I don’t love one of you less or more…I just love you differently because you are two different people who will forever be part of my life.

Sherpa DadThere are many more of these letters to come and perhaps these are better things for me to leave publicly behind on the internet than my other ramblings as a parent…which you will be able to read some day.  Hopefully what you’ll garner from all this is simple:  Dad loves you very much.  That’s the moral to the story kids.  I’m not perfect, I make mistakes every day, and I’m still growing up too.  We grow till the day we die.  I’m not the same person I was when I started this project called “So Long Freedom” and I won’t be the same person I am today when you read this later in life.  In my life, I have found that the things that are awesome are more awesome when you have someone to share it with.  I thought that was Mom…Kate.  Mom is my best friend, but I have come to realize I want to experience all the awesomeness with you two as well.  We are all on a team.  Someday you’ll hate the things I say, you’ll fear for your life when I drive a car, and you’ll mock your mother and I behind our backs.  I know…because that’s the evolution of things.  However, as your parent I am still somebody else’s kid…and no matter how old I am I will always be their kid and you will always be mine.  Its comforting to know someone’s got my and Mommy’s backs…just like we’ve got yours.  Whatever age you are when you read this…close your eyes.  Listen with your memory.  I’m still singing you to sleep.

I love you both…differently.  Always and forever and as big as you can imagine,

-Dad

2013-08-26 12.14.01

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Vacation With Children

2 Aug

“Vacation With Children.”  I think that is an oxymoron.

Dodge and DadaIt has been over a month since my last post, and to my constant readers I apologize for the gap.  We took the family on vacation…a long vacation.  For my new readers, please mind the gap.  I had intended to write while away, but when faced with the option of either writing a post or spending time with my family on vacation I chose family.  In June we were preparing to travel with a two-year-old (Max) and a four-month-old (Dodge) for a multi-destination trip that included a road trip, a water park, family in Iowa, a wedding, 4 flights, and 3 magical weeks boating and swimming on Lake George in the Adirondacks of New York.  Normally this would be a tough one to pack for but then I thought, “Wait…we have kids…we’re not going out anywhere.”  So I packed a nice suit for the wedding, some tee shirts, a swimsuit, and flip-flops.  Turns out I still managed to over pack.

Max runs to DadaThe 8 hour drive to Kate’s hometown in Iowa was a breeze as we split it up by stopping off at a little hotel with an indoor water park in St. Joseph, MO.  This split the trip in half, allowed us to leave the night of July 2nd, and gave Max an activity that wore him out in the morning.  I don’t deny it…I had a blast going down the slides and splashing in the water as well.  We rolled into town on July 3rd, changed from pants to shorts, and did not leave the back porch till Saturday, July 6th.  The entire time was spent catching up with my bothers and sisters (in-law) as well as Kate’s family, all of whom…I adore!  Beers were tipped, stories were told, and stories were made.  Max played with all his cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and anyone else who could withstand his running tackle.  Dodge was happily passed around like an hors d’oeuvre at a fancy dinner party.  Life was good.

Max is ready for the weddingSaturday we made the short drive across state to the wedding where Kate’s cousin Laura got married at Iowa State and the partying continued/grew.  Old friends were embraced, games were played, speeches were made, and Max danced till Midnight when he was drenched in sweat and falling over tired.  Dodge is a baby and wherever we are is where he wants to be.  We are home.  So he got passed around till he was sleepy and then went to bed in his car seat at the back of the ballroom where it was quieter.  Suffering from anxiety (as I do) it took some work to get my mind of the fear of flying the next day and to focus on the fun at hand.  Once I did (with a little help from Jack Daniels) I was ready to roll.

Van Steenhuyse Photo Booth

Flying with kids sucks.  It just does.  At the Des Moines airport I entered looking more like a Sherpa than a parent.

  • 2 suitcases
  • 1 backpack
  • 1 oversized beach bag
  • 1 stroller
  • 1 car seat
  • 1 stuffed animal named “Muffin”
  • 1 toddler
  • 1 baby

Sherpa Dad…and a long night ahead of us including 2 flights and a long drive.  Kate and I have mastered going through security efficiently with kids and let me tell you…planning in advance what you will do makes a world of difference.  Shoes, computers, metal objects, and bottles of milk come out and go in the trays.  Phones, wallets, accessories, etc. have all already been placed in the bag before entering the security line.  The car seat and stroller are the first to go through the machine so you have a place to put the baby down on the other side.  Next comes shoes and accessories so anything that needs to be inspected can be while still waiting for the rest of your stuff to come through.  Kate takes Dodge and Max stays with me.  Next comes the computers and iPads so they are sandwiched between your items and are not picked up accidentally by another traveler frustrated by the amount of crap you have.  Last is the backpack.  I send Max through to Kate who already has Dodge back in the car seat.  I go through and my first task is unfolding the stroller and snapping the car seat into it so one child is fully contained.  Kate sits with Max and I hand her stuff to her so they can stay in one spot while I organize.  Shoes are slip ons…slip ons are crucial to traveling with kids on planes.  I gather up the iPads and computers which go back into the backpack at the same time we have put our shoes on and BAM!  We are through security (and faster than some single travelers in the other lines).  Plans are great!  Then we just have to find a spot where we can set Max free so he can burn off as much energy as possible before the flight.  Here we go!

Pre-boarding is a doubled-edged sword.  On one hand you get to take your time to settle you and your kids into your seats.  On the other hand…you are then stuck in a sweat-tube for 15 minutes with a toddler that wants to know when the plane will take off.  Are we there yet?  No.

Gates Family FliesEngines roar, flaps go up, wheels tuck inside, and Iowa disappears beneath the clouds as Dodge happily nurses and Max sits glued to the window.  My anxiety isn’t too bad so I decide not to take the Lorazepam I have with me just in case and sit back and relax.  Then it hits me…a simple thought that changes everything in how I perceive the next three weeks.  “I get to spend time with my boys.”  Now I know that doesn’t sound profound but up until that point I was stressing about traveling, if Max would sleep in a different bed, how I would handle my anxiety away from home for a month, etc.  My mind stopped worrying and started looking forward to all the things that could happen…fun things.  Boating, swimming, hiking, cuddles, sleeping in…  That was right about the time Dodge started screaming at the top of the lungs (on a 12 row airplane) and didn’t stop till an hour later when we were on the ground.  It turned out Kate and I (well…I) were more upset than our fellow travelers who were almost all parents and had been through it with their kids.  Dodge had never screamed like this before so it gave us a good scare.

Flying With KidsIn the Detroit airport the look of exhaustion and defeat must have been written all over my face as I kept getting the stink-eye from everyone we passed in the terminal.  “One short flight to go, one short flight to go, one short flight to go…” I kept telling myself over and over again in my head.  Then…they started canceling all the flights.  All of them.  Some super storm was pounding New York state and it was almost 11 o’clock at night.  I ran to our gate and spoke to the pilot…no…pleaded with him to take a shot at getting us to Albany.  He said there was a window of opportunity and he felt we should be fine.  It was a small window.  As the little plane climbed through the clouds lightning crashed all around us and jostled the plane heavily.  Max asked if it was fireworks and I told it was, but it was past his bedtime and he needed to go to sleep.  He laid his head on my lap, I nervously looked out the window, and Dodge slept happily having tuckered himself out from the previous flight and receivied a dose of infant acetaminophen.  When the plane touched down in Albany I mustered the strength for the hour-long drive up to the lake house and it breezed by in what seemed like minutes.  We made it.

Gates Family SwimFor 3 weeks the weather was perfect…I think it rained twice and I swam every day.  The lake was 82 degrees at its warmest and 76 at its coldest.  Max was amazing, Jake (my 8-year-old nephew) has become a man-child, and Dodge…Dodge didn’t transition well.  Dodge slept the first two nights from exhaustion of flying and then on the third night he screamed from 7 PM – 1 AM.  SCREAMED!  Then passed out.  He repeated this for three more nights and I learned a valuable lesson:  Don’t vent on Facebook.   When a kid screams (and they will), the best thing you can do is put them down and go scream into a pillow, hit a wall, take a break, or do whatever you need to do to calm down.  I vented on Facebook and just let the hateful words I had for my son at that moment in time spill from my brain, to my fingers, to my social network.  The fallout the next day was not worth it.  While I agree that publicly posting my feelings (which were abrasive to say the least) was not the best judgement, I was upset by the reaction and words that some “friends” had for me including people legitimately fearing for my son’s life.  Many friends asked what they could do to help or offered wisdom from their experience (which I appreciated).  Others, whom I have not spoken to in years, were judgmental and condescending.  Some friends who don’t have kids (or serious relationships) chimed in with judgement which I always find absurd…how can you judge what you do not understand or have not experienced?  It was at this moment I asked myself if I wanted to keep writing So Long Freedom, if I wanted to remain friends with certain people, and if it was a good time to deactivate my Facebook account.  I realized what people perceive of me online and who I am in real life are two different things.  So I decided a vacation from writing and reading was in order.  I took my month away from writing, I blocked certain people from seeing certain posts from me on Facebook, and removed people from my circle of social media friends I did not feel I needed to stay connected with.

Max BoatingMy time at the lake house in Bolton Landing was exactly what I wanted it to be and the opposite of what it had been the previous year.  It was relaxing and I felt like I fully recharged my batteries.  Max and I swam, Dodge played in my lap, Kate and I cuddled, my nephew and I bonded, I got good work done as well, read a few books, and I just turned off my brain for a while.  It was the best summer vacation of my life.  There are too many stories to tell right now but I will try to tell them as I can over the next few weeks…or they may just be mine to know.  All and all, I left Lake George feeling like a new man, excited to get home to Wichita and start tackling life with my new mindset and recharged batteries.

“Vacation With Children.”  Maybe that is not an oxymoron?

Max Headphones PlaneThe flights home were easy and without incident.  Our day started at 3 AM to get dressed and drive to Albany for an early morning flight.  Max asked me questions about the planes and I answered, Dodge slept, and when Kate and I could keep our eyes open no longer I slapped headphones on Max and zoned him out with Sponge Bob and Dinosaur Train.  Last year I had looked to my vacation to heal my anxiety (which it did not) and when I left I felt I was being torn apart.  This time, I was ready to go home.  We arrived home shortly after lunch on Sunday, July 28th and Dodge rolled over and crawled for the first time to welcome us home!  In the month we were away Max learned everything he could from his nephew and is full of phrases I’ve never heard and is more active than ever.  Dodge went from a smiley baby to a boy and all of a sudden can hold things, roll over, and is starting to crawl.  I can’t speak for Kate’s evolution as it is her tale to tell but for me, I felt like I came to terms with my anxiety more and better accepted the role I have to play with my family.  Much like that revelation on our first flight out of Iowa, everything suddenly seemed so simple.  “I get to be Max and Dodge’s Dad…I get to be Kate’s husband…I get to have this life I have.

Life is a gift.  All it took was a panic attack, years of therapy, two kids, a patient wife, an amazing family, a 34th birthday, and a relaxing vacation to realize it!

Looking North On Lake George

Looking north on Lake George towards “The Narrows” at sunset.

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