How I Met Your Father

Me running the steps at Red Rocks

Me running the steps at Red Rocks

I am building my new life in Denver–meeting new people, developing great friendships, challenging myself professionally, pushing myself physically (thank you Red Rocks) and becoming a slight beer snob. Once you’ve tasted whiskey barrel-aged beer, you will never go back!  I love my life here, but leaving my roots and growing my wings is not easy. The hardest part of moving to a new city, more than 1000 miles away from “home,” is building a new social life, but it is also one of the most exciting things about a new city!

I see groups of friends every sunny summer day in Cheesman Park. They bring their picnic blankets, frisbees, coolers and dogs and hang out seemingly all day. I am in awe of the thousands of people in the park – all in their own little circles having a great time. It is neat to see friendships exhibited in such a public, eventful way.You can see the memories being made.

Me and my friend Adam and his dog, Denali, hiking in Chessman Canyon.

Me, my friend Adam and his dog, Denali, taking a break on a hike in Chessman Canyon

I have never been one of those people with tons of friends. Instead, I have quality people in my life who make me strive to be better in one way or another. They call me on my bluff (in a loving way) when I need it, challenge me intellectually, spiritually or personally, and know when to pass me a bottle of wine rather than a glass. Oh, and they are fun!!  My friends are scattered from different chapters of my life – from my equestrian days to high school days to early college years to the beginning of my professional life to the present.

The past six months in Denver have introduced to me amazing people who have created new sparks in my life and helped me to remain shining, even when some days were pretty dark. We have hiked, laughed, drank some brews, walked the city, had close to all-nighters working on deadlines, and shared wonderful meals together. These people play an important role in my life are helping to create my version of “how I met your father.” So far the story line is shaping up beautifully.

Tahne, me and Reno

Me, my friend Tahne and Reno on the Chessman Canyon hike

My Dad

One of my best friends asked what my favorite memory was of my dad. I couldn’t think of just one.  He gave me so many and so much more than memories—he significantly shaped who I am today. From my favorite sports team, to my pride, and to my love. He also gave me his patience, which is slim to none, and the ability to cry during every pre-dinner prayer.

Dad and me

There are those memories that stand out though, from small moments to large experiences.

I remember my dad, me and my brother in the barn, we must have just got done helping mom feed the horses, and he was giving us pointers on how to protect ourselves. I must have been seven or eight. Telling us to punch with our wrists straight and go for soft spots on people. There were the games of “HORSE and PIG” the three of us would play, because there was no concrete surrounding our lone basketball hoop on the side of shed to play a real game of basketball. Dad won most of those games, Erik some, and me probably none. The laughs and jokes we shared during these moments will last forever.

I remember the excitement of watching the Saints with him. There was more than football during these moments. These were experiences that bonded my dad and I. We would cheer and cuss together and share dad’s homemade guacamole dip. When the Saints kicked that field goal to go to the Super Bowl we called each other and cried together.

There were countless good times with my dad.

  • The parties we would have when dad came back from a trip across the Atlantic—the grill, the music, the land, friends and family, all coming together to have a toast to dad and his crew for making it back safe.
  • Driving the golf cart when I tagged along to go golfing with him and his buddies.
  • Busting our buts down bust you but falls in North Carolina.
  • Dad standing on the sideline during my horse shows.
  • Driving dad to and from Ft. Desoto when he had pilotage jobs – I was so proud of him in those moments. He was sought out by the coast guard to get on another man’s ship and pilot them into the Tampa Bay…..He was the Captain among Captains.
  • His stops in Tallahassee on his way from Tampa to Orange Beach or vice versa.
  • The times when I asked him a history question and he responded with a full answer—he was a man of books, always striving to learn more.

He had an infectious smile and warm hug, a favorite among my friends. Even making an appearance in his whitie tighties once or twice on his way to make coffee in the morning when my girlfriends would spend the night. That was always a conversation piece.

I am so proud to call Captain Mark Anderson my dad. He lived an extraordinary life: a resilient child, world traveler, excelling to the top of his profession, and always being a father to the children he loved so much.  He shaped me by not only his strengths but weaknesses. Love is not perfect because people are not perfect, but I know my dad’s love was deep, true and powerful, just as he was.

All is well

“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.”

Getting Lost

The most memorable moment of my weekend was getting lost on my hike. I missed a switchback and ended up bouldering a little and hiking up a few steep spots. Once I realized I had definitely gone off the trail and let a minor panic moment subside, I just let that moment be. I found some rocks, well boulders, up on a cliff and sat down to enjoy the freeing feelings of being lost in god’s country. Listening to wind, taking in the colors and watching birds fly through the backdrop of the Rockies made me so happy!! All I could do was smile. It was one of the best moments in my life. Life’s camouflage was gone and I saw so clearly for the first time in a long time how far I have come. #Cultivatesparkle

Living My Dream

A dream is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.
Denis Waitley

My move to Denver is more than a geographic change — it is a personal and professional one.  I have wonderful, inspiring and supportive friends, colleagues and family in Florida — and they shinned so bright as I was departing from Tallahassee.

My mom and me in Dillon, CO. She helped me moved and was so supportive.

My mom and me in Dillon, CO. She helped me move and was so supportive.

A part of me is homesick, feeling a little exposed and raw in this new, vibrant city. My people, my comfort, are not here….but I knew this going into it, and am taking these growing pains in stride. I am putting one foot in front of the other and establishing my life here. Moving to a big city, building my brand and living on my own as a young professional with a bright future — that is living my dream.

Living my dream doesn’t mean I have arrived at heart of it yet, but rather is the daily acts of taking the steps to get there. I am not yet Helen Hunt’s character from What Women Want (only my love interest will not be with someone like Mel Gibson) — but moving, literally, outside of my comfort zone and walking toward my dream IS living it.

Earlier in 2012, I blogged about creating something and building a life that doesn’t involve two weeks of vacation to escape from “reality.” I am making a life built on experiences and personal and professional growth. This year I am walking the walk and embracing the unknown and unexpected — as we all know those are always the brightest, most powerful sparks.

Losing Sight of the Shore

“You can never cross the ocean without losing sight of the shore.”  – Christopher Columbus 

I am pulling up anchor and leaving much of the comforts and familiarities I have come to know in Tallahassee and the South. Countless sparks have been ignited in Florida: irreplaceable friends, memories and life lessons. I leave this place with smile, knowing that I would not trade the sparks experienced here for any others. My love for the South runs deep and I will always find comfort in Spanish moss, oak trees, swamp land, and the Gulf. I am turning the chapter and trading the moss for snowflakes, oaks for aspens and mud for mountains.

Spanish Moss

Aspens

I expect the next chapter in Colorado to shape me exponentially. I will meet new people who will become staples in my life like my people in Tallahassee. New memories will be cultivated, creating stories I will tell my grand kids one day. Colorado left me with a powerful spark four years ago after my short stint there in 2008. I look forward to countless more the state and its wonders have to ignite.  I don’t expect this is be all grand excitement. I expect growing pains and probably a few tears. I expect that changing my path from a familiar one to one less traveled will leave me a little dirty and a little beat up…..BUT I will become stronger and the scenery will be beautiful!

Hiking to Chasm Lake – 2010

Handwriting

Today I received a hand written letter from my dad. My roommate checked the mail before I got home and when I got home I saw my dad’s handwriting sitting on the dining room table. My eyes lit up – I couldn’t wait to read it. My dad and I have struggled to have a real conversation for a long time. We have not actually talked in years. Words have been spoken, but never communicated. I miss him, and I knew in that letter would be words from dad, true words.

Since I can remember, my dad would write me letters on my birthday, most of the time from sea. The letters had titles like “In the middle of the Gulf” and “Somewhere in the Atlantic.” He was a tug boat captain when I was growing up, so often times he was at sea on my birthdays. We always celebrated when he got back though, usually with a trip to Outback Steak House indulging in a Sinful Sundae.

Reading the letter today with the title “26 days” brought back fond memories and was the start of us reconnecting again. May dad has shaped my life countless ways and has left many sparks burning brightly, and so many more to come.