Unexpected Goodbyes

Adam lawtonLast weekend, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met passed away.

Adam L. worked on the experiential education team at the therapeutic boarding school where I teach.  He was in charge of taking the students to camp in the wilderness on weekends during Summer and Fall.  These trips helped them relax while surrounded by the gorgeous Utah wilderness, taught them to appreciate nature, and facilitated the students building relationships with each other that would help them through their day to day struggles as they progressed through our therapeutic program.

That was a long paragraph that tried to capture the important role that Adam played at our school.

As a teacher, and someone just generally happy to observe nature through a window or a computer monitor, I wasn’t particularly close to Adam.  He had more energy than me.  He took in more of the world than I did, and we had interests outside of work that ran in opposite directions.  But I would frequently see him around the campus, attend meetings with him, and of course, Christmas and Summer work parties.  Hell, I once spent a whole weekend with him, the weekend team, and the students in lovely and desolate Southern Utah.  It was the coldest, sorest, most challenging thing I’ve experienced since I was in a drum corp 10 years ago.

So while Adam and I weren’t fast friends, we were colleagues.

There’s something about him that just doesn’t come through on paper.  He was genuine.  He cared about EVERYTHING.  He saw the best in every situation and raised the attitude and mood of those around him because he was just so GENUINE, and had such a contagious passion for life.  I know it’s easy to worship the deceased and forget their faults, to reduce them to sound bites and selective memories.  Unless you knew him, you’ll have to take my word for it that I am being straight up about this.

In the wake of his death it’s easy to see the respect he commanded, and the love he earned from everyone around him.  Stories are shared; we laugh and we cry.  We try to carry on, because that’s the way death works.

Adam was just 30 years old.  His passing shakes the illusions that we as humans build for ourselves–that we are safe and that everything is okay.  But if we live in fear of what might happen, are we really getting all we should from life?  Here is what I take from the short time I knew Adam:

Consume life with an insatiable appetite.  Be the best person you can be.  Love those around you without reservation, and hold nothing back in the pursuit of these things.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – 14th Dalai Lama

Farewell, Adam.  Safe journey.

The New Years Post 2012

Beth and I had a really great New Year’s celebration this year.

We had sparklers, some fireworks, and made a fantastic homemade lasagna dinner.  We watched the fireworks at midnight from the parking structure near our house.  We had a perfect view, but DAMN it was cold.

One important part of our celebration was writing down the things that stood out for us each month last year, and then compiling a list of all the good things that happened and all the bad things that happened.

Let me tell you, it was TOUGH to write down all the bad things that happened.  It brings up things you don’t realize you pushed down.  For example, last year, my grandfather passed away.  That was pretty tough.  Even closer to home, my most favorite thing ever, my cat, was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia.  It was HARD.  It’s hard to write about it right now.

But that’s the way it goes, I guess.

Don’t get me wrong though, there were some awesome bits in 2011.

I finally started my own business (which is still in the starting phase–but I made the switch in thinking, which is what’s important).  I went on two trips with my wife.  I got to see my family in March (though for sad circumstances).

Anyway, where I was going with that was–on New Year’s Eve, Beth and I started a fire, and tossed our list of all the bad things in.  We sat in silence and watched it burn, turn to ash, and disintegrate.  We made our goals for 2012 and have resolved to check in once a month, during our made-up holiday, Meristem, and evaluate the goals for the past month, how we met them, and our goals going forward.


So here’s to your SHIT list in 2012 being infinitely smaller than your AWESOME list.


Drumming Again.

So it’s been awhile since I’ve played the drums.

Like… 3.5 years or so.


Here is a video of my first time playing drums in several years, completely out of practice.

Song: Who Watches the Watchmen

Artist: The Prize Fighter Inferno

Reptiles Invade School

On Monday during the second half of the school day, we were visited by someone from a reptile education program.  I forget the name of the company, but they are hired for group functions and presentations, and bring an assortment of animals to display and talk about.

The dude started the presentation by walking a tarantula around the room.  A big, hairy, nasty, leggy tarantula.  I escaped with my life, but just barely.  While I was out of the room, err, doing important work and waiting for the O.K. from my co-workers to enter the room, Mr. Reptile also apparently brought out a scorpion and at one point, put the thing in his mouth.

1. Unsanitary!


There’s a lot more reasons why that’s a bad idea, but the guy was a showman, and the kids loved it.  I got to see some crazy animals, like a tortoise, some giant lizards, a baby alligator (that hissed at all of us), and three snakes, ranging from 2 feet to about 10 feet.  Python!

Sometimes it’s stressful working in a residential treatment center, working with guys that struggle to get through the day sometimes, due to huge things like crippling depression and anxiety.  And apart from all of the great reasons to work as a special ed teacher with these kinds of guys (seeing them grow over the 8 months or so they are with us at school is A-MAZE-ING), sometimes we just get to do neat stuff.  Like get visited by reptiles in the afternoon.

New House

Street View

Outside and Overhead

Main House – Floor 1

Upstairs Bedrooms

Apartment 1

Apartment 2

Property Boundary