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A writting assignment, roller derby & my inspirational father

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On June 9th (a few days after my very first roller derby bout) I got an invitation to write an essay for my favorite blog - Art House America. About a week later, I boarded a plane in our little New Zealand town and flew (without any children) to Auckland and then Los Angeles - where I met my sister and her daughter. Together we flew to Columbus, Ohio where we shocked the socks off both of my parents. It was beautiful.
After everyone regained composure, we got in the car and drove to Marysville, Ohio (the town where my father grew up). In January my ninety-nine year old trail-blazing grandmother passed away. There was a memorial service, but her ashes were to be buried at a later date. After the interment service in Marysville and a driving tour of my fathers old stomping grounds - we drove to my cousins wedding in another beautiful small Ohio town.

I hate to miss a good party and this series of family events seemed like the ideal party to crash. Ben was able to take time off and we found a nanny that could help with the kids on the days that he was working. It was a big sacrifice for everyone, but I had a sense that it would be a really special trip. 

It was.
The day after my cousins wedding my sister and I hopped in the back seat of my parents car and we took a ten hour road trip... like we did so many times growing up. We ate bad food, listened to good music and smiled as Garrison Keillor told stories from Lake Wobegon. After a long drive, we got back to my parents house and spend the next several days together relaxing and enjoying each others company. I got the initial inspiration for my Art House America essay sitting on my parents dock with my dad.

On July fifth I returned to New Zealand. On August first I submitted my Art House America essay The Unexpected Joy of Roller Derby. On August twelfth we found out that my dad had an aggressive form of brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme).

This is the first paragraph of my essay - In my thirty-four years of life, I have spent a good deal of energy planning, managing and orchestrating the details of my days. I have worked hard to ensure likely outcomes, strategically planned for the best and worst case scenarios, studied the habits of highly effective people and self-helped my way through many a season. But in the past year, my joy has come largely in the ability to embrace life's surprises. You can read the rest of the essay here.

Right now I feel like swallowing up all my positive and encouraging words about "embracing life's surprises" and "
receiving the unknown with courage and grace" - but my dad keeps pointing me in the right direction and reminding me that God is good and we are blessed - even in light of this tragic diagnosis.  

Here is a guy who knows a lot about planning, managing and orchestrating the details of his days. He spent many years as a strategic planner in the oil industry and one of his greatest career (and parental) successes was his ability to walk into chaos and bring structure. My dad is also a big fan of adventure. Throughout my life I have watched him embrace life’s surprises and even now, in the face of cancer, he is chasing the “hot pink narrative thread”.

This one’s for you dad. Thanks for teaching me how to make wise plans, when to take bold risks, how to be mentally tough... and most importantly - when to let go of control and enjoy the ride. Your derby daughter loves you very much!

You can read the rest of The UnexpectedJoy of Roller Derby on the Art House America Blog.


  1. Praying for your father, your family and you as you grow through this challenge.... Beautiful piece, beautiful tribute to your dad and his great wisdom... making me cry, but he is so right that God is good ALL the time. Thank you for sharing this (very difficult) part of your journey with us.

    1. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement Carole.