in Thoughts

I love living on the beach.

I’m one to not get out of the house much unless there’s something I can walk to and it’s right out the door. Working from home and not “having” to leave can do that to you…

2015-06-16 19.27.51I love waking up early in the morning for the sunrise (at least if you’re on the east coast) and coffee.  Starting the day with coffee and the sunrise always puts you in a great mood.

And when you can do it morning after morning… It doesn’t get any better than that.

It’s the “dream”

Most people wait to retire in a condo on the beach.  But we’re able to do this while we’re young (and without kids). Crazy. If life is this good so far the sky is the limit. It can only get better.

It’s good. It’s easy. What more is there?


Although we moved to the beach to get away from Minnesota it’s a great place to go to in the summer. Beautiful weather, completely beautiful scenery, and amazing friends and family.

But 10 -14 days is enough time.

And a drive through the mountains through the Carolinas is never something to complain about on the way back.

Everyone loves coming home after a long trip.

Your bed.
Your couch.
Your coffee mug.

Home means the habits of comfort and routines that make you feel safe. Even getting back to work sounds good, if it’s at your own desk and with your normal schedule.



A friend had been checking on some plants at our house while we were gone and mentioned there was some water on the floor when she was there that she cleaned up.

I didn’t think much of it.

We had a moist spot on the floor in the kitchen all summer, which someone told us was condensation from the AC unit below. So I wasn’t worried about it.

Katherine was a little worried… So when we were just 5 minutes out she asked if I was concerned.

“No I’m sure it’s fine”

Pulled up the car. Got out a couple of bags. Grabbed a cart so we could pile up all the crap in the car and make it up the elevator… to make it home.

It always smelled a little bit like ocean water and chlorine mixed together in the lobby. A smell you’ll always find in buildings near the ocean.

Up the elevator. Out the door and to the left.

Down to the end with 601 on the door. Slightly rusted on the edges because… That’s what stuff does at the beach.


Something is wrong.

The smell is what you notice first. A rank smell that’s literally unmistakable. Mold. You’ve smelt it before at some level of intensity but probably not from a space completely covered. The floor, the walls, the furniture, the books, the pictures… mold

You’ve been violated.



We all have “stuff”. The kitchen table, the books you bought on that trip you don’t want to forget, the picture that your parents’ friend painted, the box of electronics that all the junk seems to fall into, the 29 t-shirts, and 6 pairs of boots.

The list goes on right?
I like my stuff. Because you never know when you might need it. I’ve kept that shirt because although I haven’t worn it in 3 years I might need to wear it sometime in the future.

And I’d like to think I could get rid of it. But really I’m not going to. I like to hold on to the past. These remnants that keep us where we are and take us back.

It’s comfortable.



When something that is going to have lasting impacts on your life happens you don’t know how to react.

When Katherine and I walked into the condo and with all of our stuff covered in mold we didn’t know how to react. Do you clean it up? Can we wash the clothes? How can we sleep in our bed?

I remember when someone from a restoration company showed up just 2 hours later.

He walked in and started taking pictures.

Can we stay here?

The obvious answer was no. But we didn’t want to believe it. We just wanted to be home.

So he walked through taking a look and sharing that this was it. You either spend a ton of money getting it professionally cleaned or you throw it away. And when we say a ton of money… A LOT of money.

We didn’t have $10,000 – $12,000 to restore everything in the kitchen, dining, family room, master bedroom, closets, master bathroom.

Why did we have to buy that custom ordered couch that just showed up a couple weeks before we left? Couldn’t someone have told us to just buy something cheap because it was going to get thrown away anyways?

So we weren’t staying in our own bed.

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Thank God for friends. We’ll sort it out the next day. Although clearly looking back; we’re not going to sort this out in a weekend. In fact before this is all said and done it will be almost a month.

We spend the weekend on the phone with the landlord and restoration companies trying to figure out what the heck do you do when everything in your home get’s covered in mold.

It get’s to Monday and we need to check into a hotel. It’s funny but we end up at the Courtyard Marriot at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Completely random that we went from Rochester MN the home of the Mayo Clinic and Jacksonville, one of the colonization attempts.


And as we’re walking in my wife, Katherine, says

“At least no one is hurt or dying”


I don’t know if you ever have a moment in your life that when you look back on almost instantly brings you to tears but this is that moment for me.

Sitting in a Courtyard Marriott. The green carpet with the obnoxiously hotel neutral pattern and a cover on the bed that is a bit to sterile to believe could actually be clean.

And a bathroom with an overly cold blue light which smelled a little musty itself. It’s these spaces that are etched in my mind. I’ll remember this space for a long long time.

Because we got a call from my mother-in-law.

Katherine… your dad had a stroke and we’re not sure how he’s doing.


Some people don’t like their in-laws, some do. I get it.

I happen to like mine. I’ve spent a lot of my short life with them. Traveling, holidays, weekends, dinners, it’s had a big impact on me.

Don is a man. He’s one of the strongest most caring people I’ve met. He doesn’t care what people think. He is who he is. And that’s why I love Don.

He always cared with the purest of intentions.
Whether it’s about business, relationships, or hobbies.

I respect him.
And always learn something when talking with him.

He’s always wanted to hear what I’m working on and give the very best advice he can to help. It’s been invaluable.

So hearing that this man that I love so much and really NEED in my life might not be around tomorrow was crushing. One of the worst moments of my life.

The phrase had come back to bite us in the ass
“at least no one is hurt or dying”

We had to get back to Rochester as soon as possible.

I went and found the closest storage unit and we went back to the condo. Grabbed as much as possible in the office (which wasn’t covered in mold) and tried to clean off some of the valuables we just couldn’t bear to get rid.

Threw it all in a 5×5 storage unit (it took over 8 hours of straight work but it flew by as this was it… we didn’t have a choice)

The next day we took off before 4:30 in the morning simply trying to get as far as possible. All the way in one day if possible. Let me tell you 22 or 23 hours is a long drive especially when you had just done it a couple days before.

We made it to Madison Wisconsin when we had to crash for a couple hours.

Back up before 4 we drove the final handful of hours and made it to the hospital before 8 AM.

And there we were. Pulling into the St Mary’s car park. Walking down the miles long hallways trying to figure out how quickly we could get there or at the same time delay the walk into the room. Trying to avoid the reality of what’s going on.

Here he is.

A giant of a strong man laying in a bed hooked up to everything that goes along with being in a hospital.

Not able to be the man that fixes everything and takes care of everyone.
But instead the one that needs to be taken care of.

I don’t really remember much from here on out. It was a blur of staying at the hospital, trying to figure out paperwork and finances, and making sure work didn’t fall too far behind.

*Oh and don’t forget we had a condo full of shit that still had our name on it.



It’s amazing what stress can do to you.

Multiple studies have shown that these sudden emotional stresses — especially anger — can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmias and even sudden death.

I felt it immediately.

My stomach and digestion went crazy. I went on a crazy diet of hamburger, cooked carrots, jello, and that was about it, trying to get things under control.

The events and activities in and around your life impact every aspect. And things like continued stress can have long-term impacts. Your physical body, your business, are all impacted.



We spent the next 2 weeks at the hospital most every day with my wife’s father in law..

Watching, waiting, for improvement and trying to figure out how this would all work out.

Running to the Starbucks just across the street to get some work done to maintain some clients.



When the mold expert came to the apartment to determine what caused it he claimed it was because one of the sliding glass doors was off the track. (which had been opened and closed since the incident happened so it could have happened at any time)

Side note – he broke the door while he was inspecting it. Convenient.

We had issues with moisture on the floor from the below AC since we had moved in. In fact we had talked to the building manager about it and heard that is happened in every unit.

But since the “expert” said it was the door off the track that was a housekeeping problem. Thus no insurance coverage. Both for us and the owner of the condo we were renting. Not Good.

25+ days into this no progress had been made and didn’t know if it would get the renovations it needed to be livable again. (and who wants to move into a place with the potential for mold always in the back of your mind)

We asked to get out of the lease and things suddenly got sketchy. So we hired a lawyer and went down that route. After 5 highly stressful days. We finally signed the agreement and broke the lease (loosing a couple grand in security deposit along the way)

But we had all of our stuff still there.
Nowhere to put it.
And couldn’t exactly fly down for a day and back.

So we went onto Thumbtack (a handy little app to post jobs on) found someone who did move out cleanings and literally had them TAKE all of our stuff.

We weren’t there but over 2 days they removed all the furniture and belongings just before a hurricane hit the coast.

And that was it.
We no longer had a home or everything that goes along with it.

A bed, TV, clothes, books, all of it.



Two weeks after being at the hospital Don was moved to a rehab facility where he spent 6 weeks, before going home.

He still needs assistance for most things and spends most of his time in a wheelchair. He’s regained his speech so he can communicate, but still hasn’t gotten all his strength and use back in his right leg or arm.

He continues to go to rehab 3 times per week and working toward more mobility and recovery.

Check out more about his story and recovery –



What next?

Well we’ve spent the last 4 months living at friends and family. Living a different kind of lifestyle that is definitely out of the norm.

Without the generosity and honest care of those around us I’m not sure what would have happened. Although some might consider this the worst of times it’s been something that has been “fun”. We’ve spent more time with friends and family than every before.

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Amazing friends who we lived with while in Rochester. No words can say how thankful we are.

We’ve been incredibly blessed and humbled by the support and generosity of everyone around us. Thank you so much.

We wanted to travel in the summer 2016, so we’ll just be accelerating that timeline. Spending some time in Mexico, California, Europe, and other places around the world.

Hopefully we’ll see you somewhere along the way!

The crazy part is through all of this is that business and work has been better than every. In just a short time span we did  the same amount of revenue  as we had all year.

I heard this somewhere during this time and it really resonated…


You have to let go of the good to have the chance to get to great.

That’s where we’re at. Letting go of what was “good” to find out what truly is the potential.

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