Well, we are 16 days into our attempt to raise the funds to self publish 2,000 copies of our book.  So far we have raised just over $6,000.00!  As of now we are 1/3 of the way to our goal, with a little less than 2/3 of our time remaining.  At this rate making our goal is going to be really close.  We need your help…  Below you will see three promotional pictures with links to the .pdf files for each (Click on each picture for .pdf).  Please share these with your friends and family and, perhaps more importantly, any businesses/orginization that may want to sponsor us.  I know we will reach our goal – and it is all because of the amazing people we have that have helped us reach the place we stand today.

As an added bonus, for any business/orginization that you recommend that partakes in our $500.00 graphic sponsor, we will also include your name in our book as an official supporter of ReesSpecht Life.  We will have a page of standout “Rees’ Pieces” who helped us by spreading the word.   It is our sincere hope that the publishing of our book marks the beginning of our journey to making a difference in children’s lives and teaching them the importance of kindness.  The book, coupled with the school programs we wish to start with it, is our first step.  Thank you so much for all of your support.  Together we can make this world a better place, one Rees’ piece at a time…

-ReesSpechtfully,

Rich and Sam Specht

aboutbook

aboutrsl

 

 

There are many people who have messaged me that are confused about the availability of our book.  I want to clarify everything and explain (as succinctly as possible) what the current status is and how you can order the book and/or help us make a wide distribution of it possible.

As many of you are aware, we had publishers lined up for our book and were set to release it on May 7th… well due to unforeseen circumstances, our original publishers were not able to produce the book in the format we wanted.  As a result of this last minute potential disaster we were forced to scramble and find another way to get the book out.  We could try other publishers, but that process will take more time and we really want to have the book available as soon as possible without going through the vetting process of finding another publisher.  The fact of the matter is that we have a completed project that has been professional illustrated and edited and it really only needs to be printed – at this time there is nothing a small publisher can do for us that we haven’t already done – including reaching a wide social media market.

Our solution to this issue is to self-publish and print ALL of the copies ourselves.  At our current price per unit and factoring in costs of shipping and editing and illustration fees,  it will cost in the neighborhood of $20,000.00 to make 2,000 copies of the book available.  We feel that with our built in support, coupled with the added support of word of mouth we can easily make our goal.  So far, in only 1 week, we have hit 21% of our goal.  Still, we need to make sure that we keep the momentum going.  This is where your support extends beyond the financial:  We need you to share our crowd funder through email, facebook and twitter with all of your friends and family.  Our dreams can only come true with your help.  The tools to share it are located right underneath the video (“The Story behind the story”) on the main page of the campaign.

Additionally, many people seem to be a little confused as to what a crowd-funder like Indiegogo is.  Very simply, it is a way to generate the funds to support a project with the investment of a group of individuals (a crowd).  We proposed our project on Indiegogo, and they host it and collect the funds.  A crowd-funder is not a straight up donation (although you can just donate if you wish) – it has to supply perks for your contributions.  In our case, the perks range from the very basic and low cost, to much more expensive and high value.  The campaign link has all the perks listed, but I will share them here for quick reference:

  • Pay it forward cards and magnets for $15.00
  • Just the book for $15.00
  • 1 signed copy of the book and 10 ReesSpecht Life Pay it forward cards for $25.00
  • 2 signed copies of the book and 20 ReesSpecht Life Pay it forward cards for $45.00
  • 3 signed copies of the book and 30 ReesSpecht Life Pay it forward cards for $60.00
  • A silver pendant and necklace that has “ReesSpecht Life” on one side and “Love Cures” on the other and 10 cards for $75.00
  • 3 signed copies of the book with a personal message and 30 ReesSpecht Life Pay it forward cards for $75.00
  • 1 signed copy of the book, 1 car magnet and a “I’m one of Rees’ Pieces” t-shirts for $100.00
  • 10 unsigned copies of the book for $150.00
  • a perk designed for schools/libraries:  Six signed 1st edition copies to use in school classrooms and libraries. Thank you mention of SCHOOL NAME in print forever and on our website for $200.00
  • 6 signed 1st edition books + custom author Messages + THANK YOU mention in the book. YOUR NAME in print. Forever for $200.00
  • Pay it forward to your school with 20 signed copies of the book, 200 “Seed of Kindness” children’s pay it forward cards and a free skype session for the class with the Author for $500.00
  • Receive 2 signed copies of the book and your company logo and contact info (website, phone #) will be listed as a sponsor in the book and on our website for $500.00
  • Pay it forward to your school with 30 signed copies of the book, 300 “Seed of Kindness” children’s pay it forward cards and a free skype session for the class with the Author for $700.00
  • Be a character in our next book: Receive 2 signed copies of the book, your name listed as a sponsor in the book and our website AND you or your child will become a character in our sequel book: “A Little Rees Specht goes a long way” for $1000.00
  • Partnership: Your company name and logo along with contact information will be listed on our page as a partner and supporter of ReesSpecht Life. Your Company name and logo will appear on promotional materials at our fundraisers such as our upcoming 5k, concerts, golf outings etc. Your company name and logo will also appear in our book listed as a donor/supporter: $1000.00
  • Get our program for “Kindness Week” and the “Kindness Games”, including lesson plans, 1000 “Seed of kindness cards”, and 30 books for $1500.00
  • Author will present “ReesSpecht Life: How kindness can change our perspectives” to your school or group. Includes enough “Seeds of Kindness” cards for each participant up to 3,000 for $1750.00
  • Receive 30 copies of the book, 3,000 kindness cards and the author will come to your school/orginization and present “ReesSpecht Life: How kindness can change our perspectives” plus a book signing for all students with a copy of the book for $2500.00
  • Your Organization is guaranteed top billing as a sponsor/partner of ReesSpecht Life for Life. Your company/organization will forever be linked with us. You will get signage and sponsorship credit at all fundraisers and your logo and info will get top billing in this book and all of our sequel books for $5000.00

As you can see, the perks really do range quite a bit.  As of now only 1 of the higher tier perks have been claimed, so if you know any generous individuals out there who wish to help out, please share the campaign with them.  Also, since the school year is winding down, the school based perks will most likely be for next school year.

As I wrote before, even if you do not make a monetary contribution, please take the time to share our campaign with your friends and family on email and social media.  The book really came out better than I could have ever envisioned, and I personally promise that you will not be disappointed with it.  Please help us make our dreams our reality.  Thank you so much for your support and for being one of Rees’ pieces!

The final cover

Click Picture to support our Indiegogo campaign.

This past weekend was a microcosm of the emotions I have experienced over the past 19 months.  Exuberant highs, followed by sullen lows, inconsistently oscillating back and forth in quick succession leaving me in an apprehensive state not knowing when the switch would occur.  While my emotions seem to be leveling out as of late, I find that certain situations throw off my balance – and this weekend was a perfect example of that.

It actually all started several weeks ago when we received an invitation for our dear friends, Lisa and Mike’s son’s 3rd birthday.  We received a similar invitation a year ago, but we respectfully declined feeling that the timing was too close to our loss of Rees and we just did not feel ready.  This year we decided we were going to face our fear and be with our friends as they celebrated the third year of life with their little boy, Sawyer.  Sam and I had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into, but nothing can totally prepare you for something you have never really experienced before…

Before I go any further, I need to provide a little background: Lisa was Samantha’s college roommate for three years in college.  They hit it off almost immediately in their freshman year, and were basically inseparable for their entire stay in college.  Mike was Lisa’s High School sweetheart who found his way to a college in Virginia near Lisa in much the same way I “happened” to attend a college that was near Samantha.  Upon my first meeting with Mike I knew this was someone who I would call a friend for life – and indeed my earliest inklings were correct.  For the past 19 years the four of us have shared a friendship that I believe is special and rare.  Together, we have shared almost all of life’s ups and downs together, never letting the 16 miles of Long Island Sound that physically separates us keep us apart in our hearts.

We were in each other’s wedding parties.  We suffered together through the sudden loss of Mike’s brother, Dan.  Our teaching careers all started around the same time and we subsequently celebrated the purchases of our first homes.  Every year around Memorial day, we always got together to camp on my property in upstate NY.  The four of us seemed to be locked into a mutual beat of life whose music we enjoyed making together.

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Before we knew it, the four of us became the six of us.  Only one month separated the birth of Lisa and Mike’s first son, Aidan and our Abby.  2 years later we both welcomed our second children, Calla and Lorilei, and the 6 became 8.  Four years later we seemingly capped off a trifecta of synchronization by both welcoming the birth of our third child.  December of 2010 blessed us with Rees, and May of 2011 blessed them with Sawyer.

Most of our friends were excited for me when Rees was born, but none more so than Mike.  He knew, more than others, how much having a boy meant to me.  The night I spoke to him about my early experiences with being the father of a boy for the first time his excitement was palpable.  He kept telling me to just wait and see – that it only gets better.  I never doubted him.  For the 22 months that Rees was with me Mike was spot on.  It always got better and better.

When Sawyer was born 5 months later I remember my excitement at the idea of our two boys playing together.  In my mind’s eye Rees and Sawyer would continue the friendship forged by their fathers and the connection between our families would remain long after we were gone.  It was the perfect book end to our experiences as fathers and friends.

The times we got together in the 17 months Rees and Sawyer shared was a joy to behold.  With each new visit I would observe quantum leaps in their interactions as each one developed new skills and their personalities emerged.  I specifically remember one trip to Connecticut where Rees was walking, but Sawyer was not yet.  Sawyer was sitting in a bumpo on the ground and he was playing with a ball.  Rees came over to him and just swiped the ball from Sawyer and walked towards me holding it up as if he had acquired some rare artifact that he was proud to display his acquisition of.  Sawyer sat there dumbfounded for several seconds and then began to wail over the theft of his ball by the more mobile Rees. I remember being mortified that Rees would “steal” from his friend and I accosted him.  His look of triumph immediately morphed into one of confusion and sadness as he too began to wail.  I told Rees to bring the ball back to Sawyer and he immediately pursed his lower lip, turned defiantly from me and proceeded to throw the ball back at Sawyer (I recall feeling guilty about noticing how well Rees the threw the ball and his impeccable aim- and the pride I felt at how well he threw it!).

To the best of my memory that was the last trip they ever saw each other.  The realization that there would be no further opportunities for Sawyer to play with Rees hit me hard.  Every time I see Sawyer now I see what could have been for my little boy.  Each milestone he achieves is something I will never experience with my own son. I feel jealous.  I feel envious.  I feel ashamed for feeling it.  It’s the ultimate catch 22, with my emotions stuck in the middle.  Mike was wrong, it doesn’t always get better.  Sometimes it gets worse…

Worse happened this weekend.  While friends and family of Sawyer sat around singing “Happy Birthday”, smiling and laughing the whole time, I spied Samantha on the other side of the room from me.  I saw her trying to smile, her eyes welling up with tears.  I knew she was feeling the same thing I was:  Rees should have been sitting in his own chair 5 months ago, and we should have been singing it to him.  She didn’t have to utter the words to me, I know what she was thinking.  There might as well have been an empty chair next to Sawyer during the party, because in both our minds’ eye, there was.  I was angry; not at Sawyer, not at my friends… but at life.  I just wanted to run away and feel nothing.  I can’t describe the mix of emotions that was going through me at the time.  It was all in one, sadness, anger, resentment, joy, and hope.  Emotions that had no business co-existing were present, all at once, and my mind just could not handle it.

After the singing was over I couldn’t find Sam.  I asked another college friend who was there where she went, and she told me she was in the restroom.  I knew exactly why she was there.  She couldn’t escape anymore than I could, and the restroom was her only place to release the emotions welling inside her away from everyone else.  She came out of the restroom a few minutes later, eyes swollen and red – but with a smile.  It was the smile every parent who has lost a child has learned to master: the I’m totally fine now, no need to worry about me, nothing to see here, move along please smile.  I know because it was the same smile I was wearing.

Sam and I have gotten really good at that smile in the past 19 months.  I admit, she is better at it than I am.  Mine still has a slight curl to my lip that belies my true feelings.  Sam, on the other hand, almost pulls it off.  In fact, if it weren’t for her swollen eyes, I may have even fallen for it.  I just held her and kissed her and we both must have looked ok because people offered us cake and talked with us like nothing was wrong – and that is exactly what we want.  We don’t people to know anything is wrong because we don’t want to bring them down.  Score one for fake smile.

I can honestly say I did not fake smile the rest of the weekend.  I don’t think Sam did either.  Once everyone else was gone, and it was just us and our good friends, there was no need to hide.  It was like old times.  Our children were playing, laughter was plentiful and all was right in the world – with one exception.  Every time I saw Sawyer I saw Rees.  I saw what Rees would be doing.  How tall he would be.  The toys he would be playing with.  It wasn’t all sad though:  I also saw hope.  I was able to pick up Sawyer and play with him.  He calls me “Uncle Wich”… and it just melts my heart.  In those quieter moments I found I was able to see my little boy through his eyes.  During many of those moments I imagined a parallel universe (that likely exists according to current scientific understanding) where Rees never died.  I wondered what is he like?  How has he changed?  Does he like Star Wars and Transformers?  Or is it something else?  Does he still love tractors?  Is he playing with Sawyer?  Are they best buddies?  I would like to think so.  I would like to think they are the best of friends in this place.  I only wish this place didn’t just exist in my mind.  I wish I were there right now, if only for a moment, so that I could tell our Sawyer all about the friend he never knew…

 

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At our own crossroad.

I feel that we are at a crossroads…  On one hand I love what we are trying to do, and knowing that I am doing it to honor my little boy lights a fire inside me that vanquishes the darkness his death imposed upon us.  On the other hand, trying to accomplish our goal of spreading kindness is a tremendous struggle and a second full time job that I am not sure I have the will to continue doing.  Many people warned me that running a foundation is an incredible time constraint and that it takes a toll.  These same people recommended that we perhaps look to another foundation to help with our cause and save ourselves from the inevitable time crunch running something like this would entail.  I thanked them all for their advice and pushed ahead anyhow, armed with a sense of purpose that made me throw all caution to the wind.  Well, the wind is blowing back.

Running a non-profit is a constant struggle to try and makes ends meet.  You can’t just put your hand out and hope that the money needed to run the organization appears magically.  Regardless of the dynamics that started your cause, people expect something in return for the money they spend.

Providing something of intrinsic value for people is a difficult thing to do for any business, but I believe it is magnified exponentially for a non-profit.  Businesses are built on the basis that you spend a little money to get more money than you spent by offering something novel that people want or need.  A non-profit generally does not have this advantage.  A group dependent on donations is usually offering something that people are willing to give away.  People don’t often part with things they highly value or are unique, so it is rare that a non-profit can offer anything novel or of great value.

In order to overcome this obstacle, most non-profits host fundraisers several times a year.  Fundraisers are often built around something that you can do in other venues, but the catch is that by participating in the fundraising event you know that what you are doing is helping a cause you believe in.  Most non-profits make their money through several of these events throughout the year.  To date we have done four such fundraisers:  1) Our first fundraiser at a local bar which included raffles and give away’s.  2) The “Man of Steel” movie fundraiser in which we rented an entire theater for a private screening of the new Superman Movie. 3) The 5k this past fall which was actually run by the Nesconset Chamber of commerce.  4)  The Islanders game fundraiser.  All four of these fundraisers were a success.  They took a lot of time to organize, but they were all well worth the money and effort and helped supply funding for the printing of our “Pay it Forward” cards and scholarships.  I could not be happier with our “event level” fundraising.

That brings me to the other part of the equation: Novelty.  From the begining of this process I wanted to offer something unique to people that would promote our goal and help us raise funds in the process.  The first step was setting up a web shop where people could get t-shirts, hats, mugs etc.  At first those sold very well, but then they died down.  I didn’t think much of it as I always figured there would be an ebb and flow to those sales.  We then offered car magnets, which I thought would be a big hit, that turned out not to be.  But perhaps the single biggest thing we did, something that took my heart and soul and put it out there for all to see, was the children’s book I wrote:

The final cover

The idea for “A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness” came to me while I was teaching.  I remember I was in the middle of a lesson on the reproduction of plants and was describing the process of seed dispersal and germination with my students.  We then got off topic a bit (something my students will attest that I tend to do) and I started talking about how humans have taken advantage of this process in modern agriculture.  I started talking about the giant machines (tractors) that prepare the soil and spread the seeds.  The point I ended up making was that no matter how much technology we use, the end result still requires the farmers dedication, effort and care to ensure the cultivation of the best harvest he can reap.  I then told them this is the case for everything we do in our lives, that we can’t just rely on technology to do everything – that the human component has to be there to cultivate the things we want.  It was at that moment that I thought to myself that this applies to kindness as well:  Kindness needs to be cultivated just like a seed, and when we do it spreads and grows.  It was a eureka moment.  I felt like I had the perfect idea for a story that would tie Rees’ love of tractors with the movement that we started in his name.

Over the next few months I wrote the story and descriptions of the pictures that would be on every page.  I had very specific images in my head of what I wanted and I struggled with trying to convey those images in written descriptions.   Towards the end of this past summer, my story was complete and I was ready to move on to the next step: finding someone who could take my words and create the illustrations.  There was only one person I would ever think of doing it – my childhood friend and gifted artist, Adam Smith.  Adam was the artist who developed our original logo of Rees as Superman and the Super “R”.

When I picture Rees in Heaven, this is what I see.

When I picture Rees in Heaven, this is what I see.

I met with Adam at his daughter’s soccer practice and described my vision to him.  I explained to him how each child character in the book was a real angel whose story I was made aware of in the course of sharing Rees’ story.  I shared pictures of the real life counterparts to Kaylee, Gavin, Kieran and Jessie.  I told him that this book meant everything to me and that the thrust of the foundation was going to move towards making the book the centerpiece of our effort to try and cultivate kindness and compassion in everyone who is touched by Rees’ story.  I asked him to develop a new logo for the foundation and that we would release the new logo on the anniversary of his passing and announce our book.  I also told Adam that we would not allow him to do this for free and that we would compensate him fair market value for his work.

The Kindness Spreads...

The Kindness Spreads…

As work progressed on the book I could not believe how Adam was able to take my words and literally turn them into the pictures I had envisioned in my mind.  It was as if he had some paranormal link to view the images in my brain.  My heart swelled with joy with each new page I saw come to life.  In a very real way, the images I saw gave a new life to Rees and the other Angels in the story and it gave me a sense of comfort knowing their stories and spirits were going to go on, even though their corporeal forms were no longer among us.  The book was a piece of my heart and I hoped with all of it that people would love it as much as I did.

The first people to love the book, outside of my family, were our original publishers, 1st Ride Enterprises.  1st Ride publishers also published my college roomate, and great friend Rob Edwards (If you like Nicholas Sparks, you will love his work HERE).   After seeing only the rough draft, they immediately signed on to help us and felt our reach on in our community and on Facebook would ensure it would be a tremendous success.  I felt exactly the same way, so we signed on, ready to take on the world.  Everything seemed to be moving in the right direction and Samantha and I were so excited about sharing the book with rest of the world.  Then, around the time of our Islanders fundraiser, some concerns started to creep up…

Our publishers came up with the idea of a charity campaign in which Author Matt Galeone would donate a portion of his profits to the ReesSpecht Life foundation for every book sold.  We figured it would be a win/win for everyone involved so we posted it on facebook right away.  It basically got no response.  We literally sold 6 books (2 copies of the trilogy).  36,000 facebook followers and we couldn’t sell more than 6 books.  I took that personally.  I apologized to them, explaining that our demographics were not exactly in line with the book’s demographics and that must have been the reason.

Regardless of how I tried to present it, the charity campaign really did not take off (though it is still active if you wish to buy a copy HERE).  What became more troubling was any post I made about our book was not receiving nearly the click through rate or likes of my other posts on Facebook.  A typical post about our book would generate maybe 100 click throughs and 30 likes, yet pictures of puppies with cute (and true!) sayings about kindness would generate 500 click throughs and 1000 or more likes.  I again brushed it off as people just waiting for the real thing to arrive.

The Kindness Grows.

The Kindness Grows.

May 7th was supposed to be the date of our original book publishing.  Up until 2 weeks ago that date was set in stone – and then the wheels fell off.  On the same Friday that the Newsday article about our Pay it Forward day Starbucks gift card distribution was printed I received an email:  1st Ride could not print the book in the dimensions that we designed the book.  We scrambled over the next few days to find a solution, and none that involved 1st Ride as our publishers could be found.  I spoke with the owner, who expressed his disappointment about the situation.  In addition to his disappointment, he also said something that is still gnawing at me today:  “After seeing the response to our charity campaign [and other things like the response to our book and other fundraisers] we altered our projections for your book.”  Very bluntly, they didn’t believe that our Facebook followers really meant much at all, and that our reach was grossly overestimated.   Suddenly, we were left with a book with no way to get it out to the public and the feeling that we made a huge mistake in judging our market.

With each passing day my own sense of doubt seems to reinforce the view that I completely miscalculated our reach and impact.  I cannot describe the feeling I have.  I put everything into this book and, by proxy, the foundation.  I am a logical person and the logician in me says that any book sold, or card distributed, or scholarship awarded is a success.  Furthermore, each success is a positive, countering the negative of the loss of Rees.

The circle of kindness...

The circle of kindness…

My left brain used to be the dominant side of my thinking.  That has changed with Rees’ passing.  Now my emotions are all over the place.  I can be “up” one minute and then, without any reason, I find myself crashing; despair and hopelessness overwhelming me.  My logical side tries to cushion the descent, but sometimes the fall happens so fast that I reach terminal velocity; completely eliminating the effectiveness of any effort to slow it.  That is where I find myself right now.  I can’t shake the feeling that the book is failure.  I wish I could see it another way.  I know that by nature, I am incredibly impatient, but I do not feel this is a manifestation of that.  My left and right brain are simpatico in this case.  Lack of response, coupled with my fragile emotions has placed me a really low state.

Rees on a "Trakta" 1 week before we lost him

Rees on a “Trakta” 1 week before we lost him

It’s almost as if I am losing Rees all over again.  No one loved Richie more than my wife and I – and no one could love this book more as well.  Since the book is intrinsically related to everything involved with the foundation and relation to Rees, I cannot help this feeling.  I had no control over losing Rees and I cannot go back and change that.  The book is a different story.  In regards to the book, I have some control in this case, and yet despite all of my effort, it too appears to be drowning in a sea of apathy.  It is almost as if this book represents, at least in my mind, a figurative way to save him and my perceived failure here is a repeat of my inability to breathe life back into his tiny body.  I feel like I am failing him all over again.  I. Hate. Failing.  I failed my little boy once and it cost me nearly everything.  I feel like I am losing control of the one thing I invested what was left of my heart and soul into…

Now, I realize that there things that are out of our control which we cannot hope to change.  Conversely, there are things that are within our control that we can.  There are still people who laugh at me for thinking we can make this world a little kinder.  I feel sorry for them, I really do.  My goodness, how much has life beaten someone down that they no longer have even the hope that we can make a difference?  I have never faltered in my belief that what we are doing is making a difference.  Where it appears I did falter was in my estimation of just how much support we really do have.  I mistook “Likes” on facebook for support.  I failed to recognize that those likes are fleeting and most people who “Like” us are really just saying “This is nice, good luck!”.  Likes do not equal support.  Our real support is in the 57,500 “Pay it Forward” cards that are out there.  Our real support is in the friends and complete strangers who volunteered to help us put our fundraisers together and organize our toy drive.  Our real support is in the hundreds of people who consistently comment on our posts and activities.  That number is a lot less than 36,673.  I’ve been putting too much time into spreading us out on facebook, when all I need to do is look around at the people right next to me who are making other’s smile with a kind deed and a card with a little boy on his tractor on it.  My wife, Samantha, told me that the book will “catch on when people have it in their hands and feel the same thing you and I do when reading it.”  She is right.  I was so caught up in catching lighting in the bottle, I forgot all about the spark that started the whole thing.

In reality, the book is already a success.  It may never ever make the money I invested into it back, but it will always be here.  I have visions of my daughters and baby Specht reading this story to their children and telling them all about their “Uncle Rees”.  I see them learning the lessons of kindness and growing, like a seed, with a cultivating love that will span generations in my family.  We may have only sold 25 copies of the book, but I know 3 of those copies will get passed, with great reverence, for generations to come.  Who knows?  Maybe someday I will look back on this writing and wonder how I could have ever doubted that people would find the book as something other than truly special… Or, I may see that this was a prognostication that was spot on.  Regardless, I know that the story is something my family will cherish and it that way my future grandchildren will never have to face losing Rees Specht:  They will find him.

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Time… I seem to never have any of it anymore, which is in stark contrast to my perception of it before we lost Rees.  It used to be that I felt I always had all the time in the world ahead of me.  As a result, I never really worried at all about it.  Now I find myself constantly worried about time.  It seems there are timers on just about everything I find myself doing lately.  Countdown’s to fundraisers, meetings with different people interested in learning more about what we do, calling back this person – or emailing another – I find there simply just is not enough time anymore.

In many ways I now have 3 full time jobs: #1 (always will be) – Being a Dad for my little girls and the future baby Specht, as well as a loving husband.  #2 – 8th grade science teacher.  #3 – Co-founder and President of the ReesSpecht Life Foundation.  All three of these jobs demand a focus to do them well, and with three of them the only thing I can sacrifice to keep that focus is time.  Almost everyone with whom I speak nowadays asks me how do I find the time?  My answer is very simple:  I don’t sleep as much and I really don’t take much time for myself.  The problem is that even with those sacrifices I find I cannot keep the focus on all three – there simply isn’t enough time.  The end result is that at any given time, one or two of the three, suffers at the expense of the other.  There simply is not enough time.

The reality of my busy life (and everyone else’s for that matter) is that it seems the busier we are the faster time seems to move.  Time is not constant.  According to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity time moves slower for objects in motion relative to an object at rest, or moving slower.  Very simply put:  The faster you move, the slower time moves for you relative to everyone else moving slower than you.  If I am driving in my car at 80 miles per hour past you sitting on a bench watching me zoom past, time is travelling just a micro-fraction of second slower for me than it is for you.  Basically, if you want to slow down time, you need to move faster!  This brings me to the paradox I find myself living in today;  it seems the faster I find myself moving in the past few months, the FASTER time is travelling.  I cannot keep up.  The more I do – the greater my expenditure of energy –  the faster I move from one thing to another – the quicker I find my future becoming my present.   With all due respect to Einstein, I think he got it wrong:  When it comes to people, time does not play fair.  All I want is a fair fight with time, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get it to bend to my wishes.

There isn’t a night that goes by where I don’t wish that it would all go away and that Rees would just be a room away and my life would be the way it was.  Ironically, that very thinking reminds me about the perspective I gained from this whole experience that has proven so invaluable in my life since his passing.  The present finds me stuck in time; faced with the guilt of something that happened which I can never change and the sadness that will follow me forward with every tick of the clock.   It is in these moments, in the everlasting present, that I wish I could have the perspective that I have now without the tremendous price I paid to obtain it and the immeasurable buyer’s remorse it leaves me with.  The paradox that precludes my possession of both vexes me and gnaws at my soul.  In the reality of the present I am reminded that the past is etched forever in stone and the future is a void that does not exist beyond the present.

The only time we ever truly have is the time we have right now, in the very instant we are living it.  Every moment before and after is completely out of our hands.  In many ways this makes time the ultimate enemy because it can only be experienced in the present – its very nature ensuring we cannot undo what was and we cannot guarantee what will be.  The present finds us shaped by the time we no longer have and the future does not exist for us to mold into exactly what we want it to be.    You cannot fight its unyielding march towards the future no matter how hard you try.  Time is the sand that slips through our fingers the harder we try to contain it.img_0925

I need to stop trying to contain it.  I need to let it go (cue Idina Menzel).  They say that time is like a river, always flowing in one direction.  I need to stop trying to damn the river and just ride it out.  A friend of mine, John Passaro (an amazing writer by the way – you should check out his work here) put it so perfectly:

“In some aspects losing a child is like a wall, but instead of getting over it, you must carry the wall with you, wherever you go, for as long as you live.  The wall is immovable.  You can’t go anywhere until you learn to move the wall.  You are just stuck in the same place, forever.  You can tug and tug all you want, there are days that the wall will not move.  And there are days that it moves ever so slightly.  Over time I have realized that in order to move forward, knowing that I must bring this wall with me, that the best way to do so is to metaphorically flood the soil near the wall with water, and have the wall float with me, instead of me having to carry it.  Every act of love and kindness turns to water.  Water and love can penetrate and move anything.  It just takes time.  I need to turn my wall into a raft.”

Excerpt From: “Again”

I need to take that raft down the river and let it take me where it is going to go – and stop worrying about the destination.  The river is going to carry me, and the raft I packed with the lessons of past, into the future.  The future is not set.  I can set the course in the direction I wish to go and just hope that things work out for the best.  Just as I know I cannot alter the flow of a mighty river,  I know I cannot alter time – but John is right:  Love and Kindness are the water that make up that river.  I may not be able to go back upstream, but the kindness we are cultivating is ensuring that the river I am floating on will continue to flow and expand.  I now realize that the hectic pace of my current life is nothing more than the white water of the rapids formed from the kindness we are spreading in Rees’ name.  From now on, I will not look at time as my enemy.  Instead, I will see it for it is:  The constant companion that follows me downstream.  It’s my silent partner in the journey and I just need to ensure that I stop and appreciate every once in a while.  It’s not the destination that is important: It’s the journey.

Splashmountainmelina

 

The past is passed and the future is unknown:  All we have is the present – make the best of it for it is a gift <3  ReesSpecht Life.

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