Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Before taking Anna Rose to theater camp, I prayed. It wasn't out loud. I wrote it down actually. It said this, "Please let her have a role."

She was getting one, of course. Everyone in play camp got a role. But what I was praying for was that she wouldn't get a role like Flower #2" or Mouse #11 not that there's anything wrong with being a mouse of any number. It's just I wanted her to be Lilly the Villager. Something like that. Or Whiskers the Cat. It just seemed cooler to me. That's why I prayed it.

So later that day I pick her up from play camp and ask her what role she got. She said, "Cinderella."


That's not the role I was asking for.

"Are you nervous?" I asked. I was nervous.

"No," she said.

Now for those of you not familiar with the Children's Theater of Winston-Salem. At the end of play camp there are two live performances in front of hundreds of paying customers.

"Really?" I asked.

"It's not that big a part. Caroline gets to be a mouse." She says this as if she is big time disappointed.

"But you're Cinderella!"

"I'm just young Cinderella."

"Oh," I said, finally able to breathe.

"I don't even have any lines. I just have to act."

"How do you have to act?" I ask.

"Sad. It's hard actually. I have to bite my tongue to keep from smiling."

"That is hard," I said, biting my tongue.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Craziest Week Nothing Happened to Me

Aug 8 - texting before Global Leadership Summit

9:24am Ned: Let's get a babysitter and go out to dinner

10:21am Lia: Great! Silo or 6th and vine or willow?

11:15am Lia: Felt a big cyst on my right ovary. Getting ultrasound.

Wait! What?

Lia was at her yearly OB check-up. It was supposed to be a nice, routine visit. The unnecessary kind of visit. When life suddenly turned upside down. The ultrasound looked suspicious. Lia scheduled a meeting with a Gynecological Oncologist for Monday.

Dinner that night was not as light-hearted as originally hoped.

The next three days, which included her birthday, would be awful. Lia explained to me how bad ovarian cancer is. I started freaking out. Earlier that day, my wife was perfectly healthy. Wasn't she? Now, she was dying. But she looks perfectly healthy?

It rained on her birthday. Anna Rose crashed over the handlebars on her bike. We had to eat at home instead of going dancing. Lia, at one point, told me "This is the worst birthday ever." And I'm thinking, what if it's her last? 

I was falling apart and beating myself up because I was. I would like to think that when Lia needs me the most, I would be able to be that strong shoulder for her to lean on. It didn't happen that way. Needless to say, it was not my finest hour. Way to step up, Ned. Mmmm Boy. Have mercy.

Well, we got it. Monday, a nearly two hour oncologist appointment brought us hopeful news. Dr. Skinner didn't think it was cancer though she thought the cyst was not in the ovary but in a more sketchy location. Mmm Boy, Have Mercy.

She scheduled the surgery for Wednesday. Tuesday we took a deep breath. Lia's mom drove down from Columbus. She was a lifesaver. Lia went into surgery Wednesday afternoon and about 5:10pm I received the best news possible. The cyst was in the ovary. It was not cancer. And Lia could go home that night.

I met her in recovery. She wasn't winking. Only one eye worked.

Unfortunately, the anesthesia that made Lia loopy also made her nauseous. For the next two hours, I had to watch the poor girl dry heave. Finally, we got her clothes on and carted her to the car. She slept a long time. And woke up hungry. She hadn't eaten food in 61 hours. Holy smokes.

This weekend we went to the mountains. Did some of her favorite things: hiked Bluff Mountain,
visited an art gallery, drove to a vineyard and enjoyed not only a wine tasting but a private tour. We went dancing that night.

The Rise and Shine Band sang her Happy Birthday. It was like making good all the things that went so bad.

And here I am: Nothing happened to me. Still, I feel like I went through the rinse and spin cycle. And now, happy and grateful as I can be, I'm sleeping for the first time in a week. Mercy.

Happy Anniversary! Sweet Leela.

Thank you all for your prayers and support during this crazy week. 

Friday, August 09, 2013


This was a big week for the Erickson family. Dave Dave and Anna Rose, with minimal instruction from their parents, mastered the art of balance. Dave Dave was first. He is still a day or two away from figuring out pedals. I'll post a video when it happens. But he is a natural daredevil on the Strider. Here is a video from Monday. Yesterday he was doing stuff I can't do.

Anna Rose has had her ups and downs with the bike. I've been trying to get her on one for a couple years now only to achieve a lot of yelling and tears. However, it took one look at Dave Dave for everything to change. Nothing like a little sibling rivalry. In less than twenty-four hours, she went from not being able to balance a lick to full fledge biking around the block. Sorry, mom, about the no helmet. 

I gave her a tiny push and off she went. I'll never forget it. Nor will I forget what she said: "Oh my goodness, I can bike!" She sure can…

Here is a bonus video of Anna Rose's last swim meet. Can you say future triathlete?

Monday, August 05, 2013


For me, the Beyond adventure didn't really begin until this moment -

the Dragon and Unicorn Farm on the way to Egmont

I can't remember who said we should stop. It wasn't me. Or maybe it was. Like I said, I can't remember. But the next thing I know, the van I'm driving is doing a U-turn and we're heading back to the Dragon and Unicorn Farm. We pull in this tiny gravel driveway and immediately start getting the what-the-heck-are-we-thinkings going up and down our spines; but there's nothing we can do about it, the driveway's tiny.

We arrive at a house. There's no farm to speak of. Two tiny cottages that look big enough to host a family of dwarves or hobbits maybe. No mythical creatures anywhere in sight. Not even dragon or unicorn yard art. Not even a garden gnome! The guys are yelling at me to turn around. I'm trying. But I'm in a van and the driveway is...tiny. It takes twelve points to get me sideways when a lady steps out of the house.

"Can I help you?" she may have added "eh" at the end, I can't remember. We were in Canadia.

I roll down the window. "Uh, well, we saw your sign and we've never seen dragons or unicorns before so we thought we'd stop by."

"Oh, we don't do rodos no more."

Rodos? What's a rodo? I decide to pretend I know what she's talking about. "Aw man, no rodos. Well, I guess we'll go then."

And we get the heck out of dodge.

After we took a picture.

Rodos became the running joke of the week. Whenever we saw something we didn't know what it was, we called it a rodo. Or we would do a rodo. Or eat a rodo. Or we would rodo our kayaks to camp. You get the idea.

So anyway, all you dragon, unicorn, Canadia lovers out there - if you know what a rodo is, tell me...on second thought, don't. I kind of like leaving its definition to my imagination.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Way Beyond

I don't know what this says about me but I feel most at home when I'm not at home, when I'm not in anybody's home, when I'm in the woods or on a mountain or on a rock or somewhere above treeline. When I'm lakeside or seaside or riverside or creekside. When there's wind and when there's not wind. When the sun is reflecting off the water or beating down upon my red hair. When there are animals and bugs and birds and fish. When there's nothing but stillness. And when there's a trail behind me and more before me. Or even if there isn't. Even if there is nothing to follow but a cairn or a compass or ones best read of the line. I love nature. I don't miss the comforts of showers and mirrors. Mirrors are not comfortable. Showers...I like showers. But I don't miss them. I brush my teeth and that feels clean enough.
Happy Ned
I took five guys on a Beyond Malibu trip last week. Will Mitchell, Ethan Carros, Owen Baughan, Spencer Powell and Coleman Johnson took a chance on a week with me in the woods and water of the Pacific Northwest.


Will and Owen

Coleman creeping on the Baby Seal

Super Spencer

We were scheduled for a seventy mile sea kayak. I was given the option to change it to the 103 mile hard core version. I didn't tell them until the end that I took the option. To me there was no option.  They can look in their comfortable mirrors now and see a hard core man looking back at them now. They'll thank me for it someday.

Setting Out

Men at Jurassic
It was quite the adventure. Seeing Malibu for the first time. Coming within paddle reach of baby seals. Seeing I don't know how many of their relatives. Spawning salmon ramming our boats. Bald Eagles swooping so close you could hear the wind cutting through their wings. Yes, quite the adventure. Chatterbox Falls. The pristine Princess Louisa Inlet. Then sunrise over Two Bear.

Ethan eyeing Mt. Albert

Baby Seal

Two Bear
Then there was the night with bioluminescent water. That's right. Swimming in the Pacific Ocean with the stars above us and the water shooting off luminescent stars every time we moved our body. I almost missed it. Almost went to bed. It was midnight and I had twenty-four hours of travel starting at 4am. But there was bioluminescence in the water! I got out of bed. I swam and sang and screamed like...well like I do when I'm happy and so full it's coming out whether I want it to or not. There was no one in miles to hear me...except the boys. I woke them up. Sleep could wait. I couldn't let them miss this. It was too wonderful. Too over the top. An amazing week of God and nature and here was nature and God at their finest. What a show!

Yes, God showed himself to us. He met me personally there on the Jarvis Inlet. Walking on the stony beach of Two Bear, I couldn't write down his words fast enough. I won't forget them. He etched them on my heart.

On the way back "home"
Thank you John Guppy, Matthias Newell, Lee Grindstaff, and Kevin Smith for putting up with us. We couldn't have asked for better guides. Hope to make it back your way again soon. Until then, remember there is no place better to be than here...with Love.

Always and Everywhere.