Running Away Was Not an Option

Miller and Debbie Harrell, Running Away Was Not an Option

MAD Hippies Life, Memories, Running Away Was Not an OptionKeepsakes, Family Photos, PolaroidsDid we both want to run at first sight? You bet ya! But it was too late. We both agree that we would have rather never met one another than be given a chance to walk away. Simply put, running away was not an option.

A recent conversation revealed another common feeling both of us had many years ago when we first met. Though perhaps somewhat counter to the way we were really feeling about each other then, and now, it spells out how deeply both of us feel for one another. Funny how we’ve been together 35 years and still keep learning new things about each other. A feeling we both share was that running away was not an option!

Was it love at first sight? Yes, and no. While we would both tell you, when we first met there was an immediate chemistry, we would also tell you it was the last thing on our minds.

Prior to our meeting we both felt a longing for something, yet unaware of what that something was but have come to realize it was a piece of one another’s soul. The honest side of the story that has come to the surface of late, neither one of us wanted to be in a relationship, nor were we looking for one. We were content to be alone, not wanting to partake in the often awkward human practice of dating or wanting to engage in the vulnerability of getting into a relationship.

As it were, and by a chance meeting, we did find one another and so began the history of us, MAD.

Did we both want to run at first sight? You bet ya! But it was too late. We both agree that we would have rather never met one another than be given a chance to walk away. Simply put, running away was not an option!

Over the years we have come to understand more fully what took place and how it would shape both of our lives, rather, shape our life together. You see, if either one of us were asked to talk about our fondest memory it would always contain “us” rather than a separate event apart from the other. It has always been us and will always be us when it comes to memories, time, togetherness, life.

Perhaps not for everyone, but given the chance, we would spend every breathing moment together. Unfortunately the bills have to be paid, and thus time is “stolen” from us during the work week. Needless to say a good data package with our smartphone provider is a must!

We do not need personal space. We don’t want separation in any form. Our memories, experiences and life together encompass all things from the mundane to the life altering. We would not want it any other way.

Looking back it has always been us. Looking forward it will always be us. When we are gone, our children, their childen and beyond will speak about us. The bottom line and truth about us from the beginning has been, MAD. Running away was not an option!

Peace,

MAD

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Hike to Nowhere

Hike to Nowhere, Rocky Mountain National ParkSometimes the best outdoor adventures have no goals, no expeditions to high mountain peaks and pristine alpine lakes. Sometimes the best adventures are found deep in the forest, off trail with only the sound of silence to reward you. Sometimes the best adventures are nothing more than a hike to nowhere.

We took a hike just such as this. With no goal in mind and no destination planned, the rule of the day was, just hike until it feels right. The trail had no real defining features. A well blended forest of alpine fir, lodgepole pine and aspen opening here and there with an occasional glimpse of snow-capped mountain peaks. A gentle rolling creek trickling alongside on our left fed by a high alpine lake in the far distance. Steep slopes rising to the right and dropping to the left, leaving just enough room for the trail and our unknown destination of a hike to nowhere.

We meandered our way up the canyon, stopping here and there, taking a non-aggressive pace and enjoying the quiet of nature.

At some point the trail turned away from the creek and headed uphill. We, on the other hand, did not. Following the creek, off the trail, we made our own way. Our trail to nowhere brought us to a small outcropping overlooking the creek, surrounded by dense woods and the perfect place to call it a day.

Hike to Nowhere, Trail FoodThere we were, all alone, despite the wildlife who possibly hadn’t seen humans for quite some time, if ever. We coexisted well with them and enjoyed each other’s company. For us, time didn’t exist.

While preparing lunch we looked up at a lone aspen tree that sat on the edge of the outcropping and were dumbstruck at our finding. Perfectly carved in its aging trunk, a peace emblem. Indeed, this was the spot we had been looking for. Perfect in so many ways, and yet, perhaps, unimpressive to anyone else.

Sometimes the best outdoor adventures have no goals, no expeditions to high mountain peaks and pristine alpine lakes. Sometimes the best adventures are found deep in the forest, off-trail, with only the sound of silence to reward you. Sometimes the best adventures are nothing more than a hike to nowhere.

Hike to Nowhere, Peace SignBirds singing, a gentle breeze winding its way through the trees and the creek running gently below us, we sat front row to a natural symphony while a flood of memories of our lives together danced through our heads.

Our hike to nowhere had indeed taken us to a very special place.

Peace,

MAD

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The Mountain Fought Back

The Mountain Fought Back

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. But, in our defense, we’re stubborn. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

We were overly eager to get back in the Colorado high country after having taken a week off from hiking. We set the goal of heading to one of our all-time favorite areas, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, to pay a visit to a nemesis of ours, Mt Audubon which sits at 13,223′ above sea level.

The trail is fairly aggressive, up hill all the way and mostly above treeline. Seems every time we attempt this strenuous alpine adventure the mountain always finds a way to fight back! This outing would not be an exception to that rule.

Once again, we had a fight on our hands. Our plan was a three in the morning wake-up call. Somewhere between seven the night before and two the next morning we were able to get about two or three hours of sleep. We’re blaming that on the full moon.

For some unknown reason, we got ourselves up and out the door and were on the trail by 4:30 in the morning. Headlamps on, bear spray in hand and a less than desirable caffeine level we wandered off into the dark woods awaiting the first light of day.

Amazingly, we broke treeline just as the sun came over the horizon. Wow, what a sight. We began to awaken with the dark now giving way to light.

The night before our hike we looked up the weather for the region and summit of Mt Audubon one last time. Mild temperatures, little to no wind and clear skies were in our favor. Anyone who knows mountain weather will feel our pain on what came next. As we approached the cutoff for the trail that lead to the summit, the wind came vigorously down off the peak and hit us smack in the face! Little to no wind? It would stay this way throughout the duration of our hike, well, until we got back down anyway. We’ve grown to understand that Mt Audubon also has a sense of humor.

Still somewhat half asleep we opted to bypass the summit trail and head off into an area we had never explored. Off trail exploration is something of a comedy act with us, we’re always surprised at our findings as much what those findings lead to. We followed the Beaver Creek trail for about a mile and then headed for a ridgeline to get a view down into the valley where Upper and Lower Coney Lakes sit.

It wasn’t long and we found ourselves navigating a snow field, scree and thick alpine scrub brush. And we thought we were alone! Once again we were looking at each other with that awkward stare of, “what now?” We were surrounded by bear scat and had just about wandered into a den when we found ourselves in quick retreat!

The conversation went something like this, “What’s that? Bear scat. It’s everywhere. (twig snaps followed by grunting sounds from bush) Was that you? No. We need to go…now!”

Back on the trail and laughing at ourselves, we did an about-face and made our way back towards Mt Audubon. Little sleep, certainly not enough coffee, and now full of adrenaline, we were deliriously hiking along. “Hey, you know what, the summit really isn’t that far and we’ve dealt with the wind before.” What is far? It was an additional two miles and another 2,000′ to the summit!

Stubborn, determined or just insane, we made our way up. Loose scree and talus fields are no fun when you are half-asleep. The debate is still out on the actual amount of oxygen at 13,000′ and we are still not sure what grumbled at us earlier. Suffice it to say, we had another incredible day in the Colorado high country and can’t wait to go again.

The views (see video below) were amazing to say the least. What followed as we made or way back to the trailhead can only be described as a sad, yet graceful, fall off the mountain. We must have appeared drunk.

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

Peace,

MAD

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Love is in the Air

Love is in the air

Love is in the airOn Valentine’s Day love is in the air, Letters Say Words Too Honest To Be Spoken. “In their senior year, the young couple eloped — then came back to school to finish the year. Letters, they say, help express feelings that can be difficult to say out loud.”

We were interviewed on CPR by Michael de Yoanna for a Valentine’s Day piece on the radio show Colorado Matters. Indeed, love is in the air! He asked us to share our story and some memories for the show. You can listen to the interview and read excerpts from the show here, Letters Say Words Too Honest To Be Spoken

Peace,

MAD

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Divine Destiny or Happenstance

Macro Photography

Divine destiny or Happenstance

Was it divine destiny or happenstance? Could it have been just a chance meeting of two young kids who found solace in each other’s presence?

OK, so here we go again. Valentines Day is back and it’s time to tell that special someone how much they mean to you. Sure, it’s a silly money making campaign that millions indulge in every year. But hey, why not, winter is slowly exiting, spring is around the bend and we could all use a little fire in our hearts, right? Hell, it helps the economy too, and who doesn’t love a good economic stronghold!

Not that we ever go out of our way to celebrate this love-fest, as certainly everyone should be telling the love of their lives on any given day how much they love them. Besides, this might just be the right moment you’ve been looking for to take that relationship to the next level. Go for it!

For us, after 34ish years, the fire still burns hot. It’s crazy, every day, month and year that passes, we just seem to grow, better yet, meld together all the more. The picture above is of our wedding bands, the lettering is in Hebrew, “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” which in English states, I am My Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine.

That being said, this year for Valentines Day we’ll be honoring each other not with candy, flowers or even a good strong Russian Imperial Stout, but by looking back at all the little details of our lives together.

It’s quite strange once you put your mind to it, but there really are a plethora of tiny little intricacies that got us to where we are today. Take any one of them away and things could be quite different around here. Scary thought!

Was it divine destiny or happenstance? Could it have been just a chance meeting of two young kids who found solace in each other’s presence?

That’s where the details come in. The details of divine destiny, happenstance and chance meetings all woven together to bring two love-struck teenagers into one place at the same time where lives would be altered, love would explode and the energy of it all would catapult us into the future to arrive at such a place as this.

Who really knows how it happens. We’re just glad it did. Maybe we read too much into it, maybe not. We’ve certainly experienced the following.

  1. It is said of twin flames and soul mates that they find that time just seems to stand still. That goes two ways, when we’re together it’s just us, the world disappears and we get lost in each other. When we’re apart, we cannot wait to be together again.
  2. When we first met, it was odd, we didn’t have those uncomfortable feelings and awkward moments new couples go through, it just felt normal and comfortable like we’d done this before.
  3. We share everything in common. It is as if both of us could just switch places and be comfortable in the other’s place.
  4. Our experiences and values were seemingly the same. We wonder at times how we didn’t meet sooner.
  5. We accepted each other at face value, day one and continue to do so to this day.
  6. To that point, and mostly because of that point, we helped each other mature and grow over the years. Complementing each other’s weaknesses and strengths.
  7. Lastly [to keep the list short], no matter what we’ve come up against in life, struggles inside and out of our relationship, we continue to desire to be together to the nth degree.

Taking this to an even deeper level, as we tend to enjoy reading about the more mysterious and mystical side of life, we found many intriguing details of our personal selves that complement each other in some fascinating ways. From a metaphysical, kabbalistic, religious, numerological, physical, astrological, physiological, logical and illogical standpoint, there are many signs that we have discovered over the years that tell us we are indeed meant to be together.

Was it divine destiny or happenstance? Yes, and perhaps a few other things. One thing is for sure, we both agree we found our other half and became one.

Peace,

MAD

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Time, a Friend and an Enemy

Time a Friend and an Enemy

Time, a friend and an enemy. Each moment that passes just becomes a memory. Will we embrace time, or will we fight it?

What is time, why are we so governed by it? What is this cruel and unjust madness that sits in the background of our existence? And yet, if we never were we would have none.

Alas, when we lay our heads down in bed thoughts of days gone by and visions of days to come flood our minds. Questions of what and how we lived our days haunt us into making what is left better. Will we? Will it just be another failed resolution?

Is this life all we get? Is the current lifespan it? If so mankind has a warped sense of participation in life on planet earth. The current system of monetary dominance to get what we [think] we want all to arrive at what is deemed success is quite disturbing. How much time did we waste getting there? How many opportunities at a healthy emotional and spiritual reality did we squander to become void of heart and soul?

The clock continues, the seconds tick, minutes, hours, days and years pass. The sun rises and sets. The seasons come and go. Who is watching? Who is paying attention? To what honor do we owe for wasting any of it? Running full steam ahead to get to the end of the race to see our dreams unfold in a new reality, wanting that time back.

As the days come and days go, we run through life in a desperate attempt to stay ahead of the ticking clock. At the end of each day we all just seem to come up short, cheated once again. Time, a friend and an enemy. Each moment that passes just becomes a memory. Will we embrace time, or will we fight it?

As a friend, time is a gift. As an enemy, time merely eats away at our sanity.

Consider, is your definition of time a tool for success and wealth, or is time an offering, a chance if you will, to experience your true identity on a whole new level.

Peace,

MAD

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Know the Rest of the Story

Know the Rest of the Story

Know the Rest of the StoryPeople don’t bother to know the rest of the story. They don’t care about the details. The impact. The loss. The pain. The very reason why we are who we are. The reason we find ourselves in the places we are in and how we got there.

When we were young, much younger, teenagers at that, we often would sit together on the weekend and listen to Paul Harvey. Most kids at the time were still asleep, and, for all practical purposes, would not have bothered to sit in the quiet of the early morning, hands knotted together, leg over leg, to listen to Paul Harvey and just be together in the moment.

What a wonderful time it was. Not ever wanting to be apart, ever. We were content to just be together, there needn’t be an activity nor an event. We were happy just sitting there listening to a radio show about real stories, about life, about substance, about waiting for that one line, “and now you know the rest of the story, good day.”

That memory we both cherish so much has resonated with us throughout our marriage. We were both so young, so damaged, and yet together, we were free. We both brought our own baggage to the table and accepted each other openly. Everyone has a story, and those stories need to be heard.

Are you looking at the outward appearance of a man? If so, what do you see?

Are you looking at him with your eyes, your mind or your soul? Are you looking at him with your criticism, your arrogance, your religion and your ignorance?

Have you bothered to know him? Do you care about his story? Do you know where he came from and how he got there? Is he just filth attracting flies in your manicured life?

What would it be to you to reach out your hand and let him know you’re both human? Are you him in someone else’s eyes?

Is your G-d you?

Who grants authority? Who has the right of empowerment over men to enslave them in their own thinking?

This is nothing short of the marrow of man’s spiritual self, not religious self, spiritual self. What is real in a world full of illusion?

People don’t bother to know the rest of the story. They don’t care about the details. The impact. The loss. The pain. The very reason why we are who we are. The reason we find ourselves in the places we are in and how we got there.

How do you want to be treated? How do you want to be seen? We’re all involved in this thing called life, it is the fabric of time and energy. It is the essence of each soul. It is the emotional soup that we float in each day as we strive to open our minds to what was, what is and what will be.

Know the rest of the story and you will not only discover the reality of someone else’s life, but your own.

Peace,

MAD

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Who Do I Think God Is?

Who Do I Think God Is

Who Do I Think God Is

Who do I think God is? Honestly, I don’t know. What I do know is what others say he is. In my humblest opinion, God is bigger than any of us will ever know.

I’m not one to follow the crowd, memes and the like. I’m not a religious person. I test everything, I question all and I do not regret doing so. I have never felt sacrilegious about my decisions, nor any negative discomfort from them. To me, God wants us to challenge him, he wants us to figure him out and by and far he wants us to come to an understanding on our own and not by someone else’s views or opinions.

Evolution? Sure, we’re evolving one day at a time. But seriously, something can’t come from nothing. So we’re left with an intelligence far beyond our own.

I don’t care for four-walled organizations, I’m not a fan of structured religions and by and far I have no place in my life for anyone who claims to know it all and tells me it’s either their way or the highway, hell, purgatory or oblivion.

I approach this all too complex issue from a rather simplistic and rudimentary angle, God simply is. One piece of evidence struck a chord in me many years ago, a somewhat reoccurring theme within a wide range of texts ingenuously states that we will know God by his creation. Simply put, open your eyes, ears and mind to the natural world around you and patterns emerge, human nature reveals and the vibrations of life proclaim his essence.

Though seemingly complex, it’s rather simple, humans just seem to complicate it all to the point of a legalistic dogma that leave no room for interpretation, no place for contemplative thought and certainly no place for honest and open debate. Sad, but we all just seem to back into our own corners of the religious market and raise our camp flags.

Indoctrination is a dirty word with far more negative impacts than many of us are willing to admit. Albert Einstein puts it all too well, “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”

If I had to explain myself, perhaps the best way to express my eclectic and ever evolving beliefs, for lack of a better word, would have to be a mystic influenced by the spiritual blur between the lines. I’ve been told I am a critical thinking INTJ. I look for patterns in vocabulary, in numbers, in equated complexities of adding them together to form words, sentences, paragraphs and beyond. I learn from history and do not repeat it. I look in the recesses of places I’m told are taboo. I journey spiritually in my sleep and awake times. My mind constantly drifts in thoughts of the unknown and how to get from here to there. I listen to all and repeat few.

If you ask, I’ll say I’m Jewish. But then I’ll ask you what you think Jewish is! Too many times we surmise what we think someone is by a title, a title man has created and given meaning to based on human ignorance.

I love Kabbalah, Gematria and Jewish mysticism. I want to visit Safed, Israel and not Jerusalem where too many fight and argue over their right to the sand. I don’t have a problem with Jesus, Muhammad, Buddah or the like, I don’t know them either. What I do have a problem with is what people have made them out to be, much less their religious claims on any given doctrine. One thing is for certain, one day we’ll all know the answer. Question is, in the interim, how much time will we waste arguing and waging war when we could be collectively exploring God and not our egos.

Who do I think God is? Honestly, I don’t know God. What I do know is what others say he is. In my humblest opinion, God is bigger than any of us will ever know.

Peace,

Miller [The “M” in MAD]

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To the World Their Baby Never Existed

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Baby Loss, MAD Hippies Life, Miller Harrell, Debbie Harrell

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, Baby Loss, MAD Hippies Life, Miller Harrell, Debbie Harrell, to the world their baby never existed“They left the hospital, never to mention their baby again. Their tears were shed in private, and they had to bear the burden of their grief and their pain silently. To the world their baby never existed.”

In October Debbie and I went to a Remembrance Walk for our daughter Shira Rose. We had no idea what we were walking into or the experience we would have…we can’t even begin to express our gratitude for the support and love we have felt since, and during, the Remembrance Walk. It wasn’t until this year that we had even begun to “allow” ourselves to discuss Shira and do something after 33 years in her honor. We began writing, started our blog and talking [perhaps for the first time] with each other about our hidden feelings that had been kept at bay, deep within us, for so many years.

We went to the Remembrance Walk unprepared to grieve, to feel and to somehow be those young parents we were so many years ago who had just lost their daughter. It was all so surreal. Cheryl Haggard, co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, gave a speech that day which hit a special place within us, we couldn’t help but think to ourselves, “thank G-d we came.” Seeing Shira’s name on signs along the route, hearing her name read aloud and releasing a balloon to the heavens was like coming home. Our daughter has a name, she is our daughter, she lives on and will always be a part of us.

Our experience and story was recently shared on the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Facebook page

“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Co-founder, Cheryl Haggard met Shira Rose’s parents, Miller and Debbie Harrell after speaking at the NILMDTS Remembrance Walk on October 3rd, 2015. Miller walked up to her and in a hushed tone, voice breaking, he simply said, ‘It’s been 33 years for us…

She had asked the audience to look around them that day.

‘Most likely the person standing next to you experienced the death of their precious baby recently. Within the past 5 to 10 years. They probably left the hospital with a beautiful care package lovingly assembled by other bereaved parents. And hopefully a photograph. Whether that photograph was taken by a professional photographer, a nurse or taken by the family themselves, they were encouraged to, and knew it was ok to create those memories of their baby. They left the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart, but they left with something tangible to remember their baby by. Something to hold onto. They have been told about or ‘googled’ support groups and resources nearest to them. They have shared their baby’s story with family and friends and possibly even the world through social medial. They have found acceptance and support by a beautiful community of bereaved parent’s online and right here, today.’

She then asked the audience to look around them again, and this time to look closer…

‘You could be standing next to a mother or a father whose baby died 20 or more years ago. They might be hesitant in telling you about their baby, because they were told it wasn’t appropriate to mention their baby. If you ask them questions, they might share with you their story of how they were never allowed or discouraged to hold or even see their baby. How they were told it wasn’t worth naming their child, and told to move on…try to have ‘another’ one. Forget about this one. They left the hospital, never to mention their baby again. Their tears were shed in private, and they had to bear the burden of their grief and their pain silently. To the world their baby never existed.’

That is, until now.

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep has given parents a safe place to share their baby. Share their story. And even share their photographs. Whether they were taken by themselves or taken by a professional. These parents have read our stories, and seen our photographs. Our babies have given their baby’s a face, and our stories have given these parents a voice. Some parents have given a name to their baby…and they are looking for ways to honor their baby’s memory.

Please share with us, especially, if you are a parent that has experienced a loss 20 or more years ago, your experience and how you think grieving and remembrance has changed between then and now. Was there a certain moment in time, when you decided enough was enough? How did you break the silence?”

Peace,

MAD

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Windows in the Cosmos

Super Moon, Full Moon, Celestial Color, MAD Hippies Life

The loss of a child is heart wrenching. A personal hell that those who experience it suffer in silence and alone. And yet, there is healing, healing that comes from the unseen and hidden world. Windows in the Cosmos.

There are things in this world that go unseen, we were lucky enough to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of what was, what is and what possibilities are out there.

Windows in the Cosmos allow us to see clues, patterns and sometimes answers to what our souls constantly reach out to.

Science, religion and philosophy, to name a few, have only scratched the surface. Detoured by their damned determination to know it all and be right all the time has kept them at bay.

Sometimes it’s better to just stand still and take notice of the events that are unfolding around you. One never knows what they might miss in the midst of the busy ongoing world.

December of 1982 was a trying time for us. In the midst of our own chaos of losing our daughter Shira, much less many factors around this soul wrenching time of our lives, there was a spectacular celestial event taking place we were not attune to. And, while we lived out our own personal hell, many watched in awe as a Super Blood Moon eclipsed fully before their eyes, unbeknownst to our situation.

Early this year, 2015, Debbie and I began a process of healing. Ironically, and perhaps sadly, it took us 33 years to get to this place. But here we are, slowly evolving and processing the most horrific experience of our lives, the loss of our daughter Shira.

In an interesting turn of events, last night we stood under the stars anxiously awaiting that same celestial event that happened so many years ago. Unfolding as it does, slowly before our eyes, along with the memories of our daughter, we anxiously awaited in awe of its beauty, but even more so, an energy of hope and cleansing. Perhaps we have come full circle, and after all, here we are, a bit older, a bit wiser and by and far, still together living life one experience at a time.

The intriguing notion here is not necessarily the Super Blood Moon eclipsing, although that is very cool, it’s more, so much more, it is a personal invitation for Debbie and I to not only experience something larger than life, but resonate with it, come to an understanding, heal and most notably, understand we are not alone in our loss.

Many don’t put much into astrology. We find it fascinating. We also tend to research things down to their very core and take notice of the obvious. The factors surrounding the event 33 years ago have once again surfaced. And, like it was then, we found ourselves dealing with the past without understanding that something else was at play here.

Way too many details to get into, needless to say, they are obvious to us, then and now, and we have taken them to heart and mind and feel the soul connection within ourselves and our daughter.

There are things in this world that go unseen, we were lucky enough to open our eyes and catch a glimpse of what was, what is and what possibilities are out there.

Peace,

MAD

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