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!



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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.



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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



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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.



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I am the Father of a Stillborn

Life is Full of Curve Balls, Coping With The Death of a Child, Stillborn

Life is Full of Curve Balls, Coping With The Death of a Child, StillbornI am the Father of a stillborn. There are times when we are powerless in our situations and find ourselves losing it, falling deeper and deeper into an abyss where there is little light and the feeling of being alone is quite overwhelming.

I am the father of three beautiful daughters, one of which was born still when we were mere teenagers. It has taken me 33 years to allow myself to even remotely think about dealing with it. Anger, frustration and the emptiness of not being able to at least hold her has haunted me for years. I suppose people move on, but the pain never goes away.

I grew up in a broken home. With no male figure to show me the ropes, I learned what I could from what limited exposure I had to my grandfather. The rest came from reading the encyclopedia, disassembling electronic components to see what made them tick, reassembling [some] of those parts to make new inventions of my own and lastly hanging out at the local natural science museum where I would find a passion for not only nature itself, but the details of what makes the cosmos go round.

Thank G-d for the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, NASA and an early appreciation for music.

Never being much for crowds, I was somewhat of a loner. Not necessarily an outcast, but perhaps by choice. I just didn’t feel comfortable around a lot of people. I didn’t get them and felt they didn’t get me. Though perhaps in their defense, I didn’t get me. I had no “group” to fit into and for the most part dissociated with society in general.

I never put much faith in political, business and religious leaders, much less anyone else in an authoritative role. Not as to be rebellious, I just saw contradiction everywhere.

Trust in humanity was not there for me. I watched, from a distance, and was confused at how people treated each other. To me, the world seemed a cruel and unjust place. I sunk further into my personal self and focused on the natural world. Animals, weather and the universe at large made more sense to me than the typical household union.

I saw patterns in everything from seashells to the planetary orbits and became intrigued by the notion that there was much more to life than what meets the eye.

I spent most of my early childhood this way. Doubtful most people who knew me even remotely knew the personal hell I lived with daily. I learned not to ask questions simply because I never received an answer.

By the time high school came around, I was a complete wreck. I was just sick and tired of society and was becoming more angry all the time. Nothing, if anything, gave me solace. What, if any, real relationships I had with people just seemed awkward. Spending any time in nature, even if that meant climbing a tree in my yard, was good. Music became my outlet and as soon as I could get a pair of headphones on my head I could just close my eyes and slip into a world of musical mystery. I learned the songs and replayed them time and time again, picking out an instrument to listen to at times, and at other times I just focused on the meaning of the song.

Indeed, between the melodramatic sounds of certain bands and the depth of the lyrics that seemed to ask the same questions I had, I had found a place where I could be alone in my thoughts and feel comfortable.

What came next would rock my world to its very core. I felt cold most of the time, emotionally. But when I first laid eyes on my future wife my heart and mind fought an overwhelming battle of wills. I didn’t want a relationship. But little, if any, resistance could be conjured up within me. It was if I had no choice in the matter. Once we talked, I knew we would never part. She was, in a sense, the female me.

Years later I wrote her a letter and said, “You were hauntingly familiar to me when we met. The closer we became the more I felt the sensation that this was not the first time. You were exotic, cosmic and strange, though somehow familiar as your soul, my soul, our soul, was reunited.”

However, as we would both would soon find out, life is full of curve balls. There are times when we are powerless in our situations and find ourselves losing it, falling deeper and deeper into an abyss where there is little light and the feeling of being alone is quite overwhelming. For reasons beyond our control, my wife [then girlfriend] was sent to live with her father out of state. Not long after, she called me and told me she was pregnant.

We knew what we wanted to do, but, being powerless teenagers we were told different. She was kept out of state, and I was told to stay away. I was 16, immature, clueless as what to do, felt I had no rights and certainly without support. She was in similar fashion. Nights and days went by and the walls began to slowly cave in on us both. If that weren’t enough, long into the pregnancy I received a call from her…our baby doesn’t have a heartbeat. It was born still.

To me that was the last link I would have. Somehow I just thought to myself, our baby was the only link we could ever possibly have, and now she is gone. We are gone. I am gone.

There are wounds so deep that forgiveness could never come.

I don’t recall much after that. Time came and went. Days, weeks, months passed as I sought further to dull the pain. I had turned to drugs and allowed myself to sink deep into an awakened coma. Lifeless, angry, numb and without any determination to care if the next day ever arrived, I maintained a very self-destructive pattern. I just didn’t care.

Did I do things I’m not proud of? Unfortunately. Would I go back and change some things? Who wouldn’t. I was young, immature and out of my mind.

The abyss I had sunk into was bottomless, dark and empty.

Every fear and concern that I had growing up for humanity had expressed itself in the most horrific way. I had nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. The only person I had ever given my heart and mind to was taken from me and our child had died. To this day I am jealous of my wife, if for one simple reason, at the very least she was able to feel our baby move within her, something I would never have the pleasure to know or see. Damn humanity for that, and for treating my wife in such a way.

I’m not quite sure how it even happened, but in time she did return and we did, somehow, get back together. We were both an intense train wreck of emotions, trauma and full of anger, pain and emptiness. 33 years later we’re still working on it. The pain never goes away, the intense feelings are still there as if it were yesterday.

We named our baby girl Shira, which basically means [having a voice], something she was never given for the cruelty of man and their madness. To this day we have no reason for her passing. Being the father of a stillborn hurts, I mean it hurts bad. Being helpless is tough, being helpless as a teenage father is tougher. Being the father of a stillborn and watching your wife suffer emotionally is impossible…there are no words.

My wife and I have each other, we love deeply, have had two more daughters, have become grandparents and live out our lives as if there is no tomorrow. Some days are better than others, but the emptiness remains, it will always remain and our questions will never be answered.

I’ve been told talking about our daughter will help. Thus far it hasn’t, doubtful it will. That empty feeling will never go away, I am the father of a stillborn. It’s something I’ve learned to live with, and [slowly] talk about. One thing is for certain, we have given her a voice and her story, our story, will be heard.

I often wonder if she follows us around, walking the trails with us, holding our hands and lying next us at night.



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Watching Time Watch Us Watch Time

Love is in the air

MAD Hippies Life, Watching Time watch Us Watch Time, Love, Life, Experience

How do you get two people to be in the same place, hell just the same general geographical proximity, at the same time that they would be caught up in a silent explosion in the cosmos that sets off a chain reaction where time, space, life and love will continue to exist in perpetual motion and the resulting memories, experiences and emotions are shared well beyond their own lives?

OK, so maybe that is just a fancy way of asking how two people meet and their history begins. Still, the question begs to be asked, what possibilities exist that they will emerge from such a chance meeting and continue to surge forward in the energy of it all as if it were indeed planned from the beginning of time?

And yet here we are, sitting among our memories watching time watch us watch time.

How is one supposed to consider the mind-numbing statistics that exist in bringing two people together? You know the kind of equation that would keep Einstein awake at night as his variables become demons and solutions are nothing more than dreams. Does such a thing even need to be asked?

Though we will just tell you, it is real and not just some fairy tale.

Life can throw you curve balls every now and again. At one moment you can feel as if everything is spinning out of control, barely allowing for a minute to sit and catch your breath. And, at other times, it seems as if time stands still while everything just passes you by. Perhaps it is just one of those things, the natural movement of time if you will, the unexplained but necessary parts of being human where we wonder if we are watching time watch us watch time.

Strange, it is not as if we can control it, much less make any demands, but indeed time itself seems to watch us watch it, pulsing in one way or another, that we might catch up, slow down or just take in the moment, perhaps if for nothing else but to make necessary alignments in the grand scheme of things.

When we were first married it almost seemed as if time stood still. Sure, when we were dating we could not wait to be together again, and time certainly was our nemesis, but when it comes to time standing still, we refer to the notion that nothing mattered. It was us, just us, and that is all we ever wanted. We were caught in the middle of our own dream state and became oblivious to the outside world.

As parents some of that seemed to change a little, though not in a bad way. We would gather our glances and catch those special moments on the move as time was moving much faster. Minutes, hours and days flew by turning into years. We were busy taking care of the day in and day out activities, going through the motions and doing what we did to watch over our nest. We came to love those quiet dull moments as gifts to take a breath, look around and at each other if for just a moment and realize we are still here and it is still us. Our beautiful wonderful girls were growing, carefree and absorbing life and we were there guiding them one step at a time.

Don’t blink though, you will soon realize that the years have blazed by in a whirlwind of parenthood and those children have become adults and are beginning their own process of creating as we did in perpetual motion.

Alas, the clock stops again, silence.

We sit looking through all the special pictures we have taken and recount the memories of it all, smile a little, cry a little and perhaps laugh as much. The dust is settling, our breath is returning as we regress back to those days of being just us again. Dare we stop and think what just happened, or even consider that we are intact and still the same free willed and spirited teenagers we were so many years ago. The deafening quiet then becomes less noisy and peace settles in, we are still head over heels in love, though more refined in our still free spirited ways.

Just like the pictures we sat among spread all around us in all directions, so too does the energy continue on through our children, their children and on and on. It is all so beautiful, serene and utterly mind blowing to witness and experience, much less the understanding that it all started with us.



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Love and Trust

Love and Trust

Love and Trust

I am incapable of loving or trusting someone whose memories are not my own.

There’s a lot in that statement, perhaps more than one would care to ponder. Needless to say, it raw, it’s real and quite frankly, honest.

My head is full of conspiracy theories and my confidence in the human race is almost nonexistent. I trust few and love even less. Love and trust do not come easy, if at all, and are only come by over time through constant interaction and shared experiences, good, bad or indifferent.

When I do love, I love hard.

My trust in someone is always on trial as my mind is in constant surveillance looking to protect my heart. Though I don’t need to love, much less trust, when I do, it’s forever.

My love and trust are hauntingly curious, always in perpetual need of being in the presence of those it’s attached to. They seek not necessarily just the mind or heart, but the soul, the compilation of true existence where energy, emotion and spirituality combine in the true essence of being.

To love is one thing, to trust is another, but to love and trust [completely] is an entirely different challenge that few can rise to. A journey of a lifetime perhaps, a moment in time worth capturing and holding onto to no end, a chance meeting that cannot be planned for or imagined, it just is.

I have found but one. And while I sought none, there can be no other, indeed it just is.

Did we set it in motion in another time? Did we choose this life? Did life choose us? An inconsequential point, for where there is a beginning there will be an end, but where there is no beginning, there can be no end. Our love and trust is not of this world, though reunited in it, it bares the notion of endless time, memories only of the present, but love eternal. This too shall be a tale of human endeavor in the hereafter.

My heart, mind and soul collided with itself and we became one. Our strengths complement our weaknesses and make us better together than apart. We were lost, never content with the human experience, yet constantly yearning for the unexplained need of our [then] fragmented souls. Once reunited it was obvious, magical, completely surreal and otherworldly. From then on the emptiness expired and fulfillment was set ablaze with open eyes and the unending future of love, trust and experience together, something never anticipated.

A favorite quote that speaks volumes:

“From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.” – Baal Shem Tov



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Keep it Real

Life Happening All Around UsThere are moments that catch our attention, if but for a second, and we stop, eyes wide open and sit in awe. Keep it real, if but for a second, and watch time bend, change and evolve into something entirely foreign to a modern plugged in society.

Life is happening all around us. Some of us embrace it. Some of us are disgusted by it. Some of us are oblivious to it. And, while you can lie to a man’s heart, perhaps even his mind, the soul will know and the truth will be seen. There is something far more majestic than becoming successful in the eyes of the monetary world, indeed there is life in each one of us, life that eagerly awaits time to stand still. It’s hard to watch the world in chaos, so many hurting, so many being taken advantage of and so many people manipulating everything to no end all in the name of supposed freedom and success. At the end of the day we all seem to be slaves to something.

Each year that passes we [MAD] seem to get a little more concrete in our eclectic view of life, if that were possible. A very interesting process, to say the least, of an evolutionary self awareness of two lovestruck teenagers who once sat in class eagerly awaiting the bell to ring so we could see each other in the hall. Now we sit and stare at the same clock waiting for work to end so we can be reunited in like fashion. In time we plan on giving that clock a good funeral so we can tell time with nothing more than the passing of seasons.

This year seems to be special already. Something brewing in the air perhaps. Who knows. We just keep looking deep into each other’s eyes and are more fascinated than ever at who and what we’ve become. Call us rebellious, but we love walking our own road, outside the norm, where we are on the outside looking in and wonder what makes the world the way it is. To each his own we say, all the while perplexed at the gravity of it all. The world seems to be going forward at a shocking pace, no one stopping to think, to listen, to feel.

There are moments that catch our attention, if but for a second, and we stop, eyes wide open and sit in awe. The beauty, the solace and the enduring simplicity of a moment in time that was taken out of the rat race perhaps as a way to stop us in our tracks and remind our souls that there is life in this place. Keep it real and maybe, just maybe, those moments that are always happening will begin to appear and meld their way into the craziness of the day in and day out rituals that we so blindly exist in and, if for just a moment, remind us of who we really are.



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Is Love Even Real?

Is Love Real

MAD Hippies Life Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National ParkWhat the hell is love anyway? How does one find their soul mate? Is love even real?

I’ve seen, read and heard those questions over and over throughout the years and quite honestly have never thought about them myself. I guess I just don’t get it. It’s as if we have turned love into a science instead of the art form that it should be. And, in that case, I’d have to say love is a dying art.

Perhaps people just try too hard to make it happen, when, if you ask me, love is one of those things that just happens. It’s as natural as the human existence.

Debbie and I weren’t looking for love when we met in April of ’82, and, as a matter of fact, weren’t even interested in love, much less a relationship. We were just floating day to day trying to get through some, well, rather interesting times. Needless to say, the day we did meet was a complete shock, we both just wanted to run from each other for fear that what we were feeling would soon take over… and it did.

Not long ago I reminded her how I felt that day,

“You were hauntingly familiar to me when we met. The closer we became the more I felt the sensation that this was not the first time. You were exotic, cosmic and strange, though somehow familiar as your soul, my soul, our soul, was reunited.”

So what is love? Good question. Perhaps it’s an emotional and spiritual collision of body, mind and spirit!

What I do know is that we would die for each other. We’d wipe each other’s butts if needed. We’d live under a bridge to stay together. Love is a connection that solidifies what could be understood as an irrational behavior about decisions to do the right thing at all costs. Love is staying awake all night to take care of your spouse. Love is a safe heart and mind. Love is once and for all.

But don’t ask me, I’ve never loved anyone but Debbie. I didn’t understand it, much less think about it until we met. You could have hit me with a dump truck and I wouldn’t have noticed.

I just knew. Love wasn’t gradual, it didn’t take time to develop, it was and is a natural response waiting to happen when the other half of your soul stands in your presence.

What is love to you?

Peace 🙂


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Living in the Moment Where Memories are Made

Living in the Moment When Memories are Made

Living in the Moment When Memories are Made Living in the Moment Where Memories are Made

OK, maybe I didn’t have some earth shattering headline news event, but around here life happens, it unfolds minute by minute, and every memory is precious to us. Those silly little moments we have that don’t really mean much to most people, if at all, become our greatest life events. Why? Because it’s life, it’s our relationship unfolding one minute at a time, our memories being held close to our hearts about events that only matter to us.

Events that we can look back on years later and still laugh, still smile at one another, still feel the emotion of the moment all over again and continue living in the moment when memories are made, our memories.

Being mindful of our experiences within our relationship is paramount.

Perhaps this is the reason we live day to day, moment by moment, embracing everything as if today were all that we get. Life is short and fragile, take hold of each moment and keep it close. Indeed, all of the [stuff] that you’re supposed to do to make the technicalities of living day to day won’t matter, but all of those memories that we made, embraced and lived in will.

Every day we get up is another opportunity to run head on into living in the moment when memories are made. Without even knowing it, you sit back, soak in the precious space in time, laugh a little, smile a little and embrace a soul warming moment that you know will stick with you forever.

That being said, I had a few realizations this morning that will stick with me, with us, forever. I know it happened, it was real. I felt it. Then I shared it with Debbie and I saw the same reaction in her.

What a precious time for us both to live in the moment when memories are made.

1) Debbie thanked me for watching Anne [with an “E”] of Green Gables, I’m not sure why, I realized I love watching it [and all of the so called romantic comedies that we’ve seen over the years, and now own].

2) I had to laugh at myself when I realized [after questioning Debbie] that it was me that put the toilet paper roll on backwards. Sure, it’s subjective…our tissue rolls over the top!

3) Debbie and I have really been together for 33ish years! We were putting together a photo/video thing of us through the years and it just hit me, again.

Enjoy life! Laugh, love and live in the moment when memories are made.



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