The little girl appeared to be a happy, curious child. The next morning, when the man came in and paid for another night, I didn't think anything about it. But at that moment, looking at the alert, there was no doubt in my mind it was the same man and child that were just across the parking lot from where I was sitting.
I was at school that day, so I wasn't part of the accident, and part of me has always felt some guilt about that. Thankfully, my family survived, but it was a traumatic time for all of us. After hearing about Kershaw's Challenge, I thought about how I could turn the accident into something positive and help other people in the process.
When I look back, I remember vividly the isolation I felt before my prophylactic mastectomy and again, feeling in the extreme minority as I was considering my extraction. I don't want other women to feel alone just because society only shows us one view of the world.
In the state I was in, I don't even know if it was day or night, but I was told later that the police came to find me after being alerted by a close friend who had seen the Facebook post on my timeline. When they arrived, I had a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a knife in the other.
It was time to show ourselves and the outside world the real Logan City and encourage people to stand up and be proud to tell people that we are from Logan-- and not hiding by telling people that we are from "the south side of Brisbane."
This has gone from an exciting project to something beyond our wildest dreams. I love that the joy of this project can be felt by so many friends worldwide. It's like the chateau is reawakening and its energy and positivity is boundless.
No one can say that they don't have a blueprint. They can't say that there are no instructions for this. We work every day to provide the blueprint, to provide the instructions. And although none of us know all the answers, collectively we provide enough to help anyone become and remain successful as a parent.
So I went on Facebook to search for her. I wanted to see if she remembered me and if perhaps there was a chance of reconnecting, if only to say hello and briefly catch up. When I found her, I sent a message describing who I was and asking if she remembered me. She did.
I'm sure they were expecting some guy strung out on drugs. What they found was the power of freedom from active addiction, in all its glorious forms, manifested in me. I looked healthy. I had a job. I had a life. They didn't expect this from me, since before then I had never stayed clean for more than a year.
Kids might not have minded having nine extra days of summer vacation, but many parents like myself were frustrated. Many were confused and wanted to understand what was behind this stalemate that was keeping our schools closed.
Our idea was to take clothes that are not needed anymore and give them to the not so fortunate ones, and to do so by building a unique network all over India. Our basic insight was that we saw a poor delivery mechanism for donations, which lacked efficiency and credibility.
I thought we could bring out a rainbow flag and have a picnic in our backyard. I created an open Facebook event so friends could invite friends, but I only expected about 15 people tops. I had no idea I was about to create the first gay pride event in my hometown of Tahlequah, Okla.
That's when I approached my grandparents about my birth father. My grandma simply stated that she did not know who he was since my mother never told her. As time moved on, I realized my grandparents were the only family I needed, and the questions I had had about my dad faded away.
So, I got an old Fiat seven-seater, half broken down, uncomfortable, with a grumbling engine. I removed all the seats and I assembled a bookstore inside: I named it "Leggiu," which in the Sicilian dialect means "slow." Then I called some independent publishers and got over 30 of them to provide books. And that's how Pianissimo - libri sulla strada, or "Books on the Road," was born: a mobile bookshop that travels around southern Italy with hundreds of books for adults and children.
I watched my daughter lose her hair and her appetite. She was tired and nauseated, experiencing vomiting and weight loss. We lived through what the St. Jude's commercials don't show. Starla was in the hospital for six months with only three short visits home. She went through five rounds of intense chemotherapy, with each round carrying its own set of side effects.
I stayed at CARIH for almost two years. When I was released and sent home, my friends and I exchanged addresses and promised to write, and we did for a while. But people grew up, moved, married and changed their names, and could be impossible to find. Over the years, I wondered what happened to my old friends.
A few years ago, I decided if someone else wasn't going to do something about this void in the market, I would. That is how Divas SnowGear was born. I wanted to make women feel like they have a place in this sport by giving them their very own brand to be proud of.