I had to put it aside for many reasons ones I hope to one day share, but mostly because I can’t write the same. I am no longer her.
But I miss her.
The nightwing her.
Such a crazy thing to say. Considering that girl spent her days and nights in hospitals and was on the brink of mental breakdown daily. But I do. I miss her. She was tuned in. She had clarity about the world and her place in it.
She had the unique opportunity to watch you all run by.
I miss the sit.
I sat. You ran. You played life. I played the sidelines. At times you were all blurry. Moving so fast, but that allowed me to witness the colors.
I watched. I watched. I watched. I watched. For minutes, to hours, to days, to months, to over a year.
The room where I watched even had a name: The Room of Waiting.
You may know it as the waiting room.
You’ve experienced it. We’ve all been in this room. Imagine doing that for 18 months. You get into a rhythm. You can do it in your sleep. Your body becomes one with the chair and I sat.
And, most importantly, learned.
I walked away with a real understanding of humanity, suffering, and love.
I was a student of life. A person searching for the ultimate WHY as only with understanding the why, could I gain control. And all that sitting led me to one lesson: control is only gained by embracing uncertainty.
So I share this with you all on this upcoming holiday, my favorite holiday. Embrace uncertainty. Embrace it.
Don’t wish for “normal” that is a foolish task.
For example, people assume that my life has just gone back to normal.
Life by no means is back to “pre-cancer” as there is no such thing. There will never be “back to normal” you will see.There is no AGAIN. No such thing and expectations should be checked. You will create a new informed normal. One with the weight and the lessons of the past. And it will be better. The weight from the past can make the present feel lighter. That it can. But it can also make you just a bit more fragile so be gentle.
So when wishing in 2021 (thank GOD), don’t throw out 2020. Embrace the lesson that 2020 gave us.
No one is in control.
Embrace the uncertainty and all will be certain.
Wishing you an uncertain 2021 with certainty that you will make it the best.
It is one of the good things that happened this year.
Or rather one of those many hidden miracles in the chaos if you look for them.
And you try. You do.
And those miracles make the chaos sound not just like noise, but music.
Please join us in giving him the “surprise” party he wished to be getting. He’s being amazing about it. He often jokes. “You got to be kidding, last year cancer, this year Covid. You got to be kidding me!”
Sorry for short notice…but so be the ways of 2020. His birthday is today, but saving video for this Sunday.
Boggles me. I understand it in theory, but it doesn’t feel as it is described. I recognize it is measurable, but yet I experience it in intervals that don’t seem to have seconds, minutes, nor hours.
And it bends. Bends to its own whim.
At times it is a standstill. When days go so slowly, you feel captive to its ticks and tocks, but yet you turn your attention away for a second and it flies.
Crazy I tell ya
And I turned my head for only a second, I swear, but WHOOSH!
A whole year, came and went.
Thanksgiving day a year ago
At every turn Nightwing, we celebrate your friendship. You had a place at our Thanksgiving table.
And soon we will celebrate another year milestone. Another big one. Jacob turns 7 on the 3rd of December.
And a year ago this day, time was still.
He spent the day in the hospital. He refused to acknowledge his birthday and it passed (slowly) like all those days did. At the time I wondered if it would ever become December 4th, but here we are a YEAR later.
Jacob’s birthday is soon.
And he is very aware.
“Will I be in the hospital this year?” he asks, which I quickly reply NO and try to distract because I know what is going to be asked next.
“Am I going to have a party? Are all my friends coming?”
We are in lockdown over here. We are not going to celebrate Jacob’s birthday.
But the questions don’t stop as in the hospital as I promised a LARGE party with loads of friends. There I was again making promises, promises. Silly me. I should have known there would be a pandemic! And somehow he now is under the impression that he is getting a surprise party.
So please, help me!
Please help me give Jacob a distant surprise party!
All you need to do is hide in your own house and yell surprise and wish Jacob a happy birthday. That’s it.
And I bet time flies as he watches it, but the good news is we can watch it over and over and make this moment stand still like the others. Make the good last as long as the bad.
Today is a milestone. Today we lose some flair. Shedding flair is something we all should do sometime. Out with the old and in with the new.
Jacob is getting his port out his ultimate cancer flair, his port. No longer will Jacob have an internal device inside his body to allow easy access for injections. This need is no longer. He will still wear his hearing aids which like a tattoo will bind him to this era, but we shed some of it as cancer is feeling more and more past tense.
And this big milestone was topped with a cherry as Jacob also got his scans back and they are NED!
And I sit in the room of waiting and I write this to read it:
This too shall pass.
Whatever the world is going through which feels so crazy, so upsetting, the worst thing ever. You question if the sun will rise. It too will pass.
Just like it did in the room of waiting. Even when the clock seems to stand still. Time still marches and passes. And a year later as I sit here I finally understand this truth.
Its one big fucking mountain. You climb a peak and your like, “Yep. I did it. Only downhill from here and I can see it all! All of it. I see each turn. I see each canyon. I know my future. Heck, I think I’ll even run the entire thing down.”
But no. That never happens.
You just see a canyon with a bigger peak right behind it and the clock for some reason is always ticking.
Is this a race and no one told me? Why do I feel behind?
At least that is what is happening here.
That is what I’m not writing about. I feel so freaking stressed.
So many mountains. And I have someplace to freaking go. But there they are…always showing up. Always. And the roller coster of up and down is exhausting
Steve’s Cancer (up)
Jacob’s Cancer (up up )
Renewed sense of purpose (down )
Jacob struggling with PTSD (up hill)
Benno struggling with his brother (up hill)
Me and my PTSD (up hill)
And Everything is a bit more complicated. Everything a bit more difficult. Every step…right? Just the extra memory needed to grab a mask leaving the door?
Am I right?
I know I am not alone here. I bet you have some mountains too.
And let us NOT forget democracy as we know it is in threat, in danger. ( UP HILL CLIFF)
So that is where I’m at. Climbing that freaking mountain. So freaking stressed about my children, the world, and my work. Just wish something would go right.
Like Jacob going back to school. All he wanted was to go to Avenues. He often said “when cancer is over, I go back to school with my friends.” I get the fierce connection. That was his cancer support group. Avenues was there every step of the way for their friend and student. I was going to homeschool them in isolation, but the idea of Jacob not having peers again, found me moving my entire family to the best opportunity for them that I have ever seen. But Jacob wasn’t ready it seems and now I’m homeschooling again. UP!
And work. I’ve made the decision that we will NOT be opening this Spring. There is no way I am putting students in danger and I do not want to bring harm to the neighborhhoods that our houses will be part of. And the idea of moving to Miami and leaving my children behind for 3 months…that was feeling a bit overwhelming.
And the whining on this end doesn’t stop. And then I realized something…
I have not left the house (no seriously) in over 4 days. Has that happened to anyone else? With not leaving for work everyday, I find myself not leaving. I work from here. Jacob’s school is from here. There is no lack of laundry here.
So I went to put on my shoes to take a walk around the block.
And there is was.
The clues. The writing. The things I write down to remember again.
I even wrote it on my shoes.
There it was.
Starting on this day on a new foot with you at my heal.
A foot that sees mountains as opportunities. Less pity. More climbing.
As a way to thank you Nightwing, I have put aside 30 seats for Nightwing kids out of the 158 students we will accept this December.
This will be the ONLY time I can pull this off. Only this first semester.
But for the pilot I’ve gotten the green light and you, Nightwing, deserve it.
You did this!
Nightwing taught me a BIG lesson. Life comes down to people. Life comes down to community. For most of my career I’ve been obsessed with academics, but no longer. I see that life is bigger. There is no math equation that will help you solve the problems of real life, but there are tools that can make you better equipped.
So Nightwingers…Sol House launches to the public November 5th. With 19+ million online learners bored out of their minds at home or living off campus doing nothing but alcohol and drugs, we will be in demand so I am doing a pre-launch registration for Nightwing friends and family ONLY.
A bit about Miami below…
OUR PROPERTY is located on a resort right in the heart of Miami that is being converted into the coolest campus bubble you can imagine – with Covid testing protocols and facilities to keep you safe. Rather than taking your classes locked inside, why not take them by our palm tree-lined pool? The campus is filled with green space and activities to feed your mind, body and soul; think yoga in the morning, study during day either by the pool or at one of the many coworking labs, and drinks at our on-site bar in the evening. As a startup we have redesigned your traditional housing from the ground up: high speed internet connections, wireless sound systems, and artist-designed installations to encourage creativity (and, sometimes, just to look great on the ‘gram).
Sol House Miami property map below. Right on the Miami River! Minutes away from Winwood, South Beach, Downtown Miami, and Little Havana.
So reader, you know a college aged student or parent of one who is NEEDING support this Spring (especially with Covid, which we will be testing on site!), please send them the following info. Send to your best friend or family member.
Directions: Go to website and put in password below. It will prompt visitor to put in information. This site was just designed for you all. Someone from my team (or even me!) will reach out and invite them to a Nightwing community members zoom call where we walk through Miami Spring semester. Parents and kids can all be on same call. I have even done one for a Nightwinger’s entire sorority house. I’m okay with that, but know that we will only take at most 6 kids from one University.
Sol house is a global network of co-learning/living communities of digital learners from all around the world.
Sol House is the first innovation in higher education in decades. Long overdue, it is a solution designed for the student with an emphasis on choice and high return on investment.
Our houses are composed of learners from all over the world (not just American students) who share a common understanding: transformative learning does not happen between the walls of a classroom, but out there in the real world.
At Sol House
Life is the ultimate teacher.
Sol House Solves: Traditional college education has not evolved for hundreds of years, and yet tuition continues to skyrocket. The average four-year cost of tuition and fees at a public university is over $170 thousand dollars. And yet, six years post-graduation, 50% of students are making less than $27 thousand dollars a year! On top of that, 73% of graduates are not even using their degree after entering the “real world”.
Look at this.
This reality is criminal and the victims are our children.
Just look at medical care, which we all agree is too expensive, but at least we can say the product has changed. Nothing has changed about college except the tuition.
Same old. Read, study, forget, repeat.
Bringing education to the modern age by leveraging advances in the field of education including best practices from the data sciences. We now understand how people learn. In addition, we have loads of data, our graduates. We can pinpoint how we have succeeded and failed in education.
At Sol House it starts by leveraging technology.
On-line education has a lot to offer. For the first time since the industrial revolution we are seeing education return to its original promise, a better life. Education is beginning to give the gift of social mobility between social classes again. It is truly beautiful to watch. Education can again be a path of access, which has not been the case for the past decades where the cost of the degree was more than the market value. Shackling our future leaders in debt.
We are also seeing an education revolution with the private sector entering and challenging higher education, which has failed them as well. Employers do not feel that University graduates have the skills to do the job. Google’s online certification degrees is a great example. For 3 months on Coursera you can be certified from Google and they value that degree at the same level (if not higher) than your 4 year degree from MIT. That is $300 versus $296,000+. This is a HUGE moment in education. Google is not alone though. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc have embraced online education to reach the masses. You can take The Science of Wellbeing, the most popular course at Yale, online for FREE.
Students have access to the best experts in the field with online learning at a fraction of the cost.
Can I get an AMEN?
Therefore, at Sol-House we welcome ALL digital learners. We welcome the online Harvard student as well as the online Google student. We also welcome the lost SOL who may be unsure of their next steps by helping them find FREE incredible courses to dabble in before investing 100,000s on a degree that research says they most likely will not use.
However, one thing we all know is that online is NOT the solution as the REAL value of higher education (research speaking) is the network, the people. Its true. Think back to your college days. What have you taken away from it that to this day still returns value? Answer: access, people.
Always comes down to people.
So while online education is a beautiful thing, it is not the sole solution. We need to invest in our youth, the next future generation, and allow them to find purpose, confidence, and independence. We need to incubate our youth into change makers and that is what we do at Sol House. We honor the soul for all of our sols.
Thus, we created Sol House to fill all the gaps currently not addressed in online education (the meta-skills: collaboration, critical thinking, communication, etc) AND what has never been addressed in campus education (mindfulness, life skills, connection, personal journey, confidence, diversity in practice, etc).
See how different we are below.
Let’s play a game…would you rather?
Would you rather learn at an artificial city made for youth with an emphasis on beer kegs or at a community of learners in the real world?
There is nothing real world about a college campus and at Sol-House we wonder if that is why so many students fail to “launch” into real life.
Shhh….Little secret campuses are designed to “box” students in and this is on purpose. Without capturing student’s food and beverages services most colleges would go bankrupt. At Sol-House our houses are in locations that inspire. We modeled our houses to not need to capture F&B. We want our students OUT, not in, discovering themselves and pushing their boundaries.
Woud you rather sit in rows or in spaces that inspire?
Our classrooms resemble more of real life working situations. We have yet to see a workspace with rows of desks. This is the future. Let’s bring education up to speed.
Would you rather live in a dorm or in Talum (pic on the right)?
Average room and board at a college is $15,000, but what value do you get? A room with a bed on cinder blocks.
At Sol House you get much more. You get a home away from home. A community of learners all eager to explore the world and make impact. You get the opportunity to travel all around the world at all the Sol Houses. You get to be part of the next generation of change makers. At Sol House you also get 1:1 life coaching, on-site internship opportunities making impact in the world, breakfast, Sunday dinner, life Hacks curriculum, and access to our Sol House programming that includes yoga, cooking classes, speaker series, and more!
We believe you deserve that. We need this generation to succeed. We are invested in our students. At Sol House we believe that Gen Z will be instrumental in the future of our planet. We are all IN!
Would you rather spend your savings or keep them? Oh and remember you will be living much longer than ever imagined. This is incredible, but you will need more spending cash than you ever imagined. Not quite sure? Ask the baby boom generation parents. They can tell you all about it.
The research is clear, the long term return on investment in higher education, is less about credit and more about the experience/ the people/ the transformative moments (going abroad) and really the access..
I’ve always said the value of higher education is 10% classroom / 90% quad.
We believe this is where a student should put their money. Living aborad is the most transformative experience in education. Ask anyone who studied aborad. It will be the most valued experience. So put your dollars there. Credits will get cheaper. Leverage all of the free content and GO LIVE and leverage technology to do it.
Would you rather have your child possibly fail or send them to a place that invests and values mental health?
The data coming out of higher education is disturbing (to say the least). Universities are overwhelmed by the mental health issues on their campuses. They are first to admit their failure, but yet no plans to change it. Mental health concerns is now the second most common reasons students drop out of college (number one in high socio-economic classes).
At Sol House we believe much of the mental health issues happening on campus is due to lack of connection and students not having an adult to go to. We are committed to changing this narrative. Each Sol at Sol House gets 1:1 life coaching, an adult who is dedicated to their success. In addition, our on campus curriculum is dedicated to mindfulness and giving students tools to identify stress and alleviate it through our programming and speaker series.
Would you rather find your people in the crowd or know that you are not in a crowd, but a family?
Colleges are first to share their statistics on their incredible diversity. Often boasting statistics that do impress, but the truth is that college communities are some of the most segregated communities in the United States. Students self-segregate.
As Sol House is designed by data scientists, we are committed to limiting enrollment at every Sol House. It is human nature to break into smaller groups when confronted with large numbers. Especially when this is the first time someone is away from home, it is only natural they will seek those that look and speak like them.
But the result is our youth is being incubated in a culture of “us” versus “them.” We are not surprised by the racial conflict in this country as we raise our youth in silos. At Sol House we will have true diversity. Diversity That no university has ever seen. Diversity in practice!
Would you rather get the degree or get the degree, self confidence, life purpose, life skills and critical thinking?
Sol House was founded and created by educators. Therefore, Sol House has its own on-site curriculum developed to fill the gaps that currently education does not address. Life Hacks which is taught every Sunday night teaches all the skills students will need for lifetime success from financial literacy, basic contract law (they need to be able to read that first housing lease!), cyber security and more.
However, the core of Sol House is our IMPACT CHALLENGE work. We are invested in created change makers and know that to do that, we need our students out there in the real world making impact. Utilizing local partnerships, students have internship opportunities to make a difference. Each House has a different impact lens, but all are designed to teach the 21st most critical skills for the new economy: Critical thinking, collaboration, data analytics, and communication. All impact challenge work is also group work as working with others is critical to development and not well addressed in online learning.
We have a saying at Sol House- HEADS UP, NOT DOWN. SO much of education has our students with their heads down. Learning is an active process. This is now fact. Scientifically proven fact, but yet our universities still teach the same way. We learn from doing and that is exactly what Sols do in our impact challenge curriculum. They are out in the world meeting with local government leaders, pitching business concepts, ideating on local solutions for global problems. They are DOING it, not studying it.
I have been wanting to tell you for a long time. And this is due to you, Nightwing. Thank you for helping me find my purpose.
There are no such things as coincidences. Nope. None. That can be hard to understand especially when those coincidences are negative like two rare cancers hitting a family in less than 6 months. But take this lesson seriously. When you have that moment “wow! That was weird” know that there was nothing weird about it. That was supposed to happen, but it is your choice to listen. Listen.
Everything should be expected. “To be expected” was a phrase that used to bring me to my knees. It was a favorite utterance at the hospital. To be expected is a just a catch all term to describe the truth of reality, that no one really knows. No one knows. Not your teacher. Not your mother. Not your doctor. No one really knows. And understanding that, is your first step to listening to who does.
Which leads me to the ultimate lesson one that was the hardest for me to understand as if there is one thing I am, its an excellent teacher. Proud of my knowledge of the brain, motivation, and mastery. Heck I am an educator. If anything I know, it is how to educate, but there is only one true educator, LIFE.
And its lessons will be right there when you need them. You may think they are TOO much. You may think they are TOO inconvenient, but that is not true. It is life saying STOP. Listen to this moment. Forget the rest.
And I’m going to spend the rest of my life helping others understand these lessons. That life is a ride and there is no course that will get you through it, but there are tools and most importantly, there is community.
There are Nightwings in every corner of this earth.
Welcome to the student of life movement.
Welcome to us finally putting as much effort into the human as to the studies.
And here is the REAL FACT that the value of education is not the credits, but the people, the network, and the opportunity to do. The opportunity to make/ explore, not study.
There is truly nothing like it and as someone who has been to 52 countries I feel semi equipped to say that.
I ❤️ New York
While very proud of my mid western roots, I do strongly believe that everyone should live at least one year in New York. It should be a rite of passage. You are not whole until you let New York beat you up. It beats up all of your “knowns.” It makes you question. It is the place to get lost to then be found.
Required I say. Required!
So I’m proud to be a New Yorker, but this year I will be sitting from the sidelines due to my job. I need to be close to my team that is based in Long Island.
I can’t believe I’m saying this. I am moving to Long Island for the year. (I just vomited a bit)
SO if you have not done your mandatory NYC living, this could be your moment as we are looking for someone to take our baby (our apartment) for a year.
This is not easy. Especially because I LOVE our apartment which has been my home for 15 years. I have yet to have apartment envy as my apartment is uniquely New York. Nestled in Soho, it is pre-war with 16 ft ceilings and a real community. My neighbors are some of our closest friends. Truly special people.
Therefore, I’m reaching out to my Nightwing Community first. We are renting our apartment and I want someone to love it. This is a DREAM Covid apartment. I can speak whole heartedly to this as I hunkered here for over a year. The apartment has a movie theater, gym, playroom, currently configured for 2 bedrooms (but can be three-four bedroom easily), outdoor space (with overhead heaters! We sit there all winter long), AND contactless entry (first floor, no elevator fears!). It is 4 floors too, so you can create space within it. There is no reason to ever leave and all the best food options deliver here.
But what it really needs is KIDS. This apartment is perfect for a family. The boys’ room (which is boat themed, of course) has lofted full size beds, “offices” underneath and loads of play space.
As you know this year we have collected a lot of stuff. Some of it from you! There are boxes and boxes of toys begging to be played with. In addition, we live next to the “key” park, a playground run by NYU for its faculty’s children and it’s awesome, but only available to people in the neighborhood. We have that key!
But PLEASE play with these toys someone!
Okay…Steve won’t let me share any more photos out of concern of a security risk so please send people my way if they are interested.
But let them know there is one REAL condition (just one!).
One of our favorite things to do in this apartment is to cozy up outside and open a bottle of wine. While we talk we write down topics that we “google.” This blackboard wall has become our learning board. We hope you, future renter, can continue this ritual.
We got it ready for you. I share this video of us washing away our board to make room for yours, because it makes me smile. Sometimes it is the little pleasures in life like power washing that make your day, lol. Steve just found his form of mediation!
We will leave some chalk.
Looking for someone family to join our family and create incredible memories!