Many Mother’s Day

What does it mean to have three incredible mothers in my life? What is the impact of seeing motherhood lived out day in and day out? What is the alternate of this? The impact of a horrible mother, the effects of a neglectful, unloving, absent mother? The scars left by an abusive, overbearing, and insulting mother? This day, like Christmas, Father’s Day, or birthdays, can be a reminder of something we’d rather forget. The pain that is drudged up by the annual forced reminder of this person’s presence, or lack there of, can be more than they would like to deal with. Continue reading “Many Mother’s Day”

How Moving my Life to New Zealand for 3 years Changed Me

I came to change New Zealand. After 3 years, New Zealand changed me. Cliche I know, but this ended up being the truth.

This post has been written over the past 18 months. My thoughts, my observations, and my feelings have obviously morphed along the way, but let’s just start at the beginning.

With 50lbs of luggage, a working knowledge of left hand driving, and one solid contact, I packed up what I owned and moved my life to New Zealand. I kissed my parents, hugged my niece, wished my siblings well, and flew. In my luggage was an optimistic, slightly naive, monstrously unrealistic idea that I was going to get a job, in my field, in the first few months. With…one…solid…contact. Yeah. Right. Continue reading “How Moving my Life to New Zealand for 3 years Changed Me”


Well, it’s that time of the year again where I celebrate something that New Zealanders do not. Thanksgiving is such a huge part of my childhood. Growing up in my family, Thanksgiving consisted of giant family dinner’s, complete with all the relatives, smells of stuffing, green bean casserole, and turkey, catching up on a years worth of activity with aunts, uncles, and cousins, playing football in the backyard, kids running around the floor and into the basement, and either Detroit or Dallas playing on the TV. Also there is laughter…so much laughter. My family is a laughing family. We indulge in a good story, embellish for the chuckle, and deliver for the howl that resonates our walls. Usually we end the night with a board game, which my Dad does not like. Still, it’s a tradition to play one every year.

I love my family. This has to be said. I miss them like crazy and I know that they miss me too. They are the most caring, loving, thoughtful, hilarious, wacky, and joyful group of people that I know. If you’ve spent any time with a Peterson, Birkey, or Soraich, you would know. You would know because our family is one of a kind. They have supported me through thick and thicker, and I have been blessed beyond what I deserve when I was raised by Sharon and Russ Peterson. As a kid I always wanted a brother, but I now know the true gift in growing up with two sisters. For one, I have been exposed to the…rougher sides of living with women, haha. But in all seriousness, I am thankful that Robyn and Nicole have been there, no matter what, encouraging me through school, through moving, and through distance. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I love you so much. I am thankful for family that doesn’t change, regardless of the miles in-between.

Such solid memories were made in those years when we all got together to eat, talk, laugh, and reminisce. They were happy times which I take with me everywhere I go, no matter the distance. It’s in times like these that traditions hit me the hardest. I know that this year will be different, just like the last. There’s nothing I can really do about that, other than making new traditions. Life moves and turns and grows when we’re not looking. Don’t blink. Which is why I am thankful for the now. I’m thankful for my flatmates, friends, and mentors who are making it easier for me here, now.

Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving where you are, don’t let that get in the way. I started a tradition with some friends a few years back called “Friendsgiving,” where we gather to give thanks as friends and enjoy a meal, conversation, and each other. Make it happen where you are and remind each other that you still have things in this life that are worth noting and worth saying, “I am thankful for you.”

If you feel like it, let me know what you are thankful for in the comments and why. Share it around and spread the cheer. And thanks to everyone giving. You are the backbone of altruism and the human spirit. I love you and thank you.

Here’s a typical Thanksgiving night in the Peterson household:

Twice an Uncle

Well, I write about all things my life, and this is more of an expression of happiness than anything because my younger sister just had a beautiful baby boy! I received the news while riding in the car, coming back from helping a friend pack up his catamaran in Holland, MI.

I have to say with honesty that I have general reservations with not being at the hospital for either of my niece or nephews births. When Elisia was born, I was working at a summer camp that refused to allow me to leave, even to see her overnight when the camp was sleeping. Needless to say, I was pretty angry about that. Now, with Cohen’s birth, the plan was to motor over to Naperville, IL as soon as I hear she was in labor. Luckily, she went into labor on my day off from work. Still, with complications in my living in Grand Rapids, I had planned to move back home on the 3rd of November. With the birth happening four days before I move, it didn’t seem practical to leave come back and then leave again. Even though I get the suport of my family and friends that a four day old baby is the same as an hour old baby, I wasn’t there…and I hate that.

And yet, when I received the text:

“dude…your nephew abides. Cohen Monroe Birkey. Booyah!”

I couldn’t help but notice how fast all my reservations left me. I became immediately happy and purely joyous. Bliss was filling inside of me like water without enough room in the bottle, spilling over the top. I couldn’t help break a smile, which turned into my laugh, which turned into a compelling urge to call Noel and Robyn. I called Noel, and congratulated him on the birth of his son. I couldn’t hold back the emotional tidal wave that was crashing over me. I was so incredibly happy for these two amazing people, sibling and bro in law. I was jumping in my car, laughing, pumping some seriously infectious music, and thanking God for this perfect moment in time.

Even though I was not able to be there for the birth of my nephew or niece, I feel confident that the love they felt when they came into this world could not be matched. Welcome to the greatest family I have ever known, Cohen, the boy born from The Beauty and the Beard.