Author

Lisa Speers

Browsing

“You’re posting all these stories about empty-nesting, and I haven’t even gone back to school yet—you aren’t really empty-nesters,” joked my twenty-one-year-old son.

As if I wasn’t already suffering from imposter syndrome as a want-to-be-blogger. Now, I was being called out by my own kid—for my ‘𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝘁𝘆 𝗲𝗻𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵.’

“Well, your sister is fifteen-hundred miles away, doesn’t that count for something?” I tossed back. (I can’t believe I am actually having to justify whether or not I can call myself an ’empty-nester.’)

“Not really,” he shook his head, not giving an inch, “and then there will always be John…”

“Yes, that may be true,” I agreed. John is our twenty-four-year-old son who has autism and still lives with us. He does not want to move out, and we love having him here, so it’s a win-win.

However, at times I do feel like we have a renter upstairs. John has a busy life with work and daily activities, so when he’s home, he likes to retreat to the peace and quiet of his ‘apartment’—“No Visitors Allowed.”

So maybe by some standard, we at least qualify as ‘quasi empty-nesters’?

All joking aside, this is a new season for us, with our youngest having just left for college—I know it is a new chapter in many of your lives as well. For most of us, there have been years of these little bursts of energy swirling through our lives, our homes, and most importantly, our hearts. So after the whirlwind of laughter, late-night snacking, football, soccer and basketball games, tennis matches, and band practice subside, there is most definitely…a void.

Of course, they’ll be back for the holidays—thank goodness. For turkey and stuffing smothered in grandma’s special gravy, their favorite apple pie, and opening gifts on Christmas morning. Sure it’s a magical time, but it’s still not the same as when they lived under our roofs full-time…(insert ‘a sigh’ here.)

Fortunately, in an effort to help me prepare for this new chapter in my life, my mother gifted me with a golden piece of advice a few years ago. She told me to “find something you would like to try, or you would love to do and get started BEFORE your youngest leaves for college.”

And, so I did that just that when I launched this blog, I Do Part Two—Empty Nesting & More, about two years ago. Maybe for you, it’s not about writing or blogging or podcasting, but I hope you will see this time in your life as a chance to try something you’ve always wanted to do. Now, is a great time to rediscover interests you may have set aside while you were raising kids.

Ask yourself–

What did you use to like to do?

What do people ask you to get involved in or compliment you on?

What kinds of books, podcasts, and activities do you gravitate towards?

What lights you up?

What leaves you drained?

“Listen to the whispers,” a friend tells me, because everything you do or decide not to do, is leaving you clues.

I truly believe if we stay open to the possibilities, this season in our lives can be a time of amazing growth, new connections, and beautiful opportunities. The world is waiting-you are never too old, and it’s never too late—to discover who you were truly meant to be.

P.S. Just for the record, my son is back on campus. Maybe now, we can officially call ourselves ‘quasi empty-nesters.’

Two birds in nest

Shortly after saying a tearful goodbye to our daughter on a campus far away, her older brother decided to join my husband and me for a few days of golf, paddle boarding, and relaxing at our cabin in the mountains.

As parents, these are the moments we breathe into with gratitude—when time blesses our hearts.

Soon he will be headed off to school as well, but thankfully at a college less than an hour away. He is close enough to golf 9-holes with us in an afternoon, then grab a bite together, and still make it back to campus in time to hang with his friends for the evening.

As our adult children spread their wings, many parents, like us, are finding unique ways to stay connected with their kids.

Our oldest son, who has autism, has chosen to continue to live with us, and we feel truly blessed. We’ve turned the upstairs into “his apartment.” When we are all home, he comes downstairs to tells us “he loves us,” and heads back up to his sanctuary. Fortunately, he’s very independent and loves his daily routine of work and activities, which keeps him fulfilled and engaged.

I saved the best of our ‘𝘴𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘵𝘺 𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘵’ for last—my husband.

We. Are. Still. Here. Together.

We built this nest, and we are looking at this next phase as an exciting opportunity—rather than an empty one. We have been intentional about what we would like the next few years to look like, and are excited to experience this new chapter as it unfolds.

We are looking forward to more spontaneous outings, dinner with friends, and a renewed intimacy. We also know, just as we become accustomed to living with two fewer bodies in the house, the holidays will be upon us, and we’ll all be together again.

And isn’t that what is really important? It doesn’t matter if we are all ‘home’ in the same nest or not. We are a family because of our love for each other and because we choose to stay connected no matter where we all live. And that is the kind of nest that will never be empty.

“𝙈𝙮 𝙝𝙪𝙨𝙗𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙡𝙬𝙖𝙮𝙨 𝙬𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙨 𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙮, 𝙗𝙪𝙩 𝙄’𝙢 𝙩𝙚𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙗𝙡𝙚, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙄 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙠 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙚𝙭𝙝𝙖𝙪𝙨𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜.” DM’d a reader after I posted a picture about having fun golfing with my husband and some good friends one evening.

Having successfully avoided playing golf for the first 40-some years of my life, asking if, “I really enjoy golf?” Does beg the question.

And the answer is, “Yes—kinda.”

The real reason I golf is because my family golfs. My husband LOVES to golf. Many of my friends play golf. It’s all about connections and a chance to laugh and play together.

Father son golfing
Father and son golfing

My husband told me years ago one of the things he “would like more than anything is if I would learn to play golf well enough to enjoy it with him.” 𝙃𝙤𝙬 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙨𝙖𝙮 𝙣𝙤 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩?

Well, I did actually—when the kids were little. The thought of getting a sitter for 4-hours (to play golf) was not on my radar. Even when my husband surprised me with clubs one Christmas years ago, he could not get me out of the course except on a rare occasion.

Today, things are different. The kids are older; they can all fend for themselves, and I want to find ways to spend time with my husband—so I golf. If my husband and kids are going to golf for a few hours and they have asked me to join them—and I choose not to—that’s my loss.

My twenty-something son golfs and our daughter, when she’s home from school, is willing to drive around in the cart with me. It’s a win-win. I get to spend all afternoon with my husband and adult kids, and then we typically enjoy dinner afterward. What a blessing!

The reality is I am not that great of a golfer, but I am learning, and I get a little less frustrated playing the game today than I did have a year or so ago.

Do you know what I do when I’ve swung my club way too many times trying to get that little ball down the course? I pick it up and throw it. It’s called keeping up with the ‘Pace of Play’ so I am not frustrating everyone around me by playing too slow. Whatever works…

I hope by sharing this with you, it will encourage you to try something new. Consider an activity with your spouse, kids, or friends, even if you are worried you might not like it or you won’t be any good. For me, it’s more about creating memories with those I love than whether ‘I really like playing golf or not.’

“I’ve learned…that it’s not what I have in my life, but who I do life with that counts.”-Unknown

My parents, Richard and Susan Reinhart, on their wedding day—1962

Who could have known you would play a pivotal role in an almost 60-year love affair that’s produced 6 children, 6 sons or daughters-in-law, and 13 grandchildren. Goodness, if you hadn’t been at the party that night, I wouldn’t even be here to tell this story…

It was the spring of 1961. Think Mad Men. Dark, single-breasted suit jackets with narrow notch lapels. Crisp white dress shirts, dark ties, and matching slim pants, complete with wingtip dress shoes. 

It was the launch of a new season for Jantzen Sportswear. An iconic clothing and swimwear company and Jantzen spared no expense. As all the salespeople were men, who else would they invite to a new clothing launch at the then renowned Heer’s department store in Springfield, Missouri? None other than the lovely, Miss Missouri.

Fresh out of the Air Force, my dad was eager to start his career as a newly minted Jantzen sales rep—he also was keen on ‘meeting special someone’ who would eventually share his life. Walking into the pre-launch party that evening, my dad had every intention of meeting Miss Missouri. 

The icon Jantzen “Diving Girl”

He spotted her across the room and nonchalantly worked his way in her direction. Looking very Sophia Loren meets Annette Funicello…dark hair, captivatingly-sexy brown eyes, and a figure any woman of the day would envy–my dad made his approach. Minutes into their small talk, he realized this “gorgeous woman” was one of Jantzen’s few female marketing representatives at the time. At that moment, he no longer cared if Miss Missouri was even in attendance. 

Little did he know he would travel all the way from Furstenfeldbruck Air Force base in Germany to Missouri via Oregon only to meet a beautiful woman who had grown up down the street from him in Portland.

There was just one little problem…she had an engagement ring on her finger.

As dad has often recounted, “She wasn’t married yet.” 

So he asked my mother for dinner the next evening…and she accepted. (Which was a little scandalous if I do say so myself.) They both recall having “such a lovely time.” When my dad took her back to the hotel, he made sure to walk her all-the-way-to-her-door. Ironically, in the ultimate plot twist, Jantzen had set my mom up to room with no other than—drum roll please—Miss Missouri.

My dad shrugs dismissively whenever I bring up what it was like to finally meet Miss Missouri? “Well, she wasn’t as good-looking as your mother, that’s for sure.”

Not wanting the date to end and knowing my mother was a devout Catholic, this dapper protestant asked my mom to Mass the next morning…and then to lunch. “I wanted to spend more time with her, and I knew she would want to go to church on Sunday. So, I asked if I could escort her to Mass,” my dad explained with a wink of his eye.

The next day, my mom flew back to Portland, Oregon, with a lot on her mind. For starters, what to do about a fiance. “Such a nice man,” my mom recalls whenever the story surfaces.

A week or so later, my dad flew back to Portland and asked my mom out to dinner—on one condition—she not wear her engagement ring. 

In a daring move, my mom took her engagement ring to the jewelry store to be cleaned, and when the jeweler said, “it would only take a few minutes,” my mom replied, “No worries, I’ll pick it up in the morning.” 

Needless to say, my mom called off her engagement a few days later, and this week my parents celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary—and the rest is history.

-Dear Miss Missouri, thank you. I’m sure you are a beautiful woman, and I hope you have lived a happy life, but still, I’m grateful it wasn’t you who caught my dad’s eye across a crowded room in the spring of ’61. 

Happy 59th wedding anniversary!

With love, your daughter, Lisa (Reinhart) Speers

A few short weeks ago, our daughter was graduating from high school. This morning, we flew her halfway across the country to begin her freshman year in college. Her older brother came out of his room to say goodbye, singing, “Leavin’ on a jet plane, don’t know when you’ll be back again…” We laughed. It cut the tension we were all feeling.

I woke early. My husband said I snored so he 𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 kicked me all night. I’m surprised I slept so deeply. Ugh—I’ll have to start using my automated snore pillow again. 

Welcome to midlife!

As I hurried around the house before everyone got up, trying to clean up for ‘who knows why’ while we’re gone, all I could think about is how messy my closets are.

How did they get so unorganized? Why didn’t I organize them when we were in lockdown? I had all that time, and I didn’t get anything cleaned or organized. 𝘕𝘰 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘦 𝘒𝘰𝘯𝘥𝘰-𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘮𝘦.

I know what I am doing—I am avoiding “it.” 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘢 𝘱𝘳𝘰 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴.

I’m avoiding thinking about the giant void my daughter leaves behind. The one filled with infectious laughter and the funny, contorted faces she makes when she springs to life 𝙬𝙖𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙤 𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙖𝙩 𝙣𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩.

And the other void where she enters a room at full stride—in mid-sentence—spilling the latest tea. She hates it when I need her to back it up a little, rewind. “Mom, I already told you about so and so…” 𝐼 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤, 𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑚𝑒 𝑎𝑔𝑎𝑖𝑛, 𝐼 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑦𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓.

Noise and commotion also have a way of filling up spaces. My daughter’s girlfriends came over last night to wish her well and keep her company while she packed. I could hear them laughing and stomping up and down the stairs as they helped her load everything into the car for our early morning departure.

Then she yelled, “We’re headed to Taco Bell.” Laughter, chatter, and patter of feet shuffled out the door—then silence. 𝘋𝘦𝘢𝘧𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦.

This is how it will be, quieter, for a while anyway.

Her two brothers are still at home. They will easily fill some of the spaces she has left behind. Their friends will come over, and jokes and laughter will fill the air—the TV will inevitably drone on.

The boys each have their own unique way of filling the spaces in our home. It will be comforting to have them home for at least a few more weeks.

But there are some spaces only a daughter, our only daughter, can fill. The space where she’ll let me hold her when she’s sad and hug her until she pulls away with a snarky, “Okay, now, Mom.” As if I didn’t know I was holding her just past ‘comfortable’ on her hug-o-meter.

It’s a good thing she picked Texas. Texas is a big state with lots of open space—she’s going to need all of it. I can’t wait to hear about all the people she meets, the subjects she studies, and the places she goes.

Facetime, family-group texting, and eagerly awaited phone calls will bridge some of the space between us.

She’ll come home for the holidays. Her laughter will again fill the house. From experience with her older brother coming home from college, I know that some spaces will be forever changed. Still, new and exciting dimensions will continue to be added.

There is no holding her back, even if I wanted to—which I don’t. The world is a big place, and I’m excited to watch how she chooses to fill up her own unique spaces in her life.

With much love to our daughter, Mom XOXO

Salamander Spa—Terrace Yoga at Innisbrook Golf Resort

You are invited to the Meant For More Weekend November 12th to the 14th at the deluxe Innisbrook Resort Golf & Spa Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida

You deserve to be a Guest of Honor. So invest in yourself and spend a couple of days luxuriating in a deluxe hotel with no partners, pets, children nor parents.

Enjoy making connections with our experts who share what they’ve learned and how they did it.  Engage in hands-on workshops and participate in intimate open and honest conversations about things we all have in common.  Acquire tools to make impactful changes and leave with a renewed sense of self.  Be inspired for what’s next.

For three days and two nights, focus on YOU!  Practice yoga.  Sit by the pool.  Put your feet up. Eat something you didn’t cook.  Learn new skills.  Make time to think about your life personally and professionally by stepping out to see where you are and what you need. Stop knowing and start doing,  November 12 to 14 in Palm Harbor Florida with the Meant for More weekend.

Meant For More is an inclusive community for women ready to build relationships and create opportunities that positively impact their personal and professional lives.

Kristen Coffield, The Culinary Cure/Holly Parker, Turn Your Pain into Petrol/ Julie Moran—You Can Have It All, Just Not at the Same Time.

Like a kaleidoscope, our roles are ever-evolving and have many facets – daughter, sibling, spouse, mother, friend, partner, professional – which are beautiful and complicated.

We peer into a kaleidoscope, and the facets form something exciting and unique. Shake the kaleidoscope, look again, and a completely new vision is created.

Meant for More embodies the kaleidoscopic nature of our lives. When we hold our lives to the light and look at the pieces, we see infinite possibilities and know we are Meant for More.

Tickets go on sale July 16th and will be limited to the first 150 guests. Click here to access all the information you need to join us!

https://fearlesslyfacingfifty.com/meantformore/

This is just a sampling of the women who will be speaking at the conference—

Lisa Speers of I Do Part Two and Jack Perez of Kuel Life
Angie Johnsey, How to Tidy Your Mind/Mary Poorman, Building Stronger Minds and Bodies/Dr. Joan Neehall, Activate Your Happiness Control Panel

Lisa Reinhart-Speers at 50-something…

I am turning 50-something…

I am grateful.

I am energized.

And I am optimistic.

I’ve been slowly unraveling lately—letting go. 

Letting go of the illusion of perfection.

When did I adopt this mindset—this burden—and why have I been carrying it around for so long? I’m not sure, but it has become too heavy to lug around any longer.

I feel lighter now. 

I was always striving for what I can now see was an unattainable goal. For years, I’ve been waking up every morning thinking about all the things I didn’t check off my to-do list from the day before, or how I ate too many carbs and didn’t get in enough steps. I’ve allowed that pesky, small voice to whisper in a hundred different ways, “You are not enough.”

I am done. I’m letting go of all this negative self-talk. Finally realizing that I can do great things, just not all at the same time.

I’ll get done what I can today; the rest can wait till tomorrow. I am exercising for me—not to count steps and then feel crappy because I didn’t walk 10,000 steps. I’m flipping the switch. I want to walk those steps to stay healthy, feel better, and to keep up with my active family.

I’m grabbing hold of my life. 

I’m waking up grateful to be alive, healthy, and excited to be here—in the now.

Of course, I still need my caffeine-fix to get going, and some mornings my joints ache. I still have tough days that suck the life out of me, but I am also starting to listen to a kinder voice that has grown loud enough not to ignore. 

It’s gently urging me—You got this! While graciously reminding me that time is precious. Time has a beautiful way of showing us all what really matters. 

I have known this all along, we all know it, but it’s hard to wrap our minds around. We always feel we’ll have more time. Some of us will, but sadly, some of us will not.

So, I’m pursuing my passions and discovering new outlets for my creativity. I look forward to traveling and exploring places I’ve never been—I am excited for the world to open up again.

I am also grabbing hold of my 29-year marriage. I love my husband more passionately and with more depth than I ever thought possible. I didn’t know I could love him more today than twenty-plus years ago. 

We’re focusing on creating more intimacy in areas of our relationship that might have been a bit neglected while we were raising our kids. We are also more mindful of how we communicate our wants, needs, and desires with each other. 

We’re envisioning what the next phase of life might look like as our youngest heads off to college. We are asking ourselves, “how do we want to ‘fill our nest’? Especially since our nest might look slightly different as our oldest son, who has autism, will continue to live with us. We know that sometimes it may be just my husband and me, but there will be three of us more often than not.

We are also considering with whom we want to spend our precious time? This is an important question. Of course, we hope our two adult children will continue to come home to visit, and they are always welcome to stay awhile. We miss not always being together.

We enjoy spending time with family and friends who support one another and lift each other up. This is what makes life interesting—deep conversations around topics that really matter. We don’t always get to see our friends and family who are scattered across the country, but that only makes getting together so much sweeter.

Turning fifty-something has been surprisingly good to me. I’m enjoying this unraveling of sorts—this letting go—while still holding on tight to what’s really important to me.

“I want you to listen, really listen to me.”I want to be heard.

“You shouldn’t feel that way.”I want to be validated.

“You never support me in front of your friends”I want to be protected.

One of the most common messages we receive at I Do Part Two is the desire to feel validated. If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. Validation is one of the most important tools of communication in marriage. It allows you to support your spouse, even when you disagree. 

A good example of validating your spouse’s feelings would be to put away your device when they’re talking—listen to understand what they are saying from their point-of-view.

A friend was sharing with her husband about a disagreement she had with a co-worker and he replied, “What did you do to set her off?” This would be an example of not validating your partner’s feelings.

Our feelings are like a personal alert system—they aren’t right or wrong. They reflect our thoughts, experiences, and perceptions. They help us to understand how we are feeling about a conversation or an interaction with our partner. The Gottman Institute, a highly regarded licensed counseling group, points out that when our partner ignores or dismisses our feelings, “it is a form of relational trauma which, over time, harms the brain and nervous system.”

Where does this lack of empathy come from? For many of us, it’s just not in our natural wiring. And it may go way back—possible before our earliest tangible memory. As children, we may have also learned to not “talk back” to our elders, not to make too much noise, or not to bother anyone while they’re reading, cooking, or working on a project. 

Maybe you watched as one parent berated the other parent or an older sibling, and the message formed loud and clear in your growing brain, “Don’t speak up, stay small, and by all means—don’t share your feelings.”

How would you know how to show empathy and validate others’ feelings if it was never modeled for you?

Awareness: Simply recognizing that this is an issue for you and acknowledging your willingness to work on it is the first step. Experts recommend individual and couples counseling, reading books on the topic, and working on listening to understand from your partner’s perspective. Also, I would add, let them know you love and care about them, and you do not want them to feel invalidated anymore.

The Gottman Institute recommends three steps toward healing: (but friends, this will take some time.)

  1. Atone: Apologizing and asking for forgiveness is crucial; it is a practice that heals ourselves and others—again and again.
  2. Attune: This means listening, perhaps for the very first time and seeing the situation “through their eyes.” When we are really listening for understanding, we’re able to share someone else’s story from their perspective. 
  3. Attachment: If your partner is there for you and has your back, you will feel secure in your attachment to them. The closeness creates a deeper bond where trust and commitment can flourish. 

The Gottman Institute (and I paraphrase), recommends committing to repeatedly working to Atone, Attune and Attach on an ongoing basis. In other words:

  • Apologize when you are in the wrong
  • Listen to your partner and understand from their point-of-view
  • Validate your partner’s concerns, they will feel more secure.

If this story resonated with you, it’s either because you have felt “unheard” or realize you have some work to do. Friends, it’s never too late to work on your relationship skills and say you are sorry. Learning how to empathize and validate another’s feelings is probably one of the most powerful relationship skills most of us were never taught. By Lisa Reinhart-Speers

*Please note: Where a licensed expert is not credited, I share from my own experience gained from 28 years of marriage, reading loads of marriage articles and books, and working with numerous licensed marriage counselors myself over the years—much of which was sought pro-actively with my husband, so we could learn new skills as we hit road bumps or new phases in life, like empty-nesting. It is a never-ending process but well worth it—By Lisa Reinhart-Speers @I Do Part Two

Mt. Aconcagua, Mendoza province in Argentina, on the Chilean border.—the highest point in South America. Photo credit—William Finley

*Inspired by the lyrics I Lived by One Republic, in honor of my brother, David Reinhart, who lived his life to the fullest ’til the moment of his passing on December 29th, 2012—Lisa Reinhart Speers, founder of I Do Part Two.

“Hope when you spend your day
They all add up—
Hope when the sun goes down
You raise your cup…”

I hope when you see the gift that Christmas brings each year—
You’ll pause for a moment and breathe into it with everything you’ve got.

Dave—Christmas 1977

Christmas was magical as a kid—no peeking allowed.

I’d gather downstairs with my five siblings on Christmas morning, eagerly awaiting the musical signal to discover Santa’s bounty firsthand. “Did you hear that?” As music started playing—quietly at first, then louder.

My parents blasting Christmas tunes upstairs, while sipping bourbon-spiked eggnog, was all that stood between me and my wish list. 

“Go!” yelled my brother and we’d run up the stairs as fast as we could, in reverse order of our birth. The thrill of Christmas morning—never got old. With eight of us in the family, presents spread out from under our tree like treasured memories dotting my youth.

I was six years old, the first time I remember Christmas. I know, because Santa left a bright, blue Huffy bike—just for me.

“I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did.
With every broken bone
I swear I lived…”

I love fishing. My dad taught me how to fish, igniting a passion for the outdoors that still fills my soul. I often reminisce about our conversations, sitting side-by-side, on those crystal clear waters. The memories created will outlast both our lifetimes.

Dave on Crescent Lake in Oregon, circa 1978

Over the years, the thrill of fly fishing took me to some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Hiking and fishing with friends by day and frying up our catch at night. The smell of a wood-burning fire, under a star-lit sky, still warms me to my core.

“Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall.
Hope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name.
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stay.”

Dave with a double catch

My love for all things wild—fishing, hiking, camping, and climbing—delivered an escape from the ordinary that only nature could offer.

There are wonders to be found—hiking amongst the giants. Every time I stepped between two trees, I would enter a doorway to a new adventure…

Whether I am traversing the Haute Route from France to Switzerland or hiking the alpine trails of the Pacific Northwest—the place I call home—I am invigorated by the majesty of it all.

Greg Nourse, Mats and Dave after completing the Haute to Haute route from
France to Switzerland in 2009

Then, there’s the “Annual” as we call it. I lived for this yearly adventure. Twenty-plus suburbanites turned adventurers for a week. First in our 20s, then 30s, and now many are pushing 50. 

The Men of the Annual

I made every camping trip with this crew for 20-plus years—I wouldn’t have missed a one.

Rain or shine…the Annual lives on (Dave in blue)

I still go—they hear me in the whisper of the wind and the thrill of the catch. A few have even caught a glimpse of me, just as the sun sets on the horizon.

“Hope that you fall in love
It hurts so bad.
The only way you can know
Is to give it all you had…”

I fell hard for Char. God, I love that woman. Our passion was fire and it glowed with an intensity that sometimes burnt to touch.

Char & Dave

We waited ’til we were 40 to get married—after years of dating.

Sixteen months of wedded bliss, filled with passion, adventure, and dreams for the future—but fate had a different plan. I still wonder, “What if?” 

I’m always with her—she knows my love for her will never die.

Someday, I hope she’ll summon the courage to love BIG again. I believe in the depths of my soul Char has enough love for us all.

“And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain.
Hope when the moment comes,
You’ll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all…

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone
I swear I lived…”

From Mt. Hood in Oregon to Rainier in Washington State to Denali in Alaska to Elbrus in Russia—I climbed them all. Climbing for hours, up thousands of vertical feet, on snow-covered mountains has a way of quieting the noise of everyday life. There is so much peace to be found—just the mountain and me.

Dave and Greg on summit of Denali in Alaska

Digging my crampons into an ice wall on a 50-degree vertical slope, while securing my position with an ice axe at 22,000 feet above sea level, kept me hyper-focused on the ultimate prize—the summit.

Climber on the Polish Direct Route, Mt. Aconcagua
Photo credit: William Finley

I almost made the summit that day—22,841′ up Mt. Aconcagua—the highest peak in South America.

The snow blanketing the surrounding foothills, nearly 10,000 feet below me, glistened off the slopes of this exquisite Andean range.

The View from the Polish Direct route on Aconcagua

We were making memories, we three—Greg, Eric, and me. Our adventures had taken us all over the world, through many decades. 

Eric, Dave & Greg—Denali, Alaska

Climbing Aconcagua was to be no different. 

But…I felt slow—for the first time ever.

In exchange for slowing them down, I chuckled offering to buy them beers and steaks—these brothers I’d known since college—as soon as we were back in town.

Our summit bid was going as planned until it wasn’t…

Too much ice. Too many false summits. 

Then, without warning the altitude got to me—it never had before. 

Without hesitation, Eric took off toward the summit to get help. He knew time was not our friend today. Tragically, the only way down was up—there was no easy fix…

No team ready to come to our rescue. Too high for helicopters to fly.

The sun began to set on the horizon—this was not part of our carefully laid plans.

Greg stayed, breaking the climber’s code. He should’ve left with Eric, but he wouldn’t go. He stayed, trying to warm me through the night. We were chilled to the bone—we’d never felt so cold. 

The moon glowed, illuminating our position—offering hope.

I knew our family and friends were waiting…praying…hoping—sending positive thoughts. Their warm wishes reached me and warmed my soul.

I fought like hell to get back—to Char, the love of my life. To my amazing parents. To my three brothers, who I so admire. To my two sisters, who adore me. 

To my adventure “brothers” and my business partners. To all my cousins, nieces, and nephews. All my friends from high school and college. I never gave up trying.

There was still so much to do—so many places to see.

As I looked out, one last time, from my perch at 21,600 feet, the sky unfolded a shimmering white staircase just for me.

The Polish Direct route on Aconcagua

Simply magnificent. So quiet. So peaceful. 

In the distance, I heard a familiar melody—so hushed—I strained to hear it at first.

The music started softly, like snowflakes floating through the sky and quickly grew to a crescendo as angels joined the celestial choir. 

I heard someone proclaim, “It’s time to go.” I hesitated. I’m not ready.

Then, inexplicably, I am sitting around a roaring campfire—with everyone I hold most dear.

From an Annual camping trip many years ago…Dave on the left and Greg on the right.

Warmth engulfed me. My heart overflowed.

These are the moments we live for—surrounded by family and friends—swapping stories and laughing at the same jokes that have been told over and over for years.

Millions of amazing moments, captured forever in my heart.

“It’s time to go.” It was Eric—his voice so pure, so clear. Warmed to my core, I started up the stairs behind Eric—this time, ahead of my siblings and ahead of my parents—who I adore.

As all the angels sang…

“I wish that I could witness
All your joy and all your pain.
But until my moment comes

I’ll say
I, I did it all
I, I did it all…

I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone…

I swear I lived.” 

Dave and Lisa—brother and sister—mid-1980’s

-Written by Lisa Reinhart-Speers (Dave’s slightly older sister)

I dedicated this story to Greg and Eric Nourse, who gave it all they had to bring my brother, David, back to us in late December 2012. Tragically, Eric lost his life in his attempt to save Dave. Thankfully, Greg survived. 

Greg and Eric Nourse on summit of Denali in Alaska 2008

I never knew Eric during his lifetime, but I had heard so many great stories about what an amazing man and friend he was too all. I know his loss is felt by many—including his lovely wife, Kandee.

I did know Greg, through his friendship with Dave before the tragedy, and I’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know him ever better over the last eight years, along his beautiful wife Emily and their darling daughter.

Although the outcome was tragic, I will always be profoundly grateful to Greg and Eric for their selfless efforts. Thank you from the bottom of my heart—Lisa

*Originally lyrics for I Lived were written by Ryan Tedder, Noel Zancanella. The lyrics were altered and adapted for this story. So much appreciation for the talent of these amazing writers. Thank you for sharing your talents with the world.

**Photo credits noted go to William Finley of AkMountain.com who climbed Aconcagua with his wife in 2010. Lisa Reinhart-Speers and I Do Part Two do not have an affiliate relationship with AkMountain, so thank you for the use of your beautiful photographs. All others are courtesy of Dave, Lisa, Eric, Greg, the Men of the Annual, and Reinhart family photos.


A life well lived…

Dave earning his turns…


Rafting on an “Annual” camping trip
Dave climbing with Wayne
Mats, Dave and Greg, Mt. Blanc France
Dave with Eric on his right and friends
Dave (center) Greg and Eric on left/Friends on the right

Dave and his wife, Char, at an OSU Beaver football game
Dave with his brother John, graduating together at Oregon State University

The Reinhart ‘8’ —Dave third from the left in the cowboy hat and the author, Lisa, on the far left (circa 1978) with siblings and our parents, Richard and Susan

Well, let’s find out together as Christopher D. Connors, an expert on Emotional Intelligence, sits down for a conversation with I Do Part Two to discuss what an emotionally intelligent marriage looks like in 2020.

Christopher D. Connors is the bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence for the Modern Leader and The Value of You. He is a keynote speaker, executive coach and business consultant that works with leaders at Fortune 500 companies, sports organizations, schools and universities. His writing has appeared in CNBC, Quartz, World Economic Forum, Virgin Media, Thrive Global and Medium. Christopher is happily married to his beautiful wife and is the proud father of three amazing, rambunctious baseball-loving boys. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina. Visit him: http://chrisdconnors.com

Mr. Connors references a talk that Brené Brown presented on “empathy.” Brené Brown, Ph. D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She is known world-wide for her work on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She is also a gifted story-teller. There are numerous versions of her talk on empathy available online and due to copyright laws, I Do Part Two encourages you to search for them on Youtube or on Brené Brown‘s website.

I so hope you enjoy I Do Part Two’s conversation with Christopher D. Connors,

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