Our 400 Gallon In Wall Natural Sun-Lit Reef

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Part 2
Adventures and New Memories


This year has unfurled as a series of delightful surprises and treasured moments, each new adventure adding vivid and intricate stitches to the evolving tapestry of my life. One of the most heartwarming highlights was orchestrating a surprise trip for my niece's 16th birthday. The pure joy of planning this surprise, combined with the bright sparkle of happiness in her eyes upon the reveal, was in itself a treasured gift. This moment of shared elation reinforced the profound connections and the lasting bonds of family love, creating a luminous memory that will continue to brighten our hearts for many years.

Launching into yet another thrilling cross-country adventure, we embraced the break of dawn with electric anticipation, hearts racing at the thought of the adventures that lay ahead. My friend, practically vibrating with excitement, turned the flight into a creative workshop, crafting friendship bracelets. This act of making and later exchanging bracelets with fellow fans at the concert, who were just as passionate, didn't just elevate our experience; it wove a tapestry of new, unbreakable connections, embedding our journey with memories that would last a lifetime.

The escape to California marked another memorable chapter of the year, driven by a mix of nostalgia and the thrill of new experiences. This adventure brought us astonishingly close at a Taylor Swift concert, so close that the air seemed perfumed with her presence. This closeness transformed the concert into an exceptionally unforgettable event, where each note played seemed to resonate directly with us, further intertwining the music with our life stories.

Captured in these moments, I donned my very own sequined jacket and sparkling shoes. Despite my toes protesting in discomfort, the dazzle they added was undeniable and became a highlight of the night. Regrettably, I returned these items to Amazon after our return, a decision I've since pondered with a touch of regret. Deep down, I wish I had kept at least the jacket, a tangible keepsake of a night that sparkled not just on my feet, but in my heart. And truly, who doesn’t need to own their very own sequined jacket—a symbol of those fleeting moments when we allow ourselves to truly shine?

Reflecting on my recent trip to California for Rush's R40 Tour in 2015 stirs a flood of poignant memories. This particular concert represented not only a significant milestone for the band but also a crucial point in my personal journey. As the final performance, it marked the end of an era for both the musicians and their fans, with profound implications for those of us whose lives have been deeply intertwined with their music. The weight of this finale imbued my trip with a deep sense of solemnity and introspection, turning it into a profoundly personal pilgrimage.

My time spent at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, standing before Rush's star, transcended the usual tourist experience. Beneath the vast California sky, I was surrounded by the familiar melodies and rhythms that have been the soundtrack to the most defining moments of my life. This visit became a heartfelt tribute to the band that has consistently been a companion through both the highs and lows of my journey, their music providing comfort, joy, and inspiration through various life chapters.

The endeavor to witness just one more live performance, with each flight chasing the sunset, kindled within me a profound sense of awe and gratitude for the dedication Rush's music has inspired in me. Standing before their star, I was enveloped by a vibrant collage of memories—concerts attended, countless hours with their albums, and deeply personal moments enhanced by Rush's powerful music. This blend of nostalgia and profound gratitude celebrates the indelible legacy the band has left on the fabric of music history and my personal narrative.

This quiet homage was filled with deep recognition of Rush's significant impact, transcending mere musical achievements to profoundly affect individual lives. Their music—a rich weave of intricate melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and unmatched musicianship—has been a steadfast source of solace, inspiration, and belonging amid life's fluctuations.

Reflecting at the Walk of Fame served as a powerful homage to Rush's enduring influence on the rock music scene and the hearts of those who see reflections of their own journeys in the band's songs. This moment, brimming with gratitude for Rush's enduring legacy and its personal significance, was a silent yet impactful acknowledgment of the unique place Rush occupies in the music world and in the personal narratives of their fans. Their songs, mirroring our lives, dreams, and challenges, continue to resonate, leaving a lasting mark on the world and on the personal journeys of those who have journeyed with their music.

Against the backdrop of the band's final show in California, this experience highlighted the fleeting nature of all things and the enduring beauty of music, memories, and the emotions they evoke. It served as a poignant reminder of the joy music can bring, its ability to connect us to our past, and the nostalgia that accompanies the melodies and lyrics we cherish. Standing before Rush's star, I was reminded of the lasting impact that music has on our souls, creating a soundtrack that echoes long after the final note has faded. This tour, therefore, was not just a farewell to a beloved band but also the culmination of my personal revival, marking a significant milestone on my journey back to life.

Additionally, a day at Disneyland introduced a magical layer, intertwining new joyful moments with fond memories of past visits. Recollecting Kelly's vibrant excitement and shared laughter felt like revisiting a beloved book, discovering new stories within its pages. This celebration of the spirit of adventure and the anticipation of future experiences highlighted the magic found in shared moments of joy and discovery.

Another remarkable moment was attending the inaugural Rush Day in Toronto, Canada. This event brought together Rush fans nationwide, celebrating a collective passion and the legacy of a band that has profoundly touched many lives. It was a day filled with sharing memories, stories, and the music that has been a soundtrack to my journey. Building new friendships and connecting over shared melodies and lyrics offered a sense of unity and upliftment, highlighting how music can bridge hearts and transcend individual experiences.

This year also included an extraordinary evening in Boston, a deeply memorable engagement with Geddy Lee that illuminated my journey in significant ways. This was not just an event, but a cherished experience shared with my brother, my dearest friend, adding layers of emotional depth and connection. Sitting just an arm’s length from the stage, our proximity made each word, each nuanced expression of emotion, feel intimately directed at us.

Geddy Lee shared heartfelt reflections from his new book, telling the story of his life. Through this narrative, he opened up about the profound impact of losing Neil Peart and how it deeply affected him, providing a rare glimpse into the emotional world behind the music. His candidness offered insights into navigating the landscape of grief and the bond they shared, enriching our understanding of the personal journeys that underlie their artistry. Furthermore, he hinted at the possibility of reuniting with Alex Lifeson to create new music, sparking a flicker of anticipation and hope for what the future might hold. Holding breath!

The evening was further enriched by the presence of my brother, weaving warmth, reflection, and laughter into our shared memories. It served as a poignant reminder of the beauty found in embracing the inspiration from the lives of those we admire, (yes you) especially when experienced alongside someone who deeply understands the significance of such moments. This event, made all the more special by the company and the intimate setting, emphasized how shared experiences can deepen our bonds, enrich our lives, and remind us of the profound joy and inspiration that art, music, and companionship bring into our lives.

This year has been a transformative journey, reshaping my once daunting memories of the holiday seasons into a tapestry of warmth, joy, and communal celebration. Previously, I found refuge in the solitude of my home, but this year, I embraced the festive spirit by opening my doors to host our inaugural Friendsgiving. This gathering created a sanctuary for friends and loved ones to unite in celebrating life's blessings, echoing with shared laughter and even a few poignant tears, marking a profound shift in how I experience this season.

The holiday festivities blossomed further with a Christmas gathering that drew my closest friends together, each contributing their favorite desserts and finger foods. I seized the moment to concoct a selection of adult beverages, among which the Peppermintini, a captivating fusion of peppermint, chocolate, and crushed candy cane, emerged as the star of the show, enchanting everyone with its magical flavor.

The spirit of the season continued to flourish as I hosted a sumptuous Christmas feast, featuring homemade stuffed shells, sausage and meatballs, and a prime rib roast, inviting friends to partake in this celebration. Embarking on a culinary adventure, I tackled the challenge of baking my very first cheesecake. The endeavor was a whirlwind, marked by a last-minute dash on Christmas Eve for ingredients, pushing me beyond the familiar confines of my comfort zone. Yet, the fruits of this labor were immensely gratifying, yielding a dessert that evoked the decadence of a Reese's peanut butter cup, wrapped in rich chocolate ganache and sprinkled with crushed Reese's cups, each bite a delight to savor.

Beyond these festive celebrations, the year was punctuated by memorable events that underscored the boundless potential for wonder, growth, and discovery that life holds. From the electrifying atmosphere of a Taylor Swift concert to orchestrating a surprise trip that lit up my niece's world, and sharing a soul-stirring evening in Boston, this year's experiences have woven vibrant new threads into the fabric of my life. Each shared moment of laughter and awe has enriched my existence with a palette of joy and the anticipation of adventures yet to unfold, transforming the holiday season into a reflection of life's generous capacity for happiness and shared human connections.
 
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jdpiii3

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Part 3
A Sun-lit Reef Recognized


In the midst of this year's vibrant tapestry of personal exploration and heartfelt connections, Our Natural Sun-lit Reef is poised to shine in the spotlight of recognition. It is an honor to announce that this cherished project will be featured in an upcoming issue of "Coral - The Reef & Marine Aquarium Magazine." This accolade is not only a nod to the reef's breathtaking beauty and intricate natural wonders but also to the profound narrative it embodies. Crafted with love and dedication, the reef stands as a tribute to the enchanting beauty of the natural world that Kelly and I so deeply admired. This recognition by a community of like-minded reef enthusiasts celebrates not just the ecological marvel we've nurtured but also the poignant journey of love, loss, and the relentless pursuit of understanding and beauty amidst sorrow.

Intertwining Threads of Joy

The myriad experiences of this past year, from the adventures embarked upon, the profound insights gained from listening to Geddy Lee, to the distinguished honor bestowed upon Our Natural Sun-lit Reef, collectively spin a vibrant thread of joy through the fabric of my life. These moments, rich in their diversity and depth, interlace to form a narrative that speaks volumes about the journey through grief and the resilient quest for joy and fulfillment thereafter. Each experience, whether it be filled with laughter, moments of deep reflection, or the fervent pursuit of one's passions, acts as a beacon of hope, illuminating the endless pathways to rejuvenation and joy that lie ahead, even in the shadow of profound loss.

This intricate tapestry of joy weaves its way through the everyday, reminding us that life, in its essence, is a complex blend of sorrow and happiness, loss, and discovery. The inspiration drawn from a musical icon like Geddy Lee, whose stories of resilience and passion echo the possibility of finding new meaning and purpose, the adventures that rekindle the spirit of exploration and wonder, and the recognition of a project as heartfelt as Our Natural Sun-lit Reef, all contribute to a richer understanding of life's multifaceted nature. These highlights from the year underscore the beauty of engaging fully with the world around us, of opening our hearts to new experiences, and of allowing ourselves to be moved and changed by them.

Together, these threads of joy not only bind the narrative of the past year but also stretch forward, pointing the way to a future where happiness and renewal are not only possible but are waiting with open arms. They remind us that amidst the backdrop of grief, the human spirit's capacity for recovery and joy remains undiminished, ready to embrace the infinite possibilities that life offers. This journey, marked by both the poignant memories of what was and the hopeful anticipation of what is yet to come, continues to unfold, revealing the endless potential for transformation and the enduring power of love to guide us through.

Finding Starla

The universe guided me to Starla, a rescue dog whose journey of abandonment led her to me, a soul adrift in a world that once felt familiar yet suddenly turned alien. Despite being discarded by a family she loved, Starla's resilience shone through. Her captivating gaze, one eye blue, the other brown, seemed to hold a world of stories, reflecting a spirit unbroken by her trials. Adopting Starla wasn't merely about filling the void left by Stella; it was about welcoming a kindred spirit, recognizing our shared paths of loss and adaptation.

Witnessing Starla's transformation has been an awe-inspiring chapter in my journey. From a pup engulfed in the shadows of her past, burdened with grief and confusion, to her blossoming into a beacon of joy and vitality, has been a testament to the healing power of love and patience. Her small nub of a tail that wiggles with uncontainable excitement, tells a story of hope and recovery, a symbol of her enthusiastic embrace of life's second chances.

Opening my heart to Starla, we embarked on a path of mutual healing, discovering joy in our shared moments and solace in our silent understandings. Her infectious zest for life, her eager explorations, and the simple happiness found in our companionship, have woven a new tapestry of memories, rich with the colors of hope and the promise of new beginnings. Starla, with her unique eyes and spirited nub, has not just been a companion but a guiding light, illuminating the path forward with love, resilience, and the joy of rediscovery.

A Newfound Passion

Starla’s presence has rekindled a passion for life that I feared was dimming. She leads the way on our adventures, whether it's a simple walk through the neighborhood or a journey to a new destination, her spirit of discovery and joy is infectious. Starla wiggled her way into my heart, teaching me that it's possible to love again, to open one's heart after loss, and to embrace the companionship of a new friend with all the joy and hope that comes with it.

With Starla by my side, the world seems filled with new possibilities. Our shared moments, from the quiet mornings watching the sunrise to the joyful discovery of new paths on our walks, are treasures that weave into the fabric of my days, adding layers of happiness and companionship.
 
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Part 4
The Mosaic of Moments: Reflections and Insights


This year has unfolded as a rich tapestry of emotional depth and discovery, crafting a mosaic composed of countless moments that beautifully illustrate the complex journey of healing. Every adventure undertaken, from the resonant music experiences in California to the evocative historical ambiance of Boston, along with every companion met along the way, from Starla's vibrant spirit to the passionate community of reef enthusiasts, has added a unique piece to this elaborate mosaic. Collectively, these pieces weave together a narrative brimming with resilience, showcasing the profound capacity to unearth beauty and meaning amidst the remnants of loss.

The Loom of Time: Weaving New Memories

As the wheel of seasons turns, the loom of time tirelessly spins, merging the threads of past and present, weaving together memories and new discoveries, sorrow interlaced with joy. Each moment, whether it’s a quiet embrace from nature or the warm, infectious laughter shared with friends, contributes its unique hue and texture to the evolving tapestry, enhancing the intricate design that life's pattern reveals.

Navigating the path of grief has imparted the understanding that healing encompasses both a reverence for the past and an open embrace of the present and the possibilities that lie ahead. It involves striking a tender balance, creating a space within my heart where Kelly’s memory and the new joys that life unfolds, like Starla's playful energy and the sense of accomplishment from our sun-lit reef's recognition, can coexist harmoniously.

Echoes of the Past, Melodies of the Future

Music has been a steadfast companion on this journey, serving a dual purpose as it bridges the gap between what was and what is yet to be. The songs that Kelly and I once shared have transformed into poignant echoes of our past, while new melodies pave the way for the future, composing a healing soundtrack for my journey. These rhythms and lyrics, laden with memories and raw emotions, resonate on a deep level, offering comfort, sparking inspiration, and at times, providing a conduit to the unspoken sentiments of the heart.

This interplay of past and future melodies underscores the ongoing dialogue between memory and hope, a conversation that unfolds within the soulful symphony of life. It's a reminder that even as we carry forward the melodies of those we've loved and lost, new harmonies await, ready to be discovered and cherished. This rich mosaic of moments, interwoven with the threads of memory, discovery, and the rhythm of music, encapsulates the journey of healing — a journey marked by the ability to honor the past while stepping forward into the light of new beginnings and the enduring power of love.

Embracing the Future

As I pause to reflect on the intricate tapestry of the past year, intricately woven with threads of both sorrow and joy, treasured memories, and the creation of new ones, my heart swells with a profound sense of gratitude for the journey that brought Starla into my life. More than just a pet, she has evolved into a cherished companion, her very presence a beacon of undying strength and remarkable resilience that is emblematic of both the human and canine spirit. Her arrival was a pivotal moment, teaching me the invaluable lesson that joy can indeed be rediscovered in the aftermath of profound loss.

Our shared journey has been a beacon, illuminating the path of healing that true companionship fosters. Starla has opened my eyes to the unexpected twists and turns life presents, guiding me towards the love I needed at precisely the right moment. Her steadfast presence in my life serves as a testament to the idea that even in our darkest hours, the universe conspires to provide us with the beacon of hope we so desperately seek. And who knows? Perhaps along this journey, I'll encounter a special friend—a companion who shares not only the journey but also a sense of humor that brings light to the darker corners of this path.

Looking forward to the future Starla and I will share, I am filled with optimism. The journey of healing before us is vast, brimming with the potential for new beginnings and continued growth. It's a future ripe with the promise of further exploring the heart's infinite capacity to heal, to love anew, and to build enduring connections that defy the limits of time and physical presence.

This journey is not just about moving forward; it's about carrying forward the legacy of love in its various forms. Whether through cherished memories of a beloved spouse, the joyous companionship of a four-legged friend, or the kindred spirits we encounter along the way, each step is a testament to the enduring power of love, the resilience it fosters, and the hope it ignites. I stand as a testament to these truths, forever a husband, forever a friend to the gentle souls that have wiggled their way into my heart, and forever committed to a journey that is enriched by love, tempered by loss, and illuminated by the ceaseless hope and joy of discovery.
 

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Joe…what a pleasure to see you again and share a moment with you. I called you a wordsmith and that term seems so insignificant. Im so happy that you are a part of this community and we’re thankful you’ve allowed us on your journey this far

IMG_6120.jpeg
 
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jdpiii3

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Joe…what a pleasure to see you again and share a moment with you. I called you a wordsmith and that term seems so insignificant. Im so happy that you are a part of this community and we’re thankful you’ve allowed us on your journey this far

IMG_6120.jpeg
It was great getting to see you, David. Wasn't sure if I was going to make it there this weekend. Glad I decided to drive over on Sunday!
 
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We have some very sad news to report from our natural sun-lit reef. Today, when I woke up I found my Blue Stripe Butterfly lying at the bottom of the tank unresponsive.

Its vibrant presence graced our reef, touching us all with its beauty and grace.

RIP

20231005_135130.jpg
 
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Building with glass and silicone: Have you ever built a tank or had a custom tank built?

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