Tagged Seattle

Episode 005 – Chesty Kemper

“Hitting rock bottom” was a memorable line from my guest in this episode of The Fortytellers. He apologetically called that line “a cliché”, which is certainly is not! After battling years of depression, loneliness, debt, and an addiction to gambling, Chesty Kemper spent a long period of time where every day he talked himself out of suicide.

He finally made it through one fateful day where he could have ended his life and instead decided to live. Now what? Chesty began a long period of self-reflection. “Rewiring his brain”, he calls it.

The fifth episode of The Fortytellers is a meditation on life, imperfection, expectations, self-awareness and renewal all at once. Chesty’s story is not much different from that of so many others. People struggle – both publicly and privately – with their lives, careers, relationships, money, direction. It is hard to find the time to reflect on what is important to us and even harder to talk about it in depth with someone else.

In fact, I ran into Chesty, a high school friend, in Las Vegas in the fall of 2015. As I was there with a group of my girlfriends, we chatted only on that fun, lightheaded level that Vegas invites people to do. In this episode however we dig deep. Now in his forties, Chesty looks at his past with maturity, wisdom and a clearer sense of purpose about where he is now and how he fits into the world.

Fittingly, Chesty and I struggled with some technical issues during this recording and the sound quality ebbs and flows more than I would have liked. And yet… if you listen past the imperfect sound of this episode, you will hear a compelling story that makes you think of your own story too. Perfect in all its imperfections.


Show Notes & Links:

Episode 003 – Mike Heath

This is our normal.

“The one that got away” is how I jokingly refer to my guest in this episode, as he and I briefly dated in high school. Coming out as gay at the age of 27, Mike Heath has had a journey that is at once compelling, courageous, ordinary, normal, American.

In this third installment of The Fortytellers, we hear Mike’s story pick up from where we left off after high school: The growing relationship with Chris, now his husband, and the nail-biting and emotional journey that started with their desire to have kids and led them through their decision to work with a surrogate and welcome into the world their beautiful twins, Sean and Maggie.

Mike tells his story with such clarity and honesty that it is easy to forget the groundbreaking history of two dads raising twins that were born in collaboration with a surrogate. While news outlets and social media elsewhere are noisily drilling on the political and cultural impacts of what it means to be a family, Mike’s refreshing story deals with the far more normal, more immediate – and far more important – realities of daily life.

Juggling parents’ work schedules, changing diapers, cleaning up spills, choosing a kid-friendly neighborhood for them to grow up in: This is the daily living of Mike and Chris’ new family and it is no different than the life, stresses, and joys of my own family or those of so many other families we all know.

The impacts of family life can take anyone’s breath away, and you may be transported through your own life as you hear Mike’s story about balancing his joys and stresses – perhaps not always gracefully but always with humanity and the vulnerability that comes to any parent who sees past the dirty diapers, rashes, and ear-piercing baby cries, and has a vision of the family life they dreamed of.

This is the true joy of parenthood, of kids, of making our own normal life. Mike and Chris’ story show how families are what you make them, how much you treasure them, and how so joyfully normal everything really is.






Show Notes & Links

A Letter to Two Dads by Shawn

The Kid by Dan Savage

Belly Buds


Episode 002 – Nyla Fritz

In the second episode of The Fortytellers, I talk with Nyla Fritz, whom I first met in college. Nyla is now the principal of a middle school near Seattle. As a teacher, I know the kind of special person who thrives in a middle school, whether a teacher or a principal, and I know the unique needs and character and joy that middle school kids bring.

Much of Nyla’s teaching career – in fact, much of her life – was irreversibly impacted by the death of her younger brother, who lost his life in a school shooting 20 years ago at the age of 14. A student brought a gun to class and started firing. The teacher also died. Another teacher, next door, physically stopped the shooter. He is a hero, to Nyla and to all of the community, and yet he, also, is forever affected by this trauma.

The school shooting created in Nyla a passion for issues related to gun violence in schools and she has plenty to say about it. Nyla believes that gun-related issues go beyond the easy-answer political solutions that are flying across the airwaves and through the halls of politics. Even with her well-formed views on the subject, she is open to having the conversation with anyone. In fact, she urges that we all have that conversation.

Listen as we talk about how Nyla reflects on entering her 40’s, how her current perspective informs her new, healthy view of her personal relationships and how, for the first time in 20 years, she is hopeful.

Show Notes & Links

Alliance for Gun Responsibility

Moms Demand Action

Sandy Hook Promise