New Beginings

(Originally Published 30 Sept. 2012)

I am writing this after having made a fairly big decision in my life. After years of being locked into a very specific routine due to my medical maladies, I have realized that I am free again. It’s like I have sprung back to that time just before graduating high school. I want to experience the life I never got to because I was sick for so long.

Staying resolute during the long time that I was ill was in itself almost as difficult as being sick. Through all the pain and medicine, the set backs and worsening condition, I had to find something to carry me through. My sense of humor was essential in keeping my sanity through it all, as were my friends and family. These are the type of people that don’t even need to be asked, but just show up when they are needed. They seem to know when you are off, and want desperately to help.

Having something to focus on was also something I found that helped me tremendously. At first it was delving into work, Photography and printing at the time. Next it was non profit work. Starting a non profit with a group of like minded people was great therapy. There was frustration and it took ages to learn the ropes of working in that field, but the end results, the successes, were some of the best medicine I could have hoped for.

In the end, my body’s own dysfunction over came all the laughter and well wishing that I had, and in 2010 It had come to a head and medicine could not help any more. In fact the medicine was causing great harm now, as years of high dose steroids and immune-suppressants took a terrible toll. All the pain and doctor visits and pills finally gave way to a surgery. The surgery was a new development, where by they removed the colon and then, in a second surgery some months later, used the end of the small intestine to create a pouch and reconnect it in place of the colon. (My friends loving refer to it as my “Semicolon”). After a year and a half and three surgeries, I was now relatively normal again. There have not been any flair ups in nearly 3 years (since the surgery) and I have not had to take any of the old medications. My body is starting to heal from the years of being saturated in those medicines, and now I realize that its time for my mind, or my soul if you prefer, to heal as well.

I want to take a leap of faith that my mind has never been able to. I want to be open to risk and failure in a way I have never been before. Passing through a scenario that could have easily killed me several times, and come through alive and well, has made me want to show others the same path.

I have decided that the way to do this is to circumnavigate the globe. There is no defined path, because in life our paths change as we go. I have teamed up with a local Rotary club (Ketchikan 5010) and will be traveling from club to club, across the world. I will be collecting stories of how each club is empowering the “New Generation”, as it is one of the new Avenues of Service for Rotary. I will be demonstrating to clubs how others are doing this, and the importance in ensuring that the new generation is ready to take the lead when the need arises, in our communities and across the globe.

Along the way I will also be gathering stories and experiences, meeting people, seeing new sights, and trying new things, new foods, new music. I intend to play music along the way, even having bought a new guitar specifically for this journey. I will be reporting here and on Facebook and Twitter as the trip progresses, giving my daily thoughts and stories, posting pictures and videos of the various things I see along the way.

I will be setting off on the ferry on December 12th for Bellingham, WA. From there I will head south and east till I hit the east coast and find my way across the water towards Europe and beyond. I hope you will follow my progress by ‘liking” the Facebook page here ( ) and following #VeraquRettke on Twitter. Also bookmark the webpage ( and this blog and check it often as I will be updating it through out the journey.

I will be setting off on the ferry on December 12th for Bellingham, WA. From there I will head south and east till I hit the east coast and find my way across the water towards Europe and beyond.

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