The Hook Challenge

Hook_SEUlawn

Hook teaching students how to read nature and why it’s important for sustainability, 2012.

2016 UPDATE of donation link:

 

UPDATE 6/26/2014, 10:03amCST

When the St. Edward’s folks said, We’re going to do a 48-hour Hook Challenge to see if we can get another 145 donations, well I thought that was a great goal and I was completely unsure how we were going to achieve it.  But people were up late stirring the awesome sauce.  About halfway through the challenge, it seemed unlikely that we would even get half of our goal.  But as I mentioned, awesome sauce people were mixing it and a lot of natural juice was flowing and we came out even better than expected:

  • 115 donors; 146 donations!!!!  

Yes, our anonymous $25,000 pledge will happen because the total number of donations was over 145.  My personal hope was for 145 new donors but 146 donations feels great!  Yes, I was screaming out loud to Hook as the numbers came through (in case the overcast skies in Austin were blocking his hearing in heaven!).  Yes, I was scaring the cat as I danced around the kitchen to the theme of Rocky after midnight.

I’m not going to say I wish Hook were here to celebrate with me.  He was with me last night and he’s with each of you today in gratitude.

People have asked if the #HookChallenge donor link will remain open.  My guess is probably until June 30th 2014 at which time, St. Edward’s will close its official books on the #LoveBlueGiveGold campaign.  However, the regular link to donate to the Dr. Hook Wild Basin Endowment remains live indefinitely so individuals can donate at their leisure:

On behalf of Allan and all the future students who will benefit from the funds raised for research projects at the Wild Basin, I thank you.

Rosemary Guzman Hook
Widow of Allan | Steward of the Dr. Hook Wild Basin Endowment

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 12:14amCST

Final donor tally:  115 donors!  The donation link will remain open thru the night to get us closer to 145 donors:  bit.ly/seulbgive

Huge thank yous all around!

I’ve mentioned before how the Dr. Hook Wild Basin Endowment scholarships are open to any student in the world interested in conducting creative research at the Wild Basin in Austin.   What I may not have explained in detail is why this feature of the Hook Endowment was important to Allan and I.  We understood that to grow awareness about the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve and the Hook Scholars and the Hook Endowment itself, we would need to be open to offering these funds to more than St. Edward’s University students.

Hook and I were so grateful that St. Edward’s agreed and now here I am winding down on our second major donation push for the Hook Endowment — the first in 2013 when Allan was still alive and now tonight in 2014:

This has been a wonderful 48 hours spent torturing you with my blog and the count.  Thank you so very much!

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 9:19 pmCST

Some serious Wow is happening over here in Austin, Texas.  We are up to 97 donors with only 48 more to go!  That is your donation.  That is your donation on crack!  I’m speechless but only because I’m exhausted.  I even forgot to make myself a cocktail when I said I would.  I’ll update again around 11ish if there’s numbers available.  We can still do it.  We can make the goal of 145 donors by midnight!

Listen to some Rocky with me – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj0jzepk0WA – while you donate or while you motivate someone to donate:  bit.ly/seulbgive

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 7:04 pmCST

We are at 83 donors which is more than the halfway point!!!  (I’m counting Hook donors + Wild Basin donors). And it’s officially cocktail hour so I’m making a gin and tonic to celebrate!   Need 62 more donors by midnight tonight. 

Will you help us get there?

I just raised my fists up in the air Rocky-style and said, “Go Hook!”

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 3:34 pmCST

64 donors to the Hook Wild Basin Endowment and 4 donors to the Wild Basin Preserve for a total of 68 donors — woohoo!  I write “woohoo” but what I really want to do is throw my laptop across the room because it keeps locking up so that all of my online updates on FB, LI, TW, G+ and here on this blog are taking twice as long as they should.  On the bright side, the laptop still works so thank goodness for small gifts.

How many of you will stay up with me tonight until midnight?  My pledge is now up to $680 (68 donors x $10) and of course there is still the $25k pledge if we meet the goal of 145 donors!

Time for me to get some packing in for the next couple of hours, but I’ll check back in after 5 o’clock with an update.

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 1:24 pmCST

My contact lenses are starting to stick to my eyeballs, I’m so tired but I’m in this until 11:59 pm tonight!  In the meantime, I really need to finish packing up this house where I’m living in preparation for my move back into the Hook House.  Someday I hope the Hook House will become the Hook Scholar House.  More on that in another blog … as well as this mega move.

62 donors — yea!!!!   You all are amazing!  For the love of nature and education and Hook, let’s get 83 more donors!

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 12:54 pmCST

59 donors and growing!  86 more donors to go.  We can do this!

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 10:34 amCST

Made it to my breakfast meeting this morning but just barely.  The good news is we are up to 51 donors (Hook Endowment donors + Wild Basin donors).   I can almost hear Hook’s voice saying, “I can’t believe so many people are donating!”

We only have 94 more donors to go and our anonymous donor pledge kicks in with their $25k.  Hook’s concept of a “nature think tank” is becoming a reality.   Years from now we are going to look back and be amazed at how the support for the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve and the Hook Scholars have grown.

But, the Wild Basin isn’t Vegas.  What is learned at the basin doesn’t stay at the basin — this education will be applied everywhere, throughout the globe, and our awareness and reverence of the natural world will become the norm.  Thank you for that awesome sauce this morning … now, help us get 94 more donors!

UPDATE from 6/25/2014, 12:48 amCST

An anonymous donor pledged $25k if we meet the Hook Challenge of 145 donors by 11:59 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, 6/25.  We are currently at 42 donors as of 12:50 a.m.

Staying up late to track this stuff is a lot like cramming for an exam in college except I’m not 20 anymore and slamming caffeine lost its allure years ago.  No doubt I will fall asleep during my breakfast meeting which begins six hours from now at 6:50 am.

ORIGINAL POST from 6/24/2014, 10:47 amCST

This will be the shortest blog post you’ll ever read from me.  That is my gift to you, but today is about me asking for a gift from you.

Wait!  Please read this brief post to the end.  If you’re thinking, I already donated for chrissakes, well I’d say someone is feeling a bit dramatic today and quite frankly that’s my job. 😉

This week, St. Edward’s University kicked off a #LoveBlueGiveGold campaign to increase their alumni contributions.  They chose to include the Hook Endowment as part of this giving challenge not only for alumni donations but for any person interested in supporting the sustainability and education of the environmental gem known as the Wild Basin Preserve.  Here is what I am asking from you:

  • If you were one of the original 145 donors, would you encourage one family member or friend or acquaintance who has not donated to give $10 or more to the Dr. Hook Wild Basin Endowment?  http://ow.ly/ymVvI
  • If you have not donated yet, would you make one online contribution of $10 before midnight on Wednesday, June 25th 2014? http://ow.ly/ymVvI

Those interested in donating more than $10 are certainly welcomed to do so.  (If you’d like, read about the original giving levels established by Allan in 2013:  Hook giving levels)

You can watch the progress with me of how many people meet the Hook Challenge by 11:59 p.m. on 6/25: http://think.stedwards.edu/giving/progress.   For each new donor who commits online by the deadline, I have pledged to make a donation of $10 per donor toward the Hook Challenge.

For those not already in the know, here is a quick explanation of what the Hook Wild Basin Endowment is and what purpose it serves:

In 2013, my late husband Allan (“Hook”) and I established the Dr. Hook Endowed Wild Basin Creative Research Fund to provide scholarships to any student in the world interested in conducting creative research at the pristine, 227 acre track called the Wild Basin and which is part of the incredible Balcones Canyonland Preserve in Austin, Texas, U.S.A.  Allan and I managed to convince (asking, begging, guilting) 145 friends and family to donate to this endowment which resulted in eight Hook Scholars receiving funds in 2014 to study at the Wild Basin Creative Research Center  This center and the Wild Basin Preserve are graciously managed by St. Edward’s University, a private institution in south Austin and where Hook spent the last 25 years of his life as a biology professor before he passed away.

Please Note:  I tend to emphasize the “any student in the world” eligibility of future Hook Scholars.  I do this because it is not the norm for a higher education institution to open its scholarship coffers to students from other universities.  But as part of their overall global initiatives, St. Edward’s University encourages students from any university to apply to the Hook Endowment.  Why?  Because the greater the awareness, the greater the exposure, the greater the chances we have of keeping preserves like the Wild Basin as a learning vehicle for educating young minds about the sustainability and necessity of our natural environment.   Forward thinking.

#LoveGoldGiveBlue today and help us meet the Hook Challenge by donating or getting one person to donate by the deadline:  http://ow.ly/ymVvI

p.s.  Today’s original blog word count: 563 |  My average blog word count: 2920

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All Things Must Pass

 

 

 

 

 

 

HDU_AllThingsMustPass_bwEven though I haven’t posted a blog since December, I have been writing like a mad woman. 

Today I write from a condo on the Texas coast in Port Aransas having arrived Sunday night.  The plan is to spend the rest of this week focused on cranking out the second draft of my first book – the ever elusive, The Mystery Behind The Masters.  Do you remember me telling you about that?  Do you remember me telling you it’s not about golf?  

A vote of confidence from the universe came this morning when I received word that another of my quotes made it into a U.S. News & World Report article on universities and education expectations

Hook would have said, “That’s great, babe. Now finish that book.”

At the risk of tempting deep grief to return and body slam me again, I feel I’m past the worst of the worst of the dark days.  How do I know?  Because I shower daily now and I never watch Netflix from my pillow anymore.  There are still early mornings when, as my mind enters into consciousness, I’ll slam my eyes shut so I can return to the unconscious and a world where Hook is not gone.   But I do that less and less and instead say out loud, “I know I should get up.”  The only one to hear is my Siamese, Gatita, who is passed out on the bed with me, and of course Hook who has become my invisible, grief drill sergeant. 

Take the Time to Grieve

If it had been me that died instead of my husband, he would have gone back to work within a week, two weeks max.  Hook would have put his head down and focused at whatever task was at hand, shoving any memory of me aside or burying it so deeply that any vision of me would have been blurred permanently.  I always respected that perseverance in him.  And, I’ve used that tactic before when my brother, Paul, passed away in 1998, and again when my father, Lou, died in 2011.  But it doesn’t work, it never has. 

When I was able to start getting out of bed again, I spent my mornings sitting at my writing desk, scribbling away in long hand with tears pouring out, wetting the pages, and capturing in words the anguish and regret of the last 18 months.  I begged for mercy that the grieving let up.  I begged for mercy that the grieving and Hook never went away.  I became ultra-evolved and certifiably insane in the same moment because I was aware of the world and all it could offer and rip away simultaneously. 

Since September 3rd, I have had the luxury of deep, private grieving.  I say “luxury” because I’ve met so many widows and widowers who had to return to work after only a month, some after only a week.  I shudder every time I think of how fuzzy and frail I felt in the months following Hook’s death.   Frail … those who know me wouldn’t ever use such an adjective to describe my personality.  But we’re talking spirit instead of body so yes, wounded and handicapped and frail would all be words that could have accurately described my soul — that piece of me that was and will always be tethered to Hook.

But not today, I don’t feel that way today. 

I realized that the smidgens of hope I gathered from the Texas coast during my Thanksgiving weekend did indeed grow. Even the four-hour drive down to Port Aransas this week was completely different than that drive I made last November.  Then, I could hardly contain the tears that began with the shopping for the trip to the packing of luggage and hauling out Hook’s green, man cooler – I don’t want to go without you – to swerving on the highway to grab after dirty napkins on the floor of the Jeep because I’d soaked through the clean ones in the console – You’re supposed to be doing this with me.

Four hours of crying is exhausting, and it doesn’t make for safe driving either. 

Before that November trip I would have said I felt hollow inside like there was a humongous hole in my middle.  I learned that Thanksgiving holiday that there wasn’t a huge hole inside of me but me inside the hole, a deep cave with no steps for climbing out.  Since dispirited, comatose states of being are not my norm, I was moved by instinct to make the trip to face the ghosts of the coast as I called them. I returned to the port where Hook and I spent holidays and long weekends and where he proposed on bended knee, asking me to spend the rest of our lives together.

In return for listening to this inner wisdom, the coast greeted me with clear water and clean sand but thick clouds overhead made sure I remembered it was still winter.  I’d already been walking an hour that first day when I turned to look back at where I’d come from.  I didn’t want to go back but I couldn’t walk forward either.  Instead, I turned towards the ocean and held out my hands, palms facing up, and with watery eyes and a cracked voice, I whispered, “Help me; please help me.” 

I didn’t know who I was talking to, God I suppose, maybe Hook a little. Mostly I think I was sending out a plea to the universe, because even though I’d felt empty of all energy, void of all passion, indifferent to interests of any kind, I was still in awe at the power of the water, the flow of the waves, the swoosh swoosh swoosh of the tide as it beat against the sand and washed everything else away.  

After a while I started walking again, walking away from the despair, walking off the loss, walking out of that cavernous hole. I wasn’t moving on from Hook but moving forward with me. On the second day of that trip, I saw the first rays of sunlight beam through the clouds.  It was brief but they stayed long enough for me to react to the warmth and respond, “I see you.” 

And that’s how hope happened.

I don’t know that I would have believed I could feel hope again. In fact I wouldn’t have known how cemented it has become since Thanksgiving if I hadn’t returned to Port Aransas this week.  There were no tears in preparing for this trip not while speed packing or even during the long drive.  (I didn’t even bother to grocery shop instead I threw whatever was in the fridge into the green cooler and figured I’d shop for the rest once I got here.)  When I ran out to the water on Sunday of this week, it took me about 10 minutes before I realized what was different:  There were no feelings of overwhelming loss, no suffocating fear.  I was outside of the hole. 

I know it’s no longer a matter of will I get through this but instead, how much will I learn, how much will I grow, and will it be enough.

Moving Forward

I wish I could write that I don’t cry every day anymore or that I haven’t gotten choked up today.  I do and I have and I will and I’ll continue to do so until one day I just don’t.   But the tears I shed now are more good-bye than don’t go, more resignation than come back.  I can let go of the debilitating grief without letting go of the love in my heart for Allan.  And although I still feel uncertain about building a future without Hook in it, I’m not so scared that I won’t try.  I’ll move forward more slowly than is my usual pace but I’ll still move forward.

When Hook and I celebrated our four-year anniversary last June, we returned to our wedding night place – a lovely bed and breakfast in Wimberly, Texas –  tucked away in the woods. Our room was on the second floor with a spacious balcony that faced the gorgeous Blue Hole.  We began our mornings and ended our evenings sitting outside on the cushioned chairs, listening and watching the wildlife.  On the second night, Hook started to talk about the planning of his memorial.  I had just stood up to return back inside.  When he spoke, I sat back down on the edge of the chair, staring blindly at the balcony floor, waiting to hear what he would say.    

“I want you to play that song by George Harrison, the one he wrote just before he died from cancer,” he said. “Listen to it as many times as you need to.”  

“You’re going to be all right,” Hook would always say in our late night talks. “You have to be.”

All Things Must Pass by George Harrison

Sunrise doesn’t last all morning
A cloud burst doesn’t last all day
Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning
It’s not always going to be this grey

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Port Aransas, Texas: My brother Dave, me, and Hook.

Port Aransas, Texas, 2010: My brother Dave, me, and Hook.

When the Epilogue Comes First

HDU_PrologueEpilogue

Sometimes we have to finish writing the ending of one story before we can begin writing the beginning of a new one. 

A year ago today, I was at the hospital to pick up Hook after a three-week, post surgery stay.  Absolutely nothing since that time has turned out the way I’d expected, and mostly that’s a bad thing.  But can I just say that there has been at least one unexpected bright spot that came via the creation of the Dr. Allan Hook Wild Basin Endowment.

Had Hook’s health not become terminal, we would have taken our sabbatical in Australia then returned back to Austin to build a house we’d been talking about for the past year.  Instead, the door to surviving in this life closed for Hook but before it did, we opened a new door that could be used for generations of learning about the sustainability of nature.

Why the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve is Important by Allan Hook

I have a promise to keep that came from one of the last lucid discussions Allan and I had regarding why the 227 acre track known as the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve meant so much to him.  It has taken me more than three months before I felt able to share this with you. Here it is from Thursday, August 29th 2013, 5:57pm:

Q. Why is the Wild Basin important to you?

I was fortunate growing up because I lived next to a nature preserve.  I could go out and play in it.  Most kids didn’t have something like this.

This [Wild Basin] endowment provides an opportunity for people who haven’t had experience with the outdoors to try and tie that research question with the background of nature, integrated into its functional meaning of how we relate to nature.  It’s meant to get kids off their butts, off their computers — to look at what’s outside.

There are a million interesting things going on.  You just have to open your eyes and see what interests you whether its photo journalism or biology of the animal or teaching methodology or creating stories in nature.  There’s so much wonderment in nature because it’s complex and vast and we understand so little of it.

If you want to see what’s entailed in maintaining the [Wild Basin] property from invasive species and the trail maintenance and proper land management use, go see it.  Much of what they do at the basin is communicating with the local people surrounding the preserve and remaining a clearing house to the wider community.

Q. What did you hope would happen because of the endowment?

I thought it could float more students to get creative research experience; to open their eyes to brighter horizons that natural history provides.  This endowment will help us to facilitate studies to better understand some of the interactions happening between organisms at the basin.

I want the endowment to continue to grow so we can reach out to more students so we as a community can get more experience – not just St. Edward’s students, but globally – so we can share what we’ve learned with other such entities in Austin and around the world.

Q. What is it about nature that you love so much?

Why I love nature is because I get peace of mind and understanding, challenges to understanding, interesting people – how interesting people?  Because nature tends to attract inquisitive people and this is where ideas are shared and you think of things you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.  Sort of like a nature think tank that grows from every interaction of every person who contributes to it.

Q. What is it that you hope people will do about the endowment?

I’m asking you to consider contributing to it, too.  With your contribution, we can build this into a world class facility that includes Balcones Canyonlands Preserves 30,000 acres.

“Read it back to me,” Hook said and I did, louder than normal to keep his attention.  After several seconds without any reply, I thought maybe he’d fallen asleep.   

“Do what you do best, Baby,” he whispered. “Grow the endowment.”

I clicked to save the document I’d been typing in and put the laptop aside, standing up to lean over the hospital bed so I could kiss his cheek.  This time, he really was asleep.  Four days later he died.

Hook Wild Basin Endowment

My husband was not a social media guy, but he and I both knew there would come a day when I would make my plea on his behalf using this blog and any other social outlets I could get my hands on.   

If you’ve already donated — a huge thank you and please stop reading now.  Hook would not have wanted me to try to empty your purse or your wallet.  You’ve helped us to raise ~ $35,000 so far which has been added to Hook’s and my initial $125,000 which launched the endowment in May 2013

If you’re considering a donation to help me move that $35,000 to $50,000 before the end of 2013 (the goal), then check out these giving levels Hook crafted based on species found at the Wild Basin Preserve in Austin, Texas:

HDU_Sceliphron caementarium

  • Black & Yellow Mud Dauber:  For $100 dollars or more, an individual will be represented by the ubiquitous and mischievous black and yellow mud dauber, Sceliphron caementarium.
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASand Wasp:  For $1,000 or more, one is represented by the lovely and industrious sand wasp, Glenostictia pictifrons.

HDU_PepsisThisbe

  • Tarantula Hawk:  For the honor of donating $5,000 or more, one is represented by the spectacular anfearless tarantula hawk, Pepsis thisbe.

Of course, these levels are suggestions only but don’t you just love Hook’s descriptions?  In his inquisitive world, we should all be enamored with wasps … bugs of any kind, really.

Your contribution to the Hook Endowment at any level would be welcomed.  If every person who reads this blog who hasn’t already donated contributed $5 online, we’d exceed the goal Hook and I set when we originally started talking about “What if?”  What if we created an endowment? What if it was for more than just St. Edward’s students? What if it was for more than just science students? What if we could entice international students to conduct creative research at Wild Basin? 

What if? 

I’m not exaggerating when I write that planning the endowment and dreaming about it became some of the last truly happy moments Hook had in this world.

In our last months together, Hook and I would end some of our evenings making plans for the fund.  At first, we talked in ambiguous terms, neither of us wanting to admit to the other what we hoped we could raise.  But one night, as we sat side-by-side on the sofa, I finally asked, “So when you say, ‘a big amount’ or ‘a huge amount,’ what are you thinking?”

Hook’s hesitation before he answered led me to think that the too-high figure in my head probably wasn’t realistic.  He turned towards me ever so slightly and said in his matter-of-fact voice, “A million dollars.”

“Me, too!” I said as I clapped my hands in excitement, “That’s exactly what I was thinking!” 

This is what I will take with me into 2014 as I begin to carve out a new narrative for myself. Part of my prologue will of course include the Hook Endowment, but the rest of my story is yet to be written. 

Until then, please be part of Hook’s epilogue for 2013 by making an online donation to his legacy if you haven’t already:

  • Online donation: http://bit.ly/1KR8YDv
    (Choose OTHER for donation then type in HOOK ENDOWMENT)

  • Mail in donation: St. Edward’s University, 3001 South Congress, Austin, TX 78704, U.S.A. re: “Hook Endowment”

For those unable to contribute because of budget constraints, please consider contributing in one of these ways:

Thank you,
Rosemary Hook

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