Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Happy Holidays from the Reese Family!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from our house to yours! For our family, 2021 has been like eating a dozen donuts: really awesome, but also super challenging, and something you absolutely never want to do ever again. Here’s a brief rundown:

Ky is finishing her senior year at Hurricane High School, and is in the process of applying to Dixie Tech for their Digital Media Design program. I am constantly stunned by her artistic abilities. In her graphic design classes, she makes the most incredible album covers, logos, prints on clothing, images, and posters. She is also an amazing painter and chef. Over the course of the year, she became an invested fan of the Real Salt Lake soccer team and went to many games. Kylee had an incredibly difficult year. In January, she was in a traumatic sledding accident where she broke her knee, shattered her ankle, and tore the ligaments in her knee. After almost one year, three major surgeries, and countless physical therapy, her knee has only gotten worse. She has constant pain and swelling. We took her to get a second opinion at Primary Children’s Hospital, and the doctor confirmed that it hasn’t healed right, and he will need to “start over” with a completely new knee reconstruction. It was a devastating diagnosis, and lots of tears were shed by the whole family. But we are hopeful that her new doctor will be able to get her back on track. She just had her fourth surgery with the new doctor on December 9th, and is beginning recovery. A friend set up a GoFundMe to help with college expenses since she hasn’t been able to work and save college money for the past year. If you’re interested, that website is https://gofund.me/bcb34df9

This past year, Dani graduated from high school and went on a senior trip to Disneyland. She said their motel was so sketchy that she shared a bed with a sewer roach. I chose to not ask any more questions. She went to State as part of the high school swim team, and made the 2021 Women’s Allstate Water Polo Team. I’m certain that somewhere underneath her hair, she has a pair of gills. Dani started her first year at Dixie State University. When I look at some of the science and math stuff she is working on, it looks like pure gibberish. She went to lots of RSL soccer games and has fallen head over heels in love with their goalie, David Ochoa. She went on a college service trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary which, she reports, solidified how much she loves dogs, and how much she hates cats. This year, Dani got diagnosed with Celiac Disease and is no longer able to eat wheat or gluten. Understandably, this has caused a gigantic shift in her lifestyle. She says the hardest part was having to unfollow Crumbl Cookies from social media because their videos brought too much pain. When she’s not at school or water polo, Dani works as a CNA at a local skilled nursing facility, including spending time working in their COVID unit.

Jackson is in his second year of classes at Southern Utah University. He is working toward a degree in chemistry, and is trying to do everything he can to be in a good position to apply for medical school. His girlfriend is named Organic Chemistry, and they spend ALL their time together. I think this organic chemistry class has taken three years off his life. The fact that people find this stuff enjoyable is unfathomable to me. He uses his expertise and education by working part time in the SUU Water Lab. They do water testing for all of southern Utah, including local national parks. Prior to working at the water lab, he worked for a community support program where he coordinated activities and job opportunities for teenagers with disabilities. He loved the job…though he came home on more than one occasion with deep indentations in his arm from being bit by one of his kids. He is the treasurer for the SUU Pickle Ball Club. He thinks that this sounds nerdy, but I’m confident that this makes him a certifiable babe magnet. In super exciting news, Jackson has recorded a solo piano album which will be released in 2022! I have listened to the whole album and it is mind blowing. When it comes to playing the piano, his talent is off the charts.

Mel has managed to continue her 43 year streak of being seriously awesome. She continues to work as a nurse practitioner for Intermountain Healthcare. She provides care at a few skilled nursing facilities, and, like Dani, has had her share of time working with COVID patients over the past year. She truly loves her job and the people she works with. Her favorite hobbies are doing puzzles, and cooking. She has really stepped up her cooking game over the past year. Our family joke is that Mel’s most common phrase after she makes a meal is “I could sell that.” And you know what? She’s right! Minestrone soup. Pasta primavera. Potato salad. Stir fry. You name it….she could sell it. In October, Mel had a work conference in Asheville, North Carolina. I went along because her training went until noon each day, then she had the rest of the day to explore. We took a tour of “America’s largest home,” the Biltmore Estate. We also spent a lot of time sight-seeing on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and did some incredible hikes. We loved checking out the River Arts District, and trying to eat our weight in Mexican food. Mel has become quite the bird enthusiast, and had a blast visiting the Bear River Bird Reserve to see countless great blue herons. Our favorite Sunday morning tradition is to walk to a wildlife pond 5.5 miles away to feed the ducks, look at the herons and egrets, then walk back home with a stop at a coffee shop conveniently located on our route.

In June, I released my third book, Stronger Than the Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression. I was honored to have it listed as one of the 20 Best Books of 2021 by Men’s Journal. I decided to retire from writing for UltraRunning Magazine. After being a monthly columnist for the past six years, this month’s column is my last. I have loved working with the amazing people at the magazine. This year, I ran the Hennepin Hundred, and the St. George Sizzler, a solo 100 miler I did in July. After working for the University of Utah Dialysis Program for almost 17 years, our program was bought out by DaVita Dialysis, one of the largest dialysis companies in the world. So I am now officially a social worker for DaVita Dialysis. My other big news for the year is opening my own private practice for mental health services called Bright Way. www.brightwaytherapy.com Earlier this year, Mel and I took a brief trip to San Antonio. We loved exploring the River Walk, going to the Alamo, and eating our weight in Mexican food. (Are you sensing a theme in our lives?) Last month, I checked a big item off my bucket list when I met one of my favorite authors, David Sedaris.

As a family, we went to see OneRepublic in Las Vegas. Even though we’re some of the last people in the country who have discovered the magic of the TV show Ted Lasso, we’re now on board with the rest of you fans. And have you seen the one-man Broadway show on Hulu called In & Of Itself? It’s one of the most moving, powerful things we saw all year. Please. Go watch it. It’s a family favorite as well.

Our poodle, Jack, and our Great Dane, Little Debbie, have somehow managed to remain among the living. They are old. But they still find so much joy going on walks, and stealing cookies off the counter. Honestly, their favorite thing in life is to be petted by Mel when she is going to the bathroom. As soon as they hear the sound of a toilet seat, they go running like Pavlov’s dogs to get some affection. We’re not sure how much longer Jack will be around. We don’t want to be unprepared for burial after his passing. So we have a large, empty box sitting in the garage ready for when he passes away and we need to have Jack In The Box. (Sorry, too far?)

So here we are on the brink of 2022. The New Year stands before us like the chapter of a book waiting to be written. I love the idea of a blank page. A fresh start. I hope the next chapter of your book includes overwhelming heaps of adventure, hope, love, and happiness. Oh, and donuts. Lots of donuts.

Love, Cory, Mel, Jackson, Dani, and Kylee Reese

Monday, May 17, 2021

Upcoming book: Stronger Than the Dark

I am so excited to announce the upcoming release of my latest book, Stronger Than the Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression. 

The book will be released on June 8, 2021, and is available now for pre-order from Amazon

Stronger Than the Dark is unlike anything I've written before. I've been working on the book for three years. It is raw, personal, and vulnerable. Here's a brief description:

In his gripping memoir, Cory Reese offers a compelling and vulnerable insight into the pervasive destruction of depression. Drawing on lessons learned over a decade of ultramarathon running, Stronger Than the Dark offers a powerful new approach in the battle against depression: the willingness to embrace suffering.  

In a moment of physical and mental crisis during a 314-mile race across Tennessee, he realizes with clarity life’s ultimate purpose. We are here to endure. We are here to help others turn pain into peace. We are here to be a beacon of kindness and compassion.  

Cory’s beautifully broken path of healing speaks to anyone feeling lost in insecurity or despair, and gives hope that even in life’s darkest moments, we can find the light. 

I can't wait to share the book with you!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Happy New Year from the Reese Family!


Ideally, this would have been the annual Reese Family Christmas Letter. But, like everything else in 2020, those plans went up in flames like a fire in the dumpster behind Denny’s. Then I thought, “That’s okay, I’ll just make it a ‘Happy New Year’ letter.” At least I finished it by January 21st, National Squirrel Appreciation Day. (Nope, not making that up.) Here’s a summary of our crazy year:

For those of you not following along, Jack is our senile poodle. Debbie is our Great Dane, and resident food thief. If you’re eating dinner and turn your head for a split second, Debbie will have your piece of pepperoni pizza in her stomach faster than you can say “Seabiscuit.”

Ky got her driver’s license this year, which required lots of time driving with a parent. On a related note, my blood pressure medication was increased this year. She worked at the city pool over the summer, and has been busy with school. She continues to excel with art, and made some amazing screen printing designs for tee shirts in one class. Ky got her wisdom teeth out, which led to an interesting ride home from the surgeon afterward. Through uncontrollable sobbing, she begged for a penguin and a baby koala bear. When I asked why she was crying, she said “Because baby kola bears are just so, so cute.” She recently started working at Papa Murphy’s Pizza, and now we get a family discount. #blessed A few months ago, she bought a fish, and fish tank, then snuck it up to her room hoping we wouldn’t notice. He only looks dead 60% of the time, but comes to life whenever we think it’s time to scoop him into the toilet.

Speaking of fish, Dani must have rainbow trout somewhere in her family tree. She is happiest when she is in water. On the evolutionary chart, she is dangerously close to growing gills. Over the summer, she worked at the pool as a lifeguard and taught swim lessons. As a high school Senior, she remains active on the swim team, and keeps getting faster and faster. She has also continued playing water polo, the equivalent of WWF Wrestling in water. Her team even moved up to Gold Division this year, and she received the team’s Sportsmanship Award. She loved going on a white water rafting trip. She passed the college courses she was taking in school, and completed medical coursework to earn her CNA certificate. But these things pale in comparison to her proudest achievement: sitting down to binge watch a whole season of Impractical Jokers. The show is basically like a weak attempt at Candid Camera for millennials.  

Jackson returned home from his Mormon mission to Oregon in March. It was the time when Coronavirus was just taking off. Because of issues with his immune system, and weekly infusions, there was a collective decision that it would be best to return home after six months of service. Since then, he completed an advanced EMT course. One of the course requirements was to start 30 IVs on friends and family. To me, the idea of sticking IVs into people sounds worse than attending a Nickelback concert, but he loves it. He has volunteered at a few veterinary clinics in Shiprock, New Mexico, and Chinle, Arizona. He moved to Cedar City, and finished his first semester at Southern Utah University. He works at an assisted living facility in Cedar City, and loves to destroy me at pickle ball in his spare time. He is taking his brilliant piano playing abilities to the next level as he finishes up work on a new album of piano music.

Mel has managed to sustain her 42 year-long streak of being awesome. She continues her work as a nurse practitioner at Intermountain Healthcare. She works in a rehab facility, directly with COVID patients who aren’t sick enough to require hospitalization, but are too sick to go home. With all her protective gear, and tubes connected to a ventilation system, she looks like the 2020 version of Inspector Gadget. In February, we went to New Orleans with a big group of friends to enjoy amazing music, amazing tours, and amazing food. February feels like twelve years ago. Before putting our house up for sale, Mel did most of the work remodeling our bathrooms. The force and precision with which she used a gigantic sledge hammer was equal parts inspiring and terrifying. This year she got shingles which she gave a Yelp rating of 0/10. She also just received the COVID vaccine. Her proudest achievement was completing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000k, running 621 miles in less than four months.

I just finished my 16th year working as a medical social worker with the University of Utah. In May I ran a solo 100 miler doing loops around the block that I called the Co-Run-A-Virus 100. This is proof that social isolation warps mental capacity and makes you do dumb things. Mel and I went to Virginia where I ran the Yeti 100, then we headed to Nashville for a few days. If someone abducted me and moved me to Tennessee, I don’t think I would try to escape. I have the Headspace app, and have tried to be more consistent doing daily meditation. This helps me manage the intense rage that gets triggered when Little Debbie steals my food. I read/listened to 77 books this year. I continue writing a monthly column for UltraRunning Magazine, and have been devoting lots of late nights and early mornings to working on a new book.

In January, before COVID shut everything down, we took a family vacation to Calgary, and Banff, Canada. We happened to arrive during one of the worst cold snaps in history. It was -29 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived. I can confidently verify that absolutely nothing is enjoyable when it is -29 degrees. Then COVID hit, which was particularly concerning for our family, considering that Jackson and I both need weekly infusions for nonfunctioning immune systems. We’ve been conscientious of social distancing, but you know you’ve been cooped up too long when you realize you’re having conversations with the toaster. We also have COVID to blame for watching Tiger King. I’ve never been so tempted to grow a mullet. Our family did lots and lots of hiking together during the year. It was fun to show the kids some of the trails that we’ve been running for many years. In our most spontaneous activity of the year, we drove to Page, Arizona. The night before, we learned that illusionist and TV star David Blaine was planning to hold on to 43 weather balloons that would carry him 25,000 feet into the sky, before he would disconnect from the balloons and parachute down.

2020 welcomed in a new chapter for our family. After living in our home in Hurricane, Utah for 17 years, we moved to St. George! The move happened right before Christmas, which is why this became a Happy New Year letter. We had planned to build a house, but things kept falling through. Then we found a stunning house that was almost done being built. The house stood at the base of a towering mesa that glowed red in the sunset. The neighborhood was quiet and established. The front door was modern and stylish. And it would turn our 30 minute commute to work into a 5 minute commute. We immediately fell head over heels in love. We made an offer that night, and were ecstatic when it was accepted. So here we are in St. George, in the process of turning a house into our home.

Despite all the challenges of 2020, we still have so much to be thankful for. May the New Year bring you and your family happiness, peace, and a new season of Tiger King. Love, the Reese Family