…and away we go | Reflections on 2017

Newly engaged!

I wanted to go to Sydney, Australia, since before I ever left my home state as a kid. Travel books detailing the wonderment of Oceania line a bookshelf in my home. I started watching Australian news programs after college. Something about Australia was nested deeply in my soul calling me to visit.

Thirty-two years into my life I finally adventured to Australia and New Zealand. The trip capped off what has been an amazing — the Merriam-Webster ‘amazing’ — year.  The largest event being Leann and I returned as fiancés (to each other)! That’s right. She said ‘yes’ to a lifetime of me. I am working on switching referring to Leann as my fiancé, but I am beyond ebullient to continue our adventures together as spouses. For those who have met Leann, you know how lucky I am to be with someone as smart, giving, kind, beautiful and far better than I deserve. Many friends claimed they knew it was going to happen on this trip. I’m pretty sure there was a Superbowl Squares board with proposal countries or dates that family and friends were wagering. If not, I should’ve set that up to raise wedding money. Hindsight! I’m still figuring out how to best share the proposal story with you. We’re currently on a multi-city, Chicago suburb speaking tour. Comment for details on when we’ll be in a town near you.

I lament after each trip that I may never have enough time to share the experiences, photos and stories here. And this year was full of trips so I am full of laments. Pending any last-minute changes, I was on 21 flights this year! Not long ago I considered myself lucky to be on two flights a year.

Traveling is one of my biggest catalysts. Next to meeting and conversing with new people, traveling is my fuel. Through new places and new people, I learn about cultures, traditions, food and largely about myself.

Reflections on this stupendous year will be a departure from previous ruminations (2016, 2014). Instead, I’ll start with areas for improvement and then share some of my favorite experiences and photos in another post. Continue reading …and away we go | Reflections on 2017

32 Candles

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Every year, I stare at the flames as they dance like tender leaves in the wind. “Make a wish!” my family and friends instruct. I stare again at the candles. A Tesla seems like the right wish, but what are the odds the birthday fairy gets it equipped like I want?

At the robust age of 32 I wanted something a bit different for this year’s celebration. I am done with the bar parties that produced their unique set of fuzzy memories. Last year’s fête was a backyard BBQ with picture-perfect weather. This year I aimed for less of a celebration of me and the ceaseless wheels of time and more an acknowledgement of the important people in my life. Continue reading 32 Candles

2016: A Year of Advice

When my high school counselor first told me “It’s not where you start, but where you finish,” I was disgruntled. He shared that dictum in response to where I wanted to go to college and, at the time, I expected more encouragement than pragmatism. Unfortunately for me (at the time), he was right. I didn’t get into Northwestern out of high school. Instead, I went to community college, applied again and was accepted as one of two transfers to the School of Communication at Northwestern.

His phrase, which may be a twisted epitaph, was likely born out of his role as the coach of the cross country team. As I mature and only run to catch trains, his advice has proven to be a life truth. But its utility is when looking in the past. In the moment it’s easy to lose sight of what could be.

It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.

-Søren Kierkegaard

There was a TED talk that explored how resilient we are when facing the extremes of life. People experience traumatic events and survive. They don’t return to life as they previously knew it, but they adapt, they grow, they persevere. It isn’t about where you start, but where you finish.

With a new year freshly in front of me, I set aside some time to reflect on 2016. It was a full year; full of challenges, new experiences, important life lessons. Let’s take a look back! Continue reading 2016: A Year of Advice

Unintended Gifts on #GivingTuesday

On a day focused on giving, I was presented an unexpected gift tonight on #GivingTuesday. It wasn’t wrapped and it wasn’t something on an Amazon wishlist.

For those that don’t know me that well, it’s best I share that I am quite frugal. My friends tell me I am cheap. Seldom do I put a fair value on my time and choose convenience over cost. This past weekend I drove 25 minutes to the car dealer for a “free” car wash. Then another 15 minutes to drive home. I traded an hour of my life for a $3 car wash.

As is quickly becoming a pattern, whenever I hustle out of the office to catch an express train home, something goes amiss. One train lost power at the station and was unable to roll homeward. Another train was halted due to a collision at a station in between my home and the city. Continue reading Unintended Gifts on #GivingTuesday

In Praise of Lester Holt

For a stint in my teens, I baby sat three young boys with my sister. My sister had far more experience than I when it came to babysitting. The boys were all under the age of 8 and recently got a puppy. One weekend, my sister wasn’t able to watch the boys so the parents opted to give me a shot at solo duty. The boys were very well behaved…when my sister and I were there. But when it was just me the dynamic changed. The numbers were against me. Mutiny was inevitable. In addition to the puppy, the boys added a hamster to their burgeoning petting zoo.

Wrangling three young boys isn’t easy, especially when fights erupt over allegations of cheating at Super Smash Brothers. One of the boys “hit” the other. Tears began to form. Whether or not they were mine or the boys you’ll never know.

I managed to keep them entertained and out of the ER for the evening. When it was bed time, the two older boys put on their pajamas without incident, but the little guy proved to be more of a challenge. His jammies were of the Superman variety and included a cape. Beyond my pajama envy, there was a problem. He didn’t want to brush his teeth. Rather than be the cool babysitter who didn’t care whether or not he brushed, I feared my future as a babysitter rode on his dental hygiene. His parents would ask him during breakfast if he brushed his teeth and if he answered negatively, my future at getting tenure as a babysitter was gone like Superman out of a phone booth. Continue reading In Praise of Lester Holt