188/365 Go East, Young Man

The butchering of the Horace Greeley quote notwithstanding, Lee and I piled our stuff into the truck and set off towards the East coast of Florida. Our friend just got into a new Trawler boat, and he invited us to help him break it in with a weekend on the water. It’s going to be a great time.

186/365 What a Blast

We didn’t know what to expect, exactly, when we were invited by fellow soccer parents to a 4th of July celebration at their house. We knew them from games and from the brief, social interactions with them pre and post games. Still, it was not like we had developed a great camaraderie with them. That is until this evening.

What I thought would be a casual, 4th of July house party was in fact a full blow, rambunctious, over-the-top block party. We had a great time and so did the kids. It was more than I could have expected, and I’ve already caught myself thinking about how fun it’s going to be next year!


083/365 M2M: Congratulations

Lee and I, along with the kids, met up with our dear friends Matt and Michelle (aka Mattelle) for dinner tonight. It wasn’t just a normal dinner get-together, however. In addition to meeting up to discuss travel plans for our trip to Mexico this summer, Mattelle were also celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary.

That longevity in a relationship is something to be commended, especially when you consider that 22 minutes with Matt can seem like an eternity (love you, too, brother). Yet through the ups and downs and ins and outs of life, Mattelle never falter from the relationship they share, and I am so honored to be able to call them my friends. In fact, they’re much more than that. They’re family. And I am sure 22 years from now, we’ll be getting together once again over dinner and celebrating the beautiful marriage they continue to share.

Matt and Michelle, congratulations to you both.

011/365 Reconnecting

Tonight, Lee and I met up with our friends Tracey and Matt. It had been quite some time since we’d seen the two of them, and it was great to be able to catch up and reconnect.

Tracey was what I would call my first spiritual peer – a sister to me to whom I could openly share my feelings and opinions about God, religion, and spirituality. I learned so much from Tracey in terms of getting in tune with God and having a relationship with Jesus Christ, and I will always cherish the long conversations we shared about those topics and many more.

Tracey also introduced me to the concept of social justice and how, in all that we do, we should strive for betterment in our world and social justice for all human beings.

We met up at the Hard Rock Cafe in Tampa, and I think it’s only fitting this is sign stands out above all the rest in the restaurant. A wink from God if you ask me.

When Others Don’t Believe In You

In an effort to write with greater frequency, my friends and I came up with the idea of pooling our collective brain power and writing once a week about various and random topics. The idea is that we’d each take a day of the week and publish our unique stab at the issue at hand. Thus, Random Writers was born.

We wrote down a list of things about which we’d like to ponder, discuss, and write. Then we took each item and selected at random, of course, 15 topics to cover each week through the rest of the year.

I was confidently blasé with our first topic: How do you deal with people who don’t believe in you? “That’s easy,” I told myself. “Two words: *bleep* you!” Really, why would I care if someone doesn’t believe in me? As far as I’m concerned, it’s *SHRUG* and move on.

The more I pondered it, however, the more I realized it’s not that easy. To just write off those who don’t believe in me is to grossly simplify the issue, and one of the purposes of the vehicle that is Random Writers is to provide depth and perspective; to flesh out in written word the questions and topics that may weigh us down at times.

I thought and thought and thought, and I kept finding myself striking out in terms of how to best answer the question. I searched through my past for examples of people who didn’t believe in me, and I had a tough time coming up with an instance that was applicable. I thought about how I would respond today if someone didn’t believe in me, and just like that, the answer presented itself. Well, part of the answer at least.

As a result of my internal deliberations, I discovered that how I would respond to such a situation is completely a matter of proximity.

There’s a saying. “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with smart people. If you want to be really successful, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” I’ve tried to apply that in my life. I like to look at my collection of friends – my extended family, if you will – and see there are no idiots in the bunch. Sure, we’ve all had our idiotic moments – I myself am at the forefront of that list – but all in all, those that fill my life with love and support are smart, intelligent, and giving people.

As with most things, there are degrees.

There are casual acquaintances. You know, the ones you wave hello to from across the room and sometimes have a tough time remembering their names. There are also friends you know and have hung out with, but you see them few and far between, and the friendship is mostly confined to exchanging comments on Facebook or Twitter. Then there are good friends you invite to special occasions like weddings or holiday parties. And then I have my core, inner-circle friends. These are the people I’d call first if there were an emergency or crisis in my life.

The closer someone is to that inner-circle, the more I value their thoughts, feedback, and, most importantly, their opinion of me. This is what I mean by proximity. I couldn’t care less if an acquaintance of mine didn’t believe in me, but I would be quite devastated if one my core friends didn’t believe in my ability to accomplish something I set out to do. Same thing if they completely dismissed an idea or dream of mine. Because I hold in such high regard those that make up my core circle of friends, their doubt in me would in turn lead me to doubt myself.

The other part of my answer came to me in a dream, and I truly believe it was God helping me find what I needed in order to write this post. In my dream, I was living alone in an apartment and all my neighbors hated me. They wanted me to move out and they would remind of this on a daily basis by leaving boxes and other moving materials at my doorstep. I remember feeling angry and thinking how wrong they were. I remember promising myself in my dream that I would not move. Whatever it took and no matter how hard they made it, I was staying.

What that translates to for me is resolve. I am sure I will encounter many naysayers in my life as I pursue projects or ideas or help others in their own endeavors. I’ve learned the answer is not to simply dismiss them with a “*bleep* you”, but rather to look them in the eye and say, “Just watch.”

Be resolved in your pursuits and let determination be your fuel.  Couple that with keeping an open ear to the counsel of those you trust and respect, and success is sure to follow.

Please be sure to check out Jeff Smith‘s take on this question as he covers this topic in his blog on Tuesday.

Giving In

It’s a daily struggle for me to get into gear. The blessing that is working from home has a flip side, a side that is weighted down by sluggishness and complacency. I thoroughly enjoy not having to commute into work, but I also have to fight myself to ‘get going’ in the mornings and get the ball rolling. Sometimes inspiration – not to mention the crack of the boss’ whip – comes soon after 8:00 AM. Other times I feel like I don’t get out of second gear until well past 10:00.

Still, there is no rhyme or reason as to why or when the moment of energetic infusion hits. It could be a pressing deliverable for work, it could be a crisis situation (which in my work world usually means systems outage), or it could be the right song playing on the radio at the just right time.

Sometimes it’s a tweet from a friend. Sometimes it’s a blog post that I take a moment to read because, after all, I don’t feel like doing much of anything else. Sometimes something as simple as someone’s Facebook status can change my perspective and outlook for the day.

Inspiration is funny like that. She’s a clever little devil.

I’ve had this voice in my head for the past month now. It was a little, nagging whisper I’ve been ignoring for some time, and it finally go to me today.

“You need to write more!”

For weeks and weeks, it was there like that faint buzz you sometimes hear when an electronic device is turned on. I’d simply cast it aside like an annoying pet begging for food next to the dinner table.

“Go away. I’m ‘busy’.”

“No you’re not. You’ve been staring at ESPN.com for thirty five minutes.”

So as I gave into my lack of motivation this morning, I was bombarded online by message after message after message. It’s as if this little voice took over the Internet and deliberately directed content my way.

There was a tweet about how Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at some point the project DID start. My friend wrote a blog the mentions how Stephen Kings writes every day. Another friend’s blog got me thinking about what my calling is, and whether or not that voice in my head has something to do with it. This all came to a head when I received notification that someone I admire and is an inspiration to me is following me on twitter (yeah, I don’t get it either).

So here I am … BAM … shaking off the morning molasses and feeding the voice in my head. Call her my muse, call her a bitch; either way, both are probably correct.

Lazy is tempting seductress, one that fills you with emptiness and the regrets of missed opportunities. I know her well. Still, you never know when inspiration is going swoop in to help save you from lazy’s quicksand grip. Once she does, however, don’t let yourself hide behind excuses. I know I have.

The reward of the accomplishment is in looking back at all that was overcome to reach that point.