Succinctly

Today has been a reflective day for me. Thoughts, like a steam train in my head, rolling and rambling non stop. I’ve been thinking about my life, my relationships, my kids, and what happens next. The movie in my head has been a series of flash-cut scenes full of memories, ideas, and wishes yet to be fulfilled.

2014 is a milestone year for me. The past ten years have been whirlwind and amazing. I found myself taking mental inventory of the key moments, and I thought I’d capture them as best I could using a simple phrase.

2004: My world came crumbling down.

2005: I was a complete and total idiot.

2006: I was introduced to the most amazing friends ever.

2007: I jumped out of a plane.

2008: I took the most amazing trip ever.

2009: My world was made complete.

2010: I learned to change my mind.

2011: I got to climb poles for a living.

2012: Music guided me.

2013: I was reborn.

2014: …… so far, so good.

Memory Lane

A Belated Love Letter

Sometimes life – and laziness – tend to get in the way. I noticed that when I came to the realization I had not posted to my blog since the 13th. Ugh. So much for me writing every day.

Still, there are times when the ability to sit at the keyboard and put together a post just isn’t feasible. Yard work needs to get done, kids need to be shuttled to events, beer needs to be consumed with friends. And sometimes, the routine just needs to make way for something special.

It was nine years ago on the 15th of February that I first met my wife Lee. It was at a blind date at Lee Roy Selmon’s restaurant in New Tampa (I know, I’ve got super-style, right?). I still remember being nervous as I spoke to my friend on the phone as I waited for her to arrive. I remember the confident smile on her face as she introduced herself. I remember going home that night with a sense of ‘Wow!”, and looking forward to the next time I’d see her again.

Since we met on the 15th of February – the day after Valentine’s Day – Lee and I refer to that date as our Valenversary. It’s worked out for us since we don’t have the pressure of trying to do something for Valentine’s Day knowing we’ll be going out to dinner, or doing something special, the following evening. As Lee and I enjoyed our Valenversary dinner Saturday night, I made the comment that our first date felt like a lifetime ago. She looked up from her plate, smiled coyly, and replied, “That’s because it has been. We’ve lived a lifetime’s worth of experiences these past nine years.”

And she was right. It’s such a blessing to be able to rattle off the laundry list of cool things we’ve done since we met. In 2006 we were introduced to our ‘music family’, the people that make up our close circle of friends with whom we’ve shared so many experiences. We’ve been to so many music concerts and live shows, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. We’ve traveled for music festivals, and have gotten to meet and hang out with some very cool performers. We’ve been on six Rock Boats, as well as two other Sixthman cruises (Zac Brown and Elvis).

In 2008, Lee and I traveled to Costa Rica and had a week of jungle experiences. We paired that with a trip to Mexico for a relaxing stay at an all-inclusive resort. We loved it so much, we bought into their vacation package and have stayed with them several times since (we were married at the Palace resort on Isla Mujeres in 2009).

We’ve connected with the social media community in Tampa. That has allowed us to meet so many fascinating people, one of which is Mama Lucy who is transforming the lives of children in Tanzania.

Lee and I have found our spiritual home in Relevant Church, and we’ve been able to share and celebrate our faith together, despite our very different religious backgrounds.

And through it all, the most amazing part is the transformation I’ve experienced because of Lee. To say she saved my life is an understatement. She was an angel sent to me when I needed it most. She opened my eyes to what great love looks like. She’s challenged me to be a better man, a stronger husband, and a vessel for God’s work here on earth. Although it took me some time to realize it, she’s been exactly what I needed in my life.

No, we’re not perfect. We argue and fight, and we get on each other’s nerves from time to time. Still, sharing my life with Lee has taught me those disruptions are just that; disruptions. Brief, momentary hiccups that don’t come close to comparing to the mountainous joy we otherwise share on a regular basis.

These past nine years have been spectacular, and I am giddy at the thought of what forever after has in store for us.

159/365 Temporary Home

It is so rare that I travel for work. Take away my three weeks last summer for the work stoppage and it’s been at least five years since the last time I went on a business trip. But when I do travel, there is something in me that thoroughly enjoys the feeling of stepping into my hotel room for the first time. It’s a giddiness I can’t really explain.

Even though my trip will be a brief one, my temporary abode was a very comfortable and cozy one.

Panna

Colloquialisms are cool. They’re relaxed, informal forms of language that at times form a level of intimacy in dialogue. They can also be terms of endearment. In Spanish – specifically the Spanish spoken in Venezuela – the word ‘panna’ is a colloquialism. It means friend, but more so in the context of ‘buddy’, and it’s derived from the English word partner.

I was thinking of the word partner this weekend following a wedding my wife and I attended in Puerto Rico. During the ceremony, the minister made the statement, “Don’t try to find the perfect partner for your life. Rather, try to be the perfect partner to someone else.” It’s one of those quotes that made me look at Lee, she at me and forced us both to hold back a tear. I also think it perfectly defines what one should strive for in a marriage. After all, a marriage is, at its core, a partnership.

This quote stuck with me the following day as Lee and I ventured up and down the streets of Old San Juan. If you’ve never been, the best way of describing Old San Juan is New Orleans meets San Francisco meets St. Augustine. The Spanish influenced architecture is prominent and made more stunning by the vibrant, deco colors of the buildings that are set on oftentimes steep hills. The balconies of the buildings are adorned with wrought iron and there’s no escaping the presence of the fort and protective wall that once surrounded the entire city. It’s an enchanting destination with a world of history, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to return to Puerto Rico. Still, the best part of the trip was being able to share that experience with my wife and my partner. Or should I say panna.

I am so lucky and blessed to have the relationship I do with her, one where the formality of a partnership is purposefully ignored in favor of the comfort and intimacy of a true friendship. At its best, we finish each other’s thoughts and sentences. It’s no longer surprising to either of us when we do, but I will admit it’s still a little freaky.

At its worst, the fights we seldom have are quickly resolved because being mad at each other usually means being apart from each other, and being apart from each other almost always means being alone inside. This is not good for either of us. The relationship Lee and I share is one where we can only achieve together those things we cannot achieve individually. Our marriage is a working example of Aristotle’s concept of holism whereby the whole is more than the sum of its parts. That being said, Lee will tell you that at its worst the ‘hole’ in the equation is 100% me.

As we come off of Thanksgiving and gear up for the holiday season, I am so very thankful for my wife and everything she’s given me in the nearly six years I’ve known her. It’s hard to remember my life before I met Lee. It’s certainly impossible to imagine a life without her. As I think about all the things I want for Christmas, I know I already have the greatest gift of all. I have a panna I get to discover anew and enjoy every day of the year. It’s truly wonderful. Or should I say, colloquially, awesome.