• Good grief!

    **Now, before I seem like a simpleton, I want you to know that I understand the phrase good grief” is a euphemism for “good god” and isn’t meant to be dissected independent of its original meaning. However, I do find it interesting that the association with god is grief...kind of like saying “why god?” (And don’t fret, I’m not planning on doing a word study in this post. I’ll save my nerdiness for other topics.)**

    If you ask me, “good grief” seems like an oxymoron. Throw it in with the living dead, an open secret, and the original copy -- it just doesn’t fit together. Even when it comes from the mouth of an adorable cartoon character like Charlie Brown -- it doesn’t make anymore sense.

    I was just thinking about this phrase in light of current events. You see, my beagle, Elli, a companion of 8½ years died yesterday as the respiratory disease she dealt with finally got the best of her. She was a very special dog and is now absent from the lives of many people who cared for her deeply.

    Right now, loss equals grief -- and it doesn’t feel good.

    But experience has taught me that grief eventually fades. And it doesn’t just fade, it changes into something beautiful. Something full of joy, inspiration, and lasting in spirit.

    This metamorphosis happened after my grandpa’s death a few years ago. While dealing with the heavy thoughts and emotions that accompanied the event, I was able to focus like never before on the things that matter most in life.

    It focused me on the present.
    It convinced me not to waste what I was given.
    It strengthened my convictions.
    It enabled me to love more.
    And It changed my course in life.

    So maybe “good grief” isn’t as much an oxymoron as I originally thought. Maybe grief can be good? Or maybe it’s better stated, “good can come from grief”.

    Either way, if you’re currently going through a time of hardship or loss, I sympathize with you -- IT SUCKS -- but let me lend you a ray of hope that good may come from grief.

  • The 3 Verbs, pt3 "To Connect"

    If you missed pt1 “To Live”, click here. If you missed pt2 “To Discover”, click here.

    Phone lines...
    The Internet...

    ...“things that connect”?
    {Applause, applause, applause... win $25,000 on Pyramid in the 1980’s. Who-Ah!}

    - - - - -

    On March 25, 2012, my job will be to live, discover, & connect inside one of the U.S. states for a year. And to help you understand a little bit more about the nature of this adventure, I’ll be spending this week “Showcase Showdown-ing” the verbs I’m trying to embody.

    The third action is “to connect”.

    This is the heartbeat behind what I do. I simply love promoting great causes, people, and organizations. I get some crazy, whacked out joy when jumping in to volunteer -- it simply feels good to do good to others.

    Some of the ways this will be seen throughout the year is by highlighting local charities via the weekly blog or video, organizing a community project, donating proceeds to charities from items sold, and encouraging people to try volun-touring (spending some vacation time volunteering). I have a hunch that these venues are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to living out the verb “connect” and I can’t wait to get started.

    If you followed any part of the 48 by 48 adventure, you’ll know this was one of the three loves that compelled me to travel the states for a year doing volunteer, service, and charity work. I hope to continue this form of philanthropy, not by driving 43,500 miles across the country, but by focusing my energies in on one region.

    I hope you’ll be as excited to join me in this journey as you were in the past.

    - - - - -

    Who/what/where do you feel most connected to in life? Do you wish you were more connected to something else?

  • The 3 Verbs, pt2 "To Discover"

    If you missed pt1 “To Live”, click here.

    I’m the kid who always asked for a metal-detector for his birthday-- sadly, I never got one. I’d see people out on the beach or after baseball games sweeping back and forth, searching for covered treasure, and I wished, so badly, to be them. I’d imagine myself deep in the forest, hot on the trail of some lost fortune -- digging it up -- then relishing in my find of ten (or more) million dollars (tax free, of course).

    It was a great dream to have as a kid. (Who knows? Maybe as a senior citizen, I’ll get one for my birthday.)

    - - - - -

    On March 25, 2012, my job will be to live, discover, & connect inside one of the U.S. states for a year. And to help you understand a little bit more about the nature of this adventure, I’ll be spending this week “Bob Barker-ing” the verbs I’m trying to embody.

    The second action is “to discover”.

    Let’s just say, I want to become a metaphoric metal-detector, leading others to find that hidden treasure buried deep inside the state. Essentially, I’ll be participating in and encouraging others to enjoy the best the state has to offer.

    Whether it be eateries/drinkeries, places of interest, events, cultural activities, the outdoors & wilderness, or the abstract and unusual, I’ll be stomping out the old statement, “there’s nothing to do around here!”

    A short list of possible places include: diners, monuments, historical areas, theme parks, weird/haunted/mysterious areas, pubs, artists, town celebrations, holiday outings, concerts, festivals, cultural activities, unique sporting events, stadiums, parks and recreational outfits -- and a whole gamut of places suggested by those who know best -- the locals.

    I’m hoping people will take interest in this, which is why I’m opening most of these experiences to a vote, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” (without me being eaten by sewer alligators). I will also be highlighting these places in the weekly blog and through the twenty or more videos uploaded during the year.

    - - - - -

    Where do you usually find the best things to do in your neck of the woods?

  • The 3 Verbs, pt1 "To Live"

    I love the tavern scene in the movie, Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye and Lazar Wolf are  celebrating the wedding arrangement of Tevye’s daughter Tzeitel. They are so overjoyed that they break out in chorus singing about the good times and the bad, but that in this present moment, they should drink “L’chaim” (to life).

    In essence, they were saying that life should be celebrated (or at least embraced) no matter the situation.

    - - - - -

    On March 25, 2012, my job will be to live, discover, & connect inside one of the U.S. states for a year. And to help you understand a little bit more about the nature of this adventure, I’ll be spending this week “Vanna White-ing” the verbs I’m trying to embody.

    The first is “to live”.

    Simply put, my aim is to be absorbed into the state’s unique culture. My plan is to be exposed to a wide variety of people and places while seeking out the things that make this area different than anywhere else. Whether it be the way people speak, their affiliations with religion, art, or the world around them, I’m hoping to jump right in to the middle of it all to become like them.

    Another way to say this, is that by year’s end, I’d like for the people inside the state to consider me one their own. It’s a lofty aspiration, but I think it’s attainable.

    Of course, the meaning behind the word “living” also denotes the idea of sharing. Like Christopher McCandless’ final words in his diary, “happiness is only real when shared”, I think life is only real when shared. So, through a weekly blog, filled with pictures, stories, and observations, along with twenty or more videos throughout the year, I will be sharing this “verb” with you and the world.


    - - - - -

    I’d like to hear your suggestions on the ways I could best dive in to the culture of any state. Where would you start? Who would you seek out?

    Also, for your enjoyment, a link to the song, “To Life!” http://youtu.be/Vvr8AjT0aD0

  • Prelude to Here-A-Year

    - - - - -
    Merrill: So, when you say "go", you mean, just go?
    Donald Sinclair: Uh, begin, commence, start moving... theoretically you have been racing for about forty seconds now, and so far Mr. Schaffer is winning because he's nearest to the door.
    {Rat Race. Paramount Pictures, 2001. Film.}
    - - - - -

    No doubt about it, starting is one of the toughest things to do in life. It's easy to dream, plan, and talk about, but it's super difficult to actually begin. I almost think that the Chinese proverb which says "a long journey begins with the first step", fails to mention the journeyer is usually shoved or tripped to start that first step.

    I'm no different.

    Even though I traveled for an entire year, volunteering in each state, living out of my car, and staying with strangers, one would think it would be easier starting another adventure. But alas, I still get the same knots in my stomach that hold me back from what I know I am suppose to be doing. It seems that once I've decided to put that first step forward, I am met with an equal force pushing me back. Someone doesn't want me to do it, others think it's unwise, my brain wants to sleep in, money is lacking, a contact falls through, family emergencies happen -- resistance finally wins and I settle back into step.

    Don't get me wrong, those are all fine excuses, but they are only pretendants holding me back from actually starting.

    So I fight back. With all my strength I fight back. I strap up my metaphorical boots and trudge ahead over the next mountain. Practically speaking, I do these:

    1. Set dates. I purposefully set up a short timeline to force me into getting everything done when the launch date comes. There's no time like the present.
    2. Passionately know why? If I'm not convinced then no one else will be. Knowing why and it's companion, desire, need to go hand in hand when starting something. Desire gets me up in the morning and knowing why keeps me going.
    3. Believe in beta. Knowing that what I am doing is ever changing and has the ability to grow and change gives me confidence I will get more than one shot at making it be what it's suppose to be.
    4. Partner with the like-minded. Finding others who love the idea helps during the times of discouragement and disbelief. They cheer, fight, and find support when it's needed most.

    March 25, 2012 is coming fast, so raise a glass with me to starting -- and to starting well. Cheers!

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