We each have those moments, those "I should do..." which later turn into "I wish I had..." moments. Often times, we have good reasons for why we let the moment go, but other times we wish we had taken the initiative, the risk, the time, the step out of our comfort zone. These are often the moments that hold the greatest joy, and in many cases, life's greatest lessons and reminders of what is truly important. Being at a Rag-n-Bone Man concert while he was performing “Human”
(if you get the chance, go see this guy, you won't regret it)
Since moving to Virginia, we have music playing in the house far more often than we have the television on. Early one Sunday evening, I was cycling through new releases on Spotify and came across the new album by Rag-n-Bone Man. While the entire album is fantastic, his song, “Human” struck a chord with me and became a regular in my rotation. A few weeks later, I received an alert that he was going to be at the 9:30 Club in D.C.. Even though I had to be there on business during that time, I hesitated as the venue wasn't one I was familiar with, I knew I would have to make the four hour drive home after the concert was over, and I thought that I'd wait until he performed closer to home. Ultimately, I decided to get the tickets and invited a friend of mine to go at the last minute. The venue was small, general admission, but I quickly realized that with his talent, he may not play a venue this small again. Realizing this, and being three rows back from the stage when he performed "Human" was a moment that was easily worth stepping out of my comfort zone.
Lesson: Don't count on a second chance to do something as you may not get it...
Crossing the finish line of my first 5k race
(this is actually a photo of me crossing the finish line in my SECOND 5k event!)
I’m not ashamed to admit that the last few hundred yards, I put everything I had into crossing the finish line and as I did so, tears were streaming down my face. I felt that euphoria that I that I think is referred to as a "runner's high", though you could hardly consider what I had just done as running. However, you have to understand, just four months earlier the thought of walking up a flight of stairs, or walking to the end of the driveway seemed daunting to me. But with my wife’s encouragement, we started eating healthier, walking several times a week, and eventually I set a goal of training for our first 5k. My goal was simply to finish, especially after straining a calf muscle a few weeks prior to the event. But there I was, with "Sound of Silence" by Disturbed blaring through my headphones, one song earlier on my playlist than I expected it to be playing as I crossing the finish line of my first ever 5k.
Lesson: Every journey begins with a single step...
Watching the sun set in Negril
(this was before I put the camera down, it was even more beautiful than this!)
Twenty four hours earlier, we were getting dressed up, heading out for a rare night on the town, stepping out of our comfort zone. Earlier in the day, we renewed our wedding vows on the beach of an all inclusive couples resort. This moment, after months of rediscovering who "we" meant. Countless miles of walking, jogging, strolling and running towards a healthier lifestyle. At that specific moment, we were walking down the beach, without a care in the world. We stopped at a local dive bar to have a beer and while I was trying to get the perfect picture, my wife said to me, “don’t worry about taking the damn picture, just enjoy the moment!” And we did.
Lesson: Sometimes you just need to be in the moment. . .
Meeting Garth Brooks and talking to him about getting an MBA.
(like hanging out with family, except "family" is one of the best selling recording artists of all time...)
Philadelphia, up and back? No. I mean, I am a fan of Garth Brooks and love attending CMO Club events, but a twelve hour round trip within a twenty four hour period was hard to swallow, even if it meant the chance to meet both Garth and Trisha. But this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and Karen was game, so we made the trip. We had dinner with other CMO's, talking about branding and social influence, then "popped" back stage before the show. After a couple of minutes, this non-assuming, very laid back couple came in and chatted with the group like we'd known them for years. Which, in many ways we have, we practically grew up with them. My "moment" though, was when Garth talked about going back to school to get his MBA, graduating, I think, when he was 51 years old. Legitimately going back to school, heading to classes and putting the work in. I asked him "why" as I was thinking about getting my MBA at the time, and he told us that he wanted a "back up plan", that it was something he wanted to do, felt it would make him stronger and give him more options as he got older. Lesson: You are never too old...
Getting my second "A" in my MBA Program
(yes, cheesy with the logo apparel next to the sign, but I'm paying good money for this degree...)
So you figured out that I made the decision to school to get my MBA. A decision that was years in the making. Deciding on what to study, and where to study it. Was it worth the money? Worth the time? Was it something that I ultimately wanted? Finally deciding to go for it, and when the first text book arrived, sh*t got real. The truth is, the first class was easy. It was meant just to break us in. I honestly don't think anyone got less than an A, and if they did, it was a signal to reconsider their journey. It was the second class where the decision to pursue an MBA really hit, and hit hard. Thinking about doing it became actually doing it and suddenly my spare time was occupied with lectures, lessons, and late night calls with my cohort group. The forgotten stress of cramming for an exam suddenly hitting where it hurts. Until I earned an "A" in my second class, then it was all worth while. Lesson: A reminder that you are never too old...
"Shots" with my nieces and nephews on July 4th
(no minors were taking shots in this photo, I promise!)
This trip likely wouldn't have happened in prior years. I tend to like to take on new challenges, go places that we haven't been before, so heading back to see family typically isn't as high on my list. Regrettably. This year, we made it a priority to see family on both sides of the aisle, hosting a reunion of sorts at our house with family on my side, and traveling back to New Hampshire to see family on my wife's side. Thankfully, we were able to convince one of our nieces to make the trip from Arizona, which made it a pretty full house. On the 4th of July, we attending a quintessential New England town parade, complete with antique fire engines and tractors and later gathered at my brother-in-law's home for a family cook out. Later that afternoon, I found myself hanging out with "the cousins", actually our nieces and nephews, doing a shot of "who knows what" and enjoying the moment being around family. Lesson: Above all else, family matters...
A shot of tequila with my wife after getting our tattoos
(photo credit: shareably.net, because I didn't get a good photo of my wife at the time...)
Ok, so reading this, one might think that doing "shots" are a major part of my life! In fact, the only two that I had in 2017 were attached to favorite moments (and my wife doesn't drink), this one after getting my first tattoo at the ripe old age of...almost 50. As is "custom", we went to a local bar and had a shot of tequila afterwards. But where did this journey begin? My wife has always wanted a tattoo. She is the bad ass of the family, but never got one for a variety of reasons, so for her upcoming 50th birthday (still months away), I decided to get her one. Which means I found the artist, she chose the design. In the process of researching artists, I became enamored with the idea of getting my first tattoo as well. Though now, the rest of the story. My wife has a high threshold for pain, I am kind of a wimp. A big wimp. Huge. So the joke was that my tattoo might wind up being the dot where the needle hit my ankle before I went screaming out of the studio. But, I survived, nearly in tact, and a shot of tequila never tasted so good. Oh and yes, I am now sporting a design featuring an "enso circle" with a branch from the tree of life on my ankle. My wife's tattoo is more bad ass than mine, and I'm ok with that. Lesson: Sometimes, a little pain is worth what you gain
Watching Lily lay a wreath down at Arlington National Cemetery
(over 35,000 volunteers for over 240,000 buried at Arlington National Cemetery during Wreaths Across America)
We have volunteered in the past, quite a bit, but never really as a family. My wife had the idea of going to D.C. for the weekend and volunteering with Wreaths Across America, laying wreaths at the grave stones of those in our military who are interred there. A few weeks before going, I put a message out on Facebook, asking friends who may have loved ones buried at Arlington if they would want us to place a wreath on a specific grave. All told, we heard from nine friends, each with a loved one, each with a different story. Some passed generations ago, some just recently. From all branches of the service, all walks of life, all ranks. When our daughter laid the wreath at the first site, the moment hit home in many ways. The impact of being there. Of volunteering as a family. Of the sacrifice of those who have served, from corporals to admirals. Of the stories of each of those passed, and those family members who shared those stories. I'm not sure I understood then the significance of the moment, but as we received back notes of gratitude from each family, we realized how much of a difference we made that weekend, and how much impact that weekend had on us. Lesson: The smallest gesture can often make a huge impact...
As I close this out, I know many who are glad to see 2017 in their rear view mirror and look forward to the opportunity for renewal that 2018 offers. As I look forward to 2018, I realize that for me, 2017 was in many ways a year of "moments", moments that in previous years I may not have embraced. But as I march down the path towards turning 50 and look to the year ahead, I've become more aware of what these moments mean. Of how important each one can be. And as the clock strikes midnight, I'm glad I did. Happy New Year!