Sunday, March 6, 2016

An Eye for Video and Exploration

Sometimes I stare at a blank page and think "What could I share that will inspire or help others reflect on their lives?"

...and then I freeze up and I think, "who am I to inspire people?"

...and then I remind myself that I'm "Jack's Dad"...

...and he's awesome

...so if I just share what he's created, it will inspire you...

...and I think it'll make you smile, too.

I love so many things about him, and these videos reflect the way he takes a creative (and not easy) journey through whatever he does. (after this, go to his channel...)

Like...

The time he took his school assignment and made it into a blockbuster horror movie (not to mention the fact it made me laugh out loud!)


Or the time he first learned about Jazz drumming and I got to "Star" in one of his episodes exploring his two favorite things right now...jazz drumming with a GoPro...

Or the time he learned to make his own Minecraft server, complete with public IP address mapped to a domain name...all for free...(with some IT help from his Dad), and then proceeded to duplicate the Minecraft story in his own real-life episode (if you know anything about the game, this is really cool)...




Or finally the time he explored the limits of his taste buds with his bud...  

Thanks for all the smiles, Jack. I can't wait to see what you explore next....

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Underwater Family Adventure

Our most recent vacation involved our first snorkeling adventure.

It certainly won’t be our last. The whole experience is something every business could learn from. From the price, the 'on-boarding experience', complete with river boat to the catamaran, to the core experience of snorkeling, to the snacks, drinks, end of the event sail into the setting sun, and the exit...everything was perfect.

We had so much stinking fun … it was scary, new, fun, lovely, silent, noisy, lonely, shared...all at the same time.

…and while I hate espousing the wonders of technology, I have to say my underwater camera ($100 steal on Black Friday…Nikon AW130) was an absolute gem…not only for these underwater shots, but for the adventure days (horses and off-roading)…where we ended up with some fantastic shots that the ‘good’ camera would have failed at and a phone would have dropped.

So lets begin with the ever popular selfie

Although, this is nothing new. Me and the missus have been doing that since we met in 1986...before it was fashionable :-)

Our snorkeling started on a catamaran…simply a beautiful day/boat/event...



When the boat stopped at our first site, we were given literally a 2 second primer on WHERE to find the flippers and mask…not how to use them…so after finding our gear and getting my youngest on his way, I plunged into the choppy waves...

…and saw a WW 2 German boat:

…and how life grows from anything

I then wondered how my kids were doing? Maybe they were nervous, timid?

Far from it!!

…Renna looked like she didn’t even need a snorkel to breathe underwater:

…Cole was enjoying his own adventure and swooped right by me

…Julia was practicing her Special Forces diving skills,

…and I later learned that Jack was getting used to this new experience by jumping on and off the boat like a spy movie complete with GoPro camera.

Our next stop was a coral reef.

Not only did we see an amazing underwater world...


...but I got to hold my wife’s hand while we explored this magical place :-)

Then I just lost myself in finding very interesting sea life to take photos of...




The ultimate find, though, the absolute best part of this experience, was watching how all of us utterly enjoyed the experience:

Jack

Julia

Renna

Me

Mom

And of course Cole, who immersed himself in this.

By the time we finished, we all agreed that this was one of our best adventures yet. And you want to know a secret? IT WAS ONLY $36 each!!! (Thanks Viator!)  Now THAT is awesome. I actually suggested they charge more in the future, but she just smiled and knew that the more amazed I was at the trip, the more I would tell others...

…Thank you Aruba Catamaran Sail with Snorkel!…you gave our family memories we’ll never forget.



Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Pursuit of...

It’s been a tough month. Of course as I type this I can hear anyone who knows me and our family saying, “He’s an idiot. He’s got EVERYTHING. What does he have to be sad about?"

…and they’d be right. 

Amazing wife, family, home, enough money to take great vacations, get a ‘fun’ car, and fund my kids experiences.

But I’m still unhappy. unsatisfied. restless.

I’ve pursued happiness in a lot of ways, and to my surprise I’ve achieved many of them already. (sounds arrogant. I don’t even like typing this, but maybe I’ll uncover some truth along the way)

Maybe it’s what I haven’t pursued. Maybe it’s that since I’ve only had a written ‘plan’ when at work, and listed my contributions when at work, that i’ve ended up depending on my life satisfaction based on work.

How screwed up is that?

I love creating. I love being a part of a team/club/group that all is passionate about accomplishing something, creating something wonderful. I’ve also found I love it when I help others be successful.

I don’t feel I’m doing any of that right now.

Work is…unexplainable. Even though I’ve received great reviews, I am constantly anxious about becoming irrelevant…to the point of one person’s side comment ruins me for the rest of the day…makes me question my judgement in how I direct my work...and destroys any family connection time at night.

Music is…nearly nonexistent: I’ve recorded and performed all over, but am wholly sad about what I’ve done. I feel I’ve wasted my abilities because I’m not disciplined enough to schedule time to compose. Sure I play at church, but I’m completely replaceable…it’s not something I can uniquely contribute to.

Kids are…a miracle: They are turning out to be amazing people, but my one purpose is to raise them in a godly way, and I’ve never read a bible verse at dinner. I’ve never showed them how to study the bible. I talk about managing money all the time, but have I even walked them through a budget?

Wife is…perplexing: I don’t really know why she’s so kind to me still. 

Friends are…??? I don’t even know. I have a couple guys I can call on, but I look at my brother, or look at others and they have a rich community of friends surrounding them. Wow would that be nice. But who has the time for that? I guess they do…I have no idea how though…it’s not like I’m spending load of time doing stuff I love at the expense of others...my time is spent accomplishing tasks that it seems I need to: driving kids (although my wife does tons more), homework, work work, travel (for work), dishes, house maintenance, outside house stuff, and the time I have left I try to reconnect with my wife. 

What bothers me most is that it looks like I’m playing…the martyr: Sacrificing my time, my opportunities for others and then in some dark corner letting this sadness grow to show myself how good of a person I am.

…and then just yesterday I received an old obituary my dad found of my great, great grandma:


Jan 8, 1932:
Born in 1850…traveled to America in 1870…married in 1878...Mrs. Hintermeister was one of the best known women in the Taylor Ridge community. All thru her life her first thought was for the comfort and happiness of others and she practiced much self denial for the benefit of those she loved. Thru her later years she took special interest in the young people of her community and rejoiced over their achievements.

"Her children shall rise up and call her blessed," for they can truly say, "She hath done what she could."


She practiced self denial? Took special interest in the young people of her community? Rejoiced over their achievements?

Doesn’t say anything about how productive in the community economy she was…what achievements she made…what positions she held...

Except it does...

…it says she was one of the best known because her first thought was for the comfort and happiness of others...

I have so much to learn. I've got to get better. I don’t even know where to begin. What would my obituary say? I thought about it once and I don’t feel it’s gotten any better. I did think about blogging about how I can help others and then list the results, but that seems vain. I could blog about what I’m grateful for, but that seems like I’m bragging (I have this, that, the other thing, …). 

Maybe I should just look in the mirror, tell myself to shut the f*ck up, grow up, and start….

…but start what?



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sunsets, Aruba, and Peace

By the time we landed in Aruba, we had already had quite an adventure in New York City on New Years Eve. To be honest, we wondered if we would find this island as wonderful as the island we visited the night before.

Then we saw the sunsets. And by the time we left, we had remembered that if we pause each evening...together...thinking about what we have...who we love...how precious our time is...we will enjoy life more, appreciate the moments more, and not let little troubles cloud our attitude...

...after all, as you can see...a few clouds makes the experience richer, more textured, all around better than if it was only a clear horizon with no context.

(click photo to view larger photos...they're really awesome larger!)
Apparently our resort on Eagle Beach was THE PERFECT location to view sunsets

The glistening wet sand as the waves retreat into the water added a unique sparkle as if we were witnessing a 'double' sunset.

The ability to float in the very salty, perfect temperature water and take in the sunset was unforgettable. I love how the silhouettes of my kids reinforce this immersive experience we had...all together.


Some sunsets were enjoyed laying on the beach chairs and letting the trade winds keep us perfectly content...



Even the US Coast Guard (who patrols the waters between Aruba and Venezuela) added to the beauty of this night's nearly cloudless sunset.

Still other nights the pirate ship, announcing a night of fun was about to commence, provided a stunning pairing to the sun as it set.


Some sunsets became more stunning with guest appearances by various ships

I learned early to turn the camera around and capture who I get to share these sunsets with. I think it just makes them all the more better.


Especially if we can share the sunset by floating next to each other

One of my favorites. My waterproof camera provided some fantastic sunset photos...I love how the waves sparkle like diamonds in the setting sun light.

...or this one that shows how the setting sunlight is still strong enough to pierce waves and show wave-innards.

Or how this sunset captured native wild-life in flight

...or how my wife simply paused...relaxed...focused...and let herself be carried away by the setting sun

Of course my girls couldn't resist taking a handstand photo with the sunset!

Last sunset of our trip was also enjoyed by pelican and sailboat. I honestly think we had the better view...the sailboat people didn't have an awesome sailboat in their view!

A different sunset, same beautiful lady.

Last view, a touch of clouds...adding to the texture, an observation I forget far too often.

A happy, beautiful, content lady at peace. That is the goal, after all, isn't it?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Panic - Diplomacy - Exhilarating New Years Eve in NYC

It started with a wash of panic. All that I planned! Ruined!

...then I took a breath...and thought, "Lets see where this takes us"...maybe this could even be an Opportunity Curve

...then I was nice to a stranger

...and opened myself up to what could be...

...and ended up guiding our family through one of the best evenings of our lives...

...and NONE of it would have happened without first getting an email with bad news.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I opened the email from United. It listed our flights to Aruba: Minneapolis to Chicago to Aruba. My eyes narrowed. The email said the plane from Chicago to Aruba, painstakingly scheduled to perfection to arrive just when I wanted, was canceled, and we were rerouted from MSP to Denver, to Atlanta, to Aruba...arriving a whole day late.

Luckily it was months until the trip, and I knew enough about well-meaning, but inferior computer algorithms that with the limited data it had, was just trying to reroute us the best it could. I settled my panic, and called a human at United to work through a solution that worked for all parties. I even offered to travel a day early so we could arrive to Aruba on time. It would cost me money in hotel, but my top priority was to get to Aruba for the full week of fun.

The lady at United received my diplomatic offer well, and even accepted my request to travel the night before on an EARLIER flight...just in case of bad weather we would have a whole additional flight to get to our connection location.

We were all set.

Fast forward to 3 days before our trip...

...it finally sunk in that since our overnight was in Newark, we could, possibly, visit Manhattan on New Years Eve. The family was curious, but naturally concerned with the world saying that NYC is not for the feint of heart on new years eve. (and was it even safe?)

BUT, since one of my only declared missions for our family is to offer experiences they wouldn't normally get, I decided to lead the family through a whirlwind tour of The City.

We landed at 6, arrived at hotel by 7, and from 8pm to 12:30am, we...

Took a cab from the hotel to Newark Penn Station...and bought MTA passes to World Trade Center (actually, we were planning Times Square station, but on the way, my youngest seemed sad that he wouldn't see the Statue of Liberty...and so adjusted our destination on the fly...
My ladies in front of Lady Liberty


The family in front of same...with cool clouds all lit up


We saw ground zero memorial, the Freedom tower, and the financial district (along with the NY Film Academy).
Somber...even on New Years Eve. My son the MP sure seemed deep in thought, "This is where it all started for me"

Freedom tower...and a family that seems always up for adventure

Freedom tower selfie!

We then hopped the subway up to Central Park, walked to a friendly McDonalds, and then to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree all lit up. My wife has wanted to see this for years!

...but...they had already turned it off. Sad faces all around.
Others from Europe were sure disappointed...so we all sad-faced.

 Ah well...we still had an awesome time walking. Next we saw the Apple Store on 5th ave, and walked Central Park (just down the south-east stairs, through the park, and up the south-west stairs).

Next we walked down Avenue of the Americas to glimpse at the Times Square lights. We weren't allowed to enter (so secure...we felt really safe!) but at 42nd street could see the ball before it dropped!
See it?!? That blue blob in the upper center.


Our last stop was the Empire State Building, always a favorite of mine.
One last photo with the family


...and of course with my lovely Lady. Love traveling with her


We left NYC at 11:30, (forums suggested subways are clogged after midnight) and celebrated 2016 at a small transfer station in Newark.

We all got to sleep around 1:30am. We all had an amazing whirlwind tour of NYC and can now say "Oh yeah, I've done NYC on New Years Eve!"

I'm SO happy this adventure happened...I'd like to take full credit but was just taking advantage of a seemingly terrible flight detour, and ended up with an adventure we'll never forget.

...and it was just the beginning since the very next morning we flew to ARUBA!!!


Love this family.


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