So after VA Beach came Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas, both also for work. Followed by an impromptu and very fun long weekend in Canada (Gracefield, PQ, on 31-mile lake) followed by Albuquerque (work) followed by vacation week on Old Cape Cod (back yesterday)…my head has been flooded, my schedule has been action-packed…a double-whammy of an Achilles tendinitis-plantar fasciitis diagnosis in late June has me on the DL…not running, drinking too much beer, having little too no free time, packing on the pounds…need to dig my heels in, figure out a few things, stop making excuses, stop the slide, and get back to 100% happy. Life is great, don’t get me wrong…but I’m misfiring on a few cylinders and need to tune myself up. Until I figure out how to do that, I’ll leave you with a few pics of my travels, to show you the world through my eyes. Moral of the story is two-fold: 1) if you look, you see cool things and 2) an IPhone camera and a few good apps work miracles. So here you go:
So this week finds the start of my busy season for work travel. Yesterday and two of the next three Sundays found/will find me traveling far and wide to various fire/safety events. It’s glamorous, high flying business travel…especially when you work for a non-profit. And now with the TSA hysteria about long lines and needing to get to the airport three hours before wheels up…oy…and don’t get me started on Global Entry…I applied in late April, paid my $100…and can get an interview at the end of August. Super helpful.
In any case, I suppose the upside to being three hours early for my flight is that it affords me the opportunity to make inane airport/travel observations. Namely (in the order they were observed; any relative importance is coincidental):
1. All airport food must come from the same shitty kitchen. Never knew you could screw hummus up so bad.
2. Beer should be sold at a sliding scale relative to how early you are for your flight. I should be getting these $9 big boys for $4.50.
3. The guy in the winter coat is giving me pause…see something say something, right? But what am I supposed to say? Too warm for that coat? Please frisk him?
4. Out of towners call it “Samuel Adams Boston Lager.” Locals just call it “a Sam.”
5. Who the f-ck orders vodka and Diet Coke?
6. Fruit flies with no fruit in sight are always cause for concern.
7. “How to change the tv channel” should be lesson #1 in new bartender training school. And if you’re gonna make me watch sh-tty sports can you at least upgrade to HD? It’s 2016 after all.
8. Time’s up on the faux hipster short hair lumberjack beard look. If it was ever even in.
9. Our parents cautioned us not to talk to strangers for a reason.
10. People hear what you talk about publicly; don’t inadvertently humiliate yourself making private talk public. And if you don’t give a crap, please don’t put me through it.
11. Where else would you overhear “hey Moe can you get me a sample of the shahdinnay?”
12. What’s up with the lady who has a seat in the last row, literally, who opens literally every overhead door looking for an opening for her oversized carry on until the flight attendant makes her stop?
13. Why would an Uber driver keep asking a passenger he just picked up at an airport how to get to her hotel?
…been too long. Work. Life. Running. Maintaining a relationship. Taking care of mom.
Trying to stay focused on living in the moment. Being mindful. Kindful. Trying to be politically aware and politically ignorant all at once.
Great weekend in Chicago last weekend with old friends. Big house party. Bulls game. Belly laughs. Tequila. And so it goes.
The snow’s coming down, the fire’s going, I’m still in pajamas at 2:42pm, my mind is racing, and all is well.
Super Bowl 50 was yesterday. Yawn. Random musings follow:
- Cam Newton should be ashamed of himself for acting like a petulant child at the post-game press conference. And not falling on the ball after fumbling it? Inexcusable. Grow up. Dude is a long way away from being a role model.
- Peyton Manning did not win the game. The end. (To the tune of those God-forsaken Nationwide jingles: Peyton please retire now.)
- The whole booing Tom Brady thing was classless. Four rings. Haters gonna hate.
- Does Chris Martin sound different if he sings standing up? Or did his contract require him to crouch the whole time because Bruno Mars is so short?
- Lada Gaga was solid. No Whitney, but solid. I’m not sure what the purpose of that whole Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On chest thump was toward the end, but I’ll forgive it. She did a great job.
- Aqib Talib is a thug. And proud of it. Why is it so hard to get kicked out of a football game.
- Refs stunk. Lucky they didn’t get Carolina’s challenge flags shoved up their asses.
- A college classmate of mine was named Don Shula HS Coach of the Year. It was fun following him at the festivities all weekend. Best part about it is what a great guy he is.
- I hope the Panthers’ owner takes some body language interpretation clsses this offseason. And practices smiling, a little.
- I watched the game with family. We all wore Pats gear. Couldn’t love them any more than I do. Blessed.
I’m not a big fan of looking in the rearview mirror. I’ve long said it gives you a bitch of a stiff neck and increases the odds that you’ll miss something right in front of you. With that perspective in mind, though, I think that every now and then there’s some value in taking stock of one’s life and one’s learnings, in order to use those lessons as a springboard to greater mindfulness in the coming year.
So now, as I look forward to 2016 without looking too far into the future (you miss what is right in front of you and/or on the periphery if you do), I consider the following things (random, stream of consciousness):
This is the biggest and the heaviest bit of it all which, unlike most big and heavy things, is probably why it floated to the top. 2015 was the first year of my life that my dad wasn’t part of any of it. I could go on and on and on about how it is without him or how any of us is doing or what I’ve learned from his not being here. But the real bottom line for me is that while one adapts and one can choose happiness, when all is said and done and I actually think about it, I always conclude that things were better when he was here. It’s like everything now gets appended with a “but…” or and “if…” Not in a bereft regretful way, but for sure in a factual way. That’s the way it is, so you move along. But it’s like once you experience great loss, your overall capacity for happiness permanently decreases. You can still max out, but in different (lower) ways.
Making positive or necessary change. They say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit (and how many days of skipping something to break it???), which can be overwhelming. So this year I advocated for a two-week plan, encouraging myself and my friends in certain dire emotional/relationship/exercise/professional straits to bear down for two weeks “just to see” how things went. And in all cases, getting through two weeks gave the focus and desire and commitment needed to continue, because in two weeks, the good was illuminated already. So if you have a situation, take two weeks to work on dealing with it, and then re-group. Trust me.
This one’s a little materialistic, to the extent that it involves a thing. Or in my case, a pair of things. Like LL Bean 10” Shearling Lined boots. My mom got them for my birthday. In short supply. Made in the USA. Worn today for the first time, and damn, do those things kill it. A thoughtful and generous gift from my mom (she knew they were backordered which is why she made sure I had them in May), and I appreciate every stitch and every eyelet.
Don’t make life too big. Focus on your sphere of control. Find happiness and joy and beauty and light in love in what is close to you. Invest in yourself and the people you love. Celebrate small victories. Celebrate big ones. And more importantly, celebrate the losses with smaller-than-expected margins of defeat. Take any excuse to celebrate. Make any excuse to. You only go around once. If you make life too big, you get lost in it, or focus on stuff that is outside of what you can influence…and it takes away from your ability to enjoy and influence what is nearby.
If someone’s important to you, tell them. Often. Even if it drives them kind of crazy sometimes. Or tell people infrequently. Just make sure that you tell them at least once. They need to know. Explicitly. Because it will make them feel good. And they’ll never wonder. And if someone is important to you and for whatever reason you can’t bring yourself to tell them, at least don’t take them for granted.
Mindfulness & wellness may seem like overused, trite, and trendy words. But the practices of them are much underutilized, and really can lead to a sense of calm, compassion, acceptance, and peace. So try getting in touch with your breath, and watch what happens. Read 10% Happier by Dan Harris if you don’t believe me. I think 10% is a low estimate. I work for a company that sponsored a 4-week practice for us. It was great reinforcement, and also gave me a chance to meet some co-workers I wouldn’t know otherwise. Which takes me on a side path…my new job. There are dozens of new people in my life because of my new job (started March 30), and my life is enriched for knowing them. Let your circle expand every chance you get. This is not in direct conflict with “Don’t make life too big” above. This is a natural evolution, a natural expansion, which is a nice balance to the natural subtraction and contraction. Ebbs and flows, pluses and minuses, pros and cons…all about staying balanced in the aggregate. Right?
Believe in Karma. Karmic alignment is critical. Be karmically correct. The Golden Rule rules all. It’s all about the balance baby. What goes around does come around and sometimes it picks up speed along the way.
Assume positive intent. Honestly, why would someone who loves you have anything but?
Sometimes it’s hard to be the better person. But it’s hard work that is worth it.
Never underestimate the value of a smile.
It moves fast. Pay attention. Enjoy the ride. Be the driver. Be the passenger. Look out the windows. Take it all in. It’s gone an instant, so keep your eyes open. Enjoy it.
Best wishes for a full, happy, and healthy 2016.
Been a looooong time. I still hate Microsoft. Christmas has come and gone. I’m ready for bed. And it’s only 6:33pm. Layer on a frenzy about the 0-1″ of snow we have forecast tomorrow and I’m ready to sleep until Spring.
As 2015 comes to a close, I’m working hard to finish strong and set myself up for a positive, happy, and successful 2016. That’s all I can muster for now, but I wanted you to know that I am still here.
In summary: customer service is reprehensible.
The more detailed version:
Got the Microsoft Band last Christmas. With the extended warranty. I wore it daily, tracked my sleep, my steps, my exercise. In August it starts getting fussy off the charger. So I initiate service proceedings, namely a few online chats, troubleshooting, etc. No real help with the suggestions, no promised follow up. Meanwhile, the gift giver (a total Microsoft Junkie), is advising me how to go about the return. She knows how to because her Band had to be returned twice. Quality problems?
Anyway, after a few weeks of back and forth and wasted hours, I finally get a return authorization. I send the defective Band back, and after a few more weeks hear nothing. After more wasted hours and no resolution, I do a few tweets trying to catch someone’s attention. Nothing. Then I get a brown box with my original Band in it saying service has been denied due to extreme damage. As you can see from these pictures, there’s no damage, let alone extreme damage.
I’m at a loss. Can’t get answers. No the Facebook message route and after some persistence get an email contact. Who asks for pictures, which I send. Then radio silence. I follow up a few more times then get told the case was on hold because I wasn’t responding. We get back on track, kind of. I’m heated because I’ve been months without a working Band, it was an expensive gift, came with the extended warranty (which was ignored). So I ask for. Band 2. I think given that two Bands were initially purchased, that there were three product failures, and I had spent hours over several months trying to get what was rightfully mine (extended warranty honored) it was a legit request.
After much back and forth I finally get a replacement Band, but not a Band 2. Better than nothing. Only it’s the wrong size and this is useless to me. I tried to follow up and was told my case was being closed. No one can or will help me. So that’s why I hate Microsoft. Overpriced products that are still Beta products. No support. No response. Nothing.
And while it was happening, well, my sister got her iPhone 6 with a dead screen replaced, no questions asked. Here I am, in Microsoft customer service hell.
If anyone from Micrsofot wants to make this right, you can find me here. Comment away.
And for what it’s worth, we now own a Band 2, a Lumia, and two Surface Pros. We deserve better.