Triggering the End of Vacation

Vacations should only end after three things happen: 1) you feel rested, 2) you miss home, and 3) you actually want to get back to work. If those three things do not fall into place by the end of your sojourn, your vacation failed. That, or you 1) have health problems, 2) do not feel at home where you live or 3) hate the work you do. Vacations can help you distance yourself from your normal life enough to realize any one of these three issues and tackle problems accordingly.

People First, Work Second

Your job will not take care of you when you get sick. Work will not bail you out of jail. Friends and family will. Put them first in your life. When embarking on your career, building companies or engaging in a hobby, make people a priority as a general rule. Culture and the success of your work stem entirely from the health, attitude and relationships of people surrounding the job. Treat them very well, take care of them – and perhaps they will do the same for you. The risk of taking care of others without the guarantee of a returned favor far outshines the risk of working eighty hour weeks alone.

What Do Black Beans, Honda Civics And The Black Keys All Have In Common?

They remind me of my brother. Today’s your birthday, Kyle. Happy birthday. You badass.

And while I’m at it, another 23 things that remind me of you (get it – because you’re 23 years old?):

  1. Jedi Outcast
  2. Hard Days at Preschool
  3. Tuvok
  4. Guitars
  5. Goodwill
  6. Richard Cheese
  7. Klondike
  8. Auburn Lane
  9. Galactic Battlegrounds
  10. Pretentious Artwork
  11. Scrambled Eggs
  12. Xeriscape
  13. The Onion
  14. Pokémon Red
  15. Ghana
  16. 7-11
  17. Cinnamon Applesauce
  18. Canadians
  19. Vietnam
  20. Weird Al
  21. Vinyl
  22. Calvin and Hobbes
  23. Hippies

10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

  1. Politics should not be a war or game. It’s a process – and we’re in it together.
  2. Appreciate everyone. Even if you strongly dislike someone, thank him or her anyway. As genuinely as possible. Gratitude is the social currency of life.
  3. Experiences are more important than possessions. Food and travel make the spirit of life go ‘round.
  4. Marry smart. Find a brilliant woman and do your due diligence. Love is more than lust.
  5. Build something much bigger than yourself – and finish it. My Dad built a city and spent over half of his life doing it. I have a very long way to go.
  6. It’s okay to listen to the same song a million times. If you love something, why stop doing it?
  7. Fictional worlds are healthy. They help you spark imagination, engage with art and escape for a few minutes per day.
  8. Modesty keeps things simple. I can think of no human being more humble than my father. No fuss, no drama, no ego. If any of those things exist in his life, he never brings them home.
  9. Stay Organized. My father keeps more lists, records, photo journals and data on his life than any man I’ve ever met. He forgets very little, tends to important tasks quickly and keeps life together like no other.
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter this time next year.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Life Echoes

I sit beside this exact fire once every few years with old friends – most of whom I had not seen since the fire before it. In moments like these, everyone can catch up, let go and share in timeless togetherness again. As if the last fire occurred in the not so distant past, conversations and idiosyncrasies flashback in ways that challenge the passing of time. Reunions often cathartically reorient your core and priorities. You remember who you were, remember who your friends were and remind each other. Save for a few nostalgic campfire stories, the echo of your past happens subliminally. It feels like reverberation in your memory – like a moment worth reliving. Reunions enrich the soul. Without losing yourself to total nostalgia, I recommend assembling them as often as you can.

10 Reasons Why My Mom Is Better Than Your Mom

  1. You can talk to her about anything (except maybe computer semantics).
  2. She cares less about jewelry, makeup or fancy houses and more about good art, people, travel and food.
  3. She never says no, but she will give you a good example of why it might be a bad idea.
  4. She is straightforward and honest (no passive aggressive crap).
  5. She can have loads of fun without turning into a sloppy, embarrassing mess (thank you, Mom, for your alcohol tolerance).
  6. She works her ass off and still finds time to feed her family.
  7. She is creative, handy and inventive (I’ve never met a woman who can reuse wine corks like she can).
  8. She puts up with and endorses nerdiness like few other women can.
  9. She stops at nothing to serve her friends, students, coworkers and family.
  10. She never gives up without a fight and always forgives you.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Trust In People’s Cores

Lives are unstable and crazy things happen. People can react in unpredictable ways to unpredictable things. Too much dwelling can quickly transform a person into an unrecognizable Mr. Hyde. The last thing you should do when friends or family react unpredictably to an unpredictable event is react unpredictably yourself. Take a moment to breathe, step back from the situation and wait for the dust to settle. A single event alone cannot transform a person completely (though it certainly can catalyze a chain of behavioral change). Trust smart people with strong souls to undulate back onto their original paths. Have faith that spontaneous decisions or wild moves are a temporary lapse in character and not a complete restructure of people’s cores. Do what you can to help them find their way back home, but be careful taking the reins on an unpredictable situation. Human ambition and emotion should not be lured back into a cage – boxing the beast may be more dangerous than letting it run wild and tire itself out.

In crazy situations, stand by with support and love. Have patience and trust that a person will remember who he or she originally set out to be.

Twelve Benefits of a Christmas Birthday

My birth date competes with the birth of a holy savior and the largest commercial holiday of the year. Many people hear that and cringe. Almost everyone asks about combined gifts, getting swept under the rug, or relocating the celebration to the summer solstice. While I wouldn’t mind being able to see friends on my birthday every once in a while, I absolutely love my birthday. My parents always worked hard to make sure I got my fair share of gifts and attention. I am lucky and blessed. Some of the other notable benefits:

1. I get to pick the menu.
2. Almost everyone has the day off.
3. I only need to write thank you notes once a year.
4. You get to spend the day with family, even members who live far away.
5. Old friends are in town, making it easier to connect and party around the date.
6. You’re not the only one opening gifts (it’s awkward otherwise).
7. Presents can be bigger and more expensive.
8. It’s better than being overshadowed by Christmas with a birthday just before or after.
9. Everyone is usually in good spirits.
10. The world decorates, plays music, and anticipates my birthday.
11. It’s impossible for me and close friends to forget.
12. It feels like a special date (rather than just another work day)

My Birthday Wish

Tomorrow, I turn 24. For my birthday, I have only one favor to ask you: let your loved ones know you appreciate them. Be creative, fancy, or just plain sincere. No matter how you do it, make sure they know they are loved. And know that I love you. Thank you for making my 23rd year on this planet a warm adventure.

Cheers,
Craig

Give It Your All?

I respect people who devote themselves completely to a project or job. Without question, giving it your all usually awards you a competitive edge. But I worry about the limited investment driven people are able to make in other parts of their lives. If you invest 100% of your energy (and time) into a project, what is left for family, friends, or your own health? What about your personal life goals?

On this planet, we only have 23 hours, 57 minutes, and 4.1 seconds in a day. If you spend 18 hours working on your project, when will you see your children? When will you sleep or exercise? And when will you have time to chisel away at your hobby? For those of you who are working for the money, do you have time to spend or even manage the money you do make? If not, what’s the point? What’s the point of working that hard anyway? To do better? If your job is the most important thing in your life, then why let family or anyone else distract you? What’s the point?

I am all for investing yourself in your work. I work very hard myself. But I draw lines and live by rules. I will not let my job, or any project for that matter, take time away from my dreams. And I am actively optimizing my life to make more time with friends, family, travel, and personal projects.

Inventory your “all” and decide where best to map your energy and time.