Cannot even begin to talk about all the happenings since my last post here, but have to admit, as my frequency of posting dropped, so did my motivation to post. In reality, it was too tedious for me to post here, as all of my images had to be customized to a specific size or it overran my theme and, well, looked horrendous. Read more “Time for Change”
One of the largest points of self realization that I have come to accept is that I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. What sometimes seems like a minor side project, or a great idea, turns into a time suck that eventually falls by the wayside to be abandoned when priorities change.
At the end of the day, I am not a full time blogger. Hell, I am not even a part time blogger. Yes, I have a blog, but not always the time to update it. Just look at some of my past blog posts. I was gangbusters for a good 6 months, maybe even 8 months. Then I had to find a real job in my career field. Read more “6 Months of Silence”
Boston is one of our country’s oldest and most storied cities and there is never a shortage of things to do, see or experience while visiting Boston.
One of the things that you MUST do while visiting Boston, (and this goes without saying for pretty much any sports fan) is visit Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox. For me, it was the opportunity to cross an item off my bucket list. Read more “Photo Tour of Boston’s Fenway Park”
Today’s photo comes from high over Boston as the sun rises on the east coast. This photo was taken from inside the John Hancock tower where I was working for a few months. Regardless of some of the slight reflections, this photo, posted today, signifies a new start, a new dedication and a new beginning. Read more “Foto Friday – June 1, 2012”
I started this blog with great intentions. A creative outlet, a showcase for some photography, a window into my world. Everything was going swimmingly for the first 6 months of the blog…
And then life happened.
My last update came in August while we were trying to win a Marriott Beach Blogger dream vacation. Suffice to say, we didn’t win, but two of our Team Cocktail friends did! Bittersweet, yes, but glad to see some friends win. I guess that is either the next best thing to winning, or the worst thing to happen if you lost. It is a thin, grey line.
Since then, life has been a little crazy:
- Spent 7 awesome days lounging on the beach in St. Thomas
- I accepted a new NYC-based job
- I have spent 6 of the last 9 weeks in Boston, where my company has its HQ and biggest customers
- Had to learn NYC and Boston mass transit systems
- Learning the Amtrak service from NYC to Boston and back
- Spent a week (sick the entire time) in California for some great birthday parties
- Showed Juliet around Boston for her first time
Due to the fact of not blogging for the past 3 months, I have a TON of adventures to update everyone on, complete with photos, recommendations, first time newbie guides and more! Here is a quick rundown of some upcoming post ideas:
- How We Escaped Hurricane Irene (and ended up in the islands) – Also known as our St. Thomas getaway
- The Boston Freedom Trail (and how to experience it for free)
- Fenway Park
- My foray into iPhoneography
- A Boston Must: Samuel Adams Boston Brewery
- Our First Cruise: The Buildup (and why we are excited)
- Boston: My new favorite big city
As I sit here and finally put together one more dedication (read: plea) with regards to our entry into the Marriott Resorts Beach Blogger contest, I really am excited at the possibility of being selected for this wonderful vacation, but also very much reminded of how much we really need a belated honeymoon.
I have been positioning this as a belated honeymoon for Juliet and I, however, without completely realizing the timing of it all, if we are selected, it will fall right around our 1 year wedding anniversary. September 24th, 2011 will mark 1 year since we were married on Huntington Beach in California.
To think we were married right around 1 year ago is almost mind boggling, until we consider what has happened in the past 12 months:
- August 2010, Justin took a new job after 8+ years with old company
- September 2010, Married in HB, CA
- January 2011, quick flight to Rochester NY for Juliet’s interview
- January 2011, 3 days later, Juliet accepted a job offer in NY
- January 2011, Justin quit his (new) job
- February 2011, moved into corporate housing in NY for 6 months
- February 2011, Juliet experiences her first time living where it snows
- March 2011, Justin flew back to CA and drove from CA to NY
- April 2011, Our good friend Sean came to visit
- May 2011, Justin starts his job hunt
- June 2011, Justin is still job hunting
- July 2011, Juliet heads back to CA to coordinate packing of CA house
- July 2011/August 2011, move into our new apartment in NY
- August 2011, spent unpacking
- Oh yeah, Justin still job hunting
And here we have it. The last and final installment of the series. The last wise and sage bit of motivation and inspirational knowledge I get to impart for this series.
Some have asked me why I went with 31 days when June clearly only has 30 days. While a completely legitimate question, my intent with this was not to match the number of blog posts with the number of days in the month, it was more closely tied to the fact that on June 4th, I turned 31 years young. Also, when tackling the initial rush of ingenuity with this series, the piece that solidified my decision was the fact that the 31st entry would fall on July 1st, effectively giving me a final blog to help propel my readers into July and beyond, while offering a solidifying finale to the series.
If you have followed along with the series, I really have 3 running themes to all of these posts, 3 main areas where I believe that you cannot help but feel better about yourself and more alive, just by participating:
The underlying theme that I have been trying to convey is a pretty simple one.
It is absolutely necessary to push yourself outside of the confines of your comfort zone on a daily basis.
Far too often, as I have touched on before, Americans, hell, people, strive for COMFORTABLE. We strive to hit that point in our lives when we don’t have to work too hard, yet pull in a decent salary. Where we don’t have to try and constantly impress our wife/husband, but they love us anyways.
We strive to be AVERAGE. Not for excellence, not to be a superstar. We strive to meet the status quo. Not to beat it and call it our bitch.
Why is that? Why don’t you strive to be perpetually amazing?
Each and every day we need to push ourselves to be better, to achieve greater things. We need to push ourselves to achieve what we never thought was possible. No matter how big, no matter how small, we need to make forward progress each and every day.
Our limits are only defined by our previous shortcomings. We must constantly explore the boundary of what we have previously identified as our “limit” and then push those boundaries further.
Ordinary people don’t make history.
Ordinary people don’t even make the news.
Don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinary.
Day 31. Way 31. Be Extraordinary. Every. Single. Day.
Throughout this month of directives on how to get busy living your life, I have focused on a lot of spontaneous travel related items, such as playing a few travel games, to getting lost.
Today, I will take a look at the safer side of travel, and how you can use that to help get the blood pumping, the excitement level up and motivated to make things happen.
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now – Alan Lakein
Maybe you are the type of person that does not embrace spontaneity. Maybe you don’t have deep pockets (I know I don’t) but still love to travel. If travel hacking isn’t your thing and you just want to book a trip the old fashioned way, then here are a few tips for you to help make the planning phase a little easier, and a little more exciting:
Choosing a Destination
When choosing a destination for a large trip, a lot of factors come into the equation, such as time of year, season, length of time for vacation as well as money. While I am a believer that all travel can be had inexpensively, I wouldn’t try and plan a beachfront villa in Bora Bora when you only have a 4 day vacation and $2,000. Moral of the story, be realistic here.
Sites like Wanderfly are a godsend when it comes to the indecisive. It is an intuitive web portal that will search for destinations based on time of year, theme, length of time and budget. While I haven’t actually used their site to actually plan a vacation, I do use their site for idea generation. Just one quick search will give you TONS of ideas on where to go, where to stay, things to do and so much more.
I could seriously sit here and do searches all day long.
So you have used Wanderfly to dream up some amazing destinations and have a general idea on what to expect for the price. While Wanderfly uses Orbitz for their searches, I prefer to use Kayak and Bing Travel for my searches for 2 different reasons.
Kayak is a descendent of the old SideStep, one of the first companies to really develop a flight search aggregator. Kayak searches all of the major airlines websites, as well as popular travel agencies such as Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline. With tools to help you search all local airports, flexible days with a comparison matrix, Kayak is 2nd to none in the flight search business.
Bing Travel is the result of an online travel search company that Microsoft bought and integrated into their Bing search engine. The reason I really love this site is that if you are traveling a common route (we will use LAX to JFK for example) with multiple flights per day, Bing Travel will look at the trending analysis of the flight costs, compare them against recent travel trends, previous year’s pricing and return a recommendation on wether you should purchase the tickets now because prices are set to raise, or if you should hold off, as ticket prices are set to drop. This really is a handy tool when looking at flight costs over 3-4 months in advance.
Now you know where you are going and how you are getting there, let’s take a look at where to stay. The real question here is if you are looking for a hotel room, or an all inclusive resort. Kayak is my old fail safe when it comes to hotel searches, as their hotel search engine is just as powerful as their airfare search engine. Kayak also has a section for deals and vacation packages that will help you look into package bundles and other deals that have amazing savings.
My other default is the Marriott website, as Juliet and I have been huge fans of their customer service and standards for many years now, they are our hotel membership of choice. More times than not, while sites like Kayak are great, nothing quite beats searching right on the hotel website of your favorite brand.
For us, we can deal with a long flight, maybe a delay or two, but we will not scrimp on a bad night’s sleep or a dirty room. Hotels are our number 1 priority when travelling, and it helps us wake up in a good mood, ready to attack the day.
Ahh, the most important part of your trip. So you have picked your destination, your travel there and your hotel. Great. Now let’s plan the fun stuff. Let’s scope out where we are going to eat, where we are going to drink and where we are going to go have some amazing experiences.
TripAdvisor is a great place to start. With recommendations based on city and location, Trip Advisor for me has constantly turned up great recommendations for sights to see, places to eat and more.
Twitter is another great tool for researching destinations, as there is always people willing to help give advice and recommendations on things to do, places to see, food to eat, drinks to… well, drink. Recently, Juliet and I booked a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a much-needed vacation. With a few quick searches and with the help of some Twitter friends, I got some great recommendations for smaller islands to visit, great drinks to try and restaurants to visit. Cannot beat first hand recommendations.
The last recommendation for finding adventure at your destination is an old-fashioned Google Search. There are blogs and websites dedicated to adventure travelers, from personal blogs to corporate guide companies and everything in between. Chances are with a quick search you will come across a number of blogs from people who have vacationed at the same places you are headed. Look at it this way, the most website traffic that hits my website from Google comes from people searching about road trips. Yes, there are plenty more like me out there.
These are just a few of the tips and tricks to help make planning a vacation a little easier and a little more fun. I spent regular amounts of time on these websites just dreaming about the vacations I would love to take, but I also visit these sites when I am ready to book my travel as well too. Dreaming can be fun, just make sure to have a plan to turn that dream into a reality, then go ahead and plan your escape from the real world.
Day 25. Way 25. Plan a vacation. Map your escape route from reality.
The purpose of my blog has been to show my readers that it is quite simple to take positive actions every day towards leading a life worth living, a life out of the ordinary and a life that you can be proud of. Things like changing your attitude, trying new things, getting lost, even relaxing.
But every now and then you need to do something that scares the shit out of you.
Get the adrenaline going, the blood pumping, the heart racing. As Lachlan says, you need to smash your fears.
“Sometimes, it’s the things that scare you most that are most worthwhile.”
Think about that quote and my post about making excuses. We make excuses out of fear. We shy away from things that we are afraid of, but really, why are we afraid of these things? Are we afraid of failure? Rejection? Consequences? Death?
Thanks to my good buddy Joel Runyon for the inspiration for this post, as he recently organized a group of 40+ people to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at a recent summit in Portland, Oregon.
I can guarantee you that a good number of those 40+ people were scared to go skydiving, but they threw caution to the wind, faced their fears and took a flying leap. If 40+ people can do it, why can’t you?
I have never been someone with a lot of fears, in the respect that I typically will throw myself headfirst into things like rock climbing, whitewater rafting and yes, even skydiving.
(unfortunately, I cannot find any of the photos from my skydiving experience, so these will have to do)
I was able to go skydiving a number of years ago for my birthday and let me say this, I would do it again in a heartbeat. After signing all of the disclaimers, waivers, insurance forms, etc, I got to meet with my tandem jumper, also known as the dude who will be strapped to my back for the jump. Typically, when they pair up a jumper with a pro, they try to pick a pro that is the same size or bigger than the jumper, as it allows the pro to be able to control the jump a little better.
For reference sake, I am 6’2″, at the time, around 160lbs. Needless to say, I was a little surprised when I met my pro, Michele. Not a female Michele, rather, a little frenchman, Michele. All 5’8″ and 140lbs soaking wet of him.
I wondered about this a little as we went over the basic instructions of how to do a tandem jump, as Michele explained to me how to hold my hands, arms, legs, etc. He addressed the fact of how much bigger I was and that I would need to listen to him.
Shortly thereafter, a group of 8-10 of us were airborne in a rickety little plan with no seats, just 2 benches. I already had Michele strapped to my back. We made it to our jump altitude and a little lump appeared in my throat.
“Holy Shit, I am really going to hurl myself out of this airplane”
Before I knew it, Michele and I approached the door and with a little tap on my shoulder, I jumped. It was fantastic to be looking down at the California landscape from a height I had only seen as an airline passenger through a protective glass window and pressurized cabin. Now I was hurling through the air at 60-80mph. It was then I realized why Michele was telling me I had to listen to him. Throughout our fall he had to keep kicking my knees and pulling my arms in, as I had a good 8-12″ wingspan on him, so with my arms and legs outstretched.
When we finally came to an unspoken agreement (and he could control our direction, airflow, speed) we fell for what seemed like an eternity. Seeing the Pacific Coast, Mexico, the California desert. It was phenomenal. Michele pulled our chute and we cruised around for a few more minutes, the ground closing in.
After landing safely and seeing the photos of a dot in the sky (read: me) as I descended, it hit me. I just threw myself out of a perfectly good airplane!! And I survived!
Day 24. Way 24. Take a flying leap and do something that scares the shit out of you.
Anyone else ever skydived before?
If not, is it on your bucket list?
In such a digital world, it is easy (and typical) for us to get caught up in the new gadgets, the new toys. They are marketed as “conveniences” to us, devices that make our lives better, easier. Now, we have a computer in our hand to tell us when we get an email, when someone takes a picture of us, how far it is to the grocery store, everything.
We have become reliant on technology
We text, we email, we tweet, we post status updates, we tag pictures, we post blog updates, we instant message, we send photos, we take videos of our cats. We have phones, tablets, GPS units, heck, they even have internet connected watches now. Seriously, how connected do we need to be?
I know I am guilty of it. Here is just a picture of how my evening shaped up tonight:
- Juliet got home from work right after a Tweet Up (#TNI) was finishing up
- We head out to the bar for dinner/drinks
- After were there, Juliet answers texts from her coworkers
- We compare pictures from friends on Facebook/Twitter
- I text one of our friends to see how they’re doing
- Juliet calls her mom on the phone
- I took a picture of our dog and sent it to a friend
- Now I am writing a blog before bed
Seriously, can we not just disconnect for a day? I know I am not alone in this.
So here is my challenge to you. Take a day. 24 hours. Turn off. No computer, no phone, no internet, no twitter, no Facebook. Sure, carry your phone just in the case of an emergency, but turn off all your data services. Do not tempt yourself.
So, before you say it, I will.
I will put my money where my mouth is.
This weekend is June 25th-26th and I will go 48 hours without being connected to the internet or on a computer.
With a dedication to a blog post per day for the month of June, that means I need to get Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s blog posts done tomorrow, as well as my Foto Friday post. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.
But I will take my own challenge. I am going to spend my time with Juliet, with the dogs, being a family, without external influences, without external connectivity.
I will follow up this blog on Monday/Tuesday with photos and a write-up of my digital sabbatical. A weekend of freedom. 48 hours untethered.
Day 23. Way 23. Disconnect from your digital addiction. Enjoy the freedom of old times. Get back to basics. A smile, a handshake. No internet.
Can you go without the internet?
Can you forego a few tweets?
Join me in a digital sabbatical this weekend, June 25-26. Share your commitment below!