whoa. baby.

i can study maps for hours, and sometimes i do.

i love how it’s not just about the destination, but the routes we can take to get there.

there’s never just one way.

and sometimes the rockiest roads are the quickest, and sometimes the safer routes take longer and you have to be patient and enjoy the scenery. sometimes there’s exciting cities to pass through, and sometimes there is nothing but plains for hours. you can make the most amazing memories in places no one has ever heard of and the most anticipated destinations don’t always live up to the hype.

life is like this. life is like a map.

lately, i’ve been trying to map out my life. i want to figure out not just the destination, but what roads to take.

the route just got a little more interesting and much more adventurous for us. a couple of months ago my wife showed me a pregnancy test with a plus sign on it. because i’m pretty smart, i looked at it and said… what does that mean? so baby g is on it’s way and will make a july entry into the world.

so yes. now we have a new map to discover. i’ve imagined this many times before, even tried to create a map, a timeframe, for this type of event. but when it’s real, it seems so different. i’ve realized there isn’t really a map that charters this whole thing.

it’s amazing we even have the ability to create life. it hit me when we saw baby g on the ultrasound, we created this life. with maps, someone else made them, we just follow them. in this case, we created it, now we are responsible. we are in charge of creating a path for this little one.

someone told me the other day to make sure i started buying all the books about having a baby. i just shrugged. i’m sure we will, but at the same time there is something comforting about knowing that this is a new road for us. that we simply don’t know what we don’t know. i’m okay with that.

we get to travel this new road together, for the first time.

sideshow.

“can’t you see that all that stuff’s a sideshow?”

-let go- frou frou-

from what i remember about my childhood, not a whole lot mattered more to me than sports. collecting sports cards, playing sports, watching sports, listening to sports, reading sports… that’s all there was. i had one mindset. sports. well, and girls… but i never had enough nerve to actually talk to girls, so i just focused on sports.

then i got older. and more aware. i realized slowly, and with my mom’s insistence, that there was more to this world than simply sports. my brain was shocked.

i learned about politics and religion and that traveling is good for the soul. i learned in high school that girls could get me in trouble, as would lying to my parents and stealing candy from the gas station.

then 9/11 happened and i learned quickly that the world was full of hate. not just from those who hated america, but from americans who hated the outside world. remember “freedom fries”? we hated the french because they wouldn’t go to war in iraq with us so we took the one thing we know would get them to understand we were serious… how tough we americans are…we would call OUR fried potatoes “freedom” fries because…dammit…fried food is american and we stand for freedom more than anything. fried. potatoes.

i learned that people with power could and would go to great lengths to get what they wanted. i started to realize that the religion i had believed in was not what i thought it was. that jesus is somehow bigger than that religion.

i watched as obama won the election and for some reason i thought that would unite america. it did not. clearly.

i realized that there is a lot outside of my control, and what i cannot control doesn’t matter anyway.

how much of what is in our lives is just a sideshow?

how much are we influenced by what is around us and not what is in us? how much do we forget about the people who actually matter to us everyday?

there are all these factors competing for our attention. we live in a hyped up world. no matter what it is, it’s overblown. unless it’s about the good in the world. we don’t hear so much about that.

so much of what is around us is just a sideshow.

there isn’t much we can control these days. there never has been. instead of fighting about who should pay the most taxes and racial tensions and same-sex marriage and whether pete rose should be in the hall of fame, what if we started blocking out the noise? what if we started focusing on people and how we relate to each other? we spend so much time focusing on all the things that really do not matter and forget that what really does, people. maybe then we can start to see past different skin tones and religious beliefs.

when we start breaking down all the nonsense and leave the sideshow behind, that’s when we truly see the value of why we are on this planet.

maps.

i love maps. i’ve always had a fascination with maps. globes, atlases, new maps and historical ones. i love them all. when i was a kid, i’d lay on my bed with a rand mcnally map book and plan out my life and the adventures i’d have traveling the world. i planned out future road trips and vacations. i circled cities i wanted to move to. when my wife and i moved to chicago, i knew exactly where i wanted to live, after all i had been studying the map of chicago most of my life.

there is just something about maps.

the room i am writing this in is filled with maps and globes and pictures of neighborhoods.

maps create dreams and plans and memories. they create endless possibilities. everyone loves endless possibilities.

maps also create direction. no one likes to feel lost. it’s a scary and lonely feeling. we’ve all had those moments of being lost in a different city and have felt that panic come over us once we realized we had no clue where we were. it’s the worst.

but we feel that way in life a lot don’t we?

i’ve realized over the past few months that i’m not really a “live in the moment” type of person. i’ve been spending a lot of time mapping out my life. i always need a plan. i have this unending need to know what’s next, what i can expect.

except that you cannot plan for life. not really.

 road blocks and speed bumps happen. plans change. jobs change. our ideals change. when we think something will last forever, it ends the next day. that’s just how life works.

i’m never going to stop looking at maps and daydreaming about what could be and i’m good with that. even though i think i need to know what is coming, there is something about the mysterious that is intriguing. i just think i need to change how i look at maps. instead of looking down the road and around the curves, i need to focus on what is right here.

when you are looking down the road, it’s easy to miss what is next to you right now.

there are special moments to be created, lessons to learn from and dreams to be re-born. every day is another opportunity to grow and become closer to who we want to be. we don’t have to stop dreaming. i can’t imagine myself not dreaming and planning for the future.

we just have to remember that today is part of the journey.

building walls.

being vulnerable is no one’s favorite feeling. it’s kind of like that feeling when you are presenting a project in college and when you are done, you ask your classmates if they have any questions. you know that feeling? you are sitting there waiting for them to ask a random question and it is all quiet and awkward and the class is staring at you and you stare back and the moment seems like it will never pass. all you want is to not be in that situation ever again.

after i wrote my post about my desire to move back to chicago, that’s how i felt.

it opened up a vulnerable side of me that i don’t normally allow. i still cannot decide if writing that post was cathartic or more like pouring salt on a wound.

but it is how i feel and i had to own my thoughts. expressing them made them more real. i knew i couldn’t live my life with my thoughts in a cocoon.

being vulnerable isn’t my favorite. at all. building walls seems more natural. i don’t enjoy the thought of other people knowing what i think (which might seem to contradict the idea of being a writer in the first place).

i’ve lived my entire life trying to build a fortress around myself. but what i am learning is that being vulnerable leads to openness. allowing myself to simply be honest led to difficult conversations, but at least it was me being honest with myself and others. i also realized that i am really okay with just being me and no one else.

being vulnerable means allowing ourselves to admit that we don’t always have it figured out. and to be okay with that.

that’s the thing about life. we only get one, so why not just try to be more open with each other? why not just be ourselves? we live most of our lives afraid of what everyone else thinks, trying to follow a certain pattern we think we are expected to follow but didn’t draw ourselves.

that’s not how i want to live my life.

i’m not the “well that’s how it’s been so that’s how it is” type of guy.

tearing down the walls we’ve surrounded ourselves with means that we have to be ourselves all the time. that’s sorta scary isn’t it? i mean, that means we cannot hide behind someone else’s plan. it means we might clash with others and it means we have to be who we are meant to be. who we were designed to be.

we have to follow our own desires, our own interests and our own plans for our lives. we have to be willing to be different, even if people look at us funny. we have to be willing to say that is who we are, regardless of the response. that’s being vulnerable.

we have to own who we are. we shouldn’t let anyone else own us. who would we be then?

transparency.

the thing about writing is that it requires a high level of transparency and honesty. especially when you are writing about yourself and your own thoughts. you cannot simply make stuff up and expect it to work. i mean you can always make stuff up, i just don’t know how well it works.

this level of transparency and honesty sometimes scares me as a writer. it actually keeps me from writing often because in reality, i’m more comfortable with being vague and keeping my distance. that doesn’t work as a writer. or i guess maybe that’s why i like to write. maybe these words are a shield. in blogs, the ease of typing and then hiding is appealing. you can write whatever it is that you wish you could say to someone’s face without actually having to look them in the eye. you can express yourself in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise. but i don’t want to do that. as a writer, i want to be the same person on print as i would be if we were meeting face to face.

there is a balance that is difficult to keep at times for me. anyone who knows me knows that i am full of opinions. i cannot dispute that. but that’s the trick, that’s where growing into the person i’m becoming can be difficult when it comes to actually writing about my opinions. sometimes i want to be outspoken and speak my mind and write whatever it is that comes to mind. sometimes writing my thoughts is the last thing i want to do because i know how much my thoughts can differ from others. believe it or not, i hate conflict and the last thing i want from writing is to create any. there are plenty of things i have opinions about that probably differ from my family’s point of view or my wife’s family’s point of view. i have different thoughts about politics than how i was raised, different thoughts on religion, the environment and gays and lesbians. i like the president, that probably isn’t a universal opinion in my family. my parents are MSU grads, i love U-M. it’s just how it is.

the one thing i’ve learned about becoming an adult is that it doesn’t magically happen. and it doesn’t really matter what others think. when i was a teenager i assumed that hitting thirty years of age meant that i would suddenly be more mature than the twenty nine year olds in the room. i figured i would just know how the world works and how to fix stuff. i assumed that there’d be a pay increase in my salary because i was at an established age, and yes, i assumed i’d be established because being thirty meant, immediate success and establishment.

i’m almost half way through this decade of thirties now. nothing happens automatically.

i’m still figuring out this stage. i make mistakes and take leaps and risks. i’m not afraid of being told no and i know full well that things and thoughts can change. ask my wife, life with me is nothing if not unexpected. i call it an adventure. what fun is life if you always know what is coming next?

i’ve changed a lot the past few years. i consider it maturing. that’s what life is. i’ve learned that we have to always be evolving and being prepared for what’s next. i don’t like writing about myself as much as you’d thing. i mean this is a blog where that’s sort of the point right? so it should be easier, it’s not. but i’m evolving. i’m admitting that in order to improve in life and as a writer, i have to show more transparency. life is better when we can really just be who we are supposed to be and not worry about what anyone thinks. right?

imperfection.

in the past, when i’ve tried to write a blog post, i would try to write the perfect flow of words and hope it all sounds so good together. i’d want it to be perfect or i just wouldn’t write anything at all.

so i decided to ignore my blog. for the entire summer, on purpose. i wanted to get away from the idea of perfection. i wanted to remove myself from the concept that every post needed to convey all the right thoughts and all the right emotions at all the right moments.

because here’s the thing…

i found that my pursuit of perfection also cramped my daily life as well.

you cannot create perfection.
it’s just not all that attainable. i’ve tried. and so have you. and neither of us have made it happen very often, have we?

i’ve tried to be the perfect son, the perfect husband, the perfect employee. i’ve tried to make the perfect decisions that make everyone around me happy.

don’t you feel the pressure to be everything you think everyone is expecting you to be? do and say all the right things? if you say no… i guess that’s nice but i can’t say i believe you.

but again, trying to be perfect is unattainable. it’ll never happen. and all those people we are concerned about making happy? they already have their own thoughts and worries and concerns to deal with. besides, they already know we aren’t perfect anyway.

it’s not really a conscious thing, i don’t sit up at night asking myself what the formula for perfection is. but, it’s the concept of being afraid to let people down, upsetting the normal. doing what is expected of me. it’s a tightrope isn’t it?

today i’m going to start writing again. i’m going to start writing the way i want to without the self-afflicting pressure applied. also, i’m going to live daily without the faulty concept that perfection is the goal. there’s no reason for that nonsense anyway.

musings.

[ personal note: i haven’t done much writing since moving to chicago, which is somewhat surprising to me. the lack of writing is not due to any lack of inspiration, i’ve just been missing the key ingredient that mixes all my muses together in a cohesive unit. so i decided to just bust out a bunch of my random thoughts i’ve been grinding on the past few months. enjoy.]

being in a city as fierce and bold and busy and loud as chicago has taught me to slow down, relax and be stronger.

moving away is hard. and awesome. and painful. and rewarding. and empowering. whenever you dream about doing something and then do it, it makes you feel like anything is possible. the idea that dreams come true is somewhat true, but you have to work towards it, make it happen. and you need at least one person in your corner who also believes anything is possible.

i hate bad grammar. except when i’m writing my own stuff. then i just create my own grammar and label it creativity.

you can be whoever and whatever you want to be, but if you aren’t making this a conscious decision, whoever and whatever you surround yourself  with will take that decision from you.

i have so many friends and family who are pursuing passions. it inspires me to pursue mine. thank you for helping mold me into who i am supposed to be. keep grinding.

 chicago is building me into the best version of myself. as much as i love where i came from, i know that where i am now is where i’m supposed to be.

i find myself wondering where the years are going.  it makes me want to embrace everything about today. today creates our history.

when i was a kid, my mom told me not to rush growing up, to enjoy life’s stages. i see people today who are going as fast as they can to get places they don’t really want to be. i’d rather take my time getting where i want to be. the journey can be just as amazing as the destination.

few things are as satisfying to me as completing a writing assignment. few things are as frustrating as writers block.

in the past i’ve gotten frustrated when i was told no. obviously. who likes being told no? the older i get though, the more i realize that stop signs are for our protection and not discouragement.

when i get further and further away from good music, the less and less creative my writing life becomes. it’s amazing how much music triggers thought and action.

it’s true. my wife is the better part of me. when she is away for work, my life is only half as good as it could be. i love this life we have together. i’m more excited than words can display about what we are building in this city and what the future holds for us together. she is not simply my wife and best friend, she truly is my co-pilot, my rock, my inspiration.  this adventure of being in a new city has shown me that our home is where our hearts are. i’ve witnessed how strong she really is and how hard she works to be the woman God made her to be. there is no one i admire more. sometimes she puts on a brave face, but mostly she has a tenacious sense about her. nothing is outside her reach. we climb mountains together.

i think that about sums it up.