Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Tag Archives: Melissa

A Mighty Eye Opening Experience

Last weekend Melissa and I went to Camp Mighty in Palm Springs CA. It was fun meeting people I’ve only known through their blogs: Heather Armstrong, Jon Armstrong, Alice Bradley, Maggie Mason. It was also very cool to meet some new faces: Cecily Kellogg, Margit Detweiler and many more. As great as they are, meeting well known digital personalities was kinda far down my agenda. I really wanted to go because of the Life List activity.

A life list is very much like a bucket list save for the depressing POV. Like I said at our team lunch, “the only lists I’ve ever maintained throughout my life were lists of possible band names.” Creating a list of fabulous things I’d like to see/accomplish/experience never really occurred to me. I could be wrong, but I doubt many men have ever created a life list. From the beginning of time we are primarily programmed to slay the dragon and make the donuts.

While the suggestion was to write 100 items, I was only able to get to 75 by the time Camp came around. I wrote them all on my iPhone while riding BART to work. The process of writing the list, regardless of how long it actually took me, was very meaningful to me.

At first, things that were top of mind starting flowing out. As I kept going, I really started to think more seriously about the world and the people that matter to me. I also started to wonder if there were limits to what I could affect. Would it be possible to set up a charity for the arts? Would it be possible to travel to exotic locations? Or meet certain people? As I kept searching my mind, I just kept adding everything to the list and fought the urge to dismiss anything. It was a form of creative brainstorming, so the more I thought “yes and” instead of “no”, the more I surprised myself with the ideas that came to mind.

I’m used to brainstorming at work on a client’s behalf, but rarely never have I done this for myself. The feeling was very liberating and brought me into the moment like very few things I’ve experienced before.

Once I stopped writing the list, I didn’t rearrange or edit it. Why bother? I didn’t want to rethink things. My list is how it flowed from my mind. I did re-read it after arriving at the hotel, and honestly, I was very happy with myself. For someone who isn’t a type-A personality, this list seemed immense, but doable on many levels. It also helped me, as a person who’s had a long history of dealing with depression, to look at life with a strong positive attitude.

At the final event (a team dinner), everyone was given a parting gift. The “boys”—as they called us—received these wristbands that had 5 little metal rings on it. Each represented one of the 5 life list items we committed to check off in the next year. I won’t take this thing off until the next time Camp Mighty rolls around next year. It’s highly motivational, and it makes me feel good just looking at it.

Thank you, Camp Mighty, for inspiring me and helping me see my life in a new way.

Puppy T

It’s so hard to know where to begin. My mind keeps traveling up and down the timeline of his 11 year life.

From the first time I saw him in the breeder’s kitchen scrambling to fetch a rubber dog toy, to the freezing Michigan winter nights where we’d play endless games of fetch in a foot of snow.

From the day he was hit by a Ford Escape yet miraculously walked away while the driver’s side quarter panel crashed to the ground after impact, to the day he left my Michigan home to live at my father-in-law’s ranch in California.

From the time he played the gentlest version of tug of war I’ve ever seen with baby Elise, to the time he heroically protected Miles by chasing away three hungry coyotes.

Chino brought an incredible amount of energy and love to my family all the while being the most loyal and sweetest creature I’d ever met. Underneath that super muscular tough-guy exterior was a submissive soul with a heart of gold that exuded pure happiness 24/7.

Chino was a natural ranch dog. He quickly buddied up with the ranch’s original dog, Target, and roamed the 20 acres every single day to ensure everything was in its right place. Up and down the hills, into the creeks, drinking from ponds, chasing deer and who knows what else wandered on to the property. He worked hard and played even harder. He loved to steal carrots from the horses at breakfast while avoiding getting kicked.

The ranch is eerily quiet today. When I heard my in-laws wanted to sell the ranch, I had a hard time imagining what his life would be like post-sale, and now I know that day will never come to pass. He wasn’t meant to live in a suburb, confined to a small backyard, unable to explore and run. I know everyone who cared for him gave him a great life. A much bigger life than probably what even he imagined for himself. Sometimes my wife and I would joke about how he “had the life” compared to his litter-mates: getting to be the ultimate ranch dog in the Santa Cruz mountains where he could run and sun himself all day long. My family loved him just as much as he loved us. And I know my in-laws loved him just the same. My life instantly and infinitely improved that day when he picked me at the breeder’s house.

Chino was like a son to me before my boy Miles was born. No dog can compare to Chino, because to me, he wasn’t just a dog. I’ve always felt like he was Elise and Miles’ big brother. And now he’s gone. There’s no way I could ever forget him. He was the best there was, and we were all lucky to have met him.

In some ways, living on this ranch for the past 6 months has been incredibly difficult. I do believe that things happen for a reason. But today I realized that if we hadn’t come to the ranch, we wouldn’t have had the privilege of being with Chino every day. Who knew this weird path to normalcy was going to include the opportunity to see Chino and be there for him at the end.

I love you so much Chino. Thank you for being the best dawg a guy could ever have.

Halloween In Kansas

Our super friendly neighborhood put on an amazing Halloween event for the kids this year. It all centered around a scary hay ride that took kiddos up and down the streets, some of which, were decorated by volunteers from each. Melissa and I did the cul-de-sac near our house, and I thought it turned out great. Later, when it was dark, a neighbor and I put on some scary costumes and surprised the hay riders as they passed our house.

Spooky Cul-de-sac:

Halloween 2009

My Halloween Kiddos as Peter Pan and Wendy:

halloween munchkins

Been a Long Time, Been a Long Time

I don’t normally post about my career but kinda feel compelled to. I was laid off last week and it’s weird. I’m shocked because I really thought Digital was a strategic advantage and direction for my company, especially in the Detroit market, where clients just refuse to pay for anything that could be misconstrued as an elaborate production. Digital is theoretically cheaper but that’s only true for so long. Once you get deeper into creative and integration with other platforms, costs typically go up.

Regardless, I’ve been away from the blog for a while now because I’m searching for a new job. My net is cast over the whole U.S. right now and while I prefer Silicon Valley, Chicago and the East Coast, I’m entertaining all offers that could lead to a bright and stable future.

I just spent hours rewriting my resume into the early morning and really think it paints a clear picture of who I am, what I’m interested in producing, and how I think. I hope an employer sees it the same way. 😉

In the meantime, I’ve put my house up for sale . It’s really bizarre to see it listed but I have to. The Detroit market is devastated and frankly, everyone here thinks they’re next to be laid off.

For now, I’m spending time with my family by taking Elise to ballet classes, rocking Miles to sleep and rubbing Melissa’s feet/letting her sleep in/keeping the house neat to help relieve her stress. I so hated to give her the news of my layoff after the year she’s had in the hospital with a high-risk pregnancy and premature delivery.

When Melissa and I decided to move back to Michigan in 2000, we knew it was a risk. There just aren’t as many places to work here as other markets. We’ve had fun in Michigan, met tons of great neighbors, and worked with some fabulous people along the way. But by far, the best thing has been having our kids with our families around to share in that experience.

I will post any updates to the search here. I wish everyone in Michigan and all connected to the auto industry all the best. It’s unnecessarily brutal out there due to circumstances that were really beyond any of our control.

Time to get back to making Miles smile.