Month: January 2014

Travel Adventures Part II #my500words

In the fall of 1997, my grandfather was kind enough to loan me the money to buy a car. I bought a used, black Civic hatchback. This car was barely off the ground, but it was the perfect car for getting around DC and Maryland.

My first road trip in the car was to visit a friend for Thanksgiving in Columbus, Ohio. That trip added Pennsylvania and Ohio to my list of states.

I also can’t remember when the trip was, but I decided to visit a friend in Mississippi and also see my friend Chan Goshorn in Louisiana. That added another two states.

One trip that I didn’t mention in my first post is that before I got my car I had gone to Delaware and to the shore while living in Maryland. We had gone to stay at the beach with a group of friends.

In the spring of 1998, I decided to move back to California. I drove my car with a trailer attached to the back. In addition to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio, that trip also included Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa (briefly), Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and California.

In 1998, I also decided to take a trip to meet a friend up near Seattle. That added Oregon and Washington to the my growing lists of visited states.

In 1999, I went to visit my friend Duncan in Denver. That added Colorado.

In 2000, I drove to Utah to visit the Checketts. That didn’t add any states, but my trips between California and Utah would become a regular thing.

In November of 2002, I upgraded my car from the Honda Civic to a Honda CR-V.

I took several trips between the Bay Area and Utah (at least once a year), and I also took a trip up to Portland, Oregon and another one to Hermiston, Oregon.

I also flew to Jersey for my friend Duncan’s wedding.

In May of 2012, I decided to make another cross-country move. As part of that trip I drove through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Since I’ve been in Tennessee, I’ve been on trips through Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

I also took a train from Tennessee to Chicago to Fargo, North Dakota. I took one business trip and flew to Minnesota.

In alphabetical order:

  1. Alabama (no)
  2. Alaska (no)
  3. Arizona (yes)
  4. Arkansas (yes)
  5. California (yes)
  6. Colorado (yes)
  7. Connecticut (yes)
  8. Delaware (yes)
  9. Florida (no)
  10. Georgia (yes)
  11. Hawaii (yes)
  12. Idaho (yes)
  13. Illinois (yes)
  14. Indiana (yes)
  15. Iowa (yes)
  16. Kansas (yes)
  17. Kentucky (yes)
  18. Louisiana (yes)
  19. Maine (no)
  20. Maryland (yes)
  21. Massachusetts (yes)
  22. Michigan (yes)
  23. Minnesota (yes)
  24. Mississippi (yes)
  25. Missouri (yes)
  26. Montana (no)
  27. Nebraska (yes)
  28. Nevada (yes)
  29. New Hampshire (no)
  30. New Jersey (yes)
  31. New Mexico (yes)
  32. New York (yes)
  33. North Carolina (yes)
  34. North Dakota (yes)
  35. Ohio (yes)
  36. Oklahoma (yes)
  37. Oregon (yes)
  38. Pennsylvania (yes)
  39. Rhode Island (no)
  40. South Carolina (yes)
  41. South Dakota (no)
  42. Tennessee (yes)
  43. Texas (yes)
  44. Utah (yes)
  45. Vermont (no)
  46. Virginia (yes)
  47. Washington (yes)
  48. West Virginia (yes)
  49. Wisconsin (yes)
  50. Wyoming (yes)

So, the big states I’m missing are Florida and almost all the states in the northeast north of New York. I’m hoping to take a trip to Florida this spring to see Morgan and Adam Checketts, which would take care of Florida and another trip through Georgia.

Travel Adventures Part 1 #my500words

Today’s writing challenge from Jeff was to create a list.

One of the things that I haven’t talked about much on this blog are some of my travelling adventures.

My travelling started in adulthood. When I was a child, I went on only a few memorable trips.

When I was 8, I went to Disneyland with my grandparents and an aunt and uncle. When I was either 17 or 18, I went down to Los Angeles with our Key Club high school group. We went to a Key Club convention and also went to Disneyland. We also took a couple of trips to Carson City, Nevada after my aunt, uncle and cousins moved there.

Literally, the furthest from California I moved to before I was 18 was Carson City, Nevada. If you’ve never been to Carson City, you might not realize that it’s very close to the California border.

My real travelling began after I left for college.

In the fall of 1991, I traveled from Sacramento to Minneapolis, Minnesota and then to Duluth, Minnesota on my first two airplane flights. Once in Duluth, I loaded into a van and traveled to Ashland, Wisconsin. I was physically in three states in 1 day. That was a record for me.

In January of 1992, I made my first visit to Utah. I flew from Sacramento to Salt Lake City and then spent a few days in Ogden, Utah. I flew back to Minnesota and spent the next couple of months in Wisconsin.

In the Spring of 1992, I took a trip with the other communications committee folks to New York City. To get there, we had to board a plane in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I can’t remember which airport we changed planes in. It might have been Detroit. That trip to New York was really fantastic.

The summer of 1992 involved another round trip from Wisconsin to California and back but not much other travelling.

The end of 1992, 1993 and the spring of 1994 didn’t involve much travel except for trips from California to Wisconsin for school. I did travel to Southern Wisconsin and that was a fun trip.

At the end of the summer, 1994 I moved back from Wisconsin to California. I spent most of that fall in Marin County, California. I got to explore the county a lot.

In the winter of 1995, I moved from California to the Washington, DC Metro area. I lived in Virginia and spent a good deal of time exploring DC and Virginia. Unfortunately, I was without a car so any exploring was via Metro. In February of 1995, I took a little trip down to North Carolina to meet a guy. I had been talking to him online for a bit and we started dating for a few months. The trip to North Carolina on Amtrak was great. Amtrak on the east coast is so great compared to the rest of the country.

By the summer of 1995, I was living in Maryland. I had lived in four states in 12 months between August of 1994 and July of 1995 — Wisconsin, California, Virginia and Maryland. For the next few years, I did not do a lot of travelling. I did take another trip on Amtrak down to South Carolina to watch my sister graduate from Army basic training.

The real travelling began when I got my car in the fall of 1997.

What are my writing goals?

Over in the #my500words Facebook group, Jeff asked “If you could do anything with your writing, achieve any goal, what would it be?” 

To be honest, I haven’t thought about this question in awhile.

I’ve thought about writing in terms of how many words I want to write, but I haven’t thought about it in terms of longer goals.

I don’t have much interest in writing a book.

I’d like to get more exposure for either this blog or my other personal blog, but those are really a means to an end. Largely, I want to be out there speaking more, and I know that writing on these blogs would open up some opportunities there.

In regards to the work blog, I’d love for it to bring in more clients. It would be great if my company was seen as more of a thought leader in the nonprofit space, especially those doing unique production work.

In regards to my personal blog, one of the reasons why I write about some of the more personal things is because I hope that people will read it and feel some connection to things I’ve been through. This really falls in to two areas: others with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and those who have gone through abuse and other childhood trauma.

Ehlers-Danlos is rare and horribly diagnosed. Most people who have it feel so isolated in what they’re going through — whether its the pain or the instability that plagues us on a daily basis. Maybe me posting about how I get through the rough days and deal with things like being in a wheelchair will help someone else.

When it comes to abuse and childhood trauma, it’s all about keeping secrets. The more light we shine on these abuses, the harder it is for abusers to hide their evil deeds.

That is a long answer to the short question of what goal am I trying to achieve with my writing.

“Knowledge is the Obstacle to Freedom”

A few months ago, I watched a documentary called The Highest Pass about a group of people who were trying to ride the Highest Pass in the Himalayas on motorcycles.

The documentary was really interesting, and one of the things that has stuck with me is something the spiritual mentor leading the journey said — “Knowledge is the obstacle to freedom”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I work towards my goals, especially those having to do with weight loss and fitness.

When it comes to nutritional choices, I know what is good and bad. I know the amount of calories I should be eating each day to lose weight. I know the types of foods are healthy and which ones aren’t.

I know that drinking soda, especially in excess, is just pure empty calories. I know that eating fast food is not a healthy option.

I know all these things, but I have a very hard time putting them in to action.

In some ways, its the same thing with exercise. I know that keeping my body moving helps and not hurts it. I know that the more I work out, the better I feel.

Yet, I often have time feeling motivated to make any of this happen.

I’m trying really hard to get out of my own way and find a way to be successful.





Book Review: Elizabeth Street #emptyshelf

I love historical fiction, and lately I’ve been trying to find more historical fiction written about the late 19th century and early 20th century. I was in the middle of the Bronze Horseman series when I saw that Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano was available as a free “lending library” download on my Kindle.

The book covers 20 years in the life of Giovanna — from 1890 to 1910. It starts with her life in Southern Italy and then follows her to the United States. It also tells the story of her childhood sweetheart.

The biggest problem with the book, and its narrative, is that many chunks of the book are told from the point of view of Giovanna’s great-granddaughter. But, the chunks are from two different times — some when the great-granddaughter is a pre-teen and some when the great-granddaughter is a young adult. It makes for a very confusing narrative.

Aside from the confusing narrative, I also found the story and characters to be really flat. Most of the story that takes place in the 1890-1910 timeframe is from Giovanna’s point of view but there’s no depth to any of the other characters. There’s a 2nd husband that is central to many of the plot points in the 2nd half of the book, but we learn nothing about him before he met Giovanna and his portrayal in most of the rest of the book is almost non-existant.

If you had to actually pay for the book, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Book Notes
Title: Elizabeth Street
Author: Laurie Fabiano
Book Type: Historical Fiction (early 20th century)

Book Review: Why We Run From God’s Love #emptyshelf

I saw this book posted on Day 1 of the #emptyshelf challenge, and decided to download it from Kindle and give it a try.

To be honest, I’m glad I didn’t give up on the preface. The preface is a bit full of platitudes, but once you get past the platitudes there are some good tidbits in this very quick read.

Some quotes from the book that I appreciated:

“In the midst of all of this, I read in the Bible that God loves me, and I struggle to believe it.”
This idea of God’s love, especially a parental type of love, is something that I’ve struggled with my entire life. I never experienced a good deal of parental love growing up, so it’s a bit of a foreign concept to me. I believe in a “loving” God, but a God that loves me personally is still a hard concept for me. In the e-book, Ed Cyzewski talks about a courtroom and the difference between a merciful God and a vengeful God. It didn’t completely answer my questions about God’s love, but it did give me more to think about.

“He craves the wastelands of our lives. He wants the barren places, the thorn fields, the toxic dumps, and the graves that house our darkest memories.”
This is one thing that I’ve always believed. When I was living in Maryland, shortly after leaving college, I was really struggling. I didn’t think anyone really cared if I was alive or dead. I felt the farthest away from God that I’ve ever felt. Bit by bit, I started working and rebuilding my relationship with God. I started spending more time in prayer and contemplation and hoping that God would bring me some peace.

“God wants to give you eternal life no matter where you’re starting out and no matter how many times you’ve fallen on your face.”

Book notes: 
Title: Why We Run From God’s Love
Author: Ed Cyzewski
Length: 19 Pages
Type: Christian Self-Help

#30days to Hustle: The What, The Why & The How

I’ve committed to doing Jon Acuff’s #30days to Hustle challenge in January.

The first three days were all about the What, the Why and the How …

What: Write 25,000 words by the end of January

Why: I’ve always considered myself a writer, but my writing over the years has been sporadic. I want to actually be a writer and be seen as a writer by other people. In order to do that, I need to write on a regular basis.

How: My 2014 goal is to write 500,000 words. My January #30days to Hustle goal is to write at least 25,000 words. I plan to accomplish this by writing at least 750 words per day. I plan on writing for this blog,, and other publications. I also plan to use the #my500words and #30days community to stay motivated to keep on track.


What I’m doing this month to accomplish my goals

Yesterday, I wrote a fairly hefty post outlining some big goals for 2014.

I’m super excited for the year.

Here are a couple of things I’m doing to kick off the year in the right way.

Jon Acuff’s 30 Days of Hustle

I’ve committed to writing 25,000 in the month of January. To hit my goal of 500,000 words by the end of the year, I really should write 38,000 – 40,000 words this month, but 25,000 is a good number.

Jeff Goin’s My 500 Words

Jeff Goins has a program in January encouraging folks to write 500 words a day.

Jon Acuff’s Empty Shelf Challenge 

While not an explicit goal, I truly believe that to be a good writer you have to be a voracious reader and I plan to read as much as I can. I’ll be posting book reviews of each book I finish to this blog, and I’ll also be posting photos to the Pinterest board tracking my progress.

Some other things I’m doing:

  • Starting next week, I’ll be going to Circuit Athletics at least 3 nights a week.
  • My church is doing 21 days of prayer. I’ve missed Lifepoint Church, and I’m looking forward to being back.
  • I’m going to try and complete a 3000 kettleball swing challenge.

Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King #emptyshelf

I’ve been a Stephen King fan since I was a teenager, but for awhile it felt like his stories were getting a bit repetitive. Once he finished the majority of the work on the Dark Tower series, he started putting out some awesome work that I’ve really enjoyed — 11/22/63; The Cell; Under The Dome; Duma Key; etc.

I can now add Doctor Sleep to that list.

If you’ve never read The Shining (not just watched the movie), you probably should before reading Doctor Sleep. You could probably still enjoy Doctor Sleep without reading The Shining, but there are certain bits that might get lost.

Doctor Sleep starts out a bit slow, but about 25% of the way through — after you’ve met most of the main characters — it really gets going.

Some of the bad guys are a bit one-dimensional, but the protagonists are pretty awesome.

And, of course, my favorite part of the book is Stephen King’s author note at the end. I am definitely a Constant Reader.

The book would definitely fit on the horror shelf and shouldn’t be read by someone prone to nightmares. I would also not let someone under 14 read it.

Accomplishments for 2013 / Goals for 2014

Yesterday, over on my other blog, I wrote a post about my professional goals and accomplishments for 2013 & 2014. I based the post from a post by Chad Allen.

For this post, I’m going to focus on more personal items. There might be a few crossover items between the two lists.

What made me proud? 

  • Successfully stayed away from diet soda and other artificial sweeteners all year
  • Didn’t let some of the failures of my first year in Tennessee get me down, and decided a bit of a restart was in order in a move to Clarksville
  • Spoke at 3 different conferences
  • Won a MAXI award
  • Didn’t give up on my fitness goals. Joined a gym early in the year and then another one after my move to Clarksville. Finally found a place to workout at Circuit Athletics towards the end of the year.
  • Did not gain any weight during the year, including while rehabbing from breaking my ankle
  • Writing on this blog — especially the #julyproject
  • Helping build a windmill in Africa
  • Helping launch the Help Experiment
  • Finding a new church

My regrets: 

  • Not getting the Nashville 501 Tech Club meetup launched in 2013
  • Not losing any weight in 2013
  • While I kept trying to find the right fitness plan, there were several stretches of weeks (and months) where I could have been doing something but wasn’t
  • Overextending myself a bit and not being as successful on the planning committee for BarCamp Nashville
  • I spent way too much money eating out
  • I didn’t reduce my debt as much as I would have liked
  • Not being as engaged on Twitter as I would have liked. I tweeted quite a bit, but there were large gaps in “engagement”

Goals for 2014: 

  • Write 500,000 words (this includes this blog,, my posts on and other writing)
  • Launch the Nashville 501 Tech Club meetup and hold at least 6 meetups in 2014
  • Get more involved in the Nashville nonprofit community
  • Have at least one speaking engagement that is about my life and not about nonprofits or online marketing
  • Guest blog on at least 2 industry blogs
  • Workout at least 3 times a week
  • Redesign and rebrand it as
  • Send at least one personal snail mail note or card per week
  • Be more productive during work hours and free up
  • Eat out less
  • Go on at least one trip that isn’t for a conference or similarly related activity
  • Deal with the dental issues I’ve been putting off
  • Read from the Bible at least once a week
  • Attend church at least 75% of the Sundays during 2014
  • Find more ways to be involved within the Clarksville community

Crazy ideas: 

  • Get weight down to 200 pounds
  • Be debt free by the end of the year
  • Write 1,000,000 words
  • Write a book

I know that my goal list is kind of long and some aren’t entirely “SMART” goals that are Measurable and Time-bound, but they are all things that are very important to me. I also think that they are all very doable things. Some are things that will only require a small change in behavior. Others will require quite a bit of time to accomplish.