Ghetto Grocery Shopping With Mo

Food Co in San Francisco

Whenever I buy food at Safeway and tell Mo how much the food cost me he answers me the same way.

He looks at me like I’m crazy while usually saying something like “You spent how much? I need to take you to the ghetto grocery store. You’re spending too much, Ryan! Those guys at Safeway are bums. THEY’RE BUMS!” (Anyone or anything Mo doesn’t approve of is a bum.) I had never seen or heard about this cheap and apparently ghetto grocery store he liked to tell me about so much but little did I know I was about to experience it for myself.

At the beginning of this month Mo started getting some financial help from the good ol’ state of California. Since he’s officially off parole he’s now eligible for some government assistance which means that he now has some money coming in. It’s only $390 per month but for someone who hasn’t had any type of consistent cash flow for the past four years it’s a pretty big deal. To make sure he doesn’t blow the money on who-knows-what Mo gave me the card he uses to get the cash out and we decide together what the money gets spent on.

It’s no surprise that the main thing Mo wants to use the money for is food and the first place he wanted to spend it was the ghetto grocery store in San Francisco he always tells me about. The store’s called Food Co, it’s on 14th and Folsom and last Sunday we headed straight there after church.

Pulling in I could tell that we weren’t at Safeway anymore. The parking lot was a mad house and I was the only white person within a 100ft. radius. Nothing that I’ve never experienced before but definitely the first time since living in San Francisco.

Once we made it into the store there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between what I saw there and other stores I’ve been in besides the types of people who were shopping there. They had similar food and although it seemed a little more out of control than normal it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before at a Wal-Mart in Indiana.

I followed Mo around as he filled up the cart and we ended up getting a ton of food. Once we had everything we needed we checked out and I could tell that Mo was happy he could pay for it himself. It was a really cool to see him, for the first time, buy his own groceries with his own card. I know it’s government money but there’s still something to be said for buying something on your own, without anyone else’s help.

After filling up four bags of groceries I took a look at the receipt and Mo was right about it being way cheaper than other grocery stores. We spent a little over $75 and at Safeway I’m pretty sure it would of cost me at least $125. Plus, shopping around at Food Co was way more fun and seeing Mo in his element is always entertaining. For instance, we ran into another homeless guy we both knew who ended up stealing a frozen bag of chicken so he could sell it for crack. I was pretty surprised by this but according to Mo it’s just another day at Food Co.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Food Co I went to in San Francisco here’s their page on Yelp that will give you a good idea of what it’s like. The reviews are amazing entertaining, here is one of my favs:

there are a few rules you must follow to go here:

1. Do not go here after dark, 6am is the best time to go.
2. Do not drive a nice car here, it will get dinged.
3. Do not wear fancy or flashy clothes here.
4. Do not wear lots of jewelry here.
5. Dress down.
6. Do not leave anything of value in your car.
7. Do not go here at the beginning of the month, wait until the well fare checks are spent.
Don’t follow these rules, and it’s likely you will have a very bad day…

There are LOTS of kids running and yelling, and their dirt-bag and/or thug “parents” won’t control them. The isles are dirty, the check out lines are long and slow. I couldn’t wait in line any longer and had to leave my cart and walk out…

And here’s another good one (yes, this is for real).

I use to go here to get more groceries for my money. Someone broke my window out of my car because they thought our dog carrier had something of value in it. Thank god they didn’t steal my Pekingese, who was in the SUV! The window will be about $150. Very bad neighborhood! Their customer service is horrible. Manager didn’t return my phone call!

Also, here’s a video I found of someone apparently trying to steal some food from there and arguing with the security guy about not showing a receipt. It’s worth watching for a couple of minutes.

Yep, I would say that grocery shopping with Mo was quite the adventure but look at it this way — we saved at least $50. I can’t wait to go back.

 

Pugs and Their Magical, Three-Dimensional Tails

In case you haven’t noticed, Pugs are pretty much the most amazing dogs, ever. They’re full of personality, don’t require a lot of exercise and make all kinds of funny noises. Ever since getting talked into it by Stephanie a few years back I’ve been the proud owner of a Pug and at this point I can’t really imagine my life without the little weirdo.

The one thing that’s different about Pugs is the trifecta of emotional connection they have with their tails. Where as most dogs have a binary ability of either wagging or not wagging Pugs have a third dimension at their disposal. If another dog is happy their tail will be wagging but what about when it’s not? How do they feel then? With Pugs there’s never any question about how they’re feeling and their magical tails tell the story. Here, let me explain and prepare to have your mind blown.

If a Pug is content and not sad or excited, it’s tail will be curled up tight. Frank happens to have a really tight curl with his tail so when he’s doing ok you can see it. Frank’s tail curls this way when he’s eating, walking around or chewing on something.

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If a Pug is sad, upset or asleep it’s tail will be drooped down and unrolled as much as possible. Frank’s tail does this when he’s not able to do what he wants, when I leave the apartment without him or when he knows he’s been bad. The drooping tail is never a good thing.

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If a Pug is excited it’s tail will not only be curled up but it will also be wagging back and forth. This is something that’s unique to Pugs and is really funny to see. Frank’s tail does this whenever he’s really excited about something, like when I come home after being at work all day or when we’re playing with a toy together. Check out the video of me and Frank playing below to see the wagging tail in action. Also, be sure to check out my sweet hair.

If you were never aware of the awesomeness of the Pug tail, consider yourself schooled. It goes without saying that there are also other amazing things Pugs do that other dogs don’t but it wouldn’t be right if I gave away all the secrets at once so stay tuned.

 

An Expensive Lesson In Putting Things Off Until Tomorrow

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Me, Frank and the most expensive piece of cardboard I’ve ever bought.

On Friday night I pulled into a parking spot in front of my apartment building and noticed there was a bright orange and white temporary no parking sign staring me in the face. It was telling me that I would need to move from the parking space I was in before 7am the next morning or I would be towed. Since I’m now an early riser I didn’t think it was a big deal so I parked, got out of my car and didn’t worry too much about it.

That night I stayed up a little later than I usually do (I blame Breaking Bad on Netflix) and thought about going out to move my car before crashing but I didn’t feel like doing it. I was well aware of the consequences but after a long week of work and a few episodes of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman doing their thing I didn’t want to go back outside.

Even though I decided not to change parking spots before I went to sleep I was sure to set my alarm for 6:45am so I didn’t miss out on moving my car in the morning. I’m used to waking up a lot earlier than 6:45am so I figured it would be easy to get up, move it and carry on with the rest of my day.

Before I knew it the alarm was going off and since I don’t use the snooze anymore I shut it off and didn’t even think about why I had set it for the time I did. For some reason I didn’t remember my car that was sitting outside in a parking spot that was pretty much guaranteeing me a trip to the San Francisco tow lot. I completely forgot that I had fifteen minutes to get up and move my car before it would be pulled up on a flatbed and rolled away to a very, very bad place. A very bad and expensive place. I fell back asleep and didn’t even think about it. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

Who knows how long later I woke up and with a feeling of panic I reached over to my phone and with one eye squinted open I took a look at what time it was. It was a little past eight o’clock and with the realization of what was going on a feeling of sickness shot all the way down to my stomach.

I hopped out of bed and while I was throwing on my clothes I could have swore I heard the beeping noise that commercial trucks make when backing up. This was probably also the very same noise that tow trucks make when they’re backing up to take away a car. The noise that a tow truck makes when it’s towing away my car. Not good.

As I was jetting down the hall and running down the stairs to get out of my apartment building I started thinking about what I would do if the tow truck was just about to tow my car or if it was already up on the back of the truck. Would I try to talk the driver out of taking it away? Would I hop in the car and refuse to move? Maybe I would have just enough time to move my car before they towed it away. Maybe there was a chance, just maybe?

Once I was outside all of those thoughts disappeared as I saw a car that wasn’t mine already up on the back of the tow truck. My car was nowhere to be found and even though I knew it was gone I kept staring at the spot where I last left it like there was no possible way it could have just disappeared. Cars just don’t move on their own, right? It was clear my car was towed and that there was nothing I could do about it at this point except go pick it up.

I wanted to get mad about it but how could I? It was completely my fault and there was no one else to blame. I felt like an idiot for not moving it the night before when I had plenty of time to do so and it made me wonder why I put it off. I had traded a few minutes of inconvenience for a much larger problem and it didn’t feel very good. Not my finest moment.

An hour or so later I paid to get my car out of the tow lot and it wasn’t cheap. Even though it cost me a lot of money to get it out there were some bright spots around this situation that I’ll hopefully get to tell you about some other day but the one thing I learned (even though I knew better already) was to never put off something until tomorrow if I can do it today. I know I sound like I’m reciting a page from a quote-of-the-day calendar but it’s true. If you can do something now, even if you don’t feel like it, do it and save the potential downside of letting it drag on longer than it should. You’ll be happy that you did.

 

I’m An Uncle (again)

The Bossnack Fam
Meet the new addition to the fam, Mallory Kaye.

Before this week I was an uncle to five girls and three boys. That’s eight nieces and nephews for all of you math gurus out there. But apparently that’s not quite enough because right around 48 hours ago the girl to guy ratio went up one notch higher.

That’s right, there was yet another XX chromosome added to our family thanks to my sister giving birth to a 7lb 6oz human named Mallory Kaye Bossnack. I like to call this ability a super power but apparently creating humans and releasing them into the wild is a common thing that females are capable of. What can I say, women never cease to amaze me.

Even though this is niece or nephew number nine for me I’ve been much more involved with this pregnancy than any of the others. I remember when my sister first told me she was pregnant, being sent her first ultrasound on my phone, seeing her belly move around for the first time on Skype and keeping up with the progress of the baby room.

I wanted to be more involved with the process this time around and I’m grateful to have had the chance to do that for the past nine months. My sister’s an amazing woman, I love her more than hummus and walking though this her has been something I’ll never forget.

Congrats to my sister Angie, her husband John and now big sister Colleen. I’ve been very blessed to have been able to be a part of the pregnancy and I can’t wait to hold Mallory for myself sometime soon.

 

Conditioning, Strategy and Understanding My Love For Muay Thai

Muay Thai

I’ve only been taking Muay Thai and boxing classes for a couple of weeks now and it’s incredible how much I look forward to them. Last week was my first full week of running, Muay Thai and boxing and even though I was exhausted by Friday night I felt amazing.

There’s no doubt that training at a gym like Fight and Fitness gives me a good workout. It’s an hour of non-stop moving around on your toes while punching, kicking kneeing and elbowing stuff so there’s no denying the cardio I’m getting. But even beyond that there’s something about what I’m doing for the hour I’m in that gym that’s different than most workouts I’ve done before.

While still trying to catch my breath last night after a workout I was unraveling my wrist wraps and I introduced myself to one of the few women I’ve seen at the gym consistently. Her name is Wendy and from what I’ve seen of her in action I should probably stay on her good side.

“How long have you been fighting Muay Thai?”, I asked her.

“It’s been about ten years on and off.”, she said. “I just moved to California not too long ago and I always end up at a gym like this. I don’t really have a choice at this point, I really love it.”

I started digging into why Wendy, a fairly unassuming and petite middle-aged woman was so into a full contact workout like Muay Thai. What she told me was really interesting and explains why I feel so drawn to it.

“I can go out for a run and all I really have to think about is right-left-right-left and how I’m going to get back home. It’s a great workout but there’s no real challenge beyond how far can I go without getting too tired. It’s a nice workout but I need more than that.”

I thought this made a lot of sense and wanted to hear more.

She continued, “With Muay Thai I’m always learning and thinking about what I’m going to do next. It’s a great workout but that’s a distant second to the technique, discipline and thought process I go through every time I put on the gloves and train or spar with another fighter.”

This was just the answer I was looking for. There’s something about not only working out but thinking, learning and getting yourself into shape all at the same time. When I used to play basketball there was a lot of this going on. I was running up and down the court, jumping around and getting a fantastic workout in while I was playing the sport. But the conditioning I got from the sport was just a prerequisite for the strategy and thinking that’s required to play the game.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Learning and using my head while doing my best to punch or elbow someone else’s has become my ultimate workout. I didn’t know I’d feel this way about Muay Thai and boxing but I’m really glad I gave it a shot. If you’re looking for a similar type of workout I suggest you try it, too. If you have any questions I’m far from being an expert but I’ll help you out any way I can.

image credit: alliancegym.com

 

Intentional Time, Attention, Effort (and Some Help) Creates Change

Oleg the fashion coach
Oleg the fashion coach, although optimistic, has his work cut out for him.

File this under “thoughts on the way to the train” and pay attention, I think I might just be onto something here. This morning at Starbucks when me and my friend-turned-fashion-coach Oleg (I think I have a few now thanks to this post last week) were going through how we’re going to give my wardrobe an upgrade I felt something. I felt what it’s like to not only recognize something I care about and need to work on but also the feeling of doing something about it. I recognized a need, thought about it, expressed it and now I’ve brought in some people who are willing to help me out. It’s a great feeling and one that doesn’t just happen naturally. It’s planned, it’s intentional and it’s incredibly powerful.

One thing I’ve realized about myself is that most of the time I know what I need to do to make certain situations better but for some reason I just don’t do it. Take this fashion thing for example. All I needed was to get my thoughts together about what I wanted, communicate them in the right way and then ask for help. It’s not that I don’t have the ability to go buy clothes for myself. It’s more about feeling overwhelmed by the process and getting stuck and not making any forward progress.

Another important thing I’ve recognized is now that I’ve got the process started there are people who are holding me accountable and who I don’t want to let down. For me this is strong motivation for keeping up with what’s being asked of me. It’s a powerful way to get something done and just how I’m using it to give my fashion a facelift it can also be used to make any other type of change in my life.

How strong was the motivation for me this morning? Usually I’m struggling to make it to me and Oleg’s weekly meeting on time at 7:30am. This morning, knowing that I still had some fashion homework to do I showed up just before 6:30am. Now that’s creating some change. I’ll be sure to continue to write about the process and I’m excited to see how this all ends up. There’s no stopping me now.

 

When To Accept, When To Be Patient, and When To Confront

Stop Overthinking

When it comes to having good communication in a relationship there are so many things to think about it can become a little overwhelming. When to say something, what to say and deciding whether it was the right thing to say once you’ve said it. Like I said, there’s a lot to think about. There’s a fine line between being aware of how you’re communicating and overthinking it but more times than not it’s good to know how you’re coming across to others.

Something I’ve been thinking through along these lines is when to accept, when to be patient and when to confront. I feel like this is one of the hardest decisions to make when you’re building a relationship with someone you really care about. We all have our own preconceptions about how things should be done and I know it doesn’t take much to annoy me if I’m around someone who isn’t aligning with my thoughts and feelings.

Dealing with this type of conflict, both big and small, is something I need to get much better at which is why I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it. I guess thinking through it is the first step to figuring it out and it’s something that I’ll get a better handle on as time goes on.

To make this thought process a little more clear, here’s what I mean when I say when to accept, when to be patient and when to confront.

When To Accept

When in relationship there are going to be things that annoy you or that you don’t necessarily agree with or see the same way as the other person. Some of these things need to change and some of these don’t, it’s just the way the other the person is and it’s up to you to accept them.

If your husband is an insane football fan and you don’t even know what a first down is then you’re most likely not going to feel the same way. Instead of pushing against the harmless things that he really enjoys you should choose to accept it ever though you’re never going to feel the same way he does. You might not ever want to get tickets to a playoff game, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hook him up with some if you have the opportunity.

When To Be Patient

There are other things that either you or the person you’re in a relationship will need to change eventually. These are what I would bucket into things that are worth being patient for. Most of the time these tend be smaller issues or habits that have been learned over time due to the environment someone has been a part of in the past.

Usually these types of things aren’t causing major immediate problems and wouldn’t be considered a deal-breaker but they need to change in order for you to have a healthy, loving and long-lasting connection to each other. Think of these as the annoying things that just aren’t going to be acceptable for the long term.

A good example of this is having a bad temper or not being willing to help with responsibilities that need to be taken care of in the relationship. With enough time they have the chance to be a big problem, but with a little patience and some open communication about them they can be taken care of before they become unbearable.

When To Confront

The last and most aggressive option is to confront something that needs to be talked about and openly addressed in a relationship. This is by far the hardest one for me and something I’ve been focusing on in my life. It’s not easy to confront the people you care about but it’s important to do it when the situation calls for it. This could be a one-off situation that you’re very uncomfortable with or something you’ve been patient about in the past that’s not going to change without confronting it.

Confrontation doesn’t mean you have to be mean or aggressive. Confronting something is more about getting something out into the open so it can be talked about instead of ignoring it for an unhealthy amount of time.

When it comes to confronting someone just be sure to take some time to think through what you’re feeling and what you want to communicate before you say it. Don’t bring in sarcasm and belittle the other person just to make them feel bad. Just tell them how what they’re doing makes you feel and how you would like them to change in order to make you feel more comfortable. It sounds kind of cheesy and isn’t as exciting as a full-out argument, but if done the right way inviting confrontation into your relationship can be a healthy way to communicate the things that are most important to you.

With the right mix of accepting, being patient and confronting relationships can move in the right direction and grow in all the right ways. It’s not easy but one thing I’ve learned is that it’s worth figuring out, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. If you’re like me, it’s going to take a while to get the hang of it but I feel like just keeping these in mind helps a lot. Good luck and if you have any thoughts on this for me, I’d love to hear them (I could always use the help).

image credit: dailypositivequotes.com

 

Progress Over Perfection

It's all about progress

Now that I’m into a few weeks of following my early running schedule I wanted to share a little somethin’ somethin’ that has kept me on track. By no means has it been a smooth process. There are times I have overslept and times I’ve gone to bed way too late. There have been times when I didn’t have enough time to run in the morning before catching the train. There have been ups and downs and that’s all ok.

When you’re teaching yourself something new or when you’re getting into a new habit there’s usually a feeling that you need to be perfect. I used to feel the same way all the time and it’s very counterproductive to think like that. This need to be perfect is natural and comes from the observations of those around you who seem to be so much farther along. You see where people are at and how far of a gap there seems to be between where they are and where you want to be and it seems nearly impossible to get there.

Even though this is a very natural feeling to have you need to get it out of your head and don’t ever let it creep back in. It’s only going to cause a sense of frustration and envy and will kill your motivation. Once you set the expectation that you’re not going to get to where you need to be overnight you can then start focusing on what will actually help you get there.

Instead of focusing on perfection what you need to focus on is progression. This means you’re not going to spend your time and energy wondering why you’re not as far along as this guy or that girl. You’re going to shift your thinking into focusing on how you (not anyone else) are doing and how you (yes, only you) are progressing toward your goal. This way you don’t beat yourself up when you don’t follow your plans exactly how you’re supposed to and you focus on the fact that you’re consistently moving in the right direction.

When I got back from my trip to Indiana over the holidays I was way off my game. I skipped runs, I slept in and I was in a major funk. I felt terrible and hopeless but I kept getting better little by little every week and about a month later I’m now back in the habit of the running schedule I want to be on. After the first couple weeks I felt frustrated that I wasn’t following what I had planned. But instead of focusing on my unrealistic expectation of perfection I shifted my thoughts to how I had ran more the second week than the first and that it was only getting easier to wake up earlier.

By only allowing myself to think in terms of progression I now find myself at the end of a week where I’m not only back on my running schedule but I’ve also been able to throw a little Muay Thai in there for good measure. I know I talk a lot about things in terms of working out but these ways of thinking also translate well into other parts of my life. Work, relationships and other things will also benefit from this progression mindset. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

 

image credit: KK.org

Sending Out A Fashion S.O.S.

Brown Pants, Startup T-shirt
Me, my brown pants and a startup t-shirt. Ryan Hupfer fashion at it’s best (worst). 

I have a problem with fashion. First of all, I don’t put enough emphasis on the way I look most of the time. It’s just something that has never been a priority for me so I don’t put a whole lot of time or effort into it. Some people tell me this is a good thing because I spend less money on stuff I don’t need and I don’t eat up my time with shopping for the next must-have addition to my wardrobe. The problem is that deep down I know the value in presenting myself well and as long as I don’t go overboard adding some much-needed options to my clothing repertoire I think it’s something I need to put some time into.

Currently my style is pretty simple. I wear the same pair of brown jeans about 75% of the time due to the fact that they actually fit me well (buying jeans when you’re 6’7″ isn’t easy). I usually top of my outfit with a t-shirt that I’ve most likely gotten for free from some tech startup in the area. I have about ten solid startup shirts and not only were they free but they’re comfy and designed well.

For my shoes I’m rocking some bright green and yellow Pumas which I didn’t even buy myself. I was in Las Vegas with my parents and the shoes I was wearing at the time looked so ragged my mom made me to go a shoe store to buy something new. If it wasn’t for her dragging me into the Puma store who knows what my shoes would look like right now.

In San Francisco it’s always nice during the day but once the sun starts going down you don’t dare go anywhere without a couple of layers. When I need to break out the layers I have one fairly stylish jacket I bought about a year ago at TJ Maxx. I like it because it’s not too big and it’s just warm enough to wear around the city most of the time. If it gets a little colder I have a hoodie that’s a little too big for me, but super comfortable that I’ll throw under it for good measure. When paired together they look pretty good on me but I hate it when the sleeves of the hoodie stick out farther than the sleeves of my jacket. That just looks dumb.

Really the only other noticeable things I rock on the runway of life are funky socks. I’ve grown to like wearing colorful and weird socks that don’t usually match most of the time. It’s a fun and subtle way to say “Hey, I’m not normal.” without having to invest in some tattoos or expensive/painful accessories. I have argyle socks, socks with robots on them and even some bright pinks socks that I found in the women’s section of Target. I wear them as much as I can and it’s amazing how many people actually notice them.

So all of that to say that I need some help in the fashion department and I’m not sure where to start. I’m not one to just go out and shop for this thing or that and to be honest it’s not real easy to shop for my body type. I’m 6’7″ with an athletic build (small waist and broader shoulders/chest) and there’s not a whole lot of places that carry clothes that fit me the way I like them to. For example, I wear a 34/36 pant and that’s a pretty rare find.

I feel like I just need to shop for some stuff online and get used to trying them on at home and shipping back what I don’t like. I think that would be a good place to start, although I’m not sure where I would start buying from. I’m just clueless when it comes to where to shop. How pathetic.

Anyway, I guess this is my fashion SOS for any of you men or women out there who would happen to have any advice for how I can start doing something about the sad, sad state of affairs that just happens to be my closet. If you have any thoughts or ideas on where I should start, I would really appreciate them. In the meantime, if you need me I’ll be the guy in the brown pants.

 

The Big 3-3 And What This Last Year Has Meant To Me

Happy 33!

First question, when did I hit 30? Second question, am I really 33 already? According to my Facebook wall, random texts from Congo and future phone calls from friends and family it’s true so who’s to say otherwise? Ok, I’ll admit it — I’m creeping into my mid-30s. I guess the only thing that’s good about this whole “getting older” thing is that this past year was most likely one of the most positively transitional times of my life. Meaning, even though there was plenty of struggle for me in the past 365 days (you have no idea), last year was amazing to experience and I feel more blessed now than ever. In other words, I’m pretty sure I’m in my prime.

So what are some of the thing that have made my last year so valuable to me? I’m sure I could write a million things and go page after page but none of us really want that. We’re all busy people with limited time, which is why I’m happy to give you a Cliff Notes version instead.

To all of my friends and family who have been there for me over the past year, you’ll never have any idea what your love and support has meant to me. I love you and I hope you already knew that without me having to tell you in a blog. Moving on…

Learning what loving someone really means. There are plenty of ways to show that you love someone but the most powerful way is by doing what you know is right and fighting for what you believe. Always keeping someone happy isn’t loving them. Being honest, sacrifice and never letting go is love to the fullest.

Studying the Bible. I’m a strong believer that if I’m going to put my faith in Jesus Christ then I had better know what I’m signing up for. The Bible is the center of following Christ and although I feel a strong spiritual connection I didn’t feel like I knew enough about the word. To learn more about it I’ve been going to Bible Study Fellowship in SF for the past few months and it’s been a great way to dig deeper into my faith.

Becoming a morning person, for real. I’ve never been a morning person but as I got older and had more responsibility I felt like getting up early was the only option for squeezing in everything into one day. It’s been tough and I don’t always stick with it (like when I was in Indiana for the holidays) but I’m not well aware of the amazing benefits getting up at the crack of dawn and it’s becoming more of a habit every day.

Meeting Mo. Wow, what can I say about Mo other than the fact that he’s been one of the biggest blessing’s I’ve ever had in my life. If you would have told me that becoming friends with someone who’s homeless would end up shaping me into a man more than everything else in my life combined I would have called you crazy. The work that God is doing on Mo is nothing short of a miracle and how the relationship has challenged me personally isn’t too far behind. Of course, the fact that our story went viral all over the world was pretty crazy, too. That’s still hard to believe.

Realizing the value of real relationships. My entire life it’s been really easy for me to become friends with lots of people. What hasn’t always been easy for me is creating strong, personal and meaningful relationships with the people in my life who really matter most. This past year of my life I’ve focused on taking the time and making the effort to show those who mean the most to me how much I love them and all I hope is that they’ve noticed.

My connection to Congo. I’m really not sure how it happened but somehow, someway I’ve developed an amazing connection to Congo and the amazingly beautiful people who live there. Traveling there for the second time last year was an incredible experience for me and the time I was able to spend with my Congolese brothers and sisters is something I hold very dear to my heart. If you haven’t seen me dancing while in Congo I suggest you take a look, it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I have a feeling my story with Congo isn’t close to being over and I can’t wait to see where God takes it next.

Seeing isocket grow into a real company. A little over three years ago I was the first employee at a small, unknown online advertising startup called isocket. I had no idea what I was doing and I knew nothing about the online advertising world but for some reason I felt like what we were doing was important and that our fearless leader, John Ramey knew exactly what he was doing. A couple rounds of funding and about fifteen more employees later we’re building a business that’s leading what’s predicted to be a multi-billion dollar market.

Killing caffeine. I’ve tried to kick the habit of downing Big Gulps full of Dew, brewing K-cups and heading to Starbucks but I always came back. A month or so I ago I decided for the last time that I’m done with caffeine and this time I’m sticking with it. When I’m in shape I don’t need it, I don’t like feeling dependent on it and it only makes me more anxious and over-energized anyway. If you know me you already know I’ve got plenty of energy to burn so cutting out caffeine was really the only option for me.

Dedicating time to writing. I guess this is becoming more apparent as I write more posts like this one you’re reading right now but I’ve been writing more than ever over the past year (and especially over the past couple of months). It’s a great way for me to get my thoughts together and I’m a believer in the power of sharing experiences with others as a way to help them with the things they’re dealing with in their lives. We were never meant to go through things along and getting my thoughts and experiences out to the world can only help.

I’m sure I missed some stuff but these are the handful of things that immediately came to mind when thinking back at all of the awesome things that have happened to me during my thirty-second year on this crazy planet of ours. I’m feeling great going into my thirty-third and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

If you have anything you would like to share with me on my birthday, I’d love to hear from you. I really appreciate you taking the time to stop in and spend time in my little corner of the internet and I can only hope that your past year was as fun and fulfilling as mine. Happy birthday to me and we’ll catch up soon.

 

photo credit: heartfish.com