Friday, June 19, 2009

Firefly (not the Joss Whedon one)

It's amazing how quickly our childhood can come rushing back to us. With the right smell or touch or movie, we can feel the beautiful innocence and wonder of our childhood wash over us for a moment. Tonight while strolling with my wife I came upon a sight I have not seen for a very long time, Fireflies. It was a very emotional experience, for the firefly is a magical creature from the mists of my younger days.
Fireflies are not easy subjects to photograph, but there are 2 here if you can find them

Fireflies buzz around with tiny bolts of lightning strapped to their tales and it seems to me that they must be mythological creatures. I love the sight of fireflies because they remind me that the world is filled with mysteries and wonder. Nature is fascinating and strange, littered with plants that eat animals, bugs that look like stars, and lizards that can run across water. What a beautiful world we all inhabit. It's so full of wonder and beauty I can't wait to pass it on to my children one day.
My town is beautiful at night.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Beach

It's tough for me to admit when I'm wrong, but I do my best to be honest. So I'm just gonna say it: I went to the beach last weekend and had a great time. I know this seems like a simple admission, not deserving of the angst it has caused me. But I've been committed to disliking the beach for several years now, it's become part of my identity and enjoying the beach means changing who I am.I have plenty of reasons to dislike the beach. I'm pale and don't get along with Ultra Violet rays, I had an unfortunate incident involving a jellyfish stinger and my crotch, I drank some salt water once and threw up, and like everyone else when I visit the beach sand gets stuck everywhere. Despite my past misadventures at the beach, I had a great day Saturday. The combination of pleasures was nearly perfect: Friends, food, and childlike play surrounded by scenic beauty and joyful crowds. I went swimming, became one with nature when I buried myself in the sand, and had some amazing seafood from a nearby seafood festival. It opened a new chapter in my life; a new love affair has begun. I'm looking forward to my next trip to the Jersey shore where I'm sure to discover more joy.
making amends with the beach

Monday, June 15, 2009

Missing: Stolen Blog!

I decided to steal Jeff's blog for the day. I was so inspired by what I experienced today I needed to share it.

Isn’t it awesome how you can be inspired by others? I was inspired by a couple of things today. I was inspired by a wonderful young woman who is turning her life around. She is going home to clean her house and help out her mother who threatened to kick her out less than a week ago. I was also inspired by the contestants on the Next Food Network Star television show. These people are trying as hard as they can to cook delicious recipes, be creative and spontaneous enough to capture the audience who may be watching a Food Network Show. I love food and so you would think that being inspired by these passionate people cooking food on television I would also be inspired tonight to cook a creative dish. No sir, no ma’am. I was inspired to work in the kitchen doing dishes.

I have been inspired by other television shows and movies. One such movie is Center Stage. This dance movie is packed full of dancers living out their dreams competing for spots in the American Ballet Company. Now, I don’t dance much due to inexperience and fear of embarrassment so I am thankful that I was not inspired to dance by watching this movie. Instead, this movie inspires me to clean or do other chores that I am not normally motivated to do.

I am constantly motivated by my wonderful husband who dreams of living in Japan, witnessing him follow his passion inspires me to follow mine. I am so blessed that today I was inspired multiple times. Perhaps I would be inspired more often if I kept my eyes and heart open to others who are so passionate. Perhaps if I thought about it I would also be inspired by my fellow hospital chaplains who try to comfort others, or the grocery store clerk who shares a part of who he is with a curious grocery shopper over lychee. There are people to be inspired by all over the place, people putting themselves at risk of making a fool of themselves or sharing something personal with someone else. I think it’s so worth it. I hope that I too can be an inspiration for others by doing what I am passionate about.

-Misty Howick

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cutting Back

When I started this blog 77 days ago I made the decision to write a post every single day. I started a blog to help hold me accountable for taking pictures daily and to see if I would enjoy writing publicly. I no longer need this blog to help remind me to take pictures. I carry my camera with me everywhere and almost always find something picture worthy in my day.
I do enjoy writing this blog, but I've found with increasing frequency that there are sometimes other activities I must sacrifice or forgo in order to post an entry for a given day. So I've decided that I would be happier posting less frequently, probably once or twice a week. I hope this isn't too disappointing to my dozens of "fans", but as usual I must follow my heart. I've really enjoyed this experience/experiment but for now my heart and mind are asking me to focus on other activities like talking with my wife or writing Star Trek stories or volunteering. So if you're interested, check in next week and see if I've received my Star Trek uniform from Cheese-its yet.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's Go To the Mall

I won a gift card to Ruby Tuesdays recently so my wife and I did something we haven't done in a LONG time, we went to a mall. After such a long absence, I saw the mall with new eyes. It actually felt like an exciting destination full of energy and young people.
free food tastes better

I can understand why so many people like to visit the mall regularly. Malls have movies, massage chairs, opportunities to people watch, stores for almost every taste, and a variety of foods. The mall we went to was full of adventure and we had a great time wandering around after our free meal. I won't be going back to the mall again this weekend, but I will be going back to the mall someday soon and looking forward to that day. Before I leave, for your viewing pleasure here's a great music video about malls:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Volunteering is the most American thing one can do

Today I attended my third training class for the Literacy Volunteers of America. It's been a fun and enlightening experience, one I would recommend to others. During each class we learn a little about teaching methods for ESL and a little about our students and their lives.
We've heard stories how learning to speak, read and write English has helped people to vote for the first time, get a better job, talk to their children's teachers and doctors, and become citizens of the United States of America. ESL tutoring has all the ingredients a great volunteer program should have: cultural exchanges for both student and tutor, kind souls sharing their knowledge and time to help empower others, and the chance to fell good while improving local communities. Everyone should voluteer, because it's not just American or moral, it's healthy and joyful. Wherever you passions lie, there is a chance to volunteer. Whether you referee little league games or serve soup to the homeless, volunteering enriches the lives or everyone involved. So I implore you to find a place to give a few moments of your time and improve your life and the world.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

H1N1 Swine Flu??

This morning I woke up sick. I shouldn't have been surprised because last night I also went to bed sick. I dislike being sick because it feels terrible, but also because it tends to hamper my freedom and scuttle my plans. But even though I was pretty busy trying not to fall out of bed today, I also tried to keep some of my daily goals. I tried to learn something today, I studied Japanese, and here I am writing this post.
What was I able to learn in my weakened state? For one, I learned that I really should type up a few extra blog posts to have on hand in case I get sick or don't feel inspired or go somewhere without internet like rural Tanzania. I also learned that I have an amazingly supportive and loving wife. This is a lesson I learn over and over, and I never tire of discovering new ways to fall in love with my wife. And with that, I think I'll go collapse in bed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Jersey Jazzfest

Some days you wake up and find a Jazz festival in your backyard. This was one of those days for me. How we respond to Jazz festivals in our back yard speaks volumes about how we approach life, so I had to explore this opportunity. When I tried to enter, the main guard informed me that I must first purchase a ticket.
Determined to enter the festival and hoping to avoid payment, I approached the ticket booth and informed the woman behind the table I lived here and wanted to see what was happening. Apparently reading my mind she decided to wave the standard fee and gave me a free wristband.
The music was heavenly and so too was the weather. It's been rainy for the past five or six days here in New Jersey. So I'm don't know if the Jazz brought out beautiful weather or the weather brought out beautiful Jazz, but it was certainly no coincidence. Today's lesson: pay attention to your back yard because sooner or later you'll find beautiful, heavenly Jazz.

Friday, June 5, 2009

highs and lows

Communication is the key to maintaining any relationship. Whether it's your work, your wife, or your giant Wookiee first mate, if you want your relationships to be healthy you must communicate openly. But even if you speak the same language, communication can be difficult. It requires occasionally being wrong, listening to others speak without simultaneously formulating a counter-argument, and paying attention to details that don't involve Batman or Mr. Spock.
Life is blurry

My wife and I are constantly trying to improve our communication, sometimes it's easy and sometimes not. One of our main differences seems to be that she likes to talk about problems and I like to solve problems, both fairly typical responses for our genders. Being aware of this difference helps us understand what the other person wants out of a conversation.
Communication works like windshield wipers

My wife and I have several activities and games designed to help us communicate and stay connected, but my favorite is called "Highs and Lows". At the end of each day we like to share the best and the worst thing that happened to us during the day. It's a great way to get right down to the most interesting details and many times my wife's highs or lows have surprised me. No matter how well you know someone there's always more to discover, even about yourself. Communicate openly with those in your life and you will learn a lot.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Memories and Anticipation

Yes, yes, I'm sure by now I've mentioned once or twice that I love adventure. But going to wacky festivals and strange new places is only half the fun. As much as I love "the moment", the before and after also fill me with joy. The buzz of anticipation and the warm glow of memories give me more pleasure than the adventurous activity itself, I think.
The Great Book of Fun

I can't resist ordering travel guides from near and far away places, checking out travel guides from the library, and wandering the internet in search of strange events and places. In fact planning and researching for future adventures has become an activity of its own.
box of free visitor's guides I've requested

The same is true of browsing through my old photos or posting them online, I gain a great deal of pleasure from my pre and post adventure rituals. It's deeply important to bridge and balance one's past, present, and future. My endless cycle of planning, experiencing, and processing adventures helps me feel like I am giving adequate focus to all periods of life.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The myriad of emotions felt while walking through the toy aisle at Target

Man do I love ninjas. Their stealth, their swords, and their tremendous dedication to honor and violence fascinate me. I often find myself fending off make-believe ninjas throughout the day in order to keep my imagination healthy and active.Judging by this awesome display I ran into at Target, I'm not the only American who loves ninjas. I never would have believed that "cute" and "lethal killer" could be such a great combination until I discovered the Mighty Muggs line of toys. The people at Mighty Muggs have found a way to create super cute, bordering on cuddly, statues of our nation's most feared and lethal heroes and villains from Wolverine to Darth Vader. Something deep within me wants every single Mighty Mugg, but I feel like I should resist this impulse. Should I be concerned that most of my life's most difficult struggles seem to involve fighting the urge to buy all comic book and sci-fi related paraphernalia? I really should stop going to the toy aisle in Target, but I just can't help myself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Apartment Puddle

I stepped in a puddle walking barefoot through my apartment today and for a moment I thought my wife had flooded our place again. As it turns out, her camelback had merely fallen over and emptied most of it's contents onto the floor.It may sound funny, but our flooded apartment is one of the reasons I love my wife. She makes life unpredictable and hilarious, just the way I love it. If I can't come home to occasionally discover that my wife started to fill the sink for dishes and then accidentally locked herself out of our apartment with the water still pouring, then I don't want to come home. Life is suppose to be crazy, and in my experience things usually end well. In this case my wife ran to the campus police who let her back into the apartment just as water was starting to pour out from under the door, and after mopping up all that water we had a very clean floor! All I really want out of life is a little bit of craziness and some fun stories and my wife gives me both.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer is Here

Ahhhhhh, it feels so good. Summer has arrived with the bounce of a trampoline and the swing of a hammock.Summer means freedom, the freedom to swim in the ocean and grill outdoors, the freedom to wear sandals or hike mountains. Yesterday it meant enjoying an entire afternoon playing games and eating food outside under the great summer sky. This is my first adult summer spent outside Arizona and summer in New Jersey is much different than in the 'Zona desert. It's not just because the temperature is below 120 degrees.Summer out here has a beginning and an end. I already miss winter, but not in the way that I miss my first cat. Unlike the eternal summer of the desert, I know this summer will eventually end and winter shall return. This finiteness makes me enjoy the freedom of summer much more than I ever have. Variety is my favorite spice in the meal of life. So bring on the summer fun, I'm ready to enjoy it while it lasts.

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