fun, leisure, travel

Summer is for the imagination

While reading one of the books on my summer reading list, “The Informant” (see post: https://rarpin.wordpress.com/2018/06/23/summer-reading-list/) , I came across a receipt from the book’s previous owner (I purchased the book from a used book store). It was from a Red Lobster, in El Paso, Texas, in 1995!

I thought that was pretty cool. And I started thinking about the person who was reading the book at that time. Were they just passing through, and needed a bookmark, so took advantage of what they had and used the bookmark? Were they from El Paso, and were reading the book at home?

It reminds me of the games we used to play as kids, on summer vacation. We’d see a family, or a couple, or an individual, and try to think about their life: Why were they here? Where are they from? What is their life like?

It seems summer is about the imagination. We catch up on our reading, engaging our minds with fantasies, and dramas, and love stories, and tales of historical events. We visit places far and near, anywhere to be away from home, seeing sights we’ve never seen or seeing familiar sights in new ways. Summer gives us time to think, and to wonder.

Take time this summer to let your mind wander, and see what exciting places it can take you. You could find yourself at a Red Lobster in El Paso, Texas!

 

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family, leisure, travel

Put a Pin In It

Guilty pleasure confession – I Love this website: https://www.uncommongoods.com. They didn’t pay me to say that, on the contrary I’ve spent plenty of money with them!

Joyce and I have a vacation coming up to Mexico, in Ixtapa. That is a new spot for both of us. That means we get to “put a pin in it.” What does that mean? Well, I bought us this pin map from my guilty website for our first anniversary, basically you put a pin in all the places you have been together:

https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/personalized-anniversary-pushpin-world-map

So far, we have logged 32 pins, in cities covering four continents, and sixteen US states. That is just where we’ve been together – we did some math and found Joyce had visited 24 states and I have visited 33, but Joyce has more continents, needing only Antarctica to complete the globe.

So it seems that this post is at least in part a brag about our travels. Hopefully and more importantly, it is about this message: Don’t lose the memories of where you have been and what you’ve done with those you care about – wife, kids, parents, friends, whatever. You don’t have to buy our map. We sat down a year or so ago and journaled everything we could find as far as trips, events, etc. that we had done, and logged all the mementos we kept like movie ticket stubs, “blinky bracelets,” or event programs. Whatever we could find in our photos or social media posts or in our keepsake bin.

Then take time to reflect on those events. Maybe it’s the annual family trip to the beach, and you look back through the years to see how the kids have grown. Or note the way different trips have different themes and tones, like the trip to London where you accumulated dozens of metro cards. Or maybe you are like us and take “selfies” of our first cocktail every time we take a trip. Laughing and crying and smiling at your life gives you a pause; and just might inspire your next trip.

For us, we just look at our push-pin map and find an open spot!

 

fun, leadership, leisure

Summer Reading List

In case it sparks any ideas or interest, here is what is on my summer reading list. I broke it up by more “casual” (for fun, for me, but everyone’s definition of “fun” is different) and more “learning” books. As the summer goes on, look for reports on these books as I finish them.

I’ve already read:

  • “The Reagan Diaries,” edited by Douglas Brinkley. See my separate post about this book.
  • “A Loving Approach to Dementia Care,” by Laura Wayman. This is a book for learning purposes, given my mom’s dementia. We saw Laura speak at the place my mom lives, and she was inspiring – giving caregivers ways to manage their own stress and better interact with their loved ones with dementia.

Next up for fun:

  • “The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas,” edited by A.D. Hopkins and K.J. Evans. Self-explanatory title, and given that I am born and raised in Las Vegas I want to see how many of these I knew about and catching some nuggets that I didn’t know.
  • Models for Writers. I picked this up last year at Main Street Books, a used book store in Cedar City, Utah. I figured it might yield some improvements to my writing, but I tried to start it last year and didn’t get far, as it’s rather technical. Will try again this summer.
  • “The Informant,” by Kurt Eichenwald. The story of the FBI’s investigation of the Archer Daniels Midland company in the 90s.
  • “Setting the Table,” by Danny Meyer. The founder of Shake Shack and some of the finest restaurants in America, on the art of hospitality.
  • “Caddyshack, the Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story,” by Chris Nashawaty. One of my favorite movies of all time, let’s see what went on behind the scenes.

Next up for learning:

  • “Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love,” by David Sturt. I have always thought that work should be much more meaningful than the paycheck earned; you should love what you do and how you do it and who you work with. Looking for further inspiration in this book, which I’ve read once before.
  • “Measure What Matters,” by John Doerr. Not sure exactly what it’s about, but it was on Bill Gates’ reading list so that’s good enough for me.
  • “Half Time,” by Bob Buford. A discussion of mid-life career transitions and to make sure the remaining work years are fulfilling and meaningful. Goes with my first selection above, “Great Work.”
  • “The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Feed Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy,” by Jon Gordon. As you know from my blog post series on negative self-talk, this is an area that fascinates me, and I’m always looking for ways to infuse everything within me and around me with positive energy.

And one more from the past that is a great summer read for you: “Shoe Dog,” by Phil Knight. Just a great view into the mind and life of an entrepreneur.

 

leadership, leisure, personal

Fresh air and sunshine

Fresh air – being outdoors – is something many people might take for granted. Others, like those that live in big cities, may have forgotten how life-giving fresh air can be. I suppose I’m in the middle somewhere; but I definitely spend enough time inside to often find myself yearning for the outdoors.

 I think back to when I was a child, and before the large-scale adoption of video games. We spent every possible minute outside, from the moment we got out of school until the evening, and all day in the summers. Everything we did for recreation was physical, and most of it was outdoors. Being older the heat gets to me now but back then we went straight through the Vegas summers, morning to night.

Contrast to the current day. Last year during my annual physical, the doctor told me I was Vitamin D-deficient. He was essentially saying I wasn’t spending enough time in the sun. Ah, lost youth!!

SIDEBAR – I told this to a friend recently, and then reaffirmed what I told them was actually true: that vitamin D is sourced from exposure to the sun. My friend asked, reasonably I think, “How does the sun give you vitamins?” Turns out, it’s an interesting story, including that it’s reasonable to conclude that Vitamin D isn’t a vitamin at all. You can see the details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_D

OK, if you skipped the sidebar, or not, the point is we all need Vitamin D, and we all need sunshine. So my physical results were a wake-up call for me that I really was working too much, and not getting enough outdoor time. Since then, I’ve been intentional about trying to get outside – my wife and I like to hike, so we mixed hikes into our workouts every so often instead of working out inside at the gym. I still don’t have enough time to golf, but I have made an effort to get to the driving range a bit more often. Sometimes it’s as simple as a walk in the afternoon on the weekend when we would otherwise be watching TV (inside of course).

Since then, I’ve been able to lower the dosage of Vitamin D supplements. And I just feel more positive and relaxed, because fresh air just feels good. Hopefully you too can break away from your indoor office, indoor apartment, and indoor everything else for a few minutes more than you do now, and get some healthy Vitamin D in your system. Consider walking meetings…something I’ve barely scratched the surface of: https://hbr.org/2015/08/how-to-do-walking-meetings-right

 

 

leisure, personal

Relaxing in your own way

I’ve noticed in my life people relax differently. Those of us who are more high-energy (often seen as high strung, or frantic) relax differently than those who are more even-keel or mellow.

 Relaxing for me could include reading a leadership book, for example, which many folks I know would call “work” and hardly relaxing. Or writing blog posts, for example; the benefits of writing as “therapy” are pretty well documented. And yes it is a “chore” to write, but I enjoy the process. It is something to look forward to, I ideate on topic ideas through the week, etc. And being pretty OCD I get a double bonus of being able to tick off a to-do from my list after I’m done.

None of that sounds relaxing to Joyce. She does a great job making me balance these and other activities I find relaxing, with more “traditional” ways to relax, like quiet time together, making a meal together, getting a massage, etc. I find that to be a great counter-point to my “high energy” way of relaxing.

One thing I would say regardless of how you relax, you should be doing things you enjoy. That goes for work, hobbies, home, etc. Track your time, see where it’s going. Shift time where you can from the “chores” in your life to those things that give you enjoyment and allow you to relax, even if for just a few minutes.

 

leisure, sports

The impact of sports on our social lives

It’s an intense time of year in sports. NBA and NHL are coming down to the wire with teams fighting for playoff spots (or sometimes tanking for draft picks, but that is another post). Fans have flocked to Arizona and Florida for the annual ritual of spring training for baseball. Golf is getting pretty interesting as we move closer to the Masters. And of course college basketball is in the tournament now.

I had a few “a-ha” moments around the power of sports to build our social life over the past few weeks. Many of them involve college basketball, and again it’s a separate issue whether all the activity around college sports should accrue to the benefit of the athletes themselves. I wrote on that last week.

For the past few years, I’ve been super busy around the college basketball conference tournaments here in Las Vegas – we have four of them, more than any other market. Combined with the thousands of folks who flock to Las Vegas for the first weekend of march madness, Las Vegas really is the home of college basketball. But for the past couple of years I hadn’t gotten to enjoy them as much as usual. In 2015, we were preparing for the opening of T-Mobile Arena a year from then, and in 2016 we were right in the midst of that. In 2017, it was the first year of the Pac-12 tournament at T-Mobile Arena, so I was pretty focused with my team trying to make sure it went well.

This year I was able to enjoy a few more games, and made sure to enjoy them with some friends and colleagues. I was able to spend some quality time with those folks – commiserating over losses, celebrating wins, and generally watching the events with a fondness of being together. It’s time we wouldn’t normally spend, including some flying in from elsewhere and getting reconnected with the group.

This year for Las Vegas also has pro sports for the first time. A group of us bought tickets in the same section for the Golden Knights games, and we have made an “event” out of going to dinner before the game and then the game itself. Building relationships through conversations on the uber ride, or during breaks in the game, etc.

During the Pac-12, we had what one of my friends described as “one of the best days ever” when we got to watch the afternoon games, then head to a nearby bar to watch the Golden Knights win a road game, then head back for the evening games. We were smart enough to bring our wives the next night, but not smart enough to avoid referring to the day before as “one of the best days of our lives.” Win some, lose some.

Recently, I visited a colleague who came from LA with about 15 people for the first week of the NCAA tournament. They also got to integrate the trip with pro sports for the first time, visiting a Golden Knights game (but keeping a careful eye on the TVs around, to check on their brackets). The group started with my colleague’s dad and his sons. And it just keeps growing, and still going 15 years later.

That kind of ritual I wrote about a year or so ago, it keeps us connected to the rhythm of time, and more importantly to our family and friends, who we often just don’t take enough time to appreciate and share meaningful time and events with. And it is a big part of the power of sports in our lives.

leisure, travel

A quick trip report – annual Shakespeare Festival trip

Third annual trip to Cedar City to see the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Here are the highlights of another amazing trip.

  • Recall we go with the Selwoods, great friends, my former boss. This was their year to drive. One year, I want to hire a driver for the whole weekend.
  • This year, I got to exchange books at Main Street Bookstore. Picked up an eclectic mix of new books, including a cool “bracket” book where they take any topic and do “bracketology” with it (like best chick flicks, or animal food mascots), while Joyce stayed true to her romance books by getting Beauty and the Beast.
  • We made the annual visit to IronGate Winery, but this year they are in their new location, which is beautiful. A first class wine room.
  • This year we had dinner at Milt’s, which is sort of a legendary local steakhouse, on the way to Brianhead. We took advantage of free corkage as well, and all had a great time except Joyce who still likes exactly one restaurant in Cedar City – Centro Pizza. Oh, and the Chick-fil-a in St. George, where we stopped on the way up. We had The Fugitive and Kim Crawford for wines.
  • The next night we of course went to Centro, once again with free corkage and an amazing meal of salad and two pizzas, plus gelato. The Paring and Four Graces were the wines.
  • The two plays we saw were Romeo and Juliet and Guys and Dolls. Both were quite good. We barely got the end of Romeo and Juliet in with an impending thunderstorm, and then ran back to the hotel in a downpour. Fun!
  • Our hike was back to the Alpine Pond trail (same as two years ago), and it was lovely. Of course we grabbed coffee at The Grind before the drive up. Bob and Ginny make the absolute best rollup sandwiches for snacks, and this year we drank a lovely Josh rose wine. At the visitor center, Bob bought a lifetime all-National Park pass for $10 (cool senior rate), and we looked at the sun through two super powerful telescopes, something I’d never done before (they are getting prepped for the eclipse).
  • The BrianHead beer and spirits event wasn’t as good as last year in terms of variety of vendors, but the band was good (Closure, based out of St. George)and, hey, it’s fresh mountain air!

That’s a pretty quick summary. My favorite part of this trip is having an “anchor” deep in the summer that we can look forward to, knowing we will be with great company and relax as much as possible. We are already planning for next year – might stay at a different Best Western than the one from this year and last, will we ever find a restaurant Joyce likes other than Centro, should we go up earlier, and maybe try a matinee one day? These are all things to look forward to for next year!