Questioning Paralysis

Pathway

I have a lot of questions. Most of them, I keep in my own head and mull over (unlike one of my sons, who blurts his out continuously. I’ve recently concluded that we have very similar minds, but his volume is turned up!)

Questions can lead to paralysis. As in, “until I figure this out completely, I don’t know how to move forward.” Spent a lot of time in that spot in the past. It’s not healthy.

It is possible to have unresolved questions and still move forward. In fact, many of our questions never resolve themselves until we move forward, and learn the answers through experience, not solely via mental gymnastics.

I remember when I started my own business 6+ years ago, I figured I had about 80% clarity on what I was going to do, and the rest would have to come by the marketplace telling me what I should be doing. And, it did (and continues to).

Faith and courage mean taking the next step when the map isn’t entirely clear. <— Click to Tweet

Perhaps the best and most productive resolution for the New Year is to take action, and let the answers come into focus gradually.

Something I’m still learning.

Thank YoUtilities

A couple of days ago, I was on a 3-hour drive from North Jersey to Gettysburg. Anyone in the Jersey area knows all about traffic, but on this trip, westbound on I-78, I watched a remarkable sight.

A parade – no, a fleet – of utility trucks, all heading out of NJ after (I assume) many long days of hard labor helping out after Hurricane Sandy.

As I passed truck after truck, I saw this badge on each one. North Houston Pole Line.

Surely, I thought, there must be a “Houston” in a nearby state to which all these folks were returning, in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Surely these folks didn’t come all the way up from…

Then I spotted the license plates. Texas.

Countless dozens of these fine skilled workers had driven halfway across the country to help us out, and were now returning, caravan style, before their prolonged absence triggered a population redistricting in their home state!

Saturday morning, I enjoyed a pancake breakfast at IHOP with my son Ben, and (as has been the case for a couple of weeks now), the restaurant was loaded with utility workers, fueling up for another day’s labor in someone else’s neighborhood (these guys were clearly from the South).

One of the men had lost both arms at some point in his history. He had two mechanical arms ending in hooks. And he was still working.

Seeing these dedicated strangers/citizens/neighbors/workers helping us out after a crisis warmed my heart like nothing else in recent memory. It made me thankful to live in a country where people pull together, even at great personal sacrifice.

Thanks, utility folks. You may labor mostly unrecognized, but we see you. And we appreciate all you’re doing for us.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Post-Traumatic-Sandy-Disorder

For many of us, this past week has been traumatic. Our world has been rocked, by an unusually destructive storm and its unusually disruptive aftermath.

The beautiful canopy of trees that has always filled our backyard now has ugly gaps slashed in it by the loss of a handful of once-proudly-standing trees. Far worse, a neighbor’s house was punctured by a huge tree that will cause months of disruption to their busy lives. And many people, especially nearer the shore, lost everything.

The mess will take months to clean up; and the stress, in some cases, may take much longer. Sandy has disordered a lot of lives.

Here in America, we live in a privileged bubble where major pieces of infrastructure are simply assumed – water flows, lights work, temperatures are regulated, fuel is around the corner. 24/7, or nearly so.

We all know that we live in relative first-world luxury, yet we all still become dependent on the “normal” that surrounds us. Take away that normal for a season, and we experience trauma. Major disruption, of any sort, does that.

So many of you “came alongside” me (and others) via our virtual networks during the darker days, and I want to tell you how helpful that is. Words of encouragement, and sympathy, mean a lot when everything familiar is disrupted. In the midst of the storm’s destructive effects, we got to witness real neighborliness happening in our streets and towns here in New Jersey – people coming alongside and helping each other with shelter and water and chainsaws and (even) re-charging stations for starving mobile devices (a neighbor down the street, who had a generator, would turn on the outside light as the signal that power strips were hooked up and ready in their porch for those who needed to re-charge)!

But in our social networks, there was also a lot of support. Dozens and dozens of messages were exchanged via Twitter and Facebook. And, it meant a lot to know that people were concerned.

So, how can you help? Sure, there’s giving to the Red Cross and all that. But, on a more personal level, just reach out and care. Little expressions of concern and love go a long way in the recovery from trauma. We’ll get through it, even while fuel is scarce for another week or so. And words of kindness will fuel our spirits as we steer our way slowly back into normalcy post-Sandy.

Thanks for your friendship.

Intensity

(This post will be a bit more on the personal level. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate to some of it)

Recently, I went to Nashville for 5 days – not only to attend BlissDom, but also to take a little bit of time to visit my old Tennessee stomping grounds (I spent 7 years in Nashville, including my college days).

While there in the pleasant and hospitable South, something unexpected came over me. I relaxed.

For all the joking around I do, I am, in fact, a rather serious-minded person. Even intense at times. When I put my hand to something, I have a hard time letting it go. One of the definitions of the word “worry” is summed up in the image of a dog ceaselessly gnawing on a bone; seizing it, shaking it, tugging it.

I do that with life.

Stubborn determination and intense drive can be a good thing, of course. But like everything else, when overdone – well, every positive has its own built-in negative.

When in the South, I became a bit more easygoing, but after moving to New Jersey 28 years ago, where the vibe is much more rush-rush and focused, the intensity took over. Building a career, bringing up children, launching a solo business, creating a network – I saw it as my role to build and create and lead and make things happen.

Yet, all the while, I was and still remain an introvert. I prefer the realm of ideas. My best work is in thinking and analysis. While in Nashville, I had some time to reflect, instead of just DO. I felt like I was being me again.

A lot of social networking is heavily weighted on the activity scale. Much of the drive is to get MORE – more posts, more readers, more connections, more Google juice, a bigger name, a larger platform, etc. Not that any of those things are wrong in themselves – they are not – but when taken on with an intensity that doesn’t know how to rest, it starts to bump up against the law of diminishing returns.

Which is where I am now. Trying to learn how to work at a pace that leads to optimal productivity, not mere intensity. Seeking to be honest with my nature instead of running someone else’s race. And I really don’t know how that will work itself out day-to-day.

It’s good, I guess, to have a bias toward both thought and action. But how do we give full vent to drive without living in overdrive?

I guess it’s time to find out. Any advice?

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Hire Steve Woodruff as your Brand Therapist

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Taylor Swift and Bracelets. Two Good Causes.

I interrupt the normal flow of my ramblings about marketing to introduce you to two good causes. Both have to do with my son David (the Marine).

Cause Number 1

Yep, he’s crazy like his Dad! Dave is heading back to the States this fall after months of deployment in Spain, and he wants to attend the Marine Ball in November (Virginia Beach) with – well, Taylor Swift! So I said I’d help.

Here’s his invite via Twitter. I figure if he gets about 459 bajillion retweets then Taylor won’t be able to resist saying yes (November 4 does appear to be an open tour date, after all…). And who wouldn’t spend an evening with a handsome and talented Marine??

So, let’s have a little fun and help him out! If you’d like, just cut-and-paste the message below (the bit.ly link is to the tweet shown above):

A U.S. Marine asks:  May we dance, @TaylorSwift13?? bit.ly/MayWeDance @DaveWoodruff1

Cause Number 2

While in Spain, Dave and some of his pals have had the good fortune of working with a visionary Navy guy named Nick Mendoza III, who started a very special company/cause called Bands for Arms (B4A). In short, B4A was created to show support for those in the armed services, and provide tokens of remembrance, by creating custom bracelets made out of actual uniforms (all donated). Since creating the the first one in 2009 in remembrance of a comrade who died, B4A has taken off like a rocket, with much of its growth and grassroots organization being accomplished long-distance via Facebook.

David and some of his pals have not only kept busy creating bracelets, but in some cases are actually modeling as well for the photo shoots (which makes the old man feel a very strange mixture of immense pride and intense jealousy – I mean, what country music star wouldn’t want THAT hunk on her arm at a dance…..ooops, sorry, mixing up our causes here).

My wife and I had the chance to meet Nick in NYC during his recent tour promoting B4A and we’re quite impressed with this young man, his energy and vision. B4A supports many charitable organizations (see below), so if you wish to purchase one of the many hand-made designs it’s all for a good cause. There’s even one design called the Woodruff – yes, it’s my favorite! :>}

You can follow the B4A folks on Twitter at @BandsForArms.

Thanks for any role you can play in today’s “cause marketing” post!

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>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

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Join the Club

I don’t have my act together. How about you?

Your kids aren’t turning out the way you expected, and you (as a parent) feel woefully inadequate. Things probably aren’t quite as gloomy as you think they are, but nonetheless…

Join the club.

Work-life balance? You’ve chased that elusive goal for years, and like the end of a rainbow, it remains a tantalizing illusion just out of reach. You wonder if your priorities are ever straight, and you never can quite adjust them to where it all feels right.

Yeah – join the club.

At your age, you’re supposed to be a big success with a secure future and a pot of gold in your retirement accounts. Instead, you’re wondering what you’re going to do when you grow up, and hoping nobody knows just how hand-to-mouth your financial life is.

Uh-huh – join the club.

You’ve got a shiny avatar and a slick website, and people praise you for your stage presence as you dispense your pearls of wisdom to the crowd. But you still feel like a failure, and deep inside, you wonder why you’re so lonely and depressed.

Lots of people in that club.

I’d REALLY like to get my act completely together. But the more I get into real life discussions with people, the more I realize that’s a pot of non-existent gold at the end of an invisible rainbow. It’s not happening.

It’s tempting to try to project the “act-together” aura anyway. But I seem to be a permanent member of the reality club. There’s actually a lot of good company there.

If you’re looking, that’s where you’ll find me.

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Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Clearing Clouds: Recovering from Depression (free e-book)

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

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Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

The 30-Year Connection

Who is that young kid with the babe in white?

Yep – that’s my bride and me thirty years ago today. My 30-Year Gift (on my personal blog)

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Connect with Steve Woodruff

Get Some Help

I’m a happy man. I wake up with peace in my heart, and hope for the future. Most days, anyway!

It was not always so.

For many years – decades – I lived under a dark cloud. Depression was a constant companion, so woven into my experience that I did not even know how bad off I was. I was so used to coping and managing around it, that most others had no clue either.

Seven or so years ago, I hit the wall. I was drowning in darkness. And, after getting some help, those clouds lifted, through the miracle of modern medicine.

My doctor let me know that if I couldn’t think my way out of, say, kidney disease, what business did I have believing I could think my way out of an organic brain chemistry disorder?

If you think you may be suffering from this affliction, know this – you’re not alone. Please take a few moments and read this, penned by Amber Naslund this week (don’t miss the comments!). And this personal plea, by Ellen Nordahl. Read this book review (Moving Beyond Blue) I posted a few days back, which tells Terese Borchard‘s story.

Then, get some help. Talk to a doctor and/or a therapist. Gain the support of trusted friends and family members. There is no stigma in being treated for a medical problem, no shame in taking a pill to help fix a biochemical imbalance, no “Go Directly to Jail!” card for opening up about your inner demons. But there’s a REAL problem with robbing yourself and others of your gifts, your energy, and your time, all of which are stolen away by the thief that is depression.

When the Apollo 13 astronauts radioed “Houston, we have a problem!” they took the needed step to recover from potential disaster. They didn’t append the phrase – “but I’m sure we can handle it ourselves!”

You’re not alone. And there’s a whole bunch of folks ready and willing to help you get back to earth safely. Get on the radio. Please.

[Update: Thanks, @cloudspark, for pointing out the example of former star quarterback Terry Bradshaw)

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To a New U.S. Marine…

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Virginia Beach, halfway to Parris Island for my son David’s graduation from Marine boot camp this week.

I have been deeply grateful for all the expressions of support from many of you over these months, as I’ve pulled back the veil a bit on this important chapter in our family life. My regret has been that these expressions are scattered all over the place (Facebook, blog, Twitter, e-mail, elsewhere) and there’s no way to convey adequately to David how many people are grateful for him, and his fellow recruits, for the commitment they’ve made.

Then I thought – maybe we can. I’ve never asked for anything like this before, but here goes…

If it’s on your heart to convey your own message, in your own words, to David, would you please simply add a comment to this blog post? That way I can SHOW him, in one place, how many people love our men and women in uniform and value their service. I think it would be a great encouragement to him (and his fellow Marines who see it) to know that people all over who’ve never met him/them are thinking about them, praying for them, and grateful for their dedication.

I’ll add some pix of the graduation ceremony to this post later so you can see what a “newly-minted” Woodruff Marine looks like!

Thank you so much,

Steve Woodruff

[Update] It is Friday morning, just before the formal graduation ceremony (quite a show, we’re told!) – we had 5 hours yesterday with David for Family Day, and it was wonderful – a montage of pictures is below. I/we cannot tell you how wonderful also has been your response in the comments on this post. What an encouragement this is, not only to David, but hopefully to any young person making the choice and commitment to serve our nation.

[FINAL UPDATE] A picture of father and son after the formal graduation ceremony, which was quite a display of precision and pride.

And, in conclusion, two quick videos. First, a less-than-3-minute clip of the final moments of the graduation ceremony for 242 brand-new Marines. Yes, the distance makes it a bit less ideal for audio/video details, but I think you’ll agree that the last 30 seconds are worth the wait, when the new Marines are released to their families!

And, second, ever wonder if a young dog will remember a family member who has been gone for 3 months? Mystic certainly recognized David!

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An AmeriCAN Adventure

Starting Tuesday, my family and I head down to Parris Island (South Carolina) to see my 19-year old son David graduate from Marine boot camp. We’re immensely proud of him and can’t wait to see him again, and meet all his new buddies. I’m sure I’ll be uploading photos along the way via Twitpic.

Mystic the Marketing Lab will be taken care of by someone staying over here with a huge St. Bernard. Should be lively for them!

Also, today is the unveiling of an important blog post – one on which I expended more thinking and writing time than anything I’ve ever written before. I put in on my personal blog (Steve’s Leaves), and it’s called, Are you an AmeriCAN?. It’s likely to be controversial and thought-provoking; designedly so. Your comments and discussion are welcome, and hopefully I can stay involved despite the travel.

I deeply appreciate the editorial comments on the early version of this post from my ad-hoc “advisory board” yesterday, drawn from Twitter connections of many political perspectives – you know who you are, and I really appreciate your frank and helpful input, which shaped the post significantly.

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Small Talk

Many people who don’t actually “get” Twitter find it easy to dismiss it as a bunch of not-very-social people exchanging useless trivia with fellow avatars.

We know better, of course. But the fact is, that we DO often share a lot of stuff that is, in itself, seemingly trivial. And here’s why I LIKE that:

We’re simply doing what friends, neighbors, and co-workers have done forever. It’s small talk. And it helps build relationships.

SmallTalkYou see, I’m involved in these networks, not just to mine professional information (in which case the discussion I just had this morning about eggs for breakfast would be noise rather than signal), but to build relationships. To pre-meet people. To do what normal people do every day and everywhere – talk about their day, share a picture, rate the wine they just tried, share an amusing story about their dog or kids…whatever. This small talk is the glue that binds us together in humanizing relationships.

It’s great to share links and other resources, and I do it all the time. Twitter is wonderful for that. But I’m building a network of colleagues and friends. And that doesn’t happen without small talk.

Anyone connected to me knows that I upload photos, make bad puns, share personal anecdotes, and seek to be pretty transparent on-line. The reason is simple – I’m not an information machine. I’m a person. And so are you. I like the glimpses into your life, because when I finally meet you, I feel like I already (partly) know you.

For those of us who are solo entrepreneurs, Twitter IS our water cooler. My network of people is my surrogate pool of office-mates. Most people have no clue how valuable it is for me not to be “alone” on a daily basis as I build a business, learn, grow, and explore the world. Yes, I have my “real-life” family and friends right here in NJ, but (because I really hate that distinction) I have my “real-life” network all over the world, and it’s been an absolute pleasure pre-meeting and then meeting many of you.

So, next time someone disses Twitter, simply let them know that they tweet all the time. Just in a smaller pool than you do.

I do wish I was having eggs this morning…

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???? in the Morning – Year-end

sands-treeThe mostly-regular Five in the Morning posts which have populated this spot over the past few months and THRILLED readers with life-changing value and profound insights (while providing me with fame, fortune, and pre-carpal tunnel syndrome), will be somewhat irregular over the next couple of weeks whilst Christmas cheer and New Year’s observances are indulged.

In other words, you might see a few Fives, or you might not. It was nice sleeping in this morning…

From StickyFigure and his far better half with the far better figure, warm holiday wishes to you and yours!

A Jeep on the Altar

One minor scratch.

cherokee-tbone-sm.jpgThat was the toll, on a rainy and rather traumatic night this past week. Yes, the Jeep was totaled after being thoroughly T-boned by an 18-wheeler, but the driver – my son – walked away with only one scratch.

And that is why we bought the Cherokee in the first place. So, consider this an advertisement for selecting first cars that offer some significant protection in an accident, when your kids are of driving age.

And, consider it one more advertisement for the Amica Insurance company, whose customer service I have praised on this blog before. Before we could even get down to the stricken car the next day to remove personal effects, the adjuster had already been there, and within two days of the accident, we had a full report, followed the next day by a phone call to clarify a few items as the settlement was being calculated. As I’ve told various friends, when it comes to price comparisons, this is one of the only areas of life where I don’t even bother. Decades of stellar customer service have convinced me that I can’t possibly find a better insurance company.

All that aside, we are incredibly grateful to God for preserving our son in what could have been a horrible event. As much as I hated seeing that totaled vehicle getting hauled off, I felt nothing but gratitude that it (like a sheep on the altar) took the blow, while my son walked away. I never before considered how the theme of vicarious sacrifice might apply to cars…

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 9_14

It’s been quite an intense week, what with traveling for consulting, soccer coaching/logistics, and a car engine that met the automotive equivalent of the Grim Reaper late one night. So, not much posting!

Nonetheless, a few random links of interest as we slide into the weekend:

The amazing shapes people see in clouds (with pix).

The Dilbert Mission Statement generator (example: It is our job to continually engineer emerging resources and assertively leverage other’s resource-leveling information while promoting personal employee growth)

Niagara Falls from above (awesome picture).

Hubble telescope’s Top 100 images.

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 8_31

You think your commute is wild? I used to think driving over an hour each way (thankfully, that’s in the past) was an adventure…until I saw this. A rusty cable, a hook, a stick…and an amazing ride 1,200 feet up.

Is your Help Desk a bit short of friendly? Check out this approach.

Here’s a golf shot by Fuzzy Zoeller that will blow your mind.

aerogel_hand-sm.jpgFinally…wouldn’t you like to get your hand(s) on some aerogel? This stuff – also called “frozen smoke” - sounds simply amazing.

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 8_24

duct-tape.jpgSteve’s Sticky Stuff is a weekly collection of random interesting stuff I’ve found during my voyages hither and yon. Enjoy!

Is Steve Woodruff actually a Swedish policeman toting an AK-47 to work?

I wish I’d know about this sooner. Kids are now being diagnosed with Youthful Tendency Disorder.

Google Earth now expands to Google Sky. Very, very cool. UPDATE: They hid an “easter egg” flight simulator in there! Here is how to access it.

Truveo. May be the best interface/search engine yet for finding videos on the net (hat tip: Wall Street Journal). Here’s a very funny prank video that you may enjoy.

BrandDad and BrandMom

All brands ultimately want to create an enduring relationship with you. They seek to create a lot of positive experiences so that you’ll always be attached, and return to the brand. The ultimate brand attachment can easily be called a form of love.

Which leads me to think about BrandDad and BrandMom.

What is the most enduring branding exercise of all, if it is not parenting? By loving our little ones unconditionally, providing for their needs, and hopefully creating an image of yourself in the mind and heart of your child that is positive and warm and even (at least when they’re young!) heroic, we seek to make BrandMom and BrandDad a potent force in our children’s life; enough, hopefully, to counteract the bad stuff. And there’s plenty of bad stuff out there.

I’m a parent (of 5 boys) and it’s a joy, a privilege, and a constant source of angst. At times, I look at my tribe and feel enormous pride as they emerge into young manhood, then I look into the mirror of my own inadequacies and failures and tremble that I just might blow this whole Dad thing big time. What will they think of me when they’re off on their own? Will BrandDad be just an overly-critical Cop, or will he be a for-real guy that sought to come alongside and love despite his many shortcomings? What will stand out in their memories – will they want to return, or flee?

I doubt that I’m alone in feeling this way.

parents2.jpgSo, how did BrandDad and BrandMom leave their mark with you? What are one or two positive parental brand memories that are seared into your heart, and how did they get there? What good things are you doing (if you’re a parent) to drip BrandYou into the veins of your kids?

It’s not an idle question – I really want to have a conversation about this! And with all the poisons seeking to enter into the minds and hearts of our kids, it’s more important than ever that we seek to bring good influences to our most important customers…

(Image credit)

Sun, Surf…and Storm

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Long Beach Island, NJ, July 19th, 2007

Tagged for 8 Things

David Reich just tagged me on a blogging meme going around, whereby I’m to share 8 random things about myself, and then tag others to do the same.

8-ball.jpgI will confess that I always have mixed feelings about these things – they remind me of chain letters. However, since so many of us bloggers have little or no opportunity to get to know one another face-to-face, there is a certain value to these exercises…and besides, I’m as curious as the next guy about the person behind the blogs I read!

So, here goes…

1. I have 5 boys. I was the third-born of 4 boys. My Dad was the third-born of 3 boys. His Dad (my grandfather) came from all boys. My third-born reckons that, upon proposing to some lucky young lady in a decade or so, he will have to deliver a caution with the ring…be prepared for a house full of six boys! It’s hard to fight it when math and destiny collide!

2. I once crunched my way through a set of tennis on a court blanketed with 17-year locusts, during the early days of the career of someone who is now an international recording star.

3. I have a large box loaded with hundreds of old matches/matchbooks (many probably quite unique), with no clue of their value, or what to do with them.

4. I am now sitting at a wonderful, large oak desk (suitable for use as a bomb shelter), which we spotted in the early years of our marriage at a flea market in Nashville, and which has laboriously followed us with every move since. It was $175.00, as I recall, a sum we barely had in those young-and-foolish days. This thing will likely last for generations.

5. We found out about the difference between the North and the South after having a fried chicken dinner at a famous Nashville institution right after our arrival. Attempting to pay the check with travellers checks, which was all we had at the moment, we were told that they only took cash. We were brand new in town and didn’t even have a bank account yet! “That’s all right, honey, you just take the check with you, and mail the money to us when you’re all settled.” We did, of course. (I just Googled to see if Loveless Cafe is still in business – yes, indeed! No surprise there…)

6. One year in college, I ran our dorm janitor for student body president. Rufus didn’t win, but I think he got 36 write-in votes.

7. One of my sons wants to be a film director, and appears to have the talent to get somewhere in that field (he just graduated from a special high school program for multimedia/performing arts). I vividly remember the moment, in the course of viewing one of his early “backyard” films, when it was suddenly obvious that he had the “eye” for good camera work. Now we have to figure out how to help him use his gifts professionally.

8. I analyze everything. Compulsively. Combustion may be spontaneous, but I rarely am!

OK, enough about me. I’ll tag a few others to take the dare:

Becky Carroll over at Customers Rock!

Eli Portnoy from The Brand Man Speaks

C. B. Whittemore from Flooring the Customer

Toby Bloomberg at Diva Marketing

(Image credit)

Where’s StickyFigure?

spbt.jpgI (probably) won’t be posting for much of this week, spending time doing face-to-face networking at the annual SPBT meeting in Hollywood, Florida. At a hotel right on the beach. With my bride gathering some rays while I do the conference thing.

Somebody’s got to do it!

There’s Earthly Beauty, and Then There’s…

this.

full image here.

From the ever-delightful Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Behind the Curtain

Drew McLellan recently posted a photo that captures something less “formal” about himself, based on the meme started by David Airey, encouraging bloggers to let others see more of the “face behind the blog.”

As one who grew up in New England, my default setting is to generally have a curtain between my professional and personal lives. But I feel a little Toto pulling at the curtain, so what the hey – it is, after all, the Share Economy

Right now, outside of work, a whole bunch of my time and effort goes into being a husband and father, as well as maintaining/improving our home. The other 16.5 minutes of “me” time per week goes to…well, let’s hope I can resurrect those hobbies some day in the future!

Here are my two “middle” sons (#3 & 4 out of 5) on a recent father/son retreat:

ryan_ben_dad.jpg

Most mornings, my Fiver hops up into my lap at precisely 7 am for a “Big Kitty” story with Dad, who has generally been up already for 1-2 hours but looks pretty bedraggled still:

seth_dad.jpg

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The boys get their looks from the Lovely and Talented Queen, whose mother will be glad to tell you where she got HER looks from!

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We’ve spent the last 7 years slowly and steadily improving our little Eden in North Jersey. We’re amateurs, but we enjoy creating an English garden feel, and I have particularly enjoyed building stone walls.back-of-house.jpg

back-yard.jpg

Someday, I hope to find more time to take scenic pictures. Two of these shots were from a glorious morning heading to the hospital the day after our fifth son was born; the other from a recent visit to a lake that had a bit too much rain to process!ml_reflect1b.jpg

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My dream is to eventually live with my bride on a lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, in a house big enough to accommodate a steady stream of visitors (and, Lord willing, a large number of grandchildren – eventually!)

So, that’s a peek behind the StickyFigure curtain here in Boonton, NJ. What about you?

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