Archive | September, 2013
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A Stunning September Day

24 Sep

A Stunning September Day

I’m quite lucky that I have this amazing view from my office window in Chicago. To locate this for you, my office building sits right at the Michigan Avenue bridge across the Chicago River – this is the view east from my desk. Absolutely stunning September day. With binoculars, I can see the Michigan shoreline from my office window, 50 miles away.

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Dirty Room Problems

23 Sep

My wife and I are very, very blessed with three young men that we’re pleased to call our sons.  They are smart people, who have always made great choices.  In high school when other kids were having drinking parties or smoking weed, our guys were doing things like board game parties or “LAN” video game parties.  Nerdy?  Perhaps a bit, but also just simply they had great friends who shared their values and they would have the kind of fun that they would prefer to have.

In short, they really didn’t give us a lot of worry – they weren’t out late carousing, they weren’t out tearing around in the car, they weren’t drinking or doing drugs, they generally got decent-to-great grades, they have kind and respectful friends and well, we didn’t have much to worry about.  But like everything, “water seeks its own level” – which means in this case that without much to worry about, little worries become amplified.  I firmly believe that the parent/child relationship requires a bit of this dissonance to work – yes, you can be good friends with your kids, your kids can be pretty golden, etc., but at the end of the day, parents and their kids naturally need to go at it a bit.  Which brings us to  the topic of this post:  Dirty Room Problems.

We always have joked that the biggest problems our kids gave us were dirty rooms.  Which, is a nice way to say, we are counting our blessings with them.  Literally our biggest source of conflicts were about socks all over the family room, their bedrooms being kept very cluttered, the basement “man cave” being an absolute mess, and more. Absent of other conflicts, these were the problems we chose to argue about with them. 

But having gone through the teen years now for the most part – all three are in college now – and watching our friends and acquaintances with their kids, and the challenges they frequently have, our phrase “dirty room problems” becomes our triumphant cheer.  When we have our blessings to count, we love those dirty rooms.

The “dirty room problem” concept can be carried to pretty much everything in life.  I firmly count my blessings every day, and can honestly say that I have little to worry about in this life.  Sure, the financial burdens of putting three kids through college are stifling, but we’re fortunate to both have good careers that pay us well.  Sure, my health could be better, but being 50 lbs overweight and having a treatable problem in my heart is infinitely better than what some face.  Is my house perfect?  No, but I sure do like it and we continually work to improve it.  Etc. etc. etc. 

Years ago, when I was facing an especially rough patch in my life – it was 1992 – I had lost a great job in the 1991 recession when the company I was working for began to fail.  I joined another gent from that company to start a business, and it was failing.  My dad had just died of cancer, and my first son was just born.  While I wouldn’t say I was in depression, I would say that I felt pretty bleak.  I took a three-day course called “The Forum”.   It was interesting in that it taught me to choose the life I have versus fighting it.  And especially, recognize exactly the truth about the journey that brought you there.

The clarity of thinking that I learned those three days has really informed me going forward.  And it leads me to recognize things for what they are, to not dwell on the negative but just to deal with it.  And of course, to appreciate the positive and enjoy the life that I have versus wishing for the life I don’t have. 

Dirty room problems.  At the end of the day, the vast majority of my problems are just that.  Dirty rooms.  A bit of picking up, run the vacuum through it, and problem is solved.  And for that, I am immensely thankful.  

As you were,

Stew

Finding my muse again

22 Sep

It seems like I have lost my way again with Stew’s Brew – my blog.  My goals with this are and have always been to be an enjoyable creative outlet, and also, just plain to give me a way to stretch my mind.  I think with my new position at iProspect, I’m much more intellectually challenged than I was at iCrossing, and that’s manifesting itself in less time to write and well, less need to as well.

That said, this is mental exercise, and therefore, I really should do it.  I hate to say it but I’m at that age where if you don’t push, pull and stretch the mind a bit, you’re setting the seeds for issues that will manifest themselves in 20 years as mental decline.  I AM definitely pushing my mind a ton at work.  The new job presents a much broader set of challenges, as the chief/leader of three different offices of iProspect, and having to track the personnel issues, facilities issues, financial responsibilities, corporate communications of those offices, business development, and much more.  All are things I’ve managed before, but all are amplified with the fact that I’ve got three offices, and more than 100 people laddering up to me.

Another thing I found is that I was somewhat a victim of my own success – in the last six months, I had several posts that went more or less viral, collecting thousands of views as people shared them around – my post about the Boston bombing collected 10,000+ views in the space of a week or two – just amazing.  As people shared and reshared that post – the power of “viral” really banged home.  And ironically, the weight of that success sat on me – “how can I follow that up?” kept occuring to me.

The other thing that seemed to weigh my blog down was that I’d found an interesting rhythm in writing stories that were about 1000-1500 words long – which, if you’re measuring pages, are about two typewritten pages of text, single spaced.  The stories were longer, had more room to breathe, etc.  But the alternate reality of that is that a 1200 word post takes a couple of hours to write, edit, think about, etc.  I tend to write on the commuter train and on weekend mornings.  But I’m so busy right now with work that all of my train time tends to be eaten with work tasks – and usually in the evening, I’m too mentally fatigued to write a blog post.

So, onwards – my intent going forward with my blog is to get back to that thing that started me up.  I started this to enjoy writing.  My friend David Deal, blogger and social media expert extraordinaire, whom I credit for getting me started with blogging, helped me originally define my motivation – am I writing for an audience or am I writing for me?  Very simple.  I write for me – for the sheer joy of writing (yes, I know for many this is a chore, for me it is an enjoyable task).  It’s a bit like my guitar playing.  Do I enjoy playing for others? Yes, of course – that’s the best.  But I play and sing for me.  I do it because I love the sweet joy of making music.  And I write because I like the process of it.

So … here we are again.  I’m working to tap the muse.  I’m going to give short-forming a try – I’m going to also try more photojournalism – I’ve invested in a device for my camera that allows it to automatically push photos onto my laptop or mobile device, so I can share through that.  It’s time to shake things up a bit and try some different things.  I hope you enjoy it.  And well … if you don’t but I do, well, that’s good enough for me.  I’m not going to make the artificial pressure to “go viral” weigh this thing down.

Glad to be back.

As you were,

Stew

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