Goodbye 2014

As I sit on the edge of another new year, I have two thoughts running through my head; 1. this year went by so fast, and 2. this was a good year.

I think number one is the easiest to deal with because, lets face it, you can’t stop time. You can’t freeze it. You can’t even slow it down. No matter how much you resist, time marches on, so we all might as well flow with it. When I was a child I would hear people say, “The older you get, the faster time goes.” I didn’t understand until a few years ago. These people would be right. That’s why I believe we should live every moment we have to it’s fullest and cherish every experience. I’ve learned this is the best way to live. Resisting the inevitable is a waste of time. Whether we resist or not time always go forward, never back, so we might as live while we have the chance.

The second thought, well, that’s a little more complicated. When I think about all the things that happened this past year, I’m overwhelmed, excited, thankful. Of course everything wasn’t perfect. It was a year of obstacles and struggle, of joy and excitement, but, to me, there has to be a little of both. That’s what creates a balance. Without the negative you will never learn (and life is an ongoing lesson) and never appreciate the positive. So, yes, overall it was a good year.
I could go on for pages about all the great things that happened this year, but, don’t worry, I won’t do that to you. I’ll just pick out a few moments that stand out in my mind.

MARCH
SwitchfootI went to see a band I like at a venue walking distance from my house (Switchfoot…maybe you’ve heard of them, but if not I suggest you give them a listen). Yes, I walked. And, yes, Mother Nature was nice enough to keep snow on the ground and temperatures below the 50s with a strong wind. I stood outside for hours; coat, hat, gloves, scarf. You might think it was still the middle of winter, instead of the end of March. I tried standing in the sun and it helped, sort of, but once your toes, legs and fingers freeze it doesn’t really matter because you can’t feel them anyway.

Now, some of you might think I’m a little crazy for standing out there in the cold. Well, I didn’t know it was going to be so cold. Besides, and be honest, how many of you have done the same thing for one reason or another?

Luckily I had a V.I.P. pass and was able to escape the cold for a little while. A group of us were let in for sound check and a meet and greet with the band.

I want to take a moment to say that, at a certain point, it’s not about the stuff. It’s not about access to sound check or a signed poster or a picture with the band, at least not to me. Sure those things are cool and I’m not denying I don’t enjoy them, but there’s more to it. It only takes meeting these guys once to see how down-to-earth and genuine they are, and that meeting happened for me when I was sixteen. So now it’s just about the conversation. I love talking to them and feel like I could do so for hours. Of course I sometimes begin questions with “It might be weird, but…” or “Would it be weird if…” (sorry Jon).

So here I am, standing outside freezing at the end of March. Despite the gloves, my hands were still cold, so when I met the guys (again, for the fourth time) I apologized for the cold hands. One of them asked if they could call me “Nic-cold.” I said sure and laughed. (By the way, Drew, if you ever happen to read this I just want to let you know that this nickname caught on, somehow. And, yes, I’m still laughing. I guess we all have out nicknames, huh, Dr.ew?)

Standing in the cold all that time with toes and fingers freezing and legs going numb, well, yes, it was all worth it (and I’d do it again too). Once the concert started and the music flowed through the speakers and into the crowd, I was captivated (as usual) and everything else faded away.

JULY
Over the summer I made my annual trip to Ocean City, NJ. For the last several years it’s become tradition and I look forward to it every summer. I love the beach, the ocean. It’s one of those feelings I can’t quite put into words, but there’s something soothing about listing to the rhythmic breathing of the waves.

AUGUST
Another beach trip? Yes, please. I’ll never turn down a chance to be by the ocean. This little adventure took me to Maine. It took me kayaking for the first time. It took me on photographic explorations. It took me to the beach and back to the ocean. And I enjoyed every second of it.

The hotel room faced the ocean and with the windows open all day and all night, I could hear the water rushing for the shore and then receding. At night it was peaceful, laying in bed with the sound of the ocean echoing in my ears. It was at these times I felt something special, or magical, was happening. Again, I can’t explain it, but if you’ve ever heard the ocean at night then you might know what I mean.

I went down to the beach every morning with my camera. It was deserted, everyone still sleeping. Every now and then someone would come down with there dog, but most mornings I had the beach to myself. I snapped a few pictures of the Sunset IIwaves barreling toward the shore, of the jetty, of the stones scattered in the sand, but then I would go back to walking the beach. I put my feet in the water almost every morning, knowing it would be cold, so cold, but I loved how it felt as it washed over my feet. I loved the ocean breeze and the smell of the salty air. I loved the peace that it brought me.

The ocean does something to me. I swear it has some strange power of me. When I’m away, I want to be near it and when I’m near it I always want to be in it. I want to feel the water running over my feet. I want to feel the wind on my face and smell the saltwater in the air. I hear the ocean calling my name and, when I can break away from work and my other responsibilities, that’s usually where I go.

How many others feel captivated by the ocean?

SEPTEMBER
Yet another concert? The same band as in March? Another road trip? Another adventure? Yes, absolutely, to all the above.Switchfoot

Turns out I drove two and a half hours to see Switchfoot (again, for the sixth time) and it was totally worth it. There were a lot of great things that came out of this; a new concert friend (hi Alex), good conversation with guys (thank you!), a great show (as always) and possibly some of the best pictures I’ve ever taken (although, I’ve photographed so many different shows it’s hard to say for certain), but I’m not going to talk about any of these in detail. Instead I would like to discuss the after show.

I was hoping for one, an after show, and apparently a lot of other people were too. A big group of us went around the corner and stood in front of the bus after the concert. We just stood there, in the cold, patiently waiting. After a few minutes a small group started singing. Before I knew what was happening we were all swept up into song and began singing “Hello Hurricane.” It was incredible. An entire group of strangers were united, if only for a little while, by their common love for music. This amazing moment was followed by another and another and yes, if you’re wondering, Jon did do an after show (thank you!).

DECEMBER
I love this time of year. The snow, the sledding the hot cocoa, the warm fuzzy scarfs, the Christmas cookies, gingerbread, decorating the Christmas tree, all the pretty lights, building snowmen, having a snowball fight and going on winter walks are just some of the things that put me in the winter spirit. Everything is bursting with the joy of the holiday season.

When I was a kid this time of year was all about the presents. The anticipation of ripping off the wrapping and seeing what was inside on Christmas Day would keep me up almost all night. Every little kid wants to know what Santa brought them. Didn’t you?

Things are different now that I’m older. Now I like buying the presents. I like doing things for people and making them happy. The season is still about all the things I mentioned above, but now the list included spending time with friends and family. I find every moment I spend with my family special and Christmas is one of the most special times of the year.

ANOTHER YEAR COME AND GONE
There are so many more things that came out of 2014 then mentioned here. So many more detail, so many more things that I did, so many new adventures, so many more places I went and people I met, but its time to wrap this post up. In closing I would like to say, thank you 2014. You gave me many great moment and made me learn from the bad and painful ones. You filled my life with joy and sadness, but in the end I can say I lived every moment. In the end, I can say, overall, 2014 was a good year.

How will you remember 2014?

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Christmas Comes Once A Year

This is meant to be the season of joy, of peace on earth and good will to men, but with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season it sometimes speeds by without us enjoying a single moment.

As of today there is only six days until Christmas. So take the time between work and shopping and everything else life throws at you and enjoy those special things this time of year has to offer. After all, Christmas come once a year.

Below is a list of twenty-five of my favorite Christmas things (in no particular order). I could have made a longer list (since I love this time of year), but decided a list of twenty-five was long enough.

1.) spending time with family/friends
2.) snow
3.) decorating the tree
4.) Christmas music
5.) hot chocolate
6.) baking cookies
7.) watching Christmas movies
8.) building snowmen
9.) sledding
10.) warm, fuzzy scarves
11.) gingerbread
12.) snowball fights
13.) candy canes
14.) sending/receiving Christmas cards
15.) singing Christmas songs
16.) shopping for presents to give to family/friends
17.) the joy of Christmas morning
18.) the peacefulness of Christmas Eve night
19.) pretty lights
20.) fuzzy socks
21.) cute hats
22.) Christmas dinner with family
23.) catching up with friends
24.) peppermint tea
25.) sharing the joy of the season with others

What are some of your favorite things about this time of year?

Something Magical

Something special happens this time of year when a chill enters the air and the first white flakes fall from the sky. They drift slowly at first, gliding down to earth, and land light as a feather on the ground. As the snow piles up, blanketing the ground, the world around begins to turn into a winter wonderland.

I love this time of year. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, my hands are often freezing. Yes, it snows a lot where I live and yes, sometimes, I complain about all of it, but as I sit at the window watching the snow fall, none of it matters.

Every year I patiently wait for the first snow. The signs slowly reveal themselves; the dull, gray sky, the cold bite in the air. It’s all signs of snow and once that first flake falls I know it has just begun.

How many times as a child did you anticipate the first snow? How many times did you wish for enough so you would have a snow day? How many times did you stand outside, bundled up, looking to the sky as you tried to catch a snowflake on your tongue? How many snowmen did you build or hills did you sled down? How many cups of cocoa did you drink with mini marshmallow to warm yourself?

Unfortunately, once you’re in the working world there’s no such thing as a snow day. You go to work whether it’s snowing or not, but everything else is the same, at least for me.

Maybe it’s a bit of nostalgia for my childhood. Maybe I’ll just always be a kid at heart, but either way I still build snowmen and catch snowflakes and go sledding. I still drink cocoa with mini marshmallows.

I love this time of year.

About a week ago we had a two-day snowstorm. I sat at the bay window in my house, watching the snow fall. Of course it was mixed with rain and sleet, but when it was snow, it looked lovely. It came down in giant clumps, a ton of little snow crystals hugging each other as they drifted from the clouds to the ground. After the storm the world appeared transformed. Snow covered the ground and roads. It laid on power lines, trees and bushes. It was beautiful and peaceful. I decided to go on a winter walk and there was something magical about it.

As a writer I feel as if I should be able to put it all into words, but it’s something that I can’t describe. Any description I could come up with wouldn’t do the beauty of this picturesque scene justice. Maybe that’s the true beauty of it, the real magic. Maybe it’s all in the way I feel about it, the joy I receive from snow, from the little things I use to do as a child and still do today.

Some of my favorite memories have come with snow.

Yes, it’s cold and sometimes the cold and snow almost last a little too long, but it’s beauty outweighs the cold.

There’s something special about this time of year. The snow turns the world into an icy kingdom as flakes flutter to the ground. It’s a winter wonderland and it’s magical.

 

What are some of your favorite winter memories? Feel free to comment below.

The Things We Take for Granted

What are some of the things you have in your life, big or small, that could be swept away in a single moment?

Loved ones.

Cherished objects.

Your entire comfort of living.

I recently read a book called Between Shades of Gray. It’s a story about 1940s Lithuania during the time of Russian occupation. This is a book I’ve been interested in reading for a long time, but for some reason neither of the two bookstores near me had it in stock. What a nice surprise it was to stumble across it one day. Even though I was already carrying five books, I knew I wasn’t going to put this one down.

During this time in Lithuanian history thousands of families were deported, some were separated and many died. Their destination; Siberia.

This book tells the story few are aware of, including myself, and I applaud the author. I’m not going to discuss the plot because that’s not the point of this post and I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who may wish to read it.

Oh, and I do recommend this book.

The story is told through the eyes of Lina, a 15-year-old girl who dreams of being an artist. Despite the fact that she is ripped from her home in the middle of the night and taken away with her mother and younger brother, she never stopped drawing.

The characters in this book are fictional, but the events actually happened and they happened to real people. They were taken away from everything familiar, scared and confused. No one knew where they were going and no one was willing to tell them.

It isn’t until Lina is sleeping on the cold hard floor, thinking about her warm bed and goose-down comforter, that it really hit me. Who would have thought that sleeping in a warm bed could be considered a luxury?

As I read on, I think more about all the things I have in my life. I have a warm bed to sleep in every night. I have food when I’m hungry and warm clothes for winter. I have my family and my health. All these are things that Lina and thousands of others lost in an instant.

That’s one of the lessons I learned in reading this book, we take the things in our life for granted.

It’s so easy to do that it happens on a daily basis without us really noticing.

Despite the tragedy and the ugliness, there was also beauty in this story. In order to survive, people helped one another and stuck together. On Christmas they continued their traditions and when Lina’s birthday came she was not forgotten. Not only was there togetherness and family, but also hope and love. There was love for family, friends and strangers while hope seemed to help some survive.

Again, I don’t want to say too much and leave spoilers, even though I have just scraped the surface of this amazing story. I will say that this is a truly beautiful and touching book. I’ll admit, I cried several times while reading.

The things we have in our lives aren’t guaranteed. Life itself isn’t guaranteed. I don’t know about you, but I know I take some of the things I have for granted. We should appreciate the things we have, love the ones close to us and live every day like it could be our last. You never know what’s going to happen. Tomorrow it could all be gone.

Welcome!

Hello Readers,

Welcome!

I’m very excited to finally have this blog up and running. It was tough deciding what to do for my first post, as well as picking a title. I know I could have done something flashy, or elaborate, but a nice welcome and introductory message seemed perfect.

I love a good adventure. Sure it’s scary, but who isn’t scared of the unknown? Along with adventure, reading and writing and photography and music are what I gravitate toward. Some would call me a bookworm, some would say I’m a music junkie. Ok, so, maybe they’re right, but we all have a love for something.

Reading has the ability to transport the reader to a different world, a different time. It’s a break from reality. Or it can be a link to reality, a bridge between past and present, a connection to a time in history.

Music is all around. I’m always listening to music, looking for new artists and seeing what the music world has to offer. I enjoy concerts and engaging band members. I love hearing what people have to say, seeing what their story is and learning who they are as a person.

Photography allows me to tell stories with a single image. It allows me capture a moment in a single frame; the emotion, the people, the found objects. It’s different from writing, but also the same in many ways. Both are forms of story telling and I love them equally.

So, what does this all have to do with anything? Well, all these things help me tell the stories I’m after. Some stories come pre-written while others have to be chased down. Some stories need time to grow before reaching their full potential. The stories I find can come from anywhere. They’re really a collaborative effort. I may be the one telling the stories, but they’re influenced by the things I see in the world, by the people I meet, by experiences, by the everyday. I hope what I write will be relatable and possibly inspiring, but, at least, I hope you enjoy reading my stories.

Feel free to contact me by leaving a comment on a post. Also, don’t hesitate to check out my Twitter, Flickr and Instagram page (and follow along if you wish). My rules on commenting are simple; be nice, be considerate, be friendly and be respectful. It’s alright to disagree, but please, if you feel compelled to voice these comments, do so in an adult manner. Thank you.

I’m very excited for all the possibilities of this blog, which is dedicated to music, photography, literature and life in general. I hope you will enjoy my writings and photos, as I invite you to follow along.