Monday, January 31, 2011

Try, Try Again

For those of you on Facebook, you probably saw a quote I posted earlier today by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  It goes like this: "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better."

It's one of those quotes that, unless you sit back and read it again and again, you can read through without thinking about its true meaning.  Therefore, I figure there's no time like the present to use this space to reflect on a quote that I think many of us can resonate with.

Now, I know I'm certainly no philospher, but here are some of the ways I look at that sentiment:

  • Life is meant to be tested.  Try different things.  Don't sit back and wait for things to come your way - go and out and sample them all.  Try, try, and try different things over and over.  We're lucky to be here, so we might as well test as many waters as possible. During college, I did this with every different internship I went after.  During my professional career, I've done this with every different story subject I've tackled and every different marketing strategy I've employed.  That's not to say I can't be more creative at times or more open to new viewpoints, but I try - as often as possible - to keep testing different ideas and immersing myself in new situations.
  • The more people you surround yourself with, the more understanding and appreciation you'll have for the truly loyal people in your life.  I've been blessed to have a lot of people around me - from friends and family members to colleagues and former classmates.  Opening my life up to so many groups of diverse people has helped me narrow down the people with whom I truly trust and enjoy being around more so than any others.  While I still make it a point to spend time with many people, I always know who has my back.  That's important and vital to a person's well-being (or at least I think it is).
  • See what's just over the horizon.  Sometimes there are so many new things or places to sample, that we get overwhelmed.  Make it a habit at least once a week to try a new restaurant, read a new book or watch a new TV show.  Over the weekend, I sampled some immpeccable cuisine at a restaurant near my house that's been open for several months and I walked away in complete satisfaction.  Had I stuck to the normal eatiers I frequent, I might never have sampled the tastiest pasta dish I've had in a long time.
While I don't think I have to preach anyone, I will leave with just one more thought:  None of us are perfect, but I do believe in this life we let ourselves get too satisfied with our lives and don't always reach for more.  That's a thought that scares me and it's one that I vehemently fight against on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow, Snow ... Don't Stop

As I watch Tom Clark from WNEP-TV forecast the weather, it looks like it's snowing mightly heavily up in Moosic, Pa.  I'm sure area kids are sitting home, hoping and wishing they'll be off of school tomorrow. Teachers are doing the same.  Parents may or may not be doing it, too.  Me?  Well, it really doesn't affect me one way or the other.  Either way, I'll work - whether from home or the office, but during these times I always hope it keeps coming -- for the kids.

I have the best memories watching the TV all night, praying for a school delay or closing so I could awaken early and head out with all the neighborhood kids to throw snowballs and sled down plow-made hills. My best neighborhood pal during my youth would knock on the door in the mornings and we'd set out to conquer the street by making mazes, slipping and sliding and getting lost under all that fluffy white stuff.

I always felt that snow was a reason to stay home for kids.  It gives kids new games to play, new atmospheres to interact in and a way to bond with all the other kids in the neighborhood you might not forge such ties with if it wasn't for the snow days (when you're forced to).  See, I didn't go to school with any of the kids in my neighborhood.  They attended a school nearby and I attended a school several miles away, so snow days were the times when we were forced to hang together.  Basically, I guess I have the snow to thank for some of my best childhood friends.

But, besides the kids, my dog, Riley, is another reason I hope for snow. Seeing the look on his face and the excitement in his tail as he rolls around the yard is enough for me. 

He's a 2-year-old Golden Retriever, so he's still a puppy, which makes it even more fun every time I let him loose in the yard on a snow day.  Maybe when he's 5 he won't get as excited, but for now all I want to do is roll around in the snow with my pup.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nothin' Like A New York Time

The title of this post says it all: There's nothing better than a weekend spent in New York City, especially with a great group of people.

Here's how my weekend went: I woke up early Saturday morning (6 a.m. didn't seem so bad until, oh, say 3 p.m.) and headed to the newly built Intermodal Transportation Center in Wilkes-Barre to catch a bus to NYC.  The game plan was to get there by 10 a.m. (ish) so we could settle in at my friend Caila's apartment and head to the Sunburnt Calf, an Australian restaurant and bar on the Upper West Side, where, upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly bartender who immediately began counting how many of us were in our party so he could supply us with a round of shots.  "Everyone gets a shot when they walk in," he said.  (Hey, that's quite alright with me!)

We waited no longer than 15 minutes before sitting down for a nice breakfast (mine consisted of over-easy eggs, toast, sausage and Screwdrivers) and a barrel of laughs - many of which came at my expense, but hey, I'm an easy-going guy who enjoy making fun of himself.  I figure I might as well let my friends do the same.

SIDE NOTE: I kept my Twitter followers up-to-date throughout the day by checking in to various locations on foursquare and sending way-too-many tweets about our adventures.

That said, our next "check in" location was Central Park, where we took pictures, commented on the many activities taking place and watched some ice-skating.  Sightseeing in the park and shopping (well, only one member of our party opted to drop cash on 5th Ave., but he shall remain nameless) is how we spent the bulk of Saturday afternoon.

For me, though, I have to say I enjoyed people-watching and making small conversation with store clerks and customers.  There's something so special about NYC in that people are so diverse.  Whether friendly or grumpy, I like hearing what people in the city have to say, watching how quickly they move about and seeing the families stroll down the street together.  I know I don't have to say in this space that NYC - or any big city for that matter - is a far cry from life in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (disclaimer: I love living in Wilkes-Barre, but it is nice to look at the world in another light from time to time).

Our evening was spent at M1-5, a club in Tribeca, where some members of our party knew a girl celebrating her birthday.   After a bit of confusion over who purchased what drinks, some pushing to make our way to the bar, and some laughs as some group members couldn't help but crack the rest of us up, we ended the night at a place called Jake's Dilemma, also on the Upper West Side.  The only dilemma? Bars are open 'til 4 a.m. in NYC and my bedtime is much earlier than that, especially having not slept well the night before.  But, instead of wimping out and retiring early, I promised myself to prove that I could last 'til the hour of 4 a.m.  Surprisingly, I did.  Not so surprisingly, I was the first to sleep when we returned back to the apartment.

What can I say?  I need my sleep.  And lots of it.  Good thing Monday is here and normalcy is returned to all.  But, even today, I can't help but ask: When am I going back?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Goodbyes Can Be Gifts

Last night I had some drinks with a good friend of mine, Kristy.  A few months ago, she made a decision that she was tired of living in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.  Tired of the same people.  Tired of the cold weather. Tired of the familiarity. 
She's wanted out for awhile, so when her best friend moved to Florida several months ago, she decided now was the time to go.  To explore a different area (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) to be exact.  To meet new people. Basically, to expand her horizons. 

I figured I'd be sad. I'm known to hold friends near and dear and really depend on them as vital parts of my life. But last night, sitting with her, I realized she's getting over her fear of leaving her hometown and making something happen for herself.  She doesn't have a job, but she has a place to live and her best friend there to ease the transition.  The job will eventually come, I'm sure of it. 
I thought "Wouldn't it be selfish of me to be upset? Or sad?"  She is basically leaving her life behind and going into the unknown, albeit with a safety net. I realized I couldn't be more happy for her. She'll still come home to visit, she'll still call, and, believe me, I can't wait to visit.
So while most look at goodbyes as sad times or reasons to put their heads down, I've decided, at least in this particular instance, that a goodbye can be a gift.  It's a gift for her to get over any type of fears of leaving, as well as for having the drive to go out in the world and embrace new situations and experiences.
She's following her gut and looking to better her life.  We should all be so lucky to do so.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Old Is TOO Old For Spring Break?

23? 24? 25? At what age does it get inappropriate to still go on Spring Break?  If you ask this 24-year-old, NEVER!  Now, first things first: I actually never went on Spring Break during college.  I was too busy asking for extra hours at my part-time job at Wegmans in order to pay for books for the following semester.  Or I was using the week to gain extra experience at my college internships. Or I simply didn't have the necessary funding to go.
Finally, at age 24, I can say that I - along with 10 other brave men - am embarking on a week of sand, sun and clubs, Mexican style.  At the spur of the moment on Monday, after a bit of discussion, we booked flights and hotel accommodations for Cancun, Mexico.

Some of the Spring Break crew have been there before, others have not, and some like myself haven't been on a plane since age 10, so this should be interesting.
What am I most looking forward to, you ask?
Relaxation is what first comes to mind.  Exploring a different area comes second.  While I like seeing sights in America, there's something about the experience of traveling to a different country that excites me.  Not to mention it never rains there and clubs, I hear, stay open 'til about 4 a.m.  Let's hope I stay awake that long!
For those who don't know, Cancun is a part of Mexico nestled next to the Caribbean Sea that was specifically created for tourism, and I'm told has all the makings of a fun-filled tropical vacation.  It's a favorite spot among younger generations because it's relatively cheap to get there from the United States - a major plus for twenty somethings on a budget.
Heck, the passport alone costs more than $100.  I'll consider that my latest donation to the United States Government.
I'll have more to share as the date gets closer, but for now, it's nice having something to look forward to during these dreary January days.    

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Legacy That Won't Soon Be Forgotten

You've heard of the Peace Corps. Or Head Start. Or VISTA. Or The Special Olympics.

If you haven't, throw a rock at your head and wake up.  All of the mentioned organizations have one common denominator: the influence of R. Sargent Shriver, an extraordinary advocate for peace, justice and social welfare who fought diligently to fight the many wrongs in society.

He died today at age 95 in a hospital near Washington D.C.

Credited as the founder of the Peace Corps, Shriver's work and lifelong public service helped establish numerous charitable organizations, including the Special Olympics, which his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded in the backyard of their Maryland home in the 1960s.

A former ambassador to France and one-time vice-presidential nominee, Shriver's marriage to one of the most well-known Kennedy women of JFK's generation only helped heighten his reach in the political world.  Many say he would have risen to such positions even if he hadn't married a member of American's most-storied political family.

Read USA Today's Article On Sarge

He was, by all accounts, a force to reckoned with: someone who worked hard to achieve his goals, but who, as his son-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger recently said via Twitter, encouraged people to "Tear down the mirror in front of you - the one that makes you look at yourself. Tear down the mirror and you will see the millions of people that need your help."

So, while his five children and 19 grandchildren mourn his passing this evening, let's hope that as his story is told in the media over the coming days, he's viewed as an inspiration to young people of our time and that his legacy lingers for many years to come.

I'm baaaack ... and better

It’s been years since I left the blogosphere, and I must say in those years since college where blogging was like my Twitter obsession of today, I’ve grown up a lot.  I’ve changed jobs, made new friends, traveled here and there and had new, challenging experiences that have taught me about strength of character and the desire to succeed.  Needless to say, this will be a blog of random ramblings from my somewhat crazy life.  And I’m excited.  I hope you are, too.

I’ll use this as a place to express thoughts, share eCommerce and news information, and most importantly connect with others.  After all, that’s why we’re put on this Earth, isn’t it?  To build relationships, make a difference and enjoy the ride.

It’s a natural extension, for me, of my somewhat strong (I think) presence on social media sites Facebook and Twitter, so I’m excited to see where this new adventure leads.

If you have some down time, feel free to check out my tweets at @Mike_McGinley.  There, you’ll get a better feel for what you can expect from me on here.

Thanks for reading.  Many posts to come.