Birthday Reflection

Every year I try to take time to reflect on my life, taking a checkpoint on the journey.  As I hit a milestone birthday, I reflect back on people that have had the most impact in my life.   I have been blessed with so many wonderful friends, family members, coworkers, and people during each phase of my life.  My mother taught me respect, compassion, kindness and love. My father taught me strength, sacrifice and how to take care of my family.  My friends have taught me loyalty, challenged my thinking, and shaped my ideas of the world around me.  My children have helped me reconnect with innocence and kindness.   However, there is one person who has had the greatest influence on me throughout my life, my wife Nell. She has done more to show me, push me, pull me, support me, and love me along the way.  She is an incredible role model and I am confident that I am a better person today because of her than I could ever hope to be on my own.

I have found that it is not just people, but organizations that shape each of us as well.  The groups of people that we choose to spend our time with have an impact on us.  Be it sports, music, theatre, or service groups.  The groups evolve us because of the nature of the people in those groups that we choose to associate with.  In my case, scouting is the organization responsible for having the greatest impact in my life.  Beyond the obvious goals of scouting to teach leadership and citizenship through outdoor activities, several of my oldest and dearest friends can be traced back to the days of hiking and camping in the woods of Virginia through my early teenage years.  Later, when my own boys became scouts, scouts reminded me why this is such an important organization in the development of young people and offers opportunities no other your organization can.

When a scout first joins a troop, the first four ranks are based on mastering the basic skills around citizenship, camping, hiking, first aid, fitness, and working as a team.  Once a scout achieves the rank of first class, each new rank requires a position of leadership.  The objective is to take the skills that you have mastered, use them, and give back to others who follow behind you.

This really feels like a metaphor for me today.  Hopefully, by this point, I have mastered the basic and necessary life skills.  Now it is time for me to reflect and give back to those who follow me.  I look for ways to show my paved path to those that follow behind me or help them find their own path.  Give back to my neighbors, my community, and my fellow man.

As I begin this new path, I have culminated a list of organizations, all of which give back in some respect to the community in which I live.

Community Organizations

My friends and I are all very blessed.  We all have our struggles and strife.  With that said, I hope each of you will take a few moments to look at this list and choose to give back to one that represents what is important in your life.

I appreciate all your friendships and well wishes on this special day.  Please join me in helping those around us.

VT Weekend

What a wonderful father and son weekend.  Time flies and children grow into adults much too fast.  One benefit of their growing up is that you get to know who they are as people.  You can have a real adult conversation with them.  You can understand what they stand for, what they enjoy, and what brings them anxiety.  You can understand them more as people.  I find this to be a wonderful gift and equate it to adding another close friend in your life.

France Travel Log

A Past Due Travel Log

This past summer I spent two wonderful weeks traveling throughout France as part of several recent milestones in our family.  We traveled throughout France starting in Paris then to Normandy, South to Mont Saint Michele, a few days in the Loire Valley, then along the Mediterranean to Airlie and finally Avignon before returning to Paris.

We met many many wonderful people, enjoyed decadent food, mostly with an egg, and saw more wonderful sights than I thought possible in two short weeks.  The memories are numerous, but there are a few special ones that will stay close to my heart.  I felt immense gratitude standing under the Arc de Triomphe for the opportunity to travel with our sons and share these important places in the world as they develop their own understanding of their place in it. As I compared the sights of Paris to the sights we saw in Rome a few years before made me appreciate the gift of travel with our children.  At that moment I felt truly blest.  Sharing these icons of Paris like the Arc, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre are special.  I remember the afternoon in the impressionist museum and seeing my son discover his own love of these great artists.

I remember the laughter we shared during a meal that went wrong at Mont Saint-Michel. My wife was so excited to share this place with us and it was nothing like we expected, resulting in a  comedy of errors.  I remember how much I enjoyed watching my sons laugh together when we got ice cream at a cafe in Paris.  Any time we were all together laughing was a special moment for me.

I will never forget the incredible awe I felt as we traveled through Normandy and visited the various D-Day battlefields. I never grasped the complexity and scale of what was required to go into the D-Day invasion.  A civilian cannot grasp what an underrated event this was in our World History and has led me to even greater respect for our “greatest generation”.   I remember the sadness of walking through the American cemetery and the thought that I would not be able to share that experience with my father who fought in World War II.  He was never able to share much, no matter how much I inquired.  When we visited the monument at Utah Beach I was reminded of the Band of Brothers and that “Easy Company” had taken out a German battery nearby.  I grabbed the boys and Google maps and found the monument at a generic cross road.

I remember the opportunity to see the Tour de France in the wonderful town of Sarlat.  It was unplanned, unexpected and ultimately exciting and over too quick.

Here are some of my photographs and moments I captured along the journey.  At the end is a link to my complete gallery.

Favorite Photos Gallery

Complete Trip Photo Full Album