Friday, October 14, 2016

Renaissance Man or Court Jester?

This isn't a list of "everything Eric is doing and needs to be congratulated for."  This is a challenge.  You see, I've always wondered if I might be more successful, make more money, and do better at things if I stuck with them longer.  I'm struggling with this dilemma because I, of course, want to succeed.  Should success, though, be my ultimate goal?  What about constantly trying new things, keeping my brain active, dipping my toes into things that I may hate or end up loving?  

I've read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers among dozens of other books (yeah I like to read like some people like to drink).  I've studied some of the most successful people in the world.  I've met people who have made millions of dollars or seem to have found their calling.  The world seems to push most people, or maybe encourage is a better word, to focus on finding one passion.  The people who are the most successful at something have focused on that for all of their waking hours.  

I've tried that....and I HATE IT.  

I spent time when I was a fundraising consultant using all of my waking hours to do fundraising work or fundraising volunteering.  I'm good at it.  I'm proud of the work I do in it.  BUT, I felt very unfulfilled when I had to focus on that and that only.

Not one to sit still, I find that I sometimes take on a lot of different projects, arts and crafts, goals, training, adventure, etc.  This isn't something new.  In high school I was involved with everything from the FFA to the Speech and Debate Team, the Yearbook staff, the choir, band, the musical, and was the Class President. 

At Hartwick College I was a tour guide, a Resident Advisor, involved in theater, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (men's national music fraternity), international club, and a bunch of other clubs and organizations while trying to keep my grades up at a high level.  Even with all of that stuff going on, I sought out new adventures.  My best friend Karyn was usually right next to me.  We went skydiving our junior year.

Fast forward almost 20 years and I still seem to get bored with what I'm working on.  I have to keep it fresh and real.  This year, I've been on some obstacle course races (Spartan with my awesome friend Greg who is also a fraternity brother).  

I've recently picked up fashion photography, although I've always loved photography and learning new aspects of it.  Part of my fashion work has been helping my husband prepare for casting calls and managing his Instagram, his portfolio, ad his schedule. 

Because this hasn't been enough to occupy my brain (not that I have enough time to do more), I decided to sell pampered chef products and do shows.  This has been amazing and fun and challenging all at the same time.  

Never mind the fact that I have a full time job that requires a lot of energy and concentration.  

I'm proud of all that I have done.  I'm not giving up on anything.  The arts and crafts box, the sewing machine, the guitar, the sign language book, the graphic design class, the movie script, the half written book, the investing guide, and the dozens of other projects I have started are not going away.  I will pick each one up in its own time and work on it some more.  I may find the one that becomes my lifetime hobby. 

In the mean time, I guess I'd rather be well-rounded and have tried everything instead of being the guy amazing at just one thing that I focus my life on.  I'm going to make costumes, raise money for charities in and out of work, sing with my fraternity and church choir, and photograph more people. 

I'm also going to keep writing here.  I may be sporadic at times when other projects are higher on my "keep your brain occupied" list, but know that when I come back I'm ready to share something that I hope is at least enjoyable to read if not helpful.  

Here's to fighting stereotypes and being normal.  I'm going to be me dammit.  :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

There's no place like home

This past weekend, I visited Hartwick College.  It was homecoming weekend.  Although it wasn't my reunion year, I still went back.  In fact, I have been going back every year since I graduated.  When I arrived, I was greeted with hugs by old friends, and relatively new friends.  Some of the students came up to greet me and some were there to meet me.  I worked at Hartwick before moving to Brooklyn.

The weekend started slowly with me recruiting interns for my office.  I spent most of Friday working on some photos from a fashion show.

Friday night, I picked my husband up from the bus station in Albany so he could spend the weekend with me.

Saturday morning, the hugs began for real.  David, my husband, wasn't used to so many strangers hugging him.  Fortunately for me, very few of them were strangers, and the hugs were something I cherish and remember.

The weekend ended with a memorial service for those Hartwick friends and family who didn't make it to another reunion because they have died.  This solemn and touching end to the weekend gets to me every year.  I know that there will be at least one or two names on the list of deceased that were a part of my life.  This year, two professors of mine had passed away and one older alumnus who was a friend.

I got to thinking as I drove back to Brooklyn.  David was asleep in the car next to me and I reflected on what makes something feel like home.

There are only a few places in my life that ever felt like home.  Most places just felt like a temporary holding spot until something better came along.  

Home is a place where you feel like you belong.  In Oneonta, in spite of the small size, I feel like I belong....or belonged.  Going back there, I always run into wonderful people.  These are people who value the education we got, even if they are decades older or younger than me.

The other places I think of as home are my parent's house and my house in Rochester, New York.  Both places make me feel great when I'm there.

Brooklyn doesn't feel like home yet, but I'm getting there.

So what does one do?

I guess I should ask, what does Eric do?

I try to figure out what makes something feel like home.

1.) Smiling people whose names I know and they know mine.
2.) Friends - it's really hard to make friends here for some reason
3.) Music - I need to be making music again.  I got to sing with my fraternity brothers this weekend and it felt amazing
4.) Church - this one is actually working here
5.) A gym or workout routine I like - struggle bus on this one.  I've got frozen shoulder on top of a case of can't get out of bed.
6.) Sharing of life - This one is starting to happen more and more.

I think I might be on my way.  If you get all the way to the end of this...tell me what you think makes something feel like home instead of a temporary living spot.