Category Archives: Life in General

General thoughts and commentary on life, family, personal experiences, and some of the things we think about.

The identity of Atticus C.

I think about work too much. I’m never content when things are going perfectly well. I’m restless. I’m always looking for the next thing. I can’t stop taking on projects. I don’t enjoy the little things enough, but I try to remind myself to do so.

Sometimes my personality is too strong. Sometimes I’m a dick and an egomaniac. I try not to be, but it comes off that way anyway. I’m hard on people I love. I’m not sensitive enough, on average. I try to remember to say thank you. I try to show appreciation. I have to remind myself to do these things.

I’m too cynical. I can’t accept anything for face value. I can’t accept religion. I have trouble with spirituality even though I think it’s healthy. I like philosophy, but it always seems to turn into an argument. I’m attracted to spirituality, but I can’t accept it. I want it, but don’t know where to look. Organized religion feels like a scam, but I want the community.

It turns out family is more important to me than I ever expected. Also, friendship. I enjoy my few, but very close relationships. I should try to have a relationship with my parents. Maybe I shouldn’t. They are poisonous. I should try to have a deeper relationship with my parents-in-law. They are good people.

Speaking of friendship. I would like to spend more time in an intimate/cerebral way with friends. Maybe combine spirituality and learning. I have smart friends who can challenge me. I would like to combine the two components of my life.

I want adventure. I want to relax. Sometimes I want to visit old towns in Central America or Europe. Other times I just want to be isolated in the mountains of North Georgia. Either way I’m pretty happy at a cafe with good coffee. I like to write – especially when the location is nice.

I want challenge and prestige, but stability. I want to know that I can take care of my family, but I want the excitement of new things and constant learning. I want the flexibility to work to live or live to work. I want my career to be a big part of my identity, but not my identity exclusively.

I want to be happy, but sometimes I don’t know what that is. Sometimes I think happiness is something you can define on paper, other times I think it’s just a state of mind. Maybe both. I’m a planner, but I’ve been told to take things one day at a time. Maybe both are right. Maybe neither.

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Hello again my old friend.

I took some time off from blogging. I’ve still been writing – just in a hand-written journal instead of here. I just felt like putting pen to paper for a while. For whatever reason it just felt right. Something about sitting there with a notebook writing things down feels good. It felt more intimate. Less like I was trying to write for the world and more like I was writing for myself.

It’s like in science when the mere act of observation changes the outcome of an experiment. In this  case knowing people might read my blog posts made me try too hard. I felt like I needed to post content more regularly. Mind my prose. And be entertaining. I started to lose my voice. The one I hear inside my head when I’m thinking about all of this stuff. Me.

I still want to blog. I even considered starting another blog all together. But we’ve been through too much together here. Five years! I want to stay, but kick things off right going forward. Face it – this is a personal blog and that’s the way it’s going to stay. What I write about here interests no one except myself and that’s okay.

Where do we go from here? 

I want to blog once a week. Not on any particular schedule, but just when I can. i want to write because I enjoy it. Because I enjoy sitting in my office or at a little coffee shop writing about nothing in particular. I think it’s healthy.

An though I say “no schedule” I’m a scheduler at heart. I thrive on tasks and lists. So maybe I’ll try to make every Wednesday morning a writing session before work. Head over to the coffee shop and write for a couple hours? I like that idea.

I don’t want to commit to any particular topic(s). Most of what I write will probably be about me. Probably complaining about trying to figure out the meaning of life – or something similar. Maybe I’ll talk about economics, philosophy, politics, or business. Who knows?

Anyway, I’m back.

Phil, Jon, or Holden. You guys are the only people I really keep up with on the web. Stop by and say hello. I hope this becomes more conversational going forward.

I Passed on a $50,000 Raise

I am proud of myself this morning. Proud because I feel like I am slowly becoming the man I aspired to be. A man who, when given the opportunity, will choose happiness, family, friends, and knowledge before money or the accumulation of more stuff. I believe this about myself because I turned down a new job, and a $50,000 raise, for these values.

The job would have made me the youngest person in such a position (that I know of), padding my bank account and my resume, but would have meant a lot of time away from my family and friends, giving up a few personal dreams (such as starting my own business and pursuing further education), and doing something I’m not very passionate about. I’ve never had to give up such a huge opportunity or such a large sum of money. I’m happy that when the time came I had the courage and discipline to do so.

I didn’t do it alone, either. I had people to speak candidly with. Friends and family who earnestly supported me and walked through the pros and cons of each opportunity. They probably didn’t know it, but their willingness and enthusiasm helped to show me just what I would be giving up. Just how great a community I would be giving up for a little prestige and money.

I didn’t give up long walks with my family every evening, I didn’t give up the international travel and leadership opportunities my current job provides, I didn’t give up my dream of launching my own start-up, I didn’t give up morning coffee talks with Holden, I didn’t give up spontaneous cocktail dinners with neighbors, and I didn’t give up my dream of higher education (in fact I start an MBA program next school year!).

When I read that last paragraph I realize just how easy a decision the whole thing was – even if it didn’t seem like it at the time. Perspective.

Land Lordin…

I am a land lord, but not really by choice. I bought a little house a year out of college at the height of the housing bubble (around 2007) at a steep price, then six months later, watched as its value plummeted to about a fourth of what I paid.

Now, 8 years later, the little old house in northwest Georgia sits at about 6/10th of the value I paid for it.

At the end of this month, I lose my golden tenants who I’ve had for most of the last two years and so the hunt begins for new ones. Oh joy…

You learn a lot of very valuable life lessons and sharpen quite a few business skills as a land lord. You learn to start recognizing interesting little social clues and personality traits that might tip you off as to whether a person is a potentially good or bad tenant.

You also learn to manage risk, or even more importantly, to become more comfortable with risk. You start weighing pros and cons, making judgement calls and even learning when to trust or not trust your gut.

But most of all, you learn to just be patient with both people and the process as a whole.

Being a land lord who actually CARES is tough. I work so very hard to show compassion, to do a great job for my tenants and feel like I’m really providing them with just as much value, if not more, in return for them basically paying for my house that I no longer care to live in but cannot sell.

And I never forget that if I can work this all out, I’ll own a house free in clear by the time I am in my mid-40s. A house I could live in if times got tough. A nice supplement to my retirement… or hell, my retirement home someday!

But alas, being a land lord is not for the faint of heart. I have been lied to, stood up, cleaned up messes that are not mine and dealt with crap neighbors (and the city code enforcement officers by extension). I am happy to have had the experience though.

I am starting to truly understand how to get down to business while retaining my compassion and humanity. And this is a mix that I feel is becoming rarer all the time in our society.

Please wish me luck, soon enough I’ll have to select that lucky person (or hopefully a small family) to sign a lease with, and start all over again on the rollercoaster or land lordin…

-Holden

Identity Crisis

Sometimes I have a lot of difficulty defining myself.

Am I just a corporate slave? Another drone in the white collar, paper pushing workforce?

Am I just another average 30 something year old dude with a wife, two kids and a few cars in the garage?

It seems like I’m not doing a lot of the things I like most. I’m not really doing the things I love, all that often anymore.

I’ve taken on way too many expenses. My wife and I have build a beautiful family, we have nice things and possessions, great careers and positive prospects to just keep on moving up but we have enslaved ourselves.

Then I step back and start to feel like I’m bellyaching. I feel like I’m a brat.

The more I move forward in life, the more I realize I don’t care for most the people I encounter.

Where is the love of music and art? Where is the desire to travel or experience other cultures? Where does the worship of retail, new cars and shiny trinkets end?

I feel like my life is turning into a poor imitation of a top 40 radio station. The same dozen songs playing over and over, the over enthusiastic DJ and the endless commercials urging me to buy something else I really don’t fucking need.

This is so mundane. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Because it is comfortable and easy.

 -Holden

 

Pillars of Self Improvement

As I alluded to in the previous post I am undergoing a personal transformation. Moving forward I have identified three pillars in which I want to focus my efforts. The Physical, the Mental, and the Emotional & Spiritual.

In my personal journal I broke it down like this:

Pillars of Consciousness

I know that each of these elements are tied together – meaning that you cannot be successful, say mentally and emotionally, if you are not also making an effort physically. For example, one thing I am trying to do is bring mindfulness to my diet. Not just by eating healthy, but by taking a methodical approach to choosing and preparing my food.

For example:

This evening I prepared Salmon with my wife.

We searched for the perfect fillet. We settled on one with a great silver skin and beautiful deep red flesh. We chose peppers and spices for our sauce. Smelling each ingredient and holding it directly to my nose. I could almost see what the sauce was going to look like. Red and creamy with small flakes of chili’s – delicious. (I normally run through this process without thought.)

Then while preparing the meal I took time to appreciate each component. We spent over an hour dressing the meat, preparing the vegetables, and cooking. Coating every inch of the salmon in an even coating of sauce before carefully separating the collard from their stem. Each time I took time to appreciate the direction and speed I separated the vegetables – in clean symmetrical lines running perpendicular to the leaf’s veins. The stems in one pile and the leaves in another.

The Result:

Taking time to be mindful of meal preparation meant I spent more time with the family, enjoyed the food a lot more (it was the best salmon I’ve ever prepared), and ate something very nutritious. In this way I combined physical (diet), mental (researching meal preparation), and spiritual/emotional (zen – enjoying the moment).

I hope to share these efforts a little more often going forward.

iPhone Generation and The Long Game

Run 4.2 miles. Immediately following Holden and I get coffee at the local coffee house that is a half mile walk from my house. We don’t buy anything fancy, just a strong cup of coffee. It cost $2.00 even.

The coffee shop is  trendy (call it hipster-esque) with local art hanging on the walls, a starry night themed study room, and a barrister with a handle-bar mustache. One painting always makes me shake my head because it looks like a beautiful painting of a young girl that someone scribbled over top with purple crayon. Art.

My community is a pretty interesting mix. There are lesbian couples, a mysterious guy in great shape that curls rocks in his front yard, a few veterans, accountants, religious, atheists, old people, and young. There are antebellum homes, American flags, and an art/farmers market every weekend.

Holden and I sit in the trendy little coffee shop – mostly empty on a rainy morning. We still have our workout clothes on and talk a little too loudly for a near-empty coffee house. We feel free to speak our mind and pay no attention to the patrons at the next table. They pay no attention to us either.

These are my favorite kind of mornings. Holden and I chat and boost each other’s ego then laugh about it. Casually praising the other, but in a natural and healthy sort of way. We talk about personal growth, family, travel, and life. Our talks are, in many ways, an extension of this blog.

Even as we finish our coffee I enjoy the thought of the half mile walk back to my house.

Holden and I have been friends for nearly a decade. We have traveled to the third world, helped each other through relationship problems, and personal growth. In fact, this is the longest friendship I’ve had to date (I’m 27). It has taken a lot of work for both of us, but like any craftsman, the result (and journey) has been worth the effort.

Which brings me to my point:

I want to teach my daughter (and anyone else who will listen) the value of time well spent. I feel like most people want instant gratification. Holden and I call it the “iPhone generation” (a term we coined over coffee). The value of the “long game” (also coined over coffee) has been lost.

Everything I value in life was developed over years and decades. None of it was given to me. And everything I worked for and continue to work for I appreciate on a different level than those things that were handed to me. It is a unique type of appreciation that is only privy to those who have the experience of having done it. (Which is also why I’m beginning to realize the value of experience and age.)

It’s like reading a good book rather than watching the movie. It took a few days or weeks to get through the book. You spent time with it, developed a relationship with it. You can watch 6 movies in a day on Netflix and forget which before you go to bed. The “long game” is a good book.

These are the differences between sitting in a coffee shop talking about life with your best friend and liking a photo on Facebook.