Home Is Where the Heart Is

“Home” does not have to mean, “Where I grew up”.


Most of my youth was spent growing up near Detroit. Same for my two younger brothers. It is fascinating to consider their experience of Detroit, growing up in the 2000’s versus mine, growing up in the 80’s. They love the area; I am always staying as far away as I can. If my family was not there, I would never spend another minute there in my life and that would be one hundred percent fine with me.

For my brothers, Detroit is where they know every street name, where all their friends and family are, where they found their high-school buddies and first loves. The city itself is on the rise, growing up with them, and they can’t imagine really living anywhere else.

For me Detroit is where I was bullied, beaten, abandoned, and molested as a youth. It is where my best friend died, where my heart was first broken, where my marriage ended, where I lost my house and car, and the city itself was an infamous pit of decay and corruption when I was growing up.

It is interesting to me that the three of us can see the same city in completely different ways. Detroit is a city of hope for some, a city where hope goes to die for others.

That is probably true, in some way, of every city, which brings me to my point. A city is where people are supposed to go to LIVE. Regardless of where you grew up, if it is not where you are happy, then it is not “home”. Keep looking.

Today’s Lesson: “Home” is where you live, not necessarily where you spent a bunch of your time.


Leave It All Behind

Sometimes the best way to move on is to move out.


After pricing moving vans, moving crates, and moving services for our transition to the Sunshine State, Nicole and I decided to do something that might seem drastic.

We decided to just leave everything behind.

Whatever I can not fit in my car is either being trashed or donated. It turns out the cost of moving all our clutter (everything from plates and storage jars to lamps, desks, and dressers) is about the same cost for us to just acquire new stuff.

The nice thing is, almost certainly we will not replace every item, one for one. I am betting we will find that many of the things we did not take with us we did not actually need. We will also find which things were really important because they will be replaced first.

As far as I am concerned, this is a great way to edit our lives to the essentials and shed the burdens of our pasts, our consumerism, and our former habits. Starting over is a way to build new habits, shed weight emotionally and (maybe even physically), and learn what parts of our lives are worth keeping. Mostly, though, it helps create space where there was clutter and invites to live our lives better (or to live better lives).


Today’s Lesson: Moving across the country can be costly but carrying your past with you can cost even more. 


Moving at the Speed of Life

Don’t be late. Life won’t wait for you to show up.


With the Tampa move coming, I feel Time accelerating. There are so many little things I have to wrap up. I have learned from moving so many times, there are some things you just do not want to forget, such as getting your dental records, looking far out into your calendar to cancel any appointments, and trying to think of the myriad places that need to update your address (such as blog-hosting service!).

Of course, there are friends and family who hope to say good-bye and they can fill a schedule quickly if you are not careful about coordinating with other events. If you are driving, of course, you want to change the car’s oil and have it checked out. Pricing and scheduling moving and storage can be a chore by itself. The little things add up quickly and suddenly 3 weeks to prepare feels like 3 days.

So many things to do, so little time. That is when life is most challenging and most enjoyable. Trying to do many things in a frighteningly short amount of time is at the heart of an adventure.


Today’s Lesson: You know this one. It is, of course, a long way of saying, “Time flies when you are having fun!”


Movin’ Out (Michael’s Song)

Look out, Tampa!


I can finally share the news that Nicole and I are moving to Tampa, Florida! We are super excited for the adventures ahead and although I love Michigan, I must admit… if I never see snow again, that would be just fine by me.

Picking where we wanted to live was a journey by itself.

I have heard throughout my adult life about the freedom and flexibility of being single. “If we didn’t have kids,” so many conversations started, “We would just pack up and go wherever we wanted!”

It turns out that is a lot harder than it sounds, even for single people.

We started with a big list of potential places and whittled it down one name at a time, looking at all the information we could find. Was it vegan-friendly? Is it close to the water? What is the average temperature year round? How bad is the crime? What about cost-of-living compared to Grand Rapids and our current lifestyle? Taxes? …And a few other factors as well.

Eventually, we narrowed it down to 3: Tampa, Austin, San Diego. Tampa quickly became the favorite. It is not the most vegan-friendly city (tough to beat Austin there). Tampa has beautiful beaches but San Diego takes the cake on scenery. When you factor those in with cost-of-living, crime, and everything else, though, Tampa appears to offer the best of everything (for us, anyway). Tony Robbins called Tampa “the best kept secret in the United States” and I have only visited there but I might have to agree. Beautiful city walkways, beaches, amazing creatures coming from the ocean or sky permeate the city, vibrant nightlife, and of course, the best winters in America bar none.

Once we made our choice, we planned incessantly. For months, Tampa dominated our conversations at home. We knew right away it was not going to be easy, and it was going to be expensive. We actually had 4 plans in place to ensure success. We are on plan 3! We needed a back-up plan for our back-up plan, and we have a back-up plan for this one (but luckily, we won’t need to go to that plan).

I will share more about how we did it in the future, for those of you interested in making a big move  (to Tampa or elsewhere–it takes a lot of work to uproot your life and set yourself up for success in your new surroundings). For now, I’ll just say what you already know: success often looks like inspired spontaneous combustion but is usually proceeded by a lot of unseen planning and a slow burn.


Today’s lesson: Nothing worthwhile comes too easily. If it did, then it probably was not worthwhile.

A Diary of Broken Records

What is a diary, really?


I found a couple of my old journals and started paging through them. It was interesting. I barely recognized the person writing or the events described as belonging to me (some were as recent as 2010–the last time I attempted a journal).

It is surprising how much an important event (important to me) can consume my life and transform my thinking, and it is surprising how a small event I might barely remember can have a big impact years later.

It turns out most of my journal entries, though, are a catalog of complaints or reasons to pity myself and I am glad now I gave up the practice.

In fact, the most surprising thing I found in reminiscing was not even in any of the entries themselves. It was how different a person I was then from who I am today. I have a completely different internal dialog.

So I tossed out my old journals.

Rather than cataloging my complaints and mistakes, I find it is more fulfilling to reflect on one lesson I learn each day. Pulling one lesson from every day is far more powerful than pushing a bunch of complaints to paper.

Today’s Lesson: A diary is something we rarely look at and, really, is mostly a record of our complaints. Maybe a better way to reflect on life is to look at all the good things we do each day… and just repeat them.