How Do You Spell Success?

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One of the definitions the dictionary gives for success is “a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.” Let’s clearly pay attention to the keyword “desired” so clearly Webster, all us writing nerds clearly revere the dictionary gods, felt success is indeed measured in the eyes of the person. But I’m sure you’ve read many a piece discussing that.

My ponderance for this piece is rather if you don’t attain what you define as a success if your life a missed opportunity? If you establish these arbitrary success goals, shoot for them and miss what does that amount to in a life?

In an attempt to answer this question I look at some of my own definitions of success for myself to see where I land.

  • Earn a career in professional baseball either as a player or journalist

It became pretty clear during my little league days that a professional playing career wasn’t in the cards. In all seriousness, have you seen me run? It’s somewhat less impressive than a young Forrest Gump running with his leg braces on. The journalism route had some promise as I did land some writing opportunities covering minor league baseball for a few summers. However, when I applied twice for an internship and various other major league baseball positions, I never got the call. My writing career did lead me to interview a dog, cover a high school prom, and special interviews of both a WWII and Vietnam vet.

  • Earn a PhD and teach college

I did get the opportunity teach college when I was earning my master’s and it truly was an inspiring experience. In a classroom is a definite place I fit in and at least some students said I was pretty good at what I did. When it came time to apply to doctorate programs, I was given a flat out no by all the schools. It appears as maybe I’m not as nerdy as I think. Seeing all hopes of a professorship dashed, I found myself taking refuge in the only place I felt comfortable another college degree. Library school, yes it’s a real thing, was the next logical place to go with a background in history and English. I considered myself a bookworm, even if I didn’t really read all that much. I figured library degrees also included museums and archives and any career that could lead me to interact with dinosaurs didn’t sound so bad to me. As things turned out, I haven’t necessarily encountered dinosaurs in my job description yet but it could be a real possibility.

  • Work at a job that allows me to make a difference

Okay, so you might think how can a librarian make a positive difference in someone’s life? And you’re right, I’m not going out on a daily basis and saving lives or performing some kind of positive life altering act in the library. I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact on the world and be able to look at something and be able to say that someone’s life is better thanks in some part to something I did. The crazy thing I’ve learned in my short time as a librarian is that by simply being nice to be people and helping them with their various questions, however simple they may be, makes their day better and in the end, isn’t that making a difference?

  • Publish a book

While I am a writer, writing something for publication has never really been something I’ve felt confident I could do, but of course, I’d love to see people enjoying something I created. Ever since I was kicked out of AP Lit during high school because I didn’t possess good enough English skills to carry on in the advanced track I’ve had a complex when it comes to my writing. However, I did write a children’s book with a dinosaur, of course, which to me sounded like a fantastic idea. To date, not one agent has agreed to take a chance on mine, though to be fair this still has time to change.  What I have learned out of the process so far is I can write a book. The few souls who offered feedback on my story thought it was cute so maybe there’s hope for me yet.

In the end, I really haven’t achieved any of the goals I set to call myself a success. Sure, this is disappointing, but at the very least each time I took a shot I found myself falling into something else at least. Life doesn’t seem so bad considering where I’m at compared to where maybe high school me saw myself. So I guess what I’m asking is are goals and success synonymous, what say you?

A Father, A Boy, and A Baseball

19420716_10155549876074180_5738259942869982332_nSome of my earliest memories involve baseball. I remember my dad getting me a plastic bat and ball at a very young age and teaching me to swing for the fences like The Great Bambino. With that early love of baseball came a love of the Cleveland Indians as well.

If you know me at all you know that my life to some degree revolves around baseball, more specifically the Cleveland Indians. I have this belief that my fandom somehow has magical powers ala Angels in The Outfield and can help the players perform at their peak. Though to be fair if you saw me during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series you would have sworn the Indians would have beaten the Cubs.

Just the same, learning about baseball and how to play the game will always remain one of my favorite memories of my dad. I have fond memories of us listening to a game while barbequing on the grill outside. It doesnt quite get a better combo than that. It’s a bond we will always share and it’s one that if I ever have kids I will be sure to pass on to them as well.

Of course, our shared love of the Indians throughout my childhood has led to another bond of sorts, a love for the team’s radio man, Tom Hamilton. Though I’ve never met him by listening to him for over 20 years I feel like I know him so well, a though I’m sure many Cleveland Indians fans share.

He’s taught me so much more than just baseball, he’s given me life lessons. His children are most certainly lucky to have him as a dad, but he feels like family to me too. Perhaps an uncle maybe, yes, I think Uncle Tom has a nice ring to it.

It’s funny really how much I owe to baseball. It’s given an everlasting well of memories to share with my dad, a passion to root for in the Cleveland Indians, a wise legendary figure in Tom Hamilton, and even if only for a brief while an athletic career.

Hamilton, You’re My Hero

Playbill_from_the_original_Broadway_production_of_HamiltonThank you Lin-Manuel Miranda, you were able to make history captivating for the masses. While I’m an avid lover of history I didn’t even have the understanding of one of America’s founding fathers that I now do thanks to Hamilton and I am eternally grateful.

What many teachers couldn’t do, attract students to love history, you were able to do with fantastic music and lyrics. It’s truly a testament to your skills but also I think it’s a promising sign for people in general. By helping people realize that events from over 200 years ago are just as relevant to today than they were during their own time, you proved history is not boring.

Of course, most history teachers don’t have the ability to put on a play for every major historical event, and to be honest I’m not sure if that’s something we’d even want. Just the same, I think the major takeaway that we can make from Hamilton is history needs to be told in a way that people can imagine themselves in those events. For it to truly come alive and captivate there needs to be an investment in the historical narrative just like we do with our favorite characters in books and television.

Hamilton achieved that connection not only by the music and lyrics that melded a historical culture with today’s culture but by also using a multicultural cast to represent the players of the narrative. There is nothing better short of time travel than that to help give the visualization to the public that they are in fact taking part in the unfolding of history and that these histories are all our stories.

History is a passion of mine and I’ve always seen it as exciting and engaging and it’s a goal of mine to teach it to others in that same way it comes alive for me. I had the good fortune of having teachers that can weave the narratives of history in a way that they can flow off the page and into my imagination and those have been a good part of what has driven me continue to pursue my ultimate goal.

However, what Lin-Manuel Miranda created has taken my goals for history to new heights. While I’m sure I can’t write mesmerizing lyrics that can tell a founding father’s history I can only hope that I can harness those fundamentals he used to create Hamilton and bring them to classroom learning. So once again, thank you!

 

Lessons Learned from The Obituary Page

“You know the Greeks didn’t write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: “Did he have passion?” ~ Serendipity

I spend a good part of my job working with obituaries and let me say that I enjoy that work. I am a people person, which is probably why I fit so well as a librarian, so I feel that in the process of interacting with all these obituaries I get to learn about the lives of so many people.

Obituaries, I think, are a testament to our sense of optimism as a society. It’s our way of sharing the good things our friends and relatives accomplished and the memories we share of them so others can share in those happy sentiments as well. As a journalist when I was tasked with writing obituaries I didn’t have this same view but I imagine some years of life have helped formulate this much sunnier outlook.

As a writer I suppose it would only make sense that at some point I’d consider how my own obituary would be worded. That’s where the quote from the movie Serendipity comes into play because I’d want mine to read that I lived with passion. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional format of detailing one’s life through their work, their family, favorite activities, and other accomplishments they may have achieved while on earth. It’s a charming testament to human life, for sure.

However, I believe our lives should be lived with passion and as such I’d like my obituary to read like that. My Greek ancestors had some pretty good ideas, afterall, and I think this is definitely one of them.

I want to make a difference in the world. I want to be a positive force in people’s lives. I want to do incredible things. In short, I want to live passionately as best I can and I feel as a result of that lifestyle I will leave this world positively. I hope that when my time comes my obituary will tell that story.

Of course, I have to accomplish these things in life for them to be immortalized in the passionate words I hope for. As such, in a way, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from obituaries for they have taught me how to live.

Love Like A Penguin

1-5-13vsyduI’m sure many of you are aware of the tradition of penguins showing their affection with a pebble. It might be the most adorable behavior in the animal kingdom. The male searches for the perfect pebble to give to his penguin crush and hopes for her to accept it. That’s a major leap of faith to put that kind of time and effort into something that you don’t necessarily know the result. This is just one of many reasons why I love penguins aside from the fact that they are the best-dressed animal!

It’s almost as if penguins live their life according to perhaps one of my favorite movie quotes of all time.

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” – We Bought A Zoo

I mean let’s face it for a penguin that is just about as brave a move you can get and I greatly respect them for that. All I know is I need to hold that line a little closer to my heart and I owe penguins the thanks for that.

I have a tendency to ramble, as many of you who have met me probably know. I’m also a little awkward to boot so you can imagine the fantastically funny sitcom episodes that make up my life.

The crazy thing is even around the most amazing girl in my life I still have those slight feelings of awkwardness and rambling happens. I guess every time I’m around her I’m hit with the realization of how amazing this all is and I become your quintessential pinnacle moment of a romantic comedy.

I am getting better at keeping the awkwardness at a normal level though but I suppose it will always be a small part of me. Luckily, she finds it funny and as such I do believe she’s earned a nomination to sainthood.

If I were a penguin I would gladly present her with the most beautiful pebble I could find without hesitation! So thank you penguins for reminding me of the importance of courage and bravery and thank you Matt Damon for a great quote to remember it by.

The History Behind A Sports Rivalry

Ohio and Michigan sports teams have enjoyed heated rivalries over the years. Just in case you thought this was the result of random chance, there’s a bit of history that these competitors owe their competitiveness.

It’s a strange piece of history that combines Ohio and Michigan into competition over water access and land known as The Toledo Strip. It’s all a result of a territory dispute that resulted in The Toledo War during 1835-1836. Though, the arguments date back to 1787 when the land that would eventually contain both Ohio and Michigan was contained in the Northwest Ordinance established by the US government.

When it established The Northwest Territory, the rules said at least 3 states and no more than 5 would come out of the territory. The border for at least 3 of said states to be established was the southern most tip of Lake Michigan drawn east to west using the best available map at the time, The Mitchell Map. This border would give Ohio, upon attaining statehood, ownership of all the Lake Erie shoreline west of Pennsylvania.

It was discovered in 1803 as Ohio became a state that the map was drawn wrong as the southern most point of Lake Michigan was further south giving the Maumee Bay and the 468 square mile area of land known as The Toledo Strip to Michigan, currently just a territory. In order to avoid this Ohio changed the border description upon becoming a state to include the disputed land. In 1805 when the Michigan Territory was established they used the border defined by The Northwest Ordinance and while Ohio refused to cede the land Michigan continued to run local governments in the area.

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Years later in 1833, in their statehood request Michigan used the border according to the Northwest Ordinance which gave them dominion over the disputed land. In opposition, the governor of Ohio, Robert Lucas, had the request blocked. Ohio argued the Michigan residents living in the area were intruders and the land was still theirs. Congress upheld the request and Michigan was not granted statehood.

In an attempt to affirm their jurisdiction over the land, Ohio drafted rules to establish county governments in the area. As a result, Michigan’s governor, Stevens Mason, in 1835 enacted fines to be applied to residents living in the Toledo Strip for those supporting Ohio.

Just in case you thought this couldn’t get any crazier, Mason sent 1000 militia men to the border to support the fines he was enacting and as a counter Lucas sent 600. When Lucas tried to commission a new survey of the territory, several shots were fired in a skirmish that became known as The Battle of Phillips Corner. While no one was injured both populations were on the brink of war as a result.

For the remainder of the summer of 1835, each state tried to one-up the other through military maneuvers and arrests until a conflict between an Ohio soldier and a Michigan sheriff left a sheriff wounded. This signaled for President Andrew Jackson that something must be done to resolve the situation.

After federal intervention by President Jackson The Toledo War finally came to an end in December 1836 when Mason accepted the terms for statehood. As part of the deal,  Ohio gained control of The Toledo Strip and Michigan gained control of the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan finally became a state in 1837 and the argument was solved. The border wasn’t finalized physically until 1915, however, when a new survey was commissioned and a physical border made with granite markers was laid out and officially agreed upon by the state’s governors.

 

 

Dear Cleveland Indians

Dear Cleveland Indians,

It wasn’t the ending we wanted, there were certainly tears shed. But I think we can all at least take solace in the fact that you played the one of the best World Series in baseball history. Of course, it also helps I think that it was the Cubs who won in the end, a team that waited their own excruciating 108 years for another championship.

I want to say thank you Cleveland Indians because this season was the most thrilling one in my lifetime as a fan. While my emotions went from 0-60 several times over during the season, especially in World Series, I did in fact survive, and I am truly grateful for a team that can produce so much excitement that I became lost for words.

This team is the definition of heart, hustle, teamwork and many other feel-good terms that I could rattle off. They put together a remarkable season even when many counted them out and for that I am forever grateful.

Perhaps the greatest part of all from this season, however, was the personal experiences that came out of it. The Indians have played in 3 World Series since I came into this world but this was the first I was truly able to understand baseball and to have that opportunity with my dad was an awesome experience. I think it’s safe to say you could tell we were father and son in those moments.

I was able to experience games in-person with amazing people, both those I knew and random strangers. One of my favorite moments was when my favorite person in the world started catching on to how baseball works.

Then there was the memorable times watching the game at the bar when you were able to create camaraderie with every other person in the bar like you were life-long friends even though you just met.

Of course there was also the chance I had this summer to teach my goddaughter how to hit a baseball. While that isn’t directly related to the season it was a flashback to how my dad taught me to play after I had started falling in love with the Cleveland Indians and baseball early in my life. So it’s all connected.

This is what the Cleveland Indians mean to me and while it didn’t end with a World Series Championship, the boys from the corner of Carnegie and Ontario are and always will be my champions.

Yours Truly,

Lifelong Cleveland Indians fan

Humans and Nature is Human Nature

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio and for those of you who have stuck around long enough reading my blog, you may have realized how much I love nature. In case you’re new, just for reference I ordered sequoia tree seeds to grow my own Giant Redwood tree if that helps place my love of nature for you.

In a time when it seems humans and nature have some trouble getting along, think of the polar bears, visiting the Holden Arboretum was a testament to how well humans and nature can get along together and the amazing things they can create as a part of that relationship.

The Holden Arboretum was founded in 1931 when it originally occupied 100 acres but now occupies 3,500 and when it joined with The Cleveland Botanical Gardens created the 13th largest public garden in the United States.

The entirety  of the arboretum’s grounds is covered in beautiful landscape both human and nature made. The best part is that it is so large that its fairly easy to get lost, though with walkways throughout it’s not the kind of lost you can achieve in a national park.

The two amazing features at the arboretum though are the Emergent Tower and the Canopy Walk. By far I think it is these two experiences that really allow you to see the symbiotic relationship of  humans and nature.

The Emergent Tower allows you to climb 120 feet above the ground and get a glimpse of what it could be like to be a bird. The view is spectacular, not only to see all the tree tops for miles but to even view Lake Erie some 10 miles away!

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The view from the top of the Emergent Tower in Holden Arboretum

The14355759_10154659718424180_5107037502093859895_n Canopy Walk is just as exciting an experience as you walk across 500 feet of canvas walkway 65 feet above the ground. Just as the Emergent Tower gave you a taste of a bird’s view, the Canopy Walk allowed you to view the forest from the eyes of a furry woodland creature. Though the challenge of this experience is the walkways do move and if you have the fortunate opportunity to have a child nearby that likes to jump on the walkway, you can imagine yourself in an Indiana Jones movie trying to make it across a drawstring bridge before it collapses.

Just like every good adventure you need a good partner and it certainly helps when that partner is totally willing to push you overboard because what adventure across a suspended drawstring bridge is complete with the possibility of going over! (PS: I don’t think she’d actually push me over, she just likes to keep me on my toes) It’s also nice when they don’t mind getting lost either, though that’s on me for thinking I could read a map.

In truth though, beyond the initial natural beauty the Holden Arboretum holds and its ability to show the harmony in which humans and nature exist, I took away another unexpected bond  between humans and nature, well specifically trees.

Trees like humans can be beautiful on their own and do amazing things but when joined with others they can create a much more beautiful, beneficial, and harmonious environment. So maybe let’s learn from our natural friends and do two things: first off, enjoy nature and second, keep up the symbiotic relationship so we can continue to live together with benefits for all.

Please Welcome Adelie Ink

13322114_945240142259146_8466130425317493786_nMany of you who have stuck around long enough to read this blog have probably realized by now that I’m kind of a nerd, I use this term in the most endearing way, of course. As a nerd, loving to read comes with the territory and with enough schooling I’ve learned to love writing as well. Couple those with my love of learning and what comes next makes next.

Not too long ago, a fellow bookworm and much more talented writer, and myself joined forces to create Adelie Ink. With our combination of 5 college degrees, we felt we could help make a positive difference and assist students of all ages with researching, writing, and editing. Luckily, since we live in the Digital Age, we can even help writers from all over!

Perhaps the best part of the whole process is being able to read other people’s writing about all sorts of unique topics. You get to learn a lot while working and who wouldn’t love that!

As for how we can help, we can assist with researching, writing, editing, and even tutoring if it’s needed. We can help with all sorts of projects from book projects, thesis or dissertation, college or scholarship applications, and just about any sort of writing. So whether you’re a high school senior working on those college applications or a PhD student working on a dissertation, we’d love to help you find the exact words you want to say.

Our business works best through referrals though so we ask that you take a moment to share our social media pages with any friends or family that you think might need our help. You can find us on Facebook Adelie Ink on Facebook and our personal website Adelie Ink Website!

We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully encountering some great pieces of writing!

 

 

The Decision

I recently had a job interview for a position that I wasn’t exactly in love with. It did have some interesting parts to it, especially since it did hold some promise for getting me that all too important “work experience” that is required for any professional job. I wasn’t sure if I’d take the position, especially since there was no guarantee of getting hired. But then they emailed the next day and offered me the position. At first reaction, I was excited I was employable after all! Afterwards, I thought about the first person I wanted to tell about the possibility but then I realized…if I took the position the person I so badly wanted to tell first would be affected as it would postpone our ability to continue our forward motion in our relationship. I have full faith we’d still get to where we are going but just on a longer plan.

Here’s where I think I learned two valuable lessons in life growth: first off, life decisions are never easy but when the decisions are easy it’s pretty clear you know what you want; and second, if you really want something career wise there are other ways to get there. And it was these realizations that made me realize while this position had its benefits, I was darn sure I could find another way into my dream career. I was certain of this, probably more so than I have been about anything careerwise this far. The other thing I realized is how passionate I am about that first person I thought about telling upon getting offered the job.

The prospect of moving forward in the relationship was far more exciting than the job offer and it was that career development I want to focus on more than getting that “work experience”. I’ll get where I want to be career wise I have no doubt, what’s more important is having that person in my life nearby that I want to share those exciting career developments with. I kinda sorta definitely know what I’m doing here and that’s perhaps the most exciting development life wise in this entire experience.

Perhaps part of growing up is being able to focus on both your career and personal development, so if that’s a sign of adulthood maybe I’m finally reaching it.