All In

“For years, I knew the traditional life wasn’t for me.  But there I was, slogging along.  Maybe I would dip a toe or two into the unorthodox, but for all intents and purposes, my actions didn’t match my thoughts.  Internally, I felt inauthentic.  Like a sellout.  A sellout to my own thoughts.  My own beliefs.  But wait, what were my beliefs?  What were my actual beliefs?  Had I ever even stopped to think about them?  Who was I?”-Benj Bostic

IMG_2008It took exactly 671 days for me to completely unwind and re-wind my life.  From May 15, 2017 to today, March 17, 2019.  It was hard.  Man, was it hard.  I was uncomfortable for most of every single day.  But that was the point.

I was getting to know myself.  Intimately.  Like so many people, I had taken the time and interest to try and get to know family, friends, clients, prospects, and acquaintances, but I had subconsciously ignored the most important person of all: myself.

There were things going on around me that couldn’t just be a coincidence.  A couple of major life events.  Meeting new people.  A friend writing a book about being your 100% self.  A friend constantly in my ear using the term “borrowed beliefs”.  The opportunity was swirling all around me, so I decided to go all in.

It was a massive risk.  I could have lost everything.  I was aware of that.  But becoming vulnerable was the secret sauce. I needed to be free.  Free from what?  Everything, really.  Most importantly, everyone else’s thoughts.  I needed to be free from traditional thinking.  I needed to find the courage to act on how I truly wanted to live.  For once in my life, I was going to fully walk the walk.  All in.  Massive risk.  Hopefully, massive reward.

Making the decision to move halfway across the country was no problem.  Making the decision to sell the house was no problem.  Making the decision to resign from my traditional job was no problem.  Unwinding 34 years’ worth of “borrowed beliefs”?  You know, beliefs that weren’t truly mine? That was a MAJOR challenge.

Would I alienate loved ones?  Would I disrespect people from my past that I cared about and that cared about me?  I put the blinders on.  I HAD to do this.  I got some fierce pushback at times.  What are you doing?  “Just relax.  I’m on a beautiful journey.”

Pick a topic.  If I couldn’t tell you why I believed what I did, it went under the microscope.  Politics, marriage, religion, fatherhood, career, money, diversity, philanthropy, kindness, sexuality, spirituality, traditions, and so on.

This was an insanely tough exercise, so I had to make it fun.  Hence, the travel.  It was awesome, but what did you think I was doing at the airport, on the airplane, and on the long drives?  Playing on Facebook?  Nah, I was deconstructing and reconstructing my life.  Intentionally.  So I could live the way I wanted to live.

This exercise essentially saved my life.  Not physically.  No, it just saved me from sleepwalking through the next 30 years.  It saved me from feeling stuck for the next 30 years.  It saved me from living the life constructed by marketers for the masses, and instead finally persuaded me to follow my passions.  Travel, sports, inspiring others, and even writing.  Who knew?

I couldn’t live my life anymore not being 100% me.  If you know me, you know I have two speeds: all in and all out.  No in between PC nonsense.  All out wasn’t an option, so all in it was.  And I got so comfortable being uncomfortable, there is no chance I am ever going back.

So I’m starting over.  At 36, I’m reborn, and I have never felt so alive.  I’m living life on my terms, with intention, purpose, and passion.

Lots of people are telling me what I should do next.  Job offerings.  Ideas for abk.  So on.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Here is what I do want to tell you though.  If you go see the world, if you leave your neighborhood, if you leave your tribe, you are going to meet people.  Some really freaking incredible people.  That believe the complete opposite of you.  That have done something that you do not agree with.  Or maybe you’ve done something that they do not agree with.  Regardless, engage them.  Smile at them.  Their world may be completely different from yours, which is why they believe what they believe, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Don’t shut them down.  Don’t brush them off.  Listen to them.  Learn.  Everyone is different.  Everyone has different pasts.  Everyone has different challenges.  I certainly have mine.  People generally are kind.

But for whatever reason, we get in our own way, overthink things, and talk our way out of amazing opportunities due to irrational fear within ourselves and fear of other people’s opinions.  Not this time.  I faced every fear that I had on this journey, all 243 of them, and I won.

What are my new beliefs?  I’m glad you asked.  I believe in travel, leaving your comfort zone, open mindedness, and using your unique abilities to help others.  That’s kind of it.  I now live in roughly 4 hour intervals, with limited concern for both the past and the future.  I’m here.  You’re here.  Let’s be here.

So say goodbye to the Baptist-raised, apolitical, banking Vice President, MBA holding, Mars Hill and Wingate grad, All American soccer player, blah blah blah.  What a riff-raff.  What an absolute riff-raff.

And just say hello to Benj.  I’ve done the work, and I’m going to keep doing the work. 

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I love life, and it’s a pleasure to meet you.

Final thoughts next week.-Benj

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Walking Where Tiger Got Mobbed

1715174D-3AA7-4DE9-B877-B9A0E1798A8AAt approximately 3pm this past Thursday, I stood on the 15th green of the venerable East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, looking over a birdie putt with my caddie Brian. The round had gotten off to a less than stellar start, but I had just birdied 14, so I was hyped. For those of you who don’t know, East Lake is the home of the PGA Tour’s annual season ending Tour Championship, and so the fact that I was even there was quite exhilarating. Walking where Tiger walked. Walking where Bobby Jones walked. And everyone in between. 

80F1FCB5-4B8C-4402-BEFB-0EE7C57FB938As Brian and I read the putt, I said the following statement to him: “As absolutely perfect and extraordinary of an experience as this is, this isn’t even my favorite thing that I am doing TODAY!”

6CA4836F-85F9-42AA-A72A-0C246511DB01I hadn’t seen my son Banks in 25, yes 25, days. We were both running on FaceTime fumes, wanting to interact each day but knowing that our real bond lies within our ability to touch. 

So I had set out an idea a couple of weeks ago to fly in to Jackson, Mississippi on Thursday, catch a ride with my pal Kris, and make the 2 hour drive and go surprise my crew. But as you know if you are doing any kind of living, nothing ever goes to plan. And that’s okay. 

It was Mardi Gras last week, so airline ticket prices were jacked. My golf outing in Atlanta had gotten rescheduled 3 times due to cold weather. But contrary to the old me, I just let things fall into place and then made my final decision literally Wednesday night. Hotel in Georgia, enjoy the round, drive 6 hours to the Gulf Coast. 

Everything eventually fell into place, with me barging through the doors at roughly 11:05pm CST to one person in on the secret, two people stunned, and a (not so) little boy that had already gone to sleep. I tried to wake him, but he sleeps like his mom, needing a bona fide national emergency to have any chance of rustling them. 

I decided I would just cozy up to him so that when he did awake, I would be the first thing he saw. It happened about 5am, and it was glorious! 5B2BFEA1-09CD-4896-960B-B18A70D34928

“Dad! Dad! Dad!”  “Dad! Dad! Dad!”

D56E02CA-4C6F-46D2-A5C5-4EB3BC536A10I was reminded via a conversation I had last Sunday that the vast majority of people will never get to play at places like East Lake Golf Club. Most people will never run the NYC Marathon. Many will never have the courage to explore Mexico City or the resources to trek across Northern Italy. I don’t take any of this for granted. 

EBECCD35-6127-4C8A-8283-7E65071B48C1I have indeed done some wild stuff over the past almost 2 years, pushing every limit that I have and then some. It was fun, at times insane, painful, fulfilling, and rewarding. By my estimate, I travelled somewhere between 100,000 and 125,000 miles in this time period, doing and seeing everything and talking to and learning from anyone and everyone that I could. 

But nothing, I repeat nothing, came anywhere close to the simple stuff: the hugs, the smiles, the chaos, and of course that first basket .

So when I made that statement on 15 green to my caddie, with the opportunity to make back to back birdies at the incredible East Lake Golf Club, he understandably needed further explanation. So I told him the situation. He flashed a mean smile, fist bumped me, and said “Yeah, this ain’t even close.”

Stay tuned for my final thoughts over the next two weeks, friends, and then a new chapter begins.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Bargaining in Tijuana

7F28E959-FE8B-49E6-99FA-9F6D83DD8AE9This past Monday, smack in the middle of a five day trip to California, I walked in to Tijuana, Mexico. Yes, you read that correctly. I walked in to Mexico. Through a turnstile, like I was entering a minor league baseball game in the 1990s. I spent thirty seconds with the customs guy, told him why I was there, and off I went. A guest for the day. 

Why was I there?  Why am I anywhere really? Well, on this day, it was to golf. No shenanigans. Not to eat what I heard was quite delicious food. Not to be a tourist. Golf. 

Only one problem. I am not a member at Club Campestre de Tijuana (Tijuana Country Club). Shocking, I know. I also had no tee time. No clubs. No balls. Just blind ambition. 

3AE59A64-DFF2-44BA-8055-81F08CDA97B1But I did have passion, a kind smile, and I knew just enough Spanish to convince them to let me play. 

Everywhere I go, I want to play. The more off the beaten path, the better. The more challenging, the better.

E249F01D-2776-43BF-8196-42F35ED91691065C5EE2-6209-4978-AD31-0E514C92F7F6I played 36 holes at world renowned Torrey Pines on Tuesday (which was awesome), but CC de Tijuana is a much better story. 

I bargained for everything along the way. The first cab driver wanted $12. We settled on $10 (converted to pesos of course). He wanted to, how shall I say, interest me in other services. We settled on golf. 

The security guard at the club looked at me skeptically as I entered the premises, but my dark skin and dark beard seemed to appease him. After getting the okay to proceed, the golf shop first wanted $100, then $130, so we settled right in the middle. 

They had a set of left handed clubs to offer me, but I am not left handed. The right handed clubs were too nice, so they needed some collateral until I returned them. My drivers license seemed to please them. 

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Once we were all settled, I basically had this lush, green paradise in the heart of urban Tijuana to myself. I didn’t catch another golfer until hole 16, at which time I was parched. I wanted a Mexican Coca Cola (real sugar cane), but opted instead for a Tecate Roja from the cart guy. I carefully wiped off all water droplets from the bottle and insisted on a fresh solo cup to avoid a repeat of the great Mexico City Blowout of 2018.

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I finished a pleasant round, thanked my gracious hosts, got my drivers license back, and then headed for the exit gate. 

I guess random Americans don’t walk into their club every day, as even the exit guard asked me what the hell I was doing. 

“Golf” I said smiling. I mimicked a swing. “Golf. Y muchas gracias por tu hospitalidad.”

That seemed to please him, and before I knew it, I was back on the streets of Tijuana looking for a cab. 

I found one close by at a Tijuana hotel which I managed to secure even though I was not a guest there. The driver  was a friendly 70 year old man, as much a tour guide as simply a taxi driver. He wanted $8. I insisted on $10. 

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We spoke of the enchanting land that is Tijuana. Part Mexican border city. Part haven for nutty American tourists.  At every random wall that we passed along the drive, he would point and say “wall”, and we would giggle together.  

He finally asked me why I was here, and I told him “to golf and to just explore.” He looked at me quizzically and said “Why here?”  I shrugged my shoulders and simply said, “Because this is what I love to do.”

Have a great week.-Benj

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It Ain’t About Pants

It’s been an interesting two weeks around these parts. I officially became houseless. I slept in my childhood home for a few nights, using a bed and shower that was made for 10 year old me, not 36 year old me. I haven’t seen my son in person in 14 days, though we FaceTime about every 12 seconds. And I am sitting here now with Christy, in California, mulling over walking into Tijuana on Monday and then definitely playing 36 holes at Torrey Pines on Tuesday. 

4941FA75-1BD6-42C7-8503-175DF4437577It’s unusual, isn’t it? Weird? Against the grain? Risky? Outside the box? And yet, no one has ever been happier. Christy is living her childhood dream, spending ever more hours with our son, eating dinner with her parents, and generally feeling free. Banks is thriving at his new school, happy, loved, curious, and missing his dad I hear (30 more days, son. Like he is reading this?). And me, well, I’m on fire. 

May 2017- After weeks of excruciating thought some almost two years ago, the name “anything but khakis” came to me like a meteor crashing into Earth. It described my take on fashion perfectly, but little did I know that it would also be the perfect phrase for how I believe life should be lived. Intentional. Passionate. A little weird. A little wild. anything but khakis ®️. 

It was aspirational.  Lots of people talk a big game. Could it be done? Could the vision and the subsequent work really make dreams come true? What exactly were the dreams? How could everyone be included? How could everyone become free?

Back to today. If you ask me my address, I don’t have one to give you. If you ask me what I do for a living in 30 days, the answer will be nothing. If you ask me if I am happy and if you ask the people around me if they are happy, you will just get a big smile. 

The world has a way of making us point fingers at everyone but ourselves. The world has a way of making us feel selfish for taking the risk to have a dream and follow through with it instead of being bound by societal norms. The world has a way of making us feel weird if we don’t conform to exactly what everyone else is doing. 

I have felt this way for many years, but to avoid being just another talking head and to avoid feeling stuck for the rest of my life, I finally sought out to do it. 

Step 1 is almost complete. What WAS step 1? Completely change my life, obvi. If someone now asks me my credentials, I can look them in the eyes and say I have done it. No theories. No hypotheses. I have completely transformed my life. Took 21.5 months.  Been there. Done that. Documented it every step of the way. 

Friends, we are roughly a month away from abk taking an exciting new turn. In the meantime, I will offer my final thoughts and takeaways of quite an extraordinary journey that I hope will help you in yours. 

But today, I simply want to say one thing. It’s been killing me for months now. So here goes. I don’t give a shit if you wear khaki pants. Like, not one iota. No one does. Some are actually quite nice. 

But they are safe, and completely changing my life was the complete opposite of being safe, so the name fits perfectly. 

What I do want is for you to know that an intentional, purposeful life is out there for you. Even if it looks weird as hell. Especially if it looks weird as hell. I’m doing it, come Hell or high water, and I’ve never felt more alive. 

anything but khakis ®️- Benj

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Valentine’s Day with Dave Chappelle

Well. Week 1 of couch surfing and living out of my car was an exciting, if not inconvenient, success. If you exclude formal travel, I bet you I drove more this week than I did during the entire past 2 years. And what a week it was for the city of Charlotte, one that no matter where I was sleeping, I was not going to miss. 

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NBA All Star 2019 was here, an event that combined sports, fashion, diversity, current issues, celebrities and immense excitement. Ever since I was a kid, All Star Saturday Night was must see TV. There are lots of people in NC that poo poo the NBA, but for me, I absolutely love it. 

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It started 2 Saturdays ago at noon, as I called the Belk Theater box office 33 times and refreshed the website over 50 times to somehow snag 2 tickets to Dave Chappelle’s last minute show on Valentine’s Day. Since my Valentine was 1000 miles away, Mr. Chappelle would have to do. Decent way to start the festivities, having dinner with my pal Jim, watching Dave kill it, and then feeling the excitement start to build as we walked around uptown after the show. 

DE9835DD-B289-4747-B867-73A64532CEC1I spent Friday night with my brother in law Jonathan, as the uptown Charlotte atmosphere intensified. He humored my shoe fetish as we were able to sneak into the House of Hoops pop up, where amongst other cool things, we were able to see Nike’s new shoes that you digitally tie via your phone. Mind blown. 

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We could have meandered all night, but instead chose to go ahead into the arena and catch our seats for Friday night’s Rising Stars game, where the top 19 and 20 year old NBA stars faced off against each other in what essentially was a pickup game dunk contest. Some hate that style, but I love it. It’s just loose, chill, and a ton of fun. 

The NBA is one of the great contributors to the global fashion scene right now, and so there were fashion pop ups and events everywhere across town. There were 2, specifically, that I wanted to hit. 

Saturday, it was the Meshika Hats All Star Pregame event at Tabor. And Sunday, it was the NBA Style Forum at the Tissot Style Lounge. I’ve made some friends over at Tabor, so I popped in, had a chat, and looked over the hats. It was time to raise the hat game even higher, and this paint splattered navy one was the ticket. Absolutely no doubt. 

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I wasn’t initially going to rock it Sunday, but well, I did. And I’m glad I did, because it started a conversation with Houston Rockets player and reigning NBA Style God PJ Tucker. 

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I had grabbed my pal Junior to join me, and after an hour long wait in the cold, we got into the Style Forum event. Featured were a top NBA stylist, PJ Tucker, music producer and professor 9th Wonder, and a prominent sneaker blogger. I love this stuff. It is its own culture. Its own world. PJ rocks a new pair of shoes one night, throws it on Instagram, and it literally moves the needle worldwide. Cool freaking panel though. Smart. Friendly. Articulate. Awesome way to end the weekend. 

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As I reflected on a weekend that mesmerized me via television every year, how was it in person?  Even though this weekend was about mindless entertainment, fun, and other shenanigans, I just can’t turn off the curiosity and learning button in my head. Being around one of the greatest comedians in the world, the greatest NBA stars in the world, one of the most stylish players on the planet, the newest technologies, the best rappers, and wild hats galore. It just never gets old to immerse yourself within the best. To just soak it in. Observe. Listen. You never know if that is the world you may eventually find yourself in. 

And just like that, it was over. Charlotte, back to normal. Well, other than the fact I don’t live there any more. 

Have a great week.-Benj

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Bonding in the Bayou

I think it is important for every dad to have a “thing” with his son.  You know, a “thing”.  A weekly golf outing, a favorite TV show, something.  For me and my son, who turned 4 today, it was Charlotte Hornets games.  We went to our last two games last week before he and Christy leave Charlotte for good tomorrow (I’m following soon.) LA Clippers last Tuesday and Chicago Bulls last Saturday.  And please, let me tell you about last Saturday.

61B892F7-B635-484E-AF69-B97621CA3490We had company in town, and the day was jam packed.  Volleyball games, swim lessons, lunch, a play, packing, naps, etc.  I asked Banks earlier that morning if he wanted to go to the game, and per usual, the answer changed about 11 times throughout the day.  Then, about 6:25pm, he said he definitely wanted to go.  Mind you, tipoff was at 7pm.  Indecision, nay, spontaneity at its best.

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How StubHub can still require paper tickets in 2019 is beyond me, but here is basically what the next hour looked like.  Order tickets, drive to office to print them, printer and laptop required a Saturday night update, Banks needed to go to the bathroom, finally got printer working, printed tickets, walked to game, sat down in seats, Banks immediately went to sleep.(If you really know me, can you see my reaction to all of this?)

B711588A-80FA-4803-A855-F7F0FD3D1630Well good.  That was $70 and a little bit of madness well spent.  Glad the young boy had a first class seat to take a nice, cozy nap.  It took me a second, but I finally said to myself, you know what, this is what life is about.  Relax and enjoy the night.

He took about an hour and a half nap, half in his seat and half in my arms.  I loved it, myself dozing in and out of consciousness to the game and thinking about how much I was going to miss this.  If you know anything about the NBA, you know I could have napped during the first 3 quarters too and not missed a thing.  But the 4th quarter is a different story.

Banks woke up, raring to go, hyped, needing a drink, and ready to cheer for the Hornets.  The packed arena livened up, and our man Kemba Walker (Banks’ “boy”) pulled the team through to a nice Saturday night W.  I had purposefully splurged on these tickets, knowing this wouldn’t happen again for a long time.  And after all that riff raff earlier, it became so worth it.  After the game, we were able to shimmy down a few rows to the Hornets tunnel and watch the players walk by as they left the floor.  I held Banks in my arms, pointed at Kemba, and told him to look.

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Some 10 feet away was All-Star Kemba Walker, and as Banks realized that, he turned to me with magic in his eyes.  I will never forget that.  He got giddy, waved, and told him good game, and then we talked about it the entire way home.

I welled up a little as I wrote this.  It was our thing for about a year, and it is no more.  But on the other hand, there is lots of adventure ahead, and we are sure to find our new thing.

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He spent exactly 4 years in Charlotte, he had a great birthday, and he leaves with mom tomorrow.

A66944D1-B3BA-47D8-87A3-77E2633BEE20But good news. Once I arrive in about 45 days, Hornets at Pelicans on April 3.  Won’t quite be the same, but that’s exactly the point. 

Have a great week.-Benj

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Keep It Moving

In the past two years, roughly, these have been the destinations. LA and Destin. Kansas City and St. Louis. Mississippi and Miami. Atlanta and Nashville. Montana and Wyoming. Salt Lake City and Italy. NYC and Cleveland. New Orleans and Virginia. West Virginia and Kentucky.  Indiana and DC. Baltimore and Dallas. Orlando and Mexico City. Baton Rouge and Houston. South Carolina and Iceland. Vegas and back to Atlanta. Back to NYC, Cleveland, Mississippi, and New Orleans. And to every beach town, mountain town, and small town in North Carolina it seems. 

And in between, a house and a “regular” job in Charlotte, NC. This week, I am here to tell you that those two pieces, those two constants, effective very shortly, shall be no more. 

We will celebrate Banks’ 4th birthday next Sunday, February 10, and then the next day, Christy and he will head towards greener pastures, or shall I say bluer waters, where I will join them in some 45 days. 9BF86D68-2B81-4E5B-9FAB-92F6A3C5B5E9In the meantime, I will say farewell to clients, colleagues, family, friends, and the only state I have resided in for almost 37 years. 

It’s time to turn the volume up. It’s time for a bona fide adventure. Not just every third or fourth week. Every. Single. Day. It’s time for a fresh start, a clean slate, armed with a clear understanding of self and with literally the entire world awaiting with open arms. 

I was raised rural. I went to college in the mountains. I have lived my adult life both suburban and very urban. All I have left is the water, so here we come. 

C7783B07-11B3-4E58-81BB-738743F28FEFWhen I ran my first marathon two years ago, my mate Vinny told me that most runners are either running towards something or away from something. That statement refused to leave my head. Was I traveling all over God’s green earth to get away from something, or was I just that interested in what the great big world had to offer? Well, great news, it was the latter. Full steam ahead. 

Is it gonna be scary? Meh. Different? Yeah. Exciting? Hell yes. But let’s not skip the next few weeks, okay? A farewell tour of sorts is building in my head. Really just to acknowledge and thank all of the wonderful people that helped mold the guy that finally, after almost 37 years, understands and accepts himself, though the journey is still just beginning. Maybe I’ll see you soon…

Have a great week.-Benj

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