I have taken 15 separate trips in 2017. I’ve still got 1, maybe 2, to go. Some of the trips then had side trips. 20 states so far. 2 countries. Salt Lake City was my favorite. Wyoming and Montana were close seconds. Interestingly enough, Miami was my least favorite. I still had fun, but too much “me, me, me”. I may have to go to Los Angeles every year now. Loved it! NYC never disappoints. It feels like home to me. Traversing Northern Italy was my favorite adventure and provided some of the most picturesque landscapes I have ever seen. I snuck a peek at the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park on a plane, enough to whet my appetite to go back. You just read about my trip to Cleveland last week. (If you didn’t, go do it after this.) That’s just a small sampling.
I went to Cameron Indoor for Duke-NC State (not counting this as a trip). I gazed at the Hollywood sign from my hotel bed. I put my feet in the Pacific for the first time. I ate a sandwich beside Matt Ryan at The Beverly Hills Hotel. I sat behind Meghan Trainor on the floor at Lakers/Clippers. I ate the most insane watermelon dish in Miami. I had the best steak just off the campus of Ole Miss. Hattie B’s hot chicken in Nashville was outstanding, though not recommended before running a 10k. I rode jet skis in the Gulf of Mexico on my birthday. I launched this blog the day before. The best party I went to was in Atlanta. On a separate trip to ATL, my MLS experience at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium was incredible, even if I was sick as a dog. I climbed above Chimney Rock and looked out on the world. I rode a bicycle taxi on a Friday night in Times Square that was amazing. I be-bopped my way through Yellowstone National Park on my way to golf with the Grand Tetons as my backdrop. There’s so much more.
I met Dick from TRC, Meredith from Tabor, and the whole gang at Revolution in Charlotte. I met Jose at JJ Hat Center on Fifth Avenue. Ali at Nick Fouquet in Venice Beach. Shopped at Tom Ford and Hermes on Rodeo Drive. Wish in Atlanta. KITH in both NYC and Miami. Imogene + Willie in Nashville. Kiton in Venice, Italy. And Mike the Hatter in Cleveland. You want some style, check out these places, not the mall around the corner.
I helped raise almost $21,000 for Wingate Soccer and another $3,500 for the Arthritis Foundation. I mentored young bankers in St. Louis, and was a panelist for a Dress for Success event at my hometown Wingate University explaining the importance of how you present yourself. I wrote an article in the Charlotte Agenda that garnered 29,000 reads. I ran a 5k in Charlotte. A 10k in Nashville. A half marathon in Salt Lake City. And the NYC Marathon just last month.
Interestingly, the most challenging, uncomfortable two things I did were also the most rewarding. I repeat. Stop, and let that sink in. No risk. No discomfort. No reward. It’s simple. Stay in your comfort zone, and you will remain average. The writing of the Agenda article caused hundreds of people to come after me personally. It was very uncomfortable for about 3 days. In hindsight, I learned so much about myself and the way people think, and it made me even more confident in my unique beliefs. I hope to do another article soon. Similarly with all of the running. It hurt like hell, but I powered through, and it was one of the greatest literal journeys of my life.
I share all of this with you for a couple of reasons. I’ve always been a go-getter, but this year I really lived life. I learned so much about myself, how I want to live my life, and who I want to surround myself with. I learned that anything is possible if you take initiative. I learned that so many “rules” and “ideas” established in the past are not relevant in 2017. I learned to question everything I am now told along with everything I have been taught. (It sounds exhausting. It’s actually exhilarating.) I learned that life should be exciting, yet so many people are on the sidelines instead of in the game. Don’t be like all of your Facebook friends that do exactly the same thing, think exactly the same way, and complain about all the same topics. Be different. Use your unique gifts. Be you. Live passionately. Go a million miles a minute if you want. Don’t let the past define you. Be present, and go get what you want. Surround yourself with people who give you energy, not those who take it from you. And in turn, give more of yourself.
There is a lot of “I did this, I did that” above. But it’s not about me. I did some of these things by myself, but I did a ton with a variety of family, friends, and acquaintances. I met new people, I gained perspective, and I tried to help as many people as I possibly could. That’s what this blog is about. Not bragging about my lifestyle…trying to inspire others to go live. Pay attention man. The world has gotten ridiculously boring and mediocre. Everyone acts the same. Looks the same. Starts every email with the same sentence. Unbelievable. Get out of your comfort zone, and do your part. Everyone loses their mind about January 1 and New Year’s resolutions. What nonsense. Don’t wait ‘til then. Start now. Live passionately. Live stylishly. It’s time.
I came from Wingate, NC (population 3,689). My parents are teachers. We are not the Kennedys. I didn’t go to some fancy college. I make mistakes like everyone else, possibly more. And I have really freaking bad arthritis. If I can do it, anyone can. No more excuses. Consider yourself called out. I’ll tell you what I have on the docket for 2018 next week, and I sure hope you will join me in living life. Now I have to go finish 2017 strong!
Have a great week, and Happy Holidays!-Benj