This. Is. Cameron.

8500E44A-AD7D-4E20-9F55-5F60C54A0907Let’s be honest. I love sports. And I’ve had the great pleasure in my life to experience some pretty damn cool stuff. 

5185637A-2C38-48DD-A1B5-D61BA2F74584 I’ve kicked field goals at Cowboys Stadium. I’ve kissed the bricks at Indy Motor Speedway.

3CBC869E-6A3D-4C75-89AE-01A50FC9EBD7 I’ve run the NYC Marathon twice. I’ve almost been detained (honest mistake) at Wembley Stadium in London. I’ve watched a beautiful sunset at the magnificent Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. I’ve sat pitch side at San Siro in Milan.

1867E2C3-6B0F-4507-B59B-06AE0C27CE51I’ve played Hazeltine National months before the Ryder Cup. I’ve watched the Knicks at MSG and the Lakers at Staples.

CFFEAF80-F98C-4C25-974D-9F2AC897F4C1I went to old Yankees Stadium multiple times, and Wrigley, Churchill Downs, and the old Boston Garden just to visit.

48E90D7C-556A-4DF3-952D-DC48CC33625C I’ve seen Beckham, Zlatan, Kobe, Lebron, Tiger, and Phil play in person, and I’ve played Roy Williams one on one in basketball. I’ve been to The US Open and PGA Championship, and I’ve watched, steps away, as Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler inexplicably hit back to back hole in ones at Augusta. 

CDAAA2BB-F628-4F87-BE08-B65172891701

But nothing, I mean nothing, quite compares to Cameron Indoor Stadium. I had the pleasure of going for the fifth time this week with my buds, so let me take you on a little trip. 

Imagine you arrive in a town that, until recently, was as nondescript as the day is long. Then, as you meander closer to campus, you remember the world class hospital and university that is the entire reason you are there. After parking a mile away, you wander through campus, passing folks that may indeed change the world some day.

714C0C92-2C7E-4BF6-A28D-7772C39B7AF4You snag a peek at the sun setting over the Duke Chapel. Then, you turn the corner and find yourself in Krzyzewskiville, the unspellable area right outside of Cameron.  On this night, it was empty as students had gone home for the holidays. As you look at Cameron from the outside, you wonder if you are looking at a church, a high school gymnasium, or a place that is at the top of every sports fan’s bucket list.

A1680548-AB0F-4E1D-BBCD-477CD188B1BCAs you enter, you tell yourself that you have arrived, even though you have arrived on four previous  occasions. You can’t wait for the loudspeakers to play “Every Time We Touch” pregame as the crowd will go insane. You may or may not have been singing that to yourself all morning. You scout out Zion immediately, wondering what insane dunk he may throw down in warmups. On this night, it’s not about the game. Later in January and February, oh, it will be about the game.

41CC2637-5965-4668-89A0-C1072B19FBBABut tonight, you sing, you dance, and you fist bump your boys, thankful for 35 year friendships. Imagine one of said friends used to work in Cameron, so he can get you down on the floor after the game, where you linger until it is just you and the players.

7D8BD2FC-E3B4-4949-9830-84D547E4E2E3And then you walk back out into the cold, dark night wondering how in the hell three regular dudes from Wingate just spent a normal Tuesday night on the floor at one of the great sporting cathedrals in the world. 

F253E883-C768-4AB1-8200-816330A30F9BGod, I love this stuff, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Just please don’t invite me to the Dean Dome. I have absolutely no interest.  

Have a great week, and Happy Holidays!-Benj

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The Non-Traditional Tradition

Last week’s piece was called The Cleveland Tradition: Year 2.  About a month prior, the piece was called The Greatest Race in the Greatest Place: Volume 2.  Previous to that, I wrote about the 3rd annual fall mountain trip with my family and my sister’s family.  And previous to that, I wrote about the 2nd golf go-round with my boys from Alabama, Wyoming (MIA this year and this year only), and Iowa. 

A130208D-BF5A-4119-8F15-615AAC568FF4Having said all that, I am not a tradition guy, which shouldn’t be surprising coming from someone who wrote “Variety is the Spice of Life”.  Well, let me rephrase that.  If a tradition evokes meaning, emotion, excitement, etc., let’s do it.  If it is tradition just for tradition sake, I have a hard time with it.  It’s the perfect time of year to think about this because the holiday season is Tradition Central.  What are yours?  Are they awesome? Have some lost their luster?

EEC0E35C-BAB2-45D9-B7B9-FEEA1B3C24BAWhen people have kids, I notice that the traditions start to shift.  Many people want their children to wake up at their own house to Santa Claus, which I respect immensely.  I have fond memories of that as a child myself.  So it made me wonder, does it make sense to review your traditions during the rest of the year? And I’ll be damn, I’ve already been doing it (refer to paragraph 1).

One of the key taglines of abk is “Own your life story.”  It’s hard to do that when you are borrowing traditions from the past that may not be relevant anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, many traditions are awesome and should stay.  Many, even if you don’t personally love them, should be respected.  But you have to fuel you.  You know, these unique things that are specific to you, your family, and friends that others might not understand, but who cares?

IMG_4242Like an annual trip to Cleveland in December.  Check.  Like an annual running of the NYC Marathon (health permitting).  Check.  Like an annual mountain trip with my sister and her family.  Check.  Like annual golf shenanigans with the boys all over the US.  Check. These, my friends, take real, active effort.  Sometimes fitting a square peg in a round hole. But these, my friends, are 4 of my absolute favorite things I now do every year.

I am excited about making more.  Until recently, my extended family did an annual family beach week at different beaches in the Southeast US.  Maybe that will return.  Christy and I have taken Banks to 11 different states in his young life.  Maybe we will ensure he sees 3-5 new places each year.  I thoroughly enjoy being involved and raising money every year now for The Arthritis Foundation and One Day One Dog, the annual fundraising day for Wingate University.  And I love playing Cards Against Humanity at Christmas time, laughing hysterically and learning how different people’s minds work. 

It can be simple stuff. Maybe it is church on Christmas Eve?  Maybe it is an annual trip with the girls?  An annual trip with the boys?  An annual personal challenge?  Bucket list stuff?  Visiting your parents monthly or quarterly?  I could go on and on and on.

C9E18DEC-DCFE-4607-942E-304EAE9F048D“Life can get in the way”, but it doesn’t have to.  These things that are important to you and your loved ones? Re-focus. Don’t be afraid to start a new tradition today.  Don’t be embarrassed if it is something not mainstream like going to Cleveland in December as those can be some of the best.5D3AE3F9-8339-420E-91BA-2BADC263D71D

I am well aware that these new traditions I have helped start or am a part of recently will likely evolve in the future. But that’s okay. I just never want to get to where I am doing something to satisfy the word “tradition”, and it has just become same ole, same ole. 

B8D2E974-C4E9-4F0E-BD58-D96435FD7743Right on cue, Christy and I took Banks to PF Chang’s for a Christmas dinner tonight. One of Christy’s traditions that she introduced years ago was that after any Asian meal, we open fortune cookies from oldest to youngest and read to everyone. So I read mine, which was nothing special, and then she read hers, which was the same. And finally it was Banks turn, who as a reminder, is 3 years old. His read, “This month, your financial risks will payoff.”  I was a couple of sangrias deep, and I just busted out laughing. 

As usual, I learned something. It is important to actively own your life story, but also to keep an open mind to others’ stories and traditions. Because they might just make your night. 

Have a great week.- Benj

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The Cleveland Tradition: Year 2

“Panthers lose, again.”- yesterday

EDF1F104-2D01-4F5C-B5BF-34D51BE0D6FCIt all started months ago when the 2018 NFL opponents were announced. The Carolina Panthers, my heart and soul, would be playing at the Cleveland Browns, my childhood team, for the first time in ages. Very quickly, my co-worker, pal, and Cleveland native Jim and I devised an ingenious idea (aren’t they all) to turn this into a bona fide event. It would be huge. Everyone would want to come. We’d fill a bus, an RV, a plane even and make it a grand old time. 

B3A85165-CE15-4A90-87FA-37D0A80AE4FCAnd then the date was announced: Sunday, December 9. Have you ever been to First Energy Stadium on the shores of Lake Erie on Sunday, December 9?  If you recall, my friend Ras and I went last year to Packers at Browns this exact same weekend, and to summarize in one short phrase, “it gets cold.”

Regarding the trip, people dropped like flies. And then more people dropped like flies. And then the Panthers dropped out of contention like flies. And then there was just Jim and me. And we didn’t drop like flies. Because we are nuts. 

ED53CFED-C699-47E3-9FD3-4983E342BC68I couldn’t take the losing anymore. Getting embarrassed in prime time by the Steelers. Looking lost in the Motor City. Letting Russell Wilson run riot. And then letting Tampa Bay, yes Tampa Bay, possibly end our season. I watched all of this on television and felt myself growing quite annoyed. Uncomfortable even. Helpless. 

BBD6C9AC-F498-46B1-9675-26A3B6E29531So this past weekend it was do or die. If the door remained slightly cracked at 6-6, we needed to go bust some ass. And I wanted to be a part of it. No more watching on television. No more Section 300. Get on a plane. Enjoy downtown Cleveland. And then Row 2, Visitors Sideline. I needed to talk to the boys. 

I, by definition, am not a party animal. Jim, well, he likes to have a good time. So we decided, his town, his rules. We arrived Friday night ravenous after a brief layover in Chicago. Luckily, one of Cleveland’s best restaurants, Urban Farmer, was adjacent to our hotel, and we decided to partake.  I splurged, trying wagyu beef, rabbit, and octopus possibly for the first time.

DD2B6013-D3DC-4F30-B1A1-E94A3E376430Afterwards, I couldn’t move, but Jim’s rules do not allow for not moving, so off we went to Bar 32 at the top of the Hilton hotel. Being the season, there were Christmas parties everywhere, and the mood was quite lively. And when it was time to change scenes, he took me to Society Lounge on East 4th Street, an underground (literally) Prohibition Era speakeasy kind of place. And that is where Friday ended.

9D1D131E-B42E-434C-8631-B40346895CE3I do have one rule that I insist on implementing everywhere I go. To see a city, we walk. One mile. Three miles. 26 miles. I don’t care. It is the best way to experience a place, especially some of the  nooks and crannies off of the beaten path. 

1247918F-0635-4F93-A271-FBCC467CFF47So Saturday, we walked.  To The Warehouse district, The Flats, Ohio City, and along the Cuyohoga River. To the West Side Market, Soho Chicken+Whiskey, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and The Harbor Inn, established in 1895.

E1E10106-F641-414E-B509-40DA38AD1D27We stumbled upon Krush, The Nauti Mermaid, and Johnny’s Little Bar, best burger in town for the past 62 years. We hit the Cavs Wizards game at The Q, and then finished the night in the very cool Tremont neighborhood (Uber unfortunately required) for a little late night drink and pizza. 

3AC69585-6A75-4BAD-BF29-22D55F76CBCDAs quickly as people dropped like flies prior to the trip, miraculously, new ones started appearing. We hung with Jim’s friend Amy on Saturday night and Sunday. My friend/ex next door neighbor/travel mate/Cleveland area native Ras showed up with his family and friends. The Wingate University swim coach and family friend Kirk amazingly appeared in my hotel lobby Saturday afternoon, and then obviously a smattering of Panthers fans dotted the town all weekend. 

2E1DD872-A0C6-4423-A0DE-A75978D340AAFinally, Sunday. The purpose of the trip. Bringing the positive energy so the Panthers would get that much needed W. Well, so much for that, huh? But for the second year in a row, what a wonderful, wonderful experience. I wore Panthers gear all weekend, and the natives were quite welcoming. It got a little hostile in the 3rd and 4th quarters on Sunday at the stadium, but man did they love poking at me after Cam threw that last interception. 

5BF6532E-1555-49BF-ABF9-15AFAFBB9346We were scheduled to fly home Sunday evening, but as you may know, NC experienced the great whiteout of 2018 that cancelled all flights back to Charlotte. Have you ever heard me say, “there is a solution to every problem”?  Well, my man Ras came through, and we hitched a ride home via his SUV and arrived safely in the wee hours of Monday morning. 

Well good. A quite thoughtful, intentional lifestyle is coming together. For those following along, we have NYC Marathon every first Sunday in November. And now, it’s a bona fide thing, we have Cleveland every second weekend in December. It ain’t sexy, but man, it’s a ton of fun!  And you just never know who or what you might see. 

D7590FCB-97DD-45A6-95F7-469128CB8FD9Have a great week.- Benj

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Turning Fantasy Into Reality

“Ralph Lauren is NOT my favorite designer.”- me, earlier this week 

085E0AB8-9F4C-4836-9C1A-7A80BA1CE2D1Ralph Lauren, the company, celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this fall.  Every publication that I read is honoring him (rightfully so), and it got me seriously thinking what impact he has had on my love for style.

A77C9073-1ED3-4049-A439-B06358C3FF33Ralph Lauren, through the myriad of brands within the company, embodies every corner of the American dream and American style.  

As a teenager, the ability to get my hands on a Polo shirt greatly excited me, but truthfully, that was just marketing doing its job.  Being young and impressionable, the cool, pretty people on TV and in magazines had them, so sign me up.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties probably that I fell in love.  While reading my vast array of fashion magazines, I stumbled across Ralph Lauren Purple Label, the best of the best in the RL empire.  I was immediately smitten by the beauty of the label.  Not the brand, the actual label that was sewn into the clothes.  It was purple, smooth, and gorgeous, and I wanted to know more.

3CCF142E-5294-4F32-9BCD-FD562955DE66I loved the label, but I hated the price, especially at that age. The pieces were exorbitantly priced, reflecting the quality of the craftsmanship and the lifestyle it was meant to represent.  Not one to be deterred, I went on a mission, one which started maybe ten years ago and continues today. The basic jist is this:  Ralph Lauren Purple Label items are like art to me, and if can ever find one at value, I strongly consider the investment.  Not the purchase, the investment.

D83A2F8A-A166-40C2-A1C8-E0554E6583CBAs of today, I have six Purple Label pieces: a light purple cashmere sweater, an outrageous “Geezer” golf tie, 2 dress shirts, cashmere gloves, and my most favorite piece in my wardrobe, a cognac colored alligator belt.  Each piece is quite spectacular and comes with a spectacular story, but none quite as much as the belt.

1308479C-5490-476E-A1A4-F3C810FDB79EHere it is.  It stood out to me immediately in the Ralph Lauren outlet store some 10 years ago, looking totally different from all of the other items. It retailed for roughly $1600, I believe, and had been marked down to a fourth of that. It was a quite exquisite piece, one that I knew I wanted in my closet. I told myself that if it ever got under $200, I would buy it. So I visited the store multiple times and watched and watched it for the better part of 3 months, with a scare one month when I couldn’t find it. But it was there, and it finally got below $200, and I purchased this beautiful piece of art which I now wear all the time. (I honestly don’t know if it is a man’s or woman’s belt, but as you should know by now, I do not care.)

EE3832FC-5A2C-4E90-92B1-0F48854A532AThe great thing about the brand is that it is so expansive that it introduces you to a zillion different worlds. It’s all a bit of fantasy, but with some exploration, it can absolutely become reality.  If you have ever been to a RL store or studied an advertisement, it introduces you to a lifestyle that might be of interest to you: the posh English countryside (not interested), the Hamptons (curious), prepster central (definitely not), street culture (fascinated), formal (not anymore), out West (absolutely).

7DB649BD-A3A1-4C8B-B067-D46FD1208DA9Speaking of, ever since I personally visited Wyoming, Montana, and Utah, I have been in love.  And though I do not own any RRL “western” pieces yet, I am so fascinated with the stereotypical western lifestyle: big cowboy hat, boots, denim, at one with nature, able to see the landscape for days, cold beer in hand.  It’s one of the facets of America that I have grown to appreciate so much in my travels. In the same way that each RL sub-brand has its own vibe, every American town/city has its own way of life, culture, and values. As a bit of a wanderer, I get to observe, listen, and take it in. And even if it isn’t for me or I don’t understand, I have grown to appreciate it.

24453B49-5C64-4033-802F-C12C46113FDBAs I wrote this piece, I went through my closet and old “fashion blog” pictures and pinpointed every Ralph Lauren item I own. Damn, there are some good ones. Almost every outfit I wear contains at least one piece: the pinstripe double breasted suit, the American flag jacket, the olive cashmere suit, the red plaid Christmas pants, the vest, the tattered jeans, and even the rain boots. 

0BD52D26-2F5C-4013-AF29-D29D1D8D8E76Suffice it to say that Mr. Lauren, just a normal guy from the Bronx, has surely surpassed his wildest dreams, those dreams that he continues to convey to us normal folks through his brand, lifestyle, and clothes. What’s your dream? What are you doing about it?  Oooh, and what are you wearing whilst doing it?

F3523AAA-0CE5-4A92-B70B-D0A14801F4C0I’ve got a lot of dreams, I’ve been doing a ton of work, and I’m making some good progress. And while I’m doing all of this, I’m apparently always wearing at least one piece of Ralph Lauren. 

F249CE86-AFD7-403D-8A73-9FB8CCCE1622

“Ralph Lauren may be my favorite designer.”-me, corrected 

Have a great week.-Benj

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Giving Thanks, Letting Go, and Helping Out

“I can’t explain everything, but with a little perspective and a good attitude, something great will oftentimes come from something bad.”-abk

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, friends, football, food, fun, and anything else that starts with the letter “f”.  I had a busy week full of frivolity and things to be grateful for, but per usual, I would like to take a little different slant on the topic this week.

I read something this week that said “nobody is posting failures”, so it looks like everyone just has this glamorous life.  Thanksgiving Day certainly enhances that.  Your family is better than mine.  Your turkey is bigger than mine.  It makes me giggle, but more importantly, got me thinking.

AEBBBEBD-A09E-4D6E-8A2A-20B9771BB139You know what I am thankful for?  Not getting picked for the All-Star baseball team when I was a kid.  Being told I wasn’t good enough to start for the soccer team my freshman year of college.  Having season-ending knee surgery said freshman year and then again my sophomore year, which forced me to walk on crutches up mountains for the better part of two years.  I am thankful that, in high school, my parents made me drive a 1980s baby blue Mercury Grand Marquis that was bigger than some actual boats.  I am thankful that I have arthritis, yes, thankful.  I am thankful that later in college, my coach benched me, leading scorer and all, when I was acting like a baby and not the leader I should have been. I am thankful that I weathered serious dust-ups with teammates who have now become great friends.   I am thankful for all of the business deals that I did not win, and all of the ballgames that I flat out lost.  I am thankful for the time that my dad took me down to the gas station on Providence Road after I lost a tennis match and wore me out, not because I lost, but because I gave up.

FA45111D-2A39-4DAE-934E-83B00AE2BE9FWhy am I so thankful for the things above?  Three primary reasons.  One, I have personally experienced so much good and so much growth from something “bad”, it reminds me now that when a setback occurs, be patient and wait for the good.  Two, having these experiences turns minor issues into nonexistent ones and major issues into minor setbacks.  Three, celebrate the good.  Unbelievably, that last one is the hardest for me, but I’m getting better.

Because I am so passionate about living life and do so much each day, I have a zillion stories like these.  Some are as simple as the above, and some are rather complex.  But the reason I tell you this is because failures/”bad things”/losses have provided me with the thing I am absolutely most thankful for, and that is perspective.  For someone who certainly has NOT seen it all, sometimes I feel like I have.

I used to take these failures and use them as “I’ll show you” fuel.  No more.  That has grown quite tired.  I’ve learned over the past few years that possessing such perspective at a young age is a huge asset, so I now just use it to try and help other people as well as better myself.  Not sexy.  Just true.  And an odd byproduct has come from this.  Peace.

Do you find yourself angry, upset, or annoyed by someone or something?  Have you taken the time to explore why?  Can you draw on certain “bad” experiences in your life to bring perspective?  I’ve been focused on this daily for the better part of two years, and I can now almost do it subconsciously.

I reminded you last week that life is not fair, as taught to me early by my father.  I have just told you that with a positive frame of mind, failures can quickly become huge assets.  I’ve simply bundled these ideas internally to provide perspective, peace, and calm.  What’s the result?  I can honestly say as I sit here that I do not have an ounce of animosity to anyone or anything.  Instead of “I’ll show you”, it’s “I’ll help you”, and that feels so much better.

And every day, not just Thanksgiving, I give thanks.  And I would encourage you to do the same.

Have a great week.-Benj

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Positive Vibes Only, Please

“Some of us have great runways already built for us.  If you have one, take off.  But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”-Amelia Earhart

61CF4C57-2926-425D-8F74-EF10ED8AA8AAOver the past two weeks, I have had the privilege of hearing two excellent speakers at two excellent events.  The first was the legendary Lou Holtz: football coach, football analyst, and motivational speaker.  The second was Dr. Ilham Kadri, President and CEO of Diversey, and a quite extraordinary woman. Both terrific speakers, they blasted out so much good information I had to pull out my phone to take notes.  I’ve pared down the notes into my favorite tidbits, which will serve as the backbone to this week’s piece.

7B0FE2E7-2B07-4313-9187-03A61C2287DD

First, three key points from Lou Holtz with my commentary:

1.       “You can’t fool yourself.”  This quote really hit me on my current journey for self-mastery.  You can put on your game face for the outside world, for social media, etc., but only you really know if you are being true to yourself.  Are you doing what you want with your life?  Are you putting in the work?  Are you taking shortcuts?  Are you making the impact you want on this world?  This is where the titles and the headlines and the pay grades go away.  Are you being true to yourself?

2.       “Don’t criticize the performer.  Criticize the performance.”  We all make mistakes.  We all come up short sometimes.  Behave poorly.  Don’t give 100%.  I know I have.  Doesn’t make me a bad person.  Doesn’t make you a bad person.  Analyze what happened, why it happened, and learn from it.  Move on.

3.       “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why you are born.”-Mark Twain, I believe.  There’s doing what you want with your life (point # 1), and then there is finding your purpose.  How can you help others?  Find your purpose, or let your purpose find you.  It’s out there.  Be patient.  It will come.

288929D3-D3A2-4052-BEAF-4E8128440EAD

Next, three key points from Dr. Kadri with my commentary:

1.       “Never stop learning.  Be curious.  Respect knowledge more than money.”  Do you travel?  Do you read voraciously?  Do you seek out people smarter than you?  Do you have a mentor?  Do you take initiative?  Do you realize that money is simply a tool and that knowledge can create real fulfillment?

2.       “Get to know yourself.”  This seems to be cropping up everywhere these days, from self-help gurus to motivational speakers to business executives to anything but khakis writers.  It always makes me giggle a little, because it sounds so easy, yet so few people are truly doing it.  People worried about this, that, and the other, but haven’t had a come to Jesus with themselves.  A strong argument can be made that I found myself at age 34, though I continue the diligent pursuit daily.

3.       The above Amelia Earhart quote.  I don’t worry too much (at all) about people who are handed things in life.  Life isn’t fair, and that’s that.  I fall into the second category, and I grind daily with that shovel trying to build something meaningful.  You want an empire?  A case of money?  Happiness?  Purpose?  Grab a shovel.  Runways don’t build themselves.

3C272AC7-BBEC-403F-84EF-C58B5E0C3E9E

These two events were very, very different in scope, but had one primary similarity. The differences were fairly surface level. Lou Holtz and the Charlotte Touchdown Club drew a 90%  male audience. Dr. Kadri and the Charlotte Athena Awards drew a 90% female audience (shout out to Christy, young professional of the year nominee!). But the one similarity is what I want to focus on: positive energy, and lots of it. Not rah rah…like real stuff. The women at the second event were unbelievably impressive. Philanthropists, inventors, Iron Women, authors, and on and on.  I was freaking hyped!  Glued to their every word. 

So what? Positive energy, that’s what.  It can change your life. These events were full of it. Life isn’t fair. It’s not fair that some people are born into wealth. It’s not fair that I have arthritis. I’m sure you have something that is unfair. Let’s get past that. I am very lucky that my parents taught me that very young, and that understanding has been a massive asset in my life. 

So do me one final favor. Google Dr. Ilham Kadri, a female born in 1960s Morocco and raised by a single grandparent. Read her story. It’s unbelievably inspiring. I’m writing my story. What’s yours?

Have a great week.-Benj

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From Central Park to Kill Devil Hills

“I get bored easily, and I hate to waste time.”-abk

20961F22-DB09-44E5-9BDF-E68F58D2FC05At 5:13pm last Sunday, I exited Central Park. My legs were wobbly, my heart was full, and I needed a ride. 

At 2:45am Monday morning, I awoke to my alarm at the uber cool Ace Hotel and headed to JFK to catch a flight straight to work in Charlotte. 

C9E18DEC-DCFE-4607-942E-304EAE9F048DOther than almost falling over a few times, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were normal days at the office. Wednesday night, my son Banks and I got to crash at my parents house, a convenient stop a little closer to the NC coast. On Thursday, I woke up early and worked remotely from Union County while Banks and my parents played, and then he and I headed out Thursday afternoon to meet my wife Christy, who was already working in the Outer Banks. 

Along the drive, we stopped in Raleigh for a chat with my brother. As the lengthy drive continued, Banks slept, and I had riveting conversations with my sister and a couple of good friends. 

We arrived just in time to have a lovely Asian/Caribbean dinner as a family and watch my Panthers get their asses whooped (speaking of wasting my time). So I promptly settled in and did some more work instead. 

3E0A927E-D323-44EE-9B41-51F00DEE8894On Friday, I awoke early to watch the sunrise, read, and then I took Banks for his first ever golf outing with daddy at Kilmarlic Golf Club. It went both better and worse than expected, with him making a few putts while also somehow losing a shoe. As his patience (and mine) wore thin, we finished, and I treated him to a big boy hot dog lunch in the clubhouse, where he just loved flirting with the waitresses. 

55C01A11-C20C-47E0-8BF6-2AF1FF119A2EWe returned back to the condo before momma finished working, and I caught the sun setting directly over the Wright Brothers Monument from the front porch. I felt like I was in Rio de Janeiro. Later that evening, Christy and I shared a unique pizza, had a drink, and then I slept for the first time in what felt like ages (I see you 2:45am Monday). 

BB66C3FF-BBA2-4EBC-9FE2-6D0DCCCEEBFAOn Saturday morning, we went as a family to the aquarium and saw the coolest white alligator, along with the usual stuff. 55A36883-988C-4625-8F20-8103FE50B81EWe then hit up downtown Manteo and Lost Colony Brewery for a beer, soup, and fried oyster po’ boy. 5D81A98E-30A8-466B-B260-70FC50277143I must admit to you something. I usually do not regret things or have FOMO or anything like that. But the new movie Bohemian Rhapsody was playing at this super old theater there that night, and I would have absolutely LOVED to have gone. 231A1461-F279-469E-A0C6-AD6BDA2E222CBut oh well, you can’t win them all. I then snuck out for a quick 18 at Nags Head Golf Links. Stunning. Simply stunning. C6E7C920-794C-485D-8848-468271580A06I breezed through a chilly round before having a beer in the clubhouse at sunset, a view that I will never forget. 

B441404C-AE53-4268-B7F3-7A4007005152Then it was movie time. What? No, not Bohemian Rhapsody. The Grinch (looking sharp) with the family which was fun, and then that was that. 91E2A538-C469-4B84-99B2-CB197DA646CCTo complete the circle of life, the OBX Marathon happened to be Sunday morning, so I woke early and tried to reciprocate all of the love I received in NYC last Sunday. 

739DB3AE-6B2D-4067-A55A-9B98021D05AFThis past week, I flew roughly 1300 miles, drove another 1000, and ran 26.2. Went to New York, Wingate, and the Outer Banks. Spent quality time with every member of my family in person minus my sister. Helped recruit some college kids to the bank, played a lot of golf, and watched one crappy ass football game. 

Have we made progress with being intentional with our time? Owning our own time instead of it owning us?  The only way that all of the work/play/work/play that I did this week (and every week) is possible is by being laser focused on my time. 

B82A882F-9FDE-415C-AA24-7E4AE6D238C0Where have I personally gotten better? Once I get to that race, appointment, meal, or wherever I am going, just taking off the watch and relaxing and enjoying. You know, at that point, not knowing that time even exists. 

Have a great week.- Benj

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