There and Back Again: A Reflection

Flight DL300 touched down in Grand Rapids last night around 8:40 p.m. I got off the plane — it took off from Atlanta; I started in Orlando — then trekked home to greet the feline overlords and head to bed. The great thing about that ATL-GRR segment was the tranquility: I enjoyed an exit-row seat with no one next to me on the two-person side of the MD-88 aircraft. Plenty of space! But also room to unfold my Surface to take some notes. Some of which, are presented below in the form of a reflection.


NAHQ Board Meeting. This year, our board of directors convened for a destination meeting. We settled on Orlando, FL so we could partake in a “behind the magic” tour offered by the Disney Institute. Interesting experience: It’s a mix of a bus tour and a walking tour of parts of the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. It started at Textile Services, which is basically the commercial laundry for Disney Resorts. Huge. Efficient. And lots of the folks on the floor who saw us on the catwalk waved and smiled, which I guess is the Disney way. Then we went to Epcot and got to go “behind the scenes” at the places where cast members get their costumes and have their break rooms and such. Then off to the Magic Kingdom, which included a brief tour of Main Street inside the park as well as a chance to walk through parts of the Utilador — the “secret tunnel” under the Magic Kingdom that’s actually neither secret nor a tunnel. (You can’t dig into Florida swampland, so the 1.5-mile “tunnel” was actually built on a normal foundation and then it was buried, with the park built atop it.) All the while, our host kept inserting comments about Disney culture and process improvement, to help tour guests better understand the specific mechanisms of Disney’s commitment to operational excellence and guest satisfaction.

We stayed two nights at Boardwalk Inn, which — I must admit — was a great location.

Apart from the Disney Institute tour, we enjoyed 1.5 days of board meetings. These conversations have really solidified; Day One was mostly strategy, with the final half day focused on operations (budget, consent agenda). I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve settled on a really solid framework for setting program/service strategy for the next few years.

NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned in my last post, I ended the year with a moral victory but not a word-count victory. I am, however, eager to translate my experiences from this November into a more nuanced master plot-and-conflict timeline that I can weave into a better version of the original story.

Grand River Writing Tribe. As part of my general commitment to “rite moar gooder” I’m launching a writing group for authors serious about publication. Read more, and apply, on the Tribe’s temporary landing page.

Kent County Republicans.  By virtue of having stood for county-level office, I was automatically extended the privilege of serving as a member of the Executive Committee for the next two years. So that’s fun. I also got to see my friend Edgard, which was awesome. He suggests he might be moving back to the area next year — a suggestion I hope translates into reality!

Social Schedule. November was busy:

  • 11/3 — Nat Sherman 85th event at Grand River Cigar with Scott
  • 11/4 — Writers’ group Thanksgiving fest (turkey and all!)
  • 11/5 — “Dead Presidents” Halloween party @ PPQ’s in Royal Oak, MI
  • 11/10 — Dinner with Roni
  • 11/11 — Sister-in-law’s 40th birthday party
  • 11/13 — Day of Knockout Noveling at CultureWorks in Holland, MI
  • 11/18 — Murder-Mystery dinner at Ruth’s Chris in Troy, MI
  • 11/24 — Thanksgiving Day at mom’s house
  • 11/27 — The End Is Nigh celebration at KDL/Kentwood
  • 11/28 — County convention, Kent County GOP
  • 11/30 — NAHQ board meeting commences

… and all of this, plus the day job, plus me attending Jessica’s write-ins every Tuesday, plus me hosting write-ins every Saturday morning. I’m back into the editorial-consulting space, working as a contractor for and its migration of content to premium verticals. Similar concept to the Demand Media “renovation,” but executed with a much higher degree of sanity.


This morning, Saturday, Dec. 3, the National Weather Service’s landing page for Grand Rapids says: “November was among the Top 2 to 4 warmest on record around the area. Meteorological Fall (Sep 1 through Nov 30) eclipsed Fall 2015 as the second warmest on record.”

So, yeah. It’s been unusually warm. My landlord mowed the lawn last week, if that’s any indication. The forecast is for roughly an inch of snow locally over the weekend, although temps will still hover around 40 F; however, the freeze starts to set in around Tuesday night, with predicted high temps between 28 F and 33 F and lake-effect snow likely for the end of the coming work week.

I like cold, snowy Decembers. Warm/dry Christmas seasons totally suck the life out of the holiday. That point was impressed upon me in Orlando, where the Magic Kingdom now stands bedecked in holiday regalia. Looking at Christmas trees while walking around in 85-degree weather just feels weird.

I spent some time on the last leg of my trip home working through some planning notes for my upcoming two-week Christmas vacation, as well as penciling in some goals for 2017. It occurs to me that some of these goals require downtime. When the seasons are out of whack, it’s as if my body’s calendar gets out of whack, too. Downtime is a function of environment as much as a schedule.

Catholic liturgy values seasonality. We have a clock to rule the day, a calendar to rule the month, but the seasons rule the year. Throw some sand into the gears of any of those three temporal markers, and things grind to a halt. I noticed, perusing some old blog posts, that as recent Decembers have been unseasonably warm or cold, dry or snowy, my reaction tends to follow suit. 2012 = warm/dry; 2013 = snowy; 2014 = frigid; 2015 = warm/dry. I got into my vacation and come back again either refreshed or dejected, in part based on my attitude about it all, which is influenced by the climate.

I have high hopes for this December. Let’s see if the weather cooperates.