Posts with Category This Writer’s Life

Finding Joy in the Success of Others

When Chris stood on the long board, the Pacific Ocean carrying him towards the beach, I couldn’t have been more proud. I think I was more excited for him than I would’ve been for myself surfing for the first time. I was his trip leader and his SCUBA instructor for a three-week trip in Baja, Mexico.

When my daughter Harper nailed (semi-nailed let’s be honest) her dance recital routine, I damn near exploded with joy.

When my wife Annie was competing in a CrossFit competition, and I was at home watching the kids, I followed the social media reports every second. I could’ve done a happy dance when I saw that she won, but I was putting Harper to bed.

When my son Griffin spelled his first word…

When a friend publishes a…

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Harper the adventurer at 7

Harper Woods

A few months after Harper was born I wrote a piece for WorldHum titled Adventure Dad. Here’s an excerpt:

I can’t remember where I read it (if you know, please tell me), but one of my favorite travel stories was written by a father who takes his 3-year-old canoeing down the creek that runs through their backyard. There are no rapids, no danger other than a bee or two, no foreign culture to be explored, no site that most of us don’t ignore each day. Things like squirrels, trash on the bank, and a praying mantis were grand discoveries. Both father and child had a blast.

I like this story because it challenged what I previously thought about adventure. Adventure isn’t an…

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Why you need to swear an oath before watching my son with autism

Chasing Griffin.001

Every night, I turn off the TV, get off the couch, wake up my wife, and shut off the lights. I find that it’s easier to see if the deadbolts are in place by shining my phone’s light at them in a dark room. I check the door to the garage, front door, and porch. All locked.

This might seem like a normal routine of a man ensuring the security of his family from unwanted visitors in the night. But I don’t make sure the doors are locked to keep people out; I make sure they are locked to keep one person in . . . my son Griffin.

Griffin, 4, has autism and a deep curiosity to explore places where he shouldn’t…

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The myth of the perfect Christmas photo family

There’s a story behind every Christmas card photo. This is ours…

Our car looks like something Santa would drive. It has a red body, capped with a white top. Soon that white top will have a green tree strapped to it. At least that’s the plan. We’re on our our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm where we also hope to get the perfect family picture for our Christmas card.

I tune the radio to the Christmas channel. I’ve become that cheesy Chevy Chase dad who tries too hard to instill a little extra energy into moments in an effort to build childhood memories.

I’m about to join the chorus when a little…

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I’m so 2015 that I’m on periscope

I don’t mean to brag, but like 16 people follow me on periscope. We should be periscopians together.

I’ve had several folks ask me what I think of it. Here’s essentially what I told my friend Mark Benson:

I think it’s more intimate since it is more immediate. The thing I like best is what I liked about Instagram early on or any other new social platform–how quiet it is. I follow a few people and a few people follow me. It’s much more manageable to interact and pay attention to what others are doing compared to thousands of folks on Twitter.

But as Mark pointed out: “Call someplace paradise, and kiss it goodbye.”

My first try at Periscope was walking out on stage at UNC-Greensboro in an auditorium before 1,000+. It…

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When I meet students on the autism spectrum…

Every time I meet a college student with autism, I want to give them a hug.

Of course, for some individuals on the spectrum, the last thing they would want to do is get hugged by someone they barely know. Most of the time I refrain from doing so, but sometimes, as in the picture above, I can’t stop myself.

They give me hope for my son Griffin, a sweet and smart 4-year-old on the spectrum. I see them and I imagine Griffin waiting in line fifteen years from now to get his book signed by a visiting author. I see them and I imagine him getting that book signed and going off to his dorm where…

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Sometimes you gotta shut up and listen

I enjoy sharing my stories. But here’s the thing, I know all of my stories. My stories aren’t going to teach ME anything new.

Recently I spoke at Central College in Iowa. As part of my visit I was interviewed by Dr. Bob Leonard for his local radio show In-depth. You can listen to the interview. It lasted 13 minutes. I say things I’ve heard myself say hundreds of times, but when the interview was over, the real interview began.

I interviewed Bob.

All I said was, “I hear  you have some interesting stories,” and that’s all it took for Bob to get going. Bob is an Anthropology professor, and I had heard that he drove cab for a while as part of his research. He didn’t talk about that much,…

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Where Am I Speaking Fall 2015

This Fall I’ve had the chance to corrupt a lot of students at schools across the country.

I’m in the middle of a stretch of 8 weeks of visiting at least one high school or college per week. I always like to write this post before I start a season of speaking so maybe I can sync up with some friends or readers while on the road. Alas, I’m a bit behind, so this post covers where I’ve been and where I have left to go this fall.

 

8/26 Fashion Institute of Technology

As Hogwarts is to wizards, F.I.T. is to fashion students. First year students read WHERE AM I WEARING.  I love reaching fashion students with the stories of the garment workers I’ve met in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and beyond. Some day…

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Should we mow our lawns?

“Oh, no, daddy! Watch out for the toad!” My six-year-old daughter nearly broke into tears as the tiny toad jumped out of the way of our rumbling riding lawn mower.

This was our first time mowing our new property and Harper was on my lap calling out the crickets and grasshoppers and toads.

Start. Stop. Start. Get off. Sometimes I had to move a life to a safer place.

I’ve always been the type of mower who would stop for an insect when I saw them. I think I was influences by all of those bug cartoons and movies that pitted insects and shrunk kids against the evil lawn mower. But, here’s…

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On Indy Style TV with Harper

Two years ago I was on Indy Style TV and chatted with host Tracy Forner shortly after my book EATING released. A month ago Tracy emailed me that he finally got around to reading my book while on vacation in Michigan–not far from the apple farmers and juice factory I wrote about in EATING. He wanted to have me on again to cook. Cook . . . gulp!

I’ve come along way in my food journey, but I’m no chef. Instead of whipping something up Bobby Flay style, I suggested I make banana splits and we have a chocolate and coffee tasting while we chatted.

I took my daughter Harper along for the ride and we included her in the last segment. She did awesome and was so well behaved even…

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