Celebrations and Rest

So there’s  been a gap in posting, but I’m not going to make a deal out of it again.  I had hoped to have several posts lined up and scheduled before I went on vacation but just didn’t get that done.  I thought I might have some writing time on vacation, but that didn’t happen either.  But it was a nice, restful time where I completely unplugged from work and most of life, and spent some great time away with my wife.

Speaking of the wife, Thursday we celebrated 21 years of marriage.  For TC, this is the first anniversary where she’s been married longer than she was single.  I’ve got a few more years on that one, but it’s kind of cool that she’s put up with me that long.  We had a nice quiet evening with the children at home and I cooked a nice meal and we watched the Cubs whoop it up on the Reds.  I love to cook, and we’d eaten out a lot on our #miamivacay16 trip, and so it was fun to make a nice meal of steaks and fresh vegetables from our co-op order, including some roasted beets (a favorite of my bride) and enjoy the baseball game.

Did I say Miami?  Yes I did.  We spent a long weekend there courtesy of Hilton HHonors points, frequent flyer miles and some savings.  It was amazing…and I can’t wait to go back.  I’d like to have some more Spanish under my belt before then though.  I completely unplugged..no work email or thinking about work for 5 days.  After the push to finish a couple of big projects before I left it was so nice to be out of touch for a while, and I was able to go back to work on Friday refreshed.

Work is a good thing.  I love my job.  One of the ways I keep that love burning, though, is getting away just often enough to get some rest, breathe, and rejuvenated enough to throw myself back in.  I could go on and on about what we did while on vacay, but I’d rather go on about my marriage.

As of last Thursday it’s been 21 years.  Some of them haven’t been fantastic, but since about year 7 every one has gotten better than the previous one.  When I travel, no matter where I go, I want her along.  She’s my soulmate and my favorite companion.  Every experience is better with her along.  She sees things so much clearer than I do most of the time.  Her perspective always makes mine better.  And she likes me, which is in itself a feat.

I’ll be returning to the things God hates posts again this Thursday, and we’ll get into some less rambling posts as well.  But take some time to rest and celebrate when it’s appropriate.  You’ll be glad you did.

Remembering A Quiet Morning

I wrote this the Sunday morning we were in Mexico:

I woke up today from some strange dreams and noises were bothering me in the room (ceiling fan clacking and some kind of electric hum that I couldn’t find). If I had had the presence of mind to put in and turn on my noise cancelling headphones I probably would have just gotten back to sleep. But instead I fiddled around, broke a glass, cleaned up the glass, and ended up thinking it was later and got up. (I never changed the time on my iPad and so I thought it was an hour later). By then I was awake and so I went out on the patio to write and think.

It’s quiet out here, but not silient. The waterfalls just outside the room are playing a beautiful tune and there’s a dim light up behind me because the sun won’t be up for a bit. It’s not yet 6:00 and while I think there’s more sleep to be had, I don’t think I’ll get any.

It’s almost the perfect temerpature out here. It’ll be almost 90 later (too hot for my liking but welcome in November). We’ll have A/C in the car for the long drive to church and back, and there is plenty of shade to be had while we spend a restful Sunday here.

I love the sound of water. I couldn’t hear it in the room tonight for some reason, but it’s nice and relaxing out here. I don’t know if I mentioned it in a previous post, but my phone has been out of commission most of the trip. I couldn’t get my data to work at first when we arrived and then I fell into a pool and I haven’t had the phone for two days. I think I’ll look back on this and be thankful for an extra level of “unplugging” but it still feels weird not to have it available.

I’m rambling…I can see that. But I’m on vacation so I don’t have to string thoughts together coherently do I? We chose Mexico, and Todos Santos in particular becuase there was nothing we wanted to see or do here, and there were plenty of really good restaurants to choose from when eating out. Today we’ll warm up quite a few leftovers from the previous couple of days and relax at the resort/hotel/inn for the afternoon and evening. For some of the nights at least we’ve been the only guests at this small property (<10 rooms).

I needed this vacation, and I needed it this way. Nothing pressing, no rushing around like we did in San Francisco in May, just the two of us and quiet walks and naps and beauty and great food. When we get home on Wednesday there will still be a 4 day weekend before I head back to the office and we’ll get good festive time with the children for Thanksgiving and the weekend.

I’ll have to figure out a way to deal with the bugs out back but I think during Spring I’ll want to find some mornings like this to sit outside in the dim light and write and read. No one to push or prod and just quiet time in nature but close to comfort. I’m thankful for quiet mornings like this one, and hope to see more coming every now and then in the future.


I Need a Vacation

October was a long month for me.  I’m not entirely sure what made it feel so long, but I remember attending a church meeting on the 31st and being extremely thankful that the next day was a new month.  I haven’t been this tired out since maybe 2009 when I was in my third straight year of very regular and exhausting travel.

I had a vacation recently.  My wife and I took a week and went to Napa and San Francisco in May.  It was a great time, though it was also a very full trip.  And it was six months ago.  Since then I haven’t really taken more than a day off at a time unless I was sick, and I don’t generally get sick.  I’m only recently done recovering from the year and a half of school.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.  And most of the time I think I’m pretty good at it.  And 90% of what I do is emotionally rewarding even when it’s tiring.

But everyone needs to unplug from time to time.  Even when I’m not bringing work home, I’m still thinking through issues I have there and the smartphone will always give me access to the email and work that’s waiting.  And so it gets tiring and I get drug out and get stretched thin.  And everyone needs time away now and then.

This Wednesday at 1pm I’m leaving the office and not going back until after Thanksgiving weekend.  I’m turning off the email to my mobile devices and leaving my work laptop in my office and I’m going to unplug and relax.  There will be good meals, walks with my wife, sleeping in, and no work at all.  Maybe I’ll even get a massage or go swimming.

I’ll be back in the office on November 30th, refreshed and ready to go.  Until then, don’t call me unless it’s an emergency, and don’t be surprised if a comment stays in moderation.  There will be blog posts scheduled to go live here and there, and I’ll tell you about how I spent the time away when I get back.

Hasta la vista, baby.

In the News…My Bradley Cohort!

Today I head in for my last session of Global Environment and Issues where we’ll debrief from the India Trip.  And so it seems appropriate to post some news items related to our presentation at the Tirupur Exporters Association.  Here’s a snippet from on at Business Standard:

The strategy was developed by Rajesh Iyer, an associate professor of marketing and director of the international business programme at Foster College of Business, Bradley University, Illinois, and his Executive MBA students.

A list of recommendations was developed after the students gathered primary and secondary data from potential and existing customers, conducted market research to understand the customer, and performed analyses relating to competitor overviews, mode of entry, and marketing strategies, Iyer said.

via US varsity crafts business plan for Tirupur exporters | Business Standard News.

Oh and here’s two most of you won’t be able to read:

TEA Article 2

TEA Article 1

Thankfulness for Normal

I’ve been home a week now.  I took my last malaria pill last night, in fact.  And now that I’m back I thought I should post a list of the things I’m thankful I got to return to (including those things I won’t miss about India).

  • I’m thankful to be sleeping in the same bed with my wife.  The last seven nights have been more comfortable and restful for having her with me.  I miss her so much when we’re apart…we are truly soul mates.
  • I’m thankful for the little thing of being able to wash my toothbrush and rinse my mouth with tap water after brushing my teeth.  Bottled water only over there…it was too dangerous to have water or ice there.
  • I’m thankful that the drivers pretty much stay in their lanes here and obey most of the traffic laws.
  • I’m thankful for fall…it’s hot all winter in Chennai and it’s been a lovely cool week since I’ve been back.
  • I’m thankful for toddlers, cute ones mind you, messing things up in the house.  I missed them.
  • I’m thankful to be back at work…and working for something important.
  • I’m thankful for beef.  Yum.  Steak, burgers, italian beef…I like it all.  And there’s none of that in India and I’m glad to have it now that I’m back.

I want to go back to India someday…possibly soon (though with my wife).  But I love home and I’m thankful for the conveniences and pleasures it offers.

Short Term Problems in Industrialization: Industrial Slavery

Last Tuesday, my last day in India, I visited the International Justice Mission.  The Chennai office specializes in bond-labor slavery issues.  As they talked me through their mission and what they’re doing about it, there were echoes of some of the trials we had in the Western world during the industrial revolution.  Many of you have probably heard the Tennessee Ernie Ford song with the line “I owe my soul to the company store.”  While many of the labor regulations of today are overblown and bordering on tyrannical, some of the labor practices during the early industrialization of England and the United States were sinful and needed to be abolished.

Here’s a couple of snippets from the IJM website about the work of the Chennai office (I’d encourage you to check out the rest of it):

When we first began work in India, many government officials had received no training whatsoever on combating forced labor or sex trafficking. Slavery seemed hidden: Many people told us they didn’t believe it still existed in the country, and those who were aware of it didn’t have hope that anything could change.

via India | International Justice Mission.

Forced labor slavery uses deception, threats or violence to coerce someone to work for little to no pay. Although slavery has been outlawed in nearly every country, millions of men, women and children are working as slaves in brick kilns, rice mills, garment factories, fishing operations and many other industries.

via Casework: Forced Labor Slavery | International Justice Mission.

Slavery can come in sneaky forms. What’s gone on in our past (antebellum South, industrial slavery) is wrong.  Freedom requires that man be allowed to negotiate his own wages and comings and goings, and Christ came to bring that freedom.  Slavery is unnatural and contrary to the created order.  And IJM is working to help the developing world end the problems before they get worse…and I’m excited about the work they’re doing.

Here’s the story of one of the rescued slaves:

Oh, and here’s that song about the company store:

Still Adjusting…

So it’s Saturday and I’ve been back in the U.S. for two full days now and three nights. I slept “better” last night but I’m still not back in the swing of things yet. I got up at a fairly reasonable hour today and hopefully this is the last phase of acclimation back to “normal”.

I’m going to be posting more about India (with more pictures) as I work on my paper and presentation for the Global Issues class and hope to have a few more guest posts from after the trip.  I expect to be back to the usual posting schedule now and so the daily posts are probably gone for now.

I survived the trip, and it was an enriching and rewarding experience.  I already stopped in the Indian grocer near our new house to check it out and I’m going to be looking for ways to keep the memories present.  I’m still processing quite a bit of what I saw, and the paper for my individual project will help with that.

And now it’s really time to gear up for a strong finish.  My capstone project is due seven weeks from today.  49 days.  It’s going to be an intense finish, and thankfully it’s a work related project and I’ll be able to put a lot of time at the office into it.  The timer is ticking, though, and I need to be on top of it every week.

Thanks for sharing in this experience with me.  The home stretch is here and the 428 days since I started school have to pay off now.