Fall in Reykjavik

Strong winds blow tonight

Whipping rain at me sideways

I try to shield myself from it

But it is a vain effort here in this place

From inside my room I still hear you

Making your presence known to all

The air and skies are not calm this evening

Yet I am comfortable, content

My heart still feels at home right now

Peaceful in the midst of this perceived gloominess

The Little Black Book of Travels

I enjoy traveling. It’s not just for the experiences and seeing new places and things, but for the mental space to think that it provides. Ever since my first international trip, I’ve kept a written journal of events and reflections from those adventures. It’s a great way to remember details about what you saw and did, but also a good time to document what’s happening in your life.

Whenever I get away from home, I start seeing things more clearly. So it’s been important for me to find some time daily to sit down and write about anything. Each trip, I usually start with a new journal and this time is no different. This year, I have my “little black book” for my more personal reflections and thoughts that rarely get shared. I recently went back to read through my 2011 sabbatical journal and was instantly transported back to so many fond memories and places I visited. I even was reminded of scents and weather where I had sat in parks or cafes to write.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an avid writer, I’d recommend everyone have their own traveling little black book to document your adventures, no matter how sparse or dense the details may be for you. These written journals turn out to be great keepsakes and a better way to go back and remember compared to your social media posts or public blog posts.

#EuroGreg2016

I guess I can’t go a full calendar year to pass without traveling somewhere that doesn’t touch Illinois’s borders. (Sorry Missouri, you’re cool but since we’re neighbors that trip doesn’t count as getting away.)

Today, I head out for almost two weeks of travel through Europe with scheduled stays in the following places:

  • Pinneberg, Germany (not far from Hamburg)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Reykjavik, Iceland

I’m looking forward to seeing friends in Germany and exploring their hometown, along with seeing Amsterdam for the 1st time. Iceland will be a short stay, but much like seeing Sigur Ros again in concert, I suspect my short time there will feel like a mini-homecoming. The connection in that country was deep and was already there before I ever stepped foot on their land.

Since I will be traveling solo, similar to my sabbatical five years ago, expect to see some updates here on the WUGO blog with reflections either related to my travels or just to life. There are many revelations about life back home once I fly a few thousand miles away from it.

Whenever I post about the trip, I am going to be using the hashtag #EuroGreg2016. It will be an easy way to filter through posts on most social media platforms for what I’m sharing relating to my travels or if it’s something different altogether. Photos will be posted sparingly during the trip with more shared later. If you want to follow along, you can do so in the following place:

  • Visit this blog regularly (or subscribe via email for notifications)
  • Facebook
  • Instagram – @gregmacek
  • Twitter – @gmacek
  • Snapchat (yes, I use it) – add me @doclloyd16

Thanks to T-Mobile’s free international data & text roaming, I’ll be able to share relatively easily wherever I’m at.

I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks away “on holiday.” Life is always interesting and rarely sits still, but like the last few years, it has provided unique challenges in some areas. Where appropriate, I will be sharing some things here. Stay tuned for more!

Gaining, Losing, & Regaining Trust

In relationships, politics, even our interactions with businesses, there is a level of tacit understanding to trust that the other party will do what they say will do or be who they say they are. We expect parents or a significant other to unconditionally love and not intentionally hurt us; we vote someone into office to serve the country and needs of the people who voted them in; we buy from companies who create products and services we assume to be reliable and consistent.

Continue reading “Gaining, Losing, & Regaining Trust”

Empty Fullness

In the pursuit of many endeavors and goals, it is easy to be caught up in the act of chasing what excites you. Adrenaline rushes in, and you tell yourself you can take on a new book right now and knock out a blog post this week and start a new friendship and kick off that initiative at work you’ve been dying to find significant chunks of time for.  But then you look at that list and realize that 1) many of your goals are not related to each other, 2) you are just one person and unable to do it all – at least do it all well, and 3) you’ve lost some of the energy and joy in the pursuit.

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You Will Have a Hard Time Reading This: A Story About My Handwriting

handwriting

This year, I’ve told myself I want to do more writing and ultimately share some of my thoughts here on the blog. Some of that writing happens on my computer(s), but the rest of it happens on good old pen and paper with ideas and thoughts scattered across various notebooks. It was there I realized that there was another story on the paper beyond just the words I wrote.

Continue reading “You Will Have a Hard Time Reading This: A Story About My Handwriting”

The Worth of Storytelling

I’ve never considered myself good at telling a story or being able to deliver an elaborate joke that ends up at a ridiculous groan-worthy punchline. When there is a room of people whose eyes are on me, I frequently clam up and fail to find the right words or style to keep attention and interest in the story. But there’s something else that’s hindering me before I even begin.

I don’t believe my stories have any inherent worth.

I’m not sure when, but in the past, I told myself nobody wanted to hear from me, from the real me. Or perhaps more pointedly, most people didn’t want to hear about me. The story of my life is so unique and specific to my experience that I have very often found it difficult to find the right words. Rarely have I met people who share the crossover of family dynamics, sibling relationships, education, and personal interests. Who would understand me? Who would get me at all? So I choose to stay mostly silent. I even have some personal writings from my high school & college days that reference this same sentiment. I’ve long believed my story is not relatable. I guess some things don’t change with time.  

I am comfortable in being a supporting voice & role, sometimes to a fault and the detriment of my needs. I’m more comfortable reacting to what I hear than being what is reacted to. I give the voice of others more weight than my own. What they need to share is more important than what I do.

I’m a better listener than a storyteller. At least that’s the story I’m telling myself.

So what’s been holding me back? I’m afraid that when I do share about me, nobody will want to listen to what I say. What if I speak into the ether, and my words fall flat? What if I bare my soul, and someone makes my story about their story in 3 moves or less? What if they simply don’t care?

The thing is all that doesn’t matter, right? There is a part of all of our lives that will, not just can, speak to someone. I am often scared to open up for fear of not making a connection, which I have associated with rejection.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

While my writing does connect to private parts of my life, whether or not I’ve publicly written or talked much about what hurts in an open and honest way is a wholly different conversation. I want to keep working towards honest writing, even when it may hurt to put those words and stories out there. I know it won’t be easy, and I won’t post that often with that level of depth, but it’s something to work on this summer.

All stories have worth. Maybe writing more of them down will show me that mine does too.