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!


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


Remembering the Good Times: Top 5 WUGO Blog Posts of 2012

2012 is almost behind us, and if the Mayans are right, pretty soon there won’t be anything ahead of us. Today’s post brings back the most viewed blog posts from this past year with short reflections on each. So here they are in order of total page views (thanks Google Analytics for secretly tracking everyone!):

1) Bathroom Renovation Part Deux

Who doesn’t love a good transformation story, especially when there are pictures? I had linked to this blog post on an Apartment Therapy page about bathroom renovations and it got a number of views from there.

2) Longevity and Loyalty

It’s so rare to hear stories of anyone sticking anything out for long periods of time these days, perhaps this post about my 12+ years at my job resonated with readers.

3) Interactive and Thoughtful Discourse Part 1

A 2011 post makes a 2012 comeback appearance. Some traffic to this came through search results and a little bit through link backs in other blog posts throughout this year. The topic is still incredibly relevant and important to me to this day. Also check out the follow up post to it.

4) Negative Space

This post focused on trying to leave space in life to allow moments and experiences to stand out. Life shouldn’t be running at full speed all the time.

5) My Missing Childhood Stories

Another 2011 post makes its way into the top 5. Apparently, it was a good year for my writing and Google searchers have found me. I guess readers resonated with this post as well.

There you have it. A year in review that isn’t quite over yet. I may have a post or two left, but we’ll see where the holidays take me. Thanks for reading my meanderings. I’ll continue to write and share at my own pace whether or not anyone reads. And that’s.. OK with me.



So Many Ideas, So Much Vacation Time

This past weekend, the company I work for had their annual holiday party. Those of you who I’m Facebook friends with have seen some of the photos from the night. One of the things that happens every year is that our President and CEO each give a speech before dinner starts.  Each person focuses on different aspects of the year and the company as a whole. This year, our CEO surprised many of us (again) with some extra blessings. One highlight for many was that everyone is getting an EXTRA week of vacation in 2013. Provided the Mayans were wrong, we’ll all have 5 extra days out of the office next year.

For an old timer at the company like me, this means a couple things. One, my what I consider an already ridiculous amount of time at 4 weeks is now bumped to 5. (Actually, it’s 6 weeks if you include 5 days I’m rolling over from this year into the first 3 months of next year. First world problems, right?) Two, what am I going to do with all this time? I’m starting a list:

  1. Travel and visit some friends in far away lands like Mississippi or Evanston.
  2. Travel to new places I’ve been meaning to go like: Iceland (northern lights, natural hot springs, awesomeness)
  3. Learn how to do stuff around my house from my super-handy neighbor.
  4. Take a day off every other week all year.
  5. Sleep. A lot.
  6. Other stuff

I absolutely realize the “problems” I have are great ones to have and it makes me reaffirm my choice to still be with the same job I started at right after college. This immense amount of time does get me thinking I should consider some bigger adventures, even if they are local but simply require more time to do. Others, like my dream trip to Iceland, may require saving a few dollars first.

Keep your ears open soon as I may be hitting some of you up for ideas on what to do or a time to visit. This guy has many days he’s free to be away from work. Watch out world! Or don’t.


Sabbatical Flashbacks

It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a full year since I ventured to Europe for a month away from everything here at home. Perhaps it’s the busyness of work lately or the influx of cooler autumn air, but I find myself reminiscing about that time away and wanting to go back sooner than later.

Stay tuned for some sabbatical flashbacks in the coming weeks as I travel back through photos and memories.


Running and Discipline

My last post was the beginning of this new focused journey on running and preparing myself for the Shamrock Shuffle at the end of March. I’m 3 weeks into the training and I’m learning – or re-learning – some lessons.

Discipline, accountability and consistency is key. When I first started, the trainer asked me how many days a week I planned on committing to. I said 3 was realistic. Even now, that is a good limit for me and my current schedule. (Yes, even single people can have a lot going on, right Joy?) But really, without this defined schedule in place, it’s highly unlikely I would’ve mustered up enough motivation and energy to go this often. And this with something I want to be ready to do!

It’s also not easy to say no to a workout when you are being held accountable by someone to going and them asking you the following week how the workouts went. When I have to look someone in the eye and tell them I did or didn’t make the workout, I want to truthfully tell them I did it. I’m finding having the accountability of the trainer incredibly helpful, even if my wallet doesn’t always agree.

All this comes down to discipline. Without it, the Shamrock Shuffle 8K would probably be a frustrating experience. Instead, I am building myself up, stretching myself (literally and figuratively) and pushing my limits each time I workout. I’m seeing the benefits of it even through the pain. What’s most revealing is how other parts of life are holding me back. Eating poorly has a more direct impact on my workouts, as does a lack of quality sleep. I’m always amazed at how interconnected life is even at the individual level. This time is providing some great life lessons that are extending well beyond the initial goal of being able to run an 8K race. I’ll continue to share my thoughts as they are cohesive enough for consumption.



I Decided to Run in a Race

After a few years of getting into running and not wheezing my way through every step, I’ve begun to actually enjoy it as an exercise activity. This year, I’ve decided that I was going to run in at least one race. The first one will be the Shamrock Shuffle 8K on March 25th. It’s just shy of 5 miles, which I’ve never run all at once before – or maybe even in total on one day.

As with everything else in life lately, being ready for this race is going to require some planning. I’m going to meet with a personal trainer from my gym. He is working on a balanced training plan that will help me focus on the distance, but also make sure I don’t forget to do things like weight lifting to strengthen my core and other supporting muscles. We’re going to meet once a month to track progress, tweak the plan, and just see how things are going. These things are necessary if I expect to succeed on race day.

I’m excited about this new venture, small as it may be in the world of running. I have no grandiose dreams of being first or doing anything faster than a 9 minute pace for this event. But the goal of completion will be huge for me. Perhaps I’ll even do more events later this year.


My (Re)Focus on Being a Leader

I originally started this post to focus on the topic of working to be your best and how that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. A number of events in the past couple months have reminded me that I haven’t always been at my best; I haven’t always put in 100% in everything I do. While I don’t see or feel the effects of that in the near future, the result of every action or inaction is evident.

For many years, starting back in college and if I really think about it part of high school, I’ve found myself in positions of leadership. When I’ve been completely devoted and focused on that task and role, I have excelled and it shows in the results of my work and can be seen in the fruits of the organizations and groups I’ve been part of. Though if I give myself an honest assessment of my overall life performance lately, I haven’t always been the best at it nor given my all to people I’m called to lead, direct and teach. I’m not sure why I’ve let myself get so lazy with this. Time to change that.

Starting now, I’m going to refocus my energy to be a better, more focused, more intentional leader. That will entail thinking more about the big picture and the future, training and educating those I lead to be equipped, and keeping myself sharp. Tonight I grabbed my copy of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell which I haven’t read in quite a while. Expect to start seeing some thoughts and reflections on leadership with some direct quotes and insight from Mr. Maxwell.