Category Archives: thoughts – introspective

Old words

Six years ago, she meant a lot to me. I’ve never been in love, but at the time it was the closest that I’d ever been to being in love. We talked for hours on the phone about everything and nothing at all. I went over to her house often. We’d talk over there, sometimes walking hand in hand up and down the street that she lived on. I’d never experienced that before.

But I was just about to start my life at college, and I had to go. I told her that I’d write her when I got there so she’d have my address to write back. She promised that she would.

The first semester that I was at college was filled with letters. Even though I came home often, her words were always a source of comfort when I was here. And apparently mine to her were as well; she once mentioned falling off the couch laughing at my description of a bad day that I’d had. She’d had one the day she’d received that letter, but my words put it out of her mind, she wrote. I wonder what I wrote.

But of course time passes on, and distance is a hard thing to overcome. The feelings between us changed to that of good friends, and then to friends with time and distance between them.

Tonight while sorting through my life, I came upon all the letters that she wrote me. Old words that meant so much to me back then. And they still do today, because they give me hope that one day there will once again be someone out there that will think thoughts about me like those that she wrote six years ago.

Christmas tree life

Ever noticed that you never see an ugly Christmas tree?

Doesn’t happen, does it? Everywhere you look, whether the decorations are handmade or storebought, old or new, all one color scheme or a tremendous variety, it all looks right when it’s on a Christmas tree.

Now, there are particular ornaments that come to mind (usually my handmade efforts as a child qualify here) that could be classified as “not-so-nice-looking”. But even when you intersperse these among everything else, it all looks right.

I’m 23 years and change old now, and one of my favorite things to do still is look at a Christmas tree all lit up with all of the lamps and overhead lights turned off. There’s something perfect about it, as if in that one moment everything is just right with the world.

I’ve sometimes wondered why that is. I guess that you could just call it part of the mystery of the season. But I prefer to think that we’re more in the spirit to see the beauty in everything.

Translating that to the everyday, we need to see the “Christmas tree” in everything in our lives. It’s hard to do on a day-by-day basis. I know. But you’ll notice that there are people who can do it. You’ll also note that they tend to be very happy and content with their lives. There’s something to it.

I’m trying to live my life being content with it. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, I find that I can find the “Christmas tree” in things.

living for God, part 2

Passage: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

It’s about this time in a semester (especially during the fall) that I start to get really down in energy. Tests, papers, and projects always wear down on me. I start really looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Why am I not more thankful for today? For the life I have now, and for the opportunities that are in front of me? If Jesus really did call us to have life and have it to the full, to what extent have I not taken him up on his offer?

Shows like The Real World give us a “peek into lives of other people.” Which, the executive producers assume, we’d rather do than live our lives ourselves. How long did it take me to realize that we’re letting other people live for us?

In Romans 12:11, Paul encourages Christians to not lose their zeal for serving God. And according to 1 Corinthians 10:31 (a verse I’ve quoted before) says whatever we do, to do it for God’s glory. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to say that if we’re not living for God, we’re not experiencing life to the fullest?

In Life’s Little Instruction Book, instruction #322 is “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same amount of hours in a day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” An addendum to that: “Don’t waste the time you’ve been given.” I’m as guilty as anyone else of letting other people live life for me. It’s time for that to stop.

The cable is getting cut off tomorrow. But more than that…I’m going to try to stop living each day as if it’s a chore and live them like they should be lived. As I said before, I’ll live for God, and I’ll go through life with joy in my heart.


Once again, today is my birthday.

23 years. You know, it doesn’t seem like a very long time at all. And in another sense, it seems pretty long. I mean, I’ve only been working on this site now for somewhere around four years. I’ve been in college almost five and a half.

I’m usually pretty introspective on my birthday. I’m not sure why. It just always works that way. I guess part of me always is asking “what did I really do this year? What made this past year worthwhile? What did I learn?”

I mean, my sister and brother-in-law started a new life together, for the most part, anyway. Most of my college friends that I had when I was an undergrad have moved on and done the same. Moving on to new parts of your life seems to be the right thing to do as you grow older.

I haven’t done that quite yet.

So as I type this, I’m thinking to myself, “What have I done?” But actually, this year, I think that I’ve accomplished a lot. I made it through the first year of the MBA program, which anyone will tell you is a feat in itself. I had a “real job” for the first time in my life this summer, and actually did all right at it. I didn’t go under. I’ve lost 17 pounds and gotten in the best shape I’ve been in since high school.

I’ve also learned to be more open and outgoing around new people. (Thank you, MBA program.) I’ve learned to have some fun at my own expense and not take myself so seriously.

Maybe I’ve done more growing than I originally thought.

You don’t usually grow very much physically after you’re 21, so I doubt I’ll ever be any taller. (I haven’t grown much myself since I was about 15.) But I’ve got a lifetime to grow in other ways. Looking back, I think this year was a good growing experience, much like the other 22.

Many thanks to my family (love you mom and dad) and friends, without whom I wouldn’t be who I am today. Many of you will never read this, more than likely. To those who do, thank you so much again.

Parting Shots 2000

(or, some of what I learned this year)

Wow. Where do I begin? There were so many things that I could touch on. But I’m going to concentrate here on what the MBA program’s first year gave me, because that was my life for the most part this year.

On one of my previous thoughts I talked about “touchpoints”. I defined a touchpoint as anything, anywhere, or anyone that you can go to and feel at least somewhat comfortable around. This year one of the things that I learned was that the MBA program doesn’t offer too many of these. It’s not its fault; it’s its nature to be difficult. Some of the people, however, became very good touchpoints. For possibly the first time, I’ve made really good friends in my classes. I think that that’s because we all went through this together; we’re the only ones who understand what we’ve managed to accomplish (well, the only ones at this university, anyway). And that’s not just first-years (I don’t know if you’ll ever read this, but if you do, thank you so much for everything, Mandy).

I’ve been reminded once again that you really can’t change your way of acting, even around new people. I’m still not that comfortable around large groups of people, and I don’t know if that will ever change; much as I tried to be outgoing, I’m still not at the comfort level where I’d like to be. I’ve learned that not having that ability is kind of difficult in the business world. You need to be outgoing to really make it. Luckily, I’ve managed to learn how to pull off extroversion in two-hour or so spurts. It’s still not easy, though.

I learned that business school isn’t easy by any stretch. I’ve learned that Peter Robinson was absolutely right, and I recommended his book to practically every prospective student that I hosted this year. That is not to say that business school wasn’t worth it. On the contrary, I think that it was, overwhelmingly so in fact.

And yes, I learned a lot about statistics, accounting, economics, organizational behavior, production and operations management, finance, management information systems, and yes, even marketing. And that’s the truth. One of the big reasons that I came to this program was to get an understanding of the basics of business, and I think that I’ve done so.

What else has this program given me? For one, a new mindset towards solving problems. Before, problem solving meant having the problem and designing a solution to it, be it a computer program or a mathematical equation. Now, problem solving includes actually figuring out what the problem is. It’s given me a whole new way of thinking about everyday things. I’ve had to learn a lot of teamwork concepts. Most of my projects in my undergraduate days were either solo or with like-minded individuals. Here, I’ve had to deal with people from vastly different backgrounds, and while I didn’t normally take the lead on things, I did when I had to. I’ve learned even more about time management. I admit, I thought that they were feeding us buzzwords at the beginning of the year when they talked about it. But I’ve learned that sometimes it’s impossible to get it all done the way you want it done, so you just need to do as good a job as you can on all of it, but make sure that it all gets done.

But what’s perhaps the biggest thing that this program gave me this year was a sense of accomplishment. Not many people choose to go down this road, and not all of them make it. I started out with no business acumen, and I’ve come a long way since then. I feel that whatever decision I make concerning my career, I’ll be better equipped to do it as a result of this year.

I haven’t learned yet what I want to do with my life. Luckily, I’ve got another year to figure that out. 🙂 I’ve got a few ideas running around my mind right now about what I want to do with my life that I would never have thought too much about before this year. We’ll just have to see what the next year holds to see what I’ll do with those ideas.

the ultimate Cinderella story

Yes, I know that by now we all know about how Kurt Warner and the Rams have gone from grocery store bag boys and NFL also-rans to MVPs and world champs. But think about a couple of things, if you will.

In ESPN the magazine’s preseason NFL edition, according to analysis on every team’s starters, the Rams were chosen dead last in the NFL. Dead last. Behind the Cleveland Browns.

Every starter had a one-line tag that summarized their worth to the team and a rating from 1 to 5. Kurt Warner rated a 1 (the only starting quarterback to get such a rating); his summary was “Okay Arena Football cred, so relax. Wait, yikes!”

Of course, we all know the rest of the story. They were wrong. Absolutely, positively, 100% dead wrong.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this helps to restore my belief in the little guy coming out on top in the end with enough hard work. I mean, think about it. This guy worked at Hy-Vee last year. The Rams were 4-12. Things like that just aren’t supposed to happen. And you can make your argument that they had a soft schedule. The truth of the matter is that when the playoffs were over, the only team in the playoffs who had not lost was the Rams. And the quarterback who’d rated a 1 by ESPN the magazine was the NFL MVP and the Super Bowl MVP. Too bad he didn’t get to go to St. Louis to celebrate…he had a trip to Oahu coming up.

Wonder what he’ll be rated next year.

Someone once said that you make your own luck. I tend to believe this theory, and I think that there is proof positive in this story. Yeah, the original starting quarterback had to be injured for Mr. Warner to get his break, and that’s luck (in a way…I’m sure that Warner never wished injury on him), but he still had to make something of his chance. And he did.

The whole thing makes me feel, if not more confident, at least more hopeful that when I eventually face the real world, that I can come out on top too. I may not be a Super Bowl champion, but I can achieve my goals in life.

wish you were here

Today is my birthday. It really didn’t feel different from any other day. But at the end of it, (that is, right now), I decided to take a look at my life and where it is. That got me thinking about people who’ve been involved in my life.

One thing that I realized was that this is the first birthday I’ve ever celebrated without my sister there. Of course, she’s married and living some 12 hours away from me now. It’s one of those things, I guess…she was up here with me for four years and seventeen or so before that, and now is when I finally realize all that she meant to me. I won’t go into specifics, because that would take a while. Suffice to say that I miss her…

I looked back at this past month, in which I participated in the wedding of my childhood best friend (who married another good friend of mine, incidentally). I watched as they moved on into new parts of their lives.

And I knew that I wasn’t as big a part of them as I used to be, nor would I ever be again.

That scares me somewhat.

But I know a couple of things from my time here at Alabama, both in undergrad and now…there’s no way that everyone you know can stay in your life in the same capacity for all time. For that matter, no one really can. People change as time goes by…we all know that. I think that I was most amazed at that at my friends’ wedding. I talked to people that night that I hadn’t seen in five years or so. One of them had a baby and one on the way since I’d last seen him…another had been married and had a baby on the way. These were people that I grew up with…and now I’m more a memory than any integral part of their lives.

But another thing is that I don’t forget them, and they don’t forget me. I trade e-mails and phone calls with my friends, and I’m sure that one day it’ll go to the point of trading Christmas cards and the occasional visit. We may be far apart, but one day we’ll be back together again. At least that’s my way of looking at it.

So I look out of my little corner of the world at the small mass of trees hiding the convenience stores from my view, and I reflect. I know that you’re all out there…as I think about all of this, I wish that I could go into a place, just for one more night, where I wouldn’t have to worry about all of this grown-up stuff. And all of you would be here with me. And I’d tell each of you what you meant to me.


I am now an official MBA student. I’ve heard the magic word at least fifty times today. Growing up, you might have heard that the magic word was “please.” But come real close to the screen…I’ll whisper the real magic word to you.


I’ve learned of the magic of networking today, amidst other things. Time management. Setting goals and keeping priorities. Being involved. I’ve been doing it since eight this morning. I’m tired.

I suppose that I’m tired somewhat because we were going all around today, trying to tie up loose ends and going to meetings. But I think that more of my tiredness can be attributed to the fact that I’ve networked all day today for the first time in a long time.

You see, I’m basically an introvert in nature. I generally will be quiet for the most part, even in “orientation” settings, maybe offering a comment here or there in the conversation so that people don’t shovel dirt on me and put a piece of granite near my head. But I realized that today would be an important day for me. Today would be the day that I would make a first impression, with not one but over 60 other people, with whom I would be sharing the MBA experience of the next two years. The whole thought of it was about as overwhelming to me as the whole idea of MBA school altogether.

And so I tried to be an outgoing version of myself. And I did okay, I guess. But it was exhausting. It’ll take a lot out of someone who’s not very adept at doing stuff like that. And that’s one of the first things that I’ve learned as an MBA student…

Networking = Tylenol at the end of the day.

Now, obviously, I don’t think of this whole thing as just a headache. It was time well spent; I’ve now met at least 2/3 of my class in some capacity or another. The experience has given me something very valuable…what I like to call a “touchpoint”.

Touchpoints don’t have to be people. They can be anything, anywhere, or anyone that you can go to and feel at least somewhat comfortable around. For example, I went to visit a relative this past weekend. She lives in a place that I had never been to. But knowing that she was there beforehand and the weekend that I had while there helped establish a new touchpoint.

Computers are touchpoints to me. I feel comfortable sitting down at one and doing things like writing about the day off the top of my head, which is something that I don’t even do with a lot of people. (I’ve decided to keep a journal of my MBA experience, a la a good book that I just finished tonight, Snapshots From Hell: The Making of an MBA, which should be required reading for anyone considering this track (and no, I am not getting compensation for this 🙂 )).

People, obviously, are touchpoints as well, and there are countless other things that I consider touchpoints in my life. But for every touchpoint that I have, there are things that I am not very comfortable about. This whole networking thing is still one of them. I still am not enthusiastic about the idea of mingling with 50 or more people that I’ve never met before and knowing something about them when the day is done. It’s fun, in a way…but it’s also scary for me. But at least, for now, I’ve talked to most of my classmates and learned something about them. While I still don’t know a lot about them, I know that I will eventually know a good deal about some of them, and I also know that I never know everything about any touchpoint that I have. That’s one of the good things about person “touchpoints”, also known as friendships in the non-Brandon world…

You don’t know everything about each other, but you know a lot about each other, and yet you like each other enough to hang around together anyway. 🙂