Where Did Summer Go? Highlights from a Season Gone By

This summer was a blur–different, I would say, than any summer before.  I wanted to reflect on this summer if only for my own sake and reflect on some changes and highlights.

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For me, thee big event of the summer was the May release of my book, Go & Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time.  Two years in the making, it was fun to finally see it come to fruition.  The strangest part of the experience was sharing intensely personal experiences in a public forum.  But, it’s good–the message resonated with people and, I hope, helped some.  I received messages from readers I didn’t know across the country and as far away as South America and Asia who read the book.  It’s interesting see see where a message can go.

Following the book release, I had several speaking events from Nashville to Minnesota to California.  Audiences varied widely from academics to college students.  The college students are by far the most fun.  I spoke at a retreat of about 600 college students this last weekend and had a blast.

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When I think back about the last year, it involved a lot of writing.  While I was hoping to take a break after the book, it only freed up time to allow me to focus on several other writing projects–two articles in particular.  Where I did find I took a break was from the blog.  With several writing projects on my hands, I did not carve out time for the blog.  In some ways it’s a relief–I was disciplined about doing it three days a week for a while–and in some ways I miss writing about more random ideas and daily reflections.

I am quite proud of the academic articles I worked on this summer, in particular one about Africa explorer David Livingstone.  I became interested in Livingstone’s explorations after seeing monuments to him in Africa–I picked up a book about his explorations.  The book didn’t just pique my sense of adventure, I learned that he was an anti-slavery advocate and devout Christian.  He seemed to be a melding of professional and external interests.  I started some research in to how he became an abolitionist and uncovered an incredible story left largely untold.  His story arch is a great rise to fame as an explorer, followed by monumental failings that brought him to his breaking point.  He went back in to Africa largely as a publicity stunt to draw attention to the horrific East African.  He died in Africa likely believing he had failed in everything, never knowing that his work led to the abolition of slavery only a month later.  If you’re interested, you are welcome to read the academic article, Livingstone and the Law, which I wrote to make sure I had the history solid.  Now, I am in the process of putting the article into a more accessible format for a general audience–more to come on this.

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I made two major trips this summer–first, to Uganda in June.  We conducted another Juvenile Justice Project, working to help 22 kids get their day and court and see justice take place.  It had been two years since the first Masindi Project, so it was a blessing to return to Masindi and see improvements there.

The second major trip was to the Amazon River in Brazil.  We joined Malibu Presbyterian Church for a week on a boat traveling down the Amazon to perform cleft palet surgeries.  This trip mostly focused on Lisa’s work as a nurse and her ability to help in a critical way.  For her, it proved to be a deeply meaningful experience.  I definitely enjoyed it, but was less useful than Lisa–although I did get to go in and watch the surgeries too.

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Summer is also a season for triathlon.  Lisa and I tried to fit as many in as possible, but missed several favorite races due to our hectic travel schedule.  At the recent Hansen Dam Olympic Distance Triathlon, Lisa took 1st place in her age division, and I took third in my age division.  This upcoming weekend is the Nautica Malibu Triathlon–always a favorite.  We are planning likely 2 more races before the end of the year.

I also need to add that one significant accomplishment was FINALLY summiting Mt. Whitney after getting stormed off the very top last year.  Lisa and I checked that one off of life’s to do list.

Two things have particularly animated me this summer.  First, I’ve made some camera workflow process changes that have reignited some enthusiasm for photography.  I’m going back to re-edit some old photos and, occasionally, I’m finding hidden gems in photos that I overlooked.

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Second, I’ve been blogging on some local issues back in Minnesota through a website called Areavoices. My goal has been to start some, I believed, needed conversations about issues back home.  In many ways, it’s been a social experiment–and one with net positive results.

Now, here we are–almost mid-September already.  The question on my mind is: What now?  Is there another big project or trip on the horizon?  Not yet.  I am happy to be still and not travel extensively for at least a month.  I am also looking forward to diving into some new writing, video, or photography projects.  Fall–here we go.

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