Sunday, December 31, 2017


2017 The Destination is There!

The lone pine endures!
Christmas Day on Kuder Road
Hinckley OH
December 25, 2017

We Didn't Start The Fire by Billy Joel
Final Destination... 2018! Give Way.

Happy December everyone. Release! From asteroids, solar flares, the solar eclipse, black sky events, destructive forest fires, The Mothman in Chicago, N. Korea, hurricanes, David Meade, the end of the world and Revelation 12 sign, Day 1973 (for me), Equifax breach, Iwannacry Ransomware, Hurricane Ophelia, down to identity theft and even my lousy neighbors, we're all still here. 2017 was a ominous, foreboding and dreadful year. If I were to sum up this whole year in one word, it would be "anxious." Final Destination? 2018. I made it. This was a tough year emotionally and mentally. Not so much physically. This year was also a challenge for my health and I had so many doctor visits this year. Inasmuch it was a year learning some lessons and how to look at next year. I chose "release" for the title of the blog because I want 2018 to be a release from all the anxiety and worry I have now; world events, spiritual things, faith and life in general. I want to let go of that and make things better next year than 2017. I also chose release as the title because it ties in with my England trip and the "Children of the Stones" story. Just as Matthew and Adam were trapped in the stone circle, their fate weighed on the release of the stones back to the present time. So, they too were looking for release from their anxiety and fears...

"Leave? What do you mean leave? Leave the circle? Leave Milbury? Leave? Leave the stones? You never will. Nobody leaves the circle. Wherever you go; the Avenue, the Sanctuary, the Barrow, never get away from the stones. Never get beyond their sight, boy. Never out of their grasp. Nobody ever leaves the circle. Not until the day of release." Dai, the Barber-Surgeon. Children of the Stones.

The crooked High Street through center of Avebury
Beckhampton Road
The Red Lion Pub
Avebury, Wiltshire UK 
October 11, 2017

Full Circle in Children of the Stones
Avebury: The Day of Release

"We hit a sarsen, there was stone in the middle of the road... I think it was simpler than that. I think we lost our way. No. not geographically. I think we missed the turning, the time turning. We failed to get through to our present time." Adam Brake, after trying to escape Milbury, the first time. (Squaring the Circle, Children of the Stones).

What really happened that day...
And I drove the same route as the characters, when I visited Avebury during my England trip...

I wrote this paraphrase from the TV series. This was not from a book. I wanted to illustrate not only my "vacation connection" but the onset of my own year 2017, and the tying in of my Chicago-versary Day.

"Professor Brake and his son leave the safety of the Sanctuary at the end of the Avenue in Milbury. They had encountered Dai there as he reprised his role of Barber-Surgeon. Adam thought intimately of Margaret and the thought of missing her, but his mind was set on leaving Milbury to escape the fate of the stones.

Adam and Matthew make their way back to the cottage. Adam checks the car for damage, having once lost the battle against the stones, and attempting to leave Milbury once before. The stones blocked their escape previously, but there surprisingly was not one dent on their vehicle, like the accident never had happened. They both shrug, get in the car, and drive off towards the edge of the stone circle in Milbury. As they drive by the stones, they are both overcome with wonder, great fear and doubt. Anxiety fills them as they ponder their escape and the doom of the stones. Have they foiled the stones? They continue to drive off, passing by each stone of the circle with eager anticipation of their release! Matthew hoped that Dai was telling the truth about the stones letting them go. They feared the worst as they approached the rim of the stone circle. Would they be released? Or would they be trapped forever in Milbury? They hoped their destination would take them back to the present time out of the awful time trap of the stone circle. Final Destination? Uncertain as they drive toward the circle's outer rim.

Soon, they pass by the Avenue, catatonic with a paralyzing fear. This is it. This is the edge of the stone circle, Adam thought. Will we be released? Gripping tightly on the steering wheel with desperation, Adam gazes intently at each stone they pass. Would they be free?

They continue on passing the start of the Avenue, until amazingly, they break free of the stones grasp, and their hold on time! The stones release them, number 54 and number 55, the two that had tricked the stones. They drive safely outside the stone circle of Milbury. Both Matthew and Adam let out a huge sigh of relief and park outside the town, well away from the edge of the stone circle and the Avenue. They exit the car and look back at the quaint, sleepy town with intrigue. It was as if the trap never even happened, but they were safe and sound. Destination? They arrive in present time.

'Did it happen?' Matthew asks. 'Or didn't it?'

'I don't know Matt,' Adam replied with a certain perplexity. 'I just don't know.'

Matthew spoke up with an answer to his father's perplexity. 'Perhaps there's another circle besides the stones.'

Wondering what that possibly could be, Adam wonders, 'What?'

'Time!' Matthew states assuredly. 'Perhaps that's circular too.'

Realizing the truth of it, having been stuck in the time trap and thinking back to Dai's initial warning to them, Adam adds, 'you mean it might all happen again one day?'

Matthew shrugged with agreement. 'It might already be happening again to the people in the time trap.'

Agreeing with his son, Adam jokingly responds, 'Do you want to go back and find out?'

Soon, they both drive off out of the sleepy village of Milbury. Final Destination? Onto the present time, free of the entrapping Milbury stones. Shortly thereafter, the stones would greet another traveler and the time loop would begin again. The Brakes successfully made it outside the loop before it would start again, and ensnaring those that live inside the circle."

Busy holiday shoppers Downtown
The Magnificent Mile
Chicago IL
December 29, 2017

Circle by 65dBA
Where do I start?

2017 The Destination is There. Final Destination... 2018. 2018 Give Way! It's my turn now! I picked the theme specifically for my life now, and I have my England Trip to thank for that. In all honesty, I'm not ready to do a new year and I really don't have the will power now. First off. I'm putting this here. Now. 2018 Give way! I'M NOT PUTTING UP WITH PEOPLE'S SHIT NEXT YEAR! Give Way is the theme I picked for next year. So, I've questioned myself with that theme. I have my England Trip to thank for this one.

So, who "gives way?" Me? You? Whoever? They? I think there is a balance that needs to be maintained here. Many times in life, I have struggled with being brushed off, ignored or pushed aside. This year has taught me a lot about people ... and my 5 years in Chicago! Who do I want to enter the new year with? Who do I not want in the new year with me? Many times I drop what I'm doing to help others ... not that I don't mind helping out, but when the time comes when I'm down in the pits, most times I'm alone. Why is this a big issue? It's not reciprocated and unrequited. I give way. People that always crave the center of attention (which hardly deserve) make me sick. I don't want that, but there needs to be a balance. I've always tried to keep one in my life with people and life. This goal in 2017 was made this past January...
2017 Goal: "Stop being snubbed or ignored! You may think this is a selfish goal, but really it isn't. I never stand out and I'm often brushed aside, ignored and forgotten. Far too often in my life, this has been a serious problem, and I never do anything about it. Some people in my life get FAR too much praise, attention and adoration than they actually deserve, including cohorts, friends and family. So, meekly stand out."

This year this goal had some success ... but not much. This next year, I'm keeping the goal but you know what? My TRIAL period with people in my life here is over now. The people that matter, stay; the people I care about the most, stay; the people that help me, stay; the people I help out, stay. The rest? Give way! It's my turn now. This is a bold goal and theme I think.This year, I can't tell you how many times I was let down by people when needing help with my photography (with exception to one person, CJ)! In an effort to get more focus on portrait photography, this was a big let down this year. Chicago has not only taught me resilience, but also how rude people are here. I'm not putting up with that next year! The TRIAL period is over. The few times I went out on my own with my photography (fire jams or whatever), those same people snidely told me and scolded why I didn't make it a group effort ... or worse try holding me back to succeed! Not this next year! I also stopped hosting meetups this year. If you know me, you know I don't go with the crowd or loathe cliques.

2018 Goal: "Snubbed? Brushed off? Meekly stand out." Endeavor to find deep meaningful relationships, and people worth your time and effort. If it means eliminating a lot of people from your life, do it.

I've already taken action on this, eliminating people that don't matter in my life, here in social media, life, and even family. So, is this a hateful thing? NO! It's moving on without you. BYE!

Tabula Rasa 2018. Give Way! This is going to take a lot of work; I have to START over again and have a base. It's really tough here. I'm trying my best but in the five years here back in Chicago, there have been many disappointments and let downs. Most times, I end up by myself trying to figure stuff out and I'm just sick of being the last person. So, again, balance. Next year, the see saw goes the other way. Those people that crave the center of attention or get all the praise, I will STARVE that. I already have started doing that THIS year.

The town of Avebury, Wiltshire UK
Center of the Stone Circle
Avebury, Wiltshire UK
October 12, 2017

Don't Stand So Close To Me by The Police
Destination England.

In October of this year, I went to England for vacation. It was a fun trip and, most notably, I had to learn to drive on English roads. Give way! So, the question I've been asking myself since I made the theme is "who is giving way? Am I, or are they?" I really can't answer that question but I'd like to say it goes both ways depending on the situation or where I'm at in my life for 2018. I set a goal this year to "stop being snubbed ... meekly stand out." I think that plays a factor in the theme, but also I made a goal for "grace ... mercy" too. So I guess if anything "give way" goes both ways. There needs to be a balance. I thought it was a nice touch. Originally I was going to go with "the battleground is in the heart" but I think the English "yield" suits best for my current life.

It has a nice English touch to it, because there it's "give way" not "yield" like here in the US. This what I take that to mean: "Yield indicates to me slow down stupid, look what is going on around you and act accordingly. But the term Give Way says to me, be nice give the other vehicle their way. My whole life I thought Yield meant slow down and caution, not according to Webster. Means produces or provides: to relinquish one's possessions; to surrender; to give way." With things going on in my life now, I think this plays into what next year will be for me. I have my English vacation to thank for that.

This year was a big challenge but I'm happy to see all my goals have had some success to them. Looking back at them, there are a few that I didn't achieve: Love and Landmark Forum. I've gone back to the love goal and redone it this way for 2018: "Stop setting a goal to find love. It's out there." I'm putting this here because I've decided to go full blown eHarmony finally next year. It's in my budget. Yeah some of us have those. My goal is to stop finding it but if you'll note even Mulder and Scully never got the truth after 10 seasons and season 11 airs in January. It never hurts to fully subscribe to eHarmony. If anything, I'm just tired of the disappointment and rejection with that part of my life where I'm very empty and dry in. So give way, love is out there.

Beginning next year, it's time to make some changes to my general audience in social media with the new year coming up. Who really matters in my life at this point? Who is worth my effort and my time? I'm exhausted between trying to make friends here and feeling important. Just so exhausted! With this next year, I'm putting hope on, and sharpening my faith. Apparently, "giving way" also is a charitable act, agape (Greek word for charity), so this ties in with my 2018 goal "Can't! Can't? Can!" This goal coincided with a talk with a member of one of the small groups I was going to for Destination Church this Fall. He said, "don't under estimate the power of the cross." I later found this sketch in someone's social media site and made me come up with the name of the actual goal.

Getting the semicolon tattoo this year also made me rethink my purpose here in Chicago. At one of the small groups, we all gave a testimony. It was around the time I got the semicolon tattoo. When it was my turn, I told the story about my November 15th Chicago-versary and how that impacted and motivated me see God's awesomeness. Psalm 139 was a common theme in my life with September 23, the day doomsayers (like David Meade) said was the end of the world. Not mainly because of that, but how that day coincided with 1,973 days I was back in Chicago. Why that number? That's the year of my BIRTH not the day of an END, a beginning. So when I talked about my dark day, November 14, 2011 and "ASC," or after semicolon, I thought about two people in my life; one friend of mine here in Chicago committed suicide in March, earlier in the year. It hit me hard when I got the news; for days I didn't know how to process it, having been through this myself in my life. Then, I thought of my Uncle, my Mom's brother, and how he shot himself. So, it got me praying about my purpose here in Chicago, and between the 1973rd day and the unraveling of November 15th occurence in my life, there is some big reason I'm here in Chicago. I'm hoping in 2018 Give Way that I find that. It might relate to helping others with depression, dark thoughts, anxiety or the sort. I still don't know. So, "Can't, can't, can" is part of this goal.


It's Time by Imagine Dragons
Recapping the 2017 Goals

The year of the rooster! The year started off with an illness and it's been a rough year with doctors and medicine. One reason I chose release as the title for the blog is due to the pain I've experienced this year. It's not been a fun year with that especially recently. That hasn't stopped me from doing the needful; work, activities and enjoying the year. Starting January, I was actively working on my goals and thinking back to the past years.  In 2016, A Letter From The Front, I came up with The Destination is There for my theme this year (February blog). It's been the focus of this year and little did I know how some of the goals I set would later smack me in the face. Even now, as I type this blog I'm just amazed at how important some of these goals were to my life this year. My hope is to continue some of the goals I started this year even into 2018.

2017 Goal: "More portrait photography in my portfolio next year. There is still a lot to learn. First item on my list to purchase is a lens with faster glass. Thank you, James Baranski."

The first blog I wrote this year was "The Destination is There" (February) and it was my New Year's Blog. I recapped previous years and their themes. 2011 was the first year I designated a theme for the year. For 2011, it was "DIBS" because that was the worst year I had, mainly towards the end. So, the last word I spoke in 2011 was just that: DIBS! I said that as a bunch of us in my Brunswick OH apartment huddled around my TV and watched the ball drop in Times Square for 2012. The main topic of that blog was about my job too and how well it was taking off. Having been aboard with VelocityEHS for only few months, I compared the greatness of the job with Broadvox in Cleveland. My friend Chris Johnson helped me get in there.

Working with James Baranski Photography
West Town, Chicago IL
January 22, 2017

The year started off slowly and I was sick on New Year's day so I stayed in and slept on the couch. I did a few things with Portrait Photography and helped my friend Jim with key lighting on some photo shoots. It exposed me somewhat to different types of lighting and camera settings. Although, it covered one of my goals for 2017, it merely scratched the surface of it. We did a photo shoot at Quincy Station in Chicago Loop.

"While the models were getting ready, Jim taught me some technique for shooting models and how controlling the Aperture affects the light on the subject, while the Shutter Speed affects the light in the background. This made some sense even having shot landscapes. The narrower the aperture on the camera, the more sharp the image is.  The faster the shutter speed the darker the background and the slower the shutter speed, the brighter the background.and so on. Aperture controls the light on the subject while the shutter speed controls the background lighting."

It was a helpful session but there wasn't any time for me to shoot; however, I did manage to get some shots while the models were getting ready for the shoot beforehand. It wouldn't be until June until I had my chance with my very own solo, last minute photo shoot. This was going to be discussed in my Summer blog which I never published.

Congratulations Lester and Maria!!!
Midsummer's Day at The Picasso
Daley Plaza, Chicago IL
June 24, 2017

Faded by Alan Walker
My first solo, last minute wedding shoot

The photography has really taken off this year and I've had lots of opportunity to get out there with my camera. At work and with friends. I've taught a few friends how to do HDR photography too, including the header photo, which was done in HDR.

One week in June, my friend Chris approached me and asked if I wanted to help shoot his friend's wedding. It was very, very last minute; however, I agreed. My concern with the shoot was that I was an amateur and that they might want a real professional instead. Chris said he'd shoot it but he was already in the wedding and wanted a friend to help shoot. So I was asked. I'm grateful he did. It exposed me more and gave me more experience. This was a strictly a last minute, solo gig but I did get paid too! That was the bonus.

Chris told me about the wedding on a Wednesday while at work. The wedding was THAT Saturday ha! "I know this is really short notice, but I didn't want a cellphone wedding shoot," he said. "I want them to have some nice pictures. Would you like to help?"

"Sure!" I exclaimed. "Do they know I'm not a pro though?"

"They want something nice but they'll be happy with pictures from an actual camera." Chris said. "We're paying you too." He entreated.

"I'll do it."

Chris gave me the location. The wedding was at City Hall on N. LaSalle. Early. So on Saturday, June 24, I rode the Brown Line down to Washington/Wells and walked over to City Hall. Chris and his wife were there and I met the Bride and Groom with their families inside City Hall.  The shoot started at Daley Center by the Picasso, while we waited in line at the Clerk. The one thing I really loved about this was simply this: IT WAS A GEEK WEDDING!!! Note the theme they used here. If you look really close, it's Star Trek. The Groom is wearing the same suit that Captain Picard wore at Troi and Riker's wedding in Nemesis. Ah man, this was awesome!!!  The theme was awesome.

Congratulations Lester and Maria!!!
Midsummer's Day in front of the Mart
Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago IL
June 24, 2017

I'm glad I know the city so I knew of places to shoot that they both would like. After the Picasso, we were in line next to see the Judge who would preside the marriage. I'm glad I brought my Speed Flash for this! It was dark in there! If there is one thing I learned fast with the couple: they were both very photogenic. There was little directing on my stead. They did it all! I told Chris, "they're both going to very happy and grow old together. I don't have to direct!" I was just there and captured it lol. This one of them at the Picasso is my favorite there! Natural.  All I did was adjust the camera and click the shutter multiple times lol. They did everything themselves!!! I think that's the best kind of shoot there can be. This is my first solo gig as a photographer but I learned something positive from it. If you don't have to direct the bride and groom for photos, they're going to have a successful marriage! You can tell from the photo they're going to be very happy together for the rest of their lives!!!

CJ photobombed!
Midsummer's Day at the Picasso
Daley Plaza, Chicago IL
June 24, 2017

After Lester and Maria were married at City Hall, we walked over to the River Walk by a familiar structure, the Merchandise Mart. There we did some more shooting. I wanted to get the fountains in some of the shots which I think would make the photos look really nice with them. Thank you CJ! What was even more encouraging was how happy everyone was with the photography after wedding. I can definitely see where I can improve next time, but I am grateful that I had this opportunity! My first solo, last minute wedding photo shoot!

To Serenade a Rainbow by PM Dawn
VelocityEHS IT projects

In spring, I made several trips to see my folks in Hinckley OH. Work also was really busy and many projects were completed especially the Skype/Exchange Hybrid Project, to serenade a rainbow (March blog)! It was also a time where I stopped hosting "1001 Things to See in Chicago before you die." I also didn't do the usual Chicago activities I routinely did during spring like the Auto Show, Chiditarod and St. Paddy's Day. I stepped down from the meetup after the Chinatown New Year Parade in February. I got disappointed with the turnouts and the planning caveats. 2017 was a different year for me in Chicago. I did a lot of my own activities on my own occasionally with friends. Many of the activities were done without the meetups. I also joined up with "Lensflare Photography" in Spring and started getting involved with a new photography group. I was getting a little tired of the cliques in some of the meetups. If you know me, then you know I just don't do cliques and I always try to make everyone feel included in a group. As I stated in the beginning of this blog, I'm not putting up with people's shit next year. You think it's mean? Not my problem. Balance needs restored! Give Way!

We Are VelocityEHS
Merchandise Mart Rooftop
July 14, 2017

Recently letting people go for happiness sake. The journey towards happiness moving back to Chicago has been a determination and a journey to fill a regret. In the 5 years I've been back here, I've been striving for the best I can do. The job has been one direction towards that goal and it rightly does fit the "destination is there" theme for 2017. Work. When I joined VelocityEHS in September of 2016, it was part of filling that regret I held onto in Cleveland, and the good thing with the new job here was the fact that it is BROADVOX all over again. This is a good thing. I started Broadvox in Cleveland 2006 (so the new job came 10 years later lol). My manager and the co-workers encompass the good at Velocity. Plus, it's a great place to work at. I must admit though, it is taking me some time to fit in and get used to everyone. There are a lot of people in our company and I'm still learning new faces each day. #wearevelocityehs

Maximum Velocity
March 23, 2017
LaSalle Street Bridge

Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft.
Summer hours and activities

"Summer hours, makes me feel fine. Blowin' through the day with the weekend on my mind." This past Summer at work started Summer Hours. This is the first company I've worked for where they maintained summer hours. Actually, I think is more of a Chicago thing if anything. So during the summer, we started a little earlier or left a little later during the week, giving us Friday to work a shorter day. That was great. It allowed the weekend to start earlier. Everyone on my team took advantage of that luxury, but this didn't stop the projects though. When summer was in full swing, I was busy with work projects, and we had the IwannaCry Ransonware protection project too. There was a lot of after-hour work too so weekend warrior work was constant throughout the Summer. For those that work weekends, you'll know what that's like -- even working remotely. We had a few server projects that have been carried out on Saturdays. It's IT so it's not uncommon! I've also been trying to automate several of our tasks with PowerShell too to help better do our jobs.

Time to raise the bridges
Chicago River, Chicago IL
May 10, 2017

At one team meeting for work, our upper manager stated, "It's summer. Normally we slow down for the season but you all have been really busy with stuff." I guess that's a good thing though. Stay productive. We all had plenty of projects and more upcoming in the new year. Late July, I was given a memo to go through mid year goals and mark new ones. December, this month, I closed out those goals with new ones on the way. I used two of Velocity's mission values as part of my own new year's goals. "Be humble" and "choose simple." It's the first company I've worked at with mission values that make sense as a human being; not just for a business but for everyday life! It's hard to believe that September 12 was one full year with VelocityEHS! Starting in the Spring through the Summer one activity I did during lunch hours at work with a couple other photographers on the IT team, we did photo shoots of the annual bridge lifts over the Chicago River. So, we would use our lunch to go out and take pictures. Also, during the Summer, VelocityEHS provided a lot help with disaster recovery for the hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Ding, ding, ding, ding
It's Wednesday afternoon
June 3, 2017

If you've never seen a bridge lifting on the Chicago River, you can enjoy this short video of the Wells Street bridge being raised...ding ding ding ding. Gotta love lunch breaks during bridge lifting season on the river.

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. During the spring, at work, I also started a photography club called VelocityEYES. It started with Wednesday Bridge Lifts along the Chicago River actually with a few other photographers in the IT Department. The Bridge Lifts usually occur on Wednesdays during Spring. They usually lift the bridges at the same time. We got the idea when we heard the bells on the bridge ringing and watching them raise from our floor in the Merchandise Mart. So that little gathering started a great idea with a photography club.

"Merchandise Mart is next. Doors open on the right at Merchandise Mart. This is Brown Line to the Loop."

My company put out a YouTube video a couple days after I was hired...

"I joined this company with a friend and colleague on September 12, 2016. This was one major milestone goal I succeeded with in 2016 when looking back over the year. My friend Chris Johnson and I worked together at IPsoft on 155 N. Wacker. He left the company first and went over to Velocity. Having worked there for a couple months, he contacted me and told me that he was trying to bring me in too. This was late in 2015. He said, "sit tight," because the company was moving its location into the Merchandise Mart early this year. I was struggling with my career choices as early as January of 2016. I felt I was directionless and going nowhere at IPsoft. I tried to move to another department there to no satisfaction. Only I would understand that battle! I don't expect others to. In August of 2016, Chris contacted me and told me to APPLY NOW. Actually, he invited me out to dinner to discuss the proposal and talk about VelocityEHS. We had dinner at Monk's Pub on Lake & Wells. I remember it. I got the offer in September and I was overjoyed. I put notice in at IPsoft. You really start to learn about people after you leave a company as well. I was glad to be out of that negativity. I felt held back and I was never allowed to shine there." Reposted from my own website:

People Are Strange by The Doors
Ominous Summer in Chicago

During the Summer, the photography took on more but the year was becoming more ominous, and I was getting a heavier unsettled feeling in the air starting in May. I used a scene in Ghost Whisperer to explain the feeling to a friend after having watched the series on Netflix. The Season One episode of "Free Fall" and Melinda's premonitions of the plane crash was how I started feeling in May. It seemed to coincide with the terrorist attack in Manchester and the appearance of the Mothman in Chicago. Wake up number 47 (August blog), a reference to the movie "Mothman Prophecies" and the total number lives lost in the original Silver Bridge collapse in 1966, prefaced the year becoming more foreboding. It wasn't until late July where I heard about its appearance in the city after I spotted a UFO in one of my photos. It was also the same weekend my folks came and visited me. With the Solar Eclipse, my crisis of faith, strange weather phenomena and my health issues, the summer was very tough personally. The highlight for the summer though was my parents visiting in late July. It was a very moving time and a tearful moment after their departure. It was also that last week in July and early August where I had a crisis of faith. My Mom and Dad came and visited me on July 21 and 22. On that Saturday, we spent the day downtown. We went up to my office in the Merchandise Mart, explored the Bean, Grant Park, had lunch at The Gage, and a nice boat cruise on Wendella Boats. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time with them, even having a very tearful departure that Saturday night. Like me, my love of photography comes from my Dad, so he was taking pictures just as I was. Well, it wasn't until later when reviewing my photos where I came across a UFO in one of my photos. I filed a report with MUFON.

Summer Traditions!
Star Wars Marathon

"NOTHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED TODAY," attributed to King George III on July 4, 1776.

If King George III had Twitter or Facebook, he would've tweeted this or made this his status on that day.  July was a hot month!  Usually just after July 4, I start counting down the days to Fall.  Not that I don't mind summer, it's just a lot more comfortable without the awful humidity.  One thing is for sure but "a lot DID happen this month!"  

Of Star Wars and X-Files...
Summer Traditions.

I don't know for certain how the tradition started but each summer, the week of Independence Day, the tradition is that I watch Star Wars, and by Star Wars, I mean the original trilogy, where Han shot first and the Reboband played the cool tune of Lapti Nek.  I think the tradition first started when I was in High School actually, just after school let out for the summer.  So, keeping with the tradition, I kept the spirit alive.  This year, I didn't watch them the week of Independence Day.  I think one reason why is because I did not have a Vacation set aside like usually did at one point.  I had a habit of blotting out vacation time early for this week at previous jobs I had.  Return of the Jedi is still my most favorite movie in the whole of Star Wars! Although my next favorite Star Wars movie became "Rogue One" after last December.

July was a busy month in personal life, not just work. I hung out with a lot of friends, did the Fireworks Cruise on the Lake for Independence Day for a friend's birthday, My Mom and Dad came and visited me, Chicago Full Moon Fire Jams with friends and much more. Most of all? Photography! Like me, my love of photography comes from my Dad, so when he visited me in July, he was taking pictures just as I was. The photography starts with him though.

2017 Goal: "If there is one thing Chicago has taught me is resilience and a certain kind of stubbornness. So, continuing on to not be a door mat and have a little dignity is not a bad thing either. Thank you, Karen Sobolewski for always being supportive of my decisions and pointing me in a self-respectful lifestyle!"

Visiting folks more this year. The past couple months, I've visited my folks in Cleveland more than I have in previous years. Your parents get to a certain point and you constantly worry about them! My brothers live out of State just like me, so there is really no one there in Ohio for them. Other family, you're thinking? Not reliable as far as I'm concerned! That's another story though. I saw my Mom for her birthday in March, a couple times in May and also in June. Another reason was also because of noisy neighbors, so it was also getting away! My folks also lost a member of the family on Father's Day. Little Miss, my Mom's one cat passed away. It broke my Mom's heart. They still have Felix though.

Takes me away to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
Soon I will be free

It gets the best of me

When I'm sailing

I'm very blessed to still have both my parents and I love them more and more each day. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary in January of this year! They're really amazing and I'm thankful I have them as my parents. I wasn't raised in a wealthy family. Both my parents worked, my Dad multiple jobs, just to support us. My Mom worked to help supplement the income. Our wealth came in their love, patience and long-suffering with them. Though we didn't have a wealth of money, we had an abundance of love, discipline and self-sacrifice! THAT is the family I'm proud of, the family I'm thankful I was raised in. Why? Well simply because it's taught me how to be a better human being in a selfish world. It also taught me respect and earning it through hard work and discipline! I'm a proud Gen Xer because of that and my folks.

2017 The Destination is There
Midsummer Delight
June 18, 2017

Midsummer delight. Happy Father's Day Dad! I dedicated this video to my Dad for Father's Day. The video covers the first half of the year of photography with some flashbacks to my San Diego Vacation last year with my brother! My Dad is the reason why I love photography and he was the reason I fell in love with it. In Chicago here, there are plenty of places for photography inside the city and outside it. Chicago is a very photogenic city and there is not shortage of opportunities. I carry my camera with me (among other items) each day I go to work. You never know when the chance arises that there might be a good shot. This picture made me cry after I developed it in Light Room. My Mom "appears" from of the time portal!

Time Portal back to July 22
The Bean
Grant Park, Chicago IL
July 22, 2017

Sailing by Christopher Cross.
Time Portal July 22. 

Yes, the story of this photo made me cry when a friend of mine called the picture a "Time Portal," especially since my Mom appears to emerge from it. So the story of this photo wasn't mine but my friend's. My folks visited me here as part as their "Go West" road trip this past Summer. I was their first stop. I cried! On Friday the 21st, they drove in and stayed at the Rodeway Inn on N. Lincoln by Peterson. Although they weren't too thrilled with Chicago traffic here, they made good time. Since we have Summer Hours at work, I was able to meet up with them in the evening at the hotel. It was one straight Kimball/Homan 82 bus up to Peterson. Then a short walk over to the hotel. The weather was hot and humid, blech, but it's Summer. Getting there, we had dinner at the Outback in Niles. Yeah, it was original but we wanted something familiar for dinner. So I knew of the Outback on Touhy.  We ate there. After my stop, they continued on west on I-90 for other site seeing stops.

I forgot my password!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!
Richard Trigg and TriggFX Photography
Garfield Heights, Ohio
March 25, 2017

This Summer, I also learned a lot with Adobe Photoshop tips from my friend Richard Trigg the few times I visited my folks in the Spring and Summer. I learned a lot from Rich and he has incredible photography. Check out his website, TriggFX! From photo shooting down to the technique he used for touch ups in Photoshop for all his models. Rich and I go way back even before photography. By the way, for those reading, note that I took a lot of text out of my Summer blog (which I never published) and put it here in my New Year's blog. I did that to fill in the Summer "gap."

James Baranski Photography at the Beach
North Avenue Beach
Lincoln Park, Chicago IL
July 30, 2017

Another photography event I worked on was with James Baranski Photography again at North Avenue Beach. I helped him setup for a model shoot. It was a hot day out and the beach was very comforting. James and I spent the whole Sunday there. Again, disappointed, I didn't get to do any shooting. This made me re-evaluate how I want to take my photography into 2018. The only real experience I got was the Wedding photo shoot I did in June.

August Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam
Fire Breathing
Lawrence Beach, Chicago IL
August 7, 2017

July Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam
Fire Wrangling
Lawrence Beach, Chicago IL
July 6, 2017

July Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam
Surprise Hoop
Lawrence Beach, Chicago IL
July 6, 2017

August Chicago Full Moon Fire Jam
Fiery Smile!
Lawrence Beach, Chicago IL
August 7, 2017

Chicago Full Moon Fire Jams. One other event I've enjoyed over the summer were the Chicago Full Moon Fire Jams near Lawrence Beach in Uptown. Actually, I went to two this Summer, both times with my own photography and with a friend. It was after this where I really became upset with meetup and one of the organizers. After posting one of my Fire Jam photos on Facebook, he scolded me for not making it a group event on meetup. Rather angered by that, I dropped out of his meetup group. This only proved my point earlier in the year how I felt about meetup, organizing and cliques. These fire jam events helped me practice my portrait photography more. The last photo was part of a series with the same fire wrangler. She saw me shooting her from a distance, and she posed for me even though she wasn't in front of me. I hope she found her photos on the Intsagram Chicago Fire Jam group. Probably should've gotten her phone number lol

The Destination is There by Carman
Where is my destination

Probably the most notable time of the year and the Summit of the year occurred in August and September. Early August had a New Year's goal smack me right in the face. This year I've been really battling and struggling with faith and anxiety...especially more this Summer, and it has given me an idea for my New Year's Theme of 2018, The Battleground is in the Heart. That battle has intensified this Summer especially after my parents came to visit me in July. I think the main reason I chose The Destination is There last December  for my 2017 theme was, not only because of the song by Carman, but because of going back to church and getting back into faith and God's Grace. Last August 2016, I was looking for a home church with my friend Michael Lawrence and the first hit on Google gave me "Destination Church" in Chicago. The problem with that is I procrastinated on attending, which brings me to August 2017 and being "nudged" I think.  I've traditionally celebrated September 1st as the Elfin New Year (from old Fantasy Stories I've written). It begins the 23 days of Summall; it would also mark another foreboding day which David Meade got his few months of fame and recognition after the August 21 Solar Eclipse, the Revelation 12 sign, and the End of the World on September 23. Oddly, that day also marked Day 1973 for me moving back to Chicago.

With anxiety kicking in again at "why" this happened, it only got me thinking heavily on my 2017 goal, and Destination Church. Why is Day 1973 (September blog) the same day as September 23 with all the end of the world hype? Why did I move back to Chicago on April 29, 2012 and why was I born in 1973? Psalm 139! That's why!

2017 Goal: "Build my faith stronger and filled with the Spirit. Accountability. Destination Church in Wrigleyville. Thank you, Michael K. Lawrence II."

Total Eclipse of the Mart
The Merchandise Mart
River North, Chicago IL
August 21, 2017

The Solar Eclipse. Our manager let us use our lunch to go to the rooftop of the Mart to "view" the eclipse. That day, I fitted my one lens with a filter which would protect my lens from the sun and give me 4 extra stops, allowing more definition of the eclipse. Before the eclipse, I went to the roof with a couple other photographer at work and we setup our cameras. The eclipse began at 11:54 a.m., reaching a maximum at 1:19 p.m. and ended at 2:42 p.m in Chicago. I included that in my August blog and the fear I had with August 23 and the possibility of a "Black Sky Event." According to EIS council's website, there is going to be an exercise that day. August 23: Emergency All-sector Response Transnational Hazard Exercise

Solar Eclipse Maximum
Total Eclipse of the Mart
Merchandise Mart
River North, Chicago IL
August 21, 2017 11:47

Summing up September just before my trip, I started attending "Small Groups" with Destination Church. It made me think about this goal.

2017 Goal: "Landmark Chicago. I was introduced to this by a friend. I'm making this a goal. I'm still finding my purpose here in Chicago.Thank you, Therie Yi-Shin Lai. That November 15th date has a special meaning for me, being my Chicago-versary, but I'm yet to find my place and purpose here."

Identity Rescue. I haven't forgotten about this goal that I came up with my friend Therie when she invited me to her graduation at "Landmark Chicago" last year. The small groups almost ... if not ... touched this goal. Next year, I intend to keep this goal since my company has something similar. Many times in life I don't feel like I fit. When I finally let people in, they treat me like a freak. This has happened many time and I'm very disappointed with some people who are so narrow-minded and not very understanding; I don't like being treated like a FREAK. I'm hoping 2018 brings honest people in my life.
  1. I told this to my friend Rich when I visited for Christmas this year, but there is a big difference between people in Cleveland than in Chicago. For dating, the single women that I've met are all stuck on themselves and stuck up (not all). People are rude (not all). Opposite in Cleveland. People and women are more polite. So, no, I'm not moving back. Yes, 2018 will be a challenge finding the good one.

  2. I've dealt with various skin problems most of my life and most recently, I've developed Psoriasis. It's not only on my arms but now it's on my abdomen and back. I don't like being looked at as a leper and unfortunately there is no cure for this. It's an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks "normal" cells. IT IS NOT CONTAGIOUS, so you don't have to shirk your hand away quickly when you shake mine, that is unless you've seen me picking my nose beforehand. I've lived most of my life unable to use certain laundry soaps and bar soaps because I break out in an awful skin rash. There have been flare ups have been overwhelming and I'm waking in the middle of the night in a "death itch." So, it's not been comfortable sleeping for the past month or so with this. I'm seeking remedies for this, but I caution myself on any drug that says "suppress + immune system" in the treatment.

  3. Yes, I've had some really bizarre dreams or feelings that have come true, especially those with deaths in them. I especially don't like fellow Christian brothers or sisters looking at me or telling me that I'm a freak because of my dreams. How do you think I feel when it happens? MY SKIN CRAWLS and even I'm uncomfortable EVERY TIME. Many people in the Bible had premonition dreams. I'm thankful for those friends who DO understand or that are accepting. I told someone my dream about moving here to Chicago and he treated me like a freak and mentioned how creepy I was. Gee, thanks!

Number 3 has been more notable this year. For instance, when I was at the Grand Red Line subway tunnel a couple months back, I felt like I was getting hit by the train. It was an intense feeling and it happened out of the blue ... er the red. Well, a week later, someone WAS hit by that same train at the same stop and the same platform. It was plastered on the news. That's only one instance of this. The latest was recent, just before travelling to see my folks in Cleveland. The night before, I felt a car accident, and it made me think about my trip to visit and the possible weather conditions. Moments later, my friend in Cleveland texts and says she was in a car accident! So, again, another instance of this and it's hard to open up about this. The first time I felt one of these was when my Grandma passed away in 1989. This has surfaced so often in my life, including my Mom's stroke. The scary part? It reflects in my PHOTOGRAPHY and my WRITING. I don't understand it or why? So, my purpose in Chicago? I still don't know or understand it, but I think it partly ties in with October and November of this year, and the Small Groups at church. This will be my "Identity Rescue!"

As an Empath and a Sensitive, I've learned this year how to pay attention more to the Big Picture and what's going on around me, not just in my own life, but with people I love. 2017 was that year. Sensitive? Yeah, a word I hate being used to label me, but you know what? It's time to embrace it in spite of its "negative tone."  I used Ghost Whisperer's Season One finale "Free Fall" to describe how that "odd heaviness in the air" felt this past Spring. Reflecting on it this month, I understand what I need to do to help others, and how the year turned into a year of catastrophe.

Secret Call by Ginkgo Garden
Destination England.

In October, I travelled to the United Kingdom for a getaway and vacation. It was the first time outside the United States. Destination England. Never get beyond the sight (November blog). The journey for England actually started earlier this year in March when I filled out US Passport papers to get my first US Passport. I remember a couple trips to the Richard Daley Center, the courthouse downtown, filling out the paperwork and submitting my information. There the process and the journey had its start. With one bump in the road, getting that cleared with one phone call to Raleigh NC (the State of my birth), since my birth record was not the right one submitted, I obtained my first ever US Passport on June 12. The trip began. I had already been planning and booking my trip in May. I had help with my trip from friend and co-worker, Chris Johnson, who is from the UK. He gave me pointers and tips how to help save money. Hurricane Ophelia payed England a visit while I was in London.

2017 Goal: "Happy Now? Happy Later?" Happy Now! Todd, if you're reading this, you remember when you said this to me 10 years ago, and I said Happy Later? I'm making it a goal in 2017. I still don't know to this day why you asked me this, but it has made me think about my own happiness lately. Thank you, Todd E. Florian
Nelson's Column
Hurricane Ophelia visits.
Greater London, London UK
October 16, 2017

For my birthday this year which was Friday the 13th, October, I spent a couple weeks there. I've had some notable birthdays, but I wanted to make this year a special one and visit another country. It was a great time and it was the first time I experienced another country. I stayed in Avebury, Wiltshire at a B&B and did all my own driving - on the wrong side of the road. The last two days, I spent the days in London when Ophelia hit, so all my pictures in London have apocalyptic, looking skies. I started my trip in Avebury and toured the Avebury Stonehenge; went to Stonehenge in Salisbury Plains, went to Devizes, Nottingham (ancestors), Gosport, London. Why Gosport you're thinking? I met a friend there who I first met online through Wizards of the Coast, AIM, Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger back in 2001. Since then, we've maintained an online friendship. 16 years later, we finally met in person! Amazing experience and seeing her too. Thank you Debb aka Bobbsta! I visited Nottingham because that's where the Chathams came from originally before immigrating to the US.

Looking out over Nottingham
Nottingham Castle
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire UK
October 15, 2017

I booked a B&B in, yeah, you guessed it, AVEBURY, lol. My flight path was ORD to MAN, not Heathrow. CJ said Manchester would be a cheaper bet, so I took him up on that. Also, to help save further, my flight out was Monday evening (cheaper than during the day and the weekend). That was step one. Step 2? Yeah, you guessed it. DRIVING IN ENGLAND -- ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD, lol. At the airport I reserved myself a car upon my arrival. Right there and then did I realize what that meant. I would have to drive in England. It wasn't so much driving on the left side as that being an issue. It was that right hand turn. Cross traffic (like our left turn here in the States). I kept drilling that into my head after the reservation lol. Right turn crosses over traffic! Little did I know at the time -- but later warned -- were the English roundabouts! They're all over there! So, I did some asking around like CJ and my friend Debb in England about the driving patterns. I'm here now, composing this blog. I survived it! Lol. Actually, I caught myself 2 or 3 times on my trip turning right on the wrong side of the road. Luckily, I had oncoming traffic to remind me, "hey stupid, LEFT side of the road!" Ha! The roundabouts, well, it took some time to master those!

My Trip Map...

Here is the video I did of my trip there...

2017 The Destination is There
Destination England
October 13, 2017

Later in November, I made a connection to a place I visited in England and my November 15, Chicago-versary. It revolved around the town of Avebury. This town was used in a TV Series called "Children of the Stones" where it was called Milbury. In the series, the villagers are trapped in a time loop. I was trapped in a TIME LOOP of my own just like this village was trapped. I stayed in Avebury for the duration of the trip at a B&B there. Avebury was my first bucket list item I made as a kid of 10 or 11 years old. By the way, Avebury is Milbury from the TV Series. It's interesting how this works out because I was originally fascinated by Avebury from the TV Series called "Children of the Stones." I first watched it when Nickelodeon first came out and, for those that remember, when it shared network space with A&E for a time before getting its own station.  Anyhow, Nickelodeon came on at 7pm in the evening after A&E. The two shows they aired were "You can't do that on television" and "Third Eye." We watched them both as kids (my brothers and me). In the Third Eye series, they aired the 1977 Children of the Stones UK series as one of stories in the program.

NV15 ; The Destination is There
West Town Tattoo
West Town, Chicago IL
November 18, 2017

I was trapped in a "time loop" of my own just like the Brakes were in Children of the Stones. It's very interesting that I made the connection to the TV Series and my November 15 time loop when I came back from England and after November 15 passed this year. Coincidence ... or another Time Loop? I used the final episode of the series "Full Circle" to describe my year, and my Chicago-versary. See the story towards the top.

2017 Goal: If there is one thing Chicago has taught me is resilience and a certain kind of stubbornness. So, continuing on to not be a door mat and have a little dignity is not a bad thing either. Thank you, Karen Sobolewski for always being supportive of my decisions and pointing me in a self-respectful lifestyle!

Some of you know the meaning of the semi-colon on one's wrist. I encourage you to ask someone if you see it. Ask them "how long has it been since that?" They'd be surprised you knew what that was. I've considered doing the same thing recently. My story ( ; ) would probably start on November 15, 2011. November 14, I could've ended it and it was a VERY dark day for me and I almost went through with it, but that's what the semicolon is. It continues my story. By personal recommendation from my coworker and friend, Joe, I went to West Town Tattoo on November 18 to commerate the event. I don't normally tattoo my body, but I needed to finally do this. Sorry, Michael Lawrence we didn't get to do this together. I didn't want to put it off anymore.

Drawn to it!
Navy Pier, Chicago IL
December 3, 2017

Message 19! November 14, 2001
10 Years later, my dark day???

Actually it was interesting to find something I wrote on November 14, 2001 (original transmission), ten years before that dark day. It was recently I found this information, and it's blatantly even on my own website! It was in my own writings and it had the hair standing on the back of my neck. I posted the following on a message board where "creative writers" shared stories they were writing, and it was the story I wrote was originally transmitted in email on the November 14th day. Even more interesting enough, the story was later shared on my website (originally GeoCities). I think it was called Message 19 because that's the order in the email transmissions. I was sending the stories in email transmissions in 2001.

Here is the content of the topic I shared on the "creative writers" forum I shared on WOTC, Wizards of the Coast on Once Upon A Time (OOC)...

"December 17, 2002 ... 
Once upon a time, there was a time when life was happy and free. Light shined and hope prevailed, but that time has been all but forgotten with the distress of disdain and heartache. Pain and grief consumed the bearer of dreams and his kingdom was overcome with nightmare....  
The story I posted has always had impeccable premonition surrounding it. Everytime this story has been posted, some kind of doom surrounds it. Please, don't let that stop you from reading or enjoying it. It is a message of hope and prevail. [Smile]  
Also dubbed Message 19, many mysteries encompass this story. This story is a premonition and an encouragement to fight the good fight and not lose hope. I posted it here, because to whom the story it was dedicated to and the author share a certain tying link with its truth. We both went through an awful time together last year, and this story was written weeks before. After we both saw a ray of hope in the story, we both savored a victory from it. I would like to post it here in hopes I may seek a victory in a current life struggle. 
I wrote this story in a logical standpoint of my fantasty series, but unbeknownst to me, the story showed me a prediction of certain forthcoming doom in me and my friend (dedication). I want to share it here in hopes I may have a victory. 
Please feel free to read at your leisure and share your thoughts in this thread ... THE STORY 

So, it's interesting how this works and makes my head hurt. This original story was written to help a friend overcome HER darkness! It had an ominous touch to it because whenever I shared the story, it coincided with dark periods she went through. That's why it was dedicated accordingly later. Then 10 years after it was transmitted in email, I have MY dark day!!!! Little did I even know!

Then, there was I, and only I remain
November 15, 2011, after the semi-colon

Actually it was Karen Sobolewski that helped me through that night and she's been very supportive, even with the tattoo. So, this goal, unbeknownst to me, does tie oddly into this. I never considered that when I made the goal last December, but now see it when going back to review it. Getting the tattoo was a bit painful and it reminded me of that day actually where the story could've ended. It was put on the same wrist as well. Actually, I can't get over all the support for doing this. It's been a real encouragement and I know one other person that has the semicolon tattoo, a former co-worker. I remember asking him about it and he was the first one actually to encourage me to get it! Thanks, IPsoft! The whole story about my November 15 journey and the poem I wrote about it appear in the blog, And, only I remain in November 2013.

Summing up the whole year...

If I were to sum up the entire year in one word, it would be "anxious." This year...

2017 The Destination is There. Not only did it involve traveling this year to a foreign country, it worked (smacked me in the face) with faith. If I were to take one word though that was common throughout the year, it would be anxiety -- more notably starting in May. I based the theme from Carman's song in 1985. The song was about living out your dreams and making them happen with God's help. In fact, I related the feeling to the episode of Ghost Whisperer called "Free Fall." There, Melinda has premonitions about a plane crash in Grandview and she states that there's an odd "heaviness in the air." That was the feeling I had in Chicago in May. I started the blog this way. From asteroids, solar flares, the solar eclipse, The Mothman in Chicago, N. Korea, hurricanes, David Meade, the end of the world, Day 1973 (for me), Equifax breach, Iwannacry Ransomware, down to identity theft and even my lousy neighbors, we're all still here. This might be why I started feeling the way I did in May, before these things, and why I've entitled this last blog of 2017 as RELEASE, not just for the "Children of the Stones" reference! I want release from this ill-feeling. It hasn't released. One thing this year has taught me is paying attention to how I feel because it's not my own, it's someone else. I've started checking in more with loved ones when I start feeling "off" this year.

Merry Christmas Chicago
Chicago Riverwalk
The Loop, Chicago IL
October 29, 2017

Tabula Rasa. This year also where I did a lot of re-evaluating of family and people around me. In January, I stopped hosting that meetup group. I stopped doing all the familiar stuff and tried new stuff. I think everyone does this but being here in Chicago for 5 years now has taught me a lot about people. I've taken on some stubbornness, resilience and a little self-dignity. While it's been very hard making new friends here, I'm hoping 2018 brings the good people in my life. While 2012 up to this year migtht've been passively trying to "fit in," I want 2018 to be with people that are of real value to me. The trial period for people is OVER next year.

Here is a video I did with all my photos for 2017. Enjoy...

2017 The Destination is There
Final Destination... 2018
Give Way!

Not everyone does resolutions, but I do. I am happy that I have embraced this and I have followed through with my list. There were a few that I struggled with and will have to try again next year. There are some goals I've kept and renamed. The weight loss goal has been incorporated again with my autoimmune disease issues. I start new medication next month, so I'm hoping it helps with the new goal. Last Christmas, I spent in Chinatown on a date. Again ... made me think about people after this past January.

Arrival of a Star
Daley Plaza, Chicago IL
December 2, 2017

1001 Things To Do In Chicago Before You Die. I forgot to include this information. Well, it came down to it December when I had a personal invitation to Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. This has been a long-held tradition of the meetup group, one event that I planned each year too as a group. This year I wasn't a host, just a member. The lead owner of the group (the organizer I gave the meetup to in February) was someone I was starting to have an issue with from Summer and taking my own photography to the Fire Jams. After he distastefully chided me for not making the Fire Jam a meetup, I dropped out of all HIS meetups. So, when I got the PERSONAL invitation from the woman that has been with the group since its first inception, I was divided. She also sent me a PERSONAL invitation to the Windy City Wine Festival in September, another long-held tradition of the meetup group. Both times I accepted because of her affinity of the group PRIOR to the current owner of the meetup. So this next year, I'm re-evaluating my membership in the group or going out on my own, finding new people as my friend Rich Trigg suggested over Christmas. I went to both Christkindlmarket and Windy City Wine Festival and enjoyed familiar faces and some new ones. These were the only TWO events I did with the group this year after relinquishing my owner status of the group. So, I think depending on what she organizes in the new year, I'll hinge my choice on that. If there isn't much planned by her, I'll probably drop out by end of this Summer. Anything organized by the owner of his clique of people, I don't intend joining with. [I added this section on January 7, 2018]

Christmas Tree at the Mart main entrance
Merchandise Mart
River North, Chicago IL
December 12, 2017

The Final Song by MØ
2017 The Destination is There

The story behind that photo and my year...

I walked into 2017 alone... I walked on icy ground throughout the year full of anxiety with fear of slipping off that path... People came and went, the ones that stayed the course shared the same... The Destination was There... I reached my final destination in 2017. I will walk into 2018 alone, but GIVE WAY! It's my turn now! This picture was attributed to my journey through the year. It was taken at North Avenue Beach on January 15, 2017 with my friend Jim. It would become a portent of the year to come. Tamed by the horizon ahead, my path thereto diverted off... but only temporarily not permanently! That path goes into 2018, and there it would go. Give way! Only I shall remain...

Walking on Ice
North Avenue Beach
Lincoln park, Chicago IL
January 15, 2017

Through the years...

Since 2011 Dibs, I've done a New Year's theme. This year's which I set last December was "The Destination is There." I've done this because I found that it makes resolutions a little easier to follow through in the year. 2017 lived up to its theme for me. I've found that sometimes it's easier to resolve the year by making it into a theme.

2011 Dibs: Worst year ever! Last spoken words that year as ball dropped? "DIBS!" 2011 was one of my worst years on record, and it came due to career path and other choices. Late in the year, I had chosen an entirely different journey which brought me back to Chicago. In 2011, I was living in Brunswick OH (south of Cleveland). I worked downtown at a company called Broadvox but, just as we all do, I learned from my mistake switching jobs in August of that year. The company I went with does not even deserve to be mentioned here. Even though it was a pitfall in my life, it also became a shining light at the end of the tunnel. November 15 is celebrated as my Chicago-versary. Luckily, that light at the end of the tunnel was not an oncoming train, but I did stay on track after my 38th birthday on October 13. By NYE 2011, I was hoping for a different journey in life and I called out DIBS as the ball dropped to usher in 2012. No one in the room knew what that meant, only I did. I didn't belong in Cleveland anymore. The destination was not there.

2012 Welcome home: In 2012, I visited Chicago for the first time since 1996 when I last lived here. I was here for job interviews. In April 2012, I packed up my place in Brunswick OH and moved. I started my Chicago Journey by moving to Darien IL for a couple years before moving back into the City. 2012 was a brand new start and a fresh start to pick up the pieces from 15 broken years of my life.

2013 A Resolution in High Definition: I picked this theme in 2013 to represent all the new changes and exciting things happening in my life. That year, I was part of a meetup group called Venture Around and it allowed me to explore Chicago and meet new people in the city. I also picked that theme because the Sears Tower is the tallest building in Chicago and I once wrote about towers and prayer. Towers allow us to see down the road further and to see what lies ahead. If you want to capture the world in High Definition, climb a tower.

2014 It's Time: The year started out with a very foreboding feeling and it really felt like the year was off and time was short.  Since then, each year, I've gotten this ill-foreboding year including this one. In 2014, I moved into the city to Albany Park, where I am currently residing now. 2014 was not an uppity year. Work took me away to different parts of the country each week, and it was a depressing year.

2015 Twelve Moons: In January, I started with IPsoft. It started off great and got me back into the swing of things and there wasn't weekly travel, so it was nice to enjoy life in Chicago again and be put in charge of the meetup group called "1001 Things to See in Chicago before You Die." 2015 was a very positive year! I got out more.  The only blog I wrote in 2015 was about the Blood Moon. I took a lot of photos that year and I composed a YouTube video of my work.

2016 A Letter from the Front: The theme for this year came from a Mylon and Broken Heart song, which I heard on my MP3 player on NYE 2015 as I was riding home on the Brown Line one night after work. The year was a challenging one.  I fought many battles, mainly with health and career. I overcame some of the health issues and I overcame the career change late in the year in September. The chorus of the song reminds us to "keep the home fires burning."

2018 Give Way! Setting Goals...

Going up to 17 in 2017
Destination 17!
Merchandise Mart
We Are VelocityEHS

So now we come down to it. 2018 Give Way! What goals do I have this year? I walked into the year alone, I will walk into 2018 alone, but maybe that'll change this year...

• "Can't. Can't? Can." The power of the Cross. Dive deeper in faith. 2017 version of this goal smacked me in the face this past summer. Calm the storms in my life, Lord. 2017 was filled with a lot of anxiety and disbelief. This goal came into effect in a Small Group while diving into the book of Romans in October. Thanks Zac Coleman, Michael Lawrence and Jeff Korhorn!

• "Snubbed? Brushed off? Meekly stand out." Endeavor to find deep meaningful relationships, and people worth your time and effort. If it means eliminating a lot of people from your life, do it. This one ties in with "Identity Rescue." I've already taken measure to keeping those loved ones in my life but letting the other "clutter" go. Thanks Karen Sobolewski ... again!

• "Stop setting a goal to find love. It's out there." It's taken 11 seasons of X-Files for Mulder and Scully to get the truth and they still don't have it all. I will be signing up for the full membership on eHarmony but I need to stop making it goal. This almost sounds like a conundrum of a goal, but I know how I see it in my head lol. Thanks Shannon Kuehn!

• "A smile kills a thousand ills." Volunteer. Help. Grace. Mercy. Charity. Sometimes, even a warm smile brightens someone's day. This one speaks for itself. In my search to find my purpose and meaning in Chicago, it starts with a smile. Thanks Therie Yi-Shin Lai ... again!

• "Identity Rescue." With Identity Theft this year, this involves many things. Stop being in crowds of people that make you alone. Not only does this reflect on my own identity theft in October, but also with who I am as a person and the 2017 goal about resilience. Thanks fellow INFJs, Chris Johnson and Tim Fargo! 

• "Location. Location" Do I move back to Waterfall Glen or stay in the city? The awful neighbors I once had are not a problem now. So question now; stay or leave? Thanks New Neighbor, Steve London, Keller-Williams Realty, Silver Property Group!

• "Forgiveness. Take a chance and move on." There are still a lot of people I need to forgive, but that doesn't mean resuming a previous friendship or relationship. My Mom and I discussed this over Christmas. Thanks Mom!

• "We are VelocityEHS." This goal covers job success, health and vitality. It's a subset of my career goals with VelocityEHS. My company has very humanistic goals, the only company I've worked with that has goals that make sense as a human being and common sense, not just for a company but in everyday life! "Be humble" and "Choose simple" are two I'm pulling out of there to focus on the most. Thanks VelocityEHS!

• "In a twinkling of the shutter." Shutterfest with Rich. Photography. Continue on with landscaping and portrait shoots. Develop (no pun intended) business relationships, find ways to market, sell my photography, and start a new FB page strictly for photography contacts and clients. "Eric R. Chatham" is a brand name. Make it one! Thanks Richard Trigg. 

• "To thine own self be true." 2017 was a year of doctors and health issues. Not only continue with a healthy lifestyle of exercise, dieting, weight loss, but becoming a better coach to my health issues and autoimmune disease. Thanks Dr Kenneth Gong and Dr Jang-Mi Johnson!

2018 Give Way! Goals locked in! Thank you for reading this blog if you indeed read it all. I intend to "give way" but it's my hope that others in my life do the same. What will you do for the new year?

2018 GIVE WAY!


This blog's Spotify Playlist:
2017 The Destination is There | Release

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My Life starts at the Chicago Water Tower!
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