Saturday, May 14, 2011

35 of My Favorite Things

With flipped burgers among family and a few friends, my 35th birthday came and went in March. As this milestone year passes, I catch myself reflecting now and again on certain aspects of life.

At the risk of exposing myself, I’m sharing 35 of my favorite things. Most of these I take for granted.

Simply put, these make life worth living. As with anything finite, this list is not all-inclusive—but it is thematic, and I like that. Plus, I had to set a limit somehow.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Here goes, in random order:

1. Texas—I’m a proud (not loud) Texan. The Lone Star State, all 268,820 square miles of it, provides the best of nature, people and tradition. It is a state of mind.

2. Books—My preference is the traditional sort over an e-reader, although I’m boycotting the library indefinitely, after being forced to pay for a recent checkout on account of water damage. I prefer reading a book over watching TV any day.

3. US Craft Beer—Have you been to your beer store lately? There are more unique and independent beers available now than ever. They come in several varieties—Wild Ale, Double IPA and Imperial Stout, to name a few. If you drink beer, drink better beer.

4. Habanos Montecristos—A close friend once introduced me to Montecristo No. 4, a fine smoke indeed. If a No. 2 is offered, I’m not afraid to notch it up a couple of gauges.

5. Coffee—I enjoy a strong cup of java nearly every morning. I like a medium blend, from a French press if time permits (usually on Saturdays). If an espresso fits into my afternoon schedule, I might take advantage.

6. Cooking—When I have time to prep accordingly, I love to cook—especially for my wife. I don’t mind doing it on a whim, either, but I enjoy the process as much as the result.

7. Cultures—I embrace new cultures. My first immersive “cultural experience” came from behind the bar during the summer of ’95 in Puerto Rico. Payment for my efforts came largely in the form of the island’s finest rum, Don Q. It was the experience that mattered.

8. Language—I speak Spanish and Portuguese. There’s no better way to get to know people than by speaking their native tongue. It’s an instant “conversation starter.”

9. Entrepreneurship—To some extent, we are all entrepreneurs. In my view, we ought to focus on bringing value to the table, no matter where we’re seated.

10. Intense Exercise—I like a mix of exercise and squeeze in a workout whenever I can. Let’s call it stress relief. Since I’m currently training for a triathlon, it’s critical right now.

11. Adventurous Travel—The more unplanned, the better. It’s amazing what we can experience without plans, which is not easy for a planner like me.

12. Faith—I have it and am grateful for the gift of a being spiritually centered. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

13. Farmers Markets—It’s been positive to witness this scene develop in Houston. I’ve been a patron-advocate of farmers markets for years. Fresh and local food beats all other.

14. Getting Inspired, Inspiring—I’m always seeking inspiration, and when I find it, I pass it along to others. Case in point, watch this inspirational video of a dude on his orange bike.

15. Homemade Brownies—I’m happy to cook them, preferably without nuts.

16. Independent Radio—Radio remains an important medium. One way to get a feel for a city is to listen to its community radio station(s). Here are a few online standouts: KXT, KUT and WXPN.

17. Interesting People—I love to meet people, and feed off of those taking their lives in interesting directions. I don’t know who said it, but I like it: “Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.”

18. Lifelong Learning—I have three degrees, and while it’s unlikely that I’ll earn another, my personal learning curve is progressively steepening. Knowledge is a powerful asset.

19. Live Music—I have been to many a memorable show. The Grateful Dead in Memphis. Buena Vista Social Club in Santiago. Doing nothing with live music in the background is preferable to doing anything else without it.

20. Yerba Mate—Okay, so you can tell I like caffeine. This stimulant from the land of Latin America is oh so refreshing—and better for you than coffee, I’m sure.

21. Road Trips—Modern day roaming. The most out of the ordinary road trip I ever took was in Morocco. Emily and I took a scenic one to West Texas and back to Houston last fall. Have a look for yourself.

22. Swimming—Morning swims are the best, right out of bed. I like Barton Springs Pool. I love the Pacific Ocean.

23. Smoothies—Every morning, if not traveling, I make a smoothie for Emily and me. She calls me the Smoothie Operator, and I’m fine with that. There’s not much more nutritious than beginning a day with almond milk, banana, açaí and seasonal fruits. I recommend it.

24. Playing Catch—Give me a ball to throw and go deep.

25. Time Well Spent—Whether it’s being productive in work or looking back on a vacation day with satisfaction, time is your nonrenewable resource. Don’t waste it.

26. Vanilla Ice Cream—This speaks to my personality to a certain degree. While I like color, and lots of it, I myself am rather plain. No high fructose corn syrup, please.

27. Emily—I’m luckier than she is, I’ll put it that way.

28. Working Remotely—I’m fortunate to work for a leading-edge company that manages its oceanic workforce as masterfully as any. There are times when it’s considered efficient and productive to work from the virtual office. On rare occasions, I work in shorts.

29. Writing—To borrow a line from a fellow Texan, Willie Nelson: “I like myself better when I'm writing regularly.” It’s healthy for me, too, Willie.

30. Yoga—Once per week, if I can get there. I could tell where it is I go, but then I'd have to kill you, and that wouldn't be yogi-like. Once on the mat, my priorities promptly fall into order. Breathe.

31. Deep Friendships—I think my personality comes across as introverted at first. But more often than not, when I get to know someone, we become good friends.

32. Steak—Ribeye, New York Strip, you name it, particularly when I’m manning the fire. Try this way to grill a ribeye.

33. Granola—Maybe my last meal request. Don’t ask me why. It tastes great to me, and always has. A large bowl of granola makes a delightful snack.

34. The City by the Bay—As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m a city guy, and my favorite among them all might be San Francisco. On a pretty day, there’s no place prettier.

35. Peanut Butter—Another fulfilling snack. I like to have a spoonful, sometimes before I go to bed.

However far along you are in life, I suggest performing the exercise I did above. It won’t take as long as you think (particularly without descriptions). Another Willie quote may best summarize why you should consider it: “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

I’m not suggesting that my life needs a turnaround. It’s not perfect. Nobody’s is. But it’s on a straight enough track for me.

I believe that knowing who you are, what makes you tick and why, will lead to a pleasant life – not only for yourself but for those closest to you, too. If nothing else, creating a modicum of consistency between who we think we are and who others think we are can eliminate a certain amount of stress we place on ourselves by trying to be someone we’re not.

Buena suerte. Boa Sorte. Good luck.


  1. Inspirational post, Chad. Very well said. I'm 100% with you on many of these, especially the Granola :)