Be.

The cover page of my 2014 planner.

The cover page of my 2014 planner.

I have three New Year’s resolutions that I am making this year.  They are: Be Fit. Be Here. Be True.

Be Fit.  I would not consider myself over weight our completely out of shape but I definitely do not believe that I am living as healthy of a life style as I should be.  My hectic work travel schedule means I eat out quite frequently and I don’t think I have ever looked for a healthy option on a menu.  I have run a 10 miler the past two years but I only train for that event with not much other physical exercise throughout the year.  In 2014 I will be fit.  I will look for the healthier options on the menu and I will do some sort of physical exercise weekly.  I have a family that needs me here for the long haul.

Be Here. A demanding job and hectic work schedule means I spend way less time at home than I like.  However, when I am home, I find myself checking work email and fiddling with my gadgets constantly.  Facebook has made us more interested in what is going on everywhere but here.  In 2014, when Mary, Liam and Lily are awake the phone, tablet or laptop does not need to be out.  I am taking advantage of every moment I am afforded with my amazing family.

Be True.  I sometimes fool myself into believing that anyone or anything outside of my family and friends deserves my loyalty.  The fact of the matter is that nothing really does.  Such misplaced loyalty causes one to pass on opportunities he/she shouldn’t and to make decisions that are not in the best interest of himself/herself.  In 2014, I will be true to my family and myself.  Being true means family first, always.

As I tweeted earlier, it is a new year.  I will own it.  No regrets.  No excuses.

Capturing the Excitement of Christmas

Becoming a parent has surely reinvigorated my excitement for Christmas.  The excitement little ones have for the holiday can only be described as infectious. From  the way there eyes sparkle with the reflection of the lights on the tree to the joy they get from sitting on Santa’s lap. I wish I could bottle up Liam’s excitement and share it with all the Scrooge’s out there.

My hope for Liam is that long after the believing subsides that the spirit of giving will remain.

Donald George Mills: A Family and American Hero

Over the last day and a half I have shared pictures from my grandfather’s collection of WWII photos. It was not until I was in high school that I was introduced to these photos. I knew from a young age that he served in WWII and that he was a Fighting Seabee (20th Construction Battalion) with the U.S. Navy but he never talked about his real experiences or shared the pictures with me. His only comments on the subject were along the lines that he was proud to have served his country. In his mind his actions during the war were nothing extraordinary, instead it had been his privilege to serve and he did so with honor. As a young person, I was content only having these facts.

As I grew older, I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand better what my grandfather never really spoke about. It was only after sitting down and really looking at these pictures that I truly understood why he rarely spoke about the reality of war. That reality rests in a handful of pictures I did not share. Pictures that all to clearly show the true casualties of war. For me those pictures were hard to look at, so for a young man to experience it first hand in a foreign land it must have been even more difficult to understand. His experience was in complete contrast to the picture I had in my head. My image of the U.S. Navy was largely based on my own experience as the son of a career U.S. Navy man.

I learned that there was a very good reason why they were called the Fighting Seabees. They fought for and protected the land they built upon. They fought side by side with the U.S. Marines. As their symbol shows, they had a gun in one hand and building equipment in the other. These men were not on ships firing at a distant, faceless enemy. Their combat was hand to hand, face to face. Their blood and that of the men they fought against drenched the soil they built upon. Learning so much, I quickly realized why my grandfather never spoke of the details.

It has been 10 years since he passed away. I still remember the day of his funeral and giving him one final salute. His “Cracker Jack” uniform, pictures, and other items he brought back from war are treasured by our family. They signify all too well a story he never shared with us but one we now know all too well. We only know it because a handful of men with the same experience broke the barrier of silence and explained the facts of the heroism that was performed by ordinary men compelled to do extraordinary things for their country. To all the Americans who fought in WWII and especially to those who gave their lives and my grandfather, Donald George Mills, you have my undying gratitude.

We are quickly losing the WWII generation but their contributions to Our Nation will never, ever be forgotten.

Our Family’s Tribute to Donald George Mills.

During WW II my grandfather, Donald George Mills, was stationed in the Pacific arena. He served with the Navy’s 20th Construction Battalion or the Fighting SeaBees.  Starting at 8am today I will be posting pictures each hour from his personal experience. You can see those pictures here by clicking the Tumblr tab at the top of the page or following me on twitter (@JeremyCMills), or checking out my picplz stream.  All of this will culminate with a blog post about my grandfather. Thanks for tuning in for what we hope will be an awesome tribute.

One Word Can Negate Impact

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I spent an hour or more crafting a letter. I must have read through it a hundred times and ran MS Word’s spelling and grammar check a dozen times. I even gave it to several colleagues to proof read. I needed the letter to be clear, concise, and impactful.  I reached a point where I thought the letter was perfect; I signed and sent it.

A day later a colleague pointed out the snippet of sentence you see in the picture.  My heart sank when I realized the word “you” sat where the word “your” should be.  For me, the whole letter lost all impact. How can I expect someone to focus on content when I can not even ensure a grammatically correct sentence?

The lesson for me is obvious: You can never proof read too much because every single word matters.  This fact is especially important because our success depends on our ability to communicate effectively. 

I resolve to be resolute about my New Year’s resolutions…

Okay, not really. I have never been in the habit of making New Year’s resolutions. I don’t see a reason why I should pick one point in every year to make a set of goals that I believe will improve my life. No matter the time of year, I am always looking for ways to improve myself (Unfortunately, I am not a person that believes I was born perfect). But, and that is a big but, I did decide this year to jot down some goals that I will be working towards in the coming year. Call them resolutions if you must but I will refer to them as personal development aspirations that I hope will improve my well being.

1. Read a book a month. When I was in college I was constantly reading.  Once I graduated, not so much.  While I am an admitted news junky, I don’t think that the news stimulates the mind the way a good book does.  My first book of the year will be The Lost City of Z by David Grann.  I am already 50 pages into it and my new Nook is definitely making things a little more fun.

2.Feed My Creative Side. I have tweeted before that I sometimes just feel the  need to create; to make something from nothing and put my own spin on it.  Whether it is blogging, website development, or silk screen printing I need to fulfill that urge to create.  I think I am most looking forward to the screen printing.  My high school art teacher taught me how to screen print and I already have the supplies to get started.

3. Enjoy the little man. My wife and I were blessed with a son in August.  Before he was born I made a promise to him and myself that I would always wake when he did so that I didn’t miss a single moment.  Thus far, I have kept that promise.  My other two goals take a backseat to this one.  If I only accomplish one goal, this will be the one.

Those are my personal development aspirations for 2011.  I will keep you posted on how I am working to achieve all of them and I hope that all your “resolutions” for the new year bring you happiness and success.  Always remember, you don’t need a holiday to set aspirations for yourself.

Merry Christmas

North Point’s iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

This is nothing short of amazing. The amount of time and practice these folks had to put into this must have been huge. I have watched it over and over again and I still continue to smile each time I hear it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC BUT VERY REAL VIDEO ABOUT DRUNK DRIVING

Having a child of my own, this video nearly brought me to tears. I commend the Aussies for having the guts to show the real impact of drunk driving. Please drive safe this holiday season and if you have been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel.

Thou Shall….When Blogging

1. Thou shall post weekly. (If you want to here from me more often, follow me on twitter @JeremyCMills)

2. Thou shall approve all comments whether negative or positive. ( I am not here to hear myself, discussion is good.  However, Spam will be promptly deleted but only if not needed to provide nourishment to a stranded cruise ship of the coast of California.)

3. Thou shall vlog (video blog) at least once a month. (Words are nice but sometimes it just better by video.)

4. Thou shall NOT use actual names or pictures of family and friends. (I have chosen to be a public figure, they have not.  “The story you are about to see is true. The names were changed to protect the innocent”)

5. Thou shall stick to the topics that best represent yourself. (In other words I will avoid tangents that have nothing to do with the core brand of me, i.e. my role as a father, husband, and Alton community volunteer/promoter.)

Disclaimer: These commandments are subject to change at the writer’s discretion and are  only valid in the continental United States.  These commandments may not work for everyone so please consult your own physician before using.  If you have any questions, please direct them to the comment section.

Switching Gears for the New Year.

It has been about 10 months since I started blogging.  My site was originally started to support my efforts to become 5th ward Alderman in Alton, Illinois.  Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my attempts; losing by 12 votes to the incumbent.   Despite my loss, I decided to continue on with my site in the form of a blog and continue talking about the community I sought to represent.  While I may not be an elected official, I still have the same passion for the Alton community now as I did when I decided to run for office.  In fact, I feel that my passion has grown.

It has been extremely difficult at times finding topics to discuss on a regular basis.  Alton is a small community and as such is not conducive to daily or even weekly post.  I have often looked at my own blog and thought that the content was lacking.  With that in mind, as I head into the new year I intend to shift gears.  I will continue to discuss the important topics in our community but I will begin to make my blog a more accurate reflection of myself.  That reflection will not only show the role I have sought to take in this community but also two other roles that are central to my life, being a father and a husband.

The roles we take in life determine the experiences we have and the lessons that we learn.  My intention is to share my experiences and the lessons I have learned with my readers.  I will do my best to be insightful, honest, and most of all positive.  I ask you to stick with me through this transition and as always I welcome comments and advice.  While my blog serves as an outlet for my own writing, I also want it to be useful and entertaining to my readers.