A Life Lived in One Place

Imagine, if you can, living in one place for the next 24 years. Seems a little bit stretched out and distant, right? Now, I have not been able to remember living…well, anywhere until I was around five or seven. Still, I have lived in this state my entire life. I know its streets, its hotspots, the shortcuts, the favorite eats. I know Illinois. Illinois is comfortable. Illinois is well known, to me. Very soon, I will be leaving this land that I have called home, that I have enjoyed being apart of, and moving to a new world. It might as well be a new world.

I have had time to do a fair bit of thinking while I find an occupation and secure passage to New Zealand. I have thought a great deal about all of my friends who daily build me up and support me in my selfish desire to become happy. They happily oblige and humor me. I don’t know if I will ever be without friends in this life. I have met so many beautiful people in my travels and experiences. Many of these people I have known since I was little, Luke Blauw, Eric Brown, Tara Biscan, Mike Elliott, Nate Leslie, Debbie Leslie, Rose Scheid, the list goes on. Many friendships I have developed while away, David Goodwin, Jenn Bosma, Jeremiah Mannschreck, Nate DeJong, Dan Prins, Jeff Stern, Jeremiah Mallin, Matt Faber, Cody Cooper, Tyler Plockmeyer, etc. Many I have only recently become friends with, Matthew Bailey, Justin Van Wyk, Kyle Lefere, Alex Hayes, Eric Du, Alex Bourge, Katie Yockey, Lisa Marshall, etc. Also those I have met in the field of Social Work.

I have obviously left out most of my friends, please don’t be  offended. It was not intentional.

It is safe to say that with the list of friends that I am already making in NZ: Jeremy Vargo, Zach Jacobsen, Samantha Merkle, Lawrence Tuck, Leand Macadaan, Hugh Drinkwater, Elena Cleary, and of course, Corbin Elliott, in whom I’ve known since I was 15, that I wont have any trouble making a family overseas. Still, it’s not that easy…it never really is.

If moving away from everything you know is as easy as saying, “Home is where the Heart is,” making a new family, and calling home every once and a while, then anyone would be able to do it. There is additional culture shock that, even in a westernized country, will have people inside of a month buying a plane ticket home. The distance away from home can be daunting to overseas movers also. Everything about the country you live in will be a constant reminder that you are NOT home. You will begin to hate everything and just want to cuddle up on your favorite couch, or go eat at your favorite little hotspot.

Don’t. Don’t buy that plane ticket. Tough out those first months. You will kick yourself hard when you are sitting back home and letting the reality sink in that you let a perfectly good adventure slip right through your finger tips. This is self therapy moment people. I am not only speaking to you, but myself. I am the man who has lived in One Place his whole entire life. Now is my time. This is my journey set before me. I step with anticipation.

The Beard is Done, The Date is Set

Well readers, some of you got what you came for. While the event was never recorded, we still got some pretty cool images to share with you all. I had a blast, and I want to thank my amazing sister Ro Birkey for taking such awesome photos. The event went great and I also would like to thank Sean Wilson for helping me out the most and for doing the deed that HAD to be done.

I have not been able to stop looking at my de-robed face all yesterday, and to say I’ve been rubbing my chin is a severe understatement. The look will set in eventually, and it will likewise take me a while to get accustomed to my new chin. This is standard for any massive shaving that takes place.

With the money that was raised, coming approximately to $3000, I have reached 84% of my goal!!, and I couldn’t be more happy with the result. All of the proceeds will be put towards helping me get to NZ (paperwork & flight costs). This reminds me! I have set a tentative date for when I plan to leave the U.S…God willing. I will plan on leaving for New Zealand mid January. If the paperwork is not done before then, I will reevaluate my departure date. This is what I am going to try for though.

Thank You again to everyone who came out to my party and helped support me in my effort to get overseas. I could NOT have done this without you, my friends and my family. You are responsible for all the good that comes from my work in NZ. Thank You.


Homesickness, & The Thoughts of Someone, Leaving Everything Behind

Hello readers. Today’s post was conceived when I started to think about the near future that awaits me. Very soon I will be moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live with some buddies and get a job paying off my unforgivable student loans. THEN, when my paperwork for moving to New Zealand gets passed, I will be moving to NZ and working over there for as long as I am needed. I am a Social Worker, it’s what I do. New Zealand needs Social Workers to help the youth and the ever growing epidemic of depression and suicide.

All of this has caused me to think about everything. Everything: What I wont have when I’m gone, who I wont see when I’m gone, what I wont get to do when I’m gone, what I wont be able to buy when I’m gone, TV programs that wont be featured, food that I wont get to eat, American clothes, my favorite little places that I now will not be able to go to, streets I wont recognize, rules I wont know, customs I have to get used to, culture I have to memorize, slang I have to attempt to understand, shock I have to overcome, on and on it goes…

Some of the things I mentioned above are trivial, but they are running through my mind none-the-less. I feel like these are common thoughts that any rational person would think if they were too moving far, far away to a new country. I just know that I am trying to pack as much “U.S. life” into these last few months that I can, in hopes that it will leave a mark long enough for me not to miss it. I’m not very big on homesickness. I never really have been, but it comes in spurts every 3-5 months, where I start wanting to see family again. For this reason I’ll let you in on a little traveling secret I learned many years ago. This will help you with homesickness wherever you go:

Home is where the “family” is.

This may seem confusing if your family is nowhere near you. Let me explain. Your home is going to be wherever you have “family” and friends. I put family in quotes for a reason. When I went to Calvin College six years ago, I started missing home bad. What helped cure my homesickness? I made some serious, lifelong friends in a matter of weeks. Soon, I was off having adventures with them in strange and amazing places, making memories that I will keep with me for my entire life. In 2006, I made a “family” at that college. A family that I still keep in contact with to this day. One member of that “family” asked me to stand up in his wedding as his Best Man. We really helped each other in that time of need…away from our families and homes we knew dear.

Listen to me. Go out and make this happen. It rarely happens on its own.

So if you are ever far, far away from your family, don’t look at this idea as “replacing” your immediate family, but more along the lines of “creating” a new support system for yourself to carry you through those tough nights you wish you were in the comfort and stability of what you know and understand. I am NOT telling you to forget your family. Skype them, write them, call them, but don’t mourn them like they are dead. Trust me, this little life lesson is something that will drastically change how you look at leaving everything behind to experience something life changing. Don’t let homesickness get in the way of something that can mold you into who you were meant to become.

Bucket List Menu Option

I have a new Menu Option above called, “My Bucket List” In it is my own list of things I want to do before I die. Also this is a place where you can share your own lists so that we can share with each other the things that we’ve always wanted to do, but never could. Check it out when you got the time!


What I will miss about my Beard Pt. 2

Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow my beard will be no more and I will resemble that kid from Freaks and Geeks.  Yes, it will be a bittersweet day of mourning and rejoice. I can’t lie, this beard is breaching into ZZ Top territory, and I will be kindof glad to see it go.

Still, there will be time for rejoicing after the beard is dead. I dedicate this post to the things I am going to miss most dearly about my beard.

  1. Stroking it when I am thinking
  2. Keeping me warm
  3. Giving me professoriate Status without a PhD.
  4. Catching sweat, drips from a cup, & spills from soup.
  5. Shielding my clavicle from the rain
  6. Allowing me to secretly infiltrate the Hipster race and destroy them from the inside…
  7. Allowing me to think creatively on thebeardly.com
  8. Not shaving for 10 months…
  9. Before, my beard did the talking. Now, I have to start talking again…
  10. I felt the “inner man” living, thriving, and taking names. His name is: The Red Baron.
The Red Baron. He is ALL these things, and more.
 The Red Baron. He is ALL these things, and more.
Now, all that is left, is the deed. Once more, my face shall feel the cold steel of death, and my beard shall be no more. This beard has been with me through thick and thin. I have had it through my entire term in graduate school, and much, much more. I will miss you Red Baron, and I know many will miss you too.