Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 6, 2012 - Happy Days Indeed

Hey there, hi there and hello there to one and all.  Wow, what a monthish it has been since I last wrote.  We landed back safely in the states, about to start Employee Appreciation Week at Aflac, traveled to West Virginia for a wedding, was the wingman for another engagement and next week I graduate from Emory ... what a whirlwind!
Might as well start with the greatest honeymoon ever, well I guess only one I've been on.  The last time we left you was on our way to safari in Zimbabwe, and let me tell you, what a way to end a trip.  Since it was the slow season, we had 8 staff to our lonesome as we feasted on the tastiest meals of the trip and enjoyed our luxury tent.  Every day brought hours upon hours of safari where we got up close and personal with zebra, giraffe, hyena, antelope, hippos, dung beatles and countless other animals in the wild.  Our last night was the perfect way to end a honeymoon as they set out a romantic dinner under the stars by the watering hole.  Just as we were getting the main course we hear some ruffling in the distance, and to our delight, a herd of 15 elephants walked right up to about ten feet away and started drinking out of the watering hole as we ate.  What a priceless memory to end an unforgettable trip, hope you enjoy the two-part video:)
Our 16 hour direct flight from Joberg to Atlanta got us in at 6am Tuesday and we were just crazy enough to shower up and get to work by noon.  To my surprise, I came in to a new boss, hey, as long as my badge works, I am good.  The team took it upon themselves to decorate my cubicle for my return like a bungaloo, filled with manaquins, a cot and a portrait of myself riding a camel.  Yup, I love my team!!  Aflac has been somewhat of a whirlwind ever since I returned, but a great new peer group has made it enjoyable indeed, even during our State of the Department madness.  This week marks the beginning of Employee Appreciation Week at Aflac where we will spend the next 7 days celebrating the people that make the Duck fly, our employees.  Jenny and I even had the chance to go to Callaway Gardens for free yesterday and climb in the trees and swing down the zip line!!  It's truly a spectacle and a privelage to work for such an amazing company!
The volunteer front has been a blast as well.  With United Way, we finished up our innaugural Live United Youth Council where the high school students raised nearly $4,000!!!  They then solicited proposals from local not-for profit organizations and went through the allocation process selecting some very deserving programs to fund through their efforts.  We also had a Live United Youth Camp reunion at Easter Seals where we got together to make sensory books for all of the students and adults.  That day I also was asked if I'd be interested in joining the Easter Seals board of directors this fall, quite the honor ... and yes, I checked with Jenny to make sure it was OK:)  Young Professionals has been a blast as well as the Vice Chair of Membership.  We're well ahead of where we were last year and over 75% of the way to our year-end membership goal in month 5.  Plus, we're chugging along with our new event, heART of Columbus (formerly Timeraisers) that I think will truly be a one of a kind event in Columbus to spawn volunteerism in our community!  Good times have been had with the Literacy Alliance as well as we are putting together a big proposal to the city's crime prevention unit to help provide sustaining funding our programs, which includes a new one we're going to tackle, YouTube video montages teaching adults the importance and tactics of how to read to their children, a lost art in some communities.
Congrats to Kayla and Alan on the wedding, good times were had indeed in West Virginia on our joy ride with the Demkos!  O yes, and our Emory Spring Formal was memorable with Jenny as a star with her Midwest Moonshine and killer dance moves:)  Then last weekend I had the best shot of my golf life, picture this ... last hole, 100 yards out where most would use a pitching wedge, not this guy, why not a 7 iron?  Hit a straight shot, but the hole was uphill behind two bunkers, luckily, two pals were sitting on the grassy nole ... and then they went nuts ... I flopped a birdie into the hole from 100 yards out and retired from golf at that very moment!!
Jenny has completed her second sale of her woodworking masterpieces, a Learning Tower made from scratch, pretty amazing indeed.  She's also knockin' out some scrapbooks for a special high school graduation for Boo Bear, and fortunately, her scrap book room has been the only one that has been hit by the scrapbooking tornadic activity!!! 
The next few weeks are a bit of, well, madness!  Next weekend are all of the Emory Graduation festivities up in the ATL.  I had the great honor of being elected class orator, so I just finished up my speech and a potential flash mob is in the works:)  The following weekend we take our tour on the road to Iowa for Becca's graduation and my final farewell to our home on Butternut Lane, I'm going to miss that basement!  I'm looking forward to some time with family and friends, and Blake, be ready on the basketball court!!  Then, a day after that I have the honor of flying out to the SIFE USA National Competition as the 2012 SIFE USA Alumni of the Year.  I was humbled by such an honor that would not have been possible without great friends, family, mentors and a SIFE experience that opened my eyes to a whole new world of servant leadership.
All in all, the last month has been pretty fantacular I must say.  Jenny and I thought we'd slow down a bit this summer ... ha, I laugh in the face of relaxation!!  Hope you all have a wondermous weekend.


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