Author: Justin Brunner

Workhorse by day and photo enthusiast by night. I'm on the constantly evolving road to creating something wonderful.

My (internal) Confrontation Waiting to Happen – Again

I’ve had ‘confrontations’ with myself for years now, simply because I know I should be doing things that continuously make myself better.

And by better, I mean refocusing my efforts to live life to the fullest – being a better friend, brother, son, uncle, employee; working out a little more; drinking a little less; traveling more, etc. I’m happy about the experiences I’ve had to date but there’s still this innate desire to do more.

Yet, I am my own worst critic. I always wonder, “Could I be doing something bigger and better to truly make a difference?”  (Some of you know this, but I served in the armed forces and worked in a hospital for quite a while. Defending freedom and saving lives are two professions that set the bar of achieving “something more” pretty high.)

I could argue that I don’t have the discipline to – day after day – make the proper decisions. That would be an excuse because discipline is a learned quality, a function of habit. I could say, simply, that change is hard. Everyone knows this. But, again, an excuse.

  • What would you do to make a difference in the lives of others?
  • How do you achieve your level of discipline?

One time I was told, “Don’t judge your insides by somebody else’s outsides.” This held two meanings for me. Everyone has their own set of problems. As hard as you try, you will never be able to read another person’s mind and the demons they deal with on a daily basis. You should look at your own ‘insides’ and realize that change comes from within.

Maybe it’s time to have another deep confrontation with myself.

Oh, and here’s the inspiration for this post: Seth’s Blog: The confrontation waiting to happen.

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Professional Development Groups: a Thing of the Past?

I was recently part of a team tasked with marketing a huge professional development / networking event. The event wasn’t attended well and was probably our worst rated event, based on survey responses.

We (thought) we did everything right. Great speakers. A great venue. We tied in a networking session followed by the actual presentation. We had to charge a moderate fee ($50, association members received a discount) – well below what other competing groups charge for similar events. We had all the pieces but it didn’t work.

I then started to think about professionals, generation concerns, and organizations as a whole.

What do people want to hear about when it comes to marketing, public relations, design or corporate communication?

I’ve always gotten a lot out of my professional development groups, simply because they help me network, provide resources and better my craft. Yet, it makes me wonder if I’m unique.

In this age of instant gratification and instant Internet, have professional development organizations outlived their usefulness? And, do people feel they bring value?

I’m considering a twitter discussion on the topic. I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to leave comments as well!

Inspiration Comes in the Wildest Places

Over the past few months I’ve been wallowing in my sorrows. Not sure where it comes from or how it started. I’ve been feeling this huge sense of latency and beguilement, hoping to find some answers from within or maybe even look for a sign.

It’s interesting to me how intspiration can come from the most unique places. Today, I was getting my hair cut at a new barber shop in the city. It’s a small, fairly nondescript storefront that serves the East Lakeview neighborhood.  As I was getting chopped, I was talking to the barber (who was no older than 28) about his upcoming trip to Alaska. Nice guy.

Upon paying him, I asked if he could break a $20. He looked and me, answering, “Sure, but how much do you want back?” (Him, taking his gratuity from the difference).

I said, “Ugh, now you’re asking me to do math!”

“That’s why I’m a stylist. I don’t do numbers.”

To which I replied, “That’s why I’m a writer, I don’t like math either.”

But then, something interesting happened. His response sort of threw me off guard, “Oh really? What types of things do you write?”

“Mostly corporate, business-oriented stuff. Human resources policies, newsletters, some items for our website. Stuff like that.” I’m not sure why I played down what I do. Perhaps, in some way, I wanted it to sound more creative and artistic than it really is.

I would never really know his exact thoughts but by the weird grimace I could see on his face, I’m sure it fell along the lines of, “I’m not sure if that sounds somewhat boring, or really boring.” And, to be honest, I agreed with him.

I’m not quite sure why I classified myself as a writer. I do write for work, but not as often as I’d like. And the things I do write are immensely flat, due to the fact I’m writing about an organization with a bunch of older white men, the lawyer who is my boss, and the legal team that tears apart everything I try to distribute. (To those in the corporate communications world, you know of exactly what I speak). I’ve not published much outside of this blog (which has been lackluster at best) and I barely write outside of work. I like writing but like so many other artists, the question always becomes, “What do I create?”

I guess a little inspiration, as well. Would my struggle for creativity simplify itself if I had a muse? Would flow arrive more readily if I focused on a consistent theme? I see the art of writing as an outlet; as an expression. My hope being that in some fashion, the words I write may inspire someone else, give a person a new perspective on a situation or discover an entirely new part of themselves. Too much? No, I don’t think so.

And yes, I know. Practice makes perfect. Writing only becomes better when you work at it…a lot. I also know that I could pound out a thousand words a day, work on a piece over and over again, and NEVER get it to perfection. To me, writing is never a completed piece of work. And, typing on a computer-because of its easy editing ability-only makes those revisions more tempting. It’s how my brain works.

Perhaps it was time for my brain to turn “on” once again. Maybe it was that Timmy told me exactly what I needed to hear. Even more simply, maybe I need to pay more attention to the things around me, think a bit more simplistically, and take a step out of the rat race. What ever the case may be, I’m making a pledge to post at least one post per week. Thanks, Timmy, for triggering the kick in the butt I probably needed.

fido – Nashville, TN

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This amazing coffee shop/restaurant, nestled in Nashville’s West End, offers a fresh and tasty menu often overlooked in the south, and breaks away from the traditional southern fare.

I opted for something hearty, given the weather was a bit on the chilly side. fido’s Local Burger, made from Tennessee beef and local sausage, with Swiss cheese, pickles, onion strips and a zesty sauce. The meat was seasoned with an amazing blend of spices that added an entirely new level to a burger. The bread was a perfect texture and not too flavorful, taking away from the meat.

The sweet potato fries were grilled, made from real sweet potatoes right on site, were tender, soft and delicious. Not heavy at all (but healthy)! Although they were tasty in their own right, my choice of side dish competed with the burger’s complexity. I’d recommend something with a bit more salt, or perhaps a side salad.

Overall, a must try when visiting Hillsboro. I’ll definitely return and perhaps try one of their daily vegetarian options, complex salads, or fish options. As their website states, the restaurant as one that, “blurs the line between coffeehouse and restaurant. Chef John Stephenson continuously re-creates the menu. With fish and steak specials, breakfast all day and a seasonal menu, Fido is known as much for its food as the coffee. Fido also serves a classy selection of beer.”

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fido is a part of the unofficial Bongo World, started in 1993 by Bob Bernstein, and consists of a wholesale coffee roasting company and four cafes – each having a unique identity and menu. Their coffee is 100% organic and bought directly from Fair Trade small-farm co-ops. Check out the Bongo Java website for more information.

fido
1812 21st Ave. S.,
Nashville, TN 37212
615-777-FIDO (3436)

Open 7 days a week – 7am – 11pm

Taliesin West – Scottsdale, AZ

I was lucky enough to visit Scottsdale’s #1 tourist attraction, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. Wright began building his Scottsdale-based winter home in 1937. He, his wife and architecture students lived there on and off for many years.

Taliesin is located in northeast Scottsdale, on the beautiful Sonoran desert in the foothills of the McDowellMountains, Taliesin West  Scottsdale  AZoffering a broad range of guided public tours. Visitors experience Wright’s brilliant ability to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces on over 650 acres of open land.

It’s hard to imagine, but all of the glass and permanent shades seen in the photographs were once open, exposing the entire home to the natural elements. Canvas shades were the only protection residents had from the blistering desert heat, rain, and cold nights.

Architecture students lived in tents scattered around the surrounding foothills. The only grass – as seen in the photos – was planted and maintained as a safe “play” haven for students’ children. The fountain water is pumped from an underground source, which still flows today.

Wright drew from Asian themes, which are present throughout the home. Including statuette themes (pictured below) embedded in cement columns.

Be sure to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website for more information on Taliesin West and other Wright works.