17 Reasons to Use Your Vacation Time This Year!

VacationTime

Unlike many Americans, I’ve never had a problem taking vacation days. As a matter of fact, when I was a part of the 9-5 set, I’d use ALL of my sick, personal, and vacation days (and then some) when I needed a break or wanted to take a short excursion because…well, why not?

Despite owning a business and being a freelance writer & author, I don’t believe in working myself until I drop. I mean, there’s a thin line between grinding hard and going “Karōshi” (the Japanese term for “death from overwork”), and I intended to stay on this side of the living.

While most people won’t kill over from putting in extra hours at the office, pulling long shifts can reek havoc on your life, cause relationship drama, and generally suck.

But in case you need more reasons to cash in your vacation time and go on a trip (or just chill), here’s 17 reasons to use your vacation days THIS YEAR!

#1 Working too much can kill you, especially if you work overtime.

heart

Yes, seriously. Via the Guardian: “The research shows a 60% increase in heart-related illness such as non-fatal heart attacks and angina in those who work for three hours or more longer than a normal seven-hour day.”

#2 You don’t really need a new car.

I know you think you do, and I know they’re pretty, but if you have less than 100k (and maybe even 250k) miles on your hoopty, you need to keep the riding that sucker till the wheels fall off. And even then, they probably won’t. Don’t believe me? Via Forbes: “Today’s cars are built to last as long as 250,000 miles or more with simple routine care,” says ASE-certified Master Automobile Technician and Chicago Tribune auto-service columnist Bob Weber.

#3 Working too many hours can actually make you stupider.

You may think you can pull long hours without consequence, but working too much can actually damage your brain. A 2009 study, found “working hours may have a negative effect on cognitive performance in middle age,” including a decline in reasoning and vocabulary.

#4 Mexican food tastes so much better in Mexico (or in L.A., whichever’s closer).

via thebaldchef.net

nom, nom, nom….via thebaldchef.net

#5 You won’t have to yell at your kids to clean their room if you’re in a hotel.

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#6 There are no dishes to wash after dinner (and you don’t even have to cook!).

#7 You can act a fool without caring if anybody judges you (as long as you keep it off Facebook…and Instagram…and Twitter).

#8 You can have a drink (or 3!) with breakfast and not feel like an alcoholic.

#9 Taking a week off will make your boss appreciate you that much more.

#10 You can finally be the one flooding everybody’s Facebook feed with annoyingly awesome photos that make people hate-like them.

#11 You can finally read that book everybody was raving about three years ago.

#12 You’ve already binged-watched Scandal, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black; your weekends are wide open.

#14 Wait, your passport is about to expire, and you still don’t have any stamps yet?

Seriously? Daaaaamn homie.

#15 You’re young, single, and ready to mingle

Fame-Video1

#16 You’re not so young, married, and have a couple of kids; who needs a break more than you?

#17 You’ve only got 2 weeks off, USE THEM!

Got more reasons to use your vacation days? Leave them below! 

I Love L.A. (most of the time)

GrandPark

Grand Park and City Hall

I used to really dislike living in Los Angeles, which is totally weird since I’m a native. But  once upon a time I had a full-on love affair with New York City, and after living in the Big Apple for a few years, coming home seemed totally and wholly boring.

But then I realized I was perhaps too unkind to my city.

While clubs close early (uh, 2:00am?!) and you have to drive EVERYWHERE and things are so spread out and the people are….interesting, I realized that once I got over my “LA is totally boring!” tantrum, the City of Angels kinda has it going on.

Although I get a bit of summer event envy while surfing through my friends’ Instagram and Twitter feeds (I mean, who doesn’t live or pass through Brooklyn?!), I am looking forward to L.A. this summer.

Here’s why:

The beach: (which is really not fair to other cities because we Angelenos go to the beach year-round). Totally awesome.

The parties: Between the epic Sunday get down that is the Do Over, to the slew of DJs passing through this summer, if you LOVE to party, this summer will be kinda epic (uh, Hello BET Experience & Beyonce).

The art scene: Although I don’t really understand contemporary art, LA’s got a host of museums and galleries that you can visit. And I love them all. I love strolling through exhibits not knowing what the hell the artist was thinking, but feeling like I’m getting my supreme culture on. It’s fab.

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Levitating mass at LACMA

The ocean: I love the water, and I can’t think of a more perfect day than filling up on some tasty eats while gazing upon the ocean. I mean, c’mon. How dope is THAT?

Marina

Marina Del Rey….

The melting pot: Despite some neighborhoods being overrun with hipsters, L.A. has a wealth of diversity. From Little Armenia and Little Ethiopia (ok, mini-Ethiopia) , to Koreatown and Chinatown, you can literally experience the food and culture of a plethora of communities just by taking a drive.

The Watts Towers

The Watts Towers

The fashion: Ok, this is a selfish thing, but I love being able to wear flip-flops 75% of the year. How amazing is THAT?!

Have you ever been to L.A. or are you from here? What do you love about it? 

I promise, summer is on the way

Quote

Taken at the Redondo Beach Pier..

“One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.” ― Henry David Thoreau

I know I’m blessed to enjoy summer-like temps year-round. But some of you are still suffering through snow and freezing rain.

Fear not…summer is coming. I promise.

You Are What You Read – What’s On Your Bookshelf?


I love books. I adore cracking open a tome and losing myself between its pages. I love words–and even better, a well-told story.

I own so many books, that I have them stacked up, spilling over, and damn-near positioned on every table, bookshelf, floor, and nightstand. A mess, for sure, but my standom of words is quite apparent.

Although I love books, most of my collection consists of fiction. James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Colin Channer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernesto Quinonez, Junot Diaz, Tayari Jones–I could literally go on for days. But lately, I’ve been looking to add a little self-help/spiritually-focused material to my stash.

As many of you know I’ve been a SERIOUS fan of Oprah’s Lifeclass. And as a decidedly non-new-agey type, the weekly discussions on Lifeclass have been extremely helpful and eye-opening for me. Surprisingly, Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra have been two of my favorites thus far because they’ve been focusing on changing your “story”–or your thoughts, and creating the life that you want.

Much of what I do here, and will do on BritniDanielle.com (don’t forget to signup) centers on living your most awesome life. Traveling, doing what you love, helping others, and not being bogged down by the burdens of your past is what I’m most interested in these days.

Call it maturing or call it not being interested in negativity anymore, whatever the case may be, I’ve realized that life is too short, too precious, and too full of potentially dope experiences to constantly look back regretting what you could have done.

On the strength of yesterday’s Lifeclass I went out and bought Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. From the opening pages, it had me, and I’m hoping this will be yet another resource that will continue to guide me in the right direction.

I’ll leave you with this:

You are what your deep, driving desire is.

As your desire is, so is your will.

As your will is, so is your deed.

As your deed is, so is your destiny.

–Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV. 4.5

What’s on your bookshelf these days?

Go Outside. Now!

Hiking in RPV

I don’t know about you, but I hate the gym. It’s not that I’m lazy (ok, sometimes I am), but I just don’t like the repetition of doing the exact same thing day in and day out, no matter how many new fangled machines there are. My beef with the gym boils down to one thing–I get bored. Quickly. So, with a birthday looming, I’ve been looking for ways to get healthier without stepping foot in the YMCA.

While I own (and shhhh, have downloaded) a plethora of workout DVDs, they also bore the hell out of me. Last year I managed to make it through Level 1 of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, but I haven’t been consistant or finished the program since then. No matter how much motivation I have starting out, I can’t get over the fact that by the end of the week, I can quote each “joke,” motivational tip, and command. Which, again, leaves me feeling completely bored and uninspired to do it again.

So….what do you do when you hate the gym and workout DVDs get annoying very easily? You head outdoors!

A few weeks ago Le Kid and I took an impromptu trip to Griffith Park to hike and have a picnic. Despite grabbing onto me for dear life for the first half of the trip because he thought he was going to fall off the side of the mountain (he wasn’t even close), we ended up having a really good time. We had an “adventure” and although it was tough, when we got home I I found myself Googling other local spots for hikes. I found one near me in Rancho Palos Verdes and have been back several times to get it in.

Although I’m not the “outdoorsy” type (no camping, fishing, etc.) I really enjoy going out for hikes. Yes, I feel like I’m going to die when I’m (slowly) making my way up a hill, but at the end, I feel accomplished and the view is just so damn pretty I can barely take it.

These hikes have also given me some time to connect with God, organize my thoughts, and just be generally thankful for how my life is shaping up.

How could I NOT appreciate this view of the Pacific?

Last week was a mentally difficult one. I was waiting to be paid for several articles I’d written, I was beginning to doubt my choices (again), and I was wondering how I’ll reach my ideal life if I’m so drained from working so hard for others (yes, even as a freelancer). Instead of completely throwing in the towel, my hikes gave me an opportunity to remember all of the things that were going right and that I had to be thankful for. I mean, it’s hard to be depressed when you’re out on a brilliantly clear day with the ocean staring you in the face.

But what I also realized is that while my body is getting healthier and stronger, these hikes serve to strengthen my mental resolve as well, and for a freelancer or anyone working toward a really big, seemingly impossible goal, this is key.

Reaching your goals takes an unlimited amount of mental fortitude. It’s not easy to strike out and dedicate your whole self to your goals. The what-if-I-fail thoughts will kick in. Negativity from those you hoped would have your back happens. And you begin to question what the hell you’re actually doing. You ask yourself what makes you so special that you think that you will make it when many others have tried and failed.

I get it. I’ve been there. Hell, I am there. But what I know to be true is just as much time and effort we put into reaching our goals, we need to also put as much time and effort into taking care of our mental and physical selves while we’re trying to reach them. In the end, there’s no use of making it to the top and being too depressed, disgruntled, or too unhealthy to enjoy it.

How do you make sure you’re taking care of your mental & physical help while you work toward your goals? 

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Want more #GOALdigging tips and trick? Sign up for my new site, BritniDanielle.com. Together we’ll build a supportive army of GOAL-diggers and dream-chasers so we’ll all reach our goals together.

Why Wait?

“So many fail because they don’t get started, they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.” – W. Clement Stone

Getting started is tough. Believe me, I get it.  Once we get our “great idea” or set our ambitious goals we talk a good game, we plan forever, we brainstorm incessantly…but we wait for things to be just so, to be perfect, before we begin. And then…just like that, we never get started.

And soon, before we know it, weeks, months, and years have passed by and we just wasted a whole lot of time waiting until things were just right before we began working on our goals. But as you already know, things will never be perfect. Perfection is an illusion.

I was speaking to a Facebook pal the other day when she mentioned a blog project she is working on. Although she had been toiling away for some time, she wasn’t quite ready to release her baby to the world because it wasn’t perfect. While I totally understand, waiting until her blog was amazingly designed or until she collected all of her thoughts into an assemblage of kick-ass blog posts meant it was never going to happen.

Like anything…you have to overcome the inertia and just get started…even if things aren’t quite in order.

After she showed me her blog, I didn’t understand why she was waiting. Her idea was DOPE and it needed to be shared. But still she had doubts. Like so many others, she was stuck in the perfection trap.

But thankfully, there is a very simple way to get out of it.

JUST DO IT!

On his blog, the Art of Non-conformity, Chis Guillebeau suggest folks set a deadline to begin working toward their goals/projects, and then shorten it.

He writes, “Find a way to launch your project within 30 days of conceiving it. If that feels uncomfortable, make it 3 days.”

Making yourself uncomfortable often causes you to feel a sense of urgency, which will help you overcome the inertia and begin taking actual steps toward your goal.

About a year ago, I bought BritniDanielle.com and planned to unveil it to the world…one day. After a year of putting in work for others trying to kick my freelance career into gear, I decided it was past time to put in the same amount of work for myself.

But after weeks of toiling around, looking for WordPress themes, color schemes, and playing with Photoshop, I decided to just roll it out to the world. To do this, I created a sign-up page to let people know when it is going to go live and—although I never thought I wanted to ever write one—I’m working on a very short ebooklet that will explain what my site will be all about—helping others reach their goals while I work toward mine.

Will it be perfect from the beginning? Certainly not, but just getting started is the best way for me to get as close to perfect as I can get. Because inaction, certainly won’t get me any closer to the life that I want.

Have you been procrastinating on something you’ve wanted to do? What’s stopping you from just getting started?  

Underneath It All: What’s Holding You Back?

Taken at Abalone Cove...underneath the water lie a flurry of sea life. We had a ball!

You can see it clearly. You know exactly what your ideal life looks like–what you’d do, how you’d live, and how you’d feel if you were just able to live exactly how you wanted. But time, life, circumstances, or finances are in the way and you just can’t make it to the life you so desperately crave.

Sound familiar?

For most of my life I’ve always held back. I’ve always been very measured, even-tempered, mild-mannered, quiet, and lived in my head. I guess that’s why I’m a writer. You know the phrase “still waters run deep”? That sums me up.

Despite my outward, reserved demeanor, my mind is always moving—racing, even–as I think about the life that I want.

As I mentioned before, I have an issue sharing my truth. While I think everyone should keep a bit of their business to themselves, my “truth” (read: most everything about my life) typically stays with me. I don’t talk about it, I don’t share it, I don’t allow people to give me their opinion on it. Nada. Why? I don’t want to hear people’s judgments, pity, and most of the time, their point of view. It sounds harsh, but underneath it all, I like to project an air of calmness, of togetherness, and front like I have it all under control. I like to appear perfect.

But perfection is incredibly oppressive (peace to Anne Lamott), and the more you strive to be perfect the more trapped you’ll be by the illusion you’ve created for yourself. I learned the hard way, but slowly (veeeerrry slowly) I’m letting go.

Last night, I watched Oprah and Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about living with purpose, and one of the things Oprah said that resonated with me was, “Even if you’re in the middle of disaster, you can use that disaster for direction.”

That really struck me because I’ve had my fair share of disasters. Getting fired from my first “real” job; finding out I was pregnant while unemployed and in an unstable relationship; raising my kid alone…all very big disasters. But instead of being crushed by them, I was able to respond to each of them in a way that didn’t break me, but rather made me stronger and more resilient.

What I’ve learned throughout the years is that how we respond to life’s disasters is vital because it sets up our next big thing.

Typically people respond to a crisis in a few ways:

1) Go into paralysis & become completely stuck.
2) Go into problem solving mode & look for a solution.
3) Choose not to deal with it and move onto something else entirely.
4) Distract themselves with vices (drinking, sex, gambling, food, escapism, etc.).

Personally, I’ve done them all (no sex, though…sadly lol). But while I may have wallowed in feeling stuck or decided not even to deal with a crisis, at the end of the day, I have been forced to deal with things head one. While I’m not superwoman and haven’t conquered EVERY challenge (I’m still working on a few), there is something very powerful about finding solutions and knowing you can change things.

How we deal with life’s adversities can either be our undoing or our catalyst to something greater.

Which do you choose?

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Have you thought about an idea so long it became apart of you? Even if you tried to escape it, you couldn’t run fast enough. And even when you procrastinated on it or filled your life up with so many other things that took your attention off of the idea, it still sat there, waiting for you you in those quiet moments right before you went to sleep?

Have you ever had one of those…or is it just me?

Last time I wrote about my “now what?!” moment—you know that time when you’ve taken the leap and jumped headlong into a life-changing choice. At first, you’re exhilarated and bolstered by the adrenaline. But then doubt sets in and you begin to second-guess your decision. You begin to doubt your abilities, and you begin to think you made a HUGE mistake.

Yup…I was there. And if I’m honest with myself, I revisit that place often, but as Oprah said on Lifeclass, “Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway“—so that’s what I’m doing.

For as long as I have been writing, I have been thinking, dreaming, and wanting to write a book. For a writer, having the stamina, focus, and determination to complete a whole book is the ultimate goal.

Although I had to finish a manuscript when I was in grad school to get my MFA, it was in poetry…which, if I’m being honest (again), I chose because it came fairly easy to me (a pattern in my life). But deep down, I always wanted to write a novel or other work of prose.

Over the years I’ve started and stopped multiple stories. I’ve told myself I don’t have the focus, the attention span, or a good enough idea to finish an entire book. Basically, I psyched myself out before I really got started (sound familiar?). But recently…that idea, that gnawing feeling to put pen to paper and write a book has come back again, and this time I won’t be ignoring it.

Telling myself that I’m going to write a book is scary. Admitting what you really want and telling yourself you’re going to try to accomplish it is a completely terrifying proposition.

In 2010 I wrote a list of things I wanted to accomplish. Hiking was one. Last Sunday, I reached my goal!

As with any new or different experience, self-doubt starts to creep in.

Can I do it?
What if I suck?
What if no one likes my work?
What if I can’t get it published?
What is nobody buys it?
What if I fail?

I’m sure you’re familiar with these questions. Anyone who has ever decided to do something, anything of value knows these questions well. But the key is to just push past them and get to work.

When it comes to writing, I’m my toughest critic. I constantly edit myself, erasing whole passages before I’ve given them a chance. I’ve often gotten stuck on a sentence, a thought, a page—paralyzed by the fear of sounding like a talentless hack. But as Anne Lamott pointed out in her book Bird by Bird:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Although the thought of actually writing a book completely unnerves me, I decided to research the process instead of shooting down my idea before I even allow it a little space to breathe and grow.

Along with revisiting Lamott’s Bird by Bird, I picked up Thinking Like Your Editor which will help me navigate the proposal-writing process. I’ve also reached out to friends who have already done what I’m planning to do for their advice. So progress is being made and it feels…good (and terrifying, and nerve-wracking, but definitely really good).

But how about you?

Once you’ve identified your goals (and if you haven’t…get some already!), did you start taking steps to get you there or are you still stuck in fear?

Remember this:

Set the goal and believe you can do it: When I heard Oprah say, “We become what we believe,” I had an ah-ha moment. I’ve been believing the wrong ish about myself. Time to rewrite the script.

Plot your steps: Once you have your goal, go about finding out what it’ll really take for you to reach it and make a plan to do so.

Follow-through: Toughest part of the process—the action. Yes, we know what we want and we may even know how to get it, but will we actually get started? What’s holding you back?

Be accountable: If no one knows you’re working toward a goal, it’s easy to allow yourself to slack off. Tell the right people (those who will be dream supporters, not dream slayers), and let them know you want them help you keep your eyes on the prize (can you help me stay focused, y’all?).

What do you want to accomplish folks? I want to help you reach your goals any and every way that I can, and in the process, I know I will reach mine.

Let’s support each other! Drop a comment letting me know what you want to accomplish and how we (yes, we) can help.

So You Leaped, Now What?

Did you recently make a major, potentially life-changing decision? Did you agonize over the details before making such a move, or did you close your eyes and jump?

No matter what method you used to restart your life/career/health, one thing is common (aside from saying, “holy shit…what did I just do?!”), after you’ve taken a major leap of faith in your life and come down from the high of pursuing your dreams, you look around and ask yourself, “Now what?”

Six months ago I made one of the biggest leaps of my life, I quit my teaching job and began writing full-time. Although I had run the numbers, looked at my budget a million times, and knew I could make it financially, six months later I’m still having a “now what” moment.

About two weeks ago I learned that I’d be cutting back on my “day writing job,” and with that cut would come a decrease in income. Almost immediately, I started to panic. How can I make my ends meet if I had less income coming in? I started to go into full-blown, what the F&*$k did I do mode? I started to doubt my choice to switch careers, and I almost….almost picked up the classifieds to see if I could snag a barrista job.

Then I remembered something: I’m a writer with contacts and talent. I control my income, not any particular publication or job or editor. Me. It was time to kick it into gear.

I snapped on the beach in Santa Monica

Ironically, the day before my “oh shit” moment, I took a little walk along the beach and had a talk with God. You see, I’ve been tremendously blessed in my life, and for the most part…whenever a door closed, another door, or two windows opened in return.

Years back, I moved to New York City with no family, no friends, and only two suitcases. Despite landing in one of the most expensive cities in the world, the Universe/God provided. I didn’t have a dime saved up and before I could find an apartment, I had to return to LA because my grandfather died. The day before I left I meet a soror who let me crash in her place…for as long as I needed. After about a month of soaking in the city (and attending grad school), I landed a job at an ed tech firm. Later I got my own place in Brooklyn, and when I lost my job and found out I was preggo, instead of being paralyzed by fear and worry, I worked my ass off to find free health care and temp gigs that allowed me to pay my rent and make sure le kid was ok in the process.

When I go through my “OMG! Now what?!” moments these days, I remind myself I’ve always made a way and God has always sustained me, so why should this be different?

If you’re experiencing a similar feeling, here are a few things to help you get by:

You got this: Clearly you’re talented, brave, smart, and a whole host of other positive things that have helped you get to this point. Just because you’re now following your dreams doesn’t mean you still don’t have the same set of skills you possessed before. Remember what got you to this moment. You got it, boo.

Evaluate the situation: Are you just having a normal freak out? Are you worried about money? Time? Security? Get to the root of the issue and try to figure out ways to solve it. If you’re worried that being a freelancer is putting a serious hurting on your income, think about ways to maximize your time and take on more gigs. And if you just can’t swing working for yourself AND making your bills, consider working part-time until you feel financially ready to continue being a full-time freelancer.

Brainstorm solutions: Once you’ve evaluated the situation, you’ll be more able to pinpoint a solution. My “OMG, WTF?” moment was quickly met with, “Ok Brit…how can we make up this money?” Once I began to think about it, I knew exactly how I could kick it up a notch….and I did. If you dream about going back to school or taking a round the world trip, but don’t want to blow up your credit score, think about how you can make this happen in a way that gets you to your goals without taking on a load of debt in the process.

No matter where you are in life, you’ll have a now what moment. They are merely apart of the journey, but it’s how you respond to them that matters.

If you allow the fear of failure push you to inaction it has already won. You won’t accomplish your goals, and you may even end up on a therapist’s couch (or at your local bar) wondering why you’re unhappy. But if you’re able to push past your fears and figure out solutions to them, then you’ll be on the road to success.

Have you experienced an “OMG, Now what?!” moment? How did you handle it?

Life Is Too Short: Trayvon Martin, Granddaddy, and Me

Trayvon Martin

For the past week I’ve been thinking, writing and tweeting a lot about Trayvon Martin.

In case you aren’t familiar with his plight, the 17-year-old Florida teen was murdered on Feb. 26 as he was walking back to his father’s home in Sanford, Florida. The young man–just a month after his 17th birthday–lost his life to an over-zealous “neighborhood watch captain” who seemed to have something against young black men.

Thinking of young Trayvon being stalked and killed by a man who was 10 years older and 100 pounders heavier is unimaginable. And since hearing of his death I’ve been someone obsessed with his case. I’ve written article after article, kicked off a twitter campaign to raise awareness about his case, and have gotten to know the details of the case.

But why? Kids get killed every day….why am I so obsessed about Trayvon?

Being a mother makes me sensitive to things like this. My son could easily be Trayvon in 10 years. I live in a upper-middle-class neighborhood where the local police are notoriously racist. I’ve been told several times by male friends that they’ve been stopped in and around these parts, so I’m acutely aware of the hurdles my son will face.

But there’s something else about Trayvon’s death that’s got me all up in my feelings: His life was too short.

He was barely 17, barely knew what it was like to love, didn’t get to go to college, or to celebrate his 21st birthday, or get married, or be a dad. George Zimmerman took that away from him. And no matter how hard I try to shake the feeling that my son or brothers or father could easily be Trayvon one day, I can’t.

Life is precious. It is a gift, and yet so many disgard and undervalue it as if it is nothing. As if it is of no value at all.

When I think of Trayvon, I also think of the men in my family, like my grandfather, who made it out of the bad old South to see things; to live life.

My grandfather–a man who dropped out of school in the third grade to work the fields–lived his life. For 75 years he lived on his own terms and managed to attain the America Dream in spite of all of the challenges he faced.

My grandfather was basically illiterate, and yet he memorized the Bible so well he preached at churches all around the country. His love of the Lord took him all the way to the Holy Land, Israel, to walk the streets Jesus walked.

Despite his limited education, my granddaddy was able to work his way up at Lockheed Martin and gain top-secret security clearance and retire with a pension and a paid-for house. He did that.  He moved his family from a small town in Arkansas to Cleveland to Los Angeles for a better life. He was fearless.

And it is that same fearlessness that both inspires and scares me about my son.

I don’t want him to lose his inquisitive nature. His openness to learn about his world and about other people are some of his best traits. I don’t want him to limit himself and slink away from life because he is afraid of what may befall him if he’s caught on the wrong street wearing a hoodie and carrying a pack of Skittles. He shouldn’t have to carry the burden of society’s prejudice, and yet…he does.

It is for this exact reason that nearly every, single weekend we venture out and see something new. It is for this–to spend time building memories with my son–that we hit the road and attempt to see the world.

I would hate to lose him; I am certain that would kill me. But it would be even more tragic to waste the time that we have together because I am too busy working, or hanging with my friends, or recovering from the week.

No, time is too short.

It’s too short to just phone it in and put things off until tomorrow. Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Danroy Henry, Latasha Harlin, and countless others all had tomorrow pulled out from under them like some cruel trick. Just like that.

So every day I will tell my son I love him, and hear him out, and build a memory, because you never know when that’s all we will have left.