Tag Archives: business travel

Lessons from a near death experience….

So Facebook was kind enough today to remind me that four years ago on this day, I was testing for my black belt in American Karate.  It was a night that I do not remember and one that I will never forget.  That was the night I discovered I had an Atrial Flutter.  It was a night that started a week long hospital stay that included medically induced comas, CAT scans, EKGs and eventually a cardiac ablation (want the full story?  Read it here).

“You do realize you almost died, right?”    –     Dr. Kevin Wheelan

Even though I had just awoken from a 36 hour medically induced nap, couldn’t remember large sections of the previous 48 hours, had two black eyes and was sore everywhere – the severity of my situation did not really hit me until I heard my cardiologist reinforce those words.

The days are now few and far between when I do not think about how lucky I was to survive.  They are also few and far between that I do not think about the lessons that experience taught me.

Prioritize your health:  If I had not made a specific effort in the 18 months leading up to the test, I firmly believe I would not be here today (did you read the link above?).  The majority of the leading causes of death in America are due to preventable diseases that can be controlled/prevented through diet and exercise……so DIET AND EXERCISE!!!

Listen to your body:  If I had not been so hard headed and determined to do whatever it took to get my black belt, I would not have ended up in the hospital.  I knew early on in my test that something was off.  I think I even knew a couple of weeks before that during one of my training sessions.  If I had really listened to my body, I would have had it checked out.

Pay attention to what you fuel it with:  One of the questions that the medical staff asked me repeatedly was did I fuel up with Monster or Red Bull or place energy drink name here.  They only asked me about drugs once.  That crap puts people in the hospital regularly, I avoid it like the plague.

Prepare for the worst:  I have been fortunate to have good guidance on planning for the inevitable.  If I had not made it, Joy and the boys would have been taken care of.  However, not everyone is in that boat.  If you aren’t, get there.  We are not promised tomorrow but we are promised that those around us will have to carry on.  Take care of them.

Bonus learning – If you are in the Dallas area, immediately go to www.lifefight.org and become a member.  Should you or anyone in your family ever need their services, you will thank me.  We spent months of effort and thousands of dollars avoiding a huge medical bill that is completely avoidable.  Think of it like AAA for your family should they ever need air ambulance service.

Pray like it depends on Him:  Between this event, Joy’s Breast Cancer diagnosis, Tyler’s Papilledema and Charlie’s depression, we have learned to pray in earnest around here.  My prayer life got immensely deeper as I recovered and gave thanks daily.   With it came a deeper peace I had not experienced to that point in my life.  Pray like it depends on Him…….because it does.

Now are those the only things that I learned, of course not, but they are the ones that have stuck with me and I think about almost daily.  Knocking on deaths door will change you.  Hopefully I can have done enough knocking for all of us to learn the lessons.

Have Gi – Will Travel: Greensboro Combat Sports

So let me start this post by saying the martial arts community in Greensboro, NC is not what I expected it to be.  For the first time on this National journey, I felt really limited by my choices to train at.  A quick Google search came up with 3 options……THREE!!!

Gym A:  Just posted a letter announcing ownership change and that everything will be just fine……nope.

Gym B:  No website.  No reviews.  No Facebook page……..nope.

Gym C:  Greensboro Combat Sports/Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu……we have a winner!!!

To summarize, the instruction was good and detailed and the instructor made sure to work with all students in the room.  As with most schools I visit, the number of beginning students by far outweighed those with significant experience but the diversity in the room of body styles, gender and age was great to see.  All in all, worth the mat fee and very glad I took the time to go check it out.

Instructor:  

GCS - Blayne

The class (and school) was lead by a purple belt, Blayne Turnmire (pictured above winning double gold at a recent tournament).  Now before you run off saying “The school is run by a purple belt!!”- as near as I could tell, yes, it is.   Based on my research though, he is also one of the highest ranking people in the Triad area and definitely in Greensboro.  His teaching style was a bit laid back compared to other instructors I have had but it did not lack in detail.  We worked several stand up self defenses (loved it – I don’t do this enough) and then worked on knee-on-belly.

After drilling for 30-minutes or so, we rolled.  Good skill level in the room and a few guys were going hard.  Several of them were competing in a sub-only tournament the following weekend so they were getting after it.  From what I could see on Facebook, looks like they did well and that was not surprising based on my experience with them on the mat.

Attitude towards outsiders:

From what I could gather from Mindy (she really runs the place), the gym regularly has RoadWarriors like myself dropping in for training.  She was quick to respond to my inquiry (and I inquired very much last minute) and commented a couple of times of how she is always surprised how often it happens.  In fact, I was not the only traveling visitor that day.  They had another regular who comes down from Columbus, OH on a regular basis.

As I mentioned before, the class felt less formal than some that I have experienced but when I think back on it, there was definite structure to it.  We bowed in and then went straight into warm ups.  There were no pleasantries between the students (lots between the instructor and the students), it was pretty much straight to work.   Nothing rude or exclusionary mind you, just not a lot of chit chat and welcoming (go back up and see that diversity comment again).

I want to make sure I am painting this picture correctly, I never felt unwanted, shunned, second class or any other form of being boxed out as an outsider.  However unlike other gyms I have dropped in on, I think I would have to reintroduce myself to everyone there.

Facilities:

Located just West of downtown Greensboro, the gym is in a converted warehouse building, it has a HUGE mat space that is separate from an additional mat for stand-up training.  It also boasted full weight training equipment scattered around the gym.

One warning, it is not the CrossFit gym……the one that happens to be next door.  You can guess how I know they are separate facilities.

Overall Experience:

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I really enjoyed my time at Greensboro Combat Sports.  I actually took part in a fight fit class before rolling so got to experience a couple of different types of training.  The technique instruction was exactly what I have been trying to work on so it fit with my training perfectly.  And while the atmosphere was a bit more lax than what I have experienced elsewhere, the jujitsu was on point.

So if you find yourself in the Greensboro area and are looking for a place to train, look no further than Greensboro Combat Sports.  It is proof that just because you don’t have much of a selection doesn’t mean that you don’t have the opportunity to get some great training in!!

See you on the road!!

 

Get the most out of your RealWorld Experience!!

realworld

Yep, it is that time again already, the annual RealPage User Conference aka REALWORLD 2016!!!

Now this is going to be my 6th RealWorld Conference (how can that possibly be?).  For those not in the know, RealWorld is the conference specifically dedicated to RealPage and their partners where we showcase the latest developments in the industry, the product improvements being delivered/developed and most important, thank our partners for their continued partnership.  It is 3 days of networking, learning, previews and fun but let’s face it, it is also long days, longer evenings and tight schedules.  In order to make the most of the sessions and travel fit, you have to have a strategy to thrive.

This is also my 3rd year of providing a few of my tips and tricks to not just surviving the conference but really making the most of it for both education and fintess.  So here are my RealWorld rules to live by:

Tip #1: Plan ahead:

I know I say this every year but I cannot over emphasize this one enough; Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  If your plan is showing up at the conference and “figure it out” you are in for a rough time.……not going to happen.  There are just too many great options of sessions to attend and fellow RealPage users to meet.  If you don’t plan ahead you are guaranteed to miss a ‘can’t miss’ session and for sure your workout is not going to get done.

Realworldapp

So if you haven’t already, go download the RealWorld App right now.  Seriously, I’ll wait.

Now, immediately start adding your must attend sessions to your calendar.  Might I suggest ‘Stack the Deck with Business Intelligence’ on Tuesday morning as a starting point?  I hear the speaker for that one is sub-par but the material should be great!!

Once you know when your ‘Can’t miss’ sessions are, you can fill in the rest of the time slots for meetings, networking, product demos and down time.

Tip #2: Stay hydrated:

water bottle refill

You know you should normally be drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  Well , this year we are at the beautiful Wynn hotel.  If you have never been to a conference at this hotel, I will give you fair warning, it is a long way from the rooms to the conference center.  A LONG WAY!!  So you are going to be walking more than you normally do and potentially imbibing on an alcoholic drink or two in the evening, and oh yeah, this is all happening in the middle of the dessert.  I am going to recommend you up your water intake from the standard 8 glasses.  Trust me, you will thank me when you are waking up on days 2 & 3 of the conference.  Now this is where planning comes in again.  I find that it is a very rare thing to find a conference center that keeps the water pitchers/bottles full throughout the conference.

SO BRING YOUR OWN!!

You may not always be able to find a nice chilled bottle of FIJI but you can usually find a water fountain to fill up your own bottle.  And if you are anything like me, you find an empty water bottle strangely motivational.

Tip #3: Recharge:

weary traveler

This will look different for each of us but I find I need a point in my day to recharge more than just my phone.  For me, it is time in the gym.   I can get my head on straight and work all the kinks out that I am feeling from standing all day.  For others it is a power nap in the room, others it is 15 minutes in the sun out by the pool.  Whatever it is that recharges and helps your re-center your mindset, make sure you have time built in each day to accomplish it.

Now we also need to think about that phone, so don’t forget your mobile charger!  We want to hear your thoughts throughout the day (follow the hashtag #RWconf2016 to join the conversation).

Tip #4: Eat well & Eat often:

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Make sure you take the time to eat like you should.  Do not sacrifice the quality of your diet because you need to rush somewhere.  Stop by the store on the way to the hotel and grab some snacks for the room (don’t get me started on the mini-bar options for $10 bucks each).  Put a bar in your purse.  Throw an apple in your bag for later in the day.  Your body needs fuel to thrive vs. survive.  Give it what it needs.

Bonus Tip:  Most hotels that host conferences have pretty good gyms.  Gyms where they actual stock fruit for the taking.

Tip #5: Have fun:

If this is your first RealWorld Conference, you are in for a treat.  It is a blast, especially the party on Monday night.  Although not themed this year, in the past we have celebrated the lives of people like Dr. Seuss or given our best superhero impersonation.

wolverine ABDr. Seuss

The party is a celebration of our partnership with all of you and we pull out all of the stops.  This year promises to be a lavish affair….even if Wolverine will not be showing up.

Bonus Tip #6:

For those of you who are runners (or are even thinking about running), I cannot recommend skipping the treadmill in the morning enough.  Running the Las Vegas strip in the early morning is in my top 5 runs in the country.

Seriously, the people watching is unbelievable!!!

In fact, even if you don’t run, wake up a bit early on Monday or Tuesday and head out for a walk.  I promise that not only will you feel better but you will have conversation topics for the rest of the day!!

Time for me to go pack and finish my presentations but hopefully I will see you at RealWorld!!

Have Gi – Will Travel : North Broadway JiuJitsu, Bryan Guidry Fitness Training

In researching for a trip to St. Louis, all of the opinions, reviews and most importantly for me, operating hours (they were open later than all the rest) were pointing me to North Broadway Jiu Jitsu – Bryan Guidry Training.

I happened to attend on a day that the focus was No-Gi so I should probably call this one “No-Gi : Will Travel”.   I also had the good fortune to be able to attend on a night when both traditional class and all rank sparring sessions were being held so I got to roll with folks of all belt ranks and experience a great deal of what NBJJ has to offer.

To summarize, the instruction was great.  Although the group was a bit slow to warm up to the outsiders in the room (they were never cold), once we started going, the atmosphere was one of encouragement and support.  The rolling was strong and intense but without ego or intent to harm.  All in all, I had a great experience.

Instructor:  

Bryan Guidry

Professor Bryan was one of the best teachers I have experienced in a while.   My first class was all about technique and drills.  We were specifically working on sweeps from Butterfly Guard.   He was detailed in his explanations, clear in his demonstrations and then most importantly, followed up with specific instructions/corrections to each of us as he observed us working the techniques.  This last step is one that I have seen several instructors skip.  Even with the outsiders, Professor Bryan was observing and providing the feedback necessary to get the technique right.

I was also fortunate enough to get to roll with him in the sparring class.  Like any good instructor, he would let me get in trouble, attempt to work out of it and then show me that everything I was doing was futile.  Six minutes of attempted survival.

Attitude towards outsiders:

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Bryan Guidry has developed a reputation as the place to train in St. Louis.  With this reputation comes a lot of folks that are in just for a session or a week.  In fact, on the evening I visited there was another guy who was in from upstate Missouri looking for a place to train when he is in St. Louis 3-4 days a week.  All this to say, this group is very used to visitors.

The guys were obviously tight knit with a great deal of pre-class conversation around who was rolling in the upcoming submission only tournament, how people’s jobs were progressing, etc.  There was not a lot of pleasantries with the two ‘newbies’ before class but once Professor Guidry got class going, the group was warm and welcoming.  Truth be told, this may also be my introverted nature coming through as well.

Once we got rolling, the guys were great.  No egos, lots of diverse styles and a great willingness to help each other.  Great culture.

Facilities:

OK, this is a gym you are going to want to map out to get to.  If Professor Bryan ever has someone say they were ‘just driving by’ – they are full of it.  It is off the beaten path however the facility itself is definitely put together to train.  Located in a converted warehouse building, it has a large mat space (there were close 20 of us rolling at any one time), a full weight/cardio room and sauna.

Both men’s and women’s locker rooms and showers are available.  Bonus was the ”member lounge” that doubled as a spot for the kids of those rolling to hang out in.  Only downfall to the space was the pillars in the middle of the mat.  Completely avoidable as you roll but could get in the way when Professor was demonstrating a technique.

Overall Experience:

I really enjoyed my time at North Broadway Jiu Jitsu.  I have definitely been to better facilities but the skill of Professor Bryan both on the mat and more importantly, as an instructor, as well as the guys who were rolling make up for any short comings that the facility may present.  My only regret was I was not able to train in the Gi but that was all about timing, besides, Professor Bryan has a whole series on the internet so I can study with him while I am at home or on the road.

One final note, you will notice I didn’t mention anything about the kids program or women on the mat.  I am 100% sure this was just due to the timing of my visit but I did not see either while at NBJJ.  The only reason I mention it here is it is normally a big part of my assessment of a gym.  In this case, there were no kids classes offered on the Tuesday I had the opportunity to roll.  As for women, none showed for the classes I took but one scroll through their Facebook page clearly shows that women regularly attend (at least) Gi classes.

So if you are in the market for a training facility in St. Louis, North Broadway Jiu Jitsu is worth the visit.

The Art of Aging Gracefully……Screw That!!!

I am going kicking and screaming all the way……just being real.

I agree with Tony Horton who recently proclaimed to CNBC that Aging is for Idiots .  I see no reason to allow Father Time to have his way without the fight of his life.

Now with that said, I have had some recent reminders that I am not the young guy I used to be anymore.  For example, just a couple of weeks ago I heard the following statement while visiting a BJJ gym in LA:

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“Yeah, you’ve got that ‘Old Man Strength’”

What!?!?!  Old Man Strength!?!??!!  How about just ‘strength’? Then I took a long hard look around the mat and realized, I was the oldest on the mat by at least 5 years (OK, maybe 10).  That lead to the realization that I could count on two hands how many folks I had rolled with this year that have me beat in age.  How did this happen?  How am I suddenly the ‘old guy’?

Oh, and then there is work……

family

“I can’t believe you have a child that is driving!”

Not quite sure how to react to this one.  Is it because you can’t believe I could be old enough to have a 16 year old child?  Or is it because you cannot believe that my gene pool would be able to produce an offspring with the mental capacity to control a motor vehicle effectively?  I really hope it is the prior although the later certainly is in question.

And then there is Facebook….

wife

“When I grow up I want to be like you and your wife!”

This coming from a thirty-something fitness enthusiast.  You see, Joy and were both presented with the opportunity to audition for the next Beachbody Infomercial for The 21 Day Fix Extreme program by Autumn Calabrese, an opportunity we both jumped at.  So just us and 11,000 other Beachbody super fans are a part of a Facebook group where we regularly post specific assignments and encouragement.   Looking at the feed in this group is inspiring, motivational and humbling as well as a gut check.  You see in this group, I am definitely raising the median age (my wife however is ageless so she is having no affect ).

Why am I sharing all of this?  Because while aging chronologically is inevitable, how you age physically is absolutely a choice.  Not much is within our control any more; politics, economics, job stability, Brexit and the thoughts of others affect us daily but we have zero control over them.  What do you have control over?

  • What you feed your body – are you giving it whole foods in the right portions?
  • What you feed your mind – are you reading regularly? Does the subject matter challenge you?
  • Moving your body – You know the First Law of motion…..a body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Be in motion – whatever that looks like for you.
  • Effort – Are you giving it everything you can?
  • Consistency – see that whole First Law of Motion thing above

So yeah, we all grow older but how we grow older is a choice.  I choose to embrace Old Man Strength and to control what I can and not place undue worry on what I can’t.  Now if I can just find someone to help me with my old man wardrobe…….

How does your wife deal with it?

I get that question a lot.  Especially from women who learn how much I travel.  So today, on our 20th wedding anniversary, I am asking myself that same question:

How have we done it?  How have we made it work for 20 years when others haven’t?

Our marriage has not been the most conventional (no, not like that).  Since the time we were first married, we have spent significant amounts of it apart.  Even as far back as our first year of marriage, I was working in Los Angeles while she was down in San Diego.  And back then we did not even share the same days off.  We were constantly ships passing in the night as one of us was always driving up or down the California coast to spend time with each other.  Since then, I have basically spent the better part of 3 months each year in hotel rooms away from my family.

So as I have been thinking about what it takes to make a marriage successful among the crazy demands of business travel, I keep coming back to the same six things……..

Take time to understand their Love Language:

If you are not familiar with the concept of the 5 love languages, I suggest you stop reading this and immediately click here.  This was probably the most impactful self-development exercise I did when it comes to the impact on our marriage.  Understanding how Acts of Service speaks to Joy and literally says “I love you” to her changed the way I look at tasks around the house.  Which brings me to….

 Embrace the ‘Honey-do’ list:

Did you catch that Joy’s love language is Acts of Service?  That means that when I get stuff done around the house, she feels valued and loved.  So if there is a research project that needs done, I will do it on a plane.  I try and get stuff accomplished around the house on the weekends.  I love to check things off of lists and she loves to put things on lists.  It works for us.

When you are home – put them first:

I love to golf.  I don’t play golf.

I would train all day everyday on a martial arts mat.  I limit myself to only classes I do with my boys.

These are things that fuel and refresh me but THEY TAKE TIME!!!  I have pontificated on this before but when I am home, I vehemently protect that time.  I can train on the road.  I can work late on the road.  I can only spend time with my family, specifically my spouse, while I am at home.

Set them up for success:

Part of my weekly weekend ritual is to set my wife and kids up for success for the week.  That means getting meals planned out, buying the groceries, meal prepping, making sure laundry is done, projects are completed and ready to be turned in, schedules are clear for the next week, and so on, and so on and so on.  The weeks that are the most stressful on all of us are the ones where I fail to plan for the week.  My job is to provide and more than just a paycheck.

Hide all evidence of travel:

When I get home I tend to unpack right away.  Not because I am super diligent about processing my laundry but because if I leave my suitcase out all weekend it serves as a constant reminder that I have either been gone all week or will be gone all week.  Unpack quickly and pack at the last minute.

Communicate:

This one was the hardest one for me to learn.  Seems silly but for years I would wait till the last minute to let my wife know I was going to be traveling.  She would consistently get mad when I was leaving so if I left it to the very last minute, I got to enjoy a few more days of ‘happiness’.  This does not work.  Communicate early.  Communicate often.  Communicate regularly.  Call, text, email, skywriting……communicate.

Now please understand, developing these habits was a process.  There have been times when I have been incredibly selfish.  When I didn’t put her and the kids first and inevitably, our largest fights have been centered around those times.  Also, I think this list can be applied to any marriage and approaching what separates you.  For us, it happens to be literal distance.  For others, it may just be time.

So hopefully this list will help you and your spouse survive the pitfalls of business travel, whether you have a short season of travel or whether you become a salty veteran like me.

See you on the road!!

What others won’t tell you about living a life on the road

I always love having conversations with people who do not spend much time on the road, especially when they are on the road themselves.  And having just come off of the largest conference of the year for the apartment industry where literally thousands of folks who never travel have just spent the last week in City by the Bay, I have had a lot of those conversations recently.  Want to guess what the most common question/comment I heard in my various conversations was?

                “How do you do it?”

The answer is simple, one day at a time.  That is all I can do.

These conversations prompted me to write an article this time that I am not sure I have seen out there.  Everyone likes to point out the positives of travel, I would like to point out the challenges that RoadWarrior’s face so the next time you find yourself staring at a calendar with an upcoming road trip, you are ready.

Reality #1 – Staying fit is hard:

Gyms with broken equipment.  Overtaxed schedules.  Tired muscles and minds.  All of these are a normal part of the RoadWarrior life.   Combine that with the ease of finding food that is horrible for you and the scarcity of the food that will really fuel your body well and you have the perfect recipe for allowing your fitness to suffer.

My solution:  Plan ahead (more on this topic here).  You need to schedule your workouts.  You need to research where and when you are going to eat.  Winging it every once in a while is OK.  Winging it every trip is a recipe for obesity.

Reality #2 – Alcohol is everywhere:

Seriously.  Once you get any level of status on an airline or hotel chain, they are constantly making sure that if you want to be liquored up, you can be.  It becomes incredibly simple to have a cocktail in the lounge before your flight, a couple of glasses of wine on the plane and then again at your next hotel.  I lost count a long time ago of the number of people I have seen over served at the hotel bar.  I am far from saying don’t drink but definitely do so with intent and a consciousness about it.  Too much alcohol has done no one any good….ever.

My solution:  Be conscious about your consumption.  Set limits in advance and choose when/if you are going to consume and where.

Reality #3 – People expect you to work constantly:

This may be just my world and my own personal work ethic but if I am going to be away from my family, I am going to make sure I am as productive as possible (I do so with the intention of protecting my time when I am at home).  Here’s the problem, my coworkers now expect me to be available 24/7 when I am on the road.  You have to protect yourself on this one.  You prioritizing your time is different than others demanding your attention.

My solution – Create and stick to reasonable boundaries.  I turn off my instant chat function on my computer around 9:00.  I stop responding to emails about that time as well.  I don’t send out new emails after that point.  It is when I shut it down (or at least give that impression – truth is I am often working later but scheduling my correspondence to be sent the following morning).

Reality #4 – Reentry is hard:

You just got home from a long trip, your plane was late and it is actually tomorrow when you arrive home.  To top it off, you have been burning the candle at both ends all week and you are both physically and mentally spent.  All you want to do is climb in to bed and never get out.  Unfortunately, your spouse has had the same type of week shuttling around kids, making sure everyone is fed, doing their own professional job and trying to stay fit.  They have been burning the candle at both ends and all they want is to climb into bed and never get out…but thank God you are home to take over, right?

My solution – Suck it up cupcake, especially if you are a regular RoadWarrior!!  Your travel schedule created this dynamic and you need to do everything you can to make the reentry as smooth as possible.  Sorry I don’t have any additional sage wisdom here but sometimes it is what it is.  This is also why I tend to bring gifts…..like San Francisco sourdough bread!!

bread

Reality #5 – A life on the road is a lonely one:

I have written on this topic previously but it is very had to develop relationships on the road and very easy to hide among the masses.  There is a reason fish school to avoid predators, they can become an indistinguishable part of a larger massive organism.  Great for fish…..terrible for humans.

My solution – Be intentional about maintaining the relationships you have that are most important.  If I am not intentionally reaching out to my wife, my kids, my parents, it is easy for me to go days without communicating.  This may just be a me thing but I like to fade into the background (ironically, I am doing so right now in the Admirals Club as literally dozens of industry coworkers buzz around).  Below are some recent shots from a run I made across the Golden Gate with a couple of co-workers.  An hour of intentional interaction.

Reality #6 – It is really easy to get depressed:

Everything above can easily culminate in a feeling of depression.  You stop being active, you feed your body with a depressant, you are working constantly, you know when you get home there is going to be tension and you feel alone.  How could you not get depressed, right?  I would be lying if I did not admit that about once a quarter, I have a trip where it all bears down on me……and I don’t think I am alone in that feeling.  I am always amazed at how utterly alone you can feel in a sea of people.

My solution – Beat the depression out of me physically.  Seriously, this is why I work out the way I do on the road.  I will do double workouts – if for no other reason than it keeps me off of the computer.  I will start a blog just to vent about it into the abyss.  For others it may be reading their favorite book, knitting, researching menu plans.  Could be any number of activities but do something you love to focus your energy and attention elsewhere.

So there you go, the 6 realities that no one really wants to talk about a life lived on the road.   If you can be intentional about heading those 6 off before they start, you are in for a good trip.  See you on the road!