Who I Am

Hi. My Name is AJ. I’m 32 years old and have developed a strong desire to see the world. Instead of giving in to the fears of making substantial changes in my life, I’m embracing them and seeing where it leads me.

The only thing constant in life is change. I’ve recently gone through (and am still going through) some MAJOR changes in my life. I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been living my life 2-4 years in the future, and as time has passed, my priorities have changed and I never ended up reaching those 2-4 year goal timeframes. So in other words, most of the things I was working towards, never came to fruition because either my priorities/wants changed or things beyond my control changed around me which yielded a new goal. In either case, it’s time to start living in the now. Carpe diem. Lethe. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, live in the present and thrive. Now.

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio (Norwood specifically). My parents have been married for 40+ years and still live in the same house my sister and I were born and raised in. My sister and her husband live in Mason with their 3 beautiful children. The address on my driver’s license still shows Loveland, OH since that’s where my home base is. I built a house there in 2003.

I went to High School in Norwood, Ohio and graduated in 1998. Right away, I went to college in Daytona Beach, FL at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where I received two undergrad degrees (A.S. Aircraft Maintenance Technology and B.S. Management of Technical Operations). The freedom of being on my own for the first time in my life while living 1,000+ miles away from home made me grow up quick. I made a TON of mistakes, but luckily my family was there to help bail me out (not literally) when I got in over my head. (Thanks Mom and Dad – I love you very much and can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done for me) For the times I was on my own and couldn’t fall back on my family, I learned how to be creative and get by as best as I could with what I had at the time. By the way, moving away from home at age 17 for the first time when you’re super close to your family isn’t easy. I went home 9 times my freshman year in college I was so home sick. My family is my everything. That much I’m sure will never change.

As for my professional experience, I’ve done a lot. I have a rather interesting and colorful resume with many stories along the way. I’ve been laid off twice, walked out of one job mid-shift, and the rest have been my choice of how long I stayed before moving on. Retail associate, bus-boy, aircraft mechanic, fractional ownership sales of turbo-props and business jets, maintenance management, business jet charter sales manager, business owner (2 for-profit LLC’s), graphic and brand identity design specialist, application specialist… and many more in between. I’ve found that I get bored with jobs after about 2-3 years. The challenge disappears, the mundane routine sets in, and boredom takes over. I get antsy and start looking for something new. The loyalty of employees towards their employers seems to be reciprocated back to them less and less as time goes on. It’s all about the bottom-line. Making the most money possible. As soon as you start to make good money (more accurately, as soon as you begin to make more than most of your co-workers around you) a target appears on your head. I understand and appreciate the opportunities that a capitalistic environment offers, but believe there’s a “right wall” that we’ve been approaching for some time now and appear to be getting close to that wall. (If you haven’t heard of the “right wall,” check out a book called Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin) I read this for the first time in college for one of my upper level humanities courses and it changed me forever. I’ve probably read it a half-dozen times since. It’s a GREAT read for those of you interested in the evolution of societies and thought.

About a year and a half ago, I transitioned to vegetarianism. It all started with Food Inc. I was watching this documentary with Littlefoot and mid-movie, we paused it, got up, and threw out about $600+ worth of “food” in our kitchen. If you haven’t seen this documentary, WATCH IT! It’ll change your life forever. I promise you that. I have a large list of other documentaries that have changed me significantly, but we’ll go into those later in another post… This should start you down the wormhole. Where you go from there, is your choice.

drumming 150x150 Who I Am

drumming with friends

As for my hobbies, I’ve done it all and continue to enjoy everything I try. This list seems to grow every week. Scuba diving, camping, hiking, music, drumming, snowboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, sky diving, volleyball, hockey, ultimate frisbee, disc golf, sport bikes, organic gardening, basic carpentry, DIT projects (do it together – do it yourself isn’t any fun), cooking, juicing, working out, biking, photography… you get the idea. My favorite at the moment seems to be scuba diving. I volunteer my time as a scuba diver at the Cincinnati Zoo to help out with the manatees and also at the Newport Aquarium in the Coral Reef and Amazon tanks (600+ lb Arapaimas, 3 ft diameter sting rays, honeycomb eels, tangs, puffers…). My most recent trip (Aug 2012) took me to Fort Lauderdale where I stayed with a great friend of mine from college. We didn’t spend much time at his condo, instead we were in the water throughout the Florida Keys. Molasses Reef off the coast of Key Largo all the way down to Key West. My buddy posted some great vid clips of our dives here and here.

As for where I am at this point in my life, I don’t really know how to describe that, because I’m not fully aware of exactly where I am. This is definitely a time of transition for me (many others around me as well). So many things have changed. I used to be EXTREMELY materialistic and had to always have the latest and greatest tech toys, and spiffy things. I’m in the process of selling nearly everything I own so I can begin my travels to explore the world (and my own inner-self) more intimately. I have a strong desire to live my life more in-tune with my values. Use less, give back more. SOJA has a great line in “Everything Changes,” one of the songs off their most recent album (by far the most profound reggae album with the most meaningful lyrics I’ve ever heard – SOJA Strength to Survive) – which is: “maybe we need to look at this world less like a square and more like a circle.” My activities have changed, my diet is totally different, my spiritual beliefs are deepening, and I have NO CLUE what I wanna be when I grow up. Mid-life? Perhaps…

Having a desire (and plans set-in-stone) to quit your job, and venture away from the safety and security of home is unnerving at times, but as Andre Gide once said, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Be well. And Namaste.

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2 Responses to “Who I Am”

  1. Wayne says:

    A new side of you. Love it.

  2. Hi.

    I too quit my job and am on the road. I travel alone except for when I find friends. I am a baby traveler. I’ve been at it three months. I love your blog and am amazed at all the information here. I have a much less inclusive blog and it takes a ton of work.

    You are doing a great job. Right on.

    You can check out my blog if you wish, but really, you put me to shame.

    Right now I’m in Pak Bang Laos for a couple of weeks. Everyone comes here and no one ever remembers it.

    Then to Chiang Mai for a second time to pick up a visa (which is how I found your site) before heading off again.

    Thanks for the blog and the info.


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