My Log Book

8 Aug

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I have been SCUBA diving for over 25 years. Destinations have included The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Greek Isles, Hawaii, California, Florida, a mine in Missouri, and every divable spot in Mexico and the Caribbean. There were times over that period when I was very active and times when life got in the way and I was only able to get in one trip a year. Regardless, I have been religious about keeping a log of every one of my several hundred dives. It is my personal SCUBA history book.

In the early years I wrote about the things I saw. The book is littered with the words ray, shark, turtle, eel, and every manner of reef fish large and small. The sharks were identified by species; nurse, bull, lemon, whitetip, blacktip, hammerhead, and tiger (no great whites yet). I once saw a turtle as big as a VW bug.

When my son and daughter took up the sport about eight years ago, I continued to log our dives together and the frequency of them increased dramatically. Diving became a family affair. I loved getting them alone on a surface interval to chat about the things we saw on our first dive and talk excitedly about what we might encounter next.

Soon after we began diving together the entries in my log book began to change. I still noted the special things we had seen, but there was much more written about the people we were with. The entries were now about new friends made on trips; kind souls that emailed photos from their fancy underwater cameras; interesting folks with good stories; and friends that I have introduced to life under the sea. The memories made on these trips are less about morays and mantas, and more about friends and family.

As I peruse the log book entries from our new second home at Royal Belize I find precious reminders of the people I love the most.

Memorial Gratitude

26 May

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It is early morning on Memorial Day in the United States. It rained last night and it is surprisingly cool. On mornings like this a ribbon of mist hangs over the river a quarter of a mile to the north. The fog snakes its way through the valley like a river suspended in the air. Sitting on the back porch sipping coffee I can hear an axis buck snorting in the trees to the east. It is going to be a great day.

Having spent several days earlier this month as a guest of the Air Force, I understand Memorial Day better than ever and have a much greater appreciation for its meaning. The debt we owe to our service members past and present can never be repaid. Acknowledging that obligation is the first step in an attempt to discharge the debt. I have written about this before in an essay titled “The Debt”.

I hit the sweetest of sweet spots in the martial history of the United States. Born in 1966, the war in Vietnam was long over by the time I turned eighteen. The Gulf War in 1990 was over in less than six months and was happening a million miles away from my then home base in Hawaii. Nothing was ever asked or required of me. What then should I do to show my gratitude to those men and women living and dead that made and continue to make my comfortable, back porch way of life possible?

While there is no way for me to fully repay the debt I owe to my country for the opportunities I have enjoyed, I can knowingly acknowledge the obligation for the tremendous benefits we share from our collective history. Thank you to my great uncles that fought World War II, to my uncles for their sacrifices in Southeast Asia, for my younger cousins and nephews in Afghanistan, and for my many friends throughout the military. Memorial Day is your day. I salute you in gratitude.

Catching Fire Family Update

31 Dec

Family 2013

The Poston family candle not only burns at both ends, this year the whole thing caught fire. Just thinking about 2013 is exhausting. We work hard to cram a lot of living into every day of the year. We made some memories worth noting in our search for perfect peace, hit some milestones on the journey of life, and chose to ignore a lot of nonsense going on in the world. Catching fire is fun.

In March, Jensen’s “grand surprise” came in the form of grandbaby, Walker Rye Richard. Jensen and Sarah are wonderful parents and we think grandparenthood is – like hyperbole – the best thing ever. As Gigi and Bully, we get all the good stuff. Walker FaceTimes with Richele so much that he seems confused when she appears in three dimensions. Billy even changed a diaper, raising his lifetime total into double digits. We are setting aside money for Walker to deal with the inevitable body image issues that will surface later in life from being called “little fattie” during his first year. In all seriousness, this is one big, happy, roly-poly baby.

In her junior year at Tulane, Charisse assumed parental responsibility for three underprivileged fraternity boys and is housing them in the Pine Street Projects. She spent the summer cruising the Mediterranean and doing “field work” in Marrakesh, Mykonos, Malta and the like. Charisse successfully navigated the train system in Italy and acquired the “best tan of her life.” For this she received nine credit hours. Remember college? Ever the activist, she went on a hunger strike to protest the government shutdown this fall, although it only consisted of not using real mozzarella on her pizza bagels. Her honors thesis is on the effect of hairstyles on social interaction in developing economies. Charisse has it all figured out. She is teaching us to properly pronounce “summa cum laude.”

As a senior, Cheyenne combines brilliance and discipline with an “act like you’ve been there before” attitude about her most exciting accomplishments. After studying the Theory of Relativity this summer, she decided to attend Stanford University next year, likely on her way to a Nobel in some field of science that we don’t understand. The subject of her application essay on a historical event was a critique of Luke Skywalker’s destruction of the Death Star. She is the MVP of her high school swim team, star of Academic Decathlon, and won 1st place in a state chemistry competition named NaChO. (Surprisingly not an eating competition.) We bask in her glory and hope that she doesn’t try to explain covalent bonds or wormholes to us again. The Force is strong with this one.

Jacob passed his driving test with a score of 84. This gives him the highest score in the house by ten points, parents included. With his license and vehicle he has become a free-range teenager. We are not sure what life will be like next year when he is the only one left in the house, but he is encouraging us to take lots of weekend trips alone. Jacob has become a serious swimmer breaking records and hearts meet after meet. His swim team honored him with the “Charger Pride Award” in the spring making him the first freshman ever to earn this recognition – if you don’t count his sister. If you can overcome the gravitational pull of his laptop, he loves adventure. After spending a week in the summer catching sharks, he spent Christmas SCUBA diving with them.

After retiring from her long career as a taxi driver, Richele changed her occupation to community volunteer (and exercise fanatic.) She got hornswoggled into a seat on the Boerne Education Foundation Board of Directors and quickly learned the oxymoronic definition of legislative leadership. Politics are vicious when the stakes are small. Her new role as grandma Gigi is destined to be a classic. Oh yes, we will remember it well. Richele is also the reluctant primary care giver for our narcoleptic Labrador, Tyson. That job requires almost as much love and understanding as her ongoing struggle to get Billy to finally complete obedience school.

Billy may have gone over the edge. Since the name of his consulting firm is Kalypso, he and his business partner decided to buy their own island. They keep talking about brand support or some other nonsense to justify it. We don’t really care as long as we get to go. You can go, too. Check it out at www.royalbelize.com. Ask for the friends and family rate. In addition to tropical ventures, Billy continues to teach the Housley Principled Leadership course and will be at three universities in the spring. He is active blogging about innovation, supporting a couple of startups, raising money for Stelos Alliance, and serving Texas State on the Development Foundation board. He manages to squeeze in work between frequent trips searching for snow, sun & fun. He remains disobedient.

We moved around as much as ever this year with family trips to Deer Valley, the Inauguration, San Diego, Lake LBJ, Kiawah Island, New Orleans, New York a couple of times, and the Bahamas for Christmas. Richele and Billy left the kids for a week of sailing and diving in Belize, a long weekend in Cabo, a party in Monterrey, and a first time trip to Palm Springs. We also went to Chicago for a taping of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. And then, of course, Billy travels for “work” to places like Saint Martin, Belize, Monterrey, and Cabo San Lucas. Nana and Papa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Houston in July with a sunset cruise.

Home base continues to be the Texas Hill Country where we go for peace and our version of normal. It may not be the Utopia we set out to create, but it is pretty good when we are there. The family is growing while the number at home will shrink further in the year ahead. Who knows what the future holds? You may have to come visit us on the island where we will be spoiling grand kids.

Jens

Getaway2Give

10 Nov

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I admit to being a spoiled traveler.

Especially when it comes to vacations.

After years of cramming our growing family into hotel rooms, we began to rent houses when we traveled with the kids. We quickly learned that the home rental market is full of people that are better photographers than housekeepers. After a couple of memorable debacles, we invested with an equity-based destination club named Equity Estates. We were truly spoiled by the amazing, multi-million dollar homes in the portfolio. The business model is great, but getting in requires a large upfront investment.

When the Equity Estates sold out their first fund, two of the principals I respected launched a new vacation home portfolio named Getaway2Give. I immediately signed on as a member, investor, and charity partner. The G2G model is simple with much lower upfront costs and more variety. You become a member with a one-time fee, half of which goes to the charity of your choice – like, maybe, the Stelos Alliance. You receive a tax deduction for that portion of your membership fee.

After that, you have access to a diverse and rapidly growing portfolio of luxury vacation homes at discounts that range from $800 – $1500 per night. You can use these properties on an unlimited basis. No more cramming into hotel rooms and no more “vacation rental by owner” stress. You know that every aspect of your stay from the planning service to the on-site concierge to the home itself is going to be fantastic. Oh, and the company continues to support your favorite charity by donating 5% of your nightly rental fees to the organization you select.

The business model is even better than I can articulate here. G2G can offer big discounts off market rates by eliminating marketing costs and increasing the utilization of the homes in the portfolio. There are a number of add-on options available like the City Club that gives you free unlimited access to the properties in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Chicago. The portfolio of homes continues to grow with the membership in the collection. We have never been disappointed by a G2G vacation home.

I highly recommend that you look at the Getaway2Give offering. Ask yourself if you and your family would enjoy supporting your favorite charity while making memories and spoiling yourselves in a luxury vacation destination. You will never regret these experiences. Call me if you are interested and I will answer any questions you may have. Aloha!

Housley Stars!

9 Nov

2013 Fall Housley Class

Yesterday we wrapped up our fifth offering of the Housley Principled Leadership Program at Texas State University. The thirty students in the class are outstanding examples of the extraordinary young leaders that the Stelos Alliance was created to support. I am very proud of all of them for the commitment they made to themselves and their classmates. It has been a pleasure watching them mature week to week.

These young people know who they are, what they believe, and what makes them come alive. Their comments about the program validate its objectives. Here is what they said during our closing ceremony:

“Housley gave me the confidence to take risks.”

“Housley forced me to specify my mission in life.”

“Housley helped me define my strengths and grow up.”

“Housley clarified my values and caused me to reevaluate everything.”

“Housley changed my life.”

The program is full of high-talent student leaders that are prepared to make their mark on the world. In our final session we discussed the role of service in leadership and our obligations to each other. The students commented on my essay titled, The Debt.  All I can say is, “Look out world.”

I want to especially recognize the four recipients of the Housley scholarships. They are:

Rachel Wilson
Aleecia Head
Meghan Bates
Christian Carlson

Please join me in congratulating them for this recognition. They really are Stelos Super Stars.

In the spring we will continue to offer Housley at Texas State and are expanding the course to both Trinity and Angelo State Universities. You can read about the Trinity course offering here. Please let me know if you are interested in getting involved.

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