Friday, May 10, 2013

Life Updates

So, this past winter Lia and I decided that I would apply to Owen Graduate School of Business at Vanderbilt University to see if we could accelerate our life plan by a year.

They said "Yes!"
I said "Wow!"
They said "When will you accept?"
I said "How about right now?"
They said "Good, cus we can't wait!"
Then I asked them for some merit aid...
And they said "Yes!"

I'm officially going to be a Double Dore (trust me, it's a thing.)  Considering that leaving Nashville was not an option in my book, it is an incredible blessing that it all worked out.  If they had rejected me or not come through with a scholarship, the plan was to eliminate the MBA from my life plan and move forward accordingly.  Instead, the business nerd in me could not be more excited to spend 22 months learning how to be awesome at everything. 

Going back to school will also give me another chance to figure out what I want to do with my life.  My problem is not that I don't have any ideas, but rather than I have a plethora of ideas and can't decide between them.  I have the standard real estate mogul and king of the world occupations showing some strong competition, but I wouldn't count out the Doodle breeder or stay-at-home dad options quite yet.

Whatever path the Lord sends me down in 2 years, I could not be more excited to begin my temporary retirement this fall.  Less travel, less work, less hopeless clients…  more wife time, more doodle, more hunting, more intramural sports, more Thursday night kegs, more Fridays off.  

Yes.... in fact, winning does feel great.  Go Dores.

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Best Friend Got Married and The Doodle Loves Spring!

Since Sean has been carrying this blog for quite awhile now I figure it is time for me to get involved again! So here goes nothing...

Since moving to Nashville a little over a year ago from Sunny South Florida I have gained a new appreciation for seasons. South Florida has two seasons...warm and beautiful in the winter and monsoons and hot in the summer. You don't get excited about the seasons down there...they just kind of happen. So after a longish winter this year in Nashville with a few (mild) snow days I have been anticipating Spring!

This past Friday I had the day off and it was absolutely beautiful outside and I found myself so stinking excited about it. My best girl Pippa and I set out on a walk. We had no destination in mind, no distance we were trying to cover, no tasks we were aiming to complete...just a leisurely jaunt through our hood. We had the best time! We met tons of doggie friends (doodles included), Pippa let a number of toddlers pet her and pull her tail and as usual we answered many people's questions about Pippa (she gets a lot of attention and loves every second of it). On our way home we stopped at the pet store and she got some water and some local organic treats (she is rotten!).

We found ourselves in Sevier park and just sat and enjoyed the sunshine. 
 Taking in the sights...
Watching a little boy and his dad throw a ball (I wouldn't let her chase it).

Terrible picture but I found it amusing that she sat with me on our front porch swing for 15 minutes after we got back. Who says she isn't a child?

 Worn out from our long walk!

I hope that our family will always appreciate each season and get outside to enjoy them! 
As Sean mentioned a few posts ago we were in Texas for Meghan and Nick's wedding wedding in mid March. They really know how to plan/put on a wedding! It was the best. I don't think my blog post will be able to give it justice at all so I'll just point everyone to the photographer's blog when she blogs about their wedding. I'll just post a few pictures that I had on my phone. 

Before we went to the Hill Country for the actual wedding I was at Meghan's house in Houston hanging out/bachelorette party/snuggling my niece Willow!

The wedding venue was INSANE! I literally felt like we were inside a pinterest pin. It was picturesque with the blue bonnets in full bloom, awesome decorations throughout the whole ranch, lights and chandeliers hanging from the trees etc. I can't wait to see all of the pictures! 

It definitely had a Texas, rustic theme...look at this huge bowl of antlers. Pippa's eyes would have been bugging out of her head if she had been there. 

We joke that Meghan and I are soul mates (I even mentioned in my MOH speech) but I'm pretty sure Meghan gets me more than anyone in this world. We both are insanely awkward, clumsy and spastic. We both love dogs and babies more than is probably healthy and we both drive our husbands insane (in the most endearing way possible). I was so honored to be a part of this wedding and it made my heart SO happy to stand next to Meghan while she and Nick committed themselves to each other forever.
Meghan (isn't she absolutely gorgeous??) and I before we got dressed. She got all of the bridesmaids and her mom & MIL these beautiful robes. I love them!

So that is my very brief recap of the Texas Wedding! I'll try and stop in more frequently to blog about the insanely exciting aspects of my life like walks with Pippa (HA!). 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Lukewarm Dilemma

Warning - this post is serious and not funny at all.  Our community group has been reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love and it got me to thinking... a lot... and we all know how dangerous that can be.  It is the most I have actually thought about something in a while so I thought I would write out some of my conclusions/thoughts for my own sake in the future and possibly for other's benefit.

Here is what stumped me and got me going:  pretty much every Christian I know is what would be considered by Chan's book to be "lukewarm."  The bad news is that being lukewarm is the worst possible thing you can be.  The worse news is that not being lukewarm is exceedingly difficult given our current culture.  It raised this question: In 21st century America where essentially everybody is filthy rich on a global scale, is anyone actually able to conquer the materialism and selfishness to the point of truly giving it all to God?  Is our faith really authentic or are we emotional Christians who may not actually be saved? Ahhhh!  Big questions!!!

My genuine fear is that I am not willing to give up all of my possessions for my faith.  Sure, if I don't really think about it much I can happily say in front of others that everything I have is for Him.  When it gets down to brass tacks though, I'm still not absolutely sure whether I would give up my lovely wife, snugly doodle or comfortable lifestyle to answer a call.  I'm worried that my materialistic lifestyle will forever prevent me from moving out of the lukewarm classification.  I worry that as long as I have a nice house, reliable car and eat good food I will forever be putting things before God.  I also wonder whether a lukewarm Christian is actually saved since they are not bearing any fruit.. a question for another day.

The first solution that popped into my head was to sell absolutely everything, give it all away and then live in a tent and spend all of my efforts and time focusing on God.  This was honestly a non-starter for me, since I really do love almost everything about my current life.  This answer appeared to be straight forward though; give up the idea of money and material possessions and become a modern day hippie minus the promiscuity, drugs, goofy vans and meaningless protests.  That way everything I had could be devoted to God... but then I realized, I wouldn't be doing the world any favors by singing in the woods all the time.  I would also be required to devote some time and energy to providing food and shelter for myself...

Which then got me thinking.  Back in the olden days, that was the way that people lived.  They essentially lived in the middle of the woods, and most of their time and energy was devoted to planting crops, herding animals and building shelter.  Excess was very clear.  You couldn't store food forever, so whatever you weren't going to eat should be given to the poor.  If someone wondered onto your land in need of shelter, you shared your home or stables with them.  Needs were cut and dry, as was surplus.

The major breakthrough I had was that this was just a very simplistic economic model.  You essentially were an isolated micro-economy.  You produced all of your own goods, therefore money was not necessary.  In modern terms, I spend my time consulting CFO's on pharmaceutical billing strategies for money, and in return pay a farmer for food and contractors for shelter.  This allows us to specialize our skills and generate value far more efficiently.  This efficiency in production is in-and-of-itself a good thing.  The problem is that money is a lot easier to store up (read: hoard) and starts to become the end itself.  I think the former model still applies though:  use money to purchase the things you need without being gluttonous or prideful in those purchases, and then give the rest away or put it towards His Kingdom in some way.

My new mentality is that just like the Lord would grant people large harvests so that they could share their bounty, he is today granting pretty much everyone in America incredible resources with which they can share with others.  The key is that we have to know our means and live within them.  I sometimes get on the treadmill of "Can someone justify buying a million dollar house? Well, what about a half a million dollar house?  Well, what if it is only $200k?"  In reality, these are all such enormous sums of money on a global scale that it is just silly to think about it.  What right does someone who spent $100k on a house have to judge someone who spent $1 mil on a house?  Are we sure that according to God's table of appropriate home values, the correct value for your zip code in 2013 is $100k?  Also, why do you need a $100k house when there are $50k homes available?  This logic will make you crazy and I don't think its a productive debate within the church.

The key to this decision is more so that you have to justify everything you do to God when he returns or calls you home.  If you have the resources and can justify spending a million on a home, then go for it, I personally won't judge you one bit.  Solomon and David lived in magnificent palaces and God didn't seem to mind.  In fact, I believe those can legitimately be considered blessings from God.  Keep in mind how much was asked of these men, though.  They were not allowed to just sit on their wealth, but they had to rule an entire people through good times and bad.  

I think the idea is that we should all be seeking God in our decision making and living well within our means so that there is a great excess to help others with.  You also have to look at your heart attitude through all of this.  What is your motivation in purchasing that house?  Once again, it is impossible for a man to judge another man's heart, but God most certainly will in the end.  Be very, very, very, very aware of how pride and greed can play into these decisions, and seek to battle those vices in every way possible.

Through all of this, I have come to the conclusion that you can have extensive possessions and be a committed Christ follower, but you must always realize that those possessions are gifts from Him and you should look to God for how to allocate the gifts you are given.  If he gives you much, just understand that there is a good chance that much will be required from you.  Also, an initial thought that did not change through all of this is that I don't think the willingness to give it all up is negotiable.  If you truly believe that everything came from Him to begin with and everything belongs to Him, then you are just a steward of those resources and have no right to withhold anything from Him anyway.  This is something that I think needs to be a part of every Christian's prayers, because I know that I personally can't easily cut ties with my materialistic and possessive ways, but I also know that grace can overcome those flaws so long as I truly believe that they are flaws and I repent of them and seek to battle them in my daily life.  That's a heck of a lot tougher than it sounds though.

Anyway, sorry to bore you all but I had really been struggling with all of this recently and wanted to write it all out to help think it through.  I hope that this is a reminder for me for years to come that everything I have, great or small, comes from Him and belongs to Him and therefore he should be consulted and considered first in its use.  I believe that is the only way to conquer our materialistic culture and get past one of the biggest causes of lukewarm Christians.  On the bright side, there is definitely hope... and it still involves indoor plumbing and air conditioning!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Special People, Special Place

Special People in a Special Place

This weekend I had the pleasure of flying down to the Lone Star State to attend Lia’s best friend’s wedding… Congrats to Meghan and Nick!  Lia and I have both come to terms with the fact that Meghan is actually Lia’s soul mate, so she was down in Tejas all week doing Matron-of-Honor stuff (that title makes her sound old, doesn’t it?)  The wedding took place on a ranch about an hour of so outside of Austin, and it was pretty spectacular.  We had incredible weather, the venue was awesome and everyone was in a jolly ole mood. 

Here is a picture with Lia's parents from the wedding..  I’ll let Lia post more about the wedding if she wants, since that is more her specialty.
What I really want to focus on is the fact that I have finally found a city that can legitimately rival Nashville for awesomeness.  For the last few years I have been flying all over the country and critiquing each city I stay in.  I typically find some nice attributes of each city, but then there are a number of glaring issues that just ruin everything.  Austin may very well have some issues that I am unaware of, but the number of positive attributes is just insane. 

#1 The Parks

Austin has multiple pristine lakes, some absolutely beautiful parks and some really cool greenways.. all right in the middle of the city.  They make incredible use of their water features by surrounding Town Lake on one side with Downtown and numerous picturesque parks on the other shore.  This creates beautiful views when you are Downtown looking across the water, and also beautiful cityscapes while you are in the parks. 

There are also tons of parks, and all of them are well manicured and very accessible… they were also quite full considering it was during business hours on a Monday and it was 40 degrees out.  Austin has that Nashville “does anyone here actually work?” vibe going for it as well.  Nashville could learn a lesson or two when looking at the far side of the Cumberland.

#2 Soooo Dog Friendly

The wedding photographer mentioned that Austin is the most friendly dog city in the country, and I completely believe it.  There is an island that is dedicated to dogs.  No, I’m not kidding.  It has some fields, a bunch of running trails, some woods trails, and tons of ponds and creeks for the dogs to play in.  There were also lots of dogs running around in the normal parks, and they even have a running path along Town Lake that is leash-free and has plenty of spots for the dogs to jump in the water.  I have never seen so many happy dogs in my life.  Nashville should be ashamed at how much our dog parks suck comparatively. 

#3 Downtown

The Downtown is really nice.. it has 6th street for the drunks, the state capitol for the liars, tons of live music for the blind , and it is all very walkable for those without a driver’s license.  It is one of the coolest state capitols I have ever been to, and it was PACKED with people.  I didn't believe how many people were reading the monument placards, having picnics on the green or sitting and reading by a fountain.  University of Texas is also right near downtown, which contributes to a younger hipper vibe.  I didn't really pay much attention to the mass transit because it was easy enough to park for free everywhere we wanted to go and most of the downtown area is walkable.

#4 Geography

Austin is also blessed with great topography.  The rolling hills and "Mt" Bonnell create some incredible vistas and provide some really neat locations where people have built some beautiful houses.  There is also plenty of water that the folks in the city use on a regular basis, including recreational Lake Travis nearby.  Austin is also pretty far south, so as long as you are friends with the sun, the weather is pretty decent most of the year.  I would say that being located in Texas was a huge plus too, but unfortunately Texas is full of Texans.

#5 Of Course, the Food

As most of you know, I like to eat.  Lia and I were only in Austin for two days, but that was plenty of time to convince us that they excelled at making people very happy and very large.   We enjoyed some ridiculous donuts at Gordoughs (very reminiscent of Voodoo in Portland) and later had some amazing Mexican food at Habanero's in the South Congress area.  There is a huge food truck culture, and everything we tasted was reasonably priced and very good.  I'm excited to go back and try more restaurants out.

That's all I've got for now, but I'll leave you with this: If you love Nashville, you will definitely enjoy a trip to Austin.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Surviving the Frozen Tundra

So one of the only 4 disadvantages of living in Nashville is the snow.  Not the fact that it snows, but really the insanity that ensues when a little white powder hits the ground.  Not only does the city shut down, but the seedier elements of the Davidson family are brought to light...


 While most people simply hide in their basements when extreme weather like an inch of snow comes through, other evil Nashvillians decide to take to the streets... and it isn't pretty.  Tornadoes are substantially less destructive than a Nashville driver out on snowy streets.  Still other Nashvillians see it as an opportunity...

Above we see what appears to be a little lady having some trouble adjusting to the snow.  She was not a big fan of getting her little footsies wet, or at least that is what she wanted me to think.

The skepticism regarding the cold white stuff on the ground is clear on the doodle's face.  Lucky for her, snow never lasts more than a day or two on the ground here.  If you look more closely, however, you can see the deception on her face.  What doodle hates the cold?  Half of her body mass is snugly fur that makes her hot and bothered all spring/summer/fall.  She is pretending to hate the cold because she wants to hide the fact that she is plotting something.. something quite sinister.

 I'm not sure how this plays into her plan, but being super snugly while distracting me from my work may be part of her plan to destroy my earning potential and weaken my position as the head of the household.  As Lia regularly reminds me, her comfort is the most important thing in the world, so I tolerate the intrusiveness, but I'm living on high alert now...

She also seems to think that just because I travel a bunch, that means that I have forfeited my right to my side of the bed.  Although she may sleep there more often than I do, she needs to remember that she more closely resembles a blanket than a person sleeping under one. I have seen no clearer sign that she is trying to replace me as the head of the Davidson home.

I was warned that winter was coming... and we all know that winter is Pippa's strong season.  Despite the warning, I could have never prepared for the aggressiveness with which the doodle has staged her coup.  Snow may look pretty and clean as it falls to the ground, but it is only a temporary distraction from the civil war that is raging inside the Davidson home.  

The doodle and I are at war, and only one of us can come out on the other side of this conflict as the one that Lia loves the most.  I'll admit the cards are stacked against me, but Pippa has never fought an enemy like me before.  I did not start this war.. but I plan on ending it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kangaroos are Slow

Most people who know us know that we love animals more than people, especially when the animals are snugly.  It is no surprise then that we chose to participate in the Zoo Run Run, a 5k put on by the Nashville Zoo.

Here is Lia and myself posing with Twigga the Giraffe.  You can tell it is before the race, because I am still standing.

We all know that Lia secretly aspires to become a donkey one day, but since a donkey was not available to play with, Lia decided to become friends with a miniature horse instead.  Also, look carefully at this picture and see how many zebra print items of clothing you can find. It is only a tad bit disturbing.

The Champ is here!  Champ is the mascot for Monroe Carrell Jr. Childrens Hospital at Vanderbilt.  Go Dores!

The run was exceptionally fun, especially considering that running is really just socially acceptable torture.  They had free food, juice and beer after the race and we got a ton of sweet swag such as band aids, small towels and t-shirts.  The actual race went right through the middle of the zoo, so we got to hop next to kangaroos, wave back at elephants, growl at tigers and the adults even got to peek behind the bamboo at the breeding area for giant ant eaters (just kidding.. they wouldn't let me.)

This was an exciting day for me for a couple reasons.  The first is that I've never run an organized race before.  For most of my life I haven't felt the need to work really hard to end up where I started. Now that Lia has suddenly become a super hardcore runner, I've felt the need to show my acceptance of her condition by getting my toes wet with an easy race.  I believe my husbandly obligations have been met in full, so I have permanently returned to the couch.

The second and probably more significant reason that Saturday was such a big day for me is because with the completion of that 5k, I accomplished my final short term goal.  I set a ton of goals for myself to measure my progress towards being awesome, and running a 5k in 30 minutes was my last remaining item before I rolled on to stage 2 of Plan Perfect.

In the interest of full disclosure, I technically ran it in 31:14, but that doesn't account for the rotation of the earth and the fact that we had to run by super awesome animal exhibits, which was actually really distracting.  I kid you not, Lia would point and yell whenever we ran by something cool.  The adults were annoyed by her antics, but the children and myself appreciated the heads up.  I would have run right by the lynx if it wasn't for her yelling and pointing... and if I missed the lynx, why even go?

So I am going to go ahead and count this run as a win.. so I've run a 5k in a moderately competitive time for a non-runner, I've created my own company and brought it to profitability, and I've gotten a good score on the GMAT (standardized test for business school.)  Now I am on to my next three goals, which are getting a Masters in Business Administration, buying a house (for us, not another investment property), and finally being skinny enough to look like I belong next to my super hot wife.  It'll be a few years before any of those are possible.

Now I know at least half of you are asking... WHAT ABOUT THE DOODLE?  The answer there is that the doodle is not a goal, but rather a tool that the Lord has provided us to keep up our cheer and good spirits as we work hard to build a better life.  As long as we have Pippa, adversity does not stand a chance.

Now that I've got a rhythm going with these posts, I'm going to start reaching back in time to provide some updates on the past.  I think next week I'll cover Christmas with my family.  Here is a teaser pic to show you why you don't wanna miss it...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Misguided Efforts

So I can't seem to look anywhere in the news these days without seeing something relating to gun control.  I realize that the knee jerk reaction of Sandy Hook is to try to "do something," but it is beginning to look like that "something" might be a very misguided and dangerous elimination of our rights.  Most of you know where I stand on guns - I'm for 'em - but I also want to make sure you understand why.  I've decided to just lay out all of my thoughts that have led me to my conclusion.

Owning guns is a right guaranteed us by the Second Amendment, not to hunt, not to shoot recreationally, not to protect our families from bad people, but to give us as individuals the power and ability to withstand and fight against tyranny.  Americans who cannot imagine a revolution tend to be incredibly arrogant and poor students of history.  The human experience is defined by those in power becoming increasingly more corrupt until they are straight up mean and nasty to those under their authority, and then big wars break out which reset the game and you start again with a new soon-to-be-corrupted authority figure taking power.

That being said, in order to give consent and therefore power to this Republic, we must also be able to withdraw consent.  In order to maintain a credible threat of withdrawing consent, the American people must maintain the ability to stand up for themselves as an individual and a collective unit, and the right to bear arms is essential to maintaining that capability.

While I will admit that America is making a good run of things over the past 150 years (time since the last revolution,) it is foolish to think that "things are different now" than they have been for the past thousands of years.  Go talk to someone who lost their shirt investing in the tech bubble about how stupid a statement that is.  Things can fall apart quickly, and don't give up your rights easily today out of a perception that they are no longer necessary.  Men fought and died for those rights for a reason.. and probably a dang good one.

Something that I keep seeing people do is mixing mass shootings in with your everyday gangland gun crime.  In my mind, these are two completely different issues.  Gun crime on the streets cannot be further regulated, it can only be better enforced.  It is already illegal for felons to own guns, and it is also illegal to shoot other people because you don't like them.  That doesn't stop the crime, seeing as criminals are defined by their lack of adherence to the laws.  The proposed solution is to further regulate the law abiding citizens in hopes that one day... what?  There are so many guns out there, and guns have no discernible shelf life if maintained properly, so the idea of drying up the supply is just pretty foolish and would require legal residents to run out of guns literally centuries before the bad guys do.

Fixing gun crime through regulating law abiding citizens is a non-starter.  Look at Chicago for example.  Incredibly tough gun laws seem to be working out great for them.

As for mass killings, those are so much more complex and troubling than merely someone getting a hold of a gun.  These are mental health tragedies that happen all over the world and manifest themselves in so many different ways.  From mass stabbings in China to suicide bombers in the Middle East, when people want to hurt others, they find a way.  There needs to be much more of a focus on helping those who have those twisted thoughts and feelings, rather than simply trying to make guns, explosives and knives not exist anymore.

As terrible as these shootings have been, they are individual and isolated incidents within a country that is almost the size of Europe.  With a population of more than 300 million, there are always going to be exceptions.  It is tragic when there is an exception that harms a lot of innocent people, but you need to be very careful when you use a sample size of 4 or 5 people to develop policy that will impact hundreds of millions of law abiding citizens. 

I know that correcting our culture to be more inclusive and supportive of everyone is a much more difficult task, but really that is how you are going to stop angry, lonely people from ever reaching the point of lashing out.  Hopefully we don't use gun control as a pat on the back or check box so that we can feel like we've done a good and noble thing before we go back to living our self absorbed lives and pretending the real problems in this country don't exist.

The next thing I want to hit on is all the talk I hear about "Assault Weapons."  This is when people show how little they know about the guns they are trying to regulate.  So what makes an Assault Weapon more dangerous than a hunting weapon?  Is it the fact that it is black?  Is it because it has an adjustable stock?  Made of synthetic materials that are more corrosion resistant? Maybe it is the pistol grip?  Anyway, fully-automatic military style weapons are already illegal.  What is available on the civilian market is a basic semi-automatic rifle that is unlucky enough to look cool/menacing, depending on whether or not you like action movies  Those scary looking guns are identical in all functional measures to all of the non-scary looking ones.  They fire one good old fashion bullet each time you pull the trigger.

When we begin regulating purely based on cosmetics, a Pandora's box is opened legislatively that could very easily lead to a greater and greater restriction of our freedoms.  When something as arbitrary as adjustable stocks is used as a criteria to ban weapons, it opens the door for more and more types of weapons to be banned based on any little feature that is deemed too militaristic, such as having a barrel or a trigger... since military weapons all seem to have those too.

The single most terrifying part of the current bill is requiring legal gun owners to register their weapons, and I'll tell you why.  Before the government can take away all the guns, they need to find them.  No criminal is going to register their guns, so please tell me what purpose this will serve from a crime prevention perspective?  It may also seem far fetched now, but things change quickly.  Look at the world we lived in 60 years ago, and tell me that you could not imagine a gun confiscation within the next 60?  Forcing registration completely eliminates the purpose of the 2nd Amendment as described above.  It would also serve to make criminals out of a huge population of otherwise law abiding citizens, as I can promise you that entire states would refuse to comply with that kind of totalitarian ploy.

Strangely enough, I actually did not have any problem with Obama's executive actions.  I think some of them were actually great and will help, and I don't feel like my 2nd Amendment rights were violated at all.  Feinstein, however, is terrifying.  The law she is proposing would be the end of gun rights as we know them for law abiding citizens, and would not do a single thing to curb gun crime in this country.

I'll leave you with a few thoughts, with my hope being that we will think this through and not let emotion guide policy that impacts hundreds of millions of people and generations to come.

- Criminals will continue to not obey gun laws, regardless of how many more we add to the already very long list.  It would only penalize lawful citizens.
- "Assault Weapons" are no more lethal or dangerous than any other semi-automatic gun
- The 2nd Amendment is there to protect your ability to defend this great nation from any threats, regardless of where those threats originate.  Side-by-side shotguns aren't that great for this purpose.
- Murder rates are on a significant decline in the US, in both real and relative terms (except for Chi-town, of course)
- Read some international news outlets for a few days.  Guns are not the only way to carry out violent acts of terror or insanity.