The Lucky Break


Today I take you back to February of 2011.  I was 24 years old, and even though I was a successful District Manager for a Dunkin Donuts Franchise in the suburbs of Rochester, I was enjoying the twenties lifestyle so much, that I had to work two other part-time jobs to support it and that box of a studio apartment that I passed out in.  Once in a while.

I had just found out that I was going to be a father and I hadn’t quite figured out what my next move was.  Like I said, I was working two other part-time jobs.  One being a bar back and cook at a local sports bar,  I was a bit overqualified for that position but I really enjoyed working there and for the couple that owned it.  And the other was a stint on the line at my current full service restaurant company.

I was hired with the company for the first time in late 2004 and though I had transferred and left employment from this company on three separate occasions, I always seemed to wash back on their shores in a moment of need.  Whether it was their need or my need depended on the situation.

Now, when it comes to my career.  I always have seemed to be in the right place at the right time.  “God protects fools and drunks” Anthony Bourdain once said.  And this occasion was no exception


Shortly after returning to life on the line that January, I remember how pissed off I was when I was scheduled against my availability to work the garde manger station on random Sunday afternoon.  That’s just a fancy term used to make a salad preparer sound more important, which these days depending on your restaurants concept can be very important.

Sunday afternoons were not in my availability and I sure as hell hadn’t worked that salad station in years.  Hell, I didn’t have a clue what half the preparations were.   But I showed up for the shift without complaint like the good soldier I was.   And there he was.

The “he” I’m referring to was none other that the Monopoly Man himself, the Regional Director.  He indeed bore a striking resemblance to Rich Uncle Pennybags from the famous board game and today he was going to change my life.

He and I locked eyes immediately.  Did the GM schedule me on this shift on purpose so that I would be here when he was here?  If so…well played sir.  I had worked with this RD before in many different restaurant locations and we had a great history, but I hadn’t seen him since I had left to gain management experience with another company.

And after hearing about what I had been up to lately and my son on the way, he inquired if I would be interested in getting into full service management.

The rest is history.  I few rides east,7795fdea050dd0849fbdf50e7bd76fc8--luck-of-the-irish-irish-luck to Syracuse in the winter for interviews and assessments, my POS Lincoln barely making the journey, and it was a done deal.  I relocated to Syracuse in March for Manager Training and my climb up the corporate ladder had begun.

Just Another Day : Turning 31.

One of the downsides of working in the restaurant industry, as well as many professions, is that if your birthday falls on weekend, You’re working it.  

Same goes for my wife.  Who also works in the restaurant industry and who’s birthday is also today.   

Yes, we share a birthday.  Just separated by 6 years.  

So for us it’s just another day in the neighborhood.   Exchanging a few moments with each other before she heads into work just minutes after I arrive home from my shift.  

There’s perks to sharing a birthday though.   

  • I will never forget her’s.  Trust me.  I’m bad at remembering birthdays
  • I share the spot light.  Too much attention on me makes me uncomfortable.  

I do miss having that special day sometimes, as selfish as that sounds.  When someone else makes all the plans for you and you don’t have to worry about a thing.  

Breaking The Workaholic Cycle

I saw my cousin over the weekend and she told me how much she loved the blog and about her recent efforts to live a more balanced life.  

She has been working 65-70 hours between getting her degree, working full time as a teacher and part time as a restaurant server for so many years. 

She realized that she was “missing out on this thing called life” and recently left her restaurant job to spend more time with her husband and hopes to be blessed with a baby in the future. 

She mentioned how hard is was at first  to break habit of working around the clock.  

The struggle is real Ashley. 

For so many years I worked 60-80 hours a week while life just flew bye.  I don’t even know where my twenties went when I stop to think about it.

 One major theme  of the project is to live a more balanced life.  It’s so hard for me to put down my work at the end of that day and not continuously check logs and emails in a business where I’m always connected.   But so far I think it’s been successful.  

I’ve been working non stop for sure…but working to live a better life and to be a better person. 

Mid Year Review

Today marks the end of month 6 of the happiness project.  We are half way there. 

I spent 4 hours in the car today reflecting on the year so far.  

After all my years in management I can’t help but treat it as a performance review.  Full of things to “start doing, stop doing, and continue doing” to bring more happiness in my life. 


1. Focusing on building relationships \ building a network :  I’ve had a lot of success as a restaurant manager by working hard and focusing on operations but to really grow, I need to build relationships in and out of work.  Being the lone wolf can only get you so far.  

2.  Watch the over eating.  I might be exercising and drinking water but sometimes I used my other efforts as an excuse to gorge myself.  Diminishing my progress.


1.  Stop giving a fuck…about the things that aren’t worth giving too many fucks about.   That’s really for me to decipher.  

2.  Stop worrying.  I spend a lot of worrying about the stresses of life.  “Stop whining, start grinding”. While i feel like I accomplish more than the average person, I can get a lot more done by just putting my head down and doing it.  One day at a time


1.Exercising \ Drinking Water.  17 lbs down , 20 more to go. 

2.  Completing DIY projects / helping around the house.  Lots of learning as I go

3.  Using strong time management and delegation skills at work

4.   Travel.  Whether near or far my greatest happiness comes from exploring. 

I have good days and bad days. But I know Im living a much healthier and balanced life than I was 6 months ago.  Here’s to another 6 months of improvement.  

June Recap

June is winding down as we reach the half way point to the Happiness Project.

I want to do a mid year review, probably tomorrow, but first let’s take a look at June’s successes and opportunities.

Take a Real Vacation

My trip along the east coast was well documented earlier in the month.  Making stops in Rehoboth Beach. Ocean City, Virginia Beach, and finally Richmond Virginia for the Tough Mudder.

It was a great time despite the shitty weather for the first half of the trip.

My favorite parts where taking Liam in the ocean for the first time and my morning runs along the boardwalk.

Cut People Slack

Friend doesn’t return your text in a timely manner?  Employee showing up late because they are having a tough time at home?  Guest misread the coupon and didn’t meet the purchase requirement?

Cut them some slack.  But we weary of those trying to take advantage of you.

Get Life Insurance

Kind of a big nagging task.  I signed my first personal life insurance policy that goes along with the policy that my work provides.   I sleep better knowing my family would be taking care of if anything happened.

Say Hello,  Use Good Manners

For someone who has to be reminded of proper social behavior constantly from his wife, this one took alit of practice.  But after alot of mental rehearsal I can be seen saying “good morning,” to runners and walkers in the morning and when I pull up to the coffee drive through and the girl says “hi, how are you” I don’t respond “fine…”.


Ask for help / Use Resources

Used my corporate contacts to purchase some new equipment for the restaurant as well as place some help wanted ads to grab some new employees. 
Find an area of refuge

I set up my office to where I can escape for a few minutes while the kids terrorize each other.

Nice warm nights I sit out on the deck.

And in the mornings I take long jogs.

Take time for mini-adventures / Day Trips

Looking through my blog the last couple months, there hasn’t been many days that I haven’t gone somewhere to explore.   But I tried to take the extra time to do a little mini-adventuring such as my trip to Otisco Lake and Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca.

 Wear the “dream” mask

I have been wearing the Lucid Dream Mask for most of the month and while I have not yet acheived Lucid dreaming, my dream recall as well as the details of those dreams have increases significantly.  Gonna keep trying.



A good day to tackle nagging tasks.  

With a day off, but frequent rain showers in the forecast I decided it was a good day to knock out some things I’ve been procrastinating on.  

I did however start the day with a relaxing walk in Fayetteville. 

I went to the doctor to get checked out.  Don’t worry, I’m fine and I’m sorry to be ambiguous, but I will talk about it when the time is right.  

Look at those calf muscles though.

Got my car to get inspected and had a few repairs made.  Love those Nissans.  4 years and it’s barely given me a problem dispite  being close to 150,000 miles on it.  

Park break. 

Spent the afternoon, between thunderstorms, playing with my new power washer.  Giving my gutters, siding, and deck relief from the green grime that forms on houses.    My gutters literally had plants growing in them.  

Came to a sad realization today….

Lucas is too tall to play in the kids area at at mall.  😅

I’m hoping the weather with cooperate tomorrow so we can go somewhere in the afternoon.  

One final note.  Please pray for my grandma Barb.  She is in the hospital.

What If You Could Control Your Dreams?

Here is where I might lose some of you.  

Long before marriage, children, career, and home ownership.  I used to have hobbies and interests.  I know right?

And one interest can be considered a little weird.  

I was fascinated in the subconscious mind;  Lucid Dreaming,  Astral Projection, and O.B.E.  (out of body experience)


Lucid dreaming is the ability to become aware that you are in a dream while dreaming.  If you are good enough at is you can manipulate your dreams.  

Astral Projection and O.B.E.  was essentially the same thing.  The act of separating ones mind/consciousness from your body to explore other realms.   We will take that down the road 

Still with me?   OK.

This month I start working on my goal of achieving Lucid Dreaming.   It can take some time so I wanted to work on making the process a habit.  I know that result can take longer to accomplish.

So one resolution is wear my sleep mask.  I purchased a sleep mask last year called the “Remee – REM enhancing eye-mask”  (REM stands for rapid eye movement.  Which is the part of sleep cycle where dreaming occurs)]

The Remee is basically a blindfold with a few circuits inside.  Under the blindfold it “emits light patterns that can appear as visual amonalities in your dreams to trigger lucidity”.    That means that if you see these patterns in your dreams it should help you realize that your dreaming.  


Imagine if you could control your own dreams.  What would you do?  Where would you go.  

It kind of like being the “One” of your own “Matrix”  When Morpheus says to Neo, ” When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit”  

Would you fly away?  Would you swim under water?  Would you practice tennis ?  As one lucid dreamer reported doing.


So  far his month I have practiced wearing the mask over night.  It takes a little getting used to.  Now that I am used to wearing it.  I will work on my ‘Dream Recall”.  Step one is to keep a dream journal as soon as I wake up  

I will keep you posted on my progress