Some of the many reasons I respect Starbucks Corporation.

It’s no secret – I am a big fan of Starbucks. One of my most memorable days last year was probably the moment when I finally got my gold card. Am I kidding? I’m not really sure. But I absolutely love my Starbucks gold card (a perk of being a loyal Starbucks customer where you earn a star with each individual purchase and soon are entitled to numerous freebies throughout the year).

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How to become more of a morning person.

I’ll share more details later, but I will soon embark on the next chapter of life that requires me to be MUCH more of a morning person. And, uh, news flash: I am NOT a morning person. I have to admit, whenever I do get up and move about earlier in the morning, I feel more productive, more healthy, and it definitely feels more natural. But even this blog post, right now, is being written at nearly 2:30 a.m. I find it easier to block out distractions this late at night, and therefore that’s when I can really get my best work done and perform with the most creativity.

One of the many reasons I like to fake like I’m a morning person every once in a while: gorgeous late summer sunrises in your rear view mirrors!


I know my night-owl tendencies are related to being able to more easily block out social distractions this late at night, but it’s still tough for me to resist. I’ve been this way ever since I could decide my own bedtime. So, of course, as an adult not too much has changed.

Anyways, I was perusing my Feedly recently when I came across yet another awesome infographic. This came from an article featured on, one of my favorite spots on the web. Instead of talking about college and the utility a degree as I shared in a former post, this one was talking about how to become more of a morning person. The graphic follows – let me know what you think about it?

morning person

Living “sick.”

“No one should be defined by his or her illness. However, I would be lying if I said that my disorder did not shape who I am. Although my condition is under control, it is something that is always present, that I will have to struggle with. Yes, I am more resilient and thankful for the life I have.”

- Lillie Lainoff

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My 9/11 story.

TLDR — Following are my memories from September 11th, 2001, a day that changed the United States of America, forever.

Do you remember where you were when September 11th happened? I feel like every American does.

I was 11 years, 10 days old. The morning began just like any other. My dad brought me outside to help me onto the school bus. I took the bus to school, and was still excited since it was so early in the school year – we always began after Labor Day. My second period, I believe, of the day was wood shop. That’s when I first realized that my teachers were acting kind of strange.

They were all very hush hush. I didn’t really get the feeling that anything was wrong, aside from the fact that maybe I or one of my classmates was in trouble. Nothing really happened for a while…and most of that afternoon while I was actually at school is a blur. In fact, I firmly remember being excited that I would get to go home early for apparently no reason. You know how jazzed up a little kid gets when they get out of school early.

I had just started middle school, a part of the IBMYP. Quite frankly, one of the biggest things I remember back then is that America truthfully was at the center of my map. Admittedly a bit ignorant but at 11 years old, I hadn’t been particularly exposed to geography outside of the fact that I knew most Americans were from everywhere else and I knew a bit about Plymouth England, where the pilgrims came from on the Mayflower.

America was at the center of my world view from a very young age. I didn't know much about any of the countries that make up the rest of the globe.
America was at the center of my world view from a very young age. I didn’t know much about any of the countries that make up the rest of the globe.

Fast forward 12 hours form that morning of getting on the school bus and being pulled out of school early, like most of my peers, and things were forever changed. But I definitely didn’t realize it. I didn’t realize that many of my peers were especially worried because even though both my parents worked in the D.C. metro area, I knew they were safe – and many of them didn’t. Being in northern Virginia, many of my peers’ parents worked right there in the Pentagon. I mean my own mom USED to, but didn’t anymore.

I spent the rest of the day glued to the television at home watching the news coverage I think with both my siblings and my mom, learning about what had happened that day. So much of what was on TV surrounded the events of the day, damn near 100% of it, I’d say. My dad, a law enforcement official in the District, didn’t get home until much later that night.

I remember thinking, first, that our country was going to go bankrupt because those big World Trade Center towers must have been where all of the country’s money was kept…you know, trade centers…

And If someone had accidentally crashed a plane into these buildings and they collapsed, then they certainly would need a whole heck of a lot of time to re-print all of that money, right?  Not exactly, little Justin.

As naïve as it may have been, 13 years later, I miss that naïveté that comes with being so young, and especially how accepted it is! As I’ve grown up, learned more, experienced more, and seen more (and tried to track down as much unbiased news coverage as an American in the mainstream can vow to) and therefore understand as much as the next adult about the attacks that changed our country forever, I have a much greater experience for the people we live WITH on this globe. While I resist the “America must be the all-doer” perspective from an international standpoint, I am grateful to have tons more knowledge about other countries, their cultures, and how they live.

The lives that we lead, from the effect that it’s had on servicemen and woman and their families, to the effect that it had on the economy, to the effect that it had on everyone’s world view was forever changed. Modern-day terrorism is no joke. And now in 2014, it is still no joke and as present as ever, as it seems like our country may be on the brink of yet another international conflict with ISIS/ISIL, Syria, etc. But this is no public events, politics, or war policy blog, so I’ll end that tangent there.

The best thing that comes from any tragedy like this, in my opinion, is unity. I know for a fact that I love both my own country and have a valued appreciation for the culture and unique factors about other countries as a result of having lived through the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I always think it particularly interesting how other countries have a very different view of what happened on the day of and months following 9/11. Patriotism was at a high here and for our allies, but there certainly were others who thought we had it coming. I feel like, even today, it’s still higher for 9/11 having happened.

I know that it’s the same reason why I was so strongly drawn to a place like Virginia Tech after 4/16 and to Boston after the Boston Marathon bombings, and to Chardon after the shooting at the high school (forgive me for not linking, but if you don’t already know about these events and desire more, a simple independent Google search will do. Thanks for understanding.). The eternal optimist in me is drawn to places that have the strength and resilience to over come adversity.

And as I move forward in life, I hope that I always remember the people who give of themselves in order to allow me to live in the world that I get to live in. That is, without the sacrifice made unknowingly by the passengers on those plans, willingly by servicemen and woman, and the public service of our leaders, we wouldn’t get to live the free lives that we have the blessing of living as Americans in the 21st century.

Also, I’d like to thank many of my good friends over at Elite Daily for this post which encouraged me to think of my own thoughts and feelings from 9/11 on this National Day of Service. #EliteDaily but, also, #UtProsim & #GenerationY

While they may be gone, the memory is still strong.

Chardon, you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

Edited @ 1:37:00 A.M. on 9/12/14: Happy for the victim’s families that the suspect has been re-captured, per Twitter reports and local Cleveland affiliate WKYC-TV.

I simply hope they find him and never let him see the light of day ever again. Justice was served and it needs to remain that way.

I don’t wish to utter his name on the these HESONWHEELS pages but, to provide some context for others, read this local article.

I truly see Chardon, especially their high school, as the home I’ve never been to because of how dedicated their community has been to Actively Caring. I am praying that no more sadness is brought to your community by this kid, now or ever.

One of the most supportive communities of Actively Caring for People, as they were also touched by tragedy following a school shooting about five years about 4.16.07 at Virginia Tech.

The first time I ever heard Enter Sandman.

I wasn’t even a Virginia Tech student yet the first time I heard Enter Sandman. I didn’t listen to rock music growing up, so I discovered this particular Metallica song around the same time that I was indoctrinated to what it meant to be a Virginia Tech Hokie.

This VT pre-game tradition that some people call the “Blacksburg Bounce” (although by some people I really just mean ESPN, who are the same people who have been trying to make “VAH-TECH” happen for years) is synonymous with HOKIES FOOTBALL. Routinely lauded as one of the top entrances in all of college football, seeing this pre-game ritual in-person is really REALLY intense.

Today, I think of Enter Sandman becuase our football team is riding a high after beating the Ohio State Buckeyes.  I can only hope that we won’t overlook EC, but it was actually this game against ECU a few years back when I first heard and saw this Enter Sandman-Blacksburg Bounce combo. Best. Entrance. Ever.

In the video below, it was the Hokies’ first game following the tragedy of 4/16. The next year was my first VT football game (also against ECU, but I was a freshman watching from the residence halls) but it was a neutral site event in Charlotte. In the past, ECU has always played us very, very closely. They are definitely not a team to be overlooked. But let’s just hope our football team can keep their eyes on the price – that is, the game that’s in front of us.