Life-changing: Firefly 2015.

“And in this particular case of crowd surfing, it also would not have been possible if not for the AMAZING strangers in the rows in front of us, willing to throw their bodies into support into allowing a man to cross something that had been on his bucket list, and thought may never come off of it.”

Going to a music festival is basically like being part of a little magical village community that is harmonious (literally) but only exists for a few days. You come with high expectations of great music, great people, (when I go to Firefly I’m excited for great food), and you’re usually going with your friends or family – which makes the idea of being part of a “team” to have this experience that much better.

Even having known all of that before going to Firefly, if you would have told me that I’d end up at an epic rock concert in The Woodlands, crowd-surfing to the music of an epic band known as Matt and Kim, surrounded by thousands of amazing people – I probably would have told you … uh, probably/definitely not. Absolutely not.

But that’s exactly what happened.
Here’s the story.

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2,922 days ago.

What were you doing 2,922 days ago? Just to give you a hint…that was 8 (yes, EIGHT) full years ago.

For me, I remember waking up so early on that particular day. I was a young teenager, who woke up nice and early, eager to head to his first big-boy job…

DHS Seal

It was the first day of my internship with the Department of Homeland Security. I was a GS-01 … definitely started from the bottom. I don’t even remember what my actual  job title was. I was, honestly, just eager for that paycheck. I wanted a summer job and I definitely wasn’t planning on flipping burgers or working at Blockbuster (yes, that was still a thing back in 2007. No Netflix, yet). But I was open to “making some copies and some coffees,” as I like to describe it.

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Pops 2 is open!

Earlier this season I wrote a restaurant review about one of my new favorite spots in DC: Pleasant Pops.

I’m very happy to share that their new location is now open! It’s just around the corner from the McPherson Square Metro stop – so it’s nice to have  Pleasant Pops on my way to work for my morning commute or, hey, maybe even on the way home!

You can check out some of their coverage here and here.

If you check them out, please be sure to let me know what you think!

Firefly 2015 Hiatus.

Good afternoon, friends! Just an FYI: HESONWHEELS will be on hiatus until early next week.

Why might you ask? Well many things. Let’s start with the two that I’m most excited about!

Tomorrow morning, I am so PUMPED to deliver the keynote address to the Class of 2015 at Woodgrove High School. I will most certainly be waking up early for THAT (I’ve got to be there by 6:30 and it’s an hour away!).

Then, after some mingling, tomorrow afternoon, I am STOKED to also be delivering the keynote address to the Class of 2015 at JEB Stuart High School. It will be a marathon, that’s for sure…

And when I am done there, I will come home, change, and then head…to Dover, Delaware for Firefly 2015. It will be quite a day.

Firefly Music Festival labels itself as the premiere music experience on the east coast. Firefly 2014 was my very first music festival – which is something that had always been on my bucket list. They are log days, you’re sweaty, you’re tired, you’re hot…but my goodness, is it worth it. The people are amazing, the music is even better, and especially when you are camping – you just chalk it all up to just being part of the EXPERIENCE. Firefly does great in way of variety and I thought the shows last year were some of the best I have ever (and honestly, probably will see) seen in my life.

I also have a personal rule of disconnecting a little bit while I’m at the festival. I did that last year, just after I moved away from Blacksburg, and it was one of the most impactful experiences I’ve ever had.

So, here’s to Firefly round 2 and maybe even crossing some more things off the ol’ bucket list!

See you next week, friends!

So many great bands, and only 4 days! Let’s do this!

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies.

You know, meeting 1 new person everyday can either be a great thing or … It can be a not so great thing. My new person today definitely fit the underwhelming mold of “not so great.” One of the most useful quotes that I’ve believed in on this journey called life is “it’s not always rainbows and butterflies,” hence the title of this post. That’s the story that I’ll share today (I wrote this yesterday on the way home via Metro, but didn’t post it until today, just FYI).

I was taking my usual commute on the way home (so many blog posts involve Metro nowadays, it seems) and taking one of the many elevators I use throughout the system to get to one of the many trains I take. As I approached the elevator, there were two women standing there with a large suitcase, each, as they waited for the elevator to come up to the platform, and deliver us to the lower platform.

At the same moment there was another man, also a wheelchair user, approaching the elevator. Once they glanced behind themselves, and saw us approaching, they graciously moved aside. After all, Metro does frequently encourage elevator users to allow seniors and people with disabilities to board prior to any other population.

So, seeing as my train was four minutes down the tracks, I decided to go ahead and board the elevator first, since they invited me to do so. I do my customary “hug into the corner”, parking my wheelchair at a 90• angle so that we could fit as many of us on the elevator as possible. The other, older gentleman with his wheelchair board the elevator second, and he immediately cuts a right turn as he enters the elevator. Had he continued straight, we would have at least been able to make an attempt at fitting the other two patrons. I look at the gentleman and say “sir, if you come up this way we could try and fit them on the elevator, too.”

This is an almost identical elevator layout. Instead of coming alongside me, to my right, he stayed in front of me, and turned to my left, blocking the opportunity for any other patrons to enter the elevator.

He looks at me plainly.

“You really think I’m worried about them? I’m just trying to make sure that I get on. And it’s not like they would worry about me.”

I reply, pretty dryly …

“Well, obviously they did worry about us. They moved aside so we could board first…”

“Really, you think so?”

“I know so. I mean, based on their behavior…”

That was essentially the end of our conversation. Actually, I might have said something else but I really was more in my own head than anything else. I was shocked. As I write this blog post on my iPhone on the Metro, I’m still shocked. But, I guess I shouldn’t really be?

It surprises me that someone who was blatantly and obviously just cared for – the women cordially let us board first – didn’t see it. What kind of mindset do you have that you can’t see it when it is right in front of you? No, it’s not like they gave us a hug and a kiss or anything, it wasn’t some wildly overt form of caring, but still – what mindset must you have to be so insular and, in my opinion, selfish? :/

I’m not here to pass judgment on this man, but even though he was and is a stranger to me, I’m a bit disappointed. The new people I encounter on a daily basis are usually nicer, open to conversation, and atleast willing to make small talk.

Today…well, today was not one of those days. Like I said, it is not always rainbows and butterflies. I don’t think that using a wheelchair or having a disability gives any person the right to immediately be selfish or not be considerate of others. That’s what I felt this man was doing…and I can only hope that our mini-conversation will encourage him to maybe, hopefully, be a bit more considerate the next time he’s boarding an elevator. Hopefully.

WMATA + Caring.

This post is a long-form post that is a story about two people I met last night, “Ms. David” and “Michael,” and both are employees of WMATA, DC’s mass transit system. While it is long, if you do happen to read the entire post, you will find stories of customer service, community service, and … people who just really, really care. I hope it leaves you inspired to take be present and take the time to interact with and help those around you, no matter the circumstance.

For both Ms. David AND Michael, if this story is not going above and beyond the call of duty for another human being in the name of caring and compassion, I don’t know what is. In a situation that otherwise could have been extremely frustrating and inconvenient, these two complete strangers, for a few moments, completely ignored my disability in order to make sure that I got where I needed to go. Especially with strangers, that doesn’t always happen to me. It just makes me hold onto the fact that there are still great, amazing, service-minded, others-centered folks out there in the world. You just have to give yourself the opportunities to meet them.

Thanks for reading!

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The kids just give me the feels.

I’m lucky to routinely be surrounded by professional educators, especially K-12 educators, on a very regular basis. The patience, passion, and dedication that a great educator at any level must have for their students is awe-inspiring. Quite frankly, I sometimes don’t believe that I have one of those qualities…it’s the one I deem most important: patience! If a parent ever came and yelled at me because of THEIR student performing poorly – I think I would lose it. It’s for reasons like these that I, also, should never work in customer service and strongly prefer higher education (students who are older, more independent, and hopefully have more advocacy than a teenager or pre-teen might) to K-12.

BUT, in all seriousness and much more importantly…

In either arena, in any service-based profession, and especially in education…the amount of reward and pride that you feel once your customer or student or whomever is satisfied, smarter, or whatever … that’s what you work for. Seeing them be happy and, in education, seeing them use the tools that you shared with them is so wonderful. That’s what makes a late night, or a grumpy parent, or an annoying customer, worth all of the trouble, in my opinion. It’s those meaningful interactions, even if they are short, that remind you why you do what you do as an educator.

That’s exactly how I felt last night.

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Learning happiness from … your dog?

One of my favorite daily uplift sort of websites is one named “Happier.”


Happier was first introduced to me from a former co-worker in D.C., back when I was interning in the city. We became friends on Facebook and based on the things I pushed out there, she thought that this particular app would be something I would be interested in. Boy, was she right! The tag line for their site is “gratitude journal, meditation, and celebrating the good around you.” It’s part gratitude part mindfulness, in my opinion.

Happier has really grown on me. While I don’t use the app too much, I do have the semi-daily e-mail digests come through my inbox. With as much e-mail as I receive, I still focus one reading at least one article from each e-mail whenever they shoot something out. That’s how I found this one!

One of my favorite photos of Charlotte and I - enjoying a breakfast sandwich and a "puppy snack" from a local Starbucks in Fredericksburg, VA. Photo credit to the wonderful Taylor C. :)
One of my favorite photos of Charlotte and I – enjoying a breakfast sandwich and a “puppy snack” from a local Starbucks in Fredericksburg, VA. Photo credit to the wonderful Taylor C. :)

This particular article focuses on happiness lessons that we can learn from our dogs. While some of them might come off as a little flip, I still really, really enjoyed the article. Especially on days like today (#TeleTuesday) when I’m lazing around the house and getting work done with my pup, I”m grateful for the attitude that she has toward life. Although a little overexcited for me sometime, I hope my pup, Charlotte, never loses that eager, happy spirit.

To the dogs and to happiness!