Traveling. Learning. Growing.

What's up guys? I've had a lot of inspiration to write in 2013 but just haven't gotten around to it for one reason or another. I have determined that I am now, at age 27, an extremely analytical individual. A couple of times I have had entries typed out but didn't hit send for fear of how my words would be interpreted. Other bloggers will relate to how hard it is to write about oneself without coming across as self-important. That's something I most certainly don't intend to do. Those who read my blog from 2006 through 2009 probably got their fair share of that from me.

The year is off to a really great start. My plan heading into this year was to travel a bit and meet as many people as possible. I also moved 'have new experiences' to the top of my list of priorities, even putting it ahead of my poker career. I am endlessly fascinated by just how many different types of people and ways of life there are in this world that we live. Along the way, I've been working hard on trying to improve myself. It's a never ending battle, but it has been a process that I've really enjoyed. I am happy to report that I am pleased with how things are going. I still have bad habits that I'm trying to correct, but they are not going to change overnight. I'm just happy that I have the awareness to change them.

I, like many, have written before about how important I think perspective is. When I was younger I inexplicably spent a lot of time complaining and bemoaning my luck. Truth, my life was (is) awesome. I don't want to be critical of the old me. It's just that my eyes had not been opened to just how badly some people have it. It is so easy to feel sorry for oneself and to complain about things that truthfully just don't matter. We're all guilty of it. The perspective that I've been able to gain from travel has undoubtedly changed my life for the better. It has been quite the snowball effect. I cannot recommend more highly to young people reading how strongly I feel you should get out and see the world while you can.

I've been fortunate to spend a lot of time with some amazing individuals in this first quarter of the year. Time is so precious, so I've been making a point to spend mine with individuals who have a net positive effect on my life. There is just no other way to operate in my opinion. One of the things I am thankful for daily is how lucky I am to have great family and friends. We all have the potential to learn so much from each other. Our mindsets are going to be influenced by those with whom we surround ourselves, so in trying to grow it makes a lot of sense to hang around people who are inspired and optimistic. Great people ARE out there. We just have to get off of our couches, put down our iPhones and get out there to meet them.

This entry, by the way, is being written by way of the Atlanta airport. I'm on my way back to my residence in Birmingham, Alabama after a 34 day trip. It was quite the journey as I went Birmingham to Los Angeles to San Jose, California to San Francisco to London back to San Francisco back to Los Angeles. The trip to London was a quick 7 days and the other 27 were spent in the state of California. I was really impressed and started to fall hard for Cali in my time there. I definitely want to spend some time living out there full-time. It isn't a matter of if but when. The highlight of the trip for me was taking in the World Baseball Classic in San Francisco with two friends of mine: Jesse and Paul Yaginuma. Here's a shot of us wearing Japanese club baseball teams' jerseys that actually made the Japan Times.

jerseys

I've had a couple of other really cool, unforgettable experiences so far this year that are worth mentioning. I attended the BCS National Championship in Miami and watched my alma mater The University of Alabama beat Notre Dame. I attended SuperBowl XLVII with my dad in New Orleans, and I visited New York City for the first time in late January, spending 8 freezing nights having the time of my life. I also did a lot of training for the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham. I was thrilled to complete the 13.1 miles in 1 hour 42 minutes and 6 seconds in that my first ever half. I also had the people that are important to me in my life there supporting me. It is a day I will never forget.

I played a dozen poker tournaments and one cash session this trip. It was a pretty rough trip poker wise to put it lightly, but the year is off to a good start overall as I won a tournament in the Bahamas at the beginning of the year. Truth told, I have been treating my poker career very casually. I keep wrestling with whether to totally recommit myself. At the moment it's not at the top of my priorities, but things could change. I'm really happy with the balance in my life. Any money that I make playing poker is simply a bonus (cliché I know). As I've said, I'm not so arrogant to say I'm going to just show up and crush the poker competition in its current state. Though, it's an equity sacrifice I'm willing to make.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

SS

2012: The Year that Was

Happy holidays everyone! I will start by saying that 2012 was the best year of my life. I have said that about each of the year last three years, so it suffices to say that I am happy with the direction my life is going. My happiness and enthusiasm for life are at an all-time high, and I am cherishing every interaction. This year was so unforgettable for so many reasons. In 2012 I continued to strengthen relationships with family (baby niece!) and friends, whipped myself into the best shape of my life physically and met so many wonderful people while seeing a lot of the world. Things went well professionally for me, which was a nice sweetener after a disappointing year in 2011.

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Europe Trip Wrapup

My last update came early in my backpacking trip from Lugano, Switzerland. After 44 days in Europe, I have just arrived back in the United States. I’m writing this blog from the Detroit airport.

I will begin by saying that I had the time of my life over the last six weeks in Europe. Travel has been catapulted to the top of my list of interests, and I intend on doing as much leisure travel as possible in 2013. I have major travel fever and am already planning my next trip. I felt like I became more open-minded each day that I spent in Europe, and I will never forget the experience—albeit too short. I learned so much about myself, and I will come back to America as a changed man. I entered my solo trip looking forward to getting out of my element, challenging myself and meeting new people. Another of my other goals for the trip was to not drag my feet in the slightest. I look back on my early twenties and wish that I had a lot of the time back that I wasted watching useless TV and being otherwise unproductive. I’m proud to say that I was able to accomplish all of these goals. I am left feeling extremely enthusiastic about life and will work hard to maintain that attitude while Stateside.

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Poker and Life Outside the US

Hello everyone! Once again it has been too long since my last update. I'm writing this blog entry from a hotel room in the breathtaking town of Lugano, Switzerland. Since my last update, I have spent 31 nights in the US, 36 nights in Costa Rica, and 18 nights in Europe. I'd like to go through and do the calculation for the last 15 months, as I've been spending increasingly less time in America.

After the World Series of Poker ended this summer in Las Vegas, I did about a month worth of unwinding back in Alabama. I then spent a weekend I won't soon forget with friends attending the wedding of our pal Eric Baldwin and his wife Mary in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. When I arrived back home on Sunday August 19 I got a call from my mom saying that my sister Heather, who was expecting a baby September 5, was on her way to the hospital. At 11:57 pm she gave birth to my first niece Alaina! It was a really cool experience and I look forward to watching Alaina grow up. I had a flight to Costa Rica booked for the 21st, so the timing was perfect!

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2012 World Series of Poker Wrap Up

As I type this, I’m sitting in my office in my condo in Birmingham, Alabama. I bought this place in late March 2011 here in the city in which I grew up. The online poker fallout known as ‘Black Friday’ happened three weeks later on April 15, 2011. For those that don’t know, the three major online poker sites were seized by the Department of Justice on that day and online poker was essentially banned in the United States. I was a little unlucky with the timing of things, as I clearly wouldn’t purchase a home in a place where I can’t get any work done. Although I still call it home, I don’t get to spend much time here. When I do, I absolutely love it. My whole family is here, I’m comfortable, and it’s great for relaxing and having time away from the always-stressful career that is tournament poker.

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