Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

My notes from Mixwest 2014

Mixwest Notes
I had a great time at Mixwest 2014. I got to meet some new people, catch up with some old friends, and learn some pretty amazing stuff from the fabulous collection of speakers and presenters.

It’s always hard going to a conference like this and deciding what workshops to attend – especially when you want to go to all of them. But you can only go to one at a time, unless you’ve managed to figure out a way to be in three places at the same time. If you have, please contact me! I want to learn your secrets.

My friend, Leah, calls this the Mixwest Struggle. And let me tell you, the struggle is real, y’all. Since many of you might have shared in The Struggle this year, I’ve decided to share my notes from this year’s conference. Now, I’m not the most amazing note taker on the planet, but I did try to get down as much relevant information as possible. Here are my notes from Mixwest 2014.

And in case you’re interested, here are my notes from Blog Indiana 2012 – the precursor to Mixwest.

I should mention that because of The Struggle, I tried to avoid sessions that I knew were going to be recorded. Once those are available, I will have figured out how to be in two places at the same time! Still gotta unravel the mystery of being in three places at once. But that’ll happen. Some day.

I hope these notes are helpful. If you have any technical difficulties, please let me know and I’ll get that fixed ASAP. And if you have any notes or insight from any of the sessions that you attended at Mixwest 2014, I’d love to learn from your experience!

Keep being awesome, Mixwesterners! Hopefully, we’ll see each other again next year. Because I love what you do.

3 decisions I regret

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Road Not Taken

We make decisions every day. Most of these decisions are rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things – Do I want waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Should I get my gas at Speedway or Circle K? Should I wear argyle or striped socks? You know. Pretty mundane stuff.

But there are other decisions that we make that can stay with you forever. They can keep you up at night. They can haunt you in the middle of the day. They sometimes pop up in regular, everyday conversations. You can’t get away from these decisions.

I’m not talking about life-altering things like getting behind the wheel while you’re under the influence or choosing to marry someone. Those are life-altering decisions. I’m talking about other decisions. They might not alter the course of human civilization, but they still cause you to break out in a cold sweat when you think about what you did or didn’t do. They’re decisions you look back on and ask yourself, “Why? Why did I choose to do it that way? Why didn’t I choose to go the other direction as I stood at that fork in the road?”

As I look back on the decisions I’ve made, there are three choices that stand out. And when I think about them, I often wonder, “Man, why didn’t I take advantage of that opportunity?”

These were big decisions in my life. They’re landmarks on my journey of life. But they’re also relatively inconsequential in the grand story of life. They were fun things I could have done. I’m not talking about the really big regrets that I might have. You know, like dating that one girl in high school. Or cheating on a girlfriend while on a school trip out of town. Or leaving the youth ministry position that I had in Kentucky the way I did. Those are big things. They’re life-altering decisions that I’m not really dwelling on. Those things were much more complicated.

These? They’re more…simple…I guess. And I still regret them.

Simple Regret #1: The Corvette (non)incident

One weekend while at Milligan, my roommate’s parents were in town. You remember my roommate, right? Matt – aka Little Matt. He’s the guy who made us sit together on that one fateful Valentine’s Day evening oh so long ago.

Anyway, his parents were in town for the weekend. Through some kind of perk with his company, Mr. Good was able to drive a Corvette for his own personal use for a while. He brought it down to Milligan for the visit.

I don’t remember why I was in the car with them or where we were going, but I do remember Mr. Good pulling over to the side of the road. He put the car into park and turned around to say something to me.

“You want to take it for a quick drive?” he asked me.

I was shocked. I had a split second to make a decision. I didn’t know what to do.

So I said no.

I.said.no.

A college kid turned down an opportunity to drive a ‘Vette through the mountains of Tennessee. Are you kidding me? What was I thinking?

I had a headache that afternoon. So that was my reason. And while I understand that, it was a pretty lame excuse. Don’t you think?

I’m still kicking myself over that decision. It doesn’t really matter if I have other opportunities to drive a sports car like that. I still passed this one up like a bonehead.

Simple Regret #2: “Houston, we have a problem”

Remember when the space shuttle program was retired? I do. Because I passed up the opportunity to watch a shuttle land for the last time. Ever.

If you’re a longtime reader of this site (thank you for sticking with me, by the way), you might remember how I struggled with this decision quite a bit. I had some work-related responsibilities that I probably could’ve rearranged if I had pushed hard enough. In retrospect, I probably should’ve moved heaven and earth so I could go.

After all, they wound up firing me a few months later anyway.

When I mentioned this decision to Aiden a few weeks ago, he looked me in the eye and said, “What were you thinking, Dad?”

I’ve been asking myself the same thing ever since I skipped out on the landing.

What was I thinking?

Regret #3: “Go go go Matty…er…JOSEPH…”

The Spring musical during my senior year of high school was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In the weeks leading up to opening night, it was decided that they needed some more guys to join the cast. An call was sent far and wide throughout the hallowed halls of Harry High.

I could’ve auditioned. Most of my friends were already in the musical – either in the orchestra or up on stage. It would’ve been fun. I already knew all of the songs. I had been listening to the soundtrack nonstop for at least a month. Maybe longer. I wouldn’t have had to dance, really. And that was a good thing. You really, really don’t want to see me try to dance. They just needed more able bodies to be an Egyptian guard or one of Jacob’s sons, or some other extra up on stage.

I didn’t do it. I didn’t even express any hint of interest at all.

There’s an amazing feeling when you connect with an audience while you’re performing. I’ve had it happen while playing my tuba. I have no doubt there would’ve been a similar feeling while standing on stage during my senior year of high school. And it would’ve been pretty special to have shared that experience with my friends who were already in the musical.

But I didn’t.

And I still don’t know why I didn’t even bother to try.

I think that’s what bugs me more than anything else. I didn’t even try.

Get your story off your chest.

What decisions have you made that you still kick yourself over? What makes you stay awake at night wondering what might have been? Sharing those stories can be therapeutic. But don’t life solely in the past. Learn from those missed opportunities and keep moving forward. Because we cannot change the things that happened in the past. We can only influence things that happen today. Let’s make today better than yesterday.

What are you doing to make your life better today?

 

My wisest decision in 2013

wisdom turn the page

I don’t really consider myself “wise.” Although I do have a lot of gray hair. And that’s supposed to be some kind of sign of wisdom – right? I’m not buying it.

While I don’t think I’ve made a lot of unwise decisions in 2013, there aren’t many that really stick out as decisions that were necessarily “wise,” either. Except one.

I turned the page.

I let it go.

I stopped nursing that grudge that I’d allowed to stick around somewhere in the back corners of my soul that no one really bothers to look at. I’d held onto it for the better part of two years. Didn’t even realize I was doing it most of the time. But now it’s gone because I’ve let it go. Of course, I had to get kicked in the teeth to realize what I needed to do.

So maybe I’m not so wise after all. But I’m definitely a whole lot more free now that I’m not carrying that burden around anymore.

This post is part of the #ThinkKit December post-a-day blog writing challenge by Smallbox. Today’s prompt: “What was the wisest decision you made this year?”

You interested in participating? There’s still time to join in!

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity…

Shuttle Atlantis landing

#84 on my 100(ish) Things is something I won’t be able to accomplish anytime soon, now that the final space shuttle launched about a week ago. I signed up for the NASA tweetup, but wasn’t one of the lucky 150 who were chosen to go. I was put on the waiting list. I’ve begun to start thinking of a suitable replacement for #84, and have been unsuccessful thus far.

Until I received an email from NASA yesterday.

They’ve put together a last-minute tweetup for the Atlantis landing this Thursday. I was informed yesterday that I was one of the 50 people who had been selected. They merely performed a random draw out of those who were on the waiting list for the launch. If I have the time and the money, I have been invited to join NASA to watch the landing of the final space shuttle. This is a once lifetime opportunity.

And I can’t go.

Believe me, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make this work. But I have commitments at church on Wednesday night, Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning that I, in all reality, am in charge of running. It’s one of the worst possible weeks to try to shuffle things around this Summer. There’s not enough time to get someone else lined up to run these events. I would be doing this church a huge disservice (and maybe even put my job in jeopardy) if I dropped everything and drove to Florida.

Even if, for some reason, this was an open week in my schedule, there’s still the money issue. Because the IRS continues to hold on to the majority of our tax refund, we don’t have a lot of extra money to spend – especially after our recent trip to Charlotte and surrounding areas.

You have no idea how disappointing it is to say that I’m probably going to have to pass up this opportunity. The inner-five-year-old in me is throwing a big ol’ temper tantrum, trying to convince me to forget all that stuff and go anyway. Sometimes it stinks being an adult, doesn’t it?