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I love a good bag.

It has to look cool, but even more importantly, it has to be functional and easy to use with one hand.

The Daylight Briefcase by Tom Bihn fits the bill in spades.

I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.

Like I say in the video, I was initially surprised by how small it is, but as long as you have realistic expectations it’s perfect. In fact, I’ve found that it has helped me to really think about what I’m taking with me when I go out and kept me from just throwing the whole world in my bag. Feels good to travel light!

If you’re looking for a compact, lightweight, durable, beautiful everyday bag, I highly recommend you checkout the Daylight Briefcase.

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Thanks to Darcy and the awesome team at TomBihn.com for providing the gear to review. Opinions are my own, of course.

My mother-in-law had shoulder surgery recently.

“Can I borrow one of your KNORKs?” she asked me afterwards.

Of course I said yes.

If you’re unfamiliar, KNORK makes amazing, high-quality silverware. You can read and see more specifics about their utensils here, but this guy is the piece that those of us with one hand (or the use of one hand) gravitate toward:

knork

Basically, the head of the fork is forged in such a way that it works like a knife, allowing you to cut and eat your food using only one utensil and one hand. Here’s a real life example from when we got our first KNORKs years ago:

That video is from 2013 and we’ve literally been using our KNORK flatware every day since. We still absolutely love it!

In fact, it’s on my Holiday Gift Guide, but you know who else loves it this year? Oprah. Oprah loves it and has placed it on her list of Favorite Things for 2015! So cool!

And now we get to the part I love.

This year’s giveaway is, in my opinion, THE BEST YET!

Sarah and the amazing folks at KNORK are graciously providing amazing prize packages for TWO lucky winners! So, what will you get if you win? You will get one 20-piece set (valued at $80) AND a set of their new steak knives (valued at $50)!

knork set knork steak

You have TONS of chances to win, too. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter and share like a maniac for more chances to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You have ONE week to rack up as many entries as you can! Go nuts and good luck!

Yesterday Twitter blew-up over the death of former football star Tyler Sash.

I wasn’t familiar with him, but saw that he was a Big 10 kid (Iowa), so I read more. He won a Super Bowl with the Giants his rookie year in the NFL, played a few more years and has been out of the league since then. He seemed to be friends with everyone. And nobody could believe he was dead. Then I started seeing things like, “Depression is no joke.”

And that’s when I thought to myself, “Is this what they call a trigger?”

It sounds like it might have been suicide that took Tyler, though it hasn’t yet been confirmed. If it was, though, it’s horrible.

Obviously, it made me think about my dad.

This week has been interesting for me. It’s National Suicide Prevention week. I’ve advocated in years past during this week because of my uncle’s suicide thirty years ago, but this year is different. I’m struggling to know just how to hold this all in my heart and mind this week.

On Monday, for instance, I took my son to the doctor. I was looking at him while we were checking in and was caught off-guard when I heard, “Grandpa Calvin still ok for the emergency contact?” I snapped my head toward the young man, hoping Sam wasn’t paying attention, and politely said, “Actually, if you could please remove him from the account, we’ll be ok with just me and Julie for now.” Those moments are fleeting, but nonetheless difficult to work through.

AFSP_SPW_socialgraphics_150ppi6I also saw a beautiful photo a good friend of mine post of her youngest son’s hand being held by that of her father-in-law, his grandfather. Within the heart-felt caption she quoted Proverbs saying, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…” and my heart sank. Was my dad not a good man? Of course he was, but in that moment, my heart was broken. My kids won’t ever hold his hand again. My brothers’ kids will never hold his hand or be held by him. I absolutely hate that. Hate it.

And here’s the thing…I was never upset with my friend for posting that. It’s beautiful! And I’m so happy for them, for real. But, it triggered something in me that I had to work through. Which is hard, but ultimately good. Thankfully I have an amazing wife who let me discuss it with her and make her late for whatever she was getting ready for.

Honestly, this post seems a little self-centered to me, but I’m still sharing it because I’m sure there are tons of people who are going to read it and be like, “Dude, this is exactly how I feel!” And we shouldn’t feel bad about it. The fact is, we lost someone to suicide and it sucks and it’s absolutely normal to struggle with how to feel.

I think it’s pretty clear that I’m all for suicide prevention. Now more than ever before. That said, this year I don’t really want to be a champion for the cause. I need to be okay with the fact that I’m still grieving.

So, if you’ve lost someone to suicide…I feel you. I’m with you. And I’m so sorry. We’ll get through this.

AFSP_SPW_socialgraphics_150ppi8If you’re thinking about suicide, please please ask for help. I know it’s hard and I know you don’t or maybe can’t think about it in the moment, but please, just tell someone. It might seem like the only way out of whatever situation you’re in. It might seem like the only way to make the pain stop. But, please hear me: IT’S NOT. It’s not the only way. You’re valuable and we need you and I’ll shout that from the rooftops until the end of time. Stay with us. We’ll help.

For everyone else, count your blessings. I’m not saying that to make you feel bad, either! Seriously, be grateful if you don’t struggle with these thoughts or haven’t been affected directly by the devastation that is suicide. Keep spreading your light and life and love to those around you.

You never know who needs it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Different Is Awesome! officially released one week ago today.

And what a week it’s been!

I was on the news. I was in the paper. I was on the radio.

I even got to meet Brad and Robby from Kid President!

We hate fun.

We hate fun.

And while all of these experiences were awesome, they pale in comparison to the stories I’ve already been hearing about how the book has affected the lives of children all over the world! I’ve been getting emails and texts from people on a daily basis and I wanted to share a few with you.

One of my favorites is from my friend Sarah who share this story about her son Judah: “Came SO close to crying just now. We are at Teddy’s therapy session and there are always other kiddos here with varying physical disabilities. A young girl with leg braces, about 13 years old, came over by us and was playing with Teddy. I could see Judah looking at her braces. He looked at her and said, ‘Hey, your legs are a little different than mine, that’s awesome! Different is awesome! I’m getting freckles and that’s different too!’ The girl came over and gave him a hug.”

Ryder, Judah, Will and Teddy!

Ryder, Judah, Will and Teddy!

Nate wrote, “I just wanted to send you a note to say that Seth (my son) is really enjoying your book.  He asks us to read it all the time. He re-titles it sometimes which comes out as,  ‘I want to read the missing hand book.’ We just got done reading it for nap time and he pretty much read 50% of it himself. He likes to complete the phrase, ‘Different is…. Awesome!’ He also ‘reads’ what makes each person different. I’m thinking about recording us reading it so you can see how engaged he is!”

Ben said, “Read your book last night to my kiddo. She loved it and had me read it three more times!”

I’ve actually heard that a lot, which makes me so happy. I’ve always worried a bit about how it would actually resonate with kids, and so far it sounds like it really hit the mark. Parent after parent has told me their kid requests it to be read to them multiple times in one sitting! Heck, I read it to my new friends PJ and Elliott at Starbucks and they asked me to read it again right away, too!

Elliott and PJ reading the book with me at Starbucks in Portland

Elliott and PJ reading the book with me at Starbucks in Portland

It’s been a whirlwind week. A good whirlwind, though! And I’m excited for the future of Different Is Awesome!

Please continue to share your stories with me and I’ll do my best to share them with everyone else! Feel free to post them on the Living One-Handed and Different Is Awesome! Facebook pages, too!

You all are the reason I do this and I couldn’t be more grateful to share the experience with such incredible people.

You’re awesome!

Ryan

On November 12th, 2014, I wrote a post titled “How To Talk To Someone Struggling With Depression.” It was about the stigma that still exists around issues of mental health and how we can help each other communicate appropriately. In it I mentioned my Uncle Ed’s suicide from nearly 30 years ago. I didn’t publish the post because I thought I sounded like a jerk and wanted to figure out how to rewrite it with a more encouraging tone.

On November 17th, 2014, my father took his own life.

This post is part of my process, part of my healing. It’s not all-inclusive and I don’t have all the answers.

But, I do have my experience. And maybe my experience can help you. I pray that it would.

I know for me, it was hard to believe that what happened was true. I have never used the word “unbelievable” more literally in my entire life. It’s strange what your brain does when you lose someone unexpectedly. For the first few days there were times I fully expected him to walk in the room and everything would be ok. Even at the visitation when I saw him laying there, I had this feeling he was going to open his eyes and say, “Hey! Why the hell am I in this box??”

But he didn’t. It was true. And it’s still true today.

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Last year Sarah introduced me to the KNORK.

AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER.

Ok, maybe that’s overstating it a bit, but we still love and use our KNORKs every day in our house.

For the uninitiated, KNORK flatware is finely-crafted, heavy and durable. The fork is kind of a combination of a fork and a knife, which is amazing for those of us with only one hand. Like I alluded to earlier, though, our whole family loves them and all the rest of those weirdos have two hands. Long story short: No matter how many hands you have, if you value quality kitchen utensils, KNORK is for you.

Watch this video I made to see me un-box my set and use them. It’s super dorky, but my reaction is genuine.

Here’s where it gets fun.

Anybody here into early Christmas or Haunakuh presents?

First of all, BRAND NEW to the KNORK line-up, I present to you the BLACK MATTE TITANIUM flatware! It’s unbelievable.

Does that look awesome or what?  (Click the picture to purchase)

Does that look awesome or what?
(Click the picture to purchase)

What I’m even MORE excited to offer you is the chance to win a FREE 20-Piece Glossy Set OR 20-Piece Top Chef Set!

Glossy (Click picture to see more)

Glossy
(Click picture to see more)

Top Chef Set (Click picture for more)

Top Chef Set
(Click picture for more)

There are several ways to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and you can do many of them EVERY DAY, racking-up more entries every time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter, share and cross your fingers! Good luck!

P.S. Obviously, I got mine for free, but I’d tell you if I hated them. Seriously.  And I don’t get anything if you buy them, so I’m not just hocking you some junk to make some paper.  I really do like them and think you will, too.

When I was in elementary school my friend Glenn and I spent nearly every recess period pretending.

For instance, I'd pretend I knew how to dress myself.

For instance, I’d pretend I knew how to dress myself.

We’d pretend we were in a rocket ship while climbing some of the playground equipment, planning what we were going to do when we landed on Mars. We’d also develop defense plans just in case aliens impeded our efforts. Spoiler alert: They usually did.

Other days we’d bring our stuffed animals and pretend we were in the jungle or at the North Pole, depending on which animals we brought that day, of course. Still other days we’d be soldiers on a mission to recapture the base, replete with hand grenades and machine guns. The noises we made with our mouths were second to none.

All of our quests were dangerous and exciting. Which is, I suppose, how a quest is supposed to be. At least that’s what Chris Guillebeau believes.

And I agree with him.

In Guillebeau’s newest book, The Happiness of Pursuit, he presents the idea that we can find meaning in our lives through adventure – through questing. We find that thing, that idea that just won’t let go of us and we go after it. Now, when I think of a quest, I think of medieval times. So, what actually is a quest? Chris says a quest has a clear goal and a specific end point, it presents a clear challenge, it requires sacrifice of some kind, it is often driven by a calling or sense of mission and it requires a series of small steps and incremental progress toward the goal. “To sum it up,” he says, “a quest is a journey toward something specific, with a number of challenges throughout.”

In the book, Chris relies heavily on his quest to visit all 193 countries in the world before the age of 35 to demonstrate how a quest gave his life meaning. He doesn’t get much into the nuts and bolts of how he did it (travel hacking), but rather, he shares the stories that came from it and how they relate to our quest. He also shares many other stories of people who have and are completing amazing quests; some of them purposely to bring change to the world and some of them just because they “had to.” Every story is unique, yet all of them share similarities, which is kind of Chris’s point. Whether we travel the world or not, we can (and Chris would propose should) all be a quester.

So, did I enjoy the book? I’m going to be brutally honest here: Not at first.

I took a break and reflected, though, and figured out why I wasn’t enjoying it. I wanted to say to the book, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I was the problem. I was nit-picking and not connecting and critiquing and making excuses…because I was jealous. And scared. All these people were doing awesome things and seemed to just pick-up and go and do them and…well, I can’t do that. I have a wife and three kids and a job and bills to pay and and and… The excuses piled up. I was afraid to connect.

Once I realized and acknowledged this mindset, everything changed. I was able to enjoy the stories that were told. Stories like that of my friend Alicia who, newly single, decided to go on a first date…in all fifty states. Now that’s a quest! I was able to see challenges to overcome rather than barriers that might stop my progress. I was able to be inspired to do more rather than feel like a failure for not having done more already. And that’s really what Chris is after here. He doesn’t give us a list of crazy things to choose from and say, “Choose one of these and go do it, you lazy piece o’ junk!” He encourages each one of us to find our own quest. To go on our own journey, whatever that means to us. And he gives us some ideas about how to do that. Ideas that he’s seen produce results in his own life and in others’.

I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Alicia Ostarello at the World Domination Summit in Portland earlier this year, She shares he story of going on 50 first dates in all 50 states in the book. And yes, she's fierce.

I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Alicia Ostarello at the World Domination Summit in Portland earlier this year. And yes, she’s fierce.

At some point I became too cool to hangout with Glenn. He maintained his imagination much longer than I did. I became consumed with tight-rolling my jeans and making everyone laugh and being popular. And I was pretty good at it. Looking back now, though, it makes me sad. Sad that I traded my imagination to become just like everybody else.

The Happiness of Pursuit has challenged me to get that imagination back.

To find my quest and slay the dragons in my way.

So…what’s your quest? Share your ideas below!

Enter to win an autographed copy of Chris’s new book here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s that time once again to spend money on the people we love!

Or we got someone’s name in an exchange and have to get them something.

Either way, it’s time for the FIRST ANNUAL, WHICH I BELIEVE IS ACTUALLY THE INAUGURAL…

LIVING ONE-HANDED HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE!

Here’s a bunch of cool stuff I found that’s super sweet for one-handers, but is ALSO uber-convenient for those of the standard two-handed limb configuration!

First of all, I’d be a terrible author if I didn’t suggest Different Is Awesome!, a book for all children that teaches acceptance and celebration of differences! The story is engaging and the illustrations are bright and fun! A perfect present for that little one on your list!

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Let’s get this out of the way: I think Kyle Scheele is super funny.

To give you a sense of Kyle’s brand of humor, go to the Kickstarter page for his book (We Put A Man On The Moon), then watch the video and read the incentives descriptions.  Seriously, I sounded like an idiot when I did it.  Couldn’t stop laughing.  And then check this out.  It’s unbelievable.  $9,944 of unbelievable.

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