The Global Diplomat’s Year In Review, 2019 Edition

December is always a time for reflection for me, and this year is no exception. Earlier this month I started daydreaming about the events of 2019 after seeing a friend at a holiday party who said to me, “you’re always going somewhere. Every time I look on Instagram, you’re somewhere new.” I generally just smile at these comments and move on, all the while wondering what’s so strange about my life to others. But this time, I started thinking about her comments and took a few moments to jot down my “experiences” in 2019.

After writing them down, her comments made more sense. How could I have possibly squeezed that much activity into a single year while holding a full time job and balancing my other obligations to family and friends? Then I began to reflect on my general curiosity of places, cultures and history. It’s difficult to summarize my thoughts because I move from one thing to the next so quickly that I find it is near impossible to capture them accurately. It seems that I am always in a hurry to experience something and then move on to something else without taking the time to savor the moment. This is something that my adventurist spirit has wrestled with for my entire life.

When I travel, I often get obsessed with every location and decide that I want to further explore it someday when I have more time. It may come as a surprise, but I have never visited a place that I didn’t like. I can always find something interesting to capture my attention. Almost instantly, however, other ideas pop into my thinking and I am taken away on another magical trip, like Peter Pan, to some remote part of the globe.  I then decide that time is passing by and I can either watch it pass or chase it counterclockwise. 

I love politics but I hate arguing about it. I see things through the lens of my collective experiences. I believe that people are inherently good, that borders should not define us, and that diplomacy should be used liberally and war should be used sparingly. I believe that we all have a moral obligation to each other and that we all abide by an unspoken social contract that guides us in our daily life. So, I have decided that this blog should tell the story of people and not try to be divisive or misleading. I believe that people are capable of thinking for themselves when presented with facts and reality. Hopefully, storytelling can contribute to an informed opinion of people and places. 

There are people I have met in 2019 that have altered my course in one way or another. I became good friends with an Iranian by having dialogue with him during my short Uber ride in Nashville. It led to a close friendship that I will forever cherish. I met with Elian Gonzalez this year to discuss his traumatic childhood and the strained relation between the US and Cuba. I interviewed a Syrian refugee whose determination landed him a successful business and deep ties to his new home and family in Knoxville.  When you hear their experiences, you quickly realize that truth lies in the real stories of the struggles and triumph of humans. 

So, not necessarily in chronological order, here is my year in review. Starting with places that we (Callie and I) visited and then moving on to our experiences and accomplishments, I give you The Global Diplomat’s 40th rotation around the sun for your enjoyment. Throughout this year of adventure, I have learned many lessons while meeting some captivating people. These experiences have shaped me and I cannot thank these individuals (all of you) enough for sharing a part of yourself with me.


  • 4 days in Istanbul, Turkey
  • Half day and overnight in London, England
  • Panama City Beach, Florida with Callie and my parents
  • New York City with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law
  • Made another annual trip to Washington DC (including our favorite spot, Old Ebbit’s Grill and the Smithsonian Museum of American History)
  • Spent Easter in Murphy, Texas near Dallas with my sister and her family
  • Visited Charleston and Isle of Palms on the South Carolina coast twice
  • Las Vegas (including a Rat Pack show and another Cirque de Solei)
  • Drove through Death Valley National Park in July! (It was 115 degrees)
  • Visited Zion, Arches, Joshua Tree, Volcano, and Rocky Mountain National Parks
  • Met friends in Denver and Colorado Springs
  • Visited my sister and her family in Ft. Meyers, Florida and had lunch with friends on Sanibel Island
  • Made my third trip to Cuba (Varadero and Havana)
  • Spent an afternoon in Tijuana, Mexico
  • Spent a couple of nights in Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Took a trip to Europe including Greece (Athens, Corinth, and Santorini), Italy (including Venice and Rome), Romania (including Transylvania and Bucharest), Croatia (Dubrovnik), and the Czech Republic (Prague)
  • San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkley California
  • Hawaii (the big island of Ha’waii, and Maui)


  • Bruce Hornsby in concert
  • Walked the Brooklyn Bridge
  • Zip lined in Hawaii
  • Callie finally got her Global Entry
  • Attended our first Barn Dance at the Museum of Appalachia
  • Met 9/11 survivor Ari Schonbrun
  • Met Brenda Lee
  • Went night snorkeling in Kona
  • Attended a Melinda Gates speaking event in Nashville
  • Attended a Pow Wow on the Cherokee Indian Reservation
  • Hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park
  • Slept overnight in a traditional Navajo Hogan in Monument Valley
  • Spent the night in a tipi in Yucca Valley, California
  • Met Elian Gonzalez in Varadero, Cuba
  • Watched a Tennessee football game from the President’s Suite
  • Tailgated with friends in Knoxville
  • Attended A Candlelight Christmas at the Museum of Appalachia
  • Met Chesa Boudin, the new District Attorney in San Francisco
  • Had dinner in the Eiffel Tower (Las Vegas edition)
  • Participated in the wedding of one of my closest friends in Knoxville
  • Camped in our Tepui rooftop tent twice this year in North Carolina
  • Met a new Persian friend and was treated to a Persian feast and tea
  • Saw a concert at Red Rocks
  • Attended the Nashville area Kurdish Festival
  • Stargazed in Hawaii
  • Found out we’re expecting a niece later this month
  • Moved from downtown Nashville to Hillsboro
  • Attended a Smokies baseball game in the owner’s box
  • Hiked with my friend in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Visited Bran Castle (advertised as Dracula’s castle) and Peles Castle in Transylvania
  • Had a private wine tour in Romania
  • Walked in the rain and had drinks in a cliff bar in Dubrovnik
  • Stayed in a bungalow and attended a luau on Maui
  • Had dinner at Fleetwoods on Front Street (Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant) in Lahaina
  • Stayed in the DreamMore Resort (Dolly Parton’s new resort hotel in Tennessee) twice
  • Stayed at the new Guesthouse at Graceland in Memphis
  • Attended a private party in Istanbul (uninvited)
  • Crossed the Bosporus Strait by ferry that separates Asia and Europe
  • Saw the Black Sea
  • Sailed on a catamaran in Maui
  • Sailed on a catamaran in Greece and met new friends from Brazil
  • Went jeeping in Hawaii
  • Stayed in the Hermitage Hotel (Tennessee’s only 5 star hotel)
  • Saw Tina the musical
  • Attended the Nashville Symphony for the first time
  • Had our 10 year Anniversary dinner where we celebrated our engagement 10 years ago at the Grand Marlin in Panama City Beach, Florida
  • Stayed in a cave house on Santorini
  • Spent an unplanned evening in Rome
  • Saw Venice with no rain
  • Visited Little Havana in Miami, Florida
  • Had Thanksgiving together with both sides of our family
  • Spent a traditional Halloween carving a pumpkin, roasting pumpkin seeds, and watching original versions of Frankenstein and Dracula

Accomplishments (Callie and I):

  • Held a successful speaker series event in a cave (The Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee)
  • My parents retired early
  • Callie retired her Real Estate License
  • I received my Certification from Cornell as an Association Executive Director
  • Callie graduated Leadership Anderson County
  • Callie finally got her Global Entry
  • I launched my blog
  • I started serving on the Barn Dance Committee for the Museum of Appalachia
  • Callie participated in the UT Social Enterprise course for Executives
  • I read 14 books this year (my goal was 12)
  • Junior Achievement maintained its 5 start status for the second year under Callie’s leadership and had a record breaking year for number of students served
  • My Association raised a record amount of money exceeding $500,000 for the first time
  • Callie was placed on the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Lincoln Memorial University’s Business Advisory Board, and the South College Business Advisory Board
  • My Association now has all 95 Tennessee counties participating
  • We completed our patio remodel

Life is a collection of individual experiences that help to continually round out our view of the world. Each experience is a moment in time and collectively they weave a complex tapestry that tells your story. All of these events that I previously listed have defined me in some way this year. Next year should be even bigger. I am turning 40 in March and I have so many goals that I am trying to meet for this momentous occasion. I enjoy sharing the stories of my travel and adventure and hope that in some way it will inspire you to see the world through a broader lens and open your hearts and minds to those who may be different from you.  Who knows where next year may lead. Follow The Global Diplomat for more stories in 2020. Happy New Year and Bon Voyage!

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