I have done many a rebrand over the years, with each rebrand reflecting a new passion, a new perspective, or a new stage of life. To put it bluntly, I’m fickle as hell. That said, there is a singular strand of truth that runs through everything I care about, which is why I’ve decided to rebrand this blog. To better explain this change, let’s take a trip down memory lane and reflect on some of my previous blog names over the last 15 years:

  • Beans, Leaves, Etc.
    My first “real” blog (not accounting for my cringey Xanga and LiveJournals) which I started in high school, I exclusively did philosophical writing prompt articles while drinking a cup of coffee or tea (in a coffeeshop usually, or at home). Caffeination was the only prerequisite for my ramblings.
  • Something Collegiate
    Once I realized that I’d be going to Cornell University (Go Big Red!) and that I wouldn’t be living at home frequenting coffee shops (as a college kid that’s expensive AF) I decided to focus purely on helping other high school students get ready for college by offering tips on essay-writing, standardized test taking, and other college-prep related topics. This was very short lived, since I was trying to rally other writers without paying them, and as you might expect, pure goodwill did not yield any lasting results.
  • Ordinary-ish / Ready Set Beast
    I realized that I was soon to leave college, and I really enjoyed fitness and helping others get fit. So, I pivoted, offering challenging workouts to other people who wanted to push themselves. In retrospect, it was not ordinary at all, and the workouts were really hard, but it was a fun and exciting foray into sharing fitness and wellness with others.
  • The Act of Becoming
    Out of college, I realized that I had other random ramblings: philosophical, political, or socioeconomic commentary, all of which pertained to disillusionment and becoming a functioning adult. I picked a vague AF title which stuck for a while. In a way, I still relate to this name, but it was just not specific enough and also implied I had not yet “become” anything.
  • The Grown Up Handbook
    I wanted to write practical tips for burgeoning adults, as a burgeoning adult myself. I didn’t actually write anything for this, because turns out, I was kind of a shitty adult. This might also be the time I realized I may hold a world record for most domain names paid for without actually writing anything meaningful under those names.
  • Dreamer Meets Doer
    A short-lived blog about being a small business owner. This actually went really well and helped me get my current job, but I got distracted with pursuing my MBA full-time, and had to shut the blog down for sanity’s sake while I also worked two part-time jobs.
  • The Green Essentialist
    My goal was to write about living eco-friendly with a practical approach to minimalism, but to be honest, I never even wrote a post under this moniker. Well, I did, but I never published anything, because I was a bit nervous someone would call me out that I wasn’t being green enough, or that I had no authority to be speaking about environmentally-conscious living.
  • The Unwelcome Opinion
    I think this was when I started picking up a small following from friends and family (thanks to all who joined when I wrote under this name!) It was an op-ed style blog but mostly had movie and TV show reviews. It was a lot of fun, but it was hard to keep up writing as much as I was watching. #bingewatching

But anyway… this leads us to my most recent brand name: Frequent Fires.

It was liberating to call my blog this, because I finally admitted to being a shitty adult. I didn’t have to pretend anymore, and because I’m a sucker for puns, it was also a play on words (I was, after all, a frequent flier at the time). To honor my persistent state of anxiety and stress, the name reflected my tendency to let things go unattended until there was a fire to put out. (As someone who traveled 30%-40% of the year, it’s not surprising I was abysmal at “domestic management” and household duties).

As my own personal interests did, I shifted focus a little, sharing a little bit about my wellness journey: how to ensure you get a good night’s rest, how to establish a morning routine when you function in multiple timezones per month, repairing an unhealthy body image, and how to set goals to stay sane and grounded in an exercise regimen when you’re jet-lagged nearly half of the month…

… However, this blog name was also extremely self-deprecating, and while my go-to humor style is self-deprecating, I also realized how little credit I actually gave myself and my growth over the last 15 years.

I’m sure there are other blog names I’m missing above, but, as absurd as the number of rebrands may be, I’m not ashamed of a single one of these brands. In fact, I’m proud of each one, even if they failed miserably. Each of these initiatives helped me grow more self-aware, and helped me learn something new about myself. The reality is, I’m a multi-faceted human, with multi-faceted interests, but if there is a single thread of truth running through all of my interests, it is a singular desire always seek improvement and be better at different things, like:

  • Presence and mindfulness, with a critical yet positive mindset, like I was in those coffee shops, simply enjoying a “caffeinated think” about the world around me.
  • Mentoring others, like did when I wanted to help other inner city kids get into Ivy League institutions, and help others be more productive and entrepreneurial.
  • Fitness and wellness habits, and practices that keep me accountable – which have helped me stay fit to better serve my country as an Army Reservist.
  • Understanding socioeconomic and political implications of policies, practices, and systems around us, so that we can make better policies, practices, and systems.
  • Practical ways to be a better family member and friend, be that with “adulting”-related topics for the household or ways to improve EQ and empathy.
  • Stewardship of the environment which feeds, clothes, and shelters us. If we do not sustain it, it will not sustain us, and if we all did a little bit better, we’d be a lot better off.
  • Sharing great publications, films, and television with reviews because I am obsessed with excessively reading into everything and finding meaning, and sharing that meaning with others. And finally…
  • Confidence, assertiveness, and self-assurance because I know I’m not the only one in the world with imposter syndrome and a need to love myself a little more.

So, that’s where I am now, and perhaps where I always have been. I’ve always had a persistent desire to improve in all aspects of life. In other words: an ever-upward pursuit of better ways of living. When I thought of the most memorable phrases and words in my life, there was one word which has continued coming back into my life again and again: Excelsior. The phrase “excelsior” holds great meaning for me for a number of reasons:

  • Originally, it’s a Latin phrase meaning “ever-upwards,” “still higher,” or, as Stan Lee put it, “upward and onward to greater glory.”
    (Side note: I love Marvel comics and movies, so it’s endearing to me. RIP Stan Lee.)
  • It’s the official motto of New York state, which is where I live now.
  • It’s the name of the ROTC Battalion at Cornell University, where I got commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and joined the Army Reserve, and also where I am currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Military Science (full circle, y’all).

In short, “excelsior” has been a central theme in the origin story of my life, and is a philosophy to which I continue to subscribe. It’s less about “never being satisfied” and more about enjoying the journey toward “better” each step of the way (whatever “better” may mean at each chapter of life). I can’t promise that it will be my final rebrand, but I do know it’s the first rebrand that I’ve felt truly reflects the entire journey. And as meandering as my own journey may be, I deeply appreciate you for being a part of it. Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to writing more, soon.


TB Fessenden

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