On learning a basic equation


Now that I’m a certain age, I get surprised less and less. Fewer things stop me in my tracks and cause me to take stock of what’s around me and appreciate all that I have…and the saddest truth is that the older I get the things that tend to stop me all too often are tragic.

Sounds like getting old is a real bummer.

Only it isn’t. If you keep your mind and heart open to new possibilities.

This morning, an Aha! Moment happened to me, and it was when I was doing a morning scan of social media no less. So the first lesson here is to always be paying attention, because you never know when you might find something.

Anyway my epiphany came thanks to a Facebook post by “Becoming Minimalist,” a health and wellness website that I follow for the occasional feel-good nudge. I’ll read something pithy, something that makes me go hmmm… and whatever it is serves to provide a gentle, necessary, and all-too-often short-term attitude adjustment about whatever it illuminates. Today was different. The post (which was not of great interest) included this quote by Brennan Manning* (which made my morning):

“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.”

Let that sink in for a second—there is no neutral exchange—and then think of the implications.  100% of the time, this “rule” applies to us. And 100% of the time it gives us the power to choose.

That’s huge.

This mindset isn’t limited to either our professional lives or our personal lives. It presents an unbounded challenge to each of us, to be aware of our role in every interaction, and to acknowledge that every one of those interactions has consequences—both seen and felt by us and seen and felt by others. And often times our actions have consequences that are entirely unbeknownst to us.

So while I get (kind of) the ongoing debate about whether one can choose to be happy or not, this is a little bit of a twist on what and how we choose. As a rule, I tend to give most people the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume negative intent…yet they still seem to drain my battery or suck the life out of me. However, reflecting on that quote reminded me that while there’s nothing I can do about them, I can do everything and anything about me. And maybe, someday, it will influence them. Maybe. Maybe?

I urge you to consider this emotional equation when you have your next encounter, be it conducting a big deal at work, facing a personal conflict, or undertaking an innocuous everyday event like buying a coffee…and remember that there is no neutral exchange. Challenge yourself to step up and to give life in whatever form it takes for you. Whether you give extra energy, a smile, a hug, a thank you…whatever it is…you’re giving life…and everyone who is part of the exchange will come put on the other side with a fuller tank…no matter what.

*Brennan Manning, American author, is best known for his book The Ragamuffin Gospel. To find out more, a Google search is a good way to go.



I See him There, in the Birds…


So I see my dad in the birds, especially in the hawks…for whatever reason I believe they are part of our collective story.  From the time they swam in my pool right before he died…and looking at the pictures was one of the last things we did together…to the ones soaring intermittently overhead…to the occasional times when one has swooped toward the windshield, gliding up and over, as if it dropped in to say hi.

That’s how I take it, and that’s all that matters.  He was all about nature, and I indulged him his bird talk, maybe because I actually enjoyed it.  It’s different now that he’s gone (what isn’t?), but I find comfort in the birds…as if he’s someone still managing to be here, with me.

This weekend we did our almost-annual trip to Ogunquit, our first without dad…in our favorite little shop I saw this small stone bird, which I bought as a reminder of him and all of our good times and if all that he was and is to me.

Before our walk along the Marginal Way to Perkins Cove, we put all our food in the car lest the seagulls be tempted…and returned to our beach site a few hours later to find that the seagulls had gotten into our garbage, and our other bags…so those of us who had undergarments in their beach bags (not me) were greeted by bras on beach chairs.  When we were driving home and a hawk swooped the windshield, we were sure that my dad had ordered the seagull attack, and that he was close by, laughing.

Blog Post Rubble


So after VA Beach came Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas, both also for work.  Followed by an impromptu and very fun long weekend in Canada (Gracefield, PQ, on 31-mile lake) followed by Albuquerque (work) followed by vacation week on Old Cape Cod (back yesterday)…my head has been flooded, my schedule has been action-packed…a double-whammy of an Achilles tendinitis-plantar fasciitis diagnosis in late June has me on the DL…not running, drinking too much beer, having little too no free time, packing on the pounds…need to dig my heels in, figure out a few things, stop making excuses, stop the slide, and get back to 100% happy.  Life is great, don’t get me wrong…but I’m misfiring on a few cylinders and need to tune myself up.  Until I figure out how to do that, I’ll leave you with a few pics of my travels, to show you the world through my eyes.  Moral of the story is two-fold: 1) if you look, you see cool things and 2) an IPhone camera and a few good apps work miracles.  So here you go:



Today’s headline haiku:

Paris massacre.

Ethnic cleansing coffee cups.

“Media”; amok.

So that’s that.
Ok…soooo…this weekend has been an overwhelming experience dealing with a f-cked up world and the associated reactionary and under-informed opinions both on and offline. I’ve seen a lot of misguided response, a lot of meeting hatred with hatred, plenty of rush to judgment, and a general lack of willingness and interest to consider alternative views. In any case, we’ve got 11 days until Thanksgiving. So I encourage everyone to take a step back, to take an extra breath, and to think about something good in your own life, something that makes you happy…then hold on to it, at least for a little while.  

This picture illustrates one thing about my world that’s pretty great, and it fills me with hope and optimism for the future. Thanks to my 17 y.o. nephew for the gift of an amazing outlook, and go Pats. #letlovewin


Save Me San Francisco.


I’m about halfway through a flight from Boston to San Francisco, a work thing.  First time flying Virgin America and it was a rough start at the terminal.  I left behind a half-drunk cup of coffee–Kerri assured me she wouldn’t waste it–because I couldn’t take it through security anyway, and I’m a neurotic traveler so I just like to know I’m at the gate.  So much for a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts or an airport lounge that would have given me an excuse/opportunity to drink a Bloody Mary…instead there was only a Cosi Presto kiosk with bad coffee but half-decent hard boiled eggs and yogurt/fruit/granola parfaits.

The waiting area was both cramped and crowded, the gate service awkward, and the airline itself tries awfully hard to be something that I can’t quite figure out.  My window seat was occupied by a woman who conveniently speaks (or pretends to speak) no English so I moved to the aisle.  Her husband who also doesn’t speak English apparently also doesn’t understand manners as his elbow has been lodged in my upper arm for most of the flight, his forearm covering my entertainment controls.  And she’s been sneezing constantly, one after the other in rapid succession, for about the last three minutes.

In any case, I was able to get tuned in to the movie Notting Hill, which for over a decade since it first came out, I’ve been calling Nodding Off.  And the interesting thing is I kind of liked it this time.  Maybe because I finally have real love in my life I can appreciate the little nuances of knowing and needing someone in ways that you never really knew existed.

I was really sad leaving this morning.  I like my life, I like my people…I like my routine.  But I also do like the job that I’m traveling for, even though I’ve got more time on the road than would be my preference.  So I’m trying to reacclimate to the rigor of business travel, and the mistaken and idiotic notions of its glamour.  It’s a study in patience and adaptability and making each moment fun and happy because I’m in complete control of my circumstances.  Albeit in the context of circumstances outside of my control, the ones that have me spending my weekend (plus Monday and Tuesday, into Wednesday morning) traveling to, in, and from San Francisco.

It’s a city that I’ve not spent time in in probably a dozen years, maybe even 15, which feels strange given that is someplace I used to be very comfortable in, and at one point actually considered moving to.  So I’m considering those lifetimes ago, in the context of the life I have now, and reflecting, reflecting, reflecting.

And now I’m watching Sleepless in Seattle and am beyond grateful that I plunked down the $200+ on the Bose noise-cancelling headphones.  I’m not sure I can ever fly without them again.  In the crowd and chaos and movement of the flight, I’m feeling like I’m floating in an auditory and sensory oasis.  And I’m reminded of the things I don’t like about travel, like the smells and and people who pull on the seat in front of them to stand up, or touch every seat that they pass on the way to and from the bathroom.  Or why the guy next to me has played with his video screen the whole flight, even though hie. Has no headphones…and why is he watching my to, even though his is on….and even though he still isn’t wearing headphones.  I also am reminded of the things that make me giggle, like the person who gets on the plane and mouths there seat number, say, 27D, the whole way down the aisle, looking left and right, just in case the rows aren’t chronological and the number assignments are arbitrary.

In any case, I don’t need saving and if I did I don’t need this city to do it.  But the Train song has been in my head, and some of the lyrics resonate.  I had a decent day, don’t like being by myself, miss my girlfriend, and can’t quite reconcile how a place that seemed one at to you at one point in time now feels so different…I guess the life you live and your level of comfort changes everything.  Life changes.  I know that.  But I feel it differently here.  I’ve been known to talk about wishing I lived a different life.  But today I raise that I am living the right one.  It’s a perfect fit for me.  I think I’ll have a happy few days here, and I think I’ll be happier to be home.

How Can You Still Not Believe in Signs?


I’m overwhelmed right now, in so many ways and on so many levels.  It’s been almost a year since cancer took my dad, and there’s no shortage of emotional stuff associated with that.

One things I Couldn’t bring myself to do this year was plant the garden beds that he and I built and tended together over the years.  They look disgraceful, like this:

Today I went over to that part of my yard, and look what I found:

Love remains.  ‘Nuff said.


Taking some time to do some interpretative bastardized headline haiku where I opine on/process current events. 

Here are my first two:

Doomed from Conception

Bathtub in the sky.

Whitney. Bobbi Kristina.

Together again.
Overdue Merit Badge: Commonsense
Big, bad, scary gays.

You don’t get to lead the boys.

Suck it, homophobes.

Just start, with whatever it is you want to do.  You can’t finish something you haven’t started.

Happy haiku-ing!