Last month, I saw Pearl Jam play at Wrigley Field. Play isn’t quite the right word. Steamroll. Freight train. Destroy. Those are all better ways of describing the energy that Eddie Vedder and the rest of the band bring to their shows. It was my first time seeing them live — nearly 27 years since they dropped Ten — an album I played so much in college that my soul knows every chord and haunting howl by heart.
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I can remember those days as a kid when I’d get to light a candle in church. The small white votives flickering through red and blue glass. The wooden sticks we’d light from one burning candle and then eagerly decide which new candle we’d bring to life. I’m not sure we always had the proper reverence for lighting a candle in memory of someone no longer with us, but it’s one of my most vivid childhood memories. I can still smell the blend of wax and wick like it was yesterday.
I still love to light candles, still feel a bit of awe as the match comes in contact with the wick and instantly starts to glisten the wax. The flame flickers and then stands tall. Warmth. Light. Two necessities of life. It’s no wonder we burn candles in memory of life lived … and lost. They bring us back, reignite our memory for a few moments, and honor our past. It’s those people and experiences that become the wisdom and fuel for our future.
I recently reviewed my retirement savings portfolio and was pleased to see its outstanding performance over the past year. There were a lot of struggles in 2017, but market performance certainly wasn’t among them. I stopped at the diversification charts, and remembered the advice of the financial planner I met with a month after my divorce was final.
Make sure your investments are positioned in a way that reflects your tolerance for risk.
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For most of my adult life, I thought I possessed a critical character flaw because I don’t have close, lifelong friends. I’d look at people whose inner circle of friends knows what they were like in grade school, high school, or even college — and wonder what was wrong with me.
I look back on the ages of 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45, and my inner circle looks completely different at each milestone, with very little thread between. I remember the moments of the purest, most intense connection with people who now exist mostly in memory or the periphery of life. I’m often overcome with a nostalgic sadness and regret that those moments are no longer on the center stage of my life.
It’s taken me nearly 47 years to understand, but the impermanence of nearly all of our connections is a good thing.
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As I made my son an egg sandwich for breakfast this morning, I realized just how happy cooking for him makes me. It’s the breakfast he asks for the most, nothing fancy, just simple comfort food.
For the three years after my marriage ended, I’ve used the #singledadcooking to tag the photos of my culinary creations. That hashtag has served me well, and on more than one occasion I’ve run into people who’ve asked me when the SDC cookbook is hitting the shelves. Of late, I’ve realized that while #singledadcooking captures what I am when I cook, it doesn’t communicate why I cook.
I cook for the people I love.
When I’m on my own, I’m more apt to scrounge on leftovers. My inspiration comes when there is more than one plate set at the table.
The cookbook may still be in the works, but it’ll now be titled #FoodIsLove because that better captures the essence of why I create in the kitchen.
Those of you who’ve followed along here know that I’ve been open with my life, with the joys and struggles that make up my authentic story. Early last year, my world, the life I imagined, came crashing down and I raised my armor in defense. I shut down. I swore that I was done living my life as an open book, done with vulnerability, done with deep relationships.
Then I met K.
She didn’t try to fix or rescue me.
She didn’t ask me to be anything but the broken mess I was.
She gave me space and time to figure my own shit out.
She was patient and understanding so I could work to rebuild myself.
She chose what was healthy for her, and never once asked that I do anything but what was healthy for me.
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Back in October, K and I celebrated my 46th birthday watching Matt Nathanson and Matchbox Twenty perform at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Matt opened with the perfect blend of concert, revival, and comedy jam that energized the crowd for Rob Thomas and crew’s last stop on their 20th anniversary tour. The arena went completely black at the same moment a single white spotlight illuminated an empty microphone stand.
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“Closing your heart does not really protect you from anything; it just cuts you off from your source of energy. In the end, it only serves to lock you inside.” — Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
I visited Seattle this past June to attend a work conference, and was lucky to extend my trip on both ends to see two close friends who moved to the city years ago.
Ajith and I worked together while he was a student at University of Illinois, but we hadn’t seen each other for a good part of a decade.
Dave and I were college roommates, the best men at each other’s weddings, and our sons were born five weeks apart, but we’d only seen each other once since he moved to Seattle years ago.
In the collective 72 hours I spent with these two old friends, there was a lot of catching up to do. It’s always an interesting experience to try to encapsulate long periods of time into shorter conversations. What do you chose to share? How do you paint the picture of your life?
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People come and go, don’t they? Sometimes it’s one and done, sometimes it’s ebb and flow. I’m beginning to understand it’s never good to force it or compare the present to the past. It’s much more fulfilling to look around each day and see who chooses to be engaged with me in this little thing called life — and appreciate that gift for whatever it is.
I can attribute most of the disappointment and heartbreak in my life to over-idealized expectations of the people in whom I invest myself. I’m working more on finding fulfillment in the investment itself, rather than being so adamant about the karmic return.