Who is authoring your personal checklist?

There’s something about the human brain and lists. We crave order, delineation, and bite-sized chunks of information. A decade of social media exposure has only intensified this natural urge in us. We’re bombarded with bullet points and listicles by which we can judge our lives.

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I’ll often find myself falling into the judgement trap. We’re doing great. We got 8 out of 10 on this one. Our relationship passed the test! But …. wait … that’s only 80%. That’s a B-. That sucks. Nobody wants a B- minus relationship. Here’s another list, we got 90% on this one. Whew!

Continue reading Who is authoring your personal checklist?

Good things come to those who wait

Patience isn’t high on my list of character strengths. Ask my family, friends, and colleagues. They’ll tell you when I get an idea in my head or a goal in my sights, my next question is often why isn’t it done yet? I often see patience as procrastination. I have little tolerance for the latter — in others or in myself.

Patience is a virtue.

All good things come to those who wait. 

It will come, in due time. 

All phrases I was convinced were contrived by someone trying to get a head start in the race.

I find this impatience lurking even in my greatest joys. When I see potential in something or someone, I want that potential to be realized now, sometimes even yesterday.

K will look at me when I’m focused on the end of some timeline and ask why are you trying to rush it? She’s right. Nearly all of life is evolution, not revolution. Most things in life don’t need to be — or refuse to be — rushed. I’m learning to embrace this new approach, sometimes reluctantly, to allow things to unfold organically and without meticulous intent.

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Last summer while hiking in New Mexico, I captured this photo at the top of a ridge adjacent to our campsite. We’d just finished a strenuous ascent up a rocky path. Over the last mile, the wind strengthened and the sky threatened to open.

The trees on the ridge fell victim to wildfire years ago, now just lifeless scars. The scene felt heavy, and my Catholic heritage evoked an almost Gol’gothic visual in my mind. It was beautiful in its somber tones, but I was impatient for more. I knew the sun was setting behind the ominous clouds. I paced the ridge hoping they would part to reveal its glory.

They never did. The grey pall dissolved into night.

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The next morning I crawled out of my tent. The rising sun cracked over the ridge, bringing new life to the charred trunks, a vibrant green to the reborn understory. The clouds gave a hint of the blue sky above.

It wasn’t the beauty my impatience craved the night before.

It was more. It was greater than.

It was the good thing that comes to those who wait.

The juxtaposition of these two photos has resonated in me since I took them. My heart kept telling me there was meaning in the imagery, but my mind struggled to find the words to describe it. Every time I saw them in my collection, I knew I had to write about them — that they had potential. It frustrated me that their story would not spring forth, no matter how hard I squeezed.

I had to wait for the meaning. It had to come in due time.

As it struck me that these images were my lesson in patience, The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun crossed my consciousness. Morrison’s drawn out vocals, dripping with potential, demanding patience from his listener. Twenty seconds for just three lines. Masterpiece worth the wait.

Can you feel it
Now that Spring has come
That it’s time to live in the scattered sun

Patience will never be one of my greatest virtues, but I’ve learned to welcome its long-neglected place in my life — with the universe, those who intersect and inhabit my life, and myself.

 

 


From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. These photos were taken at Elkhorn trail camp on Saturday-Sunday, July 22-23, trail days 7-8.

To be or not to be … yourself

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My Instagram feed is filled with affirmamemes, the embellished quotes that remind us to be kind to ourselves and not listen when the world insists we conform to some idealized notion of living. Many a day, they show up at the perfect time to provide a shot of emotional tonic.

They’re right — to a point.

We should live our lives as authentically as possible, and not let others define who we are or how we should live.

But taken to an extreme, the attitude they exude — this is me, take it or leave it — tips toward an arrogance that denies the possibility of a better version of us waiting to be created. We buy into their simple affirmations, feel good wrapped in their forgiveness, share them out into the ether as our flag planted in unshifting ground.

There’s a danger in drinking too much from the stream of affirmation, without taking a hard look in the mirror, having honest internal conversations, and making the course corrections we need to be better versions of ourselves.

Diversifying our relationship portfolios

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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Continue reading Diversifying our relationship portfolios

Renewing my energy for life in 2018

“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.

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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.

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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?

Continue reading Renewing my energy for life in 2018

Rebuilding myself

From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 20, Trail Day 4.


We emerged from our tents before dawn in Copper Park. It was 5:30am, our earliest wake-up of the trek, but it was Baldy Day.

When we’d gathered months earlier to choose from among the 35 Philmont treks, our first order of business was to eliminate any trek that didn’t include the summit of Baldy Mountain. There is majesty throughout Philmont’s 140,000+ acres, but Baldy is the true pinnacle as the highest peak (~12,450 ft.) in the Cimmarron Mountains. Baldy is so famous in scouting circles, when you mention you’ve done a Philmont trek, the question you get is invariably … did you summit Baldy?

Continue reading Rebuilding myself