I bought this coffee mug in 2016 at the Glacier Point gift shop in Yosemite National Park to add to my collection of mug memories. My son and I were on day three of our summer trip to California. Printed on it is a quote from naturalist John Muir.
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
It was the perfect senitiment to capture this adventure of ours through central California. We’ve hiked a lot of paths together over the years, and more than a few of them have been dirt.
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It’s early October, so I’m not surprised to see the signs of cooler weather in the garden.
The rosy tones of autumn are dotting Hydrangea inflorescence. I grow these shrubs for their fall and winter presence as much as the summer spectacle. They are the expected stars of fall.
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My mother reminded me today that I was born on 10:03 on the morning of 10/03.
At 10:03am tomorrow, I’ll be 47.
47 sounds … old.
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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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The life we see on social media is all about the wine and roses, isn’t it? It’s the filter of what others want us to see, not the full picture. This morning, I was walking through the garden and all I saw was the wear and tear (transplant shock that caused a rose to lose all its leaves), chores to do (the mint is starting to spring back through the mulch), and damage (the bunnies have found the lilies and forest grass). So today’s post is more #BeReal than #ShareBeauty. Our lives will always be full of challenges and imperfection and we shouldn’t avoid acknowledging them. Shared challenge, rather than shared beauty, is often our common ground.
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I was about to make what’s become a regular breakfast: peanut butter on a toasted English muffin. Disappointment struck when I realized I’d used the last of the peanut butter earlier this week. I remembered my frustration trying to get the knife blade to scrape the remnants off the sides of the jar, trying to avoid ending up with a handle — and hand — full of peanut butter. I threw the jar back into the pantry even though I knew it was “empty”.
I really wanted my PBM this morning, so I grabbed the jar — and a spoon. The large curved edge of the spoon easily scraped the sides of the jar clean and provided me with a large enough dose to satisfy my craving.
Made me wonder how often I end up wasting resources at my disposal because I’m using the wrong tool.
A while back when I was talking to a female friend (who’s an avowed progressive) about the possibility of running for office, she looked at me very seriously and said,
“You’re the perfect white guy.”
What she meant was that I did a reasonably good job of standing up for people that aren’t straight, white, and male while looking very much like I wouldn’t. A donkey in elephant’s clothing, I joked.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about this since that day, and have realized that there are a lot of straight, white men just like me. We understand the advantage inherent in who we are. We welcome diversity of culture and opinion into our lives. We intervene when we see overt injustice.
But, yet, in today’s world, we’re also seen as the root of all problems. The oppressors, the 1%, the privileged. That creates an almost untenable conundrum in how to navigate our current progressive political culture.
I don’t intend this as any sort of sob fest for straight, white guys. Far from it. I know exactly how good I (and we) have it. It just makes me wonder how effective it is to amplify the far left’s “white male privilege is the root of all evil” mantra when there are plenty of white men who are standing squarely on the side of justice.
Perhaps it’s time we cool down the rhetoric and ideology and start engaging each other as individuals instead of labels.
Some days, the 1900 calorie limit sucks. Some days, the endless parade of meetings and projects wears on me. Some days, my ambitions feel suffocating. Some days, the veneer of life threatens to crack. Some days, the pieces of the puzzle flicker in and out.
It’s those days when I rely the most on intention. What do I want this day to be? How do I want to feel about myself and my accomplishments? What do I have to do to make it so?
Intention, every … single … day.
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.
“In every organization, some employees spend an inordinate amount of time on tasks that don’t really matter.” — Robert Pozen
We’re halfway through the work week — the time I try to do an assessment of how my time spent aligns with my objectives. Wednesday morning provides a great opportunity to steal back the week if it’s gotten out of focus.