An indelible reminder

tattooI’ve spent much of my life, the last decade in particular, trying on different skins, looking for the one that felt right. I was searching for the man I wanted and needed to be.

I wanted to both feel right and be in the right.

There are times when I’ve craved a blank slate, a new canvas on which to start over. Blank slates, though, are fallacies. Impossibilities. Figments of our imagination. Our history can’t be rewritten or erased. It’s what lies under our skin.

I thought I was looking for the right skin. Read More

On the other side

I set out to kill my optimist this time last year.

I proclaimed that replacing him with my realist would help me deal more evenly with life’s failures and disappointments. I told myself that my realist would help me accept life as it is, rather than always striving for something better. I tried to run my optimist through the ringer. Life, at times, enthusiastically tried to participate in his demise.

There was one problem.

I’m an optimist. I’m a believer that I can create better versions of myself through intentional choice. If there’s something at my core, it is this belief. Read More

My presidential litmus test

Do you inspire me to be a better citizen? Would I want you as a boss? Would I trust you to lead my most important initiative? Do you seem to truly care about anyone outside your inner circle? Are you willing to have real conversation and compromise? Do you care about a future you won’t be living in? Is your popularity based on fear? What have you actually accomplished?

These are some of the questions I’m asking before I vote.

The Code

I wrote 12 words on a chalkboard on my bedroom wall. They are the 12 words I see each morning when I open my eyes, before I speak, before I reach for my phone to check in with the world.

THE CODE. These words, imperfectly scribbled by my own hand, are a reflection of not only who I am, but more importantly what I aspire to be. They are my intent. My values. My ground truth. Read More

The lesson of the walnuts

I chose my steps carefully around the furrowed trunk of the black walnut. Ripening husks littered the floor of the Illinois Arboretum nut grove, greasy black flesh waiting to stain a poorly placed shoe.

I closed my eyes and took in the earthy lemon scent that filled the air, a fermented sweetness that fell on the good side of decay.

I remembered the time I was hiking with scouts, and surprised them by finding a just-fallen fruit along the trail. Many of them had enjoyed walnuts in chocolate chip cookies, but wouldn’t believe that the green orb in my hand was one and the same. In a moment of lost discretion, I plunged my finger into the flesh, digging towards the hull that would prove to them a walnut grew inside.

Three weeks later, my fingers lost the dark hue of the juglone that stained my hands.

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