Archive: Jan 2017

There can be only one


I love me some football playoffs.

The regular season is fun to watch, with all the divisional rivalry and week to week story lines, but let’s admit it: the playoffs are why we’re all here. It’s the measuring stick between a good season and a disappointing one. Just over a third of teams (twelve out of thirty two) are invited to continue their season after the initial sixteen game tryout period- most are politely thanked for their participation and packed away for the winter. This last dance is only for the fighters.

And fight they must. Twelve teams, eleven games. Each playoff game seals the fate of one team’s season permanently. Rookies who have never met defeat so intimately show their young emotions. Veterans start to eye retirement. Old records fall and new highlight reels are born. Periods are placed at the ends of sentences.

It is special because it is so final. It is special because it is sudden and short. In the playoffs we discover what a team is, and nowhere else. There are twelve and then there are eight and then there are four. And then there are two.

Bounce back


Dear Self,

It’s been a tough week. You’re tired and irritated and you don’t even know why. You can’t name the thing that has you so twisted up, which is how you know it goes deep. Just trying to understand what’s churning inside of you brings tears down your cheeks and that’s okay. It really is.

It’s okay. You sometimes feel so far from your goals that you despair of ever reaching them. You too often look back on your day and wonder how you could have treated people so cruelly or (worse) failed to notice them. You want to be a good, loving person so much. That’s beautiful about you.

Remember to treat yourself kindly as well. You aren’t letting anyone down and you don’t deserve to be punished.  Good things will come to you; not because you’ve earned it, but because you’ve built it. You have been placing brick after brick of pure loving intention for so many years. Punching a hole in the wall doesn’t devalue the house. Patch it up and get back to building.

The world needs you at your best. Make sure you give it to them.

Love, You.



Living in enlightenment means letting go of lies. Anyone can try it out by naming one little lie you tell yourself, examining it, and passing judgement on it. Silly. Untrue. Dangerous. Ejecting one lie from your thoughts and life will ease discomforts and make room for joy. Just kick it out the door once and for all. You don’t need to tell that story anymore; there’s an older, better one. It’s the story of You.

If that felt good, keep going. Become a lie hunter, sniffing out all those little untruths we’ve forgotten we’re even telling. People don’t find me attractive. I’m a burden on my friends. I don’t try hard enough. Throw them out. They aren’t true and people are getting bored hearing them anyway.

After a while you’ll be really digging this new lie-free story you’re telling and wondering what happens next. Start tackling some bigger ones. I’m a disappointment to my mother. I’m not as important as my coworker. I am probably going to screw this up. You know what they are. Grab them and pull them out by the roots to uncover your true story. Your beautiful, important story.

Be patient. This task will take a lifetime, if done properly. So take your time and do it right. Whenever an unproductive mood shows up for a visit, try to name the lie that accompanies it. Sometimes you will be able to brush it off with ease, sometimes you’ll need to shake like hell. The enlightening part is to see what stories stick around longest and which hold on the hardest.

It’s time


I used to struggle to get to work by 9am. In fact, I scheduled a daily 9am meeting with my team just to make sure I forced myself to get out the door in the morning. I could do that job with my eyes closed and often very nearly did.  The problem was that I just didn’t want to get out of bed. It was so comfortable and warm. The pillows were extra floppy and my cat loved to snuggle under the covers. No place I’d rather be.

The location didn’t help much either. My apartment was nestled right up against the forest in the back of the neighborhood and it was on the sub-basement floor. The only plant I could keep on my back patio outside was ivy because anything that required the smallest amount of light would die in no time.  So there I was, tucked in with the handsomest little kitten ever in the darkness of the recently departed night. And you’re telling me I have to go to work?

It became a game: How late could I set the alarm? If I didn’t have to shave that day, how many times could I hit snooze? I would rise later and later as I found new optimizations in my schedule. Before too long, I could be out the door less than 15 minutes after my feet hit the ground and fully awake by my second cup of coffee. My commute was next to nothing, so I rarely hit a lot of traffic. Even on those days where traffic seemed to find me, I wasn’t more than five minutes late. To my own meeting.

When we moved out to the desert, we upgraded to a modest two-story house. Our bedroom is on the top floor with a large double window facing east. The first few weeks we were sleeping on an inflatable-but-only-half-inflated mattress on the floor (don’t ask). Every morning we would wake up staring into the blazing wilderness sun, unapologetically reminding us that it was already 6am and didn’t we have things to be doing? Forget the alarm clock- this thing didn’t have a snooze button. Just a bright orange neon sign that said “WELCOME TO TUESDAY!”

I don’t need an alarm clock any more. I open my eyes at that moment where the sun first starts peeking over the horizon. That’s when you can see the most unbelievable colors streaking across the clouds right outside the window. That’s when the sky is painted orange or purple or whatever mood it’s in that morning.  Breathtaking. Like having a different masterpiece hanging on your wall every day. Did you know that sunrise in the autumn always happens one minute later than it did the day before? If the sun rises at 6:17 today, it will rise promptly at 6:18 tomorrow. As if the sun sleeps in more and more as winter approaches. For once, the time I arrive at work depends on the time I wake up- not the other way around.

I’ll admit I have started to use an alarm clock again. I set it for 5am. I’ve got things to do.

Settling for scraps


When meditating, stray thoughts are like stray cats. A pack of them will wander up to your mind’s doorstep and mewl for attention. There you are, dutifully focused on your breathing and then

I wonder if this will help with my memory

a thought out of left field will insert itself directly onto the blank canvas of your attention. At first you will dismiss it easily because you’re still having fun and excited about telling your friends that you began a meditation routine. Besides,

Joey could never concentrate enough to do this

they say that regular meditation leads to a host of useful benefits like improved focus and the ability

That clock is pretty loud

to work under stress. So you shoo away the random visitors and get yourself back to a place of calm. You are a zen warrior, breathing in and breathing out without so much as a dent in your mental armor. As you settle into your relaxation, the cats get hungrier and more insistent. They can sense halfhearted resolve and they gather for a group attack. You swat them down, one

Might rain tomorrow

by one

That checkout girl was a bitch

as soon as they appear but to no avail. Now that you’ve shown that you can be riled there is no stopping them

I can stop them

Damn it

even if you run at them waving a broomstick and yelling “scat!”

The whole process is infuriating to be sure. Practice brings steady improvement and repeated failure is the only way to build that muscle. The trick is to find your own breath infinitely more interesting than any idea that stalks around outside, vying for your attention. You are here and you are alive, doing the most important thing you can do: being you. There will be distractions

I miss my family

but the ripples in the pool only get in the way of the beautiful reflection staring back at you. Don’t follow the ripples and don’t feed the strays.

Sacred space


Each room in your house has a purpose. It is a sacred space that supports an essential function in your life. The living room is for spending time with loved ones. The kitchen is for nourishing your body. The bedroom is for relaxation and intimacy. Honor the role of each room and your life will be filled with prosperity and joy.

This is your kingdom and you alone are responsible for its well-being. Schedule time in your day to pay attention to the room that needs it most. Don’t hurry through it- this is a sacramental task and this space that exists to serve you deserves your reverence. Put away clutter, rearrange furniture, clear channels for energies to flow. Remove anything that does not belong. Every item has a place and wants to rest in it.

Give something away that no longer belongs and make note of what is missing. Do something to bring in more beauty. Continue to improve your home so that your life does not stagnate.

As you clean the surfaces and scrub away the dust and dirt of neglect, feel the purpose of the room being restored. Notice how much you love spending time here. Hear the spirit of your space singing with joy as balance is renewed, every item and surface harmonizing to support your life’s purpose.

I’m not sorry


I have an apology problem. Numerous relationships have been strained or abruptly ended by my refusal to say the words “I’m sorry”. It’s a phrase that loving people say to each other all the time, but it has never flowed easily from my lips. Most of all I don’t like doing anything just because I am supposed to or expected to, and apologies almost always fall into that category.

I don’t blame anyone who is a fan of apologies. We were all raised to admit error and express remorse for our mistakes. I just think it’s kid stuff. If you throw a rock and it breaks the neighbor’s window, you know your parents are going to march you over there to mumble the magic words of redress. No one asks you how you really feel about that neighbor or what your original intent was. All that seems to matter is that you broke a rule and that you say that thing you’re supposed to say. As adults I feel we can do better.

When someone on my team messes up at work, my policy is to immediately take the blame onto myself (regardless of the facts) and move the conversation quickly to remedies. It just makes sense. Who cares about pointing fingers when we all have a goal to achieve? I attempt to apply similar principles in relationships, with an admittedly lower rate of success.

When I hurt someone it is usually unintentional because I’m not a mean-spirited person. So there they are crying (or screaming) while I try to figure out what I did or how I could have avoided it. Talking through the situation helps us both to understand our different perspectives and where things went wrong. Sometimes I will note improvements that could be made (“I should listen to you more carefully”) or offer helpful advice for future situations (“When I say x, I really mean y”). There always comes a point where I believe the conversation is over until I realize that the other person is waiting expectantly for that elusive “I’m sorry” to wrap it up. I haven’t quite figured out how to explain that it is unnecessary without bad things happening.

If I weren’t staring down the barrel of an angry girlfriend, I might say something like this: The concept of right or wrong only makes sense if you assume that someone (who is not you) has the right to judge your actions and declare them to be “good” or “bad”. The Catholic guilt in me says that God has nothing better to do than to sit on a cloud and referee my life, but I’ve very nearly muted that voice in my head by now. Can I really wrong another person? Who judges that, and what if we disagree?

I humbly suggest that there is no right or wrong, no should or shouldn’t. We all make our choices however we see fit and no one’s judgement is any more or less authoritative than his neighbor’s. Forget about anyone who has wronged you. They haven’t. They have only done something that you find displeasing. Which, excuse my bluntness, is your problem.

In our marriage, we don’t apologize to each other. For anything. It is a conscious choice that we made and a promise we strive to keep. If you take away the easy out of saying I’m sorry, you are forced to find other words to describe how you feel or what you regret. Without the expectation of a child-like apology, you are merely trying to listen, to understand, and to communicate how you feel. It can only bring you closer together.

Love means never having to say you are sorry when you’re not.

Crash of reason


I love my wife. She’s explosive.

Not me- I’m a pensive type, a thinker. Any decision or reaction requires deliberation before (thoughtfully) putting the wheels in motion. There’s a certain built-in lag time with my responses. If you enrage me, you’ll know about it…eventually. The feedback you receive will be fair and carefully considered before it is delivered in a manner I’ve deemed to be appropriate and productive. We joke that there’s a “planning phase” of everything that I do.

I don’t think she does phases. If you cross her; immediate fireworks. It starts hot and just builds in intensity as she whips herself up into a frothy, percussive blast of raw emotional detonation. It really is something magnificent to behold, assuming you’re not on the receiving end of it. There are tears and shouted words (such words) and maybe even a broken plate or two if Mercury is in retrograde. Truly a force of nature.

It took some getting used to, to be sure. My rookie mistake was attempting to still the storm before it reached full strength. If you ever want to see some fireworks, look an irate Greek woman in the face and utter the ill-fated phrase “calm down”. No, you have to ride the wave until it peaks and eventually breaks on the shores of exhaustion. Then, with a little caution, you can proceed to something resembling conversation- if you’re feeling bold enough to open your mouth.

Like I said, I love it. For someone who relies too heavily on detached analysis and dispassionate reason, her complete zest for the moment is so necessary. It’s a reminder that emotions that have been over-processed aren’t real emotions anymore and that problems aren’t always best solved with the brain. When your heart is open, the gates are down and whatever comes out is truly, beautifully you. And you get to buy new plates!