10 posts categorized "Living" Feed

Live in Wisdom: How do we respond well in difficult situations?

Why haven't you been _______? A common picture for 2020

I was recently asked, "Hey, why haven't I seen you at ________?" I left the place blank on purpose because it doesn't necessarily matter what you put in that blank, you probably haven't seen me in a lot of places.

Some people have asked from, what I believe, is a sincere place if I haven't been going places that we had gone regularly pre COVID because of fear.

You're afraid you're going to get the Virus?

The answer is no.

My wife and I are limiting our out of the house experiences because we feel it is wise to do so. But not for any of the reasons that have been suggested to me at this point.  Before I explain the reasons that we have chosen this approach, I'd like to share another version of it.

We have policies for all of our offices regarding the COVID-19 and our state and federal government mandates. Invariably, someone will come in and complain about some part of the policy or they will ask my opinion on the virus or our collective government's response.

Invariably, I tell them that my opinion doesn't matter.

Hear me out. As a citizen, my opinion matters, and my vote can reflect those opinions this November. My opinion matters as someone who lives here in this state and country.

But, as someone on a mission, my opinion does not matter.

What is wise?

We start with a basic question. What is wise? As a family, our basic answer to that question is whatever is right in the short term, the long term, and for legacy.  When we consider things like our current situation we ask some more basic questions to get us going.

  1. What is the likely outcome of __________ decision?
  2. What is the likely outcome if it goes badly?
  3. What happens if something happens that I'm not accounting for?
  4. How does this help me with what I am trying to accomplish?

When we run our responses and eventual actions through these lenses, we usually end up with more questions that help us navigate our decisions.

So when we run out our response to the current situation, we have policies that reflect the best opportunity for us to remain open and serve people.  That's the only opinion that matters to us as a couple and a family.

So, we don't go to a lot of big people type things. We take precautions that we believe give us the best chance to stay open and serve people.

We try to filter things through what happens if we're exposed to someone who is positive? How do we best manage that possibility and the negative outcomes that would follow that situation?

We view this as an opportunity to teach our children what it means to examine the impact of our decisions on other people. How will our client's mental health be impacted by the consequences of our decisions?

I still have opinions about this whole mess. I've had conversations with close friends whom I trust about those opinions. There is a lot of fear and anger out there to go around. My wife and I have chosen to do our best to spread kindness and grace. We've chosen to do what we can to help as many people as possible. That's our mission.

One of the core values we teach our children is that if life is going to be meaningful, it has to be about more than us.

That's true in almost every situation we find ourselves in. This situation has taken a lot from people and it is certainly happening in an extremely divisive time in our society, but wisdom is still the best course of action.

May you find wisdom in your response to these events. May you spread grace and kindness.




Your life is written by the choices you make: Thoughts provoked by Hamilton the Musical

Recently my daughter and I went to see Hamilton musical. When it first came out and took the nation by storm, I read the biography that reportedly inspired the production and I loved it. I was struck by a lot of things that struck me as relevant to our day and age.

Screen Shot 2020-02-13 at 10.21.56 AMSo many parallels between politics back then and politics today.  But something struck me in the production that I've been chewing over since I heard it.

Warning: If somehow you don't know the story there is a spoiler about to follow.

Aaron Burr is played by Jared Dixon (who in the opinions of my daughter and myself stole the show). At the end of the show Burr laments that despite whatever else he had done or would do in his life, he would be remembered for the killing of Hamilton. He sings something to the effect of, "Now, I'll just be the bad guy in your history books."

I've been chewing on that line. Because I think it can be true. There are things that we do that will forever color whatever legacy we leave to those who come behind.


I believe that no matter what has happened change is possible. I believe that you can overcome your past.

Is it just me or do those statements seem contradictory to you? At first blush, they do to me.

But, I think one of the keys to a healthy emotionally life is the ability to hold two thoughts in tension.  And these two thoughts may be held in the highest tension.

Because, some readers of this will either already have made or will make in the future an epic screw-up. They'll do something that will shadow whatever else they do.

Except to the people that know them, really know them after the screw-up. For those people, the legacy will change. The mistake will become a footnote.

Because change is possible. Mistakes can be forgiven and made right.

My daughter asked me what I thought about the musical and I told her that I loved it because I believe there are only two stories ever told; stories of brokenness and stories of redemption. Sometimes, both brokenness and redemption are weaved throughout the story.

To me, that is what makes Hamilton so profound. It tells the story of brokenness and redemption. It shows the messiness that is life.

So to you, my friend and reader I want to offer some encouragement. Your life may be messy. It may be full of regrets. It may be marred by a mistake on a grand scale.

But those things are not the totality of your story. They are not the whole of you. You can leave a legacy of whatever you want to leave.

That legacy will be determined by the decisions you make moving forward from today.

Your story will be told by the decisions you make. Maybe your story will be one of overcoming self-inflicted brokenness or maybe your story will be one of overcoming the pain inflicted by others.

Whatever the situation, you can write your way out by the life you choose to live moving forward.

Nordstrom's Employee Handbook — short and sweet - (37signals)

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

via 37signals.com


I found this by accident. I find it very interesting on a lot of levels.


And yes, this is my signal that I am back to blogging. I will try to put out two posts a week. I really want to finish a draft of my book so I can finally put it down one way or another so that is getting most of my writing time. 

Because of that, there may be some weeks where my only posts will happen on Mondays. I will endeavor to have one post on Mondays and one on Thursdays. 

It's time to move past comparative pain and passions

I admit the world is an interesting place to me. I’m not typically someone who laments life.
I don’t always agree with stuff I hear and I’m often willing to engage it with the person. I joke with my friends about poking the bear.  Interacting with others about how they feel and think is sometimes, like poking a bear. Sometimes, we need to poke another bear or we need our bears poked.

It’s how we grow. Face_male_kodiak_bear

But yesterday I saw something I admit I don’t understand. I was sitting in my office and one of our Sr. Associates who was sitting next to me said, “Oh boy!” Of course, I asked what was up.
“Well, this guy’s newsfeed reads, “An actors death has dominated the newsfeed but how about all of the kids dying in _______.”  

This intrigued me  so I went looking at various places in the beautiful place called the world wide web. Sure enough, there were people lamenting all sorts of causes that weren’t getting as much attention as Robin Williams death.  

On one level I get it.

But on most levels, I think those people just come across as jerks. They’re acting like they have the corner on what should be important to everyone.
This happens a lot in Facebook land.
I get it.

But I don’t. Yes, people are dying in the Middle East, 1 in 5 children in America face hunger, there is rioting and looting in the Mid-West over a possibly race motivated killing. All of this is true.
But here’s the thing: Lamenting Robin Williams death doesn’t negate those truths. It doesn’t diminish them.

It doesn’t impact them at all.  It just makes you look grumpy and mean or worse.

An ancient writer wrote that there is a time and season for everything. I agree with that thought. I don’t think the time to get your personal passion out there is by juxtaposing it against someone else’s tragedy.

You sound like you’re trying to minimize their pain. Sometimes, it sounds like you're trying to invalidate their pain. Arguing with someone about their pain rarely works. When we essentially say, "well, you're in pain but this thing over here is worse and you should care about that..." we set ourselves up as some sort of judge. It's always a sketchy when we're trying to balance out why our cause should be more important than someone else's, especially when they are experiencing a new wound. Scales-295109_640

Be passionate about those other causes. Our world needs that passion. But, to be effective we need it to be done at the appropriate time. We need you to have real, genuine empath for the pain other people are feeling.

To paraphrase another ancient writer, “If you have your great cause, but you don’t have love you have nothing.”

Come down and sit in the pain of the people around you. Allow them to feel their pain. When the time is right, share your passion with them.

Thanks for reading. As always, if you like this post, please feel free to share it via your preferred social media experience.

The Biggest Loser and the Roman Coliseum

The internet world has been abuzz lately with the finale of the show The Biggest loser for this season. Apparently the girl who won, lost a significant amount of weight in a rather short amount of time.

Can I make a confession? I’ve never watched an episode of that show. I’ve never watched an episode of hoarders. I’ve only seen one episode of intervention.

Which, begs the question of why, why haven’t I watched any of these shows that have “inspired” millions and coincidently made millions, if not billions of dollars?

Quite simply, because I am afraid that we have made entertainment out of people’s maladies. We’ve turned people’s problems into entertainment for the masses.

I’ve heard most of the responses:

“I watch because I’m inspired!”

“ I watch because I like the stories of overcoming.”

“I think it’s amazing to watch the transformations…”

Honestly, in my opinion, who cares? That is the wrong criteria to be deciding what we should be supporting.

We need to consider if the means that we are receiving our inspiration is right or wrong. Is it wise to sit back and be entertained by someone with a mental illness (hoarders, intervention, etc).

I’m afraid these shows highlight out societies obsession with the wrong things. We use the TV to anesthetize our own existential issues. We can safely sit on our couch and watch Mary Jane Watson from Tacoma West Virginia and thank God that our house isn’t as messy as hers.  We can watch Gwen Jones from Bloomsburg, Minnesota struggle to go from “morbidly obese” to anorexic like skinniness all in the name of health...and let's be honest, some fame.

I’m not sure we’re all that different from the Romans and their coliseum.

The story being sold is that our society is becoming obsessed with weight loss because we want people to be healthy. But let’s be honest, we kind of like the fact that we can fat shame.

Shows like this, allow us to sit back and just thank whatever higher power we pray to that we aren’t like those people. They allow us to perpetuate the myth that fat people must be lazy or that hoarders can just choose to get rid of things.

We make profit (or help others make profit) off of their misery. We can indulge in our own worship of the body and whatever “sexy” currently and feel like we have the moral high ground because we’re taking part in a system that “helps a person improve their life.”

The ends justify the means, right?

Except that they don’t.

We have to demand more.

More of society. More of ourselves. More of those we choose to make millionaires and billionaires by giving them our money.

I realize that you may disagree with me. In fact, I fully suspect that many people will disagree with me. That’s one of the reasons, I’ve been putting off writing this post even though it’s been bouncing around in my head for a long time.

I just want more. I want to leave my kids a world that doesn’t teach them that it’s OK to judge someone or be entertained by someone just because the other person is heavier than they are or has a mental illness.  

I want a world that really sees other people as neighbors, not as sources of entertainment.


Ten good lessons about life

I have no idea who Robert Smith is. I subscribe to Michael Hyatt’s blog and he wrote about their friendship today and Smith’s book. I am agnostic towards Smith’s book, and probably a little non-plussed because I’m always skeptical about promises of “totally removing” any emotion like fear from our life. But I mean if Michael Hyatt wants to give me a copy, I’d be happy to read it and publicly review it. :)

Regardless of the quality of the book, Hyatt lists the following ten things that he has learned from his friend. I rather like this list. What are your thoughts?

Here are just ten of lessons I have learned from him.

  1. You can never be too generous. Give to others—and then give some more!
  2. The only difference between you and the people who accomplish great things is the way you think.
  3. Always be asking yourself, “What is important now? What is next?”
  4. Make today count. Live it like it is your last. Every minute matters.
  5. Eat dessert first. Learn to celebrate life and then live out of that celebration.
  6. Assume YOU are the problem. When you do, you quit becoming the victim and begin shaping the outcome.
  7. Embrace rejection. Every no puts you one step closer to a yes.
  8. You never really cross the finish line. Performing at a big show, publishing a book, or even getting a record deal isn’t the finish line. It’s the new starting line.
  9. Life is not about finding yourself; it is about creating yourself.
  10. Play full-out. Hold nothing in reserve.

Do something that matters: Thoughts on unhappy lives

A common occurrence that happens all over the country in counseling offices every day is people wanting to be "happier." Almost every counselor asks the client, "How will you know when our time is done? What are your goals for counseling? A very common answer is that the client wants to be happier. Many of the couples sessions that end in divorce are because the client(s) wanted to be happier. Families get in trouble because "no one's happy."

But what does this mean? Where does happiness come from? Is happiness dependent upon outward events or inward choices? I think the answer is probably complicated but I strongly lean toward the side of inward choices. I'll discuss and debate that another day.

Today I want to discuss what I believe is one of the biggest single contributors to unhappiness. People are unhappy because they are wasting their lives. I don't mean this metaphorically. I mean this as literally as I can possibly be.

People are literally spending their life on things that not only don't matter but that have no meaning. Don't believe me? Consider that fantasy football is a two billion dollar a year industry. TWO BILLION DOLLARS!!! The average person spends 9 hours a week at work on his/her fantasy football team. But that's almost too easy.

The truth is we have made an idol of ourselves. Most of my clients who are “unhappy” with their lives are unhappy because they have pursuing their own happiness to the exclusion of almost everything else. Many of them have achieved what they set out to do and it turns out it wasn’t all that satisfying. They buy themselves whatever they want. They spend hours playing video games and fantasy sports. It’s as if we’ve lost the ability to pursue things that matter and that require sacrifice. What amazes me is all of the things we’ll sacrifice for sports or video games, or hobbies.

This really isn’t about the hobbies though. I like video games. I like hunting. I like sports. I like reading. This is about what is ultimately fulfilling. What actually makes a life worth living? I think that most of the time people struggle with life because they’ve spent their life on things that just don’t matter. Think about things that you value in your life. They cost you or someone something. Maybe not money, but time; they cost someone something. Too often we pursue easy. We chase comfortable. The problem is when we get it, we find it doesn’t satisfy.

Which brings up the really good question of what does satisfy? What brings meaning to life? The short version that I would argue for is that we find meaning in life by doing for others.

Value comes from pursuing things that will outlive us. What do you think? What is it that brings meaning to life?

Bené Brown on owining our story

I'm reading the book, The Gifts of imperfection by Bené Brown. I read it now and again. Recently I came across this quote. I think we are living in a risk-free obsessed society and we are paying dearly for it.  Almost everything in life

"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when are brave enough to explore the darkness will discover the infinite power of our light."

~Bené Brown

What regrets will you have when you are dying?

When you die, what do you think you’ll regret?

I doubt you will regret the risks you took. I even doubt you’ll regret the risks you took that ended in failure. By now, I imagine you’ve seen this article. Here are the top five regrets listed by the nurse. She says that people tell her

  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The article ends with this question:


What's your greatest regret so far, and what will you set out to achieve or change before you die?

What do you think about the list? What do you think about the question at the end? The truth is that we are all dying. The breath you just took while you read this is one breath closer to death. The breaths I took while writing this all move me closer to death. In fact, I am probably closer to death than I am to my birth.

What are we doing with the time we have? I fear that too many of us are always playing it safe. We’re trying to write risk and danger out of our story. Or we are chasing plot lines that just don’t matter. We’re creating a life that we would never want turned into a movie. We’re just moving along chasing the next dollar, the next fancy car, the next “thing” that will make us happy. We’re missing out on the truth that true satisfaction will probably require us to go through unhappy times and then learn how to let that go.

Our life will not be better because we avoid risks. True courage requires the presence of fear. Fear usually comes from risk. The other day I asked what you were willing to pay for what you wanted. Today, I want to ask what are you willing to risk for it?

I thought about this truth today as I was waking up. When my eyes first opened, I literally had a list of around thirty things that had to get done today. Then my wife’s eyes opened and she smiled at me as she snuggled into me. A few moments later, my youngest crawled into bed and snuggled into my wife. Then my middle daughter came and snuggled into me. Big brown eyes looking up at me just chattering away.

My list kept running in my head.

My daughters thoughts kept running out of her mouth to my head like a sweet Italian opera. I lay there with an invisible war waging in my mind. List or daughter?

Daughter or list?

Snuggle or write?

Write or Snuggle?

Life or money?

School or Life?

Certainly part of my struggle was my own poor planning and being behind in school. But that’s part of this question, isn’t it? What do you we do when the pressure is really on? Will my grades really matter to my daughter in ten years? When she is seventeen and the idea of snuggling her dad isn’t even on her radar, will the paper I write today really matter to her or me?

I doubt it.

Will the time she spent snuggling into me telling me about her classmates and school and her iTouch even be remembered?

In truth, it probably will not be remembered. But the culmination of my choices will be remembered. I refuse to die, worrying that I chose my career aspirations over my children.

The real question I want to ask you is what values will you live by in the time between today and the day you die?

Those values will direct and be revealed by your actions. I guarantee it.

May we all live in such a way that regret is not found on our death bed.