Keeping Your Balance

“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

If you are anything like me you are regularly tuning in to the news in order to be sure that you have the most current COVID-19 information from local, state and federal sources. The trouble is that instead of only hearing what is important there is far too much of it to process. Trying to absorb it all often leads to fear, confusion, stress, sadness, anger and a sense of complete overwhelm.

To make matters worse, we are hearing contradictory messages from officials at the highest levels of government and our elected officials seem to be playing politics instead of getting needed financial resources to displaced American workers, families, small businesses and companies that have been forced to stop wherever it is they do to keep money flowing in our economy.

There are countless changes having been thrust upon, asked of and now required of each of us. These come in the form of cancelled meetings and trips, planned events such as birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, etc. The list is endless and keeps growing. Each of these disappointments contribute to our sense of loss. Just when we come to terms with one such situation, we are hit with yet another. Before we even have a chance to work through our grief and loss from one casualty, another pops up. It’s no wonder some people are overwhelmed by feelings of uncertainty and hopelessness.


One thing that my wife Amanda and I have done very regularly is to get outside and take long walks. Despite keeping our 6 to 10 foot distance away from others we find that we can still greet people who are out getting some fresh air as well. It has helped clear our heads and open us up to shifting our thinking and our mindset.

In the midst of all of the doom and gloom there are indeed some bright spots. There are many individuals at the front lines of this battle tirelessly working incredible numbers of hours under extremely stressful conditions.

There are companies re-tooling to make hand sanitizer, face masks and ventilators. There are restaurants donating food to medical professionals and others. There are many more examples that each of us have seen and heard about and that list keeps growing also.

When I hear these stories emerge it gives me faith in humankind and reminds me that in every crisis there is also opportunity. People are stepping up in huge ways to make a difference.

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”  ~ John F. Kennedy

One thing I have found to be true is that when I am thinking about what I am thankful for, I also feel happy. And I’m pretty sure that feeling happy and hopeless are not compatible. It is impossible for these two feelings to occupy the same space at the same time.

Looking for the helpers and finding ways to thank them is a very good use of our time while we are being asked to stay at home and practice social distancing. It helps to lift our spirits, lighten our hearts, which it turns out can actually help to boost our own immune response.

One idea to make looking for the helpers a habit is to make a numbered list on a piece of paper adding to it daily. In the second column you can add ideas about ways you might thank them. 

To be sure, one way or another, this will pass. And when it does, we will  move forward. We always have and we always do. The human spirit is just that way. We don’t know exactly how or even when we will be looking back upon this crisis, but eventually we will. We will get through this and we will be better and stronger for having endured it.

Another thing for sure is that worrying, losing sleep, over thinking the “what if’s” and the like won’t change anything except to aid and abet worry and fear and add to our feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Do your best to remember to breathe and remind yourself, “This too shall pass.”

There is definitely a time and a place for everything but, sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Make time for joy and fun!



The Big Reveal

“We need to remember that circumstances don’t make a person,
they reveal a person. ” ~ Emma Jameson

When I was a 9th grader living with my family in Eugene, Oregon a freak and unexpected snow storm suddenly hit the area. I believe it remains the biggest and longest lasting storm recorded for that area. The streets were impassable for many days causing schools and businesses to close. Although much shorter in duration and causing isolation rather than requiring it, in some ways it was similar to our current situation with regard to the COVID-19 virus. We were all in it together.

For an adolescent, the sense of awe and wonder created by continuous snow falling onto the already deep blanket of white that occurred overnight was awesome! But as the extended forecast called for more and more snow, it was clear that our city would be paralyzed. If Eugene was a city in the Midwest it would have had ample equipment to clear the roads, buildings would not have had flat roofs which were not designed for the extra weight of several feet of heavy snow and homeowners would have had snow shovels and snowblowers to clear driveways and walkways.

After the initial excitement of being out of school began to wane, as an active teenage boy, I began to become a little stir crazy. I needed to get out of the house. I called my friend Doug, who lived several miles away. He and I often made the walk to one another’s houses to spend time together. While on the phone we decided that I would go to his house. Trudging through the heavy snow easily doubled the time it took to make it there. Along the way, I noticed countless people digging their way out of their houses. But I also noticed something else. There were houses with snow completely covering yards, driveways and walkways with no evidence of any attempt to clear it away.

When I made it to Doug’s house we exchanged normal greetings and small talk and then began to talk about how crazy it was outside. People were making their way through the snow to stores because driving, for the most part, was not yet possible. It also dawned on us that there may have been elderly people who needed help clearing walks and getting needed groceries and other necessities.

For the next 10 days or so, Doug and I, armed with snow shovels. spent our time clearing the driveways and walkways of people who couldn’t do it for themselves. We also helped shovel off the flat roofs of some local grocery stores, businesses and churches. We made runs to the store for some of the people who couldn’t make the slippery journey safely on their own. We also agreed that we wouldn’t take any money for helping because this was a time for people to pull together and help one another, not to take advantage of one another. (I’m pretty sure we ate our weight in a variety of different home baked cookies and sweetbreads, however -)

When school resumed several guys were bragging about how much money they made shoveling snow. An immature piece of me felt like Doug and I missed out on an opportunity. We could have made some serious money if we had knocked on doors and negotiated a price for what we did, but we didn’t. Looking back on it, I realized that we gained something money could never buy. At a time when teenagers were often looked upon as a group of undisciplined rebels, we were able to show another side often unseen by other generations of adults. We did the right thing.

Fastforwarding to the present, there is no doubt that all of humanity has been collectively thrust into uncharted territory. It is scary mostly because we can’t see what we are up against. Unlike the boogeyman of our nightmares, this foe is real.

My question today is, what will this crisis reveal about you and me?

With the requirement that we isolate ourselves from one another, what can we do to help? Aside from following the recommendations of the medical experts and government officials, what else can we do?

Because this is nothing we have experienced before in our lifetimes it will require some out of the box thinking. But in order to allow the required creativity, ingenuity and uncommon ideas to flow, we must not allow ourselves to become paralyzed by fear or overwhelmed by stress. We must remain open minded and positive.

How do we remain cool, calm and collected during a world catastrophe?

For fun and in an attempt not to take ourselves too seriously, wife Amanda and I have followed Jason Kotecki and his wife at for many years. The website is full of great tools and ideas to help establish the state of mind needed to move through difficult times like these. On the website Jason’s book, “A Chance of Awesome” is featured. It is complete with thoughts, stories and artwork that helps to lighten your heart and open your mind. Take a look at the website and read his book.

There are plenty of other “feel good” resources with ideas and true stories about people just like you and me that have done extraordinary things or even simple things that have made an extraordinary impact in the lives of others.

In the coming days, I will continue to search out tools, stories, quotes and videos to share. As difficult as this thing is, I have faith that mankind will collectively solve the problem and that we will come out on the other side stronger and better having experienced it.

So I close with this question: What will this experience reveal about you?



PS – We took a long walk today. The mountain was out. Feeling gratitude.

We Got This

I haven’t written a post for a quite some time. My original thought was that I would write about my transition from work into retirement in hopes that by documenting my journey it might assist others in some small way. Having worked as an educator for my entire adult life, I found enormous meaning and the potential to make a difference through my work every day.

The truth is that the transition was much harder for me than I expected. I spent several months in an emotional space that required much more energy to work through than I expected. This reality turned out not to be the fertile ground needed to create quality posts.

As fate would have it, at almost exactly the same time that I regained my balance, we were hit with the COVID-19 pandemic. Horrible timing? Perhaps not. I know, if you are still reading this you’re probably saying, “what’s wrong with this guy?” Well, before you click away, please allow me to explain.

First: This crises is nothing like anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime. Yes its crazy, surreal, horrible and even catastrophic. As the days pass the reality sets in more firmly that we are in for a very bumpy ride.

Second: I believe we will overcome.

I am a fervent believer in human potential, resilience, spirit and will. When I was very young my dad wrote inspirational quotes on gold colored pieces of card stock, pinned them to a bulletin board in my bedroom and rotated them regularly. One such quote that I remember well is attributed to Napoleon Hill. He wrote, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” As a young boy my dad instilled in me the ideals that hard work, belief, a positive mental attitude and faith could overcome almost anything.

In the last decade I have visited more than 35 countries. I have been awed, enamored, overwhelmed, and impressed by many people that I have seen and met. I have learned to appreciate how history, cultures and circumstances effect each person’s world view. I have also witnessed that every human being shares with every other human being the capacity and need to love and be loved. Love is what binds us together.

Having more than several decades under my belt, I have also come to observe that Americans have shown amazing resiliency and a remarkable ability to come together in a crisis and overcome it.

So, I believe that my role now is is to write positive messages and send them out in hopes that the are helpful or inspirational to those who happen upon them. I will try to add positive messages very regularly during this time.

Additionally, if you come across any exceptional or noteworthy act of bravery, kindness or insight that you are willing to share, please add it in the comments.

Together we will beat this!