Friday, April 2, 2010


“He died for you.”

It may be one of the most unusual billboards I’d seen. A picture of a cute bunny rabbit filled about two-thirds of the left side of the billboard, with the words, “He died for you,” in bold red letters next to it.

At first I thought it was a message relating to cosmetic tests on animals. You know, when companies test their cosmetic products on animals to see what sort of damage, if any, results from using their products. I’d seen messages like that before, although not in a long time.

But there was no follow up text.

Oh well, whatever the message, I did enjoy seeing that bunny every morning.

This morning, the billboard had changed. The bunny had moved to the right side of the billboard, and the text had changed.

“And on the third day He rose for you.”

Thursday, April 1, 2010


It was my favorite pastime during the summer months. Sitting under the huge willow tree in the front yard and reading. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy hanging out with my best friends, or going to the park or the pool, or riding my bike all over the city. Of course I enjoyed those things. But there was something special about getting lost in a good story.

The Count of Monte Cristo.

Mysterious Island.

War and Peace. (Yes, that War and Peace and yes, I actually enjoyed it.)

They brought me to new lands, drew me into new experiences and deepened my love for good stories.

The years past, I grew up, and many things have changed.

I’ve lived in cities big and small from coast to coast and border to border. I’ve lived in houses and apartments, also big and small, some with yards and some “without” (the kind that belong to everyone and no one, including their dogs who for some reason believed that the best place to poop was wherever I wanted to relax).

I currently live in a nice home with a big yard. No huge willow tree but plenty of pines and a bevy of other trees and brush to keep me and the wildlife feeling relaxed on warm, sunny days.

Over the years, while my library still holds the old classics, mostly collecting dust on the top shelves, the new books dominate the eye-level shelves. Business and management, health and wellness, faith and spiritual growth crowd the hand-built, long wall-length library. Where once my collection was the catalyst for new ideas and deep creativity, it has become more oriented to communication processes, business improvement practices and inspirational albeit practical applications for “a better life.”

Gone was the wonder of my youth and the notion that I could do anything.

Until I opened an old favorite.

“Are we rising again?” it began.

“No. On the contrary.”

“Are we descending?”

“Worse than that, captain; we are falling!”

And suddenly I was back on my way to Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island.

Do yourself a favor.

Read a book.

Preferably something fiction. Something that renews your sense of marvel, curiosity and sensation.

Your mind and soul will appreciate the diversion from the sometimes harsh realities of life.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I recently heard a dietitian advising a group on some of the tricks for effective weight loss. Most of them were the standard, tried and true tips. Eat less. Watch portions. Move more. Like I said, the usual.

A women in the group asked a question. She said that sometimes when she’s feeling kind of down, she has a strong craving for something sweet and was there something the dietitian could suggest other than a gallon of ice cream with a quart of chocolate syrup and a can of whipped cream. (Personally, I thought the ice cream would work at satisfying the sweet craving, but then, I’m not a registered dietitian.)

Instead of suggesting something like a handful of berries, or maybe some yogurt, or even a bit of dark chocolate, she offered something I did not expect to hear.


Oh yes she did. She said beans. Or more specifically, garbanzo beans or lentils.

Ri-i-i-i-i-i-ight. Because when my brain is shouting “I WANT PEEPS” my hand is naturally going to reach for a can of beans or a bag of lentils.

She, of course, explained that when you consume sugar, you get that high-energy spike followed by that low-energy crash. But by consuming a complex carb instead, your blood sugar stays more level, subsequently avoiding the spike and crash effect.

Okay. That makes sense, if your intent is to maintain a more consistent blood sugar level. However, if you’re “craving” sugar, it's going to be real hard to convince your body that beans is “almost like sugar.”

That’s sort of like feeling you want a haircut so you go to the dentist and have a cavity filled. Yes, getting that tooth taken care of is good for you, but your desire for a haircut is still there.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against beans. In fact, I rather enjoy them. But I’m just not going to graze the garbanzos when I really want swallow the sweets.

So here’s my suggestion.

Go for the yogurt.

My personal choice is Chobani Greek Yogurt. The blueberry has no fat, no cholesterol, is low carb and high protein (as in 14 grams per serving). And it satisfies my sweet craving.

Besides, my brain gets confused enough as it is, without trying to convince it that beans are just like Peeps.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


She walked up to our table carrying three full plates of food on one arm and two plates of food on her other arm. She gently placed the first plate down and with a deft move that looked more magic than physics, slid, grabbed and placed the second plate on our table. With her free hand she quickly and gently placed the other three plates at our table.

She didn’t sweat. She didn’t struggle. She didn’t shake. But she did do it all with a smile and pleasant personality.

I marveled at her skill and told her so. I asked her how she did it.

“Balance and practice,” she said rather cheerily. “Nothing more than balance and practice.”

I thought a lot about what she said over the past few days. And how it so easily applies to those who seem to be generally happy and successful.

I know a lot of people who are very successful in their professions or avocations, but are miserable in their personal lives. They practice well those work and hobby things but are out of balance with their family and individual lives.

I also know a lot of people who seem happy with their personal choices, but are not doing so well in their careers. They make good decisions regarding balancing things in their lives, but do not practice much the things that would make them standouts in their field.

Ah, but those who seem happiest and most successful seem to have mastered the art of balance and practice. An art I intend to pursue more myself.

Monday, March 29, 2010


To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. Mark Twain

She was as fascinated by the illusion as I was by her fascination.

I showed her the stone I held in the palm in my hand. Then I closed it. I told her that I thought I could make the stone disappear by blowing on my hand. And so I blew. After about ten seconds, I opened my hand.

The stone was still there.

“It didn’t work, daddy,” she said.

“Hmmm,” I said thoughtfully. “Maybe you have the magic. Wanna try?”

“Yes,” she said, enthusiastically.

I showed her again the stone on my palm. Then I closed my hand into a fist. I told her to concentrate and believe that her breath could make the stone disappear. When she was ready, she blew on my closed fist.

“Do you think it’s gone,” I asked her.

“Yes,” she said rather definitively.

“Why,” I asked.

“Because I thought really hard.”

I opened my hand.

The stone was gone.

Her eyes grew wide as she took a quick breath in.

“It’s gone,” she shouted. “It’s gone. Did I make it go?”

“Well, it didn’t seem to work when I tried it by myself,” I said. “But it’s not there now after we did it together. What do you think?”

“I think we both made it go. Can we do it again?”

We found another stone. I made her try it on her own. She held the stone in her closed fist. Blew on it. Concentrated hard. And opened her hand. The stone was still there.

“It didn’t work, daddy,” she said with disappointment. “You try it.”

I took the stone. Held it in my fist. Blew on it. Concentrated hard and opened my hand. The stone was still there.

“It still didn’t work, daddy.”

“Let’s try it together again, okay?” I asked.

I held the stone in my fist. She blew on it and concentrated hard. When I opened my hand, the stone was gone.

“It’s gone,” she squealed with delight. “We did it together, daddy, and it worked.”

“You’re right. When we did it together, it worked.”

I don’t know if doing that trick with her when she was barely five years old had a lasting effect on our relationship, but I like to think it did.

We've worked together on many things through the years and I often remember her joyful squeal, “We did it together, daddy.”

We did it together.