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Learning to Risk. Risking to Learn.

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VISIT

Imagination’s Move

07/01/2015

The sirens were screaming. Cars were zigging and zagging. We didn’t know if we were moving towards safety or moving into more trouble.

We pedaled harder. Faster.

To our right, a child skipping along the sidewalk with her pregnant mother close behind. To our left, a park with couples sitting, walking, kissing. Ahead of us, the open road and a slew of split decisions to be made.

She passed me to my right and nodded – nudging me to keep up.

The sirens finally caught up to us…and then, sped past us. It was simply a passing ambulance.
But the idea that we were being chased for some felony made us turn into imaginary James Bond figures for the evening.

As we rode to our destination, we took up the entire lane at times, glancing at the city as our playground and our home.

At dinner, we plopped into our seats – exhausted from the chase – and began to share stories of our recent adventures. Another busy day had passed.

Your imagination will move as fast as you let it. It will take you to wonderful places, no matter the day or the situation.

Let it move. And let yourself move with it.

Forgetting where you came from…

06/24/2015

I moved nine times while growing up – all throughout the Midwest.

Once, when my family was packing to move from Poplar Bluff Missouri to Monett Missouri, I snuck out of the house and ran to find a place to hide so I wouldn’t have to move again.

I ran to Brett’s house.

Brett was my best friend at the time. His home felt like my home. I knew the smells. I knew where the light switches were. I knew where to step so the floors wouldn’t creek. I knew the best hiding places.

My parents eventually came and found me. I hugged Brett and told him that I’d never forget him…that I’d come back to visit.

I dragged my feet as I walked to the car and stared at the picturesque two-story home for as long as possible as we drove away.

It was life before cell phones and email. Brett and I shared one or two (landline) calls, and a letter, but I never visited Poplar Bluff, or Brett’s home again. Eventually, I forgot it entirely; until I went to write this note.

Forgetting Poplar Bluff made room for other things, other memories, other relationships.

But, what I can’t forget is how I felt riding our bikes through the neighborhoods, making ramps with logs and plywood, learning to skip rocks, and being a pair of curious boys full of imagination. I can’t forget what that experience made me become today because there are countless threads intertwining and leading me back to those moments.

You may not remember every detail from where you’ve been. But, trace your steps often enough to recall the moments that shaped you.

Being reminded of your past will show you how much you’ve changed or maybe how you’re exactly the same. Let those stories be a familiar aroma, a catchy tune, a reminiscent image…

…just enough to point you in the right direction today.

 

Make it better

06/17/2015

I went to high school in a small town in Southwest Missouri. The three major sports were basketball, baseball, and football. Our soccer program was small, but a friend invited me to try out for the team and I fell in love with the sport.

There were few resources for the program. We had decent gear, but our fields were rough because the football players had first dibs for practices. We always had to fight for our place.

Thankfully, I had a great coach who was both stern and kind. Once, when we were complaining about our practice field, he quickly hushed us and said, “This is your field too. If you don’t like it, make it better.

Something clicked and we started doing just that. We put cones around spots that needed new grass. We zip-tied the holes in the net. We spruced up the bleachers before games. None of it was radical, but that field became ours.

I know it’s popular to speak negatively about our cities, homes, countries, etc. Some things just need a good rant; but, complaining will rarely fix things.

If you don’t like it, use what you have to do what you can.

Make it better.

Thirty

06/10/2015

A few years ago, I began using birthdays as a reminder to share key lessons from the previous twelve months. It’s been a practice of reflection and organizing thoughts. This list took a bit more time. Turning thirty seems to be one of life’s bold punctuations.

It would take too many words to capture everything, but these are a few things I wanted to remember:

  1. Hope and fear are equally powerful. The only person who decides which to focus upon, is you.
  2. Look into someone’s eyes more than you look at a screen.
  3. Your body isn’t replaceable. Treat it as such.
  4. You should fight for your family more than you fight with your family.
  5. Love people quickly. Fall in love slowly.
  6. Your work is only as good as your rest.
  7. Home is found where you have memories and you can be yourself. It should have little to do with material things.
  8. Just because the world is at war doesn’t mean we have to be.
  9. The most creative thing you can do, is play.
  10. Commitment breeds passion. It rarely works the other way.
  11. Great stories come from pursuing audacious ideas, not just thinking about them.
  12. Bitterness is rarely about someone or something else. You can let it go. And, in most cases, you should.
  13. Never skimp on anything between you and the ground. This includes shoes, mattresses, and tires.
  14. Sometimes, you think you will have found a shortcut for healthy eating, exercise and sleep. Chances are, you’re wrong.
  15. A few nice things are better than a lot of mediocre things.
  16. A lot of nice things dilutes the value of the most important things.
  17. Travel just enough to know how small you are and how much of a privilege it is.
  18. Takers make it to the top, but so do givers. The difference is who’s with you when you arrive and what you’ll leave behind.
  19. Don’t take yourself too seriously. In the grand scheme of things, it’s going to be ok. Enjoy these days.
  20. Inspiration doesn’t last. When it strikes, act quickly.
  21. Never make big decisions when you’re tired or alone.
  22. No one cares about your work as much as you do. This is both sobering and empowering.
  23. You don’t need more to do what you must. You probably need less.
  24. Find a couple of outfits you like. Make them your uniform. But, find one unique thing you can change that provides a dose of creativity & delight (socks, sneakers, watches, glasses, etc)
  25. Find something you like to make. Make it often. Then, throw everything away that’s not remarkable.
  26. Always have live flowers or plants in your living space. Remember, you’re not the only thing alive.
  27. Emails should rarely be more than five sentences. Everyone has better things to do than read or write more email.
  28. Comparison isn’t all bad. Just make sure you’re comparing to the right things.
  29. It’s helpful to remember people aren’t perfect. This means every interaction with a person will either make life better or worse for both of you.
  30. Your ability and willingness to reflect on the past will directly impact your ability and willingness to envision the future.

Here’s to growing older…and, hopefully, growing wiser.

Work hard. Leave work.

06/03/2015

You can work extra hours.
You can try to keep atop every email and request.
You can attempt to make everyone feel valued and try to leave a trail of goodness wherever you go.
You can give of yourself until you have nothing else to give.

But, the unfortunate reality, is that you will mess up. You will fail. You will disappoint.
If you accept this now, you’ll pace yourself.

When you wonder about putting in extra hours, you’ll do your best within a reasonable timeframe and then simply close the screen.

When you receive another invitation for a late night drink or an early morning breakfast, you’ll politely decline so you can write another poem or go for a longer bike ride or read a book over a cup of coffee.

When an interesting opportunity surfaces, you’ll find the simplest way to explore it and pass on anything that’s not directly related to your goals.

It will feel selfish or underachieving. But, it’s not. It’s you saving yourself for your best work. And giving the world your very best work is the most unselfish thing you could do.

Know when to work hard and know when to leave work.

Collaboration

05/27/2015

Collaboration is messy.
The more you try to work with people, the more opportunity there is for challenge and change – frustration and failure.

But, that’s not all collaboration is.

It’s surprising.

If you thoughtfully invite others into your work or step into their world, you’ll find yourself amidst a land full of opportunities. New eyes, extra hands, and fresh legs will help you see and do things you wouldn’t have imagined.

The danger lies in what humans do when they’re desperate, left out, or belittled. If you care for the people around you and value them, then collaboration has the potential to build the most beautiful things in a manner that will outlast everyone involved.

Perhaps, we shouldn’t just look for the work we’re passionate to do or the roles we’re excited to fill, but rather, we should search for the people we want to work with and simply find ways to join or invite them.

It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.

Questions

05/20/2015

What if I told you that you would never have to work again? Would you cheer or would you be sad?

Let’s say money was no object and home was offered to you, what would you make? Where would you go?

What if I invited you on grand adventures and promised nothing more than interesting stories and a fortune of friendship? Would you join me?

What if I told you that your dreams would take years to build, would you stick with them?

If I said that someone would fall in love with you as soon as you truly loved yourself, how long would it take for you to stop trying so hard?

If I shared the secret to happiness would you believe it to be true or just find a way to prove me wrong?

What if I offered you a glimpse of the end of your life, would you look or pass? Would you embrace today more fully and enjoy what matters more freely?

What if you had the opportunity to see the world at the cost of never seeing yourself again? Would you consider it?

And, if the world seemingly denied what you had to offer, would you still share it?

I hope so…

I am Human

05/13/2015

I am Human.
I have heart.
I contain soul.
I carry fear.
I mirror imperfection.
I bury yesterday.
I paint tomorrow.

I am Human.
I live for connection.
I wish for acceptance.
I hunt for love.
I die for belief.
I impress for affection.
I strive for justice.

I am Human.
I savor taste.
I crave rest.
I remember aromas.
I sing with hope.
I reach for the future.
I listen to the past.

I am Human.
I hope to create.
I build to provide.
I share to enjoy.
I give to feel.
I work to become.
I love to see.

I am Human.

Just climb the wall

05/06/2015

Over the past few months, I’ve ventured to a new place for recreation: the climbing gym.

It’s an intimidating place. The walls are tall. The holds are oddly shaped. The challenges are endless. And everyone is beautiful, strong, and cool.

It’s the type of place that makes me very aware of how much I have yet to learn.

The walls are rated at 5.x.
5.5 is the easiest. 5.15 is the most challenging.
The bouldering rating system is slightly different. V0 is the easiest. V9 is the most challenging.

The ratings escalate partly due to the decreasing size of the holds; but mainly, they signify the level of problems one must solve while trying to reach the top.

It’s interesting to consider that someone created the route knowing precisely what moves are necessary to reach the top. You can stare at the route all you want, but until you’re in the middle of the problem, you won’t know how to navigate it. And, while you’re struggling through it, the person who created it may be watching and chuckling down below.

[Thanks Mr. Smart-Buff-Rock-Climbing Person. Hope you’ve enjoyed the view.]

If you’re bouldering, you’ll simply fall to the mat – sometimes a long distance.
And, if you’re top roping with someone acting as your belay, you’ll dangle as the problem stares you in the face and everyone stares at your backside.

It’s a thrill.

I enjoy feeling like I’m in another world, learning new techniques, and trying to clear new challenges. There is great joy in watching other people succeed. I’m challenged to work harder and smarter. But, the greatest challenge is moving past what I can’t do. Yes, I wish I was stronger, more agile, and I wish I could be more calm when routes get difficult.

But, more than anything, I wish I didn’t wish so much. I just want to climb the wall. That’s when it’s the most fun and I do my best work.

Don’t worry so much about everyone else’s abilities and expectations.
Start with what you have and do what you can.

Then, keep climbing.

Build All Ways

04/29/2015

Build because you can
Build because you should
Build because the world is grand
Build because it’s also good

Build to the sky
Build to the moon
Build so so high
you can touch neptune

Build with love
Build with care
Build to show
Your heart’s share

Build slowly
Build like it matters
Build boldly
Or it’s just clatter

Build with hope
Build for days
Despite the slope
Build all ways

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