Fear seeks safety. Love seeks Truth. Please read and enjoy. Productive, truthful feedback welcome.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

I Look Good in Blue

I Look Good in Blue
(Words Have Power)

I look good in blue.

How do I know?
That’s what people have told me.
That’s how.

If they told me I looked good in red, then most of my shirts would likely be red.

If they told me I looked good in a plaid jumper and a bowler hat . . . let’s not even go there.

The point is, as much as I like to think I am more independent, I am influenced by what others say, by their words.

Words have power over me, including their influence over what color I wear.

If the power of words ended there, this post would end here and we’d each walk around confident in our own stripe of the rainbow.

But it doesn’t, does it? We all know words carry power beyond our wardrobe. We all know words have power to harm and power to heal. Power to motivate and power to cripple.

Let me give an actual example.
I have taught 8th graders in a public school for years. Early in my career, I had the worst class ever. I used my words and I told them so.

You guys are the worst class I have ever had.

Guess what.
They believed me.
They spent the rest of the year proving me right. It was a long year.

A couple of years later, I had another worst class ever. This time I used different words. This time I told the class, I think you guys can become one of the best classes I have ever had. I love how you are free to discuss things. I love your curiosity. I love that you question status quo.

Guess what.
They believed me.
They spent the rest of the year proving me right.
They became one of my best classes. The year went much more smoothly.

Words matter.
Words have power.

Let’s find the good words.

Thank you for reading.


CHECK OUT The Bottom Turtle ~For musings from Dave on how to Love More and Judge Less link to his new book.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Time to Dance

Have you ever watched eagles dancing in the sky? Soaring and dipping, or effortlessly gliding atop the thermals. Or followed as leaves prance on the invisible fingers of a breeze, spirited upwards by autumn winds.

Both are beautiful spectacles, beautiful dances, ordained by nature.

Today I watched a different dance. I was the accidental spectator of a woman whose dance was every bit as beautiful. So much so, I found myself unable to turn my eyes away. My heart was drawn as much towards the woman as to her dance. I was struck by her commitment to it, her devotion to moving through it precisely, determined to move through each part as gracefully and effectively as she could.

This dance unfolded across the street and right in front of me. I had time. Our large storefront windows were the open curtains to her stage which only moments before served as a parking lot.

She didn’t soar, or dip, as the eagles had. And unlike the leaves, she didn’t prance or float. Rather she moved with a learned agreement between certainty and caution.

Her driver’s door opened but she didn’t get out. Not right away. Not like you and I would have. We would have hopped out, shut the door, aimed the “lock” button and been headed inside before the chirp faded from the lot. Our dance would have been over before it began. None would have noticed. None would have cared.

But today, without understanding why, I cared. I cared about her dance.

She sat. For a second. Then with her hands, she pivoted and ushered her legs out the door, letting her feet land, puppet like, on the pavement. The next move was magnificent. She reached and twisted around to her left to place her hands on the door post, then on the passenger window. Still moving purposefully, she hand-walked her way up the side window to grant her feet room to shuffle back under her for support. The dance continued with the dancer retrieving a prop from the backseat. The two of them began moving in concert; a lift here, a pull there, a familiar reliance on each other until, snap, the prop was in place.

Pausing for only the blink of a breath, the dance moved onto its next act. Dancer and prop shuffled in practiced syncopation to close the back door, retrieve some items from the front, relocate her feet, then dance their way towards the door of the office.

Remember our leaf. Picture it now as it lifts into the air from a quick gust of wind, dances a bit, then hangs there for just a moment. Simultaneously it gives us pause and takes our breath away; lingering no longer than necessary before spinning back into its windswept dance and then away, out of sight.

Such was her final scene. Rolling her prop forward, she’d pause long enough for her feet to catch up. Another roll, another pause, another shuffle-step closer. Repeat. Roll. Shuffle. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat again. And again. Steadily, with practiced steps of habit, and a grace borne of determination, she danced her way toward the door.

Finding no ramp, she negotiated a curb, then a step. The dancer, pushing her walker, reached the door.

This was her beauty. The dance. The movement she performs dozens of times everyday, countless times over a lifetime.  At home. Getting ready. At work. With family. Out with friends. She has time because she makes time. She makes time because she needs time.

And that’s when I saw it! That’s when I understood why her dance mesmerized me so. It was about TIME. She did NOT need time. She was unconcerned with time. She was not bound by time. In her movements, there was no rush. There was no hurry. There was no urgency of time.

Like the eagles and the leaves, she simply moved with her body as nature prescribed; patiently, attentively, presently. This was her beauty. Her absence of hurry. Her model of contentment, literally taking one step at a time, honoring the step, ignoring the time; just like the eagles, soaring, because that's what nature asks of them; just like the leaf, prancing, because that’s what the wind asks of it.

Unaware of my gaze, she achieved the pinnacle of her dance before me; the top step and an open door. Someone had come to assist her, to hold the door. Warmly placing a hand on her back, she guided the dancer and her walker into the building. The door closed just before the curtain of my tears brought this act to a close.

The only time she needed was the Time to Dance.


CHECK OUT The Bottom Turtle ~For musings from Dave on how to Love More and Judge Less link to his new book.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

. . . but words can never hurt me.

At the 2013 Boston Marathon, which represents lives of discipline and commitment to a worthy goal, a bomb punctuated the finish line with shrapnel and a message of hate. A blast devoid of love, proclaiming utter contempt for life.

For a bomb most assuredly results in death. It spreads like a cancer sucking life from anything it touches. An eye here, a limb there, a loved one no more. There is no possible positive outcome of a bomb. Only destruction.

To command such immediate and visible destruction, a bomb demands a big stage. It is an impressive tool of death, but it does not stand alone. Sadly, there are other tools just as insidious, just as crippling. Other tools, on a much smaller stage, which convey the message of hate just as effectively.  

One such tool is gossip. Gossip is a bomb of poison, with its shrapnel of words spreading like a cancer, sucking life from those it touches. There is no possible positive outcome of gossip. Only destruction.

But we have a choice.

Our choice is either one of love or one of hate.  There is no middle ground. If we choose love, we choose life. If we choose hate, we choose death. Our influence of love may not have stopped the Boston bombing, but our touch of love can certainly stop the spread of gossip.

The bomber and the gossip are the same; they both sow seeds of destruction. Only the stage is different.

Do we choose love or do we choose hate?
Do we choose life or do we choose death?

Our words will tell.

Friday, May 25, 2018

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Have you ever had a great idea, something that seemed like a good idea at the time, an idea where “trust me” was the bridge between thought and action?

I had one such moment when I was a kid, about age ten or eleven. I was pretty good when it came to passing, shooting, hitting, bouncing, or kicking any of the variety of balls each sport had to offer.

One of my talents was drop kicking a football. This is like kicking a football when someone props it upright on the ground, except nobody is holding it. You actually drop the ball point down and kick it the moment it touches the ground. If timed perfectly, a kid could drop kick the ball 20 yards or so and about 10 feet high. And I was good at it, which also meant I was confident I could kick it that way at will.

Enter my little sister, Nancy. For those who don’t know Nancy, simply picture any eager little sister about the age of six. (As an aside, Nancy was quite an athlete. She caught on quickly to all kinds of sports and as such was open to try new things. This usually worked out well for both of us.) Anyway, she and I would go outside and play all kinds of games together. Shoot hoops, hit and field grounders, toss the football . . . you get the idea.

And it was when we were tossing the football that I got my idea. I decided to teach her how to drop kick the football.

I began by showing her how I could kick the ball across the yard. After a few perfect kicks, it is safe to say she was impressed. One thing led to another and, bolstered by her admiration and emboldened by my confidence, I told her I could drop kick the ball over her head.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

However, being 10 years old and male didn’t afford me much foresight. And being a 6-year old little sister enamored by her big brother didn’t afford her much occasion for doubt. This was not a good combination. I lined Nancy up with the expected flight of the ball, stepped back, and made a perfect drop kick. Well, it would have been perfect, had her face not blocked it. (I would learn more about trajectory many years later in Physics.)

To Nancy’s credit, when I asked her to back up a bit and give it another go, she declined.

The moral? Perhaps it is, whether our ideas succeed or flop, life’s rich stories come from acting upon them.

*Photo from https://www.leapfrog.com/en-us/app-center/p/kick-the-football-charlie-brown/_/A-prod59941-96914