Lifestyle Design

Why You Should Be a Hoarder

hoard-memories

I’ve known since the day Lucy was born that I was going to cry on her wedding day. (An ugly cry, too.) I’d rather cry in gratitude over all the cool memories we created than in regret over the things I missed out on.

Recently, Kim and I enjoyed a nice campfire chat with my family about what’s “next” for everyone. Discussion covered things like new homes, new renovations, and new additions to the family. At one point, we were asked, “So when are you guys getting your next house?”

We were taken a bit off guard by the question. Was something wrong with our current house? We mumbled something about debt we had to pay off first. Although that was true, it wasn’t the whole truth.

On our list of priorities, buying a bigger house or acquiring more stuff really isn’t that high. Yes, we would eventually like to own a beautiful home on a lake with a wraparound porch and a big stone fireplace. But our main priority is to stockpile memories. Rather than fill our home with stuff, we’d rather fill our life with adventures.

It seems that everyone hoards something. Some people hoard stuff. Some people hoard money.

We are memory hoarders. [Read more...]

Is Struggle a Sign That You’re Doing Life Wrong?

hang-in-thereSometimes I look at my kids and see beauty. I marvel at the sparkle in their eyes and the sweetness of their smiles. I am overwhelmed by gratitude and joy, awestruck by how amazing they are and humbled to be entrusted with their wellbeing.

Other times I seriously consider the ramifications of dropping them off at the mall and driving to Miami, never to return. I have lamented the fact that were I to launch myself through a window of my home, none of them are far enough from the ground to cause fatal damage. More times than not, I am flabbergasted by how frustrating parenting can be.

I worry that word will get out that I struggle with Adultitis just like everyone else. That my life is not a Pinterest board come to life. That living in our house is nothing like living in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

I wonder what I’m doing wrong.

I suppose the reason I think I’m doing anything wrong at all is because I live in a society that preaches comfort and convenience. We are an impatient lot, what with the answer to seemingly every problem a click away. To struggle is to sin if you’ve got an easy solution available for just $49.99.

We’ve been sold on the idea that life should be easy, and if it’s not, we’re doing it wrong.

What a crock.

You know what’s easy? Doing what everyone else is doing. Giving up at the first sign of adversity. Abandoning a marriage instead of doing the messy work of making it better. Drinking or flushing our problems away when the consequences of our actions become too hard. Abdicating our parenting responsibilities to someone else. Living by rules that don’t exist.

Know what’s hard? Being intentional about every choice you make. Asking tough questions. Saying no to good things so you can say yes to better things, even if that means disappointing people. Staying in the moment with the people you love. Not rushing off to chase the next big thing. Being persistent after the first, second, and seventy-seventh failure. Breaking the rules that don’t exist.

It’s not a bad thing to strive to improve our circumstances in life, but it’s in the struggle where we grow. It’s a sign that we’re alive, actively engaged in our story.

Doing parenting (and life, for that matter) wrong is as easy as it gets.

Doing it right just might be the hardest job on the face of the earth.

Taking the easy route is by far the most comfortable. It also leads to a story that really sucks. And the worst part is that you often don’t realize it until the end credits start to roll.

No one’s life is as good as the one they curate on Facebook. No one spends all their free time doing all the cool stuff they see on Pinterest. No one has it all figured out.

But the ones who are living amazing stories are the ones who are brave enough to persist through the struggle. To practice being more patient and intentional and brave and fun and loving, even when they just failed at all five in the last seven minutes.

Be the one who refuses to settle for the safe and easy life. Living a great story is hard as hell.

And worth every bit of the effort.

The Most Important Thing To Remember About Your Story

not-sunk-yet

Many people come up to me after my speaking programs and say, “I wish I would’ve heard you when my kids were young.” There is sadness and regret over what are perceived as missed opportunities and memories lost.

I get it. One of the reasons I do what I do is to make sure people have as few “if onlys” as possible. But you can’t sail to the bright future in front of you when you’re anchored to the “if onlys” of the past.

I’ve seen movies that start slow, barely holding my attention. There’s not a lot going on. It’s unremarkable. But sometimes there is a spark, a turning point that takes place that catapults the story into a thrilling new direction. Suddenly I’m completely engaged, drawn into the story and excited to see how it ends.

Life can be like that. We get caught up in the river of rules and expectations set forth by others and the current pulls us in a predictable direction. It’s safe and plain and comfortable, with nothing too exciting going on.

But sometimes there is a spark, a moment that jolts us into a new way of thinking and an opportunity for a fresh start.

We all have backstories. Dark times, skeletons in our closet, or even just the regretful ache of time wasted. If we could go back in time, I’m sure everyone would have at least something they’d like to do differently. Until we can figure out how to really bend time with Delorians going 88 miles per hour, that is a pipe dream. Feel sad, sure, but use that sadness to fuel a change. See that spark as the gift that it is: an opportunity — and an obligation! — to do better right now.

Despite the missteps or missed opportunities you’ve experienced, know this: the credits have not yet rolled. You are not finished.

You can’t change the beginning of your story, but you can change the ending.

If you are still breathing, there is still story to be told.

20 Tiny Ways to Make Life More Amazing

tinker-book Our lives are stories. Sometimes living a better story requires making a big, hairy, scary change. Like moving across the country or taking a huge pay cut to do what you love. But most of the time we just need to be open to the art of tinkering.

I am super excited to announce a fun side project I’d been working on for an exciting new company called Snippet. They are doing some cool things in the publishing arena and have built a platform with tools that encourage writers to engage and delight their readers with a beautiful, connected experience.

The first of what I hope will be many collaborations with them is a Snippet about tinkering. It features 20 simple ideas – small experiments, if you will – that will get you thinking in new ways and get your story moving in exciting new directions. It also contains lots of interactive “discoverables” like video, photo slideshows and conversations on social media.

I love how it turned out; it’s super cool. And it’s only $1.99.

If you’re serious about improving your story, you should get serious about tinkering. Download it here.

What I Did Instead of Painting My Deck

chalk-deck

This is what my deck looks like right now. This is the worst of it, but there’s little bits of chipped paint everywhere. I was hoping to touch it all up before our Annual Summer Framily Cookout.

Which is today.

I’m pretty particular about keeping things tidy and taking care of my stuff, and it really bothers me that it’s not done. Alas, it’s been a busy week, and there were too many other things of higher priority. I could have snuck it in last night, but that would have meant not being able to go to the park with my kids on such a beautiful day. I figured that was more important than what other people might think about my deck.

We are all faced with choices like this every day. Sometimes a clean house, a fixed squeak, or a small home improvement goes a long way towards one’s sanity. Sometimes it’s a trap Adultitis uses to keep us distracted and focused on the wrong things.

I don’t always make the right choice, but on this day at least, I think I did.

Plus then I had time to make this:

YouTube Preview Image

Have You Undergone a Freedomectomy?

freedom

I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier recently. It’s a great movie, even if you aren’t a superhero nerd, like me. The most chilling aspect for me was a scene in which one of the bad guys talked how history had taught them that people will not allow their freedom to be taken by force. They will rise up and resist. However, those same people will gladly give up their freedom in exchange for security. They passively allow themselves to be searched, monitored, and recorded so that they will be protected from danger. Of course, the people doing the searching, monitoring and recording end up having total control.

Just a movie, I know, but it hits a little close to home.

Lots of people willingly undergo a freedomectomy in exchange for the security of a guaranteed paycheck and health benefits, or the feeling that they are safe from the bad guys. They give up years of their life to be trained for jobs in industries that may not exist by the time they graduate. They give up slivers of privacy and freedom of choice in exchange for the flowery promises of government programs.

I love that Captain America places such a high value on freedom, which is what this country was built on. It’s one of the most important values in my whole life. Here are some of the freedoms I hold most dear.

  • Freedom to work with my best friend.
  • Freedom from corporate bureaucracy. (And meetings!)
  • Freedom from a schedule set forth by school boards.
  • Freedom from a commute.
  • Freedom to spend most of my time doing what I love.
  • Freedom to be my own boss and set my own hours.
  • Freedom to work in my pajamas.
  • Freedom to make Monday and Tuesday my weekend if I want to.
  • Freedom to fail. (A gift that not many parents give their kids, by the way.)
  • Freedom to benefit fully from the fruits of my success.

As Captain America would tell you, freedom does not come easily. Some of the freedoms listed above were achieved by many years of hard work and sacrifice. Others came from making tough decisions to go against the grain, breaking a few rules that don’t exist, and being willing to fail (and look stupid in doing so).

The freedoms above fall under the umbrella of my most treasured freedom, which is the opportunity to write my own story. Obviously, the way you choose to write you story may look way different than mine, and that’s cool.

The important thing is being mindful of living the story YOU want to live.

We all have choices (and usually more than we think). Every choice — where you live, where you work, what you eat, who you hang out with, how you react to difficult situations, how you spend your money or even your Friday nights — contributes to your story. Following the crowd, or doing the things you feel like you “should” do or are “supposed” to do, are often the equivalent of giving up your freedom in exchange for security. Sometimes we feel more secure being in a boat with everyone else rather than being on an island by ourselves, even if that boat happens to be sinking.

The problem is that with each freedom you surrender, your story sucks a little bit more.

The freedom to write your own story is an amazing gift. Are you fighting for it? More importantly, are you using it?

12 Big Ideas About Homeschooling from Penelope Trunk

natural-learners

By some standards, Kim and I are at the beginning stages of homeschooling. On the other hand, if you subscribe to the belief that homeschooling begins at birth, then we’ve been at it for over five years. Either way, we are still in the stage of learning as much about it as we can. There are so many different styles of homeschooling, so many misconceptions about it, so much philosophy of how human beings actually learn, and so much history that led us to the educational system we have today.

It’s endlessly fascinating to us both. We regularly find ourselves deep down rabbit holes, voraciously exploring books and blogs on the subject and excitedly emailing each other links to gems we’ve uncovered. At times it feels a bit obsessive, but when I pause to remember that this is all about our kids’ education and future, I wonder why this kind of “obsessiveness” is not actually the norm.

Amidst all of the digging, some personal beliefs have grown more ironclad, while other times I’ve been surprised to find myself doing a complete about-face on some opinions I held pretty strongly just six months ago.

penelope-trunkOne of my latest rabbit holes has been Penelope Trunk’s blog on education. Kim and I interviewed her several years ago on how to avoid being overworked. We knew she was an expert at giving out career advice, but had missed the fact that she pulled her kids out of school to homeschool them.

What I love about Penelope is her deep vulnerability and ruthless honesty. She is not afraid to say things other people won’t. That’s how I’d like to be. I don’t agree with her on everything (if I did that would be kind of creepy), but I love how her writing affirms some of our decisions but also challenges me to question what I believe. Plus, she links to a lot of great research, creating even more rabbit holes to explore!

Below I’ve included links to some of my favorite posts of hers, with pull quotes from each that either challenged me, surprised me, or had me standing up and shouting, “Amen, sister!”

To be honest, I debated a bit about posting some of these, for fear that people will think I’m trying to “covert” them. Believe me, I don’t have the energy for such a crusade, and I have learned in my adventures as a professional speaker that it’s pretty impossible to change anybody else but myself anyway. But I do believe that sharing interesting stuff is a gift. Like Penelope’s writing does for me, it can either affirm what you already believe or challenge you to see things from a new perspective. Either way, it’s a gift.

So without further ado, here’s Penelope…

4 Reasons you don’t need to be a teacher to homeschool
“Education reformers widely agree that self-directed learning is best for kids. Teachers cannot do self-directed learning in a classroom. We can’t afford that in this country. We’d have to have a single teacher for every four students. Which means that teachers can’t facilitate self-directed learning.”

Mainstream media is delusional about homeschooling
“Only 38% of all homeschoolers choose it for religious reasons. (And this includes the Lutherans, Hindus, Jews, etc.) But the majority are middle class parents just trying to get their kids out of a broken system.

Most parents will not be good teachers. But the reality is that kids don’t need their parents to be teachers. Kids need their parents to be parents. And kids are born as natural learners. They don’t need a teacher to make them a learner.

So the way homeschooling works is that kids are home, learning, and parents are there for support. Kids need tools, or suggestions for how to get what they need, and parents are there to do that. Self-directed learning requires an adult to be very present, but not very intrusive. It’s why self-directed learning works great at home, and is nearly impossible at school.” [Read more...]

What If Money Were No Object?

“Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.” –Alan Watts

It’s overly simplistic to say that all you need to do to be successful is to “follow your passion.” It’s and important factor, but not the only one.

However.

Money is a powerful force. Our view of it and need for it impacts our decision making in many — often subconscious — ways. One good way to make sure you’re on track for living a great story is to ask yourself, “What would you be doing if money were no object?”

How would you spend your time? What would be the first thing you did each day? What would be the last thing?

If your story seems to be stalled in neutral, sometimes taking money out of the equation can be a great way to get yourself in gear.

Life Is Bandwidth

Art by Hugh MacLeod

Art by Hugh MacLeod

From Hugh:

There are only so many hours in the day. There’s only so much one tiny, 3-pound collection of human neurons can handle. There’s only so much outside world you can afford to cram down your pipes. So don’t overload your system. Choose carefully.

It’s only after you stop trying to do everything, that you really start getting anything done. Exactly.

Life balance is a really tricky concept, because everybody seems to have a different definition of what it means. I do know one thing: you might be able have anything you want, but you certainly can’t have everything you want.

If a great life balance is achievable, it’s only by making great choices.

Virginia’s Birth Story

virginia-rose-blog

Jason and I are officially outnumbered! It has been a wonderful blessing getting to know our little Ginny Rose these last three months. I’d be lying if I said it’s been all rainbows and lollipops. Sleep deprivation combined with the winter blues is a bad combination. I’ll admit to having Googled at one point, “How do you know if your baby has colic?” The biggest disadvantage little Ginny had coming into this family is that she followed Ben, who was officially declared “The Most Chill Baby of 2012.” Seriously though, Jason and I agree that he probably cried a total of an hour during his first year of life. Ginny is more “normal,” I believe.

ginny-lucy

The biggest joys come from watching Lucy and Ben eat her up with love and affection. Lucy’s prayers of having a little sister were answered and she is 110% smitten. Ben took a little longer to warm up. He thought she was nice, but she did bump him into middle child status. Needless to say, “DaddyBen” was a real person the first month after Ginny’s arrival. Ben did not leave his father’s lap for the entire month! Poor Jason was dealing with a postpartum wife (with a cold), a newborn, AND a two-year-old who would not leave his side. I have an AWESOME husband who is also the most wonderfully patient and loving Dad!

ben-new-sister-600

When we posted the story of Ben’s home birth two years ago, I was surprised how many birth junkies we have out there. The story of Ginny’s birth is a really neat one which I am honored to share… [Read more...]

Everyone Else

Leaf Peer Pressure by Jason Kotecki

Leaf Peer Pressure by Jason Kotecki


Tarzan 2 is terrible compared to the first one with the Phil Collins soundtrack. At least that’s what Kim said after half-watching it with the kids while I was on the road.

I know, I’m just as surprised to hear that as you.

You know what separates the Oscar-winning movies from the ones that go straight to DVD? The ones that win awards are telling stories we haven’t seen before. Throughout the entire process — from the screenwriter to the producer to the casting director to the cinematographer to the director to the cast — everyone has the opportunity to do things the way they’ve always been done or to take a different tack.

Not different for the sake of different, mind you. Movies that are different for the sake of different may play well in art houses, but they’re mostly just…weird. It’s usually better to shoot for different for the sake of better.

When it comes to the story of your life, you’re wearing all the creative hats. You decide how you spend your time, your money and your energy. You get to pick your friends, your attitude, and where you live. Your dreams, your traditions, and your beliefs? You own those as well.

This may go without saying, but your story sucks a little more with every choice you make that’s just like everyone else.


[ About the Art: This piece gets its inspiration from a baby moon trip Kim and I recently took to Rhode Island. We visited an art gallery in Newport and there was a big painting I liked that featured some falling leaves on a stark background. It stuck with me. I'm sure my recent stint of raking leaves may have had something to do with it as well. If you look closely, you'll also see an organic leaf texture incorporated into the background. ]

Poor Monday

Mondays-dont-suck

Monday wishes he was Wednesday. He has giant posters of Saturday on his bedroom wall. Everybody turns the other way when they see Monday walking down the hall.

Poor Monday.

I used to suffer from a condition known as Sunday Night Dread, that sinking feeling you get when the freedom of the weekend is gasping its last breath. I used to think Monday was the worst.

And then I realized that Monday is just a patsy.

It’s convenient to throw Monday under the bus when we’re unhappy about how our story is going. I propose that we quit picking on Monday and try a different tack. Here are a few options.

1) Change your job.
LIfe is too short to be stuck in a job you hate, or even one you only kind of like. Find one that makes you excited to get up in the morning, eager to share your gifts and tackle the challenges in front of you. Of course, this is not something you can magically wave a magic wand to achieve. It’s not recommended to up and quit a crappy job without a plan, for in almost all cases, a crappy job is better than no job. What you CAN do is make a plan. Figure out what might be a better fit, and start taking baby steps to get there. It might involve taking some night classes. Or getting up an hour early to send out resumes. Or building that website for your new part-time business. The Mondays in your immediate future may not be too appealing, but at least you’ll know you’re not resigned to a lifetime of them.

2) Change your attitude.
There is no perfect job. Even though I don’t dread Mondays anymore, not every part of my job is peachy keen. But I focus on the good stuff, which far outweighs the bad stuff. If you are honestly in a job that is a good fit for you and that you actually enjoy — but still dislike Mondays — perhaps you can try on a new perspective. List out all of the things you love about your job and focus on those instead of the negatives.

If you’re bored with your current job, maybe it’s time to initiate a new project that excites you. It will give you a new spark and sense of purpose (and will probably impress your boss.)

Getting your story to the point where Mondays don’t suck is not easy. But it is doable. It just takes a bit of honesty, a plan, some hard work, and maybe a new attitude, all of which are things you can do, starting today.

Monday has been bullied enough, don’t you think?

Pardon the Mess

messy-ben

I’ll admit it: I prefer a tidy house. I feel good when the dishes are done and the counter is cleared. I’m easily disturbed when piles stay piles for too long. I like the structure of a good plan.

Is it an Adultitis-fueled trait? Perhaps. But I do find that I am more present, relaxed and creative when clutter and chaos is minimized. In general, I don’t think it’s a terrible trait to have. And I don’t believe that an Adultitis-free life is one that disregards any sense of order.

However. I do find it helpful to regularly remind myself of some simple truths: [Read more...]

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy

“How do you do it?”

That’s a question I’ve been getting a lot these days. That’s because my life is a bit weird. I grew up with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who worked a normal 8:00 – 5:00 shift. Of course there were little league games and school events and birthday parties on the weekend, but for the most part, the basic structure of our weeks and months were pretty static.

My life now is nothing like that. I am on the road about 125 days a year. Sometimes, my family is on the road with me. Most of the time, they’re not. Every single one of our 52 weeks is different from every other. The only constant is that there isn’t one. Kim and I run a business together and are in the midst of preparing for our second annual Escape Adulthood Summit. We are both work-at-home parents, split childcare duties, and also homeschool. Bambino number three is on the way, which means we’ll have three kids five and under. It’s pretty crazy.

Let me be clear. I’m not complaining at all, because I LOVE the variety of my life. Nor am I the busiest person I know. Not by a long shot. But I’m not a stressed-out mess, either.

And I think that’s why people ask, “How do you do it?

The real answer? We have had to be ok with disappointing people. A lot. Which is really hard, because we’re both people pleasers.

But we also believe in preaching what we practice. And our insistence on being authentic overrides our people-pleasing desires. Kim and I have embraced the truth that we — and we alone — are responsible for our own story.

And so sometimes we say no to extended family get-togethers in order to say yes to a family day at the fair. We turn down a lot of opportunities with friends in favor of date nights to make sure we’re getting enough quality time with each other. I say no to a lot of volunteer positions because I know that being on some board will take me away from my family even more than I already am.

All of these no’s disappoint a lot of people who want us to do their “thing.” The tricky part is that their things are usually good, fun, and worthwhile invitations, and it’s really hard to say no. But we regularly remind ourselves that saying no to something good allows us to say yes to something even better.

Despite all of the advancements of modern technology, we are no different than cavemen in that we still only get 24 hours a day. When it comes to guarding our time, we protect our sabbaths and we’ve gotten pretty good at imitating a mama polar bear.

Now. These choices we make are not always easy or fun or even right all of the time. But we try our best to be mindful of all the choices we make.

I don’t presume that the choices WE make are the ones YOU should make. My only hope is that you are aware of the choices you’re making, and more importantly, WHY. It’s easy to shirk responsibility by acting like other people are making choices for us, but unless you’re still going to school and living at home, that’s not really true, is it?

None of this is easy peasy lemon squeezy, but it’s the only way I know of to avoid the regret of looking back one day to realize you’ve been living a story you never intended.

Let me ask you: How do YOU do it? What’s your best tip for making sure you’re living a story that’s your own, and not someone else’s?

Rejection Therapy

jia-jiang-wds

One of the most inspiring people I encountered at the third annual World Domination Summit earlier this month was Jia Jiang.

Four months after quitting his job to launch a career as an entrepreneur, Jia hit a major roadblock. He was rejected by some major investors and the business idea that seemed like a sure-thing instantly vaporized. It rocked his world, and he considered giving up. After a kick in the pants from his supportive wife, Jia began to delve into what he called “rejection therapy.” [Read more...]

The Dreamy Old Quiet Days Are Over. (Again.)

kubrick-subway-newspapers
Sometimes I chuckle at the thought of parents wringing their hands over Elvis’s gyrating hips. Especially in contrast to the stuff I have to keep my kids from seeing on network TV these days! I have also decried the negative side of modern technology, where it seems that most people spend more time staring at smartphones rather than starting real conversations. Don’t even get me started on things like sexting.

I often wish I could trade the problems of today for the problems of yesteryear. In retrospect, the old days always seem simpler and more idyllic.

It’s easy to blame technology for the speeding up of our lives, for the loss of true connectivity, and for the cheapening of our stories. But before we embrace another seemingly modern trait of blaming something or someone else for our troubles, take a look at this passage from William Smith’s Morley: Ancient and Modern, which was published in 1886.

With the advent of cheap newspapers and superior means of locomotion… the dreamy quiet old days are over… for men now live think and work at express speed. They have their Mercury or Post laid on their breakfast table in the early morning, and if they are too hurried to snatch from it the news during that meal, they carry it off, to be sulkily read as they travel… leaving them no time to talk with the friend who may share the compartment with them… the hurry and bustle of modern life… lacks the quiet and repose of the period when our forefathers, the day’s work done, took their ease…

Interesting, huh? Replace those newspapers in the photo above with smartphones and tablets and it wouldn’t look all that different from a modern New York City subway. There are new problems that didn’t exist 100 years ago, sure. But there are also solutions to problems we enjoy that our grandparents never did. Technology has always been an easy scapegoat, but it has never been the biggest threat to us being able to live rich, meaningful, adventurous stories.

The biggest threat to living those types of stories has always been…us.

Photo credit: Stanley Kubrick, Hat Tip to Jason Kottke.

Your Life in Jelly Beans

YouTube Preview Image

Ze Frank made a cool video that shows your life in jelly beans. Using one jelly bean to represent each day of your life, he provides a visually stunning look at how much time we spend eating, sleeping, working, etc. Even more stunning is the small pile of jelly beans that remains when we factor all the “stuff” of living.

Borrowed time, indeed.

Living Life as an Adventure

living-without-risk-isnt

What is the role of a parent? Obviously, keeping them alive is a big one. I’ve learned that feeding them semi-regularly and redirecting them away from hot stoves and wild animals helps with that. Teaching them morals, and how to be a positive contribution to society are important next-level responsibilities.

But what about being brave? Isn’t it important to teach them how to chase a dream and how to take risks and strive to reach their potential? [Read more...]

Do You See Weeds or Wishes?

hundred-wishes

A backyard flush with dandelions can inspire an hour of exciting adventure for a five-year-old. The exact same backyard can also inspire an hour of expletive-laden adjectives for a fifty-year-old.

Believe it or not, most of the things we don’t like about life are changeable. The tricky part is that in order to get the result we desire, the first thing that needs to change is…us.

If you’re disappointed or frustrated by your spouse, your job, your boss, or your kids, you always have the option of waiting for them to improve. Or you can instigate a small rebellion and spark a magical turnaround by changing the way you look at them.

On Borrowed Time

build-something-wonderful

We went to the funeral of friend’s mom recently. She died suddenly of a heart attack while at home with her husband, who was only into his second week of retirement. When my father-in-law Gary heard the news and learned that they were both in the same age range, he reflected, “Wow. I guess I’m really on borrowed time.”

He’s right. But not just because he was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in his twenties and probably hasn’t had a pain-free day since then. And not just because he continues to amaze his doctors with how long he’s been able to keep on going. He’s right because we are ALL on borrowed time. [Read more...]

How We Spent Our 13th Anniversary

medieval-times

Kim and I always do something childlike on our anniversary. One year we went to the circus. Another time we visited Toys “R” Us on Times Square. This year, we took the kids to Medieval Times.

Actually, that happened the day AFTER our anniversary. On our real anniversary, our sister-in-law watched the kids so we could play hooky and have lunch on a beautiful day. (Pretty childlike in its own right, I guess.) At lunch overlooking Lake Monona, we had a chance to chat about many things, gloriously uninterrupted.

We reminisced about our anniversary adventures.

We talked about the logistics of bringing the kids to a funeral the next day. It was for a friend’s mom, who passed away suddenly only two weeks after her husband had retired.

We talked about the fleeting nature of life, silently hoping that such a thing would never happen to us.

Then I asked Kim a question: “If this was our last anniversary together, how would you wish we’d have spent it?” [Read more...]

This Week’s Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us

meant-to-live

When I was a kid, I had a subscription to Sports Illustrated. Not sure if they still have this, but every week there was a little blurb entitled, “This Week’s Sign That The Apocalypse Is Upon Us.” It always featured some absurd factoid that was too ridiculous to believe but nevertheless, painfully true.

Well, the other day I heard a radio commercial for a local cable provider. It heralded as one of its biggest selling points a DVR that could record four shows at the same time.

Four shows at the same time!

Look, if you are in the target market that finds this a must-have feature, you need to seriously take a hard look at your life. Surely you were meant for more than this.

The most depressing thing? The apparent reality that the number of people who would jump at this offer must be somewhat significant, or else it wouldn’t have made it into the commercial in the first place.

Heaven help us.

Something Wonderful

something-wonderful

Good advice. And when you take into account the fact that none of us actually knows what the future holds, doesn’t the alternative seem downright masochistic?

Kind of weird (sad, actually) that this good advice is “advice” at all, and not normal operating procedure.

What Success Really Looks Like

just-stick-to-it

Everyone has their own definition of success. Mine is not to own a jet, hobnob with CEOs, or work a mere four hours a week. My definition of success is to be a force for good in the world and to make a decent living doing what I love while spending lots of time with people I care about. So far, so good.

The middle part — the “making a decent living doing what I love” part — THAT took the longest. Way longer than I’d imagined or hoped.

Success is not that hard. But it is rare because not many people are willing to do the work. The biggest requirement for success is just sticking to something for as long as it takes until you get the desired result (or something better.) [Read more...]

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