Tickets

I was interviewed recently for this article that appeared in the New York Times.

It was a vivid and important look at how young people around the world assess their potential for success in life and what they think is necessary for achieving it.

Perhaps surprisingly, young people in poorer countries were generally more optimistic about their chances of future success than those in more economically developed countries like the United States.…


Experiment

There is a passage in Richard Power’s thought-provoking new novel, Bewilderment, that I find myself returning to again and again.

It describes an epiphany of sorts he has when considering his son and the undiagnosed mental health issues he is dealing with. He writes:

“Watching medicine fail my child, I developed a crackpot theory: Life is something we need to stop correcting. My boy was a pocket universe I could never hope to fathom.…


Build

I promised my daughter I would make her bed on Friday.

I finished it on Saturday.

Of course, making her bed wasn’t just tucking in her covers, arranging her stuffed animals and fluffing her pillow. It was putting together a new loft bed with a built-in desk and shelves underneath.

Now, I don’t consider myself especially handy. I’ve hung some drywall in my time and done a few projects here and there but by and large I would admit my skills are as limited as my tool box.…


Freedom

This weekend my youngest daughter, fresh off her 10th birthday, began her fifth stint in quarantine.

This time around she will miss two soccer games, one of her best friend’s birthday parties, running a Girls on The Run 5K that she’s been in training for months and of course, trick or treating on Halloween. She will also be spending the next week doing school online. Bringing her total time of unnecessary online learning to over forty days.…


Subtract

Recently, I had two exchanges with family members that did not go particularly well. Both were spurred on by trying to refute or debate claims fueled by divisive media outlets. Since the election, I have largely tuned out of political shows, but like Michael Corleone says in the Godfather, “Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!”

I called one of them the following day and posed this simple question: “Does watching political shows bring you any joy?”…


Driven

Earlier this week, I was looking to connect with Colby Sharp, an educator who hosts a podcast about children’s books, called The Yarn. I stumbled upon his twitter account and was struck by his “bio” which began with the phrase, “driven by gratitude.”

It was such a wonderful articulation of what motivates him and got me wondering about what drives any of us.

In my own life, I know that what drives me has evolved.…


Appreciation

I’ve just come back from a two-week trip across parts of the country previously unknown to me. We started in Oregon, drove through Idaho into Wyoming and ended our family trip in Montana.

We experienced the wonders of nature in many forms. From Mt. Hood, to Craters of the Moon to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Custer National Forest.  

Within each, we witnessed majestic views, the vastness of the great plains, spectacular waterfalls, lush forests, impressive geyser fields, herds of bison and elk, soaring hawks, eagles and osprey, two meandering moose and one adorable bear cub eating berries on the mountain side.…


Rejection

I have kept a file of all the rejection letters I’ve ever received. Two novels, dozens of short stories, even several poems all rejected by one agent, publisher or publication or another. In my emails, there are probably thousands of other examples of my ideas or proposals being turned down. Of course, there are also those instances where I never even received a reply. This says nothing of the slew of personal rejections that have amassed between my socially awkward high school years until I met and married my lovely wife.…


Expectations

Two teams compete in the Olympics.

Both win the Bronze.

One country is elated and the other disappointed.

So goes the power and toxicity of expectations.

When considering the word expectations, it’s almost impossible to imagine it without some qualifier.

High, low, exceeding, diminished, raised, wildest, lowered, defying, beating, surpassing, failing, great, outsized, living up to, playing down and on and on.

So unhealthy is our relationship with this word that when we say that something has “met our expectations,” we shrug our shoulders, suggesting some level of mild disappointment.…


Eventful

This Sunday was quite the eventful day for me for multiple reasons.

CBS Sunday Morning segment featuring the story behind my new children’s book, Three Little Engines was scheduled to air. The excitement was palpable for several reasons. The idea of having my book and its message shared with an audience of millions is obviously pretty cool.  Selfishly, the idea that my mom, my family and friends would be able to gather around the TV to see me talk – not just about the book – but about how grateful I was for all they had done to get me “over the mountain” was a tremendous gift.…