Bookshop

I love books. Reading them, owning them, sharing them and obviously writing them. The smell of an old book is a reminder of all those who have similarly valued the words born out of another’s mind. The feel of a new book ushers in the anticipated value to be delivered in small doses over the weeks you will spend reading it.

I have always thought of owning a bookstore.…


Connecting

I have always considered myself a luddite – slow to adopt new technology, warning against its potential downside. Yet here I sit, typing on my MacBook Pro, Apple Watch strapped to my wrist as my iPhone plays music through a bluetooth SONOS speaker. All after another evening ended with my ass firmly planted in my couch watching mindless television wirelessly projected onto my wall.

Lamenting our use of technology is not particularly helpful.…


Back-to-School

My children have always loved back-to-school shopping. There is something about the idea of having a list of school supplies and wandering through a stationary store checking off boxes that brings them a strange combination of excitement and satisfaction.

As a writer I can identify with the love of pencils, paper and such.

So there we were scuffling through Staples searching for the perfect sized post it notes or a pencil case that was both stylish (one picked out a furry cat – rather kitschy) and functional (dividers or pockets seem key.)…


See

Marcel Proust once wrote, “The only true voyage of discovery, the only fountain of Eternal Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is…”

He is writing about the role artists play in society in a chapter perhaps appropriately named, The Prisoner.


Citizen

As July 4th approached, I was reflecting on the state of our country. JFK’s famous exhortation from his inaugural address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for our country,” popped into my mind.

In lieu of recent events, one could look at the first part of that quote and conclude that what little we have asked for from our country has been denied.…


Graduating

Last year, I was honored to deliver the commencement address at my alma mater, Penn State.  It was held in Beaver Stadium, where over 100,000 fans stream in each Saturday during football season.

The students graduating that day would go out into an uncertain world.  A pandemic still wore on, the country and specifically their state was deeply divided.  

Yet they were graduating with a college degree and into a strong job market.…


Ride

It was an especially hectic weekend. On top of the standard travel soccer chaos, there was also a band/chorus concert and tech week for one of my daughter’s theater groups.  All of this was compounded by the fact that my wife was away on a well-deserved, but ill-timed, girls’ weekend. I was flying solo.

We had managed the first three days quite well, due in large part to some good planning and even better temperament from my three daughters. A…


Observe

This week as part of an Earth Science’s assignment, my daughter has to go outside and observe the phases of the moon. Once she’s found it in the night sky, she is to draw what she’s seen. Over time, she is expected to see the various waxing and waning phases and presumably draw some conclusions.

On a few occasions, she’s asked me to go outside and see the moon with her, which we’ve thoroughly enjoyed.…


Music

It was a wonderful week of music in my home.

My children fell in love with a new song (“On My Way” by Jennifer Lopez), that went into heavy rotation and led to many sing alongs.

I interviewed Darryl McDaniels from Run DMC for my podcast, who reminded me that “music can do what politics and religion can’t – unite us.”

Finally, I had my first guitar lesson in three years.…


Educated

In her 2018 memoir, Educated, Tara Westover, shared her incredible life story. She told of being raised by survivalist parents who did not permit her to go to school or see a doctor. In spite of it all and the accompanying trauma, she went on to go to Brigham Young University (her first class there was her first experience in a classroom) and then on to Oxford University and ultimately becoming a bestselling author.…


Books


Two weeks ago, I was one of over fifty children’s book authors who participated in the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. It was incredible to see so many children and their families demonstrating their love of books. While signing books and seeing a kid’s face light up is an unimaginably cool experience, the best part of the day came when a teacher, who had traveled the whole way from Hershey, Pennsylvania, approached me with a small gift and important story.  …


Back

I’m rushing to write this before I embark on six hours of travel soccer on a Sunday. This is after six hours of practice on Saturday. The joys of coaching all three of my daughters’ soccer teams.

This is on top of an email inbox that has gotten out of control, a calendar suddenly packed with appointments and a to do list that is seemingly endless.…


Kindness

What is the relationship between kindness and success?  Some might suggest that to be successful we must, to some extent anyways, be driven, achievement oriented, perhaps even a little selfish. You know the old adage, “Nice guys finish last.”

I recently stumbled upon some old research that debunks that thinking.

In this study, kindergarten teachers measured their students across a host of “kindness” metrics – such as “shares materials” and “is helpful to others.”…


Commencement

I created a bucket list before they were fashionable – or even called a bucket list.  I was twenty-five at the time, filled with hubris, and created a list of 51 things I wanted to do before I died.

Looking back at the list, I’m not doing too bad.  I’ve married, become a father, written a few books, taken my mother to Disney World, visited Paris and walked on the field at Fenway Park.  …


Teach

Our children have many teachers – in school and in life. The role of any teacher, defined either by profession or practice, is always critical to the success of our children. But is profoundly more so during times of great uncertainty — much like the challenging times we live in now.

Teaching is often associated with instruction, but observation and modeling are equally important.  We may say, “do as I say not as I do” but in the long run they are more likely to remember and follow our actions than our words.…


Schools

It’s like ”playing a game of 3D chess while standing on one leg in the middle of a hurricane.”

These were the words Richmond Superintendent of Schools and former recipient of the National Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras, used to describe the process of planning for the opening of schools.

This vivid simile captures the complexity (3D chess), dexterity (standing on one leg) and danger (hurricane), that is inherent in what seems like a near impossible task.…


Results

I find “results” to be a perplexing word.  

When you see “results’ in print is your instinct to read it as a noun?  As in “I want results.”  Or do you read it as a verb — “when I do this, it results in that?”

Its origins date back to the French “resilire” which means “to rebound” and is the root word for resilience.  There is a looseness and flexibility in its original meaning that I admire.…


Thinking

Inside Bill’s Brain is a documentary series that invites us to see how Bill Gates thinks. Among the more remarkable practices is his long standing “think weeks,” where perplexed by a particular problem, he loads up a bag of books on that topic and takes off to a secluded cabin where he just thinks about that issue. Returning hopefully with a deeper understanding, a plan of action, perhaps even some solutions worthy of exploration.…


Tears

It happened as the parade of cars drove through our town, our children’s teachers beeping and beaming as we waved.

It happened as I attended the virtual graduation ceremony at City College and read the students and parents’ supportive and proud comments and emojis scroll down the Youtube Live chat box for an hour.

It happened as I watched each episode of Some Good News, as each story chronicled one beautiful act of appreciation after another.…


Feeling/Doing

“In one word, write down how you are feeling right now.”  

This was how I started each class over the last month at the two different universities where I teach.   

Students were encouraged not to use terms already added to the zoom chat by another student. Some results were predictable.  Anxious, tired, afraid, nervous, unsure – always made the list. More practical needs were also expressed – allergic, hungry – as were, albeit more rarely,  the aspirational – hopeful, grateful.…


Insufficient?

In the face of our current challenges, I’ve heard many echo my own feelings that our personal actions have been insufficient. This is especially true when we compare ourselves to others whose roles are deemed essential and actions heroic.

This sentiment at times comes when people reflect on their relative good fortune or privilege. But it is not limited to the lucky.

I’ve also spoken to those directly impacted by events.…


“A true genius….”

In the the film, And Justice for All, Al Pacino gives an impassioned speech about the meaning of justice and its pursuit. He is defending a judge he knows to be guilty of a heinous crime and is part of a system he knows to be imperfect if not corrupt.  He laments that justice is not the aim of a court proceeding, winning is.  

Ultimately he must choose whether to pursue this objective or to sacrifice ego and reward. …


Let’s see how your mind works

In this interview, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, recounted what attributes are common among musicians. One that resonated was the idea of musicians having especially patterned minds. The term refers to the ability to remember and think in patterns. In music this comes in especially handy in remembering chord progressions, lyrics etc. For an average person, we might be able to recite the words to a song we know only if we begin at a familiar place, like the beginning or at the chorus.…