Pre

We spend so much of our life in preparation for something else. We prepare for school, work, meals, projects, vacations, for the day ahead.

Recently, among the many things I’ve been preparing for is the launch of my second children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which comes out June 4th.

Of course, we had to prepare the book for publication, prepare the marketing and publicity plans to get the word out, as well as preparing for launch events, book store visits, school visits and so on.…


Rules

We follow many, bend a few, flout those that rub us the wrong way, and break those that we find unfair altogether. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some unwritten, unspoken, others codified in codes of contact or law.

To not follow or break them risks everything from our own guilt, to admonishment from our peers to loss of freedom or finances.

On the other hand the rejection of others can reap the rewards of freedom, independence, gains in time or treasure, even admiration of those who admire the rebellion.…


Capital

Several weeks ago a former student reached out to me via LinkedIn looking for some career guidance. He was a great student, a good person with impressive experience for his age. However, given that his field was software engineering, there was little I could offer him….except for my connections. After dropping the ball for a few weeks, he nudged me – as I suggested he do if he hadn’t heard from me.…


Fit

While reading this New York Times article last week, a turn of phrase caught my attention “one sad nod and head shake after another.” While it was referring to the book, The Age of Grievance, I found it ironic in that it perfectly captured my experience having just read the paper. Every story was one piece of sad or bad news after another. Even the Arts section, which I save for last, so I might end on a positive or inspiring note, was riddled with critics tearing apart various movies and plays.…


College

This time of the year represents the anxiety ridden period when “would be” college students anxiously await their college acceptance letters. Understandably this can be a particularly stressful time for students and parents alike.

But should it be?

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of students who apply to college will get accepted. In fact the average college acceptance rate is 70%. Over half of U.S.…


Underwhelmed

Students were gathered in masses. Strangers talked to each other. Often loaning their special glasses so others could get a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Anticipation was high.

When it was all over and we returned to our class, some noted that they were underwhelmed. Expectations had been higher. Promises of complete darkness, lowering temperatures and the quieting of birds were unkept.

This underwhelming feeling was echoed when I went home and heard from my own children.…


Reveal

A few weeks ago, we revealed the cover for my next children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which will come out on June 4th. The story is about our universal dream to feel seen and welcomed. As revealed in the author’s note at the end, it is based on my own difficult move in the middle of a school year from Boston to Pennsylvania.

The cover reveal was assisted by John Schu, who is a well-known librarian and best-selling author.…


Conviction

As we sat in the sixth row of Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of Martin Luther King’s Drum Major sermon played in the background. It was the last sermon he gave from that pulpit as he would soon leave for Memphis where an assassin would end his life.

Shortly after, a large white man ambled up the aisle. I must admit I am not proud of my knee jerk judgmental reaction.…


Savor

Saturday was a day of savoring life.

Earlier in the morning I ran into an acquaintance at the local library. He asked me if I was still coaching soccer (I am) and I in turn asked him the same (he is not).

He mentioned that his soccer coaching days were over, as his children had moved on to high school sports or other activities. I quipped he must have a lot of free time on his hands. …


Relax

How easy is it for you to simply relax? By relaxing, I don’t mean falling into a heap at the end of a day tuning into something mindless on a screen of your choosing. I’m referring to the kind of relaxation that asks us to quiet our minds, to think of nothing, while presumably also doing nothing. To relax as a form of just letting everything go.…


Blindsided

Yesterday, I was blindsided by a  phone call letting me know that a mutual friend of ours had died.

I have been sad ever since.

To be blindsided is to be hit unexpectedly. The pain is amplified exponentially because you are wholly unprepared.

While on a rational level we know that all people die, we have an expectation that it should only happen after someone has had a chance to live a long and fulfilling life.…


Stoic

I had resisted reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius for a long time. The reasons for which aren’t entirely clear to me. Perhaps it was my perception that it would be cold, indifferent or dispassionate, like the word stoic implies.

Still other people, I know and respect, swear by it. Its sales soared as people searched for meaning during the pandemic.

Despite it being one of the best selling philosophy books of all time, it was never meant for public consumption.…


Beggars

Imagine a young girl in a classroom. Because her family has little money she shows up to class with no school supplies and asks the teacher for a pencil. The teacher obliges but hands her a pencil with no eraser. When the girl simply requests a different pencil with an eraser, the teacher declines, saying “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Brittany Means was that little girl and she has now gone on to author her first book, Hell if We Don’t Change our Ways.


Confidence

Have you ever wondered where confidence comes from? Or why do some people seem to have more of it than others?

It’s a question I’ve been grappling with on and off for most of my life. As my own confidence is often fleeting.

I was surprised to learn recently that research suggests that 50% of our self-confidence is genetic. Meaning some children are predisposed to be more confident than others – even their siblings.…


Songs

As the camera pulled back to reveal the face behind the hand that played the strings, a huge smile cut across my face. Tracy Chapman was on the Grammy Stage.  Playing a duet with Luke Combs who had covered her classic, “Fast Car”, the crowd echoed my reaction. Taylor Swift stood and sang along, others followed suit. It was a quintessential “Grammy Moment.”

Later in the same show, Joni Mitchell performed at the Grammy’s for the first time in her prodigious career.…


Overheard

Guess what I overheard yesterday?

Well actually plenty, and each time it was valuable and unexpected.

To overhear something is to hear it without the intention or knowledge of the speaker. Not to be confused with eavesdropping; to overhear something is not intentionally listening in on a conversation you shouldn’t but rather just picking up the ambient conversations around you.

My first instance was walking to school in the morning.…


Teaching

She approached me with a four inch stack of index cards, asking if I would help her study for her upcoming Earth Science midterm. My middle daughter had created what had to be over two hundred flashcards to help prepare herself for her exam and over the course of the last week had repeatedly reviewed them. It was both astonishing and impressive to see her mow through these cards with such precision and accuracy.…


Downtime

What do you do during that time in between?  Those few minutes spent in between projects or meetings? Right before a call starts or you’re ready to work on checking that next box on your to do list? How do you fill the space while waiting for that next thing to start?

Recently I realized that my use of downtime was both consistent and unfulfilling. My standard practices would be some combination of checking my email or text messages, catching up on the latest news, and most frequently visiting a sports website to catch up on the latest hot takes and opinions of rabid Boston rapid sports like myself.…


Birth

To give birth – whether to a person or an idea – is to bring something new into existence. Its origin is from the Old Norse word meaning “bear.” My assumption is that this was an early acknowledgment of the intense labor that is intrinsic to the act of giving birth.

When we give birth to anything it brings with it a combination of immediate joy, hope, anxiety and fear.…


Produce

Happy New Year.

Before we jump into 2024, many of us might spend some time reflecting back upon 2023. Among the many questions we ask ourselves are those related to accomplishments; What did we do? What do we have to show for the year? What did we produce?

As I look back, I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with or been supported by so many talented, wonderful people and organizations that have allowed me to produce more than a handful of things that I can take pride in.…


Photographs

Like many families, every year we create a calendar. Around December, I begin by looking through all the pictures our family has taken over the last year. We then select somewhere between three and twelve to put with each month. In total that means around fifty to sixty photos end up representing our year at a glance.  A small number curated from almost a thousand.

While I’m sure the family members who receive this gift appreciate it; the act of creating provides me with the greatest present.…


Appreciate

Over the last year, I’ve received a few notes, emails or texts that included the specific phrase, “I appreciate you.”

Prior to this year I don’t know if I’ve ever seen, said or received those exact words in any form of communication. Now, of course, it’s quite possible that only recently have I done anything worthy enough to receive such a warm and thoughtful collection of words.…


Gestures

As part of my season of giving, I asked the waitress if she could add the bill from the two police officers sitting in the adjacent booth to my tab.

Smiling, she told me that the couple by the window had already made this anonymous gesture.  In turn, I asked the waitress if I could pay for that couple’s meal. That too, she said, had been taken care of.…


Giving

As the saying goes, this is the season for giving. Yet for some, including myself, the giving is often focussed on just a few days.

For the rest of the month of December, we’re running around frantically trying to wrap things up – not just the presents we’ve purchased but various end-of-year projects – both work and personal – that have piled up the previous months.…


Granted

This weekend two million students who attend land-grant universities returned from Thanksgiving break. A few short days later will mark the end of Native American Heritage month.

I suspect that most of these students, like I once was until recently, are oblivious to the connection.

A few years ago, I was granted the opportunity and honor to give the commencement address at my alma mater, Penn State University. …