Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bunny Prints and Chekhov's Gun

"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." Chekhov’s gun is a literary admonition to not include unnecessary elements in a story. If the rifle isn’t going to be used then it doesn’t belong in the story. Everything becomes condensed into what is essential to the plot. Tonight the radiant moon, the last moon of the year illuminates fresh bunny prints on the snow. I pause and ponder the attention, awareness and willingness required to notice the details of life yet stay present with life’s story and unfolding plot. Happy New Year to you my unseen bunny, I noticed your prints. It is exciting to think where they will lead in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


      I hit a wall today. It was one of those days when you feel like Jim in the old “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” TV show. You remember Jim. He was the one wrestling the very angry crocodile or rhinoceros in the mud or brambles while Marlin Perkins was safe in the helicopter describing the animal and what they were going to do with the truly irritated animal. Marlin always made it sound dangerous, but no big deal. You had to wonder if Jim ever yelled up to the helicopter “Hey Marlin, you come down here and do this!” Yes, today I was Jim trying to capture a very angry animal called month end results and poor performance while Marlin sat in the comfortable helicopter of “we’ve always done it this way” wondering what the fuss was all about. It would be so easy, when you bounce against the wall, to just walk away. You would give me way too much credit if you thought I did not consider that as a viable option. 
      As I slipped and glided across the ice between the buildings I pondered this option and this in-betwixt time of this week. The sacred holiday is over, the love and cheer have been celebrated and life has returned to normal. We’ve moved on to the anticipation of a new year, a new beginning and the farewell of the old and possibly shattering 2009. One down and one to go. In-betwixt. That is perhaps the wall I really hit. I may not be where my heart and vision say I should be but where I am matters. Tomorrow may hold my dream and visualization of being a writer or one who gives voice and hope to others but today’s experience, attention, willingness and rows and rows of Excel formulas are the paint that brush will need. Christmas on one end and New Year’s on the other end and in-betwixt is where I am. Do you think Marlin ever said “Hey Jim, you’ve got a bit of mud on your face”?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Forever, Christmas Eve

I believe in the grace of the baby lying in a manger. I believe in the power of the menorah to quench the darkness and radiate hope. I believe in the vision of a man named Buddha. I believe in the jolly red suited Santa. I believe in the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes. I believe in scrooge who kept Christmas in his heart every day. I believe in this sacred holiday we’ve carved into time. I believe in the hope, love and gathering of this time. I believe in the weariness this time casts as our hearts and energy disperse to loved ones, friends and strangers in need. I believe in those who work this holiday to service, protect and care for our needs. I believe that belief is seeing. I believe that belief is faith unseen. I believe that belief is a sense of knowing. I believe that belief is the voice in my head that says “On this day” and goes no further for I have but now. I believe that belief is the voice in my heart that says “On this day a child” and goes no further. For a child I will be, full of wonder and innocence and arms outstretched. I will have no prejudices, no judgments and no past. I will trust all who reach out, especially those in need. On this day. On this day a child. I believe in my soul it will remain, forever, Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowflake Mentors

Packages, children and parents fill the four wheeled sleighs. They dash away dash away before the storm. Unlike Santa’s reindeer, which fear neither blizzard nor ice, they have no red nose reindeer to lead their way. The shimmering illumination of electronic snowflakes and icicles dance with the early snow scouts preparing the way for the Christmas show. Inside, the stockings are hung and the tree is lit. Presents from home have ended their journey and sit beneath the tree awaiting the day. All is quiet. Tis a silent night save for the snowflakes fluttering like angel’s wings. Their arrival and departure tease my waiting for all we have is now, this one glistening moment, this silent shimmering now. All I want for Christmas are two large front teeth to bite into life and catch snowflakes with a smile.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Journey's Hope for Hope

      Oblivious to the wind chill, heat, rain, snow and holiday preparations they travel. There are no brats, hamburgers, nachos, grills or beer when they meet and they have no team colors. They travel the miles up and down the interstates and back roads to pick up and deliver their cargo. Unlike the postal service their hours are not set and their deliveries require 24/7 care and handling. Their work has no 401k, no paycheck, no benefits or time off. They go when called sacrificing their weekends, holidays and time to rest from their full time jobs. The caravans of cars, SUVs, vans, Jeeps and trucks rendezvous at rest stops, mall parking lots and strangers’ homes. Some are identified only by an email describing their car, what they will be wearing and the time of their arrival. Others have done this before and exchange the greetings of old friends. There are no photographers, no cheering crowds or applause when the exchange is successfully made. The thought of such recognition would never occur to them, it is what they do.
      For some, it may be a once in a life time encounter with the cargo which lasts only a few hours or sometimes a night. For others the exchange of the cargo may begin a journey that spans a lifetime. Each traveler is a single link in the chain of life and hope dotting the highways day after day rescuing dogs. The rescues take place at shelters where the time for adoption has expired, puppy mills or dog auctions where they have one last chance to live if they are sold, sometimes for less than a dollar, before they are killed. The links come from all walks of life, backgrounds, rescue groups and volunteers forged by the steel of compassion. With each exchange the links are connected and the chain extends the hope that their precious cargos will find their forever home and know forever the love and sacrifice that transported them. Hope for hope, the chain of life.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Snow Vision

I love the snow. Snow is my spy camera capturing what was but went unseen. In the snow I see the prints of my beloved bunnies. The bunny dance in the backyard leaves its trace in a labyrinth of circles and twists. Sometimes my eyes move up the trunk of the evergreen tree from the snow and back down to the bunny prints that stop right in front of the tree. Each scan acts like a pulley drawing the corners of my mouth upward into a smile. Squirrel footprints adorn the snow and snow covered steps leading up to the bird seed on the deck. Two very excited dogs create a necklace of paw prints. All of these prints, dances and life are here every day but remain hidden until it snows. Maybe if I could have one Christmas wish, or perchance the grace of another falling star, I think I would wish for snow vision. With snow vision, I could see the footprints, dances and play that pass through my life. I could see the prints of those whose prayers, love and kindness walk in front, behind and beside me as they lead, guard and offer companionship. I think of snow vision and I chuckle to realize it exists in the eyes of the heart. It is the eyes of the heart that go through my day casting snowflakes of trust, hope and faith wherever I walk. I have but to look and see with the eyes of the heart, with snow vision, the prints of friends, family and humanity that walk with me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't Fight the Wait

     The sound of thunder claps. I jump. My little weather alert computer icon is flashing. We have a blizzard warning. The blizzard bunkering begins and we wait for the wind and snow to arrive. The blizzard hits with the expected force and drifts. We wait for the winds to subside and the plows to roll. The next morning the streets are passable and we all prepare to return to work. The wind and snow are gone leaving behind below zero temperatures as a “thinking of you” greeting card. 
     The next morning we run outside, crank the car and run back inside to wait for the car to warm. From eight in the morning until after one in the afternoon a parade of meetings march through my day like storm troopers. I sneak a look at my watch waiting for the first opportunity to let my blood sugar know I haven’t forgotten to eat. The car crunches the remaining frozen snow in the driveway as the week has ended and the snow blowing number crunching warrior has returned home. I pause and ponder the stops and starts of the day and how similar it was to the rush hour traffic when I lived in California. 
     I laughed to think of the “stoppage time” that would be added to a day for all the waiting and pauses. I think of Advent, the time of waiting and consider the paradox – one is seen as a disruption and one a celebrated sacred holiday. Why the difference? Perhaps the difference is the object of the waiting. One waiting period stops the flow promising a brief reprieve that you know will be followed by yet another compressed box of time with more demands. The other waiting period says I am Alpha and Omega the beginning and the end. I am the joy and belly laugh of a pot bellied Santa bringing gifts. I am an interjection into your Timex Rolex world and I come with singing, smiles and laughter because you are worth it, you’ve been good and you are loved. That’s not a message we easily accept or believe. Maybe that’s why we have to wait. We need to let it sink in and give us time to believe. What would my day be like if every wait, every disruption became a trigger to stop, pause, ponder and remind myself to believe?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Power of Hands and Advent

      It is Advent and just under three weeks until Christmas. So much to do and I find myself staring at my hands. I remember plunging my cupped hands into the white beach sand, lifting the cradle and watching the sand sift back to the beach. I remember the ladle they formed offering my over heated body a cool drink. I remember my hand waving good bye to my mother on my first day at school and years later the last time I saw her alive. I remember how heavy it felt both times when it dropped to my side. I remember their excited clutch when the diploma was placed in my hand after years of night school. I remember waving them high in the air when I completed my first marathon. I remember their warmth clasping my mug of coffee long before the caffeine is desired.
      It is not the meaning of Christmas I ponder. I’ve become fascinated with my hands. What is the power of hands that when cupped together they can cradle life or reach into the ocean and draw a drink? What is their power that carves your mark upon the world when they grasp a pen? The power of hands can hold a brush and palette and with a single stroke freeze heaven’s creative fire for all eternity. What is the power of hands? Outstretched the hand can draw a drowning person to safety, establish a bond of friendship or dry a tear. Clenched the hand can bruise, maim or even destroy a life. The hands say hello, are the voice for some and with an imperceptible glancing touch say “I love you.” Hands give belly rubs to dogs, change a baby’s diaper, hold the key that opens a door as well as praise and plead with God.
      If I were an artist I would paint two softly roughened, aged but strong hands cupped together, as if they were holding a ball, extending down from heaven to earth piercing through the dark night sky. Between the two hands there would be a soft circle of light radiating like the harvest moon. It would be my picture of Advent, the period of waiting for Christmas when the hands of God became like mine.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saying "Thank You"

To say thank you means I accept. I accept the gift whatever it may be. The gift could be someone passing the salt and pepper my way, a door opened, a present or a compliment. Whatever the gift my thank you means I accept and acknowledge the giver as the source of the present. The giver has done something for me. The giver has helped, honored or bestowed something to me. So why do I never say “thank you” to myself?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


“No mas. No mas.” The boxer stepped back and quit. What would cause someone, who spent their life training for this moment, to just quit? What would drive him to step back in the middle of a fight and say “No more”? He could have canceled the fight. He could have taken a dive but he chose to quit. The news photographs froze the moment in time. “No mas” would remain etched forever in the sports world. Of all the photographs of myself that I would love to destroy thinking they make me look fat, my eyes are closed or look too tired, this is one photo of myself I will never own or have to hide. I will never quit. I will never take a dive. When my earthly walk should come to an end I will embrace with grace the next journey. Until that time I shall never quit. I will never give up. I will never raise my hand and utter “no mas.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In all Things Pray, Rejoice and Give Thanks

You can hear the piccolo from Clint Eastwood’s westerns playing. My nemesis and I prepare to square off yet again. Today I shall own you. No more wimpy fifteen minutes. I shall go thirty. Ha! The treadmill’s motor kicks up in sync with Bruce Springsteen’s volume on the MP3. No clock watching today. The Springsteen album is my stop watch. There it is. THE song! I am almost there – a full thirty minutes! Let’s take it home God! The final refrain and key change vibrate between my ears and I jump off the treadmill. YES! Arching my back I pump my fist like a soccer player scoring the game winning goal in the World Cup. Take it home God? My backbone springs into a more appropriate it is Sunday and I just said ‘take it home God’ posture. Take it home God? I heard God laugh, “And we did.” GOAL!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Oh God I am not sure this was a good idea. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Fifteen minutes on the treadmill. The long-ignored treadmill, converted into a clothes line for jeans and sweatshirts, creaks and moans as the dust shakes off and the engine picks up speed. My legs are equally uncooperative as they work to keep pace. Wow, I’m in worse shape than I thought. The IMAX in my mind flashes to the images of soldiers returning home without their legs; or legs no longer responding to their brains. And this is hard? Whoa, shake that off. The legs steady and I find my rhythm. I reach for the water bottle and gulp. I probably just drank more water than thousands of people get in an entire day. I just reached for the water and it was there. I have a case of bottled water upstairs. Their thirst is never quenched. And this is hard? Shaking my head I pick up the pace and shift into a slow run. How many people are running for their lives? How many are running from their abusers, from hate crimes or running to find answers? How many have chosen not to run? How many are taking a stand to make their world, this world, a better place? The faster pace kicks up the metabolism and I have one too many shirts. I toss my sweatshirt to the floor. How many people have no layers? How many sweatshirts do you have in your closet? No, not closet, it is closets – plural. And this is hard? Shaking my head again I glance at the clock to see if the promised fifteen minutes has been reached. I think of Anne, Donna, my mother and others as they watched the clock during their chemo treatments. I remember how the families watched the hospital clock waiting for diagnoses, for hope. And this is hard? Goal reached. The fifteen minutes is achieved. The treadmill stops. Kneeling on the canvassed base, my eyes look up and my head bows. Not in vain. Not in vain.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An "Important" Thanksgiving

       His knock on my office door frame was gentle; his request for a minute of my time was softly spoken. A coworker, not really a friend, entered my office with obvious heavy shoulders. My body readied for the blow-a production line must be down, shipments must be in jeopardy, a bad accident and all the other scenarios for the important things that could go wrong.
       “I’ve lost my house, the bank has sold it and I have to move. None of the rentals we’ve looked at will take dogs. I thought maybe you could help me.” He opened his wallet and next to his kid’s pictures was a picture of his dogs. His words, face and trembling hands rocked the very epicenter of my values, my heart and my labels of what is considered “important.” I nodded and smiled. Sometimes the heart speaks best in the silence of the eyes.
       I made one phone call. An email string flew into my inbox. A chain of human kindness was created including an offer to share a stranger’s house – dogs included. I do not have an ending to this story. The story is sort of like Thanksgiving. We gather with family, friends and strangers. We have no idea what the various casseroles, dishes and turkey will taste like. It doesn’t matter. That will not be what we remember. We remember the gathering. We remember the human contact. We remember our bonds. That is what is important.

A hope filled Thanksgiving to all, to my coworker, the thousands like him and to the animals.

Monday, November 23, 2009

KPIs, Metrics and Stumbling over Little Things

     In a world of balance scorecards, KPIs, BIs and all the other alphabet soup letters circling like sharks around measurements and performance, I was truly surprised when we tripped over a very simple question. The meeting was on visual display boards to be posted in the plant, departments and at the lines. The boards would display measurements of their performance. Emphatic and sincere concerns were expressed that the shop floor people were not given good communication about what was happening in the plant and how they were doing. They needed more information. I, the keeper of the corporate holy grail (aka metrics) listened and provided the information they requested. I was persistent in squeezing in one question among the answers – “What behaviors are we trying to create?” Each attempt was met with yet another metric.
     At last I went southern on them and allowed my natural drawl to possess my voice. One question was asked. One answer was given. Luckily I had not taken a sip of coffee or it may have gotten messy. I repeated the question – same answer. I looked at them and could feel tears in my eyes at their absolute innocence. “Ok. You’re telling me we have standard operating procedures for only thirty percent of our work and not everyone has been trained on the thirty percent.” Heads nodded. Sorry Captain Kirk, I couldn’t keep the ship together any longer and I had to laugh. “Well,” I managed to regain my composure, “I may not be a statistician like the Black Belts here but in the south our math would say if people do not know what they are supposed to do and you have high costs by gosh there must be some sort of correlation.” Epiphany!
     I left the meeting still giggling to myself. I was not laughing at them, ok I was chuckling I admit. My laughter was at me, us, the world. How easy it is to forget the little things. We get so busy looking for the big “IT” or “That” or “The” that we don’t even see the obvious right in front of us. We do not allow ourselves or give to others the patience to learn, grow and develop. We look for a return on our investment but forget to make the deposit. In the south we would say “that dog can’t hunt. "

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Simples

      My friends and I call it the simples. You know, those moments of laughter that make you grab your stomach and breath and then the tears run down your face. How do you explain the simples? The source of the hilarity is often tied to the moment and loses so much in translation. One simple leads to another and pretty soon EVERYTHING is funny. Hang it up, only time will heal and time will also, with very little provocation, remind the parties of simples of the past. A glance, a phrase and no matter how much time has passed, it is as if you are there at that same moment in the past and the peels and roars of laughter begin all over again. It’s that simple.
      I have run marathons and after crossing the finish line grabbed my knees and literally sucked wind trying to breathe. I’ve done strenuous aerobics, lost my breath to terror, and have had numerous colonoscopies but never do I feel so cleansed as when I laugh, as when the simples expel every impurity in my body and mind. How do you explain such laughter? How is it possible to capture the spontaneity and uncontrolled physical reaction of laughter in words? And why would we not choose to stay in these moments rather than the moods, situations and reactions that torment our bodies with stress, dismantle our self esteem and leave us less than we are? Does God laugh? I have to believe there is heavenly laughter. Don’t you know the heavens have to have angelic simples as they watch us try to figure it all out like a dog chasing its tail. If they say you actually stop breathing when you sneeze, a tiny little death, what then is laughter? Maybe it is death to all the seriousness and business of life and we have to suck and gasp for air. Hmmmm maybe it is God’s way of reminding us of the first breath we gasped in – His. Ah, maybe that’s where we learned to laugh, to be alive, to know it is good, it’s that simple.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Evening Choice

Today I shall see the world as it is. I shall have the clarity to see what lies before me and see it without judgment and in all its detail. Today I shall speak out of my vision and experience. Today I shall speak boldly for I will choose my words wisely. I shall speak with the clarity I see. Today I shall stand tall. Today I shall stand as one who listens, sees, and hears and as one who cares. Today I shall assume my place at the table and I will dine well. Today is my hot mug of coffee and I shall drink deep and long feeling its warmth move from my lips into my chest. It matters not what today looks like when today, like the sun, sets. The banquet that awaits me and the warmth of the coffee will be gone by then. Their absence does not deny their presence today nor their gift. Today I am not afraid. How can I be afraid of today when it is what I choose and I choose ‘I am.’ I choose this morning. I will choose again tonight.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Falling Star - Star of Hope

The dark fall clouds amassing to cover the brilliant white moon almost hide the surprise gift of a falling star. I cannot remember the last time I saw a falling star. Immediately my mind began to sing “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away! Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket save it for a rainy day.”[i] If I put it in my pocket how long do I have to make the wish? What happens if I forget it’s in my pocket and it gets washed – as have so many notes, pieces of paper and dollar bills? I know you’re not supposed to tell anyone your wish, but does the window for making that wish have an expiration date at which time you forfeit the wish? I stand watching the clouds overtake the moon and more stable stars. It is a great responsibility I have before me. Do I save it? Do I make a wish for the world? Do I make a wish for those I keep in my heart daily? Do I make a wish for myself? Is there a generic wish that would wrap all these wishes into one? Can I gather all the wishes like I used to do laundry before I had a washer – throw all the clothes on the bed grab the four corners of the sheets and like Santa carry my stash to the Laundromat? The possibilities are endless and I have only one fallen star. Pondering the good fortune the radio station in my head changes songs and I find myself singing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are! … As your bright and tiny spark, Lights the traveler in the dark, Though I know not what you are, Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”[ii] We’ve lost a star! I say a prayer and go inside.


[i] Words and music by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance. Emily Music and Music Sales Corp. ASCAP.

[ii] “The Star” in Rhymes for the Nursery, Ann and Jane Taylor. London, 1806.

Cowboys and Heroes

My commute does not permit me to see the sunrise. The sun is asleep when I go to work. Sunrise is the gift of weekends and vacations. Sunrise to me stirs the symbolism of renewal, hope, the Promised Land awaiting just over there on the horizon where I belong. This morning I was running late and my panic was quieted by the gift of the sunrise as I turned down the street to my building, my workplace. My building was a dark silhouette amidst the pink and orange sky. I was heading into the sunrise. Slowing, to drink every drop of the moment, I caught myself wondering why heroes and cowboys always ride off into the sunset. Why does their calling, their destiny and hope always begin at sunset? Flipping the image, it seems as if the horrific battles in science fiction, war or intense psychological thrillers find the living crouched in their hiding places holding the wounded with the dead littered around them. The camera pulls back and you see their faces encrusted with the grit of battle. The whites of their eyes look like holes piercing the darkness-and they see the sunrise. The battle is over, the dark night has passed. Parking the car I begin my walk to the building’s door still mesmerized by the sky’s palette. Heroes and cowboys are people thrust into a situation where their courage and heart are strong enough to save the townspeople. Their own time for salvation has not yet come. Their new day has not awakened. Those who awake in the battlefield and fox holes of life have found their own courage and heart to save the townspeople and themselves. Their day has awakened. What about me, I pondered as I walked towards the sunrise.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I do not draw a line in the sand. I can jump over a line. A line I can erase. I do not choose door one instead of two. Doors are too easily opened and lead to yet another. I do not make a wish upon a falling star, rub a rabbit’s foot, cross my fingers nor go all in. Each is a wish and I can find a reason or excuse for the unfilled desire. I do not sign a contract nor a promise for life has taught me the power and persistence of loopholes. I do not say “tomorrow” for though the sun will rise I may not. No, I stand at the end of the gangplank, I sit upon the end of the branch, I hold fast to the rope that sustains me. With sword in hand, the rising sun reflecting upon its sharpened blade, I draw swiftly and cut off that part in front, holding and suspending me. Decidere. I decide. I cut off any other options, excuses, reasons or possibilities. Decidere. I decide and leave no escape hatch. The sun has risen and with my sword emblazoned with Decidere the choice is mine how it shall be lived. It shall be lived well, bravely and with love, laughter and heart. Decidere – I give myself no other choice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Get out of jail free" card

One get out of jail free card

For today, it’s ok to just hold on.

You know your strength,

You know your joy

You know how priceless is today.

Go ahead pass Go

Blow on the ‘What if’ dice

Take your chance on tomorrow.

Sometimes you just have to play
And trust hope's breath.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The night hangs on to the morning
Like the tide’s fingers upon the shore.
The darkness pierced by the bird’s echoed song
Morning trumpeters greeting the dawn.
The sun awaits for the gates to open
For its splendor to spill across the sky
A new day is born, and it is mine.

How many doors will I cross today?
How many thresholds will I pass?
How many require a handle to be turned?
How many are open to all who pass?
How many end in a windowless room?
How many empty into yet more rooms?
How many guide me to remain inside?
How many lead me to doorless nature?

They are so unnoticed, we simply pass
Yet each a transition, we leave and arrive.
What doors today O God await?
A maze, labyrinth or evolving path?
What doors today will open to prayer’s key?
To know your voice, to hear your call
To “set my face” to know your flow
What doors today shall I pass through?
And will you bid me welcome on the other side?

Monday, October 12, 2009

This will be my morning commute.

This will be my rush hour.

This will be my meeting reminder.

This will be the sound of incoming calls.

This will be my breath of hope.