Oct 25, 2016

Russell reading

This is one of my forever friends. 

Russell and I have known each other since college. He was my RA in my freshman year -- I'm pretty sure I was a consternation to him. Me and Gil. He busted us more than once over excessive enthusiasm. What everyone else probably calls rowdiness. 

Today's post is simple. A celebration of reading. 

Two qualities stand out about the people I admire: 

1. They are voracious readers. Can you imagine Lincoln or Obama or Gates or Buffett without their in depth reading?

2. They are thinkers. They ask questions. They take notes. They act on their thoughts.

Take a look at Russell . . . I imagine he started with book in hand sitting in the divan at the end of the bed . . . and became so engrossed he slunk down and back . . . adjusting throw pillows as he went.

THAT is reading. THAT is letting yourself flow into a narrative. THAT is how it's done. 

Are you reading something more than short digital bursts?

What are you reading that's pulling you in? What are you reading that's amplifying your spirit?

Oct 23, 2016

Did you have a good hurricane?

I was able to make it all the way to Atlanta from South Florida as I fled the hurricane. Because I rose early in the deep dark. To head out of town while everyone else still slept.

A friend who waited till the last minute spent 6 hours on one stretch of highway later in the day.

A business acquaintance from Charleston called me near the end of the drive. His business was now in Hurricane Matthew's crosshairs . . . he had no shutters, wood panels had long been bought up at Home Depot, he carried no insurance for a warehouse full of clients' furniture he was shipping for them. 

He was frantic. He could lose it all. This business he's steadily built up over a couple of decades.


The people who are far more successful than I am tend to be better at buffering. 

A buffer is a shock absorber. That thing built into your system that absorbs impact when it comes.

It looks mundane, even tedious, maybe even a leech on your time. 

Like planning. Like insurance. Like preparation.

Shocks come. Whether your road is punishing or merely bumpy often has to do with the buffers you put in place.

Meditation is my favorite buffer. I'm a mental jackrabbit. And not in a good way. My brain just loves to poing from one thing to another.

Poingety poingety poinnng--

Daily meditation morphs that rabbit into a lap dog. Still frisky at times, but willing to settle in with a thought, a focus. Able to hold an idea through to its fruition.

Exercise is a buffer. You ward off shocks to your organism far better.

Saving is a buffer. God don't I know this one! I've learned this from both ends, from failing in one instance when I hadn't saved enough . . . to surviving barely in another because we had a buffer in our bank account. Unlike many of our competitors who went down.

Connection is your greatest buffer. Spiritually and relationally. When you're connected to your greatest resource, nothing can break you. 

You'd  be surprised how often your people connections will save you. With an idea, with assistance, with belief in you when you no longer have it for yourself!

I thought of buffers as I drove in advance of the hurricane, heading north. I'm thankful for the buffers we've built up . . . and I'm wondering what other buffers I need to put in place. 

You've heard of the six-month emergency fund. For a business I recommend one year . . . 

Two years is my ideal. We're slowly working our way back to that place since the Crash. Everyone else calls it the Great Recession. For me, for us, it was a spectacular unspooling crash. 

And what helped save us were the buffers. The buffer of family. The buffer of friendship, even if it often meant offgassing the woes. Of finances. Even though they didn't last as long as we 'd expected. The buffer of spiritual connection helped the most day to day.

(Moral: don't put your buffer in the stock market, you may end up with 40% of a buffer right when you need it the most.) (Oh happy days, learning these lessons :)

Whether you had a good hurricane experience or a bad one may have come down to one factor: The buffers you put in place.

It's never too late to buffer it up, one bitty bit at a time.

Oct 21, 2016

You've got to get messy

You've got to get in, you've got to get messy, if you're going to create something good.

Full immersion and damn the chaos.

Oct 20, 2016

Life finds a way

Life finds a way . . . You will too.

Where there's a wall, grow through it.

Oct 18, 2016

Jewel: On growing up in bars

Singer and songwriter Jewel grew up in Alaska, performing in bars with her father from the age of 5, when she learned how to yodel and became a draw: 

Singing two nights a week and having a front-row view of the mating rituals of drunks and barmaids was another adult education in more ways than one. I have always had a poet’s heart, and I felt honored somehow to watch unnoticed as people lived such raw lives in front of me. 
So many characters and faces that will forever be engrained in my mind. The smell of stale beer and vomit as we did our sound checks before the doors opened. As I got older, my favorite places to sing were biker bars. The bikers were always protective and sweet toward me. 
When I was about twelve, playing at the Trade Winds biker bar in Anchorage, a man was outside foaming at the mouth, overdosing on PCP. Angel dust, I remember a woman whispering to me. When I saw the red lights flashing through the window, I set my mic down silently mid-song and walked from the stage to the bathroom so I wouldn’t get kicked out for singing in there underage. I knew the routine. 
A couple of the biker men saw me do this and nodded to their women, who silently followed me to keep me company. The bathroom was long and narrow, and I remember the women coming in, drink making them warm and wordy. We sat on the toilets, the doors all flung open, and two sat on the sink counters, all of us looking at each other in the long mirror above the sinks. 
The stalls on each side of me were occupied by women weathered and road weary, bleached blondes, brunettes, and one redhead, all wearing acid-washed jeans, tank tops, and leather jackets. Slight variances on the same theme. My stall in the middle, startling in contrast. A twelve-year-old wearing a long-sleeved shirt buttoned up to the very top button, showcasing a whimsical and heartbreakingly sweet pattern of kitty paw prints in beige. Long honey blonde hair straight as sticks tucked behind my ears, posture erect as I visited with the ladies, glad for their company. 
The brunette on the sink wore fringed boots that hung off the edge of the counter. 
“You sing real nice, kid. Real nice.” 
“Thanks,” I said, enjoying the compliment. 
“You know, my old man is finally gonna make an honest woman of me. The son of a bitch,” she said, to several chuckles from the other stalls before she continued. “You guys should sing at our wedding.” 
I knew not to accept gigs on my own, and so I said, “My dad handles all of our bookings, but I’m sure we would love to sing at your wedding.” 
In most bars I felt invisible, but it was always the bikers who kept an eye on me, sensing my vulnerability the way only other outcasts can. Bikers had their own code of ethics, which was palpable to me even at that age. With time I learned to be street-smart and to trust my instincts elsewhere in barrooms. I had to. 
When I was about nine, a man in Alice’s Champagne Palace placed a dime in my hand, folding my small fingers around the cool silver, and said, “Call me when you’re sixteen.” 
Another time I was walking to the bathroom, and as a man passing by caught a quick glance of me, he said casually, “You’re going to be a great fuck when you’re older.” 
I learned to let my energy expand only on stage. Offstage and between sets I stayed small and drew little attention to myself. My dad made rounds and visited with patrons, and I would entertain myself by looking in a Michelob beer mirror, learning how to move each muscle in my face. 
In fifth-grade science class we were told about involuntary muscles, and how we couldn’t move them, so I set out to prove that wrong, starting with my lower eyelids. I mastered moving my ears in all directions, isolating my lower eyelids and each nostril separately, and each quarter of each lip independently. 
I loved to observe people. I watched love and life play out in a million ways, but one of the best things I learned was this: You don’t outrun pain. I saw men and women in those barrooms all trying to outrun something, some pain in their life—and man, they had pain. 
Vets broken and drifting, abused women, abused boys who had grown up to be emotionally crippled men. I saw them all trying to bury that pain in booze, sex, drugs, anger, and I saw it all before I was able to indulge in many of those behaviors myself. 
I saw that no one outran their suffering; they only piled new pain upon their original pain. I saw the pain pile up into insurmountable mountains, and I saw the price people paid who buried all that pain, and along with it their hope, joy, and chance at happiness. All because they were trying to outrun the pain rather than walk through it and heal.