30X30 Amy Clover depression fitness healthy outlet next chapter prevention Strong Inside Out

The next chapter

Sometimes the events in our lives don’t transition or flow smoothly to the next stage as previous ones do.  Life gives us lessons we need to learn and we may not be ready to go to the next step until we “get it”.  I’ve had several of these transition points in my life and I’ll admit some of them took me longer to get through than others.  I’ve had to change majors, jobs, living arrangements, life directions and it’s not until the last few years I’ve really grown to like change.  I really used to resist it when I was younger though.  I think part of my problem was I was afraid to change because I feared the next point I was headed towards wasn’t going to be as good as where I was.  Really didn’t look forward to the future as I recall, kind of a dismal way to go through things as a kid and then into my adult life.

Luckily I was able to learn that the next chapter usually contained things I didn’t even see or imagine possible.  That’s the cool part about life, the wonderful surprises.  I had made new friends (Hi Berni!), learned new skills (my theater background) and sometimes got new rewards (still miss that Toyota Celica GT).  By embracing change and ambiguity I was able to jump into new roles in various jobs and not be held back by my own analysis paralysis.  I love learning now.

I will share that there have been a few times in my life that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the next chapter.  One of the lessons I needed to learn was finding a sense of direction, and that is not always easy.  One of my weaknesses in the past was needing all of the information at hand to make the most accurate, calculated decision.  If I didn’t have that I felt like I couldn’t move forward on something (like a job change, education opportunity, or community partnership) and when you don’t move you are stagnant.  When things are stagnant for a while then that can spell trouble.  For me, when I got stagnant I had fought bouts of depression and some of them were pretty intense.

I recall that there is a sense of hopelessness that seems to feel like you’re roped in and the more you wallow in it the more seductive it becomes until you believe that there are no options.  I’ve learned my patterns and triggers and luckily know what that veil of illusion feels like.  And since I know that dance it can’t get the best of me anymore.  I’ve made it through some pretty dark, toxic times but am happy to be here to experience everyone and everything I do.  I think one of the keys is finding an outlet for the emotions and energy so that one can heal and balance.  For me things like cross country running, theater, weight training, and meditation can all be great outlets for me to stay out of a funk.

That’s why I when I came across the organization Strong Inside Out I really saw the light of what Amy Clover is doing.  When I read her story I could relate to what she had gone through.  But I was incredibly inspired by the efforts to give back and help raise awareness of what depression can do.  I was fortunate enough to be able to have connected with Strong Inside Out and am happy to help host one of her 30X30 projects in Milwaukee on Saturday April 6th.  I encourage you to look at what Amy has done and support her efforts in raising awareness and funds on her national tour.  All proceeds benefit the organization To Write Love on Her Arms.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions too!

Thank you Amy for being a great example to all of us in what kind of potential we can bring to life, I appreciate your efforts and for affecting the world around you in a healthy, positive manner.  Most of all, thank you for being here to teach the lessons you’ve learned.  I know that there is probably someone that needs to hear what you have to say.

allow creativity ego learning lessons share what you do stuck in a rut using one's voice writing

Putting it all together (and getting out of the rut)

Before I really get into my first post in quite some time (over a year) I have to share some of the challenges with firing up the creative engines.  The first is when one is out of the habit of doing something it takes a certain momentum to overcome the current rut.  Kind of like running a wheelbarrow over soft ground, if you want to get out of that track then there is a certain amount of force needed to overcome the potential energy of the machine getting past the height of the groove.  That’s fine, it’s the way it is.  But one’s ego can get comfortable in the stability of current situation so then it can create all kinds of excuses to stay in said situation which make perfect sense.  The stronger the ego the stronger the argument and reason for lack of change which is part of the reason for no posts.  Sorry folks, ego got me on that one.  So through the gift of awareness I was able to see this illusion and dissolve the grip it had on what I wanted to do.  Sorry ego, you lose this December.

Ok, next I have to admit that in a year’s time there are so many changes (good and challenging) and lessons and growth that happen that sometimes it’s hard to pick where to start.  Not a bad problem to have but when ego creates yet another excuse as to why you “don’t know where to start yet” it can distort what you have.  So really part of what I want to do is kick up my creativity again and start “sharing the gold” I keep picking up.  Overall the last 4 years of my life have resulted in dramatic shift and change, most if it which has not been easy but all of it which has brought me a healthier perspective and out of the not so nice places I had been.  I think some of my lessons and observations need to be shared, hopefully so someone can learn by reading an example instead of going through a tough situation.  I usually learn the hard way, glad to share lessons so everyone doesn’t have to go that route.

Next, I’ll just share a few observations from the last few weeks as there have been some interesting things I’ve learned.  Part of it is using one’s voice.  I’m inspired by authors, coaches, and consultants who have made shifts in their lives to more satisfying work, and specifically work that helps others.  I find many of these on Twitter and LinkedIn and love discovering what people put out there.  I think in my own transformations I’ve gone through I’ve discovered I’m the type that needs to make an impact on the world around me.  Some of my favorite Twitter feeds include Danielle Dowling(@DDowling_), Danielle LaPorte(@DanielleLaPorte), Berni Xiong(@BerniXiong), Stephanie Churchill(@TotallyZen) Nikki Sixx (@NikkiSixx), Cynthia Bazin(@TheSmartChic) and many more.  I’m sure I’m leaving some out but I’m trying to pour a gallon into a shotglass and this is what I’ve got.

So…when I was driving home from work a couple weeks ago a thought hit my mind that asked,

“What if these people didn’t share what they do?”

I sat with that for a moment.  Then reflection turned on me:

“The same thing I’m doing by not sharing what I do”

I reflected on action and consequence while not getting sideswiped by a delivery truck on I-43 south and imagined the outcomes if I were writing more, if I were leading a healthier lifestyle, and making the impact I want to.  It scared me to think about inaction having negative outcomes and the lost potential on others.  The reason I think about this from time to time is that when I do post something (blog, facebook, twitter) I usually get some positive feedback about how people like hearing those things.  So to those who encourage me, thank you.  Your comments are a source of motivation!

Bottom line is I know I make an impact and my awareness of this fact proves that I need to continue going in that direction.  So I turn this inner reflection outward and also share that it is important to share the lessons we learn as they have profound impacts on others.  Sometimes we don’t know the degree of how we influence the world around us but the meetings we have, the comments we make, the facial expressions we do, ARE noticed and DO have worth.  So does the silence an inaction.

I thank those who do put out positive messages and encourage people to improve and change as I’ve noticed and it’s helped me.  I thank those who directly tell me that they like my insights and inspirations, I noticed that as well.  And to all of the things I’m not aware of that have impacted me, thank you as I still appreciate it.  I encourage others as well to do what you do.  Start that website, pick up the blog, make the job change, or pick up the phone and ask that question.  This is the first thing I wanted to share in firing up the forgotten blog, but more insights to follow.  Please share if this message resonates with you or if you feel someone needs encouragement in getting started in something.  Chances are their efforts are needed and going to have an impact.

Thanks for the time and attention,


My take on Career Entrepreneurship


     There are many reasons to take your career seriously but I wanted to share a concept I came across 18 months ago that makes managing that a little more clear. In a conversation with an Assistant Dean at one of the local Universities, Sam White spoke to me about Career Entrepreneurship. It’s the concept of managing one’s career, almost like a business. This may sound dry or too corporate but this strategy can apply to almost any career path. Here is my take on it…

     In managing a business, an owner needs to be conscious of who their audience is and what the demand is for their commodity/product/service/experience*. Being able to satisfy that demand and reach into new markets is how organizations pay the bills. Pretty basic. But how can one do the same with their career? Use similar principals such as differentiation, growth and marketing.

     Differentiation: With so many choices out there, why would a person choose Starbucks over Peet’s or Caribou? Each has a different approach to doing the same type of business like theme, product quality, or core values. You as a job seeker are the same. There may be many similar applicants with similar training but who you are is what makes you different. It’s important to know what value you have and bring to the table, that’s what stands out on an application or interview. Use this to your advantage, discover why you’re different and what personal traits you have that others don’t.

     Growth: Life is change and as long as we are alive, we can continue to grow. So what do we want to do once we land this position? Is another degree or certificate necessary? Perhaps a promotion is a target goal. Whatever it may be, it’s important to have an idea of where to go next. Otherwise one can get stagnant and lose momentum. Have you ever wanted to make a change but not sure where to go? That is common (been there myself) but to move forward you should probably have an idea of what possibilities there are. If you don’t know then you could ask someone in that field or talk to someone in a career center or job development agency. Rely on your network to help keep you energized, sometimes we need people’s help and by talking about these possibilities it can give you that spark you need.

     Marketing: This is a way to keep your professional self out there. We’re aware of many products out there because there are messages like TV commercials, magazine ads and billboards to raise awareness. You can do the same for yourself with social media including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. What you put out there is visible to others and if you craft your message tactfully and tastefully you can gain a following of like minded people. Utilize things like this that you already do to help portray what you want without too much extra effort. If you do go this route I’d suggest doing some research on personal branding, there are many professionals out there that have made businesses out if it.

     These are 3 things you can do to help manage your career more closely. The thing I like about it is that you take control over it instead of letting someone else decide for you. I’m a strong advocate of self control and one’s career has plenty of room for this. It also gives you a fighting chance in a tight economy. Better to adapt to the times than to wonder what happened to you. It’s your life and your path, make what you can out of it!

*I cite experience as something salable after reading “The Experience Economy” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore.  Great read!
career career shift down economy downsizing small business

Making your way in tough times

I was fortunate enough to have had an inspiring conversation today with a woman named Mary. I ran into her when she was looking for a van to add to her business. I asked her what her business was and she shared that it was an online store which sold sport equipment, home, shop and hobby supplies. I was grateful she then told me how it all happened.

Mary shared that she had lost her position with the company she had been with for numerous years. Downsizing had eliminated 70% of the workforce there, an unfortunate number. She had been out of work for a long time, was not even able to get a job at Burger King for minimum wage because they thought she wouldn’t stick around. While unemployment was helping cushion the blow the economy dealt, she had an interesting experience with Ebay. Mary had sold a collection of Disney videos (VHS version) to collectors and brought in a decent profit. She then decided to try selling another lot of a different product and had similar success. This led her to internet commerce where she eventually was able to find out what was selling well and then move into wholesale purchasing (which led to bigger sales and profits). No more need for unemployment!

Now with storefronts on Ebay and Amazon, Mary shared that the business is expanding and brings in 5 digits in sales per month! They are even considering hiring someone to help out with the growth as they can go into more venues. I think this is remarkable that someone had taken the challenges of a down economy and turned it into a business they enjoy. I felt very inspired to share this story with my readers and social media outlets as it inspires hope. Just because one door closes, doesn’t mean that good times end. In fact newer, better things may come after!

Embrace change and welcome new possibilities. One may not know where something leads but I suggest letting spirit guide you and be open to what is in your path. I’ve learned that I may not see why something is happening or how I’m supposed to use what’s in front of me but sometimes when I just accept it that eventually the answers are apparent. I’m grateful Mary shared her story with me and gave me permission to retell it. Think about it and see what opportunities are within you. A positive change may be in your near future 🙂


P.S. Here is a link to Mary’s business. Never had the rubber band gun before…

career coaching self confidence take credit you're awesome

Take credit, You’re Awesome!

I’ve been coaching students in preparing to get ready for the job search and I’m finding a common theme…they don’t know how great they’ve done in the past! One thing I focus on as a Career Advisor is being able to pull out the experiences people have had and apply them to the upcoming career they want to do. The coach in me has to work on having dialogue to pull out those achievements and get people to be able to articulate them. So often I’m finding very good people that haven’t been told by supervisors or managers what a good job they did. Maybe it was poor communication or lack of priority but these employees sometimes didn’t know how much they went above and beyond for them. I see this as missed opportunity to harness the talent of these people, I imagine the things that could have been accomplished in those organizations. However these students have chosen a new path and I now imagine how well they’ll treat people in the medical field! And I imagine how well they can do in a new organization with something they really want to be doing. My main point is that there are in all of us far more successes and accomplishments than we’re aware of. We should stop and reflect on these and remember how well we did. Then going forward, think of how much we will accomplish in the future when we focus our efforts. Maybe you could do that career change. Maybe you could achieve a personal goal, the key is KNOWING your much more than you think you are 😉 There should be a Take Credit You’re Awesome day, that would be a cool holiday to celebrate!

authentic self being liked people pleaser Sixx

Like Me!

I came across a post on Facebook from Nikki Sixx this week that got me thinking about making people like you. Not the ‘thumbs up’ icon but I mean thinking about the value people hold on being liked. It was in response to a quote on his page: “To be loved is fortunate but to be hated is to achieve distinction” In reply he put: “SUE,KILLER Quote…I try to achieve a 50/50 reaction from people..50% love me,my music,art etc and 50% don’t get it or just flat detest me…I’ve been on the same mission since i was a kid…Life is a balancing act…Thank YOU..N Whats your outlook on life guys?…..Do you NEED to be loved by everybody?” Nikki’s facebook page had this on Thursday, 9:02am. It can be found here: (I like to cite!) Ok, so I was thinking about different influences in life that teach you to want to be liked by everyone. Magazines, movies, promotions, red carpet awards, advertisements, all of these things try and shape behavior. The very idea that you have to be liked by as many people as possible can create dysfunction and lead you to act in a way that is against one’s own nature. I think the problem with this concept of being liked by the absolute majority is that it puts the approval of self in the eyes of others and in essence, gives away some of your own power by letting others be the judge. If one isn’t careful then one might not hear the inner self tell you what you want to be and how to live life as we become too busy watching for cues around us and reading other messages. Ugh. It’s especially hard when we surround ourselves with people who support those standards we hold ourselves to. For example if we think that obtaining a Corvette is a symbol of status then we’ll buy one and join the Corvette owner’s club to get that assurance from other owners. I’ve seen it. (never owned a vette for the record but did join the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club) So what about that 50/50 ratio? I’ve been thinking about that for 2 days now and I think the answer just hit me tonight. For me it comes down to whatever ratio helps support me in becoming the most authentic me. I don’t feel the need to have everybody like me anymore, I’m more concerned with staying on a path of self development and doing the things that are most suited to me being me. Along the way I’m going to meet plenty of people who will help me with that and some that will not. I’ll have to foster the relationships that support me in the goal and let go of ones that interfere. I mean, why would you want to spend time with someone who keeps you in a box or tries to change you? Life’s too short. I’ll share a couple stories that shaped me when I was younger. In 1st grade I won an award one month for favorite student in class, voted on by the class itself. I had no idea how I won, I just knew people liked me. It pumped my little 6 year old ego! Then the following month when I didn’t win it I was devastated…Why wouldn’t people like me? The next months I made it a goal to win that award as many times as possible because I knew I was a good kid! In retrospect I think it had to be a different winner every month, but I had no clue. But that shaped me for the next couple years when I moved around a few times and changed schools. I felt it was important to go in and be liked! That sank in a little bit and made me want to be smart in class and be ‘the good kid’ because that’s what people liked (or so I thought). Not bad that I got good grades and stayed out of trouble but my motive was off. I had started becoming a people pleaser. I had reinforcement from adults and people in authority positions and as long as they were happy then the world seemed good (or so my 9 year old mind thought). Fast forward to middle school when I was amid all the chaos of that age level as well as family issues. I had too much inner discord to deal with to effectively please the world around me. Adapting to changes at that age takes energy and at the time there were family issues on top of that so I was really a mess. Ultimately in all of this, due to my behaviors, I was no longer liked at a great extent by peers and even some adults around me. With that (percieved) external support gone I felt lost, weak, unworthy. Perhaps context would help give greater understanding to those feelings but that would take too long to explain in this post, besides this isn’t the therapists couch :p My point is as a young person I found reinforcement in being a people pleaser but in reality I was not true to myself. I needed to deal with the issues at hand and work on my confidence issues that my 14 year old self was facing and by putting the approval and power outside myself I never had the strength to make that happen. It’s OK, I learned to do that later and now appreciate the value of that lesson 🙂 So really I’m not in support of doing whatever it takes to get approval, I’d be a terrible politician having to look at poll numbers constantly. But I have learned the value in acting true to yourself and accepting the help of those who cross that more authentic path. It’s easier accepting the love and support of those around me that love and support me for who I am. It’s also more authentic and I have a strong gratitude to my support network. I think it’s easy to say it’s OK to be disliked in some capacity. -J


One of those monumental changes

I’ve taken a short hiatus on writing, I’ve been quite busy building changes in my life (new job, new organizations, trying to relocate) but I need to share something. When a profound influence crosses one’s path there tends to be a node. At these nodes things can either continue on the same direction or redirect onto a new path. In my life it has either been books I’ve read or people I’ve met and I need to share one of these recent influences.

But first I need to share the change. I’ve been taking my life in a positive, new direction but actually going back on the path I’ve been trying to go down for a long time. Things like coaching, counseling, meditation, and workshops have helped me completely change my life for the better. This post is going to focus on one individual and his works though. Through my interactions with him I got past something. I’ve historically on the inside had a somewhat pessimistic view on mankind. I’ve had faith but not necessarily faith in humanity. Maybe it’s the existential literature I grew to love in my college days or the pessimistic media that shaped that belief but it pains me to admit this but I just didn’t have faith that the world could change for the better. Now I don’t mean transactional skills like math, mechanics, law, medicine, degrees, promotions or actions like that. I meant really the transformational evolution that took a person from one way of being to another. One lifestyle change, or state of mind, as a collective.

For me this was maybe some kind of problem created by my ego (in the colloquial sense as well as Jungian) but fortunately there have been things shattering my ego lately and I mean that in a very positive sense. I’ve come across a reason to no longer hold on to that pessimism, to fully (not partially) believe in humanity. I’ve looked at my own judgmental part of me and been able to let go of something. Maybe it’s me letting go of fear that things won’t be able to be better in this world. Maybe I’m in touch with something greater than fear or logic or probability. Maybe I’m ready to embrace the possibility of positivity and a greater love in this world.

I believe now that all people can choose to be what they want to be. I believe that all people can change no matter where they are in life. I don’t care what statistics or probability lead me to conclude, I believe now that no matter what the circumstances are that anyone can at any time open themselves up to the possibility of change for the better. I no longer have 70 year old philosophy holding me back. I no longer have the shadow of doubt limiting my belief system. I’ve been able to let that go.

I met a man named Arno Micheals this year and he is the reason I’ve been able to let those things go. Arno has written the amazing story of events he’s gone through and shared his changes in life with me. His book and story can be found here:

The Book

Arno tells the story of his hateful past but also how he was able to escape the dark clutches of hate. His powerful imagery made me look at some dark aspects of life but understand that in any of that, there could be a light shining somewhere that opens the door for positive transformation. In one of our conversations Arno had told me the stories of others who have made similar transformations. I’m not sure I would have heard these stories had I not met him but I certainly would not have my total faith in humanity either. Check out Arno’s organization, Life After Hate, and be amazed at the stories people share. Consider donating to this cause because many are making transformations based on his work. Here’s the website:

Life After Hate

Thank you Arno for changing my view on humanity. Thank you for helping me get past my pessimistic view of mankind and helping me get past my ‘faith in good but not faith in humanity’ state of being. You are one of the amazing ones, friend.


Dan Millman pride pride in what you do Vargo Warrior

Pride in what you do leads to Zen?

I came across a music video on YouTube by Vargo which featured some lyrics by my fav spiritual author, Dan Millman. In the song, Warrior, a few of Millman’s comments were woven into the song. One of them I really loved was the one about the man on the Japanese rail line who’s job it was to clean the platforms. Millman says that as he polished the railing, this individual took great pride in how clean he made everything. Here’s a link to the video, the lyrics are great and although I’m not a huge fan of German techno pop I really got into this because of the message:

Millman says that this man looked like a Zen master as he had such focus and pride about what he did that it didn’t make a difference about status. According to Millman this man was no less than an author, teacher, doctor or anyone. This story reminded me of when I was in Nara and stopped into a McDonald’s. Out of curiosity I really wanted to know how an American restaurant would translate into Japanese life. What stood out was that the 16 year old kid behind the counter was very prideful in his work at McDonald’s. He had a strong posture, spoke well and was very respectful. But the way he acted made me want to respect him!

This gets me to thinking about self perception. In America there are certainly prestige levels associated with different lines of work, different communities, even different cars we drive. Reflecting back on my career there are jobs that I felt proud of but I’m not sure I ever felt like that 16 year old Japanese kid. I realize that this is because of my perception. I didn’t have the level of pride that he did. I didn’t polish the railing like the platform cleaner did. Sure I held standards but I never worked like that before. Actually I did when I covered for the director of the Career Transition Center. She was out on leave for a month so I filled in and I really liked what I did. I took great pride in being able to do what I did. That taught me something.

I realize I can put my best into anything I do. My sense of pride comes from me alone, not what some group of people tries to associate a level of prestige. If I keep in touch with myself in how I feel, rather than how others will try to make me feel then I will stay balanced. I will also stay in control of my life more! Think about how wonderful it would be to maintain control of your life without others dictating! It is sweet let me tell you, and a wonderful lesson in Zen for me.

So if you’re going to do something, do it only the way you can. Put yourself into it, pour your heart into it. When you do you will do much better, and only the job that you can do. No one else will be able to match. So, are you ready to be great at what you do?


Berni Xiong Reiki

Reiki Session experience

This afternoon I had my first official Reiki session with Berni Xiong. Reiki is a form of energy healing as pioneered by Dr. Usui in the 1920’s. I had came across this concept a few years ago but hadn’t done anything with it. In the last few months Reiki has crossed my path several times and I felt it was time to start exploring. I’ve actually started listening to those queues in my life 😉

In a brief overview it lasts about an hour and consists of meditation and healing touch on strategic energy points on the body. Berni had nice reiki music in the background and some scented candles to make things relaxing and easy to let go. As I’ve had experience with meditation and Gi Gong breathing in martial arts, this was easy for me to get into. But I can say that anyone could go in and easily enjoy a session like this without prior experience in those fields. Just ask, she’ll give you a good mantra to focus on 🙂

The one issuing the service acts to channel the ambient energy in the surrounding area to the client which is to help the natural flow of energy. I won’t give all the details of the session but I will report that I’m feeling great and a bit more free on the inside. I think for me the Reiki session got my energy flowing a bit better and unclogged a few things on the inside. I would also describe myself as I write this as a bit more clean and focused. Much appreciated!

Berni is a wonderful individual to perform this service. She is great at sharing how she got into it, what her experiences are and how it can benefit. Berni is such a genuine person with a realistic sense of humor, she puts you right at ease. I would certainly recommend time with her, she will impress you. She’s very good at what she does!

One bit of advice, when she says you may need some time at the end to come out of it…take her advice :p

Here are some links to do some more reading:

FAQ from

Berni’s Reiki page

basement Jungian archetype shadow

Throw it in the basement!

I’m going to go Jungian again with a funny story about cleaning the house. We’ve recently been getting things organized and cleaned up for our house to be on the market. Now I admit I don’t always keep my house clean and show ready so this is an adjustment for me to keep it to that level. But more on that later. So sometimes if you don’t know what to do with something you find a closet or a room to put it in until later. I think that’s pretty common. But 2 weeks ago when we started doing that I stopped and realized how symbolic this was. There were things we needed to organize or find a better place for but instead of taking the time we just tossed it in the basement. I then realized the whole time we have lived here that was our slow, steady process. If we didn’t want to deal with it, we just found some closet space or another shelf downstairs. Only this time I knew it was going to catch up with us.

So after all our projects were done and the house was listed, we kind of relaxed a bit because we felt we had some time to reorganize the basement before our first showing. I mean it’s not immediately you get a request. Well actually it was. So we then had to spend the evening rearranging the closets, straightening the storage areas and cleaning up the basement. How appropriate that when you really don’t want to deal with something at a particular time that events in life unfold which force you to face them.

Now the Jungian method would say that the closets and basement are the unconscious areas where we hide things in our mind. Sometimes if there are issues we don’t want to deal with we hide them or deny them in parts of ourselves that we rarely look at. In life though there seems to be a tendency to have those aspects make themselves known (many times indirectly) when we didn’t really see that opportunity coming. However, once you deal with them there is a tremendous load lifted.

So now that all the closets are presentable and the basement looks fabulous I don’t cringe when someone wants to walk through them. I can actually be proud to show off what we have because our place looks very good! In fact our place looks better than when we toured it and I feel good that we made the place look better than it originally was. I guess from this I learned that you can either deal with things in the now or in the future but if you choose to delay the process there will be more to clean up later.

Just wanted to share


Here are the keys to a Porsche 911 Turbo S

I was thinking back to a situation that occurred about 5 years ago. I was managing a Starbucks and one of my regular customers was a car enthusiast. He had a 2004 Porsche 911 Turbo S (a $140,000 car mind you) and man did he keep this thing sharp. He consistently cleaned it, treated the leather seats, and made sure to do the proper washing and waxing to keep things immaculate. He and I got to talking about what we liked about cars and he (very unexpectedly) gave me the keys and told me to take it for a spin.


Yes, he wanted me to test drive it and let me know how it felt. I told him that I’d love to but would be pretty nervous driving someone else’ car, especially one that was a six-figure car. He convinced me by saying he’d be in the passenger seat. So I did take it out and was caught very off guard by a car that can hit 0-60 in 4.3 seconds! He did make me do a sprint and then some freeway driving and let me tell you I learned a new appreciation for automotive engineering.

A month later I found out that he traded it in for the 2005 model. He then wanted me to drive that one to give my input on the differences. There were some slight model improvements, and he was unsure if it was that significant a difference. I drove that one on the freeway, no sprinting though as there was less than 500 miles on the odometer.

When I got back, we had a good talk about the differences and feel of the car. He then shared that he takes great joy out of sharing what he has in life. He had done very well financially but really thought things were only valuable if they were able to be enjoyed by the people he knew.

I was floored. I think most people who had a $140k+ vehicle would be very protective and worried about their expensive possession, but not him. But that taught me a wonderful lesson. It is easy to get caught up in preserving and protecting but really it is more important to share what you have. If you get over the fear, then you can share what you have/are and then really allow others in too. Life shouldn’t be an exclusive club but really a way to share our experiences and help each other out.

A year later I was at a park and noticed a girl who was having car troubles. I went over to help and assessed it was a corroded battery and needed a jump. At the time I had my Celica GT which happened to be one of her favorite cars. While I was working on getting her car started I unlocked mine, tossed her the keys and told her to check it out. She was floored! I said that it was no big deal and that if she wanted to sit in it and look around the engine. She loved it and said that it would be one of the cars she wanted to get in the future. It was a little thing to me but was just happy to share. Now it wasn’t the same as what I went through, but nice to be able to have a similar impact.

So what would you like to share? What guarded possession or attribute would make someone’s day? What would you need to let go of to share that one thing? It’s an interesting give and take process but one I’d invite you to try out. It’s worth it!


Nail in the stairs

I recently noticed a nail in one of the stairs that leads into my basement. It started poking up about a quarter inch or so and found it quite annoying. This happened one time before and found there are 2 ways to handle it:

The first time this happened I found it annoying. Occasionally I’d step on it and get annoyed. Then I started remembering where it was and then stepped just to the side of it. Occasionally my sock would get caught on it and one time I even tripped when carrying some laundry. Luckily I didn’t fall and remembered to step to the side. Eventually I kept stepping on it and tripped one more time and then used expletives and got really angry. There was about 18 months of this and I finally got a hammer and pounded it down.

The second time I noticed it I got a hammer right away and pounded it down.

Lesson here is that when there is a minor obstacle in your way, you don’t need to get mad, or curse or even avoid the situation. Small roadblocks are easily dealt with and once dealt with you don’t need to even think about it. I think of how foolish I would have felt if I would have tripped, got injured, all because I didn’t grab a hammer. Man, how lame!

If you find a small roadblock in your way and know how to deal with it then just do. Don’t put it off.

The nail that sticks out gets hammered-Japanese proverb


"They’re no good"

Over the Memorial Day weekend I was spending time up at the in-law’s cabin on Legend Lake (Keshana). While on the dock fishing I heard an 8 year old across the way ask his dad about what kind of fish has spots and is grey. The dad replies that it was probably a rock bass and ‘they’re no good’.

No good? Why is there no perceived value in that type of fish? Or that particular fish? Isn’t it part of a food chain or some life cycle? At the very least, if you’ve ever hooked into any kind of bass on an ultralight fishing pole I can tell you there is a good fight coming your way!

OK, back to my point. That dad is subtly teaching his son that there are forms of life that are of no value and can be disregarded. Two points related to this come from the Dalai Lama. First, all sentient beings desire to minimize suffering in life and a sentient being is one that can perceive some kind of suffering. Second, if you can’t help a sentient being at least don’t hurt them. I think if you disregard life as not valuable then you won’t take to mind these two pleas from a prominent spiritual leader.

To me, sentient beings are trying to live life the best they can in various ways and really don’t want to be hurt. By keeping an open mind and an open heart one can remember the inherent value in all sentient beings and when possible actually help them along this path of life that we are on. So remember that subtle messages can elude to perspectives that can alter perceptions and philosophy of life.

“They’re all good.”


Weeding the garden

This weekend I decided to take care of our small garden. Last fall I put in a bunch of leaves, grass clippings and shredded newspaper and tilled it into the dirt (by hand, no power equipment here). This spring I’ve been tossing coffee grounds into it for about a month and figured it was time to turn that into the dirt as well. Before I could do that I also needed to get the weeds out. Lots of thistles in this dirt box!

So I spent about 20 minutes digging and pulling up all these weeds and then another 10 minutes turning the soil with the hoe (small garden actually) and it was very rewarding to see all the stuff mixed together. I then felt this was very metaphorical for my own life.

I’ve been adding beneficial things to my life over the last several months and getting rid of some things I don’t need anymore. Had I not taken the time to get rid of what I didn’t need I’d have all this good stuff mixed in with the distractions. Sure I could plant some tomatoes or zucchini but if it’s competing with all the thistles then it would be hard to tell what’s what. Also, they’d be competing for the same nutrients (energy) and the fruit of the labor would be diminished.

It’s spring time, probably a good time to start cleaning things out. What do you need? What can you stop carrying? Maybe you need to clean out the basement and have a garage sale (literally). Figuratively you may need to assess what’s on your shoulders and what you can get rid of. That way there will be much more energy to put into all the good things in your life.

Anyway, happy spring and enjoy the weather. There’s no time like now.


Curry Vegetarian Stir Fry

I’ve had a few requests for how I do this so I think I’ll write out the recipe. Very easy to do, I chopped the veggies ahead of time when I had a free moment and then made the sauce when I was in the cooking process.

At this point I start a post of rice on the side, by the time it finishes cooking you’ll be almost done with the stir fry…

Chop 1 zucchini into .5 inch by 2 inch strips. Then, take 3 large bok choy leaves and slice them down the middle. Slice at a 30 degree angle into 2 inch strips. This angle increases surface area and helps cooking! Next take about 8-10 green onions and cut them into 3 inch parts. I discarded the leafy part on top but you can use it if you want. I then cut these 3 inch parts in half the long way, I love these in stir fry! After that chop a green (or yellow or red) pepper into half inch strips and then cut them in half using the same 30 degree angle used on the bok choy. Finally, you can cut some mushrooms into halves as well, I love using baby bella for these.

Now for the sauce. All you do is put about a quarter cup of soy sauce into an 8 oz measuring cup, add 1 TBSP of sesame oil, 1 minced clove of garlic, .5 tsp sweet curry, .5 tsp hot curry and .25 tsp of Maharaja spice. Add about a half cup of water and then 1.5 TBSP corn starch. Mix this well and make sure there are no clumps of the starch left.

Tofu time! Using 1 lb, I just cube the tofu (firm tofu works very well for this) into .5 inch sized pieces and that helps the surface area absorb more flavor.

Now, start with some sesame oil in a wok and turn the heat up to high. When the oil is hot add the bok choy, mushrooms and peppers. Keep these things moving until they’re tender but not mushy. Set aside. Add some more sesame oil, just enough needed to cook the rest of the veggies along with the rest of the veggies and once they’re done, set those aside as well. If you cook all the vegetables at once you get a lot of moisture and you wind up braising them instead of stir frying them and some of them will get mushy while others get just right. That’s my preference.

Next, put a few TBSP of oil in the wok along with 3 dried red chilies and another clove of minced garlic. Cook these for up to 30 seconds or until the garlic starts turning brown. Be careful, it cooks fast! Then add the tofu and stir fry that until the exterior absorbs the flavor. When that’s all done, add in your sauce mixture (you probably should stir it before you add it) and once that starts thickening, turn off the heat. Add the cooked vegetables to the tofu/sauce mixture and make sure everything gets coated.

Bask in the aroma.

Your house will smell awesome at this point so enjoy. I like to put this over jasmine rice because of the aromatic characteristics of it. Otherwise I use medium grain, just my preference.

Any questions, feel free to ask!