Remembering Dad and Donuts

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Twenty years ago, I moved away to L.A. shortly after my Pop was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He was 61. In short order it moved to his brain, so quickly that he (and we) didn’t make it through the (textbook) stages of death and dying.

Six months after I moved across the country, Dad passed away. I was with him when he and his diminished, pain-wracked body fought to part ways. It was excruciating to watch, to see and to feel. I was witness to a violent separation of body and soul.

It remains the most profound experience of my life. Although people may say child birth and becoming a parent is life’s most incredible moment, I contend it is not. When a child is born, we become MORE. We are “added to.” We have introduced someone new to the Universe.

When we bury a parent, we suddenly feel less, feel untethered.

We are that child again, who did or didn’t get what we hoped we’d get from that parent. We are the child who was still in the process of a lifelong vow… Perhaps to prove them wrong. To make them proud… To repay their sacrifices… To splurge on them…To show them you aren’t a child any longer… That you are an adult.

So, decades years later, I’m still working on those subconscious vows I made to and because of my Dad. Sometimes they’ve served me well; sometimes not so much.

None-the-less, I know he’s proud of me, I know that I’ve passed the best of Robert W Smith onto my own son, and that funerals are grossly overpriced (he was a mortician).

As the sun comes up on the anniversary of his passing, I’m celebrating the ways he shaped and colored my world:

  • Art is worth slowing down to learn and make
  • Photos are part of the legacy we leave
  • Don’t rush the process when rolling coins
  • If your best takes longer than others, stand firm. It’s YOUR best, not theirs.
  • Enter the day slowly, preferably with soggy Corn Flakes
  • End the day in solitude
  • Burden no-one with pain or negativity that they aren’t equipped to handle
  • Give someone your smile most especially when all they have is tears
  • Honor someone’s privacy, guard the secrets given to you in confidence
  • Always be the one still waving
  • Appreciate clean bathrooms; it means someone takes pride in their job
  • Coffee with friends isn’t about the coffee
  • We are not the physical body we wear in this life; none-the-less while we are here, sometimes that’s hard to grasp
  • Apologies are hard; sometimes they come on the wings of time instead of being wrapped in words
  • Naps are good, especially the kind when you collapse exhausted diagonally across the bed
  • Penmanship makes a statement
  • Everyone deserves a matching pen and pencil set
  • Keep your bed head private
  • One day you’ll be glad you saved all of those TV guides
  • Being at your child’s recital, game or special event, isn’t nearly as important as making sure they know you believe in them
  • Have faith in the Cubbies, always say goodnight, and keep some emergency snacks on hand

And last but not least…

Sundays are made for donuts.

Pick Extraordinary People

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Who are you?

“You are most like the five people you spend time with,” so goes the saying.

Sure, sure. It makes sense. We spend time with the people who make us feel good (the definition of good being a relative and deeply personal one).  We hang with people who affirm what we know (or hope) is true.

I decided to name what makes my people so special. Not just special to me…I went bigger. How do the people I know make this sometimes-really-shitty-frustrating-and-imbalanced-planet a better place to live?

See for yourself.

I put those ass-kickin friends in this Wordle:

WordleFriends

The answers humbled me. I pinched myself. I said “Self, do you even KNOW how blessed you are? Do you even GET that you run among remarkable people?”  Yeah, I know. I really do know.

So, who are YOUR people?

Forget, for now, what it says about you. But who are they? Don’t stop with the five people closest to you; consider anyone who influences your life.

What is their mark on the world? What is the imprint they leave on you? If your experience is anything like mine, this is an exercise in extraordinary gratitude.

Dwarfed. And okay.

Funny thing is, I don’t see myself perfectly reflected among my friends. I see myself as a dwarf among giants.  These people do, see, and say things I need three lifetimes to have the balls to do.  What I do see, though, in every one of them is the person I hope to be.

And for now, I’m pretty okay with being a work in progress — and I’m banking on their goodness rubbing off on me.

Your turn ~ If you do this exercise, let me know. I’d love to see what you came up with.

P.S. If you aren’t familiar with Wordle, give it a whirl. It’s a simple, free word cloud creation site that allows you to form mini works of word art.    

How to Look More Thoughtful Than You Really Are

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Alright, kiddos, today I’m offering a lesson that will serve you well in the new year. Listen up, because I’m about to share 5 straight-up steps to looking more thoughtful than you do today.

Thoughtfulness, you ask?  Where’s the relevance? What’s the pay off? Whether it’s at work, in your love life or — for God’s sake — with your own sweet mother, thoughtfulness will smooth out many a bump in the road of life.

Square one: understand why this matters.

Think back to a pleasant surprise you’ve experienced (I said pleasant, so please play along). Got one? Now, think of another. And, since I’m seeking to demonstrate a point, please think of one more.

What do those surprises have in common? Ah, yes. Thoughtfulness. It is, don’t you see, the root of all surprises and delights.

If you’re not a “surprises and delights” kind of person, that’s cool. Let’s me give it to you another way… demonstrating thoughtfulness is the ticket to being memorable.  And in the words of novelist Isabel Allende, “You only have what you give.”

You only have what you give. True thoughtfulness, therefore, will get you everything.

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