As of today…

This transitional, uncertain, ill-defined space, this space in which you find yourself as a result of a recent change, this space which has you feeling anxious, uncomfortable, longing for “normal,” this is your space, but only as of today.

There are two things to remember about this space:

  1. It is not a permanent condition. It is, in fact, a season.
  2. You get to choose how to be in it, how to feel about it.

You may feel anxious and displaced but those feelings are only a tiny fraction of those available to you, those you can choose to experiment with and explore if you are inclined to do so.

You could add feelings of curiosity or hopefulness. You could go from withdrawn to activated or even involved. You could claim your agency and decide to investigate the opportunity, share your questions with others, lead through connection, transparency and disclosure.

You could choose to find a productive energy in the unknown, to allow your vulnerability to inform your sense of possibility.

You might even decide that how you’re feeling about the change right now will simply be as of today. Tomorrow, you have another chance to expand the list of what you feel, incorporating the hard feelings into a much broader list that will serve you in this season of change and well into the next.


nature sky sunset the mountains

Photo by NO NAME on Pexels.com

Some good, hard questions

Do I insist on action when more reflection is needed?

Do I got lost in reflection when I need to get moving?

Do I default to the comfort of my competence when the discomfort of connection is what the moment requires?

Do I tend to think my way into a new way of feeling or feel my way into a new way of thinking?

Am I living from the outside in or from the inside out?

Am I spending more energy on fitting in when I should be standing out? Or on standing out when I should be fitting in?

Do I stubbornly remain at my desk when my body is asking me to get up, to move, to walk, to breathe, to play?


adorable blur bubble child

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Living a Redwood Life

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy
is in the eyes of others only
a green thing which stands in the way…
As a man is, so he sees.”

{William Blake}


Last year at this time, with the semester drawing to a close, I decided to share with my students some images from a recent trip to the Humboldt Redwood State Park here in California.

I wanted to share my childlike enthusiasm for these magnificent trees. I wanted to inspire them to seek out wonder and awe in their lives.  I wanted them to remember that in the field of “management” (which is what the course tells us we are studying) we do well to remember that organizational life is first and always a human endeavor.

I wanted them to believe my admonition that a profound sense of awe and wonder – an appreciation for the spectacular miracle that is any living and learning system – is essential if we are to appropriately honor the very real human beings present in our workplaces, responsive to our decisions, trusting of our intentions.

I then took it a step further. I encouraged, even challenged them to choose to be redwoods in their own communities. I suggested that such a choice comes with great risk because a redwood outside of a redwood forest would be seen as a peculiar, if fascinating anomaly. I then suggested that living a “redwood life,” conspicuous though it might be, might just inspire others to do the same, and that we might just create an entire forest of people fulfilling their potential for growth and impact. In fact, it would be the only way for them to survive.

Redwoods are shallow rooted, a shocking realization given their massive size. Instead of deep roots to support them they use their upper limbs to make contact with their neighbors and together form a dense network of mutual well-being.

Stand tall, reach out, help one another. Live a life of wonder and awe at the gifts of living and learning.


fullsizeoutput_1a86

Poem for a Sunday Morning

Chinese Foot Chart

{Kay Ryan}

Each part of us
alerts another part.
Press a spot in
the tender arch and
feel the scalp
twitch. We are no
match for ourselves
but our own release.
Each touch
unlatches some
remote lock. Look,
boats of mercy
embark from
our heart at the
oddest knock.


“America Windows” (detail), Marc Chagall – The Art Institute of Chicago

Towards Aliveness

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.”

– from “Sweet Darkness” by David Whyte


Move towards aliveness. As best you can, keep moving towards it.

Resist the pull to the middle, miles from the edge of your experience. The edge of your experience is where aliveness lives.

Aliveness is not “happiness” or “satisfaction.” It is not “achievement” or “success” or “confidence” or “knowing.” These are too small, too confining.

Aliveness is a persistent invitation, found both in the bright light of day and the darkest hours of the night. It is the invitation we all feel to have a bigger conversation with the unknown than we believe we are capable of having. It is the first, tentative steps toward a kind stranger, the first uncertain words spoken in greeting. It is saying, “yes, I will keep walking and see where this leads.”

Aliveness is a loyal companion, wagging with exuberance when we arrive home at the end of the day, ready to play. It begs us to step out, to engage, to explore.

When we decline, it lays down close by, resigned to our disinterest, and hopeful for what tomorrow might bring. Maybe tomorrow.

Move toward aliveness. Begin a new conversation, one that starts with “Yes.”


IMG_7247

Margarita the Super Dog

Feeling Words

I was reminded the other day of just how easily my default responses flow from my highly developed rational self (left brain) rather than from my more vulnerable, less practiced emotional self (right brain).

I seek concrete explanations and action steps – my need to know how and why and to know it right now! – because they are easier to process than the abstractions of feeling that are implicit in every interaction.

As a result, my emotional vocabulary is far less developed than my logical one.

Fine, good, alright and No, I’m just tired are safe, easy substitutes for what’s really going on with us most of the time. They are shortcuts that rob us of a deeper understanding that is required for any relationship to be sustained and to grow.

Fresh off of this insight I decided to see what I could find online about “feeling words” and found this very helpful resource.

I’m going to print a few copies and keep them close by so that I am better equipped to both offer and inquire about a more thoughtful understanding of the feelings present at any given time.

I’m guessing that’s going to make my conversations a little bit scary and weird for awhile. I’m also guessing that, with practice, it will make them better, more meaningful and more fulfilling.

feelings-wheel-explained

Photo credit: The Chalkboard / Loom

Under Cover of Darkness

I have an enduring memory from childhood that both frightens and comforts me.

At about 5 years old, I woke one morning to discover that I could not see. Disoriented and afraid, I stumbled to the hall and felt my way to my parents’ room where I cried out in fear of my blindness.

My mother calmed me down by applying a warm washcloth to my eyes. I had gone to bed congested and through the night the discharge of that congestion covered my eyes and sealed them shut.

Slowly, the warm cloth broke through the barrier and I was able to blink my way back to sight.

From peaceful sleep to the terror of my unexpected blindness to the relief at its swift dissipation I traveled a long road of revelation in a very short time.

It was not for my 5-year-old self to make sense of that revelation, of course, but it remains the life work of the person who types these words. To be blinded by the discharge of unseen forces working under cover of darkness is to awake to the terrifying reality of no control.

I am not afraid of the dark, but I am sometimes afraid that when waking into blindness I may not be able to summon the mother within myself, the part of me that knows where to find the washcloth, to soak it in warm water and to hold it to my eyes with persistence and care.

When trapped in darkness, will I acquiesce to fear, or will I bring myself back into conversation with the light?


grayscale photo of person sleeping

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

Silence Amidst the Noise

Above all, be alone with it all,
a hiving off, a corner of silence
amidst the noise, refuse to talk,
even to yourself, and stay in this place
until the current of the story
is strong enough to float you out.

{from Coleman’s Bed by David Whyte}


The season of Advent has an exceptional quality of quiet, reflective waiting. It is a period of darkness, punctuated by the seasonal reality of the shortest days of the year, within which exists both the invitation and the expectation of the gift of light. It is no accident that the shortest day of the year comes right at the end of this time.

This brief four-week season, as it is understood in the context of Christianity, can also be thought of as a time of filling up. Gradually we gather our thoughts and reflections, we attempt to live the questions of our own becoming with intention and we work to stay grounded in the simplicity of a period of time, the sole purpose of which is to mark the birth of an immigrant child into the humblest possible circumstances.

It is that birth that we understand as the light that finally punctuates the darkness, a new life representing the blessing of all living things and, for believers, the incarnate promise of everlasting life.

But that’s getting ahead of things. That light is still a long way off and that filling up has only just begun.

For now, it is the dark and the quiet that command my attention and support my intention. To find the “silence amidst the noise” is a gift to myself as I attempt to reconcile my unanswered questions against the certainty the world demands. To rush what cannot be rushed is to seek protection from the anxiety of feeling stuck.

To stay here, in these questions during this time, is to trust that there is water rising (even if I cannot see it) and the current is forming (even if I cannot feel it) and that if I can just hold on long enough it will float me out of the darkness of the unknown and into the light of understanding.


leaf floating on body of water

Photo by Cole Keister on Pexels.com

A Different Kind of Darkness

These early days of December are beautifully dark and brief. I am up before dawn most mornings and enjoy the privilege of watching the sunrise from the warm comfort of the living room. It is in this quiet place, as a witness to the new day, that I find myself most at ease with the unknowns of my experience.

The deep anxiety that haunts me when I find myself awake at 2:00 a.m. is simply not present over a cup of coffee at the beginning of the day.

I wake into possibility, the pre-dawn darkness offering reassurance that does not exist in the stretch of night that comes before.

It says, “Just now, even if for a short time, let this darkness surround you with both peace and purpose; the peace of knowing that you are enough and the purpose to step out, once again, into the sacred unknown.”


lighted candle

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

The Emotionally Intelligent Person

Today I add another entry to the long list of “things I wish I had written” with this excerpt on emotional intelligence by author and philosopher, Alain de Botton. I have not read the book from which this passage comes but I have read most of his other works and I will be adding this to the library soon. If it is as good as I suspect it will be, I may have no choice but to buy a bunch of copies for colleagues, family and friends.
There is a lot of competition these days for the title of “most important thing we should focus on.” These are the big, scary things like climate change, political reform, education, healthcare…the list is all too familiar. I am confident in making the argument – more confident now, bolstered by Mr. Botton’s words – that none of these, none of them, will ever be effectively addressed if we do not have a seismic shift in our shared ability to practice emotional intelligence.

Please read on and be sure to visit the links below.


“Much anxiety surrounds the question of how good the next generation will be at math; very little around their abilities at marriage or kindness….

The emotionally intelligent person knows that love is a skill, not a feeling, and will require trust, vulnerability, generosity, humor, sexual understanding, and selective resignation.

The emotionally intelligent person awards themselves the time to determine what gives their working life meaning and has the confidence and tenacity to try to find an accommodation between their inner priorities and the demands of the world.

The emotionally intelligent person knows how to hope and be grateful, while remaining steadfast before the essentially tragic structure of existence.

The emotionally intelligent person knows that they will only ever be mentally healthy in a few areas and at certain moments, but is committed to fathoming their inadequacies and warning others of them in good time, with apology and charm… There are few catastrophes, in our own lives or in those of nations, that do not ultimately have their origins in emotional ignorance.”

– Alain de Botton, from The School of Life: An Emotional Education, as featured in Maria Popova’s wonderful weekly offering, Brainpickings.


kid child parent small

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com