A Measure of a Life

Wooden Ruler

Photo Credit: Darren Hester

I met E briefly at a networking event several weeks ago. I finally joined her (and also met her friend B) for coffee this morning.

After I got a mocha and sat down a long, rambling conversation ensued. We started on mundane business stuff, but rapidly progressed to entrepreneurship, education, history, art, teaching, parenting, and personal growth. It was a fun conversation, and two hours melted away faster than an ice cube on a July sidewalk.

Near the end, I apologized because I felt like I had monopolized the conversation. Both E and B said, “No! It was fun listening. You do so much stuff! You only learn these things from talking to people.”

It was flattering, to be sure. But I’m just a guy trying to find his way through life. I haven’t done anything I consider noteworthy. I have not backpacked around Europe, roller-bladed across the United States, become a millionaire by age 40, or skydived naked from an aeroplane. You won’t find a Nobel prize for curing cancer on my résumé.

What have I done?

  • held a job
  • fathered a beautiful daughter
  • made some friends
  • kept an open mind
  • tried to get to know myself

Noteworthy? Not necessarily.

Why, then, did I tell my friends that “I live a rich life.” I have met fascinating people who do noteworthy things, tell good stories, and like to laugh. I appreciate other people and I choose to keep growing.

To me, that is a measure of a good life. What makes your life meaningful?

Life Lessons From the Last Day of Third Grade

chalk board eraserDo you remember what you learned on the last day of third grade?


Me either. But I did learn a few things today…

  • Two nine-year-old girls are fun together.
  • Girls change clothes before (and after) dance class much more quickly when they have the right incentive.
  • It’s better with friends.
  • Fathers should wear tennis shoes to the park.
  • I still like love to play tag.
  • Life isn’t fair, especially when you didn’t hear that someone else is now “it” and you were just tagged.
  • Overtired 9-year-olds can still have meltdowns.
  • It’s easier for (some) adults to ponder this important question: Would you rather be right or be happy?

I’m grateful that I could spend the afternoon with my daughter and her friend. I hope I find this again in a few (or many) years and it jogs my memory.

Photo credit: alkruse24

Changing Brains: A Recipe

bowl and spoonIngredients

  • One medium conference room
  • Four tables
  • Chairs as needed
  • Eleven smart, creative, experienced people
  • One packaged topic


  • Arrange chairs around the tables
  • Place people in the room
  • Close door
  • Stir with laughter
  • Uncork the topic
  • Shake gently
  • Simmer 90 minutes
  • Open door
  • Allow people to trickle out


  • Unlimited possibilities


  • May cause allergic reaction for those with closed minds
  • May cause insomnia

Photo credit: H is for Home

Little Things

PebblesI was talking on the phone with my mom last night. Near the end of the conversation, she told a story I had not heard before.

“Write that down! It’s a good idea for a blog post,” I said.

“Really? A story about a yellow crayon?” Mom sounded almost dismissive.

“Yeah. It’s a good story! I think people will relate to it.”

“Hmm. I’ll have to find a way to make it about happiness.”

I don’t know if mom will blog about the yellow crayon, but I liked the story. After our conversation, I wondered if she would even have noticed those thoughts, let alone considered writing about them. I must have (and forget) a dozen random thoughts each day that teach a lesson, tell a story, or make a point. Some are silly, some are smart, and sometimes I trip over something profound.

How many times do you pass over little things in your day? How often do you dismiss a memory from your past, just because it was “no big deal?” Some of them may be worth another look.

You don’t know what might be of value to another. What may be “just a pebble” to you could trigger an avalanche of insights or opportunities for someone else. By not sharing, you deprive them of the chance to benefit.

Photo credit: jaxxon


ChoicesI was so angry I was almost shaking.

“May I help you?” the teller asked. I shook my head.

The bank was nearly empty. I sat waiting for the lady who handles stuff the teller usually can’t. It was taking forever to open some guy’s new account, but that didn’t bother me. I was mad because I was facing a rash of overdrafts. The bank had put a long hold on a big deposit. My debit card quit working that morning, and I had mailed several checks the night before.

Why didn’t they tell me about the hold? I thought. They have e-mail address!

It had been a long time since I was this mad, and I didn’t like the feeling. Now I was angry about having my emotions hijacked. As I sat seething silently, words of wisdom past slid into my brain: I get to choose how I feel… Look for a better feeling thought.

I closed my eyes and breathed slowly, deliberately. I cast about for better thoughts. It wasn’t personal. They would have done it to anyone. I knew about the hold they put on big checks, but I forgot. It’s really my fault (oddly enough, that helped me). It’s only money. I’m a smart guy, and I’ll get this sorted out.

The second time the teller asked if she could help, I decided it was worth a try. I walked over explained my situation. She went to ask someone, then came back with the news. “We can’t do anything at the branch, but I can give you the customer service number.”

I took the number and left. I still had a problem to deal with, but at least I felt more like myself.

Two weeks later I’m still cleaning up the mess, but I never let my anger control me.

It’s true. You do get to choose your feelings.

Photo credit: Darren131

A few more minutes

Wedding CakeIt had been a busy week, and I was tired Saturday night. I just wanted to go to bed.

Instead, I found the energy to pack a bag and drive 90 minutes to see a good friend and her fiancée. We stayed up to nearly 2 AM, talking and catching up. No big deal under normal circumstances, but the wedding was to happen at two o’clock the next afternoon. In the woods. Behind their house.

Everyone was tired Sunday morning, but a myriad of minutia clamored for attention.  Some other friends and I scrambled around trying to contain the chaos. The caterer was late with the food. The decorative arch had not been set up. We needed extra extension cords for the sound system. The photographer was an hour late. The cake didn’t arrive until 1:30. The dress arrived at 1:40.

It was crazy, but fun.

The ceremony started almost an hour late, but the wedding was beautiful, and the reception was pleasant.

Late in the afternoon, after a full stomach and two glasses of the groom’s home made mead, I was wearing out.

I could excuse myself, make the long drive home, and get to bed for an early meeting the next morning. Surely they would understand…

Maybe I’ll stay just a few more minutes, I thought.

Moments later, guests started getting up to leave, and the magic began.

There were things to do, and I found a purpose!

Elderly parents needed help getting to cars. Leftovers had to be put away. My tie came off and I rolled up my sleeves. Still in dress slacks and shoes, we  folded up tables and chairs, dismantled the big tent, and returned the sound system to the house. Working alongside other guests, strangers became friends.

The big cleanup was done, and we sat down to talk and relax. It was nearly 8, and I still had a long drive. Maybe I should go…

I’ll stay just a few more minutes, I thought.

I listened and laughed. I made a new friend. Another gave me a hint to make my business easier. The party moved inside to escape the mosquitos. It was a logical time to leave….

I’ll stay just a few more minutes, I thought.

I stayed, and we joked and laughed harder and longer than I had in weeks. I got to dance with a darling 3-year-old girl. We shared the pictures that we had taken throughout the day, and laughed even more.

It was nearly 10:30 when I put the key in the ignition. I arrived home at midnight with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

What an impact those few minutes made.

Breaking Ground

2542699263_abaf838231_bI have been meaning to start this blog for a few months now. I would think about it, then set it aside. I had ideas for posts (and even documented some of them) but I never did anything. I had a title, but needed a domain name. I got an idea for how I want it to look, but making this look the way I envision it will take a while.

At a recent blogger meetup some friends gave me enough grief encouraged me to actually do this. Teacher Mommy looked at Melissa of Rock and Drool and said, “How long did it take to set your blog up? Like half an hour?”

That was especially embarrasing because I recently started a company to provide web design and computer support for individuals and small businesses.

I thought about it on the drive home from the meetup, and the ladies were right.

No more excuses. I’m letting go of my desire for perfection long enough to start this.  I have broken ground, now I just have to keep moving sand.

Photo credit: Tom Rydquist