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Home2019-08-06T13:52:30-04:00

At Your Service

Fog and mist fill the bright, colorless morning sky and soften the edges of treetops in the distance. Softness in the air even covers the trunks of gnarled and twisted scrub oaks. The weeds and grass are glistening with water droplets, and the long deck that runs the length of the house is wet where the roof offers no cover. The red Adirondack chairs placed in a circle around the fire pit are reflecting the light from above and are glowing. As I let the dogs out this morning, they sniff in circles, tracking bustling creatures from last night.It’s Cozy TimeSometimes a cozy morning like this calls for a couch, a blanket, the sounds of silence, and a good book. I begin my morning routine before I dip my fingers into the cesspool of social media. A daily chapter of the old family Bible has proven to offer perspective and to impact every daily decision. Almost every day it feels like it was written just for me, addressing today’s specific issues or concerns. It eliminates my fears and anxiety and gives me wisdom.Long DaysThe past five days were 12-hour work days away from my office, prepping and hosting our annual online

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Nuclear Reactions

Little leaves on tiny stems sparkle like jewels as the brilliant morning light makes streaks in the sky, kissing the trees and illuminating their rough bark with a reddish orange glow. Lavenders, purples, and light blues fill the long shadows as they stretch like rubber bands pulled as far as they can go, all pointing out from the sun, inspiring what could be a painting from where I sit on the long wooden Texas porch. Feeders for the birds sway in unison, to and fro, as a light breeze tickles the leaves, and squirrels jump from branch to branch trying to get to the feeders like thieves scrambling to get into a bank vault of treasure.  Here I’ve sat through hundreds of sunrises like a moviegoer, each screen with its own plot and colorful action. My hand rapidly scribbles thoughts or images into my sketchbook, which is my closest companion, always close by when I need a friend. A Lifetime of Journals  Opening the cabinet, I see them standing side by side like little soldiers, numbered and stored for years. I can return to any of the last dozen years, pick a date, and page through these journals for my

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Your Biggest Breakthrough Ever

There is no better feeling than walking outside in my fuzzy flannel PJs, feeling the texture of the wooden porch on my bare feet and not having the hair stand up on my arms from cold weather.  I squint my eyes in the brilliant orange light coming up from the purple mountain range in the distance, with pastel-like purples and greens in the sky. It’s a perfect morning. An Unexpected Problem When I was a kid, my dad bought his first really nice car. It was a celery-colored Lincoln Continental. My friends used to call it the Queen Mary because it was like a boat. My grandparents were upset when my dad bought it because, as they said, “We’re not showy people.” In our little town, it was the most expensive car you could buy — we certainly did not know about Mercedes or Rolls or Bentley.  A Moment of Shame I was in about seventh grade, and one day my mom dropped me off at Harrison Hill Elementary. She was driving the Lincoln, and when I got out of the car all the kids started mocking me. “Spoiled rich kid,” they would call me. I wanted to crawl into

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The Purpose of Christmas

Lying in bed, fast asleep, I’m startled awake by a thump on the roof. And then I hear some distant bells. Quickly I leap out of bed and run down the hall to our family room. It’s pitch black. No one is awake. There on the family table, the cookie tray has only crumbs and the milk has been consumed. Santa was clearly here! And then a glance at the tree, a sea of wrapped presents — including a gold Schwinn bike with my name on it. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I want to wake everyone up, but a glance at the clock says it’s only 5 am. “My parents will kill me if I wake them up,” I’m thinking. So I go back to my bed, anxious, ready to wait it out. And I fall fast asleep again, only to be awakened by my brother, who woke up and experienced the same thing at about 7 am. So we make a lot of noise until our parents happen to wake up. And Christmas arrives. The wonder of Christmases past will live on in my great memories forever. One of my favorite things has been the

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My Favorite Christmas Decorations

The smell of Christmas cookies is still in the air, combined with the scent of pine from our new Christmas tree. As I make my way out to the porch on this balmy Texas morning, sticky pine needles stick to my bare feet. Here I sit, staring out over a fresh morning, cuppa in hand, awaiting the last moments of peace as the hectic Christmas week is about to begin. Big Muscles Though I love to work, I’m looking forward to some time off. Like a muscle that is flexed constantly, your brain needs a break once in a while, a distraction, to open up to new possibilities. Christmas is the ending and the beginning.  Year-Round Christmas When I was a kid, my father would insist we get our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. He loved the feel of Christmas, and in the last two years of his life, he left his Christmas tree up the whole time because he loved it so much and it brought so many memories.\ The Old Church My Grandmother Luella was fun to visit at Christmas because she had bubble lights on her tree, which were probably from the 1940s. They were

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My Favorite Thing

Like the song, I have a peaceful, easy feeling today. Everything around me is quiet, like a Sunday morning should be. No road noise, just the flutter of bird wings, an occasional tweet, and the sound of some leaves lightly brushing against the house. We all need peaceful moments for those times when we’re looking for a life preserver during stormy times, difficult family challenges, or facing a crazy world. My least favorite thing in life is going to the mall for obligatory Christmas shopping. I try to only go once a year, and the last two years I’ve avoided it. Why run around like crazy trying to buy something for someone they probably don’t want anyway? Perhaps that’s a bit skeptical, but, though I love the holiday season, the pressure to perform can be a bit overwhelming. Yet with some downtime or peace, I can face anything, even shopping. Maturity Works The gift of maturity is another form of peace. The old, younger me used to get worked up, tense, bothered, and worried. The new me, the last decade or so, takes most of it in stride, and avoids getting worked up till there is truly a reason to

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The Best Advice I Ever Received

In the middle of a deep sleep and a wonderful dream, suddenly the quiet is harshly interrupted by the sound of the whining that wakes me up. As I let the dogs out for the morning, the brisk cold air hits my skin and rapidly awakens my otherwise sleepy state of mind as a perfect, richly colored orange glow sits at the horizon and its light bathes the trees in color. I may have preferred to sleep in, but when the dogs get me up early, I always get to see the sun come up. It’s a beautiful sight I never tire of seeing. The other day a friend asked me, “What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?” I paused, thought deeply, and said, “I’ll have to get back to you on that. It’s a tall order.” And it is, because I’ve been blessed with so many people in my life to offer advice. My dad always offered amazing advice and ideas on business, as did a few of my mentors.  I’ve been thinking about this topic all week, because it’s not easy to determine what was the best advice ever. What about you? What is the best

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Number One

My tradition each Thanksgiving weekend, following Turkey Day, is to paint the fiery red tree across the street. Some years it’s freezing cold and I’m out there in my warmest clothes, and some years I’ve painted in shorts. This year, the tree is dead. No color. I’m not sure why. I’m not certain yet if I’ll paint it anyway. But after all, traditions are traditions, right? One of my traditions, triggered by the holidays, is to start thinking about next year. I remember telling my team in January, “We have lots to get done, and before you know it, it will be July.” This time it feels like my year went by even faster than normal, maybe because I’m traveling again. In any case, I missed getting everything done. But because there is time to reflect, especially as things tend to slow down, I try to ask myself these questions. Perhaps they will be questions you want to ask yourself. If I could accomplish only one thing in the next 12 months, what would that one thing be? Why is it important? Is there anything else that will get in the way of that one thing? Here’s the skinny: I

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The Dogs Got My Turkey

How the Dogs Destroyed Our Thanksgiving Way back, almost 30 years ago, the moment my wife and I got engaged, we immediately went to the animal shelter to adopt a dog.  We found nothing, and, discouraged, we resigned ourselves to a trip every week or so till we found the perfect companion.  But as we were walking back to the parking lot, a man was walking in with a box of puppies. There were eight total: four tan baby Golden Retrievers and four black puppies whose breed we could not tell. “Same litter, different fathers,” he suspected. I guess “mom” got around. We played with them all and picked the two with the biggest personality. It was a tossup. I fell in love with a Golden and she fell in love with a little black one. Which do we pick?  We each had our favorite, we each had fallen in love with one — so we picked them both. Of course we all think our dogs are the greatest dogs ever, but these really were.  After they turned about a year old, we were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t recall if we were going elsewhere and taking the turkey

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The Mad Genius at Your Thanksgiving Table

Beyond the old porch, brilliant orange light falls on the trunks of twisty oaks and their rogue branches. A deer wanders in the distance, immune to the frantic barks of our two dogs, who are inside looking out. I too am inside, to remain in the cozy heat of our first fire of the season. Embers glow red hot, pops and cracks entertain as flames generate warmth on a cold morning. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies remains after last night's baking adventure in preparation for the day we offer thanks. Embrace the Pain Holidays like the one coming this week serve such an important purpose, reminding us to truly be thankful for everything and everyone in our lives. Even being grateful for our problems and challenges, which prepare our hearts for the difficult reality that we lack control, and that we need to learn hard and important lessons we would rather avoid. Those Who Bring Out the Worst For many, a gathering that includes arguing with Uncle Harry and family battles over politics or football teams will feel strangely comfortable, as many gather for the first somewhat normal Thanksgiving since 2019. We’ll be remembering to be thankful

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How to Do the Impossible

The crack of thunder and a quick flash nearby made me jump out of my seat and spill a bit of my coffee. That was a little close for comfort, as I sit here on the porch during a massive thunderstorm. The giant, almost endless rumble of thunder, the flashes of light, the fast-moving clouds of all colors, and the buckets of heavy rain making a fabulous sound as they hit the tin roof — the sidewalks and grass are flooded, but I’m dry and safe here on the porch. Bowling Balls As a child I used to put the garage door up and sit in the garage looking out at thunderstorms. Cracking jokes like “God is bowling” when thunder hit … and as a younger adult, I  used to dream about one day having a house with big wide porches and a tin roof so I could sit outside during heavy rains. Today, I’m living the dream. What you think about is often what you get. Under the Covers As a kid, I fell in love with listening to radio DJs on my little transistor, with earphones and under the blankets so my parents would not hear me up

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How to Kill a Monster

How to Kill a Monster Creamsicle orange covers the horizon, with the mountain silhouetted against it. Billowing clouds are lit like glowing hot air balloons as the sun stretches its arms to show its brilliant color across the sky. The spooky sound of cackling crows in the twisted oak trees is unusual around here and can only be attributed to Halloween just around the corner. Halloween Past In childhood I found a lot of joy in dressing up, going door-to-door through the entire neighborhood (and the one next to ours). We would make an extra effort to go to the mansions several blocks away, thinking somehow they would be handing out Ferraris instead of the standard candy, but we were always disappointed. I remember thinking, “If I were rich, I’d give kids cool stuff the other houses don’t give out.”  Cases of Candy My best friend Stu and I would take pillowcases with the goal of filling them up each night – there were usually two nights for trick-or-treating. We were not allowed to take the candied apples, but we loved the lady who gave out dimes. We were tempted to change costumes and keep going back, but we never

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