I Think “Broken” Roads Have Gotten A Bad Rap!


Anyone who’s taken a vacation lately, whether by air, sea or ground, knows that no matter how carefully they plan, there are any number of untoward things that can (and, more often than not, do) happen before they reach their intended destination. Maybe it’s nothing more than encountering an accident en route to the place of departure, being unable to find a convenient place to park the car at the airport or seaport, an inordinately long line at the ticket counter or TSA security checkpoint that threaten to make us late for or even miss our flight or being relegated to the dreaded “middle seat” in a cross-country or trans-Atlantic flight. Sometimes, however, the obstacle is far more disruptive: finding out that our flight is “overbooked” and that we’re the odd man out or, worse yet, that it is hopelessly delayed or has been cancelled due to a mechanical or other problem and that the next flight won’t be leaving until the following day. And then there are the difficulties on the “arriving” end: the lost or damage luggage, the interminable wait for the curbside rental car shuttle in the searing heat, being hassled by a Customs agent or maybe even discovering that in your hurry to leave you left a piece of luggage in the middle of your living room floor (don’t judge me!!!).

And yet, except for the most impatient and intolerant of us (I would be included in that group!), we hardly give those “bumps in the road” much thought, let alone allow the prospect of encountering them keep us from leaving the house! To the contrary, though some aggravation is inevitable (it’s part of being human), we tend to take such things in stride. Why? I suspect it’s because we have a clear “picture” of what our final destination will look and feel like – and, in the end, that’s all that really matters to us. Maybe it’s a lounge chair, the shade of a well-positioned umbrella, a good book (or 3), a white sandy beach and the hypnotizing sound of the waves lapping the shoreline. Maybe it’s the warm smile and never-want-to-let-you-go embrace of a friend, a lover or a family member that you haven’t seen in weeks, months or years. Maybe it’s the top of a mountain, pristinely groomed trails cut through spectacular forest and the peace that comes with them. Maybe it’s the chance to check another item off your “bucket list” or the solitude of a cabin in the wilderness far away from the electronic tethers that tie you to a life you’d just as soon leave behind. Whatever “it” is, my sense is that knowing that “it’s” waiting for us that makes the whatever-it-takes-to-get-there piece endurable.

What’s curious to me, however, is that we are far less tolerant when it comes to our life journeys. Despite the fact that they are infinitely more complex and immeasurably longer in duration than any “vacation” will ever be, consciously or subconsciously we expect them to be mostly “bump” free – that the pathways leading to where we think we should end up will be straight, smooth, and relatively easy to navigate. When they’re not, we are quick to assume the worst, paint a doomsday scenario, grow bitter, lose our sense of direction, become paralyzed with fear and, on occasion, give up. Why? I’m sure there’s a complex psychological explanation, but for me it’s relatively “simple”: In life, unlike a vacation, we don’t have a clear picture of how our final destination will look. Maybe if we did, we’d be more accepting of what we deem to be the “broken” pieces, see them for what they are, understand that their role in our lives is to strengthen, rather than defeat us, guide, rather than divert us. Here’s a truth: Some of the most incredible people I know are products of a “broken” road and as much as I ache for the pain they had to endure en route to their “knowing” hearts, I know to a woman (and a man) none would trade those hearts or the heartache that shaped them for a less “adventurous” path.

A few months ago, my wife and I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas to celebrate our son’s graduation from Kansas State University. As is often the case when my son and I get together, which, regrettably is not as often as either of us would like these days, a golf outing is a must and that trip was no exception. Midway through what was a drizzly and unseasonably cold round at Colbert Hills, Greg turned to me and said, “Dad, I know I didn’t take the straightest or simplest road to get here and I certainly made more than my share of ‘wrong’ turns along the way, many of which I regret and am sorry for, but I have to tell you, I wouldn’t trade where I am right now for anything in the world. I’m right where I want to be – and I’m happy!” I smiled (inside and out) glad that the rain offered the cover it did for the tears streaming down the sides of my face. I’d like to think exceptional parenting was the birthplace of those words, but I know better. I know it was “the road” – the “less traveled one” that Frost so insightfully described so many years ago. Still, I was no less proud, indeed more so, of him and the fact that he not only “got it” – he did it in ½ the time it’s taken his dad.

Wishing all of you safe (and adventuresome) travels!


I’m Pretty Sure 56 Years Is Long Enough To Wait


A few Sundays ago, I received a call from my 28 year-old son, Greg who lives in Kansas. Greg was calling to tell me that he’d just finished in the top 5 at a local amateur golf tournament against a field of 75 competitors, which certainly was exciting in itself. But, it was the words Greg uttered next that brought a smile to my heart and tears to my eyes. “Dad,” he said, “I WAS REALLY PROUD OF MYSELF for the way I hung in there on the back nine today, especially after not getting off to the start I had hoped for.” Why the heart smile and the tears? Because it was the first time in 28 years I’d ever heard my son say that he was “proud of himself” for anything, despite having had much to be proud of. My daughter, Ashley, thankfully is 26. I say “thankfully” because I’m still waiting for those 6 words to cross her lips for the first time, even though, by the time she was 18, she already had accomplished more than most people twice her age and nearly lost her life in the process. And then, of course, there’s their 56 year-old dad – the carrier of this unfortunate gene. The guy whose Life Resume – already chock-full of personal and professional accomplishments – continues to grow, while his heart sits in wait for those 6 simple words.

I’m not sure what it is about the human condition that makes us so quick to seize upon (and beat ourselves up about) our mistakes, the times we fall short of our intended goals, our missteps and shortcomings and so reluctant to appreciate the times we get it right, the product of our hard work, all the good that we do. I am, however, very sure about this: It’s vitally important that, from time to time, we pause long enough to do that, to give ourselves credit when credit is due – and terribly unhealthy not to. In fact, it’s a pathway that leads to certain unhappiness. Because the reality is: You’re imperfect. We all are. And because we’re imperfect, despite our best efforts and intentions, we’re going to make mistakes – lots of them – both personally and professionally, before we’re done with this Life thing. We’re going to hurt others and others are going to hurt us. We’re going to strive and fall short, do our best and, on occasion, find that it’s not enough to satisfy someone else. But, trust me on this one: You’ve gotten it “right” far more often than you’ve gotten it “wrong” and the “good” you’ve done has far outweighed the “bad”.

Maybe you’ve won a local, regional or state championship or a beautifully-colored and appointed ribbon in your sport of choice.

Maybe you’re the class valedictorian or have fought hard just to earn a passing grade in a subject you were certain you were going to fail.

Maybe you’ve “just” said “no” to drugs or alcohol (or both) – again.

Maybe you’ve brought an audience to tears by sharing your heart in song or brightened their sagging spirits with an inspiring theatrical performance.

Maybe, even when you really didn’t have the time, you stopped what you were doing on a moment’s notice to comfort a friend in need.

Maybe you found the strength to get out of bed when the weight of depression was insisting you stay there.

Maybe you offered a word of encouragement, empathy or compassion to a thirsty heart.

Maybe you were able to silence the eating disorder voice raging in your head just long enough to have a simple snack.

Maybe you “simply” committed to making the next 5 minutes of your life better than the last 5 and in doing so took a baby step forward on the path to a healthier tomorrow.

Maybe you dried a tear, were the catalyst of a smile – made someone feel they mattered.

Maybe you allowed yourself to be vulnerable, spoke your truth – and, in doing so, inspired someone (perhaps a complete stranger) to look beyond their shame and speak their own.

Maybe you’ve fallen off a real (or metaphorical) horse a time or two, confronted your fears and courageously gotten back on.

The point is: All of us have treasure chests filled with “victories” (large and small), acts of goodness and kindness, moments of strength and courage – some known to many, others known only to ourselves. I think it’s high time all of us starting acknowledging that. It’s time we give ourselves (and our hearts) some credit. So, in honor of Greg’s breakthrough, I want each of you to promise me that tonight, before your head hits the pillow, you will take a moment to reflect on just one of those items in your treasure chest, utter a few words of self-praise (“I’m really proud of myself for . . .”) (whisper them if you must!) and then give yourself a hearty pat on the back for a job well done. You’ve earned it. You deserve it.

I promise your heart will smile the same way mine did!

*Special thanks to Allison Crow for granting me permission to use her inspiring artwork for this post.  Please take a minute to check out Allison’s website and the work she’s doing: http://www.allisoncrow.com

Morning Exercise Routine (Day 5)


When I was a kid, I marveled at the way Superman could stiff arm a speeding locomotive to a stop – seemingly without breaking a sweat. But, I suspect even the Man of Steel would find today’s work-out challenging! Why? Because today we’re going to “exorcise” our mind in an effort to stop a self-destructive thought (or two) before they can become a mindset and re-direct those that already have to a more life-affirming path. Ready to get started? First, I need you root out (and I do mean root out, as in from their roots) the thorn bushes of Despair that populate your mind and replant seeds of Hope. Once that’s done, ferret out the Lies and Distortions from every nook and cranny and replace them with the Truth – YOUR TRUTH. Next, grab Indifference, Bitterness, Fear of Failure and Shame by the naps of their scrawny little necks and cast them out. In their stead, sew Passion, Gratitude, Expectancy of Success and Self-Empathy. Once those are firmly in place, show Perfectionism the door and offer a long, warm, welcoming embrace to Humanity! Just one more thing: Pick up Patience and dispense with the idea that any of this needs to (or will) happen in just one session. It won’t! Heck, I’m exhausted just writing about it, which is why I saved this one for last – so that you would have an entire weekend to recuperate before starting your “Morning Routines” all over again!

Morning Exercise Routine (Day 4)


Anyone who’s ever broken a bone that required casting knows the speed with which our muscles atrophy with non-use and, last night, it occurred to me that our heart – the most powerful and important muscle in our body – is equally susceptible to that same phenomena. Why then do so many of us insist on building walls around it, masking it, using substances and other unhealthy behaviors to try and numb it and, in the process, deprive it of the exercise it needs to remain strong? I’m not talking about a 5 mile run or walk, a grueling CrossFit session or another aerobics, step or Zumba class. I’m talking about real exercise, the kind that can only come from experiencing the full range of emotions it was so beautifully designed to handle: love, hope, joy, sadness, passion, acceptance, rejection, empathy, compassion, disappointment, frustration, fear, loss, gratitude, etc. Want to give your heart the workout it’s been thirsting for? Tear down the walls, peel away the masks, put down your numbing agent of choice and allow yourself to really feel for a change. Believe me, the more “repetitions” you do the stronger you (and your heart) will get. I promise!

Morning Exercise Routine (Day 3)


Begin with your hands at your side, then bend at the elbows until they are in front of you (palms up) at waist height and stare at them. Open and close them. Wiggle your fingers. Aren’t hands amazing! Think about all the remarkable things you’ve used them for through the years – to grasp, to climb, to write, to draw, to sculpt, to play a sport or musical instrument, to build, to cook, to splash, to wipe away tears, to turn the pages in a book, to sign to the deaf, to instruct, to give and receive high fives, to comfort, to caress, etc. – and all they’ve done for you. Now this is where the exercise gets difficult. Make a commitment to be especially aware of (and #grateful for) the many roles they will play in your life today and make it a point, before day’s end, to use them to touch another’s heart.

#handsrock #thepowerofone #reachoutandtouchsomeone #exerciseisfun