Monday, November 28, 2016

On Showing Up

Only five more Mondays left in 2016. This used to be my favorite day of the week. New. Fresh. A blank canvas with Possibility and Productivity framing the span between traditional Sabbaths.

Mondays eventually came in second place to Tuesday as my favorite day. Tuesday reminds me of the lighting and sound booth at an event.

Her tenuous place toward the back of the room. The switches and knobs and gauges quietly waiting. The show? The event? The music? It isn't the same without her. Ordinary and functional, I dubbed Tuesday as my day to "start new projects."

Yet, more and more, my days are all running together. Like the technician who seamlessly transitions the lights and bass output, I'm finding renewed energy and passion as I learn to synchronize ideas and communication, vision and momentum.

This apprenticeship in the art -- and sheer romance and poetry -- of Entrepreneurship.

Of showing up and turning your life's art into a series of experiences.

There are people who are masters at this. People who live all in. Do meaningful work.

And invite us to stand on their shoulders to reach toward our dreams.

No one is "self-made." That's ludicrous. Who in your life is encouraging you toward your goals?

And, just as important, where are you showing up, helping others frame their life with Possibility and Passion? Inviting them into the space where, together, you turn ordinary and functional into world class experiences?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wake-Up Call

I used to keep a quirky collection: wake-up calls.

My two all-time favorites were Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana and Edelweiss Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. While I don't remember exactly how the one at Grouse Mountain went, I do know the one in Edelweiss.

I call the front desk just as I'm about to go to bed to request the receptionist to set the call. At the arranged time, a cheery, (but not annoying), female voice greets you with,

Gruss Gott and good morning! It's time to wake up! 
The world's greatest playground is waiting. 

It's so inviting and enthusiastic, I've been known to set it twice in one day. 

If only all of life's wake-up calls played out like this.


Yesterday, I spent two hours laughing so hard tears streamed down my face and left me breathless. Isaiah and I went through half, (half!), a box of school papers and notes from fourteen years ago. Oh, the notes and drawings were funny in and of themselves, but then with Isaiah's commentary. . . 

Then last night, we set the box in the middle of the living room, surrounded by all four of our children. Together, we sorted through the pile, reminiscing and laughing until we were all doubled over.

Another thing that happened yesterday is that Isaiah bought an airplane ticket back to the States.

So, sitting there in the middle of sweet notes, I love you, Eli. Do you want to play basketball tomorrow? Isaiah, and small hand prints left on card stock with finger paint, the words, Happy Mother's Day scrawled across the top, I thought about wake-up calls.

Having these last several months with our entire family together has felt like a bonus gift tagged onto an already great gift. It's been time in which I've cherished every nuance, every shared laugh, the difficult conversations, the inspirational moments. 

Knowing we're standing at the threshold of an empty nest, is a fantastic wake-up call, "Drink in all the moments! Your birds are about to take flight! Heart wide open!"


I've experienced wake-up calls at hotels where the phone robot was a monotone, "This is your wake-up call."

And other hotels where it was the receptionist at the front desk, who sounded like she was working through a list, "g'dmorning. This's the wake up call you requested." click.


Hotels have wake-up calls, So do people. I want the culture of our company, (aka: family), to contribute a sense of anticipation and wild enthusiasm to those we come in contact with.

Life is full of wake-up calls. We have a responsibility to create cultures of honor in the spaces we influence. One way to do that is to make sure our wake-up calls are laden with love, truth, and dignity.

Friday, November 4, 2016

On Being A Rookie and Taking Risks

The high-pitched dee-dee-dee in quick succession jolts me from deep sleep. It's 4:20.

This is the time of day when all I can hear is the cliche tick-tock and low whirr of the refrigerator. I open my journal and write across the page, Fri., Nov. 4, 16, 4:30A.

My heart is full. My mind keeps rhythm with the refrigerator's motor. My inspiration "bucket" is running over.

My friend, Rhyse, keeps track of the days until Christmas, beginning with December 26th. In fact, he'll greet you with the update, a wave of his hand and broad smile, "51 days!" It's charming, really.

I'm counting days, too, only more like the bright orange mile markers in a long race. 57 days to resolve intentions.

I glance up at the piece of paper tacked to the wall behind my computer, "My Life As A Verb ~ Contribute. . ." followed by nine more verbs. I need to add an eleventh: Resolve.

We're in a season in which I feel woefully unprepared. A rookie at best.

It's scratchy. Like wearing a tight wool sweater and sitting next to the fireplace in an already warm room. At times, it's hard to breath.

It's exhilarating, too. Because, after all, in a moment or two, the mug of hot chocolate will be empty and it'll be time to go back out in the biting cold. No, better to leave the sweater on than to get too comfortable here in the lodge.

I find myself reminiscing most days about the past decade and how much has changed and where we're going.

"Integrity is the courage to meet the demands of reality," writes Dr. Henry Cloud in his book with those same words as the title. Integrity. Courage. Reality.

So I'm up at 4:20, sometimes 3:30, learning, practicing, writing, wondering, brainstorming. Mustering courage to meet the demands of reality.

And I catch myself chuckling uncertainty and discomfort because this season feels reckless. Like a risk at every turn. At the moment, I'm buried beneath commitments and failing more than succeeding. And I'm learning to go faster, which leaves me less time to go back and stall out in an attempt to edit my life.

Can you imagine if the producers and directors in the world paused to edit -- but then got stuck there, never implementing new ideas and moving forward with production? Yeh, me neither.

My cousin, (she'll probably go on to take the stage and fronts of boardrooms to equip and empower high-level leaders one day. . . right after she equips and empowers the five young men growing up in her home first), is a motivational example of the power of taking risks. "Take action," she says, even as she and her husband pour their energy into endeavors -- and adventures -- with eternal significance. It's as though rookie status doesn't show up on their radar. They live forward, take risks, and inspire people along the way.

Interesting discovery: it's fun writing a book. An aside is the incredible accountability it provides. Here I am, not the expert -- but an amateur stepping into this big adventure, resolving scribbles on a daily list, "gettin' after it," as Isaiah, my 19-year old says.

What about you? What are you doing these days in which you are a rookie and yet you're finding the courage to take risks? Let me know in the comments or reply to this email.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hello, Love

[January 18, 2009...
...After a late-afternoon stroll along the West Pier... Fingal, Ireland... next to the Howth Train Station...]

We only duck inside the pub to wait out the driving rain. And wait for the next train, not due for another 36 minutes.

And you know those apps you can download and then listen to the pre-recorded cacophony of a coffee shop or cafeteria at lunch time? Is there one with a jazzy nightclub ambiance, too? Well, sort of like that. But not.

Sultry warmth embraces us as we step across the threshold. A few people nod and smile at us as they tip back a gulp of dark ale. Wood pops and crackles in a brick fireplace at the end of the room.

And it takes you back a bit... when all your senses are enveloped by lyrical dialogue and the aromas of wool and old wood and a hint of stew simmering on the stove. It gives pause because it's all really real, but it feels as though you've stumbled onto the set of a movie.

Every seat is taken and there's a gentleman leaning against the brick wall at the end of the bar. He crosses his foot over the other as he chuckles loudly with the man sitting on a stool nearby.

LeRoy and the children wait near the doorway. I'm supposed to peek around the corner to see if there are any empty seats, but I'm so utterly caught up in the romance of the moment that I nearly forget my errand. A waitress carrying two empty pint-sized glasses on a tray stops to ask how she can help. We're looking for hot drinks to warm up while we wait for our train, I tell her.

"Ah!" she nods. "Order at the bar, Love. The tables are for ordering food."

They do this, you know. In England and Ireland. They call complete strangers Love.

And why not? Why don't we all call each other Love? After all, it's the very character of Whose Image we're made in.

And why not let it be the expectation... of ourselves... of others?

To see through Love's eyes...

Hey, Brandon, tell us more? Let me get you a warm-up on your coffee while you share that journey... the one in which you sang lyrics, asking Love to give you His eyes to see the things you kept missing... *

yeh, I'm listening. Cuz all this... these moments in which I'm enraptured by the ambient candlelight and lilting accents and filled with love for humanity... cuz, really, it's not that hard to love when you're called Love... right?

Come to think of it, sitting here in my office, 1,334 kilometers from the charm of that seaside village, a pile of papers on my desk, and a cranky radiator that only heats halfway, it's still easy to love. Our lives are brimming with people who love audaciously, far out of their comfort zones. Some of them bear wounds that would easily justify any bitterness or resentment. And yet...

They operate out of deep conviction, a solidarity as they follow the One Who calls them Beloved.

I'm with you, Brandon. Pleading with Spirit not to let me grow indifferent to the broken-hearted.

So, I'll keep taking my cue from the strangers who call me Love.

And the friends around me who love deeply and profoundly -- the ones who have a way of causing you to feel like you're the most important person in the world when you walk in the room.

And from the One Who declares that I shall be called Hephzibah -- My delight is in Her.**

Hello, Love.

*Reference taken from Brandon Heath's song, Give Me Your Eyes.
"Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see"

**Isaiah 62:4

Counting blessings...
290. A whole blessed afternoon alone with my beloved...

291. ...while the children help teach a belay class at the climbing wall.

292. The breakfast of fried potatoes, eggs, bacon, and orange juice that LeRoy made for our family this morning.

293. The grace gift that Israel gave our family... how she stayed up past midnight cleaning a kitchen that was left a disaster from "eating and running."

294. Getting to hear LeRoy's insights, passion, and inspiration from the book he's reading, The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken.

295. Seeing a friend at Dance Blast who I haven't shared life with in way too long and exchanging a snippet of newsy chit chat with the foreshadowing of a longer visit later.

296. Israel's comment, "I just love those children in that family! The older brother is so kind to his baby sister! I really want to get to know their parents better."