Archive for August, 2021

Animal Lover


There’s a question: What were you doing when you were your happiest as a child? I used the question to take me to an answer I had long forgotten about, which is playing with animals. Digging deeper, it wasn’t just being with animals that I loved, it was imagining with them. Inviting them, as co-conspirators, into the games I played and endowing them with special and sometimes magical qualities. Their enthusiasm and willingness to play matched my own.

As I got older, I associated myself with poetry and business. Yet this was neither my origin point, nor where I was happiest.

As you may know, I grew up with more animals than you might imagine a city kid would: ferrets, rabbits, snakes, cats, dogs, a small pig, hamsters and more. Now, we have no pets. I seldom see animals except once a day when we pat the neighbors dog. Realizing how important they were in my early life, and their absence now, is like noticing silence–the absence of laughter, the sound of trains, and the comforting cadence of the rain.

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There’s a place in Portugal, a small village by the sea, where everyone who comes feels at home.

Travelers come for grandmothers. The famous, kind grandmothers who teacher these travelers how to cook their sacred recipes, while learning the anecdotes which give the food as much flavor as the spices.

Grandmothers come for the travelers, who ask questions that make them feel youthful and honor them with the exquisite attention they pay to their every word and gesture.

Children come for the grandmothers, their daycare is connected to the senior center. They come to play and laugh with the grandmothers who also love to play and laugh.

Every time I hear the words ‘community’ or ‘ecosystem’ I think back this small village in Portugal, where all have a purpose and nothing is wasted.

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I’ve read a book recently about questions. I am also working on a talk to help others ask better ones.

i’ve discovered that asking questions has a transformative power. this is especially true with self-doubt. watch how a question transforms it:

  • ‘I’m not good enough,” into “Am I good enough?”
  • “I’m not doing anything of value,” into “am i doing anything of value?”
  • “I can never stick with things,” into “why do I chose to not complete things?”

Designing the right questions is freeing, exciting, and useful. More so than being given the answer. The process of working through the questions builds a capability and inspires a sense of wonder.

A friend introduced me to 3MIQ, which poses these questions:

  • What do I want to experience?
  • How do I want to grow?
  • What do I want to contribute?

Let’s start with the first. Notice the question is experience and not accomplish. Too often we’re asked these goal-seeking questions which produces a list of what to strive for–striving isn’t experiencing though, or at least not the kind of experience I want to have….I wonder if we know what we want to experience, or even what we need to experience? I’d like to experience a range of qualities and emotions:

  • I think in images. I want you to experience the images that I see. They are more than a visual experience. I feel them. Whether a perfectly tended rock garden, a fire escape covered in city fog, an old man’s mustache and matching hat–or memories, made vivid through imagination, blurring with the present and the imagined future. I’d like to experience a way of giving you what I see and feel so you see and feel it, too.
  • The type of letter you’d want read. then reread. then save. then open. then reread again. one that changes how you think of me, and how i think of you–a hand written letter. ink.
  • Flow. For me, at this time in my life, it’s mentorship. I experience flow in helping people see what they want and ask the right questions to pursue it–when I’m in a conversation like this, I know where to go–and I understand the logic of the conversation without having to try. I’d like to feel this same sense of flow in everything I do.
  • A collection of beautiful things, matchbooks, sentimental rocks and figures, leaves collected from fall, coined or collectables each with a story
  • The happiness of those I love. What in the world is better than this to experience?

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The moment before the handshake, the hug, the high five, the nod, the moment before…

We seem to figure out how to greet one another before we do.

How do decide the type of touch, and whether to touch?

How do we know when to hug, when to kiss on the check, or when we should extend our hand?

How much of this decision is based upon barely visible clues we receive in the moments before?

Is it instinct and institution which guides us?

Yet, how often are we wrong?

How often are we sending signals we did not intend to send, which are being processed and acted upon in ways very different from what we intended?

Look closely next time, in the moments before…

see how your noticing influencers whether you are



or namasted.

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Filling space

The space is never empty. It is waiting to be filled. The state of waiting is not the same as being empty.

Consider this. Provide a friend with space to write 100 words.

Ask them to fill it.

Give them no guidance.

Just a time limit.

Let’s say 2 minutes.

Then ask them to share what they wrote.

I tried this exercise once with a wise businessman.

I asked him to talk for 2 minutes. And he gladly did.

And then I asked him to talk for 20 more.

No topic. Just go.

For 5 minutes he proceeded.

Then he stopped unsure of his footing.

He found his way. He lost his way.

And I listened intently without judgment.

The process gave me a window into his mind and into his heart.

The act of listening with an act of grace and truly invited me to be present with him.

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Stunning Artist

There’s a certain type of art which I love before I can process why. Typically, it’s colorful and offers a distorted and even more truthful reality than what we are presented with every day. In this case, that artist is Shehzil Malik. I encourage you to explore her work and the world’s she presents through it. She’s “an award-winning designer and illustrator with a focus on human rights, feminism and South Asian identity.” And someone I’d like to meet over tea.

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What I most want to share with others and what I most want to know from others is expressed through art. Yet there’s a tremendous disconnect that I am feeling. If this is so valuable why do I spend so little of my time creating it?

I’d like to change that.

I’m unclear what medium to express the messages I feel in, but I do know that when I pay attention to the fact that I am not currently creating, I feel a great urgency to start.

And then bad habits and other priorities come first. I wonder: what will happen if I focus on the desire to create without the self-guilt of “have I” or “have I not” created.

What if I simply turned my attention to the desire to share the electric, stunning, nostalgic, strange and alive ideas and experiences which illuminate my day, without regard for whether they are good, or bad, or impactful.

A better way is to bring them into the world truthfully and fully so when I see them I can claim them as my own.

This feels true to me.

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