Bland reminders of things everyone already knew.

The walls in my elementary school were adorned with faded posters boasting a range of cliches. Even at age 11, they seemed contrite–bland reminders of things everyone already knew–made more generic with the colorful images they always seemed to include.

Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 6.25.30 PMToday, a few things strike me as funny about this, not the least of which is that almost 20 years later, I still can recite them all from memory.

What’s more amusing is that while these beacons of positivity seemed mundane even in my youth, they’re still completely relevant. And if everyone abided by these kinds of principles we’d all be better off.

284338_333667760070127_782395157_nLately, I’ve been on a tear about the value of being nice in the workplace. To my own demise, I’ve been internalizing the impact of pettiness and poor attitudes that I typically shrug off without a second thought. It’s frustrating–but it’s just a phase–the summer blahs.

Nevertheless, it’s made me question how I evaluate working relationships. I’ve realized I’m far more accepting of a person who performs below my expectations if he or she demonstrates kindness and compassion.

Of course, the business world can’t always be a glorious, campfire sing-along. There are lots of occasions where a powerhouse attitude and harsh words seem to be all it takes to get things done.

It begs the question: are the career trajectories of people with nicer personalities encouraging or depressing?

Is there a tipping point at which EQ trumps IQ?

I’m hesitant to believe the world’s most influential leaders are the most kind-hearted among us, but the optimist in me believes that just being nice–playing fair and acting with respect–is the best (if not the fastest) path toward getting what you want. That and being wildly driven and intelligent…

There’s an enormous amount to be gained by embracing the golden rule and treating others the way we’d like to be treated. It’s rarely the easier route and it probably won’t increase profits, but at the end of the day, it also won’t keep you up at night.

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Honey Nut Hater-Os

So, this is silly.

I guess some people are making a fuss that a recent Cheerio’s ad portrays an interracial couple in its message touting the benefits of whole grain oats.

The one and only Cheerio has sparked some real, unfounded controversy.

Mmm hmm, this is real. In a country where our twice-elected president has parents of different races, we’re still upset that actors of different skin colors are telling us which breakfast cereal to eat?

If people really want to take a stand on something irrelevant, I say more power to them. Go forth and conquer your craziness. But only if you fully commit. No making exceptions when you choose a purely ridiculous stance.

I’m warning you, though; it’d mean missing out on a lot more than delicious whole grain O’s.

For example, you could no longer listen to the music of Sammy Davis Jr., (he married Swedish-born actress May Britt in 1960).

You also couldn’t encourage the progression of equal rights, (since the second wife of abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass was Helen Pitts, a white abolitionist and suffragist).

Cheerio critics likely wouldn’t dine in restaurants run by Chef Wolfgang Puck, (yep, he and his wife, fashion designer Gelila Assefa, are of different ethnic backgrounds).

And forget about watching Robert DeNiro’s movies; he and his current wife are (wait for it…) different races.

On a personal level, I’d forbid any Honey Nut Haters from petting my dogs. They’re mixed breeds, so clearly unsuitable for someone offended by such diversity.

photoYou get the point. It’s embarrassing that anyone would focus energy on something so insignificant. We’d be better off spending our time chastising those companies that don’t embrace realistic portrayals of American families, rather than singling out the few who’ve taken the bold and timely step in the right direction.

On Father’s Day:

Here’s to you, Dad: a man who was never afraid to play dolls, change diapers and give piggyback rides.

5953_10102563077593851_360854990_nHere’s to a dad who isn’t afraid to show emotion. You have a giant heart and you’ve always let me know that I’m loved. What a gift.

The image below is my absolute favorite photo of you, taken the first time you saw me on my wedding day. I will never, ever forget this moment; even looking at it now brings me to (happy) tears. It’s a perfectly captured second in time that speaks to our entire relationship.

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D0146If I can make you proud and be half of the person you are, I’ve succeeded.

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D0863I treasure all the adventures and experiences we’ve shared, and feel infinitely lucky to call you my dad.

DSC00088Thank you for everything you’ve always done, and continue to do, to keep me happy, healthy and inspired. I love you.

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Posted in dad

Being a grownup is hard.

Being a grownup is hard. I’ve used that phrase a dozen times this week and it’s only Wednesday. But…it is.

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Sometimes I want to call a massive, world-wide timeout so I can sit on the floor and plug my ears and ignore all the chaos for a few minutes.

In high school it was against the rules to chew gum or wear hats. Remember that? You needed permission to use the bathroom for heaven’s sake.

It felt absurd to have such invasive rules governing my actions. But now? Now I sometimes crave the simplicity of that stage in life. Success was a cinch, and easily defined. I did have to make tough choices, some that were pretty serious, but I came home to my twin bed every night, and for the most part, knew what to expect the next day.

It’s easy to gloss over the endless school days, bitter social structure and seemingly unsurvivable heartbreaks–don’t worry, I remember those well–but now there are new challenges to take their place. Mortgages, career changes and complicated finances.

I wonder, and have to believe, that in another 15 years I’ll be looking back on what I’m experiencing now with the same fond, rose-colored view. It’s pleasantly ironic how time allows us to forgive and mostly forget.

Nowadays,* life is speckled with tough decisions and difficult situations.

*term I can use now that I’m 30

Don’t get me wrong–life’s amazing. Truly amazing. While I try never to lose sight of that, sometimes it’s hard and uncomfortable. A lot of learning is involved that doesn’t involve textbooks and worksheets, and the consequences are more severe than detention –> which I never had, not once #goodygoody.

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I know everything’s going to be ok. Sometimes it just takes time to figure out what ‘ok’ is.

sore legs, full belly, happy heart.

It’s only been three days and I’m already in love. You might say I rushed into things–but trust me–I didn’t expect it to happen this way. Fate has a subtle way of making connections and when you know, you know.

And what I know is that I love being 30. LOVE it.

I can’t remember the last time a birthday was so special and a new age really felt different. So far, it feels like I have super powers.

For years, older friends and colleagues have told me that turning 30 would be great; that it marks an exciting decade of independence and confidence. Naturally, I assumed they all were lying to distract me from the fact that I was more than halfway to AARP status. No age has garnered this much hype since 21. But now that I’ve made it, I get it. Seriously, this is rad.
I spent a full week celebrating with the people I love and ended up with sore legs (–> dance party in the living room), an achingly full belly (–> delicious restaurants and Jim’s cooking) and such a happy heart (–> oodles of blessings and wonderful people in my life).

A glimpse:

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30 going on 30

30! What on earth. Not sure how three decades have passed since I made my entrance into the world, but I feel nothing but blessed for all I’ve been given and experienced. Even considering the tough times…and the really low times…I still don’t know how I could be any luckier.

photo(22)Birthdays are a good time to pause–to mentally tread water for a few minutes–to keep the years from whizzing by unnoticed.

wineBecause I love birthdays, and I love lists, I decided they should join forces to recognize 30 important pieces of wisdom I’ve accumulated in my ripe old age. These are mine, no need to comply. Just some observations on stuff that helped me get to today.
photo1. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. This pertains to everything from weight lifting to writing thank you notes.
2. Admit when you’re wrong. Even if it makes you feel like a turkey.
3. Always make time to let the people you love know how much they mean to you.
4. Give money to homeless people, kids at lemonade stands and school fundraisers. Be the good guy.
5. Tell people when they’ve inspired you with lollipop moments.
IMG_29296. Never underestimate the value of downtime. Life’s busy. Take some chill pills.
7. Take care of your health. Life would be far less enjoyable without a strong, healthy body.
8. Accept that as years go by, friends will enter and exit a range of chapters in life. You won’t always relate the same ways, but if there’s love and respect, the relationship can survive more than you’d expect.
9. Know when to be there for others. Don’t wait to be invited, just show up. Give hugs. You’ll figure out what to say.
10. Don’t let TV be the center of your world.
DSC0117911. Always lock your car doors.
12. Learn CPR.
13. If you aren’t in a position to donate money to charity, donate your time, your blood or your hair…
14. Don’t lie, cheat or steal unless your life depends on it, and/or you’re completely willing to be caught.
15. Pick your battles. Yes, always.
D042016. Try to shrug off the ‘shoulds.’ Self awareness is good, self-imposed guilt is not.
17. Adopt pets, don’t buy them.
18. Rock the vote.
19. Money doesn’t buy happiness, it buys stability and security. So, keep a savings account to fall back on and do not sneak funds from it.
20. It’s always easier to be nice. If you don’t believe me, imagine watching a video of yourself the next time you’re tempted to mouth off or be an ass. It’d be fantastically embarrassing.
IMG_174221. Living in a college dorm for nine months provides more life training in negotiation skills, patience, compromise and moderation than nine years of working in an office can. I think adults should all have to live in dorms for a few weeks each year as a refresher.
22. There will be times that suck and it seems impossible to move forward. But every day one teeny tiny iota of improvement will rear its head. And one day, it’ll be ok again. Let yourself feel bad when things are bad, but always have faith that they’ll be good again.
23. Don’t smoke cigarettes, that’s gross. But wear sunscreen, that’s cool.
24. Going camping every so often won’t hurt you.
25. Accept compliments wholeheartedly.
DSC_090926. Don’t trust females who don’t have close girlfriends. That only happens as a result of unpleasant tendencies.
27. If you have to question whether you should do something–whether it’s an outfit or a business deal–it’s probably not the right option. Trust your instincts and make decisions with the information you’re given, not what might occur.
28. Never question eating dessert, even if it means skipping dinner.
29. Balancing the art of being brave and kind is rarely easy but always important.
30. Enjoy the small things; it’s all relative.

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