Archive for September, 2008

Return to Ortonville

September 30, 2008

On September 12, after nearly fifteen years, my daughter Erin and I returned to Ortonville, the small western Minnesota town where my dad grew up. I had scheduled a reading for my new book at the Ortonville Library but that was only a small part of our agenda.

As kids, my sister and I were so excited when Grammo and Grampo's house came into view

As kids, my sister and I were so excited when Grammo and Grampo’s house came into view

I had always loved going to Ortonville as a kid. My family made the three-hour trip from the Twin Cities at least a few times every year, including pretty much every Thanksgiving and Christmas. My dad’s parents—Grammo and Grampo to my sister Cyn and me—lived in a wonderful big stone house. That was appropriate since Ortonville is located in Big Stone County.

We'd often drive in the back way so the car would be facing the street in front of the house

We’d often drive in the back way so the car would be facing the street in front of the house

My sister and I have wonderful childhood memories of Ortonville, and I am grateful that Erin was able to experience many of the same people and special places in Ortonville when she was growing up. Erin hadn’t been back since Grammo (more…)

What Is Dying?

September 29, 2008

ship-on-oceanI have used this beautiful piece of prose on numerous public speaking occasions to honor those who have passed. I’d like to do my part to share it with others who will find it touching and meaningful. The origin of this piece is in doubt, but it’s often attributed to Henry Van Dyke.


I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: (more…)

Two Quizzes

September 28, 2008

boy-student-taking-a-quizThis isn’t like other quizzes. Don’t bother getting a pen and paper. Just read.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for Best Actor and Actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series Winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us (more…)

Work Through Your Relationship Grief

September 27, 2008

Last summer, my marriage ended. I didn’t want it to, but the gap between our lifestyles kept widening, and splitting up soon became the obvious course of action. I was heartbroken, but from the start I recognized that there was great value in my grieving process.

I’m sharing what I went through in the hope that the process that helped me recover relatively quickly may offer some comfort to others who are hurting. It took me four months to heal, which is far better than four years . . . or forever. You can recover from a broken heart. You can heal. You can be whole again.


A Virtuous Life Generates a Virtuous Circle

September 26, 2008


Pursuing a spiritual life creates a virtuous circle. Your attitudes and behaviors become self-perpetuating. What does that look like? Here are four manifestations:

Thinking positively. Every loving thought you contribute to the universe incrementally raises your consciousness; the higher your consciousness, the greater the impact of your contribution and the likelier it becomes that your next thought will also be a positive one.

Consistent prayer. Every prayer elevates your consciousness, which brings you closer to God, which brings you (more…)

Tears in the Laundry Room

September 25, 2008

I’m a regular at Ecopolitan, a raw food restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis. Well, that’s probably an understatement. I pretty much live there. It’s like Cheers—everybody there knows my name and I know theirs. I like bringing my laptop to Eco and working from there (free wifi!) instead of working in isolation at home.

One of the always cheerful servers there is Ali Glad. She’s always warm and welcoming and a pleasure to talk to. She asked to buy a copy of my book the other day and sent me the following e-mail soon after. It’s so rewarding to know that a project that was a labor of love for me is touching so many people in deep and meaningful ways. Thanks, Ali!

I opened your book on Tuesday afternoon in the laundry room. I knew I had a good (more…)

The Invitation

September 24, 2008

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I’ve written about the importance of being authentic, of sharing your feelings, of establishing emotionally intimate relationships. What does that look like? I love this powerful piece by author Oriah Mountain Dreamer, which serves as the foundation for her book,The Invitation. She wrote it one night after coming home from an unsatisfying evening of small talk at a party.




It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.



September 23, 2008


Kent M. Keith

At a Rotary Club meeting in 1997, a member stood up and declared that he would like to honor the recently deceased Mother Teresa by reading a poem she had written called Anyway.

Fellow Rotarian Kent Keith bowed his head in contemplation, and was astonished when he recognized the poem as a version of The Paradoxical Commandments, which he himself had authored back in 1968 at the age of nineteen in a book for student leaders. As Keith himself writes:

“I went up after the meeting and asked him where he got the poem. He said it was in a book about Mother Teresa, but he couldn’t remember the title. So the next night I went to a bookstore and started looking through the shelf of books about the life and works of Mother Teresa. I found it, on the last page before the appendices in Mother Teresa: A Simple Path. The Paradoxical Commandments had been reformatted to look like a poem, and they had been retitled “Anyway.” There was no author listed, but at the bottom of the page, it said: “From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, the children’s home in Calcutta.”


Tell Me How You Feel!

September 22, 2008

two-guys-talking-in-coffeeshopI recently asked a friend in a restaurant how he was coping with the end of his marriage. He shrugged and said he didn’t know what to say. Thinking I wasn’t being clear, I asked how he was feeling. To my astonishment, he said he doesn’t talk about his feelings. We blinked at each other across the table for a few awkward moments before I clumsily tried to change the subject to something more superficial.


Diversion, Good . . . Obsession, Bad.

September 21, 2008

roosevelt-dimes-albumI’ve always loved hobbies and collecting things. In my younger days, I spent many happy hours immersed in my baseball card, comic book, coin and stamp collections. I still harbor dreams of starting up some of those hobbies again someday.

However, such healthy pastimes can morph into unhealthy obsessions. So can a love of following sports. Or reading junk novels. Or trading stocks. Or watching escapist television shows. (I’m reminded of comedian Bill Arnold’s joke: “I saw a survey that says the average American watches 5½ hours of television a day. Can you believe that? I mean, c’mon . . . they’re missin’ a lot of good shows!”stamp-album

Turning to hobbies, guilty pleasures or other mindless activities to relieve stress for a few hours can be a wonderful thing. Using them to escape life altogether is something else entirely.

football-fan-painted-faceThere’s nothing wrong with watching a couple football games every week, following the rest of the league online, and playing fantasy football with a group of pals. But there’s nothing right about (more…)

A Prayer for Sending People Light and Love

September 20, 2008


When someone is in need of healing, whether I know them well or not at all, I visualize them while saying the following prayer.

I send you love and light, my friend, from my heart to yours—to love you, to protect you, to guide you, to heal you, to cherish you, to comfort you. God bless you, my friend. You are beautiful and you are loved.

Know that the loving (more…)

Brighten Someone’s Day!

September 19, 2008

It only takes a few seconds to send someone you care about an e-mail or text or handwritten note with a heartfelt, genuine sentiment that will make their day . . .  their week . . . their year! Here are sentiments in three categories—for your romantic partner, for your child, and for a good friend.


• Your love is a blessing in my life.

• Your love fills a void in my soul.

• Sometimes I get overwhelmed with love for you. Like right now.

• You’re the wind that guides my sails.

• You have no idea how much I love you.

• Your love is the answer to my prayers.

• I’m very curious. Do you ever NOT look gorgeous?


Well, THAT Was Interesting!

September 18, 2008

personal-healing-caroline-myssOn my way to a restaurant last night, I partially inserted a Caroline Myss tape (Personal Healing recorded at St. James Palace in London) into my car’s tape deck so it would be ready to play when I wanted to listen to it.

Later that night, a few minutes after I drove away from the restaurant, I was going to turn on the radio, but then I remembered I wanted to listen to Caroline’s tape. At that precise moment, I heard the tape slide in and it started to play.

Whoa. I didn’t even come close to pushing it in. That (more…)

Conversations With Dog

September 17, 2008

conversations-with-dogKnowing that I love dogs and reading about spirituality, my daughter gave me the perfect gift: a little book called Conversations with Dog. To my surprise, I found it very well done and an insightful look into the psyche of dogs.

What struck me the most was the notion that we cannot give a dog mixed messages by thinking one thing and saying another. Dogs are more telepathically developed than we are and get confused when our emotions and body language are at odds with our words.


Parents, Write Down Those Cub Quotes!

September 16, 2008

I am a chronicler. From the day my daughter Erin uttered her first word, I wrote down her every amusing comment. Since she was our little bear cub, I called her collection of witticisms Cub Quotes. By the time Erin reached adulthood, I had accumulated more than 100 typed pages of these tender, amusing and laugh-out-loud remembrances that spanned her entire kidhood.

Five years old
Erin was lying with her head on my chest looking at me. I was lying on her bedroom floor. I smelled something and asked her if she passed gas. Without changing her expression, she said, “It’s your breath.”

Paging through Cub Quotes now, I am astonished that I have no recollection of some of the incidents I captured so long ago. I know that, at the time, I thought I’d remember every clever comment forever. Not so much. Time blurs the sharp edges of memory to the point where, if I do remember the incident, my printed account of it often differs from my memory of it. And if I do remember it clearly, I may be hard-pressed to guess how old Erin was when she said it.

Eight years old
Erin wanted me to rub her back at bedtime. I told her it was too late. As I was leaving, she called after me, “Rub your cub!”

For the sake of (more…)

Dance Like There’s Nobody Watching

September 15, 2008
Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell

In an essay in USA Weekend, Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell recalled the time he entered his first violin competition:

I was 11 years old and nervous. I began with the worst blunder of my life, my fingers slipping off the violin entirely. My heart sank as a I realized that I could never win over the judges. So I gave up trying to be perfect, which, amazingly, resulted in a wonderful sense of freedom. I gave the best performance of my life, taking home a prize.

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes

Bell’s story called to mind the goose bump-generating performance of 16-year-old Sarah Hughes, who vaulted from fourth place to a gold medal in figure skating in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Thinking she was out of contention, a pressure-free Hughes skated with joyous abandon. Her flawless, free-spirited performance was one of the most technically demanding routines in the history of Olympic women’s competition. She pulled off seven triple jumps—five in combination—then nailed a huge triple toe loop-triple loop combo. It was a performance for the ages, and it was only possible because Hughes skated in a spirit of celebration rather than competition. Afterwards, she told the press:

I skated for pure enjoyment. That’s how I wanted my Olympic moment to be.