How To Make A Fast Friend

When you’re in the presence of a genuine friend you are in the arms of safety. Of that, I’m certain. I’m also certain true friends are rare, but maybe not as rare as I’ve been believing. This past week I traveled across the U.S. with my 3-year-old granddaughter in tow. The airport was chaotic (trains broke, a ramp collapsed and madness ensued). As we were scuttled about, I got to witness a wondrous lesson over and over. Wherever we went, my little Adelaide found a friend.

The first time was when she spied a child her size and marched right up to her. “Hi, friend.” And just like that the two of them were on the floor sharing their toys.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if adults could do that?

If you know me, you know I tested the theory. I marched right up to the frazzeled, overworked, ticket agent and said, “Hi, friend.”

She scowled, looked at me over the edge of her glasses, and replied, “Take a seat, ma’am.”

I smiled and took a seat, but not before sensing at least a portion of what that poor woman was experiencing as she dealt with frustrated and often angry people expecting her to solve problems that were beyond her control.

Later at our second gate, Adelaide made friends with a little boy. Together, they stood by the window and watched planes land and take off. It was like they had known each other all their lives and couldn’t wait to share an experience.

All this got me wishing that we adult would look to celebrate both the things we have in common as well as our differences. I wish we’d stop building barriers and build bridges instead. That first little friend Adelaide made didn’t speak a word, not a single word, of English. That didn’t stop two little girls from becoming fast friends. That didn’t stop them from learning how to communicate and get along regardless of a language barrier.

Hours later I was cranky and exhausted but lil’ Miss A was still looking to make her next friend.  She found a girl half her size. To me, they looked like they had nothing in common.

“How old are you?” Adelaide asked.

“I’m three,” said the girl.

“Me too!”

And that was that. They’d found a foundation on which to build a friendship.

C.S. Lewis figured it out. Friendship is born “at the moment when one man says to another, “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…”

Friendship is hardwired into our biology—into our brains. We are created to feel empathy. fMRI tests prove that when your friends are threatened, you feel threatened. Your anterior insula, putamen and supramarginal gyrus go into overdrive, the same as if you were in danger. That’s friendship.

So all those hours weren’t wasted in an airport. They turned into lessons to teach me that we are the architects of our friendships. We choose our building materials: fears, judgments and prejudices or understanding, trust and love. Above all—empathy. So today is dedicated to you, my friends. The ones who have my back. Who read my words. Who keep me safe in an unsafe world. I hope that when you’re in my presence you feel safe and loved because you are.

My Most Authentic Job

Don't Call Me Dumb

Creativity is great for the brain and the heart. That made me realize that my lawn looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. Dandelions and weeds everywhere—in spite of some very expensive fertilizer stuff guaranteed to kill the bad and nourish the good. Truth is, my life sorta resembles a Pollock painting. There’s nothing linear about it at the moment. I’m circling in a lot of directions, splattering, and making a work of art that some people will love and others will judge as trash.

I’m good with that. So good.

That’s because it’s finally sinking in that I’m here to paint a life that God wants. That’s it. I’m not here to judge anyone—including myself. I’m not here to rant about the unfairness of the world.  I’m here to change my world. That means I love without borders. I give without thought of getting. I can’t worry what others…

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My Most Authentic Job

Creativity is great for the brain and the heart. That made me realize that my lawn looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. Dandelions and weeds everywhere—in spite of some very expensive fertilizer stuff guaranteed to kill the bad and nourish the good. Truth is, my life sorta resembles a Pollock painting. There’s nothing linear about it at the moment. I’m circling in a lot of directions, splattering, and making a work of art that some people will love and others will judge as trash.

I’m good with that. So good.

That’s because it’s finally sinking in that I’m here to paint a life that God wants. That’s it. I’m not here to judge anyone—including myself. I’m not here to rant about the unfairness of the world.  I’m here to change my world. That means I love without borders. I give without thought of getting. I can’t worry what others think of me. Odd as it seems, that’s not my concern. My concern is to live a life that serves, restores, creates, appreciates, and grows the good stuff like love, forgiveness, laughter, joy, music, art, relationships, faith and loads and loads of hope.

Unfortunately, I’ve been brutal to myself. I’ve believed the worst that others had to say about me. Living in that deadly shadow has only made me feel insignificant and unwanted. It’s made me sick and weak on the inside, tho I might appear strong on the outside. Now I realize that I don’t have stop progressing because someone doesn’t approve of me. I especially realize that the self-judgement has to stop and the self-love has to flow.

Did you read the story about the teacher who took twin apples and secretly bruised the heck out of one, then set them side by side and asked her young students to speak kindly to one and cruelly to the other? When she cut them open, the apple that had been praised and loved was whole, crisp and juicy inside. The apple that had been mocked and judged and abused was brown and mushy and injured inside. That’s what bullying does. And don’t think it’s just kids who bully.

This Easter weekend as I reflect what it means to be a true Christian, I’ll focus on resurrection of the body and the spirit. I’ll reflect on a life that teaches me how to love and how to live now, so that death has no string. I’ll use my faith and the power of God to resurrect what’s bruised and broken and even dead within me.

I’m so far from the person I want to be. I’m so sorry it’s taken this long to learn that I’m not here on Earth to paint or criticize someone else’s art, I’m only here to create my own. (So sorry for the unwanted splotches I’ve flung at your canvases, my peeps.) I’ll be here if you need to borrow a brush or paint. I’ve got a lot of indigo to spare because that’s my favorite color. The Old Testament says it’s God’s favorite color too.

In the meantime, my hope for you is that joy sneaks up on you and hugs you tight. That sunshine warms your soul from the inside out. That whatever hurts within you begins to heal. I don’t believe I’ve ever been more grateful to be alive. Just alive. So get out there and paint the life that’s in you so you can share it with the world. Trust me, we need your beauty and creativity—every brushstroke matters.

The Wonder of An Imbalanced Life

I’m giving a speech in a few months entitled The Wonder of an Imbalanced Life.

Surely, that’s a typo.

Ellen DeGeneres knows the value of a balanced life: “…life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.”

Ha. The ultimate goal we all want is to live a balanced life, right?

I don’t think so. Not anymore anyway. The deeper I study of the life of Jesus Christ, the more I realize He was an extremist. He overwhelmingly tipped the scales in favor of love. Other extremists I admire include: Mahatma Gandhi, Socrates, Maria Klawe, Father Abraham, Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, Buddha, Michelangelo, Nelson Mandela, and my friend Lisa, at least when it comes to her kids. I mean, injure one of hers and she’ll rip your head off your shoulders. I’m in awe of that kind of extreme devotion!

This past little while my tiniest g-baby has been in the hospital very, very sick. In order for the nurses or doctors to keep poking and testing the babe, they have to pry her from her mother’s arms. Literally. Taylor Lee won’t let go, not for a single second. She doesn’t leave that baby’s bedside. In those harrowing hours there is no balance in any of our lives. Every ounce of faith and every good wish we can muster goes to that child’s healing.

Does that mean someone or something else has to be neglected?

Maybe. Probably. Yes. Indeed. (Never fear…little Miss Adelaide is safe and spoiled with Grandma Sandy and Grandpa Bob).

Imbalance is part of life. I’ve got six kids and I tend to run to the one who is bleeding. I think that lets the others know I’d do the same for them. Anyway, it’s the best I can do in that moment, and I’m weary from piling guilt on my shoulders and carrying it around because I can’t be everything to everyone all at the same time.

So I’ve got a new take when it comes the theory of a balanced life—do it all, but not all at the same time. I mean love everyone you can. Travel everywhere you can. Learn everything you can. Be all you can be. But for heaven’s sake, from time to time pick something to go overboard about. Something or someone that makes you teeter to the edge and feel desperately alive!

My friend Sharlee has set our community on fire lately with her impassioned call for ethical government. She’s got people clawing to get on her life raft, sailing out into the high seas, rescuing refugees and causing mighty waves all the way to Washington D.C.

I live among a community of good souls who called, “Enough!” when they realized that over 60 percent of the gay kids here have attempted suicide. Now there’s a place for those kids to gather and feel safe and loved. All because someone went to an extreme.

I’m blessed with friends who taught me that going to an extreme in the wrong direction can be deadly. They’ve got me waking up before dawn to work out and to love the taste of kale and quinoa. That tells me how much we need each other to keep the balance.

Radical change requires radical action.

And yes, I understand the basics of balance. The majority of life is doing the mundane and working to pay bills and tending to the same chores again and again. Rote is a form of balance. Remember though, while everything and everyone has to be tended to, you can’t do it everything at once.

I also understand that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I know that a butterfly with just one wing never gets off the ground. I also know that everything is in perpetual motion. That means you’re always moving and changing. The foundational theory of quantum physics allows for particles to be in two states at the same time.  Guess what? You and I are made of particles. We are only beginning to glimpse our own existence, but we do know that we’re always in motion, even when we think we’re still. That means we’re always doing a balancing act.

I believe it’s how life was intended.

I met a woman named Gerda who is a high wire performer. She calls this balancing act rotational inertia. It means the wire beneath her feet is rotating all the time and only changes from the torque she applies to it as she moves forward.

Forward, friends. That’s our only direction.

If there are days you have to fall back, that’s okay too. Every good warrior knows when to advance and when to retreat. If someone has to be neglected while you tend to someone in need, that’s okay. If everyone has to set aside so you can tend to YOU, that’s more than okay. It’s only for a season. I know because the wisest mortal who ever lived, Solomon, said so: To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Please, friends, if you’re feeling stressed and overloaded, know you’re living through a season. It’s only a season. If it’s a good one, savor every second. If people are upset with you because you’re unable to give them all they demand, let it go. You’re walking a tight rope. You’re balancing all that you can. Drop something if you have to. But keep moving forward when you can. I love you. I believe in you. And I think you should celebrate every step.

Thanks for letting me rant. Right now I’m in a season of recuperation and reflection. My next season might be high adventure. Who knows? But while I’m trying my best, and you’re trying your best, let’s let our personal balancing acts be one step at a time, doing our best to do it all—eventually—but knowing we’ll fall, and that’s okay, because we know Who is holding the safety net to catch us so we can climb back up and start all over.

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

The photo is of my little Adelaide “wondering” what it would be like to jump into the Gulf of Mexico. I told her not to get wet, but she’s three and raging with curiosity. So I just stood in awe and took photos.

The etymology of the word wonder means of ultimate unknown origin. It also means to magnify or to be astonished. Have you ever wondered why your life has not gone as planned? I mean no one gets married planning to get divorced. No one drives to work planning to be broadsided by a semi. No one pencils “get cancer” into their weekly schedule.

Last week I heard a story about the Children of Israel’s plight when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took Jews captive. What business did “God’s people” have living in a land surrounded by idols? What business did they have living so far away from their beloved temple? The Babylonian king’s strategy was brilliant…let the foreign captives live among his own, and in time they were bound to adapt the Babylonian way of living and thinking, especially the younger malleable generation. The stunned and indignant Jews just knew that God would not leave them in Babylon for any length of time. So, they prayed and planned for their imminent deliverance.

I’ve read the Old Testament a couple of times yet I never realized that these good and faithful people wanted exactly what I want out of life—to live it according to plan. MY plan. The Jews prayed that God would vindicate them and return them to their rightful land. That was their plan, but God had a different plan. He told them to be patient, that their captivity would last up to seventy years, so they should settle in, build houses, plant gardens and eat what they grew. The people, especially the older ones, knew this meant they would never return home. Imagine how they felt. (Jeremiah 29)

For a lot of us, we don’t have to imagine too strenuously. We know how it feels to have our plans come undone. We live with ongoing disappointment. Well, after Sunday’s sermon I realized that faith in our Highest Power means having faith in divine unflawed love, a force that wants us to be happy and successful. Try telling that to the woman who desperately wanted a husband and children, but remains single. Tell that to the spouse who was faithful to an unfaithful partner. Tell that to my friend whose baby, the one they waited thirteen years to have, the son they hinged all their dreams on, was born with trisomy 21, an extra copy of chromosome 21.

My own life has known a lot more dead ends than long stretches of open road. I’ve learned that it’s better to be alone than in a toxic relationship. My friend who was initially devastated to learn that her son had Down Syndrome, now celebrates the fact that the kid manufactures pure joy. He’s taken his family on a wondrous detour they never would have chosen to journey. In the process, they’ve all evolved in a way their original plan could not have facilitated.

It’s fitting that a rabbi said: Man plans and God laughs. It’s time for me to stop complaining and start trusting that when I hit a brick wall there’s an unseen reason. Maybe it’s to make God laugh, the way a parent does when a toddler tumbles, only to spring back up to cheers. He knows that every time I get back up, I’m transformed. Maybe the wall is to stop me from making a mistake, or turn me in a different direction or protect me. No matter. I’m going to rewire my brain’s rutted circuitry and see it as a plot twist in the story that’s my life. What would a story be without an unforeseen plot twist? It’d be boring and predictable. I can hardly wait to turn the next page because the Author and Finisher I’ve come to know does not do boring and predictable. He does wonder.

Making Life Simpler

It’s happening. Every day I get closer to living my ultimate dream of what I call spiritual simplicity. What it really means is I’m getting rid of “stuff” and focusing on what really matters to me…people, service, experiences and learning.

Did you realize that U.S. consumers are parents to only 3 percent of the world’s children, but we blessed American dads and moms purchase forty percent of the world’s toys? That statistic boggled my brain. What toys do kids need these days to experience a happy, creative, rewarding childhood? We took baby Nellie to the park this past weekend and all she needed was the great outdoors. She played with a stick. She found joy in the swing set, the ducks, and a dog that happened by. When the malamute attempted to steal her stick, Nellie was having none of it. She became the dog and stuck it in her mouth and dared us to wrestle it from her. Nature and her imagination. You can’t buy those two things at any toy store.

       That got me to thinking how joyous life is when we keep it simple. The happiest people I know are people who pull the car over to look at a sunset, or weep at the budding of a flower, or roll up their pants to run into the ocean waves. People who aren’t too rushed to pay attention to other people. They have time to stop and “chat” with a neighbor. People who are curious. People who bend down to speak on a child’s level. People who sing along to the radio. People who dance when the music starts. People who create. People who take God at His word.

       I’ve been reading a lot about Thoreau and his quest to “live deliberately.” We mistakenly believe he went deep into the woods to get away from the din of society. Not true. Emerson’s little piece of property where Thoreau took refuge sat on the outskirts of town.

       We don’t have to go far. We don’t have to spend much. We don’t have to cave to advertisers telling us what will make us happy. We’ve got an inner voice that speaks the truth and guides us to true happiness. The problem is we’ve also got a crowd of other voices and they all speak louder. They all have opinions about how we should live.

       Silly us.

       We’re responsible for the quality of our lives. We’re responsible for our own happiness. Tomorrow I’ll make another bag of “stuff” and donate it. That makes me happier than going to the store and bringing another bag of “stuff” into our home.

       Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe the kids should take me seriously when I tell them to pick up their “stuff.” Whatever is going on, I’m glad life is getting simpler.






Think Like Tesla

The more I learn about the human brain the more convinced I am that “thoughts” are how human beings are connected not only to each other, but to the Source of Everything. When we learn to tune ourselves to this Source, there is nothing we cannot understand. This past year I developed a bit of an obsession with Nikola Tesla, one of the most eccentric and mystical minds—maybe ever. This is the guy who developed AC (alternating current). He earned more than 700 patents and pioneered wireless communication, x-rays, lasers, artificial lightning, electric engines, radar and robotics.

You can study his biography. It’s beyond fascinating. But today I just want to share with you a few of the techniques Tesla used to tune his own brain so he could receive inspiration and insight. Then I want you to try opening your own brain to the same Source and see what happens.

Intended Meditation

            I always thought meditating was sitting still and letting inspiration find you. For me, the sitting still part is torture, especially when I’m meditating with a group. Everybody else goes limp and quiet. I squirm. I always have to fight back a sneeze, a cough, or an itch that’s going to disrupt the harmony of the group. So I do most of my meditating alone. Tesla taught me that meditating is more and being silent and aware of your breath. It’s opening up your mind to a blank screen, then creating with your brain, not just in a flat dimension, but in multi-dimensions. It’s untethering your imagination and letting it roam out “there” where there are no limits. This remote viewing or inner eye meditation allows you to see what doesn’t yet exist.

In his autobiography Tesla describes his ability to “see” an apparatus in detail. He could start a motor in his mind and leave it running until he took it apart and put it back together, all before it ever existed in reality.

Try it. Take a problem or an invention and create a solution or an answer in your mind first. The trick is not to force it or to rely on your own abilities. Open yourself to the Source of all creation and don’t be hesitate to work out the minutest details.


There’s a pun in here because in 1856 Tesla was born during a violent lightning storm in what is now Croatia. Did that contribute to his lifelong obsession with lightning? That’s the consensus. Did “light” enter him and somehow reshape his brain? Some people think so. What we do know is that Tesla was apt at brainstorming, even though he preferred to invent alone; he liked to brainstorm with his associates.

Brainstorm is a term we used to hear a lot more frequently. It means to gather others with the intention of pooling ideas to create or problem solve.

Tesla had some brilliant minds he could draw from: George Westinghouse, J. P. Morgan, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, and of course, his rival Thomas Edison. He had brainstorming discussions with them all.

We tend to think we have to solve our problems on our own, especially if we feel we caused them. (That’s rubbish thinking and a topic for another day.)

There’s a freedom and a power in brainstorming. If you aren’t comfortable going to friends or colleagues to brainstorm, how about approaching your Highest Power to ask the Creator of the universe if there’s time to spare for a little brainstorming session with you? The answer will always be yes.

Fail to Succeed

These past few weeks have been painful for me as a mom. Elijah ran for a studentbody office and lost. Then he applied for a leadership scholarship and lost. He bounced right back and joined the track team. He’s that resilient. I’m not. I sting and smart and nurse my bruises for a bit, especially the ones my children experience. Oh well…that’s life and life is how we learn.

Nikola Tesla was arguably the foremost genius of the 20th century. He’s the reason you can flip a switch and have electricity in your home, he’s the reason you put on a lead apron before having an x-ray taken, he’s the reason that little Smartphone in your hand exists.

He was a tremendous success which means he was also a tremendous failure. Overcoming obstacles was how to learned and grew. He was born into poverty and war. His teachers failed to grasp his genius and accused him of cheating. He almost died of cholera. His lost his college scholarship and became addicted to gambling, at one point his shame led him to cut ties with his family, letting them believe he was dead. He even suffered a nervous breakdown before he overcame the doubts that swarmed his brain. When he arrived at Ellis Island he was 28-years-old with only a thin volume of poetry, a handwritten letter, and four cents in American currency.

What Tesla lacked outwardly, he more than made up for inwardly. That handwritten letter? It was addressed to a fellow named Thomas Edison who soon became Tesla’s employer and later his rival.

Over the next sixty years Tesla would fail again and again. He would lose fortunes. He would lose respect and support. In the end, he lost his brilliance and died alone in a New York City hotel room.

Don’t shoot me for giving away such a tragic ending. It wasn’t tragic at all. Nikola Tesla lived his dream. His passion was to improve the world and to improve the lives of the impoverished. He never forgot his upbringing and developed a love for the Earth that led him to seek clean, renewable energy sources.

Against the odds, his life was blindingly successful.

And so is yours.

You might not have his scientific gifts, no one does, but you have your own gifts. Are you tapping into them? Are you opening yourself to true inspiration? Are you pooling your resources, especially the One that has all your answers? Are you willing to risk failure to succeed?

Me? I’ve got a lot of work to do. A lot. But every time I come across someone or something that inspires me, I want to take a moment and jot it down to share with you. I’m so grateful to each of you who read what I write, who go to the trouble to tell me what you think and how you feel about the variegated subjects I throw out there. With that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Tesla quotes: “All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.”