A brief introduction to what you’ll find here

You (or someone you know) might find my books helpful

Awakening: Inspirations & Motivations in Living Color is the first volume of the posts that combine my photographs with thoughts to inspire and motivate you as you begin your day on two categories. The first, People, focuses on the relationships we have that are usually the why of our motivation to grow. The Purpose and Process category, on the other hand, channels reflection on what our purpose is and what goals and habits we may need to propel us in living in alignment with that purpose.

More about Awakening

enCharge: Transform Your Life From Within Through Your Life Success Factors was released in 2020. Energy takes the path of least resistance, so it must be channeled to make the most of it. Similarly, by identifying your life success factors, you can identify, seize and create opportunities that will lead to a more fulfilling life.

More about enCharge

Proceeds from both books benefit the enCharge Purpose in Action Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin Law school. I founded the scholarship to assist law students with a demonstrated record of pursuing their purpose and whose purpose will be furthered by a legal education at the finest legal institution I know (and which is also my alma mater, so I might be biased). If you’d like to contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact me.


Bite sized thoughts

Sometimes we need a quick breath to slow down and think. The Instagram feed below features my own photos with a brief thought (and sometimes quotes from others) along with some comments that might give you something to think about. You can also check out the short SIP of the Day series on a separate page.

Agave plants are designed for the leaves to capture precious drops of water and direct them to the root system. You can see a bit of this funneling formation in this pic. It's a terrific example of conservation of limited resources.

We hear often of how limited natural resources like water are and how we must conserve them, yet we tend to continue wasting them, often in the name of convenience.

One of the most precious resources, though, is our very limited time. We all have the same amount, yet how we use it can impact both ourselves and others. Are we allowing others to direct our time to something that isn't aligned with our goals and purpose? Are we doing the same to others? To ourselves?

The next time you look at your recycle bin or refill your water bottle, take a moment to think about how you're managing your time. Can you repurpose time that you're currently wasting? How can you respect the time of others?

#time #conservation #teaming

Several years ago, I watched this saguaro cactus being relocated to this spot in the Desert Botanical Garden. It was done by professionals with all the right equipment and was left in place with proper support. And yet, as you can see, it's dying. The top has literally come off. And yet, if you are the birds, this is a resounding success. A great place to gather and make a home.

No one likes failure. But failure is often the spark for growth and learning that leads to longer term success. That only happens when we take time to examine what happened, learn from it, and take the step forward to what is next. In addition, what seems like a failure to us may seem like a success to others. It's all in how we look at it and if we're willing to unwrap the situation and delve deeper.

Are you holding yourself back from growth by what you think is a failure? Have you disrobed it to see what success may reside within it? How will you move forward to seek new growth and success?

#failure #success #growth #digdeeper #perspective

SIP of the Day #61 – Crave something new. We often crave what's comfortable rather than realizing there's something even better waiting for us.

Apologies for not-so-great audio quality.

I had a 5:30 AM flight this week out of the new Terminal A at Newark Airport. It's a tremendous change from the previous terminal. But in my sleepy state, I was focused only on finding the airline lounge. I looked at all the signs, read the map, wandered around. But no luck. Then I saw this staircase and the telltale elevator lurking in the background and realized this would be the airline lounge area sometime, but construction wasn't complete. Doh!

Disappointed and more grumpy, I wandered around the terminal and started to explore. It's an amazing place with fascinating features, interesting artwork, unexpected details and some tech thrown in. But I would have missed all of that if the lounge had been open.

Even when we are surrounded by signs that something new and exciting has arrived, it is hard to fight the urge to seek out the familiar. To stay where we are comfortable. To avoid change. To block out possibility. To choose not to grow. Signs can point out something new, but it is up to us to actually take action and open ourselves up to something new.

What signs are you acting on today? Which ones are you ignoring? How would a sign describe where you are choosing to stay?

#change #signs #openness #exploration #findthenew #choice #action

This ad was in a 1977 issue of our local newspaper that Mom had saved because I was on the front page (below the fold, alas). No details. No name. Not even a phone number. Just a promise of something for virtually nothing (even in 1977 dollars). Yet apparently enough people were duped that they were able to keep running the ad and collecting the "investments" from others.

I can laugh at this Big Money Co ad as being ridiculous, yet I know I throw away my limited time at activities that are just as blatantly misleading, wasteful or unhelpful. A quick scan of social media. Hey, is there anything new in the fridge since I last looked? Binge watching on a streaming service. Just me?

There's nothing inherently wrong with wasting your own time so long as you are conscious of what you are giving up. That projects that matter to you will take longer to complete. That you may be missing time with family or friends. That you aren't able to learn or practice a new skill. That others may surge ahead of you.

What are you investing in today?

#invest #scamlikely #mindfulness #choice

Severe storms can knock over the strongest of trees, as happened with this particular one in our woods. The roots that were torn up as it fell are still standing there, connected to what remains of the trunk, testament to the past, and too large to ignore or attempt to place back in the ground. Each time it rains, a bit more of the root system is revealed and it is fascinating. Beautiful in its own way, but not nearly so beautiful as part of the healthy tree it once was.

Life happens to us. We are hurt, damaged, devastated. We cannot turn back the clock. We can (and must) move on, but what happened is always a part of us, no matter how much we may try to ignore or cover over it. It is a part of our present and will be a part of our future. What's important, then, is to acknowledge the change (and perhaps seek therapy for trauma) and integrate the new (and, indeed, sometimes improved) us into what comes next. To not let the past define our future.

Are you spending more time covering up the past than building in the present and for the future? How can your past experiences create a foundation for growth?

#damage #growth #past #present #futurefocus

I've started choosing window seats since COVID and wonder why I was in such a hurry to get out that I always demanded the aisle before. It's certainly not because I have long legs I need to stretch out. I've started to enjoy just gazing out at the beauty beneath the wings.

I prefer daytime views to see the ground beneath change over the miles, but there's something magical about the night. The sparkling lights, the clusters, and the long stretches of blackness. It reminds me that every light matters. Cities are made up of many lights, but a single light can create signs of habitation in the darkness.

We may not think our contributions matter. Maybe they're small. Maybe we think no one sees them. Maybe others shine more brightly. Maybe they're too mundane. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But MAYBE each of us are part of something much larger, something that wouldn't be possible without the contributions of everyone, no matter how big or small.

How are you letting your light shine today? What contributions have you been holding back? What more can you offer?

#light #contribution #giving #teaming #inthistogether #windowview

I’m a novice gardener, but geraniums have never been a favorite plant, mostly because they often look like half their blooms are dying. It wasn’t until recently I realized why – they hadn’t been deadheaded.

Deadheading is a process of removing dying blooms that redirects the plant’s energy to creating new blossoms. I’m greatly simplifying, but by removing the blossoms (even some that still seem prettyish), you help the plant produce more blooms.

While in Arizona over the holidays, I spotted a lot of geraniums in beds around the golf course that were in need of deadheading. Not my job, but the pace of play was slow, so I’d jump out of the cart and deadhead when I could. Made me feel better to help the geranium along and potentially improve the view of others.

Here’s the thing, though. While the geraniums can produce flowers, deadheading only occurs with the help of another. Same in our lives. We can do a lot to propel our own growth, but the attention and assistance of others can help us be even more productive and grow faster. It may not be their job, but they often want to help. We often need to ask for that help.

Are you surrounding yourself with those who can help you see where you need to grow? Have you asked for insights from others who care about you and your growth so that they know their insight is welcomed rather than seen as criticism? How are you helping others prune things that are slowing their growth?

#growth #prune #deadhead #teaming #support

We ask whether glasses are half full or half empty, thinking of optimism or pessimism. But perhaps the better question is whether we need the glass in the first place.

I've been reading about the power of quitting things that are not working for us, yet we persist. One reason is the endowment effect — we value things simply because we have them, even if we wouldn't obtain them again. I realized last weekend that there were a lot of things that I have — including, literally, glasses — that I don't need or use. I put a whole bunch of things online for free and was delighted when everything went to new homes.

The same is true with many aspects of life. A goal sounded great when first set, but is it something we still want? Those first few dates were nice, but is this the right relationship long-term? Does the career we started years ago still engage us? You get the idea.

What are you pursuing today that may no longer be serving you? Is it time to quit and start something new? Or can you make some tweaks to breathe new energy into a goal?

#goals #grit #persistence #change #quit

Fog is fascinating to me. It can make somewhere comfortable feel quiet and cozy, yet cause anxiety when you're somewhere new or unfamiliar. In either situation, what's certain is that the fog will eventually burn off.

When we're on familiar ground, we know what's out there and will emerge again, so we can keep on with business as usual as we've seen this before. In an unfamiliar place, our tendency may be to stop and let fear and uncertainty arrest our progress.

Leaders, though, continue to move forward, albeit at a slower pace. They know others are following them and stopping creates a domino effect for progress both individually and collectively. They embrace the chance to take a new look at surroundings, rest in a slower pace and prepare to spot and seize opportunities that emerge.

How will look through the fog of uncertainty and disruption to lead your team toward new opportunities?

#fog #leadership #teaming #opportunity #progress

I've been to the Desert Botanical Gardens more times than I can count, but I had never seen this rock "turtle" near one of the paths before. I'm sure it had been there, but I just didn't see it, likely because I wasn't looking for it.

Life changes around us, but if we follow the same path every day, we miss out on both those opportunities and others that already exist, waiting to be discovered. It can be a simple thing like seeing something new, but it can also be a new opportunity for growth, friendship, career, community engagement and more.

How can you open your eyes to see what else the world has to offer you?

#opportunity #newlook #freshperspective

I wasn't happy to be back in the airport in Phoenix. It was rainy (yes, in Phoenix!), the airport was bursting at the seams with often-frustrated/delayed travelers (due to storms, airline issues, and now those returning from college bowl games) and I was going home early due to damage at our home. I was just as cranky as those around me.

I put on my noise canceling headphones to drown it all out. And started staring out the window to avoid the never-ending conga line of passengers and bags flooding the plane. And I saw this scene. Dark clouds overhead, but clearing in the distance and the Phoenix skyline highlighted. I'd never seen that before and it was strangely beautiful. And I smiled as I thought of the phoenix rising from the rain rather than the proverbial ashes.

When storms roll into both our neighborhoods and our lives, we hunker down and retreat inside. It's safer there. But we also limit our view and the ability to examine the situation from a different perspective.

How can you pop out of your safety zone in a storm to take in a new view?

#perspective #storms #phoenix #riseagain

These lily pads reminded me of stepping stones for frogs, though I doubt the frogs feel the same way. There's something compelling about stepping stones, though — they create a path that begs to be followed, to hop from one to the other to get somewhere. And the destination is often less important than the journey itself.

Opportunities are the stepping stones of life. They offer a chance to change direction, to pursue novelty, to learn and, yes, to fail. All opportunities are not good opportunities, but we won't know if we aren't open to seeing them and considering where they might lead. It may be an entirely different direction, but one that arrives at a better destination.

How will you be open to opportunity this week? Are you willing to take a step towards growth?

#growth #courage #path #steppingstone #direction #opportunity #openness

For literally years I have thought, "I wonder what those are," as I saw these unusual round, bumpy masses along our road in autumn. Yet I did nothing to find out what they were, even though I had the knowledge of the world on my phone in my pocket.

But last week I realized was just thinking rather than wondering if I hadn't taken the time and minimal effort to research it. So I finally looked it up and it is the (non edible) fruit of the osage orange tree, which is also a member of the same family as the jackfruit which may explain similarity in appearance.

When we are genuinely wondering, we are curious. Curious about the possible, what could happen, where something came from, et cetera. As anyone with a curious toddler knows, that curiosity drives questions and exploration. And that's where learning happens.

What do you wonder about? Are you curious enough to take the effort to learn? Where will your sense of wonder and exploration take you this weekend?

#learning #curiosity #wonder #action

The pattern left behind when leaves fall off the giant elephant ear plant is art of its own. Its creation starts the moment a leaf begins forming and only becomes apparent when the leaf's life is done.

It's tempting to think of legacy as something that only matters when one is older. But each day, at each age, we create our legacy, whether we realize it or not. Tomorrow is not guaranteed nor is a do-over of today. How will you lay the foundation today for the legacy you want to create?

#legacy #intention #startnow

Herons are wading birds, so I didn't expect to see one hanging out on a roof. But of course they can fly, so I shouldn't have been surprised.

When we seek growth, we do things that others may not expect. There may be reactions of surprise ("Oh, I didn't realize she could do X") but it can often be a bit more negative ("Who does she think she is to be doing Y?"). But often the negative or questioning perspective comes from our own mental chatter, wondering if we're "enough," if we deserve something, or worrying what others might think or say.

That heron on the roof doesn't care that I think it's odd that it's up there. It is looking for new opportunities and will see them before others who are comfortable staying complacent on the ground.

Do you want new opportunities? If so, are you putting yourself in new places where you can spot and seize them?

#opportunity #perspective #comfortzone #youareenough

A key component of a windsock is its frame, which positions the windsock to find and receive the wind and also creates some degree of permanent shape for the windsock. There are other ways to roughly gauge wind direction like a ribbon or one's finger in the wind, but they're not always present and visible. One has to remember to try to use them, which takes time and effort.

It's important in life to monitor the conditions around us and adjust our approach accordingly. Too often, we forget to monitor because it is not a regular part of our life or not visible. Adding reminders on your calendar or digital device to take stock of where you are, your rate of growth, and how/whether you want to make adjustments can make monitoring more visible and keep you from being blown off course.

How will you make monitoring your growth a regular part of your schedule?

#monitor #direction #visibility #measurement #habits

In establishing Armistice Day (now Veterans Day), Congress declared it to be "a day dedicated to the cause of world peace." World War I may have ended, but the memory of its destruction and loss of life were fresh in the minds of all.

In honoring veterans today, we recognize their service towards that cause. That they are willing to become warriors to make peace and to preserve the democracy that we have seen in action this week.

We owe a debt of immense gratitude to the small portion of our citizenry who serve in our armed forces. But we also have a responsibility to promote peace and resolve conflict in our own civilian lives. To stand up for our values while creating space for constructive dialog with those who may disagree with us. To pause and realize we have so much more that unites us than divides us and to celebrate our shared values.

How will you honor our veterans today? And how will you carry their lesson of peacemaking into your day?

#veterans #peace #commonality #teaming #values #dialog #veteransday #armisticeday

The rising moon was striking last night. I tried to use different features on my phone to capture its essence. The photos were all different, but none did the job well. Some looked almost like a sunrise, others like a UFO. But the reality didn't change — the moon was still the moon — just the how it was framed.

Reality is what it is, whether we like it or not. But how we frame or label the situation can drive whether we grow or retreat. Am I scared or excited? Sad or reflective? Lazy or recharging? Defeated or retrenching? Words may seem similar, but the connotation we attach to them makes a world of difference. Whatever the situation, there are likely multiple choices to label and frame your reality. Choosing the positive and optimistic version increases the likelihood of a better outcome.

How can you change the lens to reframe the biggest challenges you fact today?

#frame #label #perspective #growth #reality