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.

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

While I was looking at the intricacy of this flower, I almost overlooked the tiny salamander standing on top of it as he blended in so well. While the bromeliad may not have the capacity to formally include the little guy as we may be able to as humans, they were able to easily be together, neither harming the other.

When we talk about inclusion, we have a tendency to want to include those who are the same as us because it's comfortable and feels safe. But in addition to sameness being a bit boring, it also overlooks that we may have a lot in common yet we are not the same because we are individuals. It's just a slight difference in perspective. Just as the bromeliad is much more interesting when combined with the salamander's presence, so our lives can be enriched with focusing on commonality rather than sameness to bring additional perspectives, interests and ideas to our lives.

How can you focus on what you have in common with someone who is not the same as you today?

#difference #enrichment #inclusion #perspective #strongertogether

It's voting day in the U.S. today. It's also voting day everywhere in the world today and everyday because you have the opportunity to vote for yourself. To invest time in growing. To put your agenda forward rather than following that of someone else. To vote out the habits that hold you back. To vote for change that improves your body, mind and spirit.

This shouldn't be taken as a vote for selfishness. Just the contrary. When we vote for our best selves, it is also a vote for all of us. It's not mutually exclusive. In fact, it's mutually inclusive because when we each put our best selves forward, we all benefit.

How will you vote for yourself today? And who can you recruit for your ticket of changing the world around you?

#vote #growth #community #invest

As the leaves fall, they create impressions on our dirt and gravel road when cars pass over them.

Similarly, we create impressions on others every day, whether we are conscious of it or not. If we take the time to define who we are, what our values are, how we live our lives, how we grow, how we treat others and ourselves, we help define the shape of the impressions we make on others. If we do not define those and other characteristics, though, we allow ourselves to be flattened by the forces of life around us and allow them to define us.

How will you define yourself and values today to leave a lasting, positive impression on others?

#impressions #definition #growth #proactive

Today is one of the days where we take some time off work to give back to our communities. It seems like I always come back having received far more than I have given. That's the beautiful thing about giving, whether of time, money or other gifts — we feel better when we give, which makes us want to give even more.

It is also a reminder that as a community, receiving requires that someone is willing to give. We can't just take and take and take without recognizing the responsibility to give at some point in time when we are able. When your hand is out, is it to give something or to receive, or a nice mix between the two?

The other important thing to remember is that people generally want to give, but may not know whether their gifts are too small or won't be welcome. So appreciation of the courage to give is just as important as the gift itself. When we all give — including giving thanks — we all receive.

What can you give today? How can you encourage others to give?

#giving #gratitude #generosity #giveback #community #bbww

Most days, I walk our dogs on a down-and-back route on this gravel road. I give them a turnaround treat as we head back.

Recently, I've been running the same route and as I get towards the end, I started thinking about the turnaround treat. Except there are no dogs with me. It's made me realize that sometimes it's easier to treat others and celebrate their milestones than it is to do the same thing for ourselves. While I'm not tempted by dog biscuits, of course, I will start to look for ways that I can pause and celebrate progress.

How can you celebrate your progress towards goals and growth today?

#celebrate #progress #growth #turnaround

Poison ivy is fresh and pretty in spring and can exhibit some stunning colors in autumn. But it's still poisonous. Well, to me, anyway. It doesn't seem to bother our dogs at all. And goats love to devour a good patch of poison ivy. So perhaps the question is less about whether the plant itself is toxic, or if it's toxic to a particular person or animal.

We often talk about toxic people or relationships. Yes, there are some people who tend to be more negative or not great at relationships, but that doesn't mean that they are personally toxic. It could just be our reaction to them. Who we are. Where we are in this part of our lives. Our level of emotional intelligence. How inclusive we are. How judgmental we may be.

Steer clear of things and people you believe may be harmful to you. But recognize that your reactions may also be toxic to others.

#connection #inclusion #emotionalintelligence #teams #relationships #perspective

I love birds but I'm not great at spotting them, so an app that helps identify them, including by their sounds, is very helpful. The sounds feature both songs and calls from each bird. Calls are usually shorter and are used to alert other birds — whether to danger or availability of food or whatever. Songs, on the other hand, are longer and, well, prettier. They're what males sing to attract mates.

When we listen to other people, we may not take the time to truly hear what they're saying. We might assume they're singing when they're really calling out if we don't listen closely or know them well.

How can you listen to what others are really saying this week?

#sing #birds #listen #pause #teaming #connection

SIP of the Day #60 – 3 lessons from autumn leaves

Sometimes we skip our habits. Here are 5 suggestions to make sure a skip doesn't become the new habit.

Familiar roads can seem scary when fog rolls in. But we have been down them before. We know how and where they end. We know what to look out for — the large pothole, the hidden driveway, the sharp curve.

Yet in life we still just want to go over and over the same things, hoping maybe this time it will be different. It's exhausting, frustrating, demoralizing and demotivating. If you really want to change your situation, try a different road. A different perspective. A different traveling companion. A tour guide. New wheels. A new direction. Something different.

Is your road becoming too predictable? How can you chart a new course?

#change #stuck #destination #fogoflife #action #choice

The Minot, ND train station seems to welcome only two passenger trains per day — the Empire Builder going west and the same going east. Yet it is a lovely depot decorated with antique pressed tin ceiling, classic benches, live plants — and this rack from the Minot Public Library. The rack offers free books and invites passengers to visit the library itself that's easy walking distance during the stopover, with the promise of free wifi, snack machines and books for purchase. It's great. But it made me wonder why they do this, because it's unlikely more than a handful of the passengers will be back. Why? Because, I assume, they're nice people who just want to share the love of reading with others and brighten their day and journey.

We can learn a lot about others (and ourselves) by how we give, regardless of the form of the gift. Or whether we give at all. We all have the same 24 hours in the day. A smile or kind word costs nothing.

Giving reflects whether our lives are only about ourselves, or about something greater. Whether we give out of generosity or an expectation of return. Whether we live a life focused on scarcity or abundance. We can all do better. And when we give, others give and the world becomes a much better place.

What can you give of yourself today? How do you recognize and appreciate the gifts of others?

#generosity #giving #scarcity #abundance #minot #whynotminot

It was pretty clear when I stopped off the highway in Washington State that the town had seen better days. I was curious about this freshly painted sign for a business that, for obvious reasons, no longer seems to exist. Perhaps an effort to rejuvenate a Main Street area?

Painting over the past may seem nice in the short term. But just as with the crumbling bricks in this picture, decay eventually pushes through the facade we create. To create a future that is better than the past, we must address our past, recognize what didn't work, what must be repaired, what is solid and can be a foundation for growth and do the hard work of moving forward. Paint a bright new future rather than romanticizing the past.

What can you learn from your past experience to paint a brighter future?

#addressthepast #futurefocus #denial