Blogpost, self-reliance

Now and Later (getting what you want)

For some reason, I’ve always had an issue deciphering between what I would call “2nd tier candy.” I don’t usually eat that much candy and other than a former colleague who used to love telling me the jokes from her Laffy Taffy, never had them thrust upon me. So Now and Later candies could be bitter, sweet, sour or all of the above and I really wouldn’t know. However, I do recognize the bitter and sweet relationship between now and later in life.

As humans, we respond so much better to now. It’s extremely concrete, urgent and gives us immediate feedback. Whether it’s a piece of candy or an Amazon Prime purchase, we get that rush of the moment and often it whisks us away.

Later is a much tougher concept. Yes! We can rationalize long term benefits because our brains have developed to do so. However, it takes slightly more effort because we have to get past a lot of nows to get to later. That can be difficult, especially today because so many people and corporations want to hijack your now.

So it’s really up to you and what you want. The original title to this blogpost was going to be “there’s no six pack in your future without crunches in your present.” That might have been a more specific post meant just for me but you get the point. So many of the things that we want for ourselves require a long term view. It’s not easy. It’s not convenient and often we must forego a lot of sweet moments in favor of bitter ones. Swallowing down all of those difficult moments is necessary and we know it. Unfortunately, many of us tend to lose heart and focus because of all the now that we’re sacrificing. So make sure that this thing is something that you really want, then pony up all of the now that’s necessary.

Later is on its way and no one can stop it. The version of you that shows up is dependent upon how you spend the nows in between. How will you feel when later shows up? Proud that you held onto that vision of later and stayed the course? Or regretful for all of the nows that were squandered? As usual, it’s up to you!



Blogpost, self-reliance

Shake The Etch a Sketch

One of my favorite thoughts to come back to regularly is David Foster Wallace’s talk “This Is Water!” If you’ve never heard it, the video on YouTube is worth the ten minutes! It basically outlines a need to be conscious of your default thoughts because they can become invisible like water. They surround and permeate our lives in ways that we tend to not even notice. We run on a form of autopilot through situations. Seeing the world much like we did yesterday and the day before that. Problems arise when the water or picture no longer serves. In an effort to not throw out the proverbial baby (or fish) with the bath water, the picture metaphor works much better in this case. We can have a picture for different portions of our lives that can independently be reworked.

As a kid, one of the most pervasive toys that all kids seemed to have was the Etch A Sketch. It was a drawing toy that you used knobs to draw on a “screen” and shaking it would give a new surface to draw on. Perhaps it is time to shake the Etch A Sketch on different picture models that you have for your life. Seeing yourself, a situation or your life differently can be complicated and difficult. Some of the pictures we have of who we are can be decades old. Yet, it may be necessary to shake those longstanding ones up. Our beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of shape our thoughts and actions. The things that we will or will not consider are based largely upon these models. So take a look and decide if you need a shake up!

It’s far easier for me to say than for anyone to do! BELIEVE ME I KNOW! Some of the pictures that I have in my head seem like they are etched in stone, not a child’s toy. Even if they are, it is incumbent on me to fix it, redraw it and yes shake it up! (Not off, that’s Taylor Swift). So despite the discomfort and difficulty, take a look at your pictures of the world and decide if they work or not. Maybe you’ve actually had some of them since your Etch A Sketch days.

Give ‘Em a shake!


Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer In America: The Question of Lagging Behind

There is a desire among soccer fans to understand why the USMNT is “lagging” behind other nations. “We have great facilities and coaches. Why are we still behind other nations that are much smaller and less equipped?” A colleague asked me to respond to this perspective which I’m happy to do but as we begin, remember that this is not a problem of simple math where 2+2=4. This is an equation of multivariable calculus. The solution is not as simple as everyone would like for it to be but it is there nonetheless.

Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The French Hockey Variable – If you were to research all of the characteristics of the best hockey players in the world, you would most likely find that a large percentage of them speak French. Therefore any hockey club that is looking to build a superior program should teach their players French. Obviously this is a ridiculous idea. However underlying the concept is a nugget of truth that needs to be realized. French is not the common denominator but it is an indicator. The indication is that a large number of the best hockey players come from French speaking Canada. The French is irrelevant but what is extremely relevant is the cultural implications. These players come from a place where success in that particular sport is nurtured and encouraged. The love for the sport is felt through their entire existence.

Largely the United States is still learning French. We are hoping that by playing Frankenstein’s Monster with soccer that national team results can meet the expectations of the few hardcore fans. Unfortunately that is not likely to work. Cultural shifts take a long time especially in a nation as large and diverse as the US. A small nation like Iceland has a much better chance of achieving a cultural overhaul that produces notable results on the international stage. Turning a motorboat is easier than turning an ocean liner. The United States will eventually hit a “tipping point” where an avalanche of cultural practices will reap benefits at the highest level. Again my prediction is 2026 but let’s keep moving on those variables.

The Distraction Variable – Unfortunately many people within the system of soccer are more interested in personal gain rather than altruistic motives for the improvement of the sport. An Icelandic youth player is probably separated from a national team player by a few degrees. So the dream of playing for the national team is real. Also the meaning of playing for the national team is potent with pride because basically everyone in the country cares. Kids in the US have so many more “shiny objects” to distract them before the USMNT is even a consideration. Elite teams, scholarships, academies, etc. are a confusing system of hoops that have some meaning but are not particularly a path leading to the USMNT or the betterment of soccer in this country. Since the system is difficult to decipher, kids and parents need to rely upon people who know the game. Since solidarity payments are not made to developmental clubs, the motivation for lower level clubs is to gain status by keeping talent rather than selling it up the pyramid. This system is changing slowly and many of the “fākademies” are being revealed as nothing more than profit centers rather than rungs on the soccer ladder. Once parents and players can see a direct path from the youth to professional game, the inflation of youth soccer will level off.

The En Vogue Variable – Although soccer is gaining popularity overall, Major League Soccer is far behind the upward trajectory of the sport. There are many reasons for this but eventually they need to break down. At one point, the Serie A was the most popular league in the world. At the moment, the English Premier League holds that moniker. In the future, MLS needs to hit that level and I believe that it will. However before it can, the league needs for soccer fans in the US to embrace it. Lack of great players, lack of history, lack of American superstars, and all of the other excuses that fans give for not supporting this league will eventually fade away. At that point, MLS will become like Marvel. Once something becomes popular then everyone “was always a fan.”

The Generation Variable – One or more of these variables could tip and cause the avalanche that brings the results that hardcore soccer fans want. This variable could have the strongest influence but also would be the hardest to track. My father didn’t play soccer. I started that tradition in my family. So I refer to myself as a first generation soccer player. My son now plays which makes him second generation. He is more educated about the game than I was at his age. The thing about a generational impact is that it is exponential growth. A player has three kids and that has potential of 3X growth. Since the US flirted with soccer throughout the 1900’s and especially in the 1970’s, it’s hard to pinpoint the generational effect. However it exists and if it hits at the right time with some of these other variables, THE WORLD WON’T KNOW WHAT HIT THEM!

Soccer in the US is not lagging behind other countries any more than we are lagging behind in consumption of chocolate. We ranked 8th in that statistic in 2019. Switzerland led the way by doubling our per capita consumption. There are some things that are difficult to determine about the US. One that I am never in doubt about is that we will find a way to achieve whatever we deem important. At some point, we’ll decide that soccer is important and this perceived lag will be history.

USMNT World Cup Champs 2026!


Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Soccer Is Not a Zero Sum Game

lukesoccerThe youth sports culture (especially soccer) is in need of change.  The needed change is not one of rules or procedures but culture.  The norms and beliefs surrounding youth sports are largely influenced by the adults that administer the delivery of the sport.  This article is not a complete plan on how to fix all of the problems.  It is the beginning of a conversation to be had on an individual, team, club and national level.  Are we giving our children the experience that they deserve?

A Zero Sum Game: Look at the Goal Differential table for any league from the Premier League all the way down to a U8 Flight 9, the table always adds up to zero.  By this mathematical analysis of soccer, there is balance that delineates some teams as “winners” and some “losers”.  By taking this viewpoint, a team that ends up at the bottom of the table receives less from the game than the one at the top.  While this may hold true in accolades and trophies, it completely discounts the majority of reasons why young people and adults play soccer in droves every year.  Winning is not the point!  If it were, then the key to being a successful team or club would be to join the weakest league possible.  

In Search of Something More: The game is not the result.  The game is a process that is intended to bring out more of what makes us human to begin with.  Many clubs are fully committed to the Zero Sum Game.  Putting all effort into getting better at winning.  Replacing players each year with better players, investing in trainers who look to win but not develop and charging a premium price for a sport that is mostly for recreation.  The problem with aiming to be at the top of the Zero Sum Pyramid is that the cups that are received there are largely empty.  The reason why sports and specifically soccer are so popular is that they can mirror and enhance the human condition.  Unfortunately many have fooled themselves into chasing some elusive prize while sacrificing most of the value that they aimed to get from the sport.  Although this process of empty cup chasing may be pervasive, it does not need to be.  We can go after more.

Breaking It Down:  Electrical signals and chemical reactions are all that we are looking for.  This is taking the human experience down to the smallest pieces but it will bring clarity to what we are doing.  The four major chemicals that cause good feelings or “happiness”.  

The “Selfish” chemicals can be produced without anyone else.

Endorphins – Their major purpose is to mask physical pain and are regularly released during physical exercise.  Soccer and most other physical exercises are a great source of endorphins.  Although endorphins are a great start, their production is only dependent upon the individual.  Go for a jog and the same endorphins get produced.  It’s a start but soccer is merely one endorphin producer.

Dopamine – This is the achievement chemical.  It is a reward system for moving closer to goals.  It is not particularly linked to physical activity but can be attributed to physical goals.  This can be a useful tool for progress but can be an extremely addictive chemical.  Dopamine “hits” can be caused by things such as completing a task or achieving a goal.  Unfortunately they can also be caused by getting a text or email message regardless of its importance.  In our modern culture, no one needs to go out of their way to develop a dopamine addiction.  It is everywhere.

The “Selfish” Chemicals can be dangerous if they are not kept in balance.  The “Community” chemicals are aimed at the survival of humans in a group setting.

Serotonin – This is the leadership chemical.  It produces feelings of pride and status.  Serotonin in the veins increases confidence of the person.  Pride and status were extremely important in a hierarchical society.  Desire to be acknowledged by the community helps to reinforce the actions that are in the best interest of the group.  This chemical helped to strengthen tribes because it biochemically rewarded the individual for putting forth effort in the interest of the common good.  The problem in the modern world is that status can be bought and manufactured.   It is however an essential ingredient to effective group living that humans have serotonin releases based on real pride.

Oxytocin – This is the chemical of love, trust and friendship.  There are many ways to get oxytocin.  Physical contact is one of the key releasers of oxytocin.  Acts of generosity also release oxytocin into the system and encourage more acts in kind.  Oxytocin inhibits addiction and boosts your immune system.  It is a gradual chemical that builds up over time due to the inherent relationship dynamic.  It is the chemical that is released during childbirth that makes mothers feel an overwhelming sense of bond with their newborn.  Although our society is interconnected like never before, the separation between us seems to be widening.

Good for the caveman but not the modern man.

Cortisol – It is the chemical of stress and anxiety.  This is the chemical of fight or flight.  It prepares the body for dangers that are threatening.  Although the release of cortisol into the system can be extremely useful in the short term, its long term use is devastating.  The side effects of cortisol release are paranoia about possible threats and inhibition of the immune system.  

Club Culture

Our present club culture is aimed at systematically creating better soccer machines through the help of the “Selfish” chemicals and Cortisol.  The system is ingrained throughout almost the entire country.  Teams are formed by annual or seasonal tryouts.  Clubs use names like “Elite”, “Select” and “Premier” in order to advertise status.  While competition is an integral part of soccer, the club culture is unbalanced in its approach toward the development of our young players (who are more importantly people).  In essence we’re trading our human equity to rent falsified prestige.

The present club model will create better soccer players over time.  The competitive cauldron that we have cast most of our players into will incrementally produce better soccer in the US.  While that may be an objective for the USSF and other agencies invested in player improvement, is better soccer without regard for other consequences truly the aim?  

From a biochemical standpoint, our present club model is relying principally on Endorphins, Dopamine and Cortisol in order to move soccer forward.  While this method will be effective in getting players to perform, it is not a fertile field in which to grow confidence, connection, empathy and trust.  When viewed from a national level through a soccer lens, these attributes are not particularly the recipe for success.  However the majority of our youth who are playing soccer today will not be part of a National Team or a Professional Academy.  They will play club soccer through the years of their youth and at some point their playing career will end.  Even the longest professional careers only last into the early forties.  So the competitive cauldron ends for everyone with the message, “you’re no longer good enough”.  Whether early or late the player becomes what we all are on some level, a member of a community.  Since they will live a majority of their life interacting with other people and not a ball, it is the interpersonal skills and self-realization that should take precedence in a majority of our clubs.  Rather than treating the vast majority of our youth as if they are heading to a storied career of individual glory, focus on the team dynamic and each player’s contribution to that collective.

Suggestions for change

  1. Recognize the level – Teams and clubs can be broken up many ways but in terms of competition: Elite, Competitive Recreation and Recreation.  The competitive cauldron has its place but should not be everyplace.  If a team or a club is truly “elite”, then they are competing at state or regional level or have a proven gateway to professional ranks.  Most teams/clubs are “Competitive Recreation”.  Recognizing this fact is a great opportunity for parents, players and coaches to embrace the best of what both worlds have to offer.  The moniker of “Recreation” almost has a negative connotation in most sport circles today but it is something that needs to be embraced again.  Playing for the joy of the game is not a bad thing.  
  2. Act appropriately within the level –  Elite clubs need to be pushing their players and re-evaluating their talent levels regularly.  The level of expectation is higher because the ultimate desired destination is also higher.  Most Elite clubs do not have a problem setting this higher expectation.  The issue is usually that a club is trying to keep Elite expectations without being Elite.  At Competitive Recreation clubs there can be high expectations but the long term growth of the person should supersede the short term desire for “success”.  Simple changes like holding tryouts every second or third year would allow players, coaches and parents a period of team building.  This long term view allows players and all others involved to develop both on and off the field.  Professional trainers are still an option to develop players soccer skills.  However as we head into a third or fourth generation of soccer players in this country, the knowledgeable parents will begin to make this less of the norm.  The Recreation level should continue to be fun with friends.  
  3. Remember what’s at stake – Often the famous line from Bill Shankly used by people to discuss the sport’s importance. “Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”   In terms of game results, I would disagree wholeheartedly with Mr. Shankly.  Game results are a moment in time that may be remembered or forgotten.  However in terms of societal impact, he is absolutely right.  This game has the ability to give and take life both literally and figuratively.  The passion for the sport has unfortunately taken life in several tragedies.  It has also given life by stopping violent conflicts in different parts of the world and giving a pathway to many poor children who would otherwise succumb to their impoverished beginnings.  In the US, the game is rarely a matter of life or death.  It can be a catalyst toward a better life.  Using the game as a vehicle toward better living involves a conscious recognition of short and long term impact of the game on the young person.  Pushing all of our youth into a “one size fits all” system of sport kills most of the inherent positives of participation.

The conversation does not end here.  The difficult thing is not recognizing a problem.  People see problems every day but generally wait for someone else to do something about it.  The answer is usually much closer to home.  Each individual needs to contribute to see the cultural shift that is needed in the beautiful game here in the land of the free and home of the brave.  There is a reason why “We The People” are the first three words of Constitution.  Change is brought by regular people, doing the right things consistently.


Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

Cheers To The Soccer Name Game!


It’s official!  The paperwork just came in from the state and my son’s name is officially Lionel Messi!  I fully anticipate that his goal total will skyrocket in the coming seasons.  If you’ve not screamed “You’re an idiot!” yet, you’ve at least thought it.  I felt stupid just typing it!  A name is not particularly an indicator of quality, it’s a way to differentiate one person from millions of other similar people.  This truth is so easy to realize when talking about a person’s talent.  Then why do so many people trap themselves into the soccer club name game?  Like soccer, the answer is simple but at the same time complex.  Perception helps us form our reality.

In college, I worked at a beer and wine store.  On the beer side of the store, I got very few questions.  Occasionally someone would ask about a new micro-brew but generally people knew what they were looking for.  The Coors guy would rarely change things up and would walk in grab a case, pay and walk out.  On the wine side of the store, there were much more questions and a posturing of perception.  If a wine was highlighted in the “Wine Spectator” magazine, we were likely to sell out of it especially if it was priced under $30.  Most of the people were looking for the popular wine, even if they had never tasted it and often it wasn’t even their favorite varietal.  They had been sold on a perception not their own reality.  Being seen as a person who knew about wine was much more important than getting what they wanted in a wine.

At the moment in the soccer world, we’re going through a similar perception economy.  Names are just a part of the equation that includes trainers, sponsors, equipment, etc.  The name is just the asset with no inherent value other than perception.  It’s a longstanding joke with a coach friend of mine that we are going to start a club with all of the standard soccer club cliches of quality.  My most recent version is “Select Elite Academy Soccer International Club Kickers” or S.E.A.S.I.C.K. for short.  I’m sure that the players of SEASICK would be bursting with pride in the fact that they were playing for an “elite academy”, though they might be neither.  Since they tried out, that would make it “select”.  Although they might be confused by the “international” tag but I’m sure we’d find an English or Dutch trainer to squelch that thought.  Finally I’m sure that they would have preferred to be an FC but let’s face it, you can’t fight the draw of a good acronym!  Again I’m being ridiculous but not inaccurate.

The youth soccer world is based heavily on perception but with more real consequences than my wine example.  This is not a mistake of serving chardonnay with steak (which is actually fine if that’s what you like).  It’s a mistake of hanging children’s self-worth on a false status.  It may not be prudent to invest a child’s one non-renewable resource (time) into a pursuit of athletic “excellence” rather than personal development.  Does an “elite” soccer player translate this time and financial commitment into love from his/her parents?  Do they have the tight bonds of friendship with their elite teammates that they have with kids from their school?  Are the elite coaches also elite role models of how to be a good person?  If these questions were all asked and well considered before the tryout, then stay the course.  However my fear is that many people have blinders on with a very narrow view of the course that they are putting their children on.  By age 25, most people’s playing careers are over but their lives are not yet close to half done.  Will memories of warm-up jackets embroidered with half true adjectives be enough to sustain them through their adult life?  Or are the actions, relationships and mentors of the individual the true creators of great memories?

Eventually the packaging fades away and the true substance of what’s been sold shines through.  Go in with an idea of what you really want and see past the packaging.  The world is filled with people who will sell you something for their own benefit rather than yours.   Not everyone is elite but anyone can receive the gifts that the game has to offer without a price tag.

Go play!


As usual Rocky has a good take on the subject.

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

An American Soccer Manifesto (Part 1)

lukesoccerSoccer in the United States is gaining undeniable momentum in American culture.  While the progress of the sport in this country has been slow, its impact is becoming more widespread.  Through the various parts of this “Manifesto”, I will plead a case for the reasons for the proliferation of the sport and the impacts on the country at large.  Physical, social, psychological and philosophical outcomes can be reaped through the more widespread acceptance of soccer as a national force.  It may be a difficult argument to the general public because as Tom Weir of USA Today wrote in 1993, “Hating soccer is more American that apple pie.”  While this sentiment may be changing, a deep dive into the facets of a transition is in order.


The history of the kicking game has been chronicled at length by others.  Therefore my historical narrative will not be about the development of the game in the country but rather a juxtaposition of our historically American sports’ positive impacts on the country at large.

Despite baseball being considered the “National Pass Time”, American football has largely been the dominant sport of the past century.  This is due in large part to the sport developing during the emergence of the US as a world power while also sharing the American ethos of progress.  Football (American Football)* served the country well in the 20th century as it ingrained ideals that were instrumental during the manufacturing age.  The ideals of teamwork, coordination and positional hierarchy ran deep within the factory system and football.  Plans and decisions were centralized to management and passed down for execution by the line.  Statistics are used to track progress, performance and predict the emergence of talent.  The school, industrial and sports models of the 20th century complimented each other in structure and values.  Therefore football, baseball and basketball became dominating forces in the sports landscape of the United States.  Their appeal was compounded because of the community component and inherent aspiration of the team.  Professional sports teams created a sense of belonging to cities or regions.  High schools fed players and students into colleges.  Colleges fed players into professional leagues and students into jobs.  The systems worked almost seamlessly for a long time.

Identity Crisis (My independent film about soccer’s place in the US)

Times Change

Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  While nostalgia may feel good and there may be good reason to long for times past, the present is the only place where we truly exist.  The past cannot be recreated.  While this may seem sad due to things that are perceived as “lost”, there are many gains that have come from that passage of time.  So where are we now?

factoryAs we progress even further into a new century and millennium, several of the rigid systems of the past are crumbling under the pressure of technology and the democratization of information.  The old systems are being replaced for the very same reasons that they thrived a century ago.  Cheap/efficient labor, mechanization, standardization and a consumer culture brought forth prosperity to the US.  Now, cheap labor is found elsewhere or replaced entirely by machines.  Standardizing of products has made many of them generic where cost and convenience become the most sought features rather than quality and craftsmanship.  The model of consumerism has left many bankrupt financially, depressed emotionally and weighed down physically.  The mantra “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” is the calling card of those primed for a fall to irrelevance or extinction.

The new economy of the United States is a connection economy that no longer depends on exclusively on commodity production but rather the unification of resources with opportunity.  Entrepreneurship is not a buzzword of the silicon valley.  It is an integral component of the new American economy that requires a more nimble approach to business.  Bigger is not particularly better.  Growth is not particularly the marker of success as people are often creating lifestyle businesses to balance work and life.

entreprenThe traditional American sports do not fit as effectively into this new economic paradigm.  The industrial model of tracking productivity in order to become more efficient in the name of progress does not hold.  The measure of a good worker in the new economy is not a mindless cog that produces more than the other cogs.  It requires a mixture of technical ability mixed with the emotional intelligence to make decisions based on varying factors.  In the traditional American sports, these decisions were made solely by the coach, quarterback or point guard.  Most other players were doing their assigned job as a part of an orchestrated unit.  Divergence from the rules of the system was not desirable.  The new economy needs more decision makers rather than rule followers.

This new system is more in line with the processes of soccer.  Eleven people working toward a common goal with principles in mind rather than plays.  Each individual must analyze what they see in front of them and decide what to do next.  Although there are statistics available in soccer, they do not particularly indicate good or poor performance.  The intricacies of the game are human.  There is a balance between pushing toward a goal while not overextending to the point of being exposed defensively.  While there is a coach with a certain amount of control, the players and their decisions are the key components to the performance of the team.

The individual has greater power to impact the world than ever before in history.  Our games, systems and education should be centered around the improvement of the decision making faculty while maintaining an empathetic compass.  Realizing how our individual decisions impact the rest of our team, community and world is a skill that needs to be developed in the generations to come.  Although soccer is implicitly a sport, there are components to its play that can have a greater societal impact.  This is not at the exclusion of the other sports but in addition to them.  The 20th century American ethos has a place in the amalgamation of our future as a nation.  It is through our diversity that much of our strength comes.

*From here on, I will refer to American Football as Football and International Football as soccer.  I’m sure this will upset someone somewhere but it is not my intention to please everyone but be as clear to as many people as possible.

Blogpost, self-reliance

Divorce Is Hard!

At the end of the first season of Ted Lasso, Rebecca reveals that she has been sabotaging Ted from the beginning. After that revelation, Ted says that he forgives her because “divorce is hard!” And it’s the truth. Rebecca’s reaction to her divorce was to destroy the one thing that her ex loved the most in the world. Ted’s reaction was to give space and let his ex go (with panic attacks spotted in there). The reactions to divorce can be very different but unless the people just did not care, then it’s hard. It’s such an odd thing because we all know the statistics, 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Yet people continually bet all that they are on the equivalent of a flip of the coin. If it is just cultural conditioning or the tax break, we should really reconsider.

As someone who recently got divorced, I completely agree with Ted. Divorce is hard! It has hurt me in ways that I never could have anticipated and made me doubt things that I believed in on a gravity level. The unraveling of the ball of twine that I am as a person has been most unsettling. Deciphering the difference between which twine is really me and which got placed there because of my marriage has made me wonder when I’ll just get to be me again because I refuse to throw something away simply due to association. If something has inherent value, I’d rather keep it. So reevaluation is a constant. The loss of some different relationships due to the breakup has also been difficult and unforeseen. And probably the most difficult thing to deal with recently has been the question of whether I even knew the person that I walked through life with for so long. All of these things and more have made divorce “hard”. Yet at this very moment, I sit here completely convinced that I will make another lifelong commitment to a woman in the future. What is that?

It’s not a need for division of labor. All of the chores, responsibilities and projects get done. They just get done at my pace and in my style. Nor is it a need for a new focal point in my life. There is more than enough to focus on without bringing that level of disruption. It’s not a security blanket to help me sleep at night, I’ve always slept pretty soundly regardless of location or company. I’m a decent cook and social life is not a problem. So why go back to that gamble?

Like so many things that are linked with the show Ted Lasso, it comes down to belief. I believe that the right relationship can be a force multiplier where 1+1 doesn’t equal 2. It is an equation that brings out the best version of each individual that leads to a product greater than the sum of the parts. Perhaps I’m a fool for believing in such things. I can accept that. Maybe a good dose of pessimism would save me some heartache or a possible broken heart. That may be true. But it feels more like a coward’s mindset toward living. Running away doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get hurt. It just guarantees that you’ll never know what was possible.

Divorce is hard! Unless you didn’t care, prepare to be broken. BUT that one experience is not the end of you. You could be the exact ingredients that someone else is looking for in order to “fill the gaps”. There’s not a perfect person out there but maybe there’s a person who is perfect for you. Believing in that seems like such a better idea than giving up because you don’t like the odds!

“Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasure.” -Rilke

Hard stuff is not always bad stuff!


Blogpost, self-reliance

The Stasis of Progress

Look at yourself, in a mirror or just what you can see. Now look again. No change right? Wrong. Just in that moment, thousands of cells died, new ones were formed and plenty of tiny electrical signals were sent. Things are changing all of the time. Whether or not we notice the change is often irrelevant because seeing change as it happens is usually impossible. Like the bamboo plants that are often referred to regarding patience, the progress is invisible. Our job is to see past the stasis.

Progress is not a matter of seeing in order to believe, believing in order to see. That may seem like (and may even be) nothing more than a semantic shift but that is how simple it is. Getting a few neurons going in a different direction makes the difference between giving up and stepping up! Quitting and gritting! Hoping and deciding! For most of the journey, the results are going to look the same. Like grass growing! Almost imperceptible. That’s not the point! The stasis is not the point. It is acting despite the stasis. Believing with an almost certainty that the elves are working their magic while the cobbler sleeps. The easiest thing in the world is getting disappointed by a lack of results. Our expectations are largely arbitrary. Even the things that we have hard scientific data on come with some variability. Human babies are born after nine months (give or take). Even their growth at the beginning is at the cellular level, largely imperceptible.

The stasis doesn’t matter! The willingness to persist in the face of it does. That can be a hard pill to swallow because in some instances, there is no bamboo plant growing. You’re just watering dirt. In most instances, that’s not the issue. It comes down to impatience. All of the rewards are there in the stasis but you can’t force them out into the open. They need to come in their own good time!

Believe it in order to see it!


Blogpost, self-reliance

Silos of Interest

“With a little love and some tenderness. We’ll walk upon the water. We’ll rise above the mess….” If you were in your teens or older in the 1990s, there’s a strong possibility that you could finish the lyric. It’s not a surprise because Hootie and the Blowfish songs were all over the radio in the 1990s. I distinctly recall trying to get away from Hootie and his friends by changing the station, not once, not twice but three times. Falling back into their grips again and again. It may have been annoying but even the annoyance created something for the people of that generation, common experience. The pervasive experience of culture gave basically everyone a common frame of reference. Now that culture has switched largely from macro to micro, there is less overlap of experience. Not everyone is annoyed by the same redundant song being played on the radio. However, this creates silos of interest that give rise to separation.

At face value this is not a horrible thing because micro culture creates individuality. However, we are a social species and our silos are creating separation. In no way am I suggesting that Hootie and the Blowfish are the key to happiness. Far from it! The common is experience is truly what is needed. After a long period of siloing, a pandemic and years of divisive politics; it seems as though we’re not able to connect as easily. There is a standoffishness that comes with interaction. As if every person is a possible threat to the silo because different people are just that DIFFERENT! They have their own ideas and that’s a threat to silo living. I have my phone, my friends and my Facebook feed, why would I need anything else? (sorry tick tockers and Instagramers, the alliteration was too perfect!)

I know that the silos aren’t going anywhere and nostalgia cannot fix what ails us. A recognition might be helpful though. The self-discipline to realize that we need to get outside of our silo from time to time. Find a person who lives in a different silo and check out what’s going on there. You don’t need to stay or even particularly like it because that’s not what macro culture was about. It wasn’t for everyone, everyone was just aware of it. Therefore even contrarian opinions could lead to fruitful discussion because we were accustomed to being outside of the silo and interacting with other people. It doesn’t take a ton of time, just a little intent.

Maybe we’ll find enough in common to break down the walls and allow others to “love you the best that” they can! Damnit Hootie!


Blogpost, self-reliance

Every Hand’s a Winner

The exact year is difficult to remember but I have the moment in mind. I was riding in my friend, Brian, father’s pickup truck the first time that I heard “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. It’s odd what memories stick with you but for some reason this one did. Perhaps, it’s the format of the song because it tells a story with a memorable chorus. Regardless of the why, it stuck despite my not being a gambler at all. I tend to shy away from betting because I don’t believe that I understand card games well enough to bend the odds in my favor. However, I see the gambling metaphor in life all the time and Kenny was right! “Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser!”

Despite my reluctance to gamble myself, it is obvious that poker (especially) is not a game of chance. It’s a skill game. The player matters more than the cards. With very few exceptions, the hand doesn’t get won when the cards are dealt. The player needs to assess what they are holding and decide how to intelligently play that hand against the opponents in front them. It’s so much more than the cards. An effective player can win with nothing and an ineffective player can lose with a great hand.

Each of us was dealt a winning hand from the beginning. We weren’t born a dung beetle! We were born a human being. There are major advantages that come with that initial deal. Regardless, that’s not enough! It takes a savvy player to continue to press that advantage as the hands continue throughout life. The base hand stays the same but the cards and other players keep on changing. No one wins every single time and in the game of life, things are so fluid that multiple people can win simultaneously. It’s a beautiful game that we are playing but it can be easy to get caught up in the cards that you are being dealt. I cannot say that the cards don’t matter at all but every hand is a winner.

So as you go out into your day, find a way to assemble the cards in front of you into a winning hand for you. We’re all playing an interconnected game but your scorecard is not the same as anyone else’s. You’re more than skilled enough to make today a winning hand or you’ll learn something that might help you win tomorrow. I don’t think that the best that we can hope for is to die in our sleep but that’s for another time.

Shuffle and deal!