A year of writing from the heart

penWhen I sit down to work on a blog or any piece of writing, I start out with a plan to get me from Point A to Point B. Like any map, it helps get to me to where I’m going and provides a sense of where I’m headed and even rest areas along the way to stop and stretch my legs.

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

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Tis the season

There’s something about Christmas. Like the song “Silver Bells” goes “strings of street lights, even stoplights, blink a bright red and green” and I find myself with a spring in my step and hopeful for the new year. 

Yes, we’re all too familiar with reality of the season. We’ve all experienced people bullying each other and fighting over parking places and shopping carts. There’s fighting and bloodshed here and abroad.

But simple acts of kindness still exist. Love still exists. You routinely see people passing along hard-earned dollars to needy organizations and trying to make a difference.

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A special night: Through Mary’s eyes

Joseph and Mary faced incredible challenges to give birth to the baby Jesus. In celebrating this joyous time of the year and our search for that perfect gift for our friends and loved ones, we sometimes forget about those struggles.

Here’s a piece I wrote last year. I consider it my simple attempt to put the focus on what’s important, to turn my back on the commercialism of the season, and to say thank you. I hope you enjoy.

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My difficult day: life & death up close

I’m not sure what put me over the edge. My first thought was two sad stories I saw on my local news on a terminally ill teenager and a woman fighting breast cancer.

It could have been the realization that my children are getting older. They’re no longer little kids, running around the house. In a few years, we’re going to have a tougher and tougher time getting everyone together at the same time for the holidays.

In addition, I’ve been putting in a ton of hours in my job. I have a major project coming due in a few months and my work-life balance has certainly been tilted too much in one direction. It could have been the Christmas lights or even the picture a friend of mine sent me of him and his newborn baby.

I had a million thoughts racing through my head, but nothing prepared me for the news I got later in the day.

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Who put me in charge of these kids?

My son placed his report card on the table underneath a pile of papers, routine, run-of-the-mill stuff that you find each day in your kid’s backpack. I think he hoped that the report card would skip our attention and disappear in a pile of minutia, never to be seen or discussed again.

His disappearing magic act worked. 

My wife and I completely forgot that report cards were coming home that night. It worked another night and another night.

Finally four days later, we mentioned that we were surprised our son’s teacher didn’t say anything about report cards being late. When we questioned him, he stuttered and stammered and came clean that he had put the report card on the table.

Busted.

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Lost in a world full of small talk

I’m awestruck by my wife.

We’ll walk into a room together. It could be a room full of friends and family or full of strangers. I’ll go to hang up our coats, to the restroom, or simply turn my back for a minute and I’ll return to find her in the middle of a large group of people deep in conversation.

The topic of conversation could be the most recent presidential election, how late our son’s school bus driver is every day, or even the winner of last year’s Super Bowl. It doesn’t matter. In short, she’s a people person. She shrugs it off, but in reality she loves chit-chatting and talking with people.

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Stern parent to trusted mentor

When our daughter was young and regularly wore pink, she would sit at our dining room table, feet not even big enough to touch the ground, and I would sit at my make-believe throne. I would harangue my daughter to eat her breakfast, go to school, do her homework, clean her room, etc., etc.

I would bellow out to do this and do that. I wasn’t trying to be mean, I was just trying to help her and give her the direction she needed. King Brian was in full command. In my mind at least, I wore a crown of jewels and commanded on high.

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A mother’s pain

When I saw the news last week right before Thanksgiving that six children were killed and many other seriously injured in a bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I immediately thought back to the mother I met a number of years ago who lost her daughter in a similar accident.

I’m struck by the pain that such an accident causes. Here one minute, gone the next. Life and death are always like that. We’re guaranteed nothing, forget about the next breath or even the next day. However, death seems all-the-more unpredictable and cruel when it comes to children. You want to raise your fist and cry out: “Pick on someone your own size.”

If only life worked that way.

In any event, here’ s the blog I wrote on the mother earlier this year:

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