Getting goose bumps

When I step away from my desk at work, I look out of a corner window, out over a walking trail, picnic tables, and small pond that serves as a calming oasis in a maze of corporate buildings and local roads.


I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been taking more and more advantage of the opportunity to look out over the pond. I’ve been stepping away from my desk and whatever deadline I’m working on, to look out over and reflect on the nature in front of me. I’ve been taken away by the surrounding Sycamore trees and the pond’s restful qualities.

My time spent in thought hasn’t been a complete waste. I’ve been caught up in recent weeks by a small flock of Canadian Geese. They swim across the pond and lazily forage and graze the grass along the shore. They’ll take a zig-zag route, with no rhyme or reason, across the pond and small plot of grass. They seem to have not a care in the world.


Continue reading “Getting goose bumps”


In Memoriam: Happy on the inside

The DJ had the music turned up so loud that I couldn’t hear my college fraternity brother talk. We filled up our cups with more beer and went upstairs to the second-floor landing to watch out over the rest of the party-goers. While still loud, I could hear a little better what my friend was telling me.

He was a senior getting ready to graduate; I was a freshman trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. In my mind, he had it altogether. He was decisive, I was unsure of myself. He was smart and had strong speaking skills. I stuttered and stammered and sometimes had trouble expressing myself. He was weeks away from graduation and a clear path to riches and success, I still had 90-plus credits and was three years away from even thinking about graduation.


Continue reading “In Memoriam: Happy on the inside”

When God steps in . . .

I came home to find my wife and three kids sitting at the kitchen table, legs dangling over their chairs. My oldest son had a huge grin on his face. I noticed first the smile and then later the large bandage on his arm.

I figured there must be a story to tell and, boy did they have one. The kids were watching television in our basement rec room and my son, who was seven or eight at the time, was leaning heavily on a glass coffee table that sat in a corner of the room.

doctor-563428_640My wife was on the phone on hold, waiting to talk to a “live person” with our health insurance carrier about a bill we had gotten in the mail. The next thing my wife heard was a crashing sound. The glass top of the coffee table had given away and my son went crashing through to the bottom. (For the record, we had lectured him incessantly about sitting on the table.)

My wife ran to the basement to find our son seated in the middle of the coffee table remains with blood running up and down his arm. She feared the worst. She cleaned him up the best she could, wrapped his arm in dish towels and whatever else she could find in the kitchen, carried him to the car, and raced to the emergency room.

Push the story ahead twenty minutes and what could have been a tragedy turned into just a scratch. He was fine, none the worse for wear. When I came home and saw everyone happy, I cringed thinking of what could have happened.

Continue reading “When God steps in . . .”


Waiting for the restlessness to pass

The driver in the blue Honda in front of me braked suddenly without warning. The sun had just started to go down in the horizon and the reddish-amber sky matched the Honda’s red brake lights. Fortunately, I had been paying attention and was able to break easily to avoid an accident.

Traffic on the four lanes of highway going into Washington, D.C. and the four leaving the city were crazy. I had driven the highway countless times over the past six months since I first started dating my girlfriend (who would later become my wife). However, on this day, I felt like the traffic was especially hectic, in part because I was driving my new car.

My old Renault, which one of my brother’s had graciously handed down to me, had seen me through thick and thin until it had nothing left to give and had finally given way. After a late night of work, it had left me stranded me.

I needed a car to get to my first real job as a newspaper reporter. The job didn’t pay a ton so I had to be careful in how much I paid for a car. I poured over car advertisement after car advertisement, went back and forth with a saleswoman at a local car dealership, and purchased my first new car, a Geo Storm. (Before you laugh, I got a great deal on it.)

I drove off the lot happier and prouder than I had ever been in my life. I was making something of myself (or so I thought).


Continue reading “Waiting for the restlessness to pass”


Going out for a long walk: My dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail

The guy in the picture has sun-drenched hair and a scraggly beard, but looks fit. His excitement and elation jump off the computer screen. He holds up his arms in celebration, a hiking pole dangles down from his arms. The woman in the picture has her arms in the air too and an even bigger smile.


The two took the photo after they completed the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200-mile National Scenic Trail that extends from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. The two started their hike in late March and ended six months later in early September. Like most thru-hikers, they walked during the day — averaging about 8-10 miles in the early going and then 15-20 once they got stronger — and slept in a tent or one of the 250 shelter sites spaced about a day’s hike apart along the trail. They kept a regular schedule and every seven days or so, spent a night in a hotel or hostel in one of the communities near the trail, where they rested and loaded up on provisions.

Since the trail was completed in the 1930s, more than 12,000 people have hiked the full-length of the trail, known simply as the A.T. Historically, only about 10% to 15% of those who make the attempt report to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that they completed it. The husband and wife were two of the most recent hikers to accomplish the task this past fall.


Continue reading “Going out for a long walk: My dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail”


Fighting writer’s block

The words and ideas come fast and furious. I can’t get them down on the laptop screen fast enough. They spill out of me bucket after bucket, more defined than the one before. I string two phrases together and two more replace them around the bend. I finish with one blog and before I know it I’m stockpiled with two more.

When this happens, life is good. I can’t help but smile. I mean really smile from the inside out. When I’m in this zone, little can get me off the track. A horrendously long commute home in the snow, no problem. A higher-than-normal heating bill, “hey that’s the way it goes sometimes.” I’m laid back and I feel good about life.


Continue reading “Fighting writer’s block”


Trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve

I couldn’t sleep. I turned to one side, then back to the other. I pulled my pillow over my head and clinched my eyes tight hoping that both would miraculously put me to sleep. I tried to count sheep, but nothing seemed to help put me into a blissful sleep.

I was tired, but I just couldn’t fall asleep. Despite my best efforts, I heard every little movement in the house. I’d hear a distant ruffling sound and wonder if the noise was one of Santa’s reindeers up on the roof — my guess was that Comet or Blitzen were acting-up —or simply a bush scratching against the house?

I’d count the minutes until I could race to the living room to see what Santa Claus brought my family and me. Christmas eve night is a sleepless night for many kids.

When I was very young, however, I remember one Christmas Eve when I swear I spent much, if not all of the night, tossing and turning. I didn’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning.


Continue reading “Trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve”


The Ghost of Christmas Past

A number of years ago, my eleven-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son barged into my wife and my bedroom and bounced on top of our bed. Right behind them, their three-year-old brother waddled into the room too. His brother and sister reached down from their perch on the bed, grabbed him by the shoulders, and lifted him up.

I looked up in my half-awake state to see three little monkeys giggling and staring back at me. My wife and I looked at each other and pulled ourselves up to sitting positions. “Did he come, did he come?” my daughter asked. Right on cue, the two boys screamed out too, “Yea, did he come?”

They, of course, wanted to know if Santa Claus with his big red bag of goodies had come to our house and couldn’t wait to run downstairs to open their presents. They first had to convince my wife and I to wake up.

I grabbed the clock and let out a groan. The numbers on the clock told me that it was a little before 5 a.m. I considered telling the kids to go back to bed, but I doubted the move would work. My wife must have been thinking the same thing. She poked me in the stomach and told me to get moving.


Continue reading “The Ghost of Christmas Past”


A grateful heart 

Several stores where I live seemed to start earlier this year with the Christmas decorations. I felt like they were ready for Christmas in August. When I turn on the television, I hit every Christmas show on the air. (My wife and her love of sappy Christmas romances on the Hallmark Channel could have something to do with that.) And then everywhere I’ve turned the past two weeks I’ve stumbled across advertisements for my town’s upcoming Christmas festival.

While I love the original Christmas story, the Nativity Story, I must admit that I have a special place in my heart for Thanksgiving. It lacks the commercial glamour of Christmas, but what it lacks in pizazz, it makes up in heart-felt moments.


Continue reading “A grateful heart “


This year I’m done!

Every year in November and December, I complain about the work involved in putting together the annual calendar that my wife and I give out as a Christmas gift to family members. I’ll say, “that’s it, I’m done. I’m never going to do this again.” I mean what I say and deservedly so, since it takes a ton of work to organize and create, but then a year passes and I can’t wait to get started again.

I typically fill the calendar with key birthdays, anniversaries, and special events — everything from my parents in-law wedding anniversary, my niece turning 12, to the football schedule for my favorite college team —  and then load it up with photos from the past twelve months.

day-planner-828611_640 (1)

It takes a ton of work and then when I have it together it takes a small fortune to get it printed and bound. Hence my threats about throwing in the towel. “Oh, no one’s going to look at it anyway,” I’ll tell my wife.

She calms me down and tells me to keep at it.

Continue reading “This year I’m done!”