When I grow up

avatar-3127928_640The little kid stood back from the small table in the corner of the dentist office, where he’d been playing with a couple of toy die-cast cars, and told his mom that he wanted to become a veterinarian when he grows up so that he could help his friend Petey’s dog. He told his mom that the dog, named Shadow, needed to have surgery on its back leg.

His mom patted him on the shoulder and told him that was nice to have a goal. He went back to playing and she went back to reading messages on her phone. A few minutes later, he told her that he changed his mind. He instead wanted to become a racecar driver so that he could drive fast. He would drive her everywhere they needed to go.

“And I would drive really, really, really fast Mommy,” he said, pronouncing “really” so that it sounded more like “weally.”

She again patted him on the back.


Continue reading “When I grow up”


The battle over the Oxford comma!

The English language is a frustrating friend.

She’ll wow you with great writing that reaches across the page and touches your soul. She’ll string together stunning phrase after stunning phrase that turns the mundane into something out-of-this-world and leaves you breathless.

And then you sit down to write and she’ll trick you into using “there” when you should use “they’re” or is it “their.” Another day, you’ll spend countless minutes going back and forth figuring out whether to use affect or effect, confusing you to the point where you decide to just choose another word. You go with “impact,” knowing that without “forcible contact” in the meaning, you’re using the word incorrectly. A third day, you write down “imminent” when you mean “eminent.”


English grammar and punctuation are a puzzle and I’ve been fooled too many times to count, falling in love with commas when I should be using semicolons; misspelling words that would be simple enough to spell if I just looked them up in the dictionary; and forgetting the simple rules that we learned as pint-sized elementary school kids.

Continue reading “The battle over the Oxford comma!”

A dinosaur goes back to school shopping in the age of Amazon

When I was getting ready to go off to college back when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, my mom and I went to our local mall to get a bed spread, shower tray, and new clothes, including several pairs of jeans. We made a day of it. We went shopping and then ate lunch at a pizza parlor located in the mall that we both liked.

I remember grabbing a slice and the enormity of the situation finally hitting me. I would be off on my own in a few days and I wouldn’t be coming home for a very long time. I was excited, but worried about how I would pay for everything and how I would survive on my own. My mother must have sensed my uncertainty and told me to do my best, everything would work out in the end.


Continue reading “A dinosaur goes back to school shopping in the age of Amazon”


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”


Taking a sick day

I had ambitious goals for the day. I was going to check off several key items from my Work To Do list. I turned off my alarm and got up out of bed. I made one tentative step in front of the other until I made it to the bathroom. I took one look in the bathroom mirror and nearly passed out.

I turned around and went right back to my bed. My to do list would have to wait. Everything would have to wait.

I’ve been sick the past few days with whatever bug is circulating. I have a sore throat, a croaky cough, a drippy nose, and a general fogginess that has cut my attention span to shorter than a ten-second Snapchat video.

To top off, I’m an absolute horrible patient.


Continue reading “Taking a sick day”


My wish for the future

I walked to my car searching for the right words to describe the celebration. My coworker couldn’t have been happier. He had a smile that spread from one side of his face to the other. I couldn’t blame him for beaming. After more than twenty-some years with my company, he was retiring. A large group of his friends and coworkers had gotten together to wish him well.

Two weeks later, I attended a second retirement celebration for another friend. We had worked together at another company a number of years ago. We had lost track of each of other when I had moved on, but had reconnected in recent years. The celebration this time around was a more intimate lunch to match his personality. The common denominator for both retirees: their smiles.

They couldn’t have been more content and relaxed. They both looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off their shoulders.


Continue reading “My wish for the future”


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”


Giving Father Time the heave-ho

My wife recently celebrated a big milestone birthday. Leading up to the big day, I noticed that she was feeling a bit self-aware about the milestone. The usual stuff, everyone complains about getting older:

  • She woke up one day worrying that the pain in her knee had gotten worse because she was a year older.
  • Another day she joked that over night her hair had gotten grayer.

To help celebrate the big day, I set up a small surprise party with a few friends and family members. I also tried to cheer her up on the day itself with a card and a few presents.

To me she looks as beautiful today as she did the day we met so many years ago. (Scratch that, she looks prettier.) The funny thing is that I celebrate the same birthday later this year and have had the same crazy thoughts about getting older.

I get up on the wrong side of the bed and instantly blame the gathering years. It doesn’t matter that I spent an extra 30 minutes at the gym the previous day and having slowly been increasing my mileage on the roads.  In my mind, I’m falling behind to the “younger me.”


Continue reading “Giving Father Time the heave-ho”


The year in Writing from the Heart: 2017

When I was new to the workforce, I wrote every day. I churned out copy faster than President Trump, love him or hate him, pushes out a new tweet. When my career took a few unexpected twists and turns, I wrote less, but still needed a creative outlet.

Fortunately, I got the idea for this blog. I created the blog three years ago to get back in the writing habit. I’ve come to love the immediate feedback. I need to make some improvements to my site to make it easier for others to find and read, but I still love the instant feedback.


Continue reading “The year in Writing from the Heart: 2017”


Finding a Christmas tree bargain

I put my hands in my pocket, stood up tall, and told the salesman to take or leave my final offer. I wasn’t going to go any higher.

My wife and our three kids were hunting for a Christmas tree and off to one side of the small farm, we found the perfect Douglas Fir that we all seemed to like. The salesman muttered something about having to talk with his father, but when he saw that I was already starting to open my car door to leave, he caved in.

“You know, we’ve been busy today, let’s make a deal,” he said. “Let me cut the bottom and get it bound and up on your car.”

Or so I wished. In my head, I stood my ground and made the salesman come to my terms.

In reality, the salesman gave us a price. My wife and I looked at each other with an “oh it’s a little steep look,” but we both wanted to get back home with the tree to get it up in our house and would have caved in right on the spot.


Continue reading “Finding a Christmas tree bargain”