Feast of Books in 2015

This is my bibliography of the last six months.  Some of these books were dessert while others were hearty main courses that filled the soul and that I imagine will be revisited time and again as they are added to my lifelong rereading list.

I started this reading adventure feast during the 10 weeks of a summer sabbatical and made it through #21.  #21-#32 were read after full-time teaching and coaching began in earnest in August.  How did I find the time?

Where does the time go? I do not regularly watch TV save for binge watching episodes of a couple of series. I exercise for at least an hour most days of the week.  I am working scheduled, disciplined time for writing into my daily routine.  Spending time with my wife and our family are regular occurrences that don’t happen by accident though that happens too :).  At the same time, I am quite comfortable with solitude and need big doses of it to feel alive.  Recently, I began posting my “handcrafted poetry” on this blog.

1) The Black Swan, N. N. Taleb

2) Antifragile, N.N. Taleb

3) What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars, Paul Moynihan

4) Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

5) The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt

6) Fooled by Randomness, N.N. Taleb

7) Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

8) Laughter in the Dark, Vladimir Nabokov

9) PNIN, Vladimir Nabokov

10) Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky

11) The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

12) Choke, Chuck Palahniuk

13) The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

14) Survivor, Chuck Palahniuk

15) RANT, Chuck Palahniuk

16) Martin Eden, Jack London

17) Diary, Chuck Palahniuk

18) Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov

19) Damned, Chuck Palahniuk

20) On the Move, Oliver Sacks

21) Dubliners, James Joyce

22) A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man, James Joyce

23) Ulysses, James Joyce

24) The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell

25) Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

26) Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut

27) Swann’s Way, Marcel Proust

28) Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

29) Bluebird, Kurt Vonnegut

30) The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann

31) While Mortals Sleep, Kurt Vonnegut

32) Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion

I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings! Cheers!

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New Years Resolutions in 5 Words

This trending hashtag on Twitter got me going this morning between sets at the gym during my last HIIT workout of the year so here they are (so far)…

1) Live more. Love more. Write.

2) Read more than 50 books.

3) Write 5o thank you notes.

4) 50 minutes of daily exercise.

5) Write 5o new poems.

6) Push pause for 50 sunsets.

7) Take more 50 minute naps.

8) Chill more…like our cat.

9) Laugh more often at myself.

10) Substitute “am doing” for “should”.

11) Substitute “am being” for “should”.

Love more. Live more. Laugh more. Read more. Write more. Be more.

Here be it resolved.

“Don’t be ‘a writer’.  Be writing.”-William Faulkner

 

 

Funny How Places Can Be

Good Morning! Day One of our vacation. We are back in our quiet place…the little Red Barn.

A nine hour drive became a twelve hour trip after minor car trouble slowed us in one of our favorite towns–Gainesville, FL. About Gainesville she said, ”it still fits like an old shoe”…Funny how places can be.

We arrived at 2:30 a.m.–about one hour before I usually awake on “work” days.

Awakened naturally without an alarm at 10:30 and was immediately struck with the quiet…Ah…the quiet…slowing down…breathing…leaves rustling…rain drops dropping, drip, drip, dripping.

Mountain Writing

Imagining the droplets rolling off the leaf, leaving the leaf and landing…thud…KERPLUNCK!…that wasn’t a drop dripping…an acorn displacing the wet, soiled leaves beneath him announcing his arrival to unsettle things for just a bit.

Birds chirp, chirp chirping announcing the arrival of another day in the mountains.

A hound hounding in the distance…

Greetings, welcome. Somehow she appeared like she did the first time we met…a sweet mountain pup with a sweet, warm unobtrusive “I’ll only come up to you if you invite me” welcome back to the mountains. There she was almost as soon as we stepped foot out of our car early this morning and there she was as I stepped outside into the fresh mountain essence awakening with my first cup of brew.

Mountain Pup
Quiet moves to tears this morning as slowing down breaks my emotions as weights I have been carrying lift off my soul and I’m immediately moved to put something down in words…something soulful, in my sternum or somewhere below creeping to my throat, swallowing, tightening, swallowing that I do not understand…beauty…love…gratitude…thankfulness…somehow a little closer to “good”…Funny how places can be.  Time for a walk…

Mountain Walk

 

Excuses

Excuses not to blog:

1) I’m not feeling inspired.

2) I’m too tired.

3) No one will read it.

4) It’s just not the right time.

5) I’m just not positive enough now that I have the time.

6) Everything I write right now will be negative.

7) I should be doing something else.

8) I don’t know who my audience is.

9) I don’t have my own web site.

10) No one will see it.

11) Who cares?

12) It’s selfish.

13) It’s narcissistic.

14) I should be doing something else.

15) It feels too good.

16) I should be doing something else.

17) I’m micro-blogging on Twitter. That counts.  Right?

18) I’m too tired.

19) It’s too noisy.

20) I need a new device.

21) I don’t have my own home office anymore.

22) I should be doing something else.

23) I need more “alone” time.

24) I’m just not “feelin’ it”.

25) Fill in the blank ________________.

I have just blogged.  It’s been a while.  I will continue.  No excuses.  Much love!

What is a “Vocational Careerist”?

Several friends lately have asked me about my Twitter bio and part of the former title of this blog.  What is a “vocational careerist”?

This idea comes from the path I have been on since I began pleading on my knees as a high school student who woke up at 4:45 each morning reading the Bible meditatively and praying, “Lord, show me the way.”  I’m a believer in the vocational path, dharma, the calling; and my diverse career experience reflects my journey on that path.

 Vocational Careerist

I’ve never been one to be defined or confined by my current occupation/job title and I’ve never liked the “cocktail party” question: “What do you do?”  After a 17+ year career in professional sales in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and commercial real estate; I began to get a lot closer to doing work that was “from the heart” and truer to my vocational calling when I started teaching at an inner-city high school and coaching Cross Country and Track & Field in 2009.  On January 1, 2014, the day I started this blog, my path continues to evolve.

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I tell my students that their mission is to uncover their talents and gifts, discover what they absolutely love to do, and find a way to make a living doing it!  Life is far too short to live for the weekend! For me, that sums up the life of a vocational careerist and the meaning that has evolved for me over the years.  How do you view vocational careering?

Coach and Jared

Cut Out to Move On

One of the hardest things to do is cut when it is time to cut.  Cut out to move on.  That’s what I did this week.  I took action based on deep thoughtful consideration and cut a significant Spring activity out of my daily working life for 2014.  It developed from a thought process that began when I re-read Mastery by George Leonard during the Thanksgiving break.  It comes on the heels of my mother’s game-changing stroke just after New Years Day and only a year after my father experienced a significantly disabling brain injury.

I have always said that turning an age is just a number.  I have pursued physical activity with the passion and vengeance of a man possessed over most of my life and especially the last 21 years of my career life.  I get up at 3:15 a.m. to follow a regimen that awes most when I describe it to them and has them asking what I do to stay in such great shape.  This can give one a sense of immortality and invincibility that is more characteristic of youth.

This past year when I turned 47 in late October, something was different; and that something different hasn’t left me.  I am now looking at the rest of my life through a finite lens more than I ever have before…looking at my own mortality and asking myself “What more do you want to accomplish before you die?”  “If you die tomorrow, would you be doing what you were born to do, created to do, meant to do, and love to do?”  (Now, that’s some serious s#*t, I know…and let me just say right here, right now that my capacity to laugh at myself hasn’t been lost in all this!)

I am in the process of creating a list of 50 projects that I want to complete before passing age 50…significant projects…life-changing projects for self and my sphere…Projects that require life-change to be accomplished.  Projects that will require RPD “Radical Personal Development”. (Thank you Mr. Tom Peters for the RPD term and New Years Day 2014 inspiration on Twitter!) Projects that are drafted from the vision out-lined by my open space goals.  I will write about them.  I will publicly speak about them.  I will “social media” about them.  And it is my hope that others might join me…

Wisdom From My Barber’s Chair

I’ve always cherished a good haircut. Well, I have for as long as I can remember.  I remember crying over the homemade cuts my mom produced in our garage while I sat on the washer.  The fourth grade photo evidence remains to remind me of the crooked bangs and the funky “side-burns” and the classic bowl cuts.  I remember how happy I was to finally graduate to the cuts of a family friend, a retired barber, who cut hair for friends and family in their own homes for a small charge or home-made baked goods.  I remember first paying for my own cuts at a professional stylist’s salon who perfected the perfect feathered look of the early 80’s.

It seems that now I tend to form a relationship with a barber after I have found a good one.  This comes from regular visits once every week to two weeks.  Two barbers that really stand out are Mr. Ted and Wesley, my current barber.

Barber Chair

Mr. Ted was my barber when we lived in Sarasota.  I faithfully visited Mr. Ted every Saturday morning and after our daughter, Jenna was born, my 27 month old son, J.L. visited with me.  I count these visits as quite formative for the young man and for our relationship.  Our Saturday mornings started with Dad (me) in Mr. Ted’s chair while J.L. sat up high in a vacant barber chair with the sports section in his hand.  Lively conversations would ensue with the elderly gents who frequented this shop.  J.L. began learning the art of conversation and respect for elders on these Saturday mornings.  Mr. Ted gave J.L. his first haircut, chopping off the golden curls that formed around his collar while his mom cried.

The haircut was only the beginning of our Saturday morning rituals. After a hair cut that included the mandatory hot lather, straight blade shave, J.L. and I would head out for breakfast at the local bagel shop and then to Barnes & Noble where we would spend hours perusing the shelves.  Our practice was for me to gather as many of the recent business reads and carry them over to the children’s section where I would scan them enjoying frequent interruptions from J.L. about the books that caught his eye.  We most always left B&N every Saturday with more than one book in hand…for him and me.

My current barber is Wesley who has his own shop.  I see him about every two weeks and spend a little more time in his chair now that I have let my No Shave November beard grow into a Decembeard.  Wesley has been cutting my hair for a number of years and we always have the most incredible conversations touching on so many topics of life.  Today, in his chair, we couldn’t stop laughing over stories shared from crazy childhoods and “Little Johnny” jokes.  Sometimes our conversations become philosophical and “life-enhancing”.   A recent conversation did just that.

Wesley often plays music from Puerto Rico where he grew up and I really enjoy the Latin rhythms.  I speak some Spanish and can understand some of the lyrics.  On this day, a special song, one of Wesley’s favorites came on that he explained was about a kiss…about a lover’s kiss…a romantic song.  Yeah, that’s right. Two “real guys” talking romance.

Wesley went on to tell me how he can’t believe how some guys, boyfriends and husbands won’t display their affection and love for their girlfriend or wives more often with a kiss.  We talked about how some guys think it is a sign of weakness to show emotional attachment.  He shared how he makes a conscious effort to kiss his girlfriend every time he sees her and every time he leaves her. The conversation resounded with me.

When I got home, I kissed my amazing wife, but more than that I made a new decision to show her affection more often and to be conscious of our first interactions during each day.  The greetings and the good-byes we often take for granted should be conscious moments during each day. She seems to like it :)!