Tagged: Courage

Breath In The Good, Breath Out The Bad

It’s been a week of family, friends, memories and love. 

Hard to believe it’s been a week since our Aunt passed. Time moves really slow and really fast simultaneously. 

Aunt Florine has us thoughtful and reflective. My initial tribute can be read here: Love, Love, Love…Love You More!

In recalling one of the many lessons Aunt Florine has imparted on the world, the wisdom of our Great Aunt Chili was evoked.

By the way, I think it was Plato who wrote something about passing twice. Something like, we pass twice, once when we stop breathing one once the last time someone thinks about or speaks our name. Something like that. 

It fills me with joy to write the name Aunt Chili. Talk about an incredible person and amazing woman. Aunt Chili walked this earth for a hundred and four and a half years. Spicy and uniquely Aunt Chili with every step!

Anyway, the lesson Aunt Chili passed along to Aunt Florine, that Aunt Florine then passed along to the rest of us is about breathing. 

Aunt Chili (and then Aunt Florine) said we should breath in the good and breath out the bad. 

In even more detail she said something like, we should breath in all the crisp, fresh, clean air we can. 

She said we should breath it in along with all the goodness we can think of. She said we should breath it in for as long as we can, and that we should fill our lungs with it. 

She said we should hold it in and let it move throughout our bodies. She said we should let it filter through the outer walls of our organs and flow through out blood. Something like that. 

Then (she said), we should let that crisp, fresh air release the good into our bodies and absorb anything bad we have floating around inside of us. 

She said we should let each particle of air latch on to any negative emotion, negative thought, confusion, and frustration.  She said we should let the bad cling to the breath we’ve brought in like dust to static. She said we should let as much bad collect on it before we expel it from our bodies. 

She said we should smile and feel calm, joyful and complete as we watch the bad dissipate and disappear. 

What’s more, she said we should do that as frequently as we can, and that we can do it whenever we want. 

Anyway, she said something like that. 

And why not? I can’t think of a reason not to believe breathing in the good and breathing out the bad is a good idea. What harm could it do? When I try it, every time I try it…it works. 

Try it now if you’d like. Try it, and really see it happening as you do. 

That’s the key. Visualize the good and visualize the bad. See the particles of air carrying all that stuff. In with the good and out with the bad.

It can’t be the first time you’ve heard someone give this advice. Our breath is so incredibly powerful if we let it be. 

Time moves so slow and so fast, simultaneously. How do you want to spend the moments you have? How are you going to spend those moments?

You can’t go back. You can’t do anything differently than what you’ve done. What you can do is make sure every moment counts. The next one, and the the one after that. One at a time. 

As long as we’re breathing, we can use our breath to enhance our lives. At least that’s what I heard.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks. 

Love, Love, Love…Love You More!

My wonderful, amazing, incredible, gorgeous, phenomenal, brilliant Aunt Florine passed on Friday morning. 

I last spoke with her on Wednesday. Per usual, she answered the phone, “Good morning, my wonderful, amazing, incredible, handsome, phenomenal, brilliant nephew Seth!”

Per usual, I responded, “Go on.”

Even though we’d played that back and forth a thousand times over the past several decades, once again, we laughed together.

My Aunt Florine laughs from her heart. A wonderful, amazing, incredible, gorgeous, phenomenal, brilliant laugh. As I write this reflection, I can hear it.

On Wednesday we talked about love. 

We talked about Israel and our prayers for peace; peace for our family, peace for our friends, and peace for all innocent people. 

When my Aunt Florine speaks you hear and you feel her words. She sees what she sees, she knows what she knows, she wants what she wants, and for the most part, she has always had the ablity to will her vision into reality. 

Hearing her talk about a vision of peace has me believing it will one day be true.

Hearing her tell me she loves me fills me with love. I can hear her telling me, even now. 

Yesterday we ate dinner with our cousins at my Aunt Florine’s house. Unlike every other time for the past almost fifty years of my life, she wasn’t at the table. 

This time, instead of being at the table, she was everywhere. In every hug and every tear, in every memory shared, and in every grief-stricken gaze. In every comforting smile. Everywhere. 

My children spent their time walking around the house, touching, feeling and thinking about every familiar thing. Their Aunt Florine is so intensely important to them.

Through his tears our 8 year-old leaned in to tell me how sad he was that he just thought of something he wanted to tell Aunt Florine, and now, he can’t tell her anything. 

I told him I understand that feeling and the heartache associate with it. Then, I told him I believe there is a way. 

I reminded him about something he and I have discussed many times. I believe people bound by love are bound for eternity. 

He leaned in further to sob into my shirt. Then, after restoring a bit, he went for a walk.

Aunt Florine’s house is filled with endless interesting things. I watched him walk off, pausing here and there, breathing in eight years of memories of his beloved great aunt. 

He eventually stopped, sat on a couch, and rested. I joined him after a short while. 

We sat together for a moment before he told me “something strange” had happened. 

He said that in his mind, he told aunt Florine he loves her, and that as he did an object came into view. He pointed to a picture frame no more than two feet in front of us on the coffee table. The words, “love you more” were etched into the frame.

That’s how Aunt Florine always responds when you tell her you love her.

“Love you more!”

He smiled. He said it was strange that he came to that spot, on that couch, in front of that frame. He said he didn’t notice it until just after he told her he loves her. 

He was transformed. He was now filled with lightness where there had been distinct heaviness only moments before. 

I suggested he was experiencing the connection we talked about, and that “strange” thing that happened might have actually been Aunt Florine telling him “love you more!” 

I said I believe it was. His smile widened. His Aunt Florine loves making him smile. 

Is it strange to feel bonded in love, even after a loved one has passed? Is it strange to see and hear messages of love in signs all around us?

Maybe the evidence of a continued connection is the same as the evidence that provides us with proof of a love bond in the first place. We feel it. Those feelings belong to us. Those feelings are our birth right. Human beings feel love.

I believe we can trust those feelings. I believe we should lean into those feelings. I believe those feelings are a gift to be nurtured and cherished. 

To the best of my knowledge, we can’t know for certain what happens to us from a spiritual, metaphysical standpoint when we pass. We can, however, know and trust what we feel.

I feel indelibly connected to my Aunt Florine. Possibly even more so than before. All I feel, and all I have felt from the moment I learned that she had passed is love. All I remember is love. It’s comforting. I see it as a gift.

My Aunt Florine is my mom’s sister. They have another sister named Sandy and their mother’s name is Ruth. 

Ruth (Nana) and Sandy both passed several years ago. Nana, Aunt Florine, Aunt Sandy and my mom are, by far, four of the most brilliant, strong, resilient, and loving people imaginable. My mom now carries the torch on behalf of all of them. It’s an intensely bright torch, to be sure. 

They are each formidable women who have impacted the lives of countless people in very positive ways.

My Nana filled rooms by simply stepping into them. You could not help but be drawn to her. She is a force. Funny, loving, and strong beyond measure. My Nana is with me every day.  

My Aunt Sandy was tremendously successful in business. Her presence as a loving daughter, sister, aunt and friend is magical and undeniable. She poured herself into everything and everyone. She is universally loved and well known for her civil rights efforts, specifically the impact she has made in the areas of access and equal rights for all. My aunt Sandy is with me every day.

My mom is a Ph.D…”Dr. Micki” (and “Dr. Mimi” to her grandkids). She’s an author, an international motivational speaker, and an inspirational life coach. Almost two years after having a massive stroke my mom continues to inspire us each day with her strength, her light-hearted wisdom, her sharp wit, her persistence, and her resilience. You can view her Ted Talk here: “Ageless Wisdom – Explore Your Untapped Potential by Dr. Micki Berg” and you can read her book here: “I Don’t Want To Be Anybody But Me: The Stories Of Women Who Experienced A Dramatic Shift From A Negative To Positive Self-Image (Workbook Included)”

My Aunt Florine is a captain of industry. Her contributions in the field of health and wellness have been nothing short of gargantuan. She has been an advisor to business and political leaders at all levels. She has mentored countess entrepreneurs and helped to develop businesses in all sectors as a member of boards and as a trusted thought partner. She has been an author and a speaker. She is a passionate philanthropist whose massively generous donations have been life affirming and life saving for countless people in need. 

Most importantly my Aunt Florine is a loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, great aunt, friend and partner. 

Throughout my life, my Aunt Florine has showered me with love and affection. She has unfailingly done the same for Lorelei and our kids. 

In recent years she’s supported my growth as a husband, a father, a son, a brother and a community leader by being genuine, open and vulnerable. She is an incredible role model. 

I count myself truly blessed to have her in my life. Through ups and downs she’s been real with me, helping me tread a path of triumphs and challenges with hope, optimism and faith.

“Something strange” has been happening to me since she passed. I’ve felt her presence more deeply. I’ve had visions of her energy spreading far and wide, continuing to contribute to the positive on an even grander scale. 

Maybe it’s a part of my grieving process. Maybe it’s a reassuring thought I’ve manufactured to save myself from the intense heartache I’m not quite ready to feel. 

On the other hand, maybe it’s true. 

Maybe our connection to those we’re bound in love with is eternal and indelible. 

Maybe a legacy of love as strong as my Aunt Florine’s becomes a limitless and unstoppable force, that spreads across the world planting seeds of peace and compassion wherever it goes. 

Yes…that. I believe that. That’s what I believe. 

My Aunt Florine signed her letters, “Love, Love, Love” and she insisted, “Love you more!” In response to expressions of love. 

With everything she’s done, it is overwhelmingly the love that defines her. From my perspective, love has always been her foundation and her reason. 

When Lorelei and I brought our kids to our Aunt Florine’s house every single day for more than a year during the pandemic and asked, “How are you?” and “Is there anything we can do for you?” she would simply say, “Yes…come back tomorrow!” If we didn’t show up in the morning, she would call and remind us to come in the afternoon. 

At the end of every phone conversation, when I say, “Let me know if you need anything,” she always says, “Just call again tomorrow.” Every single time. Every time, for as long as I remember, all she’s ever asked from me is that I know I’m loved, and that I know we love each other. 

I’m so grateful to be bound in love with my wonderful, amazing, incredible, gorgeous, phenomenal, brilliant Aunt Florine.

I’m supremely confident her impact and her energy continues now, that it will continue to live and thrive, that it’s only becoming stronger as it spreads exponentially outward from those who have been given the gift of her presence in their lives, and that it will keep spreading light and love wherever it goes.

May the name of Florine Mark be remembered for a blessing.

“Love, love, love…love you more!” – Florine Mark (my wonderful, amazing, incredible, gorgeous, phenomenal, brilliant Aunt Florine)

I Don’t Need Feech!

Sometimes our youngest learners teach us the most. 

I’ll never forget the kindergarten student who loved learning and being in class so much he didn’t want to leave for speech services. 

He loved being with his friends, he loved his teacher, he loved building with Legos and he loved playing with toys.

When he left for speech he was pulled away from those things, if only for a short time. 

He was too young to understand the value of speech services.

Some, early in the school year he told our wonderful speech pathologist, in no uncertain terms, “I don’t need feech!” 

I love it!

“I don’t need feech!”

It seems that maybe he did.

It reminds me of something parents, caregivers and educators do all the time. What do you tell yourself you don’t need, even when the need is glaring?

I don’t need to eat lunch today.

I don’t need to get eight hours of sleep.

I don’t need to connect with colleagues.

I don’t need to ask for help.

I don’t need to exercise today.

I don’t need to take time for myself.

I don’t need to stretch.

I don’t need to hydrate.

I don’t need to reflect. 

I don’t need…

The irony is that some many of the needs we deny ourselves are critical to wellbeing, our learning and our growth. Even when they take time, they enhance our self-concept, our relationships and our productivity.

We all know the data around self-love, self-compassion and self-care is exhaustive and definitive.

We are absolutely better when we make sure our needs our met. We’re better for ourselves, we’re better for one another, and we are better for the kids we serve. 

Next time you hear yourself insisting, “I don’t need feech!” – whatever “feech” is to you in that moment, make sure you find a way to resist the pull, and go get yourself some “feech!”

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

The 20 Minute Response Strategy to Positive Pathways


Monday is Yom Kippur. 

For Jewish people, Yom Kippur wraps up 10 days of reflection and repentance that begin on Rosh Hashanah. 

The words “Rosh Hashanah” translate into head of the year (signifying the start of a new lunar year in Judaism), and Yom Kippur translates to day of atonement. 

There’s a story about a famous historical rabbi who was known for writing a list of mistakes he made each day before he went to bed.

He would write the list and promise to do better the next day.

The thing is, he often repeated the same mistakes he promised to correct, even as soon as the very next day.

Noticing this, a friend asked, “Rabbi, why write the list and make the promise each day if you’re only going to break it?”

The rabbi answered, “Ahh, good question…but tonight when I write the list and make the promise, I’m actually going to mean it!”

None of us are strangers to human error. No matter what we believe, what we practice or how we live, we all make mistakes. 

The really cool thing about mistakes is that they help us learn.

Our capacity to grow is limitless. 

The only thing that can stop us from learning from our mistakes is ourselves. 

When we continue to try, even and especially in the face of repeated setbacks, we give ourselves endless opportunities to succeed. 

When we model grace, self-love and a growth mindset we give our kids the same.

One area in which I’m actively working to grow is in my response to people in situations where I find myself emotionally triggered.

It happens to the best of us. Something is said or done that strikes a nerve and we respond from a place of emotion rather than a place of thoughtfulness.

The other day I tried a thing the other day when I found myself in that very situation. It wasn’t rocket science but it was a thing.

I was triggered and ready to speak in frustrated tones. I also knew that isn’t ever my preference.

Whenever I respond in negative ways it tends to increase negativity and extend triggering situations. So I gave myself a minute to consider my response.

In that minute I realized I needed more time. I knew I was on the right path, slowing down, breathing deeply, considering what impact I could have on those around me, thinking about how to lift the situation rather than dragging it around (and possibly even down).

So, I set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes. I made an agreement with myself that I would not respond in a negative way for at least 20 minutes. If in 20 minutes I still thought a negative, frustrated response was appropriate, then so be it.

Guess what. I didn’t. 20 minutes was just enough time for me to remember how much better it feels to meet a triggering, potentially negative experience or interaction with positivity, patience and grace.

Is it reasonable to set a timer each time we get upset? Is it possible? Maybe not.

That said, I’ve spent plenty more time than 20 minutes draining energy from myself and others with negative self talk, frustrated tones and unproductive confrontation in some situations.

To be clear it’s mostly all good. I’m generally surrounded by people who lift me up and I spend most of my time in positive, loving and kind interactions with those people.

I am human, though. So I do make mistakes and I do look for ways to learn from them when I can. I’m going to keep trying the 20 minute response strategy to positive pathways when I have the opportunity. Even if I fail a bunch between succeeding.

It feels good, and interestingly, it seems to enhance my relationships, provide others with enhanced outcomes, and move me through challenges even more quickly than when I respond to triggering situations immediately.

Slow and steady might actually win the race.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

Do Fun Things. Enjoy Life.

There’s nothing to it. If you want to enjoy life, do fun things. There you go.

Well, maybe it’s not quite that simple. Life is jam packed with experiences. Some we choose. Some we don’t choose. Some we have control over. Some we don’t have control over.

Our eight year – old and I are reading “13 Things Strong Kids Do” by Amy Morin. He keeps reminding me that when we can’t control what happens we should work on controlling how we feel about it. That helps us set our own course in any kind of weather.

We were in Knoxville a few weeks ago. We were visiting our Nan and our Pop. It’s been almost four years since we were able take what had previously been an annual road trip. The recent pandemic shifted those plans. We love our Nan and our Pop. That shift was tough.

Now, we’re back at it and feeling great that we can be. It’s fun!

We could avoid the ten hour drive by sticking with FaceTime, phone calls and texts. We’d still be able to interact with Nan and Pop, but those kids of interactions aren’t nearly as fun or as meaningful, so we take the drive.

We laugh and play on the road. We share our time and enjoy keeping close company with each other.

When we’re in Knoxville we laugh and play with Nan and Pop. We make deep and lasting connections that we couldn’t make through screens. We have fun!

One of the great things about Tennessee is the temperate climate. Because of the blue skies and the hot sun we decided on a hotel with a pool on the outside.

Guess what…it rained every day we were there. We couldn’t control that.

Guess what else…the rain didn’t stop us.

Drizzly and cold, our crew didn’t’ waste any time not being in outside hotel pool. Day after cold, wet day we geared up and jumped in. It was fun! Possibly more fun than it would have been without the rain.

We played the color guessing dunk game, shark attack, swim race, and many more classic Berg kid pool games.

We made up a new game called, “Skip Flop” during which players try to skip their flip flops as many times as they can on the surface the pool without hitting their siblings (or their parents) in the face. Very few casualties occurred.

One of my favorite moments was when our almost 14 year – old jumped in on the first day and joyfully exclaimed, “I forgot how fun this is!”

It’s easy to skip trips to the pool wen you’re busy with other stuff, working on pursuing interests, or just too comfortable being dry. Turns out, when we push through the “busy” list, get our bathing suits on and jump in…it’s fun!

We spent hours in that pool. It was great.

I’ll alway remember the first trip back to Tennessee after the world got right side up again, and the important reminder to make room for fun, even when I’m too busy or too tired.

I understand how fortunate we are to have opportunities. I try hard to stay grateful in every moment of every day.

I know that many people don’t’ have access to road trips, hotel pools and even to Nan’s and Pop’s. I try not to take these things for granted.

My hope for all families and all individuals is that there are times when they can access people, things and activities they love…and that when they can, they choose to.

We can’t alway decide what’s in front of us. We can’t always avoid unanticipated challenges and roadblocks…the small, inconsequential ones or the big, mountain moving ones.

One of the things our fun-loving kids and a rainy week to Knoxville reminded me of is that if we work really hard to focus with open hearts and open minds we can sometimes control how we feel about whatever road we’re on, warts and all…and when we find enough calm and enough clarity we can sometimes find enough fun to truly enjoy the moments we have on this long and winding road.

Live. Love. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

Loss Learning…Powerful and Positive!

My heart was racing. My eyes were wide. The crowd around me was blurred. I could hear the shuffling and the chatter, but I was laser focused. 

Our eighth grader and our sixth grader were ready to play in their first tennis match of the season. This was our sixth grader’s first match ever. I can’t think of much I enjoy more than watching my kids engage in activities they’re passionate about. 

Watching them gets me into a flow. I don’t think it’s about vicarious living. I’m just so proud of them. No matter the outcome of any activity or event, I’m so proud. 

We have four. In this moment they’re thirteen, eleven, ten and eight years-old. I’m forty nine years-old, and while I still have goals, a wonderful career and an active personal, professional, spiritual, social and intellectual life, most of what I do is set on a foundation of my kids’ joy and well-being. 

I want them to be happy. I want them to achieve. I want them to know they’re loved. I want them to have courage, give themselves grace, learn how to balance their lives, feel calm, and find meaningful pathways through the triumphs and the challenges they have and will undoubtedly continue to face. 

The first set was underway. Our eight grader and his doubles partner were hitting every shot. Serves were on point, feet were shifting and shuffling, the ball was an obscured yellow blob rocketing back and forth with purpose. 

They stretched and they leapt. They pulled each other along with fist pumps and racket taps. They were steady, calm and patient, and they made quick work of it, excusing their opponents after a 6 – 2 win. 

It was as if I blacked out while they played then came to after the set. I was standing next to the mom of my kid’s partner. We exchanged smiles. A great result. After taping rackets and thanking his opponents, our kid looked up to where he knew we were watching with a wide grin and a thumbs up. I returned the gesture. One down and one to go. 

Our sixth grader, in his first match ever, was playing with an eight grade partner in a points match. It was a big deal and he was thrilled. 

That week we talked a lot about playing one point at a time. No matter the score, every point is a new point. Before long he and his partner found themselves down 4 – 1 in the set. I’ve seen many middle school tennis matches. This is typically where the opposing team wins two more games and runs away with it. Not here. Not this time.

The kids were hitting shots and moving fluidly around the court. They were simply off by a flick of the wrist here and a stretch of the arm there. As they crossed the court to switch sides at 4 – 1 our sixth grader flashed me the same kind of genuine and enthusiastic grin I got from our eight grader after his win. I knew in that moment he was nowhere near done, and that he was holding a winning attitude. I knew that no matter the outcome, this was a great experience for him. 

The guys won three more games, going down to their opponent 6 – 4. It was a great set! When he came off the courts he told me he felt shaken at 4 – 1 and realized that some deep breathing and mindfulness would help him get back in it. Even thought they didn’t take the set this time, he was beaming with pride at having won three more games after that trying moment. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome! Sometimes loss learning is just as good as winning.

Coach tells the boys they either win or they learn. There is no losing on this team. Our kids take it to heart and live that paradigm as a young athletes. It’s wonderful to watch. 

After the match, coached asked if anyone had anything to say. Our sixth grader was the only one to speak up. He said, “I just want to say, whether you won or learned today, I think everyone did a really good job!” 

That moment will stick with me forever. So important to remember. Wining is great. Learning is great. With a growth mindset and a positive attitude it’s all great! 

When we listen to our kids, let them guide, celebrate their efforts and support them in processing the unique paths they tread, we help them build resilience. 

Loss learning can be powerful and positive when we make it so!  

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

Let’s Never Allow Hate To Be Normalized Again

Today I chaperoned our 13 year-old’s Sunday school field trip to the Holocaust Museum. 

We gathered with the Rabbi to prep before leaving the synagogue. She came bearing food, as all good Rabbi’s do. A variety of tasty muffins helped set a foundation of comfort and a positive affects we took the moment to ground ourselves in contemplativeness (which I’m almost certain is a word).

The Rabbi asked us (adults and teens) to individually consider what it means to be Jewish today and throughout history. She told us there’s no right answer. She said each us would likely walk out of the museum with thoughts and feelings uniquely our own. 

She suggested we talk with one another, with fiends and family, that we ask questions and  that we take time to process. She urged us to be present and reflective. 

As we drove I asked asked our son what he knew about the Holocaust, what he hoped to learn and how he felt. He was thoughtful in his response. He let me know he was looking forward to learning more. I’m very proud of the young man he’s become. 

We didn’t talk much during the tour. Every so often he pointed to a picture or some other artifact, quietly and confidently letting me know about a realization he was having or an epiphany that had shifted his thinking. He was so mature and composed. 

I tried to front load him as we approached each exhibit. I check in regarding his comfort level multiple times. He maintained that he was fine and wanted got keep going, keep learning, and continue looking through this lens of his own history. 

Early propaganda, discrimination and hate, disbelief and confusion, policies of oppression, the ghettos, the uprisings, the many heroic “upstanders” who risked their lives to save the lives of others, the many who turned a blind eye, the parallels to so much tragedy still being perpetuated in our world today, the camps, and the chambers. This was a to contemplate; for both of us. We will undoubtedly be processing together for some time. 

Our tour ended in front of Ann Frank’s picture and story. A story she lived she wrote down when she was just about his age. 

In the short years she spent alive on this earth, Ann Frank somehow had the wisdom, insight and foresight to write of a chestnut tree outside her window, “From my favorite spot on the floor, I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver.”

We each have a unique vision of the world. A vision based on the complex amalgam of who we are, coupled with our lived experiences in any given moment. 

Ann Frank’s vision…the beautiful, complex and simple way in which she saw the world, a world that we literally crumbling in and around her…was her hope. It was her guide and her salvation. It was her enduring and critical message. 

She wrote, “What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again. I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains. Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

Michigan’s Holocaust Museum was gifted a sapling from the very tree that stood within sight of Ann Frank’s “favorite spot on the floor.” That sapling grows in the museum’s courtyard. It’s pictured above. 

Today, our son and I had a chance to look at that sapling. A living, connected artifact that had been looked at by Ann Frank. One that inspired her to the indelible outcomes she achieved.  

I stared. I couldn’t look away. An electric current ran through my body. I was viscerally aware that the unthinkable tragic events of the Holocaust, while deeply important to myself, my child and every Jew, connected to our individual and collective identities, were among a myriad of similarly tragic events that continue to plague our word. Not the least of which (and uncontrollable present in my mind in that moment) is the history of slavery in the United States and the western world.

One of our community members asked the Rabbi what we can do to make sure this never happens again. With a deep breath and a comforting smile she told offend that we must never allow hate to be normalized. She said while we can’t each move mountains, when we each take care of pebbles in this way, the world can change. 

So, next time you hear a discriminatory statement issued about a person with a disability, see a person being judged by the color of his skin, or witness someone suffering at the hands of others on the basis of her identity, do all you can to not let hate be normalized. 

Resist hate. Do it careful, compassionately and with grace. Do it with an open heart and an open mind. Remember, the beauty still remains. The beauty always remains. 

For our ancestors, for ourselves and for our children…for our history and for the future of our world, let’s never let hate be normalized again.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

I Fell Into A Dumpster (Nothing But Blue Skies)

It would be reasonable for someone to use the idea of falling into a dumpster as a metaphor for hitting rock bottom. I could see someone saying something like, “I fell into a dumpster” to address some sort of loss, misgiving, or feeling of defeat.

Well, I actually fell into a dumpster. On Friday afternoon, in fact. 

As unique an experience as it seemed at the time, I did it. I actually fell into a dumpster. Then, as I was lying on my back at the bottom of said dumpster, nestled in and around multiple bags of noxious trash, breathing through my mouth to no avail, and the only thought I could muster was, “I just fell into a dumpster…I actually just fell into a dumpster.”

It was how you might be imagining it. It was the result of a brilliant idea, of which I have many that I must admit result in less than fortunate outcomes. I do lot’s of learning (or not, some might say). To my credit, I would still speculate that it had at least a 75% chance of working out better than it did. 

You see, I was throwing a mat away. It was a really big mat. It was a mat so big, it didn’t fit into the dumpster. Picture it, I fashioned this really big, dusty and damaged old mat into a giant Little Debbie’s Swiss Cake Roll replica, dragged it to the dumpster and hulked it in like a humongous, floppy javelin. I issued a flawless tough guy grunt as I released the mat. Super proud of myself. Very satisfying.

But…it didn’t fit. It was sticking out a good several feet on a diagonal from the other end of the dumpster. 

Ironically, as my brilliant idea hatched it was accompanied by the knowledge that Lorelei would have, in no uncertain terms, denied me the opportunity to put this plan into action. 

She would have insisted that I didn’t step on the center of that half sticking out of a dumpster mat. 

She would have told me it would not have folded cleanly, giving me the ability to easily step over the mat and out of the dumpster after generating a precise fit with my engineering prowess.  

She would have confidently outlined impending disaster without blinking her eyes. She would have let me know that instead, I would end up on my back at the bottom of the dumpster. 

Ha. Lorelei doesn’t know everything about everything. Besides, Lorelei wasn’t there. It was just me, my thoughtful analysis of the situation, and my imminent glory. Also, Lorelei doesn’t have to know about every great idea that pops into my mind. Frankly, I don’t think she could handle it. 

Well, as you (and Lorelei) now know, I ended up on my back at the bottom of the dumpster. Hindsight. Maybe she makes some good points occasionally. 

Regardless, after I rested for a moment I took a picture. For posterity. It’s the picture above.

I climbed out fo the dumpster through the sliding door on the side, brushed myself off to the best of my ability and went inside to take my lumps. My colleagues and I had a few good laughs over it. 

One of the teachers I work with said, “You know what, Seth…when you’re lying at the bottom of a dumpster, looking up on a day like today, all you can see are blue skies.” 

I think he would have patted me on the shoulder but thought better of it because of the stench. 

Anyway, he was right. We face many challenges. Each of us has our share. The more we do so with a positive affect, an optimistic viewpoint and grounding in the beauty of every moment, the better off we may be.

Sure, I fell into a dumpster. When I did, all I could see was bright, blue skies. 

Through the triumphs and the challenges, life’s pretty darn good…and I’m filled with awe and gratitude. 

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. 

The Amazing Human Being – Truly a Miracle!

I was walking with our eight year-old the other day. We were downtown in Detroit. It was sunny. Winter was almost behind us. It was one of those Michigan moment when the coats come off and you’re compelled to be outside.

Loads of people were taking advantage of the beautiful day. I remembered these moment from my childhood. Walking around the city, feeling the connectivity and the rush of energy these streets so effortlessly provide.

He looked at me and asked, “Hey Daddy?”

I answered, “Yes, Sir?”

He said, “I was thinking…”

I replied, “Uh Huh.”

He continued, “It’s amazing that human beings exists and that we are what we are.”

I dug in, ”What do you mean?”

With thoughtful enthusiasm he told me all about it. Turns out, the kid views our existence as miraculous. He made some sense, too.

Albert Einstein said, “Live your life as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is a miracle.”

I think the latter might be the way.

Our eight year-old is a thinker. He’s incredibly reflective. This isn’t the first time he’s opened my eyes. Every little thing. It is pretty incredible.

Why, then, is it so difficult for me to be grateful all the time?

I do have gratitude. It’s just that it tends to show up around majestic, magnificent moments. Beautiful sunsets, the birth of my children, huge, life changing events like when the Spartans make the Sweet Sixteen, and so on. Great moments indeed, but at closer examination…aren’t all moments miraculous?

What about every time we interact with one another? What if every time one human being had an interaction with another human being they both considered it miraculous? What if each time we connect we do so with intentionally, savoring the moments we get to spend together, listening with open-minded curiosity, and seeking to learn?

April is Autism Awareness month.

As the principal of a school with a categorical AIA program I’m keenly aware of the incredible impact children diagnosed with Autism can have on the learning, growth and strengthening of a community. As we move into April I think we can take the very important lesson our youngest taught me to heart.

Human beings are Amazing. Tall human beings, short human beings, musical human beings, athletic human beings, neurodivergent human beings, neurotypical human beings, human being who are shy, human beings who are outgoing, and every human being in between.

This seems like a really good time to be thoughtful and intentional about living our lives as if everything is a miracle. In fact, maybe it’s always a good time!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks!

The Write Thing

All four of our kids had the flu a few weeks ago. When they finally got back to school it was difficult. Our oldest struggled in the morning. He dragged himself out of bed and wrestled with the emotions associated with returning after multiple sick days. He did put one foot in front of the other, reluctantly making it happen. 

After school he reflectively told us he realized something during the day. He realized the challenge wasn’t school itself (something he actually enjoys), but rather the notion of returning to something he’d stepped away from. Change is challenging. Change is loss. Change is…well, change. 

It’s incredible to see him mature. We learn lessons from our kids al the time. This time, it felt like we were learning from a thoughtful young man. Of course, we are well aware that change is difficult, the learning is in reframing it through a new leans. Being able to share this experience with our teenager and engage in conversation about it caused me to think about where I struggle with transitions. 

I love to write, yet I haven’t written a post on this blog for several months. It’s been tough even to put my fingers on the keyboard again. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it has something to do with my separation rom the process. Each day is another day away. Change. Transition. Returning to the practice. Ironically, as I type in this moment it feels as though I haven’t left.

I know that the write thing is the right thing for me. 

I write because it’s a part of my reflective process. Writing is a form of mindfulness for me, and in turn, I believe it enhances my well-being. 

This platform is meant to be a place I can embed myself in learning and growth, and it’s also meant to be an archive, specifically for my kids. 

Thinking about getting back to the practice of writing and publishing on this blog was challenging enough that it took me months to do. Turns out, doing it is easy and fulfilling. Something to remember before, during and after transitions in general. One foot in front of the other. Things generally tend to be ok when we move forward with courage, resolve and positive attitudes. 

Live. Love. Learn. Lead. Thanks.