Saturday, December 19, 2009


PensamentImage by Sergi Monsegur via Flickr

Life guides us to the place where we can make the greatest impact ... the place where we are most effective. Interestingly, we don't necessarily know where that is at any given moment in time. What I have recognized is that when I look at my personal and professional trajectory - it seems to be moving always in the same general direction ... whether by choice or by circumstance.
It's important to find that quiet place and to take the time to step back, without agendas or expectations, and to just observe the course of one's life. Accept it as necessary to grow, learn, become, and be ... living a life in harmony with all that surrounds us.
Change starts with a harmonious announcement ... the symphony teaches us that, flights of birds, the sunrise and sunsets, blossoming flowers ... all of the wonders of life ... they demonstrate how beauty erupts in concert with its environment.

My place, our place, is to develop a sense of becoming, accepting the nuances and guidance of our environment, and to announce our self, through action, in harmony with our surroundings. We can all become that clarion call, inspiring others to join us ... I believe we can hear it each day and that it moves us to our place of effective and genuinely joyful living.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Andrew Revkin was in town today speaking on the question, "9 Billion people + 1 Earth = ?"
It is the essential question that he addresses on his Blog "Dot Earth," and I believe an important one ... maybe the quintessential question of our time.

His ideas point to how the success of any answer addressing global population growth is dependent on the broader cooperation of every stakeholder in the proposition.

China cannot succeed without Europe, and the US, and So America, and others. The developed world cannot adequately address the problem of global warming and eradicating poverty, unilaterally.

The solution will take the efforts and best thinking of all parties and will require consensus and collaboration.

From that broader premise flows the local application ... Oregon's problems are solved only through broad consensus, collaboration, risk-sharing and accountability. Government alone cannot create the economic opportunity needed to bring us out of this recession - nor can the entirety of the burden be borne solely by the private sector, equity or institutional finance. It will take the knowledge and collaborative application of solutions that are born of discussion, of mutually beneficial agreements, and of mutual risk-sharing.

Al Gore states that it is a question of political will ... until our elected officials look to the long range solution, and decouple that solution from short term gains, will we make any progress. I know that Umpqua Bank is wrestling with this issue. How do we create alternative forms of agreement between public, private, and institutional sources of financing that are prudent in approach, limit the downside risk, and spur economic growth and development, both in terms of jobs and in terms of opportunity for the communities in which we live? The answer is one of recognizing the connectedness of our people and those institutions which rely on those people to thrive.

Research, Academia, Finance, Government, Service, and Manufacturing all have the same goal. Strengthening the foundation of talent and of production that will keep our economy growing. It is time to enlist the input of all stakeholders and to do so regularly ... with the singular focus of creating economic opportunity, strengthening educational programs, and sharing in what works and what has proven to be problematic.

And so I challenge each of us to reach out to those of similar and differing opinions to have an open conversation about our path through the current economic difficulties. What role and responsibility will each of us accept in our path forward? What will our commitment be to each other for our mutual benefit? We can take the long view and grow together ... we must. In so doing, we will insure our future place in the forefront of growth and prosperity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Holding on

What do we hold on to? Family, friends, old loves, hurts, success, failure, money, notoriety, our self and how we want to be, are, were? In these times of constant change, attachments are weak at best, how things have always been, and how they are in the moment, often have little in common. So what do we do? What can we do to live and thrive in the world as it is - constantly changing, fluid, and uncertain?
I find myself observing more and more. To be aware of the ever changing landscape of my life and the business community is more than a full time job. Within the observing, there are seams of opportunity - like eddies within a strong current. My ability to create lies in how easily I slip into those seams and use its gentle flow to move in the direction of where I want to go. It is in that un-resistant environment that I create.
Incremental progress towards the larger good ... that is where opportunity lies. And so, I let go of my desire to make broad leaps and bold moves, and I recognize that in the lesser effort of letting go and moving in concert with that fleeting eb, against the heavy current of skepticism and doubt, I can change little aspects of life. And in so doing change in concert with it.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Our place in this world ... in a sense our aspect of the world through the lens of our experience and beliefs ... is a microcosm of the world itself, and it is the totality of the world as it exists.

Put simply - I and my community are mutually dependent, and not only that, we are one. I used to think that I could exist apart from the world ... When I was younger, my youth pastor used to tell me that we live in the world, but are not of the world ... "In it, not of it." Christians are separate, better than, saved. If there is a downfall to most organized religion, it is the thought that once a person is "Saved or Converted" they become new, different, distinct, and separate. In all respects, that is a fallacy.
We cannot exist separately from our environment, our community, our family, or our self. It is that isolation that becomes the slippery slope to thinking that we can act selfishly, that we are alone, and is the beginning of all illness, both personal and environmental.
Our society needs to relearn the meaning of integrity and use it as a universal aspect of our existence - we are never apart from; we are. We exist in concert with everything, and everyone. I hope that the environmental movement will inspire the general populace and our elected and chosen leaders to remember one simple fact ... apart from anything, we are nothing.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, July 17, 2009

Safe Harbor

The wonder of life is our opportunity to create and re-create. Outside of ourselves, within ourselves, through ourselves ... we create. Elizabeth Gilbert in her book "Eat, Pray, Love," recalls how she decided to think in only positive and loving ways, of herself and of others ... her mind was a safe harbor - a refuge from all of the uncertainty of life. I so admire her willingness to put that thought out there. We are our own safe harbor - sheltered from the winds of uncertainty and the rising tide of doubt. We believe, than act, and in so doing move the world incrementally towards a higher purpose and being.

Although today I had my moments of sorrow and regret ... I am becoming each day more in awe of the wondrous journey that this life is for me ... and laugh out loud at the riddle of its meaning. I am safe harbor, calm, and a beautiful part of all that is.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome the weather

These are amazing times. Amazing is one of those words that can be used to describe unbelievably good, or unbelievably bad: unbelievable is another one. Anyways, regardless of whether times are good, bad or somewhere in between - I am always taken by how the world around us is interpreted through our lens of expectations, hopes, fears, and past experiences.

Sometimes, I find myself running through a vast dialogue of point / counter-point on a topic of conversation that never occurs. It almost sounds a bit looney, really. We are all human, intelligent, and we learn. Through experience, and the learning that results, we are able to predict outcomes ... and there is nothing wrong with that. I would take it one step deeper to say that it is not really a question of right and wrong. It is more a question of comfort and discomfort, or of harmony and dischord.

I have been trying the following exercise ... prediction and effect, and then the next effect, and then the next effect - following that prediction / effect sequence to its final outcome. Each time I find that the final outcome is not really all that bad ... and if I take the time to look for the opportunities within each effect and outcome, then they are there in amazing numbers.

I would posit the each outcome has either a desired effect and known impact, or it has an unexpected effect and unknown impact. Either way, there are opportunities available. So our attitude towards what we predict to happen has everything to do with our attitude towards opportunities ... do we welcome them, or are we trying to keep our heads down and "ride out the storm?"

I am realizing that I really enjoy the weather - yesterday's thunder and lightning was amazing in both its speed and its intensity - and then it was gone, leaving that clean, fresh, ozone laden air that I love here in Oregon.

So, welcome the storm, look with unbiased and open eyes at each moment and find the beauty, grace, joy, and challenge in it. I like to say that we don't board the roller-coaster ride to fall asleep - he board to experience the joy of momentum, of gravity, and of weightlessness - how much greater are the experiences in life. It is a great ride, don't you think?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Full Life ... Renewed.

We live life with the expectation that our relationships should be guided by some over arching principal ... I agree with that view. What principal shoud that be ... honesty, integrity?  If I listen to my father and mother, it is forgiveness.  When I am open to possibility, it is acceptance.  When I am clear in my goals and needs, it is awareness. My Christian faith counsels service.  I have seen countless examples of those who live by each of these... And still face difficulties larger than they are able to overcome... So what is it that moves one to blend in measure ebbing and flowing with the moment and momentum of life?  Maybe Love. As trite as that may sound, it may just be the one common thread of community with one and many. 
The Bible describes it this way:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  [love is everlasting]. (1Corinthians, 13:4-8)

When I find myself seeking ... From fear of some personal failing, or want, I ask myself which part of this am I missing ... Am I self seeking?  Am I feeling jealous or resentful of all that has been placed before me to overcome?  Do I trust?  Am I hopeful, or am I tired and feeling defeated... We all fall into these places of doubt and of acting in ways less than our true created nature.  God, I pray ... Lead me through your tempering to become stronger, softer, more open and accepting more than I am today; less judgmental, less proud.  Clear my mind and heart of all that has come before so that I can bring more to the next one who finds a light in me worth investigating.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ecological Banking

Ecology is the study of the natural environment. It goes to reason then that Eco-banking should be banking that takes into consideration the natural environment in how financial services are offered to businesses and individuals who operate within the natural environment.
So how would a bank change the products and services it offers in order to benefit the local ecology? That is a good question. The reason that is a good question is because as bankers we have always looked to improve and increase the ROI / ROE value to our shareholders and our depositors first. By doing this, we preserve the integrity of the bank and provide a safe place to store funds while preserving the financial soundness of the institution. Seems to be the way to do business now and into the future.
Eco-banking asks us to consider additional criteria in our business dealings. How do the services we provide help to preserve and grow the communities in which we are entrusted with our customer's hard earned money? Can we do this any better than we are now? I think we can. Communities are similar to farms. They require fertile soil, attention to the weather, discerning seed activities, and careful nurturing of the resulting growth. Banking services and bankers take on a complimentary role to the farmer - they are the tools in which these activities can be accomplished more efficiently.
There are various methods - each with intrinsic strengths and weaknesses. Some would say that the best banks are those that nurture the mature plantings - they deal with existing businesses and support the continued growth and expansion of those businesses. In my opinion, and ecology oriented bank considers the entire system in its dealings; from start-ups and home-based endeavors to soundly established going concerns.
Each stage in the cycle requires specific care and attention. Attention to soil conditions prompts us to consider public policy and how we might influence our local representatives to take action which promote growth in our communities.
Seed activities involve micro-lending and the growth of the venture capital sector, while also promoting skills development and education of the local single-person service provider to help them avoid common business pitfalls and to accomplish controlled growth and sound fiscal management. As those seedling businesses begin their growth, banks can provide continued education in best business practices, and counsel regarding the broader economy and pending storms and opportunities. Small business lending and treasury services can provide both useful tools and objective oversight of trends and ratios within the growing seedling business. As established businesses expand - providing seed opportunities to the broader Eco-system, while supporting supplier businesses with capital needed to grow as well - Mutuality becomes increasingly important. Finally, at the end of the business life-cycle, an Eco-banker can help with succession planning and help to insure the continuance of the business, thereby promoting the growth of the larger community.
We live in dependent systems and rely on the health and success of the broader business, personal, and natural environments in order to remain resilient and vital. I believe all of us benefit from a vital and growing local and regional economy - no to mention the grander vision of the nation and world. If we can always look outside our small piece of the larger picture, and recognize the numerous ways we can help to create a healthier system, we all benefit from the small efforts of each one of us. Eco-banking, the notion of looking to the greater ecological landscapes around us and endeavoring to promote, sustain and grow that environment, provides a way to accomplish this very noble goal.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Letting go

Been approaching life a bit different lately ... letting go of expectations and desires for specific outcomes and finding much more joy in the present. A co-worker asked me today what my preference would be for the department of one that I currently head up. After thinking about the question, I responded that the best outcome, in my opinion for the bank would be for the department to be absorbed as part of the corporate culture - meaning there would be a consideration of environmental issues in all that we do as a bank. But that would mean that my position would no longer be necessary - unless they kept me on as a content expert or knowledge officer... which at this bank would be unlikely.
The best outcome for me professionally would be to grow a division around environmental lending initiatives. But then that would turn me into a manager, limiting my public contact and making my focus more on reports than on business development or outreach. I don't have much interest in reports.
So, in total, the preferred outcome would be for me to become expendable ... the follow on question was, "so, are you okay with that?" My response ... sure ... I am not overly tied to either outcome ... just enjoying what I am doing today and working on growing the philosophy and approach within the bank and out into the community. The experience and visibility are both good for me from a resume perspective. My hope is that I will be able to leverage this time into international travel. I think I am starting to get it ... Buddhists call this compassionate objectivity ... feeling without taking possession. I like that message.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, April 10, 2009

Down time

It has been a while since I wrote ... hope all is well with you.

There must by cycles that we are all subject to ... or maybe I am bipolar. Whichever the case, today was a day that I chose to hide more than seek. I don't know why these changes come or from where. Some days, I can talk to anyone about anything - it seems. Today was a day to step away from all of that. I am not particularly impressed with that decision. I don't know exactly why either.
I had lunch with a friend, bought some flowers for a couple others - just random acts of kindness to let them know I am thinking of them and that I appreciate them. And I am fine with all of that ... I just feel a little out of balance.
Tried singing Willy Wonka ... "if you want to see paradise, simply look around and view it ... you can change the world, there's nothing to it." That helped a bit. Writing helps a bit.
Walked into a social situation with tons of people - all connected to green building, design, or project management ... and felt like I needed to get out of there. Like social anxiety ... and I am not particularly like that. I am a little tired ... have been digging up the past a bit - accepting it as it comes into view - but wondering how it all fits together.
The fact that the universe is a perfect machine does not always translate into knowing where I am at any given moment. Maybe it is a lack of landmarks - that this is all new terrain. There is uncertainty in that picture - but it does not need to be uncomfortable ... it can be wondrous and exciting and interesting and mind expanding. It should be - it is. Let it go ... accept what is and enjoy it. Buy it some flowers.
I feel a little better now.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Listening and trusting

No one is perfect ... I am surely not. I am becoming more aware and more conscious in how I choose to communicate. Old habits weaken slowly ... because they serve a purpose. They keep us "in control" due to the predictability of their effect.
In the book, "The Art of Racing in the Rain," the main character quotes a famous race car driver as saying that in the rain, we loose the predictability of how the car will handle and become reactive. In life, the same thing happens when we are faced with unfamiliar circumstance. One of the ways a driver will compensate is to pre-emptively create a controllable situation - pitch the rear end out around a turn and then control the slide. Because the slide is consciously begun, the corrective action is also well known and can be applied in controlled ways. The driver is never reacting, the driver is acting, and then correcting, predictably.
With my son, I am trying to get there. Consciously acting, listening and counselling with love, and with a calm tone. I have ceased raising my voice. He can tell I am frustrated by his decisions ... but at 18, they are his decisions to make.
Again, I come back to the thought that all of this is necessary for him, and for me, to grow through and to accept as perfect. I am acting in ways that have intergrity to my beliefs and benefit the world around me. The path is what it is ... Although I am uncertain as to its' final destination, I believe it will prove to be a wondrous trip.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Careful words

I have a book in me ... I just know it. :)

Tuesday brought my son home at 2:30 am. The good news, he came home in his own car - I didn't have to pick him up at juvenile detention. The other good news ... I don't sleep when he is out late and so the night was a short one. The tertiary good news ... I was moderating a panel discussion at 7am that morning. So on 3 hours sleep, and under the influence of significant amounts of B12 and caffeine, I began my day.
The panel discussion was addressing the gap between building a great building - energy efficient, healthy, lots of sunlight - and finding a banker who recognizes something other than the financial performance of the building. Daily Journal of Commerce was there taking notes. The conversation went really well ... conclusions all pointing towards taking the extra time and effort to consider how the "healthy" aspects of a project translate into better financial returns for a variety of reasons ... then it happened. The B12 and caffeine wore off. Out of my mouth comes the following, "As a banker, I don't care about how clean the air is or how many people show up to work each day ... what matters to me is how your cool LEED Silver, Gold, Platinum, Living Building performs differently than a traditional building built to code. Show me how your building performs better - lower expenses, lower maintenance costs - and how that generates higher Net Operating Income." :-)
The fact of the matter is that I do care, but I was being intellectually lazy in making my point - The human aspects of the sustainability movement are the drivers of change - In order to support the benefits intrinsic in LEED projects, we need to carefully define and defend how the characteristics of a LEED building contribute to behavioral change in the occupants and therefore add value. I know this ... Creating a healthy environment benefits all parties in various ways. Triple bottom line - People, Place, Profit. I didn't make that point in my statement - but it was a great sound bite ... and so was quoted in the DJC and attributed to me. Dan Weldon, Vice President, Eco-banking Manager, LEED AP, Traditional Asshole Banker. Oh man :)... (laughing at self and at life generally). This is what keeps life fun. Maybe I will have the opportunity to clarify ... maybe not. It is out there in the ether now. And I move on. This message needs to be clear - it takes a community of dedicated, intelligent people to solve complex problems. Linguistics - the translation of one language to another - gets a bit convoluted at times. We need to find alternative paths that are not presently there - life is like that.
I enjoy the opportunity to learn this in so many different and vital ways. It all adds to the richness of the journey. I am building new and unique pathways of reasoning in my brain. Making connections that were not there previously. Through those connections, I will see things which were previously hidden from me. That is the beauty of life and learning. I so enjoy being a student.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, March 27, 2009

What good may come

I was listening the the classical music station today while driving home from work. I like classical music sometimes ... it seems to give space for me to drive, to experience the world around me, and to listen. Pop and rock tend to fill my brain so that I don't think - I only feel. Both have their time and place for me.
Anyways, during this particular segment of the program, they were interviewing a group that will be playing at Reed College Saturday night - I am sorry to have to miss it. They play a Spanish classical "Andalusian" style of music - The Oud, a violin, and a guitar - the group is call Al Andalus.

DATE & TIME: March 28th 2009 7:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. Portland, OR 97202, Reed College Events
TICKET HOTLINE: 1-800-838-3006
(A) $25.00 (B) $20.00 (C) Students $10.00 (ID). Tickets are also available at the door.

Tarik and Julia Banzi - the interview was with Julia Banzi. She was telling the story of how they were scheduled to play in Los Angeles and that when they arrived, the promoter told them that they had expected a quartet - not a duet. They needed to find 2 more participants to play a concert scheduled within the week. When asked if they viewed this as a dilemma, Julia responded "I thought what a great thing to happen - this will be wonderful for us!" The interviewer added, "it is great that you had such a positive attitude toward such a difficult situation and thought that something good would come of it." Julia responded ... "something good always does."

I cheered aloud in my car YES ... "something good always does." I have my challenges in life - they keep life interesting and vital. Sometimes I am tired, and choose to close my eyes and ears. Sometimes I choose to delay or act lazy. I don't have to. I am recognizing more that it is my openness to accept what is and to listen and respond with love and empathy that allows me to see. And the good comes - "it always does."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Life as I see it

When it is all said and done, we do choose our life. We choose how we view every situation; how we hear every statement; how we read every sentence ... we choose to be accepting or rejecting.
I was thinking back today about something I didn't know at the time ... and learned much later in life. Straight out of High School, I applied to Stanford University. I never heard whether I had been accepted or not. I also applied to Columbia - got a partial Scholarship to play football. Was accepted to Dartmouth, and Cornell. I knew all of that, though. I learned about a year ago that I had been accepted to Stanford ... 27 years after the fact. So I started thinking about that ... How fun Stanford wold have been. I wondered what my life would have been like. Would I have gone on to be a Doctor? Would I have met the guys who started Google? Would I be a Google-millionaire? So many possibilities. And then, I smiled to myself, knowing that the fiction that was running through my mind was just that ... Fiction.
It is the same thing I find myself doing at other times about other things ... what is she or he thinking? What are their motivations, their needs, their wants, their agenda? The answers may be insightful, based upon observation, and may be accurate - but they are also compiled through the lens of my personal experience, and therefore fiction.
I have lived my lives based upon this fiction ... I have had to in some degree. I have lived the experiences I have to become who I am now. And now, I am learning to delay my creative tendencies ... my fiction writing and living abilities.
Could it be that the world, the universe, is a perfect system? How would my life change if I accepted each moment as the best possible reality of that moment. The universe would not change ... my life would not necessarily change. My enjoyment of being has surely changed. It is an internal shift - a shift of perspective.
Maybe the world does become a better place when I accept it as such. Maybe my acceptance affects those around me in positive ways, and therefore creates a shift in my environment, which changes the world. I don't know that to be true ... I suspect it to be so. It is not really for me to decide or claim one way or the other. I do know that I love the life I have and the moments that I experience as I live it. I accept it for what it is and take my steps forward, or sideways, with confidence that my life is grand, and I am experiencing its' expansion through a renewed vision to see a larger and more intricate picture. Wow ... isn't that the point of living? Yes, it is. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Life comes at us ... does it?

We are not passive in our actions day to day. We take each step - involuntarily, we breathe each breath. Our heart beats. Ours is an active life - a purposeful life. To say that life comes at us is to relieve ourselves of our part in this journey.
In my life, I felt most hopeless when I had given the control of my life over to another or over to chance and entropy. In each instance, it was a choice I made ... to drive the boat or to allow the boat to drive itself. If no one is driving and the boat hits a rock, it is not the boat's fault.
My son is learning this lesson ... and I am as well. I have been inconsistently steering the boat - we have wrestled over directions - I have given him guidance based upon my experience and allowed him to clip the shore. The ship is still water tight, but it will take some extra effort, and some time specifically focused on repairs, to right the boat.
As we make those repairs, we learn what it takes to fix something that is damaged. Ours has not always been the closest of relationships. I am blessed to have this opportunity to make some repairs in that regard.
I believe that all that happens in this life serves the ultimate purpose for our being - our existence.
To digress a bit - imagine if we would take the active choice allegory and expand it ... what if we CHOSE our life prior to being born? The over-achievers would choose the more difficult path to test their ability to overcome. The under-achievers, or those who were just tired would choose the easier options - wealth, luxury, intelligence, self-assurance. In this regard, I take joy in my difficulties - I welcome the toil and see how it is making me stronger, bringing me closer to all that is God. I know that in all, and through all, I am growing, expanding, becoming.
So I take the next step, purposefully, turn the rudder, and move in the direction unknown - with an attitude of wonder and anticipation for what is sure to come so clearly into view.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making good

Some nights I feel more like writing, tonight I am writing anyways. A recurring theme with me is to assume the worst, and to be surprised when the best happens. I have been certain of the best at times, and then when everything unexpectedly changes, I recognize that as something less than the best ... I have decided to change that about myself. It is a common trait that runs in the family. It doesn't make it right, just common - and common is rarely best.
I had a meeting today with a very important customer - in many ways they define my role at Umpqua Bank and were a good portion of the impetus for Umpqua to enter into the environmental financing field; that and Obama's recurring call for energy independence, echoed by the Governor and the Mayor. My customer and the bank have an agreement of a shared focus on energy projects. They are graded by their ability to show that they are supporting those projects, we want to make loans that add to our bottom line, as well as that support our care for the local community and the environment ... recognizing me as a banker, the priorities are pretty obvious. Regardless, it is admirable to do well while going good - so we persist.
The meeting was to discuss the program's performance to date and to look for ways to improve. What I assumed would be a gripe session, clearly from the start was an acknowledgment of the difficulties of business in the current environment and a collaborative effort to agree on ways to improve where we can - in all ways a very productive meeting. Not the meeting I was expecting. I walked away shaking my head in semi-disbelief. I know that we are executing the deliverables well, charging to market with guns blazing, and seeing some small but measureably positive results. I did not think that they would view it the same way. Why is that? Why is it that my first inclination is to think that whatever is being done is not quite as good as what could be done?
I must remind myself to clean my mental lenses before entering into a meeting, a discussion, a new setting, and look with available faculties ... open ears to intently listen, open eyes to read body language and non-verbals, an open mind to consider what is being said and to creatively approach the project with a loving heart.
We make our own good - with whatever is at hand. Words to remember and consider often.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

50 years

My parents, Ben and JoAnne Weldon, celebrated their 50th anniversary last night.
We had a surprise party for them at my house. We invited 30 friends - I am sure more would have come if they had known of the celebration - we kept it at 30 du to room. Ben and Jo are that kind of people ... unassuming and very giving. I like to think it runs in the family.
As all of their friends arrived at the house, it was as if the party arrived with them ... everyone was talking - making new friends. I didn't know very many of these people. But they were all very warm and friendly. Mom and dad were running a bit late so I gave them a call to tell them to hurry up - the ruse was that we were having a party for my son Zach who just recently enlisted in the Air Force. So, when mom and dad drove into the driveway, they started to get the impression that maybe this was a bigger party than was originally represented. 20 cars in the driveway ... as they walked through the front door - strobe lights from the cameras ... but still there were only 4 people in the entryway - everyone else was very quiet in the kitchen / family room. My house does not have a sight line from the front door to the kitchen - so they had to walk through the foyer and into the family room - there they met all of their friends. It was a great thing to see.
For people who just don't celebrate personal stuff - birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc. - to give them a real celebration of 50 years of marriage. Truly a fabulous event.
As the evening wound down - I asked my dad the secret of lasting 50 years - he is not an old guy - not yet 70. They were married very young and only after a 6 month courtship - his answer was certain ... forgiveness, both outgoing and inbound. Life is perfect - we are not. We make our own difficulties and live with those memories. Being forgiven for our faults and selfish actions helps us to grow through them - personally and together.
As I look back, I see how my parents have changed - letting go of their desired outcomes and accepting what comes. They keep their opinions, but allow others theirs as well. They have forgiven others, found personal peace, and above all - continue to support their friends and family through whatever means are available to them.
50 years is a testament to a life and marriage built on learning and faith that all will come to good. May they live another life of happiness and peace, and demonstrating to others how to do the same.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A new place .... that feels like an old place ... but different

The past comes roaring to meet me ... often. Less these days, but still it comes like an old friend who has worn out their welcome. You know the guy - nice most of the time, funny, playful, but undependable and dishonest - full of potential but tragically flawed and self-destructive. That is my past. I've come to terms with it, grown through it, overcome my self-destructive self. The memories linger - they are tied to every heartbreaking, poorly ended, lacking closure relationship I have ever had. Many were brought upon by my self ... that same self-destructive self that told me that I would never be good enough, smart enough, able to finish, close, or deliver on promises made in earnest.
And so, out of habit, and an ended relationship - he comes unannounced through the front door, into my house ... and I have a choice to make. This time, I listened to each word, each claim, each fault explained ... and respectfully told him he was full of shit.
I had some help - some encouragement in the process. Someone turned on a light and I could see that this old place ... the grey and mud-colored carpet, wood walls, and box beams ... wasn't my old place. It just felt like it was. It was a bit dark for a time, but just needed the drapes to be opened, the windows un-shuttered, the cobwebs and dust brushed off.
Through that bit of effort - I find this is not such a bad place - it actually has a lot of character. My perspective has changed ... blink, breathe, relax ...Look with new eyes at this place and see the opportunities to grow, improve, renew.
I like this new place, it's not perfect, but it has potential.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've been in a relationship for the last month and have been feeling pretty good about it. She is a good person, present, thoughtful. We had a talk tonight about where we are in life. Both of us are in really good places, and different places. Mine is not to try to place her. Mine is to clearly understand my place. Tonight was the opportunity to think about that. We talked about where I am at.
How do we define our place in life - based upon the present or the past? It is probably best to use both as measure. In all things we describe ourselves both by way of similarity and of difference. In unfamiliar territory - often it is through what we are not that we closer to what we are. My life has not been easy, but then admittedly there are harder rows, less forgiving. I thank God for giving me the tools I have needed to temper - to become durable - to be able to bend without breaking.
Still, this is a new place for me - so I describe my new place via its opposite. Who have I been, how have I changed? Who am I now ... through the process of describing who I have been, I get closer to who I am, with honesty. In short, by airing my laundry, I am better able to see that what remains is clean, dry, wearable. Now, describe what it is about those vestiges that can be called good - that is where our actions come into the picture - not what I have done in the past, as it does not control my future - who I am today and those daily convictions and thoughts and actions that define in concrete terms who I really am. The definition of integrity is being consistent - judged by myself and my intentions to be aligned with my actions and values - alignment between values and actions.
At 45 years old, I am reminded the road to peace is through integrity.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A standard of happiness

I traveled down to Phoenix, AZ with my mother on Saturday to attend the funeral of a family friend today - Saturday. Paul Giele was just a price of a guy ... so much laughter, even at his funeral. As a testament to his character, after struggling with Parkinson's disease for 8-10 years, he donated his body to science. His remembrance service was held in the Sun City church that he attended with his wife. His son, a very close friend of mine from high school was there. Funny that after 15 years, we still acted as if we just lived down the street from each other. Old friendships never do die.
I thought about the lives that my friend and I have lived - we have both had our significant detours orbiting around the same things ... too much partying and too slow to grow up. It occurred to me that it is not the detour that is the tragic aspect of growing up - it is that we so often choose to try to make it back alone - being too embarrassed or ashamed to surround ourselves with those who love us - our friends and family. That solitary journey back is such a long one without the benefit of a compass, or the experience of those who have traveled a similar path and found their way through the church, a spiritual awakening of some sort, AA, or whatever.
The funeral and the get together afterward provided to me an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend, to offer him my home and support along his journey, and to remind myself that a solitary life lived is seldom looked back upon and considered worth the effort - it is only through our friends and our ability to love another that the detours become not wasted time, but scenic detours.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

1st attempt at relevance

I have been thinking about new relationships lately. Personal, business. professional - there must be some study about the initial stages of any new relationship - I'll Google it later. My thought is that ALL relationships go through the same initial vetting process.
1) Who/what is this person, business, position. opportunity.
2) Am I intrigued by the notion of pursuing this new relationship / opportunity
3) How does my current life accommodate the new stuff
4) will the relationship withstand the blending process
5) I don't put too much emphasis on this one --- what does it look like once I am fully invested?

Why not look at the last one more closely? In my opinion, I don't think I am either clairvoyant enough or controlling enough to know what the actual end result will be. Really all I know is that the prospect of joining is intriguing - and that it seems from a very naive initial perspective - that it could be alot of fun ... for a good chunck of the time.