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It’s cold in the mountains tonight. I have a fire burning in the stove to take the chill off the room. I glanced out the window and suddenly felt compelled to step onto the deck to look at the sky. The night is clear, and the stars seem to float in layers, each star pulsing brightly against a pitch-blackness of the sky. I have not seen the sky as dark, or the stars as bright in years. There’s a three-dimensional feeling to it, and I almost believe that I can take a few steps forward, pluck one from the sky, and stuff it in my pocket before anyone notices it’s gone.

It makes me smile just to think such childlike things, and I’m glad to know a little boy still breathes inside this aging body.

Somewhere along my life journey, though, I took these stars for granted.

The night lights of even the smallest cities in which I have lived for much of the last thirty-years have turned the deep black sky to gray, creating such a dense fog of light pollution that all but obliterated the stars from my view. The sky that I—most of us, I think—have come to accept looks more like a piece of gray construction paper with mini Christmas lights—some with burnt-out bulbs—poking through in random places. It makes for a dull and one-dimensional view of what lies ahead, or beyond.

We build monuments to achievements we believe to be so grand we light them both day and night. And yet we have become so afraid of the dark, or what may occur in the dark; we choose to light every building from dusk-to-dawn in unsuccessful attempts to eliminate theft or injury. I don’t think these artificial lights serve many purposes. All we seem to achieve with this showmanship is a bit of visual misdirection that does nothing more than blind us from the real beauty we should be drawn to when the darkness falls each day.

I wonder why we do such things to ourselves.

The stars hold hope, I believe. These beautiful layers of bright lights twinkling against the darkness of the night gave promise to the journeys of millions of men and women over thousands of years. It’s humbling to look at these same stars, thinking about how many have relied upon them to light their way, and how many of us look to them still for guidance. All too often I think we miss the depth of opportunities along the path these stars light for us because we’re surrounded by the pollution of our vanity.

Yes, it has been a long time since I’ve seen these stars with such clarity and depth. I’ve missed their beauty. While I know they were there all along, I lacked the motivation, or maybe desire, to look for them. Until tonight.

It seems all I needed on this cold night was the courage to step outside a fog of my own creation, and just look up.

What do you need to do, to see the stars again? Will you do it?

Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may; I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

—–

Photo Credit::Day 277 by brianazimmers

I can tell you from experience what it’s like to hang by a thread.

The clothesline pole looked like a giant letter “T.”  It had four eyebolts bored through the crossbar, two on each side of the post, to which each of the clotheslines was attached. The rounded eyes of the blots faced toward the workshop, while the threaded-ends stuck through the back of the pole and were held in place with a nut. Four rope clotheslines stretched from a t-shaped pole at the edge of the back porch, across the small back yard, to a board on the outside wall of my dad’s workshop.

I would stand on my toes at the edge of the porch, carefully grab the crossbar in the narrow spaces between the eyebolts, and swing myself into the yard. I repeated this action many times daily to experience the thrill of flying for the half-a-second it took me to get to the ground from the porch two-feet above. I had jumped from the edge of the porch before, but the sensation of thrusting from the crossbar was much more exciting and gave me an extra quarter-second in the air.

Such death-defying displays of courage were the cause of many of my childhood injuries; sprained ankles from poor landings and cuts on my hands and wrists from grabbing the pole too closely to bolts. There were few scares, though, that topped the ten minutes I hung suspended in the air by the threads of my watch band.

After I had taken the garbage out one summer morning, I ran back to the porch, quickly grabbed the crossbar, and launched into my first swing of the day. Much to my surprise, I never hit the ground. Instead, my watchband had somehow slipped over the threaded, protruding-end of an eyebolt and twisted so that it was wrapped around the threads twice. If you had seen me from a distance, it might have looked to you as if my right wrist was bolted to the crossbar. With my fingers sticking upward, my feet dangling two feet off the ground and inches from the edge of the porch, I am sure it was the sight to see.

My body weight made it impossible to release the buckle on the band, or to untwist the band with my left hand. I was too far from the edge of the porch to swing back so that my toes could touch and take enough weight off my watchband to allow me to free myself.  Dad was working that day, and I was too embarrassed to call for my mom knowing how she always found so much humor in these situations that her laughter would have prevented her from helping me before I lost the circulation to my hand.

I was contemplating the next day’s newspaper headline: “Boy hung by watchband. Loses hand,” when I heard the neighbor’s screen door squeak. I saw Dan come out of the house and into his back yard.

Dan was probably 20, about ten years older than I was at the time, and lived next door with his grandparents. His large pot belly, acne-scarred face, and biker-like dress made him look considerably older. The only hint to his real age was the exceptionally well-drawn superhero characters that he painted on the ever-present white t-shirts he wore under his sleeveless denim vest.

As he walked into the yard, Dan saw me hanging from the crossbar. He walked over to the fence and asked what I was doing.  I acted as nonchalantly as I could, considering my fingers were turning purple, but I finally explained my predicament and asked for his help. He laughed, and after what seemed like hours of making fun of me, he agreed to help me down.

It took Dan a long time to walk the twenty-five feet from his backyard, through the alley, and into my backyard to release me from this awkward, self-inflicted crucifixion of sorts. I am sure he took baby-steps once he was out of my sight. He might have even stopped for a while to smell the flowers along the way; that’s just how Dan rolled.

When he finally arrived, he lifted me just enough to take the weight off the watch band, and I was able to free myself. I thanked him for helping me get down; he smiled and went home without another word. For a brief moment in the life of a little boy, Dan was a hero, not unlike the comic book heroes he drew on his t-shirts. Learning about his life struggles as an adult, helping me off the clothesline pole may have been the only time Dan felt like he was anyone’s hero.

I am sure he would have said he was an unlikely hero because he just happened to be in the right place, at the right time.  To me, that sounds like the best definition of a real hero.

______

Photo Credit::Spider-Man vs Beer Belly by Niccolò Caranti

Not long ago I sat in the bleachers looking down on a class of eighth-grade students taking their seats for a middle school graduation. They walked into the room in alphabetical order, but it was easy to spot the jocks, the geeks, the nerds, the goths, the cheerleaders, the mean girls, and the band kids not by what they wore, but by the way they carried themselves. As they took their seats, I wondered what they were thinking about as they marked this milestone in their life.

Were they thinking about going to high school? I was certain most were. Many of them probably had chosen a college, selected a career, and planned the size of their future family. I imagined when they thought of themselves as adults they simply saw an adult-version of who they were on this day. This self-awareness, if they possessed it at that time, had a far greater potential to be life limiting than they surely realized.

I’m sure they didn’t understand that each of us should constantly be growing.

I can’t imagine now that any of them really knew how every-day living would shape them far beyond the vision they had of themselves that day, or how each person they would encounter in their lives—from that day forward—would help them become, or in some cases make them, different people.

We do become much different people as we grow older and not just in the physical sense. Our hopes change, and so do our dreams. Our goals, achievements, memories, and feelings each have a different meaning than they did when were younger. I like to think we get a few gifts, too, as we add the years: We all gain experience, many of us gain wisdom, and some us are fortunate enough to earn a little more respect, if not by our accomplishments, most certainly by what we have endured.

I hope that we’ve found a wider sense of our own purpose, too.

Somewhere along the way, if we have listened closely to life’s teachings, we should have also learned that while our lives are ours to live as we see fit, we are most fulfilled when we share our lives with each other. I have always believed that some people come into our lives to teach us, while others come to learn from us. We will encounter very few people who can balance the teaching-learning scale and we we do find them, we should make sure we never let them leave. Of course, we have to balance their scales, too.

Here’s a secret I’ve learned: We are defined not by the events of our lives, but by the people whom we have known.

The people we meet, the people we choose to invite into our lives, the people we love, and the people we lose; all of them make us who we are and they never stop coming or going as long as we’re breathing. No matter how old we are at this very moment, we are not now, who we will become, because of this never-ending stream of people who touch us in ways that we often never realize in the present.

It’s the people in our lives who fuel our perpetual state of becoming.

My grandfather always told me, “Time flies; the older you get, the faster it goes.” We all know that time moves at a constant speed throughout life, so it is not that the seconds click by faster. Instead, I think what he meant was that as we get older we begin to understand how precious the moments of life are because age grants us a higher sense of appreciation and purpose for the gift of our own lives, and for the lives of others we have come to know.

No, you are not now, who you will become. Neither is anyone else.

What are you going to do about it?

Remember, time flies.

_____

Photo Credit: The Old Grandfather Clock by sburke2478

For most of my childhood we lived in an old two-story house that my dad spent weekends and evenings remodeling. It seemed like the tallest house on the block, although I think it was an illusion based on pale-yellow color of the siding. The color made the house stand out among the one-story houses on each side, and the few other two-story houses on the block that had either brick or brick-patterned asphalt siding.

A large porch stretched the width of the front of the house and was inviting with an old, comfortable, glider that once belonged to my grandparents. My dad’s workshop sat on the edge of the back yard between two rustic carports, and a dog-pen that never held a dog.

The house was narrow, probably not more than 25-feet wide. The yard existed only in the front and the back of the house, though a fence ran along the property line on all four sides. If I were to face the front of the house I could clearly see that it sat to the right of the lot, just enough, for the narrow concrete walkway to go down the left side and make it easy for someone to get from the front yard to the back yard. Wasted space to be sure since few ever made such a trip. Those who knew us came directly to the kitchen door in the back.

The interior floor plan mirrored the exterior layout, with the three rooms on the main floor—living room, dining room, and kitchen—sitting to the right of the house. From the small front entry, stairs led to the second floor, and to right of the stairs a small hallway came to a dead end at one of our two bathrooms. Upstairs were four small bedrooms and a wide hallway that was still covered in grey, wool carpet that was printed with dark, red floral pattern and was likely put down when the house was originally built.

I think it would have been a creepy place to live for most any child. For me, and my overactive imagination, there were times the house could be downright frightening. It probably didn’t help matters much that I had overheard my mom tell someone that one of the previous owners had died, or was murdered, in the house. True or not, this prompted me to sleep with my bed facing the door and the hall light on so I could get a few seconds jump on any apparition that had me in its sights.

Though I never saw a ghost, there was one night that stands out in my memory as one the most frightening times of my childhood.

I woke up to find the hall light off that night, which meant that mom and dad had gone to bed. The house was really dark and quiet. I began to hear the stairs creak as if someone were slowly walking up and trying not to make noise. I broke out in sweat and started yelling for my dad, but nothing came out of my mouth. There was no sound at all. The harder I tried to scream, the more panicked I became; I was certain someone, or something, was coming for me and no one could hear my cries for help.

I’m not sure what happened next. I suspect I had a panic attack and I passed out because I don’t remember anything more from that night. Obviously, whatever was on the stairs, or that my imagination had put on the stairs, did not pull me away into the darkness that night.

My dad didn’t come to my rescue either; he hadn’t heard my silent screams.

I think it was this experience, along with losing my hearing, which has helped me to be more aware of the silent screams of others. Through body language and intuition, I can usually pick up when something’s wrong in someone’s life. I don’t often know the cause of their screams, but I can almost always “hear” them screaming.

It’s hard to explain how I know they’re crying out. I just seem to know. And I want to do something to help them.

I fall short in my ability to help those people whose silent screams I do hear. I have a tendency to smother them because I want to help them avoid that frightening helplessness that comes from being a silent screamer. As much as I may want to help, or as much as I may try, some are not ready to accept help; others need to move through the experiences on their own to gain the greatest life value.

I am learning that I cannot help everyone, but knowing this won’t stop me from trying. So, I want them to know this:

I hear you and I am here for you.

Whenever you’re ready.

“I had a tank of tropical fish. Someone turned up the tank heater and they all boiled. I woke up on a Friday morning and went to feed them, and there they were. All my beautiful fish floating on top. Most of them split into, others with their eyes hanging out. It looked like violence. But it was such a quiet night. And I remember wishing I had the kind of ears that could hear fish screams, because they looked as if they had suffered, and I wanted so badly to save them.

And that Sunday in church, I heard that Christ had told his apostles to be fishers of men. And from then on, I looked upon all the people in the church as fish. I was young, so I saw them as beautiful tropical fish, and so I knew they were all quiet screamers. The church was so quiet. I thought everyone was boiling, and I wanted the kind of ears that could hear what they were screaming about, ‘cause I wanted to save them.

As I got older, the people lost the look of tropical fish. They became catfish to me – just overdressed scavengers. So I drowned out whatever I might be able to hear, and made my world my tank, so hot that I almost split. And so now I am back listening, listening for the screams of angels.”

~ Mark Dolson, a character from the play, Mass Appeal

He showed up the door of the room on my third day in the hospital during the summer of 1971. He came by, he said, because had heard me cry-out the night before and wanted to make sure I was okay. We were both on the rehabilitation floor of the hospital; I was being fitted for a bent-knee brace and learning to walk on crutches as part of my treatment for hip dysplasia.

His first name was Dempsey, but I never caught his last name. He was ten-years-old, although much smaller in stature that I was at eight-years-old; the top of this head barely rose above the handle of my door. He had impressive cowlick above his left eye that caused his short-cropped blonde hair to stick straight out in the front. He seemed to vibrate with the energy of boy who had caffeine coursing through his veins rather than blood.

I told him that was upset the night before because two male orderlies woke me from a sound sleep and carted me down to the basement of the hospital for tests and measurements. The kindly, older woman nurse who had been taking care of me was not around. She explained everything; the guys explained nothing. I was so afraid because I didn’t know what was happening.

After hearing my story, he smiled and bounced into the room. He spent the next hour with me watching me draw and telling me how hospitals actually worked. He told me about hospital shifts, the grumpy nurse to avoid after lunch, who to ask for ice cream and get it every time, and what “physical therapy” really meant. Dempsey was hospital pro. He had already been there two weeks learning how to use the hooks that he called his new “hands.”

“He is a Thalidomide baby,” my mother told me when I asked about him as a teenager.

Thalidomide was a drug marketed as a sedative but was often used by pregnant women in the 1950’s and early 1960’s to treat morning sickness. Many women who used the drug found unfortunately discovered that their newborns suffered from limb deformities, including shortened or missing arms, among other more life-threatening and debilitating deformities.

Dempsey was missing his arms from the elbow down as I recall, but I don’t believe he had other challenges; at least none that were visible, or none that kept him from doing the things he wanted to do for those ten-days we spent in the hospital together. By the time I met him, he had mastered the large movements with his new “hands,” but still could not hold a pencil or spoon, let alone use one. Until he could write his name and feed himself, he couldn’t go home.

He did not seem to be in much of a hurry to do either.

Our daily routine at the hospital was similar. The nurses would wake us at 7:00 AM for breakfast and the orderlies would show up about 9:00 to take us to physical therapy. Physical therapy was a couple of hours, and we were back to our rooms in time for lunch. Our afternoons were “free,” if you could call them that. It only meant that we weren’t scheduled for any tests or therapy, and could spend that time doing whatever we wanted in our rooms, or in sometimes the out in the hallway. Dinner was about 5:30 and the hospital’s only visiting hours were from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Lights were out at 10:00 PM for us.

My parents and grandparents visited every evening, and I talked to them at least once each afternoon on the telephone. My favorite aunt even sent me a care package or two from Kentucky to help me pass the time. Dempsey’s mom visited him a few times while I was there, but I don’t remember other visitors or care packages for him. I wondered why his mom did not come every night and why he didn’t have a dad who visited, too, but I never asked him. He didn’t seem to mind not having many visitors.

Dempsey and I became fast friends. We did everything together including, afternoon races down the hallway in wheelchairs (that grumpy nurse was always yelling at us), coordinating Jell-O®-slurping contests with the other kids on our floor at lunch, and making happy drawings for the terminal kids on the floor below. Of course, Dempsey could not draw or color because he had not mastered the fine-motor skills with his hooks. Instead, he told us what to draw, or how to make our pictures, “be more happier” looking.

By my eighth day in the hospital, I had received the bent-knee brace and mastered the art of walking up and down stairs on crutches. Two days later, I said goodbye to the nurses and raced Dempsey one last time in the wheelchairs to the finish line where we met that grumpy nurse who somehow managed a smile.

Dempsey walked us to the elevator and said, “Be more happier! You get to go home today.”

I was sad to leave him.

That was the last time I saw Dempsey, but he has never been far from my mind. Throughout my childhood, I thought of him every time I faced a physical or mental challenge I wasn’t sure I could overcome, when I played basketball, and when I ran track.  As an adult, he comes to mind whenever I’m feeling sorry for myself, when I’m do something unexpected for someone that brings a smile to their face, and of course, whenever I slurp Jell-O®.

Dempsey taught me that life’s adversities could be easily overcome with a change of attitude and perspective.  He showed me that it was okay to take on the grumpy in the name of a little fun and that it is much better to help other people “be more happier” than it is to wallow in my own self-pity.

Having a handicap is a life challenge, but being handicapped is merely a state of mind.

Thank you, Dempsey. You made a difference. Wherever you are, I thought you would like to know that I’m still trying to follow your lead.

_____

Photo credit: Pubescent Boy in the Light by Lynne’s Lens

I originally wrote this in February 2010 and shared the excerpt below on my business blog September 11, 2010.  As prepare for the weekend and the 10th Anniversary of that tragic day in 2011, I’ve decided to make this an annual post in remembrance. I hope you’ll consider pausing for a moment at 8:46 AM Eastern Time on Sunday (911) to remember Richie Pearlman and the nearly 3,000 people who died that day. 


A few weeks ago, I was in NY and made a visit to the World Trade Center site as I have on every trip to the city since 2002. This trip I was able to go to the museum for the first time and reflect on that tragic day. As I made my way around to the photographs of the three thousand or so individuals who lost their lives, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face. It was face of Richard Pearlman. Suddenly, I couldn’t contain my grief. Standing there looking at that wall, at the picture of Richard, the tears streamed down my face. Although, I did not know him personally, I did know his story.

In February 2009, I had the privilege of sharing the message for Scout Sunday at my church. My message that Sunday was based on the New Testament book of Luke 6:17-26, commonly known as the “Beatitudes.” I closed the message with a story about Richard Pearlman that I compiled from news reports. Below is the story and the message closing:

…let me share with you the story of Richard Pearlman. He knew a little something about making an effort and the responsibilities of taking care of others.

Richie joined the junior corps of Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps. when he was 14, working as a volunteer dispatcher. At 18, he joined the Senior Corps as a paramedic, where he immediately became a source of knowledge for new dispatchers and new volunteer members. He looked forward to starting his EMT courses and a career in emergency services.

Richie was a constant presence at the Corps. He was the regular Tuesday night and Saturday daytime dispatcher. He was present at every can shaking and blood pressure screening the Corps held. But he found his passion when became involved in the Boy Scouts of America, as an Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 106, in Queens, New York. Richie was committed to both Scouting and caring for others. The summer of 2001, Richie was staffer at Boy Scout Camp Aquehonga in Narrowsburg, NY. He served in the trading post, camp services, assisted the commissioners and as an office manager. While in the office, Richie found his calling and a new nickname, “mother.” He earned this name for the way he doted on injured campers and staff. Richie was a trained in CPR and as a first aid technician, but his specialty was psychological first aid. He had a knack for calming down the most upset and injured Scout and Scouter alike.

Richie lived with his parents in Howard Beach, NY and was working as a messenger for a New York Law firm the morning of September 11, 2001. He was delivering a package to One Police Plaza when he learned that the first airplane had struck the World Trade Center not far away. He called his boss and told him he had gone over to help. His employer ordered him back to the offices where he would be safe, however Richie knew in his heart where he belonged. He saw total mayhem before him, and his training kicked in. He shared that he saw people hurt and bleeding. “I have to stay and do what I can to help.”

Upon arriving, the 18-year-old, flashed his gold paramedic’s badge #3754, and rushed into a building to aid in the rescue effort. Despite the chaos at the scene, Richie’s heroics were later confirmed on pages 16-17 in Newsweek’s Extra Edition of America Under Attack which shows a picture of Richie aiding the injured—helping a woman covered in blood, but alive, from one of the towers. After getting her to safety, he ran back in to find more survivors. Shortly afterward, the towers came down.

Richard Allen Pearlman, 18, an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 106, chartered to Trinity Lutheran Church in Queens, NY became the youngest victim of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He received The Honor Medal, with crossed palms, the highest award given by the Boy Scouts of America for an act of Heroism at extreme risk to oneself.

“He used to always say,” his mother shared at his funeral, ‘I’m going to be a famous person one day, Mom. I’m going to help save the world. ‘You’ll see.’ “And he did save the world…at least the world for the one woman he helped escaped the towers that day.

Richie Pearlman was an exceptional man. He was a brave, courageous, tenacious, and strong. But, we learned that he was also loving, compassionate, empathetic, and kind-hearted – everything we hope for in ourselves and in others. In our scriptures today, Jesus is clear about his expectations of us; that as His followers, we are held to a higher standard through this “code of conduct.”

Richie Pearlman was just being the kind of person that God calls us all to be.

The Scout Sunday message closed with this video:

May God bless and keep the families of those who perished on September 11, 2001 (911).


If you would like to commemorate the life of Richie Pearlman, please consider making making a donation to the Richard Allen Pearlman Memorial Annual Scholarship, providing scholarships for EMT or Paramedic Training.

It’s In Every One Of Us, by David Pomeranz, is used with permission. The photographs of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers and volunteers leader shown in this video are also used with permission.

Eight months ago, the idea of becoming a beekeeper popped into my head.

I’m sure the idea had rooted long ago and for some unknown reason decided on that day to sprout and bear fruit.  Until eight months ago, I had not fertilized this root of an idea in any way; I had not been reading about beekeeping, watching beekeeping movies, or talking to beekeepers. Still, there it was, the idea that beekeeping was something I now wanted to think seriously about as a hobby.

Beekeeping is not a hobby that would usually grab my attention. While I am not afraid of bees and I understand their tremendous value to our ecological chain, hanging with them is certainly not at the top of my “fun-things-to-do” list, despite the fact that I am a big fan of honey.

The act of beekeeping is not foreign to me, though. Growing up, a family friend was an apiarist. He had about two dozen hives, all of which he made himself. These were top-bar hives, meaning the hives have several removable frames within, on which a wax honeycomb is attached. These frames lift out to harvest the honey and honeycomb quickly. After each harvest, a replacement frame with new wax honeycomb is added, because the previous honeycomb cannot be reused.

I sometimes helped to prepare those frames, pulling a thin wire through small holes in each end, and then placing a perfectly cut, thin sheet of wax honeycomb on the wires. A small, grooved, metal wheel was heated slightly and then used to trace the wires on the honeycomb. This melted the wax around the wire to hold the honeycomb within the frame. For a ten-year-old, it was fun to build things, but mostly I liked to watch the heat melt the wax over the wire.

I had forgotten those experiences; the memories came back eight months ago on the heels of those first beekeeping thoughts. It wasn’t long afterward that the beekeeping articles began to appear in the magazines and newspapers I regularly read. A couple of months ago, I happened upon a beekeeping television program while flipping through the channels one Sunday. I even ran into a beekeeper, with bees, at a local festival recently.

A pattern of coincidence in my life, such as this involving beekeeping, will always grab my attention.

I have long believed that God, however one might define a higher power, speaks to us through the coincidences in our lives. Those repeated presentations of something or someone are God’s way of encouraging us to be open to learning something new so that we will be better prepared for what lies ahead. Personally, such coincidences have always led me to new tools for my life-toolbox—skills, abilities, or knowledge—that proved critical in the next stage of my journey.

Whether this is the not-so-gentle-nudging of a higher power, or simply the intuitive guiding abilities we all possess, I don’t know. I have come to trust these feelings to lead me through life; they rarely fail to equip me for the path I’m traveling.

I am confident there is something I need to learn from beekeeping. While I am clueless as to my toolbox needs for the next phase of my journey, I’m ready to find out what beekeeping can teach me about my life. I just can’t seem to shake the feeling, though, that there are many lessons for me to learn from the hive and I may lack the patience to be the best student.

I wonder if patience is to be my first lesson.

___

Photo Credit::(The Unruly Hive) by Bug Dreams

 

 

Although I’ve accomplished much in life, but there are still a great many things I would still like to do. Below are those things, in no particular order. Some are more ambitious than others, mostly because I need to be able to accomplish a few things along the way. I have kept this list for a long time. The date the item was added to the original list is marked with a “+” and the date I checked off the item is marked with a “-“.

  • Do a canopy tour via zipline (+ 3/1/2011) Natvitat Canopy Tours – Asheville  (- 10/19/2012) 
  • Hike the Seven Sisters (+ 4/30/2009)
  • Spend a least three months traveling through Europe (+ 4/30/1992)
  • Take a self-guided photo-tour through all 50 states (+ 4/30/2001)
  • Learn to play the guitar (+ 7/1/2009)
  • Learn to play the piano (+ 7/1/2009)
  • Get a book published (which is not the same as publishing a book) (+ 5/1/2001)
  • Become a beekeeper (+ 1/15/2011)
  • Rappel from at least 100′ (+02/15/2007)  Crowder’s Mountain, NC (-7/19/2008)
  • Own a small farm/ranch in the mountains (+ 10/31/2009)
  • Read Atlas Shrugged (+ 9/30/2009)
  • Make a documentary film on some yet-to-be defined topic  (+ 1/1/1999)
  • Spend a month on an island (+ 5/31/2008)
  • Learn to relax (+ 1/1/2011)  Figured it out and applied techniques consistently for 6-months (-3/31/2015)
  • Learn to kayak (+ 9/16/2010)
  • Get to the ideal weight for my 6′ 3″ frame: 200 lbs. (Progress: 220 @ 7/1/2013)
  • Complete a Master’s Degree (+ 7/1/2012)
  • Become an adjunct instructor (+ 7/1/2012)
  • Transition my speaking engagements from business topics to personal/motivational topics. (+ 1/1/2013)
  • Capture 250 stories for The Working Life Project  (+ 5/10/2013)
  • Hike the Camino de Santiago (+06/19/2015)

Surprisingly, I do maintain a little privacy.

This said, you can connect with me in any of the following ways:

Email: dave [at] davidharkins [dot] com

Twitter: @daveharkins

If you’re interested in my take on business topics, www.davidharkins.com covers these things pretty well when I’m not swamped and feel inspired.

Photo Credit:: Holding Daddy's Hand by Roger's Wife

It’s a difficult road from being the dad of a teenage girl to becoming the friend/dad of a young woman.  My desire to protect her and save her too often gets in the way of my desire that she discover for herself who she is becoming.  I regularly forget that she no longer needs me to remind her to fasten her safety belt or to check the oil; she only needs me to let her get behind the wheel. Truthfully, I have never been very comfortable as a passenger on any journey.

Unfortunately, the subtleties of this changing landscape elude me and my navigational skills are proving to be of limited use when I am no longer at the wheel.  In fact, the view from the back seat is much different, and my ability to successfully provide guidance, direction, and support is seemingly lost somewhere in this translation.  It probably doesn’t help that I’m prone to yell, “car…Car….CAR!!!” when she’s stopped paying attention instead of simply encouraging her to keep her eyes on the road ahead.

As hard as it is to do, I know that I need to let her navigate for herself, and acknowledge to myself that a backseat driver really doesn’t make the road any safer.  I often forget that the noise from the back seat makes it harder for the driver to concentrate on the road ahead.  I so clearly fail to recognize when her actions represent, “I will turn this car around, mister!” even when she’s not entirely comfortable saying those words.  Whether she says them or not, I do understand that I am only a passenger on this new journey at the driver’s request.

She is becoming a good driver. I am so very proud of her and her initiative in mapping out the path ahead.  While she may choose different roads on this journey than I would have chosen, this is her journey, and I am confident that she will get to the destination of her choosing.  She has her own GPS device now, and I suppose I should be comforted that it may be powered, in some very small part, by a few simple maps she downloaded from me.

It just doesn’t make it any easier to let go of the wheel

—-

So I will dance with Cinderella

While she is here in my arms

‘Cause I know something the prince never knew

Oh, I will dance with Cinderella

I don’t want to miss even one song

‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight

And she’ll be gone

~Steven Curtis Chapman, Cinderella

 

Photo Credit: Holding Daddy’s Hand by Roger’s Wife

It’s A Process is a personal blog written by David Harkins, who endeavors to make sense of the chaos around him with the thoughtful telling of life stories in what he hopes to be an engaging and sometimes humorous manner. Occasionally, some fiction, and a little poetry land on these pages.

 

As a young man, he perfected the art of chasing shiny things and once on his own; he fell into a successful career leading marketing and organizational change for companies both small and large.  If you are interested in this side of his life, check out his full bio on his website at  www.davidharkins.com or his entrepreneurial blog at www.mrharkins.com.

These days he’s either trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up or looking for the person he lost somewhere between the 8-year-old who spent an hour hanging only by his watch band and the man he now looks at in the mirror every morning.

Whatever the outcome, it’s a process.

Disclaimer

This is a personal blog. The opinions and views expressed here are solely those of David L. Harkins and do not represent any organization with which he is affiliated or support, nor any company for which he may be employed or with which he may consult.

The gardenia outside of my office is beginning to bloom.

My grandmother loved gardenias and even wore gardenia perfume. Whenever I catch the scent of flower I’m reminded of her.

I think she planned it that way.