This is how fiction works.

By the time children are 2 or 3 years old, they begin realizing adults don’t know everything. From age 4 to around 6, they learn to match their own facial expressions and tone of voice to their words—and their lying gets better. From age 6 to about 8, they’re lying more frequently, and they’re getting much better at it. By age eight, most children can lie successfully.

The naked truth is that some of our most verified leaders lie about things substantive.

Lying is generally viewed negatively. The common thinking is that people in authority — whether CEOs, politicians, principals or parents— are honest, credible and forthright. But history (and Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University) say otherwise. According to Pfeffer, the average person lies at least twice a day. He says, in fact, that the truth about people in authority is that they are actually great liars.

For example, to settle the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was not completely honest about where the Southern delegation was. And when James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, was asked whether or not federal intelligence agencies were intercepting communications from American citizens, well, he didn’t quite tell the truth either.

There are gobs of current examples, too. Take this declaration President Barack Obama made in July 2009 regarding the Affordable Care Act: “Under our proposal, if you like your doctor, you keep your doctor. If you like your current insurance, you keep that insurance. Period. End of story.”

And if you missed this doozy: A tweet made by our newly elected Vice President Kamala Harris, in October 2020: “@JoeBiden will not ban fracking. That is a fact.”

Lincoln wanted to resolve the Civil War, so he had to make up some inaccuracies. Obama wanted to sell healthcare for everyone, so he distorted a little bit about some of his healthcare plan’s specifics. And, well, Harris, I presume, wanted to get elected.

Fiction: The surest way to arouse a reader lies in the vivid and imaginative detail.

What I know is, effective lying requires a vivid imagination. Whether it’s political duplicity, an attempt at hiding an awkward situation, or merely trying to get others to think better of you, bending the truth involves creativity. Where am I going with this? Creative thinking is a competitive edge in so many aspects of life and work—especially including the ability to write good fiction. It is about reinventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking the rules, making mistakes and having fun. They say that good fiction is a lie that tells the truth, but I’ve never been good at writing fiction. While I’ve told my share of white lies (and, perhaps on occasion, dark lies), writing fiction (and not that it’s worth mentioning, but writing dialogue) has never come easily for me. Fiction is my Achilles heel. My kryptonite. I’m hoping this means I’ve grown out of lying. But what I fear it means is that I’ve grown out of my creativity.

So I decided to test my ability to stretch the truth.

Ever start a new job, and your new boss makes you play the terrible game Two Truths and a Lie? Well, I’ve created my own spinoff. I listed (what I hope is) three convincingly false facts and one truth. My mission is to make you scratch your head in wonder.

  1. In 2019, one in seven drivers age 30-39 bought a Toyota RAV4 SUV.
  2. A cognitive neuroscientist at Stanford University, conducted modern research that proves creativity is genetic.
  3. Victor Hugo, the author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, used cannabis for creative inspiration and focus.
  4.  I brush my teeth four times a day.

I know this little exercise doesn’t begin to tap the well of good fiction (or solid creativity) (*a Toyota? Really??*) but I’m going to keep working at it. My real assignment is to write a story in which the reader (you) knows that every conversation between my characters, every action, is invented, made up — to be precise, lies. And yet, after finishing the story, readers (you) will email fellow readers (friends) saying, “read this story, it oozes with *it*, it resonates, it lingers, it makes you feel, it makes you sense a fundamental truth. It lets you see.”

And if I am successful, then really nothing is off limits. Maybe I, too, will one day be elected president of the free world. (And won’t that make a good story!)

All events are up for interpretation.

Need an a-ha moment to get things flowing? Everything in life is a matter of perspective. You come home, make some dinner, sit down on your couch, and all around, there’s silence. Everyone decides for themselves whether that’s loneliness or freedom. 

To put 2020 to rest, I need to accept that it is not only the appearance that matters but the positive things that were born from all the upheaval—and there *are* positive things indeed.

For instance, creative thinking is a by-product of social distance. 

Creativity is a topic that interests me endlessly. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, reveals a startling fact. Cain reports that brainstorming groups create fewer ideas than the same number of solitary people working alone. Now that sounds half-baked, but when I think back to my many marketing milestones, the lion’s share of my creativity often included only myself. 

In retrospect, A Similar Story is an offshoot of the 2020 quarantine. Being holed up in my home pretty much accelerated my creative output. You could say that solitude was my creative boon. Albert Einstein embraced his moments of isolation, too. He once said: “Although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head. If my work isn’t going well, I lie down in the middle of a workday and gaze at the ceiling. At the same time, I listen and visualize what goes on in my imagination.”

Isolation also helped me change the way I think about thinking. 

There’s a secret to manifesting an elephant-sized life. Being attached to nothing but connected to everything. There’s a little-known energy switch inside every single person. And once you discover how to trigger it, you can unblock a stream of abundance that will simply carry you away. And I promise you, it won’t take a trip halfway around the world to see elephants. To discover how to flip this energy switch for yourself, all you have to do is sit in nature for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re busy. Then you should sit for one hour. 

Still, most people tend to avoid isolation. Research shows that for many people, spending time with themselves is challenging. One interesting study from the University of Virginia indicates that many people prefer giving themselves a painful electric shock to just sitting with their own thoughts for 15 minutes. Loony, right! 

Franz Kafka, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, offered this advice: “You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen; simply wait, just learn to become quiet, still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

It will roll in ecstasy at your feet. 

Try vibing alone for a bit. You’ll realize a lot. Less mindless hustle. More mindful magic. And the world is absolutely starved for mindful magic. 

When staying sane became a challenge, I challenged myself to write a 6-word isolation story. 

When absolutely nothing was clear or concise, and our governors were creating insane rules, I decided to play with brevity. But I warn you, boiling down the ingredients and simplifying the complicated is not as easy as it sounds. Pulling out only six words is a veritable masterclass in creative focus.

One of my favorite American writers, Janet Burroway, created a 6-word story as an example of concise and creative storytelling. “All those pages in the fire.”  

To say this was an intense activity would give little weight to the experience. At times, I can be quite the lazy storyteller. And when I’m not lazy, it still takes many takes to get it right. But what was challenging about the 6-word story is that it required me to think more deeply. I couldn’t just think about the words that were said, but also those that were left unsaid. After all, with only six words, a lot is left out.

My own hyper-short creation: “Living my best and worst life.”

While there are many other highlights of the year, I’ll wrap this up.

Like I said in the beginning, the world is a reflection of our thinking. Imagine a dark cave that hasn’t been illuminated for a million years. Then one day, someone brings a candle into the cave. Instantaneously the darkness of a million years vanishes. For me, my perspective is a proverbial 7-wick candle. 

I challenge you to look closely and to find the bright side of the God-awful 2020, too. Good moments. Tiny victories. Things that were always there but overlooked. Do you see them now?

My very unedited response to November 6

Amend: Two things: 1) Violence isn’t something I support. 2) The democrats and radical left party had a clear hand in what happened at the Capitol on November 6. They set the fire while the conservatives stoked the fire. You get what you give in this world. If you give the middle finger to someone you can’t be surprised if they give it back.

Washington, D.C., wasn’t designed for an insurrection. No, it wasn’t. In my lifetime, I have never witnessed American citizens rise up in defense of a coup (probably because the coup has never been so blatant before). How despicable. Trump incited this. If we let him get away with it, then all is lost. THIS is what is all over the news and social media.

But wait, how many times over the past two months (and from how many mouths) have 74 million people heard the phrases, “the stakes couldn’t be higher,” and “it’s up to the people,” and “everything we know as an American is on the line?”

I’ve heard it no less than 120 million times. From the President. From Senators. From Representatives. From Lawyers. From media. From neighbors. From friends. From family.

Democracy will be over if Biden wins.

Capitalism will be gone if Biden wins.

Our Constitutional Rights will be taken from us if Biden wins.

Socialism will be ushered in, in warp speed, if Biden wins.

Let’s not forget about the Georgia runoffs. We must stop the Democrats from creating a one-party country. All will be lost if ‘we the people’ let this happen.

Our children and grandchildren will be brainwashed if Biden wins. They’ll never learn America’s real history.

These statements are what Conservatives (the ones in charge and in the media and from a bullhorn) have been saying for the past two months (and much longer), so what exactly did everyone think would happen on November 6? I’m asking this question with total frustration and lots of emphatic … emphases.

We watched violence erupt through cities across the country last summer – these were called “peaceful protests” and nothing was done.

We heard testimony by a witness to, and a laptop repairman speak about how the Biden’s are in bed with China.

We’ve been told who among us is essential and who is not, who can work and who will lose it all – by Our. Elected. Leaders. They decided – and our ability to support ourselves, our family, and our ability to help our neighbors went right out the door.

We were told to protest peacefully. We got shot. Literally, people were shot. They were shunned. They were fired. They were “cancelled.”

We were told to vote. That didn’t work either.

We were told to take this to the courts. They didn’t listen. They didn’t even give us a chance to speak and present.

We were told Vice President Mike Pence could throw out the electoral votes that were illegitimately certified. And then he said he wouldn’t.

So what exactly did everyone think was going to happen on November 6? You can’t tell us our lives will be forever changed for the worse if Biden wins and not expect an uprising when all the legal attempts to right the wrong have failed.

That’s not who we are.” 

That’s not who we are?? This is what those people are now telling us. The people that were once telling us that it’s up to us to not let this happen – after all, the government is for the people, by the people, of the people. Now they’re condemning us for storming the castle? A week ago, you were singing a different tune. YOU were inciting us. YOU were painting that picture. WE just followed your lead.

We fight wars in other countries, don’t we? What’s different about fighting in a war abroad vs. fighting a battle in our country? After all, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Two bullets and a dream

The bullets:

  • Whatever I go through, I get through. So when I’m not good, I’m good.
  • Regardless of how it has begun, I am not dismissing 2021. Let’s see how things shake out, shall we.

The dream:

Last night I dreamt that I was dancing with a midget.

He was swinging me around on the floor. Imagine (if you can), whiplash-worthy, legs flailing, boogie-woogie hair swooshing moves performed by a dwarf and me. There were spins and kick-throughs done on a sort of syncopated rhythm. It was odd as heck. The words “overly enthusiastic” don’t quite describe my strange dance partner. He was more, um, animated and euphoric, and while I *was* smiling, I had zero happy-feels. A very peculiar dream …  

The rumors, they’re true. I’m a self-confessed dream junkie that loves all things dream related. Dreaming is the conversation between our conscious mind and our unconscious mind. They let us play out painful or puzzling emotions or experiences in a safe place. So, in case you’re wondering, yes, I consulted my dream dictionary. When analyzing dreams, every detail is essential. Colors. Room. Temperature. But at 4 am, I could only muster one eye open, so I only looked up two components. The biggies. Here’s what it said:

MidgetSee Little Person

Little Person: To see a little person in your dream suggests feeling small or overlooked. Or, when you dream of a little person, it’s a sign that you have a problem to solve. Until you do, it pursues you and results in emotional imbalances in your life. It can also indicate the stunted desires of your life dreams, which you have abandoned or forgotten all about.

Dancing: To dream of dancing implies freedom from any restrictions and limitations. Your life is in balance and in harmony. Dancing also represents frivolity, happiness, and gracefulness. You need to incorporate these qualities into your waking life.

(My dream is telling me to buck up and lighten up. Noted.)

My growth game is strong.

2020 showed me that nothing I planned for came to fruition, but that in a brilliant way, everything that did come into fruition was what I should have planned for in the first place.

When I vibe alone for a bit, I realize a lot. The most significant pivot I did – in hindsight – was to stop talking about making changes and start acting on them. For example, I stopped following the crowd. They seemed to be lost. Also, I realized rest is essential. I mean, even magical belles need a break, too. Another excellent realization I had is to never be hurt if people don’t like me. Most people barely like themselves.

Here’s where I am. I’m moving into 2021 like this:

Beneath every behavior, there is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when I meet that need rather than focus on the behavior, I begin to deal with the cause, not the symptom.

It has zero to do with my dream, and it has even less to do with the bullet points above, but it sounds like something I want to work on. I’ll decipher it as I go. In the meantime, I have big plans for 2021.

For starters, I’m writing a book that I think I might finally finish this year. It is also time to level up this blog. I’ll start by creating a solid content strategy and an organized blogging schedule. It will help to know what you all like to read, so please drop me a message with some topics. If not, buckle up. You might read about more oddball dreams of tiny dancing people. Or maybe strange inventions like robots that feed you tomatoes. Of course, there are always those short stories of me at my most awkward moments. Total entertainment, granted, but nothing save-worthy to anyone’s library of faves.

To wrap this up, although 2020 was a beast of a year, there’s hope for 2021. If Sleepy Joe can scoop up 80 million votes, anything is possible. You just gotta be OK with the idea that sometimes it might just be you and your coffee against the world. I promise you, though, if you vibe alone for a bit, you, too, will realize a lot.

So take a breath and carry on. I’m in your corner. Hope you’ll be in mine.