Jumping off tables

The woman with bushy hair was staring at me.

We were sitting on opposite sides of the room, and while she was sizing up my bloody lip, I was scrutinizing the general state of her hair. It was severely overgrown, wooly, and I’m positive she had shards of an age-old butterfly clip entangled in the dark heap. If it wasn’t a butterfly clip, then it was most definitely a tree branch or stick.

In my mind, she wasn’t young enough to have this level of unkempt hair. She also wasn’t young enough to wear such achingly bright shorts. But here she was, a woman of about forty sitting in front of me, an unrecognizable curl pattern to her mane and glaring red shorts that were screaming, “Look at me!”

             “So I suppose you want to ask me what happened to my lip.”

             “Yes, dear. Were you punched?”

(Oh, she has a British accent! I was not expecting this. British people are usually a bit more … tidier … no?)

I was about to say ‘yes and give her a grand story about a bloody and ruthless fistfight. Maybe a vengeance mission that includes swollen faces and the taste of blood. Or a grudge match that ends with spectators shouting, “SHE’S ALIVE!” (Floating a tall tale comes easy to me.)

Instead, I gave her the truth.

             “I jumped off a table.”  

At age 53, a change is clearly taking place.

Let’s be honest, most people don’t envision 53-year old women jumping off picnic tables or vaulting over common obstacles in the park. They don’t picture these ‘aged’ women hurdling structures by running, vaulting, jumping, climbing, and rolling. Or moving along ledges, scaling buildings without ladders, or leaping between rooftops. Getting down on all fours to pass over, under, through, and around the environment — urban or natural — for sport or otherwise? Probably not. 

Young men on YouTube, however, with incredible acrobatic athleticism, yes. Safely and efficiently, I might add. But I think the general perception is that 53-year old women count daily steps and apply ice packs to flaring tendonitis. Maybe they hold Downward Dog or Tree Pose for 10 breaths. And they might suit up for weekly aqua aerobics (to nail that breaststroke).

But 53-year old me is wholly embracing “park play” and jumping off picnic tables, hanging from monkey bars, practicing cartwheels in the grass – bloodying my own lip in the process – and bragging about it to the first urgent care technician that looks my way.

             “I got this at the park. Yeah, you see, I was jumping off this table… It’s part of my parkour training. Do you know what parkour is? Helloooo? Cindy? That’s what your name tag says, right, Cindy? So I bloodied my lip doing parkour…”


My parkour training is less impressive and less splashy than those splendidly dangerous, flying seventeen-year-olds on YouTube.

cat hang that tears open the calluses on my hands; a quadrupedal walk (also known as a beast crawl) performed forward and backward that scares the beans out of me when done on a ledge, and a walking climb-up that bruises my shins, over and over and over again is as intense as it gets. I also hop rocks and bushes. And don’t forget picnic tables. I leap off picnic tables.

It’s all primer. My goal? This, minus most of the tricking because.

By parkour’s very nature, it encourages adaptability, exploration, self-reliance, health, creativity, and mental fortitude. All attributes any 53-year old woman strives for, no? Taking your body through full ranges of motion, matching strength + flexibility + stability, and connecting your breath + rhythm. Talk about feeling free to be as strong, joyful, peaceful, warrior-like, secure, sexy, silly, playful as you desire. Achieving strength at every angle. (Bloody lip, optional.)

I think I can say with a fair degree of certainty that my journey, as accidental as it is, is just starting to pick up steam.

More and more, I believe the Buddha had it right: pretty much all of our struggles, from frustrations to anxiety, from anger to sadness, from grief to worry, all stem from the same thing — being too tightly attached to something.

When we’re worried or upset, it’s because we are tightly attached to how we want things to be. When we’re frustrated with someone, it’s because we’re attached to how we want them to be. And when we hesitate or delay, we are attached to things being easy. And so on.

OK, if you agree being too attached, clinging too tightly, is the cause of our struggles … then the answer is simple, right? Drop the attachments. Reconcile attachment. Let that B—go.

Easier said than done.

Fact: I was attached to a specific gym routine. Every Monday, I lifted shoulders. Tuesday was back. Wednesday was chest. Thursday was legs. This four-day split ran on repeat for several years. Eventually, I realized I was only expressing one of my physical abilities, or bio-motor abilities if you will.

(Before I get too deep into this story, I need to tell you that I’m really terrible at parkour. But instead of being discouraged, I’m like, wow, I’ve spent the better part of my adult life working on my body. Yet, I have very little ability to use my body. So even though I’m sucking at parkour, I’m enjoying it. The skill acquisition really inspires me. I love the concept of training-to-last. I also love that I’m experiencing all these different kinds of sensations (and even bruises)).

Weight training is quite linear. It’s “these are my very almost completely sagittal plane movements or isometrics, and I’m not moving at a lot of joint-variation angles.” On the other hand, parkour is really about flow and the transference of energy and creating direction – or momentum.

I’ve been attached to static, linear, push/pull, feet hip-width apart and planted on the floor.

Parkour is a scary 180.

So what makes me think I can do parkour – or any sort of freerunning – without killing myself (or breaking bones or shedding more blood)?

The concept of Dharma – Buddhist doctrine – teaches us that everything is a manifestation of our own mind. We think there is an objective world outside, and there is a subjective world inside. And we believe the so-called objective reality of the world is something distinct from our consciousness. Still, it is only the object of our consciousness. It is our consciousness. That’s the hardest thing to understand and a primary obstacle for us and for science. So if I’m “attached” to weight training being what “exercise” looks like, if this is the perception I’ve created, why can’t I create a new perception? One that involves me sprinting over pony walls and sailing through crawl spaces?

Buddhism offers the example of a river. We see a river and call it one name, but the water is not the same water; it’s constantly changing. You cannot swim twice in the same river, and it is not the same person who goes into the river. Tomorrow it will not be “you” who goes into that river. You will have changed, just like the river constantly changes. How mind-blowing is this?

If things are things because I perceive them to be, then I will perceive jumping off tables as something 53-year old women do.

And also… bushy-haired Brits can wear red shorts.

P.S. Once you realize perception underpins everything you think, do, believe, know, or love, then you just found a new way of seeing. Congratulations!

The peaceful illegal

Are illegal immigrants peaceful? Maybe some, but you decide.

According to the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, and the FY2019 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report:  

In FY 2019, ICE agents arrested approximately 143,000 illegal immigrants. Of these individuals, the convictions—or charges—pending at the time of their arrest included:

  • 74,000 for driving under the influence (DUI)
  • 67,000 for drug offenses
  • 1,900 were convicted of homicide
  • 1,800 were convicted of homicide-related crimes
  • 1,600 kidnappings
  • 37,000 assaults
  • 10,000 sex crimes
  • 4,276 were known or suspected gang members
  • 675 were suspected to be members of the MS13 gang
  • 31 were known or suspected terrorists

Of those arrested by ICE in FY 2020, 90% had criminal convictions or charges pending at the time of arrest.

These individuals came into our country when our borders were secure. Now our borders are open.

On the future of America

What the heck is happening in our country? I’m not saying civilization is collapsing, but the department of “We Have it Totally Under Control” has:

  • built a wall around their house and then knocked down ours
  • passed an equality act that handed down a death sentence to women’s rights
  • and they’ve grown the national debt while thoroughly destroying the size of the dollar

I don’t know where we’re headed, but we might implode. With that in mind—

What I think the U.S. will look like in a post-imploded world 

There will be many priorities right after the implosion, and essential workers will be needed back on the frontline. In case you’re wondering how useful you’ll be in rebuilding our country, I’ve gone ahead and listed what I think will be the top eight careers on the rise.

Starting with number eight and working my way to the number one job that will be needed post-implosion:

8. The Massage Therapist. There are going to be a lot of stressed-out people.

7. The Barista. We’re still going to want our coffee.

6. The Uber Piggy-Back Driver. Gas-powered cars will be outlawed and electric cars will have dead batteries – but people will still want their Amazon deliveries.

5. The Librarian. Hard-bound books are going to be sexy again.

4. The Food Taster. As tribes begin to form, the leader of each tribe is going to need a food taster if they want to stay alive.

3. The Complainer. Because there’s always one.

2. The Algebra Teacher. We all know how important algebra is to succeed in life.

And the number one job that will be in demand after the implosion is The Storyteller. We all need storytellers to tell us a good story before we go to bed—you know, by the fire. But mostly, we’ll need speech (used freely) to creep back in. Debating and disputing. Sharing and educating. Entertaining and engaging. Connecting and influencing. 

Whatever you’re currently doing, I say start training for your future. You never know when disaster is right around the corner. Whether it’s a zombie apocalypse, a power grid failure, a meteor smashing into the earth, or an implosion by executive order, you need to go into the collapse knowing what job you are meant to do. Fostering a brand new society will take more than just that fighting spirit that is harboring inside you. It will need essential workers.

Every March 1

This is not us. [Source: Getty Images]

Today is my daughter’s birthday, and as much as I want to celebrate this day, I am not prepared. I never am. You see, today also marks 22 years since my dad’s death. When I look at the calendar, the first thing I see is my father dying all over again. Every March 1, while I know I am moving further away from his time with me, I am incredibly taken by surprise at how emotional I get. I can remember every brutal detail about the hospital room, but I can’t remember his voice. I swear, keeping his memory alive is getting harder and harder as time passes. More than two decades later, and I’m not prepared for this day.

Truth be told, our relationship was nothing less than an uphill battle. Yet, the process of living without him still is challenging. There are moments that I miss. Moments of him just being there, being a dad. I think while I was growing up, he was in this profound struggle; I picture him fighting this epic battle inside – and not winning. I don’t ever remember not wanting to be his daughter, but I also don’t remember loving being his daughter. And it’s not because of the things he did, but it’s the things he didn’t do. He didn’t tuck me in or kiss me good night. He didn’t help me with homework. He didn’t pull me onto his lap, tell me stories or spend any time with me at all. No daughter needs grand gestures; it’s all about the little things… and physical affection. But still, he was my dad.

Time marches on. There’s nothing I can do to stop it. But it certainly feels like from here on out, staying connected to my father will be more challenging. He’s more gone now than he was yesterday or ten years ago, and each new day, new year, new decade, he’ll be further away. Someday I’ll have lived longer without him than with him. Accepting this seems like adding a new layer to my grief.

And I’m not prepared for that day.

In a few hours, I’ll see my daughter. We’ll hug and I’ll hold on to her a few seconds longer than she’ll probably want—but I’ll be too busy flashing back to the time she turned five in that brutal hospital room.

Happy birthday, Haley. I miss you, dad.

Trauma is a tour-de-force. And that’s a toxic state for the body.

Disclaimer: The lede in this story is boring. It’s about food and carbs. Barely a topic worth titling. But if you read past the boring lede, it gets interesting. I also stop talking about food. But there’s this sliver of analogy so I have to go there, and sadly you do, too. Rally on, team.

You cannot beat food cravings until you address the reason why they are actually happening. I’m not talking about, “I’m eating ice cream. Why am I eating ice cream? Because I’m sad. Why am I sad? Well, the WiFi is out again.”

Whenever you eat, the end-user of that food isn’t your stomach; it’s your cells. If you’ve ever eaten starches and sugars and felt even more hungry afterward, you probably have a more serious underlying issue that needs prompt attention. 

When you eat refined carbohydrates (cookies, candy, the things that make up my delicious breakfast on most days), your blood sugar experiences a rapid spike due to all the glucose you just consumed. This is a toxic state for the body, so the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin is the messenger-hormone that lowers your blood sugar by shuttling the glucose into your cells. When insulin is not able to shuttle glucose into your cells, however, this is called insulin resistance. This means that although you just ate, you are actually starving on a cellular level. When you are in a state of insulin resistance, your brain receives the signal that you are still hungry – after all, you received zero useable energy. 

So those times that you feel like you are out-of-your-mind hungry and just can’t stop, it is because this dangerous cycle has been initiated in your body due to overconsumption of processed sugars. Hold on to that hat: you are not getting fat because you are eating more; you are eating more because you are getting fat. The more you continue to eat processed, refined sugars in excess, the more inefficient your cells become. To change this situation, you need to change the chemistry of the foods you consume by adding more protein, more fiber, more veggies, more quality healthy fats, and shifting to complex carbs instead of simple, refined sugars. 

THE POINT: Most people assume sheer willpower will get them to kick their sugar habit. But willpower does not address the biochemical imbalances that result from eating certain foods. In other words, you cannot ‘will’ yourself off sugar. To truly eliminate cravings, you must fix the root of the problem—the food’s chemistry. I said the chemistry of the food, not the purpose of the food. (And now you’ve reached the end of the boring lede. Congrats.)

The real story … 

Just as you can’t kick a sugar addiction with willpower, you can’t leave a traumatic event behind by merely putting it out of your mind.

I am not speaking for everyone when I say this, just myself, but 2020 was an avalanche of stress and trauma – one horrific ordeal after another. Lockdowns. Stay-at-home orders. Shuttered businesses. The virus. Not knowing anything about the virus. Being afraid to go to the store. Being afraid to stand beside a stranger. To breathe air. To touch things. I’m not exaggerating. At the start of the pandemic, I literally bought whatever I touched at the grocery store—and I only touched what I was willing to buy.

The paranoia was exhausting. The press briefings were confusing. The isolation was dreadful. Aye.

While 2020 was very traumatic, it’s also very over. The year is behind me, an opportunity is before me, and all that cringe-worthy stress-related COVID-talk is out of me. So I’m fine.

But I’m thinking…

I’ve said things like this before.

“I’m fine; (fill in the blank) is over.” 

But am I really fine? Let’s play a game.

Scenario 1: I am a teenager, and I talk back to my father (at the wrong time, of course), so he, being the non-communicative person that he is, does what he does best. He stops talking to me. His silence lasts for almost a full year. But then I grow up and I have lots of people in my life to talk to. I barely remember the year my dad wouldn’t talk to me.

Scenario 2: I find out my sister is having an affair with my husband. Well, you can’t pick your family, but you can select your divorce attorney. Becoming a single parent, although not ideal, does teach me a strength and independence that totally saves my life further down the road. But that period of my life is nothing more than a distant memory.

Scenario 3: I am in a romantic relationship with a man that I’m head over heels for – until I learn from my cyberstalker that he is married. After trashing his prized possessions (because), and moving to another state, he, too, becomes nothing more than a distant memory.

Or … maybe I refuse to speak in school, gain 100 pounds, tell people I am an only child, and make a deal with Cupid – keep your arrow away and I will not expose Valentine’s Day for what it is.

So am I really fine? 

It’s true that while our minds desperately try to leave trauma behind, our bodies keep us trapped in the past with emotions and feelings. And the inner turmoil cascades and ruptures most social relationships, leaving disastrous effects on marriages, families, and friendships. This is a toxic state for the body.

One does not need to be a combat soldier to encounter trauma. Trauma happens in all shapes and sizes, and it does not discriminate. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child, and one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body. One in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives, and one in eight witnessed our mother being beaten or hit. Whether you fall into one of these statistics or your trauma resembles something more to the tune of the above scenario’s, trauma is trauma. And while humans are resilient creatures, traumatic experiences leave traces – whether on a large scale (our history and our culture) or close to home (on our families with dark secrets being kept for generations). They also leave traces on our minds and emotions, our capacity for joy and intimacy, and even our biology and immune system.

The scope of the trauma that billions of Americans endured during 2020 is immeasurable. While some effects of the trauma might be seen right away for some of us, others might not be so lucky and the trauma will manifest long into the future – affecting us in a myriad of ways. Khaled Hosseini in The Kite Runner writes:

“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975 … That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past … Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”

Imagine the scars of 2020 for some of us: a loved one dies and we were not able to be there to hold their hand, say goodbye – or bury them; the neighborhood store that’s been a part of the community, or maybe it’s your family’s, and it’s been in business for 75 years is forced to close its doors forever; you lose your child to suicide because he or she couldn’t navigate what adults couldn’t deal with either; what if you couldn’t buy food for your family – or bake your child a birthday cake; what if you were forced out of your home – maybe you have three kids, or pets, or you live alone; what if you weren’t able to visit your aging parents; or maybe you are the aging parent and you’re not allowed to see your children or grandchildren. These are emotional traumas. What about physical traumas? You’re shut in with your abusive mate; you’re not able to fill your medical prescriptions on time; you’re not able to have that surgery or see that dentist, or take your dog to the Vet after he is hit by a car and his leg breaks.

These traumatic experiences didn’t disappear because the ball dropped in Times Square and we flipped our calendars.

Imagine how these life experiences will play out in our bodies’ function and malfunction years from now. It will take going beyond symptom relief to connecting with our vital energy so that one day we might once again be able to steer our own ship.

Years ago, I decided I wanted to be immovable. I wanted to be hard to knockdown. I didn’t know enough of myself to be those things in life, but I figured if my body was solid, maybe I would follow her. So I lifted heavy weights and I built muscle – and I became hard to knock over. Immovable.

Lately, though, I’ve wanted to be more fluid. I’ve wanted to bend and twist and sway. Flow. I no longer want to be rock-like. Maybe it’s because I’m not so scared anymore. Or perhaps it’s because I’m not sure I truly want to be immovable. I think I want to be more alive than that. I’ve spent long stretches of my life determined that one way of moving is the right way. Really, all that meant was I was terrified to move in the wrong way. And if I clung to one thing that was sort of working, at least then I wasn’t wrong.

I don’t know what the billions of people will do – today or tomorrow – or how they’ll discover their pathway to recovery (or if they’ll realize they need one). I only hope they do. My heart aches for what they’ve experienced. But if I know anything at all it’s that you can’t will away a craving, and you can’t turn the calendar on hurt or heal. Trauma is a tour-de-force. And that’s a toxic state for the body.

Is ignorance bliss? The question is too big for a coin toss.

To know or not to know—that is the question. There’s still a lot going on in our country, and I waffle between wanting to stay informed and wanting to remain blind to it all. Truth be told, I am a knowledge-is-power, the-truth-will-set-you-free kind of girl. But is ignorance really bliss? Or not? Never? Or sometimes?

I’ve read plenty of poems that reminisce about the bliss of childhood with its happy-go-lucky days unmarred by the sad truths of adult life. Poems that reveal a twofold perspective that not only is ignorance bliss, but knowledge is misery.

But is childhood really all that blissful? Mine wasn’t. Mine was messy.

Is adulthood really all that miserable? Mine isn’t. Plus, when you’re an adult in today’s world, ignorance-is-bliss means you have an STD tomorrow.

So what’s my answer? While, yes, this grown-up knowledge brings misery, and with it, whatever idealizations I had about the world are sullied. And yes, this is a necessary part of growing up. But I also believe it does not necessarily need to lead to misery.

I listened the other day while a friend described how disappointed he is in the country and that he’d no longer fly his American flag. January 20th tarnished his views on the people – citizens and leaders. He’s decided everyone is corrupt and disgusting. With that, he said he’s checking out… he’s “leaving the room.” In my opinion, he made this decision out of anger and outrage, and what’s blissful about that?

Seventy-four million people – probably more – aren’t walking out of the room with their hands up and heads down. They understand the stakes are high and that there’s still work to be done.

I’m choosing to stay informed. I’m deciding to get involved.

Where do I start? What do I do? And how do I keep from going mad? I’ve never been involved in politics. I’m barely an observer but with a hot opinion on things versus an involved citizen well informed on everything from campaigns to capitols.

For starters, I’m reading.

A lot.  

I’m reading everything, starting with Newton’s third law of motion: There is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. It’s fantastic how this theorem illustrates human thinking in general. Perfect example: first, we elected Barack Obama, then we elected Donald Trump.

I’m also reading this, Plato’s description of democracy. And this, the trial and death of Socrates. There is a bona fide relationship between political science and philosophy. Political science asks questions like: What should the State do and what should it not do? Which are the best laws and policies? What social and political reforms should be introduced by the State? Which is the best form of government? What are the right and ideal political conduct? And to answer these questions, Political Science enters the realm of Philosophy. (If only I paid attention in school, I’d have already known this.)

Staying-in-the-know has also informed me on something else of great importance. 

Arizona Republicans have lost three Senate races in a row. (I live in Arizona.)

In case you’re unfamiliar, Arizona is home to what is essentially America’s biggest suburb in Maricopa County. This area is vaster than four states and way too dense. Maricopa County is where political strategists look for that focus group on steroids. Joe Biden’s narrow win in Maricopa County by 0.3 percentage points is what put him over the top. Our current Governor Doug Ducey is in his second term and cannot run for a third. He was a solid contender to run for the U.S. Senate in 2022, but his sins against Trump caused him to fall out of favor with his Republican party. Crossing Trump. Yeah, there had to be a price. 

Now that I know this, I plan on volunteering with the Republican Party of Arizona. Whether I’m stapling papers and stuffing envelopes at the headquarters or helping in another role, I’ll donate my time to connect to my community in hopes of making it a better place.

This is good and well. I’m more informed and I’m working to make a difference, but how do I keep from going mad.

Social media. The only platform I’m on is Instagram. I’m still trying to figure out how to stay out of the algorithm kill zone. But until then, I am purging my follow list. To date, I have unfollowed about a hundred accounts. I’m also scrolling past the meme’s – they’re nothing more than venom and vitriol, regardless of who they’re poking fun at.

The social media algorithm is a true-blue hot button topic for me. And because I’m keeping informed instead of shutting it all out, I’ve come to realize that other people are just as concerned. I’ve discovered Prince Harry has a lot to say about social media and its role in creating conspiracy theories and disconnecting users from reality. He hasn’t been someone I’ve had much interest in. Still, I came across an essay he wrote where he called on business leaders to rethink how they fund the advertising systems that spread false information on social media. In his words, “…we are losing loved ones to conspiracy theories, losing a sense of self because of the barrage of mistruths, and at the largest scale, losing our democracies.” He added, “We are all vulnerable to it, which is why I don’t see it as a tech issue, or a political issue—it’s a humanitarian issue.” I certainly can get behind this! 

I’m not sure how to attack this crisis – and yes, it’s a crisis. But I know that there are people who care, people who still believe in the best of humanity. And for as long as they remain out there, vocal and working to create change, I’ll continue educating myself so that I, too, can do the right thing.

Are you convinced yet that knowing is better and that it doesn’t have to be maddening? 

No? OK, let’s talk COVID.

The recent pandemic has caused many of us to look at our health in new ways. In addition to practicing good hygiene and recommended social distancing methods, staying fit and maintaining a healthy weight plays a role in the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and recovery outcomes. There’s been a lot of information coming out about pre-existing conditions, co-morbidities and age, but what do you know about weight? Body mass index (BMI) compares weight to height and is a common means to measure body fat. Calculating a person’s BMI is also used as a screening tool for obesity. To calculate your BMI, use this calculator

Now, what does your BMI say about you? According to the CDC, if your BMI is 30 or higher, it falls within the obese range. If your BMI is 40 or higher, it falls within the obese range and is also sometimes categorized as “extreme” or “severe” obesity. 

Why is this important to know? The CDC states that obesity worsens outcomes from COVID-19 due to an impaired immune function. Want to know what else? While studies are still underway regarding the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and obesity, it has been proven that common flu vaccines do not work as adequately in people with obesity. Yes, per the CDC, studies indicate obesity may be linked to lower vaccine responses for numerous diseases. COVID-19 has created the perfect storm for people who struggle with weight. 

So tell me, was it better not knowing this information?

I say ignorance is not bliss if it comes with throwing in the towel. Find something that matters and pursue what is right and worthwhile. Take that journey.


Knowledge is power, and it’s necessary to build a better world.

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.