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Winning the War Against Inertia

20 Jan

I think of myself as a pretty action-oriented guy. While my wife was enjoying a well-deserved night out with her book club a few days ago, I herded the kids upstairs to bed, came back downstairs to start a load of laundry, learned from my son that a defective water bottle had flooded the bedding […]


3 Career Lessons I Learned From My Family

6 Oct

Being a good writer is synonymous with being a lousy father. That’s the takeaway from James Wood’s recent essay in The New Yorker about the awful parenting skills of some of 20th century America’s greatest authors – Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud and William Styron. “Can a man or a woman fulfill a sacred devotion to […]


My Daring Experiment with Losing Focus

29 Sep

“Focus!” It’s something I say to my kids at least a dozen times a day, sometimes a dozen times in the span of five minutes as we battle through homework, review proper etiquette with the toilet seat and try to get out the door to school. “Without the focus that I’ve perfected,” I want to […]


The Perfect Prayer for a Busy World

29 Jul

I devote an entire chapter in my book to the importance of living in the margins – those unfamiliar places in the physical world and within ourselves that make us a little squirmy or downright anxious. The only way to keep growing, I argue, is to regularly spend time doing things that make us uncomfortable. […]


Personal Reinvention: The Beef & Broccoli Principle

21 Jun

As part of our Mother’s Day celebration last month, I volunteered to make a dinner that was sure to be a hit with the entire family – a Chinese beef and broccoli dish. My wife, probably wanting to ensure that this special meal didn’t turn disgusting on her special day, volunteered as my sous chef. Using […]


What You Miss When Your Windows Are Closed

12 Jun

In our old house, the windows stayed closed. They were old, and only two of them had screens. And after a spastic bird bolted down our chimney, popped out of the fireplace and started flapping around the living room one February afternoon, we could never quite get over our fears of what might fly in […]


My Unproductivity Leap

1 Mar

How many people do you know who have quit a high-paying corporate job for one that pays $35 a month? In fact, how many people do you know who have walked away from a prestigious job for any reason?  If you’re like me, probably not many. Which is what makes Father Jim Martin’s In Good […]


5 Ways to Work Like a Monk

12 Feb

How many organizations do you know that have lasted a thousand years? I pay occasional visits to one of them – the Trappist order of monks that originated in France in the 11th century. These monks, tucked away in about twenty beautiful, remote monasteries around the United States, live a profoundly counter-cultural life free of […]


What Will You Stop Doing in 2013?

22 Dec

Over the next week or so, if you haven’t done it already, you might dream up some very grand New Year’s resolutions. And there’s almost no chance you’ll follow through on them. I’m not saying that to be a jerk. I’m merely quoting research from reliable sources, which tell us that the vast majority of […]


How to See What You’re Missing

26 Nov

My 5-year-old daughter woke up in a clingy mood yesterday, and I mean that quite literally. The timing was not good. What I needed most, after a couple hectic weeks involving some major projects at work, moving across town to a new house and getting it set up in time for Thanksgiving, was a little […]