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Our Most Underdeveloped Gift

15 Jan

Last April, poop fell from the sky and hit me. Twice actually. On the same day. Presumably not the same bird, though I can’t be sure of that. The first round landed square in the middle of my bald head on a bright, cloudless morning as I dropped the kids at school. The second connected with one of […]


When Your Dreams Exceed Your Reach

28 Jan

Sorting through some old files recently, I made a humbling discovery – a list of goals jotted down shortly before publishing my first book in 2012. Despite good advice from experienced authors about keeping my ambitions in check, I insisted on dreaming big. According to my list, I expected to sell 10,000 copies of the […]


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 […]


A Daily 5-Minute Cure for Our Own Pride

12 Aug

Even if we don’t think of ourselves as ambitious people, even if we have no designs on higher office or covet the nicest clothes or lust for a promotion, we all have our own little plans and dreams and schemes. There’s always something we’re chasing. And that’s good — without the thrill of the hunt, we wouldn’t have much […]


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 […]


2 Great Reasons to Relive Your Childhood

9 May

Last weekend my brother and I spent some time in Pennsylvania helping our parents empty some things out of the house in which they’ve lived for 35 years. At one point, I came across a set of small wooden, colored blocks with the alphabet spelled out on them. They’d belonged to my dad when he […]


A Foolproof Cure for Dreary Monday Mornings

30 Apr

Monday morning began the way all weekday mornings start in our house – with my son waking at 6:10 a.m. and jumping out of bed with such gusto that the light fixture a floor beneath him shakes and rattles like it’s been hit by a falling tree. I know this because this light fixture is […]


Career Advice from a Catholic Priest (Who is Also My Uncle)

17 Apr

I once made a list of the best things that have happened in my career, and I was responsible for almost none of them. Yes, I’ve worked hard to take advantage of opportunities. But the fact that the opportunities arrived at all usually had little to do with me. There was, for instance, the journalist […]


4 Steps to Making (Some) Sense of Your Life

15 Mar

From a very young age, I’ve always enjoyed recapping my day, kind of like an anchor on the evening news. Perhaps it was this compulsion that led me to become a journalist. It’s only been in the past couple years, however, that I’ve learned that my Brian Williams-like reviews of the day (“Breaking news out […]


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 […]