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The Schnauzer Won’t Let Me Sleep In. But It’s Ok.

13 Feb

My wife and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary this spring, and thus far we’ve avoided succumbing to that traditional wrecker of marriages – the thermostat. I like a cooler house. She likes a warmer one. Like Congress, it’s unlikely we’ll ever reach a compromise. So we remain content to sneak around the house […]


Taming Our Insatiable Need for Praise

5 Feb

My kids brought home their school report cards this week, and the drama of opening and studying them instantly took me back to the 1980s, when these flimsy sheets of paper would largely determine my sense of self-worth every nine weeks. During my sophomore year of high school, I wound up with first quarter ‘Cs’ […]


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. […]


The Art of Tree Removal & Brain De-cluttering

23 May

If you haven’t paid to have a tree removed from your yard recently, here’s a tip: It’s expensive. If you decide to have a dozen trees cut down, it’s really damn expensive. Still, when we moved into our house last fall, we knew it had to be done. The backyard resembled a forest – and […]


3 Reasons to Write Down Your Life

21 Feb

In this Lenten season of repentance, I owe the late French writer Albert Camus an apology. In The Messy Quest for Meaning, I write about falling under the spell of Camus’ novels about a meaningless, Godless, gloomy world during my senior year of high school. I worshiped the guy back then, owned every one of […]


How to Keep an Open Mind

16 Jan

Right around college graduation, a great realization arrived: I needed a job – and soon. Given that I was an English major and actually qualified to do very little, I should have started thinking about this years earlier. But it was too late for that – and so I embarked on my Quest to Find a […]


When Your Need to Impress Gets Out of Control

17 Oct

Back in high school, my closest friends – and also a number of people who hated my guts – called me Mr. Resume. This was a well-deserved nickname, and it wasn’t a compliment. I’d earned it through my relentless devotion to padding my resume for college applications. Yearbook. Newspaper. Track team. National Honor Society. Writing […]


4 Tips for Slowing Down Your Overworked Brain

11 Oct

Last week I drove solo from North Carolina to western Pennsylvania for a family funeral. This meant contending with a hellacious rainstorm and then steering through fog so thick it almost made the 18-wheelers in front of me invisible – and that was just the first 90 minutes of the trip. Another seven hours passed […]


3 Simple Remedies for Hurry Sickness

7 Sep

Yesterday morning I had to be at work extra early for a meeting with my boss. As I scrambled around getting ready, my wife asked me to turn the air conditioning down a few notches. She thought it felt too warm in the house. A quick glance at the thermostat revealed she was right – and […]


4 Stress Relievers I Learned from Picking the Wrong Toll Booth Lane

15 Aug

In his excellent book Falling Upward, Father Richard Rohr says he has “prayed for years for one good humiliation a day, and then I must watch my reaction to it.” I don’t need to pray for humiliations. They arrive anyway. Last weekend, my wife, kids and I drove from North Carolina to Pittsburgh, Pa. for […]