Kindness has an undeniable and solid architecture.
My daughter Ellie is studying architecture in Copenhagen this year. Though we miss her smile and easy-going personality, she’s having the time of her life traveling Europe, taking in all of its architectural wonders and sending us photos of her watercolor paintings of Copenhagen. Architecture major. Art Minor.
Yesterday, my wife and I skyped with Ellie. She led us through a photographic journey of her recent trip to the World Expo in Milan, Italy. Advancing from photo to photo from each country’s incredible architectural and design installations, Ellie gave us a personal tour of all her curated photos. She then told us a beautiful little story about her new haircut.
I love little kittens and I hate poison oak. Turns out, I ended up with more than cat scratches last weekend. Aidan—my son—and David, a friend, and I had just finished a long day working at our 12 acre organic lemon and avocado grove.
Shoveling tons of dirt into the back of my truck, chain-sawing railroad ties, and stacking retaining wall bricks, we were building an entertainment patio space for our grove artist getaways. What could have been a long hot day had been minimized by a cool, soothing breeze that drifted over the rolling country hills from the Pacific. And so, it was just a long day lifting heavy things with lunch, laughter and a few water breaks.
At the end of the day, after locking our chain-link gate, we drove down the narrow road that borders our property. We quickly came to a halt by a small blue car stopped in the middle of the road. Two Hispanic ladies stood outside the car, peering into the bushes.
The Eastern Congo is a place of jaw-dropping beauty and unspeakable horror. Grab a map and you’ll see the Congo smack dab in the heart of Africa. It’s the second largest country in Africa; bigger than the whole of Western Europe. A massive land filled with vast jungles, crocodile-infested rivers and savannah as far as the eye can see, Joseph Conrad chronicled his real life adventures about it in his bestselling novel Heart of Darkness.
The truth of the Congo, then and now, is no fictional tale. Read on…
I was one of those guys who said I’d never do a triathlon. I grew up in the eighties when triathlon was just getting popular. I loved athletics and played Division I volleyball in college, but when NBC sports televised the annual Kona Ironman race, I told myself, “Amazing. Inspiring. Good for them.”
Watching the surging maelstrom of a couple thousand swimmers clobber each other like salmon fighting upstream was not my idea how I’d like to spend my weekend mornings. Coffee and the morning paper were much more relaxing and safer. I wasn’t going to drown in my coffee.
Last week, I was the grateful recipient of a bestselling author’s lavish generosity. A bit of back story is in order: My screenwriting co-author and I have been working on a project for several years now. As part of our research, we contacted a top expert on the life of one of our key characters. “Expert” is an understatement.
He is the leading authority on the subject matter who wrote an international bestseller. His research was meticulous. His travel extensive. His fame worldwide. His storytelling precise and compelling. Nobody knows more about our character than this guy.
You’re probably wondering, “Ok already, who is it?” I won’t mention his name because name-dropping irritates me. I will like you for who you are. Not for who you know. (A simple way for us to be generous to one another.) It’s enough to say this guy is a true professional; a researcher and writer with many book awards. His work speaks for itself…
Cultivating gratitude is a sure path to happiness.
If you’re in search of greater happiness, cultivating gratitude is a sure way to immediately change how you view yourself, your life and your circumstances. In my conversations with artists and people who want to bring greater beauty, meaning and purpose into their lives, a key question I often ask is, “How are you cultivating gratitude in your life?” It’s a question that often turns heads because it’s not what they expect to hear. And that’s just the point.
Cultivating gratitude is so subtle, it’s easily missed. Practicing gratitude is one the most important spiritual practices I can think of to radically transform how you view your immediate circumstances. Cultivating gratitude really works and here’s why…
Are you stumped? You have more options than you think you do.
Yesterday was Labor Day and I exerted my best to put the word ‘labor’ into the day. It was a national holiday, but no picnic in my backyard. After 19 years in the same home, we’re finally making some changes to the backyard. Thanks to the California drought, we’re swapping out half of our dog-destroyed back lawn for decomposed granite and patio stone work. On a small side slope next to my neighbor’s backyard, I’m moving my favorite plumeria trees by taking the larger ones out of terracotta pots and plunking them down on the slope.
But to make room for beauty, I first needed to get rid of a large, ugly tree stump. The thing had been lurking there for years in the corner, hidden by newly-removed bushes. Not causing anyone pain or harm. Yet. Submerged in the dirt, it was an arborist’s nightmare waiting to take out some-overconfident sop like me.
If you’re facing trouble, relationship conflicts, struggles and pain that could deepen your character, let me ask you a simple question: Are you backing down from trouble? Are you afraid to show trouble who you really are? Have you, somehow, bought into the lie that creating a beautiful life would be easy? That you would never be opposed? That conflict would never involve hard work to reach for creative solutions?
A friend of mine recently shared Hello Trouble, a great Gerber knife video with me and as you go into this weekend… (more…)
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestselling Eat, Pray, Love that came out a few years ago has some remarkable things to say about creativity, genius, writing and the creative life. Though I wasn’t a big fan of the book and all the accompanying merchandising that came with the movie, I do appreciate her honest search for integrating her creative and spiritual life. Read more…
This past weekend, I was reminded in a very vivid way to never underestimate the power of my presence. If you are prone (like me) to underestimate the power of your presence, I hope this story offers you an encouraging reminder. You’ve heard it said that ‘99% of life is just showing up’ and ‘people don’t care what you know until they know you care.’
Especially when you see a man go into labor.
Well, sort of. Krista, the kids and I had just returned home on Sunday from a summer family reunion. We were only home for an hour when one of my best friend’s sons came to the door and said, “Mr. O’Connor, my dad is lying on the bathroom floor.” Read on…