Just One Thing

My little girl, Beatrix, has many unique and endearing qualities. But, one of my favorites is this: With almost everyone she meets, she will notice and pick out one thing she likes and then tell them.

"I like your dress."

"That’s a pretty necklace you’re wearing"

"You have a nice smile."

"You are very handsome."

We are currently on a trip that is partly research for a future book and part vacation. Because of the sorts and frequency of encounters we have with people we have not met or only deal with in passing, I’ve had the occation to notice how much she does this. And I am always giddy at seeing the delight of these people, completely disarmed by the perceptiveness and charm of a six year old. One who always finds something nice to say about everyone.

She does this on her own and without prompting from either of us. It is not something we have explicitly or implicitly taught her to do. Nor does she see us do it with such frequentcy. Especially not with complete strangers or during transactional interactions (i.e store clerks, wait staff, etc.) as she almost always does. It’s just who she is.

It has occurred to me how much better everything might be if we all found one thing with everyone we meet and said something nice about it or them. Even (or especially) those times it is most hard to find something. For instance, someone we disagree with or someone we don’t particularly like.

It also has occurred to me that, in order to practice this regularly one must be fully present in their encounters. You can’t pay partial attention to the checkout person while rustling for your credit cards. You have to be fully present with them to notice the nice earrings they are wearing or the spectacular color of thier eyes. And, if you are more present with everyone you meet, you are also more present in that moment with yourself.

That said, I aim to take a lesson from my daughter and do so more often. Not just to make the world a bit better and someone else’s day a bit better but to at the same time make myself a bit better too.

This Could Help — New Book Available Today!

I have a new book I’m releasing today. It’s called, This Could Help.

Here’s what the book looks like:

tch-book-shot

There’s an eBook version too, of course. If you buy that one, it won’t look like this one. But, the stuff inside is just as helpful.

Here’s a bit from the introduction to give you an idea of what’s inside:

I’m going to try to keep this short so you can dig right in and see if there is something inside these pages that could help you. Let’s face it, we can always use a little help. A helpful idea or suggestion is sometimes all we need to set us in a positive direction. Every one of the essays and ideas presented here are things that I’ve had to figure out myself in order to solve a problem at some point along the way. So, my guess is that if I needed help in these areas along the way that others could benefit from that too.

The following is a combination of essays and ideas written over the past year or so and they certainly have the potential to help. Either to solve a problem you are facing right now or provide guidance for navigating through one in the future. Many of these have been published in various forms scattered amongst the places I frequent on the Internet. Some, have not. But all have been collected here in a way I feel serves those that need it most and the individual items best. I sincerely hope that you will find something within these pages that makes a difference.

It’s available right now in Paperback and ePub. More formats will be coming soon but that’s in the hands of the various eBook stores.

That said, I highly recommend the Paperback version. It features the beautiful cover and layout work of the best designer you should be using, Aaron Mahnke of Wet Frog Studios. . To sweeten the deal, you can get 30% off through today by using the offer code, FLASH30.

Regardless, I appreciate your even considering a purchase. The best gift you could give any writer is an engagement with the words they write. So thank you for yours.

The Right Words

My friend Michael and I had not a dinner together in a while. We had a regular dinner appointment on the second Tuesday of the month for years. But, then, life got in the way — mostly Michael’s. It changed rather dramatically a few months back. Not the least of which was being in a new relationship after years of not having been in one. So, I was willing to let our dinners take back seat. We’ve known each other for almost 20 years. He’d do the same for me.

So, it was great that we were finally able to get together recently over at a bistro near me. Dinner was great! Made especially good by the conversation. There was lot’s of catching up to do. We talked about life and love and creating the element of surprise in the seemingly mundane. We reminisced about the past and talked with excitement about future plans. Such things are what make a meal memorable.

But the memory of the evening that will stick out in my mind — the one that will last — came with desert. The waiter came over to ask if we wanted desert and describe our options. Among these was a type of pie neither Michael nor I had heard of before — Buttermilk Pie.

“What is that? I’ve never heard of it before.”, I asked. “What does it taste like?”

“It’s really hard to describe.”, explained the waiter. “But, I had a slice the other day and it is my new favorite pie. And, I’m not a big pie guy. If you order a slice. maybe you can weigh in.”

And, with that a gauntlet was thrown down — a challenge neither Michael nor I could refuse. The slices of pie were brought out and happily consumed. It was delicious. Yet, it was also immediately apparent why the waiter had such a hard time describing the taste. It was almost purposely elusive. The flavor was delicate. Not quite vanilla. Not sharp enough to even compare to a cheesecake. Nor was it creamy enough or sour enough or sweet enough to make an even comparison to anything else. It was almost cloud-like — etherial. Michael and I were both still at a loss when the waiter appeared again to take away our now empty plates.

“So, how’d you like it?”

“It was really good.”, I replied. Still unsure as to the answer to the obvious next question from the waiter.

“How would you describe it?”, he asked.

“It whispers tapioca.” Michael said with a sly smile after a considered pause. With those three words he completely nailed it. He managed to capture the entire experience of eating that slice of pie. He nailed the flavor, suggested the texture… All of it. The brilliance and exquisiteness of those three words left us speechless. Only nodding our heads in agreement and repeating them. It gave us all pause.

It is moments like this that I am reminded why I am a writer. I’m in love with and in awe of the power of language. The way a single word or just the right ones strung together can capture the whole of something otherwise only imagined. An entire experience can be encapsulated, examined, and then set free for others to bear witness to, all in an instant, with just three simple words.

This is why, as a writer, I keep a record of such reminders of this power. It’s a text file titled “Bits of Words and Wisdom”. Upon leaving the restaurant, adding “It whispers tapioca” to my file was my first priority. When I hear a cool word or interesting phrase that makes me stop and take notice — especially something that captures the imagination — I add it to this list. Sometimes, it is something from a conversation like the above. Increasingly, it is something I read — be it a book, a Tweet, or on a blog post. Sometimes it is from a video or something recorded. No matter the source it is added to this file soon after encountering it. Expedience is key, lest I forget it and lose it forever. Because these are the times to remember that words matter. Words mean things far beyond what you may find in a dictionary. Words are triggers and keys that blow open barriers and unlock doors to entire unknown universes.

The right ones are, at least.


I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

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