Have hope

Everything is in flux. The future is unclear, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have hope.

Yes, a virus is ravaging our world, our countries, our neighborhoods, our lives. Fear is everywhere.

Last week, I saw a woman open the door with one hand and the other one looked like it was cupping something small like a baby hamster. And, when she crossed the threshold, she put her hands together and started to rub them. That’s when I realized she had hand sanitizer with her cupped hand.

Our world is changing. We now have to distrust everything we touch, thinking that it might be infected.

The world has changed. And we have no idea where it’s going.

But you can have hope.

You can know that the sun will rise again. You will feel the breeze on your cheek, watch the buds blossom, smell the sweet spring air. Summer is coming.

You don’t need to live in fear, believe the worst. You can still see that things can get better, will get better.

Humanity will learn. Humanity will grow.

So will you.

jordan-wozniak-xP_AGmeEa6s-unsplash
Photo by Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash

Want more words of encouragement?

Get weekly notes straight from my brain into your inbox, crafted to make your day and life better.


 

Just survive

Thriving is great, but sometimes surviving is the best you can do.

Because, you know, life gets crazy.

Jobs get lost, companies go out of business, relationships break, people leave us, we get sick—pandemics happen: crazy: Those are the moments that aren’t controllable and cause us great pain.

Right now, the world can feel like it’s ending and you’re sitting at home worrying. But that only makes things worse.

Worrying makes you despair. But do not do that. Resist. Move forward.

Moment by moment, walk if you can. Crawl if you must.

Start doing what it takes to stay alive. Survive.

Sell that car, extra house, go to a food pantry, self-quarantine, wear a face mask. Do what it takes to live another day.

Who cares if people think you’re doing badly. Who cares if they point and laugh? This isn’t about them. It’s about you.

It’s about you making it to tomorrow, living day by day, getting a fighting chance. That’s it. So appearances be damned.

Make it through today.

These are terrible times. Don’t let your pride or the opinions of others or even your own opinion of yourself stop you from getting through this season.

Take that handout, ask for help, make that request.

Find a way through the crazy.

Survive.


Books to help you survive:

The Outsiders (affiliate): This classic young adult novel will help you get your mind right in this difficult times; it has helped me. And, to be honest, it distracts me from my own struggles so I don’t dwell on them. It’s a great story and wonderfully written and is about the survival of rich and poor kids, who battle each other, but are finding that they both have their own struggles. I hope it serves you well and that you enjoy it as much as I am.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (affiliate): The author, Angela Duckworth, puts forth the idea that talent or genius isn’t what fundamentally drives success. It’s grit. Now, I haven’t broken into this book yet, but it is on my to-read list and comes highly recommended by the people I follow. I mean, grit sounds like something we all need a little bit more of these days.

Want more words of encouragement? 

Get weekly notes straight from my brain into your inbox, crafted to make your day and life better.


 

 

Get things done when working from home (even with kids)

img_3507

Working from home can sound fantastic, with all of that freedom and no commute, but it’s not always easy.  Sometimes it can feel impossible. But it’s not. 

Yes, you get to roll out of bed and be at your desk in a couple of steps without even needing to put a shred of clothing on to make a living, which is glorious, in theory. But getting out of bed to get to your desk across the room can be a challenge.

And there aren’t the usual social motivators and interactions that we get in an office, like other people looking busy in their cubicles, serendipitous meetings, or random water cooler conversations. Working from home can be lonely, especially if you live alone.

If you have kids, you may not have enough aloneness. No, you have constant distractions throughout the day. Not that you don’t love your children. You do. But they do have an amazing knack for yanking your attention away from your work when you’re all at home, say, during a pandemic. 

Even before the “shelter in place” order was given, I have been working from home for years and love it, even with our two lovely and very active boys. 

But I need little hacks and tricks to make it work well and help me be more productive.

Here they are. 

Abuse your calendar 

Schedule what you will be doing every day, all day. Seriously.

Use your calendar—hard. When will you be at your desk producing? For how long? When will you have that call with that client, your coworker? When will you eat lunch? Mark it all down. 

Doing this is the digital version of having social expectations except you’ve put it on your online calendar. Doing that gives you just a bit of accountability, at least to yourself. 

If you need that extra boost of fuel, share the calendar with others. It doesn’t need to be with your boss or coworkers. An outspoken friend will do. You know, the one who will call you out and FaceTime you just to make sure you’re at your desk when you said you would be. 

Set better goals 

We often set goals like “get work done,” but that’s not specific enough to be helpful, especially when you’re at home where it’s like the Wild West of working and anything goes because there’s no one watching. So setting the right kind of goals is critical to your success.  

First, you should note what task you want to accomplish or what project you want to start and how much of it, broken into smaller tasks, you want to complete during a block of time in the day. Doing that will revolutionize the way you think about how you spend your time. 

Second, don’t make big goals; make them small and bite-sized, something you can accomplish in an hour or two. Don’t make them aspirational so it’s a challenge to accomplish them. No.

Make them easily accomplishable. That way, you won’t get demoralized and you will feel and be productive.

You’ll be surprised by how much this will increase your productivity.  

Get the bed out of you

Some of us have a hard time getting out of bed. It just happens.

If that’s you, you don’t just need to get out of bed, but you need to get the bed out of you. You need create the social pressure that will break that habit and start a new one.  So do this.

Schedule early morning phone or video calls. 

If there’s a coworker or client or friend that you need to talk to, schedule a video call with them at the beginning of the day.

That will get you out of bed, because no one wants to look like a schlep buried under their duvet with bed head in a professional context. That will force you to at least look presentable from your waist up. 

Sometimes, there’s nothing like embarrassment to get our bodies out of bed. 

For a less shame-driven method, ask your partner or that outspoken friend, from earlier, to make sure you’re up. And you should consider sharing your calendar with them. 

Take breaks 

If you’re a person who loves to work, that’s great. But sometimes it can be to our detriment. 

There are times when you just need to take a minute and relax. You know, do nothing, stare out the window, listen to music, drool, call a friend. Put it in your calendar: “Drool, 2:30pm to 3:00pm.” It can be for an hour or just half that. But do it. 

It replaces the random water cooler conversations and gives our mind’s the reboot that it needs. It’s the breather that provides us the energy to attack our work with a refreshed mind, a new lens, renewed vigor. 

Noise-canceling headphones 

Good headphones are a must, especially if you have a family. Really. 

I love my children but sometimes they are loud. They like to bang on things and run up and down the halls—and SCREAM. And, with schools canceled for who knows how long, any extra tool that helps me focus and get into a flow state is gold. 

These are the headphones I use (affiliate). They are 24 karats of pure goodness. I’ve tested almost all of the other ones and these have the best sound and noise-canceling quality. 

If you’re not a listening-to-music-while-you-work type of person, that’s great. Don’t play music on them when you work. These headphones will give you the silence-is-golden-space you seek.

The noise-canceling feature is magical: They shut out all external sounds, making you feel like you’re on some serene mountaintop with Buddha doing downward dog with him next to a blossoming cherry tree. Really. 

Set your kids’ expectations

It sounds cruel to tell your kids that you need to do work and can’t be disturbed, but it’s actually good for them. 

Our eldest is in kindergarten and he’s insatiably curious and extremely social. We cherish him for it. 

But when I need to work, those characteristics we appreciate aren’t very conducive for me working. He wants to ask me questions about what I’m doing. He wants my attention. He wants to hang out, even when I have my golden noise-canceling headphones on (which don’t block out his tapping on my shoulder, by the way).

So I talk to him about work and let him know that when I have my headphones on, Daddy is trying to focus on something. It’s not a one-time conversation, but it happens far less now. 

We also gave him his own work, which includes writing and reading and math lessons that he does while mommy and daddy tend to their tasks. 

Closing thoughts about working from home

Many of you may be working from home for the first time. And it’s not easy to get into it in the beginning. But after you use some of these tools and figure out others that work well for you, it is one of the best ways to maximize your time and gain unparalleled freedom. 

Yes, these are extraordinary times. But they are also an opportunity to learn new skills and expand your ways of working. 

For more information about working from home, check out Remote: Office Not Required, a book about working remotely (affiliate). The founders of Basecamp, the project management tool, wrote it. They allow their entire team to live and work wherever they want. 

But no matter where you’re working, whether in cubical or in your undies at home, I hope you grow every day. 

And most importantly, stay safe and well. 

Lots of love,

John


 

Get weekly notes straight from my brain into your inbox, crafted to make your day and life better.


 

 

Remembering our way into the future

We used to live next to The Whitney Museum.

From our windows we would see long lines of people, snaking around the modern white building, waiting to absorb contemporary art, as the sun set spraying its varied colored glow over the city with sea breeze air wafting in and around the west side streets.

Now it’s empty. The Whitney. The streets. The city. All of it.

Before we moved from NYC last Wednesday the virus case count was still relatively low, under five hundred. Now at this writing it’s mushroomed to over twenty thousand, with no sign of it slowing down.

Life can change in an instant.

A pandemic apparently does that. New York was thriving. Full of life. Alive. Now it’s on life support. Sure, it has buildings. But they are shells without the people inhabiting them. The sidewalks, once teeming with feet, are bare.

Barrenness is everywhere.

One moment you live in a city swarming with activity, the next moment the same city is quiet as death.

I don’t write this to make you sad.

This is about remembering what life was like in a city I love, that was filled with mirth, possibilities, dreams, hopes.

These words are about not forgetting, reminding myself—you— that things were not always filled with fear, sickness, nor will they remain as they are.

They will improve.

See, it’s easy to get swept into the pain, the loss, the panic, the scarcity of toilet paper. It sweeps you up and takes you wherever it goes like a raging river.

But, remembering a different time, better times, in these moments of agony is an act of defiance against the darkness that wants to take any shred of light you have.

Be hopeful.

For me, hope is best cultivated in faith. In dire times only an infinite God who took on flesh and suffered as I suffer and bled for me, you, us, so that we can be in relationship with Him is a balm to my soul and wings for my heart. With that, I can fly, even in a starless night.

But even if you do not believe as I do—fair enough.

As we remember, we shouldn’t live in the past. That is gone. It remains as a relic of a bygone time that can never be resurrected, but it can be referenced. It allows us to see what could be in the future.

Humanity has survived horrible times; history is riddled with them: other pandemics, The Great Recession, The Great Depression, World War II, and so many other wars, diseases, disasters.

Feeling like the world is teetering on the edge of a dreadful abyss isn’t a new experience.

Yes, at the moment we are swallowed in the blackness of night. But the dawn always comes.

And one day we will see the streets bustling with people buzzing around to swim in the beauty and majesty of the city.

We will live.

When you worry, think this

Daily bread. in worrying times, it’s what we need—everyday.

It’s less about food and more about frame of mind. It’s about shrinking your fear and growing your faith.

When we worry, stress, or fret about the present, the future, whether there’s a pandemic or not, daily bread sets our mind aright.

It keeps us focused on the present, the now. It’s resting on the fact that we have enough and that tomorrow will be provided for.

It is a Christian phrase that Jesus taught, reminding His followers that God provides and that they shouldn’t be concerned for tomorrow.

And I believe that.

But even if you don’t, the idea still has great use in your life.

It’s an image of contentment, being present in the moment and grateful. It’s a recognition that you have enough. It rejects fear-based living.

When our minds bend to the future, we get ourselves into trouble. That’s when worrying occurs, the restless “sleep,” the terrible nights, the nightmares.

I get it. I have it. It happened to me yesterday. In some ways it’s happening right now, like a low-range hum, just below the surface, humming.

You probably feel it too.

The world is on shaky ground right now. Isn’t it? It feels wobbly. Unsure. We’re in uncharted territories.

Daily bread. That’s what we need, you need.

Just because you have a savings account full of money, a home, food, toilet paper, doesn’t mean you’re not fretting.

Having resources doesn’t shelter you from worry. It finds you no matter how secure you look.

Or, maybe you find yourself in want, out of a job, needing food, you might feel guilt or shame. Don’t. Survive. Who cares what others might say if you take a handout. These are terrible times. Find your daily bread.

Whatever situation you are in. In need or not, we worry.

But in those moments, I hope you are able to see that daily bread is before you.

Take it each day from the table of life.

Feast on it now. And live.


To pass this time, I’m reading:

  1. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It (affiliate): Top FBI negotiator, Chris Voss, shares his secrets and tactics of how he won negotiations in life and death situations so that we can negotiate everything from our salaries to getting our children to do what we want. I haven’t finished this yet, but it’s been an incredible read so far. His stories alone are worth the read. But the concepts are simple but awfully useful. This book is a great investment.
  2. The Great Gatsby (affiliate): Beauty—that’s why I read this book repeatedly. Fitzgerald, the author, paints spectacular pictures with words that stir the soul like an ocean breeze as you stand gazing at the sun dipping into the shimmering watery horizon. If you want to draw your mind away from anything awful, read this.
  3. The Four Loves (affiliate): Love is life. Yet, it’s so hard to define. Good thing C. S. Lewis does it for us in this seminal work that gives us a deeper understanding in this essential element of living so that we might all live better each and every day, with or without a pandemic.

Just because it’s scary outside, doesn’t mean we can’t cultivate beauty within. Books and beautiful words do that for us, friends. I hope you fill yourself with them.

Lots of love to you.

John

Get weekly notes straight from my brain into your inbox, crafted to make your day and life better.


 

 

Keeping perspective in crisis: This too shall pass

Yes, I’m afraid. But my fleeting fear rests on this fact: This too shall pass.

Coronavirus should be taken seriously. We shouldn’t just keep on hanging out with all of our cohorts, sharing food, drinks, laughs in a crowded space, spraying respiratory droplets all over each other like we’re watering the lawn. Gross, but true.

Yet, we can’t live in fear either. Perspective is needed. There have been other epidemics and pandemics. And some of them have been incredibly deadly: AIDS (2005-2012) killed 36 million people, Spanish flu (1918) 20-50 million, The Black Death (1346-1353) 75-200 million. And humanity has survived them all.

So in those quiet moments, when it’s easy to get swept up and think the darkest thoughts surrounded by darkness, where we only see visions that make us tremble, remember this: the days will not always be dark.

Perhaps this is an opportunity to do some business with the Divine. Global crises seem to make those opportunities more opportune than they would have been if everything was bright. But God is humble and takes us no matter what draws us near so long as we do.

But no matter what state your soul is in or if governments start to close down borders, schools, or our favorite eateries and pubs—this too shall pass.

All of the epidemics and global crises that have hit this world have passed. And like a morning mist, they disappear years later as we forget them almost as if they never happened.

We are living through grave and difficult times. It is extraordinary.

But the dawn is coming.

It may get darker before we see the light. But it will come. And it will scatter the shadows before you.

And we will be eating and drinking together, laughing again and sharing our respiratory droplets freely without care, in the days to come.


To pass this time, I’m reading:

  1. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It (affiliate): Top FBI negotiator, Chris Voss, shares his secrets and tactics of how he won negotiations in life and death situations so that we can negotiate everything from our salaries to getting our children to do what we want. I haven’t finished this yet, but it’s been an incredible read so far. His stories alone are worth the read. But the concepts are simple but awfully useful. This book is a great investment.
  2. The Great Gatsby (affiliate): Beauty—that’s why I read this book repeatedly. Fitzgerald, the author, paints spectacular pictures with words that stir the soul like an ocean breeze as you stand gazing at the sun dipping into the shimmering watery horizon. If you want to draw your mind away from anything awful, read this.
  3. The Four Loves (affiliate): Love is life. Yet, it’s so hard to define. Good thing C. S. Lewis does it for us in this seminal work that gives us a deeper understanding in this essential element of living so that we might all live better each and every day, with or without a pandemic.

Just because it’s scary outside, doesn’t mean we can’t cultivate beauty within. Books and beautiful words do that for us, friends. I hope you fill yourself with them.

Lots of love to you.

John

Get weekly notes straight from my brain into your inbox, crafted to make your day and life better.


 

This is one of the best ways to see your pain

Pain is awful. But it can be good if you choose it to be.

As if fearing the effects of a pandemic isn’t hard enough, the past several days, my wife and I have been working to manage our nine-month-old baby’s pain after his cleft palate repair surgery.

And that caused me to reflect on this subject that most of us hate but all of us experience: Pain.

road-trip-with-raj-_cbKur5I60A-unsplash
Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Our baby has been screaming. When he’s not screaming, he’s crying. Since the surgical work was on the roof of his mouth, any kind of eating and drinking is painful except for the fact that we’ve been pumping him full of painkillers.

Pain sucks—no matter who has it. I mean, if you have it or your baby has it or anyone else you love has it, it’s all awful. We want it to end, quickly, instantly.

And that’s the culture we live in. We want pills that take away the pain—immediate gratification. For us, pills and pain often go together. No one wants to suffer.

I’m not here to say that using pain medication isn’t good sometimes or that we shouldn’t practice pain management after your kids gets surgery. That’s not my point.

 

Pain is about mindset

Our mindset around pain is the point.

Most of us have a deep aversion to pain and will avoid it at all costs. And saying that pain produces good sounds awkward at best, wrong at worst. But it’s true.

Pain often produces goodness.

Isn’t this how pain often works. It’s terrible, really. We suffer and yearn for the time when it will end, begging God or anyone else to help us as we squirm, complain, rage. Taking medication when we can, self-medicating if we must.

But more often than not, if we decide to quiet ourselves and study the pain or accept it or absorb it, it produces some kind of good somehow somewhere along the line. It’s either the pain itself that teaches us something that we needed to learn or changes us somehow to make us better or grants us something that ends up being good, like my son’s surgery.

As a high schooler, I played sports, and I remember the great suffering I experienced during practices in August under the oppressive humid midwestern heat. When I wasn’t thinking about throttling my coaches for being sadistic middle-aged men, I learned something invaluable: Grit. When I felt like quitting, even dying, I was able to move forward. I could run another sprint, go another play, dig a little deeper. Pain taught me that.

 

Pain is a teacher

Pain is one of our best teachers.

We all face it, experience it. Don’t we? Parents failing us, friends leaving us, lovers betraying us, children lying to us, that old injury, migraines, or our bodies aging are all painful.

And now, during these times of greater uncertainty than we already live with, a pandemic closes in on our lives, as we watch the financial markets plummet each day, our companies panic, our sports teams shut down, our world dazed. It’s dizzying. It’s terrifying. It hurts. A lot.

And it’s in those moments that an opportunity to become greater presents itself. Pain can make us extraordinary.

It’s teaching us. It’s teaching you now. The question is, Are you willing to learn? Can you be a good student?

Patience, humility, kindness, empathy, grit are all molded into us, not in the good times, but in the bad. It’s in those terrible moments in life, when we want to hide but choose not to, those characteristics are forged, strengthened, codified into our minds, our hearts, our souls.

In pain, we’re being taught. We learn.

 

Growth means choosing pain

If you do, you will grow. It’s that simple. It’s just isn’t that easy.

Any great feat demands pain.

Want to get fit? Pain. Want to grow your career? Pain. Want to have a family? Pain. Want to have good relationships? Pain. Want to become a better person? Pain. It’s always a part of the equation of how you improve.

But that’s a choice. You can choose to see pain as your enemy or as a teacher. You can choose to see pain as the worst thing in life, or you can own it and believe that it will cause you to live better.

 

Closing thoughts

I’m not saying we should love pain. Just because it produces goodness doesn’t mean pain is good. In and of itself, it isn’t.

And I’m certainly not saying to go and seek it out. It’s a natural part of life. You don’t need to seek pain, it will find you.

Pain isn’t the objective.

It’s a path that can lead you to better things, if you so choose.

 


Three of the best books I’ve read on pain:

  1. A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis (affiliate link): Lewis shares the experience of losing the love of his life and articulates facets of emotional pain that I never knew existed. And somehow when I was able to see them, it helped me heal and grow.
  2. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl (affiliate link): Frankl was a Holocaust survivor. He was at Aushewtiz and somehow made it out alive and not only that set the lens of his psychiatric training on his suffering. It will change the way you see suffering forever.
  3. Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis (affiliate link): Why do good people suffer? Why is their pain? If God is good, why do we suffer? Those are all good questions. And Lewis tackles them in this book. It has been one of my all time favorites to help me wrestle with the ache we all feel.

Get weekly notes straight from my brain into your inbox, crafted to make your day and life better.


 

Want another post about dealing with pain? People enjoyed this one.

Suffering is one of the best ways to find meaning

This post was inspired by the Victor Frankl’s book, about his lessons from surviving the Holocaust, I listed above. He experienced unspeakable atrocities and wrote a book about them. But it’s less about his suffering and more about what learned from them in order to find meaning. You will marvel at his words, stories, and learnings. And you will be better because of them.

Cleft repair surgery and coronavirus—a story

img_3136
Our baby right after birth

It was a beautiful morning in the city, with spring in the air and magic around every corner.

But for me, New York didn’t blossom in my eyes; it was different for us. I was taking our nine-month-old baby in for surgery. 

He had a cleft palate (and lip, but that was already repaired). A cleft lip and palate is a birth defect where the child’s face doesn’t fully close up on the upper jaw and lip and nose while in the womb. For birth defects, it is the best kind to have because it’s repairable. 

So that seemed manageable—scary—but doable. We could stomach it. But that wasn’t the only issue. 

There was another one. 

COVID-19. 

Our family has taken this very seriously. The two weeks before the surgery, we kept our six-year-old out of school and don’t know when he’ll go back. We canceled all meetings, lunches, get-togethers, everything—except the surgery. The only time we leave the apartment is to take a walk, only outdoors, in the fresh air. We have been on lockdown and, while we are locked in, we wash our hands every five minutes, literally. 

So then, on that beautiful morning, I was venturing out with our baby to go to a hospital—A HOSPITAL—where the sick go, which was something major for us. People who are infected might be there. But we thought it best to get the surgery done since the surgeon is one of the best at this repair, so we plunged into the great unknown. 

But I was prepared. I had a few face masks, gloves, and a will to get us out of there without getting infected. 

When I was there, I was the only one wearing a mask. I was that guy: The weirdo. Being Asian might have made the whole scene that I was look worse, but I carried on. There were a few people who reacted. A nurse asked me if there was a reason why I wore the mask. I said, “There’s a pandemic going on.” And a young kid sneezed and then made an exaggerated sneezing and coughing noise as if to imply my mask was unnecessary. And I got a strange look here or there but, for the most part, it was business as usual. 

The staff was kind and courteous and understanding, but there was a feeling that I shouldn’t have been wearing the mask. One nurse even mentioned that there was a shortage of them. (But I kept on thinking about the two countries—Taiwan and Singapore—who have effectively stopped the spread of the virus, and one of the measures they used was getting everyone to use face masks.) Doctors and nurses washed their hands and used hand sanitizer. But no one washed their hands for twenty seconds as the CDC has recommended. (No one; except me; ok, I do it for more like fifteen seconds.) It was odd to have such a prestigious institution as that hospital not be more vigilant and take this more seriously, especially since this unit was only for children. 

I asked the nurses and doctors what they thought about the Coronavirus. They said that it was an issue. But it almost sounded more like a nuisance than a real problem. 

And they might be right. 

But I kept on thinking “What if it’s not just a nuisance? Why not practice more precautions? Why not wash your hands more, for longer, thoroughly? Why not wear face masks? Why not work harder to stop the spread?”

One conversation I had with a nurse concluded on this idea, “We have to live our lives.” 

That seems to be the pervasive thought that I see: “I won’t let some stupid virus stop me from living my life.”

And I’ve got to say that I agree with that in most crisis situations. In WWII, the motto, “Keep calm and carry on” is inspiring especially when you think about Londoners keeping their lives going even when the Nazis bombed the hell out of their city. That mindset of never letting fear stop the way we do life is beautiful. That’s courage. That’s good. Don’t live in fear. Hoorah!

But this is different.

Our bodies betray us. Anyone can be a carrier. All the virus needs is a warm body: yours, mine, your buddies. And our common behaviors spread the very thing that hurt our neighbors, friends, parents, people. With each handshake, kiss, cough, sneeze, we can advance illness, and even death, unbeknownst to us, and them. 

That’s how this virus works: it’s stealthy. People can be contagious even if they don’t feel bad—or asymptomatic. That means you don’t have to feel like death curled up next to you with some doctor in a hazmat suit hovering over you, laboring to keep you alive, to be infectious. No. You can just feel a little off, or nothing at all, and sneeze and give it to someone else. Just like that.

This virus grows exponentially. One person on average gives it to two. That’s crazy and freaky. So one becomes two, and two becomes four, then eight, and before you know it you have a hockey stick on a chart of people all with the virus. That’s scary.

We should all be scared. Because people die from this. Our parents, friends, loved ones, they can all get it and it can possibly be fatal.

If we don’t stop how we live our lives this virus can stop it for us, for our loved ones.

Eventually I walked our precious son into the unnaturally bright OR to have people cut our son open in order to heal him, but I feared less the knife and more the invisible enemy that was too small to see. 

After leaving him there, I waited in the waiting room. There were other parents and families. 

I did what I could to fill the time, making some phone calls, praying, and reading with my face mask on, with people looking at me, as they coughed and sneezed around me, as the hair on my neck pricked up, with fear. Dread filled me. 

The operation was supposed to take two hours, but it was solidly passed that. I was panicking. You know when you start thinking those irrationally dreadful thoughts? You know, the bad ones, really bad ones. That’s what I was doing. 

After two and a half hours the surgeon came out and greeted me with a smile. Relief washed over me. I smiled back. But he couldn’t see it under my face mask. I stood up and he told me my baby was well. I was so grateful.  

“They’ll call you back in a bit to see him,” he told me as he held out his soft, supple, well-manicured hand, only the way a world-class surgeon, with seven-figure hands, could. I clasped it. It felt good. It felt bad. And as he walked away, I followed him a few feet away and thrusted my hand under the huge hand sanitizer dispenser that hospitals have everywhere. And a white foamy cloud of liquid gold fell into my palm, with that distinct mechanical dispensing sound that they all make. Then I smeared it all around my hands, covering them over and over, not just removing any danger from them, but also washing away my fears. 

After a much longer time than I had expected, they finally welcomed me back. And when I saw him all I wanted to do was hold him and love him and be grateful all was well and hope that he was. 

After a few hours they discharged us even though we were supposed to stay the night. Before the surgery I told the doctor my concerns about staying overnight with the virus ramping up. He understood my concerns and put in the order to release us if our baby ate well enough. A baby not feeding is a real worry after they’ve had the roof of their mouth worked over. But he ate. And we were released. 

That was kind. Very kind. The doctor took some risk to let us out so that we could have some peace of mind. It was health care at its best, making caring for the patient the protocol, even if he had to break the protocols to do that. 

The fact is we don’t know if our baby, or I, have the virus or not. Before I left that morning I told my wife and our six-year-old son not to touch me when I returned: no hugging, kissing, etc. 

When I walked back home, they were both up, waiting for us. My firstborn drew a sign out of crayons to welcome us back. I felt loved even though we didn’t touch. We used words to express the feelings we felt to wrap one another with love and cover each other with the affection we carried in our hearts. 

We don’t know if we are carrying anything else in our bodies, but we will see. 

Regardless, it was good to be home. 

It still is. 

Experience we all need

“Experience” is just another word for making a lot of mistakes. Everyone prizes experience. So go get it. Try things. Break things. Do things. Don’t try to be perfect. Try to be effective. Contribute. Make things. Create value. And after a while. You can say that you’ve done this or that.

You’ll be experienced.

By Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

You can win at life by doing this

img_4571

Sometimes life is hard and feels impossible. But that’s when you should stop thinking about your life and focus on today.

Don’t try to tackle life, that’s too much to take on all at once. That’s how you get overwhelmed, depressed, worried.

Instead, just attack what you need to do at this moment: the tasks, the mico-goals, the wins (and loses). Do what you can do with what you know, right now.

Not tomorrow, next week, next year, next decade, don’t concentrate on those. That can kill you.

Don’t worry about the future unless you’re planning, dreaming, hoping. Set your big goals and big dreams.

But then, spend your time doing what needs to be done, now, to accomplish those goals.

To win in life, you need to fight today’s battles, win today’s fights.

And you’ll have a greater chance at winning in life.