Enjoy Creation

As a first-time participant in Reverb10, I am enjoying the process of reflecting in a more spontaneous manner than I usually do. I have personally done a quarterly review and am constantly perfecting and processing my own goal-setting and review processes. But Reverb10 is all about quick and thoughtful reflections.

Today’s prompt is simple: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

With my business, I am constantly “making things.” It may be a flier. It may be a booklet. Sometimes it is a website or a logo. Sometimes I design an entire workshop or seminar. It changes every day and I honestly love doing it. But I will say that the last thing I “made” was the painting shown here. It is a series of four paintings, all of which are currently on sale now at my newly launched store, apply named: Reflections.

I currently only paint in acrylics on simple white canvas, but I plan on branching out in 2011. I’ve learned a lot in my three years of painting a few times a year but I am eager to keep learning. I have a lot of abstract ideas I want to go after next year so I will be making a conscious effort to do that.

Creating Wonder

It is interesting to think back on the year … But all in all … It is a process I enjoy. I am participating in. 31 day review as part of #reverb10.

Today’s question is: How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I am honestly not sure how to answer that.

I have wondered where I will end up next year. I have wondered how many books I will sell. I have wondered if I was severly injured due to my running.

But honestly, I have wondered most about my future … And most recently have been coming up with some exciting and unexpected ideas. I’m excited to share some of them with you all as we get into 2011.

Is Life Wonderful?

When I was in college at the University of Northern Iowa, I was a member of the Forensics team. For those who don’t know, Forensics is speech and debate. I was on the speech team. It was a tremendous experience and one I don’t regret for a second. One event I didn’t want to do when I joined was the “Impromptu” category.

In college it was quite simple. You get a quote and have seven minutes to write and deliver a speech defending or arguing against said quote.

“Life would be so wonderful if only we knew what to do with it.”
-Greta Garbo

I was recently cleaning out boxes and folders and found the above quote from the L.E. Norton Memorial tournament I participated in. It got me thinking of doing one of these Impromptu speeches. (Which by the way, I started to love by the end of my forensics career!) I don’t recall my argument back then, but I’m not sure what I would say given the chance today either.

The thing I remember most about giving these speeches was the click. You couldn’t see it until near the end when the timer/judge started slipping the color-coded cards. But it was more the first few minutes that were the pressure points. You see, there were seven minutes for this event … and a good “impromptuer” would take at most, 90 seconds to prepare their speech. If you started to go over that time, the voice in your head started to yell at you … and then it became embarrassing just sitting in front of the class drawing a black …

I think it only happened to me once.

So today, I would disagree with that statement for one reason: I have no idea what my life is going to be in 20 years let alone 20 weeks. It is that simple truth that, yes, it is stressful, also makes it beautiful and wonderful.

(flickr photo via name)

The Scent of Fall

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*Beginning in 2010, I started writing a bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” which appears every other Wednesday.

Everyone has a favorite season, don’t they? Do you? I meet a lot of people from all parts of the country and everyone seems to have a favorite and a least favorite season. But as each season comes and goes, I like them all. Honest.

For starters, I grew up in Iowa. There is nothing like a North Iowa winter and if you have yet to experience it, I feel like it is something everyone should experience once in their lifetimes. It’s that early February morning when you get up before the sun rises. There is a fresh layer of snow on the ground that needs to be shoveled away onto the 18 inches that fell the weekend before.

The air is so cold it bites at your uncovered cheeks. Your nose becomes a solid block on the end of your face. As you step on the driveway to shovel the snow away, the snow has a distinct crunch that only solidly frozen snow has. It’s a crispy-crunchy sound. And once you’re through with the shoveling, you must start your car. It takes a few tries, but you’re finally able to get the door open to get inside.

You slide down into the frozen leather seats that you knew were a great idea only a few months before. It’s still dark and you can see your breath glance off the windshield and spray around the car.

Finally, you insert your key with your frozen fingers and turn on the ignition. You hear the car attempt to come to life. The pistols which have oil stuck to them at ridiculously cold temperatures try to move. The cry tries and tries and then suddenly, as if it were no task at all, the engine comes to life; screaming. Then you slide out to scrape all the snow and frost off the windows so you can drive once the car is warmed up. For four months, this is a daily ritual. And I love it.

But I also love the spring. When the snow starts to melt and the grass starts to reappear brings re-birth. There is a freshness in the air. There is life. The world goes from gray and white to green and blue. the air isn’t really quite warm yet, but it’s warm in relation to that snowy day a few months before.

And then comes the summer. It’s warm. Sometimes unbearably so. But the heat also means life. The flowers start to bloom and outdoor picnics occur nearly every weekend. The grill is cleaned and primed for another summer of smokey meats and potatoes. The baseball gloves slip onto hands of all ages.

And as if there were any chance that we could stop it, the fall comes. The colors change from the springtime greens and blues to oranges and browns. But something happens in the sky as well: it changes to golden purple as summer turns into fall. The smell is beautiful. As the leaves start to fall to the ground, the scent is something of accomplishment. The cycle has completed and another winter is upon us. It’s the last true scent before the snow returns.

There are still a few grills to fire up and a few baseballs to toss around before that. I’m the guy who loves each and every season. They all bring something different and something to look forward to. It is something I look forward to … seasons all. Each one offers a chance at life and redemption. And this season I’m living.

Ah, yes. The air is crisp and the smell is clear. A lot has been done, but much remains. But for this moment, I breath in and breath out, in and out, and just live.

Life Ingredient – Health

The first two posts about life ingredients centered on people and creativity. Both of those are vitally important, as are all these ingredients, but the third ingredient is subject based on your life, but it is important to us all. The third thing we must have in our life is health.

I could go on and on about this but I’ll just share my own experience. When I started going to college at the University of Northern Iowa, it was the first time I lived away from home and so I had the cafeteria meal plan. It was definitely a learning experience. I ate a lot. I don’t think I was gaining weight, but I was eating unhealthy.

After a few months, I made a change and made a deal with myself. At every meal, lunch and dinner, there was a smorgasbord of desserts available. If it wasn’t pudding, it was pie. If it wasn’t pie, it was cake. If it wasn’t cake … well … you get the picture. And I was eating it every meal. My deal was that I could only have one dessert a week. And I did a good job of following it. That’s point one: Eat Smart.

The second thing that happened to me at college was I started working out. I’d never been a fan of going to the gym and pumping iron. My friends Jeff and Jarred tried for months to get me to go to the gym with them and each and every time I turned them down. But finally I relented and joined them. And I was hooked. They made it fun. We laughed and we pushed each other. And they pushed me. Today I am happy to say I enjoy working out, I’ve been a member of two gyms and I’m fitter than I have ever been. That’s point two You Must Be Physical.

The third and final thing also deal with food, but is more specific than not eating desserts with every meal. I didn’t learn this piece of the pie until this year when I watched Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver. It was a great show and taught me how unhealthy I was still eating. So now, I try to incorporate vegetables into a few meals a week. I know I need to do it more, so I still have work to do, but I’m growing and learning. The final point: Eat Healthy.

(flickr photo via windsordi)

Watching Me

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*Beginning in 2010, I started writing a bi-weekly column, “From Richard’s Oft Cluttered Desk” which appears every other Wednesday.

Recently I re-watched the final two hours of the series 24. There was no real reason behind my viewing, just that I wanted to relive and re-enjoy the end of the historic series.

I began watching the series on a week-to-week basic at the start of season four and for five years, I watched as 24-hour time blocks came and went. The United States and the world were under attack and Jack Bauer was always a hero.

What was special about the show was not only the creativity the writers always had to have to tell virtually the same story eight times, but the fact that they stayed true to their concept, but never feared taking on tough issues of legality, Constitutionality and emotion.

You wouldn’t think a show built around terrorism and violence would have tears at the end, but it did.

I’ll never forget the day Edgar was killed off the show. I was shocked; numb almost. He was lovable and kind and the kind of guy we all believed we could be. That’s what funny about entertainment. No matter if it is a sit-com or if it’s a drama, a movie or a book. These mediums are built to entertain and make us leave our lives and enter into a new world – even if only for a time.

But it’s also what makes it so hard. When I watch or read, I need to feel like the character is someone I could be … I think we could all agree … I’m pretty special.

But 24 was always a battle Bauer just wanted to live his life, but he kept getting pulled back into the fight. He said no. He’d fight it every year, but he knew he was the best man for the job. He was the hero. But he was also a friend. If you were on this side, he always had your back.

I know I strive for that with everyone in my life. 24 says a lot about me. I’m willing to fight if needed. But I also want my life. I will fight for others and I want others to fight for me.

But what Bauer and the 24 team did was create a world where there was terror but heroism. There was violence but also a peace. Not just world peace, but internal peace. Isn’t that what we all work for? And in the end, I guess that’s why I watched it again.

Time is Valuable

I’ve recently had a lot of developments, or rather endings in my life. Over the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone with some of my closest friends. I’ve always had close friends, but the past month has been quite affirming.

I know I have a great support system around me and have discovered how truly important it is to me. But what I have found is love. True, unconditional love and acceptance. And that’s really all any one of us needs.

After the stress of the past month, I’ve been texting more and I’m working on a trip to see all my close friends at the end of the year. Additionally, one of my best friends is planning to visit me in December, which I am very excited for.

Life is meant to be lived and shared with those you love the most.

When was the last time you spent time with one of your best friends?

(flickr photo via Doug88888)

Do What You Do Well

It’s baseball playoff time and so I’m spending nearly every night watching at least a little baseball. I’ve been a baseball fan since I was probably old enough to pick up and hold a plastic ball. I played little league up until I was about 13 when I moved to tennis. I was simply better. Or at least, I wasn’t bad. I wasn’t good at baseball and it wasn’t fun anymore because of that.

Now with the playoffs here, I am able to learn about other teams I don’t usually follow. I learn about their players. I learn how the team was built, either through the draft or free agency.

So in the first round, the Minnesota Twins again faced off against the high-powered New York Yankees. I first must say that I am an avid Twins fan. I grew up watching them and have been to countless games, including postseason madness. But these two teams are very, very different.

First, the Yankees have a bigger budget – by far. It doesn’t even compare. The market itself is different. And how the franchises have gone about building their team is different too.

When you look at the Twins, the have been built predominately through the draft and their minor league system. In rare occasions they have gone out and landed free agents, but that is rare and usually only one a year.

The Yankees on the other hand build predominantly through free agency. CC Sabathia, Mark Teixiera are their two major recent free agent signings. It’s just what they do. The Twins have to do it one way and the Yankees can do it either way and they’ve chosen (and been quite successful I might add) to build championships through free agency.

My point is simple: figure out what you do best and commit to it. Own it. Live it. And be the best you can be with the plan and the resources you have.

(flickr photo via Parl)

Your WOW Factor

On any given day, you are liable to talk positively or negatively about a company or an organization that you have interactions with. Businesses count on the positive interactions to increase what they call brand awareness. The same goes for your as a person.

When someone has an interaction with you, they will feel something. They will think something. And they will remember something. Believe it or not, what that is, is entirely up to you.

Think about your favorite companies and people. They all have something you remember without even thinking about it. I can tell you right now that I LUV Southwest Airlines because they are easy to work with, don’t gouge me and genuinely love what they do and who they serve. I can tell you right now that my experiences with many other airlines don’t give me that same feeling. Their “WOW” factor is a negative one.

The same thing goes with people. My friend Tylor who is a tennis pro has a “WOW” factor when it comes to his passion for his craft. He really is the most passionate person I know who works each and every day on the court. His clients feed off of his passion and his energy. I also know other people who drain your energy, your passion and your drive.

I bring all this up because of what Is aid at the beginning: What people feel about you, is in fact, entirely up to you!

What is your WOW factor?

(flickr photo via sanfranannie)


I don’t think we celebrate enough. We often wait to celebrate a promotion, or a birthday or a once-a-year day like Thanksgiving, when we should be celebrating something each and every day!

Celebrate life! Celebrate love! Celebrate a beautiful day or finishing a project or simply just having the courage to be who you are. Celebrate something today!

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
Oprah Winfrey