Nothing More Than Feelings


Totally underestimated the withdrawal. A couple of days ago I stopped drinking coffee, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because I wanted to pay attention. I thought changing up my routine, my ritual, would cause something to happen. It has. An incredible headache.

This has been a week of trying to get out of my head – less thinking, more feeling.

A couple of years ago I took ski lessons for the first time, I wanted to become a teacher. I’d been a skier for four decades, and considered myself an ‘expert’, At the end of the first class, the instructor told me, “I’m not going to lie, you’ve got a lot of work to do”.

I grew up around big emotion – from warm hugs to flying dishes. I figured I had the feeling thing down. I cry in movies, I laugh hard at a good joke, and one could even say I’m passionate. But, I’m not going to lie, I got a lot of work to do.

Rationality often wins over empathy, I mean, I’m no Spock, but then again, I’m no Capt. Kirk either.

Someone asked me when I feel most myself, most authentic. Without hesitation I responded – on the dance floor. I lose sight of the logic and my mind takes a far backseat to the heart.

So, how does one dance when there’s no music?



Stop Thinking

Lisa read me something by Richard Rohr. He’s a priest for folks who want to believe in God, but are tired of run of the mill religion.   He said “Instead of trying to think your way into a new way of living, live your way into a new way of thinking.”

I built a garden shed a while back. I got a free design off the internet. According to instructions I constructed the first wall – which when raised was about 2 feet higher than I wanted. So, I re-did the measurements. Soon I was doing the roof. The overhangs were way shorter than I had envisioned, but I couldn’t see that until they were up. It was then that I realized I don’t think well in three dimensions. I ditched the plan and made things up as I went along.

Living is risky.  It’s not how it appears on paper. Sometimes it’s way better, but not without the potential for failure, disappointment, and cost.

I remember skiing. I was stuck on the edge of a cliff – the way ahead seemed far too difficult, the way back impossible. The longer I stood there thinking the more fearful I became. The only solution was to go forward, which I finally did, and it turned out more than ok.

My thoughts on everything from marriage and raising kids, to starting a business, to growing a garden were all far different from the reality. It’s in the doing that ideas have evolved, shifted and changed. In my experience, there is no right time, or right way.

I was once told to stop thinking. How do I do that without thinking about not thinking? Maybe it’s by simply moving forward.


De Caf

I gotta quit the coffee. It’s not doing me any good, and I don’t need any more stimulation that what’s going on already in my brain.

But, man, it’s hard. I love the smell of the grinding beans, the French press, the signal that the day has begun. It’s as much a part of my morning ritual as getting out of bed.

Giving things up is hard. An addict friend said his deal was ‘I’ll stop on Monday”.  I totally get that, if I had a nickel for every time I decided to delete my Facebook.

I think my habits fall into the minor category of concern. They’re not that bad – which makes it even more difficult. It’s unlikely I’m going to be the subject of a family intervention over my morning cup of joe or evening glass of Pinot.

They are more distractions than problems. Of course, it begs the question – distracting from what? What’d be missing if I changed things up – other than the acid reflux or red wine headache? How would it be if I went off line after dinner or on weekends?

The only thing harder than stopping is starting. It’s not enough to shut down a questionable ritual, the point is to replace it with a healthy alternative. The best way I found to avoid going to the gym, was by buying a membership.

One starts by starting – as they say. It’s 8am and I’m still caffeine free, whaddya know. Let’s see what happens.


Buy Less, More Better

We spent the weekend with friends on their farm. I walked a lot of the 60 acres with him. “The deer got the whole strawberry crop, those plants have a fungus, the raspberries were affected by the heat, and last winter the gophers ate all the leeks”.

Interestingly, he wasn’t lamenting or complaining, just talking like a farmer. He’s been at it four years so far, and no sign of a profit.

A couple of weeks back I was with some other folks looking at property for new pig pasture. On the way out she said she was a bit nervous leaving the home farm with no one there. Sure enough, as we were stomping around the off the grid twenty acres, a call comes from their neighbour – evidently 42 pigs had busted out and were feasting on the next door beets and turnips.

I am writing this at 7:30am. Most of the people that grow my food have been up for hours already, and will likely still be in the fields when I am sitting down to supper. They work for minimum wage or less. If the food is free of pesticides and chemical fertilizer it’s even tougher to get the yields and battle the weeds and bugs.

Growing healthy food at scale is fucking hard. It is always something. Yet, once all that meat and produce hits the store it’s reduced down to one factor: price. Lower the better.

Our demand of more for less means low quality or poor farmers, or both. The shiny, misted, well lit vegetable section in the grocery store represents many farms, and dozens of families who do their damnedest to get food on our tables.

Good, real food costs money. As my pig farmer friend would suggest “buy less, more better.”


Making it Good

I’m paying for my kombucha in the organic, gluten free, vegan café. As the dread locked dude hands me back my change he says, “hey man, make it a good day”.

It’s messed with my morning ever since. A seemingly subtle difference to the normal parting offering. Make vs. have. The latter suggesting it’s just supposed to be – almost offered as a wish. The former raising the stakes, an encouragement to step it up.

Life is unfair all over the place. It often doesn’t measure up to expectations. Circumstance and choice.   My mother would say, “you’ve no one to blame but yourself”. Or as my AA buddy would put it, “if you’re not the problem, there is no solution”. They’d both definitely agree with the hippy advice from the counter guy.

Of course there are the earthquakes or bad diagnoses at the doctor, but that’s not what’s on my mind.   It’s people. It’s relationships in all their weirdness. All those things that make them good – patience, grace, forgiveness, empathy – are in my control.  However,  whether I’m in city traffic or in my house – they rarely just happen, and frankly can be exhausting to exercise.

I have another friend who annoyingly suggests that most of the situations I describe are actual projections of stuff going on in me. Can’t it just be about someone else for once?

I’m now halfway through my beverage and still thinking about the charge I was offered back at that café. From first feeling the weight of the responsibility, I am settling in to the idea that, in reality, if I don’t make it good, who will?

Still Crazy, After All These Years

The hardest time of day was after school. I was never sure who I was coming home to.   Sometimes she was in the kitchen getting dinner ready, others she was passed out on the couch. Why, these many decades later, is that memory so vivid?

Lisa recently passed on to me an article talking about the typical traits of people who had grown up with an addicted parent. “Can you relate to any of these […]


“So, what can you tell me about being a father?” asked the young, soon-to-be dad. He had his notebook and pen at the ready. It struck me that my answer isn’t really something one would write down.

I vividly remember the sunny afternoon, 26 years ago today, sitting in our apartment. Lisa, pregnant for the first time, was in the early stages of labour. As she was breathing through a contraction, I could hear someone outside […]

I’m Asking

I got a text from a friend yesterday that started with “you were right”. I mention it, because, well, that doesn’t happen very often.

On the weekend I was about to provide a great solution to a problem when the intended receiver stopped me with, “I don’t like unsolicited advice”.

I don’t either. In fact, I am not much a fan of being told what to do at all. I guess, in some ways, that makes me […]