Double Check

On weekdays, I share a lesson learned through the course of daily living. Then, if all goes well, you read it and learn something too.


I had to take my car back five times before it was fixed.

Several times per week, I review resumes with basic grammatical errors, typos, or formatting mistakes.

Our apartment maintenance guy repaired our toilet but didn’t bother trying to flush it afterward, which would have led him to realize the chain was too long.

The bad news, we are part of a culture of incompetence. Bad work is largely accepted as normal. We use LOL language shortcuts. We move from project to project without checking our results. We fire off emails to our bosses or subordinates without reading what we have typed first. Nearly every time I have something repaired, I have to request it to be repaired again, and in a disposable society embracing a culture of incompetence, it is usually easier to replace rather than repair.

The good news is, because most people do not check their work or care enough to do their work with excellence, if you are moderately talented or focused, you can look like a total rock star. If you are actually passionate about what you do and strive for perfection, then you can become legendary in your field or art.

If you take the time to learn to improve and pause to double-check your work, you won’t uncover every mistake every time but you will gain a reputation and strengthen your commitment for turning in work you can be proud of.



I’m a Jerk.

Each weekday I share a lesson I have learned in life. Here is today’s lesson.


I do not like to have my work interrupted. I do not like to be told I “need” to do something (as in, “You need to listen when I talk…”). I love my pets but I am quickly frustrated by their bad behavior (like barfing up a hairball on my bed or having a potty accident on the carpet). Anyone transferring their emotions to me is infuriating (i.e. blaming me for how you feel). I have been known to “drop” my phone (against the wall at about 40 miles per hour) for being irritated that it will not perform some simple task correctly (probably due to an app not being updated or general user error).

The point is, most people know me as generally cool, calm, and collected most of the time, but I have buttons. And when they are pressed, I see red. I can go from being a nice guy to a jerk in no time. Luckily, I have enough tricks up my sleeve to keep me from doing any real damage to myself or life and these days, even most electronic products. I am also quite resilient and tend to get over things (including myself) fast. I can be authentically smiling and calm again within minutes.

The secret, I think, to getting over frustration is three-fold. Here is what works for me.

1.  Context and Self-Respect. By putting a situation in perspective and reminding myself who I am, I can almost always regain self-control. For example, when my puppy has an accident, it resets our potty training and makes me feel guilty, angry, and generally like a “bad parent” (I totally understand the irony of the emotional transference complaint I listed at the top). My anger jumps from zero to about thirteen in less than a heartbeat. Sometimes I am able to catch it by quickly reminding myself the dog is a dog. It has hundred times less brain power and emotional content and is only doing what a dog does (context–can’t be mad at a dog for being a dog). I have to remind myself I can not let a puppy take control of my life since he is relying on me to be in control (self-respect–my job is to lead “the pack” and what kind of leader demoralizes his followers by yelling or throwing a tantrum?).

 2.  Chase the goal, not the emotions. As new puppy parents, sometimes Nicole and I disagree on how to approach a situation we haven’t encountered before. For example, the dog care books say you have to take your puppy out and socialize to acclimate it to other dogs and people quickly. Our puppy is behind schedule on his vaccinations, though, due to being sick, and the general advice is to keep him away from other dogs and dog areas. What do we do? Regardless of the answer, you can imagine the conversation can quickly become emotionally charged. To defuse my misaligned passion, I remind myself our goal is the same: we want what is best for the puppy. I may not agree on the approach but just knowing the destination is the same will often help us find a good landing spot, even if the landing is bumpy.

3.  Remember who you are dealing with.  Whether it is your boss, a friend, a sibling, or even a brand, I find an easy way to wrangle my would-be emotional outbursts is to remind myself of the importance of this (person, product, place) in my life. When I am snippy with Nicole (and I know it), I remind myself she is the love of my life. There is no reason to be short-tempered with her because she is the best thing about waking up each day. Why tarnish that because I am feeling snotty? Same with other people, places, and things. My emotions are on me. The situation might be our problem but my emotional approach is my problem and mine alone. That means there are often two problems to solve at the same time, so better take the one I have immediate control over out of the mix as quickly as I can.


Of course, I’m not perfect. Sometimes my mouth out runs my brain or sometimes I have just “had enough” and take a firm stand on something stupid (“I will NOT put the cap back on the toothpaste because I LIKE the mess it leaves!”). More often than not, I am glad to say, remembering those 3 tips help me minimize those moments and maximize my relationships in the world.

Hope they help you too!




Just My Luck.

Each weekday I share a life-lesson learned. Today’s lesson is about having “bad” luck…


“That’s just my luck,” I thought. “I’m spending my vacation going back and forth to Orlando to take the dog to the vet. Just figures. Not the vacation I wanted…”

Then I remembered a few things…
I live where I choose to live, not where I happened to grow up or simply ended up.

I have a job, an apartment that more than meets my needs, a car of my choosing, and lots of toys like a smartphone, tablet, paddle board, and bicycle. I have a great partner in life, an old loyal cat, and a new lovable puppy.

I’m surrounded by things and people I love, I have the means and will to live a life I choose (not everybody has the luxury of being able to be vegan and spend almost every weekend at the beach).

Basically, I live a charmed life. A few unexpected trips to Orlando and the inconvenience of not having the perfect vacation is pretty minor compared to the joy of being somebody I love and living my life (mostly) on my terms.

It is definitely a better deal than I could have asked for and, my guess is, if you have the means to read this blog then your deal is also pretty damn good.

Our luck is not relative to our current situation. It is relative to our lives as a whole.

Or, put another way… stop whining. You don’t have it that bad.



Picking Your Pet’s Name

Each weekday I share a life-lesson learned. The lesson can be about anything but it can not be something I heard or read and am just sharing. It has to be something I experienced or am trying for myself. It is a real life-lesson. Here is today’s lesson…


We met our new puppy at a rescue event in Orlando. He was the first puppy we picked up and after about 10 minutes spent with him, we knew we were not leaving without him. During the 2 hour drive home, we debated pet names. I wanted to name him “Bruce Banner”, or “The Incredible Shrinking Puppy”, or “Cory and the Chocolate Factory” (because the rescue was tentatively calling him “Cory”). Nicole was voting for “Spot” or “Brindle” or “Fido”.

Clearly, we were not finding a middle ground. For every normal-ish name Nicole would throw out, I would counter with something–um… let’s say, a little more creative–like “Robert Downey Junior, Jr.” or “Kal-El”.

Then we had a great idea. We used social media. I posted our dilemma on Facebook and asked our friends and their friends to come up with some names. Everyone looked at the picture and in no time we had some great ones to choose from. My friend Chris thought we should name the puppy, “Chris”.

We got “Phydoe”, “Corbin”, “Braveheart”, “Oliver”, “Brindy”, “Digger”, “Cosmo”, “Charlie”, “Samson”, and my personal favorite, “Apollo” which Nicole was okay with but she wouldn’t let me add “Creed” after it, once she found out who “Apollo Creed” was. She is a Rocky fan but when she says “Rocky” she means this one, not this one… no accounting for good taste, I guess. Please, let’s not do the Time Warp again… not ever again. Pretty please.

We tested a few in talking and playing with the puppy. In the end, and I can’t really say why… the name just stuck… it was “Oliver”.

(I haven’t told Nicole yet, but when people ask me what the puppy’s name is, I plan to say, “This is Sir Lawrence Oliver…eh! He’s Canadian.”)

When you are stuck on a problem, don’t forget you can leverage the power of your network and friends to come up with a solution. Somebody out there probably has the answer you were looking for.

Powered by Puppy

I share my life-lessons learned on this blog each weekday. Here is today’s lesson…


Want a great exercise tip? Borrow a puppy.

Puppy Power- 151117

Being the proud puppy stepfather of young Oliver, I have learned that puppies have small bladders. And we live on the third floor. That means every hour and a half or so I am taking a trip downstairs to empty the puppy. Empty puppies, by the way, make great playmates. They chase (which means you run), climb (which means you bend and flex), and entice you to rub their bellies (which essentially means you do a lunge 20 times a day).

It’s not 3 hours at the gym, but puppies tire you out while you try to tire them out. We have had Oliver a little over a week and I have already lost 2 lbs on the “Puppy Plyometrics Plan”.

You should try it. Unless you hate puppies, in which case you are the Devil and probably stay slim from the heat down there.


Throwback Thursday

Each weekday I share a lesson I have learned in life. Here is today’s lesson…


Every Thursday, my Google Play Music service populates with several options for “Throwback Thursday”. For fun, I typically select tracks from the 50’s through the 90’s throughout the day.

As it happens, I am familiar with nearly every song on their playlists but they now have the option to add the early 00’s (I don’t know if we have a name for that yet–I have heard it called “The 2000’s”, “The Millennium”, “Double Oh’s”, and “The Aughts”). I know maybe 4 out of every 20 of those songs.

A stark realization hit me the last time I listened to the “Throwback Thursday” stations. It is not that I do not like modern music. It is that I have turned the corner where pretty much all the music I like is now Throwback Thursday worthy.

Every day is Throwback Thursday for me (which is why I posted this on Monday).

I suppose that is both good and bad. Good because I have built up knowledge, wisdom, and experience over all that time. Bad because growing older takes more and more adaptation to remain strong and youthful.

I have an easy solution to feeling bad about Throwback Thursdays, though. I just listen to timeless music that will never be found on those stations. Right now I’m listening to the full 15-minute version of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”. Great song.

Throw back whatever day.

Do You Need a Nap?

I share a life-lesson learned each weekday, so you don’t have to. Here is today’s lesson…


I don’t mind admitting sometimes I’m a jerk. I can be moody, irritable, and short with people, especially if I am pushing myself too hard physically or mentally. Usually, I bounce back quickly but if it looks like I am going to be a jerk all day, I do what I learned in kindergarten: take a nap.

Whether I am feeling grumpy, or if I have been attacking a particular problem all day (even if just in my mind), or if I am just plain tired… I find a nap can be a great reset button.

I do not nap often but I am a firm believer in naps. If it was socially acceptable, I would nap mid-day almost every day. A 20-40 minute siesta can reinvigorate everything. It allows your body and mind to catch up, to heal, or to build anticipation. I am usually raring to go after a good nap.

On the weekends, I seem to have boundless energy and I attribute a lot of that to the nap. I can accomplish almost as much in one weekend, fully rested, as I can in the rest of the week, trying to stay awake and alert.

I hope one day we trade our morning coffee and energy drinks for recess and naps. Those kindergarteners are on to something.



Each weekday I share a life-lesson learned. Here is today’s lesson…


“There must be something wrong with my email or the server, or my computer,” the new employee insisted. “I can’t log-on.”

I knew this was a user-error, but there was no convincing her. I worked at an IT Help Desk when personal computers were uncommon. Back then, we would have several calls per day with questions like, “The screen says press any key to continue. Where the heck is the ‘ANY’ key? I don’t have one on my keyboard!”

Our department grew so tired of trouble-shooting issues like that over and over that we coined an acronym for people who were experiencing issues that were generated by them, not the computers. We would say, “Oh, I see. You are experiencing a PIBCAK error. Try pressing the Control key and the Enter key at the same time. That should resolve it.”

Of course, the person could have pressed literally any key to resolve it but we did not want to make them feel stupid and often, they would be even more irritated if we pointed out the fault was on their end! PIBCAK errors resolved all of that. The frustrated end-user was able to hold onto their dignity and our IT department had an inside joke that helped passed the day.

P.I.B.C.A.K. stood for “Problem Is Between Chair And Keyboard” (think about it). It was not long before people were calling us and proactively telling us they were having a PIBCAK error, not knowing what the acronym actually stood for.

Unsurprisingly the employee insisting there was a problem with the server was able to log-in once she slowed down and typed the information correctly. Ironically, she was still insistent there was a problem with the computer.

When faced with a problem that has been solved thousands of times before by other people, I try to be humble enough to accept the crux of the issue might be ME, not the challenge I am facing.  That lesson has helped me curb my temper many times. It has also taught me that if I slow down and think through a problem, I can often solve it on my own.

The next time your computer has a seemingly mysterious, perplexing issue, try to remember most computer problems are solvable with a few proper keystrokes. If you must ask for help, have the humility to accept the likelihood that the PIBCAK error might be you: the Problem Is (probably) Between Chair And Keyboard.


My 5 Favorite Memories This Year

I share a lesson learned in life each weekday. Here is today’s lesson…


I usually wake up earlier than Nicole. Since she sleeps curled in my arms or with her head on my chest, I try not to disturb her. Instead, I use that time to think about the day that passed and plan the day ahead. This is often when I come up with the day’s blog post.

While I lay awake today, I thought it would be fun to recount my top five memories of the year so far. There was way more than five though, and it was impossible to place a specific five at the top of the list. Every time I thought I had one, another memory popped in my head that I thought for sure was a top five.

In the end, I settled for the five most persistent memories I have of the year so far. In essence, not necessarily my top five but the five most popular based on how many times they kept resurfacing. The funny thing is, there was a surprising lesson about them. But first here are five of my favorite memories this year (in no particular order):

Our first Stand-Up Paddleboard excursion to Caladesi Island. It was a game changer for me, solidifying my love for SUP. We saw stingrays, a school of jumping fish, crabs, a shark, and more. It was a fascinating day all around.

Anna Maria Island (Nicole's View)- 151108     Also, our first trip to the beach at Honeymoon Island. That was our first day of relaxation after we moved. It was in the middle of March and we were swimming in the ocean. It just doesn’t get better!

Strolling the riverwalk downtown. Every time we walk along the river downtown we are sure to have an adventure–whether Tampa Bay Veg Fest, Yoga in the Park, watching cruise ships or spotting sea life.

Hanging out with our adopted vegan friend, Chris. Our pal Chris is far from being vegan but I give him credit for being willing to try new things. He has gone to a few veggie restaurants with us, and every time he does, he goes 100% vegan, ranting against meat-eaters like a pro. He might be the only non-vegan who has ever made me laugh about being vegan.

My parents visiting. Mom and dad were our first Michigan visitors and it was so great to have them here for a few days. Sitting with Nicole at my side and hanging with my parents was a blast. Plus, I got my first pedicure with mom and dad, for fun.

I have to give an honorary mention, too, though it is not technically a specific memory…

Visiting Ethos Vegan Kitchen in Orlando. This is far and away my favorite restaurant here. It is so good it reminds of my Grand Rapids hometown favorites like Bartertown and Marie Catrib’s. I wish I could fit Ethos into my pocket and take it everywhere.

The most interesting thing about these memories, though, is that none of them involved spending a great deal of money.

Of my favorite memories this year, I think it is noteworthy that the nearly 80 grand we shelled out for our new cars was not at the top of the list. The 6 thousand dollar investment in Paddle boards was not there, though the act of paddle boarding itself was. It was the experience, not the shopping. The Dyson vacuums and high-end Nespresso latte machine are great toys but not even in the top 20 memories of the year. The large sums of money we threw at furniture, clothes, and moving (twice) were not among my favorite memories either.

Money buys things of present value, but not valuably present things. Only connections and experience will give you something to value forever. Looking at this year, I have to say people and adventure are the things I will remember, not gadgets and shopping for them.

Don’t Count Your Blessings

I share a life-lesson each weekday. It helps me make sure every day counts. Hopefully, it helps you, too. Here is today’s lesson…


I make enough money to afford a nice apartment on Tampa Bay. I do not live in a place where I wonder where the next meal is coming from or where there are boys holding machine guns on street corners. I have access to clean water. I drive a decent car. I have very little debt and a job I enjoy. I am fairly good-looking and I have friends and family who care about me. I can go on but you get the point. On whole, life is pretty good for me.

There are times, though, when I forget all those things, or they do not matter in the moment. Like when I stub my toe. All those wonderful things briefly go out the window and I think only of the pain in my foot feel anger because of my clumsiness.

Or when my cat barfs on the carpet in the middle of the night. I forget how lucky I am and become irrationally mad at the cat for bringing some sort of injustice to my life. Or when something legitimately disturbing happens like a job loss or the death of a friend or the end of a relationship–all these problems pale by comparison to the challenges faced every day by other people with less fortunate circumstances (think children in third world countries, slaves, or prisoners of war–they wish they had something as easy to handle as a broken heart).

“Count your blessings” I am told, is sage advice. When we feel life is unfair, this adage reminds us to take stock of all the things we have going for us and be grateful.

I am not a fan of that advice, though. The problem is, when I feel frustrated or angry and I pause to “count my blessings”–sure, I recognize I live a charmed life–but counting my blessings makes me feel like an ingrate at that moment. I do not want to feel petty or ungrateful on top of feeling mad or irritated.

“Count your blessings” might be fine advice when things are going well but when you are feeling hurt or slighted, counting your blessings can make you feel worse. 

I will try these three alternatives instead:

     1.  Recognize and embrace change. “Life is fleeting” is also sage advice. That means nothing good lasts forever but it also means nothing bad lasts forever. Accept the situation for what it is and accept it is not the permanent way of things.

     2.  Feel it. Maybe the thing that bothers me most about the idea of counting your blessings is that it invalidates your feelings. I don’t know about you, but I can not keep my emotions buried. I can turn the volume on them down but if I try to ignore them altogether it just creates a ticking time bomb. Those emotions will explode out of me at some point and it won’t be pretty. Instead, I want to feel angry when I feel angry. I want to dive into it, let it simmer, and acknowledge that it is how I feel in that moment. There is nothing wrong with feeling angry, hurt, or frustrated with the world. It is just how you feel in the moment (see point one–the moment will be gone soon enough). I should make a caveat here that you feeling angry is not license to exercise your feelings upon others. Feel angry. Don’t act angry.

     3.  Be willing to move on. Building off the first two points–things change and it is okay to feel feelings–I must also recognize the choice is mine to let go of those feelings when I am ready. For me, that usually does not take long because I am willing to let go and move on. Maybe not in that moment but I am willing to be moved, to change, to alter course. I do not like feeling angry, guilty, petty, sad, depressed, etc. I know, though, that I will feel those things at times. I do not, however, have to let them take the wheel and steer my life. That is up to me. I can give them control for a few minutes while I coast along, but I know, like juvenile drivers, they will crash us if I don’t take the wheel back. It is okay to let them practice driving so they learn to act responsibly but I am the only one licensed to behind the wheel. They can back-seat drive all they want.


To my knowledge, there is no cure for the injustices of life, no matter how great or small. Counting your blessings while dealing with one of those injustices, though, might only make you feel worse. Instead, recognize things change, your feelings are your feelings, and be willing to move on.

If you still want to count your blessings, go ahead, but maybe wait until you feel blessed to do so.