9 Simple Words. 1 Amazing Message.

Easy to say, easy to remember… but really tough to put into practice. The vast majority of social media can make us feel inferior – it engenders a lot more envy than empathy. And most advertising is designed to make us want “more” when what we already have is more than enough.

Maybe less content (noun) will make us more content (adjective).

Happiness – it’s not a pursuit, it’s a state of mind.

[Shout-out as always to Grateful Living for the great gratitude reminders via their daily email.]

Making Pies. Making me cry.

I hate Alzheimer’s disease. But I love pie. And I love that someone is using the latter to fight the former. And someone else is shining a light on it.

Chris Joecken is someone I met when he was a student at Cincinnati State, and he was looking to break into the video/agency business. Great kid. Now he’s using his talents to tell powerful stories, and bring light and love into the world.

Here’s what he posted on LinkedIn yesterday:

Made with Love by Helen from Chris Joecken on Vimeo.

Beautiful. Simply beautiful. I know Helen makes fruit pies, but someone must be cutting onions in here. Those “ripples” are streaming down my cheeks right now.

Chris’ post is right on point. Thoreau said “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” but I think most of us have it within us to be more like Helen, and channel our energies toward lives of humble service. A pebble in the ocean, maybe… but enough to make a ripple.

What can we do with our sorrow? How can we be stewards of what we already possess? How can we transform our pain into something beneficial for others? 

Chris Joecken

How are you making pies today?

Here and Gone

Our youngest kid finished up his freshman year at Indiana University a couple of days ago. He came home yesterday. I use the term “came home” very loosely. I saw him for all of five minutes. He’s got other priorities now. Off to see his girlfriend. Home for about five minutes to change clothes, then off to play volleyball with his friends. Then to a friend’s house to watch a movie and hang out. This old man was long asleep when he came rolling home.

He’s already made plans to spend Memorial Day Weekend with his Hoosier friends from Indianapolis. They’re going to the Indy 500.

I feel like he’s already IN the Indy 500 – racing here, racing there… rarely making a pit stop at home. It’s part of the growth process, I know. But it’s still tough when you become a bit player in your baby boy’s life. He’s more “gone” than “here.”

The child born at dawn,
By evening has moved on, grey and gone

Buffalo Tom “Here I Come”

I know life is fleeting. I just wish the pace car went a little slower. Instead, I’ll have to cherish the pit stops.

The Grateful Alive

This past Sunday, I went to the initial “Grateful Gathering” in Cincinnati. It was organized and led by my friend and co-worker Susan Jackson.

It was just 14 folks at a coffee shop, chatting. Actually it was much more than that. Thanks to Susan’s prompts from the Grateful Gatherings guide, the conversation got pretty deep quite quickly.

Sharing with strangers can be daunting. And the whole concept may seem a little too “woo-woo” for you.

I get it. Getting deep with people you just met at a coffee shop may not be your cup of tea.

But this Grateful Dude is here for it… all of it. Anything that adds more positivity to the world is much-needed these days.

Here’s the welcome session video:

“Everyone will be blessed by you, just by your presence”

Next session is Sunday, June 30, 10 a.m. at Moonflower Coffee Collective. Please join. I’ll be grateful if you do. And even if you don’t!

“And They’re Off!”

Last Thursday, Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I went down to Keeneland with our freighbors (friends/neighbors) Whit and Barb.

Keeneland is a horse racing track in Lexington, KY. A fancy one. Pastoral. Fewer folks betting their rent money, and more well-heeled folks with designer clothing and “fascinator” hats. Bluebloods in Bluegrass country. But they still let in riff-raff like us, as long as we pony up (ha!) the $7 general admission fee.

My wife and I have a mini bucket list with Whit and Barb. It started during pandemic. Nothing elaborate – no overseas excursions, no skydiving. Just random stuff nearby that we’ve always wanted to do. Like take a weekday off from work to go bet on the ponies.

It was raining buckets when we left in the morning. And the forecast called for severe thunderstorms in the afternoon. But a soggy day at the track beats a dry day at the office.

On sunny weekend days, Keeneland is packed with the “see and be seen” crowd, along with a heaping helping of University of Kentucky frat boys and sorority sisters. Great for people-watching, but stuffed and stuffy. (Those giant hats really block your view of the track!) Weekdays are a better — pardon the pun — bet.

We tailgated in the parking lot… which is actually a field. (Joni Mitchell would love it!)

The “Thunderstorm Thursday” weather kept a lot of folks away, so there were no lines at the windows (and at the beer booths). We could be true “railbirds.”

We met an elderly man from Dayton and his two middle-aged sons, who were there on a father/son trip. Nice folks.

And despite the ominous forecast, the sun actually broke through in the afternoon for a couple of hours.

We cashed a few tickets… it was usually enough to recoup the $8 that we bet on one race and spend it on the next one. We probably went home $20 lighter. And 1,000% richer for having spent a fun day with good friends.

Not every vacation has to be elaborate. Not every bucket list item has to be exotic. Sometimes a random, rainy Thursday is all you need for some rejuvenation.

(These jockeys didn’t make any money for us, but they were super-friendly.)

Angels Among us

I went to a memorial service for my friend John’s mom a few days ago. John did the eulogy. He said at the very start that there should really be two eulogies.

Eulogy #1: His mom, Sandy, was a children’s hospice nurse for 35 years. Full stop.

Sure, there was much more to her — and John covered that territory beautifully in Eulogy #2 — but that single sentence sums up a life well-lived, in service to others in their darkest hours of need. Most of us wouldn’t last a day in that gig. The fact that she did it for 35 years surely has earned her the express ticket to heaven.

Not every nurse is as kind and caring as Sandy was. But every day, in hospitals, nursing homes, care centers — and even on battlefields — there are nurses who answer the call. Usually for long shifts, typically for less pay than folks who don’t have to deal with life-and-death situations.

From a baby’s first breath to a grandparent’s final breath, nurses heed the call to provide care and comfort. It’s messy. It’s taxing. It can be harrowing. They deserve our praise (and a raise!).

(The obituary for Nurse Sandy is here. Next time you’re having a bad day at work, read it over. You’ll gain a new perspective on what a “bad day” really is. )

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