Pretty Justin Simply

Life is always moving, always doing. That’s the nature of it, small or large there is humming and forward motion.

I often overlook all the things that are happening when I feel frustrated or bored. I get frustrated and bored easily.

I wish that more were happening. I can think of so many thing I want to happen, and big goals I want to achieve. I forget what is already happening.

While I was working on the last few agonizingly slow steps to get The Russian American School of Tomorrow published, I used a computer program to clean up the writing.

This bot looked for passive voice and overuse of certain words, and helped me to make my writing as clear and direct as I could get it.

Right away my bot told me what I already knew: nothing is simply. Simply has no place in my writing. If I simply do things, I do things.

There is nothing simple about it. I do it. Doing it is enough.

I had even more Justs. Just forget about the justs. Forget about the justs.

Yoda had it right. Do. Or do not. There is no just.

It’s an equivocation. I put those words in a row. And the words are describing stuff I did.

I could say I did a pretty good job.

I will not say that. Pretty is as pretty does.

I did a good job.

All actions are happening and powerful. Pretty, Just and Simply are softening the impact. These words distance the audience, and in many cases the audience is my own self. I have so much power and ability. Why should I distance myself from what I do and what I could do?

Let the Big Bang of every action we take explode on my own consciousness.

I did. We did. We do.

Pretty Justin Simply did not.



Finally a hot bath

Editing my book I learned to get straight to the point. I used this awesome computer program to make my writing better

Finally took that hot bath with Epsom salts. Lavender and peppermint essential oils helps.

My arm hurts. 

I brought a book, but I ended up reading The Prophet by Gibran. Reading about love seemed a good idea 

I had to cry a little.

One guy hurt me.

And dozens, maybe hundreds of friends of friends have showed love and support.

One person has so much power.

How to tell a 6 year old about your sexual assault

Veronica, you know how i run every morning?
This morning, when I was running, a man shoved me down.
Yes, and I didn’t like it. He shoved me down, and held me down. I didn’t like it at all! So I started screaming NO!
you did?
Yes! And he didn’t like it that i screamed. He tried to cover my mouth. You know what I did then?
*jaw dropped*
I BIT him!
*big thumbs up*
(I got my daughter’s approval B-)
Then he ran away. And you know what i did then?
I called the police. They are trying to catch him. Because it’s not okay to push people down like that.
Did they catch him?
Not yet. But they are looking for him.

It Can Happen

There was a fire on Friday. Smoke billowed out from the trailer of a semi-truck. I read that while a few people suffered from smoke inhalation afterwards, no one was seriously hurt.


Thank God.


As I watched the smoke billowing out on the traffic video, I thought, that will draw rain.


It’s been a serious drought here in California. We’ve all been watching our lawns die, because we are conserving water. My town cut back on the Fourth of July fireworks because of fire concerns. We had “retro” fireworks that were small and close to the ground. Usually, the fireworks fill the sky above the college track field. And the surrounding area is prepared by being drenched with water so that no fires will break out.


What with the drought, the city had to make other water-conserving plans. So this year we bought tickets to fireworks that were moderately spectacular. As we walked back to our car at the end of the night, I said to my husband “We will always look back and remember this night, because this time it was different.”


All around the parks, there are signs saying how they are letting the grass die, but making sure water is put on our gorgeous trees. A 20-year-old tree is harder to replace than a lawn.


You can’t get 20 years in 2. Not for a tree. My town is prioritizing.


And on Friday, not quite 50 miles away, smoke was pouring into the sky from a forest fire.


Then it rained.


It never rains in July around here.




The last time it rained in July was more than a hundred years ago.


We are all very grateful for the rain. The yellow grass is turning green. The trees are dropping little branches, but are otherwise what they are used to being.


We can make our plans, and we should. Our fireworks conserved water and made sure we didn’t create a forest fire.


We could never have known or expected that rain would fall for three days in a row in July. If anyone had predicted it, we would have justifiably doubted it.

And yet it happened.


My desert-born husband doesn’t like getting wet. But Veronica and me got out our umbrellas and went to the park.


The warm rain felt so beautiful. “Mommy, this feels very special.”


“I think so too.”


There were two picnics at the park, and one of them had a sound system. We hung out where the singing was.


There was a talented rap artist performing. My peaceful town was a haven for this group. I didn’t have a chance to converse with any of this group, but I heard what they were talking about. This group was a memorial service.


From less peaceful towns, this group of adults and children had come to honor their friend Tank. Tank had died. I felt their love for him. I couldn’t tell if this was a recent death, but it felt as if it were not. The musician sang songs about perseverance and not giving up. About God and faith keeping on.


In the unexpected rain, a group huddled under their umbrellas to hear what was being said.


And I, the local stranger, under my umbrella, was touched to the heart.


I am sad for the loss of their friend Tank. I know that lives are shorter in the place that he came from. That breaks my heart.


This group didn’t expect the rain that day. But they came anyway with their microphone, sound system and bar-b-que.


That’s the miracle of this life. Needed rain can fall for three days in a row. Anything can happen.


Never give up hope.

Minimum Viable Product

I came of age in the 90s in Silicon Valley. The startup virus still infects me. These are the sorts of things you never forget.

I was talking to my brother–startup Patient zero in my life–about a new business project I wanted to do. I was nervous about this and that, and he said, “I’m going to say it. You know this. Get rid of all the friction that keeps you from getting it launched.”

I did know it. I realized he was right. “I need a minimum viable product.”

Just the least amount of something to make a start.

7 league boots are for fairy tales. We all walk a step at a time. So– step. Take the step. The minimum possible step to get it going.

In my training as a Scrum Master, that widely abused style of technology project management, they trained me to think, “Always be shipping.” Just get it out there. A product is required for a business to start. Perfection is not required. We could wait for the perfectly designed solution, or we could use the rocks and twigs that are hanging around and do enough of a something to keep the momentum going.

Doing nothing does more than delay. It sets motionless in motion. It put intertia into effect. The second law of thermodynamics, which waits for no one, says basically that entropy always increases.

We will naturally decline into chaos and disorder. It is only by injected our will and using energy to keep things moving that we can override this decline.

Everything in the universe tells us this is so.

Keep moving. Always be putting it out there and always keep trying. It’s the trying that is more important than the succeeding.

Because in motion we can change course. Getting in motion takes way more energy.

Jeep entree

More recently than I would like to admit, I found myself facing a blank wall. I had no idea what to do. My mind was howling with all the ways I didn’t know how to do the thing that I had to do.

It was a new kind of assignment for my job and nobody had done it before and nobody was telling me how or what exactly was wanted. I totally spent some time–okay, a lot of time–thinking about walking away. No shame in admitting my weaknesses, right? It’s okay to be human. I could walk away respectfully, and that would be an acceptable choice. Who could blame me?

Except I was the one who would have to sleep that night, and all the nights to come. It was not for other people that I was doing this. I wanted to stick it out, whatever happened.

Impossible tasks.

Have anybody ever told you the thing about eating a jeep? There is an episode of MASH where Klinger, the highly lateral-thinking and problem-solving soldier decided he wants to eat a jeep. I forget why. But he sets out to break it down into the smallest parts. A little here, a little there, and before you know it, you have eaten the whole jeep.

The impossible just takes a little longer.

I heard the roar of the impossibility of what I had to do. I was so afraid of what would happen if I FAILED that I couldn’t even think. I knew I had to do something to get my mind clear.

I decided to pretend it didn’t matter that I failed. If it didn’t matter that I failed, what would I do?

What was the next piece I needed to start on?  Just like eating that jeep.

Once I listened to what I knew I knew underneath the roar of the fear, I could get started.

The other week, I was playing Monopoly Jr with my daughter. That game is rigged to help the youngest person playing. So she almost always wins. Which is fine. She learns great things like counting and a little bit of reading with the Chance cards. I was about to lose, and Veronica wanted to change the rules so that I wouldn’t.

First, I like that she knows the rules are arbitrary. Second, what a tender heart that she wanted so spare me the pain of losing.

I had to explain that the game is about the fun of playing. Someone wins and someone loses, but it’s fun to play and that makes it worth it.

So. The game I was playing, the game at work where I might FAIL and LOSE, it is a game. Sometimes I fail. What did I want out of THIS game?

Like a video game, a fail or “getting killed” wasn’t really that serious. What I was playing for was a chance to get further in the adventure.

Cowering was not at all the point.

If I wanted to do this thing, to have this adventure, I had to start. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Do the thing right in front of me that I knew I knew.

If I could just clear my mind then the next thing, the next little thing would be apparent.

I held my breath, squeezed my eyes shut and asked myself “What is the next thing that needs to happen?”

Once I concentrated on that, then the next thing and the next thing was clear. I hope I can remember it sooner next time.

authentic careers

My brother just landed home in California today. He’s been working in China since last fall.

I remember when he was in college, working hard and studying business administration. It seemed incongruous to me, why would he study business? He said he had to be practical and study something that would make money.

That’s the bottom-line reason to go to college, right? To invest in skills that will get you a career that will feed and shelter you.

I remember having the kind of job with a pension, after my daughter was born, and feeling the ticking of the clock counting down to retirement. It was heavy and suffocating.

There are other ways to be. I’ve written before  about careers being the expression of one’s intrinsic superpower.

I made some friends last year who are my superheroes. Craig and Amanda live the impossible life, professional performers that travel the world to get to gigs. Two little kids and they do it! Not only that, they are collaborating with friends to write a movie musical. They are using kickstarter to fund it, go check it out. They are doing what they were born to do.

My friend Rocky has a more common job, he’s a pastor. He loves it, and will talk forever about it whenever we get the time. He hosts a podcast, inviting other pastors to talk about all the ways people can pastor and do pastor-y things. He refers to his career as a calling.

I refuse to believe that these are the lucky ones. It is not only a few of us who get to do work that comes from our heart and soul. It might not be clear at first what that work is, yet I believe that we all have something we can do with our gifts that is a service to the world and a joy to ourselves.

My brother did finish he college degree in business. And he worked in various corporate offices for years.

He wasn’t happy for long. He sifted and explored other possibilities. Last year he took a leap. He went to China to teach English and talk about the gospel to college students across the world.

This is what he wanted. This was the cry of his deep self, finding expression.

It’s not enough to watch the sands of the hourglass fall, waiting. I don’t blame him for his college study. We all start somewhere and learn as we go. Some things are perfect for the moment and then get outgrown.

I don’t want the sands to settle and bury me. I can be like my brother and take risks to let my career come from my essence.