Archive for the ‘ Autobiographical ’ Category

Chris Severy Day (Weekly Inspiration)


On October 12, 1998, I was deeply impacted by the death of a friend Chris Severy.  He was one of the brightest, friendliest, and most talented people I have ever known, and he was far too young to die.  It was a morning like any other when he hit a tree while riding his bike down Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  I am pretty sure when Chris woke up that morning he had no idea that it would be his last.  I had a hard time coming to terms with the idea that in one moment life can seem long, full of possibilities, and dreams waiting to come true, while in the next moment it can just end.  I had just turned 28, and for the first time in my life, I think I understood my own mortality.  If Chris could die in an instant, anyone could.

About two years after his death, I started an annual tradition with my high school students  to help me deal with a loss I still didn’t understand.  Each year on October 12th, I would tell a few stories about some of my memories of Chris and share how he died.  I pledged, along with my students, that once a year we should set aside a day and let all the important people in our lives know how important they are, how much we love them, and how much better our lives are because we know them.  It was a way to get straight with the world, resolve petty conflicts, and forgive wrong doings.  I would remind myself, and my students, that none of us know when we will meet our tree or have our time run out.  We are crazy not to take a few moments every year to get straight in our relationships, and make certain that the people we love the most, know how we feel, and that we appreciate them being in our lives.

I no longer have a class to stand in front of and tell these stories, but I have many former students who read this blog and remember the stories.  I know there are other readers of this blog I have never met, or had in my classes, but you are still invited to celebrate this day and this pledge with us.  Post a kind shout out on your facebook profile, send out a few emails, hand write a note or two, make a phone call you have been putting off, or whatever you feel you need to do just in case you meet your tree sooner than later.

I am so thankful to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who have added more life to my days than I can quantify.  I love all of you!  To my former students – Know that I learned more from you over the years, than you ever did from me!  You have shaped my life and the person I am today!  To the friends I have yet to meet – I love you too and look forward to our adventures together!  Happy Chris Severy (Sev) Day!

Proof People are Stupid (Weekly Inspiration #11)


I used to collect evidence that people are stupid.  I had two large file folders of stories about stupid people doing stupid things.  This was in the early 90’s when I first started teaching.  Then came youtube and the need to collect any more evidence vanished.

Youtube is the world’s largest collection of evidence that people are stupid..  Just type in “people falling”  or “stupid people”  and enjoy hours of amusement.  I recommend watching these videos with small children and saying “Never do that!”  every 2 minutes or so.  Great lessons for them to learn! Continue reading

The Friendship Compass


“Surround yourself with good people” is perhaps the most important piece of advice I have ever received.  I took it to heart and put it into practice.  The following blog is a tribute to my four best friends who have increased the quality of my life with the quality of their character. Continue reading

Choosing Happiness


My former students can tell you that I am a sucker for inspiration.  I collect inspirational stories, videos, quotes, and pictures to remind myself of the positive things in life.  Some of them are a bit abstract, but if they contain even a little nugget of truth, or if they make me think about something in a different light, then I add them to my collection. Continue reading

An Unusual Bucket List


Lots of people have a list of things they want to do before they die.  These so called “Bucket Lists” inspire us to take risks and live the lives we dream about.  I don’t have a bucket list.  I prefer to take life as it comes, and not to turn down a good opportunity when it arises.  However I do keep a different kind of list.

I have a list of things I want to do someday but never will.  It’s not that I don’t want to do them.  It is just that if I did do them, the consequences would be too great.  So I just keep the list and dream about what it would be like to do these amazing things.  Take a look at 5 of the items on my list and see what you think.

1.  Quit Smoking: Like many people, I love a challenge.  This is why people climb mountains, run marathons, and a host of other difficult feats.  People claim that quitting smoking is one of the hardest things they have ever done, and others simply can’t.  The problem with this goal is that I don’t smoke.  I am not willing to start smoking or smoke long enough to develop the habit so I could quit.  This is why I keep it on this list.

2.  Rob a Bank: Maybe I have seen too many caper movies,  but it looks like so much fun planning and executing the perfect robbery!  I would not want to rob the bank while it is open with masks and guns.  I would rather plan out a sleek way to slip in, grab the money, and slip out before anyone noticed.  The problem here is that I don’t steal.  Oh… and I also do not want to go to jail if my plan fails!

3.  Land a 747: This one is pure fantasy but if I was ever on a fully loaded plane where the pilots were rendered unconscious, and the call went out for one of the passengers to land the plane, I would love to be that guy!  The tower would talk me through it and when I land safely, the passengers would cheer my name!  Did I mention this plane is full of swimsuit models?  Hey, it is my fantasy!  The problem is…………..well……….. this is just never going to happen!

4.  Escape from Prison: This might go along with #2 if I got caught robbing the bank.  Once again ,I like to imagine planning a great scheme breaking out, and then I like to think about what it would be like living on the run and staying undercover.  The problem here is that I do not wish to go to jail or prison in order to break out.  So I leave it on my list of things I would love to do but never will.

4.  Grow a Beard: Just once in my life I would love to experience a huge grizzly beard big enough to provide habitat for several small animals.  The problem here is that my facial hair is too patchy and a beard would never fill in fully to cover my face.  At least I am further along that this guy!

How about you?  Do you have a list of things you would like to do but never will?

Strange Thailand Experience #1


Lots of people I know like to eat fish.  I do not like to eat fish but today I discovered I like to be eaten by fish!

This morning my brother took us to one of the larger Bangkok markets where we meandered through narrow corridors and crowded stalls.  We saw lots of sights, and smelled lots of smells.  We tasted a few tastes, and sampled a few samples.  Nothing too out of the ordinary for a large market filled to capacity with the art of the artisans and the merchandise of the merchants.  Little did I know that smack dab in the middle of all the textiles, t-Shirts, and unnecessary plastic objects, was an unusual experience waiting to happen.

We passed by a stall with two blue tubs and a large sign advertising “Fish Massage”.  Now this is something I have not seen before!  We investigated further and found  that for 150 Bot (About 4 dollars) you can stick your feet in these tubs and a swarm of little fish will cover your feet and nibble away all the dead skin.  That was enough to convince my mother and I that this would be money well spent!

The sensation was like no other I’ve had before.  It felt almost like a low level electrical current or slight vibration was covering my feet and toes as these little fish greedily scoured them clean.  I giggled a few times when they got between my toes, but for the most part it was a pleasant experience.  Supposedly this treatment is good for circulation, psoriasis, and the healing of scars, but I don’t care about any of these things.  I just thought it felt good!

Perhaps my favorite part of traveling is eating.  This is why this is my third trip to Thailand.  I intend to eat Thai food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, until I start to sweat chili paste!  What I did not count on was being a meal myself.

Who Likes To Sleep?


Tomorrow I am leaving with my family for Thailand.  My brother lives in Bangkok and we have not seen him in over a year.  Our plan is to spend a few days getting over jet lag, and then we will head over to Vietnam for a couple weeks, and then back to Thailand.

As much as I am looking forward to seeing my brother and eating Thai food three times a day, what I am most excited about at the moment is the jet lag!

For some reason I have always enjoyed the process of adapting to the day night cycle of a distant time zone.  It is so cool how my body wants to sleep at 3:00 in the afternoon, but at 3:00 in the morning I am wide awake!  Slowly over the course of a few days I want to sleep less in the afternoon, and start sleeping more at night.  The ride is over, and I have to go back to my normal, less interesting, routine.

I know that might sound odd to some people but here is why I like jet lag.  When I am wide awake in the middle of the night, I get to do whatever I want.  I embrace the jet lag for all it is worth!  I like to read books, go for a moonlit run, watch a movie, maybe write a blog, play the guitar, or even cook breakfast to be eaten when the rest of the world wakes up.  It makes me wonder what life would be like if I didn’t have to sleep.

If I had an extra 7 hours or so tagged onto every day that would be an extra 52 days a year to live!  What could I do with an extra 52 days?  Maybe I could learn to speak Russian.  Maybe I could learn to play the piano.  Maybe I could get another part time job as a video game tester and make extra cash.  Maybe I could build my own house.  Maybe I could invent a new color and paint a mural or try my hand at sculpture.  The possibilities are endless and jet lag offers me a brief glimpse of what life without sleep would be like.

I know there are a lot of sleep lovers out there, so lets put it to a vote.  Write a comment to this blog or email me your opinion on sleep.  Would you give it up if you could or do you enjoy your hours of slumber too much?  I will tally the votes and let you know who wins.