“Keep the Change”

While volunteering at a concession stand during a college football game I observed 3 types of customers.

1. The thief – “I need a new bag of popcorn…my son spilled the last one.” I wanted to tell him that we didn’t sell “popcorn insurance”. Perhaps if it wasn’t halftime with an endless line of customers I would have requested photographic evidence.

“Hey you just sold me this bud light and it’s filled with water.” My colleague poured it out and sure enough, it was water. Cause for suspicion?

2. The honest – Some people would stand back and look at the menu for 20 minutes. Others would roll right up without ever looking at the menu and say, “I’ll take a sprite or whatever you have.” Some people had wads of cash, others had to count their pennies. Whether they had money or not, they were honest. “You give me a product or service, I give you money in exchange.” This is 90% of the consumer population.

3. The giver – This percentage of the population made a particularly strong impression upon me.

No tip jar in sight, and they still asked “Do you guys accept tips?”  

As if it wasn’t enough to pay $6 for a soda (or a hotdog encased in a moldy bun), $16 for two beers and $8 bucks for a bag of stale peanuts…then they GIVE after being robbed!

THE CHALLENGE: Find opportunities to be “the giver”. Make someone’s day, remind them there is good in the world. Good is contagious.  

Four Things…

  1. If I could give my 18-year-old self just one piece of advice it would be “master your craft”.
  2. If my 80-year-old self could come give me just one piece of advice I hope it would be “master your craft”.
  3. If I could get one piece of advice from anyone I ever looked up to, dead or alive, I hope it would be “master your craft”.
  4. If I could give YOU one piece of advice it would be…you guessed it…MASTER YOUR CRAFT.


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”  – Bruce Lee

Photo by me (years ago, trying to master my craft)



Having ideas and knowing what to write are two entirely different things. I have a list of ideas for potential blog topics longer than I care to tell.  Funnily enough, most of what I write does not come off of that running list.

Today is one of those days. I feel uninspired and I don’t quite know what to write. Maybe that’s because what needed to be written has already been articulated.

The following is an email sent out from a respected leader.  The message is succinct, poignant and worthy of reflection. 

Subject: September 11th

NMOTC Family, 
Seven years ago I was flying to Afghanistan when I noticed our charter flight was flying right by New York City. At night, Manhattan was clearly visible with all its lights. My thoughts turned to all those who perished there, simply because they lived the American way of life. How could anyone hate us so much?

My children have never known a time when we had Peace. Sadly, nearly half a generation has gone by and it appears things have not changed. Yet another generation has been raised to hate us and want nothing more than to destroy our way of life.

Today as we remember, let us never forget. Also, Thank You for all you do to train those who will go out and save those who fight for us, each and every day. 


The Meaning of Rain

Overhead clouds just teased the parched earth with a rare southern California sun shower. It was a refreshing sight, short lived…but refreshing nonetheless.

What is the primary purpose of rain? Is it to clean the air? Give life and vigor to the plant kingdom? Provide a water source for adult recreation? If you ask my son, he might give you a different answer…

“Wow, it’s raining – that means there is going to be a rainbow!”


On many occasions, rain can be a burden. Rain can crash weddings, sporting events, or a day at the beach. Rain can cause flooding, damage property, promote injury, or increase populations of unwanted pests – such as mosquitoes. Each of these items acts as stimuli for an emotional response. Maybe you feel mad at God, the insurance company, the meteorologist, or yourself for picking the wrong day for a celebration.

The rainbow isn’t something you “take”. You don’t put it in your pocket. You don’t put it in your piggy bank. But there is gold involved. Rainbows are something you look at, you pause, you appreciate, you smile, you snap a photo and you share it. Trials will give you a new way to look at life. That my friend…is…the rainbow.  Sharing it…is…the gold.

THE CHALLENGE:  When you encounter life’s struggles, it “means there’s going to be a rainbow.”  Look for it, then look at it, then share it.

Photo by Gail



“Extra! Extra!”

Before TV, radio, and the internet, people got their information from newspapers. In those days it was a lot harder to “tweet” out a message to the world. Newspaper carriers would call out the phrase “Extra! extra! Read all about it!” This indicated that there was “breaking news” that occurred after the originally intended newspaper had printed. An extra section was then printed to include the latest and greatest happenings.


I suspect the publishers had to be judicious with their additions. It was a massive undertaking. The stories had to be good enough to recoup the cost of production.

Today’s communication medium has no such limitation. This is unfortunate indeed. Why? We miss the main story! All day long we consume the “extra! extra!” stories. We are drowning in information but starving for wisdom. We are liable to waste time browsing rather than searching. Our minds are radically malnourished on the media’s nutrition plan.

THE CHALLENGE:  Get away from all the “extra” information you don’t need. If you are following my blog (thank you) it means you STILL have goals and aspirations to fulfill, which means you need TIME to make them happen. Do you really need to scroll your social media, again?  Do you really need to open that junk mail? Will you really fall for that click bait? Stick with the main story, preferably your own!

Photo by Dustin Diaz

Humps For Days

“Hey dad, what should I draw next?”

“Draw a camel.”

“Okay, how many humps do you want it to have?”

“Just one”


Camel humps store fat (not water). These humps provide nourishment to the camel when food sources are low. When the fat reserves are utilized, the humps sag like deflated balloons. It takes two things to “re-inflate” the hump:

(1) Food

(2) Rest

Your dreams, your vision for what you REALLY WANT TO DO OR BECOME is like a camel hump. There are times when it is full and robust. There are times when it is drooping and appears like a wilted flower. A vision must be fed, then affirmed through appropriate action. A vision must be protected (like rhino horns). Achieving a vision doesn’t occur overnight, so take some rest. Allow time for your thoughts and efforts to digest. Dream, act, rest.  Dream, act, rest.  Dream, act, rest. It’s a constant cycle. If you are not where you want to be it is because one or more elements of this cycle have been neglected.

THE CHALLENGE:  Too many “humps” equates to mediocrity. Pick a single hump to focus on. After tending to all of life’s responsibilities, that’s about all we really have time for anyway. Now, go re-inflate your hump! Here are three way to do this…

(1) Go dream

(2) Go act

(3) Go rest


Photo by compassrose_04

Shark Attack

Cubicles are dreadfully uninspiring and most of my workday is presently spent in the unforgiving grasp of four drab walls. I make it a point to frequently stand up and wander the office space. Today, an observant watchstander made a clever estimation after he saw me roam the building, “Nasfell, what are you doing? You’re like a shark swimming around a tank.”


On the way home I was listening to a Neil Gaiman book where he stated, “Sharks are better at being sharks than anything else.” (Okay, okay that settles it…I know what I have to write about.)

I love this idea from Neil, although I’ve always applied it to chess pieces. A knight is powerful because it moves like a knight. A bishop is powerful because it moves like a bishop. A rook does not try to imitate a knight or a bishop. Each piece is impeccably flawless and fiercely powerful in its own right.


THE CHALLENGE:  You are like a chess piece. Determine what “piece” you are and stay true to that, and that alone. We spend too much time trying to change – and not enough time trying to be what we are. In your social interactions, remember – we are different – and that is okay! Genetic diversity is nature’s strength as it is society’s. Be careful not to judge a fish for its inability to climb a tree.

Photos by Nan Palmero and Steve Johnson