Wednesday, May 27, 2015


This was a surprise photo, filled with surprise meaning. It was taken at the Chicago Style Gymnastics meet in February, 2015.

Initially it was going to be a missed photo since I feel strongly about respecting the National Anthem. But there was something about the way these gymnasts were standing after the struggles they’ve had all year, that moved me to take the shot.

I’m so glad I did. 

For me, it shows a focus, a drive, a dedication, a fierceness that will never be broken.

…even when some were injured

…even when most had painful rips in their hands

…even after a very tough year with tough scores

…even after drama that they should not have experienced

…even after a decision by some to move on at years end


They focus.

They dedicate themselves to something bigger than just a sport.

They strive to be the best women they can be.

They share a deep experience they’ll never forget.

They seem to stand before the world saying:

“I am ready to face whatever comes”

“I am proud of who I am, regardless of what happens"

“I am at my best when I stand side-by-side with you"

“Don’t worry…I got your back"

…and at least one of them, my daughter, seems to say:

“You may not know what it took to get here, but that’s OK. I won’t brag. I’m just doing what I love. If I get recognition…great. If not, well, that wasn’t really the point anyway. When it’s done, it will really seem like just the beginning…like I was training for something that the wisdom, confidence, and focus I’ve gained will help me in each future moment of my life."

I love you, Julia. I’m so glad I got to experience this journey with you. I can’t wait for the next one!


Photo note: I also learned that while I could greatly improve my camera gear, at that particular moment, more important than the right gear was serendipitously being in the right location, the right angle to the flag, and low enough in the bleachers to get the shot. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Focus Fail - Its All About The Texture

Focus. It's a fantastic thing. 

Focus creates success.

Focus enhances productivity.

I believe so much I wrote about it here before.

But I’m learning…too late, I know…that I focus on the wrong thing…or too many things…or focus on stuff I have no control over. I also forget the point of focusing…to see the detail, the texture, that you otherwise would miss.

…after all, it’s that texture that gives close-up photos such interest, right? So why wouldn’t it give anything in life more interest?


Focus on what you are able to fix, and repair it.  

I get paralyzed with fear/anxiety/whatever if I’m overwhelmed and focus on the anxiety, focus on all the problems or deadlines.  Instead, if I focus on one thing (like this weed), I can understand what the problem is, and understand how to solve it. 

And, while I focus on on it, I may find that it is much more textured than I thought…and some parts of the problem are actually strengths! I mean look at the crown of this dandelion. It’s beautiful…and look how the seeds are just waiting for the next wind to propel it to create something new…there’s a whole world of inventions waiting just based on that observation. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if I treated the whole weed as a problem and just pulled it.

Focus on the beauty next to you, not the flaws

See the missing flower pedals? Me too. I actually tried to find a photo with only open flowers and no ‘flaws’. But now I look at it and think, “How beautiful are those flowers…and even more beautiful with the texture of the ‘finished flowers’"

I can’t control when the wind comes, when the rain will knock down these pedals, but I can choose to cherish the scent, the colors, and the textures of what I do have in my life right now.  I mean how awesome is it to have 4 kids and a wife in a beautiful home and land? Why should pressures at work, fears of ‘being valued’ matter when I’m next to them?

Focus on emerging opportunities

I could predict what will happen to these flower buds, but why? I should focus on where they are at in their journey now…just like I should focus on the journey my new opportunity is taking so I can learn, grow, and become a better person from it. Could the emerging opportunity go sideways? Not turn out like I thought? Sure. Most likely will. But I can find the good and the growth in it anyway…and it shouldn’t for one minute distract my focus from WHY I’m taking the opportunity (to be a better person, husband, believer, father, writer, musician…).

Focus on strengths, experience, and value

I’m turning into an ‘old-timer’. Just like this old bench, I’ve had many experiences that shape who I am today. I’ve got strengths that provide unique value. However, I tend to focus on how I’m different from all the new folks….how I’m not so polished. I should cherish that difference. Be confident in what value I provide that compliments the value others provide. 

Focus on Random Beauty

This is a budding Sumac. This will last all of 3 days until the leaves unfold. I never noticed it before, but it’s awesome. Instead of focusing on how the sumac is moving across our prairie and could take over more of our park than I want, at least for a while I can focus on the beauty it brings…how it stands confidently and almost gives a middle finger to whatever tries to get in its way. Maybe something to learn from.

Focus on Doing Things Differently

I know it’s a popular saying, but it seems to fit for me. If I try to be somebody else, or try to do things the way others do it, I don’t do it as well (whether it’s speaking, designing, playing guitar, etc). While the path may suggest to do it one way, if I do it different, like create my own arch over the path, I may annoy some, but I may create something beautiful that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.

Focus on the Beauty All Around You

I’ve built an awesome life (like this awesome pond I built with my Dad). While some folks have their life planned out, mine seems to have fallen haphazardly into place through a thousand little decisions (and a couple big ones) that created the unique journey resulting in what we have now.

It’s beautiful. Wife, Kids, Home, Church, Music, Travel, Dog (damn dog), all of it…beautiful.

Perfect? Nope. There are rocks and rapids, and some rotten things flapping in the stream, but all of it adds texture. Gives it interest. Creates the compelling story.

Which comes back to focus on the texture.

It’s the texture that brings interest. 

It’s the texture that makes something beautiful.

So here’s to this awesome life…filled with texture…I shouldn’t wish it any other way.  

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