Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Mental battles.  Aren't they the greatest?  I recently found myself fighting a big one.  Epic.  It was keeping me up at night and dominating all my quiet moments. 

Long story short, I was completely over-analyzing a situation.  I was deconstructing all of my words and actions, and wondering how people interpreted them.  Did they read things this way?  That way?  Sideways?  I hope they didn't read it that way.  Or *that* way.  Yikes.  What if they did?  I bet they did.  I bet they're angry / hurt / suspicious / disgusted / disappointed.  I bet they think I'm a horrible person. I bet.... the downward, fearful spiral was out of control. 

Do you ever have a memory so vivid you can almost hear it out loud? In the middle of my mental hurricane, I suddenly heard my father's voice:  "If you tell goin' by on a gallopin' horse..."

I was nine years old, helping my Dad finish our basement.  We were working on cutting paneling for the wall at the base of the stairs.  I was as much of a perfectionist then as I am now.  And I was getting really... um... specific... (and frustrated) with this one line in the wall. 

Dad: It's fine. Grandpa used to tell me "If you can't tell goin' by on a gallopin' horse, it doesn't matter."
Me: *pointing out the obvious flaw in his statement* But you couldn't even see this from a galloping horse.
Dad:  Exactly.
Me:  Oh. *insert mental click here* 

Those words brought peace to my storm.  They snapped me out of my fearful spiral and allowed me a moment of clarity to remember that I spoke and acted the way I always would -- from a clean, sincere, loving heart. 
Suddenly all those condemning thoughts were miraculously silenced.
Sometimes details are important.  But sometimes being wrapped up in tiny imperfections is just counterproductive.  And I don't think there's ever a time when it's useful to worry about things I don't know or can't control.   
"If you can't tell goin' by on a gallopin' horse..."
Thanks Dad.  I needed to hear that.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Ever since the speakers in my car decided they'd had enough, the times I spend in my car have become wonderful periods of reflection.  During one such time (driving home in the wee hours of the morning after watching Game 6 of the Red Wings / Blackhawks series), I had an epiphany.  Maybe because it's Stanley Cup season and I always have hockey on the brain.  Maybe it's because I feel guilty for not having a "word of the year."  I don't know.  But that morning I realized: 

I'm totally having "Cleary" kind of year.

I like Danny Cleary.  I've liked him ever since I was introduced to the wonderful sport of hockey.  He isn't a headliner like Zetterburg or Franzen.  He's not a living legend like Lidstrom or Datsyuk.  He's just a hardworking grinder who gets things done.  His work ethic is bar none.  He's a heart and soul player who truly loves his team. Every once in a while he gets to come into the spotlight, but most of the time Cleary's contributions are behind the scenes.  
My schedule hasn't really stopped since I came back from Uganda.  I have a highlight or two in there, but most of the time I've just been grinding away at everyday life.   (I suppose they don't call it the daily grind for nothing.)  It's been demanding.  But I'm taking a lesson from hockey.  Sometimes, it's those things that go on beneath the radar that make all the difference. 

Since it's graduation season, I'm seeing "11"s everywhere.  So perhaps it's no accident that 2011 should be a Cleary year for me.  Now that I've seen it, I want to embrace it -- to put my heart and soul in everything I do and attack this year with a work ethic that would make Dan Cleary proud.