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Tagged ‘Community‘

Seriously Slow – How Attitude Impacts Success

A week ago, I took my four of my attitudes – excited, hyper-focused, bad-word-mad, and crestfallen – for a little jog. A 5K fun run. The 5K that I’d gotten into a froth over the day before, when I picked up my race bib.

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I’m new to the fun run world, and there is still a lot I’m learning. Corrals, for instance; the grouping of runners in sections according to their self-declared pace. When I signed up months ago for this particular fun run, having no idea how fast I could go (or if I could even finish) I left the corral question blank.

Then I ran a few fun runs. And didn’t die. And I found I liked it. And found my groove. And went from mostly walking to waving the bragging flag of a 10-minute mile.

I was giddy and the expo was going full blast when I arrived; a wonderland of goodie bags, giant inflatable marshmallows, bouncy music, and stacks of race bibs. I stepped up to claim my place in the race. Read more →

Rise and Shine

Sunday sunup. Blurgh. Are you kidding me? Blinking unreasonably early. 5:30. Not even Hugh Jackman putting on a bucolic show in the old barn outside my window would make getting up at this idyllic hour worth it.

Well… maybe. It may be a beautiful morning. But I can’t tell. For one thing, it’s halfway dark. For the other, my windows are FILTHY!

A window is a wonderful thing. For you young whippersnappers, a window is how we used to gaze at the world before we found the “flat thing” (AKA electronic communication device) into which we currently face plant.

Today, I tell myself, is a big bright opportunity for fresh perspective. (This is how the motivator motivates herself to tackle a daunting task like washing the windows.) I dig in, but can’t figure how to get the storms off. And I’m too stubborn to ask for help.

For those of you in clement climates, “storms” are exterior plates of glass that protect your windows from the elements. “Storms” are another layer of energy efficiency. Very useful actually. And an apt allegory to my ability to armor up, add an extra layer of defense distancing me from the outside world when I feel like I might not present a pristine façade, or fall down, or look dumb, or not be in the know.

You wanna’ know what I know?
The less competent I feel, the more armor I pile on. Additional protective layers that provide me thicker insulation and isolation, and therefore make it tougher to ask for help.

You wanna’ know what I don’t know?
I’m elbow deep in squeegees and glass cleaner and I don’t know how to Wrassle. The. Dang. Storms. Off. These. Windows.

I’ve only wrecked one so far. Pretty good for just under an hour. Out of breath and patience, I sit down for a coffee and some perspective. Search YouTube for “How to clean a double hung window”, where I find this:


(I don’t know who this fella is, but he oughta have his own television show. He’s a hoot and a half.)

I get me some learnin’ right quick, and a laugh. I calm down and consider changing my name to Bubba. I still don’t know how to wrassle the storm windows from their casing, but I don’t care. Armed with fresh perspective, I take a fresh approach.

Go outside. Get a ladder. Shift to a new vantage point.

While I’m balanced on shaky ground, trying not to tumble into the soft patch of cypress between my cottage and the neighbor’s, or over-traumatize her yapping pug, she comes out to investigate. Turns out she has the same windows. And an owner’s manual. Which she offers to lend me.

We look at each other; shake hands across the short fence dividing our yards. I pet the pug, which remarkably stops barking and seems to like me fine. It is the closest we’ve been since I moved in. Up until now, we’ve just waved from a distance, through the window.

You go where you look, so look where you go.

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.

Oh, what a beautiful Mornin’
Oh, what a beautiful day.
I’ve got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s goin’ my way.

Keep Calm and Ninja On

Editing a book is a roller coaster of love.  Some days are lofty and divine, each word floating into place with a satisfying series of keyboard clicks.  Some days there is a plunging feeling, sotto-voce screaming, and tossing bombastic words overboard like ballast.

My mantra?  Keep Calm and Ninja On.

Writing The Ninja Network is an HONOR I take to heart, because it is from my heart.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, while I get it good enough for Mighty & Awesome YOU!

Here is a bit from the most recent text:

Ninjas are the result of in-person collisions I call “nuclear proaction”:  
the sparks of life that ensue when you throw yourself wholeheartedly into the midst of community, making connection points and transitioning to new ways of being.

Proactive Proof of Nuclear Ninja Kapow!
Image capture, Ryan Haro.

Firefighters Fan the Flame of Enthusiasm

I climbed two firefighters. For charity. Fundraising. Really. Is it hot in here, or is it just…?

Truth be told, I didn’t climb them. They hoisted me. Like a giggling sack of potatoes, or an unmanageable battering ram. I guarantee I was more than unwieldy. The whole thing made me giddy. Apparently they do this regularly. I’m in good company.

St. Paul Firefighters Calendar 2013

Bob and Nate train a bunch.
It’s a big job!

I’m happy to blame the bulk of it on my buddy Peggy. Peggy is a planner, always prepared. She mentioned she needed a calendar for next year. I instantly thought of the St. Paul Firefighters Calendar, and (with the most altruistic intention, of course) volunteered nonchalantly to secure a signed copy for her at a local “Grand Opening” shindig. Oh how I suffer for Peggy.


Paging through my calendar (ya sure you betcha I bought one for myself) to see what the fellas inscribed – which, if you must know, was very nice and included the phrases “rescue me” and “smokin’ hot” – I found the list of initiatives and charities the St. Paul Firefighters Calendar supports. The real reason the men and women of fire departments – not only in St. Paul but across the country – are “smokin’ hot” has very little to do with celebrity appearances or images on calendar pages. It’s what they do for their community. Relentlessly. Every single day.

The next afternoon I pulled into my neighborhood gas station for a fill-up and witnessed what looked like the aftermath of an attack. Of what kind, I know not, but I watched several Samaritans guide a disoriented person gently from the middle of the street to the curb to settle and wait. Within sixty seconds sirens sounded and a fire engine full of ardent firefighters pulled around the corner. Moments later, an ambulance of paramedics. Proof that a helping hand is near, when we reach for it. That someone will run in, even if they don’t know us, to get us.

So well trained in what they do, that they can help you. That’s why firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics are smokin’ hot.

They train for this; the eventuality we don’t want to consider. They look for ways to help us avoid an emergency or recover from catastrophe. They are calm in calamity. In my book, they are Ninjas.

Needless to say, I’ve got firefighters on the brain. I took a poll.

Poll: I love firefighters. Do you? Why?
• They are tough. They are courageous.
• They use those powers for good.
• The willingness to put themselves in harms way for the greater safety of others.
• They going into danger knowing they may not come out.
• They have PERSPECTIVE, an excellent bunch of praise-demurring superheroes.
• Because we run inside to save someone we may not even know.

The last phrase arrested my eye. “We”.  I read it again. “We run inside”.  That’s Joe. Joe is a guy I know who has been building a career as a firefighter with dignity and quiet intensity since…well…

Joe D'Amico Firefighter

Joe never wanted to be anything but a firefighter.
Thanks to Joe’s dad, for fanning the flame of enthusiasm!

I asked him to tell me more. When Joe was a kid…

“…my dad, on a whim, told my mom and grandma that he was going to apply for the volunteer fire department. I spent time at the station with my dad and played in the trucks and did everything a little kid at a fire station would do. As I got older, my dad shared stories with me about calls he went on, how things happened, and it just got me really interested. He eventually was promoted to Lieutenant, then Captain, and is now the Assistant Chief of the Town of Brookfield Fire Department where he started 19 years ago.

After 9/11, I grew a lot closer to my dad. I began talking to him and expressing interest in becoming a firefighter. To this day he has been a major part in helping me succeed in reaching my goals. And after 9/11, I felt like I needed to do something to help people. Granted, I was in 4th grade when 9/11 happened, but that feeling of wanting to help people lead me to becoming a firefighter.

I know this is a long-winded response to simply say “I do it because I want to help people.” But I never would have been interested if it wasn’t for my dad. I’m a firefighter because I want to help people on their worst day. I’m a firefighter because I want to pay my respects to the 343 firefighters that gave their lives trying to save a stranger. And most importantly, I’m a firefighter because I love my dad, and I want to thank him for everything he has done for me, and the community he serves.”  ~ Joe D’Amico of the Lisbon, WI Fire Department

D'Amico Firefighters Like Father Like Son

Like Father, Like Son.
The D’Amicos fight for community
and bring HONOR full circle.

Community. Honor. Smokin’ hot.

Proceeds from 2013 St. Paul Firefighters Calendar go to training and education, health and wellness, community safety, professional firefighter attire, and to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Of course I bought two. Wouldn’t you? (Here’s where to go when you do.)