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Slow Days of Summer

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Summer always meant visiting my grandparent’s farm. It was a different world—from the small brick building that held a bustling kitchen with its large walk-in refrigerator, to the huge shop that smelled of engines and grease. 
Outbuildings hid farm equipment from past generations and the old barn still smelled of hay and horses, although it had been years since there had been either. 











An ancient hand pump dispensed refreshingly cold well water on the hottest of summer days and the windmill captured the slightest breeze making a creaking sound as it spun.
These were the slow days of summer. School was a distant memory and I could finally relax.







I rode my dad’s old bike with its single gear—up and down wheat field-lined roads. I tamed feral barn cats, collected eggs, picked apricots, and saved a lifetime’s worth of memories.
And just like that, my summer visits ended. There was college, marriage, work, and then a baby. 









One hot day I came back to visit—to recall those slow days of summ…

Stand in America

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Standing on the sidewalk in front of the ferry terminal, I waited for my ride. Several taxis idled nearby. Just in case I hadn’t noticed the taxi closest to me, a man climbed out of the driver’s seat and waved.

His smile dazzled brilliantly against his ebony skin. I smiled back. He walked over. “I give you ride?” he asked politely.



I explained that I had someone coming to pick me up. His smile barely faded. He gestured to the Seattle skyline behind him and asked, “You live here?” 
I pointed to the water behind me and explained I lived across the water, about eighty miles away.  He nodded excitedly, “America is wide!” The way he used the word “wide”  was so endearing. I chuckled. “I learn English in school here.” He explained, “I want to stand in America.”


He’d waited years for the chance to come from Kenya. Now he drove taxi, studied hard, and loved talking to people—he said that’s how he practiced his words. 







My ride pulled up, and the taxi driver opened the door for me, waved at my…

My Serving of Humble Pie

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After two summers working in a paper mill’s bleach lab, this college sophomore wasn’t going back. But how could I make enough money to pay the bills? My entrepreneurial boyfriend, Tom, had an idea. Granted, the idea came after I baked him a pecan pie, but I listened as he outlined a sensible plan.
He’d find buyers for pies we’d make. Easy money, I thought.


While we tackled college finals, we also filled out state business license forms and took our food handler’s tests. Tom negotiated with a bakery run by some recent college graduates—we’d use it after hours, while baking pies for the restaurant accounts Tom lined up. Mud Pie Company was born. See, I told you it would be easy.
Tom purchased supplies and I got rolling. Literally. Rolling hundreds of crusts. Tom measured and stirred pie filling.  Money was rolling in too. Didn’t I tell you it was easy? 

The hot June turned into a hotter July and blistering August. Pies came out of searing ovens by the tray full. Deliveries were made vi…

Help Those Close to Home

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Summer solstice brings amazing tidal action along the coastline—real low tides and then large waves that bring all sorts of things to shore. 
I carefully made my way over seaweed covered rocks, enjoying the hot sun. An eagle perched on a rock, watchful for the next meal.

As I was about to place my boot on the next rock, I saw a stranded sea creature—a medium sized Dungeness crab. 
The tide was on its way out, and this forlorn crab wouldn’t survive until the water’s return. I knelt down and gingerly picked it up with her pinchers away from me. 
Crab legs frantically moved in unison—the defense mechanisms kicking in against her anticipated demise. Yet, she didn’t know I had a different plan.


I made my way across the exposed tidal flat, then bent down and placed the struggling crab in the water. She scurried into the kelp bed and was immediately hidden. I stood and looked back at the distance I’d covered. No way the crab could have ever made it on its own. And there were probably other strand…

The Real Father

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He never became a father in the conventional way—fatherhood came packaged with a wife and a nearly teenaged son. Transitions are never easy—ask anyone who has blended a family. 
And some heart therapy was needed for this aging bachelor, now dad, and a boy who left behind tree-lined streets that were perfect for riding his bike with friends. 
In what seemed like an instant, the old life was gone, and the new one was, well, tough.





Now this new father and son faced one another across a huge barn. Chores included hauling buckets of grain. But the boy had never carried anything that heavy and he slopped grain over the sides. The new father told him to go slower and carry less until it got easier.
It was like that—they both had to go slower and carry less expectations while they adjusted to this father-son thing. The boy’s life was a thousand miles away from everything he’d ever known. Yes, he needed to go slow.


The family dutifully drove 15 miles along rural roads every Sunday to attend c…

Unlikely Friends

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Patricia graduated near the top of her high school class—with aims of a CEO position in the corporate world. She’d written a personal manifesto with a dozen lofty goals to achieve before she turned thirty.








Grace’s agenda was digging deep roots in her hometown. She married her high school boyfriend and had two children. While she was busy changing diapers and managing a home, Patricia studied abroad, learned to speak Spanish, German, Chinese, and got her MBA.
Back in high school, Grace and Patricia had been one another’s confidant. Even though one studied and the other preferred television, they shared what mattered—friendship. 



They refused to let time and distance break apart their friendship. They dutifully held quarterly lunch meetings—made possible through Patricia’s corporate travels. 
Neither one ever experienced the other’s world. Patricia circulated in a rich, art-loving New York crowd. Grace was president of her kid’s PTA and a Sunday school teacher.
Patricia never married—s…

Live with the End in Mind

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I was seventeen and getting ready to start my senior year. At a leadership camp, I was sitting with other seniors and the group leader told us to imagine where we wanted to be 10 years from our high school graduation. Next, he asked us to imagine our lifetime.
Then he had us do something odd—write our own obituary.
It’s a harder assignment than you might think. After a lifetime, how do you want to be remembered? 






Here’s a little seasoned advice:
Live your life with the end in mind. Ending well requires living well.
Living well requires making good investments. And I’m not talking just financial investments.
I’m talking about investing in people.
You may educate yourself in one city or another, you may work in a variety of places, but everywhere you go, there will be people. Challenge yourself to be someone people respect and want to be around. 

Be the one who helps out. 
Be the one who offers some laughter and the one people look forward to seeing.
Be the one who works hard, even when the work …