90 years of a life well lived and some wisdom

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on October 8, 2017. It can also be found online here.

My grandmother-in-law turns 90 this weekend, so I called and announced myself with a self-deprecating ice breaker: “It’s your good-for-nothing grandson-in-law.” Before I got the last syllable out, she pushed back with infectious positivity, telling me, “What do you mean good-for-nothing?” and then how excited she was for the great-grandkid pictures I’d recently posted.

The young don’t spend much time with the aged outside gift-giving events, which seems almost criminal in that it robs younger folk of the real presents on offer: wisdom and experience. Continue reading “90 years of a life well lived and some wisdom”

Good marriage is a connection where two shine as one

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 22, 2017. It can also be found online here.

Chances are you’re going to a wedding soon. 40 percent of weddings now take place as the fall sets in and leaves change color, up from 30 percent in 2009, according to the largest industry survey of its kind. And September and October are tied for the months of the year with the most marriages.

These numbers make my wife a walking statistic: she’s currently on a two week excursion to two weddings, one overseas in Croatia and one domestic in Pennsylvania.

With all the time and expense that weddings entail, as the average one nowadays tops $35,000 (without the honeymoon), it’s worth thinking a bit about why we go to so much trouble. What does marriage really do for us? Why do we bother?

I’m certainly no expert on the subject. Just someone working hard at my own marriage, like many others. But I’ve had nearly a decade of experience at it by now, and have observed the ups and downs of many other marriages. And so I feel qualified to offer some thoughts on our curious custom of coming together. Continue reading “Good marriage is a connection where two shine as one”

A Real "Silver Linings Playbook"

This past September, my younger brother Kevin gave a modified, generic greeting card to my wife Rachel and I, that, in conclusion, read: “you saved my life.”  I hugged him and reminded him of how far he had come through his hard work.  Then, when Rachel and I went up to bed, in the quiet of our bedroom, we acknowledged how stunned we were.

Kevin had come to live with us at West Point, New York, where I teach a course at the United States Military Academy on military strategy to cadets, in order to lose enough weight to join the U.S. Army.  In mid-June I weighed him in at 222; the Army standard for his height is 189 pounds.  Kevin arrived just before Independence Day weekend and set to work.  Three workouts a day (the vast majority being non-impact aerobic exercise) with some running mixed in to keep things interesting.  Small, light meals and dinner was always at the table to encourage discussion and fellowship.  Oh, an a little boxed wine to keep the spirits up (good for the environment and good for the soul).

Continue reading “A Real "Silver Linings Playbook"”