(Issue #504) The Fragile Beauty and Randomness of Life


A terminal illness is a lens through which that which matters most can
shift into perfect clarity. Anger and sorrow do not dictate my life.
-Marina Pomare Kaplan-

This past week our community lost an intelligent, bright, and giving soul. My wife and I connected with Marina Pomare Kaplan at a neighborhood meeting. We had gathered in the park across from our home to discuss our community—what was good about it and what could be better.  We were immediately taken by her quiet, personable, and focused persona. Sitting there, ball cap on her shaven head, she smiled, encouraged, and added to the conversation. More than anything, she listened and asked authentic questions.  After the meeting, I immediately reached out to Marina. I wanted to learn more about and from her.

What a delight and breath of fresh air!

I learned about (and soon thereafter, met) her family. And I learned about Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC). In fact, Marina and I scheduled a date to record a podcast about MBC. She had to cancel because of her having to go the Emergency Room. We rescheduled—and had to postpone again. On January 1 of this year, she reached out to confirm the rescheduled date. Unfortunately, we were not able to record the episode.  She passed on January 13, 2020.

In typical Marina fashion, however, she sent me documents with her thoughts about cancer, family, life, and purpose.  I will share a few of her thoughts here as they are instructive for all of us. A reminder to live with verve, wit, intellect, purpose, and love. Embrace the vulnerability. And live each moment.

Marina, we will miss you. We will never replace you. And your words will live on as your legacy. Your optimism. Your tenacity. Your realism. Your drive. It is up to us to pay attention and not let life get in the way of living a meaningful life.

Here are Marina’s words (printed here with permission from her husband, Paul) on cancer, community, and connectedness. She titled this:

Musings on Life with Terminal Cancer.

A stage-4 cancer diagnosis is an awful shock, mind-numbing, disorienting and terribly frightening. It’s overwhelming. It devastates you and it devastates your family and friends. It fosters some of the worst thoughts and fears. Making those phone calls to your dear family and your closest friends is probably the worst single thing you will ever have to do. And then calling them again, and again, and again every time there is progression and again as the prognosis gets worse and again as it gets worse again….and again.

I will never say cancer is a gift, or cancer made me a better person. I will never put a positive spin on this awful relentless disease. It’s a horrible, random, crappy thing that happens to perfectly ordinary people living perfectly ordinary lives.

Where death was once an abstract concept and suddenly it’s right there in your face concrete and real and just around the corner. The smack in the gut when your doctor tells you to get your affairs in order and things like a DNR, a medical power of attorney, your funeral and your obituary become very real.

But, it’s not all fear and anguish all the time. There are extraordinary moments of brightness and living, and those moments of fully living life are most of my life.

Marina Pomare Kaplan

The sense of community and connectedness. The depth and breadth of my life has expanded tremendously since my diagnosis. I am buoyed up by my community – my family and my friends near and far. I’ve experienced extraordinary levels of kindness, and a profound feeling of connection.

People say things to me, beautiful caring things that they would most likely not have felt the need to say. People do things for me that are just boundless in their generosity. People have come out of the woodwork to show me love and open their hearts to me and my family. There is magic in the realization that the best of humanity is lifting you up, holding you close, reaching out and touching your life in whatever way they can. There is magic in the community that forms around you and those you love when crisis touches your life.

I have met extraordinary men and women through having metastatic breast cancer, we call ourselves the worst club with the best people.

I am acutely conscious of the extraordinary depth of love, gratitude and admiration I feel for my daughters and my husband, knowing what incredible gifts they are.

The fragile beauty of life: There’s also a shift in your perceptions when faced with a deeper understanding of the fragile beauty of life. Everything becomes clearer and everything becomes so profoundly precious. There is sheer bliss in the simple joys of life, felt so much more deeply when experienced alongside the knowledge that it’s fleeting and the reality of imminent loss… A terminal illness is a lens through which that which matters most can shift into perfect clarity. Anger and sorrow do not dictate my life.

There is always a tiny bit of hope. Statistics are statistics. Before my stage 4 diagnosis I paid attention to statistics. Now that on paper I am “a statistic” I realize that’s a tautology. I’m not, in fact, a statistic, none of us are. We are living breathing people and we are not the mean, mode or average. We are whatever we are and we really don’t know where we may fall under that statistical curve.

There’s so much excitement in me around the advances in research. So many promising things in the pipeline. So many brilliant and dedicated scientists. While there is so much we don’t know, there is also so much that is waiting to be done – things that may develop that change the course of my treatment for the better.

Accepting the randomness of our lives. Although there are moments of pity and “why me?” these moments are rare and brief. Because it’s a random thing and the “why me?” is met with a “why not?”. It helps so much knowing that there’s no one to blame, not myself, not a murderer wielding a gun. Just a bizarrely sophisticated and adaptive bunch of cells in my body having a grand old time. Giving up that self-defeating illusion of control. That takes off so much pressure and gives me a certain level of comfort – knowing and accepting that things can and will change in an instant. This certainty has provided me with a measure of peace.

Vulnerability. In this world we are taught to be strong, to take charge, to be powerful. It leaves little room for vulnerability. Having cancer and going through the truly awful toxic treatments, intense physical and emotional pain, hospitalizations, surgeries, constant needle sticks, scans and progression makes you come face to face with your vulnerability. I chose to give in to that vulnerability. I chose to not be strong and tough, but rather to float along with a feeling of going along with and accepting my vulnerability and not fighting it. Yes I’m aggressive about pursuing treatment and doing everything I can to prolong my life and take care of myself the best I can, but at the end of the day I completely accept that I am in a position of extreme vulnerability. And that’s OK.

Living in the present moment – I have always been present-oriented and more likely to live in the moment and be what’s now called mindful. I was this way long before it was fashionable, in fact back in the day it was pretty much frowned upon – we were supposed to be linear thinkers, planning, striving for future goals, logical type A’s. I was a type B minus. My doctoral dissertation was on temporal orientation (the interaction effects of temporal orientation and task conditionality on performance and motivation). I suppose I was trying to justify my present-oriented tendencies that came across as poor planning and laziness. Now, thank goodness, being mindful and being in the moment is a good thing, recognized for its health benefits. Being present-oriented is very useful when living with terminal cancer. Getting totally absorbed in little things like the feeling of soft warm sand, like the beauty of dew on a blade of grass, like the sound of waves or the smell of seaweed. Mmmm life is a beautiful thing. Also it helps that I have the attention span of a goldfish. One moment I’m frightened and worried, the next moment I forget to be frightened or worried.

But anyway, I firmly believe that all we have is the moment, that’s all we experience. Life is a series of moments and one day my moments will stop. But when you know that all you have is the moment, and there’s no experiencing the past and there’s no experiencing your future, just the present moment. In that way your present moment is eternal.  

Resilience – bouncing back. Am I the mole or am I the wielding the mallet? I thought of myself as the mole in whack-a-mole – I pop my head up optimistically and it gets whacked down. When I mentioned to a friend that cancer was like whack-a-mole she thought I meant that each progression is the mole popping up and that I whack it down with the mallet each time. It made me change my perspective for a while, I liked thinking of myself as wielding a mallet instead of being whacked on the head. But my thinking has evolved, now I realize I’m both the mole and I’m the wielder of the mallet. After all cancer is my body doing something.

________________________________________________________

Podcast recommendation for the week

Marina recorded this podcast at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. 

_____________________________________________

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.   Click here for more information about the book. In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
www.stevepiscitelli.com

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Issue #503) Identity, Integrity, and Purpose


Start a movement within our ranks.  A Vaclav-Havel-type of reclaiming
our profession from those who either
don’t know about it or have lost touch with it.

NOTE: I stumbled on notes from a talk I delivered to my teaching colleagues in January of 2002.  As I re-read my musings, I thought how these thoughts  still apply today, 18 years later. Maybe even more so today. Integrity does not go out of style. Purpose connects with identity.  I have abbreviated the comments for this piece.

While this is a bit longer than most of my posts, I encourage you to read all of it and see how it can/does apply to other professions, as well. Think how these words connect to your purpose—or your struggle to find purpose.

Here is what I said on that day to my colleagues.

____________________________________________

I’ve sat through a number of these events, enough to know there are a few things I do not like to hear: preaching, cheerleading, and a review of the latest book on how we should feel about our colleagues, our profession, or ourselves….

So, I asked myself, “Steve, what can you possibly say that has any value?”

Allow me to share thoughts on the community of teaching, what we try to do in this community, how the community comes under attack—and what we can do about that….

According to Parker Palmer, good teaching comes from both identity and integrity. Identity refers to those forces that make up our lives; who are we; who are we not.  Integrity is how we relate those forces in a way that brings about wholeness and life—not fragmentation and death. Purpose not disconnection.  The root word is integer or oneness.  Simply put, we arrive at our purpose in life by various routes.  We are an office manager, a counselor, a maintenance engineer, or a teacher because our life’s paths have brought us to this point. Hopefully, that point has integrity, has a reaffirming value on our lives—and an overall virtue.  It is our purpose….

Teaching is a virtuous activity, but it is not necessarily valued.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli.

Forces—usually someone else’s values—continually challenge education (our purpose). While some are external to our institution, some originate and incubate right within our walls. No matter how many committees or task forces we sit on, if the system continues to beat down its best resources—us—our profession is doomed.  So, what can we do?

One thing to do is what Vaclav Havel said as the  Czechs rebelled against Soviet domination.  The Czechs, Havel maintained, had to “reclaim” themselves by reminding themselves who they were.  Teachers need to do the same reclaiming.

Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique.  Good teaching comes from the identity and the integrity of the teacher.

_______________________

“If the work we do lacks integrity for us, then we, the work,
and the people we do it with will suffer.”- Parker Palmer

_______________________

 So, if we (you and I) are among the folks who have lost heart, where do we go from here? And if we haven’t lost heart, how can we help those who have? If the vision of our purpose has gotten side tracked, muddled, jumbled, what do we do?

One road is to move on, find another venue to ply the craft.  It’s a viable choice.

Another option is to start a movement within our ranks.  A Vaclav-Havel-type of reclaiming our profession from those who either don’t know about it or have lost touch with it.

Teaching, for good or bad, is a privatized profession—maybe one of the most privatized of the public professions.  We do our work alone in our classrooms or in our offices.  While that has benefits, it can also be very isolating; leading to disconnections amongst and between faculty—and the teacher bashing forces can take advantage of that fact….

Most movements make incremental adjustments as opposed to large-scale upheaval. But the movements have the power to “alter the logic of organizations.”

Photo ©Steve Piscitelli. 2019

I will end with something that a colleague said on this very stage just a few years ago—and it has always stayed with. Simple yet eloquent.  He reminded us to remember the joy and excitement we felt when we were students and he challenged us to allow our students, to help our students, to feel that same exhilaration as they marched into our rooms.  That same passion and joy.  After all, isn’t that our purpose, isn’t that the crux of our virtuous profession, and isn’t that why we have the courage to teach?

Let’s not forget we have one another.  May we all nurture our identity, our integrity, and our purpose

Make it a great term.

______________________________________________________________

Video Recommendation of the Week

Consider this reminder. As I told an auditorium of college faculty in Virginia (2015), when overwhelmed and discouraged, what is the one step you can take to move forward?  The step may be to find another purpose or refine a purpose. Keep making your story.

______________________________________________________________

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.

Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #502) Will You Dance Your Dance?


“Oh God, to reach the point of death only to find that
you have never lived at all.”
-Henry David Thoreau-

With the beginning of the year comes the inevitable listing of ambitious goals. I have written about the difference between goal setting and goal achievement. The first is no assurance of the second.

We can come up short on our goals for any number of lacks:

  • Lack of effort
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of consistent follow-through
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of preparation
  • Lack of __________ [you fill in the blank].

One lack that we may fail to recognize is that of authenticity.  I saw it with students and their college majors.  Specifically, when a student was following a career path dictated by something outside of herself. This could be the allure of money (I want this career because of the income), the tease of celebrity (I want to be adored by millions), or the expectation of family members (my parents say I need to be a doctor). None of these speak to the authenticity of the individual. They miss the heart and soul of the person.

Photo ©Steve Piscitelli. 2019

Re-reading a classic Leo Buscaglia book, I came across two reminders we might want to consider as we embark (before we embark?) on our goal achievement for 2020. In Buscaglia’s words:

  • “When you start following my way, it will lead you to me and you will get lost. The only way to follow is your  way.” (p. 131)
  • “I think you were made unique because you have some unique statement to make. Dedicate your life to finding out what that statement is.” (p. 174)

My goals have to be my goals. Your goals have to be your goals. How can you create your unique statement if you use my words, my reasoning, and my desires?

If I follow your dream, do I ever become me?

R.D. Laing stated, “I cannot experience your experience.”

And I cannot live your dream. In fact, can I really live my life to the fullest if my goal is to be a mini you? Is that authentic?

Or as Thoreau reminded us, “Oh God, to reach the point of death only to find that you have never lived at all.”

______________________________________________________________

Video Recommendation of the Week

Lee Ann Womack reminds us to dance our dance.

______________________________________________________________

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story.
Click here for more information about the book.

In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2020. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Life lessons | 2 Comments

(Issue #501) A Blogger’s Retrospective for 2019


May you create, share, and savor powerful moments
in the coming year and beyond.

-Happy New Year. Scroll down to view my Gratitude Video to you.-

While sitting in an Austin hotel room at the end of May 2010, I wrote my first post for this blog. At that time, I had three goals:

  • Experience a new (for me) aspect of social media (remember, it was 2010)
  • Develop and flesh out new ideas
  • Provide something of value—not just another cyber rant.

I believe I have accomplished the first and the second. It is up to you whether I have accomplished the third. My blog posts contain videos, book recommendations and summaries, questions to ponder, and always a takeaway to apply immediately to life.  I have remained true to my commitment to publish one blog post per week. This post marks the 501st consecutive week.  And I know that I am #alwayslearning!

Since the first post, this blog evolved into www.thegrowthandresiliencenetwork.net

Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing.  I would love to hear what you find of value on this blog. And, please feel free to share any ideas you have for future post

As has now become tradition for this blog, this last-of-the-year offering lists each of the previous week’s posts I added this year. Along with each title, you will find a teaser about each. Perhaps a nugget or two will provide inspiration. I have linked each title to the actual blog should you want to read it, re-read it, or share it. Thank you for your continued support and comments.

I also have included (1) top five blog posts (by number of views/visits) since I started this journey in 2010; and (2) the top five blog posts from 2019.

*Top Five All-Time Posts by Views on this Blog (Since 2010)* 

  1. (#194) Honor the Past. Celebrate the Present. Embrace the Future.
  2. (#86) A Model for Critical Thinking
  3. (#18) Crab Pot Mentality
  4. (#93) SQ4R: Strategic Reading Strategies for the Classroom and Beyond
  5. (#219) The First Day of Class: People Before Paper!

 

*Top Five 2019 Posts by Views on this Blog*

  1. (#451) The Conversation Starter
  2. (#499) The View from the Rainbow Bridge
  3. (#498) 30-30-30-30-30-30-30
  4. (#464) Food. Family. Farewell.
  5. (#472) Action, Gratitude, and Community

 *2019 in Review*

  1. Respectful Relationships * Respectful relationships help build lasting, meaningful, accepting, loving, nurturing, and sustaining communities.
  2. The Conversation Starter * There are no strangers; only friends she has yet to meet.
  3. Cognitive Distortions * Can you say, “fake news”? Or “leading statements”?
    Or “inferences based on limited information or examples”?
  4. Beyond Hope * We articulate what we want to see happen. Yet that does not finish movement to improvement.
  5. Recognize the Stories in the Room * No matter how far-sighted leaders may be on an issue, if they cannot connect to the emotional responses of their constituents, relevance is missed, and opportunity squandered.
  6. Resources: Find. Learn. Use. * Discover and use RESOURCES to increase chances for progress, growth, learning, and connections.
  7. Rainbows * This week’s blog post draws on the fourth core value from
    Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019):  Give voice to our RAINBOWS—our dreams and aspirations—and act to move toward them.
  8. Responsibility: Important Questions to Consider * This week’s blog post draws on the fifth core value from Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019): Act with RESPONSIBILITY toward others and ourselves.
  9. Reflection as a Non-Luxury Good * This week’s blog post draws on the sixth core value from Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019): Taking time to consider, ponder, remember, analyze, evaluate, and appreciate the various connections of life.
  10. Resilience: Where Can You Make Changes? * This week’s blog post draws on the seventh, and final, core value from Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019). Resilience: The ability to connect adaptability, recovery, growth, and discovery.
  11. Gratitude for the Journey * My background has been my driver, my brake, my accelerator, and my protector.
  12. Projects or Purpose? * If something, however, seems to be missing it might be time to pause, hit the reset button, and ask why you do what you do?
  13. The Power of the Stumble * May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. – A Franciscan Blessing –
  14. Inside Out * What are your prearrangements with yourself when it comes to your stated priorities?
  15. Family. Farewell. * But we get distracted and believe we can wait to make the connection, lend the hand, or offer a shoulder. There will always be tomorrow . So, we postpone.
  16. Gratitude: A Reminder * If we give a gift expecting a return, then we have not offered a gift. We have tendered a loan. Not gratitude.
  17. Spoiled? * As the sun popped up over the ocean, I thought if that is being “spoiled” then I like it.
  18. Learn. Lead. * To lead, you must first listen (hear; respect; ask authentic questions).
    Then learn from the exchange (willingness to change).
  19. Thank You, Mom * Shortcuts shortchange the long run.
  20. Taking a Stand * It, however, did lead to a deeper conversation with myself. And, even if on a minute level, a deeper appreciation for people who stand up for what they believe.
  21. A Reminder about Noise * Are you adding to clarity or compounding the noise? How do you know?
  22. Confronting the Bullies * What we do in these situations defines our characters, our communities, and our destiny.
  23. Action, Gratitude, and Community * While thinking about gratitude feels good, action creates greater benefits.
  24. Legacy. * What is your hope for your community? What do you want to see, and more importantly, what will you do to make it happen? What legacy will you help build and contribute to for the coming generations?
  25. Lose. Laugh. Learn. * Fear can lead to growth inhibiting action or inaction.
  26. Purposeful Relationships Require Deliberative Efforts * Consider how you can incorporate deliberative efforts for deeper organizational relationships—one person at a time.

Video Recommendation for the Week.

2019 Gratitude Video.

 


And now for the remaining blogs for the year 2019….

  1. Red Team Analysis * Reaching critically reviewed, dissected, and discussed decisions may require creative thinking about how to do it. Critical thinking, though, is not a synonym for creative thinking.
  2. Call-Out Culture: Increasing Understanding or Volume? * If you have to name-call, then you have no argument; you have admitted your lack of understanding and/or
    inability to intelligently debate the issue at hand.
  3. A Possibility Conversation * Dig down … why do you remember this and
    why does it speaks to your soul? Eulogy or résumé virtue?
  4. Lessons by the Numbers * Six short video strategy lessons.
  5. Community Building Components * Building community requires that we consider our subject mindfully, hold conversations driven by authentic questions, and then engage in collaboration to do the needed work.
  6. No Parental Instruction Manual * They—like so many (all?) parents then and now—had to write their own parenting how-to guide.  A half century later, I am grateful.
  7. Political Pyrotechnicians * Unfortunately, because they refuse to listen, a fruitful give-and-take becomes more of a chimera.
  8. Think in Reverse * Ask yourself what you need to do to create what you do not
  9. Nutritious People and Purpose * The key is to understand the story and the associated people, because there can be a danger if community devolves into tribalism.
  10. Human Beings with Human Challenges * Benefiting from human connections.
  11. A Metaphor for Growth and Resilience * Some will experience a metamorphosis they never dreamed they could attain. Others will quietly walk away.
  12. Community Resilience Through Affordable and Sustainable Home Ownership * We have the know-how in the world to house everyone. We have the resources in the world to house everyone.  All that is missing is the WILL to do it. -Millard Fuller
  1. Reflect. Respond. Repeat.Reset as needed.
  2. Opportunities to NoticeThe range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice….-RD Lang
  3. Calling for Deliberative Dialogues * Acknowledge common ground to build a more unified and proactive community.
  4. Premonitions and Weak Signals? * The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches….-Ray Bradbury-
  5. Using Demonstrations for Team Building and Prioritization * Regardless of the topic, demonstrations can drive home a point, that may be lost in a lecture or in a reading.
  6. Mind Enema * Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.Ann Bradford
  7. Communication: So Easy, Yet So Hard * You have a story. It belongs to you. It is powerful. How are you helping people understand it?
  8. Just What I Needed * We all make a difference each day of our lives. Some days, that difference packs more impact than you could imagine.
  9. Thankful for Civility * Civility does not mean we always agree. It does mean, though, that we accept each other’s humanity and dignity as a person.
  10. The End-of-the-Year Review: The 6 DsHow does your 2019 retrospective set the stage for your 2020 journey?
  11. 30-30-30-30-30-30-30 * If you have no difficulty identifying, setting, and achieving goals, you don’t need this post. I don’t want to get in your way. Pass it along to someone who can benefit from it.
  12. The View from the Rainbow BridgeAs the dog looks back, she sees life as it was before she got to the bridge. Now, there are memories.
  13. 2019: The Year of Gratitude! Reaching out, instead of lashing out. 
  14. A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2019 in Review * This last-of-the-year offering lists each of the previous week’s posts I added this year.

Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.  May you create, savor, and share memories in the coming year.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on  More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes.  I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.  The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

 

Posted in Appreciation, awareness, Goals, Gratitude, inspiration, Integrity, intentional growht, intentionality, leadership, lessons reaffirmed, Life lessons, life success, Life's purpose, lifelong learning, listening, resilience | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

(Issue #500) 2019: A Year of Gratitude



NOTE: This week’s issue marks the 500th consecutive week that I have posted on this blog. That equates to about nine years and seven months. Or nearly 115 months. In keeping with today’s topic of gratitude, thank you for following, reading, and sharing this blog. Without you, it would not be a blog. It would be a diary.  I am grateful for you.  And now….for this week’s offering.


 Reaching out, instead of lashing out. 

Nearly eight years ago, on January 1, 2012, I began a personal gratitude project.  I vowed to handwrite a Thank You note of gratitude each day to a different person or group of people—and then mail it or hand it to him/her/them.  2012 would be The Year of Gratitude.

I committed myself to writing at least 366 notes in 2012 (leap year).  By December 31, 2012 I addressed notes to nearly 400 people (a few days saw more than one person get a note).

I repeated the project for this year, 2019. When I deliver my last note on December 31, 2019, once again nearly 400 people will have been recipients of 365 days (non-leap year) of note writing.

The notes have gone to long-time friends, neighbors, musicians, national celebrities, colleagues, wait staff and service personnel in restaurants and hotels around the nation, former students, journalists, a police department, a fire chief, city leaders, doctors, veterans, people I have volunteered with on community projects, pet therapy advocates and mentors, family members, grocery store staff, former colleagues, fellow “gym rats,” an insurance agent, a broker, a Congressman, custodians, and others.In each note, I taped the following:

  Gratitude Amplifies, Rescues, and Connects.
-Robert A. Emmons-

At times, in a world challenged by agitation, anxiety, and anger, we may forget to pause to appreciate and acknowledge the good people in our lives. I have promised myself to send at least one “GRATITUDE” note per day for the entire year of 2019 to people like you who make our world a better place.  Know that you help amplify, rescue, and connect our world—one kind action at a time. We need more people like you. THANK YOU!   -Steve Piscitelli, 2019

I then wrote a few personal reflections as to specific traits that the person had—and how that person made a difference in our world.

This was how I finished most of my days. Before turning out the light I pulled out a card and spent 3 or 4 minutes writing the note for the next day.

Why did I invest time and treasure in this project?

  • It proved to be a very positive way to end each day. For the few minutes I wrote the note, no matter how ugly the day may have been (in my perception) I found it very difficult to be upset or angry as I wrote a note of appreciation to someone.
  • People really do appreciate being appreciated! I received many, many, many notes of gratitude for my notes of gratitude. That was never my intent.  I believe it was Leo Buscaglia who said something to the effect of “If you give a gift expecting something in return, then it was never a gift. It was merely a loan.” The return gratitude notes, though, did make me feel good.
  • There is something about handwriting a note—and receiving such a note. I was told that often.
  • There were people I missed (I am sure). That is not a reflection on them—just on me for missing them. This is another reminder that in reality I have much to be grateful for in my life. More people who have graced my way than I can remember.
  • Hopefully, my practice inspired a recipient or two to adopt a similar project for their lives. Reaching out to acknowledge the connectedness that we all share—or can share if we nurture it.

I know it probably sounds “so very 1960s” of me, but wouldn’t it be a much better world if we reach out—without manipulation, without exploitation, without an expectation for personal gain—to people around us.  Reaching out, instead of lashing out.

I am grateful that you take time to read my blog, share it, and perhaps even act on the messages.

Next week I will post my annual “A Blogger’s Retrospective” in which I will provide a quick summary of and link to each of my 2019 blog posts.   Look for my year-end video—a moment of gratitude from the beach to you.

I appreciate you.


Video Recommendation for the week.

Two videos this week

This quick excerpt comes from one of my stage presentations. It reminds the audience that our efforts (like a gratitude note) do matter.  A simple thank you goes a long way.

And, from my first CD, a song of gratitude to all the teachers out there


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on  More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes.  I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.  The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Appreciation, authenticity, collaboration, collegiality, Community, consideration, dignity, Integrity, Life lessons, resilience, respect | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

(Issue #499) The View from the Rainbow Bridge


As the dog looks back, she sees life as it was before she got to the bridge.
Memories.

Pet lovers embrace the concept of “The Rainbow Bridge” where person and pet will reunite in the next world.  The story has evolved that when the pet dies, she moves to a lush meadow. There, her body fully restored, she romps and plays with other animals. And, she awaits reunification with her person from the previous life.  Once reconnected, the legend goes, they both walk over the Rainbow Bridge into heaven.

As I read the Rainbow Bridge poem, I envisioned a dog (or another animal) patiently waiting for the much anticipated reunion with the person so dear and still so near in her heart.  She waits, looking from the Rainbow Bridge back toward another life.  (See the video at the end of this post.)

As my mind (and creativity) played with the image, a metaphor develop.  The view from the bridge, perhaps, is our eulogy, our legacy.  What we accomplished, for example, for and with our canine companion, and beyond.  As the dog looks back, she sees life as it was before she got to the bridge.  Memories.

With the end of the year just ahead of us, we think of 2020—what’s over the New Year’s bridge. And, we look back at 2019. What is the legacy we have continued to build? How do we want to add to that legacy as we move into the next decade?

A few years ago, I wrote a eulogy for our previous canine, Buddy.   I titled it “A Life Well-Lived.”

As you look back to the previous year, what did you do that qualifies as a life well-lived? What top three things stand out?

In what ways can you continue to create a life well-lived in 2020?


Video Recommendation for the week.

Enjoy this moving tribute to the Rainbow Bridge.


Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on  More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes.  I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.  The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in Appreciation, awareness, change management, Choice, creating your future, Discipline, feedback, growth, Life lessons | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

(Issue #498) 30-30-30-30-30-30-30


If you have no difficulty identifying, setting, and achieving goals,
skip this post. I don’t want to get in your way.
Pass it along to someone who can benefit from it.

As I listened to someone speak about a big project he wanted to launch, I was reminded of the need to set goals and act toward them. The person’s project (according to him) would make the world a better place. I heard about it often. Yet, there was little movement to the end result.  A lot of talk. A modicum of action. A goal in the distance, life getting shorter.

Goals can be overwhelming, underwhelming, motivating, or a pointless academic exercise. Intricate formulas for writing goals can never outshine the more important ingredient of taking steps to reach the goal.  Procrastination can come with self-congratulatory excuses of why the postponement of actions was necessary.  Action requires discipline, resources, and a connection between the goal and one’s inner desire.

This strategy has seven steps.  For some, the first step might be too far in the distance. OK, then start with the second, or third, or even the sixth. Begin where you can start to move with purpose toward a desired end.  For others, the last might be too small and obscure.  Tailor to your needs.

  • 30 years. This is the (really) big picture. For some, much too abstract. For others, it can provide the needed spark.
    • In 30 years, I want to be retired, healthy, and financially secure. You will need to clearly describe for yourself what these concepts mean and look like for you. What does life look like for you in this thirty-year goal? What do you not want it to look like?
  • 30 months. A smaller picture. By time thirty months (that is, two-and-one-half years from now) passes, what will you have had to accomplish in order to move closer to your thirty-year goal?
    • Staying with the example above, what will you need to do in this short-term to help set you up for that long-term goal? Do you need advisors, coaches, trainers, mentors, a budget, and/or wealth-development resources? Again, you need to clearly define and understand the concepts in such a goal.
  • 30 weeks. In about seven or eight months, what specific steps will you have taken in order to make the thirty-month goal come into focus. Again, specific steps to get to your thirty-month objectives.
  • 30 days. Staying with the above example, what do you need to do in the next month to help you with the thirty-week goal. Be specific and action-oriented.
  • 30 hours. By tomorrow, what step do you need to take to move closer to the goal? Make a phone call? Have a meeting? Find a resource?
  • 30 minutes. Is there something you can do every day for thirty minutes to help you move forward? Reading? A workout regimen? A night class? An online workshop? Meditate?
  • 30 seconds. This is the smallest picture.  Sometimes this might simply remind you to be and breathe when all seems overwhelming.

Let me leave you with two specific examples. One focuses on the 30 years, and the other on 30 seconds.

A few months ago, a friend told me she wanted to be retired by time she was 70 years old (in about 20 years).  This required specific goals and actions about finances, family, fitness, and function. Specific plans had to be put in place within the next few years (the 30-month and 30-week steps figured prominently).

The second example is more personal and points to a potential challenge with a long-range focus (30-year and 30-month goals, for instance).  I can get myself wound really tight looking into the future.  I get so focused (obsessed?) that I end up walking right by the present. My dog, Roxie, has helped me with recognize this.

Roxie is always in the present. Whether sniffing pee-mail on our walks to the beach or laying in the backyard looking at the twerking squirrels on the fence tops. She is in the moment.

From time to time, I set 30-second goals to grab my attention. To keep me in the present.  For instance, when walking to the beach, I’ll challenge myself to count the number of palm trees I pass in thirty seconds.  I can tell you, for that thirty seconds I am focused on the present. And, a secondary benefit happens. As I am looking at the trees, I notice other things about my neighborhood that I pass daily but often miss because I am so focused on the what is far ahead. (BTW: I estimated more than 200 palm trees.)

Find the place that is best for you—the correct 30 for you—and refine your goal achieving journey.


Video Recommendation for the week.

I recorded this video in 2013.  The message still resonates: While we need to have that big picture goal (say the 30-year goal), don’t drown in the big picture. Take it one step at a time.


Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.

Stay tuned for my new book to be released in early 2020:
Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit.
Well, actually, my dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. In the meantime, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on  More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
  • Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes.  I conducted (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.  The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®.

You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

Posted in action, Discipline, Dreams, Excuses, Grit, growth, habits, Life lessons | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments