The Weekend Review (MOPS Edition)

This weekend, I had the privilege of spending time with the good people at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers). I discussed inner-sobriety and how true sobriety is best found in a community of hope and love.

Today, I’m only sharing one video. Welcome to the Chorus of the Community.

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I’m Not Impervious to Worry

After this week’s announcement, some of you have emailed me words of encouragement. A few of you have emailed me the same question: Are you stressed or worried?

Of course.

Better people have followed the wild wind into the world of entrepreneurship and have failed. Less-skilled folks have succeeded when all the world thought they’d fail. Life is a crapshoot, business even more so. Success is fickle (perhaps even an illusion). Money fails. And perhaps more to the point, as my friend Sean is fond of saying, “starting a business is an unmitigated act of insanity.”

The truth is, failure is an option. But doubting the path? That isn’t.

So, though I carry the normal stresses and worry of any new venture–can I feed my babies?–I know I’m walking through the next right door. That seems to pacify the anxieties.

At least for now.

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This Business of the Quickening (Or Quitting) (Part 3)

It is a season of change.

Joseph called from Denver, told me the aspens were turning gold on the front range. A day later, I saw John–or rather, his Facebook avatar–and he told me of the autumn-blue Colorado sky that’s so beautiful your heart aches. The weather hasn’t made the turn yet in the Ozarks, and the maples are still in the modesty of their green sleeves. I ache for the crisp blue that’s already biting at the heart of every earnest Coloradoan, for the gold leaves smelted by God himself. The truth is, we’re only a week or two away here in the Ozarks.

It is autumn, the season of metamorphosis. Sometimes seasons serve as more than metaphors, and this year I figured I’d try my own little leaf-changing experiment. So as summer gives way to gentler beauty, I’m unraveling a twelve-year career and shedding some of the trappings. I’m pushing into something new.

All that said, I still haven’t answered the most pressing question: what am I doing?

I’ve been teasing you this week, writing about my new small venture. I suppose we’ve come to point where I should just spill the beans. I’ve decided to pursue writing on a more full-time basis.

Almost one year ago, I released my first book, Coming Clean: A Story of Faith. Since its release, some amazing things have happened. I’ve met a few fantastic folks–authors, editors, publishing people–and have had opportunities to collaborate on some beautiful work. In September, I began collaborating on just such a story, one set in the autumn of another man’s life. It’s a story of pain, perseverance, and love. For today’s purposes (and for confidentiality purposes) we’ll call this particular work Story X.

When I was first approached about Story X, it became apparent that it would be a time-consuming endeavor. It also became apparent that the rewards would be more than financial; the rewards would be personal. Story X is the story of a Sage, a man who’s lived with a terminal disease for almost two decades. He is a mystic. He hears the voice of God in very clear ways. He is one of those almost transcendent types, the kind who understands the depths of love perhaps more than any human I’ve ever met. And as we talked about the arc of his narrative, I felt the sky-blue ache. I needed to drop everything and pursue it.

And that’s just what I’m doing.

Over the next two months, I’ll be digging deeper into Story X and writing it. I’ll be exploring one man’s human experience and learning as I write. I hope to understand more about the love of God through this experience. I’m counting on it, in fact.

This is it–the first week of my career as a mostly full-time explorer. I’m changing everything to make it happen. I’m forgoing a few things, selling a few things. I’m not walking away from something so much as I’m walking into something, and as I walk, I’m asking questions and writing answers. That brings me to two questions for you.

Do you have the inkling to explore?

What would you give up to do it?

***TINY LETTER***

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This Business of the Quickening (Or Quitting) (Part 2)

This is not any other week. Yesterday, I wrote of the quickening moment, the moment of starting a new job. I wrote about being a quitter, about walking out on a career that, by all measures, has treated me well (ceteris paribus). And though some of you have asked “What’s your new job?” or “Are you having a premature mid-life crisis?” let’s not put the trailer before the truck.

A word on my life before this quickening week.

For 12 years, I have been a member of a large law firm (large in Arkansas terms, in any event). I’ve litigated, argued, and counseled. I’ve won, lost, perhaps tied a time or two. I’ve received recognition, though I’ll not go into the specifics here. I’ve worn tailored pinstripe suits (on occasion), imbibed expensive whiskey, and rubbed shoulders with connected people. I have lived in the privilege of upward mobility, which is not a bad thing, per se. I have walked through many an occupational hazard.

Exploring these occupational hazards, here are the things I’ve learned: winners and losers are often decided by less than a coin toss; any recognition is good only for a day, sometimes less; the fabric of every suit wears thin; at the bottom of every whiskey bottle there is only glass; People–rich and poor alike–all scratch the same itch of scarcity.

I’ve found, too, a sort of haunting. I’ve been cornered by a personal need to hunt the why behind the eternal, perhaps infernal itch that’s baked into our DNA. (An itch for meaning? For purpose? For understanding?). I’ve wanted to understand the scarcity that motivates us to acquisition, to accolades, to politics, to personal wars. I’ve feld the need to understand what it means to live inside these structures of scarcity, hoping I might find the trapdoor leading me out.

Call me an explorer. Call me crazy. Call me whatever.

And let me be clear. All of this–the quitting–is to say nothing of the people I’ve worked with over the past 12 years. In fact, they represent some of the best folks the world has to offer. I’ve been mentored and befriended by the best litigator I’ve ever seen (who is a wicked good weaver of conspiracy theories to boot) and worked with one of my best friends (whom I already miss). I’ve worked under three ethical, excellent managers. I’ve been privileged, maybe even lucky.

Privileged and lucky as I may have been, though, there came a time when I noted the changing direction of the wind. And when I noted it, my feet carried me otherwheres. Who can say where the wind blows, really?

That brings us to this grand juncture, to the springboard, the platform, the jumping off place. It brings us just past the edge of yester-week’s reality and into this more present unknown. What do I aim to do in the days to come? I aim to explore. How do I aim to explore? That’s the provisional question.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a little more about what I’m up to. Until then, ask yourself these two questions:

What are the things that are needling you?

Can you stay put and resolve them?

Can you?

***TINY LETTER***

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This Business of The Quickening (Or Quitting)

There are quickening moments in life, moments when you first feel the movement of something new. New love, the knee of your first child pushing against your wife’s belly, the early inklings (or doings) of a new career path–these bring the flutter of new life. In the quickening moments, folks are suckers for a cliché, saying things like, “this is the first day of the rest of my life.”

So, let’s go ahead and get this over with–this is the first day of the rest of my life.

I suppose my moment could be the beginning of something beautiful or the genesis of ruin. This is how quickening moments work. Love might turn to gold or ash. Babies might grow into saints or sinners (or they might not grow at all). New career paths promise the heights of economic prosperity, but can’t they lead to bankruptcy, too? Of course, all quickening moments might end in the middling out we humans are so prone to, but no one thinks their moment of new excitement will end in middling out. We humans are not prone to think in averages or mediocrities.

Last week, I officially tendered my resignation. I made the call, hopped the fence, and cut a path to Lord-knows-where. I’ve been setting up shop, opening accounts, tending to insurance, and considering just how much margin I have to sink or swim. (As an aside, the Sink-Or-Swim statistical analysis of a new business owner is quite a time consumer.) I’ve joined the rank-and-file of what the United States Department of Labor calls “small business owners.” That’s right; I’ve become the backbone of our economy, the engine of this nation’s prosperity, the embodiment of the American ideal or some such hornswoggle, depending upon which politician you listen to these days.

I’m a risk-taking, middle-class, entrepreneurial bit coded into the American program. Ain’t it grand?

Today is the first full day of the first full week of my new venture. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t feel  much the same as I did on my first day of first grade in 1985, the day I stood at the bus stop on County Road 101 in my parachute pants and Izod shirt. I didn’t quite know what to expect that day, and I don’t suppose I know much better now. But here’s what I do know: nothing good comes from staying on the side of the road. At some point, I suppose you have to climb the bus steps.

Today, I’m climbing the bus steps. “What am I doing?” you ask. 

Let’s talk more about that in the days to come.

***TINY LETTER***

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