Adding Whimsy To Our Date Nights: The Art of Buying Kale

Recently I read a medium article all about a woman who got annoyed with her boyfriend when they went grocery shopping. She blamed it on her own impatience, but to me it seemed like she was really annoyed because her partner got all soft and floaty in the grocery store. The problem they had was how to buy food while also being in the flow of romantic love.

While it isn’t always easy, here’s how my partner and I create art out of buying kale.

Whimsy Dinner 

Right after we started dating my partner said to me, “Every time I go to the grocery store there’s always stuff I want to buy, like cool vegetables, or random noodles. But I always stop myself because I can’t figure out what I would do with them”

We had been having one of those early relationship conversations where you talk about how you do ordinary things, grocery shopping, buying clothes online, or washing the dishes. 

“Well what if we went to the store and you just picked out what you wanted and I’d figure out how to make a meal out of it?”

She smiled at me. “You would do that?”

I smiled back. 

The feminine at the grocery store. 

My partner’s desire was 100% natural. Since she likes to live in the feminine she likes to follow the flow of her inspiration. She can totally plan and execute her own meals but this was something different, she wanted to be able to listen to her inner guidance and choose food based upon that. 

The masculine at the grocery store. 

When I’m in my masculine I love a challenge. Give me a complex set of things to organize or a difficult conversation to have and I light up. The idea of getting a set of random ingredients I needed to contain into an edible meal inspired me. I also loved that I would get to watch her choose random items and follow her joy. 

The first time we went shopping it was magical. She went from aisle to aisle picking out random food. I didn’t even know what fennel looked like before she put it in the cart and I really wasn’t sure how I was going to work pomegranate into the meal either, but I just let her wander as I followed her with my phone out looking for recipe ideas. 

That night we had arugula, fennel, pomegranate salad to start, garlic rosemary chicken, with roasted golden beets finished with beet greens and honey goat cheese for the main course and assorted mochi for dessert. 

And we’ve done this almost every week since then. 

The reason it works is that we aren’t attached to the outcome. When we do these whimsy dinners, we make an effort to go with the flow and be with each other. We work to embody the whimsy in our relationship. It’s not always easy in the day-to-day, but having specific nights and times set aside to do this works really well for us.


I’m Losing

I’m losing the ability to see people as perfect women only gorgeous in my eyes men with the perfect way of being the idea that some version of me

will be seen as a perfect knight in perfect shining armor what I’m left with

is just us messy humans pooping and sweating getting older making mistakes trying to love one another and doing a piss poor job of it most of the time

us messy humans being scared with our pasts and history our reactions our wounds and anger

us messy humans trying and failing giving into temptation spending all day watching tv and polishing off a bag of chips

this world is made new in its messiness in its ordinariness in its boringness

I’ve never seen it this way without the rose colored glasses the streets have more homeless people your face has more pimples my body isn’t as thin as I would like

but in losing that layer of fantasy and dream I’m finding something new to fall in love with

a kind of love closer to my heart and the truth of what it means to be human this life is so unsatisfying even in the present moment and yet it’s more than enough so much more than enough


Can You Help Me Meet Myself?

Can you help me meet myself?
Because that’s what you said
That we could never hope that someone would meet us
Not fully
That we could only
In the slow tenderness
Of long nights
And long cries
Meet ourselves

And so
If we’re no longer looking

For an empty piece
For a heart to match our own
For a forever person
Because nothing is forever

All we can ever really hope for
Is for someone to help us

Pick up the broken pieces of the mirror
That we’ve been cutting our fingers on
For so long
That we don’t even remember what a hand
Not covered
In dried or wet blood
Feels like any more

Can you help me?
Pick up these fragments
So softly
That I no longer cut myself

And turning the image
Towards my own tired eyes
Red from grief
Full on longing
And a glimmer of hope

So I can see myself
As you see me
As my friends see me
With love
And understanding

Can you help me?
Reach through
This shard of an image
To touch my own hand
And feel the softness of my own skin
And the warmth of my own heart

Can you help me?
Meet the me
That will show up with love
And give it
Even when I’m certain I’m not worthy
Even when you’ve left me
If even it’s simply to go on a trip
Or to the bathroom
Or for someone else
Or for a destination beyond the beyond

Can you help me?
As I help you
Arms entwined
Each with our own jagged edges
Looking at ourselves

Until we look up and notice each other
Meeting those me’s
And smile


Is it enough?

Each day
Waking to a question in my mind

Is it enough?

This body
with some muscles and some fat
some wrinkles creeping in around my eyes
some part of me leaking out when I don’t want

Is it enough?

This life of making coffee
doing work I love
but making less money than other people make
and more than many do
having less fame then other people have
and more than many do

Is it enough?

The noise of traffic outside
a few plates in the sink
things mostly in their place
but clutter too

Is it enough?

A walk with friend to pick up dinner
talking about things we’ve talked about before
and yet enjoying the new curiosity on old pages

Is it enough?

Knowing the I’ll get old and die
well actually not knowing about the old part

Knowing it will be forgotten
all the laughter and angst

Knowing the earth is getting hotter
that racism is still a thing
that I don’t respect our leaders

Is it enough even though it’s never enough,
more days
I could handle anyway
more money
than I could spend
more life then
I have stomach for

Is it enough?
And what if it was?


Receive Her No With Grace and Graciousness

The true test of a man shouldn’t be how many women he can bed, or how much money he can make, but rather how much grace and graciousness he can show in receiving a no.

No one likes to be rejected, shut down, or told no.

It can give you a feeling of being stifled, shamed, judged, or even of having your worth denied.
But even though you can do a lot to impact the no that’s offered, what really matters is how you react to it.

A no is not something to be worked around. To be cajoled. To be pushed past.

A no is an invitation to pause, to get curious, to reflect, and to lean in with an open heart.

This is especially true when a woman tells you no.
And even more true when she tells you no gently.

It’s brave for a woman to say no.
Because we live in a world where no from a woman is a dirty dangerous word.
So if she gives it, gently and with love it means she trusts you or hopes to.

She is asking with hope that you will be the kind of man who honors this no, feels the fullness of its gift, and is willing to swallow any pain that might arise and simply be with her.

A no isn’t personal anymore than a fenced yard is, or a keep off the grass sign.
No is the simplest unit of a boundary.
No is a line that helps you see where your desire hits her comfort or willingness.

Her no is a gift because it tells you exactly where you are.
It gives you a ground to stand on and explore with her or within yourself.

Sure you can ask about the no, get curious about what might have it be a yes, work through nos that want to be changed, but you can only do this with honor, if you can receive it with grace and graciousness.

The grace to hear it and really feel its power.
The grace to let it land and to pause before you react.
The grace to own what it brings up, while also honoring how it was offered.
The grace to learn from this no and to hear the no behind any yes so that you can feel where the chance for growth (mostly yours) lies.

And alongside these graces, graciousness.

The graciousness that she trusts you to tell you no, (esp directly)
The graciousness to be strong enough to not collapse in the face of it.
The graciousness that she doesn’t want you to step over an edge that might damage your connection.
With a graciousness that she is offering you a chance to honor and even heal her with your loving reception.

This is a true test of what it means to be a man.

Because a man who is strong in himself, truly honors the one he’s with and is capable of accepting challenges with dignity and courage, is a man all men should all work to be.


The Desire To Die — Explained

I remember at one point last year in the isolation of the pandemic where the grief of my failed relationship and the acute sense of isolation felt unbearable.

There was one night where I rubbed my eyes and stared at this horrible racing game I had been playing for hours. My mouth felt stick and dry from the sugary cereal I’d been eating. Part of me wanted to trawl the internet for porn, but I knew that on some level would only give me a few moments of relief.

I wanted to sleep and forget about everything, but as soon as I’d tried to close my eyes the thoughts and feelings came flooding back.

I felt hopeless, life felt meaningless, and I wasn’t sure why I wanted to keep going.

This feeling of not being able to bear my life, emotions, and everything else that was happening was a familiar one. It was something I felt a fair amount of times in high school and even more in college.

For a long time I used pot to cope with these feelings to various levels of success. When I lived in the monastery the feelings were still there. I took it (just like everything else) into meditation and to interviews with the teachers. But despite years of meditation this feeling still existed in me.

It’s the feeling of not knowing how to go on.

It’s taken me a few years to recognize it, but this feeling almost always arises at the tectonic edge of two parts.

One part is an old way of being in the world. Some people call this part a survival mechanism, an old belief system, or a breakdown. I call it historical gravity.

It’s like this phantom limb that keeps grasping for some comfort it can no longer have.

The other part is the new way of being. Some people call this an essence, a higher self, or a breakthrough. I call it spiritual momentum.

When my historical gravity and spiritual momentum meet, it can feel like I’m getting squeezed in the middle. Very often the version of myself in that moment knows I have to keep going, knows that something needs to shift, knows I need to let go, but that same part of me also doesn’t know how to keep going, is unwilling and unable to shift, and feels like letting go will mean losing everything it ever cared about.

The pressure of this moment when it arrives is intense. It’s a moment that will make anyone long for escape. It’s this kind of moment that can drive a relapse into drugs, the reaching for meaningless sex, and even the desire to die.

If you don’t know how to go on, but you can’t stay where you are, what else is there to do?


The other thing I’ve learned is that this moment also has a lie at the center. The lie at the center of this moment is that it will last forever.

You will be forever caught between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

Your survival mechanisms are trying to keep the old you alive, but that you can’t live in the environment you’re in anymore. And I think it’s why some people choose to jump out of a building (life) that’s on fire (in the midst of a tectonic call to change).

The problem is that the lie of this moment convinces us there’s no escape. And what I’ve learned is that there is ALWAYS an escape and that escape is found by sliding down the chute of time.

While these moments feel endless they always shift given time.

One plate (hopefully the future/more conscious plate) slides on top of the other. And the other plate (hopefully the past/less conscious plate) presses into the earth and gets turned into molten energy.

THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS !!! I know it may not seem like it’s going to. And trust me I’ve been CONVINCED that it won’t but it always does. This is the process of transformation, of deep and meaningful growth in life, but it rests entirely on a combination of two things:Pressure and time.

The feeling of total crisis, of spiritual death, that’s the pressure. So all you really need it to add time to the equation and you’ll be fine. Your life will shift, you will be able to become the thing life is demanding of you to become. It takes some time, but it will happen.


What does nature want?

I stand at the top of a hill staring down into the ocean Which pulls and presses at the smooth rock below This green-blue void has eaten away the earth

What does nature want?

The snow piles up on the back of ducks in a lake It weighs down the branches Of mighty proud oaks Until they crack and fall

What does nature want?

The rain falling endlessly turning earth to mud and green thick leaves cover every inch around me a wall of vines and chaos as unknown creatures slither through the cracks

What does nature want?

the stream whispering falling slowly over edges sprinkling the sunlight back up into my eyes the forest golden with the late day tiny bugs skitter across the surface

What does nature want?

You call me to come and play with you And yet threaten to kill me Like a friend with joy in one hand and a knife in the other enchantment and deep respect I know you want me to live To press my feet into your soil To spread my eyes across your vast openness To listen, with my rapt attention as you pour wind through everything around me Every moment I spend with you is both the answer and the question

What does nature want?


Go First

It’s always easier to wait. For the other person to say I love you.

For the other person to apologize.

For the other person to admit how they’ve been wrong and stupid and childish

But don’t do the easy thing go first

Say I love you. Even if you’re not sure they’ll say it back.

Apologize even if you might be the more wronged party

Admit that you messed up screwed up and acted a fool

It takes a spoonful of humility and a bucket full of grace

But when you do go first and say

the thing that takes courage you can lead others from fear and doubt

into love and grace

and it all starts with going first


What Are You Willing To Create Bad Art For?

Most people would be willing to write a book if they knew it was going to be a bestseller.
Most people would be willing to go on a blind date if they knew they would fall in love.
Most people would even be willing to run into a burning building if they knew they could save a life and survive the experience with only minor injuries.

If the outcome is guaranteed the risk is minimal.

But choosing to do something, anything that really matters is risky.
In fact the more meaningful it is, the riskier it often becomes.

This is especially true of making art. Most people will never read this blog post. I doubt it will end up in the great books of history, but I’m writing it anyway.

I have a commitment to serve those walking the path of awakening: leaders, CEOs, working mothers, high school students. It doesn’t matter to me.

If you’re on the path I am committed to serving you.

I put in a few hours a week to write posts that will serve people on that path.
Some of them are not very good. Some are perfectly fine. Every now and again I write something truly transcendent and even then most people won’t read it.

I am willing to write bad posts that no one will ever read to serve my commitment.
I hope the posts are good, I try to share them with the world, I hope you’ll read them.

But my commitment is steadfast and enduring.

So the question is . . .
What are you willing to create bad art for?
What work are you willing to do even if it’s obscure and affects only a handful of people?
What are you willing to risk, to do something that matters?


Your Life Is Art

No one signs their name anymore. Not really. We make a half-assed squiggle with our finger on a digital screen. We scribble our name on documents, the letter collapsing and falling over.

I’m the worst at this. Except when I went to vote by mail. Then my signature was pristine, perfect, and crisp. I wrote it with care because it mattered. Because I knew someone was watching.

You might think that how you sign your name doesn’t matter. After all, the card company isn’t going to check it. The barista or waiter isn’t either. Even when I write “check ID” on the back of my cards almost no one asks.

And as a stand-alone occurrence, it probably doesn’t matter. After all I’m not singing the declaration of independence or the constitution.

Recently I started to notice this trend in myself, towards convenience, speed, and efficiency. It started to bother me. Because my life, your life is not a thing to be dispensed with, to be scribbled off.

Your life is art. Or it can be.

Last month I had a virtual date. At first, I thought I’d order us dinner. Maybe get some flowers delivered to her house. But then I realized that I could make art with it. So I made a website. Nothing too complex, it only took me an hour or so.

The website guided us through the date. I gave us a structure. The date itself became a form of art. I shared it with a couple of other people who were helping me out and they were both moved by it.

Over New Year’s weekend I went hiking. And the conversation I shared on that hike was art. It was about couples who go hiking. We spent a few moments together laughing and taking in the scenery. We weren’t concerned with the mileage or exactly how fast we wanted to go. The hike itself became art.

When I cook, I feel into the food. I cut the onions, making sure the carrots look uniform. I try to add different colors of sweet potatoes. I think about a garnish. So that when the dish is done, there’s texture, shades, and so much more. The food itself is art.

This is what it means to make art with life. Sometimes it’s dramatic, a bold gesture, a full on production. And sometimes it’s incredibly subtle, like how you sign your name on a digital pad.

Making art with your life is possible, here’s how.

1) Notice what you don’t notice:

There are places where all of us take things for granted. The way our love kisses us in the morning. The way you make your coffee. The way you brush your teeth. These places are rich repositories and opportunities to create art with your life.

Your relationships are filled with small moments of unconsciousness and routine. So simply start noticing what you don’t notice, what you step over, and what you take for granted.

2) Look at it from a new perspective:

There are things we get through and there are things we create through. We get through waiting for the plane to board. We create through writing a birthday card for someone we love. We get through washing the dishes. We create through cooking a special meal as a treat for ourselves.

Everything that is a ‘get through’ moment can become a ‘create through’ moment.

I learned this really well when I worked in the kitchen at the Zen Monastery I lived at for two years. In kitchen practice everything we did was infused with mindfulness and compassion. We cut carrots with love. We stirred pots with deep presence.

I swear you could taste it in the food. And you could certainly feel it as you cooked.

What we were doing was no different than what is done in commercial kitchens all over the world, but it felt different.

We took a perspective of wonder, curiosity, and attention to what we did.

After you notice what you didn’t notice, try to look at it differently. See if you can see it as an invitation into creation. Ask yourself how could I create through this?

3) Answer the question “How could I create through this?”

The next step is simple. You answer the question, with an I could.

I could write poems at the bus stop.
I could connect with my Uber driver.
I could draw a small masterpiece on the coffee shop Ipad.
I add a garnish to my dinner.
I could really connect with my beloved as we say goodbye.
I could be fascinated by my child’s day even if it’s so simple.

You don’t have to do all of these things. You don’t have to do any of them. This isn’t about finding what you ‘should’ do or the ‘right thing’ to do. That’s not the nature of art.

This isn’t painting by numbers.

You’re just looking at what you COULD do. If making art with your life is new, you can spend some time here. Just dreaming. Thinking of things to try. You can’t stay here, but it’s a good start because you’re opening up new possibilities for yourself.

Slowly carefully lovingly let yourself be open to what’s possible.

4) Try something . . . anything

Once you’ve gotten a few ideas one will call to you. For me, the one that scares me or lights me up and turns me on the most will speak to me. So now it’s time to try it out.

I’ll be honest at first you’re going to be a bit awkward and clunky. You may get some weird looks, but you should try it anyway. You’ll realize you can survive being a bit silly and absurd. And often it will go way better than you can imagine.

Not all art is a success, but that’s not the point of art. The point of art is to create something new, to express something, and to allow that something to blossom and wither in a moment.

So try something. It’s ok if it’s not the boldest thing, it’s ok if it is super bold, but just try.

5) Learn and refine

Now that you’ve created something and put it into the world, refine it. Draw a different kind of sun on the coffee shop Ipad. Add a smile to your present goodbye kiss. Ask your kiddo about their day at dinner instead of when they get home. Try rosemary instead of thyme as the garnish.

Artists don’t just paint one painting and stop. They create and recreate. They try again, they add something else, they take something away.

The reason why learning and refining are so important is that they help you move from a moment of expression to a practice of it. Instead of making art an event—like an anniversary dinner—it becomes part of the ritual of your life.

This is the final step and it is the one you have to keep making again and again.

I realized that you might be wondering why you’d want to do this?

Why not just have a nice dinner with your partner once a year?
Why not just squiggle my name on an Ipad?

For me, the reason is simple. Life is the most rare and precious commodity you have. Especially your life. You’ve only got so many days, so many moments, so many chances.

It’s like you’ve got a box of crayons and they’re wearing down all the time and you never really know when you’ll get to the bottom of them.

So what do you want to do with them? You can squiggle your signature. Die of boredom waiting for the bus. Resent and cling to routine out of a need for control.

Or you can make art with them. Over and over again I’ve chosen art and I’ve seen the people around me who I most admire do the same.

So please choose to make art. It can be simple even mundane art. But even then, it will still be art.

And at the end of your life you’ll be so grateful that you chose to create through it.