40 Things You May Not Know About Me

Recently I turned 40 and I was thinking a lot about my life and everything I experienced.

And while I share a lot about myself online there are still many things people don’t know about me. So to commemorate my birthday I’m going to share 40 things you may not know about me. I hope that as you see me, you’ll be more willing to see and share yourself.

  1. I once ran a fair game where I convinced people to put on a chicken suit, get inside an inflatable ring, and fight each other with oversized boxing gloves. The game was called sumo chicken boxing and people had to pay for the privilege.

  2. I once sang Christmas carols for Vice President Al Gore while his election fight against George Bush hung in the balance (he looked very tired)

  3. I volunteered for several summers as a counselor at a Buddhist summer camp. My counselor name was counselor Tofu.

  4. I have performed at the famous Blue Bird Cafe in Nashville and the best response I got was for a set of parody songs I wrote about balding. (Secret balding guy being my favorite)

  5. When I had hair I’d get self-conscious about the bald spot in the back of my head even though most people didn’t notice it. Which is why I usually wore a hat.

  6. The main reason I keep my head shaved is that I like the simplicity of it and I think I look better without hair.

  7. The only reason I didn’t have a beard for three years is because my ex-partner didn’t like how it look and felt, but I generally prefer having a beard and usually grow one every year.

  8. I left college with only 6 credit hours to finish. It took me an additional 6 years to finish those credit hours and finally graduate college (I had some stupid righteous story about it for a long time which I had to eventually admit was dumb)

  9. I almost had a minor in both dance and communications but didn’t get enough credit hours to finish either. My favorite dance classes were improv classes.

  10. In high school I was an award winning debater and speaker. But I really shined in mock congress where I introduced bills to annex Canada (I mean it’s basically the US anyway) and to turn Tennessee into a perfect parallelogram (It’s so close!)

  11. I once performed Mozarts Requiem in Carnegie Hall and it’s still one of my favorite pieces to this day to hear and sing along with.

  12. Until college I identified as a libertarian and voted for George Bush in the first election. It wasn’t until I got exposed to more ways of thinking that I slowly became more progressive. I now support universal health care and raising the minimum wage among other things.

  13. I was a soloist and select group singer in my church choir growing up and link many of my early spiritual experiences to performing music in church.

  14. My first ‘drug’ experiences were smoking cigarettes I had bought when I had gone to Germany to visit my sister (who was studying abroad). About once a month I would sneak out late at night and smoke behind the house where I grew up.

  15. For ten years I was a pack-a-day smoker. My preferred brand was Camel lights, though I would sometimes smoke camel reds and parliaments. Sometimes I still miss smoking, but not that often.

  16. My first ‘business’ was selling glass pipes that I bought from a friend of a cousin in Florida and resold to my friends at college. I made a pretty good profit, but I wasn’t great at the business side of things.

  17. In college my freshman roommates and I were so messy, tour guides would bring tours by our room to gawk at the spectacle and we had to write letters of apology to the housing services at the end of the year.

  18. While many people know I lived as a Zen monk for two years, few people know that for a year I serve as the Jisha or attendant to one of the Zen masters. It’s a position of great honor and I had to learn to anticipate his needs and prepare meals for him during retreats. I often made specialized grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese plates with ornate decorations.

  19. One retreat we did every year at the monastery involved going out to sit at dusk and then making our way back after dark. I learned that you can see a path with your feet if you walk slowly enough.

  20. Though I loved my time at the monastery a year after I left two senior students accused the teachers of abusing power and being narcissistic. I talked to several ex-students and tried to understand why they had left. The stories they told me changed my view of the community and it’s why I no longer practice with those teachers or endorse other people going to the monastery where I spent two important years of my life. I’m still very grateful for their guidance.

  21. When I was in my late twenties I did an epic trip across the US and hiked more than 180 miles in national parks. I finished my trip by going to India for a month which was the first place I encountered Buddhism and meditation. That trip had a HUGE impact on my life.

  22. I ran for multiple student body offices in high school and didn’t win a single one. I thought being smart mattered, but really I wasn’t very good at being popular.

  23. For a long time my favorite color was green but it slowly turned to red over the past 5-10 years.

  24. I didn’t have a cell phone until a couple of years after college and I resisted getting an iPhone for years because I thought they were excessive. I still feel this way about new technology until I have it.

  25. Part of the reason I originally moved to Portland was because I wanted to live somewhere I could go skiing. I trained and worked as a ski instructor my first winter but stopped after my car broke down and I decided not to get it fixed. Then I didn’t ski for 8 years.

  26. I lived without a car for almost a decade and really resisted buying one because I loved the simplicity of life without a car. And although I’m glad I have a car now I still miss the time in my life where I didn’t use one.

  27. In high school I put highlights in my hair several times. In college I dyed my hair fire truck red and at one point had my hair in dreadlocks. I’m lucky that not many pictures of these choices exist.

  28. I was pretty involved in boy scouts until I broke my left arm at camp while riding on a rope swing. After I broke my arm I immediately asked for a stick to bite on when they set my arm. Then I rode in the back of a pick-up in the rain to the hospital but the break was so bad that the rural doctor refused to fix it so I had to ride inside the pickup for two more hours to go to a different hospital before having it set.

  29. Almost ALL of my romantic relationships have either started out as long distance relationships or have ended up being long distance for a significant portion of our time together.

  30. For over 10 years I used marijuana almost daily and was a proud ‘pothead’ for most of it. Though I wasn’t aware I was numbing myself to life. At the time it felt like a good way to cope with all of my feelings and the out of control racing of my mind.

  31. I was born in Germany and lived in Greece until I was 3 years old. On the night I was born, my grandmother got confused and fell down the basement stairs. We ended up going to the hospital together.

  32. Apparently I was anxious to get into the world because my mother wasn’t in labor long and when I was born dislocated a shoulder when I was born. Apparently, I was in a rush to get here being born at 4:18 in the morning.

  33. Though I love camping as an adult, I only went camping once with my family growing up. When I asked my parents why they told me that I whined the entire trip and was so annoying they decided never to take me again. (I of course remember having a great time #kid-memory)

  34. I am incredibly romantic and have been my entire life. I have written a series of letters for a partner I wasn’t going to see for 3 weeks so she could open one from me each day. I have bought overnight tickets to surprise a partner with flowers. I have written countless romantic poems and songs. I’ve even saved old receipts and trinkets in relationships and love creating complex and beautiful romantic experiences for partners.

  35. I was a successful middle and high school wrestler all because I didn’t make the soccer team in middle school. I was a three-time regional champ and placed 5th in the state my senior year. The hardest part was making weight and I tried things like eating a liquid diet, running in a plastic suit, and sitting in a sauna all in order to lose weight.

  36. I didn’t lose my ‘virginity’ until I was a sophomore in college.

  37. I’ve been a writer my entire life and even attended a writing camp when I was in middle school. Though I didn’t get serious about writing until the last few years. If you search well enough you can even find some of my angsty college writing on the internet. https://ergosumsam.livejournal.com/

  38. I have few food preferences, but I hate cheesecake, cheez-its, and goldfish crackers.

  39. I remember most of the important songs I learned growing up. For example, my claim to fame in elementary school was getting the lead in the school musical in which I played Christopher Columbus and I can still sing much of my big solo number (which was of course not about the murder of indigenous people)

  40. While I’m incredibly loving I have a hard time letting love in. But when I do I apparently make a face that lets you know you got it in there.

Ok, that’s it, there are 40 things about me. My hope is that as you read this you’ll see yourself in this and also realize that each of us is rich, deep, and different even as we are boring, ordinary, and the same.

Which is something we can only see when we let others see who we really are.



Coaching Is Amazing

You won’t find clarity in a hidden treasure map, a secret incantation, or a magic wand. If you want to find clarity there are only two places to look. The first is silence, and the second is in a conversation.

For the first, meditation is ideal. For the second you have to find a truly gifted coach and advisor.

In every truly transformational coaching conversation I’ve ever had, I’ve been amazed how quickly clarity can be found I’ve been amazed how quickly my clients find clarity. I’ve talked to people who have struggled with a question for weeks or months, and yet it all becomes clarified in a few minutes.

The ingredients for clarity are simple, so it comes quickly to most people. All it takes is willingness to be vulnerable, the courage to be honest, and the space to look at what’s actually going on.

It’s like making a stained glass window. You don’t make a stained glass window by taking a big piece of glass and coloring it. You make it by consistently and repeatedly by placing one piece of glass where it needs to be. Some are big chunks and others a tiny shard, but each piece has it’s place in the whole image.

Again and again, I ask myself the question, how I can bring that reality to bear in all the work I do. How can I remember that it’s never about the big piece of glass? How can I live the power of a life lived one conversation at a time?

Though I’ve tried many things, here are some that I’ve found that work:

  1. Meet the person in front of you. Nothing is as important as this conversation. Stop thinking about all the people you want to serve and serve this one person. If you want to change the world, change this conversation, this interaction, by showing up and serving.
  2. Stop worrying about how you’re coming off. Don’t be a jerk, but also don’t be afraid to be honest and to be who you are. When you step into yourself, you invite others to step into theirs.
  3. Feel what’s inside of you. It’s easy to get lost in what someone is saying or in what you want to say, but some of what is happening is inside of you. When you feel and notice your emotions, your intuition, and your gut response you speak with more authenticity.
  4. Listen first and then reflect. The first words when listening should be about letting the other person know you’re in the room and that you heard what they said.
  5. Don’t think about what you’re going to say. Just focus on speaking from the heart.
  6. Speak simply and to the point. Just say what’s true for you and own that experience. Often the first and simplest sentence holds the most power.
  7. Live your life one person at a time. Too often we focus on goals and tasks and not on people. But the truth is that it’s people who really matter. It’s the relationships that make the big difference. Your to do list won’t come to your funeral. Your email won’t show up for your wedding. It’s people. They are the work. They will make your life what you truly want it to be.

When I coach, I can see my clients adding piece after piece of glass to their window. Neither of us has to see the whole image immediately, but we can both sense we’re creating this important piece of art together, one small piece at a time.