Three Shots

I take too many pictures. In general, I’m pretty good about it. My iPhone 5 is only 16GB and has a limited amount of available space so that constraint helps there. But, when I go on vacation and have my good camera with me, with the large storage card, I just fire away because I can.

Once back home, I connect it up to import those shots to iPhoto (yes, I still use iPhoto too). I’m pretty good about cleaning things up right then and there; deleting bad shots or choosing between similar ones. That’s how I know I take too many. I end up deleting well over half.

Even then, out of those, how many do I end up printing to hang on a wall or use in a photo book? Out of any given day, that number is rarely more than three. So, that had me asking myself throughout this last trip out west to see a few of our (under-appreciated and phenomenal) National Parks, why do I bother to take more than three in the first place?

Now, I know part of the answer is the idea that, by taking a lot of photos I can more easily guarantee I’ll find at least three that I really love.

But, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I had the constraint of only being able to take three to begin with. How would that help fuel my creative process? What memories would I choose to capture and which would I just have to be content with my memory of them. How would I choose what three photos would tell the story of the day?

Then I realized I actually had a way to answer some of these questions — answers found in the past photobooks I’ve built and shots I’ve printed… The truth is, many of those photos were taken with the camera that had the most built in constraints — my iPhone 5.

So, I’m going to do what I can to temper my happy shutter finger the next time. I’m going to pretend that I only have three shots available to me. Three shots to tell the story I’m trying to tell and help me remember the three most important moments. I’d like to see what effect that has not only on my photography but also on my presence in the experience.

I’ll be sure to report my results.

And, yes, all three photos in this post were shot with my iPhone 5.

I don’t have the time.

This post will likely cause some consternation in my household (and I swear this is not specifically directed towards my very much overworked and time-constrained wife), but there is a phrase that increasingly rankles my brain; “I don’t have the time”. If there’s one phrase I would like to eradicate from our language it is this.


We’re all working with the exact same 24 hours in our day. We all have the same time. We all have the time we have. I have the same amount you have. The same amount in a day that everyone and everything else has.

The difference is how we choose to spend that time. There may be some very valid reasons why you choose to spend your 24 hours differently than how I choose mine. And, there are some things we all have to choose in order to simply stay alive. We all need to sleep, at some point, for instance. But, trust me, even those are choices.

You have the time. I have the time. What you may not be doing is making the time. We make the time for the things that are, or at least seem, important. We may choose to spend an hour working instead of that same hour playing because making money at that time seems more important than having fun. But, don’t say you don’t have time to play. You are choosing, perhaps for very good reasons, to work instead.

So, the next time you find yourself complaining about the things you wish you were doing instead of the things you are doing, perhaps consider saying “I’m not making the time” instead. It’s not only closer to the truth but just may change your perspective on your priorities as well.

The Bank and Trust of Us

About forty years ago, when I opened my first savings account, I remember the interest rate of return was 3% to 5%. So, for every dollar you put in and kept in, you’d get three to five cents back every month or so. But, if you maintained a balance over a certain amount, you got even more back. I forget what those numbers were, but let’s just guess it was around a grand. Therefore, there was not only incentive in saving in the first place but, the more you put in the more you got back.

But, you wouldn’t see that return unless your savings sat there for a bit. It had to be there for 30 to 60 days. It took a little time, no matter how much you put in, before you’d begin to see a payoff. After all, the bank is paying you a portion of the profit they were making from the money you put in. They need to make a profit before they can pay you a return. Plus, they need to trust you’re not just going to come in and make some quick money and leave, that you want to be a long time customer.

Relationships work much the same way. The more time and energy we put into them, the better the return on the investment. Like with a bank of old, invest a little bit and you’ll get something back. Invest even more, and you’ll see a little bit more back. But, you won’t see it right away. That return will not begin to pay off until you’ve let your time and energy sit for a while. Others need time to see the value of your effort. They need time to trust that you are not just doing it to get something out of them. That you are in it for the long term.

These days, the rate of return at banks is far lower. These days, a basic savings account provides almost zero incentive to keep your money there. If you’re looking to make money at a decent rate of return, to invest, it makes more sense to put your money elsewhere. The truth is that banks no longer see a basic savings account as an indication that someone wants to do long term business. Now, they also need you to have a credit card, a mortgage, and a couple of CDs. Then they might, might, give you a better deal. Sad, but true.

These days, the rate of return in interpersonal relationships is far lower too. Just a phone call or a letter is not enough. Now, we must follow on Twitter and Facebook, subscribe to the newsletter, read the blog, and exchange a few emails before many see us as serious and trust we don’t just want something from them and forget them as soon as we do. And, frankly, the time and attention we do put in these days is competing for notice among so many other things; the “timeline”, the “stream”, braking news, endless war, security theatre, and politics of the absurd.

So, the upshot of all of this is that we should not be surprised if we feel like we are having to put so much more energy into our relationships these days or that it is taking longer before we begin to see anything equally meaningful in return. It’s a sign of the times we live in.

But, just like our savings, it can still be worth it if we choose wisely, invest strategically, and go in with our expectations set accordingly.


There are about seven billion four hundred million people on Earth. Every one of those humans was born and every one of them will die. Every one has a heart that beats and needs air to breathe. That means that our hearts beat in rhythm with tens of of millions of others every second of every day. It means when we inhale, tens of millions of others are inhaling at that exact same time. When we sleep, there are tens of millions of others who are sleeping too. When we eat, we eat in harmony with tens of million others. Pretty much everything we do, the chances are good that there is at least one other person, somewhere on the planet, doing that exact same thing at the exact same time. The statistics alone bear this simple truth out; there is more that unites us than divides us.

It is these big things that unite us: Living, dying, beating, breathing, eating, sleeping. doing. Huge things. Life giving things. Life meaning things. The very things we have labeled “human”.

The differences are small in comparison.

A Little Mantra

I’ve always been hard on eyeglasses. Some of that is not my fault. For instance, if they get knocked off my face accidentally and skid lens first across the concrete. But, some of it is my fault. For instance, the way I’d just place them unprotected on my nightstand at bedtime and then get knocked off reaching for them in the morning. In general, almost every pair I’ve ever owned get scratched up within a few weeks of new.

I recently got a new pair of glasses. I determined that this time, I would take better care of them. So, I created the following little mantra:

When they’re not on your face, they should be in a case.

I have found, in my years, that little mantras provide a waypoint for the direction one wishes to travel. I have a few dozen that run through my mind and keep me on a better path.

I got a hard shell case for them that stays on my nightstand. I got a leash for them that I take when I know I’ll be engaging in higher activity. It seems simple but I already feel so much better about the future of this pair than I’ve felt about any before.

If you have a desire to be better about something, maybe creating a little mantra around it will help.

There’s a book in your blog.

If you haven’t noticed, perhaps because to my memory he has not explicitly stated it, Derek Sivers is writing a book about surviving in the music industry right in plain sight. Every post he’s made to his blog in the past several weeks is a chapter around this topic. I would not be surprised if he packages it up as a book at the end and sells it. I’m not a musician and I’d buy it just to support the idea.

I too have used this method. In fact, all but one of my books either started out as a blog post or are a collection of posts that are available for free, right now, on the web. Many of Seth Godin’s books fit this model too.

I not only have done this as a writer but I support it as a reader. I love the idea of being able to purchase a nicely curated and packaged collection of ideas. I don’t have to dig through a blog’s archive or skim through a category to get to the stuff I want. The author has done if for me and that is work worth paying for.

An Effective Team

“We are a very effective team!”

This is something Bethany and I say to each other at times when we are operating at our best. It’s a line I stole from the rather unfortunate and predictable Tom Cruise/Morgan Freeman vehicle, Oblivion.

It’s true. This comes for the fact that we both know our strengths and are honest about our weaknesses. We respect those in ourselves and each other. We know where those complement and contradict. We know how to wield such knowledge to the maximum benefit. When Bethany and I work toward a common goal, focus, and vision, we are a force.

But, it’s also true in everyday life as well. In general, we work very well together at dividing up and cooperating on the tasks of our complicated and busy lives. When people talk to us and discover how many different things we are juggling at any given moment and wonder how we manage to do it all, it’s because we work very well together.

We’re an effective team.

The Best Choice I Make

Bethany and I don’t need each other. The truth is, we were doing pretty well on our own before. When we met, she was in the process of getting a divorce. I had gone through a divorce several years earlier and had primary custody of my two sons. We both had houses. We both had lives. We were both relatively financially stable. We both were at tail ends of relationships. Neither of us were looking to get into a new one anytime soon.

The truth is that, even today, Bethany and I would be just fine on our own. But, we choose to be together. We make that choice because we know that even if we would be fine on our own we are at our best together.

Being together is a choice we make, daily. Every moment. Before every embrace. After every argument. In the smooth and the rough, we choose. We choose to work for it. We choose to fight for it. We choose to love.

We choose to be at our best. And that choice, means being together.

It’s the best choice I make every day.

Bethany Behind the Scenes

Let’s say, for instance, you are a friend of Bethany’s. And, let’s just say, for example, you casually mention that you are looking to buy a new house. Like, as just part of an in-passing, what’s-going-on, sort of way.

What you don’t know is that you’ve just sent Bethany off on a house search for you. A few minutes here. A quick browse there. As she’s scrolling through people she follows or groups she’s in on Facebook, anytime she sees a house for sale she’s actively investigating if it’s the right house for you. We have more friends than we can count who have been helped by this. Either by leading them to a new home or leading to a place to land while a new home is being found.

Now, let’s say, for instance, you mention you are looking for a job. And, let’s just say, for example, you casually mention this to Bethany. Once again, without expectation. Just an aside.

What you don’t see is that Bethany’s head gears are now turning through a catalog of possibilities, openings, connections, and clients to see if there’s something that might be a good fit. Or even a good direction to turn or lead to follow. This happened as recently as a few days ago. A friend mentioned that she was looking for a change in career and it turned out that Bethany knew of an opening for that exact job.

Are you sick or going through a rough time? Bethany is thinking of how to bring you a meal or cheer you up. Are you having problems in your relationship? Bethany is trying to find a way in her (very little) free time how to take you out for a drink to vent. If you have any problem at all, Bethany is thinking of a solution.

Now, she doesn’t have all the answers. She is not a real estate agent. She’s not an employment counsellor. She’s not a therapist and, frankly, if you get a meal when you are sick I mostly likely cooked it. But, the point is that she does her damnedest to try to solve any problem that passes her way.

The thing is, she does this all on her own free time. She doesn’t have a lot of free time. By not a lot, I mean next to none. Yet, it doesn’t matter. She can’t help it. It’s who she is and one of the many reasons why I love her and the world, especially her world, is so lucky to have her.

An Open Love Letter

This is a love letter. An open love letter. The beginning of what will be a series of open love letters this week to my wife, Bethany Gladhill. For no particular reason. The fact that it is coinciding with the same week containing Valentines Day is pure happenstance. A fortunate accident.

I’ve just been thinking lately about how I write a whole lot about my daughter. For good reason, she’s amazing. But, I haven’t written nearly as much about my wife, who is even way more amazing. More than most of the reason my daughter is amazing is because she’s so much like my wife. I still don’t believe I get to live a life in partnership with or service to either one of them.

That said, anyone who has spent time talking to me knows how frequently conversations with me turn into unabashed praise for everything Bethany Gladhill does. How hard she works. How much smarter she is than me. How much better read. How she far outpaces me in earnings. How passionate she is about the things she believes in. How hard she works for her clients and how committed she is to them. What a great mother she is and how much effort and thought she puts into giving her daughter every opportunity. What a wonderful partner she is in all that our lives entail.

And, in my defense, part of the trouble with writing about her is that she is so involved in so many things and so good at every single one of them it’s hard to know where to start. When discussing her work, do I talk about the few dozen non-profits she helps to manage and run, her historic preservation work some of which is pioneering on a national scale, her volunteer work with many organizations, or the many personal side projects that she invests heart and soul into? Do I talk about how much time and thought and effort she puts into doing favors for friends or connecting someone’s need with another’s offering? It’s hard because any one of those things is worth a post.

The truth is, I’m her biggest fan and champion. She’s my best friend and I’m humbled by her love. I hope my notes this week will settle any past failings on my part to let everyone know that.