Category Archives: Education and Lifelong Learning

Putting on the Brakes


I follow a few bloggers who write regularly. James Clear posts every Monday and Thursday and has for a few years. Seth Godin writes a daily post and has for something like 16 years, or maybe 61 years. It’s been quite a long time anyway. *You* may follow bloggers who are consistent, but you follow at least one who lurches forward two baby steps, then writes posts for 7 straight days, then nothing for 4 months. Following such a blogger takes patience and determination! While I may be more the norm as far as bloggers go with my haphazard posting, expect to see some consistency from this blogger starting today.

I listened to the latest episode of a new favorite podcast yesterday called 10% Happier. The guest was Daniel Pink, who I think I have heard of, but maybe just because his name is a color I like. His latest book, When, is about the science of when we do things for optimal performance.

The takeaway for me was the Peak-Trough-Recovery cycle of our days. Around 8am we are at a peak of energy and brain power. Around 1pm we have moved into a trough where we definitely do not have that creative energy flowing. And by about 6pm we have recovered somewhat, although not up to the same peak levels as the morning.

Analytical thinking and creating is best done in the morning.

Administrative work is best done in the early afternoon.

Brainstorming and insight work is best done in the later hours of the day.

This is the opposite of what I have been doing. I have been tackling email and paperwork in the morning, which would be better addressed later in the day. I realize now that it is difficult to be writing consistently when I am using up my juicy writing time adding up columns of numbers. So I screeched my old schedule to a halt and I’m experimenting with Pink’s suggestion on what to do when.

How do you structure your day? If you were to apply Pink’s insights, what changes would you make? As always, thanks for reading!


How to Solve the Problem of “Shoulding” on Yourself

I recently made a list of every one of my roles, and then wrote down all the shoulds related to each role.  So far, I have discovered 40 different roles. Roles are anything that you could conceivably have embroidered on a hat! We all wear a whole bunch of different hats.

As for the shoulds, I was aghast but curious to observe the pages and pages of shoulds that hang around nonchalantly, shooting darts at me all day every day. As I stared at the pages, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Should is a very heavy word.

Not only that, but each should holds several more  inside, like the maryoshka dolls pictured above.

“I should clean out my car” contains “I SHOULD always have a clean car.” Inside that one: “I SHOULD have a clean car inside AND out.”  Inside: “I SHOULD WANT to have a cleaner car.” Inside that one: “I SHOULD get regular oil changes and other periodic service.” Inside that one: “I SHOULD teach Kepler to take all of his trash out of the car every day.” Each one piles on top of the other.

The tiniest maryoshka doll of should is probably the same for every should and has to do with being afraid to make mistakes, or a need to be perfect, or some other aspect of not being enough.

A common example of a should is “I should exericise (more/daily/at all).” And some of us are able to should ourselves to the gym and get it done. But only for awhile. Tony Robbins has a concept he calls “push motivation vs pull motivation.” As he says,

“There are 2 different kinds of motivation: Push requires willpower, and willpower never lasts. What will last is pull – having something so exciting, so attractive, something you desire so much that you have a hard time going to sleep at night, you get up so early in the morning and take it to the next level. That’s what you’re looking to get.”

Does should make me clean out my car? Or want to do it? Well, no, actually. The shoulds simply sit there, judging me. I feel terrible.

With a vague memory of the push-pull concept, I looked at my list and thought there must be some desire under these shoulds. There must be something that I actually want, something that connecting with would transform the should into a want.


What I actually like is what it feels like when my car is clean, inside and/or outside, free of trash, organized, fueled up, and taken care of.

I transform the should into a want like this:  I love how it feels to be in my car when it’s clean and organized. I love how it feels to take “exquisite care” of our things. I love feeling content as I drive.

And just like that, I’m motivated to take better care of my car. Just like that. Should is a heavy word. The joy of fulfilling a want is sweet and light and anything but heavy.




Many Happy Returns of the Day

For many years now, I have been susceptible to the GoBackToBed Magnet. I always seem to buy beds with really strong ones. On days when I don’t have to be out the door, sometimes rather often I can fall prey to the Preying Magnet. As recently as yesterday, the GBTB Magnet drew me as easily as the iron filings to Wooly Willy.


Knowing today that I didn’t need to be anywhere at any particular time, and also knowing full well how cozy the old grand lit is, I thought maybe I better approach the problem from a new angle.

While Kepler and I danced around at the bus stop (to the music from Shrek; always Shrek), a thought popped into my head.  “I shall pretend like I am someone who never goes back to bed after I get my kids off to school.”  I was thinking about actors and how they embody personas that are very different from their natural personality, and I thought well darn it if Leo diCaprio can do it, then so can I. On my way back to the house, I just engaged in a little game of pretend and imagined all the things that kind of person might think about their day and their time and their bed.

I find that things that work for me tend to arise organically, but almost always confirm something I have read or heard in the past. In college, THE thing that stuck with me out of all the psych classes I took was the idea that attitude follows action. That my attitude will very often change based on me taking action. When I start something, even if I only intend to keep it up for two minutes (like a cleaning task), keeping on going is almost always the outcome. Overcoming that initial inertia gets the momentum going.

I made colorful signs for myself and posted them around the house, affirmations about the kind of person that I am, even though I can find evidence against each of them! I placed “I am the kind of person who stays up after my kids go to school” on my already made bed. I placed others throughout the house, and each of them made me smile throughout the day.

And I got hella done, man. Not only for myself, but I helped my mother by taking nearly 100 books out of her house for her — books she was ready to part with. (Although I was once accused of shoplifting, I don’t actually steal things.)

One of the books leaving was A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book. I decided I needed that one more than the donation box, and so I will leave you with a Pretty Good Joke: Why did the mushroom go to the party? Cuz he was a fungi! Why did the fungi leave the party? Cuz there wasn’t mushroom.



That Wise Dalai Lama

May I become at all times,
Both now and for ever,
A protector for the helpless,
A guide for the lost ones,
A ship for those to cross oceans,
And a bridge to cross rivers,
A sanctuary for those in danger,
A lamp for those in darkness,
A refuge for those who need shelter,
A servant to all in need.

I saw a wallhanging with this quote by the Dalai Lama. It hangs in the small dining room of the home where I stayed in Alaska. I looked all over the internet for the banner, as I really loved the quote. But found it not, did I.

I wonder if it can actually be both a positive thing as well as a negative thing to want to be a servant to all in need.

I love the images that this quotation brings to mind.

Have you ever been lost? These days, it seems like most of us have GPS capability at our fingertips so if we do get lost, we can pretty easily find our way to our destination with just a few keystrokes.


When our big kids were little, we visited Red River Gorge (spoiler alert: a truly PANIC-inducing venue to take small children). Only the three eldest were born, so they were probably 4, 3, and 2. Greg and I have always loved to hike. Loved it. Figured it’s about the same thing to hike with three small children in hand/on our backs.

For some reason, we got to a fork in the path and didn’t see the next signpost. For SOME reason very mysterious to me now, we parents decided to go two different directions; Greg with the boys, and me with Valerie. We knew the trail started and ended at the parking lot. But just like every trip TO somewhere, the path seemed to never end.

Valerie and I kept walking and walking and walking. We didn’t see anyone. After awhile, I began to fear that we had gotten off the trail and so I had us stop and wait so I could think about what to do. I don’t even know if Valerie remembers this, but she probably does — it may have gone done in her memory as a traumatic event. I know for me it was scary. I mean, I knew SOMEONE would find us. We weren’t that far away from the parking lot, but this was pre-cellphones, so I was either going to have to find the way or be found.

We waited for quite some time and so I decided we should retrace our steps. We hiked for awhile, with me still not knowing whether we were on the path or not. When we finally saw a couple of hikers who became guides for these lost ones, they were the most welcome faces I had ever seen. We had been on the right path all along; I just hadn’t realized how much further we had to go.

Although the guide for this lost one did appear, much of the resolution that day was left up to me to figure out. When we were in the woods, I was the one who had to figure out what to do. I knew Greg was not far away, but I knew it would be very difficult for him to carry two small boys back up the trail to find us. He would have done it, and indeed was just about to set out when we finally appeared. Had it been him in the forest, he

THAT image of a guide for the lost ones, I love. But I think the key is that I KNEW we were lost. I KNEW we needed some outside information in order to be sure where we were. The most frequent “lost” ones I come into contact with are those who are in drug court, and many of them do not feel lost, and therefore are not looking for a guide.

Even when responding to a felt need from someone who is looking for a ship to cross the ocean or a lamp for the darkness, I must be careful to respect their journey, and really think about what it means to offer someone a lamp for the darkness. I suppose one of the major aspects of it is to be willing to offer the lamp and then be unattached to the outcome of what the searcher does in the light.

I’m not sure I’m really up to asking to be all of those things “both now and forever.” I would guess that the primary way I become all of those things is to practice being them for myself first. Otherwise, it can be a distraction to go around thinking I can be a bridge for someone to cross a river or a sanctuary for someone in danger. I do want to let my light shine, so being a lamp in the darkness seems like the most doable of the list.

I’m a work in progress. Seems I have been giving myself away in ways that have depleted me greatly. I choose to embrace now learning to give of myself in ways that share out of my fullness, rather than eking a few more drops out of my emptiness. And along the way, it is very interesting to observe how those I think need help actually do things for themselves when they are allowed to.

So, I will walk forward lightly, listening, listening.


Reposting today from another blog

I received this blog post in my email today twice. First, from the blogger herself. Second, from a friend of mine who forwarded it to me.

I am certain that most bloggers are happy to have their material shared as long as proper attribution is given. The following is a blog post written by puredoxyk on her blog You can read it on her blog here.

If you happen to know the etiquette for this type of thing, do let me know if I need to make any adjustments on how I have done this. I just thought this was extremely interesting and wanted to share.

Practical modesty: the Xmas lesson hidden in physics

Posted on December 23, 2015 by puredoxyk

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” – H.W. Longfellow

When you think of people who try to live “modestly”, or with humility — meaning that they do not boast, show off, or elevate themselves above others; and that they seek ways to serve others — you often think of spiritual devotees: monks, nuns and the like.

You may, like I do, admire those people with half-lidded eyes, generally in favor of the work they do and their lack of self-centeredness, but not quite sure *why* anybody should really pursue that path, instead of any of the more normal ones — the ones that aren’t harmfully boastful or self-aggrandizing, but also not devoted to emptying and lowering themselves.

I adore the philosophical Taoist answer to this “why” question, and I got a big fat freshly-baked pie of clarity to the face about it this week, and thought it made a great holiday post.

Here’s the thing: Religions will generally try to convince you that modesty is a) tied to being religious / part of their/your religious practice, and b) something you’ll be rewarded for because of supernatural reasons — i.e., God likes modesty, so act like a nun and He/It will reward you. Taoism (by which I always mean “philosophical Taoism”, just for ease of writing) has a wonderful habit of explaining why things are good, independently of “because I said so” answers like religious dogma or supernatural assumptions.

Taoism explains that modesty is a good idea because of the law of conservation of energy, plain and simple.

Energy seeks balance, like water — in fact, like all matter, and all energy (because they’re the same thing; remember your Einstein). In the whole Universe, motion happens in the direction of emptying what is full, and filling what is empty. Something can block this motion, but that only causes tension to build up, tension which will eventually be resolved, and the endless slosh restored. You can build a dam, and that will change what happens when; but it will not change that water seeking its balance.

If philosophical Taoism is a religion (and there are good arguments to be made that it’s not; for instance, the lack of theistic deities or supernatural explanations), its central tenet is that “the basic and obvious rules of how the Universe works also apply to human lives and decision-making”. This is an assumption, but a pretty damn good one, easily defensible by simply asking a doubter what evidence they could possibly have that the laws of nature don’t apply to how humans should live their lives and make decisions. They’re laws of nature. So is gravity. Gravity applies to us, because we are inside nature. Why the heck wouldn’t balance / energy-conservation apply to us too?

You can go from there to the normative, moral formulation: Being a good/smart person means generally trying to act in concert with the motions of the Universe, rather than fighting them. Instead of religious faith, we have faith that the laws of the Universe matter, and apply to us, and are good signposts for figuring out how to act. …But in actuality, you can skip right over the moralizing, and just go straight to “what makes practical sense”.

Modesty, humility, and service to others are not, to the Taoists, something to be done because someone else says to, be they Pope or mystical spirit; or even, primarily, because the Universe kinda wants us to. No, they’re simply a good idea because they are how you buy good luck. Do you want the Universe on your side, the pressures of balance and the innate movements of energy to be pushing for you, rather than against you? Well, then remember: What is empty is made full. If you are “full” — full of yourself, of arrogance (agh, the million kinds of arrogance), of mountains of treasure, of surety that you know everything — then the natural order of things will be pushing in the direction of taking you down a notch. But if you take actual actions to make yourself emptier — if you sacrifice ego, let others take the praise, give away everything you can, and look for opportunities to give help whenever possible — then you will be making yourself empty, and Universal law will be acting, in all the billion small ways it does, to bring things to you.

It’s not a guarantee; the world doesn’t work in simple equations. Comets fly around and hit things; making actual predictions is subtle and tricky, and probably in a lot of ways not worth the effort. But everything does generally work according to some basic principles, and it’s undeniable — and requires nothing supernatural to explain — that if you act in concert with those, if you follow the dance-steps the planets and everything on them are leading with, then you will have better luck overall, and a much better shot at peace and happiness regardless of what happens, than if you fight against it.

I had occasion recently to be re-studying some of what the I Ching has to say on modesty and humility, on empty and full (which is incredible to study in nonphysical terms while simultaneously studying it physically in martial arts) and awareness of this Universal law as a guide for living; and then a day later, I re-watched the old Bill Murry Xmas movie Scrooged with my family. And there at the end was Mr. Murray’s wonderful modern take on the Ebenezer character, teary-eyed with revelation, urging people to realize every day the truth that reveals itself to us sometimes during the holidays: That if we give, we receive, not things but miracles -universal good luck. He talks about the broader miracle of realizing that the more you give, the better you feel, and the better the things that will come back to you, all on their own. “It’ll happen to you,” he urges, “You just have to want it. And once it happens to you, you’ll see that it works, and you’ll get greedy for it, and you’ll realize that you can have it every day…” (I’m paraphrasing, but the speech is, while goofy, quite excellent. If you haven’t seen it in a while, check it out here.)

Bill Murray is literally talking about how the winter holiday, the spirit of Xmas, is a chance to glimpse the truth of modesty, of giving to receive, of emptying yourself in order to entice the Universe to fill you.

To be downright cheeky about it, we could say that for every dollar you give away, the laws of physics give you, on average, $1.618 back.

(OK, I’d better stop. :P)

Wow, that has given me some wonderful food for thought. I hope you enjoyed reading it, too.


Before I Make Mashed Taters for 20 People, I Have Something to Say


If I were still a Christian, I would have a great analogy here.

Toast (pictured above) (the furry one) has been with us now for about 3 months. Our foray into having a dog trainer come and help us was a bit of a disaster. “Mike” the dog trainer apparently has his own dogs who are trained so well that he can just look at them and they know to recite the alphabet while standing on one leg. But Mike’s instruction to us didn’t work. He instructed us to ignore Toast when he jumps up on us, and to give him something appropriate to chew on when he mouthed or bit us. Sounds gr-r-r-r-r-r-eat! EXCEPT THAT KEPLER IS TOO SMALL TO DO THIS. Keppie did try to “be a tree” when Toast jumped, but as Toast grew, Kepler didn’t grow and it became unmanageable to expect Kepler to be able to stand fast when Toast jumped on him.

And with one thing and another, gradually I started to feel like this dog ownership thing was not for me! I do know that it is, as I heard many years ago, a goal big enough to demand my best. I want my dog to make my life easier, not harder. But a dog has to be trained and guided, else he’s going to be acting in ways that are REALLY not compatible with having a small child.

As it so happens, Greg spoke with a different dog trainer on the phone yesterday who told us Toast should be on leash or otherwise under our control at all times. AS IT SO OFTEN HAPPENS, something very basic like that has tremendous power to change my experience.

And here’s the analogy. Putting Toast on leash gave him structure and confidence that someone else was in charge. Without that confidence, he was unable to control himself and was pretty much bouncing off the walls. Jumping up on my me, jumping up on Kepler, jumping up on the furniture, grabbing things off the counter, just generally being a poorly trained dog, but doing what came naturally to him.

As a Christian, I used to think that it was nice to know that God was in charge, and that I could have confidence that Someone was in charge of things. I am completely fine with not having that point of view anymore, but I still see how valuable it is for a being (Toast) who is obviously dependent on a higher-order being (his sometimes clueless owners) to know that his owner can be trusted and depended on to be consistent, to set boundaries and enforce them, and to love him the way he needs to be loved.

So, I’m off to make mashed potatoes for 20. No doubt I will make way more than these 20 people will eat, because my eyes are ALWAYS bigger than peoples’ stomachs, but no matter.

A New Productivity Tool!

Greg (he of the inspiration for the Hallelujah chorus) mentioned a productivity tool called Simpleology the other day. I had just started using a waiter’s pad to write down everything that occurred to me during the day — things I needed to buy, find, do, return, and try. Simpleology has a feature that works the same as the waiter pad without the inconveniences that go along with a pad of paper with messy lists on it.

It’s new to me, but has been around for a few years. So far, I am extremely impressed.

There are many features I haven’t even used yet, but what I am finding is that I am tackling the things that need to get done. Honestly, I enjoy crossing things off of a list, whether or not every single thing gets done that day or not. For me, it is motivating to choose which thing to do next, finish it, and cross it off.

One thing I have been putting off was clearing off my desk. With the addition of Toast to our home, I’ve had to pick up all my little piles and files which were around my desk on the floor. And my poor desk became a receptacle for all of it.

I was feeling pretty intimidated by the thought of actually doing this task, so I split it into sub-tasks of clearing 25 things at a time, so I did get to cross things off along the way. Once I got into it, I didn’t need to keep counting. I knew I could do it. I noticed that I decided to finish the job completely — to take all the things that belonged elsewheres to the elsewheres.

Simpleology is not cheap. Right now, we are both doing a free month of the “pro” level, which will cost $7/month if we continue. There is an “elite” level which is considerably more than that. So, we are going to evaluate this program and use it for a month and then decide. I will say it has enhanced my productivity considerably.

Another feature is the “dream catcher,” which is where I drop things all day long — tasks that come to mind, all the types of things I was writing on the waiter pad. This has always been an excellent method for me to use because I will forget things if I do not write them down.

I have found it quite encouraging and motivating to use this tool. I got the vet appointment made, which has been hanging over my head since the end of August. I finished all the laundry and folded it AND put it away. No big earth-shattering accomplishment, but it feels good to me in my little corner of the world. Best of all, I made a phone call to follow up on a couple of emails I had sent requesting information. Turns out, the organization had not received my emails due to some glitch on their website and my phone call not only alerted them to that fact, but they knew I was interested in information. I found it a little intimidating to make this particular phone call, but Simpleology helped me get it done.

At least check it out. There are MANY more features I haven’t even begun to use, let alone all the ones that I am using but didn’t talk about. Let me know what you think if you give it a try. And leave a comment if you already use it or use something similar which you find helps your productivity!

About that Moving Target Idea

Yesterday, I heard Eric say “depression can’t hit a moving target.” I took pencil and paper and jotted down all the moving things “we” try to catch.

I thought about how hard it is to change the diaper on a wriggling child. Lasso an animal while it’s running. Tackle a running back who is sprinting down the field. Hit a baseball that is speeding through the air. Catch a butterfly in a net. Capture, shoot, or kill an enemy who is evading you during war (or in a video game). Hit the moving duck in the carnival game.

All of the (sentient) pursued have a goal — not to be lassoed, tackled, captured, or stopped. And so they MOVE, for it is a lot harder to take down a moving target, especially one with momentum.

I’ve watched a lot of football games over the years. Once I was watching Randy Moss sprint toward the goal line after catching a short pass. By the time he got to the 10-yard line, I noticed his strides were 7.5 feet long, taking five yards in just two steps. It’s almost like you can fly once you get your momentum really going.

Although the goal of most of the above examples is something short of actual death, it definitely is to shorten, diminish, or stop the beautiful, free movement we see in a butterfly, a running back, an animal running at full tilt.

On the other hand, we have the “sitting duck.”

image by Michael Bedard at

This refers to the concept of someone or something which is vulnerable to being caught without realizing the danger. It’s much easier for a hunter to shoot a duck which is stationary, as opposed to aiming at a moving target.

I bet each of us has something that chases us — some temptation to an attitude or action that doesn’t serve us. I think of addicts who must be intentional about their recovery so that they are able to remain abstinent. Time and time again, I hear someone say they stopped doing the things that kept them on the path they desired, and they become sitting ducks for their nemesis.

I know I have written elsewhere about the importance and value of movement, in a variety of situations. Not only is movement something that can minimize the chances of the butterfly being captured in the net, movement is often filled with grace and beauty.

Here’s what I want to move TOWARD: freedom, love, joy, compassion, ease in my muscles at rest, new experiences, faithfulness, and curiosity. How about you? What do you want to move TOWARD?

Depression Sucks

That is all.

Just kidding.

I think it’s been too quiet around here. The transition from the busy summer to the busy school year which hasn’t really ramped up yet has left me bereft and with too much time on my hands. Well, maybe not too much time. Too much solitude. Too much time alone without speaking.

So much time to do all the things that need to get done. Time to organize. Declutter. Volunteer. Exercise. Write. All those things!

They say if you need something done you should give it to a busy person. My experience is that is true. I get much less done when I have fewer demands on my time. On the other hand, sometimes when the demands are mostly little nit-picky things, or maintenance tasks which just keep things on an even keel, the demands can be de-energizing.

At this point, I’ve been blogging daily since mid-January, but depression snorts, “to what end?” Every writer feels sometimes like what they write is useless drivel, but depression says they don’t share the useless drivel with everyone else. I like blogging, even when it feels like useless drivel. Maybe I should change the title to Clearing Space for Useless Drivel. Haha. I think the truth is blogging is pretty much a lifesaver for me. Knowing that I am creating something every single day, and that the things I write can be encouraging or can be things that others identify with or can just be interesting to readers — this knowledge reminds me that I matter some little tiny bit in this world that doesn’t care that I emptied the recycling bin again, or even that I recycle in the first place.

Here are two quotes which I find germane to the topic of depression. The first is by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

The second is from T. H. White’s The Once and Future King:

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

I find it to be true that learning things helps me through the dark times of depression. I find it to be true that embracing the experience can be more positive than trying to fight it off. It’s just that Depression isn’t neutral. At times, Depression weighs 1000 tons and is bigger than the tallest tree. How can I focus on anything else when I’m simply trying not to be smooshed down into the earth? Maybe it’s in the acceptance of the smooshing that I cleverly slip out from under the weight and crawl forward a step or two.

Remembering to be curious about this experience helps, too. What would the Universe have me learn today from these experiences and feelings? What might the Universe be offering me here? These are questions I can ask even as the 1000 tons presses down on me. And I believe the answers come when I ask the questions. I just have to remember to ask them.

Top ten lessons I’ve learned since I got a dog

1. I can stop saying I’m not a dog person now. It appears that I actually am.

2. Having a dog is making me a better parent.

3. I have a reason to spend time outside now.

4. The internet is a boon to mankind. Well, I already knew that one, but it’s a great resource to learn how to dog.

5. Kepler loves having a dog. “I wuv Toast, Mom.”

6. Having a dog has made me more playful.

7. I love having a dog small enough to carry around. Toast, full-grown, will be too big to carry, which will be fine, but I never realized how sweet it is to carry around a calm puppy.

8. I have done more gardening since we got Toast than I’ve ever done in my life, probably because we are outside so much.

9. It’ll be a week tomorrow since he came home and I’m about twenty times more confident and comfortable than I was just one short week ago.

10. I’m sold on labradoodles.