Livin’ the Dream

In one of the side cupboards of everyone’s mind there is a loose idea about “Livin’ the dream.” It is even a sarcastic reply to the question in passing: “How you doing?”….”Oh, livin’ the dream.” But what if you were to put aside the snark and examine what the dream would look like?

Life can sweep you up and keep you moving in a direction that seems arbitrary. The dream changes to fit the scenario. But there can come a point when you and the dream stand eye to eye. This is where I find myself, facing and embracing the dream.

There is a small town in Arizona called Apache Junction. Like ya do, I have researched this spot and determined this is where I want to be. I have friends there. I have family there. So, what do I want to do when I get there? What I have always done, teach.

I’ve done it in classrooms, I’ve done it in seminars, webinars, boardrooms. I have done it in a coat, I have done it with a goat…(intentional Seuss reference.)

What do I want to teach? Technology, music, auto mechanics, philosophy… Yea, I know…I have to pick one. But maybe not. Maybe the dream is bigger than that. Maybe I can ignore convention by reinvention, it is my dream after all.

I have been lucky in the directions life has charted. I have been an actor, a teacher, an opera singer, an auto mechanic and computer geek. I have traveled the dusty caverns of world religion and philosophy. I’ve waited tables, worked on assembly lines and washed dishes. All leading to a small town that promises glorious sunsets.

Now I am working on the “How” and I have a plan. I am knocking on doors until one opens.

donwarrick@gmail.com

Valentine’s Day Customer Service

This Valentine’s day, consider providing great customer service. Anyone who has ever worked in a job-job has the basic concepts of customer service down.

When we encounter a customer or a boss we apply these rules and techniques. We always try to exceed expectations, we deliver our best selves, we actively listen and carefully respond. That’s all up-line stuff, customers and bosses. But what about your down-line?

In the working world, we’ve all been through it. We all know about the 7 habits of highly effective people, we’ve been through team building and sensitivity training. But again, I ask, what about your down-line?

It came as a bit of a shock to me the other day that I wasn’t applying the basic principals of customer service to my down-line. While I am all joy and light to the boss, I am less than attentive and kind to some in my DL. In fact, if I consider them in my down-line I have already pigeon holed them into a subservient role.

Because I am the training guy, I was recently reviewing a bunch of materials on customer service. It reinforced what I had studied over the last many years and it put me in a customer service frame of mind. In this mind-set I encountered someone in my downline and gave them really great customer service. I listened, I acknowledged, I understood, I related. This made me reflect on my communication style. You can’t have one style going up and another going down. There is no down or up.

Why is this my Valentine’s message? Because that person in my DL wasn’t a co-worker. They were someone very close to me.

Happy Valentine’s Miss Chicapee.

Check under the hood for you ?

My second job after high school was as a service station attendant. For those of you born after about 1989, we referred to ourselves as “grease monkeys” and there were two sets of pumps at filling stations. One was self-service and the other full-service. Grease monkeys worked the full service isle and washed the windows, pumped the gas and took the payment. It was a time honored tradition from the age of the horseless carriage. After we had squeegeed the windows, we would ask “Can I check under the hood for you?”

It is an interesting lens through which to view the world and our culture today, slightly transposed. I ask the question now in terms of the endemic racism that seems so raw, so pervasive, so consented in this day and age. The metaphor is simple, the Klan is thriving. If you check under the hood, you see the same faces that have been hooded since 1865.

It all boils down to fear, not supremacy. Supremacy is just the justification for the laying of blame. The truth is, I can understand the fear. It is primal, it is deeply embedded in the reptillian brain and we all have it. It is a survival mechanism that predates homo sapiens. You see “other” and if you don’t recognize them as your species you fight or flee.

We have stopped fleeing. The hood is up now, and nobody is checking the oil.

There’s a hole in my doughnut

You cat lovers know who you are. I see your Facebook pictures, you can’t hide. And one weird phenomenon that we all share in common is the hole in the doughnut.

Every morning our cat Sissy Ree knocks on my office door. She looks up waiting for me to get my shit together then heads down the hallway to the kitchen. She stops at the same 3 spots and rubs her scent then proceeds to her bowl and sits looking down. She looks over her shoulder at me.

It is not that her bowl is empty, but she can see the bottom. Oh the shame she must feel for us, derelict in our duties. There is a hole in the doughnut. She will have none of this. She will not participate and stands as still as a porch jockey until the hole is filled. I fill the hole and she daintily consumes the nom.

I don’t think she is trying to assert her dominance, not really. I think for her it is a matter of completeness. She does not care for doughnuts with a haughty air she thinks “Let me eat cake”.

For anyone reading this that thinks cats are not useful, she is a constant reminder that I am inferior. She is alarm clock, sleeper in sunbeams and arbiter of doughnut holes.

Next time you drop by Dunkin, you might even look down at the frosted cake doughnut and think to yourself “What a gyp! ” – Why the hell is there a hole in my doughnut?

What’s it like to be you?


“Tell me about yourself” is an interview question. Here’s a better one: “What’s it like to be you?” The first one has a simple answer, “Well, I like long walks on the beach…” The second question is one we don’t ponder, much less ask.

It’s almost a question that words can’t answer. You could create a collage of pictures from your childhood through the present day, but even that would be insufficient. And while we shouldn’t attempt to answer about ourselves lest all of creation unravel; perhaps it is a question we should ask about others. I answered the question last night when I rolled over and found my wife next to me watching TV at 2am. I didn’t ask her, but got part of the answer just in the observation. I could have asked: “Are you OK?” instead, I felt a little of what it is like to be her. She lives with insomnia and physical pain that keeps her awake at night. I rolled over and went to sleep, because I can.


This morning I asked the cat the same question in my head and that led me to question the nature of consciousness. What is it like to be her? To be a cat? Silly I know. Then I started asking the question about my closest relatives. I realized I didn’t know the answer to that either. It is an unvoiced question that is the genesis of empathy, perhaps even for those who don’t display empathy, it is a gateway question.


We remember the golden rule. But how can we know the answer without asking the question: “What’s it like to be you?”

“Tell me about yourself” is an interview question. Here’s a better one: “What’s it like to be you?” The first one has a simple answer, “Well, I like long walks on the beach…” The second question is one we don’t ponder, much less ask.

It’s almost a question that words can’t answer. You could create a collage of pictures from your childhood through the present day, but even that would be insufficient. And while we shouldn’t attempt to answer about ourselves lest all of creation unravel; perhaps it is a question we should ask about others. I answered the question last night when I rolled over and found my wife next to me watching TV at 2am. I didn’t ask her, but got part of the answer just in the observation. I could have asked: “Are you OK?” instead, I felt a little of what it is like to be her. She lives with insomnia and physical pain that keeps her awake at night. I rolled over and went to sleep, because I can.


This morning I asked the cat the same question in my head and that led me to question the nature of consciousness. What is it like to be her? To be a cat? Silly I know. Then I started asking the question about my closest relatives. I realized I didn’t know the answer to that either. It is an unvoiced question that is the genesis of empathy, perhaps even for those who don’t display empathy, it is a gateway question.


We remember the golden rule. But how can we know the answer without asking the question: “What’s it like to be you?”

Ma ma ma my corona

I’ve waited before, this is nothing new. Waited for service, waited for grades, waited for puberty, waited for the check to clear. But today I’m waiting for Corona virus. I recon the only reason I got a test this morning is because I am scheduled for the regular periodic scans of my innerds. But here I am waiting to see what the next hurdle might be.

I’m a guy (most of you are aware of this) and so I exhibit regular guy behaviors and thinking. You know, the standard stuff like: “I’ll go to the doctor when that limb needs to be reattached” or “The human body has a lot more blood than that, let me just get the super glue” How about: “Anesthesia?, hell just give me some rawhide to bide down on.” It’s not the ailment that’s the problem, it’s the waiting. Tell me what’s wrong and I know whether to get the staple gun or the body filler. But don’t make me wait. Heaven help the Amazon delivery guy if he misses the delivery. If they say by 9pm, they better damn well mean it.

As a gender we believe that you should look us in the eye and tell us that our knee bending backwards is a bad thing. We can take it. But at times like this, our moxie can be like peanut brittle. Especially as an older dude and despite my best efforts to stay cloistered, I have a vague notion of what a positive diagnosis means.

A few hours later… My results are back…negative. The moral of the story? Don’t sweat what you don’t know. Yea, if you can survive a tractor rolling over you (Kevin, you know who you are) if you can take that, a swab up your nose or a vaccination in your arm shouldn’t require you biting down on that piece of rawhide.

Blunt force trauma

Enough has been said about him. Enough has been written about him. I was waiting for the day after when when we would wake to a new world. We did, for a moment, but a day later the media was all over it again like a dog on a bone. Not because there was some illuminating new information, but because, like comedians, they had struck a gusher in their own backyards that was pumping crude. Texas tea.

You can’t change the dial. No matter how much you wish you could look away, avert your gaze. You can’t. We are addicted and there is no 12 step program. We could give our problems up to a higher power but I’m pretty sure they can’t look away either.

Selbstelend – German is a cool language because they combinate words. So, not speaking enough German to ask more than where the toilet is, I feel I am more than qualified to combinate. Literally my new word means “Self-Pain”. Oh sure, we all know Shadenfreuda, but this is the age of “Selbstelend” taking pleasure from our own pain. It is the only explanation I can come up with. Even through it makes us want to wretch, we rush to toilet and derive pleasure from barfing.

I wish we could take a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down but all we get is sweet and sour; and it rests in the back of our throats, a reminder that we will wretch again.

Like any addiction we have to ween ourselves. Reduce your Selbstelend a bit at a time. Watch one less video every day. Read one less news story. Have one fewer thought of that which is best served cold. I can’t say that this is a cure, but a treatment. The disease has made itself known. It is measurably greater than we imagined and it will keep happening again and again. The truth is, we have taken a baseball bat to the head, and decided we like it.

Manage the weight

Stop reading if you’re expecting Don’s diet tips. Have you ever done weight training? If you have, you know there’s a right way and a wrong way. The wrong way is to lift a weight and let gravity take over on the way down. The right way is to “Manage the Weight” making sure that you are in control of the weight every moment of the exercise. It takes concentration and focus to manage the weight.

I lift to combat the effects of being no spring chicken. When I started, my form sucked. Then, I started managing the weight and things changed in both my training and in my head muscle. Really managing the weight has given me a new perspective on my thought process.

I’m one of those folks that has (what I think) is the occasional good idea. That’s the “lifting” part. Then I drop the weight and implementation goes out the window. Thinking (like lifting) requires that you manage the entire exercise. Have a thought? Manage the weight. Don’t let go. Don’t loose focus and let gravity take over. Focus through the entire exercise.

When gravity takes over, my brain jumps to the next stimulus, the next random emotion, the next point of focus. God help me if someone aims a laser pointer at the floor. But then I remind myself to “Manage the Weight” especially if I have a turbulent thought. Instead of jumping out of my flesh suit as soon as I am done with the lifting part, I stay with the thought. Manage the weight and stay focused until the exercise is complete.

Lifting weights and processing thoughts both have two parts. One process can inform the other. And one last thought, don’t lift too heavy a weight or a thought. Either one can make you strain your Klavey.

Did you laugh the day after?

There has never been a national disaster after which I laughed. I can’t conceive of a situation where a disaster could occur and I would wake up laughing. What kind of cruel animal would I have to be? What kind of sadistic madman could do such a thing? Oh no, Lordy no, say it ain’t so…not me, not me.

I laughed yesterday. It started off with a chuckle, grew to laugh and reached blossom in a guffaw. But not for the reason you might think. Shit just started to be funny again.

I love my late night hosts. They are my playlist. I’m too old to stay up past 9 to catch them live, but they wait for me on the YouTube at the break of day. Among all the other weird events of the past few years this one was unexpected. It was like an equation I had forgotten about. Joke + Human = laughter.

Try as I might to change the channel, to find some harbinger of doom that clung to the Zeitgeist like a dingleberry; they were gone, replaced with bunnies befriending squirrels.

By the time I was done, I realized I hadn’t laughed at a joke in a very long time.

Laughter, try it. Available now at CVS.

¿Cómo estás?

Remember high school Spanish? ¿Cómo estás? it stuck in your head like asking directions to the library. As a güero, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Fast forward. We lived in Colorado for a dozen years and my kids were brought up there. The next door neighbors moved away and a family from South America moved in. They were incredibly sweet people. They were gentle and generous. They invited us to share in their celebrations and you haven’t tasted mole until the abuela next door makes you hers. They were great neighbors and didn’t speak a lick of English. All I had was: ¿Cómo estás? I didn’t speak a lick of Spanish.

Fast forward – I was on a train ride from Maryland to West Virginia and sat down next to the most amazing dude. He was one of those humans who was radiant; he had this great vibe. Soon, we started a conversation only to discover that he was a prize fighter. He had gone toe to toe with the great Julio Cesar Chavez! As I recall the train ride was 3 hours long and I spent the entire ride listening to his story. I was totally and joyfully engaged. I wish I could tell you I remembered his name, but alas I don’t. I do remember that he didn’t speak a lick of English. You already know about my Spanish.

Fast forward. I lived in Santa Barbara for a couple of years with a friend who was a musician. He was a classically trained violinist and singer, but somehow found himself playing with a with an amazing quartet called: Luna Gitana. It was this strange fusion of Salsa, Jazz, Opera and Tango. Whenever they would meet, they would say: ¿Cómo estamos? which translates as “How are we?”

It stuck with me and I always say ¿Cómo estamos? . Think about it. “How are ya?” always solicits the response: “Fine, you?”, but asking “How are we?” is a much more important question, even if you don’t speak a lick of Spanish or a lick of English.