The room was spinning! I had been moving fast, trying to quickly clean up everything, fix and serve breakfast. I was holding a hot frying pan in my right hand and had just placed a bowl of eggs on the counter. I sat the pan on the burner and literally saw a dark tunnel forming before me. The lights were going out but it wasn’t the room, it was me! Weakness started crawling up from my feet and hands. Core shutdown eminent! My central nervous system managed to reach my higher brain functions before it was too late. “Sit down now!” The orders were clear and the tunnel approached with even greater speed. The legs went to work, folding like a card table, tucking themselves under each other in a “Criss-Cross Applesauce” mode. I was on the floor with hands on lap and staring bewildered at the fading ceiling lights.

My heart was racing as if driving with full throttle away from the approaching tunnel. Thankfully it did the trick. The shadows receded and the feeling of my head gained its full weight again. The cold floor pressed up against me, with a reassuring, “Stay put buddy.” My family passed by, unfazed. Of course dad would be sitting in the middle of the kitchen like he was in kindergarten. Nothing to see here… he just overdid it again.

True enough. I overdid it. I was on day 4 of having tested positive for COVID. It had been a painful few days with the typical flu-like muscle aches, headaches, sneezing, sore throat, coughing and feverish restlessness. But on Saturday, I woke up feeling so much better. I thought I was over it. Instead of enjoying the moment and gradually wading back in to the hustle and bustle of life, I decided to jump in to the deep end with full force. Time to tackle the day and get some things done! Oh, bother. Back to recovery mode.

I don’t know about you but I’m a terrible patient. I know things need time to mend. I just don’t want to wait for them. This weekend was a great lesson on patience. Push the recovery envelope to much and you will get an enforced time-out delivered post-haste!  Too many of you have told me about similar experiences of driving yourself too hard with too little rest and sleep. This is a knock-out recipe for disaster. I fully recognize I’m being a bad example here. I’ve lectured many of you to give yourself space to heal and here I am, sitting in the middle of my kitchen floor, eating crow.

Pace yourself. Listen to your body and those around you when they remind you that you should take it easy. Give yourself time to heal and recover. That doesn’t just apply to recovery from a sickness, that applies to all that we do and experience. We need hard work. But we also need good rest. Those seemingly opposing forces work together in a complementary and dynamic way to balance life. If one side is too heavy, our life will be out of balance. This weekend was a good reminder to me that I have a tendency to push things out of balance. I took a breath, laughed at myself and slowly restarted the day. I gently stood up and waded back in to the insatiable adventure of life.

How is your balance? Something off? Take time to align yourself and reach a healthy balance that will propel you forward.

Keep Exploring

“We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

I love Disneyland!  My girls and I just concluded a three day visit at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.  We stayed on property so we could enter the park early in the morning and enjoy the cool awakening of this magical place. Despite having fully memorized the layout over the past nearly 17 years, my girls still love to pick up a map. They are not alone. I saw many families around us walking down Main Street with their heads buried in a map including the digital version on their smartphones.  I love watching our guests, especially the little ones at the beginning of the day when they are full of anticipation and energy.  Their little arms struggle to stretch out the map in front of them as they bounce with excitement.  It’s contagious!  As they scan the map, their eyes tell a story of the wonders, adventures and discoveries that await them.  There is something powerful about exploring new possibilities, mysteries and experiences.  You can feel it too, can’t you?

We are curious creatures. It begins early as we try new things. Sights, sounds, smells, textures. They all fascinate us and pull us like a gravity to explore more. We ask, “What is this? How does it work? Why is it here? Is there more to this?”  We peer into the small, the quantum world, asking if it can be even smaller.  We gaze into the heavens and ask how far does it go and is it even bigger.  Our insatiable curiosity launches discovery, plunging to the depths of the sea and flying to the surface of other worlds.  Our eyes are hungry for discovery and our minds are thirsty for excursions. We map our menu of options and begin to explore. 

This past week, NASA’s Webb Space Telescope rocked the world with new discoveries of the universe that we have never seen before. Thousands of new galaxies, solar systems, exoplanets and star formations from 290 million light-years away were suddenly made available just inches from our eyes.  Each discovery reminds us that we are part of something even bigger.  It opens up a new map to explore.  Before us, the universe.  Where should we go next? What is this? How does it all work? Why is it here? Is there more to this?  And on we go.  We keep exploring because we are curious.  

What fascinates you? What are you exploring today? Stay curious!

Image Credits: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI

Fight for the Users!

“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy.” – Kevin Flynn

Greetings programs,

“LaserDisc… Prepare to be blown away!” The clerk at the local movie rental store handed us the LaserDisc player and movie and guaranteed that it would level up our home movie experience. My brother and I unpacked the dazzling new player and quickly connected the RCA cables, powered up the audio system and hit play. Seconds later it sprung to life with colorful geometric shapes flying across the screen, taking us on a journey into a virtual realm. The dazzling images on the screen were accompanied by room filling sounds the LaserDisc pumped into the audio system. The ethereal soundtrack by Wendy Carlos transported us into this magical world of the impossible. The characters in the movie were playing video games, but not like my sister and I would play at the local arcade, they were actually in the game, inside the computer! They were “programs”, walking around, pulling power from circuit board rivers of light, recording information on their identity disks, piloting vector based light-cycles, tanks, recognizers and solar sailing ships across the grid. And like any good hero story, they fought against the oppressive evil overlord. The Master Control Program sought to enslave the world of computer programs to do it’s evil bidding to ultimately take over the human world. They were fighting for the “Users”, the human creators of this digital realm. One of those creators, a programmer named Flynn, gets transported into this digital world to join in on the fight. Welcome to the world of TRON!

I was blown away! The clerk had been right. It had inspired me and introduced me into a new world. The world of programs, computers and computer graphics. I was suddenly obsessed with this new found passion. It became an imperative for me to learn everything I could about this computer world. I managed to talk my dad into getting me a Commodore 64 so I could learn to do all these things that I had seen on the screen. Soon, I was crafting my own programs, sprites, animations and audio waveforms. I even made my own space adventure game that I published in our middle school paper, as if anyone would ever type in all that code! I was hooked. Maker clubs, hacker homebrew meetups and bulletin board systems eventually led me to join the computer science and electrical engineering departments at the University of Tulsa. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to fight for the Users, making programs and systems that made the world a better place.

TRON was released to theaters 40 years ago this past weekend. While not a blockbuster for Disney by any means, the film was groundbreaking. As with so many of Disney films, it had inspired people just like me. It even paved the way for computer-generated imagery in animated films. John Lasseter has said that without TRON, there would have been no Toy Story.

We make magic. But that magic isn’t just the compelling storytelling, the visual effects, the powerful adventures or experiences we deliver. No, the real magic is what endures those moments and begins a ripple effect on lives. People become inspired to try new things. New passions awaken. New worlds unfold. The work we do makes an impact that transcends the bottom line and propels us into the future as a species. We inform. We inspire. We improve our human experience, one story at a time.

Are you ready? It’s time to go play the game. Let’s go fight for the Users!

End of Line

Don’t Worry, Take Action

Rain was gently falling.  Lightning arced across the dark sky.  The brilliant flash reflected off of the wet black pavement and the shiny airplane parked at the gate.  A groan erupted from the collection of stranded passengers standing at the gate.  The answering thunder seemed to punctuate their frustration and a new downpour begin to ensue.  Security radios squawked to life around the room, “Lightning detected within 3-mile radius, evacuate ramps.” Hushed complaints and grumbles from the passengers were silenced as the flight crew announced the inevitable delay.  We were supposed to depart from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) airport at 4:30pm and now it was 9pm.  We had spent an incredible two days with our SRE team supporting National Geographic.  They had introduced us to the collection of applications and systems that power NatGeo’s mission to deliver great content and experiences that inspire people across the world to appreciate, care for and explore our incredible planet.  At the moment, we were appreciating how unpredictable this planet of ours can be and how it doesn’t play by airline schedules.  Our flight to the Orlando Airport (MCO) was about to be cancelled.

What do you do when your plans fall apart?  As I stared out into the dark, rainy and surprisingly peaceful night, I heard chatter of anxiety, anger, frustration, and confusion all around me.  I felt some of that myself.  As the next lightning strike lit up the clouds, I was reminded that my worry would not change the weather.  When our plans are thwarted or problems arrive at our door, what do we do?  Do we worry?  I confess, I come from a long line of worriers. Instinct seems to coach you to wring your hands, pace and fret.  But none of that helps.  Many years ago I had a realization that life is a series of circumstances we find ourselves in. Our plans are programs we write to move us from one situation to the next, one state to the next.  When those plans involve external dependencies, like the airline or the weather, we can find our plans thwarted.  When that occurs, instead of activating the no-op infinite worry loop, reprogram.  I have learned to assess the situation and ask myself what are the controllable actions we can take to address the situation?  We can’t control the weather or other dependencies, but we can control how we respond to a new unknown state and our next steps.  

When life throws you for a loop, break out.  Don’t stay in the trap.  You can’t control everything, nor should you try, but you can control your next move.  What moves are available to you? Get creative and enumerate all the possible next steps. Now, take action.  Success or failure?  Assess your current state and take another action. There is incredible peace and clarity in knowing what you can do or can’t do, even if your original plans are spoiled. Use the flow of circumstances around you to power, inform and navigate your journey to the next moment.  Then to the next.  

Our original plans to Orlando were unwinding.  Our next actions were to explore all alternative ways to travel to Orlando.  We reserved seats on a flight the following day and made a hotel reservation for the night just in case our flight was cancelled.  Beyond that, our next action was to wait, enjoy the falling rain and relax until the verdict came back.  Changes would be required, but we would adapt and move forward.

“Don’t worry, take action.”  I’ve learned to coach myself on that advice over the years.  It reduces stress, adds clarity and avoids the fretful worry loop.  Are you worried or stressed?  Press pause and assess your circumstances. What is controllable and what actions can you take?  Avoid fretting over the uncontrollable and embrace the next step.  Appreciate the clarity that it brings and don’t forget to enjoy the peaceful rain and moments that those unplanned events can bring your way.   

Nobody’s Perfect

“Nobody’s perfect, Dad!” My highly engaged and enthusiastic 8 year old daughter, with hands on her hips, would look right in my face and remind me of that.  She was poised and ready to recite Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana’s song, “Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.” We had been in the midst of cleaning and picking up the house and I had provided some, at least in my mind, important feedback on what was lacking in our effort. I fully admit that my obsession with the details and doing things well often spills over reasonable limits. My kids have been exceedingly helpful in providing feedback in this area. I can’t help but be reminded of my own experience with my dad too. Ever the engineer, he was passionate about “planning ahead” and “giving attention to detail.” It would often be punctuated with commentary and head shaking analysis of the work done by my sister and I. He had great intentions but there were times where it landed poorly. I do credit him with inspiring me to work hard and pursue perfection.

I have been incredibly blessed to have had two dads. My bonus dad, my step-father entered my life when I was 12 years old. He was the polar opposite. He definitely modeled working hard but he placed a high value on people, empathy and mercy. He would echo my youngest daughter’s reminder that everyone needs some grace and consideration.  We are all guilty of miss steps, mistakes and mess-ups. He would remind us how people are the most important thing and we need to live, love and laugh.  As we approach Father’s Day in the US this coming weekend, I am reminded of how incredible both of these men were in my life and how they helped shape who I am today. They taught me a lot, and I miss them both.

Speaking about people and perfection, I learned that I’m people too and I’m not perfect. I know, shocking!  It’s true. It took me a while to come to terms with that. We often set ambitious goals for ourselves or others, but we also need to remember that it is okay to miss the mark too. We are human after all. We will fail, slip and we will fall. The important part is what we do when that occurs. Do we acknowledge it, learn from it and pick ourselves back up, or do we lean into that disappointment and onboard guilt to punish ourselves? Guilt is a very poor fuel for motivation and improvement. It takes more than it gives. It erodes confidence and calcifies failure into a debilitating burden.

I love how we talk about science and professions as “practices”.  It is a powerful reminder that our performance is incremental.  We habitually and regularly keep trying, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing, but forever learning and improving. Living is a practice too! We keep trying. Mistakes occur, but we apply our learning and steadily nudge ourselves closer to the event horizon of proficiency.

Now, if you, like me, have suffered the crushing blow of self-inflicted guilt, it’s time to lose that ailment. Give yourself a dose of mercy. Put some confidence in your fuel tank and drive.  The road ahead is full of practice, potholes and possibilities! Keep driving. Keep learning. And if you slip or falter, remind yourself, as my youngest daughter would say, “Nobody’s perfect!”

Positive Signals

When the small satellite TV dishes first started to come out, my dad decided he needed one.  Forever a can-do and frugal engineer, he signed up for the “self-installation” package.  Naturally, that translated to me being on the roof with a bag of bolts, parts and instruction manuals. The kit included a magnetic compass and directions to mount and orient the dish toward the geosynchronous satellite.  A cable ran from the dish into the house to a receiver hooked to the television.  The setup screen displayed the signal strength with an audio signal that went from a low static hum to a solid high-pitched tone when the dish was correctly oriented.  Getting the dish oriented correctly before cell phones was an all day long comedy skit with my dad monitoring the TV yelling out the status to my sister in the yard who was yelling up to me on the roof.  I made slight adjustments left and right then up and down.  There were so many blips, so many signals out there in space.  A solid tone would sing out and we thought we had it.  But no channels were coming through.  It was the wrong satellite.  On to the next. There were so many signals! A few hours later, hunting the vast spans of the evening sky and we finally had the right signal and magic started happening.  The channels finally appeared.

Did you know that humans tune in to signals too?  All around us are broadcasts bombarding us for our attention.  We are awash in notifications, news, texts, alerts, advertisements, emails, words, wishes, sounds, tweets, smells, ideas, campaigns, beliefs, hurts and joys.  It can feel like noise at times, so we hunt for the strongest signal.  What you may not know is that we are hardwired to find certain types of signals.  That’s right, like a satellite receiver dish, our attention is drawn toward certain types of signals.  Psychologist have ample empirical evidence that we are drawn to negative signals.*  The bias to tune in to and amplify negative  information far outweighs our search for positive information.  “Give me the bad news first,” is actually quite true of us.  It turns out that this negative bias starts early and is likely a critical adaptive function for survival for our human family throughout the years.  Unfortunately, it can have a profound implication on our emotional and mental health.  But it is not inevitable.  We have the capacity to choose what we tune in and what we amplify.

Where is your dish pointing?  Is your signal diet overly focused on negative information?  What do you amplify to yourself and others?  We can be deliberate about the signals we consume and rebroadcast.  Review the channel lineup that feeds into your life.  What would you add or remove to make sure the positive signals are coming through?  We need positive amplifiers to counter our negative bias. There is great news, fascinating and inspiring ideas, joy filled hope and emotionally rewarding signals all out there waiting for us. Tune in. Focus and amplify those things that are good, true, positive and encouraging.



Is it just me or does it seem like things have a tendency to break on the weekend when the parts and service repair companies are closed? This past weekend, as temperatures outside nudged up above 100°F, a strange electrical odor started filling the house. By evening, it was starting to get warm inside.  I did a quick check of the air conditioning system.  The condenser unit outside was running, but the inside blower was not working.  Oh great!  Why is the blower not working?  Turning “fan only” mode on didn’t fix it.  I did some quick investigation on our system and discovered we have a ECM blower motor.  ECM ,which stands for electronically commutated motor, means that it is a microprocessor controlled motor that is designed to optimize efficiency. It is very cool!  I have to admit, by this point I was distracted by the tech and not focused on the restoration of service.  With the warming room and questions from the rest of my family, I was reminded to go back into incident management mode and focus on addressing the outage.

I took apart the unit and began testing the control circuit and all the voltages.  The main 110V feed was going to the motor. The ECM 24V control lines that program the motor speed were also good.  The air handler control system seemed solid, so that meant it had to be the motor itself, and very likely the microcontroller that runs the motor. Of course, some quick online searches revealed that this wasn’t going to be an easy replacement with our current supply chain issues and chip shortages. I reached out to several service companies and received several, “We will get back with you on Monday” responses.

Now the funny part of the recent adventure is that we just had the entire system inspected and serviced earlier this year.  We didn’t want to end up in the heat of the summer and unable to find service or parts to fix any issues. Yet, here we are. This is a great, if not warm, reminder that failures will occur despite all our efforts.  

Things fail.  Reliability engineering teaches us that it is not “if”, but “when”.  Because we know things will fail, we design systems and processes to mitigate those failures, restoring service as fast as possible.  Done well, failures are addressed quickly, and sometimes even automatically, helping us continue to meet our service level objectives for the particular system.  With complex systems, it can be challenging to plan for all the failure modes that can occur.  How do you know what can fail?  One way to achieve this is by probing the weakness and safety boundaries of a system through Chaos Engineering.

We often laugh that we don’t need Chaos Engineering because the apps we run inject their own chaos!  But, Chaos Engineering is not about testing known broken parts of the system. If we already know something is broken (like a motor or an app), we should prioritize and fix it. Chaos Engineering is about discovering otherwise unknown weaknesses and limits of a working system. By introducing various degrees of planned failures (chaos) into our system, we learn new ways our service levels (SLOs) can be impacted. This gives us the opportunity to learn more about the system and improve it for faster recovery when it does fail.

Learning is key.  Failures, chaos engineering and experimentation are all teachers who can impart wisdom to all who seek their advice.  And as I just experienced this past weekend, life is full of lessons.  The only true failure is the failure to learn.  We are surrounded by a laboratory of learning that can instruct us and make us better.  Let’s make sure we maximize the opportunities that come our way and implement improvements that make the systems we run, better.  Oh, and depending on your heat tolerance level, you may want to stock a spare EMC blower motor on the shelf. 

Who Is Your Favorite?

“Please Ms. Smith, tell us, who is your favorite?”  A group of kids crowded the teacher’s desk, each with eager, pleading faces. 

“Is it Emma?” asked Mason, resting his arm on the desk with his hands under his chin. 

“I bet it is Isabella,” Mai said, “or Aiden.”  

Jamal chimed in, “No, it has to be Diego, she always calls on Diego.” 

Lily had a mischievous smile, “I think we all know who it isn’t.” The kids giggled and some glanced to the back of the room to see Alexander hunched over his desk with his arms folded. Alexander glared back at them with a snort.  His wild uncombed hair and scowling face seemed to ignite with anger.  The group crowded Ms. Smith even more and started to laugh.  

Alexander was a troublemaker.  He had a standing reservation in the timeout corner and would stir terror in anyone who even looked at him. “That’s enough of that,” Ms. Smith said sternly, “I told you, no favorites. Now, get back to your seats.”  

“But, please, Ms. Smith, tell us!!” the kids sang in a non-stop chorus.

“All right, all right, I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m not going to tell you now, but if you will all quietly go back to your seats, I will show you tomorrow.”  With a flurry of soft “oohs” and squeals, the children all excitedly scrambled back to their seats to finish their lesson for the day.

The next morning came and there was great anticipation in the room.  Ms. Smith arrived with a box.  She placed it carefully on a chair in the front of the room. “Okay class, I told you I would show you who my favorite is. I have put the answer in this box. I am going to allow all of you to come up and take a look, one by one. But you must keep it a secret. This person is extremely important to me. They are worth more than all the money in the world.  They are full of incredible potential and can do anything that they set their mind to do. I know that with their unique talents, they will even be able to change the world.”

“Mason, let’s start with you.  Please come take a look,” Ms. Smith said.  Mason nearly leaped out of his seat and then suddenly blushed, realizing the whole class was watching for his reaction.  Several kids giggled.  He couldn’t wait to see the answer.  When he looked in the box his mouth dropped opened and a huge grin exploded across his face. He laughed and smiled at Ms. Smith and nearly danced back to his seat.  Jamal was next and he too was stunned and then delighted when he looked into the box. A huge smile and arms waving wildly accompanied him back to his seat as if to celebrate being in on the secret.  Next, Lily paraded up to the front and like those before her, she grinned and giggle and put her hands over her mouth in surprise. Then came Isabella, Aiden, Mai, Emma, and Diego.  One by one, every child in the class came to the front to see inside the box, each returning to their seats delighted, excited and giddy as if they had all received a secret prize.  

A hush came over the class.  It was Alexander’s turn.  They all stared at him.  His bitter face and folded arms seemed to suggest he wouldn’t be participating.  But to everyone’s surprise he stood up.  Gasps were heard as he slowly marched up to the front, still with arms folded and an enormous frown.  Then, he looked down into the box.  

Stunned!  His frown split and his mouth opened up wide. Peering down into the black box he saw two wide dark brown eyes staring back at him. He gazed into those eyes, unbelieving for a minute before realizing what the teacher had done.  It was a mirror!  A chuckle formed in his throat and he looked up at the teacher who was beaming a full face smile back at him.  She nodded as if to say, Yes, it is you, Alexander!  The chuckle turned to a lump in his throat.  He turned to see the class, all eyes beaming back at him with smiles of joy and acceptance as if they had all joined a secret club.  For the first time in a long time, Alexander felt included.  In that moment, he belonged. He smiled back at them.  

“Clap, clap, clap,” a round of cheering and applause began to fill the little classroom.  Alexander couldn’t take it any longer.  Big tears welled up in his eyes and started streaming down his dirty face.  He tried to hide them at first and even batted them away but they kept coming.  He sheepishly grinned and looked up at Ms. Smith.

“Class, now you know,” Ms. Smith said smiling, dabbing away at the tears in her own eyes too, “You are all important.  You are all worth more than all the money in the world.  Each one of you is unique and full of possibility. Your future is limited only by what you saw in the box. That’s right, YOU! Give yourself permission to unlock your potential, and go change the world!”


Early on Saturday morning I make my way down to our kitchen. I fire up the coffee pot and begin dealing pans out across the stove.  I pull out the breakfast ingredients and start dicing, chopping and cooking. The clanging of the cookware and breakfast making can be heard throughout the house.  Soon the odor of the simmering morning meal will fill our home.  

I hear some rustling.  The sleepy home begins to wake.  For the past several years, the first to the table would be my mother-in-law.  She came to watch the show, but more importantly, she came to get some goodies.  I always prepared some peanut butter toast and fruit for her, mainly to help curb the “Is it ready yet?” endless loop.  However that never deterred her back-seat-cooking instructions that I would receive.  She loved food and loved cooking.  When she was no longer able to manage the task herself, she would live vicariously through others, including me.  As I cooked, she would dream into the past and tell me stories.  She would relay wisdom from her many years and reflect on current events. We discussed the changing seasons, family, vocations, life and of course, the menu.  She is gone now, but I will forever laugh about and cherish those moments. 

My mom was a teacher.  She taught 3rd grade most of her career, which meant that like it or not, I got really good at addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, reading comprehension, writing, social studies, the scientific method, maps and graphs.  My mom believed that the third grade curriculum built a wide foundation for the rest of your education.  Most kids left their teacher at school, but not me.  I got to be public schooled and home schooled at the same time. To be fair, I needed it.  I would much rather be goofing off, building tree houses, riding bikes and catching tadpoles in the local stream than studying some book, diagraming sentences or doing my math assignment.  In hindsight, it was an incredible blessing to have a teacher for a mom.  But she wasn’t just a teacher.  She was an encourager.  “You can be anything you want to be, I’m incredibly proud of you.”  Words like that are fuel for life.  She gave me confidence to try and courage to fail.  She was my champion and my defender as well as my teacher and my mom.

Good mothers shape the future.  They make an incredible impact on our lives.  It may not even be our biological parent that has the biggest impact. Many of us were adopted by other moms.  I recall so many who spoke into my life with some encouragement, kindness and yes, even some discipline, that all helped shape who I am today.  We are all the sum of the many investments made in us by others.  I’m sure many of you have similar stories.  This coming Sunday, as we arrive at another Mother’s Day in the US, take this opportunity to reflect on those investments our moms have made in us and be thankful.

To all you moms out there, you make a difference!  Thank you, mom!

Time to Paddle

“Everything changes and nothing stands still.” – Heraclitus

When I was a teenager, my family would often drive up to the northeast corner of Oklahoma to go canoeing.  It was always early in the morning when the dew was thick on the leaves.  The cool crisp air would be slowly warming to the rising sun.  We would grab our paddles and slide our boat into the river.  I should probably put quotes around “river” as there were times during the hot and dry springs that these were more like tiny creeks or streams.  In any case, you never knew what you would find.  Parts of the journey would be peaceful, quiet and serene. The water would become still like a mirror.  You could hear your own breathing and the birds chirping in the distance.  There was very little effort needed to keep going forward.  You could sit back and rest, soaking in the quiet peacefulness as the canoe glided by itself through the smooth silvery surface of the deep.  

Then it would happen.  A distant roar would begin to break the silence.  “Rapids ahead!” someone would yell to wake up the crew.  The growing growl soon was accompanied by the sound of churning and splashing water.  The noise became real. The white mist and foam of the rapids was upon us. My heart began to beat faster as the speed of the canoe accelerated toward the sound.  Scrape!  The shallowing speeding water suddenly exposed rocks and gravel that grabbed at the bottom of the canoe.  It would veer to the left, then to the right as it collided with the relentless currents and moss covered rocks.  “Paddle!”  Adrenaline was high as we paddled to steer clear of the obstacles that would quickly flip or split the canoe.  About the time we navigated the last biggest challenge we would round the bend to see a fallen tree blocking our passage.  What do you do?!  Around it, over it or under it?   Most of the time we managed to go around it with vigorous paddling, but there was a time or two where we decided to see how much of the river we could fit in the canoe to ride with us.  In any case, it would soon be over.  Down the stream we would go.  Soon the sound of the rapids would begin to fade behind us as the river smoothed out again.  Breathe.  Relax.  We made it!   

Change is the current of life.  We never know what we will encounter.  There will be unexpected events.  Moments of bliss and joy will land on us like dew.  At other times, the noise of the rapids will demand our fast action.  We will encounter obstacles, scrapes, opportunities, turns and bends that may even tip us over at times. Don’t fear, we can do this!  Grab your oar and begin to navigate the stream.  The future is just up ahead!  Let’s make it what we want it to be.  Keep moving forward!  It’s time to paddle.