February 19, 2015

Let This Be The Day

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.  -The Dalai Lama

February 20th 2015: The day when 1000 voices are coming together to speak words of compassion into a world that desperately needs to hear them. I'm excited to be among those voices.

Webster defines compassion as: "Sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Literally compassion means to "suffer together."

True compassion means not only feeling another's pain but also being moved to help relieve it.
-Daniel Goleman 

Mankind has and is making unequaled progress on so many fronts. People are more connected globally than we've ever been before. Communication is instant and we no longer need to wonder about anything as Google is only a tap away. Many of these advancements have contributed greatly to the quality of life we enjoy. I wonder if they're also contributing to the decline of compassion.

We're confronted almost constantly with suffering via news stations, social media sites and printed news. Is this barrage of pain serving not only to inform us but also to dull our senses and heighten our tolerance to it?

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 
If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 
-The Dalai Lama

How can we remain caring and have a desire to help alleviate the suffering of others when the sheer magnitude of distress exceeds our ability to completely comprehend it? How can we "save the world?" There's just too much to do and we, with all of our time saving creations, seem to have less time today than ever. Isn't it easier just to block it out - refuse to acknowledge the suffering in hopes that it will either take care of itself or someone else will take care of it? Isn't that why we pay taxes? So something will be done? These are all good questions, with no satisfactory answers.

Let us fill our hearts with our own compassion - towards ourselves and towards all living beings. 
-Thich Nhat Hanh

It is easy to become overwhelmed. It's even easier to pretend that suffering isn't real or is self imposed by the poor choices that others make. Sometimes that is the case after all. People do from time to time land on hard times through circumstances they helped to create. Don't we all?

Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men. 
- Confucius 

When we're suffering ourselves, isn't the one thing we want from others compassion? Don't we want to be understood, heard, and directed? Compassion is an easy concept to understand when we're on the needing end of it. Its power to heal is completely evident then.

So, what can we do? Where do we even start with the overwhelming task at hand?


None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. We can start in our homes to be more present and aware of the needs of those we love with a heart open to responding. We can carry it from there into our relationships with our friends and colleagues. We offer compassion to complete strangers as we encounter them on the roadways - heaven knows that compassion could make our commutes  much less stressful.

We can seek first to understand, then to be understood. We can offer support to a grieving friend - take them a meal, offer to listen and just be with them.


Compassion begins with awareness coupled with concern. It doesn't need to be some huge feat. It's often the small acts of tender kindness that mean the most to others. Just letting them know that they're not invisible and someone is aware of the burden they carry can do so much.

We can begin to make eye contact with those on the streets who are homeless. Show them that we recognize their inherent worth - even if we can't offer financial aid at that moment. We can afford a smile and a hello no matter how down on our luck we may be.

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. 
 - Nelson Mandela

As transforming as a compassionate act can be for the one who receives it, it is even more transforming for the person offering it. It is impossible to serve another without our own hearts being lifted. We forget - even for just that moment - our own concerns. Our spirits are renewed. 

The joy compassionate service brings is something we want to feel again and again. It reminds of us of something deep inside ourselves that has always been there even when unused. It connects our hearts to others making us feel less isolated and alone. 

The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.
- Norman Cousins

Let this day, February 20, 2015, be the day when we  recommit to our humanity. Let it be a defining moment when we open our eyes and see again. Let's find a way to lift a burden, share a sorrow, offer a helping hand.

Let's remember that we're all more alike than we will ever be different, that our human needs are the same. Let this be the day that your heart begins taking its daily recommended dose of joy born of compassionate concern for another. Let me offer you just this one warning:


February 15, 2015

A Tale Of TRUE Love


The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. - Audry Hepburn 

My most recent post If Love Is The Answer, What Is The Question, yielded some enlightening comments. It made me realize that as fun as it was to research and write, that perhaps I'd treated the weighty subject too lightly considering the impact it has on our lives.

One visitor to my sight left this comment: "...people these days are in love with the idea of being in love...plus on-screen Ala Hollywood romance makes them feel compelled to be with someone."

In another recent communication, a friend, describing the failing of a brief marriage, shared that "both people were in love with the same person."  

While pondering these comments, I was blessed to read another blog post. This one stripped the makeup, tore off the filtered lenses and exposed love for what it really is.

The post was written by Heather Choate. Heather is a young mother and an extremely talented writer. Her life recently took an unexpected turn when she received the wonderful news that she was pregnant. Not long after, she also learned that she had breast cancer.

What followed both of these events is a story that everyone could learn from. It's about love. It's about sacrifice. It's about courage, hard choices, friendship, and real life. It's an honest to goodness TRUE love story. It shows love at it's most vulnerable moments and in it's most beautiful expressions. You will never find love portrayed - at any ticket price - like you will by following Heather's journey and I encourage you to see for yourself here.

It was also pointed out (thank you!) that I forgot to include the most accurate definition of love that's ever been given to a world so desperate to know and understand it.
It's from Corinthians 13:7-8:

 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

It's February. It's cold. It's the month of love. Treat yourself and someone you care about to a story that will melt the winter ice and once and for all, answer the question: 

people these days are in love with the idea of being in love and those Facebook updates do no good for them either, plus on-screen a la Hollywood romances make them feel compelled to be involved with someone. - See more at: http://blog.lifeisntbroken.com/2015/02/if-love-is-answer-what-is-question.html#comment-form
people these days are in love with the idea of being in love and those Facebook updates do no good for them either, plus on-screen a la Hollywood romances make them feel compelled to be involved with someone. - See more at: http://blog.lifeisntbroken.com/2015/02/if-love-is-answer-what-is-question.html#comment-form
people these days are in love with the idea of being in love and those Facebook updates do no good for them either, plus on-screen a la Hollywood romances make them feel compelled to be involved with someone. - See more at: http://blog.lifeisntbroken.com/2015/02/if-love-is-answer-what-is-question.html#comment-form

February 13, 2015

If Love Is The Answer, What Is The Question

Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. - Franklin P. Jones

It's February - the longest short month of the year. Winter has already gone on way too long but Spring is still a ways off, (so says the groundhog). The holidays are behind us and the credit card shock has settled in. There's there's nothing left now to celebrate - except L-O-V-E. 

In searching out information about St. Valentine for whom Valentine's Day is named, I found so many conflicting stories that it's difficult to know who he really was and which stories (if any) are true. 

Add to that reports that there was more than just one St. Valentine and how can anyone say for sure.

One account is that St. Valentine married young couples against an edict forbidding it. It was believed that men were better soldiers if they weren't married since they weren't afraid to die for fear of leaving loved ones.

Another telling has him continuing to preach of Christ against Roman law, landing him in prison, where he carried on his proselyting. A judge became aware of his teaching and tested him with a challenge to heal his adopted daughter's blindness. When he successfully restored her sight the judge was converted along with a number of others and released the Christian prisoners under his control.

Both stories tell of his martyrdom. He was allegedly stoned and beaten, and, when neither of those attempts succeeded in killing him, he was finally beheaded. I guess then you could say if the stories are to be believed, St. Valentine literally "lost his head"  in love - either by helping young couples in love or his own love for Christ. He may have been the first, but he surely wasn't the last who've "lost their head" in love.

Fast forward a few hundred years and the "St." has been removed and the holiday has become known as simply "Valentines" Day.
Our modern version of Valentines Day is, to me, the silliest of all the silly holidays. (No offense, Punxsutawney Phil.)

I'm not a Valentine hater. It's just silly to me to celebrate love on a day instead of every day - but hey - we're just people and people tend to need reminders of things like this. Even if that weren't the case, greeting card companies need to keep the revenues flowing so here we are. (Heaven knows we'd forget our own mothers without greeting card companies!)
So, what's it all about Alfie? If love is the answer - what IS the question? What is this mystical thing that makes us do things that we'd never dreamed we'd do? How is it that seemingly logical people can become totally discombobulated and act like complete imbeciles? Love seems to have different meanings to different people so I set out to see what some of those meanings might be. I thought you might enjoy knowing as well.

Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I like this take on love. If love could begin and ever remain on these terms, there would be a lot less heartache in the world. 

 Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up. - James Baldwin
If love is about growing up, why does it make us sometimes behave so childishly?

 There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness. – Nietzsche. 

Now we're talking. Madness in love is something I can relate to. I'll need to work on the reason in madness aspect. 

Love always brings difficulties, that is true, but the good side of it is that it gives energy.
Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh nailed it! Who has been in love who hasn't experienced that renewed sense of energy? Being "in love" feels like mania on steroids. It can make our nights sleepless and turn mere moments of separation into seemingly endless hours with just a sprinkle of its sparkle dust. Those early days of twitterpation cause complete upheaval and an all consuming drive to see, hear from, and spend time with the object of our affection. I for one hate it! I like to believe I have at least some control over myself (as misplaced as that may be) and "in love" is control gone fishin'.
There are those (probably many) who would disagree. 

 I love that feeling of being in love, the effect of having butterflies when you wake up in the morning. That is special. - Jennifer Aniston

I prefer my love sane and without fluttering insects thank you. That race of hormones on crack has a shelf life and can't continue long term. It's exhausting. Besides, all forward motion would cease if we were doomed to wander bleary eyed and dopey in love's stupor for very long.

Often, as love settles into something sustainable, many believe that the passing of the rush also signals the death of "love" and are heard to say  "I've fallen out of love." 
Many a heart has been broken owing to the leveling out of hormones. What a waste and how sad for those who live in the continual pursuit of that high. They believe they can't find love when what they're really chasing is a refill of a potent hormonal cocktail. 

Love is the most constructive and destructive force in the universe. Constructive when it causes us to be genuine, open, honest, and loyal toward others. Its ugly twin sisters, jealousy and obsession, can cause trouble in a hurry.

 Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretense of keeping it alive. - Havelock Ellis

The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves. - William Penn

To be the object of someone's obsession is horrible.

Tippi Hedren

Enough said about that! 

I've both found love and lost love. I've nearly been destroyed by love and also healed and renewed by love, As painful an experience as loving can be, I can't imagine a life without loving. 

So, to that end I'd like to share my favorite poem on the topic. It's by a Persian Poet who wrote under the name Hafiz.

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

'You owe

What happens
With a love like that.
It lights the



February 4, 2015

Life Under Construction

The road to success is always under construction.
-Attributed to so many that no one is getting credit :) 

Being from the Midwest, there's a running joke that all Midwesterner's understand well. It is that despite what many believe we really only have 2 seasons - winter and construction. It's a truth that the road crews are out repairing the or replacing worn out pavement for 3/4 of the year!

I don't need to explain to anyone the joys of traveling during "construction" season. It may take 2 hours or 5 hours to get to Chicago from where I live depending on:

1. How many road crews are out.

2. How much notice we're given before the number of lanes is reduced.

3. How nicely people are playing "merge." 

4. Who's decided to check Twitter, Email, or Facebook, thus rear ending the person in front of them.

5. How many people behind those two were also checking social media sites. 

6. How long it takes the tow trucks to move all of those vehicles off the road.

7. How fascinating watching the tow truck move those vehicles seems to those passing by.

All in all getting from point A to point B can be a frustrating experience, and yet we still get into our cars, go onto the roadways, and roll the dice. It makes me wonder: Are we all just nuts or is where we're going really worth the trouble?

The construction story above isn't just "a tale of terrible traffic." It's a metaphor for our lives. No matter where our journey is headed, we can be sure of just as many unpredictable circumstances along the way. For as long as we're alive we can count on pot holes, detours, and constant construction and reconstruction - and I believe that's all as it should be.

I am a new convert to the the idea that life unfolds as it should and not as we have planned. I believe that it's not in the moments of everything being "hunkie dorie" where we do our best "living." It's the moments when the floor has just dropped from beneath us and we find ourselves in a terrifying free fall.

Those unwanted and unexpected moments draw out the best and worst of us. They reach deep inside us - past all that's rehearsed, scripted, and polished and right into the rawness of who we are. With relentless claws, change and adversity drags our inner selves out into the bright light of day - where maybe for the first time, we have to face what's there.

Once our souls are laid bare in the scorching heat, we have choices to make. We will either sink or swim. It's from our sheer determination or our refusal to take up the fight that our future will begin to unfold.

I've done both. I've sunk. Boy have I sunk - till my feet could feel the warm softness of the murky bottom that waited to draw me peacefully to my end. 

I've swam. I've fought the brave fight. I've fought the cowards fight. I've fought until I've become so exhausted that I couldn't  even remember how the battle began but kept fighting from the sheer momentum of the struggle - often to learn that whatever it was, wasn't worth fighting for. 

My point is this: each time life has thrown me into a "construction zone," regardless of how I rose or sank to the challenge, my life expanded as a result. 

Through the construction zones I've grown. Whether by force, self reflection or just sheer necessity, I have grown. I'd go as far as to say that I would never have grown as much or as quickly by any other means than to have had it thrust upon me by circumstances outside my control.

I'm no martyr. I'm not a particularly great sufferer so to think I'd purposely subject myself willingly to discomfort - even for the sake of growth is a stretch. For that reason I'm grateful for forces outside myself that know what I need to learn and how to make sure I get educated.

Just as the winter brings the end of the construction season with the accompanying smooth pavement, so does life's construction seasons come to a temporary end. The trick is learning to accept its "temporary" nature. It's when we allow ourselves to believe that the tearing apart and rebuilding is finished that we can be blindsided when it starts up again.

Instead, let's take the off seasons to contemplate how we did at navigating the detours. Where did we succeed brilliantly? Where did we end up in the ditch or on the backside of a tow truck? How well did we play "merge?" What did we learn about our strengths? Our weaknesses? Were we paying attention or had we checked out momentarily? Are we the ones who stopped to stare at the those off the road or did we stay focused and moving forward? (Both have been true for me.)

So yes, it could be that we are all nuts because we continue to throw the dice and get back onto the roadways of our lives, but I prefer to believe that where we're going makes the getting there very worthwhile.

In life, we have two seasons. Are you ready?

February 1, 2015

SPARKS: Moments Of Creation Vol. 10

The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.
Arnold J. Toynbee

If you're new to the monthly SPARKS series let me fill in the gaps. How dreams are born and the journey that brings those dreams to life has long been a fascination of mine. I decided I can't be the only one who's curious about this so I began interviewing dreamers to see what I could learn. Their dreams vary widely but their advice is universal.  You can see where it all started here.

I'm especially excited about this month's interviewee because I've known this man all of his life - and I literally mean all of his life. I'm his mother. I guess you might imagine then that this was an easy interview to get. Don't be silly! I'm his mother. It's taken 8 months!

Now that we've gotten all the disclaimers out of the way let me ask you a question. How would you like to get paid for hanging out with your friends and doing stuff you love? Is that even possible? Let me introduce you to someone who's made it a reality at his company:


The first time I visited Rivetal, the graphic design business that Derek co-owns with his friend Jason Heppler, I felt like I'd been swept off to Neverland. It seemed more like every young boy's Nirvana than a place of business.

As we walked through the door the first person we came across was a youngish man staring at a spiraling swirl of color on his computer monitor. He dazedly said "Look what I made!" Admittedly, it was pretty cool and if I'd gazed at it any longer, no doubt I would have fallen under the same Kaa like spell that had overtaken him.

From there, the tour moved to the "conference" room which was completely decked out with a wall to wall sofa, a television and multiple gaming devices. 

The lunch room was the next surprise complete with pin-ball machines, arcade games, and a refrigerator that was covered with drawings of skulls?! (Huh?)

Each of the individual offices had display cases showcasing their occupants' favorite toy collection. It was immediately clear that individuality was boldly celebrated at Rivetal.

At the end of the tour, I asked Derek if he would hire me to be Wendy so I could read stories to all the lost boys at nap time. (Still waiting to hear back on my application.)

That any work happens there seemed remarkable to me. But it does. The even  more remarkable thing is the work is exceptional! 

I'm intrigued by companies that manage to be successful and also create a culture where  people actually want to come to work. I was anxious to ask Derek some questions about that, along with how he came to be living his own dream. Here's what he had to say:

 When did you know that you wanted to go into graphic design? What inspired you?

I found out that I wanted to be a graphic designer while on a church service mission. Prior to leaving, my plan was to come home and major in computer science or medicine. About half way through my 2 year mission, I was asked to serve as the mission secretary. Among other duties, this basically made me the mission graphic designer. I'd never even heard of graphic design but I really liked the job. Later, I found out that careers in graphic design were a real thing and decided that's what I'd like to do. 

The scariest part about that decision was declaring myself an art major, especially considering that I didn't really draw, paint, sculpt or anything else you'd expect an art major to do. I muddled through the fine art stuff and fortunately turned out to be pretty good at design.

Over the next few years I discovered that what I really love is multimedia... the combination of visual, motion and sound design to create unique and immersive user experiences. Every job I've worked since college has been in this field and it's what my company, Rivetal, specializes in today.

How did you know you were ready to break out on your own instead of working for someone?

It was a combination of things. Some of it was a bit materialistic to be honest. I realized after a couple years that a graphic design salary wasn't going to get me the kind of lifestyle I wanted. The other realization came as I was working in the marketing department of a university. I was at the bottom of a really large totem pole and the only way up was to shelve graphic design and become an administrator. A harsh realization when you're only a few years into a career you worked pretty hard to achieve.

I just knew that I wanted to do something a bit more significant, both from a fulfillment and financial standpoint. I was really close to going to law school if you can believe that. Then I got a call from some friends I'd worked with at a past job. The company we'd worked for together went under and they decided to go into business for themselves. They offered me a job and a chance to earn some equity in the company. 11 years later I'm one of two equal partners of a company that I absolutely love. Financially it's had its ups and downs but it has always been incredibly fulfilling.

Your company is a unique place to work for a variety of reasons. How does bringing play to work make it a better environment for creativity and also for worker satisfaction?

I wish I could say that bringing play to work was a conscious strategy on our part. It really came down to the fact that we were young, didn't know a thing about running a business, and liked messing around at the office. We have hired people who feel the same way over the years so that love for video games and movies and gadgets has just sort of been institutionalized. My partner, Jason, is an avid collector of 80's toys and arcade machines so we have lots of both around the office.

We have bizarre contests from time to time. Once there was a competition to see who could draw the coolest looking skull. 

Then there was Rivetal Track & Field Day where we picked what must have been the hottest day of the summer to run a few races and see who was the fastest person at Rivetal. The real contest ended up being "which of us non-athletic types could keep our breakfasts down after all the running." There have been jump rope contests, sculpting contests, and even an arm wrestling tournament. 

Whether intentional or not, having the office as a playground has had a tremendous impact on our work. The laid back atmosphere creates a place that is safe for ideas. It's fun to kick around challenging problems with your friends and it's hard not to make friends with people you play video games with. 

Tell us what Rivetal offers now and where you would like to see things go in the future.

Rivetal exists to find joy in creation. We use graphic design, video and development to solve marketing, training and business process problems for our clients. This takes the form of marketing collateral, web sites, mobile apps, and a variety of custom software solutions that we have created over the years. There have been plenty of times that we've been tempted to specialize in this or that but we just can't let go of the excitement that comes with being able to create anything. We've wrestled with it long enough and have finally decided that's who we're going to be.

Now that we've given ourselves permission to be ourselves, our goal is to scale. More clients, more staff, more awesome projects. We have a few ideas for products that we'd like to release in the future. The service business can be tough and the idea of selling a widget for a change definitely has some appeal. For now though, we're really happy doing what we do and just want to do it on a larger scale.

What has been most rewarding for you?

There are two things I'm really proud of. I'd have a hard time saying which is most rewarding. The first is the culture that we've built. It's not for everybody but the right people stay and are very happy. We have a few people who have been with us for over 10 years. Almost everybody who works for us, at some point, has passed up a better paying job rather than leave. We love our team like family and try hard to reciprocate their loyalty. 

The second thing I'm most proud of is that our first client is still our biggest client, even after all these years. We think that says a lot about the care we take of our clients. We've grown organically over the years, without any organized sales effort except word of mouth. That's very gratifying.

 What challenges have you faced?

There have been some doozies... times when I have literally wept from frustration and heartbreak. The hardest stuff has always been connected to the responsibility we feel to take care of our people. There have been a few periods where finances made it very hard to do that. The worst was just a few years back when that big client I mentioned hit a tight spot and shut down its marketing budget for nearly 6 months. We spent the first half of that period burning through lines of credit to keep the team together in the hopes of a quick return to business as usual. When that didn't pan out we had to let a third of the team go in one day and there was no money left for any kind of severance. That was one of the worst days of my life. 

We learned a lot from that experience. We don't take our opportunities for granted. We are more cautious and insulate Rivetal from risks that would put us in that kind of position again. It also taught us that we can do the hard stuff to protect the business.

 What advice would you give to those who have a dream but haven't launched it yet?

The biggest thing I've learned is not to be afraid of success. That sounds silly and cliche but it can be frightening to think of yourself having to manage a growing company. Ten years ago if somebody told me what I'd have to know now in order to run my business, I'd probably have run. But that's not how life works. We don't get to know up front all that we'll learn along the way. There's no reason to be intimidated by future; it only happens one day at a time.

Great advice Derek! Thank you for taking time out to share your journey. 

For more information about Rivetal and their services you can reach Derek and Jason at:

283 E 930 S
Orem, UT 84058

And on the web at:
Rivetal.com or Info@rivetal.com