All items from Spiritually Bankrupt

I just received this excellent e-mail from Lisa Tatum, the president of the State Bar of Texas and wanted to share.
With Our Network, Everybody Can Win
“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”
— Jim Stovall

Posted 11 weeks 15 hours ago

Vince - Copy
One of my sports idols, Vince Young, filed bankruptcy a week or so ago.  You can click here to see some video of him leading the University of Texas to its first national championship in 35 years.  I watch this video at least once a year to relive the joy of that moment.  Vince went on to play pro football and was quite successful at it – click here – but is now out of the league and has hit a rough patch.  Here is a news(-ish) report on the filing.
Hearing this news caused me to reflect on how circumstances can change so drastically in life and reminded me of another quote I heard recently from someone even more famous and accomplished than Vince Young.

Posted 11 weeks 2 days ago

When I started practicing law, I was anxious, petrified, depressed, terrified, you name it.  After a couple of years, I decided I needed some help, so I sought out a business coach.  She taught me to improve my performance, but more than that she taught me to eat right, exercise, meditate, and take care of myself for the long haul of a career.  I plunged back into law practice, working on eating better, losing weight, exercising, and meditating, and somehow, I managed to survive it.  After a couple more years, the work really started to click.  Issues began to be more familiar, cases became more routine.  I didn’t have to think so hard for each document or appearance.
It was the pain and fear I felt from law practice that opened me up to a path of self-care.  This, in turn, opened me up to other benefits.  I have more energy and more focus than ever before, and I am more present in my life than I was previously.  In work, this manifests in networking, mentoring younger lawyers, giving presentations, taking on pro-bono work, and it gives me the perspective to provide my clients guidance and wisdom.  In life, I am happier, fitter, a better family member, a more helpful person, and I can better appreciate the wonder of the world.

Posted 27 weeks 2 days ago


Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.”
Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.
“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”
- Zen koan

Posted 30 weeks 2 days ago

A couple of weeks ago, I finally saw the 2010 animated film Despicable Me.  I am not, as you might guess from reading this, three years behind the times when it comes to movies.  I am actually more like 8 years behind.  However, I am relatively current on kids’ movies (I took the kids to see Despicable Me 2 the next day, during opening weekend).  So take what I am about to say with a grain of salt, since I don’t see many movies and I have forgotten what I have seen.
Anyway, I think Despicable Me is one of the best movies about fatherhood ever made.  The premise is that a super-villian, in the course of one of his villainous plots, winds up adopting three cute little girls who turn his life upside down.  Here’s the trailer:
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Here are five lessons on fatherhood I took from the movie:
5. Don’t tell the kids not to do something, because they’ll straightaway do it.  (Notice in the trailer when Gru says no noises, and Agnes makes a funny noise.)  If you mess this one up, the best response is to have a sense of humor about it.

Posted 37 weeks 3 days ago

Johnny Rotten
My title is a line from a great Public Image Limited song called “Rise” from back in 1986. I’ve put some links down at the bottom of this post so you can check it out. (Caution is advised: it may not be your thing.)
I have an anger problem. This is the main reason I gave up caffeine (the subject of a previous post, here). I have had less of a hair trigger since then, but I still can get quite angry. My number one priority right now, is not to get carried away by anger. My resolution had been not to get angry at all, but a friend pointed out (and I’ve subsequently read similar views) that anger is just an emotion like any other emotion, and that it’s not possible or healthy to entirely try to eradicate it, as it would not be possible or healthy to eradicate any other emotion, like happiness or sadness. So my goal is to respond in a more measured way to things that piss me off rather than reacting too strongly or letting the anger fester.

Posted 42 weeks 3 days ago

PemaChodron(click image for larger version)
After many years of periodically trying meditation, it finally clicked for me the other day.  Pema Chodron, my meditation instructor (who doesn’t yet know that she’s my meditation instructor) was retelling a story her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, told her.  He said life is like a series of big waves that come crashing in and knock you down, over and over again.  Each time you get up, a face full of sand, mouth and nose full of water, and another one hits you.  She waited for him to say something like, “and after a while, it gets better,” but he didn’t.  Disheartened, she asked, “is that all there is?”  And he responded, “well, maybe after a while, the waves seem smaller.”
In basic Buddhist meditation practice, the instruction is that you sit, eyes open, and observe your breath.  If your mind wanders, you should bring your mind gently back to your breath.

Posted 44 weeks 3 days ago

Summer Posts
With summer getting underway and occasioning some upheaval in my schedule, I’ve decided to do short but more frequent posts during the month of June. I hope you enjoy!

Posted 44 weeks 5 days ago

death-wish-coffeeA taboo subject, I realize.  Every time I mention that I gave up caffeine a year ago, people just shut down.  They say, “Whoa, not me!” and run away as quickly as possible before I can open my mouth to explain.  Well, no one—except maybe a hacker—can keep me from saying my piece here!
Let me say at the outset that I love coffee – good coffee, that is.  I’m a snob.  That watered down crap you get at most restaurants doesn’t cut it.  I buy the good stuff.  I brew the good stuff.  You sneer, “I thought you gave up coffee!”  Caffeine yes, I did, but coffee, no.  I do drink decaf.  “But decaf has some caffeine!” you again sneer (this is how every conversation that gets past the clenched jaw phase goes).  I drink decaf black tea, too, by the way.  What I will say is that a decaf tea in the morning and a cup of decaf coffee twice a week does not a caffeine habit make!

Posted 46 weeks 5 days ago

So after all that, what was my (now 3 months ago) new year’s resolution?  One word: Integration.
n. The making up or composition of a whole by adding together or combining the separate parts or elements; combination into an integral whole: a making whole or entire.
(courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary)
There are four big buckets of stuff in my life (in order of the amount of time they take): family, work, me (social life, reading, writing), and yoga.  As you might guess, these realms frequently come into conflict.  The most obvious example is that work can keep me from spending time with my family or practicing yoga.
But it was my desire to write and the conflicts that produced that really got me thinking.  A couple of years ago, I decided I needed to take my shot at writing fiction, that if I didn’t become a regular fiction writer, I would die unfulfilled.  I spent a lot of time at it and stressed about it even more.  I struggled to set aside time to write and was fiercely possessive of that time.  Meanwhile, I had two young children, a brand new law firm, and had just become a trustee.  Not surprisingly, the fact that I suddenly wanted a bunch of time to myself led to a lot of conflict at home and at work as well as within myself.

Posted 50 weeks 3 days ago