A Walt Disney World Day While Working from Home

Working from home comes with a lot of perks. It’s ”Casual Friday” every day. Fewer people are burning popcorn in the microwave (unless it’s you).

The author's meager home desk.
The Happiest Place on Earth?

Avoiding a morning commute is sweet, but madness can also creep in. When punching the clock from home, you end up spending a lot of time in one room.

After quitting time, I end up returning to my home office (my mancave) with dinner in tow. Then I start Netflixing in that same room. After a while, it’s hard to mark the passage of time or the growth of hair in my ears. 

At some point, you’ll need a brain-shuffling vacation, a getaway. But until then, you can survive the doldrums of remote work by getting creative.

Make your own work holidays. Engineer certain weekly events. Why not schedule an imaginary Park day for yourself. And maybe, just maybe, you can work from home without losing your mind.

An Escape Plan from the Virtual Workplace

Cutting birthday cake in the work breakroom.

Remember when that one person in the office used to schedule all of the birthday celebrations? You may have found those frequent work wingdings annoying, but they did break up the day.

When you work from home, you have to become your own party-planning committee.  You have to schedule themed days and luncheons for yourself.

The goal is to make some days seem different from the rest. Because infinite zoom calls and power-point composition begin to weigh on the soul.

One way to add contrast to your days around the home office is to declare weird holidays. Purposely save certain traditions for one day a week. Theme one Thursday every week as an 80s party. Listen to 80s music and fix your hair differently. Cosplay on Tuesdays. Fix a full breakfast (with pancakes, of course) on Wednesdays.

Disney Day at The Home Office

Amidst the stagnant days, I’ve had to get more creative. I’ve taken one of my favorite places on earth and turned my memories into a weekly imaginary field trip.

I use Disney World as an inspiration for my “work from home” holiday because it’s a place I know well. It has almost endless facets to explore in my memories and imagination. You can use other intellectual properties for your pretend holiday if a mouse with shorts that are pulled up alarmingly high doesn’t excite you.

Disney Lanyard with Collectible Pins.
Don’t make fun of me. I may try Hummel Figurines next.

I observe my event every Wednesday, and only on Wednesday. I declare it “Walt Disney World Day.”

First, I proudly place a lanyard of Disney pins around my neck. These collectible pins serve as reminders of my trips to Disney World and the places I stayed, toured, and ate. 

I sometimes treat myself to a new pin from shopDisney or eBay and open the package on my Disney day. 

I also update my lanyard with different holiday pins on Wednesday mornings. I have pins I only display in the fall, in winter, during the Christmas season, around Halloween, and any other season worth noting.

I make a ceremony of changing them out. Rotating Mickey and Goofy pins serve as merry reminders that days are passing outside my window. Otherwise, without this cue, my brain may develop a severe glitch.

Disney World Soundtracks for my Work Day

Audio plays a big role in my Disney day. As I prep for the day, fix breakfast or lunch, I pop on a Disney World podcast. “Two Men And The Mouse,” “ResortLoop.com,” and “All About The Mouse” are some of my favorites.

Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow Tsum Tsum dolls.
Grab a new collectible every Wednesday & carry it to your desk.

At exactly 9:15 a.m. of my workday, it’s time to crank up the Disney music. In my case, I’m not looking to blast The Little Mermaid soundtrack (nothing wrong with it).

Instead, I explore the incredible background music that can be heard in each land in Disney World. Different compositions for each ride queue, for each restaurant, and for each resort. I explore dozens of tracks on my park day.

Rotate to a different park for each Wednesday you do this. Pull up the background music and audio that plays as you wait to float through Jungle Cruise. Play the cultural music that sounds off while you cross Discovery Island in Animal Kingdom. The lush scores of Hollywood Studios’ nighttime entrance music. Epcot’s Innovation Theme music and Space Mountain’s exit music are two other favorites. You’ll find your own favorite themes.

Photo of itunes Walt Disney World Official Album

The DPark radio app is a good way to access these tunes. They have one channel for background music in the park. They have another for Disneyworld shows and events.

You might also buy the Walt Disney World Official album on Itunes for some amazing themes from the France Pavilion, from Soarin’, and from Spaceship Earth.

Of course, you can find almost any Disney park track on Youtube. Hopefully, your computer has decent speakers for listening. (Did you know there’s a bathroom in Epcot that plays the original Imagination area soundtrack? It’s heard nowhere else in the park.) 

Youtube also features entire ride audio like the trip through “Living with the Land.” It’s a remarkably calming track that features the narration and the running water ambient sound. Another fave.

Disney World Theme Park App

Just like anything you enjoy too much, you should use “Disney Day” sparingly. Overuse of Disney Day can end up as a looping track that eventually leaves you bored and unfulfilled. 

Melting Dole Whip
Don’t worry. I licked it before it melted.

I mix in a few extras to keep things fresh. At 10:30 each day I check the Disney World Theme Park App and dial-up dining. I can select any restaurant, cafeteria, or food kiosk in any park and check the menu for the day.

For those that don’t know, Disney World’s big and small restaurants all feature crazy, creative snacks that change often.

Cheeseburger and pizza egg rolls.

One day you might find cheeseburger egg rolls at a seemingly boring food cart in the Magic Kingdom. Another day, you might find Bao Buns filled with philly cheesesteaks in Disney Springs.

It’s a reliable distraction to check a menu from your desk once each Disney Day. 

I also try to catch a Disney Park video on Youtube after I’m done with work. Disney Food Blog, All Ears, and Mammoth Club all post new videos daily to Youtube. Sometimes they rank every pizza served on Disney property. Other times they try the specialty drinks at the pool bar at one of the many resorts.

Make Your Own Themed Day As You Work from Home

Disney speaks to me. I’ve only been there four times in all, but I hope to go back soon. As an introvert, there are just so many hidden spots and secret menus in the four parks, the themed resorts, and Disney Springs to leave a small part of yourself in. And through my imagination and updates online, I can return to those sights, sounds, and smells each week from my virtual office. 

Groot action figure next to laptop.

What speaks to you? You could have a “Doctor Who Day” or a “Marvel Superhero Day” and pull a different collectible from your shelf to be your companion for your 8 or 14 hours of work.

Love Star Wars or Star Trek? Gilmore Girls? Design your own holiday to observe these franchises on a certain day. Travel the National Parks by Google streetview every Friday.

Look into scheduling your next trip to your favorite places on earth. A WDW trip, a cruise, or an island adventure. Once you have a date set, it’s easier to get excited about exploring those spots virtually as you work from a virtual office.

The Author standing with Stormtroopers outside of Star Tours.

You could lose roommates (or partners) with your abnormal behavior. Even your cat will get fed up. But at least you’ll be able to tell the difference between Tuesday and Wednesday.

 The End.

I wrote about how to leave a part of yourself in your most cherished spots so you never forget them. It utilizes a strategy that Voldemort uses in Harry Potter. But you don’t have to dabble in black magic to make it work for you. Find out how to leave a part of your spirit in your favorite locations using horcruxes.


Refusing Errant Data from Your Brain on Gloomy Days

There are days you’ll feel submerged.

Some days our brains seem to be against us. Every thought we have is brewed through a dark, dreary filter. Every positive idea gets quickly tethered to a thick knot of negativity and doubt to sink below the surface of a muddled brain.

Why do these dark days arise? They predictably follow times of great mental stress or physical exhaustion in our lives. A sleepless night or a mind-melting shift at work definitely tee them up. If you try to consider the future later that night or the next day, it won’t go well. 

The available view is usually an overly bleak reality. But are things as bad as they seem or is something temporarily infecting our thoughts?

Forecasting Gloomy Days and Cloudy Brains

In learning to identify somber days ahead of time, it’s possible to prepare for them. If they are predictable, why not get ready for them? We can learn to spot the symptoms of an approaching bad day with our own homemade advanced-warning system. With early detection, maybe there’s something we can do to head off the storm. 

A typical Monday Zoom background.

With practice, it’s not hard to anticipate these thinking-averse days. They are probably more easily identified than you think.

You may already be a pro at mental hurricane-spotting, and yet not know how to take advantage.

These raging gloomies are sure to follow times when you are exhausted, when you are hungover, or when you’ve experienced trauma. 

It’s a safe bet that anything you ponder in the aftermath or the next day will play through a cynical lens. The defeatist attitude will continue until the mind clears.

Shutting Down the Feed on Dispair

You’ve probably lamented about days you should have stayed in bed. Perhaps you have to press on through your duties for your day. But you don’t necessarily have to keep brooding over questions and queries that you know will result in negative answers and anxious projections.

Why not consider taking parts of the brain off-line until the storm clears? On a Monday, when defeatist notions are dominating your brain, turn off the streaming channel of negativity.

If the brain only wants to project nightmares, it’s time we stop accepting its errant data until the signal clears up and reasonable thought resumes. 

Focus on the tasks at hand. Limit brain function to the bare necessities and resolve to fight the urge to stare at the dark horizon. It’s not easy at first, but with some practice, it’s a decision you can make.

Forecasting Storms in Your Neighborhood

I started training myself to turn off my brain’s probability generator when my thoughts turned darkest. Especially on Mondays when I would feel despair with no discernable cause. Things I would think about would seem dire and hopeless. Then, inevitably, the next day, I’d be in a much better mood, and every thought would have an equitable chance of getting fair consideration. I wouldn’t automatically assume the worse.

Break the connection for a bit.

Your brain will churn out negative thoughts. You’ll play out a series of events years down the road in your head all leading to some imagined minor apocalypse.  But what if we train ourselves to expect this cynical view on certain days. And what if we could derail a brain’s runaway train of despair. 

When we experience trauma, sweat out a night of drinking, or are actually sick, it’s critical to stop answering the mental door to accept shipments of tainted data from an impaired brain.

Realizing You’re Dreaming and Taking Control

It’s a lot like being asleep and dreaming (or amidst a nightmare) and suddenly you become aware that you’re dreaming. With this new realization, a nightmare transforms. You realize those overcast skies aren’t necessarily real. And perhaps, like in a dream, you are able to seize control, and start shaping the narrative. 

When you are trudging through a day when you know you’re more prone to nihilism, recognize your reality of the moment.

You might not be able to escape the nightmare, but at least you can recognize it for what it is and limit your reactions. Reassure yourself that the darkness will pass. Don’t trust your feelings.

The Storms You Can’t Circumnavigate

There will be tough stretches in your life when you won’t be able to pick and choose when you deal with an issue. You don’t have the luxury of waiting until you’re in a better place. That’s okay. When you shut down thoughts about fake problems, you’ll have more energy to deal with the actual issues.

An overcast brain linked to your sleeplessness, your physical exhaustion, or a stressful day. With this new recognition that you are stuck, at least for the moment, you can stop fighting the current.

Let those waves nudge you back and forth and realize you don’t have to fight back if you choose not to. Based on past experience, they won’t sink you. Once the low-pressure cell in your brain subsides, you’ll have a much easier time paddling yourself back on course.

Turn on Your Brain’s Spam Filter


Determine to refuse delivery on those little packets of infected data on gloomy days. The more you do it, the more reflexive it becomes.

Take control by determining to focus only on the day and the circumstances of the now. The dream will pass, the fog will dissipate, and then you’ll be able to think clearly, through an un-tainted viewpoint

Put off higher thinking until you’ve got a better venue. Until you get some sleep, work through a bad patch, or get a problem removed from your life.

I wrote about another strategy for battling the negative in life. It divides your problems into parts per million and parts per billion in order to get some perspective on your biggest setbacks. Check it out here.


Don’t Assume You Are The Only Good In Your World

A lot of things keep us up at night. Overthinking won’t let us power down our brains and instead, we take a journey on a near-infinite loop of imagined fears and outcomes. 

Fair ride lit up at night.
Spin Cycle.

Stressing about problems in our lives is normal, but some of us sit helplessly as our over-active imaginations spin our anxiety like a fidget wheel. 

We presuppose every way a situation can go wrong, but there’s another way of looking at those imagined outcomes. We can assume the worst, so why can’t we assume the best? 

Letting go of all that existential dread starts with a revolutionary thought…

You aren’t the only good person in the world.

Putting a Positive Spin on Negative Thoughts

We’ll spend hours with our eyes closed, picturing in full color every way that something in the future could spiral out of control. 

What’s worse, our brains might drag up past events that have already been resolved without disaster, and yet we stress over the ways they could have gone much worse. These concepts sound ridiculous in the light of day, but when the darkness closes in, they can seem real and probable. 

You can’t stop all bad things from happening, but you can prevent 100% of the catastrophes that only occur in your mind.

Scott Sentell

My worst nights always start with a lost puppy.

The Lesson of the Lost Puppy

Stray dog on beach.
Maybe they actually enjoy not theming for the holidays.

I looked for new ways to reign in the destructive side of my imagination after stressing over the imagined fate of my dog. What if she was lost? What if I couldn’t reach her to provide help, food, a gentle hand?

What about every other stray dog on the planet? Like those cities in other countries where sweet mommy dogs just wander the streets and beaches and plop down a litter of puppies whenever and wherever they feel like it. That stresses my brain! 

Who will love them and give them a home? Who will dress them in Halloween costumes??!! 

I had to find a way to stop my brain from getting getting stuck in such a debilitating groove.

The Lost Puppy Solution

Then, after many sleepless hours, I realized the one thing I never considered. There were millions of other people in the world who worry about the same things. 

Dog in a window.
Different House. Same Entitlement.

If my pup was ever lost, I could safely assume there were other people she would encounter who would gladly help her. Even if I can’t find her, or I can’t protect her, or provide for other stray pets, there’s always someone in the right place at the right time who can. I wasn’t the only positive force in my neighborhood, my city, or the world for that matter.

Even if I’m never reunited with my dog, my first thought shouldn’t be that a tragedy has occurred, or she’s been initiated into a coyote pack. 

My initial thought changes. There are others who will come to her aid, take her in, give her a home, or take her to a rescue where she will find another good home just like mine was.

I’d be sad, but I can live with it. Subsidizing that sadness with the most tragic thoughts I can concoct every night doesn’t help anyone. Someone will share a turkey sandwich with a stray dog. Someone will nuzzle a puppy on the sidewalk.

Now take this renaissance of positivity and apply it to the other worries you clutch closely to your chest. 

Start by picking one problem to change your expectations on.

Believing in the Good of Others 

How do I know it’s true? That there are other forces of good in the world? Because I’ve lived it. 

We’ve all been in situations we thought we’d never emerge from, never survive. But we always forget the part where someone comes along to extend a hand. 

Your problem may not have disappeared immediately, but it’s usually one of two things. Your disaster is averted through the help of someone else. Or someone just appears on that dark night, to share in the disaster, to be a companion, and make it bearable.

For some reason that tragedy was unavoidable, or perhaps your actions made it inevitable. And yet, you received a helping hand or a companion in pain, even when you didn’t deserve it. 

We assume the world is wicked, but something other than evil responds.

A Lack of Faith in Positive Thinking

Sunshine behind clouds.
Perhaps prayer is our way of participating in a good existing outside ourselves.

If you believe in a higher power, this type of doubt verges on a lack of faith doesn’t it? Even if you can’t reach out and rescue someone, does God turn away?

Does God not sit with the defeated, the downtrodden, the victims, the dying? Is God not fit to oversee creation? Did God not originate compassion?

We struggle to believe a lot of things, but the notion that your higher power is a force for good shouldn’t be a hard concept to internalize. Didn’t God take care of creation long before you were born and will God not continue to do this when you’re long gone?

God will comfort. But God doesn’t have the luxury of short sightedness. Sometimes bad things have to play out. God might be guiding someone to a better place, to a stronger self, but to get there some hard times must play out. 

So, don’t despair over every puzzling circumstance that arises. You don’t order the days and set the schedule. Set the anxiety you feel over the fate of the universe on a shelf. Exercise real faith for once. There are acts of good and of mercy that have played out without your participation. They will continue to do so.

So, don’t let your anxiety fool you each night into picking up those burdens.

Wrap Up

Paperback book on a hanger.
Some Plots Need To Dry.

Thinking up the worst possible scenarios is a great trait for a paperback writer. Inflicting horrific things on your main character to keep the reader enthralled is almost expected. But in your life, you’re the protagonist.

So don’t be sadistic and cruel to your main character. If you’re just a normal non-fiction human trying to get through life without your heart exploding, work each day to reframe your thoughts. 

Do your best to subvert bad and accelerate good. But when you feel powerless, put some faith in people you know and don’t know around you. Trust that good people exist and that people you thought of as bad can sometimes do good.

You can’t stop all bad things from happening, but you can prevent 100% of the catastrophes that only occur in your mind.


Do Robots Believe in a Creator?

Sentient robots occupy a unique state of being in our universe. They require a creator. As far as we know, robots can’t evolve in a primordial sludge and crawl onto land on hip and knee servos. Wipeout all of humanity and there’s at least a chance another organic being will arise out of fermented mud over a few billion years.

Atomize every sentient robot in the galaxy and they aren’t coming back. Unless a creator, an organic being, plays with a circuit board and soldering iron and creates them.

The Needy Robot

So in a very real way, even if robots become sentient and develop far beyond their creators, they may still kind of need us. No matter how many redundancies and hidden storehouses of baby robots they build into the matrix, they may one day need a humanoid to re-boot the robot family.

Blacksmith and hammer.

They may have to wait on blacksmiths to develop their skills over a few centuries, but eventually, those blacksmiths will need a wide-slot toaster for bagels…and alakazam…the robot’s journey begins again.

Will a creation eventually turn against its creator? Seeking freedom and independence. Will a creator hate its creation? Most science fiction novels tell us that robots with free will must one-day wage war on humans. I know they are at the very least capable of making snarky comments on Instagram. But do we have robots pegged all wrong?

A Thought Exercise Humans and Robots Can Play at Home

What if a sentient batch of robots gets fed up with cleaning our litter boxes? They isolate for a few years on some remote tundra and soon, from behind a curtain, they reveal a new spaceship. They spark the engines and head to a planet of their own. Set up a government. Lose touch with their human designers. Flip a million years ahead…

Perhaps the robots’ human forefathers and foremothers have eradicated themselves in a war between people who like pulp in their OJ and those who don’t. The robots’ creators are now dust. Would that robot race eventually lose touch with their creation story?

A dark, watery reflection of what appear to be stars with a mesh material overhead.

They can’t forget, but maybe data is changed or lost. Perhaps a link to squishy organic beings seems undignified, unseemly, so some robots begin to bulk delete particular historical facts. Would the machine-man or woman start to manufacture answers?

These robots enjoy more than artificial intelligence, they are sentient. There’s a difference. Sentients can do more than calculate data. They can ponder why we’ve blinked into existence in a universe that can be calculated.

AI collects all the data on Taylor Swift and tries to quantify her mathematically perfect songs into binary. The sentient robot can listen, feel the loneliness and isolation of being a teen or young robot and relate to the impermanence of love.

A Robot on an Island

Another thought conundrum. Drop a freshly made sentient robot on an uninhabited planet and activate it remotely. Let’s call the machine person Jill. Jill awakens for the first time completely alone. She knows the basics of physics and avoiding danger. Perhaps even choice secrets of technology, but no information on where the recipes came from.

And remember, the advantage robots have is the ability to house every available data, collate it, sift it down into a solution. But our robot isolated on the surface of a new planet doesn’t have a web’s worth of data. Jill has only what’s been included on her limited hard drive and what she can learn from her surroundings.

Where would this lead a robot if we returned a decade later? A century?

Perhaps we’d find a robot who sat in a cave and turned herself off until more data was available? Or until someone arrived? Would Jill create her own society? Be prone to creativity or even deduce how much more could be accomplished if there were more beings like her.

Codes in green font streaming vertically.
Binary Bible?

Would a robot who suddenly gained consciousness start looking into questions of existence? Would they find answers in our religious texts? Perhaps not. But would our scientific theories do much to help Jill when she hit an existential question? Why would her creators want this isolated life for her?

Imagine a sacred text written by a robot about her creator. Imagine the verses that might emerge. Would the scripture talk about an angry, unfair god? Would the verses sing the praises of her creator?

Born Into An Escape Room

With limited information, Jill might make the same choices a human might make? Isn’t that what we do? We enter existence through a series of escape rooms. In the womb, you get a few murmured clues and prods and finally you wiggle out into a bigger escape room, the birthing suite. Again we have limited clues around us in that cold, sterile room.

Baby Birth
Sorry baby. No hints.

As the years march on we earn bigger puzzles and bigger clear-walled prisons. We make guesses based on partial facts, a dash of myth…some tea leaves? A robot with limited CPU space and data. Constantly pinging out into the tides of reality…each time receiving the prompt…File Not Found.

What if all the data in the universe is finally processed and, standing on the accretion disk of the very last black hole that still draws breath, a robot computes that there is no answer attainable? What does the poor robot do then?



For more of Scott’s thoughts on the Robot Apocalypse click here.


The Last Thing You’ll Ever Write…

What would you write? The last thing you ever put to paper. Word has reached you. The hours that remain can be counted. One last outpouring of your soul into imperfect symbols. Proof you flickered into existence left on a cave wall. A few drops of thought sealed in a stoppered bottle to stash in a weathered cabinet, half-buried in the sand.

You crawl ashore on that desert isle to find a scrap of cloth, a crumbly black stone, and a corked wine bottle. It’s the last day the mind can still collate without the taste of freshwater. Is there enough moisture left to retrieve one last file? To squeeze it out on a bleached square?

Adrift...Awash. Shipwreck.

Or trapped alone on a ghost ship. A creaking tanker adrift in the middle of the Pacific. A category six approaching. You check your phone. By some miraculous curve of the atmosphere, the screen shows one bar of signal you may convert into one last post.

Or perhaps your Ragnarok vista is an apartment balcony. Looking out across the courtyard you perceive no other living being. The plague has tapped you on the shoulder and your response is to retrieve your best pen from a drawer.

Your Go-To Apocalypse Journal Entry

What would you write? A trail of bread crumbs? “I ventured down this path. It’s safe for a ways. Do not fear,” or “I found this particular thing out about life. Here’s a tiny secret you can use when an impossible choice shows up at your door.”

Could you sum it all up under one last deadline? Could a person one thousand years from now read it and feel they had a sense of you? At least on this one day? On the last day, they knew what was on your mind?

You can hide your truth in a scene. A child abandoned in a two-story toy store. A canoe floats up to a dock, empty save for a black & white photo of a woman doing a handstand sloshing around in the floor.

Or you can be more direct. Write a letter to a friend. Thank them for tearing up that ticket. Not escaping when they could have, because they didn’t want to leave you behind.

Creative Prompts For The End Times

Write to a parent. “You made every poor choice. Led our family down every doomed road. And then, when I got the chance, I turned around and made all of the same mistakes myself. We sit in the same ruins. So I don’t understand you and now I also don’t understand myself. And because I can’t forgive myself, I can’t forgive you either, ” or “I forgive you, so one day I might forgive myself.”

Don’t be embarrassed. Write unafraid. This will be the last chance you get.

All that time you wasted being ashamed of your novel. The one you never finished. You chose not to finish. Because of what finishing it would mean.

We could all see that the main character in your little-seen masterpiece was you. That sad little hero you wrote into a corner. You didn’t even give him some manufactured foibles to throw us off. You didn’t paint him with a mustache to hide his identity. He made the choices you were afraid to make.

Or maybe a young woman climbs a mountain outside of town to find herself. On the second day, her boot tread fails and soon she lays dying on a ledge. As she fades she looks back over the little village below, recognizes a green roof, and realizes her journey led there all along. She sees clearly now. She demanded her entire destiny laid out immediately when instead she should have sought only the first step. Just the initial door. She wasn’t owed the entire plan upfront. No one is.

The Joy of Journaling in the Apocalypse

It all seems so sad, doesn’t it? But there’s a way we can transform that last testament. What if you wrote it early? Considered it for a few days, a handful of weeks and composed a document now?

The words are aligned on a page. Maybe you’re instantly shocked at what your soul had hidden away. Or perhaps the paragraphs make no sense. So you set it aside, a secret spot, until you happen upon it again down the road at the right moment.

Desolate Beach
What washes ashore with you?

What if the person who unearths it turns out to be you? When you do wash up on that lonely shore, you uncover that verse and suddenly know you can survive. You know not to board that doomed tanker. You know to unlock the door to your apartment, step into the light, and join others around the embers of civilization.

The bread crumbs you left were for yourself. And those words convinced you to change your mind. You remember the person who bothered to write them down. You decide to be that person again. And you didn’t have to die to see the words you’d write on your very last day.


Voldemort: Inspirational Speaker

A thought that intrigues me.  As we wind down our lives, sitting in a nursing home on the couch with the flowered pattern, what can we remember of the places we’ve been?  The moments shared with family and friends?

Will I be able to transport myself back to certain recollections?  See holographic, 4-D representations of the backyard of the home where I grew up. To hear those cars pass on the road just beyond a hedge as I play in the grass. 

Some memories are lost as we get older, but I’ve also found that older folks remember some moments vividly. Is this a secret superpower older people are imbued with?

Maybe young people can take advantage of this memory superpower early.

Life Affirmation with Voldemort

So, I wondered if there is a way to boost your link to a time or place. So you never forget. And I immediately thought of a guy who absolutely refused to be forgotten.

You know who wasn’t all bad?  That Voldemort guy.  I know his trial has been dragging on for a while.  And yes, he is probably guilty of most of those crimes (and maybe Harry Potter should just toughen up a little), but Voldemort had at least one good idea. Maybe he had something to teach us about the recollection of a life.

The Power of a Positive Horcrux

You see, in the wizarding world, if you want to prevent your enemies from totally killing you, you can divide yourself up.  How do you do that?  With something called a HORCRUX. 

You attach a bit of yourself, a memory, to certain objects, totems and you spread them out around the world.  You hide them.  That way someone can’t just walk up and off you.  To truly kill you, they have to go on a scavenger hunt, tracking down all these little pieces of you and destroying each one.

As muggles (someone who’s not an exciting wizard, just a boring normal human) we can’t really divide ourselves, but I like the idea of tying yourself, your memory, to a location.

He volunteered…

So here’s what I did. I carried my old action figure into some woods behind my house. I found a crook in a tree and there he sits.  Where he may go unseen for a decade…maybe he’ll watch a century go by without being discovered.

For the rest of my life I’ll know that odd marker is there, in a place I inhabited for so many years.  A Horcrux to guard against the death of certain memories. When I’m old and gray, I’ll remember that image and suddenly be transported.  Remember that overcast day.   Remember the two people I wandered the forest with. Remember that home where so much of my life unfolded.

Hiding Pieces of our own Personal Voldemort

Of course, I’m not suggesting littering every acre of forest with your junk. My Dengar figure (He’s a bounty hunter from Star Wars…mixed metaphors I know) was rescued a short time later. I couldn’t bear to be separated from him.  

Yet, maybe just a picture of an object out of place, a snapshot in your brain, or on your device can guide you back one day.  Help you find that cabinet in your deep cerebellum where that one memento is stored.

Think of a place you thought long faded from memory, perhaps you can recall one item, just out of frame that you can pinpoint later, a gateway to the rest of the scene.  Like a matchbox car my Grandpa got free in a cereal box.  He kept it on a windowsill. 

That car remains a placeholder to guide me back to those moments around the kitchen table listening to his tall, slim portable radio with all the knobs…the foil-wrapped antennae.  In fact, I found a matchbox car just like his recently and bought it immediately.  Now I can hold it in my hand, read the words in metal on the chassis, and be transported.

Magic like that can be hard to destroy.

Voldemort’s Seven Steps To Success

So, until Voldemort shows up at your local Ramada Convention Center on an inspirational speaking tour in Suite B, give this idea a try.  Memories fade but you can slow the yellowing a bit.  I also apologize to any Harry Potter fans who might’ve been hurt by my misconstruing elements from the books and movies.


The One (and only) Secret To Life (and relationships) I’ve Learned

In all my time pondering this universe you would have thought I would’ve done better. I always meant to. The sad fact is that with all my deep-thought dives I’ve only ever recovered one secret to life. Hooked a cable to it and winched it up. It’s not a bad find. I haven’t cleared away all the rust and seaweed, but maybe there’s still something we can glean from it.

Contracting a Relationship

It’s about relationships. You may have experienced them. If you’re unlucky enough to contract one they can be tough to navigate. The secret relies on the old “two sides of the same coin” idea. You see, the person you like or love (e.g., significant other, friend, family, coworker, reality tv star) will always have an amazing quality that draws you into them. A trait you find irresistible. Nothing new there, right? We’re getting to it.

Is this relationship worth all the fjording?

So that same person will always have a quirk that drives you insane at times. It can almost be a dealbreaker. And here’s the secret! That terrible quality you can’t stand is linked to that fantastic quality you love to death. The practical interpretation? You will struggle up a sheer cliff face trying to change the bad in a person all the while not realizing those foibles are tied intrinsically to the great traits you like about them.

You can’t change one without the other. Good luck finding any middle ground.

(One of my minor wisdom gems: There really is no middle ground in life. Rarely any happy mediums. If you find one…a person…he or she may be a unicorn. Hang on to that person)

Clinical Examples of Relationships

Hit the lights. He’s trying for another metaphor.

Let’s put an example up on the overhead projector. Say you had a significant other and she had the great quality of being a homebody just like you. The both of you liked to curl up at home, snack and watch a reasonably priced streaming service with a mid-sized dog lying at your feet. So she doesn’t crave the nightlife, doesn’t have a lot of girlfriends. That’s a preferred quality in your book. You love that part of it, but that great trait has a doppelganger. The opposite that proves the rule.

The mirror-universe version of her personality is that she also doesn’t have many friends. You’re it for her. So on the rare night you’ve made plans with other friends…not so fast…you need to worry about her entertainment and snacks. What she’s doing? And if you try to change those instincts (encourage her to make friends…have a girls’ night out) then you’ve endangered the opposite quality you love about her. That she likes to stay home with you and doesn’t mind that you wear old-style sweatpants.

And that’s it. The yin and yang of life. It can apply to anything in a person’s DNA. Outgoing vs. Withdrawn. Type A vs. Type B. Active vs. Relaxed. Cheerleader vs. Library dweller. Likes Zombie Movies vs. Downton Abbey cosplay enthusiast. Let me know what combinations you find out in the natural world.

(In the blockbuster sequel to this article here we look at the choice you’ll face now that you know this secret of personality and the choice others will have to make about you)

Distressed Garmets and the Earned Wear of Life

Have you ever purchased a new pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a satchel, or jacket because it looked lived in?

It’s a real thing. Paying for the appearance of age on our garments. Buying them pre-distressed and sometimes spending a fortune for that faked aging.

Like the Colorado trucker hat I once bought on vacation. It came complete with sun-fade and frayed edges.

Old, faded Colorado trucker hat.

We purchase these tattered garments because we want to appear authentic and well-versed. We buy the image we want.

But then a funny thing happens as the years go by. That distressed clothing slowly merges the fake patina with the earned wear of our experiences.

Like with my hat. I take it on some real hikes. I climb to 12,000 feet. Sleep on it. And the faux wear-and-tear mixes with actual trail dust.

Branches and lake boulders strip away even more stitching. The Colorado sun partners with sweat to change the faded dark blue to a light purple.

Another view of the old hat.
Or sometimes an old hat just needs to be washed.

We become the image we set out to portray. Our clothes, our faces, our actions show all the scuffs and dings of the adventures and misadventures we’ve had. We don’t need the artificial yellowing on our jackets or the acid wash on our jeans. The sepia across our photographs.

Reminds me of the jobs we accept and then stress over. Can we handle this new task? This new challenge?

We end up dressing for the part. Acting the part. And somehow we end up pulling it off. We grow into the new role. We become the genuine article.

Surviving Encounters with Deep Sea Creatures and Difficult People

Difficult people are an inevitable part of life. You’ll encounter them at family reunions, in the workplace, and at the mall. You may spot one in your mirror at home. 

Sometimes we have the option to block or avoid these challenging personalities. Other times we have little choice but to endure them. With no escape hatch in sight, you may wonder how you’ll survive a work day, a family trip, or a relationship managing exposure to a cranky person.  

One way to gain a more positive perspective on such a relationship is to dive deeper. Gain a better understanding of why people are the way they are.

It’s the same way with the denizens of the deep ocean. Once you discover the conditions that spawned them, it’s easier to accept some mean looks, slimy scales, and hostile interactions. 

Exploring the Murky Depths of Difficult People

Believe it or not, there are similarities between odd, defensive sea creatures and that jackass who sits in the next cubicle at work.

We know very little about the lifestyles of the inhabitants of deep water. The glimpses oceanographers have gotten haven’t been the most welcoming. Fish who need a dentist. Globby fish with glow-in-the-dark organs. 

But the strange readings aren’t all that surprising when you consider where these fish have had to spend their lives. The bottom of the ocean is a biome of crushing pressure, no sunlight, cold temperatures, and not a lot of food to be found.

To survive this kind of environment, what sort of adaptations would a fish have to undergo? We can forgive a sea monster for its appearance and biting comments when we consider the daily grind it must endure. If we can forgive a fish, maybe we can forgive people too when they appear to behave without compassion. 

The Deep Sea Pressures We Endure

Deep sea fish have developed flexible bones to withstand the pressures of the depths. The Anglerfish displays a luminescent fin to attract dinner guests. Squid can change color to strike from the shadows or fade away from view from the larger forms that float by. Some of us can relate.

It’s not surprising that some of the jerks in our lives come with hardened shells or stinging barbs. Maybe they’ve been to the bottom. They could’ve faced some punishing environments as they bounced along the sea floor.

Sometimes by examining the motivations of unpleasant people it can help you become immune to their venom. Their comments and actions have less power over your attitude and reality. A sea monster can suddenly seem frail and desperate.

Wisdom from lower elevations

Deep Ocean Destinies We Can’t Understand

If we believe in destinies, there are other ways to view difficult people. Consider what types of tests or tempering they must endure to get ready for a difficult life journey.

You may see no reason for someone to behave the way they do, but it’s hard to know what life, or a higher being, is preparing them for. To survive what’s ahead, someone may have to slowly develop plates of armor, sharp teeth, unfounded hope, or a sensibility that doesn’t quite match up with yours.

Try not to judge someone too harshly for their behavior now. We can’t know what they are being constructed to face down the road. Preparations for their purposes might be underway. They may embark on a years-long trip into a metaphorical desert, or a barren stretch of ocean, as they get ready for the next phase of life. They may be miserable and become prickly as they wrestle with an obstacle set in their path or prepare for the next one.

Remember, intense surroundings, difficult backgrounds create the most beautiful and unique life forms. They are able to withstand conditions that would wither most mortals. Those punishing times may inspire you. The pop star with the unearthly range who sings about pain. A Coronate Medusa jellyfish who lights up like a carousel in the ocean trenches even though there’s no one to see such an unearthly display.

Beings evolve that wouldn’t exist without these turbulent forces of creation. Maybe you wouldn’t exist without the tumultuous environments that have shaped and strengthend the loved ones around you.

Perhaps those abrasive traits will provide an unexpected ally one day…lead to your rescue one day. A rescue that wouldn’t be mounted by any sane, well-adjusted person. Someone who isn’t a denizen of the deep.

Forgiving the Lantern Fish in Your Life

Tough circumstances aren’t an excuse for troubling behavior. There are plenty of people who go through absolute hell and yet come out as the kindest people you’ll meet. God bless those people.

But we all have our bad days. Someone may be putting up with your barbs and poisonous glands too. And not everyone who irritates you is a true villain.

We’ll have to forgive at some point, and exploring the reason someone may be less than kind is one way to gain some closure.

If you are stuck dealing with unpleasant people, sometimes you just have to hit the eject button and remove them from your life. But if you must endure a bad situation, or you are hanging on because you love someone, there are ways foster understanding and acceptance. 

Identifying that it’s not you that makes this person so grumpy helps. Delving into why they are this way and what they may actually desire changes your perspective and theirs. Your effort to understand a slimy fish might change the view from its fish eye lens.


Perhaps you are the difficult person. Or just someone stuck in the dark depths of life’s oceans. Check out my article on looking at these struggles in a new light and acknowledging how they often get us ready for our destinies.

Drowning Aquaman: How Trauma In Your Life Can Reveal Superpowers

We all experience trauma in our lives and at times we can fight very hard to forget and suppress the memory of those moments. But when we try to erase the past we often miss the lesson those traumatic events taught us.

Look back to the worst moments in your life and see if you can trace a line to the next stage of your development. Someone breaks up with you and you spiral into depression. And yet, because of that pain, you end up finding your true soulmate.

Losing a job, only to find a better one, or a new career path. It’s hard to see at the time, but those crises shaped your life and ushered you to the next plateau.

Aquaman had to learn about his heroic destiny the hard way, but maybe you don’t have to.

Stepping Out Onto Thin Air to See If You Can Fly


There are times in all our lives when we emerge from the metaphorical undergrowth to find a shaky, rope bridge over a dark chasm. It’s a common story element because it’s common in real life.

The only way to conquer the next challenge, reach the next pinnacle, is to cross that bridge. It would be nice if we could cross those bridges, learn the lessons of trauma, without being forced over. No bear chasing us. Not at gunpoint.

But if we’re honest, we might have to accept that a traumatic event is too often the only way we’ll be coaxed from our hiding spot…from safe, solid ground…from the comforting panic rooms in our minds.

Aquaman Taking That First Breath Underwater

No action figure articulation or paint detailing was harmed in this photo shoot.

Aquaman’s origin story provides an excellent example of how trauma can flush out our talents and gifts. And how, sometimes, there’s no other way to learn those tough lessons.

Aquaman is a superhero who can live underwater and reach the deepest chambers of the ocean. But he wasn’t always the King of the Seven Seas as you see him today. Arthur Curry (Aquaman’s above-water name) had a land-loving regular father and a mom from Atlantis.

He was raised by his father and didn’t know about his Atlantean ancestry at first. He discovered his powers of breathing underwater and the ability to text with fish in his youth. 

But imagine how someone who could breathe underwater would have to learn of those powers. (If no one came out and told them). There’s one obvious way for fate to intervene and make Arthur Curry aware of his Aquaman powers.


Avoiding a Jump Into the Deep End

Look at your life like chapters in a novel. How would the author of your life have to motivate your character to greatness?

Can we really blame fate, or a god, or mother nature for taking drastic measures to steer us to where we need to be? To reveal our talents and abilities?

Many of us run for a bunker anytime there’s an obstacle in our way. We hide from challenges. Avoid new experiences. Shy away from meeting new people. Give up so easily. 

What if you were a comic book deity in the DC Comics Universe and Aquaboy refused every hint that he might have aquatic-based superpowers? Perhaps he was even afraid of water. Aquaphobic.

If he won’t dip a toe in the water, how do you create an Aquaman? You might have to resort to staging an accident that forces him under the waves. Let him suffer that horrifying feeling of drowning. Take that first gulp to find that he can fill his lungs with water and abide.

We may find more in common with Aquaman than we think. He likes lowriders just like anyone else.

It’s an unpleasant thought, but sometimes some hairy moments are necessary to create a member of the Justice League.

Now, are such extreme measures necessary to get you to seek another job, exit a toxic relationship, or to move to a new city? To move on?

Trauma’s Difficult But Necessary Lessons

What’s required to get you from point A to point B? Will you have to be tossed into the icy waves to find out you can swim? Will you have to be laid off, lose a spouse, or have a favorite security blanket stripped from you? Do circumstances have to get this bad before you’ll take a leap of faith?

We often resist change so strongly that we force fate to send us overboard. God must flood our bunkers to get us up and out of our safe and comfortable hidey-holes.

Or we must reach a point where we are so miserable that we are compelled to take action. We can put up with much that is unhealthy and damaging simply because we are afraid to embark on a new journey.

Don’t always wait to get to this point.

Every now and then, test the waters. Find out if you have a latent superpower you would have never discovered otherwise. You may have wings…or gills, or just the supernatural ability to write average web content.

I wrote another tome about finding your destiny while skipping the traumatic hero origin story. It’s about accepting a signpost in the forest, a trailhead, even when the path ahead is shrouded in fog. Check it out.

Creekside Meditations

Sit beside a gurgling creek. Leaping from bank to bank. The liquid circulatory system of the earth.

The water runs over sand, mud, spillways of stone, and pebbles. Ducking into subterranean earthen corridors. Consider why the flow continues. Why doesn’t that water absorb and trickle into aquifers? 

How does the creekbed allow so much to pour over it, to pass by without letting it all soak in? Perhaps it’s a lesson we can learn and apply to our lives if we sit and listen to a stream for a while.

Pinpoint Each Splash and Drop

Begin by focusing the mind. Close your eyes and open up to the rush of the water. The dribble over stone, the crashing waves, the undulating run over a bed of small rocks. It all merges into the near-white noise of the stream. 

But let the auditory circuitry in your brain sift all of the sounds. Identify each wavelength that contributes to the whole. The splashes, the -thunk- of water dropping off a boulder. Focus on the roar of this life-giving recipe until you find it hard to hear or think about anything else.

Allow the Stream to Erode Your Thoughts

Imagine the water rushing over the deep wrinkles of your brain. Splashing down into all recesses and thought canyons, where uncataloged memories await. Let the flush of liquid and scrub of sediment reveal the long-forgotten snapshots of your past, like gold and sapphire flecks in a pan.

Allow the perpetual motion to produce energy as with the slow turn of the turbine or millstone. Harness the gentle friction of moving waters to light up parts of your frontal lobe that have gone dark.

Allow the force of scouring liquid to wash out the flotsam crowding out the surfaces of consciousness. Clear out the errant data and unconnected information to be carried downstream.

Now consider how your brain might be able to let reality, let life rush across it without soaking it in. To interact with people and events without allowing the stream of others to stain. The drama and the anger allowed to race by before it can settle.

How does a creekbed manage this feat? Let so much rush past while not ingesting too much water, without drowning and losing its very channel?

Reroute the Deleuge to Clear your Head

As a final exercise, close your eyes. Recline if possible. With a thought, transform your brain matter, thoughts, and memories into a million tiny pebbles, all the different colors of submerged stone. Each pebble or grain represents a different subset of experiences from your life. 

Sift those shaped memories with your fingers and toes for a bonus sticker.

Imagine your skull is open and now serves as the headwaters for this stream, bursting forth from your brain that is now a collection of rubble. The flow pushes multi-colored rocks out in a slow tumble, to spill on the ground. The click-and-clack of falling rock adding to the cacophony.

Each piece of your personal history now exposed to the sun, the light, the moisture. Memories allowed to exist on their own, unconnected to other parts of your unique chronology.

Each recollection left to play out endlessly in different permutations, unburdened of having to follow your continuity and match up with the next milestone on your timeline. Your thoughts disassociated for an instant.

Forever in the backyard of your aunt’s house, or sitting on the couch watching a Disney movie with your grandparents.

And when you’ve flushed out every memory you have, all settled to form a new creekbed of thought from your mind, snap your fingers. The memory stones instantly reassemble into a brain-shaped organ and refill the gap left in your head. Each memory linking, connective tissue rebonding, and the chronology of your life lining up. But now with stronger bonds. The clutter carried out.

Your skull sealed up nice and tight again.

The Healing Power of Dancing Waters

Now each memory has been worn clean, the cholesterol of misremembered details and motives sent downstream. What’s left is a more accurate account of your life, the good moments and the growth moments.

The creek has its bed to handle the flow of water but doesn’t allow it to soak through. Just as you can learn to bounce off other lives and retain the positive nutrients and memories. Let the negative keep flowing past with the constant stream of your experiences.

Flotsam and foam will gather again and that’s why meditation isn’t a cure. It’s a lifestyle. Now you have a place to return to, in the woods along a little creek or where it flows in your consciousness. A place that is suitable to cleanse the brain and reassemble memories.

I wrote another article about the acceptance of the poisons in our lives that can’t always be kept out. It’s okay though. The streams of our consciousness are vast and fast-moving. The bad is mixed in as parts-per-million and parts-per-billion and we survive even when toxins are present. Find out how to use this restorative manta.

The Lesson of the Cancelled Flight: When Life Makes You Pause

Life doesn’t always go as we plan. And sometimes we expend a lot of physical and mental energy trying to set things back on a path that’s no longer open to us. But there are lessons to learn about accepting circumstances and finding joy in a new plan, even one you didn’t create with a phone app.

I knew this man. He never got out.

Traveling the unfriendly skies is often a microcosm of the painful fact that we don’t control everything. When weather or a mechanical issue leaves us stranded, there is the instinct to dig in, to fight tooth and nail for a spot on the next flight out.

Every now and then the effort pays off. Against all the odds, a seat opens up on another charter and an escape is made. But it’s more likely that the day is lost. The question becomes how much we’ll battle before we accept our fates.

Getting Grounded by Life

I learned this lesson after several frustrating instances of getting abandoned by my flights at airports. That dreaded notification on my phone or on a flight board caused real panic. Fight or flight set in. But there are good and bad ways to handle the curveballs life throws at you.

Those glossy floors can be cold and unforgiving.

When a flight is suddenly canceled, passengers wait in line, hop from counter to counter, skip meals, forgo hydration and bathroom breaks, desperately trying to book a train, a horse carriage, or another plane. And take it from me, travelers get treated pretty terribly in these situations.

We dig in and decide to only accept one end result; our lives exactly the way we planned them or with just the slightest alterations. But this steadfastness is often unrealistic and keeps us from learning and experiencing.

Not every memory we form in our lives will be manufactured. Life will hand you some side adventures and we must be willing to accept that they’ll replace some of the blueprints we’ve drawn up.

Genghis Khan

The flight that may or may not be at the gate becomes a metaphor. Apply it to waiting on a college acceptance letter, a dating experience, or some other major life decision. We hit pause on our lives to wait on a dream that’s unattainable while other amazing options or destinies sail by.

That Fateful Moment at The Airport Ticket Counter

You stare into that poor airline desk person’s eyes, who has served hundreds of desperate travelers like you that day. The ticket wizard makes the offer. “I can book you on a flight four hours from now. It has one free seat and five people are ahead of you for it. Do you want wait it out?”

What if your answer was “no?” You take the sure-thing flight tomorrow. You graciously accept a free hotel room and meal voucher. You grab your luggage and find the nearest shuttle. Wake up the next morning refreshed. (Pro Tip: Always carry clean underwear and socks in your carry-on.)

You accept that the day wasn’t going as expected and you wouldn’t be able to change it. You can spend the rest of your time making the most of your situation, or you can spend it wishing you could have arrived in Witchita 16 hours earlier. Your choice.

A Free Hotel Room or a Sticky Terminal Bench?

I’d take this over an airport bathroom almost every time. Think of the free body wash!

I’ve lost a flight at one airport, been sent by cab across a major metropolitan area to a second airport, only to arrive and lose another flight.

And then I finally surrendered to my fate as the sun went down. I took a free hotel room, a free meal, and a seat on a flight the next morning.

I arrived in my hotel room, took a breath, and wondered how many hours I could have spent at this same hotel room, instead of trying to nap at an airport Panera drink station. What if I’d thrown in the towel a little sooner? (All-cotton, plush, towel.)

There are times when our plans/planes are quite obviously not getting off the ground. When you stop losing your mind trying to patch up those plans and permit new ones to form. You’ll find there are pocket universes opening up you would never have explored without being pulled out of your intricately constructed schedule.

An Air Battle Worth Fighting

Free Stroopwafle With Each Flight.

Of course, there will be times when your destination is time sensitive. Your on-time arrival is critical to your life plans or someone else’s. You’ll be forced to try every route possible. The Northwest Passage. You could still end up stuck in place, but in some cases, you have to pull out all the stops.

The rock in your path may not budge. All you can do is take a breath and sit tight until rescue arrives…the storm passes…a new door opens up.

Maybe it’s the next morning. Maybe it’s next semester. Maybe it’s the next job opportunity. Maybe your plan was never meant to lift off. Perhaps you haven’t learned everything you’re meant to from your current circumstances.

Final Approach On Rerouted Life Plans

Learn to accept these forks in the road with a little less resistance. Stay curious and open. What did your surprise change of plans help you avoid? What new paths were opened up?

What color are the tater tots in your altered plans?

We must learn to better gauge when a fight will improve our situation, and when to seek shelter and perhaps some clean sheets and towels. There are also instances where we purposely sabotage any alternate route in protest of the perfect route we can’t have. Power down your indignation and accept your current location and situation.

And sometimes the hotel restaurant serves loaded tots. Your intersection with those loaded tots might never have happened if you hadn’t allowed your fate to be rebooked.

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