Trading the Sublime for the Mundane

Today at work I had big plans to take time and strategize for 2016. I like to use the end of the year to reflect on what went well, what didn’t, and how I can best set up my team for success in the new year. Plus, the week between Christmas and New Year is almost always quiet. Almost.

Because life is funny in a way that makes for a great rom-com conceit, the universe had different plans. Not surprisingly, I spent most of my brain cells dealing with two issues that needed my undivided attention for pretty much the whole day. With sadness, I deleted the four-hour block of time on my calendar that I had foolishly set aside in advance for strategery.

Life is life, and stuff happens. And any good improviser will tell you to take the unexpected turn of events you’re given and embrace the hell out of it. That’s the only way you ensure that the resulting end product is enhanced rather than diminished by your input.

But it got me thinking about how often we acquiesce — consciously or subconsciously — to trading the sublime for the mundane. Admittedly, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to articulate a cogent and inspiring vision for my team at the end of the workday. And frankly, I wouldn’t have had a clear perspective given my heightened blood pressure.

And although the mundane is important (and imperative in many cases), I’ve decided to challenge myself to find intentional time everyday to consider the big picture. I’m eschewing the idea that we always need four hours with flip charts and lots of smelly colored markers, although those “retreats” are sometimes necessary, especially for facilitating group dynamics.

I got a glimpse of the power of intentionality on my five-minute Starbucks run this afternoon. There, dodging the traffic of downtown Miami, my brain was away from my computer screen and given freedom to think. That change of scenery allowed me to disengage from the crises I was handling and gave me brain space to ask myself bold questions, brainstorm and shoot down ideas, and imagine the possibilities for the new year. (And yes, I talk to myself in public.)

I achieved a distinct moment of clarity and immediately jotted a few quick thoughts on my notes app. I’m sure nothing I typed was Nobel Prize-worthy; they were just a few words and ideas to mull over. But even if I didn’t get a chance to get back to them today, I’d like to think that I planted seeds that would eventually take root and blossom. At the very least, my moment of zen re-energized me and allowed me to handle my work crises with a more balanced perspective.

A while back I asked Twitter founder Jack Dorsey about one thing he does everyday to keep ideas brewing. Here’s how he responded:


Lesson learned: While we may never truly escape the mundane, a few intentional minutes on the sublime — even on a coffee break — can be transformative.


Note to Self: Committing

That time I was asked to play the piano in front of the entire school (after I casually mentioned I’d been playing for YEARS), and  — after an eternity with tentative fingers on the ivory — I performed the best rendition of “Heart and Souls” an 11-year old could.

Happy Anniversary to My Hot Cuban Sandwich

A year ago today, I married my best friend in an epic 80s extravaganza. Below, my vows:

My boobear:

Your smile lights up a room a hundred times over. You light me up enough to last a thousand lifetimes. You are my energon cube, my all-spark.

You are the cataclysmic lightning bolt that creates Kelly Lebrock, the enchanted necklace that brings Kim Cattrall to life, the splash of water that turns Gizmo into a rambunctious Mogwai party.

You are a gift from God, the answer to a question that I never posed.

I am blessed beyond blessed that you give life to mine.

I promise to be, like Richard Marx, right here for you — right where you want me, but more important, right where you need me.

I promise that we will watch terrible, bad, stupid TV and movies until we’ve killed off most of our brain cells.

I promise that our inside jokes will keep us laughing until we’re old.

I promise to support your dreams, no matter how hazy, no matter how hard, no matter how high.

I promise to hold your hand and take every step of our crazy adventure with you.

Whether it’s navigating Jareth’s insufferable labyrinth, smuggling an illegal extraterrestrial on a bike, or quitting our high-paying, high-stress jobs so we can launch our gourmet baby food business… I will go there with you.

Teej: You are beautiful and adorable and all sorts of scrumptrulescent. You are the nicest, most kind-hearted person I know.

You are also complicated and emotional and loud.

There are so many ways that you and I are the same.

And there are many ways that you and I are different.

And it’s easy to say I love you anyway.

But I don’t. I love you because.

Thank You, Robin Williams

You didn’t know me, but you shaped me.

You practically raised me.

You made me laugh.

You made me think.

And you made me believe that I, too, had a boisterous, unbridled light inside, and that I should do whatever it takes to let it shine.

You didn’t know me, but I thank you for your divine genius. Thank you for your boisterous, unbridled light, which illuminated the darkest corners of this shy kid’s heart and soul.

Careening Toward Mid-Life

A not unserious thought came in my head today as I was walking to Starbucks to purchase my six dollar, 600 gajillion calorie beverage.

Having hit 35 recently, <Carrie>I couldn’t help but wonder</Carrie>: At what point should I give up hope of ever being shredded?

When I look at myself in the mirror now, I notice wrinkles around my eyes, skin spots like my grandpa used to have, greys sprouting on my head. In my 20s, I hit the gym religiously, at one point even doling out a grand for a personal trainer. I’m not out of shape per se, but shirtless selfies look ridiculous now compared with how I looked at 26. My six-pack strains to break free from the fluffy confines of late night pasta dinners.

Existentialist questions (“Is there all there is?”; “What have I done with my life?”) notwithstanding, I’m more than curious to find out how people deal with this physical transition.

If looking good nekkid (LGN) were more of a priority, I’d get my act together. But I like my life and lifestyle. I occasionally make it to the gym. I eat somewhat healthily. I take regular showers. Looking all shredded just seems like too much work, with little return at this point in my life.

Should I abandon all hope now?

Choosing Love

Well, Fred Phelps has died.

I will join the multitude choosing to respond by demonstrating love.

His cause notwithstanding, his passing is yet another reminder that regardless of who we are, our time on earth — and with our loved ones — is incredibly finite. With every breath (and thought and deed), we decide whether we spend that short time in love or in hate.

When I die, I’d want to be known as someone who chose love.

Deep thoughts, even for this blog. So now I send you back to your regularly scheduled programming of Brian doing something weird:


Next Stop: Miami!

So if Winter Storm Janus happens tomorrow, I’ll be going from this:20140120-210907.jpgTo this:20140120-211030.jpg

That’s right, world! After 8+ years in the nation’s capital, I’m headed down south. Although I will miss the crazy hyper-exciting/intelligent/political/self-important/megalomaniacal bubble that is the Beltway, I look forward to the crazy hyper-exciting/sexy/international/self-important/megalomaniacal bubble that is South Florida.

Let’s see… Which show based in Miami should I attempt to recreate?




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