"There comes a moment in every life when the universe presents you with an opportunity to rise to your potential.  An open door that only requires heart to walk through, seize it and hang on.  The choice is never simple.  It's never easy.  It's not supposed to be.  But those who travel this path have always looked back and realized that the test was always about the heart.  The rest is just practice." 
- Jaime Buckley

I believe we are here to be truly human.  Vulnerable, transparent, and authentic.  I pray that we all become what we were born to be, an emanation of Divine light.  I pray that everyday I have the courage to stay open and be fully in the moment.  I want to immerse myself in the fullness of this life.  When my life is ended, I want to be fully used up, nothing left.  I want all my compassion, empathy and integrity to be blessings in the lives of all those I have been privileged to serve.  It is my passion for humanity that brings me the greatest joy.  Upon deep reflection, I believe all I've ever really taught was how to be fully human.

I believe to be a teacher of value, I need to fully engage in each moment. 
As I stand in my truth, I pray that I reflect what matters
and I hope my light shines for others to find their path.


"The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong."
- Gandhi

The process of forgiveness helps us conquer judgement of others.  We all make mistakes.  Very few of us plan to make a mistake and hurt someone.  Most of our actions are unconscious or trying to fulfill a need we perceive as important in the moment.  Upon deep reflection, I find that every mistake is really a neutral action until I take offense, until I am hurt.  Forgiveness is not required until I make a judgement.  My experience is judgement is a heavy load to carry.  In all my reading and study of forgiveness, I find it is most important to forgive the actions of others that have hurt me because forgiveness takes the burden of judgement off of me.  

"Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom."
- Hannah Arendt

"We never heal until we forgive."
- Nelson Mandela

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet which still clings to the heel that crushed it."
- George Roemisch

Safe Schools

Educators must create a safe physical and emotional environment that allows our learners to explore the worlds of knowledge, compassion, understanding and empathy.  We all need an environment where we can be authentic and vulnerable.  We all need a place to breathe, relax, and appreciate.

Many of our students bring a backpack of pain and past trauma into our schools.  We can not fix their past but we can and must create safe and welcoming classrooms and schools.  We can create a community where students feel they are cared for and loved.  When we create a safe learning community children heal, they relax and they learn.

Happy Birthday Sandra

December 9th is my beautiful wife's 70th birthday.  Sandra and I have been married for 40 years and she is quite simply the finest human being I have ever met in my life.  Sandra is my role model and inspiration.  Sandra is the kind of person songs and poems are written about.  Her dedication and commitment to our special needs daughter, Ashley has kept her alive and well for 34 years.  Whenever I am, I speak about Sandra and Ashley.  Sandra is commitment, she is empathy, she is compassion, she is faith, she is unconditional love.

As I write this Sandra is comforting Ashley in Intensive Care.  Sandra has not left Ashley's bedside since we entered the hospital at 4:30am, December 3rd.  Ashley has pneumonia, she is intubated and on a ventilator.  I marvel at her strength and positivity.  She makes friends with every care giver in intensive care. No one gets away without being fully human. Sandra will love you until your walls melt. Sandra’s boundless energy brings bright light to everyone in the hospital.

Ashley continues to improve and Sandra continues to shine her light on Ashley, our family and everyone in her world. Sandra reminds me every day that the greatest among us are not the brilliant, not the most innovative or the wealthiest or most creative. The brightest lights in humanity are the kindest. Sandra shines her light through a beacon of kindness.


The seasons come and go.  Spring brings us flowers breaking through the thawing ground.  Summer warms all life.  Even the days too hot for comfort serve to grow living things. 
 Fall invites decline and letting go.  Even though we want to hold on, the laws of nature loosen our grasp.  Winter asks us to rest.

When we have awakened to the truth that we are all one in love

I have lived long enough to see
hate fade from the eyes of men and women as they are forgiven

I have lived long enough to see
men and women of difference holding hands in similarity

I have lived long enough to hear
the one song that we all sing as we recognize our unity in the Divine

I have lived long enough to experience
men and women so committed to love they would choose to die before bing unkind

I have lived long enough to see
hatred fade from the eyes of men and women when they are aware 
that they cannot hurt another without also hurting themselves

Our birthright gifts...

I continue to learn that deep within us is a beautiful well of compassion and empathy.  Our everyday acts of kindness and generosity are ripples of the deeper underground well of shared humanity and love.  I believe much of humanity is waiting for someone to give them permission to reveal the depth of their love.

This is our time.  We are called to increase compassion and empathy in our world.  "Survival of the fittest is not the only law in nature." - Mark Nepo.  Darwin's theory of evolution tells us we must adapt to survive.  Flexibility, adaptability: the heart and soul of being human.  Now we are being called to reveal our deepest humanity.

We must be willing to be fully human.  We must be willing to be authentic, transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, and empathetic.

"Nothing anyone else can do to us is worse than what we do to ourselves by not being who we are, by not remembering our birthright gifts and using them in service of the community." - Parker Palmer

This is the deep miracle of humanity.  We must be willing to use our birthright gifts to serve the world.  Our birthright gifts are love, kindness, generosity, courage, compassion and empathy.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  
We are spiritual beings having a human experience." - Teilhard de Chardin

Educational Leadership

"What, if anything, about the way people are leading today needs to change in order for leaders to be successful in a complex, rapidly changing environment where we're faced with seemingly intractable challenges and an insatiable demand for innovation?" - Dr. Brene Brown

I have the privilege to work with outstanding educational leaders throughout the United States.  As I interact with Superintendents, Principals and teacher leaders, I find that many of them have the skills needed to deal with today's challenges.  One dear friend, a Principal whom I admire greatly, refers to herself as the "lead learner" in her school.  What a wonderful awareness.  We are all lifetime learners.  Either we are busy learning or we are busy dying.  The willingness to learn, grow and be vulnerable including being able to admit "I don't know the answer, but let's work together to find it."

I find that the educational leaders I love working with are courageous.  They are deeply committed to the growth and well-being of everyone for whom they care for and lead. "Every single employee is someone's son or someone's daughter.  Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives." - Bob Chapman

I also find that courage being modeled when educational leaders tell their story.  When we tell our story, we empower others to do the same.  We realize we are not the only one.  We realize we are not alone.  We are connected by our common humanity.

I feel that educational leaders have the courage and skill to give specific, descriptive, observable feedback to those they lead.  This feedback offers opportunity for growth and development.

Educational leaders also speak their truth.  When new agendas and mandates with short time lines erupt, they speak to the fears and challenges that they and their staff feel.

Educational leaders model trust.  They work at building relationships and building community.  They listen to different perspectives.  They seek to understand and work towards empathy.  "Trust profoundly impacts performance by providing the foundation for effective teamwork and intrinsic motivation." - Dr. Paul Zak

Educational leaders acknowledge, affirm and celebrate the hard work of the educators who devote their lives to children.

Educational leaders show value and appreciation to everyone on their staff.  As one dear Superintendent friend once said "We love our staff and students when we hold them accountable."

Educational leaders welcome diversity.  They celebrate inclusion.  They understand having hard conversations about differences enriches our community and builds everyone's trust.

When something goes wrong, educational leaders take responsibility and they make every effort to make it right. 

As I continue to assess myself on a daily basis and continue to learn from all the educational leaders I am blessed to work with, I find that I need to continue to find the courage to be vulnerable and speak my truth and listen to your truth.  I need to remain true to my core values of love and commitment.  I need to continue to trust and forgive when trust is broken and trust again.

I need to rise up again and again and again.

The time is now!

Everything depends on the choices we make now.

Now is the hour.
Now is the time.

We need to take responsibility
We need to stand up
We need to answer these essential questions

Are you living a life that serves others?
Are you doing things that bring health and healing to the world?
Are your relationships healthy?
Are you growing?

It is time to speak your truth
It is time to create community
It is time to listen
It is time to understand

Be Kind

Do not look to the world for leadership
Look inside yourself

You are the leader!
Stand up
Speak your truth
The time is now!

- Adapted from a Hopi Elder

Connection and Community are essential to our well being

In the past 5 years I am finding more adult students in our masters courses and Professional Development programs are genuinely excited to be invited into an authentic community building experience.

Psychology and physiology tell us we need each other to be healthy and thrive.  We need true community for health and happiness.  We gather to celebrate our shared humanity and we gather to heal our shared wounds. 

Community and connection promote health while "isolation fosters stress, disease and death.  Social isolation is as dangerous as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of exercise." - James House, University of Michigan

Connection and Community are essential to our well being.

Fear and Loving

I am aware there are two distinctly different sides of my being.  There is the fearful side that moves away from what I do not understand and there is the loving and welcoming side that invites what I do not understand to come closer so I can learn and grow.

The fearful part of me looks for safety, security, consistency, and normality.  The open and loving part of me preaches trust, kindness, compassion and empathy.  The fearful part of me needs constraints and walls.  The loving part of me needs connections and relationships. 

I have had moments when my fear turns to anger.  In this anger fueled fear, I want to protect, run and hide, and sometimes fight.  I am grateful that my life has been filled with more moments of welcoming, trust, compassion, wonderful new learning, teamwork and community building.  This interdependence is creative, innovative and forgiving.  I pray to "be the change you want to see in the world." - Gandhi

I pray for the courage to trust when I am afraid.
I pray for the ability to listen when I don't understand.
I pray for the willingness to connect when I feel alone.
I pray for the building of bridges when I am surrounded by walls.

What really matters?

"What we do when our arm is raised, about to strike or soothe, will determine the next hundred years." - Mark Nepo

"We are one gesture away from being the cruelty that we have suffered or one kindness from helping each other heal." - Mark Nepo

We need to ask ourselves, what really matters?  We need to ask each other, what is essential?  We then must lovingly challenge each other to live the answers.  We must lean towards each other.  As we lean into each other, we create a support system that nurtures our common core beliefs.  The common core beliefs of life and community have always held human kind together.  Humanity always comes together in tragedy.  Great loss brings great love.

We are more alike than we are different.  "We are hardwired for connection." - Brene Brown.  Life teaches us to contribute to the good of the whole.  In isolation, we die.  In unity, we live.

In our human DNA there is empathy, compassion, collaboration and respect.  These characteristics are essential to our humanity.

As we repair the world, we repair ourselves

As we repair our personal worlds, we repair our wounded world

Together we heal

Cutting edge physics teaches us that there is no, single privileged point of view.  No single perspective holds the entire truth.  When we hold fast to a single point of view, we are damaging and often disrespectful.  Life is a unified whole.  We can only come to truth through relationship, connection and the willingness to understand other points of view.  

Einstein's theory of relativity and the core of all spiritual beliefs teaches that we are more together than alone.  We need to start to live the truth of our connection.  We need to recover the desire to build community.  We need to heal!  We must gather together in community to heal our social and emotional wounds.  


"The best portion of a good man's life, his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." - William Wordsworth

Moments.  Our life and all that is meaningful is made up of moments.  Moments of saying hello or good morning to strangers passing on the street.  A smile to someone who looks troubled.  A breath of fresh air on a cool day.  Sharing a laugh with an acquaintance.  Holding your loved ones hand in a grip that feels exquisitely familiar.  Smelling your loved ones hair and remembering.  All our human moments.  These are the moments I will remember when it is time to leave this life.  

Let us all make more moments.  Before we engage in business, let's ask about family and health.  Let's give compliments to those who serve us every day.  Take nothing or no one for granted.

Be aware of all the moments that have touched your life.  Our values and core beliefs help us create new moments.  Let us all create new moments full of meaning and joy.

We can only find love and acceptance in each other

Everyone in this world is looking for love and acceptance.  Everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.  Everyone is stumbling through life with as much courage and integrity as they possibly can.

I continue to learn that our attitude towards our fellow humans can not be to judge or condemn.  No matter how much they have hurt me, no matter how painful their mistake, I need to remember, if they knew better, they would have done better.

"Father forgive them for they know not what they do." - Jesus Christ

Most of my judgements or condemnations are assumptions.  Whenever I am emotional and judgmental, I feel myself becoming physically and emotionally unhealthy.  We can not hold someone down in our hearts and minds without going down with them. 

I find that after a period of judgement, I must discipline myself to remember the good.  I must remember when I was forgiven and the grace I felt after receiving someone's open hearted forgiveness.  Someone was willing to accept my faults and see the best version of me.  I need to extend the same gift. 

We can only find love and acceptance in each other.  
We are all doing the best we can with what we know.

In each individual is the seed of Divinity. 

Sandra and Ashley

Sandra and I have been married for 40 years.  On of my favorite things to do is sit next to her on the couch and hold her close.

I have watched in awe as Sandra has cared for Ashley, our special needs daughter, for the past 35 years.  Ashley's initial diagnosis in the first few months of her life was "severely, profoundly retarded."  I know that term is no longer politically correct.  It is however the language that pierced our hearts 35 years ago.  Ashley is developmentally 2 months old.  She cannot move her body.  She can not speak.  She is tube fed.  She has on average 4 seizures a day.  She needs medicine 4 times a day.  She needs oxygen and suctioning often and she must have her diaper changed a few times a day.

My wife Sandra is a saint to our daughter.  Ashley is an angel.  I do not write these words figuratively.  I mean them literally.  I have been witness to this unconditional, divine love for 35 years.  Sandra and I were told early in Ashley's development "she will never be normal."  "She will never be successful."  "She will never be useful or productive."  "She will never meet any societal standards."  Through Sandra's love and Ashley's divine presence, we have risen above the limiting beliefs and cruel diagnosis that would make someone feel less valuable and invisible.  We have been blessed to participate in a Divine reality of unconditional love.  Ashley is a very precious soul.  She has profound value in her quiet, peaceful existence.  She is cherished by Sandra and I and our extended family and friends.  She is cherished as a precious child of God.

To be in Ashley's presence, you feel close to God.  There is a palpable unconditional loving presence.  When you are in the presence of a soul who does not know judgement, who values you solely for who you are, not what you do, you can be fully authentic.

There is a blessed freedom that we feel when we can be our true self.  You feel that freedom, blessing, and grace in Ashley and Sandra's presence.

"It's just business"

This is the biggest falsehood in human interaction

Business is human interaction

Business is winning and losing
Business is growing and declining
Business is acquisitions, mergers, transitions, closures

Trust is an essential ingredient in human business and human interaction
To earn trust, we must extend trust
We must believe in the goodness of people
We must lead with our hearts as well as our heads

"Every single employee is someone's son or daughter.  Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives." - Bob Chapman

A successful business- is not just business- it is a family.  We need to treat people like family, not as employees.  We are in a relationship and relationships are the essence of human growth and development.

We need to rebuild schools- not as a business- but as a family.

We need to rebuild schools, that have as their highest priority, the care of human beings.


No matter what country we originated from, no matter what our skin color, no matter what or whom we pray to, no matter what language we speak, we all want to be respected, cared for, acknowledged and valued.  Beneath all of our fear and shadow, we are at our core, kind.  We have more in common than we are different.  We all need connection.  We all want to belong.  We all want to be understood.  We all need to be loved.

I am committed to caring for every life that enters my life.  I am committed to keeping my heart open.  I am committed to transparency, vulnerability, authenticity, gratitude, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness. 

I am committed to speaking my truth.  I am committed to listening to your truth.  I am committed to getting back up when I fall.  I am committed to helping you up when you fall.

I am committed to "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for All."

Soft Skills

People often reference Social Emotional Learning (Emotional Intelligence and Social Skills) as soft

I find this minimizing and disrespectful.

The so called soft skills are in effect the Essential skills of being a human being.

The Essential human skills have transformed humanity from prehistoric fight or flight beasts to the infinite possibilities of today.

The Essential skills have helped us survive every war and helped negotiate every peace.

The Essential skills helped humanity end slavery and apartheid.

The Essential skill help us care for the environment and each other.

These are the skills of Jesus, Buddha, St. Francis, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa.  

These are the Essential skills of forgiveness, gratitude, kindness, connection, courage, compassion, empathy, understanding, serenity, and love.

These are the Essential skills needed to be fully human.

Communication, Communion, Community and Unity

This past week I had the privilege to work with an old friend and 70 educators on the topic of communication.  The word communicate has its origin in the latin commun; meaning "common."  Ideally, when we communicate, we share our understanding of what we have in common.  The word communion shares the same origin.  In communion, we have a shared experience.  The word community also has its roots in the latin word commun.  Community contains the word unity.  Human evolution and human possibilities are reflected in each of these words.

We need to focus on what we have in common.  We need to seek understanding so we can find common ground.  We need to look for opportunities to experience communion.  I believe these actions and intentions will lead us to building community.  In this process, we will experience unity.

Our great ancestors survived because they cared for one another.  We are part of a great legacy of bonding together for survival.  Fear used to bring us together to stay safe in our caves with our clans.  Now fear creates hate which tears us apart.  There is no security in racism, sexism, bullying or harassment.  Security will never be formed in separation.  The only safe and sane responses to challenges of our time are Communication, Communion, Community and Unity.

"Community Unity Mural" - by F. Michelle Santos - Baltimore, MD


Disrupt the cycle of anger, hatred, and violence

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Martin Luther King Jr.

If we meet anger, hatred, and violence with a similar response than we are a part of the pain that this creates.  We need to listen with a sincere intention to understand.  This process of leaning into the unknown and seeking to understand will disrupt the intensity of discord.

I grew up in the 50's and 60's with a Father who taught me about equity and justice.  I listened as he acknowledged and affirmed my first mentor, my little league baseball coach. Mr. Bell was a African American man, who was a role model of citizenship, respect, trust, caring and responsibility. He was my first hero next to my Dad.  In a time of a segregated lunch counters, I listened and read as my Dad wrote an editorial in our local town newspaper about how he respected and cared for Mr. Bell and how happy he would be, if he could not be my father, that Mr. Bell would be the father he would have chosen for his son.

My father was a small part of the civil rights movement in my little town in New Jersey.  We can disrupt the cycle of racism, anger, hatred, and violence by letting our humanity come shining through.  We need to listen, speak and act with compassion, understanding, and love for all humanity.


"Today, it's all about WE."

"We live in a world where everything is connected.  We can no longer think in terms of us and them when it comes to the consequences of the way we live.  Today, it's all about WE." - Gregg Braden

We must take our essential learnings of connection, authenticity, courage and compassion and apply them in the world.  The world begins in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, work places, states and country.  Fear is the source of anger.  Fear and anger undermine the essence of being human.  There is no scenario where anger works to anyone's advantage.  In fear, anger and violence, we all lose.

The survival of our world and of our lives will not be found in fear, anger and hatred.  The loudest voice does not always win.  We need to recall our existence depended upon, and still depends upon, our ability to cooperate.  We need to connect.  We need to listen.  We need to understand.

We need to stop looking through the eyes of fear.  We need to stop our obsession with us versus them.  We are here together.  Billions of us on this round blue ball.  In my unconditional loving God there is a welcoming, accepting spirit.  We are all one with different expressions of God's exquisite uniqueness.  We can touch the world instantly.  We can show love by a look, a gesture, a smile, a handshake, a hug, a phone call, an email, a tweet, a snap and a text.  We can also show love by being quiet in prayer and meditation.  Breathe a message of love and change the world.


Since my career as an educator and human services professional began at age 20, I have always been blessed to work with people younger than I am.  In the past 46 years, I have worked with talented, passionate people who are often younger in years but not in wisdom.  Wisdom for me has never been at the top of the graduate school hierarchy.  It has always been in the heart, soul and body of each individual life story.

I find joy in connecting young and old; in finding answers to social and educational challenges.  The energy is abundant and effervescent.  I believe we need to join together to address our shared responsibility for the future.  Together, we are the future.  We are our future.

I love mentoring young adults.  Mentoring is a two way street.  This mentality allows us to inspire the best in each other.  I love helping people find their voice.  There is great reward and meaning in sharing the authenticity and vulnerability of our voice.  As mentors, we have the honor and privilege to create a safe and emotional space for a young voice to blossom and feel its truth.

In young voices are sounds of hope.  We need the sound of hope, now!  I am inspired by youthful voices.  I am inspired by hope.  We need to be inspired, now!

We must knock down all of our perceived walls of difference and 
meet together in a safe emotional space.  
From this safe space, we will create wisdom.


Sanctuary in it's original meaning, is a sacred place.  It is historically seen as a place of relief and safety.  In challenging times, people have often sought physical and emotional safety.  We live in those challenging times now.

Sanctuary is essential to life.  Sometimes I find it in the pages of a book.  Often I find it in a meditation, prayer, and the loving listening of a friend.  I always find sanctuary in the loving arms of my wife Sandra and the loving presence of our daughter Ashley.  Seeking sanctuary is not optional.  Today we are often overcome by rushing, pressure, stress, us versus them, hate speech, racism, and sexism.  We all need sanctuary to recover from the oppression of violence.

Here is a beautiful song by Carrie Newcomer "Sanctuary"



My life continues to be meaningful

I am blessed.  I love my life.  I am becoming old.  At 66, I don't mentally process as quickly and am slower at finding my beloved vocabulary.  My life is full of grace.  I am no longer graceful.  I fall down and I sometimes struggle to get up.  I get up, I rise because of the grace of God, I rise with the support of great therapists, I rise with the loving support of family and friends.

I still have some fears.  I still fear the passing of our special needs daughter.  I feel the fear when I can not find Sandra.  I know how blessed I am to be alive.  Many people I know have not made it to my age.  I love the viewpoint from my late 60's. 

I have no interest in fighting against aging.  Aging is a natural state of human growth and development.  I actually find some joy in saying "I am getting old."  I am still making connections, I am still building relationships, I am learning and I am still creating.  I particularly love connecting with young, passionate, caring minds.  I think our relationship benefits both the young and the old.  My life is a blessing, my life is a vocation.  I feel called to do this Work.  My life continues to be meaningful. 



"To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now." 
- Fred Rogers

Our life experience is a limitless journey of practice and progress, not perfection.  We are all in relationship in this journey of making mistakes and learning.  We all have different life learning styles and we all learn our life lessons at different rates of speed.  We all must remember each of us is doing the best we can, with what we know at the moment.

I seek to lovingly accept you as you are in that moment.  Even though you may be different than me and hard for me to understand.  It would be easier for me if you were like me but it would be far less interesting and neither of us would grow or learn anything new.

Our relationships along life's journey allow us each to keep practicing.
Practice, practice, practice
Progress, progress, progress
Improvement, improvement, improvement

Pain can be a teacher in the process of growth

"All the world is full of suffering.  It is also full of overcoming."
- Helen Keller

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  
We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
- Teilhard de Chardin

Essential to our spiritual nature, we have within us the ability to rise above all challenge.  As human beings, we have felt pain, disappointment, loss and grief.  All these experiences teach us how to choose in the future.  What today is painful, tomorrow we can chose differently and grow.  Suffering is life reminding us we can make a change.

If a relationship is hurtful, we need to make a change.  If we are not happy about going to work, it is time to look for another option.  If our body or mind is in pain, it is time to make adjustments and get help.

Pain can be a teacher in the process of growth.

We are one sacred family

"Fear, pain and worry make us retreat, 
while great love and great suffering break down those barriers."
-Mark Nepo

Will we be a society, a culture, a people that lives in fear and pushes people away because we perceive them as different?  Can we be a society, a culture, a people that lives in great love and compassion and invites those we see as different to come close and teach us?
Will we be self-serving, in need of control and untrustworthy or can we be kind, generous, servant leaders who are trusting?
Fear tricks us into believing that retreating, protecting and excluding will keep us safe. Love welcomes and reminds us that we are one within our diversity. We are essentially more alike than we are different. 

"We are born whole but we need each other to be complete."
- Plato

We are here to connect. We are here to be a unique part of an infinite whole. It is essential to tell our story. It is equally essential to listen to the stories of others. When we share the vulnerability of our stories, we find that we are not alone.  Every human life is sacred. We are one sacred family. 

Join together

Jesus said "Wherever two or more are gathered together in my name, there I am."

I have been blessed to participate in a significant number of positive, pro active collaborations.  I have had the privilege of helping to create programs where Spirit was truly moving the effort forward.  When we are in alignment with "the still, small voice" we are a part of the healing process.  We are servant leaders when we join together and share our gifts, talents and authenticity.  This synergy brings love, strength and healing.

Join together in strength.  Join together in faith.  Join together in the belief that we are far greater together than we are alone.

Live life on purpose

The most effective way to achieve our goals and dreams is to live our life on purpose.  Fulfilling our sense of purpose and helping others to fulfill their sense of purpose.  When we are all focused on our sense of purpose, stress will be reduced and joy will be revealed.

"Our prime purpose in life is to help others" - Dalai Lama

"Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve your dreams" - Les Brown

How can we transform schools?

How can we transform schools?  How do we take standardized test oppressed educators and students to an experience where they all know they are cared for and each of their lives matter.

We need to see everyone, yes everyone, as a potential leader.  We need to inspire and recognize their passion, heart, commitment, and compassion.  We need to recognize and acknowledge the humanity and goodness of everyone in our school.

In my 45 years in education, I have found that if we take care of those we work with, they will take care of the work of teaching and learning.  If we let people know we genuinely care about them, they will let others know they care.

Trust is the core of successful school transformation.  We must give trust to get trust.

"They found one variable that had great explanatory power: they called it "relational trust," which I read as a synonym of "community."  If a school had high relational trust and/or a leadership core that worked on trust building, that school had roughly a 5 out of 7 chance of serving students better by the end of the decade."
- "The Heart of Higher Education" Palmer, Zajonc, Scribner, Nepo 2010, page 46

The children, parents, and educators of our nation are starving for positivity and authentic leadership in schools.  Everyone I meet in education is passionate to show their love for children and love of learning.

Long term meaningful change is not easy.  It is not fast.  We need to make a heart felt, soul-level commitment to children, educators and parents to do what is needed.  To do the right thing.  I believe the right thing is doing what is most human.  

Taking care of each other is most human.

What could have broken me, made me who I am

A spirit deep inside me has always invited me to do more, bounce back, keep going. I have come to know that spirit as my unconditionally loving God. Our special needs daughter, Ashley, has faced countless health and life crises. In each challenge, I found myself going deeper into prayer.  Even though frightened, I found myself meeting each new developmental and life challenge head on. I’m not good at avoiding. I am not good at compartmentalizing. In my life, everything is connected, everything is personal. In every crisis my family has faced with Ashley I found myself looking for the ring of light. Where is the hope? Where is the lesson? How can I be a better man?

Because Ashley is so physically challenged, my own internal challenges are revealed to me. I look at my own imperfections and I share my pain and vulnerability without shame.

Throughout Ashley’s 34 years, Sandra and I have looked for doctors, therapists and answers to help her heal. I now know that she is not here to be healed. She is the healer. This little special needs angel who is developmentally two months old, who cannot speak, who cannot make a conscious movement, who is tube fed and diapered. She is the healer. She is the grace of God. She has healed my life by her presence. Her unconditionally loving presence.

 I have learned that presence, Ashley‘s presence, is deep spiritual listening. She is totally open and vulnerable, she has no defense. She is beyond any thinking that makes sense. She is beyond cognition. I have needed to let go of old mindsets, of what is normal. We live beyond normal. We live, with Ashley in the mystical. We live in Grace. We live in love.

Building a School Family

Schools can change the lives of children and together educators and children can change the world. We must “fully embrace the responsibility of the lives entrusted to us.” - Bob Chapman

Every school and school leader has the responsibility to create a school family and community that keeps children physically and emotionally safe.  We must teach and model caring, forgiveness, gratitude, empathy, compassion, trust, respect, nurturing and love. When we hold ourselves and children accountable, that is an act of love.

We need to treat each staff member and each student the way we want our own precious children to be treated.

We need to build a school family and community where everyone wants to come every day. Where they will be nourished in mind, body and soul.

We need to find role models and mentors for ourselves, our staff, our parents and our students. Mentors that model the essential social and emotional skills for being a good human being.

We need to see the potential in everyone in our school family. We need to encourage and inspire our staff and students to develop their strengths and passions.

We need to respect our talents, similarities, challenges and differences.

We need to celebrate our diversity as a school family. We need to support each other in our diversity.

We need to be patient with those that are in pain and afraid of growth and change. We need to listen to their story and find out what has happened to them.

We need to help staff and students grow beyond our school family. Just like great loving parents, we need to give them roots and ways to grow. At some point, they will all leave us and we will know we have served them well.

We need to be real, authentic, vulnerable and courageous. We need to laugh together, cry together, talk it out, talk it through, and forgive and forgive and forgive.

Everybody Matters

“Every single employee is someone’s son or daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.” - Bob Chapman

As educators, our students are our children. We are all responsible for “their precious lives.” Educational leaders are likewise responsible for the “precious lives” of everyone on their staff.

Every day we must make the time to show our students, our colleagues, our support staff and our parents that we care and that they are important in our lives. We need to acknowledge their value and the positive impact  they have on our schools and on the lives of our children. We need to acknowledge educators for their patience, perseverance and passion. We need to acknowledge our support staff for their caring, consistency and compassion. I need to acknowledge our administration for their leadership, humility and faith in us. We need to acknowledge parents for their belief in us, their trust in us and in their love for their children. We need to acknowledge children for their effort, for their creativity and for their honesty.

We need to affirm and value every human life. We need to inspire and help them achieve their dreams. Our caring, affirmations and empathy can become contagious. This positive contagion will leave our classrooms, schools, families, community and world a little bit better.

What makes schools great is being human.

The secret to a successful teaching and learning experience is relationship.  Do we care?  Are we connected?  Is what I'm teaching meaningful and relevant to my student's lives?

What is essential in school and life is how we treat people.  How do we treat our students?  How do we treat our co-workers?  How do we treat our Administration?  How do we treat our custodian?  How do we treat our aides?  How do we treat our bus drivers?  How do we treat our cafeteria workers?  How are we showing value to everyone we come in contact with?  How are we showing kindness, compassion, and gratitude?

What makes schools great is being human.  
We must acknowledge people for what they do and most importantly, for who they are.


My beloved daughter Ashley is labeled "developmentally delayed."  When she was first diagnosed over 34 years ago at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the label was "severely, profoundly retarded."  Ashley has the physical abilities of a 2 month old infant.  She looks to me to be about 10 years old.  She can not speak.  She can not consciously move her body.  She is tube fed.  She is either in her "pink" wheelchair or in her bed.  She averages 4 seizures a day.  That is a good day.

Ashley is my role model.  She is pure, innocent, she has no defenses.  She can not say no, don't do that to me.  She can not raise her arm to protect herself.  She can love.  She can emulate love like an angel.  She is a gift from God.  One of my favorite things to do is pray and meditate with Ashley.  I find peace in her unconditionally loving presence.

It is because Ashley is so challenged and vulnerable, I have learned to openly share my challenges and vulnerability.  I reveal my own imperfections and share my frailties without shame.

Ashley draws people to her.  They approach with curiosity, gentleness, genuine caring and affection.  She has an innate wisdom that emanates from her as a loving, welcoming spiritual presence.  Her life has been a life of loving and being loved.

Ashley may be delayed developmentally but she is advanced spiritually.  
I find deep peace seeing the world through her innocent eyes.

The Right Thing is Kind, Respectful and Empowering

I truly believe that most human beings want to do the right thing.  I believe the right thing is kind, respectful and empowering.  We need to believe in each other's good.  We need to practice acts of kindness and gratitude.  Our wealth is in the spiritual.  Our spiritual wealth is unlimited.  It has no bounds.

The goodness of life, our spiritual wealth, belongs to everyone.  The goodness of life is inclusionary.  No one is left out.  The more good we give, the more good we receive.  We are all part of the whole.  We are all connected to the infinite.  Let our interactions be conscious of this Divine union.  Let us practice unity consciousness until it is manifested in our daily lives. 

Kindness is not a luxury, it is a necessity

Practicing kindness is good for our psychology and good for our physiology.  Practicing kindness is good for the recipient and good for the giver.

Dr. David Hamilton shows in his research that human beings are hard wired to be kind, and our physical bodies are at their peak of health when we practice kindness.  It has been repeatedly proven that our bodies respond to, and need kindness.

"Being kind actually changes the internal biochemistry of your body." - Dr. David Hamilton

Kindness increases our positivity and leads to better physical health and inward happiness.  

Our survival as human beings has historically and continually been dependent upon the kindness of others.  Human beings survive because we are kind and because we show kindness.  Kindness is a matter of common sense.  By practicing kindness, we ensure our benefit and the benefit of our loved ones and community.  Our health and happiness is inherently connected to the health and happiness of others.  

Cruelty and violence make the news headlines because they are the exception.  The world evolves because we take care of each other.  Compassion after natural tragedies proves life goes on precisely because we are kind to each other.

Kindness is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

What qualities of God do you possess?

Jesus taught the truth of love and forgiveness.  He also taught that we are intimately connected to Divinity.  God is always with us.

Each of us are a gift from God.  Let us reflect the qualities of Jesus, who is one of the great teachers of humanity.  What God given qualities that Jesus possessed do you also possess; love, forgiveness, belief, truth, trust, empathy, compassion, healing, passion, courage?  Where do you feel most connected?

We are all expressions of Divinity.  As we let our highest self shine through, others will feel our compassion, forgiveness and kindness. 

Love will be our legacy.

When we recognize the qualities in God that we admire, we recognize our own qualities or our potential.


Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet which still clings to the heel that crushed it.
- George Roemisch

Forgiveness is one of the essential human social, emotional skills.  In my experience, it includes humility and acceptance of my very human frailties.  I am aware of my ability to make a mistake and I need to remember that those who have hurt me, are also human, and make mistakes.  

As I learn and practice forgiveness, I offer understanding and freedom to those that have injured me and I offer freedom to myself.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
- Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness sets us free to accept the situation that happened, to let go of past hurt and anger.  Forgiveness sets us free to focus on our future, our dreams and our passions.

I pray that my behavior is consistent with my core values of love, compassion, empathy and integrity.  I want to continue to live my life on purpose, serving God and the children and educators of our schools.  I want to continue bringing down walls and building bridges.

Self Reflection

I love self reflection.  This humble assessment is the beginning of growth and development.  When we focus internally, we find the reason we were born.  Our purpose is to serve.

"The only journey is the one within."
- Rilke

"In fact, my soul and yours are the same.  You appear in me, I in you.  We hide in each other."
- Rumi

"I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."
- Bible

We walk together when we walk with God.  We are all connected to Divinity.  Move with reverence for all life.  Build and rebuild relationships.  Rejoice, every face you see is the face of God.

Serve Others

I find that to retain and or build my belief in myself, 
it is important to help others build their belief in themselves.  

If you wish to experience joy, 
help others experience joy.

If you wish to experience acceptance, 
then be accepting of those that are different than you.

If you wish to feel forgiveness, 
then be forgiving.

If you wish to feel safe and secure, 
then help others to be safe and secure.

If you want to feel valued, 
then help others to be valued.

If you want to experience friendship, 
then be a good friend.

If you want to be at peace, 
then help others find peace.

If you want to be loved, 
then give love.

Whatever we want for ourselves, 
we must help others find the same.

Neuroscience Supports Social Emotional Learning

Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist, has integrated neuroimaging research into a unified theory of the happy brain.  Davidson explains that there are 4 independent brain circuits that influence our lasting health and wellness.

The first circuit is "our ability to maintain positive states."  Spiritual teachers like the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu say that love and compassion is the way to happiness.

The second brain circuit is responsible for "our ability to recover from negative states."  This supports the work of resiliency which is flourishing in our school programming.

The third circuit is "our ability to focus and avoid mind wandering."  This is mindfulness, meditation, and contemplation.  Our friends Brain Aikens, Jessie McFarland and Josh Gansky are teaching children and adults this essential skill and it clearly impacts health and well-being.  Neuroscience proves the ability to focus attention is fundamental.

The fourth circuit is "our ability to be generous."  This is wonderful and powerful.  We have an entire circuit in our brain devoted to generosity.  We feel good when we are kind, loving and giving.  We also feel good when we are treated with kindness, love and generosity.  We also know those that witness kindness, love and generosity also feel healthier and happier.

Neuroscience proves, as human beings, we are hardwired for compassion, generosity, love and resiliency.

- Adapted from "The Book of Joy" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2016

Relationships and their teachings

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not twist them to fit our own image.  Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."
- Thomas Merton

Relationships teach us everything about life.  We soar, we fall, we love, we anger, we find truth and betrayal, we are compassionate and we can be cruel.  I believe we must continually open the door to our hearts and minds to learn and to heal.  Every lesson teaches, every lesson transforms.  Spirit teaches us.  We are all one.  We are all beloved.


If you see someone being courageous, let them know.  They might be moving through a tremendous amount of doubt and challenge.  If you see someone being compassionate, let them know.  They may be coming through a time of sadness or loss.  When we reach out and share our love we help others see how lovable they truly are.  Kindness is the strongest cure.

Kindness is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.  Bright and warm as the sun, it melts the ice and snow of betrayal, anger, hurt and distrust.  Kindness is the antidote to broken relationships.  When we have been hurt and wounded, as we repair, we are best served by being kind.  When given an opportunity to recommit, speak with kindness.  When attempting to let go and move ahead, act with kindness.  With kindness, we start to soften.  With kindness, we see perspective.  With kindness, we can stand in our truth.  With kindness, we can claim our integrity.  With kindness, we become one.

Everyday is your Birthday

Today is a special day.  Today we honor a singular event in the history of the world.  Your birth brought love and kindness to the world.  Your life has blessed hundreds of other lives.

Today is your birthday.  Choose how you wish to celebrate.  Dance and sing with joy or peacefully give thanks.  Do whatever is meaningful to you.  Do whatever brings you joy.

You are a gift.  Your unique talents, skills and visions make a difference in the world.  You are a rare and beautiful gift from God.  You have touched many lives and the world is a bit better because you are here.

Thank you for your courage.  Thank you for accepting the challenges of life.  Every time we are vulnerable and authentic, we give others permission to be courageous and do the same.  This is freedom.  This brings us close to each other and close to God.

Today, count your blessings, who has loved and supported you?  What grace have you received?  What beauty have you seen?  What wisdom have you earned?  What strength have you garnered?

Thank God for your love, your life, your health and your happiness.  You are blessed.

Follow the still, small voice of spirit.  Follow your path.  Listen to your heart's desire.  Believe in yourself as God believes in you.

"Let me keep surrendering myself until I am utterly transparent." - Psalm 19, Stephen Mitchell translation

I strive to stay open, be authentic, be real.  In staying open, we are choosing to be vulnerable.  Brene Brown reminds us that vulnerability is the birth place of human greatness.  Spirit asks us to be receptive.  By letting life in, we trust the process.  Life is continually building and breaking down and we are part of this process.  The challenge is staying open, renewing our trust and being transparent.  I am still learning and that is the process of life.


Kindness Evolution

We are united.  
I am in you, you are in me.  
When our egos are worn down, it is hard to tolerate narcissism.  
When humbled, it is a challenge to be around self centeredness.  
Our service to others burns away all elitism.  
Kindness is the next evolutionary norm.  
Giving and receiving in love transforms us.  
We are lovable, we are loving, and we all make mistakes.  
Mistakes are simply another opportunity to be kind to yourself and others.


The Work

It is not easy to stand in front of a group of people and share your heart.  It is not easy to be vulnerable and share your dream, and that is what I have always done.  

I will turn 66 in May.  My life has been a life of shared joy, passion and positivity with schools, teachers, students, administrators and parents.  I have shared my dreams and passion with anyone kind enough to listen.  Listeners in large auditoriums, lecture halls, and classrooms.  I have always done my best to answer the call.  Airplanes, trains, and automobiles and sometimes a good long walk.  If you asked, I was there.

I was a young man when this started.  Sharing a passion more ancient than my years.  I am an older man now, knowing that the "Work" still is not complete.  I am renewed everyday in the "Work."  Every face I've seen, every hand I have held, every heart I've touched is a part of me.

My message now comes from a place deep in my soul.  The Work comes from a place that has known decades of life and death.  The Work now comes from a place that only those courageous enough to be vulnerable and authentic understand.  The Work is always about compassion, courage, empathy, connection and service.

I have always loved the work.
I have always loved you; listener, student, friend.
I have always loved my friends.
I have always loved my family.
Somedays I am barely able to stand.
Most days I am thrilled to be able to walk.
I am still sharing the message.
I am still answering the call.
I am here with you, my voice, my heart, my soul.
After 45 years on the road, I am still here.
The road is long, dark, cold, ice and snow and long hours away from home.
I have never forgotten where I've been.
I am clear on where I am going.
Every speech, every class, every conversation is a step homeward.
My daughter has always been my angelic guide.
My sons continue to be my teachers.
My friends are always in my heart.
Sandra is my love.
I always find my way home.

Feel the Fear and Continue Living

Fear is an unwanted companion.  
He has taught me to be safe and he has also taught me to stop growing.

At every moment of my experience with pain, fear is there teaching both lies and truth.  In truth he reminds me how much I love this life.  I never want to lose my life and more intimately I never want those I dearly love to leave this life.  I cannot imagine life without my beloved Sandra.  And the world would hold so much less pure love without my angelic Ashley.

As I face my fear, I have learned that in my most vulnerable moments, I am my most authentic.

When in the presence of pain or stress, it is easy to see everything as an opponent to be battled.  Sometimes we see the light in the form of the cleaning lady entering your daughter's room in Intensive Care with a yellow flower in her hair and a sunny greeting in her voice.  It is then we know, in every instance we have choice.

See the pain, see the stress 
or see the blessing and feel the grace. 

We must face the fear and move forward even as we tremble.  We must feel this moment and know that this is only one moment in a great universe of truth.  The truth that is filling us, moving us forward, infusing us with courage, so we can stand in the light of a greater, more loving truth.

What is essential?

The challenges of life have moved me to dislike small talk.  I am only interested in what is essential.  In the past, my focus and authenticity has frightened some people.  Now in my 60's, I ask what is essential and others seem drawn to the essence of my question.  They see the light through the conversation.

The dialogue of what is essential is how we learn and love each other.

We are transformed through the story of connection and compassion.

I am blessed to share my life with Sandra.  I am in awe of her compassion, empathy, caring and courage.  As she sits by our daughters bedside in Intensive Care, I am humbled by her unconditional love.  I thank God everyday for the grace and blessing that is Sandra.

Everyone she touches is enhanced.