Making the Most of Time


Last spring I figured I needed a fresh motivator to get more active in my day to day.  My previous running routines have long gone by the way-side. The demands of life with three little kids and nagging injuries have been the main factors in this regard.

I needed a boost.

So I got my hands on a new gadget: a Jawbone UP Move, the entry level unit for devices that track steps, sleep, specific, timed activities, etc.   It’s the baseline example of wearable technology that’s hit the market now with the goal of making our lives more active, and giving us access to the data to motivate.

The UP device is pretty cool.

But it is the device’s clock got me thinking.  Part of why I chose the UP Move actually was because of the clock.  If I don’t have a watch on and am not around a clock otherwise, I like being able to check the time where-ever and whenever I need to. I’ve got the UP Move with me all the time, so it works well.

But if you’re a stickler, the built-in clock isn’t all that great.  You can’t count the seconds, or even the minutes, really. That had me thinking. “Shift from counting every minute to making every minute count.”

Here’s the paradigm:  Life = Responsibilities = Time

Time until work.

Time at work.

Time until I’m off work.

Time until that deadline.

Time for lunch.

Time until the next meeting.

Time to go home.

Time left in the game.

Time until the kids go to bed.

Time to mow the lawn or do the laundry.

Activity trackers are cool stuff to help us to be more active.

Yves Behar & Jony Ive have very successful visions of incorporating cool technology products with the aim of making our lives better.  Behar is the design guy behind the UP products from Jawbone.  Ive is the Chief Designer at Apple.

The more people (consumers) buy in and see results from using devices from Apple and Jawbone (among others), the more successful these guys are and the more successful their companies are.

But it’s the RESULTS that matter. Getting the most out of every minute.  Even if you get nothing tangible from it.

“Time is the most precious commodity we have.  I’m spending a lot of time doing this [whatever ‘this’ is]. That’s serious. But I don’t take myself too seriously.”  That’s healthy. That’s GOOD.  What’s better?  Making the most of our TIME.

Friday Faves, Issue #19


Quicker than you can say, Ho Ho Ho!” here’s a special Christmas edition of the Friday Faves. Bite-size and tasty like a holiday sugar cookie, hot and fresh for you this week.  ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:  The historic birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, in present times a Palestinian town in the West Bank:  Bethlehem

Quote of the Week: “…and they shall call him Immanuel…”

Band of the Week:  Not a band this week, but rather a epic Christian holiday musical work from two hundred and fifty years ago, Handel’s Messiah. Good background music for work this time of year.

Meal of the Week:  Savory, yummy, anytime meal for the winter months in the north, especially during the holidays! Buckwheat Crepes ~

Website of the Week: First there was Jesus, then their was Ignatius and then there was the Society of Jesus and Ignatian Spirituality ~


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, good or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend, and Merry Christmas!

Daughters: Let Them Shine


When my daughters were born I realized my mission as a dad was suddenly a lot more dynamic than I’d imagined it would be. While I’ve always respected and gotten along with women, and felt that I understand them pretty well (as best I can, being a man) raising girls was a reality I hadn’t considered.

There’s been plenty published by authorities on the subject of the effect and influence fathers in particular have on daughters. I’ve taken a lot of that information to heart. But when I see either of my girls, all those ideas and concepts and philosophies boil down to this:

I want to teach my girls to be thoughtful, grounded, strong, resilient, loving, and fearless. When they set their mind to something, I don’t want anything but their level of desire, ability, and commitment to be a barrier to realizing their goals and being true to what they believe.

I want their true selves to shine through, to be just what they discover themselves to be, where their dreams are their only limitation. As they grow into women, I want them to feel they are always supported to be who they truly are, the best they can be.

It starts with me to help them shine.

Don’t Be Afraid of a Nibbled Doughnut

  We face it all the time as parents of little kids. A plate of food barely touched, a doughnut with the sprinkles and frosting eaten away but little else.
What to do? People are starving all over the world. Refugees are on the move fleeing war. And here’s this lightly nibbled pastry.

The answer? If you’re like me, it’s going to include figuring out how to repurpose that snack, dress it up (or just chop it up) to make it tasty-looking enough to gobble down.

This approach will serve you well not just with in-eaten food, but with weekend afternoons gone sideways, evenings where you have little control, generally dealing with things you didn’t expect when the kids are involved. 

The key is to not lose your cool, adjust, and make the best of it. And gobble down that doughnut. It’s still pretty tasty. 


We’ve been at it for a while. The oldest is nearly five years old, the middle one is three, the youngest will be two in a couple months.

With all the holiday (and usual weekend) prep activities today, coupled with a particularly needy son today, this mantra came to mind.  I’m going to use liberally.

“I am with you, will support you, and pick you up when you fall, but I am not going to carry you.”

Seems to me this could be useful with a every age person really, not just little people. I sure could have used this notice when I was a kid. Then again, maybe I got it, in so many words.

One thing’s for certain. I want my kids to be resilient, and still loving, as soon as possible. Not sure the measure, but the objective is clear.

Be ready to love, to give, to rally, and get up when you fall. You have a support group that’s with you, but you have to do the work on your own.

It’s the only way live.

Friday Faves, Issue #18

Another edition of Friday Faves, served up to share the muse, and motivate YOU to have a super weekend.  ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:  Zaria is a city in northern Nigeria.  Why should you care?  Because there’s more in the north of that country than Muslim extremists.  Check it out.

Quote of the Week“Never Give Up!” is the simple, profound message of encouragement written in three-foot letters on the side of a church I pass by periodically.  It motivated this piece on overcoming difficulty and finding the spark to move forward.

Band of the Week:  Matchbox 20 was only the beginning. Rob Thomas has a lot more to offer.  He’s worth listening to. And pay attention to the lyrics. QUALITY.

Meal of the Week:  The latest craze in the coffee world.  Not a meal, but more fundamentally, fuel to get after it. Cold Brew.

Website of the Week: One of the many resources out there for dads, motivation to set up and be GREAT. After all, encouragement is something we all need.


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome. Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy Twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Have a fine weekend!

3 P’s: Pain, Purpose, and Progress

walking in the wind

There’s a sign in three foot letters on the side of a church I pass by frequently.  It says “NEVER GIVE UP.”  I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve written elsewhere about the value of accepting and thus transcending the fact that life is difficult.  The idea is, once we accept this statement to be true, it’s no longer an obstacle to overcoming the challenges that inevitably come our way every day.

Last week when I was out on my morning circuit, three other words came to mind:  “Pain. Purpose. Progress.”   Individually, we understand these three words as they are presented.  However, within these “three P’s” together lie additional insight to the idea of accepting difficulty, transcending it, and moving forward.

Pain:  I’ve had chronic knee pain for some time.  Lately it’s been in more in my right knee.  The light running I’d been doing in the morning with the dogs is now reduced to a brisk walking pace.  But there’s still pain.  My left knee gives me periodic trouble too, the result of repeated injury and ACL reconstruction many years ago.  All that aside, I force myself to get out and go every morning (workdays, at least).  Why?

Purpose:  As I’ve gotten older, the aches and pains I’ve heard about associated with middle age and made fun of by many  a comic have definitely come true.  While I’m not a great athlete, I’ve nearly always been active. I know that if I don’t move it, I’m going to lose it.   I have a purpose in staying active, and that’s to stay healthy.   I know I’m better off when I’m active.  It helps my body, and my mind.

Progress:  At the core, it’s about making some sort of incremental improvement, that’s feeds the twin, underlying goals I have:  To make some progress, feeling better physically, and mentally, even if only a little.  That progress is at the root of my effort.

I’ve been here before.  Chronic pain is an old friend.  If you think about it, it’s an old friend to ALL of us.  We all have suffered some discomfort, many of us for prolonged periods of time.

Whether through illness, or injury (if we’re talking about physical pain), or emotional struggle and even depression due to difficulty in our life and relationships, we all have to deal with difficult times, with “pain” of some sort, during our lives.

At some point, rather than focus on the suffering, we have to focus on doing what’s within our power to mediate the cause(s) of that discomfort.  We have to take control of our own circumstance as best we can, and work to make it better.  Even if only in a minor way, by taking ownership of our situation, we take responsibility, and thus create a bit of dignity for our selves.

If we put these “Three P’s” together, they can become a motivator to keep moving forward.  Through the Pain, with Purpose, to make some Progress toward whatever goal we have in mind.  Through that very series of actions we’re sure to be better off.  It might not happen quickly, but it WILL happen.  NEVER GIVE UP.


Sublime Sunday

Sundays end up being a mix of chores and errands, with bits of pause and rest sprinkled in. The key is to make the most of the bits, while checking things off the list.

I wrote about making the most of the mundane a while back. More along the same track, finding the bits of sublime peace in the midst of the usual and the required is an important life skill to find happiness.

It’s really about acceptance and perspective: Accepting where you are in the moment, taking a fresh look, and finding something to smile about.

In the midst of laundry and dishes and cleaning up and prepping flank steak dinner in the slow-cooker, there’s plenty to smile about. It’s all about finding the joy where you don’t expect it, hiding behind the couch, or in an article you’ve stumbled upon, or maybe in the music on the radio. When you least expect it, joy can find you. You need only be open to it. 

And that’s it. Time to get a fresh coffee, and fold some laundry.

Friday Faves, Issue #17

Damp and dark to start the day here in California.  Perfect weather for a quick review of the Friday Faves. Warm and inviting, and ready for YOU.

Destination of the Week:  On the west coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sits Jeddah, ancient way station for traders and pilgrims. 

Quote of the Week: “I have take more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me.”  ~Winston Churchill

Band of the Week: These guys were early adapters in the MTV era, and it paid off:   The Cars

Meal/Food of the Week:  The humble, sneaky awesome cucumber These have become a staple at the house as we kick-start the efforts to snack on vegetables. Good for you too!

Website of the Week: A true pioneer in new thinking about philanthropically-geared organizations, Nuru International is blazing a new trail to end extreme poverty.  Promising results so far – more to come, no doubt.


REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome! LOVE to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse via that micro-blogging site:  my handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Insights: It’s What You Do With Them That Counts


The past three days have given me ample reason to be thankful yet again for the people around me.   Different people for different reasons gave me a measurable improvement in my outlook on several topics, and thus given me insights on which to take action.

That effort to Take Action is the crux of this post.

I talked with a new advisor on Friday and through that discussion gained some really important, new insights on understanding one’s self & relationships.  I concluded that conversation with some new perspective, and also homework, to study recent, ground-breaking literature to further inform my comprehension and more important, guide my future actions with a new, more complete approach to interpret others’ decisions.

Later that day, I played a round of golf with an old friend.  I was really looking forward to the time together, and it didn’t disappoint.  A web developer (among MANY other skill sets), my friend shared some valuable knowledge and again, “way of thinking” about the variety of purposes  websites have in branding, delivering content, and managing all aspects of the business therein.   I left the golf course with several thoughts to follow up on both in research and action.

The bonus from the convo with my friend was some of fresh perspective on parenting. He and his wife have two children a bit older than the three we have in our family.  The ideas and insights he shared about balancing activities with children, all the outside work that goes into supporting them (think sports, PTA, extra-curricular at school, etc.) really gave me a lot to think about as our oldest gets to school-age.

Finally, on Saturday I spent the evening with the Lions club I belong to as we held our Christmas party for the year.  We had a pretty good turn-out, and the fellowship and fun that was had (along with plenty of comfort food dishes, treats, and singing of Christmas carols)  was second to none.  It reminded me once again why I value that membership so much:  It’s a group of people that demonstrate time and again the benefit of collective altruism.

Not only do we have several programs and projects that follow the Lions Motto, “We Serve”, but we enjoy being together, across backgrounds and generations.   I went home from that event with a renewed commitment (and some new ideas too) about my role as one of the servant leaders of the club.

All together, the last few days have left me with a sublime sense of possibility.  The most important take-away is the underlying thread of “call to take action” that I feel.  I know it’s up to me to make my lists of new actions needed and then ACT to move things forward in my life, which in turn will positively effect other people’s lives.    The ideas are good, but as they say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Positive, measurable progress is needed through clearly-defined actions.

It’s up to me to take the first step, and stay after it.  Onward!