we are debating the wrong questions

Posted January 28, 2017 by Don W Strickland
Categories: The Good Life

Seriously, we are debating the wrong questions. We can not solve the problems we need to solve if our attention is in the wrong direction.

Wrong question examples:

– Who’s crowd was larger ?
– Did HRC get more votes ?
– Is HRC a bigger lier than DJT ?
– Should my state secede ?
– Are people that voted different from me [deragatory word] ?
– Were there millions of illegal votes ?
– Was Obama better (in whatever way) than POTUS DJT ?
– Is POTUS DJT better (in whatever way) than Obama ?

Here’s the thing, arguing about various things said, seen and some imagined, we are building walls rather than roads and bridges. We all see the infrastructure of our country failing, but we need to see that the infrastructure of our lives and relationships is crumbling.

Clearly there are many hard questions to answer, like the one(s) offered by Wynn below. Even valid questions can be polarizing if we let them, but a least it’s an important question.

While we argue about a wall between the USA and Mexico, regardless of how you feel about it, we are actually building an unpenetrable wall between us and people we love.

I literally have friends and family whom I find it harder to discuss life with than two months ago. Yesterday I watched on Facebook as a dear, life long, kind and brilliant friend went back and forth with his family member. My friend pleaded for a return to grace but the wall between them, a wall this election built, was already too great for his ‘opponent’ to see over or around. It made me cry a little.

+ Choose the questions you debate with great care.
+ Do not let the media or other agitators frame the questions.
+ Ask, is this a debate that deserves our focus?
+ Ask, even if I ‘win’ this debate, have I made life better?
+ Avoid debates for ‘principle’. We have real work to do.

Now for the hard part, ask someone with whom you are certain there is no common cause, no common ground; ask them to help you to start dismantling the walls we’ve built in 2016.

Perhaps start by giving them your respect, reminding yourself that people don’t normally seek fear. But do not, do not, approach others with contempt or arrogance or any form of disrespect. Stop all forms to telling others they are wrong.

This struggle we face in the USA today is not actually about religion, origins, genetics, jobs or politics. It is about attitude and respect. Find a way to dismantle your own fear and outrage. That is exactly what I plan to do going forward.

If you are reading this and think that I just ‘do not get it’, I beg you to friend me, pick an important question and let me buy you a sandwich or coffee. I don’t have very many answers, but I hope that two months from now I’ve removed some walls and built some roads and bridges.

Humbly and sincerely,


* As always edit correction tips are welcome. I am blind to my own errors.

unspeakable sadness

Posted January 9, 2017 by Don W Strickland
Categories: Parenting

In the cold dark morning on Jan 8, 2017, my dear strong friend answered his door to face officers deliverying unspeakable sadness. Bless those officers for the grace and kindness with which they performed this delivery.

His youngest daughter, only 21 years old, died that cold morning. MacKenzie Kaye McCulloch was sweet and strong and inspired those around her, just like her dad.

She is the fouth young adult lost by people dear to me in two months, three of them in vehicle accidents.

As a parent of three young adults myself I feel pain beyond words and at the same time know my pain is nothing compared to my friends.

My brain races while my heart aches and my eyes drip.

I know there are better words, but these are the words in me today, as my dear friend Neil and his sweet wife Sally drive hundreds of miles today with MacKenzie’s syblings. They could be expected to wither in grief and anger; but Neil will be strong, kind and full of grace and Sally will call on her superpower of support.

Do not LIKE this post.
Do NOT share it and demand that others do if they agree.
Do NOT correct me.
Do NOT tell me this is the will or plan of God.
Do NOT tell me time will heal.
Do NOT tell me you’ll send prayers or thoughts.

I know all these answer and more, but today they do not help. If these answers help you then hold them, but they do not help me.

Consider these sweet names. Consider their parents who selected these names and joyfully announced them to the world with hope and anticipation.

David, Ricky, MacKenzie, Sean, Elliot, Bobby, Joe, Tommy, Wade, Margaret, Brad, Dennis … and damn my frail memory for the names that escape me now.

– if you want to respond please just add a comment with a heart. <3

– if you know these parents, reach out to them and tell them you miss their child. When possible do that in person.

– if you want to add a name, please add their first name and the year they died.

To Neil & Sally
To Duwain & Barbara
To Paul & Lois
To Jerry & Mary Jane
and your families and friends,

Deep love to you and your house today, tonight and in the coming days. May unexpected grace provide you with rest each night and help you rise strong to face each morning. <3



Kids: clay to mold or surprises to discover?

Posted December 30, 2016 by Don W Strickland
Categories: Parenting, The Good Life

I have three kids and they are far more different than they are alike. Yes you can recognize bits of mom, bits of dad (me) and bits of each other. But if you only see those similar bits … well that’s just absurd right?

A friend recently said, “I’m trying to raise a Spartan”. I’ve heard that sentence both spoken and implied with many nouns at the end; doctor, lawyer, republican, democrat, person of * faith, genius, star, quarterback, goalie, graceful man, strong woman, writer, musician, artist, good American, free spirit, smarter than me, just like her mom, my successor, etc etc etc.

It’s clear that most parents think we are molding our children to become kids and then adults with certain ideals and ideas and characteristics.

Pause and think about that idea. Are your kids raw material to be molded by you? Does it make sense? Maybe Not?

IMPORTANT: This post is not about God or Country or any of the other ‘outside’ or ‘village’ influences. Whatever you think about those factors is true or not true independent of what I’m trying to say here about how parents frame their task of ‘raising their children’. Said another way, for the sake of this post, it actually does not matter what you feel about God or Country or other influences.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Feel free to dismiss this advice, particularly if it upsets you. I have NO credentials or authority other than I and my wife have three young adult children with whom we are mostly happy (sorry kids). This might have been super lucky so I’m not claiming to know it all.

My point is, if you are a parent (or step parent or any other variation of parent) I recommend you consider your children to be mysteries, surprise packages, amazing little unique people taking form before your eyes … rather than lumps of clay to be formed.

Stick with me here, I am NOT saying, just let them do what they will while you watch.

I am saying, spend at least as much energy discovering their unique characteristics as you do trying to define them. EVERY mother of twins will tell you stories about her twins’ differences. Discover and celebrate these unique characteristics!

You are in a race, from the first time you hold them, to 1) discover their unique characteristics 2) learn how to be the best possible parent for that unique child and 3) decide what you should encourage (lots), change (very little) and teach (mostly).

VERY IMPORTANT: You do not get to decide their unique characteristics. You must work with who and what they are.

EXAMPLE: One of my kids, as soon as they started playing with other kids demonstrated skills and desire to organize and direct. Sometimes this looked ugly as a characteristic in a child (manipulative, controling). But our challenge was to teach grace and respect rather than discouraging the built-in characteristic.

EXAMPLE: Two of my kids are musicians. However the details were different from the beginning and today I see those same differences years later. They are both excellent musicians but very different and I would absolutely not ask either of them to be more like the other. Although we exposed them to our love of music very early, neither I nor my wife molded them as musicians.

Those are just two examples of many characteristics simply discovered and encouraged. I am so thankful they are each so much more than we could ‘make them’. Frankly it’s more like we allow and assist our kids to discover and develop.

Your time to be their parent is much shorter than you think and every minute you spend trying to change something that is a characteristics is time lost that could have been spent encouraging or teaching.

What I am saying here, is like a parental serenity prayer

Grant us the serenity to accept the characteristics we discover,
Courage to develop the characteristics we can,
Patience to teach and encourage continuously,
Grace to respectfully correct or adjust only when needed,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Very little needs to be changed, far less than you think.

Mostly they need your help discovering their own characteristics and learning how to use them with love and respect for you and others.

I am pretty sure, the more we mold them like clay, the more we will make them like us. Is that REALLY what we want?

Listen more, talk less (this I say with authority)
Control less, follow more
Direct less, lead more
Expect more, demand less
Listen, Listen, Listen

Does this make sense? I sincerely hope so.
Sorry I didn’t know this sooner kids.


Parent with Jo Ann of Abigail, Conner and Benjamin


Fake Adobe Flash update notice

Posted August 18, 2016 by Don W Strickland
Categories: The Good Life

If you see this Adobe Flash update notice … JUST CLOSE the window. DO NOT CLICK those buttons.

I’ll explain more after I’ve had time to investigate.



a deep reflection of life

Posted August 17, 2016 by Don W Strickland
Categories: The Good Life

When I visited Abbi Hearne’s Facebook page last week,
Aug 8, 2016, 09:31 AM CT,
it was a deep reflection of life for me.

A photo by Ricardo Coronado of Austin graffit
A beautiful video by Hilary Oliver
A release announcement for “Live at Harvest” by the Swayze band
An ad for Sky Diving
A blog post by Abbi guiding adventurers

Love where you started
Wonder into the distance
Seek faith beyond understanding
Love others
Wage Peace
Go beyond your comfort
The world is watching


Deeply Greatful that Jo Ann, Conner, Ben and I call this woman ours.


To LGBT friends, colleauges and family

Posted June 12, 2016 by Don W Strickland
Categories: Uncatagorized

Today I grieve for lives lost in Orlando at the Pulse Club and their families and friends. I can not imagine your pain.

I do not know what to say, but I want to express compassion for my LGBT friends, colleauges and family. In particular I feel an ache for you who live daily hiding from those who do not accept you. Over the coming days, weeks and months I hope you find support and grace beyond your expectations.



Worst reason to believe Internet Bull Shit: Because you wish it was true

Posted October 6, 2015 by Don W Strickland
Categories: The Good Life

Most of my friends are parents of grown kids. Therefore most of them should still be able to recall how easy it was to tell when your young kids were not telling the truth.

Well, guess what, many of those tried and true tests also work for Internet Bull Shit.

1) Loud insistence: When a message heavily uses ALL CAPS it is either from a poor writer or a poor liar (or both). Just delete it.

2) Inflated ‘facts’: Remember how a kid’s story would often grow like Pinocchio’s nose. Well, next time you get an email warning, just do a Google search before you forward it. It has probably been around for years and you will find that more recent ‘updates’ get more and more sensational.

3) Pretty sure I’ve heard that one before: Remember how your kids would come home from school with a story that you’d heard before, perhaps slightly different, and long since learned it was false? If I really need to explain how this is also true about Internet Bull Shit … perhaps I’m wasting my time writing this post.

However, here’s a fabulous example of BullShitTest#3: These days people are telling me that Obama is using the same tactics used by Hitler when Hitler used Fear to rise to power. LMAO! The first time I heard that opinion, it was about a previous (Republican) PotUS and the story was that they were using 9/11 just the way Hitler had used similar events.

I could go on, but surely I don’t need to.

So the next time you get a warning of doom or alert of treason via email from (your favorite rumor source) or even an African Prince in prison, please just delete it. But if you really want to believe it please just do a Google search and at least test it with the adult wisdom you surely gained from raising small children.

I dream of our country slowly getting smarter, wiser and more effective rather than more angry, more frightened and more dangerous to ourselves.