i have a friend named monty roberts who owns a horse ranch in san ysidro. he has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs.


  the last time i was there he introduced me by saying, "i want to tell you why i let jack use my house. it all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. as a result, the boy's high school career was continually interrupted. when he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up."


  "that night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. he wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch."


  "he put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. two days later he received his paper back. on the front page was a large red f with a note that read, ‘see me after class.’"


  "the boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, ‘why did i receive an f?’"


  "the teacher said, ‘this is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. you have no money. you come from an itinerant family. you have no resources. owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. you have to buy the land. you have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you'll have to pay large stud fees. there's no way you could ever do it.’ then the teacher added, ‘if you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, i will reconsider your grade.’"


  "the boy went home and thought about it long and hard. he asked his father what he should do. his father said, ‘look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. however, i think it is a very important decision for you.’"


  "finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all. he stated, ‘you can keep the f and i'll keep my dream.’"


  monty then turned to the assembled group and said, "i tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. i still have that school paper framed over the fireplace." he added, "the best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week." when the teacher was leaving, he said, ‘look, monty, i can tell you this now. when i was your teacher, i was something of a dream stealer. during those years i stole a lot of kids' dreams. fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours.’"


  don't let anyone steal your dreams. follow your heart, no matter what.



  how not to hurry 如何不匆忙?

  "nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." lao tzu

  if you live in a city where everyone rushes, realize that you don't have to be like everyone else. you can be different. you can walk instead of driving in rush hour traffic. you can have fewer meetings. you can work on fewer but more important things. you can be on your iphone or blackberry less, and be disconnected sometimes. your environment doesn't control your life — you do.

  i'm not going to tell you how to take responsibility for your life, but once you make the decision, the how will become apparent over time.

  i can't give you a step-by-step guide to moving slower, but here are some things to consider and perhaps adopt, if they work for your life. some things might require you to change some major things, but they can be done over time.

  1. do less.

  cut back on your projects, on your task list, on how much you try to do each day. focus not on quantity but quality. pick 2-3 important things — or even just one important thing — and work on those first. save smaller, routine tasks for later in the day, but give yourself time to focus.

  2. have fewer meetings.

  meetings are usually a big waste of time. and they eat into your day, forcing you to squeeze the things you really need to do into small windows, and making you rush. try to have blocks of time with no interruptions, so you don't have to rush from one meeting to another.

  3. practice disconnecting.

  have times when you turn off your devices and your email notifications and whatnot. time with no phone calls, when you're just creating, or when you're just spending time with someone, or just reading a book, or just taking a walk, or just eating mindfully. you can even disconnect for (gasp!) an entire day, and you won't be hurt. i promise.

  4. give yourself time to get ready and get there.

  if you're constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it's because you don't allot enough time in your schedule for preparing and for traveling. pad your schedule to allow time for this stuff. if you think it only takes you 10 minutes to get ready for work or a date, perhaps give yourself 30-45 minutes so you don't have to shave in a rush or put on makeup in the car. if you think you can get there in 10 minutes, perhaps give yourself 2-3 times that amount so you can go at a leisurely pace and maybe even get there early.

  5. practice being comfortable with sitting, doing nothing.

  one thing i've noticed is that when people have to wait, they become impatient or uncomfortable. they want their mobile device or at least a magazine, because standing and waiting is either a waste of time or something they're not used to doing without feeling self-conscious. instead, try just sitting there, looking around, soaking in your surroundings. try standing in line and just watching and listening to people around you. it takes practice, but after awhile, you'll do it with a smile.

  6. realize that if it doesn't get done, that's ok.

  there's always tomorrow. and yes, i know that's a frustrating attitude for some of you who don't like laziness or procrastination or living without firm deadlines, but it's also reality. the world likely won't end if you don't get that task done today. your boss might get mad, but the company won't collapse and the life will inevitably go on. and the things that need to get done will.

  7. start to eliminate the unnecessary.

  when you do the important things with focus, without rush, there will be things that get pushed back, that don't get done. and you need to ask yourself: how necessary are these things? what would happen if i stopped doing them? how can i eliminate them, delegate them, automate them?

  8. practice mindfulness.

  simply learn to live in the present, rather than thinking so much about the future or the past. when you eat, fully appreciate your food. when you're with someone, be with them fully. when you're walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are. read this for more, and also try the mindfulist.

  9. slowly eliminate commitments.

  we're overcommitted, which is why we're rushing around so much. i don't just mean with work — projects and meetings and the like. parents have tons of things to do with and for their kids, and we overcommit our kids as well. many of us have busy social lives, or civic commitments, or are coaching or playing on sports teams. we have classes and groups and hobbies. but in trying to cram so much into our lives, we're actually deteriorating the quality of those lives. slowly eliminate commitments — pick 4-5 essential ones, and realize that the rest, while nice or important, just don't fit right now. politely inform people, over time, that you don't have time to stick to those commitments.

  try these things out. life is better when unrushed. and given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by rushing through it?

  remember the quote above: if nature can get everything done without rushing, so can you.


  in praise of hugs 父亲的拥抱

  growing up at a distance – geographical and emotional – from her chilly father meant katherine burdett always doubted his feelings for her. until his final few days…

  by katherine burdett

  i grew up bereft of hugs. neither of my parents was the cuddly type. greetings involving kissing caused me to wince, and hugging generally just made me feel awkward.

  then one hug changed all that. one month before my 40th birthday my dad had heart surgery. as he came round, days later, he grabbed me and hugged me so hard i had to push with all my might to keep my head from pressing down on his newly stitched torso.

  it was a hug to make up for all those we had never had. days later as he slowly started to gain strength he told me for the first time ever that he loved me, and through my tears i told him i loved him too.

  i began planning how to bake him better – with carrot cakes, victoria sponges, jelly and ice cream. my maternal streak kicked in and i fantasised about wheeling him through the park and feeding him home-made goodies. then he died.

  i felt cheated. all my life i had wondered whether my dad cared for me and loved me – i doubted it. just as i got proof that he did, he passed away.

  my parents split up when i was two years old and, while i had monthly contact with my dad, my bitter stepmother and my father's old-fashioned stiff upper lip meant we never became close. in fact, i used to dread the visits to see him and count the hours until i could go home again.

  when i was very little the weekends at my father's house felt cold and unfriendly. during my teens the trips to a hostile house became a dread on the horizon for weeks beforehand. each stay culminated in an uncomfortable peck on the cheek from dad as he said goodbye – a moment i cringed about for hours in advance.

  and yet standing beside the hospital bed watching the life ebb from my sleeping father was painful. i felt like a little girl at his bedside, unable to talk to him yet again. i became fixated with his fingers – fat and soft, lying gently curled beside him. slowly they transformed from plump sausages to stone – white and immovable. it was his fingers that told me he had gone from this life, not the bleeping of monitors or the bustling of nursing staff.

  losing a father whom you have no recollection of ever living with is difficult. grieving is tricky; i didn't have any obvious close father-daughter memories to cling to and mull and cry over. most of my memories were of stilted meetings and uncomfortable times together. but i desperately missed him being alive.

  as time moved on my grief and anger at his untimely death began to recede. i realised that his affirmation of me from his deathbed had filled a gaping hole of insecurity i had constantly carried around.

  to a child a hug says so many things. it tells you that the person hugging you loves you, cares for you. a hug also confirms that you are a lovable being. months after dad's death i realised with a jolt that his lack of hugs said more about him than me. my father was not a demonstrative man and i was, therefore, perhaps, a lovable being.

  once i digested this insight my feelings changed from those of a needy child to ones of a very proud daughter. looking at my father more objectively allowed me to view him clearly: he was a man of few words; he was intelligent, kind and extremely modest. ironically i began to feel closer to him in death than i had while he was alive.

  with this new-found wisdom came the freedom to give up trying so very hard to gain the affections of others and to concentrate on finding me. i shattered the family taboo of silence about the break-up of my parents' marriage. i also felt the need to speak out about the detrimental effect i felt my step-parents had had on my life.

  in some ways the consequences have been quite dire and i no longer have contact with my mother. however, dad's hug had a profound effect on me. it carried me along a path from childhood to adulthood. at last i am my own woman and one who loves nothing better than a good old-fashioned hug.