Day 25 – “RULES”

Day 25 – “RULES”

During the month of April, I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days: Thoughts from Six Feet Away, one topic per day. Find out why here.


The rules are changing and our future depends on those willing to follow them.

I went to Lowe’s today and it was my first time waiting outside in a socially-distanced line to enter.

There were about thirty of us, some masked like myself, others not.

But all were keeping a safe distance and playing by the rules.

And no one was complaining.

It gave me hope that we’re going to be able to start moving forward in other areas, reopening businesses in creative ways while still doing all we can to defeat the virus.

It’s clear by now that we’re not going to magically wake up a month from now and have things the way they were back in February.

But my experience today showed me that it’s possible to keep everyone safe while still keeping the economy running, even if at a diminished level.


Rule Breakers

Rule breakers have had a mixed history.

One type of rule breaker is the person who has their own best interest in mind and selfishly breaks rules because they just want to.

Take an elementary school student, for example, who’s classmates lose out on recess because of something he does to draw the ire of his teacher.

But there are other rule breakers as well.

Those who aren’t satisfied with the answers they’re given or restrictions that have been long held.

They’re the ones who are willing to step on toes, ask hard questions, and not settle until they’ve broken through and won a victory for others.

The Rosa Park’s of the world, who believe that there are rules that are unjust.

Or the leader who challenges the status quo of a company or an industry.


Rule Followers and Rule Breakers

As we look to the weeks and months ahead, we’re going to need a mix of rule breakers and rule followers.

And often they will be one and the same.

We’ll need rule followers who are willing to wear the masks, socially distance, operate under the new rules laid out that will allow for businesses to begin to open back up in a new world but still offer the products or services that they have made a living providing.

Our health and safety and economic futures depend on this.

But we’re also going to need rule breakers.

Rule breakers who are willing to ask tough questions, to interrogate the headlines and reports and tests and social media buzz.

Rule breakers who are willing to stand alone at times because they’re challenging what others might be commonly believing.

Rule breakers who see beyond, care about defeating the virus but also saving a society at the same time.

Rule breakers who are willing to say hard things, push boundaries and fight for those whose messages aren’t getting heard.


What about you?

Are you willing to follow the rules when you need to and break them when you have to, all in the name of putting others first?

Day 24 – “ASTERISK”

Day 24 – “ASTERISK”

During the month of April, I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days: Thoughts from Six Feet Away, one topic per day. Find out why here.


If you just joined Earth in the last few days or weeks, welcome to Earth 2020, the year of the asterisk.

Of all the ways to describe all that’s been happening, this seems like one of the most accurate.

It basically means that everything is open to change.

There is very little right now that is set in stone, fewer and fewer things that you can “take to the bank” (which you probably couldn’t do anyway unless it’s to the drive thru).

We have a bound scheduler that sits on our kitchen desk.

Each week I look at the various items that we had penciled in on it for sporting events or other activities.

Some have been actually crossed out but the others… well, do we even need to cross them out?

They’re cancelled, postponed, rescheduled, wait and see.

The only thing you can count on is that you’ve probably got a Zoom call some time this week… with someone who doesn’t understand the technology.



I can never remember a time when it was so difficult to even think of planning anything.

Ironically, in the past (you know, like two months ago), you might try to plan a get-together with someone and have to work around their schedule, their kids’ schedules and a myriad of other time-sucking items.

But now… when we actually have more time than we’ve ever had, seemingly… it’s hard to plan because we just don’t even know what tomorrow will look like.

Honestly, how far in advance can you even schedule something out and know that you’ll be able to do the thing you wanted to do?

Will there be fans at sporting events this summer? This fall? This year?

When will concerts happen again?

Will the cruise industry ever come back and what will it look like?

If your birthday is in June, will you be able to “go out” to celebrate? Will your favorite restaurant be open for business? Will anyone else be there?


There is a passage in the Bible that came to mind regarding this, in James chapter 4.

There, James talks about people who were confidently making plans without really knowing what would come their way.

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”   -James 4:13-15

It’s so true.

I’m certainly guilty of doing that most of my life. Making plans confidently without considering that life can change just like that.

I love the passage because it helps direct us to something “un-asterisked” in the middle of a fluid world.

For me, it’s helped me take a step back and refocus on what God would want me to do with my today.

How can I love better today, serve better today, give better today, put others first today.

And then if tomorrow comes, I get another day to do it again.



Maybe the best thing that can have an asterisk on it is us.

Maybe we’re the ones that need to be willing to change, to be open to something different in ourselves.

The way we think, what’s important in our lives, our goals and dreams.

Try this.

Next time you write or sign your name, add an asterisk at the end.

And know that that asterisk means “subject to change”.

See you tomorrow.


Day 23 – “GREETINGS”

Day 23 – “GREETINGS”

During the month of April, I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days: Thoughts from Six Feet Away, one topic per day. Find out why here.


The way we greet people has changed so much these past few months.

Verbal Greetings

First, let’s start with the verbal greetings

Think of the common questions you might ask when greeting people and how the responses are so different right now.

“What’d you do this weekend?”

“Ummm… yeah… nothing. How about you?”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Yeah… nothing”

It’s just one more area of our society and interactions that has been altered and yet at the same time has brought us together.

Now, we’re hearing more things like “how are you and your family hanging in there?” or “What do you think of all of this?”

In some ways, even though the social distancing and isolation has separated us more physically, the shared experience and common questions and concerns has brought us all together.

Even though we don’t know exactly how someone is doing, we now know so much more about everyone we interact with because we’re all at least going through this thing together.

And questions like “how are you dealing with all of this?” can be questions that we can ask to total strangers and be able to connect, find out more about their story and be able to encourage and relate.


Physical Greetings

This goes without saying, but physical greetings just don’t exist anymore, barring the “elbow tap”.

No handshakes, hi fives, fist bumps, hugs or anything like that anymore.

Those have been replaced with waves and thumbs-ups.

It does make you wonder what these will look like in the future. Even once things start to settle down and we’re allowed to be within six feet and mask-less, will handshakes become a thing of the past?

It’s an interesting thought because there is so much communicated through a handshake.

Think of an interview or other first impression where a handshake is exchanged. A weak one communicates as much as a firm grip and look in the eye does.

That handshake can set you down one path or another right from the start.

Or consider the power of “shaking on it” to seal a deal. How your word and a handshake used to be all that was needed to make a promise.



One thing’s for sure.

In the months to come, I anticipate a lot of awkward, humorous interactions as people greet each other again for the first time or especially with new acquaintances.

There will be the “approach” where two people are slowly moving toward each other, trying to reach from the other what type of greeting is acceptable.

Maybe there will be a question like “handshakes okay?”

For some, they will just to all-in back to their roots and bypass the wary greeter’s hand and go for the bear hug. That will remove all doubt.


Either way, I look forward to greeting you the next time we see each other and especially trying to figure out the new rules of greetings together.

Just watch out. I might just go for that bear hug… it’s been a long isolation.

Day 22 – “MASKED”

Day 22 – “MASKED”

During the month of April, I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days: Thoughts from Six Feet Away, one topic per day. Find out why here.


We are entering the era of the mask.

If you took a picture today in many workplaces, or out in public or at a local store and sent an email back in time to February, the recipient no doubt would be like “what in the world happened?!!”

More than any other visual indicator today, the presence of masks everywhere tells you that something is different.

It’s, honestly, something that I’d seen many times in other countries and thought “we’ll never need to do that here.”

And yet, today will be my third day wearing masks at work along with my colleagues.

It’s a sign of the times and something we need to do to stop the spread.

It’s a small thing we can do to help. And make an impact.

To quote a famous Bane line from Batman – The Dark Knight Rises, “No one cared who I was until I put on the mask.”


Isn’t it Ironic?

What I find ironic about the masks, or at least interesting, is that the script has been flipped on the masks, at least for non-frontline-healthcare workers.

Usually, we wear a mask to protect ourselves.

Sanding drywall. Working outside or with sawdust.

Or take sports for example, with hockey goalies or gladiators.

Masks have usually been for self protection.

But now, with COVID-19, we’re wearing masks to protect others.

I don’t wear a mask to keep the virus from me, I wear it in case I have it without knowing it and to keep it from spreading to others.

It sort of deflates the whole machismo idea of “I don’t need a mask”, since it’s not about you… it’s about others.



For masks, this is their moment of glory, their time to shine.

Never has the word “mask” been mentioned more in press conferences, podcasts, blog posts and conversations.

There’s even a TV show that has to do with singing with a mask, apparently :).

Bottom line, masks have been waiting their whole lives to make a difference in the world, on a global scale.

I never even knew what an N95 mask was until all of this.


Thank You Front Line Workers

This brings me back to those who have been using masks to protect themselves and others.

The front line healthcare workers.

I’m so thankful for those who, months ago, had no idea what was headed there way, but are giving all they have to help heal, protect, care for and fight to stop this virus.

I know for many this means being separate from their families, isolated, exhausted, spent.

If you are in that mix, know that you are appreciated. We’re thankful for you and praying for you.


Day 21 – “SENIORS”

Day 21 – “SENIORS”

During the month of April, I’m writing 30 Words for 30 Days: Thoughts from Six Feet Away, one topic per day. Find out why here.


This is one is for the high school class of 2020.


It wasn’t supposed to go down this way. Your story.

This wasn’t the ending that you or your parents had anticipated twelve years ago as you said goodbye to those old kindergarten halls and graduated to first grade.

It’s that point in the story that no one saw coming. The plot twist that has left all of us searching for some positives out of all this.

I picture the scene from The Princess Bride where the grandfather has just told the grandson that the man in black… the hero of the story… is dead. He was the one to make things right, the one the fate of the people pivoted on. And there he is, dead… and the grandson can’t believe it.

And yet, instead, I picture them telling your story….

Fezzik: The rest of their senior year, wiped out.

Inigo: It just is not fair.

Grandson: Grampa, grampa, wait. What did Fezzik mean ‘wiped out’? I mean, he didn’t mean ‘wiped out’ unless he’s only faking… right?

Grampa: Do you want me to read this or not?

Grandson: Who goes to prom? Who walks at graduation? Who skips on senior skip day? Who gets awarded and recognized? 

Grampa: I don’t understand.

Grandson: Who does all of those things that seniors look forward to for years? Somebody’s gotta do it. Is it this year’s seniors? Who?

Grampa: Nobody. Nobody does those things. They’re cancelled.

Grandson: You mean they lose out on all of that?!! Geez, grampa, what did you read me this thing for?

And I find myself asking the same questions.

Who would have picked this story?

No one.

You seniors wouldn’t have written it this way. Not in a million years (which is about how many it’s been since this last happened).

Your parents would never have wanted this to happen to you either and our hearts break for you.

And yet we find ourselves at that pivotal point in the story.

We can’t change that the man in black is dead… or that all you were looking forward to at the end of this year has been taken from you.

But the story isn’t over.


You Write The Next Chapter

No, you can’t change the hand that you’ve been dealt. But you get to decide what happens next.

This is your moment. Every eye is on you, watching to see what you will do next.

Your parents, your teachers, underclassmen, friends, siblings, neighbors.

All are wondering how your story will go from here.

I believe.

I believe you will rise.

I believe you will shine.

I believe there is a fire inside that will propel each of you to go out and impact your world.

I believe we haven’t seen the best of you yet.

The story is entering a new chapter.

One that only you can write.

What will you do with it?

How will this change you, strengthen you, inspire you?


From Your Parents

To the class of 2020, your parents want you to know how proud we are of you.

As we’ve watched each new development, hoping that there was a chance to salvage something… anything… it has broken our hearts.

But we’re so proud of how you’ve met the loss and the disappointment head-on and have embraced your new reality.

It’s unprecedented.

We’ve never been in your shoes.

But we’re seeing our sons and daughters grow stronger right before our eyes and we are so thankful for each of you.

Know that there are brighter days ahead.

And we can’t wait to celebrate each moment with you.

No, it won’t be like we imagined.

But it will be something totally new.

You are a class that will forever be set apart, special.


Go Change The World

So, just as your world has been turned on its head, go out and make a difference in the new world ahead of you.

Take risks. Find a cause. Make an impact.

The world is waiting for you.

Go change it!