All posts by Website Administrator

Science has proven our expectations and beliefs shapes our potential. Here’s why and how you can expend your limits and the people around you.

(Plagiarism caveat: I cribbed this story from a fascinating broadcast of NPR’s This American Life.  I provide a link to the full show below.)

Bob Rosenthal, a research psychologist, conducted a study on how expectations change potential through a study using average lab rats.  Even though the lab rats IQs were all equal, he hung signs on all of the rat cages with some of the signs saying the rat in the cage was incredibly smart, and some of the signs said that the rat in the cage was incredibly dumb, even though neither of those things was true.

He next brought in a group of experimenters and told them for the next week, some of them were going to work with incredibly smart rats and some of them were going to work incredibly stupid rats. And their job was to run their rat through a maze and record how well it does.

The results were dramatic.

The “smart” rats did almost twice as well as the “dumb” rats.  Rosenthal’s study proved that the expectations that the experimenters carried in their heads subtly changed the way that the experimenters touched the rats and that changed the way that the rats behaved. So when the experimenters thought that the rats were really smart, they felt more warmly towards the rats and so they touched them more gently.

“We do know that handling rats and handling them more gently can actually increase the performance of rats,” said Rosenthal.

And how does this play out when it comes to our expectations of people? What occurred with the rats holds true for people too, says Carol Dweck, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford.  You may be standing farther away from someone you have lower expectations for, you may not be making as much eye contact. And it’s not something you can put your finger on. We’re not usually aware of how we are conveying our expectations to other people, but it’s there.”

And it happens in all kinds of areas of massive importance.  Research has shown:

That teachers’ expectations can raise or lower students’ IQ scores;

 That mothers’ expectations influences the drinking behavior of middle schoolers;

 That military trainers’ expectations can literally make a soldier run faster or slower.

So what does science know about where we should draw the line? Does it have a clear sense of that? No,” said Dwek. “That line is moving. As we come to understand things that are possible and mechanisms through which a belief affects an outcome or one person affects another person, that line can move.”

The story goes on to highlight Daniel Norris, a man blind since birth, whose mother refused to place the restrictions on him that society usually places on blind people.  She let him climb trees, play on his own, scale jungle gyms.

And yes, even ride a bike.

Yep, a blind kid riding a bike.  And yes, he had accidents, but none worse than any other kid learning to ride a bike or climb a tree.  Through “echolocation,” a process which involves him clicking his tongue in a way that resembles the radar ability in a bat, he was able to learn to identify objects in the environment around him to the point where he saw images in his head of these objects.  A blind man that essentially learned to see.  How is this possible?

“There is a lot of pressure to keep a child safe, and especially in a litigious society,” said Norris.  And the paraeducators [who are assigned to help the blind] can end up doing the work for the kids. [But] when you lighten someone’s load, you don’t allow him or her to expand. [Blind children] are so often discouraged . . . and become slaves to others’ perception. Slaves to what others think they should be doing. And somehow we’re [as a society] comfortable with that.”

This story is fascinating in many ways, but for now I ask you to consider:

How are your perceptions limiting yourself and those around you?  What beliefs about yourself, your spouse, your children or your employees are you holding onto that are limiting their growth and their potential?  How much expansion are you trading for safety? What subtle messages are you conveying that sets the bar too low?

Our beliefs may shape us, but we can shape those beliefs.  Let’s expand them and all grow together.

 

I highly encourage you to listen to the full show from This American Life.  You can find it here:http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/544/batman

My book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live an Unconventional Life Without Starving In the Process is out now.  You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian

 

Striking Differences: An interview with documentary filmmaker Ally Wray-Kirk

You’ve been an educator in public school systems for over twenty years.  Why now make a documentary?  What inspired you?

The culture of our educational systems prioritizes the similarities of our children instead of promoting their differences.  We tend to emphasise  the idea that there is one right way to do things, and everyone is measured constantly up against the same standard.  In the socio-economically disadvantaged communities where I’ve worked there is no art, music and theater in public schools anymore.  Students are rewarded for replicating the status quo and that is causing us to lose our innovators and creators. We kill off their creative spirit before it has time to flourish.  It became important to me to let my students know that there can be more than one way to be right, more than one way to be “correct” about something.  What is different about a child is what makes him or her interesting; this is what we need to encourage and support.  “Striking Differences” is about just that—highlighting the need to accept and celebrate the very different takes on life that extraordinary people have and are making.

How does Striking Differences address this issue?

“What’s different about you?”  Most people struggle with this question.  What’s unique about an individual is often difficult for him or her to pin down when asked but the answer comes out in their stories, their history, their worldviews.  I wanted to capture these stories so I spent two months traveling through fifteen states meeting people from all walks of life and asking them this very question.  The responses I received were overwhelmingly positive and receptive.  Many of these folks are featured in the film but I focus on five individuals leading very different lives, but all following their passions, making it all work without ever compromising their principles.

Do you find these people to have an unusually high tolerance for fear, rejection, or insecurity?

Just the opposite.  They are incredibly vulnerable.  People who really put themselves out there in a big way—whether through their art, their music or their lifestyles—are subject to a high risk of pain and rejection.  But their desire for self-expression, for love and to heal themselves is so strong it pushes them through their fears.

A documentary seems like a huge undertaking.  What would you say to people interested in taking on a creative project like that, but feel it is being their abilities?

Nothing is beyond their abilities.  I didn’t know a thing about making documentaries before I started.  But I studied the process. I sought out mentors.  I learned what I could and then I just dove in, often not knowing what the next step would be but figuring it out as I went.  If someone wants to make a documentary, they can.  They just need the passion and the belief.

Why You?  Why now?

The theme of the documentary—honoring and celebrating our differences—needs to be told and my background and my experiences gave me the tools to tell it.  As a cancer survivor, I no longer can tolerate not doing what I am driven to do.  We have very little time on this planet and we need to pursue what is passionate and authentic to our individual selves.

 

You can learn more about, and support, “Striking Differences: A documentary about differences because similarities are so redundant” at www.strikingdifferences.com.

You can learn about the main subjects of the film via the links below:

-Beth Schindler (Austin, TX) founder of “Queer Bomb” http://www.queerbomb.org

-Sara Gardner aka Smoove G (Bloomington, IN) founder “The Back Door” http://backdoorbloomington.com/

-Kofy Brown (Washington, D.C.) founder of “Simba Music” http://kofybrown.com/

-Danyol aka Tamale Ringwald (Orange County, CA) founder of “Squrrl” http://danyol.com/

-Tony Malson (Spokane, WA) lead singer in “The Devil in California” http://thedevilincalifornia.com/

 

My book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live an Unconventional Life Without Starving In the Processis out now.  You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian

[A1]Tony is the lead singer, but not the founder.

It’s a Time of Transition and Reflection. How Will You Engage the New Year?

As one year winds to a close and a new one approaches, many of us see this as an opportunity to reflect on the past and to think about what we want from the year to come.  Our wishes and goals often manifest in specific things, such as losing weight, finding a new job, or quitting a bad habit.  This year, I invite you to try approaching this idea from a broader perspective.  As I was deciding how I would manifest my own goals for the year, I read Chris Guillebeau’s post on this very topic, and I decided I couldn’t have said it better.  Here are his wishes for (himself and for us) for the new year.  He wants:

 

To wake in the morning full of life and energy, awaiting the day with anticipation and purpose.

To step out into the world ready to accomplish a significant task.
 To engage and initiate instead of merely responding. To take the active choice that you will make something happen.

To maintain harmony and goodwill in relationships. To follow Shakespeare’s adage: love all, trust a few, and do wrong to no one.

To focus on contribution and engagement instead of withdrawal into yourself. (Tip: When you aren’t sure what to do next, find a small way to help someone.)

To pursue productive, meaningful work. To spend most of your time doing something that you and others find meaningful.

To accept that everything you create will likely be flawed in some way, but to create anyway.*

 

Wise advice, I believe.  How will you manifest as your best self in 2015?  I would love to hear.  You can write me atjoe@abundantbohemian.com.  If I receive enough responses, I will post them here on a follow up blog.

*You can read his entire post at http://chrisguillebeau.com/2014-annual-review-looking-forward.

My book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live an Unconventional Life Without Starving In the Process is out now.  You can find it at http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419609806&sr=1-1&keywords=the+abundant+bohemian

The Power of the End-of-Year Retreat: A guest post by author Ed Davis.

End of December:

 

Spiritual Retreat

Since the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a downtime for teachers, my wife and I decided in 2011 to go on a spirit retreat—and where better than a cabin in the beautiful Hocking Hills of southeastern Ohio? I highly recommend such an undertaking, but it’s good to go prepared for silence and study.

What, you might ask, is a spirit retreat? First, I don’t consider myself conventionally religious; rather, my spiritual life is eclectic, informed by several traditions, from Buddhism to Catholic to Baptist. As I pondered the Hocking Hills trip, I envisioned something like the solitary retreat I took over a decade ago to Gethsemani, the Trappist Monastery outside Bardstown, Kentucky, home to the late Thomas Merton, famous writer and monk. During that long, hot weekend on the fourth of July, I prayed, meditated and participated in the monastery’s cycle of worship, including rising in the middle of the night for services in the chapel—a moving experience. On this more recent retreat, I intended to delve deeply into Merton’s spiritual classic, New Seeds of Contemplation, as a way to deepen the relationship with my higher power. While I’m not Catholic, I knew that Merton had plenty to say to me.

I admit I was a bit anxious about spending three days in mostly silence; my fear had less to do with being confined in a small space with a simpatico fellow seeker than about my relationship with timeWould I grow bored, restless, or depressed? Worse, would I feel pressure to be spiritual? The forecast that week was for rain, plus it was quite cold. Unlike past visits to Hocking Hills, we weren’t planning to hike much, if at all. We were planning to stay still, and except for one walk in a downpour, we stayed inside the cabin. With nowhere to go and nothing else to do, I bore down on what I’d come to do.

Except for meals, we each stayed pretty much in our sacred space:  me on the couch, my wife on a stool at the high butcher’s block table in the kitchen, involved in her own soul pursuits. For hours there was no sound except the roaring furnace and flapping fireplace. Although I’d read Merton’s seminal work twice before, the  mysticism, startling paradoxes and poetic density of New Seeds often left me feeling that his explanation of Christian contemplation was simply too complex for me to grasp, much less practice. By the second day, though, I sensed a breakthrough, and by evening, I thought I understood Seeds better than I ever had.

At the risk of over-simplifying, I think Merton seems to be saying in Seeds that contemplation is never easy, since it’s fraught with so many obstacles (such as religious piety and spiritual ambition); furthermore, it’s about one thing only:  an ever-deeper relationship with one’s intensely personal God, who is not “out there” but right here, acting for and on me now. Thus, God is more an experience than a distant object of worship or study. This is not what the Baptist Church of my youth taught me, and while I’m not bitter about that—it says as much about me as it does about the church I came of age in—I believe I’ve matured as a spiritual seeker, due to the mentorship of Merton and several other gurus, such as Kathleen Norris, (author of Dakota:  A Spiritual Geography and Cloister Walk), Wendell Berry and Thoreau.

I’ve often reflected fondly on that “time out of time” we spent in the Hocking Hills three years ago. The thing about any retreat, spiritual or otherwise, is that you have to go home. You hope to sustain the high for as long as you can, but, failing that, at least continue the growth you began. I hoped the insight I’d received wouldn’t just fuel more ambition, spiritual or otherwise. Looking back now, I see it laid the framework that allowed me to retire gracefully (mostly) from my 35-year teaching career and come to grips with my desire to be a well-published writer. Today, I’m perfectly happy that a small university press published my latest novel. For me, “o’erweening ambition” was a spiritual problem, and becoming more “right-sized” was the spiritual solution. I wish you Godspeed in your own quest for peace and serenity in the sacred place of your choice.

 

–Ed Davis

 

 Ed Davis is the author of  the newly released novel The Psalms of Israel Jones, which is available anywhere books are sold.

We are all lottery winners. Here’s why.

Recently I listened to a podcast about WWI from Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.  Dan does fascinating and well-researched episodes on all areas of history, but this one struck me in particular because prior to listening I didn’t understand the scope of devastation, destruction and human costs to that war.  But it taught me a valuable lesson on just how lucky we are to live here, now, in this particular time and place.  It is a gift that human beings have never experienced in the entire existence of mankind.  And we so often take it for granted.

To understand the immensity of this gift, we must break it down to its core.  In our homes we have running, clean, hot and cold water, refrigerators for our food, machines to wash our dishes and our clothes, furnaces for the winter and air conditioners for the summer.  We have aspirin for our headaches and cars to take us wherever we choose.  These “basic” things that most of us have are more luxuries than King Louis the XIV experienced at Versailles only three hundred years ago.  The smart phones in our pockets contain more technology and information in them than Bill Clinton had access to as President only twenty years ago.

The comedian Louis C.K. was on a flight from New York to Los Angeles and sat next to a man who was irate that the plane’s Wi-Fi was down.  Louis pointed out that in less than two centuries ago it took a year for settlers to travel the same distance, a trip that was plagued by attacks and disease and many would die before they ever reached their destination. “You’re sitting in a chair in the sky and you will be there in three hours—and you are complaining?” he joked.  Good point.

In Freakanomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner point out that despite the conflicts and disasters that the news media love to report, we are currently living in the most peaceful time in all recorded history.  Think about that: it is estimated that 108 billion people have lived on this planet.  And we are the ones that get to live here now.  The magnitude of that gift is startling.  We have truly won the lottery.

And that’s the bare basics that almost all of us share.  If you have a good job, you are blessed with something millions don’t have.  Appreciate it.  If you have someone that loves you and loves you back, you have something beautiful that many lonely and broken-hearted folks do not.  Remember that the next time you feel irritated that your partner didn’t pick up his socks.

I’m not minimizing the real human suffering that we all will experience from time to time, but remembering the abundance of gifts we have been given that the majority of all human beings never experienced can alleviate the suffering, give us strength to bear it, and to remind us that despite our troubles, are blessings are so much more.

And the best gift we’ve been given of all?  Because we are so much safer, educated and prosperous and don’t have to worry about our shelter, clothing, food or being eaten by a saber-tooth tiger, we can focus on making the world even better. There is still much to fix, and those living in the 21st century are better equipped to do so than all those who have paved the way for us.  The best way we can thank the people that suffered and died to create the world we’ve been given is to continue the progress forward.  Let’s keep it goin’.

 

If you enjoy, the Abundant Bohemian blog posts, the best compliment you can make is to share it with others whom you believe may appreciate it.  The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live An Unconventional Life is now available wherever books are sold.  I hope you check it out.

The Abundant Bohemian book: available now.

I’m proud to announce the release of my book, The Abundant Bohemian: How To Live An Unconventional Life Without Starving in the Process.

About seven years ago I was working 50 plus hours at a law firm and I was miserable.  I was stressed, tired all the time, and depressed.  I thought I hated being a lawyer.  Finally, after two years of fretting over it, I quit the firm and went off on my own.  I was worried to death that I was going to fail, and that held me back for a long time.  But I didn’t.  All my clients came with me, and even though I cut my hours back to 30 a week and took six weeks off my first year, I still did better than I ever did with the firm.  I realized I didn’t hate being a lawyer—I actually liked it.  I just didn’t like doing it all the time.  And the 20 hours a week I wasn’t working now as a lawyer gave me time to write and do other things that I’m passionate about.

So when I conversed with people who complained about their corporate jobs or their cubicle life I became evangelical in encouraging them to quit and start their own businesses or to follow their passions whatever they were.  Some were receptive but many responded with ready-made excuses, inevitably with: it’s easy for you to say: you’re a lawyer.  Lots of lawyers work for themselves.  It’s different for me.

Maybe so.  But I knew a lot of people who weren’t lawyers who were doing exactly what they wanted and were not only not struggling, but were thriving.  And I wanted to know how they did it.  So I spent several years interviewing artists, writers, dancers, sculptors, entrepreneurs and other unconventional people and then I wrote their stories in what became the Abundant Bohemian.

But it became so much more than that.  The stories I heard challenged my whole notion of what it means to have a relationship with money, to be passionate about, and how to find true joy and contentment instead of amusement and distraction.

If you decide to check out the book and enjoy it, please do me a favor and go to Amazon, itunes or Barnes and Noble and give it a review.  That makes a difference in how they rate the book and the exposure it gets.  And if you feel inclined to forward this link to your contacts in social media, I would be forever grateful.  Links to buy the book are below.  Thank you for all the love and support I’ve already received.

Amazon.com (print): http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Joseph-Downing/dp/1633370135/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413304464&sr=8-1&keywords=joseph+downing+the+abundant+bohemian

Amazon.com (e-book): http://www.amazon.com/Abundant-Bohemian-Unconventional-Without-Starving-ebook/dp/B00O5G3LQ0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1413304464

iTunes (e-book): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-abundant-bohemian/id929860358?ls=1&mt=11

Barnes & Noble (print) : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-abundant-bohemian-joseph-downing/1120481405?ean=9781633370135

Barnes & Noble Nook (e-book) : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-abundant-bohemian-joseph-downing/1120481405?ean=2940150547407

Kobo (e-book) : http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-abundant-bohemian

 

Passion + Detachment = Contentment.

I’m excited to announce that my book The Abundant Bohemian: How To live An Unconventional Life Without Starving in the Process will be released in October.  Writing the book has been a four-year process and I’m really proud of the final product.  I’m hoping that untold numbers of readers buy the book, read it, and love it.

But that might not happen.

I have to be prepared for the book to be popular and I have to prepare for it not to be.  I have to prepare for the book to be well-received and prepare for criticism.

I was passionate about writing the book and that leads to expectations.  But I know I must detach myself from what comes next.  How other’s respond is out of my control, but how I experienced the writing of it was all mine.  The book was a labor of love; the lessons I learned and the people I met inspired me and changed my life.  I’m a different person than I was when I started the process four years ago.   That is the true compensation and value I received.  If others benefit and enjoy it, all the better.  But the experience justified the time and labor involved.

The act of creating is spiritually enriching, whether it be writing a book, painting, or starting a business.  If I told you to work days, weeks, even months on your masterpiece and said when you finished you had to destroy it, would you still do it?  You should.  That’s what Tibetan Monks do when they create their beautiful sand mandalas. The mandalas, which are elaborate sand “paintings,” are created and ritualistically destroyed once completed to symbolize the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life.  And, sooner or later, everything we create will be destroyed.  We shouldn’t create for posterity, fame, or money.  We must do it for the experience of doing it.  Deepak Chopra describes this as being process-oriented instead of outcome-oriented.

We all want to be validated.  We want our work to be respected, appreciated, and consumed.  But the act of doing it?  That’s where the treasure lies.  I still want you to buy my book.  Please do!  But my joy in its creation isn’t contigent upon it.  But buy it anyway. :)

The Psalms of Israel Jones: a novel by Ed Davis

I’m proud to announce the publication of my friend Ed Davis’ new novel, the Psalms of Israel Jones.  I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of it and would highly recommend it to lovers of literature everywhere, particularly if you like an intensely driven character studies grounded in the dark and troubled underbelly of the land of rock-in-roll.

Here’s what Lee Abbott, author of Dreams of Distant Lives, has to say about it:

“I love this book, not least for the zillion other writers (and religious thinkers) I find in it, among them Dickens, Melville, Jonathan Edwards, Increase Mather, Walker Percy, Billy Sunday, Thomas Merton . . . The plot is straight out of On the Road with the same moral risk and ambiguities. [And] I love the music we get to “hear” between these margins, from the great blues artists of yore (Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, etc.) to the superstars of more recent times (Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, etc.).  Is Israel Jones a nearly mythic figure come to redeem us?  Sure.  But he’s also a fellow who respects an art form born of anger and woe and desperate times.  His story obliges us to look back even as we drift farther and farther from the promises we once upon a time made.”

If you’re looking for a good read, give it a shot.  You won’t be disappointed!  The book is available from the publisher, West Virginia University Press, at Amazon, and locally at Epic Bookshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Good luck, Ed–You’re going to make a lot of readers happy.

IsraelJones

We Are Responsible for Everything That Happens To Us. And Why That’s a Good Thing.

Things go wrong.  A drunk runs a red light and wrecks your car.  A thief steals your credit card and runs up a huge debt. You get sick or break your leg falling on the ice.  Your company downsizes and you lose your job.  Something happens outside of your control that’s bad and it’s not your fault.  But you are still responsible.  You are responsible for all of it.

Yes, we all know that bad things happen to good people.  But when you are faced with any challenge, adversity or trauma you must choose how you are going to respond, and you have only two options.  You can take responsibility or you can be a victim.

Being a victim means is choosing to be powerless.  It’s deciding that you have no control over the outcome or played any role in the circumstances that caused your trouble.  It is a feeble, bitter choice to view the world from the perspective of a victim.

Choosing to accept responsibility for everything that happens to you is empowering.  You are choosing to say that you are in charge and in control of your life.  And that is choosing to come from a place of strength.  What does word responsible even mean?  It means “response + ability.”  It means you have the ability to respond.  To take whatever hand you have been dealt and to play those cards with dignity, serenity, and strength.  You own those cards.  Making the shift in mindset from victimhood to responsibility frees the mind up to new ideas and new options.   It inspires action.

The next time you want to say, “It’s not my fault” or “why does this always happen to me?” stop yourself.  Instead, ask “what part did I play in creating this situation, and how can I make it better?  What can I do different next time to keep this from happening again?”  You’ll feel better, your mood will improve, and your anxiety will lessen.

Develop the ability to respond.  It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to you.  But it will mean you can face them down and be happier in the process.

Lessons from the World Cup (that have nothing to do with soccer)

Two friends and I spent the first two weeks of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.  As soccer fanatics, we had a wonderful experience.  We saw four games live and got to watch team USA survive the “group of death” with another 20,000 Americans on Copacabana Beach.  But soccer aside, my Brazilian travel taught me some new lessons and reminded me of important things I already knew.

The Media is Always Wrong. 

Before I left, all I heard about the World Cup on the news was how people were rioting in the streets, the stadiums were going to fall down, the transportation was poor, and Brazil was generally dangerous.  I experienced none of this.  The people were friendly and gracious. I saw no riots, although I did see one peaceful protest consisting of about twenty people waving anti-government signs.  The cabs, trains and buses were safe and punctual.  After Chile defeated reigning World Cup champion Spain 2-0, seventy-two Chilean fans tried to break into their team’s locker room.  They didn’t intend violence; they were so excited they just wanted to love on their team.  They were exported.  There were 75,000 people in the stadium that day.  That’s less than a 1% problem.  I give that an A+.

Every Time You Step Outside your Comfort Zone, You are Changed for the Better. 

One of the best things about the World Cup is that it attracts so many different people from all over the World.  I hung out with people from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and all over South America.  Many people were on month-long or longer trips across South America, and I was reminded of how Americans work too much and take too little time off compared to the rest of the World.  I was reminded that you can have very little material possessions and be very happy. You can have little money and still see the World.  I met a rural farmer from Ecuador who was there with his grandson to support his country in the Cup. He had been saving up for close to twenty years for the trip.  I was reminded that people are essentially good, generous, and want the best for you.  The people in Brazil proved this in spades.

It’s Energizing to Engage With Your Tribe.

I’ve written about finding your tribe before, but I didn’t have to look hard to find my tribe at the World Cup because I was surrounded by them.  It was easy to start a conversation with anyone because you shared the same passion and they wanted to talk about it as much as I did.  The only casualty of the trip was that I lost my sunglasses after an exuberant USA fan picked me up and swung me around after the US scored against Portugal.  It was a small price to pay.  I’m lucky that my tribe is big because of the popularity of the sport, but I’m sure people who go to NASCAR races or Comi-Con or join boating clubs feel the same way.

A few days after I returned I stopped at gas station.  While waiting in line to pay, the man working behind the counter noticed I was wearing a France national team jersey that I bought in Brazil. He asked me about it and I told him the story of my trip.  It turned out he was a French citizen of African descent, and he was so surprised and pleased that someone in Dayton, Ohio would be supporting his home team he came around the counter and gave me a big hug, to the bewilderment of the people waiting in line behind me.  That’s my tribe.  This little exchange—this connection—made my day.  This reminded me of the importance of seeking out the things, even if it is only one thing, that links and binds us to those out there living similar or very different lives than mine. Take the time to engage your fellow tribesmen.  It’s good for the soul—both yours and theirs.