Tag Archives: Stuff That Matters


If you can’t be thankful for what you have, be thankful for what you have escaped.

The difference in so many things just comes down to perspective.

Is that glass half empty or is it half air?

I have so much to be thankful for, a beautiful intelligent wife, two amazing little boys, relatively good health and relatively abundant resources.

Yesterday, I decided to run a race and solicit donations for cancer research.

At the time, I just thought I would run because I wanted to and I’d try to get money for a good cause.

You can learn a lot about people when you ask them for money.

I spent much of the last year asking people for money. Buying or giving, people often have unique reasons and circumstances when they hand over their money.

I watched my sister die from cancer. I edited my goal for donations from $200 (the default) to $1000, because $200 just seemed like so little. Today I was pleasantly surprised by the donations I got and who I got them from.

Initially, I had planned to put a couple pictures of my sister up and write a little more about her, but then someone I respect got upset with that plan. In this persons perspective, doing that was disrespectful to my sister’s memory. I don’t share the same perspective, but this person did make a point that stuck. Which was that $1000 is relatively insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

Though choice and circumstance, I could easily donate $1000 and not sacrifice much. If I was willing to sacrifice for a cause, I could put $10,000 and cut back on a few things to make it work. $100,000 is out of the question for my little family, at least in the near future.

At the same time, my wife is a medical resident and I seem to be relatively adept at generating income and business ideas. If we really want to have an impact on this issue, the future is wide open. Stuff that matters… all in good time…

I want to clarify one detail, I watched my sister die from cancer.

She was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma with a primary tumor in the pericardium, which had already metastasized to her lungs when diagnosed. Through the process, she met several young people who were battling this form of cancer, and one by one, we saw them all wither. None that I know of lived through this.

At some point, my sister was in a coma and intubated. She came out of the coma, but we never got to hear her voice again. She struggled on and the doctors had basically cut her in half trying to remove the tumors. When it became clear that she was not going to make it much longer, she begged to go home.

The last few days, she laid in my mother’s living room with a machine breathing for her. She couldn’t speak, but she could communicate by mouthing words and making gestures. Even though she hadn’t been home for months, and there was no way to get her up the stairs to her room, she could still remember every detail and would make requests to be brought things.

Everything about her was perfect and beautiful except for her lungs which were decimated by tumors and treatments.

She became edematous and faded more and more from this world.

I held her hand when they unplugged the machines.

That was almost 10 year ago.

I am thankful that I had a sister. Her name was Ann Shafer.

One day, I hope to be in a position to honor her name with more than $1000 in donations.

I’m not asking anyone for money, but I do appreciate the support that giving symbolizes.

If you have abundance in your life, do stuff that matters with it.

If you don’t, be thankful for what you have and do what you can to cultivate and be a good steward.

Winter Happens

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind,
As man’s ingratitude.

-William Shakespeare

Fast approaching is my second winter as a home ‘owner’, where ‘owner’ really means I have a debt to a bank, but it keeps us warm and dry. Preparing for winter takes some effort. There’s a list of niggling things to do, like blow out the sprinkler lines and other fun stuff; most of which is quite minor and doable but has to be done. Or not… but the alternative to preparing for winter is almost always more costly in the long run.

All in all, we live a pretty easy life. With a gas furnace, indoor plumbing, and refrigeration, it’s practically luxurious compared to what 99% of the people who have lived on this planet experienced.

Imagine if preparing for winter was stockpiling enough wood and food for 3 months. And how about hay for the animals, who you need to plow the fields, once they thaw, of course. Ok, now what happens if winter lasts for 4 months? 3 months in and you are out of food, wood, hay and there is 4 feet of snow and 20 miles from the nearest chance to get more. And just to make it more fun, imagine if everyone else had also only been prepared for the 3 month version of winter. Good times…

So… where were we… oh, yeah, global economic collapse…

Winter happens… everything that goes up must come down. Cycles are inevitable.

The fundamentals of our economy are strong...

The fundamentals of our economy are strong...

What are you going to do? Curl up in a fetal ball and wait for sweet slumber? Hopefully, it’s not blizzard after blizzard from here on out (The DOW has to stop at zero, right?) and you still have a metaphorical month of wood and food, and some hope for getting more, but all signs point to winter, so there is no sense fiddling around with the grasshoppers.

Tim O’Reilly is fond of spreading the ‘create more value than you capture’ meme. (his recent web 2.0 ‘do stuff that matters‘ keynote now seems almost prescient, ‘reality bubble’ indeed… watch Tim at Boston Ignite too)

I really like that idea. If everyone was doing that, most of the problems on the planet would melt away.

I’d like to extend that idea just a bit…

Start by creating value but, ‘capture more value than you consume’.

Hopefully that can get us through to Spring…

Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life’s relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth.

-Soren Kierkegaard

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