Itty Bliss for May 12


“Ad astra per aspera.” —State motto of Kansas

Optimistic or realistic?

Both. When I started this newsletter, I had to question if it would fall into the trap of blind happiness mentality — one continuous stream of happy quotes and double rainbows. You don’t really want that, do you? Besides, life isn’t like that. It’s through our suffering that we find the meaning, purpose and bliss.

Know Your Triggers

Everyone has triggers — certain situations or thoughts or people which stir discomfort and dread in you. Nightline anchor Dan Harris freaked out on air. Six years later, he’s a meditator…and still anchor. Know your trigger. It’s the one thing that has the power to set you free.

Then Get to Know Yourself

If you can observe your triggers, it’s easier to create space around them. Over time, and with the help of a daily practice like yoga or meditation, you triggers will no longer define or control you. This is the awakening of your true self.


And Stop Watching CNN

Like seriously. Stop watching it.

Jiu Jitsu Match With Your Ego


The ego is a really powerful opponent, something like an 8th Dan degree black belt in jiu jitsu. The ego loves to win. Dexterous, sly, cunning and clever. It loves to make you scared about who you’re not, and pushes you to be someone you can and will never be. It likes to compare you to other, always looking down or up to people, convincingly separating you from other people so it can survive in isolation.

Every day is a fight in the cage. Most days, you don’t even notice it’s a fight. You submit before the match begins. Then something happens — you make an ass of yourself at work, somebody with more money than you moves in next door, or you turn someone off who you were trying to impress. These are opportunities to examine the level at which you operate. Are you operating from your heart, from unlimited friendliness and no fear, or from a place at which you must win and triumph at all costs?

EGO = Edging God Out

Next something bothers you, examine what’s really at stake. Is it your reputation? The things you have? If it’s any of that then you’re probably making space for the ego to do some damage.

I’m not perfect either. Right now I’m looking for a job in San Francisco. Word in Silicon Valley is that a guy like me is too old (I’m 40) and the feedback I’m getting from employers is that I don’t have enough experience. My ego is getting hurt — I don’t stack up to other people, younger people with less experience or older ones with some quantifiable success on their resume.

Lucky me, though: I have this dharma, this practice, of mediation, this ittybliss. It’s a sliver of light shining onto to dark place where the ego lurks. It’s helping me understand the difference between not being good enough to the ego (you could even say the collective ego of all egos combined), and it’s also helping me observe the ego from a small distance. It’s in the fighting cage just heaving and snarling and foaming at the most to take me down and I’m just standing across the way waving and smiling and saying, Hi ego! I’m not going fight today. I’ll just watch you if that’s okay.

How to Never Stagnate


Imagine a murky puddle on the road. The water is brown and stagnant. It does not look inviting. Read More

Live in a Vacation? No Such Thing.

Embracing total confusion and discomfort. It’s another knowing: that being here in San Francisco, now sharing the home of the generous friend who let us stay here, and being blocked from going home due to a strange interplay of financial reasons, and the ebb and flow of emotions — it’s all for a purpose not clear to us yet. And it’s hard to accept because it’s so uncomfortable.

That’s why movies like Gladiator show the hero imagining just being home with his wife and son, but he’s loyal to his mission and he goes out into danger, too. We just ant to be in a place that’s comfortable where you don’t have to fight. Just relax and feel safe. That’s what Hawaii represents to us (though that is also an illusion). Hawaii feels safe and secure and beautiful and gentle and kind.

Maybe it’s even more than being loyal to a mission, and perhaps even more than the face that he possesses skills to help those in power who need it most. Perhaps it’s a divine calling and he know he is to do it. It’s not being happy about it, or sad about it (well actually I think Maximus was forced into it through corruption), but let’s says it is his divine calling.

That’s why I can’t do anything else but what I feel like I supposed to do. How the hell do I know what that is. Funny thing is it seems to be found where there is the most discomfort, in this case it’s here and now. This is what I get for not running away, and lately that’s what we want to do.

But now I also know we’re not here for money, either. I mean yes, money factors into it — for some it’s a huge part, for others not so much, but we’re here to engage in battle. And by that I mean embracing the struggle and doing things that feel meaningful. In my case, perhaps it’s just writing this thing every day and sending it out for people to read and relate to.

The big question is: what the hell are we doing here? Feels like we’re about to struggle for nothing.

Thanks goodness I’ve found a practice.

Welcome to the First Issue

This is the very first issue of IttyBliss — thanks for being here from day one.


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou.

On Medium: “The Peculiar Gift of Cancer”

Part of discovering our bliss is learning how to deal with suffering. An event that breaks you down offers a chance to release and reconcile. This week, I wrote a deeply personal essay about my mom’s cancer and how it’s changed the two of us for the better.

+We may not accept death, but we certainly know that everything dies. This knowing helps us “accept it more easily when it happens to somebody close to you,” writes Eckhart Tolle. Outside we hurt, inside there’s peace.

Really Not Trying to Be Morbid Here…
I know, it’s the first newsletter of IttyBliss and I go right into death—I promise it’s not my plan or my intention. Just happens to be that way.

One way of looking at death is rebirth. Ask the brightest yogi in the room and they might agree. So, thanks for understanding. I promise more uplifting stuff ahead.

The Most Essential Practice

There’s nothing more essential than breathing.

Try this: focus solely on your breath for at least five minutes. Observe air going in, going out. Observe your thoughts as you stay with each full breath. Observe yourself in this space. Then, let it go. Do it again tomorrow. Repeat.

+Meditation starts with conscious breathing. Meditation starts with quieting the mind. Meditation, for me, started with Sharon Salzberg.

IttyBliss for May 19

IttyBliss for May 19


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou.

Essentialism is minimalism For Practical People

You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy…and that’s just the way it goes, right? But how much “busy” is essential to your bliss? Before you scream “I’ll be a mnmlist!,” first consider the three most essential things in your life. For me, it’s a happy and healthy family, the freedom to express myself and the hope to make a difference in the world. Whatever it takes to support that holy trinity — I’ll take it, no more no less.

The Most Essential Practice

There’s nothing more essential than breathing. Try this: focus solely on your breath for at least five minutes. Observe air going in, then going out. Observe your thoughts as you stay with each full breath. Are they crazy or what? Observe yourself in this space. Then, let it go. Do it again tomorrow.

Speaking of Legacy

Heartbreaking news: SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died while vacationing in Mexico. I didn’t know him, but this hits me a little harder than normal: last month my daughter’s kindergarten teacher, Sheri Burke, died suddenly. She was 38, a wonderful soul. It’s soothing to know that people who knew Mr. Goldberg or Ms. Burke shared similar sentiments: Dave was “generous and kind with everybody“, and Ms. Burke “inspired us with her…kind heart.” This goes to show: no matter who you are or what you do, people remember kindness.