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From the boathouse window, Eel Pond, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, January 2021

Losing a Love and Finding Yourself, Again

I couldn’t stand being there another night; not after eight months of COVID and hospice and soggy masks and empty needles and used catheters catching my socks, nodding to another caring stranger by the bed.

My wife had just died after 12 years with incurable cancer, ending our forty-years together. Death may not end a relationship, but it surely changes how you think about yourself and the person you’ve just lost.

I moved into a small cottage on a pond on Cape Cod to think and write — to try to make sense…


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Sammy, my wife’s faithful bedside protector

The mental fog that comes with end-stage liver failure often turns to delirium; toxins in the blood cannot be cleared and anemia deprives the brain of the oxygen it needs to perform higher order functions like comprehension and conversation.

The cancer in my wife’s liver brought us to this place after a dozen years — a new stage, where the intimacy of illness deepened further into the close work of caring for someone, at home, who had begun to die.

If you’ve lived long enough, you may know, firsthand, the overwhelming and terrifying nature of this work — the hardest…


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Source: Cartoonstock

You may be wanting to forget 2019, but chances are good that your boss doesn’t or can’t. It’s performance review season — the second happiest time of the year!

Okay, maybe not so much.

Performance reviews are among the least favorite encounters for both the reviewer and the recipient. This may explain why both parties tend to underrate the importance of review conversations and why most are done so poorly.

Review recipients underestimate the impact of their behavior in the review setting on their boss’s perception of them — a perception that often has a very long shelf life. …


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We think we know who we’re dealing with. We trust our ability to scan and understand what’s inside. But as this picture shows, the warning signs are seldom black and white. They’re meant to get our attention.

People get us wrong all the time, which means we get them wrong all the time.

As the holidays approach, as you navigate the pressurized social circumstances they bring, when there is relatively little time or desire to think, when food and alcohol dumb us all down, you might want to have downloaded the audio of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, Talking to Strangers, onto one of your umbilical devices. The smartphone or iPad that’s responsible for keeping you sane during this most stressful season will thank you.

I’m set — I already have Headspace or Calm, you say.

Good for…


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Learning to de-bug our lives as a daily ritual can makes us healthier and more resilient. We can look to the original ginga ninjas for inspiration. They create mental maps of one another and where they live and are smarter because of this process.

A reader recently asked, “How do you edit your writing?”

“Monkey grooming,” I replied.

“I start at the top, pull apart the fur, pick off the bugs, eat the tasty ones — discarding the rest, then move to the next patch and repeat.”

And, yes, orangutans are apes not monkeys, but I liked the picture. …


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Yielding — offering no resistance — is ultimately a selfish and self-sustaining act but with positive social consequences. Bringing greater presence into our lives means finding ways to make space for others.

What would you do to have greater peace of mind and keep it?

I suspect that letting someone cut in front of you in line wouldn’t be the first thing you’d think to do.

But that is exactly what I’m proposing. (Yes, it’s also a random act of kindness, but that’s a side benefit in the context I’m describing.)

I’m a few months into an experiment to bring…


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Source: CartoonStock

178 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that we know better than we do. The ‘knowing’ he was referring to wasn’t the thinking knowledge we gain from books and teachers but the wisdom we possess from our greater intelligence — a knowing that goes beyond the trained, externally conditioned mind and encompasses all our senses, feeding our deep innate consciousness.

He called it the light that shines through us on all things.

Awareness intelligence is one way to describe that shining, greater wisdom. …


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Source: Cartoon Stock

How Not Thinking Quite So Much Can Make Us Smarter

Spring is here. By now, you’re a few months into your New Year’s resolutions. Or, you’ve already abandoned these and are looking for something new. In either case, here’s a practice to add to your health and wellness commitments for the new year: stop thinking. You’ll be smarter and more content.

This isn’t about dumbing things down. I like (okay, love) to think. I love to think a lot. I think for a living and charge by the hour for it. A lot, I think.

But like any guilty pleasure…


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This post draws from keynote remarks I was privileged to share with healthcare leaders at a national meeting of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care in Chicago on April 21, 2018.

In less than a generation, we’ll routinely see stents implanted, bodies reshaped, vision enhanced, whole joints replaced, and a broad range of non-emergent surgeries performed and paid for in outpatient settings. As healthcare literally rebuilds itself to enable this to happen, the ensuing uncertainty creates opportunities for those willing and able to respond to the realities of change.

As those of you who regularly follow my posts are…


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Tens of millions of us have dread fears that we need help handling. You give a great gift of presence when you ease someone’s way through the darkest places.

It happens over and over again. Every time Indiana Jones is about to grab the Holy Grail or escape the Temple of Doom or rescue the Crystal Skull, snakes…lots and lots of snakes…among other things…get in his way. Indy hates snakes. He doesn’t mind being shot at or buried alive or dropped from the sky. But he hates snakes. (Recall that this doesn’t stop him from accomplishing his mission.)

My wife…

Charles Roussel

For a few decades, I’ve been a business and non-profit leader, adviser, investor, trustee, and observer. I write about mindfulness in business and life.

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