Choose to be Curious

Noting the Non Event

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”


Sometimes, what doesn’t happen is as important as what does, but we’re not often inclined to think so. I loved my conversation with Arlington Police Detective Sara Bertollini for pulling that truth forward.

A great conversation. It seems quaintly appropriate that I’m slow to get this posted. The dog didn’t bark…did you notice? 😉

Listen to Choose to be Curious – Episode #9 – The Case of the Curious Detective with Det. Sara Bertollini

Life Lessons



This is how many wheelchair-accessible houses I passed on this morning’s walk: five. That’s a little over one per mile. I passed hundreds of homes. Five had a genuine, universally accessible welcome mat at the front door. Five.

I’ve been thinking about access because I’ve been thinking about aging in place, thanks in no small part to what’s been going on with family, and B. who, though younger, seems always a step ahead in these things. She‘s thinking about aging in place, doing now what will empower her then. It is not a short list.

Then this week I learned about N.’s son, who has suffered the consequences of a devastating collision of youth and gravity. Strong, vital, vigorous, and blessed with a family determined to be grateful for what they still have, S. is now almost certainly wheelchair-bound, facing a rewrite of life’s script that none of us would ever see coming.

I look at doorways differently now.

Also: porches, stairs, light switches, showers, closets, stoves, cars, buses, sidewalks, storefronts… It is not a short list, either.

Another not-so-short list: everything for which I am grateful. Today, in particular: the reminder that life is both precious and precarious, and is most rich when seen through others’ eyes.



Back Story


I’ve always got a couple books going. Generally, it’s a mix of fiction and non. I like to have options. Some get read cover-to-cover, fast. Some linger by the bed for months.

This morning I happened to finish both of my two most recent reads as I hid, once again, from the summer’s heat. It was an odd combination: Diana Athills’ Somewhere Towards the End, an 89 year old’s memoir, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which presumably needs no introduction.

I liked the resonant dissonance of the very personal writers’ writer’s introspection and the spare script on the tail of a popular phenom.

Both very British. Both contemplations of lives well-lived, of the inevitability of death and the importance of friendship along the way. One of paper, the other only ether. Neither long, but coming after much has already transpired. Each an opportunity to revisit, to reframe.

Didn’t really plan for it, but the pairing was actually quite lovely.


Life Lessons

More Whimsy, Please

A few years ago, I sought out an executive coach. Before she would even take me on, she asked me to complete an exercise on values and sign a contract committing to show up for the work ahead. That’s when I knew I’d found the girl for me…

The values exercise was a simple one: pick from a long list the ten features you value most in life. Simple in concept, not necessarily in execution. Forcing choices helped focus thinking. Which did I value most? What didn’t matter at all?  It wasn’t on the list, so I added whimsy.

The list, of course, was just the start. The heavy lifting came in testing what I was actually doing against what I was claiming to want. Whimsy struck me as deeply true in spirit, but not in action. I started to pay attention to the little, silly things that made me smile, looking to put more of them into my day, celebrating when others had done so as well.

A carved bear stands under some trees in an empty field along my route to the Adirondacks. Away from the road which is already in the middle of nowhere, he’s easy to miss. Someone put him there for the fun of it. I watch for him every summer.

We ordered new wine glasses without realizing their size. (Gargantuan. Olivia Pope sized. Way too big for any wine I could ever consume.) I’ve made one my water glass and spend the day drinking delightedly from the ruby red orb atop its slender stem.whimsy wine glass

When a New York Times piece resurfaced about Harvard’s effort to have first year students focus on values, I was reminded how happy I had been to see it the first time. How wise to build the habit early. How utterly essential.

I’m guessing not a lot of those freshmen are putting whimsy on the list, though. Too bad.


Life Lesson #42: “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” ― Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

5-5-5: my new favorite thing

Thanks to my most recent “Choose to be Curious” conversation, I find myself using Jenn Seiff’s  5-5-5 technique all the time.

Bored at the traffic light? Distracted in the market? Relaxing on the dock?  5-5-5. What are the first five things you see? The first five things you hear? The first five things you can feel?

Dappled sunlight. Painted toe nails. Birds on a wire. Kids at the curb. Dog on a leash. Wind. Laughter. Airplanes. My own breathing. A hiccup. Sun on my face. Wind in my hair. Hands on the wheel. Feet on the floor. Beat of my heart.

It’s grounding. Deeply grounding. Brings you back to the moment, to the essential, to the now. My new favorite way to be quickly, quietly, wonderfully curious.

Listen to Choose to be Curious – Episode 8: Curiosity, Body Awareness and Yoga.



The rain had stopped, but not the wind. Lying in my tent, I listened to it whip over the ridge and across the lake, bullying everything in its path.

Somewhere in the woods a tree fell. I heard it. It definitely made a sound.


The next day, I leaned back in the ragged deck chair, feeling the sun on my face. With my eyes closed I counted the first five things I could hear.

Water splashing the rocks. Water splashing the docks. A breeze in the trees. Something small and foraging in the underbrush.

It took a long time for a fifth sound to emerge, floating light and bright through the woods: laughter.


Back home, I am accosted by the volume of things. The window air conditioner’s roar makes the bedroom feel like a highway rest stop. The delivery trucks seem gargantuan, and ready to explode. I am reminded just exactly how close the airport is.

This morning, the night cooler and air conditioner mercifully off, I luxuriated in the predawn murmur: a distant soft metallic hum, a few hungry birds, the light tapping of the shade on the frame of my open window.