Word of the Day: Propinquity


Noun: Nearness in place or time; nearness in relationship; similarity in nature.

I want to introduce you to a very special couple. You don’t meet people like this every day, and I’m proud to call them my friends.

You see, my friends, Steve and Kathryn, have been married for 65 years! Most of us cannot even fathom spending that much time together with another person.  I’ve been married for 21 years and we’re not even halfway there!

I love to watch Steve and Kathryn together.  While they live in the Green Tree Nursing Home, they still share the same room.  They both use walkers and regularly stroll up and down the halls together.  If you stand at the far end of the hallway and see them coming toward you, you’d think they were a brother/sister pair instead of husband/wife.  They look like siblings!  Roughly the same height. Same hunched shoulders. Same slight limp of the left leg. Same generous smile. Same timbre of voice.  Yes, they could be twins.

Mostly, I love to sit and talk with them; hear them tell the story of their 65 years together.  You can’t help but smile as they finish each other’s sentences, or nod in knowing agreement at some statement of fact the other has recollected.  It’s an amazing story to hear and I hope you get to know a couple like Steve and Kathryn.  65 years of sharing the same bed, living in the same house, eating the same food, watching the same TV shows, raising children, practicing the same faith, celebrating victories and comforting each other through the losses.  It’s the story of life lived together.

65 years of propinquity has taken two very different people and knitted them together in a physical and emotional bond that has, quite literally, caused the two to become one!

Here’s to Steve and Kathryn, an inspiration to us all!

P.S.  Thanks for the word suggestion, Steve! This one’s for you!

Bruce’s Word of the Day is just my way of having a little fun with vocabulary and language. I’d love to read your comments on today’s word, so don’t be shy.  If you’d like to suggest a word, you may also let me know in the comments.

Word of the Day: Obdurate


Adjective: Stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.

Sandy stood on the back porch and looked toward the garage. She could hear the clanking of tools and the occasional swearing from her husband who had been working since mid-morning to replace to the water pump on their ’86 Ford Ranger. I’m pretty sure it would have been so much easier to find a new motor on Zemotor than messing around repairing their Ranger all the time.

She heaved a weary sigh and started walking in that direction.

“Honey, dinner’s just about ready. Why don’t you wash up and come to eat? You didn’t have any lunch, so I know you’ve gotta be hungry,” Sandy said to her husband’s back. He was hunched over the front grill reaching for a different wrench from the box sitting on top of the engine.

He turned to look at her over his shoulder and wiped the sweat off his forehead with a greasy hand. “I’m not comin’ in ’til I get this thing fixed. I told you that earlier.” It wasn’t quite a snarl, but it was close.

“Baby, you’ve been at it all day. Why don’t you just call Tom and ask him to come over to help you? He said he’d be happy to come if you needed any help.” There was a slight pleading tone in her voice as she broached this delicate subject.

“Stop it! Just stop it! I don’t need any help! I… I just don’t have the right tools! But I’ve got it on and I think I can get it tightened up enough with what I’ve got. I don’t need Tom. Just… give me a bit longer… please!” The “please” really just meant “go away and leave me alone” but he was trying to be polite.

Sandy put her hands on her hips and said: “Bruce Van Horn, you are the most obdurate man I have ever met!” She turned to head back toward the house.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah! You can call me all the big college names you like, but I’m still not comin’ in ’til I get his done!” Bruce yelled back. “Obdurate? I’ll show her obdurate,” he muttered under his breath and turned back to the truck.

Bruce’s Word of the Day is just my way of having a little fun with vocabulary and language. I’d love to read your comments on today’s word, so don’t be shy. If you’d like to suggest a word, you may also let me know in the comments.

Parenting Help from Dr. Meg Meeker

Let’s face it.  I don’t like anyone giving me parenting advice!  However, we can all use a little help these days from someone who has tons of experience with kids.  I recently read 2 books on parenting that have really impacted the way I think about how I interact with my boys.

Dr. Meg Meeker’s books, “Boys Should Be Boys” and “Strong Father, Strong Daughters” really opened my eyes and taught me a lot about my boys and a lot about myself.  The Strong Fathers book taught me a lot about my wife!

I’ve recommended these books to all of my friends so I thought I’d practice my “book reviewer” skills and share my thoughts with you.  If you buy or checkout either of these books from the library, I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Boys Should Be Boys
Meg Meeker, M.D.I don’t think I can recommend this book highly enough.  Any parent of boys or anyone who would like to know more about how boys are made should definitely read this book.  I not only learned a ton of stuff about my boys, I also learned a lot about myself and why I do some of the things I do (men are still boys, you know!).  I will warn you, however, that this is not an easy book to read!  It revealed a lot of my flaws as a parent, and revealed a lot my insecurities as a man, but it also gave me encouragement that I’m at least doing a few things right!  I love my boys and want them to grow up to strong, brave, passionate, loving men and fathers.  If you want that for your boys, read this book!
Boys Should Be Boys - Meg Meeker, M.D.
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Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
Meg Meeker, M.D.I only have boys so I have no experience raising daughters.  However, I’m married to a daughter and have many friends with daughters.  I am constantly amazed (read: disappointed) at the way some men treat their daughters or wives and then wonder why they have problems at home.  Conversely, I know many men who are doing a great job at being the man they want their daughters to marry.  I first learned about Dr. Meeker and this book when I heard her on Dave Ramsey’s radio show.  Dave talked about how this book impacted him as he raised his daughters.  After listening to her talk about how important the role a dad plays in the life of his daughter, I knew I had to read to this book!  If you are a dad with a daughter, this is a MUST READ!  For everyone else out there, man or woman, it’s still a must read!
Strong Father, Strong Daughters - Meg Meeker, M.D.
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I Like to Watch…

I like to watch. It’s hard to say exactly why, but that’s the truth of it: I just like to watch her.

And of all the different situations and scenarios in which I like to watch her, this, I’m quite sure, is my favorite. It’s 5:30 AM and most of the normal world is still asleep, but she’s been up for more than 30 minutes already. She doesn’t do this every morning, but, a few times a week, this is her routine: She gets up early, puts on a baggy sweatshirt, some shorts and takes her cup of coffee outside to sit the dunes and watch the morning sun rise up out of the sea.

Sometimes I join her; sometimes, like this morning, I just sit on the deck and watch her. It’s about 100 yards from where I sit on the old porch swing on our wrap-around deck to where she sits on the dune, so, because it’s still dark but getting lighter, I only see her shadowy figure against the slowly coloring sky.

What’s she doing? She’s watching the morning come. It’s something she never tires of doing and I could sit here and watch her do this for hours and never tire of it.

Have you ever felt so much love for someone that you thought your heart would break just from the weight of carrying it? Do your eyes ever pool with tears of joy simply at the sight of something so stunningly beautiful and natural that your body just has to respond and tears is only way it knows how?

Have you ever hiked high up into the mountains following a path through a thick forest and come around a bend to discover a grassy meadow you didn’t expect to find, and in that meadow you saw a fawn grazing peacefully in the dew-covered grass; your eyes changing focus to discover the fawn’s mother about 10 yards behind also grazing, completely comfortable in this place and totally oblivious to your presence? They fit so perfectly, they belong here and you sense the perfect harmony in which they live.

Your very soul goes through a cosmic struggle of love and longing—a longing to know this kind of harmony and crushed by the knowledge that it isn’t meant for you—you want so much to enter into that place but you know how unnatural you are and that your presence would destroy their harmony…

So you just watch and soak it in for as long as you can.  The tear reminds you that it is possible to miss something that you have never known…

That’s what I feel right now watching her watch the morning come.

It’s like the James Taylor song: “Karen sees the silver sun, you best walk her way and watch it shine; watch her watch the morning come. A silver tear appearing, now I’m crying, ain’t I, … There ain’t no doubt in no one’s mind that love’s the finest thing around, whisper something soft and kind…”

The sheer beauty of this moment and waves of love that flow through me have a tear slowly rolling down my cheek.

I have no desire to wipe it away.

Ugly Beginnings

GIF source: Imgur via Reddit

Look at the guy in this clip! I’m thinking he didn’t have anywhere near 10,000 hours of treadmill experience! (see my previous post on Outliers if you don’t get the reference). Ugly outcome. The sad thing is I’ve been this guy way too often in my life. So, while I still laugh every time I see this, I can totally relate to what an “epic fail” feels like! Can you?

Beginnings are never pretty. Never.

Starting something new requires that we try something we’ve never attempted before. Whether it’s painting, riding a bike, playing a musical instrument, starting a business or running on a treadmill. If you are doing it for the first time, the beginning will be ugly (and sometimes painful!). That’s OK!

I remember when I started running again just before I turned 40. I set off with lofty goals of getting out there and quickly getting back to the shape I was in in high school. I know that sounds stupid now, but that’s what I thought. I was highly motivated and committed to becoming a “Runner” so I joined the YMCA and, like the guy above, started on a treadmill. It was ugly! Not as ugly as this guy’s experience, but ugly nevertheless. I barely made it a third of a mile before I was completely out of breath and couldn’t go any farther.

I was frustrated by my first attempt, but was committed to keep trying.

I decided I started off too fast so, next time, I set the speed much slower, sure that I could go farther at a slower pace. Nope. Same frustrating result. What made it worse was there were old, overweight, ladies on the treadmills all around me making it look easy! I felt ugly!

It took going to the Y 3-4 times a week for almost 3 weeks before I was able to jog an entire mile (just 1 mile!) without walking. But when I did, it felt great. I didn’t feel like a failure anymore. The really cool thing is this: it only took 1 more week before I was able jog 2 miles without walking. Now, 8 years later, I run marathons and feel very confident in my abilities as a runner. Now I call myself a “Runner”!

The beginning was ugly, very ugly, but I kept at it. Kept practicing. Kept learning.

But…. you know what? Every time I go out for a run, whether it’s training or an actual race, I hate the first few miles! I don’t start to feel good until I’m a few miles into it. So, even now, the beginning of every run feels “ugly” to me until I find my stride, my rhythm.

Every great painting, painted by a master artist, starts off as an ugly brush stroke on a blank canvas! But the master keeps adding more strokes, more colors, more textures until it becomes what it always was in his mind–a masterpiece!

One mistake we all make in life is comparing ourselves to somebody who is already great at what we want to do or be. We set off with a goal of becoming like that person, but beginnings are ugly and we compare our ugly beginning with their finished masterpiece. It’s not a valid comparison! If you asked, I’d bet that person would tell you he felt the same way when he started–and that would shock you!

Never compare your start with somebody’s finish!

A friend of mine started a business a few years back. For anyone who has done the same, or has a knowledge of business, you will know how demanding this can be. Starting in a good financial position can make all the difference in the world. You can visit the atlantic union bank website to learn more about how to leverage financial services that will benefit you and your business, such as loans. Owning a business doesn’t just involve being at the forefront and making sales; there are a lot of behind the scenes details that need to be dealt with. For example, keeping control of the financial side of the company, which can not only be tedious and time-consuming but lead to huge consequences if mistakes are made. This is why many new business owners ensure they have an accountant that can help them with anything that they can’t fully understand, including small business bookkeeping. Nevertheless, if you do one thing wrong with the startup of your business, the beginnings can be ugly. My friend seemed to have things under control, but there were some problems with the payroll that caused plenty of issues. Things certainly went ugly. However, he learned from his mistakes. He decided to use the payroll services from so that it wouldn’t happen again and he now has a successful business.

You see this sort of thing everywhere. Take this blog for instance. I’m an experienced, well-known web developer. That’s my profession. How do you think I feel about this personal blog site? Yup. It’s ugly and I’m embarrassed to tell people about it. I’m hoping in a few months or a few years I will look back and say “well, it started out ugly but look at it now!” This is how most people are on the path to developing themselves and their skillsets. There’s probably not a web developer alive who hasn’t worked on things that they would do better now they have loads of experience under their belts. This Great post from Slickplan shows how web developers and UX designers can showcase their best work in order to drive more business their way. Of course, they’re not going to include the stuff from their past which they are not as proud of; that’s the nature of progression.

You have a masterpiece in your mind right now, don’t you? Doesn’t matter what it is, it’s important to you. But you’re just starting out and feel ugly. That’s OK! We all start out that way! Keep going and don’t settle for ugly. Make it better. Make it beautiful.