Fiction | Love

The story of love that rarely gets told.

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You strike a match, sending an orange peel of firelight into the cold air. You both love these getaways next to a roaring fire under an open, starry sky. This mountain camping trip marks your five-year anniversary.

You grilled chicken and talked about all the things you wanted to accomplish together. You packed up a basket of bread, cheese, and apples and went to eat on a grassy hill overlooking a glassy lake. The sun peeked down from the clouds as you both fell asleep.

Where many couples spoke with banality and resignation, your conversation was full of laughter and…


Humor

The discovery of our heritage provided a huge surprise that I should have seen coming.

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My girlfriend and I have often talked about having kids. It’s fun to speculate: What they’d look like, if they’d get her smarts, my sense of humor.

Coincidentally, my family bought us a DNA test last Christmas. It was a mildly awkward present to receive. It wasn’t like we lived in Alabama and “needed to be sure”. But we didn’t think anything more of it. It would be a fun exercise, to find out what we are and if we have healthy ancestors. We both swabbed the inside of our mouth and sent it off for analysis. …


Self | Life Lessons

You can become great when your talent is strikingly average.

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Smart people fail for many reasons that don’t involve laziness. They don’t network. They act like jerks. They stop learning. They’re disorganized. They’re arrogant. I could go on.

Meanwhile, most highly successful people aren’t exceptional humans. Don’t let that VP title fool you. They weren’t winning any Math Bowls. But they had other skills.

My girlfriend and I were discussing a mutual friend, who is trying to go into her field (academia) and work for her directly. She was expressing her many concerns about his level of motivation and ability.

Finally, I said, “Laura, I mean, I think we both…


Love | Poetry | Life Lessons

Life’s greatest hurdles are the door to positivity.

Man lying on the bed with arms over his eyes.
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The next day, wake up a little earlier than usual. Go to work. Do a bit more than you did the day before. Skip the burger and eat healthy.

Join a gym and do an overdue workout. Stare at the treadmill timer for all 27 minutes. Even better — put a towel over it and lose track of time.

Watch the stars dance in your eyes as you descend deeper into each squat.

When you get home, call an old friend. No, not that one, the other one you should have called years ago. Talk about the old times. Talk…


Self | Business

The key to high energy levels isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.

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It’s 8 PM. Most employees are gone and you’re alone in a huge office.

You leave and it's dark out. The parking lot is empty. You go home and can’t stop thinking about work. You wake up at 3 AM in sweats and respond to a few work emails.

Saturday you come back. Sunday, you are working from home.

CEOs live this life for years. And, somehow, many of them seem full of energy and happy. How do they do it? What can we learn from them?

The truth on their drug use

There’s a stereotype that CEOs are relaxing, doing blow, and getting the overnight…


Creativity | Life Lessons | Self

A creativity and empathy exercise that you can use today.

Couple hugging at the beach.
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Paul McCartney wrote the famous Beatles’ song, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” after overhearing an African man in a club say, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da — life goes on brah. Nutin’ to worry about.”

The phrase got stuck in his head and, years later, became a song that made him millions.

And while I don’t anticipate writing any smash-hit songs, I did start writing phrases down five years ago. Anything I overheard in a public place that caught my attention, went into my sticky-notes app.

This exercise became a surprising source of empathy and inspired my best writing ideas.

A glimpse of motherhood

I used to frequent the South…


Humor | Self Improvement

Our K-9 friends can help us maximize our lives.

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I was having people over for a cocktail party.

We were a late-20s crowd. We still had a bit of party in us — but not to the point of ending the night streaking around the neighborhood.

My slightly deformed golden retriever, Ottie, had RSVP’d as well. I’d asked him beforehand, “Are you going to behave? Please?”


How I practice appreciation for the victims of that day.

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9/11 was my generation's JFK Assassination moment. Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

I was droning my way through a calculus class in my senior year of high school. Our teacher, who also taught theater, was predictably dramatic in his discussion of anti-derivatives.

We heard a knock on the classroom door. It was my history teacher, Dr. Savas, who leaned in and said, “A plane has hit a building in NYC. We are showing it in the auditorium.”

Our teacher, always militant in his curriculum, made us stay for the remaining…


History | Law | Crime

The true story of Susan Kuhnhausen and her would-be killer.

Woman punching a bag.
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I’m not usually a fan of crime stories. Even when the criminal is caught, I end up feeling sad for the victims: Nobody is a winner in a murder case.

The shows are also super predictable. The husband is almost always the killer. He’s your standard self-serving sociopath with narcissism and vindictiveness running through his veins.

Money, or some new young sexual interest, becomes a convenient excuse to kill someone and ruin the lives of an entire extended family. I still don’t understand why people can’t just get a divorce.

Occasionally, I stumble across a crime story that’s plain delicious…


Life Lessons

These realizations help me when I’m in my darker moods.

Couple talking while wife sits in chair in hotel room.
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The Black Friday chaos recap is the worst.

News stations blast footage of people fighting and “throwing hands” in their local Walmart, breaking through the entrance and trampling each other. There are hospitalizations and, sometimes, deaths — all to save $200 on a TV.

Dignity and self-respect sell for cheap these days. It makes me question the necessity of humans on this planet.

I’m also filled with joy and hope in other aspects of life. We should be proud of humanity’s accomplishments. We should remember the following things in our darker moments.

We slay huge problems

Smallpox arrived more than 10,000 years ago.

In…

Sean Kernan

Quality over quantity. That guy from Quora. Open to gigs www.seanjkernan.com

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