Author Archives: David Bloom

Happily Ever After

As We Move Forward: Happily Ever After

Looking Forward

Everyone has heard many stories that begin, “Once upon a time…”. These stories begin by telling about a time that seemed good and simple in comparison to whatever is going on in the present. The story begins by describing a happy time in someone’s life. Often life in the opening segments of this story are actually bigger than real life. Sometimes the person is a prince or princess. Sometimes they are the beloved child of an adoring parent. The situation varies, but it almost always looks back to a happy time.

Then, something tragic happens. Perhaps the loving parent dies, leaving the child to be raised by a cruel stepparent. The crisis can be anything that alters people’s lives. The thing the crisis does in every case is to take away hope. I have seen a lot of loss of hope in our current crisis. So many things have been taken out of people’s control. Whole industries like travel, including the cruise industry have been stopped indefinitely. The movie theater industry was on shaky ground before this crisis. Now there are real questions as to if and when it will recover.

The hopelessness can be seen in places where lots of people gather, like schools, including plays and sporting events. Think of what it has been like for professional sports teams to play with no one in the stands. This doesn’t even talk about all the events that have been postponed indefinitely.

I understand the importance of the safety precautions like masks and social distancing. I must admit that when I go back to some place that has re-opened, the circles six feet apart and the proliferation of plexiglass everywhere make me wish for the day when all this was not a part of everyday life.

Finally, not being able to really look to a specific time when these things will go away does tend toward creating feelings of hopelessness. I see a lot to indicate that feeling is affecting many people. That fits with what happens in the middle of these stories. Many people seem lost in a sense of hopelessness. Where do we find our hope during a major crisis? How do we get to our, “happily ever after” conclusion?


As we move forward, we need to ask ourselves where we on the hopeful/hopeless scale. If we are basically hopeful, it would be good to ask ourselves what we can do to offer hope to others. Some of those things involve simply being more patient and encouraging to others. Tempers can be shorter during this crisis. Some people seem to have their emotions on a hair trigger. This crisis is a time to be as patient and understanding of others as we can possibly be. Affirming and accepting others can help them feel hopeful.

As we move forward, if we see ourselves losing hope, reach out to someone who is expressing hope in the way they live their lives. Find someone you can share your concerns with and who will guide you in seeking hope amid this crisis. We need to go through this together-not alone.


As We Move Forward: Strategies

Playing Video Games

I was recently involved in playing an online game with members of my extended family. There were three generations of people involved in playing the game. We were each on our smartphones. I cannot tell you the name of the game. I was the oldest of those playing the game. Having only a basic understanding of the rules of the game, I did my best to follow the rules as I was learning them. The most enjoyable thing for me in this whole experience was getting to spend some time interacting with people who are important to me. I will more than likely participate in this game again, but I seriously doubt I will ever accomplish more than possibly learning a few more of the rules.

When I was younger, I learned the fundamentals of the game of chess. I have played several games of chess. I even joined the chess club in junior high. Can’t recall ever winning a game of chess. I read a number of books on chess. I have opened several nice chess sets in my life. The thing that kept me from really getting good at chess is the simple fact that I am not good at forming and carrying out a strategy. I have watched enough people play chess to know that good players start each game with a definite strategy. Depending on how the game goes, they follow that strategy or choose another one to match and eventually seek to counter and overcome the moves made by their opponent.

My limited experiences playing chess made me aware for the first time that I am not good at strategies, and I do not enjoy them. I love learning, and I am interested in many things. I am just less interested in things that involve developing and carrying out strategies. This is probably why I enjoy word games and not games based on having strategies to reach your objective and gain victory over an opponent. When I was in college, many of the students enjoyed playing the military strategy game Risk. In our dorm, Risk games would often go on all weekend. I never felt a desire to play.

In my personal and professional life I am often faced with the need for strategies I am blessed to have people in my life who are good at developing strategies and carrying them out. I bring the ability to see the big picture to these situations, I sometimes forget that this ability is valuable as well. This goes to show we are dependent in our relationships. When we face a crisis, we need the ability to both see the big picture and to develop the strategies to get us through challenging situations.


As we move forward, it might be worthwhile to reflect on whether we are someone who can see and articulate a big picture view or whether we excel at developing and carrying out strategies. Chances are we are better at one than we are at the other and that we like one more than the other.

As we move forward, especially in a crisis, we should concentrate on the things we are better at and develop relationships with people who bring other strengths to the table. This is much more satisfying than trying to survive a crisis alone, especially when that calls for things that are not our particular strengths.

To Whom Are You Accountable?

As We Move Forward: To Whom Are You Accountable?

Parent and Child

From the moment we are born, we are accountable to someone. Right after the stage where we sleep, eat and cry all the time, we are accountable to our family members for the very first things we learn. Thankfully, in most cases, the members of our family hold us accountable for developing behaviors based on love. We get rewarded for smiling and laughing. As we get a little older, we get rewarded for playing nicely with others, for learning rhymes, songs and games at the urging of those closest to us. In these and many other ways, we are held accountable by people who want to see us become valued members of society.

Not every child remains accountable to people whose goal is producing people who are a credit to society. A very famous novel by the English author Charles Dickens describes young children who are raised by criminals and trained to engage in a number of illegal activities. These children were accountable to people whose only purpose was using these children for their selfish, illegal purposes.

This type of gang activity is portrayed in many books and movies. Young people seeking acceptance are recruited into these groups, holding themselves out to represent acceptance and material gain in exchange for unquestioning loyalty and obedience. The criminal activities demanded of the gang members coupled with the threat of death for leaving the gang, gang can be called holding oneself accountable—to absolutely the wrong type of people.

There are ways that some of us hold ourselves accountable that can have entirely different-totally positive results. When someone decides to go out for sports, when they become seriously involved with music or theater, one of the primary things that happens is holding yourself accountable. It may be to teachers, coaches or some other group that gives guidance, direction and a sense of real purpose.

Sometimes we hold ourselves accountable to the wrong people. It is important to be certain the people we choose to hold ourselves accountable to share our values and beliefs. There seen to be many people today whose first response to everything is to hate. If we hold ourselves accountable to those who speak hate in every situation, it is hard to see that lining up with our values and beliefs,


Holding ourselves accountable to the right people will keep us from leaving the right path. Holding ourselves accountable to people who know what is right is essential in a world filled with so many conflicting voices. The right person can guide us back if we get sidetracked.

As we move forward, it is always a good thing to ask ourselves who we hold ourselves accountable to. Occasionally, veering off the path can happen to any of us. Staying off the path has grave consequences. To whom do you hold yourself accountable? Are they giving you the guidance and direction you need?

Knowledge Is Not Wisdom

As We Move Forward: Knowledge Is Not Wisdom


Wisdom can be defined as the soundness of an action or decision regarding the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. This is different from knowledge, which we can say is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. One of the things I have found amazing over the course of my life is how rapidly the knowledge in the world has increased over the years. I recall reading that sometime around the beginning of the twentieth century the knowledge in the world doubled every hundred years. Later in the twentieth century, I believe I read that the world’s knowledge doubled every fifty years. I have no idea how frequently the knowledge in the world doubles today, but I am certain it is not much time.

I remember when most knowledge was in printed form. Libraries were the repository for much of the world’s knowledge. I can remember many times during my years of formal education when research involved spending hours in a library, searching for written sources of the portions of the world’s knowledge that pertained to the research being called for. With knowledge in this printed form, there was a closer connection to the principles of wisdom. Not everything that was printed could be said to comply with the tests of experience, knowledge and good judgment, Our society in general seemed focused on having our knowledge conform with the principles of wisdom.

Beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century, the way we manage knowledge changed forever. Although it took place over years, looking back it seems almost an overnight phenomenon when knowledge went from printed to digital. It is common now for someone to take out a device to find the answer to anything or ask a device powered by Alexa, Siri or Google the answer to virtually any question. This phenomenon is truly amazing, but I have been thinking a lot about how this explosion of knowledge and having it instantly available lines up with wisdom. What I am actually doing in these instances is to seek wisdom to know whether what I am reading is sound or not. I’ll admit it has taken a while for me to be able to accept a concept like fake news. To me, the very notion of fake news does not even make sense. If something is fake, it cannot be news. If it is truly news, it cannot be fake.

Internet Connectivity

I read things on social media, and often my first response is to ask whether what I have read is true or not. I’m not talking here about differences of opinion with a goal of persuading someone to accept a particular argument as sound. This is deliberately stating things that are not true, holding them out as fact. That, to me, is propaganda, and the last I knew, that was a deliberate misrepresentation of facts, or knowledge.

As we move forward, it is probably more important all the time to view any knowledge through the lens of wisdom. Experience, knowledge and good judgment still seem to be good standards to use in evaluating knowledge. Is this confusing? Yes, I believe it can be. Is it difficult? Certainly. Wisdom can be hard to recognize in the sea of knowledge that is only going to increase. As we move forward in this ever-expanding sea of knowledge, let us always seek to make wisdom our guide.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.

More Than Meets The Eye

As We Move Forward: More Than Meets The Eye

Baby & Parent

This is a phrase we use often. It can have a broad range of meaning, depending on the circumstances in which it is used. The phrase actually impacts our lives right from the beginning. As babies, none of us know the planning, the love and the hope that precedes most births. So many lives can be involved in the events leading up to the birth of a child. The relationships that can be impacted by the birth are limited only by the number of people involved. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles can all be directly affected by each birth.

The baby is totally oblivious to any of this, but it doesn’t make it any less real. Not wanting to over-simplify life, this scenario of most circumstances involving much more than is apparent in everyday situations can be said about many things. One of the aspects of childhood that illustrates the principle that there is more to something than meets the eye has to do with celebrations like birthdays and Christmas. As a child, the excitement that surrounds celebrations like these doesn’t begin to compare with the elaborate preparations that go into making these events the special times of real magic that they are. Even adults enjoy being amazed and surprised at times like these.

We routinely suspend belief to experience things that we find entertaining. Movies and television are clearly settings where the reality behind much of what is presented is clearly more than meets the eye. There have been a number of plots over the year when a character, whether through the device of supposed time travel or some other phenomenon is suddenly “introduced” to television. The simple, straightforward acceptance as real of the things they see on television makes a very interesting, entertaining demonstration of the fact that there is so much more to reality than what we are shown on media.

Another example of how we embrace the fact that there is more than meets the eye is how far we go when visiting some place like Disney World to completely set aside reality to fully experience the fantasy experience we are seeking. It is normal and perfectly acceptable to embrace the “reality” presented at Walt Disney World as long as we can remain clear as to where reality ends and fantasy begins.

Social media can make it more difficult to keep the balance of reality and fantasy since it is easy for anything we think to be presented with the same volume whether it is true or made up. It is difficult to know when there is more to any situation than meets the eye. Conflicting opinions, each able to find a voice of equal volume can and often does lead to real confusion.


In the context of a crisis, this confusion can lead to things like frustration and even anger. When we know there is more to a situation than meets the eye but don’t always know what that is, it becomes easy to allow emotion to overcome reason. Then the distinction between what is real based on observable fact and what is part of more than meets the eye becomes more difficult to determine.

As we move forward, it can be helpful to remember that there are many things in our lives that are more than meets the eye. It can be helpful to proceed carefully in dealing with others, recognizing how easily we can lose sight of what is important, a constant search to find what is true. Truth always meets the eye.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.


As We Move Forward: Harmony


Music has had an important place in my life. I remember having a record player as a young child-a 45 rpm record player. I played my records so often I had the words of the songs memorized. Although I was not consciously aware of it, I also recognized and responded to the harmony in the music. Another place I learned to recognize harmony was in the hymns we sang in church. My grandfather was someone I could always listen to, so I could sing the tenor line in hymns or the bass part in three part harmonies. As my voice deepened, he served as an example to me to learn and to sing the harmony lines in these songs. I remember being impressed from an early age with the richness harmony brought to singing these familiar songs.

In school, I learned to play two instruments, both of which provided the harmony in band and orchestra music. I became conscious over time of just how many layers go into the harmony in most band and orchestral music. The richness and diversity of it was largely dependent on the musical ability of various musicians, their sense of timing and, of course, the skill of the director to make certain the right parts were the correct We performed at the correct time, at the proper volume and at the correct tempo.

While the melody is important in any piece of music, my memory is that more rehearsal time was spent on the various harmony parts than on the musicians who carried the melody. I believe that initial fear of missing your part or playing it incorrectly or at the wrong tempo may be an initial barrier to achieving harmony. It can be intimidating to watch the director and make your entrance correctly.

This analogy can be applied not only to music but to many situations in life. Our part in our personal relationships, our jobs and other groups we are a part of may be playing one of the harmony parts. Few of us are called on in our lives to play the melody. Our part might seem small and might seem to be unnoticed, almost to the point of being invisible. We might be reluctant or even afraid to play our harmony part. This can be difficult enough when the director is known and the directions are clear.

When there is chaos and a number of voices all clamoring for our attention and claiming to be the leader, it can be intimidating to play our part. Without every part played properly and at the correct tempo, there can be no harmony. In this situation, the whole piece suffers.


As we move forward, let us envision the piece we are performing. How clear are we about the overall theme and purpose of the composition. Who is the director? Can we see that person and follow their direction? What do we do if there are more than one person claiming to be the director and vying for our attention? What if groups of musicians are following other directors and shouting at us to follow them?

As we move forward, how can we help others hear the voice of the director and follow the director so all the parts will be played properly? Only in this way can harmony be achieved. Harmony is not achieved when our part or that of someone else is silenced. Harmony occurs when all the parts are played as intended.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.


As We Move Forward: Pioneers


We all find the idea of being a pioneer exciting. The idea of being the first to explore a new place or try a new idea has a certain fascination. History is filled with stories of people who left their homes for all kinds of reasons and all sorts of hopes and dreams and went to new and different places.

The study of history is largely a study of pioneers. People who left one place and made a new life and a new start in another. Sometimes the motivation was seeking new trade routes. Sometimes it was seeking precious metals like gold. There are numerous accounts in our history of people who sacrificed comfort and home to seek wealth in new places. One thing these stories have in common is how often being a pioneer involved incredible hardship.

I love visiting Colonial Williamsburg. I have developed incredible respect for the people who pioneered the experiment in freedom and democracy that has become the United States of America. While I would like to believe I would have the courage they demonstrated in risking their lives and their finances to make this country into a reality. Hindsight is an incredible gift in seeing the role of pioneers. Uncertainty and frustration were undoubtedly far more common among those early pioneers than the pride we experience when we celebrate what their sacrifice made possible.

That’s one of the things about pioneers. Going into their experience, things often look bleak and even hopeless. The people who settled the expanding territory that became the United States did not know what was ahead of them. They knew what they were leaving behind, but the hardship and uncertainty they faced was not the romantic scenarios we like to remember.

There have been statesmen pioneers as well. Many believe Abraham Lincoln may have been the greatest US President. He took over a country on the brink of division and brought it back together. As a major part of that process he led enslaved people to freedom. There were many pioneers in that period and in the course of our country so far. Times of great uncertainty and need call forth the pioneer spirit in some people.

Like pioneers in exploration and expansion, pioneers in science and technology often faced great challenges. Medical breakthroughs came in the midst of sickness, suffering and death. I enjoyed reading about the lives of great inventors when I was growing up. Thomas Edison is someone I have always admired. His invention of the incandescent light bulb transformed nighttime from a world of darkness to light.


Who are the pioneers in our present time of darkness, doubt and uncertainty? What journey, discoveries and explorations will our modern pioneers accomplish? What hardships will they face? What will things look after they have settled this new frontier?

As we move forward, it might be useful to recognize we are at a time that is made for pioneering. The darkness, despair and fear that seems to be everywhere cries out for people with the pioneering spirit. Are you one of the pioneers who will triumph over this time of uncertainty? What is your role in this terrifying, exciting challenging time? What will history say about your role in this time of pioneering? Write your answer with hope, as did the pioneers who came before you.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.

What Comes Next?

As We Move Forward: What Comes Next?

Playing Games

We might be surprised how many times we ask this question “What comes next?” Remember learning a new game, particularly one you found enjoyable? As you learned the rules and how to play, your mind probably raced constantly to what came next. It has been said that play is the work of childhood. In play, we learn the skills we will need throughout our lives. These lessons are constant and ongoing. Looking for what comes next becomes a natural part of our growing up.

I had the privilege of attending all six years of elementary school in the same building. We literally started at one end of the building-the “new” addition and worked our way to the basement of the “old” building, finally ending up upstairs in the old building. The whole progression through that school was a series of anticipating what came next.

My elementary school had a massive playground. Many of the swings, slides, monkey bars and so forth were only available to be used by the older kids. We used to look forward to what next as we became old enough to use the playground equipment reserved for the big kids.

The last piece of equipment I remember being big enough to ride was called the Ocean Wave. It was sort of like a merry-go-round. Only it did not just go around and around. It went in and out like a wave. When it got going really fast, it was a challenge to hang on. Every child in that school looked forward to the day what came next was being able to ride the Ocean Wave.

Another thing we had that school was the woods. To the little kids it seemed as if the woods went on forever. Of course, they didn’t. One of the things that added to that mystery was that there were degrees of how far you could go into the woods. There were two or three very low fences in the woods. Little kids had to stop at the first fence. It was fun just going into the woods, but reaching the fence made us eager for what came next. It was worth the wait. Further, back in the woods there were some rock formations that provided some great opportunities for the older kids to play more grown up games.

Reaching the point where we could go as far as the fence at the end of the woods was actually disappointing. Suddenly, there was no what came next. We were there. Sometimes in our lives we reach the fence at the end of the woods. What comes next is either unattainable or no longer exciting. Sometimes what comes next can be confusing, especially when we hear many people telling us many versions of what comes next.

That confusion can result in our getting stuck, unable to move toward what comes next. What might be next can sometimes be scary and confusing. We all know that we cannot go back to what was even if that seems comfortable. We must keep moving to what comes next, even if it seems uncertain.


As we move forward, it can sometimes be fun to take a mental journey to look at our journey up to this point and remember all the exciting things we discovered and experienced as we went through the things that came next at each stage of our lives. Let’s use the memories of these discoveries to embrace what is coming next for the new adventure, the growth that it will be for each of us. How do you feel about what comes next?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.

Shared Values

As We Move Forward: Shared Values


One of the easier things to recognize might be shared values. Just realizing we are feeling comfortable in a given situation and around certain people can lead us to conclude we anew in a setting with shared values. It can be more difficult to understand what those shared values are. When we are young our values are shaped primarily by our families. I have read that a child’s values are largely formed in the first three years of life. They form so naturally that most children just assume that the way their family looks at things is the way everyone does.

One of the first things that help us identify our values is how our family spends its time. My father was a teacher. There were five children in my family. My mother did not work outside our home. For this and other reasons, my father worked all the time. He had several part-time jobs throughout the school year and a full-time job in the summer. None of these jobs paid very well, and, especially his summer job, demanded long hours, seven days a week.

This schedule did not include family vacations. I can’t recall more than three trips we took while I was growing up. Two of these were to visit relatives and friends. I grew up in an area where people come every year for vacation. I’ve always known vacations are part of the shared value system of many people. It was just not part of my shared values growing up. The shared values I developed centered around my family and my church. They also included a strong work ethic.

As a teenager, I spent most of my time with young people from several groups. There was our youth group at church. The rest were people, mostly from a band, with whom I shared interests and values. The process of discovering shared values continued. Since I chose to go to college, I spent four years with people whose values included an appreciation for higher education.

The career I prepared for required three years of graduate school. This is a result of shared values. Here again, I found more people with whom to develop shared values. In the process of education, I met the person I have been privileged to share my life with. Our relationship demonstrates that people who share values can have very different views of life. It also demonstrates that shared values can expand or even change. One of our shared values has become travel. Recently we passed a sort of a milestone. We have now traveled in all fifty states. This is not a specific goal. It was rather a result of our shared value of travel and experiencing new places and things.


I have been blessed in my life to be able to pursue two different careers, each for more than twenty years. This is a result of shared values involving helping others attain their goals in life. My most enduring relationships over all this still encompass many shared values. I am pleased that whatever happens in life, my values sustain me and give me the strength to keep going. There are many voices today literally shouting at us what others think our values should be. Sometimes those voices can drown out our inner voice, the one that reminds us of what our values are. The relationships in which we experience these shared values help keep us directed and focused, even in the midst of the loud distracting voices telling us things we know are not true.

As we move forward, it is a good idea from time to time to reflect on our shared values. How did we come to have them? With whom do we share them? What do they mean in a world with more conflict all the time? As we move forward, let our shared values continue to give us guidance and strength to live through whatever life brings us.

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.


As We Move Forward: Reunions


One interesting thing about the time I grew up and the dynamics of the place I grew up is that I was part of a multi-generational family, many of whom lived in the immediate area. This was a time when families regularly held reunions. As I recall, over my youth and teen years, I attended a number of reunions for at least three families. My parents and especially my grandparents made certain to introduce me to relatives I might not have known. I always enjoyed hearing stories of family history. I always enjoyed meeting or seeing relatives, the adults, and the “cousins.’

The locations of these reunions varied. Some were held at family homes. Sometimes the event was too large to be held at a home. I remember a few that were held in parks. I also remember some of the events being held at community halls. I remember one relative who had a position in a township government. I learned some interesting things at one of our reunions talking with her about local government.

Several of the relatives at these reunions were involved in farming. The area I grew up in was largely rural, but I have never lived on a farm and have very little first-hand knowledge of what life on a farm is about. I remember one reunion where I saw the farm of relatives after a tomato harvest. I remember being fascinated by this up-close look at how a harvest is carried out.

I confess the lesson about harvesting tomatoes had a deeper impact on me. A number of crops, including tomatoes, were harvested by migrant workers at the time in our area. I went to school with people whose parents had come to our area as migrant farmworkers and who had decided to stay.

In addition to reunions, my grandparents would take me to visit some of these relatives. I recall visiting several farms over the years and having cousins show me around their farms. To a young boy, these farms seemed magical. We visited one relative who owned a sawmill. That was a fascinating visit and look at how other people lived their lives.

Over my adult life, I have had numerous experiences with reunions based on high school and college graduation. Some have been associated with organizations I have shared participating with others. The thing all these reunion experiences have in common is a shared experience or relationship that gives people a desire to come together and talk about their lives in terms of these things we have in common.

These opportunities to experience a reunion are important as our lives become more and more complex. We need opportunities where we can share based on things we have in common with other people.


As we move forward, it is helpful to think about our times of reunion. What can those times mean in terms of maintaining a connectedness in our lives? We might want to create times of reunion in our lives and the lives of others to give us continuity in our journey through life. As we move forward, what reunions would you like to help create in your life and the lives of others?

If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.

We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jae Bloom.