Some of you who regularly read my Blog do not know that I am a Hokie, a Virginia Tech alum. 

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With Daughter Jill before the Independence Bowl 2015. We stayed home because of Tornadoes

This Sunday is Easter, but it also is the 10 year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre. At the time, news reporters asked how such a tragedy could take place on a college campus, how such a tragedy could take place at Virginia Tech, how such a tragedy could take place in a small town, Blacksburg, Virginia.

At the time, many Virginia Tech grads felt numb, even if we had never known any of the people who were needlessly shot and killed or shot and injured that Monday. There was a lot of soul searching. If you want to learn more about those people, take a look at the We Remember Virginia Tech Website

As I thought about the terrible tragedy that occurred that Monday, I thought of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel‘s book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In the book Frankel tells readers that we can find meaning by creating a work or doing a deed, by experiencing something or encountering someone, or by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

Frankel asserts that this unavoidable suffering “can bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.”

It was with those thoughts that I watched the convocation in Cassell Coliseum that followed on  Tuesday. It was a very somber and quiet group. One newspaper reported that when a minister asked for a moment of silence, there was already silence.

Then, after all others had spoken, including the President of Virginia Tech, the Governor of Virginia, and President Bush, University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni came to the podium and presented a poem “We are Virginia Tech” that transformed the crowd and anyone who saw her deliver it, including me. If you haven’t heard it, I invite you to watch and listen.

Dr. Giovanni, was well known long before her moving and inspiring message: We are Virginia Tech. She is a living legend. I only wish I could have studied writing in one of her classes.

If you have a few minutes, you might enjoy her Muhammad Ali interview:

If you have more time and interest, watch her presentation at the Point Loma Writer’s Symposium by the Sea 2016. Her story of meeting Rosa Parks and her poem about Rosa Parks are inspiring.


As lawyers, I hope we do not have to wait for unavoidable suffering to find meaning in our careers and our lives. Can’t we find meaning by creating a work or doing a deed, or by experiencing something or encountering someone? I have learned that while I may be inspired by the words of someone like Dr. Giovanni, my real inspiration and meaning in my life must come from within. So must yours.

Short blog post today on self reflection and dealing with difficult times.

I read a David Brooks New York Times column published last week: The Moral Bucket List and I just want to make sure you see it.

In the column he talks about the person I know that I would like to be. I think about that more at this time in my life than the many years I spent focused on becoming a successful lawyer. Here is the opening paragraph:

ABOUT once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.

David Brooks says those people are not born that way they are made. Think about what you and I can do to make ourselves more that way. Many of us wanted to become lawyers because we wanted to serve people who need our help.

In the column Brooks describes “The Call within the Call.” What is your “Call within the Call?” Are you doing anything about it?

His final paragraph begins with:

The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be…

Please read the rest of the last paragraph and think about what simple things in life you are grateful for and put his new book: The Road to Character on your reading list. It will be the next book read by my book club.

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I also want to write as a Virginia Tech grad. Yesterday, April 16 was the 8th anniversary of the mass shooting on the Virginia Tech campus. I saw a couple of things on Facebook yesterday morning and it changed my whole mood. I had been very upbeat about presenting to a large group, but all of a sudden I was sad.

I went to Youtube and searched for Nikki Giovanni. I needed her words of reassurance. A great writer and speaker is able to pick the right words, deliver them in the right cadence and move people. Professor Giovanni’s 3 minute speech accomplished all of that and more.

Do you have 3 minutes? If so watch it.