“Nevertheless, She Persisted”

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My two daughters run my house.  My wife and I have big plans for both of them.  My oldest is the straight-and-narrow kid, who is going to get straight A’s and follow all the rules.  My youngest is the firecracker, the spitfire, the evil genius, the wild card, who is also going to get straight A’s but sneak out on a school night to go meet her friends at the frozen yogurt place across the street until waaaaay after curfew, which will be 4:15 P.M.  And when we catch her in the act, she’s going to do what she does now:  flash us that smile that says, “Who, me?  Noooo! You’re being silly, dad!  I’ve been here the whole time!  Ok, maybe not the whole time, but the whole time you thought I was here physically, I was home in my heart…and yours.”

 

I am not looking forward to the junior high or high school years.

 

Part of what makes my youngest daughter, who is now five, such a wild card, is her persistence.  Some might call it stubbornness.  It just depends on who you ask or when.  So there are times she digs in, and, if it is not something too serious, we’ll give in.  Those times are mildly inconvenient or not preferred, but they are not too problematic to give in to.  Most of the time, though, we try and diffuse the problem and help her get to more of a compromise.  We’re not always successful and she slides down the metaphorical hill that results in a temper tantrum.  And it’s not too surprising considering both my wife and I were stubborn, according to our respective parents.  Our daughter is just following in our footsteps-the apple of my eye.

 

I’d like to call it persistence, though, because, as much as I want my kids to be respectful of me, other kids, and authority figures, I do want them to stand up for themselves.  I don’t want them to be walked all over, and I don’t want them to just say “Ok” to whatever it is and harbor resentment and bitterness against someone else for the rest of their lives.  Ya know, like I have.

 

It is about balance.  It is about knowing when to push, when to pull back.  To know when to hold ‘em, and to know when to fold ‘em.

 

Well, this persistence played out a while back.  I didn’t see it first hand, but I have seen other examples of it.  I was at my older daughter’s hockey game, and my wife took my younger daughter to a family baby shower where her two cousins were also in attendance.  Usually once a week my in laws have my two kids and the two cousins over to spend the night for the four of them to play.  That week they didn’t get their weekend together, so after the baby shower my daughter asked my wife if her cousins could come and spend the night at our house.  My wife was totally caught off guard, tried to deflect and make up reasons to prevent it from happening more for my sake since I don’t like change, but, in the end, she didn’t have a good reason.  And my daughter was starting to step and slip down Tantrum Hill.  At every turn my wife said, “No,” my daughter would just say, “Yes!” and jump and down and say it again, and again.  And again.  Having witnessed this before, I know it just continues until someone gives.

 

Nevertheless, she persisted.

 

So I got a call as I was leaving the hockey game.  You know the kind of call, because you probably have made that call yourself in your life at least once, or were on the receiving end of such call.

 

“Hi, Honey!  So…how are you?  Ah huh, yeah, that’s good.  So…guess what?  We’re having guests over tonight!”

 

Now, I’m not opposed to guests in my house.  I’m just an introvert that likes my free time, my personal space, peace and quiet, and no changes to be made anytime ever for any reason.  So my wife asks her sister if it’s ok if her boys spend the night, and, of course, she says yes, because what parent wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a kid-free night?  I know I would if one was offered to me.  My daughter got her wish:  Her cousins came over, they played and had fun and got their usual weekend of family bonding in.  And that, actually, worked out:  since the kids were occupied it gave my wife and I time to chat and catch up.  And drink wine.

 

Persistence pays off.

 

Both of my daughters are going to be a handful, namely for me since I am not great at change or conflict resolution.  I need a new strategy since “My way or the highway!” isn’t very effective most of the time.  I need to ask myself, “Do I want my daughters to stand up for themselves?  Do I want them to, respectfully, defend their ideas and discuss solutions in the boardroom to the boss?  Or do I want them to be ‘Yes’ people that fold to the power of the position that is facing them?  Do I want them to shrink back?”  I know I want them to stand up to bullies, or other physical confrontations.  In an incredible time as now of the #MeToo movement that started late last year, the year of the Women’s March that for two years in a row had record numbers of people marching in the street, and a record number of women engaging politically running for public office, I want my girls to be women of power, too.  Not necessarily to be CEO’s, politicians, or women as the face of a movement, but women standing up and not backing down in the face of opposition.

 

Part of persistence is pressing on, not giving up.  Some people should give up on their goals.  I always think of the early rounds of American Idol contestants that believe in their hearts that they are born to be stars but can’t hold a note, or they are too pitchy, dog.  Some people, though, shouldn’t give up.

 

Nevertheless, persist.

 

I also want to encourage them and to know it is ok to stand up for others.  Speaking up for the voiceless, helping those in need, and serving others are actions that Jesus preached His followers to do.  I pray they follow in His footsteps.

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Blood, Swag, and Tears

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Remember that episode of Friends where Joey pretends a Porsche parked on the street as his own?  Then to try and play it up he covers himself, head-to-toe, in Porsche merch.  Ross passes by him on the street and asks him, “Did a Porsche throw up on you?!”  Our house is getting to be like that, kind of, with swag from my wife’s company.  She was gone on a week-long trip, I opened up her suitcase to put stuff away, and all the leftover swag that didn’t get into the hands of potential clients fell out.  It was like like her luggage was spitting up her swag a little in the hallway.

 

Everyone has their dreams they dream.  Some people work harder than others to achieve their dreams than others.  Then there are some who dream, don’t do any work, and wonder what is wrong with them.  Or they wonder how the people who are seeing the rewards of their hard work got so lucky.  I can be that way temporarily at times.  I hear of cool things people acquire for whatever reason, and I think they are so lucky.  Then I remember whatever the reason they are getting whatever cool thing they get is because of the work they put in, possibly for years and likely for very little reward for a long time.  I’ll tell you what I am talking about.

 

There are a couple of podcasts that I listen to that are not part of larger media outlets like NPR, or The New York Times.  A couple of the shows started as a couple of people in their garages or living rooms, turned on microphones and a computer, and pressed record.  These shows have created a following of loyal listeners.  Their show didn’t start off as a hit, or immediately go viral like NPR’s Serial or S-Town.  It was a slow build.

 

As well as podcasts, I have heard other stories of authors or public speakers and how long they had been doing their work before they were an “overnight success”.  One way I saw it was in a “Successories” type of quote that said “Overnight Success Takes Years.”

 

One particular podcast that I listen to was started by two guys literally in one of their living rooms.  It is a hockey podcast, and they have listeners across the world, with a very loyal following in Australia of all places.  Loyal listeners in the the country often send the show hosts a local dessert from Australia.  Other listeners around the world send them hockey jerseys of their local teams, or just jerseys of teams with cool logos.  When they are opening packages they receive and describe it, I get a little jealous sometimes.  I ask myself, “Why don’t I get free stuff?”  These guys don’t get paid to do their show, though.  Sometimes they have sponsors, but for a long time they paid to produce the show and give it out for free.  It is a weekly show, each episode is often two hours or more, and they have not missed a week in ten years.  THAT is why they get free stuff.  Listeners are grateful to have the podcast and want to show their appreciation and thanks.  There was a period of time they were recording the show during a graveyard shift because that was the time they had access to recording equipment.

 

I also listen to a local morning radio show and follow their Instagram account where they post pictures of free food local places will send over for promotion or just for fun.  What did they do to deserve all those cupcakes?  Or those yummy looking sandwiches?  Or all that pizza?  Oh nothing.  They just spent 20 years making people laugh in the morning on their way to work, put on concerts with some of the most popular bands in the world, and just generally entertain people.  That’s all.  Just that for 20 years.

 

For us normal folk, the rewards and spoils of life take hard work.  It might take a more time for some compared to others, but hopefully there were a few lessons learned along the way.  As kids, most of us can’t understand how other people get so lucky.  Recently, my youngest wasn’t advancing having a hard time getting motivated to go to karate class.  She was frustrated that it had been sooo loooong since she earned her last stripe (the dojo we go to has a 3-stripe process to advance to the next belt).  She forgot, however, that she had taken a couple of months away from karate class and was only going once a week to play hockey instead.  Hockey ended, she picked up karate again, and after three weeks she got her next two stripes on back-to-back days.  She remembered the benefits of hard work.

 

It is hard to remember in the moment, for all of us of all ages at different stages of life, that things take time, sometimes the road takes longer than expected, and the process is just as important as the destination.  Two things to remember:  Work takes work and it’s worth the work; and kids are looking to you as role models.  They love copying you, so copy some hard work and they might follow in your footsteps.

 

A good reminder is you reap what you sow.  It may sound cliche, I know, but you can’t deny that it’s true, can you?  Sure, some kids are going to grow up trying to avoid hard work no matter what you do.  Or if you are a lazy parent, your kids might do the opposite of you.  Who knows, but I know my girls are watching me so it’s up to me to set the best example I can.

 

When my daughter earned her stripes, she was so proud of herself, and I was so proud of her as well.  She was a little disappointed that she has to wait a month before she can officially get promoted and get her next belt, but in the meantime she is more motivated to go to class compared to the beginning of the month.

 

Also, since Christianity and faith in God rule our house, my wife and I encourage our kids to do their best because we serve God in what we do.  What we do matters also because as we serve God in our actions, people are watching and seeing how we react and walk in the world.  This is important to me, because that means I need to clean up my act too.

 

Whatever you do, put in the work.  Yeah, most days it sucks to work hard.  I certainly wish I didn’t have to, but I know there is a greater reward down the line for me.  The reward may not even be for me, but if my kids are rewarded by my hard work and learn how to build on it, that would be worth it.

 

Now go bust your ass!

 

After you watch this video:  https://youtu.be/ZqWa1c4sf9Q

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Seven Day Journey On The Bandwagon

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I did grow up in LA and at some point of my life I was a baseball fan.  I recorded baseball games on VHS tapes (another “Google it” moment) but never watched them again.  I collected baseball cards.  I went to Dodgers games w my friends and had fun hanging out.

 

But at some point I found it too boring to watch.  I would rail on it.  I would wish for it’s overall demise and collapse, like the entire sport to become extinct.  I would be irate if a playoff baseball game preempted a regular-season hockey or football game.  I would have moderately playful arguments on social media with friends over which sport was better, baseball or hockey, and which athletes were tougher (playful in quotes).

 

But then the LA dodgers made it to the World Series this year, and I couldn’t get a ticket onto the bandwagon fast enough.  I rushed out and got an LA hat just in time for Game 1.  I referred to the team as “We”.  I posted on social media joking about how I didn’t know how to keep score.  I was very obnoxious mostly because it made my wife roll her eyes at me.  She would ask me insider types of things like, “You don’t know why 4th in the rotation is important?  What kind of fan are you?!”  But I was genuinely interested and excited about the games.

 

Game 6 was on Halloween, which meant trick or treating.  Luckily about every 5th house or so had a Man Cave in the garage with the game on, and it was tense as we would get an update.  But the cool thing was, after Game 6 and they won to push Game 7, I went on Facebook and “Liked” a bunch of my friends’ celebratory posts.  It was cool to be a part of it.  It was cool to support “MY” local team.

 

I joined the LA Kings bandwagon for their Stanley Cup runs for similar reasons.  Hockey is the main sport I follow, and I am a huge fan of hockey in general, so I was going to watch anyway.  So I might as well root for a team.  I didn’t run out and get a hat or other merch, but I was tempted to.  It felt good to support a team with a mission.

 

You might think this is a stretch, but this could apply to people too.  Like regular people.  Like your kids.  Like your family.  Like your friends.  Like your co-workers.  Now, wait for it, even the coworkers you don’t like, especially those coworkers.  That one makes me cringe.  That is the one I need to work on, along with my overall positive attitude.  A lot of work.  Lots.

 

Have you done something nice for someone?  Sure you have.  Or have you gone on a missions trip?  Or a did volunteer work for a charity?  Or maybe even simply donated to a charity?  It felt good didn’t it?  Depending on what you were doing it felt good to be a part of something or to help make a difference.  Or just picking up that thing a stranger dropped can bring a rush of positive vibes (sorry for the scientific terminology).

 

It feels good to be a part of something that is making a difference or contributing in a positive way.  It can feel good to help people along with their mission in life, to help them find their purpose.  It can feel good to come alongside someone for their journey.

 

We live in troubling times with troubling events happening every day with very few solutions.  I hear that love is an answer, the answer, but is it?  Is that something I believe?  Is that how I live?  You wouldn’t think so if you read my complaints about work.  You might think twice about partnering with me on my mission, if that were the case.  You also wouldn’t think so if you heard how I respond to the news.

 

As fun as the Dodgers bandwagon has been the last couple of days, I doubt I have a permanent seat.  I know when next season comes around, my interest in 182,000 games will not be as high as it has been for the last seven, which is understandable, I think.  The playoffs are always more exciting than game number 65,887 on a Wednesday in the middle of July.  But I will do my best to decrease the vitriol I have had before this series.

 

The same goes for my life outside of baseball.  I am sure I’ve mentioned it in other posts (that’s the hint to go read my other posts after this) that I am a work in progress.  Progress may be slow, but hopefully there is progress.  Loving and being a part of people’s missions for a better life and world for everyone is something I hope to do more of, even if it’s in small ways like a more positive attitude or donating to people or causes that are making an impact in the world.  Showing love to the people around me that may not be my favorite people could make all the difference in their world.  Maybe just start with a smile.  There is always the being-a-good-example part of parenthood that is good for me and good for my kids as well.

 

From the Dodgers bandwagon to the bandwagon of love, I will make continue the journey myself and with others.  There’s plenty of room for you to hop on!

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I Made It Home Safely

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I wrote this after events in Charlottesville.  The ideas still apply.  Please pray this world heals.  Please do something every day to love your neighbor, who is everyone.  Please pray for me, because I am praying for you.

 

There wasn’t much of a chance that I wouldn’t make it home safely.  It just isn’t promised to me.  I live in a good neighborhood; I seem to have good neighbors, even though I do not know many of them or know them well.  It is nice.

 

But I take it for granted.  It makes me comfortable, which is good and bad.  My wife and kids are safe-that is good.

 

There are people not as lucky as I am, though.  There are people that didn’t make it home safely this weekend.  There are many people who risked something of themselves to save others.  There are some who were victims of violence centered around particular beliefs.  They didn’t make it home safely.

 

I believe in God.  I am a Christian, which means I am an alien to this world.  I am called to be a light in the world while I am here.  There are good ways to do that.  There are bad ways to do that.

 

A bad way to do that, which would not make me a positive light in the world for God, is to rage.  I am so tempted to scream at people-friends, family, acquaintances.  I want to call them names.  I want to point fingers and place blame.  But I know that won’t help.  I know that will not change their minds.  More importantly, that is not what God would want me to do.

 

A good way is to stand in the gap for someone, someone without a voice.  Someone who needs help and needs to be shown God’s love.  

 

That is everyone.

 

God’s love is for everyone.  God’s love isn’t for me just because I’m an American.  God’s love isn’t just for people of a certain skin color.  God’s love isn’t just for the rich.  God’s love isn’t just for the poor.  God’s love isn’t just for the sick.  God’s love isn’t just for the healthy.

 

If you’re breathing, you need God’s love.  And He wants to give it to you.  All you have to do is ask.  And if you’re breathing, you’re to be giving love to others.  You’re to be loving your neighbors, who is everyone.

 

I need God’s love, because I need healing from anger.  I need God’s love, because I need to be reminded that we are all made in God’s image.  He loves everyone as much as He loves you and me.

 

My pastor believes we are nearing the end times.  He recently pointed out that one prophesy is nations will fight against nations.  A better translation of that is ethnic groups against ethnic groups.  I am not an expert, so I will defer to him, but, even without studying prophecy, I can’t deny the times we live in.  I don’t think anyone can deny the hatred seen on the news or social media.

 

Before writing this, I spent some time in my knees in prayer, asking that Jesus’ love rise above it all.  Trying times need thoughtful prayer as a place to start.  I hope you may spend some time in prayer, whether you pray for the state of our country, the state of our world, or simply the state of your heart.  Please pray.

 

God bless you, and get home safely.

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The Grass Is Dead

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Phiippians 4:11-12 NIV

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

 

Maybe it is part of being an adult.  Or maybe it is just part of being a human.  I have a tendency, when I go to someone’s house for the first time, to check out the stuff they have.  Also, I’m curious, in some instances nosy, about things people have.  Like, just recently we went to the house of my daughter’s friend.  The parents invited us in to chat a little, and when we first walked in, I was scoping it out:  nice T.V., sound system, nice couches with no kid blankets on them, no toys all over the floor, at least in that room of the house.  I was getting jealous.  For a minute I wanted their house.  Then we got a peek into their backyard that was neatly landscaped.  Jealousy rising.  Kitchen was nice and clean, relatively modern.  Jealousy rising.  No pool.  Jealousy subsiding.

 

There are other people-friends, neighbors, co-workers-I feel envy towards at times.  Whether it be the nice car or truck they have, the job they have, the TV setup, or even the kid-free lifestyle they have.  Some, even the single life they have I sometimes wish I had.

 

But there is a catch:  I hated being single.  I don’t want to be single, I love my kids, right now, I don’t need a TV bigger than my neighbor’s, and I don’t need a perfectly manicured lawn (hence the picture at the top; that is really my lawn).  I just want what I don’t have.

 

I was terrible at being single, for example.  At least being single and trying to get dates, that is.  I am painfully shy and was not be able to ask girls out, so I wished for a date but didn’t often do the work to get one.  I did get a few dates stepping out of my comfort zone from time to time, but it didn’t happen as often as I wished it did. I dreeeeamed about meeting my “soul mate,” having kids, and coming home from work to the pitter patter of my kids running to me screaming, “Daddy! You’re home!” and giving me a hug.  Now my kids barely look up from their homework or TV when I get home, but that’s beside the point.

 

The point is:  the grass is always appears greener on the other side.

 

Depending on my mood, if people ask me how things are going, or how my family is, I’ll answer, “Livin’ the dream,” which I’ll say in the most sarcastic and snarky tone I can.  But, if I think about it, I am living my dream.

 

I don’t make as much money as I dreamed I would be making when I was in college or earlier times of my career, but I am making a good living.  I definitely don’t have my dream job, but I do have a good job where I know I am helping people and making a positive contribution to the world.  

 

Regarding my career, I’m finding out through some personal development and general conversations with my wife that the CEO job I had dreamed of, or thought would be my ticket to happiness, or that the world tells me I should strive for, would be terrible for me.  Mostly, it would require a lot of decision-making.  Considering I can’t even decide dinner some nights, CEO might not be great for me.  And by “dinner” I mean eating dinner.  There are enough instances of me skipping a meal, my wife asking me if I am ok, and then I realize I never ate lunch or drank any water yet for the day.

 

Regarding my kids, parenthood is a grind, for sure.  I’ve talked about the challenge of keeping your head above water as a parent.  Between work, karate class, hockey games, playdates, and birthday parties, life is busy.  I am really just the homework facilitator or foreman and shuttle driver during the week.  My wife gets the playdates and birthday parties on the weekend, and somewhere in there we sneak in a date-night from time to time.  However, some weeks, we’re both so exhausted come Friday, date night is a glass of wine or a beer, a couple of tacos, or a slice of pizza, and a little binge watching and we’re done.  Not that either of us are fiends for the dance floor on a Friday or Saturday night, but not many people ask me what I did over the weekend are in awe of the answer or are hit with FOMO.  I wasn’t that way before marriage or kids, so why start now?  Stay in your lane, right?

 

There is always something in this world to entice us.  The fancy {new-insert product here}.  I don’t neeeeed the new iPhone that uses my face to unlock, but I wouldn’t turn it down if it was offered to me.  I don’t neeeeeed Playstation VR, but I played it once and it sent me on a shallow dive with hemming and hawing for a week of what to put on my Christmas wish list.  Part of the struggle is working through what Paul said to the Philippians.  I bounce back and forth between wanting everything for myself, or deciding I need to give everything away to the poor.  Sometimes I want to give all my money away to rescue all the kids in the world, or have all the water wells in Africa built.  And other days I want a BMW M5, a lifted Ford Raptor, and a Prius (I need a car to commute to work!).

 

Then I snap back:  what’s my priority?  What’s my goal?  What is the example I am setting for my kids?  Do I want them growing up struggling with just being consumers all their lives?  They already want every toy they see.  Or do I want them to learn stuff isn’t everything, the end-all-be-all of living?  That money doesn’t buy happiness.  I’m still trying to be consistent in remembering what brings me lasting joy.  I at least know I won’t find happiness on another patch of grass on the other side of the fence.

 

So I am letting the grass die.  The dream…the dream that keeps changing based on the latest and greatest.  The dream for something shiny and new..  The dream of wielding power, or proving my worth with a salary, or a position, or rank, or the corner office.  I’m letting that dream die.  My new dream is my old dream.  My new dream is the life I’m living now, the life I’ve always wanted.  The life God has been faithful to give and bless me with.

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To Youth, To The Dreamers

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Remember Time Cop with Jean Claude Van Damme?  Unfortunately, I do (look it up after you read this, but you’re probably better off not having watched it, unlike me).  That is a movie where time travel doesn’t have the happiest of outcomes at first, and not one of Jean Claude’s finest films, although that may not exist at all.  Maybe Back to the Future is a better example of the time travel.  Hijinx ensue, but at least it’s fun and not so dire.

 

As much as you would like to, you can’t go back.  I can’t either, just to be clear.  I don’t want you to think I’m trying to rub it in or something.  And I don’t think I would want to go back.  As much as I wish I did things differently the first time, I wouldn’t change anyth…much.

 

Here are a few things I wish I could change or would have done differently if I had the chance:

  • I wish I learned to play an instrument
  • I wish I worked more overtime when I had less responsibilities/people counting on me being around
  • I wish I was more disciplined in school
  • I wish I took more chances
  • I wish I held back more often
  • I would not have sent that mixtape

 

We don’t like making wrong choices, and sometimes it is hard just making any choice at all.  I used to go shopping, pick up a number of items I wanted, know I could only afford half of them, but I couldn’t decide what to keep and what to put back.  So I would end up just putting them all back and walking out of the store with nothing.  The few times I would only get the one or two things I could get, I felt like I was missing out and would go back a couple of days later to get the things I put back anyway.  I couldn’t live with the regret of buying the wrong whatever it was.  Then later would regret I bought any of it after getting the credit card bill.

 

Even though I wish I could change some things or would do or say something different in certain situations if I could, I am glad that I can’t.  I don’t live with regrets, necessarily, I just wonder how events would be different.  As annoying as the cliche “everything happens for a reason” is, I agree with it.  I know there are lessons and wisdom gained going through the experiences I have been through.  It has all shaped me in some way.  I wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

 

My past work experience, for example, helped me trick my wife into thinking that I was a good sales rep, or that I was a sales rep at all, even though I faked my way through that whole phase of my career.  We both worked for the same company but in different regions and slightly different time periods, so we knew the lingo, knew some of the same people, and had an understanding of the business; a foundation for our relationship to build on.  The facade came crumbling down when she would explain certain sales techniques, and I would look at her like I heard a dog whistle.  Occasionally when the topic comes up, she shakes her head and calls me an “imposter rep.”  It all worked out.  She still married me even with my imposter status, so she has no one to blame but herself.

 

Anyway, not only is that wisdom for me to use in the future, but it is knowledge and wisdom I can pass on to my kids.  Most of the time growing up, I thought my dad just had crazy stories of how the world worked.  However, there were a few nuggets in there that have always stuck with me and am thankful he was able to share them with me.  Hopefully, I can do the same for my kids (be the dad whose kids think he’s crazy, that is).  They already do, but why not add more fuel?

 

There is still time for me to do stuff I missed out on earlier in life.  I just need to focus and try not to be lured away by the seductress known as Playstation.  For some reason, I came up with the brilliant idea that I need to learn to play the drums.  Since my kids are taking karate, the dad of my daughter’s friend was encouraging (egging me on is more like it) to do something like go hiking, or camping, or shooting guns.  You know, all the stuff men would do.  I said no to all of it, but I thought I should join my kids doing karate (I’ve been watching for years, I could totally take some of those kids out and show them who the real sensei is).  So soon, there will be a blog post about me kicking out the jams on my drum set with the use of the Crane Kick made famous by Daniel-son.

 

No, I’m not entering a mid-life crisis.  What are you talking about?  Oh, and I’m trying to talk my wife into buying me a sports car.  But I’m fine.

 

A couple of the pearls of wisdom I hope my kids eventually appreciate are:

  • Enjoy your youth
  • Make the most of your time here
  • Do your best, always
  • Live free and take a chance
  • Be yourself, know yourself
  • Protect yourself
  • Let go of mistakes
  • Live in wisdom

 

These are all cliches, for sure, but there can still be value to them.  I certainly enjoyed some of my youth, but I also squandered portions of it.  It can be hard to know what is best in the moment.  You just do the best you can with the information you have available at the time, which is what I will tell my girls.

 

There are things of youth I cannot do much of anymore.  I can’t still play soccer.  I learned that after I could barely walk after playing in my first game in an old-man’s league.  I was never much for the nightlife, but I am definitely not in shape to stay up past 9 P.M. now.  There are plenty others things I can’t do in my mid-life crisis age.  It would be too sad to list them all here.

 

I can still be super silly with my kids, however, as well as be a source of knowledge and wisdom when the situations come up.  Having the mentality of a 13-year old sometimes is helpful when it comes to kids.  I still embrace adulthood and do my best to teach my kids responsibility, maybe a little too much.  They are a little young for me to get too in depth about hopes and dreams and goals and accomplishments and consequences.  All in due time.

 

In the meantime, just keep dreaming, just keep growing.  Be young, wild, and free.

 

Is there anything you would change?

 

What was painful but glad you went through?

 

What wisdom did you gain and hope to pass on to your kids?

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The Uncomfortable Journey Towards The Uncomfortable

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What is the most comfortable place in your house?  If you ask wives or girlfriends, the answer for their husbands or boyfriends might be “The Throne”.  Can you really argue?  If it wasn’t true, you wouldn’t spend so much time there.  Which side of the bed is yours?  Mine is the left, possibly because I am left handed.  When my youngest moved out of her crib into a big-kid bed, I started to sleep next to her to help her get comfortable.  It became such a routine, though, that I sleep there sometimes even if she’s not there.  And so much of a routine that I have trouble sleeping in my own bed with my wife the few times a week I get to sleep there.

 

Jealous?

 

Most people strive to be comfortable.  A comfortable couch, comfortable chairs, comfortable clothes, comfortable car.  Some people have “their” chair that no one else is supposed to sit in.  There is even comfort food, which I have been eating too much of lately.  People work hard to be comfortable.  Work hard and save a lot of money to buy a house to store nice things that make life easier, have modern conveniences to assist with that goal.

 

For some people, life is war and they never get comfortable.  They don’t really get to sit and relax.  Life is a battle in some way as they try to stay afloat and dream of getting ahead.  People are looking for just a little bit of slack in their lives.

 

The last couple of years, I have been lucky.  I have been rather comfortable.  There have been some challenges, but they were not the kind of challenges that make or break people.  They have been more like hurdles to step over that put a slight strain on current life.

 

So I’ve been comfortable for a long time.  You may not know it depending on who you are, what question you ask me, and the answer I give you.  If you asked me how work was going, it might sound like I hate my job and am about to go postal soon (if you’re too young to know what “going postal” is, Google it).  Neither of which are true, but I had to clarify with my wife that I don’t hate my job or the work that I do, because she wasn’t sure.  I am dissatisfied and hoping to contribute more to the world.  I just should could complain less is all.

 

In light of current events, I feel a need to activate, to get involved, which I have never done before.  There is not a lot I have done other than email politicians and contribute with some donations.  There are many places to participate, and I haven’t taken the time to find a good place to do so in between my job and my family.  However, some podcasts and sermons I’ve listened to over this year have been talking about stepping out of comfort zones, and I’ve felt a desire to step up and step in.

 

Regarding work, like I said, I feel dissatisfied.  The job is good-I feel I am contributing positively and am helping people; I am doing something I am good at and comfortable with.  Also, the company I work for is good.  It is stable, and I am paid well, given an opportunity to support my family.  The leadership at the top wants to bring the company into that prestigious arena of “Best Places To Work.”  They send out surveys, suggestion boxes, and I express my opinions, because I do want to be a part of the process and make it a best place to work.  Last year I joined the “People Committee” that was formed to improve morale and the company culture.  The company has a recognition website that everyone can give encouragement to one another.  Managers and People Committee members can give points to fellow employees to recognize their hard work that can be cashed in for shopping gift cards.  After I joined the committee and some of my coworkers started noticing I actually had points to give out, they were a little nicer to me.  I wonder if that was a coincidence.  Hmmm?  Some other benefits to my job include autonomy:  I sit at my desk, I do my work, and I am allowed to listen to as much music, audiobooks, or podcasts I can in an 8-hour shift.  My boss is good and considers me a positive contributor to the team.  Like anyone, there is room for improvement, but overall I put in satisfactory work.

 

I’m disappointed, though.  My career is not growing, or I am not getting opportunities to shine, from my perspective.   It is frustrating, but I am trusting in God’s plan and purpose that He has something great in mind for me.  I just wish He would hurry up and make it clear to me.  That would make my life much easier and much more comfortable.  It would be comforting to know what was in my future.

 

My home life is good.  My kids are growing, learning, and developing into people of their own, albeit sometimes frustrating.  They have their own interests, friends, and activities.  My five year old wants to have playdates just about every day either going to her friend’s house, or they come over to our house, which is tough during the week.  Between school, karate classes, hockey games, and homework, there is hardly room for dinner and bath time.

 

My wife’s business is taking off.  We spent a year being a little uncomfortable with our finances saving, anticipating it would take a long time for her start-up to start up.  Fortunately, it didn’t take very long to get going.  And, fortunately, my wife is a good planner and built things up slowly before leaving her corporate job.  Now she has a growing client list, she’s had to hire employees, and, most importantly, she’s happy doing it.

 

So we’ve talked about it, and maybe it is my turn.  Maybe it’s my turn to step out.  But I’m in a rut.  But I don’t know where I am supposed to go.  But I don’t know what I am supposed to do.  So I pray.

 

One day, I was incredibly frustrated.  I wondered why things were not happening for me, why it seemed other people were getting ahead, why it appeared no one cared, why it felt like everyone else was getting away with not having to work hard.  I wanted to run and scream, but that would make me sweaty, and, in turn, uncomfortable.  I wanted to do one of those viral video job resignations, like where the radio DJ gets drunk on air and tells the audience what they really think of the station they work for.  Or where the news reporter shows everyone “who is number one” on live TV.

 

Just as I was thinking that, a possible realization hit me.  I wondered if God is making me uncomfortable to force me to step out and really be uncomfortable and put my faith in Him.  When it was apparent that it was time for my wife to, it took some faith.  It took some trust on our part that He would provide for us.  Past experiences of God coming through for us, even when we hadn’t put our faith in Him, made it easy for us to do so this time.  Well, maybe not easy, but at least easier.  Or maybe it only seemed easy.  Just last week my wife told me there were periods when she wasn’t too sure it would go well.  Apparently, that’s when I reassured her and told her she was going to be able to do it, and everything was going to be fine.  I didn’t remember that at all, but at least it resonated with her.  It’s always interesting that the line you think is a throw away is the line that sticks with someone else, good and bad equally.  That might just be a topic for another day.

 

I spend a lot of time wondering how I can be an example of how I live by faith and seek God’s direction.  I want to be an example of faith to my kids.  I want to be an example of works to them.  I want my faith to have action, to have works.  The book of James says faith without works is dead.  In high school, a mentor of mine explained it as faith-works.  They are not separate ideas.  One leads to the other, and the other leads back to one into a kind of feedback loop into a kind of feedback loop

 

This may be the first step towards that journey.  Like any journey, one step at a time.

 

Where are you in your journey?

 

Is it time for you to start a new one?

 

Tell me about it.

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Vacation From Vacation

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Growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was The Wonder Years.  There was one scene I remember where the main character, Kevin, asks his dad what he does for work.  An exasperated, middle-aged man, home from a long day of work is just trying to sit in his favorite chair in front of the TV and read the newspaper answers his adolescent son with sheer exhaustion in his voice, “I get up, fight traffic, get yelled at by my boss, do the same thing every day, fight traffic, then I come home.”  I’m paraphrasing since it has been over 20 years since I have seen the show, but I am sure you can imagine how that sounded.  The show was also set in the 1960s when enjoying what you did for a living was never a consideration.  Work wasn’t exciting, motivating, or something you would look forward to.  It was a job to provide for your family that you endured minus your two weeks of vacation every year.

 

Unless your vacation gets hijacked.

 

That is what happened to us this year.  I made this joke on my social media:  “There are vacations.  There are stay-cations.  There are sickations.  We chose the last one this year.”  Maybe we didn’t choose it, but it chose us.

 

Every year my parents invite us down to a local resort to stay with them for a week, so they can see their grandkids for a week.  Luckily, for now, my kids need a driver, so my wife and I get to attend too.  The resort is great for the kids with a couple of arts-and-crafts sessions a day, lots of swimming, plenty of margaritas and pina coladas for me, and the best buffalo wings for my wife’s money.  This is my “two weeks a year” that I look forward to every year; the only week I take time off during the year that is for me and not time off for family events or chauffeuring my kids here or there if they are double booked.  It’s not a horrible life, but it isn’t relaxing-by-the-pool-with-a-drink-in-my-hand-for-a-week, typically.

 

This year was already going to be a little different because my oldest daughter had a hockey tournament scheduled out of town, so we were going to lose half the week anyway.  We planned on breaking up the 8 hour drive and do some sightseeing on the way up to keep in step with vacation.  At least that was the initial plan.

 

The vacation hijacking started before vacation even started.  It might have actually started with me.  A couple of weeks before, a lot of people at my work were sick, I think I became Patient Zero that brought it home to my youngest daughter, who then gave it back to me.  Then I think I gave it to my oldest one.  Two days before vacation, I picked up my oldest from karate day camp, and she was really lethargic.  Her sister had a Father’s Day recital and dinner at her preschool that evening, and after dinner she felt warm when I hugged her.  We took her home, checked her temperature, 103, Tylenol.  The fever would stay down as long as we kept her on Tylenol or Motrin.  I took her to the doctor, who didn’t seem too concerned at the time, and prescribed rest and no swimming.  Bummer.

 

Then the coughing.  All the coughing.

 

Coincidently my wife started to not feel great, so the first day of our vacation I took the girls to the resort and let her rest at home.  She has had some lingering health problems this year, and being around sick kids and a sick adult for two weeks didn’t help her situation.  I took my daughters, checked in to the hotel, did some crafts, and moved our lives into our room.  My oldest daughter’s fever stuck around, and she developed a cough.  She hung tough, though, and had as much fun as possible without swimming, or margaritas and pina coladas (for me, I mean).

 

The next day she coughed most of the day as I tried to get her an appointment with the doctor, but it was the weekend and Father’s Day so that didn’t happen.  Then the coughing really kicked in:  She coughed most of the night, which means she didn’t sleep much, which means I didn’t sleep much.

 

Besides all the amenities at this resort, the location was a blessing:  it was only a 40 minute drive home, so we made an appointment with our regular doctor in the morning.  The doctor prescribed an antibiotic just in case, and also ordered a chest x-ray to rule out other possibilities.  And despite all the coughing, she was the same kid she always is:  happy, go-lucky, goofball.  That will serve her well in the future.

 

So vacation recap thus far:

  • Moved into hotel – check
  • Fever – check
  • Coughing – check
  • Spouse sick too – check
  • Coughing preventing sleep – check
  • Antibiotics prescribed – check
  • Chest X-ray ordered – check

 

Once we get the chest x-ray done, pick up some yucky medicine and have lunch, we head back to the resort to make the most of our vacation while we are there.  My wife asked the resort employees for some of the crafts that we can take back to the room after explaining we have a sick kid, coughing pretty badly.  They were nice enough to help us out, and we minimized the disappointment of not swimming some.

 

Since we were not far from home, to try and minimize any discomfort, we decided to spend the night at home and come back in the morning.  That plan changed a little when my wife wasn’t feeling well.  

 

The hits kept on coming.

 

My mother-in-law came by with some comfort food and ended up taking the girls with her to her house.  A couple hours later, she and I checked in on our respective patients.  That’s when she said she wasn’t feeling well herself with some indigestion symptoms.  Then a couple hours later I got the call that I needed to go pick up the girls because my mother-in-law was headed to the ER for emergency surgery.

 

Yay!!

 

Good news, though:  the rest of the week turned around.  The antibiotics started taking effect for my daughter, my mother-in-law had her procedure and was resting at home, and my wife was able to speak to her doctor and get some options on how to get back to normal for the short term.  Unfortunately, she has a more long term situation to deal with, but that is another story for another day.  And at this point, we still have three days to take advantage of as much as possible, which we did.

 

Also, good news, depending on who you ask, was that the doctor said no hockey, so we didn’t have to make the 8 hour road trip.  Fortunately, my daughter wasn’t too bummed about it.  Of course, it would have been great to see her play, but if any of you parents out there have kids who play sports, it is all consuming.  If there is a tournament going on, that is what we are doing that weekend.  So it was a bit of a blessing to me that we didn’t get to make the trip.  That also meant more margaritas!

 

The few days of actual vacation we had left went well.  We got to swim, have a nice dinner with my parents, and enjoy some family time.  It gave me some time to think and rest.  I was able to journal, which I haven’t done in several months.  I didn’t have my Playstation to distract me, so I had to write or think or use my brain in some way.

 

My guess is you exhibit some of these similarities:  get up, work, come home, take kids here, take kids there, dinner, bath for the kids, sleep, repeat.  Possibly if you’re anything like me, you also stay awake much too late even though you know you’ll regret it in the morning and watch TV or peruse social media.  Throw in laundry, dirty dishes, and maybe sweeping the floor, if you’re lucky, and there isn’t much time to think and let your brain rest.  I was glad to have a little of that kind of time this trip.

 

Now I just need a vacation from my vacation.

 

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Dreaming Of Girls, Girls, Girls

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I have a dream.  I’m stealing that line from a great man.  My dream is different, though; a little more personal.  It is still important, and it can still change the world.  That seems to be my goal for the year and possibly for the rest of my life.  This dream I am writing about here has to do with my daughters.  I want to give my daughters the tools they need to change the world.

 

My girls are awesome and that includes my wife.  She’s awesome and is a great role model for our daughters.  She often finds herself as the mediator between my daughters and I, and my relationship with them is better for it.  We are all lucky that my wife is a coach with part of her job is managing people’s emotions.  Very helpful when it comes to strict and cranky dads and, well, kids.

 

This doesn’t even include the fact my daughters got their cute smile and nose from their mom.  

 

In previous posts, I have talked about how I believe in my kids and want them to be the best at whatever they do.  I want to empower them.  I want them to have confidence.  I want them to feel they can do anything they set their minds to, and they are capable of doing all things through God and for God.  I want them to stand up for themselves.  I want to give them all the tools they need to be successful, whatever that means for them.

 

The charge to change the world is not something I am hoping they take on for selfish gain that makes them rich so they can hoard it.  My wish for them is they change the world for all girls, so that all girls know they are loved and are valued.  Change the world for girls who don’t have choices, or don’t feel like they have choices, or are enslaved in one way or another.  Change for all people.

 

Change the world so that all girls may grow up thinking they could become the president.

 

One way this plays out in our house is the mantra to never give up.  Not in the way the early-round American Idol contestants never give up but should.  More in the way skateboarders or figure skaters, for example, keep practicing and never give up.  

 

We have a plaque with “Family Rules” on it, and one of the rules is to never give up.  This played out recently at Legoland when my oldest daughter wanted to try one of the carnival games where you pay $10 for one chance to win the giant stuffed animal that won’t fit in your car if you win it, so you end up carrying around the rest of the day.  She wanted to try a game where you climb a wobbly ladder across a padded mat to the other side without falling off.  If you make it across, you win.  Since our kids are young, the game operator let them both go for the price of one.  My four year old didn’t want to try it, so my seven year old got two turns.  She got maybe one-third across the first time, then two-thirds the second time, but trying a third time meant more money, which we parents were not willing to invest in.  This led to a giant fit of disappointment, which I automatically assumed was about disobedience for not wanting to leave.

 

After being calmed down by my wife (both my daughter and I that is), who took the time to listen to her rationale, we discovered that she was trying to live by our family rule and never give up.  It made sense: first time, one-third across; second attempt, two-thirds; if she was given a third try, victory.  Can’t blame her for having persistence.  It will serve her well in the future.

 

My oldest daughter is also a school nerd, and she loves it.  She totally embraces it.  My wife found this shirt for her that says “I’m a Nerd” on it, and it is covered with math equations and geometrical shapes covering it.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she field of study she decides to pursue.

 

My youngest is not so much of a nerd, but she is certainly smart.  She’s crafty, so we’ll just have to make sure she uses her powers for good and not evil as she gets older.  She’s headed to kindergarten soon, and we’re curious to see how she’ll handle it since everything is boring if it’s not watching TV or playing pretend.  There have been times my wife has made volcanos, or slime, or putty with household items.  This leads to her filling up tupperware with water and stirring it up pretending to recreate these crafts.  The only two problems with this is, one, she’s sometimes carrying the water across the house not keeping all the water in the container, or, two, I have found she has poured something solid down the bathroom sink.

 

Again, after getting some clarification from my wife, she informed me she is trying to do science experiments.  The light bulb in my brain went off (it’s only a 30 watt).  Since I am a scientist myself, I thought I should encourage this behavior but in a controlled environment.  One of my new projects I need to work on is clearing out some space in the garage for her to do some kid-oriented science experiments.

 

Something that I want to do as a parent is to encourage my kids’ interests and not stifle them regardless of the level of my interest.  Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean my kids shouldn’t do it.  I grew up skateboarding in the 80’s and I watched a Bones Brigade documentary somewhat recently.  One of the skaters featured was Rodney Mullen, who was one of the premier freestyle skateboarders of his day.  By age 14 he had turned pro.  However, his dad did not support his skateboarding interest and that hindered their relationship.  I decided then that I wasn’t going to do be that kind of dad.  It doesn’t mean I’m going to like it when my daughters decide to start their goth or emo phase, but it does mean I will be as supportive as I can.  So don’t be surprised if you see in 5-8 years at a My Chem concert, or whoever the hot band is at the time.

 

More importantly, though, more important than what my dreams are for them, is what God has planned for them and for them to seek that plan.  I can have all the dreams I want for them, but they need to tune their hearts, ears, and minds to Him.  I hope to do what I can to guide them to God.  Whatever I dream they do is pointless and worthless if it isn’t part of God’s plan.  That is what I dream for them the most.  That is what I pray for.  That is what I hope they seek.

 

And I dream on…

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Taylor Got Me Like…

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Honestly, I really only know about Taylor (we’re on a first name basis) because of her tabloid exploits that I hear recapped on a morning radio show I listen to.  But, as I have written about before, I am not much of a fan of pop music anyway, so it isn’t out of the realm that I wouldn’t be familiar with Tay-Tays music (yes, that’s the nickname she likes me to use for her).  I almost put music in quotes.

Also, as I have mentioned before, the girls in our house love Taylor and pop music.  My oldest daughter is turning 7 soon, and she seems to know all the words to all the songs that come up on the Taylor Swift, Rachel Platten, or Today’s Hits Pandora radio stations or Amazon Music.  And she’s been singing along for quite some time now.  When she first started doing it, it shocked me because I didn’t realize she knew the words or had heard the song enough times to know the words.  My youngest is almost 5, and she is starting to sing along too.  So cute, by the way.

Since I am outvoted 3-1, I rarely get to listen to music of my choice in the car.  But I am also getting outvoted in the house.  One day, I started doing the dishes, and I asked Alexa to start playing Daft Punk.  My wife poked her head in as a song started playing and told Alexa to play Taylor Swift.  She giggled and left the kitchen, but then my kids got in on the action.  I asked Alexa to play Daft Punk, again, then Haley interrupted and asked Alexa to play Taylor Swift, again.  And then it was my other daughter’s turn to interrupt my music.  And around and around it went until I let out a dad-shout of “Hey!  Stop it!”

The Joys of Parenthood.

There have been a few times I have caught myself singing a Taylor Swift song.  Or there are a couple of pop songs by Rachel Platten or Sara Bareilles that slip through my anti-pop filter that I like.  A few, so I am not 100% against pop.  Some songs make it through because I listen to a lot of podcasts or audiobooks and don’t listen to a lot of music.  So the few times I do listen to music, it is with my kids and it is their choice.

Then I heard a particular Taylor Swift song.  The first time I heard it, I was driving around with my four year old daughter, just a normal day headed to the grocery store, and I almost started crying.  Because Taylor got me.  Taylor got me like a father feeling like his daughters are growing up too fast.

If you’re familiar with Taylor’s work, the song that got me was “Never Grow Up.”  If you’re a parent familiar with the song, you probably know why I started crying.  If you’re not familiar with the song, it is a down tempo, “classic Taylor” song, about a girl wanting to grow up starting as a newborn, through the awkward teenage years, and on to college being dropped off in the big city.  Only then does she realize being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and she wishes she could go back to being a kid.

I am a little sentimental at times.  Even before I had kids, watching a particular episode of West Wing where the president is about to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding got me choked up.  So I am susceptible to this kind of vicious attack by an artist like Swift to use a song to make father cry.

So like you, Taylor.

I am a sucker for the heart-felt, sappy song.  Even among the music I do like, “love songs” get played more than other songs on the album.  So maybe it isn’t all Taylor’s fault.  And maybe it isn’t so bad that there is a song that I can tolerate by an artist that my daughters’ love but I can’t stand.  It gives me something to bond with them over.  Sometimes I sing along with them, and I even use my real singing voice instead of my making-fun-of-the-song voice.  Both singing voices elicit a “STOP IT DAD!” from the back seat.  I don’t blame them.  They might have enough reasons to need therapy.  Don’t need to add my terrible singing voice to the list.

I wish I could stop my kids from growing up, but I also can’t wait for them to grow up and see what they can accomplish and see the kind of people they become.  It’s an exciting and terrifying time, as I’m sure it is for any parent.  It has been crazy to watch and fun to see my kids growing up and learning, trying new things, and finding their own interests.  As hard as it is, I’ve have to start letting them grow up now so it is a little bit easier later.

There is some hope for Zoey and her musical tastes.  It is a little early yet for Haley.  She’s all about Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” or she was.  But the other day I was playing Bleachers in the way to karate, which I had played some before.  I could hear Zoey trying to learn to words and sing along.  Then after we got home she wanted to hear it again.  So there’s still a chance!  But I guess the old Taylor is growing on me as well, so maybe I can shake it off.

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The Dad Life Chose Me