We are Flowers

A single daisy.

A single flower.

A single person.

Beautiful, even alone.

But add another daisy.

Add another flower.

Add another person.

No daisy is jealous of another.

No flower is envious of another.

No person is worried about another.

Only a single field filled with beauty.

 

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When is it the Right Time to do the Right Thing?

Sometimes it feels like a losing battle.

To reinforce the importance of doing the right thing. My wife and I spent the weekend at a youth basketball tournament with our two middle daughters. As you can imagine, there was all kinds of people and craziness. Youth basketball tournaments have a unique chaos to them.

First, understand we do enjoy seeing our kids play. We are thankful for the hard work it takes to run these tournaments. This post is not about that. It’s about people.

I’m not going to rant about all the stuff that goes on. From the yelling at refs, yelling at their own kids as they head to the car, or the way people disregard others around them. One child throwing popcorn all over everyone while his parents did nothing.

I’m going to use one situation, parking, to ask the question: When is it the right time to do the right thing?

If you have ever attended an event like this, you know that parking is difficult. There is never enough parking. Plus it is the middle of winter. But what is worse is the cars that blatantly take two spots by parking their cars so that the car is over both yellow lines. Or the person who parks so that the handicap spots can not be accessed. How about the cars that park away from the curbs so far it is hard for others to drive between the parked cars and the car six feet away from the curb.

My favorite is the glare you get because someone is driving the wrong way for the entry drive to the parking lot and you had the audacity to drive correctly and they have to pull their car to the side.

So, when is it the right time to do the right thing?

When no one is looking?

When we are all dealing with the same situation?

When there is an emergency?

 

When?

I believe we should do the right thing every time.

 

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I Love School

This morning my youngest daughter informed that she loved school.

“Dad, I love school!” my daughter randomly exclaimed from the backseat.

“That’s cool,” I replied.

“Dad… Do you want to know why I love school?”

“Yes, little one. Why do you love school?”

“Because I get to do jobs.”

Now, we had been discussing the fact that this week she was music helper. Next week she gets to be “fish helper.”  Other jobs that I am aware of are line leader, lunch helper, and some job that is connected with the activity areas in the classroom.

My daughter is five years old. School is pretty awesome.

What happens?

Where does the joy go for students?

This post is not going to answer that question. It is too big for a simple blog post. But my daughter reminded me that for most students, the start of their school experience is filled with joy. With a love for helping. Filled with anticipation to feed a fish, pass out music sheets, and to enter the doors of their school every morning.

I can’t change the whole landscape of education with a blog… but for grammar today we are using Grammar Rock… at least the students will be humming in the hallways.

Hopefully you will, too.

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Why It Matters

My three oldest children are dealing with tough situations as they try to accomplish their goals. Each of them are faced with obstacles that are out of their control, but stand in their way of fulfilling their dreams. We continue to support them and to encourage them to continue to work hard and be true to themselves. But, it has become such a stressor that my oldest son challenged me the other night at dinner.

“When has following my heart ever paid off for me?”

This challenge was in response to a specific goal he has. Now, I’m not going to discuss the specifics of each of my children’s situations. This post isn’t meant for me to just rant about how unfair things are… It’s going to be an honest post about being a dad during times like this. Times when my kids feel life is unfair. That no matter how hard they work, others have control of their goals. Times when it feels like success will never come.

If you search for “Motivational Video” on Google you will get, “About 382,000,000 results” (just did this search). I have a playlist of about 15 of these videos. They do motivate. The videos emphasize not giving up. The person yells about how success comes after pain, or when you least expect it. Success is right around the corner, if you work hard… In one way I am going to disagree with them.  And by disagreeing with them I am going to answer my son’s question.

First, the motivational videos don’t give a clear picture of success; at least not on a deeper level. Success is not around the corner… and for sure it is hardly ever a straight line! Reaching your goals is more like the path a jack rabbit takes when it is spooked. Right! Left! Hide in some grass, then dart off again!

Reaching a goal is hard (this part the motivational videos and I agree on), in part because of the path you have to take to reach it. Then the most complex aspect of success kicks in…

What you define as success changes as you travel on that path. Left! Right! Hide… change in definition of success… now what?

I have been involved in athletics and education for over 20 years. I have been a part of many athletes’ and students’ journeys.

I’ve seen goals reached in seconds, then taken away before the finish line.

Courtney was a freshman 400 runner for me at Centura. She still holds the school record at 59 seconds. In the prelims of the 400 at state she ran the fastest time to earn lane four in the finals, 59 seconds. But she would not medal. In fact for the finals of the women’s 400, lane four was empty. Courtney had broken a bone in her foot at the 200 mark in her prelim 400. Yes, you read that right. Courtney ran a 59 second 400 with a broken foot. She would return to state to earn a fourth place medal. But a goal was earned and taken away in a single race.

I’ve seen goals take miles and years to reach.

The above snapshot of Variety’s “About” page shows the name of one of their newest online video producers, James Aitken, who is a former student of mine that wanted to attend college in California to study film. He did not get accepted. James went on to the University of Nebraska to do some cool things in the media field. He graduated from UNL in 2014. He started his newest job last May, in California.

Working hard is an aspect of reaching your goals.

Another sprinter, Ryan, worked hard for three years. As a junior he was ranked third in both the 100 and 200. He worked hard for three years! He puked after practice. He strengthened his form. Ryan believed in the process… He won both races at districts to earn a spot at state.

But many times, dreams change as we grow.

The 2018 Miss Nebraska, Jessica Shultis, is another former athlete and student. Jessica placed 10th at the 2019 Miss America contest in September. She is living a dream I don’t think she had as she played basketball and ran track in high school, or as she battled cancer at the age of 19.

Now to address my son’s challenge.

You do have to work hard. That is important.

Success is not a straight line. Enjoy the journey.

Your goals will change. That is OK.

But always follow your heart as you pursue your dreams. In one way, the quality of your life is revealed in how you strive for your goals. You may succeed. You may fail. But if you follow your heart, your life will always be true.

 

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Off to Grandma’s house we go, talking all the way

Life can teach you powerful lessons, if you listen…

The last couple of days life has revealed how important talking and listening is to our relationships. Here are the dots I’ve been given to connect.

  1. Taking my youngest daughter to grandma’s house in the morning.
  2. An assignment in class
  3. Focus on the Family program

Dot 1

For the last two days I have driven my youngest daughter to grandma’s house because her preschool doesn’t start until next week. Grandma’s house is 35 minutes away. For the last two days I have answered questions like:

“Why does the moon move?”

“What is your favorite place to go?”

“What is your favorite stuffed animal?”

It has been a joy talking with my daughter. When she liked an answer, she would say, “Oooooh, I like that, too!”

With six children, we have a busy schedule. It is not often that we get specific time to just talk with a single child.  We do have family time at dinner, or traveling to an event, that allows us to talk. But the specific one-on-one time is rare. Answering questions on the way to grandma’s house has reinforced the importance of finding time for each of my kids.

Dot 2

To start the year I have a small unit for the seniors that focuses on being successful next year at college. They write an email to a professor, they create a resume, stuff like that. The first assignment is to answer some questions about their college and life next year. Questions like:

Where is the Registrar’s office? Who is a contact person?

Who do you contact for safety issues?

Where is your favorite restaurant from campus?

This lead to a lot of conversations, as a class and with a single student as we tried to navigate a college’s website. Through the class period we would also talk about break and Christmas gifts. One moment in class got me thinking about the importance of talking… one student asked me about my New Year’s resolutions. Then another student asked about what Christmas gifts I got.  This was the only class that that type of conversation happened, but it made me feel like someone else cared enough to know something about me. Isn’t that the heart of our life? To know that someone else in this great big world, which at times is so harsh, cares enough to listen to us.

Dot 3

After dropping my daughter off this morning, I listened to Focus on the Family. Jim Daly  interviewed Ron and Deb DeArmond about their book, I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last. One of the focal points was about communication in marriage. During an answer Deb said that you hear with your ears, but listen with your heart. True communication is not just talking, but listening, processing, and showing you care.

It is a simple picture when you connect the dots: real conversations matter. Real conversations are an act of love.

I think the world needs more talking and listening…

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A Year Without a Smartphone

I don’t know if you have heard, but VitaminWater is going to give one person a chance to win a 100,000 dollars if they can go without a smartphone for 365 days.

Yes, I have entered for the chance.

Have you? Could you go a year without your smartphone? I doubt I will be selected. To enter you have to post on social media how your life would be different for the year. As I write this, Instagram says there are 59.3k posts with the VitaminWater’s contest hashtag, #NoPhoneforaYear. So, I doubt my three entries will even be seen.

But it is an interesting question to ponder. Two of my entries were focused on writing more and being more involved as a father and husband. Common ideas from other people. My third entry was based on what I would miss…

Smartphones do enhance our lives. I listen to music. I take pictures all the time. In fact, I was going to do the 365 photo challenge again for 2019, but decided to wait till VitaminWater chose the person for their contest. I would miss the instant communication with my family. Even the quick text to let them know I love them. Yes, I even play games on my phone. I have played Puzzle and Dragons for 1661 days (this is why my oldest son doesn’t think I could make it a year without my phone).

When I told my students about the contest, one student said 100,000 dollars wasn’t enough money to give up their phone.

Now, I could reference all the articles and studies about the power of screens in our lives. This is a cultural debate, but also still a new development in our society. The iPhone is only 11 years old. Think about that… both the positive and negative of what smartphones have done for us.

But again, this post isn’t about that, either.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for 100,000 dollars? I think I can.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for your goals?

I’m trying. I’m not giving up my phone. But I am putting it down to write this blog. I am leaving it on my nightstand more. Yes, I have played Puzzle and Dragons today. I have texted my family. Took a crazy photo at lunch. But I am letting my life dictate my phone use. I’m not letting my phone dictate my life.

Would you live a year without a smartphone for your goals?

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2019 Word

It is only a few hours until 2019. I am ready for the new year for a number of reasons, which I won’t get into for this post, but I am excited for 2019 because of the word I chose for the new year: Write.

My focus for 2019 will be on my writing; on my poetry, my blog, and my novel ideas. I have already entered a chapbook contest with Button Poetry. I will be performing at some open-mics in Lincoln and Omaha. I have a first draft of a new novel done (time to edit that) and have scenes written for two other books. This is the year I breakthrough.

Over the next year I have all my past blog posts from this blog, from my education blog (Ideas for Education) and my creative blog (Creative Corner) scheduled to run on the day I posted something from that blog. That is 354 past posts… some days have content from all three blogs.

If you have enjoyed any of my writings, let me know, or share a post with someone who would enjoy reading it. Don’t forget you can add to your collection of books with one of my books: Amazon Author Page.

Here is to a fantastic 2019! Share your word of the year in the comment section.

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