Category Archives: Family

I Wish Life Was More Like Family Feud

Seriously, I wish life was more like Family Feud. I know your chuckling to yourself, but hear me out. Here’s my reasons.

1. Family is important

OK, I know the game show is called, Family Feud, but the importance of family is highlighted in the show. From everyone in sport jerseys to wearing the same color, families show their solidarity on the show. And they show support for each other, even with the craziest answers, by saying, “Good answer!” after each response. Many times, each family gets to share an important aspect of their family, like accomplishments or unique situations that defines the family in some way. Imagine what life would be like if families showed this kind of bond everyday.

Also, even though families compete against each other, they shake hands before each toss up question, then both families come out to celebrate the end of the show. Doesn’t matter where the families came from or what their ethnicity is. What would this world be like if we treated each other with that level of respect?

2. The show is fair

There are two aspects to this fairness. The first is when the judges make a mistake with a situation or answer the show brings back the family to play again. The show owns up to the mistake and makes it right.

But the show doesn’t let a family just win… How many times have you seen the Fast Money round end in 199 points?

It takes 200 points to win the 20,000 dollars. No extra help to get over that limit. That’s fair.

3. Laugh… a lot

The show is filled with laughter. Contestants laugh at themselves, laugh with each other and with Steve Harvey. There is some serious money on the line, or two strikes, but there is always room to laugh, to enjoy the moment.

And when a family wins, pure joy!

So, yes, I wish life was more like Family Feud: Importance of Family, Fairness, and Laughter… and 20,000 dollars would be nice.

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Your Story. My Story. Our Story.

Your Story.

On Saturday, I attended the wedding of a former student, Jason. The wedding was centered on the couple’s Love Story. The program shared important dates for them; first road trip, first date, the day he proposed. The ceremony, also, intertwined their Love Story. It was a beautiful moment… in their Life Story.

The wedding party had seven former students; the officiant, the groom, an usher, and four of the groomsmen. Not to mention all the other former students I visited with during the reception. It had been over 10 years since I had seen many of them. Many of the conversations centered on how life had changed for all of us. Trying to tell our Life Stories in 10 minutes. In one way it saddened me. To know, that at one time, our stories were being written together. Now… the stories are separate. In fact, even though Jason and I have kept in touch (mostly through Facebook), the wedding was the first time I met his bride.

Isn’t that Life.

You have your story. I have my story.

But, even in small moments, it is our story. And that is the greatest aspect of life I know. Each of us plays the role of protagonist in our lives. We forget that we are characters in other people’s stories. I was the English teacher, the coach, and for some of my students, something more. Jason and I spent hours playing basketball and talking about life. For each of my former students there was a unique aspect to our relationship. For example, I gave one student a quote every month for a year. I will admit to feeling a sense of pride knowing that those memories were part of their stories. To remember the good times and the rough times because we wrote that part together, just in different perspectives.

Even though our stories are now being written separately, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t play an important part in the past. Because isn’t that what makes a great story? Moments that are worth remembering. Stories that are retold. Being remembered by someone. Yes, you have your story. I have my story. But really this life is our story.

(A little trip back to eighth grade…)

 

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The Balance of Fatherhood

Person standing on wood planks above a city

I am going to state up front that this blog post will challenge you. Plus, it will not provide any answers to help you, but I hope to provide an opportunity to spend time reflecting on the importance of your career and of fatherhood. The balance of both of these responsibilities is at the center of our everyday life. This balance deserves an opportunity to be talked about, to spend time thinking about, to find the correct balance. So, I am going to ask you to watch a TedTalk and listen to a podcast as we look at this balance. Ready? Let’s start with the video. This a great TedTalk, but pay close attention to the ending, at about 8:55 to the end.

First, let me agree at the moment with Larry Smith. He is correct that we can hide behind human relationships. We mask our own fear with the idea that we are at least being good people. He is also correct about that mask being false. How can we have great relationships if we are not being our authentic self? And our jobs, our careers, our passions are one of the ways we express ourselves to the word. So, Larry is correct in challenging us about pursuing our passions… but hold on. I’m not done challenging you.

I want you to listen to the podcast, “Family Snapshot” from the memory palace. The podcast is based off of Charlie Duke’s book MoonWalker. (Which is on my reading list.)

Next time you are outside at night, look up at the moon and think about how cool it is that there is a family portrait on the moon. I will admit, as a dad, that idea is cool! But at what cost?

Now, the focus of the rest of the post will center on the balance of fatherhood and careers. I will state my opinion a little later, but want to work through the idea first. So let’s connect a few dots here.

Larry Smith makes a great argument about why we need to pursue our passions. I agree, but I think he simplified the father-son/daughter relationship to a moment of giving advice. Which I agree with, too. Fathers (and mothers) are the first examples for their children about pursuing goals. We also help them deal with failure and a range of things that deal with careers, but a relationship is more complex than that moment, and a father-child relationship may be the most complex relationship in this life.

So, that brings us to Charlie’s story (at least what is shared on the podcast), an absent father that walked on the moon, who in a unique way, will have his family live forever in a picture on the moon.  Imagine when someone finds that photo, thinks about the people in the picture, standing and smiling, a happy family. Another type of mask. Charlie’s relationship with his family was tested, if not actually present.

Balance

Responsibility

Goals

Career

Family

Fatherhood is a balancing act. Yes, I do believe you can pursue your passion, reach your personal goals. Yes, I believe that nuclear family relationships are the most important relationships we have. What is the balance? How do you find it? I don’t know. If I did, I suppose I would be the famous author I dream about. But I hope that this post got you thinking, reflecting, and moving forward toward your goal, and when you come home your children run up to you with a hug, glad to have you home because it is a beautiful day and they want to play outside.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Share this with anyone who would enjoy it.

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Snow Steps

I arrived at work just before 7 o’clock. The maintenance crew is sweeping the snow from the parking lot, but the section I usually park in is untouched. It is an unblemished field of white. I feel guilty pulling into, what I hope is, my parking spot. I have no idea if I am between the yellow lines. I know I am close because I recognize the shape of the bush that I park by.

I collect my computer, coffee cup, and my Vikings Tervis cup. The air is cold. It quickly hurts my nostrils. My breath a heavy cloud in front of me. I watch as maintenance zooms around the parking lot in their little tractors, sweeping away the snow. I head to my office, snow lightly crunching under my feet as I traverse across the white stillness. My mind heavy with life and work. On an impulse I turn to take a picture of my steps for my 365 project.

Foot prints in snow.

As I put my phone back into my pocket I think about how I am the first person to walk on this snow this morning. Then how in a few minutes the maintenance guys will clear away my steps. How more cars will settler in their spots for the day, and when I walk back to my car my steps will be gone. If it warms up enough, there will only be slush left on the concrete.

But isn’t that life? Isn’t this a metaphor for every morning of our lives? Each day we are given the opportunity to make our mark on the day. Yes, life, and other people, will impact our day. Our lives are all connected, we can not or should not shy away from that fact. And yes, some days it feels like we have to find our way back to the car by jumping puddles or stomping off slush from our shoes before we go home.

But that is the point. Our lives are worth making those steps each day. Even knowing that the prints may be gone by the end of the day because we know we took them. My hands (or feet) will never be saved in concrete. I know my life is meant to walk in snow, that my prints are only seen by me. And that is OK because I made them, crooked left step and all.

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2018 Word of the Year

Happy New Year!

As we have done for four years, each person in my family has decided on a word for the year. My word is:

Ferris Wheel with the caption, Center Word for 2018

This one is unique in the sense that it encompasses many different parts of my life, yet brings everything to a central point (yes, I know what I just did there).

I am not sure what the next year will bring. I have goals I want to achieve. But this year I am concentrating on my center. I think that this work will have a domino effect on the success of my goals. When I think about my word, obviously, a wheel comes to mind, but it is a true metaphor for what I want to accomplish. It seems like all the action is on the outskirts of a wheel. It is there that you see the movement. The turning. The center seems to not move at all, but without a strong center the wheel can not move. Ever see a wheel when the axle is off center? How it wobbles, how hard it is to control.

A strong center is needed for a wheel to move, to spin, to make progress.

I have goals to meet this year, but I am only going to make it by strengthening the center… What is your word for this year?

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It’s Time to Run in the Rain

Muddy path between trees.

Like so many other times, life finds a way to reveal a lesson to me through unique events. This time it was my son’s conference cross country meet and a motivational YouTube video. Both of them showed me the importance of running in the rain.

First my oldest son.

Last week he set his personal record (PR) by over a minute at his conference cross country meet.  What was even more impressive is that he did it during a rainy day. Now it wasn’t a downpour when he ran, but it had rained all day, and the course was affected (the title picture is part of the course). My son didn’t complain. He ran. He ran the best time of his career.

A couple of days ago I came across a motivational YouTube video that highlighted speeches by Eddie Pinero (a motivational speaker and founder of the site: Your World Within). One section of the video had Eddie Pinero using the example of getting up early to run but it is raining. He expanded on the importance of getting out of bed and running in the rain, even though no one would blame you for staying in bed. But that doesn’t get you toward your goal.

These two separate moments highlighted for me – and this is a vulnerable statement from me – how I had not been working for my goals like I should. I needed to start running in the rain. And if you are struggling with accomplishing your goals, maybe you need to start running, too. Here’s what running in the rain does for us.

Pride

As a coach I always presented to my athletes the definition of pride as knowing you have done your best.

My oldest son has earned the right to feel proud. He has worked hard and ran his best time in bad conditions at the conference meet. As a coach, that was what I asked of my athletes, to be their best at the most important times. My son did that.

Eddie reinforced this idea in his speech. He expressed how you would be the only one who knew what you went through as you stood on the podium. The crowd saw you win, not knowing how many times you had to run in the rain.

Successful Habits

I love the way Eddie talked about habits. He explained how hard it would be to actually run in the rain the first time. But as you build the habit, the weather becomes a nonfactor. The running (or habit) becomes important, rain or shine.

My son also taught me this. He puts in hundreds of miles in the summer, but he also works on his other interests in the summer and on the weekends. He has created habits that allow him to succeed.

The Strength to Live Your Goals

This is the most important aspect, but also the most complex. So, let me see if I can connect the dots to reveal how running in the rain builds the strength to live an authentic life.

First, Eddie points out that when we focus on the weather, or external forces, we live our lives on a shallow level. We simple react to life. We make excuses and rationalize why our goals or dreams are not achieved.

Now my son has complained about the weather or the course, but I have never heard him make an excuse. He is so mentally strong. Not just with cross country, but with all his activities, and that is part of the strength running in the rain builds. It is not just to endure the weather, it is the strength to focus on what we want to do with our lives. To be able to adapt to external factors, not react. To be able to stay focused on achieving our goals, to live an authentic life.

My son and a motivational video by Eddie Pinero has shown me that it’s time to start running in the rain  – I have dreams and goals I want to achieve. I have been making too many excuses. So I got my shoes sitting by the door and I am thankful for their wake-up call.

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Open Letter To My Younger Self

I have become a fan of The Players’ Tribune. A couple of my favorite essays are from Danny Woodhead and Ray Allen. (Not to mention the recent essay from Isaiah Thomas, but his doesn’t fit this blog theme). Danny and Ray write a letter to their younger selves. I wrote a blog similar to this idea, “Staying True To My Younger Self,” but it focused on my writing.

I’ll turn 46 in a few weeks. And this thought about what advice I would give my younger self keeps storming my heart. So, I thought I would get the idea out onto paper…

Dear Younger Me,

It is amazing to think that I am just over the halfway mark of this life. The first half seemed to take so long to happen, all the change and growth and heartache that has occurred in these 46 years is crazy to think about. But, the years seem to be gaining speed, and life is going by way too fast. The oldest son is a junior in high school and the youngest daughter just turned four. I have had five different professional positions. We have a minivan with almost 100,000 miles and still a few months to pay it off!

Be ready, you are going to need to work on a few things. This letter is going to be tough to write, I hope you understand it when you read it.

First, forgive them. Everyone. Do it now because if you don’t, each day adds weight to your heart and it becomes harder to forgive. In fact I still haven’t. I can’t seem to let go of the pain and disappointment and the what ifs. Ironically, part of the problem is the work you will do to create a better life for yourself and your family. I’m not father or husband of the year, but the dinner table is often filled with laughter. There are hugs and bedtime stories. Movie nights with too much candy and simple moments of joy that take my breath away. But I haven’t forgiven certain people. You know who I mean, so forgive them as soon as you can. You can still live your own life without them, but your heart won’t be burden with the weight of anger and pain.

Second, I hope you read this in time, but don’t quit football. Don’t make that mistake. It will be your greatest regret.  Also, write more, push to become the writer you have always dreamed of since elementary school.  I’ve learned that the door of opportunity only stays open for so long before it closes. And when you choose to close that door, it can get locked and you have to let a dream die. Football. Other dreams can still be achieved. Writing. But you have to find an unlocked window to climb through. And sometimes that window is on the forty third floor. You have to struggle more than if you would have truly pursue your goals when the door was open.

Third, tell people thank you and that you love them. Let them in. Not everyone. But the people who are helping you, sometimes believing in you when you are not. You might think you will have time, but you won’t. Mr. Holt will pass away before you can tell him thank you for believing in you. There are others, like the Hudsons, Scott, and Mrs. Lane, who you will take for granted while you grow up. Let them know you are grateful, today. “Thank you,” might be the hardest thing to say in life because it reveals how you were affected by someone else.  For that moment you allowed someone into your life with an open heart and you are letting them know that by saying thank you.

And finally, stay true to who you are. I know you will do this at times, you will make hard choices because deep down you listened to the quiet but strong voice. Other times you will feel lost and hurt and wonder why life is so dark. That happens when you lose your focus, when you let others decide your future. Your path will be clearer if you continue to make choices that align with who you are (and what your goals are).

You are going to make it. At the halfway mark of life you will be amazed at how far you’ve come (and that you have driven two minivans as a dad). It won’t be easy, but I hope you take my advice so that when you arrive here you would have experienced more joy than heartache. But even if you don’t take my advice, you will look ahead to the second half of your life and you will know, even though the years are speeding up, that they will be filled with love.

                                                                                             Sincerely

                                                                                              You at 45

P.S. Remember this song?

 

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