Tag Archives: dad

Losing Hurts and that is Good

A last second basketball shot

The photo above is a last second game winning 3-pointer in the championship game… for the other team. My second son is number 15 in the red uniform. He has never lost a game like that before.

Teen performing a speech

The picture above is my oldest son, performing serious prose for Speech. At districts he got third in one round, but got sixth in another. He didn’t qualify for finals.

As a dad it was hard to lessen the pain my sons felt after each of these moments. Even harder to explain the benefit of losing (blog post from 2011). I want them to know that character is built on both sides of the coin, winning and losing. I want them to know that it is important to feel the pain of defeat because it means that their heart was in it.  And honestly, I think that is the most important aspect to success.

Anyone can participate in a sport or activity. Some are even successful without ever putting their heart into it. I mean that they can win on talent alone, but that isn’t the only reason to be involved in an activity. Finding out who you are and expressing yourself through that activity is the greatest achievement.

No matter if we win or lose we have moments that reveal who we really are in our pursuit of our goals. Putting our heart into an activity allows us to become ourselves, to understand who we are. To be great as a person. I know I am their dad, but I am proud of the men my sons are becoming.

My oldest son got his first main role as a third grader. He was Charlie in Willy Wonka Jr.

Boy performing as Charlie

This year he choose to perform Sweeney Todd, one of his favorite plays, during Speech season. Next year he hopes to perform an original piece, plus compete in Poetry. I am proud of his strength to perform pieces that are true to his heart and not sell out in hopes of winning.

My second son started playing basketball in first grade.

boy dribbling ball

He has worked hard, from that first game when he would not move from his spot on the court when he was on defense, to playing with the NBDA Bison Green team. I am proud of his work ethic and focus on achieving his goals.

I am most proud of both of them for feeling the sting of defeat, because it means their hearts are in it, win or lose. And if they keep pursuing their goals with their heart, I know they will succeed, especially in life.

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2010 National Honor Society Speech

Person at Podium I discovered a draft of my speech for Centura’s National Honor Society Induction Ceremony in 2010. I, also, had this photo from that night. As I read over the speech I could imagine me writing this same speech today, of course I would be older. I would have more failures and more successes to share…  Anyway, I thought the message was worth sharing. Enjoy a small trip back in time to when I was 38…

Centura National Honor Society Speech

Good evening… I am honored to speak at such an important event in your lives.  I stand before you at the halfway point in my life, I am 38 years old.  In those 38 years, I have failed many times.  I lost my last high school football game in 3 overtimes, and then would quit playing football after my freshman year in college.  I let my first true love leave me and never got her back.  I technically do not have a mom or a dad to help me through life.  In high school, I dated a girl my best friend liked.  We did not speak to each other for 6 months.  I have yelled at my children only because I was having a bad day. I have had personal dreams die. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels taped together.

Now, I know what you are thinking, “Uhmm Mr. Boelhower this is suppose to be a happy occasion…”  Hold on, give me a moment.

I stand before you at the halfway point of my life, I am 38 years old. In those 38 years, I have succeeded many times.  I was selected to play in the Wyoming Shrine Bowl, one of the few players to be selected from a losing team.  I would compete in track and field at Hastings College and continue as an assistant coach.  I am married to a wonderful woman and have five beautiful children. And yes, it was true love at first sight, at least for me.  My best friend was my best man at my wedding, and I was his best man.  Just last night at the dinner table, we laughed as we made-up the shortest “Once upon a time” stories.  I have succeeded at dreams I never knew I had. To be honest, after 38 years my heart sometimes feels so much love it could exploded.

Now, why do I share this with you, because you will someday stand at the halfway mark and find that life has been nothing like you thought, and that is the beauty of it, both the pain and the joy.  But to get to that point, to be able to embrace the complexity of life you need a strong foundation, which brings us to this moment.  Why we are here.  Tonight is a moment that symbolizes the foundations you build your life on, Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character.

Each of these foundations is important to life.  Let us take a minute to redefine these foundations with real world definitions.

Scholarship:  It is not just about the grades.  Scholarship is discovering and sharing the truth.  The truth of what works in this world and what works in your own life. It is learning from your mistakes and your victories.

Service: Is not just volunteering.  Service is Love in action.  Love of family and friends, of your fellow humans, of a better tomorrow.  Service is the opening of your heart to see others succeed.  The cool part is when you do this; you start to see your true self.

Leadership: is not just being the head person in charge.  Leadership is the courage to serve and to learn.  We are all leaders at some point in our lives, as a mom or dad.  A coach, a friend.  Many people “talk” about what should be done, few do it.  It takes courage to get things done; it takes courage to do what is right.  It takes courage to open your heart, to love those around you.

Character: is not just principles of morality and ethics.  It is your everyday life, lived.  It is the choices you make, mixed with the things you say, combined with the attitude you express.  It is you, everyday.

These foundations are strong; these foundations allow you, us, to handle the darkest hours.  They give us something to land on when we are knocked down.  And they provide the support to pick yourself up, to not shy away from the pain, but build and learn from those moments.

These foundations are good.  They allow us to bask in the sunshine, to truly experience love, joy, and life.  They lift us up.  They connect us to others, friends, family, and community.  These foundations give depth to our lives and fuel us to pursue the dreams we choose.

Life is complex, and that is the beauty of it.  Be confident in your foundations.  Stand tall, even when you feel down.  Love when your heart is broken.  Live everyday by what you know is true.  And live a life of greatness, everyday…

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Follow the Directions

15 years.

52 Sundays in a year.

That is 780 Sunday mornings.

Let’s round that down to 750 (we have missed a few Sundays over the years).

12 muffins a box. (I won’t worry about any times I made more.)

9,000 muffins I have made as a dad!

And I still read the instructions on the box…(I do use milk instead of water, though.)

Instructions for blueberry muffins

Why?

Good question, and one I found myself answering Sunday morning as I measured out the milk, then oil, and then crack two eggs.

Why read the directions after 9,000 muffins? Because it matters. As many of you know, blueberry muffins are a tradition for my family. And I want to make sure the muffins are done right. So, I read and follow the directions, every time.

But isn’t that the key to success? Be it relationships, business, or sports? Doing the important things, sometimes the smallest things, right – every time.

I know that life can get crazy, distracting us from the small important things we need to do. Even our goals can draw us away from focusing on the foundational steps we should be working on to achieve that same goal. If you are feeling like life has gotten out of hand, or that you’re taking steps backwards from your goals, I suggest getting back to reading the instructions. Focusing on doing things right – every time. Soon you will look back and be amazed at how much you have accomplished. Even if it is just having breakfast every Sunday morning with your family.  9,000 muffins and counting.

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The Gift

the-gift

What do you think is inside? Socks, a gift card, a new Bluetooth speaker, or maybe a half empty jar of mayonnaise? How would you react to each of those possibilities?

At the beginning of the month I attended a conference in Portland, Oregon. The final keynote was a local improv group, Brainwave Improv Company. The conference attendees were separated into five teams. At the end of the keynote each team would actually play an improv game and be awarded points. Think Whose Line is it Anyway.

While working in our groups the members of Brainwaves taught us a few different improv games (one of which would be the one we were judged on). Through those games the actors discussed aspects of improv that correlated to dealing with people at work and life. The same principles that made for a great improv session can be used to build strong relationships at work and home. One of my team’s games was “Gift Giving”.

The idea is simple. Two people exchange gifts. The person giving the gift could not say what it was, but through their actions give a hint to what it might be. A person might seem to be lifting a huge box to give to the other person, or act like the box was moving. The person receiving the gift had to take the gift, “open” it, and share what the gift actually was. Of course the whole game is to be funny, but the lesson the actors shared was powerful.

Brainwaves first shared the idea that in improv everything is a gift; a line, a situation, a moment of silence, anything can be used by the actors to make the game / scene funny. As actors they had to be open to whatever the “gift” might be and adapt, even if they had an idea ready to use. To make a scene flow they had to embrace the gift of the situation.  They then moved the idea to work and life by teaching us how to play the game, “Gift Giving”. See, the real responsibility for the game is on the person receiving the gift. The whole game centers on how that person reacts to the gift, even when it is something crazy or unwanted.

If the person receiving the gift responds in a negative way the whole scene falls apart… You see where this is going don’t you? We have all been on both sides of this situation. We have received a gift that we didn’t like. We have given a gift only to seen the rejection in their face when they opened it. The scene falls apart.

To play the game we had to love what was in the gift. We had to carry the game with our reaction. But the actors took the idea a step deeper. Remember that in improv anything is a gift to the other actors. Brainwaves pushed that idea to dealing with everyday life. How did we act when presented with situations at work? How did we responded when we have to work with someone we don’t like? How do we respond to a child spilling milk? Yes, it is the attitude cliche. We have all heard, in some way, that your attitude is the key to handling life. But what got me about how Brainwaves addressed the issue was the metaphor of a gift.

In my house a gift is a way someone shows that they care about you. (Yes, it is one of my dadisms for my kids.) Now, I’m not naive. I know that tragic things happen to us. We get our hearts broken. Life can blindside us and drop us to our knees. Yet, how many success stories come from those tragedies? How many people took the situation as a gift and ran with it? Not to mention just using the idea to handle our everyday mishaps. What gift have you been given today? Did the scene fall apart? Or did you run with it?

 

 

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An Open Letter to My Children About Talent

Dear Sons and Daughter,

I am amazed by your talents. Each of you have unique gifts that make being a parent awesome. You are lucky to have discovered your talents at such a young age. Each day I see how your talent continues to improve. It is an honor to be a part of that process. As you stand on on stage, make a no-look pass, or draw a new animal, I see a glimpse of your heart. This letter is meant to help you grow and work with your talents in the future. Yes, it is parental advice, but that is a benefit of being your dad.

 

Work

First, it is your talent. You are responsible for developing it. You are responsible for how you use your talent. You decide if you continue to work hard at being an actor, a basketball player, and an artist. No one else has that responsibility (we will talk about other people in a minute). And that responsibility means you can let your talent slide. My fatherly advice is don’t. I know the regret of letting a talent go… of not focusing on the development of a gift. You know that I quit football after my freshman year in college. I still wonder what I could have done on the football field. You know that I write now, but in a way I let writing slide for too long. As a senior in high school I received a Young Author’s award. I let too many years go… I will never get them back. I never got to put on a uniform again… It seems like life is forever at your age, but it is not. Opportunities to use your talent are limited. Don’t waste them. I believe there is a reason for everyone’s talent. Yes, I am about to go deep.

Our talents gives us depth to our lives. It is not the only thing that makes life meaningful.  There is love, family, friendship, but our talents add to that mix. Your talent will enrich your everyday experience. Your talent gives you direction in this life, if you have the courage to use your talent as a life compass. When faced with hard choices, ask yourself which options best benefit your talent. Yes, I am talking about things like alcohol or drugs or any other peer pressure situations. But also about situations life hands you, like friends, job opportunities, situations you have not encountered yet. Of course there are other factors in major decisions, but your talent is an important factor. If you make choices that help you develop your talent, you will find the right direction. I didn’t say easy… just that you will not regret a choice that is centered on strengthening your talent.

Here’s why: other people. Let’s deal with the positive aspect first. I also believe that there is another aspect to the responsibility of our talents. By developing our talents we can help other people see what they are capable of in this life. In a simple, everyday way, our talents make this a better world. You are a role model through displaying your talent. I was reminded of this through a few situations where my writing had an impact for people that I did not know were influenced by something I have written. Your talent shows others what can be. It shows others the beauty of this life, the richness of living. And you never know who that might be.

But here’s the flip side of other people, the haters. I wish I had an answer to this issue, but I don’t. And I know how powerful negative people can have on developing or showing your talent. Their comments and attitudes can make you feel like hiding your talents. Can you image what our world would be like if we lifted people up instead of trying to destroy someone simply because they are good at something? It would be amazing. I can’t stop the haters. But be strong, be courageous, at the end of the day you know mom and I will be here for you. Draw all the lions you want. Sing your heart out. Take the 3 or drive to the basket. Embrace your talents. Work hard. Prepare for the hard spots in life, they will come. But most of all enjoy where your talent takes you, it’s going to be a beautiful life.
Love, Dad.

 

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Light-up Shoes

Shoes“My shoes?” my youngest daughter asks. Right now almost everything is a question.

“My daddy?” she asks after daycare.

“Yep, I’m your daddy,” I would say. Then she would smile. I totally understand Tim McGraw’s song “Grown Men Don’t Cry” now.

But back to the shoes. They are light-up Paw Patrol shoes. My little girl ran around the living room making the shoes light up. Every few seconds she would ask if I had seen the lights on her shoes. Then she would ask mom, the girls, my oldest son. “See my shoes?”

I will be honest, I was hit with the fact that I would soon not buy another pair of light-up shoes. I pretty sure that every one of my kids have gotten a pair of light-up shoes. They would run around making them light up.  They would smile. It was the best day of their young lives the day they got light-up shoes. Such a simple thing, but brings such a pure joy.

My oldest son was eating a quick breakfast, he had speech practice this morning. But he stopped and responded to his sister. I wondered if I had done anything for him so he felt like he was having the best day of his young life. I was a washed with dad guilt. Raising six kids, being a husband, being in the middle of figuring out a career, can make life feel restricted and stressful. But it is the small things that make the biggest difference in this world.

Love is expressed in the small things, an unexpected hug, a funny GIF sent in an email/text. A handwritten note can clear away the storm clouds. A favorite drink or candy bar can change a person’s view. Or having pockets…

My daughter stops in front of me. Her hands are stuffed into her little front pockets of her pants. “I have pockets!” It is not a question. Then she takes off running with her hands still stuffed into her pockets. My dad instincts kick in, and I hope she doesn’t fall as she makes it to the front door.

“My coat?” she asks with a smile.

It’s going to be a great day, even if I do shed a tear.

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Greatness

Good morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. I don’t know when you might come across this post, but I wrote it for you.

Let’s cut to the chase, we need you to be great today. No, seriously. We need you to be on your game today. We need you to be a great mother or father, a great friend, a great person, a great writer, a great YOU.  Here’s why.

The world has enough average people. The world has too many below average people. The world has enough hate, disrespect, and coldness. What we need is you to be great.  To be strong. To live your life to the fullest at this moment.

I can hear some of you, life is too hard to be great. Thank you for proving my point. How is being less than your best helping make your life better? It is not. I know that it can be crazy getting the kids ready for the day. But being average, being rattled, being short and snippy at the kids does not make the moment better. Being at your best is not a guarantee that getting the kids ready in the morning will not be work, but it sure makes the moment better.

Life can be hard. I know that.  Which is even more of a reason for you to be great, to live your life to your greatest potential. Your life needs you to rise up to a higher level.

I can hear you, too. I’ve tried being better but it didn’t work. Yoda was right when he said:

Do or not do

The word TRY gives us an excuse not to succeed. To not be our best. It deflects the responsibility of our lives to an abstract idea or worse to another person.  You either live to your potential or you don’t.  Stop trying. We need you to BE GREAT. Your family, your dreams, your life needs your greatness. I know you you know it. Now live it.


Share this with anyone you know who might need a reminder that we need their greatness.

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