Tag Archives: father

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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Why Love: Joy

Two hearts with confetti

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? Or had your first serious heartbreak?  Both of these moments highlight the second answer to Why Love, and that is Joy.

Without getting too deep, I am going to touch on the magical aspect of love but also reveal the importance of why choosing love allows us to feel joy.

So let’s go back in time to that heart pounding time when that certain someone made you see the world in a whole new light. Falling in love. Do you remember how your priorities changed? How even rainy days were awesome? How you were awestruck by their eyes and totally lost any sense of time when you were with them? Life was so good.

Just for a second, let’s deal with the heartache. How dark and painful it felt. I know the argument that love breaks your heart, but that is wrong. People break your heart, not love.

Quote with roses on rocks

Falling in love and sadly the pain of heartbreak reveal the strength love has in revealing joy in our life. I use romantic love because many of us have been through this roller coaster of emotion. But joy comes from all aspects of life. My children have brought me to tears of joy as I watched them play with bubbles. I have lost the sense of time sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee. I have jammed out to a favorite song on the way to work. Life has been so good.

And yes, life has beaten me down. I have had serious dark days… but that is the crux of this answer. I believe that when we choose Love, it allows us to see the real beauty of this life. By seeing and acknowledging that beauty leads us to feel joy.

No, Love does not remove the hardships of life. Two years ago I wrote about the strength it takes to feel joy. This reveals how connected the choice of Love is in our life. Love brings us success in our life, it builds strength, it brings us joy. It is a cycle that creates an awesome life that can handle the hardships we encounter. But in the next post I am going to reveal the most important reason to choose Love. And I read it in a book…

Below is the song that I quoted earlier in the post.

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Why Love: Success Part 1

Title with hands on a high bar

Before you watch the following video of Gina Auriemma talking about athletes he tries to recruit, pay attention to his use of the word Love.

“Recruiting kids that are like really upbeat and loving life and love the game and have this tremendous appreciation for when their teammates do something well..”

I recently blogged about how my sons have felt the sting of failure, but also how it was important to feel that pain because it meant their heart was in it and that they would eventually have success in their activities (Losing Hurts and that is Good).

Success.

That is the first reason or answer to the question: Why Love? As I mentioned in my blog, and if you follow the UConn Women’s Basketball team this year, you know that you can still lose even if you play with heart. But that ability to play or live from Love gives you the strength to handle setbacks.

There are two ways Love helps us succeed.

  1. Builds Strength
  2. Is the foundation to successful characteristics (for next post).

Building Strength

Let’s do a mind experiment. Think back to a time you were frustrated, angry, or felt lost or sad. There are a million ways we handle these emotions, but at the base of these emotions was a sense that the situation and feelings were imposed on you. That you had limited control or choice. I what you are thinking, and yes, I’ll quote the cliche: You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you… (Brian Tracy).

And I use the word cliche because we have all heard this before. But which attitude should we choose? I can choose anger, or fear, or any attitude I want. But when you choose Love you are building strength to become successful.

OK, stay with me as we take this a step deeper. Go back to the mind experiment and the negative reactions. Now think about control with the idea of strength. An easy example, have you ever said something in anger that you really didn’t mean? Or at least thought it? Yes, we all have. How does that happen? We lose control because we are not centered (or strong enough at that moment) from a stance of Love (the choice to care about a person, thing or idea, and to act accordingly). So we internally, or worse, externally say something we don’t really feel. Yes, at the moment we do because those emotions are controlling our hearts and therefor our minds and mouth. Love gives us the strength to choose a different outcome.

It takes time and practice to operate from Love. Each time you do, you become stronger, you become more in control of your life. Nothing… Nothing stops the pain and tragedy of life. Love is the factor that helps us move past those moments to build a successful life. We will still lose games on last second shots, that’s life. But who wouldn’t want to be a part of a team with 11 championships or a 111 win streak? Or better yet, laughter at the dinner table, friends and family at Christmas, and Love.

The next post will look at the second part of success, how love is the foundation of successful characteristics.

Quote with a single star and last sun rays

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Love

Tilte with boy running with balloons

A simple question keeps running through my head lately; ‘Why Love?”

Why anchor my life on Love?

Why not money? Why not success or pride? Why not fame? Why not Hate? These things seem to work… watch TV or YouTube to see how many times these characteristics get likes or shares. The guy tailgating me has a nicer truck than me (and I’m even in the right lane going the speed limit). I still tip even when my family is treated like nobodies at a restaurant.

Really, why not instill a selfish attitude in my children? It would be easier to send an email to the school complaining about something instead of listening to my children, asking them how they can make it better or how to work through it. I can teach them to not care about teammates or friends. The feelings and aspirations of others are not their concern. If they are going to make it in this world they have to go for theirs and pity anyone that gets in their way. There is no such thing as loyalty or dedication…

But I don’t. I do my best to choose Love.

Why Love?

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to try to answer that question through a series of posts exploring how Love works in building an incredible life.

Why Love? Join me to find out why.

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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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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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Living by One Word

wordMany of you know that my family decided on one word to focus on for the year. Stories was mine. Having my first novel published is one of the highlights of living by my word, but is not the most impactful event. Focusing on the idea of Stories has made my dad decisions more enriching. Not easy for sure, but I notice that my relationship with my family has more depth. We have more stories to share.

As a dad many decisions come down to how much hassle is involved. Especially with six kids, we are not so spontaneous as we use to be. By keeping my word in mind as opportunities arise I try to make the decision that will provide the best story for us. To be honest this is not always the easiest. Sometimes the family actually gets separated and my wife and I do run around a bit. But there is an underlining vibe of joy amongst our busyness.

I am not recommending that you have to decide on one word for the year. I am not recommending that you have to do everything your children want. What I am recommending is that if you want a story to tell tomorrow you will have to write it today by the decisions you make.

 

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