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It is the holidays and the stress levels are picking up steam everywhere.  People are in a bigger hurry, a little shorter in their conversations, seem to have less time for just life.  

I have always found this the greatest of paradoxes.  The holidays are a time that have been marketed in our brains to be a certain, perfect, way of life.  An unattainable way of life.  The perfect light display, the smiling happy children, the perfect gift, and of course the picture perfect snow fall.  So, we all think this is the model  and we must work hard to achieve it.  Along the way we lose a lot of what the holidays should be about.

People like to blame the retailers.  Come on.  They are just trying to survive and take advantage of our weakness.  That is what marketing is about…all year long.  The holidays put it in overdrive as it is the one time of year when it seems all shuts down for families to truly spend time together.  And that is when we start feeling the pressure.

Get up in the morning and do what you need for yourself.  Remind yourself that special times can be made of all kinds of non-marketable moments.  Like the dog who eats the Christmas ornaments.   Or the brothers who have their annual political fight during dinner, or the simple fact that the kids are not going to slow down and enjoy each present as they open it.   Also, to my wife, there is no beautiful piece of jewelry waiting for the perfect moment and there sure as heck is not a Lexus with a big bow around it out in the drive!  When you think about the way we are marketed to, it is so ridiculous, comical and yet it builds tension.  Look at that happy family and the look of the wife who just found a Lexus behind the big stocking in the driveway…with the stocking dropping like a stage curtain. “How can I get that look of happiness from my family?”

You can’t…you probably won’t.  Accept it.  Enjoy what you will have.  Take the time to slow down and enjoy what you have and take in the calm.  Lay on the couch with your kids and talk about the lights in your home.  Just talk to your visiting family and really be thankful for the time together.  Slow down.  Create calm and peace.

That is what the holidays need to be about.

Hope Redefined

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What would our world look like if each of us just stayed on the alert for an opportunity to make a difference?   Here is a story, appropriate to the season and hopefully our lives.  I know that every day I am wrapped up in my own problems.  The opportunities to make a difference in some body’s life may be staring me in the face.  Do I recognize them?  I hope so.  I also can do better.

 Too many people are looking to their government to provide hope.   The process of changing that mindset begins when people come together to try and make a difference.   A simple idea by a football coach in Texas made a big impression and when supported by a community gave the gift. 

 Hope…a gift we all can give.

Where, There, and Here

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In one of the more perceptive web postings I have found in a long time, I stumbled upon Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott’s “Rules of Life”.  Invest a few minutes reviewing these.  I can’t think of a better list of ideas that I would like to expose to my kids.   

It seems that it took me 50 years to really learn Rule Six:

“There” is no better than “here”.  

Remind me I feel that way the first time I wake up in Indiana on a January morning and have to shovel snow! 

I think I found a solution that is somewhat limited by having a child later in life.  I spend as much time somewhere else to avoid the one thing in life I really do not like.  Yet, when I am in Florida, despite my love of the water and lifestyle, I always find myself getting a little bored and asking myself why?  The “why” is what I call my foundation.  That foundation is family.  Next, it becomes easier to realize that in January, life is easier in Florida.  In August, life is easier in Indiana.  

I moved to Texas for five years when I was younger.  I had a great job for a young man and I thought it was the the answer.  While I made many great new friends, and even had family nearby…I still found myself after a few years wondering about “there” and if it was better than “here”.   That search took me on the road to Colorado and Florida.  I ended up back “here”.   “There” still did not end up better than “here”.  It never will.

I have invested a lot of my life wondering “where” is better than “here.”   I meet people in Florida all year long who moved from the north and want to go back.  They too have realized that life is created due to our longing and wondering.  Accepting that life is not about a physical location, is a great accomplishment.  Accept where fate has placed you.  Move if you really think “there” will be better.  Don’t be surprized when it is not.

What About Your Kids?

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So I know the annual “I sure miss my kids” post is soon to occur as we see three of them go away to school over the next two weeks.  In the mean time though, I am reminded  of how much fun kids can be when I discovered this website:

Shit My Kids Ruined

claiming to be “the strongest visual birth control on the market today” this site will provide you with memories of those moments that remind or set your body to fear (depending on the age of your children).  There is also a companion site

Shit My Pets Ruined

I actually have several submittals to both.

So that my young adult kids do not think this is just a site about 3 year olds, take a look at the teen driver pulling into a garage and not finding the brake pedal.  Actually, I have a friend whose wife also did this (not picking on women here…just telling the story!).

The site even has a mission statement:

Comic relief, Commiseration, & Birth Control.

I think we can all use the humor in big doses.  Commiseration feels much better also.  Birth Control?  Despite the way these things make you feel when they occur there will likely be moments in raising kids that far exceed the frustration these events command.  

Occasionally kids give you memories that are so priceless, it will make you glad you suffered through all of these Kodak moments.


Lessons Learned From Father’s Day

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By now most people are done writing about Fathers Day.  Did that last week…right? 

A few bells went off in my head yesterday from the fantastic day I was honored to experience.    My kids (and my wife) made sure I felt special.  From that I learned a few things.

I really enjoy sitting outdoors in the morning.  I just do not have a great place to do that.  I now have a major goal for our home.

It is really nice to not have to apologize for disappearing for an hour to ride my bike or exercise.  I normally feel bad leaving Jennifer alone with whatever issue arises at home while I enjoy some sweat time.  No guilt in leaving to bike yesterday for an hour.  Lesson learned is do everything possible to allow my wife to feel the same way when she wants to do something she enjoys.

I really love coming back from exercising on a beautiful morning to a hearty breakfast.  I am not sure this is a lesson.  Just sayin…

I love being around and with people.  Yet, there is a gift in taking the kids to the pool and allowing a Dad time to putz around the garage, read the Sunday paper, and listen to a ball game.   No interruptions.  I would not want to live my life like that, but 3 hours on Fathers Day..what a treat!

Of course, Fathers Day is not just about me either.   My Dad is 75 and he loves his kids and grandkids.  My Mom can cook like no other, and a late afternoon and evening spent at their home with most of the kids and recognizing my Dad (and brother in law Scott also) was a way to balance out my own gluttony!

My Dad likes driving little Roadster sports cars with the top down.

My older daughters still call me Daddy and wished me a final Happy Fathers Day before they went to bed.  Life has been pretty good to you if your kids are that appreciative when they are 19 and 16.

Joey loves giving crazy cards with pictures of crying toddlers with their pull ups on-equating them to his Dad!

I am blessed in ways I could never have imagined.

Hopefully I can remember all of these lessons by next May for Mothers Day!