Tag Archives: friends

Life in Boxes

I went out to the minivan to get the plastic containers so we could pack up our son’s graduation table. The last of family, friends, and other guests had sauntered off to enjoy the sunny Saturday afternoon. Graduation was still a day away but we held our graduation celebration a day early with two of his friends. Their families were tearing down their sons’ tables. It was a fun morning. We went through almost 300 breakfast burritos. Don’t know how many cups of coffee or slices of coffee cake we went through, but it was a lot. 

There were old friends and new. Small moments of conversations. My son (and I’m sure his friends) had to answer the question, So, what are your plans for next year?, a million times. Slide shows were on constant loop, revealing how the boys have grown. A window into their lives in six second intervals. 

I placed the container down that held all of his medals; sports, journalism, and science fair. Time to box it up all again. For a week my wife and I looked through boxes for material for the table (my wife more than me, but I had to lift the heavier ones). As I picked up this year’s second place medal and small trophy for basketball, I had to hold my heart together. 

Not because I was sad. Just the opposite. No one ever tells you how joy can break your heart. Honestly, that kind of heartbreak is just as painful. Partly because on the edge of the joy is the realization that no moment lasts forever. Yes, we have the memories, the pictures and trophies to draw upon. But when you are in the moment, however big, like a state championship game, or small, like teaching your daughters how to play H.O.R.S.E. on the driveway hoop, is when we know we are living. Fully engaged with who we are, connected to those around us. Living life.

And then those moments pass. Many of them are captured in photos, medals, certificates, and home videos. Others are relived through stories told around the dinner table or at holidays. We laugh, we cry, we feel the moments again. Then we box them up. In our hearts. In plastic containers. In our phones.

I got all the medals, photos, certificates, and trophies packed up. We got the extra plates and cups gathered together. We divided the few breakfast burritos among the three families, and left the conference room to enjoy the sunny Saturday afternoon, ready to experience the next big moment: Graduation.

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What is it Worth?

Let’s do a thought experiment.

Let’s say I have designed a unique tool you could use every day. For fun, let’s call it a Digital Attention Yielder, or D.A.Y. for short.

Now, what if I told you that it would only cost you a quarter to buy? How valuable do you think it is? How well made?

OK, what if I said it would cost a dollar? Is there much change in your judgment of the D.A.Y.’s value?

Let’s jump the cost to $100. What value does it have now in your mind? Five hundred dollars? A $1000?

The cost of something influences our judgment of its value. 

Hang with me for another thought experiment.

What if I said I would pay you a quarter to spend the day working on your dreams? Would you do it?

What if I told you that I would pay you $100 to be a better friend today? A better husband or mother? Would you do that? Would you read a story to your kids tonight? Text a friend?

How much money would it take for you to live the life you want? 

To be the person you want to be? 

How much is your D.A.Y. worth?

Money is an easy way to measure worth. The hurdle is that LIFE doesn’t pay us with money. Life gives us time. And only so much time. We decide how much our time is worth. Our life is measured by abstract ideas like love, friendship, joy, and hardwork, to name a few. It is difficult to put measurable value on these characteristics. But I believe we know deep in our hearts the answers. We know if we treat our family well. We know if we have worked on our dreams. 

At the end of the D.A.Y. we know if we spent it well.

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Conclusion to LIFE Series.

It is 11:45 p.m. as I write this. This post will probably go live in a few days. I couldn’t sleep because I kept thinking about writing a conclusion to this series.

This series was centered on an idea I had as I sat on the floor waiting for my daughters to finish Cinderella Jr practice. Their performance was last week. Life moves on.

My oldest son is about two months away from starting college. Life moves on.

Earlier this evening my wife and I watched the twelfth Star Trek movie (one more to go). Each summer we try to watch a series of movies or TV shows. Life moves on.

Life happens every day. We choose to walk our path with love or something else. We have family and friends that share time walking with us. That’s L.I.F.E. and no matter how much we don’t want it to, life moves on.

I hope this series got you to think about your life. To consider how important love is to all the aspects of this life. Maybe to reconnect with a friend. To live your best life today, every day. Because life moves on. And you don’t get any of these days back.

 

Till the next post…

 

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F is for

The F in L.I.F.E is for family and friends.

I have a dadism I use sometimes when the kids are fighting or a situation is starting to get out of hand. “Family deserves the best from you.” For a number of reasons I feel this is the most important aspect of dealing with family relationships. We should treat our family the best.

The same is true for our friends. The way we love our friends and family dictates the joy and depth of our life. They shelter us during the storms. They give us directions when we have lost our way. They share in our joy of achieving our goals.  They motivate us when we encounter hurdles. Our personal success is never achieved alone.

Our relationships are a manifestation of our choices regarding love. Relationships take work, just as much work as any life goal we have. But that is the reason for love, to build relationships that reveal the beauty of this life. It is hard because each person in our life is unique, which means each relationship has its own set of guidelines. Each relationship then brings a different element of life and love to us. As we build our relationships with family and friends, we expand our understanding of love, of life. That is how we build an incredible life; love our friends and family.

Below are a few media recommendations that correlate with this idea.

Books

The article, “The Lonely Life of George Bell”, has stayed with me since the day I read it in the fall of 2015. It is sad, but so worth reading.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger has a deeper element about the importance of relationships woven through Holden’s observations of the uniqueness of people.

Movies

Over the Hedge is a great movie about the importance of family.

Remember the Titans has the same message about friends.

Songs

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Let’s be Honest

It is January 22, 2019. Even though almost all the schools around us are closed, we didn’t get a snow day. (It is cold, but the roads are clear and the snow just hasn’t started falling). I have tons of grading to do, some are late assignments because students won’t hand in their work. I just introduced a poetry unit for four sections. This is how I feel today.

This post isn’t exactly about my day though. This post is about the work it takes to stay focused on your goals. Especially when you know negativity is coming your way.

Let’s be honest, it is difficult to stay the course. It takes more than will power. It takes more than hard work. It takes courage. It takes faith. And sometimes it takes a wall to protect yourself.

OK, let’s go back to my day.

Poetry

I am going to guess that many of you reading that word had a negative response… just like my students. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am a poet. So, the next couple of weeks are going to be fun for me, to a degree. I will have to fight through the negative reaction almost all of my students will have. But, I think I can use this example to discuss how to withstand those moments in life when you face negative pushback as you reach for your goals.

The first aspect is to have faith. I know that when the poetry unit is over, most of my students will at least appreciate poetry. Even though, right now, they complain, I know what the outcome will be. (In fact even by the end of the period a few students said they enjoyed watching a performance of some of the poems).

Have faith in the end result.

Now the honest part is that sometimes we don’t succeed. We don’t achieve a specific goal. But that doesn’t mean you lose faith. Faith gives you a focus and builds strength to continue to strive toward your goals. That strength feeds your courage. It is going to take courage to face the hurdles while pursuing your dreams. And the toughest hurdle is negativity from the outside world.

That negativity takes on many different forms. Each negative hurdle has to be conquered in different ways. But you have to have the courage to do what it takes to overcome the negativity. Let’s be honest, sometimes we get knocked to the ground by difficult situations. It takes courage to get back up. And faith to get us moving in the right direction.

My final aspect for today is protecting yourself. And the best way to protect yourself is with Love. There are two parts to this idea.

First, love what you do. Sounds simple, but I see too many people, too many students, pursue goals that they don’t love. Love feeds into faith. What you love defines who you are to a degree. If you are pursuing goals that align with what you love, you build faith in the end result. Which then gives you courage to fight for it.  What we fight for keeps fuels our love for that goal and life. Yes, it is all connected.

The second part of Love is a little different. Surround yourself with people who love and care for you. Life is a team sport. For whatever reason, this world is filled with people who would rather see you fail than succeed. People who love you want to see you shine. Their protection is an important part of achieving your goals. Bring them in to your life.

Faith

Courage

Love

And of course,

Poetry.

 

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20 Years of Marriage

Tile of blog with two rings

20 years of marriage today.

I was going to write a deep “what I’ve learned” type of blog… but I’ll save that for later. This post may still be deep, but it will be light-hearted and dedicated to celebrating 20 years of love.

First, a song from one of my wife’s favorite artist…

This use to be my ringtone for my wife on my first phone, back in 2004. The phone had that hidden keyboard you slid down when you turned the phone on its side. It was blue. But anyway, this ringtone got me a free coffee one day.

I was at the Blue Moon in Hastings when my wife called. And from my pocket Celion started to sing, “Because I am your lady, and you are my man.” There was an awkward few seconds before I said, “That’s my wife calling.”

The barista handed me the coffee and said, “No charge. Any husband who will have that ringtone for his wife deserves a coffee.”

Time for another music break…

This is my favorite Josh Groban song. My wife and I got to see him play this song in concert, plus, he played the song on a secondary stage that happen to be right in front of us. Yes, I teared up during the song (come on, who wouldn’t). That night is one our favorite date nights. But we saw Tim McGraw and Faith Hill last year. We have seen the musical of Beauty and the Beast. We have also been to Brian Regan and Phantom of the Opera with our children. We don’t get to do big events like that often, but they are awesome moments in our life.

Another music break…

At the moment, my wife and I are watching the whole series of Miami Vice (I got the series as a Christmas gift). Almost every summer we choose something to watch. One summer we watched every Star Trek movie, yes even the new ones. It was interesting to watch the progression of special effects. We have watched every episode of Friends. We have seen all the Hobbit and Lord of the Ring movies, to name a few of our summer series.

I have one more music break, but before I share that, who says we don’t have a soundtrack to our lives?

This last song is from the final movie in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn – Part 2. It was the only one we saw in a theater (yes, we watched all the other films on DVD, together). I think there was only three guys, including me, in the theater. And I kind of embarrassed my wife. I was enjoying the final fight scene, to be honest. That scene was pretty epic, but when the movie cuts back to reveal that the whole scene was Alice Cullen showing Aro what would happen if he continued with his choice to fight, I said something like, “no way” or “what?”, loudly. There was a loud “shhh” response…

As the credits started to role, this song played…

It has been 20 years of marriage for Lynette and I today. I was up early to get ready for work. I kissed her before I headed out the door. There have been some really tough times, moments of joy that have broken my heart, but we have stuck together. As I pulled my car out of the garage (radio on Yacht Rock) I smiled… I can’t wait to hear the next song in our life.

Love always, me.

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Death

I cried today because of an email delivery failure.

I sent a group message about a guest blog post I wrote. I received the basic message for when an email account is no longer active.
MailMessage

The account was for my good friend Graci. I attended her funeral last Wednesday. She passed away from cancer. She would like the  blog post I wrote.

This post is not going to repeat the cliche that we should live like everyday could be our last. This isn’t about making sure we tell the people we care the most about that we love them. These things are true. We know it. What we forget is how permanent Death is.

I will never again text Graci to have a good day. There will no longer be crazy life conversations in her office. She will not read this blog post. Death is permanent. That is why it is so hard to deal with. Graci’s funeral was filled with family and friends. She lived out her faith. She made people feel loved everyday. The service helped us celebrate her life, but death is permanent. Death removes all possibilities. That is what hurts. The lost chance to live like today was our last day.

 

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Perfect Day

So, I had a weird thought…. A perfect day…

As many of you know, the above clip comes from the movie version of Tuesdays with Morrie. I used this movie / book in my psychology class and asked the students what their perfect day would be.  The students’ days may have been a little crazy, but like Morrie, they all involved family and friends.

But my crazy idea is why can’t every day be perfect?  Now, I’m not living in la-la-land, I do have a two-year-old in my house so we move from happy to tantrum faster then it took to type this sentence .  My life is still in a huge transition phase, and I know that this life can be hard…

But I have a crazy idea… I have family, I have friends, and I have this day. Perfect.

What will make this day perfect for you?

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