Tag Archives: joy

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I am not Special

There are over 9 million men in my age group in America.

I, and about 75 million other people, have high blood pressure.

There are about 33,812 members of the Poetry and Poetry Editors group on Linkedin that I belong to.

There are 72,000 views of  “Crockett’s Theme” on YouTube. I account for a few of those views.

More than 5 percent of the whole world has hazel eyes.

I am not special.

There are about 3,290,000 households in America as big as mine.

Sting and Mahatma Gandhi share my birthday.

I won’t even get into how many people wear Nike shoes. Or are fans of the Vikings. In fact, all of us are more connected than we realize.

But that is for another post, this is about how unspecial I am. And that is OK because I am unique. There is a difference.

My life, just like yours, is mine to live. This post is mine to write. My kids, my family, my friends are woven into my experience. They are part of my unique opportunity at this life. Even the smallest moment, like you reading this, is a unique thread in both of our lives.

If we change our perspective a little; move from thinking we are special to understanding that our life is unique to us, even if many of the components are seen in other people’s experiences, we can embrace the joy and power of living an incredible life.

 

This is your day.

No one can live it like you can.

So, the question is; what are you going to do today?

 

 

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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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Welcome to #dadlife

Just a warning, I may be writing this blog for me (life is stressful at the moment)… but I think you might like it.

Welcome to #dadlife.

Welcome to time being a single piece of pie left and 14 people wanting it.

Welcome to money being a battlefield. Bills are tanks that slowly advance but hit you from far away with loud shells that leave holes in your landscape. Making it difficult to outrun the tanks; see they run on continuous tracks.

#dadlife has no filters to make things look better. It is filled with vomit, bags under your eyes, dirty dishes and loads of soiled laundry… so many loads of laundry. #dadlife is filled with frowns, a fading body, and carpet worn thin from the family routine.

Welcome to feeling like your dreams are expired spices in the cupboard. Always in sight, thought of when cooking, but no one likes their scrambled eggs with seasoning. So your dreams sit in the back, stale and out of date.

#dadlife is being last in line at the zoo. Making sure everyone sees the tigers while you answer the questions and making sure that a little one doesn’t wander off. You get the last drops of water and few chips left in the bag.

Welcome to finding strength you didn’t know you had. #dadlife builds your heart and mind, it is crossfit training for every aspect of your life. Every day is a rep for life, building strength to handle your children’s heartaches, while striving to build a home. #dadlife teaches you how to move in 12 different ways. You become limber and agile, being capable of handling different situations at the same time.

#dadlife breaks your heart with joy and then heals it with love as you watch your children shine, on a stage, with a colored pencil, or on the court. Your heart cracks as they express their talents, fulfilling their dreams. The cracks are then healed when they catch your eye with a smile that says thank you.

Welcome to #dadlife. It is like trying to find a treasure with a faded map. You can just make out the directions, but many times you forge your own way. Finding unique coins along the unexplored paths. After awhile you can read the next landmark, make a slight adjustment to stay on track. But soon find that the map is hard to read again. So, you decide which path to take on your own. Finding small treasures along the way.

#dadlife is just a hashtag, but through all the hurdles of this dad’s life, I am happy to share both the sorrow and joy of a life lived.

 

 

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Our Story Part II

It is late Sunday evening, and I don’t know when you might read this, but let me share a few highlights of the week. The following moments are parts of other people’s stories and mine.

My oldest son is in Baltimore for National FBLA competing in Public Speaking.

A coworker headed home for a family wedding as her marriage is in the process of ending.

My other son spent time in Indiana on a basketball trip with his high school team. They visited the Milan 1954 Hoosiers MuseumHoosiers gym, Butler University, and played a basketball game against a school also named Adams Central.

I spent a morning working in my new classroom (more on that later).

I attended the funeral for the son of a colleague.

Two of my daughters were in their first play, 101 Dalmatians Jr.

An instructor shared that her daughter moved into her home with her four kids because the daughter’s marriage was ending.

I finished an excellent graphic novel, I am Alfonso Jones. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

Finished making the third movie of the trapped trilogy.

We attended a wedding for my niece. They dated for over four years.

Our Story

This past week was filled with stories: heartbreak, new beginnings, happiness, and history. It is incredible to think about all the stories being written right at this moment. Some filled with joy, while others are experiencing pain and heartache. Someone right now is trying to fight off doubt and fear, while at the same time a couple is welcoming a new child into the world.

A great story is not without pain or without love. I don’t know what words you are writing right now for your story. But I do know that your story is important, that the words are yours and they need to be written by you. There will always be plot twists that surprise us, but remember, you get to write the next scene… write from your heart.

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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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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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My Holiday Wish

wish

With only a few days until Christmas and a week before New Years, my thoughts fluctuate between what I could have done better last year and what I want the next year to be like. In a time where it seems our society is divided, where hate is easy to express, I wish you strength of spirit. I hope your life shines with joy even in the face of hardships.

I look forward to sharing this next year with you, to making it the best year yet.

 

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Strength of Joy

I’ve been working through a deep life concept, but I will get to that in a minute. Let me share some anecdotes that connect to the idea first.

IMG_5667First my youngest daughter. She is a year and a half. She is at that stage where life is simply awesome. She is learning to use the stairs, learning to talk, learning to blow kisses. She will stop eating to stand in her seat and dance. Her brothers are teaching her how to fist bump. Life is filled with everyday joy for her. At graduation this weekend a mother of one of the seniors reinforced that idea when she stopped me to say how wonderful it was to watch my daughter dance during the graduation. There is a moment in the ceremony when the seniors give roses to their parents. This year the song was “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. The mother then said, “She could all teach us what it means to be joyful.”

As many of you know I am at a major crossroads in my life. And things are not going well regarding what next year will bring for me. I let that stress get to me a couple of days ago when I lost my cool in front of my kids. I can’t even remember why now. But as I read stories to my middle girls and asked them what their favorite things were from the day, I was brought back to the concept I had been thinking of…

JoyStrength

I’m not talking about feeling happiness. I’m talking about a deep appreciation of the blessings we have in our lives.

Happiness is eating brownies. Joy is making the brownies for someone else and enjoying their smiles as they eat. (Of course we have a brownie, too. We can feel joy and be happy at the same time.)

Negative feelings can over shadow our lives. It takes strength to combat feelings of fear, doubt, and disappointment. That strength comes from Joy. It takes courage to see the beauty of our lives, a child’s smile or the stars shining, when we feel like our world is falling apart. The catch is that when we pay attention to those things that bring us joy that leads us to feel the strength to battle through the tough times. It is a cycle, a positive cycle that builds us up.

Joy doesn’t remove a bad situation. It gives us the strength to get through it with a loving and confident heart. To stand up and dance even if it is dinnertime.

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