Tag Archives: kids

Our Gift is for Others

The hardest part of our gifts – of our talents – is that they are not made for us; they are made for other people.

Let me explain…

Yes, there is a payoff for our gifts for us. Our talents enrich our lives, brings us joy. In some cases we even become rich and famous from our talents. There is a payoff for us. But we can live our whole life without expressing our talents. We can be happy. We can even be rich and famous without spending a day working on or sharing our talents.

I am a writer, a poet, a blogger. But I could spend my time not writing and be fine…

Here’s the catch.

My gift, your gifts, are meant for other people.

We have a responsibility to give our talents to the world. This is where I am going to dive deep; the why of it all.

I’ll continue to use my writing as an example, but you can swap in your gift for the rest of the blog. Ready?

A void. There is a void in our lives and in the world if we don’t share our gifts. Yes, the world will go on. Our lives, as mentioned before, will go on, but there is a void. We and others will miss moments of joy and inspiration that can change the world. I know, you think I am using a hyperbole here. I am not.

You may have seen the movie, Coach Carter, where the above clip originates from. Or have read the quote, “Our Deepest Fear” from Marianne Williamson. Part of our light is our talents. Our gifts are meant for others.

One of my favorite moments as a poet was the night I attended an open mic in Omaha where I was able to meet a young poet who was inspired by my first book of poetry that I self published in college (And I Never Told You: 20 Year Anniversary Edition). His mom bought him a copy of the book at a local coffee shop when he was in high school. He is now a regular performing artist in Omaha and Lincoln. It was only because of social media that I got to meet him and know the story.

My story highlights a hardship of our gifts… knowing what happens after we give our talent to the world. Even if we become rich and famous, we don’t know how our talent helped someone.

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. He knows his talent is appreciated by people because of the money he earns, by his popularity. But he has no idea how his books gave me an escape during some tough times. Stephen King doesn’t know the joy I’ve experienced sharing his stories with my kids. Taking them to see the new movie version of It. He doesn’t know… and that is OK because his gift was meant for me.

As a writer I know it is hard dealing with not knowing how my words affect the world. I am sure it is the same for you. I write something I think is awesome and nothing. No thumbs up, no like or love icon activated. No retweet. I have to be OK with that because my words are meant for other people. Writing brings me a sense of joy. It is awesome when a poem finds it way out of my head and onto the page. Then I must give that poem to the world for others to use. The same applies to you and your talents. If we learn how our gifts helped someone, inspired them, that’s cool, but usually we will never know. That’s not the reason for giving.

Do you see the void now? If you do nothing with your talents you miss out on a deeper joy in your life, but the world suffers more. When you share your talents you gift the world opportunities. Opportunities of inspiration. Opportunities of joy. Opportunities to change. Your talent is a gift… give it.

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay


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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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Throwback: Letters

Notebook with pen

As the new school year looms around the corner, I thought I would have a little fun by writing a small series on some of the differences between our times growing up. Aspects I feel my kids are missing in their lives that kind of defined my time in the 80’s. These posts will be published on Thursdays for the next couple of weeks. To start, I am going to discuss writing letters, with a slight lean to those awesome high school love letters…

Remember passing notes in class?

I always thought I was sneaky by scratching my neck and dropping the note down my back onto the desk behind me.

Or I would fold up the note and push it through the little vents of the locker of my best friend or girlfriend at that time.

Or the simple process of handing it to someone as we passed in the hall.

Today my kids just text, and most of that communication is emoji based, and that is the deeper aspect they are missing. Being able to express their emotions through writing. Now, I’m not declaring that my high school letters would make Ralph Emerson jealous, or that my best friend and I wrote about theories on how we could graph life on an X, Y, and Z axis… wait we actually did that… anyway… Writing letters was part of my everyday routine.

Social connections are an important part of the teen years. Writing letters helped build those connections before texting. It improved our connections (and writing) because the blank page called to us to fill it with meaningful things. A one line note was not worth writing or reading.  If the letter was for a girlfriend, it had to be romantic, if not kind of cheesy… (looking back now. At the time I thought I was suave).

Today, though, my kids just text a face with a heart or something. What does that even mean? Because of technology there is no separation between people, meaning they never spend time wondering if their girlfriends are thinking about them right at that moment. They will never be pleasantly surprised when they open their locker to see a note.  As an English teacher, they are not challenged to write, to consider word choice, to bridge their emotions to the written word.

Do I text my family and friends? Yes, but at times I still write a card or note. There is something magical about receiving (and writing) a letter. I miss those days…

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Today my kids taught me two lessons in patience.

Lesson one: People have to have their own timetable to accomplish a goal.

On her way

My girls and I took a walk today.  It was to our stop sign.  I can walk to it and back in under 5 minutes.  On our walk today it took thirty minutes.  I walked. The girls all took a different vehicle.  My youngest in our leg powered toy car.  Second daughter on the Dora big wheel.  And my oldest daughter on her training wheeled bike.  I kept trying to get the girls to turn around, but they were determined to get to the stop sign and back.

My youngest daughter’s little legs just kept going, with a few curb checks that I would help her off of.  The toy car has no steering.  My second daughter is just learning how to peddle; she would get a few revolutions of the wheel before she would ask for a little push.  Of course there were birds, and cars, and bugs, and new houses to talk about.  “They worken,” my youngest would point out as we sat in front of one of the new houses being built.

Yes, sandals on the wrong foot.

After the seventh time trying to get the girls to turn around I just settled in for the walk.  My oldest daughter actually adventured to the next stop sign, waving all the way back to us, proud as can be riding on her own.  I thought that the girls would tire out, and I would have to push them back, but their little legs never ran out of energy.  They were focused on the walk, unconcerned about how long it took.  They were going to do this and they did.

But I had to have patience to let them do it on their own.  I could have hurried them, pushed them, made them feel my impatience and ruin the 30 minutes we had together.

I didn’t start out so well with the lesson my boys had for me later in the day.

Lesson two: We can’t take for granted people will “just know” how to do something.

Later in the day the boys got to mow the lawn.  Both of them have mowed the lawn before but not for about two years.  First, I like to mow the lawn. So, mowing the lawn has not been a part of their normal chore routine.  Second, I don’t remember the first time I had to mow a lawn.

I went over the pointers of running the mower, and hit the grass around the house and outside edge of the lawn.  I though this would help them start on their route of mowing.  Sadly, I wasn’t patient right away.  The boys took turns, but both of them mowed the same way– crazily.

Rounded corners, lines of tall grass, mowing the short length of the yard 12 times instead of turning the mower and hitting the grass in two passes.  I bet I did the same thing once, but I can’t remember.  I’ve been mowing so long that it is just second nature to mow in an efficient way.  Before I totally lost my cool, I caught the lesson.  The boys didn’t know how to mow a lawn quickly and efficiently.  It was my job to show them.  Most importantly to do it without making them feel bad.  All the grass was cut, even if it took extra passes.  But by keeping my cool the boys finished the job on a positive note.  Even laughing at the rows of long grass they had made.

Today my kids reminded me about the importance of patience in two separate ways.  My girls showed me that people need their own pace to accomplish their goals.  I was truly amazed at their strength and attitude.  My boys reminded me that everyone has that first time with learning.  The important part for me was not making that crucial moment negative.  To be patient with them as they learn.

What cool lessons have you learned lately?

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