Tag Archives: time

Blueberry Muffins and a Number One Song

For a while now, we have been listening to the top 40 countdown on the 80s channel on XM radio while making blueberry muffins. We get to hear the top 10 songs, with breakfast usually ready while the number one song for the week plays. This week in 1986 was “Holding Back the Years” by Simply Red.

This morning, the kitchen was full. My second son had returned from a trip with his friends, and my oldest son’s girlfriend was visiting. Everyone was filling their plates: scrambled eggs, blueberry muffins, glasses of milk, and bacon. It was a typical Sunday morning.

Earlier in the countdown was the song, “Like a Rock” by Bob Seger (I don’t remember what position on the chart it was). There is a verse in the song about how 20 years have flown by: 

Twenty years now

Where’d they go?

Twenty years

I don’t know

I sit and I wonder sometimes

Where they’ve gone

Mixed with the sad vibe of “Holding Back the Years” I thought about how bittersweet our Sunday routine is.

In one way, our blueberry muffin breakfast holds back the years because it brings us together as a family. Every tradition a family participates in is a way to stop time. It strengthens the bond of love and joy that creates a timeless bubble for everyone to live in, no matter how much time has passed or how much someone has grown. 

Because time does pass, we do grow older, we do change. Sitting at the table, it was bittersweet to know that in a few months both of my sons would be out in the world. My youngest daughter doesn’t need my help taking the paper cup off of her muffin anymore. My children were growing, time was moving forward. 

There was nothing I could do about it, but yet this morning, we were together, family. That will never change. Contrary to the lyrics of “Holding Back the Years”, our tradition of blueberry muffins is a chance for something good to happen, for love to happen.

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A Sonic Mint and Holden Caulfield

I sometimes consider taking a picture to catalog all the weird things I see on my walks. I’ve found money, seen lost toys, socks, gloves, you name it. Each item gets me wondering about how it found its way to that place on the street. This morning I found a Sonic mint.

I wondered what the story was of the mint. I imagined a car load of teens making a late night food run, not unlike my son and his friends. Easter break started on Thursday. My son and his friends made a McDonald’s and DQ run that night. How do I know? Because the family room where they hangout was littered with McNugget boxes, McDonald’s bags, and DQ cups with red spoons in them. Normal teenage behavior. 

I continued down the street thinking about the Sonic mint. Did they search the bag inside the house wondering where the mint went? I smiled at that thought. I started to think about how crazy life is. Whoever lost the mint had no idea that I discovered it. That I would write a blog post about that mint. 

Then Holden Caulfield came to mind. And I stopped for a minute because my eyes started to tear up.

I had one of those deep moments of understanding brought on when your life experiences connect to a book, or song, or other media. I understood why Holden didn’t want time to move on. Why he didn’t want to grow up. But standing in the middle of a street a few yards away from a Sonic mint I felt the weight of change Salinger was writing about in The Catcher in the Rye

Especially over the last year, I have walked the streets of my neighborhood a lot. During the lockdown last spring, I would walk a few times a day. Sometimes with my kids, sometimes alone. It felt like the world had stopped… but life didn’t. Each day I was different. Today, I felt it. I understood how heavy life’s change is. Simultaneously, I felt joy and sadness. 

Joy because life is an adventure. Each day brings opportunities to grow, to discover new things, to learn, to laugh, and to love. Yes, there are negative things that happen each day, but we can learn from them, too.

The wave of sadness was the strongest, though, standing there. Rationally we all know that time doesn’t stop. My second son will graduate in May. My youngest daughter is seven. I will turn 50 this year!. We all know the truth about time, but what hit me was the reality of all the good things that have ended. This morning there were only 5 Easter baskets, instead of 6. I will never watch my son wear number 15 in a varsity game. I will never be 18 again. I felt all those endings this morning.

I’m not sharing this to paint a picture that life is sad, on the contrary, those endings mean there were beginnings, middles, and stories to tell. But Holden was right. Every day we are different in some small way, even if you see a rainbow, it is sad knowing that rainbows have an end, too.

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Reflections Jan 27, 2021

The girls are settling down. The house is becoming quiet. My headphones are playing some of my favorite songs as I build a writing playlist on Spotify. Earlier I wrote a poem for my personal challenge to write a poem in 100 different forms. It was poem 81, a haibun titled, “A Father’s Gift.

But the writing muse is still burning. I am not sure where this post will end up, but it should be good (it will be musical).

I am tired. I am tired on so many levels, from the perpetual cycle of hate expressed in our culture, to the perceived apathy of living from people around me. I could link to any number of news articles to reveal how much pure negativity there is in this world, but I am tired of viewing those stories. If I took a random picture anytime during the day, it would show people staring at their phones. As if the height of living is text messages and photos saturated with filters.

In some ways, life is pretty simple. It is who we are and what we do with our time. A simple concept, yet filled with possibilities. Maybe it is because I am just months away from my 50th birthday, but time is a constant force in my thinking. I swear I can hear the grains of sand when all is quiet. I still have goals and aspirations I want to accomplish… the time to complete those is running out.

Again, maybe it is because I’ve been living for 50 years but I know that love works. I do believe that we have the choice on who we are. We are in control of how we treat people. What I don’t understand is how we keep thinking hate and pain make this world a better place. What saddens me the most is how deep this has gone. How many kids aren’t loved by their parents. How mean we can be to someone sitting next to us. How easy it is to tweet venom.

I have faith, though. Love is more powerful. Love is strength. I know I can’t change the world, but I can build my world, my home, my life with the foundation of Love. That is a start.

And then there is the pursuit of dreams… if I could figure this part out… Would I like to make a living from writing? Yes, I would. Will I? I don’t know. Money is not the main goal of my writing aspiration, respect or recognition is. To know that when someone says my name, they consider me a writer, a poet. I understand that most of that falls on my shoulders. How I present myself to the world. I know I am a good poet. My words do make an impact for readers. Yet, I feel like the world views me as someone who has a nice hobby. And I don’t know how to change that…

A final note as I wrap up this informal and somewhat musical blog. Even in these troubling times, this life is wonderful. There is pain, troubles for us to overcome. That is what makes the next day better than today. Tell your friends and family that you love them. Have a good cup of coffee and turn up that jam and dance.

Because when it is all said and done, today is the only day you have. It’s worth living for.

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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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Dreams for Tomorrow

I was doing some digital cleaning of my Google Drive when I came across a document filled with the beginning ideas for a new school and consulting business that my friend Jason and I were working on. This document is still shared with him. The last edit was June of 2014.

My friend is now working in another state. I have changed jobs three times. What happened? Life happened… and is it a bad thing that we didn’t pursue the dream of starting a consulting business or creating a new school? I don’t know.

Looking over the pages, the ideas are still strong. If I chose to follow that dream again, the ideas on the document would be the place to start. We were at the point to where all we had to do was say, “Go!”

But we didn’t.

There are a few lessons to take from this moment.

One: Achieving, or at least working toward a dream has that moment. The “Go!” moment; where you move from the ideas running around in your head, or even on paper, to executing that plan. That can be a scary moment. Because once you say, “Go!” failure is an option. So is success. The “Go!” moment makes it real. You have to be ready to handle the consequences of pursuing a dream.

Two: Dreams do not always have a time table. If I wanted to, I could start working on this goal today. I still believe in our ideas. I still believe in the vision of the school. But right now, I have other goals I am working on. There are dreams I want to achieve now. That is what I will work on today… but tomorrow? Who knows?

Three: We only have so much time and energy. This is the area that most affected the dream of starting a school. I was in my first year at a new job, my sixth child was on the way, and other life events were happening for both of us. Achieving any goal takes time and energy. Life is not a single event. When pursuing a goal, we have to understand this concept. I don’t remember where I read or heard this, but I agree with the idea that we only have enough time and energy for five things in our life. That includes relationships. The top five things in our life get our time and energy. Those five aspects can change. They are fluid, but it is an important idea to consider how you allocate yourself.

I’m not done cleaning out my Google Drive, but I moved the document about a new school in a folder I labeled, “Dreams for Tomorrow.”

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From point A to point B

We are always traveling from point A to point B.

We were born: point A.

We will die: point B.

This is the most important vector we travel. A vector is defined as a quantity that has magnitude and direction. Usually represented with an arrow. Our life is an arrow from point A to point B. It happens one day at a time. Many of us do not know where or when we will arrive at point B.  But I will come back around to this.

Our life is filled with other vectors, other paths from point A to point B. Some of them are defined clearly, like graduating high school or college. Other paths have a point B that is difficult to know. Every relationship we are involved in has an unknown point B. Many times our goals or dreams have an uncertain point B. These vectors are intertwined into our daily life. Time is a constant for us… in a sense, the direction.

But a vector also reveals the magnitude of the movement. The power or effort we use to travel toward point B. Or my favorite definition of magnitude from astronomy; the brightness of a celestial body seen by the naked eye.

Our life is a vector. We were born (point A) and we will die (point B). Time is constant for all of us along this path. True, many of us do not know when we will reach point B, but we are in control of the magnitude of our path.  We are in control of how much effort we put into a goal, into a relationship.

We are in control of how bright we live.

 

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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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E is for

The E in L.I.F.E is for every day.

Some stats:

You will laugh about 17 times today (“Daily occurrence of laughter”).

Your heart will pump about 7200 liters of blood today.

You will listen to 4 and a half hours of music today (“Time With Tunes”).

You will spend 10 hours consuming media (“Americans devote more than 10 hours a day to screen time, and growing”).

You will spend 1440 minutes today of your life.

What did you spend those minutes on? Your goals? Yelling at someone on the drive home? Letting someone know you loved them? Adding shows to your “My List” on Netflix?

Our lives have big moments, some of them positive, others are heartbreaking. But most of our life is how we spend the 1440 minutes we are given each day, and that is important to understand for a few reasons.

The first reason is because we all have a last day. No matter what you believe regarding the afterlife, we all get one life. One path to walk. Each day is an opportunity to show love. To work towards a goal. To strengthening relationships. Or not.

Maybe because I am a few years away from 50, but time has become more valuable to me. Each day is an opportunity to spend time doing wonderful things. Or we can do mundane or negative things. Yes, it is our choice on how we spend our time.

The second reason to understand how we live every day is the connection to the moments in our lives that are drastic. How we live everyday creates a foundation that helps us when the big moments happen in our lives. It doesn’t matter if it is a negative or positive moment, we will respond to those moments based on the way we live every day. We will respond with love or negativity. The foundation we have every day will not ease any pain we may feel, or make the joy from a moment last longer. Our everyday foundation helps us deal with the moment. It directs our next step.

Today is our life. How we live today builds our life. We will have our hearts broken. We will achieve goals. We will laugh. We will cry. Life is what we do now. What we do with the 1440 minutes. We don’t have a great life looking back on our last day… we have a great life today.

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

Books

The Big Sea by Langston Hughes is part of his story as a young poet. His story highlights how we live influences our goals and talents.

Every Day I Fight by Stuart Scott reveals why every day matters.

Movies

Dead Poet Society is a complex movie about the tension between traditions and personal freedom.

The Truman Show is a movie about the beauty of everyday life.

Songs

Live Like We’re Dying” by Kris Allen is a good reminder to spend your time on the important stuff.

Five More Minutes” by Scotty McCreery highlights how everyday moments make for a great life.

LIFE is for… (concluding post next).

 

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Acronym of LIFE Series

I was thinking about life the other day while I waited for my daughters to finish their first day of practice for Cinderella Jr. So many little ideas bounced inside my head. I will be turning 50 in a few years. It is nice to have summer break again (been four years). The story lines of the Star Trek movies my wife and I have been watching (one through five at the time). This floor is hard. The idea of time presented in the movie, Arrival. Amazement at making it to this moment in my life. The new band Haevn I discovered.

Ideas like that, then something clicked in my head. Life became an acronym. Each letter represents an aspect of how to live a great life. I ran with the idea, jotted down some notes, and decided to write a blog series on this idea. After this introductory post, I will dedicate a post for each letter.

My goal of the blog series is:

  1. To be inspirational for you, the reader
  2. To satisfy my joy of dealing with deep ideas
  3. To satisfy my drive for writing

So join me over the next two weeks as I discuss the acronym of LIFE. I will share my ideas, share some book or media recommendations, and hopefully give you, even if it is just one idea, something that will help you live an awesome life.

L is for… (will have to wait till the next post)

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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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