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10 Reflections on Turning 30

November 18, 2013 2 comments

Yours Truly at a Mustache Themed Birthday Party.

Yours Truly at a Mustache Themed Birthday Party.

Some thoughts on turning 30:

Well today is the big day… yep I’m officially 30. It’s odd how officially entering into a new decade of age makes you feel suddenly older, even though in reality I am just a day older than I was yesterday, because we each are continually traveling upon the path towards, “that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” (Shakespeare-Hamlet).

I’ve noticed over the past few years that time seems to be speeding up. When I was in my early 20’s making plans for a few years down the road, or pushing something off for another year, didn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, I have become more acutely aware of the math, where our son John who was born in July will be 18 when I’m 48, and that if we wait a few more years to have another child it would mean that I will be in my 50’s by the time he or she will be 18 and moved out of the house, or where even buying a new house on a 30 year note would mean that I’d be in my 60’s when I pay it off! (unless I make extra payments off course).

Turning 30 is also an odd feeling for me because in all likelihood I’m not 1/2 way to retirement (unless I win the lottery), but I’ve almost definitely lived over a 1/3 of my life. Also, while in the past few years I’ve been acutely aware of the need to live in the now and enjoy life since we never know when we may die tragically or unexpectedly from something like a heart-attack or a traffic accident, it is odd to run the math and know that even if I avoid unexpected endings and health issues, I’ve already consumed at least a 1/3 of my life’s gas tank.

However, I am lucky in that I’ve lived a pretty good life thus far, and I’ve checked a lot of my goals and to-do’s off: I have a wonderful family with a beautiful wife and two sons, and amazing friends. I’ve accomplished the goal going to law school and I’m now a practicing attorney, I’m a published author with a book, and over 30 print magazine and journal articles in addition to numerous web articles (not including this blog), which is astounding because I used loath writing in high school and college, much to the dismay of my mother who taught English for over 30 years. 🙂

So I have a lot of things to be thankful and grateful for, and here are my 10 reflections and tips on turning 30 (In no particular order).

1. Surround yourself with good friends- I can’t stress this enough. Surrounding yourself with good friends will help you stay positive when times get rough, and they will be there when it is time to celebrate the good times.

2. Find a creative outlet- I think this is essential for helping you channel your feelings and thoughts, which will help you to stay balanced, and work through various thoughts and emotions. As I said, I used to hate writing; however, when I stopped thinking of writing as a chore or an assignment for work or school, and started using it as a creative and expressive outlet, my perspective changed, and I couldn’t imagine hanging up my keyboard.

3. Believe in Yourself- Put yourself out there and stop being afraid of rejection. Many of the achievements that I’m the most proud of have began with more than a little self-doubt. However, I have always tried to accomplish whatever I’ve put my mind to, and the first step is believing that you actually CAN accomplish anything you put your mind to. Read more…

Letting Go of Perfectionism

November 8, 2013 5 comments

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net (c) Daniele Pellati

Used with Permission from PublicDomainPictures.net
(c) Daniele Pellati

Everybody strives to be perfect in one way or another. We strive to have the “perfect” friendships, family, job, hobbies, etc. We also strive for perfection in our actions.

As a society we encourage and even demand not only perfection, but also that individuals constantly “reach for the stars”, and have “go big or go home” attitudes. However, the problem with this type of mentality is that many of us end up constantly feeling as if we are failures because we haven’t reached the stars, or we didn’t “win” somehow.

At its core, perfectionism is rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy. While we may strive to appear perfect to the external world, what a perfectionist is really doing is putting a nice façade on inner wounds, insecurities, and feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth. This is why so many perfectionists have a hard time keeping friends, dealing with criticism, or even taking advice from other people without thinking that it is a personal affront.

The truth is that there is no such thing as “perfect”. If we constantly strive for perfection, we will just end up being a perfect mess.

Everybody makes mistakes and we all do things that we regret. I can’t tell you how many times I have came down too hard on my son, said something stupid or insensitive to my wife or a friend, lost my temper, or just flat-out failed at something… all in the past week. The key is to not dwell on the mistakes or imperfections of life. We should strive to learn from our mistakes or missteps, and try not to repeat them. Beating ourselves up over stumbles and missteps only contributes to feelings of being a “failure”, or somehow “not good enough”. Read more…

The Little Rituals of Life that Bond and Nourish

September 23, 2013 4 comments

Baby John's 1st Football Saturday!

Baby John’s 1st Football Saturday!

In the hustle and bustle of life, I have often found that the little rituals of life that I have setup not only help ground me, but also help to nourish various parts of my life, by maintaining important bonds with my friends and family. For example:

1) Every morning, when I get to the office, I always have my first cup of coffee in silence, before I even turn my computer on. This lets me relax, and focus on the tasks at hand, as well ground myself.

2) On days when I can, I always try to set aside 10 to 20 minutes during lunch for meditation or contemplation.

3) Every Tuesday or Thursday, my in-laws host a big family dinner. While this may seem horrible to many people, I am blessed to have great in-laws, and it is always a great time to catch-up and just spend time together.

4) Every Friday I try to have a big lunch with friends. This gives us a chance to catch-up, and stay connected. Some Friday’s we may have four people, and some Friday’s it may be standing room only, but no matter what it is a great time!

5) Every Saturday morning my son and I go to the doughnut shop together. While not the healthiest ritual, it gives us a chance for “guy time” as my four year old calls it. We talk about the previous week of school, and our big plans for the weekend.

6) I am extremely lucky that I married someone who likes college football almost as much as I do. So when football season comes around we will try to get all of our chores done by 11:00 am, so that we can watch the first kick-off, and generally we will stay up until the last game is over.

While these little rituals may seem trivial, they have become very important to my life, and they each serve a unique purpose. I often hear people say that they don’t have time to take care of themselves, to meditate, to spend time with friends, or to spend time with their families. I have found that I have to make time for myself, my friends, and my family. I have a very hectic work schedule, and with an almost two hour round-trip commute, I have to make a habit out of the little rituals that help fulfill and nourish the various areas of my life.

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” – Warren Buffett

As always, thanks for reading, and please share what little rituals you have carved out of your time for grounding, bonding, or nourishment.

Also, please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click the Book Cover to view on Amazon.com)

Parenting with Mindfulness

August 28, 2013 10 comments

My sweet boys

My sweet boys

A few weeks ago I was up all night with my newborn John. I had an extremely busy day planned, and no matter what i tried, he refused to go to sleep. As the hours ticked away, I could feel myself grow increasingly frustrated. I really wasn’t in the mood for this, I really didn’t have time for this, I really needed sleep so that I could go to work and be productive… Then it hit me. This will pass, and very quickly. Too quickly…

Obviously John wasn’t feeling well, and he was depending on me for comfort and care. While we were apparently getting our signals mixed, he still needed me, and I needed to let go of being frustrated. While I don’t relish sleepless nights with newborns, it seems like just yesterday I was on the alternating night shift routine with my wife, so that we could watch and take care of our oldest son Jase… and Jase started school two weeks ago.

I remember with Jase I couldn’t wait for his next stage of development. I couldn’t wait until he slept all night, I couldn’t wait until he ate solid food, could crawl, walk, be potty-trained, etc. Looking back, most of my anticipation seemed to be driven by more than a dash of selfishness. Once he slept all night, so could I. When he could crawl and then walk, I wouldn’t have to carry him everywhere. Eating solid foods meant I wouldn’t have to constantly prepare and clean bottles. Once potty-trained, I no longer had to check and change diapers every few hours. To say that children grow up too quickly may seem like a cliche, but just looking back over the past 4-1/2 years of Jase’s life, I can tell that it is true.

It is easy to practice mindfulness (the practice of being fully present in each moment), during slow times, meditation, or while conducting a relaxing activity; however, I think that mindfulness is especially important when interacting with our children, no matter how young or old. By being fully present in the moment, we are fully present in life. By being fully present as a parent, we are fully present in our children’s life, which is the most important thing we can do, because only then can we fully interact with our children the way that parents should. Parenting can be tiring and frustrating, but it really is the most important job we have, because our children are mirrors that reflect the lessons and general environment that we provide for them. Our parenting also has a definite impact on the type of adults that our children will grow to be. Will they be impatient, and quick to anger, or will the be kind and understanding? Read more…

We Create Our Reality


Used with permission from Publicdomainpictures.net

Today I ran across two particularly interesting quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh that really resonated with me.

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.

and

Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”

These two quotes really resonated with me because the theme of how the internal path is reflected into the external world, and vice versa, has been a recurring theme for me this week.

First, leading up to, during, and after the North Carolina constitutional amendment this week that bans same-sex marriage, there was a huge amount of vitriol being spewed forth by conservative talking heads regarding the issue. Just watching the conservative political pundits and politicians speak about the amendment and issues facing the LGBT community, I was really struck by the amount of true hate that many of these people had. Even those that cloaked their opposition to LGBT rights in politically correct niceties such as “I’m not anti-gay, I’m pro traditional values”, seemed to harboring a great deal of resentment to a group of people that in no way poses any actual harm or threat to anyone. Period. Even though these people were clothing themselves in the cloak of righteousness, they were (and are) suffering because of the anger and ill-will that their views create internally and externally, whether or not they want to admit it, or even realize it. These people are not only experiencing internal conflict and turmoil, but externally they are influencing and/or governing over a society that is also full of conflict and turmoil. The vitriol is now ramping up even higher, because President Obama (thanks largely to Vice-President Biden’s horrid Washington D.C. sin of a truthful tongue slip), has finally came out in support of the right for same-sex couples to get married.

Now then, admittedly I generally fall into the libertarian portion of the scale when it comes to social issues, because I feel that as long as you aren’t hurting me, or anyone else, I don’t really have the right to force you to live your life a certain way, nor do I have the right to force my version of morality on you. However, no matter what end of the political spectrum you fall into, it shouldn’t be that great of a stretch to realize that every human being is a person that has the same rights and emotional needs as anyone else, and they are entitled to those rights and the fulfillment of those needs no matter their race or gender, or their sexual, religious, or political preferences.

Read more…

Staying Positive When the Universe Tests You


  “Always look at what you have left.  Never look at what you have lost.” – Robert H. Schuller

Alright, I’ll just say it… today sucked. Bad. Last night I was up most of the night with a bad stomach bug, which involved nausea, stomach cramps, fever, and other “issues”. Even though I felt horrible, I was determined to push through and go into work today, because I am finally getting caught up. Well, the universe had other plans. On my way into work my car overheated, and it appears there will be a hefty repair bill in order.

Several hours at the dealership, and dealing with various technicians regarding what would, and what would not, be covered under warranty, made for a long and taxing morning/afternoon. Although, I had plenty of reasons to get bent out of shape and angry, I was determined to stay as upbeat as possible.

I am a huge believer in staying positive, even when the universe seems to test your moxie. After all, getting angry and upset at the stomach virus, or my car, would not improve my situation, I just needed to roll with the punches. While some events and situations from today might have stunk, it doesn’t mean that my attitude has to, nor does it mean that my life is bad. Instead of focusing on the negative, I focused on the many good things in my life, especially my wonderful family. Read more…

Chosen Family

April 15, 2012 3 comments

Chosen Family.

Please check out this great story that my wife posted on her blog (www.sweetnscrappy.com).

Since my wife and I both work, ever since our son was born we have had a young Mennonite girl watch our son during the day. Unfortunately Ms. Megan is leaving us for Iowa. She and her family have been a huge part of our lives, and we are extremely thankful for their love and the wonderful impact that they have made on our son. Luckily, Ms. Megan’s mother, Anita, has agreed to continue watching our son, but Ms. Megan will be missed very much!
It is amazing how people who were once strangers can become so intertwined in our lives, that they become family to us, and impact our lives in ways that we could never have expected.

Not to be too cliche, but when we have a village, our lives are all the richer!

Sweet-N-Scrappy: Chosen Family

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Also please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click on the book cover to view on Amazon.com)

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