Day 196: Be Careful What You Say

I wish I could write this under more positive circumstances.  I really do.  But it’s not possible.  One of my wife’s oldest and closest friends from high school passed away two nights ago, and all signs point to suicide.  She had battled mild depression for several years, dating back to a snowmobile accident a few years back.  I didn’t know her, but from the stories I’ve heard, a good portion of her battle centered on her self-confidence and her appearance after the accident.  Including a battle with weight.

On Friday night, she attended a major league baseball game with her husband.  At the game, a fan seated behind her became drunk and belligerent, making fun of people and saying nasty things.  One of those things was a comment about my wife’s friend’s weight.

Needless to say, her friend couldn’t let go of the comment…the ugly rambling of a drunk cut to her core.  On Sunday, word spread quickly that she had failed to wake up in the morning.  While the official cause of death is currently pending as accidental overdose of sleeping pills, everyone who knows her has read between the lines and knows what really happens.

She left behind a husband and three daughters, all teenagers.

She left behind many, many caring friends.

She left behind tears.

She left behind a world in which a casual, throwaway comment from an inebriated tongue can cause life-ending pain.

She left behind a story that hurts to hear.

I didn’t personally know her.  I’ve seen her pictures in photo albums and on Facebook.  I’ve heard her friends talk about her and her beautiful daughters.  I’ve known firsthand that she was a source of strength to a young, impressionable girl entering the halls of high school: my wife.  And I’ve now come to know that she battled these demons for years.

I can not eulogize someone I didn’t know.  There will be many people who can do that this week.  I can not speak of how her family is coping.  Others will be there there in their sorrow.  I don’t know much of her story beside what I have been told.  But I do know this: the tongue is a wicked, wicked instrument and we wield it far too freely.

I wish to teach my children many things as they grow.  First, to know their faith and trust in Him.  Second, to love their family above everyone else.  Third, to always strive for achievement and excellence.  And fourth, to control their temper and tongues.  ]

Maximus said it well in the movie Gladiator when speaking of our actions here on Earth:

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”

I think you can take creative liberty, apply it to the quote, and come up with something equally as poignant:

“What we say in life echoes through our lifetime.”

Lord knows I’ve said things I regret.  Harsh words to an ex.  Ill phrases to my family.  Ugly statements to my friends.  Lies, half-truths, and the occasional aforementioned drunk spew.  I have no doubt I’ve caused sleepless nights, tear stained faces, and tortured conversations.  For these, I am deeply and truly sorry.

I have contemplated beginning an online crusade to find this woman who may have caused this young woman’s suicide.  With enough connections to the town where it happened, I’ve no doubt that someone, somewhere, could eventually connect me to her.  I don’t want to berate her, pseudo-lynch her, or anything of that nature.  I would just like to calmly let her know that her actions and words on a hot summer night at a baseball game, after consuming a few too many beers, left a husband without a wife and three young girls without a mother.  Despite all precautions this drunk may have taken, including having a designated driver, she nonetheless drove someone to death.

I don’t think I will pursue that crusade, however, because this isn’t my fight to fight.  I have a voice that can do more good by bringing her tragedy to your attention.  And if you remember anything from today, please remember this: A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4).

It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.
Matthew 15:11

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Day 179: An Hour of Your Time

A busy man came home from work one day. His some was at the door to greet him. His son immediately accosted his father with a question: “Daddy, how much do you make per hour?”

His father dismissed this laughingly, such were the questions of young children. But his son persisted, and asked again: “Daddy, how much are you paid per hour?”

Seeing this was going nowhere, the father, exacerbated, replied “If you must know, I make $50 per hour.”

The little boy paused, seemingly thinking very hard. He turned to his dad and asked, “Well then, can I borrow $22?”

The father pulled out his wallet and asked why such a little boy would need so much money. The little boy ran into his room, rummaging under his bed. He returns with a wad of crumpled bills, counting out $28. He took the money from his dad and folded it up, giving it right back this father.

“Daddy, I want to play catch. Can I buy an hour of your time?”

I’m guilty of this often enough that it makes me sad. There is nothing more precious to me than my children, and the thing they want most when I am around is to play with me.

Are you spending your time on the wrong things when the right way to spend your time is there in front of you? Do you miss friends, family, or fun for the wrong reasons? Make a change. Be different. Take the risks and opportunities life affords you.

You’ll never regret being present in the moment.

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.

Day 167: Starting to See Results

The last few weeks have been extremely busy around our house.  We are now T-minus 6 days from the grand opening of my wife’s shop, my son’s first birthday is this week, and summer rugby is kicking into gear.  Posts have been sporadic from me because of the time it has taken to get the shop into shape.  I’ve been putting in a lot of late nights there, painting, building, cutting, moving, etc… All the grunt work that goes into opening a place of your own has been my flavor of the month lately.

However, I have been trying very hard to keep up with the rest of my commitments, and this past weekend I saw some tangible evidence that my working out is paying off.  My Father’s Day gift from my wife was a day to myself, and I chose to drive to Rockford, IL for a rugby tournament.  This particular tournament is not a team tournament; all players enter their names into a hat, and teams are chosen at random.  A full day of rugby is played with your new teammates in a double elimination tournament.  Close to 150 ruggers were present this year.

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My team won the whole tournament, and I could tell a big difference in my fitness and strength on the field.  It would have been difficult to make a judgement on my progress in just one or two games but over the course of 6 matches, while playing in both my usual position and out of position, I could tell that my stamina is greatly increased and my confidence is up.  My tackles are stronger and I was able to break out of a few attempted tackles easier than I could have before.

I long ago resigned myself to the fact that it is very difficult for me to put on weight (muscle), especially without having much time to be able to dedicate to lifting heavy.  But even doing the pushups, ab work and stretching every day has been good.  At the beginning of the year, I was having to do 3-4 sets of 10-15 pushups to meet my goal of 50.  Now, I am able to do sets of 50 and I’ve upped my daily goal to 100.  I can see a difference when I look at myself in the mirror, but it’s never enough.  However, I’m ok with that, at this point.  My goal this year wasn’t to pack on weight, it was to get in better shape, and I am well on my way there.

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It’s important to not lose sight of your main objective.  As I said, my goal isn’t to get jacked and ripped, it’s to be in shape.  I would be down on myself right now had my desire been the muscle mass.  But I knew I couldn’t devote the time and energy necessary to achieve that, so I chose a different target.  If, somewhere along the way, I put that size on, then it’s a bonus bit of icing for me.

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I’ll be posting some pictures of some woodwork that I did for the shop.  I’m quite proud of how it turned out, and every project has gotten better.  The desk that I built is functional and helpful, but a little ugly.  I’ve learned from those mistakes, however, and the new projects look great!

Other news?  It’s summer.  Fully, hotly, humidly summer.  I’m considering breaking out the A/C tonight to help us sleep.

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 157: My Time With My Kids

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Last week, I had the privilege of caring for my kids entirely on my own for a week.

OK, in all honesty, I can’t call the entire time a privilege.  I’m being perfectly frank when I say that it was seriously hard work, and there were times where I banged my head against a wall.  I am used to waking early, hitting the road to try to drum up sales, interacting with adults of all personalities and moods, and being go-go-go in general.

This was nothing like that.  There were exactly two conversations that even bordered on adult-like, and one of them was about bike parts.  While there was no true downtime, there were many moments where I found my foot tapping and my patience wearing thin as nothing got done that was supposed to be done.  Diapers, pullups and accidents were my fear, food was the bane of my existence, and sleep was a chore in-and-of itself.

At least the interaction with mood variances and waking early didn’t change!

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I wish I could provide a timeline of what transpired last week, but every day has bled into one.  I don’t know which days I went to Target (it may have been all of them), nor which nights we had grilled cheese.  I can’t tell you who wore what on which day.  I don’t even know what I wore, or when I worked out.  It’s like one giant daddy-kiddo fest in my head.  There were a few highlights and memories that stand out, which I wouldn’t trade the world for:

  • Getting my oldest daughter her first bike, and seeing the sheer joy on her face as we put it together and readied it to ride.
  • Teaching my younger daughter that she can ride the tricycle all by herself.  No one needs to push her.  The look on her face when she realized she could provide her own locomotion was ecstasy.
  • Watching my son light up with happiness when I walked into his room in the morning.  If you have kids, you know the look:  “OH MY GOSH! IT’S YOU!  I DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE YOU!  THIS IS THE GREATEST THING…EVER!”
  • Stirring eggs with my girls as we made scrambled eggs.
  • Playing tag on the big fort at the park.
  • Hugs and kisses every night.

Seeing a pattern here?  Every one of those is what parenthood is about.  Those are what make the diapers and fighting and worry and crying all worth the effort.  I’ve known that, but I just reaffirmed it this past week.  Chances are, I will forget it again and be reminded again and forget again and be reminded again until the day comes that I realize they’re not coming back home.  Then I will likely sit down and try to remember those moments, both good and bad.  I hope I can.

I know I have it easy.  My kids are all healthy, I have a loving wife who can stay home with them, and I have “steady” employment.  There are a lot of people out there who don’t have all of those.  I realize how blessed I am.  I try very hard not to take that for granted.  I don’t always succeed, but I do always try.

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Sometimes, it takes the negative to accentuate the positive.  My week last week was the negative.  Negative not in the sense of “bad”, but in definition as the opposite of the usual.  I got a good sense of what my wife goes through on a daily basis when I’m gone at work.  I understand how hard my mother had it in caring for three kids when my dad was on business trips.  I have a great appreciation for working single mothers who have to line up everything ahead of time.  Most importantly, I have a deeper love for my time with my kids.

They are my blessing.  I can survive without my phone.  I can survive without being able to post to my blog or check facebook.  I can survive without a set workout schedule.  I can not survive without their love.  There is something about the unfettered, unbounded, unsullied love that a child has for his/her parent that is infectious.  I’ve always carried it, but it took the week alone with them for the symptoms to reemerge.

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As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 154: Quote of the Day

It has been a crazy seven days.  First, I was alone with all three kids (reminder: they’re ages 3, 2 and not-yet 1).  Next, on Thursday, my associate took off for Colorado to cheer on the Wisconsin Rugby Club in their quest for a national championship (congrats WRC on the achievement – DII Champs!).  Finally, on Thursday my phone decided to take a long walk off of some proverbial short pier and ceased to function.  I have insurance on it, but my particular model phone is $199 even with said insurance…outside of our budget.  Ergo, I have the world’s dumbest phone now in my pocket.  For someone who lives on the road, this is a severe hindurance to my workflow.

However, God is good, as my wife returned safely and my children survived the week with me uninjured if not unscathed.

With that in mind, I wanted to leave you with a few quotes I saved up during my Single Dad Experiment, which I will go in-depth with shortly.

“What it’s like to be a parent: It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.”
-Nicholas Sparks  What-a-child-doesnt-receive1

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.”
-Lisa Wingate

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“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.”
-Bill Cosby

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