Day 173: Grand Opening

Today marks the end of a culmination of events.  We open my wife’s studio/workshop tonight in a Grand Opening.  Much of the last 6 weeks has been taken up with the hard work that has gone into it, particularly the last week.

I’ve actually missed two days of working out this week, making them the first time all year that I have failed in getting in at least some pushups/pullups/etc…  😦  I’m not real happy about that, but given the late nights and complete exhaustion I’ve had upon coming home, I have to accept it.

Today is the end of all of that.  I’ve already told her that I am “so ready for this to be over with”.  However, her hard work will pay off for her, and she has done a fantastic job.  I’ll post pictures tomorrow of the gala tonight.

In the meantime, in honor of her meticulous attention to detail, here are a few quick thoughts from Steve Jobs.

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

——-

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

——-

“Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Day 157: My Time With My Kids

couplebabybeach

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!

child1

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.

nice-parents-love-quotes-thoughts-care-great-best

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.

   parents-love-decal

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 66: Lessons From a Sick Mama

3:31 AM. 

(Why am I awake and staring at the ceiling?  He’s not crying, and neither of the girls are stirring.  So…why am I awake?) 

“HRUUGGGGHHHHH!” 

(Oh.  She’s puking.)

StomachBugDrawing

Sicky the stomach bug made a guest appearance at the house today, incapacitating my wife.  While no one else has gotten sick yet – knock on wood- an important lesson which we all learned as children was reiterated in a big way: Mammy matters.

I like to think I’m a good dad.  I change the diapers whenever there’s an opportunity.  I do most of the dishes.  I do most of the cooking.  I try to be home every day at a good hour and spend as much time with my kids and wife as possible.  I dote.  I spoil.  I discipline.

The fact still remains, however, that no matter what I do, I’m not Mommy.  I interact with my girls on a different level than she does.  Likewise with my son.  She (my wife) tells me about their cuddle sessions at night, in the rocking chair in the room, where the girls stroke her face and nuzzle and caress her hair before falling asleep.  In the same scenario, I get a hug, a kiss and a “I love you, Daddy” before they nuzzle into my chest and fall asleep.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I cherish those drool marks just below the armpit.  I’m just illustrating the difference in my relationship from my wife’s.  My son doesn’t cry whenever he hears my voice but can’t see me, as he does with his mom.  He smiles and comes crawling to me whenever I enter the room, and I was the first one he officially “reached” up for, asking to be picked up.

I interact with the progeny in a different way from their mother.  In some cases I discipline more harshly, and in same cases I sneak them the cookies under the table.  My kids get some of what they need and require from me, and my wife provides the complement.  We are a tandem machine, running a household and raising kids in a soul-enjoined partnership.

And when the better half of that partnership breaks down…let’s just say bad things happen around the house.  Dishwashers break, snow remains unshoveled, diapers disappear in one room, only to reappear in another…get the picture?  I swear that I left the room for 5 seconds to turn off a tea kettle and when I returned, my son had the remote in his nose, my eldest was doing the Harlem Shake and my middle child had flown up to the top of the entertainment center.  And I still don’t know where the cheese stick went!

Weird things happen when Mom is sick.

Weird things happen when Mom is sick.

I’ve learned, and am still learning, that I can’t go through this life alone.

  • I used to think I could do my job by myself.  Now I’m learning that by asking for help I am far more efficient.
  • I used to think I could raise my kids just fine if I was alone.  Now I’m learning that I can only fill half their actual needs.
  • I used to think I knew all the answers.  Now I’m learning that I barely even know the questions.

See where I’m going here?

As fiercely independent as I am, I have needs that I can’t meet on my own.  On the rugby pitch, I rely on my teammates to get me the ball when I need it.  At home, I entrust my wife with bills and bank ledgers.   I trust FedEx.  I trust my car mechanic.  I depend on the weatherman.  I need, they provide.

We all have needs to be met throughout life.  Recognizing those needs is paramount to overcoming obstacles placed in front of us.  Some of the needs are tangible: a delivery, an answer, etc…  Some are abstract: knowledge, encouragement, and so on.  If you came to me tomorrow with a need, I might be able to assist you.  I might not.  It depends on what your need may be, and what my skillset is in relation to you.  I’ve received a half-dozen emails regarding my Overcoming Discouragment post this past weekend.  It seems the right words were written at the right time.  I’m just trying to do my part in encouraging you to seize control of your life.  I’ve been encouraged, I just want to pay it forward.

bechamel

I’ve got a great bechamel sauce recipe, if you need it.

Today, my wife was sick.  Ergo my whole household was “sick”; it wasn’t functioning properly.  I need my wife.  She completes me, our house, and our family.  I want to be present and help anyone else who needs it.  If you need advice, a board to sound off on, encouragement, or tips on better bechamel sauce, I’m your guy.  Don’t hesitate to email, leave a comment, or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.  I respond.

Why?  Let’s put it this way.  The wife managed to get my car stuck in a snow covered driveway last week, and a good Samaritan driving by helped plow her out.  When we contacted him to properly thank him and give him something to show our appreciation, he simply replied that we pay it forward.

That’s why.  I just want to pay it forward.

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 65: Quote of the Day

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.”
-Dawna Markova

“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die Discover that I had not lived.”  
-Henry David Thoreau

Many thanks to Kelle Hampton at Enjoying the Small Things (www.kellehampton.com) for turning me on to these quotes today.

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 61: World’s Greatest Friend Maker

“Why read this book to find out how to win friends?  Why not study the technique of the greatest winner of friends the world has ever known?  Who is he?  You may meet him tomorrow coming down the street.  When you get within ten feet of him, he will begin to wag his tail.  If you stop to pat him, he will almost jump out of his skin and show you how much he likes you.  And you know that behind this show of affection on his part, there are no ulterior motives; he doesn’t want to sell you any real estate, and he doesn’t want to marry you.”
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

Man's Best Friend

How awesome is that?  I’m four chapters into this book, with many of the pages now bookmarked and highlighted, but nothing had impressed me as much as that paragraph which I read last night.  Think about it.  The person you most want to talk to is not the person who tells you about himself, it’s the one who asks you to tell him about yourself.  We thrive when we feel important.  We feel important when we think others care about us.  We think others care about us when they show interest in us. We love to talk about our own lives.

The most used word in the English language?  “I”.  That alone speaks volumes about our predisposition to talk about ourselves. We human beings are egotistic.  We are self-centered.  We are selfish people.  Sure, some of us have been able to overcome these tendencies and act in a giving manner, putting others’ needs first.  However, in our minds we instinctively react with concern for our own person first.  It’s human nature.

For the record, I am as guilty of this as the next person.

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While you can not change your instincts, you can change your output. Great leaders are not the ones who command others, they are the ones who motivate others.  Want to be a leader?  Stop talking about yourself.  Begin asking about them.  You gain more by caring less about yourself, and more about others.

Can you imagine how great it would feel if everyone you talk to tomorrow were wagging their figurative tail and wanted to dive deeply into conversation about you?  It would feel pretty darn good, right?  Kind of make you feel on top of the world.  Well, why not be that person to someone else?  Make it a point tomorrow to turn conversation about you into conversation about them.  Use “I” less.  Don’t chime in with a story of your own experience; ask more questions about them.  See where the chat goes and how good you feel about it.  I’m betting you’ll make that certain someone’s day and, in turn, the feeling will give you your own set of warm fuzzies.  People respond when they know they are cared about.

And really, who couldn’t use their own set of warm fuzzies?

“We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”
Publilius Syrus, Roman poet

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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