Sadly, my dad passed away this past weekend. He was 84 and lived a full life. Many times he commented to me that he couldn’t believe he lived this long. When he was a child, he told me, living to 65 seemed like a reasonable expectation. I am glad he beat his own expectations and gave us many more years to be with him. Dad came from a generation where you lived up to your responsibilities. He didn’t complain about it and believed that one of the most important things you could do was to teach your children was to become independent adults. He didn’t coddle us, but also did judge us too harshly. He was always there if needed.
I am always drawn to the romantic view of the first Thanksgiving. Not sure this is fully accurate, but the story informs, nonetheless. A group of people new to a foreign land begin to build a community completely out of nothing. They didn’t arrive well-versed in how to do this, but instead figured it out […]
A mother is a very special person in a child’s life and if you are lucky, a lingering positive presence throughout your adult life. Much of what we first learn comes from our mom. She is often the calm in the midst of the many storms we encounter. She is there for you no matter what. I am blessed that my mom had so much to offer. The following lessons are just a small sampling of her overall impact on my life:
I’ve always looked forward to Thanksgiving Day. It is one of my favorite holidays of the year. The combination of the food, the parade, football and most importantly family makes it a special day. It begins the countdown to Christmas and marks the start of celebrating the end of another year. I certainly have alot to be thankful for and feel blessed to be so fortunate.
Since 1944, “Ideals Christmas” has been a tradition in thousands of homes across the USA. The book contains traditional poems that explore the meaning of the holiday and recall special times with family and friends. I came across the following poem which resonated with me (Thanks Mabel!):
As my kids begin another school year school this morning, it is always interesting to watch how both the children and parents are transitioning. In some cases either the kids and/or parents will be a bit anxious or nervous, unsure of what is to come. In other cases, there is an almost a giddy excitement about the new challenges. Old friends will greet each other joyfully, while the new children and parents will be feeling their way on how to best fit in. Some children will walk to school alone, while others will have both parents with them and be accompanied all the way to their new classroom. Many of the teachers will carry themselves with an air of confidence and enthusiasm, while others will be a bit more reticent and laid back.
There are only a few days a years when we are all encouraged to step back and reflect on our life and its many blessings. I find this time of year to be especially important for this very reason. Of course it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism and challenging logistics of the holidays, but I encourage you to avoid this temptation.
I’ve always felt that vacations should mandatory. Everyone needs some time away from their work to recharge and reflect. There should be moments where it is just about having fun and enjoying life without the constraints of the work week. You never just want to narrowly define yourself by what you do for a living. We are all so much more than that.
Since Father’ Day is right around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to share some of what I have learned from my dad. Every boy’s first role model is his father. You believe him to be a man of Olympian strength, Einstein-like intellect and the quintessential self-reliant individual as portrayed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. There was nothing he couldn’t fix or problem he couldn’t solve. I remember watching many cowboy movies as a kid and always assuming my dad would have made the better protagonist.
As we get older we learn that our dad is human like everyone else and if you are smart you eventually relieve him of the pressures of sitting up on a pedestal. However, many of the lessons we learn from our parents end up lasting a lifetime. My dad taught me the following:
Time is limited. We all know this fact, yet how many of us manage our time poorly. Two of the biggest complaints I hear from people is that they are too busy or that there isn’t enough time. I can certainly empathize with this mindset and various times in my life have struggled with these challenges myself. However, I’ve learned that you manage your time or it manages you.
Another year has come full circle and I find myself celebrating my 46th birthday. Wow! Sometimes the passing of time is hard to believe. My dad once told me that “the days can be long but the years will grow shorter as you age.” As usual he is right. It seems like yesterday I was wide eyed kid playing with my friends and day dreaming about my future. While I never did become President or Secretary of State (there’s still time), soar through the universe as an astronaut, solve major crimes for Interpol, play either professional baseball or football, or lead troops as a great general, I’ve had a rich full life. Today is a day to count my many blessings:
As far as we know, there are no “do over’s” in life. We get one chance to live our journey and make things right. While death bed conversions and family reconciliations make good fodder forHollywood, they are rarer then you think. You can’t make up for lost time or misaligned priorities in one final conversation or the last few months of your life – the damage is already done. Personal grudges have an unfortunate way of becoming firmly cemented with time. There is no better time than the present to assess where you stand in terms of your family and personal life and make positive changes. As I’ve stated many times in other blogs, remorse and regret are useless and unnecessarily painful emotions.
I’ve always like the idea of new beginnings. My mom used to say that every person has 4 seasons to their lives and each one is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and use the wisdom gained up until that point to make better decisions. As I age, I understand more of what she meant. I also believe that within these seasons there are natural changes such as completing your schooling, getting married (maybe more than once), having kids, becoming a homeowner, embarking on a career, being at the peak of your career and having responsibility for other people, caring for aging parents, having your own kids move out and start their own lives, becoming a grandparent, retirement from work and navigating our “golden years” that just seem to happen and lead to new beginnings. I do respect the fact that not everyone opts for all these changes but for the most part they are common experiences shared by most of us.
I’ve always believed that children are a gift from God or whatever higher power you choose to believe in. They are here to teach us as much as we are here to guide them. Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror and seeing yourself being reflected back through their actions, attitudes, etc. In other cases, you gain entry into the wondrous world of their own individuality. My hope has always been that they will take the best from their mother and me and leave our flaws behind for us to grapple with on our own.
I’m just back from a family reunion and had a great time. It was nice to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in awhile especially members of my extended family who I don’t see all that often. It’s much more enjoyable to see people during times of fellowship and celebration than only when something sad has happened or to wait for a wedding. Unfortunately as we get older it seems to get harder to stay connected: people move away, careers get more demanding, kids keep us busy, and there is only so much free time.
Take stock of the people you are spending the most time with personally and professionally and make a conscious choice to maximize the time spent with the brightest, happiest and most capable people you know.
Maybe it’s my age and being more aware of things, but I am convinced there are more egocentric people today than when I was a younger. You meet people like this all the time. Whatever happens is always about them regardless of the situation and its consequences (for others). Sadly, they have been buoyed in their attitudes by a cottage industry of self-help gurus and marketers that continue to reinforce the worldview that everyone should be the center of their own universe and each individual’s primary concern should be their own happiness and self-satisfaction.
It’s Friday afternoon. The weather is beautiful. Mother’s Day is on Sunday. Life is good. My recommendation is keep it that way. If you are carrying around stress from work – leave it there. Monday will be here soon enough. In business you need to be able to turn it on and turn it off otherwise the pressure will seem never ending. And if you are not careful this becomes a way of life.
Time does march on. There is nothing we can do to stop it or slow it down. All we can do is learn to appreciate the moments. One way to do this is to create rituals and traditions that add a sense of expectation and predictability of joy in our lives.
I sincerely hope your homes are filled with love, friendship and joy this holiday season. And, in the midst of all the unnecessary consumerism that accompanies the holiday, I wish for you moments of clarity and peace around what’s truly important in your life. I also pray your hearts are filled with compassion and charity for those who are less fortunate.
Sometimes it’s hard to switch back into work mode once you’ve had several days off (especially this time of year). However, being successful means being able to turn it on and off as needed.