Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why I Love Sundays - Being a "Single" Father

For one day each week, everything is perfect.  I don't feel the failures when I'm at the park.  There's no resentment or regret when we're reading.  It's impossible to feel sadness and shame when we're singing, or sliding, or swinging.  Playing with trains and Lego blocks replaces any pain.  Everything wrong is replaced with everything that's right.

Never in a million years could I imagine myself becoming a "single" parent.  I use quotations when saying I'm a "single" parent because I really feel more like a parent who happens to be single.  My sons mother is responsible for the majority of the parenting that's taken place since crashing into the world of co-parenting.  And she's doing it perfectly.

In no way am I raising this beautiful baby boy singularly. Not even mostly, not equally, and not good enough.  If seven days a week wasn't enough time for me to be with my son before, how could a small fraction of that even come close?

But what do you do when you're torn between rebuilding your life, while trying to spend time with your only reason for caring?  How do you discover the type of person you will be moving forward while being the father he deserves today?

When the separation first took place I seriously contemplated whether or not I should even bother trying to continue being the father he deserved now that I wasn't going to be in his life 100%.  How could I face his mother, leave our home, not kiss my son goodnight every night, miss out on many of the things we were going to learn together, yet still be as committed as I was the day he was born??

How do you go from CEO to a part-time temp, with enthusiasm??

These are the thoughts that probably race through the minds of some "single" parents when deciding to part ways.  But, in truth, I soon realized that he needed me now, more than ever.

Though our home may be broken, I refuse to be the reason his heart is as well.  All kids need a father as much as they need a mother.  And, if for only a few hours a week right now, I will be the absolute best father this little boy could ever ask for.  For that one day a week I'm whole, and he's with his daddy.

He taught me that I'm not a single parent, I'm his father.  Something I am always, every second of every day, for the rest of his life.  I love Sunday's, I love being a father - his father - and I love, most of all, that weekly reminder that he too loves his father.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Move On to Move Up

Most people are more comfortable with old problems than new solutions.  This, I believe, is true in many areas of life; relationships, health, profession, finances, etc. etc.

It's not always comfortable to walk away from a situation that we've learned to tolerate and survive in, into a world where we could possibly, maybe even probably, thrive in.

I'm starting to understand and appreciate the value of a closed door more than ever before.  They say that when one door closes, another opens.  I only partially agree with that statement.  The door that opens for us only matters when we actually decide to move on from the closed door, and walk through the new one.  Life is full of doors, windows and walls that we can walk or break through whenever we muster up enough courage.  Regardless of where we are currently, at any time, and at any moment in life.

The time will never be perfect to move on and move up, yet it's almost always the right thing to do.

Seth Godin proclaims that "Winners quit fast, quit often and quit without guilt". 

The bigger mistake is not that we decided to move on, but that we didn't move on sooner.  Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but did we honestly believe that our boss/spouse/health would improve by continuing to do and act the same way that created the mess in the first place?? Rather than Moving On and Moving Up, we committed ourselves to an exercise in futility.

Just quit.  Quit sooner.  And move on. The people and things that are meant to be with us will always find a way to root themselves into our lives.  No matter what.  The people and things that are not meant to be with us will always find a way to fade away.  No matter what.  Just quit, sooner.

Don't bother investing more time into a dead end.  Redirect that energy into more meaningful things - your family, your health, your finances and new relationships.  And if what you're doing isn't working, do something new, something different.  Close that door swiftly and deliberately.  And move to the next one.  It just might be the exact door you've been looking for this whole time.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My Closest Stranger

It's amazing what happens when you mix love with life, or life with love.  It changes people.  Not necessarily for the worst, or the best.  It's just a change.  And the biggest problem with change....its never easy, and its never quite soon enough.

Reading through previous posts, it's amazing how someone who once occupied the largest space in my world, in such a short period of time, can become a stranger.  As corny as it sounds - I immediately hear Gotye's Sombody That I Used To Know streaming through my brain.

There comes a point where you go from being best friends to the most intimate of strangers. Imagine walking past someone on the street one day, and immediately knowing every single thing about them.  Their deepest desires, fears, insecurities. Remembering the moments when you two were the only two people that existed. Recalling, in an instant, every moment that changed your lives for the better.  And in the next instant, remembering the pain they caused that you pray one day will subside.

The same person that will forever hold a place in your life, and in your heart, you now walk right past, refusing to make eye contact with. And then they're gone. You turn a corner, they turn a corner, and you keep walking - running - from an encounter you hope doesn't happen again.  But that you know will.

I suppose its easier that way.  It's easier for us to carve that part of our lives out entirely and pretend that if it never was, it could never be again, it never happened to begin with, and therefore I can't feel it.  We start by flipping this switch inside, shutting off any positive feeling that drags a painful memory behind it.

I say, "Go ahead, flip that switch".....I know it wasn't all bad.  It doesn't change what I know.

When one says "I'm better without them", the other knows "I'm better because of them."
When one says "I deserved better", the other thinks "I wish my best was better."
When one says "I can't believe I stayed so long", the other one simply says "Not long enough".
When one says "I don't need them!", the other knows "I wouldn't have wanted to do it with anyone else."

Go ahead, flip that switch.

To viciously tear out a previous chapter in this novel of our life because it didn't end how we had hoped, seems....well.... foolish to me.  That chapter will just be a part of my life - full of drama, humor, happiness, sadness, disappointments, regret, pain and love.  A lot of love.

That chapter is over, and though it's not worth re-reading, it will always be a part of the story.  Again, it's over. But the rest of the story is just beginning....turn the page.

Friday, June 28, 2013

His Love Story

Once upon a time, there was a boy, and there was a girl.

By accident, or fate, depending on what you believe - their paths crossed.  Two people, with differences and different agendas.  Looking for the same thing, more sure of what they didn't want than what they did want.

Picture the quiet boy on the playground, who sees the popular girl and is not sure what to feel - only that what he feels is new, and something unlike anything he's felt before.

When she sees him, all she knows, in that moment, is that he is feeling what she herself is hoping to feel some day.  Not ready, or willing, to feel this way towards the boy, she simply entertains him.  Or maybe uses him to entertain herself.  She laughs at him, and occasionally with him.  Not one to believe in "the one", she only sees what she allows herself to see.  But as each day goes by she learns there's more to the boy, her eyes slowly opening more and more.

They weren't destined to be be together, nor was it love at first sight.  She was older, more experienced, and more playful.  He was younger, but cynical, and thoughtful.

Everything that worried her, would set him free.  And everything that tied him down, to her was a target.

His temper was short, and her feelings easily hurt.  She saw life through a microscope, and he saw life through a telescope.

Her life was structured.  His life was happenstance.  She saw the best in others.  He cared only about her.  She opened up, and he read her page for page.  A book that had always had his full attention, but that often changed from comedy, to drama, to romance, and back again.  He always liked suspenseful reads.

As days turned to weeks, turned to months, and years went by, they remained together.  Not with ease, but with effort.  When others would have given in, and friends had in fact done just that, they grew stronger.  They learned that together, they could use each others faults and shortcomings as rungs on a ladder to bring them closer to their goals.

His patience, her impatience.  Her responsibility, his vision.

But something was missing.  Something she needed, and something he was looking for.  It wasn't always easy to put their finger on it, that little extra ingredient that takes a relationship from good, to great.  Several times they had simply walked away, doubting that it was worth it.  And each time, he had come back.  Short stints with others, just not measuring up to what they hoped to ultimately have, some day, with each other.

One day, as the future of this boy, now man, hangs in the balances, he thinks about his life, all they've been through, and what lay on the horizon.  And he realizes what he must do, to ultimately make her happy.

It was the last thing he would ever dream of doing.  The one thing they say people aren't capable of doing.

He must leave.

Not her.  But himself.  The man he thought he was, for who she needed him to be.  He must change.  He must grow.  Like a muscle, he must stretch to the point of tearing, in order to be rebuilt, stronger than before.  And then do it again.  And do it until he only recognizes the shell of himself.  Because, in order for him to have something he's never had before, he understands he must become someone he has never been before.

And, like any muscle, it must be worked out regularly.  Today, its progress.  But, tomorrow, it could regress. Only he can decide.  His fuel is her love.  The love that wasn't suppose to be there.  The love that doesn't make sense on paper, but does in purpose.

He understands that his love story, is her story.  And what makes him a man, is knowing when he finds the woman worth reading, and doing everything he can, to finish the story together.

Friday, March 29, 2013

10 Ways To Fail in Love, Life & Business

A large misconception I'm trying to overcome is making it seem like I somehow have it all figured out.  The majority of what I write about comes from a place of guilt and lessons learned the hard way.  Not from an angle of superiority.

My BEST half told me a couple weeks ago that I should write about my failures.  Not what "other people" should do. 

Which is what I thought I was doing.  Sometimes though, saying the same thing in a different way can make all the difference.  So, here we go - 10 Ways to Fail in Love, Life & Business.....from personal experience.

1 - Stop Growing
   John Wooden once said, "Once you think you're through learning, you ARE through!"  I was successful.  I was good at what I did.  I made money, and had the title to go with it.  I was young, had all the superficial stuff that I thought mattered, and took my eye off of what really did.  Learning.  Learning what to do when times get challenging.  How to bounce back.  How to avoid the pitfalls.  How to plan for when I couldn't. No matter how high you get, or how good things seem to be, never, ever stop improving.  Become a life long learner.

2 - Turn Into a Human Trash Compactor
   Ready for the obvious?  What happens when you stop working out?  You get rounder.  What happens when you combine that with eating like a dumpster?  You get rounder, faster.  This is one of those "simple, but not easy" deals.  Work out, and watch what you eat, and you will feel better - in almost every way.

3 - Focus on Yourself
   The entire universe, with one VERY minor exception, is made up of OTHER people.  Focusing on myself was maybe the most destructive thing I've done.  Sure, at times you need to.  But, when you're already a selfish person by nature, and you compound that by ignoring others feelings, you become an impossible person.  People don't want to talk to you, be with you, and they no longer care about you - they simply feel sorry for you, and that's if you're lucky.

4 - Scrap Your Goals
   This world eats people up and shits them out without batting an eyelash.  The "world" doesn't care if you are sick, tired, sad, happy, nervous, afraid or whatever you feel like feeling like today.  It only cares about your value.  Bring value to the day, and your marketplace, and it will reward you.  The second I stopped focusing on my goals, was the second I started to fail.  I didn't know it at the time, because it wasn't instantaneous.  But if I'm not moving towards my objectives, I'm moving away from them.  There is no neutral.  The days I didn't make count are days I wasted, and can't get back.

5 - Forget The Dates That Matter
   Dates, anniversaries, birthdays, or any other day/time that is important.  Go ahead and just forget those.  Don't write them down.  Don't put them in your planner.  Run late, or just blow it off entirely.  This has been a HUGE downfall of mine.  I used to think that those kinds of events just didn't matter that much.  What I wasn't grasping was that it didn't matter because I made it not matter.  I could have made that date night, that birthday, that weekend mean the world to her.  But I didn't.  Because it didn't matter.  It wasn't that important.  I'm learning now that it can matter a whole hell of a lot, if I remember, care, and MAKE it matter.

6 - Live Reactively
   Sitting back, waiting for things to happen, and then deciding what I would do, say or think is a recipe for disaster.  In a relationship, and most things in life, you need to take the bull by the horns sometimes.  Be proactive.  When I did little in advance, and refused to take a "pay it forward" approach, opportunities were missed.  They say it's never too late to do the right thing.......sometimes it is.
7 - Refuse To Own It
   All of it.  Now, I'm not talking about the cars and the clothes and that kind of crap.  I'm talking about owning all of whatever comes your way.  The good.  And definitely the bad.  I wasn't failing, it was the economy, the marketing company, the sales reps, the demographics....blah, blah, blah.  Yet, when it was going well, guess who was taking all the credit??  Yours truly.  Only when I owned my failures and took total 100% responsibility for them did I turn a significantly important corner.

8 - Never Apologize
   There are a few words that I honestly regret not saying every single day.
  • I'm sorry
  • You were right
  • I was wrong
  • I love you
  • I appreciate you
  • Thank you
Along with the other things that we, as individuals, just love to hear.  Its amazing how my ego/pride/stubborness has prevented me from saying 2-3 words that could make a huge difference in someone elses day.  Whether you're a family member, friend, co-worker, etc. I screwed up when I kept my mouth shut during those now obvious moments.  For that, I'm sorry.

9 - Make Excuses
    Maybe this is an extension of refusing to take ownership.  Either way, it's worth exploring further.  There are excuses, and then there are reasons.  I chose to live a life with more excuses then reasons.  From the small things, like not doing more around the house because I was tired.  To the larger things, like justifying mistreatment of someone I care about because I was in a "bad mood".  We can justify and convince ourselves of whatever we want.  "I'm out of shape because I work too much."  "I don't have time for that because _______."  or "That's not my job".  Are all things I've allowed to leave my mouth and wish I could take back. 

If I could, I'd go back and remind myself that those are REASONS, not excuses.  Because I have a lot to do, I need to finish up more "honey-do's" around the house.  Or BECAUSE I work hard, I need to make sure that I'm in better shape. 

To be successful, truly successful, I needed to start to turn more of my excuses into reasons.

10 - How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything
   If I procrastinate in one area, I'll likely procrastinate in most areas.  If I'm disorganized at home, I'll likely be disorganized at work.  If I'm inconciderate to one person, I'll justrify being that way to others.  I needed to understand that the type of person I want to be is not part of my genetic make up, but a result of habit and practice, and a conscious effort to be that way. 

Happy people are happy because they choose to be happy.  Healthy people aren't born healthy - they get their healthy asses in the gym.  If you really think you can differentiate how you are in one area of your life, and seperate that from other areas, you might be making the same mistakes I've made for years. 

They say there are a handful of ways to be more successful, and a million ways to fail.  If it's true that the most successful people on Eart are the ones who've failed the most, the fastest - then I must be making some serious progress!  I hope you are as well, and are willing to share......

Friday, March 8, 2013

18 Ways to Be A Better Man

This is not an attempt at making it seem like I have life figured out.  Don't fear; I will not be getting overly emotional or challenge you to "dig deeper" while summoning my inner Paulo Coelho.  You don't need me to tell you to explore the deepest crevices of your spiritual being until you locate the child-like version of yourself so you two can cry together.......huh?  This isn't complicated.  There are simple ways to be a better man, and this will probably serve more as an admission of guilt than as a tutorial.....

#1 - Stop Acting So Tough
       Yea, I'm talking to you psycho guy in the red mustang that's driving like a maniac because the soccer mom in front of you is doing the speed limit.  Relax.  Refusing to cry, being unable to show emotions, or hating kittens doesn't make you a tough guy.  It makes you an asshole.

#2 - Wear A Suit Once In Awhile
      Whether you work on Wall Street, or you're a mechanic, nothing is better than putting on a well made, tailored suit. It's Saturday night, you're about to enjoy a night out with your better half and you're trying to decide between those dirty khaki's with that wrinkled button down, or your dirty khaki's with your Jets jersey......Knock it off.  You're a grown man.  Dress like one. You may think wearing a well-fitted, classy looking suit is not your style......but I bet you she would say differently.

#3 - Learn Something New
     The older I get the more I understand how it is that people get complacent.  Life is tough sometimes.  And sometimes old problems are more comfortable than new solutions.  Challenge yourself to learn something new.  Something you never thought you'd know how to do:  a sushi class, a foreign language, how to scuba dive, paint, an instrument, etc.  It's amazing how little we actually know.

#4 - Stop Competing With Everyone About Everything
     - Nobody cares that you're better than them at something.  Actually, it makes them feel bad about themselves.  Now, maybe that's your goal sometimes - to beat some body at something.  And I'm all for that.  But to beat your six year old into submission over a game of Connect Four is unnecessary.  You know that guy who always wants to one-up everyone?  Everyone hates him......Don't go through life competing with everyone about everything. 

#5 - Do More Than What You Get Paid For
     -  There's a saying that goes, "If you never do more than what you get paid for, you'll never get paid more for what you do."  It's cliche', but when was the last time you under-promised on something and over delivered?

#6 - Spend More Time With Your Family
     - I'm constantly trying to balance work-life and business with family time.  But the numbers are against me.  Eight to nine hours a day at work, sometimes more, and an hour or two per day with the baby during the week.  I know this is typical for most families that require a breadwinner or two.  But the average American now watches TV for six hours a day, works eight hours, and sleeps eight hours......I'm not a math wiz, but can someone explain to me a) how this is logistically possible if you have an eight month old  and b) when you even acknowledge your family or children???  During commercials??

#7 - Stop Staring At Every Girl That Walks By
     - Seriously.  It's creepy, borderline disrespectful, and the decent ones hate it.  Some of us use whistling, facial expressions and our car horns like its some sort of mating call.  Good luck with that.  Talking to you again dude in the red mustang, blasting Pit Bull, with your're a real catch, I'm sure.

#8 - Live Passionately
     - Life is so much more than football, cars, and women (I know, hard to believe).  Its ok to be passionate about those things, but expand your horizon.  Be interesting by being interested.

#9 - Be Ridiculous Sometimes
     -  Don't take yourself so seriously.  Nobody else does.  Especially if you have children.  One of the biggest things that I've learned since becoming a father is that it's totally ok to act like a damn fool.  He doesn't hold it against me, or think I'm being annoying (yet).  He just laughs hysterically.  Mission accomplished.

#10 - Don't Tattoo Your Face
      -  Really no need to elaborate.  But I'd like to add the following to that list; tramp stamps, neck tattoos, someones name, a tear drop, a Chinese symbol, Osama Bin Laden's face, or a tribal tattoo.  They're all stupid.  And you'll regret it.  Or you're in jail - which you'd probably would rather not be in.

#11 - Remember What Your Mom Taught You
      - Chivalry isn't just dead.  It was murdered, brought back to life, then poisoned before being stoned to death by clowns.  It's bad.  Real bad.  What happened to opening doors, saying please/thank you, or yes ma'am and yes sir??  You still shouldn't chew with your mouth open, bite your nails, dirty your clothes, and is it too much to ask you to slide a chair in for her??  It's amazing we get as many of them to agree to a second date, let alone marry us.  Wait...... the divorce rate is what???!!

#12 - Compliment People More Often
       - We all know someone who just lifts people up.  They aren't interested in themselves, and seem genuinely interested in what's going on in your world.  Not only are they interested in your mundane day-to-day activities, but they're impressed by it.  Again, GENUINELY.  I don't get it, but if you think that it's awesome that I ironed my shirt, or scored tickets to a Heat game, I'll take it!  And so will others. 

#13 - Get Your Finances and Health Under Control
       - There is nothing more debilitating than being unable to enjoy life because of a lack of money or poor health.  Poverty and illness aren't things that happen to you.  More often than not, they are things that happen because of you.  Pay now and play later, or play now and pay later......either way you have to pay.  Be proactive with both.  Nobody put a limit on what your net worth can be.  There is nobody preventing you from living healthier besides you.

#14 - Learn To Disconnect
       -  There's a commercial out now where a group of guys jump in their truck and head out for a weekend in the wilderness.  The further they drive off the beaten path the worse their cell phone signal gets.  Until, finally, their phone says "No Service".  At which point, they park, start unloading the truck and say "Finally!".  It's honestly been years since I was totally disconnected......and I miss it.  From one man to another, nobody cares about where you're checking in from, or that tweet you sent out about Dancing With The Stars.  40% of iPhone users say they'd rather give up brushing their teeth for a week then their phone.  Seriously?? 

#15 - Listen To Her
      -  I know.  It's hard.  She wants to talk about the new girl at her office that came in with a plaid skirt (OMG....So gross!), and you just walked through the door.  Now, maybe in this instance it's not going to bite you in the ass, but one day, it will.  We're men.  We like to act.  Not talk, or share feelings.  I get it, and I'm with you.  But she needs it.  And if you don't want to listen to her, trust me, someone else will.

#16 - Stop Walking Around With Your Bluetooth In Your Ear
       - You aren't talking to anyone.  You're just standing in line at Starbucks.  You're not even on the phone.  I don't walk around with my golf clubs because I might use them at some point.  Why are you walking around looking like a blinking idiot and you're just buying groceries??  Are you on a conference call that's of the utmost importance?? 

#17 - Know How To Catch, Clean and Cook the Fish
       -  This world is mostly divided up into two types of men.  Men who can cook and gut a fish but only know how to fry it in beer batter and cigarette butts.  And men who think fish are icky, but would love to prepare it with a bed of fresh spring greens and a raspberry vinaigrette.  Wow.  If you can do one, you can do the other.  Trust me.

#18 - Do The Right Thing, and Don't Complain
       -  I've always felt like an old soul in some ways.  I know older people feel like our generation has it so easy these days.....and they're right.  In the "good ol days" you worked hard, took care of your family, did the right thing, and never complained about it.  Today, we want to cut corners, bail on our responsibilities, do what's easy, and then bitch about it.  Any one can quit and complain, but it takes a real man to do the right thing, even when it's not easy, and not have a Facebook meltdown about it.

This will likely be an ever-evolving list.  What do you think makes a man a real man?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Not Getting What You Deserve

I've peed on the seat before.....honestly, I've missed the seat entirely a few times.

I've pretended that I didn't see the person rushing to make it onto the elevator, just so I didn't have to share a confined space with them. 

One time, a homeless guy was panhandling at an intersection while I was at a red light and I rolled down the window to give him a buck.  While he was limping over to the car, the light turned green, and I didn't feel like waiting......So I left him there without giving him the dollar.

Since becoming a father, I actually think an even larger percentage of babies are uglier than I did before.

I think fat people are funny.  Not just because they're fat, but in general.  They make me laugh.

I've blamed my cell phone provider for keeping me from having countless conversations with people I don't want to talk to.

I'm critical, sarcastic, impatient, and consider myself smarter and better looking then the majority of people I meet on a daily basis.  Unless you're an existing or potential client.  Then you're I consider you Ken Jennings and George Clooney's love child.

Everyone says, "Nobody is perfect".  That's me.  I'm not perfect, not even close.  I'm not a perfect father to our son.  I'm not a perfect employee to my company.  I'm not a perfect partner to my girlfriend.  Shit, sometimes I'm just downright bad at those things.

Yet, here I am in Norcross, GA (no offense, but why do you choose to live here?) on a work trip, thinking to myself about how lucky I am, in spite of myself.  I hear people bitch about not getting what they deserve, and if you really think about it, how many of us get EXACTLY what we deserve??  Probably very few, if any.  And if we did....we probably wouldn't want it.

In spite of my sarcasm, and urge to punch snow birds (elderly transplants, not an actual bird. - that would just be rude), I have a beautiful, hard working girlfriend that I don't always deserve.  A happy, healthy and perfect baby boy that I can't believe will call me daddy soon.  I have a job and all the opportunity in the world to better myself and my families quality of life. 

Instead of focusing on all we don't have, do what I do, try to be a little bit less of an asshole today, and stay grateful for all that you do have.  Cheers to not getting everything in life we actually deserve.