Friday, February 28, 2014

Future Days

My morning drive into work is normally filled with talk radio, sports or comedy. I enjoy the chatter, and laugh a few times and get my sports news. I have not been into my music in a while, probably because I have not played any guitar in a long time. Pretty much no guitar since the kids. This week I have been getting into my playlists and mixing them up to get a fresh groove moving. The change worked wonders. On SiriusXM I found a great Zeppelin live track, a new (old) song by someone I have never heard of, the Lee Michaels version of Stormy Monday. Wow, I am not a keyboard/organ guy, but this song rocked. Then I listened to some of the New Pearl Jam album Lightning Bolt. Skipping through to some of my high energy favorites I landed on the albums finale Future Days. Full disclosure, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I have listened to this song many times, but today it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Here is the picture, adult male, driving alone, getting all choked up driving in to the office. I'm sure it would look funny from an outside perspective. The song is a well written gaze upon a relationship, and the state of being before and during. It speaks to the ability to see the future and believe in the future. Like my last post, looking forward is not always easy. Having faith in the unknown future is even harder. Today I want to focus on the future, see what I believe will be true. I can do this at work, my faith, my volunteer life, in my family life.  In the worst of time keep your eyes forward, in the best of times enjoy the moment and plan the next. Better days are ahead all around!

"I believe and I believe ‘cause I can see
Our future days, days of you and me

When The hurricanes and cyclones rage
When winds turn dirt into dust

When floods they came and the tides they raised, ever closer became us"
- Pearl Jam

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Focus on Cash

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.

― Johnny Cash

I am not a big country music fan but I do like Johnny Cash, especially his final albums and revival on American Recordings in the 1990; and 2000's. Cash has certain introspection in his writing, and in the covers that really show who he was as a person. He lived a hard life, ruined marriages, got lost in drugs and alcohol, killed his career, and found the Light. My wife sent over the quote above today and it really hit home. No one, not one person has never had a single regret in life, even if a small one. But as Cash points out, failures are what you build upon. The final sentence in the statement is the most important. How does one learn from mistakes, and never devote any energy to thinking back about it?

Focus is one answer. If you have something to stay focused on you can avoid looking back. The simple analogy is just walking. If you do not focus forward, you will eventually stumble into something. By facing forward, you see where you are walking, and leave the rest behind. I have read a lot of business books, that encourage identifying the days goals. I do not always follow these lessons. The goal setting can be simple or complex, but write down some daily goals, and achieve them. Your plan will develop, your scope may change, but you will be facing forward. I have been laser focused on my personal plan for about four weeks now, and I feel very productive. We all have failure, we all want to be better. I want to stay on the path I am on, close the door more often, and give my energy, time and space to the best things in my life. Focus on today, tomorrow is never promised.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Cupcake Time

I am traveling coast to coast, almost, today. Nothing worse than leaving so early in the day that I miss seeing my kids in the morning. I did get to hug J before I left, mostly since I woke here up getting ready at 4 am. I hated to leave the family for this trip, this kids are just over the flu, and so is J. She's a real trooper with the kids when she is not feeling well, way more strong than me. When I'm not well, I turtle up and zone out until I'm better.  So thanks J for again manning the ship without me, our family is glued together by you.

Lots of things to work on over the next 48 hours. Work opportunities, volunteer decisions and continued focus on my health. I am strengthened by my family in all aspects of my life. Today C$ gets a cupcake for a well earned personal achievement, five straight poops on the potty without an accident. This is huge. Seeing the pics of C&C getting psyched for CUPCAKE TIME while I was sitting alone in an airport were heartwarming. What a sense of scope these kids have. They do not know the big cupcake trip is a five minute journey for J. But this little trip means the world to the kids. 

This is a great analogy to life. Little actions can have big outcomes. Smile at people that serve you, make eye contact so they know you respect them. Take a minute to thank someone. Give your spouse a hug when they do not expect one. Let a coworker know you have seen them really working hard on a project and appreciate the effort. You never know when that small gesture could make a real difference to someone. Give someone their own cupcake time today.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Valentine Boy

Today is a very difficult day for me. For the last few years I have not been able to write anything but a brief note of remembrance. In 2010 my wife and I entered parenthood in one of the most difficult ways. J's water broke early and we delivered our son JDM on Valentines Day, he did not survive. Getting to meet him for a brief moment was a true blessing, but it was the hardest thing I have ever done. This has been the most difficult and evolving day over the last several years. While I am saddened at what could have been for my boy, we have been given two absolutely beautiful children since that day. Each year we are removed form JDM's birthday, the pain is a little less, never gone but less. 

I know we should not feel guilty about celebrating with our kids. It was fun to drop Valentines in bags for other kids at daycare this morning. CG even got a special Valentine from her friend, the same kid she made a special one for. This relationship will be cause for writing in 13 years I'm sure. I guess I am learning the transition from the straight grief I have experienced, to a better balanced state of celebrating with my kids, and remembering our first. I do pray every single day for JDM with his brother and sister. They don't understand who he is yet, but they know he's always in the family prayers.

Like the heart tree above, my heart is blessed to have many pieces that fill up my life. One piece was just a little smaller, just a little less tangible than the others. I will never let go of the experience JDM gave me. I will never stop loving and praying for him. I will make sure that C&C always know how much I love them and appreciate the opportunity to be their father. One day I'll meet JDM, and we'll be able to chat about all the thing we missed out on together. I the meantime, I will celebrate what I have in the best way I know.

Just Breathe by Pearl Jam

Yes, I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they've got none

Stay with me...
Let's just breathe...

Practiced all my sins, never gonna let me win, uh-huh
Under everything, just another human being, uh-huh
I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world to make me bleed

Stay with me
You're all I see...

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me

As I come clean...
I wonder everyday, as I look upon your face, uh-huh
Everything you gave
And nothing you would save, oh no

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave...

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
And I come clean, ah...

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me til I die
Meet you on the other side...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mountain Conquers Man

I have been working very hard to prepare for my trip to New Hampshire in June. This morning I felt like a failure during my workout. I know failure is a strong word, but I questioned myself a few time during my session, and almost hurled once or twice. I am always a strong supporter for other peoples challenges and aspirations, and often lend good motivational words. My problem is I never lend these to myself, I am very hard on myself. I do not have a great ability to go easy on me, and look at the bright side. So today I am forcing myself to put on some shades, relax, look at the sun and be happy I worked out at all.

There are some positives, I am struggling to focus on, but here goes. I woke up early, dragged my butt down stairs and worked out. I went after the workout harder than the last week. I slowed to the moderate routine a few times, but made sure I finished each exercise at full intensity, or at least my closest approximation of full. Lastly, I did not stop.

My head got in my way a few times, but that is where I need the most work. Sir Edmund Hilary's quote above has been framed on my wall since college. His quote could not have rung more true to me than when I finished this morning. I was totally gassed and did not want to walk upstairs to get ready for work or take out the garbage. I sat for several minutes just collecting myself, sort of pissed that I felt the conquered by "the mountain."

Take some time today to assess if you are doing everything you can for your goals. Are you getting in your own way? Is fear of failure stopping your from starting something new? Right now I am accepting the fact I worked out as hard as I could today as a win, and not being too hard on myself. Today is only a day, but if you run, walk or inch toward a goal now, you are beating everyone on the couch not trying at all.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


Just a great quote today:
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
― Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

My Success

I spent some time thinking about my definition of success, and was underwhelmed with my results. I fall into very standard thoughts on success, and confuse it with goal setting and completion. Certainly completing a goal is a step to success, but this should not defines what makes you successful.

True success should be a higher ordeal.

I want to achieve a lot of goals in my life. Good job, provide for the family, fitness goals, volunteer goals and some hobbies. But these are all goals, and achieving them cannot define my success. I want to be successful at family. I want to be successful at helping others reach higher than they thought they could. I want to be successful in my faith. I want to be a success at personal growth and improvement. I want to be a success at happy.

None of the things I want to be a success at are easily identifiable tasks. They are a compilation of a lifetime of tasks and goals. My plan in 2014 is to keep setting goals, but make sure they align in some way with my definition of success. Goals and tasks are good, and can bridge you to success, but you need to know what your success is going to be so you can be one.

Monday, February 03, 2014


The definition of success in the United States is a widely contested notion. Last night the losing quarterback in the NFL Super Bowl was crushed online for being a failure. Joke after joke was posted, some were pretty funny, some just mean. Peyton Manning is one of the most successful players in the history of the NFL. I am not a major fan, nor a hater, but he is pretty darn good. I know in Cleveland we would celebrate a player half as good as Manning as a hero. Following the story last night,  as told by regular folks, only the final champion can be successful. And, I am sure Manning's goal this year was winning the Super Bowl, not just participating.

This makes me think what I consider success to be. Do I see myself as successful today? This is not something I think about often. I spend most of my time in smaller chunks of goal tracking. I think for an exercise this week I will ponder my definition of success. Do I focus on what others think of me in my formula? More importantly, what will I do with the definition I develop?

Lots of questions this week, without many answers, but this is just what's on my mind today. I will make sure I follow up with my answers.