Blog

How Do You Support Another While You Yourself Are Crumbling?

Back in April I was going to share some posts for National Poetry Month, but as you can see, I failed. As the world was turned upside down as we dealt with a pandemic, stay-at-home orders should have made it easy for me to find the time to write as much as I was compelled to. What I didn’t take into account was that the issues behind my own poetry were heavy, and sometimes dark. I wasn’t ready to unpack those emotions. I wasn’t ready to let anyone see that part of me. Even as I sit here now I know that I will never be ready. Some things are always going to hurt. Some things are better just left in the past. But I’m still going to share them hoping that by sharing them it will help parts of me heal.

So here it goes…

Picture a man pushing a shopping cart around the back aisles of Costco. Since his son is at preschool he’s taking his time picking up the things that he needs, and the things he doesn’t because you know, it’s Costco! His wife is out of town of town on yet another work trip. Washington, D.C., Alabama, New Mexico, it’s hard to keep track.

As he turns down the detergent aisle he gets a message from said wife asking if he has a minute to talk. Since he is just mindlessly wandering the chasms of Costco, of course he has time. While they talk she tells him that she was late so she took a pregnancy test just to make sure, and to her surprise, it came back positive.

The man is speechless. As tears begin to well up in his eyes he tells her that even though they weren’t trying, he is so happy. They say their goodbyes, and as he stands there in the back aisles of Costco, the emotions wash over him like a river. He can’t hold back the tears of happiness any longer, and as other shoppers pass by him, he openly weeps in front of the bulk paper products.

That man was me. I cried in Costco. But little did I know that in the coming weeks I would cry tears not of happiness, but those of loss and sorrow. After a doctor appointment where the heartbeat was slow and faint, we waited anxiously for another week to find out that instead of planning for a life with two children I would have to watch my wife go through the heartache and pain of a miscarriage.

A part of me died that day. A part that I will never get back. An emptiness that, even with the birth of our second son two years later, will never be filled. Days and weeks went by where I simply went through the motions. When I was alone I couldn’t help but break down. I was lost. I became a shadow of myself. I became distant. And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I had completely abandoned the one person who needed me and my support the most.

***

Distant looks and furtive glances.
Days go by and so do chances
To lift you up and hold you close.
You break down but no one knows.
As you go on completely shattered
I search for something that matters.
You feel so alone even by my side.
No one knows a part of us died.
The light has gone out in your eyes.
No warm hellos, only hollow goodbyes.
You cry out, needing my shoulder
But as I die inside I only grow colder.
And as we lose our little creation
You need your rock, your foundation.
But I can’t be what it is you need
Because I can’t even be there for me.

***

To this day, one of the things that hurts the most is knowing that as my wife went through the mental, physical, and emotional anguish of the miscarriage, even though I was physically there, I wasn’t truly there for her. I didn’t know how to support her as I myself crumbled.

It has taken a long time to forgive myself for drowning in my own grief and not recognizing that of my wife’s. Instead of being there to help keep a light burning, I retreated into the darkness, leaving her alone to find her way.

We never got to meet that combination of us, and to this day we both suffer in our own ways. We are blessed to have the family and life we have built together. We are blessed that even through those dark times we eventually found our way into the light. But still, there is that emptiness inside each of us that can never be filled. There will always be that scar on our heart reminding us of what we lost.

***

Ten little fingers,
Ten little toes.
Your daddy’s smile,
Your mama’s nose.
The heart of a lion,
As cunning as a fox.
Eyes as blue as the sea,
With wavy blonde locks.
Full of compassion,
Full of wonder.
As bright as lightning,
As loud as thunder.
You could have been
All of this and more.
Have traveled the world,
Seen every distant shore.
But we never held you,
Never saw you grow.
And our hearts still break
More than anyone knows.

***

I wish in those hard times I would have been better for my wife, and for myself. But because of those hard times I will continue to strive to…

Be Good, Do Good.

April = National Poetry Month

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
~ Robert Frost

Put pen to paper,
Turn words to lines.
Your thoughts, your feelings.
It’s your moment in time.

Say what you have to say.
Let the words set you free.
Use each poem as an outlet.
Use each one as therapy.

You can write about your highs,
Or even your lowest of lows.
You don’t have to share them,
They can be your’s, and your’s alone.

Be cleansed, be inspired.
Be authentic, be true.
Bring back the balance,
It might get you through.

The month of April is National Poetry Month. Last year, and again this year, my friend Matt has written a poem each day in April. Last year each one was about an endangered species. This year a specific topic hasn’t been selected just yet. It has inspired me to share some of my own.

In case you didn’t know, I love poetry. Reading, writing, whatever form, it is a way that I have always used to deal with my feelings. So, for the month of April, for National Poetry Month, I’m going to share some of my poetry, my favorite poems, my favorite writers. It won’t be every day like Matt, that’s too ambitious for me. Some days I will just share a poem or two, others I will share a poem and tell a story about the inspiration for that poem. Some of the poems I have never shared with anyone before. Some stories will be ones I’ve only shared with a select few.

I’m excited – and nervous – to give everyone a window into my soul through my poetry. I hope that it will help you understand me better, or maybe help you understand your own feelings more. So, until next time…

…Be Good, Do Good.

 

10 Things I Learned From You

“You can’t just give up on someone because the situation’s not ideal. Great relationships aren’t great because they have no problems. They’re great because both people care enough about the other person to find a way to make it work.”

Wow, 10 years goes by quickly! So much changes in 10 years, yet so much stays the same. Ten years ago, September 26, 2009, my wife, Christine, and I stood in front of our family and friends to dedicate our lives and our love to one another. As I stood at that alter I knew I probably couldn’t do better than her, and I figured that I was probably just another part of her charity work. Obviously, I’m joking. I’m one hell of a catch!

But seriously, from the beginning of our relationship she has saved me and stood by me countless times. She inspires me to expand my spectrum of thinking, to be a better person – something I fail at more often than not, yet she’s still here. She’s always been there, through all the highs and lows, teaching me what it takes to be a better person.

So, in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary, and since people used to say she looked like Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You), here are 10 lessons I have learned from my wife over the years.

  1. Accepting another’s beliefs doesn’t compromise your own. We are all different but that doesn’t mean we can’t coexist. We can accept others without losing our own identity. 
  2. Unless you invest in yourself no one else will. If you believe in yourself, others will follow. Christine exudes confidence even when she doubts herself. I believe in her because she makes everyone believe she can move mountains.
  3. Emotions don’t make you weak, they build strength through understanding and compassion. Vulnerability is the basis of growth. Showing your emotions shows your vulnerability. It shows that you are human.
  4. Your past doesn’t define you, the lessons you learn from it do. We all make mistakes. We all have a flawed history. But that doesn’t mean that those mistakes will create a flawed future. Learning from those mistakes will make you better, wiser, and more prepared.
  5. Comfort zones are for the complacent. We are only given this one life so make it an adventure. By stepping out of your comfort zone you learn what you are made of, what truly gives you joy.
  6. A soft tone is the key to parenting. This may be the most important and the one I struggle with the most. When I lose my temper with my son, not only does it make him feel worse, it makes me feel like $#!+ as well. I’m still learning and with her help the soft tone will become standard.
  7. There’s nothing that a fire, a glass of whiskey, and a conversation can’t fix. Tell me a time you didn’t feel better around a campfire. It promotes conversation. It promotes understanding. There’s something to that Kumbaya mumbo-jumbo.
  8. Run toward, not away. It doesn’t matter if it’s Halloween, or we’re on Pleasure Island, we can’t run away from our problems. They will be there until we run toward them to solve them and move on.
  9. It’s never too late. Whether it’s finding happiness, chasing your dreams, or going to Blue Karaoke, it’s never too late in life, or in the night, to live your best life.
  10. Just breathe. Even if you can’t because you just broke your ribs, remember to relax and “just breathe.” Everything will be ok.

Thank you for the last 10 years. Thank you for all the lessons. Here’s to the years to come, and remember to Save The Last Dance.

And as you always do,

Be Good. Do Good.

ABCs for My Boys

ABCs for My Boys

“Each letter of the alphabet is a steadfast soldier in a great army of words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories. One letter falls, and the entire language falters.” ~ Vera Nazarian

 

One of the first things we learn as children are the ABCs. They are the foundation of our language. Individually they are just letters. But together they make words, which together make sentences, which together make up communication. Each letter helps to tell us a story, teach us a lesson, give us information to pass on to generations to come. So, to my boys, these are the ABCs I pass onto you.

dvocate. For others. For animals. For anyone and anything who needs a voice to fight for their rights.

B e true to yourself. Others will undoubtedly try to influence you or take advantage of you in some way. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe.

C atch your breath. These days everyone is trying to do more, have more, be more. They try to cram so much into each and every day that they burn out. Take time each day to relax, reflect, meditate, and breathe.

D on’t ever give up on your dreams! Whether you dream to be an astronaut, a doctor, a professional athlete, or a man who disconnects from this world to live off the land, you are the author of your story. Don’t let others edit the outcome.

E ach day is a new day. With each new day there are new decisions to be made. Although the choices you made yesterday, last week, last month may affect you today, today is different than yesterday, and tomorrow will be different than today. So always ask yourself, “How can I make today great?”

F ind beauty in the world. This world can seem like a cold, dark place but there is beauty all around. In nature. In the person you pass every day. In the simple words you hear when you are struggling. Find the beauty in every moment.

G ive. Give your time. Give yourself. If you have more than you need, give to those who need more than they have.

H old your head high. Losses will come. You won’t always be right. You will have trials and tribulations. Through it all be confident that you will learn from each and improve.

I magine. Great ideas come from those who imagine great things. Innovation is driven by the imagination that something can be better. Don’t lose your imagination because it will forever bring you joy.

J ump into the darkness. It is normal to be afraid, but don’t let your fear keep you from doing something you will remember for a lifetime. We don’t know what each day will bring so take a chance, and JUMP!

K iss and hug. Affection can heal. Affection can save. Affection can warm. A kiss, a hug, they are the simplest ways of saying “you are loved, you are accepted, I am here for you.”

L isten, learn, laugh, and love. If you don’t take anything else from this, please read this one over and over. Listen to others. Your voice doesn’t always have to be heard. Just by listening you can spark change. Never stop learning. The more you know the more you’ll grow. Nothing cures sadness like laughter. Laugh fully, laugh often. Love freely. The amount of love we can give and receive is infinite so spread your love.

M ake memories. Chances are, as you get older, you aren’t going to remember what the toy was that you got for your 6th birthday. You know what you will remember? The wonders you got to see, the places you got to go, the adventures you got to live. Fill your life with experiences instead of things. Fill your life with memories.

N o one will ever love you as much as your mother. People will come and go from your life but the one who has been there from the day your hearts started to beat together is the same person who will be there for you in every success, every failure, and every moment in between. Love her, cherish her.

O pen yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt. I wish I could tell you that you are never going to feel pain. There will be failure in your life, you will get your heart broken, you will experience loss, but our greatest lessons in life come from these. If there isn’t a possibility of getting hurt it’s probably not that important.

P lay. No matter how busy your life gets find time to play. It can be as simple as a game of cards, building a castle in the sand, or jumping off rocks on a hike. Our lives become so structured that our minds and bodies need that unstructured play that we have as kids. Never stop playing.

Q uestion. The greatest change comes from those who question. Listen but make your own conclusions based on the information and what you know is right.

ead. Do you want to know the one thing that will keep you young? Reading. You can never know too much so read everything you can. You can never get too lost in a story. A good book can make you feel every emotion. Read to learn, read to escape, read for fun.

S tay humble. You can accomplish great things but you will always need the help and support of others. Know you can’t do it alone and be sure to thank those who have helped you along the way.

T each others. We learn most from what we can teach others. We learn our own comprehension. We learn the ability of others. We sometimes learn that not everything we thought we knew is true. Teach so that you can learn.

U se your talents for good. You know what makes a hero? It’s not a cape. It’s not special powers. It’s using the talents we are given and the ones we cultivate through individual growth, to improve the world around us. Be someone’s hero.

V isit. Visit your grandparents. Visit the places you want to see. There is so much we can learn from taking time to visit, talk with, and experience the people and world around us.

W ear your heart on your sleeve. It’s ok to show your emotions. Everyone cries. Everyone feels anger. Be open about how you are feeling and allow others to do the same.

eit this world knowing you lived a full life.We only have this one life. Do all the things you want to do. See all the things you want to see. Be all the things you want to be. Don’t leave any wish unfulfilled.

ou are the only you. My boys, you are my boys. No one else will ever be you, and you will never be anyone else. We are all different. We each have something unique to give to the world. Be you.

ippers hurt. Make sure you have everything tucked in.

Be Good. Do Good.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

I Hear You, I’m With You

“You’re not a victim for sharing your story. You are a survivor setting the world on fire with your truth. And you never know who needs your light, your warmth, and raging courage.” ~ Alex Elle

Cue the music. Dim the lights. Set free the lions.

No we have not come to the Big Top. No we are not watching the greatest show on Earth. This is not the circus, although at times it seems that is exactly what we are watching. No, we are here to see the viscous, carnivorous, unrelenting beasts that are the men who hold power. We sit and watch the persecution of not the predator who roars to intimidate others, but the already wounded prey who must recount the attack. And as the prey opens up to show their scars, the lions sitting high on their rocks of power attack the prey once again saying the original attack never happened, or that the prey wanted the attack to happen and is now the one attacking their fellow innocent lion.

Does this sound familiar? It is the scene that plays out over and over again. It is the scene that has played out in the most important Supreme Court Justice appointment we have seen in decades. And whether you are Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat, the scene we saw yesterday should have left you with a look on your face much like that of the women in the room as Judge Kavanaugh recounted, or failed to, the happenings of his early life. Just by taking the eye test, everyone should get out their red marker and place a big F at the top of the page.

I don’t want to break down the whole hearing but let’s just take a look at a few things that should raise red flags across the board:

  1. “Devil’s Triangle” and “Boofing” – Let’s face it, the guy knowingly and clearly lied about the meaning of these two terms which were referenced on his 36-year-old calendars (more on these in a moment). It’s like he forgot that we are in an age where in seconds you can go to the internet to look up whatever your heart desires, like the definition of certain slang. If you aren’t offended by his assumption that we are all idiots then you are just that, an idiot.
  2. The Calendars – He kept calendars which are as old as I am! We have heard it over and over again, sexual predators like to keep something to remind them of their “conquests.” Why would anyone keep 36-year-old calendars unless they want to have record and reminders of their shady experiences? It’s not like he kept it in a journal. These are calendars! Everyone should be saying, C’mon Man!
  3. The Yelling – The most obvious defense mechanism of a liar is to get loud and bang your fists to distract and intimidate the accuser. Add to that the playing themselves off as the victim, and it turns into a game of “smoke and mirrors” where it is easy to lose sight in what you believe. And that is all a liar needs, a sliver of doubt in what the true facts are. A liar can take that sliver of doubt and insert their own “facts” to confuse and distract, and that is just what we saw.

We could go on and on about this but that is not what I wanted this to be about. I just wanted to bring it to light to show that we are in a fucked up world where predators can be seen as victims, and victims can be seen as vengeful and vindictive. A world where some men because of their status, position, or power feel they have a right to make any woman their next conquest. A world where women have to be ultra-aware of every single choice they make from their actions, to the way they dress, to the way they carry themselves just to give them a better chance of keeping themselves safe and not being attacked physically, verbally, mentally, or emotionally.

It’s scary to think about having to raise a young girl in this environment. Giving her all the skills, precautions, and confidence to not be afraid to tell a man no. Helping her see that her self-worth is not determined by the “love” or opinion of a man. Assisting her in finding her own true self so that she not only carries herself in a manner she can be proud of but also in being an advocate for the women who are victimized by a society that sees them as a sexual object. To all of you parents of young women and girls, I’m with you.

But it’s not only scary trying to raise bright, confident women. It is just as scary trying to raise a boy/young man who won’t grow up to be an ass hole who preys on women, or sees them as objects instead of an individual who offers more than just a good time between the sheets. As parents of young men we have just as much responsibility, if not more, in teaching them to respect and advocate for the just treatment that every woman deserves. To all of you parents of young men and boys, I’m with you.

This brings me to my final thought. I am not ashamed to say that I have only been with two women in my life. Both were loving, long-term relationships. I don’t feel like I ever pressured either to do anything they did not want to do, but if I did I am deeply sorry. For any woman who I may have offended or made to feel uncomfortable by a look, a remark, or simply by my presence, I truly apologize.

To every woman: You are all more than what others can see. You are the strength of this world. The strength that even through the fear that this world can bring, goes out each day to make it a better place. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Don’t be afraid to fight back. Don’t be afraid to say NO! And never forget, I HEAR YOU, I’M WITH YOU.

Be Good. Do Good.

Today I Let Go – A Father’s Letter to His Son on the First Day of School

Today I Let Go – A Father’s Letter to His Son on the First Day of School

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” ~Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood

Every parent has that moment in life, the first moment you truly throw your most important, most vulnerable part of your life out into the world, and you hope they don’t get eaten alive. For me, today was that day. The first full day of KINDERGARTEN. The first full day my baby boy will spend with kids he doesn’t know, in an environment that is completely foreign to him, with a teacher he may not fully trust yet.

As we pulled into the drop-off line and waited for B’s turn to jump out, beginning his new adventure, we talked about what this year might bring. We talked about the Spanish-Immersion program he has been so excited to be a part of since the start of preschool last year. We talked about how he was shy at the open house but now that he knew some of the other children he was not going to be shy today. We talked about what was going to happen when we got to the front of the line – he’ll unbuckle, an adult will open his door, help him out, and point him in the right direction.

But when we got to the front of the line no one opened his door. B simply unbuckled, we said our customary “I love you,” he opened his own door, jumped from the car, and after I told him to “have a great day,” he closed the door with a smile and turned to blaze a new path into the great unknown. He didn’t wait for an adult to help, he just joined the other children making their way into the building, beginning his first year of school and subsequently ending our last year together.

As that door closed, I couldn’t tell if what I felt was my heart breaking or if it was my heart exploding from the love and pride I had for that little kid who was running off into an unfamiliar world. Either way, I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up. I couldn’t stop him from growing up, experiencing the world, and thus, leaving me and his mother behind. But one thing that will never change is the fact that that little blonde haired boy with the bluest eyes will forever be a combination of the best and worst parts of me.

That drop-off line was never going to be long enough for me to tell him all the things I wanted to tell him about school, about life, about anything and everything in this crazy world. So, B, here are some things I want you to remember as you go forth in your life.

  1. Believe in Yourself – You have an amazing thirst for knowledge. It will take you further than you will ever comprehend. The more you know, and the more you experience, the more prepared you will be for everything in this life. You are capable of great things as long as you believe that you can.
  2. Be Thankful – We have been lucky thus far in this life. We have more than we need and that is a reason to give thanks. Always be thankful for the things you have because all of it could be gone in an instant.
  3. Be Giving – Just as we have all that we need, there are others who do not. There are others who go without the basic necessities of life; food, clothing, shelter. Help those who are less fortunate. It doesn’t have to be a monetary contribution. Most times an ear to listen, a hand to hold can mean the most to others.
  4. Learn from Others – You will never know everything there is to know. Others will know more than you. When someone talks, listen. The information they will be giving you could help you later in life. Some of your greatest lessons and skills will come from people who have had less schooling than you. Test scores don’t mean jack once you are in the real world. Applying what you have learned will be your ultimate test.
  5. You Won’t be the Best, You Won’t be the Worst – Chances are there will always be someone better than you. Likewise, you probably are never going to be the worst at anything you might try. Always be gracious in both victory and defeat. Celebrate your accomplishments while still being humble. No one likes a sore loser, but more importantly no one can stand one who is continuously boastful. No matter what others say, winning is not the most important thing. Being kind and helping others succeed, or even recover from defeat is a true victory.
  6. Be Loving – Give your love freely. You have such a big heart, show it to others. Giving your love to another person – girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, family, friends – will show your true character. Everyone is deserving of love and if we all gave more of ourselves – our mind, our body, our heart, our soul – this world wouldn’t be such a cold, dark place.
  7. Don’t Rely on the Love of Others – Always remember that the love of another person can be momentary. If by chance you are denied the love of another whether it be a significant other, family member, or a friend, know that the heart is resilient. It is not the end of the world. One day you will find someone who will make your happiness their primary concern. That is when you will have found love.
  8. Find a Woman or Man who Makes You Laugh – If you find a love who can make you laugh, and laughs with you, hold onto them, they are a keeper. The truth is, for all of us, our good looks will fade, but laughter will keep you young at heart, and laughter together will be the foundation of an everlasting love.
  9. Always Be You – You are smart, loving, funny, and you brighten the lives of those around you. The world can be a scary place but I know that you will go through it with a childlike wonder that will touch every heart.

Be Good. Do Good.

Te amo mi hijo.

Heroes, Trolls, Idolization, Condemnation

Heroes, Trolls, Idolization, Condemnation

“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” ~ Maya Angelou

Who were your heroes growing up? Who are your heroes now? I bet for many of us the answers to these two questions are quite different. I know in my case that is definitely true. Growing up my entire life was centered around sports. My heroes were athletes. Steve Young, Peyton Manning, Chipper Jones – their performances on the field were what made them like Hercules to me: not quite a god, but more than a man.

As I grew older and more mature, although minimally, my idea of who my heroes were changed. I started to appreciate the every day moments and acts of others that were anything but ordinary. Like my parents working hard every day to give my sister and I a life where we never had to worry or want for anything. The fact that they never missed any of my sporting events. Even after moving a thousand miles away, my mom still came back to Michigan for three months each spring to watch me play Junior College baseball. Or that they both dealt with major medical issues but never made it seem like our life was any different than the day before. They are, and forever will be, my greatest heroes.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t still idolize others, some of whom are sports figures, but it’s now for what they do in their communities and in helping others. And I think that happens for a lot of us – we grow up and our views on the world, on what/who is important, changes. Our parents and their sacrifices to give us a better life. The first responders who put their lives on the line each day. The men and women of our armed forces who defend the liberties and freedoms which many of us take for granted. Doctors, teachers, volunteers who devote their time to ensuring that we are healthy, educated, and have the basic needs of life.

What sparked this post has nothing to do with my heroes, although I do respect the individuals it was based off of. What sparked it, and the reason for the title, was a picture I had posted on social media of my son in front of the Yellow Jerseys from the Tour de France that hang on a wall in Hincapie Sportswear’s headquarters, and a comment by a random individual.

 

As you can see, an innocent picture of an innocent kid. Even my caption has nothing to do with what the “troll” decided to comment on.

“#minime says he wants a #yellowjersey hanging on his wall some day! Thanks for everything @hincapiesports! He can’t wait to wear the H with pride! #ridehincapie #hincapiefamily”

His comment:

“Omg!! So many things wrong with this picture your hero’s should not be sportsmen/women especially those who cheated there way to the top, there no role models, 😦 :(“

If we get passed their lack of punctuation, the lack of understanding of when to use  there/they’re/their, or that the comment was off topic and unsolicited, we may be able to have a discussion about their ideas on heroes and parenting. But since I never said any of the winners of the coveted Yellow Jersey were my son’s heroes (because he wasn’t even born yet when any of these were won) their comment is simply that of someone trolling to make themselves seem righteous among the flawed. But the comment made me think about our ideas of heroes/villains. It brought me to this thought:

We are so quick to idolize an individual but we are even quicker to condemn them.

The rise and fall of the winner of seven of those Yellow Jerseys, Lance Armstrong, is the perfect example of this. He became the American golden boy on a bike by becoming the first American to win the Tour de France since Greg Lemond. But not only did he win, he did it after surviving testicular cancer. If that doesn’t put someone in Herculean status I don’t know what does. He went on to win seven Tour de France, more than any other cyclist in history. But then there was the black cloud of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs).

There were suspicions throughout his years as champion that Lance and his teammates were using PEDs which was, and still is, against the rules of cycling. Eventually, enough evidence was amassed, and enough people came forward that Lance was stripped of his victories and he was banned from cycling – a sport that grew immensely during his time. Throw on top of that, Lance became a pariah not only in the cycling community but in everyday society. He was asked to step down from his position with the Livestrong Foundation (remember all those yellow bracelets?), the foundation he built that raised millions for cancer research. He was essentially told, “we don’t care about all that you have done for our organizations, Sir, you must go.” And maybe that was fair for the way that Lance treated people and all the lies he told but it is unfair to forget all the good because of a few mistakes. But that is our society – today’s gold is tomorrow’s trash.

My thoughts on whether or not Lance should have been punished so severely is a topic for another day. Today I want to focus on two things from this example of idolization/condemnation and the troll’s comment.

  1. Why is it that we are so quick to put an individual on a pedestal but then even quicker to knock that pedestal out from under them, happy to watch them fall?
  2. Isn’t it our responsibility as parents to give our children the facts about the individuals who they idolize and look up to?

We love our heroes but when they fall we act like they stole our first born. There are some cases where the swing from love to loathing is justified, but for many their indiscretions didn’t effect 99% of the people that came after them carrying torches and pitchforks. And that is my main problem with the mob mentality of the Lance Armstrong detractors. Yes he lied and so often attacked those who were against him, but did his cheating and lies really hurt many of us, or effect our lives in any way? If it did, then hate him all you want. But if you are claiming that Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, etc. taking PEDs effected your life and you weren’t involved in the sport in any way other than a fan, all I have to say is you need to reevaluate your priorities in life because in the end it’s just a game.

Now, I’m not saying I condone their cheating and the lies that followed, I’m simply saying you can still respect men like Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie for all the good they have done. Lance gave hope to so many individuals battling cancer. He made time to listen to those who wanted to share their story with him, to tell him what an inspiration his story was, to tell him that it pulled them out of the dark times and encouraged them to keep fighting. Whether it was all a farce or not, those individuals benefited from his story. They didn’t give up on life because of his story. And like I said, his story generated millions for cancer research and awareness. George has helped build a successful, family run business that gives back to the community in a number of ways.

So, why shouldn’t they still be considered heroes? If we go by Maya Angelou’s quote above, their lives have been filled with the intent of making this a better place for all people.

And that brings me to the final point, that it is our responsibility as parents to tell our kids the good, the bad, and the ugly of those they admire and then let them formulate their own opinion as they mature. The troll is only focused on the ugly. They didn’t take into account that MY SON IS 5! They don’t know that when he grows up he wants to be a firefighter, veterinarian, pro cyclist, and construction worker. He’s five, so I’m going to let him be five. We can’t change the fact that we idolize individuals who do things we only dream of, but we can take comfort that for most of us, as we grow older and mature, we realize that so many people around us in our everyday life do heroic things, inspire us, and effect our lives for the better.

Be Good. Do Good.

 

The Measure of Your Beauty: A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to My Wife

The Measure of Your Beauty: A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to My Wife

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but if every single one had to happen to make sure I was right here, right now, to meet you, then I forgive myself for them all.” ~ K. Towne Jr.

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Not because I don’t have anyone to spend it with, but because I have always felt that we should tell the one we love the most just how much we love them every chance we get. I try to do that every day but sometimes the words can feel repetitive, rehearsed, scripted.

Though I always make a point to tell my wife how beautiful she is in my eyes, I know that she has the same insecurities that many women have. What she and those other women don’t realize is that to the men and women who truly love them, those things that lead to their insecurity or low self image are what add to their beauty. So, as we go into the holiday of love, this is my love letter to the woman who gives so much of herself and never asks for anything in return.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your curves and lines, they draw me in.

The curve of your mouth when you smile, the one that can light up the darkest room.
The curve of your brow, the one that gives away your every emotion.
The curve of your shoulders, the ones that carry the load of our family.
The curve of your fingers, the ones that fit so perfectly within mine.
You are so much more than your womanly curves. So much more than the figure that only I see.

The lines that you cover and curse, the lines that you only show to me, they are the scars of your greatest gift and sacrifice.
The lines around your eyes and mouth, they aren’t a sign of age, they are a sign of life. They tell the story of a life full of laughter and love.

Your beauty to me is not measured by numbers. Not the numbers on the scale nor the tags on your clothes.
Your beauty is in your love, compassion, empathy, ambition, and humility.
Your beauty is in the way you make each person feel as if they are the most important person in every moment you give them.
Your beauty is in all that you give to others, and that you refuse to take anything for granted.

We only get this one life and I am thankful for every day that I get to spend it with you. Thankful that I get to call you mine. Thankful that you continue to push me to…

…Be Good. Do Good.

With Love,

Rob

The Big Bad Wolf of Negativity

“Negativity is cannibalistic. The more you feed it, the bigger and stronger it grows.” ~ Bobby Darnell

We all know the story of “The Three Little Pigs.” One builds a house of straw, one builds a house of sticks, and one builds a house of bricks. The Big Bad Wolf comes along to the house of straw, asks to come in, and when the pig refuses the wolf huffs, and he puffs, and he blows the house down. The pig then runs off to the house of the second pig which the wolf also blows down. Only when the first two pigs get to the home of the third pig with the brick house are they safe from the wolf. When the wolf can’t blow down the brick house he attempts to climb in through the chimney and falls into a boiling pot becoming wolf stew.

This fable easily translates to the negativity in our lives. The Big Bad Wolf being negativity, the houses are our minds/emotions and their defenses to said negativity, and the pigs are all of us.

The Big Bad Wolf comes in many different forms: toxic relationships, lack of support, our own anxieties, negative expectations, self doubt, and surroundings. The wolf feeds off of our inability to cope with the different negativity in our lives. As negativity affects us the wolf becomes stronger and breeds more negativity. And just because we resist one negativity doesn’t mean that it won’t come in other forms (climbing through the chimney).

Each one of us has a different type of house in terms of our ability to cope with the negativity in our lives. Those with “straw houses” tend to be overly sensitive and are easily affected by all types of negativity. Those with “stick houses” are able to resist certain types of negativity, or can withstand all negativity until they reach a breaking point. Those with a “brick house” are mentally and emotionally strong, those who can withstand a world of negativity.

If society was entirely of pigs with straw houses it wouldn’t take much for negativity to feed and strengthen. But when we surround ourselves with others who have brick houses we have safe havens of positive influences to counteract the negative.

So, take a look at your own life.

What type of “house” do you have?

What types of “houses” are in your support group?

If you are surrounded by straw and sticks, negativity will blow through like a hurricane/tornado/wild fire and destroy everything in it’s path. If you are the one with a “brick house” take the time to shelter those who may be feeling negativity washing over them. Give them the advice they need to “build their own house of bricks” because you never know when there will be an earthquake that destroys your house.

We are all affected by negativity differently but it’s important that we don’t let it cannibalize and grow stronger.

Be Good. Do Good.

Rob