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.

 

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

 

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.

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

How We Came to This: A “Rebranding” Story

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” ~ Chauncey Depew

Happy New Year!!! Each new year brings new resolutions, transformations, change. We make resolutions that we are going to change certain things in our lives to improve ourselves physically, mentally, and/or spiritually. I have always found this practice to be kind of odd because if it is something we truly want to change we should make the resolution to do so the moment we determine the change needs to be made whether its January 1st, December 31st, or any day in between. That being said, I still make New Year’s resolutions.

One of those resolutions/goals is to get this blog going and to post regularly.  In doing so I felt I needed to make a change to the title. This blog is a way for me to talk about parenting, cycling, and life in general. SAHD Cyclist, the original title, seemed like a great way to explain my life as a part-time stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) and a cyclist. But I had a couple of problems with it.

First, SAHD is a horrible acronym. When you say it out loud what you hear is ‘sad,’ and much like other stay-at-home-dads, I am far from being sad. I love the time I get to spend with my son. Second, when I looked at the backlog of topics I want to write about, a pretty lengthy list, only two had anything to do with cycling. So a change needed to be made. New year -> New title -> New commitment.

That brings us to the result – ‘This Life of Balance.’ When I decided to change the title my first thought was ‘Life of Balance.’ It was exactly what I was going for when I wanted to start this blog. I wanted it to be about my life and how I try to keep it balanced, just as you try to stay balanced on a bike. But lifeofbalance.wordpress.com was already taken, as was alifeofbalance. Then it hit me. By adding THIS to Life of Balance, it added a level of individualism, a personal touch. It says, “this is me, these are my words.” So, ‘This Life of Balance’ came to life.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you. Some topics will be controversial, i.e. my first post. You may not always agree with what I write but I hope it will help to generate conversation and deeper thinking because that is what will make us all better humans and a better society. So, just as I will always open with a quote that relates to my topic, I will always leave you with this:

Be Good. Do Good.

Rob