The 300-kiloton reminder that life is precious.

A lot of people in Russia woke up this morning, ready to start their day.  I bet none of them thought they would be injured by a meteor.  So often we focus on the dangers of Earth–wars, famine, disease, crime…but we forget that there is something much larger out there–beyond our comprehension.  At the end of the day, we are at the mercy of so many things.  If it doesn’t make you wonder, then nothing ever will.

After I read about the meteor strike, I began to think about all the stupid things that bother me.  The list grew and grew.  I still came back to one thing.  Today, a meteor hit the Earth’s surface.  In an unrelated incident, a huge asteroid came close to hitting our planet.  My point is, we have no control at all over anything when it comes down to it.  We are simple specks in what otherwise is a huge universe that has control of everything.

So….relax.  Today was a great reminder that no matter how bad things are–it’s a waste of time to be angry, upset and disappointed.  You have this short time to enjoy life and make something memorable.  Take some time today to think about that.  If a 300-kiloton meteor isn’t enough to wake you up a little….

Love one another and be well! 

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It’s What Big Sisters Do.

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Your little brother was too scared to walk the wall by himself yesterday.

You grabbed his hand and away you both went.

At the moment of this picture, he was giggling loudly.

You yelled, “This is what big sisters do.”

It was as if God took the picture, at this precise moment, for me.

I don’t know where either of you will be 20 years from now.

Or if I will be around.

I hope you both look at this picture every day for the rest of your lives.

And never forget.  Because I never will.  Ever.

Orange sherbet push ups and Corpus Christi, Texas.

I was walking close to the road today.  No, I am not a wanderer, or a gypsy, or a hitchhiker.  (I had to get the mail.)  I looked down and noticed something I hadn’t seen in years.  It was an orange push up container.  The ice cream in it was of course, gone–but there it was.  My childhood–laying on the road in the middle of Michigan.  You remember don’t you?  Outside playing capture the flag or baseball and suddenly, you hear it.  The sweet sound of the Ice Cream truck riding through the neighborhood.  You race to your house, grab whatever change you can find then sprint to the powder blue truck.  The nice man with 5 teeth asks what you want.  You are faced with the decision of a lifetime.  A bomb pop?  One of those plastic cones with ice cream and a gumball at the bottom?  

No–you want ol’ reliable.  The sweet taste of an orange sherbet in a container that YOU can control.  You have the power to determine the ice cream distribution–even at a young age.  True independence is just around the corner.  Today it’s an orange push up, tomorrow your first car and fast women….but I digress.

I love it when you see something out of the blue, in a place you never expected to see anything at all and it brings back a fond memory.  Triggers, when they bring on something positive, can be so much fun.  

Of course, every once in awhile I’ll pass the fish counter at the market, or smell my garbage can the day after my leftover salmon has been tossed in the trash.  That smell will forever remind me of Corpus Christi, Texas.  The lovely scent of fish, oil and sweat all rolled into one.  Corpus Christi.  I spent a week there one day.  Chalk that up as a negative trigger, indeed!

I miss the ice cream man.  I miss those old trucks with the loud music.  I miss snow cones and fudge bars.  I know–I can go to the store and find most of that anytime I want, but it’s just not the same.  Some things are meant only for the innocence of childhood.  It’s funny how an old wrapper on the road reminded me of that.

Be well.

Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day.

I took my daughter ice skating for the first time last weekend.  For me, it was the first time in 15 years that I had laced up the skates.  For Kat, it was the second time ever on the ice.  As we entered the rink in our rented skates and touched the ice, it occurred to me that it was going to be a very long day.  We both hugged the boards and made it about a grand total of a foot before we both fell.  Lovely.

I was wearing skates that were clearly too large.  My feet were aching, the skates were crooked and the laces weren’t tight.  In fact, the laces were hardly laces at all.  I had to change skates.  I had to.  I was in so much pain.  I told my daughter to wait for me while I got a different pair.  When I came back, she was standing by the boards, staring at the ice and hoping…hoping her dad would be back soon to tackle this challenge with her. 

I’m not complaining.  I’m really not.  We ended up skating round and round for an hour and Kat did a fantastic job.  I was so proud of her.  She held my hand the entire time and I held her up more times than I could remember.  Her dad wiped out once and suffered a great deal of pain the entire time–but nothing, and I mean nothing was going to take me off that ice that day.  Nothing. 

You just can’t dream up memories like this.  This is why we parent.  This is why we lose sleep, pass up on social events and deal with tantrums.  As a single dad, I don’t get the day-to-day memories that her mother gets.  When I get these moments, I relish them.  They are magnified by ten and I cherish them so.  My daughter doesn’t know that her dad is out of shape.  She doesn’t know that I used to skate around like a seasoned hockey player back in the day.  She doesn’t feel my ankles or feet.  All she knows is, her dad is with her–skating around and making her very happy.

Children are amazing.  They challenge us in so many ways, but we love it.  I have no idea what my daughter will become, or what our relationship will be ten years from now.  All I know is, that day, on that ice, I’ve never felt better about being a dad.  It made me think about all the memories I have had with my parents.  The sacrifices they made for me–too many to mention.  When I have moments like I did last week with my child, it hits home.  I realize why I do what I do for my own kids.  Now I know why my parents struggled to give me the life they wanted for me. 

It was near the end of our skate and we wiped out on the ice.  Covered with “snow” and cold we laughed.  I told my daughter that the first thing you do when you wipe out on the ice is to lift up your hands so the other skaters don’t skate over them.  A good safety tip, for sure.  She’s covered with ice shavings and I am worried about her hands.  This is why we parent.

What a beautiful, wild ride it is.  And I love it.

Our finest gifts we bring?

Another Christmas is over.  Another year where we ponder the art of gift giving.  I’m not sure when gifts became such a big part of Christmas and truly it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter when stores start commercializing the process, inviting us to come into their stores and spend, spend, spend.  It doesn’t matter if you went out on Black Friday or if you chose to wait until the very last moment.  It doesn’t matter if you took everything you got for Christmas, back.  None of it matters.  If you get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, I am convinced you will be forever disappointed.

What matters is why we offer gifts to one another and that my friends is as individualized as each and every snowflake.  Some of us give gifts because we feel we should or have to.  That’s a shame.  Others give gifts to show appreciation.  Some give because the office decided to do a “White elephant” exchange.  Regardless of what category you fall into, now is the time to take a step back and look deep into the meaning of giving a gift. 

The difference between the Three Wisemen and me is, I can’t afford gold, I think frankincense smells horrible and I have no clue what myrrh is.  I could google it, but I don’t feel like it.  What we have in common is there is someone special in our life who we feel the need to give something special to.  Gift giving is an art, or at least it should be.  It should show the recipient that you have paid attention and have taken time to think about what makes them happy.  A gift should be something people remember forever.  That is the standard we should all set.  It should be something that makes a $25 gift card to Chili’s look empty and shallow.  A gift doesn’t even have to be something you open.  It could be a memory–a moment in time that you treasure forever.

My daughter bought me an Ohio State cap for Christmas this year.  She is six.  The real gift she gave me was the excitement in her face when she insisted that daddy open up HER gift.  The package could have been dog crap.  It could have been thirty-week old oatmeal in a bowl, molded over.  Her face and the pride on it was the gift I was seeking.  She is too young to realize that, but if I work hard enough and instill values all parents wish to attain in our kids, she will one day be in the same position I was in.  

In 2013, I ask that we all take a moment to think about the finest gifts we bring.  A friend of mine from long ago just lost her 100 year old grandmother yesterday.  She had an opportunity to sit next to her and touch her hand as she slowly descended to the other side, where life is no doubt, much better.  It was undoubtedly a moment, a gift, she will never forget.  That’s priceless.  That is better than any $100 gift card or sweater.  

Life is precious and it is short.  The finest gifts we bring sometimes can’t be purchased.  We just have to take time to think about what we give to one another and why.  When we do–and only then–will our attitudes change.  I’ll take memories, and the look and the faces of my children any day over gold and myrrh.