I recently finished reading another of Mark Manson's books, "Everything is F*@ked- A book About Hope" and it got me thinking... what if the pursuit of happiness isn't right?
The whole world (and the interweb too) wants you to be your best self, live your best life, and just be happy. There was even a hit song about not worrying and being happy! We justify everything because it makes us happy. But this book raised a good point - the pursuit of happiness is wrong. The assumption is that happiness is the universal constant and that life is about getting more of it. But, in a point that really resonated with me, the author describes that Pain, not happiness is the universal constant. You don't want more happiness, you want less pain.
Everything we do as humans is to manipulate the level of pain we are in. Just like light and dark, you cannot have happiness without pain (and let's face it, pain could be physical, emotional, stress etc etc).
It's a mindset I've recently been focusing on more. Rather than assess levels of happiness I am assessing levels of pain. In his other book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*@k", Manson discussing problems and how at any level of life, there are always problems. He talks about how rather than solving problems we are simply trading them. Much like pain. We are trading pains. The pain of being homeless is swapped for the pain of paying a mortgage BUT you gain the happiness of a home. The pain of having to manage employees is swapped for the pain of playing the "everyone" role in your new small business BUT you gain autonomy.
It is this mindset that has really helped me gauge the level of which I am happy. I measure it now not by the level of happiness I am in, but rather the level of pain. Minimal pain must mean I am happy. If you looked at it the other way, a mundane day might seem boring or less happy, despite the absence of pain. In framing everything in relation to pain, you get a true measure of how happy you really are.
They say kids change you. And, they aren't lying. If you like chaos, unpredictability, and emotional instability, kids are the thing for you!
But usually, on the internet of things, there is this qualifier on how it is the greatest thing you'll do in your life, or how blessed you are despite it all, or that they wouldn't change anything for the world. Classic internet triumph stories get me every time. And in reality, I love being a Dad. I love watching this little creatures grow and blossom into wonderful people that you've help shape - they're part you, but they're also themselves and that is a pretty cool thing. But, if I'm being fully honest, I struggled becoming and being a Dad. From my first, which presented many first time issues, to my third which exposed every flaw I had about parenting, I struggled differently with each child. And, I still struggle. I suspect this is normal (oh Lord I hope it is) but you don't see a lot on the subject so here I am, exposing my inner brain for the benefit of Mr. Kite (it's on trampolines).
As an expectant Dad, I found myself mentally steeled to be patient AF with this little ball of tears, poop, and love. Damnit, I was going to be a great Dad. I poured all my attention into him and got attention back, sometimes. Lets face it, newborns aren't very good at conversations and they find men relatively useless for the first few months of life when they discover that you don't produce breastmilk. And really, if you're not putting out white gold, what are you contributing to society anyway?
That was a blow. I felt useless and not needed which is hard in my " I constantly need affirmation" type of life. It was the beginning of the struggle. It all comes down to expectations. I expected to be this A-Plus Dad with kids who used the same slang as me, had a razor sharp wit, and generally avoided societal faux pas all while shaping a bright future but honing their minds and bodies as if preparing for some unseen battle of abilities in the future. And what I got was rejection. At least, In my eyes. I felt I wasn't good enough to help the baby. I couldn't fix the baby's problems and, as a male and a fixer, this posed a significant threat to my core values as a Dad. What if I wasn't going to be a good dad?!
Let's couple this with (and remember, I need affirmation) a wife who just had a surgery, is dependent, and all her available attention and energy is going towards herself and the new addition to our family.
I felt truly isolated, alone, and useless. And this was just kid #1. I had a hard time- spent a lot of time escaping in less positive means and I poured myself into work. And, reflexively, I made myself unavailable to both my wife and kid. In a roundabout way, because I lost my attention, I withdrew mine and in that way, it wasn't MY FAULT or MY ISSUE, it was most definitely their fault and I was a victim. The brain is funny, isn't it?
I eventually did seek help. But, more with my wife's encouragement. I don't know I would have reached out by myself. I struggle with self reflection and realization and I had already convinced myself it wasn't my fault that I felt this way but rather the outside world who drove me down. The man was keeping me down and I was just surviving. The help worked. I got my head straightened out, put some priorities in place and some self checks. But, two kids later, the problems don't change, they just get amplified by lack of time and lack of patience. I was a stoic rock for my first child and a volcano for my third at times. It is always a work in progress.
But, having kids doesn't just change you emotionally, no it has larger implications of which I've found 3 main areas it messes with you: Emotionally, Socially, and Physically.
1. Emotionally: We covered this some, but going for 100% of your wife's attention to 50% (or less) for the first kid, divided by 3 for me, You're going to feel alone. abandoned. Add onto the fact that the little tater tot really isn't going to be your best friend until at least 6 months you've got a rocky road ahead. I didn't plan for this. I saw all the commercials and assumed that co-parenting would be this blissful game of tag team snuggling. Wrong. It's incredibly one sided and I wasn't prepared for the sacrifice of my needs that was necessary - sure I felt I would have to give up on some things, but reality is, I had no idea what was about to hit me. Then they get older. And they talk. And they love on you unconditionally and just because. They fill the void your wife can't because of pre-existing conditions. And it's all good for a while....
Then, they learn "NO". And everything is all F'ed again for a while. Apparently these kids aren't little behaving robots, their behavior comes from trial and error and learning from the consequences of said actions and my reactions as a parent. Really?! They say Discovery Learning Has the highest retention rate (and I will never forget this) but the slowest acquisition rate (it did take me forever) but part of me wished there was a magic pill for this.
And then they get bigger and one day they stop screaming all the time and find interests of their own. Some they will share with you while others you're too cumbersome to belong to. And thus begins the phase out before they go off to school -another emotional ride in to itself. And here I sit - some of you may already know what teenage years holds and more; I'm not there yet. But I hope that when it gets here, I've got more figured out than I currently do.
Socially: You will lose touch with people after kids. Let's face it, the ones who don't have kids yet don't love taming their activities down to be around those folks with kids. Their weekend activities start when ours ends. At first, there is a slow down on the invites with plenty of opt-out chances "but really don't feel like you have to..." . Then, the invites stop all together. You start seeing your old crew out on the town without you and you had no head's up. Another blow emotionally, this one took a while to swallow. I was infinitely discouraged that I was no longer involved. I was relinquished to staying at home with the kids rather than go live a Saturday night up. This will change, but initially it really brought me down and made me feel more lonely (remember, home is already a lonely place). Now I'm such a homebody and unprepared both in dress and attitude that an invite out if more of a burden than a joy. Ugh, who dares invite me out at 5:30 on a Saturday for a family BBQ? The NERVE! Kids are both a blessing and a curse in this situation - and you will learn to manage social functions with a baby or 3 but there is a steep learning curve and a high price for admission -> and turning down invites will become more regular. As will not feeling bad or guilty or envious of it. My party is at home now. And it leaves me with no hangover (well an emotional maybe).
Let's face it - new kid, new routine, new feelings, loss of connection to wife and friends, and a new lifestyle.... you stand the risk of gaining weight. I sure did. Initially pre first baby I was really skinny and blamed it on the need to "fill in". But all that was bullshit. It was excuses to eat whatever the hell I wanted to. By the time kid 3 was born I was bloated and disgusting. Guys, kids food is not low calorie or on that special diet of yours. But, it is highly accessible, DELICIOUS, and comes in bulk. So, the caveman in me stocked myself up for the coming eternal winter and I gained some padding. Ok, more than some. While my wife could attribute a few extra pounds to baby weight, she shed a lot of those when the baby was born. I, unfortunately could not do that without surgical help. It's a slow progression and hard to see when you're contentedly mowing through the mac and cheese kids didn't eat on their plate (waste not want not!) but at some point I saw a picture of me and said- f*@k, this is how I look?
It takes a while to come off too. Time is a precious commodity and carving out that time to work on yourself, while important, is hard to fit in on the schedule but equally as hard to justify taking time away from your family and makes you feel guilty. So you don't go. And eat more. And get fat. sure did. And while not at my peak weight gain I still have a lot of work to do. Thankfully, the kids are more into my foods now so meals are easier and I have kids now that can entertain themselves to free up some personal time for me without the guilt. And, as a side benefit, I don't care to have a six pack anymore. While it would be cool, I'd probably give my kids a concussion or tailbone fracture if that part of my body was rock hard because they are so used to it being their own personal trampoline. And mentally, I'm not in the dating pool anymore. My focus is not attracting a mate, it's keeping one with a good balance and staying healthy so I can be a provider. Yeah, I still want to blow my wife away with my svelte figure but I don't have to have veins showing on my abs to make that happen (they don't call me swivel hips for nothing).
Have I learned some things, absolutely. Am I still learning? 100%. But am I in a better place in regards to expectations - for sure. With a family and kids, life isn't ever predictable. But I was so not prepared for how unpredictable I would feel with it all. If there is any advice I would pass along to new parents or dads it would be to mentally prepare yourself for loss. You have gained so much with a baby but you lose so much too (for better an worse). It wasn't the presence of a new baby that threw me so much for a loop as the loss of the support structure I built up. I hadn't built me up for me, I built me up for others and once those others were temporarily displaced I was lost. So, find yourself, find what drives you and focus on you, and prepare for loss. That's it, that's all folks.
Today, we are expanding on some faulty beliefs in the world- previously we spoke about The Assumption of Ability Theory. Today, we are diving head first into The Assumption of Proximity Theory.
This theory, like many other, is multi-faceted, however the general idea is this:
"The Closer you Are to Something, the Less Likely You are to Achieve It."
I know. What?! But hear me out. I have found this theory has its lessons in two main areas of life.
So lets dive in and explore how the Theory of Proximity can (and will) affect you:
1. The Theory of Proximity and Time:
Time is relative - a famous man once suggested this and, as we near the speed of light, time ceases to exist at all. However, for us mere mortals only orbiting the sun at 25k MPH we are subject to the shackles of time. This portion of the theory suggests that the closer you live to something (appointment, business, etc) the more likely you are to be late or not on time. Why? Because the Theory of Proximity said so, that's Why! But realistically, it is likely due to the negligence of time (which, as we discussed is not negligible until you're at the speed of light). You see, for any given trip out of the house there is a set time required to exit the house. Let's call that Prep Time or PT for brevity purposes. Then, there is Travel Time or TT for short. In any given trip:
PT+TT= Total Trip Time (TTT)
Let's take two different scenarios and break them down, one is a quick run to the store which is 5 minutes away, and the other is an appointment 45 minutes away.
For the first trip:
PT(5min)+ TT(5min) = TTT (10 min)
For the Second:
Now, you see the prep time doesn't change. But, the trip time does and therein my friends is where the Theory of Proximity is most apparent. You are far more likely to be late to trip #1 than #2. Why? Because when we break it down, Trip #1's TTT has 50% of it's time as Prep Time. In Trip #2, only 10% of TTT is Prep Time. The error comes in believing prep time will always only take 5 minutes. If you have kids, and if you're reading this, I reckon you might; you understand that prep time is variable at any given time. Usually, prep time (which should be constant) extends far beyond the realms of normalcy due to defecation, urination, lack of outfit preparation, snack, water, stuffy, pokemon cars, or indignation, you name it, if it can cause a problem it will. Every minute of delay will have a 10%+ effect on the duration of the time in Trip #1. Whereas in trip #2, the prep time, even if it's delayed by 5 minutes will only have a 4-5% increase in TTT which can easily be made up through a healthy speed and good driving tactics. As a physical therapist whose life revolves around appointments, it never dails to amaze me how many folks who live just around the corner are 5 minutes late and those who live 30 minutes away are 10 minutes early- this is the Theory of Proximity in Action.
2. The Theory of Proximity and Location:
This one is a little more simple to understand I believe: The closer you love to something (attraction, event etc) the less likely you are to see that something.
I know. But here is the thing. When we travel far distances, we make the effort to go see the local sights and sounds because we traveled and put in the time and effort to get there. However, when you are local the assumption is "it will always be there" and we put it off in lieu of going on another vacation abroad taking in other sights and sounds. I lived in Colorado for 25 years of my life and never once did I tour Rocky Mountain National Park. Yes, I did lots of other things, but the classic tourist trip... nope not yet- it will be there when I get back. Same for me in Arizona. 10 years (this July) in this state and I've yet to see the Grand Canyon. I know. But it will always be there....
Now this theory gets broken when there is a time limit placed on things such as a concert, one night only, or a week long event because that creates urgency which forces action. If there is no urgency, the local, proximal activities/events etc will fall to the backburner.
I would love to hear how the Theory of Proximity has affected you in your life- comment below of catch me on social media and let's chat!
Facebook: Search Dads Can Blog Too
Happy Father's Day!
To all you Dads out there, keep on keeping on- you deserve recognition for your timely, lackluster, and poor taste in jokes as well as all that the internet doesn't celebrate about you!
Yes, the internet views Dads as this likable but bumbling character doing his best to raise great kids but ultimately overshadowed by the matriarch of the family, THE MOM. We are useful, handy, and downright annoyingly needy on top of the kids, but we manage to win the hearts of our young lady every time through sheer determination, charisma, geekiness, and likely pity.
Dads, we are the XFactor that holds the family together. Ultra strong, water resistant and more than likely permanent, we also spread this Xfactor excessively thick and the majority of it ends up foaming out the cracks creating gooey off-yellow clumps for everyone to see. No, we aren't perfect, but we sure as hell aren't going anywhere as we are bound by something tighter than love - Gorilla Glue (or duct tape). Yes, our intentions are pure but our ways are questionable at times. In no specific order, here are my top 3 roles that I take pride in as a Father:
1. Chief Destruction Engineer Supervisor -CDES- (and part time Clean-er Upper)
It is no secret that the house gets messy when you're wrangling kids. Multiply that by 3 (plus one oversized child) you have chaos on the brink of disaster. As CDES, I have the strict duty of managing the fine line between fun and destruction. I take great pride in my ability to have an incredibly fun time with my kids blowing up pirate ships with fairy dust created by a rift in the Lego Time-Space Continuum; However I take even greater pride in knowing when to seal that rift up and call a team huddle to clean before mom gets home to avoid the ultimate burning question in Marriage: " What DID you do all day?". Wives apparently don't understand that preventing a black hole from being created right here in the living room is important stuff and that, without our heroic efforts, there likely wouldn't have been a home to come home too. Someday, she might understand - until then I stand as lead CDES with pride.
2. Head of Aerial Engagement
Kids like to fly. They learn to walk, look up, and realize their bipedal efforts are in vain when they seen a bird effortlessly cruising the wind. As a Father, another of my main roles is to lead the charge in teaching my kids what flight feels like. This ends up in hours of counting down from 3 to a sudden forceful take off in which children fly far too high for their mothers comfort only to land, nestled safely back in the warmth of a cushion-y dad bod safe and sound. For maximum effect this act is repeated well over a hundred times in any given session. It always ends in tears because there is no good time to stop your high altitude pursuits and rarely do children understand the pain of repeated overhead throwing. It can also appear as training for take off in which, by holding hands, one spins at an incredible rate of speed to allow the child's feet to fly off the ground and rotate around like a helicopter until centrifugal force or nausea forces us to stop. (Pro Tip, go both ways, clockwise and counter-clockwise to avoid unnecessary symptoms).
3. Auditory Enhancement Specialist
A life without music is no life at all. As a Dad I understand this concept and embrace it. Whether it is dance sessions in the living room to Macklemore or love ballad blasting in the Dad-Van to Taylor Swift or Katy Perry, us Dads have the important role of making sure our children's musical appreciation is always at an 11. There is no time like the present to introduce the kids to Trampled by Turtles, Tom Petty, the Beatles of even Outkast. Yes, the Top 40 is important, but if the kids don't hear the classics sung off key, with likely erroneous lyrics, are they really even living? This is yet another critical role us Dads play in the life of our children. It's tough, but someone needs to do it and we rise to the occasion. In my mind there is no greater compliment or tearful pride-inducing statement than hearing your child say, "Dad, let's pump up some jams!".
So there you have it - the Top 3 most important Roles a Dad has- all in honor of Father's Day. I know there are lots more critical roles like this our there- I would love to hear what yours are in the comments below!
If you're celebrating, make it a good one! Cheers!
Sorry for the time off folks! I was feeling relatively uninspired for a period of time there but damn, nearly half a year? Someone should have told me to get my shenanigans together and put something out before the cobwebs gum up the website! Thanks for sticking around, and now, for our feature presentation...
I was sitting on the couch, end of a long day, chatting with my wife about all the nuances in our day while the Real Housewives argued about yet another thing quietly in the background. When, all of a sudden...
"Dad, I'm scared. Can I go sleep in Mom and Dad's bed?"
"Yes Honey, but you need to go to sleep... I love you. *turning to the wife* Anyway, so I had this patient today who was...."
"Dad! I'm pooping! Can you wipe me when you're done?!"
"Yes buddy, just let me know when. *again turning to the wife* Anyway, this patient was having some strange symptoms down his leg..."
"DAD!!! MOM!! I need water!" (this is first scared child again)
"Ok honey come get your water bottle."
"NO. Can you do it? I'm scared to get out of bed."
*more sighs and a possible under the breath curse"
"Yes honey just a second... (possibly said through clenched teeth)"
So I get the water to scared child number one and sit back down to chat with the wife.
"Well, this patient had this leg that was, like twice the size of the other one..."
"DAD I'M DONE!" (this is pooping child number 2)
"I'm coming buddy. One sec."
*gets kiddo cleaned up and back into bed*
Has anyone else had nights or days like this? My wife talk in short bursts and code anymore. It's a beautiful evolution of the English language to be able to communicate only through 2-3 word bursts. These days in my house, disruption is the norm. It's not something that ever stops. I often wonder if anyone else has children that literally NEVER stop moving. It's fascinating and terrifying all at once. I can't imagine not having our kiddos the way they are, but in the same breath I wonder how long I can keep up before my body and brain give up entirely.
These kids certainly keep me my toes. And my wife and I wouldn't have it any other way at the end of the day. But when you're in the thick of it, when you're really hitting that wall, a steady stream or vebal diarrhea sometimes isn't the most welcome - My brain can only handle so much and trying to finish dinner, deal with a screaming baby that wants to touch the hot pan, someone singing 'The Greatest Showman' soundtrack at volume 11 and a 3 minute verbal essay on the finger points of the Gible evolution in Pokemon; sometimes you just need a break. Daddy needs a time out.
But, then I recognize that this is likely just a phase. And pretty soon, they won't want to talk to me at all. I reckon at that point I'll be begging and screaming for them to interrupt me with something just so we can have a dialogue.
So I've been trying to embrace the chaos and interruptions rather than resent them. There will be time to talk in full sentences to my wife. There may not be a lot of time before my children stop thinking I'm worthy of their attention. So I'm going to hang on to this as long as I can.
Can anyone out there relate?
It is a New Year. As you can imagine, here I am, sitting in my sweats, (sans underwear of course) knee high socks, and a hoodie sipping Champagne and rehashing the past year as well as planning for imminent success in 2019. Ok, so it's coffee, not Champagne, but I shook it up real good so there are so bubbles in it. So what does any good blogger do on New Years Day? Create a public goal list of things he wants to accomplish in the coming year of course! Then, by virtue of the internet, it will magically come true because, accountability!
Or, maybe not.
Maybe I'd rather share the lessons 2018 taught me that I'm carrying into 2019. Maybe that's where this blog needs to go. But before I do anything, I need more coffee (insert ellipsis here to share a visual representation of time passing as I go fill up my monkey mug)...
2018 was a year of growth. Both personally and professionally. This isn't my professional page and I barely can stomach the laughter when my name and professional are used in the same sentence- I'm an overgrown, overqualified child. That being said, we will focus on the personal side to spare you all.
In all seriousness I learned a lot of things about myself this past year.
1. 35 isn't a death penalty: I'll be honest, I struggled with turning 30. Bad. Feelings of lack of accomplishment and unclear drive filled my mind. 35 was a little more gentle but I still struggled. I am a doer. And I rarely turn around to see what's been done, only what more there is to do. I'm not there yet. So, my mind likes to focus on the lack of accomplishment rather than the piles of success behind me. That being said, 35 has lots of promise. I feel more secure in me as a person, better as a dad, and a more qualified husband. 2019 will hopefully be a continuing trend of what I can do better, but also a celebration of who I am and where I am at in the here and now.
2. "You've got this.": Seasons come and go in life. in 2018, we had lots of seasons of change. From a new baby to so many business changes you couldn't count, to struggles on the homefront both emotionally and physically. But there is something that I have found this past year: confidence. Nothing so far has killed me. And despite the nasty times, I found myself a way out and I survived and dare I say thrived. It is hard to see when you're in the mess, but there is not a doubt that 2018 helped me understand, "You got this."
3. I am okay with me: This day and age it's hard not to play a game of keeping up with the Jones's. Social media makes everyone's life look so damn good it's unbelievable. And honestly, my day to day, ain't that glamorous. It's a lot of damn work and fatigue and stress and arguing. I catch myself wanting what others have. I catch myself resenting what I don't have rather than focusing on what I do have. And I think that's very normal. I saw folks who had a high school education make serious money while I am dripping in debt from school but highly over qualified. I saw folks take trip after trip while I was glued to the business and work and felt guilty every day I wasn't present. I saw people falling in love over and over again and living their "best life" while the wife and I hammered out the day to day and just barely kept it together with sweat blood and tears. I got to watch other peoples kids learn how to ride a bike, or read, or tie their shoes while mine still use training wheels and velcro (kid envy is a real thing parents, so beware). On the surface, it can get overwhelming to see and struggle with all the things you AREN'T. Especially with the kids. I want my kids to keep up. I don't want them to be left out because I failed to teach something as a parent.
But I also need to step back and realize everything I have. And that is something 2018 taught me the most of- be grateful for what you have and be ok with you. And I am, I am ok with me. I have a ton of debt, but also a very fulfilling career. I have a kid who won't ride without training wheels but who can build legos and craves knowledge and books. My wife and I don't have a lot of photo worthy moments, but the best times with her are when we aren't camera worthy anyway. So I appreciate the clarity of this year teaching me, "I am ok with me."
So, 2019, here we come. Lessons learned and carried forward. So for next year? What do I strive for?
Of course, a better diet, exercise more, and have fun!
Just kidding. For me, the biggest thing I want to work on is patience. With myself, my family, and my life. And yoga. Cause moving regularly is cool.
What are your goals?
"Wait a sec. Hold my beer. I can do that."
Usually some famous last words for an adult who is rehashing high school dance moves or (even worse) gymnastics. Typically, with minimal warm up and no practice an adult will attempt their signature move, or what defined them in years past to disastrous results. This, my friends, is falling victim to the Theory of Assumption of Ability (TOAA).
What is that? Well, it is an observation that I have slowly shaped into a theory after watching many folks in my life (myself included) as well as those I serve (I'm a physical therapist).
The basic premise is as such: We, as humans, assume that we have the ability to do (insert activity or task) as our previous highest level until proven otherwise.
Often, this is a physical task. Cartwheels are a fine example where I have seen folks injure and re-injure themselves in an effort to keep up, prove wrong, or impress their children and friend. Honest to god, I have seen no less that 5 patients whose injury came from cart-wheeling alone. No joke - think twice before you launch into that move!
I have found that the TOAA has two main branches:
1. Assumption of Ability in Planning
2. Assumption of Ability in Execution
Let's talk 1 the TOAA In Planning:
Planning. In this branch, folks will often assume that they know the intricacies of a procedure or task so well (after all, they did it in high school, how hard can it be?) that they fail to plan for it. This often results in poor outcome including failures to even complete said task. Some items that can fall into that category are: car repair, putting together a childs toy, driving directions (especially coming to the hometown), tent building, musical instrument playing, and more. The TOAA in Planning can wreak havoc on any well laid plans, so beware.
On to #2, The TOAA in Execution:
This is the TOAA classic scenario. Much like the cartwheelers in the above paragraph, this portion describes the ability to perform a task well beyond physical capabilities. However, because the subject used to do it in years past, the human assumption is that time, changes in flexibility, gravity and the loss of youth has no effect whatsoever on the task's completion. This results in hilarity for the observers, pain and humility for the participant and potentially a viral video on the interweb. There are successful Youtube and Instagram Channels built around the TOAA entirely.
I see this also come to life in my clinic on a daily basis; whether it is the sheepish patient coming in who flared themselves up after trying something over the weekend with their kids or when questioned about how an injury limits them. For example, we have our patients fill out questionnaires on their injury and their ability to do tasks. Nearly every time, the first survey filled out has markedly higher scores than the second, despite the patient reporting they are getting better. Why?! The TOAA. That's why. These patients have the assumption of ability until, once in the clinic and tasked to perform an activity, they find out they cannot. The resulting 3rd or 4th scores are likely much more in line with #2 and progression. I have often considered simply throwing that first score out citing human behavior error.
Want to see this in action? Ask around for folks who have good balance. And then challenge them to stand on one leg for one minute. The TOAA in Action!
As many of you well know, I am a huge Mumford and Sons Fan Boy.
And if you didn't know, they just recently dropped a new album!
I have been skeptical as their last album just didn't quite do it for me. They used too much synthesized drums and beats and lost that grittiness that I came to love about them in their first two albums.
But, I am happy to say, Mumford is Back!
Don't get me wrong, there are still synthesized elements on this album, but it isn't as annoying and overwhelming as it was on the previous album. It's just different. It seems like Mumford is going the more polished synthesized route, but I'm impressed on their ability to bounce back with some really great music.
It opens with a nice little organ and harmony that will get your blood racing if the voice of Marcus Mumford does it for you.
Their first single, Guiding Light is great radio fodder to be overplayed but the real meat and potatoes of this album is 42, Wild Heart, and Delta.
If you're a fan of the first couple Mumford albums, this one will tickle your ears quite nicely.
Check it out on ITunes HERE.
After slogging through summer, it is finally here- the Fall/Winter Beer Season. In my correct opinion, it is, in fact the most wonderful time for beer! The days get a little cooler, the beer gets a little darker, little more mysterious and likely aged in a barrel with black magic added in.
For me, nothing signifies this season more than Sierra Nevada's Celebration Fresh Hop IPA.
It's like Christmas in a bottle- and signifies so much more. This goes back to c. 2008 when I was residing temporarily in Northern California. My roommate (and now good fried) Marc introduced me to this gem while I was there. Since then, every year this beer signifies the changing of the guard from summer to winter beers and the promise of a new season. It means Thanksgiving is upon us and Christmas will be here soon. It means family, friends, and good times.
This year, this beer is classically hoppy, piney, and slightly spiced (as Sierra does well), but this year it is a little maltier than I remember from previous years. But, as it always goes to show time and time again, it tastes like Winter is finally here and good things are coming.
Cheers everyone- what beer (or beverage of choice, alcoholic or non) signifies that winter is here for you?
Maybe it is the holiday season quickly approaching, or maybe it is because my birthday is coming up, but I find myself answering a lot of the, "What do you want for...?" questions from my loved ones. And sure, I give the stock answers such as underwear, socks, a 200 HP pressure washer, love, respect, and beer making supplies. But, those are simply the stock answers. They get that every time they ask me such a question- almost an unconscious, routine response. So, this year, I sat down and racked my brain to find out just what do I need for these holidays. And, the top 5 list below is what I have come up with that myself as a dude and a dad, could likely always need (and won't be on my stock response list):
Duct Tape https://amzn.to/2PTbJSY
Paper https://amzn.to/2JZA705 https://amzn.to/2AX2JUL
Velcro Tape https://amzn.to/2RKXJbi
Reliable Phone Chargeer (anker power) https://amzn.to/2SZLby9 https://amzn.to/2AXO4so
A long, reliable phone cord. As a dad, I don't have time for a dead phone because the cord tip got eaten by my robot vacuum that my son is obsessed with and wont turn off. No, I have to catch magical moments such as my daughter pushing my son in his Cozy Coupe around the neighborhood or my other son running around the house in his skivvies singing a random song about why he has nipples on camera. I have to have something to keep me updated on the games score. Or get me A to B (because I could have found it without GPS but since I have it I'll use it). No, time waits for no dad when it comes to magic in the household. Always being prepared and charged is critical. In my perfect home, every outlet has one of these bad boys in it. It will no longer become "Where is my phone charger?" but rather "Where ISNT my phone charger?". If you want to get in on this type of security you can get it for iphone HERE or Android HERE. Plus, they're braided so that pesky robot vacuum can't eat them for breakfast.
I shouldn't even need to write something about this one - duct tape is universally needed. Like air, food and water, it is right up there with needs, not wants. Much like the time-space continuum, the amount of things you can do with this tape is almost incomprehensible. From building your own shoes to making a wallet to removing warts and saving astronauts, it is something every dad (hell anyone really) needs to have in his car, garage, briefcase, gym bag, fanny pack, or European carry-all. Get yourself this feat of the human condition HERE and start changing your life today.
Paper. A seriously underrated tool for the dad in all of us. Not just for note-taking anymore (although I frequently do) having these on hand in a variety of situations may just prevent a mutiny or uprising of the wee little ones. With this simple legal pad you can draw a character, write a story, make paper airplanes, masks, play tic tac toe, hangman, and much more. Stock up folks before they're gone because this, and you can mark my words, is THE CHRISTMAS GIFT of the year. Beat the rush and get yours HERE. Oh, and don't forget the Pens.
Now this is where it gets really, really good. Really good. So good I almost (and hell, may still) write a blog on this product alone. I accidentally stumbled upon this gem when in the garden section of the local home improvement store. THE GARDEN SECTION. Congrats on niche-ing down, but seriously, limiting it to the garden section is a sheer waste of opportunity. Let me say it. Velcro Tape. One more time: Velcro tape. It holds things together. AND IT IS REUSABLE! You can hold cords together (no more zip ties!), hold toys together, use glue them to a mask and actually have it fit your kids head without tearing or not fitting. I mean, the sky is seriously the limit with this. And it tried to limit itself to the garden section.... ha! You've been found out Velcro Tape, prepare to be a star!
You know I have to include this on the list. This is my shoewear of choice. But, not just some trashy indoor slipper, these beauties are all weather and reliable. You can wear them to the office and just as easily dress them down for a night in with the lady. Or, simply pop them on with shorts (and socks if you prefer) and rock them to the store, wowing everyone in the cereal aisle with your classy sense of style. I literally spend more time in slippers than I do in underwear. And, this particular pair, will last you a long time - mine are 3 years and running- perfect broken in, just like a good pair of jeans.
So there you have it - my not so expansive list of the top 5 things all Dads need in their life. I hope that you found it as eye opening and life changing as I have - enjoy!
You're reading this. So, somehow, you survived being a kid and the dangers that haunt early childhood.
It seems that even in this over-protected, helicopter parent type of world, kids still get hurt every day.
For instance, my son, Jude: He finally did it, he finally fell off the bed.
Somehow, no injuries or even scar to tell about it. I consider this a rite of passage in my house. Like growing your first armpit hair or shaving, or even losing your first tooth, you haven't passed my childhood test until you've fallen out of bed at least once. I can remember plunging off the top bunk into the abyss 4.5 feet below and coming out of it unscathed. I know my brother did this countless times.
But that's what I'm talking about. How does one survive early childhood. I'm not even talking about the minefield that is school, high school, love, and beyond (that's another blog for sure).
Surviving being a child (and in my current scene, a child with 2 other siblings to distract the parent) can be tough, but is it this toughness that defines us later in life?
I can vividly remember the first time I was scared for my son's (Owen) life. I was putting away dishes, and him, being a helpful little toddler, was removing items as fast as I put them in. Sometimes helping Daddy isn't helping at all.... but that is neither here nor there. It is cute at its core, but really frustrating when on a timeline to get tasks done. Anyway, here I am putting dishes away and turn around - and my son is wielding a knife the size of him. I mean, it was huge. (as a disclaimer it likely wasn't as big as I remember, but as fish and knives go in stories, it gets bigger with time).
So here I have this toddler, so innocent, attempting to duel me. It's awful how scared you get- , you can just yank it away, you or your kid might get cut, But you gotta get in close. You dig deep, go tactical, and get your best mission impossible on to get close enough to this somehow perfectly classically trained knife fighter (how kids learn knife skills is beyond me) and secure his knife hand enough to distract him with a rice krispy treat and encourage him to go the way of light.
For Cora, it was on a walk. We had a wagon and Cora loved to ride in the wagon. So, later in the night as we are on out evening walk, pause to grab the mail and Cora attempts her first swan dive. Head first. There is the unmistakable sound of when a child's head hits the pavement. It sounds like a cabbage that someone heel stomped on the ground, a wet, squishy, and sickeningly softish sound that can only mean trauma. Cora, leaning out of the wagon went head first in the pavement and then her legs scorpioned over her head and she landed on her back. As a physical therapist I knew immediately that this was it, she had a brain injury, a spinal cord injury and she was a goner. She had a goose egg forming on her head so fast it was a baseball by the time we got back to the house. And then it happened. She smiled and stopped crying. Just like that. Took a damn header into the concrete and just rallied like nothing happened. Seriously? I'm having a heart attack and you're laughing?! Turns out kids are stupid flexible ( they are made of cartilage of course) and no spinal cord or head injuries were sustained (I did all my concussion testing).
It shocks me how kids survive, but it impresses me too. It gives me confidence in all my erroneous parenting ways that my kids will be alright in the end. And that gives me hope. I just pray it is with all their arms and legs and toes and other digits.
How have you challenged your child's survival skills?
I just recently finished 'reading' the book, "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k". I say "read"because I actually had an audiobook rather than physical one, but I got the info regardless. If you're like me where time is a premium, audiobooks are the way to go (I put a link to Audible below if you want to try it out).
I. Loved. It.
Now, certainly, the title is a bit abrasive and might rub a few folks the wrong way, but this is a book you must read for folks who have too much going on in their lives (pretty much everyone, right).
The whole premise of the book is that we must choose what we care most about, and prioritize thos things. In a very rude, crass, and sometimes vulgar way, you learn how to better your self. You can't care about everything and have everything to give. It's a wonderful tongue in cheek book about life lessons and making good choices. He sets the stage by discussing values, and that if you're not happy with the 'f**ks' your giving in your life, it's reflective of your values.
One of my most favorite parts is the discussion on problems and how some folks have it so good while other folks have it so bad. The author, Mark Manson, is not subtle about telling those whose problems are so bad to pony up- but also to open your eyes to the fact that everyone has problems. his line goes something like (and I paraphrase) "You don't get rid of problems, you only trade for better problems - everyone has problems." The viewpoint of these problems again goes back to the value discussion earlier in the book.
If you're looking to laugh your way to self improvement, I recommend checking out this book- I really enjoyed the audio version because the fellow reading it has a great way of getting the exact tone out of the words from the book and it is hilarious.
I've included the link for the book below (left) to link to amazon as well as the audiobook (below right) and a link to check out audible (audiobook program) if you're interested!
It's been a hot minute since I first met my wife. To set the scene, it was a hot August as a fresh faced pre-pubescent (I look back and realize how young and naive I was- and I thought I was cooler than the other side of the pillow) physical therapy students gathered round to being a new journey in PT School. There was excitement, nervousness, fear, anxiety, and some let's get this show on the road feelings swarming around. There is always some awkward forced conversations as you start finding out about each other and realize there are people you want to keep talking to and folks who you know you'll likely not continue a relationship following school. And that's ok, if you were best friends with everyone in your class you'd be a liar. Nobody gets along with everyone.
However, I did find I got along well with one young lady.
Yikes! She was something else. Initially, I don't think it hurt the situation that she had a very flattering figure which was well accented by her outfit (she was very well dressed - part of who she is). In any relationship I think physical chemistry needs to be present.
So we started talking. A lot. To say it became mildly addicting to be around this young lady is an understatement. She made my heart beat fast. Real fast. By now, I knew that to be called Tachycardia but at the time, It felt more like love.
There were times we spent sitting. A lot of time we spent talking. And not about school, although that was a common topic. These times are the times where I solidified my decision that this young lady was likely going to be mine for the long haul (i.e. Forever).
It would be usually later at night. After the gym (what's that?!) She would come over to my swanky bachelor pad of mismatched furniture - it was a 1 bed, 1 bath apartment that often, due to neighbors smelled of fresh tortillas and weed. My upstairs neighbor, a fellow named Little Hawk, was a 2-3 AM DJ for the hard rock station. He hosted this out of his room. On volume 11. Annoying at the time but a great story to tell. As a side note, coming from a house with 4 other dudes to going to live by yourself is amazing-you'll put up with rock music, Mexican food aromas and the occasional joint being lit in your presence for the freedom that solo renting provides.
Music taste, to me, is like a vetting process. At some point, if you can't appreciate good music, you're out. You may be pretty, but you're out. Anyhow, we would sit. I had the gumption to purchase some off brand white wine, which we drank out of coffee mugs (hand me downs!). And we would listen. .
To music. Lots of music. Dishing on how we know this song created this memory, where we were when we first heard this song. How we loved this, or hated that.
We created playlists and sat, listening. Simply enjoying each others company. (Occasionally I would cook for her, but my real culinary renaissance occurred after moving out of the state). Something that we still do to this day. Sometimes while the kids are up, but often after the kids are in bed we pull up YouTube and stream some tunes- each taking turns on picking our favorites. Of course Ashley's taste run more to the 80s and Country (new and old) while I am ingrained in pop punk era and classic rock. Which is why I chose the name of this blog as MakeDamnSure. A popular song at the time by Taking Back Sunday it resonates as it was one of the first 'cross genre' songs we could agree on. We listened to this often. And every time I hear it I'm taken back to my used couch, in my gym shorts, sipping wine out of a coffee mug singing with Ashley. Time and time again we sat, bonding, growing, understanding and learning through music. It was amazing. It was times like these that made me DamnSure that this was the one I was taking the long trip with. And, What a wonderful trip it's been.
What songs take you back?
I am happy to announce that I was again voted as one of the top Dad Bloggers for 2018 by the Baby Spot!
If you want to check out the article, check it HERE.
Kids are tough to raise. That's not new - not only are they independent creatures who have minds, plans, and intentions of their own, they also are completely dependent on you. And that haunts us. It keeps us up at night wondering if we did the best for our kid and if we are raising them appropriately in this hypercritical and uber-sensitive world.
There seem to be a few different types of kids in this world: the people who have forgotten what it is like to have kids, the folks raising kids, and the folks without kids (and let's divide this last group into younger and older). The first two groups always say 'Children are a Blessing' and 'Don't blink, they grow up too fast, savor it.' I think this is, in part, due to us hoping that by repeating it like some self help affirmation, we eventually come to believe that it is true*. We band together with our logo print tees reminding everyone out there that we are a mama or a dada and that we operate on coffee and love. We even wear shirts that sport our favorite hashtags because, by reminding everyone else with our trendy threads, we eventually end up reminding ourselves that this is all worth it and we did want this. And damnit, we are going to look good picking up the lego pieces off the floor in target while your daughter mops it as she wallows in pity because she couldn't get a new. All the while your son is having a sort of panic attack because he just dropped his lego lab he spent hours building and couldn't, despite what wise old dad said, leave it in the car - it was just too important. Yeah, So damn important you dropped it and it exploded into a million (literally, there must be a million) pieces in the line as we are set to pay creating a traffic jam of epic proportions. #blessed
*It is, in fact true, but sometimes hard to appreciate in the finer moments of toddlerhood*.
In these times, the kiddos can often be overwhelming. And you must be careful. They can smell your weakness. One must always put on a brave face and a stern (but warm, because you can't be an ass to your kids) voice and remind them or the consequences of their actions and how that will affect them for the rest of your life. "Don't pick your nose. Why? Because it will bleed. And it probably won't stop, you'll end up hemorrhaging out so much blood you'll die. That's why." See, stern, but warm.
All this time, I thought this was just a major part of raising kids. The instagram tells us that it should be easy and you should look beautiful and effortless doing it. I have personally not found that to be a true reflection of life but maybe I'm the outlier. Often, when I get home from work I immediately change into slippers and sweats and resemble more of a homeless person than parent. Although, I suspect some homeless people are parents...or at least their sign says so. #anythingwillhelp #godbless
While on a trip to Colorado a few weeks back I had my naive, infant eyes opened to how the 3rd group views us parents (the no kids one, older and younger). It blew my damn mind. It came in two waves and ultimately changed my parenting style forever (a paradigm shift if you will). The first wave was with the younger folks without kids - we pull into the parking garage at the airport. Excitement is buzzing-we are going on a trip! I was solo Dad for this trip, so the burden was heavy (literally, CO in the winter makes suitcases multiply!). The kids, amped up, are doing their best to be patient while dad gets all the suitcases out of the car and figures out how he can possibly get tabs on his kids and carry all this at the same time. Then, it happened. Two young, twentysomethings dressed up as though they are going to a business meeting at the airport (what is it about everyone dressing up as formal as possible to fly?) stroll by and observe the current scene unfolding. A plane was just taking off above us so the background noise was intense. I heard it as much as I saw it - one twentysomething turned to the other and said, "That sucks. I hope I never have to do that." The overhead plane had passed so now it was awkwardly quiet and they just kept click-click-clicking away with their fancy heels and tiny designer bags. They probably were just going to carry on. I was a bit miffed at first, because, yes, it did suck - but I was more mad that she turned the mirror on me to see the situation. I don't think she meant anything mean by it. It wasn't intended to offend, merely an outsiders observation of what could be in store for them it they didn't use birth control and protection and make good choices in their lives. If you don't have kids and are reading this- kids make you do a lot of things you don't like to do, like check bags. Please use protection if not for that one reason. Nothing in your life will be efficient ever again if you don't.
The second wave came as We finally managed to get into the terminal, check our bags and were prepping for the next hurdle in our journey, security. Did you know they make you pull out every bag of snacks you're carrying? As a well prepared Dad backed up by a Mom who knows how to pack snacks, this was no easy feat. I steeled myself, took off my belt and slippers (yes I wore slippers to the airport) and prepared for battle. An older lady (group three, older folks) must have seen the look on my face - she quietly walked up to me and said in a southern drawl, "Honey, why don't you just go in that line."
The line she was pointing to was empty. A sign above it read "TSA, Pre-Check, and Passengers with Disabilities Only".
She nodded her head approvingly, "Go ahead."
I moved my stuff over and the attendant nodded as well - "Don't worry about taking anything out - and you can keep your belt and shoes on. "
It was at that moment I realized it: the rest of the world views having kids as having a disability. Kids are a Disability! Of Course! I had always suspected it but was afraid to voice it too loud because nobody would approve of that language. I felt vindicated, understood, and justified. The more I looked around, the more I realized it - people at restaurants nodding their heads as you walk by with two kids - they supported me because I was overcoming the adversity of a disability (kids) much like Eddie the Eagle. Boarding flights everyone in the seats we were passing were smiling and nodding - looking me in the eyes (which never happens without kids) and showing me they were proud of me, that I could do it. I was waiting for a slow clap to happen, but it never did. Sadly. It all made so much sense. I'm not raising kids, I'm overcoming adversity!! How did I never see this before?!
So, if you're out an about, held up in a checkout lane in Target due to a child making floor angels and a lego explosion you may have more insight into the backstory and have more compassion. And, if given the opportunity and a parent of children is near, please don't be afraid to start a slow clap for them. There is nothing like a slow clap to cement the hero status of a parent.
Please note this was written as tongue in cheek. In no way do I intend to offend anyone who has a legit disability.