Rule # 71: When in doubt seek structure

Rule # 71: When in doubt seek structure

Throughout your life you will find yourself lost at different times. Lost, unable to find direction or purpose and it is in these times you will feel like your life has no meaning. When this happens you will be most vulnerable to depression and self-harm.

When you lose focus life becomes scary and lonely fast, its is all too easy to become buried in self doubt- confidence is one of those things that just seems to disappear if not feed a steady diet of affirmation. Even simple things become hard once start rolling down the slope of uncertainty.

The important thing to understand is you are not alone or strange for having these feelings. It is a certainty of the human condition that there will be times when the next steps seem impossible to find.  Nothing is more certain than uncertainty.

I have been in bad relationships, they starts with lack of clarity  about someone’s feelings towards you and leads to you doubting yourself. Simple things like buying groceries or picking out clothes become unbearably hard because of over thinking every action. The gift of intelligence can become a curse as we try not only to understand what we are doing but how it is interpreted by others. Its hard believe but in these dark times of uncertainty things like deciding on the right pair of shoes paralyze you from leaving the room. And this is from a man who only owns four pairs of shoes at time.

At times we need to accept our stupidity and our lack of control of the world.

When these clouds of uncertainty and fear appear on the horizon we need to seek structure.

As a father of 6 and the owner of several businesses with large amounts of debt I have felt the pain of failure and uncertainty. There have been days when the choice between loafer and oxford seemed far more difficult than differential calculus. Where I start at these times is to add structure…simple structure and keep adding it till I get my feet level.

It starts with setting the alarm, 6am everyday, including weekends.

Then regular bedtimes, forcing myself to be in bed by 11 pm. Sleeping and waking may seem like very silly things, but they are at epicenter of find  a lost footing in life. Start with this and all else will follow more easily.

Sometime we need to ask for help. A spouse, love one, friend or sibling are good choices. But ask for help if you can’t find a starting place.  Saying ” I think things are not headed in the right direction in my life, and I need your help” can be very powerful words.  I think its important for all of us to realize that we have a bit of a submissive side to ourselves, and accepting direction can be both rewarding and powerful. Ask for someone else to hold the lead while you find your footing. Asking for help may be the most important, and yet hardest thing you do.

And keep giving into structure, the more lost you feel, the more structure you add. Add regular exercise and  be fanatical about it. Add routines such as clothes washing, grocery shopping and other activity to a increasing defined and rigid structure, you will need certainty in your life. We all secretly crave structure and certainty in an very uncertain world – these routines can bring back confidence and safety to our lives. Not that we all want to be dominated ( unless you are into that sort of thing…just saying) but we all crave certainty. Knowing what happens next. Alarm clocks and schedules help give us that.

Three thing is our lives move us in the opposite direction from the structure.

Unhealthy people. People with addictions, bad habits uncentered lives want to drags us into their unhealthiness. Beware the enabler, the person that is equally lost but tries to convince you giving up is your only option.

Alcohol and drugs. For short period of times we can self medicate ourselves out of the pain of uncertainty by drinking or using drugs to mask the confusion in our lives. Just because we blackout doesn’t mean the problems won’t be there in the morning.

The internet. Yes the internet. The consent stream of stimulus and response from web searches and online interaction can make you feel that virtual in good. Why seek friends if there are is an unending supply on Facebook? These friends are here 24/7 , 365 days a year, their raw availability gives us false sense of certainty. When lost the worst  place to turn is the web.  I don’t care how many likes and re-tweets you 140 character of wisdom gets, it doesn’t give you a moment of pure confidence pure structure will give you. Try a month of non- internet  during these times of uncertainty- trust me Donald Trump and Beyoncé  will still be there when you come back. So will 2catrule.com.

The world is a scary uncertain place, setting your alarm, going to bed early and regularly and living a structured life will bring you the confidence and purpose you have lost. I’ve said it earlier in the blog, but few things make you feel more confident than making a bed.

 

 

 

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Rule #93: Snowflakes Melt- don’t be a snowflake

Rule #93: Snowflakes Melt- don’t be a snowflake

Rarely do things go my way in life on a day to day basis, adversity is part of my daily existent. Things break in the house, kids get sick and I don’t get over half the business I try to get .. in short most of the time day to day existence in life in is a grind. Yet, I am profoundly grateful  for the life I have been given.

I wake every morning to new opportunity. As my weight will attest I do not want for food, shelter or basics needs… that first level of the Maslow Pyramid is covered by a warm blanket of certainty that has been their since my parents place on me the day I was born. I was born into privilege, not just the white kind, but the broader deeper one of being blessed by having good parents who loved me and gave me the confidence to know that all life has to offer us is a blessing from God. I don’t feel guilt for that blanket, but feel deeply grateful.

My kids don’t yet think of it in the spiritual context I do, but they understand the concept well. I was talking to them during Christmas time and asked them why they have the confidence to do the things they are doing, and they said “it is because it will always work out”.  That doesn’t mean they won’t fail, in fact they have the certainty that they will have a failure in their life. But they know, truly know, that if they stay focused on doing the right things, caring for others and themselves they will find a way past these failures.

When Stephen told me he was leaving for his doctorate work at the University of Hawaii and had no housing arranged as he boarded a plane for the 5,000 mile trip I was far more worried than him. He knew he had options ( which he used) of hostiles, YMCA  and other places until he finalized his arrangements 45 days later. He not only survived, he thrived, knowing that he was going to get through it.

Bobbi and I did not raise snowflakes that melt with the first warm beams of adversity. We raised strong independent personalities prepared to deal with life’s pressures without becoming a puddle of disappointment. We encourage them to take risks, and when they failed we taught them to shake it off and keep moving.

Yesterday Abby was talking to me about a couple of her schoolmates complaining about grades in school, she told me that her advice to them was to ” keep moving”. She gets it. Our children do no fail by not achieving a goal, they fail by giving up and stopping moving forward. Motion in our lives is what matters, not the stumbles that happen on the path. I for one have very skinned knees ( and a metal one) from my journey so far and expect many more falls.

Life owes us nothing, we are entitled to nothing- everything we have is earned or loss not by an unfair world, but by a world that recognizes that we aren’t entitled to anything. Often I become discourage by perceived unfairness of the world, the “why me” moments of life. Then I step back and realize I’m not that damn important, and am lucky to be here and have the opportunity to keep moving.

In 2017 I have had friends who have started battles with illnesses, illnesses so significant they would melt a 500 lb snowman, let alone a snowflake. Yet these friends tell me “God has a plan” and ” It will all work out the way it is meant to”. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t fighting back everyday against illness, they just fight the fight with two clear understandings – that they are not in control, and that they will end up where they are suppose to be.

I worry about the world because I see people becoming more and more entitled, demanding more protection and guarantees in life. They no longer trust that their efforts will lead them where they’re suppose to be, they now want certainty and no failure. They want guarantees for healthcare, education, housing, food- they want a life free of worry and concern.  What they fail to understand is that the worry about those things is what drives us forward to our destiny, it is what inspires us all to get up every morning and face the day with energy and excitement. Fear and need motivates us.

You didn’t get the account. Your spouse wants a divorce. Your car broke down and you can’t afford to fix it. You get cancer. Your company lays you off. Shit happens deal with it, and move forward. You are not a snowflake you are a blessed by God and have the opportunity to move forward. You will not melt. Keep moving.

 

 

 

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Rule #88: Guilt is no aphrodisiac

Rule # 88: Guilt is no aphrodisiac

In keeping this blog I try to share insights to my children when they are revealed to me.
I make effort to keep the rules practical, leading to specific life advice that can help guide them in their life decisions.

I have watched several of my kids deal with breaking up with girlfriends or boyfriends. Through my words and action I have instill a strong moral sense, and the desire to do the ” right thing” in my children’s lives. I’ve seen the kids enter and leave relationships with the desire to be seen as the “nice guy/girl” and not hurt anyone. This desire to be liked and to be kind may seem like it good thing, but it may not be so clear.

One of the proudest moments of my life was when my son Collin said at the Thanksgiving table during our annual ” go around the table and say what you are thankful for” rituals that he was Thankful to have a stepfather that was the most honorable man he knew. That made me feel really great, but also worried me.

Had my process of protecting the family, and taking the high road put too much of a moral burden on my kids. Because the simple fact is that in breaking up with someone who doesn’t want be broken up with is a messy painful process. Moral high road can become  impassable, filled with fallen trees of the relationships past failures.

There is a line spoken by Dorothy in the movie Jerry MacGuire that sums up the problem pretty well. It is when she is explaining to Jerry why they have to end the relationship and why they have to walk away..

“My need to make the best of things, and your need to be what, “responsible”… if one of us doesn’t say something now we might lose ten years being polite about it.”

I may have taught my kids to be too polite in relationships.

Through my example of “responsibility” and what Collin called ‘Honor” I have taught them that you have fight for your relationship and work through the hard times. I taught them that men don’t run, they stay and fight for their families. Which is true a lot of the time, even most of the time. Just not all the time.

If you are staying in a bad relationship or a unhealthy relationship then the honorable thing may be to leave with grace. If the reasons you are staying are no longer centered in love and caring for each other, but are now driven by a desire not to hurt someone or out of guilt – leaving becomes the healthy thing to do.

The degree of responsibility increases dramatically with marriage and kids, so in the early relationships that do not work its important to act quickly.

You can’t find romantic relationships through guilt, guilt is no aphrodisiac. Guilt is often the unhealthy -having you stay with an abusive partner or a dangerous person. Guilt can sacrifice your personal happiness for the pretend  happiness of doing no harm.

Damage people often fight dirty, find guilt in your pass actions, threaten harm to themselves and others. Damaged people can make you feel very guilty and ashamed.

In relationships you will find yourself with damaged people, who’s weaknesses sometimes don’t appear till under stress. In these new relationships its important to understand that being honorable doesn’t mean you ignore all the stop signs and stay with unhealthy people. Its being truthful in your emotions, and honestly saying what you believe. Sometimes the most honorable thing to say is “this isn’t working for me” or ” I don’t love you” or ” I don’t want the same things you want”.

Honor is complex, its not always being the nurturer or protector, sometimes its being the person brave enough to say its over. Accepting that life isn’t about being seen as being the nice guy to others, living with honor is living your life truthfully and fully.

Speak honestly, kindly and directly- the rest will take care of itself and you will find true honor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Take a Mulligan 2016

Take a Mulligan 2016

I try to not be too political in my blog which was intend for a guide book for my children’s lives. I know that political seasons change, and generally this country has had effective committed leaders through both parties- and it generally all works. Not perfect but works.

This years election I have struggled as I have seen poor behavior at such a degree it explains how Jerry Springer was once elected Mayor of Cincinnati. We have found the lowest common denominator and it is zero. I don’t think we can’t lower the bar any further. We have one candidate that can’t seem to help himself from saying stupid crude crazy things, and the other that can’t seem to tell the truth. The third party candidates can’t even name one world leader. We as a country are in deep do-do.

So I am taking a Mulligan.

Yes we need to pick up the ball and everyone pretend we never hit into the swamp. We need to all agree that we can do better on a second swing, after all how exactly could we do worse?

I’m urging my blog followers to write in MULLIGAN as their choice for President of the United States. Vote for the rest of the positions, but let’s write in MULLIGAN to show both parties that we are disgusted and ashamed of the choices they have given us this year.

They can do better.

We deserve better.

Send a message  #Takeamulligan2016

 

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Rule #111: Motorcycle Rule

Rule #111: Motorcycle Rule

I follow a rule about asking questions in life, I never ask a question where “no” is not an acceptable answer.

If I intend to buy a motorcycle, and I am just being polite to Bobbi and asking her before I do it, I just don’t ask and just do it. Because in the end if she said no I’d ignore the answer and do what I want anyway. So why argue a point which I am unwilling to concede?

That rule sounds very harsh, but it is very seldom used and it says a great deal about the questions I do ask. The rule may only come into effect once every couple months, and I don’t want to give you the impression that I live my life doing whatever I want, when I want- I’m married, of course I don’t. I couldn’t be married and never ask for permission, advice or just opinion.

When I do ask Bobbi about that motorcycle I am fully prepared to accept her answer being no, and drop the issue. If I wasn’t prepare to accept her denial I should not have insulted her by giving her the impression that I was looking for her decision.

Too many of us go through life asking for permission to do things so that we can blame our decisions on another, or lack of action. We use these questions to mask our true feeling for something and feel less guilty about getting what we truly want.  Its a shame but most of us spend a lot of time asking questions we already know the answers to, or never doing what we really want to do because we think we have to ask permission.

In a real way it has made men, in particular, appear weak and indecisive in a marriage. Instead of planning or acting men spend an significant amount of their lives asking permission do things. This pattern of asking questions that we will be unhappy with a no answer is what is leading to a lot of unhappiness in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong I thing women have a lot to do with this problem.

Bobbi and I have a routine that we will get into the car and I will say..” where do you want to go for dinner?” , and Bobbi will reply ” I don’t care and you pick”.  Bobbi is lying when she says that and she really doesn’t meant it. Rather she wants me to guess at what she wants until by sheer luck I say the place she wants to go. In my experience  all women do  this , and I believe it is a technique to train men to only suggest places they will like and forego all their own choices. Women are evil that way. ( and very smart)

Bobbi has done this so long I don’t think I could even remember a restaurant that I truly love, but know the ones that she does. I also know the ones to suggest when I am in trouble that will instantly get me out of trouble.  For me agreeing to a 3hr Melting Pot experience can get me out of most misdemeanors of marriage.  As I said before women are evil, and men are pigs.

So there is a real art in asking questions. I  believe in really listening to answers, and that when I ask a question I am trying to learn from someone else. I think we have to relearn how to talk to one another, and focus more on the important questions.  Too much of our lives have been centered on being able to shift responsibility by asking a question rather than to shift direction in thought.

As I have grown older I have tended to act faster and ask only the important questions. It may because I see that as time becomes increasing limited, and I have less time to argue over things I am going to do regardless of the answer to questions.. In the later years of my father’s life he would say, “I’m set in my ways”, I now understand that meant he was done asking permission or questions.

Don’t worry Bobbi I have not ordered another motorcycle or gotten a tattoo….yet. But I do know that your answer to the question already.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule #133 : Tell no one – Debbie Wasserman Shultz Rule

Rule #133 : Tell no one – Debbie Wasserman Shultz Rule

Rarely does life show such a clear example of one of our family rules. I felt since she went to such great lengths to show what not to do, the rule has to be named after her- so thank you Debbie for such a stunning example of what not to do

Let’s talk about secrets- everyone has them some small, some large- things about our lives that we basically want to keep private. It may be something as significant as a past crime in a misspent youth, or something as trivial as dying the gray out of your hair, but it is something you want to keep private. You don’t want the world to know, you want it to remain something your keep to yourself.

The first rule of keeping your secrets safe is to tell no one. This is the safest and guidance to follow, and the one that absolutely guaranteed to never fail. If this is something about you that you do not want known, do not share it. Don’t share it with your wife, your trusted life long friend, you parents or priest- keep your month shut and it will remain a secret. A secret can only be exposed by telling someone else.

The second rule of secrets is that if you can’t follow the first rule only tell one person. If you need this second rule you have already failed at keeping the secret, but if you feel a absolute undeniable need to tell someone else- limit it to one trusted friend. But know in doing so it is now likely that your secret will at sometime will be disclosed.

People don’t intentionally violate secrets, but they too have their one trusted friend that they may share something with that is personal to you. People tend to become more careless with other people’s secrets turning them into gossip or stories- sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose.  People aren’t built to keep secrets or they would be born mute. The ability to communicate has been a weakness in human secret keeping.

Personally I tell my secrets to my dog Nittany. Unlike my other dog Piper who is a gossipy bitch, Nittany knows how to keep a secret and can’t be bribed by peanut butter or walks. Piper would give me up for an old milkbone and table scraps. Even dogs can’t be fully trusted.

The third rule of secrets is there is no third rule.

Telling more than one person makes it no longer a secret and you should assume that the whole world will eventually know.

Debbie pointed out in her actions the third rule also means you don’t write down, record even in code the secret. And above all be sure never, ever to email anyone your secret. Emails, even on private and secure servers are no more safe than writing messages on billboards on Broadway. Communicating confidential information by emails is just telling the world that you are stupid. Do not use email to communicate secrets.

Bill Clinton has lead a life of loving women, some he was even married to at the time. But I have to admire his ability to avoid using emails and text. He claims he has only send two emails in his entire life, and for his lifestyle that is probably the right amount. I would trust Bill with keeping a secret, especially his own. This is a mark of a two term president.

If for some reason you did not follow rules one or two, and your secret is now exposed there are two directions to take and you must quickly chose one or the other and not both. Option one is to deny. If you have assessed the situation and followed rule one  there should be no one that can collaborate the story and your truth is as good as anyone else’s. Deny, and continue to deny until people get tried and go away. They will eventually go away.

The second option is what I call “so what”. So what that I lied, so what that I cheated on taxes , it is all in the past, and the past is the past and none of it matters. Of course it does really matter, and actions have consequences but the “so what” defense plays on the fact that everyone carrier some degree of guilt. Pretending that its all meaningless dredging up of the past is a good way of deflecting a secret that has come into the light.

The one thing you can’t do is blame it on someone else. Debbie’s , ” its the Russians fault” will fail because it is obvious to everyone that you had lied, got caught and now want to blame it on someone else. It didn’t work when you tried to get out of trouble by blaming your big brother for a larger crime, and it won’t work now. Boogiemen are rare in this age, and no matter how the truth got out pretending its someone else’s fault make you look like a bigger liar.

Debbie’s emails should be a reminder to all of us that something’s are best unsaid and to kept a secret. Good luck Debbie, I think its going to be a very long week for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Its a Girl!

This one is for Andrew..

Ok its not a rule, its more of a declaration – It is a GIRL!

I attended my first “gender reveal” with my son Andrew and his wife Ashleigh. So sometime in late summer the world will welcome my first grandchild, and we now know with certainty that she will be a she.

“She” is a powerful word in our families. There are families that have a variety of women in them, but the Hill  family have a long history of remarkable women in them. Women who are fearlessly independent and strong willed. Women who don’t take crap from others, and are fast to call a spade a spade as they are dealt the cards of life.

Our families’ women can be difficult, opinionated and at times challenging.  These woman can be demanding, setting high expectations for themselves and the people around them. They can be exhausting at times, taking every ounce of patience you have to offer. I guarantee there will be times when you are ready to give up and run far away.

Everyone of them- your mother, wife, step- mother, grandmother, aunts and sisters fit this description, not a go-with- the- flow girl among them.

Andrew,you have a great responsibility to the world and to these women, especially your future daughter.

Don’t Give up because your daughter enters into long line of very special women.

These are the women who will stick by you regardless of you being in a financial crisis or a bar fight. They know how the swing a mean pool cue.

These are women that will help you solve problems, and not look to you to be the solution to all of life’s challenges. They will pick up the shovel and help you bury the bodies and give you good alibis. (Trust me Bobbi knows where all the bodies are buried)

These are women who will love you with their souls, not just their hearts. I know my daughters have made me feel loved as completely as a man could be, and one of the great certainties of my life is that I am loved by them. These women give you that certainty- it is wonderful.

Andrew know they need you.

Your daughter will need you to teacher her to not settle or to be defined by her sex or by others.

Your daughter will tell you she can handle anything, but secretly need to be told that everything will be ok and he hugged so she is certain of it.

You will cry when they she falls and cheer when she gets back up.

Men in these women lives have to be strong and confident, we have to be both caring and tough. But the rewards are amazing, and seeing your daughter grow into a confident ( difficult) Young woman will be the defining part of your life.  They will bring you to your knees but lift your soul to heaven. Being a father to one these strong women is a blessing beyond all others.

Enjoy it all.. Every smile, tear, heartbreak and accomplishment. It will be the ride if your life, hang on tight and enjoy it.

 

 

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Rule# 91: Enjoy the meal

Rule# 91: Enjoy the meal

I just left a wonderful Italian restaurant after enjoying a long meal with friends. It was a unique restaurant in New Hope, named “Italian Cucina”, where there is no printed menu and everything was presented a course at a time. We arrived for an early seating, and the owner sat with us and told us his story of how he and this restaurant came into being.

Joe told us the story of how past failures and a heart attack lead him to developing this cool experience of great food and friendship. It was a slow, lingering meal which everyone at our table loved- we will be back.

It made me realized that it took me almost 57 years to relax and enjoy a meal.. It took me that long to take the time to actually listen to an owners’ story and know his name.

I was always a fast food type of eater. Food was a means to an end, I was always in a hurry to get to the next thing, barely tasting what I was consuming. It wasn’t about what I was eating, it was about what I was going to after I was finished.

When I was in my 20’s I was always in a hurry to get where I was going. I graduated college in 3 years, doubling up on courses and going summers. I then went right into grad school first at Drexel then at St Joes finishing with a CPCU and a masters before I left my 30’s. It wasn’t so much about learning as much as passing the courses and getting to the next thing. Normally people take 4 or years or more to get the CPCU, I of course wanted to get it in 2. Not enjoying it as much as consuming it, barely tasting the experience.

I had my first house a 26, the second a 27  and the third at 29- each bigger and better than the last. Some happened so fast that I barely remember living in them. I treated everything like it was a race- checking off mile markers as I passed them. I was on my own personal race, and although to most people it looked like I was winning I wasn’t enjoying any of it because I was off to the next meal.

I made my first million about the same time I had my third child in my early 30’s ( that would you Stephen). To get there I had to work two or three jobs- doing things a diverse as working at night at tennis club and setting up new Toys R Us’ in the mid-80’s. I worked nights, weekends and traveled constantly with my businesses. I got there really fast, even though I didn’t know exactly where I was going. In fact the faster I went the more lost I became, unsure of where this was all leading.

Fortunately you kids always had a way of slowing me down, making me experience the moment- forcing me to realize that it was relationships that mattered. If it wasn’t for you guys saving me I may of missed the whole dinner. I think my obsession about family dinners and meal conversations come from the happiness I felt at those tables. It is those moments with my kids that saved me from the drive through window experience of life. You kids and those meals saved my soul.

My regrets in life at 56 now stem mostly from failures of building deeper relationships with people encountered in that race. I was offered friendships from business partners like Mike and turned them down because I did not see them for what these offers were..offers to enjoy what was happening. In the case of Mike, God gave me a second chance for this experience and I try now to spend as much time understanding his life as the business this time.

Greg my business partner invites me to his lake house often, and in  3 years I have not gotten there. Getting to that house and building  relationship is now more important to me than making the next sale or closing the next deal. -(Greg warm up the pizza oven, Bobbi and I are getting there this summer)

I think I focused on the accumulation of things and accomplishments because it made me feel safe and validated. I neither attended my MBA graduation of my CPCU designation, I picked them up in a dead run and moved faster. The validation I felt was always short lived because no matter how many businesses I started/ran ( by my count 32) or raises I was given it never was enough because I wasn’t tasting them as they went into me. I charged to each new thing with the misguided thought that when I got MBA or got the next promotion things would be feel better, that I would find happiness- sadly they left me empty and confused.

God gave me in my second wife a demanding woman who has brought real joy to my life. Bobbi is a woman who does not sit in a corner well. She is constantly reminding me that the stuff we accumulate means nothing if it isn’t about the people we experience though. She forces me to slow down and chew my food of life. Without my kids and her I would have never found happiness.

Abby being born special with Asperger’s makes me learn to view the world from an entirely new perspective. She forces me to understand that sometimes a meal isn’t just about the eating. God does that to us, when we think we figure it all out, he slaps us in the head and says “slow down , that’s great sauce- enjoy it”.

I take the time to drive her to school everyday, and in each trip I have learned important lessons. She teaches me how to be happy everyday.

As a restaurant review I give this new place 5 stars, and a consumer of life I give myself only 3. My personal review is lower because it needs more heart, I need to enjoy the stories as much as the meal. My hope for you my children is that you accomplish many great things in your life, slaying many dragons.  But along the way take time to celebrate the victories with the people who believe in you, and enjoy a long Italian meal with them. I recommend the scallops and a couple bottles of wine- its BYOB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule #92: Forget the selfie

Rule#92: Forget the selfie

In life I think we all have bucket list, things that we would like to do before our time runs out. In my case it includes such things as drinking at Oktoberfest in Germany, riding the Orient Express and taking a cooking class at the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. They are experiences that I want to have memories of, and likely will not take a single selfie while doing it. I want to be focused on tasting the stein of bier, and maybe the attractive Kellnerin bringing 4 liters at a time to the tables. I want to be present in those moments, so that they become memories and not just Facebook posts.

When the Pope visited Philadelphia last year I watch in amazement as people came close to the Pope turned to have their face in a picture, with the Pontiff in the background. They were not experiencing the moment or feeling, they were focused on having a great Facebook post. It was a once in a lifetime moment for most of the people there, and except for the image in the i-phone many people didn’t experience it fully.

Don’t miss understand me, when Rachel goes to her prom I will be there taking the required 100-200 i-phone pictures and posting like the rest of the Archbishop Wood parents. But I want to make sure I experience the moment, and feel her happiness as she approaches graduation mile-markers like the prom. I want to experience the moment with her..not just the picture.

I think among the hundreds of ways that the Kardashin’s have ruined our culture, one that has been more damaging is obsession of getting in the selfie. The selfishness of everything in life being a photo-op has lead to a belief that we really don’t experience something unless we have a picture of it. Of course I believe the most damaging thing they have done is name that poor kid North, but that’s another rule for another day.

I have learned recently that being present is something that I have forgotten and that the selfie is reinforcing  the loss of opportunity. When I go to watch Abby’s rugby match tomorrow I’m leaving the phone in the car, and focusing on experiencing the game. I think the obsession of proving we were there has made experiencing these moments more shallow- I think I can do better, and that we all can do better.

My father lead a remarkable life and visited over 100 countries, he had incredible stories about each place he visited. I think the fact that he didn’t have the pictures to share lead to him being able to retell the story..each time with more color and emotion. Yea, sure sometime the stories became larger than the truth, but they were his stories and the emotions were very real. I’m sort of glad I have the stories and not the pictures, it would somehow make the experiences smaller. He told me of his visit to the Egypt and riding a camel, I know the picture would make the story much less wonderful than my mental image of that moment.

I’m challenging myself to experience my bucket list, my family and my life in less detracted, non-selfie sort of way. I think it will make my experiences and relationships deeper and I don’t think the world will miss many of my Facebook posts.

But I do want to warn you that I’m not abandoning the pictures and there will be postings of Rachel’s prom, Stephen’s graduation and of course my grandchild. But there will be a few less as I work and I urge all my children to as well, to experience these wonderful moments more fully.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule# 81: Take the stage

I’ve just watched by youngest daughter, Abigail, in her first middle school production of      “Beauty and the Beast”, and she did fantastic.

No, she was not “Beauty”, nor one of the major speaking rolls, but she was the best damn villager in the kingdom. She was at every practice and spent hours on her contribution to a wonderful show and experience, it was very important to her and our family.

As you all know I’m not a fan of “participation” trophies or giving people acknowledgements for just walking through the paces of their lives. I have repeatedly said that just showing up should be the minimum expectation, not a goal to be celebrated.

However, to take even minor role in a show isn’t showing up, its taking a risk and starting out.  The best things in life comes to us when we show courage, and it takes courage to be in any situation where you are put out in front of a group of people. I’ve been told that fear of speaking in front of a crowd is the most common fear. For a 13 year old girl overcoming that fear is an amazing feat of courage.

In Shakespeare’s play “As You Like it” there is a monologue by Jaques in Act II Scene VII that I’ve always like;

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances…”

The disappointments in life do not come from the failures on the stage, or by delivering a poor performance. The disappointments in life, the ones you regret at 2am in the morning while you are struggling to sleep, are the ones that come form the failure to take the stage in life. Missing a opportunity to be part of the play is the only real failure.

Abby’s blessing of having Asperger’s has taught me a great deal about life that I did not fully understand till she showed it to me through her unique interaction with her world. She lacks the limiting social cuing of fear of rejection that most of us feel, she charges into every new situation full of hope and confidence. She takes the stage of her life with the certainty of purpose that most of us search our whole lives to obtain. Its hard to fully explain to someone without an Autistic child but within all the limitations of autism is hidden the some remarkable gifts of truth and perspective. She see the world as a stage and is ready for the next act.

My hope for all my children that they see the world as this wonderful stage, and that the seize every opportunity to be a part of every act. The exits come much too soon, enjoy the moments and the limelight.

 

 

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