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Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
3 years, 6 months.
In my extremely limited ability to understand the concept of eternity and life after this, sometimes I subconsciously and erroneously tend to think of Heaven as a place where I could just exist in a state of unconsciousness and it not affect anyone else; void of responsibility or pressure to perform.
Sounds like I’m not the only one in that boat, after reading the comments on the Facebook page for Parents.com when they featured my story, “Daddy’s In His Quiet Place Right Now.”
Many fellow parents (understandably) laughed at the concept of a modern day parent having any escape from the overwhelming pace of life that kicks in once you become a parent.
I used to be extremely optimistic, like all the time.
But those were the days before… responsibility happened.
That was before I was truly feeling the pressure of what life (AKA “the real world”) actually demands from a person.
Of course, I also remember feeling lost, alone, and unfulfilled back when I was still single. Not a coincidence.
That’s because with great blessings come great responsibility; and therefore, stress.
A job, a wife, and child are all blessings. However, I’ve learned to begin equating the word “blessing” with “responsibility.”
Now, before I sound like I’m going off the deep end, I want to balance this with the other side of the story.
Earlier last week, I was at of one of my good friends’ house, hanging out with him on his front porch, while his family was out of town. We talked about how nice it was to be able to “unplug” for brief moments at a time like that.
Then we talked about how if life weren’t this chaotic, and if we as dads and husbands weren’t overloaded with responsibilities like we are, we would go crazy.
Without a regular dose of being stressed out, I get stressed out.
It makes me think of a line from one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs, “So Much To Say”:
I say my hell is the closet I’m stuck inside.
If in this exhausted (and limited) state of mind, a seemingly reasonable version of Heaven would be a state of unconsciousness, void of responsibility or accountability, then it makes sense that my concept for understanding hell would be a place where I was conscious, alone and bored out of my mind, with no responsibility or accountability.
I’ve heard the saying, “too blessed to be stressed.” Yeah, I’m not sure I agree with that.
Because the way I see it, if I am stressed, then I am blessed.
Otherwise, I would be searching for a life without responsibility, which is what I had before I had you, Mommy, a full-time job, and two part time jobs.
And back then, I felt incomplete.
These days, I can honestly say I never feel incomplete, or alone, or not needed, or unloved. I say stress is a good thing, if it traces back to responsibility and blessings.
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
2 years, 11 months.
In the midst of a dozen other bloggers at the GM and Buick headquarters last week in Detroit, it was discovered that I was the only one there who… doesn’t have a smart phone.
(Just so you know, back in the year 2013 when I wrote you this, that meant major cool points were deducted from my street cred score.)
I sincerely laughed along with my fellow blogger friends in their amazement:
“How is it that the daddy blogger of Parents.com doesn’t own a smart phone?”
We all laughed even harder when I explained to them that my “dumb phone” is brand new… I just got it like three weeks ago.
The fanciest feature my phone has is a full texting keyboard. Yeah…
But the more we talked, it made a little bit more sense to all of us: They all blog as their full-time career, whereas I have a day job in HR, in addition to blogging.
Second, I don’t know that my psyche could handle a smart phone. It would totally mess with my internal feng shui.
The thought of “being on all the time” stresses me out. I need time to mentally rest and meditate throughout the day.
In addition to driving you to school each morning (1 hour), working at the office (8 hours), then driving us back home (45 minutes), then helping with dinner and cleaning up afterwards (1 hour, 15 minutes), and writing to you (1.5 hours), it essentially means I work all day long.
What I would love is a routine, whole, solid day off each week, like the Seventh-day Adventists practice… religiously. In so many ways, I already live their lifestyle and subscribe to their doctrinal beliefs.
However, I’m not ready (if ever?) to be so literally serious about taking 24 hours off from any kind of work, as instructed in the Ten Commandments.
So until then, not having a smart phone is my sabbath.
It’s my way of having sanity throughout the day- to not have to wait and wonder who might have Tweeted me or sent me a Facebook message or emailed me.
Until I become a VIP, I will continue living with as much peace of mind as I can, not having a smart phone.
And more importantly, not having to pay for Internet on my phone when I already have it here on my $290 ASUS laptop from which I write to you.
I’m going to stop talking now, because I am losing street cred points by the minute…
[Changes batteries in Walkman Cassette player and continues listening to Collective Soul.]
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Saturday, December 17th, 2011
Last night, in a completely believable dream, I lost a tooth for no good reason. I thought, “With this being the weekend, how am I going to get this fixed?” Then I lost another tooth, and then another; it was like a falling house of cards but with most of my teeth instead.
This has been a reoccurring dream I’ve been having since I graduated college; but now, as a dad and husband, it’s so much more vivid.
Dreams are interesting in that they reveal something that our subconscious is trying to sort out while we are asleep. When I Googled “dream about losing teeth,” the most consistent interpretation was not that this dream tells of a preoccupation with one’s vanity, but instead an ongoing worry about money.
Do I worry about money? I’ve said it before, “I hate money.” I’m the kind of guy who could never buy a brand-new car. I refuse to pay for cable TV; surviving on the 8 dollar a month Netflix package through my Wii. At least half of the clothes I wear are over a decade old. My iPod was bought refurbished off of Amazon.com 4 years ago and its screen is completely covered in a spider web-like crack.
But while I don’t care about money, it’s pretty obvious that my subconscious knows something that the rest of me is not so aware of: Like a lot of people, I’m sort of terrified on a daily basis of not being able to provide for my family; of being without a job, again.
Yeah, I know it- that’s nothing knew. Most people throughout the history of the world have felt that way. It’s what drives the free market.
I’m not assuming I have a unique story, but I do feel scarred from my not-so-distant 4 month stint of unemployment. I call it my “Vietnam.”
Perhaps another reason I keep dreaming about losing teeth is the fact that my personality and skill set have led me to a life where quotas and statistics matter.
I’m horrible at math, science, or anything technical. But when it comes to carrying on interesting conversations, influencing people’s opinions, and translating engaging thoughts into blog form, I’m your man. That’s one thing I can do with confidence.
Or is it?
Both my “real job” in sales where I’m on the phone all day in an office and my “side job” writing for The Dadabase on Parents.com have something very serious in common: My performance and livelihood are measured in numbers.
At my sales job I am highly pressured to “meet quota” every month in order to remain employed. As for daddy blogging, the pressure is applied by myself, not my editors, as I check my “views” at the end of every day, hoping to see that more readers are tuning in to The Dadabase than the week before.
In fact, it’s my personal goal each day to write a Dadabase post that beats August’s, “The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin.” Nearly everyday, it remains the #1 viewed post.
Despite not being a numbers guy, numbers measure my income as well as my sense of career accomplishment. So yeah, it’s a wonder I don’t dream about losing my teeth every night.
If only in the dream I could remember to read this exact blog post so I could remind myself that I didn’t really lose my teeth and that it’s just me subconsciously worrying about money again.
Then the only dreams I would have to worry about then would be the ones where I wake up completely bald or where I’m only a few weeks away from graduating college but forgot to attend that final math class all semester.
I was an English major. You do the math.
Image: Man in Santa hat, via Shutterstock.
Speaking of not worrying and just being happy, it’s time for a book giveaway. Hurry Less Worry Less at Christmas, by Judy Christie, is a book to help us get out of that frenzied, out-of-control frame of mind that we can find ourselves in during the holidays. This book helps us begin to have a deeper understanding of the joy of the Christmas season and how that can be a starting point for a more abundant life in the New Year.
Want a free copy of this book? Just be the first person to A) leave a comment on this post saying you want it and B) send me an email including your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
As a parent, I learn to find calmness by embracing the chaos; mellowness through the madness.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post questioning why statistically one out of every five people on Earth, both locally and worldwide, smoke tobacco; despite an often negative social stigma; despite addiction; despite the smell a smoker becomes accustomed to yet non-smokers find offensive; despite the fact that cigarettes are the leading cause of house fires and fire related deaths; and despite the fact it’s an expensive habit. I was simply curious and uneducated on what I was missing out on.
One of my former college roommates at Liberty University, James Nasman, explained it in a way that actually made the most sense, through a very short and simple comment: “There’s a certain comfort in routine.”
It took me nearly two weeks to finally let that soak in to where I can understand it and now apply it to my life. I started thinking about my own daily routines that I subconsciously rely on as forms of comforting structure. Like the way my wife and I say a quick prayer each morning before we leave for work. And how I ride my mountain bike to the nearest Starbucks during my lunch break to read whatever the newest book is that I will be giving away next here on The Dadabase.
Simply going to work everyday, despite it being work, is a comfortable routine. So is driving back and forth to work everyday. So is that sub-par cup of coffee at work to start the day. They are all part of my routine, and in some basic ways, I rely on them.
We are wired in a way that we enjoy positive, unexpected rewards in life. I think that’s part of the thrill of checking our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Of course, when it comes to life’s negative surprises in life, we actually need some sort of vice to be able to handle them. For me, one of my most reliable devices isdepending on the routine itself as a way to have control over it.
Parenting is stressful. If not, you’re in denial as you are attempting perfection and are nearing a nervous breakdown but just don’t know it yet.
I openly admit and confess my parenting stress. But I remember just how normal the craziness of parenting has been- for thousands of years and for billions of people throughout the course of time.
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Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
Something I have learned in my adult life so far is that when I am offered more responsibility, it’s almost always the best decision to take it. Sure, there is such a thing as wearing yourself too thin by agreeing to too many things, even (and especially) with church activities, but that’s a whole different story. When the company I work for asks me on short notice to leave for a trade show which begins two days after returning from my vacation, or I realize I can save an errand and $20 by activating our new cell phones myself instead of going down to Verizon Wireless, I do it. Responsibility is an important key in maturity. And maturity is a key to quality of life.
Hence, parenthood. Responsibility is almost always attached to loss of time, space, and freedom. But there are certain life experiences that can never be known and certain character elements that can never be built until responsibility is tackled head on. Of course, when any person adopts a new important role in their life, it means they will consistently make mistakes while doing it (since new life experiences don’t usually come with a detailed user’s guide). And those mistakes become the actual footnotes for every future reference.
I am prepared to lose my sense of freedom, my time, my space, and especially my sleep. I am prepared to make mistakes constantly, yet learn from them. I am prepared to become more responsible than I’ve ever been before. Most importantly, I am prepared to be more blessed than I’ve ever been before, as well.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
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babies, baby, cell phones, church, dad, dad from day one, details, elements, fatherhood, freedom, parenting, pregnancy, responsibility, responsible, sleep, space, stress, time, Verizon Wireless | Categories:
Storytelling, The Dadabase