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For The Love of God – Laugh!

I’m not the first person to tell you this. Nor will I be the last (hopefully).

But laugh.

Laugh like your life depended on it because it does. Search out things that make you laugh. Find people who make you laugh. Look at the absurdity that your life can tend to be sometimes and just2014-06-15 17.53.01 laugh.

Laugh with friends.

Laugh with your kids.

Laugh with your reverend.

Laugh with the mailman.

Laugh by yourself.

Laugh at yourself.

Laugh with the check out clerk at Kroger.

But laugh. And while doing so, do your best to make someone else laugh.

Stress will consume you. Worry will deplete you. Laughter will save you.

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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How To Eat An Elephant

I’ve been told the best way to eat an elephant (although I’m not sure I would actually wish to do that) is one bite at a time. How many times have you looked at your day the same way saying to yourself, “Perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”

The mass of tasks that surround us from time to time can appear overwhelming and undoable when you look at it as a whole. If you’re like me, you see twenty things that need to get done and your system initially shuts down out of an inability to comprehend how you’re going to get it all completed. I actually find it odd that the more we have tohow-to-eat_an_elephant1 accomplish, the less inclined we are to attack any of it.

As a video director I work off of the same philosophy when filming. Often we attempt to capture too much with one shot which makes it impossible for the viewer to know what they’re supposed to be focused on. The best thing to do is to choose one subject, focus on it and blur out everything around it so you can keep your attention on just one thing for a while. Then move to a second shot when you’re ready. Eventually you end up with everything you need to put together the perfect story.

Same holds true in life. When you’re attempting to focus on too many things at once, the reality is you focus on none of it. It’s just a mass of information and your system simply can’t register it all at once. And so it shuts down.

So, make a list of things you need to get done. I know, “Really? A List? Who are you, my ex-wife?” But it works. Write down EVERYTHING that needs to happen. Pick a couple of small things, focus on them one at a time and then move on to something else. You may not get to everything in one day, but you’ll start to see things getting done which will motivate you to keep going. Before you know it you’ll look at all of the crossed off items and realize you’re capable of more than you gave yourself credit for.

The payoff, btw, is huge. The accomplishment of each task gives you a sense of moving forward and getting your life under control. Progress of any nature is empowering and it all starts with the first small bite.

 

 

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“This is her father. Who’s this?”

Of course I answer my daughter’s cell phone. Why deprive a young man of that moment we all feared as boys when the girl’s dad answered with “This is her father. Who’s this?”

Getting privacy on the phone when I was a teen was simply not even an option. We had one phone upstairs in the hallway androtary-phone one downstairs in the foyer. That was it. No cordless, no cell, no freedom. And it was a family phone. So when someone called, they knew just about anyone could answer it.

The same was true of the girls I called. RARELY did she answer it. Typically it was a sister or brother who would yell my name out for their entire house to hear. Or even worse. You got the dad. “She’s busy. Who’s this? What do you want?”

This entire concept of kids having privacy at the age of 12 with their cell phone is lunacy if you ask me. The more I think about it and the more I catch my daughter upstairs in her room by herself for hours on her phone, the more I think back and realize this is a simple answer. “Yes, you can have a phone. But it stays downstairs and any of us can answer it for you.” Let their friends know we’re watching and paying attention and still in charge. And above all remind them that they’re part of a family who cares about them and who they hang out with.

 

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Divorce, Electronics, Uncategorized

 

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Out Like a Lion

The weather across the US was without question some of the craziest I’ve seen for a March in a long time. Ironically, my life followed suit as this March was an equally blustery and unpredictable month. It wasn’t all bad so to speak, but trying to keep up with it was anything but easy. From a bizarre running injury that is just now
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rectifying itself to the wrapping up of several amazing, yet time consuming projects, my life had its own series of storms passing through. And I’m just now getting to start cleaning up in the aftermath. Being a divorced parent isn’t unlike the weather. Cold fronts move in. High pressure zones take over and directly affect temperature shifts throughout the week. Annual patterns or seasons begin to form. Clouds can move in and stick around for days. And then every once in a while the sun breaks through.

When nasty storms blow in, it’s easy to blame some of it on the divorce. Phrases like, “If I didn’t have to go it alone,” “If I didn’t have to be at three places at the same time,” or “Man if I could just lie down for 30 minutes,” all race through your head. But as I tell the kids over and over again, we all have our crosses to bare. Everyone deals with changes in the weather. We all have storms that come creeping in. Everyone’s circumstances create their own challenges every day. We can blame our hardships on those circumstances or we can accept our lives and make the best of it. We can fight the weather or we can learn when to just close the windows, batten down the hatches and wait until the storm passes through.

Over time you start to learn how to handle it all and you recognize that weather patterns emerge. Storms come and go and 1617519_10152239263967908_2132315710_oeven after the longest stretches of rain, eventually the sun comes up in the morning. It’s funny. I teach the kids to go jump in the puddles when it’s raining out (without lightning of course). So why not teach them to go jump in the puddles created by life’s rain showers? Why teach them to fear storms? Yes, we’re going to have moments when we’re overwhelmed by the damage done. We may emerge from our safe haven with a huge mess to clean up. But we need to be able to understand that as great as it would be to have 75 degrees and sunny every day, even Los Angeles has its share of crappy weather not to mention earthquakes. You simply can’t avoid it. Life is going to throw some crap at you once in a while. Some people thrive on the chaos, others not so much. But the reality is, if you want to find true joy, you have to learn to make the most of it and maybe jump in a puddle once in a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crackin’ the Whip!

As I’m writing this my kids are doing their laundry.

When you first get divorced; if your time with the kids is divided, it’s very easy to slip into the mode of letting the kids mess up the house while they’re with you and then just straighten up after they leave. But at some point you recognize you’re not doing anyone any favors. Trying to keep up with all of it is near impossible. It is at that point that you suddenly realize you’re doing your kids a disservice. The excuse of “well I want to make
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the most of our time together” doesn’t wash either. We are parents, not butlers and maids. Our job is to teach our children responsibility and how to fend for themselves. If done routinely and done correctly there should be plenty of “fun time” available after everything is done.

And so their mother and I came to an agreement that Saturdays would be for getting the house in order regardless of whose house it was. As the schedule worked out, flag football is on Thursdays, softball games / practices are all on weekdays. So the weekends are wide open. And so; laundry and house cleaning is now part of the Saturday ritual; not unlike it was when I was growing up. Only in this instance the boy is actually expected to contribute. (that one is for my sisters). Each kid is responsible for their own clothes and keeping up with their things.

On the list of chores:

Laundry: No more whining because mom or dad didn’t have the right pair of jeans clean when you wanted them. It’s your responsibility. The washer and dryer are there for the family. Everyone now knows how to use it. Each has a designated time on Saturdays to do theirs. No excuses.

Rooms: With the clothes picked up, the rest of the room can be put back together including the beds.

Dishes: Each person is responsible for their own plate, glass, silverware and one additional item off of the table. They get rinsed and put in the dishwasher (neatly).

Garbage: If the garbage can is full. Empty it.

Additionally; our kids are also learning how to cook and bake. They can make breakfast including scrambled/fried eggs, sausage, pancakes and muffins. They can get their own cereal out if they like, prepare 2014-03-22 14.29.13Mac & Cheese or Rice Cups if they prefer. So long as they clean up their mess afterward. As they get older they are constantly hungry. If you want something outside the routine lunch and dinner mode; have at it.

Some of you may be saying: “Well duh! What took you so long!” But my guess is that there are plenty of you who find yourself continually picking up shoes, cereal bar wrappers, empty Goldfish boxes and water pouches, popsicle sticks etc. Spending an hour every day doing dishes. Trying to make sure each kid’s clothes end up in the right closet after coming out of the dryer. Well. The reality is there simply isn’t enough time as a single parent to do ALL of it. Especially when there are others in the house perfectly capable of doing many of the chores. The larger message here is that they are not visitors to my home or their mother’s home. We are a family and as a family we need to work together to maintain “OUR” homes. This is not a bed and breakfast or a cruise and I am not Julie your Cruise Director.

It takes patience mind you. It’s so much faster to just do it yourself. So be prepared for clothes to be folded differently, dishes to be placed in a different part of the dishwasher, beds to be made haphazardly and so on. The point isn’t for it to be done perfectly. The point is for them to get used to doing it and be a part of the family that takes care of the house. Over time things will get better. Just get them involved. That’s the goal at this point. And for them to recognize just how much effort it takes to do it all.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go get someone to vacuum under the coach cushions.

What type of chore systems do you have at YOUR house? Would love to hear how other dads handle it.

 

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