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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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50 Things You Can’t Do When You’re The Father Of Tween Girls

50 Things you can’t do when you’re the father of tween daughters:

#1 Have enough hours in the day
#2 Win any argument that involves a discussion about Beyonce
#3 Be able to explain why according to Facebook you just listened to Ke$ha on Spotify
#4 Get more than three words in at the dinner table
#5 Forget what you were like when you were a tween boy
#6 Get a hug when you’re within 100 yards of school or any school event
#7 Be considered young
#8 Leave the bathroom door unlocked
#9 Their math homework
#10 Drink a beer at dinner without being asked, “how many is that dad?”
#11 Not cringe every time a story starts with a boy’s name
#12 Believe them when they tell you they watched the “clean version” of a music video on YouTube
#13 Have any recording space left on the DVR
#14 Leave any form of chocolate where it can be seen or smelled
#15 Go to the bathroom without checking first to make sure there’s toilet paper
#16 Have enough shampoo and conditioner
#17 Expect anyone to get any sleep during a sleepover
#18 Get them to come down for dinner without having to text them that it’s ready
#19 Watch any sporting event on television beginning to end
#20 Be considered cool
#21 Know where your iPhone charger is
#22 Speak about “rules of the house” without getting an eye roll
#23 Expect to find more than 1/2 a scoop of ice cream in the freezer
#24 Get a response the first time
#25 See the bathroom floor
#26 “Understand”
#27 Know whose clothes are whose when folding laundry
#28 Watch a movie on television and hear any of the important dialogue
#29 Lower the water bill
#30 Know what mood they’re going to be in when they get off the bus
#31 Get why their friends laugh when they both look at you and then at each other
#32 Make it out the door in under five minutes
#33 Understand what’s so funny about the videos on Vine
#34 Sit with them at the school basketball game they desperately wanted to go to with you
#35 “Know where the pony tail holders are”
#36 Sit down for more than ten seconds without being beckoned
#37 Sleep with your eyes closed on April fools day
#38 Afford to buy a “new arrival” at Banana Republic
#39 Be able to hear the actual artist on the car radio
#40 Have nose hair
#41 Be allowed to stand within twenty feet of them while in Abercrombie
#42 Trust tween boys
#43 Go anywhere without like totally embarrassing them
#44 Explain Bob Dylan
#45 Take life too seriously
#46 Drive by a stray dog without being told to pull over and pick it up
#47 Get the correct shade of concealer
#48 Explain life before the internet
#49 Go a week without ruining their life at least once
#50 Know what it’s like to be a tween girl

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in Daily Life, Divorce, Uncategorized

 

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A New Normal

There have been so many life altering changes the past couple of months in our household. And through it I’ve recognized an odd sense of calm overtaking me. Where I would expect to be much more anxious and stressed, I find I’m not really worried about the things that typically bring on anxiety. Sure I have my moments, but for the most part I’m just kind of rolling with it. Then it hit me. Perhaps my calmness is actually an internal belief that I’m dreaming and that at any moment I’m going to wake up and everything will be back to normal.

But then I’m faced with having to define normal. Honestly, I’m not so sure I want to go back to what was normal. It had become a place of negativity and cold. Like you, I’ve worked so hard to get to where I’m at. It normal12may not be perfect and there are still a lot of uncertainties. But managing to survive these past few years has created a new normal of sorts. One worth building on. There is new found internal strength. A strength and confidence I haven’t felt since I first set out on my own.

I remember moving to Los Angeles after college. Top down, 2,000 miles, driving alone across Route 66. I reeked of self confidence. There was no question I would make it. And I did. And then some. So at what point did I get so bogged down in self doubt and worry? The process was so slow and arduous, I didn’t even realize it was happening. Until I “came to” one day after signing the papers. It was then that I recognized how much negativity had entered my life. Only now have I been able to slowly peel back that layer and rediscover the power of self reliance.

You will get there. And along the way you will likely continue to have moments where you freak out about tomorrow. It is still a lot for one person to carry. There’s little doubt my ex experiences the same fears and anxieties. I can only hope she is also rediscovering an inner strength and a sense of calm as she builds her new life. Because it’s what our kids need. They need to feel the security of seeing mom and dad at ease and building a future. Like us, they need a sense of calm and a new normal. Even if their mom and dad are anything but.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2014 in beginnings, Uncategorized

 

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God Rest Ye Stressful Gentlemen

Ahh the holidays! Anyone who watches television or spends time on Facebook knows it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone is so happy because it’s a time when life is pretty much perfect. We’re baking and shopping and wrapping and drinking and celebrating and worshiping. Families are in complete harmony, everyone has everything they could ever want and we’re all so gosh darn giddy we can’t help but break into a chorus of Jingle Bells every ten minutes.

And then there’s reality.

It’s about stress people! Most people I’ve talked to this holiday season seem to be way behind on just about everything. Perhaps it was the late Thanksgiving this year. But more than one friend has told me that they’re behind on Christmas cards, their house is half decorated, and they can’t find their keys. (OK, that last one was me).images-3

Let’s face it, the truth is the holidays can be incredibly stressful. Our cash flow hasn’t increased, yet our debit cards are getting dinged every fifteen seconds. We’re inundated every morning by another 83 e-mails from stores offering us 85% off and free shipping on orders over $100.00. There’s the traveling, shopping, and visiting. People seem abnormally judgmental as well, which seems contrary to what the whole Christmas thing is about, but hey, that’s just me.

The kids are out of school so there’s often childcare stress and if you’re divorced it means in most cases spreading yourself even thinner or having to be away from the kids. Depending on your relationship with your ex, you may be experiencing added anxiety attempting to schedule time with the kids and working through what can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a divorce, while at the same time trying to ensure the kids have a wonderful holiday. Regardless of the state of your divorce, chances are you’re also feeling an ounce or two of guilt for creating added stress for the kids as they get bounced around from home to home.

The holidays are also a time when people miss loved ones who aren’t around to celebrate with. We forget how many people are either separated due to military service, work, divorce or death. If you’re human, there’s a very good chance you fall into one of those categories and are missing someone this holiday season. As my readers know, this aspect of the holidays is hitting close to home this year and its affect is unmistakable. It can really put your holiday season into a tailspin and is a great cause of depression during this time of year.

And yet we move forward, faced with a choice of succumbing to the stresses that the holidays bring, or focusing our attention on bringing cheer to those around us. The reality is that the holidays aren’t unlike any
images-2other time of the year. There’s good and there’s bad. And that which we choose to focus on is really up to us. It’s easy during down time to focus on the negatives and the hardships. To feel sorry for ourselves. To stress about bills, schedules, family, traveling and being alone. But don’t we do that enough during the other 364 days a year?

My wish for you this year is that you can find joy in the season. To see through the clutter and allow the spirit of the holidays into your heart. To rise above and combat every argument with a smile and a cookie. I guarantee you that no matter how bad your world is, the guy across the street is struggling just as much if not more. Let’s face it, we all have our crosses to bare. That’s one aspect of life we really have no control over. And I’ve seen people dragging crosses ten times bigger than mine. Some things just are what they are and it’s up to us to pull up our big girl panties and keep moving forward. Otherwise we trip on em, and then we just look stupid. Let’s just be honest and say it; for many the holidays suck. So let’s all band together and have a sucky holiday together. Maybe in doing so we’ll discover a spirit we hadn’t anticipated.

I believe the holidays are a chance to let people know that they’re not alone. That someone on this earth may be hurting too for the exact same reason. It’s not easy though. It means shrugging off our own hardships and opening our hearts to another who may be hurting as well. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a smile, a friendly greeting or just an acknowledgement that someone recognizes your pain. And so I say to you, you’re not alone and you’re going to be OK. So turn on some Christmas music, make some hot cocoa and do your best to focus on the positives. I’m pretty sure if you look hard enough you have a stocking full.

 

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Happy $$$$’n Holidays!

First, before I start my little rant, let me make it very clear that I love to give my kids gifts for Christmas and when married was the one who had to be told to ease up a bit at times. I start thinking about their gifts in July and have been known more than once to be the last guy at the check out on Christmas Eve. That out of the way, here we go.

I came home yesterday to no fewer than 13 catalogues from various retail outlets in my mailbox. A good majority of them were targeted toward kids. When my own kids got home from school they proceeded to images-1pounce on them and started circling everything they wanted for Christmas. Add that to the hundreds of e-mails I get from every retailer on the planet offering “50%, 60% up to 120% off!,” along with all of the clothing trends they bring home from school and you start to feel like you’re an idiot if you DON’T go shopping when they open the doors at 4 am.

As parents we want our kids to have a great holiday. We see the gleam in their eye as they tell you about this great new robot Barbie app they just found and our heart melts. How perfect their Christmas would be if we got that “one” extra gift on their list. This is precisely when you need to STOP yourself dead in your tracks.

I could get into a long op-ed about the commercialization of the holidays, but honestly I don’t think it’s anything new. I remember as a kid dreaming of presents and “things.” Circling pictures in catalogues, dropping hints every second I got, writing my letters to Santa; and of course all of the big “sales.” All of it existed even back forty years ago. To me it’s simply about being smart. And it all starts with writing down a budget and sticking to it. Pay attention to what your kids are asking for and write them down, price them out and definitely look for 5-tips-for-holiday-budgetdeals. Just be realistic about what you can afford, plan it out and stick to it like glue. Do NOT go to the store without at least some number in your head of what you’re going to spend on gifts this year. Because like all parents, you’re going to be tempted, to buy twenty four one extra gifts. You’ll feel obligated to take advantage of that once in a lifetime sale that happens every Friday after Thanksgiving. The reality is, that despite what they’d like you to believe, just because Wal-mart has it at fifty-five percent off tomorrow night from 7-9 doesn’t mean you have to go buy it. Especially if it’s not on the list and you’ve already reached your limit.

Retailers would love us to forget that shopping is just one aspect of the holidays. (Yes I’m likely kissing goodbye potential sponsors, but honestly I’ve already turned down a couple who didn’t fit the purpose of this blog). Our goal, in my humble opinion, should be to create positive memories for them. To find ways to make it fun. Each year we celebrate the elves that visit our home during the holidays. We’ve got pictures of our annual sledding trips up north at the first sign of big snow. Videos of our now traditional hunt for the perfect tree that we cut down as a family. They are moments that are to me, the greatest presents I can offer them. Moments of being together enjoying the spirit of the holidays. I’ve come to convince myself that the presents come second to those memories and moments of adventures, laughter and being together.

Trust me, your kids aren’t going to remember all of the presents you buy them. Honestly, I probably remember two or three gifts from my first thirteen years. One was a rod hockey game (perhaps the greatest Christmas present ever). Another was my first stereo complete with build in cassette deck. Beyond that I really have to sitUnknown-2 and think. And don’t forget; you’re not the only person buying them presents. There’s their mom, their grandma(s), grandpa(s), aunts, uncles; trust me, they’ll get plenty. And there’s nothing wrong with a little coordination. Sharing lists and planning it out to make sure the staples are covered. This is another time when maintaining a good co-parenting relationship with the ex can be a huge plus. Working together you can make sure this part of their holiday is a huge score. And yes I’ll say it, it’s more about the kids than who’s right; so perhaps the greatest gift you can offer your kids is to suck it up and talk to the ex if at all feasible in your current scenario.

My point is, we get so inundated by so many entities telling us to spend, spend, spend that it’s easy to get ‘wrapped’ up in it and forget what it is that we’re supposed to be doing in the first place, which is being happy together on the holiday. So by all means go and shop. Just know you’ll have a lot more fun doing it when you give yourself some boundaries and a game plan. I mean, come on, don’t you think removing the financial stress of the holidays is one way to ensure that you’ll be much merrier and more able to enjoy the holidays with your kids? Now if you’ll excuse me if I order on-line by midnight I’ll save an extra 40% off my entire order AND get free shipping!

 

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