3 Pillars

This post has been on my mind for a couple years now. It looked a lot different back then compared to what I am about to write.

UBU (You Be You) was an idea that my oldest daughter and I came up with several years ago. It was born from her desire to help people feel confident in being themselves and my desire to encourage her to never stop being the fiercely independent girl (young woman now I guess 😢) that she is. I never want her to lose the free spirit she has in her. UBU would come up from time to time in passing, but really not much more than her asking me when will we do something with this idea. Can we put it on a shirt or do something “cool” like that? Nothing much happened until a couple months ago when I found this really cool local small business that prints designs on all kinds of products. They do it inexpensively and without having to order dozens of products to make it worth you while. I surprised my daughter with a UBU hat recently. It’s “real” now! Kidding aside, although small and insignificant, it was kind of cool to see our idea on a product.

UBU has really taken on a life of it’s own in my mind. A confluence of thoughts banging around in my head have brought it into focus. It’s also expanded rapidly and grew into something much more. Let me explain what is going on in my head.

First, the very clear racial divide our nation faces was brought center stage by the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks. These deaths and all the other information coming out about how difficult it is to live in this country if your skin isn’t white is overwhelming. It also took our simple idea of UBU and turned it on it’s head. For some, UBU is simply not possible, not without the threat of violence and death on your mind. Story after story about black people not feeling comfortable going for a run or taking a walk in their neighborhood sadden me. Reading a story about a black man that purposely doesn’t walk in his own neighborhood without his daughter because if she is by his side then he is “ok” was sickening. So much for UBU.

It is hard to comprehend that in this country, in 2020, we have large groups of people that are disadvantaged because of the color of their skin. It embarrasses me and I feel ashamed. Obviously this is a very complex topic and I am doing my best to work through as much information as I can. I want to figure out how best I can help to change this crisis our country faces. For now, I will read and I will listen.

While our country is playing chicken with what feels like a race war, we’ve had challenges inside our own home with our three adopted kids. I’ve written about them before. I’ve written about the immense challenges they face and the challenges we face trying to parent them. I won’t repeat those stories, but can say I am certain there is nothing harder I will ever do in my life than try to navigate this very complex world of fetal alcohol syndrome and significant trauma. Fortunately, I haven’t had any stories like my daughter yelling “stranger danger” as I try to get her back in our car recently. Unfortunately, what I am about to write is really much more difficult.

I’ve come to the realization that I have to be a much better dad to my adopted kids, to my brain damaged adopted kids. These kids have damaged brains because of what they were exposed to before and after they were born. We won’t ever fully understand the extent of the damage, but we are starting to see some of it play out as we watch our two little biological girls grow and develop very quickly on one end of the age spectrum and my two older biological kids thrive at the other end of the age spectrum.

These kids can be really, really hard sometimes or maybe most of the time. Their behaviors are extremely challenging and very difficult to understand. We go out of our way to make accommodations and do what we can to keep the peace for as many minutes of the day as possible. These accommodations help, but they can’t fix the damage that was done.

They are good kids though. I know their behaviors are not intentional. Unfortunately that doesn’t always stick in my head as the daily grind gets the better of me. As time has gone on and they have gotten older, it is becoming clear they are lagging behind their peers as it relates to school and play. This hasn’t been easy for me to adjust to. I’ve been very fortunate. My older biological kids are “easy”. They do very well at most things. I’m able to push them and challenge them to be better because I know they understand why I’m doing it and I know what they are capable of. I can already see it in my 2.5-year-old too. I haven’t adjusted to the fact that our soon to be 11-year-olds’ play similar to my 2.5-year-old. It’s even harder for me to comprehend that my almost 9-year-old’s play hasn’t evolved in the entire time I’ve known him (5+ years). His play consists of banging two legos or blocks together for hours on end, using very few words. My favorite (sarcasm) is at about 8PM every night he begins pounding on the floor directly about our living room for hours. It can be a lot.

So where does UBU fit in? I realized these kids can’t be themselves without feeling judged either. Judged by strangers, judged by their peers, and although it’s painful to say, judged by me. It may not be verbal, but I know I do it. I know my facial expressions tell them I am trying to figure out why they are acting a certain way when I should simply be ok with who they are and where they are today.

As I continue to look inward in 2020, I realize our UBU idea is a very good one. It is a meaningful one, even if I am the only one that gets something from it. UBU should be practiced and said throughout the day. It is my mantra, I say it often now. Instead of cracking that innocent joke when we see a guy driving by himself in a car with a mask on, I smile and say UBU to myself and my kids. This change in how I think has been a positive one for me. The innocent jokes were never meant to hurt or harm anyone, but I think they were harming my mind. The bottom line is if you aren’t hurting anyone, including yourself, then UBU – always!

As time has gone on something else was taking shape too. The guiding principles I want to live my life by were becoming clear. UBU took me to what I call my 3 Pillars. The name is not creative and I spent no time coming up with it, but regardless let me lay it out for you.

The 3 Pillars help guide me towards living my very best life. They are Accountability, Courage, and Effort (A.C.E). These pillars are surrounded by the Koru. The Koru is a spiral shape based on the appearance of a new unfurling silver fern frond. It symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace.

Let me define each of the pillars.

Accountability is defined as “answerable for actions or decisions”. As it relates to my life, I break it down further into what I am fully responsible for:

  • Everything I do and say
  • My relationships
  • The roles I’ve chosen to take on

Courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens oneself”. This means two very important things to me:

  • Courage to live your authentic life, free of concern of the crowd – I am not a sheep
  • Courage to evolve based on constantly learning and questioning my thoughts, opinions, and actions

Effort is defined as “a vigorous or determined attempt”. This one seems like it is the easiest, but I think in today’s world it may be the most difficult.

  • I will show up and I will do something
  • I will make forward progress, without concern for how much or how little I gain each day

As I explained above, the Koru is a symbol for new life, growth, strength, and peace. I think the Koru is a perfect symbol for how I choose to live my life. I will continuously grow. It won’t be easy and it will take time, but I will continue to grow.

How will I apply what I wrote above? As it relates to the world and specifically the injustices the black community continues to face, I’ll listen. I’ll do my very best to understand. I’ll take what I hear and will find a way to make a positive impact. Maybe that is as simple as educating my kids or maybe there is a larger role for me to play. Regardless I’ll put in the effort necessary to make a difference.

As it relates to my family, I will find a way to meet the very unique needs of my adopted kids. I’ll meet them where they are without judgment. I’ll support all of my kids in whatever way is best for each of them. And when I screw it up, I will try again.

We are living through unprecedented times in our country’s history. Perhaps this is the moment my generation will have that goes down in history. When I look back or talk to my grand kids about this time I want to do so proudly. I want to be able to say I showed up and I tried. I was courageous because I asked myself the hard questions and was willing to answer them honestly. I put away my preconceived notions about many things and began to look at things through the lens of those living it. I want my kids to know I was strong enough to evolve and get better every day.

Father’s day is several days away and on my mind. When my kids think about me, I want them to remember me as someone that always showed up. I want them to remember their dad was far from perfect, but never ever stopped trying to be better. I want them to know I was willing to challenge everything and everyone on my quest to live an authentic life. I want them to know their dad was not a sheep. More than anything though, I want them to know that regardless of what was going on at the time, their dad always had their back and always loved them!

Why do I write this? I write it for my kids. I want them to be able to look back when they are adults, parents, employees/employers and know it’s ok not to have the world figured out. That things can be hard or they can be easy. That ultimately if you have your heart in the right place everything will work out.

#fitlife #fitness #fitnessmotivation #chooseeffort #ivegot2more #accountability #noexcuses #betterthanyesterday #endure #grind #7kids #fetalalcoholsyndrome #blendedfamily #trauma #ubu #coronavirus #opportunity #perspective # lifeskills #responsibility #budgeting # hardwork #sacrifice #portioncontrol #fairness #selfsufficient #covid19 #courage #effort #koru

What the f@&$ is going on?

I think my wife and I ponder this question more than any other these days. What the f@&$ is going on?

Should we fear Covid-19? Are the steps the country, and more specifically the state, is taking reasonable considering the circumstances? What does this look like in a month, in three months, in a year?

I’m rarely short on opinions, but in this case I really don’t know what to think. There are very strong opinions on both sides of this thing. One group is adamant we need to stay at home and help curb this virus to prevent many more from getting sick or dying. The other group believes we need to open up the economy in order to save jobs and ensure we don’t find ourselves in an extended recession or worse. It certainly didn’t take long for Covid-19 to become a polarizing topic.

When big things are happening in the world I usually start by thinking about the economy (the money). No one messes with the money, unless there is a real good reason, right? In this case, leaders of virtually all the major powers have shut their countries down for some period of time. India has been shut down for three weeks and just extended it two more. For context, that is over a billion people on lock down. It’s very hard to comprehend a lackdown of that scale.

The decisions being made by these countries will likely lead to a global recession and massive unemployment. It’s difficult to predict how bad this will get and how long it will take to move past the damage that has been done so far. The money is telling me that a lot of people with a lot to lose believe this is a real threat.

The most common mainstream debate I have seen is how Covid-19 compares to the flu. The same flu that kills about 50,000 people a year. Yes 50,000 people. That number surprised me. Are we just so used to the flu that we are numb to the death toll. I guess that is how we treat automobile deaths too.

With the flu we never lock down a city, state or the country. Why now? Is this really that different? It seems this virus kills those already vulnerable. I’m pretty sure the flu does the same thing. Most data points seem to indicate that Covid-19 is far more contagious, more damaging to your overall health, and more deadly than the flu. Unfortunately they are just data points now and not fact. What we do know is we are precise. We don’t know how many people have been infected, which means we cannot calculate an accurate mortality rate or understand the severity of this virus. It seems like this would be the same situation as the flu as well.

The fact that our healthcare system was overwhelmed so quickly seems to be a telling data point, but by no means does it tell the whole story. My county is fine. The hospitals here aren’t overrun and our overall cases have been and continue to be low. There are also no signs of the numbers changing in a meaningful way anytime soon.

I’ve gone along for the ride so far with little complaint. This virus is something I know nothing about (I am not a medical professional), and as such I felt compelled to rely on their suggestions during this time. That is made much easier for me because my day to day hasn’t really changed. My family situation generally keeps us home bound unless we are very deliberate about going out. School being cancelled for the rest of the year is the only real material change that has impacted us. That is only due to the fact that two of our kids have special needs and struggle a ton with school. Honestly the bigger issue is they also struggle with play. Without constant guidance, ideas and oversight they don’t do much. In a house with nine people that can be an issue.

The governor recently extended our stay at home order and added additional restrictions. This caught my attention. Nothing in particular related to the order or the restrictions, but the simple fact that we were being asked to stay in another two weeks. And more than that, that we were going to continue to comply with this without much discussion or any idea when this may end. It’s certainly got the attention of many in the state – both positive and negative. Of course it immediately turns into a political conversation or evolves into a discussion around the fact we have a woman governor. How quickly these things devolve is embarrassing for our state and our culture in general.

No, every republican doesn’t want to open up the economy tomorrow with an intent on making money while people die in hallways of hospitals. No, every Democrat doesn’t want to stay inside forever while the economy comes crashing down waiting for the government to ride in and save them. And the fact our governor is a woman has nothing to do with anything.

Why can’t we have meaningful discussions on important topics without the social media echo chamber in our minds encouraging us to regurgitate the latest crap we read posted from our favorite like-minded “friends”. Why aren’t we willing to spend real time thinking about a topic, from all angles, before putting our opinion out in the world.

I hate when people speak in absolutes, but I’ll break my own rule right now. I promise, you don’t know if you are right. You can’t be sure because you don’t have all the data and facts in front of you. This simple fact should be enough to give you pause before you spew what you believe to be the gospel on this or any other topic. There is nothing wrong with a strong opinion, but you need to keep an open mind and be willing to see all sides of an issue. Be intellectually honest.

I think we can all agree we need the economy to open back up as soon as possible, but we need to do so in a way that minimizes the risk of harming the health of this country. I would hope we can all agree too that this is a most complex problem we face and no one person or one group is going to solve it. Can we start the conversation there?

All of this does spark some thought for me around personal freedom. Very few have lived through anything like this, so there really isn’t a playbook to follow. That goes for our politicians as well. They certainly didn’t sign up for this and aren’t qualified to handle it. That is not a knock on them, it’s just the reality of the situation we face today.

I think the best thing we can do is pay attention. What changes are being made on my behalf to protect me without my consent? Do these changes stick or do they fade away as the crisis weakens. We cannot be blind to the fact our freedoms can be taken away. If that were to happen, it would happen slowly and over a long period of time. It is your responsibility to protect your own freedoms. The best way to begin is to pay attention.

Today I’m at a point where I’m evaluating everything I possibly can to figure out where we really are and where we are headed. I hope you take the time to think about this too. We are accountable for holding on to our freedoms – no one else can do that for us!!

And no, I don’t know what the f@&$ is going on.

Two quotes to keep you thinking.

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.

– Leon Trotsky

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

– Benjamin Franklin

#fitlife #fitness #fitnessmotivation #chooseeffort #ivegot2more #accountability #noexcuses #betterthanyesterday #endure #grind #7kids #fetalalcoholsyndrome #blendedfamily #trauma #ubu #coronavirus #opportunity #perspective # lifeskills #responsibility #budgeting # hardwork #sacrifice #portioncontrol #fairness #selfsufficient #covid19

School’s Out – Teach Life Skills

School is cancelled for at least a month. This is a great opportunity to push the pause button on worrying about long division and geometry (sorry to those I am offending – if it makes you feel better there is a laundry list of topics I could have used instead) and take this opportunity to teach our children life skills.

Obviously what you should teach will vary based on age and sometimes maturity level. Some things that have come to mind in the first couple days with the kids home from school are listed below. It’s a brief list meant to get us thinking about teaching our kids skills that will benefit them their entire lives. Think about those things you struggled with when you got out on your own or learned the hard way a time or two. Pass those lessons on now while you have the time and more importantly their attention. The point is to start thinking about the opportunity we have to teach our kids the skills they will need to thrive (or simply survive) in the world.

Budgeting – I am not sure there is anything more important than financial budgeting. Budgeting gives you control over your finances. It makes every purchasing decision relevant as it relates to your overall financial situation. Budgeting = Discipline; Discipline = Freedom. I cannot recommend this one strong enough.

Hard Work and Sacrifice – Kids need to understand that nothing comes without hard work and sacrifice. If you are willing to do those two things there is not much you can’t accomplish. On the other end of the spectrum, they should be taught what doors close if you don’t work hard in this world. All the things we take for granted are not going to be there if they don’t work hard – everything has a cost. I want to ensure I put my kids out in the world with a strong sense of reality versus a thinking that magically they will have all the same things dad has.

Add Value – Doing what you are told is good, but not remarkable. Doing the things not expected of you is what is important. Those things lighten the load for others and add value in so many ways. I live by the motto “See it – Do it”. Your future spouse and employer will thank me later.

Fairness and Responsibility – This is an exceptional time to discuss how life is not fair. Everybody has lost something at this point. Kids have lost school time, all extracurricular activities, play dates, and on and on. They should be bummed about this. They will likely start feeling sorry for themselves and what they are missing. They need to understand there will be times in their life when things simply don’t work out or go as planned. They need to know how to work through them and it is our responsibility to help them understand they are responsible for how they feeling – no one else. Now is the time to eliminate the victim mentality!

You are not the Center of the Universe (and Neither am I) – This idea seems to be non-existent in our culture today. Kids run the show. They dictate most family activities, meals, and so on. This is significantly more power than a child is capable of handling and we adults put them in that position without thought. Teach kids what they can offer the world, instead of what they can take from it.

Hearing No – They are going to hear no and get rejected often throughout their lives. We have an opportunity to help them work through this rejection by telling them no in a safe environment (ideally with a thoughtful explanation as well).

Car Maintenance – We spend a ton of time in our vehicles and place a heavy reliance on them. We should know how to handle basic maintenance. Things like changing a tire, changing a headlight, and changing the oil come to mind. These improve independence and save a ton of money at the same time!

Grow Something – We don’t understand where our food comes from. It just magically exists at the grocery store whenever we want it. Actually growing your own food, even a small amount, gives you a better appreciation for how amazing the land is and why we need to take care of it. This too is another example where you could be a little more independent and save some cash. I find great joy and satisfaction out of growing things.

Meal Preparation – Another easy way to be more independent and save money is knowing how to feed yourself, and I am not talking about microwave meals and potato chips. Learning how to cook (even just the basics) is a skill that will serve you well your entire life.

Portion Control – From an early age we are told to “clean our plates” and so on. That doesn’t serve us very well as we age, portions grow, and our activity level declines. We should be teaching our kids that feeling “full” is not a good thing and feeling “hungry” is not a bad thing. We should teach our kids that the amount of food they really need is far less than what culture tells them. They should listen to their bodies instead. Oh, and stop with all the snacking.

Cleaning – Leave the place better than you found it. This is a simple one and speaks to responsibility. Take care of yourself, clean up your own messes.

Open Up – Now is a great time to reconnect with your kids. Get to know them and let them get to know you at a deeper level. If you have older kids, I think this is incredibly important. Now would be a great time to talk about the mistakes you have made in your life, the consequences, and how you moved forward. I want my kids to see me as super – human. I hyphenate that word because there are two distinct meanings there. I want them to know I am human. I work hard every day to provide for my family. I have good days and bad days. I swear when I shouldn’t. I overreact. I screw up. But I own it, try to fix it, and move on. I do want them to see me as superhuman though. I want them to trust that their dad has their back and will provide a safe environment for them to grow up in.

We really need to take advantage of this opportunity we have in front of us. We have our kids attention for some period of time and should ensure we don’t waste it. It’s likely the world goes right back to the way it was in the coming months, but there does exist a chance that we are embarking on a way of living we haven’t experienced before. It the latter ends up coming to fruition the more independent and self sufficient we all are the better. Be responsible and be accountable!!!

#fitlife #fitness #fitnessmotivation #chooseeffort #ivegot2more #accountability #noexcuses #betterthanyesterday #endure #grind #7kids #fetalalcoholsyndrome #blendedfamily #trauma #ubu #coronavirus #opportunity #perspective # lifeskills #responsibility #budgeting # hardwork #sacrifice #portioncontrol #fairness #selfsufficient

Perspective is Everything

I hope what we are living through ends up being a world that will never be the same.

This virus has brought the world to its knees on all fronts. There are deaths. Containment of the virus doesn’t seem likely in the near term. Limits put on our movements are growing by the day – a full quarantine or even stricter measures seem inevitable at this point. Governments around the world don’t seem to know how to react (I know there is a joke to be inserted here). Markets have plummeted. Grocery stores are being overrun with scared customers, some making selfish and irrational decisions. We all find ourselves living in a foreign world, one we didn’t see coming.

In times of chaos, perspective is vital. Take stock of your current state. Are your loved ones safe? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have clothes on your back and shoes on your feet? Did you eat a warm meal today (or two or three)? Did you have a hot shower today? Most of us can answer yes to that and if you can then you have nothing at all to complain about.

No doubt the last couple weeks have been brutal and extremely confusing. It will likely get worse before it gets better. It is really important that we keep in mind the severity of the situation is different for everyone. We need to respect and understand this fact. For many, “challenges” have only come in the form of loss, loss on conveniences, loss of entertainment options and all the other distractions we take for granted. The fact we can’t get exactly what we want when we want it is truly a first world problem.

The stress and challenges are much more significant for those that have compromised immune systems. Worrying about being close to any other human at this point seems like it would be very stressful. I think and worry about the single mother and her child. She has to figure out how to work (assuming her employer is open for business) while having her child home due to schools being shut down for an extended period of time. I think about those people nearing retirement age that have lost a significant percentage of their retirement savings. The scariest part today for most is the fact we really don’t know what will happen in the coming months. The impact on this virus has been and will continue to be far and wide. Everyone will be touched by it in some way.

Regardless, we will be ok. We will eat. We will have clothes to wear. The markets will rebound. There is a really good chance what we do and how we do it will be different – and it may be different for a long time. We will adapt. We will evolve. That is what this country does. We will rise to the occasion in the face of this virus and all the fallout it will cause.

The other point of clarity I think we need to maintain is the fact we have not been to asked to sacrifice in any meaningful way so far. Staying at home is not a sacrifice. Generations before mine were asked or told to make real sacrifices. Sacrifices that had nothing to do with not being able to go to your favorite restaurant or the movies. We need to remember that. We need to maintain perspective and push through this with common sense and level heads. We need to help our neighbor in whatever capacity we can and keep moving forward. Eventually this will pass and we will get to look back at how we handled this crisis and feel proud!

A couple quotes that came to mind in the midst of the chaos of the last 24 hours or so:

#fitlife #fitness #fitnessmotivation #chooseeffort #ivegot2more #accountability #noexcuses #betterthanyesterday #endure #grind #7kids #fetalalcoholsyndrome #blendedfamily #trauma #ubu #coronavirus #opportunity #perspective

Where’s Your Coat?

I’ve been asked this question more than any other in my life. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I don’t think so. It’s snowing, where’s your coat? It’s cold outside, you are going to catch a cold, where is your coat? It’s goes on and on and on. So why don’t I wear a coat?

It’s simple. I don’t need one. And you don’t either!

Feeling discomfort and pain is good. Working through these things end up empowering and energizing you. You quickly realize the things you worry about are really not that bad. You realize even the worst things can and will be endured.

Most of us have the luxury of living a life that is almost always comfortable. We grew up comfortable and we continue to live comfortably as adults. In fact, we seek out more comfort as time goes on, not less. You eventually realize you have been conditioned to live and think this way and you are likely passing this mindset on to your kids and those around you. You can change it though if you want to. I think you should.

How comfortable are our lives? I’m not sure they could be easier. If we are hungry, we eat. Not only do we eat whenever we feel like it, we eat exactly what we want. We have more clothing than we will ever wear. We have clothing for any scenario we may find ourselves in although we rarely venture outside of our comfort zone. My personal favorite is the full ski gear I see parents in at the small sledding hill near my house. I could understand it (maybe) if those parents were sledding too, but no this is for fashion and of course the desperate need to stay nice and warm. They must think I’m crazy in my sweatshirt and sweatpants. If it’s hot outside, we crank the AC. If it’s cold outside, we turn on the heat. Our cars have remote starters and seat warmers. It takes far too long for that car to warm up or cool down with me sitting in it. Avoid discomfort at all costs.

I don’t wear a coat. I get the mail in the dead of the winter with no shoes and no shirt. I take the top off the jeep on the first sunny 50-degree day we have. I spend long periods of time fasting (feeling real hunger). I do all kinds of stupid shit. I am fully aware that none of these things are truly significant or difficult in the grand scheme of things (I’m hooked on old war documentaries – you want to see suffering watch some of those). So why do I do it then?

I do them because they serve as a reminder that I can endure and tolerate pain and discomfort. They remind me that almost everything that happens in life is not as bad as it may seem. They help set the tone for my mindset. They help me grow and they absolutely help me thrive.

We are truly fortunate to have all the comforts we do, but I don’t think they can be appreciated properly if you never feel discomfort and pain. The comforts are simply taken for granted and become a given in our lives. Imagine the pain and discomfort you will feel if they are stripped from you, how would you go on?

Push yourself. Challenge yourself. You may be surprised what you can endure. You may even find yourself seeking out the pain and discomfort. Choose it. Choose to be different. Choose to evolve. Choose to be better than yesterday!

#fetalalcoholsyndrome #ivegot2more #7kids #endure #grind #accountability #noexcuses #blendedfamily #betterthanyesterday #fewwillhunt

FAS – The Chase

Two of our children have fetal alcohol syndrome (it’s possible the third adopted child does as well). Having FAS is life changing. Living with someone that has FAS is life changing. These kids never had a chance at a normal life and will never experience most things you dream about for your kids.

Lately I have had these lines by Eminem in my head, “Have you ever been protested and demonstrated against? I have, I’ve been protested and demonstrated against.”

They have been rattling around my brain as we have gone through some craziness with our FAS daughter. Let me try to bring you into my world.

“Have you ever chased your child through the neighborhood as she attempts to runaway? I have, I’ve chased my daughter through the neighborhood as she attempts to runaway.”

“Have you had to physically restrain your daughter so she doesn’t harm herself, others, or your house? I have, I’ve had to physically restrain my daughter so she doesn’t harm herself, others, or my house.”

“Have you had your hands bit (and I mean chomped on) by your daughter as you try to protect her from harming herself? I have, I’ve been bitten by my daughter as I try to protect her from herself.”

“Have you ever had to pull your daughter back through a second story window as she threatens to jump? I have, I’ve had to pull my daughter back through a second story window as she threatens to jump.”

The first three happened yesterday. I guess I threw in the fourth for good measure.

It went down around 5:30 PM. I’m sure many are thinking there had to be things you could have done before it got to the point of restraining. My wife and I would give anything if that were true in this situation. I’m not sure there is anything we hate more than this.

We know with our daughter once she crosses a certain point there is no going back. There is also no successful negotiating. Incentives don’t work. Threats don’t work. Nothing works.

Can you imagine your child going up to a stranger’s door and telling these unsuspecting people she wants to live with them instead of you? I can, that happened yesterday too.

Back to the chase. My wife drove down the street of our neighborhood and quickly spotted our daughter. As always she was optimistic. Even on this dreary winter day she saw nothing but rainbows. She thought she could deescalate the situation. I don’t think she really thought that, but she puts on a good front and I had a brutal day at work. She was trying to ease my load – we really are a great team. She made all the standard passive and loving attempts to get things under control with no success. Similar to our son, when things get really crazy we are willing to give anything to get the situation under control. It never works though. Ultimately all this talking led to my daughter running further from home. At this point our daughter can’t really be contained in an open area by my wife. If she wanted to keep running that was what was going to happen.

I, being the realist in the relationship figured this was going to continue to escalate and sure enough I got the call from my wife. As I drove up, our daughter took off. She made it into a different neighborhood. This neighborhood connects to our via sidewalk. The chase was now on foot.

At this point we have no hope left. It’s clear nothing is going to work (nothing ever works, but we always try). My job changes. Instead of negotiator, I play the part of arresting officer. I have to get her back to the car by any means necessary and ideally without anyone in this neighborhood calling the police.

Let’s be honest, an adult white male, carrying a thrashing 10 year old black girl doesn’t look great.

Let me reset the stage. My wife and I are on foot. We have two vehicles in the general area. I have a thrashing ten year old in my arms. If anyone was witnessing this there is no other conclusion one can come to other than this is a kidnapping.

I decide our monster van (Bertha) would be best given there is more space and this short car ride home wasn’t going to be easy. My wife quickly unlocks the side door and rips it open. I manhandle my daughter into the car while she is screaming “Stranger Danger” (what the hell does that even mean? this can’t be the best thing we come up with for kids to scream if they are in trouble). My wife quickly slides the door shut and we drive away. Like any good van the windows are tinted, so no one knows what is going on inside – it wasn’t pretty, but we were in the van. I’ve played this game before, it’s almost over.

We get home, success! Not time to celebrate just yet. The inevitable battle of wills/wrestling match is ready to commence. This can go on for an hour if we are unlucky. Luckily today it only lasted five to ten minutes.

Now the sadness kicks in. No she isn’t feeling sad, we are. When she breaks she really breaks. It’s not gradual, it’s immediate like a glass shattering. The best way I can describe what happens now is uncontrollable ugly crying.

I have no idea what she is thinking in these moments. There is no apology. There is no more anger, but there is also no remorse. I have to think she is realizing, again, that her brain is not normal and she is trying to process what is going on. It is so sad!

I don’t think the breaking is the worst part though. The worst part and what scares me to death is how often she doesn’t really have an explanation for what triggered this extreme reaction. It just happens and then there is no going back.

Obviously this isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last time we face something like this. Luckily my wife and I know what to do when it happens to keep everyone safe. We are hopeful though because it does seem like the amount of time in between each episode is growing.

#fetalalcoholsyndrome #ivegot2more #7kids #endure #grind #accountability #noexcuses #blendedfamily

Money is the Root of All Evil?

This quote can be traced all the way back to the the writings of the Apostle Paul. Variations of the quote are everywhere. A quick google search gets you similar quotes from Benjamin Franklin and Ice Cube.

The root of all evil is not money, it’s desire. Desire drives the constant need for more. More money, more stuff, more likes, more followers, etc.

It would be easy to, but I don’t blame social media for our ever growing desires. We have created these problems for ourselves. That said, social media clearly isn’t helping. We are being sold to all day, every day. We get to see our “friends” and family seemingly experiencing a much better life than we are. Why does everyone I “know” have a bigger house, new car, trendy clothes, better vacations and on and on?

The more we see the more we click. The more we click the more ads we see. Then you have influencers with the perfectly curated life. A life so perfect, yet so relatable to us. If they think it’s the next cool thing then I should want it to, right? It’s a viscous cycle that doesn’t seem to ever stop.

How can you not come to the conclusion that you are failing at life or the world is out to get you when everything you see through that little screen of yours is better than what you are experiencing.

This mentality feeds the impulse we have. We want it, no we NEED it too. I’ll be happier if I get it, I’m sure of it.

Unfortunately, no amount of money, or stuff, or vacations or whatever it may be will satisfy the desire impulse. The world keeps moving. There will always be cooler, newer things out there that you DO NOT NEED. What’s worse is there will be more sophisticated ways of trying to convince you to buy things that you DO NOT NEED as well.

Feeling content is where you will find true happiness. Understanding that things won’t ever fill your happiness void is vital. At the end of the day all that is really needed is readily available to the majority of us – shelter, food, and clothing. When you really look at it you will see most of us have so much excess we don’t even know what to do with what we have, but we still yearn for more.

We need to look inward and ask ourselves why. Why do I want this or that? What will happen if I actually get it? Better yet what will happen if I don’t get it? Why do I care about what this stranger is saying? Why do I feel the need to compete or impress people that I don’t really know and likely don’t care about (at least the opinions they hold) anyway.

I don’t have this figured out, but I know awareness is the first step to breaking the cycle. I used to live for the next vacation or the next raise. And I was lucky enough to get them most of the time. But after each vacation ended or the excitement of the raise wore off I was still not happy. I went on to chase the next vacation, the next raise. Buying a new house would make me happy, right? Wrong.

Being aware of this though has allowed me to really evaluate how I feel and perceive the different things in my life. It’s allowed me to assign a value to them. What do I really care about? What can I live without? What makes me happy?

The only way you can break the cycle and take control of your life is to be deliberate in all you do. Think about the people and things you let into your life each day. Focus your time and energy on the people and things that bring you real happiness. Ultimately your energy should go to the people and things that will still be there after your new clothes are out of style and that new car breaks down.

Live deliberately and keep evolving. Put in the effort.

#fitlife #ivegot2more #7kids #grind #endure #embracethejourney #accountability #noexcuses #moneyistherootofallevil #desire

No Excuses Only Results

The definition of excuse is “attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify.

For as long as I can remember I have used the phrase:

I think it’s served me well in my life. I believe in being results oriented. Ultimately driving toward the right goals, whatever they may be, is inherently good.

The excuses part of the phrase has me thinking. I don’t think the word “excuse” is examined enough when it’s thrown around in the world.

An excuse is simply an admission that whatever you said you were going to do wasn’t as important as whatever you chose to do. I think we really need to think about this more.

You see it a lot in relationships. One person ends up feeling neglected or let down because the other isn’t willing to sacrifice what they want to do (clearly oversimplified).

Another common example is people wanting to get healthier or in better shape. Instead of getting up early to exercise they choose to sleep in. Instead of bringing something healthy to the office for lunch they choose to get fast food.

I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with any of this though. I think the problem comes from our unwillingness to evaluate why we make the choices we make, why we tolerate people that don’t make us happy, why certain things happen to us, and ultimately why we are where we are in life. It can be super hard. It requires self reflection and may result in hard decisions that need to be made.

I don’t care what choices people make if they aren’t harming others. There is no judgment here. Well, that’s not totally true. What is true is that we are all guilty of what I am about to write.

I begin to care when people don’t own the choices they make. When we don’t take ownership that we are where we are based on those choices. No one makes choices for us. I know, there are exceptions to every rule. I live with that under my roof. My FAS kids certainly fall in the exception category. That said, I don’t think the vast majority of people can claim an exception here.

Life isn’t fair. Life is not meant to be easy. You are not entitled to anything other than the basic necessities to survive. These statements seem to be lost on us. The idea that hard work is required to achieve your goals seems to be a foreign concept. At some point it was replaced with, because I am here I deserve it.

If you want something you have to go get it. You are the only one that can put in the effort that is necessary. If you want to be in an amazing relationship you need to be willing to give and to sacrifice. If you want to be healthier you need to modify your diet and exercise regularly. If you want more money you need to work harder, work more hours, take on more responsibility, and add more value. There is no free lunch.

Most of us are living in a time when things really haven’t ever been easier. The opportunities are endless and constantly evolving. I remain confident that hard work will always be the foundation to success.

To reiterate, we are all guilty of what I wrote above. The point of this post is not judgement, it is accountability. We need to own the fact we control our destiny. If sleep is your thing, then sleep. If work defines you, then work. If exercise makes you happy, then exercise. Do what you want to do, but know that you are in control of your place in life. U B U

Own your decisions. Own the results of those decisions. Own what you choose to prioritize. Own what you choose not to prioritize.

Be accountable to yourself. Be accountable to those that matter to you.

Stop complaining!

And please stop wasting precious time, it’s running out…..

#accountability #ivegot2more #7kids #endure #grind #everymomentcounts #perspective #noexcuses #noexcusesonlyresults #fitlife #fitness