Posts Tagged ‘family’

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One love

April 19, 2011

My son turned one today and I am amazed at how fast the year has gone. This time last year, my wife went into labor, we believe, due to the smoked ribs my friend Tad made for us the night before. Jill headed home and I stayed for drinks. It didn’t hit me until the next day that it was the last time it would just be my wife, daughter, and me at our home.

Since the first time I saw his face until now he obviously has changed. He started out with jet-black greasy hair to now stick straight blonde hair like his mother. He is almost walking and is showing signs of his dad’s impatience, temper, and sense of humor (especially bathroom jokes.) And as he has changed, I am constantly changing and learning lessons too.

Just this past weekend, we had a baby shower for a fraternity brother and his wife expecting a son themselves here soon. And upon arriving at the party, hugs, handshakes, and hi-fives gave way to conversations, laughing, and advice for the new parents. I love those guys. They are really more family than friends, and we pick up quickly from the last time we saw each other, even if it was a year ago. So Cam, lesson one that I have learned is you will never be alone, never be lost, and never without a smile with great friends.

After the party we all went back and got our kids and brought them together at the expecting parents house. What a torturous thing to do for two people waiting to have their first child…fill their house with six kids all under the age of five. (No turning back now, Mr. and Mrs. Benson.) Within five minutes our daughters and sons were playing, laughing, and having a good time with each other. And for some, they just met. Our kids know no prejudice; they don’t care about money, religion, or politics. The girls like big girl shoes and candy necklaces, the boys popping balloons with their mouths and throwing things. Cam, lesson number two. Be open, honest, and respectful to each person you meet.  Don’t ever lose the gift of seeing people for what we really are…people.

And yesterday we had our big first birthday party. Family and friends joined us and watched as Cam decorated himself in cake and blue frosting. All the while, he just laughed, half-naked and all. Cam, here comes lesson three. Never take yourself too serious. I sure as hell don’t. I’m not perfect and never will be. That doesn’t stop me from trying to be great, rather knowing that mistakes are part of the game makes the score easier to tolerate when we don’t win. Keep smiling and give it all you have.

And the last lesson goes without saying. Your dad loves you and always will. You’ll never know how strong that love is until you have kids of your own; so for now trust me and thank you. Thank you for being my little man.

Happy birthday son.

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When he passes the name

April 1, 2011

Time passes without asking, yet we ask for more
Pain can end quickly, yet burns forever more
We make peace with what we have been dealt
But that doesn’t take away the hurt that was felt
When we look in the mirror, we do not see our faces
Rather our fathers are looking back at us from different places
Pictures stir memories, some of which were distant
But the bond in sharing is easily reminiscent
Of times when things were easy and care free
Now we must face life and its harsh cruelty
Since we were born we shared more than we really new
And as we grew those characteristics grew too
As we seek out and ask for answers we may never find
We must be comforted knowing that all the time
We were really him and he was really us
A father and son’s love, more special and glorious
So when he passes the name, we must show the world
That the lessons we learned from him we did not ignore
Because one day too we will pass the name
But not yet…not yet… there is too much life to gain.

 

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I haven’t had a bad day.

February 17, 2011

As funny as that sounds I need to remind myself of just that. I haven’t had a bad day.

My wife recently shared another sad story from her work at Riley. I’ll save the details except that another preventable and unthinkable act was taken and the result is a child who will live the rest of their life hooked up to a machine. The child was never really loved and will never experience the most simple of activities going forward. Sliding down a slide, walking in a park, and even giving a hug. I never faced such adversity as a child. I have a loving family who has supported, encouraged, loved, and fostered my growth even as an adult.

I haven’t had a bad day.

One of our close friends is a facing a battle with their child that I can only image tests every fiber of their being and every thread of their core. I don’t know how they do it and I only hope that one day I can be that strong. Honestly, I actually hope I never have to be that strong. My kids are laughing, my kids are growing, my kids are healthy and my kids are loved.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I recently read another story about a young person who committed suicide as a result of bullying. Some of these kids are harassed because of their weight, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, and sometimes simply because they are individuals in a world of conformists. What a shame. What a shame in 2011 we can’t embrace the differences that all make us unique and work together towards common goals that only help humanity, not tear down what makes us human. I’ve never had to feel like I couldn’t be myself. I’ve had family and friends who have put their love and trust in me and in return helped me know my place in the world.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I am guilty, just like the rest of us that I don’t reflect on what I have enough. And it is unfortunate that sometimes we don’t think of these simple blessings and graces until something bad happens. Sure I’ve had my share of pain, but never have I had to go alone and never have I had no where to turn.

I haven’t had a bad day.

 

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When one door closes, it’s good to have the master key to the rest of the house.

January 24, 2011

I had something happen to me for the first time in my life. I was given my walking papers due to re-structuring and re-focusing at work on November 30th. For more than twelve years in the ad agency business, I was always on the other side and learned early about survivor’s guilt, making myself marketable, and staying grounded, driven, and positive.

And yet this time it got me. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me professionally. I am not embarrassed or ashamed I was let go. I’d like to think my ego hasn’t grown so much that I can’t admit the truth. I simply didn’t have a specific PR foundation and background to warrant keeping a tenured advertising guy on staff. Kudos to my former boss for recognizing he and his agency needed to change and get back to their roots. I also appreciate the way in which I was let go. They did some things for me they didn’t have to and that took the stress out of these past seven weeks, especially over the holidays.

And in there lies the one thing they didn’t intend to give me, that was the greatest gift.

I spent more than six weeks at home with my two kids, my wife when she wasn’t at work, and friends and family, all over the holiday season.

I danced with my daughter in her room to songs we didn’t know, I was there to ride through the sleepless nights as my son got his first two teeth, I was able to help be Santa with my wife, and I grew an even deeper appreciation for the countless friends and family who reached out to me with support.

And now I am happily part of the team at The Momentum Group, a small, very cool shop in Broad Ripple doing some amazing things in the branding, digital, social, and traditional advertising space. I have certainly found a home.

So as I look back on my career already, one thing always rides true. No matter what, under any circumstances, sell yourself short by changing who you are, how you conduct yourself, and not treating others with respect. Because as I have just found out, sometimes the unexpected can turn into the greatest gift.

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Maria Robinson


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This Thanksgiving give thanks by acknowledging another human being.

November 23, 2010

I was running early Saturday morning and as I headed down a foggy road past some of the remaining farms in Fishers an elderly man hobbled his way towards the road and gave me a big smile. As a matter of fact, he patiently waited until I smiled back. I yelled “Good morning, how are you?” To which he gave me a bigger smile and said, “Great thank you. I just wish I could do that!” Well, I wish more people would do more of what he just did.

He smiled, he acknowledged, and then he made me smile. He passed on what makes us all human, our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and the need to feel appreciated.

I’m sure this is reflective of the greatest generation. People who gave all they had to fight against oppression, hatred, and intolerance so we all have something to smile about. They fought so we all, as human beings, could have what we so desperately want and need. The right to be our own individuals in a world of masses, to speak when we feel so moved to do so, and to live without fearing for our freedoms.

One of my fraternity brothers, Jeremy Gray, recently posted his pet peeve of people that don’t say hello when you look them in the eye and say it to them. Chris Jackson, another brother who posted an oddly similar frustration when he told someone to have a nice day and they replied, “I will.” It is a sad state of humanity when simply acknowledging another human being has become either an afterthought or no thought at all.

How great could this country be if we all showed a little compassion, understanding, tolerance, and appreciation for those around us? And why stop there. The world could use a giant dose of selflessness.

My dad says it well, “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, you just have to learn how to get along with everyone.” I agree completely and I am thankful for those of us out there who get it.

What are you thankful for this year?

 

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What the hell happened to my life?

October 28, 2010

It hit me the other day as I was watching my three-year old daughter at dance class, where in the world did my life go?

I seriously felt like I woke up from a coma, aged to 34, had two kids, a house, pets, and was at least happy to not be balding. I remember my mom telling me to wait until I had kids and then I’d know what it was like to have life move fast. It’s not that I didn’t believe her, it’s just I didn’t fully understand the truth in that statement.

One of my favorite movies is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and there are so many great lines in that movie, yet one has always stuck out to me. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

In college I was able to realize this. My last semester I remember taking time in my fraternity to just watch the crowds, the parties, the pranks, the environment, and all of the things that I knew I had taken for granted and let it soak in. I could slow things down enough to go from participant to spectator and back again. Even at my wedding eight years ago I slipped to the back corner of the reception hall and simply viewed my life in action. I was able to recognize I would never be with that same group of people, at the same time, in the same moment, ever again.

And now, I can’t seem to find the time in the heat of the moment to slow things down. When I write, it obviously gives me time to reflect. When I get to work after dropping the kids off it is on my mind. But in general, I have let Ferris down. In a fast-paced life that only seems to be further accelerating I haven’t been taking a look around.

So maybe I should heed the advice of John Keating (Robin Williams) in another great 80’s movie, Dead Poets Society, “But If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe — hear it? — Carpe, Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

 

Maybe instead of looking around I just need to lean in and listen…

 

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One person can make a difference.

October 22, 2010

I try not to be skeptical, however I am quick to break everything down to a realistic and rationale perspective. So when I hear people talk about how one person can change the world, I tend to struggle with that comment.

I was asked recently by a fellow BSU Delt, Steve Roseman, to sit on the board of The Paul Fangman Jr Foundation that he started over the summer. Steve’s grandfather is the inspiration and Mr. Fangman lived his life stressing the importance of giving your time and talents to others and how precious family and children are to the world.

Mr. Fangman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 37 yet still raised seven children, managed a successful family business, and loved his time with his 43 grand and great grandchildren. He lived his life with dignity, grace, and a helping hand.

Steve is quick to point out that he only remembers seeing his grandfather walk 10 times and the daily fight he had battling MS. Steve was so inspired by his grandfather’s courage and love of life that he has used it as a springboard to help others.

The foundation was founded on teaching young people to live and maintain healthy lifestyles and to help families manage the cost and the stress of finding adequate health care for loved ones suffering with MS and cancer.

In five short months he has already raised a considerable amount of money, is in three schools working with children, and is lining up more donors, more schools, and more ways to impact people’s lives.

I realized on the way home from our meeting, that when people say one person can change the world, what I was lacking was definition around the word “world.” Steve is living proof. Watching him speak about his work, the children, his grandfather, and the conviction he has to serve others is inspiring. The world in which Steve is creating for himself and others he is helping is making a difference.

In a time when people tend to hold their hands out for help, Steve is holding his out to help. So yes, I do believe one person can make a difference; he has already made a difference in mine.