Posts Tagged ‘family’

I think that if you have read much of my writing or heard my vlog, you can probably guess that I was an unusual kid. The thing is, that was true in a lot of ways. One of the more unusual things about me compared to kids in todays society was that I never moved to a new house as a kid. I lived in the same home from the day that I was born until I got married after college. Sure, I lived in the college dorms or apartments while I went to university, but my official address didn’t change for over twenty years. These days people move on a regular basis. It’s made me ask the question, why do people regularly pick and leave the place that they have made into a home just to try and do it again someplace else.

Naturally, there are lots of societal reasons. We can move now without packing everything into a covered wagon and spending months traveling and wondering if we will ever see our new home. There are also all kinds of economic considerations. The locations for work as well as appreciation in the value of your house may convince someone to pick up and move. Those have all been factors in the multiple occasions that my wife and I have moved. Those things answer why we go from one house to another. None of them answer why we move our home.

It took me a little while to come up with a reason for this, but I think that I finally figured it out. I had to think back to when I was getting ready to go to college. My goal was to go to a college that was about three hours away from the home that I had always lived in. My mom came up to me one day and said “Chris, I hope that you get that scholarship, because if you don’t, you might have to go to the community college for a couple of years first and keep living here.”

The idea of staying in that house another few years hit me like a ton of bricks. “Mom, I’ll join the Army before taking that route.” That was not meant as any dig at the army (anyone that knows me knows the respect I have for our service men and women.) Both I and my mother knew that I was not physically or mentally conditioned for the military, but that was a risk that I was willing to take to get out of the house. I had seen those same four walls for my entire life. We rarely went on vacations or long trips, so my whole world had consisted of my hometown and that house. I knew that there was a lot more out there. I had friends that talked about the places that they had been and the things that they had seen. I was ready to find out what there was in the world, both good and bad, and I couldn’t do it in the comfort and security of the home that had been the only home I’d known. I got a scholarship and returned to that home four years later with a degree and news that I had a fiance’. I got married six months later and moved out permanently. I still see that house regularly. My parents still live there.

So what did this tell me about why people move? Honestly, I think it is because we are restless. Each generation is being exposed to more of the world and finding out what is outside of their city limits. Now that we know that there are other ways to live, I think that we want to experience them. Sometimes, that can only be done by moving. For thousands of years, home was where your family had set down roots. Now it seems that home is wherever we decide to park our bed, recliner, and computer for a few years to see what the place has to offer. Some people see this as a decline in family cohesion, and I can understand why they say that. There is something about living in the same place that your family helped build over generations. If you are content with that, then welcome home. I think that for most people these days, it isn’t an option, and that is fine with them as well. After all, what is a home if not simply the place where you and your family go to for comfort, security, and love? A change of address doesn’t matter in the end.

 

 

image credit: http://www.businessinsider.com

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Well, this was my last full day on vacation. We dedicated the entire day to the beach. I made a realization while we were out there. I had never gotten around to some of the revisions that I had told myself that I would do on this trip. That’s when I realized something about my writing lately. I explain what it is in the video.

Well, I started to relax a little bit more on the third day. The tropical storm was nowhere nearby and we were starting to learn where everything was. I really spent the third day getting a lot more experiences, and that matters. It not only matters personally, but it also matters as a writer. Details can make a world of difference, and I want to start making those differences.

Well, I survived my drive down to my vacation, now it was time to do some stuff. I wish that I could have gotten video of things as I did them rather than just try to describe it to you later, but, to be honest, I like to focus on the experience, not recording the experience. I know it makes it less exciting for you, but it makes it more enjoyable for me, and this is one time when I will think of myself before my audience. I give a brief explanation of why I am recording the journal and try, very badly, to describe some of what I did. I’m certain that there are several people that look at this and can’t believe that a 38 year old man is just now doing some of this stuff. Well, that’s part of why I took this trip and recorded the journal. Because I really AM just now getting around to doing this stuff!

 

I have just returned from my first real beach vacation. I know, 38 years old and finally going to the beach for a vacation to play in the ocean. I can be a little slow on things. I was going to keep a written journal each day, but my family and I stayed so busy that I didn’t get a chance to. Instead, I kept a video journal and will be putting up one video journal entry a day for the next few days. Been on a beach vacation? Did it help you relax and reboot or make you wish that you could stay? Let me know how these things work out for you.

 

There are times that I can be a terrible friend. I can be a bad relative. I’ll even admit to sometimes being a bad husband and father. There are lots of reasons for this. Some of them are character flaws. I am the first person to admit when I have a flaw, and I have a ton of them. One of the biggest reasons for this is because I never feel like I have enough time in the day to dedicate to the people, the career, and the activities that matter to me. I have to put my attention and energy where I feel that it is most needed, and because of this something always gets missed. I apologize to my friends, past and present, if I have given the attention to you that I should. I apologize to my relatives for not visiting as often as I should. I most sincerely apologize to my wife and child for not having the patience or energy that would allow me to be the husband and father that you deserve.

As a society, we have held aloft the ideal that we should work hard and play hard. Work hard in your career and on project and on any kind of labor. Put as much energy as you can into your recreation and pour yourself into the experience. I feel that I’ve been doing that for a while now, and I’m exhausted! One of the reasons why I don’t have as much time and energy for friends and family as I’d like is because I pour so much of myself into my job and into my work and even into my hobbies that I don’t have energy reserves left. I’ve been out of school for a couple of weeks now and this afternoon was the first time that I finally said “I’m going to rest!” I did for a while, mostly to fight off a sinus headache, but I felt guilty the whole time. There is so much to do, and I feel like I should always be doing it! We all pride ourselves on the idea that we must constantly exhaust ourselves to get ahead in life. I am beginning to wonder what it is that we are trying to get ahead of.

Don’t misunderstand me. I cannot stand laziness and apathy. I have to fight against that all the time with groups of people. However, when did we decide that spending some part of the day doing nothing was such a horrible thing? I’m not talking about spending half of the day staring at a wall and contemplating the purpose of your belly button. I’m just saying that we all might find a little bit more energy in our lives and maybe even more appreciation for our work if we can set aside a little time each day to breathe. Not play, not get on the computer, not even talk on the phone. Just to do nothing. One of the wisest things that I’ve heard came from the movie Tron: Legacy. “You’d be surprised at how productive doing nothing can be.”

I’ll never stop working hard. People depend on me and they deserve nothing less. I’m also in awe at those people that can seem to find the balance that allows them to take care of their kids and do their jobs and even provide food for potluck meals (I’m a bit of a joke at my school. I always volunteer to provide the plates, cups, and plastic ware!) I hate that I will probably never be one of those people. But to those friends and family that I have not given the time that I’d like to have given, I’m going to try to take some time to do nothing. Hopefully then, I will have the time and energy to be the friend, father, or husband that you deserve. If you’re reading this, maybe you should consider a little time for nothing as well. I think we all need it.

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I haven’t been very active on social media for the past couple of weeks. Testing at school and a family trip are two of the reasons. A death in the family was another. After the funeral for my wife’s grandmother, I reflected on how much I was going to miss her, but I left with a smile. Here is why:

A while back, I found some soaking wet socks in my son’s bathroom. A few days later, I found six soaking wet socks hidden in his bedroom. I asked him what was going on. “I had a dream once about a monster attacking people. I’ve been showering in my socks so that I can throw them at him to chase him off.”

Of course, my response to this was, “Son, you are ruining your socks because of an imaginary situation that is never going to happen.” At least, that was what I said out loud. In my mind, I was thinking How can I possibly incorporate this into my next book?

On any given day, my cat goes also-freaking-lutely insane. For no apparent reason, she will run sprints all throughout the house. She seems to be attacking bugs that no one else can see. She howls late at night at nothing. She figures out precisely where you intend to sit and decides that is the very place that she intends to nap. I suppose that it shouldn’t surprise me that my son loves the cat almost to the point of obsession.

The thing about both of these individuals, my son and the cat, is that they live a lot of their lives in their own imaginations. It’s something that can make each day very difficult for those around them as people that don’t live in their worlds try to figure out what is going on. However, for my son and the cat, it is a perfectly equitable arrangement, and why shouldn’t it be? They might live in their own worlds, but everyone there knows them. The imagination is where they find peace, joy, excitement, and whatever else they are seeking at the moment. Who should deny that?

The truth is that I tend to benefit from it as well. Of course I work to make certain that my son can interact and function in the world. That is my job as his father. However, he as well as the cat, remind me how to make use of my own imagination. They help remind me how to find some of the more simple joys in life that cannot be discovered on a television screen or computer monitor. As a teacher, he reminds me of the youth that I interact with daily, even if that youth left me (chronologically) a while ago. As a writer, he brings me to a place in my imagination that helps me to create the universes needed for a good story to be told.

If you are a writer, or someone that just needs a smile, consider things from the point of view of a child, or even look at the world as a cat. If neither are an option, then think of the last time that you wanted to say, “What the crap was that?” You would be amazed at the direction that this can lead you in.

Today is Valentines Day. A day when many are enjoying expressions of the love of their significant other, or they are expressing their feeling for someone that they have long desired. Of course, there are also those that dread this day and see it as nothing more than a reminder that they are single. Most amusing among these people are the husbands that have failed to buy a Valentines Day gift for their wife. I remember watching a sitcom back in the 90’s where men were fighting tooth and nail to get their hands on the last card and box of chocolates in the store. It was pretty funny. Well, I have a confession to make. I haven’t bought a Valentines Gift for my wife in several year. I’m still alive and still married. Imagine that!

Now don’t misunderstand me. I have always been big on Valentines Day. I used to get roses or other flowers for all of my female friends in high school because I didn’t think that any lady should be without a flower on Valentines Day. Yes, I gave my girlfriend more than I gave my friends. I tried to be creative every Valentines. This continued into my marriage. I was always trying to come up with something unforgettable each year. It started to become a rather expensive and stressful endeavor, especially since my wife felt the need to try and match my creativity. Then one year, and I don’t quite remember when that was, we both started asking ourselves, “Why?”

It would be easy to start thinking that the romance has gone out of my marriage. After all, I have been married now for over fifteen years, we are parents, both of us work full time, and Netflix and chill for us actually means that we watch Netflix and relax. Add in the fact that we don’t get each other Valentine’s Day gifts and it’s easy to think that we are just going through the motions. However, you have to take a look at the other 364 days in the year to see that this isn’t true. I never miss the chance to tell her that I love her. We snuggle together on the couch every night. We are constantly holding hands. One of the reasons that we have stopped getting each other gifts (we often do not give Christmas gifts to each other either) is so that we can save money to go on trips as a family and have fun together in new ways. I can honestly say that I haven’t missed the Valentine’s gifts. I recognize the love that is there for me every day.

Now, if you happen to be someone that enjoys Valentine’s Day, be my guest. I’m not trying to rain on your parade. Have a great time. However, if you chose not to give a gift this year, make certain that you have expressed your love every other day this year. What better Valentine’s gift could anyone ever hope to get?

A character from one of my favorite shows once said, “We’ve done the impossible, and that makes us mighty!” Some of the most enjoyable stories and movies that we ever experience deal with a character that is overcoming major challenges. There is something uplifting about cheering on the underdog. Maybe it gives us a feeling of accomplishment to see that someone else can achieve what seems impossible. Of course, cheering on the underdog and being the underdog are two very different things. Do you get that feeling of accomplishment when you are the one having to face the challenges, or do you get a feeling of dread at what might happen if you can’t overcome the odds?

Most of my writing centers around fish-out-of-water, underutilized and disrespected characters. The usually don’t recognize their own potential until they reach some new height, be it on purpose or on accident. Either way, the achieve what would have seemed impossible just a chapter before. I actually smile as I write, revise, or re-read some of those characters accomplishments. It can provide a sense of divine justice. The person most deserving receives the rewards. How can you not love that?

Of course, reality is a lot different from fiction. Many of us face challenges every day. Maybe it is a child whose behavior is slow to change. Maybe it is a job that is trying your patience. Maybe it is the difficulty of getting your finances in order. Maybe it is something as simple as the weather not cooperating with what you have planned. These are usually the challenges that don’t make it into books, movies, or television shows. For all of the obsession that people have with reality television, it rarely deals with true reality. When was the last time that there was a show that followed one of its characters for two hours while they tried to figure out why their checkbook won’t balance? How about an episode that centers on trying to figure out how you are going to get supper cooked, your child tucked in, your take-home work finished, and still have time to watch the show that you have been waiting all week for? Even Seinfeld, the show that famously claimed to be about nothing, never focused on the every day challenges that most people face. Why not?

My theory as to why we don’t see shows, movies, or books that deal with these everyday challenges is because we all already have to. These challenges can stretch us to our limits. We don’t want to see them again because we will either be reminded of how difficult it had been to take care of, or we will see a different approach that we had not considered and be angry because it is too late to change it. This is one of the reasons that I don’t watch reality television. I watch television to get away from reality. I’m sure that most people would agree that they read or watch television and movies to try and forget about the challenges that they feel may have cursed their days.

Of course, in the end, are these daily challenges really curses or blessings in disguise? Well, I would venture to say that they are both. The challenges stretch us to our limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s easy to see that as a curse. However, they also keep us moving forward in our lives, accomplishing the tasks necessary to be the people that we need to be for those that depend on us. That makes them a blessing in disguise. Of course, that disguise is so well done, that we hardly ever see it. That is why we seek out the underdog stories. They motivate us to keep pushing forward in the hopes that we, too, will do the impossible. So, you keep pushing your way through that daily grind (as will I), and I’ll try to help provide that underdog motivation to keep us going. I figure that combining those two things will go a long way towards making us mighty!