Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ten things you probably DON’T do with your kids (but should)

I had lunch with by buddy Trevor the other day and we got talking about the "F" word and things we do with our kids. He shared some classic kiddo experiences that induced a solid belly laugh. Being that he is a great father, and a year older than me (making him extremely old and wise), I asked him to impart some of his sage advise with the "F" Word tribe. This is coming to you Straight Outta Compton, Trevor Compton that is....

I’m f*#ty.  And…what that means is that I’m old enough to sometimes remember what I was like when I was cool.  Most of the time, I forget. 

But the rub is…my kid’s AREN’T.  To them, I’m bald, wrinkly, and boring dad.  They don’t remember the cool dad.  All they know is the dad that listens to talk radio, podcasts, and occasionally jams out to “old guy” music while they’re in the car to embarrass the living daylights out of them in front of their friends.  The dad that doesn’t like anything cool, that doesn’t DO anything cool, and the dad that has only a fleeting recollection of what cool actually is.  Or was.  Or should be. 

So, before I continue, I need to make one thing perfectly clear.  I’m writing this post to give advice to you, f*#&y-year-old dads.  The advice is this:  DO THINGS WITH YOUR KIDS THAT YOU ENJOY.  Why would you want your kids to see you as the dad that goes to Disneyland but hates it.  The dad that spends too much money at places with dancing rodents just because his kids begged him and he caved in.  Nobody wants to be the CAVE-IN Dad.  Being CAVE-IN Dad teaches your kids that you’re even less cool than they thought and that you’ve lost touch with who you are as a person.  Be yourself.  And in doing so, you’ll find out that your kids love you and are impressed and proud of who you are as a person and the things that YOU like to do. 

With that out of the way…here are the ten things you should start doing with your kids right now.  Not only because they’re (probably) enjoyable for you too, but because they will learn valuable lessons in the process about being proud of who they are and not afraid or embarrassed to be themselves:

10.  Take them to nice restaurants.  I once had one of my sons take off his flip flop in the middle of dinner, throw it across the dining room floor, bounce off a light, and land in another customer’s glass of wine.  True story.  For most of us the idea of going to a nice restaurant is appealing because you get AWAY from eating PB&J and don’t have to listen to all the fighting and complaining about the food.  Bringing young kids to a nice restaurant seems like complete social suicide.  But here’s why you should do it:  Because the more your kids see how to behave in places like high end restaurants, the more likely they are to learn manners and respect in public situations.  Just don’t let them wear flip flops…it’s harder to throw shoes if they’re tied tight.

9.  Drive through the wrong neighborhoods.  OK, so carrying racist signs through ethnically diverse neighborhoods may not be smart with or without kids.  But going out of your way to drive on the “other  side of the tracks” once in a while to give your kids a bit of perspective.  Whatever side of the tracks you live on, it’s valuable to have them see what else is out there in this big blue spinning rock.

8.  Take them to work with you.  So, if you work in a coal mine, it might be tough to pull off.  “I got the black lung, pop.”  Otherwise, most employers, supervisors, and companies will welcome the chance for your kids to see what you do all day.  My dad flew 737s growing up, so it was a little tougher, but he still managed to take me up in the cockpit once in a while and to the training simulator.  It made a lasting impression, because I still have a fascination with flying.  The converse is also true…if you have a boring job, it will be good for your kids to see this and aim a little higher than their old man. 

7.  Nothing.  That’s right.  Do nothing.  Unplug, turn off the screens, and just sit and be lazy together.  Let’s face it…it’s healthy.  And it’s something everyone should incorporate into their lives.  Down-time recharges the batteries and makes you grateful for the “up” times.  Meditation is a great way to structure and focus your down time, but it can be as simple as laying vertical on the couch and throwing a baseball at the ceiling.  Whatever it is, just do it together and get your kids used to the idea that they don’t have to be entertained every second of every day.

6.  Travel together.   On an airplane.  Yes, you heard me.  Carry the strollers, car seats, diaper bags, sippy cups, and all the screens you can find to keep them entertained.  It’s gonna suck getting through the TSA, and you’re going to wish you had Benadryl to…ahem…keep their “allergies” at bay.  But your kids are going to remember it, learn about traveling (not to be scared of flying among other things) and see the world.  Their world right now is probably the four walls of your home, a bus stop, a few friends houses, and school.  That is a pretty darn small place.  Show them that the “school of life” can be so much more educational and that there is so much more to see and do than any one person could accomplish in a lifetime.  My entire family will always remember seeing mom almost step on a Boa Constrictor in Costa Rica after the rest of us walked right by thinking it was a stick.  What a memory!  Are you beginning to see a theme here?  Perspective.

5.  Go to rock concerts.   Or any concert for that matter.  If you haven’t seen the Twenty-One Pilots show, put it on your bucket list.  My kids are 4, 7, and 10.  The 4 year old had a cold, but my wife and I took the two older kids to see them live in Salt Lake City over the weekend.  Their eyes were as wide as saucers the entire night watching people (quite the clique) and watching the incredible show.  Do I want them in the mosh pit smashed against the front stage…probably not just yet.  But for their first real concert, it was memorable for them even from the back row.  They may not realize just how cool this was of their parents to do until many years from now.  But what an amazing night and experience for both parents and kids.

4.  Run a race.  Odds are that your days of competing at a high level athletically are long gone.  At least mine are.  But the atmosphere of a race (run, bike, swim, motorcycle, etc.) is electric.  It’s something they’ll remember for a long time.  And seeing the winners finish will give them inspiration to compete in something for themselves.  Seeing the last few stragglers come across the line will also inspire them to know that ANYONE can run a race.  So, if mom and dad do a half marathon…sign the kids up for a 5k or a Kids K.  They’ll be so excited to be part of the family team.

3.  Backpacking/Camping.  “Yeah, but my kids aren’t big enough to carry a pack, they don’t like to eat fish or freeze-dried food, and they don’t have the gear for it.”  I’ve heard all the excuses.  I’ve made them myself.  The one thing I’ve learned after doing it for a few years now is that your kids will surprise you with how capable they are.  And there’s something about being outdoors that will really give them a connection with nature, themselves, and with their parents.  Try it once and you’ll likely make it a family tradition.

2.  Go on dates with them.  Don’t be confused…I’m not advocating that you take them with you on your date night with your spouse or significant other.  I’m saying to take THEM out on a date.  Teach them how to behave (open doors for their date, pay the bill, compliment their date, focus on them and not their phone, etc.).  This will go a long way when they start dating and learn to distinguish a well-behaved partner from a selfish douchebag.

1.  Choose your own adventure.  I know there are one or two things that you really love to do that are a bit on the wild side.  Skydiving, bungee jumping, motorcycles, airplanes, paintball.  I don’t care what it is…but you absolutely MUST do them with your kids.  Start them out small if it’s a scary endeavor.  But at the very least, show them what you do and explain to them WHY you do it.  Seeing you do something you’re passionate about will get them through the times that they get down in the dumps.  Knowing that everyone has a thing or two that really gets their juices flowing is a great lesson for your kids to learn.  Because they will search for that in their own lives.  And once they find it, they will truly find fulfillment and purpose.  They will have something to live for even when life seems like it isn’t worth living.  And maybe they’ll read this in 20 years when they have kids of their own and pass along the passion to their own kids.   At the very least…they’ll have something to tell their friends about at school when they’re bragging about how cool their dads are.  

Like what you have read?  #justifyingthefword or follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/justifyingthefword/timeline

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Justifying the F Word and The Dream-Think-Do Podcast

Huge news! Justifying the F Word was featured on the "Dream, Think, Do Podcast" today. If you have not had the opportunity to listen to Mitch Matthew's pod casts before, I highly recommend it. It's like an all you can eat buffet of positive vibes and motivation streaming through the world wide web. Mitch has had a huge impact on me and how I go about living my life. It was his "virtual push" that got this F word revolution started.

I promise you that if you download and listen to his podcast on iTunes you will find yourself bombing down a luge track toward your dreams with plenty of ringing cow bells to cheer you on.

 Remember the best way to justify the F word is to follow your dreams and reach your goals. Check out "Justifying the F Word" being featured on today's episode below!  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fight The Power


At the vine ripened age of 39, I came to the conclusion that this F word thing was headed my way whether I liked it or not.  At about this moment, I had to come to peace with the notion that no matter what I do or how I feel about aging, its going to go down. No crossroads pact I could finagle with Beelzebub himself would have any influence over the amount of years that my 5’11” frame will carry. This got me thinking about all aspects of my life. Dismissing the option of selling my soul to become a servant to the eye of Mordor, I decided to take inventory of what I can influence and what is out of my control.

Right around this same time I was on a flight and after a delightful cruise through SkyMall (may you rest in peace great bazaar of the friendly skies) I read an article in Fortune in which multiple CEO’s were interviewed. The common thread that contributed to their success was the importance of a lifetime pursuit of knowledge. At this point the starting gun fired, the squirrels in my head decided to run, and I realized that for too long I had been in an intellectual holding pattern. 

Upon this epiphany, it also dawned on me that I have placed a significant amount of time and energy on things I have virtually no control over. For example, the 24-7 news cycle that we now live in throws people into a world of rage on both sides of the aisle. Between talk radio, cable news outlets, magazines, books, and internet news sources it is easy to become consumed with politics. Before I go any further let me mention that there is a major difference between the 5% who are truly involved and the 95% who arm chair quarterback.  Those who are truly involved do have an influence on what happens, but let’s be honest most of us prefer complaining over action. This post is 100% politically neutural, and yes it is important to know your stuff and do your civic duty.   But let’s be honest…how much time and energy is wasted on things and people that we cannot influence, change, or impact one way or another.

It dawned on me that I had been vacu-sucked into a billion-dollar industry that prays on people’s emotions and passions, with the net outcome really being wasted time, and depleted brain storage. So virtually overnight I decided enough is enough.  I was going to un-plug from all things I could not directly control and focus my energy and passions on what I can control; primarily myself and my sphere of influence.  

The very next day I ordered a few books to jump start the gray matter, downloaded a bunch of podcasts, dusted off the running shoes and started a quest of influencing my own life and others in a positive direction. The crazy thing about this epiphany is this: What we draw our happiness from, namely those things that mean the most to us, are ninety percent of the time within arm’s reach. Think for a moment about how depressing the news is, but how amazing having a good conversation with friends over dinner can be. Contrast how trivial pop gossip is when compared to the satisfaction of learning something new. How much energy does it waste to argue a political opinion versus spending that time developing a new hobby?  Why do we tend to worry more about things that are beyond our control nationally, than paying attention to what is happening at the school board, county, or city level.

Let’s face it.  Life is extremely complicated as is,  and I disparage no one for their involvement with government or other distractions. The point I am trying to make is that we have the choice to either live our lives to the fullest or allow them to be riddled with an array of distractions. I can only speak for myself and my recent experience, but since taking this stance I am happier then I have been in years. I have learned some pretty amazing things, become a better father and husband, lost a few pounds, and am actively involved in local initiatives such as developing a mixed use trail system in my community.

So…in conclusion, I use this format not as a pulpit, but simply to share what has turned my F word experience from a gas station taquito into a glorious, smothered, chipotle-infused steak burrito with hot sauce (just saying). As the great Cuban Jazz leader Joe Cuba once stated, "Try it... You'll Like it."

Like what you have read?  #justifyingthefword or follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/justifyingthefword/timeline

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thank The Lord For The Night Time

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
 ~Vincent Van Gogh

Bob Wiley once stated, "There are two types of people in this world, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." Let me just say for my money it does not get any better than the Jazz Singer himself. Yep, "Thank the Lord For the Night Time." Bringing this full circle, on a recommendation from a friend I picked up a fairly priced light for my mountain bike. After multiple times of skirting death by riding down a mountain in the dark, I knew that my almost 40 year old self could spring for a light. Amazon does not disappoint, so upon arrival I was set on giving it a go. 

After my PM invitation to ride was declined by my amigos due to prior commitments, I headed up the mountain by myself. Once at the trail head I hooked up my light and turned on the Ryan Adam's Gold album and started pedaling at dusk. As my light flooded the trail, two thoughts came to mind.

1)     “Man this is peaceful”


2)     “I should have a healthier respect for apex predators who live in the mountains”

As I illuminated the night with my super cool light (no intention of rhyming) I became slightly overwhelmed by the beauty of the world in darkness. I have done this ride at least 20 or 30 times in the day but this time was different.  The shroud of night completely changed the dynamic of the entire ride and really made me think of how peaceful being alone in the dark really is. The nighttime sang its song as I cast shadows up the trail, disrupting an owl, being buzzed by numerous bats, and contemplating how Ryan Adams could have written such a good record start to finish (alien Technology, or the lost secrets of the Mayan’s being the only logical explanation). Upon reaching the top and seeing the stars, I felt an indescribable peace and fulfillment.

Roughly half of our 24 hour day is shrouded in darkness and when the sun goes down we tend to go inside. I blame this on evolution's, “let’s not become dinner for a saber toothed tiger gene.”  With this healthy fear passed down from our caveman brethren. We shut the door on the night. With so much noise and action in our everyday lives there is a solitude that only the night can deliver. If it has been a few since you stepped out into the void, I highly recommend it. The initial fear of the dark is healthy, but remember it is based around being unfamiliar with a new environment.  As a challenge to the “ F”  word nation, take a walk this week in the dark or sit out in your back yard and check out the stars.  Take the time when silence prevails to hash out or relish on whatever is floating around in your mind. Most importantly, if you do happen to get eaten on your night stroll by an apex predator your kids will have bragging rights on parental demise forever!