Saturday, November 7, 2015

Just Dance Your Dance

 I was the chaperone at a high school dance last night.  It was a side organization that tries to create safe environments for students to have fun and get mentored by some fun loving adults. There was plenty of food, a dance floor and a DJ with lights and a smoke machine! Because nothing in life is quite as epic without a smoke machine ... Right?  There were students from multiple schools in the county. Out of all those people, there was one couple in particular that caught my eye and intrigued me.  The guy was tall and skinny and was incredibly outgoing. He couldn't dance worth much, but that didn't stop him from gyrating all over the dance floor!  He would dance with his friends and he would dance with his girlfriend holding her arms and wailing them as wildly as he was. It didn't seem like he knew a single stranger. His girlfriend was quite the opposite. She was a fairly attractive young lady, but she seemed quite timid and unsure of herself. She would follow her boyfriend around just waiting to see what else he was going to do. She wanted to be a part of whatever he was doing. She would start to dance… or at least move her hands in a slightly awkward dancing fashion without moving them outside of her shoulders, bent at the elbows and when her boyfriend would turn to her, she would raise her I eyebrows and give an open mouth smile like she was having the time of her life! Then when he would turn away from her, she would settle down to that awkward stance and even step just slightly off the dance floor as to get out of such an unfamiliar environment. She was trying so hard not to mess up and not do anything embarrassing or awkward.  The problem is that in her trying so hard to be perfect and not awkward, it made her look so incredibly awkward! The very thing that she was trying to avoid by her actions, she actually brought on herself by those same actions. You could easily tell that she did not know who she was outside of being this guy's girlfriend. Now, don't get me wrong, he was incredibly nice to her and seemed to be a good boyfriend. She just had no identity outside of him and her fear of messing up was crippling her.

 I have been there before. Trying for the acceptance and approval of a new boss or a new group of friends and the very things that I would do in order to gain their favor would end up being what made me all the more the awkward and unsuccessful. Some of my most appreciated and accepted moments are when I wasn't even trying! When I was just being who I am.

When I go shopping with my wife, I get bored. However malls were made just for me. Each store has a new song playing, a new mood and a new way to ... annoy my wife! The mall is where I get to experiment with new dance moves and I usually do them in order to gain the attention of my wife or a random shopper. All my best moves come from this very awkward experiment of body movements. And to be honest, I am actually incredibly awkward. I know that I am seeking attention and acceptance but because I am trying for it, I normally get this horribly peeved look and the exact opposite of my goal. ... Or is it? ...

I have been caught many other times, in my own world. Not that I am totally tuned out, but when the music is on you can catch me bobbing my head, moving my legs or strutting my shoulders to the beat. This will sometimes get a giggle from an unsuspected passerby. In these moments, I am not intending the approval of anyone, but I get it for no other reason than I am not trying for it!

Now, I know that my theory is circumstantial and you certainly should not "try" and get attention, acceptance or approval by Not trying! That's like a double negative. None of that shouldn't work never!

Be yourself! Be the best you that you can be and don't ever question it! Do your thing, be who you are and people will respect you all the more for it! You do you!

Just Dance Your Dance!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ride that wave!

Labor Day weekend, The first Monday of September that is intended to be a celebration of all of our labors and hard work, actually tends to be a marker for the end of summer. Almost like a last celebration. The final cookout, the last get together, and the last chance to be outside with semi-warm temperatures! People bring in their piers and boats from the water. Lawn chairs and grills get put back in the garage. And water parks shut down for the season.

I took advantage of this last opportunity! I took my kids to a waterpark! Now this waterpark had a lot of really cool slides and pools, but one in particular that had the attention of quite a few was the wave pool. It was this padded tarp in the shape of the inside of a wave. There was a deck at the top of this "wave" from which you were to start. There was water forced from the bottom of this ramp up to the deck in order to create the function of a wave in the ocean. It had two sections, one side for beginners with a trainer and the other side for those who could start by themselves. My kids were so excited to try it for themselves! So, I signed them up with a form that stated that in the event of injury or death the waterpark was not responsible! ... Do those forms ever make you feel a little less like a responsible parent?… Na, I mean, as long as they had fun… Right? ... Once they were signed up and waiting in line, I sat and watched as others attempted this seemingly difficult feat. Some would start with their belly to the board and others would jump on the board with two feet. My nine and ten year old son's would start on their bellies and regularly get splashed in the face! This always made me chuckle a bit. As they learned to maneuver the board there were obvious over compensations they made that sent them off of the board and when they hit the water it was with such a force that it sent them flying over the crest of the wave and onto the deck above! This was hilarious to watch! Someone trying so hard with such intensity would wipe out, face plant, flip over and then the force of the water would send them soaring up over the wave! The wipe outs became more intense for those who would attempt actually surfing standing up ... Which my twelve year old daughter decided to try with one of the trainers. Now she has had an unfair advantage as my exwife takes them to the lake quite often and has wake surfed and wake boarded behind a boat several times. Many who would attempt would find a position and hold it as stiff as possible hoping not to lose it. This would hold them for a second or two but with one slight change in the wave structure they didn't know what to do because holding the same position didn't make sense anymore and the would fall soon after. My daughter acted very similarly to those on the experienced side. She kept a good stance but honestly stayed quite flexible even testing the waves to see what she could do sliding back and forth and even bending to touch the water below. She stayed up much longer than those who would attempt with such a firm, strict and unwavering stance. Her flexibility allowed her to continue to ride the waves. She would feel the waves and move with them and at times even control them. At this point, when she was done she no longer feared the wave and would drop off of the board and let the wave take her to the deck. I was a pretty proud dad!

Over the centuries life has been metaphorically compared to a wave. The similarities of their rise and fall, consistent yet unpredictable nature. Many times i use this metaphor as though I am under the waves, nearly drowning and they keep knocking me down. However in watching my daughter tame the waves, take away their fear and actually ride them, I realized, we can do this in life too. We can not ride on top with a rigid, fixed and unwavering approach. We have to be able to flex, feel and move with it.

My life certainly has not turned out how I planned, but you know what, I have learned to ride that wave!

The life that you have had planned for yourself may need to change. The life you have planned for others will certainly have to change! There may be things, ideas or people that you have labeled as wrong that need relabeled. There may be events and situations that need evaluated differently. Otherwise you will not ever get back on top of the wave.

Even flexing and feeling the wave you are going to fall, but this time staying under it is not an option! So you get back up on two feet, flex and feel the wave and ride it once again!

You can do it! You are completely able and capable! I believe in you! Ride that wave!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Bees are Coming!

Yesterday I was headed out of the house for work when in the living room I had seen two bumble bees in the house. Not a big deal. We have been letting our new dog in and out of the back sliding door and sometimes we don't get it completely shut. I opened the door and guided them outside and went off to work. This morning I came downstairs and there were two more bees inside my house. These two bees were being much more difficult in their guidance out the door. I got a little frustrated with them and just took the flip flop in my hand and I smashed them both! Okay ... Done ... Problem Solved! 

I know that bees are good for the eco system. They are huge in the reproduction of the plants around us and who can deny a creature that makes dessert! I sure do love honey! However, they have stingers, and when they come into my home which is intended to protect us from these outside forces and don't listen well to my politely asking them to leave ... I must turn to protect my humble abode!

After killing those two bees, I didn't realize that I had triggered a man-hunt! I was laying on the couch, getting ready to write a completely different blog when I was surrounded by about ten bees ... in my house! I went from relaxing on the couch to running for my life out of my home! When outside of the house, I noticed some more bees flying around the corner of my foundation. As I creeped closer, I could see that they were entering and exiting through a crack in the foundation. They were living under my house and some how made their way inside. I immediately contacted my wife and my landlord. They are sending an exterminator later today. 

The bees were claiming my home as theirs! So, until I get the cure to my infestation, how do I still live in the home that I had once deemed safe? What does any man do when his home has been invaded by Stinger and his mob? We instantly turn into Chuck Norris, ready to kick butt and take names! So I barge in ... more like slowly and timidly open the door and slither inside along the furthest wall away from the bees. I noticed that they are no longer flying all over the room, they have all been attracted to the front window. I grab my nun chucks in the form of two flip flops and I take my stance like I had seen in the movies. I would sneak up to the window, get my flip flop as close to the bee on the window to avoid missing and unnecessary impact, hoping not to break the window. I smack it and I run away, ducking for cover all the way to the kitchen. When I figured out that the rest of them didn't follow after me in revenge, I slowly peeked around the kitchen wall. I tiptoed back over to the window, hit another one and stepped back away. I gained confidence and continued to take them down one by one like a ninja warrior until all were do out of commission. That is when I could sit down and started this blog. Now every once in a while a couple of bees come out from the separation between by lower wall trim and the carpet and I let them stay because only a few are not bothersome, however when they invite all their friends to the party I have to shut it down! 

I know that I may not have handled this situation correctly, there may have been a much more peaceful and environmentally encouraging way to handle my problem today, I just couldn't find one on the internet that didn't encourage being assisted by a pest professional which I am not. I certainly don't condone violence though we all wish in our inner being that we could make someone who attacks us look at least a little foolish. 

Our lives, so often, feels like my bumble be adventure today! I have felt surrounded by a swarm anticipating the sting and maybe have even been stung a few times. There are times when try to defend myself and just start out swinging. That only seems to make it worse and the swarm gets hostile. Other time I just stay laying there like "here we go again" assuming the worst and that there is no reason to do anything about it. Acting defeated still never fixes anything. However, when I have stepped outside of my life, kind of paused it for a moment and reflected. Just like I stepped outside the house and looked for the problem. I can find where it all started, and fix the source of it all. Many times that means that I need help. Help sometimes comes from friends or family and sometimes it comes from a professional, someone trained to handle these problems. They then coach me through the healing and restoration necessary to again have peace and sanity! When I can step back and look at it, when you can find the core, it is so empowering! Even with the help of others it still puts me on top of your world! 

You can do it! You are strong! Your life is beautiful and we are all better off that you are with us!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


My four year old daughter now has shoes with laces! I am not okay with this! She is my baby girl, she can't be learning to tie shoes! Anyway, that's a complete side note. We were at the park the first time she had them when she ran by me and I noticed that they were both untied. I didn't figure that they would stay tied permanently. So I flag her down, sit her down and tie her shoes. She then takes off to play on the play set. Not more than five minutes later, she runs by me again, shoe laces bouncing around her feet like snakes trying to bite her legs. I get her to stop again and I tie them up. She tells me "Thank you" in her sweet little voice which always makes it all okay and she runs away once again. She then slides down the slide and I see her shoe strings dangling lifelessly from her shoes as she sits on the edge. Seriously! Am I just that bad at tying shoes? Will they never stay tied? I tie them up, she takes off and up the climbing wall. As she approached the top she turned around pulls her knees to her chest and starts tugging at her shoe laces! She has been messing with them this whole time! She would grab the ends with curiosity transferring between the end an the loop trying to process what is going on with them. She wasn't pulling at them because they bothered her but because she was interested, curious and intrigued! In the process they would come untied and she would begin her attempts at putting it all back together which were unsuccessful because she is four and her hand-eye coordination is not quite developed yet. The mystery of the untied shoe strings is solved ... Except... What about my twelve year old daughter? Her shoe strings are always untied too ... To be continued...

We went to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo a few weeks ago and my kids really enjoyed it! The problem with the Zoo is that many of the animals have too many places to hide. They are lazy and try to get away from us spectators. How rude! Don't they know that I paid good money to see them! They should be alert and alive and performing for us, right? I know, the Zoo really is for the animals, bringing awareness to their kind and concern for their habitats while trying to give them the most natural living arrangements possible. Which means places to hide as well. However, there was one creature that broke the trend. We were walking along a wooden walkway through the "African Safari" area of the Zoo. As we approached a deck where there were like ten kids huddled around a section of the rails. There was lots of excitement and energy. Laughing and sometimes fear! The kids were playing with an ostrich! The Zoo keeper was there that was in charge of this area stated that the ostrich is very curious and interested. It was happy and having fun, as were the kids. Both the kids and the ostrich were interested, curious and intrigued! 

My twelve year old daughter has a Rip Stick. It is kind of like a skateboard but it only has two wheels like those on in-line skates (roller blades), one under the front foot and another under the back foot, each able to rotate. It also has a swivel bar between both sections allowing the propelling of it by twisting your hips and repeatedly flexing your ankles alternating left and right. My daughter is pretty good at it. She was curious and interested in doing more than just riding it, so we looked up on YouTube how to do some simple tricks. We learned how to do a manual (wheelie) where you prop up the nose just riding on the back wheel. Once she is comfortable with the instructions she decides to try it for herself. She gets herself going, leans back then stumbles and steps off. She gets back on it to try again only to arrive at the same result. She attempted this multiple times without success. I asked her what she thought was wrong and she said that it was because she is scared. Her fear was holding her back from accomplishing this trick. 

Fear is a good thing. It is our brain's way of telling us something is dangerous and that we may get hurt! If there was no fear then our ancestors would have died off a long time ago. The problem that we have is that we missuse fear. We so often think if fear as something that happens to us instead of something that we can use. This is why we can lock up and shut down! This missuse of fear keeps us from trying new things, making great accomplishments and having a lot of fun!

While we were at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, the kids were excited to get on the Sky Safari! It was like a ski lift, a bench hanging from a cable that lifts you up above the trees in order to see a large portion of the zoo from above. I have a fear of heights! This is a good thing, because he keeps me from putting myself in positions where I could fall plummeting to my death. My biggest fear was not necessarily me falling off of these sky high benches but one of my kids falling and there being nothing I could do to save them. The problem in this instance is that it was hindering me from having fun with my kids! This ride is safe! It's been there for years and they use these all over the world! I am not going to say that I had nothing to fear, but I didn't need to let it hinder me and take control of me! I just needed to take control of it and you know what, I and my kids had a blast! It was a lot of fun and no one got hurt.

Courage is not the absence of fear it is the use of fear in your favor.

Take control of your fear. Be intrigued, try new things, use fear to your advantage and change the world!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

These people are so weird!

I met this family the other day that was so weird! First off the father, he was balding but none of his kids are! Was he really even their father? His adult son was even a good 5 inches taller than him and his wife! As we were talking his son said something and then started laughing. Not like a real laugh but this weird "ha ha ha" as he was looking at the rest of his family for confirmation which was only responded to by his father who says "That's about as bad as mine" and then he starts laughing too! It wasn't funny, I didn't get it! Then his sister chimes in with this story. The thing is that as she begins to tell it, it's in this monologue style like it was previously written even though it wasn't. It was hilarious, but yet such a dramatic representation which is probably part of why it was so funny. The mother then comes out of the blue with some quick fact about a family friend who just found out that they had cancer. Wow, what a mood crusher! That was unexpected. We were just all laughing, not at the son's joke, but at the daughter's story and then the laughing just died. Who does that? Then the other daughter, the earlier daughter's twin, who looks nothing like the other, speaks to the mother with concern and questions that everyone responds to in complete sincerity as though they weren't just laughing hysterically. Then the father speaks up once again explaining in gruesome detail the last doctor's appointment that he had and instead of seeing this a obscenely weird, one of the twins begins asking a series of medical questions like some sort of medical nerd. I assume that she must be a nurse or a doctor, but she's not!

This family is so weird!

This is my family! My family is so weird!

In the eighties, Tom Cruise was someone that I looked up to. He was such a cool guy in Top Gun and always seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, could make solid decisions and was quite rational. However today you can Google "Tom Cruise Crazy" and you get so many articles about how Tom has gone crazy, nuts and just plain weird!

When someone believes, acts or lives differently than we do, we lump them in a box of weird, odd and crazy.

I have this saying that heard once yet I can't remember from who, that I tell myself (and sometimes others) when ever I meet someone and find out that they are just plain nuts in one way or another, "Everybody's normal until you meet them!" You see, even I can't escape the reality that some people could see me as someone they look up to until they really meet me and find out that I am a few french fries short of a full order!

My kids like to tell me how weird I am and when they do, I respond, "That's what makes me so special!" No one else is like me, I am my own person and that's what makes me weird and amazing!

We tend to surround ourselves with the people that are the same kind of weird as us and then we tell ourselves, "I have finally found someone normal!" In many ways that can be very therapeutic and helpful, but if that is all that we let into our lives, we can end up very bland and close-minded. It can honestly get quite lonely if you can't end up finding those who meet those guidelines for you. 

Whenever I see someone and think that their life, beliefs and views are crazy, weird and out-of-the-box I actually tend to spend more time with them. I have so many questions to ask and they make me incredibly curious. Even if I don't believe the same way that they do after my questioning, I normally find out that they are the way that they are for a reason. They have had life experiences, medical conditions or a biology that makes them the way that they are and I find that so fascinating! To be honest, somebody's differences from me are what draws me the closest to them. That's why my family is so fun to be around, because we are so different and weird that I just can't get enough of them!

If you find that your life is pretty normal and the people around you all make sense, then you haven't asked enough questions of them or haven't opened up about who you really are. Find others who are so different than you and dig a little deeper, I bet you will find some of your best and most lasting friendships.

You are weird! Embrace it and love the things that make you different from others!
Surround yourself with weird and gain a whole new understanding of this world!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What's Your Next Adventure?

The other day, I called to to talk with my kids, when on the other end of the phone I here screaming and excitement! I hear, "Samiah Caught a Fish! Samiah Caught a Fish!" Zadyn, my nine year old son, had been helping Samiah, my four year old daughter, how to fish off of the peer at the lake. It takes a little bit for him to get it put away so that they could come chat with me, but as soon as the fish gets put in a bucket of water, Zadyn take's no time to tell me "Samiah Caught a Fish and it's the biggest [of it's kind (I don't know fish very well)] that I have ever seen!" Zadyn was so excited! He had not only taught his little sister to fish, but she caught a big one, not just some we little one, this one competes with what he catches! Zadyn is nearly a professional fisherman, he's just too young to get paid for it. He catches a ton of fish, frogs, tadpoles, crawdads and many other aquatic creatures. He is always concocting a new adventure and this day, this adventure was to teach his little sister to fish! What an exciting time that was and I was only on the other end of the phone!

My 12 year old daughter Awan has always been a climber. She was climbing into her stroller on her own when she was one, climbed to the top of her closet when she was two and continued climbing on everything else even to this day. At the park there was this tree that, when she was younger, she wanted to climb. Now my rule for my kids in climbing things is that I will not lift you into or onto it, but if you can climb into or onto it, I will be close for the catch but I will let you continue to climb. I feel that if any one of them needs my help to get into or onto it, then he or she is not physically strong enough to be in or on it. Well this tree at the park was just that for a little while for Awan. She was not developed enough to lift herself past the trunk in order to get into the branches so she was not allowed into it by any help. She grew older, taller and stronger and eventually could climb in that tree. The day that she could get into that tree was an exhilarating day! She was so excited and I was ecstatic for her! What a great new adventure for her!

We visited that same park a couple of weeks ago. Awan comes up to me and waves me to come see something. She takes me over to that same tree and steps into it with ease. She says to me "This tree is so small! I am bigger than it!" Now she wasn't literally bigger than the tree, but it was so easy for her to climb in, she basically owned that tree. That tree was no longer an adventure for her. It was a nice trip down memory lane, but no longer the adventure that it once was. She jumped out of the tree and was on to her next adventure ... how to ride a Ripstick! (Lessons on the Ripstick graciously given by her father who once broke his arm riding one! LOL)

You know, there are so many times that we fall into new adventures! Some we like and enjoy, others start out with us not liking it but then we take on the challenge and push forward learning how to get through it, we end up enjoying it. We end up stronger, wiser and better because of it! Whether we like them or not, these are the adventures of our lives and we certainly wouldn't be the person that we are today with out them. What if we started looking for our new adventures? What if we looked at the old adventure, realize that we are bigger than it and move on toward the next one, actively seeking for it instead of accidentally falling into it? What could our world look like then? You could find someone new to teach something to! (Maybe they do it even better than you!) You could find a challenge that you are unsure about, but could make life better for you and those around you and actually try it! The greatest ideas have come from people who have stepped away from the old adventure, knowing that it is now over and moved toward something new! You can do just that. You can change your world, make things better and improve the lives of those around you. You are capable, able and tough enough to try!

You are going to do amazing things!


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


We were at Subway eating dinner. It's always a challenge getting four kids to place their orders and keep their attention focused all the way through the meats and on through the vegetables. If one of them gets theirs toasted, you've lost them and you have got to hunt them down and get them back for the vegetables. Luckily Subway restaurants are never that big! We sat down with our sandwiches and began to eat. I can usually relax a little when there is food in front of the kids, it keeps them out of trouble. LOL. As we were eating I hear Zadyn, my nine year old son, start giggling. His giggles get louder and then he is full out laughing! At this point I look over and he can't keep his eyes open, he gasps for breath in between the extended laughter. I start to smile, I look over at Awan, my twelve year old daughter and she is laughing too. She actually has no idea what Zadyn is laughing about but because he is laughing, so does she! At this point I start to giggle a bit to myself and look around as other people look over ... smiling! My dad was with us and I heard a giggle from him. My nearly 4 year old daughter looks at me pointing at Zadyn and lets out a ha ha ha. The other people in subway, even the employees are either smiling or giggling under their breath! I still don't know what he was laughing about, but does it matter? He started an epidemic, an outbreak of laughter that was so contagious the whole restaurant was affected or infected!

When we talk about the contagious, we normally talk about diseases. Colds, the flu, west nile, ebola, etc. However, there are so many more things that are so contagious that we don't normally even think about. Excitement, sadness, encouragement or abuse. Traditions, traits, passions and care can all be just as contagious.

A few weeks ago I wrote an experimental post called "Hopeless" where I expressed some troubled feelings that was having at the time. It wasn't a positive post. It was difficult to write and difficult for some to read, however, I had several people talk to me about how they felt the same way. How they had situations where they felt hopeless and it honestly felt good to them that they weren't the only one that felt this way. They connected and by their admittance, I believe that we both felt a little stronger and even encouraged by such a negative topic. Sharing your pain can be contagious too! And contagious in a good way. I'm not talking about just being negative, but truly sharing the the pain and the source of it. Negativity is just a fa├žade to hide the true problem, the true pain. Truly and honestly sharing your pain can bring out other who are or have dealt with it before and their are strength in numbers. Your pain is not your own, someone else has gone through it and all can be helped by it!

Two of my children are adopted, from Ethiopia. When we decided to adopt we began to talk about it with friends and family as any parents do with the induction of any new family member. The word spread quickly and others began to wonder and ask questions. People in a position where adoption wasn't even considered an option because they had never thought about it, were now thinking about it and I have even helped several families as they took steps toward inviting someone new into their family.

When someone else gets excited, don't we even a little? When someone else cries, don't we even a little? When someone else gets stronger, don't we even a little?

Your life is contagious! What you choose, how you live and what you say will affect those around you! Even those that your decisions don't even directly benefit will be touched. Be passionate, get excited, share with others, care for others, start traditions that mean something and encourage those around you! As insignificant you think your life may be, you have a huge foot print. Just start laughing in a restaurant and see!

You can make a difference, you are contagious!