It’s my birthday Monday (May 4th) and I say: “So what”! I never really understood the people that made WAY too big of a deal over it being their birthday.
You know the ones, they post things on Facebook like: It’s my birthday week, or I’ve been counting down since last month or sometimes, like a woman I know well, they even give their birthday day event a title like “The Month of Melody” (no kidding, she celebrated for a solid month)! WTH!
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my birthdays, and do feel like it’s a necessity to acknowledge a passing years’ time for the real achievement that it is, but com’on already!
If you spend a month in the celebration of your birth date coming and going, then how do you then celebrate other milestones… like the first sight of crow’s feet or a first grey hair, successfully grilling a first steak or the first time ever properly trimming the dogs toenails… should a first pumping of a perfect tank of gas get you a parade float named in your honor? No.
So then please, celebrate your ability to turn the calendar page of your birth as you wish, but let’s all try to keep a perspective on just how big of an event it really is.
In closing I’ll admit that milestone birthdays are big ones (I'll be celebrating one next year) and I hope that they are recognized as such. So, if it’s going to be your 30th, 70th, or 100th birthday then have a PARTY maybe a two day festival… but if your 43rd birthday is looming, have a cake, that’ll be plenty.
For the last several weeks I’ve been pondering a disturbing thought: Am I getting boring?
Laugh if you will but for a man like me this is a pressing issue. Am I becoming more refined as I age or am I careening toward being labeled predictable for my indulgences?
I have always been a man who could pride myself on being a stand-alone thinker when it comes to the things that I choose to surround my life with. I consistently opted for different stuff than what people would expect, and always steered clear of the crowd mentality when it came to almost anything… food, drink, music, cars, career choices… even relationships for me were unlike my NEPA peers!
Let me prove my point with some concrete examples: I have an unabashed of love Japanese food, you can easily win my heart with a perfect Southern Comfort Manhattan, I stop cold when I hear early ‘90’s country (and Dave Brubeck), a black 1979 Trans Am can literally make my knees weak, and I’m a radio DJ… dear God I even married a woman who’s from South Carolina (as opposed to a girl from the good ole NEPA)! All different choices from what the average person you’d see at the Viewmont Mall would have opted for!
But as of late I find myself becoming a bit more basic in my choices… am I losing my MOJO?
but I prefer the word streamlined to describe my thinking these days: The restaurants I frequent are few (but great), the clothes I wear are usually always black, I love a well shaken So-Co Manny (rocks please), I enjoy the back deck of our house as opposed to a bar stool, and I require only the curve of my wife’s smiling face to help me recover from a less than perfect week… you see simple, and kinda scary.
Yes, I may be getting what some would call a bit boring these days, but if there’s one perfect gift that time gives us it’s peace… and I feel it a little bit more every day.
With Easter upon us, I thought I’d share a story of faith… re-found.
I’m not going to lie… I was always partially unplugged from our church. My parents were devout in their faith and weekly attendance to our chosen house of worship, but me, I was what you could easily describe as lack luster at best. I felt like it might be uncool to be as faithful as my parents were… and that’s where my latest life lesson was set into motion.
As a kid I started out strong in my weekly show of faith, mainly because my parents gave me no choice in the matter, but began to fade as the years went on, and eventually got to where I could count the dates that I’d been warming a pew in single digits… and that was based on a multi-year span of time.
Our church, like many scores of others, had a significantly older population and was typical for turning over a pastor every 4-5 years, it was discouraging. It also, being and old school Baptist church, was pretty strict on dress code (or maybe that was just my mom who made me put on my Sunday best) but a tie was suggested and so was a sport coat. Uncool.
Time passed, workloads got bigger and later into the night, and my interest in being religious went flatly numb. I found myself talking to God less and less, and for me attending church was a thing of the distant past.
Strangely I didn’t even notice the changes that were taking place in me since taking the cool guy exit ramp. I was not the same person anymore; I felt no shame for being an absentee to faith and prayer. I went from asking for strength and being thankful for simple blessings to wondering why I felt so lost and frequently alone… it should’ve been obvious to me that I had left the high road a long time prior, but it simply wasn’t… until a random Thursday evening family dinner.
Erika, Piper and I seldom eat as a family (something my parents did nightly) so when she suggested that we “dine at the table like normal families do”, I jumped at the chance. I cooked, she set the table and Piper helped me serve. We sat down, draped the napkins across our laps and prepared to dine… but as I reached for my fork my wife intercepted my hand, held it tight, then reached for Piper’s and bowed her head and began praying.
I sat there speechless, listening as she spoke the words of thankfulness for our little family, and warm home, and the food that was on the plates. As she spoke I could feel the vibrations of her voice resonate in my hand; it was humbling. I peeked over to see a smiling 5 year old; unaware of exactly what was happening, but somehow knowing that she was feeling the peace of the moment and the powerful calm of grace.
I could feel my face flush in that moment of self judgement; I hadn't prayed in months. Right then I knew that I had drifted away from being a person of faith to being an unstable fool. I felt embarrassed that it had taken a simple act of being thankful to our creator for a weeknight meal that showed me how far I had fallen from my own spirituality.
I’m no saint, nor will I ever be, but I see now that I have some work to do. I may never be a consistent church goer, but I am sure that I do have to begin my journey back to a graceful life. Being cool included.
While driving Piper to dance class the other day she looked at me with a sheepish smile and said “Can we rock out on the way home?” I was happily shocked, and I had to ask where she’d learned the fine of rocking out, the story was perfect.
Apparently during her recent stay at her grandparent's house, while Erika and I were in vacation in the Virgin Islands, she was in grandpa Dave’s car when the old Guns & Roses song Paradise City came on and he seized the chance to show her the greatness of loud music and the delirium of sensory overload that it can produce!
She was inspired!
Remember, if you can, the very first time that someone did you the honor of teaching you to rock out… or basically lose yourself in a song (or 5). Take a moment to honor those people who introduced you to the warm feel of confusion brought on by rocking out, for they have given you the gift of musical appreciation that many others don’t, and may never will have.
Piper has learned it at 5!
I turned on the radio and the first sound we heard was the Eric Church’s Drink In My Hand.
As a broad & devilish smile spread across her face she looked at me in the rearview mirror and said the coolest (and most fitting) thing that she could've, as if she were reading from An Introduction to Being a Young Rocker’s script:
“Could you turn this up… real loud?”
My reply: “Of course I can sweetheart… Let’s ROCK!”
I don’t know about you but I’m going a little stir crazy in the blinding cold snap we’ve been suffering through these last several weeks. With temps well below freezing, in fact well below 20 degrees, the idea of being outside is not only unsavory but downright unappetizing! So I have found myself doing indoor activities to keep my mind straight… and lots of them involve cooking, I fact all of them do.
I looked in the fridge this morning and was truly astonished to see that it was stuffed FULL of meals that I have been cooking to relieve my “cabin fever”. My tastes have never been for colder weather, so I apparently have taken on the challenge to flavor this winter with my own menu of options that I am creating myself.
I actually didn’t realize that I was doing this until Thursday evening, when I received a text from Erika asking what I wanted her to make for dinner (since I had stopped by her work, picked up Piper from school, dressed her for dance, and was taking her to class that evening) she wanted to do it as a thank you gesture for my extra work. My reply to her was “no need to cook, I made you chicken strips with mushrooms and leeks in a light wine sauce”.
It’s not that I don’t like cooking, believe me I do, but I am doing it out of complete and udder winter insanity! I find it kinda odd that I didn’t see this manic cooking obsession occurring until the fridge was literally full of cooked (in some cases gormet) food from light bulb to crisper!
Should I be concerned, maybe, but if there is a family dinner, or snack, or anything food related happening I have made it this month… and until it warms up, I don’t see it stopping.
Raising a child is hard work. If you choose to disagree, then you’re a better person that almost every parent that I have ever encountered. I once heard a father say that “it takes a village” (to raise a child), paraphrasing an old Oprah line, and I think he’s right.
I have no kids of my own, but I refer to my step-daughter Piper as my daughter, and helping her navigate this earth has been as much of an amazing learning experience for me as it’s been for her.
I pick her up from school each and every afternoon, and we roll home discussing her day and its highs and lows. Usually the conversation is bright and bubbly with the occasional exhaustion induced meltdown (followed by a nap), but overall our afternoons are pretty predictable.
This week however, Piper has been suffering with the same seasonal virus that most of us Northeasterners have been battling as of late: the cough, the sneezing, the slight temperature, and in her case a genuine lack of sleep… it’s been torture for her, and for us.
She came bounding out of the school, happy to see me, and no doubt happy to be done with classes for the day, hugged my neck, jumped in her seat in the rear of my truck and barely made it to the parking lots exit before her head bobbed forward, sound asleep. She was out cold in a matter of time that could’ve been measured in seconds.
The trip home and most of the rest of the afternoon found her in a listless state of consciousness, and when she appeared at the kitchen door (semi-awake) about two hours later, she had sought me out for a hug that turned out to be a change of napping location… my shoulder.
I have found that one of the toughest things about raising a child is caring about them as much as you understandably do. You want to heal their hurt and sooth their illness, but usually can’t, and thus take on the almost guilty feeling of helplessness of being unable to do exactly that task. That nagging feeling of parental vulnerability is one only the deep love of a child can provoke, and it’s a tough pill to swallow.
I know in a few days, with proper rest and care that the bug will run its course, and she’ll be back to the happy little kindergartener she usually is, but for now Erika and I have the displeasure of having a front row seat to the Piper Is As Sick As Hell Show… and it’s awfully hard to watch!
I don’t know about you, but this time of year KILLS me. If there is a dog days of winter we are firmly in the middle of them!
Yeah, the days are getting longer, and yes we are in the range of half way done with winter, but MAN does this time of year drag! With the temps being consistently below freezing and the nights being longer than the daylight hours are, my frame of mind is in a very fragile way!
Now, I admit that I am not a winter sports person nor am I a fan of cold weather at all, I never have been, so I enter this conversation being biased to warm sunshine and beach climates, and thus it makes it harder for me to find even a sliver of attractiveness in the frigid months of Dec-Mar.
I’ve tried snowmobiling and skiing, tubing and ice fishing, all to no avail… each time I came away with a great set of memories and a few new skills, but at the same time deeply in need of an electric blanket and a hot toddy!
So I’ll take a second to say a quick I’m sorry to the few of us that relish the days of blinding snow and heavy coated attire, but I’m officially over it, and that’s the bad news, because I have to endure this agonizing frozen, ice covered torture for the better part of three more months.
If you need me I’ll be the one under the heat lamp! :/
We’re getting married… it’s amazing the varied range of responses that you get when you tell people these three little words. Some folks shake their heads, others ask if you’ve gone crazy, and some smile and laugh or squeal with delight, but happily, all of the responses are usually followed up with a handshake, or a hug and a solemn wish of congratulations.
When my wife and I got engaged several people were surprised that a person “at my age” would be getting married to someone, anyone… as if to say that “You’vemade it this far so why do that to yourself”. Do what exactly? Improve my life? Marry my best friend? Spend my days knowing that I had chosen happiness and dedication to the person who brings it into my life, over random searching and well hidden loneliness?
Was I missing something?
Strange as it may seem, there is no shortage of well-intended people who do truly feel that they need to provide you with some pearl of sage advice, brought forth from their own years (sometimes days) of interpersonal experience! Most were joking, I hope, and that served to make their verbiage both better and worse.
Now, not every one of the people that I told our happy news to spoke of doom and a life served in eternal regret, most were honestly happy for us, but ironically the crazy “words of warning” that came from a truly select few made me do some introspective thinking, and they brought me to a series of conclusions that I feel inclined to share with you:
-People will give you advice whether you want it or not.
-They’re trying to be funny (sort of).
-Those same people usually don’t know you well enough to give you that advice.
-As a rule, it’s best to not listen to them.
Here’s my own words of advice to the people who say things like: “Why ruin your life by getting married?":
When a person (like me) is happy, don’t try to change that… find another lonely, angry, scared person just like yourself, and chat with them about how big of a fool I am being for marrying my best friend. In the meantime my wife and I will be living happily ever after… will you?
I'm thankful for The Philadelphia Eagles, cold beer, my 55" flat screen, a good steak, the DVR, macadamia nuts, Hawaii Five-O and anything that drives Selena crazy...
I'm thankful for the NFL Sunday Ticket and the Red Zone Channel as well as the Multi View NCAAF channel and the way that DCTC’s Amy Jo keeps Piper in awe for hours...
I am thankful for Barrett's chicken wings and bar pie pizza (with mushrooms) a semi-dry Chianti and a Love Boat of sushi...
I am thankful for the heated seats in my car and really good blue cheese...
Buffalo chicken flavored Doritos and horseradish cheddar by the block...
I am thankful for Bacon, in all forms, on all things, Oink...
I am thankful for a beautiful, and crazy, blonde goddess named Erika and her nearly perfect five year old daughter Piper and the unspeakable happiness that have brought to me since becoming a part of my world...
And I am thankful for you, yes you, who listens every day, and laughs, and tells (or forces) your friends to listen. I do this job, and keep this position on a day to day basis because of you and I thank God for this job and your dedication to our show more than you will ever know.
I feel the need to talk with you a bit about choices.
From the outside a choice is the simple and common act of deciding on something seems pretty mundane… you choose an option every second of everyday almost. Choices are usually tiny and require little thought or time to consider, they are done and over in a second and we barely know we’ve made a choice.
Choices like: should I eat in or take out or glance at that person, walk a bit faster or sit on this chair; simple, fast and usually uneventful… but the choices I am speaking of are the ones that seem small but are anything but.
I think it’s important to first say that the choices you make for yourself today will dictate the very life you’ll be living tomorrow. Remember that!
What you choose to do today will alter the best laid plan you may have for yourself in the future, maybe even your immediate future.
-You promised yourself you’d lose weight (and you plan on it) but eating the super-sized meal today is what you chose to do.
-You knew that if you were late to work one more time you’d get fired but you stayed out till 3am last night and couldn’t get up anyhow.
-Your spouse will be very mad if you don’t help with the laundry but going to the mall today was what you ended up doing! Etc.
This week marked the passing of a friend that had made so many bad choices in his existence that he felt certain that his future was doomed, and he ultimately took his own life. His choice to do so has sent a ripple effect through the family he left behind, a precious 4 year old daughter, the woman who truly loved him, his circle of stunned friends, and the community that he lived in. In truth he was a kind hearted man, yet he felt that the telling truth, and the act of doing the right thing, was just too boring and instead chose to inflate himself and his image through grandiose lies, as well as dodge his creditors and all his responsibilities. His denial of making the correct choices in life led to his inability to see things clearly at all… his tangled up life, that was easily fixable, was of no value to him -and he ultimately chose to end it.
Sad… but the life choices we make can and will do irreparable damage.
So now I ask you: What choice will you make today that will move you closer to your dreams? Will you admit that you need to make changes to get there, or will you lie and disguise the depth that you fallen to again? Will you walk confidently in the direction of your dreams or will you cower to the fear of the unknown?
Whatever you do, choose wisely today, and every day, and remember that you are going to either be rewarded or punished by what option you chose to make. Tomorrow is waiting… choose carefully.