Category Archives: For Love of Family
So, did you miss me? I know I haven’t written for a little while. Little things like a wedding, dance competitions, carving out new adventures, all seemed to have gotten in the way of my ramblings. Don’t fret though, I’m back.
I thought Father’s Day weekend was a great time to jump back into this blog thing. For me it’s a great time for reflection and introspection. So many great things have been happening lately and it really occurred to me how much I miss my dad. I vacillate between the joy and accomplishments of my beautiful daughters and the lack of opportunity to share them with my dad. A Father’s day conundrum.
My oldest daughter Ashley got married last month and while as the saying goes “you didn’t lose a daughter, you gained a son”, I somehow felt my little girl slipping through my fingers. “She will always be daddy’s little girl” wasn’t working really well for me either. I quietly struggled with the admission that she had grown up and that she was more than ready to carve out a new life of her own filled with joy, happiness and success.
I had to come to grips that being a dad now meant that my role, should there ever be a need for sage old advice or comfort for any heartache was to just offer a sympathetic ear or a selection of profound wisdom when called upon. I got that, but I couldn’t let go of a quote that I read years ago. I never could find the author who was attributed with saying it, but he simply said “a daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart”.
I come from a family where the men often had a difficult time holding their tears in. My grandfather cried. My dad cried. Not just at funerals or somber occasions, but at sad movies, winning touchdowns, overtime, and little kids birthday parties. . I cry at spilled milk, which really is pretty funny because I’m lactose intolerant.
I missed my dad as I walked my princess down the aisle. I wanted to cry and share with him in all of the bittersweet moments, but of course, I couldn’t. And for some strange reason I couldn’t cry.
That is not to suggest for one moment that I was not overcome with emotion, because of course I was. It was one of the most memorable and happiest days of my life. I had just made some bizarre fundamental commitment that I was going to hold my emotions in check. My kids wondered what was wrong. Why wasn’t dad crying?
Maybe a higher power was at work. A hand on my shoulder letting me know that I needed to be strong for the both of us. No meltdowns allowed.
I missed my dad him when my younger daughter Alexa took third place with her solo in a regional dance competition, performing it for only the second time on stage. She was awesome. I never saw her dance like that before. Her stage presence, her emotion, her technique was incredible.
I looked at my wife who was wiping away tears. I looked at Ashley whose tears were flowing the minute Alexa walked out on stage. I was stoic. Just didn’t cry. Maybe my father was there with me once again with his calming hand on my shoulder sharing in the great deal of pride we both felt.
With each movement I was memorized. This was my kid on stage. Commanding the attention of the audience and the judges who were going to critique her performance. I got goose bumps. I could feel my pride bubbling over, but I refused to cry.
Why couldn’t my dad be there to see this? He would have loved to watch her performance.
Some may say that Father’s Day like Mother’s Day, Valentines and Sweetest Days are Hallmark holidays and for some that may be true. But for some like me, it is a great day to ponder days of past present and future.
Yes, I really do miss my dad. I miss sharing and laughing. I miss ball games and bowling. I even miss lectures and an occasional spanking. But this weekend, I’m going to celebrate the memories we shared. I’m going to commit myself to laughing and maybe sharing a tear or two.
As far as my own two precious daughters, I am going to revel in their successes. I’m going to gloat, celebrate and shout out my enthusiasm about their victories, and I don’t care if I embarrass them. I know in time they will forgive me.
Since I hope you all have an awesome Father’s day weekend. Let me help you to solve the Father’s day conundrum. First remember that a great dad fills his wallet with pictures where the money used to be.
Secondly, take the time to remember what you valued most about your father and celebrate the days of joy and memories. Grab your kids and give them a big hug and kiss and tell them how proud you are of what they have made out of their lives and that being their dad is one of the greatest joys in your life. It’s even okay to shed a few tears.
Thank you dad for teaching me what it means to be a great father, Happy Father’s Day dad.
I recently wrote an article for the Detroit News and Free Press Working sections entitled “Turn your passion into employment. It was about uncovering what you loved to do and turning it into a life’s vocation. I didn’t realize at the time I wrote it how closely it hit home. While over the last year I had chosen to make some substantial changes in my career path, until I saw my words in print, I didn’t realize that in many ways I was talking about myself.
The wonderful thing about discovering what you’re passionate about is that you can jump in with both feet, become overcome with that passion, and all the while have little time to deal with the trivial things that used to make up your monotonous days.
As most of you know, last year after thirty years in the mortgage industry, I decided that I just didn’t want to do it anymore (I am still happy to help friends, relatives and the numerous past clients of mine who I came to love doing business with). I had headed up small companies and I led larger corporations. I tried out my entrepreneurial hat, and I was even elected by the governor to serve on Michigan’s inaugural Mortgage Industry Advisory Board.
And I got bored.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the mortgage industry; I just wasn’t passionate about it anymore. Too many changes and less for the good, than you as a consumer might suspect. We were all guilty. Lenders, Brokers, Wall Street, even the consumer played an integral part in its demise.
I was fifty three and working thirty years in an industry that no longer inspired me.
More than half of my working career was now over. While I give you that I made a good living which allowed me to sustain the quality of life that I wanted for my wife and girls (and I give you that is instrumental for me), I became selfishly unhappy.
Yea, I know “Happy wife, happy life”. But what if dad’s not happy? Are dads entitled to not be happy?
I loved everything about my life, except work. Why? Because it was work, a job I went to every day. I had gotten to the point where my career defined who I was.
I struggled with it and a tough couple of years ensued.
And then I realized, I didn’t have to be miserable. Being miserable was a choice I had made and I had what I had because, in truth, it’s what I wanted. And then, well, here’s a thought, I didn’t want it anymore.
However what was it that I wanted to do?
What was I passionate about? What did I possess the talent to do?
As a business coach I understand that there are two things you can’t coach. You can’t coach true passion (you are either passionate about something or you’re not) and you can’t coach a lack of talent (you can certainly coach up talent, you just can’t coach up a lack of talent for something).
I needed to uncover what it was that I was passionate about, because without being modest, I knew that I had the talent to do whatever I set my mind to do. What excited me? What couldn’t I wait to get involved in? What made me smile and feel fulfilled?
Whole Foods Markets were started by twenty-five year old college dropout John Mackey and twenty-one year old Rene Lawson Hardy, natural food connoisseurs who saved and borrowed money from family and friends to open their first store.
Apple computer was started by a “geek” in his garage, who prided himself on his electronic hacking ability. PCs Limited was the initial operations of Michael Dell run from his dorm room, until he decided to drop out of college to run his company full time.
In 1971, English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel, and writer Gordon Bowker invested $1,350 of their own money to open a store initially known as called Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice.
Talent agents once described Fred Astaire by saying “Can’t act, can’t sing, balding… Can dance a little” and Clark Gable with “What can you do with a guy with ears like that?”
So what was it for me?
If you have followed my blog from the beginning, you know where the title of the blog “Ramblings of the Bruce” came from. Well I decided, it was time for a new identity. I was going to take ownership of “The Bruce”.
Sure it was still going to be exciting in my new role as the Chief Marketing Officer at Main Street (the bank that bought my mortgage company), but I was going for branding. I wanted to accomplish something much bigger. I got hungry. I was going to fuel the fire brewing in my gut.
It was time that “The Bruce” was destined for greatness.
So who or what did I re-invent?
• I became a blogger and a Facebook philosopher who you found here (or maybe I found you).
• I became an author currently working on re-editing my first publication “It’s a Great Deal, All Three of Me Think So”.
• I became a contributing author to the Detroit News and Free Press.
• I perfected what I had learned coaching others and became a partner in Business Edge, an internationally recognized Executive Coaching Firm.
• I formed a partnership in a new and exciting entertainment firm entitled D’ City Sound.
• I got my mug in national publications.
You see my passion, aside from often talking too much, is helping others. I love to see people smiling and having a great time.
I love to help others see things that they might have never seen before.
I love the look in their eyes when they arrive at a solution or an answer and you can just see their whole lives unlocking behind their eyelids.
I love it when they smack their foreheads with the palm of their hands, as if to say “Was it really that obvious?”
For the first time in a long time I’m having the time of my life, and I am passionate about what I am doing.
Do you love what you do?
I mean are you really passionate about what it is that you do?
If you are and you do, it’s awesome, rewarding and fulfilling all at the same time. If you are not, take a step back and look at your business life. Look at it from the outside looking in and not how you have looked at it over the last ten or twenty years.
I say “Happy Dad, glad dad” too.
Or as George Burns once so eloquently said “I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate”.
Being passionate means not only discovering what you want to do more than anything, but resisting the urge to never attempt or quit because the challenge appears too great.
At this time last year I wrote a rather lengthy list of resolutions, or maybe better said goals or aspirations that I wanted to accomplish. I am happy to say I did a pretty decent job of fulfilling the items that I jotted down. Yes, I even had the privilege of helping a little old lady across the street. This year however, I have a different plan.
I’m going to take what some may see as a rather complex plan and make it simple. I’m going to limit myself to improving three areas of my life.
• Laugh a little more
• Love a little more
• Live a little more
For those of you who have been following my blog or read my book, you know that my favorite quote is by Robin Williams who once quipped “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
No, I am not saying that I’m going to be laughing more at you particularly (well, maybe some of you), but more specifically about myself and life in general. I’ve found that at times I have lost track of the fact that I can’t control what others say or do, but that I do have control over how I react.
Lawrence Welk, clearly known for his hilarity once said “There are good days and there are bad days and this is one of them.
Nothing personal, but I’m not going to let you get me angry or frustrated anymore. It started out as an awesome day and I’m going to make damn sure it ends as one. If your being a moron or an idiot, congratulations on that. I wish you well on your behavior and I hope for your sake you get that burger made your way.
From now on I’m going to be the next guy in line thinking life is too short.
I went to a Lions game this past week and stood in a long line in the restroom. A man in line behind me decided he didn’t want to wait and relieved himself in the sink. I just stood there shaking my head with a what an idiot look on my face, when the gentleman behind me started yelling at him. He was shocked that I didn’t join in on his tirade.
The truth was what exactly was I going to say to someone who relieves himself in a sink that was going to alter his behavior? He’s an idiot, I got it. I laughed my way back to my seat.
Funny how much easier life is when you realize that it is much easier to laugh at it rather than tangle with it.
As much as I love to laugh, the past year had its moments of tragedy and loss for me as well. I bid farewell to some that I thought would be here much longer. I know I have blogged before about seizing the day, but like all of us we tend to get caught up in the minutia.
Well, I’m done with minutia. The heck with all of you people and you’re whining and complaining about inconsequential stuff. Tell it to someone who cares, because I really don’t care if you didn’t get extra pickles. Step aside because someone that is important to me is waiting for me.
Life is not about no onions or extra dressing. Life is about sharing your time and energy with the people you treasure most. It’s about making sure they know how you feel. It’s about saying “I love you’ or “I am so proud of you”. It’s about saying to your partner “thank you for sharing your life with me” or to your kids “I’m honored to be your dad”.
I know you have heard it thousands of times before, but life really is to short and you just can’t get back the people or days you lost. I’m going to fill my cup with the things I am committed to saying to the people I love and care about this year.
In the words of actor James Earl Jones “One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter”.
In 2011 my oldest daughter is getting married. I couldn’t be happier. She’s going to begin a new chapter in her life. If she were to ask me I would tell her simply to live each day as if it were her last. No, it’s not my intention to be morbid, but it is my new found commitment for this year.
I got caught a few times last year existing rather than living. It’s kind of funny when you coach others for a living and you trip and fall on the same floor you’re coaching on. The minutia tripped me up and on an occasion or two I lost my passion. I lost track of my priorities and let my emotions drive reaction rather than taking action.
Well, I’m back. For some of you that might be a little scary or frightening, but I’m going to make 2011 one of the best years of my life.
There is a quote which has appeared many times and in many places attributed to numerous authors which simply says “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming…What a ride!”
It is an awesome quote but I will just simplify it with what another renowned comic, Johnny Depp said “I think the thing to do is enjoy the ride while you’re on it”.
A new year is a fresh start. I’m going to laugh a little more, love a little more and live a little more. How about you?
For those of you who have been following my blog, I know that you have come to know that I prefer to write about the simple things in life. Usually I try to find something to make you chuckle or to make you look at life just a little bit differently. Every once in a while something monumental arises that I feel that I really want to address, but for the most part, I believe that life is tough enough and a little slice of humor or lightheartedness is the perfect escape.
On that note, we are now hosting our third foreign exchange student over the last six years. For those of you who have never entertained the thought of doing something such as this, I must tell you that it has been one the most rewarding experiences for not only myself, but my family as well.
Two of the young ladies were from Germany and one from Finland. Their knowledge of the United States and the American people come only from word of mouth from friends or siblings who have traveled here or what they have seen or read in the media or for that matter what they have studied in their schools. In truth, probably not a fair picture of arguably the greatest nation in the world.
Uniformly, the one thing that hits them first is that we are the land of excess. Shopping, restaurants, school of choice, freedom of religion and political views, police and fire protection all being abundant. Specifically they have the freedom of choice, far more options that they have ever known, and the ability to make choices without duress.
I must share with you how incredibly refreshing this is. Yes, “taking things for granted” is overused American slang to depict our laissez-faire attitude. It fits in well with our “sense of entitlement”. However looking at our culture paints a completely different picture when viewed through different eyes.
Spending a day going to Lafayette Coney Island for lunch, taking in a Tiger’s game and then having an awesome piece of pastry from the Astoria Bakery in Greek town takes on a whole new meeting when looked at through the eyes of a sixteen year old exchange student.
The reason I bring this up is that being of the Jewish faith, my family just celebrated the New Year. And yes it is a religion not a cultural background (I have no clue why Jews themselves site their religion when asked rather than their heritage). For those of you who never knew, I have Hungarian, Turkish, Polish and French Canadian ancestry. Yea, I know, that explains a lot.
While let me be clear, this blog is not about religion, it is about the spirit and message of the Jewish holiday. The celebration of the Jewish New Year is unlike many others in that it encompasses atonement and repentance as part of the ritual celebration.
For those of you, who are completely unfamiliar with the Jewish holidays, indulge me and I will take you on a thirty second tour….
Rosh Hashanah is commonly referred to as the “Jewish New Year.” It is observed on the first two days of “Tishrei”, which is the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar (That’s why it never is the same day on the American calendar).
Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the ritual High Holidays or “Asseret Yemei Teshuva” the (Ten Days of Repentance) which are days specifically set aside to focus on repentance and conclude with the holiday of Yom Kippur.
According to Jewish tradition, it is said that God opens the “Book of Life” on Rosh Hashanah and will ultimately inscribe each person’s fate for the coming year on Yom Kippur. During the Ten days of Atonement Jews often try to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings.
Known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is one of the holiest days of the year for Jews. Given that its central themes are atonement and repentance, Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 24-hour period (sundown to sundown) of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue or temple services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days
So, you ask what am I really getting at here.
For me, this is a time of reflection. No it’s not Thanksgiving and I am not going to bore you with all of the things I’m thankful for. It is kind of a reverse Thanksgiving if you will.
I look at my life over the last year and ponder was I good dad, was I the best husband I could have been. Could my friends count on me when needed and could my employer count on my best efforts? Did I make my parents proud and did I add favorable to my legacy.
Was I able to take the time to sit back, like the wonderful exchange students that we have had and realize all of the wonderful opportunities I have been granted. Have I been grateful and appreciative to those who provided me with them, or have I taken them in stride as if I was entitled?
Thank you all so much for following my blog. I hope that it has enlightened some of you, made a few of you chuckle and in some small way enriched you. Thanks for bringing me into your life. To those of you whose path I may have crossed this past year that did not leave you with a favorable memory of me, I certainly take responsibility for that and I hope that you allow me to make in right.
Take a moment in your busy life to stop and think about atonement and repentance. Think about that relationship you ended over something ultimately silly. The argument that resulted in hateful words that you wish you could have back. The really stupid thing you did that you so regret.
There is always time to correct them and make amends. The saddest person is the one who goes to his grave holding on to his anger and animosity.
Enjoy life my friends and all that it has to offer. Make peace and create joy and happiness. For those of you celebrating a very heartfelt “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year).”
I lost a very special cousin a few weeks ago. He was a cousin by marriage, not that it mattered, who took me in as a part of his family with open arms, and despite his tough guy façade allowed me to see a side of him that not many outside his immediate family saw. He was truly a great guy who reached out immediately for those in need, whether that need was driven by personal hardship or just knowing that no matter what, he had your back.
You know the type, hardnosed, hardheaded, and with a heart as big as a mountain. If it is true what they say that “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” shock waves not only went through his family, but also the thousands of mourners who visited him both at the funeral home and his final resting place after he died.
Dean was just a carefree guy. Had a gorgeous wife and three beautiful daughters who he adored every minute of every day. Yes, he worked. Worked hard too, with a perfect safety record of which he was damn proud. The most important thing though was family. Everything was about family. Birthdays, Communions, Bat Mitzvahs, family gatherings, graduation parties, you name it. Any reason to be with family was a great reason.
A close second was his Harleys. The man loved his Harleys and he loved to ride.
Dean didn’t die of Cancer or a brain tumor. He didn’t die of a heart attack or some rare blood disease. He wasn’t murdered by gun shot or knife nor did he die in some natural disaster.
He was killed by someone who didn’t take the time to look. The other guy.
I am not by any means against motorcyclists. I myself rode dirt bikes for years as a kid and loved it. I was terrified about ever riding on main roads and never did get my license to do so. The thing is, I never trusted the other guy. Dean was killed by the other guy.
He rode for over 30 years and was a trusted rider who was careful, proactive and didn’t believe in showboating. He respected the rules of the road and the bigger and larger vehicles around him. He always remained in control; Dean just couldn’t control the other guy.
Now, two families are destroyed.
Here are some statistics that may shock you:
• According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there are 7.1 million motorcycles on the road in the United States, and over one million new motorcycles and dirt bikes are purchased every year.
• In 2008 5,290 people died in motorcycle accidents across the country – the highest number ever recorded. More recent statistics are not yet available.
• The number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities has increased every year for the last decade.
• More and more riders over 40 years of age are being killed in motorcycle crashes – a trend that reflects the aging baby boomers.
• According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you are 37 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a car accident – and nine times more likely to become injured while riding a motorcycle than while driving a car.
• Last year, 14 percent of all traffic accident deaths involved motorcycles.
• There were 114,000 serious motorcycle accidents last year that involved injuries or property damage.
One major study done on this subject in the United States was the Hurt Report, which was published a number of years back. The Hurt Report concluded with a list of 55 findings, as well as several major recommendations for law enforcement and legislation.
Notable findings in the Hurt report included:
• 75% of motorcycle accidents were found to involve both a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle.
• In these accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.
• “The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents…
Careless driving has to stop. Respect for bikers is mandatory. Motorcycles are not going away and as such, your attention to them is not only requested, but demanded. Eliminating texting while driving was a good first step in protecting all vehicle passengers; now for our friends on bikes let’s stop:
• Tailgating riders
• Changing lanes without checking blind spots
• Racing them to intersections or cutting them off
• Disregarding traffic signs because at first glance we don’t see any traffic
The funny thing people, is that it is as simple as what you learned when you got your license, combined with just a little plain common decency and courtesy. Traits I know we all have.
If you think I am passionate about this subject, well I am. My daughter’s future father-in-law was critically injured a few years ago when a woman ran a traffic sign and slammed into him on his bike. After years of healing, and a subsequent stroke from the accident he is now legally blind and was forced to give up a thriving dental practice.
My future son-in law rides as well and on occasion is accompanied by my daughter. I will be honest with you; it scares the very hell out of me. While I know that he is a very responsible rider, I’m worried about the other guy.
Please watch for them on the road, I hold their safety in your hands.
I am a big Robin Williams fan. In fact, I used a quote of his in my book, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” The funny part is there is often much truth to his sense of irreverence. (Yes, a bit of shameless promotion and you can get a copy of “It’s a Great Deal All Three of Me Think So” from me, Amazon or directly from the publisher at: http://www.publishamerica.net/product87431.html
On a recent comedy show Robin made the statement “Why do they call it “Rush Hour” when no one actually moves. Okay, not as much funny as it is inquisitive. The term “Rush Hour” actually has its own Wikipedia definition where it convinces us that the term is a “misnomer” because it is “often more than an hour” and that it refers not to the “pace of traffic but the “rate of flow”. Oh, and it tells us that there are two distinct “Rush Hours”, one in the morning and one in the early evening as people are working their way to or from work.
The site even wants to convince me that there is the possibility of a “Third Rush Hour” to define the period of time that everyone is back in their cars racing around during their lunch hour. Huh?
All of a sudden the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s Feelin’ Groovy just flashed through my head (No, not a flower child here, and by the way the actual song title is 59th St. Bridge Song and it was featured in Spiderman as the bridge that the tram was on).
If you don’t remember, try this on for size:
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
Ba da, da, da, da,…Feelin’ Groovy.
What cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’.
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
I’ve got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.
Okay, now I dare you to get that out of your head for the rest of the day.
Here is the truth my friends. We really have forgotten what is to feel “groovy”. We race to work in the morning and we race home from work at night. We race to take our kids to lessons or a school function. We are either coming or going all the time.
Life has become more complicated than we ever anticipated it might be. Unfortunately most of us have cloaked ourselves completely with obligation and responsibility 24/7 without giving us room to take a breather.
I ask you, when did that become healthy?
Yes, I grant you that they are often the yardstick by how we are measured in society and I won’t disagree with you that as adults we have a sense of responsibility to our daily obligations. Our jobs, our kids, our family, our friends, social obligations, after hour work functions and on and on and on…..
I get it. I also get the fact that we will be judged by how others view how we handled each of these individual circumstances. That it will define us in life.
Well for you, if it does I can accept that. For me it doesn’t work.
I have lots of obligations and responsibilities just like the next guy and its not about who has more, it’s simply about taking time from the fast track and finding time for myself. It’s about doing what I need to do for self preservation and an ability to clear my head and complete my thoughts.
I tell my youngest daughter often that I view every day as awesome and that the only thing that can take away from that is what I personally allow to detract from it. I can only be upset or angered if I agree to take those feelings on.
No, I’m not saying that it is easy, because of course it is not. It is however the choice I chose to make.
I also choose to set aside a portion of each day for me. It does not matter whether it is for reflection, clearing, or simply alone time to regenerate. I need to mentally and physically be in a place where I can meet my responsibilities and obligations head on and with the correct attitude, because I recognize how important it really is.
I love life. I love being happy, smiling, telling a good joke (even a few bad ones) and laughing out loud.
Now follow along with me…Ba da, da, da, da, …Feelin’ Groovy.
Those of you who know me well, know that I am a man who is never at a loss for words. Instead of talking so much and yes I still do that, this forum has allowed me to put some of those words to paper. I must say that I was totally shocked by the impact that my last blog posting had on so many people. Yea, some have accused me of being a little over dramatic at times so I was not really sure if or how many of you would respond.
The relationship between a dad and a daughter is certainly a wonderful thing. It is something that only a dad and a daughter can truly understand. It was never my intention to bring people to tears, only remind them that life is fleeting and to enjoy every moment of the quality opportunities that we are granted. My two daughters allow me to be a part of many of their life’s experiences along with them and for that I am very blessed.
You see, life is really a funny thing. Not necessarily in a Ha Ha… way, but more specifically in an ironic way. True, sometimes it can be humorous. Sometimes it can be carefree and sometimes problematic. Sometimes it can be adventurous and daring and other times full of trepidation and anxiety. However, the one thing that life is not is fair.
As young kids, we often told our parents that certain things just weren’t fair. “How come she can do it and I can’t, that’s not fair”. Why did they pick him and not me, that’s just not fair”.
If you are so inclined to do so, look at the MSN online Encarta dictionary and you will find that there are thirteen different adjective definitions, three adverb, and two verb definitions. That would make eighteen different definitions for one word.
However, when you review each one you will find that life is not any of them. It is nor reasonable or unbiased, it’s not done according to the rules. It’s not acceptable or slightly better than acceptable.
When did this perception that life was fair start? Who ever said that things need to be fair?
In the last couple of months I have seen three friends lose their young sons due to varying circumstances, and a groomsman from my wedding who was followed shortly thereafter by his heartbroken father.
If the years you have experienced haven’t spoken to you yet, let me remind you. Life is not fair. It wasn’t meant to be, it never intended to be and it never will be. Life is not a destination that we arrive at like a train station or an airport terminal. Life is not arriving at grandma’s house safe and sound. Life is an adventure more comparable to a roller coaster with its ups and downs and unpredictability.
We all react differently and we all see the experience differently. Some will see it as an awesome ride and others will see it as a few minutes of sheer panic. The truth is that the experience creates your perception.
Watching my oldest daughter drive off to Florida to begin the rest of her life was heartbreaking to me. Watching a parent lose a child is nothing short of gut wrenching. My heart aches for their families and I can find no spoken or unspoken words to say other than that I am truly sorry and that I will always be there should they need me for support.
Yes, I know and understand that some of you may feel that it is part of the plan of a higher being, or that they are in a better place now. I grieved when I lost my father a few years back and I grew to respect and understand the words that others said to me. I knew that their intentions were well meaning, but for me, at that time, it just wasn’t fair that he was taken at such a young age and there was no rationalization that I could grasp.
Some will say that I have no business writing a blog about a topic I have no personal experience with, and thank God I don’t. I do have experience being a parent to children I love and adore. There is nothing fair about a parent having to bury a child. It’s not fair.
I am heartbroken for these families and I hope that they can find the necessary comfort to move on at some point with the rest of their lives. I understand that it will never be the same for them again. I will however be there as a friend with open arms and a listening ear when they need someone they can count on.
I am sure that right now they can not find any peace or any semblance of understanding for what has happened. To my friends, you are right, it is not fair. Each of your children was incredibly special and touched every life that they came upon. In their own way they enriched the lives of others and made an impact on this world.
Know that the last message they left the rest of us was that life is not fair and that we as parents should be more focused and driven to find a few more minutes in our busy lives to pick up our own kids and hug them or stop and call them to tell them how much we love them and how proud we are of them.
I love you girls and I am damn proud of you.
To my Daughter,
Yesterday, I held your tiny little body in my hands. So fragile and frail. I watched your eyes open for the very first time as you tried to focus on something familiar. I watched intently as you gazed upon a new and unfamiliar world. I choked back tears as my emotions overcame me as I admired how beautiful you were. I was so excited that I was going to be a new dad and you were going to be my first born daughter. My little girl.
When I think back over the last twenty three and a half years, I think how truly amazing it is what I recall. I can be accused of not remembering what I had for lunch, but memories of you, I will never forget. I remember bringing you home from the hospital for the very first time; painting Sesame Street characters on your bedroom wall and that wooden rocking chair where we first bonded.
I remember the special relationship you and our dog Camelot had. How inseparable the two of you were; funny Halloween costumes and family vacations to Disneyworld; daddy daughter dances. I remember sprees and carnivals and just being silly, for silly sake, yet how responsible you were when we bought your first car.
I remember the wonderful relationship you had with your grandfathers. They were both blessed to call you their very first as well. I will never forget how you could make them smile like nothing else in life. How you made them glow and how their eyes lit up with a twinkle whenever they spent quality time with you; how you showed them such a special kind of reciprocal love.
I remember your love of dance. I recall everything from practice and lessons to costumes and rhinestones; from falling asleep in the lobby waiting through late night classes and then driving home to traveling the globe for competitions; all of the competitions to our trip to Los Angeles. More than anything I recall all of the special conversations we had about life that we shared together during those times.
I remember how beautiful you looked and how incredibly proud I was of you on the monumental occasions that you have experienced so far in your young life. I recall how confident and self assured you were at your Bat Mitzvah, to what an elegant and classy young lady you were for each and every homecoming and prom.
I remember college days and all of our wonderful chats as you faced becoming an independent, grown-up young adult. I remember visiting you at college and picking up a rock from the parking lot and giving it to you as a special remembrance of our special time together. I’ll never forget the tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched you walk across the stage to receive your college diploma.
In case you ever wondered, my love for you was never just because it is a dad’s responsibility to do so, but more because of who you were becoming, who you are today, and what I know you are destined to be. While it would be easy for any dad to recite all the reasons he loves his daughter, I love you most for your sense of empathy.
I love how passionate and understanding you are, and how cognizant you are of others feelings. You are tolerant and patient and dedicated to what is true and right. Traits that are rare today yet will drive you to excel in whatever paths you choose to navigate.
I hope I have done a good job of raising you. I hope I was a great dad when you needed me to be one. I hope you understood when I scolded you, and I hope I made you smile enough to laugh at life. I hope I was a good friend when you needed me to be. I hope I listened when you needed an ear and I hope that I was a voice of reason when you needed a shoulder.
I hope more than anything, I taught you to dream. And when you dream, I hope that you always dream big. I hope that I taught you to always believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. Never ever forget that you can accomplish anything your heart desires. Always reach for the highest of stars and aspire to do or be the unimaginable.
This week I will watch as you drive away to begin the next chapter in your life in another state far from my protecting arms.
Oh, I really do understand. I really do. You have become a grown up woman, passionate and independent, and you need to go where you can build a future for yourself. I get it. Graduate school, a career, and a fiancée await you, and I couldn’t be prouder. Proud of what you have accomplished, and proud of what I know you will become. I know your impact on this world will be immeasurable.
The most difficult challenge for any dad is the thought that he has to be his daughter’s protector. He needs to shield her from any harm. He needs to make any pain go away and needs to look over her shoulder to make sure she always makes the correct decision.
You have made raising you my greatest joy. I am so thrilled to be your dad and know you have made an excellent choice in selecting the man that you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.
Just remember not to forget me, as you will always be near and dear to my heart and never out of my thoughts. Just don’t fault me if those tears start streaming again as I watch my little girl drive off as a confident and mature woman.
As much as I hate to admit it, while the weather was mostly pleasant this past weekend, the mornings and evenings were filled with crisp air and a reminder that fall is on the way. Along with fall comes the start of many holidays celebrated throughout the world. Many festive traditions are celebrated uniformly in all countries, while others may be unique to a specific culture or country. Family time, an opportunity to take a few days off from work, no school for the kids…all things most of us look forward to all year long.
This past Friday night had special significance to me, my family and many of my friends. It is arguably for us one of the most important and significant times of the year for families who follow the laws and traditions of the Jewish people.
Let me preface that this is not a blog about Judaism as much as it is about all of our individual sense of responsibility, priorities, and desire to make us better children, spouse, siblings, parents and friends. Whatever you’re personal belief and I respect ones right to believe, I hope you keep reading to understand my message
Having been born a Jewish American, I am often asked about this time of year. Quite a few of my very close friends are not Jewish and don’t really understand what either Rosh Hashanah (commonly referred to as the Jewish New Year) or Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) stand for or why they are such important dates to Jews across the world.
Let me say to those who do understand their significance, the traditional Hebrew greetings of Shana Tova (a good year) or Shana Tova Ummetukah (a good and sweet year). You see, unlike the American calendar, the Jewish New Year falls on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, as noted in the Torah. This usually occurs sometime in the fall between early September and October on the American calendar.
Rosh Hashanah is followed by Asseret Yemei Teshuva or the (Ten Days of Repentance) which are days specifically set aside to focus on repentance that conclude with the holiday of Yom Kippur. It is believed by Jews that they are being judged by God for the coming year, hence some may say “may you be written and sealed for a good year” (ketiva ve-chatima tovah).
Yes, Jews believe that each person’s fate is determined for the coming year. On Rosh Hashanah the “book” of one’s life is opened and subsequently on Yom Kippur it is closed to “seal” the verdict. During the Ten days of Repentance, a Jew tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening prior and day of Yom Kippur are usually set aside for public and private petitions and confessions. At the end of Yom Kippur, one hopes that one’s self is absolved by God.
Yom Kippur is recognized as the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Since it revolves around the ideals of atonement and repentance, Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in temple or synagogue services.
I bring this up now, not just because of those who were seeking knowledge from me about Judaism, but also to acknowledge that now is a wonderful time for reflection, no matter what your beliefs may be. If I asked you to be honest with yourself for a moment, when was the last time you actually sat back and reflected over some period of your life?
It doesn’t have to be over a lifetime or even a yearly analysis. It doesn’t have to be over any specific time frame if you chose not for it not to be. It should, however offer you enough insight into doing just a little self analysis to help you determine if you are in deed the person you wanted to be. There are so many things that you can ask yourself. Certainly way too many for me to mention here, but lets try just a few.
Have you become the one who is respected and admired to a level that you had hoped to attain? Do the people in your life such as your family, friends, and fellow employees speak well of you? Have you earned the admiration of your children? Have you been a positive and involved parent setting for them a future guided by an excellent role model?
Have you been a loyal and supporting spouse enriching their lives and helping to make them a better person? Do they stand taller because of you?
The single best part about reflection is that it allows you the opportunity to adjust, alter, or apologize if necessary. The greatest element in life is that we live today and not yesterday. We live in the moment.
Any malice or ill will, whether intended or not, can always be rectified. Words and actions are exactly that, words and actions. Missed opportunities, or poor decisions are just that as well. They may be something that we have done and regret, but they do not define who we are.
Take some time in the very near future to be just a little reflective and seek out the opportunities that you would like to apologize or improve on. It’s guaranteed to make at least two people smile.