Day of Dad.

Today is Father’s Day, and it is also posted 194 of 2021. By now, my Father passed away when I was 17, and I have been a Father for 12 years.

It feels odd. I am thankful to celebrate a day, and my wife and son, make it special for me. I am thankful and have been blessed to have wonderful people in my life. My wife, my son, and a community of fellow Fathers.

I also know that today is challenging for some. People who have lost their Father this year, people who have difficult relationships with a Father.

When one group is celebrating, another is mourning. That is the way it goes.
I have memories of my dad and the present moment with my son. I wish I had more time with my own dad; even though I don’t, I still carry the lessons he taught me. This I am thankful for.

Iced Coffee and Gentrification

There used to be a coffee shop that I enjoyed on the street in Los Angeles. It had a funky vibe to it. It was older, the coffee was inexpensive, the food was decent and mismatched furniture. At times the unhoused would mill about. The place also had a lot of artists hanging about and flyers on the bulletin board.

A few years ago, the place closed. Today for the first time in a year, I walked down the street and saw a new coffee place had taken up residence. The interior was pink, the drinks were all eight dollars, the unhoused wasn’t around, and everything matched.
I couldn’t do it. I walked right past it. If I went in and purchased coffee from this new place, it would be s betrayal of the old place that used to be there.

I am a bit odd like that. I ended up going down and paying 5.00 for an iced coffee at an upscale coffee place. The difference in my mind is that the high-end place I am now was in existence when the old funky shop was open, I enjoy going to coffee shops, and there are several on this street.

What was said is that before I went to the coffee shop, I decided to go to a green tea place that has a nice backyard patio with a fountain; when I arrived, I was greeted with a closed shop. The green tea establishment was a casualty of the pandemic.

So here I am drinking a very good iced coffee in a high-end coffee place. At the same time missing the old funky place and am upset at the high-end place that replaced the neat funky place.

Aren’t we all contradictions and hypocrites at some level?
We strive for consistency and fall short of it just as consistently.

This is what makes us human and gives us the capacity to live out our days, making room to enjoy them, and at the same time, leaving room open to serve.
Also, this is some really good Iced Coffee.

Normally Iced Coffee is too strong and too bitter, or on the flip side, too sweet. This is just right. Not too strong and not too bitter.

Point of View

What is a point of view? Is it the way you think about a particular topic? Do you express your point of view to others? Do you keep your point of view to yourself?
Is it valuable to have a point of view?

Think about it for a second. If you are in a room full of strangers who aren’t saying a word, someone expressing their perspective can make it easier for other people to express their point of view.

That is the way that conversations begin, and perhaps even progress towards a common goal occurs.

Or the flip side, you can have someone introduce a point of view that is polarizing. Once it is said, the room is split up and divided.

Now we have come to a fork in the road. The point of view that is a divider splits people into teams, and people stay on them long after the meeting is over.
What is a point of view was more like an elementary school gym class game?

Even that statement may be triggering for those of you who hated elementary school gym class games. If elementary school gym class was hard for you, I am sorry. I hated climbing the rope. I could never climb the rope. In fact, as an educational leader, schools don’t have rope climbing anymore.

So I get it. I hated climbing the rope because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make it to the top. I had a friend who made it to the top, and then he would hang from the rafters, then go back to the rope.

I was not too fond of it because I couldn’t do it. I loved kickball. Kickball, to me, was fun.

So rope climbing, kickball. Things we enjoy, things we hate.

When gym class was over, I left and went back to class, back to reading, writing, and socializing. The rope and kickball games were left in the gym.

Perhaps with polarizing points of view, we can attempt to leave them where they belong out of our heads and out of our daily experiences.

Consider your point of view. Express it. Listen to the point of view of others. Work towards a common goal.

On quitting.

Today I read several articles about employees quitting their jobs and re-evaluate life choices.
In some of these articles, I have seen the resentment of employers coming through. I can understand why business owners would be upset if they can’t find workers. But, in some cases, the finger is pointed at the government.

Why is it the government’s fault if people decide to quit their jobs? People in the United States point to unemployment benefits as a reason people are quitting. No, that is not true. If people enjoyed the work they do and are respected in the workplace, they don’t quit.

Blaming generous unemployment benefits is a straw man argument and a false equivalency.

If I were to quit my job right now, the unemployment benefits would not come close to replacing my current income. So I would have to reduce my expenses; they would run out in six months, so I would need to find another job. This is the purpose of unemployment benefits, a bridge to another job.

People are evaluating their lives and their choices regarding their employment decisions, and employers need to ask themselves this question- Why are you entitled to workers? Why is it a given that highly skilled people choose you to work for in a competitive marketplace?

If an employee can’t share in the vision, goals, and aspirations of a company, you signal that they are nothing more than a cog in a wheel. So why would a highly skilled and highly talented person sign up to be a cog in a wheel? Consider that for a moment, then move forward from that point.

Cancel

I just finished reading an article about why the show Fear Factor was canceled. They filmed an episode that involved people drinking Donkey Semen.
My first thought was, why in the world would anyone ever want to drink Donkey Semen?

The answer, of course, is for money and the audience. The individuals on the show would be compensated for participating in this stunt. The show would get more viewers because people enjoy being shocked.

The show ended up getting canceled because the network refused to air the show and later decided that they were done with the show. The show was canceled.

You can go from the top to the bottom very quickly.

The funny thing about this entry is that I started writing it and said to myself, “ You have gone too far” You will get in trouble if people read this. I erased it and started writing something else.

But guess what I did? I hit the undo button several times and brought the article back.

I am afraid that I will get in trouble for references to an article about the show Fear Factor.

So I decided to erase my work. Then I told myself this simple statement. First, no one is going to read it. Second I am not advocating this type of behavior, and Third, I am trying to make a point. I am also trying to hit my goal of writing every day for a year.

So I have many things going on at this moment.
Which we all do. Why do we all have so many things going on?
We work jobs, we pursue projects, trips, we go places.
All of these things that we do need to be funded. To fund our projects, we take risks; we have been told by people that we can make it to the top if we are risk-takers.
A myth. If there is a top, then someone is attempting to knock you off of it as soon as you arrive.
Although even if you screw up and get canceled. You still have your talents, and gifts, and abilities. Fear Factor was canceled because of a stunt involving drinking Donkey Semen, which offended people. Still, it didn’t stop the host Joe Rogan. He still hosts UFC fights, and he has a huge podcast following. So even after setbacks, you always have a way forward.
Keep moving in the direction you want to go in each day.

32 years

I am listening to a song that is 32 years old. The song doesn’t seem 32 years old, to my ears and minds it has the same energy that it had when I heard it 32 years ago. I was 17, 32 years ago.

Music doesn’t age. Not like a human. The music stays the same. The key signature is the same. The beats per minute, The lyrics, the chorus, the key change. 

The drum fills are all the same as they were 32 years ago and they will be the same 32 years from now.

I am a different person than I was 32 years ago. 32 years of experience, old friends leave, new friends, enter. The music stays the same.

Hmmm. Aging doesn’t mean that I need to lose energy or become less committed to learning.

As I age I hear more and more about planning for retirement. I am not a person who is looking forward to living in a condo and playing golf all day or swimming. I am a person who feels wired for contribution.

32 years from now I will be 81. I hope to be alive and 81 at least. I do realize that I need to be intentional with my health and how I treat my body because my body does age. My body does change.

Where do you want to be in 32 years? Who do you want to be in 32 years? 

Let it Go but Let it Heal.

Let it go, was a very popular song from the movie Frozen. I recall the year the movie came out, my son was in pre-school, and at most events, you could spot some children singing Let it Go.

Let it Go is also popular advice given out to people who have been hurt or have been facing adversity. I have found myself letting things go in my life.

For example, anger and hurt over mistreatment from employers, unfair life circumstances, setbacks, I have told myself to let it go.

The problem with letting it go is that it comes back. Now what? I thought I let it go?

Why am I upset about the job situation from ten years ago? The relationship from twenty years ago? The school event from thirty?
I let all of them go?

I concluded that letting it go is helpful, but what I really needed to do was to Let it Heal.

The events that I let go, those events had hurt me and left me in emotional pain. Anger and Sadness swirled around inside of me. My method of dealing with the anger and sadness was to let it go.

Now I understand that I needed to let it heal.

You see this with professional athletes. I can recall countless performances by athletes who were hurt at the moment and went on to do remarkable feats all while facing pain. This was awesome, but it wasn’t sustainable.

I recall watching an NBA Finals game 30 years ago; a hall of fame player twisted his ankle in game six. He went on to lead his team to a comeback win. The next night in game seven, he wasn’t able to contribute, and the team lost the finals.

Playing injured or not playing injured isn’t the point I want to emphasize; the point is that we need healing time. If we don’t make time for healing, we suffer the consequences of our unresolved hurts.

Dealing with unresolved hurts can involve a spiritual community, counseling, friends, family, whoever you trust to take care of your hurt, and who is competent.

I am not a professional counselor, but I believe that if you have hurts, you should pursue one.

I also think that we can daily mental wellness activities that can benefit us and move us closer to healing. For me, I use spiritual wisdom from the Bible and belong to a supportive faith community. Daily spiritual activity helps me to move from letting it go to let it heal.

Movement

Beating yourself up isn’t noble or beneficial. It is a form of bullying. So stop it.

This morning I found myself staring at the blinking cursor. I didn’t know what to write. My mind, for a brief moment, felt empty. So I stared at the screen.

Then I began to write, from the back row of my mind, a voice began to speak. “Stop”! “This isn’t good enough! You are breaking the rules!
I ignored the voice and typed anyway. I have a goal of posting to my blog every day in 2021, and if I am going to post to my blog every day in 2021, then I will have to type anyway.

Keep going anyway. This is the theme of my work. My artistic journey.
My words of advice. Keep going. You can only arrive if you are moving.
Writing and posting each day is only accomplished when I am moving and moving along each day.

Keep moving anyway.
When you are sad, move towards kindness and comfort, and community.
When you are angry, move towards healing.
When you are happy, move towards sharing.
Movement.

Towards service.
Towards helping .
Towards rest.

Movement fills the page. Movement heals the pain. Movement serves others. Movement resolves the conflict.
Movement opens new doors and closes old ones.
Where do you need to move?

Process and Outcomes

When you get a chance to do what you enjoy, you should take it. I do think that we get more chances to do what we enjoy than we realize.

For example, I enjoy writing, playing music, podcasting, reading, watching sports, and spending time with friends and family.

When I find myself not enjoying writing, playing music, or podcasting, it is because I am focusing on not generating the outcomes that I desire. For example, a larger audience for my show, more people who purchase my books.

The truth is that an audience is an outcome. The presence of an audience or the generation of money from the things I enjoy is different. The battle is strong within me that counters this. My own inner voice will inform me that I am not really doing it until I make money and generate huge downloads.

What I just said is an irrational statement. Yes, indeed, I don’t have a large number of book sales, podcast listeners, blog readers, or newsletter subscribers. This is a fact. The truth is this. It doesn’t have anything to do with my creative experience. My creative experience exists in a different space.

When I am writing, I have the chance to settle into the writing and enjoy the sound of the keys tapping the keyboard, and the joy of hitting publish, the sense of accomplishment when I share my work with others.

This is the creative process. Outcomes are not a part of the creative process. Outcomes are outcomes. Outcomes involve other people deciding to come along with you. If people aren’t coming along with you, make adjustments, and keep showing up.

If you are a creative person, continue to create. The decision to continue to create or not create should not be dictated by the size of your audience or your downloads.

Simple

Saturday morning.

A blended latte with almond milk. Sitting outside in the sunshine at a table underneath an umbrella.

My notebook and a purple pen.

When I open up the journal and begin to write, I reflect on all the choices that I have, that we all have. Choices of what to eat, what to watch, what to read, and what to listen to.

Unlimited options, more choices than we can see in a lifetime. The television has endless movies to consume; we have countless amounts of books to read, a never-ending stream of news, and music to listen to.

How do we choose?

There are so many things to consume, but there are also so many things to create. There are obligations to meet. Bills to pay, deadlines to meet, people to spend time with.

Events to plan. Places to go, people to see. Rinse, Repeat, Do it again each day. I believe it is important to reflect and be thankful that we can create and consume.
We are tired from all the work we do, and if we consume too much, we can grow tired and discouraged due to the content we watch. It is easy to look at the lives of individuals on the small screen and begin to think that there is something wrong with us.

This isn’t true. The work we do each day is needed. The people we spend time with need us, and we need them. We can’t be everywhere with everyone, but we can take some time to appreciate the difference we can make in the places that we occupy.

Even if it is just drinking a blended latte underneath an umbrella on a Saturday morning.