Blog Post # 369 – More Structure, Not Less

Structure.

There is something within me that mildly rebels against structure.

Too many rules.

Too much scheduling.

Too many hoops.

I can participate in these time constructs.

But only up to a point.

When I get overwhelmed with too many appointments or “have to’s” or “should do’s,” I look for an out.

This past week, the boys and I went on a spring training road trip while Amany and my daughter went to San Diego to take in the sights and visit with her brother.

I had many motivations in taking the boys.

1. Baseball
2. Quality time with the boys
3. The boys had never really been on a road trip
4. A week without a lot of rules
5. Baseball

As for the week without rules, let me just say that I learned to see the value of rules and of planning ahead.

I let the boys pack themselves. One boy forgot his toothbrush and his tennis shoes.

I let the boys play a lot of electronics in the car. They got bored with that eventually.

I did not check the weather forecast before we left. So I ended up having to buy a cheesy Clearwater FL sweatshirt at Walgreens.

A little more structure and a little more planning would have helped.

We enjoyed our free time. Enjoyed it a lot.

But there is certainly something to be said for more structure, not less. More oversight, not less. More planning, not less.

Makes us appreciate what we have right here in old St. Louis.

Blog Post # 368 – Missing You

As a parent, sometimes your kids drive you crazy.

You long for some quiet time.

But then as soon as you get that quiet time, you find yourself missing your children tremendously.

It took Amany a long, long time to agree to go out on a date after Ismail was born.

We finally went out and saw a Spider Man movie.

Amany kept saying how much Tobey McGuire looked like our 6 week old son.

Our son still looked like a half human, half lizard.

And not like Tobey McGuire.

This past week, I have been with the boys 24-7.

But Noor and Amany were on the other side of the country.

I missed both of them a lot.

Yesterday, when the boys and I were playing in the hotel pool, the boys were very loud.

As usual.

We were throwing the football around and I noticed a lady who was a little older than me watching the boys.

I thought we were bugging her.

A little while later, Ibrahim threw the ball over everyone’s head and the lady glided over to get it.

She threw it back to the boys like a boss.

I apologized. But she said, “what do you mean – this is my life? I have two just like them at home and I miss them.”

The funny irony. They drive you crazy, but then you miss them.

And, of course, soon enough, they will be out in the world living their own lives.

We will really be missing them then.

Blog Post # 367 – Expectations and Perspective

The boys and I recently drove 1,000 miles plus to Florida.

Two days later, we made an hour drive to Sarasota to see a spring training baseball game.

The hour drive seemed like a breeze.

Even Yusuf commented, “after driving all that way to get here, the drive to the game seemed easy.”

Sort of funny.

When I know I have to drive to Columbia or Jefferson City, which are about 100 miles away, the drive seems very far.

But Yusuf’s right – in comparison, it is nothing at all.

Expectations and perspective.

That’s what it’s all about.

Having low expectations helps the day and our toils seem easier.

Perspective goes a long way.

We experienced this in another way on this little spring break trip of ours.

I waited until the last minute to buy our tickets to the Cardinals’ spring training game yesterday.

Checked StubHub throughout the trip down here, but I figured that something might open up.

The plan worked this time.

Two days before the game, I found 4 tickets in Row 1, i.e., the front row. The ticket listing even said, “these seats are in the actual front row.”

I snapped them up for a relatively low price.

When we got to the stadium, we headed straight to the front row, right behind home plate.

All was well until the game was about to start.

Some old-timer in a Mark McGwire jersey arrived to tell me that we were sitting in Row A.

That the first two rows were rows A and B.

Row 1 was behind Row B.

Can you believe it?

At first, we were a bit discombobulated and sad about losing the VERY front row seats.

Had we gone straight to our assigned seats, we never would have known what it felt like to sit in the very front row.

It is a silly thing really but once we moved back two rows, we felt a bit slighted.

Turns out we liked our seats better in the long run because they were just a tad bit higher, making it easier to see the entire field.

But our expectations had to shift.

To change our perspective.

It all worked out in the end, but both of the examples today highlight how important our expectations are.

And how important it is to just go with the flow.

Easy to get caught up in how hard things are or how “unfair” the world is (first world problems both here), but perspective is important.

For today, let us keep our expectations low.

And to be grateful for everything that we have.

Blog Post # 366 – I Can Fly

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It was cold and extremely windy down here in Clearwater, Florida yesterday.

Yusuf and Ibrahim gave a big “heck no” to heading down to the beach.

They preferred to play with their phones in the hotel room.

Our intrepid eldest son, Ismail, was not to be deterred by a little wind.

I headed out with him to the breezy Gulf of Mexico.

Being at the beach with Ismail always makes me feel old.

I remember when it was just Ismail, Amany and I at the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico when he was a year old.

His mother went parasailing on that trip, high in the air, while we waited on the beach for her to come down.

When we got out to the beach, nobody was in the water. Nobody.

As we headed to the water, the wind blasted us in the face.

Game time temperature: 64 degrees.

The wind caused our towels to billow in our face and we almost lost them a few times.

Ismail turned this into a game.

He said, “look, Dad, I can fly.”

He ran into the wind, dragging his towel behind him like a glider.

As the wind pounded us, he jumped in the air and said, “Dad, I’m flying. I’m flying.”

The problem with his approach was that he was facing the wrong way.

The towel kept blowing in his face because we were headed into the wind.

His brothers would never have engaged in such frivolity.

He’s a special boy.

Ismail can drive you crazy, but he can also find the fun wherever he is.

Like his mother, he has the amazing ability to be present and happy in the moment.

Always up for a new adventure.

When we got to the water, he jumped right in.

The waves crashed around him, but he claimed the water was warm.

He had so much fun, I thought about joining him.

Ismail lasted about 20 minutes in the water.

He stood up to the waves, jumped over the waves and glided on top of the waves.

On our way back to the hotel, he tried flying with his towel again.

He dragged the towel behind him like a cape, ran and jumped into the air.

Once, I believe I saw him take flight for the tiniest of seconds.

Our little own Superman, son of Jor-El.

Keep flying, kid.

Don’t ever let the world tell you that your flight is impossible.

I can’t wait to watch you soar, young man.

Blog Post # 365 – The Last Post

This time last year, uncle Seth – Godin, that is – challenged us to blog.

Everyday.

Seth said it would put us on the record.

Force us to take a position each day; one that would last for all of eternity.

To tell our story.

In a consistent and durable way.

On a lark, I took up the challenge.

And now, 365 days later, here we are.

This little exercise has taught me a few things.

Good Enough

Blogging has forced me to abandon the elusive myth of perfection.

There will never be a perfect time.

The stars don’t ever align perfectly.

Sometimes, you simply have to ship.

Hit the “publish” button and see what happens.

The Streak

On February 10, 2017, I forgot to publish a post.

Amany’s birthday.

I postponed writing the blog post that morning, thinking that I would get to it in the afternoon.

But work got hectic and I flat out forgot.

The next morning, I thought about fudging things.

Instead, I owned it and moved on.

Taught me that the streak isn’t what is important.

Rather, it was sharing a daily thought with my friends.

That’s what this blog was.

Me sharing how I view the world.

And seeing what happened.

I am glad that I forgot that day.

I could have quit, but i chose to keep going.

And that’s important.

You Never Know

Sometimes, I finished a piece and I thought that people would really like it.

Crickets.

Nada.

Nothing.

It seems that the most popular pieces were rants about Trump and his hateful campaign and presidency.

The posts that received the most comments usually focused on death and the change that comes along with it.

Living in the Moment

When I was 11, my dad had a massive heart attack and a quintuple bypass.

That’s five.

The strongest man that I ever knew lying in bed, covered in tubes.

He survived, but that brush with death had a significant impact on me.

Life and death was a theme that I returned to again and again over the past year.

Pushed me to live in the moment as much as possible and to try and be fully present wherever I happened to be.

Made me very appreciative.

Perseverance

Fact is, you don’t reach 365 blog posts overnight.

No quick fix.

I’m a plodder.

No doubt about it.

Like my dad, I can put my head down and get things done.

Little by little.

Breaking things down to small, achievable goals is a strong suit for me.

Gratitude

The blog has made me appreciate each and every one of you.

Those that read.

Those that commented.

Those that shared.

Those that emailed or messaged me.

Your participation in this little journey kept me going.

Got me up each morning, ready to try and make sense of things.

What’s Next

Part of me says give it up.

The year is over.

But I think I might keep going.

We will know for sure tomorrow.

Until then, peace to you.

Blog Post # 364 – AMIL8?

Last week, a client showed up ten minutes late for his appointment.

He also talked a lot.

Which caused our appointment to go over its allotted time.

Which made me 10 minutes late for lunch.

Which made me late for my 1 pm appointment.

And on and on.

I spent the whole day running late.

Hated it.

Stressed me out the entire afternoon.

Gave me a big headache.

Showing up on time is a form of respect.

Punctuality should be taken very seriously.

When we don’t show up on time, we are telling the other person that their time doesn’t matter.

That we are more important than they are.

When I was in high school, the mother of one of my friends had a license plate which read:

AMIL8?

I thought it was funny then. Now, not so much.

Some days, I have appointments stacked – four in the morning and four or five in the afternoon.

I do my absolute best to make sure that nobody waits more than 5 minutes past the scheduled start time for our meeting.

Expect the same from others.

Tonight’s blog post is going out late.

But I am on vacation and I’m still getting it in on time.

Have a great night!

Blog Post # 363 – The Time for Talking’s Over Now

People say talk is cheap.

They are right.

How many promises to ourselves do we break?

How many mission statements sit in a drawer, never acted upon?

How many times before we act?

Action is what we are after.

Implementation.

Maybe small, measured steps. But steps towards something.

We may be the world’s biggest dreamer.

But dreams (like faith) without works are dead.

Let us hail the implementers.

The closers.

Those who get shit done.

Amany is like that.

My buddy Brent too.

They cannot rest until the task is completed.

I could learn a thing or two from their approach.

We all could.

It’s fine to compile to do lists and to construct big, visionary long range plans.

But if we keep doing the same things over and over ….

we get nowhere.

Blog Post # 362 – Little Things

Often, we look for the quick fix.

The monumental shift.

The Hail Mary.

We want a big party.

A big splash.

What if we went small?

The daily, minor victories.

The small wins.

Where would we end up?

I predict that we would be much further ahead than if we shoot for the stars and miss.

We can take great satisfaction in the little things in life.

A loved one’s smile.

A moment’s respite.

The cool breeze.

For today, let us forego the allure of false big changes.

And instead focus on making small incremental improvements.

Noticing the small things.

Taking joy in the details.

Be free.

Blog Post # 361 – Getting Dead

Started reading Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run.

Listening to it on audio, actually.

Like me, Springsteen was raised Catholic.

He lived across the street from the church, St. Rose of Lima.

In the book, he talked about everything that went on at the church.

Babies getting baptized.

Couples getting married.

People getting dead.

Getting dead.

As if it takes action and effort to “get” dead.

An interesting turn of phrase.

Are we “getting dead”?

What is the opposite of getting dead?

Simply living would not be enough.

Getting alive.

That’s what we need – to get alive.

Being engaged in this earth takes effort.

Action.

Moving towards something.

In the end, we are all getting dead.

Some of us are just doing it a lot faster than others.

For today, let’s do what we can to get living.

Plenty of time for dead later.

Let us be fully invested in this day.

March 10, 2017.

Let’s roll.

Blog Post # 360 – Rules Don’t Apply to Me

That rule shouldn’t apply to me.

I’m special, different and interesting.

So I get to do what I want.

Sound familiar?

I used to think that my body was different.

That I could eat whatever I wanted.

Exercise if/when I felt like it.

(Which was not the case very often).

Save money?

Who me?

This internal conflict between doing the things that would help me improve my body, my life, my situation versus unrestrained doing what I felt like doing.

The difference between being an adult or a child.

It is one thing to be intellectually aware of the way that I was behaving.

An entirely different thing to make the harder choice.

The tougher decision.

Especially if that little voice inside my head kept saying “oh you don’t have to do that. You are different/better/smarter than everybody else.”

Well, screw that.

For today, let us see the opportunities for important change.

Just be aware of them.

And, if we feel like trying something different, tell ourselves that the rules of life apply to us as well.

Then take a chance and see what happens.