For pressing pause sometime this year. Top twenty countries in views.
For pressing pause sometime this year. Top twenty countries in views.
Even better than your fave romantic comedy.
The coolest things about being a famous blogger are annoying your friends with tongue-in-check hyperbole, having readers from lots of other countries, and having people tell you they enjoyed a particular post.
But the coolest may be what happened after I posted “Looking for Love—Introducing The Romantic Love Score” four years ago.
I ended that post this way.
“My friend’s RL score? Currently hovering in the high teens, but she’s committed to changing that. Hope I get invited to the wedding.”
The friend, actually a former student, the one who inspired the post, really took it to heart.* She made lots of changes to her life, some I assisted her with, like what used car to buy, and she committed to updating me on the results every six months. I awaited each update with great anticipation.
Then she went silent. For a year. Last I had heard she was dating someone she liked a lot, but I did not know what to make of the delay. Turns out, she was busy falling deeply in love. And planning her wedding.
Here’s part of what she just wrote:
“The wedding was held in my hometown Lutheran church. We kept the wedding invite list very short. To be honest, we felt uncomfortable asking people to travel to PA knowing that it was a significant cost (in more ways than one) with limited time with the person(s) you are celebrating. We had about 50 people in attendance and it was perfect for us.”
Typically considerate of her, but I sure would’ve loved being there, but maybe it was best I wasn’t since the two pics she included in her recent message nearly brought me to tears.
Her crediting my post and subsequent encouragement with helping her make more friends and meeting her husband moved me.
If you know someone like my friend pictured below, full of life, but wanting to share it with someone special, consider forwarding the aforementioned link to them. The more weddings, the better my daughter’s photog business.
*Ironically, I never had my “former student” in a single class. We met while making S’mores one night at a First Year student retreat. We hit it off and she ditched her small group for mine. Following the retreat, we talked off and on during her remaining three and half undergraduate years. She gets the credit for staying in sporadic touch since then via email.
Would the last blogger please turn out the lights. All the cool kids are podcasting, fortunately though, some wonderful writers are still sharing hidden gems like this heartwarming essay from an acquaintance of mine to her seventeen year-old daughter.
Marycake CAN flat out write. Her eloquent description of parenting being a steady mix of joy and sadness perfectly described my experience of co-parenting two daughters a decade older than hers.
This excerpt of hers surfaces a dilemma a lot of my friends, especially female ones who parented full-time, have struggled with as their children have reached adulthood and moved out.
“Watching my daughter grow into young womanhood so focused, imaginative and bold, has made me wonder how my life would have been different if I had taken, Dare Greatly, as my motto, or Live Out Loud? Or just Be a Great Girl? But you know, it feels late to change. I am so caught up in observing the unfolding wonder of my daughters’ lives, (and in driving them all over creation) that it’s exhausting to imagine doing much with mine except laundry, or making vague threats about dressing down the boys who come around.”
No one teaches parents who parent full-time for long stretches of time how to balance their selfless care for their children with their own personal growth. In particular, with the best of intentions, parents privileged to stay home with their children sometimes loose themselves in their parenting resulting in a parent-child interdependence that complicates the tough enough already transition to young adulthood.
Sometimes so much that when their young adult children move out the parents miss their children more than the children miss them.
The challenge is how do full-time parents maintain some semblance of autonomy when so enmeshed in their childrens’ lives for a decade or two? Parenting is so time and energy consuming, how do full-time parents in particular maintain outside interests, meaningful relationships with other adults, and a some sense of purpose that extends beyond their child or children?
I wonder, for those of us who are either approaching 50 or older, is the answer not to parent so intensely?
I think so.
“I just gave her room to grow,” Marycake says a few times.
Like every parent, Marycake is nostalgic for her family’s past. Despite that, she seems to be avoiding the psychological and spiritual downsides that tend to accompany long-term, extreme child-centeredness.
I’m in the Trump Trap. I doubt I’m alone.
It’s impossible to ignore the President, but paying attention to him only feeds his narcissism and seems to make matters worse. To ignore his lies and race baiting is to condone both. I argue with a friend when he says “Obama was worse,” but that doesn’t accomplish anything. How to escape this pointless, downward spiral of negativity?
My friend, while totally exasperating on things political, has redeeming qualities. Among others, he’s committed to his family, he’s funny, he cares about those he works with. Why don’t I just focus more exclusively on those attributes?
There’s a direct correlation between how people feel about themselves, more specifically how secure they are, and their propensity to see the best in others and affirm them. If you don’t feel very good about yourself, if your insecurities win the day, you’re unlikely to sing anyone else’s praises. You don’t send thank you cards. You don’t risk any awkwardness by directly and specifically telling others what you most appreciate about them.
As if life is a zero-sum game. That there’s only so much positivity or praise to go around.
We can focus on the good in others, and name it, without any cost to ourselves. At all. Focusing on the good in others, and naming it, creates positive momentum that makes political disagreements less consequential. My friend’s politics are whacked, but he is not the sum of his politics.
One can be a good teacher, nurse, or executive, and liberally celebrate other teachers’, nurses’, and executives’ excellence. One can be a decent human being and routinely celebrate decency in others. We’re apt to recognize and publicly declare the redeeming qualities in others to the degree to which we feel okay about ourselves, the degree to which we like ourselves.
A few weeks ago, I made eye contact with another driver as I pulled into the Trader Joe’s parking lot. She was an acquaintance from church who smiled at me. “Finally,” the introvert in me immediately thought, “I’m going to get a chance to tell her how much I enjoy her blog.” Sure enough, halfway through my appointed rounds, she walked straight up to me and asked if I’d eat some fancy shmancy blueberry desert that she was thinking of making for a party. “Yes.” I assured her, and then said, “Hey, I’ve been wanting to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I’ve been enjoying cooking more and I’m amazed at your creations. And you’re really funny.” For good measure I added, “You’re a very talented writer.” To say she was touched is an understatement.
Her blog deserves a wider audience. When that happens, I will celebrate her success. Because it will not detract from this humble blog.
With respect to the President and my friend, my inclination is to ignore the President. My vote will be my proof that I’m not condoning his calculating and inflammatory rhetoric which will only get worse once the campaign begins in earnest. As for my friend, I’m going to focus more on his redeeming qualities and our common humanity.
I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life.
Fortunately though, the biggies have gone especially well. I picked excellent parents who provided a loving foundation. I went to the right college because I had to work harder than I ever had to succeed there. And I am a much better person for partnering with The Good Wife.
Also, half way through college, discerning that I wanted to teach. And related to that, earning a doctorate early on opened doors to what has been an extremely fulfilling career in higher education. And while in graduate school, committing to daily exercise which continues to add to the quality of my life.
Recently, I reflected on these life decisions when a friend, the same age as me, late 50’s, opened up about her desire to change the world. It surprised me because she’s contributed a lot to a better world as an especially caring mother and volunteer. In hindsight, she said parenting was fulfilling, but only to a point. She regretted staying home with her son and daughter as long as she did. As she talked excitedly about plans to work outside the home going forward, I couldn’t help but think how different my mindset is.
If I’m honest with myself, I do not want to change the world too terribly much anymore. Why?
I think my spirit is relatively settled because of my decision to teach. The psychic renumeration has run circles around the financial. My soul is satiated with decades and decades of meaningful relationships with numerous students and co-workers. When deciding between vocations, young people don’t factor that in nearly enough. Being in debt certainly doesn’t help.
One huge advantage of working with adult students is after a class is over they often take time to write or say how much they appreciate my teaching efforts. And for all of the downsides to social media, it’s pretty cool to get “friended” by a former student who is flourishing as a teacher or social worker him or herself in some distant corner of the country or world.
If someone tapped me on the shoulder this September and said, “Sorry dude, but we have to go younger, you know, someone with hair,” I’d be cool with it. Absent that shoulder tap, I plan on continuing half-time for the foreseeable future because I think my teaching is mutually beneficial to both my students and me. At minimum, their idealism inspires me and they help me focus on more than baby rabbits.
I do not want to change the world in the manner my more energetic and ambitious friend does, but that doesn’t preclude me from doing so in small, subtle, nuanced ways.
If I don’t want to change the world, what do I want?
I want to invest in old and new friendships by slowing down and making time for others. I want to spend more time in the kitchen. I want to sit on the deck and watch and see if the four baby rabbits cuddling together in the planter survive the eagles’ daily fly-bys. I want to enjoy art, especially excellent literature and independent film. I want to swim, run, and cycle in nature. Mostly though, I want to be present in my marriage and as a father. I want to listen and understand my wife’s and daughters’ dreams and cheer them on as they achieve them.
And I still want to help others take small steps toward thriving families, schools and communities by putting pen to paper or keyboard to screen*.
*awkward phrase, one more bad life decision
When I started the humble blog, Kevin Durant was a Seattle SuperSonic. In fitting with my life’s work as an educator, I had one overarching goal, to create community by engaging people in meaningful dialogues.
That’s proven difficult due to the internet’s vastness and our high speed, mostly anonymous and passive flitting around it. I’m still not sure how to get a lot of people to press pause. Nor do I know much about how to get people to press the “like” button, forward posts to others, or comment.
I get it because I’m a passive speed reader of blogs and social media. Plus, face-to-face interactions should always take priority.
Given the internet’s one-two-three punch of speed, passivity, and anonymity, I cherish every individual reaction, whether written or face-to-face, whether positive or negative.
This week two loyal readers gently chided me for my last, profanity-laced post. My first thought was not that they are too prudish for their own good, it was that they cared enough to let me know what they thought. Thank you two for caring enough to respond. Your critiques inspire me to continue blogging and be more respectful.
With respect to swearing, I have some sensitivities too. Specifically, I don’t like it when the “f word” becomes an ordinary, regular, routine part of anyone’s speech; however, having taught high school for five years, I’m relatively immune to run-of-the-mill swearing, and when swear words are used sporadically, I don’t think of it as a moral failing. But for anyone who has not taught high school, served in the military, or watched Chris Rock perform, I completely understand any swearing being offensive.
Knowing my two critics well, I’m sure their disappointment wasn’t a debilitating personal affront, just more of a sense that it was over-the-top and unnecessary. That the profanity detracted from a meaningful message.
I grant both of you that and apologize. That decision was not in keeping with the spirit of this project. I will resist the impulse to use profanity in the future in the hope that any reader, if so moved, can forward any post in good conscience to anyone they know.