A Quote from Buddha on Taking Action in Life

“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

Many of my long-time readers may know that back in January of 2008, I posed the question: Was Buddha a Schmuck for leaving his family to find enlightenment? Aside from what I believe to be a poor parenting decision, Buddha’s contribution to our spiritual lives has been immense.

Here, he’s asking if we’re taking the actions we need to in order to create the life we really want. Are we teahing our kids to do the same? Or are we playing it safe, waiting until “tomorrow,” to take action where it’s needed?

Our future is contingent on the actions we take today. Whether we realize it or not, our children are watching us closely. What are they learning?

And remember, you are not alone …

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Do You Have Spirituality in Your Life?

It’s been almost two years since Daddy Brain posted its first article.

Way back when, one of my goals was to write blog posts about spirituality. But the only one that resembles a spiritual post has the word schmuck in the title, so I’m guessing there’s more to explore.

Many of the issues I’ve written about – including discipline, yelling, hitting, manifesting reality, and giving kids a voice of their own, have a spiritual component. These articles touch on treating our children, ourselves and others better and living life with integrity. And as difficult as these things may sometimes be to do, they’re even more difficult if we don’t have a spiritual connection.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and sell you on any type of religion or spiritual practice. But I do want to ask:

Do you have spirit in your life?

Notice I didn’t say religion, because religion does not automatically include a living, breathing spirituality. Do you feel a connection to Universe, God, Wakan Tanka (Native American), Buddha or some other form of spiritual practice? Have you ever?

These questions are crucial for two reasons:
(1) Being tapped into spirituality reminds us that there’s something (or someone) bigger than us to help us through our lives. In the mayhem of each day, it’s easy to forget that we’re constantly supported. It’s easy for our sprit to get buried. But spirituality helps center and ground us. And if we acknowledge and trust this support – life flows easier and goals are attained more readily.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have to do our part. A great example is the joke about the drowning man. Have you heard it?

There was an old man sitting on his porch watching the rain fall. Pretty soon the water was coming over the porch and into his house.

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue boat came by and the people on board said, “We have to evacuate, you can’t stay here!” The old man replied, “No, God will save me.” So the boat left.

A little while later, the water was up to the second floor when another rescue boat came. Again, the old man was told to evacuate and hop on board. The old man again replied, “God will save me.” So the boat left.

An hour later the water was up to the roof and a helicopter flew over the old man’s house, dropping him a ladder. The pilot yelled down, “grab on and climb up! I’ll get you out of here safely!” Again the old man refused to leave stating that, “God will save me.” The helicopter flew away to save others.

Soon after, the man drowns and goes to heaven. When he sees God he asks him, “Why didn’t you save me?”

God replied, “You dummy! I tried! I sent you two boats and helicopter — what more do you want?”

I’m sure you’ll agree the point is obvious — we simply must take action.

(2) If we do not live with spirit on a daily basis, who will teach our children to? I’ve known people who are not comfortable with formalized religion, so they forgo cultivating a true spiritual life. This was my problem for a very long time.

Living with spirit does not necessarily mean praying on one’s knees every day, going to church, or sitting in the lotus position (if you can get into it) and chanting. But these are options that work for people.

On a practical level, “living with spirit” is being kind to others, helping others, doing what’s right (not what’s convenient), living with integrity and being honest. It’s being mindful and as centered as possible (deep breaths are helpful with this).

Our children are depending on us to teach them these qualities.

And remember, you are not alone…

Baby Einstein: The Target of Stupid Claims about Kids & Educational TV

I recently read two posts (see links below) on one of my favorite daddy blogs: Working Dad: An Unauthorized Guide to Parenting. The topic? Educational DVD’s for children, including Baby Einstein.

There’s a coalition called “Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood,” that believes these educational videos are not educational at all, and may actually be harmful to small children. Although the coalition mentions only a couple of children’s DVD producers, the implications are clear that no children’s educational TV is safe from this scrutiny. Which is fine, as long as common sense and intelligence lead the way.

In this case, I believe the statements made by the coalition are ridiculous, untrue, and just plain stupid.

I have seen both of my boys benefit from a LIMITED AMOUNT of television/DVD viewing. Especially programs like Thomas the Tank Engine, and other “educational” programs including Baby Einstein.

It has helped with speech, as well as learning colors and numbers. DVD’s have helped them build cognitive process by improving their ability to follow a story (sequence and succession of events). I personally find it fun, satisfying and comforting to watch these DVD’s with them. Sure, kids who learn only from DVD’s and TV do not experience the same learning advantages as kids who learn with their parents as well. I don’t need to get a grant and hold a study to make this statement — it’s common sense!

What it comes down to is this: Good parents take responsibility for their kids, and themselves. Bad parenting is bad parenting, no matter how much TV a child watches — educational or otherwise. It’s all about how good of a parent you are, how and how much you interact with your kids. If you use an educational DVD as a learning tool, great! But parents who use it as a babysitter or in leiu of personal interaction, are bad parents. How can anyone in his or her right mind think a DVD like this could be harmful?

Excuse my sarcasm, but I’d like to meet the 6-month old that was interviewed about the Baby Einstein series. I’m sure his quote of: “I find they have no educational value, at least not for me,” sounded a lot more like “gaa, poo poo, baba, dada.” Point being, adults don’t really know what’s going on in the minds of little ones when they watch TV.

I also find part of Baby Einstein’s response to all this offensive and insulting. “Since day one, Baby Einstein products have been about moms and babies spending meaningful moments together…” Yet ANOTHER major children’s company has left out dads. Maybe I’m being picky, but you know what? I AM A DAD. I TAKE CARE OF MY KIDS, JUST LIKE MY WIFE. I’m not off doing “manly” things, and it’s about time these major corporations respected that.

Maybe the people who make these comments should shift gears and examine the social implications of major companies who constantly exclude dads! Could that be something that affects our kids negatively? Not to mention dads? Something to think about for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood…

How about a campaign for common sense!

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated. Feel free to post them.

And remember, you are not alone…

Links to Working Dad’s original postings:
Baby Einstein – Part 1
Baby Einstein – Part 2

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What is a Wife?

I thank the Universe every day for blessing me with my wife. She far surpasses anything I ever imagined a wife could be.

If it weren’t for my wife, my life would be completely different, and quite frankly I think it would kind of suck. I would not be who I am today — plain and simple.

It’s because of my wife that I have learned to let go of my anger and heal from Crohn’s disease. Because of her, I am a professional writer. And it’s because of her that I have tried every endeavor that I was passionate about. Whether I succeeded or fell at the speed of light into failure, she supported me, believed in me and never complained or tried to stop me. Now that’s one darn good wife. And she’s cute too!

Without her strength and support, my chances of accomplishing these things would have diminished greatly.

As grateful as I am, I find it difficult these days (as a busy and exhausted dad) to take a moment — a real moment — to be together and regenerate. We don’t have any support since we moved away from home (for a job opportunity). It’s just us out here in the frozen tundra that is Wisconsin.

I’d like to make today National Bond with Your Spouse Day. Forget Valentine’s Day, let’s make today a day where the sweet smelling gift we give is not roses (or cake — yum!), but the gift of ourselves. Let’s take some time today to be grateful for our spouse and spend some quality time together.

Honey, thank you for being my wife. Thank you for all your love, support and patience with me.

I love you.

: ^ )

And remember, you are not alone…

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Out of energy. Out of time. Out of Luck?

It is almost midnight here in Wisconsin — better known lately as the frozen tundra, a place where an hour long drive to work on a sheath of ice zaps what little energy I might have.

For me the time is a relevant issue. I should be in bed, but my desire for rest is usurped by my need for some time to myself.

In one of my recent posts, The Road to Nowhere, I wrote about my belief that we have the power to create our reality. I’ve been thinking more and more about how we, mere mortals, are supposed to overcome the obstacles of exhaustion and lack of time, and somehow recreate our reality into something more positive and fulfilling.

Let’s face it — it’s a lot easier to write about changing one’s reality than actually doing it. Of course one could argue that writing about it is one of the elements in the manifestation process. But where do we fit in the time to take meaningful steps for change when we work all day, then come home to play with our kids, feed them and get them to bed? For me, when all is said and done it’s about 10 pm, and by this time of night I’m burnt out — how about you?

And yeah, there’s that thing about it already being 10 pm. The day is just about done unless you want to stay up late, which will have you feeling burnt out tomorrow. So you’ve got to decide the burnout factor. What’s your burnout tolerance? Mine is pretty high, so I’m able to get little things done at night — maybe an hour or two of productive work (and the occasional game of internet poker) before I lay down to the comfort of my bed.

This is one of the most frustrating problems I have ever faced. I often feel like I’m making no progress at all. If I look forward, it appears that nothing’s really happening. It just seems like what no matter what I do, I’m spinning my wheels and wasting what little time I have.

But if I look back into the past, I can clearly track the arc of progress I’ve made in my life. I remember going through really awful times, some of them life threatening, feeling that same “motionless” sensation. Or worse, literally sliding further and further downward into an ugly, negative place. But things did change. Although at the time there didn’t appear to be any change occurring until a new reality manifested.

The other day I was feeling exceptionally down and my 4-year old son noticed. He asked me why I was so sad. Then he told me:

“Don’t give up dad. You can’t give up. You just have to keep trying and do your best…”

And he’s right. This is the message I’d like to share with you. We’re only failures if we give up — so don’t! All we can do is our best each day, keeping in mind that which we’d like to create. It could take years, but it is possible.

If you take enough micro-steps they add up to a step. If you keep your momentum going (even if it falters at times) a step will turn into many steps. If you do your part, one day you’ll look back and see that you overcame what seems insurmountable today.

I think it’s also so important that we ask the Universe (God, Buddha, or however we refer to the power that is “bigger” than us) for help. There’s no shame in asking for help, and I have found the Universe is glad to give it.

Thank you Universe!

If you would like to read more of my thoughts about creating your own reality, please click: Anything is Possible; The Magic Quarter: Creating your own reality; and The Road to Nowhere: It’s not too late to recreate your reality.

And remember, you are not alone.

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Leap Day: The Next National Holiday?

As a dad who works a full-time job, I think leap day should be a national holiday.

I’m always looking for an excuse for a day off, and a day that shouldn’t really exist anyway seems like a perfect choice! I don’t think our jobs would mind  it’s not like we’re deducting a day of work from the year, we’re just not adding one! We full timers don’t get paid an additional 1/365th for the day, so why bother? Wouldn’t it be better to spend one of the last days of winter snug at home with our families?

Blame it on Julius Caesar, the father of leap year. It’s all his fault. Well, actually it’s the fault of his astronomer, Sosigenes, who worked out the details. Couldn’t he have made leap day on the weekend? This way we’d have Saturday, Sunday, Leap Day and then a 4 day work week!

Anyway, Happy Leap Day everybody.

And remember, you are not alone…

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The Fart

A couple of weekends ago a pretty special thing happened.

The whole family was napping, which is rare occurrence in our household. My older son Max (almost 4) woke up, came into our room and laid next to me like he always does.

I had been thinking about my blog, so I decided to share my thoughts with him. I explained that one of the biggest reasons I blog is for him and his brother. How I’m documenting my thoughts and feelings about being a dad so they will have a record of exactly what was on my mind when they were little. I went on and on about how grateful I am to be a dad, how important my boys are to me and how much I love them.

Then I asked Max, “does that sound good?” Usually Max is quick to answer a question. But instead, a peaceful silence filled the room. And then…

He farted!

His response to my heartfelt diatribe was a fart. And in that moment, I realized that in some strange way it was the perfect response. Time stood still, briefly, and everything I had just spoken about was affirmed in the honesty of a fart.

Who says gas stinks!

And remember, you are not alone…

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