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 …

Click here for more famous quotes.

Life is Like a Cup of Coffee …

Have you ever thought about the similarities between life and coffee?

Some people have good cups, some great – while others have a cup that’s bitter, full of yucky grains, or has simply gotten cold.

You could say the same about our lives.

In my experience as a dad and a man, I’ve found that many people think that they’re stuck with whatever cup they’ve been poured. Not true.

We all have the ability to empty out our cup, clean it, and start fresh with a better blend.

Stepping away from the metaphorical and toward the practical, what I’m really talking about is rebuilding our lives. Whether it’s changing jobs, going back to school, improving our health – whatever – there are steps we can take to go from bitter to better.

What about when others try to throw stuff in our coffee?

Sometimes it’s people we can easily avoid, like coworkers or acquaintances that are negative. But sometimes its family, and that’s a situation which becomes much harder to solve.

My youngest son has been throwing stuff in my coffee by waking up every night crying. This has been going on for longer than I can remember.

He’s obviously not trying to throw junk in my coffee – yet in it goes. Since I love him with all my heart, I want to help him, but this is making my waking hours incredibly difficult. From work, to exercise, to growing my speaking career – it’s simply much harder to move forward toward my goals because I’m exhausted.

Even in this case, there is a choice. If I let the circumstances dictate who I am, then I’m simply reacting to my environment and I am lost. If I remain true to who I am as best I can – as a dad, a husband, a writer and a speaker – then at least I’m not throwing more junk in my own coffee. It may not be perfect (yet), but this choice is certainly the better blend.

And remember, you are not alone …

Depeche Mode: “Wrong” is So Right

Daddy Brain is happy about some new music from his favorite band.

This new Depeche Mode song is awesome! And the video is pretty sick.

Enjoy…

Although sometimes life might feel like this, remember what you think and what you speak becomes your reality. It’s never too late to change your destiny…

And remember, you are not alone…

Do Your Kids Know What Goals Are?

Do your kids know what a goal is? Or do they think it’s what occurs when somebody scores in soccer?

Recently, I’ve been listening to a motivational/inspirational speaker named Zig Ziglar. Zig has an amazing audio book called Goals, which I highly recommend.

Listening to the CD’s, I got to thinking about my boys. Have I been teaching them about goals?

For some reason, probably because they’re both so bright, I assumed they already knew what a goal was.

When I asked them about it and got the, “it’s when somebody scores in soccer dad” response, I realized that I had not been teaching them — at least not in a direct way. We work on goals all the time, but I had never given them the language to understand what it was we were doing.

They needed a kid-friendly definition of the word and the concept. And they needed it now so that goal setting (and attainment) could become a core value and a way of life.

Although I’ve been “setting goals” for many years, until recently I have not written them down or defined them clearly  so they were always in a cloudy, “gaseous” state. Since they were not clearly defined, I didn’t have a tangible idea of how I would attain them, which made it impossible to fully commit to them. I just figured they’d manifest eventually if I did a little something for them here and there.

In other words, I didn’t really know how to set a goal. I was never taught.

Without a plan with realistic steps in it, I found that my “a little here and there,” was nowhere to be found. Without a clear intention there is no real goal to work towards. Just a lofty idea. As Zig would say, I was a “wandering generality,” and I needed to become a “meaningful specific.” He goes on to mention that even Howard Hill, the greatest archer in the world could not hit a bulls-eye while blindfolded. “How on earth could anybody hit a target they couldn’t see? …How can you hit a target (goal) you do not have?”

So, what’s the best way to teach these values to our children? Live them ourselves.

I do my best to start each day by asking myself: “what great thing am I going to do today?” This puts me in a good frame of mind to be proactive.

I’ve also started asking myself the following:

– Do I have milestone goals for my kids? To teach them how to ride a bike, be able to read or understand an appropriate level of spirituality by a certain age?

– Do I help my kids set “high-reaching” goals, teaching them to reach high for themselves in the process?

– Am I helping my kids set their own goals, and giving them the space to attain them? Am I supporting them (when necessary) through the process so they can come out of it having completed the goal — developing the values of integrity and perseverance?

I want to make sure that my boys know even if it’s hard, in this family we don’t give up. If this is important to you, you can get it done. I believe in you.

And remember, you are not alone…

Being Grateful Makes You Full of Greatness…

Thanksgiving week always brings about talk of what we’re thankful for in our lives.

Of course there are the basic answers like family, friends, food, a place to live, indoor toilets and any opportunity to eat massive amounts of pizza from NY.

The other day, as I tried to go beyond my usual list of things I’m grateful for, my thoughts turned into a question…

What are the results of being grateful vs. the results of being ungrateful? What are the different “side effects” or manifestations that occur on a physical, emotional and a cognitive level?

To clarify, when I say “ungrateful” I mean active complaining or ingratitude — in other words being negative.

“What you are thinking about, you are becoming.”
                                                 – Muhammad Ali

When we’re being ungrateful, we’re keeping in mind something that we’re not happy about  something negative, unwanted, bothersome or just plain annoying.

In this state of being, we get stuck in the mucky-muck of negativity. We use our energy dwelling on something we’re unhappy about instead of using that same energy to find solutions. And in doing so we help solidify what we’d really like to change.

When we’re grateful, the outcome is very different. We’re being positive, freeing up & refreshing our energy to move forward instead of holding ourselves back. Sure, there may be things we’re not happy about, but when we’re focusing on something positive, we’re letting go of being negative about something else.

I’m not saying to pretend to be grateful for something that just plain sucks. But why not think about something that doesn’t suck? Why not make a plan to make that particular issue less sucky, instead of just dwelling on it? Are humans so driven to misery that we can’t do this simple thing?

Muhammad Ali said it so beautifully. What we think leads to what we speak. What we speak leads to how we act, and in turn the reality we create.

There was a time when I was so unhappy with my job that I became physically ill and almost died. I was so ungrateful for everything good in my life that my personality became very negative, my soul spiritless. And in turn my body started failing me (I had Crohn’s Disease).

Getting sick turned out to be one the greatest gifts of my life. It woke me up (which was my body’s intention in the first place) and empowered me to make the changes I needed to make.

Although I am aware of the benefits of being grateful, that doesn’t mean I always am. It’s a constant battle to remain mindful about my thoughts (no pun intended).

I’d like to leave off with a question:

Can you allow yourself to be greatness? I’m not talking about ego here, but the greatness that comes with being grateful, positive and true to who you really are.

Anything is possible. The simple choice of being grateful just might change your life.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
The Road to Nowhere: It’s Not Too Late to Recreate Your Reality
The Magic Quarter: Creating Your Own Reality
Anything is Possible
Out of Energy. Out of Time. Out of Luck?
Can You Let Go of the Need for Control? The Sedona Method, Part 3

Reference Guide: How to get more hits on your daddy blog, or any blog!

This is the second (and final) part of my reference series for dads. I’m sure there’s more information out there, but these blogs & Web sites have been incredibly helpful to me. Depending on your blog’s content, some of the suggestions made will provide positive results, while others will leave you with an empty feeling and a craving for chocolate cake!

JohnTP.com: How to increase your blog’s traffic
This four part series is a wonderful, detailed introduction to blogging. Find links to all four parts towards the end of each post. Thanks John!

Seth Godin’s: How to get traffic to your blog
Another great resource for bloggers.

Reddit.com
Quite simply, one of the best blog aggregators around! I have found it to be very powerful IF you take the time to learn how to use it. It’s also important to choose the correct “subreddit” tag so you reach your intended audience. If a tag has a big audience, expect your click-throughs to jump! But be responsible in your posting or you’ll get bad Karma!

Good luck!

And remember, you are not alone…

Resources for Dads: Top Daddy Blogs & Web Sites

Over the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to come across some incredible blogs and Web sites for dads. I am pleasantly surprised that there more of us than I expected. A couple of fellow dads were kind enough to compile lists of some of the best blogs out there. These are a all great resources for bloggers and readers alike!

Links to Daddy Blog Lists
These sites also offer great content beyond the lists.
 

Building Camelot: 101 awesome sites for men husbands and fathers
Dad Thing:51-dad-blogs
Alltop:Dad blogs

My Favorite Daddy Blogs
With content so relevant, I visit them just about every day.

Paul Peterson Live
Paul is a pastor with incredible insight and dedication. He is a wonderful source of inspiration and spirituality no matter what your religion.

Clif’s Notes
Great dad posts coupled with an abundance of forward thinking content for teachers & educators. He’s also a bit of a sports fanatic.

Working Dad: An Unauthorized Guide to Parenting
If it’s newsworthy, and it concerns dads, you’ll probably find it on Paul’s blog. Interesting stories and book reviews that will have you digging through his archives for more.

Resources

National Fatherhood Initiative(NFI)
This is a great site to visit for everything dad — including programs, products, events, links, research, news and more!

Right now, NFI is running a contest about what it means to be a good father. They’re looking for “your best creative ideas in a video and/or photograph that expresses what involved, responsible and committed fatherhood means to you…”
Click here to find out more.

And remember, you are not alone…


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It Could Be Worse…

It is 10 pm on Easter night. I had been planning to do a satirical comment about the holiday. Something funny, with wit and chuckles to spare. The plan is out the window.

Yesterday my wife had a serious reaction to her diabetes medicine. Thank goodness she’s OK. But it was pretty scary. Today she started insulin again, something we’ve been trying to avoid. But it could be worse. It could be much worse.

Feeling much better (but still not great), my wife made a tasty Easter dinner. Homemade stuffed mushrooms with enough garlic to kill an army of vampires (yum) and a ham more tender than, well, a tough ham. The boys fussed over their food (as usual) but it was quite good and they ate enough to sustain healthy life. They acted like monkeys the entire meal (giving scientific proof to the theory of evolution) leaving my wife and I with headaches, stomach aches and a few extra aches for me to pass around at work tomorrow.

We’re 800 miles from our friends & families, living in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. Trust me, this is not an actual state. It’s an iceberg with bad pizza, but damn good beer (New Glarus Brewery)! When we lived in NY, the holidays always left me with a vague sense of dread. Now, being away from everybody leaves me with a strange sense of detached isolation. Maybe we should move somewhere in the middle. Maybe that would cancel out all of the negatives. Or at least let me enjoy a sampling of dread and isolation in tandem!

Next, the kids ran around like little hooligans (really cute ones), and evaded my lame 40 year old attempt to catch them. There was laughter to be had, but I was too out of breath to even consider anything but gasping for air. The smell of apple pie permeated the air.

It could be worse. Sometimes I just need to be reminded.

And remember, you are not alone…

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Keeping Life in Perspective

There’s no question, being a parent is hard. Being a good parent? Even harder.

In an effort to do our best, it’s easy to get caught up in the thick of daily to-do’s, responsibilities and problems (which can linger for weeks, months or even years). This struggle can be overwhelming and even debilitating. Fatigue, frustration and dissatisfaction creep in and suddenly things appear insurmountable — a huge mountain that we’re standing at the bottom of. And our climbing boots don’t fit.

The size of the “mountain,” and our ability to climb it, is directly related to our perception of the mountain. In other words, it’s as big as we think it is. You’ve probably heard the statement, “your perception becomes your reality.” It’s true.

When my perception tips toward the dark side, the Universe (God) has a way of stepping in with a reminder to help me realign.

This week, my reminder came in the form of an article in Esquire Magazine called, “What I’ve Learned: Glenn Fitzpatrick.” Glenn is the father of a 5-year old girl named Maddie. He’s also dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

And suddenly I realize, my life isn’t so bad. I’m actually pretty lucky.

Click the link above to read Glenn’s brief, yet moving interview. It really puts things in perspective. He seems to be coping with his illness and imminent death with grace and dignity, and he inspires me to deal with my problems in the same manner (which often feels impossible).

Problems that seemed so large, and feelings that were so strong shift. I’m not saying they’re invalid. They most certainly deserve respect and attention. My issues are just smaller in comparison to Glenn’s — a man whose five year old daughter won’t have a daddy soon. How hard will it be for his wife to carry on? To raise their family? To smile?

At least I’ve got a partner, my lovely wife, to help my family through the peaks and valleys of life. I always say wife rhymes with life for a reason! I thank the Universe for her every day. How much harder must it be for a single parent?

I hope Glenn’s words help you as much as they’ve helped me. If you are a single parent, or if you are sick, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. I’m always here to listen if you need someone to talk to.

Remember, you are not alone…

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The $5,000 Tooth! (and the deconstruction of America)

I’m starting to feel like The Bionic Man. Not because of any special powers or enhancements like telescopic vision (heck, I’d settle for 20/20), or the ability to run faster than a cheetah.

No, I’m talking about a tooth. A solitary tooth, which I failed to properly take care of when I had a cavity years ago.

Ka-ching! Root canal, $2,000.

Present day. Root canal’s still good. But I’m told the tooth is cracked, oh well…

Ka-ching! $3,000 for an implant.

An implant? Couldn’t they think of a more friendly name? I feel like I’m in an X-Files episode. For that price you’d think they’d at least include something high tech  like a blue tooth implant.

Point being (other than complaining), in today’s economic climate with most of us up to our eyeballs in debt, how are we supposed to get ahead? Or simply break even when the cost of living is so high? There’s only so much fat you can cut, and there’s only so many hours in a day that can be divvied up between work and family.

And yet this country spends BILLIONS of dollars “fighting” a war for the “spread of democracy.” How about the spread of economic independence for Americans? If George Bush thought more about the people of this fine country, instead of the profitability of oil, maybe I wouldn’t gag (no pun intended) at the thought of such expensive dental work. 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a “turn the other cheek” world. And we don’t live in a world where disputes are always resolved through talking and cooperation. So yes, we have to defend ourselves. But I’ve heard that the USA gave Osama Bin Laden somewhere in the amount of 3 billion dollars prior to September 11th. How much good would that have done for America? But to gain leverage and power in the Middle East, this money was given to a man who masterminded a terrible day. Nice work with that investment there.

And if no “weapons of mass destruction” were really found in Iraq, then why attack? Oh yeah, power & profit. Then we get to pay over $3 for a gallon of gas. It appears that “spreading democracy,” as George Bush puts it, is pretty hard on everyone but the rich here in America. And the deconstruction of economic foundations is global. That’s how influential our country is. In a very real way, we’ve become the heart of the world.

I’m left with a troubling question: Who has the guts, the brains and the determination to make this a better world for our kids? Who has an honest soul and a heart that cares more about helping Americans than making a buck?

I feel like there’s a cavity eating through America and there’s no dentist to be found not at any cost.

Your thoughts and opinions are welcome.

And remember, you are not alone…

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