Your Best and Hope

do your best and hopeGenerally, I try to keep things positive and keep it in perspective.  It would be easy to lament the things I’m either missing or have been without in life.  But I don’t think that serves me well – instead (and I use this metaphor a lot) I look in the mirror in the morning and hope the guy looking back knows you do your best and hope for the right outcome.

Admittedly, it sounds a little overly thought out – but a friend’s Facebook post recently got me thinking about not only my life my the lives of my kids.  Without sharing more than she may want in this forum – she’s a 9/11 widow and her daughter – who was a new-born on that day in 2001 recently went found her father’s name at the memorial in NYC.  My friend posted the text exchange she had with her daughter including a picture of the name.

Do your best and hope is probably standard thinking for any parent – or at least I would hope that it is.  But in the case of an only parent where you play two roles but can only be one person it has a different feel.

I grew up without a father.  He passed when I was in kindergarten.  I don’t think I missed out on anything in life – but I admit I didn’t have a blueprint to be a father.  This is when your best and hope has to work.

My kids are growing up without a mother.  What will their future as parents be? Was my best good enough? I hope so.

In my house, my kids have a closeness I never had with my brothers.  I’m not sure that’s just a function of girls and boys.  I’m not sure its a function of parenting.  Even when my older brother lived with us for a year, I still never felt that bond that I can see in my girls.

Back then I told my kids we were opening our house because that’s what you do for family – it was the best we could do at the time.  You do your best and hope.

So as we embark on the next school year with all kinds of firsts – 17.5 will drive to school, graduate in June, apply to college while 15.0 will move into honors English and advanced art classes – is my best enough?

It’s what I can offer.  Everyday I tell the guy in the mirror – just do your best and hope.

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Remembering and Letting Go

CandlesOn this Yom Kippur morning (yeah, no comments about my posting on Yom Kippur OK?) it’s a chance to think about moments and people.  In this week that includes September 11, there has been a lot of that going on.  Remembering and letting go, two distinct concepts tied together.

On 9/11 as I was thinking about friends and colleagues taken that day in the terror attack I was flipping through my phone and realized their names and numbers were still in there.  In some cases email addresses were there too.  Obviously, I’m not calling or texting.



I can’t remember what phone I was carrying in 2001, but I am pretty sure I had to actively put their names and numbers into at least one if not two phones since that day.  A moment to remember friends without letting them go.  Their entries in my address book really are out of sight out of mind most of the year.

Then I realized on my Facebook are two friends who passed away over the years.  Their profiles still there, not deleted.  I’m not putting messages on their walls but they are there.  Another chance to remember without letting go.  Again, mostly out of sight and out mind, not in the way.

Even in my house, there are items tucked away-out of sight and out of mind, but still there and present from time-to-time.  Remembering and letting go.  Part of life sure, but also a part of us.

So the candles we lit last night for Risa, my father, my brother, Risa’s father and all those we have lost flicker on this Yom Kippur.  We remember, let go and do not forget.

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Change v. Evolution

Stages in human evolutionA long time ago while sitting in an executive meeting with members of the “C” ring of a large company I heard an executive explain a 180-degree change in course by stating with a straight face, “My thoughts on that have evolved.”  That line has stuck with me for more than 10 years.  I’ve even used it.  This week though, I’ve been holding court in my head in an interesting case of Change v. Evolution.


One of the issues with this debate, the plaintiffs in the case are both me.

I like to think of myself as an evolved person.  As a single parent with two girls I have to be in touch with enough of my feelings to be able to talk to my girls.  Now that one is about to be a teen and the other is holding on to tween, the conversations are very different.  I think I am effective enough though to hold my own with both scenarios.

Then come other aspects of life-when I’m not at work and not at home and have to communicate.  That can be a challenge for me.  I even stopped to get some testimony on this theory today and my thoughts were validated.  I do struggle.  But I think I am better at those conversations now than I was when I was in college or when I was married.

To borrow from the executive mentioned at the beginning, my abilities in this arena have evolved.  When I looked up the difference between “evolution” and “change” it was an interesting read.

Via evolution is a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development.  The same site says change is to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone

By my read, over the course of the (gulp) 23 years since college my ability to communicate has evolved in the truest sense of the word.  And I’d like to think the evolution will continue.    But change seems more immediate and less nuanced.  Yes, in this case life is better with change (and the change agent) that what it would be if left alone.

While man gradually stood through the course of evolution, change (and it’s agents) can be far tougher.  Think back to the change in our history on 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombings.  It’s a sudden shock that alters the reality.

In my house, I try to bring on change through evolution-long and short-term evolution projects.  My kids deserve that, and frankly I can handle that.  Change in the house that comes on suddenly tends to disrupt our house and we’ve had enough of that.

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Marathons, Tragedies and Explanations

Marathon BombWith the images of the explosions at the Boston Marathon seared into our minds, the tragedies that followed the blasts burned into our minds and the sense of reality sinking in, it’s time to look back at how the explanations of all this sounded.  Oh what a week it was.


Starting with the blasts.  The moments of chaos, the images of dust settling and soldiers pulling the spectator pens apart.  Eerily reminiscent of 9/11 in NYC.  In 2001 12.5 was just a year old so we didn’t really worry about the images.  This time would be different.  I knew they girls would hear about this in school, but I wanted to keep them as best I could from the early views of the blasts.

Then as the memorial service faded to black came the manhunt.  I awoke to the head of the Massachusetts State Police on Friday morning saying, “This is a very grave situation,” and I had to think about how to manage this message with the girls.

Left unsaid was going back 18 months or so, I was thinking about targeting the Boston Marathon this year as an event I would feel good about.  Going back to 2000 when we moved to Boston (where 12.5 was born), I was fascinated by the Boston Marathon.  The day is an event in Beantown and the course a great test of will.  For me, my knee issues of 2012 took care of that goal.

But for the single dad, there was a lot to explain.  12.5 theorized connections to Sandy Hook and the failed gun control laws in Congress.  10.0 reported dutifully on the facts (as an aside, I like that her teacher this year sets time aside for current events).

Missing from the puzzle though was the discussions I would have with the girls about the images they were seeing, the stories they were hearing and facts and fallacies they were processing.  Coming out of the news environment I can offer some insight into how decisions are made on what they see or hear, but giving context to the un-contextual is a different issue.  Putting it in terms that are digestible for a 10-year-old and meaningful for a 12-year-old is a different story.

For better or worse I avoid those “how to talk to your kids” stories in papers and on TV and just handle in real-time the discussions. I try to use the words they use and whatever insight  I can add in.  Still though, marathons should not end in tragedies that need explanations, right?

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The Updated Duck and Cover

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imagesLike any parent this morning (and over the weekend) I spent time avoiding the news while with my kids and working on how to discuss the mass killing in the elementary school in Newtown, CT.  And like many parents, I struggled.

Finally I had the chance to talk with 12.5 and she knew about the events and we talked about how the shooter broke into the school and how she would see some changes in her school this morning when she went-tighter security, stricter process etc.

Then came talking to 10.0.  As of last night she had not heard anything about it (not surprising) so we talked about it at a very high level and we talked about increased security at her school etc.

This morning, I had on the local TV news as I usually do as I am making breakfast and getting things ready for the day.  Not surprisingly, 10.0 was first down and she started watching TV and it was Newtown coverage.  I sent her to get her shoes on, and I turned it off.  She didn’t need that.

And we started talking about what the schools call “lock down drills.”  Apparently she had done one once in first or second grade and not since.  Probably unlike most parents in my district I am OK with this.  I liken these modern-day “lock down drills” to the goofy air-raid drills of my generation.  I can remember it well.  1977, 1978 etc, fourth and fifth grade going into the hallway with our jackets and kneeling against the wall and covering our heads.  It’s what we would do if the Japanese bombed Franklin Square I guess.

Problem is, this World War Two hold-over was a relic by the time I was practicing it.  By then we were at the height of the cold war and the policy of mutually assured destruction kept the USSR from bombing the US and in any event, in the nuclear age, surviving the blast was only part of the equation.

Fast forward to this shooting and how our schools will react.  Renewed efforts at the modern-day duck and cover drill.  This time though instead of going into the hallway, it’s about hiding in plain sight in a classroom and being quiet.  I suppose in a world where all that is old is new again, we will follow a policy of mutually assured destruction as well-and instead of finding  a way to simply make it harder for people to mass kill 26 people in a matter of moments we’ll find a way to equalize the equation, and arm teachers and principals in our schools.  More guns to solve the gun problem.  After all isn’t that what the Second Amendment is all about?

It’s not my child’s right to life, liberty and happiness.  It’s all about the right to bear arms.

I know better than to mix politics into this blog, but I will.

I can only hope instead of following the tried and true path of mutually assured destruction – I think from Columbine to 9/11 to Aurura to Newtown (and plenty in between) we’ve seen how that works out.  Its time for leaders to lead.  More of the same won’t work, and neither will duck and cover.

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Nice write through on technology during the Bush years

From Decalan @ CNet

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