Shared Experience

My kids have had their first Grateful Dead experience – and it was a success.  We shared the experience last night at Madison Square Garden as Dead and Company covered three hours or so of material.  As we were heading home, I realized this is just the latest in the shared experience my girls and I have.

Through academic achievement, school performance and athletic endeavor, my girls have allowed me to share in the experience of their lives.  Seeing their conquests and even some disappointment as time has gone along.

And since Risa passed away (nearly seven years ago) the girls and I have shared experiences – starting with skiing in the weeks after the funeral.  We’ve been able to enjoy that for years (even though 15.0 “retired” from the sport last winter).  We’ve done mud-runs together, vacationed together and celebrated life events together.

That shared experience I hope is a bond that the girls can count on – because as we rip days off the calendar this school year, we get closer to 17.0 going away to school.  Whether we’re ready for that or not – the day will come and we’ll have another shared experience (albeit this one apart).


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Experience the Dictator

As a parent one of my goals is to try to impart my experiences on my kids-and hopefully lead them to the lessons learned.  But the reality is they will have to have their own experiences and draw their own lessons.  I can only hope I have done and will do a good enough job in teaching them how to learn from their experiences and how to find good experiences from bad.

And right now I can probably use some of that sage learning for myself.

While I have never been a true student of history and I’ve never been one to claim those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it-I do believe that our experiences and our personal histories help to shape our choices today and our futures beyond.

Case in point is my latest brain teaser-relating to one of my least favorite topics to dwell on-relationships.  As I go about entering into and nurturing relationships in many ways I am back to my days of being 25 years old.  The significant difference is the mountain of responsibility I manage along with the relationship that I did not have when I was 25.

Even back then, this was no slam dunk topic for me.  Fast forward to 2012, with two kids, a career, a house and being out of that market for the last 18 years or so-it’s a challenge.  What makes it even more perplexing is that unlike when I was 25 and dating 25 year old’s the people in my dating range also have a new mountain of experiences and responsibilities that they have to navigate too.

So being successful in a relationship in 2012 as a single parent means not only balancing the give and take of partnership.  But also navigating the life experiences of the partner-and as I’ve learned this month that’s no easy ask.

At each crossroad it’s easy to look inward and gaze through the window of my life and pick a path to negotiate.  It’s much tougher to negotiate cross roads through two lifetimes-when the intersecting roads are years upstream of the experiences.

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The Reluctant Expert

As we move through life we all gather experiences that help us from who we are, and in many cases can give us a level of expertise in diverse areas.  While we may not be recognized world leaders in a subject, when you get into your social circles, if you think about it some, no doubt you will have an expert on cooking, an expert on baking, an expert on banking and very likely an expert on cancer.

I admit, expert may be a little strong-perhaps its expertise (at least experience).

But what is not over-stated is when you need help, advice or insight into something you will reach into your social fabric and find the person whose opinion you respect and who you think will give you guidance to get you through an event, point in life or a moment in time.

While I like to talk about technology, social media and mobile; the area of expertise I am more often asked about is being there to support a partner with cancer and how to pick up the pieces when cancer strikes.

In fact, if it were not for the last two items on my list above you would not be reading this blog.  Still, it’s not quite expertise I feel blessed to have.  I do feel blessed in some way to be able to positively share my experiences and who knows perhaps even help someone who is facing the decisions I was forced to face.

The reality though is that every situation is just slightly different.  And every situation has different factors that weigh against it-making even real-time experience in my mind somewhat suspect.  Still, I know it has a calming effect to know someone has walked the walk ahead of you.

Over the last month or so, I’ve offered some thoughts and insights to four different people who are setting out on the post cancer diagnosis path.  One is a single woman, two are young families and one is a single guy.  Half of the people are friends of friends the others are friends of mine.  It does not make the advice any different, it perhaps changes slightly the way it’s delivered though.

But I still have this nagging feeling that maybe I should not be in that business because the factors are different, and there is no doubt the outcomes will be different in some way, shape or form.  Still there are the contestants: the treatment’s effects on patient and supporters; a feeling of helplessness when you ask a doctor what you think is a black and white question and get shades of gray as an answer; the stark reality that no matter what the outcome is things will be changed.

While I’d love to be known as an expert in the areas I have a passion, perhaps my calling is to be the reluctant expert in living day-to-day and just making today better than yesterday-because tomorrow is too far away to worry about.

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Visiting Day

OK, so first, this post is like two weeks later than it should be-but a lot has been going on between the new job and home improvements etc.  So, better late than never…

As anyone who even casually reads this blog knows, my kids went off to sleep away camp for the first time this summer.  There was the stress of getting everything they needed, getting it labeled and getting it packed-but somehow between school events and softball games we made that happen.  You can read in on the day I dropped the girls at the bus here to get a flavor for my overall mindset about sending them off to camp.

Roughly three weeks into camp (two weeks ago) was visiting day.  Visiting day for me struck up a lot of memories about visiting day when I went to camp.  To help with those memories, my mom made the trip to Monticello with me.

The picture is when I was walking onto the camp grounds, the kids were all lined up, waiting to see their parents, and then there was a mad dash.  The interesting thing here is that I saw 8.5 first-well before she saw me.  I didn’t see 11.0 until she was about four feet away.  Seeing them made me realize how much I missed having them around, but seeing them also made me realize how good it’s been for them to be at camp and having this experience that is theirs and one they can share with me.

As we walked around the camp grounds, went swimming, took out a row-boat, sat under a tree eating fried chicken, getting ice cream at the canteen-I realized this was their place and I was just the visitor.  I think that’s the first time I felt like that with the girls.  It’s not a feeling I get when I go to their school.  It’s not really the kind of feeling I got when I went to see their plays and gymnastic shows at day camp.  I got the feeling this was their place and their memories they could share with me the way they want to-and when they want to.

Hopefully, they’ll be willing to share and hopefully I can get them to embrace this concept that it’s great for them to have moments that are theirs to share.


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