A Birthday Wish

Today would have been Risa’s 48th birthday.  As has always been the case – I thought about it a couple of days ago (April 4 to be exact).  For all the years we were together, I could never firmly remember whether her birthday was the fourth or the eighth.  I just was ready on the fourth and waited for others to say happy birthday.  So, here’s a birthday wish….

While I struggle with April because of birthday’s and the milestones of the month Risa was always big on birthdays.  I can’t help but think she would have truly found pleasure in taking 16.5 to the seamstress this morning for a second fitting for her junior prom gown (it needs a few more nips and tucks).  And I know she would have found 14.5’s coming home with the application for working papers and a plan to get a job rewarding – I know I did.

There won’t be any candles (or cake) tonight.  No singing of “Happy Birthday.”  Instead, there will be a birthday wish that I know Risa would hope to share – that everyone take a moment to enjoy what you have and cherish the moment.

I know I will today – and into next week when the next milestone comes.  Then as I turn 50 later this month – I too shall share in this birthday wish.

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8765 Times 6

RisaThere are 8765 hours in a year, 52,590 of them have ticked off since Risa passed away.  Probably because of the timing, it becomes a strange time of year for me (and I think for my girls as well).  While the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of year,” there are probably more than just me who would stop and question that.  8765 times 6 – there’s a lot to think about.

Who’d have thunk there would come a time I have two teen-aged girls in high school – much less thriving in that environment.  16.5 is in honor roll and 15.0 is pulling a low 90 GPA.  Far better than I ever did, clearly taking after their mom.

Along with a second transition to high school, we’ve (and I say we because it’s been the three of us)  conquered an introduction to driving, a change of sport from softball to tennis, a job change for me and just getting through another 8765 hours with the rest of life’s challenges.

Reflecting this time of year is probably normal – give or take this is when people (who make them) will begin to think about New Year’s resolutions.

I was chatting with a friend who is also widowed – and we were talking about how tough this time of year can be as an only parent where you’re dealing with the family and everyone is happy.  And it’s not to say we’re not happy – but there is a part missing.

What would Risa think about her girls excelling in school? I know how proud I am of it and I know she would be proud too – but what would she think?

And would 16.5 be a different (maybe better, maybe worse) driver if there was another voice offering guidance?  I don’t know.  We don’t have that second voice, and I don’t pretend there is a second voice.

In the last 8765 hours 15.0 made a change from softball to varsity tennis.  She walked onto the tennis court just before Labor Day this year and became a tennis player and has taken to the sport with determination.  I know Risa was a very determined person as well, happy to see she’s taken on the best of the traits.

16.5 entered the working world over the summer and excelled as a lifeguard at a water park near our house.  She embraced the challenge of working and becoming responsible – maturing into a woman.  Now we begin thinking about test prep and college search.  I know those are the parts of life Risa would have cherished, and despite the challenges I know it’s a time I will cherish with her and her sister.

15.0 has also become expressive in art – a skill I only wish I had, but again its a skill her mother possessed.  I can’t help but smile when I walk into her room and see her work on display on the walls.

And because managing life with me and two teen-aged girls isn’t quite challenging enough I decided to change jobs this year too.  It was one of those situations where it was time to make a change and the right opportunity came along – but its in those moments where I try to think through important changes, don’t really have that life partner to talk to and know I’m about to make a life changing decision – the clock slows down, and a few of those 8765 hours feel like days at a time.

I wonder, what would Risa think about all of this?  Am I doing the right thing?  Would my father be proud of life I’ve created for my family?

I’d like to think the answer is yes – because that will help get me through the next 8765 hours and changes our lives will face again.

 

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Still Talking

Still TalkingIt’s been nearly a month since I’ve managed to carve out the 20 minutes or so needed to update my blog.  Not that there haven’t been 20 minute stretches where I’ve been sitting around doing nothing, but rather just finding the mental (and sometimes physical) energy to compose 250-400 words in a coherent order has been tough lately – but that doesn’t mean I’m not still talking.

Most of my energy over the last month has been focused on getting started in a new job.  Without really meaning to, I went from one really large company to another.  While the job is very similar, it’s very exciting to be starting out on a new path with new challenges.

That new path has included two trips to Atlanta (corporate offices for this job), Toronto (to meet with customers) and a few extra runs into the city to meet with colleagues and customers.

Now a month in – I think we’re starting to find the groove and get into a rhythm of work and balancing the rest.

The spring also brings with it the bigger track season for 15.5, the more important softball season for 13.5 (including the school team) and the start of obstacle course races for all of us that get sprinkled in.

In looking at the school calendar, next week is also the close of the third quarter – which means its time to start getting into the home stretch of school and get the summer all teed-up.  This year 13.5 is going back to camp (we’ll do some shopping) and 15.5 (who will be 16 in the summer) is staying home and working.  No telling what that means just yet.

So yeah, I’m still talking – just more of it out loud (and often to myself) than on here just because for the only parent – spring is the busy season.

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One Hour A Day

one hour a dayEvery now and then I get a question from a friend,  a comment on this blog or just in passing – and generally it goes something like this, ” Wow, you have two teen-aged girls, a full-time job and you manage to get to the gym almost every day, how do you do it?”  Usually I just shrug and say I just get it done.  I realized this week though, the truer answer is – its my hour.  One hour a day I get to be fully in charge of what I do.

Sometimes its a little longer, sometimes its a little shorter – but that is my time.  I think I deserve to carve one hour out of the day for me.

Break it down – figure 6-7 hours sleeping.  8-10 hours working.  An hour getting the girls up and going in the morning.  3-4 hours juggling events and driving from place to place.  That’s 18-22 hours of 24 accounted for.  So one hour at the gym where I don’t have to check in on anyone, I can do what I want and reach my goals seems pretty fair.

And that’s the reason why I don’t use my phone at the gym – I am “off the grid,” or at least close to it.  Through the magic of iOS in an emergency I can still be reached – but whatever the call or text is, it will wait until I’m done doing my thing for that one hour.

The reality is, that hour can vary.  Some days it’s at five in the morning.  Other days it’s at 11:30 in the morning – usually its somewhere in between.  But it’s my one hour a day to not have to be accountable to anyone but myself.

That’s not bad thing.  In anyone’s life in 2015 there is accountability to so many people and institutions.  My girls have expectations of their father.  My bosses (and I have several) have expectations.  Although lesser – there are expectations from extended family and friends.  But for one hour a day I can hold myself accountable.

Some days I push really hard.  Other days it’s a lighter workout – but it’s my decision, for one hour a day.  There are great people at my gym to answer questions and offer encouragement.  There are great resources on-line to get motivation and new ideas.

The best advice I can offer – even if the gym isn’t your thing, take the hour.  You deserve it, its yours.  Go off the grid and be in the moment for yourself one hour a day.

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New Year, New Paint Job

New Paint, New YearWhen someone asks (and they will), “What did you guys do on your holiday break?” I have a few answers I can fall back on.  We skied.  We spent some time with our cousins.  We spent some time in the city.  We saw some friends.  And in the new year, new paint for one of our bathrooms.

Painting a bathroom is generally not something of note, I get that.

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But when I make changes to the long-term status quo in the house it’s always with a sense of hesitation.  It goes unexpressed, but I always wonder if the girls feel as if I am erasing part of their memories.

In my defense, the paint in the 1/2 bathroom we painted this weekend was the original builders off-white paint that has been in use for more than 10 years.  Frankly the bathroom looked awful.

Much like the living room upgrades and painting I did almost three years ago and the new couch that followed shortly after, it was simply time to make a change and I did it.  So went the bathroom.

There are other areas in the house I’d like to get to, and in time I will.  There’s a closet full of stuff that I don’t need that is mostly out of sight and out of mind.  I have some peeling paint in another bathroom, some scarred walls that need new paint – and in time all of that will be done.

But not before I reach the point where I just can’t deal with the status quo.  Maybe not the best system, but hey – In the new year I have new paint job in a bathroom.

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My Summer “Off”

My Summer OffAlmost two-weeks into my summer off (at least off from being a parent) and time is going by quickly.  Last summer, while the girls were at camp I was busy doing PT two-three times a week to recover from ACL replacement.  Nothing like that this summer, it’s kind of like having my summer off.

It’s not to say nothing is getting done, it is. It’s just a different feeling than last summer, or even two summer’s ago (the girls’ first summer at camp).  Two years ago, I was just starting my job so  there was a lot to learn and lot’s of running around.  Last  year it was all the PT.  This year, it’s actually time to just take a breath.

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And coming off the year, at least the first six months of 2013 that we had, time off is not so bad.  Between my second knee surgery (and extended PT), 13.0’s Bat Mitzvah and 10.5’s break-out violin year-we did a lot.

So now I get letters 4-5 times a week from the girls, we talk once a week and we’re all able to just unwind-not so bad.

So yeah, I still have a lot of work to do.  I have a heavier travel schedule over the summer than I carry during the year and I’m still trying to get a few projects done around the house.  But in the end, so far, my summer “off” is pretty good.

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The Comfort Zone – Who’s To Judge?

Comfort ZoneI think it’s fair to say everyone has a comfort zone.  Call it that area you feel at ease in situations:  at work, among friends, socially, morally. It’s where you are most relaxed and able to thrive (as opposed to survive).  But sometimes you need to step out of the zone and push your limits.  But who’s to judge where the line is and when you’ve pushed through it?

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A few weeks ago at work my boss in talking about a job candidate stated he wanted to have this person present something, and see what the candidate would be “out of their comfort zone.”

But I wonder if we even are intellectually aware of being in the comfort zone?

There are situations and settings where you are comfortable and times and places where you are uncomfortable.  I get that.  But I wonder about the outward signs of being in or out of the comfort zone.  What would that look like?

I know for example I can sustain a conversation of small talk, but get uncomfortable talking about myself.  It’s not a paralyzing issue for me though, and does not hold me back.  In fact there are times I even manage to talk about myself in social settings and survive.  So is that my new comfort zone?

Probably not.  But not because of a comfort issue.  But because it’s kind of who I am and I am not really one to share.  Not comfort-preference.

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Making Time to Just Catch Up

It’s not an overly new problem-just not enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do, so there are little trade offs here and there-new blog posts aren’t written, shopping isn’t done, books aren’t read and connections are put off or missed.

Nothing new about that certainly, but I have to admit I was hoping to be better about all of this over the summer, yet with starting a new job it only gets tougher, and that’s a good thing for sure.

For readers of this blog, I have a backlog of updates to get to-visiting day at camp, picking colors to pain rooms, trying to get out and be social, answering the well-intentioned question, “How is everyone doing?”

But for now, here’s 100+ words explaining why getting to any of those subjects is a challenge.

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Timing, Its Everything and Nothing

Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows I have a tendency to be on an eternal job search; even when I am reasonably happy at a job-I like to know what’s out there.  Hey, you never know, right?

Such is the case right now, where I am active in the job market and really trying to explore opportunities inside and outside my comfort zone.  One thing I do intentionally is to try to keep my job search and details of it away from my kids.  It’s a tough concept to explain to someone who’s idea of the work force is getting a job at McDonald’s or possibly Stop and Shop.

I should be clear (my mom trolls this blog from time to time) I am doing more than alright at this point-with more contract work than I can handle, and more coming on.  That said there are so many exciting things going on in the digital world I am trying to find a place where I can jump back out to the front of the revolution.

So, I network, talk with people and go on interviews.

Last night as the girls and I were finishing dinner, I got a call from one of the companies I have targeted as being someplace I can go and make a difference.  (I am going to be intentionally vague now).

In this case, it’s a job opening that a friend told me about and after reading the job description I am probably 85% qualified for, but since I am all about the conversation (since nothing will happen without a conversation first) I flipped a resume to them.  They are not in the tri-state area and since I admitted in the note I sent I was not the total package they were looking for, I kind of did not think much about it again.

That is until I got a call last night from the recruiter for the position-she wants to talk with me.  That’s great.  But now I am involved in a discussion with my kids about my talking to someone about a job that is not local-so they would have to move.  No matter how much I tell them, or try to help them to understand, a conversation now is not even close to beginning to pack up to move-in their mind’s we’re moving.

Now the flip side, I have long been an advocate of moving.  It’s the best way I know to make sure you don’t over-accumulate in your life.  Pack it up and move it.  It leads to an immediate thinning of the junk to stuff quotient.

That said, we are not getting ready to move.  I am getting ready to have another discussion, and see where it goes.

But I could have used that call last night either 20 minutes later (when I left the girls to American Idol) or an hour earlier when both were engaged elesewhere….ah well, we work with what we have.

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The Right Network for the Right Message

My recent brush with semi-unemployment taught me an interesting lesson about social networks (which I admittedly belong to far more than any one per should).  Each one has a unique place and when leveraged in a meaningful can drive results.

So among other places, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and right here on WordPress (which for the sake of this argument I will position as a social network).

Before I left my office at CBS News for the last time (this was late in October) I updated my Facebook status and put out a tweet.  Both were intentionally misleading, as people who knew my situation at work knew what was up–and those who didn’t had questions–but I really did not want to deal with it.

By the time I made my way to Penn Station (admittedly I stopped at a couple of bars) I had job interviews lined up one via a friend (who to this day I have never met in person) through Twitter and one through a good friend (who I actually know) via Facebook.

As the days rolled on, I came to realize that I could make connections to people or reconnect to people across the expanse of my social networks.

  • On LinkedIn I found some folks whose contact information I did not save to my file as I left my CBS office.
  • On Twitter I was getting @ messages and DM’s with links to posted jobs.
  • On Facebook came support and a few laughs.
  • On WordPress I found some tips for better presenting my skills and background.

I have always been a believer in karma when it comes to things professional–I help people (including employees) jobs.  Former employees always have a reference from me. Part of me wants to believe the great support I got was Karma coming back to me–because I will keep on doing what I do.

Beyond the notion of karma though is the reality that we can all be connected–and be there to support one another.  Knowing where to go and how to tap into that resource is part of the emerging field.

My quick takeaways–as I am not sure I have all of the answers on this–and the reality is the place I landed was born more from hard work than working the systems is something like this:

  1. Don’t try to solve all of your problems in an hour or a day.  It’s a process, treat finding a job as a job and make it part of your day-to-day.
  2. Accept help when it’s offered, and don’t be afraid to ask.  None of us have all the answer-but together we are a pretty good knowledge base.
  3. Make sure all of your networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are presentable to anyone who does a Google search.
  4. Be an active contributor to the communities you want to work in.
  5. Be proactive.  This blog was born out of uncertainty about my job at CBS more than 2 years ago.  I wanted to have a place to send people to see my expertise.  Become and expert and have a place to share that expertise.

Let me know if you have any additions to my list–I am happy to add them on–and I always give credit.

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