Perspective On The Year Ahead

17.0 and I just got home from the first real college tour – last year we did a one-off college visit to NYU in NY but that (at least in my mind) wasn’t a real tour.  This time we did two of the State University of New York (SUNY) schools that would realistically be college destinations.  While one is still in the running and one is out – my lesson was in perspective on the year ahead.

17.0 is going into her senior year of high school.  For the most part I can recall most of that year (despite it occurring more than 25 years ago.  I really don’t recall such a big focus on the college tour – but that’s a different story.

As we were walking the second SUNY school today, I asked 17.0 what she was looking for on these campuses.  I think I wanted to know what she was using as her yardstick to measure one school against another.

Her answer was interesting – she wanted to measure out the campuses (small, medium and large); find out about campus life and maybe a little about her major.

I would have thought she would be more focused on the school’s proximity to town and what living in a dorm would be like.

Just a differing perspective on the year ahead.

As we were driving home, she asked me for a reminder of when she can go for her senior portrait (tomorrow).  Then she was focused on her yearbook quote.  I can’t even recall mine.  To be honest, I can’t even recall if we had them.

My thought on them though is you need to think about your audience 10 years out.  After all once the school year ends, the yearbook is put away – and comes out right before the 10 year reunion.  I’d like to think experience gives me perspective on the year ahead – but I could be wrong.

I’m going to guess that this year will be eye-opening for me – going through a lot of changes for the first time.  It’s been a while since there was this much upheaval – the good news is, hopefully I learn something by the time 14.5 is ready for her senior year.

That’s my perspective on the year ahead.

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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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8765 Times Four Living and Remembering

RisaThere are 8765 hours in a year – and each of them has ticked off once again since Risa passed away in 2010.  Entering my fifth year as a single parent raising two girls and I can say we are making the best of our lives and have overcome life’s hurdles – not without challenges.  But 8765 times four living and remembering, we’re hanging in.

A lot happened during the course of the year – along with each of us getting a year older we’ve gone about living our lives together and independently – and I think each of us have learned a lot.  The memories we share of Risa are never far away, and we talk about them a lot.

For me, I’ve had the chance to do so much during the last year.  It may not look like a well planned and thought out process – but more often than not it is.  There are so many people in my life who help make things easier to deal with.  Many have been there for a life time or longer – others are new.

For the girls, the year has been full of a lot of change and transition.  14.0 is in high school now, and asserting her independence.  12.0 is growing so quickly – and is quickly becoming a young lady.  She’s deep into the circuit for bar/bat mitzvahs for friends now – with hers less than a year away.

In the middle of the year our long time sitter moved out.  A few months later, my brother (who needed a chance to re-boot) moved in.  One day we’ll get our house back – but until then, I think Risa would be happy.  8765 time four living and remembering – and we’re doing OK.

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The Holiday Break Upon Us

Holiday SkiingWell, we made it.  With the holiday break upon us, and another year coming to a close we can all take a moment to sit back, reflect and project.  2013 was not so bad, and in looking ahead 2014 seems to have a lot of great possibilities – but first we need to navigate the holiday break upon us.

Now before doing what I do and rolling your eyes at another year-end romp through things that were and weren’t, keep reading.  This is not that.

Often when people talk about the holiday season, there is a sense of renewal.  The Hanukkah story is one of triumph.  It’s the day Christ was born, and it all culminates with the ball dropping in Times Square and we all get a fresh start on a new year.

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For me (and I’ve never asked the girls about this), heading into the holiday break there is a different kind of renewal.  Three  years ago, when Risa passed, it was in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That year, Hanukkah was just starting (I remember lighting three candles, I could be wrong) and I was preparing for a funeral.  The blow-by-blow of that day is well chronicled so I won’t go into all of that.

Instead, I’ll focus on the moment of renewal.  The way things went from December 3, 2010 to December 31, 2010 were a bit of a blur.  The girls and I were home for the week of the funeral.  The went back to school the following week and I tried to pull the rest of our lives back together.  Then I went back to work for a week, and then the holiday break was upon us.

It was in that moment, kind of as a last-minute decision I set a course of renewal.  We went skiing.

I had done a lot of skiing before we moved to Boston and we had our first child.  After that I had gone 10 years without skiing.  The girls and I talked about skiing in the winter of 2009, but we just could not pull it off.  So, off we went.

Looking back at that moment I see it as the time we all began to realize we would be alright, there would be a life ahead of us.  We now had something we can share, a new experience and one that allowed us at that time to come together and enjoy memories-without having to relive the painful ones that were on the surface at that moment.

Last winter-with issues with both of my knees and a mild winter we were not able to ski.  But this year, the holiday break is upon us, and we will be off to build on our shared memories, enjoy our time together and remember that we can still have fun-and that’s not so bad.

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8765 Times 3 Plus The Circle of Life

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

Risa on her wedding day with her sister and mother

There are 8765 hours in a year.  In the three years I’ve been widowed, 26,297 hours have ticked off.  Recent events though have made me realize, my life isn’t so bad.  Yes, its challenging at times but as the girls and I mark our third year without Risa and the passing of her mother (their grandma) at 8765 times three plus the circle of life we’re doing OK.

Maybe it’s the time of year that all of this occurs in – the holiday season filled with symbols that make the images of 2010 so vivid.  There was Thanksgiving at our home, a very quiet day with the girls.  We hosted Thanksgiving dinner again.  It’s become an impotent part of our time together.  We know where we are.

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Back then I got the call that Risa was starting to decline.  This year the call was different but the message was not.  A member of the family was approaching the end.  This time it was Risa’s mom Grandma Eddy.  As events unfolded I wrestled with how and when to tell the girls, the message similar to the one delivered years ago.

There we were at our temple’s Chanukah fair, where we were the day after Risa passed away.  This year, instead of talking to the rabbi about Risa, the discussion was Risa’s mom.

The irony of the moment was not lost on me.  Somehow, it seemed to make sense to keep things as normal as I could of the girls.  Let them go through their day, be with their friends and celebrate the holidays.  The moments that we remember.

There are 8765 hours in the year.  8765 times 3 plus the circle of life this year.  It’s a moment we’ll share (again), but it’s also a reminder that all in all our lives are not so bad.

Risa and Grandma Eddy are gone, but not forgotten.  We carry their memories each day.  They are part of us 8765 hours a year – hopefully for many years to come.

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Only the Year Ends-Time Marches On

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As the days in 2012 wind down, and thoughts turn to the new year-its not uncommon to sit back and reflect on the 12 months that have preceded today.  Its natural at this time of year to be reflective of the time that has gone by and maybe a little apprehensive of the year ahead.

But in the end, the calendar is another way we simply mark time and meter of moments in which we live.  Within the context of the year there are anniversaries, milestones and events that each carry their own markers on the calendar and mini-calendars within the events.

In talking to 10.0 when she thinks about the year that is ending-she looks back at camp, a trip to Six Flags with her friend, skiing and a day at a nearby archery range.

When I asked 12.5 the same question, she immediately thought about the kids being killed at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.  Then digressed to a camp trip to Six Flags and the days after Super Storm Sandy when we hosted friends and neighbors who were left without power.

In looking ahead to 2013, 10.0 is not sure what to expect.  12.5 is predicting a long battle over gun control (related to Sandy Hook) and her bat mitzvah.

Along with being proud of her awareness of current events, that feels about right.  12.5 has some stuff that she is working on now that will unfold in the year ahead.  10.0 not quite yet.

But the year ahead will mark those moments and more. There will be birthdays, the bat mitzvah, another camp send-off, another year of changes that will adjust too and hopefully another year to grow together (and separately) as a family and as individuals.

So while the girls will be awake at midnight and try to wake me up (it happens every year), the changing of the calendar is just another milestone along the way that we will share.  Happy New Year to all.

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Season’s Change Along With Other Things

As the summer of 2012 came to an end last week and the Jewish year of 5772 ended as well I was struck at the rate at which things change around me-all at the same time.

Some of the change, like the season or year are inevitable.  Four times a year we pass a season, it’s on the calendar.  For Jews in America, twice a year there is a new year (Jewish and secular), for me in April I put another year on the tally.  But this season of change 9.5 turns 10 in less than two weeks and HCG has a birthday coming up as well.

There are things we do mark these milestones.  Temple and family for the Jewish holiday.  Family and friends for the birthday party etc.

For the girls, we are now a month (give or take) into the new school year.  There is a new routine that we layer into the house:  getting out in the morning; coming home; homework; Hebrew school; after school stuff and all the other pieces of being in fifth or seventh grade.  As that gets refined, I squeeze in work and my social life.

But there are also other changes which have coincidentally occurred this season which while not making things unsettled, don’t make them settled.  The other changes of and in themselves are not huge, but as I think through them, they are part of the ever-changing landscape of life.

After an argument about my working out a couple of weeks after my surgery at Planet Fitness, I joined a new gym.  I just did not feel like I was being treated well at Planet Fitness, and since there are alternatives for my 430AM gym time, why should I be where my business is not appreciated?  If you are a gym person,  you know that changing up is never easy.  There is a month or more of getting into a new routine, trying new (or different) equipment and just trying to get the whole routine down.

I’m also now the owner of an iPhone 5.  I was up for an upgrade on my old iPhone.  Even without getting a new number, getting a new phone configured (and I don’t me configured to the network) is a day to days long process.  There is a lot of personalization we do with our phones today that takes time to replicate to a new device.

One thing I’ve learned along the way is change is inevitable.  Some like the change of seasons and the coming of holidays is predictable.  Other changes happen along the way.  Taken together though, it’s all part of life, so we roll with it.

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Not Another Year-Ender

There certainly is no shortage of lists that try to tie 2011 together in a neat bow.  There are lists for almost everything including a list of lists, then there are lists for music, TV shows, web sites, search terms…you name it, there’s a list.  Hell, even I made a list for 2011, so there truly is a list for everything, right?

This blog post though, won’t be another 2011 list.

When I think about 2011 I think about it in different terms.  This year, for the first time in more than 10 years there wasn’t a “what if” cloud hanging over us.  There was no shudder each time the phone rang that this was going to be “the” call.

Instead, for us, 2011 was about stability and finding a rhythm.

Things weren’t perfect, there was a lot of trial and error, but all in all it worked out and 2012 should be even better-because there was a lot we all learned about ourselves in 2011.

When I look back-I can see how quickly the year went by.  January to June was a run up to camp.  Along the way was softball, skiing and a lot of figuring out how to manage through the end of 2010 and the changes we all lived through.

Things slowed down a bit in the summer-as the girls were off at camp, and the break was needed.  We did get some work done in the house and I managed to successfully navigate the world of hardwood flooring choices and paint samples (what an awful process that is for sure).

Once camp was over was a quick roll up to school-which for me meant a trip (or three) to th mall for back to school shopping.

In a rare first for me at least, I managed to get a little ahead with holiday shopping-and I can say it now, at the end of August I bought two pairs of Ugg boots-a huge Chanukkah hit here in the house.  I can say now, I had 8 gifts-ranging from the boots, to cell phones, to Broadway show tickets with two weeks to spare.

During all that time-both girls were doing well in school.  We introduced a full-time sitter in the house to keep the stability….

And collectively we take a break now heading to 2012-and hopefully head into a year of more of the same-because all in all, 2011 didn’t suck.

So there’s no list for the single dad, there’s not Auld Lang Syne playing in the background…instead we tip our hats collectively to the year that was…and we hope that you and your friends and families join us in 2012.

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The Holiday Break: A Look Back and Ahead

So, we made it.  Individually and collectively, we’ve made it to the holiday break.  This means a new year is upon us, which also gives us a chance to look back at the year that was.

It’s a chance to glean a lesson, reflect on what has happened and perhaps more importantly take those lessons and go forward.

At least for us, 2011 was a year of immense transition, so many things occurred, so many people came into our lives and so much has gone on-it’s great to take a moment and take a breath.

It would be folly for me (or any of us of that matter) to try to go through a list and thank everyone for the love, support and help we’ve had over the last 12 months-we would leave too many people out and not do justice.

Instead, I hope everyone will accept from me (and 11.0 and 9.0) our eternal thanks for all you have done to be there for us-and know when we can we try to pay it forward and we are committed to doing just that.

 
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Ever Feel Like You’ve Done This Before?

Sitting here tonight-with the unveiling tomorrow morning I can’t help but think, I’ve done this before. The whole process of trying to keep it together and think two or three steps ahead to keep everything on track.  Managing myself.  Managing the girls.  Managing the expectations.  Managing the moments of anxiety.

And much like there was a year ago-when there was a night to kill, both girls spent time with friends-trying to keep it low-key and informal.

It’s probably not an inherited trait as much as it’s a learned behavior, but much like their dad, my girls are not great at patience and anticipation.  Keeping them distracted helps.  Keeping me distracted helps too…

All of this is going to unfold early tomorrow morning-and frankly that of and in itself has been an issue off and on over the last six weeks.  And I understand why.

But I also know that delaying things will not help any of us have a better day on Sunday or Monday.

So, into what should be a cold Sunday morning we’ll go-similar to the cold Monday morning we went into a year ago.  With a great respect for our friends and family we will do what we have to do and do it with respect and reverence…but we’ll do it on our terms.

Because yes, we’ve done this before and we know what works.

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