Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Nice Ceiling You've Got There. Be a Shame if Something Happened to It

 We kept our daughters out of school today.  My wife and I value education, but today is a rare day where there is nothing to be taught in the classroom that would outweigh what they could learn at home. 

This morning, my wife put on a shirt bearing the Kamala Harris quote “I’m Speaking” and gathered her daughters on the couch.  She had intermittent tears as Amy Klobuchar spoke about the grit of the country and as Lady Gaga sang the national anthem. 

This is not to be political, but I need to rewind four years to get the impact of what she is feeling.  Four years ago, my wife had been sure that a glass ceiling was going to be smashed and the first woman would hold the office of President of the United States.  When Hillary Clinton lost, Adrienne was devastated. 

Sure, she was upset about who had won.  But more specifically, she was upset about what the loss said about our country.  She was crushed that a woman, regardless of how qualified she may be, could not get the support to hold the country’s highest office.  She thought less of her country because she felt she was worth less in it.  It was a sentiment shared by my sister, my mother and I’m sure millions of women around the country.

Fast forward to today.  My wife, sitting in her “I’m Speaking” shirt, hugging her little girls and a little champagne celebrating something long overdue.  She watched as Kamala Harris took her oath of office and was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States.  A woman who represents a shattering of a ceiling for my wife and kids, but that isn’t the only ceiling she left broken.  Women of color, Asian American people have reason to sit with their children and their champagne. 

Twelve years ago, a ceiling was broken, and a large swath of people got to feel like they finally had a seat at the big table, but half of our country had never had that feeling.  Today marks a day where we can be more honest with our daughters and say, “you can be anything you want to be” without the asterix that we used to have to apply to it. 

In our house, today is the best day we’ve had in a while.  Of course, there have been great days.  The girls got a trampoline for Christmas for God’s sake, but today speaks to more about front flips.  Today is the first day in this country’s two-hundred-year history that the fairer sex officially has a seat at the table.

So, the lesson here my young ladies, is a big one.  You can do anything you want to in life.  Full stop.  There are cracks in each of your ceilings that weren’t there yesterday.  It warms me to know that my mother, my sister, my aunt, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and my niece got to see this.  It warms me that my wife and daughters can walk a little taller today.  It warms me to see that my country was able to give these things to my family. 

Enjoy your time on the couch today, girls, and pamper your Mommy a little.  But tomorrow is a new day.  You have no excuse for not being president in a few years.  You have a lot of work to do.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Judging By the Scale, I Ate A Wildebeest In 2020

 Every year I post my New Year’s resolutions to my blog site.  I am one of the few people I know that sees January one as a means of hitting a hard reset on myself and generally do pretty well about accomplishing the goals I set for the new year. 

Most years are not 2020.

I have had a lot of successes over the years.  I’ve replotted my career, run marathons and one year I lost 20% of my body weight. 

But none of those years were 2020.

Last year’s resolutions were easy enough to remember.  I had a race I was going to run, I had weight I wanted to lose, I had career goals I wanted to hit and I had a book that I had done the research for that I wanted to write.  I trained for the race for six months, but along came COVID.  Weight? COVID. Career? COVID.  Book?  Oh, I’d love to blame COVID for that one. 

I should have known if I was going to pull a hamstring, it was going to be playing adult kickball in 2020.  I should have known if I were going to train for an out-of-state race in 2020 that it would get cancelled while I was packing for it.  Didn’t get to miss a single training run.  Go to hell, 2020.

So, generally speaking, I spend the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve going over my results and plotting next year.  Lose weight?  I was ready to run a tough race in March, now I sweat when I use the steps.  Fail.  Run a race?  I can’t run to the mailbox.  Fail.  The book?  Ugh. 

It felt like the disappointment I was feeling was one last kick to the undercarriage from 2020. 

Frustration led me to skip writing my New Year’s post. Then this week I had an unfortunate epiphany.  Why would I only post my year end post when it’s positive.  I began to write the post and it felt okay.  A couple of nights ago I went to bed with finishing it and posting in the morning butt lo an behold, I woke up to a computer that decided that I shouldn’t post it.  My writing was no where to be found.  I see what you’re doing 2020.  Nicely played. 

It wasn’t until last night that I decided that I should post something.  I guess, here it is.  My resolutions are ~drum roll~ the same as last year (insert disappointing wa-wah sound).  Twenty pounds, a ton of miles and a book that needs written. 

Here’s the thing, girlies.  You can look at failure a few different ways.  It can beat you into submission or you can stand up against it and try to rectify.  Not writing a post this year, at least to me, was akin to not setting resolutions.  Seemed like a great idea, too!  But that wouldn’t make good messaging to you little pumpkins, so I suppose I should stick with the alternative. 

Another thing, little ladies, is about giving yourself a break.  2020 was a weird year.  It kept offering things that were difficult to get around.  I failed on a bunch of things.  You can beat yourself up about it or forgive yourself.  The trick is, to forgive yourself but allow a little space for constructive criticism.  Yeah, I put on some weight.  A medium sized dog’s worth.  But I can drop it, too.  I didn’t run as much as I would have liked, but I can sign up for a race and get trotting. 

I also didn’t write as much as I should have, and that I have to come to grips with.  That one falls square on me and I have to fix it. 

One final note, I’ve loved spending the year with you guys and mommy.  It’s made 2020 a whole lot more bearable.  That being said, I want to expand on it and start to try to harden some bonds with some more extended family.  Looking at you, Philadelphia.  Like so many other things, you can beat yourself up or fix it.  I’ll take fix it, at least 70% of the time!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

What a Difference a Year Makes

2020 has been a dumpster fire for most if us.  For myself, I did a year of research for a book in 2019 that I have only written about half of in 2020.  I’ve gone from a runner whose weight was going in the right direction to a guy who lacks the social queues to remind him to shower and shave. 

For me, what a difference a year makes, around my waistline specifically.

But this isn’t about my fattitude.

It’s about my wife’s attitude.

Spoiler Alert: if you are of the mind that your Elf on the Shelf departs every evening to the North Pole to inform the man in red about your behavior, you may want to skip forward a paragraph or two. I’ll begin again in 3….2….1….

 So last night, my wife and I were doing our evening duty of finding a new vantage point for Jingles, our elf to watch our children. I was distracted, probably be a sandwich judging by my 2020 track record, so Adrienne wound up taking care of it herself. 

I was on the couch when I heard giggling from upstairs.  It was Adrienne, pleased with the predicament she had put Jingles in.  It seems Jingles had been captured by a host of other Christmas toys and was now taped to the inside of a glass panel in a cabinet. 

It was funny, but that’s not what this is about either. 

It was her effortless laugh.  You see, for the last couple of year’s Adrienne has had a tough go.  She had committed herself to a career that was perfectly stressful and completely thankless.  Her health suffered.  Her relationships suffered.  Her self-worth suffered.  She was unhappy but like so many people she equated who she was with what she did for a living.  She was unhappy, for lack of a better term.  A few months ago she left the position unceremoniously.  She added scared to the rest of the things she was feeling.

But then something funny happened.  She didn’t miss it.  Sure, there was the sense of impending doom that comes along with losing a job during a pandemic and there were regrets of friendships that were lost.  There were no tears, no real anger and no laments.

Once the immediate pant-soiling fear of unemployed in a pandemic subsided, what was left was someone who realized what she was sacrificing to keep up with a job that had little interest in her succeeding herself. 

Fast forward to December.  Last year, I took care of the holidays pretty much by myself.  Christmas was just another day to Adrienne.  Something to endure.  Phone calls from coworkers that seldom realized boundaries asking for help despite the fact that it was Christmas Eve.  She smiled, sure, but it was forced and transparent. 

This year, I live with a wife that couldn’t wait to cook Thanksgiving dinner, do some Christmas shopping, wrap gifts or even tape an Elf in a shelf.  What a difference a year makes.

The lesson here, girls?  Well, it’s an easier one to say than to live by.  A job is just a job but your health and your family are forever.  All of you noticed a change in mommy over those last few months.  Mommy listening to Christmas music and running and eating better.  Mommy and I always promise ourselves that if our work starts getting in the way of our family we would need to reevaluate.  I think this is the best example we’ve had. 

You need to keep in mind what you are doing and what you are trading to do it.  Sometimes the tradeoff is worthwhile, like giving up your evenings to soccer practice, and sometimes its not, like giving up family time to watch YouTube.  Make a decision to do what betters you and don’t punish yourself if it takes a while to make the decision. 

Now, I’m going to make the decision to go downstairs and spend time with my family instead it ticking away at this keyboard.