Inspired…again.

Several years have passed since I watched “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch on YouTube.  I’m not afraid to say that watching and listening to what this man had to say as he faced a prediction of 6 more months of living brought me to tears.  It also made me take notes.  Notes that I tried to re-read every so often.  Notes that I re-read less as time passed. 

Cindy just finished reading his book “The Last Lecture” and once finished she said it was a better version of the 1 hour and 15 minute compilation of videos we saw on YouTube years back.  So I read it too.  It is a version that shares more stories, more experiences and most of all more reminders of just how great life is and especially life with kids.  He reminds you of how caught up we can all get in the every day.  He reminds you of great lessons he has learned and most amazingly he does this while keeping an amazingly positive outlook even with death staring him in the face.  Courage, bravery and a conscious choice he makes.  The best reminder of all is that this is a choice we make.  I could remember this more.  Some other great reminders that I enjoyed from the book are:

  • At minimum, if you do nothing else as a parent, make sure your kids know you love them.
  • Self-esteem is not something you can just give to your children.  It is built.  Give them something they can’t do.  Allow them to work hard to do it until they learn that they can do it (sometimes with a little help).  Repeat often.
  • Don’t lead kids in the decision on what they should be when they grow up.  Encourage them to get there on their own and decide what THEY want to be.  Support them in each decision.
  • Experience is what you get when things don’t go as planned.  Not sure this is his quote or one he liked but it is a great one!
  • Be a Communitarian – pass on responsibility to people who will serve as role models and learn as they serve.  He uses a great example of his dad hiring older little league players to be umpires in the younger little league divisions.  The younger kids look up to the umpires as role models, the older kid umpires were chosen as an elite honor (and a bonus was none of the parents in the stands yelled at the umpires).
  • “Be the first penguin.”  Take failure as a good thing – it teaches.  It also teaches courage to try which is where many of the best ideas come from.  He awarded kids in the class who failed spectacularly at achieving  an outcome (but put in a great effort) with the “First Penguin Award.”  The first penguin is the one who jumps into the sea at risk of a predator gobbling him/her up.   Plus it sounded better than the “Best Failure Award.”
  • “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”  Again – not sure where this quote comes from (him or someone else) but a great one nonetheless.
  • If he could give kids only 3 words of advice they would be:  “Tell the truth.”  If he got another 3 words on top of that they would be:  “All the time.”

There are so many other gems in this quick read and little sadness about what is ultimately a sad topic.  It would be hard to read this book and not embrace life a bit harder when you are done.  I know I am!

Christmas 2010 – So Nice!

It flew by!  It was fun! We didn’t travel – like I hardly left our street in a car!  We had lots of great food!  The kids were lost in a myriad of toys!  Tons of family!  And…wait for it…it SNOWED!  What a great Christmas season we had.  After hitting the break-even point for our fake tree experiment, and finally selling the fake tree after 3 unsuccessful yard sales attempts, we purchased a real tree!  The smell was worth the small hassle (dang needles!) and general fire hazard that comes with an actual tree.  All of our immediate family came to visit and outside of getting shut out on Christmas Eve for the Christmas Mass it was just about a perfect few days.  The traditional Christmas Day puzzle was unveiled and took 5 adults 3 days and 4 hours to wrestle to completion.  We had at least 5 consecutive meals with homemade desserts!

It was a special holiday season for us and we hope you enjoy the videos and slideshow (believe it or not I narrowed it down to only the top 1/3 of our pictures – sorry).

Click here to see a slideshow of our Christmas.

Click here to see all of our pictures via Flickr.

 

In 2011, I Resolve…

It’s that time of year again.  The time where I annoy my family with endless chatter about resolutions.  I know it is cliche but I enjoy the reset that a New Year allows.  It gives me an excuse to set a few goals, look back at past goals and accomplishments, regain focus and continue on the path of personal improvement and well-being.  Sounds a lot like I need to be saying “owoooommms” at the end of each of these sentences…my apologies to those of you who may be throwing up a bit in your mouths as you read this.  You know who you are (rhymes with ‘bendy’ and shares my address).

Speaking of my best friend, we have found some common ground on the topic of New Year thinking with the setting a defining theme for the year.  In year’s past we have had themes like “the year of reconnecting with old friends” and “the year of the electronics” (this was an especially important theme when we realized we could no longer see the 13″ TV in our bedroom from nearly any distance).  We are still “trying this year’s theme on” a bit but are thinking it will be “THE YEAR OF LESS IS MORE” (best when said in a deep booming voice with trailing echos)”  Very zen-like.  I can’t quite quantify what exactly this means yet but I liked the sound of it during our discovery phase last week.  My only reservation is that nearly everything fits into this theme.  For instance: “today I have decided not to bathe after my run.  I have mud and possibly horse poo caked on the side of my leg from a trail run.  This may impact our date tonight but in the spirit of our new theme I think you will understand.”  The application here is pure but not sure it is getting to the true goal of improvement.  Still, in the general sense and so long as it is executed properly, this theme has a good shot at sticking.  It should be noted that the “year of surviving with one less car” and the “year of eating more beans” were both quickly shot down.

Without further ado, in 2011 I resolve to:

2011 RESOLUTIONS

Marriage:

  • Plan 1 date night per month – this used to be about getting the sitter but in 2011 this means planning the events of the date.
  • More active listening; less one-way talking.
  • Fall asleep on the couch less.  Go to bed instead.
  • Smile at and laugh with Cindy daily.

Fatherhood:

  • Be at home eating at the table for 2 weekday dinners (must make this a priority).
  • Re-establish weekly family activity night – don’t limit to only games but also hikes, bike rides, movies, etc…
  • Golf with the kids 1x per month (Mar-Sept).
  • 1×1 time with each kid outside of the home monthly – the kids build the plan.
  • More laughter and less lecturing with my kids (2009/2010 repeat – still working on it).

Health and Fitness:

  • Yoga 2x per week (get back on the wagon here).
  • Push-ups 3x per week building up to 5 sets of 30 (currently 2x at 5 sets of 24).
  • Ab exercises 15 min once a week (“you love it but you hate it”).
  • Continue no-meat diet (fish/shrimp are ok).
  • Run with Purpose – donate $2 (pre-corporate match) per mile every mile run in 2011; target 1300 miles.
  • Run sub 1:30 half marathon (either standalone or in a full)
  • Run sub-30 hour BRR with 6-man team (run sub-8 min pace for my 6 legs).
  • Register for the 2012 Boston Marathon!

Personal Well-being:

  • Continue to rise everyday at 5 am.
  • Read 18 books (up from 15 read in 2010) and continue to document via blog.
  • Work: be more confident, less fearful and have more fun.
  • Pursue “presentness” to help better engage with all people in my life (taking all tips/advice here).
  • Write for fun more (via blog) – target 2 entries per week or roughly 100 per year.
  • Visit more museums with the kids – target 6 in 2011.
  • Attend 4 concerts – I always love seeing live music and therefore I should do this more.
  • Exceed 2010 charitable giving levels.
  • Call my parents at least weekly – I always enjoy hearing from them.

I reserve the right to edit these through mid-January… Happy New Year!