Daddy Day #1

Today was one of the first days I got to spend alone at home with my son. It started off pretty chill...Gave him a bath, took a shower, cooked breakfast, ate, fed him, put him to sleep, threw a load of laundry in, and then made a list of things to do with the rest of my day :)

One of the tasks on said list was to drive 30 min out of the city to pick up an additional carseat for our other vehicle. I hadn't brought him out by myself yet, and I was anxious to see how that went. 

We set out on our adventure together and went all the way out to Maple Grove. We picked up the carseat, stopped for lunch, and all without any crises or crying. Having him with on the trip added another element to it. Definitely added some excitement. Also, more responsibility. I felt like a parent. I felt empowered. Naturally, I felt the same sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with doing something new for the first time. 

It felt like the next level of manhood. It felt freeing. Empowering. I don't really feel the fear or worries that I had previously felt about my freedom and production being severely limited anytime I had the baby. 

But what's great about being a parent is not JUST having this new human being - a mini-being - in my care and responsibility...but also the realization that I can do all of the above, and still make time to 'do me.' I've still been able to be productive & creative while also caring for my son!

This has given me more confidence that I AM capable. I've been working out more, read more, I'm closer with the wifey, more organized, more productive...on LESS SLEEP! The career is going well, and I'm consistently growing and learning new things. This IS Parent Life! And I love it! My fear of being miserable and held back by parenthood has been faced and realized...and conquered. 


Victim or Victor?

"A winner never quits. And a quitter never wins."

I don't know who originally spoke these words, but I've heard them repeated and recited many times throughout the years. Nine words that have had such a true and lasting impact on my life. 

It reminds me of another quote from Og Mandino's 'Greatest Salesman in the World' in which he contrasts success and failure: "for what is success other than a state of mind? Which two, among a thousand wise men, will define success in the same words; yet failure is always described but one way. Failure is man's inability to reach his goals in life, whatever they may be."

Quitting = Failure

On of my biggest fears (like most people) is failure...Yup, the big F-word. To me, this word (or concept) is more offensive, scary and overall more damaging thatn the "other f-word". We live our lives - I have lived my life - in and out of this fear of failure. The times that I have stood up and confronted it head on, I have been rewarded with a positive result and/or knowing that I had the courage to try, regardless of the result. 

However, when I have sunk back into my seat, and let opportunities, relationships, or experiences pass me by due to fear of failure, rejection, embarrassment, etc., I have had to bare the weight of regret, disappointment, self-pity, poor self-esteem, and ultimately the knowledge that I could be doing much more, but I'm too lazy and a coward to make it happen. 

Laziness and cowardice. Two things that have held me back for far too long, and from far too many things. As I look back at where I've been and how I got to where I'm at now, I realize/am reminded that all the blessings I enjoy in my life are a result of the times that I have looked fear in the face, and moved forward. I felt the fear and did it anyways. 

Take my career for example. Currently, I am living out my dream of building a social enterprise that combines our social mission with successful business models used in the free market. We are a youth-based creative agency that uses Art & Design to activate change in people, places, and profits: Juxtaposition Arts.

Before I even knew about this organization, I already had in mind that I wanted to build a company that combined experiential education (learning by doing), artistic expression, and community development in a self-sustaining way that wasn't dependent on grants and government handouts. Now I'm working at the one organization in the Twin Cities that is successfully doing all of the above, and more. And my role at JXTA is to get more and more people/organizations engaged and involved in what we're doing as an organization. 

This is not a coincidence. How did this come about? Did I 'attract' this into my life? Manifest? "God works in mysterious ways." The Universe is always conspiring for us when we know what we want. Well...I don't completely know for sure.

But one thing I do know for sure is that if I would have let my fears control my decisions leading up to working with JXTA, I would NOT be experiencing the freedom and joy of getting paid to do what I love, what I'm good at, and adds value to the world. 

I can't really give credit to my heroic courage, or unyielding faith either. I was scared. It was scary walking into my former Executive Director's office and tell him that I was leaving to take my dream job. I had to look him in the eye, only months after he invested in bringing me on full-time and only days before my colleague went on maternity leave (and I was the one to take the reigns in her absence). 

I knew they were counting on me. I knew it would be a huge disappointment to them. They had invested in me, and the move I was making to pursue my dream probably made me look like a selfish ass hole. Plus, this particular ED was known to have a temper. He had taken me under his wing, and was grooming me to be a real-estate developer. He'd invite me once or twice a week to play basketball with a bunch of guys in the middle of the day over the lunch hour. I looked up to this man, and valued the camaraderie and connection we shared. I knew that I would be letting him down. 

And I did. I let him down. I let that organization down. And quite possibly came off as a selfish ass hole in their eyes (maybe...who knows). But at the end of it all, was it worth it? 

No question. 

And I think the results I am enjoying are all thanks to facing the many fears that came with leaving to start a new career i a new position that I had no formal experience in.

So returning to the question: How did this come about? How did I attract this dream job into my life?

I believe the answer is simple: FAITH. Faith in the greater entity outside of myself and my knowledge, my understanding, and my vision for the future. But also faith in myself. Based on the belief that the same Creator that is outside of myself (and time, and the Universe) is also within me. I am a reflection of the Creator. I had to believe in myself to make the right decisions, and be able to grow with the results. 

So what allows a winner to never quit? Despite fear, the unknown, the sacrifice, the grind...what sets a winner apart from the losers...those who have given up...quit on their hopes and dreams. 

For me, the answer is simple: Faith. 

Peacefully Pursuing Perfection

Lately I’ve been counting my blessings. A lot. I’m starting to wonder how healthy this is. For instance, I keep saying, “I really have a cool life”….”I live a successful life”….”I can’t really think of any legitimate thing to complain about.”

I am starting to worry that my head is too far up in the clouds. Not to say that I should complain or look for reasons to be negative…I just don’t want to get too comfortable.

I want to maintain this peace of mind and positive attitude, but not become stagnant. I want to continually pursue my true purpose and path in ALL aspects of my life. I want to get better at LIFE…across the board. From finances, to friends, to family I want to continually pursue perfection in all I do. Not to say I need to be a perfect cook, or piano player. I just always want to strive towards perfection – AKA becoming better, wiser, richer, enjoying life more.

We all want this…however, most of us in our quest for happiness, freedom, and peace actually find that we feel more of the opposite – stress, anxiety, depression, road rage, etc.

Peacefully pursue perfection.

Peacefully pursue perfection…How does that actually look? To peacefully pursue perfection, one must first have a framework for how to identify or define ‘perfection’ and ‘peacefully’.

Merriam-Webster defines perfection as: “a quality or condition that cannot be improved; being without faults, mistakes or defects.”

Perfection (to me) is the True nature of something, fully realized and fully utilized. That is, anything that is completely, 100% of the time fulfilling it’s designed purpose.

For example, to be a perfect NBA shooting guard, one would have to make every single shot he put up. The purpose of the shooting guard is to score points and to stop the opposing guard from scoring. If he does this successfully, he is compared with Jordan, Melo, Kobe, Lebron, Curry (Yes, Kobe & Jordan are the only 2 guards but you get my point). Yet none of those great and successful players are a perfect SG according to the above definition of perfection.

However, I’m sure each one of them can testify that to even come close to being that great/successful, they needed to devote their lives to the pursuit of that perfection. It’s the basic formula for achievement.

Peace is a bit harder to put into this context…reason being, most times, we associate peacefulness with passivity or docile-ness. Being static. Lack of movement or progression. It is viewed more of a destination rather than a means of best transport.

The textbook definition for peace (Merriam-Webster) is as follows: “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; Calm; Untroubled by conflict, agitation, or commotion.”

(To me) Peace is a way of life. It’s a means to an end…namely perfection. Fulfillment of purpose. One who is at peace is infinitely richer and more successful than the billionaire at war with himself…anxious, fearful, doubting, negative expectations, etc.

Therefore, counting my blessings, appreciating life, and maintaining a positive attitude is nothing to feel bad about. Obviously, it’s something to feel good about. In fact, appreciating life, acknowledging your blessings, living with purpose are the byproducts of being at peace.

To peacefully pursue is to move forward with confidence. To believe. To believe that perfection is a worthy pursuit. A worthy ideal. Peace is knowledge of Truth. The closer we become to the Truth (perfection, enlightenment, transcendence, Buddha-ness), the easier it will be for us to be at peace. If we are consistently pursuing perfection (aka Truth, aka success, aka our designed purpose), then we can be confident that peace will accompany on our path. Be at peace but do not rest. Appreciate life, but make life better.

How can I make life better today?