Purpose and Meaning to Achieve

It’s a new year! Everyone has their resolutions set and in full swing. I have a few myself. Some of them are the usual for everyone such as eating better, be more active (working out, get back in shape), be more organized, etc.
If I am honest, I really have a huge list. A result of putting off and procrastinating. I hope to implement them throughout the year. A couple of those include reading more (with a purpose and meaning), write more (with a purpose and meaning), and reflect more (with a purpose and meaning).
Of course the key is to do all these things with a purpose and meaning. Without a purpose, what’s the point. Without meaning, it will not ever be personal and therefore easier for me to procrastinate over it. And I have found that if I procrastinate over things, then they will start bogging down all my other daily routines and I will never get going on anything unless I take care of the others first.
The old “don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what can be done today” kind of thing.
Everything rests on this one thing. If I just do what I need and want to do right then, then everything else on the list will get done.
I put that into practice back in the summer when we were moving into a new house. There was a lot of work and even when we moved in, there was still a lot of work. I made everything a priority. It was very important that we moved in when we had planned to move in. And in order for that to happen, I had to prioritize everyday and stick to it. I gave everything a purpose. And because of that, I was able to get things done.
Giving it a purpose makes it a priority.
Don’t just work out to look good. Work out because you are in a battle with age and you need to counter the process. Don’t just eat better to lose weight. Eat better to counter diabetes and other health issues that are caused by unhealthy eating. Looking and feeling better need to be the bonus not the reason.
I know I’ll stick to most of my resolutions this year because they have a purpose and meaning in my life already. Writing this morning with my first (second and third) cup of coffee is a priority and it’s working.
Here’s to a year of opportunity, good surprises, and lots of love…because it’s a priority.
But first…more coffee.

random things

As I sit here past my bedtime, I can’t help but feel satisfied with some of my decisions lately. I resigned from teaching to help my father with his business and things are going pretty good there. Although I miss the classroom dearly, I am making better money and have more time to my family. Can’t ask for much more than that. 

I was really scared about this decision because I would be giving up money that would be in the bank every 20th day of the each month (though not very much money. But I didn’t get into teaching for the money). With my father’s business comes uncertainty. It’s dependent on weather, and a good building economy. Which, besides the afternoon showers and the humidity, has not been too bad. I’ve made pretty good money over the last two months and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down…knock on wood. 

The best part is the time with family. People don’t realize the amount of time teachers put into their work. It’s a 60-70 hour work week minimum. I am not joking. It’s tough tackling the multiple responsibilities of a teacher and then come home and take on the responsibilities of a father with 4 children (and all the kids are in completely different parts in their lives). 

It’s been a tough transition, but one that has been worth it so far. And I know I will eventually be a teacher again. It may be a couple years down the road, but I’ll be back in the classroom. I do love to teach. 

I need a cup of coffee. Or maybe just go to bed so morning will come on and then I can have my cup…   😉

Reflection, Baseball, and Goals

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Ahhhh mid-February. Snow and snow days, love and chocolate, baseball signups and Major League Spring Training! I absolutely love this time of year. Being an English teacher, I am as glued to the weather report as any kid in school hoping to get a small breather from the classroom. As a married man, Valentine’s Day is a chance to rekindle the flame that the long, cold holidays may have blown out. And as a long-time baseball player and fan, it’s time for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training.
This is when I get happy.
Although the ground may be covered in a white blanket of snow, I can smell the fresh cut grass of a well-kept ball field, and feel the warm breeze carrying the dirt that’s been kicked up by a Pete Rose-like head first dive into third base. I can hardly contain the urge to go out and buy a pouch of chewing tobacco. A habit I have only from now through May. And to keep the feeling alive through the bad weather, I have Bull Durham streaming constantly throughout the month. Yes, being a catcher myself, I do wish I could’ve been Crash Davis. He might actually be on my list of all-time greats that I’ve ever watched play the position. I know what you’re thinking: “He never played in the pros?” Well, my answer to you is yes he did. He clearly states that “it was the greatest 21 days of his life.”

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I’m just playing. He obviously is a character in a movie and not the player Johnny Bench was, or Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Roy Campanella. That is not a list of my top five…well at least not in that order…sort of.
For some reason in my excitement of the new season coming, I find myself reflecting. This year more than any other, I feel the need to look closely at who I am, what I have done over the last year and what can I do to better myself as a father, husband, teacher, and overall person. Just like all the teams in the game have a chance to start over every year, I feel I should be able to reset the win/loss column too.
I recently read an excerpt from a book, “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind,” about learning through reflection. Although this is a book on education, it can easily be used in life. It states that, “reflecting on experiences encourages insight and complex learning.” Through reflecting we can apply what we learned from prior experiences to things we have yet to do and possibly avoid making the same mistakes over again. We must “mentally wander through where we have been and to try to make some sense out of it.” Find positives that happened in the past year and build on their enjoyment. Don’t focus on the negatives unless you can learn from them and better yourself. Set goals that can be accomplished quickly and build on those accomplishments to help succeed in longer term goals.
Through my reflecting, I created a list of goals this year for the first time. It’s not because I have nothing to do on my snow days. Believe me, as a teacher I have more than enough. It’s because I know that, though it’s gloomy outside, spring is right around the corner. And not because the yankee groundhog said it was, but because baseball is close. Youth baseball signups are going on all over right now. In another couple weeks they will be practicing and the pros will be playing games, and hot dogs and cracker jacks will be wanted like never before. All the teams will be equal until the first pitch is thrown. Just like through reflecting my record is 0-0, and I am setting my line up and putting my best pitcher on the mound. Who knows, maybe by the all-star break I will have knocked out some non-believers and accomplished some of those goals.

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Weird thoughts

As I was driving in to work this morning, my mind drifted to “The Jetsons.” Don’t ask me why. It just happened. While thinking of that wonderful and often forgotten cartoon from my childhood, I started thinking of why were their cities built above the ground? I don’t ever remember an episode where the ground in which their homes and businesses were built on was shown. Was it not livable? Or is that where they sent prisoners to “Narfel the Garfunk?”(a la Coneheads).
I also couldn’t think of a single a single character with a beard, which is sad. I believe Mr. Spacely had a stache, but that was it.
I don’t know, but this unknown bit of information bothered me this morning. I believe I’ll be looking it up when I get a chance.
In the meantime if you know the answer to my question, feel free to send it my way. Thank you. And as always #beardup!

Whimsical Whiskers and fancy-filled follicles it’s No-Shave November!

Those of you that know me, know that I’ve been growing a beard for a year now. In fact, I’m growing all the hair on my head out longer than ever. It has been a magnificent undertaking. The patience one has to have to grow and maintain a beard is remarkable.

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So to those that are going through it right now for No-shave November or Movember, I know how you feel and my hat’s off to you.

No-shave November is in full swing. And those that are participating are finally beyond the scratch-my-skin off stage and for some they are finally beyond the awkward-looking stage. Either way whimsical whiskers are flowing in full form on men’s faces and women’s legs.

So why are so many foregoing shaving for thirty days again?

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For some reason the real meaning behind No-Shave November gets lost in all the fancy-filled follicles. For those that are unsure, here it is: Cancer Awareness. The goal is to take the money that you would have used for shaving or any other type of grooming your hair away and donate it to support cancer prevention, research, and education. If anybody asks you why you are growing out hair everywhere, you can take that opportunity to discuss cancer awareness and possibly get more people on board.

So if you’re in full beardup mode and want to donate there are plenty of options. However, I suggest going to no-shave.org. This is a non-profit organization started in 2009 by eight children in honor of their father who passed away from colon cancer. There are many cancer organizations to which you can donate at this site including the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The New “New Year”

October 22, 2015

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

― Albert Camus

I love this time of year; the weather and the colors changing all around me; beards are growing in full force; the smell of fresh baked holiday bread. Even coffee smells and tastes better this time of year! Plus, the anticipation of the holidays. Yep…that’s what I said the “anticipation.” Being a father of four, the holidays can be quite stressful; fun, but stressful. Therefore, I enjoy the anticipation of them more than the holidays themselves. By the time they are over, I’m kind of glad they are. I wish, though, that the time leading up to them would slow down. The smells of this season are so warming to the mind and heart. I don’t know if it’s the smells themselves or if it is just knowing what these smells bring: the holidays.

“Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”

― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I also believe that October is the beginning of the new year; the time to shed all that unnecessary baggage. This, to me, is the best time to change things in your life. Shake all those dead leaves off and move toward the things you desire most. It’s not too cold outside to start exercising. This, after all, is what most people want in the new year. Honestly, the weather (at least here in Tennessee) is perfect for you to begin any kind of home workout. If it’s an indoor workout, open the windows and let the cool morning or evening breeze blow through the house while you sweat. Then step outside for that nice refreshing autumn air to fill your lungs.

This is the best time to start a budget.

Excuse me…did I say budget?

Well, yes I did. And I mean it too. This is the best time. If you struggle with money around Christmas, how about starting a budget 2 months in advance to help you focus on what you are spending. That way when “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” rolls around, you can be prepared. It will help you be more vigilant over your bank account. If your bank account is looking good, then you’ll be looking and feeling good no matter how many times you went back for seconds at all those Christmas dinners. With the extra money you can make sure to buy more of those much needed beard care products. And you’ll probably not need all those resolutions because you’ve accomplished everything already. So take all that extra money and have a great new year. Or at least on hell of a New Year’s Eve!!!

Please leave a comment below or if for some reason you have a question, feel free to ask!

Get out and enjoy the fall! And don’t forget to #beardup!

Beards and Coffee!

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Coffee keeps you warm even in an icestorm!

Today, while I was having my morning cup (pot) of coffee, I realized something. A sort of epiphany! (It’s more of a random thought, but epiphany sounds better)

Beards are warm and inviting, yet very manly.

Coffee is warm and inviting, yet very manly. <— that is if you drink it black because any other way makes it sweet and weak and less manly.

Thus Beards and Black Coffee compliment one another very well.

Yea…I smiled after the thought.

The reason for this out of no where epiphany is that I’ve been growing a beard now for about 2 months. I love it. I have a greater sense of confidence with it. I like grooming it too. I love how it feels and smells when I’m grooming it. It may seem weird to some and I’m betting that those who think it weird, do not have a beard. I’m sad for you if you’re a guy and that’s the case. My advice to you is to be a man and grow one then judge. However, if you did decide to grow one, I’m sure you’d get the same feelings for it that all of us have that sport one.

What things do you think compliment one another?

Have a great rest of the day and may your next cup of coffee be eye-opening!

Thirsty-Quote Thursday

“A person cannot truly improve, if he does not help others to improve.”
-Charles Dickens

I love this guy!!! Sadly, I did not allow myself to be introduced to him until later in life. I was the kind of person that felt reading and studying took up way too much of my “valuable” time. In junior high and high school, heck even my first two attempts at college, I was a terrible student. I tried to live in the present as much as possible. I’m not saying that living in the present is a bad thing, but only living in the present with no direction for the future is destructive.
It took me getting married and having 3 kids with one on the way to get my direction. I guess I was forced…by choice. <—Yep, that’s possible. I chose the family life with all its responsibilities, thus forcing myself to find a direction.

Sorry. I didn’t mean for this to be about my past. However, it does connect…listen, or watch, wait…just read on.
I believe that raising and helping my children grow their talents allowed me to improve as a student. A student in school, a student in parenting, a student in husbandry—Didn’t realize that was an actual term, but not the one I needed—being a husband(best I could come up with), and a student in Life. There, connected!!
This brings me to good Ol’ Charlie.
I believe the word “improve” in Dickens’ quote is a combination of two definitions (which I pulled from Dictionary.com). The obvious one: “to make or become better; to make something better in quality or condition, or become better.” This to me is what everyone sees on the surface when reading the quote. And it is what I think the quote truly means.
However, I don’t think that’s where it stops. With all great quotes, there is always something deeper. Though this ain’t much deeper, you do have to ponder a bit. I think the words also mean to “use something well; to make good use of something.”
This interpretation rings way more truer to me than the previous one. The meaining (to me): If I am constantly striving to improve something then I will ultimately see improvements in my improving.
Wait…What?????
I know, I know. Hang in there. Let me explain.
It’s like reading and writing. The more practice you put into it, the better you become at those skills. Plus, the better your brain becomes at processing those skills more efficiently. The same can be said for “improving.” The more I help to improve my children’s attitudes, talents, grammar, habits, and life, the more I will see improvements in those areas. Plus, the better my improving skills become, thus making me more efficient in helping my children improve. It’s cyclical!!
Dickens was definitely a great student of Life. From what I know of him, his writings, and his life (which is not enough), he was an excellent educationalist. He improved himself by candidly showing others how to improve no matter what their surroundings. Therefore, he continued to get better at improving.
I know. You’re probably thinking that I have way overanalyzed this quote, but through that analysis I have gained so much. I guess you could say I have improved.
Or it could just be the coffee! 😉

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this quote and/or my brief analysis, or any other quote.

Have a great day and may your next cup of coffee (or tea) be eye-opening!

Focus!! On Life and More

My wife and I have been lazy for the last few years. Actually, for the last decade, but the last few years have seen a dramatic change in our confidence and attitudes. It’s starting to bleed into everything we do…or can’t do. We recently decided to commit to a workout program: Shawn T’s T25. Now I am not trying to sell anyone anything here. I am just reflecting on the past few weeks and how it has changed my outlook on everything.

We decided to choose T25 because our lives are busy right now. At least busy for us. We have 4 children from the ages of 13 to 3. The older two are very involved in their hobbies, which sometimes splits the family all day. Our jobs are full time and sometimes more. My wife works at a hospital and I am a teacher, and even though our jobs have quitting times, we don’t always get to quit during those times. Therefore, we needed something that was quick, yet intense enough to shed the unwanted weight. And we would like that weight to come off fairly quick–summer vacation is around the corner.

I am not going to give you the run down of the entire workout routine, but it is only 25 minutes and very intense. So it met the two biggest needs. To date (we are four weeks in) we have lost 8lbs. each. But the biggest thing is how we feel–rejuvinated and energized. Most of all FOCUSED!!

Now that we are routinely working out and eating better, I am starting to focus on other problem areas of our lives. The first challenge: Money!

Have a great day and may your next cup of coffee (or tea) be eye-opening!

 

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Snow Days

It has snowed overnight here in Middle Tennessee and a lot of schools are out on a snow day. I remember looking forward to those snow days when I was in school. The excitement and tension building up until I saw the name of my county scrolling across the bottom of the screen. And after going back to bed for another hour or so, I remember getting dressed as warm as possible and heading out to the wonderland that would more than likely only last a few hours or at the most one day. I get to watch my kids nowadays act the same way. It’s still exciting, only for a different reason.

I start teaching in January and can’t be more excited. So this morning watching the news instead of being overjoyed, I started thinking of how lesson plans were going to back up and what might need to be trimmed from other lessons in order to get back on track. I can’t help but think it must be bitter sweet to most teachers. Especially those new teachers that do not have the experience behind them in dealing with snow days. They are probably happy for the first few hours and then the realization of having to adjust plans adds a little stress to that relaxing morning.

To all those teachers out there on a snow day today, enjoy it! Kick back for a few hours and take your mind away from the classroom and put it on more important and more neglected things in your life. Enjoy your day off!