Saturday, October 30, 2010

Symphony of Life!

Today's post is a simple thought that each of us is an instrument in the symphony of life. We each have a part to play. Just like in a symphony, no instrument is useless, so it is in our lives. We all have gifts and talents that can allow us to do great things.

As fathers, we should try to develop our talents so that we can be the very best for our families and for ourselves. And we should do our best to ensure that our children learn of the part they have to play in this symphony.

The following poem, Symphony of Life, from my book, Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self Motivation, illustrates this very real point.

Symphony of Life

Up early another morning
to see the sunrise. The dew rests gently
on the grass after another night. The whisper
of the morning breeze blows sweetly through
the trees. The sparrow flies to greet the day,
like he always does, and
I stroll down by the ocean just to hear
the sound of the waves sailing to the shore.
This makes life worth living.
All creation joins in this daily symphony;
every instrument plays its part.
I must find my role in this;
today is a good day to start.

I trust that you learn of  the role you have to play. And when you do, play your part and play it well!

The Upbeat Dad

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Night is Date Night!

The weekend is upon us again! Time to let our hair down  – well, most of us anyway. I trust that you’ve had a productive week of work and that you’re ready to make some time for downtime.
Something my wife and I have implemented in our household has really revolutionized our family life. Friday night is our weekly family date night. Much like when many of us were teenagers and just started dating, we looked forward with great anticipation to dates on Friday evenings. In my household growing up, we had school 5 days a week and we had to be in church on Sunday mornings, so the only day of the week that we could wake up at our leisure was Saturday.  On Friday night we could stay up as long as we wanted because we know that there was no huge agenda for the next morning.
Now as an adult who’s taking care of a family, Friday nights for me are precious. And I love to spend them with the people who mean the most to me – my wife and children. We try to be creative. Sometimes we go to a movie. Other times we go to the beach and play in the sand. And we try out different restaurants around town. Or we just stay in at home and enjoy each other’s company with movies and popcorn or playing board games. There’s no price tag I can put on these times  - they’re simply priceless.
One thing that my wife and children really appreciate is that I silence my cell phone during family night. I turn off the ringer and don’t even look at it.  No phone calls, no text messages, no instant messages, no emails, no Tweets, no Facebook messages. Nothing at all – this time is sacred. My 12 year old daughter, in particular appreciates this because she knows how involved I get with work and my various projects throughout each week that I do not get to just totally cut off the outside world and pay attention to her.
How about you? What time do you set aside for family time? Whether or not you’re married, if you’re a dad, do understand the importance of time with your kids. To them, it’s beyond valuable. Perhaps Friday nights may not work for you. When I was growing up, our family time was Sunday afternoons. Our dad would take the entire family for a couple hours drive to no place in particular. My mom and siblings really looked forward to that special time. And today, over 30 years later, the bonding that we had during those times still has a lasting impact on us.
I encourage you to set dates with your kids. Shower them with praises. Listen to them tell how things went at school during the week. Learn of the things that mean the most to them and let them know you care. The more important they feel with you at home, the less inclined they will be to go outside seeking affirmation from others.
If you haven’t tried this dating thing before, give it a try - you’ll love it. And your family will love you even more. Won’t you surprise them and start this weekend!

Enjoy the weekend! Oh, and of course, enjoy your date!
The Upbeat Dad

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Your Health Matters

When I was much younger, my siblings and I played all the major sports, depending on the season. During football season, we played football; baseball season, baseball; basketball season, basketball and so on. It's amazing how athletic we were - not professionals, just kids having fun.
Today, I watch all the major sports. But I play only tennis. It's just my sport of choice. I'll play it day and night. I try to play it at least 2 or 3 times a week. I might not cause Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to shake in their tennis shoes just yet but I think I'm pretty good.
So how did I get to this point? A few years ago I went to the doctor for my annual check up. After doing the initial checks, she asked me about my diet and exercise. Never before was I asked those questions during a check up.
She noted that my health was starting to show the effects of me not taking care of my body as I ought. There was nothing catastrophic but years of lack of exercise and proper dieting was catching up to me. So she prescribed regular exercise - at least 20 minutes of aerobic activities 3 days a week.
You see, as a child I played sports 7 days a week. As an adult, I got so caught up into my career and trying to reach life goals that I neglected my health. Fortunately, the alarm sounded in time for me and I've heeded the warning.
Part of the process of becoming an "upbeat dad" is that we take care of our bodies so we can take care of our kids. I know I want to be healthy and strong to see my children grow up and get married and build families of their own.
Currently, the life expectancy of a male in the United States is 72. The number one killer of men is heart disease. Medical professionals tell us that a life with proper diet and exercise minimizes the likelihood of getting this disease.
Many men hardly reach their life expectancy because of chasing of the almighty dollar while ignoring the "more mighty" health. Why seek millions and billions and not be able to enjoy life?
Certainly, there must be room for achieving financial success so we can provide for our families and give them the security they deserve. But there must be balance. If we neglect our health, our families might end up enjoying our success without us. If that happens when we could have avoided it by doing the simple things like eating right and exercising, then that would be tragic.
So gentlemen, pick a sport - any sport - and commit to exercising at least 3 times a week. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. See your doctor as frequently as needed. By doing this you'll put yourself in a better position to be around to see your kids start families of their own. That's something to live for!

Eat right. Exercise. And of course, be upbeat for your kids!
The Upbeat Dad

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Starting Over

This post is an encouragement to anyone who has seen the dream of a perfect family become a nightmare through the process of divorce. I’ve been there and I know that starting back at square one is not the easiest thing. It’s an emotionally draining experience that can really be likened to death because in a sense, the union between a couple created another “being” – with the components of both individuals. And when that ends, it can be tragic. It can be even more difficult when children are involved.

As I’ve shared previously, I went through a divorce in the early 2000s so I can relate to those who find themselves dealing with this plight. I can only say that things can and will get better. There’s a proverb that says, “Where there is life, there is hope.” Another one says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Be encouraged because if you keep striving, sooner or later you’ll bounce back like the champion that you are.

I’ll close with the poem Starting Over from my book Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self Motivation. I trust that it will inspire you. It’s written from the perspective of a man but really it could relate to a woman just the same. If it doesn’t relate to you at this point in your life, won’t you share it with someone who needs it. There’s healing in it for hurting hearts.

Starting Over

Starting back at square one
isn’t an easy thing to do.

He had everything—
his career,
his possessions,
the family of his dreams.

Then it seemed like,
all at once,
he lost it all.
The walls came crashing down around him.
But deep down, on the inside,
his heart never missed a beat.

He knew that, somehow,
he’d rise from the ashes in which he lay.

He had lost it all, but yet he rose again—
because hope never went away.

Stay strong and always remember that where there is life, there is hope.

The Upbeat Dad

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Perfect Storm!

Dads and sports fans, tonight the NBA season officially kicked off! Tomorrow the World Series begins. The NFL and NCAA football are in full swing. And the NHL is well underway! I call this The Perfect Storm!

Every year around the end of October / early November, all the major sports are in session. As a sports fan, I'm beyond excited! Because there's never a dull moment with these athletic events. So that time is now upon us!

Dads, won't you try to bring your kids out to see their heroes play in a sport they love. All kids love some sport, right? Sports are really childlike activities played with a ball (or puck) and kids can easily relate to them.

Some of the best moments I've had with my 12 year old daughter have been when I've taken her to athletic events. Sitting in the stands explaining to her what's going on on the field is just special. Now I have a newborn son so I'm looking forward to bonding with him as he learns about these athletic events.

Dads, remember your kids aren't really for keeps. They're always your children but soon they become adults and leave "the nest." The quality time you spend with them now makes all the difference in the world.

How many times have you heard an adult speak about "when dad took me to my first ballgame." Even as an adult I recall over 30 years ago when my dad took me to my first ballgame. I still talk about that to this day.

Bonding while watching sports, as far as I'm concerned, is a win-win situation. You and your kids enjoy the event as well as each others' company. So won't you take some time and schedule a trip to your nearest sports arena. Trust me, you'll come out smelling like roses!

What's a 4 letter word that lets you kids know you love them? T-I-M-E! So spend some quality time with them and they'll thank you for it.

Enjoy The Perfect Storm! And may your team(s) win!

The Upbeat Dad

Monday, October 25, 2010

From Father to Visitor

This post is an encouragement for the dads who are going through or have ever gone through a divorce or separation and have had to adjust to their children visiting them. Having been through such a situation, I can tell you that it seems like a punch in the gut to go from having your child(ren) living with you to them visiting you periodically. Some of you are heart-broken every time you think of only seeing your children every other weekend, when you were so used to having them in the home all the time.

I wrote the poem Visitation to encourage the caring dads - letting them know they're not alone. If you find yourself in such a situation now, just know that you're not the first to go through such a transition. The key is to maintain your relationship with your children even under the different living arrangements. In time, you will be rewarded - knowing that your children continually feel loved by you, despite the ending of the relationship between their mother and you.

Be encouraged. My mom always says, "The darkest part of the night is just before dawn." For some of you, the nights have been dark indeed. But, as has been my experience, the dawn is inevitable. Today, that chapter is almost a decade-old experience for me. And my daughter has adjusted quite well. She knows she's loved by both her parents and even though that marriage didn't work out, she's fully assured that all is well.

So just hang in there guys! Things seem to work themselves out in time. Be encouraged - and enjoy reading the poem, Visitation.


I was there when the doctor told us
That we were having a girl
Our parents were right there to hold us
We were so on top of the world;

I was right there for your christening
I was holding my bundle of joy
The preacher said, “Look, do you see him?
He’s smiling like a little boy;"

I was there when you started the first grade
You made me the proudest of dads
I really thought I had it made
Didn’t know things would turn out so bad;

Now the marriage I lived for is over
We’ve started new lives on our own
Now I struggle as I try to recover
‘Cause you live all the way across town;

I’m your father, not a visitor
This feeling is so new to me
I want to see you grow older
To be what a father should be;

I just don’t know ‘bout this system
Didn’t know it was really this bad
I don’t want you to be a victim
I just want to be your dad;

Yet I still hope for tomorrow
I know better days lie ahead
But for now I try to mask this sorrow
Some words are better left unsaid

My dear, I will leave you never
So you don’t have to be sad
Our tie no one can sever
Always and forever, your dad.

© 2010 Rodrick Walters

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Few Nuggets of Wisdom!

I hope that you've enjoyed the weekend and you're ready to get back to work.

Switching from "home mode" to "work mode" can often be a stressful thing. Did you know that according to the American Heart Association, in excess of 50% of heart attacks occur on Monday mornings. I believe this is due to the transition in getting back to our work life, which is often not the most pleasant of things.

As you prepare for the week ahead, here are a few nuggets of wisdom from some of the great minds throughout history:

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." - Benjamin Franklin

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it" - Charles R. Swindoll

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live." - Flora Whittemore

"They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything." - Bil Keane

I hope that these inspirational thoughts will help guide you this week. The better, more equipped we are in our daily, professional lives, the better we are able care for our kids.

This week, let us each commit to having a productive one at work. And let us commit to becoming better parents - ones who are always mindful that providing for our families is the primary reason we make the daily sacrifices to go to work.

Have yourself a productive week!

All the best to you and yours,

The Upbeat Dad