Saturday, November 27, 2010

Greetings from New Orleans!

Hope your weekend is going great so far. This will be an abbreviated post. I am currently in New Orleans on a drive back to Florida from Texas.

I try to do a post each day, no matter how short or simple it may be. At the same time, I don't believe in writing a post just for the purpose of writing one. The vision for The Upbeat Dad is way too vast for me to make meaningless posts.

Just know that whether I make a one paragraph post or an extended one, I count it a privilege to share thoughts with you that I believe will ultimately make you a more effective father. And if you happen to be a non-father but you share our vision to see kids' lives positively impacted by their dads and father figures, also know that I value you greatly and will always try to share words to uplift and encourage you.

Having said this, let me say that on the way back from Texas, our family and extended family decided to make a brief stop in New Orleans. And that stop has had such a profound effect on me - so profound that I think there needs to be a separate post on it.

So this coming Monday, I will be writing about it. The essence of that post will be that the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and pretty much written off. But today, as we toured the French Quarters and the city, New Orleans is quite alive.

I think some of you are like this great city - written off, left for dead but you refused to sit back and let your obituary be written. Whether you went through a tough divorce or you had a huge financial setback as a provider, you may very well have been written off. But yet you're still standing.

Anyway, I won't give away the entire post here. Look out for it this coming Monday. It's gonna be powerful and I really believe that there will be a life lesson in it for each of us.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Stay upbeat and we'll "speak" soon.

The Upbeat Dad

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Holiday Season is Here!

Today's post is just a brief one to say I hope that you've enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday and that you're looking forward to the holiday season.

Some of you may be wondering about today's Upbeat Dad of the Week feature. It's a feature we started 3 weeks ago to highlight our dads who exhibit special qualities that make them exceptional dads. And earlier this week, I promised that for today's feature I would have the readers submit 3 to 5 sentences that I would then share with the larger audience of readers.

I have noted that since the start of this week, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there's less activity on the blog and Facebook page than usual. This is certainly understandable. As I type this, for instance, people who might normally be at work or otherwise engaged in on-line activity are crowding the malls on this Black Friday - the first official day of the Christmas shopping season. So I thought that, rather than highlighting these great dads to a smaller audience, I'd do that post next week Friday.

So for those who have submitted your wishes for your dad before, don't worry, we'll still highlight them. And if you haven't submitted one for your dad, you can do so up until next Wednesday, December 1. Then on Friday, December 3, we'll publish them.

I hope that thus far, you've experienced the love of family and friends this holiday season. And for the remainder of the season, may peace, love and prosperity be yours.

The Upbeat Dad

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

I trust that your day is off to a wonderful start! And I hope the remainder of the day is special for you and yours. My wife, my children and I are in Houston, Texas with my parents, siblings, their spouses and children, and many more relatives and friends. It's a very special time for us!

Instead of doing an extended post today, I'm going to share with you what has been one of the most read posts since we launched the blog. It's my personal Thanksgiving story about my divorce in 2001 and how things are so different now in 2010. I shared it this past Monday. I repeat it here because it teaches us that in what might seem to be the worst of circumstances, we can still find much to be thankful for. Now, I'm so thankful that I'm having the time of my life with the persons who mean the most to me!

Here's that post -Thanksgiving 2010 vs Thanksgiving 2001: What a Difference!

I recognize that for different reasons, this may not be the happiest Thanksgiving Day for you - particularly if you are like the brother of a colleague of mine who's dealing with the awful reality of divorce during this holiday season. I have arranged to speak with him this afternoon because while many of us celebrate and have a great time, there are others among us who are hurting.

Regardless of anything you may be facing at this point, I trust that this article that you just read will be an encouragement to you and that it renews your hope in the timeless proverb: Love conquers all! May you find find everything to be thankful for on this special day. Because even in the most challenging times, we seem to find some of the biggest blessings.

I wish each of you the very best of what life has to offer. And may this day be filled with wonderful and precious memories that last a lifetime!

The Upbeat Dad

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Road Trip!

Well, tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day! It's been a long time coming! I'm looking forward to this holiday season - as I do every holiday season. This one is really special though. It's our son's first Thanksgiving. And our daughter will be with us for the holiday as well. So I'm really looking forward to it.

And best of all, we're taking a road trip! We live in Miami, Florida and my parents, brothers, their families and other family members live in Houston, Texas. We're driving with several members of our extended family from Florida.

So as I type we're in north Florida. Don't worry - I'm not typing and driving! For now I'm a passenger. But in a short while I'll be driving.

As I mentioned on yesterday's post, this is a week of Thanksgiving for the dads in our lives. One staple in the American family experience is the road trip! There's something about this time on the road that brings a unique level of bonding not known otherwise.

Did you see the early 1980s movie National Lampoon's Vacation with Chevy Chase, Beverly DeAngelo and a young Anthony Michael Hall? That movie ought to be preserved in a museum so that generations of Americans to come can enjoy a classic, memorable family road trip. Things didn't always go quite right with that family. But they got to their destination despite some bumps along the way.

Do you have any special recollection of family road trips? I recall as a child growing up in Jamaica, my dad always took us on road trips - sometimes to the big city, Kingston. Sometimes to the zoo. And of course to the beach.

Then when we came to the United States and lived in Houston, our road trips took us to different destinations but the experience was just the same - we grew closer as a family.

You see, back then, there was no cell phones; no iPods or iPads; just the radio and a captive audience - each other.

As an adult now, some of my best childhood memories were from those road trips. So I'm trying to keep the cycle going for a next generation.

Our son is a few months old now. In a short while, I'm sure we'll begin making a periodic "pilgrimage" from Miami to Orlando to visit Mickey Mouse and his friends at Disney World! I know when my daughter was much younger she enjoyed those experiences.

Do you have memories of family road trips? Some of us are fortunate to have had that experience but I realize that not each of us was so privileged.

If you're a dad, what are you doing to create lasting memories with your children? Road trips are great and you should try them. But on a day to day or week to week basis there are simple things you can do. Go to the park. Or to the zoo. To the community pool. Or fishing.

We're thankful for our dads and our families for helping to create lasting memories. In this season of thanksgiving we have much to be thankful for. And we're thankful for the opportunity that some of us have to create lasting memories with our own families.

Before I close, remember (from yesterday's post) to submit a 3 to 5 sentence greeting or tribute to your dad. And on Friday we'll share it with the world in our "Upbeat Dad of the Week" feature.

We'll be in touch tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day! Have a great one!

The Upbeat Dad

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tell Your Dad Thanks (While the World is Listening!)

On yesterday's post, I shared my personal testimony of how I went from the turmoil of my divorce in Thanksgiving 2001 to the bliss of Thanksgiving 2010 with my new family. When I looked at the statistics this morning, I see that it's the 3rd most read post in our brief history. Many of you shared with me how encouraged you were by it. And that's gratifying to know.
A significant reason that I made it through that rough patch was the love shown to me by both of my parents - love, not only in words but also in deed! And that got me thinking - even though we have readers all over the world, since we're based in the United States and this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, I'd like to make this week a week of thanksgiving for the dads in our lives. So each post will be about different aspects of thanksgiving for our dads.
And I'd like to culminate this special week by having you give thanks in your own words to your dad or father figure, while the world is listening! In less than 2 months since we launched The Upbeat Dad, we literally have readers on every continent - except for maybe Antarctica! So your "voice" would be "heard" all over the world as you say thanks to your dad.
Many of us today have grown into successful adults due to the guidance of our parents. We appreciate the roles that our moms play - afterall they're the ones who carry us in their wombs and give birth to us. We take it for granted but it's a fact that many risk their lives giving birth to us.
Our dads have a different role. They're generally the providers. They're also more the disciplinarians to keep us on the right path. They often do not get credit for raising successful children - and this label is too often well deserved. Many fathers lose out on the opportunity to be "daddy" because they're away working and not watching their kids grow. While there are others who, despite everything going on in their lives, always find the time for their kids.
As mentioned above, this week I invite you to share stories about your dads or other father figures in your lives. And then on Friday, when we generally honor our "Upbeat Dad of the Week" I'd like to feature your stories. This week, we're not looking for the detailed stories that we generally have. Just tell us in 3-5 sentences why you're thankful for your dad or father figure.
Some of your dads may have passed away so you could use this platform as a tribute to them. Some of you may have been adopted so you can use this as an opportunity to say thanks to your dad for choosing to adopt you. Others may have been reunited with your dad after a strained relationship. Whatever the case let's share these stories to encourage each other.
This season of Thanksgiving is special. We would like to highlight all of our dads to whom to say thanks. You can submit your stories by any of the following means:
  • Email:
  • Post a message on our Facebook page
  • Comment on this post here on the blog
Do encourage others to join you in sharing their stories. Let's make this Friday a day that all our dads feel good about the roles they play in our lives. They're deserving in so many ways.
So let's hear from you! And remember to read our postings each day this week as we give thanks for our dads!
Have yourself a great day!
The Upbeat Dad

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 vs Thanksgiving 2001: What a Difference!

So here we are – Thanksgiving week here in the United States. This will quite likely be the least productive week on the calendar. It’s a short work week – most people will work Monday and Tuesday and some will work on Wednesday.  And of course, no one works Thanksgiving Day or the day after, unless you’re in certain professions – i.e. healthcare, law enforcement.  Or if you’re in the retail industry, Friday might very well be your busiest day of the year.
Whatever the case, the holiday season is now officially upon us. In this season of Thanksgiving, we all have so much to be thankful for. Regardless of your present situation, the fact that you’re reading this means that you’re alive. And where there is life, there is hope. And particularly if you’re a parent, you should be thankful for your children. Do they get on your nerves at times? Of course – what kid doesn’t? But at the end of the day, you have much to be thankful for with them.
Today, we’re a few days from Thanksgiving 2010. If you move the ‘1’ in the year one digit to the right so that you have 2001, instead of 2010, then you’ll go back 9 years. That year was one of my most thankful Thanksgiving seasons.  You see, it was that time that my divorce was in the beginning stages. October 2001 is the date that my divorce started. And really, for the better part of the next year, my daily life was a train wreck.
I was devastated emotionally – particularly when I reflected on my 3 year old daughter and the effect the process had on her. I recall the first time she came to me after the divorce was filed she said, “Daddy, I’m sorry I yelled at you; can you come home now?” That really broke my heart.  I lost over 30 pounds within the first 6 weeks of this experience. It’s something I would never wish on any family.
But here’s the reason I was thankful that Thanksgiving season. I was surrounded with so much love – from all angles. First my family here in South Florida was simply awesome. This might sound dramatic but it is 100% truthful – had it not been for them (my sister and her family, in particular) I could have easily been homeless. Forget the fact that I’m a CPA and a hardworking professional; the financial toll of divorce was worse than I could have imagined.

Then my parents, my brothers and their wives were there for me. Other family members, friends and so many individuals shared such encouraging words. And many helped to relieve the huge financial burden that I was dealing with. My sister and her family housed me for 18 months while I tried to get back on my feet.

That Thanksgiving morning, I recall we were having family devotions. When I began speaking about what I was thankful for, I started talking but after a few seconds the only thing I could do was cry. There I was in the worst crisis of my life. Yet, I had a roof over my head and food to eat. That might not seem like much but if you knew all that was at hand, you’d know that this in and of itself was miraculous.
I didn’t know how I was making it from day to day but somehow I did. I had a job to help me offset some of the expenses that I was now incurring. And my daughter, who didn’t understand what was happening, was such an angel through it all. Her happy home was broken but still she loved her mom and dad just the same. There was so much to be thankful for during that season that no matter what ever happens in my life, Thanksgiving 2001 will be special to me.
It was also at that time that my sister and a couple at my church began encouraging me to think about establishing an organization for dads going through divorce. They encouraged me to use my training as a motivational speaker and writer to share thoughts to encourage others when they are faced with their own personal crises. I was in no position to help others at the time – I was too busy trying to recover from my wounded heart.
But they were able to help me look beyond the darkness that my eyes were seeing to how others could benefit from that experience. You see, this was when the idea for The Upbeat Dad started. In the midst of my worst crisis, the beautiful gem that would one day be called The Upbeat Dad was birthed.

Today, just over a month after launching this blog, there are literally thousands of persons all over the world that are reading it. And many attest as to how their lives are being impacted by it. I didn’t seek this platform but in hindsight, how beautiful it is that what could have easily been the death of me became the key to living a life of victory – one in which I help others through their own hurts and bruises.
And life goes on, believe me. Now, my daughter is a wonderful 12 year old and doing well socially and academically. My former wife and I are cooperative partners in her upbringing. And I’m happily remarried with a 3 ½ month old son.  If you told me in November 2001 that in November 2010 I would be at this point, I would’ve had a hard time believing you. Yet, here I am.
My friend, I do not know your current situation. Perhaps you’re happily married with children and life is going well. Or perhaps you have your own crisis that you’re dealing with. My encouragement to you in this season of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for all you have. You don’t know the issues that some others have to deal with.
Some of you may be divorced or separated and perhaps this week will be your first holiday without your kids. Or maybe they will be coming to visit you for the holidays. And the wound to your heart might still be very fresh.  I have been in your shoes – maybe not the very same scenario but I do understand the emotions that come with such a situation.
I encourage you to keep focused. It’s unfortunate but true that marriages come and go – but your role as a parent is perpetual. It never changes. 9 years ago at this point, I didn’t know what was going to happen. There were marital assets to be divided and other issues at hand. I only knew that when the dust settled and the legal process was final, my former wife and I would remain the parents of an adorable, beautiful little girl.
I wish you and yours the very best during this season of Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you have. Because an attitude of gratitude is the key to increase your altitude and influence in life.

Happy early Thanksgiving to you and your family,

The Upbeat Dad

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Facing Hard Times? Don't Worry, It's Just Part of the Plan!

Well, we’re kinda winding down from the weekend and a revving up the gears to head back to work – though for those of us in the United States it’ll be a short work week.
Today’s post will be brief – just a note of encouragement for those who might be facing challenges in their lives. Some of you may be going into the holiday season and you’re wondering where your life is headed. Perhaps you’re dealing with a newly broken relationship and this holiday season is one that you dread. Or perhaps the economic crisis has taken its toll on you and you’re trying to get back on your feet.
Whatever the case, I encourage you to see the obstacles that you might now face as part of the plan that will lead to your ultimate success. I wrote the poem Part of the Plan 5 years ago to encourage a friend who was going through a difficult time. It's in my book, Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self Motivation I trust it would be an encouragement to you.
Part of the Plan

You hold down your head, you’re feeling so low;
it seems like you never get up off the floor—
for each time you try, you break down and cry;
you look to the heavens and keep asking, “Why?”

“Why do I stumble with each step that I take?
Why do dreams crumble with so much at stake?
Why does it happen again and again—
success is my foe and failure my friend?”

But listen, I tell you—just listen to me—
wherever you stumble, your treasure must be.
The truth of that lesson I’ve learned in my life:
success is not far from your pain and your strife.

I know it’s been hard, I know it’s been tough;
the blows that you’ve taken are more than enough.
And yet you’re still standing—you haven’t been beat;
I knew that you never could accept defeat.

Now here’s your reward: a story to tell
of the struggles you had and the times that you fell.
A story of courage and of victory;
a story to lead you to your destiny.

Make sure that you tell each listening ear
to march on ahead, for there’s nothing to fear.
For each time you falter and feel all alone,
that stumbling block is your stepping stone.

So now do you see why you suffered so long?
It’s all been designed to make sure you’re strong.
So fight on with joy; I’m your biggest fan.
Victory’s assured—that’s part of the plan.

Be sure to read tomorrow’s post. I will share with you my personal story that took me from the crisis of my divorce in 2001 to the happiness of my marriage now in 2010. It’s a story that I feel certain will be an encouragement to you.
Enjoy the rest of today. We’ll “speak” tomorrow!
The Upbeat Dad