Saturday, February 12, 2011

Welcome New Countries - February 12, 2011

We'd like to welcome the following countries that have joined our growing list of readers over the past week: Guyana, Hungary, Panama, New Zealand, Serbia!

Please check out The Story Behind The Upbeat Dad to find out what we're all about! Also, at the top of the page, look for the section: Check Out Our Most Popular Posts to see the stories that our readers like the most. Each Friday we do an Upbeat Dad of the Week feature where we highlight a father whose involvement has made his kids' lives better.

We encourage you to become engaged in our conversation by posting comments to the posts you read. Also, join us on Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

You'll enjoy and share our excitement about fatherhood. Everybody's welcome - dads, moms, kids and anyone who believes strong, involved fathers help make strong kids.

The Upbeat Dad

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Successful Launch!

On Fridays we generally do our Upbeat Dad of the Week feature. Since all our energies and focus have been on our inaugural community forum, which we had last night, we will postpone our feature this week. And next Friday, we're doing a special post on the forum. The following week, on Friday, February 25, we will resume our Upbeat Dad of the Week feature.

The forum was a great success as we had a very good turnout and a wonderful program. I will share much more about the event on Sunday. For now we exhale after a great kickoff to the new phase of our organization.

Today’s post will be abbreviated. I’m just reflecting on the fact that we set out last October to do something meaningful for fathers, mothers and children around the world. With the success of the blog, we certainly have made a positive contribution through that medium.
Now that our first public event has come and gone, we’ve entered a new phase – one where we can touch lives in a more direct way. Seeing, meeting and interacting with persons face to face is an awesome experience and I look forward to many more events of this type. The possibilities are endless, believe me!
As I said, today’s post will be abbreviated as we exhale from the successful launch of our community forum. Be sure to read next Friday’s post where you’ll learn much more about the forum. For now, we reflect on all that took place yesterday and all that lies in store for us and for the lives that we have the privilege of touching through our work.

Thanks for tuning in. The best is yet to come!
Enjoy your day.
The Upbeat Dad

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tonight Our Upbeat Dad Community Forum is at Hand!

As we go into our inaugural Upbeat Dad Community Forum this evening, I reflect on the entire purpose behind this event. It’s all about being of service to our fellowmen in a more meaningful way than we have before. As I shared in the post Announcing the Upbeat Dad Community Forum, I liken the live events to the ground campaign in military combat.  The air campaign is good – it subdues the targeted area; but it’s in the ground campaign that the victory is won.

When we look at the crises regarding fatherhood that we highlight on our blog, we clearly see that our families are at stake; the future of our kids is at stake. With the blog, I believe that we have been quite effective in making an impact via the internet. And that will always be a staple of our vision. I love the fact that people can tune in 24/7/365 from anywhere in the world and read our posts. I believe that there is enough information available on the blog to make a lasting impact.

But when we can meet people face to face and hear their thoughts and share with them, that takes it to a whole new level. There’s nothing quite like it. I strongly believe and anticipate that something special will be birthed tonight through this forum. It’s not a one-time hit and then we go back to the norm; We plan to have them periodically. Initially, it will be local but before long, we’re taking the show on the road. And when we do, we hope to impact the lives of men, women and children from every class, color and creed.
I reflect on the risk I took 5 years ago when I left the security of my job in the accounting world to not only start an accounting firm of my own but also to become more involved in the social agenda that I’ve envisioned for years. I love meeting people and touching lives so I figured that operating as an entrepreneur would better allow me to manage my time in a way to meet the different demands of my pursuit.
You’ve probably heard it said that a bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Well, I wrestled with the thought of leaving my “bird in the hand” for the “two in the bush” life. Aiming for the “two in the bush” is a risky proposition no doubt; nothing was guaranteed. But I also knew that if my vision were to come to pass, it’s a risk I would have to take.
I didn’t become an entrepreneur to become rich; I did it only to seek the freedom to fulfill my vision of making a difference in others’ lives. In the process of doing so, I do believe that great wealth will come into my hands but it’s not wealth so I can live the lifestyles of the rich and famous; it’s for the purpose of allowing me to have the resources to impact the world in a meaningful way.

I encourage you to join us as we take steps these next several weeks, months and years. It's our goal to build The Upbeat Dad into the type of organization that will be a beacon of hope for families all over the world.
So as we prepare to take this step, I pause and reflect on why we’re having this forum. I heard someone say, “When the ‘why’ is strong enough, the ‘how’ becomes clear.” My “why” can be best summarized with my poem, No Turning Back. I wrote it just before taking the leap into the entrepreneurial life. I call it Declaration of Independence – my tool of liberation to pursue this dream. Enjoy reading:
Can’t do it any longer; I keep lying to myself.
The yearning and the hunger won’t go anywhere else.
It’s time to feed my passion; it’s time to take control;
it’s time to take some action before I get too old.

How can I serve humanity by sitting on the fence?
How can I give the best of me, living with this pretense?
I’ve got so much inside of me that I’ve got to let it out.
It’s time to give the rest of me, and that’s without a doubt.

No more procrastination; I won’t die in a cocoon.
And no more contemplation; I’ve got to do it soon.
Can’t live with all the sorrow; can’t see my dreams decay;
the fool lives for tomorrow; the wise man for today.

There’s a fire on the inside— one that I can’t contain—
that’s yearning for the outside, where it can have free reign
to lead me to my destiny; to where I long to be;
to burn for me eternally; to make my life complete.

With one look in the mirror, I know I’m on my way;
with each step I get nearer, so I must start today.
The world out there is waiting; it’s time to get on track—
this time, no hesitating; there is no turning back.

I hope that as you have read these words, you have contemplated your own life and its purpose. We’re only here on earth for a limited time so I believe that with everything within us, we ought to strive to make our lives count. I trust that the words of this poem will give you all the “whys” that you need to take the steps to make a difference.
Tonight is the night that’s been years in the making. Our community forum is at hand. This is what life is all about – making a difference in the lives of others.

Enjoy your day.

The Upbeat Dad

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Olympian and The Upbeat Dad!

As I reflect on the big day tomorrow – our inaugural Upbeat Dad Community Forum – I’ll just do this brief post today. I’ll share the words of my poem The Olympian. As you read it, think of the correlation between The Olympian and The Upbeat Dad.
Each has had the journey of a lifetime – going through challenges along the way. But still each is determined to reach the goal that lies ahead. The significance of reaching that goal cannot be understated because it is then that his lifelong vision and mission can come to fruition. One wants to become the Olympic champion. The other wants to impact the world with a positive message to revolutionize the lives of men, women and children.
Think of the significance of this moment as you read:
The Olympian
By Rodrick Walters

I've waited all my life for these next ten seconds.
Getting up early in the morning to train this body of mine.
Preparing it like a well-oiled machine. Denying myself
the pleasures of life - all for this moment.
This is my personal mission.
These beads of sweat dripping down my face
might as well be blood. Because I have given everything
for this moment. I don't even see the people
in the lanes next to me - all I see is that finish line.
I must be the first to reach it,
I refuse to be denied.
Ten seconds is all it will take.
And my life will never be the same.

As I stated, this will be a brief post as I now reflect on all that lies ahead. Tomorrow night will be significant – one of the most significant of my life. And it's all about empowering others in a meaningful way. This moment really makes life worth living!

Enjoy your day. We’ll speak soon.
The Upbeat Dad

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hope for the Hurting after a Broken Relationship

As we prepare for our Upbeat Dad Community Forum, I have had the privilege of interacting with so many people. Some have heard me on the BBC radio interview I had last week. Some have heard me on the radio here in South Florida. Others I have met at different local events. Just yesterday I was at a political event for a cousin of mine who was recently elected as a City Commissioner in a neighboring city.
It seems that as I talk about the forum and the vision of The Upbeat Dad organization, collectively, the phrase I hear from people is, “This is so needed.” And that’s so gratifying to hear. It has been a passion of mine to share this beautiful message about fatherhood. I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised that it has caught on so quickly. I do not know anyone else who does just what I do so I thought it would take some time for the word to get out. I strongly believed in the message from day one but in my view, I’d have to become established and then get the right contacts in order to get this organization to where I envision it going.
But let me tell you that I’ve been blown away by the response. Online, this blog has gone viral, in a sense. Over 12,000 hits, over 800 Twitter followers, over 300 Facebook fans – all in just 4 months? Wow! And it really has nothing to do with me – it’s all about the message. I’m simply a messenger who’s passionate about sharing these valuable life lessons and recommendations about the institution of fatherhood.
So I thank you for tuning in each day. And I especially thank you for sharing the different posts with those who you believe will benefit. I believe strongly that as we receive, we should also give; that’s what life is all about.
As I’ve spoken with both men and women about our organization, one thing has become so apparent to me – people are hurting. They may smile when you see them; they might look well put together but they’re hurting. Men are hurt and women are also hurt.
This brings to mind something that occurred several years ago just before my divorce in the early 2000s. I was in the US Virgin Islands conducting a seminar. I had just left Puerto Rico and was on a high after full-filling a dream of doing a seminar in a Spanish speaking country. The morning of the Virgin Islands event, I made a phone call home and without disclosing the nature of that discussion, I’ll just say that based on what was said, I knew that the end was near.
At 6 AM in a luxury hotel on a beautiful tropical island with my room overlooking the blue sea, I was crying my eyes out. I cried so much that my stomach hurt and my eyes became red. But guess what? I had to do a seminar that day. I was the only speaker. So despite my hurting heart and all that I was dealing with, the show had to go on. At 8 AM, there I was, in a suit with a smile on my face, registering the participants and smiling.
That was one of the most difficult days of my professional career. Yet, I did my presentation and shared good information. I injected humor and got some good laughs and all went great! When the seminar ended at 4 PM, I was so relieved. When everyone departed I went back to my room and had to deal with the reality of my situation.
In my book Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self Motivation, there’s a poem that I consider an autobiographical work; it really summarizes my entire life in a very real way. The opening lines are:
Don’t be fooled by the smile that I wear
For each smile you see has cost me a tear.

I believe the same can be said for so many individuals who you and I meet on a daily basis. Maybe right now these words have struck a nerve inside of you because you’re one of those who masks your tears with a smile. Believe me, these emotions are real and I very much understand them.
Just yesterday I was speaking with a gentleman who will be attending the forum. I never met him before but we made an immediate connection. He shared with me the horrific experience he went through when he divorced 5 years ago. He has since remarried but it’s quite apparent to me that he’s still wounded.
I also spoke with a mom yesterday who says she just wishes her former husband could be dragged kicking and screaming to the event because there’s no way he would attend willingly. He was a good dad when he was married but since he divorced, according to her, he also decided to divorce the kids. And they feel rejected and alone. She wants him to know that despite the ending of the relationship, the kids are innocent so they still need the unconditional love and support of both parents.
I can attest to just how real these emotions are. Have you ever heard the expression, “It cuts like a knife?” Well that, it does, believe me.
In preparation for the forum, I have reached out to other professionals to hear their thoughts on different matters. Yesterday I met with a family therapist. He’s a gifted man and his specialty is divorce. He has authored books on the subject. I will do a separate blog post on him before long so I won’t share all his information just yet.
But as we talked about my journey and why I even got to the point of starting The Upbeat Dad, he told me of some statistics that are downright scary. Over 50% of first marriages fail. The parties from those failed marriages, as they remarry, within 8-10 years, 75% of those 2nd marriages fail. And the parties of those 2nd marriages that fail, when they remarry, 90% of them fail within 5 years. In other words, the more you remarry, the less likely your new marriage(s) will survive.
We have many walking wounded among us and many of us have no idea. If you are one of these individuals, fear not – there is hope. You are not alone. Because you’ve been hurt by a former relationship, that’s not a death sentence. Your life goes on and in time, you can find love again. In my posts The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad and The Story of My Blended Family, I share my personal story. Life is a beautiful thing – it really is. But it’s not without its bumps and bruises along the way.
When relationships are broken and kids are involved, it makes it so hard. Sometimes you have such anger and resentment towards your former spouse. Yet that person is the mother or father of your child(ren). It just doesn’t seem right, I know. But that’s reality.
If you’re in the South Florida area, please do come out to our community forum. I think that you’ll find encouragement in a supportive setting. Dads, moms, singles, divorced, everyone’s invited to this event. And that to me is a beautiful thing. People with varying life experiences will be present and it’s all for a good reason – to highlight the importance of fathers in the lives of children.
If you’re present at the event, do take the time to introduce yourself. Over 10 years ago when I just began speaking professionally, one of my mentors told me, “Always be the first to arrive and the last to leave.” I try to live up to that responsibility because people make major decisions based on information that you share with them. I want to be attentive to each individual because, to me, everyone’s thoughts and opinions matter.
I very much look forward to our forum. It’s the kickoff of the new phase of our organization – live public events. To me, that’s when the fun really begins. Stay engaged along the way. And hang on with us for this beautiful ride!

Enjoy your day today and every day.
The Upbeat Dad

Monday, February 7, 2011

Countdown To Kickoff - Community Forum, That Is!

The NFL season ended on Sunday with a classic showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. That countdown to kickoff has come and gone and the Packers are champions!
We have a countdown of our own - the countdown to our Upbeat Dad Community Forum! It will be held this coming Thursday, February 10 in Cooper City, Florida. It’s an event that I believe has been years in the making. If you’ve followed our blog for any length of time you would know that I see this entire Upbeat Dad vision as the cause of a lifetime. I am quite pleased that the blog has taken off as well as it has. We presently have over 12,000 hits worldwide – that’s phenomenal! (especially when you consider that we only launched 4 months ago).
As I mentioned in the post Announcing the Upbeat Dad Community Forum, I liken the blog to the air campaign in military combat. The work is done from a distance but still it’s effective. So whether I type each blog post from the office or from home or when I’m traveling, it doesn’t really matter – the connection is through the words that I type and post.
The forum and all future public or in-person events are of a different nature. Meeting people face to face and exchanging thoughts and ideas is something I enjoy immensely. I have taught seminars and workshops for over 10 years and one thing I often say is that, though I have much information to share, I love the active participation of attendees because I am always ready to learn from others’ experiences.
The forum will be as just that – a forum. That means, though I will be speaking and giving some information, the nature of this event is not simply a lecture – it’s a public discussion about the very important topic of fatherhood. I value very much the input of others because I believe that we have a greater understanding when we exchange thoughts.
Here are the details of the event:

The Upbeat Dad Community Forum!

 Come let your voice be heard at The Upbeat Dad Community Forum!
You'll enjoy this intriguing discussion on fatherhood!

Cooper City Church of God Fellowship Hall
9191 Stirling Road
Cooper City, FL 33328

Thursday, February 10, 2011
7 PM - 9 PM
Name: Rodrick Walters
Phone: 954-288-4788
Dads, Moms, Married, Divorced, Singles, Everyone’s welcome!
We wanna hear from you!

Free Admission!

Come on out and express yourself on this thought-provoking subject!

Among the issues that will be addressed are:
  • Absentee father syndrome: Where are our fathers?
  • How fair is the family law system?
  • From father to visitor: Being dad after divorce
  • Why every child needs a dad
  • When good fathers go bad
  • Why parents use children as tools in a game of Tug of War?
I know that most of you will not be able to attend. It is, after all, an event being held locally in the Miami area. But fear not – there will be video clips of it posted. Just stay tuned on that front. And as I’ve said from the outset, our vision is global so, in time, I plan to take the show on the road, as the expression goes. I would love to touch every continent in a meaningful way – yes, through the blog but also in person.
On Thursday, one of the things that I will share is that the primary response I have gotten from different persons as we have promoted this event is, “This is so badly needed.” All you have to do is turn on the news any evening and you’ll see headlines of crime and violence. I challenge you to do further inquiry on the perpetrators of these crimes. More often than not, you will see that there is a story about the lack of a positive influence of a father. And sometimes fathers may be present but effectively function as absent because they give no positive contribution to the raising of the children.
I’m not saying that you don’t have great, wonderful citizens who were raised by single moms. My father was raised by a single mom and in my view, he’s as good as they come. But in general, statistics show that children raised without the influence of a positive father  tend not to do quite as well scholastically and overall in life.

I stand and applaud all the single mothers who have taken on the task of raising their kids. As I shared in my interview on BBC radio last week, 60% of our readers are women and I feel fortunate to say that. I like the fact that they’re reading because I love to share the thought that I don’t believe they were meant to raise kids alone – they certainly did not conceive them alone. There’s a role for both genders to play in the raising of our children and I’m determined to share the thought that actively involved dads and moms tend to produce well-adjusted, successful children. And that is what most parents desire for their kids.
I’m very much looking forward to this event. Representatives from the Miami Dolphins will be present. Some elected officials and members of the media will also be present. It should be a great event. It’s our first but it certainly will not be our last. This message is too important to have only a one time go at it.
So the countdown is on. Thursday, February 10 should be a day that, years from now, we will look back and say that that event was a key inflection point as we chart the meteoric rise of our organization. And as I always say, our kids are the ones who will gain the most. To put it another way, they are the beneficiaries of our collective efforts.
Hug your kids when they come home from school today – they’ll appreciate it much. Enjoy your day.

The Upbeat Dad

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BBC Interview to Highlight Global Vision!

Last Friday was one of those magical moments that every new organization hopes for.  Each new venture has its goals and ideals; there’s an overall philosophy that guides it. When that vision is clearly established, the visionary takes steps to see it realized in a real sense. Along the route to realization, there are certain key moments that help to affirm that the vision is worthwhile and ought to be pursued to fruition.
Having said that, I believe that years from now, Friday, February 4, 2011 will be looked at as a key inflection point in the history of The Upbeat Dad. You see, on that day, our vision got a huge boost with an interview on BBC radio – live from England. I had a nice chat with radio personality Sarah Gorrell on her show.  It was about a 6-7 minute interview that was made easy by Sarah’s warm personality. She’s a true professional and I am honored to have had that conversation with her. To hear the interview, Click Here for the archived version of that program. I came on the air approximately 38 minutes into the broadcast. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Program is archived for only 7 days after date of recording.)
BBC radio personality Sarah Gorrell
From the moment that we launched our blog last October, I have stated that my vision is to share our message with the world. The issues that I write about each day are universal – they cross cultural, political, religious and ethnic lines. Fatherhood is a topic that affects every segment of society. And when fathers are not active in the lives of their children, I believe that the children suffer.
Having lived in the United States for most of my life, I realize that much of my perspective may be from an American’s standpoint. But since the topic of fatherhood is worldwide, from the outset I have sought to emphasize the international nature of our vision.
So having a live interview on BBC radio is as big as it gets in my view. I believe strongly that before long, I will be on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox and other US based stations. But to me, BBC has such a huge presence and huge following on a global basis that I’m glad that this initial interview was with that organization. I would have it no other way because what was accomplished through that chat has far-reaching, life-changing, momentum-building implications.
A colleague of mine here in Florida asked me last week, “Where do you get all these connections to get so much exposure?” That’s a heck of a question, isn’t it? It would be easy to say, “I have an uncle in the media business and he’s knocking on doors and making phone calls relentlessly on my behalf.”
But I went into this process without having any contacts whatsoever. My only contact was my very real story – the one that I shared in one of our most popular posts, The Story Behind The Upbeat Dad. I have simply shared the message from my heart through the different posts that I write each day. I write about the life I have lived and the journey I’ve taken since my divorce in the early 2000s. I never thought about one day blogging about what I’ve done; I was just being a dad – a loving dad.
Having learned so much about fatherhood through my practical experience, I got to the point where I decided to share what I’ve learned with others. And through the blog, and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, I have developed a group of contacts, many with whom I have developed friendships.
Sue Atkins
The BBC interview came about as a result of such an alliance. Sue Atkins, an internationally recognized parenting expert based in the United Kingdom has been one of my most frequent contacts since I began using Twitter. We regularly read each others’ tweets and blogs posts. We know each other well enough through these mediums to recognize that we share a similar vision, though our approach is from different angles. I have had the privilege of speaking with Sue and she’s even more dynamic and pleasant to speak to than she is to correspond with through our online contact.
I believe strongly in the proverb that says, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” I think I’m a nice guy and generally get along well with people. But the reason that these doors are opening now has less to do with me and more to do with the message that I share. Sue has been gracious enough to share what I do with many others. Even her blog post today is about my work – Click Here for The Sue Atkins Inspiring Sunday Saying. So Sarah Gorrell is one with whom Sue shared my vision. And as they say, the rest is history.
As I write this blog post, we have over 11,500 hits on the blog. In the past 7 days, we have gotten hits from 8 countries that have never previously visited our blog: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Columbia, Lithuania, Morocco, Uganda, Venezuela and Vietnam. Our post Welcome New Countries - February 5, 2011 gives these new readers a brief overview of what we’re all about.
I always say that simply talking about numbers is not a big deal to me. But as I see it, each click on the blog represents a new life that we may touch in a positive way. I believe that we have struck a chord with both men and women as we share this message. As I said on the Sarah Gorrell Show, approximately 60% of our readers are women. I know we’re on to something and I’m really excited. I always say that I’m not on the side of fathers; neither am I on the side of mothers; I am on the side of children and what’s in their best interest.
One beautiful thing about the age of technology is that communication is virtually instantaneous. After the interview, almost immediately I began receiving messages from all over the world – including a far away place like Australia. The message is global and it’s great to see it spread.
The best thing to me is that it’s really all about our children. My passion is for them and that’s who I think of as I write. I know that my two kids’ lives are so much better since I’m an actively involved father. My desire is that more fathers would become an integral part of their kids’ development. It’s not good enough to just play with them or just to send money to support them. One of my sayings is that it takes more than cash to support a child. Being a child advocate is my greatest passion because our kids deserve every ounce of energy that we might invest into their well-being.
As we’re embarking on the public events part of our vision with our inaugural Upbeat Dad Community Forum this coming Thursday, February 10, I cannot think of a greater shot in the arm than the BBC interview. If you’ve followed our blog posts since we launched 4 months ago, you could probably say that you saw this coming. I have been consistent in writing about our vision. And as it continues to unfold, I encourage you to remain engaged with us. Ours is a noble venture – one that I believe will benefit our kids greatly.
Many of you have shared our blog with others and I appreciate that so much. If you haven’t already done so, please join us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We’re headed to a good place, believe me. Our kids deserve our very best effort.

Enjoy your day. And always be excited and “upbeat” about your kids.
The Upbeat Dad