Our task for this posting is to pick one of our senses to focus on for the day and write about what we feel/find. The first thing that I noticed is that I don’t have a strong sense. No, I didn’t say “scent”, I said “sense”. My wife has the hearing of a bat, can smell things from a mile away, and can taste the slightest taste of coriander in a bowl of chili. I don’t really know if there is coriander in chili, but you get my point. I love good food, but just because it tastes good, not because of the subtlety of flavors. I like loud music and my sense of smell is just average. This is my long way of saying that this wasn’t a particular intuitive project for me. Since my wife has three senses already wrapped up, and practicing the sense of touch at work would get me in trouble, I decided to focus on vision.
I spent most of my day really looking at people, trying to see what can be learned by body language and expressions. The first thing I noticed is that people get really bored in meetings. Looking around the room in several meetings today, it was easy to see that about half the people were listening and half were anywhere but in that meeting. It also interesting to see how many people are doing other things in meetings. Between checking phones (including me), bringing in laptops and doing email through a whole meeting, and staring at the wall it’s amazing we get anything done.
The second thing I noticed is how focused the folks at work are. I watched people’s faces while they were at their desks working and there was a surprising intensity and focus. I don’t know what the take away here is, but it’s just something that I noticed.
Third, I watched my kids while they were talking to me and I realized that they really look at me to see if I’m paying attention. Sometime when they’re talking to me I’m checking email on my phone, checking through the mail, washing dishes, or whatever else I’m busy with. I assume they’ll just keep talking because they’re six and that’s what six year olds do. Today I realized that not being focused on my conversations with them is just as rude, probably more rude, than not being focused on my conversations at work. It might not be all that groundbreaking to me that they learned a new game today called “stapler”, but it’s a big deal to them and I should appreciate that. From now on I am going to do my best to give my full attention during my conversations with my kids. I’m not naive enough to think that I’ll keep this pledge 100% of the time, but I really am going to try to be better.
Our task for today is to call an old friend that we hadn’t spoken to for a while. I did that, but more out of happenstance than for the Challenge. While sitting at my desk I noticed that one of my good friends popped up on IM. I gave him a quick ping and then called him on my way home from work. Brian was my best friend in college and the best man in my wedding. That was 13 years ago and I’ve only seen him once since. He lives in Connecticut and I live in California. And most importantly, we both have young kids which leaves room for almost nothing else. I talked to Brian for half an hour on my way home and laughed almost the entire time. Even though we haven’t talked on the phone for probably 2 years, it was like we were right back in college (including telling fart jokes). It was great.
This past weekend I had dinner with my friend Robbie who was in town for the weekend. Robbie was a coworker at Amazon and a really good friend when I lived in Seattle. We would get together every couple of weeks for a beer and talk about everything. Mostly we were both trying to figure out what business we could start (it turns out we never started a business and we both have jobs that we can’t see ourselves leaving now) but we always had great conversations. Now that I’ve moved I speak to Robbie maybe once a year and email maybe twice a year. But having dinner with him reminded me of how much I enjoy talking with him and makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often.
Have you seen the previews for the movie “500 Days of Summer”? My wife wants to see it (I guess I kind of do too). In it the boy asks the girls what happened with her past relationships and she says “What always happens, life”. I guess that’s true with friends too. I’m making a commitment to do a better job of keeping in touch with friends. Truly good friends are a rare find and certainly something we should be grateful for.
Our day 3 blog is about something that we originally thought was negative, but we now see through a different light. My post is kind-of about that. Both of my daughters are playing soccer this fall (they’re 8 and 6). My younger daughter really wanted me to be her coach so I agreed to volunteer. Her practice is every Thursday at 4:30, which means I have to leave early every Thursday for the next two months. My older daughter said that it wasn’t fair that I coach the younger one and not her. So I volunteered for her team as well. Her practice is every Monday at 4:30, which means I also have to leave early on Mondays for two months.
I actually debated about doing this. Frankly, I didn’t want to do it at first. Not because I don’t love the idea of coaching my kids but because it really stresses me out to have to leave early two days a week while we’re in planning mode for our busy holiday season. I don’t know why. I work until late every night after we put the kids to bed. And when I’m not working I’m thinking about my job. It’s not like I wont make up the time or just work a little later at night, but I’m just wound too tightly to feel good about leaving before the rest of my team. I didn’t want to do it because leaving early would just add more stress to those days. Of course common sense got the better of me and I volunteered for both teams. We’ve only had practice for one week and it has, in fact, been difficult to leave early on the two days.
Now that we’ve actually had two days of practice, however, I am so happy that I wasn’t dumb enough to not volunteer. It’s great seeing how excited the girls are about having their dad as their coach. They call me Coach Daddy during practice. It’s also a great opportunity to spend quality time with them individually. Having three kids there aren’t many chances to be alone with just one of them so they like that it’s just them and I driving to practice in my car. And my coaching abilities are going to be surpassed by their playing abilities in another year or so, so I’m glad that I’m taking advantage of this while I can.
Like I said, this isn’t exactly about something bad that turned into something good. But it is about something that I didn’t appreciate at first that I now look forward to. Go Golden Kickers and Purple Gobstoppers (I didn’t pick the names).
We’re supposed to blog about something that happened today that made me feel grateful. I said in my posting yesterday that it was an easy day because I had had such a great day with my kids. Today is also an easy day but for an entirely different reason. My wife received this email from a friend today:
I’m writing to ask for your prayers. My cousins 5 year old son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year and they found out yesterday that he will probably be an angel in heaven within the next month. Just would like your prayers to help my wonderful cousin get through this with her family and for the best for her little boy.
It’s amazing how much more deeply these types of these impact me now that I have my own family. I don’t know these people, but I can physically feel the knots in my stomach as I think about them. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrible it must be to say goodbye to your child. Literally, I can’t imagine it, it’s an unfathomable thought.
I was looking at my son (4) as he was laying on my bed and talking to his blanket tonight and thinking about how happy my family makes me. I can’t be thankful enough for having 3 healthy, wonderful kids. So I write this post with mixed feelings. I said in my first post that I should be grateful for the great family that I have. Today is a solemn reminder that I had better remember that. It’s just horrible that it sometime takes news like this to wake us up.
Turns out this being grateful stuff isn’t that bad when you start thinking about it. I know I’m technically obligated to come up with something everyday, but I’ve had a few days where it’s been pretty easy.
I took the day off from work yesterday to take the kids to the city (San Fran) and spend the whole day doing touristy stuff. We live 20 minutes from one of the best cities on earth and we take advantage of it way too infrequently. So we went to the city yesterday and visited the California Academy of Sciences, had lunch at the Ferry building, rode the trolleys, went back to school shopping at Union Square. After all of those great things, I asked the kids what the favorite part of the day was and they all agreed. It was the 3 blocks that they rode the subway back to our car. After all of the fancy expensive stuff, all they cared about was the $7 subway ride that lasted 5 minutes. That’s the beauty of childhood. All that matters is what matters.
It really was a great day.
You know how some people look at the world through rose colored glasses? I’m not one of those people. I’m definitely also not one of those people who thinks everything stinks, but I admit that I’m always looking towards what’s next instead of stopping and appreciating what I have. This annoys my wife to no end. We always talk about how grateful we should be that we have a great family, three wonderful healthy kids, a house, a good job, etc, etc, but I rarely really stop and do that. Every time I hear about something bad happening to a friend or hear about sick children I stop briefly and thank my lucky stars, but then I run off to chase the next opportunity.
Tiny Prints is launching a new challenge that’s created to help us all look at the brighter side of life and I’ve been asked to participate (http://www.gratitudechallenge.com/). I’m the perfect candidate for this exercise. It will definitely be hard to stop everyday for 21 days and note what I’m grateful for. No doubt there will be something to be grateful for every day, but none of us are great at seeing what those things are regularly (especially me), but we all know they are out there. I’m looking forward to stopping and recognizing these things everyday. And I’m sure this will make my wife very happy.
I know, I’m blogging. I would have started with my own blog sooner, but I didn’t have anything of value to say. Yesterday, however, I came up with lots of interesting and important things to share with the world so I thought I better create this blog to make sure everyone has an opportunity to share in my wisdom.