Some thoughts on turning 30:
Well today is the big day… yep I’m officially 30. It’s odd how officially entering into a new decade of age makes you feel suddenly older, even though in reality I am just a day older than I was yesterday, because we each are continually traveling upon the path towards, “that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” (Shakespeare-Hamlet).
I’ve noticed over the past few years that time seems to be speeding up. When I was in my early 20′s making plans for a few years down the road, or pushing something off for another year, didn’t seem like that big of a deal. However, I have become more acutely aware of the math, where our son John who was born in July will be 18 when I’m 48, and that if we wait a few more years to have another child it would mean that I will be in my 50′s by the time he or she will be 18 and moved out of the house, or where even buying a new house on a 30 year note would mean that I’d be in my 60′s when I pay it off! (unless I make extra payments off course).
Turning 30 is also an odd feeling for me because in all likelihood I’m not 1/2 way to retirement (unless I win the lottery), but I’ve almost definitely lived over a 1/3 of my life. Also, while in the past few years I’ve been acutely aware of the need to live in the now and enjoy life since we never know when we may die tragically or unexpectedly from something like a heart-attack or a traffic accident, it is odd to run the math and know that even if I avoid unexpected endings and health issues, I’ve already consumed at least a 1/3 of my life’s gas tank.
However, I am lucky in that I’ve lived a pretty good life thus far, and I’ve checked a lot of my goals and to-do’s off: I have a wonderful family with a beautiful wife and two sons, and amazing friends. I’ve accomplished the goal going to law school and I’m now a practicing attorney, I’m a published author with a book, and over 30 print magazine and journal articles in addition to numerous web articles (not including this blog), which is astounding because I used loath writing in high school and college, much to the dismay of my mother who taught English for over 30 years.
So I have a lot of things to be thankful and grateful for, and here are my 10 reflections and tips on turning 30 (In no particular order).
1. Surround yourself with good friends- I can’t stress this enough. Surrounding yourself with good friends will help you stay positive when times get rough, and they will be there when it is time to celebrate the good times.
2. Find a creative outlet- I think this is essential for helping you channel your feelings and thoughts, which will help you to stay balanced, and work through various thoughts and emotions. As I said, I used to hate writing; however, when I stopped thinking of writing as a chore or an assignment for work or school, and started using it as a creative and expressive outlet, my perspective changed, and I couldn’t imagine hanging up my keyboard.
3. Believe in Yourself- Put yourself out there and stop being afraid of rejection. Many of the achievements that I’m the most proud of have began with more than a little self-doubt. However, I have always tried to accomplish whatever I’ve put my mind to, and the first step is believing that you actually CAN accomplish anything you put your mind to.
4. Be Yourself- Don’t try to be somebody else, or try to be someone that somebody else wants or expects. We are each unique people, and if you are going to be truly happy you must simply be yourself, and work to be the best person you can be.
“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”. – Oscar Wilde
5. Be Open Minded- Strive to be open to ideas, concepts, and viewpoints that you may be initially opposed to or uncomfortable with. By being open minded you open yourself up to a world of possibilities and truths that you would otherwise miss.
6. Constantly explore- Don’t be afraid to explore not only the world around you, but yourself. Beauty surrounds us, and is within us, we only need to explore and appreciate it.
7. Just Do It- Set goals and adopt a “just do it” attitude. Life is short, so make the most of it. If you want to do something, or if you have a goal, instead of sitting around thinking about it and eventually putting hopes and dreams on a shelf to gather dust, start working on achieving them… right now.
8. Take a Birds-Eye Perspective of Things- I have often found that taking a step back in order to take a birds-eye view of my life, events, goal progress, etc., is extremely useful in taking my own thoughts and emotions out of the equation, which helps to look at things more objectively. If you wouldn’t approve of or appreciate something if someone else were doing it, you shouldn’t do it either.
9. Cut-Out the Negative- Again, life is short. As I have gotten older I have lost tolerance for negative people and things in my life. While I am all about trying to help others and rectify situations, at a certain point you have to cut loose negative people and things from your life.
10. Live Your Legacy- Once again, life is short. In addition to living a happy life, I really strive to live the kind of life that will leave a positive legacy for my children, and those that know me. I think this is really the glue that holds most of this list and my current path together for me. Keeping in mind that everyday is an opportunity to live and leave a legacy for my children helps me seek out and explore the world, set and achieve goals, and be the best person and father I can be.
Everybody strives to be perfect in one way or another. We strive to have the “perfect” friendships, family, job, hobbies, etc. We also strive for perfection in our actions.
As a society we encourage and even demand not only perfection, but also that individuals constantly “reach for the stars”, and have “go big or go home” attitudes. However, the problem with this type of mentality is that many of us end up constantly feeling as if we are failures because we haven’t reached the stars, or we didn’t “win” somehow.
At its core, perfectionism is rooted in our own feelings of inadequacy. While we may strive to appear perfect to the external world, what a perfectionist is really doing is putting a nice façade on inner wounds, insecurities, and feelings of self-doubt and low self-worth. This is why so many perfectionists have a hard time keeping friends, dealing with criticism, or even taking advice from other people without thinking that it is a personal affront.
The truth is that there is no such thing as “perfect”. If we constantly strive for perfection, we will just end up being a perfect mess.
Everybody makes mistakes and we all do things that we regret. I can’t tell you how many times I have came down too hard on my son, said something stupid or insensitive to my wife or a friend, lost my temper, or just flat-out failed at something… all in the past week. The key is to not dwell on the mistakes or imperfections of life. We should strive to learn from our mistakes or missteps, and try not to repeat them. Beating ourselves up over stumbles and missteps only contributes to feelings of being a “failure”, or somehow “not good enough”. Read more…
In the hustle and bustle of life, I have often found that the little rituals of life that I have setup not only help ground me, but also help to nourish various parts of my life, by maintaining important bonds with my friends and family. For example:
1) Every morning, when I get to the office, I always have my first cup of coffee in silence, before I even turn my computer on. This lets me relax, and focus on the tasks at hand, as well ground myself.
2) On days when I can, I always try to set aside 10 to 20 minutes during lunch for meditation or contemplation.
3) Every Tuesday or Thursday, my in-laws host a big family dinner. While this may seem horrible to many people, I am blessed to have great in-laws, and it is always a great time to catch-up and just spend time together.
4) Every Friday I try to have a big lunch with friends. This gives us a chance to catch-up, and stay connected. Some Friday’s we may have four people, and some Friday’s it may be standing room only, but no matter what it is a great time!
5) Every Saturday morning my son and I go to the doughnut shop together. While not the healthiest ritual, it gives us a chance for “guy time” as my four year old calls it. We talk about the previous week of school, and our big plans for the weekend.
6) I am extremely lucky that I married someone who likes college football almost as much as I do. So when football season comes around we will try to get all of our chores done by 11:00 am, so that we can watch the first kick-off, and generally we will stay up until the last game is over.
While these little rituals may seem trivial, they have become very important to my life, and they each serve a unique purpose. I often hear people say that they don’t have time to take care of themselves, to meditate, to spend time with friends, or to spend time with their families. I have found that I have to make time for myself, my friends, and my family. I have a very hectic work schedule, and with an almost two hour round-trip commute, I have to make a habit out of the little rituals that help fulfill and nourish the various areas of my life.
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” – Warren Buffett
A few weeks ago I was up all night with my newborn John. I had an extremely busy day planned, and no matter what i tried, he refused to go to sleep. As the hours ticked away, I could feel myself grow increasingly frustrated. I really wasn’t in the mood for this, I really didn’t have time for this, I really needed sleep so that I could go to work and be productive… Then it hit me. This will pass, and very quickly. Too quickly…
Obviously John wasn’t feeling well, and he was depending on me for comfort and care. While we were apparently getting our signals mixed, he still needed me, and I needed to let go of being frustrated. While I don’t relish sleepless nights with newborns, it seems like just yesterday I was on the alternating night shift routine with my wife, so that we could watch and take care of our oldest son Jase… and Jase started school two weeks ago.
I remember with Jase I couldn’t wait for his next stage of development. I couldn’t wait until he slept all night, I couldn’t wait until he ate solid food, could crawl, walk, be potty-trained, etc. Looking back, most of my anticipation seemed to be driven by more than a dash of selfishness. Once he slept all night, so could I. When he could crawl and then walk, I wouldn’t have to carry him everywhere. Eating solid foods meant I wouldn’t have to constantly prepare and clean bottles. Once potty-trained, I no longer had to check and change diapers every few hours. To say that children grow up too quickly may seem like a cliche, but just looking back over the past 4-1/2 years of Jase’s life, I can tell that it is true.
It is easy to practice mindfulness (the practice of being fully present in each moment), during slow times, meditation, or while conducting a relaxing activity; however, I think that mindfulness is especially important when interacting with our children, no matter how young or old. By being fully present in the moment, we are fully present in life. By being fully present as a parent, we are fully present in our children’s life, which is the most important thing we can do, because only then can we fully interact with our children the way that parents should. Parenting can be tiring and frustrating, but it really is the most important job we have, because our children are mirrors that reflect the lessons and general environment that we provide for them. Our parenting also has a definite impact on the type of adults that our children will grow to be. Will they be impatient, and quick to anger, or will the be kind and understanding? Read more…
Today I ran across two particularly interesting quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh that really resonated with me.
“People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.“
“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”
These two quotes really resonated with me because the theme of how the internal path is reflected into the external world, and vice versa, has been a recurring theme for me this week.
First, leading up to, during, and after the North Carolina constitutional amendment this week that bans same-sex marriage, there was a huge amount of vitriol being spewed forth by conservative talking heads regarding the issue. Just watching the conservative political pundits and politicians speak about the amendment and issues facing the LGBT community, I was really struck by the amount of true hate that many of these people had. Even those that cloaked their opposition to LGBT rights in politically correct niceties such as “I’m not anti-gay, I’m pro traditional values”, seemed to harboring a great deal of resentment to a group of people that in no way poses any actual harm or threat to anyone. Period. Even though these people were clothing themselves in the cloak of righteousness, they were (and are) suffering because of the anger and ill-will that their views create internally and externally, whether or not they want to admit it, or even realize it. These people are not only experiencing internal conflict and turmoil, but externally they are influencing and/or governing over a society that is also full of conflict and turmoil. The vitriol is now ramping up even higher, because President Obama (thanks largely to Vice-President Biden’s horrid Washington D.C. sin of a truthful tongue slip), has finally came out in support of the right for same-sex couples to get married.
Now then, admittedly I generally fall into the libertarian portion of the scale when it comes to social issues, because I feel that as long as you aren’t hurting me, or anyone else, I don’t really have the right to force you to live your life a certain way, nor do I have the right to force my version of morality on you. However, no matter what end of the political spectrum you fall into, it shouldn’t be that great of a stretch to realize that every human being is a person that has the same rights and emotional needs as anyone else, and they are entitled to those rights and the fulfillment of those needs no matter their race or gender, or their sexual, religious, or political preferences.
Please check out this great story that my wife posted on her blog (www.sweetnscrappy.com).
Since my wife and I both work, ever since our son was born we have had a young Mennonite girl watch our son during the day. Unfortunately Ms. Megan is leaving us for Iowa. She and her family have been a huge part of our lives, and we are extremely thankful for their love and the wonderful impact that they have made on our son. Luckily, Ms. Megan’s mother, Anita, has agreed to continue watching our son, but Ms. Megan will be missed very much!
It is amazing how people who were once strangers can become so intertwined in our lives, that they become family to us, and impact our lives in ways that we could never have expected.
Not to be too cliche, but when we have a village, our lives are all the richer!
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Also please check out my book, “The Path: Using the Religions of the World as a Guide to Personal and Spiritual Development.” (Click on the book cover to view on Amazon.com)
I love springtime. I love the cool rainy weather, and how all of the various plants literally spring back to life with vivid shades of color. Spring is also a time for birth and renewal, and because of this every culture and spiritual tradition has celebrated spring with various festivals, rituals, observances, and rites of passage. The festivals of the world celebrate the transition from winter, a time of scarcity and harshness, to spring which is a time of plenty as well as physical and spiritual renewal. The power of spring is best illustrated by the various religious festivals, celebrations, and holidays. Read more…
Well, after four days of fun, fellowship, education, and spiritual growth with my Scottish Rite brethren, I decided to get caught up on my blog reading. Much to my surprise, two of my favorite blogs nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award! This is a real treat for me because I absolutely love both of the blogs that nominated me.
I was nominated by:
A Second Cup- This is a wonderfully refreshing blog, where the author mixes various musings and insights into eclectic and humorous posts about life spiritual practices. I really enjoy reading this blog over my first (and sometimes second, or third, or fourth…) cup of coffee, and it never fails to make me smile and/or provide me with material to reflect upon.
Zen Being- This is a great blog which applies Buddhist teachings and practices to every day life. I always enjoy reading this blog, and I find the author’s insights to be extremely helpful and meaningful. This blog has continually helped me to continue striving to live in the now, and simply “be”.
Part of the nomination involves naming 7 blogs that I enjoy, other than the ones that recommended me, thus nominating them for this award: Read more…