Live, Love, Laugh

PonderingI’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and waxing poetic with my son on life, parenting, work, relationships, etc. Life comes at you in stages and you’re forced to make decisions that you never wanted to.

Stage 1: Marriage

About 8 years ago it was my divorce. I had to figure out whether or not I could handle being a ‘weekend’ father or a single one. I chose the latter because I couldn’t possibly live without my kids.

During the divorce, I had to figure out what kind of man I was going to be. Was I going to be an angry ex-husband that dragged his ex in and out of court, bad-mouthed his ex to his kids, or was I going to take the blessing of having my kids and take the high road. I believe I took the high road. I still talk to my ex-wife often and even pray for her family at times I know they’re struggling. The truth is, it takes much less energy this way and my kids are much better off for it.

Stage 2: Work

At work, I’ve had to make decisions as well. I’ve left more than a few great jobs in the past decade. I left one because I knew I was never going to be what my boss wanted me to be. I left another one recently because I wasn’t personally fulfilled. I’m in a fantastic job now that’s challenging me every single day… but I’m realistic that I probably won’t be here a decade from now, either.

It’s not that I have doubts, it’s just that I am more comfortable with my ‘niche’ in Marketing and Technology. I like moving quickly at work. When things slow down and companies need those skills that don’t interest me, I realize it’s time to move on (inside or outside). I have figured out that when I work on my strengths, I’m a much happier person than when I’m worrying about my weaknesses.

Stage 3: Family

I’m approaching 40 now and have come to a point in my life where I have to make decisions with my relationships as well. In the past, I’ve expended a lot of energy on having a family that’s ‘proud of me’. In many ways, their opinion was more important than my own. In time, I realized that they measured success much different than I ever did.

My success is measured by my children’s happiness, the quality and quantity of solid friendships, my network of associates, the respect I get at work, and the products and services I deliver every day. You might notice that title, fame or fortune weren’t in there. They were not, and won’t ever be.

As a result, my decision has been to leave people behind that are trying to drag me down instead of lift me up. I respect, love and pray for them, but I’m just not going to expend energy on trying to make them happy anymore. If I’m not successful in their opinion, they can keep their opinion. I’m responsible for my happiness and they should accept responsibility for theirs.

As a father, I’m thrilled with who my kids currently are, and I love them unconditionally. Our conversations on a daily basis are about what they succeeded at doing, not on their failures. That said, I am tough on my kids if they aren’t living up to their potential, though.

My daughter’s grades dropped significantly last week. I think the majority of it was that her social life had become more important than her school work. It pained her when she got her grades, though. She cried all day because she’s typically an A/B student. It wasn’t how disappointed I was that was apparent, it was how disappointed she was.

Katie loves leading in class and hates to be at the bottom. We made some changes – no visiting friends on weeknights and no make-up. Make-up was the tough one… I really thought she was going to burn holes in me with her eyeballs. Within the week, though, her grades started to come back. She’s not burning holes in me anymore, and even laughed at me the other day in the car.

It’s a tough high wire act, but I’m doing my best to accentuate the positive, not the negative. I’m trying to steer them in the direction of the beautiful sea, not always reminding them of the storm behind them.

As my kids grow comfortable with who they are, I grow more fond of who they are becoming. They amaze me every day. I have incredible kids… but I don’t have any misconceptions of who ‘I think they should be’ or ‘how they should act’. That’s for them to figure out. If they’re happy with themselves, their direction in life, and with me… then I’m happy for them. The best way I can teach them is by showing them how I am acting. Buddha said, “Whomever sees me sees my teaching.” I couldn’t agree more.

Stage 4: Joy

I remember a comment a while back from good ‘virtual friend’, William who asked, “Why do Christians always have to identify themselves?”. I never answered the question because I had to think a lot about it. He was right. Many Christians announce who they are with a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. William has every right to challenge folks on this. If you put yourself on a pedestal, be prepared to answer why you’re there!

I want people to know I’m Christian – not because it’s who I am but because it’s who I hope to be one day. I need help with my life. I want to be a kind person. I want my friends to recognize me as one who cared, put a smile on their face, or inspired them to do something different with their lives. As I sit at work working with a stubborn vendor or a bug that I’m troubleshooting in circles, it’s easy for me to forget the big picture and utter a few words. It’s easy for me to get angry at the people at the company that are giving me a hard time.

My (limited) view of the teachings I believe in tell me that those people at that other company are probably working hard, have challenges they’re trying to overcome, and they deserve my patience and respect. If I tell you I’m a Christian, it opens me up for criticism when I’m being a hypocrite. I am often a hypocrite (too often) so feel free to let me know that I’m not being a good Christian, even if you don’t have the same beliefs as me.

If I can figure stage 4 out, I’ll leave this world a very, very happy person. I know that I’ll experience true joy… I’ve seen that kind of joy in other people and I want it for myself. My faith tells me that this is something that God wants me to have. I know that it’s something that is there for the taking, but it’s difficult to spurn bad habits and change our heart. I’ll keep working on it, though.

I hope this wasn’t too gushy a post for you. I needed to vent a little about my family issues and writing transparently helps me a lot. Perhaps it will help you, too!


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    GREAT post! And I love knowing that I’m not the only parent that punishes by taking away the makeup. My daughter thinks eyeliner is her best friend. It’s amazing how quickly she “gets it” when she’s not allowed to have it. 🙂

    • 2

      Eyeliner is the father-of-a-13-year-old’s enemy. 🙂

      I think make-up is a slippery slope. I’ve never been a fan of a lot of make-up and my theory is that women use more and more because they get desensitized to how beautiful they really are. So… if you’re 13, you wind up looking like a Picasso by the time you’re 30.

      With a make-up break, I’m hoping Katie can see how beautiful she is and then use less later.

      • 3

        I agree. Although my daughter’s eyeliner skills came in very handy tonight as I was getting ready for the Heartland Film Festival Crystal Heart Awards gala. She proclaimed that I was “doing it wrong” and proceeded to very tastefully make up my eyes. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of makeup, mostly b/c I don’t like spending the time on it. Many women that put it on with a trowel should stop b/c they are actually very beautiful underneath. You’re a good father for trying to teach your daughter what beauty really is.

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    Wow, what a post Doug! I really like your attitude.

    You know, there’s a great overlap between Christianity and Islam when it comes to family and social values. A lot of what you said you believe in exemplify many of Islam’s teachings. It’s funny that sometimes non-Mulsims like you do a better job of demonstrating Islamic values than some Muslims themeselves.

    So for this, I salute you! Keep up the positive attitude. You’re a great blogger, and you sure as hell sound like a hell of a dad.

    • 5

      Thanks AL,

      It’s funny you say that. I have read the Qur’an and have some friends that are Islamic. Every time we get together we find so much in common between our religions. Thanks for your compliments as well – I don’t think I’m as a good a parent as I could be, but I am trying!

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    Sorry to say it, but this post has me debating whether to unsubscribe or not – for a few reasons:

    1. This is a blog about marketing (or that is my impression). While it’s fine to add personality and fine to mention your beliefs, a long post about religion turned me off.

    Don’t get me wrong; religion is fine and I respect your beliefs. But religion is personal, and I don’t really think it has a place on a business blog. If I wanted to read about religion, I’d subscribe to blogs with religious views.

    2. Writing about a teenage girl crying all day over bad grades makes me feel sick to my stomach. The kid isn’t disappointed, she’s most likely scared of your reaction!

    3. Writing about punishing a kid for bad grades after she cried all day (which isn’t really a normal teenage girl reaction) makes me feel even sicker. Punish someone when they’ve done something wrong and don’t regret it, sure. But when someone has made a bad choice, realized it, learned from it and is ready to do better next time, leave it at that. Let the girl build confidence. Let her do better because she wants to – not because she’s scared of punishment.

    I respect that you may or may not agree with me. I just thought you might like to know why this blog post missed the mark completely with me.

    • 7

      Hi James,

      Thanks for taking the time to write. If you feel compelled to unsubscribe, I’d be sorry to see you go but I’m okay with that. This is not a corporate blog, it’s a personal one. As such, I advise my readers on my craft but I’m also transparent in relaying my beliefs with my readers.

      Over time, I’ve become great friends with readers of my blog – mostly in part to the fact that I share both my work and my life with my readers. I do; however, keep my personal posts in my “Homefront” category so that you can avoid reading them if you’d like.

      I respect your opinion on what happened with my daughter as well. My daughter isn’t locked up anywhere :), she has quite a setup… cell phone, mp3 player, computer, television, etc. so she’s hardly ‘punished’ although taking away makeup was what gave her a hard time. I can guarantee you that she is not afraid of me. She may get upset if she thinks she disappointed me, but I’ve never given Katie a reason to be ‘scared’.

      I’m not so sure, at 13, I should have ever allowed her to put on makeup but she’s a good girl with good grades and a great attitude – so I try to give her the freedom she wants. When she shows me she can handle it, I never put boundaries on her. If you’re a parent, you know how difficult these situations are.

      I hope you stick around and get to know me! There’s good info on this blog and I love to share what I learn in the industry.


  4. 8

    Fair enough, Doug. I have a business blog as well with a category called “Personal Ramblings” for the same kind of stuff. The site’s layout and coverage so far had given me the impression it was a strictly business blog.

    I find myself in a very odd position on the Internet. I’m Canadian, and our culture tends to be far more quiet about religion than our American neighbors, many of which who tend to be quite extremist (in my opinion, and I’m not saying you’re extremist). I respect people’s beliefs and have my own as well, I just don’t like being force-fed.

    Unfortunately, that extremism has left me very wary of being bible-thumped, and my radar for the incoming thumping seems to be set on high sensitivity. So if I won’t get thumped here, I’ll stick around. Fair deal?

    As for daughters… It’s good to hear that you recognize teens need that freedom, and thanks for clearing that up. I firmly believe the tighter the leash, the more trouble parents set themselves up for. I also don’t “get” parents who wield a heavy hand with their kids. It just isn’t the answer.

    And…Got a 14-year-old and a toddler myself, so I can relate to the challenges of parenting and the power of makeup.

    Thanks again for your response. I had a bit (okay a lot) of a knee-jerk reaction to the post, so to share a little about me so you don’t think I’m a complete ass, read up on my post about knee-jerk reactions.

    • 9

      We Americans like to shove everything in everyone’s face – war, wealth, technology, music, religion… you name it and we’re proud of how bad we mess it up! When one of us is sincere, it’s difficult to take us serious.

      I lived in Vancouver for 6 years, graduating from High School there. In fact, my Mom’s side of the family are all Canadian. My grandfather is a retired officer from the Canadian forces. I’m a huge fan of Canada and can still sing the anthem (in English, I forgot the French version). My mother is Quebecois, born and raised in Montreal.

      I joke with my high school buddies that America couldn’t ask for a better toque than Canada!

      Thanks for your thoughtful response… I never took it that way at all.

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