Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My 'Life as a House'

In 2001, Kevin Kline starred in a movie about George, a divorced father in the final stages of his losing battle with cancer, trying to reconnect with his estranged 16-year-old son, while also rebuilding the broken pieces of his own past by tearing down the dilapidated house left to him by his abusive father, and building a new one in its place. If you haven't seen this amazing movie its worth a watch - mainly for the poignant final words spoken in the film as it fades to black.

The thrust of the tome serves as a window into the core of our struggle as humans - we're all doing our best with what we've been given, despite often appearing to be doing much less in the eyes of those who love and need us the most.

When George demands that his son join him for the summer to help finish building the house, he is met with huge resistance. George's son spends most of the summer trying to get out of the sun-up to sun-down work his father asks of him. By the end of the film, however, George reveals he is battling cancer and he needs his son to finish the house he won't be able to complete on his own. His son, struck by opposing feelings of rage, concern, and needful love, releases his final anger towards his father and becomes the caretaker his father could never be. The two reunite in a final effort to end the cycle of misunderstanding, rage, and abuse, and George's son comes to love his father in a way George's father never earned.

For me the film was the catalyst for my improved relationship with my dad; I was able to see my father as George, the tormented workaholic who was harder on himself than any member of his family, and as a result nearly lost everyone close to him because of his behavior. But my dad, like George, is really a good guy - talented and smart, funny and loving. It was his circumstances (demanding job, impossible home life growing up, demons of his own past behavior haunting him constantly) that kept him from enjoying a life free from the scorn of others he may have hurt. I came to know my father as a person, not an unreachable entity, and I realized that he - like all of us - is doing his best with what he was given to make it in this world.

He's a good man and a really good grandfather, and I'm so happy to have him in my life and in the lives of my children.

For my own story, I was determined to tear away the rotting wood, weak foundations, and leaky plumbing in my 'house' before it became an expensive tear-down. Part of that personal remodel for me was the understanding that while doing my best I am going to stumble, make mistakes with my children and wife, and not always be perfect... and that's okay. I'm doing my best with what I've been given, while seeking wisdom and growth - and that's enough.

What parts of your house need remodeling? Is your foundation strong enough to take on some renovations? Who will benefit from the new you? Wouldn't it be wonderful if at the end of your movie, when your house is complete, you've left a warm hearth in which your loved ones can find comfort?

Be your best!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crisis Management

Are you grateful for the bad as well as the good? To live life fully, understanding that a crisis can often turn into an opportunity for growth, is what will allow you to truly accept your life and find peace and joy despite obstacles. There is a great saying: We are never as happy or unhappy as we think we are. Wise words, and if you think about it, you'll see it's really true.

With a huge pit in my stomach I share with you that my wife and I found out that yet another family we are close to has a child who has been diagnosed with cancer. That makes 5 close friends of ours with kids who are going through some kind of treatment for cancer - none of them older than 8 years old.

When we heard the latest news, we were devastated for our friends. We collected our two beautiful children and hugged them tight, giving them every ounce of love, health, and abundance we could. But the parents of these children all have one thing in common my wife and I are certain we may not be able to possess: Resolve. None of them - NOT ONE OF THE PARENTS - has ever said to us "Why me? Why my child? This isn't fair!" Instead they have become advocates, leaders, experts at things called hydrocephalus and multiple myeloma. They research, investigate, probe, question, get 9 opinions, and demand the best from every doctor - all while remaining poised and positive for their stricken child. These ordinary folks have become leaders of their cause, advocates for their children, heroes to the rest of us. It's an incredible thing to witness.

I have learned so much about strength from people I would never judge for falling apart due to their circumstances. Instead I have seen these brave parents (and their brave children) rise to the challenges in front of them and I am humbled. And I am grateful for what I have.

The Chinese symbol for crisis is also the symbol for opportunity. Who are you in times of great challenge? What lemon in your life will you turn to lemonade today? And what are you grateful for right now? I wish all of you the best of health.

Be your best!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Apple of Your i

Apple just unveiled the new iPhone 4S today. It's faster, has better graphics, a better camera, and a voice activation feature that made one engineer in the Artificial Intelligence field stand up and clap.

Here's the link if you want to check it out:

So here we are - just a few short years from integrating machine and man to the point where we will be inseparable and I can't help but wonder... "is this a good thing, or not a good thing?"

No matter what, the technology will continue and generations after us will look at us as primitive monkeys with sticks fighting the future, afraid of change - just like we tend to do with those who came before us, so wondering if its right or not is simply a waste of spirit.

What we should be thinking about is what will be lost in the process of acquiring so much technology. What part of ourselves may soon disappear much like a vast percentage of our vocabulary has in the last 100 years. And not just what we say, but whether we say it or not is in jeopardy. As we connect more than ever before humans are standing back from each other socially, and that's, well, disappointing to me. It seems easier to text someone when you're breaking up with them than to do it face to face.

Human face-to-face interaction is still the best way to connect with someone. After all 93% of all communication is non-verbal, and by texting and typing and emailing everybody, we're only getting 7% of the messages intended, and that can lead to a kind of loss you may not have even been aware of feeling.

Next time you see a neighbor on the street, or a friend, or have the opportunity to get out of your house and see someone - do it. The heart can't be warmed by "LOL" and there's nothing that can replace a smile - certainly not ":-)"

Know yourself, don't NO yourself
-Coach Steve