Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

To be better.

It's early. I'm working downstairs. Bea whimpers and moans upstairs, most likely her covers are strewn about; she doesn't get pulling them back on yet. Mama gets up to get her, to pull her into our bed and go back to sleep.

My parents are sleeping in our new garage guest room. They'll be heading out today after spending over a week with us for Christmas, of which my sister and kids actually joined us for, even if it was only for a few hours on Christmas day. Never thought it would happen anytime soon.

And it was only two years ago this morning that the pregnancy test was positive.

Never say never when raising the ever-amazing and tasty bittersweet life-sicle-cycle high above the head. This is why, per my favorite writer, I identify with being a rational romantic mystic cynical idealist.

Cynicism wanes this time of year for me, though. It's always been my favorite time of the year; I really do strive to find and live the essence of Christmas and New Year's each and everyday. Everyday is Christmas when you're your own personal Santa and Savior. Everyday is New Year's Day when you own your actions and reactions.

I'm so thankful that Mama, Bea and me are healthy, ready to take on 20-10 with the zest and zeal of nearly 7 billion New Year's Eve revelers, our hearts as big and bold as balls of fiery crystal falling fast to ignite the center of the earth.

But yesterday a dear old friend of mine shared that her daughter now has hearing loss in both ears and will have to wear hearing aids, and the doctors think it's progressive. As she put it, "For someone that followed all the rules for a healthy pregnancy and goes organic much of the time, the new reality took a little time to adjust to."

Anger at the universe, grief and sadness. Then she said:

"She is my little hero...I want to promote a can-do, positive attitude and be her role model. So, onward we go for a new road in 2010."

Because that's a choice, and one that reminds me of why we've evolved, of why we're here. We shake our heads at the tragic alternatives that play out around us, but we can elevate and rise above.

Our children are our heroes and we are theirs.

God empowers us; we empower God.

To be better.

Happy New Year my dear friends and family. Be better.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Year One: Silent Shriek, Holy Shriek

Do you have the Santa pictures from 1-10?

How many of them were you crying in? Probably the early years for sure. My first couple were huge criers and after my sister was born my mom had us take the Santa pics together and her first two were the same.

I need to get copies of those; my mom has them safely tucked away in one of many memorable family albums. Good times.

Now we've started our own Santa series with Beatrice.

Year One: Silent Shriek, Holy Shriek

Merry Christmas! We hope you're feeling the holiday love. We're sharing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Because it's for our children, the malleable essence of us.

I'm going to take this time to work on healing my family and be a better husband and father.

Tiger Woods was quoted as saying something to that effect recently.

Really. And it's been bugging the crap out of me ever since.

Why didn't he make the time before all this? Before the alleged affairs and his supersonic fall from grace?

We don't know for sure what specifically may or may have happened over the years in Tiger's life. Or in Mark Sanford's life. Or in John Edward's life. Or in too many others.

But we do know of their infidelities.

I know my birth father was a big womanizer when he was married to my mom, along with being an abuser.

I had my own bouts of under-the-table behavior while pretending to be the golden boy everybody loved, crashing and burning like the rest of these wretches.

We get caught. Maybe we feel pangs of guilt prior, maybe not. Maybe its the holidays that drives sentimentality to the surface.

That's the way it was with my birth father.

I'm so sorry. I'm going to stop drinking and be a better husband and father.

Merry Christmas, right? But nothing ever changed post December 25. The same behaviors resumed - the affairs, the domestic violence, the drinking.

One of my dear friends posted this quote in Facebook this morning:

"The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats."

--Theodore Roosevelt

If more fathers aspired to be better, took responsibility and made actual changes in their lives for the better - learned to trump their genes - then the thousand repulses and defeats would be worthwhile to their families, even if their marriages can't withstand it.

Because it's for our children, the malleable essence of us.

Merry Christmas Daddies. Live life like it's golden.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

That's the magic of Christmas. And keys.

For Beatrice, there is no yesterday or tomorrow. There isn't even today.

There's only now.

Which is why it's fascinating to watch her play, explore and learn. The series of the most inconsequential discoveries to us are heavenly revelations to Bea.

As it should be. That kind of mindful presence unearths the purest learning and awareness, the God-light empowered.

That's how Bea came to be actually. A series of self-aware events, even inconsequential at first, that eventually amassed critical to the eventual conception.

Most of us struggle with this kind of focus, and it's always the holidays that increases our focal strength, sometimes painfully so, the reflection of what we're not more powerful than what we are.

Bah-humbug, depression or worse. Just watch It's a Wonderful Life or The Family Man a few hundred times and you can join me in the bawl-fest to end all bawl-fests. Or listen to Linus tell the Christmas Story.

*sniff* *snort* *sigh*

Now our little explorer has found an undying fascination with keys. Our car keys in particular, the ones with the buttons that lock and unlock the doors, open the trunks, set the alarms off.

You know, the metaphorical gift that keeps on giving, opening doors to things we want to see, and things we don't.

Watching Bea take the keys and try to open our front door is priceless to me. Yes, I know that everything our baby does is priceless, but when I play out the metaphor in the dust-bunny filled nooks and crannies of my mind, I am God-light empowered.

The keys of quiet discovery glean insight to now.

That's the magic of Christmas. And keys.

video

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blown fuses and a melted daddyboard. Nothing family time can't fix.

It's like that.

After a couple of weeks of heavy daddy reflection, falling Bea's and bangs and bruises (again with the never-ending falling), crazy busy client projects and new client launches, and a weekend of whirlwind Christmas parties and holiday faires, daddy blew fuses in his frontal lobes and the daddyboard melted down.

And he threw up a little Christmas in his mouth.

Daddy needed a rebuild and a recharge.

Christmas party bowling was part of it. I prefer Wii bowling, but after over a decade of not stepping into a bowling alley, real bowling was a lot of fun. No, the pink ball wasn't mine.

But yesterday morning after a rough night of sleep for all of us, Mama was in baby's room early to sooth that savage teething beast. The baby monitor was still on and I could hear Mama and Bea cooing with each other, and then softly Mama said:

"Daddy. Sweetie."

The morning call that makes it all worthwhile. Fixed with family cuddle time -- then the morning song and the day has begun!

A day full of wonder and lots of good fun, let's get up, get going, the day has begun!

It's like that. Let's do it all again.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

For fear of phantom fathers past

2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, November 28.

I woke up hot and sweaty and freaked out.

Freaked out because I night-daydream time traveled again, imagining when I'll be 61 and Beatrice will be a senior in high school, hoping I'll be physically healthy, that me and Mama will be financially sound, and that all my mental faculties will be intact.

Like Alice in Wonderland outgrowing a room, my mind pushed beyond its skull and filled our bedroom with palatable distress, thick as goo with a sickly fluorescent green glow.

Mama was in Bea's room tending to baby's teething pain. Amy's amazing. I think she wears a cape and can bend steel.

I laid in bed drenched in my own paralytic ectoplasmic fear.

Fear of whether or not I'll be here when Bea's older. Fear of whether or not I'll be a good father in the long run.

It's how I felt most of the first 12 years of my life - full of fear. Shitty fathers and abuse and neglect netted nothing in the realm of positive male role models.

I modeled some of the bad stuff for years – my 20’s were a wasteland, my early 30’s were the transformation – until I finally took ownership of myself and my actions and the results of those actions. That was phase 1. Meeting Amy was part of that.

Phase 2 was when we had Beatrice. It’s a whole different ballgame now and my personal mission is to help other men and fathers be personally responsible and elevate their behavior to self-respect, respect of others and non-violent reactions to life and loved ones.

Still doesn't stop me from freaking out. We may even have a second child. I embrace it. Still doesn't stop me from freaking out.

When I woke up like I did the other night, for fear of phantom fathers past, I was very scared.

Thank God there are millions of men breaking the cycles of violence and neglect in their families. My friend Laurie talked about this very subject this morning in her Punk Rock HR blog.

My Post-T-Day angst is normal I know. 'Tis the season for trials and tribulations that culminate in a slingshot New Year's flight into the future. Time travel is a bitch.

But I'm ready. I've never been more ready. I'm the dad I never had, and now Bea has me.

Mocha Dad shared his families' thankful box story last week and I'm making one for our family. That way we can add notes sharing why we're thankful and read them every Thanksgiving. How appropriate is it that I'm using the box that Bea's bee mobile came in. Love it!

My first entry: I'm thankful for being a good daddy.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Snapdragons and Psychic Wars: They happen. We're human. We're humbled. Hopefully.

You see me now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars
My energy's spent at last
And my armor is destroyed
I have used up all my weapons and I'm helpless and bereaved
Wounds are all I'm made of
Did I hear you say that this is victory?
--Blue Oyster Cult

I've been talking so much about personal responsibility and better parenting and mindful presence and owning your actions and reactions that I neglect to mention how snapdragons can lead to psychic wars.

We all need to nip them in the bud before they take over like weeds, no matter how harmless they seem.

What a buzz-kill for pre-T-day (Thanksgiving), but I'm grateful for awareness and acknowledgement of the dreaded snapdragons - the grumps. You know what I mean. They happen. We're human. We're humbled.

Hopefully.

How appropriate for the holidays don't you think? Especially now when we're doing more with less and the 24/7/365 world swallows us whole every day. It's a friggin' stressful time. We need a break without breaking.

Last Saturday night we went out to eat at our favorite Mexican place. I had to parallel park in the lot, which usually isn't a problem for me, but this time there was a big cement base around the light post we parked under.

That I didn't account for and I scraped the door.

Amy said, "I think I dinged the door."

I looked, cringed and closed my eyes. "Nope, that would be my shitty parking job."

Gotta watch that language around the baby, but too late. Not a scratch on the car to date and now there were two long and thin white gashes on the car door.

Not a big deal in the grander scheme, but I was bummin' grumpily during dinner. Tried to cover and mostly did except for a few snapdragons. Then as we were pulling out of the parking lot and I waited for the right traffic gap, the baby cranky herself ready to go home, Amy laid a few snapdragons on me.

If you don't acknowledge them and yank them from the ground, which we've learned to do, they will choke your love and relationships, leaving them in withered, blood-dried stalks.

Snapdragons can pop up anywhere at anytime. Fields of uncheck snapdragons lead to anger and resentment, and ultimately psychic warfare and its physical manifestation - violence and abuse.

And horribly mixed metaphors - my speciality. *sigh*

You get it, though. I am grateful for my loving wife who helped me learn to be direct and deal with the snapdragons as soon as they break ground. That is what we'll do our damndest to instill in Beatrice as well.

Happy Thanksgiving Kids. Enjoy the passion and elevate.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The tragic tale of the two-tooth duck-hungry zombie

Fourteen months from the womb and we're only two teeth into the light. As you can see from the photo above, Bea's punctures and gum gnawing don't pay off much other than soothing the teething beast.

We tripped out for a while that Beatrice only had two teeth to date, but then other friends told us their children went a lot longer before the bulk burst through.

Although the range of teeth growth can vary dramatically in the first three years of life, the vast majority of babies sprout their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age.

According to BabyCenter.com: while some babies breeze through the teething process, many seem to struggle with it and experience discomfort. Among the symptoms your teething baby may exhibit:

  • Drooling (which can lead to a facial rash)
  • Gum swelling and sensitivity
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Biting behavior
  • Refusing food
  • Sleep problems

There's debate among experts over whether certain problems — like diarrhea, fever, congestion, body rashes, and vomiting — can be caused by teething. A rule of thumb: If your baby has symptoms that worry you, don't just chalk it up to teething. Check with your doctor to rule out other potential causes that may need attention.

Most babies get new teeth in this order: First the bottom two middle ones, then the top two middle ones, then the ones along the sides and back.

Bea's bottom two are the ones that have come in so far and she continues to have her share of discomfort waiting the the others to pop.

So this is what Mama gives her as needed:

  • Frozen wash clothes
  • Teething rings
  • Frozen mango (yum)
  • Apples and whole banana with peel left on (odd)
  • Homeopathic teething drops
  • When all else fails, Baby Tylenol (especially in the middle of the night)

But what happens when your two-teeth baby turns duck-hungry zombie!

(For those of you who didn't know, zombies are the only "make-believe-scary" things that freak me out. Really. Yikes.)

Run! Run for your lives little duckies! Run for your lives!

Wait -- screw the ducks. I'm outta here!

video

Friday, November 20, 2009

Family, friends and workplace weave the safety net for victims of intimate partner violence

I posted a similar version of this on my firm's HRmarketer Blog, but I'm giving it a little personal twist for GOTG.

There really weren't any resources for my mother in 1972. She volunteered and then worked as a secretary for the local school district where I grew up, and every time my birth father beat her, there was full clothing to cover the bruises, avoiding others stares and conversation, absenteeism when it was really bad, and more.

There were no domestic violence or workplace violence programs, no employee assistance programs offering counseling or shelter referrals, no assessment and action plans from human resources.

Don't ask, don't tell. The fear and shame that comes with abuse and intimate partner violence is overwhelming enough (intimate partner violence another name for domestic violence) - you don't want your employer to know for fear of losing your job. Employers don't want to know for fear of potential violence in the workplace.

You don't want to tell your friends or family either - even when my grandparents did find out about my mom, they weren't exactly supportive at first.

For my mother and countless others it was faith and prayer and finally the personal strength to get out of the violence.

It still is, although today there are thankfully so many more resources available and more and more companies have workplace violence and/or intimate partner violence programs and/or EAPs. Family and friends need to wake up and be part of the solution as well.

Your workplace can and should take the lead in providing these programs, not only to protect the victims of domestic violence, but also to protect the workplace from the batterers. And for those of you who don't have these programs at your organizations, you should go to HR and your management team and request them.

Consider these:

  • A recent survey of CEOs found that most believe domestic violence to be a serious issue, yet 71% did not believe it is a problem in their company. (The reality is that approximately 21% of fulltime working adults report being a victim of domestic violence.)
  • Over 70% of United States workplaces have no formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence.
  • Of the approximately 30% that have formal workplace violence policies in place (usually binders on shelves gathering dust), only 13% have domestic violence in the workplace policies and only 4% provide training on domestic violence in the workplace (Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2006).

Only 4%. Seems like one helluva short trip from 1972.

And consider these EAP obstacles:

  • The most common reason women didn't contact their EAP for intimate partner violence is that they didn't think about it or didn't think appropriate.
  • Employee utilization of intimate partner violence EAP services is very low.
  • The number one concern of battered women before contacting an EAP is confidentiality -- they’re afraid employee will find out.
  • Most EAPs don't have standardized evaluations or codes for intimate partner violence.

But even considering there's much work to be done, human resources, security professionals, EAPs and workplace violence non-profits have all made huge strides in working together to address intimate partner violence and workplace violence.

One organization in particular - the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence - is the only national organization of its kind founded by business leaders and focused on the workplace. Check out some the companies that are members. I came in contact with this organizationearlier this year and was fortunate enough to participate in a few of their S2 - Safer, Smarter Workplace webinars. I was also fortunate enough to interview its Executive Director, Kim Wells (that'll be the next HR Market Share podcast after Thanksgiving).

Amazing employer resources come from the CAEPV. Download Six Steps to Creating a Successful Workplace Program here. Also, great list of dos and don'ts here.

EAPs play a critical role as well. One of my firm's clients - Corporate Counseling Associates - recently released a white paper titled Healthy Organizations Mitigate the Risk of Violence that includes several ways to reduce the threat of violence in the workplace:

  • Communicate a zero tolerance policy & develop ongoing employee communications to reinforce the message.
  • Set up company procedures for reporting incidents of violence.
  • Create a Threat of Violence (TOV) Team, involving members of the following departments: Health Services, Human Resources, Security, EAP, Legal, Facilities Management, Corporate Affairs, and Public Relations.
  • Establish organizational mechanisms to prevent violence.
  • Constantly monitor and identify “weak spots” in management practices and/or development programs.
  • Educate senior management on the warning signs and symptoms of violence-prone individuals, and the environmental pressures that can trigger incidents.
  • Train the TOV team to ensure a disciplined execution of strategy.
  • Learn how to de-escalate aggression and improve conflict management skills. Run crisis scenario simulations.
In fact, the latest S2 webinar was all about Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: An EAP/Employer Partnership.

We have come a long way from 1972. Family, friends and workplace weave the safety net for victims of intimate partner violence.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How can we find anything in a miasma of misfit toys?

We lost it. Then we found it. The water marking pen for the Aquadoodle.

But first we lost it. Filled it with water last night. Gave it to Bea to draw on the Aquadoodle, although she drags it down the couch, puts it in her mouth, pokes the cat with it - you name it.

We lost it. We looked for it in multiple waves of frustration and fear, anguish and anger, devastation and despair, but to no avail. Couldn't find the damn thing anywhere.

I retraced my steps, which meant nothing since I have no short-term memory. I dug through the living room toy boxes yet again, only to activate dozens of singing toys including the Sesame Street disco cube (or whatever the heck its called), a dozen LeapFrog products leaping and wailing, and other random nursery rhyme singing electronica sensations.

How can we find anything in a miasma of misfit toys?

It's funny, but when I searched online for "how to find lost things", one of the results I got was from eHow - How to Find Lost Items:

  • Check the usual places.
  • Retrace your steps.
  • Sit down and think it through.
  • Explore the obscure places.
  • Ask everybody who shares your space if they've seen it (don't blame - ha!).
  • Recheck the most likely places - again.
  • Maybe it's time for a de-clutter house cleaning.

And don't forget to check the nooks and crannies around the magical misfit toy chests.

That's where we found it. Beatrice, not in your mouth!

*sigh*


Sunday, November 8, 2009

The primordial wild-eyed gyrations of nonsensical screech and howl.


They've started. The primordial wild-eyed gyrations of nonsensical screech and howl.

Temper tantrums.

Amy tried to tell me they started this week when I was at a conference, but I kinda half-listened like the good husband I am.

We have a shelf of small pictures that Beatrice loves to look at and point, saying "dat" like "what's that". She really wanted one in particular earlier this week and so gave it to her and then Bea proceeded to whack Mama right on the upper lip.

Mama took picture frame away. Baby melted down. For a long time.

So Saturday morning Amy's cleaning the kitchen and I've got Bea trapped in book world and toy land (what used to be our living room). We use her bouncy to block the small passage from living room to dining room, in between the couch and the cuddle chair.

A couple of weeks ago Bea figured out how to break out, but we wedged it in even further to prevent passage.

Bea wanted to get to Mama in the kitchen and she'll wanted it now. She wriggled as far as she could between bouncy and couch, but I thwarted her efforts by dragging her back into the thunderdome.

Melt. Down. Shriek.

Her face beamed bright red and her Harry Potter scar glowed so intensely I frantically looked around to ensure there were no wands within reach.

I tried to console, I tried to misdirect, I tried to tie her to railroad tracks (no, I didn't do that) - but she was one unhappy lady bug. With fangs and bloodlust and the ability to levitate.

We survived (and so did Bea!). According to Anita Sethi, Ph.D. from Parenting.com:

Your child screams when he/she doesn't get things right away because he/she has no understanding of time and little reason to believe that another way might work.

Anita shared four great tips, some of which we've tried and will continue to try:

  • Show some empathy. Try something like "I know, you don't want your diaper changed." He won't understand the words, but he'll understand the tone of your voice and actions.
  • Try a new kind of distraction. If jingling keys and making funny faces aren't cutting it, a song can soothe, as can a little back rub or a change of scenery.
  • Keep calm. Sometimes babies throw tantrums because they're overstimulated, so taking a break from all your make-the-baby-smile tricks might actually help.
  • Stay a step ahead. If you know your baby is fascinated with the TV remote, make sure it's out of sight. If he screams in the high chair, let him eat with a lovey on the tray (more laundry for you, but less screaming!).

Otherwise, me need more wise magic! Year 2 is upon us.

video

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bea just woke up. When will everybody else?

I just put Beatrice down for nap. It's been a pleasure playing with her and watching her play on daddy daycare day, holding her close to me while she sucks her thumb and strokes her fuzzy (blanket). I've been gone all week on a business trip, so each day I longed to talk to her and Mama on speaker phone.

Through my entire crazy week, I kept thinking about the Jane Doe rape in Richmond on October 24.

I only heard about it last weekend and it floored me. It's been a bad enough recently with the unemployment numbers, the Fort Hood shootings and now the disgruntled ex-employee shooting in Orlando.

I have people in my life who have been assaulted, including children - boys and girls. It only takes one for me to know that we're far from being an elevated species.

What's even more disturbing to me is that the media coverage of unemployment and shootings completely overshadowed that of the Richmond rape.

I played with Bea for a couple of hours this afternoon - read books, chased her around the living, fed her lunch, put her to bed.

Jane Doe was raped for 2 1/2 hours by six maybe seven men while at least another dozen watched. She was betrayed by a supposed friend who was one of the attackers. She is 16 years old.

Yes, the victim has been getting lots of support and there have been local rallies and letters, but where's the broader intervention and outreach?

Where's the fucking national outrage? Really, where is it? We're angry when disease takes our loved ones and we wear the ribbons of cause, but who wears the purple ribbons?

I cry just typing this up. Earlier in the week and emailed journalist Patty Fisher from the San Jose Mercury News, the first article I read about the attack. I asked her if she could a follow up piece about what communities are doing to address this complete disregard for human dignity and the utter sexual objectification and lack of respect for women. She said she'd try.

It's hard enough raising girls, but Patty wrote something that struck me:

But I think it's even harder for parents of boys. How do you raise a son to be caring and responsible in a culture that too often portrays women as whores and men as warriors and thugs?

Why aren't parents taking more responsibility to instill love and respect in their children's hearts? Is it really those of lower socioeconomic status who breakdown in their parenting leadership ability? I don't think so. I think it can happen anywhere at anytime. Nobody in our world today deserves to be treated this way.

So for those of us - particularly parents or soon-to-be parents - who have the capacity to control our actions and choose the higher path of respect and dignity, we need a call to action of the highest order to change this behavior, to help curb as much of the violence we can, to work in our communities and our children until they understand what it means to elevate and not to hate.

Those who have lesser capacity and ability to do this need our help.

For my Christian friends and family out there, pray the prayers of personal strength and responsibility, because God empowers us with these and choice, the ability to elevate and the ability to teach.

I implore other daddy bloggers out there, Mocha Dad especially, to keep writing about domestic violence and abuse, to push for action and change, to get involved and make change.

I implore those of you who have been abusers, who have turned your lives around, to get involved in programs that educate and elevate others.

I've reached out to Frank Baird, the founder of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, to organize a Santa Cruz walk for the women, men and children in our communities who have been assaulted, abused and/or raped. I hope to hear from him soon.

Bea just woke up. When will everybody else?

You may be right,
it's all a waste of time.
I guess that's just a chance I'm prepared to take,
a danger I'm prepared to to face,
cut to the chase --
what kind of difference can one person make?
Cut to the chase.

--Neil Peart


Monday, November 2, 2009

Corporate family failure and Fail Spectacularly

The following is fun family fodder (for me anyway!) because of the Onrec/Kennedy Expo I'm heading to and is inspired by a fun event we're sponsoring called Fail Spectacularly. (And it probably wouldn't work on the HRmarketer blog.)

It's 1982.

My company is called Cleaning Right Industries.

My sister's is called CleanItFast.com (you can see how ahead of her time she was).

We were both vendors of choice for MomCo, a Fortune 500 conglomerate, a provider of shelter and sustenance and other delicious snacks.

MomCo send us an RFP about vacuuming the living room and the den (break room) - within the next hour. MomCo is throwing a dinner party and needs the living room vacuumed quickly but effectively too.

We respond in kind with our proposals. MomCo picks me. MomCo always picks me.

I take a little time, but I get it done right. One hour should be plenty of time.

The TV is on in the break room. MTV is on in the break room. There are only three videos that play in 1982 - Steve Miller Band's "Abracadabra", Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf", and The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star."

(Yes, there were more than that, but work with me.)

I've been vacuuming for 10 minutes. I need a break. MomCo's OSHA rules say so.

Sixty minutes later I'm humming "hungry like the wolf" and I've vacuumed an area the size of 4 square feet.

Not even close to being done.

Cleaning Right is fired, CleanItFast.com is hired.

There you have it. Video killed the cleaning right star.

Keep failing and keep reaching for the starts, kids!

(You can make fun of me now.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The two faces of parent-baby care, a curse and a blessing


Maybe I was too hard on them, my folks. It comes from a simultaneously selfless and selfish place, this frustration of best-worst-case scenario parent care with a baby, family and career in tow living 600+ miles apart. But they just want to see their children and grandchildren, to be with their families, and with so many families fragmented without, this love and longing is a blessing.

Playing with Bea on daddy daycare Friday, and then prepping for Halloween yesterday, I fast forwarded to when Bea will be 40 and I'm 84, Amy 79 (if we're so fortunate; I'm counting on fortune).

Hopefully we'll be healthy and independent, but what if we're not? We will become a burden to her? Will she help us selflessly as long as we work to help ourselves? We she vent on her holographic supersonic blog about us when we don't and make marginal decisions (I can't see all of the future, c'mon)?

Thankfully the worrisome time-travel bungee cord snapped me back in place and we had a fabulous Hallow's Eve!


From Princess Bacon to Pooh Bear Bee, Beatrice was a doll!


Even though she cackled with laughter when I kicked an immovable object full force with my right foot. Ouch. Hee-hee!

And even though she reveled in squishing pumpkin brain th

rough her tiny fingers and then ate it.

She survived her first trick or treat outing on the Santa Cruz Wharf and Mommy and Daddy ate all the candy. Yum.

In fact, starting next year we're enacting a mandatory processed candy for organic fruits and veggies exchange.

Hey, we care. A blessing indeed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

All about containment and sustained quality of life. Everything else can go to hell.

During the summer of 2002 I spent over 3 months living with my parents in Visalia, CA. I had been consulting and freelancing at the time - after my previous company beached itself - which is just another way for saying the partially employed unemployed.

But that's not why I lived with them. I actually lived in Santa Cruz with my then fiance now wife Amy.

No, my father was very ill and my parents were also caretakers of my grandmother at the time. My sister lived in a house behind my parents and definitely helped out, but she had two children of her own to care for.

We, however, had none.

It was a perfect storm that I could help my family traverse. My dad pulled through. Grandma went to stay with other family temporarily. I went home.

Fast forward to today: my parents live in Oregon, 13 hours away drive time, and although they have a loving and supportive church community network, the distance takes a caretaker toll on the family.

And we now, however, have a child. A baby. A wee little dependent one.

My mother's been in the hospital two times in the past month but we could only be there for one of them. They've actually both been in and out of the hospital over the past few years - remote and out of immediate view.

We're more involved in understanding their healthcare needs these days and doing what we can to help, but it's just not the same when you don't live next door or even in the same town. Goodness, an hour away would work.

I wrote about being a sandwich earlier this year - caring for parents and baby - and we've only just begun. Thankfully one or the other of my folks have been well enough to care for the other - never simultaneously.

Unfortunately they keep making lengthy necessary/unnecessary trips that increases exponentially the probability of disaster. I love my folks, but c'mon. If they were both healthy, wealthy and wise...

But if anything bad ever happened simultaneously, or singularly tragic, on the road and away from home, that's when the universe opens and swallows us whole; into the whale belly goes Jonah.

Saints we're not. I'm just all about containment and sustained quality of life for all of us. Everything else can go to hell.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bea safe. Bea now. That's risk enough for me.

Ah, such family frolic yesterday at the Heritage Harvest Festival at Wilder Ranch State Park. We enjoyed living history demonstrations on a once working ranch and other harvest-time activities.

Including eating a ginormous steaming ear of corn on a stick, slathered in butter. That's what the pioneers did, isn't it? That and corn dogs and garlic fries and pizza, right?

Beatrice got to see many farm animals up close, like cows and chickens and goats and horses -- one of her favorite books come to life sans the pig (Piggy Wiglet and the Great Adventure).

Plopping her in the middle of a pumpkin patch was the highlight for me. So much life already. So much life ahead.

Then it was nap time -- for baby, not me. Later our babysitter arrived and Mama and I took an afternoon date at the Free Wheelin' Farm art show where a good friend gave us a Numerology reading while a DJ mixed and pumped smooth R&B club-esque tunes on the edge of an organic farm on the ocean.

We live in Santa Cruz. C'mon.

But with all the numbers and speculation of what Bea will be, and who we've become, it got me spiraling mentally around a million little time travel doorways of choice and risk.

The futures market of memory must be tethered to presence, otherwise return is worry, sadness, maybe even a little madness.

I've had enough of that in my life - the worry, sadness and madness. I prefer the here-and-now investments that rock my daddy/husband heart.

Bea safe. Bea now. That's risk enough for me.

Queue the club-esque mix...




Friday, October 23, 2009

It's not okay to look the other way. Hope, Faith, Courage, Strength - right on!

Finally got my domestic violence awareness bracelets - Hope, Faith, Courage, Strength - right on. Honored to wear it!

Last week ballroom dancing champion and So You Think You Can Dance judge, Mary Murphy, came forth with her own horrifying experience with domestic violence.


She was repeatedly raped, beaten and even suffered a miscarriage during a hellish nine-year marriage in early '80s.

It's an unfortunately all-to-familiar story for those in abusive and violent relationships, particularly the female victims. The part that I want to focus on here though is the fact that her own parents encouraged her to go back to the relationship again and again to "work it out".

In another post I stated that let's stop failing these families and start helping them with outreach, education and prevention without regard to gender, sexual preference, cultural or religious biases.

And what's worse than our own families failing us? Really. My grandparents, who I loved dearly (God rest their souls), told my mom that she "had made her own bed" and had to deal with the abuse.

Her own bed that she made and lay battered in for 12 years before she finally found the courage to get us all out of there.

There's so much shame that comes with abuse - did we bring it on ourselves? Maybe I deserve it?

Again, I loved my grandparents and it was a different time but no one deserves to be abused. It's not okay to look the other way and say work it out.

Friends and family, help those loved ones in need to help themselves get out of hell and on the healing path - including the abuser if at all possible. (Over half of the people convicted of violent crimes are first-time offenders who commit crimes against friends or family.)

Parents, tell your children young and grown it's not okay.

Hope, Faith, Courage, Strength - right on!

Purple peace out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This sh&t's not okay. Parenting leadership lacking.

I'm really frustrated. From balloon boy hoax to burning bullies - this sh&t's not okay.

I mean, get the fact that on some anecdotal teen movie level kids will be kids, and with balloon boy, parents will be kids - but again, it's not okay.

It wasn't okay yesterday and it's not okay today. Where is the parenting leadership reaching out to their children to explain to them that setting someone on fire is violent, abusive and wrong?

Where is the parenting leadership reaching out to other parents who decide they need more media coverage instead of being personally responsible for themselves and their families?

Bullying not just a boy sport either. Just search for girl fights on YouTube.

Violence is violence. Abuse is abuse. Exploitation is exploitation.

I understand that these cases are sensationalized in the media, but we need to step up as parents of our children and instill in them that it's not okay, not tell a reporter later in an interview that you had no idea your child was so violent.

Be aware and involved. Be of mindful presence with yourself and your kids. You have the biggest impact on them more than anyone else.

The cloud of domestic violence just gets bigger and bigger...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Anno Beatrice Unum. Cogito sumere potum alterum.

So, a week ago Thursday Mama came home at the end of the day and said:

"Don't freak out, Daddy."

She had just walked in the door holding Bea, back to me, and words woke me up from working on my laptop; they stung like a snapping towel.

I pulled the right rusty levers in my head to stop time.

Don't - the opposite of do, which wasn't a good way to start.

freak - definitely not the second word I wanted to hear; visions of nightmare carnies and sideshows.

out - the opposite of in, and when connected with freak, the nightmare carnies and sideshows are on the loose on our street.

Daddy - not sweetie, honey, sugar-pie, sugar-plum, hot stuff or Kevin.

"Don't freak out, Daddy. Beatrice split her head open."

I didn't want to look up. "What?"

Mama turned around and there was Bea with a big swollen knot on her forehead covered with a bandaid.

With a big splotch of blood in the middle of bandaid. (It was big to me.)

She told me the story of their play date with another mom and baby - one minute Bea's walking and the next she's falling and hitting her head on a bookcase.

I pulled other levers in my head to start time and said, "We have to go to the doctor."

Mama said, "No, we don't. Let me call Elyse and my sister."

Elyse, our baby-care person, was wonderful with our child, as was Amy's sister, neither of whom were doctors.

However, our neighbor was and so we got him to come over but he assured us that even though he was an internist, not a pediatrician, Beatrice should be fine if she wasn't blacking out, or feverish, or howling intensely non-stop.

The swelling was already going down, the cut was that bad, and Bea was walking around the house giggling.

And falling over and over and over again.

Anno Beatrice Unum. Cogito sumere potum alterum.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Snap of Failure and Myth: More on Domestic Violence Awareness

I wrote a post yesterday for my work blog at HRmarketer.com about failure:

Fred sits alone at his desk in the dark
There's an awkward young shadow that waits in the hall
He's cleared all his things and he's put them in boxes
Things that remind him: 'Life has been good'

Twenty-five years
He's worked at the paper
A man's here to take him downstairs
And I'm sorry, Mr. Jones
It's time

--Ben Folds "Fred Jones, Part 2"

There's failure all around us. Traditional media empires are crumbling. The housing market is still a stinking landfill. VC and private equity investments are still pretty constipated. Unemployment is at its highest it's been for decades; there are over 6 unemployed people per current job opening...

This kind of economy takes it's toll on everyone, pushing people to the breaking point. When people can't handle the "snap" of such failure, we imagine many sedating with booze, cigarettes and other drugs of choice, while the propensity for domestic violence increases dramatically.

The unemployment rate for men over age 20 is 10.3 percent, up from 10.1 percent last month. Men were hit particularly hard by job cuts at factories and construction sites.

But the myth that only angry, frustrated, out-of-work, alcoholic, controlling men beat women is just that - a myth. Domestic violence knows no gender, sexual preference, cultural or religious bias. And it is too often misinterpreted.

Research paints a very different reality that what's been filtered to us:

  • One study found Mexican men who valued dominance and independence were less likely to resort to partner aggression.
  • One review concludes, “When comparing men’s and women’s use of controlling behaviors, research using nonselected samples has found that there are no differences in their overall use.”
  • Meta-analyses found no consistent link between traditional gender attitudes and partner assault.
  • A 32-nation survey documented a link between dominance and physical aggression, but the connection turned out to be stronger for female-initiated than male-initiated aggression.

In fact, according to the same report 50 Domestic Violence Myths from RADAR:

  • Nearly 250 scholarly studies show women are at least as likely as men to engage in partner aggression and that partner violence is often mutual.
  • Self-defense accounts for only 10-20% of female partner aggression.
  • Fewer than 5% of domestic violence incidents involve couples in an intact married relationship. Marriage is the safest partner relationship.
  • A need for control is not a common cause of domestic violence, and when it is, women are as likely as men to be controlling.
  • One study found 71% of civil restraining orders were unnecessary or false. Another analysis found over half of restraining orders did not involve even an allegation of violence.
  • There is no good evidence that a draconian criminal justice response deters domestic violence, but a “get tough on crime” approach may in fact place persons at greater risk of victimization.
  • False allegations of sexual abuse in fact appear to be far more common during child custody disputes.

Many of the report's myth-busting statements make you wince in disbelief; these just aren't the factoids we've been served up over the years.

The last statement of the report sums it all up:

Either we continue to disseminate misleading and false information that conforms to a self-serving ideological agenda. Or we move forward in our shared goal to help families become violence-free.

I'm all for that. Let's stop failing these families and start helping them with outreach, education and prevention without regard to gender, sexual preference, cultural or religious biases.

C'mon, fellow daddies, slap on those purple elevate patches to help curb domestic violence. Own it and help your brothers and sisters.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Anniversary Vistas

October 9, 2009, Midnight

Baby teething all week. Shrieks and crying every other hour it seems. Sleep deprivation. Frustration. Amy is exhausted. I'm helpless to help soothe.


October 11, 1997, Early Afternoon

Alone on Its beach by the lighthouse, writing in journal. Shapely shadow appears. Girl in baseball cap and bikini asks:

Why are you always here alone?

I almost don't answer.

Almost.

October 10, 2009, Morning

End of workout. Stung out. Listening to B notes - songs we picked for Bea's birth. Trace Adkins' sings "You're gonna miss this".

I sit on the bench, crying joyful.

June 1, 2007, Early Evening

Burgers, beers and Scrabble at 99 Bottles. I ask:

So, do you want to have a kid?

You answer:

Okay.


October 11, 2003, Afternoon

Our wedding. Friends and family gather behind us. Amy's father marries us. Vows we wrote are read, crying joyful.


September 22, 2008, Evening

Amy pushes and pushes. 24 hours have passed – at home and the hospital. Finally OB vacuums, pulls and pop – she looks startled, falls back and smiles.

There we go. It was the arm. The baby's arm was up over its head.

I see our little Beatrice for the first time.

May 25, 2007, Early Evening

Sunset at Bryce canyon. Each of us reflecting the other's absence of doubt. A lifetime together of choosing us, without kids.

Our minds have changed.

October 11, 2009, Morning

Bea wakes and we sing her the morning song Amy wrote.

Good morning, good morning, it's time to wake up
The birds are all singing, the sun is coming up
It's a beautiful day for my baby and me
We'll laugh and we'll dance and we'll sing by the sea

Good morning, good morning, a new day is here
Full of bright, sunny smiles and good morning cheer
It's a day full of wonder and lots of good fun
So, let's get up, get going, the day have begun

Sleep deprivation, frustration, exhaustion have fled.


October 11, 2009, Afternoon

We will walk to the place we met. Vows we wrote will be read again, as they are every year on this date.

Crying joyful.

Happy Anniversary Amy!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

We've got to increase the production of purple elevate patches pronto

I pledge to raise awareness and intervene when necessary.

Because I grew up with it. No one should grow up with it. Sadly I've had too many dear friends and family that have.

Many times I've wondered why my birth father grew up to be such a train wreck. Where were the early markers? What catalysts propelled him to a life of anger, alcoholism and domestic violence? As far as I knew there wasn't any physical violence for him growing up except maybe some corporal punishment. There were definitely emotional distance and dysfunction issues with his mom, but both he and his brother had the support and love of their sister.

And what about my first step-father? Sure he was bipolar and refused to take his meds, but what drove him to abuse my mother, sister and me? His abuse was much more mysterious and insidious than my birth father's, but abuse is abuse and violence is violence. Thank God we were only with him for less than three years.

I just don't frickin' know. So happy to have the father I have now, that much is clear.

How do we break the cycle of violence? Prosecuting the abusers and incarcerating is the end game for many repeat offenders, and as it should be. And even in this dismal economy where victim services and domestic violence programs and shelters are scrambling for every penny to stay alive, what are we doing to break the cycle on the front end?

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My good friend, Kim Wells, the Executive Director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), posted 10 Things You Can Do About Domestic Violence on her blog Domestic Violence and the Workplace. Even though I haven't met Kim in person yet, I call her my good friend because of our online connection and common cause that calls for healthy non-violent relationships.

Here are her 10 things you can do:

1) Sign the MADE petition to get dating violence curriculum in schools. Go to http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/made (did that)

2) Find out more about domestic violence. Go to http://www.clicktoempower.org/ and see the stories of survivors and what made the difference for them. (you must visit this site)

3) Go to http://www.avon.com/ and buy the Women's Empowerment Necklace or Bracelet. (I ordered a bunch of the Speak Out Against Domestic Violence Unisex Bracelet)

4) Learn about how domestic violence impacts your workplace by visiting http://www.caepv.org/. (great resources here)

5) Remember the National Domestic Violence Hotline Number: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or http://www.ndvh.org/. You can call to help others or yourself.

6) Donate your old cell phone (any brand) at any Verizon Wireless store or use free mailing label www.verizonwireless.com/hopelinemailinglabel (did that)

7) Learn to talk to your kids about healthy relationships by downloading tip booklets from http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/ (will do this)

8) Try to understand what happens in DV and how it impacts people. Check out http://www.domesticviolenceworkplace.blogspot.com/. And comment! (subscribe to this blog)

9) Don't ask "Why would that victim go back?" ask "Why would a person hit or abuse someone they love?"

10) Be safe, healthy and happy in your own relationships. Because you matter. And you deserve it. And you are very, very precious.

Here are some quick facts from Click To Empower:

  • Each day in the U.S., three women die as result of domestic violence.
  • More than one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • More than three out of four Americans know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.

The last bullet is where we can help on the front end. Don't pretend it isn't happening. Be responsible and help others to learn personal responsibility and the consequences of not doing so or the cycle will never be broken. I've intervened and it's painful and can cause horrendous relationship rifts. I would do it again and again if I thought it would make a difference for the better.

I believe it does.

I have hope it can so that my Beatrice can grow up strong and safe in the knowledge that most people are good with healthy relationships. We can get there. As Kim wrote, we are all very, very precious - and I know my baby is.

Everyday should be domestic violence awareness day. We've got to help those in abusive relationships model healthy family relationships regardless if they're straight or gay, men or women, children or adults, or whatever they're religious and cultural backgrounds are. In the societal context of today, we do not and cannot accept the norm.

In fact, it's more than literal physical abuse. It's those in relationships who abuse drugs and alcohol, who have mental illness, who verbally abuse - anything destructive to self, family and community.

We've got to increase the production of purple elevate patches pronto.

I pledge to raise awareness and intervene when necessary. That's what I'm pledging on my birthday today.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I swear this isn't an anthropomorphized Coco-the-ape scenario

In the span of almost one week - from my 25-year high school reunion (which I have yet to blog about) to my whirlwind few days at the HR Technology Conference and Expo - my baby's talking more, can sign, loves her books, was on the international olympic committee (she was pulling for Chi-town), and she now understands quantum physics.

Okay, maybe not the IOC and physics parts, but it's pretty damn amazing to bear witness to bright learning spikes of one-year-olds.

She's a brainiac with the daddy cranium, that's for sure, but with much more brain than the bone and stale air crisps that I slog atop my neck.

When I got back yesterday from my trip, I sat and read through her books with her, especially the Let's Sign book, watching her sign baby, and book, and hug, and a few more. She even signed daddy this morning.

I swear this isn't an anthropomorphized Coco-the-ape scenario (no, Bea isn't an ape - think figuratively). She's really doing it and it's very crazy learning cool.

How soon is too soon for the baby MacBook?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bea-day Baby and Matted Cat make a family of 4. A.M.

Pretty used to that now - the morning window of 3-5 where baby wakes every other morning and gets pulled into bed, and Chelsea our poor matted 300-year-old cat sleeps between our heads and gets up and down from bed multiple times in that same darn morning window.

Yesterday was the official first Bea-day and last night we spent part of it combing and cutting matted hair out of our cat. Chelsea growled, hissed and howled and Beatrice thinks she's playing.

Rock on with your bad birthday self, Ms. Beatrice.

Oh, but what an elevating journey it's been with baby in year one! Three years ago we never would've imagined the delicate and delectable little creature we created.

Three years ago we didn't want no destructive or detestable little creatures; they were lovely in other peoples yards, like lawn gnomes that moved and broke stuff at night.

Last night one year ago at 7:08 p.m., Beatrice came into the world with a bang. Or more like a pop since her arm was stuck over her head preventing her from passing Mama's pubic bone and being born at home. Twenty-four hours before that we were watching the primetime Emmys.

Beatrice, why did you send Mama to the hospital?

I remember chaos, staying up all night, Mama exhausted, rushing her to the hospital, broken birthing equipment and blood. Scary and surreal. In fact so surreal that I couldn't quite grasp being paralyzed; I knew nothing else but elevating my presence for Amy. We had no previous experience with anything remotely close, no other life preservers but each other, clinging fast our hands with Amy on the table and me standing above her prior to Bea's arrival. Out in the world our friends and families prayed.

Then, a floppy baby crying with a torpedo head being cleaned up, weighed and measured.

Last month one of my favorite writers and musicians, Neil Peart, recently had a baby girl (he's 57 - and I thought I was an older daddy!). He wrote a wonderful essay about the final months of his wife's pregnancy, baby hummingbirds in the backyard, and the fear of what could go wrong considering he lost his first wife and daughter 12 years earlier.

Oh, how I felt this way growing up:

When I was a boy of six or seven, I remember fervently believing that I could prevent bad things from happening if I worried about them enough. Now I recognize that atavistic urge as a primitive kind of prayer, and I was still superstitious enough then to believe in magical thinking. Hoping to escape being found out in a lie, or punished for something I had accidentally broken, I would worry about it long and hard. If, despite all that prayer, my crime were discovered, I would decide that I had simply not worried enough. All unknowing, I had invented my own little religion, the Church of Worry, and it worked the same as all the others: If something bad happens, it’s your fault for not having prayed enough.

This time, I guess I must have prayed enough—so far, at least. On August 12, 2009, Olivia Louise Peart hatched into the world.

Amen, Neil. We celebrated Bea's first birthday with my parents a few weeks ago and then had a big shindig this past weekend with friends and family.

Bea had such a great time. (Well, besides the birthday singing and everybody staring, she did have a great time).

What a beautiful daughter we have.

The Church of Worry takes a heavy tithing toll, and if I've learned anything from the first year with baby, I've learned that with magical thinking we make what is meant to Bea.

Always. Even if she forces plastic geometric shapes into my mouth.

Happy Birthday Baby!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today I am haunted harmony. Today I am alive.

"And now we'll gather in the shadow of your family tree
In haunted harmony
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come..."*

I drop off the books to my book buddies at the assisted living facility and head to the office. I pull onto Ocean Street and head toward Highway 1, my view awash with sun and sky.

Then I see it, what I saw a week before while cleaning the windshield; what I heard two weeks before while we drove back home from the emergency trip to Visalia: the chip in the top right corner, bleeding tiny spider veins its center.

One of my book buddies - a melancholy man of 82 with no children, living family or close friends - told me today he didn't belong there, that there's nothing to do, that all the residents are senile or sick, that I should keep working and never retire, that I should never be alone; even reading doesn't fill his emptiness.

He suffers from depression. He takes meds that don't work. He's lays there on his small bed, telling me these things, nothing else in his room except his floor lamp and an dark green recliner, which isn't his. Prior to this visit he didn't say much while sharing a somewhat sunny disposition with a wink and a smile and a "thank you, I haven't read that one yet."

I tell him my baby is turning one. He smiles and tells me how great that is. I tell him he should get out and walk in the sunshine, because he can. He smiles and says, "I'm not interested, but thanks."

He says, "I have no incentive to live. I'd be better off if I had passed away. I don't belong here."

No mention of God, of love, of hope. No elevate patch.

I start to say something, then pull my lips together and nod. Then I say, "You should get out and walk."

He nods politely. I wish him well, telling him more books on their way soon.

I pull onto Highway 1, the windshield's upper right corner mocking me, reminding me of imperfection, of falling apart, of an old idea whose time has come.

***

It's last Friday and I put on Bea's shoes. We go outside and she walks unsteadily but
determined, grasping two of my fingers to balance her stride. I have to bend down slightly so as not to pull her arm up too much.

I tell her, "You're going to help daddy water some plants."

She babbles and says, "A-da, a-da, phhrrumph."

I smile. She smiles, trips and twists. I grab her other arm quickly to prevent hurting her, and then we're on our way again.

Bea in one hand and filled watering can in the other, I proceed to water.

"How's my baby?" I ask. She babbles and woots. I smile.

The pepper tree we saved from certain death almost two summers past grows tall and lush in the upper right of the backyard, its leaves bleeding spider veins from its center. To the right of it is where a future Bea fort will stand, where she'll play and dream and grow tall and lush.

Bea woots. "Da-da, a-da."

We enter the garage, open the door and walk down the steep driveway. Bea staggers forward but doesn't twist or fall. We water a few more plants out front then walk slowly back up the driveway.

Once inside, she babbles and woots some more. I take off her shoes and she toddles off for her fuzzy.

She takes it gingerly, plunks her left thumb in her mouth, then rotates the fuzzy until she finds the best corner of all time.

Comforted, I smile. Bea turns one very soon, and we didn't break her. Phew.

"A-da," she says. Babble. Woot.

Then she trips over her fuzzy and falls.

***

Today I am haunted harmony. Today I am alive.

I long for Mama and Bea.


*Lyrics from "Family Tree" by TV On The Radio

Friday, September 11, 2009

I remember hope.

It was spring 2003 and cold.

I remember how Amy cried while she wrote a note on the makeshift construction wall above Ground Zero.

I remember how others stopped quietly at the wall, tilting their heads to read, some adding their own notes.

I remember the signs, candles and flowers along the metal fencing.


I remember watching the construction crews work below in the footprint pits where thousands perished.

I remember children watching along with me.

I remember Amy reading the wall, placing her palm on it as if feeling for a heartbeat.


I remember the shadow ash that laced the buildings facing the emptiness within.

I remember how blue the sky was, just as it was a year and a half earlier.


I remember someone praying next to me, how it made me cry.

I remember when we left, we didn't speak.


I remember we held hands.


I remember hope.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Multitasking: a liberal collective of misfiring synapses jet skiing through a hurricane

This may get me in trouble with a lot of mommies (and some daddies) for saying this, but we really can't multitask effectively.

In fact, it just ain't happenin'; there is no such thing as effective multitasking. It's a myth of epic proportions.

What you've got is a liberal collective of misfiring synapses jet skiing through a hurricane. How focused can you be on anything in that?

You can't. In fact, in today's constant barrage of information in our lives from work and play and everything in between, we're so easily distracted it's no wonder our children find us to be adults with ADD.

We make them cry (for our attention).

According to a recent Stanford research study on multitasking:

Social scientists have long assumed that it's impossible to process more than one string of information at a time. The brain just can't do it. But many researchers have guessed that people who appear to multitask must have superb control over what they think about and what they pay attention to.

But after a series of tests:

Heavy multitaskers underperformed the light multitaskers.

Every time. As opposed to really trying to focus and executing on linear tasks, improving the quality of work and life. At least that's what I believe.

Okay, you may argue with me that you've raised three children while running board meetings and blogging simultaneously out of your own living room, productively, efficiently and effectively.

I ain't buying it. I'm lost in the heart of the information hurricane everyday and struggle to focus what needs to be focused on and ignore what should be ignored. Women's brains may fire differently than men's, but the research is pretty clear. Multitasking is painfully ineffective. Another post from a blog I read related how poor multitasking affected customer service at an airline.

But it can happen anywhere at anytime - poor customer service - and when it affects your family and children, that spells trouble, even danger.

Yesterday my daddy daycare Friday turned into a 1/40/70 sandwich yesterday (with baby and parents). Love them all, but the only way to get through that is to focus on one task at a time.

Unitasking means improved productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and safety first.