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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Things that rhyme with awareness: Football, fathers, daughters and getting jiggy with celebrity male role models

I've come to know many great organizations in my quest to create awareness and action to end violence against women and intimate partner violence (domestic violence).

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence and The Pixel Project are two that I know very well (check out others in my blog roll).

A new one (to me) that I just became aware of this Memorial Day Weekend came in the form of a Pixel Project post:

News from A CALL TO MEN

A CALL TO MEN is an awareness-raising partner of The Pixel Project. Their vision is to shift social norms that define manhood in our culture, and their mission is to galvanize a national movement of men committed to ending violence and discrimination against women and girls.

A CALL TO MEN has partnered with the National Football League Players’ Association to produce a new book. Called NFL Dads Dedicated to Daughters, the book celebrates “the unique and indestructible bond between fathers and daughters.”

***

Recognizing that domestic and sexual violence directed against women is a serious social problem that continues to plague America, the National Football League and the National Football League Player’s Association have joined A CALL TO MEN, a leading national men’s organization dedicated to addressing this problem, to produce Dedicated to Daughters, a book celebrating the unique and indestructible bond between fathers and daughters. In it NFL players and coaches, through inspiring personal accounts, talk about what it means to be a father and the importance of being a role model for their daughters.

***

How cool is that? Very. A Call to Men is an organization I'm going to check out further for sure.

And here's even more coolness:

The Pixel Project is a global volunteer-led nonprofit organisation working to raise US$1 million in aid of the USA’s National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Malaysia’s Women’s Aid Organisation via an online fundraiser in which a 1-million pixel mystery collage of 4 to 6 globally known Celebrity Male Role Models will be unveiled online as donors “buy” each pixel for US$1.00.

As part of efforts to recruit Celebrity Male Role Models for the mystery collage, The Pixel Project is pleased to launch their first Voters’ Choice Celebrity Male Role Model campaign through which a worldwide audience votes for the actor to be included in our A-list line-up which includes a Nobel Prize Winner and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

The two nominees with the most votes will be invited to donate JUST 45 MINUTES of their time to have their picture taken for the collage and to join the global community in saying “It’s time to stop Violence Against Women. Together.”

The superstar nominee who accepts the invitation will be revealed through the Pixel Reveal fundraiser which will be launched in the second half of 2010.

Although I'm voting for Will Smith, here are all the contenders:

  • Alexander Skarsgard
  • David Tennant
  • Hugh Jackman
  • Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Will Smith

Voting is open from 17 May 2010 – 17 June 2010 and you are invited to key in your vote and sign the online petition.

Beatrice and Bryce, we've got your back.


Friday, May 28, 2010

It became a game of baby racquetball, with Bea as the ball.

That was fun. Playing racquetball on the couch with my baby yesterday. While on the phone with a prospect...

Sometimes when I work from home we'll put on a baby DVD for Bea so Mama can workout in the family gym and I'll watch Bea, either working on my laptop or making calls.

Because usually she just sits or stands, fuzzy in hand and thumb in mouth, and watches contentedly.

Until yesterday. When she learned how to climb onto the couch and bounce.

One of the DVD sets we have is the eebee's adventure series.

"eebee eebee baby I love you..."

In the the DVD's eebee, who is an adorable and colorful puppet with Rasta-like spikes for hair, plays along with many other real babies and toddlers in hands-on adventure activities.

Like climbing.

Bea already climbs the stairs on her own (with our supervision of course), but she hasn't really climbed on top of our cuddle chair or the couch.

Until yesterday.

So I'm on a conference call with a prospect, eebee's climbing on a mountain of pillows on the TV screen, and when I look around for Bea, there she is hauling her little butt on on the couch where she proceeded to bounce.

And fall.

I know kids have to learn what's dangerous and what's not, but we still have to play hall monitor so there are no serious injuries.

Bea bounced from one end of the couch to the other, springing off the back of the couch each time -- while bonking her head on the top back of the couch -- then bounced again from one end to the other, springing off the back of the couch --

It became a game of baby racquetball, with Bea as the ball.

Fortunately I was on a headset and could switch from one hand to the other preventing her from falling forward onto the floor below.

Swat.

Save.

Bounce.

Swat.

Save.

Bounce.

Swat.

Save.

Bounce.

I couldn't capture the moment being indisposed as I was, but this video captures Bea's rambunctious dance-dance-bounce energy of late.

Love that little girl (and Bryce too)!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

video

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

All kept in a lockbox in the dark shadows of our hearts.

We carry a sensitive cargo
Below the waterline --
Ticking like a time bomb
With a primitive design

--Neil Peart

I can't get it out of my head. His irrational rationale for brutally violent acts, the taking of two young lives, two lovely daughters.

"I was aware of what I was doing, and I could not stop myself. I was in a major rage and pissed off at my whole life and everyone who had hurt me and hurt the wrong people."

He's a deranged animal.

However, I've had these feelings. Raging against the world around me (in my head) because of imagined or real harm done to me by others.

Wait, don't judge. Many of us have had these feelings, although many of us don't want to admit it because it reveals potentially fatal flaws in our societal and moral navigation systems, the fact that we get angry and need to purge at any cost, regardless of attempted self-restraint or criminal laws.

But for me, the anger is always directed at the object considered to be the tipping point, the person responsible for hurting me, for making me so mad.

Not at random strangers. And never actually acting on the violent vengeful visions.

They are privately cathartic and necessary for sane functioning, for working through the painful angst. All kept in a lockbox in the dark shadows of our hearts.

But in the case of Gardner, the lockbox failed. And as a father of one daughter with one an the way, my vigilance is exponential.

John Albert Gardner III pleaded guilty April 16 to murdering 17-year-old Chelsea King and 14-year-old Amber Dubois in a deal with prosecutors that spared him the death penalty. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 14 to life in prison without parole.

"You think that I don't have guilt and I don't hate myself for what I did? I hate myself, I really do. There is no taking back what I did and if I could, yes, I would. Are you kidding me? But I was out of control. If I was able to stop myself in the middle of it, I would have, and I could not. I was out of control."

"It wasn't about their age with me. I actually didn't go out and look for them. I did not sit and wait for them. … Everything that I've done was horrible. What am I supposed to say? That I tried to prevent it? Yeah I did."

Gardner claims he went to a mental hospital to turn himself in, but they turned him away.

I don't know the context of why they turned him away, and if it's even true, but in a state (California) where health and human services have been slashed and burned for decades, while in their stead prison after prison has been built, I'm not so sure we're helping anyone help themselves anymore.

We're to keep them under lock and key, but by then it's too late; blue genes, broken dreams and the devastating memories of stepping in one self-made rusted bear trap after another drive the seething madness to lockbox breaking.

What's my point? Responsible parenting means paying particular attention to the way your children respond to stressful situations and get them help if need be. (And there can be no action in inaction if as parents we don't help ourselves when responding inappropriately to stressful situations.)

We are the leaders of self first, then our families.

I had a good friend in high school who used to inflict pain on himself and on his pets. Years later, after time in prison and severe drug and alcohol abuse, he was diagnosed bipolar. Thankfully he never hurt others including his children, but sadly he did end up taking his own life.

If there's a need for intervention, counseling, psychiatry, God, medication -- whatever -- then the first line of offense and defense is us, the parents.

We love our children, and want to protect them at any cost, but we must work to help them keep their lockboxes intact.

Because once opened, it's under another lock and key they're headed to, and we're no longer responsible.

But the greater society is.

Behind the finer feelings --
This civilized veneer --
The heart of a lonely hunter
Guards a dangerous frontier

The balance can sometimes fail --
Strong emotions can tip the scale --

Don't want to silence a desperate voice
For the sake of security
No one wants to make a terrible choice
On the price of being free

It's not a matter of mercy
It's not a matter of laws
Plenty of people will kill you for some fanatical cause

It's not a matter of conscience --
A search for probable cause
It's just a matter of instinct -- a matter of fatal flaws

No reward for resistance
No assistance -- no applause

I don't want to face the killer instinct -- face it in you or me
So we keep it under lock and key...

Friday, May 14, 2010

All brought to you by the letter Z and a pink fuzzy.

"Life must be understood backwards; but...it must be lived forward." ~Soren Kierkegaard

I snagged this quote from my Dale Carnegie's Secrets of Success iPhone app the other day...

Chewed on it like Bea chews on her pink fuzzy blanket.

Thoughts erupting like teeth through toddler gums.

Painfully pleasurable. Distinct. Faux permanence. Fleeting.

Bea's current favorite letter is the letter Z; she hasn't learned the alphabet yet.

"Zzzzzzzzzzzz."

The omega longs for alpha. A cycle so adorned.

Bea gets the end of things. No more play. No more TV. Time for bed.

We long for new beginnings. No more pain. No more mistakes. Time for rebirth.

The truth of going through the back to the front and not around.

Poetic license renewed with mindful presence dawn after dawn after dawn.

All brought to you by the letter Z and a pink fuzzy.

Happy Friday. No I haven't been drinking.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Mama spice makes everything nice.

She's the kicker. The zing. The zest. The spice of our lives that's the best.

The Mama.

Yes, I'm subjectively bound by my immense love for this woman, but hear me out.

I remember holding her up as the morning wore on in what would become Beatrice's room, Mama leveraging gravity to bring Bea into our world, summoning a spiritual strength no man has ever experienced nor understood.

Exhausted, helpless and I frustrated, I selfishly channeled anger at those who judged us for not wanting children.

Unproductive as it was, I couldn't help it; then there was the flip-side of the red hot coin bouncing from ear to ear, those who judged us for wanting children.

Her labor welled again and echoed around us, bringing me back to the moment of Mama, midwives and the arduous journey babies have to make.

Early that evening, there was Bea.

I don't want to disparage anyone, though; we love our family and friends and they love us and we wish our mothers the happiest of Mother's Days.

But when I watch my wife with Bea, full with Bryce child, I know she's all in, without compromise or complaint.

As I fly home from a work event, longing to be home, I roll the word's around in my mouth I wrote early this morning:

Empower yourself; empower others; be the lead.

Something she taught me that a long time ago. The Mama spice makes everything nice.

Happy Mother's Day Mama!

Mama brews the bonds of love
with B-soup spice, a taste above.
And in no other place we'd rather dine
than all as one, sipping Mama wine.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A New Hope, Blue Genes and Fatherhood -- Episodes IV, V & VI

Yes, celebrating 30 years of The Empire Strikes Back with JibJab (and the entire original Star Wars trilogy) and one hour of not working.

How much fun is that? Tons.

The Cast:

Han Solo -- Me
Princess Leia -- Mama
Luke Skywalker -- Beatrice
R2-D2 -- Bryce (in utero)
Obi-Wan Kenobi -- My Dad (adopting step-dad)
Darth Vader -- My birth father

Enjoy!

Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope



Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back




Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi


Now on the briefly serious side. Star Wars hit the big screen when I was 12 years old. Those who read my blog know that was when monsters roamed my realm and running from my blue genes had only just begun.

Star Wars freed me to roam in a galaxy far, far away and to swashbuckle with villains, heroes and hope.

My Vader is me, but I am not him, yet we are one.

For fathers who break the cycle of violence and abuse: May the force be with you. Always.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Yes, Mama. Safety first. No chocolate.

Okay, I know Bea's only 19 months old and the Pacific has a relentless rip tide, but do we really need to put our little surfer girl on a leash?

I mean, none of the other kids wore a leash.

"Oh yeah, Daddy? If all the other kids jumped off a cliff, would you follow?"

No Mama. No.

Safety first. That's the rule.

Mercy, no leash hinders Bea's unleashed love of sea and spray. Oh, how she digs the water. Giggling and jumping and squealing and krumping.

Word.

At this rate she'll be surfing Steamer Lane in a few years, and trying out for So You Think You Can Dance.

Have you ever been in the Pacific on the Monterey Bay? It's really friggin' cold -- 55 degrees cold.

But back to the leash. Doesn't it remind you of this SNL skit?

Yes, Mama. Safety first. No chocolate.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Enough snot to retrofit the entire west coast.

Poor Beatrice has got a bad cold and it's wracking her our very foundation. Sweet little bug is struggling to sleep and last night I spent another night snuggling the rumbling snot-fest so Mama could sleep (while Bryce tap danced in her belly).

Bea's only had a couple of bouts of snot-ness in her short life, and what exacerbated the one before this one was the teething, as it's doing again.

Oh, what big teeth you have baby, erupting along the gum faults while you buck, roll and shake and olfactory volcanoes spew and spew. We're sure there are some severe allergy storms in the mix as well.

Bea'ing 2012.

But this too will pass; we've only just begun to experience the bittersweet ill-cicles of parenthood.

Once you get past the "God, I really need to sleep, baby" -- which always passes quickly -- then it's about you nursing and wishing your child to be better.

It's so hard to witness their misery, especially for a toddler who still can't quite articulate the pain, only the seemingly infinite sharing of the seismic.

We try to limit the baby Tylenol and ibuprofen, and right now Mama's giving her a bath for relief.

We've been told by our pediatrician and other parents that they've got to ride out the cold, and they're going to have a lot of them.

But I've never seen so much snot. Really.

According to Wikipedia:

A major function of this mucus is to protect against infectious agents such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. The average human body produces about a litre of mucus per day.

Wait, this is America and we don't do the metric thang. How much is a friggin' litre?

A little over a quart?

Holy moly.

How much mucus from Bea-quake?

Enough snot to retrofit the entire west coast.

(Which is what this picture of mucus cells looks like, or at least the Bay Area.)