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Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A Personal Odessey

Well it's nearly the end of 2011 and as such it makes some sense to take a few moments to look in the rear-view mirror.

The Rear View Mirror
One thing I've learned in 2011 is not to spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror.  Yes, reflection & retrospection is a good thing, provided that it serves a useful, forward thinking purpose. Oh, and that it is not done at the expense of living in the now.  Life truly is short & time is fleeting, so why spend too much of it engaged in "if I had only" mental exercises?  In the past we did the best we could at the time, period.  This kind of acknowledgement is an important part of accepting ourselves for who we are as fully functioning human beings.

As A Dad
I have a lot of different names & titles but none is as important to me as that of "Dad".  As I have noted in the past in this space, growing up I didn't really have a functional father, so I have been determined over these past 23+ years to be for my children what I only dreamed of (and saw on TV...although I will confess some relief when I discovered that Mr Brady was actually gay) when I was a child.  Have I been successful? That's not for me to answer, but I will say two things for certain:

...I try very hard to be a good Dad & I don't take the role for granted
...I try to live an example in my own life of what I tell my girls should be important in their lives

To the latter I think some parents fall into the trap of "do as I say, not as I do". For example, we tell our children that they deserve to be in happy, healthy personal relationships, but those words are detrayed if we ourselves live in relationships that are unhealthy. How is this any different than the pot-head parent telling their own children "just say no"?

Note that I do not claim that this notion of "eating your own cooking" is ever easy; in fact I am living proof that this is actually extremely difficult.  But your children are smarter than you think (mine are...), and while even parents are allowed to make mistakes, the error of hypocrisy is very difficult to overcome. 

My "children" are actually adults now, ages 18, 19 & 23 (soon to be 24), so I guess I could look back and point to all my failings, but that would be foolish (see the rear-view miror).  Instead I will offer this:  one is a colledge graduate who is employed in the field she studied in school; one is a Dean's list Biology major at the University of Scranton and my youngest just finished her first semester at West Chester University, also making the Dean's List.  In totality, I think the evidence points to some success in the co-parenting world.

This was probably one of the best years I have ever had professionally.  I report to someone who is a terrific manager himself, and the company is taking an interest in my personal development.  Well that last phrase is incorrect:  more correctly, I am being given the opportunity to explore development opportunities (meaning the door is open...but I need to do the walk'n through it).  This year also saw something for me that hadn't happened last since Bill Clinton was President, namely that I received a promotion.

It's all good stuff, and when I think about how difficult the job market is for some, I realize just how many blessings I truly enjoy.  

Life has its ups and downs, and no where was that more on display for me than in my personal life during 2011.  All told though, I've landed in a terrific place.  As I often times remind myself, sometimes you don't get what you want in life, but over time you always get what you need.  For me, nothing could be more true.  God at work?  I don't know, but sometimes you just have to accept that it's not possible to understand everything.  Faith?  Perhaps.

I'll end this trite tirade with completely different but equally true sets of thoughts:

To the second "W", here's to not ceasing from exploration.


End-Note:  In high school I was ungainly tall, extremely thin, fairly bright, very uncoordinated and exceptionally introverted.  In short, I was a pretty weird kid.  I heard about a book called "The Great Shark Hunt" and read it cover to cover over the course of about a week.  At that point I learned, for the very first time, that it was okay to be both smart and weird.  This past year I learned that maybe I'm not so all alone in that department.  Maybe we are all just a little bit smart and weird.  Anyway, a fitting final word from the author of that book...

"I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed."

- Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

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