Monday, October 26, 2015

The Ban Is Lifted – Visiting Day!

40 days.  40 days seems like a long time.  In the story of Noah, the flood lasted 40 days.  Moses was on the mountain for 40 days to receive the 10 Commandments.  Lent lasts for 40 days.  Mohammad spent 40 days fasting in a cave.  And, 40 is the highest number counted in Sesame Street.  Depending on the event, 40 days can seem like a LO-O-O-ONG time.  I have not seen either of my daughters for that long.  This has been the longest we have been separated from our children. Though we have, for the most part, been busy, we are about to mark our 40th day as empty nesters.  The house is quiet (I can only make so much noise by myself).  The house is empty feeling (I get it, empty nest).  The house, when either Debbie and are home alone for any period of time, is lonely.  Yes, we talk, text and Facetime; but it is not the same as seeing, hugging and spending time together.

You do not really know how you will feel until the time comes.  Some friends loved it when the kids were away, as it gave them a newfound freedom where they did not have either to worry about the kiddies back home, nor feel guilty for not including them on an adventure.  Other friends warned us how bad it was to have them away.  While I enjoy the extra time that Debbie and I have together; the basic truth is that I miss our daughters, their company, their sense of humor (even if it is at my expense) and their insights.

Finally, after 40 days…you could feel the anticipation in the car driving up to Providence.  We pulled in behind Bec’s dorm and were greeted by Bec running to see us.  Oh, how happy we were to hold our daughter.  Gab still had classes, and we knew she would meet us at dinner.  When she arrived, I went out to bring her into the restaurant (OK, I could not wait).  After 40 days, my little family was back together!  It was great to see the girls, hear their stories, laugh and spend time together as if no time had passed since we were last together.  Gab is doing well with her studies, playing music, involvement in teaching and is on track for N-12 certification.  Bec has adapted to school life, has made some good friends and (we did ask) is getting good grades in her classes.  Our girls are growing up!  By Sunday, we caught up, did some shopping and ate some good meals (including a brunch where we wore our pajamas).  The end of the weekend, however, came too fast.  Gab headed back to school, Bec went off to paint pumpkins, and Debbie and I were left in the car wishing we could have spent more time together.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Where Is My Legacy?

At what point in our lives do we leave a legacy?  Can it be misplaced?  Does one have to search for a legacy; is it bestowed upon us, or, something we take…for granted?

Do we know what potential impact we will have on another human being and what that ripple effect could be?  There is a theory called the Butterfly Effect, where, when applied to the weather, it is said that if a butterfly were to flap its wings, at some future point in time, that will build to a hurricane half a world away.  MIT meteorologist Edward Lopez coined the term in the 1960’s.  In his book, The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters, Andy Andrews extrapolates this theory in human terms, in that one person can have a profound effect on the lives of another and so on down the chain.  He outlines this then follows a real life impact through many generations.  The point of the book is that everything we do can and does have an impact on those around us.  Sometimes the impact is profound; sometimes it is small.

If there is a Butterfly Effect, and it is applicable to humans, then we all have the potential to leave a legacy, whether that is through a big impact or minor impact.  We can, we should, and it is important to live each day with this in our minds.  Like the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” where the main character George Bailey did not know how important his life was until an angel showed him.  Fiction, yes, but highlights the point. 

“But, Wayne, that is just a story.  Do we ever get to see this in our lives?”
There was a man that came over from Europe and engaged in leading religious services through singing – what we would call today a cantor (Chazzan).  Many years later, when his son came to this country, he followed that love for music and learned the violin and later some basic piano.  His son then learned piano quite well until he came face-to-face with the Warsaw Concerto, which caused him to stop.  His son learned the accordion, piano, saxophone and a few other instruments and played in a band with his brothers.  Of his two daughters, one loves going to concerts and one has learned a series of instruments and is studying music education.  The one that is studying music entered school as a vocal student.  With music education, after five generations, the love of music has been passed down to potentially influence many people, and, what started with a vocal talent came full circle back to vocal education.  The first person had no idea what his love of music would do.

This past weekend, I attended the Brandeis Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies to receive the award for Ace Weinstein.  My great uncle was instrumental in bringing the athletic program to Brandeis in its early days by recruiting athletes, paying for clothing and food, and supporting the growth / development of their programs.  It ended up that he was involved with football legend Benny Friedman and winning Coach Henry Stein. Until I had the opportunity to meet the recipients of his generosity, I would not believe that a family member would have the capacity to identify the potential in young adults that most of us would miss within ourselves.  His generosity and capacity to provide the opportunity for success in others was phenomenal.  Here are some of the words (paraphrased) from the benefactors of his help, and participants in the event said:

  • “Your uncle was the one that recruited me for Brandeis.”
  • “Your uncle bought me my first real winter coat.”
  • “…the scholarship provided by your uncle…”
  • “…let’s have a moment of silence for our fallen team mates and Ace Weinstein…”
  • “He was the fastest person ever to be processed through the nominating committee.”
  • “I learned how to play golf because he asked me to teach it at camp.”
  • “He catered the meals while the (basketball) was team on the road.”
  • “Your uncle drove me up to Brandeis for my interview in his Cadillac.”
  • “My first time on a plane was with your uncle.”

Legacies are created through our interactions with others, whether through our words or actions, that hopefully have a positive impact on others.  We can, we should, and it is important, that we all do great things with our lives to build our own legacies for the future.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lucy Lou

Eight years ago, our daughters watched in horror as our four year old Alaskan Malamute, Oreo, was hit by a car.  Gab was in shock, Bec cried for days and Debbie refused to drive by that spot for years.  I was ready to get a new dog right away.  I am not sure why, but maybe because I grew up with two dogs (a Norwegian Elkhound, Holly, and a German Shepherd, Tippy).  Bec looked up at me and asked through her tearstained faced, “How could you have another dog after going through this before?”  It broke my heart, as Oreo was very much a part of our family.  When we first decided to get a dog, we researched options as a family, visiting pet shops and breeders.  Part of the deal in getting a dog was that the girls had to be responsible to take care of the dog, otherwise it would end up being my pet.  The girls agreed, and did take care of Oreo, and Oreo was a constant companion to Debbie in both the house and when they went out.

The Pros and Cons of Dog Ownership:

  • Pro – teaches responsibility for our children (they must commit to helping)
  • Con – having a dog takes up your free time
  • Pro – unconditional love
  • Con – they are dependent on you
  • Pro – they greet you at the door when you come home long after your children stop doing so
  • Con – you cannot just go away for a weekend, until you find a someone / a place to watch your dog
  • Pro – they are by your side through the good time and the bad times
  • Pro – they make you feel good
  • Pro / Con – you become emotionally invested in your dog

Five years ago, my Mother-in-law had a Pug, Irving, and was at the doggie park when she met a woman that fostered dogs.  At that point, I had already started looking to adopt a dog and was looking online ( every few days.  The rest of my family was also beginning to feel that it was time to have a new dog.  My mother-in-law called that a foster mom had a cute dog with her and we should come and meet them.  We went and met the dog – a mutt.  This dog had been abandoned and abused before being found in a muddy pen in the south and brought north to find a forever family.  We fell in love with this cute, funny and happy looking dog.  After filling out some paperwork, there was a home visit / interview to make sure there really was a match.  Lucy Lou came to our home for a visit and has stayed here ever since then.  That was five years ago this upcoming week, a great addition to the family, and, in the words of Gab and Bec, “she is perfect!”

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finishing the Year Strong

Ahhh!  It is the beginning of October and the lofty, achievable goals that I set back in January are not complete.  I only had three goals, lose five pounds, 10-15 minutes of home exercise five days a week and get a speaking gig.  I feel that it is like going to the bookstore, finding a book that you are all excited about, buying the book, coming home and proudly placing it on the bookshelf, where it remains.  Let us pull the book, my goal, from that shelf and take stock, or better put, have a check up, on my progress:

  • My weight loss goal – OK, I weigh pretty much today as I did at the beginning of the year.  At least I did not gain weight, right?  FAILING
  • My exercise goal – I started the year with a few minutes a day, then dwindled to nothing.  FAILING
  • My speaking goal – I did speak in public, but it was free.  FAILING

Did I have accomplishments this year?  The answer would be yes, many of which I write about.  The fact that I had some new experiences this year was great.  I believe that we should stretch ourselves, stepping out of our comfort zones.  Opening ourselves up to new opportunities and experiences is something we should do every day.  However, there were three things, which I set out to do and have not accomplished one of them.  If I did one, that would give me a .333 average, which would be great if I was a baseball player.  Have you ever seen me play baseball?  Good, it would not be a pretty sight and not one of my goals.  However, that has nothing to do with the .000 batting average I have with my 2015 goals.

Does this make me a loser?  No, it does not.  Does this make me a procrastinator?  Maybe, but that means that I still have time to address these goals.  Let’s see, there are about 87 days left in 2015.  Are my goals still achievable?  Weight – Yes.  Exercise – Yes. Speaking – Maybe.  Is there enough time to tackle at least two, if not three of my goals?  Yes.  There is definitely time to focus on the goals and set them as a priority.  It is up to me to action this.  It is up to me to make this happen.  If I do not succeed, I do not have anyone to blame but myself, as I control my destiny.  I will finish the year strong!

How many of you have completed your goals, are on track to complete your goals, or, have forgotten what the goals were?  Please share…