A Great Journey

A Great Journey: Champions in every wayI’m competitive.

I grew up the youngest of four boys in a sports crazed house. We talked about competition and competed all the time. No, the competition was not typically against each other, though Sunday morning basketball games could get ugly.

As the youngest, I didn’t win often. But I always wanted to and didn’t accept losing as my fate due to birth order.

This past week, my son’s Little League team lost in the Finals. In this day and age, we’re supposed to tell the boys to just have fun and try your best.

But I wanted to win.

Very badly.

The team started off 0-6. Now, I told you before the season started that my primary goals were to help the boys improve and to have them feel part of a team. But I also wanted to win.

These boys stuck together – and I’d like to think each of us coaches was part of the reason – through the losing. Their attendance, attitude, and effort did not waver.

And it wasn’t easy. The team was struggling to get hits, let alone score more than a run or two. The fielding was inconsistent. It seemed like every error made turned into runs for the other team. We were getting beat up and looked overwhelmed. Though only six games, it felt like a long season.

Then came Memorial Day weekend. We were scheduled to play a double header. The heat was intense – near 90 with humidity. Yet, every kid showed up except those who had previous plans. How easy would it have been for parents and kids to blow off the games with the heat and the holiday weekend?

That’s commitment.

We won game one of the double header. And their was relief on the faces of many: those who run the league, parents, and friends.Then came game two, and we won again. Handily. We scored more runs in that game than we had in the previous five combined.

With the sweep, we were revived. The boys adopted the mantra of, “We never, never, never give up.”

The playoffs started the next week, and every team makes the playoffs. Ya gotta love Little League.

I was optimistic – why not. Something was different. The burden of losing had been lifted, and there was more confidence.

Game one of the playoffs was an epic. Games are normally 90 or so minutes and six innings. This game, however, went 2.5 hours and eight innings. We had to switch fields because the one we were playing on did not have lights. Anyway, we blew a big lead, came back, and came back again. It was an epic. The boys mobbed each other at the end.

Playoff epic that was part of our great journeyThe semifinals and finals were to be played back to back on Father’s Day Sunday. After winning the first – our fourth in a row – we were going up against the best team in the league. They had beaten us earlier in the season 7-1 and had won their semifinal game 10-0.

We got out to a 3-0 lead and held on it for few innings before giving up five runs in the bottom of the fifth. Somehow, our team managed to score five runs and took an 8-5 lead going into the bottom of the sixth. We gave the runs back and went into extra innings. Both teams made errors. Both teams were nervous.

Finally, after hours in the heat and two extra innings, the other team found a way to get a run in and won 9-8.

As a competitive person, I wish the game and season had a Disney ending. Those boys deserved it.

Despite coming up a bit short on our journey, the boys won in so many ways. Many of them showed improvement through the season in hitting, fielding and other ways that go beyond the field. There were weaker players and stronger players, but ultimately, these boys were a team as everyone rooted for and supported each other.

I know BR and I will talk about this season and some of the crazier games for a long time. I think some of the other team members will as well.

We went on a great journey together, and we’ve changed because of it.

I couldn’t be prouder of our team.

The culmination of a great journey

I Don’t Care About Father’s Day

I don't care about Father's DayYou know how some guys have a laundry list of what they want to do on Father’s List? If they don’t cross off each item, they feel cheated. Isn’t the day all about them?

Not me. Could. Not. Care. Less. Really, I don’t care about Father’s Day.

Now, I could be a divo (male version of a diva – I looked it up) like those other guys. I could also come up with a list of demands for what my family does on Father’s Day. But, I don’t care about Father’s Day.

I don’t need to barbeque, play basketball, go swimming, sleep late, have breakfast in bed, watch my favorite movie, go on a hike, etc. While all those things sound great, they don’t matter.

As it is, we happen to have plans this year: Little League baseball in the morning and in the evening, a Bat Mitzvah for the daughters of good friend’s. I’m looking forward to both events – should be a fun day.

But if we didn’t have plans, that would be fine too.  Because, I don’t care about Father’s Day.

For me, Father’s Day is simple. I want to spend quality time with my children. That’s it. Whether that means having a catch, riding a bike, eating water ice, going to the park, etc. Whatever, we can work that out.

This day is only meaningful to me because of my children. They’re the reason to mark the day.

Yes, I could argue this day is about me. After all, it is Father’s Day. It’s my turn to be celebrated.

But what kind of father would I be if that’s what I insisted on? After all, being a father (or mother) is about selflessness. It’s about being there for your children and supporting them in whatever way you can. It’s about being doing your best so that your children will be their best. It’s about loving and being loved by your children.

Okay, I wouldn’t mind sleeping later. I’d love it if the kids didn’t fight that day. It would be nice to get some good photos.

And I do want presents. I like presents – whatever they are.

I Don’t Have Huge Dreams

I don't have huge dreams.I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
— Billy Joel,  Angry Young Man

Someone posted in a Facebook group that I’m in that he used to have huge dreams and actually believe he could fulfill them. Lately, he’s struggling to get into this mind frame and feels like he’s in a big depressive funk.

I can’t speak to the depression part – that may be a serious issue as it certainly can be. It’s the huge dreams aspect that’s on my mind.

Now, there are dreamers in this world who actually fulfill their dreams and do incredible things. Some of those people may be brilliant, some may seem to have luck, but all of them display a laser focus that allows them to plow through towards their goal.

Some of those fulfilled dreams benefit society and make the world a better place. Congratulations. Kudos to you. Thanks for what you do for society.

At this point in my life, I don’t have huge dreams.

And I’m perfectly okay with that. At one point in my life, I might have found that thought depressing. What do you mean you don’t have huge dreams? Isn’t that what life is about?

I’m not so sure it is.

There’s honor and dignity in striving to do the best you can each day – even if what you do is not earth shattering. If you can be extraordinary in your ‘ordinary’ life – whatever that means to you – then you have every reason to feel as proud and accomplished as someone who did something ‘huge.’

Life is full of ups and downs, highs and lows. If you can plow through and maintain a positive attitude and do the best you can do, that’s a good life.

Sure, it’s not glamorous and definitely not huge but…

Let me stop using the general you and speak about myself.

At this point in my life, I don’t have huge dreams. I don’t dream of making the majors, or earning a billion dollars, or even of becoming Batman. I do, by the way, like the show Gotham. It’s entertaining. I’m glad I find time to watch it.

When I go to bed each night knowing that I did my best, I sleep well. Now, of course, this does not always happen. There’s frustration, disappointment, and even disgust. But that’s not because I haven’t accomplished something huge.

I want to learn each day. Grow each day. Make a difference each day.

I want to be the best I can be. And if that’s not huge, okay.

I don’t care.

Some might say that’s the path to mediocrity. I disagree. But I’m not going to argue (much) because I don’t care. I neither seek the approval of nor worry myself about the disapproval of others.

Contentment is what I seek. That does not mean I don’t have aspirations and am not striving to grow. Always am!!

I’m striving to be a good husband and father, to try and make my business grow, to help students learn. And so much more.

It’s certainly not glamorous and won’t drive news cameras to come to my house to photograph me and beg for an interview.

Fine.

So, I don’t have huge dreams. But If I do the best I can do and fulfill my potential, well that’s huge.

A Letter to Those Bloggers Who Write Letters

Bloggers, Let's TalkDear Bloggers,

I am one of you.

I have been blogging for a few years now. I know what it’s like to want to go viral. I know what it’s like to push publish and wait for validation. I know what it’s like to mine your life for material – to even start writing the post in your head as the moment is happening. I know.

I also know there are two types of posts that are especially popular and seem to be everywhere.

Continue reading