A Living Legacy

Today I’m thinking a bit about legacy, as Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Monday, and MLK was a dad (he had 4 children). Having children in and of itself contributes to the future of the world, and is necessary if we want to have a next generation to live after we die. How those children are raised has an even bigger impact on the legacy we leave and help create. Even if we don’t choose to have children ourselves, even the smallest of interactions that we have with children can have a big impact on them and their future.

MLK made a legacy for himself through all of the activism he was part of as well as the children he raised. He’s inspired countless children ever since and will continue to do so because not only was he a leader, he was an inspiring leader and left a message that’s timeless and powerful in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Few people are as well remembered and empowering to future generations as MLK.

One of the reasons we have children is because we don’t want our legacy to end, and we don’t always feel that we can make the biggest impact on the world and hope our children will have a bigger impact than us (even if we do have a big impact). While I don’t think it’s a good idea to force our kids or the next generation into our idea of ‘a big impact’, I do think we should encourage them, like MLK, to dream and want to have an impact on the world.

There are big and small ways that we can help support the next generation in having an impact on the world, including doing our best to care for the gift of the world that we’ve been given.  If we leave less of a mess for them to clean up they’ll have more resources of all kinds to make improvements instead of working to undo our damage.  How will you support the next generation?

Advertisements

Victory is a Journey

For the past few years I’ve been following the story of two twin boys who were joined at the head and separated in a very difficult and complex surgery in October of 2016. It was a trial for them, their parents and their brother, and we only got a tiny glimpse into all of it. Today I saw that an update had been posted on their story and it spoke to me about this new year we’ve entered, with both words of encouragement and wisdom.

The first thing that spoke to me was the fact that they’re both still alive, developing and growing, which is really a miracle. It’s also a miracle that we’ve made it to 2019 without killing everyone off or doing more damage to our world than we could ever try to fix.

Second, the one thing the parents said repeatedly was that some things just take time. Things weren’t perfect the moment the surgery was done, it’s been years and they’re still dealing with setbacks and challenges. That said, they can see the growth and improvements that the boys are making. We expect things to be so instant in this day and age, but that’s just not always the case.

Finally, the parents are thankful to have this time with their boys. It was a do-or-die surgery, 80% of those joined at the head die by age 2. So the only choice the parents had was to pray for a miracle, and a miracle they got. We can choose to leave this life, but I have so much more hope for the future than I am discouraged by the past.

The bottom line is I hope that in 2019 we’ve gotten through the absolute worst and only have some more bumps to contend with. I’m tired of always fighting the most extreme of uphill battles and would like to see a year in which more things go my way and your way, more things go the way of more people. I don’t expect easy or perfect all the time, but some less exhausting wins would be nice. I’m hoping for a year that shows we’ve finally turned the curve, what about you?

Treasuring Holiday Memories

There are lots of opportunities for whole-family non-screen activities in between the awesome holiday movies during the Christmas season. From baking cookies to decorating cookies to making gingerbread houses and decorating gingerbread people to decorating stockings to making homemade gifts to making ornaments, there are lots of things to keep you and your kids busy and they are things we look forward to each year.

Some of my best memories I have of growing up are consistently of the holidays and holiday activities with my family like baking cookies, unpacking all of the holiday decorations and decorating the tree. I look forward to having a place that I can do that with family and friends in the coming years, and making more of those memories together.

I remember few of the gifts I’ve gotten over the years, but most of the most enduring memories are of the activities of the season. It’s the memories that stick with us from year to year, and the memories that we want to share with our kids. Even if it is an item that we remember or have a memory around, it’s often about the person who gave it to us, the person it belonged to, the feelings around it or the way it fits into a holiday experience that sticks out in our minds.

It’s not really hard to make memories, they can happen anytime and anywhere and with anyone.  But you have to be with people to make them, and you have to create the opportunity for them to happen.  Yes, some memories will happen doing ordinary things like eating dinner at home, but most are more intentionally created with the hope that a memory can be made.

What are you doing with your family and friends to make memories this year?

30 Days of Thanksgiving: thankful for moms

Today I’m feeling thankful for moms. For the biological moms, the adopted moms, the mom figures, and the animal moms who all nurture, love, care for and bring the next generations into the world. I’m amazed by the natural process that happens for a little one to come into the world, it’s almost magical that two people or animals can be brought together and create new life. I’m also thankful for the help that doctors and other tools are able to provide to those who struggle as well, help that has become available only in more recent years.

It’s challenging for those who have never given birth, spent significant time with kids or had a good relationship with a mother or mother figure to understand the mental and physical things they go through. Being a mother or mother figure can be exhausting but for most it’s more rewarding than anything else. There’s something truly motivating and thrilling about seeing a child grow, enjoy life, play, explore, and create.

But as any parental figure knows kids take work. I’ve often said that it takes a village to raise a child because children need a lot of support and care to get from birth to the point that they’re able to live on their own. The next generation is definitely an investment worth making, because without the next generation what do we really have to work for?

So the next time you see a mom struggling with their kids give them a little patience. The next time you talk with your mom and/or any mom figures in your life make sure to thank them. And if you’ve got family or friends with kids that you can support with a helping hand, do so in this holiday season.

30 Days of Thanksgiving: thankful for the memories

I just turned on my tablet and up popped a birthday reminder. I love those reminders because I don’t have to remember the exact day that I have to wish someone a happy birthday.  I can remember on my own what month their birthday is and get the gift ahead of time, but to remember the actual day I sometimes struggle, hence the digital reminder.  But this reminder left me stunned for a few moments because I hadn’t remembered this person had a birthday this month and even more so because she passed away a little over a year ago.

My grandmother was a wonderful lady, I always would have been happy to not get any presents from her other than her cooking and her cookies. The holidays were always wonderful when we would go and spend the day with her and my grandfather, and the gift of taking a tin of cookies home after the Christmas holidays was something I always looked forward to. My mom bakes too but there was just something special about my grandmother’s cookies.

I know many people aren’t as fortunate as I was to have most of my grandparents in my life for as long as I did. I’m thankful that my grandmother lived to quite the old age and I have many happy memories for many years of being with her and hearing her stories and getting to know her. It’s not easy to think about her not being here anymore, but having the memories does make it a little easier.

Just like we tell the story of The First Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter each year, it’s important to keep telling the stories of our loved ones who are no longer with us. Because they matter to us and are part of our history, a history that others who come after us won’t know about unless we tell them. But we also tell the stories to help us heal from their loss and help keep their place in our lives after they’ve gone.

What memories are you thankful for today?

Reality Reflection: A Grandparents Legacy

Sunday in the US is Grandparents Day. It’s a time to remember the grandparents for all they’ve done for our families and celebrate the many years they’ve lived. This week in one of my newsletters I talked about the importance of including grandparents in our lives, and especially about having them share their stories with us. Why? Because if they don’t share their stories and experiences with us, we’ll lose them forever.

It may not sound monumental that we’ll never hear the stories of how they walked to get milk or went into the big city as kids without adult supervision. But we’re talking about a way of life that most of us will never experience in our lifetime or any lifetime in the future. The life that they lived isn’t something any of us can experience, and the only way we’ll ever know it happened, let alone be able to share it with future generations is if we talk with them.

Doing things with grandparents can also help you see the world in a different way, and spending time with them creates memories that can’t be erased when they’re gone. Some of my best and most special memories as a child are of spending days and vacations with my grandparents. I often wish I could have spent more time with them, and that in their later years disease didn’t steal their memories as it did, it’s one reason that I choose to spend time with other grandparents now that mine are gone.

The grandparents of the world have a lot to teach us if we’re willing to listen. While our lives may be different in many ways, in many other ways they’re very similar. What have you learned from the grandparents in your life?

Advice for Dads

This Sunday in the USA is Father’s Day so today I thought I’d share some advice for dads. No, I’m not a dad, but I do have a dad so I’m sharing from the perspective of a child, which I think is an important perspective for dads to consider. Yes, sometimes we’ll choose to do things differently as a parent than our parents did because we didn’t have a good experience growing up, or because we’re just different people. But there are some things that all great dads do, or who they are that we’re going to talk about today.

One of the biggest keys to being a great dad is making the most of the time you have with your kids. With most parents working these days it’s challenging for everyone to get tons of time with both or either of their parents, unless they work from home. So I’m not going to say that you have to spend as much time as possible together with your kids to be a great dad, but to make the most of the time you do have. For example one family I work with has pancakes made by dad every Saturday, and it’s something they look forward to all week.

One other way to be a great dad is to take vacation days. Maybe they’re days with special school events, a week in the summer to do things around the house and take a day trip, a day in late November or early December to do holiday shopping with the kids, the ideas are endless. It’s not always about spending tons on expensive destination vacations (although it’s good to do at least one of them if you can), it’s about taking the vacation days for the big and little things, things that will matter to your kids and your kids will appreciate seeing you there for.

Finally, the best way to be a dad is to show and tell your kids that you love them. Through the little things you remember and ask them about, the little treats you bring them, the ways you make their day, and moments you take to read them stories or hear their stories at the end of the day even when you’re exhausted.

What advice do you have for dads?