July 2009


This week’s posting has been cancelled on account of a stomach bug I am still trying to recover from.  It hit me first on Sunday night, then my wife in the middle of the night, then my oldest daughter yesterday.  We’re all doing much better today, but were pretty miserable yesterday.

I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll just say I’m not very good at being sick.  Sara said I sounded like a cat being strangled throughout the night.

This past weekend was perhaps the most beautiful weekend I have ever experienced in July. Typical summer days here in Hotlanta hover around 95 degrees and are humid enough to allow fish to breathe on land. This weekend; however, was more like October – 75 degrees, dry air, blue skies… the perfect weekend for a hike.

My family went to Raven Cliff Falls in northern GA for a nice little 5 mile hike. Amelia got a free ride in the backpack, but Olivia hiked the entire way – all 5 miles and she is only 3 years old!

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Me and the girls

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Sara and Olivia - I honestly don't know where Olivia got this new pose

Yeah, I’m a proud papa. The scary part is that we almost didn’t make the trip because I thought there was no way that both girls would be so good on a 3 hour hike. I fully expected to get to the falls and have to carry both girls back.

Cooling off the piggies in a mountain stream

Cooling off the piggies in a mountain stream

Future Hiker

Future Hiker

I know I will never forget this trip.  I think the girls will look back on it fondly as well (at least Olivia will).  Many of you are trying to figure out what to do in the face of reduced hours and layoffs.  Why not do something really important?  Take this economic turmoil and turn it into an opportunity to improve other areas of your life.  Spend time with your family, get in shape, volunteer, do the things that you always wanted to do but never had time for back when you had your nose to the grindstone.

Two lyrical titles in a row… Today’s posting was going to be about how I am weary of the glorification of Michael Jackson, his television media dominance, and the memorial service, which was filled with enough hyperbole to make a geometry teacher giddy, but I realized by posting on this, I would be contributing to the very thing I was complaining about.  So, this is another last minute posting.

 

Instead of focusing on the details of the ceremony, I want to focus on how his death affects you.  That right, how has the death of Michael Jackson impacted your life?  Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.

 

We spend so much of our lives trying to be important.  Whether it is through career success, education, recognition of our volunteer efforts, or the belief that we possess an inner Hollywood actor/rock star/professional athlete/presidential candidate, many of us aspire to do great things. 

 

But what are great things?

 

In terms of recognition and fame, MJ was right up there at the top.  He had world-wide recognition, amazing talent, and celebrity eccentricity, but is your life any different now that he is gone?  Sure there were thousands of people who showed up to mourn his death but what personal impact did he have on your life?

 

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, there are countless mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, and friends who leave this world anonymous to everyone except those who were close to them.  They may not warrant media attention, huge memorial services, or gold-plated caskets, but their passing has a profound impact on the people in their lives.

 

The point I am trying to make is when we focus on our fame, success, or recognition, we shift our attention to a broad spectrum of people who are only superficially affected by us in order to pump up our own ego while ignoring those on whom we can make a lasting impression.  In order to truly do great things, we sometimes have to forgo opportunities for fame and fortune in order to focus on the people in our lives that are truly influenced by our existence.

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My apologies to Martina McBride – this week’s will be a very short post because we were traveling over the 4th of July and I forgot to write anything in advance.  Not only will it be short, but it will be poorly thought out and grammatically incorrect.

 

I recently received an email from one of my English students in Belarus.  He was ecstatic about the fact that he got sponsored to come to the US as an exchange student.  He needs to get a job and he knows about our financial crisis, the horrendous job market, and the possibility of being ostracized as a foreigner, but having the opportunity to come to America is the fulfillment of one of his greatest dreams.

 

Meanwhile, we sit around not even recognizing the opulence of our lifestyle and complain about the things that we are unwilling to take a stand to change. We are still a democracy and many brave men and women put their lives on the line to ensure our freedom.  I sometimes think that the sentiment of some Americans is to passive-aggressively wish that we were a dictatorship so that they could complain about the government without carrying the burden taking action when things don’t go according to plan.  That’s how a democracy works – we get to enjoy freedom, but we are ultimately responsible for change.

 

In my opinion, one of the most anti-American things we can do is not take a stand for the things we believe in.  Wherever you see a need for change, get involved.  Go to meetings, write letters to Congress, and educate yourself on the issues at hand.  Too frequently, we sit around and do nothing because we feel that we are too small to make a difference.  If you ever feel that way, remember this:  it is not the power of our adversaries, but the power that we give them that ultimately defeats us.