The X-Factor

Unfortunately this life is full of negatives and pointless tasks. The days are taken up by work, various trials and scattered conundrums. Tribulation is wrought by multiple misunderstandings and various accidents. Eventually we go to sleep and dream…the next morning we wake and hope this day is better than the last as we walk out that door. We frequently get caught up in and let down by the negative energy that is often surrounding life. For some reason it seems to be so much easier to focus on than all the good we do and the positives in life. So we continually dream and strive for change as we try to create pleasant environments and positive memories to offset the stresses of reality.

I for one feel like I’m stuck in a rut in the everyday monotony of this thing we call life. All I feel like I do is work. I work at least 52 or more hours a week in a job that I wish I could find a way to get out of. Though it is, to me, the most stress free and easiest part of my day – I feel trapped. It’s a black hole or a vacuum sucking my time and life away as I feel my dreams slip though my fingers. Hence, I constantly find myself chasing my dreams. I have this goal, a vision of whom I think I’m supposed to be, albeit in the eyes of many my life isn’t so bad. I admit when I take a moment to step back and honestly asses the reality of the situation…I have to agree; not a bad life. At the very core of it all I have a wife and two beautiful daughters, a well paying and consistent job that will most likely last forever and I live in San Francisco and go for amazing bike rides… Seriously, what the hell am I complaining about?! Well, I’m just not the “me” I expected myself to be at this point in my life. I’m not meeting my own expectations.

I dream of a day that I am paid to travel the globe and write about the adventures I take with my wife, daughters and bike. I dream about my daughters growing and becoming professional ballet dancers and ultimately owning their own studio and company. I envision my wife running her own company; which I’m working on right now and its gonna be perfect in this city… So given the fact that it is hard for me to accept the monotony and do not understand the meaning of the word “contentment,” essentially I dream of us finally controlling our own life and filling it with adventure.

Regardless of all of this, through thick and thin, you know what the best part of my day is? The one constant motivator to continue chasing my dreams. The one thing that makes life worth it and stops the earth from spinning and protects me from all of its forces against me. The light in the shadows of darkness. The thing that reminds me that I’m actually doing alright… The X-Factor. It’s amazing actually, the feeling I get in my heart and soul. I’m talking about that brief, isolated moment when I tuck my girls in at night and they say these seemingly simple words to me – “I Love You Dad.” Yes, this is the real reason why I’m here. That is my true happiness…and nothing else matters. I love you too girls! Thank you for being everything to me.

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Becoming More Than A Man

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As a Dad I believe I have grown into and embraced what my perception of a “man” should be. Though I realize that I may never really “grow up” I do sincerely understand and happily accept my responsibilities toward my beautiful wife and two daughters. These three ladies have brought huge changes in me and have made an incredible impact on my life at pivotal moments when I needed them most. I feel blessed and privileged that I have the opportunity to guide my girls through the twists and turns of this crazy world and I absolutely cherish the moments as I watch them grow and mature right in front of my eyes. Yes, even the hard times, the chaos, the messes, the fights, the issues with friends and school, the constant need for attention, the lies and intentional disobeying… it is all part of what comes with being a parent. I never imagined I would have kids but now I cannot fathom life without them. They truly love me unconditionally and that is an amazing feeling. I also commit myself to always do my part, my share of work at home (whatever that means… I approach this as a team and we just gotta do what needs to be done when it needs to be done and it doesn’t matter who is doing it). I always remind our girls how much we love them and I love and support my wife no matter what and will always be there for her in her times of need. To me, this is what makes what would otherwise be a boy a man.

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This Christmas morning (2012) I drifted off into a beautiful crystal haze as I relaxed on the couch next to my wife Rachel by the fire in the living room. All the “sniggling” had been done. (“Sniggling” is a term coined by Brianna a few years back referring to the act of crawling under the Christmas tree with the express intent of retrieving the presents in the back.) The presents had been opened, the screeches and happy dances had passed, hugs and kisses had been generously doled out and a sweet treat of Swedish Tea Ring had been enjoyed… I then realized that I was in the midst of a bizarre situation… With the exception of the warm and inviting crackling of the log in the fireplace and the quintessential voices of Bing Crosby and Burl Ives in the background the house was still and silent.

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I looked over at Rachel and found her happily reclined with her new fuzzy socks on reading a book. I skeptically turned my attention to Brianna and Lilah who were blissfully sitting on the floor in the middle of their loot quietly examining each of their gifts with smiles on their faces and thankfulness and joy in their hearts. In that tranquil moment I experienced a phenomenon that I had always assumed was a myth… First you must believe me that this life has been a confusing and trial-filled one for me up to this point and I can only expect the pattern to continue. Perhaps that’s my purpose in life, to endure the trials and tribulations and help others along the way? I hope there is a worthy reason for all of this… but these last two years in particular have been the hardest and not at all fair to my wife and above all, my kids. It’s been a “sucky” couple of years for them and they have deserved none of it! This Christmas I believed we actually may have experienced a legendary “Christmas Miracle” full of peace, love and joy for our freshly invigorated family. The amazing gift I received this year; the myth I mentioned earlier… For the first time in my life I believe I was warmly wrapped in the comfortable glow of contentment.

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Being a Dad and a Husband takes much more than simply being a boy.

(Taken from “Scrooge”)

“I like life
Here and now
Life and I made a mutual vow
‘Till I die
Life and I
We’ll both try to be better some how”

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Kids Bring Change – My Birthday

My birthday has never really been a priority to me. Yes I appreciate the theory and the reality of it – celebrating ones birth by getting a group of friends and family together and having a party. I like the idea for kids because they have all their friends with them and they bring presents etc. But as an adult, actually since I was a teen, I have not had much of a care about my own birthday for various reasons. As a matter of fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t really recall any of my birthdays. Perhaps I have blocked them out along with much of my childhood because I just wasn’t happy back then… (Just keeping that one simple for now) Thankfully this year was different. This birthday I will never forget.

IMG_0959Both of my daughters belong to “Presidio Dance Theater” in San Francisco. Brianna has been dancing there for about 2 and a half years and Lilah for 1. I will leave the details alone for now but I guarantee I’ll be writing about them dancing quite a bit. The short of it all is that I am so proud of them and I love watching them practice and perform. During the 2012 spring performance at the Palace of Fine Arts I read in the program that their winter performance “Beyond the Land of Sweets” was going to be on my birthday! For the first time in my life, that I can remember, I actually had a reason to be excited for my birthday.

5 or 6 months later the evening was creeping up on us. I was so excited and nervous with anticipation. For weeks I was telling people that my girls were giving me a performance for my birthday. It was obvious that I was excited and proud. It truly felt like the whole thing was just for me. The day was suddenly upon us, my Mom had come to visit to see her granddaughters perform and spend time with us. We sat together in Herbst Theater waiting for the curtain to open; we were stressed. Rachel (my wife) was working backstage directing traffic and helping with quick changes etc. dealing with the chaos behind the scenes. When Brianna took the stage in perfect form and confidence a sense of pride and exhilaration rushed through me. She was so beautiful, so composed… so professional. I watched, holding back tears of joy and unexplainable emotions. Then Lilah took the stage for her first time in a major performance dressed as a Snow Angel in a white dress with red trim and a silver tinsel halo. I lost it. Tears rolled down my cheeks, my chin quivered and my heart pounded. When she exited stage a sense of calmness finally embraced me. My kids are fine, they are performers, just relax… This was probably the proudest moment in my life. The show carried on and Brianna had quite a bit of stage time, mostly front stage too and Lilah had one more appearance as well. It was simply amazing!

IMG_0914The intense love and indescribable emotional connection that I have for my daughters manifested itself on that one simple day in December that I other wise would have normally treated like any other monotonous day. I see my birthday these days as something that makes my kids happy because they can show me their love and appreciation that I’m their dad by giving me some gifts and making me a cake. That’s been slowly changing my heart too. Seeing the love and appreciation for me in my daughter’s eyes if a gift above all others. It has been giving me a sense of worth and purpose. It helps me get through the daily grind. It helps me understand unconditional love. I love my kids more than anything in this world and I will make any sacrifice and ridiculous efforts to give them a good life and be the best father I can be. When they gave me an amazing performance on my birthday I melted and beamed with bliss and adoration as the troubles and obstacles that the world throws at me disintegrated and blew away like ashes in the wind. Thank you Brianna and Lilah for continually changing my life for the better and for giving me the most memorable and happiest of birthdays ever!

I love you!