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Five Things

I am grateful for…

  1. … a helpful highway patrolman who stopped and lent me a lug wrench to change the flat tire that I had on the way to work.
  2. … the color green.
  3. … the opportunity to make choices.
  4. … a good night’s rest.
  5. … the opportunity to be a father.

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Five Things

I am grateful for…

  1. … time off from work that reminds me that I am not my job (and takes me far enough out of my routine that I forgot to post one of these on Monday).
  2. … time spent at the park with my family and my nice niece and her family.
  3. … a clean house.
  4. … girls who regularly astound me with how much they’re learning and the wonderful people that they’re becoming.
  5. … the scary realization that people at work put a lot of trust in me.

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Lessons Learned During a Week Without Blogging

Like a hairy (but disarmingly handsome) prophet am I come back from the promised land.

In case you didn’t notice, I took last week off from blogging, both reading and writing. I responded to a couple of comments here to avoid being discourteous. Other than that, I put myself on a strict no-blog diet.

Twyla Tharp‘s book The Creative Habit (via 43 Folders) inspired me to swear off blogs for a week. Her examples of voluntary sacrifices that can foster creativity made it clear that blogs were a perfect choice for me.

My conscience had been nagging me that blogging had become an unbalanced part of my life. My daughters often came to me as I sat on the couch reading blogs and asked to read a book or play with me. I (irritated by the distraction) would brush them aside, “Not now. I’m reading. Maybe later?”

How fucking backwards! My time with my daughters is slipping away one minute at a time, and I feel obligated to get my feed reader down to zero unread posts? That is the very definition of having my priorities upside down.

Blogging is great. I love that people the world over are having conversations. I have let that conversation with relative strangers distract from my relationship with the people closest to me. There have been far too many days where I came home from work and spent no meaningful time with my family because I was blogging.

Blogging also provides an easy way to procrastinate while feeling like I’m accomplishing something. I do my duty to stay an informed citizen by reading blogs while I put off all those projects that intimidated me too much to even start them. The blogosphere kindly provided a never ending supply of new blog posts to read. Meanwhile, I left important things undone.

So I took the week off from blogging. I also took a week off from work and spent my time at home. So what did I do with all that time? I read the newspaper. I caught up on my reading (books). I played with the girls. I watched movies. I did a few chores. We took field trips to museums and state parks. I worked on long neglected projects. I relaxed. I remembered what it was like to live in a world without blogs.

I noticed something. The non-blog stuff that I read or watched was well thought out and lucidly presented. I felt rewarded for my time spent with them. I imagine the creators put their creations through at least two drafts before giving me the finished product. Let’s face it. With occasional exceptions, a lot of the blog world barely makes it through one draft. It’s a world full of rough drafts that we dash off and send out with a spellcheck (maybe) and a smile. It’s easy to waste time on this noisy channel trying to separate out the valuable from the dross.

Perhaps I am judging the blogging world too harshly. It is more like a conversation with friends than reading a book or watching a movie. Even so, I think I should spend less time chatting with friends and more time with my girls while they’re still interested in spending time with dear ol’ Dad, more time romancing my wife, and more time accomplishing something meaningful to me.

So now what?

I’ll make a deal with you blog-o-sphere: I’ll keep reading in moderation and put my posts through at least two drafts when it’s appropriate (I sat on this post all week), if you’ll forgive me for not reading everything that comes my way. Once I can read all my blogs in about 30–45 minutes a day, I’m done. Any new kid on the block who has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove will have to bump someone else off my reading list.


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Five Things

You may not have noticed. In these posts, I have avoided the mention of negative aspects of the things I am grateful for. It is really easy to fall into the mode of “This thing over here is pretty crappy, but I’m grateful for it because…”. That seems contrary to what I’m trying to achieve: more openness to the good things in my life.

So, I try to never use the word “but” when expressing gratitude. Instead, I focus solely on the parts that I’m thankful for.

  1. LDS Church, thank you for introducing me to many good people. There are worse ways to start out in life than being surrounded by people who try hard to do what they see as the right thing and who repeatedly emphasize how important it is to know the truth.
  2. Thank you to my employer. I am grateful for the means to consistently put food in front of my family.
  3. To my daughters, thank you for teaching me what it means to be a human being.
  4. To the authors of Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex, but Were Afraid They’d Ask, thank you for giving me a more reasoned, accepting view of my own sexual development. It’s good to know that I grew up rather typically. I’m sure my daughters will also have reason to thank you in years to come.
  5. I am grateful for the chance to get good sleep. For this, I mostly have to thank myself. It’s up to me to make the most of the opportunities I have.

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Daddy, You are the Weakest Link

Part of the bedtime ritual we share with our daughters involve “playing pirate”. My hand—in classic hand puppet style—plays the part of the pirate, and the girls interact with it, usually by attacking it, threatening to marry it, etc.

I’ve been thinking about it lately (there’s a cerebral daddy for you) in terms of improvisational theater. Improvisers take an attitude known by “Yes! And…“. If an improviser adds something to the collaborated scene, it helps things to keep flowing if her partners take that idea and run with it rather than refusing the offer. So if one person says hello to the gorilla that just walked into the room, everyone goes along for the ride.

Kids are natural improvisers. They’ll make an entire world from whole cloth without batting an eye. Most of the time, I’m the drag trying to keep things real.

“Why is that cat flying? That’s pretty crazy!”

“How can that car float in the ocean? That’s silly.”

From now on, I’m going to try to pull my own weight and see where my girls will take me.

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