Sunday, March 22, 2015


It is said you should live life to its fullest.  Often, we interpret this as logging up a pile of experiences and events that range from meaningful to exciting to extreme or unique and far from the ordinary or common.

I look at my daughter and realize that she will most likely be cheated out of many fulfilling experiences or events and it strikes me that the definitions of "live life to its fullest" are relative and unique to each individual.

It is a highlight of a constant internal struggle I have with my parenting.  How do I find the balance of accepting her limitations without holding her back and denying her because of them? You may read this and think, "Why do you think she won't be able to do things others can? Don't you pay attention to the beautiful stories we hear and see seemingly daily about people defying the odds and doing things everyone told them they couldn't?"

I do. And that is my struggle.  While I want to provide her opportunities to experience anything and everything, I have to temper these wishes with the idea that many things just will not and cannot happen for her.

I can even take it to an extreme and think about classmates and friends of hers who are restricted physically, bound to a wheelchair or other apparatus.  They miss out on so much, it breaks my heart.

This is their life.  It is permanent.  Not a temporary injury to heal. It has always been and always will be their reality and their one shot at life.  If you really think about it, it can be overwhelmingly depressing.  At some point my mind will wonder and I will be back to an everyday life blessed with countless experiences, opportunities and possibilities.  They will still be here.

How can they live life to its fullest? 

Their "fullest" is limited in comparison to most.

It is a brutal question.

So I return back to how one lives a full life.  

We think of travel and excitement.  I think of a Bucket List.  Checking off a list of experiences or events to do or accomplish.

But why are these items on a checklist so important?  What gives them their meaning?

It's the emotion attached to these events, right?

The thrill, the love, the calm, the warmth, the excitement, the connection, the rise and fall, the victory, whatever emotion that these items on your list elicit are what makes you feel full. 

 The people you share them with as well, but even they are an emotion or connection.

 Living life to its fullest really isn't about the events after all.  It is about feeling the feelings.

Therefore, the Bucket List is bologna.  You don't need it to live your fulfilled life.

The key, the essence of living is wrapped up in the emotion, the feelings.  And this can be done right now.

You can start living life to the fullest by immersing yourself in the emotion of everyday life.  Fill yourself with emotions regardless of what it is.


Maybe my daughter doesn't experience feelings and relationships the way the rest of us do.  Maybe she never will get to do the things many people do and I will feel she is cheated.

Maybe her friends will not get to jump from an airplane, run a marathon, swim across a pool independently and so on. Maybe their loved ones will agonize over what can't be done instead of what can be done.

But they can immerse themselves in what they do feel. 

They can live their lives to the fullest.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

February 15, 2005

Happy 2015, readers!

Even though I am a month and a half ahead of schedule with this post, it was the first thing on my mind this year and I felt like sharing it now, shredding the restrictions of writing things devoted to a date on that actual date.

Dates are just numbers anyway.  Their only meaning is the organization of the important things like events, memories and feeling, right?

Now that we are in 2015, it has been a decade since my wife and I started dating.  This seems like a minor detail that should have been discarded after our wedding and I suppose it is, but the story that goes with it is one I cherish and never hesitate to share.  This morning my thoughts revolved around our story and the decade that has passed together.

It is a big deal to me because ten years in is still not much more than the 9 years of our relationship prior which was much more casual. Sometimes it still strikes me that Vicki is my wife.  That is weird.  Who knew?

To catch everybody up, Vic and I met in 1996. We immediately struck up a really cool friendship that I held dear. The friendship waxed and waned.  We had other people in our lives, but we always maintained some level of correspondence.

In the beginning, we hung out often.  I visited her dorm, she would come to our off campus parties, we played softball and so on.  Over the summer we talked regularly on the phone and I would come up to Cleveland to hang out with her and her friends and she even came all the way out to my Dad's house where I would stay to hang out. Those were some LATE nights. We were young.

Things remained very casual though. I was clearly in the "friend zone." But it was never about that really. For nine years it was never about that.  I was fine with it.  This is why I wake up on New Year's morning with our son and daughter invading our bed thinking, "how the?"

Some years we were closer than others.  We may go a year or two with nothing more than emails meant only to secure her alumni football tickets.  Other years we were taking a bar tending class together.  Or she was a bridesmaid in my wedding.  Or I was flying all the way out to LA to visit her. Or she swung through my packed up apartment to meet my baby girl who was less than a month old.

2004 everything changed.

I found myself hitting the reset button on my life.  This time with toddler to care for. The reset was not a clean slate.  There was a good bit of baggage and I had plenty of cleaning up to do.  So things looked scary if not daunting for me.

I still remember this like it was yesterday.

I thought about calling Vic to hang out like old times.  In the moment, it was nothing different than the countless past phone calls.  I hadn't talked to her in awhile so I wasn't sure if she was with someone and I was uncomfortable intruding so I hesitated.

I asked my sister and her friend what they thought and quickly the conversation became more than I originally intended because for some reason, I decided to bring up the idea to see if she would be interested in going to my brother's wedding with me.

Again, I was at a scary place.  I knew I would be fine going solo and I knew I should have and settled on it. No way did I want to bring a date to that situation.  It would have been awkward and uncomfortable for everybody.

But I hated the idea of being alone after so many years of not. It was scary and embarrassing.

Suddenly, here was a perfect scenario and sharing it only made my sister and friend push even more to call her.

Here I had an established friendship.  There was no weird, secret motives and questions.  Vic and I were both clear on where we stood and had enough of a history that our interaction would have been smooth and comfortable.  She knew my brother, my family and our friends already from my wedding and our years hanging out in college. There was plenty of familiarity to ease things.  Conversation would be fine, dancing would be fine, all that.  Nothing we hadn't done a million times before.

(I've told this story a million times, you've heard or read it I'm sure.  It never gets old for me)

So I called.

No answer. Voicemail.

Crap.  I never should have done this!  Big mistake.  Abort.  ABORT!


"Oh hey, Vic.  I'm in town.  Thought I'd see if you wanted to hang out.  Gimme a call if you'd like."

No way am I asking her to a stupid wedding.  No way.  Thank God for that voicemail.


$h!t that's her.

This phone call changed my life.

No, I never brought up the wedding til months maybe years later. But we did find ourselves in another long, but thoroughly enjoyable phone call like the old days.  The Summer of '96.  Feels like it should be a Bryan Adams song but it was nothing like that.

It was cathartic for me.  Maybe both of us.

We both dropped bombs on each other sharing some personal stuff.  We found we were both at the doorstep of some major changes and both of us were scared.

Things picked up from there despite not meeting that weekend at the horse track.  I know, lovely invite, huh?  Horse track.  No wonder she turned me down.

I visited Lakewood more often.  She came out to my Dad's.  Our emails grew more rampant.  I cared a whole more about getting emails.  Every time I checked the inbox, I quietly begged there would be one from her. I moved my schedule to make time to visit her.  I never visited home so much.

It was about to get weird.

By the time 2005 came around, specifically February 15th, Vic and I began the scary future together.

That was a decade ago.

A decade.

A marriage.  A house.  Kids.

We have changed tremendously and I would think for the better.  I know I like who I am now better than who I was then.  Although, I wasn't really that bad back then in my opinion, I just needed to grow to get to where I am now which is where I want and wanted to be by now.

Vic often cites how much she appreciates people in her life for making her a better person.  This past decade she has made me a better person and I hope I have contributed to make her a better person.

This past decade hasn't been easy.  This is no romantic movie or book.  It has been difficult, extremely difficult at times. We still deal with our personal challenges. To be frank, that is the only way change happens is through work and effort and difficulty.  If it's easy, it ain't changin'.

I appreciate how we have both kept our eyes on the prize and pushed forward with respect for each other. i think that is the key to relationships, hard work and sticking to it.

I don't know how the next decade goes. Hell, I don't even know if we will still be together so I can write on 2016's New Year's morning about how we met 20 years ago that year.

But I hope so.  This story is too good and too important to me.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Small Moments Count

I was listening to my good friend, Chris, in his interview on a podcast about near death experiences.  He has made some significant changes in his life for the better and shared a number of things that struck me.

Among them was that he viewed life being about the small things.

Now, the meaning of life may or may not be boiled down to something simple like this.  This comment of his may have also been more about everyday life than the grand idea of life. Regardless, as Chris has often done over the years, he got me thinking.

My reflection here is about that statement.

The reason it struck me was because I find myself looking at the big events and the impactful experiences as the important, life defining moments.  Graduations, weddings, birth of children, new jobs, the list goes on of things that defined my life and its goodness.

But Chris' point is good.  Could it be that the smile of pride on my mom's face at my graduation, my Dad's uncrackable spin that the pouring rain during the graduation ceremony was enjoyable, the first touch of my children in my hands, the look in my wife's eyes when she listened to me say my vows, the fist pumps when I accepted the position at Cranbrook or Linden were actually the stuff of life instead of those experiences themselves as a whole?

Or maybe not even these.

Maybe it is the deep breath I took earlier today.  The cool summer breeze passing around me. The quiet of a winter day lying in the snow. The runner high after a run.  The green leaves filling the trees in the summer.

What makes is probably those moments you assume you will forget that have no major resume type significance.

Another view I have taken over the years has been that the feelings involved with these grand accomplishments or moments are what give life meaning.  So, again, it is less the moment itself and more some aspect connected to it.

Therefore, appreciating these moments or the feelings connected to them are key.

Check out his interview here.  It is worth the half hour or so.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Kids

In an effort to stay present and to give my children more undivided attention, I have had several moments over the past couple days that have been nice. While doing so, I noticed a couple of things:

First, Miss M is reading more and more everyday.  She is at the very beginning of her development so it is mostly sight words, guesses from picture cues, some impressive phonemic awareness and a good bit of memorization from other times the books have been read to her.  The mixture of all these components though are proving to be beneficial as her reading vocabulary grows even more quickly by the day.  

It is exciting to see.  But it is even more exciting to see how excited she gets as she reads and feels our amazement.  She beams with pride and giggles in her unique little Muppet way. I'm so glad we have filled her world with books.


With A quickly approaching adolescence, there have been a number of frustrating moments.  As a result, I worry that my place in her life is more of an angry authority figure barking demands and directives. So it has been a goal to increase the positives with her.  I can't shy away from the discipline.  It is important that she learns many of these things regarding hygiene, diet, manners, communication and so on as she becomes an independent person.  But I also I want her to know me as a loving and caring person in her life.

An idea I had was to turn off the radio in the car.  I have the luxury of seeing her everyday.  So I'm taking better advantage by purposely having more conversation with her as difficult as that may be for her. I try to keep the conversation about her and show a genuine interest in her.


A and M are sisters.  They get along like sisters do.  They have had an established relationship before the boy came along.

M and E have grown up together quite literally. They have spent a good bit of time together going to the same baby sitter for three years.  A leaves from time to time to be with her mother, but these two stay together. They, like all siblings, have a love/hate relationship that goes from one to the other and back in the blink of an eye. It is a very common thing.  

In addition, they are close in age while A is more of an outlier being 7 years old when M was born. So M and E are close in this respect as well.

Slowly, I see a relationship building between A, my oldest, and E, my youngest though. The disparity in age means there is not much for them to connect with other than being siblings.  Even though they get along just fine, there is not much overlap.

Until now.

As E develops a love for and an interest in sports, he and A are finding a connection.  A has long been involved in different sports and participates in Special Olympics each year. She is my Buckeye buddy watching the games with me over the years. I taught her to dislike TTUN as an infant.  She sings the fight song, Carmen Ohio and any marching band tune you can think of and play for her.

So, M plays in her grand world of imagination, perfectly content on her own (even preferably) as E and A run around the house kicking a baby ball like soccer feeding off one another, sometimes without words and I can't help but smile inside and play along.

Then it ends with someone mad at another or Mom shutting it down as she tries to have some semblance of peace and serenity.

I am excited to see how my offspring's relationships with one another develop over the coming years.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Marathon Metaphor

This Sunday, the Columbus Marathon is finally here and my wife and I will be participating in the half.  We are both excited.

Although, with me, nothing can just be. Everything has to have meaning above and beyond just itself.  It may be an awfully annoying trait to many of you, nevertheless, it is what it is.

For me, this half-marathon takes on more meaning than just a race.  In fact, it is even more than running farther than I ever have in my life.  It represents more than just accomplishing a goal that took steady, committed work to achieve.

About two years ago, I was at a crossroads personally. I made a commitment to myself to improve in three areas.  These three areas included my spirituality, my mental/emotional well being and physically.

In the two years since this decision I have executed a three pronged plan with some success and some set backs.  Fortunately, this is a life long commitment so failure isn't anything I cannot fix or have not been able to fix.

If I am able to complete this race without stopping, it will represent a major step forward in one of these components I have been working on.

When I started, I could barely run 1 mile without wanting to rip my lungs out through my nose. It was a parallel to the other challenges I found myself facing internally.

The fact that I have progressed to where I am now is pretty impressive in my opinion and I have gained a tremendous amount of pride and confidence as a result.  Finally, I have set a goal and stuck to it. 

There is a noticeable difference in where I am now and where I was when I started.

This is the thing about the physical element of my improvement plan.  The changes are easier to see and feel and measure.  The mental and emotional aspects, though, are much less obvious.  In that case, you wake up one morning and suddenly realize, "Whoa.  I have changed." But along the way there is little to see and feel.  Changes happen without knowing it like watching grass grow or water boil.

In my case, the mental and emotional change is much more difficult to improve as well.  I have spent all my life thinking one way, therefore, I can't expect wholesale changes overnight.  So it can be frustrating, especially when I slip into old habits which I do often.

I have needed these observable successes with my running to help motivate me mentally. 

This is why the upcoming half-marathon represents more to me than just a race or something to share with my wife in a time where we feel split in two different directions parenting and earning a living and having numerous separate interests.

Making it through the whole race without stopping regardless of time after devoting numerous evenings, dialogue and positive mental work to the preparation, will prove to me with a tangible accomplishment that the goals I set for myself two years ago after a trip back home to gather myself with my family have not gone to waste and there is legitimate reason to believe I can keep working past the set backs and maintain this growth I have worked for since fall of 2012.

For me, this race means I am winning at life.....even if I finish last.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Birth of the Storm

I am training for a half marathon.  I've never trained for anything in my life.  I am clearly excited about reaching this goal to finish without stopping because I often share my thoughts and experiences about it.

This post is no different.

During a particularly enjoyable short run tonight, I enjoyed a perfect temperature, a comfortable pace, the realization of how far I've come and how improved my endurance has become as well as the smoothness of the motion.

My playlist was also hitting the mark with a nice variety of songs that normally don't shuffle on during my runs.

One song, "How You Like Me Now" by The Heavy took me back to a distant memory.

I started reminiscing about when I hooped in Cleveland.  It is a story many have heard before.

I was heckled up and down the court.  It was bad. Real bad.

For whatever reason, I kept going.  That's how bad I wanted to play and no trash talk was going to keep me away.

But I never said a word back.  It wasn't my neighborhood.  It wasn't my place.

To be frank, I was the only white guy there and the trash I heard was because I was white and not from there.


Back to the story, I never never got the ball.  Nobody guarded me but that was mostly because nobody guarded anyone. The only time I got touches was when I mixed it up and rebounded.


Finally, one time it got to me.  Maybe the losing was getting to me.  It was a long time ago, I can't really remember details.  Mostly visions.

And words.

The only words I said......."GIVE ME THE DAMN BALL!"

I was alone in the corner.  I can see it now.  The look on the kid's face.  Almost in mockery.  It was as if he said, "you talking to me? YOU want the damn ball?  You?  Alright then, shoot."

So I made it rain.

I looked him in the eye (or so I like to think.  I probably looked to the ground) and pointed to him for his dime and turned to run back.


The Storm was born.

After that I received the ball more often.  I dropped more bombs. The heckles and jabs slowly morphed into chants of "BIRD!!"  The most recognized white baller at the time.

I remained silent.  It was more fun to smile and soak it in.

Soon my buddy joined me and he quickly earned the tag of Paxson and other names.  Ehlo. Stockton. The list goes on and I bet he remembers better than I do.  We made a good team though.  I was happy to have some one to share that with from my "neighborhood."

Later, I would have similar stories. Staff vs student basketball games that were way more competitive than one would think.  Middle school kids are bigger and better than you'd assume them to be these days.  At least they were at the school I taught in which was coincidentally in the same neighborhood where I rained threes in high school.

Nobody gave me the ball.  Grown adults.  Still, I couldn't get a look, still heckled by my students in the stands.

Then I hit that one three.  My only shot.  Crowd erupted.

All I did was smile.

When I returned to Columbus, I played in a league with my school among teachers from other schools. Again, super competitive for a bunch of out of shape, gym class heroes.

This time, I got the ball.  And still, it rained.  It poured.

I told the stories of my youth and a fellow teacher donned the name, "The Silent Storm."

"Mr. Huey don't say a lot.  But when he shoots....he makes it rain."

I love it.  How You Like Me Now?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Angry Meditation, Track Record and The Kid

I question if there are more than two maybe three people that read this blog regularly and one of them is my mother.  Not that she doesn't count, but c'mon.  Mom's are supposed to be your biggest fan.  Good ones anyway and since mine is one of the good ones, there ya go.

But among those two or three readers, you'll notice that this post will mirror my blog as a whole.  It really isn't one "thing" or subject, but more of a series of random thoughts or subjects taking up space in my head.

It truly is a public "diary of lost in between."  

I have three thoughts or reflections to share with you and I hope the three of you find it interesting.  Please show me some attention and respond with your thoughts or feelings or personal takes on them even if you disagree.

Angry Mediation

This summer, I was a mental headcase.  If I wasn't moving on form it, I would still be searching for reasons why.  I struggled to find peace and I felt miserable.  Without a particular reason or event to point to and say, "That.  That is why I feel like crap," I fell deeper in a confused, angry state and even felt hopeless and helpless.

Very dramatic, I know.  I'm trying to paint a picture here so go with me.

One strategy I tried to help was meditation.  I would find time to be alone and work on separating myself from everything.  I was trying t release the anger.

There was success.  But it was temporary.

It was very difficult though to keep the anger out.  From what I understand, when it comes to meditation, it isn't something you work at.  It just happens.  

I could be wrong.  

I know it didn't feel right most of the time.  The anger consumed me.  I was immersed in it,

The success came once I found music.  I came across a song I would listen to in college.  No words.  It was a long 8 minutes or so but it was an effective tool to take me to a positive place.  The sound, rhythm, beat and so on was soothing,

So I used this song intentionally.  I focused on positive visions like swings at a park. 

I may have shared this already, but I love swings.  Always have.  My kids love swings.  The steady back and forth provide a rhythm and peace.  I then go to the top of a roller coaster at Cedar Point.  Another place that holds plenty of positive memories and vibes for me.

The whole time this song plays.

I share this because I think I may have left that angry place I was this summer.  Again, no known reason why.  I'm working on it.  But I haven't figured out the origin of any of this.  I may not figure it out.

But the song returned tonight.  As I ran, the playlist shuffle came across the song.  Running has served as a stress relief, spiritual experience and more so it was a perfect time to get back on the swing and the top of the first hill on the Millennium or Magnum at Cedar Point.

But this time I didn't need to force out feelings.  This time I could let the feelings be.

Track Record

As mentioned above, I was not in a great place this summer in the head.  When this happens, I slip into a pathetic pattern of self-pity.  My wife is good at setting me straight, often to my dismay (sometimes you need to vent and cleanse the pity, I swear you do).

Again, a behavior I am working on.  But the work I have decided to do, since I keep claiming to be a "realist" and one who doesn't ignore the negative if it is there, is look back on my life and find true instances where I have proven my worth.

In this case, I was reflecting on my track record of improvement.  So in an exercise to focus on these positive, anti-pity thoughts, I'll share with my three readers and maybe hear some of your examples.

This is my second time around as a husband.  I wasn't a good one the first time.  Obviously.  I have proven that I can be a better husband.  Trust me.  We've had a bunch thrown at us and here we stand.

I'm a better Dad.  Full disclosure.  I have some issues that still need major improvement.  My patience is embarrassing.  I need to give more attention.  I'm not the strictest disciplinarian and I don't instill a nutritious enough value in their diets. I'm often lazy.

Wait.  This was supposed to be positive.  That quickly spiraled into another pity party. 

I have plenty of things to work on which excites me.  Another post for the future! "How I became a better Dad...Again."

I'm better than I once was at parenting.

When I played baseball back in high school, I couldn't make contact with the ball let alone get a hit. I went to the batting cages in Euclid every night.  EVERY.  NIGHT.

The second half of the year I hit .600.  Of course, the first half was so bad, my season ending average was only .291 if I remember right, which sucks in city league baseball.


Back in college my roommate and I played a good bit of tennis.  He destroyed me every time.  To this day I have yet to beat him.  In fact I am not sure I have even won a game let alone a set. Or a match.  

Side Note:  Same roommate beat me in racquetball AS I TAUGHT HIM HOW TO PLAY with a class under my belt!!!!!!

Improvement? Later my brother and his roommate, a friend from back home, played doubles with us and my serve was killer.  I was clearly way better than the days I played with my brother growing up.


I was always an average to below average straight ball bowler. Maybe a 120 pin average.  Maybe. After several years of league bowling?  160 average and a number of 200+ games.

Improvement.  In fact, measurable improvement: 40 pins. 30% increase.

Soccer All Star after years of playing.


When I entered teaching, I could barely keep a class of middle schoolers in their seats.  Now I can hush a lunchroom full of students to silence with a tap of the microphone.


My students' test scores when I entered teacher were sub 20%. When I left that school they were in the 60%s.


Now 70%-80% are passing and most of them barely speak English.


Just last spring I huffed and puffed through my first 5k.  Jumped for joy that I just finished without stopping.  This year every race was under 30 minutes and one was 27:05.


I'm currently improving as we speak as I grow closer and closer to that half-marathon.


I went years, maybe a decade without reading a book.  Several years ago, I made a New Year's resolution to read and write more. This blog was born and I have lost count of the books I read since. I even started a Facebook group for fellow readers to share my reading.


Proof there is no reason I can't improve that mental black hole that was this summer.  Or improve anything for that matter.

The Kid

I mentioned not long ago that I set a goal to increase the positive experiences with my daughter.  I felt there were too many negative moments.  Negative in that I had to discipline or respond to negative behavior.  Not anything major or scary, but a run of normal parenting moments that aren't fun for either parent or child.  It was just a long stretch and it was bothering me.

Success.  What a great week.  The positive has snowballed and I see her responding and legitimately altering her behavior independently from what she wants to do to what she should do.  I'm proud of her.

Now I am trying to do the same with my other child who I also feel has received too much negative Daddy interaction and not enough happy Daddy experience.  Again, nothing scary or major.  Normal toddler stuff.  But too much intervention.  I hope to repeat the success I found with my oldest.

Good night, readers.  Would love to hear from you, particularly regarding your meditation or prayer practices.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Looking Through The Mirror

Without a doubt, I cherish my years in the 90s at The Ohio State University.

In and of themselves, those years were the most free, fun and developmental years of my life.  Much of who I am today is based on those years.  Many of my dearest friends come that period of my life.

Now, I am two decades removed from the beginning of that period of life and I often miss it dearly.  When I try to relive those times, I quickly realize that I am not even close to the same person I was then.

This is both good and bad.

On one hand, I can't behave that way anymore.  First, I just can't pull it off.  Second, I don't want to because the consequences are far too painful. This body just ain't the same it once was.  Third, I have WAY too many responsibilities and little people counting on me to act that way right now.

On the other hand, I am so much more wise.  I know when to slow down, speed up, keep my mouth shut, or say something and what to say.  I know my limits.  I know what I know and what I don't.

I am a different person.

While I miss who I was and what I did and long to be able to repeat that lifestyle, I am happy where I am now and it is vastly different.

So tonight I visit campus and I enjoy an amazing show at a venue that holds numerous memories, mostly positive, overwhelmingly positive. I get a slice of pizza and grab a beer.  I feel many of those same feelings I felt 20 years ago but through  much different lens.

I realize I am very lucky.

I can appreciate those times for what they were.  I can appreciate having grown out of them.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Battle For Humility

I had a conversation with my wife awhile back in which she said she needs to stay humble.  If not, she will begin to think she has control and that is when things get bad.

More recently I had a similar conversation with a dear friend of mine.

Both have made dramatic adjustments, one can say improvements, in their lives and I believe this way of thinking relates to these positive changes and their efforts to maintain their current, much better state of mind.

This summer I watched a documentary on a Philadelphia high school football team that had a rival school merge with them causing a heavy dose of challenges for everyone involved.  Throughout the documentary I heard the coaches talk about staying humble.

Finally, many religious friends of mine often speak of humility and the importance of knowing their God is in control they are not.

It is enough to make a man, at least this man, start to reflect and examine humility.

I have two driving questions that have stuck with me as I have thought about it the past several months. First, why?  Why is humility so important?  If you know me, you are ready for the upcoming, predictable disclaimer:  I am not asking to challenge these people or hide some counter agenda, I'm asking because I want to examine and analyze why.

Secondly, more personally, how does practicing humility work with someone like me who struggles with self-esteem and needs to manufacture confidence, sometimes exaggerating to "fake it 'til I make it?"

So why is humility important?

The first thought that came to me is how annoying an egotistical know-it-all can be and how that often makes them a target.  At least for me, I have always been afraid of being perceived as such because I didn't want the target or the opposition. I also wanted (want) people to like me or respect me so this people pleasing flaw didn't mesh with making enemies or bothering people.

This seems way to shallow.  There has to be a better, more thorough reasoning behind the importance of humility.

I read so much about the problem of the "ego" which is the opposite of humility. This could be a better starting point.  The ego is our perception of ourselves.  As a result, we judge everything, maybe without even realizing it, as good or bad, favorable or unfavorable and this feeds the ego.

As we get caught up in this whirlwind of feeling good or bad, we naturally want more good.  So our actions now become more and more dependent on obtaining this good or avoiding the bad.

Soon, we feel in control.  Now I have come full circle to my wife's point.

I think.

As we feel in control, we lose touch with the reality that this control is fake, a facade. It is only our perception, not the truth.

The more we care about this perception or illusion, the easier it is to succumb to our demons.  What we need to do is work towards an idea that is less I and you or them and more us. The goal is to become more connected with humanity, your God, nature, the universe, take your pick.

Lose the the judgments both good and bad about everything.

Remember, this is my uneducated, unprofessional opinion which hopefully will lead to responses.

Finally, how does all of this relate to someone like me who needs to demonstrate more confidence? Who needs to quit beating himself up repeatedly and agonizing over every mistake?

I may have answered it already.

Writing this post has brought to mind how it isn't a matter of good and bad, right and wrong. Humility, my need to feel better about myself needs to be able detaching from all those judgments and attaching or connecting to everyone and everything in a more neutral manner.

The context of humility may look different to different people.  You may give your problems to God.  You may let go of your challenges.  You may focus on the now and only the now as it is, not good, not bad, just now.

Whatever.  The end is the same.  Suspend judgments. Let it be.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Miserable Happiness

The title got ya, didn't it?

"I'm only happy when it rains
I'm only happy when it's complicated
And though I know you can't appreciate it
I'm only happy when it rains."
                 ---Garbage "Only Happy When it Rains"

I mostly include those lyrics simply because it is an excuse to proclaim my celebrity crush on Shirley Manson. I loved their first two albums, I'd be lying if I claimed otherwise regardless of how bad their pop 90s punk may have been. Technically, I hate it when it rains.  It depresses me. So there's that.

As I wrote in a previous post, I hate that I am seen as negative, an Eeyore clone or a buzz kill.  I wish I wasn't that way and I am working on it.

But there is truth to it. I'm reminded of it repeatedly this summer.

My sister and I have (and some other friends on Facebook) taken part in an exercise in which we post things that make us happy for 100 straight days.  I think I may be past the 100 days or I may be coming close, but it has become a good habit that I plan to continue regardless of the number.

This exercise forces me out of my old habit of seeking what is wrong as if listing all the bad gives me some kind of control over it.

But these old habits don't die easily.  This one has been formed over 30 years of hard work.  I can't expect it to change in just over 3 months!

In addition, I have worked very hard to change the way I think and talk with varying results, some success, lots of failure. I have meditated.  I have confided in trusted friends and family.  I have even sought professional help and support.  I have purposely exercised more and used this exercise to sort through thoughts.  I was reading as well until the weather warmed and I found myself preferring to be more active. I'm trying to slowly crowd out the bad with good.

But it has been extremely difficult and revealed some sobering realizations, epiphanies, if you will.

One such eye opening revelation came in a conversation with my sister who said she wakes up every day happy.  It is natural for her.  She really doesn't need the exercise like I do, but continues to finish what she started I assume.

Wakes up happy?  Naturally?

What the....?

Like a slap in the face, this hurt.

I always felt and thought and claimed that beneath my shield of pessimism that protects me from let downs and disappointments (but really doesn't), I was really an optimist and very happy.

The simple statement from my sister struck me.  It was clear to me that I am not like that.  I never wake up happy.

I work at it.  I work really hard.

The thing is, I shouldn't have to work.  I am reminded by myself as well as countless others of how blessed I am and how lucky I am and grateful I should be.

I am grateful.  I write gratitude lists, I think gratitude lists frequently.  My meditations often are purposeful thoughts of these things because they make me happy.

So why aren't I just happy?

My high school yearbook from my senior year had a box with a list of several students including me and one word to describe us.

My word?


Wait.  What?  How the?

I swear to you that this is true.  I would cite the page number if I wasn't too lazy to go dig through my crawl space in my basement to find the box with my yearbook in it.  You will have to trust me on this.  I really have no benefit in making this up.

So basically I am a fraud. I've been living a lie to myself.

This brings me to where I am today.  What makes me truly happy without effort, like my sister?

I have confided in a close friend I hold in high regard.  We have been corresponding and actually helping each other out.  It is a true definition of support system.  I expressed how music has found its way into my meditations this week and how much it has helped.  I am not sure that is how it is supposed to work.  But he understood.  Music is magical he wrote.  He has found similar value, but his own value, in it.

I don't have to put forth effort with the right music. It takes me to a place I want to be on its own.  I think about my children, sunny days, baseball games, floating in a pool on a hot day, lying in the snow listening to the silence of winter and letting the cold take over, blank feelings like excitement, satisfaction, coolness, warmth and so on.

But in the end, I think the effort I am putting forth may be defeating the purpose.  As I continue, I seek how I can truly, for real, let go and allow the happy to come to the surface.  Stop thinking so much.

Until then, I will probably keep finding misery in this happiness.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where Should Sports Fall In Our Brain Space Of Interest?

Let's pretend we have a finite amount of space in our heads for interests and concerns and attention.  We can only fit so much and address it all effectively. When we gain a new interest, we need to make room somehow.  In order to handle it all, we need to prioritize things and compartmentalize them.  Where do sports and where should sports fit in all of this?

This is an attempt on my part to reflect on this using the recent sports news as a model. This isn't award worthy writing, mine never is though.  Think of this as more stream of consciousness.

I am a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

The good news this past Friday that LeBron James, arguable the best player in the NBA right now, will return home to play for my Cavs has stirred a hurricane of emotion for me and I imagine many of my fellow fans who look beyond the simple reaction of renewed relevance and winning for our team.

Obviously, I am thrilled at the prospects of my team winning a title.  But I am struggling with the conflicting feelings of resolving my animosity towards LeBron James for leaving the first time.  My stubborn tendencies create an inner turmoil I can't seem to shake.

Most of my friends have quickly forgotten their bitterness, some were not as bitter as I was and more accepting. But I was pissed.

How do I come out of this looking anything other than a contradicting fool?

Honestly, I don't even care. It is sports.  Not real life.  Just recreation and entertainment.  My obsession with sports is often belittled using this point, so why not use it in my favor as well?

Fan is short for fanatical and this is an arena where I have always figured it was safe to use my emotion as my reasoning instead of logic, facts or anything that would be wise to use in decision making because after all, it is just sports, not something important.

I'll save calm, balanced, thought out reasoning and rationality for my job, parenting, relationships and driving.

But this also provides an opportunity to examine where sports falls in my life.

The week leading up to LeBron's announcement, I was obsessed with it.  My interest in it was unhealthy.  I can admit this. We just spent a week feeding this ego-maniacal athlete while countless problems were littering the news.  

What is wrong with our (my) priorities?

Like I said, I often hear, "Huey, it's just sports."

Or, "Sports aren't really important."

But I am not willing to admit that my interest in sports or an interest in sports is negative.  

While there are people making billions of dollars off us and I do not like it as they raise costs for me and my family to enjoy the entertainment they sell, I stand by my claim that sports is a legitimate and important aspect of our lifestyle.

It is an avenue to bring people together and create bonds.

This can be between people who normally would not have anything in common with each other.  Maybe people who normally disagree and cannot see eye to eye and find themselves building animosity among each other, find this connection through sports and are able to coexist.  Suddenly, sports aren't so superficial.

It happens.  I see it.

Through games, there is a structure that brings people together.  We gather to watch games, break bread and drink.  We share excitement, anticipation, anxiety, exhilaration, agony, happiness, satisfaction, anger and loss....together.  

That instinctive need to be part of a group is satisfied as we join others supporting our city, university, country, team.  In the end, unlike war, nobody dies.  We play again.


On the other hand, sports also open up opportunities for hatred and animosity.  In my case, my behavior towards LeBron James after he left my Cleveland Cavaliers.  My behavior towards fans from TTUN back in the 90s.  All of this is tame in comparison to many things you read in the news.

With that said, these instances are more rare and common.  The brotherhood that exists even between bitter rivals is often positive and not heard about.  

Mostly though, sports create bonds that last a lifetime and bring us closer to those we love.  Some won't understand.  But many of us do. Our relationships don't have to be limited to sports, but they can be enhanced.  

I have countless fond memories with my mom and dad, brother and sister related to sports. It could be going to games, playing in games or front yard pick up games.

This is all well and good to show the importance of sports, but where does it fall in my/our priorities and is that ok?

Is this judgement objective or based in our personal preferences?

Where I may appreciate the warm, heartfelt, Field of Dreams type moment playing catch with my father, brother or kids, someone else may get nothing from it.

Does this mean there is no value in it?  Does this mean the person not finding value in a game of catch is missing out on something they should appreciate?

There answer is the same for both in my opinion.


I think we find ourselves coming back the same place we usually find ourselves when asking whether some behavior, action, belief, practice and so on have gone too far.  "There is little wrong with (fill in the blank) in itself, but in moderation."

It feels like the sports industry has grown out of control.  We pay top dollar for tickets and watch television stations that have sponsors that make these owners billionaires and players millionaires several times over.

Meanwhile schools are failing before our very eyes and people want to reform them by any method other than spending money on them.  Infrastructure is falling apart all around us. There are homeless and jobless, gangs ruling city neighborhoods, addicts in need of assistance and a flourishing drug trade.

We could go on.

Why are sports burning a hole in our pocket while these other problems are not? Isn't this a bad sign for our future?

Shouldn't police officers, firefighters and teachers, social workers and mental health workers more deserving of the money and resources?  I am not saying this because I am a teacher, but asking as an honest question.

How can I justify in my head, my daily obsession with sports and allowing it to dominate such a large part of my life with so much around, my career in particular, needing my attention?

Cities or countries spend billions of dollars loosely to build infrastructure and stadiums to host Olympic games or the World Cup and then leave these buildings vacant.  How wasteful is that?

All because of our love for sports.

This is really depressing.  Which only fuels my drive to drown myself in NBA free agency and meaningless games and trophies and rings and bullet points for my next debate on why my team is better than yours.  At least I know losing those debates mean nothing. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm Back, I Have Some Things On My Mind

"Last time we met was a low lit room,
We were as close together as a bride and groom,
We ate the food, we drank the wine,
Everyone having a good time,
Except you,
You were talking about the end of the world,"
                --U2 "Until the End of the World" from Achtung Baby

The "you" Bono was singing about could be me.

Many people feel as though it is.  Not necessarily because of my obsession with the afterlife or lack thereof, but my "poor me" attitude and habit of seeking out the worst possible outcome. Then dwelling on it.

I hate that.

That's not the person I want to be.

I am trying to change, but you can't change who you are wired to be or who you have become over decades of experiences and countless thoughts overnight.

So, with credit to my sister, I discovered this movement, if you will, called 100happydays.  Simply put, I find something to be happy about everyday, picture it and post it publicly. (I used picture as a verb, I know)

My objective is to make it a purpose to seek the good instead of the bad.  Like a best friend, Chris recommended, "slowly increase the good until you crowd out the bad."

I am over 70 days in and I have made a number of observations.

It isn't as easy as it sounds, but it isn't that difficult.  It becomes habit. I am not looking forward to when it ends on Day 100 sat all which I think is good.

The structure of it helps people like me.  I can't just go and do it.  I need to quantify it and make it a task driven routine.  I need to keep count and I need to put it on my daily "to do" list.

I have realized some seriously important things.  My kids mean the world to me.  I already knew this and could have told you this, but noticing that they make up 90% of what makes my days happy proves it out and smacks me in the face.  It also serves as a much needed reminder as I go experience the negative and very real aspects of fatherhood that suck.  Particularly, demonic possession of my son. Or the overwhelming feelings I get from lack of sleep, crying kids that never seem to stop, uncooperative massacres of bedtime and so on.

I can't help but dwell on how much I hate these moments but this practice forces me not too.

I often hear how we need to train our brains.  Many times self-talk can do this.  Recognizing when we start to repeat unwanted thought patterns and purposely changing them making ourselves think the right thoughts. I notice that outwardly some people have noticed a change but I am not feeling it inwardly.

"Patience you must have my young Padawon." --Yoda

My goal continues to be that I will *think* better at some point too.


I suppose I am due to rant about the state of education in our state and country.  I am more and more  bothered by the politicians and their inability to understand the complexity of education and the damage the emphasis on testing has caused, not helped.

More and more, policy is invading my classroom and having a negative impact.

People on the outside that want what is best are confused.  They hear one thing from teachers, another from the pundits and politicians and money, and partisan politics get involved and muddy the water even more.

Parents want their kids to be safe and learn at school.  Employers want a capable workforce.  Believe it or not teachers want to help develop critically thinking, independent learners eager to work hard.

But I find more and more people looking at teachers as an enemy instead of a teammate because they are drowning in sensationalist news patterns.

I'll just leave it at this, the day teachers and parents truly look at each other as teammates and the children are truly held accountable at home and school, understanding the teacher and parent are a unified team and their education is a valued part of their life, things will get better with or without standardized tests or ........ I won't go there.

I like how my father approaches things. I want to use him as a model.  It isn't too complicated either.

First, he really tries to do the right thing and he goes out of his way to do so and leaves it at that.

Second, he uses backs of envelopes or index cards to make lists and record thoughts or ideas keeping things organized in our constantly thinking heads.

Third, his religion is simple.  He has a place he goes where he feels God or his higher power or the universe. He reflects with it.  He believes it exists because he feels it.  That's it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  He doesn't care about anything else.  He feels refreshed, filled and not alone just by those walks to his place of solitude and serenity.  I can't get with that.

This 2014 World Cup is amazing.  Having the U.S. advancing out of the "Group of Death" has only ignited the interest more.  It has taken the feel of the NCAA college basketball tournament in March.  We have had that wonderful feeling of being able to watch all these other games, and there have been some thrillers, with the joy of knowing our team is alive.

That is my favorite part of March Madness. I get bonus time this summer enjoying it with soccer!

This is not long after enjoying a thrilling playoff series for my Columbus Blue Jackets in hockey.

Suddenly, I have two sports that are relatively new to me to dive into and learn.  It has taken me back to grade school when the NBA, NFL and MLB were new to me.  Back before the layers of heartbreak and bitterness and disenchanted feelings piled up on each other.

I am still naive to the negatives of the two sports and I am aware they exist.  But right now, I am a wide eyed freshmen genuinely cheering for my country and team and loving all the new rules, terms and strategies and learning why they do what they do and appreciating the beauty of a slap shot, one timer, header, set play, penalty kick or save.

It is refreshing and it is a trip back to a fun time in my life discovering sports that are now common place for me.


This summer marks a decade since my life was turned upside down.  It was the end of a two year stint of pain and series of negative experiences that shaped me drastically.

I began my time as a single father divorcing my wife at the time.  I was in the process of doing a lot of growing up and had a ton of growing up ahead of me.

I'm proud of where I have come.  Things didn't get easy, but they got better.

Right now I am struggling with these bad feelings that something will go wrong.  I have no idea what and my suspicions are tricky to navigate.  I do not know where these premonitions are coming from but when I have had them in the past, they have come true in one form or another.

Needless to say, I'm dealing with a good bit of anxiety about all of this.

But looking back, I need to remind myself of the Summer of '04 and how fondly I remember how I successfully handled that time of transition.  I did it then.  I even handled more difficulty later with the losses of loved ones and more health scares, damage to the house, theft, selling an unsellable house in a bad market and the burdens that come with parenthood.

If I did it then, I can do it again with whatever happens. The hard part is convincing myself of this.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Teacher's Appreciation

This is Teacher Appreciation Week.

I am a teacher.

This doesn't mean I can't appreciate my teachers as well.  So I would like to take a moment to appreciate several teachers of mine over the years.  These are people who have influenced me and played large roles in molding who I am today as a teacher and adult.

The first teacher I would like to acknowledge is my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Kriesen. I have written about her before. I model much of what I do after her style.  She made that year one of the most enjoyable.  It wasn't because she made the work easy. It wasn't because her lessons were particularly hands-on or interactive by today's standards.  This was a Catholic school and the lesson format was pretty traditional or old school.  Plenty of worksheets and textbooks and workbooks filled our lessons. I do not recall that she deviated much from that format.

But she made the days so enjoyable despite all of that boring skill and drill work. She had a hilarious sense of humor and often used it.  She was always joking and making us laugh or smile.  She was very energetic about everything she did.  She said a number of things that I still think about today.

First, she said to, "go with your gut.  Your first guess is right 90% of the time."  I doubt that is entirely true, but I have remembered it to this day.

Second, she accurately predicted, "middle school will be a nightmare.  High school will be where you find yourself and enjoy yourself most."  I wouldn't say I "found" myself in high school, but it was immeasurably better than middle school.

She made me write with detail and incorporate figurative language. She made my description of Friday night pizza and Pepsi that was a family tradition at that time feel like Pulitzer Prize material.

She strategically sat me next to a talkative girl to get me to talk more and open up.  What teacher tries to get her students to talk MORE? She saw off curriculum growth for me and tried to make that happen.

Much of my teaching style today comes from that year learning from her. My goal has been and still is to make my students feel the way about their time with me as I do about my time with her.

The next teacher I would like to show my appreciation for is Mrs. Simmelink. She was my 10th grade English teacher.  She was mean and nasty,  She was the opposite of Mrs. Kriesen.  She pointed out my quiet demeanor and used it against me.  She would call on me trying to prove I wasn't listening or didn't do the reading.  I have vivid memories of a particular class discussion regarding To Kill A Mockingbird.  It was after Christmas break and I had just returned from a visit to my grandmother's house in Alabama.  She was a college English professor.  She was well versed in TKAM.  There was some connection with the author or something I have already forgot.  Anyway, I was well prepared for anything and everything thrown at me about that book.

She peppered me with piercing questions and every one I exceeded expectations.  Soon, this fueled my fire. I was intoxicated with this give and take.  I think she knew it the whole time.  As far as I was concerned, no one else was in that room other than her.  She was my enemy.  I would defeat her.

She had me right where she wanted me.

I have a story about her that I use every year with my students when we write personal narratives.

The one I wrote for her blew her away.  It was about my cousin and brother and I and a funny bit of confusion. It was both the funniest ad scariest moment of my life.  Or at least funny and scary enough to write about.  In it, I made my brother out as a not-so-complimentary character.

Two years later she had my brother for 10th grade English.  Apparently his story did not meet her standards.  He was the opposite of me in class that year.  So she made him march down to my class and grab my portfolio to read my story as an example of what he should be writing.

Well, that didn't go over well after he read how I described him in that story. So he proceeded to write his take on the same experience embellishing everything to make him out as a strong, superior character to me.  It was hilarious.

This woman really knew what buttons to press.  She was a sorceress of education.

At the end of the year I had two A's, two B's.  An A on an exam and a B on an exam.  That usually would lead to a final grade of a B.  But she gave me an A hoping it would go through.  She pulled me aside later and asked if it did.  I said yes.  I still can see that sly smile on her face and the look of content.

She knew it all along.

She is the reason I think I would have thrived under a Bobby Knight, old school sort of coach. For some reason, I respond to that hell and brimstone approach.

I have to add two other educators that have strongly influenced me.  My boss, or principal at my first elementary school of employment, Mrs. Gant.  I taught for her at an urban school where our scores were never anything to write home about although we showed steady growth during her time there.

But I know better than to measure a school's success on test scores.  I believed in her more than anyone else I have worked for in education.  Although my current boss may be right there with her.  We shall see.  I felt if there was a prototype for what an urban principal should be, it was her.

Her vision and dedication were top shelf.  I learned so much from her that I can't list it all.  Her focus helped me focus. I learned how to prioritize and always ask myself, "how is this improving student achievement?" Her range of influence is much greater than that one simple statement, but that was the umbrella everything else fell under.

Finally, another educator I have written about before, Ms. Yetts.  My partner at my old school, she and I had a synergy that drove me to be better every year.  She was simply amazing how she related to the kids and always thought of new ways to improve our weaknesses and get better.  We were able to be honest and open and that made us better every day and every new school year.

There are countless other educators in my life. I could go on about my parents, my wife and on and on. I am developing relationships currently with fellow educators that have taught me a great deal.  These people are just four.  I greatly appreciate what they have offered and provided for me, making me the teacher I am today and that I hope students will write blog posts about in the future.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Teaching Teams

I had an observer in my room the other day who has had me thinking ever since.  I welcome visitors in my room and don't shy away from asking their opinion.

So I did.

She commented on how much she liked the way public schools use teams or cooperative learning so seamlessly.  She had observed other classrooms before visiting mine and saw that it was a trend, not a unique characteristic of my particular room.  I know one of the other teachers she observed at another school and I know she is the best of the best math teachers I have ever worked with and have patterned much of what I do after her. I think of her as my model or teacher I hope to be some day.

I'm a big believer of teaching in teams.  I don't follow the desk in rows set up unless there is some need to implement a change in management for discipline reasons or whatever and even then, it is always temporary and still incorporating some cooperative learning strategies.

Teaching in teams is part of the fabric of my classroom.  It is used throughout the day for everything.  I have done this since day one of year one of teaching and I am very confident in its effectiveness and comfortable in using it.  I believe to use it effectively, it needs to be consistent and it needs to become natural like breathing.

My objective is to create a learning experience that hits numerous senses and hits the brain numerous times.  The students hear the content, see the content, speak the content, write the content, show the content while thinking about the content each of those times.

They learn how to interact and develop their own strategies for interacting in a way most comfortable to them and most effective as they make mistakes, find successes, deal with uncooperative teammates, cooperative teammates, present to a larger group, figure out how to make their voice heard and so on.

I had a conversation with my brother a long time ago when I first started teaching. He is a brilliant accountant that works harder than anyone I know and has worked all over the world.  I trust his opinion. So I asked him what skills he believes are important for me to instill in my students.  Stuff I can foster in elementary school.

He said to teach them how to work with people in a group.  He said it has to go deeper than just "getting along," even though that is critical and there are some kids that do need to overcome that hurdle first.  He said that he works with people all the time and needs to be able to make his voice heard and listen to other views and be able to synthesize and apply the ideas and knowledge from multiple perspectives.

So how do I do this?

I figured that they have to learn by doing it and doing it often.  Every personality is different and we all have different strengths and weaknesses in terms of our interpersonal skills.  So I can't really tell them how to do it.  I can't lecture it to them. I can only show them so much as well.  They need to get dirty and do it and work through the awkwardness of it.

It is important to understand I do not mean "group work" or "group projects." It is too easy for students to just rely on one student to do all the work.  What I mean is that students sit at a table together and I create discussion.  They "do" activities together.  But the assignments are often done on their own, individually. For me, the critical component is the talking that has to happen. I try to sit with groups and guide discussion. I try to include as many open ended questions as possible that can have multiple answers.

Having students for two years these last years at my new school has helped tremendously as I have seen growth in this area.  It is something that is hard to quantify and put on a report card or measure. I've noticed it is easier to see the fruits in year two.

I take pride in how I use this strategy.  I see so many good teachers around me and think, "Man, I don't that as well.  I stink at that.  This teacher is awesome.  I really need to work on that or this."

Then I have moments where I can talk to outsiders that may not necessarily compliment but share an observation that hits on a technique I try real hard to do well.  I realize, "Maybe it isn't so bad in Mr. H's room after all."

Friday, November 29, 2013

39 Thanks

Today I turn 39 and thought I would list 39 things I am grateful to have or have done or have had in my life to this point.  It is a take from the daily gratitudes of November except this has a longer range.  I tried to make those points of gratitude apply to the present each day, this time around I am living totally in the past.

So let's get it started:

1. My parents who have been positive role models and who have instilled an importance of open mindedness and acceptance, compassion and caring.

2. My siblings who have been fun to hang out with and supportive in times of need.

3.  The woods behind my house that provided endless hours of fun growing up playing war, building forts, tiltalling, first kiss and countless other memories.

4. High school was fun.  Middle school sucked, but high school was a great three years I would do all over again if I could.

5. So many friendships over the years that I still cherish.  It can be difficult having a diverse set of friends because you have to be able to see past things you disagree about and be able to find a way to accept each other's shortcomings but somehow I have been able to gain and maintain a number of friendships to varying degrees for a long time now and I appreciate the good fortune that they were able to accept me.

6. Torrey's Field up the street was a place we played football, baseball, soccer and God knows what else year round without knowing who it truly belonged to.  It was a host to countless games and a parade of people we would bring through.

7. Later in my childhood someone built a house in Torrey's field and we started playing football after school over at Chillicothe park.  There were evenings we would have so many people that we had four full games going at once.  It was so fun that 20 years later at my high school reunion, one friend brought it up and how much he loved playing.  He showed me a scar he swore was from a time I tackled him.  He was and is 2 times bigger than me.  Those were my glory days. 

8. I didn't have many girlfriends, I was very awkward --surprise!- but I am grateful for the relationships I had.  There were some really cool girls there, all leading me to my one and only wife.

9. I should probably use this one for Vicki.  I am extremely grateful for the woman who was a friend and now a partner.  She returned in my life at a time that I needed her (and I'd like to think she needed me) and she has taught me much about many things as well as helping me learn or see a number of things for myself.  I appreciate her everyday.

10. The most fun I have had in life would be my years at OSU.  I had numerous goals for myself professionally and socially for those years and pretty much accomplished them all.  I set myself up for the future while enjoying what it all had to offer.

11. Phantom Band is one of those college experiences I will cherish forever.  Particularly the year we led the whole damn thing.  THAT seriously was my one shining moment.  The power we had over so many people was intoxicating.

12. 85 was another part of my college experience that I hold dear.  My roommates at 85 are some of the coolest, best kind of people I have ever met.

13. Ohio State sports has provided happiness where Cleveland sports have provided misery.  THANK GOD for the Buckeyes.

14. Amidst this happiness is the 2002 National Championship.  The only title any of my teams have earned.  I don't count Alabama because they are a secondary team.  Yes, I was pumped to watch the Tide win their titles, but they aren't my home state, alma mater or home city.

15. The 1997 Rose Bowl was my senior year and my Dad and I took a trip to Pasadena that we still reminisce about to this day.  It was a very cool time with my Dad and the game was epic.  Joe Germaine to David Boston on a little square out in the front of the end zone and TBDBITL playing "Carmen, Ohio" right in front of us as I looked to the misty scoreboard reading the final score are visions firmly planted in my memory.

16. Cedar Point is a place I loved growing up and still do.  The fact that my oldest loves roller coasters as she does warms my heart.

17. Road trips in college were awesome.  The Kentucky Derby, Penn State, Ann Arbor, NYC, Indy for the NCAA tourney, IUP, OU and many others.

18. Fantasy football has been a nightmare this season but it has provided a nice safety net to keep my interest in the NFL going after the Browns inevitable annual flame out.

19. Former students have returned over the years to say "hi."  I am grateful I have made enough of a positive impression to earn visits.  It is cool to hear how they are doing years later.

20. I am appreciative of any good moments with my students.  Simple moments of conversations to accomplishments to visits, to goodbyes to inside jokes to sharing memories to seeing their growth from the time we first meet to the time they leave.

21. My health has been pretty good.  I appreciate how low maintenance things have been for me so far.  I hope that continues.

22. I love softball.  I have been playing for decades now and I know I won't be able to forever.  I am very grateful for all the seasons and memories and teams and people that have been a part of my experiences playing softball.

23. I am grateful for learning.  There is an abundance of learning to be done and I enjoy doing so.

24. I am thankful for music. all kinds for all moods and all occasions.

25. Star Wars was a huge part of my childhood and I enjoy sharing it with my kids now.

26. I am grateful for social media.  Thanks to Facebook and my blog, I have been able to engage with many friends about many different things.  I have rekindled old friendships that otherwise, I would not have been able to do. I have been able to stay in touch with extended family. It makes things easy and quick and fun.

27. I appreciate my in laws welcoming me to their family and treating me as family as well as my oldest daughter.  Without flinching or questioning, they fluidly and seamlessly included us very comfortably despite the challenges that come with that.

28. I love Columbus.  It is my new home.  My heart will always have a space saved for Cleveland, but Columbus is my home.

29. Thankful for this house and this neighborhood.  It is what I always envisioned for me when I "grew up."  So I guess I'm grown up.  Hmm

30. Obviously, I am grateful for my paycheck.  I live a good life.  I try not to take it for granted.

31. Much like above, I am thankful for my health insurance.  I have known people who don't have any and it is HARD.  I have been fortunate to transition from one to another pretty easily and with three kids, one with a health condition, it has been a luxury.

32. St. Thomas Aquinas was a church I have written about before.  It played a large role in shaping who I am today.I felt like they got it right.  Unfortunately, they didn't pull in enough money for the Catholic church to continue to support it, so it closed.  Figures.  Another brick in the wall.  But I appreciate the time I had there and the people I met and I hope they knew how influential they were.

33. I am thankful for the care of Children's Hospital in Columbus.  I have had to spend extended periods of time there on numerous occasions and it has been very difficult but they have done well.  I appreciate the help in caring for my daughter and trying to figure out what to do.

34. Thankful for luck.  I have been very lucky when it comes to important things.  My bad luck has fortunately been in regards to minor issues that I have been able to recover from relatively easily.

35. I have fond memories of trips to Alabama.  We would go to this pond and row around playing pirates or whatever.  We would dock on a shore and run into the surrounding woods to play whatever mission we were on at that time.  They were meant to fishing so i am sure we looked dumb as hell, but my Dad never seemed to care and encouraged it, so we did.  That was great.

36. A timely gratitude would be rivalries.  I love the intensity of OSU and the TTUN.  I love what once was with the Browns and Steelers and the hope that someday it returns.

37.  I am thankful for my current boss.

38. I am thankful for rock shows and friends who introduce to me to good rock bands.

39.  My three kids are treasures. I can't end this list without the three little ones I adore.

It goes without saying, I am a wealthy man.  This list could be doubled and more. I am grateful for that as well.