It is an opportunity, disguised as a setback #life


Lost my job, it’s a new opportunity

More free time for my awesome community

In a little over a month I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. Today I went to work as normal. Had a busy morning, took several calls, solving a few customer issues. Then around 10 one of the managers came to my desk and asked me to come with him. He walked me back to a small office where I sat down. He then told me that the company was making some changes and I was being let go. 

Just like that, 15 years of loyalty and work came to an end. I will admit to being a little surprised but not overly so. I had survived several rounds of layoffs over the years. We had a new CEO hired in January. He was in town a few weeks ago and spoke of changes in the company with no specifics. I had a new role in the company but I wouldn’t say my work load had changed a lot. Anyway, it happened, and no regrets about how it went. I worked hard for the company for many years, and now I have to move on. 

To be honest I am kind of relieved. I am confident in my abilities to find work. And I get the opportunity to do something different. And on top of that I get a couple of weeks to do some things I need done around the house. I am not saying it is easy street, there might be some budgetary belt tightening around the house. 

But recent events in my life keep things in perspective. The unexpected and tragic death of a friend. The arrival of a new life in the extended family. This makes an unexpected potential career change small change. One I am ready to deal with. 

A common thread to bring a smile #Kids #Parenting


Kim & I have very different backgrounds. I am older than her as well. That means that often when we are at larger social gatherings one of us will feel out of place. The people we are with will either be closer to my age and background or vice versa. But one thing that I remember pointing out to her when she commented on this once was that we were parents and therefore we would almost always have that in common with people we did not know, we could talk about our kids.

One of the fun things I have noticed is how people will post pictures on FB of their kids on the first day of school. It is fun to see all those bright faces on the first day of the year. It also brings home that common connection I have with all these people through the bond of parenting.

Even more fun is the friends who have kids the same age or close to the same age as Jimmy. Because we can all post moments and share our thoughts on the ‘joys’ of having a teenager. One of my college friends posted a picture of her teenager giving her dad the ultimate ‘I know Dad’ teen face. And we all know that feeling, that moment when our teenager decides that they no longer have any use for parental tips and advice (no matter how it is imparted.)

It really is an interesting moment when you realize that there is that common ground. When you can be in a store, or a line anywhere and a child does something and you and the other parents in the vicinity can lock eyes and give that nod of ‘yeah, I get it, kids.’

With the reunion coming up I am looking forward to doing a lot of catching up with many friends. But one thing that will be interesting is bonding with those of my classmates who do not have kids. Because that is such a huge part of my life and the life of any other parent. It can be a struggle when talking to people who do not have that in their lives.

For now, though, I will take solace and enjoyment in the bonds that I do have with fellow parents. Look forward to sharing those moments. And be glad when it comes to the reunion that I have such deep bonds with those who will not have that in common.

A variety keeps life interesting #Life


Completed a weekend full of variety and amusement. From watching a movie with the kids. To a fun game of D&D. To a fun family birthday party. And ended with a combination of amusement park and Pathfinder. Overall I had a really good weekend, and now the school year, and all of its issues begins in earnest.

Friday night Kim went out, while I stayed home with the kids. We had some pizza. I rented Batman Vs. Superman. And had a nice evening, with about an hour intermission caused by a power outage from a tremendous rain storm. We enjoyed the movie. It had its drawbacks of course. I am beginning to think that the problem with some of these movies is that they are drawing in far too much plot. When they try to edit it down to a decent size it becomes hard to follow.

Saturday I did some cleaning and picking up. Followed by the return of the boys D&D game. That went very well I thought. I enjoyed it, and the kids all seemed to as well. After the game finished the kids were able to play some more before we all went over to my cousin’s house for his birthday party. I enjoyed the party and catching up with various people I don’t see all that much.

Sunday was a fun day. Even with the addition of more than a little chaos. I had my game in Denver. I suggested that Kim could use our season pass for Elitch Gardens at the same time. She told the kids that they could bring friends. That is where things became complex. I ended up taking the teenagers in my car and dropping them off, while Kim had the younger kids. After my game, I came back and spent a little time at the park and then switched out and brought the younger ones home. I had a good time, but it exhausted Kim (so maybe not the best idea I ever had.)

We got home, got the kids bathed and into bed at their bedtimes. I then had some time to try to refocus. I did okay for the most part until my brain began to ponder options for my Pathfinder game, which made it a little tough to get to sleep.

This morning was the first Monday of the school year. It went well for the most part I thought. Now it is time to get to work on some other projects around the house. But I think we are ready for it all.

Parenting and school thoughts #Kids #Life


School began yesterday for all 3 kids. Jimmy began his High School Journey as a 9th grader. Danny began his Middle School Journey as a 6th grader. And Emily continues her Elementary School Journey as a 3rd grader. I got all 3 kids to school (or to their transportation.) And while I was getting them ready I had some thoughts. More thoughts came to mind after they got home and shared what they did. I had even more thoughts come to mind this morning on the second day.

First, you know the saying or common wisdom that the youngest child gets away with more because their parents have tired out by the time they came along. Well, my thought on that is not so much a matter of the parents being tired as it is their experience.

Watch any top athlete, there are plenty of opportunities right now with the Olympics. Then try and go out and do any of the things that they are doing at the same level. Like try and run a 100 meter dash. When you do that you begin to realize how effortless these athletes make something that is very hard look. That is a matter of experience. They have done this one thing so many times that what is hard for the average person looks easy to the rest of us.

This applies to anything that someone does with repetition. I drive my car every day, I have been driving for over 30 years now. But in a few months, we will begin the process of teaching our oldest how to drive. Which means teaching someone how to do all the things that I have made effortless and routine.

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I think that a lot of the seeming permissiveness that the youngest child gets away with has a lot to do with that kind of experience. As parents, we know what is involved with getting ready for school, homework, sleep schedules, chores and all of that. We know what to expect. We also know what really is a priority and what really is not a priority. That last one is a big deal because a lot of what seems absolutely necessary about daily life is really not all that vital.

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Second, with both of them starting new schools and working on a different level I had one big piece of advice for the boys. I told them to keep their minds open and accept new experiences and people. To not look at all these new people and experiences as something to be scared of. Instead, view it is an opportunity to expand. Make new friends. Learn new things. Expand their horizons. Which is why I referred to their Journeys. Each major new level at a school is a new and separate journey in life. A Journey that will expand their horizons and the world they live in.

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Third, it may seem strange to start the school year in the middle of the week. But after going over what the boys did their first day I realized that someone out there with more experience than I at this whole teaching thing is being really smart. The first day or two of the school year is really about getting comfortable in the new locations and with new schedules and experiences. Meeting new people, peers and teachers. It makes real sense to take a couple of days to do that, get the kids through that. Then give them a weekend to process everything. And then begin to tackle actual learning and work with the start of a new week.

With all of that, a new school year has begun. I get to adopt a new routine. Which has its cons, I have to get up earlier and have more things to do in the mornings before going to work. It also has its pros, I do not have to worry as much about the house being a disaster when Kim gets home or worry about what the kids are up to all day long. There are different concerns and worries, but nothing I have not seen already so I am ready. Bring it on!

 

Sadly it happened like I thought #Mentalhealth


Recall if you will my post from Friday: Dear Son, your dad has a condition. In that post, I went into some detail about my various mental conditions. One of the things I touched on was the problem I can have in social situations.

Because of my anxiety and obsessive condition I often find myself having problems in social situations. I can converse with people and get along okay. But what throws a wrench into those situations is when there is someone there who I can take my focus away.

For example, when we first started dating and later when we were first married I would have trouble when Kim joined me for events. Because I would worry about her having a good time. So I would find myself spending my time around her and making sure she had someone to talk to. Thankfully, that has gradually dissipated over the years. I am more confident just leaving her to her own devices in social gatherings now.

However, there is a different problem now. That is when we go to ‘family friendly’ events. Because then I feel that I need to keep an eye on my kids. And the kids can also turn to me for entertainment when they get bored.

Well, we ended up taking the kids with us to the Spam O Rama party on Saturday. And I did not get to enjoy myself. Because the kids were constantly hanging on me. Which is distracting and very frustrating. It is hard enough for me to get into conversations without them grabbing my attention.

This is just one of those things I need to keep in mind. It is why I can often be extra awkward in group events if I bring someone along. I need to know that person is okay before I can turn to other people. It is very frustrating, and I wish it was not that way. It makes social events difficult. But that is just me and how I am wired. I can live with it if I remember that in the future.

Got stuff done, had some fun, relaxed


For the last weekend of the summer, that was a pretty relaxing, calm affair. Kim & I got some things done around the house. We had some fun, attending a party and taking kids to a movie. And we spent a good amount of time just relaxing around the house. It was a good time, preparing us for the craziness to come.

We put close to the finishing touches on the basement project. We got a board to cover the pool table in its new life as the Lego table. We moved books, cleared some books out. Sorted out the games and cleared some of those out. There are still some tubs to be sorted, and some more organization to be done, but for the most part the basement has been converted to full time game room.

This week we should get things to the point where the dining room/game room will now be a more permanent office/homework room. Which should, in theory, keep the upstairs cleaner and quieter especially with school starting this week.

We had some fun events. We took the kids to see the new Pete’s Dragon movie. Which turned out pretty well. It was funny as I remember going to see the original movie when it came out in the theaters with my sister.

Kim and I had some nice meals together and some other time together. Which I really appreciated. Just having some time together is a good thing, even if we are working on a project or grocery shopping.

We attended the annual gathering of friends at the Spam O Rama. It was definitely a more low key affair than in previous years. It was nice to get a little time to catch up with some good friends. Although I did not get as much as I might have liked as we had kids along who got bored really quickly. But my game with some of the same friends resumes tonight so I have that to look forward to.

It was a good way to spend the last weekend of the summer. The kids will spend a couple of nights in Denver with my brother. And then they return for the start of school on Thursday. It is a little hard to believe that the summer is ending. But I am definitely ready for the return to school, and I think the kids are as well.

Dear Son, your dad has a condition #Mentalhealth


Dear Jimmy, Danny, and Emily,

Your father is not what you would call ‘normal’. He has an obsessive control disorder combined with anxiety and depression. What does that mean? Well, it will mean a couple of different things.

First, he will go through what seem like mood swings. He will seem relaxed and calm one moment, then upset and angry the next. He is taking medication to control this. He has seen therapists, and will probably see more therapists in the coming years. The important thing is to realize that when these changes occur it is not your fault. You may have done (or not done) something that triggers one of these moods, but you are not responsible for his moods. You cannot control his moods.

Second, the obsessive control disorder means that he will feel like he has to take control of everything he can in his life. Even things that he cannot wholly control, like you, his kids. It is important to understand that when he does this is it is not something he can moderate easily. So he will either attempt to control things or not attempt at all. It is very difficult for him to find a middle ground, a compromise where he pays attention to you and what you are doing, but does not attempt to get involved and take control.

Third, the anxiety and depression stem from his heightened empathy. He will feel things and take things to heart very easily. When you say or do things that affect his emotions he will take them seriously, he cannot easily just move past them. If you are hurting he will be there for you and feel really bad. But he will also worry about how you feel, and often read bad feelings when there are none.

Why am I telling you this? Well, it is good for you to know what you are dealing with. And to maybe give you some ideas on what you can do to help him cope.

Control, how to deal with it. You kids, especially Jimmy now, but the other two as you grow older, will want more control over your life. That is normal, and part of growing up. But you father has a very hard time giving up control in some areas. When the time comes and you want to show more responsibility and control over your life, start by showing what you can do. Do not demand control without showing him you can handle it. Above all, do not just try to challenge head to head. He is smart and very aware of what is going on. So if you show you are responsible, and can take care of things completely, he will find it easier to let go.

On the other hand, if you ask for control of something, and get it from him, and then do not do it, it will trigger his conditions. And if he has to take back control for something he will find it that much harder to let go a second time. This is trust, he will trust you to do something, but if you do not do it, he will have a very hard time trusting you again to do that thing. In short, if you want to take charge of something from him, he will let it go, but be completely sure you can handle it.

Involvement, he will be there or not. In his best interests, your father has learned that for a lot of things he can either be all in or all out. Which means that many days he may seem to ignore you, and not do things with you. And then he will turn around and spend a lot of time doing something with you. That is often how he interacts with a lot of people and things in this world. If he is seemingly ignoring you it is not because he does not care or love you. It is because he has a very hard time splitting his focus between things and people. Which often means he will focus on doing something with your mom, and not you. It is frustrating for him to be in situations where he has to spread his focus among multiple things or people. In short, if you want him to do something with you, ask for it, but be prepared for his full attention and involvement in what you are doing.

Last, because of his anxiety and empathy, he will want people around him to be happy. Which means he will do whatever he can to make you happy. If you appear unhappy or act in such a way that he gets worried, he will do whatever he can to alleviate that. This will make it seem like he is a pushover who will spoil you. However, he knows this and will worry about spoiling you, so he will sometimes go the opposite direction to counteract that. Which means he may punish you one moment, then turn around and give you a treat the next. Just be aware that he knows this about himself, and to not abuse or take advantage of this because he will realize that is happening and view it as breaking his trust.

Your father loves you all more than life itself. He loves his family and his life. But loving something does not make it easy for him. He will be there for you. But his conditions will cause him to do things or behave in ways that make you question that. Just recognize that what he is doing is often beyond his immediate control.