“I think I just tooted”

Last night I went through the normal bedtime routine with Emma. We read our princess story, sang a few songs, then snuggled and prayed.

As I got up I looked at her and said “I love you so much Emma, I am grateful for every moment with you and thank God for you every day.”

Emma smiled and responded: “I think I just tooted…”

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“The Land of the Lines”

I don’t impose limits on myself. If I find a better idea for a scene, I adapt the story. That way, the narration remains instinctive, which is especially important for a story like The Land of Lines.

-Victor Hussenot

One of the things I love about having children is the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. It keeps my sense of wonder fresh and new every day. Stuff that could easily be ignored by adults such as graphic novels or animated films are part of a parent’s daily rhythm.

Several months ago I was browsing through Zandbroz Variety (my favorite store in Fargo) and started flipping through a book. At first I found myself idly flipping through pages waiting for the words to start but soon realized there were no words. Only lines and pictures.

Intrigued I started over and began my journey in the land of the lines.

Click the picture for a great interview with the author – but beware the spoilers if you plan on reading the book.

Slowly but surely the story drew me in and I followed this journey of discovery, adventure, and more. I found myself feeling connected to these characters and feeling a sense of sadness when the story ended. How could I feel sad about a few lines after only a five minute read?

There is power and beauty in simplicity. If you haven’t read the book, stop by my office and take a quick peek (it only takes 5 minutes to read), then buy yourself a copy and pay it forward.

In the land of lines, anything is possible…

 

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“Song of the Sea” – A beautiful movie

A few nights ago we were looking for a good family movie to watch while we ate pizza.

We opened the Amazon movie app and “Song of the Sea” caught our eye. This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. This film has a well-deserved 99% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes.

Critics Consensus:Song of the Sea boasts narrative depth commensurate with its visual beauty, adding up to an animated saga overflowing with family-friendly riches.

Each frame is gorgeous, the type of movie you could pause at any moment and marvel at the beautiful art.

In addition to the beautiful music and animated art, the story is compelling and rich. Themes of love, embracing emotion, and remembering our past are all woven into an enchanting story.

Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. One of the things I love most about having kids is the excuse to watch animated movies. Like children themselves, children’s stories often have wonderful meanings and beauty for adults if we take the time to watch and listen.

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Defeated before the day starts

“Have you ever waken up and just felt defeated before the day even starts?”

This has happened to me many times. I wake up at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning immediately worried about the topic of the day. One time I found myself worried that I wasn’t going to be able to pay my kids’ college tuition. My oldest daughter is 7 years old. I paused for a moment and came to a few realizations:

  1. My kids might not go to college, or a traditional 4 year school (and that’s ok!)
  2. If they do go, it’s not my responsibility to pay for it.
  3. There is no limit or end to the arbitrary things I could pick to worry about.

When I wake up in this state, it’s so easy for it to snowball into the rest of the day. That stress and anxiety leads to thoughts of self-defeat and negativity. Before you know it everything is going wrong. It reminds me of a book I read as a child: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

Perhaps you read this as a child and are now reading it to your kids or children in your life. What I’ve come to realize is that you have a choice on how good or bad your day is. One of my virtual mentors, Jeffrey Gitomer, put it this way:

“I’m having a bad day” is bologna. What you’re really saying is: “I’ve let other people get to my attitude” or “I’ve let other circumstances get to my attitude.” That’s not only unjustifiable; it’s a sign of mental weakness. If you tell yourself you’re having a bad day, I promise you will have one, and if you tell yourself you’re having a great day, I promise you will have one. The day is not bad unless you declare it bad.

My best plan of attack, once I’ve realized I’m in this cycle is to stop the cycle, slow time, and reset.

Stop the cycle

Once the thoughts and stress are rolling, it can feel difficult or impossible to stop but I promise it isn’t! People have many ways to stop the cycle but what works for me is a quick pause for meditation. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on releasing all the thoughts in my head. Usually 1-5 minutes is enough time to break the cycle to move on to my next move which is to slow time.

Slow time

I love walks! Taking a quick walk around the block gets the blood flowing. It takes me out of the physical atmosphere where the negativity started and gives me a chance for a fresh start. I pause and take moments to experience everything that is around me. Last week I took a quick walk and appreciated the cool breeze, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the sound of the birds. I focused on being present in that moment.

Reset

Each of these steps helps me get to a state where I can reset or reframe my day. I begin to focus on positive thoughts. Reflecting on life’s blessings, I look to the future as a place filled with opportunity and hope.

I hope you have found this to be helpful. Each day is full of possibility! You will find what you are looking for in the day whether it be positive or negative. What are some ways you conquer these patterns in your life? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Celebrate your failures!

 

“I didn’t catch a fish daddy!”

Emma cheered gleefully as she pulled the line out of the water. It was her first time fishing. She sat intently at the edge of the dock, fishing rod in hand, peering over the edge into the water. This was, without a doubt, the highlight of her weekend!

I watched her repeat this and wondered to myself why she was so excited for producing nothing, until it hit me. The aim for Emma wasn’t to catch a fish, it was to enjoy the moment and activity. At 4 years old, Emma demonstrated mastery of a concept Brendon Burchard calls “How to Slow Time”. (For more information about this idea I recommend checking out his post here.)

How often are we focused on the wrong definitions of success? It’s easy for failures to draw us into negativity. In this context they become false confirmation of negative self-talk. Failure can be an opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to grow.

The next time you encounter failure will you enjoy this moment, or will it fuel a negative spirit? My hope is that you will embrace the moment as Emma did, celebrating her catch.

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