Happy Sunday! I have been blogging for a little over a year now (time flies when you’re having fun), so I realize I have made several new connections who may not know who I am. Well, I was honored to share a little bit about who I am with Kidlio Mag (embedded at the end of this post) and of course you can always find out a little more at https://parent-child-connect.com/about. There is one more thing that I like to do at my initial introductions; I like to tell people something about me that they may not have otherwise known. So today’s fact about me is, I love to smile!
My smile means a lot to me.
For me, my smile is not simply an indication of my current emotion because as those emotions flee, so would my smile. Instead, my smile is an expression of who I am–a guy who is a joy to be around and genuinely excited to be alive. It is an open invitation to anyone I meet to engage in conversation with me because I am truly interested in what you have to offer the world. My smile is a gentle reminder that no matter what is happening, I can communicate peace and calmness to those around me with a simple gesture. It is an encouragement to others who may feel unwelcomed, unseen, unheard, or unwanted; I see you and appreciate your existence. It is a show of pure, unadulterated gratitude for your service whether you are a janitor cleaning the airport restroom, a police officer checking IDs at a military gate, a cashier servicing hundreds of customers a day at a busy grocery store, or anything in between.
There were times when I hid my smile.
There were times that I forgot how important my smile was, specifically during my preteen and early teenage years. I lacked so much confidence in myself and my smile because of all the negative things some of my peers (and even adults) were saying about my weight (I gained a lot of weight), my name, the size of my head, the size of the gap in my teeth, and more. After absorbing these insults, I found myself wanting to hide in the back corner of any room I entered. When I laughed, I quickly covered my mouth to hide my gap in hopes that no one would notice. Someone did notice.
Someone encouraged me.
One morning, my Sunday School teacher at church noticed me doing this and she told me, “Don’t hide your smile. You have a beautiful smile!” She probably does not remember saying that to me. Also, she likely had no idea how much those words meant to me. Regardless, I held those words tightly! When people would say harmful things, I would tell myself, “you have a beautiful smile” until I internalized it. Over time, my confidence returned and my smile was restored. Now when you meet me, you meet a giant, confident smile! So much so that many strangers have looked at me, turned their head slightly, and said, “Don’t lose that smile.”
Now I’m encouraging you!
So I want to encourage you today, don’t lose that smile! People will say harmful things, but they are wrong. Don’t listen to them! Your smile is beautiful because the person giving it has something beautiful inside of them!
Happy Tuesday! I had a couple of heartening moments yesterday that I want to share as encouragement to the fathers and male role models out there. It started with my oldest daughter who told me how excited she was to share my website with her friends when given the opportunity in her Middle School class. Additionally, she received a perfect score on a writing assignment. When questioned about it, she said, “I must’ve gotten my writing skills from my dad.” It really warms my heart to see how much pride she takes in my work and accomplishments!
Later yesterday evening…
Later yesterday evening, my son had his first basketball playoff game. This is his first year playing basketball, but he has worked tirelessly to learn more and improve. His most significant improvement over the past few weeks has been his jump shot. To aide in this improvement, I showed him a hand placement trick to become more consistent and accurate. He immediately latched on to this advice and even taught a couple of his friends. So it made me proud to see him use this technique last night to score the most points he’s ever scored in a game. He made me more proud when said (after a loss), “I’m not really that sad because I scored. I can’t believe I scored all those points!”
Fathers and male role models, your actions may sometimes seem small, but your impact is eternal.
These occurrences may seem small, but they mean the world to me! Fathers and role models, it does not matter how “small” your similar stories may seem to others, it is huge for those you lead! So whether you are feeling like the best father/role model ever or you are feeling pretty down right now, you are doing an awesome job! Thank you for the sacrifices you make and for doing the “small” things that leave a lasting impact. You are awesome!
Even if you’re not a father/role model, do me a favor: find at least father and/or male role model and tell him, “you are doing a great job! Thank you!” Shake his hand, pound it, or give him a hug if you can. It will mean the world to him.
I wasn’t originally planning on releasing a part two, but after receiving feedback from you beautiful people, I decided to continue the conversation and introduce “a winning strategy to conquer adversity!”
As you already know, life is a journey. In Part 1 (Click here for Part 1), we discussed a quote by award-winning poet, Theodore Roethke: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” As I continued to read and think about this topic, it reminded me of a challenging hike I completed when I was doing the Mission Trails Regional Park 5-peak challenge. It was not the most physically demanding thing I have done (U.S. Marine Corps training will push you to your limits), but there were definitely a few extremely challenging portions.
There was one particular portion of the North Fortuna Mountain that gets fairly steep; especially after inclement weather. The natural competitor in me forced me to complete this trail numerous times…but the first time was not a pretty sight! When I first approached this portion of the trail, I heard a loud, Drill Instructor-esque voice in my head yell, “attack the hill!” So I looked down and began charging up the steep incline that led to the summit–pumping my arms and power breathing as I went. I kept my head down in hopes that this would somehow help me magically arrive at the plateau quicker. Unfortunately, this was not reality. The further I hiked, the steeper the incline became. After about two minutes, my legs were burning, I was panting, and I was raining sweat.
I finally glanced up… I was definitely not as close as I thought I’d be. In fact, I hadn’t made much progress at all! So I had a choice to make. You see, I had already determined I was going to finish the hike. (Once I put my mind to it, it is going to happen!) So turning back wasn’t an option, but I had another decision to make: how should I motivate myself to complete this hike? Should I focus solely on the plateau? How long will I dwell on my progress (or lack thereof)? Should I closely monitor my progress as I continue to go forward?
I chose the latter and restarted my journey. After a couple more minutes, I checked my progress. When I looked back I initially thought, “I haven’t gone anywhere!” Then I noticed some people who were close to where I started. “Those people look small,” I thought. “I am farther than I thought!” That’s all I needed to continue pushing! So I started to hike again; looking back every 5-10 steps or so to see if the people behind me were getting even smaller. After another couple minutes passed, I decided to look up to see how far I made it. “You haven’t gone anywhere!” I exclaimed to myself. The tree I marked during my last break was still relatively close. I made less progress this time than I did before my first stop.
This is where I started to feel sorry for myself. “I am doing my best to get in better shape, and I cannot even motivate myself to get past this hill!” That’s when it hit me. I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me. While I was glancing back, I found myself slipping on loose sand, stumbling over rocks, and falling off the path. In hindsight, this made my journey even more rigorous!
I could not efficiently move forward while gazing at the things behind me.
The Winning Strategy!
With that in mind, I developed a new winning strategy that would eventually help me overcome this challenge and subsequently make it to the summit. Before I restarted, I established what I called “checkpoints” or “mini-goals” along the path where I would rest and reflect (i.e. celebrate my progress). While hiking, I paid close attention to where I stepped; ensuring I constantly progressed as each step was on solid or compacted soil. Lastly, I kept my overall goal in mind: reach the North Fortuna summit, take a picture, and enjoy sunrise and the peaceful nature around me. It is important to note, this portion of the trail did not get any less steep or challenging; however, I knew I had the winning strategy to conquer this adverse situation and achieve my goal.
There are a few things I learned from that hike that I believe are helpful…
Rest and reflect. One of the biggest contributors to successfully completing this hike was implementing my mini-goals. I set my sights on several large rocks, trees, or recognizable features along the trail and said, “do not stop until you reach that mini-goal.” Once I reached my mini-goal, I did a small celebration to commemorate my progress. In essence, I broke my journey into manageable chunks that I could physically achieve and implemented preplanned opportunities to refresh my mental resiliency. The stops were not long; just quick enough to catch my breath and celebrate my progress. As goes life. Schedule quick moments to rest and reflect on progress, then keep pushing towards your ultimate goal!
Live in the moment. While grappling with today’s challenges, we cannot allow ourselves to be burdened by yesterdays news or overwhelmed with tomorrow’s issues. Focus on traversing the path ahead of you and achieving your mini-goals instead of gazing at the things behind you or worrying about tomorrow’s uncertainties.
Be aware and selective of what (or whom) you allow to validate your efforts. I was gauging my success on the trail off of someone else. In retrospect, those people were taking pictures, enjoying nature, strolling, and most importantly, they didn’t even take the same trail. We currently live in a society where it is easy to allow likes, shares, comments, money, and praise to validate us. The issue is those things are temporary. We should only find validation in things that are permanent (e.g. your purpose in life). For me, it is inspiring others. My efforts are validated when my children’s books, blog posts, speaking engagements, and my platform in general inspires someone else to pursue their own goals and dreams!
Don’t lose sight of your goal. My overall goal was to reach the summit, and I did! No matter how challenging the journey, never forget where you are going. Your “why” is what drives you day to day. Your “where” is what makes the journey worth it! You can and will achieve all of your goals! Believe in yourself!
Have a fantastic day, and know that you CAN and WILL make it through these dark times!
Want a little help making it through these dark times?
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