Life Perspective And Lessons

Hello people hope that you all are getting through with the week in a splendid way, today I will put another person’s story onto my blog. As I am sure most of you have realized by now, different people who you never could imagine will play a big role in your life. In both good and bad ways, I hope for most of you more good than bad. However, as planing for next semester is in the making I have been talking to my athletic academic advisor about school etc. and today she shared a piece of her life with me that she had put down on paper after reading an article in the New York Times, obviously I am no where near the age of 50 but I could still appreciate what she wrote, and I hope that I one day will be able reflect on my life in a similar manner.

About the 40s…

An established author and New York Times Op/Ed contributor wrote an opinion piece in the NYT a few days ago titled “What You Learn in Your 40s.” That’s all well and good, and I’m certain a lot of people read it (what with it being by a best-selling author, and, you know, being in the NYT…). But I had a tiny problem with the fact that she wrote it on the eve of her 44th birthday; I really have to believe (or HOPE to believe) that she has NOT yet learned all that she will learn in her 40s.

So, I thought about it, and tossed together some of my own discoveries from that decade, ones I’ve experienced myself and/or shared with my friends and contemporaries, all of who, like me, are freshly arrived on the other side of our 40s. What we say about that: truth. Or as my slightly-more-badass friend Maria says: church.

This is the decade where your parents might get hit with some bad news about their health. If not your parents, then the parent or parents of your friends. Your parent, or parents, or those of your friends, may die. Suddenly, it becomes a priority to get your business in order, square up your relationships if they are not there already, visit more, drop what you’re doing and get there. I think the 40s taught me a lot about the fine art of showing the hell up.

You may have a peer get hit with a tough medical diagnosis. Or it might be you who is on the receiving end of some real bad news. You may bury your college roommate. But before that, when she calls to tell you the cancer is back and she’s entering hospice, you and all your other college roommates fly across the country, shipping Wisconsin custard to arrive there at the same time, and spend an unforgettable weekend in the mountains, eating too much, staying up too late, laughing til you weep. You don’t hesitate, and you show the hell up. Later, about six months after her death, you all fly again to the other side of the country to walk/run as a team in a national event for the Cure. And when you’re done doing that, you sit-and-drink-by-the-pool-for-a-Cure, and call that an event, too.

You get to conflict with your kids. In order to not have an ulcer, you decide that year (or two) that you butted heads over politics or policy with your teen-who-knows-everything is in fact your opportunity to teach about disagreeing respectfully, about listening to both sides, about not strong-arming anyone into an opinion. Then much later, when that same son studies abroad for a semester, maybe you’ll receive the best Mother’s Day email ever, that says in part, “if I could go back and do one thing over, I would kick high-school-me in the ass.” It’s lonely on the high road, but when the sunrise comes, it’s pretty stunning…it’ll blow your hair back.

Listen to music your kids like, and have them listen to yours. Maybe then when your son and his buddies form a band and are playing out live somewhere, he’ll introduce a Warren Zevon cover with, “I learned this from my mom.” And maybe one day, someone will play you a song on the guitar, from deep in the archives, and tell you, “this makes me think of you”, and that may also blow your hair back. It’s important to be loved, but it’s profound to be understood. Also, watch movies your kids like, and have them watch something you like. That’s how your kids will know that “Chicken Run” is the same story as “The Great Escape.” If you’re exceptionally lucky, one of your favorite movies (“The Intouchables”) will be thanks to a recommendation from your own child.

Teach your kids to man up, to lead not follow, and to care for and include others. They may find they like that role, and you may find yourself in an all-school assembly where your 17-year-old son is the speaker, and talks eloquently about how when both of his parents were diagnosed with cancer, others picked us up and carried our family, and that he now believes our role as members of a community is to create a Body of Christ, by accepting help that is offered to us and by in turn offering a helping hand to others. That’s his definition of purpose, but you can adopt it as your own. In your 40s, you may learn from those you’ve taught.

You don’t get much vacation time, but take a week to chaperone a teen service trip to Appalachia. You might learn to attach underpinning to a tornado-damaged mobile home. Or, you may get to watch your daughter’s face as she sees a man in a wheelchair use the ramp she and her team built to enter the home he hadn’t been able to live in since a storm ripped his old ramp away. You can talk about the importance of giving, or you can walk the walk. Maybe your daughter’s friend (the one who has vacationed with your family, and been like a bonus sister-daughter to your family) will ask you to be her Confirmation sponsor because she likes the way you try to live a message of service.

Make new traditions. You might have to. Both your parents could die a year apart, and your childhood home is sold, and you have no physical connection to your hometown. You have no one there to spend Christmas with, and nowhere to stay. So your sister finds a rental house in the rural area near your hometown, and you all go there and build a new idea of holiday. And when you put up the tree that first year in this new unfamiliar place, and there is no tree-topper, your daughter and nephews fashion one out of cardboard and duct-tape, and that too becomes part of your new tradition.

You can learn something new, and you should. You might change careers, because you want to, or because you have to. You might find that it is indeed possible to pursue a Masters of Arts in a field you love, even if that pursuit includes 700 daunting hours of supervised clinicals in addition to working full time, raising a family, and having a home life. You get a lot of street cred when you tell your kids to buckle down and do school-work, while you are doing your own. Even better if you put your phone away while you do it; that resonates with them. But when you walk across the stage, in cap and gown, the last month of your 40s, to receive your degree, hearing “YEAH MOM!” shouted from the balcony is pretty awesome.

You may end up getting a dog. Even if it loves your husband best, you may witness that dog’s ability to make him a better man (as dogs are wont to do), and bring out the best in him. Or the dog may love you best, and you may learn a whole new chapter of the meaning of companionship.

Give books 30 pages to pull you in, even if you’re a voracious reader. Life is short and there are unanticipated struggles; there’s no need to struggle through a book.

Get fit. You realize this is the body that’s going to take you the distance. Honor it with real care. You might find out you really like lacing up your running shoes and getting out for a few miles at sun-up.

Figure out you don’t need ‘things’ as gifts. The best gifts are time together, a sweet note, lying in bed watching ‘CBS Sunday Morning’, sharing coffee, or a gift-card for a session with a personal trainer, or a voucher for airfare to go see your sister. Get rid of the things you don’t need.

Talk to the ones a generation ahead of you. Get those family stories written down; archive your story or have your talented sister self-publish the narrative that is your history. Have your mom teach you how to make those popovers; but if she’s gone too soon, and you still don’t know how to do it because you never asked, let that be your only regret. Those were some damn good popovers she made.

Donate the jeans that are too small. Buy the comfortable boots. Bring flip-flops to wedding receptions so you don’t have dance in killer heels. Eat pancakes for dinner. Cultivate friendships with your girlfriends; you know you’d be lost without them – tell them so. Sing along to “Brave” or “Countdown” even when your daughter’s friends are over.

Tell people you love them, even if you’ve never said it before, or you haven’t said it in a while, or maybe you just haven’t said it yet today. Hug the ones you love, leave nothing unsaid, and enjoy every sandwich. I’m no longer in my 40s, but I’ve learned a lot, and plan to learn a lot more.


Thank you for sharing such amazing insight with me, and than you for helping me graduate college!



Lessons Learned So Far!

As I have mentioned before this semester is filled with interesting classes, and I feel as if I am learning a lot. Luckily not in the old fashion way, tests, which if you ask me only shows what you can force your brain to remember for one hour, after that it is gone and you will never use it again. Instead now we are focusing on developing ideas, brains storm and talk to your class mates to apply it, learn about if from real life cases and than apply it yourself to a case that is relatable for you.

If you ask me that is the best way to learn, because in todays age there is to much information out there to simply being able to remember it all. To instead learn how to apply, relate, and problem solve is what allows students to really develop useful habits and will make them ready for “the real life”.

To celebrate that I will know give you all three take aways from my time so far in ADPR 4300 with Dennis Jenders as an instructor.

1. Whatever you do, always do it with passion.

It does not matter if you know things if you are not passionate about them, in todays work place you will be working in a team setting and that passion is what will drive the whole group to reach new limits. This applies to most industries, people want to follow and be around other people that share their passion, and that passion can take you places you never even imagined. With that is off course an understanding on how to express that passion, that personal brand in other places than just face to face. You need to express that across all channels where you are being judged, social media, such as Facebook, Twitter are huge today. Every employer will look at you across all those different channels and either say yay or completely forget you.

2. You cannot know it all.

In today’s day and age there is an unlimited amount of tools, skills and resources out there. Learn how to master some of them, and when I say master, I mean that if the world was struck by an apocalypse (Jericho) style, you will be able to recreate those exact tools/systems that you have mastered. All other things you need to be familiar with, all other things someone else on your team has to master, and that mix of skills that all relates to the same topic will make your team complete. This goes for new technology, you cannot master them all, but it is essential to you become familiar with them fast and master a few ASAP! The workplace is ever evolving and you need to adapt quick and carefully.

3. There are no limits.

Everyday people will tell you that things cannot be done, because you do not have enough experience, enough money, the right education, guess what, they are all wrong. There are no limits by excepts the limits you except, the limits you set. Not enough budget to award advertising on TV, well find a solution that is outside of the box I like to call comfort zone. Great example is the Lung Cancer campaign, No one deserves to die, very limited budget but amazing results. That is what we all dream about creating, but we have to realize that it is highly unlikely to reach those results every time, but we also have to reach the state of mind to never settle for ok, never ever just give people what they think is okay, instead give them the unexpected, give them you all. My girlfriend Caroline told me today that she has to go the awkward extra mile, and I agree that it is an hard extra mile to wander, but it goes with the grass is greener on the other side. Because in order to reach that grass we have to walk the extra mile, maybe even 10 extra miles, but believe me it will be worth it.

That is what I have taken away so far, obviously I could have mention the importance of certain programming, the difference between content and noise, the importance of being prepared, or the best practices for a Facebook page or a Twitter account. But instead I chose the abstract lessons that I believe truly will help me no matter what the future holds.