Category Archives: Parenting

Fatherhood: push it

Jewel had her birthday party this weekend, with a teddy bear theme. We held it at our house and, thanks to Mama’s diligent planning well in advance, it was a great success. We had a few activities for the kids and they spent the rest of their time roaming the backyard, bouncing on the trampoline, swinging on the swings and picking tomatoes in the garden.

This was after a morning of mini-meltdowns from Jewel–nobody will like those activities, nobody will have fun, 3B will ruin my party. 3B joined in with salty cursing and general grumpiness followed by breakfast and screen time. By the time the party started, what with all of the preparations Mama and I had to make, we were wrung out. Nothing we did was rocket science–hence no rocket–but there were lots of little things to keep track of and complete.

So, after the party–at which Mama and I had a splendid time as well, visiting with friends and watching the kids play–we all took a little bit of down time and then took the dog for a walk. Snowy had been crated during the party, for everyone’s sanity and her safety–what looks like a tasty bowl of grapes to you looks the same to her, but is actually a bowl of toxic death to her.

Even though we’d let her run around the backyard and played with her after everyone left, Snowy needed a walk. And, despite playing all day with their friends, 3B and Jewel could use one too.

3B led most of the way on his bike while Jewel followed closer behind than ever on his old bike, which I just put training wheels on. Previously she was on a bike that was too small and didn’t run as well, so she had a hard time keeping up with even a scooter. Now, however, you better let her take a turn in the paceline.

But, she still did tire out on the long hill back home, and so I pushed her. As I did, I pulled out my iPhone and played Push It, which actually gave her a lift and got her to pedal harder for a little ways.

As Mama and Snowy caught up to us, Mama said, “Nice music.” But Jewel liked it enough that I played it again when we got home. Or maybe I was just reliving my college days for a moment.

Either way, I’d forgotten that 3B learns a song the first time he hears it and never forgets it–hence his picking out Ode to Joy and Yankee Doodle Dandy on the piano earlier this week. So, for the rest of the night, we were all serenaded by an eight-year-old whistling Push It as he curled up in an armchair reading about Star Wars.

Yo, pick up on this, indeed.

So, you didn’t die?

It’s only a tragedy if we don’t learn something from it.

I’m sure I said that to my kids at some point over the weekend, passing on to them the wisdom of Riff Markowitz, Producer, Master of Ceremonies, &c. of the Palm Springs Follies, which gave its final performance this weekend.

I endured many near-tragedies at the Follies, learning many lessons that I not only carry with me, but also put into action at every job I’ve had since then. Of course, the greatest gift I got from the Follies was my wife, who I hired as my Assistant Stage Manager, thanks to a recommendation from my friend. Unlike the many employees I had to let go from the Follies, she walked out on us, mid-season, just after we had finally gotten her trained–a months long process.

Obviously, I didn’t hold it against her, especially since she was leaving to travel around the world for a year on a paid research fellowship. I’d have gone too, if I could.

But I couldn’t, since I was finishing out my final season at the Follies as the Stage Manager, a job that I had backed into the same way one backs down into a cannon before being shot through the smoke, spotlights and cacophony of a three-ring circus. In my three-year trajectory at the Follies, I learned many things:

  • Never trust a monkey on stage.
  • Firing someone is never easy. It sticks with you for the rest of your life, no matter how necessary and justified it might have been.
  • It didn’t happen if you didn’t see it.
  • You’re responsible for it, even if you didn’t see it, so look harder, closer and everywhere.
  • Checklists are your friends, but never your salvation.
  • Nobody can make smoke hit a spike mark…but that doesn’t mean they can’t try, try, try, try, try, try again. And one more time, just for good measure.
  • Homing pigeons will get lost in the dark.
  • There is no detail too small.
  • Don’t be late to a meeting with the boss, if you like your job.
  • Friends are your salvation.
  • Given the means and the opportunity, there’s nothing that motivated people can’t achieve.
  • A man can fit inside a balloon.
  • Pigeons can live for days without food or water.
  • Grandmothers can be strippers.
  • You can always be kind. Always. No matter how you’re being treated.
  • 80-hour work weeks are possible without medication, so long as you don’t count coffee as medicine.
  • The ideal location for a coffee bar is next to a theater.
  • Eight-hour days seem like days off when your standard day is 15 hours.
  • The guy who leaves first isn’t always a slacker. He’s sometimes just the best organized.
  • 24-hour supermarkets are a thing of beauty.
  • You can stay calm while firing a headline act between the matinee and evening show, but the strain will still keep you awake for days, like an overwound watch spring.
  • The screamers and drama queens are loud, but watch out for the ones who are too kind. They’ll kill you with a smile.
  • It pays to plan and practice for what everyone else says could never happen.
  • Test everything.
  • Twice.
  • Never drink tequila with a man who sips it to cure his colds.
  • Everybody poops. Pigeons poop more.
  • If you’re kind, when you go over the inevitable cliff, people will throw you ropes. If you’re unkind, I hope you packed your parachute.
  • It’s better to test safety nets with sandbags than with your own body.
  • Friends will always catch you, no matter how far you fall.
  • Manners matter.
  • Texans talk a good game, but when you’re messin’ with people, remember that Missouri rolls deep.

Our profession was drama and our average employee was like me–a little too young and a little too male. This meant there were many tales told to Mr. Markowitz about hijinks and high perils engaged in on our one day off each week. He would let the tale teller get into the thick of the plot and then suddenly raise his hand to stop them, then say, “So, you didn’t die, then?” After the teller confirmed their current status among the living, Mr. Markowitz would wave them onward with his hand, “OK, then. Proceed.”

Just as we pushed ourselves hard on our “weekend,” we pushed hard at work–ourselves and each other. Because everyone was performing beyond what they previously thought they were capable of, they could get pissed–with good reason–at someone else on the show who let them down by not working up to that level. We all raised each other’s game to new heights.

We also all knew the tremendous strain the show put on us–on our relationships, our sanity–such as it was, our health. It shaped our entire lives. The first Thanksgiving in my life that I missed having dinner with my family was because I had to run shows at the Follies. And yet, I got from that time lifelong friends. They saved my ass more times than I can count–until now I just count on them like I count on the sun by day and the stars at night. And when I fall down, I look back up to them and start climbing again, always attempting to get to their level.

Because we knew the weight, we forgave and picked each other up when the load was too great.

At the start of another day in the grinder, Mr. Markowitz and I were standing in the house right aisle, discussing the events of the upcoming day, when the taciturn Audio Engineer entered the theater at his call time and walked past us up the aisle without a word, just a quick nod of the head. “Good morning, Mr. __________,” said Mr. Markowitz and I at the same time. We got a quick wave of the hand as the Audio Engineer proceeded up the aisle. As we watched, I said quietly, “It’s all about personality, isn’t it?” Mr. Markowitz nodded and said words that I can still hear, to this day.

No matter how geekish my jobs have been since then, no matter how far behind the scenes, no matter how much technology has been between me and the people I serve, that’s always been true, along with two other lessons I learned from my two boothmates. You can guess who said which.

  • Yes. It’s all about the people.
  • Never let your ass shit you out of a job.
  • First there’s a booger in the sugar and then there’snot.

After all the years, we didn’t die. Instead, we met our wives, forged our careers, started–or restarted–our lives, and we all rose higher than we thought we could. Yes, there were the dark times, the low moments–literally, when the stage lift wouldn’t $%^&ing lift for anything–and the bad times too. But let’s leave that offstage for now. Let’s live in the light, where we smile to make the audience smile with us. Where we dazzle to make them believe that the impossible isn’t. Where we do our best, because that’s what we do for friends.

The house may be dark now, and the stage barren, but the light still shines within each of us every time we do our best…and know that tomorrow we’ll do even better than that.

–Thanks to Mr. Markowitz, the entire Jardin family–Mary, Dan & Terry for the opportunities you gave and the lessons you taught. Thanks, also, to John Finkler for reminding me to laugh at least once a month.

Bouncing back

Two weeks ago, I was bouncing on the trampoline with 3B when I felt something let go in my back. On that first bounce, it was just below my left shoulder blade. On the next bounce something let go below my right shoulder blade.

The pain was as if a sword had sliced out across my back from my shoulder blades down to my hips. I immediately sat down and asked 3B to stop bouncing while I crept off the trampoline. I haven’t been back on since, and my back hasn’t been the same since.

It’s too bad, since one of the kids’ favorite activities has been bouncing together on the trampoline–with each other, with one parent or all of us together for a family bounce. The kids do most of the bouncing, but it’s a good way to be outside, active, interacting and (mostly) enjoying ourselves.

Now when they go out, I try to do other things around them, like weed the lawn, pick up dog poop, set up the deer fence around our garden–you know, other fun stuff. At least I’m close enough to talk with. It is a reminder, however, that I’m not getting any younger and that I don’t recover as quickly as I used to.

I used to be able to go on a 25-mile bike ride without food or water, come home, work in the yard, then go out with friends until 2 a.m. and still get up at the hour of…well, noonish. Hey, I was a teenager. But any one of those activities–the ride, the yard work or the going out–is a full day for me.

Just this week, a friend asked me to go to Two Trains Running with him–a chance I leapt at. I’ve loved the show since I saw it in Los Angeles with Laurence Fishburne, courtesy of my aunt and uncle some 20 years ago…that can’t be right, can it? It can’t have been 20 years…right? Maybe that’s why after this performance my friend and I went home to our wives and kids and sleep rather than going out for coffee and pie and a long discussion of the show, as I did with my roommate who was my date for the show 20 years ago.

This week, however, after getting a sound three hours of sleep and going to work the next day, it was all I could do when I got home to immediately sit down for dinner and creep off to bed.

I can still do it at my age, but the bouncing back, well, it’s not so bouncy anymore.

Even too much is never enough

“Any idiot can face a crisis, it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.”
― Chekov

I don’t ride my bike enough.

I don’t see my kids enough.

I don’t sleep enough.

I drink too much wine.

I spend too much time in worlds that aren’t mine, like twitter and Facebook.

I curse too much and don’t laugh enough.

It’s either never enough or always too much. Of course, none of these are probably true, but it’s what I tell myself, so it’s how I feel.

On the upside, I cut back on my coffee…actually, I cut back on my caffeine intake, mostly by drinking half-caf. Maybe that helped with the getting to sleep–or maybe that’s the too much wine at work. Nothing has stopped the waking up at three in the morning, worries cascading and ricocheting down through my brain like pachinko balls, clattering and rattling against my teeth on their way out.

Then I’m vertical again, and on my way. Hot shower. Cold floor. Loose suit. Coffee that I don’t have time to drink because the cats must be fed.

Breakfast should be spent reclined, in a diner, spreading butter on biscuits, salting the potatoes just so, laughing with loved ones, looking at the pies in the glass case on the way out. Instead, I check the weather, news, email, shut the door on the cats, pull my scarf out of my sleeve, wrestle into my coat, open the door and walk down the drive.

Mind the ice.

It’s dark and silent out, just like inside our house. Everyone still sleeps. I slid like a moon shadow around their dreams and their steady breathing as I walked memorized paths over the creaks in the floor and through the invisible doors, black holes in dark walls. I never see them wake, refreshed, returning home when they are spent and struggling to float through the rising tide of sleep.

Finally I succumb too, lying on my back, staring at the stars as the warm sea of dreams rises around me, tallying my day with marks on my mind’s wall…not enough, not enough, too much, not enough. The ledger is never balanced.

Hands free parenting

When you absolutely, positively have to get to the hospital…
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(Not our car. We walked past this one on the way to the doctor’s office.)

Mama was in the office, so I was on daddy duty yesterday, shepherding the kids to doctor’s appointments and caring for Jewel, who survived the tornado of a 48-hour virus only to come down with a cold. 3B has it too, but Jewel seems to have gotten the worst of it, though she’s been cheerful through it and even taught herself to use the belly of her shirt to wipe her nose when there are no tissues.

I’m so proud.

What made me truly proud yesterday was how 3B, when Jewel had been shattered by shots in each arm at the doctor’s office, did everything in his power to comfort her. Ignoring her screaming, crying and anger, any of which usually upset him, he waded right into it, trying to distract her, offering her toys and comforts. And he stuck with it. She didn’t melt like butter, but lit up like lava, burning everything she came into contact everywhere she went, from the exam room to the car. 3B, however, was undaunted, cheerful and persistent.

I was so impressed with his efforts.

He showed that he not only cares deeply about his sister, but also is always watching her–otherwise, how would he know immediately what to offer her to calm her? How to talk to her to soothe her and not set her off? How would he know that he has to stick with her through it?

As for her, if I were sick and someone slid two slivers of steel under my skin to pump in a stinging solution, I’d scream at them too. I’d need to be held back too. And I probably wouldn’t be bought off with a princess sticker on the way out the door, so kudos to her for her quick recovery, even if the screaming didn’t really end with that sticker.

What ended it was a trip to Starbucks. Yeah, you heard me. Did I stutter? Starbucks, because I am the baddest motherdaddy in this here town. Actually, I don’t even know how we got there. Someone suggested that we get a black-and-white cookie (to protect the innocent, I won’t even use 3B’s initials here…oh, wait…) and Irish coffee sounded good, and we were going to get 3B back to school right in the middle of lunch and, oh hell, why am I explaining to you?

I told Jewel that we couldn’t go into Starbucks if she was going to disrupt the other people there. She was done with the real crying long before we got there, anyway, so I don’t feel like I was repressing her–though her therapist will be the final judge of that, I suppose. And we did disrupt everyone there anyway. I don’t know if it was a dad being left alone with two kids or just kids in the middle of the school day–shut up, stick that pinkie finger out and sip your goddamned poopacino–but everyone turned their head about 12 times while we were in there to stare at us.

And then it was over, 3B was back in school, Jewel and I did what we needed to and could in the short time left before school ended. As soon as it did, we had to meet the fridge repairman at home–the icemaker works again, so bring your vermouth and olives over anytime–race on our scooters to meet 3B, race back home, race to the playground, and then relax through a playdate until things got…testy.

Before we all got a little tired, hungry and done, the playdate reminded me that sometimes the best response is to just laugh.

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Mostly that reminder came from 3B’s friend, who seems to be forever cheerful. I bet I could get it from my kids, if I just shut up and listened once in awhile.

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There was more, and there will be pictures somewhere (I’m guessing over here), but those are the highlights of what was my hardest workday all week. It was the hardest and easiest. It was the longest and the shortest. It was a time of trials, transgressions and redemption.

It might have been that way because it was largely a hands-free day, meaning that I didn’t have one hand on my phone all day–except when I was texting with Mama to remind her that in offices, people don’t wipe their noses on their shirts. That relaxed me and allowed me to focus on where I was, what was next and who I was with. And to use both hands to get my shirt up to my nose to wipe it.

My kids were so proud.

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Happy bald birthday

“Daddy doesn’t have any hair. He just has those little things on his head.” -Jewel

And thank goodness, since we spent our weekend–3B and Mama’s birthday weekend–outside, camping at Harper’s Ferry. When we arrived on Friday night it was still as hot as a snake in a skillet…a humid snake in a skillet, but fortunately we were camping next to the river, which kept us a bit cooler, and gave us a place to throw our rocks.

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And dance.

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The river was also a good place for a ball to float away, causing me to run in after it, sinking up to my thighs in mud, having to dig out my brand new Keens, since they wouldn’t come up out of the muck with my foot.

But, fortunately, that same river cooled things off that night.

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Although the temperature didn’t keep us up, we were awake a few times that night since this was a campsite only a mother could love. Specifically, it was a campsite only my mother could love, since it was right next to a train track, which was busier on Friday night than any other night of the week, apparently. I guess even Thomas and his friends need to blow off a little steam.

We did all get enough rest and the next day we drove to another stretch of the river, which was a good place to rent a tube or six and float along for about two hours. But not before a little chocolate milk for breakfast…

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…and a quick sketch.

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The river also appeared in the lyrics 3B wrote to What a Wonderful World, but I hope to record him singing that, so I won’t spoil the surprise here, except to share this picture, which he had me take to illustrate his words.

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The next day we took a short walk under those train tracks…

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…and up a small stream.

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After that, we headed into town, where there were people in costume, soldiers and, of course, a bookstore.

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After we got provisioned at the bookstore, we added one more soldier to the ranks of those in town.

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Then we learned how to drill and fire by company, rank and file properly before heading for home.

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After all that, we were all pretty tired, but I was still doing my best to firmly and compassionately enforce a zero-tolerance for disrespect. I finally tried to inject some fun and common interest into our situation by allowing everyone to pick their own music for 15 minutes for all of us to listen to. Despite that, the disrespect resulted in us pulling over several times until the situation in the backseat could be resolved with respect. At times, however, it was too dangerous for pulling onto the shoulder, so I did what I could to remove my attention from the situation, switching over from the kids’ music to my music and turning it up.

Unfortunately, the first time I did it, while the song was appropriate–I mean, c’mon, what’s more loving than Sublime’s What I Got?–I did happen to crank it up for the guitar solo intro lyrics, “I can play the guitar like a motherf@#$ing riot.”

So that was awesome.

And so when Jewel says, “Mommy doesn’t have any hair on her head, it all turned white and fell out.” …that was my fault. Nice birthday gift, huh?

But we all survived the ride home and enjoyed baths–boy, did we enjoy those after two days sweating it out between the river and the railroad–dinner, cake and gifts.

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We ended the day with a friendly fight–a Harry Potter chess match.

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Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day

Yesterday I had special time with both kids for the first time (on a weekday) in weeks. Where does the time go that I can’t do this more often?

Before I go on, I’d probably better explain special time. It’s a period of time–usually 30 minutes for 3B and 15 minutes for Jewel–when the parents turn all their attention to their child and the child is in charge…within parameters, of course. And yes, that means turning off our phones, iPads, computers and TVs and really tuning into the kids. 3B has a longer time because his activities can be more involved, and Jewel has less because she is often ready to move on sooner, being younger. As she gets older, her time will expand accordingly.

We don’t have time for 1-hour blocks, as USAToday suggests, but the rest of what they describe is pretty much what we do.

So, why don’t we have 1-hour blocks of time? If the kids are such a priority, why doesn’t special time happen more often?

As I’ve thought about this, I’ve thought about my iPhone. No, not that it takes up so much of my day that I don’t have time for my kids, but that it makes the world available to me and it has only four buttons and one switch on it. This is the result of the design philosophy of the man responsible for it, Steve Jobs.

“for Steve, less is always more, simpler is always better. Therefore, if you can build a glass box with fewer elements, it’s better, it’s simpler, and it’s at the forefront of technology. That’s where Steve likes to be, in both his products and his stores.”
― Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

The question really isn’t, How do I cram one more thing into my schedule? The question really is, What are the top five things I want to do every day?

After I decide that, I need to have the discipline to do that–to focus on just those five things and drop everything else. Subtraction is additive when we remove what’s unnecessary

So what about you? What are the five things that you most want to do every day?

Diving cats

One lesson I learned on Saturday was that I don’t have much practice at parenting other than the weekends, which is like dropping a cat off the high dive into the deep end. Fortunately, there is a simple solution, since Mama is always looking for time to go to the gym.

I asked her to promise me that she’ll go to the gym every weeknight so I can get some practice parenting. Seems weird, right? Don’t parents just know what to do? I suppose that many do, and I also know that there are many like us, looking for a way to do things better. And why wouldn’t they be looking?

Since the Spock that was heard around the world, a cottage industry of parental advice has grown into an entrenched industry devoted to perfect parenting. I’m not after perfect parenting–but I do want something better tomorrow than we have today, and I want something better in 5, 10, 15 years and long after I’m gone. All that means that I have to start practicing today.

So far this week has been going well, although last night the kids wanted us all to go to the gym together, which is great for us as a family, but it meant that I had to sweat and suffer on a stationary bike for an hour while watching ESPN. That might seem to you like my dream evening, but I’d much rather ride at home on my own bike while watching le Tour de Fwonce.

The huge upside to it was not only that I still got my parenting practice in, but also that I got to sit on a bike next to Mama, my favorite riding partner, and chat. Just having her company made the sitting and spinning tolerable. And the huge upside for the kids was that they got to watch Mulan again. Yes…while we’re at the gym, they’re boobing out. Not quite sure what the fitness and health lesson is there…

To boost my fitness for every evening, I’m also reading a little bit from the book from our last parenting class on the bus home each evening. It not only helps remind me what I (theoretically) learned in the last class, but also helps me shift gears from dealing with adult coworkers to hanging out with my own kids.

Turns out all those people around me in school and college all those years who studied were really onto something. Who knew?

Other than all of them, I mean.

I’ll let you know how this gym/single dadding evening schedule continues to go, of course. If you haven’t already figured it out, all y’all are holding me accountable, even if you never say anything to me about my parenting skills, or lack thereof. Just knowing I’m going to tell you all about it is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. And, by “straight and narrow,” I mean, of course, “chaotic, caring, unpredictable, courageous, fun, respectful, strange and kind.”

Which is sort of what you’d expect from a cat falling off the high dive into the deep end…OK, maybe just the chaotic part, but, you know, a little unpredictable, courageous and strange.

It’s not them, it’s me

I gotta admit…my subconscious mind has found about a dozen other topics to write about and is still trying to figure out ways for me to convert this into a blog post about something else, but I’m determined to see this through. Not that I disagree entirely with my subconscious mind…there have been several fun things to write about since we last met here, including a great ride with some of my PMC teammates, a (almost) Fourth of July parade at our pool, a day at the pool, a dive meet…

There, subconscious mind…are you satisfied?

The other thing that happened was that I had a horrible, no good, very bad day as a dad on Saturday morning. Mama was at the pool to earn us the volunteer points we need as swim team parents, and I was by myself with the kids.

Had I thought about this at all, I would have approached it differently. Instead, I instinctively told myself, “I’ve got this. I know exactly what to do.” The reality was, “I’m not doing all that well myself. I’d better be damn careful about what I say and do.” Unfortunately, I only saw the reality after the damage was done.

Everything started off fine, but I wasn’t really being very PEPish. That’s OK once or twice–we can all sort of muscle through those moments. After awhile, however, I became discouraged by what was happening: constant sniping from 3B, berating and picking on Jewel, and Jewel repeatedly breaking down in huge sobbing tantrums over the most minor events (not, btw, the sniping…but not unrelated to it, I’m sure). And me?

Who knows what the hell I was doing, but it wasn’t working. It wasn’t PEPish; I know that. I would send 3B away for his bad behavior. I vacillated between consoling Jewel through her tears and strategically ignoring them so they would go away. By the time Mama got home, the kids were inside on their own while I was outside in a self-imposed Daddy time-out, so I could keep my cool. As soon as Mama arrived, I took a pulaski to all the weeds around our raised bed gardens, hacking a two-foot wide fire break around them, digging up any living thing in the rocky clay that passes for soil in our yard.

After 20 minutes, I’d cleared one side of the garden and calmed down enough that I thought I could keep my cool for awhile longer. I knew the kids also needed to get outside and get their ya-yas out and so, with Mama’s great assistance, I herded our two non-feline cats out to the car and drove us all over to the pool. Mama stayed behind for the excitement of paying bills and sorting mail.

The water worked its wonders on all of us.

We returned home refreshed, tired and happy. It wasn’t a perfect end to a disastrous morning, but it was a huge improvement over where I’d started. Overall the day served as a reminder that being PEPish takes work. It’s still not a reflex for me as a parent to respond PEPishly. My reflex is far more authoritarian, which works about as well as you’d expect for someone who’s raising two intelligent, independent free spirits–and who encourages them to be that way.

It was also a reminder to watch myself and what’s happening with me. I recently read research on willpower that shows we each have a finite supply of willpower in any given day. There are some ways to boost our reserves, but the best way to ensure we have enough is to limit the number of situations in which we need to use it. Willpower wasn’t the issue here, but I believe that I woke up already drained of other finite reserves of interpersonal strengths and skills, and I just didn’t recognize it.

The kids weren’t the ones who drained me, and they would have no way of knowing that I was exhausted in this way, nor should they care. Even though the causes are unrelated to them, there was a direct effect on them, which is a reminder to myself that I am a whole person–what happens on one side of my life directly affects the other side. It also reminded me that for me to be PEPish, for me to encourage them, I need to be feeling encouraged.

3B asked me over the weekend where Atlas stood to hold up the world. Not that I was holding the weight of the world on my shoulders, but I need a solid place to stand if I’m to hold up my end of the bargain to 3B and Jewel to be a solid parent.

Perhaps that’s why I felt so good after my bike ride on Sunday morning–because it was something I could do…something that I’m, in fact, pretty damn good at. Completing a 40-mile bike ride before 10 a.m. and still having enough energy for the rest of the day reminds me that I am capable of doing something difficult, long-term that requires planning and persistence. Knowing that I’m doing it to raise money for those who need it the most among us–those who are fighting for their lives against an enemy defined by its inability to stop and those among them who can’t afford the fight–makes the ride more meaningful.

(There, subconscious mind, I worked in the bike ride. Happy?)

Good lessons are worth learning several times, and I suppose the one I learned again on Saturday was that to encourage, I need to be encouraged.