Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mr. Right...


There are things that I want my daughters to understand when it comes time to start dragging boys home...when that little something inside of them flickers and sparks and they find someone that they want to invest even just a nanosecond in.  It's by no means an exhaustive list of points to consider, but it's a sweet one.  I just want whoever they love to love them right back.

- If he watches "Juno" and doesn't cry. Lose him. He's a pile.

- Find a guy that would want to watch "Juno."

- When he goes out drinking with his friends, he doesn't shut his phone off, no...he answers your texts...he calls you. Keeper.

- He'll happily take you to a ball game, the symphony, camping or to Paris...without a second thought. Tranquilize and tag him. That one shouldn't get away.

- He scores two impossible-to-snag football tickets...and he asks you to go instead of his friends. No brainer.

- The mature shit, the really responsible, scary, harsh-dose-of-reality stuff doesn't phase him.

Who doesn't have fun in a pile of leaves?!

- You approve wholeheartedly of his iPod playlist.

- He's cool...oh so meltingly cool, and he doesn't even try.

- He treats people kindly.

- He likes your loser moments.

- He wants to know your opinion.

- The goosebumps never go away.

- Vegas is a trip for the two of you.

- He wants your parents to like him.

- He likes you better without all that make-up

- Prom and a movie?


- He wants you to like his friends, and them to like you...but it's not mandatory.

- He apologizes.

- Does he come to your games?

- Do his parents know you almost as good as he does?

- His version of beautiful is whatever you are.

- He makes you demand more of yourself.

- He doesn't try to change you


- He knows every John Hughes movie ever by heart.

- Obscure references...not so obscure with him.

- He'll wait for you.

- Your sister approves.

Hometown Therapy

Lax Courts Fall

I spent my lunch last Wednesday freezing my hands off shooting balls for no reason...simple stress relief, I think.  No different, I suppose, than shooting pucks when you were a kid...or free throws...not really all that different from someone who goes for a run, or someone who jumps on a bike.  I slipped over to "the courts" while I was in town, between appointments.  "The courts" are a couple of converted tennis courts that have been made into a lacrosse-centric outdoor play area.  I never like to overuse the notion of "only in Wallaceburg," but yes, only in Wallaceburg

I regularly visit my hometown, at least once a week, sometimes twice, to meet with kids who have landed on someone's radar and are in need of, well, talking to.  That's me...the talker.  Usually I'm up to the task...more than up for it...but sometimes I'm not.  Sometimes the weight of another, unknown stress just drags me down and makes me much less than what I need to be...much less than what I should be. Those silent stresses are the ones that leave me freezing my ass off playing a kids game when I could be any number of other places.  Those are the deadly ones. Those are the stresses that you can't wipe your feet of.

They're also the ones that remind you where you came from.

Love, Love, Love It

I live in a house full of girls.  Why not them?

A Simple Thing...

Bubble Beards

It's how I want them to look at me that sticks in my head more than I want them see me.  I found myself talking to a girl this week that flipped my head and heart right back onto that one true thing...I want to be something impressive, something that makes you shake your head and smile.  I want to be something so worth your time and effort and energy and affection.  It starts with these two daughters of mine, but it radiates out from there, like a stone thrown in still water.  It matters so much that I manage to make some kind of life that stands up for these girls.

I found myself in a strange office at a school this week telling this young girl about an exercise I once did in which you had to ask a dozen people in your life to pen a letter talking about what you meant to them, or who you were, or telling a story that defined you...anything of that sort, as if you were dead and though it were prepared for a wake or funeral...the letter was sealed and couldn't be opened until some distant point in your life...a moment when you needed those words, perhaps...or maybe once you'd actually up and gotten gone.  It struck me how important that might be for my daughters...they'll have their version of their own father, but no other.  They won't hear the perspectives of the young girl that I was helping, or that friend that I cherished...they might never hear the version of me that you have. We like to think that our lives are of value, and that we're making some kind of difference, but more often than not all of those moments slip into the ether and disappear into memories.  If we're lucky the people that we someday leave behind know something more than just their own memories of us. In telling this young woman this story, it struck me how desperately I want my own daughters to have some version of me that they might not know, or wouldn't have the opportunity to understand.  It struck me that so much of what defines me are my connections to other people and yet those connections are more often than not ephemeral. They are too often quiet and fleeting, and might never trickle down to the people that I love the most.

So here is your task, if you'll be so kind as to humor me.  I need your help in shaping how these girls see their father.  I don't want to wait until it's too late.  I don't want them not knowing who the people are that their Dad may have meant the most to.  I want to try tackling that exercise again.  Think of it as a Christmas them.

If you could...

Write it all down...everything.  Seal it.  Send it. I'll stuff all of that kindness in a safe place for these girls to someday pour over.  I'll do the same for you if you ask.  It's a simple thing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just Say Yes.

"The willingness to say yes to small and ordinary adventures..." I just read that and swooned a little...wait...can you swoon just a little? Perhaps, but it struck me right in a powerful place and seemed like such a good explanation for my sporadic absence from this blog over the past few months...I've been busy, yes. Busy with work...busy with family...busy getting a company and organization off of there ground...but maybe more difficult to articulate, I've been really busy being myself. I've been investing back in myself in the most everyday, ordinary ways, and it's been something of a renaissance...something like finding money between the couch cushions. I've been trying to leave myself open to "small and ordinary adventures," and it's been a revelation. My reflection in the mirror looks different.  It's been an exercise I opening myself up to the idea that I can be a better Dad...a better husband...a better friend...a better son...and all by catching the occasional glimpse of who I want to be, and what I'm capable of....those are easy things to forget.  In fact, I think most adults do forget them.

I find myself saying the same thing to the kids I work with..."figure out who you are and vs then get really good at it." Sometimes we ignore our own advice. I'm starting with the willingness to say yes to small and ordinary adventures."  What are you starting with?

Monday, November 11, 2013

An Ohio Export...Inspiration


Trust me when I tell you that strangers can change your life. When the University of Findlay (OH) Women's Lacrosse team came to visit Jimmy Twohander's first community program, a group of a dozen or so excited 3-6 year old toddlers disguised as lacrosse players, you could feel the impact all the way down to the most brittle parts of your soul. Wide eyed little girls giggling and bouncing around a borrowed gymnasium with the kind of girls we could only hope they'd grow to become...enthusiastic, caring, kind, hard working...and all because we asked them to help us. That's it. That's all.

When Coach Duffy responded to my random email asking for help getting a girls program off of the the ground I never imagined that we'd be standing side by side watching both our groups of brilliant young girls finding faith in each other.  It was an awe inspiring afternoon that reminded me of the power of caring, and of giving, and of reaching out. I suspect that some of these girls will be in touch and connected for years to come, and I know that I'll always share a common respect and appreciation for Coach Duffy.  They didn't have to invest in these little girls, or in this bold idea that on the surface had so little to do with them, such little impact in their universe, but upon a closer inspection had everything to do with them. Driven by Coach Duffy herself, and the individual girls of the Findlay lacrosse program, the idea that we can impact people so far removed from our everyday by simply choosing to do caring.

Special thanks to Coach Duffy and all of the Findlay Oilers Women's Lacrosse left a lot of little girls hoping that someday they can grow up just like you, and the idea takes my breath away. I'd be a happy and proud father if mine did.

The Journey From Platform Nine and Three Quarters

Leaving the house this morning I was busy tucking my grandfathers dog tags away under my shirt, and pinning a red poppy to my coat when Zoey asked what was up with both.  Astute little girl, and so despite being late I took a moment to tell her what Remembrance Day was all about.  The conversation quickly turned into a comparison of Voldemort and the Third Reich, in which my Grandfather, a veteran, was referenced in the same breath as Harry Potter, and well, I just can't think of a better...okay, maybe cooler...tribute on this Remembrance Day.  He'd have had no idea, of course, having been gone for decades, and may very we'll have harrumphed the whole thing, but trust me when I tell you this Grandpa...that's one cool reference point.

It's difficult explaining to a little girl what war is, and why we're trying our best to remember. Set that in contrast with what I feel is a need to really get down to the abstract fuzziness of it all, the philosophical even, and it gets even harder. I want to always set days like this, and efforts such as those that we make today, in the context of what freedoms we've been blessed with...and one of those freedoms is choice, and the freedom to believe in whatever we chose to believe in....another is the freedom to express ourselves in whatever way we so chose. Our grandfathers, our great grandfathers, even for some of us our fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, and friends all faced the inconceivable horrors of war in one shape or another so that we might have the freedom to do as we chose, believe what we choose, and find not only safety in that, but comfort as well. I want my children understanding that. It's an important but often overlooked part of all of this.  Whatever your beliefs are, there has been, or were, soldiers fighting to ensure that you have that privilege. It's a momentous thing. It means that whatever beliefs you have someone sacrificed their life so that you could have them. That demands not only your respect for those who sacrificed, but for those beliefs that you might not necessarily believe in yourself. It's not just about tolerance, it's about comprehension of the abstract concept of sacrifice and freedom. You might not agree with someone, but my grandfather gave an enormous part of his life, and sacrificed more than I'll ever truly comprehend so that we could disagree.

When a four year old girl compares you to Harry Potter, well, you might have just reached the pinnacle of whatever tributes us silly Muggles can make, and if that same little girl can start to wrap her head around the concepts of remembrance and sacrifice and freedom all because of J.K. Rowling's brilliant work, then maybe the task of helping her to understand isn't as daunting as we may have thought. Like we needed one more reason to love Harry Potter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Burning Eyes and Wretching Stomach...Not To Mention My Broken, Aching Heart

My friend Mike stuck his Spartans cap on Mags and snapped this pic before I could catch him.  Sneaky bastard.  Now she'll end up at State someday and it'll be all his fault, and I'll have to kill him for sport.


The Collection

Someday, when she no longer cares if I read Harry Potter to her at bedtime, the world will be a much darker place, and most of it's magic will fade.

There is, of course, the hope that such a thing never happens.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It Doesn't Take Much...

I say it over and over, and I get tired of defending the position, and it's not humility, it's not deflection. It's the truth...It doesn't take much.  It simply doesn't take all that much to change a attention...value together...embrace patient. Be yourself.

This week I met a girl who had been robbed of everything...everything, an unfathomable degree of degradation, but Everyone who met her fell apart from her story...watched her fall apart all over again in front of their eyes...until eventually all of those everyones called me all on the same day and asked if I could help.  Of course, I could try.

We met today...and we laughed...and we cut some chains...and we found some hope and stumbled on some faith...and no one cried.  She smiled a lot, and it was a wonderful smile.  She needed a lot of things but some of them were very simple...winter with the red tape...and some were more difficult, confidence...value...acceptance...privacy...dignity...but we found those too.  She didn't break my heart at all, not like she did the rest, but instead I found her mending pieces of my own as she tried to do the same.  She lifted me up and I couldn't help but tell her what she was first she didn't believe it, but I don't hide excitement and enthusiasm and emotions very well.  She could see it on my face.  When I told her, "you've got this...everything's going to be okay.  I'll help," she finally looked like maybe she believed someone.  It was easy because I believed it.

Most of us don't need much...a friend...a chance...a breath...a break...a time to lose our minds and a place to fall apart and pick ourselves back up in privacy.  Most of us just need the world to slow down for a minute, just long enough to match their pace and allow them to pick it's rhythms back up and start running again.  Most of us just need someone else to remind them that it doesn't take much.

Believe me when I tell doesn't take much.