Glance Back and Leap Forward

Champ Dads going strong into 2020!

WOW! This year has gone by fast! Within a week this site will have its first year anniversary. Over that time we have put up 64 posts, and 7 different pages of content. Current day all of the content has broken down to two different categories: Personal Strategies and Parenting Strategies.

As we close out this year and look forward to 2020 we will be shifting focus from blogging to creating video content. The blogging will still happen but on a lesser scale.

We have a series coming out that will be a stock pile of short videos of things that all dads should know how to do. Topics will range all over the map from how to tie a Windsor knot (tie) to how to properly shuck an oyster without hurting yourself.

Once we get the above video series rolling we are also going to be putting together interviews with various Champion Dads and thought leaders in our local community.

Okay! After reviewing the stats this year I present to you the top 10 least viewed pages. Yep…..the least viewed. Why the least viewed? Because this website took some time to gain a solid readership in its first year. Therefore, the odds are that many might have missed several posts while we were finding our way. So take a peak and view some posts that started it all.

  1. Be a good enough dad part I
  2. Agent of Change
  3. Influential Matters: The Tale of two Dads
  4. Three steps to morning freedom
  5. 5 Ways to increase laughter in your home
  6. A Perfect Mess
  7. Authenticity part I
  8. Traditions: The binding stories of our life
  9. Sacred Time: a pillar for mental wellness
  10. Break the mold: Inspire your Child’s authentic self to emerge

May you have a great and safe end to 2019. Please continue to join us in 2020 as we continue to gain traction and build out this wonderful Champion Dads community. If you have any comments or suggestions please reach out to us through our contact page.

Love, Peace, and Harmony,

Be well!

-MJ

Photo by Trent Szmolnik via Unsplash

Too Busy to Arouse Your Soul

When you look at your day, how many times do you think or discuss with another how busy you are? I hear it every day. Sometimes it is me and sometimes it is others.

“I am so busy”

Or

“I have too much stuff to do”

Or the worst of it:

“I never have any time for myself”

What are we really saying here? There is a part of me that knows all too well what this really means. When my mind has the clarity I read it to mean this:

Being busy is a signal that you are doing the meaningless. The meaningless is hollow actions or actions that are mere distractions from a purpose.

When being busy hits my day where I feel overwhelmed, the voice in my heart whispers…“why are you wasting your time?” Or “Isn’t there something else more important you could be doing?”

These thoughts stink and are deeply frustrating…because I hate The Meaningless Hollow.

There are two ways that I have found on how to handle these situations. The first one is a mere band-aid to silence the voice and the second one takes some deep work.

1. Focus squarely on the busy work as an artist painting a masterpiece. Take special care while wading in the drudgery. Think of a job well done. Think of the impact it may have on others. Overall, maintain integrity with the task. Get through it right and move on.

But when that one fails, as it inevitably does…

2. Find a quiet space outside with no distractions. Put away the phone. Sit or walk and allow your mind to unwind. While your mind jib jabs along do not judge the output. Just let it run out…and it will (could take a while). From a settled state ask:

“Why am I here?”

Or

“How can I give my life in a meaningful way?”

These questions, the Big Ones, no one and nothing can provide the answer to you. You need to discover these on our own. This is called the Hero’s Journey.

If you practice this, over time, you can cultivate a life of actions where you will always feel like you are right where you need to be. You will never feel busy…but you may always look busy. It is the path to purpose.

Those who are lucky enough to find the answer to “Why” they are here are full of life, fully present, while giving themselves completely to the moment. They don’t complain of too busy. They just do. They are in a joyous state. Their life is their masterpiece.

Let’s work to become one of the joyous heroes. Drop the distracted busy life in search of fleeting happiness. Build character within to listen to your heart and game plan with your mind.

Or are you simply too busy?

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia via Unsplash

4 Silent Lies From Mother Culture

I was listening to an interview with Mark Brooks (author of The Second Mountain) and I was captivated by his take on today’s society. According to Mark we live in a time of hyper-individualism. Our society suffers from a crisis of connection and a crisis of solidarity. I agree, as we all see it and all feel it. We have incredible technology to make connecting easier than it has ever been before. Yet, it has created just as many boundaries as it has brought us in touch with each other.

One idea that emerged from Mark’s speaking is this:

Happiness cannot be achieved alone or on a individual level. It can only happen with others and building/creating with others.

I would take this one step further. Happiness is just one of the six emotions that, like all emotions, is fleeting. Happiness is not a destination to achieve and is not sustainable. What is attainable? Joy and contentment.

When you center your life around building relationships; where the focus is not on the self but serving your connections, joy and contentment are found.

All of life is about relationships. Then the question becomes how are you serving your relationships?

Mark also listed out four common lies that cripple our ability to build a joyful life. These are silent lies that are carried out in our society. Hopefully, after reading the list below you are able to pull these dysfunctional weeds from your life and get on to joy.

1. Career success leads to lasting fulfillment. I know this one on a very personal level and know how sneaky this lie can be. Careers are an individual pursuit. The targets, once hit, moves and asks for you to hit it again and again and again. You may find a smidge of happiness here and there but ultimately you are just chasing the horizon. How do you change this lie? Begin to try to find all the ways your work helps others in their life. If you cannot locate the connection perhaps it is time to reassess your situation.

2. I can make myself happy. I used to think this one was true. Perhaps many of you may think the same thing…but guess what? Every single time I try to prove it right it ends up that there was somebody else there. Somebody I was relating to that fueled the happiness. Achievements in life are great but are completely hollow if you can’t share the victory. Think about this one in your own life…I bet the lasting joy was only found with others and not solely by yourself.

3. You are not a soul to be saved but a set of skills to be maximized. The first part of this one I would alter (based on my philosophical views) to read be cultivated. The second part is spot on. How often do we show up at work to be asked “What were your numbers yesterday?” Or, “Just work smarter, not harder, to get more done.” Their is no lasting fulfillment there…like number one above, it is pure B.S….garbage….a lie. The real question I would like to be asked each day (which I ask myself every night) “How many people did you help grow today?”

4. People who have achieved a lot more are smarter and are therefore more valuable. This is a villainous lie that I think we all feel and create a lot of self shame around. This one has crushed me time and time again…mostly this lie has come about through my own little voice in my head. All those negative thoughts that crop up in your noggin stem from this lie. Guess what? I don’t care what you have achieved or not achieved: YOUR LIFE IS VALUABLE AND WORTHWHILE. Judge yourself on the relationships you keep not your individual achievements. Relationships are eternal…achievements are fleeting at best.

As we wrap this post up I want to leave you with one additional quote from Mark:

“Happiness is the expansion of self, where as Joy is the breaking down of barriers and becoming one with other things.”

Relationships are where the contented life resides.

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash.

Dreams, Creative Action and Surrender

I love watching the determination in my children’s eyes. My son is very physical in his pursuits. When we bought a basketball hoop he spent hours working on his shot. He did not want to come in until he could consistently make a shot. That was all that he thought about. My daughter loves writing and drawing. I cannot make her move away from her drawing until it is just perfect and all colored in. Although at times inconvenient, their determination is really amazing. Kids figure out what they want and they work at it until it is in their hands. Adults, well, we are a very different story.

Adults too often think themselves out of a goal...or they simply get complacent while enjoying life comfortably. How do I know this so well? I have seen it unfold over and over again in my life. Yep, me. I would set out a goal or a dream…think it through and see all of the obstacles and come to a conclusion that…things are good enough as is.

That is the poison of being comfortable. A goal is sacrificed so we do not have to change or experience hardship.

Thankfully, my kids don’t have a sense of this yet. They are not worried about hardship. They are blind to the process and it doesn’t phase them in the least. They see what they want and work like the dickens to make it a reality. It is beautiful to watch and I miss having that be my default (I have to schedule focus time believe it or not).

What I find so energizing to my children’s approach is that they surrender to the process. They set their mind and heart to something and they march towards it. They are not thinking about the hardship involved, how many times they will fail, or how long it may take. Long story short…they don’t overthink it…they just take action. All the while they are at peace with the exploring, failing, learning, adjusting, and growing.

This is what surrendering to the process does: It brings the mind a measure of peace so it can get out of the way while we take action. It also allows the world to move in and fill in the gaps.

If you have a dream in your heart…

If you know you can experience more…

If you know that you can create more…

Then it is time to start building the bridge to your dream. Stop thinking and over analyzing it…make a commitment and start marching.

That is how life works…the world only becomes magnetized when we take action. Life favors and responds to those who create out of their being.

Once you have set your sights and married yourself to the goal/dream, let go and surrender to the journey. Then put in the hard work. Remain open and flexible to what life gives you.

I liken this to a game of tetherball. Our intention is the ball. Our dream is the pole. Our commitment is the rope that ties the two together. This game cannot be won unless we hit that ball repeatedly. Life acts as our teammate or opposition moving the ball back and forth as it wraps around the pole (this is where we remain open and flexible). If your conviction and actions are strong enough, eventually the ball and pole will meet.

What in your life are you tethered to? What dream is waiting to be dusted off and achieved?

Let’s mitigate overthinking and instead focus on taking creative action until we experience the dream.

Be well

MJ

Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

Father’s Day Reflection

I saw this poem (below) a few weeks ago and it really rang true in my heart. It was anonymously penned and it epitomizes what a Champion Dad is.

I have often thought that if I took all the words out of my parenting, my children would still learn all that they need by what my wife and I show them. We (all of us) are always leading by example. Everything we do, they pick up…they are sponges to our ways.

At the end of the day remember: The pathway to your child’s heart/mind is built on their feelings of personal significance. Help them see and cultivate their inner hero.

So for this Father’s Day I wish you a day of gratitude, love, and joyous reflection.

Be well

-MJ


“A careful man I want to be —

a little fellow follows me.

I do not dare to go astray,

for fear he’ll go the self-same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes.

Whatever he sees me do he tries.

Like me he says he’s going to be —

that little chap who follows me…

He knows that I am big and fine —

And believes in every word of mine.

The base in me he must not see —

that little chap who follows me…

But after all it’s easier,

that brighter road to climb,

With little hands behind me —

to push me all the time.

And I reckon I’m a better man

than what I used to be…

Because I have this lad at home

who thinks the world of me”

Boredom is a liar

My five-year-old son started using a word that is really offensive to my ears: Bored.

“Dad, I am bored.” Or “Daddy this is boring.”

I know that he picked this up from school because we don’t use this word in our household. Sadly, he uses it in the correct context. So from that I know he has a good understanding of what it means. Still, I don’t like it. Good for his grammar but bad for his attitude.

Boredom is a word I never have had much use for. Yes, I have experienced it but I have not allowed the experience to define me or become habitual. Being bored screams that we see the world as fixated. Boredom is a lot like sleep walking. Sure you are up and moving around but you are not with it and are missing the magic. Boredom is a signal that we have to get off our ass and look at things in a new perspective.

When I was in early high school, my best friend and I used to sit on his back porch and dream up ways that things have never been done before. We did this because we were bored of feeling bored. We would look at routine things and come at it from absolute ridiculous angles. An example I remember we came up with: I am going to eat this taco from the middle bottom. We would laugh ourselves sick deliberately doing things in an asinine way for amusement. What a great time we had even when we got covered with taco innards by being silly. On another day we played backyard baseball swinging the bats upside down. We learned a lot about how hard it was to hit the ball with the handle side of the bat…you know…just in case we had to do it in a game.

Boredom chokes the present moment. Boredom is a condition of the brain that states there is nothing new to see here. So how does one break the choke hold of boredom?

Creativity

Creativity is the exit sign to a life of boredom. Creativity opens a gateway of possibility for the mind.

The simplest way to go from boredom to creativity is to ask your mind (or child) a question. The brain is built to solve and will instantly jump on the opportunity to create.

The simplest questions work best. For a task related things you may ask: What is another way I can do this? For situations where others are involved you may ask: How can I make this person smile? Or, I wonder what this person is thinking (or feeling) in this moment?

The reason for this post comes down to this. Boredom is a terrible state of mind to be in. Every moment of the day contains magic in it if we remember to ask or look.

Think about this:

Your life is a first attempt. No one has ever had your attributes, challenges, and possibilities. You have never been done before….and neither has anyone else.

Life is always creating itself new. Things may seem the same or feel steady and fixated but don’t be fooled. The world, your life, is always in constant flux.

Creativity is the gateway to vitality and a life well-lived. If boredom is creeping in on you (or your child) it is time to ask better questions.

What can you create a little different today? Who can you connect with to break your static view of who they are? How can you approach today with renewed novelty that all things are not as our boredom has assumed?

Hmmm, I wonder how many different ways are there that I can drive into work?

Be Well

-MJ

Photo by Ricardo Annandale via Unsplash

Never Tip The King!

Lately I have been reflecting on this site and what it really means to be a Champion Dad. I have read through all the posts I am contented to report that the messages are consistent with the original intent:

“This site was created for the dad who wants to be the best dad they can possibly be.

This site is about becoming the Champion Dad your kids already believe you are.

This site is also about being the best person, relative, friend, employee, citizen, competitor…..well you get the idea…the best “it” you can be.

Moreover, this site focuses on life strategy”

The above wording is directly from our About page. Today I would like to extend it a little further…add a little more zing to it…a little more attitude. So here we go:

This site is also about being a kick-ass dad! Ideas are presented to help the reader drop their self imposed shackles. There is no reason, NO REASON, that we can’t wake up each morning with unmitigated reverence and zest for life.

Listen, life can be a cruel taskmaster if you let it be. Nothing is ever easy. There are no handouts here, as it is all one lesson after another. If you fail to learn the lesson it will continue to appear a little harder in another eventuality down the road. That is simply the way of it.

Yet, that is why we are here. That is why I am writing this….That is why you are reading this. We have victories waiting to be won. We have failures waiting to teach us. We have loving relationships to build. We have stories to share.

Embrace it all, accept it all…then move the mountains. Do the work and clear the path. The Champion Dad’s work is all internal. Sharpen your mind.

We can get control of ourselves. We can employ strategies to live healthy, strong, and joyful lives. We have the power and resiliency to build and practice the life we envision for ourselves. It is there waiting for us to focus on and make it a priority.

Life is a struggle and nothing will ever take that away for good. Yet we can wake up and start new each day. Each day is our second chance to do a little better than before, love and accept others more broadly, and fight the good fight for our core values.

If you are living your life with no motivation and you wake up with no gas in the tank…that is truly troubling. Don’t waste another moment drowning in the backwater of your own life! Swim out of it! Find a way to get back into the current and then use the current to advance you forward instead of beat you down. Get tough! Get inspired! Discover the novelty of life again. Get comfortable with the uncertainty that life brings you. Get comfortable that you might not know all the answers….get comfortable with the struggle. The magic of life lives in the heart of struggle. Above all: keep working on it…get out there and kick some ass. Keep your chin up and progress forward.

Just get out there and be the best damn dad you can possible be. Our children need it…the world needs it.

Be well my friends.

-MJ

Photo by Jeshoots.com via Unsplash

Strengthen Your Values & Meaning (3 smart but uncomfortable angles)

Donny: Are these the Nazis, Walter?

Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there’s nothing to be afraid of….These men are cowards.

Nihilism: the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless.

Nihilism is a cop out and a coward’s way of confronting the their own existence. Now if you are reading a post like this then most likely you are not a nihilist. However, I would like to put out there that avoiding the big questions and leading an undisciplined life equates to the same thing.

Champion Dads do not walk through life without a compass. We believe in something higher, something better, something within ourselves that is undefeatable. For some, religion is their North Star. For others, deep moral principles are their guidance. In both cases, there is a highest value that directs everything in their life which provides meaning.

And this is what Be A Champion Dad is all about: Working at becoming the best version of ourselves that is possible.

Champion Dads work to become mentally stronger, healthier, and contented. Below are three uncomfortable (but smart) angles to think about to strengthen your moral compass and help identify more meaning in your life.

1. Seek out conflict in a healthy way. Your highest value really directs everything in your life. A sure fire way to build and strengthen your values is to have a healthy amount of conflict. Conflict will allow you to reaffirm all that you believe in, clean up the weak areas, and get stronger. By conflict, I mean seeking out and listening to opposing viewpoints. Listen not to win an argument but rather to understand. Good dialogue with conflict is just like working out. The more you do it the stronger you get. This can be very hard if you are not in control of what triggers you…but keep an open mind. You will be surprised how much you will grow when you seek to understand an opposing viewpoint. One of the best teachers in life is confronting what you are not.

2. Listen to personal shame. I know this one sounds a little weird but hear me out. I am against shaming others and I am against unnecessary personal shame. Yet, sometimes personal shame happens all by itself and in those moments listen. Usually what is happening is that your heart/mind is letting you know that you are not living up to your highest values. Listen, correct the situation, and move on. Everyone who holds high moral standards will feel some shame now and again. It’s ok, just learn from it and forgive yourself. A little internal shame teaches us and provides a nudge back on the right track.

3. Take into account all of your limitations. Guess what? You cannot be anything you put your mind to. None of us can. It is also impossible to be everything to everyone. This is just not how we are designed. However, you can take stock of all of your limitations. This will help you to understand where to grow and how to use the limitations to play to your strengths. I know my faults to a tee and knowing this I am able to avoid situations where they become a liability. Know yourself inside and out and be honest in your assessment. This is how meaningful growth is done.

So there it is. Don’t be a nihilist or act like one. Go out there work hard, stand for something and kick some butt!

Be well

-MJ

Photo by Jewel Mitchell via Unsplash

Balancing The Emotional Intellect

I think that it is a common thought to believe that we are solely autonomous and make most of our decisions logically. But if I was to state that this is not the case, that in fact, we are almost always guided emotionally…would you believe me?

I used to have a really hard time believing this but it is true. So, it ends up, I didn’t want to believe it because I feel that I am a person who has a pretty good handle on things. I like the thought of being rational and poker-faced. Since I hold these thoughts in high regard my logical mind creates stories to support this persona. But….emotions are the real driver. Emotions are subtle little ninjas that get the logical mind to justify just about anything it really wants while making you believe otherwise.

Test it out…next time you are justifying doing something that isn’t logical (frivolous purchase, ridiculous vacation, or having an extra drink, etc), the logical part of the brain is working hard to build a story to get you to fulfill the emotional request.

I mean, think about it! Watch an ad or commercial…they only appeal to the emotional center of the brain. Advertisements, programs, and commercials are just planting emotional seeds for you to act on at a later date. So, KILL YOUR TV! Hahaha…I will save that post for another time.

(Wait, do you want to know how easily a person can influence you??? All they have to do is appeal to the emotional part of your brain and validate your self-image…yeah…it is that easy.)

Everything that you experience in your life passes through the emotional hemisphere of the brain first. It has to get through this area before it can even get to the logical hemisphere. To complicate matters, a person cannot be in both hemispheres at the same time. This is why we have cliches:

“Never make an important decision when emotional” or

“Count to 10 before saying something out of anger”

So right now I am really working on balancing these two out. It is very important to feel our emotions and process them. Don’t bottle them up or they will figure out a way to escape (which usually results in a questionable behavior….watch your kids- they exemplify this as they figure the world out).

Also, it’s just as important to honor the logical part of the brain. Without learning how to get logical we will remain emotionally unregulated (cue up a child’s temper tantrum). The remedy to help bridge over to the logical brain:

PAUSE

Pausing allows us to exit the emotional part of the brain and enter into the logical part of the brain. If you can do this and build a habit around pausing you will become more regulated and in control. This is a great habit to work with your children on. Who wouldn’t love well behaved, emotionally competent child with good critical thinking skills??? Wait…we first need to lead the way for them to follow.

What is a good test to determine whether or not you should build a habit of pause? hhhhmmm…..Have you ever been instantly triggered into anger from a comment some idiot (you’ve never met) has posted on Facebook or Twitter? Of course…we all have.

Feel and process the emotions so you can bring in the logical. You can’t control how you feel but you can honor the emotions without immediately acting on them. Emotions are just sign posts in the mind; they pop up, we recognize, and then act accordingly with the new information.

Balance the emotional triggers with pause. This will lead to opening the gateway to logical control.

I mean…don’t we all want to be Jedi’s? I do.

Be well

-MJ

*Special thanks to Peggy Hoime and Jeanine Fitzgerald for the discussions around the power of pause. Great stuff that works!

Photo by Joshua Earle via Unsplash

Hey! Go Take a Hike!

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” Friedich Nietzsche

I have had a lot of stresses lately (professional, personal, and health-related). Yet when I think about my current situation it does not feel like a new thing. My daily struggles are a song that I have heard over and over again throughout my 44 years on this earth. It is nothing new. If hardship has not externally come into my life, my ego does a great job of creating mental baggage. I worry too much.

Mental baggage is heavy. For the most part, I cope with this stress quite well but occasionally I get paralyzed by it. A common theme about mental paralysis that I have noticed is that I feel that I have no control over the situation. It is hard to cope when my mind goes on strike and moves into a survival mode. Essentially, my coping gets lost at the point that the stresses feel stronger than my personal will power.

It is very important to exercise some measure of action even when we feel beaten down (whether externally or internally). Taking action is the first step in taking back control or the reigns and building momentum back to a wellness state.

This post is about the go-to environment that gets me unstuck every time…yes every time. As I think back over the last twenty-five years, there is a common background to the remedy: getting out into nature.

Pure and simple: NATURE.

Long grueling bike rides, hitting golf balls, fishing a stream, or going for all-day hikes…I am outside breathing in nature. Being outside for long periods of time allows my mind to settle and sort through all the baggage. Nature clears away of the excessive thoughts that I have and helps me return to the center of my being.

Nature is a sensory experience. It is the balm of the soul and the calmer of thoughts.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery- air, mountain, trees, people. I thought: this is what it is to be happy” -Sylvia Plath

Instead of me just blathering on about my experiences, here are some proven scientific facts about getting out into nature and what it does for you and your children:

  • Children and adults who play regularly outside have stronger mental acuity, concentration, and feelings of self-worth.
  • Children and adults also have a drastic decline in anxiety, depression, and obesity.
  • Children who spend a large amount of time in nature have far less behavioral issues.
  • Children develop stronger problem-solving skills, resiliency, confidence, and social skills.
  • The sounds of nature shift the nervous system into a relaxed state.
  • Those who live close to nature have reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate, and stress.
  • Nature is also associated with a reduced risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death.
  • Spending time in nature (or outside) also drastically improves sleep duration and quality.

Take back control of your mental state by one of the easiest things you can do: Go outside and do something, anything. Now that spring is here I am going to make up reasons to get out more and build back up my resiliency.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” -John Muir

Be well

-MJ

*Resources used for the above bullet points came from: http://www.sciencedaily.com (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm), http://www.hyperbiotics.com (https://www.hyperbiotics.com/blogs/recent-articles/5-ways-spending-time-in-nature-benefits-your-health-and-your-gut), and http://www.itsallkidsplay.ca – Jean Orem.

Photo by Westboundry Photography- Chris Gil via Unsplash