Sometimes what I really want to scream out loud is…
Click through my slide show for my spin on this week’s Finish The Sentence Friday!
Enjoy the final set of sTrEeT aRt: Through My Lens.
I watch them from the sidelines as they stand side by side on the edge of the field. Every so often they turn and high five each other, throw an arm over a teammate/friend’s shoulder. With the short attention span of little boys, a couple of them roughhouse with those standing closest to them until the coach reminds them to focus on the game. In these instances, I catch glimpses of their faces and can’t help but wonder if I’m catching a glimpse of their future as well.
My eyes methodically travel down the line, and come to rest on each jersey, seeing more than just their number. These boys already exhibit certain characteristics that will become prominent as they grow into men.
Number 17 stands still, eyes directed at the field and his fellow teammates in action. He watches each play intently, tuning out the more restless boys on either side of him. Will he grow to be the kind of man who is focused and driven, eyes on the prize at all times? Will this cause him to neglect those he loves most, not understanding they need his love and attention more than his paycheck?
Number 23 is just as focused on the game, but expresses his enthusiasm not only for each pass completed. He also jumps in the air, his little cleats stomping the grass as he yells “Good job guys!” and “That’s the way we do it!” Will he be that guy who always encourages and supports those around him? Will he be the go to guy when someone needs a little push to overcome life’s obstacles or will he be the man who hides his true emotions behind a facade of smiles and cheers, always giving others, never sharing of himself?
Number 4 is more focused on the blades of grass at his feet as he pulls one, twirls it in his hands as though he’s seeing it for the first time, oblivious to the activity surrounding him. Will he grow up to be a man who takes pleasure in the small things in life? Will he appreciate all the parts that make a whole or will he get so caught up in the little things, that he misses the big picture?
Number 32 can’t stand still as he shifts his feet this way and that way. He alternates between watching the game and watching his teammates goofing around beside him. Will he spend his adult days always on the sidelines, watching but never truly participating? Or, will he be the type of man who tunes in to everyone around him, always fully present for each?
Whatever these little boys turn out to be as they grow into the men in our lives, our daughter’s lives, and our communities, I hope they take the lessons they are learning today and hold them close to their hearts.
The field may be a tough place at times, full of surprises, wrought with confusion, and a place of decisions both instant and well thought out, but isn’t that life? I hope these boys take their commitment to their friends and teammates today and turn it into commitment to their significant others and family in the future. I hope they apply the same drive and determination they display today to the things they are truly passionate about as they make their way through life. I pray they hold on to the pleasure they currently take in the small things and truly take the time out to embrace the little things that will tend to be harder to see as they get older. I wish for their future self to be the guy who encourages others from the sidelines when necessary, but also the guy who knows when to jump in and make things happen. More than anything, I hope they will be ever present in each moment life presents for themselves as well as those around them.
We, as a whole, spend so much time complaining about our youth today and the mistakes they make. We try to find a way to mold them into what we think they should be or what society needs them to be when they are all grown up. And yet, our children already hold admirable characteristics that they are applying on a daily basis, in sports, in the classroom, at home. They are exhibiting admirable qualities every time they help someone up, cheer someone on, show up for practice, commit to an entire season, and hang on to a belief that won’t let them quit. It is our job, as parents, teachers, coaches, to support and guide them from the sidelines, help them embrace the great qualities they already display today, because one day the little boys standing on the sidelines will take the field.
Street Art around San Juan, Puerto is quite the experience.
I’ve been in awe of the raw talent displayed on sides of homes, businesses, empty lots etc.
Here is the second set of my series StReEt ArT: tHrOuGh mY LeNs.
You can find the first set here.
All around the United States, temps are dropping and snow is falling. In these moments, I feel quite lucky to live on a tropical island with an endless summer. I have an undying love for summer, and being in such close vicinity to the ocean I often replay a beautiful love story and my personal favorite. It is the kind of story you curl up on the couch with, the kind that urges you to grab the Kleenex along with the popcorn. It is without a doubt the kind of love story you can’t wait to share with others.
It is also an excerpt from my book, Red Circle Days.
Grab a copy and share the love!
MY SUMMER VALENTINE
She’d been in the world only a year and spent her days in a high chair only feet from the checkout counter at her parent’s “mom & pop” grocery store. He was twelve and his family spent their summers in the same sleepy little beach town. She was a picky eater. He loved a little snack on his walk to the beach and a little something refreshing after a swim. Her parents loved his visits and he always stayed a little longer than necessary, asking about their day, sharing a little something funny he heard, but mostly he delayed his swim to help feed the picky little eater and keep her amused during a busy morning at the store. The little girl came to look forward to his visits as well, and each summer as she got a little older and more mobile she went from waiting in her high chair, to waiting by the door, to eventually meeting him halfway up the block. He started taking her along with him to the beach. She would climb on his shoulders and dive into the ocean, surfacing in a wave of giggles. The boy became a teenager and often had a female companion on these outings as well, but only one girl always held his undivided attention…she made sure of it!
Eventually, the boy grew into a young man of eighteen and shared a sad goodbye with the little girl who captured his heart and provided summer memories to last a lifetime. He was off to college and would no longer be spending his summers at the beach. Summers came and went, they never wrote, and though she listened to the locals at the store for any word on how he was doing she never picked up much.She grew into a beautiful seventeen year old lady who still spent her mornings helping out at the store, but reserved her afternoons for a swim with friends. One summer afternoon as she enjoyed the sun and sand with her girlfriends and gossiped about boys, not far down the beach a young man was enjoying his first summer day at the beach catching up with old friends. Neither group went unnoticed by the other…but two particular people took special notice. She asked her girlfriends who the “new guy” was at the same time he was asking his buddies who the “beautiful girl” was and it wasn’t long before both groups came together to surprise the two with a revelation that took them back to many a summer afternoon at that very beach.
The rest is history really…my history actually. My parents may have been from different backgrounds and the age difference alone was enough to keep them apart, but true love finds a way no matter the odds. As a kid, I loved hearing their love story and never doubted the two main characters were my mom and dad because I saw their love story continue to play out on a daily basis. I don’t remember my dad sending a big bouquet on Valentine’s Day or chocolates on their anniversary. I don’t have any memories of big flourishing romantic moves by either of them. Maybe it’s because my memories consist of my dad stopping to hug my mom from behind while she was cooking, or her never being able to pass by him without touching his arm or giving him a peck on the cheek. They always held hands, never sat on opposite ends of the couch, and loved to lay side by side talking into the wee hours of the night. My mom tells me after my dad was diagnosed with cancer, those long pillow talks became that much more meaningful to them. I wasn’t privy to the trials and tribulations they faced as most couples undoubtedly do, but I do know whenever they did argue, it didn’t last. One of them would eventually find an excuse to be in the same room again and as soon as their eyes met across the room, love took over much the same as it did when their eyes met across the beach that summer afternoon.
As a child, I pleaded with my mom to share this story with me as often as any little girl’s favorite fairy tale. To me, it was more than a fairy tale. Their expression of love wasn’t limited to one day a year. It was tested through the years during a move to a foreign country, raising three children, through financial crises and illness. It was apparent in their every move and while their love story began on a beautiful summer afternoon, I’m sure it wasn’t always a day at the beach. In my eyes, that’s truer love than any prince charming and fairy princess could ever hope to experience!
“Tucked away in the lush northwest corner of Puerto Rico, about 50 miles west of San Juan, is one of the island’s best kept secrets; the Rio CamuyCaves. The cave system, which gets its name from the 13-mile-long Camuy River, forms the third-largest cave system in the Western Hemisphere. The process that created the caves started almost 160 million years ago when a great limestone plateau was thrust up from the Caribbean Sea to form the western half of the island. Over time rainwater and wind eroded the surface of the plateau forming large sinkholes and rounded hummocks called magotes, characteristic of what we now call ‘karst’ landscape. The process of erosion continues today, helped along by the dense vegetation that blankets the region. Some of this vegetation produces carbon dioxide which, when absorbed by rainwater, forms a mild carbonic acid which further dissolves the porous limestone.” – Going Underground by Michael Defreitas.
This year I found a way to keep the act of being thankful going all month in our home. November 1st, I pulled out a set of dry erase markers, gathered the family around our hall mirror and asked them to write one thing they were thankful for that day. After a couple of (Mom has lost her marbles again) looks, they each wrote something.
The beauty of this activity as the month progressed was in the moments I came upon one of my children, standing before the mirror, deep in thought, reflecting upon what they were thankful for that day. And, while early on they had to give it some thought, later in the month they had a couple of items a day they wanted to add which made my heart smile.
The mirror became not only a reflection of thanks in words, but in images and memories.
If you look closely at what is reflected in this great big hall mirror covered in words of thanks, you will all see what I am most thankful for… the home and life we are blessed to live every day.
Here are a few more images of our Thanksgiving.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you and your family enjoyed it.
Whether you do or you don’t, the lesson here is that there isn’t one day or one month a year to give thanks.
We can and should find something to be thankful for each and every day.
I’m tempted to keep our words of thanks on the mirror permanently!
What is one thing you are thankful for today?