“The people you surround yourself with can either help build you or help break you. Choose wisely.” – JJ Watt
“[I]t is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the
man to dancing… it even
tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told.”
― Homer, The Odyssey
I’m usually a big believer in “Being Yourself” and am always encouraging the kids to be true to themselves at all times.
Every now and then though, it is definitely okay to be someone else!
We had a blast at Puerto Rico Comic Con and next year we will join these folks in costume!
Enjoy your weekend everyone!
“If you think back and replay your year and you don’t recall tears either sad or happy consider your year a waste.”
This line has stuck with me for some time. I don’t recall where I heard it, but I’ve carried its meaning with me each year as I’ve looked back at my life and the string of moments that are now in my past. Moments I may not have fully appreciated at the time and others I vaguely recall fleetingly passing through time…my time, my year, my life. As is often the case, life’s little moments present the biggest lessons but too often we are so caught up in what we are feeling in that particular moment that we miss the full essence of its significance. The present moment stirs up emotions that slowly roll over our heart and mind like a cloud cluster across an expanse of sky blocking the light that could bathe us in warmth and wisdom. It is only when the clouds move on that we look back, not knowing what we are seeking but sure we’ve missed something meaningful.
Thus, if I could give my younger self a bit of guidance now that I’ve had some time to deposit moments in my memory bank, I would share the following.
- Life isn’t always what it appears to be. Always take a moment to look beneath the surface. It is when you dig a little deeper that treasures are discovered.
- There are moments when your heart will break into a million pieces. Know that another moment will arrive that will put those pieces back together and you will be the better for it.
- The moment you think you can’t do something is the moment you’ve allowed someone else’s negativity to cloud your judgment. Believe in yourself.
- There will be moments when your heart will burst with love. Cherish them. These are the moments worth living for.
- At times it will feel like you’re drowning, kicking your legs, burning your lungs, clawing at the surface. Keep going because the moment where you can shoot out of the deep water and break the surface, filling your lungs with air and feeling the sun on your face once more isn’t as far off as it seems.
- There will be moments when you will be so proud of your accomplishments, you will want to share them with the world. Share them and bask in the glory, never forgetting the journey that got you there.
- The moment will undoubtedly arrive, likely more than once, when you will be paralyzed by fear. Do not let fear dictate your outcome. Pray. Listen to your heart. Choose a direction. Take the first step.
- If the moment ever comes when you have to choose whether to forgive or forget, understand that the two do not go hand in hand. You can forgive without forgetting.
- You will have regrets. Do not let them define you.
- Moments of failure are necessary in life. In order to be a winner, you have to understand what it’s like to be a loser.
Contrary to popular belief, filling your bank account with money shouldn’t be your ultimate goal in life. Money may make some aspects of your life more comfortable, give you a sense of security, and maybe provide some experiences you might not have otherwise. However a memory bank full of moments and each tiny detail that makes up a single moment in time is definitely worth your effort. Don’t miss out on the many opportunities to fill your memory bank with “moments.” Good or bad, each moment will be one of many of life’s valuable experiences. It will be scary sometimes to think of what the future holds, but know that it will be filled with many many moments…some of which you will learn a painful lesson from and some of which you will want to relive over and over again. Just know that a memory bank full of “moments” will be more valuable than gold when you get older.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” – Anatole France
“From wherever you are, enter and be welcome.” – Albert Camus
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
“Ask and it will be given to you:
Seek and you shall find;
Knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
“Footfalls echo in the memory, Down the passage which we did not take,
toward the door we never opened into the rose-garden.” – T. S. Eliot
Little boys all grow up to be men someday.
The kind of men they grow up to be is still to be determined.
Or is it?
“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.”
I’ve spent the last several months getting to know these same boys from an earlier post titled, Boys To Men: A Glimpse Into The Future. I’ve watched them grow in ways I never could have imagined during those early practices. I’ve witnessed the highs and lows of a competitive team sport through my lens week after week – tough games and great plays, bad calls and good calls, tackles and ultimate victory. Through my lens I’ve taken thousands of images of these boys, each capturing something unique about them, each depicting a piece of themselves that will eventually play a huge part in their future selves.
And, while earlier in the season I sat back and wondered what each of these boys might be like in the future, I no longer wonder. You see, the images that I will forever carry in my heart clearly show the type of men these boys are destined to be. As my eyes wandered away from the little warriors armored with helmets atop their heads as they prepared for battle each week, I caught glimpses of the people who are shaping them into the men they will someday become.
Coaches who volunteered their personal time day after day, week after week, to ensure these little guys would not only learn the sport, but learn lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime. Lessons of dedication, lessons of commitment, lessons of hard work, and lessons of compassion. Men who gave them a beautiful example of the importance of carving time out of your busy enough life to unselfishly give to the children of our future, instilling in them the importance of being present.
And, as I positioned my camera toward our sidelines what I saw week after week was the ultimate example of support from mothers and fathers alike I have ever witnessed. These boys were given a clear picture of what good parenting is all about as fathers helped them suit up, moms provided snacks, grandparents came to cheer them on, and siblings shouted their names from the sidelines all confirming that simply being present in our children’s lives is a priceless gift they will forever cherish.
Due to such an amazing team of people, these boys had an undefeated season and went on to win the championship. However, I can’t help but feel that during this season they won so much more.
The glimpse of their future selves is of men who will know how to be a part of a team and who will lift each other up, men who will have faith and men who will never give up. They will grow up to be dedicated fathers and supportive friends. They will dig deep when the going gets tough and they will see the best in those around them. Trophies and titles will come and go, but the greatest reward these boys received was the love that was showered on them all season long, proving they were winners long before they became champions.
The last few weeks this true story has come up on more than one occasion, so I thought I would dust it off and share it once more. Enjoy!
The sound of the waves, the sand beneath his feet, the warm ocean breeze were all a part of him, ingrained into his very soul. He was a true island boy, climbing palm trees in the blink of an eye to retrieve a coconut, catching fish with his homemade spear in the most primitive manner. It was the only manner he had ever learned…not from his father, as he had never met the man who had given him life. His mother never spoke of him. He carried his questions in his little heart, the one place they couldn’t cause the fleeting glimpse of pain he sometimes saw in her eyes…the pain she thought she hid so well.
He studied the only photo of his father he possessed, memorizing every detail. Even when he closed his eyes he could still see the way his father looked in his uniform, the way he slightly leaned into his military jeep as though someone had caught him on his way somewhere. Where was he going? Who held the camera that provided the only piece of the puzzle that was his life, his story? He held the tiny black and white photo, yet held not a single memory of this man…a stranger to him.
It came as no surprise when the little island boy grew to be a soldier as well. He and his mother moved to the United States so he could join the army at the age of eighteen. It wasn’t long before the island boy fell in love, married and had a family of his own. His young bride, wanting to know everything about him would ask him to tell her about his father. She wanted to know if he ever thought of him, if he ever wondered what became of him, if he was ever curious to meet him. His response never wavered. He had a good life, a loving family, and no need for anything or anyone else. After years of seeing the hint of pain in his eyes, she stopped asking him. Many years would come and go before she would tentatively broach the subject once more.
It was the age of computers now, when the internet was becoming all the rage and she had embraced the technology. She loved being able to communicate with all the friends she made during their numerous military relocations. And, she had become interested in a genealogy website where she could build a family tree. Once again, she asked her husband about his father. This time, he handed her the tiny black and white photo his own mother had placed in his small hand a lifetime ago. She scanned it, placed it on the site and listed her husband’s name as someone looking for his father. Neither one of them thought anything would really come of it. Yet, life has a funny way of making connections so intricately weaved, they leave us mere mortals astounded.
Across the ocean, a secretary at a military base happened on that very website. She gasped when she saw the photo and immediately printed it. Her boss arrived shortly after, and headed straight to his office. The first thing his eyes landed upon was a printout of a tiny black and white photo of a man in military uniform. There was no mistaking it was his father. He immediately took the contact information his secretary provided, and made the call that would forever change the life of a little island boy. He never doubted for a moment this man was his brother. Their father had shared a story with him, and the time had finally come to share it with his brother.
Their father had been stationed on a small island and had fallen in love with a young girl. He had returned home at the end of his assignment, but headed back to the island during the first military leave he had only to find that young girl gone. He questioned friends, family, neighbors to no avail. In the end, he found one person willing to talk. The news he was given was heartbreaking. The young girl died giving birth to a baby boy who also didn’t live.
Their father had refused to believe it. In the following years, he made several more attempts to find what his heart believed to be true, but all attempts ended the same. With a heavy heart, he returned home, went on with his life, married and had children, never returning to that island.
Somehow his heart knew what no one was willing to tell him when he sought answers so many years ago. His son lived, and one day he would know their story. He had hoped to look in his son’s eyes, and share this history with him, hug him and let him know he had gone back for them. While on his death-bed, coming to terms with the fact he would never get that opportunity, he shared this story with his youngest son. Their father requested when the brothers finally found each other, the story be shared with the son he never met.
There was silence on the other end of the phone line as a lifetime of questions were finally answered. The island boy, whom my husband calls Dad and my children call Pappa, found a family he never knew he had and a story he never believed could be his own.