Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Grand Imposter

"Depression is the grand imposter -- posing as all powerful.  It can be defeated, every time, if you or the person you care about confronts it like the grand imposter that it is."

I read the quote above in an article today, and it stuck with me.  So brief, but so much truth.  To many, depression is just "a case of the downers", or "a mood" that someone can just snap out of.  Just stop worrying all of the time, they tell you.  Try to focus on the positive, they say.  And all that you want to do is scream at the top of your lungs "Do you really think I WANT to feel this way?!?!?".  It's not about snapping out of it, or getting in a better mood.  It's a chemical imbalance in the person's body that causes them to, in various ways, lose touch with reality. The extremes vary.  

I started my own battle with depression years ago.  I have never really been ashamed of it, because it is out of my control.  But what I can control is making sure I get the help I need.  Whether it is medication, counselling, a combination of both, or something else - there is help out there for you if you need it.  Don't wait.  Don't put it off another day.  You are not alone.  There are other people who can relate to how you are feeling.  Possibly your friend or neighbor, coworker or teammate.  Maybe your pastor.  Or your classmate.   Or that celebrity you have watched for years on television and in movies.  Depression does not discriminate.  It impacts people from all walks of life.  But we need to fight.  Don't try to do it alone.  It doesn't work.  Get help.  Talk to someone.  Call a hotline.  Whatever you need to do.  Just do it now.  There is nothing wrong with you.  It's not your fault.  And yes, people would miss you if you weren't around any longer.  I would miss you.

Don't stop fighting.  No matter what.  

Monday, August 11, 2014


9,125 days.  1,300 weeks.  300 months.  25 years.  Wait...............what?!?!  Has it really been that long?  This past weekend was marked by the UA 25-Year Class Reunion.  I was only able to attend one night of the two-night affair, but it was great to see those that were able to make it.  It was held in our old gym, and we got to walk the halls of the new building, which I have some very fuzzy memories of.  The school closed several years ago, and is now used as part of Benedictine University's campus, so it does not look the same.  But it was still good to be back.  The one thing I realize every time the class of 1989 gets back together, is how close we all were and how fortunate I am to be a part of this wonderful group of people.  I only wish there had been more time to talk and catch up with everyone.  It was great hearing about what everyone is up to, what their kids are doing, etc.  I have always enjoyed being around the people I went to high school with, and have come to appreciate each of them more over the years.  And Leigh has gotten to know many of them as well, so it's neat to share that with her.  It was a small turnout, and if you're reading this and are part of the Class of '89 but couldn't make it, you were missed.  I would love to spend more time with anyone in the class that is in or near Springfield, or if you live out of town and are passing through, look me up.  Or Springfield peeps, maybe we can do a local outing at a park so the kids can join as well.  Here's to the Class of 1989!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Really DO Love Being A Daddy!

The other night, I was driving home from work.  It had been a long, hard day and I was tired and not in the greatest mood.  As it often happens, I approached our driveway and saw Will and some of his buddies out on the driveway playing.  Whenever I see that, it immediately puts a grin on my face.  We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood where there are always kids outside laughing and playing.  

Many times when I come home, Will asks me if he can drive.  Occasionally I will let him sit on my lap in the driveway and help me steer the van into the garage.  Or we'll sit and go through what all of the different buttons, dials, letters and other things on the dash mean, and I will let him try some of them out.  He gets a real kick out of it, and it doesn't take much time or effort on my part, so I figure it is worth it to see his wheels turning and his curiosity light up (can curiousity light up?  Well, I say it can, so we'll go with that!)  

Anyway, on this particular night - after the other parents and Leigh made sure the coast was clear, I pulled into the driveway.  Will came running alongside of the van after I parked and said he wanted to 'drive'.  I smiled and opened the door and let him in.  What happened next was the part I did not expect.  One of the neighbors' kids hopped up in my lap with Will.  And then another.  So there I am sitting, in the van, with the driver's side door open and three kids in my lap.  One of them, Jack, then wanted to sit in the car seat.  Then he asked to be strapped in.  Ayken, who is 3, was sitting in the passenger seat.  Will was still in my lap.  I was in stitches, laughing so hard.  I was parked probably five feet outside of the garage.  I asked them if they were all ready to go for a ride.  "Yeah!!!" they all said.  So we drove the van the whole five feet into the garage, and they hopped out and went back to playing.  You would have thought I had just handed them each a giant bag of candy or something - the smiles on their faces and the excitement in their eyes.  

Sometimes in life, we can get so bogged down by everything going on that we forget to stop an smell the roses.  We forget to stop, take everything in, appreciate the beauty around us, and just smile.  We worry, wonder and complain.  At least I do.  On this night, it took three playful kids to remind me of how truly blessed I am, and to put things in perspective for me.  Children teach me so many things.  I am so thankful for them and their playfulness, and the joy that they bring me every time I am around them.  

Who or what did you appreciate today?  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Walk With Me, Daddy

I think I have shared this before, but it is worth posting it again.

Walk With Me Daddy
Walk alongside me, Daddy
and hold my little hand
I have so many things to learn
that I don't yet understand

Teach me things to keep me safe
from dangers every day.
Show me how to do my best
at home, at school, at play.

Every child needs a gentle hand
to guide them as they grow.
So walk alongside me, Daddy.
We have a long way to go.  

Every day I have to remind myself that Will is just 4 years old.  Every day he is learning new things, testing boundaries, and trying to make his way in this crazy world.  He is so curious about everything, and asks many, many questions.  His mind is always going, and he really soaks everything up.  I'm quite certain that his memory is better than mine.  

Sometimes my tendency when he disobeys or ignores me is to raise my voice.  I hate that tendency in myself.  I want to be the gentle hand that the poem above talks about.  Guiding, showing, leading - not controlling.  This is an especially hard one for me lately, as we are both learning.  I often tell him that even though I am 42 years old, I still have much to learn.  I know you'll find this hard to believe, but sometimes I am wrong.  When I am, I want to be the kind of Daddy who can admit it.  

Each night when I get off of work, I zip home looking forward to seeing Will.  I walk in the door and he is almost always right there with a smile on his face and a hug or something to tell me.  I can't wait to see him tonight, tell him I love him, and hear about all of the thoughts and questions swirling around in his mind.  I remember what it was like to want to be a Daddy so very badly.  There were many, many days when I did not think it would happen.  I have to remind myself constantly of that, and not take for granted the gift I have been given in Will.  And he is such a precious gift to all of us.  

I love you, little man.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Daddy, Will There Be Toys In Heaven?

You may or may not know this, but my family and I attend a Christian church.  I'm not writing that because I am saying my church is the best and yours isn't, so nanny nanny boo boo!!!  But to lay the groundwork for this post.  Every Sunday, my wife and I go to 'big people church' while little man goes to Sunday school in the threes room.  This is where, you might have surmised, the three year olds go.  If you guessed that already, you're eligible for today's grand prize giveaway - a gold star!!!  Try to contain your enthusiasm.  It's a free blog, what'd you expect, cash or something?  

Okay, so where was I?  In the three year old room, there is play time but they also play a short video and do some sort of activity that sort of follows along with the sermon for that week in real basic terms.  It's hard to know for sure what exactly a three year old gets out of something like that.  Well, I know for a fact they get goldfish and water for a snack - bonus!!!!  We get a tiny cracker and a tiny cup of juice, but I want some goldfish.  But anyway, he seems to enjoy it, and talks about seeing his buddies when he goes.  

Recently, we were on the way home at the end of the day and Will was talking about what he calls 'going to God'.  He is very concerned about this heaven business, and I am sure it is difficult for him to get his mind wrapped around it.  It can sometimes be difficult for me to get my mind wrapped around it.  I mean, what will heaven really be like?  We get glimpses of it in the Bible, but it's almost too much for our simple-minded brains to process.  I loved the book called 'The Shack', but found it somewhat unsettling at first that the image they painted of God was one that reminded me of Aunt Jemima.  

Aunt Jemima

 Not that there is anything wrong with the image of Aunt Jemima, mind you.     She and Mrs. Butterworth are etched permanently in my memory and are forever associated with pancake breakfasts.  That said, she's not exactly the image that most people have in their heads when it comes to trying to imagine what God would look like.  

I apologize, my adult A.D.D. is kicking in full force today.  So Will asks many questions about going to God and heaven, and on this particular day, his greatest concern was a simple one. He had a very serious look on his face and asked me, "Daddy, will there be toys in heaven?"  It was the sweetest, most awesome question coming from a boy whose mind is always going and who is very inquisitive.  I was honestly a little stumped by this question.    I told him I was pretty sure there would be toys in heaven.  He immediately shot back with "Daddy, will they be MY toys?  My Octonauts, and legos, and Team Umizoomi toys, and all of my other toys?"  He was waiting patiently for an answer.  So I told him that I thought there would be things in heaven far better than anything we have here on earth, and that God created us with playful spirits and wanted children to play.  All of that said, I did find that there is a Bible verse that sort of hits on this very topic.   But there is actually a Bible verse on the subject.  Zechariah 8:5 says "And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls at play." So I do believe Will won't be disappointed, though selfishly,  I'm not ready for him to go to heaven anytime soon.  

The next day we were riding to his Grandparents' house in the morning and he was talking again about heaven, and asked me when we would go.  I told him when God calls us to heaven, it is our time and we go.  Without missing a beat, he responded by saying that, "No, Daddy, we don't go to heaven.  Only our spirits do."  So he has been paying attention in Sunday school and has learned some things.  That made my heart happy and proud.  I want him to ask questions and come to his own conclusions about things.  I try to be honest with him whenever we have conversations like this, or whenever he has questions about anything.  I think we owe our children that, depending on the topic, of course.  

It never fails to amaze me how much I have learned from my son.  He has woken something up in me with his thirst for answers and his enthusiasm for everything.  Things I used to take for granted in my every day life now evoke a smile and thoughts of Will's reactions to them.  Fire engines, McDonalds signs, the Super 8 sign, contrails, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and security alarms - all of these things and so many more mean something to Will.  And because they mean something to him, they mean something to me.  He is such an absolute blessing in my life.  I am thankful every day that God brought him into our lives. And honestly, I really really hope there are toys in heaven!!!!    


Monday, March 3, 2014

Daddy Angst

Even if you've never read my blog before, you know from the title that I love being a Daddy.  In the nearly four years I have had the privilege of being Will's Daddy, I have experienced the absolute joy that being a parent brings.  But there is another side to that coin, at least for me. You see, I am a worrier by nature.  I have tried to let go of the worry, and have had some success with it, especially when I lean on God and let Him have control.  But I'd be lying if I said that wasn't just flat out hard for me.  

Can I be completely transparent with you?  Along with the absolute and pure joy that being a Daddy brings me, there are times when a feeling of anxiety about Will come flowing in out of nowhere.  Maybe it's because I know what a cold, cruel world it can be sometimes and I want to protect him from it with everything that I have.  I hear stories of how mean kids can be to each other, and the thought of him riding on the school bus by himself terrifies me.  When he's sick, I worry too much about it.  Lately, he's been struggling to sleep through the night without coming into our bedroom at least once a night, sometimes more, and I worry that he's not getting enough sleep.  Will he be included?  Will he have friends?  Will he be safe?  I pray every day that he is surrounded by people who point him towards God, and who are kind and good influences on him.  I don't want him to live in a bubble by any means.  These are just very honest feelings and thoughts that I sometimes have.  It's a little ridiculous, isn't it?  He is such a wonderful boy, and the older he gets the more he is capable of.  He has a sharp mind and a strong body, not to mention a good heart.  I know I have nothing to worry about.  Yet I do worry. In my head I know it's silly to worry.  But my heart won't let go of it.  

For some reason, when I think of Will growing up, I get anxious.  Don't get me wrong, I get excited as well!  Whatever he decides to do, whatever path he takes, I will love him and support him.      

Have you been there?  Have you felt the anxiousness and the worry creeping in on you?   I'd love to hear your stories of how you dealt with or are dealing with your worry as a parent.  Maybe we can compare notes.  I'm still relatively new to this parenting thing, so I'm always willing to listen to what others have to share about it.  

For now, I will pray and trust that God has good things in store for my little man.  That tends to quiet the voice of worry and bring me some peace of mind.  


Friday, February 28, 2014

There Is No Name For This

This morning, I was in a hurry to get myself and my son ready to go and out the door so that we could start our days.  I was heading to work, and he was heading to his Grandparents' house for the day.  I had taken a Benadryl to help me sleep and because with two new cats in the house, I was trying to head off any new allergies at the pass.  So, needless to say, I was experiencing full on Benadryl Haze.  Have you been there?  You feel tired, sort of light, maybe even a little buzzed.  That was me this morning.  

For those of you who aren't my Facebook friends, we adopted two kittens two days ago.  Our previous two, Hershey and Smudge, have both passed on after living full lives deep into their teens.  We have felt the loss, and Will has, too.  The house has just been too quiet.  We are looking forward to the joy and companionship that two new kittens will bring.  

So back to today - I was in my Benadryl Haze, and after I got Will out of bed the very first thing he said to me was 'Can you let the kitties out?'  At least initially, we are keeping them in a kennel with litter, food, water and beds.  They haven't been declawed, and we want to be sure they won't tear anything up.  We have a pretty short amount of time to get going in the morning, but I decided to let them out because it would make Will happy.  

Now the other night, I dropped a Gatorade lid on the floor on accident and Savannah, the grey and white kitten, pounced on it.  Both kittens have been playing with it and carrying it around in their mouths ever since.  This morning, Will found it and started throwing it to Savannah, and she would chase it.  He was running around with this joyous laughter that was just making me grin from ear to ear.  If I could bottle that sound, I would.  I stood there thinking to myself, this is what it's all about.  I can't quite come up with a name for it, but that moment when you hear the sound of laughter that just stops you in your tracks because it is so beautiful when it happens.......that's what this was for me.  

Okay, here is one of those honest moments you'll find in my blog from time to time.  I struggle with this big time.  I struggle with worry that I sometimes rob Will of his joy.  He is by nature one of the most joyful boys you will ever meet.  As his Daddy, though, it's my job (along with his Mommy) to reign him in and discipline him when he needs it.  It's just that, in doing that sometimes, I feel like I'm wiping the smile and laughter right off of his face.  I know it's part of the territory, but sheesh, it sure isn't easy.  Especially when you are a people pleaser like me.  I have been praying that God will grant me the patience and calmness I need to be a good Daddy to Will, and to do everything I can to help him bring his joy out rather than stealing it from him.  I'm not even sure if any of this is making any sense.  But I can tell you that when he was throwing that lid around, laughing and squealing with delight as he did it, that is a moment I always want to remember.  I want to be the kind of Dad who stops what I'm doing and takes the time to be goofy, have fun, play in the rain and snow, play endless games of 'ghost' and 'switcheroo' (silly little games Will and I have sort of made up).  He is at the age where he looks up to me, and that scares me sometimes, but makes me so proud others.  I pray he always does and that I always lead him the right way.  

I have a note to myself scribbled on my white board at work.  It says 'Someone is looking up to you.  Don't let them down.'  That someone is Will.  He is just about to turn four, and still at the age where he has his innocence and is just so full of joy and enthusiasm and wonder.  I pray he never loses that.  I pray he spends many days running around, laughing, and squealing with delight as he was on this day.  The sound of his laugh is like music to my ears.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Other Half

Some people hear the term 'my other half' and don't quite understand the meaning behind it.  It's almost used as a derogatory term in some cases.  But today, I want to tell you what it means to me.  

I met my wife, Leigh, nearly twenty-four years ago.  This year will mark our FIFTEENTH wedding anniversary.  No one on this earth knows me better.  She has seen me at my absolute best, and helped hold me up when I was at my absolute worst.  We have run marathons together, seen flying fish, gone to various parts of the world, owned two homes, two cats, and have a beautiful son together.  We have gone through extreme heartbreak together.  We have experienced pure and utter joy together as well.  There have been trials, and there have been celebrations.  We've fought and argued.  We've enjoyed each other immensely.  I'm 42 years old, and one thing is certain for me.  I do not know what I would do without her.  She is my rock.  She is my constant (yes, it's a Lost reference if you're familiar with the show at all).  She is the glue that holds our family together.  And she does it all without a hint of complaint.  God has blessed me with an amazing woman. 

Leigh's birthday is Wednesday February 12th.  Yes, Abraham Lincoln tried to steal her thunder - can you believe it? I cannot reveal her age as I'd like to live to see tomorrow.  But won't you join me in telling her how amazing she is and wishing her a happy birthday?  Hit her up on facebook, shoot her a text if you have her phone number.  Let her know how awesome she is.  

I know the title of this blog is 'Love Being A Daddy', and I absolutely do.  But I also love being a husband and a partner to Leigh.  I don't tell her that nearly enough.  I don't make her feel appreciated nearly enough, either.  

She cooks, cleans, does laundry, folds laundry, washes dishes, grocery shops, pays bills and lives with me.  That last one is a tough one.  Did I mention she's amazing? But those are just some of the things she does.  Those do not define who she is.  She is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.  She has a heart of absolute gold.  She has a great laugh, loves to read, enjoys knitting, is a wonderful mother, and the greatest wife a guy could ever ask for.  She puts up with me for crying out loud!!!  Can any of you that know me imagine what it would be like to live with me every day, 24/7/365?  She does that!  I know, right?!?!  

To me, the term 'my other half' is just that.  If she wasn't there, part of me would die.  When I have something good happen to me, I want to tell her about it.  When something awful happens, I immediately talk to her about it.  When Will does something or says something that I want to remember, I text her or call her to share it with her because I know it will warm her heart as much as it does mine.  

When I got married, I really didn't quite know what it would be like.  I only knew that I wanted to spend my life with Leigh.  It hasn't always been easy, and it has been far from perfect.  But it's ours and I love it.  I couldn't have possibly predicted the wild ride it would be, but she's stuck by me through it all.  And I can't wait to see what the next part of the journey is like with her riding along side me.  

I love you sweetie.  This one's for you.  Happy early birthday! 

Friday, January 24, 2014


C.S. Lewis said it perhaps the best when he defined integrity as doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  How many times, when no one knows what we are doing, do we utter a phrase like 'It won't hurt anything.',  'It's not a big deal.', 'It won't hurt anyone.' or 'No one will ever know.'?  Do those sound familiar to you?  They sure do to me.  It's a daily battle that we fight inside of ourselves.  Conscience.  Morality.  Integrity.  Right versus wrong.  The battle rages on.

Let me first say that this is not meant to be a judgemental post.  Many of the things I post about are issues that I struggle with, and writing about them helps me think them through.  Opening up about them and posting them online often gives me feedback from one of my two readers that opens my eyes to something I perhaps hadn't considered before.  It's almost therapeutic.  So please, chime in.  Facebook me, comment on my blog, email me, tweet me, google plus me, or just call me.  I'm an open book when it comes to this stuff, and love discussing how others feel about the issues I write about.  I hope they cause you to think, and grow, in some small way.  Because if I can change the lives of my two readers in any way, then it's worth it.  Ha! 

Society has loosened the reigns of morality in so many ways.  Everyone preaches tolerance, acceptance, love.  Those things in and of themselves are all fine and good.  But sometimes love is about keeping the ones you love accountable, and them keeping you accountable as well.  Tolerance and acceptance are awesome things, but not when it's simply an excuse to look the other way even though we know what is happening is simply not right.  We watch social media and follow celebrities to see what they are doing.  We watch television and see the lines between what is accepted by censors moving further and further away from what they used to be.  Would you let your child watch prime time television these days without screening it first?  I sure wouldn't.  Does that make me a prude?  Trust me, I'm far from a prude.  I just have pretty strong feelings about what my son takes in.  I don't spend time trying to get others to agree with me and I don't disagree with them.  It's just my own personal opinion on the subject.  

I work in State government.  Now, by no means am I saying this is exclusive to working in State government.  I'm sure it applies to pretty much every field out there these days.  But within the confines of where I work, I often see things happen where there was an opportunity to do the right thing, but it is not done.  As a society, we seem to be more tolerant and accepting of this kind of  behavior.  We don't want to make waves or bring attention to ourselves for fear of how it might impact us.  Even when we know the way things are being handled isn't always right.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard phrases like the following being uttered: "It's always been this way.  It's not going to change now." "If I speak up, it's not going to make a difference, so I'll just keep my mouth shut and do my job."  I have probably uttered words similar to those myself many times.  When did we as a society stop caring about what is right?  And maybe more importantly, when did we stop speaking out when we see something that is not right?  It's something that I have been struggling with for quite sometime now.  I find it very disheartening that this has almost become 'the norm'.  

I want my son to know the difference between right and wrong, and to have the courage to speak up when he sees things that he and everyone else knows are not right.  Mind you, there are ways of going about it that are perhaps better than others.  But in my experience, staying silent when you have an opportunity to right a wrong by speaking up is in many ways worse than committing the wrong.  It enables the wrong to continue, and possibly compound.  

Do you deal with this sort of struggle in your own workplace?  Do you struggle with speaking up in these situations?  Why or why not?  I'd love to hear any and all comments on this whether it is in your personal or professional life.   Thanks for reading!  As they say at Walgreens - Be Well and have a great day!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I had a not so good day today.  I received some potentially upsetting news near the end of the day, and was in a pretty bad mood by the time I got home.  As soon as I walked in the door to our house and saw my son waiting for me, I started to get over it.  Nothing else mattered.   I was home with the two most important people in my life and I was happy.

Every night when I come home, Will greets me and is so excited and happy to see me.  The first thing he asks me is 'Daddy do you need to change your clothes?'  Translation: 'Daddy can we go upstairs and play in your room?'  I love this part of the day.  We play 'Ghost' and 'Ring Around the Rosie'.  We watch television in Leigh and I's room.  He helps me gain perspective very quuckly.  I remember what is important and where I am supposed to be.  Leigh is there to listen and support me no matter what.  What else is there?  All I have to do is walk in the door each night to realize I have everything I need right here at home.


There is a battle that rages on inside of me.  On the one side, there is the part of me that wants to see my son spread his wings and fly;  to teach him everything I can and let him begin doing things on his own and become a strong and independent young man.  But on the other side of me lies the part of me that doesn't want to let him go; that wants to spend as much time as possible with him; that wants to play some of the silly games that we play together and run and laugh and build lego towers and forts and play 'ghost' and 'ring around the rosie'; the part that wants to read him bedtime stories and watch him after he sleeps because it just brings me such peace;  the part of me that wants to stay home with him instead of coming to work every day.  I know what my job is as his Dad.  I know which one of these sides I need to let win the battle.  But that doesn't mean it still isn't a battle each and every day.  

Make no mistake, I love my son.  I love being his Daddy.  I love it when people look at him and know who I am because I am 'Will's Daddy'.  I have never minded being known not for my own name, but for who Will is.  He is such an amazing boy and he teaches me so much about life every day.  Before Will, I took so many things for granted.  But now, I often look at life through his eyes, and boy was I missing a ton!!  When I'm driving through town and see a fire engine, I get excited now!  Even when he is not with me, because I know how much joy it would bring him.  Or when we see the 'Super M' signs all over the place (we drive by the Super 8 sign frequently, and he starting calling McDonald's signs the Super M's).  I honestly didn't even know what contrails were until he told me about them - but I will never look at a little cloud of vapor left behind by an airplane in the sky quite the same way again.  He has woken up the child in me again, and it is such a blessing.  

We took a trip to see my sister and nephew this weekend.  It was our nephew's 4th birthday.  He and Will are about two months apart, so the fun is never ending when they get together.  On our way up to see them, Will kept commenting on all of the water towers, and then we saw a windmill farm and that really excited him, too.  The wonder in his eyes and the way he looks at everything is a lesson for me.  Where did the wide-eyed wonder I used to look at the world with go?  I want it back.  Well, he is helping me with that.  Pretty amazing the things that a nearly four-year old can teach you, isn't it?  

Of course I want my son to learn to do things on his own, and of course I want to teach him how to handle life's daily situations and right from wrong, etc.  But, right or wrong, somewhere in the deepest part of me I long for him to want to be with me.  To not grow up.  To not lose his innocence and childlike view of the world.  To need my protection.  My head knows he won't always need it.  My heart doesn't want to admit it.  

In the end I will be the best Dad I know how to be to my little boy.  I will guide him and protect him, laugh with him and love him.  I will remind him to do what is right and avoid what is wrong.  And I will be the first one there to support him every single time he spreads his wings and flies.  But inside, I will shed a few tears along the way.  Any good parent does, right?  Hey.  I did not say it had to make sense.  Just that it is how I feel.