Celebrating Life’s Wonderful Moments

Today I celebrate my son’s birthday! I feel so honored to have him as my son and I am happy that God put my kids in my life. Through all of the turmoil I have experienced it is moments like these where I sit back and just give thanks. Whether you know who or what you are giving thanks to, just give it, it won’t hurt.

Then just celebrate those things around us that give us joy. Life can be beautiful.

Everything is AWESOME!

…when you’re living in a dream!

Yes, according to the fun kids movie Lego Land everything is awesome as long as you conform, keep life light, don’t focus on the hard stuff, and work as a team. Woo-hoo!

But seriously, life is awesome. It is full of beauty and magnificence. It is pleasurable and wonderful. I look around my wonderful city of Chicago everyday and I am reminded of these pleasures. Therefore, I enjoy taking a moment in my crazy world to acknowledge just how awesome life is.

Regardless of the trials we face and the pains we all feel – because they are real – we should always be reminded of how awesome life is. YOU are awesome! I AM awesome! WE are awesome together!

Now go tackle that day with all of your awesomeness!

O-M-G! Am I Really Incapable of Love?

What if you discovered something about yourself that was so hideous, villainous, outrageous and terrifying that it pained you to think about it? What if you woke up one day looked in the mirror and discovered you were the boogeyman, albeit wearing a nice crisp Kenneth Cole shirt with Levi straight legs? What then would you do as you left your humble abode to venture out into the world exposed for all to see? What if? Accept what has become? Push it aside as a non-truth? Or face it head on?

In a recent conversation about L-O-V-E (I shudder at the mere mention of the “L” word) I was the Peanut Gallery throwing small bombs of negativity. In true fashion to my pessimistic, sarcastic, and insensitive characteristics I had difficulty answering the simple statement.

L-O-V-E is _________.

Of course I could have wordsmith and found a very poetic description to fill in the blank. Or I could have quoted Biblical scriptures stating the prescribed definition – say it with me you scholars – I Corinthians 13:4. I might even make light of the moment and awkwardly provide a voice of humor sheepishly masking my real feelings. But the real challenge for me was I could not answer honestly. Maybe it’s just me or maybe some of you have gone through this. But how do you answer a question if you are unsure of the context? Better yet, is it possible that we don’t know what we don’t know?

And I may not know what love is. I don’t mean the love I have for my children, or my parents and siblings. Or the love I have for my friends. Or even the love I have for my cats. But what about love for a significant other?

In my marriage I often felt I was out of my league with love. My past relationships were brief compared to others. I never really engaged with another human being on such a deep level that I found myself shallow of thought. Yet, I felt encouraged and hopeful because I had seen an example of love through my own parents. I also believed in love as I was growing up. But something happened and my beliefs were shattered. I felt ill equipped to nurture my loved one as needed or to show compassion when required. I was headed for a bad turn and I didn’t see any way around it. And there it was – THUMP! I hit a wall of despair and my marriage and family crumbled. In the accident I was relieved of all sympathetic thought and any desire to show another human being love.

Therefore, I became incapable of holding onto one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Maybe I held onto the pain of a bad breakup time and again. Or the loss of my puppy as a child deterred me from loving again. I have felt there is nothing harder to overcome in life than the sadness caused by broken dreams. I have been depleted of emotion giving way to a shell of my former self in an effort to protect. In the long run I know this is an unhealthy place to be. Therefore, I recognize where I am and I move forward in correcting this trait.

I can love again.

If I focus on fixing ME the rest will follow. We all hear and many of us ascribe to the idea that we must be made whole. Making ourselves whole is a matter of discipline and introspection. It might be a painful process in the beginning but the results will be magnificent. Butterflies aren’t born beautiful they evolve. And so must I. Musicians George Benson and Whitney Houston (rest in peace) sang it best in the song The Greatest Love of All – “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

This sounds like a good starting point for me.

Get In Where You Fit In?

Kanye West’s song “Clique” says it best: “ain’t nobody f*king with my clique, clique…Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique…” Well, some of you know the rest.

And what about getting in with a gang of folk? Who are my homies? What makes up my clique?

If you’re like me you might wonder whether you even fit in a defined group. I’ve never fit in just one group. I sometimes felt like an outcast searching my way through trying to get in where I fit in. Or should I fit in where I get in? Conformity. I tried this as well but it didn’t do it for me. Thus I was an empty vessel adrift at sea looking for similar vessels as me.

When you come from a diverse upbringing it may add to these feelings of exclusion. However, other people come from a homogenous environment and still feel the same. Those of us who feel this way usually fumble our way using a trial and error approach hoping and wondering whether we will find that friendly clique there for us. It is only human nature to belong to something; defining that “something” is the key.

I went through my punk rock stages but I didn’t dress the part.

I tried on hip-hop fashion, but didn’t dress that smart.

I even bought a pair of cowboy boots only to realize I wasn’t a Southern bunk.

It wasn’t even the clothes I was wearing that would hide my dismal funk.

When I was a young lad my father said to me and my siblings, “ya’ll are different because of your life experiences. You will forever have to deal with this.” He was right. We traveled around the world due to his job and always found ourselves trying to get in where we fit in. But what I didn’t realize is that eventually I would find my diverse clique merely by the laws of attraction. When I stop trying to fit in the universe guided me to where I needed to be.

The journey has taken me some time over my years and now I am lucky to have such a diverse group of influencers. These friends and family are all unique and I suspect we have all felt very similar with this journey. And the great thing is recognizing our uniqueness and cherishing it. It has made me a more enlightened individual who understands the value of being unique brings to our world.

So I finally found my clique, clique, clique. And ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique, clique.

Cheerios in My Pockets

As I came into work this morning I grabbed a bag I hadn’t used in some time. When I got into the office and pulled the small bag from my computer bag much to my surprise I found something…

A few remnants of cheerios.

These small morsels have been there for a while. I’m certain they were there when my babies were…literally…babies. It made me smile and I realized how I missed them at that precious age. I’m sure many women can relate. I wonder if men relate to this as well – I know I feel sentimental when I am reminded of my kids during the early years. The time passes by so fast. Enjoy it for sure.

To our kiddos! Love them to pieces.

Daddy Dan

Family; Familia; Famille; Familie; Familj…

I am back from spending a wonderful weekend with family during our biannual reunion. People travel from near and far to commune, discuss, fellowship, and bask in the aura of family love. Family bonds intricately bind our family love together in a beautiful weaving way. We toss away any feelings of bitterness, sadness, or hostility for a moment to gather strength through togetherness. And it is a wonderful thing. But what really is this family bond that we feel? Is it merely a feeling or is it something more that interconnects us? And does a family start with two?

thekids2

Missing from this reunion was my complete family – the inclusion of my children’s mother. Through the challenges of divorce my family makeup has changed and it is noticeable during these family functions. However, with the support of the entire extended family me and my kids moments are no less special; different and unique but special nonetheless.

My family bond is created through the desire to belong. Many of us may believe our common blood line might have a special magnetic draw for each of our family members, although, there is no evidence that a purely physical connection draws us any closer to one another. It is our desire to be part of something special that unites us. Family gives us special moments and memories building on top of one another creating lasting memories within the recesses of our minds.

We can connect with friends that can become family. We have family members we do not have anything in common yet we desire to connect. We marry and start a new family hoping the bonds of family grow stronger than the temptations to break us apart. And we constantly search to find that special bond that moves us forward. Connecting with family is an awesome gift.

Divorce changes everything. The new family you created changes. Dynamics within the extended family change. Relationships are different. It is a big adjustment especially when you have had a close relationship with the extended family. Divorce also requires us to change our definition of family. My little family unit has become a splintered family – torn apart. But the bond and love we feel from the larger extended family comforts us and continue to bind me and my kids. Thus, it is crucial to surround ourselves with loving family during challenging times such as these.

I appreciate the experience my children will gain. I love how their lives are touched by relatives, both young and old, and I see how important it is for them to feel connected beyond one side of their two parents. They will have a unique experience for their lives as they develop and nurture the bonds of family. My rich family history shows my kids there is much more to gain from a splintered family beginning. And it is up to me and their mother to help balance these experiences so as to not neglect one family side versus the other. There is nothing more valuable than being accepted and belonging to a tribe – and that tribe is what we call family, regardless of how it is created.

Thankful Tuesday

diversity

On occasion I like to acknowledge that I am thankful; therefore, here is my list of things for which I am thankful…

Thankful for my beautiful kids – God could not have given me finer gifts,

Thankful for life and it’s abundance – even though in the midst of storms my life is full of abundance,

Thankful for family and friends – without others surrounding us through our turmoil we would never make it alone,

Thankful for the beauty of this world – when I look out the window and take it all in I feel Peace beyond all understanding.

What are you thankful for?

Did I Get Married for the Wrong Reasons?

When I was a boy discovering my sexual appetite all I did every day was to stare at every female booty on this planet. You know, hormones kicked in. And it wasn’t so much I wanted to have sex with any booty that jiggled but I had a deeper, more complex plan. I was beginning to look for the perfect woman, companion, and confidant that I could not only share my inner most secrets but someone who would not judge me for my weirdness – someone who, frankly…could make me some beautiful babies to carry on my legacy.

sex appeal

Yup, that was it. A nicely hourglass-shaped, physically appealing specimen that would do the work of housing, ahem, I mean, carrying my unborn children; a woman that would become the incubator for my chicks. A conduit in which my babies would come out and look at me and say, “Hey Daddy Dan, I’m here to carry on your good name!” Thus, it wasn’t sex alone that drove me to marriage but the desire to carry on a legacy through offspring. Every man has this desire to see his “shorty” carry on the family name even if from afar. Little did I know my incubator would want something more? I was bamboozled.

I wasn’t really bamboozled. I was in love. Yes, some might consider my view of my potential wife shallow and short-sighted. But I did want children. Women have a tendency to choose a mate, usually a father, based on some physical attributes. It has been proven when women search they desire a man that is six-foot two, built like Adonis, and can beat somebody down when provoked. This is not merely for the woman’s own viewing pleasure and sexual appetite, but it suggests when they have kids the kids will have the traits of the father. The man would be strong yet sensitive, sensual and trusting, yet tough and resilient. Truth be told, men view future baby-mama’s in somewhat similar fashion. Does she have nice child-bearing hips? Is she built proportionately? Or does she have some other physical attribute important to the man that ultimately will determine an important element about that child?

As we venture through this subconscious path of desires, reality usually steps in and brings us back down to Earth. We are generally happy about our babies once they’re born. We care less and less as our babies mature and we pray they are healthy and capable. And we also find some deeper connection and love for the woman that produced the baby for us and she is no longer just the vessel that contained this life form until its birth.  We men do understand the importance of the role.

Thus, it isn’t all about marrying the type of woman that is going to provide you with kids that you subconsciously desire but also a woman in whom can be a good parent. Men desire someone that is a partner and can assist in the duties of child rearing. You want someone that is capable of raising and nurturing a small human being to be the best person they can be.

Concluding, I didn’t marry for the wrong reason, but it was one of many reasons; although, it is a big reason and should not go unnoticed. However, through maturity, that reason – how good of a child can my future spouse and mother of my kids provide me – is less and less important. More important is the love I have for my kids even in the midst of a marriage gone bad. For they are still the legacy afforded to me from a Higher calling. And I am pleased.

A Father’s Day Rant – Aaarrgh!

Another Hallmark Holiday is upon us. People are scurrying to grab a Father’s Day Card from the miniscule selection at the local card store. As I peruse the cards for my own father, I come across an interesting design. It is a tad unusual Father’s Day card with a flower design and letters shaped like curls. Upon closer inspection, the title of the card says, “For you Mom on Father’s Day.” I am flabbergasted. Is it too much for our society to recognize us fathers holding it down on the one small day in which we are to be celebrated? Apparently it is.

I don’t want to sound like I am anti-single mother, or that I don’t understand how single mothers that do the best they can to raise their kids without the deadbeat dad around, or the true female warriors who attempt to straddle the fence of gender and provide as much of a masculine role model for their kids. But the nerve of our society to go out and celebrate the destruction of our American households by continuing to remove the male figure from homes by highlighting the female head of household. Of all the days to do this, it had to be a Father’s Day greeting? Can we not relegate this acknowledgement for mothers to the extremely popular and more socially aware on Mother’s Day? (Bring out the trumpets and horns while rolling out the red carpet.)

Granted, there are deadbeat dads amongst us. And for another day I shall rant about them as well, but today, on Father’s Day, we are to relish those things a male figure brings to his kids, the bond the father has created with his sons and daughters, or proud feelings exhibited by his kids as they hand daddy a five dollar plastic trophy from Target claiming “#1 Dad!” How about the yearly excursion to Red Lobster to treat dad to his favorite meal? It doesn’t take much to please a man. You won’t get too much push back about the type of gift on a day like Father’s Day. In fact, you’ll probably get none. Just give him his day.

Most of us real fathers, not the sperm donors, are offended when we see cards congratulating mothers on being “fathers” to their kids. Facebook and Instagram will provide millions of shout-outs to the women taking on the male role. We are offended because it continues to minimize an important role in life. God designed fathers for a reason and that reason has been manipulated, altered, and scrambled to an unrecognizable definition. It is common place in many communities that the father barely has a reason for existence although people’s mouths say otherwise. Don’t pretend the father has an important role to the family then conflict it by giving accolades to the single mother. We have to nip this in the bud if we want healthy communities and our children to respect and desire a male role model in their lives.

If my rant is offensive so be it. Not as a disrespect, but as a measure to gain respect. I am a single father who wants my voice to be heard. I desire men all over our country to stand together and demand the respect as a father – through all of our successes and misfires. If we stand before you, our female counterparts, and work in unison, there is nothing we can’t do together. We all stand in agreement with this ideology. Therefore, do me a favor and kindly give us our 15 minutes of glory alone. We are simple creatures that need to feel important every once in a while.

Daddy Dan & the Fathers of the World