Where Can We Feel Safe?

How sad …

Where can we feel safe today? In our schools? The movie theatre? A military base? A concert hall? A night club?

In what other country are mass shootings, or any other mass killings, happening so frequently?  Where else do people say to each other “did you hear the news about the latest mass shooting?”

In what other country can practically anyone legally purchase a gun, much less a military-style assault rifle?  In what other country are politicians so divided along partisan lines over issues of gun control versus our “second amendment rights?”

I am not anti-gun or anti-second amendment rights.  But I am anti-senseless killing. I am anti-bullheaded, logic-bending, politically-motivated defending of gun rights policies and gun control laws that exacerbate the problem of these senseless, insane and cowardly acts of murder targeting innocent people. 

I don’t have the answers but I simply wonder HOW and WHEN will the killing end? 

Turning a Corner to the Next Phase, Blog Post #8

Turn Here…

In my last post I wrote about making changes in our lives and how a pendulum swings from one side to the other until it eventually finds equilibrium – a metaphor for how things go in life situations sometimes.

My wife and I find ourselves at a transitional point in our lives entering a new, sometimes scary but mostly exciting phase. Having been “empty nesters” for almost a year, with our last kid in college now, we’ve been thinking about what we want life ahead to look like and things are starting to happen.  The biggest change is downsizing. We are selling the house we’ve lived in with our kids for the last 8 years and buying a much smaller house nearby. A little history. We first met in 2005, got married and blended two single-parent families in 2006. For the first two years of our lives together we lived in my wife’s small, 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. We ended up putting an addition on the house with a master bathroom, in order to make it work when the three boys were with us, which was every other weekend and one or two nights during the week.  In 2008 that house inevitably became too small for us because the kids were growing up and getting bigger and the house just gradually seemed smaller and smaller. We made a move to a nearby 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath house. To fill and outfit this new and bigger house, of course we had to buy more furniture. We fixed up the backyard to have two separate entertaining areas. That meant we needed furniture out there too. We bought exercise equipment for the inside to have our own mini-gym at home. Because we had a much larger driveway and front walk, eventually I needed a snowblower. You get the idea – a period of building and acquiring. 

So here we are, about two months away from back-to-back settlements, selling our big, 5 bedroom house in exchange for a small and quaint 2 bedroom house with virtually no yard and no driveway or walkway to remove snow from. Yup we have a lot of stuff to get rid of – a lot! But this post isn’t really about acquiring and purging. It’s more about how it feels to be turning this corner in the direction of the next phase in our lives. Frankly, it’s a mixed bag of feelings. I feel a little sad about leaving this house where so many fun (and difficult) things happened – basketball in the driveway, bonfires and graduation parties in the back yard, movie and pizza nights, struggling alongside the kids with their massive amounts of homework, SAT test preparation, etc.  Because I lost my job during the recession in 2008, I had to work with the bank to not lose this house. I feel pride in accomplishing that, so leaving here makes me feel a sense of real loss for something I fought so hard to keep. I do, however, also feel excited to move into a home better suited to what life looks like today and tomorrow. And, if I’m being really honest, I feel a little odd about being in this stage of life – 55 years-old focusing on both my career and retirement planning all at the same time while moving into a house designed mostly for just the two of us, not the five of us.

Selling and buying homes this time around has not been easy. Tons of details, inspections and remediation, appraisals and mortgage applications, long nights and frustrating days. I’ve described it to some of my friends as a roller coaster ride. The highs have been really high and the lows have been pretty low. I’m ready for the end of the ride and for things to just settle down some. The good news is I think I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel!  

Despite this range of emotions, I think I am now ready to turn the corner and see what the road ahead looks like for the next phase of our journey.  I look forward to seeing some of you along the way.

Patterns & Pendulums – Post #7, April 3, 2016

When I started blogging in November of last year, my goal, with the best of all intentions, was to blog weekly.  Well, someone said some road was “paved with good intentions.” I like to think I am not on that road! 200434789-001I’ve learned, without too much judgement, that there are patterns in life, and that the pendulum swings all the way one direction, then most of the back to the other direction, and eventually, it finds something like equilibrium. I was doing great in November and December, and then…it swung the other way.Here we are, in the beginning of April, finding, I hope, some equilibrium.

This got me thinking about patterns. A lot of people have New Year’s resolutions.  I’ve never been a big fan thinking that they are generally doomed to be broken. I don’t fault anyone from having them – they’re just not for me. I do, from time to time, pick pivotal points in time to make changes.

A change might be prompted by an interesting solution I learn about that seems perfect for some challenge I’ve been confronting. Or, it could be a result of experiencing enough “pain” in a situation that causes me to realize, a change is in order. It could be as simple as someone I respect suggesting to me “Have you ever thought of trying something different?”

Patterns can be very effective in some areas of my life, while “disruption” (yes, I know it’s a buzzword these days, especially as a management style, and apparently in politics now too) also has it’s place in other areas. I’ve come to learn that I should not get too comfortable to remain open to suggestions, new ideas, and to switching things up from time to time.  My life journey has shown me that change can be difficult, yet necessary and transformational.

I don’t want to get too deep so I’ll wrap it up with this. I’ll leave it for you to consider how your patterns look and what pendulums are swinging in your life. Are any changes in your life’s patterns in order? Feel free to share comments – I really enjoy others’ perspectives.

Plus, it’s getting late.

Blog Post #6, December 22, 2015 – Family Time Changes

I thought quite a bit about what the focus of my next blog post would be. It’s near the end of 2015 – would I write about the highlights of this year? The tragedies? Who the heroes were? What New Years resloutions are you making? Nah, I don’t believe in making resolutions at New Years and all of the other topics are covered by so many other people and all of the major networks. Politcs and the presidential primaries? Ugggh, no (!), I’m tiring of debates and the sensationalist political grandstanding.

I decided, instead, I would write about how family time changes when the kids are grown and have become young adults. First, some things have changed between me and my wife.  We were out to dinner recently and she remarked that our conversations are different now. No longer were we talking about the kids, their activities, what sports events or other obligations we had coming up that were kid-related. We spoke about other things that interested us, like current events, our work, trips we want to make and other things we want to do togeher.  Sure, we spoke about the kids some, but they didn’t dominate our conversations like they had in the past. 

How has time changed with the kids – those young adults I mentioned? Well, back in October I went out to Pittsburgh to hang out with the two older boys. It was Homecoming weekend at PITT. They graciously agreed to hang out with Dad so off I went. My oldest went back to reconnect with his college buddies now that he is an alumni. I knew I wouldn’t have much time with him but that was fine, the time we had together was really nice. Jesse, the middle of the three boys, was willing to spend much more time with me. That was cool. I’m including a pic of the two of us at the Homecoming game. We even tailgated before the game with some of his friends and their parents. It was an epic tailgate. These people are real pros!

PITT Homecoming 2015 – Go Panthers!

Tonight Jesse and I hung out again. This time, he’s home for Winter break and we went out for dinner together and some holiday shopping. We spoke about many interesting things that we haven’t discussed that much in the past. For one, we did not talk about the Philadelphia Eagles, and for good reason! We did talk about his high school football and what some of his old teammates are up to. Coincidentally we then ran into one of his former coaches at the restaurant. We spoke about politics, immigration, terrorism, (yes, some of those things I said above that I would not choose as my blog topic) fashion, and other “grown up” topics. It was different, and nice. 

Today I think I see my kids in a new light… as adults. Well, as young men, anyway. I remember them fondly as kids, and all of the good times from back in those days.  But I cherish the time with them today. It’s different, but different is OK. I guess I’m different now too. 
Whatever you celebrate, I wish you and your family happy holidays and all the best in 2016! God bless.

Blog post #5, December 7, 2015 – What’s Next?

“I would certainly implement that…absolutely” referring to requiring all Muslims in America to register in a national database.

“Yes, I will close mosques if bad things happen.”

“You’re gonna have more World Trade Centers. It’s gonna get worse and worse, folks.”

And in Trump’s press release today: (New York, NY) December 7th, 2015, — Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. 

And the scariest part to me – that so many people support this hateful, fearful rhetoric.

Some interesting facts pulled from PBS and the Pew Research Center.

From PBS Frontline FAQ’s

Q – How many Muslims are there in the United States? Where are they from?

A – Estimates range that between five to 12 million Muslims live in the United States. About one-third of them are African-Americans. Another third are originally from the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The last third include Arab immigrants, Latinos, other European and Caucasian Muslims, and converts to Islam. The first Muslims to come to the Americas were brought as slaves. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/muslims/etc/faqs.html)

From the Pew Research Center Fact Tank:

Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, has brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam.

There were 1.6 billion Muslims in the world as of 2010 – roughly 23% of the global population – according to a Pew Research Center estimate. But while Islam is currently the world’s second-largest religion (after Christianity), it is the fastest-growing major religion. Indeed, if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century.(http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/12/07/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/)

So, I ask this, purely to put some perspective around these most recent comments from Trump: Regardless of how upset and scared we are, do we not owe it to ourselves to learn more about Islam and what the majority of peaceful Muslims believe? Can we really afford to stand by idly while Trump gives ISIS and other fundamentalist sympathizers even more reason to hate and attack us? Is isolationism and hate-mongering really the answer? How is registering all Muslims in this country different from registering all Jews in Nazi Germany?

What happened to “land of the free and home of the brave”? Is it really possible that so many of us have forgotten what really “makes America great”?


Blog Post #4, Intersections. November 27, 2015

Have you ever come to those points in your life that I refer to as “intersections”?  I really believe that we all travel many roads in our lifeROAD-SIGNS journeys. Sometimes we’re on the super highways, other times we’re traveling two-lane roads, and sometimes we even find ourselves on small, scary, back alleys. Sometimes we make turns in good directions, and other times we make wrong turns. Sometimes we even hit a dead-end. What matters is that we keep on traveling.

Twenty years ago, in December of 1995, I arrived at a very important intersection. I was given the opportunity to make a choice. I chose to make a turn at this intersection that took me in a very different direction – one that was much better than the direction I had been headed in. Without going in to detail, this was a turn that truly changed my life in unimaginable ways. This change led to things that were to be beyond my wildest dreams.

Ten years later I met someone who quickly became my best friend, my partner, my soul mate – and my wife. It was another intersection in the journey of my life, and another turn in a good direction.

In 2011 I found myself at another intersection. This one was a professional intersection, one required a lot of introspection, exploration, and guidance from trusted advisers. It wouldn’t be an easy decision to make – to decide which way to turn. It would also require faith. I then made what I think of as a hard left turn at this intersection. I went down a path, again, that looked very different from the one I had previously been traveling. Long story short, it was a very good decision to take the turn down this new path, and one that I don’t regret at all. Was it scary? Yes, it really was. But I had good people in my corner, and, as it turns out, all around me. Many people who encouraged me and supported me. I’ve learned that from fear and pain come growth. And I’ve also learned that change doesn’t have to be scary. It’s all part of they journey.  I hope you enjoy your journey and make the most of it. I also hope that our paths cross during our journeys.

Heritage Journey