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

Blog Post #3, Can Love Triumph over Evil? November 17, 2015

I’ve been thinking for the past few days…what do I blog about following this horrible tragedy in Paris? We all have been subjected to 24/7 news coverage and commentary about the 129 people murdered and the over 350 injured, many of those seriously. During my down time I have found it difficult to think about much else. Solidarity-Paris

In addition to the 129 people killed in Paris, 352 were injured, at least 99 seriously.
– CNN, November 16, 2015                                                                                                           
I don’t want this post to come off like a political statement at all – in fact, I really hope it won’t. Of course I have my political opinions – who doesn’t. But this is more about what I feel in my heart and less about what I think intellectually. Frankly, when I hear the rhetoric from politicians on both sides of the aisle it seems to me that they all have puffed up egos and care more about posturing then working together.

What does bother me most – no, what actually breaks my heart, is the idea that those refugees who are innocent and seek to flee the danger in Syria would be punished because of the actions of these extremist monsters. That is exactly what the terrorists want – to rock our world and cause an over-reaction. They also want to perpetuate what I don’t think we should be doing in the first place – meddling in these hot beds in the middle east. Attack them where they are so that they don’t attack us on our homeland? I just don’t buy it. I imagine that there is a never-ending supply of these radical extremists. There is no “head of the snake” to cut off here. If you believe our military experts, there are splinter cells throughout the middle east recruiting new, young terrorists who have nothing to lose.

Candle-memorial
I don’t have the answers. I only know what I don’t buy. I don’t buy unjustified hate and prejudice. I don’t buy painting all Syrians with a broad brush. I don’t buy “declaring war” against Islamic State. I think the Syrian problem should be a middle east problem where the powers there should step up and do more. Where is Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in all of this? Why does the west have to play the lead role in the region? I like to believe in one world where everyone deserves safety and peace. I realize that it may be impossible to have our cake and eat it too. But I also believe also there is a point at which we just need to take a step back and rethink our entire strategy in the middle east.

Oh, and also, I pray that love will somehow overcome evil and triumph in the end.

Boy-Memorial

Blog Post #2, Kids and Young People, November 10, 2015

This has been an interesting year. We are now “empty-nesters”, yet I’m told that “they come back.” So far, no boomerangs, only periodic visits, which are nice. However, having an empty nest has been an adjustment and take some getting used to. Trust me, I’m not complaining! One thing I miss: knowing where the kids are and what they’re up to. Something I don’t miss: wondering what time they’ll be home!

Selfie at Pitt Homecoming 2015

Selfie at Pitt Homecoming 2015

Another thing I don’t miss: getting harassed incessantly by the kids for my social media posts. As a contrast to that, it was very, very cool recently when one of my boys changed his Facebook profile to a pic of the two of us and he even tagged me. This, to me, indicates that when you do the best you can as a parent, sometimes the results are just, well, like I said, very cool.

One of the reasons I chose the career and field I am in today is my deep passion for helping kids and young people. Every day I have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids and families that need (and deserve) a little extra help. Now that my impact in the lives of my own kids as evolved into something different but still important, my job afford me the opportunity to still help kids at a point in their lives where they still have a chance to achieve their full potential. It’s a blessing that I don’t take for granted.

I’ve also been give then opportunity to help many young people, up and coming professionals, through my network. Recently I met with two amazing young women, Nicole and Melinda, that are giving of themselves and their time, while they are full-time university students, helping people in a very low socioeconomic community. In their free time, and they don’t have much of that as physical therapy majors, they serve on a working student board for the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic at Widener University. These amazing young people commit their time to an initiative that is “a student-led clinic that provides [primarily Pro Bono] compassionate physical therapy to the uninsured and under-insured residents of Chester, PA.” This is a nonprofit initiative that allows PT students to give back to the community while gaining valuable, real-world work experience in their professional field. I am amazed by the young people like this when I meet them and am also humbled that they seek my guidance and assistance.

My Three Sons

My Three Sons

So I’ll close with this – in a world that seems to present us with more bad news every day, locally, nationally and internationally, it is the young, up and coming generations that provide me with hope. It inspires and motivates me to do all that I can to help and empower kids and young people to achieve their full potential. And I am just so proud of the 3 boys that we have raised that I am going to shamelessly flaunt them here with one of my favorite, recent pics. Enjoy!