Raising Kids Right in Today’s World

I had another post planned for today, but it had to be bumped, because something is on my mind. I work up this morning to hear of yet ANOTHER school shooting, this time in Maryland, and luckily there do not seem to be any deaths. I then was checking my Facebook and a friend posted an article about a teen suicide, and what caused it. Needless to say, there is a lot of crazy things going on this this world and the more I think about it, raising kids today is so much different than when I was a kid and more so, when my parents were kids.

When I was young, we knew which house all of our friends were hanging out at because there was a pile of bikes on the front lawn. Today, kids can check their social media and instantly know who is where and what is going on. As I got older, I looked forward to learning to drive a car. By the time my kids are old enough to “drive,” chances are all cars will be self driving and it will be skill they do not have to learn. Obviously, there are thousands of examples of this, but the point is, technology is changing our lives.

The school shootings are crazy, because with social media, we are learning about these sooner and rumors spread just as quickly, which means of all the information we are gathering, not all of it is 100% accurate. With so many “Celebrities” that made their name on Facebook and Instagram, people see the idea of going viral and their shot at fame, by doing something through these mediums. Do not get me wrong, I have a Facebook and an Instagram and love the idea of Social Media and technology, but I think it can also be dangerous.

The danger can be seen in the article posted above, about a seemingly happy 16 year old, that felt constant pressure from everyone to succeed. With the likes of Social Media, people are sharing their accomplishments or making it seem they are doing something great (in an effort to get likes), which can make the rest of us feel depressed and left out: and this is an actual problem!! When I was in High School, I was actually suspended from school for changing grades in a teacher’s book. I was the TA for a teacher who was also my English teacher. I had a few friends that asked me to help them out with a few grades and I noticed quickly how easy it was and how perfect my system was. I actually started to change some of my grades as well… this worked till someone informed the teacher and my system crumbled. However, the reason for this was simply that I felt the pressure to do better. I was an all-star swimmer and was set to get into college on my talents alone. But because I was swimming so much, my grades slipped, and despite my swimming achievements, I felt like a failure to my parents and coaches and some of my friends who maintained 4.0+ GPA’s.

As I have stated in the title of this post as well as (more or less nonsensically) within the text of this article, the idea of how to raise our kids today has become very difficult. I have 2 kids who are 3 and 5, and the truth is, I don’t know what the future holds. Technology moves so fast, that what we see in cell phones and tables now, will be different in 10 years. How we commute in our vehicles will be different when our kids are of age. The days of warning kids simply about a stranger with candy are beyond us. Now we have to ALSO be cautious of people online, what we share, who can see our pages, and the hardest part: preparing our children for the unknown. We do not know where technology is headed and how our kids will use it. Teens now didn’t have parents who grew up on Instagram and Facebook, so they were not necessarily warned ahead of time of the dangers of viral posts and not believing everything you see. Parents now do not understand the pressures our children are facing, that differ from the pressures we faced. When I was growing up, schools were safe. I was in High School when Columbine happened and even then, it felt safe… we didn’t think this would be happening so much more often.

For our children, there is hope that we do something about guns (banning or becoming much stricter is ideal). And there is hope that us as parents can continue to stay in the know on the new trends and the dangers they pose to our children, whether we can see them or not. For me, the best way to raise our children is for them to be inclusive of others. To be nice and positive and to follow the golden rule. I want my children to feel comfortable coming to me with any issues or what they feel is a problem. As parents we can all do better and for us to move forward as a society, we have to.

This article is a bit all over the place as I had to get things off of my chest, but I would love to hear your thoughts below. What do you agree or disagree with me about? What are you doing to help raise your kids right?

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Work, Fundraiser Chocolate and a Social Experiment

The title of this article may be a little confusing, and in reality, it is, as those things do not usually go together. However, last week, I made it happen.

My wife is of Portuguese decent and her and my kids belong to a local Portuguese organization that every year holds a substantial conference. As a part of this, they usually have various fundraisers throughout the year to raise money and support what they do.  This year was no different, and one of the fundraisers was selling chocolate (‘World’s Finest Chocolate’ to be exact.). I am sure everyone is familiar with this big box of assorted chocolate that contains 60 bars that you are to sell for $1 each. And though we support this cause, we dislike selling chocolate or doing fundraisers, for things that are not well known or affect a lot of people (such as a fundraiser to fight Cancer or another disease). Because of this, we planned to just buy the whole box for $60 and give the chocolate away.

This is where I came up with a great idea. I work for a fairly large company that has kitchens on every floor stocked with free food and drinks. And although we have these stocked kitchens, anytime someone comes in with additional goodies, they disappear in seconds. So I decided to leave the box out, with 1 dollar on top, to see if people will pay for a bar, steal a bar or just ignore the box. On the 2nd day, I would put the box out again without the seeded dollar and on the last day, I would put out a sign asking people to take it all.

I have high hopes for humanity, however, I will be honest when I say I expected all of the chocolate to be gone the first day and less than 50% of the money. I was very wrong. After the first day, in which I seeded the box with $1, there were a total of 13 bars missing and I had $10. So only a few people decided to take a bar without leaving a dollar. I should note that there was no sign informing people to leave a dollar. Just that this is widely known fundraiser chocolate and there was money left on top.

The second day, I made the mistake of leaving the chocolate int he SAME kitchen. People saw the box, with no money on it, however, if they remembered it from the day before, then they may feel inclined to leave money again. And that is just what happened… sort of. At the end of the day, only 4 bars were removed from the box, yet another $2 was left. Had I left the box in another kitchen, then we could have potentially seen a different outcome.

At the end of the 2nd day, I put a note out on the box informing people the chocolate had all been paid for and it was now “Free” and asked them to help themselves. When I showed up on the 3rd morning, the box had 1 bar left. People had swarmed the now obviously free chocolate and taken what they could (which proved my initial point, that people wanted free items.

Obviously, this experiment was not perfect. I did not have a control group. I was not watching over the box, so I have no idea if someone perhaps left 1 dollar and then took multiple bars. I also did not have a way to know what people were thinking in regards to what was left. If I were to do this again, I would try a few things, such as using multiple kitchens with different signs ($1, Free, or no sign at all), as well as different options of watching what went on, as well as a different location (perhaps at my desk) or perhaps a note or some information on what the money was for.

This was by no means a perfect experiment, however, for me it was fun and interesting. I enjoy trying to understand people and their thought process. Do you enjoy little experiments such as this? Share your experiments below, or perhaps what you would have changed in mine!

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New Year, New Me and New Goals

Here we are on January 19th, and I am just getting around to my first post of the year. I am sure by now all the real bloggers have shared their New Year posts, listing out all of their goals and resolutions for the year. And just as I predicted in one of my very first blog posts, I have already fallen off the wagon a bit and have been slow to post. The truth is, things are going much better in my life and I have not felt the need to “release” as much. I have noticed that the happier I am, the less time I spend on my computer or phone, the less time I spend on Social Media and in turn, the less time I seem to have to write here. Not that unhappiness causes me to do any of those things, I just seem to… seem to… I dunno, just seem to be more content in the moment.

However, just because things are going well in my life, doesn’t mean I can just sit back and relax and let it ride. No, I still have SO MUCH WORK to do (on myself). And I am not one that likes to set New Years Resolutions, so I do not. What I DO like to do is examine my life and take a look at what has been working for me and what is not and then focus on improving myself in those areas.

I know that at the beginning of 2017, my marriage was on the rocks and by the end of the year things were going really well. I want to continue working with my fe to improve our communication and our relationship.

I do enjoy writing these blog posts sometimes, so I hope to write more. I am not going to set a limit of “X posts” per week, but instead hope to share my life and journey with you. I am reading a new book now I will share with you shortly, as well as another “letter to myself.” I hope to also provide updates of what I am learning in therapy and how my therapist is helping me be a better person.

With that, I plan to continue going to therapy and learning more about myself and doing what I can to improve myself as a person, a husband and a father.

Lastly, I want to continue my journey to a new career. I took a few prerequisite classes this last year to prepare for school, but I have decided to push starting school back one more year. I am not afraid and it is not that I am uncertain. On the contrary, as every day goes by I want that career more and more (I am leaning heavily towards a Sports Psychologist or Family Therapist), but timing is a fickle bitch. Over the holidays and this last week we discovered mold in our house (that our insurance will not cover) and I got into a car accident (I am fine) which will raise my insurance premiums. My wife and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica (our 10 year anniversary is this year and after our last year, we simply deserve it) and there is a lot of stuff we want/need to do to our house. SO by putting school off, we can make sure that not only are we more in a financially stable place, but it gives us a bit more time to work on our marriage and really strengthen it to where it belongs.

I am looking forward to 2018 and sharing my journey and hopefully inspiring you along the way. Please share some of your goals for 2018 and life moving forward, as I would love to hear them!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Letter to Myself: 14 Years Old

Not too long ago, I wrote an article here that contained a letter to a younger version of myself. The writing of it was quite therapeutic and in that moment I decided I was going to do this a couple times, targeting various ages and turning points in my life. The first post in this series was when I was 8 years old. I had just moved to California, leaving a lot of my family and close friends behind. In the year I moved to California I went to 2 different schools and lived in 2 houses, forcing myself to make new friends all around, a few of which I am still friend with today.

Deciding on the next age range to write about was not easy, as the next 5 years of my life were difficult, as they are for anyone. I made it through Elementary school with headgear and neck-gear, braces and retainers. I then got into Middle School, had my Bar Mitzvah and overall just had a hard time fitting in. Because of this, I decided to write to my 14 year old self. One year removed from my Bar Mitzvah and the end of my Middle School life in 8th grade and the start of High School and a new direction that would change my life.

Hello 14 year old me,

Life has been interesting these last few years, hasn’t it? As I write to you from your future, I know how difficult things were for you. To say you went through an awkward phase would be selling it short. But, who isn’t going through an awkward phase right now? You started off with a big growth spurt, taller than all of your friends, but then it seemed everyone else went through puberty before you… but don’t worry, you will get there.

Now that you are 14, life is really going to change for you. 8th grade will be fun. You will rule the school and be on top. You will also be on the basketball team, and although you will not play much, the coach will reward you for your heart and effort. Never lose that (seriously). If I could give you any advice, I would really say to pay attention to your school work, especially on the foreign languages. I know its not easy, but you will truly appreciate being able to speak another language later in life.

Aside from working hard in school, keep a good head on your shoulder. Sure this year you will be the king of the school in 8th grade, but next year it is off to high school where you will be the bottom of the barrel. High School will be an interesting time for you as you will hang out with the wrong crowd. Not that you get into trouble, but you actually think you are cooler than you actually are, and the people you try to hang out with, will often wonder why you are with them. You will give up all sports this year and focus primarily on swimming, which will be a huge decision. But these other swimmers are your friends and where you should be spending your time. They are all great students and they are your true friends. High School will be much better and enjoyable if you know your friends and your place from the start.

Continue to work hard, both in school and in the pool. You do not know it yet, but you are starting to set a lot in motion for your life. Your work ethic and attention to detail starts now, otherwise you will be working double time for the rest of your life. College will be easier if you learn more in High School. Have a little fun, too while you are at it. But school needs to come first, and then swimming. Know who your friends are and try to enjoy yourself. Understand what you want out of life, not what others want from you. This will go a long way to making you happier.

Talk you you again in a few years,
34 year old me (you)

Understanding who you are is a part of growing up, and if we had all only listened to our parents at that age and believed them, life would be so much easier. Obviously, I probably wouldnt have changed much, considering I am where I am in life thanks to all of this. However, if I knew then what I know now, and could still end up with my current situations, I think that would be the perfect situation, don’t you?

What would you say to yourself if you could go back to that age and have a conversation, or write a letter. As I started off this post saying, thinking about this is quite therapeutic and it allows me to explore feelings I had then and look back on how that all helped to shape me. I encourage you to do the same!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Keeping Busy and Growing a Mustache

I know, I know, it has been a long time (again) since I last posted. I really am not good at this… haha… but hey, I warned you!

If you have actually been wondering where I have been, the truth is, life has just been busy. Work has been fairly busy as usual and the kids have also kept me busy. School has been a lot of fun but it has also been quite busy. I am holding around 100% in BOTH of my classes and actually have a final in my Personality Psych class this week. Because of the finals and classes, lots of studying is being done as well.

Outside of work, school and my kids, I truly do not have a legitimate excuse for not updating this, other than a touch of writers block, a touch of laziness and a whole lot of mustache growing. Yes, you read that correct, I am working on my MOVEMBER Mustache.

My family is not blessed with facial hair growing genes, so unfortunately, my mustache is sort of ‘pervy’ looking, but it draws attention and I guess that is the whole point of Movember. if you are not familiar with Movember, for the month of November, Men grow their mustaches to help raise awareness for Men’s Health issues such as Prostate and Testicular cancer. I myself lost an uncle to Prostate cancer a few years back and continue to fight on his behalf.

I normally do not like to go around and ask for money, however this cause is VERY dear to my heart and I would not be growing this ridiculous looking mustache if I truly did not believe.

I am not asking for much, I would honestly be happy if all you were able to donate was $5. Every little bit helps and I want to stand up and fight for all the men in our lives.

Please feel free to share your stories below or share my link with anyone you know.

Yesterday’s Therapy and Knowing My Path

At this point, it is no secret that I see a therapist. I have shared this before and I am not ashamed. I started seeing her at the end of last year to help me with some personal characteristics, my anxiety and anger as well as help me through some difficult times. Although things are going much better in my life I still try to see her weekly, to help with my anxiety and help keep me focused on how to get more out of my life. Yesterday was an exceptional day.

Lately things have been going really well in my life, but occasionally things come up that are hard to not focus on and anxiety can skyrocket. There was something I had had on my mind lately I was not too sure how to approach it. in my mind, it was a big deal and a huge hurdle. I was not too sure how to get past it and I needed help. My therapist didn’t even bat an eye. She helped me see this from a different point of view and took all of the “urgency” out of the problem. In reality, it was not a problem at all, and just something I had built up in my head. It is so refreshing to be able to speak to someone who helps me through this and teaches me how to view things in life differently. it truly is a game changer.

After my therapist and myself had talked about my life, marriage, work, and kids, the session was pretty much over. However, we went a little long, as we got caught up in conversation. She asked me about school and how it was going and I shared how exciting I was finding it. I have been doing really well in both of my classes and have been finding the content interesting. The hard part of doing my classes online, is that I do not get to engage in conversation as often with people about the content, but with her I could! We talked a few of the topics I had enjoyed and I was just finding it so interesting, especially when she shared info about her experiences working with people in such situations.  Through this conversation, I felt more at ease with my decision to go back to school and go after this different career. I not only enjoyed my conversation, I loved it. I loved the topic and hearing her discuss how she has worked with people. I wish I had done this earlier in life… but its never too late to go after what you want!

What value do you get out of therapy? I would love to hear some stories from others and what value you see, so if you would like, please share below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Letter to Myself: 8 Years Old

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post asking if your 10 year old self would be happy. I got a lot of great feedback from that post and ever since I have written it, it has had me thinking about. Thinking about my life, where I was as a 10 year old and how my views on life has changed. Because of that post, I have been inspired to start a new series of articles based on letters to younger versions of myself. My goal is to choose 3-4 ages when I went through something crucial and it was a big life moment. I want to provide words of advice to myself; ideas that would improve my life if I was able to do it all again. I should preface this with I love my life (for the most part) and things are going well. But if I could have everything I have now, which a few minor tweaks to improve upon, what would those be?

Hey 8 year old me,

How is it going? You hanging in there alright? Life has been pretty rough this last year hasn’t it? Last year you moved from Tuscon, where all of your cousins lived (including your best friend/cousin) and everything you have ever known, for a small suburb outside of San Francisco. Your family rented a house last year and you finished off your 1st grade year at a new school. You are now in 2nd grade and yet again, at a new school. You have also recently gone to the orthodontist for your major overbite and now walk around with headgear…. its been rough.

I know it is cliche, but guess what: things are gonna get better. Your best friend across the street will one day be in your wedding. The house you live in now, your parents will not sell for another 20 years! You will not only grow up in this town, but you are going to thrive… for the most part.

Kid, its not a secret that you are a bit odd and awkward, but you know what, that is ok. It is a part of who you are and nobody should ever change that about you. I hope you understand that the way you are is not a problem. You have great character and you are a funny kid. Don’t worry about anyone else and what they say or think. be you. Do you. Know who your friends are, and do not worry about being the “cool” kid or the “popular” kid. Those guys do not really want to be your friend, and that is ok. This will be an ongoing lesson for you in life, but trust me: be yourself.

Anyway, continue to learn, and have fun in life: it goes way too fast. I will talk to you again in about 5 years.

Best, 33 year old you.

 

I know it is a little cheesy and other people have done this as well, but I have to admit, it is a bit liberating to write a letter to a younger version of myself. To be honest, I cannot wait to write another one!

In the comments below, feel free to share something you would tell an 8 year old version of yourself. Or write your own blog post and be sure to link to it below, and I will be sure to check it out!!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Taking My Daughter to School

This post will not be long, but it is something I wanted to share/brag about:

Today I dropped my daughter off at school. it was not big, there was no special occasion. But because of the hours of her school and the time I go to work, my wife usually just drops her off. However today I needed to drop her off, and for whatever reason it was fun. She was excited to she me her classroom and have me drop her off. She didnt cry, but she was sure to give me a hug, kiss and high five (her trifecta of good-byes) before I left. I even snuck in a little “I Love you” in sign language which she happily returned.

My kids are amazing, and for such a “small” thing to do, it brought me a lot of joy and happiness. Sometimes you have to really enjoy the small things in life to truly enjoy life as a whole.

Self Improvement: Managing My Anger

Hopefully by now, you are starting to learn a little about me. I am conscientiously trying to improve myself whether it is through reading, working out, or identifying some of my “flaws” and addressing them head on (as can be seen in my posts about relinquishing control or not being so argumentative. My life these days is a constant battle of managing my daily duties of being a husband, a father, a homeowner, a working man and a student, while also trying to better myself (and keep my sanity).

My little “Self Improvement” series has been pretty good for me thus far as I feel I am much more cognizant of some of my issues, and by sharing them, I keep it at the front of my head that it is something I must work on. This week, I am focusing on something I have been dealing with for a long time, and where it has been better lately, I feel it still has a long way to go. This post, is in regards to my anger.

Now, I am not the most angry person you have ever met. Hell, most would never even use that as a word to describe me. For me, it may not be so much about anger, as it is about having a short fuse and getting frustrated too easily. In my past posts I have discussed issues with giving up control of situations as well as always having to be right. And the funny thing is, not only were a lot of qualities overlapping between those two, but this topic overlaps with them as well. Far too often I feel myself getting angry over such little things that make no difference in my day to day life. Perhaps it has to do with a situation I do not have control over. Or perhaps it has to do with me having to have my way… but whatever it is, far too often I feel myself getting more agitated over time and end up yelling. Sometimes at my wife, other times at my kids. What I know for sure, is I have to be better.

What I have notices is that as life gets busier and I get more stressed, I lose my anger much more frequently (don’t we all?). Last year I noticed this was really getting out of hand and until other events happened, I was in the process of looking into some sort of anger management classes.  Instead, I now see a therapist once a week to discuss a number of things. However one topic we touch on frequently is my anger and why I continue to lose my anger. But more importantly, we discuss how to manage my anger when it does come up.

As I have discussed previously, meditation as a part of my daily routine is extremely helpful in this. it allows me to realize when I am getting angry and to calm my mind. Having an outlet for my anger and aggression is helpful too so I try to get to the gym at least 4 times a week. However in the moment of feeling anger, if possible, I try to take a walk and cool down. If I am unable to do that, the best I can offer myself right now is trying to catch myself and breathe before I act.

What are some of your favorite tips for dealing with anger? Please share below some of your favorite relaxation techniques or ways to deal with anger and frustration when it arises.

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School is Underway and My Schedule is Crazy!

I am finishing up my 2nd week of school and I have to say, life has gotten CRAZY! The first week of school, I was only attending one class (and by attending it is all online). This was a good entry for me as I was working on getting all of my classwork done while I also kept up with my job, and also making time for my kids at home. For this first week, I was not able to attend the gym as I still was not too sure how to balance my life.

This week, I unfortunately received an email from my second professor that my other class, Abnormal Psychology, had already started and I missed my first assignment. How could this be? I have been logging in weekly to check for updates as well as monitoring my email and I saw nothing… oh well. I was not dropped and I missed my first assignment (which was an introduction of myself) and missed out on 10 points. I should have been better about checking or perhaps sent out a n email to inquire when the class actually began. I have already started the homework for this week, and I was not dropped, so I should be fine. This was in line with the rest of my week however, as it was just crazy and hectic.

Wanting to start getting a better routine and schedule together, I opted to start going back to the gym this week as well, as I needed an outlet for stress release. This means either my mornings or late evenings are spent at the gym, the core of my day is at the office, and then at night I come home to spend time with my kids, put them to bed and then either do homework or go to the gym (if I had not gone in the morning). This doesn’t include time for me to go to therapy, chiropractor, or time for leisurely activities such as reading or watching some TV to relax, or time to deal with personal issues. As class picks up, I am sure I will have some weeks where I am overloaded and extremely busy and my anxiety soars through the roof. However, I am determined to get myself into a better routine and it will make it all easier. I just have to keep reminding myself why I am doing this 🙂 !

What are some of your methods when you dont feel you have time to breathe? Share your tips and tricks below, or let me know how crazy your schedule is!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.