THIS WEEK ON THE GRATEFUL DAD RADIO HOUR, Monday, May 20, 2013, 1-2:00 p.m., Mountain Time on www.castlerockradio.com my Guest is The Dating Dad, Eric Elkins
Have a look at my first-ever message via video, and tune in the show tomorrow.
As a dedicated grateful dad, I’ve spent more than 14 years making my kid my top priority, and taking my duties very seriously. I’ve rearranged my work, opted out of getaways with the guys, made sacrifices and made it my mission to be around, available, and active in every aspect of son’s life. I’ve driven him to school – even when it was just as easy for his mom to do so – and been there at dismissal as well. I’ve served lunches in the cafeteria, observing my kid with his friends – even after he stopped letting me sit with them during lunch period.
I’ve been on-duty so long, I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be off. And at this moment, as he and 25 classmates and teachers are winging their way to the southeast, I am sensing a feeling of freedom, mixed with excitement, anticipation, and longing. I also have a sense of relief, and of pride in both my son – as he becomes more independent – and my wife and I as we transition to a new role in his life and ours.
Those same feelings – freedom, longing, relief, and pride – are among the many mixed emotions I’ve experienced since my father died 10 weeks ago. To be sure, caring for him became a burden – handling his finances and other affairs, attending care meetings, representing his interests with healthcare professionals, and money managers, along with his old friends who contacted me about my dad’s whereabouts and well-being. I spent over four years being on-duty for my dad. And this double duty was difficult for me from the get-go. Looking back on it with the benefit of a little time, I’m proud of the job I did for him, and it meant a lot to me to be there, on-duty through it all.
With my dad now gone, and my son away for an extended stay, I am aware of the differences and the possibilities, the freedom and the unfamiliarity that comes with being truly, for the most part, off-duty. Yes, I have work to do – but that’s been true forever. And just so you know, my wife and I leave later in the week for a getaway to the west coast. We’ll have our cell-phones, our tablet and our computers, never out of reach if duty calls, yet still planning to enjoy our time of freedom.
I’m easing in to this new and different way to be a father and son, a partner and a professional, never fully off-duty, yet dancing in the moment just a bit more, now that the tethers have been loosened with age and rites of passage.
…and that’s the full-circle fatherhood report for this week.
Gratitude is groovy! And gratitude is good for you. “Gratitude is literally one of the few things that can measurably change people’s lives,” writes psychologist Richard Emmons in his book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Studies show that people who take time to record their reasons for giving thanks – rather than dwelling on negatives – also feel more loving, forgiving, joyful, enthusiastic and optimistic about their futures, while their family and friends report that they seem happier and are more pleasant to be around. Simply making time to be grateful each day benefits us in so many ways. That’s why I recommend that everyone pick up a gratitude journal.
Hoping for more happiness? Try being more grateful. Need to get healthier? You definitely need a daily dose of gratitude. Want more money, friends, time, or just a greater sense of joy, contentment, and confidence? Who doesn’t? And for anyone seeking more of the good stuff, it’s a fact that more gratitude can bring it on.
That’s my story. I call it “My Year of Living Gratefully.” Coming off a prolonged period of difficulty, I was disconnected from myself, and other important people in my life. Uncertain of what I had and what I wanted, I was feeling lousy, my business was slow, and I saw mostly just the negative in most every situation. I knew something needed to change, and I credit The Grateful Dad with showing me the path out of this funk.
Since becoming a father I have celebrated the many joys that brings. As a longtime fan of the band the Grateful Dead, it was a natural for me to adopt the moniker and persona of The Grateful Dad. And in an effort to ‘walk my talk,’ I began the new year with a new gratitude journal, and made the commitment to be grateful every day, and note what it was I was thankful for. On my weekly web-radio show, in my blogs and speeches, I also recounted my gratitude and reflected on full-circle fatherhood. And it didn’t take long before I saw benefits in every aspect of my life and work. It broke down a lot like this:
Confidence & Motivation – The first steps toward feeling better about myself, and more ready to take on the world, were aided by support from friends, loved ones and great coaches. Surround yourself with folks who make you feel good and give good advice. Their advice will surely include keeping a gratitude journal.
Recognition & Opportunity – Once my confidence rose, and with it my motivation, I became more focused, put gratitude front and center, and just put it our there into the world. Soon I was being invited to give talks, getting quoted in articles, and generally attracting positive people and great reactions to whatever I did. The more grateful I was, the more doors that opened for me.
Satisfaction & Productivity – As my year of living gratefully continued, and each day I noted my gratitude for both the mundane and the profound, the one-time and the ongoing things going right in my life, I not only became more satisfied on a daily basis, but also more productive. Realizing how much I have going for me helped me get more done and so more of it.
Success & More Money – Here’s the crazy thing: during that entire year focused on gratitude, I actually worked less and made more money. It’s true. I took off every Monday for my radio show which is unpaid, and had my highest annual income ever. Along with that, the listenership to my show climbed 15% each quarter of the year. Go figure? All I can point to is my investment in gratitude.
Joy & Contentment – This is the most important and delightful reward from my year of living gratefully. Better than being recognized, or productive, or earning more, it’s the sense of happiness and inner peace that is truly the best outcome of all. I need only recall how low I’d sunk, and that the path back up was paved with gratitude, and you can see why I am encouraging you to have a grateful day, every day.
Are you ready to give it a try? Go to The Grateful Dad Shop and order yours today.
Guyland with Professor Michael Kimmel
Monday, April 15, 2013, 1-2:00 p.m., Mountain Time on www.castlerockradio.com
Why do boys have such trouble growing into men? Why are some men so angry? What makes dads turn against moms? Michael Kimmel is professor of sociology at Stony Brook University, author of the best-sellers Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, Manhood in America, &The Guy’s Guide to Feminism, in addition to 20 other books. Kimmel is the founder and editor of the journalMen and Masculinities, and was the first man to give theInternational Women’s Day lecture at the European Parliament. Tune in and be the first to hear about Michael Kimmel’s newest book, as we explore mad dads, angry white men, and compare notes on the joyous & potentially perilous process of raising our own teenage sons, during a very special edition of the show.
April Fools with Comedian Ron Feingold
Monday, April 1, 2013, 1-2:00 p.m., Mountain Time on
Ready for April Fool’s Day? Ron Feingoldhas been on stage since age 10. He got his musical theatre start in high school and soon began his professional career performing in melodrama theatre. Ron earned his Private Pilot license at the age of 18, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Colorado State University, and earned a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling. As a performer and a student, a counselor and a father, Ron has always loved to sing, and consistently makes folks laugh. As a result, he has toured the entire United States and has performed at America’s finest comedy clubs, colleges, and theatres. After doing “straight” stand-up for 5 years, he decided to stir things up a little and bring his love for a cappella music to the comedy clubs, hence Ron Feingold’s One Man A Cappella Jam was born! Catch Ron for some songs & laughs on this April Fool’s Day edition of The Grateful Dad Radio Hour.
A short two months ago in this blog, I recalled and recounted the first time I told my father I loved him. I was almost 50 years old, he as 75. Some would suggest that it’s never too late, and we certainly made up for it during the last four years when I cared for my dad. Yet time does run out on every relationship, as it did last month when my father succumbed to complications from influenza and passed away at the age of 80.
In retrospect, I realize something was changing with my dad those last few weeks. Our visits were marked by even less conversation than usual, as my dad seemed to have little interest in making small talk. It had previously been like something out of the film “Groundhog Day,” with my father saying and asking the same things every time I saw him, and many times during each visit. Now it was more like “The Artist” with no dialogue during most of our final times together. We did however, always end by saying “I love you,” making up for so many years that this went unsaid.
Changes continued, even if it was unclear to me why. On two of the final occasions I went to see my dad at his nursing home, he was asleep in his wheelchair. The first of those times, I waited a long while before he finally awoke, and stayed only a short time after that. My thoughts rolled back to when my son was an infant: “Never wake a sleeping baby” was the conventional wisdom we followed. In truth, just as when a child slumbers and a parent feels unfettered, I let my dad sleep not just for his own health and wellbeing, but to avoid the awkward and unpleasant void of sitting silently when he was awake.
The last time I found him sleeping in his chair my father was still wearing his favorite blue blazer, a telltale sign that he’d been on an outing with the nursing home activities director. To the end, my dad loved to eat, and that day he was sleeping off the food and exertion of a field trip to a local Chinese restaurant. That day I just let him sleep; he never knew I was there. The next time I saw my dad he was sick in bed with, it turns out, the life-threatening effects of a flu he’d likely caught during that outing for eating.
His condition declined, and after two days in the ICU we began to discuss palliative care. During our bedside vigil, Maggie and I read a pamphlet by a hospice nurse who described the signs that someone is preparing themself to ‘transisiton.’ That process involves withdrawing socially and also sleeping more, just as I had observed with my dad. When the process was nearly complete, as my father’s breathing quickened just as the hospice nurse described, I held his hand and stroked his head, and as I said goodbye, I recalled the first time, and I said “I love you” one last time.
…and that’s the full-circle fatherhood report for this week.
Each week on my web-radio show, I reflect on what I’m grateful for. I call it My Moment of Gratitude. Every day I use a gratitude journal and note those things for which I’m grateful, which continues to remind me, I have so much to be grateful for. And this week, as we prepare to celebrate our first night Passover Seder, I want to pause and offer My Moment of Gratitude for freedom…
I am so grateful to live in a free country where democracy permits me to engage in a process of participatory government and live free from oppression…
I am also grateful that I have the freedom, aided by my good health and good fortune, to experience my life in line with one of my core values, and to determine so much about how I spend my time and enjoy my liberty…
And with gratitude I appreciate that my freedom is a gift and a privilege not known by or available to so many others and so, as the 19th century Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin once said “I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free.” And so I commit to fight for the freedom of those who cannot gain their rights alone – those seeking marriage equality in the US, those seeking a homeland in Israel & Palestine - and I pledge to learn of and support others who seek freedom and equality wherever it is denied…
And finally I am grateful for the long history of celebrating freedom in the Jewish tradition that we begin tonight with our Passover Seder, as we spend these next eight days telling the story of one peoples’ Exodus, and also understanding how this ancient story is tied to the plight of so many peoples over time, and to the personal Egypt that each of us must escape in order to be truly free…
So, that’s my moment of gratitude for this week, for Passover and celebrating freedom, and once again I’m grateful to everyone for listening to THE GRATEFUL DAD RADIO HOUR, and I do encourage you to try to make a habit of being grateful.
WATCH D.O.G.S. with Eric Snow
Monday, March 25, 2013, 1-2:00 p.m., Mountain Time on www.castlerockradio.com
Who are Watch DOGS? Dads, grandpas, step-fathers, uncles, and other father figures who volunteer to serve in schools at least one day a year make this program work.WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students)is the father- involvement initiative of theNational Center for Fathering that organizes fathers & father- figures to provide positive male role models for students and enhance school security. There are more than 2,659 activeWATCH D.O.G.S. programs in 46 states! Join Eric Snow, Executive Director of WATCH D.O.G.S., to learn all about this one-of-a-kind, school based father involvement program, that works to support education & safety. Plus a visit from Marc Goldman, the Top Dog Coordinator for his child’s school, and the word from his kids who are on Spring Break! Join us discover how YOU can become a WATCH DOG too!
Last October when speaker and author Dave Avrin was a guest on my web-radio show, he talked about a special tradition with each of his three children where they get to take a solo trip with their dad to a location of their choosing. Dave explained that his work takes him away a lot, and that these trips are a great way to connect and bond, and he pays for them with miles earned by all of his business travel. I liked the idea when I heard it, and I know it’s often typical for dads to get away on a trip with their children, and yet I’d never really done this with my son.
Sure, we’ve gone up to ski together, sometimes spending the night, but we have not really ventured too far afield beyond Colorado. Mostly I put it off to how much our family of three loves to be together; for all but one of the last eight summers, we’ve taken a long family trip, each one better than the last. It has not really occurred to us to divide and conquer our travel jones, and we continue to plan ahead and make time for family adventures several times each year.
These thoughts of father-son travel reminded me that my first and only trip alone with my own dad was when he took me on a short junket to visit colleges. As a high-school senior, it was not about spending time with my father, and I ditched dad for some co-eds and barely saw him the whole time.
The next time I traveled solo with my father was a whole different story; it was over 30 years later, and I was moving him from Florida to Colorado, as his health was failing and he needed my help. It was a tense journey for me, and a real role reversal from our college trip. Looking back, my dad must’ve felt a range of sadness, fear, confusion and even some shame, losing his freedom and moving to a place not really by choice. This was so different than the hope, excitement and new beginning of a college career that he’d helped me launch on our one previous trip.
So, taking a page from the Dave Avrin playbook – in this case, his self-proclaimed “sappy little fatherhood book” titled The Gift in Every Day: Little Lessons for Living a Big Life - I’ve been intent on taking a solo trip with my son. We had one scheduled a couple of years back, a sojourn to Ohio, to my 30th class reunion at the very same college where my father and I had gone on our first and only excursion together. The itinerary included a swing through Cleveland to take in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum. Alas, that trip had to be scrapped when my dad’s health put him back in the hospital. I hated to disappoint Jordy, although it was likely a bigger bummer for me.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum came back on my radar at this time last year when they opened a much-heralded exhibition on The Grateful Dead. In the midst of my busiest-ever year of work, however, I could never seem to make the time to take Jordy and me out there for the show. That sounds a lot like what must’ve prevented my own father from making solo trips with me, and I was delighted to learn that the show was held over through this month, as I resolved to make it a priority to get to Ohio with Jordy.
Just like Dave Avrin, I was able to use reward miles for the airfare and hotel, and on this stealth trip to Cleveland we spared few expenses and had ourselves a ball. The Dead exhibit was a highlight, and the entire museum operation was incredible. I’d learned from my two previous visits that, at least for big fans like us, it really requires an entire day. Jordy was right there with me from the time the place opened until the announcement to collect our coats as the museum was closing. Some added time exploring the city left us both pleased with our trip, and I am resolved that I’ll not wait until it’s time to look at colleges before my son and I get away together again.
…and that’s the full-circle fatherhood report for this week.
A tune about traveling with a son – Paul Simon: Graceland