The Wheel: Fatherhood Turns Full-Circle, again.

IMG_0401The wheel is turning, and you can’t slow down, You can’t let go, and you can’t hold on, You can’t go back, and you can’t stand still, If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will… 

~ Robert Hunter, The Wheel

It was a glimmer and a dream that began a tradition lasting ten summers: We are going to spend a month traveling in Europe. As our son’s kindergarten year came to a close, we realized that for the first time he would have the summer off of school. The opportunity was there to either sign him up for lots of camps and let others spend the summer with him, or to free up time in our work schedules and spend it together as a family. We opted for the latter, and every year since we’ve taken a long family trip. doug & jordy & big ben

That first trip set the path and made memories that we still recall and celebrate. Hostels in London and Oxford, a labyrinth and mini-golf in Bath, friends and the Tivoli in Copenhagen, and Norway in a nutshell. And each subsequent summer we planned and enjoyed yet another long getaway. After Europe it was a month-long road trip around Colorado, exploring our home state while not once driving on an interstate. We spent three and a half weeks on four Hawaiian Islands, drove up most of the East and West Coasts, explored Alaska, immersed in Israel/Palestine with a side trip to Petra in Jordan. Indeed, my identity as a father, and ours as a family, have been shaped and closely associated with these different, lengthy trips.IMG_1930_2

As this year’s tenth anniversary trip approached, our son (now approaching age 16) let it be known that after this summer he did not envision traveling for long stretches with us. Rather, he prefers the prospect of staying in town, hanging with friends, having a job. Even as I recognize that this is totally age-appropriate, when we left last month for our three-plus weeks in Iceland, Toronto, and Montreal, I was saddled with frequent, bittersweet thoughts of how this may well be the last time, at least for some time, that we spend this type of time together as a family. We certainly enjoyed our many adventures this summer; they were urban and natural and musical and cultural, and they will make for many memories, especially if this trip was indeed our last.IMG_5664

And as the trip drew to a close, I was reflecting on coming home this time, to the scorching dog days of summer that await us every year, and it occurs to me that there’s a symmetry to our first trip and this perhaps final time we return home from a glorious if indulgent getaway, and reintegrate back into “normal” everyday life.

You see it was in the summer between kindergarten and first grade, after arriving home from that maiden family voyage, that I could no longer avoid teaching my son to ride a bicycle. He was one of those kids who developed cognitively ahead of physically. You know the ones I mean: On the playground he stuck to the safer environs of the lower jungle-gym, rather than exploring (and sometimes tumbling from) the upper rungs. This was never a big issue, but it did delay his graduating from training wheels until a bit later than some of his peers. With parental guidance, and the help of a YouTube video, our son did learn to ride a bicycle, and this accomplishment was something of an epilogue to the other adventures of earlier that summer, sort of “Hey Dad, remember when we rode the London Eye, and then you taught me to ride my bike!” IMG_5115

And now, a decade hence, it’s time to teach him to drive. We definitely made some memories earlier in the summer; in fact, this tenth annual trip was the first in which our son had significant input on the planning. It was his request to visit Canada, solely because his favorite band is from Toronto. And when this indie music outfit announced they would emerge from hiatus to play one night only at a festival they were hosting, we altered our travel plans to ensure our son could attend. While that music festival may well have been the zenith of the journey for our son, he was a pleasant travel companion throughout the ensuing exploration, and we as parents were careful to give him plenty of space for the duration.

Back home now, the daily monsoonal cloudbursts have given way to infernal afternoons of 90 degrees and more. I recall these same temperatures a decade ago as I ran along side my six year-old in empty asphalt parking lots, encouraging him to keep pedaling, celebrating as his balance improved and he rolled a bit farther at each pass. Now I sit beside my son in a car, our places reversed from what they’ve always been. He’s in the driver’s seat now, and I am a passenger, and I’m doing my best to take it slow, as I encourage him to do the same behind the wheel.

It’s been a good run, these ten years of long summer trips. And I know that each was special in its time, and formative in the fond memories and deep relationships that persist. With the sweet sadness that comes in rites of passage, I celebrate my son’s next milestone, aiding and assisting as I can, and recalling the words of a sage friend and father of two boys who reminds me that my son “… is a great kid with great parents. His journey is his and you are a character within. You can create your own identity but at this point his is up to him.”99_reasons_to_travel

Fatherhood has come full circle yet again for me. The wheels are turning, and try as I might, I can’t slow them down.

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Your copy of my new book for new dads here.

A great combo pack here.


Posted in Being a Dad, Being a Partner, Being a Son, Fun & Adventure, Gratitude, Men's Issues, Work-Life Balance | Leave a comment


See my comments on all of these topics in the third episode of my Web TV appearance on My Life As A Dad. Host Robert “Daddy” Nickell asks me some good and tough questions, and I answer honestly. See it here, and be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss a single show. Much gratitude and early Father’s Day greetings to Robert, his family, and the whole crew @MLAAD.

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The Grateful Dad on Web TV

I am delighted to be a guest on the thriving web TV show My Life as a Dad. Check out all three episodes:

And subscribe to the channel here.

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NEW BOOK for NEW DADS: Order today & get a free e-book!

Unsaved Preview DocumentOrder your copy of The Grateful Dad’s Guide to the First Year of Fatherhood @ The Grateful Dad Shop and get the e-book FREE. (Scroll down to see the book.) Please share this with any new parents, grandparents, family members of new families, and those thinking of taking the big step. Thanks for your support!

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My New Book is Available!

My new book is hot off the press and I’m off to the 15th Annual Families and Fathers Conference in Las Vegas to talk about gratitude and fatherhood. Order your copy of The Grateful Dad’s Guide to the First Year of and get the e-book FREE. (Please share this with any new parents, grandparents, family members of new families, and those thinking of taking the big step.) Thanks for your support!

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Monday: The Grateful Dad Radio Hour Final Show

Monday: The Grateful Dad Radio Hour Final Show

The time has come to say “farewell,” to put this show to bed, and to move in other directions. Please join me one last time to look back and ahead in gratitude and anticipation. I’ll take time to thank a bunch of folks and recall the high points of these past two-plus years, and I’ll let you know a bit about what I am planning to do in the future. Tune in at 1:00 MST on Monday, February 10, for one last edition of The Grateful Dad Radio Hour, on And thanks again for all of your interest and support for me, my mission, & guests.
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New Video of My Keynote Speech: The Rewards of Gratitude

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Recognizing & Remembering

Image 1Spending time with my teenage son is like déjà vu for me, as I grow to recognize my younger self in him more and more each day. His awkward self-consciousness, the inward turning, less communicative stance, his attraction toward friends and away from family, and his idealism, all strike a familiar chord.

My son is me at that age – less messed up because he’s growing up without the chaos and dysfunction that I endured early and often. Yet the teen he’s becoming is very much a mirror of myself.

It gives me empathy and appreciation for him at this point is his life, even as I feel my buttons pushed by some of his unbecoming behavior. This recognition of myself in my son should help me to be less triggered, more tolerant; yet I do hope he passes through this period somehow swiftly and with relative ease.

I am also reminded of another mirror, the one that was so evident in the presence of my own father. How I channeled his voice and mannerisms, at the same time I resented and reviled him at various times. My goal has been to live my life differently, while accepting his legacy as one I can never completely escape.

As I think about it, I am recognizing and remembering both my father and my son, for how I am reflected in who they are, and how they show up in everything I am and all that I do.

The teenage me that I see when with my son is a reminder of the simple yet extremely challenging aspects of those years of my life. It’s my job to accept and support him the best I can, and offer guidance and set some boundaries to help my son navigate toward adulthood.

All the while I am also charting my own course through middle-age, using the memories of my own, late father as a map for how to and not to live my life.

I am so grateful for these teachers, young and old, and the simple wisdom that I recognize, remember, and continue to struggle to understand.

…and that’s the full-circle fatherhood report. 

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Transformation Through Gratitude Begins in January!

January – April 2014



How would you answer these questions?

  •  Are you hoping for more happiness?
  • Do you need to get healthier?
  • Would you like to feel more loving, forgiving, joyful, enthusiastic, and optimistic about the future?
  • Do you appreciate & celebrate the gifts you receive every day?
  • What would it take for you to fall in love with your life?
  • How can you spend more time enjoying what matters most?
  • Do you want more money, friends, time, or just a greater sense of joy, contentment, motivation, satisfaction, and confidence?

is your fast track path
to making every day a grateful day.


The Grateful Group is an intentional community of gratitude-minded folks who dedicate time daily, weekly, and monthly to being grateful, together and independently, with appreciation for the many rewards and benefits it brings to themselves and others. Specially designed by Doug Gertner, Ph.D., The Grateful Dad®, The Grateful Group is a four month mastermind group coaching experience beginning in January of 2013, running through March, meeting virtually, to learn and support the rewards of gratitude and help you get more out of every day and fall in love with your life. Doug has personally experienced and harnessed the power of gratitude through his ‘year of living gratefully,’ emerging from a difficult period to thrive with the use of a gratitude journal.

When you register for THE GRATEFUL GROUP, you will get:
-  Four Mastermind Group Coaching Sessions 
~ 2 hours each
-  “5 Spot” during every meeting 
~ five minutes focus on you
-  Bonus Content ~ learn something new about gratitude
-  Three One-on-One Meetings with Doug ~ between sessions
-  Private FACEBOOK Group ~ access to this on-line community
-  Grateful Dad’s Journal of Gratitude ~ Free 12 month supply
  (A $6,163 value, offered at rock-bottom introductory pricing today!)



  •  The Grateful Group Gratitude Mastermind meets together in an on-line session for two hours of intensive gratitude learning and celebration on these dates: 1/8/14 ~ 2/5/14 ~ 3/5/14 ~ 4/9/14 (VALUE: $5,413)
  • Every session includes a ‘moment of gratitude’ check-in by each member, an extended deep dive into gratefulness content, process, and data, plus a “5 Spot” – five minutes solo attention to each person’s current needs, desires, and appreciations.
  • Members also receive three one-on-one gratitude coaching conversations with Doug Gertner, The Grateful Dad®, plus access to their own Facebook group, and four copies of The Grateful Dad’s Journal of Gratitude, a year’s supply to use. (VALUE: $750.00)
  • The Grateful Group is a simple, ready-to-use way of accessing gratitude for all of the rewards and benefits that come from daily recognition of what we have and everything that’s going right. (SPACE LIMITED to 6 MEMBERS! Join today, don’t miss out.)

Your investment:
1.  Register in 2013 to receive early-bird pricing of only $197
2.  Register before January 8, 2014 for $297
3.  Sign up later in 2014 for $397

Click on the “Buy Now” button below to start your registration.

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