Friday Faves, Issue #41

This week’s list is in honor of an old friend who’s getting married this weekend.  ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:  Los Gatos, California.  The first trendy, awesome little town in the Santa Clara Valley.  Pricey place, but doesn’t cost a thing to stroll the streets and enjoy the vibe.

Quote of the Week: “I do.”

Band of the Week: Gotta be The Kinks.  Gotta be “LOLA”.

Meal of the Week: Jumbo Burger with Cheese at Helvetia Tavern in northwest Oregon.

Website of the Week: For Dads everywhere. Encouraging Dads.

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REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday Faves, Issue #40

Continuing with the theme established last week, let’s take it the next step.  What does the interwebs have to say about each of these tidbits…? Read on to find out.

Destination of the Week:  The baseline. Greenwich.

Quote of the Week: “…we shall never surrender!”

Band of the Week:   Jet – “Are you going to be my girl?”

Meal of the Week: Bangers and Mash – classic comfort food.

Website of the Week: Bloomberg “Markets” – every workday.

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REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday Faves, Issue #34

This week’s finishing up in a special way, the launch of a story/interview I did as an UP Ambassador for  Jawbone (see the website of the week below).

That’s really what the Friday Faves are all about too — lifting others UP.  Enjoy!

Destination of the Week:  Santa Clara, California is a small city next to a big city (San Jose), site of the first California mission named after a woman, and my stomping grounds growing up.

Quote of the Week: “Never Give Up!” ~ Three foot sign on the side of Queen of Apostles Catholic Church, in San Jose, California.

Band of the Week:  When I first heard about this band as a kid I thought, “No Way! A GERMAN band that plays heavy metal.  Then I heard this album, and I was converted.

Meal of the Week:  Headed to my first SF Giants game of the season, a little more special tonight because it’ll be with my son.  We’ll be roaming through this list to find something tasty for dinner.  You can too.

Website of the Week:  Really stoked to be an UP Ambassador for Jawbone. It’s all about the UP Side, and it starts here.

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REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday Faves, Issue #32

Happy World Sleep Day! Hopefully these tidbits won’t put you to sleep, but will give you sweet dreams when you do fall into slumber, maybe a little earlier tonight.

Destination of the Week: Chelmsford. Where, you ask?  Essex, of course.  Not enough?  Never is.  Here.

Quote of the Week: “Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.” -James Joyce

Band of the Week:  Great example of 80’s rock n’ roll…lots of leather, big, stringy hair, and thick guitar licks.  Dokken. Here’s one of their hits.

Meal of the Week:  Steak!  The “perfect supplement”, according to Jocko Willink. Half in jest, but clear on motivation.  Don’t hate red meat. All things in moderation probably applies here. Grass-fed. A piece about a big as the palm of your hand. GOOD.

Website of the Week:  Want to open your mind? Open your body to GOOD mobility, #worthit

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REMINDER:   Your comments are always welcome.  Love to hear what you have to say, GOOD or otherwise.  If you fancy twitter, you can follow more of the muse there. My handle is @jhludlum ~

Enjoy the weekend!

Daughters: Let Them Shine

anaindress&sunglasses_2012

When my daughters were born I realized my mission as a dad was suddenly a lot more dynamic than I’d imagined it would be. While I’ve always respected and gotten along with women, and felt that I understand them pretty well (as best I can, being a man) raising girls was a reality I hadn’t considered.

There’s been plenty published by authorities on the subject of the effect and influence fathers in particular have on daughters. I’ve taken a lot of that information to heart. But when I see either of my girls, all those ideas and concepts and philosophies boil down to this:

I want to teach my girls to be thoughtful, grounded, strong, resilient, loving, and fearless. When they set their mind to something, I don’t want anything but their level of desire, ability, and commitment to be a barrier to realizing their goals and being true to what they believe.

I want their true selves to shine through, to be just what they discover themselves to be, where their dreams are their only limitation. As they grow into women, I want them to feel they are always supported to be who they truly are, the best they can be.

It starts with me to help them shine.

Keep ’em in the Air

holdyourfire-1[photo from the RUSH album, “Hold Your Fire”]

Lots going on over the last several days. It’s been a bit of a challenge keeping everything in the air, so nothing falls through the cracks, as it were.  I didn’t even have time to put on my socks this morning until I got to my desk.

The usual activities have been in play:  work, three little kids, house chores, holiday activities ramping up, etc.  Add the last Lions club meeting for the year tonight, family finance transitions with decisions and deadlines, car maintenance scheduling/logistics, and Giving Tuesday on top of it all, it’s made for a little quicker pace since just before Thanksgiving.

When things get busy, I remind myself that “busy” is a choice, one I’ve consciously made for myself.  My family?  My choice.  My work?  My choice.  Philanthropy via Lions?  My choice.  My finances?  My choice.

Overall, I want to and enjoy being busy.  For me, that translates to more productivity and progress, if I’m managing everything properly.  It also means looking back on the efforts with satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment and “doing good.”

What busy requires though is increased focus, discipline, and a positive attitude.  Why?  Because as life gets busy, things can more easily go sideways.  The result?  People relying on you can get bent out of shape if timelines and expectations slip.  That’s just par for the course.

Last night, by the time I finished some finance work, it was past my target bedtime.  Still, I didn’t want to miss the Giving Tuesday opportunity that ended at midnight. So I logged on and gave a bit of fiscal support to a few folks I believe in, a mix of local and global charitable organizations:  Sacred Heart Community, Loaves & Fishes, One World Play Project, and PIH

Remembering what’s important, taking brief breaks, keeping a smile on your face and staying after it are the keys to success.

So after a few deep breaths and little stretch, I’m back at, still keeping things in the air.

 

 

So What’s With The Home Page Pic, Anyway?

Looking at the home page picture I’m using for this blog, it occurs to me that most (all?) everyone probably looks at that image and wonders, “What’s up with that picture, anyway?  Where was it taken?  Why the fountain?  Who’s the little kid?

So to clarify, there are several things going on at once that are either symbolic or personal or both, as to why I decided to use that image on my home page.  If you’re curious, read on…

First, I really liked the colors.   I like the way the blue looks extra bright coming through the water.  I like the contracts of the red in the sweater against the blue fountain basin. I like the shimmer and the shine of drops of water in the upper left corner, I just like the whole image collectively.

Next, I like having the bit of mystery to the person in the frame.  You can’t see the face, you’re not sure why the kid’s there or what the kid’s doing.  I remember several vinyl album covers growing up that had such a feel, and when I found this photo, that’s what came to mind.

I like the relationship between the fountain basin and the title of the blog, “Half Full, All Good.”  The basin’s not full (not even half), and yet the image is cool.  It’s good.  Maybe the kid just tossed a coin in the fountain with a wish for something good.  What else would the wish be for?  And what do I wish for that kid, if I could?  All GOOD.

Finally, the fountain just happens to be in the central square of my hometown.  So paying homage to that place, to where I come from, with that picture…that just seemed like the right thing to do.

The whole picture together conveys for me the feeling I try to nurture with this site.  Cool, a little different, real-life examples of good, wonder, lessons and inspiration in the seemingly mundane everyday, from anywhere.  Find it. Share it.  It gives me peace and some inspiration.  Hope it does the same for you.

And Voila!  There you have it.

Energy on High? Share it!

nzallblacks

Sometimes things just start clicking, as if the universe is aligned and all the gears are churning along in smooth and swift unison.  You feel particularly energized, ready to take on whatever comes your way, motivated in a special way.

When this sort of magic occurs, you should focus on riding the energy surge that’s lifting you up and propelling you forward.  It’s the exact time to pick up the pace and make the most of the extra boost, to get more stuff done.  Go for an extra walk, do a little early evening yard work, clean your desk, attack your to-do list with extra vigor.

On this note, while whittling down your own to-do list is a fine objective, sharing some of the positive energy with others is even better.  Once you realize you’ve got a special energy current underway, the very best you can do is not only get more stuff done for yourself, but add to the greater GOOD effecting others too, at home, at work, or both.

Here are some examples:

  • Hustle for a colleague to get something done
  • Bring sliced watermelon to the break room to share with your co-workers
  • Bake a cake for the work crew as a surprise at lunchtime
  • Clear the kitchen sink of dishes
  • Put away the kids’ toys strewn across the living room floor
  • Write and send a Thank You Note to someone for some small gesture that otherwise might be passed over

So ride the wave, and share the energy ~ everyone will be better off.

Far Away Lands, Moving Mountains, and a Cry Down the Hall

An old friend from high school has been traveling and living in Asia, Africa, South America, and even Antarctica, for some time now.  Thanks to social media channels, I’ve been able to follow his wanderings, and be inspired remotely by his adventures, insights, stories.  I love reading his posts, hearing about his latest experiences in other parts of the world. The vagabond spirit within me is stirs every time.

I’ve been an opportunistic traveler all of my adult life.   I’ve visited maybe fourteen countries so far.  Those pleasure/adventure trips lasted anywhere from a few days to at most a couple of weeks.  I was lucky to spend one year living and teaching soon after college in Donetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine [and of late, sadly in the news with the violent civil conflict happening there].

When I think about a life of travel and the call of the road, nearly every time John Steinbeck’s words from his book, “Travels with Charley” come to mind. There he described his wanderlust, how his “toe starts tapping when he hears a train’s whistle…”, or something like that.  Since I read that book some 25 years ago, I’ve felt that simple characterization describes well my own feelings about travel.  I love it. I long for it. It inspires me.

I’ve lately been following the adventures and work of another person I recently became acquainted with via social media. This person started her professional life as a social worker, then turned to entrepreneurship, and finally blended the two skill sets to be a force for meaningful, measurable, positive change.  The first project was borne from time spent teaching and living in Nepal. in the states now, she’s leading an effort to build a solar system to provide reliable electricity for classrooms and a local monastery.

Project Exponential and Khata:Life are two additional manifestations of her drive to change lives for the better. My wanderlust stirs again with thoughts of Nepal, and my soul is sparked by the inspiration this new friend creates.

Then I pause and juxtapose all these thoughts to about four and a half years ago, when our first child was born.  This event changed my life in a dramatic way, and even a little different from the obvious, expected manner.

You see, I became a new dad later in life. While many of my friends were married and having children in their 20’s, kids weren’t in my present nor future at that time. I was married but had no plans for children. That marriage ended when I was 39.

As life (and luck) would have it, I met my second wife soon there after. She knew with certainty that she wanted to have children. The rest, as they say, is history. We started our family four years back. But the wanderlust still bubbles up from time to time. The desire to “change the world” on a massive scale still heats up within me.

And so I find myself, now with three young children – 4 years old, 2 year old, and 1 year old — trying to reconcile my previous, more self-centered life — yearning to travel the world, meet new people, see new things, get in adventures; and also my drive to bring positive change to as many people as possible, willing to drop what I’m doing to help others — with my new, family-focused life.

As I’ve looked into the eyes of each of my children, I’ve NEVER seen the opportunity, nor felt the responsibility, to shape lives for the better as with these three little people.  It’s an awesome, joyous, sometimes frightening prospect:   these little people rely on their mother and me for everything.  And we can’t let them down.

Then it dawns on me.  Being a parent is maybe one of the most inspired jobs anyone can have.  For someone like me, who thought he’d never be a parent, that feeling is intensified. We should think of our role as parents in that manner, and treat it with the hallowed respect and gratitude that it deserves.

The excitement, learning, insights, meeting new people (at daycare, school, playgrounds, etc.), even language challenges (try to understand little kids, as any parent knows, is quite an experience!) parallels in many ways those very similar opportunities that come with international travel and work.

The sleeplessness, the unexpected changes to schedule and activity, witnessing the wonder in the seemingly mundane, even some strange meals (if you’re a parent who eats his kids leftovers so as to not waste food, that can make for odd culinary combinations):  it’s all swirled together in the everyday life of being a parent.

What’s more, I have fresh inspiration as a father, to help other dads be the best they can be for their children.  I’ve quickly felt the desire and motivation to share my insights, my struggles, my support mechanisms, and have found a ready audience in friends, and also via social media channels like twitter.  Indeed, I’ve connected with a whole new sub-set of like-minded folks who seem to appreciate what I have to give, and who also share with me their wonderful lessons on parenting.

And that wanderlust?  I’ve found two avenues to help satiate that need for adventure, new discoveries, and excitement from the road.

First, that same wonder in the mundane one finds over and over traveling to distant lands also exists right in our own backyard, quite literally. And also in the neighborhoods, parks, museums, libraries, playgrounds, etc. that I’ve started to wander in a whole new way, following little people around, seeing the world through their eyes.    As they discover, so do I, the simple joy waiting patiently until you shift your perspective and suddenly think, say, “Look at that!  THAT is amazing.”

And what about the literal call of the road?  New thoughts and plans of exploring the vast and varied lands of the American West — road trips to Yellowstone and Joshua Tree and Yosemite and Bryce and Pinnacles and Redwoods and Crater Lake and…the list goes on…I find myself already plotting the time of year for each destination, the number of days I’ll need off work, how far we will drive each day, what snacks we’ll bring, etc.

I can’t wait to hit the road with my wife and a car full of kids, my stomach buzzing with the excitement and anticipation traveling stirs within.   No doubt there will be plenty of challenges during those adventures. As in life,  the lessons and bonds and new things we’ll see and experience together as a family…well, that’s just priceless, as least as far as I’m concerned.

So as I follow my friends’ lives and the cool places they travel to and good works they’re engaged in, I take heart anew because I know that I too am living the life I’m meant to live.  Indeed, by simply living, shifting perspective to find joy in the now, nurturing and promoting a deep sense of gratitude and finding satisfaction in my every day, I am who I want to be.  Now not just for myself, but for others too.  Especially three little people who are with me on the journey.

Friday Faves, Issue #3

Here ya go, folks.  Issue #3 of The Friday Faves series on Half Full, All GOOD.

ENJOY!

Destination of the Week:  Abu Dhabi. An ancient kingdom, dating back 5,000 years. One of the more “progressive” (and wealthier) Arab countries.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Dhabi

Quote of the Week: “When the student is ready, the master will appear. Be present.” -adapted from a Zen saying.

Band of the Week:  Really song and musical of the week.   “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.

Meal of the Week: Pot of Beans.  Simple nutrition, Mexican staple.

Website of the Week: Saving my back!

http://www.bodyryzm.com/products/backvitalizer.php

And there you have it!