Posts Tagged With: marriage

KNOWING LOVE


This is a picture of my wife at 4 years old.

andrea-at-4

Every time I look at this picture, I smile and think to myself, “I wish I’d known her then. I would’ve been her friend!” Seriously, I would’ve friended her so hard. lol I would’ve rode bikes, made mud pies, endured protracted doll activites, discovered bugs in the yard, and listened to every fantastic tale her young mind could conjure. I would’ve done all of it. Gladly.

I used to lament the fact that I didn’t know her when she was younger. That is, until I understood something very important…

She is still that little girl.

That 4-year-old little girl lives inside of her. And every time she shares with me stories of her childhood, or introduces me to cousins she used to visit in the summer, or I sit and watch while she reminisces over faded, old photos of Canadian farmland, I learn more about her 4-year-old self… and her 13-year-old self… and any other year-old versions of her that I may not have witnessed firsthand. And I fall in love with each and every one of them.

Because they are all still there.

As I picture this beautifully blonde, rambunctiously creative, spirited little girl, I realize that I love and have loved… all of her, throughout time. It is impossible to separate the woman she is, from the girl she was. They are one and the same.

So I no longer wish I’d known her at 4-years-old, because… I do. I know her as a preteen in the school performance at Play Mountain Place. I know her as the high school graduate who set off on her first year at UC Santa Cruz. I know her as the coed who took a summer trip to a lake house with friends. And I know her as the woman who bought her first house in Pasadena. I know… HER.

Instead, I now wish that I will continue to know her until she’s 104-years-old. Because I can’t imagine a more amazing gift than over a century of knowing and loving someone like her.

Happy Valentines Day, my love. ❤

Categories: marriage, personal, relationships, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blinding Pain


Indulge me for a moment as I reflect on PAIN. The electric word, pain, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time, but… wait, no. Wrong lyrics. It’s more like I have stood here before inside the pouring rain. But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain.

(TANGENT: Over the years I have come to the conclusion that there is a song for every occasion. And my life is a never-ending jukebox of extended play soundtracks, product jingles and sitcom theme music. But I digress…)

Pain comes in various levels of intensity that I personally believe can be classified by the initial or ongoing reaction of the body. For instance, there is the OUCH variety. As a parent you become intimately acquainted with this type of pain, since it is usually the result of being caught in the crossfire of flying toys, or stepping on a Lego brick for the 2 millionth time. Then you have the NAG variety. This is pain attributed to something like a paper cut, or in my case, the silent and invisible slice of the skin that occurs when you’ve lost your patience while trying to open the 124 jumbo pack of size 4 diapers. After the initial intake of breath from the sudden sharp cut, this pain follows you around for a day or so as it reopens repeatedly because you’ve forgotten about it, and failed to take it easy on the tickle attacks. Of course, there is the THROB level of pain. Most of us are probably familiar with these dull waves of soreness that gather in your arms, feet and legs when you finally sit down after a long day of errands, decorating and playing host to a couple dozen tyrant gradeschoolers for a birthday party.

Why am I saying all of this? Because on Tuesday of this week I was finally at the point of no return with one of the more devastating levels of pain… which is BLINDING. Blinding pain is when the pain is so intensely excruciating that you squeeze your eyes shut uncontrollably. It’s the kind of pain that wakes you up from a dead sleep and laughs at your feeble attempts to ignore it for the sake of rest. It’s the kind of pain where panic sets in because you are quite certain it will never go away and you seriously consider the horrific thought of what it would mean to endure this kind of torture for the rest of your life. Yep. That was me. It was a toothache. And you can chuckle all you want, but when your head feels like someone is shooting bolts of electricity through the roof of your mouth and directly into your brain, no amount of head-holding, temple-massaging, hot packs, or acetaminophen is going to provide you any relief. It was the kind of pain that you can’t run from though you desperately wish it were possible.

(TANGENT: This is second only to MIND-NUMBING pain in which the pain is to the point where the body shuts off all sensory perception and you knock out. This happened when I was 12 and was hit by a car. You can read that story here.)

Fortunately for me, I have a wife that likes having me around and wants to keep me around for a bit longer. So she set up an emergency appointment for me with the dentist that afternoon.

A little background on my relationship with dentists… I’ve developed a bit of apprehension about visiting them. Why? Well, not because I’m the kind of person who’s afraid of going to the dentist’s office. But it’s more about how the dentist treats me. As a kid, if I had a cavity the dentist would say something along the lines of, “If you don’t lay off the sweets, all of your teeth will fall out.” Now I know that this approach works for some people, but for me it just felt eye-roll worthy. As I got older, the dentists I visited seemed to only get worse. Instead of a jovial “Lay off the sweets,” I’d get a more accusatory “You’re too young to have this going on in your mouth!” or something equally degrading. Their comments were the antithesis of encouragement. “Hey Doc, I’m fully aware of the crummy condition of my incisors. That’s why I’m here! Can we skip the personal insults and just cut to the part where you fix my teeth and take away the pain? Thanks.”

I was happy to find that my wife (you know, that crazy-beautiful lady that tolerates my imperfections) had let the dentist and office staff know of my previous experiences. Because of this, they were extremely gracious. The dentist who took care of me that day was not only compassionate, but genuinely concerned about my overall comfort level. God bless her. After an initial examination I was told that my wisdom tooth in the upper right was broken and infected. I was given antibiotics, pain medication, and scheduled for an extraction appointment in 3 days. The next few days brought my pain level down from BLINDING to NAGGING with the occasional BLURRY thrown in for good measure. In any case, I made it to today.

My appointment was at 7am, which allowed me to get up this morning a whole half hour later than usual. I pressed through the rain, into the car, down the street, and into the familiar strip mall that contains our dental office, along with a smoke shop, a juice bar, and a much-frequented 99 Cents Only Store. As before, the office staff received me with knowing kindness and before I knew it, I was in and out with a mouth full a gauze and one less wisdom tooth!

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

The cause of my blinding pain, now mercifully extricated.

I’m still taking the antibiotics and the occasional pain pill. But the blinding pain is thankfully in my past.

Categories: health, personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Voices


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“You’re such a mean dad!”I usually hear this one after I discipline my children.

Your wife is miserable!”I hear this one mostly on the days when I see how overwhelmed my wife can become with managing a household that includes four children under 8 and two over 16.

“You are a failure!”I hear this one frequently. Either when I reflect on unmet educational goals or unwritten books and songs that are begging to get out of my head.

“People don’t like you. They think you’re weird and anti-social.”Well, if you’ve read “The Struggle With Hugs” last year, you’ll understand this one.

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Yes, these are the voices in my head. No, not the “OMG, I’m hearing things!” crazy kind of voices. But rather the very distinct voices that narrate various parts of and events in my life. Like uninvited guests to my parade of memories.

They are altogether unrepentant, distorted versions of my own voice that cast verdicts from the sidelines like a mental peanut gallery.

This is probably the result of the fact that I have a tendency to fall into over thinking or over analyzing situations and people. As soon as I dedicate any mind power to introspection, here come the snickering voices that want to judge my past or recent actions against society’s definition of success.

Sometimes it seems as if they simply want to pull me toward despair. Encouraging depression and pessimist behavior. Or pushing me toward isolation and episodes of social awkwardness.

But I resist.

I push back at them by encouraging myself with what I know to be true. I am loved by my wife and children. I am appreciated and respected by my peers. I pursue honor and integrity and support others in their pursuit of health and happiness.

Of course there are days when my exhaustion makes the effort to resist seem ten times harder. But I’m not given over to pity parties. Besides, there’s yet another voice that likes to shout things like, “No one wants to hear about your stupid issues, Mr. Happily Married with 6 beautiful kids!”.  I just ignore it, realizing that if I decide to stuff down those thoughts instead of purging them, I will become the worst version of myself.

So this is my release.

My confession.

Admitting that I struggle against the naysayers from within more so than I ever did against those from without. Yet, I strive to be a daily overcomer. One who acknowledges the challenges while doing everything necessary to overcome them.

It makes us human and ultimately, makes our victories so much sweeter.

What do some of YOUR voices say to you? How do you quiet them?

VoicesInHead

Categories: personal, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Promise of Prayer


This past weekend my beloved wife was delivered some absolutely heartbreaking news. The husband of one of her friends died unexpectedly from a heart attack after coming home from work on Friday. The news was a shock to us both. He was relatively young. I’d guess around 40, if that. And he seemed to be the picture of health. He leaves behind a loving wife he’s known for more than 20 years, and four beautiful children ranging in age from 7 years to 7 months. I can only imagine the devastation they are experiencing.

I will say that it’s been more than a little unsettling to acknowledge all of the similarities between our two families. Not the least being the fact that he was an African American man around my age, with four children whose ages mirror nearly exactly the ages of our own four youngest. Our wives were planning to get our two families together so that he and I would finally get a chance to meet. *sigh*

Naturally, the desire to pray is stirred in many of us. We want to pray that she, her children and his extended family might find comfort and consolation in this difficult time. And so, I did. I stopped what I was doing, and I prayed for them.

Of course, the topic of prayer got me to wondering… how many times have we said to someone, “I will pray for you” only to find that we never set aside the time to actually pray? I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve done it. And I am pretty sure that this is true for a good number of other people as well. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not saying we were misleading, that we had a lack of good intentions or that perhaps our statement was insincere. But the reality is that circumstances are often cited as the reason for not praying in that moment, when in truth, that moment may be the only one we’ll have.

It’s very sobering to think about the frailty of life and the idea that a mere second can separate life from death. So when it comes to prayer, don’t let your gesture become an empty promise or just some nice thing to say to someone who’s hurting. Instead, let it motivate you to action in the moment, that we might take advantage of every moment we are fortunate enough to be given.

So please join me in praying for Colleen Johnson and her family…

Categories: commentary, personal, religion, stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keeping It Clean


retro headshot bw

Serious Riis Is Serious

I’m not an old man, but I’m not a young man anymore either. Hmm… I’m “just right”. I’m in the stage of my life where I’m young enough to pull off the occasional outrageous stunt (and I have), but old enough to know better (yeah, won’t do that again). I believe that for most people, with age comes wisdom. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years…

  1. Whenever you leave the house, dress as if you’re about to meet the person who will be critical to advancing your career. Because eventually, the day will come when you will. No, it doesn’t mean you wear a suit everyday. Especially if you’re a musician. It just means don’t go outside looking like you never made it passed the curb after you left the rave party last night. These things are usually not planned, and it’s better to be ready.
  2. Wash your butt. There is absolutely NO REASON for you EVER to think, “I don’t need to wash my butt today.” Yes. You do. EVERY DAY. For real. Wash your butt!
  3. If you’re married, brag about your spouse to other people. Tell others what you find awesome about them. Do it often. It will prevent you from dwelling on the things that irritate you, and will instead remind you why marrying this person was the one of the best decisions you ever made. Over time, we can sometimes forget.
  4. If you have children, don’t forget to call your mom (or dad) every so often and tell her you love her. For you, it’s the realization and acknowledgment of the challenge they may have endured raising you. For them, they’ll know that you finally, FINALLY get it!
  5. Don’t let procrastination become a routine behavior. It’s like an invisible drug and one of the hardest habits to break. Plus, there’s no rehab clinic for it.
  6. Unless you have a tapeworm, there will come a point in your life when you won’t be able to get away with eating whatever you want. All that pizza, those hot dogs and those $2 fish tacos will all come back to bite you in your (clean) butt. It’s better to start making a habit of eating what’s best for you now, so that you can continue to do so later.
  7. Never take your family and friends for granted. Enjoy them as much as you can with the time you’re given.
  8. Don’t let your decision of whether or not to have kids be effected by finances. There is no “base price” for children. Every child is different and you’ll never know beforehand what your child’s needs might be or the cost associated with them.
  9. As a parent, never, ever withhold your affection from your children. It is one of the most critical love lessons they will ever learn. How they treat others is most often a direct result of how you treated them.
  10. Don’t be afraid to tell someone “no”. You avoid unnecessary stress, resentment and you gain respect from those who now understand the value of when you say “yes”.

Take those for what they may be worth to you. I guarantee these to be 100% true and effective or so says my Magic 8-Ball.

Categories: humor, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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