Dear Holly: You Liked Your Superman Ice Cream on My Birthday

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

I ended up getting a free dessert at the restaurant we went to for my 40th birthday; banana pudding that Mommy and I shared.

But before we knew that was going to happen, Mommy and I had already decided and announced that we would go by the fudge and ice cream shop for dessert.

So that meant you and your brother got a special ice cream treat on my birthday!

Out of the many flavors, you chose Superman.

(I kept it a secret from you that it’s just plain vanilla with a bunch of food coloring.)

You loved it! You were so proud, you made sure to tell your teacher about it the very next morning.

Love,

Daddy

 

5 Important Life Lessons It Took Me 40 Years to Learn (A Crash Course in Emotional Intelligence)

Having turned 40 this week, I came to the realization I have now learned certain life hacks that… no one ever tells you about!

So for anyone out there still reading blogs in the year 2021, I am going to share with you 5 important life lessons it took me 40 years to learn; most of which relate to the underrated commodity of emotional intelligence.

Don’t Just Be Yourself:

To “always just be yourself” is implying that there is not constant need and constant room for change in your own life and in your perceptions of reality. In order to mature, you must always remain open to, and even crave, constructive criticism.

Plus, the reality is that people don’t simply like you for who you are: Instead, they like you for what value you add to their lives; how you provide for their needs.

So to just be yourself insinuates that you not are empathetic enough to at least temporarily evolve into a version of yourself in order to relate- and therefore to be valued by that person.

Don’t just be yourself. That’s not enough. Instead, be a better and more flexible version of yourself.

Stop Believing That You Are a Good Person:

It’s interesting how many people instinctively see themselves as “good”; which in their minds grants them access to good things happening to them, and not deserving bad things. They compare themselves to people who have different moral struggles than they do; using cliches like, “I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not an ax murderer.”

I feel that culturally, we have bought into this false concept that karma exists. Living for 40 years has shown me plenty of examples where bad things happened to “good” people and good things happened to “bad” people.

Am I a good person? No. Am I a bad person? No. I am a person- and that means both good things and bad things are going to happen at some point. I accept this.

No One Cares About Your Opinion:

What you believe caries no actual weight on the rest of the world. It doesn’t. All that matters is what you actually do.

Yet still, watch how many people express their beliefs on social media as if they were actually changing someone’s mind. Instead, they are only reinforcing what others already believe through a process called Identity Protective Cognition.

Notice how “news” headlines are designed to trigger your tribalism; to get you to take a judgmental side and even get angry and emotional about the other side being “wrong.” This is simply their tactic to sell ads; whether the topic is politics, sports, or entertainment.

Getting older has taught me that I actually only have control over a limited number of things in this world. I have learned to focus on the few things I can control, not the infinite number of things I can’t- like other people’s deep-rooted beliefs.

You Have Complete Control Over Your Own Emotions, Time, Energy, Money, and Nutrition:

Whereas it seems the default that people think their opinions matter and that they control what other people believe, for some reason they ironically assume they are powerless victims when it comes to the things they alone control 100 percent.

No one can offend you unless you let them. No one can waste your time unless you let them. No can force you to spend your mental and physical energy on them unless you let them.

Likewise, you get to decide how you manage the small or large amount of income you have access to; as well as the density of nutrients in the calories you consume everyday.

For many people, “victim mentality” is the default instead of taking control and therefore changing their daily personal choices that currently lead them to a lesser quality of life.

People Always Find a Way to Do the Thing They Really Want to Do:

In the same way people often assume they have control over other people’s opinions and views, they often assume they can motivate other people to change their behavior too. Very seldom is this the case.

Everyone has their own personal motivations. Some people actually find comfort in their self-destructive routine. This is often due to some type of trauma they experienced earlier in life that they never received professional counsel for. It is their defining wound that they’ve made part of their identity. To change for the better would be to lose sight of who they are.

(Ever seen an episode of Hoarders, My Strange Addiction or My 600-Lb Life?)

At best, you can learn to nurture a relationship with a person to the point they begin to want to help you, and that help that you want might mean they change for the better. However, that often is more of a long term investment.

It is often a waste of emotion, time and energy to try to change a person who isn’t motivated to do so on their own.

That’s it! If you found any of my life lessons to be helpful, let me know.

After all, I am making an assumption that my opinions don’t matter, that I am only reinforcing what you already believe, and that to try to convince you otherwise is simply a waste of my emotions, time, and energy.

Dear Jack: An Easter Egg “Hunt” to a 10 Year-Old Boy

10 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

As a nearly 10 and a half year-old 4th grader, you’re technically a preteen. That’s how I see you at this point.

And this past Easter weekend, I noticed how you were one of the oldest the church egg hunt at Nonna’s and Papa’s.

For you, the egg hunt meant an emphasis on the word hunt.

You definitely scored big when it came to your candy collection.

Once it was over, you began a very business-minded candy trade ring.

I even heard you convince a friend to give you the dollar that received in one egg, in exchange for a candy bar you traded them.

Sounds about right!

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Jack: Catching Toads and Their Eggs with Your Fishing Net

10 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

This past week for your Spring Break, our family had an awesome time in Big Canoe, Georgia.

The family-sized tree house we stayed in had fishing supplies right there in the bedroom.

While you didn’t see any fish, you were able to find not only some toads, but also their stash of eggs.

Obviously, you left them all there in the lake, but it was really cool to be able to stumble upon them in their natural environment.

I’m so glad we chose to spend your Spring Break in the mountains of Georgia, as opposed to the beach in Florida this time around.

It was a nice change of pace for our family!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Love Watching Peppa Pig While Eating Your Cereal in the Morning

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

Each morning as I am leaving for the gym before work, I kiss you goodbye as you are eating your peanut butter chocolate cereal at the kitchen table; while you watch Peppa Pig on Mommy’s old cell phone.

Last Sunday you ended up with about $17 to burn; after Mommy sold some of your old toys and clothes. What did you spend it on? A Peppa Pig playhouse that we found at Target for that exact amount.

Peppa Pig is a pretty big deal to you these days! And you start off the day with her every morning.

Love,

Daddy