Dear Jack: Our 1st Time Driving Our Jeep to Your Soccer Game

8 and a half years old.

Dear Jack,

Just in time for you to turn 8 and a half years old, and before your spring soccer season came to an end, we were able to drive our Jeep to one of your games.

Our Jeep has the ability for just the front half of the top to come off (as well as the whole thing). Your game was during a 3 day stretch where I just left off the “Freedom Panels” the entire time; even when I left the Jeep in the parking lot at work.

Needless to say, we all enjoyed our drive to your soccer game.

You don’t have a soccer dad. You have a Jeep dad!

And that’s good for you, because you get to be a Jeep son.

Love,

Daddy

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2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 4WD 6 Speed: Family Ride in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee

It’s been two weeks now that I finally obtained my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler. As part of the fun for Mother’s Day for my wife, I announced we would be going for our very first family leisurely drive through the not-so-faraway Jeep-friendly spot: Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

This weekend’s drive confirmed what I always believed about owning a Jeep Wrangler; that you don’t simply own a vehicle, you own a mobile amusement park.

Automatically, anywhere you drive is suddenly more exciting. The view is undeniably better. Whenever you see a road you want to go down, or go up, that you wouldn’t normally be able to… well, now you can.

And we did. Many times.

There is no fear of getting stuck in the mud, because now we have 4 wheel drive.

There is no fear of not being able to turn around if we get to the end of a narrow dead-end road, because the Jeep is so short.

There is no fear of boredom, because we are ultimately riding in a mini monster truck.

Something really crazy about my 7 and a half year journey to finally getting my Jeep Wrangler is that I never ever drove one until I had already bought mine!

That’s how much I knew I was destined to own one.

I can’t remember the last time I bought anything for myself that made me so happy.

When you’re the husband and the father, you just sort of go along with whatever is going on with your family. There was honestly nothing I needed or even wanted anyway.

Except for the Jeep, which I couldn’t afford until now; and was able to pay cash for. (My wife and I are very serious about Dave Ramsey!)

But this Jeep isn’t just for me: My whole family enjoys it.

It’s simply more fun to drive now; even in bumper to bumper commuter Nashville traffic.

That’s how good a Jeep Wrangler is.

After 13 Years of Driving of My 2004 Honda Element, I Paid Cash for a 2010 Jeep Wrangler for My 38th Birthday: This is the Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid for Me

Exactly one year ago today, I began my job as a recruiter at a Fortune 500 company; after a 6 month stint of being thrown into the role of stay at home dad, when the company I had recruited for and managed retention for 12 years closed down their branch at my location.

For half a year, I applied for over 100 jobs; while also focusing on my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.

When I started my new job a year ago, it undeniably pushed me to my limits and challenged me in ways I had not been before. There were moments I had serious doubts I could survive it. But the position did come with a more than 62% pay increase compared to my former employer; so I did what it took to not only survive at my new job, but to excel.

By March 2019, I was the #2 recruiter out of 31 nationwide for my company for that month.

My wife and I had become debt free (other than our mortgage) 6 years ago, thanks to following the strategy and teachings of Dave Ramsey. (That includes tithing 10% to our church.) By the end of 2018, we had the recommended amount in our savings, according to Ramsey Solutions.

That’s when we were able to start investing money at Charles Schwab, in a serious effort to have at least $2 million by the time we retire; assuming there will be no social security left for us Millennials.

After 13 Years of Driving of My 2004 Honda Element, I Paid Cash for a 2010 Jeep Wrangler for My 38th Birthday: This is the Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid for Me

So in January of this year, my wife and I were finally able to start planning the replacement of my 2004 Honda Element; which I bought the same month I started my recruiting career, in January 2006; before I even met my wife!

I was considering a Hyundai Veloster, as some sort of a consolation to my dream vehicle:

A Jeep Wrangler.

The first time I announced my goal on this blog of eventually owning a Jeep Wrangler was back in December 2012, in a letter I wrote to my son:

“If we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.

Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.

Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.

It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.”

Then, after 7 and a half years, the dream began to come true when my mom showed me where on her Facebook feed, her dentist’s sister was selling a 2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 6 Speed for much less than market value.

I was the first person to call. It was mine as long as I could be the first person to show up with money to pay the asking price.

The problem was that I live 5 hours away from where the seller was in Georgia.

Good thing I have amazing parents. On April 1st, they drove over 3 hours to go pick up the Jeep, on a Monday night; in order to beat another would-be buyer who would be there to buy the Jeep the following morning.

My parents didn’t get back to their house in Alabama until after 1 AM; my dad was able to sleep about 3 hours before he had to go back to work the next morning.

Not to mention, they decided to buy my Honda Element as a spare vehicle, or as my mom calls it, their “farm truck”.

On April 29th, thanks to several divine interventions (as buying a vehicle outside of a dealership means a much more complicated process!), I was able to get the title signed over to me and get my very own license plate for the Jeep.

My entire month of April was consumed with me finally obtaining my dream vehicle, while coincidentally, my 38th birthday was on April 20th.

I am extremely grateful for all I have been given and all I have worked hard for in my life. Now that I finally own the vehicle I have been aspiring toward for 7 and a half years, and my goal is met, I am able to realize this:

At age 38, I have now officially made it to the top of my own Maslow’s Hierarcy of Needs Pyramid.

That means not only does a person obtain a comfortable state of financial means, but they also reach a great understanding of emotional intelligence.

For example, I no longer live under the delusion that I am a “good person”. As long as a person perceives they are “good” (comparing themselves to others who they believe are “bad”), they are in danger of believing they deserve goods thing to happen to them, but that they also don’t deserve bad things to happen (like the “bad people” do).

In reality, it is often the “bad things” that happen to us which are actually crucial life lessons we need to learn in order to mature in life. Believe me, I personally have experienced many of these. (See the 1st paragraph of this article, for an example.)

By age 35, I had learned the importance of not allowing other people to control my emotions: to hurt my feelings, to disrespect me, or to offend me. Because just like with forgiveness, it’s always a choice.

It’s a personal decision that we all get to make on a daily basis; to control our own emotions in relation to other people.

Similarly, making it to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid also means a person independently and internally understands who they are; no longer depending on society to confirm their identity, purpose, or value.

In an age where people are constantly posting on social media, subconsciously seeking confirmation and/or secretly judging others in a sense of “at least my life is better than theirs” voyeurism, the concept of not basing one’s self-esteem on the perceptions of others is somewhat revolutionary.

If I am fortunate to live as long as the average lifespan of an American man, then my journey of life is halfway complete.

No, it doesn’t make me feel old knowing that my 20th high school reunion is coming up in a few months. Because I’ve never had more focus and life experience than I have now, for Life: Part 2.

If the American Dream is a real thing, I am aware that I am currently living it. This is what the American Dream looks like. I am able to process that these are the good ole days.

But unlike the man who slaves away his life for his career and loses his family in the process, or the lottery winner who still isn’t happy when he instantly becomes millionaire (only to be broke a few years later due to poor money management), I am able to recognize, in real time a very important truth:

I have been blessed by God, and I know that every good thing I have comes from God. I believe it is no coincidence that as I strive to lead my family in God’s teachings (including the Biblical model of wisely managing money and talents), God has honored my efforts; though I fall short on a daily basis.

At age 38, I have come to the same conclusion as King Solomon:

“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God; for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Photo above by Mohamad Alaw.

After Nearly 10 Years of Marriage, My Wife and I Have Decided to Get a Dinnerware Set (Melange Nantucket Weave) to Replace Our Original One

A decade ago, I had just proposed to the love of my life. We hadn’t even been dating for a year yet, but I was already feeling at that point that my proposal was past due. That’s how much I knew she was the one.

I proposed on January 14th, and our wedding day was less than 6 months away, on July 5th. I suppose that’s just how our story goes. We didn’t need a long time together to decide to get married, nor did we require a long time to be engaged.

The entire year of 2008 is a blur to me. In early January we were just dating, and by early December, we had already been married 5 months. That really puts things in perspective now, in hindsight, what a big year that was for us.

At some point that year, my wife and I spent a day at Bed Bath & Beyond where we had registered for our wedding. When it came time to pick out the dinnerware set, she found a red set that she really liked.

Then we realized that for some mysterious reason, the same set in blue was half the price. So we went with blue.

Amazingly now, after nearly 10 years of using that dinnerware set, from Bush to Obama to Trump, and with two new smaller human members joining our family, all pieces of that set have survived other than a bowl and a cup. That even includes a move to Alabama and back.

Ten is a big number. Just a couple of weeks ago, my wife got to pick out new jewelry from James Avery for Valentine’s Day. That’s the only new jewelry she has gotten (or said she’s wanted) since her engagement and wedding rings back in 2008. So it was a big deal.

So while we’re in the spirit of my wife getting new things, in convenient accordance to our upcoming 10th wedding anniversary, we now have a brand-new set of dinnerware:

Melange Dinnerware, Nantucket Weave

It was not a rash decision. My wife obsessed over, I mean, carefully studied, dozens of sets online through the course of a week.

She then requested my opinion, as well as our son’s, to give her further direction after she had finalized her selection to the top 3.

I have learned over all these years that often, when she asks which one I like the best, whatever the thing is I’m helping her to decide, my answer only reinforces her own decision; which is never the same one I chose.

Amazingly, this time it was different.

Even though she was leaning towards another set, our son and I both chose Melange Dinnerware, Nantucket Weave, and apparently we swayed the vote!

Now obviously, with me being a man, you can imagine that in the end, my choice in our new dinnerware set was not a passionate one.

But now that the new set is here, I have to say, I am very pleased with our decision!

It’s like a crossroads of both Country and Class, which is how I think of my wife. Yeah, she’s from northern California but she loves Country music and grew up on a 5 acre farm with sheep, pigs, cows, chickens, and rabbits. She’s arguably more Southern than I am, yet I was born and raised in Alabama!

Soon, when you see pictures of our kids eating at the dinner table, you won’t see the decade old blue cups and plates anymore; as we start phasing in our white wicker-looking ones.

I never would have thought that picking out a new dinnerware set would be worth writing about, and on your end, reading about.

Yet here we are.

Now let’s see, so far this year, my wife has gotten a new set of jewelry and dinnerware. Meanwhile, I’m still driving my 2004 Honda Element that I’ve owned since January 2006.

Hey, I wonder if I will finally get my Jeep Wrangler I’ve been wishing for all these years?

Nah, probably not. Old Hondas just never die.

By the way, if you’re reading this because you are already actively looking for the Melange Dinnerware Nantucket Weave set, just click here:

Melange Dinnerware, Nantucket Weave

That link will take you straight to Amazon, where you’ll likely find the best deal on it, like we found.

Happiness Is A By-Product, Not A Destination

December 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm , by 

2 years.

Dear Jack,

In the capitalist nation we live in, with its nearly inseparable culture, we have this habit of always finding a new level of happiness, only after we have reached the goal we had been aiming for up until that point.

Just like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory explains, happiness will always elude us as long as we chase it.

However, if we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.

Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.

Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.

It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.

Yesterday at Target I helped you, or maybe I should say you helped me, try to find a 97 cent Hot Wheels or Matchbox model of the white Jeep Wrangler with a soft top we both fantasize about the most.

(Maybe it’s because somehow they remind me of Imperial Walkers from The Empire Strikes Back?)

Turns out it was a bust. Jeep Wranglers, like fire engine trucks, are not easily obtainable in small die cast form.

After Mommy heard about us catching a case of “Jeep Fever,” now she’s on board too. It could be something as subliminal  as a Jeep Wrangler most aligning with the culture of our family’s lifestyle: simple and classic, yet low-maintenance, rugged, and even a bit quirky.

So as your dad, I’m caught between the realization that happiness is a by-product of being content with the simple, yet privileged life we already lead as a middle class American family, and the fact that I am motivated by money.

As I spend 40 hours a week working my real job as an Employee Relations Specialist, then 12 hours writing material for The Dadabase, then on top of that, studying at least 5 hours preparing for my HR certification, it helps knowing that all this work is going towards growing my career opportunities…for our family.

Sure, it’s a paradox. All that really matters is spending time with you and Mommy, yet most of my time I have to spend working.

That’s why when the three of us are all awake, I make sure the time we spend is quality time.

Of all the life lessons I will be teaching you, perhaps the truth that “happiness can’t be chased” is one of the hardest for me to consistently teach by example.

But I can’t show you that we’re already happy with what we have now, I’ll definitely never be able to show you if we ever get more than we have now.

 

Love,

Daddy