Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Power of Now

Just finished reading "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. Trippy, new age stuff. I'm really happy I read this book though - tons of great tools and thoughts inside to help me manage my own consciousness.

I'd love for my sister to read this, I think it would help a lot if she "got it" in any meaningful way.

Two of his more important thoughts (read more here and here):

Only the present moment exists.
That is where life is (indeed it is the only place life can truly be found). Becoming aware of the 'now' has the added benefit that it will draw your attention away from your (negative) thoughts. Use mindfulness techniques to fully appreciate your surroundings and everything you are experiencing. Look and listen intently. Give full attention to the smallest details.

Accept the present moment.

It is resistance to the present moment that creates most of the difficulties in your life. However, acceptance does not mean that you cannot take action to rectify the situation you are in. What is important is to drop resistance so that you let the moment be, and that any action arises from deeper awareness rather than from resistance. The vast majority of pain in a person's life comes from resistance to what is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dimes for Diapers

This is exciting... my 10 year old daughter is doing her very first service learning project. She's picked the New Haven Diaper Bank to try to help and is hard at work both in school and online trying to fundraise. I'm using a bunch of different outlets to try to help her reach her modest goals of $500 by February 11th (that's the due date on the service learning project). Obviously I'm proud of her, and am even more excited to see her accomplish her goals.

She and I shot a video (outtakes coming soon), built a blog and started to use my Facebook account to promote her efforts (i.e. we'll do anything to raise the money!) In addition, she got the school principal to agree to let her distribute flyers to every class in school - pretty slick I thought.



Kids today, eh?!

Here's her first post on her new blog:

Hi!

This blog and web site is designed to help raise money for the New Haven Diaper Bank - I'm doing a service learning project called "Dimes and Dollars for Diapers" and my goal is to raise as much money as possible.

Here are some of the facts of why I'm doing this project:

  • Safety net programs, like Food Stamps and WIC, which are supposed to provide poor children with basic necessities do not cover diapers.
  • An adequate supply of diapers can cost over $100/monthly
  • Infants need up to 12 diapers a day; toddlers about 8 diapers a day. In low-income households babies may spend the whole day or longer in a single diaper.
  • Cloth is not an option for most poor people. Most childcare centers require parents to provide disposable diapers. Furthermore, most people living in poverty do not have easy, affordable access to washing facilities.
You should donate now because without clean diapers, lots of bad things can happen.
  • Parents who are working or in school cannot take advantage of free or subsidized childcare if they cannot afford to leave disposable diapers at the childcare centers.
  • Inadequate diaper changing increases the risk of numerous health problems from skin diseases to hepatitis.
  • A baby crying non-stop from being in a soiled diaper for a prolonged time is at greater risk of abuse.
For more information, please visit the New Haven Diaper Bank.

Please consider visiting her blog and:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Parenting and Youth Sports

I'm a coach. In another life, I think that I'd do that as a profession. In this life however, I've been coaching my 2 girls in a variety of sports and learning so many lessons. As they have gotten older, more and more issues have come up that have pushed me past those easy tee-ball days. Suddenly, drafts and organizational politics have come into play - neither of which I could care about all that much. I'm still more concerned with my singular goal for each season:

How many of these kids will have so much fun that they will come back and play another season?

There was a study done recently that showed that 75% of all kids who play sports stop completely by age 13. Athletics was such an important part of shaping who I am today and for my girls, I feel that it is extremely important for them to keep playing (something, anything) and having fun.

I picked up a copy of "Parenting Young Athletes The Ripken Way" from the library this weekend and blew through it's pages in one sitting. What I read reconfirmed:

  • Cal Ripken is a class act
  • Youth Sports today is very different than it was when I was a kid (not so long ago)
  • Youth Sports are GAMES... and games are meant to be fun
  • Parents and coaches may be hurting their kids inadvertently by pushing and not praising at all times
I jotted down a few notes as I read this book (I read with one eye on the Patriots playoff and their 17th victory this season - all those guys played youth sports I bet).

Cal talks a lot about praise and how to use praise to really build up a kids confidence. I do an OK job of this, but am realizing how important it is to not be critical - especially in the car on the way home from a game. My instinct is to keep coaching on the way home, giving my girls tips and pointers on what to work on. What I should be doing is going gaga over their performance and asking them about what they thought.

If my goal is to get my kids to keep playing a sport from season to season, I think a little less criticism and a ton more praise might just do the trick.

A lot of parents have asked me if I think travel teams and specialization is something they should be considering for their athletes - I get these questions more and more now that my older kid is approaching middle school. While I'm not an expert quite yet, Cal's book made some great points that are worth considering.

  • By playing as many different sports as possible, your athlete develops cross-compatible skills that will help them in every sport they play. The quickness they get from playing aggressive defense in basketball will certainly help their footwork on a soccer field or on a baseball diamond.
  • Cal also mentions that the college coaches he knows actually tend to favor well-rounded athletes - their thought being that a player who specialized at a young age is at risk for an injury (overuse of particular muscles) and burn out.
  • The book also talks about travel teams and how for most kids, lack of playing time on a team focused only on winning can actually end up making no difference athletically for that child - and even worse can create other issues. The demands that travel teams make on families creates issues with school work, missing family time and meals and at it's worst, can create animosity or dislike for the game. At 7 or 8 years old, is this really necessary?
In the end, Cal makes a startingly simple and powerful statement that I 100% agree with:
It's not about your dreams, it's about your child's dreams.
I'd agree. Sports may not be your kid's dream - but giving them an opportunity to stay fit, learn a new game and make friends is worthy enough a goal!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Improv Class Tonight

Karen thinks I'm nutty (and she's right), but I'm doing it anyway... improv class tonight!