My grandfather, a veteran

This weekend I was thinking about my grandfather, John Lerda, who served in the United States Army during World War II. He passed away four years ago but he’s had a major influence in my life. I consider him one of my heroes.

Why?

His family immigrated from Italy a few years before the Great Depression. They had nothing. His family of eleven lived in a small house on a chicken farm, where they worked to make ends meet. My grandfather was born in America. He was the eighth of nine children.

At sixteen, World War II began and my grandfather, like many of his friends, left high school, lied about their age, and joined the war. He was trained then sent to Europe where he fought in Africa, Italy, and went into France after D-Day. He was a part of the liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge. In the end he was fortunate not to lose his life like so many others and made it out of the war physically unscathed except for some shrapnel from a grenade.

Though he never really talked about what happened. His usual one sentence observation of war was that it was the worst experience you could ever imagine. The only parts of the war he would talk about where some of the small victories you hear from veterans. One of his favorite stories was telling us about the time he, and his fellow soldiers, were starving because they ran out of rations somewhere in Europe when they stumbled upon a field of cabbage. He always insisted that eating those cabbages was the best meal of his entire life.

As I think about him now, it makes me realize how little I knew of the man before he became my grandpa. It’s a sad thing. I never served, because he begged me not to enlist after 9/11, so I’ll also never be able to understand war.

He’d always tell me that he grew in the best time because he started out with nothing and at the end of his life he experienced everything: He survived the Great Depression, survived a war, married the love of his life, started his own business, traveled all over the world, raised four children, and lived to see his grandchildren.  Our two lives are drastically different.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to understand his life. The only thing I can do is appreciate, men like him, who have served and who made the decision to give their lives, regardless of if they ended up losing them or not, so that we could live in a place like America.

Responsibilities, rewards, & sacrifice 

Some days you have all these plans to accomplish everything on your todo list. Only to be sidetracked by family, work, or some other type of responsibility. Today, I wanted to complete an eight mile run. I woke up around 5:30am only to have my daughter wake up about ten minutes later.

My plan was officially sidetracked. No run today. There are two ways I could have handled this situation: I could complain to my wife so she’d watch her and we’d both be annoyed, decide to not work out the rest of the day, or embrace the fact that this little girl will only want to work up early just so I can hold her for only a little while longer and realize that I can figure out another time to get my run in today or the rest of the week.

The easy thing is to complain about not having the time or things not going your way. That’s all bullshit, not productive, and you won’t hear me do it. Instead I make the time to get the things I really want to do accomplished. If I can’t run today then so be it, maybe there is another form of physical activity I can do while I’m with my kids, or could I go for a run after they go to bed?

That’s a good idea. The next time my goals for the morning are interrupted maybe I’ll try getting out after they’ve went to sleep.  I only have three weeks left until the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  It’s time to get in those final miles so I can have a fun race day.

Me time

Me time

Last Friday, my wife went out with some friends and I stayed home to watch the kids. After putting the kids to bed, I sat on the couch and did something I hadn’t done in sometime, some “me time.” I had a beer, read some of my current book (The Big Short by Michael Lewis), and even re-watched the season finale of Game of Thrones. It felt good to unwind. The past week, I was feeling a little burned out. All the speeches, blog posts, and trying to keep up with all of my other goals was beginning to wear on me. I needed to relax. A few years ago, I would have thought this was being lazy and felt guilty about wasting sometime I could have spent accomplishing another task. Over the past few years, I worked hard on self improvement and awareness. I’ve listened to everything Brene Brown has written, and it’s helped me to figure out that Play is more important and then work. I try to make time for it, but it’s easier said than done.

To be fair, I think I get more time to myself than my wife.  We’re both working hard to achieve all of our to-dos.  We take care of the kids, give them attention, we spend time with our extended family on the weekends, we have an almost endless list of places to go and people to see, and we still need to get all the basic things done around the house like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and yard work.  I know what we have to do is no more than your average parent.  It’s simply what’s expected of all of us.  Still, everyone needs time to breakaway and have some time for themselves.  It’s easy to forget that in our society.

I’m trying to figure out ways to give my wife and I more time to ourselves that allows us to recharge, and puts us both in the best possible position to succeed in what we want to accomplish.

Four years later

Four years ago, my father passed away.  Usually this day is filled with regret.  A day filled with thinking about all the things we were going to do someday: the places we were going to travel (fishing trips like Canada or the Final Four, the things he wanted to do (retire and take some cookie lessons), and the real conversations we didn’t get to have.

Instead of focusing on all the regrets I have.  I want to start a new tradition. The tradition of focusing on the things I’m grateful. That’s why today instead of focusing on the things I regret, I’m focusing on feeling grateful.

That’s why I spent the day with my wife and kinds.  I thought about the things my dad taught me, the lessons I learned, and the goals I’m achieving  because of the things my father taught.

Snow Day

Snow Day

As a child you love it anytime it snows but it’s especially when it snows enough during the week to cancel school for the day. A snow day is probably one of the best days of a child’s life. The day is usually spent outside sled ridding and having fun with friends and family

As a teen it’s still great to get a day off from school and you haven’t yet passed the socially acceptable age to keep you from sled ridding all day long.

As a adult without children, there are two paths that emerge. People who ski or snowboard and those who don’t. The former group of people love the winter months. The later either get sick of the people who love to ski or snowboard because they view most of them as spoiled yuppie kids who spent their childhood spending their winter month weekends at their parent’s chalet, or they would just rather sit inside with an adult beverage and watch the snow fall like in, A Christmas Story.

As an adult with kids, you probably dislike the snow during the week either because it ruins your commute or you need to find an alternate form of babysitting while your kids have the day off from school. The positive is you can finally go sled ridding and have snowball fights with your children.

That’s one of the great things about having kids.  If you were the lone adult without kids sled ridding at the park.  Most people would think you’re pretty weird.  They would also tell their kids to stay away from you.

If you have kids, you’re just being a father.

Let it snow.

Another woman changed my life

Another woman changed my life

I didn’t know it at the time.  I guess you could say I was ignorant but then it happened.  Not long ago I thought I had all the woman I could possibly need in my life.  My wife, my mother, grandmothers, and all the other strong woman in my family and extended family. Then she showed up and shattered every expectation.

It’s only been one year. One hell of a year.  You’ve changed my life.  Turned me into someone I never thought I could be.  Showed me true love.

In your path you’ve broken down every one of my barriers, stole my heart, and taught what it means to love.

To my wife, I’m sorry.  My heart as been stolen by another younger lady.  She is my moon and sun.  My days rises and sets upon her arrival.  The first time we meet I knew it to be true. Every day since has been the best day of my life while I got the chance to know you.

Your likes, dislikes, and the ways to make you smile.  You’re my jolly little girl. The happiest person I’ve ever had the chance to meet.

My heart is full.  Now that you are in my life. I wake up every day thinking about how to make your life better, make you happier, and how to make you proud.  It’s what I’ll do the rest of my life.

It has been the best year of my life.  It should not be surprising but it is. I thought I knew what I was in for but I had no idea.  I didn’t realize my life would change forever until I first laid eyes on you in the hospital and called you, “Roo.”

Happy birthday my little girl.

I will love you forever,

Dad

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Saturday Morning Cartoons

There are times we you need to focus on the hustle, goals, and daily improvements. Especially, when you start a family it’s more important to realize when you need to take some time not just for yourself but to spend quality time with your family.

These moments for me, during the week,?are right when I get home from work and after dinner, then after the kids go to bed I go back to work. On the weekends, I still wake up around 5am, before anyone wakes up, so I can get some work done. That way I can spend the rest of the day doing what’s important in life. Playing with my kids, spending time with family & friends, and drinking a glass of wine with my wife.

I know everyone wants to concentrate on the hustle but at the end of your life people don’t look back look regretting the time they should have spent working. They feel regret about the time they missed with someone they loved. 

Doing something you’re passionate about is great but don’t forget to live a full life. Go cultivate some relationships, find a new friend, someone to love and reciprocates that love, or repair / strengthen a current relationship.

Life is about sharing in experiences with other people. Life can’t and shouldn’t be done alone. 

Go find someone to share your part of the world.