Fatherhood at Fifty – Halfway There…

Have I ever mentioned that I plan on living to be at least 100 years old? It’s true. I don’t even really know why I’ve always felt this way, but I’ve actually visualized living well beyond 100. Maybe even until 120! And I’m not talking about hanging on in a nursing home hooked up to oxygen tanks from age 90 sort of living. I’m talking about full on, cognizant, contributing to my family and humanity sort of living.

Here’s some other good news though. I’m not attached to that specific outcome or a number. I just intend to live a full life and I believe that there is so much more “fullness” out there in the my story yet. From a practical standpoint, living to 100 word serve me well since I’m not getting started on this fatherhood thing until my fifties. I guess you could say that if I plan on living to a hundred and I’m becoming a first time father in my early fifties, then the story of this incarnation of my life is about halfway told. I’m comfortable with that. It helps me live in a place of contentment without too much irrational fear. I still have half a life to get a few things figured out!

I even have certain level of expertise in this living to 100 thing going for me on my side. My paternal grandma Dorothy lived to age 97 if I remember correctly. We never really knew if she was older or younger than grandpa so we can’t be sure what her age actually was when she died. At least one and maybe even two of my mom’s grandparents lived to over the age of 100 and that was back in the day when the average life expectancy was more like 40-50 years. There’s a nice lady name Toni who comes to lunch with my friend Merle every couple of months. She’s 104. She’s graceful and sharp as a tack AND she comes straight from the beauty shop before lunch which makes her look not a day over 85! My first wife’s grandfather is still alive at age 110! We believe he may be the oldest living male in the entire United States. If I could figure out how to set those last two up on a date they would have 214 years of stories to share with each other. It’s like I’m surrounded by centenarian role models at every turn!

Speaking about halfway points, Christiana and I just reached one of our own. We just reached the halfway point of our pregnancy. In fact this week is the week of our 20 week ultrasound test, even though it’s actually happening in week 21. Scheduling in real world time must allow for a few variations in time and space.

The halfway point ultrasound will tell us many exciting things about our little bundle of joy. It will tell us about the position of the fetus and how things are going related to average tendencies. We will see a number of images of our little one who at last report was the size of an artichoke. I must admit that news made me feel a little strange about devouring an entire fried roman artichoke last week at dinner at my favorite Italian joint, Il Porcelino, but I got over it. Most importantly, the halfway point ultrasound will tell us the gender of our little bundle of joy, who will then have the distinct privilege of being referred to as our son or daughter instead of our little bundle of joy.  (Wagering tip: do not weight you prognostication on the fact that I mentioned one gender first over the other. At this point all possibilities are still in play equally until we officially reveal on Sunday October 1st…)

To me, the truly interesting thing about reaching the halfway point of things in life is that you have the opportunity to pause and reflect on the transition that is taking place. In one aspect of my life at age 53, I am truly becoming an elder. I lead men’s circles, I travel and speak at conferences, I have a book in progress with an editor in New York City, the motherland of publishing and writing. In another aspect of my life at the halfway point to becoming a father, I am a complete novice. I am full of uncertainty and mystery and even a little fear. I throw myself at the feet of the many mentors I have already had in my life and I welcome in more who can share their wisdom and advice on growing as a parent.

Just last week I wrote a post called Final Lap about how each chapter that closes in our lives allows us to make space for new chapters to open. In essence each Final Lap is the start of a new trip around the track or another lap across the pool if you will. It made me think about how when I’m reading a good page-turner, I don’t want the book to end so I slow down the pace of my reading as I get deeper into the story in order to savor the winding down process and delay the ending. That thought made me think even further and ask myself a hypothetical question….

What if I applied that same logic to the second half of this pregnancy…. and to the second half of my life for that matter? What if I just slowed down the pace a bit and savored a bit more? Wouldn’t that make sense in the grand scheme of things? Isn’t it me who decides whether I want to stop and smell the roses or plow them over with the lawnmower of life? I think sometimes we tell ourselves that some other driving force is in control of our energy and that we are at the mercy of a multitude of external circumstances. I’ve been a slave to that taskmaster of my Universal self for far too many years. So like a referee at a Detroit Lion’s Football game, I’m going to throw a flag on that play, call for a replay and force a 10 second runoff!

For the next 20 weeks I plan on celebrating every moment in the moment without exclusively planning for what has to happen next. Notice I said “not exclusively” instead of not at all. I’m still going to plan. 

More importantly, I think I’ve finally accepted that it’s okay to go about the second half of my life a bit slower. Not because I’m not capable of keeping up the pace, but rather because I no longer want to live at a pace that doesn’t allow for saving time to do nothing once in a while.

Lately I’ve been making a little more time to read. It helps me with my writing. My old paradigm taskmaster mindset would tell me that time spent reading would only cut into my writing time. For the past few months my new paradigm/inner referee has thrown a flag on that mindset. I’ve read and re-read a number of books that have mattered to me and I tend to pull whatever speaks to me the loudest off of the bookshelf when I’m deciding what’s next on the reading list.

A couple of days ago I pulled Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love off of the shelf because it spoke to me the loudest. I can’t decide if it’s a read or a re-read. I would swear that I’d read it before, but it feels so new to me that I’m thinking that I might have only thought that I had read it before. Either way I’m seeing it with a beginner’s mind and it has been powerful and inspiring. I have actually hoped that the book I’m working on has a similar feel to Gilbert’s masterpiece: A series of short stories told from the heart that unveil a transformation of self. I pray to be so blessed with my writing. This morning I ran across this little phrase in pat one from her time in Italy. In speaking to her friend Luca Spaghetti, Liz asks if the Italians have the same trouble as Americans in relaxing and letting go of things. He responds by saying:

“Oh No! We are the Masters of il bel far niente….” 

Translation = the beauty of doing nothing 

Twenty more weeks in one journey. I’m visualizing another 53 years in another journey. That should give me plenty of time to master the art of il bel far niente. My guess is that the secret in that mastery is to stay calm and to not try too hard at the mastery. I remain the eager student….

636119820948114856-2035670672_halfway point





Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fatherhood at Fifty – Final Lap

There are few things in life that can produce a zen like state of bliss for me as well as swimming. I love the Darth Vader-like echoing sound of my breath while I’m swimming laps or diving down underwater. Ever since I was a child my allure to water has been strong. I’ve always felt more comfortable living close to water than I felt living inland. When I’m on a warm weather vacation I can stay in the pool for hours at a time until my skin shrivels up like a raisin. It won’t surprise even the most amateur astrologer to learn that I am a water sign through and through, born right in the heart of Cancer. I may be crabby at times and I may like my shell, but get me back to water and I am nourished in every way.

Last weekend I took my final outdoor swim of the season at our neighborhood public pool. This summer more than any other in recent past, my time spent at the River Park outdoor pool was special. The thing that made it the most special for me was the fact that my wife Christiana (and our little wonder inside her belly) joined me for the majority of my visits. For the past three summers I have bought the 3-month adult lap swim pass for $40 which allows me access to the adult only swim times. The River Park public pool is typically flooded with droves of families all day long, but at the evening lap swims there are often as few as a half dozen people. Swimming laps on a summer evening has become one of my greatest joys. How lucky am I to have a wonderful Olympic size pool just minutes from my backyard?

This year over an unusually hot 4th of July weekend, I realized I hadn’t been to the pool yet this summer. It was about 5:30 pm on Saturday evening. Christiana and I were deciding what if anything to make of the rest of our night. The combination of the heat and a mid-aternoon nap had both of us feeling sluggish. A lazy night on the couch with a pizza and a movie was starting to look like the most likely plan, but both of us were restless. I looked at Christiana and said, “Would you like to go swimming?”

Her sleepy eyes perked up a bit as she answered, “Maybe? Where would we go swimming?”

I looked up the River Park pool schedule online and sure enough adult lap swim started at 5:45 pm and ran until the pool closed at 7:00 pm. I feverishly packed up our towels and other supplies to save every possible minute of my potential salvation by the water while Christiana bought our lap swim passes over the internet.  By 6:00 pm we were splashing around in wonderfully refreshing cool water! Well I was at least…

Now I’m one of those people who jumps in the pool right away no matter how cold the water is or what the outside air temperature is. Let’s just say Christiana is a bit more of a ease her way into the pool sort of person. I would say she likes to wade her way in. Christiana likes to stick a toe in the water first….and then go one step down on the ladder…. and then get in up to the waist only….and then eventually plunge underwater but only after a good bit of conversation and consternation. On this particular sizzling hot Fourth of July weekend Saturday evening I had enough time to do a number of laps before she was fully into the pool. My mind began to wonder how Christiana would fare on cooler summer evenings.

Fast forward to last weekend’s final lap swim of the season and things looked a bit different than that sizzling Fourth of July weekend evening. The sun sat a good bit lower in the sky, the pool chairs and facilities were a bit more weathered than they were at the start of the season and most importantly it was only about 60 degrees outside. There was a big part of us that considered skipping our last chance of the year, but I really wanted to go so we grabbed our swimming things and a book just in case we wanted to just sit by the pool instead. By 6:00 pm we were at the River Park pool one last time for the season along with one or two other brave souls.

In typical fashion, I walked around to the 9-foot deep end and dove right in. Even by my polar bear standards this water was a bit shocking. A stretch of August nights in the low 50s had dropped the water temperature drastically. I swam my first length and told Christiana that it would get better the more I moved so I kept swimming. For about ten minutes she tried her best to get in the pool but each time she did, she would only get to about her knee caps before she would climb back out shivering. By then I had done about 10 laps and felt pretty good. It was cool but my heart rate was up and I was getting into a groove. I could see her disappointment, not only in potentially missing out on the last swim of the season, but also in succumbing to not getting in the pool because she was too cold. I could see that she was starting to judge herself.

I knew it was a decision that she had to make for herself. She said to me, “What if it’s too cold for the baby and it’s too shocking?” I simply answered her question by saying, “Women have been swimming in cold ocean water in Ireland and other places in the world while pregnant for hundreds of years and that I was sure it would be okay….” I then continued with my laps.

On my next return length I saw that she had grabbed a kick board and was standing on the walk down staircase. I swam by her and smiled. By the time I took my next length and return she was in the pool up to her waist. As I was finishing up what was to be my final lap, I saw that she was heading towards me kicking furiously with the kick board, submerged all the way into the pool. For the next ten minutes we swam side by side and chatted. I swam a slow breast stroke with my head above water and she used the kick board and worked out her legs as she warmed up to the cold water. We did one final length together as the clock ticked its way towards the 7:00 pm closing time on the last day of the 2017 season.

As I climbed out over the edge at the end of our final lap I looked back out across the magnificent Olympic sized pool that has been such a big part of my last few summers. I looked my half full bottle of water and my trusty old goggles and the setting sun over the trees and I wondered. I wondered if I would ever be back here at River Park Pool again?

With our first child on the way and some uncertainty about our living situation there is at least the possibility that this was not just my final lap swim of the season at River Park, but perhaps my last time ever at River Park pool in general. I grabbed my phone and snapped a shot of the moment for my eyes to remember, but in truth it was the picture imprinted on my heart and mind that will forever be the most brilliant.

What I realized in that moment in time at the edge of the River Park pool was that my entire life has been full of so many final laps. It’s when we carry the memories with us but let go of the attachment to the particular circumstances that we truly have the chance to live to the fullest and grow. There will be other pools, other summers, other challenges and other things in life to dive into….either headfirst or by wading in slowly.

As a father I have so many exciting final laps ahead of me yet. Our child’s final lap of only being able to crawl will lead to the first day of walking. Final lap of kindergarten will lead to the first day of 1st grade. Final lap of training wheels will lead to that scary first ever solo journey on a two wheel bicycle. And so on and so on….As with everything in life it’s a matter of which lens you choose to view the situation.

I celebrate each the final laps ahead in my journey with the deep sense of knowing that each one opens up a infinite number of new doors to explore. For all those who have asked me how I intend to manage being in my 60s while my kids are in school I say this:

I’m ready to dive in!




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fatherhood at Fifty – Fluttering

Flutter (verb)

  1. To flap or wave quickly but irregularly
  2. To flap the wings without flying
  3. To drive into disorder or throw into confusion

There have been times in my life, even recently, where any or all of these definitions of the word flutter have applied.

There have certainly been times where I have done things or external circumstances have occurred that have thrown my life into disorder and confusion. In fact just over the last couple of weeks we faced some degree of uncertainty about our living situation and I was doing a good bit of allowing my energy to flutter into a place of confusion. That all seems to be settling now though as we have a clearer idea of how things look up until our little wonder arrives and for at least a few months after that. The rest of the answers will unfold in due time.

I’ve also been on a bit of a cliff lately, waiting to jump off. Over the past few years I have done so many things that I have never done before. I’ve been preparing the way for the next chapter of the coaching, speaking and teaching branch of my life. Toastmasters, storytelling classes and shows, hosting webinars, speaking at empowerment conferences, moderating men’s circles and working with one-on-one clients and groups have all been very rewarding and have served me well. All the while I’ve felt like I was missing one big piece in the puzzle. A major calling card if you will. The book that has been inside me and has been on again off again for the better part of three years now has been the shadow that has hung over me like a heavy cloak. For the last month or two I’ve been doing a courting dance with a literary agent and editor in New York, but I’ve been hesitant to take the leap of faith and start to dive into the project full tilt. One could say I’m flapping my wings without doing the flying.

My favorite current definition of fluttering though is the one that’s happening inside Christiana’s belly over the last week or so and the other night it happened in a most powerful way!

We have chosen to work with a wonderful organization called the West Suburban Midwives for the delivery of our baby. It is a team of five partners that have delivered thousands of babies over the last twenty years. What’s extra special is that they are affiliated with West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park and the birthing center (including the option for water birth) is located in the hospital itself. To us it’s the best of both worlds of traditional midwifery and modern medical facilities.

At our very first appointment where we had our early pregnancy evaluation and first ultrasound, the midwife we met with was going over some of the things we will be experiencing during our 40 week journey to parenthood. It was then that I first heard the word fluttering used in the context of our future child’s first movement. The midwife we were meeting with, who was named Tara, had recently had her own baby and told us that sometime around week 15 or 16 Christiana might start to feel some movement inside her uterus. It wouldn’t be pushing or kicking at first it would be more like fluttering.

We’ve also been watching the weekly video series called “What to Expect when You’re Expecting”. Each week we are told what size our baby is compared to a fruit or vegetable. So far our little wonder has been a raspberry, a kumquat, a fig, and an avocado just to name a few delicacies. Each week we also see a artist’s rendering of what the fetus might look like as it goes through the various stages of development. Our host in the video is author Heidi Murkoff and a few weeks ago she pointed out the development of the beginnings of the arms and noted that out at some point around week 16 the arms would start to flutter.

Sure enough, last week after her massage Christiana said that after lying on her side for an hour while awake during her massage she got her first ever sense of movement and that it totally felt exactly like fluttering. How exciting!

Then again on Friday night while we were lying in bed it happened in an even more pronounced fashion. Over the years I’ve done a lot of hands-on energy work. I’ve practiced and studied Reiki as well as pranic healing and many people, including Christiana, have said that at times my hands can be like infernos of heat and energy. This past Friday night I was dozing off early while recovering from some oral surgery earlier in the day. Christiana was reading in bed, I had my head resting on her left shoulder and my right hand on her belly over the sheets.

As I drifted into that state halfway between sleep and wake – the state where all the magic happens as I like to call it – I was dreaming of connecting with our little wonder and all of a sudden I awoke to Christiana saying:

“Oh My God what are you doing?!” 

She seemed to be one-third startled, one third laughing, and one third really excited. I was mostly delirious with exhaustion and a good dose of Ibuprofen and steroids to minimize the swelling and inflammation in my mouth.

She proceeded to explain to me that she felt like the baby had come right up to the edge of her lower abdomen as if trying to get to the energy. It was like our little one was flapping or fluttering their way up to Daddy’s hand to send a message back that the energy had been received. I took my hand from outside the cover and placed it directly on Christiana’s bare belly. She asked me if I could feel anything?

While I couldn’t feel any movement with my hand, I could certainly feel it in my heart – and I also felt the few little tears of joy running down my cheek as my head rested on her shoulder and I drifted in and out of peaceful sleep. Why the tears of joy? Because I knew it wouldn’t be long before that flutter would be a kick and that kick would be a cry and that cry would be a real life smile.

I think I’m ready to take that leap off the cliff now. There are more stories to write and tell and plenty of flights that are yet to be taken. Like all great flights though, this one begins with a little flapping of ever-growing wings for all of our family. Even though he or she hasn’t even been born yet, our little wonder has already reminded me of a great lesson in life – all of our future journeys will begin with a little fluttering – in every sense of the word…



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fatherhood at Fifty – Pretzels & Rocks

Sometimes I wonder how much work will go into this being a father thing? There are times when I think that the task will be overwhelming and there are times when I think it will be a like a day at the beach. My guess is a it will be a little bit of both. I’m sure I won’t always be able to take off for three hours like I did this morning for a long bike ride on the lakefront and a nice swim at the beach. I’m okay with that change though. I’ve pretty much been able to do whatever I want whenever I want for most of my life.

unnamed-16So about that swim at the lakefront? This morning I once again returned to my favorite beach on Chicago’s lakefront – the Hollywood beach at the extreme north end of the city. Hollywood beach is not served by any nearby parking lot so the crowds are often much smaller than the other Chicago beaches. That little matter is specially important on a busy weekend like this one with Air and Water Show in town. Hollywood beach also has an unusually gradual slope for a lakefront beach. Whereas most Lake Michigan beaches drop off drastically a short distance out from the shore, Hollywood beach is no more than knee deep for 25 yards, waist deep out to 50 yards and it only gets over my head deep when I’m about 100 yards out. The sand is quite soft for non-oceanfront sand and the water is especially clear because there are almost no rip currents. Combine all that with the fact that my mom and dad lived in a high-rise right along the shore of this particular beach when I was born, and Hollywood beach has a very special place in my heart.

This morning there was a special magic to my first plunge. I was at the tail end of a two hour ride. It was hotter than it has been for the last few weeks. The water temperature was a near perfect 74 degrees. The water was still and unusually clear. I splashed around for about ten minutes and then walked back up onto the shore and basked in the sun of a crystal clear Chicago morning. I could even feel a special tingle in the energy of the day. Maybe it was the pre-eclipse energy and maybe it was some nostalgia, but I felt close to a number of spirit beings I like to talk to that are part of my past like my father and my grandparents and a few of my other Angels on the other side of the veil.

I stood in the sunshine with my eyes closed and held my arms out as far as I could to my sides with my palms facing upwards towards the heavens as I took in long, slow, nourishing breaths. I tilted my head back just enough to feel the rays of the sun hitting every part of my face and I lifted my heart center up a little higher by pushing my chest forward. I’m not totally sure if I was in this standing trance for a few seconds or a few minutes, but I am sure that I looked equal parts interesting and equal parts crazy to any of the handful of people that were nearby.

My trance was broken by the sounds of birds screeching and wings flapping and a young girl yelling at the top of her lungs. When I opened my eyes there were a few dozen seagulls swarming around precariously close to my standing body – which must have made the whole scene look closer to the crazy side of the scale than the interesting side to anyone watching from the distance by the way!

If you’ve ever been snapped quickly out of a deep meditation before, you know it sort of feels like waking up in the middle of the night to a smoke detector or a tornado siren going off. The contrast between the reality that you are traveling through in your dreams vs. the illusion that is unfolding in your current human experience is so paramount that it takes a few breaths your brain to start processing information. Yes, I did in fact say the dream was the reality and the waking state was the illusion but that’s a topic for a different blog post.

Anyways, over the next few breaths my brain began to process the scene of seagulls swarming around my body and what looked to be a mom and her three daughters set up on a beach blanket about 20 feet away from me. The youngest girl must have been less than two years old. She had white blonde hair and was playing in the sand without a care in the world while staring up at the birds and laughing. Her middle sister, who I would guess must have been about five,  was running after the birds much like I would suspect my wife Christiana must have done countless times in her own youth because I’ve seen her do it as an adult a number of times as well. The middle sister had long, wavy sand colored hair and she was carrying a bag of pretzels that she was throwing at the seagulls in an effort to get them to come closer to her. Wherever the pretzels landed a group of gulls would dive down and try to be the first to seize the new offering. The middle sister seemed at ease with the energy of the moment and moved much like her wavy hair moved in the wind. The oldest of the three sister must have been about nine or ten and had darker brown hair; the same color as her mother who was sitting on her blanket reading a magazine as the whole story was unfolding. The older sister had a much different body energy than her two, younger, more carefree sisters.

unnamed-17Over the next few breaths as I came more back into my post-meditative state, I noticed that the oldest sister was picking up rocks and throwing them at the seagulls while screaming at the top of her lungs, “Get away from us!” Each time a flock would swarm down to seize one of then newly tossed pretzels, the older sister would flinch and hunch down closer to the sand as if trying to take cover. She would then bounce up and run at the gulls and throw another rock while her sister tossed out more pretzel bait behind her back. I couldn’t help but stand there and smile at the whole scene unfolded with the carefree white haired girl, the totally distracted mom and the two very different sisters. As I stood there with a smile on my face and the sun shining down on my whole self I was reminded of something I’ve thought a number of times in the past:

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could live out all of our days with the same pure and organic connection to all that IS that we are born with…” 

I’ve long been a fan of looking up the symbolism of animal spirit guides when a certain animal crosses my path and I take particular notice of the situation. I can think of times in the past when a cardinal, or a hawk, or a coyote, or deer meant so much more than the surface of the situation might have suggested. When I looked up the meaning of a seagull spirit animal crossing your path one of the best explanations I found was this: 

“When a seagull flies across your path, it’s time to take a new perspective on things. Take a step back and look at the scene through a different lens. Soar above the drama of your own emotional boundaries and find creative new ways to move forward…” 

As Christiana and I get ready to begin our journey as parents I’m reminded that the lens we choose to view our lives through is our choice. Where we live or what we do to provide sustenance or which circles of people move in and out of our lives or how we choose to persevere and protect ourselves are all fluid things. Some days may feel like laughing in the sand, some days we will dive for pretzels and some days may even be filled with a few rocks.  If all the days of our lives can be lived with the reminder that to be young at heart is to live as close to the IS as is humanly possible….then I’m pretty sure this Fatherhood thing is going to be like a day at the beach! 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Fatherhood at Fifty – The Illusion of Control

“You teach best what you most need to learn…” 

Have you ever heard that phrase or a paraphrase with a similar message? Have you experienced a truth in your own life that makes the phrase resonate with you inner teacher and/or inner student? Do you know the source of the above words of wisdom?

The words come from a passage in one of the most profound books I have read in this lifetime; Illusions by Richard Bach. Bach is best known for his groundbreaking best-seller Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, but is has always been Illusions that has intrigued the storyteller and mystic in me the most.

unnamed-15Illusions is the ultimate teacher apprentice story: It is a hero’s journey of epic proportion disguised in a 140-page, easy read that can effortlessly be consumed in one rainy afternoon or an average length plane trip. If you have never had the pleasure of reading the book cover to cover I strongly encourage you to take it on your next adventure. Once read it can be picked up again and again and read piecemeal, somehow making to deliver the exact message you need at any given point in your own life journey.

The larger part of the passage that leads up the the powerful one-liner above reads as follows:

“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know it just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a fake messiah.

The simplest questions are the most profound. Where were you born? Where is your home? Where are you going? What are you doing? Think about these once in a while, and watch your answers change.

You teach best what you most need to learn…” 

Hold those powerful words in mind for a few moments as I share with you my own story and recent opportunity for awakening.

About a week ago I had just finished a virtual gathering with one of the many groups of inspirational people that I am blessed to travel through this lifetime with. This particular group is made up of like minded, positive energy male incarnates who gather once a month to talk about things that men are sometimes not very good at talking about. We talk about things like fear, emotions, vulnerability and the like. While it is a circle that I started, it is not what I would consider to be “my” circle. It is “our” circle in that I am both a student and a teacher in the circle and while I may moderate the call each month, countless others have shared their wisdom and leadership through the years.

This month we had a very casual call with no specific focus topic where we all shared what we are currently working on in our lives. As we made our rounds, I noticed a particular theme developing. I found myself continually noticing and commenting on the concepts of non-attachment, of allowing things to unfold organically and refraining from micro-managing within our daily lives. At the end of the call I felt very much at peace. I felt like we had all done some great group and individual coaching of each other. At the end of the call I asked each circle member to offer me one piece of fatherly advice.  I ended the call with a deep sense of knowing that my journey towards fatherhood would unfold exactly as it was intended to regardless of any external circumstances. As I began to clean up from the call and put away all my video equipment, I felt like I was floating on clouds of peace and contentment. My state of peace and ease lasted a full ten minutes until I made the ill fated decision to open up my email and take one last peek for the night.

Amidst the standard junk email and Facebook updates I came across an email with some rather unexpected and unsettling information. It seemed that the place we have been living for the last four years was about to be put up for sale. In an instant I went from a place of invincibility to a place of irrational fear. What if we had to move out because the building sold and new owners hated us? What if we had our baby in February and had to move out in March because our lease was expiring? What if we wound up homeless with a newborn infant? Let’s just say I felt like I was riding a surfboard of emotion and fear in a sea of tidal waves. Not so invincible now, are you Mr. positive thinker?

“You teach best what you most need to learn…” 

Over the next few hours as the news settled in I gradually began to let go of my inner panic. I put the Xanax bottle back into the bottom of the drawer where I keep it just in case, even though I almost never take it. I started to realize that there were as many possibilities that we could stay in our current home as there were that we would need to move out. Eventually over a period of a few days I even reached the place that I usually try to tell others to try to get to when dealing with change and uncertainty. I reminded myself that if staying in our amazing home that we love so well home didn’t happen organically, that maybe that was a sign the we needed to move on with trust and grace.

My guess is that fatherhood is going to look a lot like that that surfboard riding. The good news is that I have so many bodies of water to explore yet and so many teachers and students to help me continue the learning. I’ve made some progress over the last few years. I’ve gone from needing to be in control of pretty much every aspect of my life, to understanding that control is an illusion. Even when we think we are in control we are merely clinging to a set of ideals and beliefs that we think will lead us to contentment and peace. It is in that clinging that we resist the natural current that the Divine Universe has in mind for us. I may not know exactly what the next few chapters of the story will look like, but I will say that I’m excited to ride the river…

“Once upon a time there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self. 

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks at the bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth. 

But one creature said at last, ‘I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust the current knows where it is going. I shall let go and let it take me where it will. Clinging I shall die of boredom…” 

Richard Bach – Illusions Chapter 1: Verses 11-14

Prophet like words from a master writer, an inspiration in verse, and nicereminder that it is always a good day to grab your journal, post your next blog, or write the next chapter of the story of your life…even if you don’t have any idea how it’s going to end!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fatherhood at Fifty – The Lonely Soul

Here we are in week 12 of our amazing journey to parenthood. What an amazing ride it has been so far and I’m really enjoying sharing pieces of the journey through my blog. We are still working on creating a new dedicated blog site for these musings within my new dedicated website. For now, what I’m calling these Fatherhood at Fifty posts will continue to nestle in nicely here on Jimswhimz.

For this week’s entry I am going to share a little story I just wrote. As many of you know, I love to write and tell stories. Over the last few years I’ve created dozens if not even a hundred stories for storytelling shows, Moth competitions, Toastmasters speeches and other events and writing projects. This past week I was scheduled to give a speech at my Toastmasters of Lincoln Park club. I had yet to write anything for the speech so I started to think that it would be nice to do something about the impending arrival of our first child.

I thought about doing an Icebreaker 2.0 sort of speech where I just talked a bit about my life and how I’ve gotten to where I’m at now. I also toyed around with the idea of doing something from the humorous speaking manual and writing a parody about the days leading up to us finding out that we were pregnant. Then I picked up my Storytelling manual and realized that my next project in that manual was project #4 – The Touching Story. Boom! I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the speech.

I would write a Dr. Suess-like short story that summarized the 50-ish years of my life and how I’ve gotten to where I’m at now – all in about 1000 words so I could deliver it in seven minutes. Yikes! I’d read it like a story would be read in an episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood – cardigan sweater and all. Holy Moly! If I did it all well my hope was that it would be one part theater, one part humor and one part touching story.

I’m glad to say that I had a ton of fun putting it all together and even more fun delivering the speech. I’d love to hear what you think about my little story. Once upon a time I would have never had the courage to share it, but like every good Hero’s journey, our awakenings inspire us to change and grow…


“One upon a time there was a lonely soul…..

And the lonely soul wandered through time and space through the ENTIRE Universe wondering what it would be like to have soulmates…or tribe members…or anything at all to make the lonely soul less solitary and so alone…

And then one day that lonely soul happened by our planet earth and noticed it for its unique beauty and for all the possibilities….

The lonely soul stopped and wondered and thought about what it might be like to stay for a while and see what life on this planet earth might be like?

And just like all thoughts….the lonely soul’s thought became energy… and that energy put in motion all the possibilities of how this lonely soul might carve out a lifetime in time and space on this fabulous planet earth….

And with that thought in motion all the Angels and Gods and other Souls in the Universe began to act…

An infinite number of possibilities began to present themselves to this lonely soul. Billions of choices of free will and destiny in an single instant in time began to take shape…

And then suddenly the lonely soul had chosen it’s next story…and that story would become a little boy human born to this planet earth on July 11th, 1964….

And that little boy human was me…

And low and behold the lonely soul that became the little boy human was not so lonely any more. He had not only selected the finest possible parents he could have ever hoped for, but they had also selected him. And the little boy human’s parents praised him and raised him and loved him for all the years as he grew stronger and older and more experienced in life….

Until one day it was time for that little boy human to go off on his own and blaze his own trail and see what this planet Earth had to offer. Now little did he know at the time that there would be SO much more to learn and SO much more fear and SO much self-doubt and SO much more loneliness left on the path…but walk the path he did.

The now bigger boy human grew into a young man and left his parents and his dog named Snoopy and went to college at a University in a place on planet earth called Michigan, where he eventually met his first ever new soul partner who would later become his wife and share his life for many years to come. In those years to come the young man human would try many things to quench his desire to live life to the fullest….

He would try kite-flying and running and bonsai cultivation and martial arts and cooking and traveling and yoga and working in a variety of fields….

All the while he never seemed to find the answer to what it was that his heart was truly longing for….

And over time the young man human made and said goodbye to many friends. He said goodbye to the human that was his father when his father went back to the other side. And then eventually he said goodbye to the soul partner he met in college when it became clearer that their time in this life journey had served all the purposes that it was intended to serve.

By now that little boy human had become a middle-aged man….a man who wondered at times why he had ever even bothered to leave his lonely soul status wandering the Universe in time and space, in trade for this VERY human experience that had become even MORE painfully lonely than what he had known on the other side….

And just when he thought he was about to completely break….the middle aged man realized that before you could break…..you needed to crack….and for the first time in his human experience he let the crack happen…..and then suddenly the light came in!

And with that light coming in, the middle aged human man started to re-think all the possibilities. He thought about the many hats he had yet to try to wear in this lifetime like loving listener, and humble helper, and fantastic friend….and father….

And all those things that seemed at one point to be impossible, suddenly seemed possible again. The man opened his mind….and more importantly…..he opened his heart… and sure enough the Universe sent him an opportunity. The Universe sent him an opportunity to re-invent himself and to fulfill a soul contract that had been set in motion hundreds if not thousands of years ago….

His new and true soulmate appeared. His soul tribe began to identify themselves one human….and one spirit at a time. Some of them new souls and some of them souls he had traveled with through time and space before….

And with each passing day the lonely soul/human boy/now becoming an elder man grew more content….more at peace…. less fearful and less lonely than he had ever been before. He tried new things that he had never tried before. He learned from new mentors he had always longed to find before. He began to write more and speak more and have more confidence in sharing his own message and sharing his own story as an inspiration to others to also share theirs….

And then one day, one day very recently he got the message that he had been waiting his entire lifetime to hear. The one that his heart was longing for…..even long before he knew about the longing…

The lonely soul/human boy/growing young man/middle aged wanderer/becoming an elder man got the message that another soul had put in a request to the Universe….

The request to come in to this planet called Earth….and call him Dad!

And so it continued….And once and for all….after many climbs and many falls….the idea of ever being alone completely disappeared for the lonely soul….never to re-appear again…”



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fatherhood at Fifty – Daddy Cravings

Welcome to week two of the writing project I’m calling “Fatherhood at Fifty.” As I said last week, I have a strong vibration that I need to write and share my feelings and experiences as this amazing life gift unfolds for my wife Christiana and I. My goal is to post once a week. If the energy shifts my frequency may increase or decrease. I’ll try to let the ideas and emotions flow organically and see what we create.

It’s week 11 of our pregnancy. So far we’ve had no unusual cravings in the early stages. “I have a taste for chicken” or “I’m not in the mood for meat tonight” are the closest thing my wife Christiana has shown to needing any particular type of food. There have been no midnight runs for pickles and ice cream. I’ve prepared no bowls of pasta with maple syrup and mini- marshmallows. There has of course been plenty of what we now affectionately call Emergency pizza….Emergency pizza is that single slice that is always available to her to fill in the gap between meals.

Christiana and I both try to eat a diet that is limited in gluten and dairy, which makes traditional pizza public enemy number one: she is very appropriately living by a different set of rules for the next 30 weeks. I on the other hand do not have an organic reason for my bump to increase in size, so I usually still try to refrain from too many starchy carbs. Note that the word usually is stated with emphasis!

Last Monday night after my chiropractor appointment I had one mission in mind. I wanted to treat myself to my favorite pizza for my birthday, which happened to be the following day. On the very special occasion of announcing our pregnancy to the world over the weekend and my birthday in combination, I figured it was the perfect day to bend the rules.

My plan was perfectly crafted. I had a rare night off with nothing on the agenda. No Toastmasters meeting. No coaching sessions. No social plans with friends or family. No task list to attend to. Just me and myself and the perfect 16″ pie after my massage and chiropractor appointment. The best part of the whole plan was that my favorite pizza joint – ORD Pizza – is on Montrose Avenue just blocks from my chiropractor. I could order and pick up my perfect pie on the way home and be nestled into my happy place by 7:00 pm with a glass of wine and some chill music.

I got off the brown line train at Montrose and walked anxiously to the East, getting ready to stop at ORD and place my order for pickup after my appointment. I could already feel the perfectly crisp crust in my mouth. I could already taste the sweet, salty and spicy NY style sauce on my tongue. I imaginarily savored the Italian herb chicken and spinach and special cheese blend as if I was already eating it in the moment. As I got closer to the entryway, I noticed it was unusually dark inside. When I arrived at the door I saw a sign taped to the window. The horror started to set in…

I stood in front of the dark ORD pizza and read the saddest words I ever could have read:

“ORD will be closed today for special circumstances. We look forward to serving you in the future. Sorry for any inconvenience.” 

Sorry for any inconvenience!!! I had planned my entire life of 53 years around eating this particular pizza on this very special day. I was dismayed. I was confused. I was broken in the worst possible pizza needing way. I went to my appointment and pondered all the lesser possibilities for dinner.

As I benefitted from the talented hands of my healing practitioners, I slowly began to realize that the world was not likely to end if I didn’t have ORD pizza tonight. I considered the option of ordering from Jimmy’s in Lincoln square, my second favorite pizzeria. The only problem was that they did not offer Italian herb chicken as an ingredient. I considered eating the leftover fajitas I had in the fridge. Not a bad choice, but certainly not the choice I was longing for on this night. Then I suddenly remembered how I used to make pizza at home so often in the past.

I started to wonder how long it had been since  made a homemade pizza? The Kitchenaid  mixer was still in the storage locker since we had moved to our new place over three years ago. I hadn’t bought a packet of yeast in I don’t know how long. I concluded that it must have been at least three years since I had made a pizza from scratch. Never afraid of a culinary challenge, I decided I would make Baby Herbert their first homemade pizza!

I didn’t just want this chicken and spinach and sausage pizza that I was about to undertake. I NEEDED this pizza. It was official. I was having my very first insatiable Daddy craving! Without any further hesitation I was off to Tony’s Fresh Market!

Interestingly, Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe is directly across the street from the Tony’s Fresh Market in our neighborhood. When I got off the #11 Lincoln Avenue bus and started to head to Tony’s I had that classic second thought moment….

“I probably will spend just as much on ingredients as I will on a large pizza and it will take me a lot longer until I’m eating if I do it from scratch instead of just….”

NO! I stopped myself mid-thought and remembered this was going to be the first ever homemade pizza for Baby Herbert AND that I wanted herb chicken on my pizza AND that it would be worth the expense and the effort. I walked into Tony’s and began to fill my basket.

Organic free range chicken breasts; sweet Italian turkey sausage; crushed San Marzano tomatoes; good quality part skim mozzarella; aged asiago; fresh organic spinach; King Arthur brand specialty bread flour; a bottle of decent red wine; sliced at the deli pepperoni; mozzarella di bufala; fresh basil; onions and garlic and many other odds and ends later I arrived at the checkout to purchase the ingredients to make the most amazing homemade pizza.

“$67.43. Oh my…This better turn out good!”

When I arrived at home I fired up the charcoal grill and poured myself that glass of wine that I was going to enjoy when I sat down to eat the pizza I would have otherwise bought. As it turned out, I would have time for a few glasses of wine over the next several hours.

I made the dough and kneaded it to smooth before letting it it double in size over the next hour. I slow roasted the Italian sausage in the oven, just the way the old Italian ladies from the market in Little Italy taught me dozens of years ago. I made the sauce and let it simmer with the whole onion cut in half so it flavored the sauce without becoming a part of it. I seasoned the chicken breast with oregano, basil, olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper before grilling it to juicy perfection. I grated the cheeses and blended them together. When all the components were ready I rolled out the dough and started assembling the pies.

Now you may note that I just said pies, as in plural. If you know anything about making pizza dough, then you know that in order to get a good dough consistency you have to make a large enough batch. In the past I would often save half the dough for a later day, but this time around I was going all in. I was going to make my favorite pizza AND Christiana’s favorite pizza on the same night. The only question that now remained was whether or not I would finish these pies before Christiana got home from work around midnight.

Picture a scene from the Food TV network show called Iron Chef where individuals compete to complete a meal with a time limit . By the time I was done assembling the pizzas, I had flour on every flat surface of the kitchen and many parts of my body. Various cooking utensils and other random items had hit the floor. Dishes and pans were strewn from end to end of our various counters. I even dropped and entire box of 1000 toothpicks into the sausage roasting pan and all over the range. Some would argue that I would have been better off to make that stop at Jimmy’s on the way home instead of going to all this trouble. More than a few times I pondered that same question myself!

In the end I wound up having the most amazing night. Yes, both I and the kitchen got a bit messy. Yes, By the time I finally ate at 11:00 pm I was light headed from hunger, and perhaps a few too many glasses of wine? Yes, it may have cost twice as much as if I bought the pizzas. Yes, my crust was a little too thick for my preference. None of those things mattered.

Over the years people have always asked me why I love cooking so much. I have many answers. I find cooking relaxing. I love the art of cooking and being able to create something special from a collection of ingredients. I love to eat well and I love pairing food and wine. Mostly I enjoy cooking because it provides a platform for me to nurture the ones I love by giving them a piece of myself in the form of home prepared food. In short, Food is one of my Love Languages….

I’ve had so much fun and spread so much love in cooking for family members and friends over the years. Until last week’s homemade pizza night, I had never even considered how much love one might have to give in cooking for their own child. I may have thought that my first ever Daddy craving was driven by the idea of eating pizza with chicken and spinach. In reality it was created by my insatiable desire to share my love through food.

By midnight Christiana had made it home from work. I had cleaned up pretty well, but some of the evidence of the chaos still remained. I reheated a few pieces of her pepperoni, green pepper and mushroom pizza, put them on a plate and then put myself to bed with the knowing that a new generation of Herberts was about to get their first taste of Daddy’s love via food. Tomorrow I would wake up and it would be my birthday. I had already received the greatest gift I have ever known…


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment