The Greatest Dad Blogger Of Them All Part Deux

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The joy is in the journey but we don’t always recognize those moments as they occur. We want to, we hope to but we are often too busy with life to slow down and notice what is happening.

Too busy raising our kids, working, relating in our relationships and trying to find time to keep that piece of who we were or think we want to be.

Sometimes I think that SEO is killing writers. Sometimes I think our need to wonder and worry about how to promote our words in a way that ensures they aren’t given short shrift is wreaking havoc on our creativity.

One of my non-patented secrets for writing is that I am 298.5 pounds of child. That curly haired boy with the green eyes and olive skin called Jack never grew up completely. He got a little bit bigger and his hair got a bit less curly but he didn’t disappear. He just became a father and learned how to  tune out the child inside. The Greatest Dad Blogger

Almost Ten Thousand Posts

There are almost ten thousand posts here and that is part of why I sometimes quote myself. I want new readers to be exposed to old posts and I want to tap into those old posts to see if my thoughts/ideas/feelings have changed.

I teach the children to think critically and ask themselves why they believe what they do. I teach them to not be afraid to change their minds and to be willing to say they have changed their mind because upon reflection it made sense to do so.

People aren’t logical and we frequently make decisions based upon emotion and without real thought. I am not exempt from that and I don’t like admitting I was wrong, but if I am going to be a good dad it is just part of the process.

That is because learning never stops for the kids or for me.

And that is all tied into why I like reading What I Meant To Say and A Letter To The Universe.

Silly Yet Effective Blogging Tricks

I am quite serious about What Happens When No One Reads Your Best Work? It is something I think about because posts like And The Rocket’s Red Glare are far more important to me than The 25 Most Annoying Bloggers & Why You Can’t Sleep With Them.

But if I had posted them at the same time there would be no doubt in my mind which one would generate more traffic and shares.

If you asked me to tell you which posts were my best I am not certain which ones I would point you to. I might ask you to provide more details about what you are looking for. Are you interested in my fiction, tales about my family/parenting or business advice.

It would help if you gave me more details but if you didn’t I am not sure which ones I would refer you to because these posts are similar to my children. I love them equally even though they are the same yet different.

Look at my About Jack page and you’ll see a wide variety of posts.

Been thinking about these things again because some potential writing gigs popped up and I was asked to show off my portfolio which leads me into guest post drama.

Guest Post Challenges

I have written quite a few guest posts, used to do them on a regular basis because I figured it was a great way to build relationships and meet new people.

Except two challenges crept up from doing these:

  1. I bill hourly for business and am very conscious of how much time I put in and I discovered the return wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
  2. Some of the blogs I wrote for shut down and the link juice was lost and since I didn’t know they were closing up shop it left me with some broken links. Not the biggest problem, but…

Anyhoo, I don’t have anything close to the time I used to have so it became more important to me to focus upon writing for my blogs. Dad’s Most Important Job is taking care of my children and part of doing that is figuring out how to allocate my time more effectively.

It is tied into why I like linkz like this one, like Just Writing because it is fun to just let go and to see where the words take me.

Bless The Children

The two songs of the moment are Can’t Find My Way Home and Tales of Brave Ulysses, but the latter is the one that really speaks to me right now.

Two more sleeps and then I’ll pack up the car and head out in search of the newest adventure. Two more sleeps and I’ll hug my children tightly and promise that we’ll see each other again soon because we will.

But for now I can’t stay and they can’t go.

Tales of Great Grandparents

More than a hundred years ago my great grandparents set sail from the old country to a place called America because they heard it was a place where dreams could come true and they wanted it.

They left family behind so they could find out if the stories were true. They came with little more than the clothes on their back to a foreign land where they didn’t speak English and relied upon the occasional letter to stay in touch.

So who I am I to complain about having to be separated for a bit. Who am I to complain about these things when we can Skype, email, text or talk by telephone.

Don’t Go Dad

They tell me they think this a bad idea and say there are other ways to do things. They tell me I am breaking their heart and ask me why I can’t work from a remote office like i have been doing for so long now.

I smile and explain why, do my best to reassure them because that is what they need.

And then I tell them I have to go because it is the right thing to do and that when opportunity knocks sometimes you need to drop what you are doing and find out what it is all about.

They don’t know how I was waiting for the click and how I just knew it was coming. They don’t know how long I have been working for this or how satisfying it feels to me to see things materialize.

I Am Nervous Too

I am nervous too. New beginnings are often a mix of excitement with a small dose of anxiety. But I am confident this is the right move and that I am doing precisely what has to be done.

So I look at the kids and ask them if they know what my favorite song is from Fiddler on The Roof.

Blessing My Children

Every week I bless my children. It is not solely religious in nature either. I do it because of the connection. I do it because even though they question whether there is any “supernatural effect” it provides a certain level of comfort for them and for me.

Some things don’t have to make sense, they just have to be.

I suppose some of it comes back to the advice I give and to my trying to be consistent in following my own advice. So I tell them not to over think change and to just roll with whatever comes down the path.

Of course whenever I say that I picture myself with a Fedora and a bullwhip, nothing stops Indiana Jack. You can slow him down, make him take the long way home but you can’t stop him.

And now if you’ll excuse me there is a story that is dying to be written and I am just the man to do it. See you later.

P.S. Yes, I know that transition wasn’t as smooth as some of you would like but I don’t care. Life isn’t always smooth either, sometimes you hit a bumpy road or slam on the brakes because some crazy cyclist cut you off.

The Joy Of Writing

The Big Cheese of Dad Blogging

The Big Cheese of Dad Blogging. Love this stuff.

Sometimes I miss the old blogosphere where it felt like people were blogging because they wanted to share stories or because they loved writing.

I miss the days where we didn’t spend time worrying about whether we had built Facebook pages, Twitter followings and G+ outposts.  You didn’t feel badly if you weren’t picked as one of the Top 198 pickle bloggers, weren’t asked to be a keynote speaker at a blog conference or didn’t get pitched by Porsche to test drive their cars.

You just got to write for the joy of writing and for the love of sharing good stories. You enjoyed the camaraderie of others who knew we weren’t a bunch of losers living their mother’s basements.

Time Moves On

Time moves on and what once was is no more and that is ok. It is not just ok because we all have to adjust but because there are good things that come with the changes. There are new friendships and opportunities that draw our attention.

The kids and I talk about this often and how to roll with the changes that we face. It is funny to me because I don’t think of myself as being particularly adept at dealing with change but when I flip through the pages of the blog I see my impression isn’t entirely accurate.

I am much better at this than I realized and that realization is part of what I love about blogging. It is not just about the joy of writing or the friendships but of learning about ourselves and growth.

It feels rich and rewarding.

Old Posts and New

My son is going to be Bar Mitzvahed in December. It throws me and makes me smile at the same time.

That kid is a huge part of why I am a blogger. When I started he was a toddler and an only child and life was so very different from now.

Different doesn’t mean better either, it was just different, albeit easier in some ways. But time passes and things change and now the toddler is a preteen who has a little sister who has lit up all of our lives.

She has no bigger hero than her older brother but that doesn’t stop her from screaming at him from time to time or change the pride I feel when I see them playing together. They have their own world and own relationship that are separate from the rest of us and it is a joyful thing.

Those old posts in the archives touch upon some of that and make mention of the magic I felt then but they don’t have the same touch as the ones I write now.

Sometimes I read them and think I was a better writer then and sometimes I read them and wonder why people paid attention to such awful stuff.

Most of the time I don’t pay any attention to any of it and just come out here to write for the joy of writing because this is the present and it is where my primary focus has to be.

Just write baby, just write.

 

Writing Exercises

Please don’t tell my daughter that when she practices playing the violin I have these crazy images that float through my mind. It is really important for her to practice even if it reminds me of cats in heat or animals being slaughtered.

You can’t tell her that because it would hurt her feelings and she wouldn’t practice. That would be bad for a million different reasons not the least of which is because I stress the importance of practice in everything.

It is why I participate in Just Write and Yeah Write each week.  They are two of my favorite writing communities because they serve multiple roles and I see them as being part of my writing exercises.

How Do You Become a Better Writer?

How do you become a better writer is a question that I think about often because writing is my craft, my art and my love. It is a place that always feels like home to me and I would be diminished were I ever to give it up.

Practice is important to me because I hate when potential is unrealized. When I think about my biggest fears one of them is to let myself and others down by not living up to my potential.

I might not ever play for the Dodgers or the Lakers but I can become the novelist I have dreamed of. I can become the writer that people want to read.

So when I ask the question about how to become a better writer it is for both selfish and altruistic reasons.

Books and Movies

I try to read a lot of books and watch a healthy chunk of movies. I devour magazines and newspapers and dip my nose into dictionaries.

Stories are a big part of my world and the life I am trying to create. I want to be able to tell lots of them. I want to be able to sit down and know I have a hundred that I could recite and a hundred more that I could just make up.

It is part of why I have multiple blogs and why I sometimes ask you to go visit them. The comments on my stories help me figure out whether they are good tales that are of interest or things people hate.

One day I’ll give my children the keys to my blogs and invite them to pull a dusty tome off of the shelves and learn something about their father that they might not know.

Writers Need Egos & Thick Skin

It helps to have an ego and to believe that people want to read what you can or will write. It helps to have a thick skin too because some people will read your words and tell you that you are an ignorant, no talent jerk who ought to be forced to live in cleveland or Detroit.

Your ego will be bruised and abused but if you believe in yourself you will keep going.

Blogging helps with all of this. It helps provide a place to practice your writing and a place to practice developing the thick skin you need.

Role Model

I want to be a good role model for my kids. I want them to see how much time I spend practicing but it is hard to do that in a way that doesn’t take time away from them. It is hard to show them how many hours I have put in here and to do so in a way that doesn’t mean they are ignored.

My kids are a big part of why I write. They helped me remember who I really am and what I really want to do.

They are why I started calling myself a writer again, but I continued doing so because of me.

I continued because sometimes names and labels have power and I would wield it to serve my needs.

I am Jack and I am a writer.

You Put The Bullet In Your Dreams

oodnata

Along the Oodnadatta Track, Australia- Picture taken by Jamie Brelsford

My name is Jack and most of you know me as the insouciant dad blogger who teaches his children to live their dreams and not dream their lives. That is not rhetoric or hype, it is what I believe and what I want for them.

Part of it is because I am their father and my job is to help them grow up to become menschen, to be responsible, productive members of society. The other part is because I sometimes wonder if I am responsible for putting a bullet in my own dreams.

I don’t carry many regrets with me but those few that hang around are massive beasts that swim in the darkest depths occasionally surfacing with the goal of making me question and doubt myself.

The Butt Of The Joke

I spent the Summer of 1985 in Israel and it changed my life. I remember watching Live Aid in a pub in Jerusalem, a beer in my hand, friends to the right of me and my girlfriend on my lap.

I was 16 years-old and my parents were 10,000 miles away but I knew I had found a second home and that the benefits of being far away weren’t the only reasons why I felt so comfortable.

Certainly some of it had to do with feeling of alienation so many teenagers have. I wasn’t on the outside looking in, I was a part of something that wanted and needed me as much as I needed it.

So I decided that I was going to try to spend my freshman year of college in Israel. It sounded like a very grown up thing to do, a reasonable and rational way to try to turn a dream into a reality.

I worked hard and was admitted to a special program at a university and made plans to go, but at the last minute had to pull out because the finances weren’t there.

It was hard and it was painful, made all the more so when I found out I became one of the group jokes. My name was on all of the literature, but I wasn’t there.

Things Change and We Adapt

Several years later I have another shot to go. This time it is for my junior year abroad and I am more determined than ever.

It all looks good, but I have a serious girlfriend who is a few years younger than I am. She asks me not to go, says she wants to go with me and wonders if I will wait.

I am an idiot and I say yes.

She’ll break up with me months after the deadline has passed and going has become an option that only exists if I drop out of school.

That is when I know a put a bullet in that dream and pushed it down where it wouldn’t bother me.

It is also when I start my push to become a professional sportswriter. I love writing and I am part of the college newspaper so it seems to me like I have an opportunity.

A Narrow Window

Things at the newspaper move along nicely and I move from staff writer to editor and eventually become the Editor-In-Chief.

It is a great feeling and I am convinced I am on the right track, except I didn’t become a sportswriter.  Won’t bore you with the who, what, where, when,why and how of it–it didn’t happen and I wonder if I am responsible for that.

I wonder if I am not accountable for putting a bullet in that dream. I wonder if maybe I didn’t want it badly enough or if maybe I was afraid to really try.

It is hard to say for certain, but I take some responsibility for it because I have to.

Israel- The Third Time Is The Trick

Several years after graduation I go back to Israel for a business trip and then hang out afterwards for pleasure. Now I am truly a grown up, or so I think of my 25 year-old self.

That feeling I had before is still there and I know I have to do something about it. So I make arrangements to live with a friend in Jerusalem.

He has a couch I’ll sleep on and knows a guy who needs someone to work at his bar. It is not perfect but I figure it will be enough to get me on my feet.

A couple of weeks later I fly home to pack up my apartment and finalize the details of a big move. I tell my girlfriend about my plan and she says she’d move with me.

Two weeks after that we get engaged and 13 months later we are married.

We did go back to Israel together but not to live, graduate school and children came along and plans changed.

That Was Then and This Is Now

December 2004 changed my life but I didn’t recognize it at the time. It was when I wrote two posts that showed me the power of blogging and helped me engage in some course correction.

Those posts came about six months into my blogging career and are among the few from that time that don’t make me cringe when I read them now.

What I didn’t know was how they and blogging would help me understand the difference between what I want and what I need.

Blogging also helped me realize that I am not old now, maybe older, but not too old to run down the dreams I had or to accept that sometimes dreams change and that is ok.