Hug a Tree

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Where am I going with this thought?  I heard the phrase on TV the other night and it triggered a fond memory.  When my oldest child was about five years old, we were very close friends with a family we had met through the day care.  We spent many weekends together with our children in tow.  Trips to the Milwaukee zoo, fireworks, and hikes every where and anywhere there was a trail to be found.  On one of these trips, the “hug a tree crusade” began.  Bailey, my daughter, and Bre, our friends daughter, decided to hug a tree.  It was nothing in particular but it seemed somehow the tree hugged them back.  From that point forward, every tree deemed worthy of a hug received one from this duo.  It became a routine and to this day their trademark.

So where am I going with this thought?  I believe that something as simple as a hug, becomes an exchange.  In their situation it was an exchange of energy.  Their youthful antic energy was in part transferred to the tree while the resilience and strength of the tree was transferred to their ultimate character.  A hug is just that, a transfer of the energy from one person to another.  When I give or receive a hug from another person, part of me is transferred to the receiver and part of the receiver is exchanged with me.  The end result is that we can both leave with more than we came with.  It is a simple act, but it recharges us, comforts us, strengthens us and for a moment brings us peace.

Don’t waste the opportunity.  If you get the chance, hug another person, and if you don’t get that chance, at least hug a tree.  It just might hug you back.

Being a Grandpa on being a Kid

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Why was I so afraid to become a grandfather?  Was it the sense of responsibility or was it just the word?  Was the title making me feel mortal as in “Oh my god I’m old enough to be a grandfather”?  I think in retrospect that the later was the case.  So this blog is for anyone that might be feeling the same way.  For me, it was Jackson who taught me how to lose that feeling.

Jackson is my first grandchild and with any luck, not my last.  That is in fact a hint if my daughters happen to read this.  I am Jackson’s Opa, apparently no one goes by the “grandfather” moniker anymore.  Even though Opa is the German form, I think Jackson might be Italian.  He has this knack of attaching the “a” sound to the ends of his important words like booma (puzzles, but that’s another story) and moona, his favorite sight, and so ona.  Maybe its the “a” in Opa.  But I digress.

Jackson taught me early on that my only responsibility, in fact any grandparent’s responsibility is to spoil your grandchild and teach them all sorts of clever but useless tricks.  I cannot wait until I can teach him the many variations I have created for the great card game 52 pick up.

If I was worried about responsibility, Jackson left me know that it was he that was responsible for me.  While rehabbing from knee surgery, Jackson sat with me every day.  He was in charge of my rehab, and in his own little way, cared for me and oversaw my exercises and made sure I was kept fed.  Grapes and cookies can do wonders for the healing soul.

And then there was that fear of being old.  But Jackson sees no age barriers.  When he wants to wrestle, we wrestle.  When he wants to build Legos, so will I.  And then there are the booma sessions.  He will sit me down, get my computer and I will be given no quarter.  We will do puzzles.  Instead of the dread of age, he has taken me back to my youth. Thank you Jackson, for showing me that life really can start over at 60, for I am a grandpa.  I am your Opa and I get to be young all over again.  Lesson learned.

If you are still reading this and are not yet a grandpa, get ready to be born again.  And if you already are …..well you get it.  So pick me up Opa, I’m ready to show you how to play again.

Generation Coffee

Coffee starts as beans and after grinding is run through a filter.  The filter captures all the grinds while letting through the robust flavor of the coffee bean.  No one would ever consider eating the beans and certainly not the grinds.  But the brew, with all its rich flavor, is the morning breath of heaven to the coffee fanatic.

So where am I trying to go with this.  I don’t really work for Folgers, so what is my point.  My point is that generations act like that filter.  Each generation can be thought of as that brew going through the filter.  Our parents give to us the brew of life and the generational filter can catch the grinds, those undesirable traits and habits, while letting through the flavorful brew, those characteristics and values that represent the best of who we are.  If brewed carefully, each generation has the chance to pass through the very best of who they are while leaving behind those flaws and mistakes that they may have uncovered along the way.  We have the chance, no choice, to let our children see our very best, those traits we want to pass on to our next generation.  We at the same time need to be honest about our flaws.  We are human after all and we do and will make mistakes.  We must be a good filter for our children, admit our mistakes, and trust that our filter will keep them from passing into the brew.  Or at least most of them.

The beauty of this theory ….. every generation re-filters the brew.