My Dad is a Man

miller-fordMy Dad is a man. I don’t mean he is a male — that much is obvious. I mean he is a man in the sense that he is what we call a manly man.

He was a good athlete. He hunts. He fishes. He has at least one of every power tool ever made…and he has used them all. Heck, at age 76 he still uses them all. He is an accomplished mechanic who restores vintage cars like Ford Model Ts. He welds. He mows. He chainsaws. He is a master with the smoker and grill. His brisket is still the standard by which I measure all others. What I am saying is that by every standard by which masculinity is usually measured, he is manly.

It has always been easy for me to look at him and see what a man looks like, but that is not what makes him so special. There are manly men everywhere. What makes him special is the ease with which he models both his manliness and his sensitivity. From the time I was a small child he was comfortable with hugging me and telling me he loved me. We still hug. We still affirm our love for each other. I have come to realize that not all fathers know how to do that. He is a gentle and kind man. He is a man of faith.

My grandfather died when I was five years old. I still remember him, but the memories are veiled by years and by my age at the time. So, I don’t know if he modeled this physical and verbal form of fatherhood for my Dad to see. I will find out today when I speak to him on Father’s Day. Regardless of where he learned it, Dad decided that he would tell his children that he loves them and that he would embrace them to demonstrate his love. He has been consistent with it. I am grateful for that. It helped me see that there is no contradiction between masculinity and sensitivity.

I have friends who did not have that kind of model in their father. Some of them struggle with showing affection to their children. I cannot blame them because the way we are raised has a powerful impact on how we parent. If you are one of those men who struggles with kindness, affection, and expressiveness with your children, let me challenge you to break the cycle. Find a man who does it the way you want to do it and have a conversation with him. Try it sometime with your children even though it may feel strange. You have the opportunity to start a new family tradition that you can pass along to your children and grandchildren. Boys need to see this positive practice of masculinity, and girls need to see it as well.

There are really no downsides to my Dad’s approach. I highly recommend it, and I try to practice it myself.

So, thank you, Miller Lee.

I love you.

A Tribute to Our Girl Fiona

Fiona-Small

Today (8/26/15) was a hard day in our household. We had to say goodbye to a furry friend who graced our home for over ten years. Her name was Fiona. We often called her FiFi. She was a tri-colored Pembroke Welsh Corgi, an enchanted little breed of herding dogs that think they are much larger than they actually are. She was our “alpha male” who presided over a pack that included two male corgis – Toby and Rhett.

Like all dogs, she had some very special qualities and a unique personality that made a difference in our family. Her unique trick was sitting on her butt like a chipmunk. She could balance like that for a long time. She was also the most gentle dog we have met. She loved children and loved us to be in the floor with her so she could snuggle up tight.

I am sure it is a testament to the blessed and easy nature of our lives so far that the decision to let her go was one of the hardest we have ever made. Were we sure there were no other alternatives? We stretched this agonizing decision over multiple days until we were certain it was time.

As Margot and I drove home and amid our tears we agreed that even though the pain of separation is sharp, we would not have traded those ten years of love to avoid this moment. It was not our decision that brought Fiona into this world — that happened without our knowledge or involvement. It was our decision to allow her to become part of our lives, and we will never regret that no matter how much this hurts. The love was worth it all. We gave her a great home, great kids, great canine brothers, and a lot of love. She gave us joy, happiness, and her own love in return. What more can you ask?

‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In the end we made a decision motivated by that same real love we bathed her in all her life. Our lives and those of Kellen and Matt are richer because she shared hers with us. Dr. Todd Rabon and the staff at Premier Animal Hospital are compassionate caregivers. We thank you all for your tender care.

Note: See the follow-up post here.

Tweets of the Week: Recipes, Farmers’ Markets, Health, Free Books & More

Week ending June 27, 2015

twitter-bird-3Saturday is a good day to recap the activity from our Twitter feed from the past week. Not sure what Twitter is all about? That’s OK. Neither are we (or at least it remains somewhat mysterious to us). There is no denying, however, that there is some very valuable information shared on Twitter. That is what this weekly feature is all about. Click the links below to check out the good stuff. Here are my Top Tweets from this past week, great for retweeting (whatever that is). If you missed these, follow Forward Story on Twitter.

By the way, if you are wondering what the @ and # signs are all about, these are Twitter’s way to identify the Twitter handle (@) for the person who tweeted (for example, ours is @forward_story) and to allow for an indexing or categorization of the tweet by using one or more hashtags (#). Feel free to ignore these and just follow the link for the content we are sharing with you.

Here are a few recipes from people we trust:

Mark_Sisson ‏@Mark_Sisson Cool Down with Some Salted Watermelon Ice: http://ow.ly/OEz7X

Danielle Walker ‏@againstallgrain Autumn in a Bowl: Spiced Pumpkin Granola #paleo #glutenfree #againstallgrain http://grainfree.ly/1GoeKxx

Civilized Caveman ‏@CookingCaveman Pumpkin Pie smoothie, so easy and so delicious. #paleo #primal #smoothie #recipes http://pinterest.com/pin/64950419602936550/

Maria Emmerich ‏@MariaEmmerich Homemade Almond Milk http://buff.ly/1KeeLbA #LCHF #keto #lowcarb

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Farmers’ Market Locator

Mark_Sisson ‏@Mark_Sisson An Easy Way to Find Your Local Farmers Market. http://ow.ly/OEyoG

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 Some great information related to health:

Why You Can’t Medicate Your Way Out Of Poor Diet & Lifestyle Choices by @TerryWahls http://mbg.io/6Rqa0Lf

Sara Gottfried, MD ‏@DrGottfried The right and left nostril may help you get back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. Watch as I… http://fb.me/3X4tKU9pl

Experience Life ‏@ExperienceLife 2 simple stretches to loosen early-morning body stiffness this weekend http://j.mp/1wYFlM1 #stretching #exercise #bettermornings

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Free Books for Kids from B&N

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent Great for the grandkids! RT @aboutdotcom: How to get free books from Barnes and Noble this Summer http://abt.cm/1fmoVtK

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Parents and Grandparents

Susan Adcox ‏@grandparent Amen! RT @thegrandestlove: Grandchildren can bring love and second chances with adult children http://ow.ly/OKZmd

Tweets of the Week: Recipes, Exercise, & Family

Week of May 31, 2015

twitter-bird-2Saturday is a good day to recap the activity from our Twitter feed from the past week. Not sure what Twitter is all about? That’s OK. Neither are we (or at least it remains somewhat mysterious to us). There is no denying, however, that there is some very valuable information shared on Twitter. That is what this weekly feature is all about. Click the links below to check out the good stuff. Here are my Top Tweets from this past week, great for retweeting (whatever that is). If you missed these, follow Forward Story on Twitter.

Here are a couple of recipes from people we trust:

From Gourmet Girl – Happy National Donut Day! (Entirely lowcarb and glutenfree, of course.) http://www.gourmetgirlcooks.com/2015/05/did-somebody-say-donuts-make-your.html

From Slim Palate – Blackberry Pie Bars http://slimpalate.com/blackberry-pie-bars/

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 Some great information related to health:

From Dr. Colin Champ – (This is a link to scientific article) Obese children have different bowel bacteria: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/15/64

Another from Dr. Colin Champ – Seven Steps to a Perfect Night’s Sleep:

http://www.cavemandoctor.com/2015/05/28/seven-steps-to-a-perfect-nights-sleep/

From Dr. David Perlmutter – Do you really want to leave your chance of dementia to the flip of a coin? Here’s how to beat the odds. http://bit.ly/1AS6Pct

From The University of Texas – Six Tips for Staying Sharp http://news.utexas.edu/2015/05/11/six-tips-for-staying-sharp

From Mark Sisson – The Myth of Perfect Conditions: 9 Common Excuses Used to Delay Exercise http://ow.ly/NMkYC

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 Seth Godin is always thought-provoking:

Seth’s Blog: The critic as an amateur hack

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2015/06/the-critic-as-an-amateur-hack.html

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Family and Parenting / Grandparenting

Here is an article from Susan Adcox for Grandarents – Give Grandchildren the Gift of a Special Experience http://grandparents.about.com/od/Gifts-to-Give-to-Grandchildren/fl/Give-Grandchildren-the-Gift-of-a-Special-Experience.htm

From Amy Morin – Yes, you want to protect your child, but kids really need to experience these 7 uncomfortable emotions:
http://discipline.about.com/od/teachingnewskills/fl/7-Uncomfortable-Emotions-You-Need-to-Allow-Your-Child-to-Experience.htm

Tweets of the Week: Recipes, Health, & Wisdom

Week of May 24, 2015

twitter-bird-2Saturday is a good day to recap the activity from our Twitter feed from the past week. Not sure what Twitter is all about? That’s OK. Neither are we (or at least it remains somewhat mysterious to us). There is no denying, however, that there is some very valuable information shared on Twitter. That is what this weekly feature is all about. Click the links below to check out the good stuff. Here are my Top Tweets from this past week, great for retweeting (whatever that is). If you missed these, follow Forward Story on Twitter.

Here are a couple of recipes from Maria Emmerich, a master of gluten-free and low carb cooking:

Low Carb Pancake http://buff.ly/1Aq7DWf

Fudgsicles http://buff.ly/1IVmf0L

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 Some great information related to health:

A Hedge against Drought: Why Healthy Soil is ‘Water in the Bank’ https://shar.es/1rFlGK 

I know it’s counter-intuitive: Why People Who Sleep Longer Achieve More http://mhyatt.us/1wSPmLK 

When Daily Life Is Exercise, Everywhere Is the Gym http://www.cavemandoctor.com/2015/05/19/when-daily-life-is-exercise-everywhere-is-the-gym/

“Food should not contain ingredients, it should be an ingredient.” http://bit.ly/1Ap712w 

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A little wisdom from two great sources:

New Podcast Episode: The Secret Power of Smiling http://mhyatt.us/1HL5lQY 

How to Run a Debt-Free Business Without Running Out of Cash [VIDEO] http://bit.ly/1AhZZgg 

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Great flood safety tips:

5 ways you can be ready when a flood hits: http://abt.cm/1PNgR5m 

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Seth Godin is always thought-provoking:

Seth’s Blog: The do over – http://bit.ly/1IXiOrS

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Here is a wonderful article from Susan Adcox that speaks to grandparents helping their grandchildren cope with cancer:

When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, grandparents can help grandchildren cope: http://ow.ly/NwFc2

Prepare the Child for the Path

Train_ChildSeveral years go we bought a little stone tile with a quote etched on it. At that point in our lives our children were still at home, but were nearing high school graduation. We knew the time was short for them to be under our roof and under our control. The aphorism (brief statement of principle) on the tile seemed very relevant to us then, and it still does today. It reads:

Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.

It’s meaning is clear. The path ahead for all of us is uncertain and can be frightening. This includes the path ahead of our children. Our parental instincts are to run interference for them and to smooth the path. When our children are very young, this is normal and required. As our children mature, though, and begin to approach adulthood, it is dangerous to try to prepare the path for them. When Mom and Dad always step in to make things right, fair, and easy, it can give them the false idea that difficulties won’t come. It teaches them that someone else will solve their problems for them. That is irresponsible.

We are at somewhat of a disadvantage culturally when we do not have adolescent puberty rites. In tribal cultures boys and girls did not have the option to remain immature. When their bodies began to change, they were initiated into adulthood through rituals that most of us would find appalling. There was no doubt, though, after the ritual that the boy was to be considered a man and the girl was to be considered a woman. Mom and Dad were not going to run interference any more to keep their children children. I am not arguing that we need to invent puberty rights, but I am arguing that it is the responsibility of parents to grow children who are ready for the path and not afraid of adulthood.

As difficult as it is to do, as parents we must focus our energies on getting our children ready to face life on their own. We should equip them so that they can deal with whatever life throws at them. Sure, if we are still around we can help them and counsel them if they seek such guidance, but they have to learn to deal with life on their own. We will not always be around. Even if we are, we cannot handle their adult problems for them. That is their job.

I have not lived in my parents’ house for over 32 years. They prepared me for the path, and I have functioned as an adult for a long time. I do have to add, though, that while I am no longer under my parents’ control, I am still under their influence. I say this to assure parents that if you adopt the approach I am encouraging, you will raise children that are ready for life’s path, but you will retain your influence. In fact, you will likely have more influence than if you have always tried to control their lives and circumstances. Strangely, children who have been reared in an overprotective way often grow up to resent that level of control and interference.

It is also true that one of the great joys in life is to observe your adult children adapting to life and handling the path they are on. That is when you know you have done your job well and that they will be OK on their own.

In what ways do you prepare your child for the path?