Forty Eight – The Birthday Post

Wow, I made it to 48! Never thought I’d be this close to 50.

I started this blog four years ago thus the name 40phor. I’ve decided to maintain the name although the years keep adding up. I thought of 44 at the time as being a pivotal year in my life and, to be honest, every year since then has been pivotal. I think I grow every year. I’m still working on being a better father, husband, son, brother, teacher, leader and of course, writer. The last four years have been years of reflection that I had missed on my first 44.

Every year there are milestones and benchmarks. There are also difficulties and failures. Every year I try to identify my weaknesses and strengths. Every year I reflect on what I should be celebrating. For me, my birthday is a time to think about how I will make this year better than the last.

This year, 9/11/01 has been on my mind a lot. Like most people who were alive that day, there are still strong emotions each year. One of my first posts was about 9/11. And my second post ever was about Glenn Beck’s 9-12 project. I was pretty tough on Beck.

I still think Beck is an alarmist and a bit of a putz. I have read some of The Blaze and I can’t understand how a mass of people can believe every thing this guy writes when he only uses his personal feelings as resources.

I will admit that Mr. Beck had a point. In the days following 9/11/01 we were a different nation of people. We were all there for each other. There was much less divisiveness and much more love. After the initial fear wore off, more people cherished the important things in their lives. It was very scary as I recall but we were all in this together. We were a united nation.

What I don’t think many realize is that 9/11 has also led us to where we are today. When all that love and support wore off, politicians began to place one religion over another due to those responsible for the terrorist attacks. Our government started to put the safety of the nation above the freedoms of individuals. While the Christian Right pulled one way to claim the US for Christ, the hardcore left held on dearly to what they valued. Now, more than just freedoms and religions, every issue has become a fight between the left and the right. There really is no middle ground any more. There really are no seriously political moderates on either side. As much as liberals hated Reagan and the Bushes, they were way closer to the center than any of our current political righties. The left has countered with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, spreading ideas that seem more associated with the 70s than the 21st Century. It seems you have to be extrem to be noticed. In PA, we are in one of the longest budget debates in Commonwealth history. Tom Wolf, probably more socially liberal than Ed Rendell, has put his foot down on his support of public education. The more fiscally conservative House has said it will hold the line. Apparently no room for compromise.

It’s painful for me to think that fateful day may have led to our current state of divisiveness in this country.

In that blog post on Glenn Beck, I posted 10 values and two principles.to strive for to counter Mr. Beck’s 12. I think they are probably even more relevant today:

Two principles

  1. All people are created equal.  Not just rich, white, American men who run businesses.
  2. We all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and so do all humans around the world. Whatever God, god or other supreme being we believe in created us all and didn’t create some to live in poverty, and some to live as captives, and some to never know happiness.

Ten Values

  1. Caring
  2. Understanding
  3. Knowledge
  4. Hope
  5. Imagination
  6. Individualism
  7. Fairness
  8. Trust
  9. Service
  10. Charity

I know, my liberal is showing but, it’s my birthday!

40se7en

As has become tradition: my birthday blog post! This is the end of three years of the 40phor blog and the beginning of year four. I started this blog on by 44th birthday; thus the name. Although I’ve never posted as much as I thought I wanted to, the blog has been therapeutic and sometime cathartic. Although I don’t know how many readers I have, I know that at some points in the last three years I have touched someone, made them think, hopefully made them react, and possibly evoked an emotional response.

When I go back and read my own posts I am often impressed by my own writing as if someone else wrote it and at times rereading those posts remind me of who I was then and what experiences I was having. The ultimate goal of this blog was to get the constant thoughts out of my head and out to the world. Sometimes I forget that and keep the running dialogue in my head rather than sharing it with you. As always I will promise again this year to try to do better but we both know I probably won’t.

As for my year: some big events. My older daughter graduated from high school and matriculated at Temple University a few weeks ago. I ran a marathon, 4:02, for the first time in almost 15 years and ran a PR by 13 minutes. I lost a brother, friend and running mate. That’s three pretty big life events in one year.

For this year I hope to keep more consistent with the running and the blogging. I will finish my certification as a superintendent very soon so, who knows, maybe a change in employment also. Whatever the case, its just another year that I will try to make the best one yet!

40psyx

I guess its becoming a tradition to have a birthday post. This blog was born on 9/11/2011, the day before my 44th birthday. This the name. I kept the name the same even though the years are adding up.

This year was not the best year of the blog. I had 46 posts. That’s less than one a week and they really started fading away when I returned to graduate school in January. 

I did reach 56 countries this year which isn’t bad since my all time reach is 70 countries.

My top posts of the year were Sometimes it Takes a Vacuum, The Low Hanging Fruit of Education, and A Principal’s Take On Tragedy. As you can see, the blog has taken a turn towards education. Controversial sometimes, cathartic sometimes, but always me being me.

I still like to write and hope to get back to at least a weekly average this year.

Wish me a Happy 40psyx.

The Last Conversation

Do we ever really know that the conversation that we are currently having will be our last conversation?  Many times we hear people talk about things that they had wished they had said to someone before they breathed their last breath but, have you ever considered that every conversation that you have may be the last conversation that you have with that person?  Obviously we never hear what the dead wish they had said but I’m sure that most people would hope that they left people with a memory.  Do we value our conversations, real face to face communication, enough to make it meaningful?  Are we engaged with the person or are we multitasking and listening with half of our brain?

I often wish that I had more meaningful conversations with my children.  Conversations that I truly believe mold their lives and will impact them long after I’m gone.  This is a difficult thing for me.  As has been said in this blog before, most of my conversations are held with myself.  Constantly I contemplate in my mind all sorts of things.  I run and I have long monologues with myself.  I go for a drive and converse with myself silently in my head.  This activity keeps me from opening my mouth and saying the valuable things to the valuable people.  It is also the reason for this blog and the reason that I haven’t blogged in two weeks.  I get tied up in my solo contemplation and never get to the keyboard. Or I question the value of what I am contemplating and whether it is worth sharing.

Although there was a lot of modeling expectations, growing up I don’t remember having a whole lot of great conversations with anyone.  My family was pretty good at keeping their meaningful contemplations to themselves.  This, I am sure, molded me into who I am today.  I don’t think is all bad because it forced me to develop my own thoughts and ideas; begin my own conversations in my head and eventually bring them to the world via this blog.  It only took 40phor years.

For the next 40phor years I hope to be more cognizant of every conversation that I have.  To leave people thinking, to leave people wanting more and to leave them with a smile on their faces. I plan to take the time to have conversations of value.  Each and every one a possible last conversation.