walk the walk

-actions speak louder than words

 

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Something that I’m currently working on…is putting everything I’ve got into providing opportunities and love and lessons to my child, while also balancing it with continuing to dream and wonder and strive for my own self.  We all want the best for our children, or that’s what we say at least. What’s hard to focus on though, is the fact that they are watching what we’re doing, more than they’re hearing what we tell them.  

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Just like the best way to teach empathy to our children is to model empathy in front of them…the best way to teach doing is to actually model it.  If you want your child to try hard and give their best effort, you can tell them how you want them to do that, and the benefits that come from it…or you can get 10x the results by exposing them to areas where you give your best effort…to show them how hard you really try in certain areas.  Then, you can reflect on how maybe you were uncertain about how your work would pay off, how difficult it was at times, how you wanted to quit but didn’t for many reasons, how good you feel about yourself now, and how you can now be very proud about what you created through that hard work.  Do you see the difference?

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The modeling gives the child incredible context within the situation.  It illustrates for them that ‘this is what we do’ as a family. It becomes contagious to do, to execute.  It becomes an expectation to follow your dreams.  But not in a negative ‘you better do this or else’ way…it comes across as a message of ‘mom and dad want the best for themselves and for you.  Let’s together, try to get that for each other!’

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Consider the child that is only told that ‘the world is yours, you can do anything you set your mind to’.  It’s really meaningless and holds no weight. They need to taste it…see it in action.  They need examples, but not only from seemingly enigmatic figures like Lebron James and Taylor Swift.  Those models are awesome too. But they need it in house, smaller scale, everyday…from mom and dad.

All Love!

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Last year…on my 37th birthday…I published a piece called 37.  It was basically stating that I’d be starting the process of documenting all of my writing.  And it was thanking all of you for affecting and influencing me…however you have.  Click here to read it.

I also wrote a piece on Medium this past Fall called #roadto40 – a Midlife Manifesto, in which I basically stated my commitment to a more deliberate way of living, with hopes of documenting my journey along the way.  Click here to read that!

Now that a year has gone by, and I’m further down that road to 40…I figure I better check in with myself to see how the trip is going.

In one way, that 37 year contained so much.  The days and weeks and months felt very slow, filled up…fulfilling.  On the other hand, now that the year is in the past and I’m looking back at it, the time went so fast.  Along with that, I didn’t get done as much as I wanted; my to do list actually grew.  By the way, that was the first time I’ve used a semi-colon in forever.  I am an English major, but still have no idea how to use one correctly.  Please advise in the comments.

But yeah…my list!  It’s fascinating that as we age and grow, we become more exposed to potentialities and opportunities we never knew existed.  In a way, when I was younger, I thought I knew my options.  ‘I’ll go do that, that, and that when I’m older,’ is kind of how it went through my head as a naive young man.  But after I got to the first ‘that’, I found 3 others that I was interested in.  And those took energy away from the pursuit of my original ideas!

This may seem obvious to you.  It’s just how life is.  It usually doesn’t go exactly as planned.  And, we think we know more than we really do.  I now have advice and lessons that I could tell my 20 year old self.  What’s more interesting, is realizing that my 60 year old self will have far more lessons for where I am now.  My recent focus on writing, on self exploration, on living deliberately…has provided me a truly humble and grateful perspective.  One that allows me to more effectively understand the road I travel on.

Before I challenge myself with what is next on my current ‘to do’ list, I feel it’s important to reflect on the experiences of my 37 year.  I will now detail that reflection within an interpretive dance.  Hmmm…the upload isn’t working for that dance video…so you’ll have to use your imagination.

In general, I’ve really been able to focus on appreciating others during this year.  Realizing how significant my relationships are, and how grateful I am for anyone who’s influenced me (good or bad), I’ve opened myself up to new opportunities (like I spoke about above), and actually discovered a love for others…instead of a fear that I once had.

Unfortunately, my own insecurities held me back, starting in my teens and sticking around far too long.  I developed a dislikedness (my own word) for other people, which really stemmed from that fear I had at the start.  I’m sorry for that.  I hope it didn’t affect you at all.  I used to want you and everyone else to lose…and for me to win.  It was sad, and lonely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an introvert at my core.  I need a lot of ‘me’ time…selfish time…to charge up…to center.  It’s not natural for me to be ‘out’ all of the time, socializing, partying, connecting.  That’s not me…and you won’t see me doing a lot of that.  Interestingly enough, my #roadto40, my self-exploration has been effective in letting me be selfish.  By thinking through and identifying what it is I really want, and doing that as much as possible, I’ve ‘got myself good’.  I’m honestly now in a very happy place…more than I’ve ever been.  I feel content, fulfilled.  And what’s been refreshing through all of that, is that now…all I want to do is connect with others.  I want to hear what you’re up to.  I want to know your story.  What’s your #roadto40 like?  What is in your manifesto?  I want to learn from you!

By the way, I also feel that I have something very beneficial to offer others, whether it be through my writing, or simply connecting some other way.  I so want you to win too now…just as much, if not more than I want to win!  And boy do I want to win!  If there’s any way I can help someone in that…I want to be there, and I’m very serious about that.  Please let me know.

This year, I want to connect more.  I’ll be starting new projects in hopes to bring people together.  I can’t wait to celebrate and learn with you.  Please come join me if you can!  I’ll be in touch.

I’ve also started writing a book.  It’s been both very rewarding and challenging.  I haven’t identified a date yet for when I want to be done…but, it’s certainly on my list.

Thinking about that, I have a favor to ask of you.  Please tune in.  Please follow me.  I’ll never take it for granted, and so appreciate it.  It’s very humbling that someone would choose to read something I wrote…or listen to what I have to say.  Thank you.  Share me, or recommend me to anyone who might get value from anything I’m doing.   I really want to connect with more beautiful people, and that starts with you shooting out your webs!

Here are some things I’m up to currently…and where you can find me:

Home base – jimmythorpe.com

Monthly Book Club – Each month, I send out 1 email, describing a couple of books that I highly recommend.  Find out what I’m reading, and sign up for the email club here!

Podcast – You can find my ‘Breathe upon Waking’ podcast on itunes, Google Play, on the Anchor app, or on my website homepage here.

Facebook – come say hello here!

Cork and Crush Wine Club – I started tasting a different wine every week.  Once I get my palate more educated…just kidding…once I get organized, I’m going to invite you to come join me.  Stay posted here! 

East Concord Grass Roots – I still own and run a landscaping company.  Spring is coming.  Call me!

Dads and Daughters – I’m still in the developing phase of this…but soon, I’ll be starting a group for dads and daughters to meet up and hang out.  I want to provide an experience to strengthen that bond, and to help build a community for us Dads to all learn within.  Please contact me to be part of this.

Snapchat – it’s just fun!  Come find me there @thorpedojam

Instagram – some pics, hopefully some inspiration…I’m loving Instagram stories right now! Follow me @thorpe42

Music! — I’m trying to learn guitar and voice. It’s a work in progress. I’m ‘under construction’ for sure. But I use my YouTube channel to challenge myself to keep learning and post a new one. Come listen!

All love!

emailsig

dear dad

originally published on father’s day, 2017

 


fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do’  – john mayer

fäT͟Hər:  a man in relation to his natural child or children

Dear dad,


today is a celebration of you…of all the characteristics and actions you take on in your parental role.  There is probably no greater responsibility in this world, so I hope you’ve taken the entire journey seriously.  And even considering that I’m now 37 years old, your job isn’t done.  You can’t retire from this one.  I need more from you.  I’m going to ask for more help and advice in the future…and your related position as a grandfather is just beginning.  

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Concord monitor photo – White Park – circa 1982 – fundamentals



Thinking of when you began the dad journey, I often wonder what you were thinking then…if you planned it out…how you anticipated the experience.  Did you put money aside…try to work extra hours?  Did you want a boy?  Were you nervous as hell?


I know that when I found out I was going to become a dad, a sway of emotions overtook me. And I immediately came to, ‘ok, how the heck am I going to do this?’  I read some books, inquired with other parents, and planned out many ideas…like my daughter will only eat fully organic foods, mixed up in this trendy new blender, and…I will only put reusable diapers on my daughters bum, and…I need to open a bank account for Matilda’s college fund asap! However, I found that some of these efforts were unrealistic.  Some too lofty.  And some came from advice from parents who made a ton of mistakes themselves.  In the end, we’re all ‘winging it’ as parents…doing the best we can…and practicing a lot of on-the-job training. No one knows all of the answers.  And many of the answers work only for specific children, or at specific times. Therefore, we can all judge a little less harshly.  

 

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presence


So dad, whatever you did during that time?  It’s great.  You probably made some tough decisions and came through with some great execution.  I thank you so much for that!  You probably made a ton of mistakes too…and you know what?  I forgive you for all of them.  I mean, look how I turned out!

I believe it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the details of what they must do in order for their kids to be the best on the block.  I find myself wrapped up in that all too often.  But if we step back and take a more general perspective, understanding that parents are more than the sum of all of their parts, we can cherish dearly the fact that our simple ‘presence’ within our children’s lives is what can contribute to a successful cultivation, an overall healthier society, and a fulfilled ‘next’ generation.

 

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Mom, Dad, and the Tilly Monster – this makes me happy



After all dad, I don’t remember you teaching me how to shave.  I don’t think it was you who showed me how to tie a neck tie.  And I’m not sure if you showed me how to tie my shoes with the one loop method or if that was someone else.  But I can’t remember a time when you weren’t present in my life.  You were always either there, or one simple thought away from being there.  I’ve always known where you were…or at least thought I did.  I can always think in my mind where you most likely are.  That must be so significant!  37 years of that presence.  That takes effort, and unconditional love, and careful attention.  That describes effective communication, and respect, and integrity, and strong morals and values. 

 

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Matilda’s 2nd Easter…with her Grampa
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the next phase…grandparenting

 

Sometimes I wonder how I became a certain way, or came to understand something, or why I believe in particular ideas, or practice parenting how I do.  I have to conclude that your presence has greatly contributed to that.  And again, many of these things seem to have been passed down with no direct speaking of, no detailed lesson taught (even though there were those too).  No, this feels more like a security that I was afforded and a comfort that I was allowed…in which I was able to grow and learn and start holding things as my own.  Thank you.  




I honestly do hope to be as good of a dad to Matilda as you’ve been to me.  There will be so many things I do differently though, and I know that’s ok.  I am trying to use that ‘presence’ though…and will continue.  Time will tell!



                                                                                  your son,

                                                                                  emailsig

 

Music:  I love this song…and it does have some ‘Dad’ connections within it.  Enjoy!

yes no, maybe so

your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision’ 

-Tony Robbins

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when the details on the surface are wiped away…what is left?

There are times in our life when we have to make a decision.  We find ourselves standing at a crossroads with options in front of us.  A typical crossroads would determine that we would have three options or choices. Picture driving up to an actual intersection of roads. It’s best to think of west.  The desert, tumbleweed, cacti, cactuses?  Both are accepted.  This setting just feels more serene and secluded.  And it’s just cool. No one is there to witness your decision.  It is just you and this place and the road you choose.  You can take a left, go straight, or take a right…3 choices.  Maybe a good way to use this analogy would be to match up each choice of road with an answer to the question, ‘should I do this?’  Of course ‘this’ can fit whatever situation you may have in your life.  With 3 choices of roads, road 1 is YES!  Road 2 is NO!  Road 3 is OTHER or MAYBE SO.


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she could make a new road with this!

 

Road 1

I think whenever we are asking ourselves ‘should I do this’, it’s usually because we already have a hunch that we want to do it.  ‘Go with your gut’, ‘follow your instincts’, ‘lead with your heart’, are all phrases that tell us we already know the answer.  Yes is the answer.  We know what we’d like to do, and deep down we know what we desire.  However, before we commit ourselves to road 1, we are faced with obstacles like fear and insecurity that will ostensibly reveal that this decision was a bad choice.  That’s terrible and very sad.  I think everyone needs more of road 1 in their life.  Be more of a ‘yes man’, and stop turning everything down. Embrace change and moving forward.  Covet growth and the learning process, especially when you find yourself on the edge of comfort.  Many of us talk about our passions and what we truly want to be doing.  We describe it to others.  We visualize it in vivid detail.  We think about how it will all play out in the future.  But then we don’t act.  This is why some psychologists have found that we shouldn’t actually talk about our goals.  By speaking about them, and receiving feedback from others, we actually feel a sense of accomplishment and we lose the passion, the edge, the motivation we once had.  This has happened to me many times.  It’s hard because we want to share our passion with others.  We want to bounce ideas. Maybe we should just share the tip of the iceberg…or bounce one small ball to someone. Don’t spill it before acting on it.  When is the best time to start acting on your passions?  Right now.  Immediately.  The clock is ticking.  

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‘Do what you want’ sounds negative and detached but if I teach and use effective language, I can help Matilda hold onto ‘acting on her desires’.  It’s really the same thing.  When we’re young, it’s natural for us.  But much like creativity, we tend to lose it along the road


 

Road 2

Being a ‘yes man’ and taking road 1 on your decisions can bring you places you never dreamed of.  However, there are often times when we have to say ‘no’.  Maybe you’re just done spending time with a certain person…maybe your schedule is full…maybe you’re just wiped out from being the challenges of parenting.  All these are totally justifiable.  I’ve learned that ‘no’ doesn’t have to be negative.  If we communicate to others our feelings and/or reasons along with our ‘no’, we should be comfortable and content in our position to turn something down.  Withing my business, I now notice myself saying ‘no’ more often.  I always try to say ‘yes’ and take road 1 when people have requests.  But for a variety of reasons, sometimes I turn things down.  In the past, I felt guilty or insecure about this.  But that doesn’t hold any weight.  I tell myself that if I can’t commit wholeheartedly to this decision, it won’t work out for either party.  Therefore, taking Road 2 can be understood as the best decision for all involved.  Road 2 shouldn’t be as worn and trodden as road 1, but don’t be afraid to lay new tracks when warranted.    


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‘I’m not ready to be done Dad.  I don’t want to leave yet’ is a phrase that I cherish and honor when I can. 
She’s taking Road 2, and saying ‘no’ to being done with something.

 

Road 3


Sometimes we can’t commit to a yes or no right now.  We aren’t ready to.  I actually use road 3 often.  I’m not so great at deciding on things right away.  I like to ruminate on the idea for a while…sleep on it in a sense.  I have come to realize that spontaneity is powerful and rewarding, and have started implementing that more in my day to day.  However, on some big decisions, I still hold value in deliberate consideration, weighing pros and cons over time and as I think of them, and documenting thoughts in a journal, before making a final choice. While mulling over an idea for a couple of days, an important variable will often arise that easily determines the outcome for me.  It’s like a subtle, ‘did you consider this?’  And I will know right then and there whether it’s road 1 or 2 that I’m taking.  Road 3 seems to be a loop around that brings you back to the same intersection later on.  It allows some soul searching, some road tripping, and a few pit stops to get your bearings and reassess your current location/situation.  

Maybe you have to let some time pass before you become close with that special someone. Perhaps you’re waiting for them to work something out on their end.  

You may need to save some money up, or line up your budget differently first.  

Maybe you feel overwhelmed and need to put a decision on the back burner until you feel more centered.  

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Decision making at the Scoop Deck

 

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What would you choose?  I go with something different every visit

 

Whatever it may be, we all have reasons to take road 3 at certain crossroads.  As I spoke of in the Road 2 section…be confident and content with your choice to wait on the decision.  It’s not a ‘non-decision’…it’s a decision to wait, and lock in to something when you are totally ready to do so.  With the quick pace of our lives, I’m often telling Matilda, ‘let’s go, make a decision quickly!’  But I try to catch myself…thinking, ‘wait…she can have all the time she wants to make a decision’ (within reason!).  I believe it will strengthen the ground she stands on, and empower her ability to make wise and timely decisions for the rest of her life.  

Be aware of your surroundings when you come to a crossroads.  Simply pay attention to your emotions and the physical changes taking place.  Take a breath before accelerating down the next road.  Remember, each and every even small decision will set your life onto a different path…possibly a different plane.  So choose wisely!  I wish you the best in your decision making!

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The sun is on me…and it feels good.

 

Music:  Kaleo is a band that started in Iceland.  That might contribute to their unique sound. I often forget about them for a while, and then hear them on the radio.  The sound is always intriguing…and since I don’t own any of their music, I always go home and put on some of their live stuff.  Matilda and I caught them live at the Newburyport Riverfront Music Festival last year.  They rock!  Give this song a listen!





i’m no different than you

just my thoughts man – right or wrong…just what I was feeling at the time’ – Jay Z

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We cannot really judge one another, or blame one another for our thoughts and opinions.  It is honestly best to forgive someone for ideas you disagree with.  Best to appreciate their perspective.  Taking this approach broadens your own perspective, and allows you to employ a broader scope…a wider lens.

 

I once heard a line related to this, and it’s surfaced often when thinking about others…and our differences.  It basically says that ‘you would do exactly what any other  person does…behave in the same exact manner…had you been born to their parents, in the place they were raised, and brought up the same way’.  I’m not sure where I heard this.  Maybe it just came to me.  Actually, I’ll just go ahead and claim it as mine right now!  However simple it may be, it has provided me with a moral integrity in which I believe we’re all on the same level playing field.  

Here is a healthy practice for you to try:  think of a child living in a very different situation and place than what you have…preferably a child in a different culture, different socio-economic situation…something almost ‘opposite’ of you.  Then consider the fact that this child could have been you!  What if you were born there?  Had to walk in those shoes?  In that climate?  This consideration has helped me develop a better understanding of others, and has led to less judgement.  It’s allowed me to listen more effectively.  It’s let me submit to others, and forgive, and appreciate.

This can sound like a weak position.  Always submitting to others, and forgiving when people hurt me, or bring adversity to my life?  Won’t that just lead to people steam rolling over me and using me as a doormat?  No.  Believe it or not, giving up control and judgement has given me a stronger sense of who I am.  Instead of wasting so much energy on trying to control others, and situations, to no avail…I maintain a positive mindset, and often frame a response in my mind with the phrase ‘Is that so?’  This provides a position where almost nothing can knock me off course, regardless of the strength of the tides.  I acknowledge the potential storm.  I maintain the secure and reliable mast, and calmly set the main sail.  Then I begin wayfinding through the tempest.  I feel like Maui…with Moana at my side!  

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i am moanaaaaaaaaaa!
I once feared different ideas and opinions, opposite of my own.  I was once intimidated by others who stood for values other than mine.  This fear is what I believe to be one of the obstacles between groups not seeing eye to eye.  And considering how many of us often fear the unknown, it may not even be a conscious wall we’re constructing within our minds.  A natural cascading and compounding of negative or fear-filled thoughts can build, without us being aware.  It’s as if within our typical day, during our tasks, we mindlessly grab a brick and place it on an arbitrary line.  When the day is done, we’ve put up a faulty facade…a sloppy screen between ourselves and others.  It gives you a false sense of security, and you may be proud of where you stand and what you’ve built.  But the wall was constructed on careless judgement, weak mortar mix, an uneven foundation…not deliberate decisions, mindful masonry, on a level, compacted cornerstone.   


I’ve already blogged some about being aware of our own thoughts, and the benefits of thinking positive.  Here is a post related to that.  This awareness will help to clean up your rubble if you have some, and strengthen your position and security without the need of a wall.  What’s the best way to find that awareness?  Start meditating.  And start being mindful of your thoughts and reactions to different subjects.  It takes practice like anything else.  But with a little training, you’ll find yourself on a journey filled with happiness and contentment. Your shoulder may soften with the chip removed, allowing others a better landing to lean on.  

One final thought that I think of often is ‘how do i make other people feel?’  At the end of our short time in this place, this question may be central to how successful our time was actually invested.  This is of course difficult to know, as we can’t totally understand how others feel about us.  And it’s less about what others ‘think’ of us…more about the kindness, support, generosity, and acceptance that we provide…hopefully leading to a comfort and security felt by the people around us.  I believe a good, healthy self check-in is to ask yourself ‘how am I making other people feel?’


You feel me?



Music:  Here is an oldie but a goodie from The Lumineers.  The band leader’s wife told him he was like the Dead Sea…that she’ll never sink when he’s with her…and he wrote a song including this sentiment.  How romantic. 

emailsig