Adventures in Fatherhood

Being the father of an active 2-year old at the age of 45 has its challenges. For one thing, there are simply times when I can’t keep up with him as well as I want to or should, and the results are usually unexpected and hilarious. This past weekend, John Adams and I, at the request of his grandparents – my in-laws – went north to Upper Darby, PA to cat sit their elderly boy, Patch, while they were living the high life in Walt Disney World. I decided to connect with some family and friends for lunch and dinner, because we don’t see our “Philly Family” as much as we’d like, and it would also pass the time more smoothly with an active toddler, keeping me sane.

We met up with John Adams’s uncle, Father John, for lunch on Thursday, and with our friends Chuck, Diane, Louise, and Joe for dinner at Applebees later that night. Both visits were wonderful. I can’t even begin to say how much I miss all those faces. John Adams was passably behaved for a rammy 2-year old in restaurants all day, but by Friday all he wanted to do was run and play. Go figure, right?

On Friday we met up with my mother – 86 with early onset dementia – basically sitting at Wendy’s and having the same conversation every five minutes. John Adams was good with grandma. I think he sensed the illness and was suitably reverent. But then for supper I took him to visit his Uncle Todd’s and Aunt Deana’s, and there was this pool, and a lot of land, and it was Toddler Time!

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John Adams at play

From the moment we arrived (and for the subsequent three hours) he never stopped moving. First, it was the pool: anything we could throw in it – toys, noodles, balls – was fair game. Off came the shoes, off came the socks, the shirt, and finally the pants. Soon my little boy was racing ecstatically in his partially pool-soaked wet diaper around and around their in-ground pool. I hadn’t brought his suit assuming it was pre-Memorial Day and it would be too cold for him. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He splashed, he kicked, he giggled, he ran, he stubbed his toes, he fell, he got up, he cursed the ground for daring to trip him; he did it all over again. He was the proverbial pig in poop.

About an hour and a half into our playfest he spied a squirrel on the lawn – Todd and Deana have a large, rural, secluded property with lots of room for running – and took off after it. He is part dog I’m fairly certain. Clad in only a partially clinging wet diaper he treed the beast while I somewhat helplessly tried to keep up. When the squirrel proved a non-event he whirled around to notice a basketball court with about ten basketballs lying in the bushes around the court. He got to work acquiring each one and throwing it on the court for his bouncing pleasure. About this time, I decided it was time to bring Nancy into the hi-jinks, so I started to FaceTime her on my phone so she could witness her crazy son rummaging in the bushes in a desperately clinging diaper. As the gods would have it, she connected and her face appeared on screen just as John Adams’s diaper gave up the ghost and dropped off him to reveal a gleaming white set of heiny cheeks bent over in the scrub. Nancy exclaimed somewhat shocked and amused, “John Adams! What are you doing?” He whirled around, buck naked, basketball in hand, delighted to hear and see his mother on screen.

“Mommy! I’m just playing with my ball-ees!”

This moment has been brought to you by Fatherhood: Doing the best we can for millions of years.

Namaste,

Jason

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It’s been a long day, Daddy!

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Ascending the Summit

Well, it’s late spring again, and that can mean only one thing: The Hay House World Summit has rolled around again, and I’m cramming in as much free bathroom morning listening as I can to inspire my day and change my life for the better. Since 2013, Hay House Publishing has held a multi-week free online listening intensive where people can choose from a range of emerging and established self-help and spiritual authors and listen to one-hour conversations with them. There are movies, supplementary worksheets, and this year a self-guided workbook with multiple courses of study; and the best part is that it’s all free!

Let me say up front I’m not affiliated with Hay House and I get no money or press from praising the Summit. It’s an event that for the last four years I have participated in and look forward to each year, and I just really think it’s worth people’s time to participate in. In 2012, Nancy took me to Atlanta for my birthday for their I Can Do It conference. I Can Do It is essentially the same thing as the Summit but on steroids. You are there, the speakers are there, and for several days you are flooded with positive energy, thoughts, and personalities. The big difference of course is the cost, and I Can Do It isn’t cheap, and it’s gotten much more expensive since we went.

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Nancy and I at I Can Do It! Atlanta, 2012

But for those of us who are financially challenged, the Hay House World Summit fills a much needed void, and until we can put the money aside to go a live event again, it will do nicely.

As of this writing, the HHWS 2016 is starting Week 3 of four, so there’s still time to get a healthy dose of listening in. Since it started on May 7, I’ve listened to Brendan Burchard, Louise Hay, Greg Frucci, Mike Dooley, and J.B. Glossinger, and watched three short movies – Painting the Future, My Greatest Teacher, and the late Debbie Ford’s The Shadow Effect – all for free. I’ve learned about bone broth, the GAPs Diet, strategies for planning my day more productively; I’ve done a guided meditation, and contemplated my “shadow nature.” With 100 authors to listen to over the four weeks (plus multiple movies), your experience won’t be mine, but there’s no telling what you may learn to help you grow, or at the very least, what you may want to learn more about after the Summit closes. 

Hay House World Summit 2016

And make no mistake, I’m very much aware that one of the purposes of the HHWS is to expand awareness of these authors’ work so that you want to go out and buy their books, hear them speak, and explore more of what they do. That’s a given. Without someone buying their merchandise they wouldn’t exist. But it’s also a given that by signing up you are not obligated to buy anything; just listen, explore, learn, and grow.

If you’re interested in signing up here’s the link to begin.

https://www.hayhouseworldsummit.com/

Now if you’ll excuse me Louise Hay has something uplifting to tell me in my bathtub, and I don’t want to miss what she has to say. Won’t you join us?

Namaste,

Jason

 

Spiritual Gizmos

In late summer of 1984, my mother, members of my extended family, and I took a much needed beach vacation to Ocean City, MD. It was a typical group vacation for us in those days: we were all crammed into one or two rooms in a semi-moldy motel a block or two from the beach; we spent most of our time roaming the beach or boardwalk; and we ended each day with a group meal, usually a place like Phillip’s Crab House or something like it. Nothing fancy, or complicated, or overly expensive. Just us, a beach, bikes, skee-ball, and some crabs. Those were simpler times.

In 1984, the movie Gremlins was “all the rage” and my mother thought that little, cuddly, Gizmo was the cutest thing she had ever seen. We had seen the movie together and she, having a penchant for sci-fi/horror ate it up. I loved my mother and determined to get her a little stuffed Gizmo that she could cuddle up to at night. A shop along Ocean Boulevard (?) – whatever the name is of the major artery running through OC, I honestly don’t remember – was selling them cheaply. So one morning I stole away from the motel on my bicycle while the rest of the family was getting ready for beach and breakfast to acquire for her the little token of affection. The trip across the eight-lane fast-paced strip of traffic went fine, as did the purchasing of the toy. It was on the return trip where I ran into trouble, and a situation I have never been able to explain.

I crossed the first four lanes of northbound traffic and made it to the island median dividing the highway without incident. I was so excited to get the toy to her and see her face. There was a lull in the oncoming southbound traffic and I decided to “go for it.” I was thirteen, strong, under my own pedal power; I could make it across the four remaining lanes before the distant traffic was upon me. What could possibly go wrong?

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Gizmo from the movie Gremlins

Suddenly, with two lanes left to go on the rapidly moving highway my handlebars fell forward and collapsed into the front wheel. Some screw had given way, or some bolt had come undone, and I had no control over the bike. I instinctively hit the brakes and stopped abruptly straddling the second and third southbound lane of traffic. I was perpendicular to the oncoming traffic and I was an unavoidable target. The impending cars were just feet from me. I could feel the wind and heat rushing at me and hear the horns blaring. I was going to die.

Without explanation my stationary bike wrenched from its position and shifted parallel to the speeding cars. My body was bent over the front of the bike, and my hands were still on the broken handlebars that offered me no steering capability. It was as if someone or something ripped the bike off the macadam at the last possible moment and placed it back in the only way that cars could swerve to miss me. In an instant about six cars whizzed past me (without slowing) and were dust on the horizon. I looked behind me to see where other cars had been stopped at a red light, so nothing was coming for a moment. I put my feet on the road, coasted to the safety of the sidewalk, got off the bike, sat down by the road, and wept.

I don’t know what happened that summer day in 1984. By all rights of logic I should’ve been killed. I did nothing to save myself, the whole thing happened too quickly, and I had absolutely no control over the motion of the bike after the handlebars broke. I had to awkwardly walk it back to the motel for my brother to fix. Did God’s hand reach down and turn the bike to save me? Maybe, but why? Was He trying to tell me that He exists? Was He trying to keep me alive to do something for Him later? Did He break the handlebars in the first place to create a scenario where I would need saving? Or was my intentional desire to live so great that somehow I used the power of my thoughts and/or connection to Source to alter both reality and the laws of physics. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I was “given” a second chance that day. I should’ve died, but I didn’t. I should’ve been a tragic statistic; instead I was a miraculous survivor. I’ve spent much of my life trying to work through that series of events and I still have no answers. All I know is that I am grateful that I’m still here when I shouldn’t be. And honestly, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, except perhaps I just needed the reminder myself that things could be much, much worse. But by the power of grace, or God, or intention, they’re not, and I’m still here, and trying and often failing to make the world a better place one day at a time. And if this story helps you to find something to be grateful for today then perhaps I’ve done my job for now. I’m grateful you took the time to read this. Be alive and well.

Namaste,

Jason

Oh, and by the way, Mom loved the little Gizmo toy, and never really understood what happened to me that day. I guess that’s just another way those pesky, elusive gremlins operate on our lives.

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Mom, my nephew Todd, and me at the beach circa 1974

 

I’m so glad we Met: Celebrating 10 Years (Almost) Together

Yesterday, April 30th, enjoying the briefest of breaks from our son, John Adams, who is visiting with his lovably zany grandparents in PA, my wife and I went to the opera. Specifically, Nancy and I went to the high definition live performance broadcast of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of Richard Strauss’s one-act opera Elektra. For the better part of two hours (this was a comparably short offering with no intermission) we were swept up in the grandeur and glamour of the NYC opera scene from the comfort of our local Regal Cinema. Introduced by soprano Renée Fleming and prefaced by a short interview with Elektra herself – soprano Nina Stemme – by General Manager Peter Gelb, this performance was the last one in their 10th Anniversary season; that is to say, for ten years the Met has been piping live performances into movie theatres around the world to critical acclaim and financial success. Nancy and I have been fortunate enough to have been partaking in the experience for the last nine years.

MetOpera Live in HD made its debut broadcast on Dec. 30, 2006,with celebrated Broadway director Julie Taymor’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Season 1 consisted of six operas, none of which Nancy or I saw. By season 2, the Met had expanded its offerings by two, making that eight separate broadcasts, and we, in a fit of what must have been newfound glee, took in three operas – Macbeth, Manon Lescaut, and Peter Grimes – back to back in the spring of 2008. While we have never rivaled that consecutive track record since then, our selective opera going has been consistent and mostly memorable.

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Nina Stemme in Turandot

Over the last nine years we have been fortunate to take in Anna Netrebko in Lucia di Lammermoor, the late director Anthony Minghella’s visually stunning Madama Butterfly, the newly imagined entire Ring Cycle of Wagner, Puccini’s Turandot, Verdi’s Aida and Rigoletto, and many more.

Opera is not for everyone and not all operas are for everybody. But since the beginning each broadcast has included the opera itself, interviews with cast and/or artistic staff, intermission backstage camera work where one gets to watch the mind-boggling scenery shifting between acts as orchestrated by the army of Met stage hands, previews of other operas, and of course the creature comforts of popcorn, soda, and not having to go to NYC or pay in-person prices. This last outing cost us $27/ticket plus popcorn and soda, but the experience of seeing these professionals at the top of their game is worth far more than that.

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The Rainbow Bridge in Wagner’s Das Rheingold

As I said, opera might not be for everyone, but the Met and Peter Gelb have been trying to bring it to a whole new generation of enthusiasts for a decade now and their results have been impressive to say the least. The new season for 2016-2017 has been recently announced. Here’s the link to check it out, see clips of past performances, and plan your opera going year:

http://www.metopera.org/Season/In-Cinemas/?

Here’s hoping we see you in the aisle seat next season.

Bravo! Bravissimo!

Namaste,

Jason

P.S. What did I think of Elektra? Honestly, not my favorite opera. But Stemme’s performance was thrilling, electric, emotionally exhausting. There’s always something worth your time.