Tag Archives: my_life

Quick, Ariah, Say something Important!

I’ve made a few changes to Trying to Follow, as you can see. The new layout seems to be working well. Hopefully you like it (tell me if you don’t). I also haven’t been posting as much, my way of recognizing that you probably don’t have all the time in the world to read my writings.

I also fixed up my feed/subscription set up and consolidated things. To my shock I found that about 83 people are subscribed to my blog. That means by email, feed readers, etc. about 80 people check up on what I’m writing and posting each day. That doesn’t include the countless others that stumble across my site on a search for images on “tagging” (by far my most popular search referral). The numbers are quite overwhelming.

As far as podcasting goes, I’ve also made a change. In the constant struggle to find time and a consistent co-host for any sort of regularly scheduled broadcasting. Instead, I’ve started to do my own short little daily podcast, which I usually do by phone (sorry about the sound quality):
A Few Minutes with Ariah

I’ll still post a seperate podcast for Trying to Follow when I have longer more in depth audio with co-host and other folks. But for now, if you want to hear some daily thoughts with me, just subscribe to the one above. No more then ten minutes a day normally.

I also found from the little design survey (view results) that people search this site in all sorts of different ways. So, I’m trying to clean up my categories and tags to make browsing easier for you.

That’s about it for the update here. I haven’t had as much time to punch on the keys, but I have been doing the podcasting a bit, so here is the latest:

Ode to my mother

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

I’m not sure when my mom first started reading this book to me, but the words still bring tears to her eyes. Today is my mom’s birthday. This beautiful women who brought me into the world has spent close to half her life raising me. Words cannot express my gratitude and thankfulness I have for my parents, but I’ll try and say a few things to share what my mother has meant to me.

I used to chuckle sort of awkwardly whenever my mom would read a story to us that would make her cry (Love You Forever, Goodnight Moon, and The Giving Tree to name a few). I guess back then I didn’t understand the depth of love my mom had for me or what those tears meant. Now, I cry whenever I read those words (frequently sent at the end of an email or card from my mom). One thing my mom has taught me is that emotions are okay. I can’t imagine what it would have been like being raised with the warped idea that “real men don’t cry.” I think I would have a lot more bottled up anger and agression then I do. I can remember many different occassions, sitting in my room, in the kitchen, on the side of the road, crying, and my mom was there with me, to comfort me, to listen to me, to allow me to feel, to truly feel. Thank you for teaching me it’s okay to cry.

Occassionly, I’ve heard the question asked, “what’s the most memorable saying or value you remember from your childhood.” I’m usually surprised by how many people’s most memorable things are negative. For me, by far the most memorable value I remember, and still hear today is that I can do anything. This is a strong testimony to my mom’s enthusiasm and pride in her children. To this day, my mom believes I could be an Astronaut or a professional baseball player if I decided to start now. Nothing is impossible for the children of my mother. And the amazing thing is, when you grow up hearing that, you really believe it. I really have always felt in life that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I should point out, that this was never done in a way that made me feel dissappointed at failure, I never felt pressure that I would let my mom down if I didn’t win, or make good grades, or become famous.

You see my mom was there rooting for me every step of the way. Her patented cheer could be heard on the sidelines of my soccer games, karate matches, football, track, graduation, wedding, and even on the phone when I accomplish things here. And her enthusiasm is quite contagious to be honest. When the youth I work with brought home some outstanding grades, I couldn’t help but jump off the walls and cheer like my mom always has for me. You can’t help but feel good about the things your doing and the things you’ve done when she’s there cheering you along. And it’s not just her cheering that let’s you know she’s interested in you.

My mom loves people. Someone wrote me a kind note once about how I made them feel special, I get that from my mom. When you meet my mom, and let her have a few minutes in conversation with you, you’ll go away thinking she might have mistaken you for some TV celebrity. I’m not talking about getting your autograph and taking a picture with you, but my mom loves talking to people and hearing their stories. She’ll ask you questions all night long over dinner and you’ll realize your boring and mundane job is much more exciting then you realized (I should note that my dad also loves people, and asks lot’s of questions. Quite lucky, and sometimes greatly intimidated, is the person who joins us for dinner and faces the interrogation that is my parents. Very loved to be sure). And the truth is, the questions, the interest, the love, it doesn’t get old. Many afternoons during high school went like this. I’d come home off the bus and make myself a bowl of cereal or some ramen noodles. Mom would already be home or arrive shortly there after and we’d talk for hours, about the day, about life, about crazy ideas. Many evenings continued in similar fashion. Me usually sitting on the counter in the kitchen, chatting away late into the night. I can’t even begin to remember all the things we talked about for hours on end. The truth is I think I did most of the talking, my mom just sat listening excitedly, asking more questions and helping me grow and think in ways I probably didn’t ever consider before.

My mom is creative, and we have the people painted on the garage door to prove it. I think I was in seventh or eigth grade when my mom painted those dancing stick figures on our garage. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t embarrased at first. It’s hard for a middle schooler to maintain his idea of coolness and conformity when someone was dropping him off at home. We have a sign in our house that I think reads, “A wacky wild wonderful woman lives here.” Looking back now I realize I had a much more exciting and colorful experience then many people. It’s as if most people grow up in black and white, and we grew up with full color blaring. My mom painted the walls all kinds of funky colors (before anyone else thought it was cool), we had palm trees in the basement, our mailbox, and even our toilet set was painted. My mom taught me to think outside the box, to ‘dare to be different’ (she even gave me a cool bookmark that said that). I know the creative energy that was always flowing through our house had a profound affect on me. It’s taught me to question authority, question conformity and the status quo, and those are all very good things. One of our family’s favorite books, The Giving Tree, really is about our family. My mom has taught me to love life, to live it to the full. This is no time to walk around worried about what other people think of you. Don’t just dream dreams, live them. Live your life in color.

Thank you Mom, I love you, Happy Birthday!

New Look and new features…

Thanks everyone for taking a minute and filling out the survey. If you haven’t I would really appreciate it if you could.
There will obviously be a few glitches along the way but I wanted to try something different, a little more friendly and readable. Let me know your thoughts. I’ll try and continue to make it as useful as possible, but I didn’t want all the clutter. Let me know if anything about it is distracting also.

One new thing I wanted to point out is that for a limited time I’ve been featuring some quotes on the sidebar (on the left) of the frontpage. The quotes are provided by my brother, Keane, which he posts on a xanga. I’d strongly encourage you to check them out here or subscribe to his blog so you can read them each day. Keane seems to find the most fascinating and awe-inspiring quotes around. You probably would do well to just read Keane’s quotes, rather then spending time reading lot’s of entire books.

Also, like I said I’m no longer posting the daily podcast as a blog post. If you want to get it daily you can come to the frontpage of the blog and listen there. Or you can subscribe or visit My Odeo Podcast. I hope you keep listening and let me know if we need a forum for discussion on the podcast posts. Right now I’ve started a “Why?” series on the podcast trying to discuss my own answers as to “Why” I do certain things, from where I choose to live, to what I eat, to why I ride that funky bike. Let me know if you have any other why questions for me.

More writing to come, I just need some motivation…

Daily Minutes moved to sidebar

The daily minutes have been fun to do, especially with Mindy by my side. However, doing them daily has caused me to neglect my writing, or rather replace it. I still want to try and post one podcast a day, but I will no longer be posting it as an entry on this blog.
That’s an important change for you email subscribers (most of you), if you want to hear the podcast you’ll need to stop by the blog and listen on the player on the sidebar. Hopefully you do, because I really enjoy the opportunity to share thoughts with you. The other change is that I’m going to try and stop doing them at night when we are tired. This means I might not have mindy with me in my future podcast. Hopefully that won’t be too traumatic for any of you and we’ll try and get her in more often then not.
I’ll probably be using the podcasting from my phone feature that the awesome folks at Evoca have available (and odeo is phasing out).

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast if you want to keep receiving notices of it:
My Odeo Podcast

Ode to My Father

Today, September 21st, marks half a century of life for my dad. It seems an appropriate time for me to provide a toast, an ode, a speech acknowledging the greatness of this man.

It’s sad that it takes most of us growing up and moving out of the house before we realize just how significant our parent’s have been in our lives. For me, working daily with a lot of youth who have not had a father in their lives, I’m continually in awe of how blessed I am to have had a father in my life.
I’ll start by saying my dad was not perfect. It was the imperfection that I would focus on at times growing up and is usually the ammo for worthless childhood arguments that have no real impact on except later regret at how mean I was to my parent’s at times.
I look back now and I see how beneficial and important it was for me to see my dad’s imperfections. It taught me that it’s okay to not have it all together, that even grown-ups are learning and growing, and even grown-ups need to say their sorry sometimes. It’s taught me that being real and honest with one another is much more important then having a surfacy, fake, polite relationship. I know the lesson that it is okay to make mistakes is something a lot of people never learned, and they daily confront overwhelming stress because of it.
I remember two classes in high school that I almost failed, Freshman year Spanish and Junior year Economics. Junior year was a tough year for me and I was really upset about how hard Economics was and how I was barely passing. My dad simply came by my side and encouraged me that it was okay if I failed the class, that if I gave it my best effort that was what was important. I never felt my school work was about grades, it was about whether I was trying and learning, and it was okay if I made mistakes, at least I tried.

My dad taught me the importance of standing on your own two feet and paving a way for yourself. When I was in high school he ran a temporary employment service. Because of that connection I did a ton of odd jobs for pretty good pay, sweeping at construction sites, bundling newspapers, flipping carpets, supervising a bouncy castle, and many more. I think it was the summer before my junior year of high school, my dad told me I need to go out on my own and get a job myself. We got into a big argument about it, I couldn’t see the point, and honestly I was deathly afraid of venturing out on my own. After a few more yelling matches and tears I finally gave in, dressed up, typed up a resume and stepped out. I walked out of my house and down the street, completely on my own and I got my first real job. I didn’t realize it then, but that was an extremely powerful experience for me. It took my dad pushing me out of the nest before I ever learned I could fly.

If I could pin point it, I would say the beginning of my spiritual growth was at Promise Keepers 1996 in Chicago. I had just finished 8th grade and I went with my dad, and another father and son, friends of ours. Before that I’d never thought of church or Christianity as anything more then an event we attended on Sunday. I can’t remember any of the speakers or anything, but I remember the event, because it was the first time I’d ever heard the things I did. Here I was with my Dad learning and intentional pursuing how to follow after God. The speakers talked about Loving your spouse, loving your kids, pursuing reconcialition with one another, being humble and serving, and here was my Dad spending his time, energy and money to do this and to bring me along as well! There was a lesson on intentionality that I will never forget. I realized that day that if I wanted to grow and change and become a better person, that it was something I had to work at. Books, sermons, a Bible, they all took on a whole new meaning to me. If I wanted to do anything in life I could (my mom taught me that one), but it would take work. Loving your parents, loving your spouse, your kids, your neighbor, God, it wasn’t just something that happened, it was something you worked at. And now I’m learning how to love my dad, the way he’s been learning how to love me for 24 years.

My dad has always been there for me. He’s taught me that family and relationships are more important then jobs, money, possessions. My dad has changed jobs a bit, and I know that many times it has been because his family is more important then any pursuit of success. My dad helped coach my soccer team when I was in elementary school (he still has the 15 year old sweatshirt to prove it), he came to my high school soccer games at 3 in the afternoon and my track meets even when I was continually dead last in the hurdles. My dad’s work schedule never got in the way of being with the family. He was there when I had knee surgery on a Wednesday morning and hanging out or picking us up when we got out early on a week day.

I could go on and on, but I realize this is getting longer then I anticipated. It would take me 50 years to write about all the ways my dad has influenced my life.
I love my dad. I know how blessed I am, because a lot of people have not had a father like mine, it is something I won’t take for granted.

Thank you Dad, I love you, and Happy Birthday.

Too much in my head!

Wow, I’ve really been neglecting my writing. The crazy thing about it for me is that I recognize how important and theraputic and helpful it is for me to write. I’ve had all these ideas and thoughts inside my head and I haven’t taken the time to write many of them down. I like putting them on the blog because it encourages me to think further about them.
Sometimes I forget about things I wanted to write, other times, like now, they bang around in my head for weeks till I finally sit down and punch them out. These might be short post here, but hopefully I can get my thoughts out well either way. I know your not interested in a post like this anyways.

P.S. More podcast to follow.

Did you miss me? I learned a little something.

Sorry for the delay in posting, I neglected to tell you that I was out at a work conference. For those who are interested, here’s some links to some of the stuff I learned about…

The Uhlich Voices, from UCAN, tore up the stage in St. Louis.

Strategies for Empowered Living’s speaker Cassandra Mack was incredible, I learned a lot from her.

Jaiya John was another great speaker. His heart and attitude really connected with the kids.

There where some other speakers and events too, but I can’t find any links for those.

9/11 – How did it shape you?

9/11/06 is a memorable day for many. Anyone who has the access to technology that would allow them to read this blog probably knows exactly where they were on that day.

Regardless of your thoughts now, perspectives on the war, politics, etc. There is no denying that 9/11/06 had a major effect on many of our lives, our way of thinking, the issues we thought through, etc.

I want to make this an open thread for readers to share briefly how 9/11 shaped them, but to encourage that I’ll start with a brief thought.

Before 9/11 I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between a Democrat and a Republican (I knew they were different, just didn’t know who supported what). 9/11 caused me to think about my views on politics, war, evil and terrorism.

So, now it’s your turn:

How did 9/11/06 Shape you?