The Hardest Parts of Being Dad

When my wife first got pregnant over four years ago I knew I wasn’t ready to be a Dad. I hardly ever spent time with little kids and my patience for anything in life was a thin sheet of ice. There wasn’t one part of how to take care of a child that I knew. We went to the local Barnes and Noble one day and I bought several books on being a dad and on what to expect when my wife was pregnant. I probably read a chapter of one book and never picked it up again. Going in as a rookie was going to have to work.

Now, I stay home with my munchkins every day and bring them to the gym with me when I have to go workout and train classes. I can tackle any task involved with caring for my children. Each day is a new adventure and it’s surprising how much I learn from my children. Watching them is like sitting down to catch an old school Animal Planet show where the narrator gives a play by play of the lion stalking the gazelle. They certainly are interesting creatures.

But it’s not all fun and games. There are some hard things about being a dad that get to me and as is for any parent anywhere in the world, it’s exhausting. I feel I’m in the position of being home with them every day as a spiritual lesson on how to be a better human being. It’s part of my life experience to be there for them and teach them how to live. But often, I just want to escape.

It’s not easy being dad, or mom. One of the hardest parts is understanding the simple fact that my children are exactly that, children. They’re going to do crazy things. They’re going to destroy my rug, slime up my chairs, throw things, break things, climb things, and turn everything upside down. There will be long nights of screaming kids fighting to not go to sleep. There will be battles at the dinner table when my daughter doesn’t eat her carrots or when my son won’t keep his filthy feet off the table top. Keeping composure is tough. We want to scream and yell to release some of the tension their behavior creates, the hard part is being calm.

One of the toughest challenges of my life has without a doubt been the fight of exhaustion. As an introvert who thrives on alone time and regains mental clarity and energy during that time, being with kids every day drains me completely, by ten o’clock in the morning. It wouldn’t be fair to not say this, but without a quick nap when they nap, I’d probably operate like a Walking Dead zombie. When my kids drain my mental energy it’s easy for me to lose control of my work, my purpose, and my attitude. “I don’t give a fuck” has been a statement I’ve declared many times in the last three years, because quite frankly, when I’m exhausted I honestly do not give a flying fugazi.

Caring for them when they don’t feel well, finding them another option when they don’t want pork, trying to contain them in the play gate at the gym during class, and having an adult conversation in their presence sucks the life out of me. But before I know it, they’ll be in school and gone all the time. They’ll be going to wrestling practice or jiu jitsu class. They’ll be sleeping over friend’s houses and partyting until the sun comes up. They’ll be asking for gas money and looking at colleges.

The hardest part of being dad is that knowing one day, they won’t be hanging on my shoulders and spilling my water on my computer and paperwork. For now, I need to enjoy the moment.

In the Gym With The Little Ones

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I love watching my kids at the gym. Today as I was working on my Sumo Deadlifts I glanced at my daughter as she set up a few two and a half pound plates, perfectly in line on the mat she chose to lay on. She began lifting them up and down, much like I would do a floor press with dumbbells. Most likely she picked this up by watching either me or the members at the gym. My son was running around touching everything. Climbing up the elliptical and hanging off of the TRX straps. He walked over to the kettlebell section and tried, unsuccessfully, to lift the fifteen pound kettlebell. He does however usually walk around with the ten.

At the gym, when it’s just me doing my thing, my kids run free and explore this awesome place in their eyes. In one corner there are tires, a one of them is the car tire from my wife’s old car. She got a flat and instead of letting the repair shop keep it and throw it away, I kept it and my daughter flips it. The other corner has medicine balls that my kids pretend at times are Atlas stones. If you ever watched the World’s Strongest Man contest on ESPN, the atlas stones are those big concrete balls that the lifters pick up and place on a platform. Some days the medicine balls are used as soccer balls.

My kids are always watching me when I am working out. They see me do pull-ups and they laugh hysterically. I wonder what they think is funny. Exercising in front of the kids will hopefully develop in their minds the desire for them to exercise, to live a healthy lifestyle. They see Daddy do. There’s no talking about some day, one day, maybe, or I wish.. it’s action and they see it.

There is a lot of things a young child can do to start to develop fitness. One thing parents can do too, which is very hard to accept, is to allow their children to crawl as long as possible and NOT push for them to become walkers fast. It’s not a sign of baby genius or being advanced. Crawling is important for core strength and the strength children develop crawling will carry over into the rest of their adult life.

My daughter is four. She lifts medicine balls, pulls sleds, lifts kettlebells, does bear crawling and crab walks, and carries two to five pound weights around the gym. She does everything we should be doing. The basics. And she loves it.

Most important is the fact that my children see me working on improving my strength and my body and my mind. They see me not settling for easy or excuses. They see things getting done, as they should, and the lessons will continue as they grow and my only hope is they learn to love the fitness lifestyle and adapt training into their lives.

 

5 Things I Learned So Far From Being a Stay At Home Dad

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In the morning when I get home from the early classes at Activate Fitness I rush to make shakes for my wife and I. With the sound of foot steps and ice being crushed and blended for our morning smoothie, the little critters begin to stir. Our neurologically impaired cats tip and tumble their way to their food bowl and begin begging for breakfast. The other little critters yell for Mommy or a show. They want to sit and watch Bo on the Go or Care Bears or some other stupid children toon show. But we have to go. I run a mid morning class at the gym, and they come with. It’s a dash to get out of the house early enough to make it to the gym so I can get my personal workout done before the next wave of awesome Activators rolls through. Some days I get half a workout done, and I’m cool with that. Once the members come in and class begins it’s often a fight to get my kids to sit in their gated area away from swinging kettlebells and flying jump ropes. But they listen and usually it’s only because I promise them Turkey Bacon Jerky or a lollipop.

In between the mid morning class and the evening classes at Activate Fitness, it’s home for us and the insanity ensues. Being a stay at home dad has changed my life and while it’s for better there are times when it’s been for the worse as I’ve had to battle with emotions and feelings about getting the job done and handling the constant need for attention. Here are five things I have learned in my time staying home with my two silly fun kids.

1. I have more Patience than I thought.

Screaming kids, spilled milk, carpet stains, nap fighting, and kids not listening on a consistent basis is nerve racking and mind blowing. Some days I feel like mush and brain fucked but I realize that I have more patience than I ever thought I do. While it can get crazy and completely overwhelming, it’s just spilled milk. I’d rather see spilled milk than baby shit on the walls.

2. Tend Your Field

As a business owner and someone who enjoys books and writing, I find it extremely difficult to get the job done. There are too many days that go in a row where I don’t write or read with total concentration. This used to infuriate me until I heard a man named Earl Nightingale talk about “tending our field” and doing the best we can. What he means is that in this moment we have a field that needs to be taken care of. It could be driving to the store or giving your children a bath. That moment is the field of life that you’re in and your purpose at that moment is to take care of that field to the best of your ability. So when I am home and I’m stressed out about setting up consultations at the gym and my kids are telling me they’re hungry, my field isn’t booking a consultation. It’s sitting down and feeding my children a healthy meal and being present with them. This is by far the hardest struggle I face each day but recently after a talk I heard by my mentor, I’ve been working on stopping and smelling the roses.

3. Each Day Is A New Day

Kids have much to teach us, especially about letting things go. Each day is a new day for my kids and they act like it. They don’t concern themselves with yesterday’s matters or tomorrow’s worries. They just be. Part of me tries hard to let it be and I think that’s the problem. Trying to let it be and actually letting it be are different. I believe there is no trying, it’s just being. This lesson is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned from my kids. Circumstances arise each day and being like water and going with the flow is a lot easier on the mind and creates less stress than trying to plug the holes and mend the dam.

4. Their Eyes Are On You

And they want me to put my eyes on them, they want you to see them. Kids watch our every move and listen to everything we say. They create their personalities based off of what ours are like. Kids only want love and approval from their parents and each day they want to learn something new about life. They spill milk and they look at us to see how someone should react. They build a fort out of sheets and toys and look at us for approval of a job well done. They look at the problem they face and look at us to see if they have the ability to find the solution or for advice on how to solve the problem. Kids are watching every move we make and every move they make they are watching us to see if we notice. Stop and take it in.

5. Time Management

I believe there is a need for three to five things to be done daily to help my business grow. I believe they can be tackled in an hour or two. The rest of the time is spent wasted and by being constrained with time because of tending to the needs of children, I’ve learned that with focused effort the work needed to be done can be done quickly. There is a lot of time spent wasted when we don’t concentrate on the vital tasks that need action. Many people create useless meetings, useless reports, useless filing, and instead of doing the three to five things that create progress, they waste time that could be spent building relationships, loving family, or taking care of our self. It’s amazing what can be and how fast when you have kids running around.

Showing My Kids The Warrior Side

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In the gym it was Eight in the morning. I got my kids in, grabbed my coffee and water and proceeded to the squat rack. A few leg swings, deep squats, hip mobility movements, bird dogs, and squat jumps and I was ready to go. Training time. Some days it’s comes good, some days it’s a fight. Most days a little built up energy and anger helps me get through the movements. Most of the time I’m training the kids are wild. They run around the gym, play with the jump ropes, grab the five pound weights and do heavy carries, mimic the burpees I do, or play with the cars I have. Sometimes my daughter puts on the boxing gloves and goes to town on the heavy bag.

Recently I started pushing a little harder during the workouts. It’s eight o’clock and I have class at nine. I need to get done before people start showing up. It’s fascinating to see how little one must truly rest. I used to see guys resting three, four, or five minutes after doing a sub maximal load movement like it was a heavy deadlift and they needed to fully recharge. My rest periods are thirty seconds. Some times less. First I do the main movement whether it’s squats or deadlifts and then I go into the accessory work. I super set everything. It helps me get done, keeps the heart pumping, and by the time I finish the last set I have enough time to wipe the sweat from my face and start class.

If I didn’t train before my nine o’clock class I would find every excuse in the book to skip it. I’ve learned to get moving when the mind doesn’t want to. The days I train I am up at four in the morning. I usually don’t roll out of bed for twenty minutes and hate getting started. The lack of sleep has caught up with me and anyone who says sleep is for pussies is an asshole. Sleep is crucial and when you don’t get enough, you miss it. I get to the gym to open up for my five o’clock class and by the time I’m done with the early morning sessions, I’m shot. I want my bed, I want to close my eyes, I want more sleep. I get home and grab a smoothie and coffee and the kids and head right back for my time.

Lifting weights is more than physical appearance or strength. It’s like a drug. The body creates “feel good” hormones and the negative thoughts fade away. There’s nothing like testing your body through physical movement and resistance. Heavy squats bring more than physical strength. They bring mental toughness and feelings of accomplishment. Heavy carries, sled drags, pull-ups, and dips build muscle, strength, and they conquer the inner bitch in the mind that tries to settle for comfort. When the training starts to feel easy, you know you’re drifting into the comfort zone and convenience. It’s time to change a thing or two.

Training with the kids in the gym is fun but at times ridiculous. When your less than two year old walks under the bar of your heavy squats when in the deep position you kind of freak out a little. What if he grabs my leg? What if the plates slide off since I don’t clip them when training alone? But when he gets close it’s a surge of Adrenaline. I love having my kids in the gym with me. They watch me test myself three times or more a week. They see me put my body through the stress of resistance training. They hear me grunt, curse, sweat, and scream. They see me breathe heavily and give it one more shot. Then they get to watch me work, like the old days when men would bring their sons to the field, the farm, the shop, the railway, or the mines. Kids used to see their fathers bust their ass and I’m grateful mine see it almost everyday. They see me crush weakness and build strength. They see me fight the inner bitch. They see me act with courage and fight fear as I add more weight. Then they see me help other people. I couldn’t ask for anything more. At times it’s crazy but looking at the big picture, it’s beautiful.

10 New Things I Will Teach My Daughter

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Two years ago I wrote a post titled 10 Things I will Teach my Daughter and in the time that has passed I’ve learned and experienced a few things I want her to know when she becomes a young lady. Over the past year I have the fortunate opportunity to spend most of my time with her and my son. As they grow I can see some of the things I teach them finally cementing into who they are. The journey has been crazy but worth it.

Cutting right to the chase, here are ten new things I will teach my daughter.

1. Be Direct and Honest

There is a lot of sugarcoating in the world. A lot of political correctness that hides the truth. Many people are afraid to speak their minds and say what they really want to say. I want my daughter to not hide her truth and the realness of her feelings and opinions. If there is something bothering her, I want her to say so and not hide around metaphors or hidden messages. Just be direct and be honest and confront the fears of doing so. Too many people lie to others about what they are thinking or feeling and try to hide it behind a mask, a cloak, or propaganda. Be direct. Be honest.

2. Keep your friends close

There is nothing more important to the success and happiness to both men and women than good friendships. As she grows she will undoubtedly move from friendship to friendship but it’s important to keep your friends close. As she gets older and moves onto a career and family, I want her to know the importance of having good friends and being with them regularly.

3. Treat Food As An Energy Source

Developing a good relationship with sound nutrition is something to embrace. During the childhood years it’s easy to wants cookies, ice cream, chips, and all kinds of junk foods and candies. While your body may be able to handle it when you are young, you will come to a point where it doesn’t. Developing a good relationship with food will help you stay healthy, active, and happy. Poor nutrition will lead to problems that can be prevented with a good diet. Treat food as an energy source for your livelihood.

4. It’s Okay to Not Fit In

As a coach I’ve seen my share of women who have problems with their body image. In fact, we all do and if you say you don’t, you’re a liar. But, part of the problem of poor esteem and self-beliefs about our body image is created by society, media, and expectations of those around us. You want to be healthy and that is all that matters. A tummy tuck, a crash diet, purple lipstick, the latest fashion trends do not. These messages that we are bombarded with daily are not positive messages and you’d be best to ignore them. It’s okay to not fit in to society’s expectations. Be the real woman you are, no matter what “they” may say.

5. Learn the Real Story

As you grow through the years and you continue to learn in schools or wherever you choose, learn to be objective and to question what you’re learning. There is always the story and then the real story. It’s okay to stand up and question the truth of the story you are learning. The facts matter more than the opinions. If the real facts don’t match what you’re learning, find out why. Even if you get sent to the office.

6. Practice Self-Defense and Martial Arts

And not just to be able to fight if needed. Practice martial arts because of the lessons it will teach you about life. Practice martial arts for the education you will receive in your strengths and weaknesses. Practice martial arts to help you find a clearer path to the real you.

7. There is a Difference Between Men and Boys

If I could go back to the day I asked my wife to marry me I’d tell her to say no. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t a man. I was a little boy, scared of the real world, of real responsibility, and I hadn’t taken my bumps and bruises fully yet. I was learning but nowhere near ready to take her hand in marriage. If my daughter decides to marry a man one day I want her to be sure that he has passed the stage of boyhood and developed into a man. A real man and not a broken child. This is going to be hard. There are many problems with the raising of boys today and if it continues the way it has for years, boys may never become real men.

8. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure.. or trying.

You know what stops most people from living their life activated? Fear.

Fear of failure and fear of the unknown stop us from ever getting to where we want to go. I want my daughter to know that we all fail and there is nothing wrong with failing. Don’t ever be so afraid to try that you don’t DO. Act and if you fail, dust yourself off and TRY again.

9. Be “Outdoorsy”

There is nothing finer than fresh air and being outside in nature. As the technological advances in society continue to change the way we live, remember that you are an animal and your real habitat is outside, under the sun, in the grass, in the river, up the tree, wherever the dirt and trees grow. Fishing is fun and relaxing. Camping is quiet, peaceful, and rejuvenating. Floating down the river in a tub is refreshing. Do it often.

10. Learn to Listen

Yeah I know you’re young now and don’t listen to anything I tell you, but what I’m talking about is learning to listen to other people when they talk to you. Listen to your friends, their problems, their dreams and share your own. Listen to the weatherman. Listen to your father when he tells you to pack extra clothes. Listen to your teacher when she tells you to try harder. Listen to your mother when she tells you women things. Listen to your doctor when they advise you. Listen to your coaches, they’ll help make you better. Advice, education, and information will come from every direction. Some of it is wise and some of it isn’t. Listen to it but the most important thing to listen to is your heart. It won’t lie to you.

Chicken Fingers and French Fries

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This weekend we planned to go to the St. Patty’s Day parade in town but with sleepy kids and a long and very quiet and peaceful nap, it just didn’t happen. No problem. Sometimes it’s better to just hang out and do nothing. But my daughter was upset and I felt bad so I blurted out “Go in your room and get ready. You’re going on a date.”

My daughter was stoked. She smiled and ran and picked out a cute outfit. I was taking her to dinner. Just Her and Daddy. Since it was a last minute deal I decided to just bring her down to the local pizza joint. If you know me, a former fatty and still a fatty at heart, I love chicken parm sandwiches. So we get to the pizza place and I ask the girl “What do you want to eat?” “I want chicken fingers and I want french fries and I want milk please.”

Have to love it! We ordered, me getting a sub, and waited for the food. My daughter played with her purse and said she had lots of money. Probably about five dollars and sixty cents. She gets her milk and says to me “Daddy, I really love you.” Pretty good way to melt a man’s heart.

She walked into the pizza place with a fancy jacket on and her purse around her shoulder like she was twenty one and shopping in 90210. The questions were endless. “Daddy, what are they doing?” “They’re having a pizza party.” “Why?” “Because the season must be over.”

We get our food and mine is done in thirty seconds. I look over at my peanut and she’s dipping her fingers in marinara sauce. “Dip. Dip. Dip.”

“Hey, you need to eat.”

“No, I’m just going to dip and dip and dip.”

“and drink my milk.”

Whatever. She’s cool. No problem. But I tell her if she eats some of the food that we’ll go to a store.

She grabs a chicken finger and takes a bite.

“Target! I want to go to Target.”

“No, we’re going to another store where you can buy anything you want with your money.”

We finish up eating and I have to say, the waiter.. he was weird. I asked him a few questions about the food and he had no idea about any of it. He gave me a diet coke with like a drop of the last of the syrup and said “Yeah, I should have known it was done. Looked it.”

Cool story bro.

I still tipped him well because men tip well. No two dollar tips for lunch and always twenty percent or more. Bad tippers are assholes. And people remember people who tip well. Even at a bar. I watch derpheads order light beers and fruity drinks and they never tip. I just want to smack them and I know the bartender does too.

Here’s an important life lesson on bar etiquette: Tip for every drink and don’t be a clown who doesn’t. One buck a drink. Don’t be a cheapskate chump.

So we’re done eating and we leave to go to the store. She asks where we’re going and we walk down to the dollar store.

Kids.. big deal with the dollar store right?

Wrong. It was like she was in Disney.

I told her, go get whatever you want. And in no time, she was done. Walked right up to the register and told the lady “I’m going to buy these with my money.”

She got a flower for Mommy.

This lady was great. And patient.

I tried this one time with her at Target and the people behind me in line and the cashier gave off this unpleasant impatient vibe that kind of ruined it for me. The sigh of the cashier when my daughter fumbled through six one dollar bills made me want to bitch slap her. The young lady and her boyfriend or fiance or husband or just boy-friend behind us crossed their arms and leaned on their hips like they were tired from standing for thirty seconds. Again.. Stockton slap.

Anyway, the whole point of this story is this..

Dads… take your daughters on dates. Even if it’s to the pizza joint or the dollar store. They’re going to love every second of it and you’ll never forget those moments. You’ll never get another chance for your daughter at that age to experience that meal with you. Take the time to be a good man and show your daughter how her future man should act.

And when you hear “Daddy, I really love you.”, it makes your day.

 

Some of What I’ll Teach My Son

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Becoming a father wasn’t always in my life plan and I felt like having children was not something I’d be able to do.. or deal with. In my early twenties I was a race car going two hundred miles, the wrong way on the track, head on towards danger. Kids and being married probably crossed my mind once or twice and I shrugged it off as “That life isn’t me” and went about being a wild man.

Then one day I met the woman who would change my life and through the power of nature, I got married.

Our first year of marriage was a crash course in how to NOT do being married. I had no idea what I was doing but through the ups and downs all marriages go through, I came out a better man. We decided it was time to have a child. Several months later we had a beautiful little girl and my life changed again and that first year, of being a dad (or parents), wasn’t pretty. But once again, I came out a better man.

As my daughter grew and I became a better father, my wife and I decided to have another child. This time, a little boy.

When my son was born I was going through a tough time again. I juggled business ownership with being a father, and a husband, and a full-time employee at a job. To say the least, I didn’t do the best I could. Things got crazy again and I failed to live up to my end of the bargain. It wasn’t until my son was four or five months old that I realized, I was f*&king up. Again.

There were a lot of painful growing experiences from the point of marriage to the point of realizing that I was not being a good man. The problem was, I felt like I had nowhere to go with my struggles and inner battles and I felt that I needed to tuck my chin down and keep moving forward. I felt pressure to perform. I felt pressure to live up to expectations and I felt like I had no idea what I was doing.

I’m not alone. There are men out there who experience the same problems. Work, wife, kids, commutes, societal expectations, down time, stress, and living up to what it’s meant to be a man. Many of those men are lost without a plan. No road map of how to navigate the pressures of life. Men get married, buy homes, and start a family when their skill in handling these responsibilities is not there. I was one of them. I believe a percentage of divorces happen because men fail to meet these responsibilities to the degree they should. Some may be so overwhelmed with their situations that they check out and become distant, caught in routine cycles of destruction. Men often emotionally and physically abandon their women trying to make ends meet, to get ahead in life, to enjoy their hobbies and free time, and often never realize they’re doing so.

What I’ll teach my son will be the building blocks of how to avoid this. How to avoid the trap of materialism and the problems of being a blindfolded go-getter. How to treat women, especially his mother and any of the future women he courts. How to make relationships thrive and if they don’t, how to grieve if needed.

My son will learn from me that it is okay to fail in life. We don’t always get it right. Failure is expected at points in life and we must remember that is safe to do so and we can’t be concerned with the opinions of others. We must stand back up and continue our journey with happiness while being grateful for the lessons life teaches us.

My son will learn that it is okay to ask other men for help and he MUST ask for help. We can’t do this alone and if you think so, you need to stop pretending. Men don’t like going to other men and expressing their emotions and feelings and hardships. But by doing so, we can understand that we learn from these experiences and have the strength, and courage, to move on.

My son will learn that when he is in a relationship the most important thing for him to do is to be present in the life of his woman. With millions of distractions around us all day in the forms of cell-phones, careers, sports, hobbies, friends, and entertainment, it’s easy for men to become distant from the woman in his life. Without a serious conscious effort to be aware, present, and understanding, he will run into problems. “Make her your queen and treat her as such.” will be the first advice I give him when things get serious with a woman. This means you give her your time and you give her your attention and never stop.

I will teach my son that his education never ends and that he should continue to learn new things each day. There are men (and women) who do not continue their education after formal schooling. Many people never read a book again. Some never read books about their careers, relationships, finances, and spirituality. Not doing so leaves you behind in the wake of life. To believe you know everything is foolish and to not educate yourself on all of the things you experience in life is a fast way to suffocate your growth. In the past year I have continued my education on many areas of life: Jiu-Jitsu, Fitness, Nutrition, Sex, Marriage, Manhood, Survival Skills, Finance, Politics, and more. It never ends.

If my son decides to one day become a father I want to teach him what it means to be a father, a dad, and not a child with a child. When I became a father the only thing I had to teach me what it meant to be a good dad was a book. I don’t want my son going into parenthood without knowledge of what makes a good man become a good father. I’ll teach him that the mother of his child will always be the most important person in his life and if that means making the child the most important person, you do it. You don’t get a second chance at being their for the mother of the child during the early years of a child’s life. Don’t make it harder than it should be. It’s teamwork. Never forget that. It’s also okay to fail at trying to be a good father, as long as you dust off your pants and try again. Nobody gets it right the first time. Not even Mom.

There is more to come on what I believe is important to teach my son, even my daughter, and I believe these things can help anyone in any stage of life. The journey is better when not alone and there is much to learn that we are unaware of. My son will learn many of the struggles I’ve been through and I can only hope the lessons help him become a better man than I will ever be.

Want to learn about being a better man, a better father, a better husband and lover? Check out the Free Online Group at The Activated Alliance to learn more and to join the conversation starting now!

“Daddy, You’re A Good Man”

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Sometimes kids say the darnedest things. If you know who Art Linkletter is, you know this. I once read a book my Grandparents had that he wrote. It was a collection of quotes taken from his famous television show. I always wonder what are some of the darnedest things I said. The other day my daughter looked at me and said “Daddy, you’re a good man.”. I thought, “What? How the? Where did she get that from?”

It turns out I buckled her in the car seat right. Once I messed up and she let me know it. The whole drive, “Daddy, you did this wrong! Daddy, this isn’t right.” When we got to where we were going I looked at her seat and noticed I didn’t pull up a flap that protected her from the clips, pinch protector I guess. She said “See Daddy, you messed up. You’re a bad man.”

Well, some days I can be a bad man, or a mean Daddy, but I couldn’t stop laughing. Here’s my three year old girl telling me I did something wrong and that I was a bad man for doing it. I told her that I wasn’t a bad man and I just made a mistake. “You made a mistake!” she said. “Yes dear, I did. They happen. We’ll just fix it and never let it happen again.”

Since that day every time I buckle her in the car seat she says “Yay Daddy you did it right.” If it’s a good day and she’s excited, she might tell me I’m a good man again. But, the thing is, she’s now correcting me on a lot of different things as well. If I forgot to buckle my son in the high chair, she lets me know it. If her shoes are going on the wrong feet, and yes this happens because I feel like the walking dead, she tells me “you’re doing it wrong.”

So now I need to be on top of my game every minute or she basically smacks my fingers with the ruler. Little Diva thinks she’s the boss.

When my wife was pregnant with her I was recommended a book titled Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. I ordered it, because when someone says “Dude… you NEED to read this book!” I can’t not buy it. Like an addiction I go to Amazon and get it Prime, next day. Please, don’t recommend any new books or my wife might kick my balls.

Anyway, in the book Dr. Meg Meeker, the author, writes about how a man, a father, is a daughter’s first love and the most important person in her life, for like… ever. She writes about how a daughter has an eye for nearly everything her father does and it’s important for men to be the type of man he’d want his little girl to one day marry.

There I am.. doing something wrong and my peanut tells me, notices me, sees what I am doing and understands it. Now, everything I do or say is going to be taken in, judged and filtered. She’s now at the stage where I must be like the man I want her to one day grow up to love. My actions must be true, direct, purposeful, and intelligent. The example I set must be a good one. The image I portray, a powerful one. My little girl is watching my every move and growing with my every action and reaction. For her to have a good man one day, I must be the alpha example and the bar is set high. I have my work cut out for me, and even though at times I don’t feel ready, I will be and I won’t let her down.

One day it’ll be me saying to her “Honey, he’s a good man.” and if she smiles and embraces me with a hug and runs off floating in happiness, I’ll know my job was done.. and done right.

6 Ways Staying Home With My Kids Made Me a Better Man

When my daughter was born I decided to take one day of the week to stay home with her for Daddy Daughter Day and make it a traditionally fun day. It was awesome. I had so much fun with her and through the process I began to improve my life in many ways. Then my son was born. Daddy Daughter Day soon became Daddy Day with both of my kids. The other days our kids went to daycare or were watched by family members. Slowly there became more and more days where it was not feasible for family to help in taking care of our kids while my wife and I worked. At the time of all this I was growing a business and working a full-time job. My mindset wasn’t in the job but I needed to be there because I had two kids in daycare. One day my wife told me that the woman who ran the daycare our kids were in was closing up shop. That left us with a decision. Do I stay at work and put them in a new daycare or stay home with them and leave my job? I decided to stay home with them.. four days a week.

At first it was a brutal slopfest. They kicked my ass up and down and all around my house and left me screaming for help. I had no idea how tough things were going to get. But something happened that changed my life. I noticed I was becoming different. The biggest and most noticeable change? I became happier. I was growing as a person and as a man.

It’s tough to talk about staying home with your kids to other people. People are conditioned to believe our roles are defined as they were for many years. A man goes to work and gets his hands dirty and a woman nurtures the children. For awhile, it felt as though I was judged and my character was judged, but over time, that has become a nonissue. Each day my children get to see a man, their father, in action at work. They come with me to every class I hold when I’m with them. They love it. They see me interact with other people, they see me lead other people, and they see the difficulty I manage each day.

In over one year of time being home with my kids, I’ve become a better man. Here are six ways that staying home with my kids made me a better man:

1. I Learned To Be Patient

This was one of the hardest lessons of my life. Becoming a patient man was a tough battle. I had always been inpatient. Whether it was in line a grocery store, stuck in traffic, fishing, or in conversation with someone on the phone. My patience was not a virtue. Then something crazy happened. My kids tested my patience to the max. Some of the crazy things they have done made me boil and start to get anxious because the test of patience was so unbearable, and then I snapped out of it.

They still test my patience but in life, like at the job, with other people, and through other matters, I’ve learned to relax a little more of the resistance and become patient. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has always taught me this well, but the kids are next level patience monk teachers. I’m more patient on the road, with other people, dealing with customer service calls, and standing in line now. I’m more patient when things don’t go as planned.

2. I Learned To Appreciate The Amazing Woman My Wife Is

There are many men out there who really have no idea what it’s like to be a woman. My mentor Paul once said to a bunch of the guys, a woman is more than just one person. She is a daughter. She may be a sister. She’s a wife. She’s a friend. She’s an employee. She’s a mother. That is a lot of stuff put on their shoulders and that can and does create stress. Those shoes are hard to fill. Just knowing that made me appreciate my wife more than I ever have.

Staying home with the kids took that appreciation to the next level. Wearing all of those shoes and being a mother of two young kids is crazy. The amount of energy needed to perform at work is one thing, but finding the energy to workout, cook, clean, raise children, bathe children, and be a wife is superhero level shit. She’s definitely my Wonder Woman.

3. I Stopped Giving a Fuck

It’s hard to explain what I mean about stopped giving a fuck but I’ll try. Before I started to spend the majority of my days at home with my rugrats I had a job, a business, a passion for writing and fitness, and entwined in all of it was caring too much about shit that did not matter. I was worried about what the latest fitness trends were, what the latest thoughts about writing and publication were, and I was worried about a business failing overnight. Would be pretty tough for a business to fail overnight but it kept me on edge all day. There were times when I was worried about the competition in town, in the next town, in the next state, on the next facebook post. I kept trying to be better than everyone else and I gave too many fucks.

After about the first three months of trying to raise my children and build my business, I realized that I can’t do everything and can’t control what happens. I stopped giving a fuck about pointless matters beyond my control. I became more laser focused on the few things I can do and made it priority to get better at those few things. Once I took everything else out of the picture, the stress flew out the door.

4. I Became Engaged With Life

When you look around at different aspects of life, you can see the drone and zombie like nature many people operate from. The routine of daily life has a way of stealing your soul, blunting your happiness, weighing down your dreams, and suppressing your feelings.. if you let it. I sure as hell let it. There was a long time during my young marriage that I was absent, both in mind and presence. I was also a dickhead to people around me. There was a huge level of anger that held me back and crushed my life.

As things started to get under control, meaning my kids didn’t push me over the edge, I started to become more engaged with life. I opened up my feelings to my wife more. I started flirting with her more. I worked smarter. I wrote clearer. I stopped trying to be someone I’m not. When I was angry and depressed it was hard for me to be excited about things but slowly that changed and now I’m more excited about the little things we tend to overlook. I’m more excited to see my kids misbehave, be crazy, have fun, and enjoy their little lives and I’m more excited to simply sit there and admire the beautiful smile on my gorgeous wife’s face. It started when I decided I was in control of my life.

5. I’m More Grateful

As I started to spend more time at home with my kids, I began keeping a gratitude journal. Every morning I would write three things down that I was grateful for and over time, my moods changed, my passion grew, my appreciation skyrocketed, and my presence became more alive. Last summer when my son gave us a scare with a febrile seizure, a night that changed my life, I stopped holding onto things beyond my control, things from my past, and let it all go so that I can accept and love what was in front of me at this moment.

Staying home with kids helped me be more grateful for the efforts that my wife puts in daily. It helped me be more grateful of my parents and knowing that they’re still here after putting up with all of my shit growing up. I’m grateful that my children get to see their father work and help others change their lives. I’m grateful that instead of being stuck in traffic, I’m home watching them be silly. I’m grateful that my wife helped give me these moments.

6. I’m More Aware of Everything

As part of the being caught in a routine zombie like trance I was not aware of much of what went on around me. I wasn’t aware of the office environment I worked in, the members of my gym and the feelings they had about the training, and definitely not fully aware of what was happening in my home. What I mean is, there was much that I was missing. Beautiful smiles from my daughter and wife. Fun times with the kids, growth opportunities as a family, and  more.

As men, we tend to get caught up in trivial matters and often fail to smell the roses. Being preoccupied with work, sports, fitness, whatever it is, is devastating to life, family, and happiness. Marching through the days with thoughts on one or two things, we forget about the other stuff. We wake up, go to work, come home, rinse and repeat. In between those moments is a lot of stuff we take for granted and often do not notice, or enjoy.

Since I started staying home with the kids I have become more aware of the beautiful things in my family. My sexy wife, my fun and brilliant kids, the leading I am grateful of doing at the gym, and the beauty of life itself. When I was rushed through the days by a tight schedule and having to deal with the desires of others, I let all of this pass me by and it nearly crushed my life.

 

 

 

5 Books All Men Should Read

men

 

One of my favorite things in life is reading. I enjoy reading almost anything and find great pleasure in continuing to learn something new. In fact, I believe we all strive to continue to learn something new every single day. There is so much out there in the world that we’ve never noticed, heard about, or considered. We are also all fucked up. Me included. One of the best things we can do about that issue is to educate ourselves about life, women, beer, fitness, culture, depression, psychology, and more, including how to be a better man.

Over the past few years I have read a great number of books about being a better man. I really believe that there is much for each of us to discover about who we are, why we act the way we do, and why we experience certain issues. Self-discovery is one of the drives that pushes me forward every day and I think that might be the same for you and other people you know.

I’ve read books about being a father, a husband, a business owner, a lover, a man, a writer, an athlete, a martial artist and much more. With every book that gets read and put down another is quickly picked up and started. Below are a list of five of the best books I think all men should read. I am going to gift them to men I know. I am going to have my son read them when he’s old enough. I want my friends and brothers and other men in my life to read them.

There is much to find out about how we operate as men and these five books are where we should all start. I also highly suggest that women read these books as well. Especially number three. You will learn a lot about your sons, your husbands, your brothers, fathers, or boyfriends.

1. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters

This book was written by Meg Meeker, a woman, and she opened my eyes to just how important the men in a woman’s life are. Whether it’s her father or the man she loves, men are important to women, but none more important than her Father. In fact, Meeker suggests that a girl’s father is the most important person in her life. More so than Mom. Although the book does have some religious factors, the principle is what matters. So if you’re offended by God talk, suck it up chump.

Through the course of the book Meeker goes through ten “secrets” all fathers should know. If you’re not a father or are a father but don’t have a daughter, I still suggest you read this book. It will help you understand more about the women in your life. One of the ideas in the book that stuck with me the most is probably one of the greatest tools we can have to living our lives activated and being the best man we can be, the idea that Fathers should be the man they would want their daughter to marry. This is a great self-development tool and when taken seriously, can make the world of change in our lives.

(By the way, Meg Meeker also wrote a book called Strong Mothers, Strong Sons. I’ve yet to read it but it’s on the list. Ladies, get to work.)

2. The Way Of The Superior Man

There is only one book I have ever read twice. This is it. If you read one book from this list, make it this book written by David Deida. The way of the superior man is one of the best books I have ever picked up. It’s full of short chapters that are useful for just about anything in life. The book discusses thoughts about our purpose in life, being a man of purpose, sexual energy and techniques, how to be a great lover, and the difference between masculine energy and feminine energy. One thing he wrote about is how when a man lacks in masculine energy, the woman will increase her masculine energy and this creates problems. A woman with masculine energy trying to bridge the gap between the yin and yang of the relationship is a woman who can’t relax. A not relaxed woman is a not sexual woman. It is the man’s responsibility to polarize the energy and keep it that way. Ladies, I’d definitely read this book as well, buy it today for your husband or boyfriend.

This book will push you out of your comfort zone and give you several aha moments.

3. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

Probably the best-selling relationship book of all-time. Dr. John Gray writes about the difference between Men and Women and why we need to know and accept and embrace these differences. If you ever thought to yourself “I have no idea what goes through her head or why she acts the way she acts when I do this or that”, read this book.

As men, we have “caves” as Gray calls them that we retreat to. After a long day of work and being super stressed out, we retreat to our caves. We want to sit down and unwind with a beer, a book, or a game on the television. Women on the other hand want to talk about their day. When men have problems, they retreat to their cave. When women have problems, they want to talk about them. Most people don’t understand this and when they do, tensions and useless arguments can be avoided.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus helps us understand the differences between the “rubber band” energy that men have the “wave” energy that women have. It also discusses meeting emotional needs, avoiding arguments, communicating difficult feelings, scoring points with the opposite sex, and keeping the magic in the relationship alive.

Men need this book because, honestly, when was the last time you were taught how to be in a good relationship? Women as well.

4. No More Mr. Nice Guy

Nice guys finish last. We’ve heard it before, we’ve shaken it off as nonsense, we’ve been friend zoned, we’ve experienced it, the truth is Nice Guys finish last. Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy, started support groups for men and was a nice guy. He was going through all the problems Nice Guys experience in relationships and as we was recovering from being a Nice Guy, he wrote this book. Are you a nice guy who always appears to be nice and do you avoid conflicts at all costs? This book is for you.

If not, this book is for you too.

Glover writes about men being conditioned by our childhoods and society to believe that in order to have a great relationship, good things in life, and a happy life, we need to be nice, make everyone else happy, and avoid any problems at all costs. Men don’t need approval. Nice Guys try to find it. This creates self-loathing and frustration.

One main thing repeated in the book is how men have needs and wants and often they brush them off to please other people first and create a conflict free environment. This is what Glover calls “Nice Guy Syndrome”. The book goes into great detail about how men must embrace, develop, understand, and grow their masculine traits instead of being afraid of them and suppressing them.

This is the book I just read. I wish I read this when I was a teenager and I will definitely have my son read this book. This will become only the second book I have ever read over. There are issues all Nice Guys have that relate back to our childhood that are important to work through. Glover states that Nice Guys are givers, fixers, caretakers, approval seekers, repressors of feelings, and conflict avoiders. Operating out of these states can bring disaster to relationships, work, and happiness. This book has the steps to take to work through them and become the best man we’re meant to be.

Next to The Way of The Superior Man, this is the most brilliant book for all men to read in their life. Better now than later.

5. The War of Art

Steven Pressfield wrote a gem, a best-selling, no-nonsense book about crushing resistance and doing the work we should all be doing. There are many fears we have about action. Whether that is starting a workout routine, creating a new business, improving a relationship, starting a new hobby, or sitting down to read these five books. We have a resistance that makes us lazy and afraid. Afraid of what to do next, the unexpected, the unknown, and being too lazy to get up a little earlier to workout, too lazy to cook good healthy food and too lazy to romance the woman in your life.

While the book is a lot about the creative process and starting something new that we’re scared to start, there are many principles in the book that we can use and put into work in our lives that will help us become better men and people. We have the talent, the ability, and the desire to do what we choose to do and want to do, but we allow things to stand in our way of ACTION.

Pressfield writes about overcoming that resistance from a writer and writing perspective, but you’re smart enough to understand the principle.

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” ― Albert Einstein

Now you have a list of five books I believe all men should read in their life. It’s close to being a should read, but that choice is yours. Only you can decide what to do with your life but in my opinion, these books will make you a better man, a better lover, a better husband or boyfriend, a better worker, and a happier person who lives their life activated.