Category Archives: In other words


In just a few days my friend Steve will be back in the Twin Cities.  Steve and his family just finished a two year post at a school in Cairo, Egypt.  They were safe every step of the way (for those who are wondering about the political revolution).  The school evacuated them until things settled down and then brought them back.  A little disruptive, but part of the process of working at a school outside the U.S.

Steve and his wife were instrumental in helping Jenni and I make the decision to teach overseas.   Steve and I had worked together at Sandburg Middle School and became kind of a mentor to me (whether he knew it or not). When he announced that he was moving to Cairo it rekindled an ember that Jenni and I had kept smoldering for years.  Steve has two kids (boy and a girl) about the same age as our kids, a mortgage, family in the area, a stable teaching career, and a spouse that worked in education as well.   The reality of Steve and his family making that big of a move became an example of what WE could do too.  Suddenly the excuses for NOT taking the leap were irrelevant.

Over the 9 months or so, we Skyped a lot (hours at a time!).  They helped us figure out what questions to ask BEFORE we even got to the UNI job fair – what decisions we needed to make and what information we needed to research.  They shared stories about their experiences, how the kids responded to the adventure and what they are taking away from it all.  They helped put our minds at ease and re-assured us that we were doing the right thing.  The beginning of our adventure has been immeasurable positive, because of the support, encouragement and advice given to us by Steve and Lisa.

We may not get a chance to see Steve’s whole family before we go (Lisa is Canadian and needs to spend some time in Canada before returning to the US), but I may have an opportunity to buy Steve dinner.   I mostly want to hear stories about their experiences, but I really want to say “Thanks”.  Who knows if we would have pursued our dream of living overseas and teaching had Steve and Lisa not provided a tangible example, but I do know that we would not have had such a great time enjoying the experience and we wouldn’t have gotten to know some dynamic and warm people.


Rain, rain go away

When the plane landed in Minneapolis last Tuesday we encountered a bit of turbulence and it was a rough ride.  Heading down to baggage claim I saw out the window that it was a downpour at 1:30 in the afternoon.  By the time we made it home (around 4:00) it was sunny and humid.  I was disgusted because we had just spent a week in warm, sunny North Carolina.

On Wednesday night my son had a baseball game at 6:00 in the evening.  At the start of the game, the temperature was 65 degrees and a light mist was coming down.  By the end of the game it was about 57 degrees and a steady rain was falling sideways due to the wind.  I was cold, aching, and disgusted.

I made the comment to my wife that I can’t stand the rain anymore.  To which she pointed out that I was leaving this climate zone and moving into one that has an actual Monsoon Season where it rains for days on end.

I guess what I meant was that I wanted a climate that was somewhat predictable, expected and appropriate to the season!  I am tired of the weather this year.  You have no idea how to dress from one day to the next and you cannot have a reasonable expectation that the weather will even be appropriate to the season you are currently in.

I don’t care if it is hot as long as it is the same type of hot every day.  Rain itself doesn’t bother me per se, but an icy cold rain the middle of JUNE does.  I don’t mind snow as long as it understands it’s time and place in the calendar and is happy to exit the premises when the show is over.

So, right now the rain is irritating me.  The cold is bothering me.  Jenni once said that Minnesota is doing it’s best to try and chase us out of the country.  I think she is right.

The only thing predictable about the Minnesota weather this year is that it is unpredictable.

Somewhere a weather person just died.

Parents: Banish this phrase

“You need something to fall back on”

Tonight while I was sitting there zoning out my mind began to wander.  I started
to think about people who are good at what they do, or rather people who are known for being good at something.  And that led into me thinking about my own upbringing.

When I was in High School and was at that moment when you have to decide what path you want to take I decided that I wanted to study theater and become an actor.  I told my school guidance counselor this as we talked about Colleges I was looking at.  He told me that theater was a difficult profession and that I should also study something more practical.

Around that same time my parents were asking me what I might want to go to college for and I again stated theater.  That is when I was told that I needed something to fall back on.  Something practical like a teacher.  Not wanting to disappoint them I enrolled in college as a Psych Major with a minor in theater.  Within that first year I switched them around and became a Theater Major/Psych minor.  I did not tell them.

It wasn’t until I was a sophomore that I had my “coming out”.  I remember it vividly.  We were standing in the kitchen, my parents listening as I mustered up the courage to tell them who I really was; “Mom, Dad.  I am a theater major.  I know that you may not approve, but it is who I am and I hope that you can accept me for that.”  Things were easier after that, but in the back of my mind that niggling voice just wouldn’t go away “You need something to fall back on”.

I know my parents were trying to be as protective as they knew how.  I know now that it was not malicious or meant to be unsupportive in any way, but that phrase stifled me.  Instead of me getting the message that they cared about my future and wanted me to be financially secure the message was:  You can’t be successful at that, why don’t you try something more realistic.  They just wanted me to be….stable?

Recently, when my cousin was deciding what college to go to study music, my aunt (his mom) asked me about a future in the arts.  She said she was concerned that he might not have “anything to fall back on”.  Now my cousin is crazy good at music and that is all he wants to do with his life.  He doesn’t know what specifically, but he knows it has to be in music.  My response, “he doesn’t need anything to fall back on.  He needs to hear what you are going to do to help him reach his goal”.

I had to become an adult to realize that I didn’t need something to fall back on, I needed some support so that I didn’t fall flat on my face.  I needed to know that people had faith in me, that people believed that I could achieve my goal, and that devoting myself 100% to what I REALLY want to do is better than giving 50% to something I really DON’T want to do and whatever is left over to my dream.  Imagine how far you could go putting 100% into the journey.

If my son want to be a ditch digger, my first response is going to be “OK, let’s see if we can find you some classes on proper digging technique or buy you a new shovel”.  If my daughter wants to be a mortician, I am going to encourage her to be the best mortician she can possibly be.  And if they want to be actors, or dancers, or NBA stars I am going to be right there if they need something to fall back on.  And then I am going to prop them right back up and tell them to get back on that horse.

FYI – My parents are fantastic supporters of my and my family.  They are 100% behind our big move and that phrase uttered so long ago was their way of showing me love and I know that.