Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 things not in 2013

I, like many people here in 'Merica, have made a list of resolutions... or, if you will, things I want to accomplish in 2014.  But I hope to take a look back at 2013, to remember the year, and some of these things I managed...

Coming later this week, my list of 38 things I want to do in 2014... on Monday, Clouds presents its first Movie Monday, with a list of my Top Ten Films of 2013, plus a quick list of all the movies I saw this year for the first time (and the worst films too!)

Next week, a list of books read in 2013, as we close out the year...

however comma

I'd be remiss if  I didn't own up to the things that I didn't do this past year. 

And honestly, I am okay with... even proud of... this list of 13 things I did NOT do in 2013:

In 2013, the year of our Lord...

**I did NOT adopt the word "Cray" or "Cray Cray" into my daily vernacular.  And cheers to The Huffington Post for keeping it real about what people my age should be saying... I know, right?

**I did NOT read a single page, nor learn a single thing about the "50 Shades of Grey" series. 

**I did NOT see a single minute of any real housewife in any city on any reality show of any kind

I think how good Miley Cyrus can be is directly proportional
to the length of her hair.  Here?  Awesome. Short cut?  Not
so much.  Also, beware, unless you Google "Miley Party in
the USA" specifically, you'll get lots of her 2013 images.
**I did NOT see a single second of anything to do with Miley Cyrus when it comes to a wrecking ball

**I did NOT hear a single note of the aforementioned "Wrecking Ball" song, nor have I actually heard any Miley music since "Party in the USA".  In fact, to me, she doesn't exist after "Party in the USA".

**I did NOT grasp any understanding of the word "twerk", what it means to "twerk", how to "twerk", or anything else associated with "twerking" of any kind. 

**I did NOT hear any Nicki Minaj song.  As a matter of fact, this is a two year streak now.  I don't know anything she sings, and wouldn't recognize her voice at all.

**I did NOT hear anything by Justin Beiber.  Similarly to Miley's "Party in the USA" cutoff for me, the only Beiber song I know anything about is "Boyfriend", and that's only because its so utterly ridiculous.

**I did NOT learn what a Harlem Shake is, nor have I ever heard it sung. 

**I did NOT see a single frame of any show featuring the words "Duck" and "Dynasty".  No offense to any of those guys, I just haven't seen the show, ever, and have no desire to watch it.  Ever. 

**I did NOT find out what the fox says.  Apparently that was a song.  Thankfully, I never heard it. 
**I did NOT gain the ability to distinguish any of the Kardashians from one another.  I think there is a Khloe and a Kourtney and a Kim?  Maybe?  Who knows?  Better yet, who cares...
**I did NOT get a Pinterest, SnapChat, Kik or whatever else is out there.  Right now, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are enough.  Perhaps I'll pick up Pinterest in the future, as I am promoting a Disney site, but for now, I'm full up on Social Media. 
By the way, parents, make sure you check out this article about SnapChat, and how dangerous it is for teenagers--especially teen girls.  I'd eventually like to have a daughter, but I tell ya, this world is not kind to young women...
There are probably a few more things I didn't do this year, but that's my main list... of course, there are things I DID do in this vein, notably, fall in love with "Blurred Lines".  Can't say I'm proud of that, but there it is. 
Check out the site tomorrow, Friday morning at the latest, and you'll get my (already written) list of things I want to do in 2014, which I call my Great 38...

Monday, December 16, 2013

finding my pike place

So here's the post I've been gearing up to write for the last three months...

In September, I attended the STARTConference, starring Jon Acuff and a few hundred of my closest friends... and something Acuff said resonated with me--"Own your word".  He said simply, find a few words, and own them.  Make them your life.  Words like "Inspire".  "Ambition".  "Passionate".  "Goals"... you get the drift.  So, of course, what words would I own?  I wasn't sure.  Perhaps its something many people just passed over, but it stuck with me.

If I can back up a minute, at the beginning of the conference, we were all given an obligatory lanyard with a place for our name (d$), our twitter name (@davedollar) and a blank space that said "I Want To:_______"

What to write in here?  This is a big deal... I looked around at other lanyards worn and saw words like "Sing" and "Write my novel" and "Publish my book" and "Help people be debt free" and "Minister to children" and even "Be a hot model", which was awesome, because the girl wearing it had a goal of a healthier lifestyle.  My tag remained blank. 

What do I write? 

"Write"?  Yes.  I want to write. I love to write.  I'm a writer.  But what about...

"Plan Magical Vacations"?  Certainly.  I at a Disney Travel Planner, so that has to factor into it.  I want to help people have incredibly memorable vacations to Disney parks, to Universal and so on.  But, then there is...

"Blog"?  I do that too.  Its writing, but its a special sort of writing.  I want to continue blogging, perhaps monetize my site one day.  Soon?  Hopefully very soon. 

But what do I write?

Then Jon Acuff said, "Own your words".  And I began to think about those words that I wanted to define me, to define who I am as a man, who I am as a person, who I am as husband, a father, a Christ Follower, a friend, a servant, a leader.. even an adversary, if that's how someone sees me.

What do I want you to think about me?  Perhaps I haven't been doing a very good job of it, no matter what, but what words do I eventually want YOU to say, when asked about me, "Oh d$?  He's this  And this.  And certainly this.  And definitely this."

And after a morning of thought, after a day or reflection, tossing the idea around in my head, I figured out what I wanted to strive for.  What I hope to be.  Who I wanted to become. 

I took off my lanyard, laid the tag on a table and wrote four letters, in Sharpie, all capitalized.


I smiled, putting the cap back on the Sharpie (for capless Sharpies are reasons for broken hearts and dreams) and then putting the lanyard around my neck.  P I K E.  Spells "PIKE"... and in a way, it was ironic, because at the time, I was working at Starbucks. (besides, when I wrote down Super, Unique, Manly, Awesome, Terrific, Righteous and Awesomer, it just didnt work as well, even though it spelled "SUMATRA")

When I explained to a few people what P I K E meant, I told them I was "Finding my PIKE Place".  And its true.

Now, the question you'll have is simply, what does P I K E even mean?  That's why I'm writing to you today... to share with you what words I will now spend my life pursuing and owning, and in my writing, in my Disney planning, in relationships of all kinds, and most importantly, in my Walk with Christ and my pursuit of holiness, this is what I will wrap around.  I truly believe the words are God breathed to my own heart, and here they are...

I want to be PURPOSEFUL.  I want to have purpose in whatever I do.  Now, let's be real... we know God cares about all of our actions, but I'm not sure we have to have a laying on of hands prayer time to decide between the new Kings Hawaiian Sandwich and the Beef n Cheddar combo while you are standing at the counter at Arby's.  Some things I think He puts you in charge of.  But overall... the people I spend time with.  The contacts I make.  The tasks I allow myself to be engaged in.   With purpose.  Not to things half-heartedly... if that's my feeling, I just wont do them at all, because whoever is asking a task of me deserves my whole effort.  I want to be PURPOSEFUL in my life.

I want to be INVESTING.  I have a billion acquaintances from all parts of my life--my childhood hometown of Samson... my college alma mater of Troy State... various jobs I've worked... various seminars and conferences and retreats I've attended... the huge presence of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest (oh Pinterest... do I have to?  I don't wanna... do I gotta...?) have made it easy to keep in touch with people that you haven't spoken to, at least in real life, in 30 years.  I'm not bragging when I say I know thousands and thousands of people... but more than likely, so do you.

I can't get to know everyone... just not possible.  But I can learn about people.  I can ask questions.  I can find out how people are doing, what they are hoping for, what they are praying for.  I want to invest in people.

I want to be KIND.  What can I say?  We know what Kind means.  Don't we?  It means being a little nicer, being a little more free with a smile, being a little more willing to provide grace to people all throughout the day... I want to be kind.

I want to be ENCOURAGING.  Without patting myself on the back too much, I have always felt like "encouraging" is something that I'm pretty good at.  I think I've gotten even better at it in the last several months, at least to many.  And I'd like to continue to be encouraging to people, be it a kind word, a helping hand or just a surprising act of whatever. 

So there you go.  Put them altogether, and its a life worth living, a life that hopefully will have meaning and a life made for positively impacting those around me with the love of Christ.

Four words to live by.  Sure, you can also use "Holiness" and "Godliness" and "God-Chaser"... but I think He'd rather me be Purposeful, Investing, Kind and Encouraging with my whole heart and life than to hide behind some church words that I use as a crutch and excuse.

So now... your words?  Have you chosen yours? 

(by the way, dont think it has eclipsed me that this is all heartfelt and meaningful, instead of being full of jokes and clever pop culture references.  Don't worry.  I have a plan to get back to that.  I'll be purposeful while investing in my kind of encouraging humor.)

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

to campbell, on your 2nd birthday

(this is the second letter to Campbell Isaiah, with the first written last year, on his first birthday)

Dear Monkey Butt,

Yep.  I don't call you that all the time, but for now, its a funny name for a funny kid.  And you are definitely a funny kid.

A few days ago, you had your 2nd birthday.  We didn't have much fanfare, other than coming back from Walt Disney World--your second trip to Orlando, already added to your other trip to Disneyland.  Do you realize you've had more Disney before 2 years old than many kids have in their life?  You are a lucky kid.

And we are lucky parents, lucky to have you.  God chose your Mommy and me to raise you, and I'd like to think we are doing okay.

Let me tell you a little about this year, thusfar... This was the year that the new Superman movie came out, "Man of Steel".  I'm sure you've seen it by now--or maybe you haven't, because its kind of forgettable.  Probably my favorite movies of 2013 include "Monsters University", which in our household you've no doubt seen a dozen times by the time you read this... "Iron Man 3", which I thought was a great flick, even though its had its haters... "Gravity", this space epic with Sandra Bullock... and, of course, "Fast & Furious 6", which is one of my three favorite films so far this year.  You and I have already watched "Fast Five", though I'm pretty sure you don't remember a thing about it...

Music?  Justin Timberlake had a great year with a new CD, though he hasn't released anything mindblowing, just good.  Is he still awesome in 2022, when you are reading this?  Hope so.  "Royals" by Lorde was a big deal, as was Katy Perry's "Roar".  Also, probably my favorite song of the year?  "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke.  You know that show that Mommy sometimes watches, "Growing Pains"?  (no, The Lovely Steph Leann doesn't now, but I'm counting on it coming on at some point and her watching it).  Yeah, the dad is Alan Thicke.  Robin is his son. Maybe you should just steer clear of this song.  And anything to do with Miley Cyrus, or at least, anything after "Party in the USA".

One of my favorite books this year is "Dr.Sleep" by Stephen King.  Though you aren't allowed to read anything Stephen King until you are at least 16, so if this isnt' 2027 when you are reading this, skip this part.

Taken in October of this year, in your long hair days.
You love this park, as do I.
Another fella named Jon Acuff wrote this book called "START", and created this online community on Facebook which your dad became a part of... met lots of awesome people who are probably represented on our bookshelves right now.

Is your mom still crazy about putting oils on you?  Essential oils?  That started in 2013 as well. 

Okay, there is the yearly rundown... this was a big year for our family too, Campbell.  In August, you were diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum... or as we liked to say, "You gots the aw-tism"

Honestly, I had no idea what that meant either, until that week you were diagnosed.  We kind of knew it was coming, but your Pops and GG and Aunt Becky took it kinda hard.  Your Granny Jan really had no idea what to make of it, and in a few weeks from this posting, we'll go to see her for Christmas, and we can tell her all we know.

What does that mean?  Well, look at yourself now.  I don't know when you are reading this, but I have 100% confidence that you are strong.  You are handsome.  You are kind.  You are friendly.  You are talented.  You are funny.  You are smart, much smarter than me (maybe as smart as your mom, though that's tough, cause she's pretty smart...).  Your one of God's creations, crafted by His hands and given to us for your care.  And the night you were officially diagnosed, you let us know it would all be okay.

This year has been difficult at times... but you learned to walk, and it was precious.  Watching you surf the room from chair to chair, to the couch and then back to a chair, sometimes making it, sometimes splatting on your bum, was awesome.  But you figured it out.  I loved watching you pick up a puzzle, or a ring toy, or something that had to be learned, and watching you figure it out.  You would work on it 'til you got it right.  You haven't spoken a word yet (some in the family think you have said "eat", and you do make a "eat" sound when it comes to food, but given that you haven't said anything else, I think "eat" might be a stretch...)

You have, however, made lots of ma-ma-ma-ma-ma and ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba and "raspberry" sounds, and they are quite cute and hilarious.  You also have this habit of going really high pitched in a loud shout when we are eating dinner in a restaurant.  I think you know what you are doing, you evil genius, you.

I look forward to the day, soon, when we can laugh together.  When we can play games together, when we can go to the zoo and you will point out animals and say words that almost make sense... I know your Mommy wants you to call her "Mommy" so bad she can't stand it... but I know you'll get here.  Heck, you reading this now probably seems silly, because at this point, you've been talking for as long as anyone remembers.  If my predictions are right, you probably won't shut up.

Just tonight, a few hours before I wrote this, your Mom said to me, "This has been quite a year for our family, hasn't it?"  And I agree.  Its been a roller coaster of emotion, of love, of tears, of disagreements and growing closer as a family. 

I know this note has been all over the map, but there is so much to tell you... I just want you to know that we don't say "we have an autistic son"... we have "a son who deals with autism".  Because you are not defined by Autism, and you never will be.  You will be defined by your character, by how you treat people around you, how you respect the girls in your life, how you deal with conflict, how you love others, and how you follow Christ.  Autism just happens to be something you will continue to climb over.  Never forget that, Campbell, never forget that. 

Anyway, happy 2nd birthday, Monkey Butt.  Your mom and dad love you so, so much... but don't forget, as much as we all love you, God loves you more than all of us combined, times a bajillionty.  And if you aren't following Him yet, come talk to me and we can discuss it.

I end this letter now, will close my laptop and go crawl in bed, and if I'm lucky, you'll gravitate towards me, wrap your arms around my arm and continue sleeping.  Love you, kid.


Monday, December 02, 2013

when soon is not soon enough

Just like you, I have goals and dreams.

And just like you, I have excuses. 

Some are great excuses.  I have a 2 year old.  He keeps me busy.  I have a household to maintain, a The Lovely Steph Leann to take care of, a new job to continue training and learning in, and so much travel going on.

So I plan to start blogging regularly, soon. 

And I plan to start my book about autism and Campbell, soon.

And soon, I'm going to start outlining my "blog fiction" project that I want to maybe kick off mid-2014.

And when this Disney thing gets going, its going to be awesome, right?  Soon, I'm going to have my Disney Open House, where people can come, find out more information, and learn how I can help them with their own Magic...

Then, I'm going to watch this long list of movies I have to watch.  And spend more time with Campbell.  And breeze through the 2nd season of Once Upon a Time with The Lovely Steph Leann.

Soon, I mean.  I'll start that soon.

But I have to ask myself, when exactly is soon?  Its not now, apparently.  I haven't blogged since November 5th, even though I have five or six posts practically ready to post. 

It probably isn't soon now, because I've only mentally laid out my idea for my book, but nothing on paper.  And as far as "blog fiction" goes, I haven't written a single thing down... in fact, most people don't even know what that is.

And it must not be soon yet, as I don't have plans for a Disney Open House.  I mean, I plan to have one, but I don't have plans to have one.  Big difference.

So when does soon get here? 

The answer.  Never.

Excuses are like kudzu.  You let one take root, and they are everywhere.

"Let's get through October, because its a busy month..."  October comes and goes.  Yes, it was busy, but now we are past it... yet, "Got a Disney vacation coming up, let's get past that..."  Just got back from 8 days at Disney.  "Its almost Christmas time.  Its going to be busier than October.  Lets wait til January..."


Soon sucks.

How about now?   Now doesn't suck.  Now is frightening.  Now takes soon and throws Soon away.  Soon keeps telling you that when you have time for your dreams, your dreams will come true.  Now tells you the truth--You'll never have time for your dreams, unless you make it.  Soon won't make time for your dreams. Now will.

Its Now.

Soon is no longer an excuse.  I actually think I'm out of excuses for what I want to do, what I feel led to do. 

What's your excuse?