First Day of School

Back to School Time, for Kids and Parents

Well, it must be September, because my Facebook feed is full of parents’ pictures of their young ones heading off to their first day of school, and teachers posting about how quickly the summer flew by. As parents across the country send their babies out into the world yet again (and possibly for the first time), there are a few things they need to keep in mind.

The Importance of Teachers

Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, we can all agree that American educators face major criticism year in and year out. While it’s impossible to say that every teacher out there is absolutely outstanding, I do feel I can confidently say that the education children get, no matter who the teacher is, is better than no education at all. Not only does a person’s level of education correlate to their chances of future success, but it also correlates to whether or not they have a future at all.

Teaching is an incredibly difficult job. Yes, there are some teachers out there who aren’t the greatest, but the same can be said for any industry out there. The difference is, while some people might end up in a specific job without really caring whether or not they do well, nobody goes into teaching unless they truly want to make a difference in the lives of the children they meet. Even the teachers who struggle to reach their students and might not be the best at what they do at least deserve our trust and our respect for dedicating themselves to our country’s youth.

Preparing Our Children Emotionally

If you’re a parent shipping your child off to school for the first time, you have a tough road ahead of you. So far, you’ve been the number one influence in your child’s life. Although you still will be incredibly important to their moral development, they’ll be meeting peers from a variety of backgrounds and home lives. Your presence will be the moral compass they will follow when they meet new people or face disagreements and other struggles in their life. Decide what lessons you want them to learn throughout the next 18 years of their life and further, and be the role model you know they need as they enter the world beyond the doors of your home..

Preparing Our Children Academically

As our children enter the school-age world, they’ll do so with mixed feelings. They’ll be excited to meet new friends and learn new things, but they’ll also soon realize how vulnerable they are out in the world. Instill in them the idea that it’s okay to be nervous or scared, and that stepping out of their comfort zone will lead to much more fun and exciting things to come. Even though you hate to see your baby upset or uncomfortable, you should always push him forward to the next big thing in his life. The worst thing you can do as a parent is hold your child back from reaching his full potential.

Turning the Page

As your children enter the next chapter of their lives, it’s important to realize you, too, are entering the next chapter of yours. Though you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few years of parenthood, and the next few years will be much different, the next chapter of your lives will undoubtedly be just exciting for you and your family

Making the Most of My Time

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”

Throughout my high school and college years, my favorite hobby was wasting time. I swear, I would do anything at all as long as it didn’t involve work or stepping out of my comfort zone. Video games, TV, beer, parties…If I didn’t have to push myself to accomplish it, I was happy doing it.

Looking back on those days, I could place the blame on any of a number of factors: My boring town had nothing better to do; I was still living at home and didn’t have a reason to push myself; I wasn’t motivated to do any better; It was easier; I was young.

I was also pretty stupid.

“Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”

It’s incredibly ironic that I spent so much time listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon but never seemed to actually hear the message it conveyed. And, as prophesied, here I am a decade later wondering why I wasted so much of my life doing absolutely nothing.

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death”

After I moved in with my girlfriend (who I’ve since made my wife–the one positive thing I’ve done in the past ten years), reality hit me that I’d have to start pulling my own weight. I now had more bills to pay than ever before, and a future and family to save for all at the same time. My thinning hair and aching back were also daily reminders that I wasn’t getting any younger, and the idea that I wasted my youth waiting for something better to come along began to really sink in.

So how did I get over it? To be honest, necessity made it thus. Now that I didn’t live with my parents, I was actually (*GASP*) responsible for myself. Food didn’t magically appear; neither did toilet paper. The house wasn’t magically clean after I came home from work. Nobody was there to guide me through my daily life.

But the best part about it all is the learning curve was not nearly as tough as I thought it’d be. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, but a body in motion will keep pressing forward. All those years of doing absolutely nothing instantly melted away.

Within weeks of living with my girlfriend, I had transformed into a completely different person. I no longer was content sitting around watching Seinfeld reruns. I actually started to want to get up and out, even if it was only for a trip to Target. In the past, I yearned for the days when I had nothing to do. Now, I can’t stand sitting still for more than 20 minutes at a time. My comfort zone may still be fairly small, but now I wake up each day thinking of ways to expand it ever so slightly. I used to be happiest when I was most comfortable; now, a bit of discomfort actually feels natural to me.

“Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say”

And what do I have to show for it? Well, for one thing, I’ve switched careers and now actually feel like I’m doing something with myself rather than going through the motions. Despite the fact that I used to work 12 hour days, I feel busier than ever now that I’m pursuing a longtime goal that I’d never gotten off the ground floor with before. I’ve discovered I have more opportunities than I ever thought I’d have, and have made connections with hundreds of like-minded people through my writing. And, perhaps best of all, the more I expand my comfort zone, the easier it gets to expand it even further.

My life may not have turned out the way I’d thought it would ten years ago, but I don’t really even know what I expected. All I know is I wish I had gotten up and out sooner.

Anyone else out there feel like they missed out on a good chunk of their life, or had an epiphany which caused you to make life-altering decisions?

Getting Started

9355090806_f5221afc1a_kI’ve tried dozens of times over the past years to start a blog, but never could get off the ground floor for one reason or another. I’m realizing that, despite what I had thought each time I sat down to write, I never really did have a focus or a plan for where my blog would start, and where it would head from there.

I realize now my biggest problem was I had always tried to reinvent the wheel with no help from established bloggers. This ridiculous sense of hubris put up a wall between my potential and my actual accomplishments. Unfortunately, it took me years to figure out what the problem was.

I’m starting this blog after having built a decent portfolio on Lifehack.org, and will be using The Daily Post’s Blogging 101 and Writing 101  crash courses to guide me and keep me on track throughout my journey.

Though it might be a little hacky, The Daily Post suggests I answer the following questions in my first post:

  • Why make my blog public?

First of all, I want to share my ideas with the world. Having begun writing for Lifehack earlier in 2015, I’ve been amazed at how quickly some of my articles have been spread throughout the Internet by various Twitter users and bloggers. It’s been a huge shot in the arm to know my ideas are worth being shared tens of thousands of times over. Putting myself “out there” has done more for my self-confidence than writing privately ever could.

I’ve also started networking with professional writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs who I never would have contacted had I not been published on Lifehack. Not only have I felt more comfortable reaching out to them, but others have actually come to me to express their interest in my writing. Having a personal blog will allow me to get more of my own ideas out there for others to see, and hopefully I can continue to expand my network by doing so.

  • What topics will I be discussing?

I’ve found quite a niche for myself in writing self-help articles dealing with relationship issues, personal problems, and finding a path to success. Through my personal blog, I’ll aim to link content to some of the articles I’ve had published on Lifehack and expand on ideas that have piqued my interest that I hadn’t able to dig deeper into.

As this is my first serious foray into blogging, I’ll also take time to discuss the process of creating a sustainable blog in order to perhaps one day act as a guide to those who are just setting out on their blogging expedition. It’s only fair that I pay it forward, right?

  • Who do I hope to connect with?

You! I’m open to communicating with anyone willing to listen and offer advice. I’m working on my self-consciousness that has, in the past, prohibited me from stepping outside of my comfort zone. So I truly would appreciate some guidance as I continue this journey. Whereas I used to shut down after receiving criticism that was supposed to be helpful, as of late I’ve seen such critical comments as they’re meant to be: help and guidance in order to grow. If the only thing you have to say is “This blog sucks,” keep it to yourself. If you think “this blog sucks because x, y, and z,” by all means, let me have it.

I also want to connect with those who might find my ideas helpful, intriguing, or otherwise worthy of being read. I’ve definitely been surprised by the positive reactions I’ve gotten to many of my Lifehack articles, and want to use that success as a springboard for creating an interesting and worthwhile blog for the world to read.

  • What do I want to accomplish?

I’m starting this blog knowing that everyone was a beginner at one point. I see all these established blogs and am simply amazed at the fact that they all started from one single post. I’m going to keep this in mind as my blog continues to grow on a weekly basis. I’ll be posting at least three times a week, with hopefully one longform post each week as well.

While I do hope to continue growing my audience and network, that comes second to creating great content. There’s no point in networking if you don’t have anything to offer. On the other hand, as the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.” That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll just write write write and expect an audience to show up at my virtual doorstep; but I won’t feel the need to gain a mass following until I’ve established my blog.

Finally, the wrap-up

If you’ve made it this far, thanks so much!

This entry was meant to get my ideas out there, and to give you a good idea of what to expect. But more importantly, it was meant to set a foundation for myself as the author of the blog. Now that I’ve put myself out there, and completed Day 1 of The Daily Post’s Blogging 101 crash course, I feel ready and willing to take on Day 2! See you tomorrow!