Monday, August 24, 2015

Looking Back on the Icepocalypse Texas 2013

New England boast some endurance when it comes to winter weather. It can also put a feather in its cap for the ability to manage massive amounts of snow. But it cannot poke fun at North Texas when it was shut down for six days in December 2013.

A lot of good things came out of that winter. I started this blog and a Twitter account. Here's the Tweet that started it all.

I remember that it took three and a half hours to drive for milk. It was normally a 20-minute round trip.

These were essential for making it home. I actually helped a guy push his vehicle out of the street. He was thrilled to have help, and I was happy to be one of the cars that made it down the holler in and up the hill. That only happened after my New Englander sense kicked in when I convinced everyone that we had to get speed and stay off the breaks -- to trust the steering wheel. 

I don't know if everyone made it because I did and didn't look back.

This is the gas station outside Karen's workplace. It was the worst I had ever seen. But I wasn't worried. I remember feeling adventurous. 

Day five meant that the stores were once again stocked. But if I remember correctly, the schools were closed another day because the ice was still everywhere, including the roof where it did some damage. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Same Page, Different Book

I recently reunited with my wife and kids after a 10-day excursion to Texas and Massachusetts – the details of which are not important for this post. It was hard being away so long, but oh does distance make the heart grow fonder.

... Or so I thought.

In anticipation of my arrival, I missed my family more than ever. I envisioned seeing them pull up to the airport with smiles and hugs, which is exactly what I got. Only, something was different.

The feeling of reconnecting was not sustained. I felt like it was right back to the honey-do list and kids screaming and fighting. The blues set in.

Why did this happen?

I looked around and realized that while I was gone, everything continued as usual. The kids enjoyed splash pads and playgrounds. Karen made preparations for moving to Massachusetts and visited with her family. We were all happy to be reunited, but our emotional journey over the last 10 days was very different.

I was on the same page, yet it was a different book. This is only significant now – as opposed to the many times I've traveled in the past – because, unlike the past, I am more so living in the same book as Karen and the kids than ever before.

It's one thing to be physically present, and it's a whole new level of being-there when you are emotionally immersed in each moment as your family grows and you fall more deeply in love with your wife. That's being in the same book.

For some, this is not hard. Their minds turn on and off as the work days begin and end. That's not me. It never stops, and the same goes for my family while I'm at work. I think about them, talk about them, and dream about what comes next.

This sounds all well, but it comes with struggle. I've worked hard to pay attention to the feedback from those closest to me, especially Karen. I've reflected, tested, and even prayed to become more mentally present with my family.

Here's what I've learned.
  1. I travel sometimes and therefore need to be involved with what is happening at home while I'm away.
  2. Connected devices are awesome and make our lives easier. This is not without consequence, however. Psychologists are seeing similar symptoms that resemble those of sibling rivalry. It can stress a relationship.  
  3. Most importantly, to strengthen a connection with your family (when your work takes you away) takes practice. Start with one event at a time and reflect on it. 
  4. Inquire before you comment. I still haven't mastered this one (ask Karen), but I keep trying and it's getting better.  
This was my big emotional lesson of the summer. Stay tuned for a post on mileage and the culture shock of talk.