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Put That Woman First

My parent’s relationship is the blueprint from which I have tried to mold all the relationships I have had so far. Albeit with a far lesser degree of success than they have managed over the 32 years that they have been together. In my eyes, my parents are the dream team of the marriage game. This is not to imply that theirs has been a perfect marriage – no marriage is. And that is probably the most important thing I have learned. Theirs is an imperfectly perfect union. They are each other biggest fans. They continue to consistently make sacrifices for each other. They have an innate understanding of each other strengths and flaws. They complement each other. And even more significantly they are the very best of friends.

My parents do almost everything together. They spend as much time as they can together. They are open and transparent with each other and whatever their differences they have always presented a united front to me and the rest of the world. They even have a joint bank account! Having had my fair share of relationships I am fully aware of the level of trust and openness that is a prerequisite for such a decision. Most of us won’t even allow anyone we are in a relationship anywhere near our phones, let alone our bank accounts.

As a team, my parents each had their assigned role when it came to raising us, their kids and they both did it exceedingly well. I am a living testament to that. Growing up I naively assumed that this was the modus operandi in most marriages and families. It is only in my teens that I actively started noticing how this was not always the case. That some of my school mates came from either abusive, single parent or ‘broken’ homes. How often one parent had to shoulder all the responsibility and play both roles that my own parents shared between them. That only served to magnify the gratitude I continue to have for my parents. Everything I am is direct result of the sacrifices they have both made. And I become more and more preoccupied with the purpose of my life I have begun to look more and more at their example and to try and learn as much as I can from it.

Being a man I have looked more specifically looked to my dad for guidance as I try to navigate my way into manhood and what it means to me. A lesson I have learned from my dad and his relationship with my mum is about putting your significant other first. This manifest itself best by you able to find happiness in your partners happy.

The best example of this come from when I started working my first professional job in Melbourne. My parents flew over to visit and take what was to be their first holiday alone for the first time since they had had me. Detouring through they arrived in Melbourne two love birds crazy in love with each other. This is probably the first I actually looked at them as two people just truly, madly and deeply in love even after all the years. During that visit I realised that they were not just my mum and dad. They were soul mates.

Whilst I ran the rat race during the week they indulged themselves taking in the sights and going on dates. It was only on weekends that I got to spend time with them and even then I felt like I was the third wheel. On one particular weekend I decided to take them shopping. I remember I bought my dad this really nice suit that he absolutely adored but on that day in that particular mall my mum couldn’t find anything that was to her taste. So she went home empty handed. What happened as we made our way home and for most of that evening will always stay with me. My dad was visibly upset and disenchanted.

Later that night I worked up the nerve to ask him why he had been in such a foul mood, his response surprised me. This guy was even more disappointed than my mum was that she hadn’t been able to find anything during our shopping trip. I was pretty certain he loved the suit he had got, but he couldn’t get himself to appreciate it because his wife hadn’t been able to get anything on that day. When my mum caught wind of the reason for his sourness , she told him to stop being silly and reminded him that she still had time to get something she actually wanted. To which my dad responded ‘ You know I can never be truly happy if you are not happy. You are my happy.’

It might seem like it was a trivial matter, but in that moment my dad taught me an important lesson. Always put your woman first.

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Dream Team

I have got a story to share. It is about a sexagenarian who finally achieved her dream. A dream that had elude her for 35 years. Diana Nyad is a 64 year old American grandmother who earlier this week became the first person to swim across the Florida Strait without a shark cage. Her swimathon lasted for a total of 53 hours taking her from Florida to Cuba, a distance of 177km. What struck me about her story is that this was her fifth attempt in a period spanning 35 years. Her first attempt coming in 1977. During this first attempt she swam with a shark cage but only managed to cover a distance of 122km before the elements got the better of her. Her fourth attempt was in 2011. She had to abandon this after being stung twice by jellyfish as well as suffering an asthma attack.

Upon completing her swim and before collapsing in the arms of a friend with exhaustion she said “All my life, I don’t know where it came from, I believed in dreaming big. It doesn’t satisfy me to have small dreams and I can’t tell you what a big, big dream this is out here. It’s tough stuff.” She also had these simple nuggets of wisdom to share “I have three messages. One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team.” That’s a perfect triad of advice for so much of what we aspire to do in life.

Her friend had this to say  about her achievement “ If you know Diana you would know that if the weather was classy, and there were no beasts she would be the person to do it. “ I found this interesting because it is an approach most of us take when it comes to our dreams. We believe that if everything is ‘perfect’ then our dreams are attainable. But life is hardly ever like that. On our way to achieving our dreams we will most likely face challenges and setbacks. We might even fail several times. And as in the case of Diana Nyad it might take us 35 very long years before we ever realise them. And sometimes

Therein lays the lesson. Anyone can have a dream. It is only the ones who never give up, the believers who will end up seeing out their dreams. Despite the naysayers who thought she was too old to complete the swim (and not just because of venomous jellyfish and the potential for fearsome sharks), Diana Nyad proved that persistence, willpower and fierce dedication to your dreams can trump age.

This story served as a timely reminder just coming after a period when I have suffered a few setbacks with my writing. I sent out a few pieces I had written in the hope that I would get some of them published. Unfortunately I wasn’t successful. I was discouraged and disheartened. Coincidentally, during Nyad’s swim, she mentally sang to herself the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer,” which includes these apt lyrics about persistence: Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look? Anyway the voice of doubt in my head became louder and for a while I stopped writing altogether. I gave up. I shared this experience with one of my close friends recently. This friend is brother to my dreams, as I am to his. He said to me” Stay at it man, you have just got to keep knocking on those doors. Truth be told, you might even get more no’s, just remember the NO is not an absolute, think of it more like not right now”

As Diana Nyad pointed out  it “takes a team.” It’s critical to have encouraging mentors, networking contacts, colleagues, family members and friends who can encourage you and suggest ideas to help you succeed. For example, after each try, Nyad consulted with experts on how best to finish the swim the next time. After her attempt two years ago was foiled by an asthma attack, she invited a pulmonologist to join her 35-member support team.

Diana Nyad’s words suggest that although swimming is a deeply solitary pursuit, even athletes like her rarely accomplish their goals alone. And that’s another important lesson that we can all pick up from Diana Nyad’s swim. Most of are ill prepared to deal with and recover from failures and setbacks when we are still trying to achieve our dreams. We don’t have a Plan B, when Plan A fails. We are even afraid to share our dreams or ask for help. So while your dream might seem like a solitary pursuit, you will most likely need a “dream team” to achieve it.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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