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Is this his purpose?

I believe we all have a purpose and I believe that we are all here to help each other. I think Max may have found his purpose or his calling in life. Every time we leave our house, leave someone else’s house, come home to our house, or arrive at someone else’s house, Max likes to check the mail.

We have no idea why he started doing this. We can’t wven figure out why he keeps going to the mailbox when it is empty more times than not. He checks the mail all the time and for some reason he feels that mail may be delivered many times during one day even thiugh there is rarely anything in it.

The other day we were leaving my parent’s house and he ran outside ahead of us. We thought he was going to jump in the car first.  When I got to the car, he wasn’t in it and this is where I found him:

I was hoping that baseball would excite him like it did me when I was growing up, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to excite him as much as checking the mail. Whatever Max decides to do when he grows up, my only hope is that he is happy and enjoys the lifestyle he has chose.

I am not sure if it is possible for Max to do a ride-a-long with a mailman or not, but I do think he should be considered as someone’s next apprentice. To all the mailmen, keep it up because this is one little boy you are inspiring.

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Am I listening?

I have worked hard to try to be an avid listener. Several years ago, I met with a friend and shared with her that I wasn’t a good listener. I asked her to help me become a better listener. She was excited to help me. She even worked with me for a whille to get better at this important skill, but I am not sure how much I have improved. At one point, I thought about giving up and just accepting that I am not a good listener. Thankfully, I am not good at giving up and am still trying to get better at listening.

I was at a conference this week and attended a session about supporting others. The main focus of the discussion was listening. The speaker even asked the audience “Are you listening?” When I heard (I was actually listening) the question, I immediately thought I need to hear this and pay attention. 

Mariah reminds me all the time that I never listen. She may be right and I will say the boys motor mouths are sometimes just too much for my ears. As I sit here with the boys, Max just told me that “I never pay attention.” I have even been told by a colleague that she “wonders sometimes if I am even here.”  Surely, I am listening because I heard all of these things. The fact that I heard that has to demonstrate that I was listening, right?

We all know that there is active listening and passive listening. What Mariah and my colleague were both communicating to me was that they don’t feel that I am listening. I may be good at passively listening, but maybe I am not so good at actively listening. Furthermore, I worry that I haven’t honored my friends effort and I may have more work to do to be a better active listener. 

I really don’t think I am the best judge of myself since I am not the one trying to feel heard. Therefore, I need your input. I am going to ask a few questions and I need honest answers. I need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so that I can really now if you are feeling heard by me. Here are the questions and your answers will help me know how well I am doing at being a good, active listener:

  1. How would you describe a good listener?
  2. Do you feel that I am a good listener?
  3. Do you feel heard when you talk to me?
  4. What can I do better so that you feel heard by me?
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A Pleasing Passport

I have to share that I am so pleased that Mariah has been accepted into the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner MSN program at Vanderbilt University. She is beyond ecstatic about this adventure and she deserves it more than anyone I know.

I remember meeting her in 2002 and she was working as a care partner at Vanderbilt. She was also working to finish her Bacheler of Science in Nursing from Austin Peay State University. I remember how hard she studied and worked to finish the program. I also remember her thinking that I was dreamy. Unfortunately over time, she has learned as I have shown her that I am anything but dreamy. 

I think it is important to know that she has realized  her dream against the odds. She has lived with me and my 3 mini-mes throughout her journey. We have not made it easy for her by any means. Can you imagine? 

Let me explain how she has had to overcome tremendous adversity. 

First, consider me. Enough said. I am nothing but difficult.

Second, let me share how Miles felt about her getting into the program. As you can see from his congratulation note, he has had no idea what she has been doing for the past 13 years. I would ask you how he could miss this, but I can be just as clueless so why would I have expected anything different.

    Third, let me share an example I experienced with Max today:

    • Me: Max, I love you
    • Max: Quit asking me that

    I am not sure why he thought my statement was a question or why he was so frustrated with my statement. The point is that we can be ruthless and this is what Mariah experiences from all four of her boys on a daily basis.

    Fourth, let me share one last instance with you.

    • Max: do I go to school tomorrow?
    • Me: No
    • Max: Uggggh! I want to go to school tomorrow.

    This came from the little boy that we have to battle every day to get to school and now he was begging to go to school on Sunday (a day he didn’t have to). This is the type of frustration that we put her through on a daily basis. She has to feel like none of us are ever happy. It is amazing to me that she has been able to stay focused on her goal.

    Being a nurse has always been her desire and she has been nothing less than tenacious throughout her journey. Today, she certainly feels like a champion as she has been given a passport to the luck and fortune she has wanted to conquer her entire life. 

    Mariah, whether the boys know or understand what you do, we love you with all of our hearts and are so excited for you. I am sorry the four of us have made your journey so difficult, but we never had any doubt in you. I am trying to convince myself that that we were training and preparing you in some way. Now that you have made it to the last part of your journey, we can lighten up our training and watch you shine your light a little brighter on the world.

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    Can I be Mariah’s superhero?

    Oops. I did it again. I continue to mess up. I must be an ignoramous since I keep repeating the same mistake over and over. I really wish I could make the right choices but for some reason my emotions keep getting the best of me.

    We are going through a series at church called “The Other Side of Me.” I can imagine what that is like and I think it must be plain awful. I am reminded of the time I introduced Mariah to one of my aunts many years ago. My aunt told her a story and clarified that as a kid I was awful. In fact, I will never forget sitting there hearing her say to Mariah “he was awful, just awful” with a serious look on her face. I am glad Mariah didn’t take that information and run for her life.

    I guess I continue to live up to that reputation because I think living on the other side of me right now is pretty awful. At least that is what I think Mariah is trying to communicate to me in a nice way. Mariah let me know tonight that she couldn’t wait until I went to bed. In other words, she couldn’t wait until she didn’t have to put up with me any longer. Believe me, I get it because I have to put up with myself all day long. I understand her feeling because I don’t think I could live on the other side of me either.

    The good thing is that I think I have figured out the problem. Every day I fight an internal battle. A battle between two perspectives. Both perspectives are pretty stubborn and return to fight the battle the next day. Some how both perspectives are indestructible and keep coming back. One perspective is good and one is bad.

    I will describe the bad perspective first. This perspective is the one that makes me believe that Mariah doesn’t view me as her superhero. This perspective makes me feel like I am a burden to her and put to much pressure on her. It causes me to feel like I am causing problems and not being helpful. It causes me to have a bad attitude, crushes my self-esteem, destroys my courage, robs me of any hope.

    Now, I will describe the good perspective. This perspective is the one that makes me feel that Mariah does believe in me. This perspective makes me feel like I am a good husband and a good dad. It causes me to feel like I am doing something right. It causes me to have a good attitude, a good self-esteem, a lot of courage, and a lot of hope.

    I think the key to being Mariah’s superhero is up to me. I am the only one that is responsible and accountable. It isn’t up to anyone else. The only person standing in the way is myself. I can be Mariah’s superhero if I can get out of my own way and can defeat myself. The choice is mine.

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    The imbalance of desires

    I wish I could tell you in all seriousness that Mariah and I don’t fight. The truth is that we are human and we do fight. I am ashamed to say it, but we are both stubborn and we are both fighters. In a lot of ways, our persistence serves us well, but in some ways it can be a problem.

    I guess you can probably figure out that Mariah and I got into a fight tonight.  Now that the devastation is done and I am past the overwhelming emotions, I can finally be more aware of what I have done. However, in the heat of the battle, I have a tremendous urge to speak out in an effort to be heard. The bad thing is that my emotions and feelings come out in a way that is anything but graceful. I can be an emotional vigilante. Mariah says I have apocalyptic thinking and I think she is right. 

    Most of the time, I am a very simple and logical person. When my emotions reach the threshold, I become unable to resist the urge and end up destroying all of the peace and solitude. My emotions get so strong that I resort to being a child and act like my boys. For example, tonight they argued over who would go first. We decided to flip a coin to help us determine who would go first. As I started to flip the coin, they argued about who was going to be heads versus who was going to be tails.  It was heads and then they argued about what heads meant. As you can see, the fighting can be ridiculous and can really make you tremble.

    My desire to get my way can be very similar. It can be ludicrous and it certainly was tonight. Unfortunately, just as I have many other times, I became self-centered and selfish. I let my emotions lead me. I allowed a stupid desire to get in the way of a much more important desire – the desire to make my wife’s heart full and happy. The end result is that I push Mariah a little further away and cause her to believe a little less in me. In other words, the next time I make an effort to fulfill her heart, she will be less likely to believe it. Plus, this isn’t the right example for our. Boys.

    I would really like to find a way to recognize the next time this happens. I want to be Mariah’s protector and superhero, not her enemy. I also want to be the right example for our boys. If you know of any good methods, please be so kind to let me know so that I can figure out how to get this right for Mariah, our boys, and their future wives.

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    The class of my life

    This morning I read a blog that described some shocking and very unexpected news. It was shocking and unexpected because I never imagined reading what I read. The story was about someone getting a divorce. I was very surprised that this individual was going through this situation. As I finished reading the story, I reflected on what there was for me to learn. To be honest, I couldn’t help but wonder what caused this marriage, and several other marriages, to self-destruct.

    I know many people that have been divorced and I don’t think any of them got married with the intention of ever getting divorced.  I don’t think anyone gets married with that intention. I know I didn’t. What I was really focused on was if there was something for me to learn from this and all of the other stories of divorce.

    As I thought about finding an answer, I first thought about how someone that is married or has been married describes marriage. I don’t recall anyone ever telling me marriage was going to be easy and no one adequately described just how hard it was going to be.

    My second thought was about all of the material that has been written about the secret of marriage and about how to have a succesful marriage. While there is a lot of good material that has been written, the truth is that I don’t think there is a secret. At least I don’t think there is a secret that fits every marriage.

    My third thought was that no one or no book ultimately makes the difference. I am the only one that can make a difference in my marriage. It is up to no one but me. I know my wife is my partner and she certainly plays a major role, but if I want my marriage to be great and to be succesful it is up to me. I cannot just sit around, leave it up to her, and expect our marriage to be amazing.

    Finally, for some reason, I thought about learning. I thought about how much I like to learn. I thought about all of the education I have completed. I thought about how much I enjoyed learning everything I have. And then, I thought about why I never learned the secret to a succesful marriage. 

    As I continued to reflect, I realized I had found my answer. I realized I was currently in the process of learning the secret. I was learning the secret by taking the hardest class of my life. A class being taught by the best but hardest professor of my life. A class that has no other students. I am taking a class called marriage being taught by the only professor skilled and qualified to teach me. 

    I have certainly enjoyed the class so far and I have certainly found an exquisite professor. While it is unseen at this point how I will do in this class, the good news is that I have demonstrated that I am capable of learning. So, I am going to pray that this class never ends and I am going to pray my professor doesn’t flunk me. I am going to pray that my professor always thinks I am the best possible student she could ever teach. I am going to pray I can be the best student I can possibly be. I hope that someday I can look at my professor and say “Praise the Lord, we have made it this far.”

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    The M. Daly’s 2016

    We started 2016 with a lot of hope for what the year would bring us. We planned to be unstoppable. We had lots of anticipation and courage. We were going to be stubborn. We shot for the moon. We made a lot of promises. We hoped to spread kindness like the flames of a wildfire. 

    It was rarely calm and was often moody and maddening. At times we moped, and at times we faded. It was original and quite festive. We asked lots of tough questions and worked hard to protect our sacred treasure. Thankfully, Mariah shined a lofty light over us to help us stay resilient and keep our vigor.

    Here is a retrospective overview of our path through 2016:

    • We saw the Harlem Globetrotters
    • Mariah turned 36
    • Miles turned 7
    • Miles learned how to ride his bike without training wheels
    • Madden and Miles got in a few (really many) fights with each other
    • Madden and Miles played baseball
    • We spent Spring break in Orlando, FL and went to Disney World
    • Madden finished the 2nd grade
    • Miles finished the 1st grade
    • We went fishing, but lost our patience
    • Miles and Max got in fights with each other
    • Madden spent 2 weeks at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, NC
    • Mariah spent one of the weeks with him at Camp Rockmont as a camp nurse
    • We went to Monster Jam at Nissan Stadium
    • Max took swim lessons
    • We drove all the way to Amelia Island. We even took Maggie with us and she loved the beach.
    • Maggie turned 1
    • Madden turned 9
    • Madden started the 3rd grade
    • Miles started the 2nd grade
    • Max started pre-school
    • Madden and Miles got in more fights with each other
    • Max turned 4
    • Max started playing T-ball
    • Madden and Miles played fall baseball and flag football
    • Miles and Max got in more fights
    • We had panned to go back to Amelia Island but ended up visiting Panama City Beach for fall break due tothe  hurricane
    • I was invited to a Transplant Administration conference in San Diego, CA, and Mariah got to go with me. We stayed at the Hotel del Coronado.
    • Mariah and I had our 11th wedding anniversary
    • I turned 41
    • Madden completed the requirements for his Wolf badge in Cub Scouts and began working on the requirements for his Bear badge
    • Miles completed the requirements for his Tiger badge in Cub Scouts and began working on the requirements for his Wolf badge
    • We participated in the Hike for the Homeless at Edwin Warner Park Mariah’s family
    • Madden started taking piano lessons
    • Mariah started taking a boot camp class and has fallen in love with the class
    • Mariah continues to work in the float pool for the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Outpatient Clinics
    • I accepted a new position as the Administrative Director of the Heart and Vascular Institute at Vanderbilt and will begin my new role in February 2017
    • We bought the boys a trampoline
    • The boys and I visited my sister and brother-in-law in West Hollywood, CA

    It was a long path, but we all made it. A lot of this may sound ordinary or like a bunch of folly. You may or may not feel we deserve an ovation. Regardless, this is our life and we love it. We are a family and we love being together (well, most of the time). 

    As 2016 vanishes, I am reminded of a prayer that Mariah and I really like to pray:

    Dear God,

    No one said this would be easy and no one said it was going to be this hard. But may the day come when we can say “Praise the Lord, we have come this far.”

    We are even more hopefuul for what 2017 will have in store for us. We step into 2017 with lots of enthusiasim and can’t wait for all there is to for us to discover

    We wish each and everyone of our family and friends a Happy New Year. We hope you can find time to relax and hope that you find great fortune at finding your place as you construct your journey throughout 2017. Finally, we hope God elicits many blessings (or at least opportunities) for you and your family.