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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.

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Opportunities, Fear, and Personal Responsibility

This week I visited my sister and brother-in-law in West Hollywood, CA with my boys, mom, neices, and god son. One afternoon we went down to Santa Monica Beach. Needless to say, the beach was overcrowded. It is a great place to people watch which is exactly what I did.

There was a part of the beach that was like a park with swings, monkey bars, and lots of other playground equipment. The other type of playground equipment is not what I am use to seeing on the playgrounds we typically visit. The othertype  of equipment included rings and tight ropes. It is a very interesting sight especially to me as it is not typically what I get to see. 

As we watched the people on the rings and tight ropes, my boys wanted to try which is exactly what they did. Madden and Miles both did the rings several times and the tight rope a few times. Of course, I helped them. However, I mostly found myself watching them and all of the other people. I never attempted to try the rings or the tight ropes. I let my fear be bigger than my faith causing me to just sit and watch.

At first, I found myself thinking these people are really into this. Second, I thought what is the big deal. Third, I thought these people are weird.  Fourth, I thought thete was no way I could do it. Fifth, I noticed that they were working hard and getting something out of the exercise. Eventually, I recognized I was the weird one just sitting and watching. As odd as it all seemed to me, they were the ones gaining strength and improved health and I was the one missing an opportunity. 

As I continued to sit and allow an opportunity to pass me by, I thought about my wife who stayed at home. I thought about how I wished she was here with us. I thought about how much I sit and watch my relationship with her. I thought about how me sitting here missing an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary was a reflection of how I sit and miss opportunities to improve my relationship with Mariah.

To be blatantly honest, I have sat around and watched our relationship from a distance for too long. I have not engaged as I should have and because of that I have caused a lot of damage. I have weakened our relationship and our marriage. I have failed to engage in opportunities that would have helped Mariah and I have a deeper, more rich, and more emotionally intimate relationship. A relationship that would have led her to being more fulfilled and happy. A relationshi that would create a more peaceful environment for our boys.

You know what, maybe I actually got something out of the opportunity at Santa Monica after all. Maybe I found my resolution for 2017. Now is a good time for renewal. I think I am going to try to not sit around and mope, because I know Mariah hates that. I think I am going to try to be resilient and take advantage of each and every relationship-building opportunity, especially with my wife. 

Besides God wanting me to do this, Mariah certainly deserves it and so do our boys. I cannot let my fear get in the way of doing something that I love which is loving Mariah. Ultimately, this is my personal responsibility and this is not up to anyone else. 

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Fear, Faith, Anticipation, and Attitude – The Wrong Combination Can Be Volatile, But The Right Combination  Can Be Very Stable And Calm

A few weeks ago, Mariah and I were Christmas shopping. While Mariah was looking around, I discovered some artwork that I have since grown to really like. The artwork had the following quote: “Don’t let your fear be bigger than you faith.” As I have reflected on that quote, I have found several opportunities. to share this quote. I have come across multiple situations where friends have let their fear be bigger than their faith allowing me to have an opportunity to make a difference. The more I shared it, the more I have become fond of the quote.

When you have fear or faith, you will usually have some form of anticipation that eventually impacts your attitude. For instance, if you have faith you will anticipate something optimistic or something good happening. But, if you have fear you will anticipate something pessimistic or something bad happening. That anticipation will eventually impact your attitude and ultimately how you treat the people around you.

At our house, there is lots of anticipation and the anticipation impacts each of us a little differently. As we begin to anticipate, we tell ourselves a story and that story can guide us down an emotional path – an optimistic path or a pessimistic path. The important thing is how that path impacts our attitude which ultimately affects how we treat each other.

Right now our boys are very excited about Christmas since it is only 7 days from now. They have faith that they are going to get some great presents. They anticipate that they will get some fun gifts. As a result, they have very positive attitudes. Seeing their excitement and good attitudes makes Mariah and I very happy and brings us a lot of joy. Thus, the faith and the anticipation leads all of us to having good and positive attitudes and treating each other with kindness.

I know that example seems fairly simple, so let me share with you a more complicated situation. Yesterday, the boys were excited about going to two birthday partys. They had faith that the parties would be fun, they anticipated having fun, they had good attitudes, but their anticipation got out of control. They became so focused on the party that their  excitement became a nuisance. Sometimes their anticipation is so big that they have trouble containing it. Their anticipation grew so big and dramatic that they become emotional dinosaurs.

Because we have experienced the emotional dinosaurs before, Mariah and I can allow our fear (that the boys will push our buttons or each others buttons and wear us down) to outgrow our faith (that they will have good behavior). We began to anticipate the worst rather than the best. Specifically, we became fearful that the boy’s anticipation would lead to competition, fighting, nagging, and begging. Thus, we began to anticipate the worst and our attitudes began to stink.

The truth is that the boy’s anticipation can sometimes be a dangerous combination with our anticipation. If our anticipation combines at the wrong time in the wrong way, it can become a volatile situation. It can be like Godzilla meeting a King Kong. When the two combine it can lead us down a hard and moody path. And today, between the two birthday parties, Godzilla met King Kong and the moods spiraled out of control. It turned out to be less than a desirable afternoon for all of us and you can see how the violent collision affected Max (our boys never fall asleep easily, especially on our couch amidst all of the surrounding noise).

As I have reflected on the afternoon, I have tried to determine how to best get through these situations. I was reminded of how the emotional dinosaurs recently affected Mariah about a week ago. Mariah found herself sitting alone in her car in a parking lot trying to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. It was her only escape from all of the drama. As she sat there for a few minutes enjoying the peace, I think she realized how odd it could appear. Even though it felt odd for her to sit and enjoy the quietness in her car, she probably needed the relief. The boy’s dramatic anticipation that day was really just encouragement for her to take a break. It was their (you know I really mean our) little motivation. For some reason, whether Mariah understood it or not, she found a way to keep her fear from becoming bigger than her faith. So, what was it about that day that made the difference?

The answer finally came to me as I recalled what a friend at work told me a few months ago “no one controls your attitude but you. Don’t let someone else make that decision for you.” So, while I lay here awake tonight and everyone else is asleep (except me at the moment because I was able to get Max peacefully back to sleep), I have many thoughts and feelings. I anticipate getting the boys up, getting them ready for school, getting them in the car, and getting them delivered to school. While it sounds simple, the fact is that it will either go smoothly or roughly. The difference maker can often be our attitude which develops from the anticipation we have as a result of our fear or faith.

So, tonight as I go to bed, I am not going to let my fear be bigger than my faith. I am going to have faith and anticipate that tomorrow morning will be stable and calm (boys will wake up independently on time, get dressed with smiles on their faces, hug each other, be excited to go to school, be kind to each other all the way to school, and even hold the door for each other as they walk in the school building). I am going to have faith that the boys have faith and an optimistic mood and attitude when they wake up.

I am not naive and I also anticipate that I will have a fight on my hands. I anticipate that I will have to battle all of the anticipation around me. The question is can I fight all of the superficial anticipation in a way that allows my emotions to stay optimistic. Can I fight all of the anticipation to destroy the fear and allow my faith to win? I can as long as I can stay focused. I can as long as my fear doesn’t become bigger than my faith. 

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The Blessing of Great Neighbors

We have all heard many metaphors or quotes about life. One blogger once wrote about many life metaphors he/she could recall. These metaphors can be used in many ways. They can help us make sense of our life. They can help guide our life so that we can learn and grow. One of the best things about life is that we each get to choose what the metaphor means and we each get to choose how we use it as an understanding, lesson, or guide. 

To me, life is not about what I do. Life is about what I am doing to become a better person – a better God-loving citizen, a better husband, a better dad, a better neighbor, and a better employee. According to Mathew 23:37-39, ““Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Mariah and I try to use these two commandments as the guide for our life.

In this passage, we consider neighbors to mean any person we may contact in our daily life. We may come in contact with good or bad people. It can be easy to love our neighbors when they are good, and it can be more difficult to love our neighbors when they are bad. Either way, God wants us to love them. 

I recall Mariah sharing a thought with me that someone once shared with her. The idea was about how to think or get through a difficult time. The individual told her to just watch and look for all of the good things taking place around you. For instance, when there is a bad car wreck, just watch and look at all of the people that come to the rescue. The truth is that there will always be more people doing good than bad.

Mariah and I are surrounded by many great people and we have an opportunity to interact with them everyday. This morning, we were actually talking about a few of the neighbors that live in our neighborhood. She commented about how blessed we are to live in a neighborhood with such amazing people and families. The more we thought about that, the more we thought about all of the people that have been in our life and are in our life. 

We (really me) are not always good at saying it and wanted to today. We want to thank all of the people that have been in our life and are currently in our life for being so great and amazing. Thank you for making it so easy for us to abide to the second greatest commandment of all. Each of you have blessed our life in some way. We are grateful for the impact and the difference you have made in our life. Mariah and I appreciate living beside you, living down the street from you, working with you, going to school with your family, playing (baseball, football, basketball, at the playground, and so on) with your family, or learning from you. We love each and every one of you. We hope and strive to be as good of neighbors to you as you are to us, and we hope you have a Merry Christmas this year.