Thu Jul 21 2011

ba (2)

If there is one thing I should work on more, it's my balance of work and family life. I love to hang out with the wife and kids every minute I get but, I also have a job that crosses into hobby land and sometimes I can get consumed by "work".

At the time of writing this, I have now been with my wife for just over 11 years married 8 of that. We have 2 kids, a turtle and live in the country ( as I call it ). We have it great compared to some. Upon meeting my wife I was introduced to "Higgins Lake, MI", the yearly vacation spot for my wife's family.

On Fishing

This year marks the marks the 4th trip for my son and the 3rd for my daughter. I love to fish and every year I take my kids fishing upon our arrival. Now let me set some context. I suck at fishing, although I love to go. Higgins Lake is a spring fed lake. It's very cold water and the fishing for "non locals", well let's just say, it rather sucks. There are fish in this lake and rather good ones, I just don't know how to catch them. Regardless each year as we descend on Higgins Lake I make sure I'm prepared to fish.

But this year, things were different.

This was the first year my daughter wanted to go fishing. This meant I needed to move to a zone defense rather than my traditional man on man. Not to fear, I really never catch anything anyways here so that won't be a big deal right? Upon our arrival we got our gear setup, bought some bait and loaded up the boat. Later that very first day we jumped on the boat and went back to "the spot". We've been here before and we have had some luck so why not start there. Less than an hour later, everyone in the boat caught something and we reeled in a good 25 fish. These weren't keepers, but we were catching. This was a first.

Once we got back home I was sitting on the deck looking out at the picture you see here. I was relaxed, just enjoying the scenery when it dawned on me. Making sure my kids caught a fish really stresses me out, yet this is the thing I love to do. But why? Each year the kids have caught at least one. It usually takes many hours all week to get just one. Every day multiple times a day we would go fishing and try different spots, different gear with terrible results. Day after day that elusive fish would become more and more important. As it turns out, that starts to become stressful. Just think of that professional athlete trying to break their loosing streak or a team coach trying to lead their team to victory after so many losses.

As I alluded, this year was different. We caught fish the very first day. We essentially won the very first game. The pressure was off, time to just go fishing.

On Losing

The irony in all of this, I want my kids to "lose". This year my son played organized sports. His first game, I was disappointed to find out that they didn't actually keep score for any of the games. I am not a believer in this hippy parent stuff where every kid gets a trophy or where score isn't kept. For me, that just doesn't represent real life. What do we think we're teaching our children? Right after the first game, my son asked who won and I told him. While he lost, he asked some important questions ( or so I thought ). Things such as, why did we lose, how bad, what could we have done to win? At 5 years old and this isn't a big deal but learning small disappointments like these, early I think help one prepare when they might have a big disappointment.

I have such a visceral reaction to these weird decisions our society has made. What are we actually teaching our children or the parents for that matter? I haven't had a job yet where everyone get's a pay increase for just being part of the team. Have you? Real life is about up's and down's and how you deal with them. It's not perfect, and as Ethan now tells me "Life isn't fair".

You don't always catch a fish, and you sure don't always catch "the big one".


It's important to reflect back on events in life. Hindsight is always 20/20. I share this today because I never realized how stressful the thing I thought was supposed to be relaxing me. I was in fact the coach here. The amount of self induced stress just to catch a fish, when I actually want my kids to at times. I was ultimately trying to teach them an important life lesson without necessarily having a big disappointment, and I didn't even set out to do so. After all this was supposed to be vacation, you know that set aside time to have fun and just relax.

Take a few moments and get all zen with your life. You might find out the thing that relaxes you is also very stressful.

What stresses you out?