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Commentary: Jumping jack your way to better days

Stressed? Overwhelmed? Frustrated at your own shortcomings, misgivings and negative behavior?

Twenty jumping jacks!

That's the latest coping skill passed on to me from my children. They recognize the signs and the jacks work; until my next overreaction to a small problem in this world we live. Fortunately, I have three wonderful daughters who are perceptive and patience to "look after me" as they so often state.

I procrastinate. I can't find things. I don't stay on task. I have the attention span of a drunken squirrel when it comes to completing projects at home. All this leads to stress, which sometimes leads to ridiculous actions, surly language, and more often than not, me running around the house acting like a complete fool.

When this happens, not too terribly often, my daughters sit and watch with looks on their faces that reflect a combination of embarrassment, confusion and disgust.

This is what I'm thinking about this Christmas season and heading into the new year.

It's the little things in life that will likely drive me crazy. I think I would be more successful wrestling a 350-pound black bear than painting a door or fixing the toilet or figuring out what's wrong with the water heater.

No more.

When the pressure builds in my brain and the relief valve is ready to blow, I need to take a deep breath. Relax. Twenty jumping jacks. Now. That effective physical stress reliever is handed down by my 6th grader.

Then there's the more spiritual approach from my 4th grader. "Bricks, Daddy. Stress is like bricks on your shoulders. When you feel stressed take those bricks off your shoulders one at a time."

I learn from my children and I love it.

I know my daughters are perceptive, but I also see it's clear the folks at school do a nice job of instilling these ideas and techniques in our children.

We stress over our jobs, shoveling snow, paychecks, bills, cooking, cleaning, fixing stuff, not enough time, laundry, holidays, buying gifts, accepting gifts, marriage, our health, our weight, pipelines, oil, water, politics, what people say about us, what we want to say about other people, and lots of other stuff.

No more.


Jumping jacks.

It's not worth the stress and strain. All that stuff will be there for us each and every day. Every. Day.

We all need to count our blessings (yes, that cliche). Focus on the positive and deal with the rest as it comes along. So much easier said than done.

I appreciate everything I've worked for and the family my wife and I have built together — a great American partnership. I learn a lot about myself through them. I love being a husband (94.3 percent of the time). I love being a father even more. I promise that's not a knock on my wife. Let's face it, that 5.7 percent of marriage remaining after the good stuff is not the greatest. Yes, the majority of that is on me and my actions and inactions.

I love being a part of our daughters' lives each and every day. I love how they wake up in (mostly) great moods, how they get ready themselves, fix their own hair, fix each other's hair, cook their own breakfast, and are excited for school. I love that they are great kids and have great friends. I love that they love their teachers.

I love telling them, "I love you," every night when we tuck them in bed. I love even more they say, "I love you too, Daddy."

Every time.

I'm fortunate enough to be a volunteer coach for girls basketball and softball, working with some great parents and so many other coaches who give up their time to make sure all of our children are learning and having fun. I love that.

I'm not a deeply spiritual man, so I'm way over my quota for the use of the word love. I certainly have my faults, but like so many of us in this world I need to be better at focusing on the positives in life. There's enough negativity in the world, don't go searching for it.

We all have stress, most we create ourselves. Focus on the good stuff. Smile. Dance and sing. Okay, I will neither dance nor sing outside the friendly confines of my home. For that, you all should feel blessed.

Bricks and jumping jacks, folks.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!