An Afternoon at Huntington Beach (PHOTOS)

There is absolutely nothing like sitting on the sand watching waves crash on the shore while being warmed by the sun and cooled by the wind. The only thing that can make that better is good company with good people. For many people, going to the beach is a special retreat for recreation, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Many memories are made at the beach (My wife and I got engaged at a beach).

Here is a glimpse of an afternoon in the sunshine. These pictures tell a story of a very happy memory. (Click to photos to enlarge.)















How Every Book is a TARDIS

The TARDIS from Doctor Who.
In the last few months, I've been becoming more and more of a Dr. Who fan.  It's a science fiction story of stories about an alien who calls himself "The Doctor."  He travels through time and space in the TARDIS with a revolving cast of companions to give a human element to the show.  There must be something special about a show that has been on television for 50 years. 

In the show, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to visit various places in history and anywhere in the universe.  The doctor can visit the American wild west, Ancient Rome, or visit Vincent Van Gogh during his early years.  He can also visit planets with alien civilizations with their own distinct histories, cultures, and traditions.  Throughout his adventures he saves planets, dissolves interplanetary conflict, and much more.  In my opinion, the endless possibilities of stories are what make the show interesting to its multitude of fans. 

Whenever I walk through a bookstore, I feel like the Doctor.  Going through the aisles makes me feel like I'm walking past different worlds of all different time periods.  Each book is a TARDIS that can transport me anywhere and anytime I want to be.  Each book can contain an adventure, information that has been hidden away, and people waiting to meet me. 

I can pick up a fantasy book be swept away from the present. I can enroll at Hogwarts, take a walking tour of Middle Earth, or dine with the kings of Westeros.  I can fly with Peter Pan and spend a week with the Lost Boys at Neverland or be a character in any of the Grimm's fairy tales.

In the fiction aisles, I can pick up a book and really be anywhere.  I can be in the courtroom when Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson.  I can be traveling down the river with Huckleberry Finn or take a class in religious symbology from Robert Langford. 

The travel section has books of all fascinating parts of the world.  I can dive into far away destinations such as Costa Rica, Nigeria, or the Philippines.  I've always wanted to pick up a travel journal and visit an interesting destination vividly described through someone else's experience.

The nonfiction section of the bookstore can take me on a tour through history.  I can experience the American Civil Rights Movement, the Renaissance period of art, and explore the medieval times.  I can have a coffee conversation with Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Socrates.  I can learn the histories of real people and how they've influenced the present. 

In my own nerdy way, walking through a bookstore contains the limitless possibilities that the Doctor and his companions get to do in every episode.

Backyard Fun in the Almost Summer Sun (moments in pictures)

The backyard is one of the most popular places for people to enjoy a sunny afternoon.  Every picture captures a moment and a collection captures memories.  These pictures were all taken from one afternoon celebration.  Even though it's not Summer yet, it's coming arrival is evident in the sunshine. (Click pictures to enlarge.)










Why I'm Motivated Whenever My Son "Walks in Daddy's Shoes"

One of the new things that my 19 month old son loves doing is putting on my shoes and walking around the living room with them on. He has been doing surprisingly well since I have size 12 shoes and both his legs could probably fit in one shoe. I know he enjoys imitating his mother and me, and it melts my heart every time he does something to be like daddy.  His imitation of me is cute, adorable, and the greatest honor I'll ever have.

I know that besides his mother, I'm his primary role model. This is a responsibility that I take very seriously. Both directly and indirectly, I'm teaching him proper human behavior, manners, what manliness means, and how to be a gentleman. I know he absorbs every little thing I do. He observes my daily routines. He watches how I interact with everyone, especially his mom. This is where I have to step up to the plate and continuously be on my A-game. 

If I want him to have a utility belt of virtues and good habits, I have to plant the seeds by starting with myself. All and every single one of my thoughts, actions, words, and conscious inaction sets the foundation for his development. Even if I've been hurt or wronged in the past, I can't let it seep through and taint my son's growth. 

I love my son very dearly and being the most exemplary role model for him is the best way I know how to be a dad. 

Haiku (by Sarah Hoffman)

Check, smiley face, final comment.
Last marks of the red pen.
Summer is close--can't you taste it?

Spring Evening Moments (a poem)

How beautiful
is such a day
      like today.

Just one of a countless infinity,
but uniquely precious
      to my son and me.

Outside on a spectacular spring evening:
time together
while enjoying the weather;
bonding time
while absorbing the whole atmosphere.

Fountain nearby trickling
while kids play round and round.
To my son it's a wondrous waterfall,
but to me it's a most peaceful sound.

Dads over there growling
as their kids scream away
around and through the playground
being chased gracefully and happily
      as they do their play.

Couples talking,
people reading,
one just sits and observes.

The soft cool wind tells us
night is slowly coming,
so it's time to go.

Becoming t|here (by Sarah Lower)

"I am the space where I am." - Noël Arnaud

I've passed through hallways and corridors, dwelt within doorways and made my place amongst the weeds and forgotten relics between this house and the next.  I've counted water spots strewn across ceilings, waited within paint-chipped windowsills and studied walls adorned by the unexpected glow of the falling afternoon sun.  I remember most vividly the longest hallway of my first home; walls clothed in unsightly wallpaper, daunting in their constant darkness, nevertheless, a comfort to simply sit between.

We intimately navigate these mundane spaces with both wonder and strain.  Each passage is particularly maneuvered revealing the calculation of each step.  We are careful to avoid marring the walls, failing to consider the ways in which these walls have marred us, made their impression upon us & formed the person who stands between them.  As I close my eyes and retrace these spaces I am reminded of who I once was within them, as well as who I've become between there and here.

I am the space where I am.




 
 


 
To check out more of Sarah Lower's photography, check out sarahlower.com or book her at sarah.a.lower@gmail.com 

Why Tony Stark/Iron Man is a Cancer

I could be totally wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.  After watching Iron Man 3, I came to a stark (no pun intended) notion that Tony Stark/Iron Man's zodiac sign must be Cancer.

I normally don't attribute any weight to this type of astrology, but I have plenty of friends who do.  They've been kind enough to inform me over the years of what my birth date signifies about my personality traits and character.  As a Cancer myself, I know that our main common component (besides being ridiculously good looking) is having a tough exterior and a delicate interior.  Just like the crab that symbolizes us, the outer hard shell protects what's inside.  It could be emotions, secrets, and other insecurities that we don't want bared out in public.

In the Iron Man movies, Tony Stark is consumed with his image.  He puts out the carefree billionaire ego arguably to hide his emotions.  He also uses his Iron Man armor as a protective shell to protect his physical self.  In part one he was taken hostage, has shrapnel lodged in his chest, and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after that.  He doesn't have many close friends.  His love interest, Pepper Potts, is the one emotionally closest to him, but he keeps even her at bay.  In the Avengers movie, Stark is described as someone who doesn't play well with others.  His character flaws list on, but in his essential core, he is a noble human being.  He holds on to that and magnifies it during his most heroic moments.  When he acts as billionaire Tony Stark or as the laser-shooting/I-have-the-latest-gadgets Iron Man, he is in his positions of power. 

All my Google-powered research hasn't led me to an actual birth date for Tony Stark, but based on his personality traits, I'm almost 100% certain that, like me, he is a crab in the stars.

Why Today and Every Day That Isn't Mother's Day Matters More Than Mother's Day

Mother's Day 2013 has already come and passed.  It's now a memory of the past to everyone who took part in the annual phone calling, gift giving, flower sending, and crowded dining holiday in honor of mothers.  It's a day that we show appreciation to the women who not just gave birth to us, but also sacrificed themselves in a way that gave us a part of who we are.

I myself have taken part in the commercialism of Mother's Day.  Over the years I've made my mom hand made gifts, bought cards, and taken her to what I like to call "restaurant riots."  I remember one year waiting with my parents for two hours outside of Olive Garden just to get seated.  It was so hot and crowded that the restaurant put up tents and drink dispensers outside for the waiting crowd.  All this was just to show my mom how much I love her.  Being in a sardine can of a restaurant waiting area isn't the ideal way my mom wants to spend her day, so in recent years, we've called in our order at a restaurant, pick it up, and have it at home with the family.

Now it's about 364 days until Mother's Day 2014.  I know that I don't have any Mother's Day obligations for a while, but no one should really have to wait until Mother's Day to show how much a person loves her or his mom.  Mother's Day should be every day in the way that people honor their moms for all that they've taught and given us.  This is really how we show our moms how thankful we are.  We don't need to buy cards, flowers, or take our moms to fancy restaurants every day to show that we are thankful, just love them in our own special ways. 

Happy Mother's Day to a Magnificent Mom!

To My Dear Wife,

I want to let you know that you are an amazing mother. I see it every single day. It's obvious in the way our son looks at you when he plays with you and when he misses you. You are the star of his universe (and mine too).

I know that you've sacrificed a lot and you still do every day. You always put our son's needs, happiness, and well-being first. It doesn't go unrecognized. Enduring gracefully all the days without showers, sleepless nights, and times where you feel too tired to do anything but still do are just some ways you show how much of a loving mother you are. As hard as it is, you still make it look easy. I appreciate all that you do and sacrifice for us; I know that our son also appreciates it all and will be more and more thankful as he grows up.

I know that sometimes you doubt your mothering abilities, I want you to remember that you are perfectly imperfect. No matter what, you will always be the best mother for our son.

You are a marvelous mother. Happy Mother's Day!


Sincerely,

Your Loving Husband

6 Messages of Motivation

Motivation comes in all shapes, colors, and forms.  It can be hiding under our noses or flat out in front of our faces.  Here are six motivating messages that can help us through the daily physical and mental marathons.  Enjoy!






A Salute to (insert all synonyms for "amazing") Teachers!

This is a salute to teachers; amazing teachers of all kinds.  This is not just for today, this week, but every day.  They all are crazy beyond belief, but we salute them anyway.

This is for the teachers that get up and go every day no matter what.  They feel like they're in a daily uphill battle.  They may be in a situation that feels hopeless where any average person would have quit already, but they get up and do it anyway.

This is in honor of the teachers who wake up really early and show up to work hours before they're supposed to.  They do it just to get everything ready for the day: lesson planning, copying assignments, grading tests, or buying whatever materials they need for the lesson out of their own pockets.

This is dedicated for teachers who give up their precious lunch breaks to tutor their students, especially the ones who didn't come to class.  They are more generous than people think.  This is also for the ones who aren't required to spend unpaid hours after school helping kids with their assignments.  They sacrifice their personal time and time with their families, but do so anyway.

This is for the teachers who dove into the profession knowing that they would be overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated.  They take graduate classes (some even have a master's degree), go through years of rigorous training, and jump through so many bureaucratic hoops all to be in a profession that is plagued by social scapegoating, budget cuts, politics, red tape, and declining social stature, but proudly dive into it anyway. 

This is in honor of the teachers who willingly choose to teach in the hardest schools.  These are the communities plagued by poverty, violence, drug abuse, and other social ills.  These educators care to serve the people society overlook and ignore.  They know they are doing society's dirty work, but willingly do it anyway.

This is dedicated for teachers who pour their heart and soul into what they do and who their students are.  They are the unspoken heroes of today.

Teachers are either crazy or extremely brave; I choose the latter.  Thank you all for being who you are.

Coffee House


A coffee house is one of my favorite places to be.  I've hung out with friends, gone on dates, or have personal retreats there.  I've also seen and heard the best musical performances there.  It's where I like to read, write, think, and imagine.  Countless memories have been formed around a cup of coffee.  This is where my heart is.

Anger Attack

Within the depths of my despair, under the sea of frustration, I'm simultaneously drowning and suffocating for life. I'm mad. I hate being mad; I also hate hating things. I'm angry at the world for not being what I expected it to be. I'm mad at myself for not being what I expect myself to be. I just want things to be easier. Simpler. Without stress or damnation.

In spite of all the negativity, there is always hope.

Breathe in. Exhale. Be calm. Use common sense. Remember that it's not as bad as I think it is. People are inherently good; it's in the core of our being. Note to self: life is also inherently good. It's virtues are abundant. Inhale again. Breathe out.

I give myself permission to smile now.