Order Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 3, Q3

Order: “Let all your things have their place; let each part of your business have its time.

Personal notes for the week:

  • Busy week ahead, plot it out;
  • Do not over plan, keep it manageable;
  • Each task is usually composed of several steps, list them out;
  • Provide cushion; fill it if needed, enjoy it if not.

Procrastination is how I get things done; every week I write a relaxed schedule and every week I finish writing this blog at 5am. Some weeks flow smoothly but most have their interruptions. Like on Wednesday, when I lost my wallet rushing my daughter to the dentist; interruption accomplished, Order eviscerated.

If there’s a benefit to procrastination, it’s complete laser focus at the finish line. But the drawback is that any interruption is a spark to gasoline; anger burns with the slightest agitation. How we handle ourselves during this moment is hardest because we are at our weakest: tired, stressed and anxious. It took a lot of energy to keep from yelling at my daughter as we looked for my lost wallet – a lot of energy.

Truthfully, I enjoy Order; plotting vacations, streamlining expenses, cooking foods; cooking is one I enjoy most. The prepping of food, the mapping of time, helps create hours of quiet. The mind put at rest and the body at ease, the moment wrapped in the comfort of Order. With each thing in its place, Orderliness stirs contentment – if only I could do this all the time.

Order breeds quiet; slowing down the world and letting appreciation sneak in. How often do people complain their train is on time? With the day over-packed and over-scheduled I lost a wallet and almost lost it on my daughter. Thankfully, a kind stranger left the wallet untouched with a gracious subway attendant and saved me hours of worry and misery. In this crazy time sometimes Order still finds its way, and wallets are returned, and people remind you that there is good in the world.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 4, Q2

Resolution: “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

Personal notes:

  • Determine key tasks this week;
  • Focus on these tasks;
  • Dutifully and purposefully complete each.

I’m traveling this week, and when I travel it’s always a bit difficult to get work done. Getting it done will be especially hard with good food and great friends; it’s going to take a lot of resolve.

Good luck this week,

Patrick

Silence Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 2, Q3

Silence: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

Personal notes:

  • Shut up and cut the sarcasm;
  • If angry, do not say anything, it’s a losing proposition;
  • Practice listening;
  • Limit the gossiping;
  • Get away from useless conversation.

Sometimes I’m quiet too much; sitting and sulking and degrading everyone else’s mood; benefitting no one. The mind inflating insignificant thoughts and ballooning them into anger. The pressure would ease if only the words could escape, but they’re stuck; trapped within.

The annoyance lingers, sometimes it disappears, but mostly it sticks around, and grows, and inevitably hurts the very ones I hoped to shield. That is the worst silence, the one where anger simmers underneath, waiting for the right amount of tension and irritation to erupt and catch loved ones by surprise; it’s almost always loved ones. The contradiction between intent and result is stark and firm.

What’s the correct action here? Certainly not Silence; burying down anger until it boils over is a wrecked path to failure. Communication is key, and I remember that each time I fail because I was silent. “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself” is about Communication. It’s reminding us to not waste time on fools; for that practice Silence. But for the ones we love, for the people who are close and meaningful and worthwhile, practice communication; it will benefit everyone, including yourself.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 3, Q3

Order: “Let all your things have their place; let each part of your business have its time.

Personal notes for the week:

  • Busy week ahead, plot it out;
  • Do not over plan, keep it manageable;
  • Each task is usually composed of several steps, list them out;
  • Provide cushion; fill it if needed, enjoy it if not.

Order is not about planning each minute of the week; I’ve done that before and it is folly. Order is about navigating a flexible path, one sure to survive calm waters and thrive in turbulent storms.

Have a great week

Temperance Q3

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 1, Q3

TemperanceEat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Personal notes:

  • Limit alcohol;
  • Reduce sugar;
  • Improve meal intake

I always feel a little bit of joy when temperance comes around; a week of lighter food, less alcohol and mindful eating. It’s a short week, but like an overdue vacation, it goes a long way. After just a few days, everything feels lighter and recharged and belts pinch less when buckling.

There was a time when destruction helped me recharge: terrible food, terrible drink, terrible hangover – the furthest thing from rest and relaxation. It was wonderful and comfortable, like an old pair of gray sweatpants, but something had to change or sweatpants would be all I could afford. Along with the growing waistline, the hangovers grew as well. The pain, oh my goodness the pain, it slipped from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday – I had to stop before it reached Thursday.

I still slip today, and still have a few rough mornings here and there, and the results are still the same. Hangover Saturday is the best day for me to start a losing argument with my wife, yell at the kids for being kids, and generally become an annoying grump. Sleeping it off doesn’t work, the kids don’t sleep and, even if they did, hangover sleep is cheap and fraught. Tossing and turning, hot then cold, a racing heart and panicked dreams – I won’t even mention the indigestion; I need to eat more greens.

Lethargic and gray and stuck on the couch is the surest way for me to stay unhappy; the 13 virtues grow love handles and look terrible in a bathing suit. Does that mean we all need washboard abs? No way. Triathlon? Pass. 26.2 miles? I’ll take a bus. Cozy up to moderation and use this week to reset and redraw the lines. Moderation and temperance, that’s what I’m going for; it’s the extra padding that feels great, gives you something to hold on to and keeps you warm in the water.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 2, Q3

Silence: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

Personal notes:

  • Shut up and cut the sarcasm;
  • If angry, do not say anything, it’s a losing proposition;
  • Practice listening;
  • Limit the gossiping;
  • Get away from useless conversation.

Shhhhhhhhh.

Have a great week

Humility Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 13, Q2

Humility: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates”

Personal notes:

  • Think about others;
  • Think about where we are;
  • Find happiness here.

My daughters and I sat on our porch blowing bubbles; gentle morning sun warmed us while a fresh breeze kept us cool. Birds flew on their way to water, a few cars ambled to work, and a dog walker, holding more leashes than one person was meant, herded her pack. An unfamiliar dog walking with its owner caused quite a stir and 6 or 8 herd dogs angrily barked at the bearish Shih Tzu. My daughters stopped at the noise, put down their bubbles, and eyed the scuffle – they are fascinated with puppies. Watching the girls watch the dogs, I smiled as my youngest reached out her chubby little hand and patted the small of my oldest’s back to give comfort. In return, my oldest put her arm around her sister and hugged. There they stood, wrapped together, virtuosos enjoying a morning performance. No one has taught me more about humility than my girls; especially when I see their love, and especially when I hurt it.

The births of the girls were religious experiences. Amongst the sterile hospital room and the blood and the hustle, when my first child arrived I was ushered anew into the world with her. A page was turned and in its place was a chapter that was not there before. My second daughter’s birth carried with it a surprising contentment; she brought with her the concreteness of family. We became whole.

My wife and I love them both dearly, and we sacrifice everything for our family: ambition, sleep, health, money. Yet there are days when all that we give is not enough and our reserves run dry. On those days I loose my cool, usually when the girls are screaming, whining or fighting, and snap and yell, drag them to timeout, and walk out of the room boiling. 15 minutes later, when composure returns, I feel horrible; their terrified innocence is heartbreaking. 

When I yell at my girls I scare them, I injure, and sometimes I injure others too. This weekend, exhausted and stupid, I lost my cool with my mom and my wife. Maybe it was the 4am discussion with my oldest daughter or the 530am alarm clock that is my youngest, but I lashed both mom and wife with the most hurtful of weapons: words.

Was I wrong? Completely. I did not even have the weak self-assurance of being right. I was wrong and hurtful and humbled in the worst way; the wrong kind of humbled. This week is about Humility, and one day I hope to stumble upon the secret of pure humility, with its graciousness and calm and understanding. The humility that is with us at the beginning, avoiding a fight, not the humility that is with us at the end after we have been humbled by guilt, sadness and tempers. 

This weekend I apologized to everyone but had the hardest time with that other great virtue, forgiveness; forgiving myself proved impossible. As for my girls, they’re both playing, wrapped in my shirt, giggling that the shirt is as long as a dress, and singing “have another beer in Mexico.” Today they both humbled me and forgiven me in the span of seconds; there is still much to learn from them.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 1, Q3

Temperanceeat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

Personal notes:

  • Limit alcohol;
  • Reduce sugar;
  • Improve meal intake

Hello old friend, your timing is impeccable. After a summer lubricated by boat drinks, beer and BBQ, Temperance could not arrive soon enough. My waistline welcomes you.

Chastity Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 12, Q2

Chastity: “rarely use venery but for health or offspring. Never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

Personal notes:

  • This week is a decade too late;
  • It’s the most difficult week to write about publicly;
  • Focus on “health” and/or “offspring,” depending on what the boss says.

We went on vacation with family last week and, in true family vacation fashion, space was at a premium. Rooms overflowed with bodies big and small, wine bottles battled chocolate doughnuts for counter space, and 6 cousins watched TV in a gaggle of arms, legs and feet across a brown couch built for 3. The week was crowded, fantastic, and inevitably chaste.

Sleeping four to a room quickly crowds out intimacy, no surprise, but no matter. Each night our bedroom stirred with children flipping in their beds. Their soft breathing, their proximity, and their tiny shuffles were all a comfort; a comfort transcending the loud, sweaty, and inebriated vacations of old.

Life is a far cry from past spring breaks where wild Friday night romps rolled into bleary Saturday afternoons. Sex is not as often now, we’re most excited about sleep, but sex is more intimate, sober, and healthy. That’s not to say this week is unimportant, certainly not; in fact, our vacation hammers home how important this week is.

This week is not about being chaste, but being faithful. There is considerable cost to sex and there is much to lose: family, happiness, love. The price is too high. “Rarely use venery but for health or offspring” seems a bargain in comparison.

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Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 13, Q2

Humility: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates

Personal notes:

  • Think about others;
  • Think about where we are;
  • Find happiness here.

Congratulations! This is our half way point; it’s amazing how quickly it goes. After 6 months, we return to Humility – the keystone virtue. This week, think about Humility: read about it, explore it, practice it; there is value here.