4 years, 6 months, 27 days. Nothing worth having comes easy.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Heed the words of the wise.  In life, you either work hard and try your best to achieve your dreams, or suffer the pangs of regret later in life for having never tried.

Look around you.  How many do you see falling into the latter camp?  Look at your cousins, aunts, and uncles on your mom’s side?  They are roofers, fast food workers, warehouse laborers, sanitation department workers, etc.  Those are honest jobs and there is nothing wrong with those types of jobs in and of themselves.  But, the question is what else could they have made of themselves?

Life isn’t that difficult, really.  The rules are fairly simple:

  1. Do your best.
  2. Be true to yourself.
  3. Treat others as they want to be treated.

You will find that many people in life are “minimally exceptional” not because of their abilities (or lack thereof), but because of their lack of efforts.  They’d rather complain and blame others than strive to improve their lots in life.  The good ones who do will rise to the top while the rest will gravitate towards their rightful places in life.  The good ones will leave healthier legacies for their children while the minimally exceptional will leave their children the minimally exceptional.  I introduced you to Mr. Ted, one of the best in our field.  Who has your mom and her siblings introduced you to?

Where will you be in 10 years, boys?  I know what your abilities are, but will you put in the effort to get yourselves there?  I pray you will.  That is how I taught you to be.  Don’t be like your mom, who would rather veg out in front of the TV instead of taking you to the park, the library, the beach, or other places where you can exercise your bodies and your minds.  Strive to be the best you.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 6 months, and 26 days. 1668 days. 40,032 hours. 2,401,920 minutes. 144,115,200 seconds. Too long!

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I had a dream about you last night, Shosh.  I was helping you with your homework assignment on sharks.  We caught a baby shark, and I tried to put a nose ring on it to keep it on a leash.  Note to self: sharks hate nose rings.

Remember how we used to draw pictures of dinosaurs, construction equipment and starfish?  You used to have an immense curiosity about those things and we constantly read about or talked about them.  Once, when you were about 3 1/2, we were at the aquarium and looking at the tide pool/touch pool where a number of different starfish was on display.  You pointed to a starfish and said that it was a leather starfish (the second one above).  The aquarium guide “corrected” you and said it was an ocre starfish (the top one above).  You disagreed and tried to explain to her that it was a leather star.  She wouldn’t have it.  I smiled and told her that she should listen to you.  She decided to go off and consult her books.  Shortly thereafter, she returned to apologize and confirmed that it was a leather star.

Three lessons reveal themselves here.  First, don’t believe in “experts” just because they are experts.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Sometimes, “experts” are too smart for their own good and can be blinded by their own “expertise” and blinded to the data confronting them.  Second, always pursue what you love.  Be curious. Be intensely curious.  Life is an unlimited buffer if you nurture that curiosity.  Third, trust yourself.  Be willing to entertain other ideas, even opposing ideas, but never jettison your thoughts because it’s expedient, because an “expert” said you’re wrong, or because others disagree with you.  If you are right, you stay right even if everyone disagrees.  If you are wrong, you remain wrong even if everyone agrees.  Don’t worry everyone else.  Trust in yourself.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 6 months, and 20 days. Avoid fake stuff (including processed foods and false friends).

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Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

Probiotics are naturally found in your body. You can also find them in some foods and supplements.

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics#

 

[I]t is the microbial content that has got health types excited – because bacteria are big news these days. More specifically, the 39tn microbes, weighing about as much as your brain, that live happily in your gut, the makeup of which, some evidence suggests, may have a significant effect on everything from your long-term weight to your current mood.

Unfortunately, the typical modern western menu does little to nourish this “huge alien ecosystem”, as Dr Michael Moseley puts it, under siege as it is from antibiotics and a deluge of cleaning products designed to sterilise every part of our existence. However much we may like junk food and chemical additives, our gut bacteria does not – and our increasingly narrow diet has led to a similar lack of diversity in our gut. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and the author of The Diet Myth, explains that if we “wipe out our gut microbes, then our immune system goes into autodrive and starts attacking us with autoimmune diseases and allergies”.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/26/does-kimchi-and-other-fermented-foods-give-you-more-fizz

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Remember the meals we used to have as a family?  I loved that you guys helped out in the kitchen — even when young — and made meal time a family affair.  That is what life is all about … time spent with loved ones, even tie spent doing the most mundane of activities.

These are the stuff good memories are made of.  No one remembers with fondness the hours in front of the TV eating microwaved food.  But, that was not your childhood with me.  We cooked together, ate together, and shared many good laughs.  I miss that. I miss it everyday.

Your mother was a lazy cook and was more prone to instant noodles than real meals made of fresh vegetables and proteins.  (For most of my marriage to your mother, either I or your grandmother cooked our meals — yes, I cooked more family meals than your mother despite my long work hours as a lawyer and consultant.)  Thus, because I’m no longer there, I want you to take charge of your eating habits and eat healthy.

Eat natural cheese, miso, pickled olives, yogurt, kimchi, and other food items that are rich in probiotics.  Avoid chips, instant noodles, canned food, frozen food, and other processed food items.  Too often, instant food are full of preservatives and chemicals — added to make the food last longer in the freezer, in the can, in the plastic bag, etc.  Eat fruits, vegetables, and other natural food.

Remember our many trips to the farmers’ markets?  Do that.  Drag your mom along if necessary.  Go outside.

Spend time outdoors.  I know your mom used to plant you guys in front of the TV and bought hand-held video games to babysit you.  But, now that you’re older, take charge of your lives.  Go outside.  Go with each other and watch out for one another.  Remember how we used to spend time at the neighborhood park almost every day with our friends and neighbors?  Do that.  It’s not only good for your health, but is also the stuff good memories are made of.

Finally, remember, all things will come to pass.  Even the successful and the great have no assurances that their futures will hold the same.  Let F. Lee Bailey’s story serve as a reminder of that. http://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a10284185/f-lee-bailey-oj-lawyer-interview/.  Let the fates of the former president of South Korea, Mrs. Park, the former prime minister of Pakistan, Mr. Sharif — both forced from high office for corruption — serve to remind you that money and power are not the end all.  See, e.g., http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/17/asia/south-korea-park-indictment/index.html; https://www.ksl.com/?nid=235&sid=45193281&title=disqualified-by-court-pakistans-prime-minister-steps-down.

Wealth, power, fame, etc., are for naught if you are not true to who you are.  Be true to yourselves.  Be you, but be the best you. Avoid false friends, and those who don’t tell you the truth, but only tell you what they think you want to hear.  Beware of such “friends” for they are anything but that.

Until we reunite, I send you all of my love, always

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 5 months, and 15 days. Be bored. Let your mind wander. It helps you grow.

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The academic, who has previously studied the impact of television and videos on children’s writing, said: “When children have nothing to do now, they immediately switch on the TV, the computer, the phone or some kind of screen. The time they spend on these things has increased.

“But children need to have stand-and-stare time, time imagining and pursuing their own thinking processes or assimilating their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

It is this sort of thing that stimulates the imagination, she said, while the screen “tends to short circuit that process and the development of creative capacity”.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21895704

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It’s summer time.  Remember our last summer together when we visited as many waterways as we could?  We caught fish and crawdads at Scotts Mills, remember?  The water was cold, wasn’t it?  But, it was so much fun!  Even Little V waded into the water.

That’s what summers are for … exploration, trials, and growth.  Reduce your screen time, boys.  Remember, spend no more than 2 hours of screen time TOTAL!  That includes television as well as video games, computer, etc.

Why?  It’s simple: your brain needs down time to process information about the world around you, about you, etc.  Years ago, during a psychological experiment, researchers examined the brain activities of people under MRI as they were told to focus on certain stimuli.  However, during the brief period in between the experiments, when there was a lull, the entire brain lit up.  That was unexpected.  What where learning now is that there might be organized into two separate systems: one system (extrinsic) that operates when we’re actively focusing on a task, and an intrinsic or default system that operates when we are at rest.  Scientists now believe it is when our brain is at rest (during down time, when our mind wander) that the brain works on the self, on defining who we are, etc.

Dr Josipovic’s research is part of a larger effort better to understand what scientists have dubbed the default network in the brain.

He says the brain appears to be organised into two networks: the extrinsic network and the intrinsic, or default, network.

Image caption Dr Josipovic has scanned the brains of more than 20 experienced meditators during the study

The extrinsic portion of the brain becomes active when individuals are focused on external tasks, like playing sports or pouring a cup of coffee.

The default network churns when people reflect on matters that involve themselves and their emotions.

But the networks are rarely fully active at the same time. And like a seesaw, when one rises, the other one dips down.

This neural set-up allows individuals to concentrate more easily on one task at any given time, without being consumed by distractions like daydreaming.

“What we’re trying to do is basically track the changes in the networks in the brain as the person shifts between these modes of attention,” Dr Josipovic says.

Dr Josipovic has found that some Buddhist monks and other experienced meditators have the ability to keep both neural networks active at the same time during meditation – that is to say, they have found a way to lift both sides of the seesaw simultaneously.

And Dr Josipovic believes this ability to churn both the internal and external networks in the brain concurrently may lead the monks to experience a harmonious feeling of oneness with their environment.

Self-reflection

Scientists previously believed the self-reflective, default network in the brain was simply one that was active when a person had no task on which to focus their attention.

But researchers have found in the past decade that this section of the brain swells with activity when the subject thinks about the self.

The default network came to light in 2001 when Dr Marcus Raichle, a neurologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in the US state of Missouri, began scanning the brains of individuals who were not given tasks to perform.

The patients quickly became bored, and Dr Raichle noticed a second network, that had previously gone unnoticed, danced with activity. But the researcher was unclear why this activity was occurring.

Other scientists were quick to suggest that Dr Raichle’s subjects could have actually been thinking about themselves.

Soon other neuroscientists, who conducted studies using movies to stimulate the brain, found that when there was a lull of activity in a film, the default network began to flash – signalling that research subjects may have begun to think about themselves out of boredom.

But Dr Raichle says the default network is important for more than just thinking about what one had for dinner last night.

“Researchers have wrestled with this idea of how we know we are who we are. The default mode network says something about how that might have come to be,” he says.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646

Be bored, boys.  Let your mind wander and your imagination roam.  Don’t buy into the false gods and false promises of electronics.  The answers to life’s major questions do not lie there.  They lie out in the world.  Go explore.  Live.  Use your imagination.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Embrace your heritage and your bicultural background.

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It has long been known that there are many advantages to being bicultural such as having a greater number of social networks, being aware of cultural differences, taking part in the life of two or more cultures, being an intermediary between cultures, and so on. Recent research shows that biculturals are also characterized by greater creativity and professional success.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual/201304/advantages-being-bicultural

 

One advantage of being bicultural may be the ability to take the “best” of both cultures. A 2003 study showed that pregnant Mexican-American women who were more “selectively bicultural” – adopting specific health-related beliefs and practices from both cultures – were less stressed overall.

If that’s not enough, here’s one more benefit of being bicultural: creativity. Research published in 2012 found that people who identified with both their “home” and their “host” cultures scored higher on several measures of creativity compared with those who were were either assimilated to or separated from their host culture.

https://blog.allpsych.com/the-benefits-of-biculturalism/

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

It always make me sad when I see people deny who they are.  I cannot help but think they must carry such shame of themselves that it forces them to deny their own heritage.  Your bi-racial cousins, for example, appear to have deleted from their social media almost all traces of their dad’s side of the family.  Unfortunately, one but has to look at them and know they are bi-racial.

Don’t be like that.  Embrace who you are.  You come from good stock and are  well-raised.  Our culture is thousands of years old, and your forebears had held high posts within the country.  We now have also gained a measure of success in America.

You are the product of all that history and culture.  You now have the benefit of picking the best from each culture and being better than each.  Further, as the above graphics demonstrate, being bilingual gives you concrete benefits that give you advantages today and in the days ahead.

Embrace your special gifts.  Don’t ever deny who you are.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years and 3 months. Challenge yourselves and grow.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I hope you are well today.  Recently, a neighborhood kid encountered some personal challenges, and his parents responded by clearing his plates of all challenging matters and telling him it is not necessary for him to challenge himself regarding anything.  That struck me as a less than ideal strategy.

Today, another neighborhood kid shared with me his excitement at achieving something I’d shown him how to do earlier.  This struck me as being the natural order of things.  See, e.g., https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/nurturing-resilience/201202/summer-camps-make-kids-resilient.

Kids need challenges in order to learn and grow.  Denying them challenges is to deny them opportunities to grow.

Life is but a series of challenges.  If you love your children, prepare them for life.  Don’t hobble them by removing the challenges and making their lives easy.

“Per aspera ad astra, Papa,’ I whispered. Through hardship to the stars.”
― Ruta Sepetys

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
― Seneca

“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
― Helen Keller

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo Coelho

“If we are not allowed to deal with small problems, we will be destroyed by slightly larger ones. When we come to understand this, we live our lives not avoiding problems, but welcoming them as challenges that will strengthen us so that we can be victorious in the future.”
― Jim Stovall

Embrace challenge, my sons.  Be persistent.  Live fully.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

3 years, 10 months, and 21 days. Kent M. Keith’s Paradoxical Commandments

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, I am sharing wise words from Dr. Keith about how to give your life meaning.  Life is about finding what works for you, being your personal best, and making the world a better place.  Don’t worry about others. The small-minded detractors and nay-sayers will always be there.  Ignore them.  The people who matter, the high-minded humanists, will notice, even if they say nothing.  But, that too doesn’t matter.  Live well, and you’ll know you did right: that should be enough.

Beauty comes from within.  Feed your soul with goodness.

Without further ado, I give you Dr. Keith:

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

 

Over the past forty-five years, Dr. Keith has published articles for newspapers, magazines, and professional journals; poetry; conference papers; and ten books.

Dr. Keith’s first book was a student leadership manual, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council, published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968, when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard. This is the book for which he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments. A revised edition was published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) in 1972. Approximately 30,000 copies of the two editions of the booklet were sold or distributed throughout the United States between 1968 and the mid-seventies.

In 1969, Dr. Keith wrote another student leadership booklet, The Silent Majority: The Problem of Apathy and the Student Council, which was used in workshops and then published by NASSP in 1972. This book urged students to reach out to their fellow students and link up with their interests and needs, so that the student council can fulfill its noblest purpose: people helping people. New editions of The Silent Revolution and The Silent Majority were published by Terrace Press in 2003 and 2004.

In 1997, Dr. Keith learned that Mother Teresa had put a copy of the Paradoxical Commandments up on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta. This inspired him to write his national bestselling book, Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments, which was published in 2002. The book is an introduction to the Paradoxical Commandments, including some of the events in Dr. Keith’s early life that shaped the creation of the commandments in the sixties. The book has been translated and published in 17 different languages. His narration of Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments won a national “Audie” award from the Audio Publishers Association as the best audiobook of 2003 in the personal development/motivational category.

Dr. Keith continued to explore the Paradoxical Commandments in three subsequent books. Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness in a Crazy World was published in 2003, Jesus Did It Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments for Christians was published in 2005, and Have Faith Anyway: The Vision of Habakkuk for Our Times was published in 2008.

In 2003, Dr. Keith created “The Universal Moral Code” while writing about morality and ethics. The code is featured in his book Morality and Morale: A Business Tale, published in 2012. Dr. Keith believes that living a moral life is energizing and meaningful, as well as being the key to long-term personal and organizational success.

For the past twenty-five years, Dr. Keith has been a passionate advocate for servant leadership. His publications on the topic include The Case for Servant Leadership (2008/revised in 2012); Servant Leadership in the Boardroom: Fulfilling the Public Trust (2011); Questions and Answers about Servant Leadership (2012); The Ethical Advantage of Servant Leadership: Guiding Principles for Organizational Success (2013); and The Christian Leader at Work: Serving by Leading (2015).