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Why I Celebrate Lent

no_tvStarting tomorrow, my family and I will be giving up television almost entirely until Easter. I’ll also be severely restricting my personal smartphone and social media time.

This is the seventh year in a row I’ve given up my TV habit in celebration of Lent. I’m not Catholic, and I’ll be the first to admit that my efforts don’t match what is traditionally required. But I respect that tradition, and I’ve adopted and adapted some aspects of it for my own life.

Here’s why I’m celebrating Lent:

Television has too strong a hold on my life, normally.

Here’s the thing: I like having TV in my life. I don’t intend to give it up entirely, because it can be good, cheap entertainment. That’s why a relatively short-term restriction works so well for me, because I’m able to live a life without TV without worrying that I’ll never get it again.

I believe in fasting.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’m accustomed to the principle of fasting.

Traditionally, Mormons fast monthly by going without food or drink for 24 hours and donating to the needy. Fasting is an opportunity to strengthen one’s willpower, practice self-control, and reconnect with God.

Food isn’t the only thing we can fast from. I choose to fast from TV, movies, and video games because this represents a sacrifice for me, but it’s also not a permanent change.

You can do “anything” for six weeks.

Said another way: I believe in doing hard things for limited time frames.

Focusing on one challenge for a short time allows you to make real progress and do something meaningful, without permanently damaging the other aspects of your life.

I get to live a different life.

From now until Easter, I’ll be in a world with more books, fewer distractions, more time to meditate, and less influence from pop culture. This is a good thing.

I’ll detox from the negative influences of the media, and when I start watching again, I’ll have a better sense of context and control over my viewing habits.

Celebrating Lent prepares me for Easter.

As a Christian, this is huge for me. Easter is a wonderful time to celebrate the life, mission, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The buildup to Christmas gets me in the spirit and right frame of mind with plenty of time to spare, but, in the past, Easter has come and gone almost before I realized. Once I started celebrating my version of Lent, that changed. Every urge to watch TV becomes a reminder to look forward to Easter and think about what it means.

Want to try it?

I recommend trying this technique in your own life. This year, Lent starts on Wednesday, February 18th, but you can apply this idea any time.

Simply pick a fast (something to give up), a timeframe (such as between now and Easter), and (bonus:) a reason (such as preparing for Easter).

For choosing your fast, here are some principles that may be helpful to you:

  • Choose something that involves a sacrifice. It doesn’t have to be television and movies, but it should be something that you ordinarily enjoy.
  • Choose something that makes you better. You shouldn’t try to give up drinking water or paying rent, for example. Instead, focus on sacrifices that improve your schedule, health, well-being or spirituality.
  • Choose something that comes up frequently. Ideally, your sacrifice should be part of your daily (or at least weekly) life. The regular reminders make the effort meaningful.
  • Choose something do-able. While it should be a challenge, I wouldn’t recommend going overboard and changing every aspect of your life at once. Instead, pick one or two things to focus on, and don’t get overwhelmed.

This yearly effort has made my life better. I hope you consider trying something similar.

If you try it, let me know. I’m sure it will improve your life, too.

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Note: This is adapted from an article I originally published in 2012.

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Fatherhood

Fatherhood is a learning experience.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned in the past year and a half:

1) I’m important.
To him, I matter. A ton.

2) Even little kids notice when you’re not there.
If I’m away, he misses me. (And I miss him.)

3) Words are important.
If you have a toddler, teach that kid to sign! I’ve discovered that he definitely has feelings, ideas, and needs that are important to him. Giving him ways to express those thoughts has helped us all.

4) Routine is good. (For kids and for adults)
I’ve learned (and relearned) a lot that applies to me by watching how things affect him. It’s easier to notice the impact that things have on little kids because their little systems react quicker and they get fussy, but grownups are impacted by the same things–we just mask it better. For example, he goes to sleep better with a nighttime routine. Turns out… so do I.

5) Exercise helps you sleep better.
We started making a point of wearing him out to ensure a good night’s sleep. Now I make sure to also wear me out physically as well as mentally.

6) Reading is better than watching television.

reading

It’s so much easier to watch a show, but so much more fulfilling (and just as interesting, usually) to read a good book.

7) Things that seem important, might not be.
When you’re little, everything seems big. I just need to remember that, taken in context, many of my problems are just as little as his sometimes seem to me.

8) Walking makes you less grumpy.
A well-timed walk outside can counteract the post-nap grouchies or lower Dad’s blood pressure after a stressful meeting.

9) A smile, wave, or kiss can make someone’s day.

smiles

At least one from him can make mine.

10) Smartphones are addictive, so limit your time with them.
Today’s toddlers will grow up in a world where instant answers are a given and video chatting around the world is commonplace. But the ability to resist that siren call and focus attention without tech will be even more valuable as a result. Limiting his smartphone use has made me pay attention to mine.

11) A friendship can easily start with just a genuine smile.
One thing he can do so much better than me is make friends. Turns out it’s often not that hard if you show that you’re genuinely happy to spend time with a new person.

12) My wife is a superhero.
She ‘s literally leaped into action at a split second’s notice to save him from falling into a pool. But she’s also accomplished many other superhuman feats of endurance, patience, bravery, and intellect.

13) Everything you do is setting an example of how to behave.
This is good and bad, because whatever I do, I’ll probably see it again.

14) Your kids will trust you. A lot. Be worthy of it.

trust

My son likes to climb things, then try to jump to one of us. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tend to wait until we’re in the ideal place to catch him. He just assumes that if we see him and he jumps, we’ll be there. We’re working on that. Still: he’s going to trust me to be there and I’m going to do everything I can to live up to that.

15) God really does care, even if he doesn’t step in.
I allow bad things happen to my son all the time. I let him try things that he can’t do. I take away things he wants. I usually don’t pick him up when he falls. But it’s not because I don’t love him so very much. It’s because I’m looking at things from a much different perspective than he is and I’m focused on his ability to develop for the long term. I think maybe God looks at us in a similar way.

16) The world is magic. And we’re all wizards.

magicWith the touch of finger we can create light, remove walls (open a garage door), summon appearances from far-away friends, play symphonies, or open portals to see stories of strange worlds. It’s awesome!

17) If something’s important, we do it even when we’re tired.
Nighttime prayers are part of his bedtime routine. First we read, then we pray, then we sing, then he sleeps. Shortly after we started our routine, he fell asleep during reading. So I closed the book, planning to take him straight to bed. We can skip prayers tonight, I figured. Nope. Dead-tired little toddler folded his arms as soon as the book closed. Even though he was almost asleep, he was going to make time for prayers.

18) Constant growth is possible (but you have to put in the time).
It’s amazing to watch someone learn to walk and talk. Watching the process, I was also impressed by the constant work and repetition he put in on reaching each new step. Babies learn and grow so fast because they spend a ton of time practicing. Adults can experience a lot of growth too if we do the same.

What important things have you learned from watching children?

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How to Contact Me

Contact email and cell phone for David Garcia

See above for my cell number and email address, or you can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google PlusTwitter, and Quora.

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A Tribute to Five Wonderful Mothers

Note: This post is written with some specific, special women in my life in mind. I hope, however, that it can also help you recognize the contributions of similar women in yours.

To the Mother of me

No one in this world has done so much for me as my dear Mother. She risked her own life to give me mine. She gave up the kind of life she lived before to devote most of her waking hours (and many that would have been sleeping) to her new life as Mother.

My Mom loves and embraces her role as a parent (although I know we give her plenty of reasons to worry and stress). Her commitment to raising good children in shown in the literally countless hours spent teaching us, caring for us, and looking after our wants and needs.

My Mother is a role model to her family. She is a strong example of strength, hard work, patience, selflessness, sacrifice, intelligence, courage, industry, goodness, and love. She established a legacy of faith for her children. I still remember and draw strength from her voice of belief reading us words of scripture before bed.

I could not have asked for a better, more perfect Mother.

I love and thank you, Mom!

To the Mother of my Mother

My Mother is who she is in part because of the efforts and example of her Mother.

The Mother of my Mother has now spent the majority of her life fully living the sacred role of Mother. Her life is turned outward, to the service of those she loves. She’s restless and uncomfortable until she’s made sure you’re comfortable (and fed).

The Mother of my Mother has shaped the traditions of her family to service, truth, and good. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all love her deeply and all know that she loves them. Truly, generations call her blessed. Everyone who knows her loves her.

I love you, Granny!

To the Mother of the children of others

With or without children of her own, this Mother has expanded her love beyond her own descendants.

This is the wonderful woman who consistently cares for a child while his Mother is away. Who invites a troubled kid into her home and provides a place of shelter. Who comforts a crying baby for an overwhelmed parent. Who serves children and youth with true care and compassion. Who treats us like family, even though we technically are not.

This Mother might not receive a card today for her service, but she deserves our thanks and respect. The world is better because she goes above and beyond.

Her reach and impact will forever bless the children she touches.

They love her!

To the Mother of future children

In a world that glorifies selfishness and diminishes the importance of parenthood, it makes me glad to watch a young woman embrace her future potential as a parent.

She knows that Mother is one of the greatest roles she can pursue, and she takes her preparation seriously. She practices love, care, consideration, and patience. She volunteers to assist children, parents, the infirm, and the elderly.

She values her education and strives to simultaneously prepare for both a career in the workforce and a career in Motherhood. She works hard to develop her capacity for hard work.

Her children will love and bless her!

To the Mother of my children

20130512-110649.jpg
Finally: I love, respect, admire, and adore the Mother of my children, my beloved wife.

Watching her has taught me so much.

While I was complaining about the air conditioning, she was having her internal organs reshuffled to make room for our baby. While I was watching the monitors and worrying, she was giving everything to bring our baby into the world. While I was washing bottles, she was tending to the every need and whimper of our tiny son. While I was rolling over in my sleep, still trying to process what that crying noise might be, she was already by his bedside, making things better. While I was concerned about how much she had to do with #1, she was ready to start on #2.

Every step of the way, she has been willing and able to meet the challenges.

Our son knows that she provides a place of safety. He knows that she’ll love and care for him no matter what. We’re all most comfortable when we’re with her.

I’m continually amazing by this wonderful woman I chose to marry. She is both brilliant and beautiful. It’s been an honor to see her grow through her commitment to Motherhood.

I love you so much, Emily!

In addition:

To the Mother of my Father: Though I didn’t get to know you in this life, I know you raised my father to be a great man. I love and thank you!

To the Mother of my Wife: You are “Mother of me” to my wife, “Mother of my Mother” to our children, and a “Mother to the children of others” to me. I love and thank you!

If you would like to share this with the Mothers in your life, click here.

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Coming soon on DavidJGarcia.com

Now that I’ve rebooted my blog and homepage, it’s time to start thinking about new content.

While I may eventually start other blogs on specific topics, this one is for a variety of things that interest me. If you return, you might read about:

  • Digital marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Technology
  • Business school and all related topics
  • Personal finance
  • Faith and uplifting ideas (usually on Sundays)
  • Productivity and personal development
  • Parenting and family life
  • Personal updates about my life and family
  • Any other random thing I find interesting

The plan is to keep things interesting by mixing it up, posting frequently, and incorporating interviews and videos.

If that sounds interesting to you, check back soon!

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