My Nostalgic 1980s Summer

Nostalgic 1980s Summer
Eric L Walker, 11 years old.

Summer would hit, which would not affect my parent’s life whatsoever. They continued to do what they did. Usually, they went to work. They didn’t supervise us. We had nothing except our bikes and baseball gloves. We had a small assortment of Army men, a Tonka truck, a Luke Skywalker action figure, and a magnifying glass.

We had enough money in nickels, dimes, and quarters to get the cheapest thing from the ice cream truck. We always took a “time-out” for the ice cream truck. A Snickers was .35 cents. We drank from the hose. On the hottest days, we’d screw on the sprinkler to jump through eight streams of cold water. Always barefoot. Every day was an adventure because we had our bikes and could push the furthest boundaries of our neighborhood.

We had about 8-10 hours a day to meet strangers. We met new people all the time. We’d stumble upon some older kids smoking cigarettes in the woods that cussed us away. We discovered that one kid in the adjacent neighborhood across “the busy street” had a slip-and-slide. We could always find a pickup baseball game in an extra lot, a cul de sac, or at the school playground. We made new friends and necessary connections on our own. We didn’t have “play dates.” We knocked on our friend’s front door and asked, “Can Jonny play?” It was Yes or No. Sometimes, a fistfight settled things.

When we came home, the milk was cold, so we gulped it down. Our parents knew nothing of what we’d been up to. It’s not that they didn’t care, but it wasn’t a concern. We’d just been “playing,” and that took on a life of its own.

Portulaca

Amor de un rato
Amor de un rato

This is the Portulaca flower, also called Purslane. It blooms brightly in the sun and retreats its bloom as the day fades. Most of my colleagues at the greenhouse are Spanish-speaking. Gloria explains that Portulaca means “amor de un rato,” meaning “love of a moment.” These are the “ah hahs” that greenhouse life offers me. So I contemplate how Portulaca’s beauty is fleeting and compare that to life’s collection of small moments. One moment. All the time. “Amor de un rato” reminds me to cherish transient experiences, whether in nature or life, because they add richness and depth to my existence. For this reason, I love Portulaca. It reminds me that the briefest moments can be the most beautiful.

Tipping fatigue

Paying $3.38 for a simple black coffee already feels steep. Then, I’m nudged to donate spare change to charity, followed by a prompt for a 15%, 20%, or 25% tip. Here’s the thing…

I’m not against tipping. What’s tiring is the constant barrage of requests for tips or charitable donations for the most basic transactions. Now, if I order my favorite mocha with an extra shot, extra hot, breve, no foam, no whip, and it’s made with evident care and skill, that’s a different story. That’s when I tip. The craft and love earn my gratitude, not the routine. My tipping rule is simple: to earn a tip, delight me. Anything less, especially for a standard cup of coffee, doesn’t make the cut.

Doing better is not feeling fine

Kids sometimes act like they’re okay when, the day or two before, they were outwardly really struggling with something. Then they act better about it a day or two later, but this doesn’t mean they’re fully over the issue. When we, as parents, see them acting better, let’s not think they must be *feeling* better. So then, of course, we ask them about said issue, and they might continue to hold up the artifice with a prickly response, “No, Dad! not doing better at all.” In these instances, I let them keep their strong front without asking too many more questions. I believe that our kids value it when we give them space like this. They know we’re watching, but we don’t always have to over-communicate about it. Me, personally, I know that I like to keep a chip on my shoulder as I work through problems and issues even if, sometimes especially if, progress is being made.

Walking

If not resolutions, what then? I prefer making PLANS. And I’ll tell you one thing I plan to do MORE of in 2024… It’s WALKING. Yep. It might sound trivial, but I’m not kidding.

“He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.”
-Henry David Thoreau

More “sauntering” and less sitting.

No one has made a more compelling case for the physical and mental value of walking than Thoreau. In his 1861 treatise “Walking,” Thoreau reminds us of how that primal act of mobility “connects us with our essential wildness,” which today can serve as a refreshing antidote to our staring at small rectangular screens all day.

You can download “Walking” by Thoreau for free on Kindle

Meaning, money and love

My children get good grades, and good grades are fine. After all, school is their primary responsibility. It’s a necessary concern. Yet, how can I not see failure when my kid’s only care is, “Will this be on the test?” and “I just want to get this assignment done,” which I believe is a signal of failure. Public schools prioritize testable knowledge over genuine learning and curiosity, failing to deliver the proper understanding and creativity needed for real-world problem-solving. This is a general critique. I know and praise the teachers who grow, adapt, and learn alongside their students. So, as a solution, I think if we put that energy into building up self-esteem, especially in our social media-driven world – and let’s say “self-esteem” is finding a balance between confidence and accountability – our young people would be in a better position for “success.” And let’s say “success” is an awareness of navigating a lifetime of meaning, money, and love.

Overthinking

It doesn’t matter what it is: Parenting, business, career, fitness, etc. You name it.

You’re not understanding the sheer volume of mistakes and failures that are required in order to grow. You put so much pressure on yourself to make the “right” decisions that you end up doing nothing, which you think is safer than making the wrong decision. Wrong. Overthinking without taking action adds up to nothing. It’s far better to view mistakes and failures as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of something to avoid at all costs. And… you’ll reach your goals sooner.

Parental Legacy

I’m considering Parents who invest in their children’s futures. The Parents that make (have made) sacrifices without expecting anything in return. Parents that have relocated across the globe to secure a better life. Parents that work tirelessly to ensure their children’s well-being. These efforts often go unnoticed by the younger generation. Yet, this lack of recognition is not a concern for Parents. Because their primary goal is not to be appreciated, it’s to provide unconditional love and support.

The legacy of Parental sacrifice is a long-standing tradition. Previous generations endured hardships I cannot fathom, like enduring hunger or working relentless factory jobs, so their children could thrive. But what I do understand is that this cycle of giving isn’t about repayment, it’s about perpetuating love and care. The expectation isn’t for children to reciprocate to their Parents but to extend the same selfless love to their offspring – someday. In this way, the cycle of nurturing and sacrifice continues, each generation paying it forward, ensuring an enduring legacy of familial love and support. That’s something I believe in and aspire to.

Lessons from Jack LaLanne – Fitness Icon and Marketing Maverick

Jack LaLanne. Picture credit to New York Times.

Jack LaLanne revolutionized the fitness industry, skillfully used media for marketing, built a lasting business legacy, and lived to age 96. I love fitness, am involved with marketing, and want to live to age 100. And recently, I dug out my “Jack LaLanne Juicer” and did some homework on the guy. So for all of those reasons, I want to share with you why his life teaches us some powerful lessons:

1. Believe in Yourself: At 15, Jack was just a skinny kid. But he decided to change himself, which was as important as the action.

2. Be Innovative: Jack didn’t just open a gym. He invented the health club concept with features like a juice bar. He did this 85 years ago, way ahead of his time.

3. Start Small and Grow: Jack began with little. No big funding, no huge media partners. Just his vision and hard work.

4. Use Media Smartly: Jack understood the power of TV. He used it to gain trust and teach others, mostly for free. He knew how valuable it was to get people’s attention.

5. Work Outside the Spotlight: Jack never had a prime-time TV show, but he still managed to change culture from the edges.

6. Control Your Work: Jack owned the rights to his 3,000 TV shows. He was in charge of his content.

7. Stay True to Your Brand: Jack didn’t change his brand to seem new or fresh. He stood for something special and never wavered from it.

8. Live Your Message: Jack lived by his health rules, even when no one was looking. He famously said, “I can’t die. It would ruin my image.” He was the real deal, through and through.

Jack’s life is a lesson in authenticity, innovation, and dedication.

13 ways to start if you’re stuck between 0 and 1

If you’re stuck between zero and one, feeling like you still need to start, this is for you.

1). Don’t forget that past slip-ups don’t define your future. Those failures are like little fires that warm you up for the journey ahead.

2). If your determination is strong, keep it in check until you need it. But if it’s shaky, treat it gently. Don’t let it falsely puff up with ego.

3). No more mindlessly scrolling through social media like it’s an addictive drug – keep that app (or browser) closed.

4). If you ever feel like you’re not good enough because you’re too this or that, shake it off like a dog shaking off the cold water.

5). When that burst of energy hits, urging you to go for that cheese sandwich (your goals), remember, your cheese monster craves the cheese of accomplishment, not just any cheddar. Make it matter!

6). Even when they let you down, thinking about those you care about teaches you to love, forgive, and see the best in them. Could you extend that kindness to yourself?

7). Big shoutout to the parts of yourself that you don’t quite get, like creativity and courage. Your courage is like your runaway dog – you must chase it down and hold on tight.

8). You’re not the sole author of your victories or victims of your defeats. Act like you’ve been there before, either way.

9). Criticism might sting. Use the block button for the truly evil stuff. And when you chew on critique, separate the good advice from the bitter herbs.

10). Perfectionism might look good in shiny shoes, but he’s a jerk. There is no need to sharpen your pencils endlessly. Even the dull ones leave a mark. Start this journey and savor every moment.

11). A genuine smile disarms even the harshest critics. Impacting a few deeply is worth more than a negligible impact on many.

13). Your work isn’t a stepping stone. Find fascination in its unique shape. The idea that brought you here is good. When it’s time to put it to rest, accept that the next won’t be the same, but it’ll be something.

Keep going, keep growing!