The waves were perfect on September 6th, 2011, courtesy of Hurricane Katia. Clean, coming in well spaced-out sets, barreling with lots of power. I was out with good friend, David Brown, who pulled out a pocket camera to capture this moment. The rainbow stayed there all evening, along with an early-rising moon, shrimp boats with lights-a-twinkling, and just a few other lucky surfers out.
Archive for category: Family and Friends
As almost any parent will attest, there are many moments in life when our children make us proud.
When they bring home straight A’s from school…
When they score that first goal, or achieve some other kind of athletic milestone…
When other adults remark how beautiful they are, or even better– how polite and well-behaved…
But there are some moments that are better than all of those, combined.
They are typically more subtle in nature and can rarely be anticipated. They are fleeting moments of revelation that provide us genuine clarity about who our children really are, and if we are so fortunate, perhaps also a little affirmation about the real jobs we’re doing as parents.
I enjoyed one of these moments just the other night.
Our family had huddled together in bed to watch “Soul Surfer“, the movie about Hawaiian surfer Bethany Hamilton who lost her arm at age 13, to a 14-foot Tiger Shark. Somehow, she not only lived to tell about it, but learned to surf again with one arm. It’s a great story about faith, determination and never giving up. I highly recommend it.
There’s a scene in the movie, when, after deciding to try and compete again and struggling bravely against rough currents with one arm during a surf contest, a frustrated and emotionally defeated Bethany heads to the parking lot post heat, ready to give up surfing for good.
As she sulks back to her parents car, two young fans, about 10 or 11 years old, approach her for an autograph.
Dejected, Bethany quips, “Here’s something better…” and proceeds to give both of her surfboards to the girls, who delight in their good fortune, and run away excitedly to show off their new souvenirs to their friends.
Eventually, Bethany makes up her mind that nothing is going to stop her from surfing again, training herself to duck dive with one arm, then returning to competition.
I won’t spoil the ending, but will say that both of my girls, ages 9 and 12, really loved the movie.
Later that evening, I was lying in bed with my (newly) 9-year-old, Kaelyn, putting her down for the night. The movie had clearly affected her in different ways and she seemed to want to talk about, and process it.
“Dad, do you really think she didn’t scream when that shark bit her?”
“Does she really surf that way in real life?”
“Can you teach me to duck dive?”
And then she said it. Just a sweet little comment, stated thoughtfully and solemnly…
“Dad, you know when those girls took her surfboards?”
“I wouldn’t have done that…”
“What do you mean you wouldn’t have done that, Kaelyn? You wouldn’t have done what?”
“I wouldn’t have taken her surfboard…”
“Really? Why not? What would you have done?”
“I don’t know. I just wouldn’t have accepted it. She was feeling sad, you know?…”
“Yes, I know.”
And of course, Kaelyn didn’t have to explain it to me further. I knew exactly why she wouldn’t take it. It’s called “empathy” and “compassion” (coincidentally, an important secondary theme in Soul Surfer) and it so warmed me to see it in her that instant, on display in such a simple, honest way. I can’t think of many times as a parent when I’ve felt so proud of her.
To me, and I would guess for many parents, it’s little moments like these that really leave their impressions.
So much more significant than than winning a trophy, ribbon or a medal.
So much more substantive than good looks or even bringing home a good grade.
So much more profound and revealing….
About who our children really are.
About the efforts we’re putting into raising them.
They are little moments that whisper and affirm… “You’re getting this right.”
A mesmerizing shot of the beautiful, virgin white snow that arrived in Hartsville, South Carolina on Monday, January 10th. The fresh and somewhat rare 6″ of powdery goodness was part of large storm system blanketing parts of the northeast and south.
My mother-in-law, Tracy Chapman sent this while visiting Nana up on the farm.
Good work, Tracy!
Note: Florida was the only state in the nation that did not receive snow from this storm. All 49 other states got in on the action, including Hawaii that had snow fall on Mauna Kea on the Big Island.
Here’s another image I created utilizing the Focal Lab iPhone app, this time an image of my oldest daughter, Kendall. The original shot was taken by my wife on a farm in South Carolina using a Nikon DX 40. I then used my iPhone to apply a mix of selective soft focus, dreamy focus and motion focus to achieve this effect.
There’s probably over 3,000 or so photography apps in the iPhone store, not all of them created equal. Focal Lab is a nice one created by Nexvio, a company that specializes in innovative photo and video applications for mobile platforms. Think of Focal Lab as a kind of a Photoshop Lite. It allows you to utilize selective focus in your shots. Unlike other soft focus / blur apps, Focal Lab allows you to create graduated blurs surrounding an in-focus area. You can select (and move) the area you want to keep in focus, while blurring everything around it. Here’s an image of my daughter Kaelyn that I created in about 15 seconds (originally shot on my iPhone). For only .99 in the iPhone Apps store, you can go from a hack to a pro with just a few slides of your thumb. Nexvio also has some pretty cool looking video apps, including 8mm effects and a time lapse video creator that works by stringing together stills on an iPhone 3G and 3GS!
You might be tempted to call Meyer’s walking away with a major overhaul in front of him cowardly or irresponsible, or question his heart and character. However, I would suggest that his act was courageous and profound, wholly accountable and without remonstrance.
You see at age 46, with three national championships under his belt, one year removed from serious health issues and with a wife and three children who saw far too little of him, Meyer finally realized that the sacrifices he was having to make to enjoy this level of success were far more significant than another crystal trophy, and their consequences more imperishable.
No he can’t.
And if he didn’t get to see much of them the last four years, what makes you think the six before that were any different? Or the ten before that?
So Urban quit his job as coach for the Florida Gators for the sake of his family to become a better husband and father.
I believe this reveals far more about heart and character than this year’s recruiting haul, any improvement he might have been able to engineer next season or any future championships he might have been able to win.
And if you focused on it at the expense of everything, and everyone else in you life –your wife, your children, your friends, your health– then you could almost guarantee realizing your goals. That’s the way it happens, more often than not.
The question then becomes, “What really constitutes ‘success’ in life?”
To me, that answer is achieving a healthy balance of overall physical and emotional wellness; of being loving, kind and compassionate; responsible to those who depend upon you; and respectful to everyone else.
How often do you see marriages fail, families fractured or children cheated out of having their biggest fans at hand when they take the field, stage or just sitting down for dinner?
I should probably be careful of being too “preachy” because I know I’ve missed my fair share of dinners over many years in business and certainly can’t claim accomplishments on the scale of an Urban Meyer. That’s the battle that all of us whose role it is to provide for their families, face over the course of our careers. And it is always a tricky balancing act.
In a world where success is too often, too narrowly defined as “productivity” in the workplace, it’s easy to overlook the things that provide the most important measures of human performance. The kind of things that don’t fit neatly inside a trophy case.
Yesterday afternoon, I attended the memorial of friend and business associate, Stephen George William Parker. Stephen lost a year-long battle with cancer last Sunday. He was only 46. A large group of family and friends gathered to celebrate his life under an ocean pavilion at the St. Augustine Pier. When my day comes, I’d like to be remembered exactly as Stephen was– with warm ocean breezes, good food, cold beverages and a live band, along with a low-key slideshow and a few heartfelt remembrances from family and friends.
For those that didn’t know Steve, he was a kind and generous guy– always quick with a smile and a wry remark, often laced with a little self-depreciating humor. He loved traveling, music, the ocean and his family- including his wife, Cindy; their two daughters; and his three brothers, with whom he was very close.
Like many of us here in North Florida, Stephen was a survivor of the real estate market meltdown. He was Vice President of Parker Associates, a real estate development / and marketing consultation firm where he shared duties with his father David, and older brother, Chris. From Florida, to Costa Rica, to Russia, if you wanted to know what to build upon a certain piece of property; how to position it; price it; and market it; then these guys could tell you. Their endurance through the market turmoil is a testament to their expertise and professionalism. With markets still trying to find their way forward and property changing hands, their insights today are more valuable than ever.
As many from Jacksonville (we, who lived “inside” of one of the nation’s largest real estate bubbles), will tell you, the battle back has been long and arduous. And while Steve and his family have overcome incredible challenges that saw so many other real-estate related companies fail over these past 2.5 years, the merciless serial killer that is cancer came along and buggered up the victory celebration for all of us.
Or perhaps I should say, “almost all of us”. Not for Stephen, himself.
You see, what those closest to Stephen reassured us was that he passed away with absolutely no regrets. He never waited for life to “happen” to him, but always “attacked” it with gusto. If there was a place he wanted to visit, but he didn’t have the funds, he’d find a way to get them. When there didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for the business at hand, he’d still find a way to get the job done and do so without sacrificing time for his family, friends or even just acquaintances, who he always made feel important. To me, achieving this kind of balance is what defines a “successful” life.
Today more than ever, it is easy to lose sight of the immeasurable value that each day holds and the pricelessness of the people we spend those days with. Our family. Our friends. Our co-workers. Yes, we face a challenging economy and uncertain times. Yes, technological evolution has enabled, and as a result, required us to fit more tasks into fewer hours, often for less money, raising the bars for efficiency and production to ever higher levels.
But at the end of each day, or more appropriately, at the beginning– we owe it to ourselves to pause and reflect on the things that truly matter in this life. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are not even guaranteed our next breath. So, if you wish to live a life with no regrets, the kind of life that Stephen George William Parker lived, then don’t wait on it to come to you. Go out and grab it. At home. At work. On the beach. And remember to always do it without losing sight of the important people around you. You never know when they’ll be gone. Steve, we will miss you.