The Man I Want To Be

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In case you don’t notice the uncanny resemblance, they man I’m pictured beside in the above photo is my father. His name is Ricky Dove.

This picture was taken moments before my wedding.

By our very nature, we share a lot of similarities. But we’re also two entirely different people. Several of my dad’s characteristics did not pass down to me.

He’s an avid outdoorsman, while I don’t enjoy being outside for long periods of time. He’s a go-getter who will find a solution to any given problem, while I adopt a more easygoing “whatever happens will happen” state of mind when it comes to solving problems. He can look under the hood of a car and automatically diagnose what is wrong with an engine. I have difficulty even opening the hood of my car.

You get the picture.

My dad and I have always had a good relationship. We don’t talk to each other every day, but we probably don’t feel the need to since we live only 30 miles apart and attend the same church.

A couple of weeks ago on Father’s Day, there was a young man in our church who was having a rough time making it through service. It turns out that his own father, who is out of the picture in his life, had made some broken promises to him. As me and some other men attempted to cheer him up, it really hit me just how fortunate I am.

Up until that point I’ve always taken it for granted that I grew up in a household with two loving, supportive parents. My father was always right there alongside my mother through the thick and thin. Everyday wasn’t a bed of roses, but my father was always in the home as an example of what a real father/man should be.

I’ve been observing him more closely in a lot of areas, including the way he performs his duties as a deacon at church and in his relationships with my mother, his father (my grandfather), and all the other men and women in his life.

Am I saying that he’s perfect? No. But he’s the best example of a man that I’ve been around my entire life and the older I get the more I find myself wanting to be like him.

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In Salute of Women

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In honor of International Women’s Day, I’d like to share the following essay on the impact that women have made in my life. I hope you enjoy:

It seems that my life is dominated by women.

As a young boy, I felt that girls were nasty. I wanted no part of them or their cooties. By the time puberty hit, they were all I could think of. Aside from a couple of church and schoolyard crushes, I never fancied myself as much of a lady’s man during my adolescence.

When I got to college I found myself becoming more drawn to women, but not in the typical way you would think. As I progressed through this crucial period of my life I began to realize that a lot of my really close friends were of the female variety. I met so many notable women in college, including my wife, who continue to play a major role in my life to this day.

Without question, there is no personal area that women have made more of an impact in   than my work life. I’ve spent the last decade working in predominately female environments.

During the five years I  worked at a grocery store (which really meant doing everything in the store minus cashiering), I was often the only male bagger on the front end with a majority crew of female cashiers. This job was a defining moment as it really broke me out of my reserved, quiet shell. I met many of my future best friends at this job and still keep in touch with them regularly.

I currently work as the receptionist in an office where the number of women is more than double that of men. These women range in age from their late twenties through early fifties. This job is different from any I’ve ever held in that I’m a man working in a field that is traditionally dominated by women in an office that is filled with them. In some ways it’s a unique play on the usual gender roles in the workplace. I’m the one watering plants, sorting mail, making copies, answering phones, ordering supplies, and making sure that everything in the office is taken care of.

Although I maintain a good relationship with my male coworkers, I don’t spend anywhere near the amount of time with them as I do my female counterparts since they’re constantly on the go. I’m around the women from the moment I arrive until my departure. And is there never a dull moment with this crew.

 

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The most important woman in my life, my wife D’toya.

One of the things I enjoy about working with women is that they aren’t afraid to express their feelings and are willing to offer an open ear whenever I have something to discuss. If they remotely sense that something is wrong with me they’ll stop to ask the reason why. On the flipside, they all have unique personalities which means that I must know how to properly deal with them at all times. They keep me on my toes.

I’m no women’s studies expert, but a key to successful communication with any woman is to listen and treat them with respect (throwing in the occasional compliment never hurts).

While I have great appreciation for women I do need to forge some stronger relationships with the men folk. But that’s another story for another day.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be half the man I am today if not for the lessons I’ve learned from all the powerful women that have shaped my life. From my wife to my mother and sister to in-laws to church members and coworkers, I’ve come to discover a lot about myself through them.

For as long as I live, I’ll be indebted to each of these special ladies. I dare not list all their names, because they are far too numerous, but I think about them daily and if any of them are reading this then they know exactly who they are.

Thank you all.

 

 

What I Want Most Out of Life

I want to be remembered as an all-time great at something.

I don’t want to live the rest of my life as a nobody.

I want to help people.

I want to be more confident.

I want to have an excellent career instead of a good job.

I want to realize my full potential.

I want to see my dreams come true.

I want to walk with God in word and deed.

I want to see my friends’ dreams come true.

I want to be a better husband, son, brother, nephew and cousin.

I want to not be so indecisive.

I want to enjoy all that life has to offer.

I want to go to new places to see new things.

I want to be a good father.

I want to have healthy relationships with the people around me.

I want to stop being afraid.

I want to stop being lazy.

I want to be successful.

Fourth of July Weekend with the Family

 

I celebrated the Fourth of July weekend with my family up in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It was the first time that all of my immediate family had went on a  vacation together in over a decade. My parents, sister, wife, and brother-in-law were present.

The weekend was even more special since today marks my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary. My sister and brother-in-law are also expecting their first child, a girl, who is due in September, so there is a lot to celebrate.

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Not only was it good to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but it was even better to do so in the mountains, a region that many of us had never been to before. More than the historical sites we visited, great food we consumed, arduous roads we traveled and breathtaking views we encountered, the biggest takeaway I got from this vacation is the importance of family. We just had a great time in each other’s company.

With the exception of your faith in God, family is the only surefire thing you can depend on. They support you and keep you grounded in all aspects of life. The weekend went so well that we’re looking to make it an annual tradition.

I leave the following bit of advice to anyone reading this: Keep your friends close and your family closer.

 

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers and A Lesson in Perseverance

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Sunday was a turning point in my life as a wrestling fan. I purposefully missed watching a major WWE PPV in lieu of watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals that pitted the Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers.

Not only was it the best game of their series, but it was an historic occasion as the Cavs became the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship. Even more gratifying is that it was the first major sports championship the city of Cleveland has won in 52 years.

A year or so ago I never would’ve chosen basketball, or any other sport for that matter, over professional wrestling. But it just goes to show how much my wrestling fandom has changed.

These days, watching WWE’s weekly flagship, Monday Night Raw, has become a chore. Keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who religiously watched Raw from its inception in 1993 up until 2013 (ironically my viewing started falling off after I got married in 2014). But aside from choosing my newfound love of basketball over my lifelong love of WWE, last night’s game taught me a valuable lesson about perseverance.

Although LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, his team entered the series as something of an underdog.

After all, they were competing against a Warriors team captained by the 2x league MVP Stephen Curry, who led his team to an NBA regular season record of 73-9.

Their series was a rematch of the 2015 Finals where the Warriors beat the Cavs 4-2. The biggest difference between this year and last year is that the Cavs starting lineup was much healthier. Two of their key players, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, missed much of  last year’s Finals’ due to injury.

Following an historic regular season, the Warriors tore through the playoffs, even coming back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals.

The Cavs had a relatively easier route through the Eastern Conference Finals before encountering the Warriors.

After being down 3-1, it could’ve been easy for them to mentally throw in the towel. A pair of incredible performances in Games 5 and 6 forced a conclusive Game 7. Against all odds, the Cavs prevailed on the Warriors’ home turf at the Oracle Arena. This was even the more spectacular since the Warriors rarely lose at home.

The Cavs would not be denied their moment. Not only did they win the championship, but they restored hope to the entire city of Cleveland.Their win in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds should be a testament for us all to persevere through whatever obstacles come our way.

So although I was desperately pulling for the Warriors to come out on top, I must give credit to the Cavs. They earned my respect and then some.

Happy Father’s Day w/ Quotes

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Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad. I’d like to wish my dad, and every other great dad out there, a Happy Father’s Day. I’ve provided a list of quotes that are most appropriate for today. Please take a moment to share some of these with your biological father, stepfather, or other special father figure in your life:

“One of the greatest titles in the world is parent, and one of the biggest blessings in the world is to have parents to call mom and dad.” — Jim DeMint

“Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person.” – – Naveen Jain

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.” – – –Sidney Poitier

“I’m a father; that’s what matters most. Nothing matters more.” – – Gordon Brown

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – – Jim Valvano

“I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: My mother gave me my drive, but my father gave me my dreams. Thanks to him, I could see a future.” – – Liza Minnelli

“I would say my greatest achievement in life right now – my greatest achievement period is – and I’m still trying to achieve it – is to be a wonderful father to my kids.” – – Bo Jackson

“This is the price you pay for having a great father. You get the wonder, the joy, the tender moments – and you get the tears at the end, too.” – – Harlan Coben

“Mothers play an important role as the heart of the home, but this in no way lessens the equally important role fathers should play, as head of the home, in nurturing, training, and loving their children.” – – Ezra Taft Benson

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.” – – William Shakespeare

“My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said, ‘You never know what you can accomplish until you try.’ – – Michael Jordan

“To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.” – – Euripides

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” – – George Herbert

“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that’s why I call you dad, because you are so special to me. You taught me the game and you taught me how to play it right.” – – Wade Boggs

“I want to congratulate all the men out there who are working diligently to be good fathers whether they are stepfathers, or biological fathers or just spiritual fathers.” – – T. D. Jakes

 

PS: The picture of my father and I above was taken two years ago on my wedding day. I get my good looks from him!

Things must get better soon

It’s almost 2 a.m. Thursday morning. I should be in bed since I have to be up at 6 a.m. to get ready for work.

I just finished watching some FBI Files DVDs and am now lying on the couch contemplating my life.

My passion for work has continuously diminished for the last several weeks. I’m working in a dead-end administrative support specialist position, which is just a fancy way of saying that I’m a receptionist. I’ve been applying to jobs left and right, mainly writing and library technician positions. The longer I stay at my job the more I feel like I’m going to be nothing more than an errand boy. It’s gotten so bad to the point where I wake up some mornings with a sense of heaviness just knowing that I have to go into a job I hate (I do love my coworkers).

On top of all this, my wife and I are experiencing major car issues. Her car has been out of action for nearly three months. Her repairs are going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 which is money that we don’t have. She has been driving my car, a 2009 Nissan Sentra, for the most part ever since. I got my old car, a 1990 Honda Accord, fixed so that we could both have a vehicle, but that car is now out of commission. It’s suffering from severe cooling and head gasket issues and I refuse to put any more money into such a 25 year old car. It’s a miracle that I even made it home safely yesterday.

Life has become so routine. Go to work, come home, eat, watch television, go to church, pay bills, rinse and repeat. Things would at least be a little better if I had a job where I felt like I was utilizing my true gifts and talents. I feel that life is passing me by as those around me are progressing.

As I type this I’m thinking that something has to give. Things must get better in terms of my employment and my family’s vehicle and financial situation.

 

 

 

My field day experience

I took off from work on Thursday to assist my wife’s pre-K class during their school’s field day festivities. Although I agreed to help some time ago, I was starting to regret my decision as the day drew closer. After all,  my wife had told me stories throughout the year about how some of her kids could be a handful.

While I was absolutely drained when the day ended, it was also one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a long time. I helped her kids navigate the various stations, provided them with water, tied their shoes, played with them and engaged them in conversation. Without question, eating lunch with them was the highlight of the day as they asked me every question under the sun in the funniest manner possible. A lot of the kids knew who I was before I even stepped foot into the classroom due to my wife showing them our pictures and talking to them abut me.

I had formed such a bond with these kids that I was actually a little sad as we waited for their parents to come pick them up. My experience with them made me wish that I had participated in other volunteer activities throughout the year so that I could get to know them better.

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Preparing for field day!

My wife and I were beyond exhausted by the time we got home. We crashed as soon as we stepped into the house and didn’t wake up for another couple hours.

There were two takeaways that I got from my experience: The first is that kids desperately need adults to step up to the plate and become positive role models, specifically for the young boys. As I talked with other teachers I discovered some of the boys came from dysfunctional backgrounds which had a direct correlation on they way the behaved in class.

The second is that I got a firsthand glimpse of what my wife goes through on a daily basis. I gained a newfound respect for her and teachers everywhere. It’s not an easy job.

After spending one day in her shoes I can honestly say that I’ve never been any prouder of her and the career path she’s chosen.

I Think I Can, I Know I Can

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I think I can, I know I can.

These words seemed so common to me as a child. But the older I get the more I discover there must be some truth to these words.

I had the pleasure of meeting a very successful local businessman on yesterday. The irony is that I met him while at work.

I currently work a temporary front desk position. It is not the glamorous job I envisioned working after graduating from college with a journalism degree. The more years that pass the more likely it seems that I will remain stuck in this position forever.

But the conversation I had with that gentleman on yesterday gave me a bit more hope. There were two things he told me that stood out:

  1. Your passion is only matched by your commitment
  2. You can realize all of our dreams if you work hard enough

The second point brings me back to the first sentence of this post: I think I can, I know I can.

Sometimes it seems so unfathomable that I will ever find that perfect job that gives me total fulfillment. Several of my friends that I went to college with are now working as news anchors, reporters, communications specialists and other esteemed positions at with major companies. I sit at a desk answering phones all day. While I am thankful to have a job and try to make the best of my current circumstance, I know I was meant to do something more with my life.

I do know that writing is one of those things I was destined to do, regardless of how much I hate doing it at times.

I have to be a great writer. While improving my writing is a constant goal of mine I am sensing more of an urgency to really tighten up and eliminate so many of the simple mistakes that pop up in so much of my work. I also need to buckle down and write on a daily basis, something I have neglected to do for far too long.

While writing is a top priority, I do not want my full-time occupation to revolve around it.

I am very interested in pursuing a master’s degree in library sciences. My passion for reading, writing and research, combined with my overall inquisitive mindset, leads me to believe that I would make a pretty good librarian. Most important, I can honestly see myself waking up excited every morning to report to a library for work.

So by the time this year is over I need to step up my writing game to a remarkable degree and take those first steps toward pursuing a career as a librarian.

It looks like I have my work cut out for me.

I think I can, I know I can.

 

Happy Labor Day to You

Labor Day

In honor of Labor Day I’d like to take this moment to celebrate the millions of Americans out there making an honest living for themselves and their families.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, Labor Day is set aside to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers and the contributions they have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country.

Colossians 3:23 reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

This scripture makes me think back to the five years I spent working as a bagger. Aside from bagging groceries my main responsibilities included gathering shopping carts, stocking items, and cleaning the store.

It wasn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but I can honestly say that I worked my hardest everyday and earned the respect of all my superiors and coworkers. It was also the most fun I ever had at a job in my life. Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some spectacular people at my current job.

While many of us aren’t in a predicament where we’re working our dream job, we should all take some pride in what we do for a living.

So in case no one else takes out the time to tell you on today or throughout the year, I’d like to personally say thank you for everything you do on your job. You hard work matters to God and it also matters to me.

Enjoy your day!