Good and Bad

Can you believe Christmas is already over and in the weeks leading up to Christmas I didn’t post my annual Christmas Wish-List? Either I’ve slipped into a depression or, some would argue, I’ve grown as a person and I’m realizing it’s not all about me and that gift-giving is better than gift-getting. Well, no, I haven’t grown and evolved. Trust me. I think I just ran out of time, what with my StorySLAM winning, my salsa making, my book-writing and my crazy busy day-job. I had many, many, many awesome things on my list, I got many great things, but sadly I also didn’t get many things I would’ve liked to have gotten.

This Blog entry will be interesting if you’ve ever wanted to be a writer. No, actually, I’ve stumbled upon something I think is brilliant that is better than journaling, better than scrapbooking, and better than Blogging, but will enhance any of those things. It’s called Homework for Life, and you can skip right to the bottom of this Blog and watch the 19-minute video. Or you can read what I have to say about it.

I’m nostalgic about things. I’ve lived a fairly normal life, but because it’s my life, and they were my grandparents, and these are my kids, well, it’s all extraordinary. So is your life. I’m not saying my life is better than yours. As I get older, memories get fuzzy or some disappear entirely. Ask me about the day I graduated from high-school. I mean, the actual ceremony when I was in my cap and gown and then later that evening at the Senior All-Night party and I can’t really tell you what happened, but I’ll bet I had a great time and felt very proud. I’ll bet my Mom wore something nice and my Dad said things like, “it was touch and go there for a while whether Don would actually get his diploma.” Or maybe he didn’t, but I don’t know. Or my college graduation. I have some photos of myself and my best-friend, Chad, and my Grandpa. I remember thinking, wow, I’m the first “Kowalewski” to have earned a college degree. But what did I eat? What was the most interesting moment of that day? What was my Mom wearing? Did she cry?

Enter Matthew Dicks’s Homework for Life. Essentially it’s this. At the end of every day, sit down for 5-minutes (actually takes less time than that), and write down the most memorable moment of the day. He recommends this because he’s a writer and award-winning storyteller and says it’s a tool for finding more stories. But, and I think he agrees with this, it’s for everyone who wishes to save things they hope to never forget. Like vacations – I’ve gone on 15 years worth of summer vacations with my daughter, and I’d like to tell you about some of the best moments, but they all blend together. Not anymore.

This year, my 12-year-old admitted she knew Santa wasn’t real, so for the first time in 15 years, my wife and I weren’t Santa and that rabid excitement that a magic man from the North Pole would stuff so many toys under your Christmas tree …it didn’t happen. I won’t miss the 5am wake-up call from kids tugging at my blankets on Christmas morning because they can’t sleep another minute knowing what’s downstairs under the tree. OK. I will miss it, a little. It was strange to have teenagers and nobody even woke-up until almost 9:00 a.m. on Christmas morning. I nearly started opening my own gifts just because I was awake and bored.

This is where Homework for Life comes in. I will never forget 2018 was the year our house stopped having Santa. I won’t forget when our 15-year-old reported to us that our 12-year-old knew about Santa. And I won’t forget my wife’s tears at hearing that. And I won’t forget that I made my wife have the official conversation about it because I felt the 12-year-old needed to see my wife talk through tears while admitting the truth. My other two kids had that moment, so should my youngest. I don’t cry (yet) when I talk about it. Because of Homework for Life I’ll remember my sister’s mother-in-law accidentally arguing a very racist phrase wasn’t racist, I’ll remember my 80-year-old Uncle with a heart condition sitting down with a can of Red Bull thinking it was a craft beer, and I’ll remember a few more highlights from the season.

I would call it a game changer. And I’m ready to change the game at the end of 2018 and into 2019.

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