An Open Letter To Older Parents of Older Kids … Like Ones In Our 40s and 50s

Jun 2, 2015 by

Dear Mom and Dad,

As I write this morning, a friend from high school is on the verge of losing her father. She’s either 49, 48, maybe has eclipsed 50. Like any time a person we know passes, a certain amount of reflection is involved–similar to the decade when I worked in the Alabama Governor’s Office and oft reminded my colleagues–“Every day is one less day we’re going to be here.” Four-year terms in office do that to you–remind you that every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year, count. (It’s shorter if you throw in a dishonest attorney general and judge.) It’s easy to forget that.

Life.

It’s not what I thought it was going to be growing up in your home.

You did so much to care for us, protect us, and prepare us for a changing world it’s impossible to ever be prepared to take on. I wish I’d known that when I was a kid–how hard life could be, but I had to find that out much later in my life and on my own.

My friend’s father is dying. Maybe there are a dozen things she is trying to tell him before it’s too late. I don’t know. She seems like the kind who would have already said much of it.

But we are from that generation where many parents didn’t say the three words we kids needed/wanted to hear the most–I love you.

I don’t know what happened to make that so, but I made up for it with my three girls. In their younger years, when they were less busy trying to figure out the world on their own, I used to say it so often they would reply, “Dad, we know!” My response was simple–“A daddy can never tell his girls enough that he loves them. Never.”

Sitting here, I realize that can go both ways. So let me give it a try: “Mom and Dad, I love you.”

For years of my life I have cursed the US Air Force for having moved me around so much as a child. I went to schools in Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, California and Alabama. With my past work for Dallas Schools and the writing program I’m in at SMU, I can now add Texas.

I still don’t feel like I have a home. Mom was always quick to quote “Home is where your heart is.” That doesn’t help either; it’s scattered all over the country.

The blessing of Facebook has helped give me back part of the youth that was taken from me. There are kids from McDonald Elementary in Michigan, Mitchell Sr. Elementary and Atwater High in California, and Jeff Davis High in Montgomery, whom I’m now friends with again because of FB.com. (The cooler part, some of them I went to school with in Michigan and Alabama, or Michigan and California.) This alone has brought so much healing to my heart–being able to see how friends from my youth turned out and to hear about their life stories, their challenges, successes and things they’re doing now.

It’s been amazing to learn how much of who we are is already in us by middle school. So many of my friends from California to this day either sound like they did then, or still act in very similar ways. I thought older years would have bent us more, but they haven’t.

This morning, I’m writing you to say a few things that need to be said again and again and again, before it’s too late.

Thank you for the love you gave me as a youngster. You didn’t say the words “I love you,” near to what I wanted or think I needed to hear, but you showed it in your generation’s own ways.

Dad, when I needed track shoes, we were in the car headed to get some. When I played baseball you coached. When the umpire wasn’t applying the rules fairly, you objected–becoming the only parent in history to be thrown out of a little league baseball game. But the point was, the rules weren’t being applied fairly and instead of letting it go, you stood up and said something about it. That’s been a good thing to have learned, and something I’ve not learned to compromise on. Some have called it “whining.” I call it speaking the truth. (I’ve been wondering how someone in one of my old jobs can look himself in the mirror having compromised on so much. I couldn’t live like that. And didn’t. And don’t. Thank you.)

Mom, we had our rough times, but great ones, too. I love you. (It gets easier to say the more you say it.) I’m sorry for the heartaches I caused, and I’ve let the ones you triggered inside me to be forgiven and to be let go. Thank you for teaching me about Mama Cass and her song Make Your Own Kind of Music, the phrase, “Life is what you make of it,” cooking, and daring to step onto a stage at age 10 and deliver my first public speech.

Dad, the point of the baseball gloves when Field of Dreams came out was for us to play catch like we did in front of the house in Kansas, or in the backyard in Michigan. I still can’t watch those ending scenes and not think about being in first grade and you and I having a catch. That sputtered out in California and Alabama, maybe it was the heat, and then the humidity. Probably it was just the elements of Cat’s In the Cradle, a song I cannot bare to listen to, even to this day.

Who knows what today will bring. Life is hard. I know that now. In part, you taught me that. Much of it, I just had to find out for myself.

Thank you for teaching me to love God. I give Him things to solve, but you also raised a hard-headed person who sometimes still thinks he can fix them on his own. Maybe I won’t ever learn to give enough to God, but he hasn’t given up on me.

If we could go back in time there is much I would change. Regrets? No.

Dad, you once told me about how you’d watch me and my brothers run cross country, even at young ages. We’d be beat red in the faces, fighting to keep going, and you said you were so proud of us because we dug down deep inside and found another gear, pushing forward to the finish line.

There have been times since when I couldn’t find that gear and just gave up. I learned the hard way that there are some things that just aren’t ever going to be. But it is joyous when miracles happen.

I’ve learned to recognize that when God wants something to happen, it does. I left so many friends behind and longed to find them, searching through the years. But when God finally said I’d learned enough in isolation from them, he opened up the lines of communication like we’d not taken a thirty-year break.

I wish as the eldest of five I’d not been so scared to tell you how much I liked a girl in middle school. I wish you could have met her then, or seen her, so that you have the context I have of how she’s still just as special today. I wish I’d learned more than how to just meet people. My worst characteristic today is that I don’t know how to be close to people because every time we tried when I was a kid, we moved in three months. It got too easy to not open up because the pain of leaving hurt so much more each time. I wish I’d spent more time in Yosemite when we lived in California. I wish….

This is longer than I wanted it to be. Ha, how can I dare say that? I could go on. There’s a lifetime of things I want to tell you about. I’m sure you have so much as well.

We don’t talk enough these days. Life makes us so busy. Can we try to fix that, while there’s still time?

Today is one less day we’re going to be here; I’d like to make it count.

 

–PS: Dad, handshakes are nice; firm, a look in the eye. That’s nice. But bear hugs, like you mean it, are better.

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It’s Saturday – Time For A Mental Break

Apr 26, 2014 by

It’s Saturday – Time For A Mental Break

My three girls, Reagan, 14, Chandler, 17, and Haley, 14. Yes, that makes R&H twins....

My three girls, Reagan, 14, Chandler, 17, and Haley, 14. Yes, that makes R&H twins….

Since Monday, I’ve made a daily post on the aspects I’ve been using to begin writing a novel. Today is Saturday and I’m going to take a mental break–at least here on the blog.  If you’ve been doing the exercises, you probably should take one, too. (If you’re too tied to it, the next exercise is the opposite of the one from yesterday–things you don’t like….)

Following these exercises has put me on a rewarding and interesting road to self-discovery.  This week I’ve heard from friends on Facebook who have said they’ve enjoyed the exercises and have even gone out and bought 3 x 5 blank notecards to follow in stride. That’s satisfying and invigorating. It gets back to my ClaxtonCreative.com mantra of “telling stories with purpose.”  I’m fulfilling my purpose that I feel God put me here to do.

When God Redefines The Possible

To find inspiration, breakfast and the comfort of chaos, I tend to float around a coffee shops, etc. to feel connected and more importantly, to get my butt out of this chair. It gets quite uncomfy after a while. Yesterday morning, I had another pleasant turn that only God could have engineered. Fate is much less cunning to be able to match this feat.

I met a waitress who is on fire for God in a way one seldom meets in this life. When she was introduced to me through my “regular,” Jessica, and she found out what I was doing, she, too, said she was working on her own novel and was about a year ahead of me. She’s writing a Christian novel and from the fire in her heart, one can only know good things will come from her words. There can be no other possibility. Like I have done so many times before, I shared with her about Dr. John Ed Mathison’s book, When God Redefines The Possible.

Good things have always happened in my life when I’ve been associated with that piece of work, so I’m hoping this young lady, clearly half my age, will find some power and inspiration in John Ed’s work to be able to help her in her own walk and in her own write. It is amazing how God bumps us into the right people at the right time.

I said Monday in my first post about writing that I was on an adventure journey. And like the best of them, you run into people you did not anticipate and learn things you did not know before. Aspects that make life and adventures all that much more rewarding. She said she’s veered off of using an outline to write with and though she didn’t use the term, is being a “pantser.”  (We’ll get into what all this means in coming posts.)

Okay, had a late night. My eldest went to her prom and my twins came over to help get her ready and pose for pics.  This picture sums up what my life is all about–telling stories with purpose, God’s purpose, for the benefit of Him, and the benefit of these three angels–(L to R: Reagan, Chandler and Haley.)

A post about Netflix’s series, House of Cards, is slated for Monday as well as new exercises.  Thanks for reading. It’s time for a mental break.

God bless.

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Do You Highlight In EPUB Books? Books for iPad?

May 6, 2013 by

Do You Highlight In EPUB Books? Books for iPad?

Admittedly, when I have an option of buying a tech book for computer or even a self-help, inspirational book, I’m probably going to buy the printed version because I like to read actively–meaning I read with a pen and I mark up the book with notes, underlining, etc.

But what about a book on Kindle, Nook or another e-Reader?  What about a book for iPad?

If you’re like most readers, at least according to an active survey available on the GoodReads.com site, most people do NOT even use this function in books they read on their EPUB devices.

Do you highlight in your e-Reader?

Do you highlight in your e-Reader?

As of Sunday evening and 140,444 votes, 43 percent of e-Reader respondents on their site say they “never highlight.”

Only 28 percent said “Yes, I like to highlight.” Some 22 percent said they don’t have an e-Reader and 2 percent said their e-Reader doesn’t support the functionality.

Books for iPad

To their credit, Apple has built amazing functionality into books for iPad when it comes to the ability to highlight.  And with iBooks 3 they’ve even made it so users can text, email, post to Twitter or Facebook the information that’s been highlighted.

But as we tend to note here, the book that can be designed with Apple’s iBooks Author and made available only on the iPad or iPad mini far and away exceeds the capabilities of those offered in the EPUB 2.01 or even the highly acclaimed EPUB 3 format.  It almost harkens back to the differences in capabilities between PC and Mac, really.

If you highlight text in your e-Books or books for iPad, what do you tend to highlight?

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The Realities of the Current Social Media Trend–Write An eBook

Mar 9, 2013 by

The Current Social Media Trend–Write An eBook

Back in 2006 or 2007 when I began my blog with the now defunct, dadscenter.org, I had a mission to become one of the best and most prolific dad bloggers on the Net. When Twitter came along I was one of the early adopters and remember thinking how amazing it was that in no time, I had 300 followers. Then 600. Then 1,000….  Today I have 12,773 followers, most of whom I have zero time to regularly engage on @DaddyClaxton and another 1,700 on @ClaxtonCreative that are a challenge to regularly interact with as well. (Don’t forget to follow me!)

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de eBook Беларуская: Фотаздымак электроннай кнігі Русский: Фотография электронной книги (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then came the trend to jump on Facebook and have your tweets going straight to your Facebook wall. People got tired really fast about seeing everything you tweeted on your Facebook wall.  Oh, then came the need to have a Facebook Business Page. (Don’t forget to LIKE us while you’re here.

Then came Google +. (Join my circles!)

In between all that came the Mommy Blogger craze, and in 2010, many of us dads started saying, “Hey, we buy stuff, too,” and so we had the dad blogger phase.

With the advancement of each new platform has come the hype and the craze. “YOU CAN GET RICH IMMEDIATELY DOING (insert name of latest new thing!!!!)

But as Ted Murphy pointed out at the Modern Media Man conference in Atlanta in September 2010, the precious few who are going to get struck by lightning and make millions having a blog, using Twitter, using Facebook, having a Facebook Business Page, having a Google + community going, etc. etc. and etc. are just that.  A precious few.

That’s not a throwing in the towel of admission, it’s just the factual reality of all this and if you’re one of those precious few, congratulations.  if you’re not, I encourage you to never give up.  But it’s clear the latest trend is here and that’s what this post really was intended to be about.

The Latest Trend–Write an eBook

And so it goes, the latest trend clearly on the Net is to write an eBook, self-publish it, and ride away to prosperity and peace and comfort.

Again, we’re not discouraging the practice, we just want to temper that with some practical common sense, which seems to be lacking in the blasts of trumpeting this latest, newest, easiest and most important phase–(again, like in all other previous phases.)

Writing an ebook  or regular book, for that matter, is a time-consuming and a time-honored practice. There is/was a reason why so many manuscripts were sent to print publishers that never got printed throughout the course of time. They just weren’t going to sell in the long run and the publisher didn’t want to take a risk in publishing something that was not going to sell.

Now as an individual, yes, many out there just have this incredible desire to part with their wisdom knowing convincingly that what they have to say is going to be something some massive numbers of people have been sitting around waiting to be published throughout the course of human history. You probably know that from the long line of people who stand at your front door or office door each day waiting for you to make your next prolific statement about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

What? They’re not there?

Now, again, don’t read that as a negative, just read it as a practical point. If you undertake the process to write an ebook, it’s going to take a lot of time, effort and sacrifice. Ultimately, you may not make any money at all from the process and unless you are one of the precious few, that’s likely to be the case.

On top of that, 10,000 other people are going to be releasing their new ebook on the same day as yours, (remember, this is a wide-open trend at the moment) and you are going to be in that mix.

How are you going to market your book? Who is going to buy it? How are you going to get it to them?  The odds are that the 10,000 other people who publish their ebook on the same day as yours aren’t going to buy your book that day.  They’re going to be focused on one thing–trying to get the other 999,998 people involved to buy it, and those people are going to be like you and the one other….

There are dozens of questions to ponder, but seriously, before you even get down to that, recognize the “write an ebook” trend for what it is.  We’ve been here with blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Business Pages, Google +, (you could throw in Instagram, Pinterest, and several others I can’t even remember the names of at the moment) and we’re here again with the premise of “write an ebook.”

In a few months, it’s going to be something else…. Just wait.  You’ll see.

CLAXTON CREATIVE

We feel comfortable writing this piece because the focus of our work isn’t on the production of eBooks. No, our work is in interactive books for iPad that include video, 3D animations, interactive widgets and much more. There’s a huge difference and that’s where we see the future of books going.  To us it seems so many are focused on getting a version of some prose published for Kindle or Nook.  We see that as a huge, tactical mistake. 

 

 

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iBooks 3 Adds Social Media

Nov 16, 2012 by

iBooks 3 books for iPad now includes a powerful Social Media component that allows a reader to share content with others via Twitter, Facebook, Message, and Email.

iBooks 3 Social Media tools

iBooks 3 Social Media tools

From an educational standpoint, this is significant.

The new “share” function from highlighting allows for the exchange of text within a book via Mail, Message, Twitter, Facebook or allows a reader to copy for pasting elsewhere. Because of this, the world’s classroom just got a lot bigger. And with the release of the iPad mini, it’s going to grow even faster.

As we’ve mentioned before, a superintendent with $1 million to spend on hardware before the iPad mini, could spend those funds and purchase 2,000 iPads. Because the iPad mini is priced lower, a superintendent can now buy 3,000 iPad mini units for roughly the same $1 million.  Apple‘s strategy clearly was to offer a lower-priced unit that could be smaller in size and not compromise usability–after all, elementary and middle school kid fingers are smaller, so it was a perfect fit.  And think about this, what demographic has the most growth potential in the use of social media?

Social Media In An iBooks 3 Book For iPad

We’ve said it before on this site, but it is worth repeating.  The Social Media component in a book for iPad means a reader now can ask a classmate, parent, teacher or maybe even the book’s author a question about something within the book. Think about the power of that development? Think about being a student and you get to a part in a book you don’t understand and you leave a note for a classmate, the teacher or even the author and ask for further explanation!  That’s mind boggling compared to what happened in education just 10-15 years ago, let alone a month ago before this capability was introduced.

Using the iBooks 3 Social Media Tools

As you might expect, using the iBooks 3 Social Media tools is easy.  A reader just highlights a portion of text they want to share by rubbing their finger over it. Up will pop a dialogue box to color it with a virtual highlighter or underline it, and then the reader has the option to click a MORE button that will lead to a SHARE button.  From there, up pops various Social Media icons.  From there, the reader picks which one to use and goes through necessary logins and addressing and sends the information along with any messages intended.

It’s that easy.  It’s that powerful.  It’s going to change how learning is done in the worldwide classroom.  And just think, if you don’t have an iPad or iPad mini, you’re missing it.

ClaxtonCreative.com

Thank you for reading our series of posts, What Apple Isn’t Saying About Books For iPad.  You’re welcome to download a free copy of it for your iPad or iPad Mini, or you can download a free .PDF version of the book so you can read more about these powerful developments in books for iPad. Our company is located in Dallas, Texas, USA, and we are a designer and publisher of these special books for iPad. Yes, the iBooks Author software is available free to use. And nowadays, most people can get their hands on a copy of Photoshop, but that doesn’t make a person an expert at Photoshop.  Likewise, we have found throughout 2012, that making books for iPad isn’t just something one plops down and does. There are tricks to the process.  An entirely different way of thinking is necessary in designing such a book.  This isn’t like a traditional book, and it’s not even like one you’d write for a Kindle or Nook.

That is why we continually offer our services and encourage you, our readers, who may be considering making a book for iPad, to contact us and let’s talk about how to build it for you.  You can reach us today by calling 972-863-8784 or by using the book submission form at the top of this page. Thank you.  More posts coming Monday!

 

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