OK, a little background. I’ve been a Midwestern kid all my life. Smaller towns, open spaces, the whole nine yards. My wife (talk about opposites attract) grew up in California. Los Angeles, to be exact. How we came to meet and marry in Kentucky is a story for another time.
After almost 5 years of marriage and one kid (just over a year old), my beloved and I start talking about how she misses her family, some of their health problems, and how she’d like to be able to help them. Fast forward a few months and a few dozen such conversations, and guess where we are today? That’s right, L.A.
Culture shock would be an understatement. This has been, as they say, a difficult transition. As I write this, we’ve been here about three weeks, and I’ve been moved into the role of stay-at-home-dad. This is not a complaint. I love my little girl more than anyone on this planet. We’ve moved in with my in-laws, and I’m learning how to navigate this bustling metropolis of insanity.
I have mixed feelings about being here. The pop-culture-nerd in me is excited. Disney, Universal, Warner Bros. (Helloooooo Nurse!) and the rest. The chance to see places where my favorite movies were made, take nerdy pics with my daughter to embarrass her with when she’s older, go to podcast recordings, live shows and the like; it all makes my little geek heart pound.
Then there’s the Dad in me. I know we’re only here temporarily, but how safe will my little girl be? How can I keep her as safe as possible? It’s good that she’s here to spend time with her cousin (who is ten days older than her), and it’s good that we have some family in town to help take care of her when we need a Mommy and Daddy break.
The bottom line comes down to the question I’ve been asking myself since the day I knew we were having a child: What do I want her normal to be? What default mode can I instill in her to go back to when things get rough as she grows up? For me, this all funnels into a more personal question: How do I want her to see her Daddy living.
The answer to that question leads to a change in perspective for me about being in L.A. Instead of just seeing this as taking care of my wife and her family, I’m choosing to take this time as a new beginning. Since I’m in Hollywood, let’s call it a personal reboot. I want my daughter to see her Dad take control of his life, make better choices, be a better man, better husband, better dad, so that when she gets older, she has that as an example for how to live her life the best way she can.
Me being me, I need a plan, a framework, to make this happen, so I’m focusing in four main arenas, physical, mental, spiritual, and creative. In my mind, the breakdown looks like this:
- Physical – eat better, get in shape, be able to keep up with my daughter and my wife, and live as long as I can for them both.
- Mental – I’ve taken a long hiatus from learning new things, so now is the time to learn some new skills, teach this old dog some new tricks.
- Spiritual – This is a little tougher. I’ve gone through some church politics issues and some betrayal/cover-up from church leadership in the past, and it’s led to some level of mistrust of what I call the church of man. I want my daughter to trust in God, not fallible men. I need to live that in my own life as well, and no longer confuse one for the other. Possibly more on that down the line.
- Creative – I’ve always been a creative soul; music, theater, prose, and so on. I haven’t been able to indulge that side of me in the last little while, and I miss it terribly. Moreover, I want my little girl to have a creative outlet for herself. So, for her sake and my sanity, I’m looking for an avenue back into that side of me.
As I’ve been contemplating all of this, I’ve decided to document my journey through it all. Why? Maybe there’s another 40-something guy out there who feels stuck, scared, and stagnant, and needs a kick in the tail-feathers to do something about it, and I’m supposed to be the boot. Maybe in documenting this, it’ll motivate me to keep going. Maybe there’s another reason for it that I haven’t found yet. Regardless, here it is. The starting line. I have no idea where this’ll take me, but you’re welcome to come along for the ride of nerdiness and self improvement. Buckle up.