How Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Avengers: Endgame Made Me A Better Parent

LOL…. bet you were never expecting to read THAT kind of title from a dad blog. #InsertSmirkEmojiHere… oh wait,…. ⇒ 😏

Seriously though, there is something about these stories in certain commonalities for certain schools of thought.. and, it’s all based on…

Now that enough time has passed for general audiences to not panic about #NoSpoilers… we need to talk.

DISSAPPOINTMENT?

The Last Jedi, the last season of Game of Thrones… even the smashing success of Avengers: Endgame — these have been incredible contributions to cinema; AND YET, there has been and continues to inevitably be, a bunch of sour folks who call themselves “fans” in a fashion as if they are the only true fans… being salty poor losers that the way these stories unfolded, didn’t go the way they wanted them to.

And, here’s the thing… it’s not even THEIR story to tell.

But, as you were reading it, you probably read it that way, didn’t you?

“…. the way their stories unfolded”

Here’s the thing…

I like things and I’m a happy fan.

Even with the closure of the Skywalker saga with Star Wars Episode IX — I’m *still* a happy fan!

That’s right, I like to like things, and, I no matter how the lore unfolds in these many universes and stories that I adore, my day is not made worse because it wasn’t told in the way or put forth in the type of direction or conclusion that I otherwise would have liked, preferred, expected, or felt to have been “better.”

I have my mindset as such because I know these aren’t my stories to tell. I’m a fan. And, I’m a fan of the stories no matter how they go — because, I believe that there are LESSONS to be learned and more importantly… lessons to be TAUGHT to our younglings.

Here are a few examples of things I didn’t like, but… served to really tie in the lore of these wonderful stories.


Fair Warning: SPOILER ALERT!

You’ve been warned…
  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    I did NOT like the way The Last Jedi depicted long range turbo lasers.
    It DID, however, do a great job reinforcing and explaining away that different energies in the Star Wars universe can be shielded for in different ways. AND, that blaster bolts in this universe dissipate energy over distance, much in the fashion that musket fire from the 1700s weren’t accurate nor energy efficient over long distances. So, the space battles we see in Star Wars as well as land battles with blasters makes a lot more sense with the legendary inaccuracies of the Stormtroopers — despite their serving as highly trained and equipped Imperial shock troopers.
  2. Game of Thrones: Season 8 — Jon’s Ending.
    So what if he’s heir to the Iron Throne? Did he ever want it or anything of that ilk? He was raised thinking he deserved nothing. All he ever wanted was the absence of judging eyes and freedom. He also was a duty bound character, which led him to much suffering despite his grit. He deserved the throne in many ways… he didn’t get it. Tough. Life. And guess what? Jon was happy with it… to be free folk.
  3. Avengers: Endgame — The Rushed Ending
    Phase 4 is around the corner, so all the loose ends can’t be tied up. There is now a serious multi-verse situation in the MCU. So, what about Cap? Of ALL the characters, he deserves a break…. as in his life to be lived. And, yeah… I cried like a baby for the entire ending… and, on my way out of the theater…. just like…. emotional destruction for a grown @$$ man. LOL. But, I loved it!
  4. Honorable Mentions As Of Late…
    => Toy Story 4… cried
    => Solo movie, explained — “I’ve outrun Imperial star ships. Not the local bulk cruiser, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships… she’s fast enough for the old man.” Episode IV, Han Solo.
  5. Back to Star Wars IX: Rey was a Palpatine all along.
    I don’t mind saying that I CALLED THIS. Regardless of if this was originally the plan, completely retconned for Episode IX… whatever the case. #CalledIt

    Listen to these podcast episodes:
    => Life Lessons from Star Wars & TROS Review with Dr. Ben Fung & Dr. Scotty Butcher, The Duck Legs Podcast
    => Same podcast — on Apple podcasts

So… how does all this lead me to being a better parent?

Tough Lessons from A Galaxy Far Far Away, Westeros, and Earth-199999 (and/or Earth-616).

I know this isn’t the most organized post. But, I wanted to put these random thoughts out as a collection of cognitive slices to communicate that all these stories tell tales of struggles; of life and death; of heroism and cowardice; of good versus evil; of massive gray areas; of fandoms vs. the way things are vs. the way things should be.
Here are lessons from these fandoms that made me a better dad:
  1. Doing the right thing doesn’t always reward you, but it is the right thing.
  2. It’s not YOUR story… so you don’t get a say. But, you DO get to enjoy it and you do get to play to your own imagination and fandom.
  3. Heroes make the sacrifice play. It doesn’t mean its a winning play.
  4. The quicker you accept what has happened, the swifter you can begin affecting the future.
  5. Where you come from, does not define you.
  6. You are not your family.
  7. How you grew up, doesn’t destine you to repeat it — in others (your kids) or yourself.
  8. We are never too old to learn from our mistakes.
  9. It is never too late to change.
  10. Some people will always been Full On Daenerys (GoT Reference). They will never know it, but YOU will know it as you watch them enjoy making the world burn to build their own kingdoms.
  11. The enemy always works from the shadows.
  12. Incorruptibility is found honest souls.
  13. Even the best of intentions can lead to disasters.
  14. Lead selflessly and people will come when you need them most.
  15. When new information comes to light (retconned or not), you can choose to accept it; or, you can continue to live in your past understandings which are very much most likely now in complete error. This is a thing in science, in social contracts, in relationships…. etc.
  16. New information should not ever shake your faith. Faith and knowledge are on different planes, but they do intersect.
  17. Vanity can destroy generations of peace.
  18. Impossible happened because you let it happen.
  19. Own your mistakes by never permitting them another sunrise.
  20. You are never alone.

We all have things we geek out about. That’s whats so cool about the enjoyment of life, imagination, play, and common interests. Whether these are sports teams, SciFi opera characters, feudal fantasy realms, or anything else — a sense of unity beyond all the daily things that weigh us down.

Fandom creates this sense that regardless of creed, we can all enjoy this thing we love for at least this time together.

Perhaps thats a metaphor about life. Life is so short, so precious, so terrifyingly fragile… what these fandoms really taught me in terms of being a better dad:

Be my kid’s biggest fan.

2020: Return of the Dad Blog

Historically, this blog has pretty much been an open journal to any who wishes to read it.

It started when I started on this work-at-home lifestyle.

I have a LOT of posts that I’ve pretty much hidden away… unsure of how public I wanted these parenting thoughts to be… well, enough of that. They are going public and very soon!

All that said, I want to thank a singular vocal supporter and his response to my announcement that I’m bringing Daddy In The Raw back:

Soooooo! We begin. Many of these thoughts will come unfiltered. Some may be shocking. Others might even be *gasp* “controversial” — whatever they are… they are real, honest, true, and sincere. They are certainly imperfect. They may even change over time. But, that’s what this blog is all about — chronicling this chosen path of mine in hope that it may be uplifting to those who read it.

That’s all for now. See you at the next one!
-Ben

Confirming Moments For A Work At Home Dad

Plus, a bunch of other happenings and updates’ish.


Moment #1: A man makes his way out of the dining hall to say…

It was December 22nd, 2018. We had all gathered together, several branches of our nuclear paternal family, to meet together for an early Christmas dinner and visit with my grandparents.

Sadly, at this stage, they haven’t been doing that well and have been needing a lot of help — physically, emotionally, mentally. I guess, it’s normal. And, it’s normal for me to just feel a bit down and sad about the situation. Watching loved ones age and age out of their own self… it’s rough.

Well, during our dinner — somewhere towards the end of the meal; at where my grandparents are living we eat a large dining hall. There was a resident who stood up in the middle of this dining hall and made his way out and over to talk to me.

I mean… I’m in my mid-30s… I shouldn’t have any feelings of precariousness or worry when folks approach me. Right?

Well… that’s not even close to true. I totally thought he was going to confront me about something I did wrong that I wasn’t even aware of.

LOL! Oi… FORTUNATELY…. he came up to me (and, mind you… he’s significantly taller than me and is my senior — which automatically positions him with respect in my mind)… and, he says to me:

“You’re a good father.”

Then, this man looked at Nathan, pointed to him as he locked eyes with my boy and he said:

“You have have a really good dad.”

He had been quietly observing my interactions with Nathan throughout this entire dinner. And, during this time, Nathan and I were playing, snuggling, joking, laughing, and generally enjoying each other in the best ways we know how.

So, Yes… it’s good to remember how and why I came down this insane startup entrepreneur, traveling speaker, social media connecting, work at home path.

Moment #2: My son wants to grow up to be a daddy.

I like to have conversations about the future with my son. I do this regularly when we drive together, just me and him; and, when we play together — typically some imaginary Star Wars, Avengers, Legos, or dinosaur oriented game.

I asked Nathan one day:

Nathan… what do you want to be when you grow up?

In the past, he’s said paleontologist, kid chef (as in Master Chef Junior), a firefighter, a police officer, an airplane pilot… What was his answer? AND… has been his answer for the last several months?

I want to grow up and be a daddy.

—said Nathan

Nathan wants to be me. I didn’t think about this much until I talked about this with my wife. Christina’s insight was incredible. She said something to the effect that:

Kids typically want to grow up and become what their parents profession is or was at the time.

Your son wants to become a dad. That is who you are to him and that is the profession you embody. Not a doctor, not a business owner, not a marketer — a Daddy.

—Christina Fung, Super Mom & Hero Wife

Moment #3: Daddy, Show Some Grit!

I had this really telling conversation with a bunch of great colleagues… extended family, really, of the Physical Therapy profession (#PTfam) — this conversation happened in Chicago during the American Physical Therapy Association’s NEXT conference of 2019 — which I just had returned from… (which will be expanded on in Moment #4)

So, here’s the backdrop: One day years ago, I came across some stunning wrist pain — humbling to say the least. After all, what Physical Therapist can’t “cure their own pain?”

Me.

LOL! Yeah… it was humbling and actually got in the way of me doing push ups, doing certain movements in Jiu Jitsu, didn’t really hinder my Muay Thai — but did change the way I got in and out of bed, and, on and off the floor. It was an annoyance I learned to otherwise live with and had tried to self-treat many times… to no avail.

WELL…. I was sharing this story with my #PTfam and we’re all clinical geeks, of course. And, I was telling them that if there’s one thing I could impart upon my son as a life skill… I want it to be GRIT. (more on this in a TED talk, linked and embedded below)

We all knew what I meant by “grit.” And, the situation unfolded where I wanted to try push ups again this Spring of 2019. I had just spent several days teaching and reciting with Nathan…

What is Grit?

Never give up. Finish the job.

Well.. this time, Nathan was watching me try some push ups and I stopped and flicked my wrist in pain. I said, “Ah… ouch.”

Nathan looked at me with focused and determined eyes… he said to me:

Daaaaaad… Show Some GRIT!

I had no choice. I had to do it. So, after a few more fairly painful reps… the pain in my left wrist went away. Annnnnd… it has not yet come back. In fact, I’m back to doing sets of push ups and even did a few sets in my hotel room in Chicago at the conference. There’s a bunch of science on how and why this happened… but, we won’t get into that today 🙂

In any case, if you want to learn more about grit and how it’s the SINGULAR PREDICTOR of a student’s (and, perhaps… a person’s) future success… Check out this clip — it’s queued up 😉

Moment #4: Debating on a national platform.

So… on to #4. Many of you reading this know that I was one of the Oxford Debate captains on topic of social media at the 2019 APTA NEXT conference in Chicago.

It was a HUGE honor.

Every year, this conference hosts a debate that’s a blend of a stage show as much as it is a statement within the profession with aims of bringing up points from both sides of the resolution / argument — to provoke critical thought, that those who may have started out in support or in opposition might even switch sides by the end of the experience.

Well… it wasn’t so much the entire conference experience that was my Moment #4 as much as it was leading up to the conference. I hadn’t gone on business travels for quite some time since the last one, and so, my son didn’t need to deal with the emotional facts of me leaving in recent months’ memory.

As the day for my initial flight approached, poor Nathan got more and more attached to me and kept telling him how much he’d miss me. Of course, I told him why I had to travel for work and how important the platform is — that being asked in an immense honor and privilege.

In any case, I went on to ask him what he wanted me to bring back to him from the trip.

His response was too sweet:

I just want you daddy… and, a toy!

Because, I always bring him back some type of souvenir from the airports I visit. LOL! Apparently, his receptive love language right now is Gifts.

It’s not so much what he said, but how he said it — he wasn’t impressed by my position nor station, he yearned for my return and to receive the expression of love he feels is most tangible at his age and for this circumstance.

It may seem small, but having your kid want you around is a huge deal to me — it tells me I’m doing something right, that he is covetous of his time with me — which means, that I’m spending the right type of time with him…. and, I hope to only do more of this in the days to come 🙂


And, now… a bunch of stuff from Instagram.

PS. Don’t miss the really sweet moments of the “Secret Swing” video at the bottom 😉

LAST, AND CERTAINLY NOT LEAST…

I suppose this is just one big tell all post for me to journal for me, for me to chronicle for Nathan… and, for those of you looking to embark on a journey like ours… that it’s possible, it’s enjoyable, it’s not always certain… but, it IS certainly worth it 🙂

Big Changes Through Summer of 2018 / New Year’s Day 2019 Catch Up

Posted New Year’s Day 2019 …. hahaha.. oi…

Call this another catch all post.

Sadly… finally completed for my New Year’s Day 2019 catch all super release of posts series… ha! So… it is understandably a collection of thoughts… stories… and, isn’t organized in any way. 


So… We Moved!

And.. that’s just the start of it.

It’s been forever… because the entire world changed since basically…… well, honestly SPRING of 2018 (this year). What’s happened?

  1. We had to solve some family affairs for some aging members.
  2. We needed to move.
  3. We needed to sell our condo.
  4. The companies I’m part of grew faster than we anticipated (awesome!).
  5. Kiddo started school.

So… yeah…… 2018… BUSY YEAR!


So, all this started by revisiting some family needs. If you’re an 80s kid like me, there are some family members that are getting older… actually, they are probably close to end of life if we’re being honest.

It’s truth. And, it’s not easy. There are some profoundly deep cultural elements rooted into my family situation; things that have also been lost to reason due to dementia. This… has become a passion point of mine — particularly as a doctor.

When a joint has disease, it hurts… doesn’t move so well. When you have a sinus infection, you get congested and nasty. When you have a stomach bug… you know what happens. But, what happens when your brain ages? When it gets some of its normal wrinkles… the neurologic “skin tear” as it were — well…. the person changes, their behavior changes, the window to their soul… changes.

This was the backdrop of us moving into and out of Spring of 2018 with undisclosed conditions to how to make for a best care situation for some family members.

As a result of this, and, that my companies were growing along with maturing core family situations… not to mention we outgrew our condo the moment Nathan was born — LOTS of changes were looming.


My memory first flashes back to our last night as a family in the only home we’ve known. The condo we’ve lived in for 8+ years is where I carried my bride into the threshold, where our son grew up, where he first walked… all the drama that happened throughout a near decade of living in a place (no matter how chaotic or cramped) one calls “Home.”

So… what did we do? SUSHI.

Sushi has been a tradition to us. It’s what we do when we celebrate. It’s very commonly how we celebrate New Years. It’s what my wife ate (the non-raw stuff) two nights before Nathan was born.

So, we sush’ed it up. Eating on the floor (since everything was packed for our move)… watching Back To The Future in an empty living room, with kiddo more into the movie than we were, LOL!

While watching this, Christina and I looked at each other marveling at how poetic the entire situation was.

A word of wisdom I’ve learned in my youth that I’ve taken as a proverb of sorts has been, “Stand in the shower of blessings.”

Things don’t grow just because… they grow because they are well situated for growth. This is actually related to a keynote I just gave (yesterday, at NARA Fall 2018 conference) on Leadership Innovation. People. Idea. Timing. You can’t control timing. You can change your ideas. And, you can grow your people. Nevertheless, in business, we are all subject to the timing of the marketplace. So, if you situate your company in good timing, you will always win.

Think on the natural environment. The Amazon forest isn’t a jungle “just because.” It’s the world biggest greenery because its in a place with good rain.


So, with all this happening… since Spring, we essentially needed to move out, fix up a place, take care of family business, and progress with our family life — all in 8 weeks. Which meant… we needed to stay in a hotel, AGAIN… for many weeks. We had already done this several rounds… particularly during that epic Father’s Day flooding in this condo that we were moving out of — wasn’t our fault by the way 😉

SO! Managing a housing renovation with all this drama happening… a moment hit me that I suddenly realized it was FOUR YEARS since my corporate management days. FOUR. YEARS.

I can’t imagine any other type of life than this — than a work at home dad. Now, that may progress as Nathan grows. But, the truth is that May 2018 was 4 years since I started this faith journey to build a life around my family to work at home.


I’ll be expanding on a few of these, but felt the urge to simply share some new personal developments:

  1. I’ve taken up a love for BBQ
  2. I took Nathan surfing for the first time this Summer
  3. I’ve experienced the sad irony of the “hopeful lightbulb bounce” – it’s a Sad Irony Moment To Share: During the housing renovation buildout, I dropped a lightbulb from a really high distance; it bounced perfectly off the ground without breaking… and, then… went up… and, then… went down to bounce again. Landing on the floor for the 2nd time from a fraction of the distance, my hope started to waver and then I saw the poor bulb shatter into 1 million pieces. So sad.
  4. Oh, upon moving in to our new home situation, we had a month WITHOUT BLINDS. So, mornings became early…. REALLY early.
  5. I’ve come to make time to think about life. And, this pondering has become truly significant as I’m in my mid-30s. I’m halfway to 70. And, what have I accomplished? How much more needs to be done? If some tragedy were to befall… would I have made a difference? Would I have made a significant impact on peoples LIVES??? Thoughts to think on.

Some words of wisdom, thoughts on relationships/parenting, and exhortations.

  • Encourage. Empower. Equip. This is how you grow your people.
  • There’s a distinction between what you value and what you prioritize.
  • Compromise is a situation where two ore more parties lose a bit less. Collaboration is when they gain a bit more.
  • “The struggle” in relationships isn’t romantic — it’s a RED FLAG. Relationships you fight for due to internal problems doesn’t make it worth it… it makes it forced and otherwise better saved for the movies.
  • Little things matter so much in life. Big things that happen for good or for bad typically come from many little things.
  • In relationships: The idea of someone is a fantasy. Be very careful about falling in love with the idea of someone vs. actually getting to know the real them. I love what my wife says, [paraphrased] The person you marry you should be wholly satisfied with if they were to never change or never grow beyond who they are on that day.
  • If you think someone is angry at you, or, so you think…Then don’t avoid it. Address it!
  • In life you have two choices, you can elevate your problems or your promises. Whatever you elevate, it will cover you.
  • Love, Life, and Learning : 3Ls in all positive relationships.
  • There are “Rs” in life: Reception / Reaction / Response / Relation / Revelation. How you receive the events in your life, how you plan and execute your response, how you relate in new ways…. all these reveal something deeply true about your character.
  • Character is the inner strength to do what’s right.
  • Know your Calling, and walk it daily. — know your truth, and live it out.
  • “Bad couples” tend to drag others down with them — they need for people to suffer with them, otherwise, they become that much more aware of their own failures.

A BIG REALIZATION…

This Spring/Summer of 2018 was truly a stressful time. We were living out of a hotel. We were selling our home. We were renovating our new place. We were growing the companies. THIS of all times, should’ve been a time that Christina and I turned on each other — we didn’t.

In fact, we learned this truth… admittedly, something my wife learned before I did:

Bragging about your spouse is one of the best things you can do for your relationship AND for others — everyone bags (not brags) on each other, not wanting to be the one happy couple when everyone else is suffering.

Which is better? Suffering together with no hope of change? Or, sharing positive experiences to encourage others towards better times?

We also discovered that the Victim’s Mentality is one of the worst things ever. “It’s not my fault.” “It’s not my responsibility.” “It just happened to me.” “You don’t understand.” — it’s the grown up childish version of when parents “Because, I said so.” It’s no way to live life. If you’re in this type of situation, you’ve GOT TO BREAK FREE.


In any case, there’s much more to come. I have literally 5 other post tabs open that I need to wrap up (now, done) — which have been conveniently released as a singular batch on New Year’s Day 2019. The one I’m most excited about is the surprising similarities of an Executive MBA and homeschooling. Say whaaaaaaaaat????? #NotSoPopularPossiblyTooRealThoughtsComingSOON


LAST THING… promise.

 

FIN & Happy New Year!