Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wicke Family Christmas Greeting

We begin our Christmas greeting by sharing some inner workings of the Wicke household. Inevitably our December starts with a discussion along these lines:

Laurel: What are we going to do about our Christmas card picture this year?

Thomas: I don’t know, what do you think?

Laurel: I really want to get a nice family picture taken.

Thomas: Yes, that would be nice….

-two weeks later-

Laurel: Honey, you have GOT to get on the Christmas letter and we never got the picture taken.

Thomas: I know, I am going to write the letter. I will think of something for the picture…

Since we’ve been married for twenty years now, such trivial things rarely erupt into an argument but there is no doubt that Laurel’s concept of the ideal Christmas picture is more than what I was able to produce with my remedial Photoshop skills. That being said, the moustache craze is sweeping the nation and we decided to have some fun with it. Much to Laurel’s chagrin, the children were enthusiastically behind their dad’s idea. So, if you find yourself thinking, “wow that family has a rather distinguished look to them” or if the word “debonair” came to mind when our card arrived you will recognize the power of subliminal messaging. In the end, we just wanted to bring a smile to your face (by bringing a moustache to ours) and whisker you a Harry Christmas! Don’t get us started! 

So we stubbled, I mean stumbled, into another year of change but have gotten our feet underneath us after our transition in 2012. In February I received my own campus and began oversight of Everest College, Torrance. I grew to love the faculty, staff and students very quickly and felt like I found a second family. The smaller campus gave me a chance to learn all the details of the position. The 75 minute drive each way on the famed 405 freeway was the only unfortunate element of my job. It would have been nice to shave this off (the drive, not the moustache) but both Laurel and I are finding that driving is very much a part of Southern California culture. A frightening reality when we realize Logan is only four years from driving. Just about a month ago, my commute and my position took an unexpected change as I was asked to take over the much larger and much closer Anaheim campus. I left my Torrance “family” and engaged in new challenges. I look forward to making a difference here.

We might not qualify as an educated family but we are definitely an educational family. Hence the “Wicke Academy” reference. Unlike the fake moustaches, the job descriptions have some validity to them. I may be president of a school and Laurel really is a teacher but she fills every one of those “unofficial” roles in the laboratory that is life. After teaching music and literature at Carden Hall she begins her second shift whiskering Logan to young women’s or Griffin to gymnastics. Her constant shadow is Lincoln who loves being with his family unless they engage in some unappreciated behavior whereupon he is quick to declare “your fired” or proclaim “your ruining my life.” Laurel keeps our family running between Newport and Mission Viejo. She was able to chaperon the 8th grade for the second time on their trip to France this past summer. Carden offered Laurel a full-time position which allowed us to move Logan and Griffin to this amazing school where, along with an amazing character based curriculum including daily French, music and school uniforms, their mother teaches a few doors down the hall. Attending such a school is a blessing we never could have foreseen.

Our family travels provided many memories as we spent two weeks on the east coast. We saw much of Washington D.C. and mastered the Metro when our hotel turned out to be a bit more distant than it seemed from the online travel site. A private tour of the Capital building, the Smithsonians and the Newsuem were favorites (although walking to and from them was not). We spent a day at Mount Vernon, a day at Jamestown and then several in colonial Williamsburg. These all made an impression on Logan and Griffin but Lincoln was most taken by the many hotel pools we frequented at the end of our long days. We spent a few more relaxing days with dear friends in North Carolina before returning to home sweet home and afternoons on the beach at Newport or Laguna. We live in a magical place and a prosperous era, to be sure. Not everyone is entirely satisfied with our condition, however. Lincoln, now four years old, is very aware of our proximity to Disneyland and is growing more dismayed with his parents who have not yet provided him opportunity for entrance to the “happiest place on earth.” In disgust he finally declared, “I keep asking and asking and no one will take me!” Somehow he has been blessed with a personality big enough to compete with his older brother and sister. There is rarely a dull or quiet moment in our home. Rather than reading more of my ramblings, I have included several pictures (below) showing some of the activities of the past year.

Somehow life seems to continue at an ever increasing pace. At times… no, very often, we feel like we can’t keep up. As we enter the thick of life we continue to be amazed how quickly it is passing by. Our failure to stay connected to our friends and family as frequently as we would like is not our intention and we beg your forgiveness. We are weighted down more than you know when we hear of your struggles and sadness’s. Your successes bring great satisfaction and happiness to us. We love you and we cherish the experiences we have shared with you. Life is about people because people make our life meaningful. You make our life meaningful. At this Christmas time we thank God for the gifts of family and friends. Laurel and I are better people, we are a better family, because of your influence. Our home continues to be open to you whenever you can come to visit and our hearts are open all the other times. May God bless you this season and throughout the year. We boldly proclaim our devotion to the Savior, who is the central element of this celebration:  Christmas!  God knows you, He knows your challenges, your fears, your hopes and the things that will come upon us in 2014.  We are his children.  We cannot understand the depth of love a perfect Father has for his little ones but we are secure in the reality of these things.  This simple statement of faith in God is our gift to you at this time of the year.
All our love,
Thomas, Laurel, and family

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who I am, because it matters most

It has been nine months since my last post...  If I am honest with myself it is likely that another nine months will pass til my next one.  As it is, blogging has become something of an obsolete practice.  Tweets, texting, Pintrest and other venues have relegated blogs to the dust heap of social media.  Wow, that was fast.  I can't imagine what the next nine months will bring.  I feel like I might as well be sending a telegraph for how quickly things change.

So be it.  I figured if there is anything I could say that deserves to occupy the "front page of my blog" during my semi-planned blogging sabbatical, it is a personal message that goes to the core of who I am.  Any of my readers who explores a few entries will discover that I make no effort to hide my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Yes, I am a Mormon without apology and with great pride.  As such I am a Christian with evangelical resolve and fundamental commitment to the truths found in the Old Testament, the New Testament as well as the Book of Mormon and what are known as other volumes of continuing modern revelation.  I believe that God expects virtue in the lives of His disciples.  We are His children.  Everything including life itself comes from His benevolent hands.  My life is not mine, but is His to do as He requests.  He is developing me largely through challenges, adversity and existence in a mortal life that is built on faith rather than outright knowledge.  Our lives are played out in a larger context where good and evil are in full antipathy.  Each day in decisions large and small we demonstrate where our loyalty rests.  We can choose rewards of an eternal or a worldly nature.  We decide if our bodies are to be subject to the spirit or vice-versa.  Individual choice is supreme so we are to respect the personal choices of others should they decide differently than I.  At the same time, I am committed to oppose wickedness  and evil at every turn.  These beliefs and this spiritual-social-political stance often brings some discomfort in a secular world.  There is a growing rift between these perspectives and it plays out in many different areas. 

Much more could be said regarding these things, but for now I wish to publically declare, unapologetically, and without reservation that I am proud to be a believing Christian, particularly a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I am proud to stand in a larger community that includes my Jewish, Christian and Muslim friends who believe in a sovereign Supreme Being who expects moral discipline and spiritual allegiance.  There has been much said that is derogatory about the Latter-Day Saints, about our doctrine, our history and our culture.  I stand behind all of it from Joseph Smith to the holiness of our temple worship.  Jesus Christ suggested that you can tell the tree by the fruit it produces.  I invite my readers to spend ten minutes and inspect some of that fruit:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I'm back... with a happy thought

So I've been gone for a while....  Yes.  And there is no guarantee that I won't "go dark" again in the near future.  My life is entirely unpredictable except for the fact that I do not own my life anymore.  It belongs to my children, to my employer, to my house that needs a hundred things done... you get the picture. 

You may also think that I drifted away in a discouraged fog after the presidential elections of this past November.  I will not lie:  I was extremely disappointed.  But it is not in my nature to get discouraged.  If I am able to squeze a few minutes out of the coming days I will have more to say on the post-election reality.  For now, suffice it to say that all my previous postings are yet valid and I have significant trepedation for the direction of this country.  As a teaser, let me say that I am composing my predictions of events that will transpire during the next four years  -let's call it "predicting the United States of Obama".

For now, however, I want to share a thought provoking account of recent research.  As I've done in the past, I present this with a STRONG caution.  This summary is taken from a media write-up of the research and not from the published article itself.  The media has a tendency to sensationalize  (did I say "tendency"?  No, the media by its nature and constitution -inherant in its being and operation-  exaggerates and therefor mischaracterizes to a small or a large degree).  Hence this report most likely does not capture in complete fidelity the important details of this study.  Hopefully it sufficiently captures the core message.

Research show men with children are happier than those without
"New research in the journal "Psychological Science" find that overall, "parents (and especially fathers) report relatively higher levels of happiness, positive emotion, and meaning in life than do non-parents."
Of the three studies, the largest sample comes from 6,906 individuals collected between 1982 and 1999. It found that fathers and parents between ages 26 and 62 were happier, but not mothers, young parents and single parents. There were no differences in happiness between moms and women without children, but young parents and single parents were significantly less happy than childless peers,"

Of course the article continues with the usual caveates:  "The effect is small, but real," "Others disagree,"  "Psychologists are perhaps finding different things".  So take what you want.  Here are the points I find interesting:
1.  men with children are happier than men without children (at least at some minimal level of statistical significance). 
Reaction:  good for men!  Look at that, we are not as idiotic and hopeless as we may appear.

2.  your meaning in life increases with children.
Reaction:  Yes, because life is not about "you".  Jesus was right when he said if you want to find your life (i.e. purpose in life) you need to lose it (spend it in the service of others).  This is an invaluable lesson to a "me" centered society.

3.  young parents  and single moms were less happy than childless peers. 
Reaction:  Is anyone who has small children surprised?  No need for a study here.  Clearly children are one of the most profound examples of putting in work and sacrificing now for greater rewards later.

4.  moms (especially moms without a father in the home to help out) are the hardest working, most underappreciated and therefor exhausted and sapped of all life beings on the planet.
Reactions:  thank God (literally) for moms!  The perform the most heroic and underappreciated job in the world... and they are exhausted. Difficult to be happy when you are exhausted.  But when the children grow up and a child honors their mother by becoming a honorable and contributing member of society there is nothing to rival the satisfaction and happiness of a mother.

What do you take from this study?