OUR MUSINGS

What’s happened to kids’ sports?

I come from an athletic family. Growing up, the more sports we played, the better – it was fun. So it’s no surprise that I have an athletic son, who is approaching the age group where sports are getting more and more competitive.

And I’m nervous.

In this past week alone, I’ve talked to a parent thinking about sending his kids to boarding school, in hopes that they’ll get a scholarship to a division one school. Another parent whose 5th grader is at school or a sporting practice/event from 6:30 am to 8 pm every weekday, with multiple games on the weekends (many out of town) and is trying to figure out how to make time for private lessons. Another family whose child has spent close to a year at required practices and camps, and has already sacrificed spring break, just to try out for the sport he wants to play.

What is going on?

I get that we parents all have high hopes for our kids and want them to succeed wherever their strengths lie. But my expectations are simple: I want my child to be part of something, have a sense of accomplishment and above all, have fun. (And as he gets a little older, stay out of trouble!)

Through sports, he is learning skills such as setting goals and working toward them. Learning how to lose, and also learning how to win. Participating on a team where teammates and coaches count on you. Knowing what it’s like to be the best player on a team, and the worst. He’s being physically active and making lasting friendships. These build character, which he will carry with him through life after sports (which, realistically, is after high school, as the percentage of high school athletes that go on to play college sports is in the single-digit range).

So, I’m nervous that my expectations aren’t high enough. That I’m doing him a disservice by encouraging him to play sports for fun instead of scholarship potential. Giving him free time to play outside with his buddies instead of paying for extra coaching. Allowing him to be a kid.

And a little weather Haiku to brighten your day:

Spring. How you tease us.
60 degrees, then it snows.
Let’s get on with it.

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A woman’s place is everywhere.

By Leslie Galbreath 

International Women’s Day is an opportunity for the world to celebrate women’s achievements – and our achievements are many.

There are a great many women who have achieved a great many things in history, social movements, politics, business, science, engineering, education, the arts, communications, as daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, partners, friends, and the list goes on and on. Today we celebrate them.

We will always remember the names of Susan B. Anthony and Rosa Parks, Elizabeth I and Indira Gandhi, Hellen Keller and Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger and Marie Curie, Cleopatra and Amelia Earhart. We could never forget Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Tubman, Babe Zaharias, Charlotte Bronte, Clara Barton, Joan of Arc, Frida Kahlo or Mother Teresa. Margaret Thatcher, Sheryl Sandberg, Madonna, Hillary Clinton, Sandra Day O’Connor, Oprah Winfrey and Gloria Steinem have all blazed modern trails. These women are our history and the heroes who continue to inspire us today. Today, we celebrate them.

But who are the women who will inspire us tomorrow? Who will be our next heroes? What will they disrupt to give us a new and better way forward? What will they say that makes us think differently? What will they discover that changes the future? What will they believe that brings us all closer together? I’m excited to see them, to meet them, to learn from them, to know them. Today, we celebrate them.

And today at dgs, I celebrate the incredible team of women who delight me with their innovative ideas every day, move me with their compelling stories, astonish me with the beautiful art they create, humble me with their patience and fortitude, motivate me by keeping us moving forward and most of all inspire me to be a better person and hopefully a better leader. They are my heroes. Today, I celebrate them.

In the simplest terms, women make the world go round. Perhaps today, the world will notice. I hope it does.

Cheers to you Rebecca, Polly, Lisa, Betsy, Beth, Rachel and Mimi!

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A book, a movie, an album and a game

By Jim May

I’m endlessly captivated, moved and entertained by our capacity for creativity. Whenever I have the spare time to curl up with a book or movie, listen to an album or play through a video game, I’m a happy camper. In today’s world, I think we can all benefit from taking the occasional reprieve to sit back and appreciate the fruits of creative minds. To that end, here are a handful of items that have recently cheered or moved me. I stop short of calling them recommendations, as individual tastes vary so tremendously, but to me each of the following are wonderful.

John Dies at the End by David Wong
The internet’s democratization of writing as a profession has been great for writers of Twilight fanfic, poorly plotted wish fulfillment fantasies and romance novellas starring Bigfoot. Every once in a while, though, it also gives us something truly special that might not have existed in a previous era. John Dies at the End is one such gift. David Wong sporadically wrote and published the book online, one chapter at a time, developing a loyal group of followers who would print out the entire work in progress and pass it around to their friends and family. Eventually it gained enough traction to get officially published upon its completion. It’s essentially Douglas Adams interpreted by a Gex X’er brought up on horror flicks. In it, a pair of slackers receive a drug that opens their perceptions to untold horrors that remain unseen to the rest of the world. It’s clever with its plot, witty with its dialog and one of the few books I’ve read that made me continuously snicker out load while reading it. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I enjoy it immensely.

Arrival
Easily my favorite movie from the past year, Arrival is a welcome addition to the catalog of sci-fi movies that use a fantastical premise to keenly observe and comment on some aspect of the human condition. On its surface, it follows a linguist employed by the government to learn how to communicate with an alien race that’s arrived on earth. Beneath that, it’s a powerful commentary on love in general and the love a parent feels for their child in particular.

Painting of a Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
I’ve been a big fan of Frightened Rabbit for about a decade now and their latest is my favorite from them yet, as well as my favorite overall album from 2016. For those unfamiliar, they’re a Scottish band that’s probably safe to generally describe as specializing in upbeat songs offset by fairly depressing lyrics. They make it fairly easy to find yourself tapping your foot with a smile on your face while listening to tales of heartache, disappointment and disillusionment.

The Talos Principle
Probably the best puzzle-based game I’ve played, The Talos Principle positions you as an artificial intelligence that’s awakened in a digital ark built to contain the sum of human knowledge in case our race ever goes extinct. You navigate this environment by solving increasingly complex puzzles that unlock access to writings of philosophers and historical figures, works of art, records of the scientists who created the ark and contact with other a.i.’s in the system. The puzzles strike the perfect balance of being challenging but not overly opaque, and the story is consistently engaging as it unfolds.

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How my childhood experiences became valuable life lessons

By Alkis Marangos

People who are close to me know that I am not one to philosophize about life or try to find answers to life’s most complicated questions. I consider myself rather a ‘shallow’ guy who enjoys living in the moment and making the most of every day in this journey. I do, however, believe that what has defined my character and personality over the years are certain experiences and memories of my childhood years.  Every now and then I like to reflect back and recollect some of those childhood memories and try to understand how they have influenced me in creating some of my life’s most important values and rules.

 

Beach

 

Set goals to fulfill your dreams

Harvey Specter from the popular TV Series “Suits” said in an episode: “I don’t have dreams, I have goals.” Unlike Harvey, I like to have both.

There is a fine line between dreams and goals. When I was 10, I would dream of being a soccer player who is idolized by fans around Europe. That dream was rapidly shattered because of my lack of direction combined with a tad of laziness and my illusion that talent can make up for any hard work required.  It was a good lesson however that taught me much later in life that if I want to fulfill my dreams, I have to set goals, accompanied by objectives that would help me achieve my goals. When I set my objectives, I follow a few simple rules that have been so much discussed in many business textbooks, but often overlooked.

First and foremost, I write them down so I don’t forget them or lose direction. Secondly, I make them specific so that I always know what I am trying to achieve, and finally I make them measurable so that I can make myself accountable. Whether it’s a new client project, a work task, a New Year’s Resolution or a dream, I follow these little rules with my objectives. If nothing else, it helps me stay focused, be more productive and work efficiently.

 

You will be rewarded when you work hard

The 4am summer wake up calls as a young kid to go to the farm with my dad, and the natural progression as I grew older to spend summer days at my mother’s office to help with data entry are now just a distant memory. It was later in life that I realized that my parents’ persistence to do something productive with my summer vacations was not just about learning a few new skills. It was their way of instilling a culture and work ethic, and making me understand that good things in life will come when you put in the time and effort.

I always set the bar high and I like to push myself to the limits to reach the bar. Unfairly sometimes, I expect people around me to do the same. I think that this little push over the boundaries is what contributes to personal and professional development.

 

Do the little things that will give you peace of mind

It is true that life obligations increase at an exponential rate as you get older. The little carefree kid who dreamed to be a soccer player has grown to be an adult striving to lead a balanced life. To achieve that, there are a number of things that I do on a regular basis to keep me grounded. Every morning after breakfast I spend 10 minutes on the floor giving love to my two Chihuahuas. At lunch time, I Facetime with my parents to hear about their day and tell them about mine. At nights, I enjoy a glass of wine with my wife over a good TV show. After work, I spend time with my daughter trying to get some smiles out of her. During the day I check in over text messages with some of my best friends who are now a few thousand miles away. On the weekends, I religiously sit in front of my computer to watch my soccer team play. These are just a few of my personal moments that make my life so much less complicated, keep me happy and give me the necessary peace of mind to keep the balance that I need.

 

You have the strength to get up when you fall down,

All of us have fallen down at some point in our life; it’s inevitable. It could be a stressful day at work, a bad meeting, an argument or some sad news. What distinguishes success from failure is our ability to stand back up and chase our dreams.

In the summer of 1974, my parents with my then 3-year-old brother were forced to evacuate their home because of a Turkish invasion in the north of Cyprus. Within one night they became refugees in their own country, losing their house and belongings, and were stripped of their right to peacefully raise their family in the place where they grew up. What was not taken from them was their desire, passion and ability to make things work for their family. They moved countries to get jobs, they worked hard to climb up the career ladder, they sacrificed family and personal time to make sure that their family was not short of anything. They rebuilt their life and two houses; one that is only a few miles away from the ghost town of Famagusta and their still occupied house. 4 decades, 3 sons, 3 daughters-in-law and 4 grandkids later, they are a living proof that nothing is too major to get you down.

I only lived this experience through the vivid stories of my parents and grandparents but it was certainly one of life’s most valuable lessons; a lesson that taught me to remain calm during unfortunate circumstances and to always have the courage to stand up to my feet when I fall down. To use every bad experience to my advantage by asking myself what went wrong, how can I prevent it from happening again and how I can improve. But most importantly, it taught me to stay positive for the good things that will come in my life.

 

Become the change you want to see

Last but not least, I consider myself lucky enough to have been raised and influenced by two of the most important women in my life. My grandmother was one of the leaders for women rights in Cyprus, fighting for their right to a decent job and salary. My mother went from the struggle of landing her first job (because she was a married woman with children) to climbing the corporate ladder and becoming one of the first and most successful businesswomen in Cyprus; at a time where there were huge gaps of gender inequality.

I could not have been raised to act any differently; it is an unconditional rule in my life that every individual should be treated equally and with respect, regardless of gender, nationality or race. Regulations and policies that are in place only slightly contribute to the equality that each one of use deserves. The change that I want to see in this world comes from the little actions of each individual; the way we treat and talk to other people, the equal opportunities that we give them, the respect that we pay to them, the lessons we learn from their culture and background, the acceptance of their struggles.  Like Mahatma Gandhi said “We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

 

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