Life’s Too Short

Bob PinoI’ve been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. It’s been 5.5 years since he passed away from cancer, but that wasn’t the first disease he/we battled with in his life. The realization came to me the other day that he was my age when he was hit with Multiple Sclerosis. As a kid, I watched my Dad go from a guy I could kick a soccer ball with, to a hospital bed for 3 months, only to come out in a wheelchair for many years to come. In that time, they also determined he had diabetes that would require injections multiple times a day indefinitely.

My Dad was never accused of being “healthy” in any form. He did drugs for years, ate too much, didn’t exercise, was angry and yelled a lot. Too many things to pass off as just “being Italian.” Even so, being a child watching him have mobility, energy, dignity stripped from him, was heartbreaking. I had to be “the man of the house”. My Mom and I had to do everything. I mean how many kids are lifting their Dad in and out of bed, or the bathtub, or the toilet? How many are loading wheelchairs into the car, check the oil in the engine and air in the tires, etc? How many go from a fairly normal income to below the poverty line because their Dad no longer works and Mom can’t because she’d had to become his nurse? I don’t say this as a sob story, it’s just my childhood story.

What smacked me in the face is that he was MY AGE when this started! Whether his (reckless) life caught up with him or whatever it was, he was hit hard. Only later in life to see good progress in his MS but then get hit with cancer multiple times, finally leading to his 59 year old death.

What’s now on my mind? How unhealthy I am. There are things in life we can’t control, but food & beverage intake, exercise, how we handle our finances, etc are well within our power to control. I don’t want my kids to live the life I did. I don’t want them to have to grow up too fast. I don’t want them to lose me too early. Outside of my wife, Amy, they are the greatest blessing in my life.

So, will this all change overnight? Of course not. Can this change if I commit to consistency for my sake and their sake? Of course it can!

Before I end this, I do have to put the silver-lining on this cloud. In the last 10 years of his life, my Dad was a different guy in many ways. Most importantly, he took his KNOWLEDGE of God, Jesus, & Church and turned it into a RELATIONSHIP with them. While his physical body was failing, his spiritual one thrived. Silver-lining indeed.

I loved my Dad, even with all his shortcomings, because he was my Dad. But, I’m proud of my Dad, because his last decade modeled a committed life to his Creator. I can’t wait to see him one day in Heaven…without pain, sickness, and disease. BUT that day is going to be a long long time from now. I will not allow myself to undermine my health and my family’s future anymore!

If you read this whole post, thanks…but also, get back to whatever you should be doing . Life’s too important (& short) to stare at your phone all day! :)

Written by Andrew Pino

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5 Life Lessons My Kids Inspired

IMG_3387Today I thought I’d take a few moments and share 5 “life lessons” I’ve learned on my fatherhood journey with my own kids. They’re in no particular order, but certainly some our bigger struggles for folks than others.

So, here they are…

Live In The Moment
Sure, you need to be mature and plan for some things but that doesn’t eliminate the value of living in the moment. Another way to say it would be, Be Present. So much of the fun in life can be lost when we are worrying about what’s next, or worse, just have our face in our phones. Look up and live your moments to the fullest. We only get to do this once.

Play, Even If You Might Not Win
This isn’t something my kids come by naturally (nor does my wife for that matter), but it’s something important to teach them. Life isn’t just about you winning, it’s about those you interact with winning too. Life isn’t a zero-sum game. Be ok with others success and celebrate it with them. They are likely to do the same with you when your “wins” come.

No Matter How Old, Don’t Whine
Whining is one of those “from birth” kind of issues. We don’t have to be taught how to do it. From the age of a toddler, we complain if things don’t go our way. Unfortunately for many of us, we don’t shake that off as we get into adulthood. Big problem. Your friends, your coworkers, and especially your family aren’t interested in your whining fits. Try to gather yourself and present your issues/challenges in a way that empowers people’s support (and advice), not turns them off to your struggles because they can’t stand listening to you.

Run With Abandon
As we get older, we tend to slow down in everything. Motivation can become a struggle. In contrast, kids do everything at full throttle. There seems to be an endless supply of energy stored up in their little bodies. Now, I’m not saying we should be foolish and run headfirst into circumstances. But, perhaps we could find a bit more freedom in releasing some of the weight we’ve allowed to be stacked up on us (both from internal and external sources) and run our race with the energy and passion we once did.

Empty Your Tank
No, this isn’t going to be about using the bathroom before you leave the house. Although, lets be honest, it’s a great rule to live by! Here’s the context for “Empty Your Tank”: One of the things that cracks me up about my kids is how they can be “so tired” and need me to carry them up the steps, but when I put them down in their room they run and dive on their bed. What I love about it is, how they use up everything in their tank. Even when they’re “so tired”, they can still see something that motivates them and give it their last bit of energy for the day. Another way to think of this, is to “finish empty.” There’s something rewarding about ending a day, a week, a year…knowing you’ve given it your all. Imagine what that could feel like at the end of your life if you’d apply this principle now. What a legacy you could leave the next generation.

So, on the days that fatherhood is kicking your butt, look back at these 5 (kid inspired) life lessons and see if you can’t find the silver-lining in your beautiful little bundles of annoyance…I mean…joy. (I kid, I kid) Seriously though, see if you can’t glean some wisdom and perspective out of this awesome responsibility called parenthood you journey in everyday.

Written by Andrew Pino

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Busy Is Not Necessarily Better

Up Close and PersonalAre you overcommitted? Are you constantly running from one thing to the next, not sure when your next chance to sit down will come? Are you reading this on your third cup of coffee or red bull or whatever you stimulate yourself with to get through the day?

What happened to us? Why have we become a culture desperate to be busy? I’m all for being productive (I love it actually) but when did taking a breath or spending time with your family and friends, or simply sleeping 7-8 hours a night become a sign of weakness?

This speed train to burnout is not what we were created for! There’s no manual for life that says “run yourself into the ground, then you will know true happiness.”

If anything, the complete opposite is the case.

When the question of “what makes you happy?” is asked to people viewed as successful in life…the wealthy, the famous, etc…the response that comes back more often with genuine happiness is “spending time with the people I love” or “doing things for others.”

This isn’t just an utopian idea; that spending time with loved ones and/or doing things for others (giving of your time, money, etc) makes you happier. Study after study has proven that the chemistry of our brain and body are positively affected by it. (Come on people…it’s science!)

Seriously though, look at your life…what needs to change? Where do you need to cut things back, so you can focus on what’s important?

It won’t be easy to make these kind of changes. Anytime we do something that’s counterculture, we get pushback from others or at least perceive it. Don’t worry about what others are doing…for now. Get yourself straight. Get your time back and redeem it by investing it in the right places. Then you can work on helping others to do the same.

You get one chance at this life. One chance with your spouse. One chance with your kids. Don’t let busyness be a replacement for real relationship, investment, etc.

Written by Andrew Pino

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Not Another Resolution

AA017935Ah, New Years. It’s that lovely time of year where well intentioned resolutions, die a slow (or truthfully, fast) death as life rolls on. Can you relate?

I wish I could tell you that as I look back over the many years, I see nothing but completed objectives and fulfilled dreams. I wish I could say that every time I set my mind to it, I was able to change this habit or that behavior. Unfortunately, I know all too well the regret of leaving something incomplete.

What starts as a truly motivating desire to see improvement in a relationship, a project, a personal goal…ends in a “oh well, maybe next year” or worse “I wish I had stuck with it“.

Have I depressed you? I think I just depressed myself!

So, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to let 2017 be another year of the same old thing? Or, are we going to take this annual “reset” and be greater than our 2016 self?

If you’re reading this post and thinking, “I never keep the resolutions I set“, then let me throwout some ideas so you can tell your subconscious “it wasn’t my idea“…”I’m just doing what someone else suggested“. (Note: if that sounds ridiculous, then you haven’t ever had the internal dialogues that plague so many of us when it comes to motivating ourselves. I can motivate others, but sometimes motivating me to exercise or read a book or whatever, is like coaxing a donkey to climb up the Himalayas)

Alright, here are some suggestions that may help you on your way to becoming a better you in this new year:

  • Exercise 3-5 times per week. Everything stems from your health. If you are in better shape, you will think better, relate with people better, sleep better, etc etc.
  • Read 1 book every month. Might be easy for some, but for many it’s a daunting thought. Reading is a fantastic way to increase your mental capabilities, vocabulary, stimulate creativity, etc. (extra credit: read the bible weekly, if not daily. no other book can encourage you and challenge you all at the same time. the time spent in this activity is invaluable.)
  • Spend more time with good people. I mean the people that “give” life, not suck it out of you. Don’t surround yourself with gossips, negative thinkers, etc. Place yourself in an environment that lifts you up and gets the most out of you.
  • Speak life. In every situation, you have the opportunity to change the atmosphere. Speaking life into other people’s lives will encourage them (and you).
  • Give away money. Yeah, that’s what I said. Tithe at your church, give to missions organizations, donate to folks trying to adopt, etc. Giving away a portion of what you worked hard to earn is a transforming exercise in seeing the world beyond your small part of it.
  • Be a better leader. Whether you are a boss or an employee, you have the opportunity to be a leader. Start this year by being intentional with what you say, how you act, etc in the workplace.
  • Remember to breathe. Working hard is great, it’s awesome to accomplish a ton of stuff. However, that is not all that life is about. Take time (on a very regular basis) to chill out. Go for a walk, take a nap, go to the movies, roll around on the floor with your kids, take your spouse on a date…breathe.

Certainly not an exhaustive list, but hopefully one or a few of them have sparked something in you. (I know they have in me)

I wish you luck as you begin this year, desiring to live intentional. May the grace and peace of God be with you everyday.

Written by Andrew Pino

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