A Look Ahead…2013

2 Timothy 1:7Gini Dietrich shared her 2013 Business and Personal Goals with you yesterday and it motivated me to share with you my personal goals for 2013.

If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that 2 Timothy 1:7 is my personal Bible verse for 2013. The idea of not living in fear but with “power, love and self-discipline” covers every aspect of my life…both relational, physical, mental, and professional giving me the motivation to try new things this year and experience things that quite frankly would normally scare the heck out of me!

So here we go…below are some of the goals I’ve set forth for myself. I’m asking for your help in holding me accountable and seeing how I do!

I’ve run but never 26.2 miles and not even 13.1 miles. Ever since I’ve lost over 30 pounds in a contest at my kids’ school, I’ve been more motivated to make this change to my body last and become a lifestyle so why not use the lighter body to run a marathon! And I’m not just running a marathon for myself. I decided after watching the story of the Pokot Tribe in Kenya that I needed to run with purpose. The purpose being to raise money so that these people can have access to the most basic need that we often take for granted…clean water. I’m hoping after watching the video below, that you will consider helping me reach my fundraising goal of $2000. Who knows, if I hit it I may just raise it!

This has been a big one for me over the last year. I’ve finally got my head wrapped around the idea of it but I haven’t quite figured out how our family will be act on it. Is it foster care? Is it adoption? Is it foster to adopt? Either way, I know that there are children out there that do not have the benefit of parents to love them and lead them and participate in their lives. Why can’t I, who lives in one of the wealthiest countries in the world spare an extra room in my home (which by some standards is a mansion in other countries) and care for the least of these? More to come on this one but certainly something that I will hope to act on very soon.

I can always do better here. I can be more intentional with the time with my wife and kids. I can give my kids goals to strive towards that will help them at school, on the teams they play on, and provide them with a foundation to be the leaders I pray they can be. I can put aside the busyness of life and make sure to date my wife. Besides my faith, my relationship with her is the next most important relationship I’ll ever have in life. Why not set that example of marriage for my kids so they know how they should treat their spouse and how their spouse should treat them.

There are other goals for this year but these are the big ones. I found that I won’t have success unless I write them down. Something I learned in my weight loss…track everything and measure yourself against your goals regularly. So now I ask you to hold me accountable. If I can stick to these with 2 Timothy 1:7 as my motivation, I hope I’ll be able to look back fondly on 2013 but more importantly motivate others to look at their own lives and goals and live in power, love and self-discipline instead of fear and timidity.


Mother’s Day

As another Mother’s Day approaches I wanted to take a moment and honor the women that play such a huge role in the lives of our families today.  As many of you know, my mom passed away in 1990 and as I now go into my 22nd year without her, I know her spirit lives on through me and my kids.  I’m also lucky enough to be married to a woman that also shares a lot of the same qualities my mom had growing up.

For Julianne, you are totally appreciated and at least I know I don’t tell you that enough.  You are loved by me and your kids even though at times it may not feel like it.  You are beautiful and each day I find myself appreciating how lucky I am to have you at my side.  So thank you…thank you for all you do and for you who you are.  I know that for at least this family, having you a part of this Reyes clan has been a blessing to Gina, Joshua, Jessica, Luke and me (even the dog, cat and fish)!

For the rest of you moms, Scott Stratten shared this on Twitter tonight and I just had to share it.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!  Enjoy your day!

P.S. I’m glad I’m a “real man”…check out the video and see what I mean. 🙂


Coca-Cola Where Will Happiness Strike Next?

I came across this little nugget from a work e-mail I received today and just had to share for the following reasons:

  1. It’s about the Philippines
  2. It’s about Coke
  3. It’s about the real meaning of Christmas

As we get closer to December 25th, I’m hopeful all of us realize that our families are our greatest gift.  More important than any “thing” we get.  The memories of families are what last and not what we got back in 1982.

Think Different

This video has been making its way around the interwebs today in honor of Steve Jobs and his resignation at Apple.  There isn’t much to be said about the ad.  As I continue on in my career in digital marketing, I’ll always look for ways to challenge “the way we’ve always done it” and “because our metrics and analytics indicate this.”  It’s not because I don’t find value in what was done before or analytics, but because in this ever changing landscape of technology and digital, sometimes there aren’t past examples and analytics to support something that’s never been tried before.

As I look at my family and especially my children, I’ll challenge them to always think differently so they can be life long discoverers and learners.  “Learn from my mistakes” will still be a valuable teaching tool but allowing them to “fail forward” will just be as valuable especially because they will experience things that Julianne and I never did as kids.

For now, I wish Steve Jobs the best on his new life.  I sincerely hope his health isn’t the driving force behind this move and that now he’ll be able to spend more quality time with his family.  Good luck, Steve!

A Camping We Will Go

Our family is about ready to head to our yearly visit to Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp in Onekama, MI.  Our kids just finished a week at Spring Hill Day Camp.  I mention this to you because, as a parent, there is a huge value in sending kids and family to a summer camp.  What’s even better (in my opinion) is if you can send them to a Christian camp.  Take a look at the following video.  I’m amazed at the statistics!  If you’re a parent, consider sending your kids to camp!

Source: www.kidsneedcamp.com

A Father’s Day Poem from John Wooden

Don Cousins spoke at Kensington yesterday.  If you don’t know him, he is the father of Michigan State University quarterback, Kirk Cousins who also gave an awesome message as he reflected on things he learned from his father.  This was a great example for dads everywhere to remember our kids are watching every move we make and every thing we say.  Dads, be a leader to your kids.  If you do, you’ll see the influence you had on them as they grow and mature.

A careful man I want to be,
A little fellow follows me;
I do not dare to go astray
For fear he’ll go the self-same way.

I cannot once escape his eyes.
Whate’er he sees me do he tries.
Like ME he says he’s going to be –
That little chap who follows me.

He thinks that I am good and fine,
Believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see;
The little chap who follows me.

I must remember as I go
Through summer suns and winter snows,
I am building for the years to be –
That little chap who follows me.

出生證明書 – Chūshēng zhèngmíng shū – Birth Certificate

It hit me once again 7 months ago, when I was staring at Emma’s birth certificate and I couldn’t understand a single word on it.

Let me start by saying that I am Spanish and that my second daughter, Emma, was born in Shanghai, China. So, no, I don’t understand my own daughter’s birth certificate. It is written in Chinese characters.

Because of my job, I have lived and worked, and therefore, had permanent addresses in Madrid (Spain), Stockholm (Sweden), Zurich (Switzerland), Miami, FL (USA) and now Shanghai (China).  My first daughter, Olivia, was born in Miami in 2008. And my second daughter, Emma, was born in Shanghai in 2010. These 2 little ladies have already been to more places in the World that many of my adult friends. How cool is that?

Apart from the fact that Olivia has dual citizenship (Spanish – American) and that Emma has her birth certificate written in Chinese traditional characters, there are so many great things about raising a kid in such an international environment.

  1. Although it is a tough thing to do over and over again, moving places and meeting new people makes them more adaptable and flexible. Also more social. Olivia never had a problem making new friends and she is quite open, social and interactive with other kids. I believe this trains a kid to be more resilient.
  2. They are growing up surrounded by kids from all over the World, which will make them used to interact with other cultures, races and backgrounds from an earlier age. I believe this is critical in fighting against intolerance and racism, which are rooted in ignorance and lack of exposure of individuals to others that are different.
  3. I have to admit I drool in admiration (and envy) when I listen to Olivia speak Spanish, English and Chinese words and phrases. Some say that multilingual environments slow down a kid’s ability to start talking. While it might be true (not in Olivia’s case though) we all eventually learn to talk, so whether you are fluent and articulate at 2 or at 3 doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you have already programmed in your language skills learning ability the basics for more than one language. We will probably be leaving China before Olivia is fluent (she is not even 3), so she will probably forget all she learns, but if she picks it up again in the future, I believe it will be much easier for her.
  4. Olivia is developing the ability to make friends that will live around the World, and thus, building an International network of friends around the World. Who knows, one of her childhood friends might become the president of some country. All good contacts to have…

It also comes with great responsibility. When making professional decisions on what assignment to take next, now I have to factor in my family’s well being too. So in addition to evaluating the new job and remuneration package, I now have to consider things like the quality of International schools, language spoken, weather conditions, outdoor activities… Things that didn’t play a big role when I made decisions on where to live next back when I was single but that now are as important, or sometimes even more, than the actual content of the job or the compensation package.

Obviously, there are some drawbacks.

  1. The distance with the (extended) family. Every kids needs to be spoiled by their grandparents and in a Latin society like mine, staying close to your family is a core component of a child’s development. It is hard for my daughters’ grandparents to only see them once or twice a year.  But it is also hard for me and my wife to be missing out on many things back home. Thanks to the Internet and technologies like Whatsapp, Skype and Picasa, we stay in virtual touch. It is fascinating how these things suddenly become a core part of my daughters’ life.  At the end it is a trade off. But what in life isn’t?
  2. Moving from one country to another is a traumatic event. And not only because of all the things you have to sort out, but also because of the friends you leave behind. And for a kid, this can be even more traumatic. Saying good bye to good friends, having to adjust to new schools…
  3. Kids that are brought up in this ever changing environment are probably more likely to end up having a similar lifestyle, which means that, as my parents and parents in law are suffering from not spending time with their kids and their granddaughters, we will end up living apart from our kids.

Some American friends that might be reading this might think all this sounds familiar. I have learnt to appreciate the Americans in their resilience and their adaptability. They are more used to moving  from place to place than the average rest of the World. But this is not that common for Latins and other societies where the extended family is at the very core, and having your family members scattered around the World is a very hard thing to deal with.

All in all, I believe that, as my daughters have given me the best gift a man can receive, I am giving them back the gift of traveling around the World, learning languages, making lots of friends and, ultimately, making them more diverse, open, resilient and, hopefully happy.

I met Jaime at SXSW this year.  Although he currently works on the other side of the world, I feel like I’ve gotten to know him through our conversations on Twitter.  The man is a world traveler and there is a part of me that is a little envious of all the things he’s been able to experience.  Not many people can say they have been in 35 countries through work and vacations!  One thing I know for certain is that Jaime is father who is passionate about his kids and I’m so glad he is here to give you his thoughts on raising a family abroad and away from family.  You can follow Jaime on Twitter at @jaime_del_valle, check out his blog and connect with him on LinkedIn.  Thanks, Jaime!