What Can Inspire You?

I hope to inspire you in any way. I can’t claim to be a great teacher, but I have been able to give back so much by giving others ideas, skills and opportunities to see what they can be and do. When I was 16 I was told, “Be an inspiration to everyone.” It was this quote I live by today: Never stop trying to prove that you can do and be anything. And always remember, every day is an opportunity. When someone gives you an unexpected gift or when you witness something you’ll never forget you can’t wait to share it.

It’s a mantra from physicians, sleep experts and other health professionals we’ve come to expect: Teenagers are short on sleep. This lack of sleep contributes to a range of problems, including poor decision-making and reduced academic performance. As a result, widely accepted guidelines for teens include getting in nine hours of sleep per night.

While these days it seems like it is not just teenagers who are short-sighted, so are many adults. We are not just at the extreme edge of the normal, we sometimes have no idea of the norm. In fact, in some domains, it’s considered abnormal to be normal.

My wife, Lisa, has a PhD in education. We’ve been married for over 29 years. When she turned 60, in August of 2017, she decided it was time to find a new career. She needed something she could do all day, every day — that she was passionate about, and that was not a part time job that she would have to work over 40 years to complete. By the age of 80 she had already published 25 academic articles on education. She also had the title of Professor but wanted a full-time tenure track position with more career-span. To make this happen she had to sell our home in Colorado and find a new job.

To some, this might not seem like too big a deal. Yet this decision was a financial necessity. Not only was Lisa selling her home which was in the middle of a beautiful canyon area where she enjoyed hiking, hunting and hunting birds as a child but she had to leave some of her property because the property was needed for renovations. This was done with the support of our kids, who were also a problem.

To make this happen, Lisa needed time to travel and she could not do it alone. In addition to a new job and new retirement plan (thank you, Roth IRA), her partner and sons had to be involved. This was all complicated with the health insurance, which she managed for a few years after moving to Arizona. These issues were beyond Lisa’s strength. No self-respecting middle-aged woman wants to let her partner and son take care of her on her own — at least not without giving her the support she needed to work and stay healthy.

When Lisa and I first got married, before we began to talk about this, we had an agreement that we would make it work. I had no clue, while Lisa told me everything that had gone on in her career that needed to happen. This is where we differed and where we fell short. Lisa had already spent a large chunk of her life in academia. She was a highly ranked professor in a highly rated program and earned millions of dollars in teaching and research. She had a life, friends, an expensive home in an expensive area (where it gets very cold there), and three kids.

I grew up in an environment where, when my father was laid off in the late ’70s, he ended up taking one of our jobs. My whole family worked, but my Dad worked at night to be close to us. I worked so I could go to school at night and come home at 7:30 a.m. Every day was different (for the rest of my life) — I went through many different jobs and a lot of different schools.