Thursday, October 25, 2007

For Charlie, On His 4th Birthday - By Director Dana Glazer

My elder son, Charlie, turns Four tomorrow. Honestly, I really can’t believe it. He’s such a big boy now. It seems like almost yesterday that I was racing back to Jersey from the Hamptons Film Festival after my wife called me to share that Charlie had decided to arrive five weeks earlier than his due date. As it turned out, I could’ve gotten there by turtleback and still made it in time as Charlie was born Nineteen hours later.

Every birthday since I’ve written a letter to Charlie on his birthday and this year I thought, given the theme of the film, it would be fun to share the note here as well as read it aloud to him as I typically do. So, here goes…

Dear Charlie,

Wow! Your mother and I can’t believe you are now Four years old and we are so proud at how wonderful a person you’ve become. So much has happened this past year. You can speak better than some adults I know. You finally got the hang of the toilet this past Spring and now you don’t even need a potty seat to sit on it properly. You’ve made some good friends at school, like your buddies Matthew and Zachary and Lily. You’ve figured out how to share and also how to stand up for yourself when needed. You’re learning to be a good brother to Jamie and your patience with him is greatly appreciative. You can walk all around town without the need for a stroller. You can ride a big boys bike with training wheels. You can tread water all by yourself! This has been a big year for you.

Charlie, we’ve also been very excited by your fascination with all things mechanical. You have shown cleverness and creativity - things that will serve you well throughout life. One thing I remember your doing this past year was coming up with the idea of playing the radios in both your room and Jamie’s, shutting those doors, sitting in the living room and toggling the baby monitor from channel “A” to “B” as if you were a disc jockey. Recently I observed how you took your Velcro wallet and slipped your hand through it to make it into a wristband. You’ve always been into buttons and how things work but to demonstrate an ability to use your imagination like that is really wonderful. I’m not sure where you are getting this from, but my guess at this point is you have an engineering mind like your mother’s father. It’s so wondrous to fathom what you get from where. Your tunnel vision focus is definitely from me – a double-edged sword as you can already see – as is your boisterous lack of volume control – something I’ve always had to work on.

It’s been such a joy finally getting to watch some of my favorite movies with you. Seeing your reaction to viewing The Yellow Submarine was such a thrill for me. I love hearing you sing all of those songs. Sitting with you thru The Red Balloon was equally special and I can’t wait to take you to see it in a big movie theater – something I’ve been looking forward to doing with you since the day you were born.

There’s nothing better than having you come into our room at 7am (no earlier!) giving me a big hug and kiss and saying, “Good morning, Daddy, time to wake up.” Spending mornings sitting on your bed, with Jamie sucking on a bottle and your resting next to me as we read a book is something I know I’ll miss when you and your brother are older.

A week or so ago, as we were getting into the elevator of our building, I had this flash of what you will look like when you are a teenager. The amazing (and frightening) thing is that the way time is moving along, you’ll be there in no time.

I love you, my beautiful son. Hoping you have a terrific birthday to remember. May you always be so blessed.

Love always,


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My #1 Life's Lesson - By Guest Contributor David Bohl

I was recently asked by Dana Glazer to write about something I've learned through my experience as a father.

This really got me thinking, as I've learned so much throughout my years of making mistakes, correcting them, learning from them, and attempting to change my habits and behavior to create a better life for myself and those around me.

This personal reflection has awakened memories in me of the one thing I need to remember each and every day. Let me share it with you.

I'm a pragmatist, and I need to keep things in proper perspective, so here's my perception:

Fatherhood, and life, is much closer to The Sopranos than to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. And they're much different from the epiphany experiences many self-help books would have you believe are happening to everyone who reads them, except you.

I am a voracious consumer of personal development books. I love them, and am constantly reading them. But I have noticed a pattern in these books. They tend to be about “how horrible my life was, what happened (my big epiphany) and how great things are now.” I think that kind of self improvement literature can be a little discouraging to many people – those who don't have the big epiphany, and those who thought they had done everything as instructed, experienced the success they worked for, and then found themselves struggling in the some area of their lives.

And I don't think that's how things really are.

Looking at my entire life, as a father and in every other area of my life, I have a great life.

After spending a recent weekend with my wife and now-grown kids, simply practicing my deepest family values - I found myself wondering how my life could get any better.

But there are problems I continue to struggle with. I didn't suddenly have a big awakening, stop struggling with that area, and have a great life from then on.

I do have a great life. It continues to be great. But there are always areas that need more work, and when I smooth them out and that area gets to be what I want, then I keep going. It's not that I don't grow and improve. I do. It's that there's no sudden point at which everything transforms.

Which brings me back to Extreme Makeover and The Sopranos. The end of each Extreme Makeover show brings about this unveiling of a great new life, something completely different and unexpected.

But that's not really how life is. There is no series of before and after pictures to compare and contrast, nor the changing of an ugly-duckling life into that of a swan.

Life is much more like Tony, Carm, Meadow, and A.J. Soprano.

If you were a regular Sopranos watcher, you may have expected the final episode to end in all sorts of unimaginable bloodletting, despair, and, well, finality.

But it didn't. The last few minutes of the show was filled with tense moments that, if you were like me, kept me on the edge of my chair in anticipation of something grand that could occur at any second. You and I examined every character in that scene and reviewed every event that took place and every relationship twist and turn that occurred in the years that The Sopranos were on HBO. You played out tens and hundreds of different scenarios in your head.

And when the TV screen went blank while the family was gathering at a local diner, you, like me, felt that something went wrong with the cable/dish signal.

So what happened to the Soprano family in the show's final episode?

Nothing. Life went on – period.

The Sopranos seldom gave viewers what they expected. Similarly, life is seldom what I expected, and that's the lesson that I must remember every single day of my life.

The only expectation that always becomes reality in my life is that things change. No matter how hard I work to become a better husband, father, friend, and member of the community, life happens despite my best-laid plans.

There's no 'secret' to life, nor final destination to great relationships, success, happiness, and fulfillment. Life is a journey.

When I accept this fact, and make every effort to learn and grow throughout my life - building patience, endurance, and persistence to deal with the obstacles and challenges seemingly thrown at me - my life will continue to be great. All I have to do is live – to be fully present - in each moment and enjoy the journey. These feelings (I call them the 4 As) of being Awake, Alive, Aware, and in Awe will continue to nurture me and those around me.

(Lifestyle Mentor, Personal Coach, Author, Educator, Entrepreneur and Dad, David B. Bohl is the creator of Slow Down FAST. For more info go to: and visit his blog at

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Lessons in Forward Thinking - By Director Dana Glazer

It's always a good day when I can say that I have gained a fresh perspective on the project. This morning, Jessica DeGroot from Third Path granted me such a perspective.

You know it's easy to look at where we are presently and think that we are so much more improved than we ever were. It's our society's predilection for the latest/newest/state-of-the-art that drives this perhaps. I can remember growing up and thinking that somehow my generation and I were somehow innately smarter than previous generations - that we had a handle on technology like no one before us. (That's what a lot of TV marketing, video games and an unhealthy emphasis on youth can do for kids, I suppose.)

And so it stands now that my generation would like to think that we are so much more 'evolved' as parents than our parents had been for us. I mean, forget about childcare and consider what we were eating back then (I remember thinking that 'artificially flavored' was somehow a good thing!) or that it was a good idea to squeeze as many kids into the back of a station wagon as possible (not to mention my sitting on the arm rest in the front seat when driving with my grandparents!) God only knows what our kids will be doing with our future grandkids in the name of leading healthier lives that goes against what we're doing with them right now.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's extremely easy to look at where we are in time and congratulate ourselves too much about what we're doing as parents and all the state-of-art things we're utilizing to do (Organic food and Mozart for babies anyone?) The technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it's hard to see what things will really be like in 20-30 years just as no one in the seventies could have foretold the pervasiveness of the internet. Undoubtedly, these technological advances will have a deep impact on the family unit in ways we can't even imagine now.

Which brings me to my conversation with Jessica DeGroot, who seems to have an insightful grasp as to where we are at in the evolutionary process of balancing work and family and a good hint at how, technologically, things are shaping up. I was asking Jessica about what companies stand out now in regards to better balancing work and family with their employees and she replied that, while there are some companies doing some good things in this regard, it's still very much a pioneer effort, led by a few business leaders who are "at the blackboard, still trying to work the math."

Now, what was really insightful for me was Jessica talking about how these business leaders are learning to "manage technology in a more creative way." In other words, these pioneers are striving to utilize the current technology to help create a more balanced work/family arrangement. Presently, we are at a transitional point between the industrialized age and the informational one. This is having a massive influence on how work is structured as so much more can be done by satellite than ever before. Companies are having a tough time making this transition because they are structurally so entrenched with older models of operation (ie. large headquarters, face time and having flex time be an exception than the rule for employees.) As Jessica sees it, new and innovative models for employees in companies "is the future."

Technology is forever a double edged sword. It can bring us all together in unique and previously unimagined ways (consider this blog - something I would never have conceived doing a year or so back) or it can subsequently be used to further dehumanize and compartmentalize people. It's in what one does with it, of course. Technology can never replace direct human contact, but using it to extend out to more and more people, while also making sure to maintain real physical interactions - aka "managing technology" - that's a good hint as to where everything, in the best of ways, is heading. Thank you, Jessica.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Evolution of Dad in TIME MAGAZINE!

It's always good to see one's project in print in one of the biggest magazines out there. If you've got a hard copy of the latest Time Magazine (with the breast cancer cover) check out the very end of the "Fatherhood 2.0" article and there's a small plug for the film with a link to some exclusive video content we did for the magazine.

Check it out!

From what I gather, the article was supposed to be the cover story and when the editors decided to go with breast cancer, the dad story got cut in half, with our inclusion landing on the editing room floor. Oh well. However, the reporter who interviewed me and Dallas, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, did the honorable thing by making sure we were 'touted' in the actual magazine and then featured in her Time online blog. Hats off to you, Lisa!

And by the way, regardless of not being included in the body of the article, it really is one of the better pieces out there about what's going on with dads. Lisa and her collaborator did their homework and it shows. Check the article out.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Invisible New Dad - By Director Dana Glazer

It's fascinating to me how the media keeps playing the same stories over and over again relating to dads. Just this week, there's a spate of them in Newsweek. The continuing themes are:

-At home dads are still referred to as "Mr. Mom" in the headings.
-Todays dads are a bit more involved with their kids but still lagging behind moms in every department.
-There's a societal confusion about what defines the role of dad and a paradox regarding the expectations about childcare and breadwinning.

Are these articles really focusing on an actual social shift in the role of dad or are they just placating the feelings and frustrations of their female readership?

Socioligist/Author Michael Kimmel wrote in an article about how only the disenfranchised are truly aware of the disparities in life - that if one is in an empowered group, social disparities that they don't face are invisible to them. In other words, if you're short, you're more aware of tall people. If you're black you're more aware of others who are white. If you're poor, you may be insecure around people with money.. Now, obviously, these are broad generalizations, but I think there's some truth in this perspective.

How this relates to dads is that, for many men, the struggles that their wives endure are somewhat invisible to them. For so many men, the notion of bringing home a paycheck is all defining. Our culture perpetuates this by its focus on maximum productivity and efficiency. Dads may want to be spending more time with their kids but the larger cultural message is that they need to be more committed to working longer hours out of the home. There may be some guilt involved regarding the desire to be with the family more, but given how stringent most companies are about giving 150% to the job, most men (and some women) don't want to jeopardize their jobs by demanding a more balanced approach to work/family. So, for most dads, they just settle into workaholic mode, convincing themselves that this is what they're supposed to be doing. And why shouldn't they feel this way? Their companies and co-workers support this message. Our free market culture supports this idea. This is what their dads did before them. Their wives may be frustrated but that's just the way it is. And so, for so many dads, the larger issues are somewhat invisible. (For the dads more aware of these issues, the likelihood is that they are single dads, stay-at-home dads and divorced dads, who have been given a taste of being with the kids or who are the sole care for their kids or who are legally restricted from seeing their children.)

With all this in mind, my goal is to create a movie that doesn't just connect to those who are aware of these issues but to those who it's been invisible to; for only when more dads get a taste of how much more fulfilling their lives and their family's lives would be if there was a greater balance between family and work - as well as illustrating practical creative solutions to achieving this - can any change ever really occur.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Third Path - By Director Dana Glazer

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking with Hanne Weedon from a Philly-operated organization called Third Path. What she and Third Path stand for is directly aligned with one of the main issues I'm covering in the film: how to get dads more involved with their families by finding creative solutions to the balance of work and family.

Third Path's grassroots approach is to create a support network for families that are seeking to balance work and family. One of their methods is to collect stories of creative approaches different families have taken. They are also putting together a dad seminar, which will happen next fall.

Talking with Hanne, it's so abundantly clear how removed our free market consumer culture is from the values of really emphasizing the family. By demonstrating positive examples of how some people are able to navigate work/family is extremely inspiring and certainly what I intend to include in our film.

It was such a pleasure speaking with Hanne and I'm so excited to hopefully include them and some of the families they represent in the film. For more about third path, visit