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The Calm before the Storm

Hello Everyone,


Happy President's Day. I'm so thrilled to have a three day weekend, but sad it's almost over. I would say this is a rather boring blog post, just something for me to do today before I head into a busy week. I'm just trying to stay consistent with putting what's on my mind on paper. Thank you for reading.


E40 Update - Registration Finally Closed :)


CLOSED = Name tags finally getting printed!


I'm going into my favorite state of being. It's the Laser Focused, Project Manager mode from now until the end of the E40 birthday conference. This means at the moment, I'm in a good mood. Teri would be throwing a fit right now since she doesn't like unnecessary stress. Neither does my friends who are helping. To no one's surprise, there's lots to do and I keep adding random stuff to make things more complicated than it needs to be. Like how we are doing name badges, which I've spent more time figuring out than everything else combined. Story of my life. But it's OK since that's the best part of planning a party for yourself, you can do whatever you want.


Just like Teri building our wedding website, I'm enjoying the process with doing things for E40 that probably don't matter that much to others but matter to me. I probably should delegate a lot more. Thank you to the many that have reached out to help, or are already helping out. There will be plenty of things to do the day of E40, we'll figure it out when the time comes.


The most stressful part is what to do about all the kids coming. I think it's really funny that I'm having a family friendly party. Makes no sense since I don't have any kids.


Everything should work out. I also know that if I didn't do name badges and ordered Costco pizza for food, I'll still have a great time seeing everyone. Don't worry that won't happen. I don't really like Costco pizza.


I've had a lot of mixed emotions regarding E40 lately. I wrote about part of why I got excited about planning this was because I met someone new and just felt really good about life. Not the best reason to pull the trigger. There's also a handful of people that can't make it or will only go to parts of it since they have prior commitments. In some cases this feels like planning a wedding. How could people find something else to do? But it's fine, there's even a handful of friends and family that are flying from out of afar. I also missed a bunch of key weddings since I had a conflict, some include people coming to E40. Totally my fault also for planning this only a few weeks ago.


Anyways, I'm really blessed and can't wait until March 1!


Before things get too busy, I wanted to reflect and share on a few things I've been thinking about over the last few days with the hope that I can encourage at least one of you in the area of slowing down and having a different mindset.


My favorite part of attending conferences - Name badges

Sunday Service - New Series!

I've had a great weekend so far. It started with a great Saturday. I'm really happy about how it went, except that I didn't go on a long bike ride like I usually do. It's not really about what I did, but more of this new mindset I have that I think Teri would be most proud about to just relax a bit more and not try to squeeze too much stuff in one day (even though it was still a bit busy).


I really want to talk about Saturday, but before that, I'm really thankful about the new seris we are starting at Mariner's church. Mayo and I had a great time at the 8:30am service. When I got the book at church on Song of Solomon - Wisdom for Your Love Life, it was one of the moments that I felt like God knows exactly what I need again.



I won't really get into the sermon here. I will just say that it's what I needed and gave me a newfound appreciation for my singless during this time. I have a ton of stuff to work on. But if you want a great excuse to hang out with me, please watch the sermon so we can talk about it:



Saturday Brunch

I had a somewhat healthy and active brunch with a close friend in Brea that I haven't seen in a while. The good news: I ordered a "half serving" of french toast and did a two mile walk afterwards along the Brea tracks. I actually miss living and even working in Brea. I also got bacon and eggs on the side, so good to eat pork again :)


Similar to my monthly accountability partner I have at work, she's one of those friends much younger than me but ends up being more of a listener about all the things going on with my life. I used to be her manager but in many ways she could be my manager. Maybe one of these days.


The first highlight of the hangout was her interest about Teri. Hint: If you ever want to make my day, that's all you need to do. Okay I've said this on the blog like 100 times. You all get it. She was curious about what I thought really made the biggest difference with Teri's faith. I shared that my selfishness, pride, and ADHD put Teri through a lot of difficulties in our relationship and thank God she found the Bible Project and BSF. Teri also found lots of great community and over time, spent less time with me, which isn't a bad thing. Everything in life that Teri went through all started to make sense and have a purpose. I was then reminded of my discussion with Teri on spiritual gifts on my 38th birthday in 2022:

Teri really had the gift of Mercy. Much needed for someone like me who needs lots of mercy :)


Another highlight of my brunch was being able to process some areas that I've been pretty confused about that makes me feel really unique...or even weird. This stuff is also what I also have tried to sort out with my therapist, and probably a handful of you reading this via text message:


  • Why would I put on a "Birthday Conference" and invite over 100 guests?

  • Why am I opening this party up to a bunch of kids and am finding ways to entertain kids, even though I don't even have any kids?

  • Why do I still blog about Teri? How many men do you think there are that blog about grief on a regular basis?

  • Why have I stayed in touch with a lot of people, even since childhood?


Why why why. The things above aren't bad things. But I do feel weird and even insecure talking about them. I always think these days, what's wrong with me. It reminded me of one of the quotes from Teri's facebook profile I've shared a few times here:

”We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” - Dr. Seuss

It was nice to talk through these questions and felt mostly understood. We didn't really leave our time together with a list of action items for me or anything. Just like my therapist, I'm sort of left hanging and need to process more on my own. That's okay. I just felt very thankful that I still have close friends to listen and understand me in person, even though everyone is pretty darn busy (including me).


What else was on your mind during brunch?

The schedule for the day. Well we started eating, I felt a bit anxious. This means I wasn't 100% present during brunch since I knew I couldn't hang out for that long since I had a busy day planned:


  • 10:30am: Brunch in brea (~1.5 hrs)

  • 12:30pm: Visit my dad in Azusa (~1 hr)

  • 2:30pm: Drop off Mayo for grooming in Forest (over 1 hour drive from Azusa)

  • 4:30pm: Pick up Mayo for grooming in Lake Forest

  • 5:30pm: Family hangout in Santa Ana


I knew this was a bit too much. Typical Erwin trying to be all over the place. So during brunch, I was trying to get a hold of my dad to see if I can cancel on him because I needed to help him on Monday, so why go there twice in 3 days. That way I can take my time during brunch. He wasn't answering his phone. I thought maybe I was off the hook and something came up for him, so I could relax.


Finally Dad called back. By then, it was already ~1pm. He sounded a bit anxious and eager to see me since I told him two weeks ago that I would visit and need a lot of help around the house. So I proceeded to drive towards him and also reached out to Mayo's groomer to see if I could postpone my 2:30pm appointment. Thankfully I had two options to reschedule:


  • Same day (Saturday) 4:30pm

  • Monday 8:00am


I really wanted Mayo groomed (he is way overdue for a haircut). Here's a photo of us at church:

Why is Mayo sitting on my book?? I can't explain it.


I first planned to reschedule for his appointment for Saturday 4:30pm (2 hours later than my original appointment). This mean I would:


  • Hang out at my dad's until ~3:15pm (plenty of time to help him with whatever he needs)

  • Drop off Mayo for grooming in Forest (over 1 hour drive) by 4:30pm

  • Go to family hangout in Santa Ana (~25 min drive)

  • Leave family hangout early to pick up Mayo (he would be done by 6:30pm), or just make Mayo wait longer


This just now seemed like more unnecessary stress I didn't need. I had to convince myself that there is no urgency to groom Mayo. So I ended up moving his appointment to Monday 8AM (today). No big deal. This ended made the schedule so much better:


  • No rush during brunch in Brea with my friend (~2+ hours of quality time)

  • No rush to visit my dad in Azusa (~3 hours of quality time)

  • Visit my Mom for a bit to pick up my sister (~5 mins, sorry Mom)

  • No rush Family hangout (still a little late to it, ~3+ hours of quality time)


Wal Mart with Dad


Lets be real. Usually when I visit my dad, I want to get out of there as soon as possible. It's a far drive and his house is usually messy. He is slow. I am very busy and he needs a lot of help in stuff I really don't like doing. Some things come to mind are:


  • Teaching him how to use his phone

  • Teaching him how to use his computer

  • Teaching him how to use the TV

  • Helping him buy random stuff he doesn't need

  • Helping him find stuff he misplaced


I can have a very selfish mindset and still feel like I have an excuse to be selfish. I always think while I'm with Dad, I should just pay someone else to help him since I could be working or something more productive. In some ways that makes sense (like I don't want to clean his house and I'm terrible at cleaning). But in most other cases, spending time with him to do what he wants is time well spent. Just like it was when I would do what Teri wanted to do.


So I really wanted to have a better mindset this time around. The main reason: I've been thinking about my very limited capacity to grieve and how I can't imagine adding another loss right now with someone I'm close to. The truth is, his health isn't the best, he has trouble walking and doing the basics around the house. I don't want to have any regrets with my dad like I've had with Teri. While we have pretty different core values, he's a great dad. While he was super busy as a general surgeon, he paid for a lot of stuff growing up, including my undergrad education at UC Irvine. There's no obligation that he needed to pay for anything, but he did it.


Dad and Erwin at Wal Mart buying a lot of stuff I don't really think is a good idea


Dad was pushing the cart not because I'm lazy or just want to rush ahead of him, but because he needs to hold onto something. It reminded me of my time with Teri when she struggled with walking around the block. I remembered the time we had to stop and go back home and then go the hospital. I remembered the times I was trying to hurry up with walk since I had to go do my AM bike ride. I felt pretty sad thinking about Teri and my times with her in February and March.


So usually when I'm with dad at a store, I just want to tell him everything he should NOT buy, including the sodas and Dasani water that are in the shopping cart. He shouldn't drink soda, it's bad for him, right? But then I remembered my grandpa "Daddy Eddie" would eat bread, butter, and drink pepsi all the time and he lived till he was 98. I could have argued with Daddy Eddie about his eating choices, but I'm not sure what that would have resulted except unnecessary arguing.


Anyways, we just took our time at Wal Mart. We were there for over an hour. I was not dying. There were a few things I already had at home that he wanted to buy, but we bought them anyways since I wasn't even sure if I would see him on Monday (today). I don't want to throw him under the bus with the list of stuff we bought. It's not important. Then at home, I showed him how to make copies on his printer, even though there's instructions on the printer and I'm sure my other siblings have shown him this several times. I came to the realization it's not really about outcomes or making sure he can do things on his own, but to just be happy that we get to do something together. He will remember how I treated him when he needed help, not necessarily if I helped him do all the right things and we got to the outcomes.


Saturday Night Family Time

The most fun part of the weekend was hanging out with the siblings. I played with an Apple Vision Pro, crazy stuff. We had yummy pizza and Jeni's "Gooey Butter Cake" ice cream, which reminded me of Teri since it was probably her favorite ice cream flavor. We also took turn sharing our favorite YouTube videos. I found it so interesting because we are all so different with what we wanted to share with each other. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to share my favorite video of Teri (I've shared in the past) when we were at Muir Rock:


I would have shared the video, but it's only 24 seconds long and I wanted to make the most of my turns.


Thanks for sharing. What's the moral of today's post?

I'm not 100% sure. I guess what comes to mind is my new interest "anti-efficiency." It's not really that new though. It's what the story of Muir Rock is all about and why visiting an out-of-the-way place turned out to be a place I'll never forget. I have made a decent living and helped a lot of friends and family become more efficient and productive. Now I almost want to do the opposite and be OK with going slow, moving things to tomorrow, and embrace plans as they change. Or I guess being efficient now for me is about spending quality time with people in ways that matter to them, which may be different than what I would do if I were them. Maybe we will do some mindfulness exercises at E40? not sure yet. Maybe I won't even make a schedule. Okay let's not go that far. I do feel a lot less anxious living this way, as I was expected to have a stressful Saturday trying to do everything on the schedule.


Looks like that is enough for today, time to go walk Mayo one more time before bed. Mayo and I have gained extra weight these last few weeks. We are both determined to get in better shape for E40.


Photos of Mayo with his new haircut. Great way for him to lose weight too.


Have a great week!

Erwin

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Erwin, you crack me up. Mayo needing his haircut and to lose weight. That’s funny. Mayo is perfect just as he is. Thank you for sharing. I love hearing about your new mindset, very inspiring. I love how you shared videos of Teri. I miss her laugh and loved hearing about how she was good at showing mercy. I want to be more like her in that area. I loved how you shared about making time for your Dad and being present for him. That is inspiring, too. You are such a good son to do that. I’m so happy that you are happy and had a good week. Hope you have a great day

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Aging parents, man; that's always hard. But also very sanctifying for both parties! 😅😅😅

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Great post and good reminder - I think we could all slow down a bit! Looking forward to E40!

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Thanks for sharing, Erwin. I think it’s important to not compare and think something is wrong with you because you blog and do things most guys don’t do. You do what you need to do to process your grief. Thanks for letting us into the journey and answering the “how are you doing?” questions with your blog posts.


I agree it’s good to just spend time with your dad the way he wants to spend time. I’m glad you came to the realization and shared how regrets with Teri are helping you now. It’s turning your grief into lessons learned and changing how you live life now. I think Teri would be glad you’re reflecting on these things and implementing…


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I related so much to “Wal-mart with dad”, glad you’re able to slow things down a bit.

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