“I am me! I am me! Who else would I be? When I look in the mirror, it’s me that I see!” ~ from the unpublished children’s book, I Am Me!
Indeed, I am me. And since no one else is in line for that job, it’s me you get behind the words each week here at MeanttobeHappy. But who is the “me” behind the words?
Hmm. Good question. This is not a personal blog about Ken Wert. I am not the story. Happiness is. But just as book jackets provide brief biographic sketches of the author, so it’s reasonable that a reader would like to know the nature of the voice mouthing the words here as well.
Besides, one of my goals this year is to open me to you more than I have in the past as I write about issues of happiness and the many obstacles we create to it. A sort of parting of the curtains, if you will.
So to inaugurate that aim and as a playful peek into the guy behind the blog, I give you a bunch of stuff no one in their right mind would care to know about me. So to all you who are not in your right mind, here’s a glimpse into the unfamiliar side of the guy called Ken…
50 Things You Don’t Know About Me (and would do just fine in life never knowing)
1. I’m an introvert at heart. Give me a good book, a pad of paper (or my laptop) and I’m a happy camper. I’m also what you might call a selective perfectionist, but not the kind that beats himself up for invariably failing to live up to that standard. (Hey, maybe I’ll write about that someday!)
2. My wife’s nationality is Chinese.
3. I speak Mandarin Chinese, but not because my wife does.
4. I lived in Taiwan for two years (unrelated to my wife’s Chinese-ness, but very related to my ability to speak it)
5. We sent our daughter (on three different trips) to China, Australia, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland when she was in high school as part of a program called, People to People Student Ambassadors. On a teacher’s salary, we couldn’t afford lots of things and great experiences, so we chose to give her experiences. She’s glad. So are we.
6. Gandhi has been a moral hero of mine since I was about 17 years old. I have a large painting of him hanging in my classroom, painted by a former student who gave it to me a few years ago. (and yes, that’s a glimpse of the actual portrait below). Check out his autobiography here.
7. I never dated in high school because I lacked confidence with girls until my college years. I was a late bloomer.
8. I was engaged to be married to another girl before I met my wife.
9. Breaking the engagement with the other girl had nothing to do with meeting my wife (though it would have made a great story if it had!)
10. One of the most startling and rewarding parts of a high school teaching career has been all the former students who have kept in touch and still occasionally drop by to visit, even years later. It’s really quite moving.
11. One year a student hid in my closet for 45 minutes waiting for me to go home. Once gone, she opened my classroom door to let her friends in to decorate my room for a surprise birthday party they threw me the next morning. I was very surprised. Now I check my closets.
12. I was the last guy anyone would have thought would start a blog. Let’s just say my students believe I was born in the wrong era.
13. I still own a flip phone (proof of #12).
14. When my wife and I married, we had a grand total of about $27 to our name. We learned to get creative with packaged dry noodles.
15. As a kid, I was afraid of heights, so I forced myself to walk on top walls and climb trees and move onto precarious branches to challenge my fear. Now I’m afraid of walls and trees. Just kidding, it actually worked (goes to show what facing fears can do—you should try it–the facing fears part, not walking atop walls!).
16. My guitar and piano are my creative and emotional outlets. I play guitar every night as my son falls asleep.
17. But I can’t hit the right note with my voice if my life depended on it (I’m glad it doesn’t). My daughter once told one of her friends to listen to me sing because it sounded so funny. But I sing anyway. A lot. Loudly. And yes, it still sounds funny. My family is very patient. Sometimes.
Actually, my lovely wife likes to secretly stop singing at church when we come to the more challenging parts of a hymn (all the notes are pretty challenging if you ask me!) so she can hear me unsuccessfully try to hit the right notes. Now I start laughing every time I hear her stop, knowing what she’s doing.
18. In high school, I wanted to become a rich and famous guitarist in a rich and famous rock band.
19. I was never in a rock band. Turns out talent is a prerequisite.
20. I live in Southern California, 20 minutes from the beach, a couple hours from the snow and almost always in the warmth. I know. I’m geographically spoiled. Still, I’ve never been surfing or snowboarding. Go figure!
21. I get teary-eyed watching movies about families (especially parent-child relationships) and overcoming moral challenges. I even tear up with commercials and cartoons. But don’t tell my guy friends. I’ll have to give up my man-card.
22. I’ve started writing 5 different books over the last 25 years or so.
23. I’ve finished one … an eBook. It’s a freebie on my sidebar and down there at the end of this post in the box. Click here to grab your own copy!
24. I started a book on happiness when I was in my 20s. The ideas that began to crystallize over 2 decades ago serve me here at Meant to be Happy today.
25. I’m 47 years young. My wife is (Ha! You thought I was going to break that sacred vow of silence! But I will tell you that she is older than she looks and younger than her age and I love her dearly).
26. I have a horrible memory. There was this one time when I was going to the … uh … well, never mind. Forgot what I was going to say.
27. My college major was history with a U.S. focus. My favorite time period is the Founding Era. I have a secret love affair with the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence (Shhh! Don’t tell my wife!).
28. My favorite place in the world is home.
29. Every year my wife asks me what I want to do on my birthday (April 5th, in case you were wondering. It’s still April 5th even if you weren’t). Every year it’s the same: I want my family, pizza, and a good movie. That’s my perfect day (though I don’t have to have the movie. A fun game will work too. The point is to be with my family … and have pizza.
30. Yep, I love pizza. I mean I really love it. The only thing that stopped me from marrying a slice was figuring out where the ring would go. Oh, and the prospect of eating my wife in a moment of weakness kinda freaked me out too. You can get a glimpse into my strange relationship with pizza here.
31. I always capitalize the word Mom when referring to mine as a sign of the respect I pay motherhood and because my Mom qualifies for so much of it.
32. I don’t have a favorite color. If shoved into the corner and manhandled until I came up with one, I might say blue … or green. But I might also change my mind as you walked away.
33. I started working with kids as a young adult for the express reason that I wanted to be a great dad and thought working with kids would help me reach that goal. That led indirectly to my current career as a high school teacher.
34. I have big feet.
35. I have ugly feet.
36. When I was young, my feet smelled. A lot.
37. They don’t smell anymore. But they’re still big and ugly.
38. I don’t care much that I have big ugly feet.
39. I don’t want to talk about my feet anymore.
40. I’m not particularly organized. I tend to put things down wherever I’m standing or sitting when I don’t want to hold the thing in my hand anymore (instead of walking over to the place it belongs and setting it down there) … and then can hardly ever find it the next time I need it because it’s rarely where it’s supposed to be.
41. I love staring at my wife. Let’s just say that she’s easy on the eyes (see photo above–not the ugly foot photo!).
42. Our family reunions look a lot like a UN Summit Meeting. Our extended family is heavily interracially married. I love it.
43. I’m 6’4”. My wife is 5 ft. even. Let’s just say we draw attention when we walk down the street hand-in-hand.
44. I have hair on my toes. My older brother called me Hobbit when I was a kid because of it. Their size was a contributing factor, I’m sure. My height wasn’t. I’m also sure of that.
45. I know. I said I didn’t want to talk about my feet anymore. But I changed my mind.
46. Okay, I don’t want to talk about my feet anymore again.
47. I had long hair in high school (yep, that’s me in the photo).
48. I was 24 when I married and 25 when we had our first baby. My baby is now a married mom. Our second was 15 years later. He’s a 6-year-old uncle to my granddaughter.
49. I have a weird sense of humor.
50. Here’s my favorite joke (proof that I probably need counseling – and that #49 is true):
Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
He was dead.
But wait, the joke isn’t finished …
Why did the bird fall out of the tree?
Nope, he was tied to the monkey.
I know, but I warned you that I likely need some therapy!
3 Bonus Freebies:
51. I was born without three attributes: 1) A sense of fashion and color coordination. 2) The ability to carry a tune. 3) Rhythm. I told you about my singing. I look a bit like a drunk jellyfish with a broken tentacle and a headache when I dance. And my kids in the classroom regularly challenge my ability to match a shirt to a pair of pants. And all bets are off when I try to throw a tie into the mix. Oh well.
52. I have an incurable sweet tooth. I know because doctors, psychiatrists, a team of prison guards and my wife have tried to cure me of it. They failed. I’m glad.
53. I’ve given you these three bonus factoids because I cheated with #s 39, 46 and 47 and wanted to make sure you got your money’s worth. I still shorted you though because this one isn’t really telling you anything about me … or is it?
Hope you enjoyed this little excursion into the Book of Me. Not much of a post directly pointing at happiness, and yet in another sense it actually is.
I suppose the lesson of this salad bowl of autobiographical tidbits of my life is that happiness depends on really knowing yourself, becoming very familiar with what makes you tick, what the motive is behind the motivation that drives you out into the world or keeps you on your front porch.
It’s building traits that align yourself with True North principles, never taking yourself too seriously (as you can likely tell I don’t), or harshly judging yourself against others or some preconceived prototype of your perfected self (also not a habit I indulge in).
Happiness is nestled deep within all the little moments of daily living. (tweet me!) It is the approach and attitude in response to the circumstances life presents.
Life is too short to spend it dwelling on or stewing in resentment or anger, on regrets or comparisons, or in worrying about every little thing that might happen someday if, perchance, luck happens to be sitting on someone else’s front porch that day instead of yours.
Learn to accept your off-key singing and fashion misconduct and dancing atrocities. Life goes on. Go with the flow. Laugh along with your spouse and friends at your fumbles and foibles and idiosyncrasies, even if you have hairy toes and can’t sing in key. Smile at your own missteps and at others’ moral face-plants even if those face-plants affect you.
And stop pursuing self-defeating habits that rob life of meaning and joy. Shrug such things off and go live. Be happy. Discover joy every day, both in the little and big things. Determine what’s important in and about life and spend as much time as possible doing those things. (tweet me!)
Your life, after all, is in your own hands. Do something beautiful with it. (tweet me!)
If you’d like to comment on any part of this confessional, I’d love to read it in the comments below! And hopefully I won’t have to wince too much as I read it! Be gentle. 😉