Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

What's Next

Mindfulness gained a foothold in the imaginations of workers and corporations in the last few years, as popular apps brought reliable and lighthearted training to the masses on their phones. Mindfulness asks us to pause and focus only on our existence in a certain moment. It calms the mind and allows us to observe the world as it passes.

So much of our cultural ethos is ladder climbing. Whether socially, financially, or on the job, we’re focused on getting to the next rung. When we finally arrive, there’s another rung for us to reach. On and on we go, lurching from goal to goal as the goalposts keep shifting.

We spend an inordinate amount of time asking, “What’s next?” I have this car, but which one should I get now? I got this promotion, now what job should I do next? I hit this financial goal, now what am I going to work on next? All this time thinking about the future causes us to miss the present.

Having goals is a good and necessary thing; so is being mindful in the present moment. The growth of our children is the perfect reminder that, while every stage of life has its challenges and frustrations, each stage also has its little joys. These joys can only be found when we ask, “What’s now?”


Celebrating America’s independence is on the calendar this week, which means for most it’ll be a slow week at the office. Summer is nearly halfway over, and as we reflect on the courage it took for the United States to stand up to the British Empire, it’s a good time to reflect philosophically on what we truly have gained.

Freedom and liberty are used somewhat interchangeably, but are generally understood as the ability to do what you want, when you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Many have laid down their lives to protect and defend our American way of life, and we owe it to them and their sacrifice to strive for a higher ideal.

One of the many benefits of practicing religion is that it calls you to be your fullest, best self. You understand the context of your life, your place in the universe, and how you are uniquely created to be here in this time and place. Many aspire to touch the lives of millions through broadcast media, sports, or politics. True impact, however, is almost guaranteed when you pour yourself into those around you.

When you live as you ought, when you are truly free and have the liberty to pray, serve, and love those around you, you build not just a life of fulfillment, but a life of impact. It’s why we’re more likely to remember the model of a friend, relative, or teacher rather than some far off celebrity.

Too much time is wasted scrolling, being anxious about a polarized society, or fretting about far off problems. The solution is not a moonshot to bring the whole world together with this one weird trick. The solution is to be the best version of yourself, to espouse a higher form of freedom, and to use your liberty for of others.

Pausing to Advance

I have a recurring to-do that pops up every Thursday that reminds me to complete a weekly review. This is a fairly standard practice, popularized by David Allen, that gives you an opportunity to take a 40,000-foot view of your work on a regular interval. You go through all of your inboxes and task lists, make sure that they’re updated to reflect your current priorities, and prepare yourself for the upcoming week.

My compliance with this recurring to do is poor. Most weeks I delete it from my list, without having done the work, sometime the following week. The reason is as simple as it is predictable. Something came up. The irony is that by not taking the time to get organized, by not pausing to ensure that my systems are maintained, I end up in a greater state of chaos.

Military historians use tongue-in-cheek phrases like “strategic retreat” or “advance to the rear” to describe retreats conducted by military units. There are many reasons to retreat, but the best is when you actually believe that by falling back, you can regroup, regain the initiative, and advance on the enemy. That’s precisely what the weekly review is meant to give me.

It’s easy to believe things objectively in the abstract. I know that eating healthy will give me more energy; I know that speeding shaves seconds off any journey; I know that saving money is its own reward. The problem is what Mike Tyson so eloquently articulated, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

It’s precisely in those busiest weeks, when so many projects are pressing for more time, that I should pause, reflect, regroup, and then advance to victory.

Play-Based Childhood

My first phone was the Motorola Razor. I vaguely remember getting it as I was entering my sophomore year of high school, but it could’ve been my freshman year. With its T9 keyboard, and limited minutes and messages each month, I don’t believe I used to all that much. I called my parents and friends, but I was nowhere near tethered to it. The original iPhone was released the summer of my freshman year of college. I was an adult, with a mostly formed brain, and received that phone as a gift shortly after launch.

The iPhone marked a fundamental reorganization of the childhood experience. My Razr had little function outside texting, which was arduous, and phone calls. The iPhone, and really the App Store that rolled out the following year, changed everything and no one thought twice.

There’s no argument that kids and teens face a harsh world today. There’s plenty of reason to be anxious and unsettled, but it’s always been that way. Nostalgia clouds the mind as we try to go backwards in time, but the reality is that every generation of young people has faced its share of existential challenges.

As the research continues to pour in, we’re learning more about the troubling drop in happiness among youth and its decline into despair. The last 18 years, an entire generation of children, have been involuntarily enrolled in a social experiment. The results of that experiment will be a burden they carry forward for the rest of their lives.

Childhood, adolescence, and puberty are critical in the development of rational, productive adults. These are the times when we safely learn the rules of living in community, we curiously explore what it means to be a person, and we come to understand our place in the world. For the last 18 years, our children have instead spent less time playing and learning, and more time sedately staring at a rectangle.

Now, as teens and young adults, they continue to stare at the rectangles. Predators and charlatans no longer have to go to the mall to hawk their ideas and wares; they’re right in our children’s laps. Through a steady diet of anger and fear, then conscript these kids into their virtual army, child soldiers fighting for the agenda of a person they’ve never met, ruining their lives and worldview while enriching their new generals.

Parenting is a whole-of-self endeavor and entirely exhausting. Between work, taking care of the house, and raising children, it’s no wonder many houses are a mess, we eat out more than we should, and parents’ physical health is largely neglected. But, like the best things in life, doing the hard thing counterintuitively brings satisfaction.

Giving our children their devices as on-demand babysitters is the easiest thing to do. Fighting for them, protecting their innocence, and giving them the gift of a play-based childhood, although objectively harder, is objectively the right thing to do. It’s the childhood they deserve, and the childhood that will prepare them to be happy and satisfied adults.


Much thought is given to priorities, especially around the beginning of a new year. Whether we set them intentionally or not, priorities are guiding our actions. Even if you set out with a solid plan, it’s easy to become overcome by events.

There are seasons for everything in life; work, family, relationships, school, and play have rhythms that seldom sync up. It’s why we can have fabulously productive days at work and end the day with the house a complete mess. On that day, we prioritized work over cleaning.

The problem with priorities is when we let them take us away from our principles. A father who spends all his days focused on work will lose his family. An employee who spends their days at home cleaning will lose their job. We have to fight for balance in our lives.

Our bodies are magnificent creations; they tell us when we’re out of balance. We’ve all felt that terrible, inescapable feeling of being overwhelmed. We’ve experienced the physical manifestations alarming us to the toll that stress is taking on us.

Though the demands on our time are many and very real, the truth is if we spend some time each day tending to our areas of responsibility, we can get it all done. The house will never be clean, relationships always need nurturing, and work will never be done. But if we keep the kitchen counter clear, take time for each child, and be focused while at work, we can end the day satisfied with how we spent it.