When I was first living on my own after ten years of marriage and my kids were visiting me every two weeks I didn't know what to do with them. If you think about it superficially, what does a 40-year-old man have in common with a 12-year-old girl and a nine-year-old girl. For instance, if they were children of friends of mine I would have nothing to say with them and I certainly wouldn't want to spend any time with them. That strikes me as the most boring thing in the world. Spending time with kids?
But they were my kids and I loved them and I wanted them to love me back. I also didn't want their lives to be in too much shock over the separation of their parents. Time Magazine does its annual cover story on "Divorce Ruins the Lives of Kids" and now my kids were going to be kids of divorce. "I don't want to be one of those", one of them was crying when we first told them. Plus, to visit me, it took them almost two hours each way. They started off each weekend with me already hangry (hungry + angry). Plus tired.
Kids don't deserve the burden that's thrust on them. They have no control over their lives at all. They have no control over where they will live. They don't know how to take care of themselves so they often get sick in the germ factories at the schools. Most kids hate school and are bored out of their minds sitting down from nine to three listening to boring teachers talk boring topics during the hours in a day when a kid should be running around with their friends. Plus kids are often cruel to each other. My oldest daughter was having a problem at the time with being ostracized at the school she was attending. It was very hard for her and broke my heart. On top of it, their parents were getting divorced. I was so sad for them.
So I did the only thing I knew to do with them. I overbooked them. They would arrive and we would eat out dinner at a nice place, then play ping pong, then go to a movie, then next day: bowling, ping pong, basketball, swimming, ice skating, magic show, Holocaust museum (they HATED that), and hula hoop lessons?
I found a woman who performed with a circus. I hired her for almost no money to come over and teach my kids all sorts of hula hoop tricks. "Why don't you join in?" she said to me.
"I can't do that," I said. Maybe something homophobic in me. Don't only girls hula hoop? Plus, every time I tried it it seemed scientifically impossible. I would move my whole body in a circle to keep up with the hula hoop, I would to spin as fast as possible, and it would immediately fall down. Whatever. Hula hooping is for girls.
"Sure you can," she said, and she had a hula hoop for me. So I took lessons. And by the end of the first lesson I was hula hooping and my kids were doing all sorts of tricks. So some things I learned. Eventually, the kids would get so tired of all the activities they begged me to stop over scheduling. So we'd literally just lie around all day playing games and that was much more fun.
But I did learn 6 Valuable Things From Hula Hooping
1) What seemed hard was very easy. Sometimes you just need to know the right trick and something that you previously thought was not just hard but IMPOSSIBLE becomes easy. But everyone else still thinks it's hard. So it's like you're doing a miracle whenever you show people. One time CNBC asked me to say something for one of their promos. I said, "Can I do it while hula hooping." They said, "sure." So I did it. Afterwards they were like, "Oh my god, how the hell did you do that?" Sadly they didn't air it. I was in a tie, hula hooping, saying something about how capitalism was going to rule the free world and maybe it didn't quite all fit together.
2) You need a teacher. For everything I want to get better at, I get a teacher or mentor. Without a teacher I never would've learned the tricks to hula hoop. Without a teacher, I never would've gotten better at chess or poker. I had a good teacher on trading. I wish I had had someone show me the ropes on entrepreneurship. Instead I had to learn these rules the hard way. Through bitter tears and a lot of failure.
3) The less movement the better. I initially thought I had to move my body as fast as possible in a complete circle. But really it's just moving your pelvic area forward and back. You do it in sync with the hula hoop and you can go forever. It's really that simple. Watch the video above to see how little Lisa Lottie actually moves when she's hula hooping with three different hula hoops. When my kids hula hoop it almost looks like they are not moving at all. I learned this trick once when raising money for a company. If it's hard, it means it's not going to happen. When you have the right company, it's easy. Same for getting acquired. If it's too difficult, then you are either in the wrong business or you need to build more. And in writing, the less words, the better.
4) Technology makes things better. The teacher I hired for the kids made all three of us our own hula hoops. She filled them with water. When I was a kid you couldn't buy water-filled hula hoops. But technology improves. The water makes it easier to get in sync with the hula hoop as you are moving back and forth. Almost everything in life can be improved with a little more thought and effort.
5) Being different has its rewards. The first time Josie visited me when I was staying in the Chelsea Hotel I told her to bring her hula hoop. My friend Cody had his TV show, "Happy Hour" on the Fox Business Network. Josie was going through a rough time with her friends at school. I arranged for her to go on the show and give stock tips while hula hooping. She was so excited and so happy afterwards. Here's a link to it.
Another time, she was performing at a fair. While all her friends competed against each other in the singing category she practically invented her own category. She tap danced while hula hooping. Nobody else did that. She won an award. I was very proud of her because towards the end, like any good performer, she took control of the audience, she started clapping while tapping and hula hooping and everyone in the audience started clapping with her. She was fearless and fierce.
Here's the video:
6) It feels good. When Orthodox Jews pray they do what's called davening. If you've ever seen a group of them do it you know what I mean: It looks weird. They are moving all over the place. The idea is that every part of your body is praying to God. Hula hooping is like that. It feels like every part of your body is moving in this rhythmic, dancing way. And it's not bad exercise either. So you can pray, dance, exercise, and listen to music all at the same time while you hula hoop.
One more video. I promise you won't be disappointed if you watch it.
Fatboy Slim crowd-sourced the making of a video for his song "This Ol' Pair of Jeans". Some girl submitted this video:
I Don't Know How To Be a Good Father
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