Honor Dads and Cheer Grads

(Family Features) With the end of the school year and summer fast approaching, gifting occasions are plentiful. Some events – graduations and Father’s Day, in particular – can be a challenge when it comes to finding the perfect present.

Resist the temptation to throw some cash or a gift card in an envelope and instead peruse these ideas for inspiration for gifts that your dad or new graduate will actually use and appreciate.

Find more gift ideas for dads and grads at officedepot.com.


Gifts for Dads

Upgrade the Man Cave
Keep dad’s space cool with smart home technology that can control features such as temperature, lighting and music volume. Many devices and apps allow for themed settings, so dad can instantaneously turn up the lights and sound to catch the game on his big screen, or relax while taking a leisurely weekend nap.

Gadgets Galore
If dad still works on a desktop, help him upgrade his outdated tech toys. Go in on a big present with your siblings and splurge on dad with a top-selling 2-in-1 laptop, such as a Dell Inspiron 13, which is available at Office Depot and OfficeMax locations. The stores offer a broad assortment of tablets and laptops to get him going with the latest in portable technology.

Out of This World
If you love playing video games with your dad, take it to the next level this Father’s Day with a virtual reality headset that gives new meaning to getting into the game. These devices allow for 360 degree immersive viewing of more than 400 virtual reality apps available for Android and iOS devices, as well as many popular video content providers.

Tech for Every Day
So much of people’s lives revolve around technology, and dads are no exception. Help him stay up-to-date with simple yet convenient and effective options for his smartphone like rechargeable power banks, cellphone cases, screen protectors and charging accessories. For a less tech-savvy dad, start small with an option like Bluetooth headphones.

Share Memories
A new digital camera is the perfect way to let dad capture every moment together with the family. If he as an ample photo library just waiting to be shared, create a work of art with a personalized canvas print he can proudly display in his office or favorite room in the house.


Goodies for Grads

Show Some Spirit
Graduating doesn’t have to mean leaving everything about college behind. Let your grad proudly represent his or her alma mater with university-branded items for their desk at the office or at home. With an assortment of spirited options, Office Depot offers everything from USB drives and mouse pads to planners and notebooks.

Planning Ahead
Starting a new job means taking on new responsibilities and learning the ropes at a new company. Help your graduate stay ahead of the learning curve and on top of important meetings with a smart, new planner that makes organizing that extra-busy schedule a cinch.

Photos on the Go
If your grad is an avid photographer or even just enjoys the occasional commemorative photo with the family, consider a gift that gives him or her the ability to immediately enjoy personal artwork. While looking at photography on a phone can be fun, a device like the HP Sprocket Wireless Photo Printer, which can fit in a pocket, gives the option to print a 2-by-3-inch photo in as little as 40 seconds so favorite photos don’t get lost in cyberspace.

Sign Up for Success
Today’s students probably spent most of their college years tapping keys to take notes and complete important tasks. While those habits will transition well to the corporate world, there are still plenty of reasons to have some quality pens available. Whether jotting quick notes while on a call or signing important documents, the job is more enjoyable with a high-quality pen in hand.

Take Initiative
When starting a new job, a newbie needs to show just how much he or she is engaged in the work. Give them the opportunity to showcase value by documenting brainstorms, meeting notes and important deadlines in a discbound leather notebook, such as the TUL Note-taking system. Bonus: you can even pick out the paper inserts that best fit his or her personal style.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (father and son on graduation day)

Office Depot

In the Asking

By Ian Anderson

Yesterday morning I watched as my sons played Chutes and Ladders. All seemed well in their world: they laughed at the thought of doing the “naughty” things that made them slide, counted how many more spaces they needed to win, and argued about whose turn was up. And then the youngest screamed the scream that makes his oldest brother cover his ears and look at me like, “Are you going to do something here?”

Right before the scream to end all screams, I heard their conversation, which was quickly urgent on all fronts. The older brothers were making the little one understand, in gentle tones of course, that he needed to move his piece to a certain spot on the board. I heard something like, “No! Give me that! It goes here!”

Then, as previously stated, the scream happened.

I talked quickly and simply, and the game resumed. Because of the frequency of this kind of situation, I knew what the little one needed — he had to be asked.

It took me a long time to realize that to ask is to create relationship, to draw another person toward me. The opposite of asking is demanding, and it is the same as pushing away; when I demand, I step on the personhood of whomever I demand from.

Both asking and demanding are powerful, and it may be that our demands are often granted, but we should know the price. Implicitly, we bind one to another or we cast away.

I’ve observed the power of the request in the classroom, too. I talk openly with my students about the authority I’ve been given as their teacher, especially about how easily that power could go to my head. And it’s because of that authority that my requests, my genuine pleases and thank yous, are even more powerful. By asking instead of demanding, I silently acknowledge the independence and personhood of my students, and I have seen in their eyes a willingness to listen — even when they disagree or would rather resist.

Foolproof? Not even close. Yet, if we really respect the people around us, we give them room to carry out their resistance, to say no. As a teacher, I explain the consequences simply.

And what about more intimate relationships? We’ve all seen marriages in which it’s common for the request to be absent. Inserted is the demand, and with it the attitude that each should know the other so well that asking becomes a sort of an insult — or the idea that each has the right to demand what is due. Maybe too many requests went unfulfilled and demanding was the only way to carry on. Maybe.

However, earnest requests are hard to deny, no matter the situation. This is why we instinctively avoid the friend or neighbor who we know will ask to borrow from us. How can we say no? Asking is so powerful, we are often angry that we’ve been asked because the pull of the request is so strong, even from someone who “over-asks.”

As a parent, it’s difficult to balance my authority with a clear eye on building up my sons. But with an understanding that relationship is more important than getting my way, even as a dad, I’m at least headed in the best direction.

Chutes and Ladders continued without bloodshed because I explained — over the ear-splitting, tongue-wagging, scream — that instead of trying to rip his piece from his hand while forcing their way on him, their brother needed to be talked to like one of them. Once they drew him closer with a request, he gleefully accepted their help.

Perhaps before we learn anything about relationships, we must first learn how to ask.

Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.

Golf allows true self to come through

June2015_PubMessageGolf is a sport of infinite joy and frustration. It is something I have loved since the time I was rather young, and my passion for it is one of the traits I hope to pass down to my own children some day.

I started spending time on vari- ous courses when I would accompany my father on his outings. I remember fondly my times getting to ride in the golf cart drinking can after can of Dr. Pepper and watch him play this solitary and fascinating game. Often times mother would come along as well, and the instances when a larger group of uncles would join my dad provided hours of entertainment.

I’ve seen people in our party hit neighboring houses, throw their drivers further than they hit the ball, and I was once even struck in the back by a stray shot from another golfer.

As I got older, I was allowed to play. Looking back, I realize how much patience my father had. I, and my brother for that matter, did not play well in the

early years. We didn’t fol- low the rules of not walk- ing across the green and ruining the line of where my father was going to attempt to sink his putt, and we were

rarely quiet. However, my father never got mad at us for these infractions of golf decorum. Instead, he would guide and instruct us on how to properly conduct ourselves.

This instruction wasn’t to help when we were playing with him. Rather, he did it so we could be golfers well into our lives and not violate the rules while playing with others.

My father taught me a lot about golf, and though my brother improved, I am still a relatively poor golfer. However, my father’s love and care for me while I was on the course left a lasting impact. To this day, I love playing the game. For instilling that passion within me, I am truly grateful.

Over my years of attempting to improve my game, I also have learned a lot about myself while on the links.

In Steven Pressfield’s book, “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” he truly explains how I view golf, and he does so much more eloquently than I had ever considered it.

He discusses the fact that golf is a “higher plane” activity. It makes the point golf is a sport of the gods. It brings you closer to the divine.

It is the only sport where the golfer has to judge himself. If he makes an error, the onus is on him to call the penalty. It is a sport where you become one with nature on courses carved out of the land.

Pressfield writes of finding the “authentic swing,” which is the representation of your true self. In it he says

all the knowledge a person needs can be found in the hands as they grip the club. He wrote that one must play golf, as one must play the game of life, with abandon. Hold nothing back and give it your all.

This spoke to me. He makes the claim that there are multiple existences occurring simultaneously, and our true self, guided by our hands and grip on our world, finds the existence we are meant to live and drives us forward, both literally and figuratively.

Essentially, Pressfield writes “Bagger Vance” to describe golf as a metaphor for life. In life, as in golf, integrity, respect, competitiveness, focus, and peace are key components.

The story centers on a golfer who is struggling to find meaning in his life by the narrator telling the story of another golfer who was struggling to find meaning in his life. All three of the primary characters — the narrator, the current golfer and the past golfer — are all influenced by the mysterious cad- die, Bagger Vance. Vance shows all the players “the field,” which is the dimension of the world where all the possible existences live. He shows them how to give themselves to the game, which is to give themselves to life.

My father is my Bagger Vance. He opened the door to golf, allowing me to find my true self.

This is a gift better than anything wrapped in shiny paper. It is a gift to last a lifetime, and for that, I am eternally in his debt.