Health · Moms · Personal Success · relationships

Parenting Breakthrough

 

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Jon Flobrant

I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.

I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.

I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle.  I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”

The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.

Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”

“Great,” I respond.

“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.

“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.

Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.

She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.

She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.

I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.

She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.

I hang up.

She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!

I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”

I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.

Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!

So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.

It never pays to engage with her rage.

Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.

Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.

We hug.

I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success · teens

The Non-Judgment Experiment

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Photo from Sebastian Spindler

 

Animals and Zen masters are the most peaceful living creatures. They don’t judge.

 

I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more judgmental than I’d like to be. And this tendency is a formidable block to inner peace.

I’m on a self-imposed challenge: stop judging people. First, I must be aware of when I judge. It’s strongest when I’m driving. Wow! Do I have very negative thoughts! The good news is that it’s completely impersonal. I don’t know these people.  But still…

Will you join me? Next time you’re in the company of one or more other people, notice your thoughts. Are you judging? Be aware. And then let it go. Don’t try to fight it. Just let it go. Just say to yourself, isn’t that interesting? My mind is judging. 

As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.

Gandhi

 

When you change, your world will change.

 

education · Health · Personal Success

Sunday Study

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I’m reading a synopsis of the book Unleash the Warrior Within. It’s written by a former Navy SEAL Michael “Mack” Machowicz. Obviously, he’s quite a self-disciplined, productive individual: host+ producer of Discovery Channel’s “Future Weapons”, author of Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals and he possesses multiple black belts in martial arts.

One surprising piece of advice he gives (considering he’s a former Navy SEAL!): pursue your objective at 80%, not 100%. Why? Because you can’t give 100% long-term. You’ll burn out. This made me relieved because that is what I already do.

Yay! I’m not a slacker!

 

 

 

 

 

motivation · Personal Success

Unsolicited Advice

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I went rollerskating today. It’s one of my “flow” activities: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defined flow activity as being in the groove or “in the zone.” It’s when you’re so utterly absorbed in what you’re doing, that time passes without regard.

I’m skating and happy when an older gentleman gestures for me to come to him. I relent. I’ve seen this guy before, he’s a good skater. He looks like a slender Santa Claus – easily in his 70s. I’m curious.

“When you move forward, move your skates outward, not backward. Do you know why?”

I answer, “I’ll go faster?”

By now, I’m miffed that he’s telling me how to skate better when I’ve been skating for nearly 40 years. But I listen. I’m curious.

I consciously skate outward. It works!

“When you turn, bend your left leg. Lean into the turn. Don’t lift your right leg.”

This takes me a lot more focus. I realize I have a hard habit. But he’s right. My upper body is much more stable. It feels better.

My resentment is just a whisper now. But it’s there. He hangs back. I smile in appreciation.

He doesn’t try to talk to me for the duration of my skate. I focus on my newfound skills and realize…after 40 years of skating, I learned something new!

If I had gotten defensive and refused to listen, I would not have learned.

We need to be receptive in order to accept constructive criticism. And this receptivity is in our control.

 

 

 

Health · Personal Success · relationships

The Compost in My Garden

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compost [kom-pohst]

1.a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil.*

Every green thumb gardener knows that her garden needs rich soil in order to grow bright, brilliant plants. Compost enriches soil but it is stinky and takes time to degrade and cultivate. The compost of my life’s garden (thus far) consists of (but is not limited to):
  • Kids taunting me with “chink” when I walked home from school
  • Every grade I ever received other than an “A”
  • my first heartbreak
  • the deaths of my grandparents, sister-in-law and friends
  • breast cancer and the six surgeries that followed
  • every awful job and boss I ever had
  • every workout that pushed me to the brink of insanity
  • the police officer at my high school football game who hatefully asked me if I speak English
  • scooter/car accident right before my wedding (I had to wear a leg brace under my wedding dress)
  • my mentor’s suicide

 

Let us not dwell on our past, but let us celebrate our survival. It is pain and loss that molds us into the strong people we are.

 

 

Resources:

*Dictionary.com

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Health

Bank Your Account

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I’m a teacher with a limited income. (How’s that for redundant?)

I contribute to my retirement funds, pay my bills, pay for my daughters’ violins, symphony fees and lessons. After that, I don’t have much left. And I don’t feel like I can treat myself to a manicure or purse. I just put the little morsels in savings, paycheck after paycheck.

But I’ve been finding myself feeling a bit empty. Do you know how Stephen Covey says you need to be mindful of emotional bank accounts in your relationships? I believe this pertains to the relationship you have with yourself, as well.

I decided to invest in myself and I have not felt this good in a very long time. I’m taking a class. It’s not cheap. But I believe it will help me achieve a lot more than if I didn’t take it. I feel empowered. Invigorated. Optimistic.

It might take just a small visit to a cupcake shop. It might mean you check yourself into a local hotel for a night or two to have peace and quiet to work on your screenplay. Or maybe it’s time for you to pursue that degree you’ve always dreamed of. Only you know for sure what will make a deposit into your own emotional bank account. But do it. Do what it takes. It will not only raise your spirits, but it’ll raise the spirits of those you love and who love you.

Two days ago, a car was t-boned right in front of me. My daughter was with me, sitting in the front passenger seat. The car flipped and landed upside down just 8 feet from my car. When it was in the air, I thought it might land on us. It didn’t. I realized at that moment – life is really short and unpredictable. When you’re on your deathbed, will you have regrets? That would be the saddest thing of all. It’s up to you. What are you waiting for?