YOU CAN DO IT (PUT YOUR BACK INTO IT)

It’s that time of year again.  That whole “new year, new me” bullshit. Suddenly the gyms are full, yoga pants are legit again (as in, they are actually getting worn to a yoga class and not a coffee shop), organic produce deliveries are on the rise while the deep fryers of late night diners coincidentally take a reprieve from the 11pm-3am double shifts.

These are the weeks when we stare at the list of resolutions made last January 1st, hung onto with dwindling attachment until about Valentine’s Day and ditched completely by June. So we vow to make this year better. This year, we tell ourselves, we are really going to do it. No more excuses.

We make ourselves promises to eat healthier (resolved post [or mid] the mass intake of sodium, sugar and fat that comprised the majority of December’s meals) and exercise more (this promise usually made from the lethal depths of the couch corner). We idealize to do something “different” with our career (this generally proclaimed somewhere in close proximity to Happy Hour on Friday) and to generally do less of X,Y,Z and more of A,B,C, or whatever mathematical equation we’ve generated as a panacea to life.

The problem is, however, the follow-through from one January to the next. We start out ambitious and inspired and then . . .  nothing.   The resolutions lack our, well, resolve to see them through.  Why? What stops us?

I’m going to argue that we do. Yes, you. You stopped yourself from success. You and the tiny voice in your head generating excuses and placing limitations on your own growth. We get in the way of our own progress with our habits, attitudes and beliefs. We allow fear and a scarcity mentality to create obstacles which we refuse to overcome, go around, or use as creative leverage.

Yikes. There’s that whole, three fingers pointing back at you deal repeat performance.  Remember those 10 Ways to keep screwing up your life? Yep. Encore! Dammit. Universe is gonna keep throwing that lesson back at us, again, and again and again, boomerang style baby.

Consider- what are you stopping yourself from doing? What are you allowing into your life that is preventing you from reaching your goals? If you can identify it, you can begin to do something about it (FIX IT! obviously).

But in all seriousness (sometimes I like to play that card, it happens, little professor slip there, the smart ass game will return after this brief educational break), you actually can fix it. Perhaps not in the way you see immediately, perhaps not like you think it “should” be, but in a way that it no longer negatively affects you and your happiness.

Have you considered this- what will happen if you don’t resist discomfort, you don’t worry, you don’t fear? Could it possibly be worse than living with all that negative energy? Really? What’s the worst that could happen if you just let go of it all?

To use a quote that’s been circulating in my life lately (Reticular Activation System anyone?)-

“what would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

Think about that for a minute. WHAT would you do? Really? What does your heart say? And please, resist the urge to follow that statement with “I would but. . .” Stop that right now. This is an excuse-free vision session. Don’t ask yourself why, ask yourself why NOT. Instead of focusing on “what if it doesn’t work,” consider what will happen if it does. Think less about the potential of being wrong, and more about the possibilities of being right.

This is a tremendous transformation in attitude- life altering really. A shift in paradigm to an abundance mentality is the game changer my friends; shit just got real.  And, like most things worth having, it isn’t going to be easy. It’s hard work (case in point) but it’s work worth enduring.

How to get started? Let’s go back to those damn resolutions. This year, keep it tight. Ditch the plans to look like a supermodel by May and focus on sustainable goals that will serve as a catalyst for real growth. Set forth with a performance goal (emotional performance) of embracing change, leaning into discomfort and watching your reactions, rather than setting an outcome specific goal like “lose 10 pounds” or “fit back into LBD from 2009” (insert guilty emoticon face here. Yeah, the one with the blushing cheeks. You know what I’m talking about). Focusing on your behavior, your patterns, your habits, your thoughts, your attitude will generate real change, initiate real progress and help you achieve just about anything you are willing to receive.

Overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Try step one, not step 100. Pick one thing to focus on (just ONE, overachievers. I see you writing down three. Knock it off) and work to bring that into your life as often as you can. Wherever you are, whoever you are with and whatever you are doing, keep putting out that energy. Physics (and uh, me, and some other cool people) say the law of attraction is likely to bring it to you- you’ll get what you put out there people, so put.it.out.there.  And- sidenote- sometimes you just might not recognize its presence, so you know, don’t get all bent out of shape if it doesn’t like, slap you in the face everyday. It’s there, I promise, be willing to see it.

As a super easy application of this concept, check your vocabulary, player. What words are shaping your reality with their connotations?  One small change in the articulation of your existence can change your entire perception of an event and thereby its effect on you. For example, think of the word fear. Ugh right? Now reframe it.  Use it to create a new association that will empower you instead of bring you down.  Ready? Try this on for size-

FEAR- Face Everything And Rise

Boom! How do ya like them apples? Yoga teacher wisdom here to save the day once more (standard). Namaste to my Zuda teachers for that badassness right there.  But really, it exemplifies how one simple change makes all the difference. Just one. Be willing to be open to discomfort and opportunities, to see differently, to respond better, to reframe your vocabulary, your perception, your life.

So my friends, to you I send breath for the New Year. Yep. Breath. The basis for calm, for balance, for collected, poised and effective response to the bumps in the road of life. Let it take fear out of your world and return it (in acronymical form) to you as your ability to FEAR.  Stop saying I can’t, and  instead say “I can’t, YET.”

Happy 2014, may it be all that that you make of it, and more.

 

   resolutions3

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JUST BREATHE

On a scale of Grinch to Jesus, just how stressed are you about the big event? Hyperventilating yet? I’m not. Why? Because it’s CTFD Christmas baby, and I’m not riding that train this year (or ever again, actually. I retired. No longer eligible for visits to Santa’s Insane Asylum. Bummer.).

Not sure if you qualify for “Rescue Me” status yet? Try these questions on for size:

  1. Have Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover (wait, does anyone use that anymore?) on speed dial so you can check your available credit?
  2. Itemizing and listing gifts you have purchased to make sure you’re being FAIR and EQUAL and spending the SAME amount on each kid?
  3. Ghost of Christmas Present (aka- the super pleasant ding of your iphone task reminder) visiting you to remind you of all the shit you still have yet to purchase for all 150 of your closest friends and relatives?
  4. Bracing yourself for the righteous hasty judgment you’re about to endure from your pending houseguests regarding the acceptable cleanliness level of your house. That you live in. With real people. . . ?
  5. Baking and delivering cookies like Martha Stewart is your middle fu*#ing name?
  6. Knocking down the neatly stacked ornament tubs (spilling that stupid peanut shell “packing” crap everywhere) while frantically grabbing suitcases down from the top shelf of the closet?
  7. Have your present wrap time down to sub 2, per gift, with coordinating ribbon and tags thankyouverymuch?
  8. Mailed out 200 Christmas cards then had 50 returned because you forgot to: a) stamp them b) address them or c) both?
  9. Got a decent ab workout while simultaneously earning more anger/worry lines by smirking at the daily delivery of perfect family photos and accompanying shamelessly self promoting holiday letters describing the idyllic life you don’t have?
  10. Managing hangovers accrued from holiday parties or coping through family “fun”?
  11. Stepped on at least three broken glass “special” ornaments that were placed high on the tree that the kids are NOT SUPPOSED TO TOUCH?
  12. Running out of reasonable explanations to your children for why your breath smells like chocolate at any given time of day (damn that Godiva chocolate box your former realtor insists on giving you every year despite the fact that you haven’t given her any business for at least a half a decade)?
  13. Having a slight gag reflex at the sight of anything orange, or, shiver, crimson, because it reminds you of pumpkins and cranberries (of which you have found a ridiculous amount of ways to “experience” in your foods for the last five or so weeks)?
  14. Spent twelve hours manipulating (pun intended) the seating arrangements for dinner so Uncle Tom isn’t next to Aunt Ida who isn’t near cousin Jane who doesn’t like your sister-in-law who can’t be near a child because she is going through a rough time, and . . .
  15. Thanking GOD that a long sweater or shirt and leggings and boots qualify as “real clothes” this time of year and ignoring the fact that if you pair that with a vest and boots you look like Hans Solo. . .  ? photo

Have I hit home yet? Guess what. There is a simple solution to all of it. Besides a trip to your local warehouse of choice for some oversized bottles of liquor (Costco, you so get me, thanks for being there), here’s another strategy for how to make the most of your Merry Little Christmas. Ready?

Step 1: Breathe

Step 2: CTFD

Step 3: BREATHE!

Oh, and maybe take some Advil, a B vitamin (or five), drink some tea and lemon water and go sweat it out with some exercise. That helps too.

Remember, when it is the hardest to breathe is when you need your breath the most. 

So put down the scissors. Step away from the ribbon. Put your credit card back in your wallet. And just walk away from that scrub brush and the table diagrams. Let the chaos happen sans your management. You have enough. You’ve cleaned enough. You’ve baked enough. Your kids have enough gifts. Your presence is enough of a present for everyone. Christmas is about giving, not getting. Loving, not judging. Spending time, not money. Sharing friendship, not guilt. Spend the next week the way you want to, with the people you want to be with, and with the attitude you want to have.  Chill out already. YOU are enough.

Cheers to a Merry CTFD Christmas.

For more humorous thoughts on the subject, check out these related blogs:
Killing of Supermom
Don’t Stress On Account of Me 
Humble Holiday Letter
Grinch Goes To Therapy
 

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PARKING LOT PARTY (Life.Happens.)

Stop. Right now. Before you go read any further, wherever you are, regardless of what you’ve got going on, do one of the following:

a) high five yourself (or a neighbor)
b) have a ten second dance party, arms in the air (cuz’ the ceiling can’t hold you . . .) or,
c)slow clap, nice and loud, while standing.

Why? Because honey, it’s TUESDAY. As in the day AFTER Monday. That’s right. Monday is over. ooooooooovvvvvvvveeeeeeeerrrrr. You are now only three days away from Friday, which is one day from Saturday (when you can still enjoy the weekend without thinking about it almost being Monday again). Even for someone who works in some capacity pretty much every day of the week like me, this is still BIG news. Epic. Love it. Hellllllooooooo Tuesday, how you doin’?

Mondays, you see, are like a heavy lifting workout day. The power workout, or a HIIT without the uh, interval part, so more like a straight HIT. Ouch. Getting through Monday means you’ve done the hard work already. You’ve torn the muscle so it can build stronger tissue, fed the body so it can grow, laid the ground floor, set the foundation, prepped the scaffolding, or whatever other workout/construction metaphor you’d like to toss out there, because it’s really all about building anyway. You’ve helped structure the rest of your week in a way most likely to assist you in total world domination (or at least in greeting Friday’s end at happy hour actually, um,  happy).

Monday is when the week’s reality check shows up, reminding you of everything that is awaiting you from the 3pm Friday “I’ll do this next week” list plus all the new things that showed up this week.  It’s a chance to turn your self assessed “F” from last week into an “A” for this one, all with one small stroke on the right (not that I ever, uh, tried that or anything, or that I still grade myself. . .).

Your stroke, in this case, is your perspective. The attitude you bring to the week will determine its outcome. It’s your party and you can cry if you want to but um, that’s not so helpful really.  You could spend time dwelling on unfinished tasks that you didn’t accomplish last week, or you can get off your ass and work on them now. What’s done (or rather, not) is done, it can’t be changed. However, you can continue to move forward. You can accomplish step one. You can get that first item on the list checked off, finally.

Yes, that list will keep growing. You will get three things done and find five more to do. For sure. That’s how it works. It’s a cha-cha, mi amigo, two steps forward, one step back.  Shit keeps happening, full speed, all the time, there is no pause button.

However, you have the most amazing power within you. THE most amazing, incredible opportunity, at your disposal, anywhere, anytime and with anything. Life will happen, and you get to choose,

are you going to be a participant, or an recipient?

I was reminded of this yesterday, at my most favorite place (so . . . yeah, yoga). We were about 45 minutes into class, working so hard it was a regular rainforest in there what with all the sweat dripping down (you are so welcome for that lovely image, btw, totally made your day I’m sure). As as we flowed through pose after pose after burning quads and firing biceps we began shaking, clenching jaws and sincerely focusing breathing as we tried to hold or move through the pose for just.a.little.bit.longer.

When we hit this point in class, people started to do several things. Some settled in deeper, moved through the shaking. Some took rest. Most people listened to their body and respected what it was telling them. But, pretty much everyone, at some point, sighed, groaned, or otherwise looked at the instructor in agony, seeming to say “why are you DOING THIS TO ME?”

Ummmm, really? She’s doing it to us, is she? Let’s reframe. As our wise instructor pointed out, post dirty looks, is that we can view this practice in one of two ways- as something in which you are actively engaged, or as something that is happening TO you. You can be a player or a victim. A member or a casualty.

The event is the same. The experience, however, lies within you.

The universe sure as hell knew how to channel lessons that day, because damn if I didn’t get all inspired after that (like, dance party status). It was yet another reminder that my attitude, my response, my composure, and my willingness to face what’s in front of me in the present and embrace change are ultimately what determines my current reality. This is my hard work, my mental workout, my training and preparation.

And although I target Monday in this revelation, the concept really applies to any time of high intensity, high stress, high stakes, great significance. Sometimes “Monday” doesn’t actually fall on Monday. Some weeks every day feels like Monday. Hell, some months every day feels like Monday. The point is, the training pays off, big time. What lies on the other side is worth it, every step, every struggle, every challenge has merit, there is value in holding the pose.  For though the form may vary and the recognition be a bit inconspicuous at times, hard work does not go unrewarded.

So you know, go carpe diem and all that. Slap a smile on, pick a few key phrases that help you get your shit together and laugh a little (for example, I like to drop “tavi et zeh” when I’m hitting a wall, it means “bring it” in Hebrew). Then go forth and conquer, warriors. The time will pass, the world will keep turning, day will turn into night, this moment will pass. The decision you get to lead, the choice you get to make, the question you get to ask yourself, is not whether or not you are going to the party, but what you are going to wear.

“Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance” – Unknown

lifeisa party1

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ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

Tis the season. Yep. Uh huh. Sure is. THE season. The season of. . . what, exactly? To many, it’s the season of miles, points and Benjamins, all provided in abundance courtesy of guilt trip airlines, passive aggressive combat at the dinner table, and mastercard (December’s BFF- it’s everywhere you want to be). How. . . joyful. . .or something.

It also is the season of giving. And by giving, I actually mean GETTING, and I know you know what I mean. It seems that the emphasis of Christmas has shifted rather heavily to the receiving end of the deal as opposed to the true spirit of benevolence. As a whole, the commercialization of the holidays has encouraged us to view generosity as spending more, eating more, doing more, getting MORE. Bigger, better, faster, stronger, and right.now.

Why? Because more is better, size matters and our sense of urgency and competition trump patience and fortitude? Right?WRONG.

You picking up what I’m throwing down here?  I’m all about growth and change, exceeding goals and overall maximizing capacity. But not like this. Not as measured in material possessions, coated in the glitter and sparkle of December and quickly dulled in January’s austerity.  Transformation, humanity and goodwill are not demonstrated by how much money you spend, how many arguments you “win” and how outstanding your gift giving skills are. It is our actions, in the end, that determine our real contributions.

Why the soapbox, you may be wondering. This is hardly a novel concept. Agreed. It’s not. People have been saying this for years. I’ve acknowledged that for at least two decades, and yet I continued to overspend and overdo it. Year after year, maxed out credit card after maxed out credit card.  The difference for me, this time, is that it’s really hitting home. Big time. For the first time in a long time, I really understand that less is more. Really and truly.

As a family we have slowly been working to minimize our material belongings by downsizing our house, selling and donating possessions and spending our time and money on experiences as opposed to “stuff.” It has been awesome. Amazing. A “why didn’t I do this sooner” kind of deal.  Everytime I get rid of something I actually physically feel better, as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It is incredibly freeing.  I’m not moving to a full “minimalist” kind of lifestyle by any means, I am way too fond of my wardrobe to go full board (my shoe collection is only rivaled by my bling; it’s close competition), but it is assuredly a move in the right direction to a more balanced life.

For example, when I went out to the garage to get our Christmas decorations out, I found ten giant rubbermaid tubs awaiting me. TEN, big enough to fit at least one child in, if not two, each. HOLY SHIT! Who needs TEN  tubs of indoor and outdoor decorations? Not me, that’s for damn sure. I used maybe two boxes for the whole house. The remaining eight are hanging in the garage awaiting donation to whomever the universe sees fit to offer them.

This is great progress, I might actually be able to see the back of the garage wall by springtime at this rate. Whoo hoo.

However, the most powerful lesson so far has come via the sincere innocence of my son and his unassuming naiveté. When I started asking what my children what they would like for Christmas, he replied with “I’m getting _____ for Christmas.” WAIT A DAMN MINUTE. You’re GETTING that for Christmas? REALLY? REAAAAALLLLLLYYYYY? Oh my. Oh, oh, oh my. If that’s not a wake-up call to do something about their perceptions about giving then I don’t know what is.

So, what do do? FIX IT, that’s what. Fix.It. I broke it, I will FIX IT!

How? Well, for starters, by continuing to demonstrate and model a “less is more” lifestyle, by showing gratitude and by continuing to give, often and in abundance, to others and to articulate this to my children. It’s time to preach and practice. To say and do, to believe and to act.

First up- Project “12 Days of Giving.” Post conversation with Rory I brainstormed ideas for how to tie this all in together in a fun and meaningful way. I want to use this month as a teachable moment and a launching point for encouraging sustainable altruism. With (all that) in mind, I landed on the 12 Days of Giving idea – which I thought, by the way, was original- until I went on Pinterest and found out that um, it’s not, and there are all kind of resources out there for this- SCORE!

So, putting my usual personal spin on it, I made a graph for each day (I know you are shocked by this, me graphing things, such unusual behavior, sticking things in boxes and categories and all. . .) so we can track our acts and use them as a motivation and reinforcement of the concept.

And speaking of, the concept itself is simple. Give one thing on the first day, two on the second, and so forth until we have twelve drummers drumming on the 25th. The premise is that we do our best to give authentically, to be genuine in our intentions and to give fully, no half-assed efforts.

Each day, for the twelve days leading up to Christmas we will practice the art of giving.
The giving of our time, our service, our devotion, our love, and sometimes, an actual tangible gift.

When I sat down with the kids and talked them through the idea they were totally down with it, giggling with excitement even. And, as they are sooooo their mother’s child, they didn’t just agree, they grabbed pens and paper to make lists with me and together we brainstormed ideas for how, what, and when we could give. Then we spent some quality family time together making our chart (see picture below).

For day one (which we did early, because they are at their dad’s for the weekend so my grand plan needed a little tweaking, standard), we chose to give the gift of appreciation. Each of us wrote a special note to a friend thanking them for being the wonderful person they are and all that they bring to our lives.  We wrote our letters last night and honestly, it gave me goosebumps to watch them. I teared up a little even (just a little, hallmark commercial level stuff). They were so eager to express their love to their friends, so legitimate in their feelings and willingness to share them; it was beautiful.

We have other great ideas for the rest of the days, little glitter bombs of happiness we will be dropping all around town. We will quite possibly do this, by the way, while rocking our most ridiculous Christmas swag, because what other month do you get to model sparkling knit fabulousness? Ugly Sweater party, here.we.come. #opportunity#knocking

I am very much looking forward to the lessons we will all learn, the love we have to share with others, and the goodness we will both create and experience as a result. In a month that could easily be overburdened, exhausting and a little depressing, we are choosing to bring light to others, to give beyond ourselves, and to spread the joy. I pray we will carry this lesson with us into the new year, and beyond.

Amen, Hallelujah, and Peace Out friends. Oh, and Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas.

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 photo (10)

WORD

I have a shirt that says “Trust the Universe” across the front and a tattoo on my foot that reads “one step at a time.” My bathroom cabinet and light switch have quotes adhered to them reminding me to be awesome and other good crap like that. I read, every day, to my kids, for myself, real books, magazines, and other blogs (especially on Medium, super awesome). I even listen to ebooks via bluetooth in the car (when I’m not bumping hip hop, that is).  I use the thesaurus, daily. I adore vocabulary words; it’s my favorite part of lecturing. My pinterest boards are sparkled (yep, sparkled, it’s a thing) with fun, motivational and thought provoking quotes.

Speaking of virtual inspiration, I took that whole “what you visualize you materialize” thing a bit literally and uh, printed out those quotes and created a pretty fabulous wall feature in my laundry room (yes, the laundry room. . .).  These are there for sure to cheer me on while I wash and fold. Wait, who am I kidding? I don’t really fold, or iron for that matter. My clothes have 5 probable locations- on me, in the closet, on my bed, on the floor (yes, I’m 33 and still occasionally leave clothes on the floor. Whatever.), in the laundry room, or in the dry cleaning bag. These are all versions of wearable, waiting for transportation to the holy land (my tiny closet space), in the process of being wearable again, and it has to be ironed.

Based on this (obviously tidy, and awesome) substantial “print-rich environment,” one might argue that I am a bit attached to the written word. I might not disagree (#firsttimeforeverything).

But oh, the power of the word.

Oh mighty pen, what dragons you slay, what marks you leave upon my tear stained face, what flutter you bring to my heart, what light you shine on my life.

Wait. WHAT THE HELL!?! Who writes this shit? Um. Me. Sometimes. To make a point, when necessary. I like to wear the suit of linguistics the occasion requires. Words are powerful. They can bring joy, harm, wisdom, inspiration, and, pain.

Earlier this week my eight year old brought home a reminder of that paradoxical truth. I knew something was up when she started dropping (extra) attitude on me from her first step out the classroom door. We had reached the “my mommy is here so now I can let it all out but I don’t know how to express that so instead I’m going to act like a two year old” part of our day. Oh boy. We made it home, eventually – longest two damn blocks of my life, thankyouverymuch – and she proceed to melt into a full blown hot mess.

When she chilled a little and was calm enough to give me the down low I discovered that she is, unfortunately, experiencing a rite of passage in her childhood about which I have extremely contradictory opinions. At totally opposing ends of the mom-pain spectrum, I both wish I could shield her from it and am grateful for the opportunity to guide her through it.

She is getting teased. By boys, mostly, who think she’s “cute.” Oh MY. That’s a whole different can of worms, right there. Gulp. But the main deal, for now, is the fact that she is hearing words used against her and she’s not sure what to do about it.

Did I give her the usual “sticks and stones” crap? Negative. Did I tell her to call names back? Of course not. What I did do, is shoot for a trifecta takeaway, T3 baby. One- acknowledge, two- provide some insight and explanation, and three- give her tools to use.

First, looking to show support by listening and recognizing her feelings, I asked some open ended questions to get some dialogue going. While she shared, I expressed empathy and understanding and overall worked to keep the lines of communication open for her to share with me on an ongoing basis.

Then we had a little chat about learning how to not taking things personally. About egos. About the antecedent for most negative behaviors and how that plays out in our interactions with others. Why people say what they say, do what they do, and otherwise inflict pain on others. I thought about getting into the brain research and how and why we react like we do but thought maayyyyybbbbbeeee that was a bit much. Tiny bit. Smidge.

We also talked about behavior and responses look like on her end. What can she do to help prevent and how to respond to teasing. Basically, how she can avoid doing #8 here and instead keep on the sunny side of life with these tools.

We talked a little about karma, about getting what you put out there and about kindness. This part was not new to her; I regularly say to my children “speak with kindness and love or don’t speak at all.” We do lot of rephrasing and reframing as I have found that specificity generates better results than do broad and vague statements like “be nice.”  It was though, a reminder of how to apply this outside of our home, with other people and in other situations (namely one where your mother isn’t standing there to help you).

To be honest, the poor kid stopped probably listening to my lecture after the 50th word. It was all Charlie Brown’s mom after the second minute started (whaaa, whaaaaaa, whaaaaaaa . . . ) What I did find absolutely hysterical, however, was when she said “I know, I know, this is something YOUR mom told you, right?” Smarty pants. She already understands the basics of epigenetic inheritance, or at the very least the matriarchal dynamic of the passing of wisdom across generations. Awesome. Maybe she’ll be a sociologist when she grows up. She’s definitely going to have some good shit to tell her own kid some day. Well, her kids and her therapist.  .  .

So speaking of specificity (and therapy bills), the tools I gave her were:

  1. Be an ambassador for goodness. Give kindness. Gracious behavior solicits humanity.  Goodwill spreads. Compliments beget compliments. In turn then:
  2. Speak well of others, do not tease, do not gossip, even in response, which simply invites teasing.  Be impeccable with your word, my darling.
  3. Keep calm (and carry on. . . ). Seriously. Be unflappable. Do not react. Fastest way to lose an argument? React. Best way to make the other person keep talking? React. Want your little brother/classmate/frenemy to continue provoking you? REACT. Therefore, although it is difficult up front, if you can keep it chill, maintain composure, respond cooly, specifically and sans emotion- you win. Plain and simple. People tease for the purpose of a response. Devoid a response, there is little benefit to exert the effort. Given that she is only eight, and even adults struggle with this;
  4. Find your “A” Team. Surround yourself with like minded people and get help when you need it. Seek and offer support to and from your peer group. It is easy to target someone who is alone, it is more difficult to hurt someone in a group. Hang near a person in authority if need be, since most kids don’t really like getting caught acting like a jackass (plenty of exceptions here though, for sure). Do not, ever, use that group strength to hurt others. Ever. No excuses.
  5. Call them out on the mat and then let it go.  Tell it to them straight. Try to avoid the “I feel ____ when you_____” statements because let’s be honest, the other person knows they hurt your feelings, THAT’S WHY THEY DID IT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Duh. So don’t open yourself up for that. Instead, be specific, provide examples, and be very clear about what is not okay.  Not why it’s not okay from an emotional standpoint, simply that it is unacceptable.  Disregard all negative behavior from that person after that point.  Standing up for yourself shows others your strength and lets them know what you will and will not tolerate.  Do not engage with the other person beyond that, but simply communicate, clearly and regularly to those who can help. The teacher can’t see everything and s/he can’t help you unless made aware of the problem. Do your part by standing up for yourself and letting an adult know what is going on, and then let it go. The culprit will get themselves into their own trouble after that.

It was overall a good lesson, for both of us, and it’s not over. It will keep growing and going as time continues because this isn’t a one shot, teasing vaccination kind of deal.  To use a teaching joke, it wasn’t a drive-by training. I’m not taking the “well I told you to ….” approach. That shit doesn’t work; it’s not sustainable, even with adults, hence the universe dropping those lessons on us, all.the.time.

Here’s to parenting adventures. May they continue to teach us humility, encourage our own reflection and continue to send that karmic boomerang back around again, and again, and again.

Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. ~Henry James

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HOW TO KEEP F#CKING UP: THE TEN STEP PLAN

Things You Do That Make Your Life More Difficult

1. Blame Darwin

Deny that evolution is happening all day, every day, like it or not (see definition- “things change over time” here). Refuse to change, resist anything new, continue doing what you ALWAYS do, because you’ve ALWAYS done it that way and you LIKE IT LIKE THAT. Complain that no one gets it, no one understands you and people should recognize that you are RIGHT and they are WRONG.

Take the same routes every time. Stick to your daily routine. Order the safe food on the menu. Blame others when things don’t go your way. Consider everything that you know and love as good and view anything that is different or new as bad. Keep your arms crossed and your mind closed.

Be the latter half of this analogy- Flexible:Rigid as Gumby:You

2. Be An Ostrich

Ignore the problem. Swim in the river of De’Nile. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Avoid mirrors at all costs. Keep blinders on during the day and wear sunglasses at night. Frequently travel through tunnels. Plug your ears and sing “la, la, la, la, la” every time someone mentions it. Give the elephant in the room a blanket, pillow and a snack. Bury yourself in other tasks to distract yourself. Do not come up for air until absolutely necessary.

3. Do It Later

Crown yourself the Procrastination Prince(ess). Make an actual crown, and sash, (a cape might be overkill so just put one in your Pinterest closet). Do some laundry. Make some lists and do none of the items on them. Write some good intentions down. Share some grand ideas. Do some dishes. Phone a friend. Play Candy Crush. Catch up on the “news.” Find 40 other high priority tasks. Turn and run in the other direction every time you even THINK about what you have waiting for you to complete. Actually, just go running instead. Or, maybe look up new running clothes online, less sweat, more fun.

Make a list like this one:
Ways to procrastinate
1.

4. Get Pissed Off

Be an anger ball. Get mad at everyone, everywhere. Join a conspiracy theorist group. TRUST NO ONE. Take everything personally, always. Have road rage. Have line rage. Lose your shit, regularly. Stop wearing blush because your cheeks are starting to look a little clownish from all that natural color generated by your perpetual state of ON FIRE. Never.Let.Anything.Go. Harbor resentment and let it grow. Forgive no one. Do not pass go, do not move on, do not, under any circumstances, give anyone a second (or fifth, or fiftieth) chance because people don’t change. . .

5. Get Bent Out of Shape

Sigh, loudly, while rolling your eyes. See if you can get your shoulders all the way up to your ears before breakfast. Keep them there until after dinner. Work on your anger lines- glare and frown, a lot. Cross your arms in front of you, often. Keep your hands on your hips and purse your lips. Twitch a lot. Have your hands clasped behind your back while you pace.  Hunch over your desk. Stare at the ground when you walk. Stick your nose in the air. Look down on people. Tap your foot impatiently when your phone is buffering.

6. Be A Fun Sucker

Worry, all the time, about everything. See the glass half empty and fret about the potential bacteria growth occurring on the surface level of the water. Stand at the bottom of the play structure, arms out, whisper screaming “beeeeeee carrrrrreeeeeeeffffffuuuuullllllll.” Make your kids wear life jackets at the beach . . . when there are no waves. Refuse to travel for fear of something going wrong. Attend parties only to serve the role of “Mom” and spend the entire time cleaning up and swapping out people’s vodka for water. Learn the emergency routes in every building you enter. Have an exit strategy for all daily activities. Carry caution tape with you wherever you go, and duct tape, for that matter. BE PREPARED dammit.

Spend lots of time feeling like a jackass for the dumb shit you did in the past. Dwell on it. Cry about it. Punish yourself for it but for God’s sake, don’t just learn from it and move forward, keep reliving those mistakes every day. In fact, remind others about theirs as well, in case they forgot. It’s your duty to make sure people don’t get hurt, again, after all.

7. Contract Foot IN Mouth Disease

Speak rashly and without care. Gossip about people. Speak ill of others and yourself. Call names and label people. Prove that sticks and stones break bones and words WILL often hurt you. Say the things aloud as you think them. Do not consider others feelings. Do not be sensitive. Say whatever you want to say whenever you want to say it. Screw timing. Forget euphemisms. Say things just to be “funny.” Drop “just kidding” into most conversations. Wonder why people can’t take a fucking joke anymore.

Talk in circles. Be inarticulate or be overly-articulate, verbose even.  Do 90% of the talking in any conversation and always make sure to bring it back to you – be a one-upper.  Listen with the intent of responding, rather than the intent of listening.

8. Be A Hypocrite

Don’t practice what you preach. Neither say what you mean nor mean what you say. Tell your children to “do as I say, not as I do.” Talk a great deal about how wonderful something is, and never do it, use it, or apply it to your life. Convince other people to do things you won’t do yourself. Don’t follow through, ever. Refuse to see your own mistakes. Be a blame shifter. Convict others of their wrongdoings despite your own participation in the same behavior.

9. Have Expectations

Create plans for anything and everything under the sun. Get mad when things don’t go your way and/or people don’t follow your plan (see #4). Expect others to behave as you would like them to do. Give advice (especially unsolicited) and then get mad when people don’t follow it. Keep a narrow, focused view on how things will be, what is allowed and how all parties shall behave. Get upset when this doesn’t play out like you’d anticipated.

10. Make an ASS out of U and ME

Make Assumptions. Screw correlations and coincidences, live life in the cause and effect mode. Do not consider options, gather facts, supporting details or evidence. Use one example, one moment, one event, or one opinion to permanently form your own schema, neuroplasticity be damned.  Take nothing at face value. Always jump to conclusions, make inferences where none are needed and read into EVERYTHING.

Ready to let that shit go? Read this: Ten Ways To Make Your Own Damn Sunshine

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. ~ Winston Churchill

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Ten Ways to Make Your Own Damn Sunshine

BOOM! This got traded up to the big leagues. Read it here:

 http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/08/ten-ways-to-make-your-own-damn-sunshine/

DON’T MESS WITH KARMA

“Dude. Totes. Whatev’s. OMG” (prounounced “ohemgee,” btw. . . ). Yep. These are words that have just landed in the vocabulary of my eight year old daughter. Holy. Shit.

Now this girl has had some serious sass from day one, she’s my kid after all, poor thing can’t hardly help it. Nature and nurture are both on the same team here in their ambitious support of the development of her well rounded but sarcastic personality (and, ahem, the vocabulary to back it up, baby).

While I’ve been on the longer end of the rope in this tug of war for quite some time now, she’s my girl, and uh, her biceps are getting kind of big.

To use another metaphor, the Sassy Pants Express just arrived, about two years earlier than anticipated and missing one other adult on the platform to welcome it.

Crap.

In examining how to best approach this, I immediately went into research and reflection mode, of course. I even wore my glasses, for effect and all, not because I can’t see without them . . .

Now for the background knowledge part. CHECK. Got it. That bucket is full, overflowing even. I have substantial professional training, education and experience that help me generate the “right” answers and give the “right advice” for parenting, child and human development. I also have a wealth of resources in the form of warm bodies at arms length via my most incredible friends, family and business associates.Plus, in the event none of these are sufficient, whatever I don’t know I can just google it. . . right?

However. And this is a big however, applying this schema and practice to my own child, or anyone with whom I have powerful emotional connections, is a whole different story with all new characters.  Managing attitude and reactions with your own peeps ups the challenge level from novice to expert. In fact, it’s the reverse; I can easily go from expert to novice in the matter of one eye roll.

Okay, so clearly this is a challenge, and not a small one. Now what? Well my darling, to put it bluntly, remember, Karma’s only a bitch when um, you are.

Not  worried?  Think  you  only  have  good  karma  coming your way?  Congratulations,  you  get  a  prize.   It’s a pair of glasses . . . you know, so you can see past the end of your nose. Oops, weisenheiming attitude of mine coming back out, my bad.

Let me try that in a more loving way. We all make mistakes, we all fail, and we all want to duck responsibility for our actions at some point. It’s natural. However, the universe remembers and it likes to remind us, later, generally when we’d least like to see that scar.

Case in point- I will always remember this sermon a pastor gave at a church I used to attend (yes, I went to church. Close your mouth, you look like a fish. It was a long time ago, in another life. I might give it another go here sometime, just not in the red velvet carpeted pews held down by white haired old ladies and their snoring cantankerous gentleman companions. . . ). In any case, the pastor’s line was this-

“remember, whenever you point at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

Try it. Ha! Oops, right? Like, big, big oops. Yeah. Accountability time starts now so put down your fingers and CTFD already.

Here’s the deal- you get what you put out there. Give happy, get happy. Give gratitude, get gratitude. Give smiles, get smiles. On the contrary, give negativity, get back attitude. Glare at someone, receive a frown in response. Raise your voice, get yelled at in return. See where I’m going here?

As a classroom teacher, my best moments were when I matched a students anger with love. When I met a raised voice with a quiet one. When I responded to confrontation with calm direction instead of resistance. When I send out kindness and respect even when I didn’t necessarily see it in front of me. These were the golden moments, the breakthroughs, the way we established a positive culture of learning in our room.

As a parent, when I’m in a bad mood, my kid’s language starts to shift, their actions become more intense, their negative energy level soars. When I’m happy, they smile, they play, they dance, they respond to me in kind. When I start the day in a pleasant mood I limit the chance that they will begin their day in a bad mood. If I start my day cranky and distracted their behavior declines rapidly.

It goes both ways too, their attitude effects others as well. In fact when the brassy lass herself stomps out of her bedroom determined to wreck havoc on anything misfortunate enough to be in her path I calmly ask her to return to her room, take some deep breaths in her bed and restart her day when she is ready to be kind. She gets a do-over, right there, and it works. That little lady has some pretty solid letting-go skills going because she actually resets pretty damn fast.  Nice work kid.

This enigmatic dynamic holds true in all relationships with people in all scenarios. On the freeway, at the grocery story checkstand, the coffee shop, the wine bar, even the line at the DMV. The calmer and kinder you are, the better the reaction you are likely to entice from others. Even if it doesn’t’ result in a change in their behavior, it will most certainly have a positive effect on yours. When you maintain composure and monitor your reactions your own mood is better, and for longer stretches of time.

Your turn now. The next time someone cuts you off at the intersection, just smile and wave at them. Don’t yell, don’t give them the bird. Chances are good it was unintentional anyway. Watch their reaction, see if being calm helps you also.

When you are re-enacting the “The Never-Ending Story” while awaiting your two minute appearance at window seven, instead of moaning and groaning about it and in turn encouraging the other (equally bored) patrons to commiserate with you, try sparking a conversation with someone. Ask a question, smile at a toddler, pull your shoulders down from your ears, relax your neck and stop twitching your foot (insert blushing, guilty face emoticon here).

With your kids, your family, or your friends, watch your energy level. See what happens when you keep it chill. If a situation comes up, try not to react in a way that matches their negative energy and instead respond with love and kindness.  Pay special attention to your tone of voice and body language, they say a great deal more than the words you choose.

So there we have it. A big, giant, monumental challenge to maintain composure in light of whatever is thrown our way. Will this be hard? Will we fail several times? Yep. That plan will continue to backfire, we will slip up again, progress that we make may momentarily lapse when we make an epically bad decision. That will happen for sure.But, the positive optimistic and resilient mindset reminds us that taking a step backward after taking a step forward isn’t a disaster – it’s simply a chance to learn the cha-cha. So universe, I’ve got an attitude or three to handle, stat, let’s dance.

Remember, how others treat you is their karma, how you react is yours;
choose your boomerang wisely.  
 
 
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