health, inspire

Emotional Hygiene

 

Part of my goals this year are about using my time more thoughtfully. (I’m looking at you, hour long commute! You too, meal prep marathon!) Instead of riding along listening to 70s music (again) or the usually depressing news, I wanted to start listening to podcasts. I loaded some up and have enjoyed quite a few (while easily deleting others after a couple of episodes.)  I’ve learned that some are pleasant to listen to, even inspiring, and will linger with me.  Then, there are others where I am actively nodding, mind completely engaged, stopping to jot notes down to think about or follow up on later. I’ll share interesting tidbits once in a while.

The first one I wanted to share here is an episode from Lewis Howes’s School of Greatness podcast. Specifically, an episode with Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who now trains people to negotiate across many fields, especially business.  This is definitely an episode I would have skipped based on the topic / title except for one thing…I was going to a car dealership later that day to buy a car.  People who know me can guess I’d be nervous about negotiating anything, so when I saw this episode title I thought to myself…well…maybe I can learn something that will help me feel more confident in negotiation for this car.

As I listened, most of what stood out to me was about mindset.  He talked about the way much of our brains (around 75%!) are neurologically wired to be negative – to defend ourselves for example, but we are actually significantly smarter when we are happier.  Like, 31% smarter.  That’s huge! This comes from Harvard professor Shawn Achor’s Ted Talk, The Happiness Advantage.  Who knew that just by being happier we boost our smarts?  Left me with a lot to think about.

Another tidbit that struck me was Voss mentioning the importance of gratitude in starting your day.  He recommends that we write down 1-3 things to be grateful for at the beginning of the day as “emotional / spiritual hygiene.”  I’ve known the importance of gratitude for a while.  I’ve even written about thanks on this blog. But I think the idea of how gratitude is as necessary as taking a shower or brushing your teeth was a mind shift for me.  It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary in order to get your brain framed up the right way for the day.  Gratitude is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is a daily practice that keeps us on track.

So far, podcasts are an interesting new way to learn for me…I’m late to the party, I know, but I’m figuring it out.  Do you have any podcasts you enjoy or recommend?

As for negotiations, I have started to notice all the subtle little negotiations we make during our days, from the coffee line to casual conversations at work.  Will I improve at them using what I’ve learned?  I’ll let you know.  In the mean time, I still haven’t bought a car, but that’s a story for another post.

 

 

 

 

awareness, featured

The trigger. The seize. The aftermath.

 

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He was clearly upset. Withdrawn. Facing away from us when they finally arrived after going around and around and around again trying to find us. So much effort and time trying to relax at the beach. Environmental conditions created stress. A lot of stress.

The trigger: stress in his environment. Unknown factors lurking. A racing mind.

Recently he had been doing so well with helping and navigating and being responsible in life and on this trip. I know he is growing up and takes such pride in his adult successes… he’s achieving and as he achieves new challenges come. He is growing up.

Miscommunication leads to frustration adding to elevated stress levels. Triggers in his world. Triggers that can spark negative thoughts and emotions that make his mind race. The peace in his brain turns to excitement or sparks.

After staring into the ocean, silent, for a while, I could see he was trying to manage those feelings. Those sparks that agitate him. He finally just turned over and laid down, head down, on the beach blanket. No sunscreen, no words, no nothing. He was trying to settle him. I know that feeling!

Every few minutes he would pick up his head and pound the sand where his face would lay as hard as he could. I figured he was trying to carve out a resting spot for his ears and cheeks. But he was also still working out that ball in his stomach. He probably popped up three times to pound the sand. I offered him our shovel but he didn’t respond. He was in his own space. His own head space. He was battling his inner demons.

A turbulent mind I would explain to most. Filled with why me? Why now? Why in public? What did I do to deserve this life? At one point he got up and went to put his feet in the water then went right back to sleeping, wrapping a shirt around his head. he just laid there silent and still in the sun. One may think this is no big deal.

I see it. I see the challenge. I see the mental burden. I see the chaos lurking. I see the pending explosion. The seize is here. The seize is happening.

It was the sound that hit me first. It was a guttural scream, a groan, a call. A shout. And then he was jumping, lunging, arms out reaching for the closest object or person of comfort.

5-8 seconds seems like a lifetime in this moment. Passers by freeze. Judgment is silent. An eerie feeling is in the air as those close say nothing.

The girl who was sitting next to me in our low beach chair was the support. I knew what was happening and tried to jump in between them. Told him who I was and where he was. I used his name. It’s ok. It’s me. You’re on the beach. You are safe. Put my hand on his arm to try to calm him. He was still confused. He said his ribs were hurting and grabbed his side. That’s when I got scared since I didn’t know what that meant. I got help.

She was in in the water just feet away. Not out too far. I ran out to her and she was calm. She asked me what happened and just coolly walked back to him. She knew it was coming just didn’t know when.

At least she seemed cool compared to my jumpy insides. She called him over about halfway to him. Come get in the water with me. And he did. He went with her and they walked out together and a minute later he dove in the waves. I just watched silently as she cared for him and walked through it with him as she had a million times before. Then they called for boogie boards and I brought them quickly. Then off they went just laughing and swimming and hitting the waves.

When he came in you could tell he was a little quiet. Self conscious. She said he surveyed to see who noticed, who saw his episode. Like he has done many times before. Then the day just wore on. He threw the football and flew a boogie board like a kite and laughed and smiled his special radiant smile.

Did I do anything right? Did I help? His seizures are so different than the ones I had seen in the past. I thought I would help him get to the floor and try to cushion his head and protect him from hurting himself as the seizure ran its course. None of the that happened.

This was quick but violent. I wasn’t prepared. It was unexpected. If I was startled I could only imagine what this felt like for him. I understand he fears the seize daily. The unknown. The perceptions of others in the aftermath.

How would I feel living this way? Would I even want to live this way? I admire this boy for overcoming this challenge and the many challenges he will see in his future. Life isn’t easy. Adding a medical challenge like seizures to your life as you enter adulthood may be one of the toughest hurdles he will have to overcome.

I, like many others, admire this young man. He is so strong and so determined but also so tender and kind. He’s a caring soul. He loves kettle corn and kinder chocolate, he gives amazing hugs and is so generous with family and loved ones. He has also endured so much but never takes advantage. He works above and beyond and without drawing attention to it or complaining. He cares so hard for others, keeps a warrior’s heart while weathering storms in his own brain. New love new admiration. And a new desire to understand and cheer for him in ways that matter.

And then his Mom, who had taught him all of this with courage and resilience and determination. Who fights for him and expects him to become his best self. Uncompromising in her belief in him and advocacy for him.

I’m in awe and amazed constantly and more so now than ever. If you ever come across a family who battles daily with a medical challenge, offer kindness and hope your way.

You never know if it’s a good day or a bad day for them. They are most likely shielding their life struggles like most put a bandaid on a cut. Kindness matters. Never judge unless you can walk a day in that hero’s shoes.

He is my hero. Our hero. He his one tough cookie. Today we celebrate him and where he is going in life. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Seize today.

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anonymous letters, family

The Next Chapter Is In Motion

Motion: fast motion, slow motion or no motion. Which one is it?

Right now, I would say we are stalled. Where do I go? Who will help me? What am I entitled to get? Why do things cost so much? Why do I have to pay for that? How can I get a job paying 40k/year with no training, experience or advanced degree?

I almost think high school needs a “Welcome to Adulthood” class as a required step for graduation. No sugar coating things. Make them live as an adult for 60 days. See how many pass that class! Much better choice than a baby class because if you can’t be an adult, you certainly shouldn’t have a baby anytime soon.

Welcome to adulthood. Welcome, my friend. Welcome to the world of bills, bosses, crappy work hours, and so much more. It’s called adulting!

Yes, adulting is the coveted thing smart ass teens long for. Their freedom. Their ability to make their own rules. Their ability to do or not do.

They forget when you cut the cord, nobody does your laundry. Nobody pays for your car insurance. Nobody pays for that cell phone you are on 24/7. Nobody pays for your haircuts, clothes or toiletries. Why do kids today think adulting is the thing to do right now?

Kids these days don’t think about savings accounts for a rainy day. They don’t think about what happens if they can’t pay their rent. They just think somebody will help them. A form of entitlement, I guess.

This isn’t just something I see from just my parenting lens. I see it with others. Maybe not all, but a lot of kids in the middle-class suburbs where my kids have been raised. Very different from my upbringing.

To get started, I must go back a short bit. To sum up the past 9-12 months of my life could only be categorized as an insane yet thrilling roller coaster ride with many twists, turns, ups, downs, loop-de-loops and all the insane tummy drops that go along with the above!

But during it all, I remained calm on most days. I relied on my friends and family for moral support and I endured a lot of sweat in the gym to keep me grounded. All of which got me to today with a big smile on my face. I may even drop 10 pounds from reducing my stress now that this big day is here. I’ll call this the turning point.

As I sigh on one chapter coming to an end, I grin with a new one beginning. I hold my head up high and cheer loud and proud for my middle child who graduates high school. Not the straight-A student but a hard worker with a heart of gold. He battled to get to this point, but he did it and I couldn’t be more proud of him!

As he enters adulthood with that diploma in hand, he will be ready to tackle his life adventures with confidence knowing he graduated. Wherever he travels, whomever he falls in love with, whatever trouble he gets in, or whatever career path he chooses, his momma will still be there for him through thick and thin.

It’s time to cut the cord! My role changes now. I am a supporter from this point forward. I am no longer a life guide, decision maker, and prime financial supporter. Turning into an adult comes with responsibilities and growth. His decisions may frustrate me at times but they’re his decisions to make. The big 18. The legal adult. Legal adults get bills, accountability and headaches.

He can choose to drink, smoke, get a tattoo or worse. He gets to choose and learn from mistakes as well as celebrate accomplishments. It’s his road/path/journey.

It’s funny when your know-it-all teens realize that soap, haircuts, gas and other things are expenses just like rent, food, clothing, vehicles, etc. The real world hits quickly. When you finish up school, it’s time to get a job and be a contributing adult. How quickly one learns that adulting sucks on most days!

It’s time to let child #2 soar to his new heights. My job is done for now. May he take the strength and wisdom I taught him over the years and springboard into his own level of happiness.

Dream big kiddo. Seize the day. You deserve the very best and I know the best is still ahead for you. Embrace life and all the experiences in front of you.

Choose your friends wisely and think before you make you make decisions with long-term consequences.

xoxo,
Your Mom

awareness

The One about the Turtle Crossing the Road

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When she was little, my daughter Anne loved turtles.  She used “turtle girl” as her nickname online.  She had a turtle named Swimmy for a pet.  She loved reading about turtles.  When we went to the beach, I scheduled time for us to work with local turtle patrols, visit aquariums, or watch turtle hatchlings be released into the ocean.

Turtles were her thing.

She’e a teenager now and her interests have broadened, but deep down I think she still has a soft spot for turtles.

So it didn’t surprise me a couple of weeks ago when we were out and about, driving on a long rural road, and I dodged a turtle stopped right in the middle of our lane.

Just like I used to do when Anne was little, I screamed “turtle!” and, just like she did when she was little, she yelled “turn around!”

It was a long stretch of road with rolling hills…visibility was tricky…cars were flying by…no flat shoulder and few places to turn around.  When I finally turned to go back for the turtle, someone came up speeding behind me so I couldn’t pull over.  So, we found a place to turn around again, and tried again.

I had my hazard lights on so people knew I was up to something.  Pulled over on a soft grassy spot, then she gave a quick look and jumped out of the car.  She ran full force probably seventy-five yards back and got the little guy.  She picked him up gently and moved him across the road in the direction he was going, just like we learned about when she was little.  She placed him down right by a small pond near the side of the road.  And off he went. Safe for the moment.  And then off we went toward our destination, feeling like we helped the world in some small way.

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At least five cars passed over him while we were making that multi-step turn around.  Who knows how many more had flown past him, over him, as he slowly made his way across the lanes toward his goal.

All this made me wonder about how many people I know, who I see daily, who are trying to cross their own treacherous lanes in life.  How many people do I know who are moving toward goals but keep dodging obstacles, negativity, or just the rushing flow of the daily grind? How many are in periods where things in life are flying by, in different directions, leaving them pulled into their shells much of the time?

Do I even notice them?  Or am I just speeding by, consumed with my own tasks and concerns, not even seeing those who I could help along if I just slowed down and took time to pay attention?

And how can I lift them up, shoulder their burden, ease their journey somehow? How can I put my lights on so people know I am slowing down, wanting to help, up to something?

These are the questions that are on my mind this morning. It doesn’t take that much to help someone across a scary patch.  I just need to pay more attention, be willing to slow down. Be more open and attentive. Work to see the potholes and rough patches others might be crossing. Sharing my own bumps and tumbles so they feel safe sharing their own.

What good is it to make it to my destination more quickly, if I have passed over others I could have helped along the way?

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awareness

Beth’s OLW for 2019

 

Overdue post.

I’ve joined in the OLW (One Little Word) trend every year for the last few.  I’ve had words like focus, joy, more, and yes act as a tone-setter or guide through the year.  It usually takes me a few days to settle on one after thinking about where I am in my life and how I hope to grow.

What about 2019? After considering options like courage, go, and forward, one word kept coming back to me.

Fearless.

I originally didn’t like it since fearless strikes me a negative word.  It is about the lack of fear, instead of a positive trait like courage or fortitude.  But, then I thought about myself.  I do have a lot of fears.  I operate from worry and fear too much of the time.  I let worry keep me from taking on challenges, tasks, and possible joys. I want LESS of that for myself.  People notice when I am acting from a place of confidence and energy.  I carry myself and approach the world differently.  It shows.

So, fearless it is.  Fearless captures the power, the passion, the strength I hope to embody this year. I know this won’t mean I am suddenly unafraid or free from worry. It’s more about changing how I react to worries. I’ve already noticed myself telling friends not to get hung up on what they can’t control.  Not to operate from a place of fear.  In those moments, as I encourage friends to confront fears, I am encouraging and reminding myself, too.

Maybe I’m finally learning that, in the end, I’m the only one who catalogs my failures, not to mention the things I don’t even try to do in the first place (which are even bigger failures).  I’ve got to push forward and keep growing into myself.

This week’s example: sled pushes.  My first reaction was NO. I’m scared! I’ll get hurt! I’m too weak! (In my fearful, defensive voice!)

Then my good friend KT encouraged me to do it. Well…

And so I double checked with Coach Alex to be sure I was minimizing the chance of injury or aggravation.  He gave me form tips and the green light.  So, in front of people much stronger than me, I pushed the darn sled.  Faster and heavier than I would have ever done on my own.

Fears do come up.  They always will. It’s my choice to bow to them or challenge them.

Friends and coaches who know where I’m coming from and where I’m going help me keep pushing, fearlessly. (And in the pic below, I imagine Superman telling me I can do it, too!)

I’ll share updates about this as the year goes on.  Cheers to fearless, 2019.