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Category Archives: full schedule

The Weight of Unresolved Issues

Does this sound familiar? I have found myself remarkably overwhelmed of late. Stress and worry have consumed me at times to the point where I just shut down. It’s not like me. I mean, like anyone, I stress over things and worry. But not to the extent that I have been lately. You would think that after continually finding ways to make it all work, a person would learn to trust the cosmos a little more. But that’s hard, especially when you envision scenarios where it all goes wrong and everything comes crashing down.

Recently, while mulling over it in my head, I began to notice a pattern. While my life as a divorced dad and all that it entails; ie. juggling joint custody with three kids, maintaining a home that once required dual income, a full time job, freelance projects, schedules, groceries, dinners, lunches, laundry, etc., can be overwhelming; there’s one constant I began to notice. I seem to stress the most when I stop for too long and don’t take action on outstanding issues. I then focus so much on my outstanding negatives, I just lie there and stop dreaming, stop planning and stop acting.

I’ve continually written about the need to stop once in a while and breathe. To get rest when your body tells you it needs it. To give yourself a break once in a while. And I maintain that all of that is an essential part of maintaining your sanity. But like everything else, it’s about balance. It’s about giving yourself a break and then getting back up on your feet and moving again.

Where I’ve found my stress and anxiety becomes unbearable is when I’m not tackling issues. When I leave too many things hanging over my head. Those times when I simply stop checking 2012-12-22 13.47.03things off the list and become one with the couch for way too long. Unfinished business that needs to be finished begins to pile up and it all gets messy and complicated and if I go too long without attacking the issues, they can tend to get bigger than I can handle. And it’s simple stuff like when I put off paying a doctor bill to ensure I’ll have enough for groceries. When I let the house get too out of sorts. When I allow the “to do list” to get too long. When I start sitting waiting for life to happen, at some point my calm river becomes a series of rapids and I start to lose control of the boat.

That’s when I panic.

The problem is, it’s true; a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Getting up and taking off that first bite of the elephant can be excruciatingly difficult. But that’s really the only way to get going. Get up and start with one simple task. Then another. And another. And another.

I tend to do well when I’ve got momentum. Once I get going I almost hate to stop because I know how difficult it is to get going again once you sit down. The feeling of “gettin’ it done” is so empowering. But at some point I need to stop to recharge. Then I can’t get going again. It’s a never ending cycle. One that takes practice, faith, effort and a continued belief in your ability to keep it rockin’.

So if you’re lying there with thoughts about projects, finances, kids, schedules; all causing you to freeze up and shut down; pick yourself up and maybe go for a quick walk. Get a cup of coffee. Make the bed. Pay a small bill that has been sitting there for a while but won’t break the bank. Meet your challenges head on, but start slow and give yourself a chance to pick up steam again.

Life will continue to pile it on. It just works that way. And at times it will appear as though you can’t pick it up as fast as it’s puttin’ it down. It can be exhausting. And that’s OK. There will come times when you’re knee deep, times where you’re struggling to keep your head above water and yet other times where you’ll feel completely on top of it all. It’s never the same game twice. The secret is finding the balance and recognizing that no trend is absolute. Bad weeks will come and go as will the good ones.

Each issue in our life carries some weight. Combined it can cripple you and force you to your knees. When it gets too heavy, just start with the little items and work your way up. Eventually you’ll find yourself tackling the bigger items with more confidence and strength. But never, and this is the important part, NEVER stop dreaming.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go on Zillow and look for a 75 acre farm with horses, a pond, and a 4 bedroom house . Then I think I’ll start another load of laundry.

Peace!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in full schedule, Staying Positive, stress

 

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P&G’s Epic Olympic Fail

I’d like to start by saying how much respect I have for moms and everything they (you) do for our children. That includes my ex-wife who is an amazing mom and is incredibly supportive of our kids. I’d also like to begin by stating that this is not a bitter retort on P&G’s Olympic ad campaign rather an attempt to point out how short sighted the company’s view may have been when they first conceived this brand initiative.

First I’d simply like to remind Proctor & Gamble that dads buy your products too. We’re also very much involved in encouraging our kids’ interests and dreams; sacrificing our time, money and sometimes even our careers to ensure we’re there for them every step of the way. We typically work in tandem with mom to ensure every practice is metproctor-and-gamble and every game watched. Whether we’re married, single, divorced, gay or straight, we are equally involved in helping our children pursue their dreams. This is not about who does more, it’s about everyone sharing the responsibility, the sacrifices and those precious moments of victory. Bottom line; there was a chance here to present to the world how much America still believes in working together as a family and you completely missed it.

I was under the impression that as a society, dads were becoming more and more recognized for how involved they are in their kids’ lives. How many soccer practices, dance rehearsals, volleyball matches, drama club meetings and countless other weekly if not daily events they get their kids to. The endless lunches, dinners, snacks, loads of laundry, doctors visits and bedtime stories they’re responsible for. How many times they volunteer to coach, mentor and encourage not only their own kids but their neighbor’s kids as well. Again, not taking away from what moms do, I simply can’t fathom why P&G felt it a good idea to single out one side of such an important equation rather than take this opportunity to encourage more dads to be a part of their kids lives as I believe kids need both their mom AND dad involved.

I’m going to bet that a good majority of moms rely on their spouses or ex’s to be a part of the team. An important word that seems to have been ignored by P&G for a sporting event by the way; team. Show me a dad who hasn’t cried procter_gamble_prodthe first time he saw his daughter complete a routine during a skating competition. Point me to a father who hasn’t had an out of body experience after watching his son or daughter score their first goal. By ignoring this half of the population and parental team (there’s that word again) P&G is not only ignoring an enormous piece of their profit pie, but they’re subtly insinuating that dad was too uninterested to take time to watch his kid’s practice.

As someone who has personally thrown thousands of pitches to my daughter, hit endless pop flies, tossed a million footballs, gotten up at 6 am to run 2 miles with my 8-year-old, and sat with all the other moms and dads for hours on a Saturday during dance rehearsals I can tell you my contributions are only a fraction of what many dads do. I have friends who drive hundreds of miles to their daughter’s gymnastics competitions and still others who coach travel baseball and softball teams which requires a commitment of 6-7 days a week for months on end. And when mom is the one driving the kids to practice, there’s a good chance it’s dad who’s at home doing the laundry and putting the dishes away.

P&G would no doubt respond by saying, “we aren’t discounting the efforts of dads.” And I’m sure that wasn’t by any means their intent. The problem with the campaign is the lack of understanding it shows for the struggles many fathers go through when fighting to even see their kids every other weekend. Or the perception of the role of fathers when they face a judge during a custody battle. Or how important it is that we take every opportunity to encourage those dads who may NOT be involved to care and take an interest in their children. To you it’s a celebration of mom, to me it’s a two generation step backward in our society’s growth in understanding the importance of a father in a child’s life. Proctor & Gamble, you had an amazing opportunity to celebrate the importance of family and everyone who is involved in advancing the dreams of our children not to mention how important it is to be not just a family, but a team regardless of how you define family. Why you chose the direction of your campaign I honestly don’t know, but I will tell you I’m personally deducting major points and will strongly consider leaving your product on the podium during my next trip to the grocery store, a trip I typically take with three kids in tow btw.

 

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No, No, No, No, NO! (maybe)

Between the three of them, my kids ask for something on average about every :17.4 seconds. Many times there are simultaneous requests made that have nothing to do with each other. There are just so MANY. “Dad I need this,” “Dad can I do that?,” “Dad, have you seen my goldfish?” To that point, the word “Dad” is verbalized no fewer than 48 times an hour or roughly 600 times a day. I’ve often said the three of them can be like needy little piranha. Because of this fact, as a dad (or mom for that matter), you know how easily the word “NO” flows from your mouth. To the point that sometimes it slips out before the question is even asked. “Dad can I … ” NO!

The problem is, that mixed within the ridiculous requests of, “Dad can I take the dog in the shower with me,” “Dad can I have a pet lobster?,” “Dad can I buy this $350 pair of disposable socks?” are legitimate requests yes-no-buttonsand / or desires that deserve some serious consideration. The trick is figuring out what the motivation of a request is and when to stop and mentally wrap your head around it.

For me, there are a couple of ways of accomplishing this.

1. When possible have them wait a week. This eliminates about 40-50 percent of the requests as they usually either forget about it, lose interest or recognize that the friend who instigated the “need” has gone another route and rendering it no longer cool and therefore a waste of time and energy for all parties. If after a week it’s still something they deem important, it probably deserves a second look.

2. Suggest they will need to clean up any mess made by what they’re asking to do before they get computer or TV time. This eliminates another 25 percent.

3. Logistics and reality will usually eliminate another 15-20 percent and require an actual flat out “no” which may create some drama. But you have to have some fun am I right?

As mentioned, lost in there are another 5-10 percent of requests that likely have some weight. And our first inclination is to take a look at history and devalue the request based on what we’ve seen in the past. And
there’s truth to that. How many times have you heard yourself say, “Do you remember the last time?” or “I’m ????????????????????????????????????????still paying for the last time.” or “Yeah, that’s not happening again.” Still, they’ll offer to do the dishes, clean toilets, mow the lawn, get off of their little brother, anything to have a chance to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity that happens every Friday at 7 p.m.

So how do you know when something deserves the yes? Well. Maybe if they get themselves up and ready at 5:30 in the morning for an event that’s not shopping related. Or after two weeks it’s still something they’re interested in. Or maybe you just need to ask yourself if you’re saying no just out of habit. Or it’s a power struggle. “How many times have I told you, no, no, NO!” Are you digging in your heals to make a point about who’s in charge? Sometimes it’s worth putting ego and history aside and considering the benefits of saying yes.

The word “no.” Such an easy answer. Eliminates so much responsibility and time management. But at some point the no’s also eliminate opportunity to acknowledge your child’s self worth. And honestly, the word “No” can be nothing but a dead end that gets you nowhere with your child. Sometimes saying yes to something you completely don’t understand or consider a complete waste of energy, is actually an opportunity to bond with your child in a way you never dreamed. It’s a chance to teach them what can happen when you open your mind to the possibilities of what can happen when you say yes to the world and step outside of your comfort zone once in a while. Just letting them know, that sometimes you simply have their back is worth an occasional …

Yes.

 

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In Sync with the World

I’m fairly confident that one common reaction to a divorce is a conscious decision to protect yourself both emotionally and physically. You tend to become more rigid as a natural reaction to the pain and confusion suddenly thrust upon you. Trust takes a holiday and you begin your divorce with an initial inability to be open to compromise and find yourself going by the book and following the rules of the arrangement.

In doing so, it becomes impossible to truly get into any kind of rhythm as everyone involved has gone into a similar mode of protection with their own agenda and thoughts on how to move forward. But to successfully navigate through the pain, the anguish and the confusion, it’s crucial that we learn how to open up a bit and become more flexible in our approach to life in general, not just your ex and your children.

I recently found this video on-line that demonstrates how metronomes that are started at different times will eventually start to work in unison under the right circumstances.

If placed on a rigid surface, all of the metronomes continue to run on their own unique timing. While those placed on a surface with some give to it, eventually come together and work in sync with one another. As I watched the video I couldn’t help but compare this to my life as a divorced dad, or just my life in general. When we’re unwilling to budge and instead create an environment where there is no flux, it can quickly turn to chaos as everyone just continues to go off on their own tangent. But when we offer just a little bit of flexibility and have an ability to accept the energy around us and then redistribute it, life seems to find a way of working with a little more synchronicity.

When we can let go of our fears, our paranoias, and the negativity that come with them, we can start to once again find a way of working in rhythm with the world around us. And when that happens, everyone wins. When Insyncwe’re working against each other, all that happens are battles, fights and arguments. There are no victories only continued struggles and battle plans. And not unlike a rowing crew, the more the rowers are in sync, the smoother and more efficient the motion.

Figuring out the balance that allows you to have your own life while working in conjunction with your ex is not an easy task. It doesn’t happen over night and continues to evolve even after your divorce has been final for a while. And believe me, when the kids sense a lack of synchronicity they then fight even hard against the grain. Suddenly everyone is out step with each other and frustrated and it just feels like the entire world is crashing down in front of you.

There will be times when bending just isn’t an option and others when it is. It’s up to you (and your ex) to learn when to adjust, when to maintain structure, when to bend and when not to. Just be sure to communicate and try to be reasonable in your explanations as well as your expectations. You can’t be expected to live your life according to your ex’s schedule, nor can they be expected to live according to yours. But a little give and take goes a long way in assuring the kids get what they need, which is a good relationship with both of you. When the kids feel a sense of unison and know what to expect, it’s a win / win for everyone.

 

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Time Out Already!

If you’re like a lot of divorced dads, you work triple time to maintain your world. Especially if your kids are a regular part of it and you’re now the soul bread winner in what used to be a two income household. It can be a
lot to keep up with and the pace can wear down even the most determined individual.timeout

In the midst of what can become complete and udder chaos when you’re learning to juggle life as a single parent; every once in a while I think it’s important to just blow everything off and spend a day (or two) focused 130% on your kid(s).

While they understand that your life is crazy busy, they still need to feel like they’re one of, if not THE most important thing in your life. The last thing they need is to feel “in the way” or “just another thing you have to deal with.” And that happens quite quickly if you’re not careful, especially when you’re short with them while trying to meet a deadline or two.

The other powerful aspect of taking time to recharge is that it reminds you yourself of what’s really important. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutia of a job or particular concern you have that sometimes you just need to take a step back to regain a proper perspective. When you’re focused too intently on one aspect of your life it can easily appear much larger than it actually is. Taking a step back reminds you that, in most cases it’s just one small part of the big picture.
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You will find a sudden sense of liberation from releasing yourself of the responsibilities you’ve pushed yourself to maintain for so long. That one moment of recognizing you’re not late and won’t have to worry about traffic, deadlines, meetings etc. is like releasing the steam from a pressure cooker that’s about to explode.

Giving yourself a time out every once in a while, especially when you’re feeling an excessive amount of stress and anxiety, reminds you that the world won’t end if you’re not in the game for a play or two. If need be, delegate. Let someone else field the call. It’s also an opportunity to reassure the kids that when push comes to shove, your relationship with them is really all that matters. And by the way, NEVER feel guilty for making your kid the priority once in a while.

And even when you’re not taking that day off to be with them, remind them as often as you can how much you love it when they’re with you. Even if they blow it off, believe me they hear it and it means more than you’ll ever know.

 

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