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Category Archives: Staying Positive

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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But What If?

Last night I was at my daughter’s softball game. It was a late start so by the time the first pitch was thrown the sun had already set. Off in the distance was a spectacular lightning display as storms were raging to the south of us. I overheard a child ask their dad, “What if it starts raining?” The dad reassured her that the storms were very far away and not an immediate threat and to enjoy the game. I took the guy’s advice and just sat back and enjoyed watching my daughter play what was probably one of the best games of the season. I put all other thoughts to the back of my mind and focused on the joy of watching my kid steal third base.

How often do we get wrapped up in worrying about the “what ifs” in our lives? So much so that we completely miss the opportunity to enjoy the here and now. I’m guilty of it. Quite frankly, I’m guilty of it right now. Worried about two weeks from now to the point of not focusing on2012-10-17 21.21.03
how amazing today is and how hard I’ve worked to get to this point.

You can easily cloud your head with what ifs. They’re so easy to create as there are countless scenarios as to how things might turn out. The problem is, we typically make “what ifs” a negative thing. What if it rains? What if she breaks her ankle? What if the car breaks down? What if the check doesn’t show up on time? What if my ex gets a boyfriend/girlfriend? What if I’m unable to support my family? What if it turns out Godzilla is real and he terrorizes my town forcing us to live underground and live on beetles? Sound familiar? I believe there’s a fine line between preparing yourself for the future and worrying about the things we have absolutely no control over. Or, as I’m well versed in, creating unrealistic scenarios, many of which would make for a great Lifetime movie of the week.

Some things we simply can’t tackle until they happen. Think back to all of the what ifs you worried about during the past year. How many of them actually came to being? I’m willing to bet it was less than 10%. We cloud our heads so much worrying about things that never actually happen. We really do. Yes, bad things are going to happen and there are going to be bad days. They’re going to happen. But they don’t need to consume us before they happen.

If it’s absolutely necessary for you to worry about the future, give yourself a time each day to do so. Then acknowledge and move on. Go watch your kid play softball. Or let them teach you how to play Minecraft or demonstrate to you the value of making a list as my middle child often does. Focus on those things that you can control in the here and now. Consider the what ifs for sure, at the same time acknowledging you can only manage “What is.”

 

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Get With The Program(mer)

It is never lost on me, that each of my children are hardwired very differently. Each has their own way of approaching things and each their own interests. Sometimes these overlap, but more often than not, each has a unique set of triggers in just about every aspect of their personality.

If one of our jobs as parents is to help our kids find their passion and create a series of goals to motivate them, the first task is to recognize what it is that gets their motor running. Notice I said, “their” motor, not yours. That’s the hard part, as more often than not, what’s enticing and interesting to your kids is completely foreign to you as a dad (or mom). Or we attempt to push our own interests on them,Screenshot 2014-09-17 10.57.43 primarily because it’s easier and admittedly, who wouldn’t want their kid to show an interest in what they do. But in my house, unless you’re Beyonce’, Peyton Manning or Tom Ford, you’ll typically get a “ho hum.”

Currently, I have a fashion designer, a singer and apparently a video game developer living under my roof. It would be easy to roll your eyes and say, “sure honey, you can be a singer.” But truthfully both my fashion diva and songstress have proven to maintain a strong interest for an extended period of time in both interests. Enough so that both their mom and I are looking at ways to support the interests while giving them a well rounded understanding of both the creative and business side of their pursuits. Which leads us to the last one on the list; the video game developer.  We’ve been waiting for him to find a “calling” of sorts and it’s a somewhat new discovery that basically came about by having to answer the simple question, “Dad, how do you make a video game?”

Now, ask me how to make a music video or a bologna sandwich and I’m your guy. How to make a video game? No idea. My initial reaction was “Well, you study hard in school and go to college to learn how.” Seemed reasonable enough. The answer went over like a Flappy Bird hitting a giant lead pole as my son proclaimed, “But I want to make it NOW!” I then mentioned something about having to learn how to write “code” and escaped to the kitchen to make dinner.

My son returned about fifteen minutes later with an entire page of code he’d written in his own computer language. Obviously, this idea wasn’t going to go away any time soon.

So after I put the kids to bed I started searching on line and low and behold, there are a TON of ways for kids to learn computer programming and development. What appears to be at the top of the list is code.org, a site that features Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates along with a plethora of other computer scientists, programmers and developers all eager to help us all (not just the kids) understand computer programming. There is even a lesson on how to build your own version of Flappy Bird. This morning I showed it to my son and he went bananas. And when he’s not on the site, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m on it learning a thing or two myself.

What really gets your kid’s mojo working? Do you know? What have you done to encourage it or maybe discourage it? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.

 

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Your Loss Is Your Gain

Thought I’d stop and check in on you. How’s your holiday been so far? It can be a tough time for a lot of people and divorced parents are no exception. There’s something about the season that can make us focus on what we’ve lost rather than what we may have gained. Whether or not you have a good relationship with your ex, the
griefholidays have a way of reminding you of the un-whole aspect of your family and then unceremoniously throwing it in your face. It may be because you’re not with your kids during the holiday. It may be because you are. It may be because you’re all together but in a very different dynamic than you were a few years ago. It may even be a very positive and happy time. But it’s still a reminder of what used to be and that things may be patched, but in some ways they’re still broken.

Believe me I get it. The hard part is that there really is no “fix.” As with the loss of a loved one, all you can do is that which fate allows, which is to acknowledge and move on. Be strong. Lick your wounds, stand up straight and use your experience to your advantage. In many ways the hurt strengthens us. There’s a grit to it that allows us to know we’ve been there and made it through. It doesn’t erase the negative or fill the emptiness, but there’s something about having lived through adversity that humbles us and reminds us that we’re human.

Look, I could sit here and do my best to pump you up with words of encouragement; telling you not to focus on the pain. But honestly, I think sometimes we need to morn our losses. We need to give our souls a chance to heal. To ignore the pain is no more healthy than it is to dwell on it. If you’re sad, that’s OK. Give yourself an opportunity to grieve. It’s a part of who you are and to ignore it would be to ignore an important element of the whole “you.” So embrace it. Accept it. Carry it with you. Hold it dear rather than bury it deep where it can do
the-only-cure-for-grief-is-actionmore damage. I believe that in each of our defeats there is a victory. In every mistake a lesson to be learned. The new year represents a new dawn and an opportunity to take the sum of our experiences and build on them. To create new goals and new aspirations. To find renewed determination to make it better. And in order to do that we need to remember the hurt as much as the pleasure. Let it inspire you. Let it motivate you.

Recognize that life is a mixed bag. Too much sugar isn’t healthy for the body. We need a proper balance of emotions to feel complete. So shed a tear for the losses, share a smile for the gains and look to tomorrow for new opportunities to sore higher than you’ve ever flown. And use these moments of emptiness to remind you of where you’ve been and how amazing it will feel to be full again. Then when you’ve given yourself a chance to take it all in and come to terms with it, it’ll be time to take action and put it all behind you.

Take advantage of this time to reflect on the past year, both good and bad. A new year is right around the corner and anxious to take you on new adventures. Let’s be ready to go and see where we end up!

 

 

 

 

 

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God Rest Ye Stressful Gentlemen

Ahh the holidays! Anyone who watches television or spends time on Facebook knows it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone is so happy because it’s a time when life is pretty much perfect. We’re baking and shopping and wrapping and drinking and celebrating and worshiping. Families are in complete harmony, everyone has everything they could ever want and we’re all so gosh darn giddy we can’t help but break into a chorus of Jingle Bells every ten minutes.

And then there’s reality.

It’s about stress people! Most people I’ve talked to this holiday season seem to be way behind on just about everything. Perhaps it was the late Thanksgiving this year. But more than one friend has told me that they’re behind on Christmas cards, their house is half decorated, and they can’t find their keys. (OK, that last one was me).images-3

Let’s face it, the truth is the holidays can be incredibly stressful. Our cash flow hasn’t increased, yet our debit cards are getting dinged every fifteen seconds. We’re inundated every morning by another 83 e-mails from stores offering us 85% off and free shipping on orders over $100.00. There’s the traveling, shopping, and visiting. People seem abnormally judgmental as well, which seems contrary to what the whole Christmas thing is about, but hey, that’s just me.

The kids are out of school so there’s often childcare stress and if you’re divorced it means in most cases spreading yourself even thinner or having to be away from the kids. Depending on your relationship with your ex, you may be experiencing added anxiety attempting to schedule time with the kids and working through what can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a divorce, while at the same time trying to ensure the kids have a wonderful holiday. Regardless of the state of your divorce, chances are you’re also feeling an ounce or two of guilt for creating added stress for the kids as they get bounced around from home to home.

The holidays are also a time when people miss loved ones who aren’t around to celebrate with. We forget how many people are either separated due to military service, work, divorce or death. If you’re human, there’s a very good chance you fall into one of those categories and are missing someone this holiday season. As my readers know, this aspect of the holidays is hitting close to home this year and its affect is unmistakable. It can really put your holiday season into a tailspin and is a great cause of depression during this time of year.

And yet we move forward, faced with a choice of succumbing to the stresses that the holidays bring, or focusing our attention on bringing cheer to those around us. The reality is that the holidays aren’t unlike any
images-2other time of the year. There’s good and there’s bad. And that which we choose to focus on is really up to us. It’s easy during down time to focus on the negatives and the hardships. To feel sorry for ourselves. To stress about bills, schedules, family, traveling and being alone. But don’t we do that enough during the other 364 days a year?

My wish for you this year is that you can find joy in the season. To see through the clutter and allow the spirit of the holidays into your heart. To rise above and combat every argument with a smile and a cookie. I guarantee you that no matter how bad your world is, the guy across the street is struggling just as much if not more. Let’s face it, we all have our crosses to bare. That’s one aspect of life we really have no control over. And I’ve seen people dragging crosses ten times bigger than mine. Some things just are what they are and it’s up to us to pull up our big girl panties and keep moving forward. Otherwise we trip on em, and then we just look stupid. Let’s just be honest and say it; for many the holidays suck. So let’s all band together and have a sucky holiday together. Maybe in doing so we’ll discover a spirit we hadn’t anticipated.

I believe the holidays are a chance to let people know that they’re not alone. That someone on this earth may be hurting too for the exact same reason. It’s not easy though. It means shrugging off our own hardships and opening our hearts to another who may be hurting as well. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a smile, a friendly greeting or just an acknowledgement that someone recognizes your pain. And so I say to you, you’re not alone and you’re going to be OK. So turn on some Christmas music, make some hot cocoa and do your best to focus on the positives. I’m pretty sure if you look hard enough you have a stocking full.

 

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