Rewrite The Life Script

April 30, 2010

One thing that can be frustrating to hear from people is the fact that they can’t change the life situation they are in. Maybe they think it’s their destiny, maybe they are unaware of the support that exists within their friends, their family, or their community- or it can even boil down to a lack of strength from within one’s character.

Know this: you can rewrite the life script as long as the want and the will are there.

I know people who’ve made serious strides to right their wrongs as children, and even do it as adults when they finally decide they’ve had enough of the old ways. As humans we get into certain habits and we feel like we can’t get out of our own way. But what’s wrong with attempting something brand new? Feel those fears and get through them- because I think you would be surprised at how resilient and strong you really are.

We train our muscles within our body to work a certain way. If thrown into action, you can usually do super human things, especially with your adrenaline on high. Conversely, when we aren’t using certain things, they become weak and ineffective due to a lack of use.

We are teaching our daughters that they can rewrite their life script at any time they have the desire to. They have to believe they can change. They have to want to change. They have to be willing to accept the help from all of the resources currently surrounding them. Then they have to activate their new life skills when thrown into turmoil to develop better, more positive outcomes.

I know it’s hard for them to relate to my wife and I and our family background. We both lived in homes with the same two parents. We never had to worry about the police being called for the chaos and turmoil from day to day. Our parents worked hard every day to provide a stable, loving home for us as children to thrive in. So our daughter believe more in circumstances working against them rather than believing in the power of positive outcomes.

We will start by conducting a massive cleanup of our apartment this weekend. When you don’t feel like your house is a home, it’s the easiest area I think to slack off on and not take a lot of pride in. Cleaning up the clutter in our lives I think will release some pent up frustration and tension and give everyone a sense of relief at a job well done.

We have the promise ahead of summer, the opportunities for everyone to do something exciting and new ( I almost sound like the theme song to “The Love Boat” here). If there’s one thing I’m confident in, it’s the ability for each family member to develop the strength and the skill to not only become a survivor but to also build a better life for themselves. I’ll keep you posted on the progress as I want us to have more smiles and laughter than anger and bitterness.

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What Makes Me Smile

April 29, 2010

The reflective moments as we think about the pictures of our past.

The cats who willingly hop on my bed or greet me expectantly at the door when I return home from work.

My daughters who are happy to share the events of their day.

My wife who can make me laugh at any point in time and knows when I need people around me to pick me up emotionally if I’m feeling down.

My teammates in bowling who share in one of my favorite activities that I’ve ever had the chance to learn from, grow from, and excel at.

The sun when it beats down on earth for a great day.

Curling up with a great book where I can learn, can grow, can apply information to my life, and can help others.

Writing about music and interviewing the artists behind the music, as I believe I would be ready for a train to insanity if I didn’t have music to keep me happy in my life.

Finding out that many of the things I talk about make other people smile, think about their own lives and actually improve things for the better.

Hearing praise about how we handle things as a family even when it seems like inside we wonder when everything will just settle down.

Friends both near and far. The distance or the time seems to evaporate when we get the chance to connect again.

Watching a good comedian, either on the television, internet or in person. Laughter is good for the soul and even better for your total well being and health.

The love of my family. I know that when things are great, they’ll be there to share in my victories. When things are tough, they are there for comfort and support.

Success magazine. I can learn from the best experts in various fields of today’s generation as well as generation’s past.

Setting goals and achieving them. Whether big or small, or taking me a month or 30 years to achieve them, the outcome warms my head and heart- and makes me want to set and achieve more as I grow older.

Holiday dinners. Something about cooking the meals and working together to put on a feast, then sitting down to enjoy it, reminds me of the specialness of family and bonding.

The adoption finalization ceremonies for both my daughters. Everyone involved went out of their way to make these days important for each daughter.

Going to concerts. Once again a chance to socialize and connect to people on a number of levels. Life is about the experiences, the sharing, the caring.

Hearing my in laws sing happy birthday into my cell phone every year. This never gets old.

This is a short list of the things that make me smile. Why don’t you compose one of your own and add a few to the comments section of this blog? Would love to see what lights everyone up in the world.

Thank you for reading, I appreciate the help and support.


Consistency

April 28, 2010

The above title to this blog is what I strive for most in life. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to handle the bumps and mountains, the ups and downs and the odd curve balls life throws at you- but I prefer my life to be as consistent as it can be. Planning and preparing to develop the best days possible.

2010 so far hasn’t been consistent in my mind. Hard to have consistency within the family when we’ve struggled to all be together in the same place together for longer than a few weeks. Conversations turn into one sided monologues with the other person waiting until a gap of silence occurs so the other one can get their thoughts out there. But is anyone really hearing anybody else?

As the father of the family, both girls toss and turn about what my role should be like. I think at times they enjoy the soft comfort of me as a gentle person, yet at other times I become a punching bag for their emotional turmoil. They’d rather reveal their most intimate details of their troubles to their mother- and feel like when they are ready then I should find out- being the last to know in the family circle.

I know that when my girls become adults, they are going to look back and probably realize all of the wasted energy they expended in a negative manner towards people that they can’t ever get back. They may not be able to make all the amends for the time, but I’m hoping that they strive for a consistently balanced lifestyle where they realize their behavior does have an effect on everyone around their immediate environment- and sometimes beyond.

So where do I look for consistency right now? Within myself, it comes down to lifestyle habits I choose to exhibit. Reading at least 30-60 minutes a day with uplifting material from self-help, parenting, business, psychology, financial and personal development stories and books. Making every shot count when it comes to bowling- not taking for granted any spare or split leave. Boosting up the morale of my teammates when they need a helping hand. Getting to work on time and putting in a full night- assisting the needs of the hospital staff and patients wherever and whenever I can.

I have to remember to focus on what I can control and not worry about the external, outside factors I can’t control. When my daughters are willing to come to me, I’ll embrace it. When I feel they need assistance, a kind hug, a bright smile, or just an ear to listen- I will provide that for them. I do want them to be real, respectful and responsible. I can’t take the emotional distance they display personally- as part of it is their age and part of it relates to their upbringing.

Much like professional sports teams with long seasons (basketball and baseball most notably), we can’t win all of our battles all of the time. So I consistently strive to learn from every interaction, both good and bad, so that the next time the outcome will hopefully be beneficial to all.


Impulse Against Action

April 27, 2010

We all have impulses. When you are younger, the impulses often took over without a second thought- leading to actions that in retrospect, you wish you could take back. Words that you didn’t mean to say. People you didn’t mean to hurt. Yet when the actions continue to affect others, your patience and tolerance level for certain actions gets lower and lower as the months and years progress.

In my case as a child, I didn’t need to repeat actions five or ten times to get the message. Running away doesn’t solve anything. destroying myself with illegal substances or activities doesn’t solve anything- learning to talk about the issues and getting help were the best methods for feeling better and getting by.

When you adopt children who didn’t live with you from birth, you can’t always determine what will set their impulses off. You hope they are honest with you about what they are doing, but often they won’t tell you the full story. I think it’s partially related to trust- but often there’s a mental block that appears.

The tug of war continues in the mind of our oldest daughter. She hears things said by fellow classmates and then feels flashbacks come in her head- which result in more poor choices and behavior. This has been consistent for the past couple of months, and we don’t know what we can do to have her thinking in her wise mind rather than her emotional mind. She knows how to use certain therapy skills, but at other times the impulse wins out to get revenge, so action comes out negatively.

Medication can’t cure this problem. It only puts a band aid on a brain chemistry issue. You can feel the emotion- but as a human you need to stop the feeling from overtaking in a lash out manner. We want her to make the right decisions and as parents not feel like we have to make all of these choices for her. She knows we love her, and we are struggling to improve her own self-esteem and confidence to make the better choices.

It’s the start of another week, and I suppose my vacation time gave me a brief respite from the momentary chaos that can happen. At some point things have to level off. Our children need to make better choices or they will have to live in supervised homes the rest of their lives. It’s less of a life than I expect for either one of them.

But my wife and I are making sure we aren’t on the merry go round with her. We aren’t angry or bitter, we are sad and perplexed as to how to get her the best help we can. We want to turn this ship in the right direction, and she has to be a willing, believing participant in the process. We know there are certain norms and behaviors expected in the public- and we need to teach her what is acceptable versus when she takes space and keeps herself safe.

Fear comes out in many ways- but I would hope at this point in the journey, both our daughters would know there isn’t anything we can’t handle if they are willing to give us the chance to help. No one is asking them to survive on their own- we know problems crop up and let’s just face them one by one.


Avoiding Conflict

April 26, 2010

I’ll admit when it comes to verbal confrontation, I tend to be very passive and hope that things subside through time. I find I can confront fears and insecurities better on paper or through blogging than I can face to face. Yet I know it’s an area of my life I’ve been working on.

When you feel a system is failing you, you have to rise up and stand on the shoulders of what’s right. We’ve learned with our children that you can survive and you can be free knowing that you went into a challenge with the other parties knowing your feelings and what you want. You may not necessarily get exactly the desired results, but it’s better than being silent and as a result having other people decided your fate.

My wife has taught me many lessons on just putting your thoughts and feelings on the table, because who knows what will come up. If we didn’t take the risk, we wouldn’t have all of the services in place that we have. You may be afraid of counselors and therapists and social workers and doctors and others in positions of power- but do not be afraid to assess situations and stick to your gut if you feel something isn’t going right.

Before taking my nap yesterday, my wife and I had a heart to heart about some of the little things we’ve been bantering back and forth about. It was good to see that we’ve noticed the similar funk that we’ve both been going through in the past six months since our children and their escalating mental health issues have taken place. We are able to look at serious issues honestly and recognize that we both play a part in the situation. As a result some changes may be made both large and small- and we will see if this helps to smooth out our household and the day to day functioning.

My youngest daughter talked with me when I took her out on a day pass from her treatment center about conquering one of her biggest fears: heights. She went on a special ropes course and realized that she’s a lot stronger about life than she originally thought. I praised her and let her know that if she can conquer a fear of heights, she can conquer anything that’s placed before her as long as she trusts her instincts and abilities. I’m hoping that this gives her renewed hope in reuniting with us in our home in a better place emotionally.

So don’t let conflicts weigh you down. View them as small challenges and see if there’s a way to step by step come to a resolution. It may not be something that comes easily or quickly, but I know that the more that we can lessen our stress the better we feel in terms of our total well being. Look at the parts of your life that you’ve been putting off for months or possibly years and see if you can get some of them tightened up. Seek assistance, seek counsel, seek outside resources- and come to a final decision yourself.


Sunday Musings

April 25, 2010

I’ll be back to work this evening. I’ve had a satisfying vacation, getting the chance to hang out with many of my friends, slow down the pace of life and also catch my bearings. I thoroughly enjoyed bowling at the state tournament with my brother and father. Even though I didn’t exactly set the lanes on fire with my scoring, I got the opportunity to see a member of the opposing team throw his first 300- taking my own memories back a few years ago when I finally accomplished that long time goal.

I got the chance to run into bowlers from all across my state. We may only see each other once a year at this point, but I find that we can fall right into place with our previous experiences and take the time to share stories about our lives. Even with all the family chaos I’ve experienced this year, it’s nice to just find out how other people are doing, what they are thinking and showing genuine interest in what you’ve been up to, both on the lanes and off.

The Red Sox this season can’t seem to play their way out of their hitting woes. The starting pitching has been very suspect as well. Let’s hope that April isn’t a sign of how their season will go when the summer heat comes into effect. At least we have the Celtics and Bruins playoff series to keep us entertained up here in New England if the baseball team isn’t playing very well.

Another book I’ve been reading is The Metabolism Miracle by Diane Kress. It’s a 4 month process to detox your body and reset your eating habits, but based on what I’ve seen so far through the book, it makes a lot of sense. After I complete this 30 day soda free trial (day nine is officially in the books, no serious withdrawal effects) I think I’m going to push myself full force in this plan. I’ll keep everyone posted on the ideas expressed as well as how I tackle this process- as I’m sure there will be ups and downs to share.

One band I finally took the opportunity to fully delve into would be Sweden’s Katatonia. For some reason I’ve seen them consistently hitting the top of critical year end lists and getting favorable interviews all over the place, but I didn’t really dive into their discography. While I was at my local Newbury Comics the other day, I saw an album on sale for $7.99 and couldn’t resist.

Silly me. They have such a dynamic, hypnotic stance to their doom/atmospheric sound. You’ll feel your head flailing one moment, and then the next air drumming along to the off tempo grooves. I can see why some people think they are one of the best bands in metal today. I need to complete the catalog and very soon.

Has this been random enough around the edges for you today? Thank you once again for taking the time to read my thoughts and understand all of the ramblings of an adult mind. I appreciate the support and kindness you extend to me. It’s great to hear feedback, more often in person or on the phone than by email, but it’s very much welcomed. Keep thinking in the moment and you’ll be surprised how life turns out for you.


Solutions Focused Therapy Thoughts

April 24, 2010

I just got the chance to read a brief story in Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s latest book Switch regarding the technique of solutions focused therapy. They looked into a troubled student named Bobby who seemed to be shuffling in and out of foster homes, in ninth grade and struggling to stay out of trouble in school. After using solutions focused therapy with a counselor, his rate of principal visits for discipline issues declined 80%.

Instead of looking at the problems, the counselor would ask questions of when Bobby could remember times he didn’t get in trouble at school as much. From there they would both explore what was happening in those times of the day, which particular teachers he liked and what specific actions those adults were taking to make Bobby feel comfortable and welcome to participate appropriately.

From there, the counselor passed this information on to other teachers in the school system so they could mirror this for the rest of his school day. Some of the tips were as easy as greeting Bobby at the door as he entered the classroom to making sure Bobby understood the directions of a given assignment after the class began working on it.

I think this is an aspect worth exploring within my family, especially with my youngest daughter. If we can get some specific, vivid memories she’s had where she’s felt special, important, happy and welcome in the family environment, we can then work on mirroring this on a regular basis so we can build back that bank of lost self-esteem and self-confidence.

I feel it’s come back with my oldest daughter, now that she has a therapy mentor to talk to about various issues as well as animal therapy. She began tracking her verbal and temper tantrum outbursts within a journal, so that she’ll be able to process better with her mentor in a week to week fashion.

With my family, we are consistently having to reformat and retool how we approach the needs to come to a workable solution. We have four different and distinct personalities and family backgrounds coming together as one. A lot of what we learn we have to see for ourselves, because accounts written in years past may not have exactly happened as they appeared on the papers. We are aware that as they grew closer to us, many of the past negative events could come from the recesses of their minds straight into the forefront.

So if you feel like you are personally at a standstill with tackling issues from your past, take the time to close your eyes and visualize some of the better moments of your day and your life. Remember how you felt, remember the people around you, remember the environment, remember what made everything so special and pleasant. If you need a friend to remind you of a great moment or two, pick up the phone and call them or see if you can arrange a get together in person.

The subtitle of Switch is ‘How to Change Things When Change is Hard’. I know change is an aspect of life I struggle with everyday- but I’ve been learning more with my daughters that you can change, you can grow, and you will still thrive and survive.

My vacation is almost at an end. I feel much less tense about where life is going for myself and my family, and things can only look upward and forward from here.