What Can We Substitute?

July 27, 2010

So many times in life we complain that we never have enough time to squeeze in all the activities in the day we want to pursue. I understand that between work, travel, often being involved in the activities of your children you have little left in the tank for your own personal hobbies and goals.

You have to remember though: we only have a finite time on this earth. Think about the amount of time you spend in passive consumption with the radio going, the computer on, the consistent buzz of your cell phone and the background noise of television. It’s okay to have a mental and physical escape from the day to day stress, but we don’t want to spend hours on end living a satisfied life in this manner.

What can you substitute if you need to spend more time in another area? Is getting up an hour earlier a better solution if you want to get your exercise in for example? How about shutting down the television for an hour during prime time and starting up a special game night with your children? If becoming knowledgeable in a new skill for work or for personal development is in order, set aside those 30-60 minutes a day if necessary and pick up the books, the audio or video material, or take the courses and seminars you need to for your future.

We don’t want to live the rest of our lives on Someday Isle. We know plenty of people who talk about what they want to do, then fail to take that first step or risk in order to achieve what they truly desire. It’s better for some to stay complacent and complain than to actually get off of their duff, surprise themselves and as a result take their lives in a total unique direction they never expected. Don’t give me the excuses of I’m too young, I’m too old, I don’t have enough education, I don’t know where to start, and so on.

Where there’s a will, there’s always a way. I carve out the time I need to for writing, for listening to music, for bowling, for spending time with my family, for rest and relaxation. If it means I write out daily to do lists, I start the night before and know what I need to accomplish. If you love what you do, it won’t seem stressful or even like work- it will be invigorating, fun and uplifting.

Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to this new summer series with Tony Robbins called Breakthrough on NBC. It’s only a six week series, but I think now is an important time to see what changes we can make and take a look into other people’s lives to see what they have been able to accomplish with a little bit of guidance and proper direction. I’m glad Tony was persistent to get this show on the air as I know it’s been in the cards for a long time.

Have a wonderful day. Praise people in public when you catch them doing something right. Acknowledge people in the service industry who go above and beyond the call of duty. Smile and the world will smile back at you.

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Learning Effective Communication

July 24, 2010

It’s not easy to know everyone’s communication style. You have to be aware of where people are at and understand how conversations work to develop better skills in communication. I remember that I learned in junior high school that life isn’t all about bragging about who you are and what you can do- it’s actually better to become involved in what the other person says and then reveal a little about yourself as you become comfortable.

Learning effective communication is something that is a work in progress within our house. I have two strong willed daughters who definitely will make their opinions known- and want you to talk back to them in less than a sentence so they can go on once again. We’ve had to be careful when we put out thoughts that are confusing or possibly making them feel shame about themselves. Often they will hang on the negative word without really listening to the whole context of the phrase or sentence.

I think you become a better communicator through listening. I mean real active listening- where you show appropriate eye contact, facial expressions and engage in follow up questions to truly understand what the person you are talking with is saying. How many times so we engage in this activity in our fast paced lives? We seem to want to cut people off or think we know what they are saying before they’ve finished the thought coming from their brain and out of their mouth.

Children will learn best through you as a parent and a role model. If you cut them off in conversation, don’t expect them to be able to stand there for long without doing the same in return. It’s not the time to show off your impressive vocabulary either- simpler, quicker to understand concepts go a long way to becoming mainstay ideas that last a lifetime.

Take a speech class or go through Toastmasters if you want to be a better public communicator. We all need consistent feedback on how to improve in this area- especially with the fear of public speaking being so high on everyone’s list. Don’t you want to give people help and communicate ideas effectively? Imagine how much this will improve your own self-esteem? Imagine how if you are an expert on a topic that others could use your help in, how valuable this could be for a second part-time or even full time career?

I remember hearing many times throughout life that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason- so we can listen twice as much as we talk. Take the time out of your life to plug into someone else and listen- you may be surprised how much you have in common with that person and how much more you will learn. Even if it’s someone half your age or even your child- they may be able to teach you something you didn’t already know. Thank you once again for reading and keep up the good work on your journey to health, happiness and success.


I’m Not Proud

July 18, 2010

Yesterday would not be one of my most impressive moments in front of my family. On our way to head out of the house for an all day yard sale, I twirled the car keys around my fingers. As we entered the elevator, the keys slipped off my finger and down the elevator shaft. The maintenance worker searched for an hour and couldn’t find them.

What was I not proud of? I swore in front of my wife and kids. I lost my cool over something that can naturally happen in life. I felt shame and guilt for not keeping the keys safe. I’m usually the logical one, the responsible one, and this time I left myself and my family down.

I spent the better part of the day searching around for a replacement key. I got one made, and tried to re-program it for my car on my own. It doesn’t work- and then I’ve been looking online for the possible reason why.

Come to find out, you can’t program the new key unless you put in the master key to replicate it. Problem is- I wouldn’t have had a new key made if I didn’t lose the old key. Sort of like an Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” routine, I’m not caught waiting for the elevator people to come to our complex on Monday to get the problem solved.

Tomorrow will be another day. I need to learn that when I’m faced with a series of problems, I can’t lose my cool. What does it really accomplish? I may be getting rid of a moment or two of frustration, but my kids and wife remember the day that their father and husband couldn’t be a role model, and couldn’t keep things together.

It’s hard to give myself a break. I do believe that people remember the one negative thing you did versus the 10 positive things you may do thereafter. I did apologize to my children for my behavior. They will forgive me, and they will move onward. I need to remember that the next time when I’m faced with this situation, the outcome should be different.


Ever Wish

July 16, 2010

Ever wish you could set up a bootcamp for your children? Make them feel like they could know the meaning of respect, discipline and hard work?

It just may be time for a little role reversal in this house. I’m seeing far too much anger and attitude thrown about from both my daughters right now, and my wife and I aren’t happy about it. They can’t tell me things are so much worse here than when they lived in group homes. Instead of having multiple people to deal with in terms of roommates, it’s only 4 of us.

I realize in the summer time there’s more freedom and less of a solid structure. My wife and I still have to work because we don’t get the summers off from school as our daughters do. And yet they make us feel like we should be their entertainment committee, forking out our hard earned money at the mere impulsive instinct they have to buy something.

Life doesn’t work that way though.

I was working part time jobs from the time I was 13. I developed my own deejay business out of necessity to fill a need. My junior high school needed an affordable disc jockey to play at dances, and my best friend and I had the equipment and record collection to do the job. It took us a couple of years of reinvestment, experience and a learning curve to really better ourselves, but we believed we could succeed and we did. When I felt like I needed more income, I started working at a local private school cafeteria.

Bottom line was, I didn’t mope and groan about boredom or my lack of money. I figured out a way to be creative and use my skills to earn money.

Right now we are preparing for a multi-family yard sale over the weekend. The girls are pricing their items that they want to sell, and I think a lot of times they overestimate what they can get. They are learning the art of bartering prices, and judging consumer demand versus what the market will be willing to spend on those items. My wife and I have a similar goal: we don’t want to cart back to our apartment the same amount we put into the car in the first place. Priced to go, and that’s what we aim for.

If I could find the Delorian and go back in time like Marty McFly in Back To The Future, I would send both kids back in different time periods. Probably one to when I was a child, and another back to the Depression years of the 1930’s. Then maybe they would start appreciating how easy life is now compared to then. Maybe it would motivate them more to not expect others to design their lives- to actually think, learn and grow themselves.

If I could wave my magic wand, I’d start certain aspects of their lives over again. I want happiness and harmony for all, and yet I know I can’t make either happen unless they want it to happen. Have a wonderful day everyone, thank you for reading this and keep smiling and keep giving to others.


Ebb and Flow

July 12, 2010

We’ve been having our share of emotional struggles this past weekend with both the girls. What’s been great so far is their willingness to accept responsibility and do repair work. We may not be able to quiet down their outbursts in the moment- but my wife and I are hoping that as a result of the repair work they’ve been doing they really think about the consequences of their actions. Towards themselves- towards each other- towards the environment they are in- and towards us.

I don’t know whether it’s related to an age situation or wanting to break free independently, but my oldest seems to be engaging in a power struggle over how the events of the day will play out with us. She figures in her head if she wants things a certain way- that’s how it will be. If she makes a promise to someone and doesn’t feel in the mood to follow through, that we will bail her out of a commitment. That would be doing her a great disservice though. We are teaching her responsibility, even if she doesn’t like it in the moment, we want her to understand you don’t break the promises that you make to people that depend on you.

My youngest daughter who is very careful on how things are done discussed with my wife earlier in the day about trading one particular repair job for another. She is cleaning the refrigerator inside and out and organizing it better for us to be able to find the items we need. She does get overwhelmed at such large tasks so I use a bit of positive verbal reinforcement and physical reinforcement (high fives, hugs) to keep her spirits going in the right direction.

I want her to know that I’m glad that she is showing us that she wants to work together as a family and pull us closer with the completion of this task. Earlier in the weekend she picked up the bathroom as a result of another repair task, and these steps are huge to recognizing what we have to do when we face challenges and act out towards the one we love inappropriately.

So today I feel like my head is in a bit of a fog. Our building where we live had a fire alarm go off about 45 minutes into my normal sleep time. The cats ran underneath the bed and stayed for a long time for fear of the high pitched wail. My daughter made sure I was aware of the alarm and we quickly left the house.

So my message today is understand the ebb and flow of your children and their emotions, especially during the summer time. They want to relax, they know they have commitments to fulfill and yet you may hear the two famous words all children love to say, “I’m bored.” Don’t take this personally. They need to crank up their imaginations and be able to not have items entertain them all the time- they can be very creative if you let them. Channel that energy in the right direction.


Seriously

July 11, 2010

We tend to say this word a lot around our house. Probably because it breaks the tension when there is a sense of discontent. It’s been two days since both children have returned to the house, and typical personality traits have quickly come to the surface.

It’s clear that the health of one is better than the health of another. Not necessarily from a physical standpoint- more from a commitment and attachment standpoint. My wife noticed yesterday that there seems to be a struggle for power and control with the one daughter who seems to want what the other daughter has- and yet she doesn’t want to take the steps necessary to gain the closeness she desires with us as parents.

Instead of following directions, she’ll purposely do her own thing. When she doesn’t want to face a situation that could be stressful, she’ll give up or act like she’s not capable of getting her own clothes, taking a shower, finding an appropriate snack, keeping her room clean, doing her homework, and so on down the line. Meanwhile she watches our other daughter gain the opportunity to go over friends houses, enjoy the comforts of texting on her cell phone, being able to use the computer, and basically giving and accepting love and affection and back and forth communication.

She knows what she wants, but doesn’t want to put the work in to get it. She believes it should just be naturally handed to her. It’s such a shame that the world doesn’t work in quite that same manner.

I didn’t have my first car until the summer before I left for college. I spent 2 1/2 years saving up money from my deejaying on the weekends and my part time cafeteria job to buy a 1973 Dodge Dart Sweeper for $1,400. I paid for the car in full and paid for a year’s worth of insurance. It had 55,000 miles on it and I ended up using it for my full 4 years of college. I remember taking one of my math classmates from Lowell to the Cape and back for $50. But I never expected my parents to just give me a car or pay for one totally on my own because I just wanted it or I deserved it.

Seriously, I worry that her adulthood is going to be even more of a struggle than her childhood. Will my youngest just give up on a job because her boss looked at her the wrong way? How will she be able to find a nice, charming partner who will love and care for her if she doesn’t know how to be appropriate to her parents? You can’t shape or change the people you interact with regularly- you either accept them as they are or you learn to change how you view their opinions and the way they treat you.

We’ve talked to her many times about the fact that if she’s truly unhappy- she has to make the moves. No one else is going to change the circumstances or her environment- unless she wants zero control for the rest of her life.

Seriously.

Surely I am, and I know my wife is. We will throw more of our attention on to anyone who treats us with respect, is real about their feelings and willing to be productive to work as a family. I can’t reward negative attention any more.


Another Test

July 6, 2010

I’m aware that challenges are put forth in life to test your ingenuity, your tenacity, your ability to push yourself further than you could imagine. At this point in 2010, the testing in our family should be over. It seems like every week at least one or two events are thrown in our path of life, only to see what choices we are going to make.

It’s one thing if an event that traumatizes you hits you in a flashback moment. It’s another if the event comes back squarely in your face- only mere months after you thought the incident was put firmly behind you. I’m hoping that as a result we look at the progress we’ve been making to become more loving, more trusting, more open to attachment- and don’t let the past creep again to create doubt, confusion and fear.

So we scramble again to find an alternative in the middle of summer. I’m glad that our family hasn’t lost our sense of humor even if it appears we’ve lost our sanity. Personally I’m not used to a choppy ship on the waters for such a long period of time without usually heading for my own island. I’m used to everything being steady, calmer, and knowing the direction I want to head in plus how to effectively get there.

Must be a sign of the heat wave times. We are hitting triple digit temperatures today, so I’m staying very low key and within the confines of where I live to keep cool. I have my laptop, I have my music, I have my books and magazines, I have my journal I can write in, I have my imagination and creativity within my brain and flowing through to my fingertips. I will survive- my family will thrive- and I know I can make the rest of today very exciting and worthwhile.

Know that in your mind you can turn any frown upside down and make it a better day. Nothing is ever truly as bad as it seems. Do not be afraid to forge a different path if the one you are currently taking is in breakdown mode or in a detour lane. It’s better to continually come up with new solutions and implement them then to merely think it’s a good idea and never put it into practice. We were given brain power for a reason- and many only use 1/10th of its capacity.

Grow- learn- care- then share with the world. Keep up the excellent work making this world a better place to live in.