I am a mother of two amazing children- but like all children they come with their ups and downs. Currently our “issue” of the week is my daughter’s sensitivity to some friendship issues at school. I came home this evening after a loooong week of work- by the way, do not feel sorry for me- I love what I do and Thursdays are my Fridays because I have inherently worked Friday in as my day off and self-care day. Needless to say, obviously what I do is to help others work through their struggles and gain strength – so tonight I came home to continue what I do for work and figure out a way to incorporate it into my daughter’s needs and her current struggles. Admittedly, I did not feel like cooking so I asked my kids if we could have a “date night”… this was while my daughter was crying about her “horrible” day, my babysitter (who I depend on heavily to keep my work schedule) was informing me she could no longer work afternoons due to a change in her school/ other job schedule, and my husband is out of town all week. Wheh… So the kids and I headed out to dinner- As we began our discussions about how to help my daughter work through her struggles and be the “best she can be” (as we say in our family)… our conversation slowly shifted from negativity and what was going wrong to focusing on how we can learn from the times of struggle. This shifted our conversation to exploring the times each of us had struggled the most, been the most discouraged, made mistakes – and not dwelling on those times, but rather how we rose above them. How we learned from them. I pointed out to my six and eight-year-old, it is not about winning, or getting the A, or having the most friends- it is about growing and learning from getting a bad grade, or loosing the big game, or the feeling when you feel alone… it is about learning from those moments and learning how to overcome them rather than get stuck in them. I found myself in an evening that started with exhaustion and feeling a little overwhelmed as a parent and questioning my own parenting, to feeling encouraged and invigorated to be working through and talking through these important struggles and growth with my children. It reminded me that barriers and frustrations should be seen as opportunity rather than setbacks. And enter one of my favorite words: resilience.
When you get stressed and overwhelmed, what is your reaction? Is it to take it on? Withdraw? Give up? How do you process stress and adversity? Who taught you how to cope with stress? These are all valuable questions to consider and model healthy coping for our children and ourselves.
In my recent spare time I have found myself perusing recent TedxTalks for inspiration and new ideas. If you are not familiar with the TedxTalks, I encourage each of you to become acquainted. These talks offer wonderful perspective on an array of topics and social issues. This recent TedxTalk was on the topic of resilience by Dr. Sam Goldstein. One of my favorite books, which I recommend to many of my clients, is the Power of Resilience also co-authored by Dr. Goldstein. Dr. Goldstein reminds us of the potential of teaching our children resilience and the acceptance of making mistakes. It is worth the 10 minutes of your time. Promise.
A friend shared this with me awhile back and I have always held on to it as I loved the message. So often we become so focused on the small stuff we loose sight of the meaningful people and purpose in our lives.
The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee
When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.
It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”
This post is related to couples counseling. I always had a wish that couples would come in for counseling when things were great and take time to explore why they were great and how to maintain that greatness and connection.
Unfortunately too many times couples wait until their relationship is disconnected or in crisis to come into counseling. Somehow “counseling” has earned a bit of a stigma – (enter the whisper of a friend) “oh, you’re in counseling”. As if it is a sign of weakness that you’re in counseling. I am here to set the record straight. Counseling is not a bad thing. Counseling is not a weakness. Things do not need to be bad to come in for counseling. I see counseling as a gift. It is a gift of growth, connection, and self-awareness.
Many couples come in for counseling and explain that their relationship was great when they first got married. Similarly, you don’t buy a brand new car and then never change the oil or need to maintenance it. Marriage (relationships) is no different. Yes, your marriage is likely blissful when you first get married – it is brand new! But the reality is you need to continue to maintenance your marriage to make it feel like new over time.
This relates back to my previous blog. If you’re connected – stay there – stay checked in and maintain that feeling. Yes, there will be challenges in every relationship. But if you and your partner are connected you will know how to work through it together.
It’s the time of year that we all take vacations – one of the questions we always ask the hotel, “What is check-in time”? Well, if your asking me, I will tell you check-in time is all the time. When was the last time you checked in with yourself? With your spouse or your partner? With your kids?
“Checking in” is critical. This is a window to self-awareness. This is an invitation for growth and exploration rather than criticism.
I ask all my clients to “check-in” – if you’re a parent, ask your children, “How am I doing as a parent?” or “How would you describe me?” If you’re a partner, ask your partner, “How am I doing as your partner?”
I encourage everyone to take time each day to check in with yourself- whether it is through meditation, sitting in a quiet place, listening to music, exercising, through spirituality or religion – take the time for yourself whether it is five minutes or an hour to be present and in the moment. Walk away from the phones, tvs, magazines, etc and simply ask yourself these questions:
- Am I being the best I can be for myself?
- Am I being the best I can be for others?
- What could I do better?
- What have I done well?
- What areas am I willing to change?
If you’re reading this, I challenge you to try this for one week. Be present. Be checked-in.
I always think it is important to know your strengths and equally as important to be able to admit your faults – with that in mind – I am best at listening and observing, I am second best at communicating and offering discussion, and coming in last are my writing abilities- not horrible – but I would not classify this as a strength. So I mention this because I am challenging myself to offer a blog on my website. They say to do something each day that scares you – so I am going to extend my thoughts, inspirations, and experiences with you as they come to me…
I welcome your comments, thoughts, feedback – the best way to learn is from others!