Lessons from a Teenage Boy

Image credit: http://malibumom.com/2013/03/16/whats-for-dinner-mom/

Image credit: http://malibumom.com

Every day Kyle, my teenage son, asks me two questions. “What’s for dinner?” and “Is it going to be good?” The first question I only find mildly annoying when I don’t actually have a plan for dinner. The second one, however, I take as a personal attack. Every. Single. Time.

People come into our lives as teachers. I would say this is especially true of our children. I believe Kyle is in my life to teach me patience, acceptance, and most of all, how not to take things personally.

Kyle and I are very different people. I am open, compassionate, optimistic. He is bossy, opinionated, cynical. If The Odd Couple were a mother and son duo, we would be it.

Even as a child, Kyle was very different from his older brother, Mitch. Mitch was very sweet and loving. He felt remorse when he got in trouble for something. And he always wanted the people he loved to be happy…he still does. Kyle, on the other hand, has always been a bit like a grumpy old man. He wasn’t much of a snuggler, hated having his picture taken, and got genuinely pissed off at being disciplined. Both boys are dangerously smart with wicked senses of humor. But, while Mitch taught me about love, Kyle is teaching me about me.

Recently, when I flew off the handle because Kyle asked me, for about the millionth time, if dinner was going to be good he told me, “You shouldn’t take this so personally.” I really lost it! I told him to sit down, shut up and eat his dinner. There may or may not have been some cursing on my part.

I felt bad, of course. I always do. I apologized for yelling at him. His response was a casual, “It’s okay.” I’m fairly certain he didn’t take my little outburst personally at all.

It didn’t hit me until the next morning. Taking things too personally is something I’ve struggled with…particularly in my relationships with men. I realized in that moment I have the perfect opportunity to practice NOT taking things so personally with Kyle every single day.

What if, when he asks if dinner is going to be good, I could take that as just a question, rather than a personal attack on either my intention or my culinary skills? What if, instead of getting so defensive, I could answer lightly, “I hope so!” or “That’s the plan!” or “Nope!”

For an entire year after I first read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, I practiced the agreement “Don’t Take Anything Personally” religiously. But I worked on it with people other than my children or a significant other. Now it seems I’m getting another opportunity that’s a little closer to home.

So I’m going to use this daily opportunity as an experiment of sorts. To see if I can stop making that simple question mean something negative about me and take it for what it is: a question. This will take some practice on my part. Kyle knows how to push my buttons. But I can see the benefits in my current and future relationships will be HUGE! If nothing else, Kyle will have to figure out a new way to get under my skin. And that will make this totally worthwhile 😉

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Do Nothing

My mind and my soul have been having quite a battle lately. My soul wants me to relax, go with the flow, and trust that everything is working out perfectly. My mind, on the other hand, is being its usual rigid self…trying to figure things out, put together a plan, work towards a goal. I am caught in the middle.

I have been working toward one thing or another as long as I can remember. Like many of you, I come from the school of thought that encourages DOing. Our society rewards achievement, goal setting, and productivity. And I bought into it all…hook, line and sinker.

Then things changed.

In December I was laid off from my job. Fortunately (or so I thought) I had just completed training in September to become a life coach. So in December and January, along with the usual holiday festivities, I focused on getting my coaching practice up and running. It never occurred to me my mind and body might need a break. But by the end of January, I was done. Tapped out. For the first time in my life I stopped. And that scared the shit out of me.

All I could hear—from somewhere deep inside me–was “I don’t want to do anything.” But doing nothing wasn’t an option to me. Not moving towards something feels very uncomfortable. Anxiety kicked in and it was tempting keep moving…in any direction. But my soul was adamant. And I was really tired. So before I took off in hot pursuit of the next thing I thought I should be doing, I decided to take some time to listen…to that still, small voice within.

I started doing an exercise regularly that I learned from Abigail Steidley. Abigail is a Master Mind Body Coach who was also one of my instructors during life coach training. The exercise is called Drawing on your Inner Wisdom. Perfect, I thought. This will show me what I need to do and where I need to go next. I was on board.

It went a little bit like this:

Question: What should I do next?
What I meant: Please, please, please tell me what to do.
Answer: Trust. It’s all working out perfectly. You don’t have to force it. Just go with the flow. Relax. Let things happen.

Question: Should I enter a writing contest?
What I meant: Is this it?
Answer: Do nothing. Now isn’t the time. This is the time to rest. There are better opportunities for you down the road. Let it be right now.

Question: What will I do for work?
What I meant: I need a direction here.
Answer: Relax. It’s not time for that yet. Just be. What are you in such a hurry for? It’s okay to do nothing. Stop fighting the healing process. Just let it be.

Question: Should I contact an old love?
What I meant: I need something to distract me from not knowing what I’m doing.
Answer: Wait. It’s not time yet. Be patient. You’ll see the purpose later. Take care of yourself. You’re not ready for this right now.

Each time I did the exercise I asked a slightly different question, but the answer was basically the same…do nothing.

If you know me you know that Do Nothing isn’t really in my vocabulary. Even during times when I don’t appear to be doing anything physically, I am typically doing a lot mentally; thinking, analyzing, trying to figure things out. The idea of doing none of that is pretty foreign to me.

Then the other day, during my meditation, I had the following conversation with myself. Yes, I realize I talk to myself a lot. Probably because I spend the majority of my time alone and also because I’m an introvert. Are you saying you don’t talk to yourself? Well, then one of us is just weird. I’ll let you guess which one. Anyway, back to the meditation:

Me: So…I’ve been doing nothing. Now what?
Soul: silence
Me: Seriously…what’s next?
Soul: That’s it…do nothing.
Me: You gotta be kidding me! For how long?
Soul: As long as it takes.
Me: sigh

Ok, I’m a lousy liar. Truthfully I didn’t really sigh at the end. I said fuck! But sighing seemed softer, more ladylike, more appropriate. You shouldn’t swear at your soul, right? But, seriously…fuck!

I really thought I was on this path to figure shit out so I could get on with my life. Doing nothing wasn’t part of the plan. And yet, here I am…

So I’m doing the only thing I can. You guessed it. Nothing.

I’ve realized the key is, as with anything, to not resist it or think it should be any different. It’s not easy and I go in and out of resistance depending on the day, hour, minute. When that happens, I gently (or sometimes not so gently) remind myself…it’s okay to do nothing.

What’s on the other side of all this nothingness? I have no idea. And that’s not really the point. The purpose for me is to let go of my need to control, force, or make anything happen. A little at a time. Each and every day.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.