Father’s Day With a Dead Dad

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There are several opinions in this post that you might not expect. I’m not going to say that I’m so sad my dad is dead and I really wish he was still here.

My father died. You don’t have to console me. It’s ok.

Having a dead dad doesn’t have to be sad, a shame, or tragic. It can be all of those, and that’s ok. You can process grief your whole life, and that’s ok. But not being sad and accepting that your parent is dead is also ok.

My father died when I was 18. I was totally devastated with grief. Today, I don’t think it’s sad anymore.

In this post, you might not expect me to talk about entitlement. There are subtle entitlements that people express about parents. I don’t feel entitled to a living father. I appreciate that I had one for 18 years.

You aren’t entitled to a father.

You aren’t entitled to a good father.

You aren’t entitled to a father who lives a long life.

You aren’t entitled to a kind and loving father who cares and teaches you and offers you sage advice from his long and successful career. You aren’t entitled to a father who supports you and is a role model and a pillar of the community. A nice guy. A smart guy. A witty, funny guy who always says oh my!- just the right thing.

Those dads are in the movies.

You aren’t entitled to movie parents. If you had them, I am happy for you.

If you think you have a crappy dad this Father’s Day, that’s ok too. You can be mad and wish things were different and rage against the injustice of your real, messy family, or you can accept that you have a living father, and you can let him be exactly who he is.

As Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.”

FullSizeRender 7In this post, you also might not expect me to tell you that I don’t believe my father is gone. People say they “lost” their dad or they “lost” a loved one.

My dad did not get lost. I never lost him.

Some people pray to God or a god. I pray to my father. And my grandmother. And my former student who jumped off a cliff and never resurfaced. They are all there when I get quiet and calm. They are not lost.

People who have never experienced having a loved one die have a hard time understanding my personal experiences and beliefs: It’s hard to explain that my father is always there for me, and yet it is true.

My father runs with me in races. He is there at every major event when I’m happy – graduation, teaching award, laughing with friends. He is there when I cry out and sob for help. He constantly supports me and guides me and tells me I’m going to be ok. He assures me that he is watching over the important people in my life like my mom in Florida and my family and friends who are struggling.

My favorite thing is that my dad is CONSTANTLY laughing at anything I worry about, because nothing on this earthly plane is really that serious.

IMG_7428My father wants me, always, to have more fun. To lighten up. To love people and be kind. To let go of worry. To know everything is going to be ok. To live a happy and beautiful life and appreciate every second.

That’s what my dead dad wants for me and for everyone.

Gorgeous, child of a reader: You have a father. It’s ok if he’s absent. It’s ok if he’s imperfect. It’s ok if he’s dead. It’s ok to be upset about any of those things. Take a minute to be mindful: Is what you’re upset about even true? Is it a painful story?

My story is that my dad is dead and it’s ok that he’s dead. Although I was never entitled to a great father, somehow I got the best father imaginable AND I got to spend 18 loving years being Daddy’s girl.

My story is that I know, with all of my heart, I have not lost him. He is always there.

Loving you out there. Today, my dead dad wanted to remind me, and you: Have more fun with your life. Love yourself and everyone else. Appreciate all good things. And, for heaven’s sake, please don’t take Father’s Day, or any day, that seriously.

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Your “Breaking Point” Doesn’t Exist

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One of my graduate students told this story: “The thing is, I am fine speaking in front of a small group of people, but then… there’s this breaking point. At a certain number of people, I just freeze and can’t do it. I want to know how to get over that.”

I replied, “Great!!! The first thing you need to admit to yourself is that there is no “breaking point.” You made it up.”

My student didn’t like this answer. Some others made uncomfortable faces. But many students got it – I watched it start to click.

“Breaking points” don’t exist. You can’t prove a “breaking point” in a court of law. There is no statistical public speaking “breaking point” that was developed after scientific research on speech apprehension.

There is no “breaking point.” You made it up.

That’s INTERESTING. It’s not bad news! You’re not a bad speaker. You are SO INTERESTING. You MADE UP A BREAKING POINT!!! Why?

food-3089952_960_720Because we all do. We make up limits for ourselves. That’s ok. It’s ok to think you have imaginary limits. If you develop a mindfulness practice (as I also teach my students), you can start to catch yourself making up stories and start to change them. It’s ok that you’re making up crazy stories! We all do!

Here’s what’s not ok:

Don’t argue your imaginary semantic limits with me. I have a BA, MA, and PhD in Communication Studies.

  • If you’re 60 years old, you’re not going to have a baby or win Miss Teen USA.
  • If you’re 90 years old, you’re not going to hike to the top of Mt. Everest.
  • If you’re 5 feet tall, you’re not going to play in the NBA. Probably.

I understand real, physical, legitimate limits. I’m just calling your bluff on the imaginary ones. NO DEAL.

I will never agree that you’re “just not good at public speaking.”

I’m not going to buy into your story that “job interviews are scary.”

If you were born poor, I still believe you can make millions of dollars.

You have limited yourself with your own beliefs. I have limited myself with my own beliefs. The truth is that SO MANY of your so-called limitations aren’t true. You are lying to yourself. SO INTERESTING, right? We are all so very interesting. It’s all ok.

handstand-670829_960_720I used to think I wasn’t a runner. I’ve now run three half marathons, one trail half marathon, and a full 26.2 mile marathon. I lied to myself.

I used to think I couldn’t ski. I’ve now skied most of the resorts in Utah. Called that bluff.

I used to think I was a fat, awkward nerd. I now think that I’ve got some nice curves and some good things going on. NO DEAL!!!

Hey, boo: Take off your limits. Stop arguing that you’re limited. Call your bluff. Tell the truth.

There is no “breaking point.” You made it up.

Beautiful, super smart reader!!! Guess what?: If you made up a scary story, you can also make up a better one – one where you are whoever you want to be.

How do you do that? Start today. Pay attention to the way you think and speak. Develop a mindfulness practice. Let all your monkey minded thoughts run around in your active brain. Brains are wild and active. Let all those thoughts be ok. Practice awareness of them. Then maybe, you can start to catch yourself when you lie. Maybe you think a new truth. You can change your story. You can change your life.

Loving you out there. Take off the limits. They don’t exist.

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Love Others Without Caring What They Think

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A reporter once snuck into an event with former president George W. Bush. He waited in line to shake his hand, and then, when he got a chance, he said to W, “I don’t really like what you’re doing and you should be ashamed of yourself.”

George W. Bush smiled at him and said, “I don’t care what you think.”

The progressive reporter was horrified and wrote an opinion piece about what was wrong with America – people not caring about each other.

Umm… really? You know what? I was not a fan of W, but when I read this piece, I thought, Seriously? You sneak in somewhere and ambush someone and shame them in public and you want to be understood? You want to be respected? You want him to care?

You know how much I like disrespectful people who try to shame me?

Not much. And I certainly don’t care what they think.

owl-3321411_960_720There are so many incredible, intelligent, thoughtful, and compassionate people in my life. I love to listen to them, to their stories, to their ideas, to their visions. If they have wisdom to share with me, I’m all ears. I have a millennial mentor who is significantly younger than me, and I can’t wait to hear his opinion about things.

Why? Because he is kind. He is sunshine. He is magnetic and successful. He is intelligent and thoughtful and direct. He doesn’t hide behind other people or gang up on them. He directly tells people what he thinks. He wants to make interesting changes. He is way ahead of his time and his peers because of his incredible attitude.

Listen, toots. Everyone has an opinion. If you listened to everyone’s opinions, you’d be pulled in every direction, exhausted, confused, and you’d lose your ever loving mind!!!

Let the most important opinion in your life be your own. How do YOU think you’re doing? Do YOU like that person? Do YOU want to do that?

malinois-3331687_960_720Listen to YOU. Care what you think. Be mindful. Quiet the noise. 

Then, if you want to, listen to others. But definitely not everyone.

Listen to the people you admire. Listen to the people you respect. Listen to the people who light you up and inspire you. Listen to playful older people and wise young people. Listen to people who love you so much. Listen to people whose agenda is your happiness and your success and your best interests. Listen to people who want you to live your best life.

Please don’t care what everybody thinks. And if you can’t find it in your heart to care about someone, they aren’t listening to you either.

Good news! Leave them alone. As my grandmother would say, “Save your breath.” Save your breath for those who appreciate it.

Hey boo, YOU care about YOU and your opinions. Want to know whose voice is the most joyful, the one people will flock to hear?

You being the kindest, most compassionate, most loving, most engaging, most inspirational, most successful version of you. You speaking your affirmative truth.

Loving you out there. Give so much care to the way you think and speak. Your mindful and compassionate speech are the most important words you will ever say – to yourself and others.

Care what you think. Listen to YOU.

Then, be the loving voice others will benefit from hearing.

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Feeling Discouraged? Maybe You Forgot Something

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Recently, a student gave me a thank you note. In it, he thanked me for several things I did for him.

I forgot I did those things.

Reading the note, I thought, Oh, wow, he’s talking about me.

I totally forgot those nice things I did.

I forget that I do so many things right. Do you ever do that?

The day before that, we had a workshop where the facilitators asked us to talk about the mistakes we’ve made at work. Our insensitive moments. Acts of bias.

If you’re anything like me, I acutely remember mistakes. Standing like a deer in front of people frozen in fear. Crying in the car. Cringing over every less-than-perfect word I wish I could clutch back to my chest.

We need to improve. We need to learn. I get it. I’m a teacher who gets lots of feedback.

people-2557396_960_720And yet, how many times have I gone to a performance review and had my boss say, “Hey Georgi, you are doing really well. How do you do that? What techniques are you using that are going well? What new assignments did you create? What memorable moments have happened in your classes?”

Never.

Several teaching awards collect dust on my shelf: pieces of dead wood and laminate plastic with inscriptions. Symbolically, people think I do things right.

In reality, people are alive and pulsing. Students talk and hyperventilate and shake and tremble. They smile and frown. They come in and out the door and fidget and sigh. It’s a never stopping, constant interaction: giving and taking, struggling and growing, sharing and laughing.

My classroom is alive and flowing and 100% YES, I make mistakes.

But could you also ask another question?

black-and-white-2561651_960_720What have you done right?

Ask yourself what you’ve done right. Ask yourself what your friends do right. Ask yourself what your lover does right. Ask yourself what your parents did right. Ask yourself what the people in your community are doing right. Why???

Because we do so many things right! SO. MANY. THINGS.

hands-1797401__340We give thousands of words of encouragement and support. Hundreds of hours of work. Dozens of recommendations and favors. Singular and very personal acts of kindness.

Beautiful, gorgeous, reader: You can always find fault in yourself and others. That’s easy. Want success and mental health? Then start recognizing what you’re doing right. Offer yourself credit for what you’re doing right. Analyze and repeat what you’re doing right. Tell everyone around you all the things they do right.

Hey boo, you know what? I’m talking about an ideal world. Please don’t wait around for someone to ask you what you’re doing right. Ask yourself.

Revel in the answers. You, and all the people you love, are doing so many things right.

Yes, you.

Thank you for all you have done. Feeling discouraged lately? That’s ok. Did you forget? That’s ok too. We remember.

You do so many things right. Loving you out there. XO

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VIP, Baby, You and Me

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Last year, for a birthday party, my friends and I were planning a trip and booking a hotel. We laughed and joked about how it was super important to call up that hotel and tell them that we were VIPs. We wanted the VIP rooms. The VIP treatment.

Because we’re VIPs. And so are you.

VIP, baby, you and me.

And yeah, haters, we can all be VIP. Most people just don’t believe it’s possible.

You may need a little practice believing in your VIP status. Not to worry! Repeat after me:

The VIP Credo:

I rest and take time to relax

I drink fresh running water

vip-1658921_960_720I eat fresh food

I move my body and get fresh air

I spend time with people who appreciate me

I say no to people and events that don’t feel good to me

I am kind to myself and everyone else

I let everyone off the hook and forgive them all

I forgive myself

I allow myself lots of time and space

I appreciate how far I’ve come

I dance and sing and laugh and have so much fun

I expect other people to treat me really, really well because

I treat myself really, really well and show them how it’s done.

Hey boo, are you playing small? That’s ok. It happens sometimes. It’s just that you are so very VIP. So very important. You are the most important person in your life. Believe it. Act like it.

Gorgeous, important, one-of-a-kind reader: Give yourself time and attention. Expect nothing but the best. Start rolling with a VIP crew of family and friends.

Yes, you can. Yes, it’s possible. Yes, you’re worth it. Oh hey! Did you already know that? PERFECT.

VIP, baby! You and me.

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Maybe You Should Give Up

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Here’s what is really interesting about a fight: It takes two people.

Struggles, arguments, conflicts… they take at least two people.

Think of an issue or fight or conflict you might be facing right now in your life. Notice how you are participating. You’re resisting or you’re attacking. You’re on the offensive or you’re on the defensive. You’re engaged.

Now consider this: Maybe you should give up.

dew-829184_960_720Imagine a tug of war game: you at one end, someone else on the other. At any time, you can drop the rope. Surrender. Say “good game,” give someone a high five, and walk away. Find another game. There’s lots of games out there. Are you tired of tug of war? Who am I to decide for you? You decide.

Maybe you should give up.

My mother used to drive me crazy with her fearful phone calls and advice and constant monitoring of my weight and body and clothes. I would get upset, argue, yell, cry, complain about it to all of my friends. My reactions did not change the situation. They made it even more frustrating and charged. I suffered while my mom was just doing her thing. I made the situation so much worse for myself than it ever had to be.

Finally, I changed. Now, I practice not reacting. I practice letting her do her thing and not participating in it. I give up. It feels free. It’s even kind of funny. She is not that powerful. I am. Our relationship is different now, and so much better.

You are powerful. You are strong. You can listen to anyone and choose not to care what they say. People speak words and offer opinions nonstop. Constantly. You can practice non attachment. You can practice being Teflon and not letting words stick. You can disengage from any battle. And maybe you should.

Maybe you should give up.

If you were on an old timey hot air balloon and wanted to fly higher, you’d dump sandbags because they are heavy. Because you want to be lighter. Because you don’t deserve to be weighed down in this one beautiful life you’ve been given.

Beautiful, smart, argumentative reader: I’m a leader and a powerful person. So are you. Fight for what you believe in. Argue with whoever you want. Participate in any kind of struggle you choose. Be completely in the game. Any game you want.

You can also be honest about the battles that aren’t fun anymore. The arguments that don’t change. The patterns that drain you. The opponents that don’t fight fair.

You don’t have to fight. A fight takes two people. You can stop participating.

Do you want to feel lighter?

Do you want to fly higher?

Do you want to be free?

Maybe, gorgeous human, you should give up.

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Worried About a Healthy Adult? They Don’t Need That

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“My wife is not doing so well,” my coworker said, “And she may need a kidney. If I’m not a match, we are going to need someone else to donate a kidney. But yeah, she is not doing so well.”

I stood there and nodded.

My old habit is to nervously try to make things better. Talk too much. Give advice. Feel anxious and hopeless. Absorb pain. Worry.

More and more, I am trying to practice new habits. That day, I stood, arms at my side, palms open, shoulders relaxed. Calmly nodded. Looked into his pretty brown eyes. Quietly listening.

He paused and breathed deeply. I stayed silent and breathed with him.

After a few moments, he said: “It is what it is.”

I said, “Yeah. If I can help, please let me know.”

He repeated, “Yeah, not much to do really, it just is what it is.”

I said, “You are a good husband. You are doing your best.”

He said, “I love her.”

I said, “Yeah. You have been really good to her.”

We smiled and said goodbye, see you later, and I left. Things will work out. He is a grown adult who will figure it out.

Worries make me feel heavy, anxious, and sad.

ballons-937930_960_720Imagine you are on a hot air balloon. There are big worry sandbags weighing you down. We often don’t even realize that they are on our balloon taking up space!!! Meditation and mindfulness help you see your thinking. When you identify worries, you can question if they are useful or not. You can question if they are real or fiction. You can choose to think differently.

You can throw sandbags off your balloon and feel lighter.

Worries are heavy. Practice lightening up. Little by little, practice wishing people love and freedom from suffering. Practice trusting that people will work things out. Practice faith that people’s problems and issues are their spiritual curriculum, and they will benefit from figuring them out… themselves. 

Healthy adults take care of themselves. Always. You might not like the way they’re doing it, but it’s not your life. It’s their life and their journey. They are learning. You aren’t needed.

How does that news feel to you? I hope it feels free.

Healthy adults don’t need you.

Neil Gaiman once wrote: “I like stories where women save themselves.”

Let people save themselves. Overcoming challenges makes people strong. If they call on you for help, be there. Otherwise, spend your time wishing people well. Encourage them. Love them. Then, get out of their business.

Oh hey… by the way, is your life perfect? If you’re human, it’s not. Great news! When you worry less, you now have more time to focus on yourself.

You’re not avoiding that, are you? 😉

Beautiful, gorgeous, wanting-to-help reader: It is wonderful when someone cares for you. You know what feels the best? Empowerment. Physical and emotional adulthood. Learning and knowing how to care for yourself. Asking for help from who you want to help you, when you need it.

Hey boo, I’ve got issues. I often feel scared and insecure. I struggle with people and body image and I wage an ongoing battle with “not being good enough.” I’ve written about my struggles in my blog. Overcoming them makes me stronger. More successful. More compassionate. Less anxious. Brave.

Please, please, please: Don’t worry about me. I’m an adult. I seek help. Lean on friends. Educate myself. Get stronger. Lighten up.

Want to join me in my new practices?: Worry less. Trust more. Love more. Accept more.

Save yourself.

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