Archive | January, 2016

resilience

22 Jan

IMG_5811I just went off, or HAM as the kids say (hard as a mother…) on my son. We were on our way to school at 7 am–never my finest hour–and I sat in the driveway and blew the horn to get him to get outta the house and into the car. I never blow my horn in my driveway and hardly ever do anywhere else. I think it’s rude and usually unnecessary, but I knew he was dawdling, looking in the mirror, looking for a certain hat, not one to keep him warm, but one to look cool. The one from Drake’s clothing line. I just lost it. He spends 25 minutes getting dressed and less than two making sure he has his work and knows what the school day requires of him. He almost left his math folder on the dining room table. There’s a quiz tomorrow. I reamed him out the entire way to school. He sat, sunken slightly in the passenger seat not saying a word as I talked, okay yelled, about his future and pointed out that there are some kids walking around town who were well-dressed and cool in high school and can’t get in or finish college or get a job. I’m still simmering an hour after I dropped him off.

My son Ford is a good boy. He’s sweet, has great friends, is a good baseball player, can play chess and is intuitive and funny.  He is cool and I mean that it both ways: he’s calm, like nothing bothers him and he’s got an understated way that reads Miles Davis kind of cool. Just is; just has always been.

I understand that much of this behavior is age-appropriate freshman year behavior and I believe (know, hope…) that he’ll mature and learn how to handle his business.

I had more  than a few of these rants directed at my daughter when she was in high school–not freshman year because the sadists who ran the all-girls Catholic school had oppressed her to the point of compliance. The uniform  requirement also saved lots of time that would’ve been spent on primping. After a few months, it became clear that that Catholic school was not the place for her, so she transfered to the school where my son is now. She and I had our battles (not much about school work), but she got kicked out at least one carpool because she couldn’t ever get out of the house on time, but we survived and she is thriving. I look at Baldwin’s level of grace and resiliance now, as she navigates her way in Paris during her junior year abroad and I’m bursting with pride. She takes all of her classes in French, she’s dealing with a difficult living situation and she got through the horrendous terrorist attacks, scared, but didn’t once say she wanted to leave the program and come home. A few students in her program did leave. Sure she wanted to be with us during that time, and God knows we  wanted  to wrap her up, but she kept a grip on herself and made it through.

Lots has been written lately about the importance of resilience and that it is the most important trait to have in future success. I came across this list:

Characteristics of a resilient child that cannot be influenced:
Normal intelligence
Attractiveness to others
Good Fortune
Knack for seeking out people in environment that are good for a child’s development

Things that can be fostered:

Strong relationship with a competent adult
Feelings of hope and meaning in life
Faith or religious affiliations
Good schools
Connection to Positive Role Models
Feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy
“Acceptance gives us the gift of resilience –fully joining the flow of life without being defined by what happens,” said Sharon Salzberg Cofounder of Insight Meditation Society Author of Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program.

Ford clearly is flowing and he has all the characteristics of resilience, perhaps that’s why when I’m spinning on my head, wondering what I should do to light his fire and make him take more responsiblity for school, he always says to me, relax.

Maybe the babies really are our teachers. Clearly, I need to practice acceptance, ahem, resislience.

I’d like to hear how you help or have helped your kids become more resilient. How have you?

 

 

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Balanced: An Inspired Melancholic

10 Jan

It’s Sunday and it’s raining. Yesterday the grey of the clouds were charcoal-colored as I drove to the Catskill mountain area, about 90 minutes from home.  Parts of the area are quite pretty, but the cast made it dismal.  Although my temperment doesn’t need any help in feeling glooming, I didn’t mind the clouds.  Melancholy is a state with which I’m well-acquitanted, but I’m beginning to accept that this isn’t a bad thing. A few months ago, I came across an article in the Times, The Case for Melancholy, that vibrated in my soul.

When I was leaving the baby shower for my niece-in-law that evening, I looked up and saw the house was enricled by 50 foot,  lanky, bare trees–I thought it was beautiful. My daughter and best friend, probably thought eerie, but remained mute as I voiced this observation.

“Melancholy, distinguished from grief, is not caused by events, like losing your job, the passing of beloved pets, your miscarriages or health problems. Nor does it vanish when you receive excellent news, like a big film star optioning your novel, or being invited to an all-expenses-paid trip to Venice for the Biennale,” wrote Laren Stover.
One thing I know for sure is that when I’m feeling inspired by something, whether it’s simulating company, a sentence, a book that moves me or when I’m able to write consistently for uninterrupted periods (hardly ever!) I’m not sad. Things that  speaks to my soul acknowlege the complexity feelings.

I can feel good and my melancholy is right there, in the room lounging on the chaise, welcomed.

 

“It was reassuring also to see in the recent animated film “Inside Out” that Sadness, the gloomy Eeyore of emotions, saves the day with the perky persistence of overbearing Joy,” Stover wrote.

We need both. (If you haven’t seen the movie, where joy, sadness, fear, disgust, anger, are characters, do.)Stover says melancholy requires reflection: a sort of mental steeping, like tea? I like that image. I reflect. It’s what I do. I like that about me. What I don’t like right now is that I’m not feeling inspired and I know at this age, I’m hardly alone.

I’m trying to figure out what to do about this. I’m interested in hearing from you.  If you’re introspective and over 50, 55? What inspires you?

So it’s a new year

3 Jan

I hate cliches and even more being one. It’s a new year, new you. All over Facebook and every place folks gather people are talking about joining gyms, starting diets, making vision boards. I have nothing against doing any of these things, it’s just the timing I find annoying (perhaps that’s just me–and my best friends). I digress, but as I sit on my butt, dog squeezed into an armchair next to me, reading the New York Times–me not the dog, I’ve drifted off, figuring out how to jump start my exercise regimen, which had once been serious; then, because of my bad hip, my routine was reduced to only walking (and not fast) and a once a week yoga class. Not enough for my doctor to be happy with my blood pressure but it’s been good enough for me because I live in my head and can easily let go of thinking about my body.

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But I need more than the lovely walk I do everyday to pump my heart. As I’m seriously enscounced in my upper 50s, I have to build up my muscles (again).

When I was 49, I got a trainer, joined a gym and worked out religiously–the gym four days, running the other 2. I wanted to be (ahem, cliche) fab at 50.  I was and even rocked a bikini on my birthday trip to Anguilla. In those early days at the gym I still vividly remember how grueling it felt to push my body and later how satisfiying it was when it didn’t hurt so much and I could easily do a brisk 5 miles on the treadmill. By 53, I’d stopped because of my worn out hip cartilage. Four years have gone by and now the thought of climbing that mountain again is honestly daunting. So much so that there are days when I say, F it and lay on the couch, remote in hand and watch Homeland. But now I have a new, perfect hip,  (yay) thanks to Dr. Jerebek at HSS).

So now that I’m working on acceptence in all aspects of my life–and being a New Year’s resolution cliche–I have to find a new exercise routine
and gym situation that I like.