Perhaps this video is a bit of an overstatement. It oversimplifies the problem, but I like the main theme. Train yourself (and your kids) to live beyond the net. Don’t overuse your phone.
Video by Gary Turk.
Our family is in crisis. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last.
Three weeks ago, our severely disabled 13-year-old daughter, Kathryn, had a full spinal fusion surgery. According to the “pain team” of anesthesiologists and neurologists, it is the second most painful surgery to recover from. (It’s second only to a certain kind of chest surgery.) So, we have been dealing with a lot of crying, screaming, tears, flailing arms, beeping machines, doctors, nurses, specialists, sleepless nights, and hospital meals – just to list a few of the trials of the last month. It’s been a hell of a month.
To add to the complications, both my wife and I have been dealing with health problems of our own that manifested in the week before the big surgery. Julie earned herself a hernia in her abdomen, which was surgically removed three days before our daughter’s surgery. She is not allowed to lift anything for several weeks, which is pretty challenging for the mother of a disabled girl. In addition, I earned myself an ailment called Meniere’s Disease, which landed me flat on my back on two occasions with two-hours of nasty vertigo – both episodes were during the week of Kathryn’s surgery.
Fortunately, we have a good support system made of our family, friends, and medical community. Read the rest of this entry »
A Creeping Crisis
Some crises develop gradually. Some are excruciatingly slow.
Perhaps it is the approaching death of a parent with terminal cancer. Or it is the military dad/son/husband who will be deployed to an overseas conflict. Or it may be a huge financial crisis, which will likely take away the family’s savings and home.
In these situations, the anticipation of the looming crisis is a danger in itself, for anxiety can take deep root early, and that can be paralyzing.
At some point a person facing a slow-moving crisis makes decisions (conscious and subconscious), to deal with it or ignore it. Psychologist call it the “fight or flight” response. We can run from our problems or fight them head on. Of course, we often do both. We fight something for a bit, then flee it for a while. I suppose, that is not a bad strategy, actually, as long as the general attitude is to win, not just avoid. So, we can fight. Regroup. Then, fight again. Read the rest of this entry »
If you are growing old well, then you are likely to help a child grow up well.
40 is not old, but it’s certainly not young either. It’s the start of mid-life, and it has a well-earned, dangerous reputation. It’s when so many people have an inner crisis, even if life is sailing along smoothly on the outside. At some point disappointment, boredom, or depression accompany the person who has a career, a family, a home, a community, and all the subsequent stress of being responsible for so much. In addition, health problems of all kinds begin to flare up by 40, which remind us that we are decaying in far more ways than we are growing.
Many 40-somethings have established their career, have gotten married, have had a few kids, and have bought all the things they need and most of the things they want. They have arrived at their life destination, and they wonder, “This is it?”
For others, they are still building the best life they can, and they feel the crushing weight of pressure from what they have constructed. There are too many things to do, too many people to care for, too many problems to solve – just too many responsibilities in every area of life. They are caring for children, spouses, friends, employees, and even aging parents. They get to a point where they simply cannot balance it all anymore; it’s all just too much. In frustration they cry out, “There just isn’t enough me to go around!”
It’s a tough time of life, indeed, and for some it’s just too much, so they pull the ripcord of life. They give up on something big, like their marriage, their kids, or their career. Sometimes they chuck it all at once. Or they just give up trying very hard at anything, settling into a comfortably complacent lifestyle. They fall prey to the consumer-centered suburban lifestyle, and they go out to pasture.
So what’s a mid-lifer to do? Well, after spending four days in Colorado with some of my favorite 40-ish guys, I’m ready to convey a few suggestions based on our conversations. I’m sorry if any of this seems trite; I realize that all of these things are a lot easier said than done. But hopefully, it will help in some way – for your sake, and for your kids.
Being healthy as an adult will yield both direct and indirect benefits for the kids in your care. Take care of yourself, for their sake.
This video is thought-provoking and interesting, even if you think you know everything about being healthy.
Here’s proof that we need help in this area: Super-Fatty Menu Items
I’ve had the blues for a few weeks now. It’s not a full-blown depression. It’s just a nagging funk that doesn’t seem to have a good reason for its existence and doesn’t seem to have an end. I get it once or twice a year, often on the backside of winter. Since I haven’t been able to just get over it, my wife offered a solution. She kindly told me to get lost.
So, Saturday morning I headed out of town to get lost in the country. I needed to get away for a few hours to a quiet place to reflect on the meaning of my life and pray about what in the world to do about it. I headed south and ended up at this old cemetery.
Why can’t we be thankful? Why is having an attitude of gratitude so difficult? Even the most optimistic people have many days in which everything seems to be going badly, when nothing seems right. Indeed, there are awful things we have experienced, are experiencing, or will experience. Nobody is immune from trouble. In time, every person experiences intense grief, disappointment, or depression. It’s a necessary part of being human.
However, our culture does not deal well with trouble. It likes to gloss over it. For example, at DisneyWorld there is an exhibit which encourages its passengers to “turn that frown upside down!” Oh, if life were only that simple.
Even the Bible does not require us to be happy and smiling all the time. Instead, it challenges us to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:17). There is a big difference between a happy face and a thankful heart. Happiness is an instantaneous bliss. It’s a bit like pouring gas on a fire; it flares up fast, bright and hot, but it does not last very long. On the other hand, a thankful heart is a deeper joy, not mere emotion. It’s more like pouring a bucket of charcoal on a fire because it burns slowly, deeply, and for a very long time. Therefore, happiness is great for a moment, but thankfulness is eternally rewarding.
“Just believe in yourself, and you can achieve anything.”
“Pursue your dream, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”
“If you dream it, you can be it.”
Countless movies, songs, TV shows, and motivational speakers have preached this message. And countless teachers, coaches, and counselors preach the same message. Parents teach their children the same.
So, why would any young person ever doubt it? Most believe it 100% — until they experience enough reality that they realize that it’s a lie that adults tell to make children (and themselves) feel good. It’s just like the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and the Tooth Fairy. It’s something that feels good and right at the time, but eventually, life reveals that it’s just not true.
How many boys have spent hours each day playing basketball in the driveway because they knew that they could one day play in the NBA? How many make it? How many can even reach the simple goal of dunking? I know I tried everything to dunk, only to find that I was just not able, no matter how much I believed, how much I practiced, or how much I learned. I wasn’t good enough to play in college either. I wish someone (or several people) had told me something a lot more truthful, such as, “Quit trying to dunk and spend more time shooting because your only chance at playing in college is as a shooting guard. But don’t count on it, since the odds are extraordinarily stacked against it. Studying is much better for you than playing so much basketball.”
How many girls have spent endless hours singing in order to make it in the music business. How many make it? How many can even reach the simple goal of getting the lead part in their high school musical? How many high school musical leads get a recording contract? How many girls will be the next Miley Cyrus or Beyonce? What percentage of American Idol contestants succeed in getting fame? For millions of girls, it just doesn’t happen — no matter how much they believe in themselves and practice and learn and believe some more. It’s a fantasy.
It hinders kids to tell them that they can do whatever they put their mind to. And that’s in addition to the fact that it is a lie. It may be easy, feel-good advice, but it’s not true and it’s not helpful.
So what’s the solution?
A local radio station brags that they are “Younger. Smarter. Better.” It’s one of many marketing messages that tells us that grown-ups are “Older. Dumber. Inferior.” Well, as a long-time teacher of 12 and 13 year olds, I can tell you that younger is not smarter and better.
Younger is cuter. Younger is more energetic. Younger is more creative. But it’s also usually uneducated, unwise, and unbalanced. It’s mostly insecure, immature, and trendy. It’s adolescence. By definition, they are not grown up yet. They have a lot to learn. We were all there once too, remember? It is an exciting time of life, but it’s not the pinnacle of life.
Nevertheless, modern America worships youthfulness. The commodities of cool are money, beauty, athleticism, sexuality, fashion, music, “ink” (tattoos), and all things young. There are entire industries built upon the idea that staying Forever 21 is the most important thing in life, no matter if you are 10 or 59.
On the way home from soccer practice last night, my son asked if he could join a track and field team. This is right after an evening in which his mother spent 30 minutes shuttling him from his school to my workplace, where he worked very hard for 60 minutes on his homework, before we frantically sped home to quickly change clothes and scarf down some dinner, followed by a 30-minute battle with traffic to get to his 90 minute soccer practice, followed by a bleary-eyed 30-minute drive home. The timing of his request was terrible, so he was hurt by my harsh response.
I had to explain to him that we just don’t have the time and energy to add that sort of commitment to our family life. It was difficult for him to believe. It’s a lot like when we say that we can’t afford to buy something, such as a massive plasma TV. He doesn’t believe me because he knows that we can afford a house, cars, food, clothes, and all kinds of other expensive items. So, I have to explain that we have to make choices because we can’t buy it all or do it all. We have limited resources: time, money, and energy. It’s hard for a kid to fully grasp the concept of over-commitment.