Thursday, September 6, 2018

What Your Kids Actually Need

I filmed and shared a portion of my workout yesterday on my Instagram. I had my six year old push play and push stop so I didn’t have to edit it much.

He forgot to push stop on cue and I said, “Hello? What the heck, Kon?” I caught it on film. I watched it later and saw the look on my face. I was annoyed, but came off as a total tyrant.

It made me think about what my kids actually need, what they actually see when they look at me.

I’m here to teach them how to function in society, carry themselves with honor, and get to Heaven in the end. A child’s experience with their mother lays the foundation for the rest of their lives. I will establish how they think and feel about women, how they feel about themselves and think about their place in the world.

So what do my kids actually need from me? They need to trust that I’ll always love them and be there when they need me. They most need my time, attention, and affection. They actually need me, at my best. These needs are costly, but this is what they are owed.

How can I best serve my kids?

  • By being present, looking them in the eyes when they talk to me.
  • Smiling at them. It's that simple.
  • Speaking to them with civility, respect, and patience.
  • Playing with them when they are young, caring for them, and giving them the best of my time and attention.

Mary, Mother
My favorite sacred mystery is the wedding at Cana. It’s a unique story.

Mary and Jesus attend a wedding where the host runs out of wine. Mary confronts her Son, knowing He has the power to remedy the problem. At first He seems to protest. She seems to ignore Him, knowing he will mind her. She tells the servants to do what He commands them and He performs His first public miracle by turning water into wine. She essentially releases Him, kicking off His journey to the cross.

Mary is shown briefly in her role as a mother, being in that moment just what her Son needed her to be, a boss.

As cliche as it sounds, what my kids actually need is me at my best. For me this means:

  • I need to keep account of my time and be sure that I am sleeping enough.
  • I need to be sure I am not over-consuming sugar and caffeine so I can avoid mood peaks and crashes that usually and unjustly come down around their little heads.
  • I need to endeavor to keep my hormones balanced, by eating a plant-rich diet and routinely practicing heart-healthy exercise.  

  • I need to practice weight-bearing exercise to grow strong bones and muscles so I can avoid injury and undue deterioration as I age.
  • I need to pray for my children daily, to turn my heart and mind toward them at the start of every day.

  • And when the time comes, I must be willing to release them to do what God has called them to. I must let them go.

Taking care of ourselves isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. This is what your kids actually need from you. Your peace of mind, your self-control, your self-care, your robust sense of humor, your good example, your good health, and your good will. They actually need your best. Take care of yourself.   

Mary as Mother Photo by guille pozzi on Unsplash
Mother and Daughter, Bonding Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fitness, Simplified

I amaze myself. I know what to eat and which exercises to do to reach my goals. I know how often to workout and for how long.

Don’t get me wrong, I will always be a student. My typical excuse for not reaching out to others is that I don’t have anything of value to say.

Even so, every few weeks I google “what to eat to build muscle” or “best workout for fat loss.” I read the same things over and over looking for a magic idea that will change my life.

I give people fitness and diet advice all of the time. I know what is real and what proof has been found in the pudding. And yet I always find myself thinking that I need to go back to the drawing board, that I must be doing something wrong, that the wheel needs to be reinvented. I don’t and it doesn’t.

What I lack in patience, fortitude, and focus I try to make up for in thinking if I just cut a little more from my diet or workout on a rest day that I’ll reach my goals faster. Maybe, instead of over-compensating for my lack of character I actually do trust the process.

If you currently are developing tunnel vision when it comes to fitness or nutrition, step back and consider that you actually already know what to do. You know what is healthy to eat, you know how to move your body. You know you need sleep, routine, friendship, love, peace, quiet, fun, adventure, and sunshine. I know it and you know it.

Lets not get distracted by all the artificial lights and sweeteners, they just keep us from living fully. Don’t complicate, simplify. You aren’t a rocket or a computer, and you don’t need a 50 step program to reach your goals. Go back to basic principles, review your reasons for beginning, and take several deep breaths. You already know, you’ve got this.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Self-Awareness: What People Really Think of You

There are many things you will do in your life that will serve to tell you all about yourself. Your struggles, how you handle stress and conflict, how you behave when inspired, excited, tempted, determined, or in love. I’d like to say that all you have to do is pay attention.

But there are the hidden things too, the nuances about yourself that you don’t see. There are ways that your behavior and your words have an untold effect on others. This is when a carefully selected interlocutor comes in.

An interlocutor is essentially a questioner, a man who stands in the middle.

Do you want to know the truth about yourself?
You will need to find someone whom you trust with your life and your ego. Someone who is willing and has the ability to listen to you attentively. Find someone who is honest and trusts you enough to tell you the truth.

Ask your questioner to tell you what they think of you.

Make them feel comfortable. Tell them why you want to have this conversation, and reassure them that you know some things will be hard to say and hard to hear. Perhaps you can compile a list of specific questions you’d like to ask them. Don’t interrupt when they are answering. Let them talk while you take it all in.

Through this illuminating and painful process you may find that you may have to do some damage control, work to correct your reputation, or regain trust.

Should this be a useful experience, ask them to act as interlocutor for you in the future. Tell them that you fully expect their brutal honesty when you need someone to check you.

You are giving this person a lot of power over you. If you are easily shaken, this tells you about yourself. Don’t get discouraged. From here, the only way us up. This is an important part of confronting yourself, acknowledging your shortcomings, and building a stronger and steadier inner man.

“I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.” Johannes Kepler

This isn’t easy, but it is necessary. We think and tell an unprecedented number of half-truths and outright lies about ourselves and others. We need to “cut the crap” so to speak, and stop living in the shadow of willing ignorance of ourselves.

Don’t walk this path of self-discovery alone. You may think letting others close during this process is too difficult, but by doing so you are forging bonds that will support you and give you purpose for the rest of your life.

Warning Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Train track Photo by Jonathan Pendleton on Unsplash
Talking Photo by on Unsplash 
Hole Photo by Ian Chen on Unsplash 

Friday, April 20, 2018

5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware

One thing is for certain, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. When you are determined to know yourself better, you soon start to understand your actual position and that the first gifts of self-discovery is chagrin, deflation, and often humiliation or embarrassment.

In the grand scheme, most of us are ineffective and we overestimate our contribution and talents. Most of us consider ourselves an exception to the rules, and most of us are wrong.

The goal here isn’t to inflate your ego with overtures of false praise and empty reassurance of your social contribution. Real life doesn’t give credit where it isn’t due and nature herself is unpredictable and quite dangerous. You don’t want to start your upward climb from a deceptive sense of self.

Truth sometimes hurts. You aren’t a masochists, though, you’re here for a reason. The idea is to strip away any false sense self, get to the truth, and start your ascent to greatness one honest, strong, authentic foothold at a time; an expert on being firmly and certainly who you intend to be.

1.The first practical thing you can do to know yourself better is to write every day. Communicate honestly with yourself, judgement free. Record goals, plans, feelings, reactions, comments, concerns, disappointments, hopes, and regrets.

2.Consider daily meditation, with the goal of centering yourself. The quality of meditation tends to improve with practice. Meditation is a gentle, clarifying exercise in self-control, and the benefits aren’t only seen in a placid mind, but also has a cooling physiological effect on the body.

3.There are more distractions now with the modern pace and noise than ever before. Day-to-day, most people have to go out of their way to come into contact with nature and centering benefits from the tranquility of a natural environments. We often forget that we are a part of nature, and being separate from it is disruptive to our minds and bodies. Try to get out into nature every day.

4. Not completely unlike meditation, consider seeking at least 10 minutes of silence and reflection every day. Utilize silence to center your mind and reconnect with your body. Reflect on your position to the world and people around you. What does God expect from or ask of you today? What do others expect from you? What are you expecting from yourself? What are your needs today? Do you intend to care properly for yourself so you can show up well tomorrow and the day after for those who rely on you?

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Consider finding moments of silence within your every day schedule by arriving to class or church early to sit in silence, or by turning off the radio on your commute to and from work. Perhaps you could utilize ear plugs for a few minutes as you move about your home or while running errands.

5. Execute your daily duties with contemplative purpose. Menial labor can bring mental clarity, the strengthening sense of accomplishment, and a much needed disconnect from over-stimulation. Care for animals, fold laundry, tend a garden, wash dishes, paint a bedroom etc.

Consider all the tasks in your day that you need to attend to and “stack” them so you are accomplishing more than one thing at a time. Stacking your duties and desires forces you to take a serious look at the details of your busy life, to sort and strategize.

Need to spend quiet time in nature and also workout? Take your fitness regimen outside.

Do you want to spend more time with your spouse and do yard work? Work together in the yard.

Don’t get discouraged by the personal deficiencies you may uncover while courageously confronting your inner self. Most people don’t even have the audacity to come as far as you already have.

There is untold profit to be made and unprecedented inner peace to be gained by following this through. Truth be told, you will probably find self-awareness to be a lifelong practice and a level of consciousness that becomes integral to your lifestyle and eminent success.

Glasses Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash
Milky Way Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash
Road Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash
Dirty Hands Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash
Free Fall Photo by Julian Paul on Unsplash