One time not long ago, when he was mad at me he said he was “walking to mom’s.” I let him walk out the door. 10 minutes later I could not find him anywhere. I called 9-1-1. A police officer found him four blocks away. We met at the corner of Southworth and Center – both my son and the cop waiting for my response. All I could say was “Thank you” to the officer. I held my son’s hand the remaining streets home. I asked him if no one would have stopped him did he really think he could make it all the way to moms. He said “No.”
Life is our teacher. Experience offers us a lesson each time. I’m glad I didn’t tell him “No don’t you dare walk out that door.” I can’t both protect my boy from life and give it to him too. I won’t squeeze out the life that should be let in.
At the grocery store today, he hid in the toilet paper. I’m never sure whether to be freaked out that a predator could take him or pissed off because I know that’s my kid pushing the limits to see the other side. When I finally found him, he said, “Can I?” as if anticipating the pissed off version of me. I don’t always smile, but today I did and I said, “Yes.” He smiled too. Let me NEVER take this beautiful boy’s innocent smile away from him.
Then he tore away with abandon out of the TP imitating the character we both love and watch together, The Flash. He made it 10 or so paces before attempting a hair pin turn toward isle 13, but was side swiped by a cart being pushed by someone unaware that a 49 inch blur can suddenly appear in front of your path. He took the hit like an NFL running back but remained on his feet before screeching to a halt at an end cap aquarium of gold fish. I gave him the “dad look” but he smiled so I smiled back – shaking my head.
I give my boy a long metaphorical leash. He demands it. The space he takes to find himself is his own. He doesn’t need to always hear me say “No.” He doesn’t need a lecture or a warning. I do plenty of that as it is. If I scolded him every time I felt inclined to do so, I’d only steal what is most natural to him at this age: seeking the joy of the calling.
He needs to hear me say “Yes.” I trust my boy. I trust life. Sometimes, I force myself to trust when I tell him “Yes.” I trust that, for now, he will learn more from my “Yes’s” than he will my “No’s.”
We all travel back in time and feel regret about something or another.
We all travel into the future and feel a worry that hasn’t occurred.
We feel these things for our job, relationships, children, health, etc, etc.
We have all had situations where we snap at someone, but it wasn’t them, it was our current state of being. We have all been there. It’s normal.
The Difference is How Long We Stay In That Negative State of Being
How long are you staying there?
The difference is our habitual patterns that we unknowingly ride into those self defeating states of being. The entire reason why I share these “morning moves” is so you can start your day off with a “move” that positively influences your state of being.
I’ve been sharing one PHYSICAL ACTIVITY that you can perform each morning immediately out of bed so our mind and body is in alignment to have a good day. That starts with optimizing our posture.
Think of it in these terms…
…if we’re in a depressed state of being consider your posture. Our shoulders are slumped, our head is downward, our breath is shallow, we’re quiet, we’re slow, we’re heavy not light.
We know this for two reasons:
1. we’ve all seen it in others and
2. we’ve all spent a part of our life practicing to be that way ourselves.
Take a few days to stop and reflect about this for yourself.
So if we can “just” (simply) and radically change our bodies (posture) first thing out of bed, we’ll tremendously improve our state of being. Because exercise – even just one simple movement like the ones I offer you – forces our shoulders to be pushed forward, our head to be upright, our breath to inhale deep. We’ll be intentional with our voice. Our body’s direction and expression will be happy, strong, soft, light. That’s the idea behind the “morning move” practice. For me and for a lot of people, it’s physical movement that is best for accomplishing this.
Try These Alternative (that are not physical) “Morning Moves”
Your morning move doesn’t have to be physical. That’s not the only game in town.
There are three other “muscles” you can flex first thing in the morning that will help you step aside from negative feelings and thoughts. There are other morning moves that produce good posture, alertness and a positive state, and you can practice this habitually to replace the old pattern of bad thoughts. Those three other muscles are the mental, emotional and spiritual muscle.
Remember, we want to break an old pattern and replace it with a better one.
Recently, I’ve changed my morning routine away from a physical movement.
The greenhouse season is in full swing. We’re planting every day, all day. It’s game on! I love it. So I wake up and I want to get right to work. I’m into it. The great thing about greenhouse season is that it’s a game to see if you can make less mistakes from the season the before. Now that the season is under way, I am excited about this game. As soon as I wake up I want to get crackin’.
I don’t want to exercise or write in my journal. I’m not saying I don’t do those things. I’m just not doing them first thing out of bed. Instead, my first move is into emotion or into laughter as I prepare myself nutritionally. I have about 20 minutes.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve been connecting with in those first 20 minutes out of bed.
Laughing is good. How many times do your children laugh per day? Compare that to how many times us adults laugh per day…
I find most of Louie CK’s comedy humorous. This skit especially about Love and Relationships
This one is great if you’ve never seen it. Newhart could solve a lot of personal issues with this therapy. You don’t need drugs.
Reply with the comedy videos that make you laugh out loud.
All of the above are funny. They make me laugh. Laughter makes me smile. Smiling changes my posture. Laughing also releases “happy chemicals.” I’d love to explain from a scientific standpoint what happens when you laugh… but I’m not that fluent. Suffice to say it’s something about laughter that has always proven to have a powerful and positive effect on physical, emotional health and wellbeing. It heals and renews the mind, and works fast to bring mind and body into balance. Great way to start the day.
Music is great too. For morning listening, I use Spotify and lean toward music without words.
Here are two albums currently in rotation:
Deep Focus Indie Rock Alternative Electronic (Music for Concentration, Intense Studying, Perfect Concentration, Brain Food, Music for Study, Productive Morning, Afternoon Acoustic)
Zen Medidation Music Academy
I haven’t pulled myself away from these albums either:
Bob Dylan – New Morning
John Mayer – The Search for Everything (wave one)
Reply with the music you have in rotation.
Or I feed my mind with poetry, which I consider spirituality.
I love poetry because I love language and remarkable communication. I also love poetry because it allows me to be constructive in connecting to pain (mine or the universal pain we all have felt). Poetry helps me to discover more about myself and how I want to connect to life. Here are
I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I know that if I just mark the boxes off this checklist, I’ll be okay
I have entire days (weeks even) without experiencing the discomfort of emotional pain or anxiety or regret. Everything feels so real. It’s as if I can touch the texture, shape and temperature of my emotions, and of life in general. Nothing is tainted with worries.
My ex girlfriend was at church a couple Sundays ago holding hands with another man. There was no finger on that trigger. I saw my ex for who we all are… people just trying to fit the puzzle pieces together. I wanted to wish her good luck.
I’m currently celibate, not dating. There are some Friday nights I stay home. I no longer worry that I’ll be alone. My own company has never been better.
Money is tight. I crunch the numbers to make sure the budget works but I don’t stress about it anymore. I have enough. I am making my life happen.
I cry nearly every day. There always seems to be something that moves me. Such as movies, something my children say, a story that a friend shares with me, the ways of the world. These tears feel natural so I let them flow unchecked.
I laugh much more too. I laugh with my children. I have discovered greater depths of joy. I am feeling genuine gratitude for what seems like the first time in my life.
When I meet someone, I stop and listen like I know them. I am making friends and acquaintances with people I wouldn’t normally think to do so with. My prejudices are slowly fading.
If I do notice that I am feeling regret about the past or anxious about the future, I have this healthy habit of stepping aside. I hear myself saying, “I notice that I am…”
This immediately puts distance between me and my thoughts. Then I invite whatever derivative of fear that I’m feeling to sit down. It sits at the dining room table of my mind, and I never offer it any service. After awhile, that feeling stands up and walks out. Good riddance.
Or if it doesn’t leave, I recognize that this is a perfect opportunity to follow my own advice (following your own advice, btw, is wisdom), which is to replace the bad thoughts or the fear with gratitude, or 10 ideas, or 50 push ups… anything to break the pattern.
I think I’ve cured myself of having the disease to be “right” about things too. Here’s what I think now when I have a disagreement or a strong opinion. I don’t actually have a lot of disagreements or as many opinions, but here’s what I do when it happens.
A. I might be wrong. I’ve been wrong so many times. I might be wrong now too.
B. It’s not black or white. There’s a middle ground here. There’s a third option. Hmmm.
C. How much does it really matter? Like, if I were to die tomorrow, would it matter to my life and loved ones?
D. How much of what I’m talking about do I really know anything about? (usually not enough)
E. Will I actually change their opinion? (NEVER!)
F. Don’t push
I don’t have to be right. I just have to be kind. Because we either learn our lessons now or we learn them later. Or we pass them on. My mom always has called me a late bloomer, but as a man and a parent, the buck stops with me. I’m doing my best to not pass on bad things to my kids.
The thing that I’m working on right now is feeling okay with everything being okay.
I want to be the strongest version of myself so I have a checklist every day that includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. I know that if I just mark the boxes off this checklist, I’ll be okay
So we started PM’ing each other and decided to make it happen. We had a good crew turn out for the event.
Ben was on guitar. Don had a singing bowl. Alicia and her daughter, Corinna and her daughter and me and my Ella were on vocals.
We chose the songs and practiced at Alicia’s house before hand for about 45 minutes. We were good enough. We learned songs like Love Me Do by The Beatles. Can’t Help Falling in Love with You by Elvis. A handful of others too that you would recognize. We made it to about 8 houses.
We also carried a little boom box that plugged into a smart phone so we could play “Can’t Stop That Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. We played that song if kids answered to the door.
One such experience was when a Latino family arrived at their door. It was a mother and four children, three of them were daughters about the same age or a little younger than our daughters. The mother told us that none of them spoke English. We turned on “Can’t Stop That Feeling” and just danced.
At first, I don’t think the family knew what to think or do. Our daughters were dancing. They love that song. Then the Latina daughters began dancing with our daughters. It was like a love explosion. Music was our universal love language.
Our hearts were SO filled up to the brim with this experience. We gave love and we were given love in return. The Beatles were correct when they sang, “In the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give.”
This experience of mine reminded me (yet again) how important it is to be kind, give love, spread joy, share smiles.
Peace, Love, Dove,
SIDE NOTE: This week I’m skipping Morning Moves and I may skip it next week too… My routine has changed now that the Greenhouse season is upon me. That might be a good topic to write about… Routine Change.
I’m reclined, listening to John Mayer’s 2006 album “Continuum.” I’m drinking a Michelob Light.
Cheers! I almost headlined this post “3 Ways to Slow Down and Take Better Care of Yourself.”
It would have smacked of the value of a healthy living practice, and how it will reward you with good health, tons of clarity, energy, and the ability to experience all the good that life has to offer for years to come.
Instead I wrote this because I think there is value is letting off the “healthy living throttle” sometimes. Try to keep an open mind.
Last night I ate three platefuls of turkey and gravy, drank seven beers, smoked a couple cigarettes and didn’t pass when it was handed to me.
The dishes didn’t get done. Neither did the laundry. All my intentions to complete chores went undone.
And today, instead of working out, I’m watching an old Richard Gere and Winona Ryder movie called Autumn in New York.
Today, I don’t give a shit about enhancing my health, preventing disease, limiting illness, or restoring health. And I feel great!
I’m not in the least concerned about reclaiming time to focus on myself amidst balancing work, family, and personal life. Nope, I’m staring at Facebook on my phone. My feet are up. I’m watching people walk by on the side walk from my front window.
This is my self care today. I have a hot bath and dark chocolate coming up this evening. Then bed at 7:45. The kids are with mom this weekend. I have nothing to answer to. I’m not answering to myself either.
My point in telling you any of this?
I’m into healthy living, but am weary of the cruel optimistic relationship to self care in which self care is envisioned primarily as a means to rejuvenate us so that we’re able to work faster and harder, which is what causes our stress to begin with.
It’s okay to tune out of self care and drop into leisure.
You like corny romance movies? (I do…)
Just to make this somewhat useful for you, I have 16 different movie recommendations. Google them and watch the trailer.
Most of these movies are corny. They are lazy, guilty pleasure movies that I like watching on late Sunday afternoons. Call me soft, but admittedly, each of these movies have brought me to tears.
16 corny romantic movies that made me cry.
1. The Song
2. The Words
3. The Choice
4. What Katy Did
6. A Year and Change
7. The Age of Adeline
8. The Reader
9. Autumn in New York
10. The Natural
11. Cider House Rules
13. Meet Joe Black
14. The Last Waltz
15. Complete Unknown
16. Pretty Woman
The problems of our time appear to be political, economical and environmental but that doesn’t mean that is where the solutions will be found. I have known enough problems in my time to understand that solutions are cultural and require remarkable listening to the many voices among us. Especially the ones we disagree with. If not, a pattern prevails in the world where our mutual similarities and differences become lost in the dark. I don’t want to dwell in that darkness. I have seen posts explaining that “if you support Trump, I am not your friend.” I might not agree with your politics, or you mine, but I am still your friend, your brother, your able bodied person. Us versus them is a slippery slope. For all of time, people have chosen to associate with a group identity. I want to be mindful and cautious if that identity starts to have a negative influence on how I view other people who I don’t identify with. I want to try to identify with everyone in some way. Even (especially) if it’s a stretch. I don’t expect the same, but that’s what my friends do.
“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
Every President in my era of life (1976 til now) has been bad!
Here’s my logic: They all wove dreams from their intelligence then left us lonelier than ever. Except Bush two. He wasn’t what I’d describe as intelligent. We were all glad to see him gone. But this may be true for Obama, unfortunately.
I have only ever voted because the intelligent people that I have relationships with make it seem so important. I followed along because that was the ticket for joining the discussion even if I was apathetic. But from my perspective, casting a political vote has been like making a choice between Cats and The Lion King. Both are great shows that leave me emotionally lathered up. Then I go home to bed.
Perhaps this is the privilege of being a white, educated man. I can float for 40 unharmed years and live a good life despite poor choices and indifference to democracy.
But the wake-up call has arrived with a new President that has arrogantly usurped God with the audacity of Satan. Things I took for granted I can no longer take for granted. I am forced to get clear about my part as a conscious citizen. I have asked myself, ‘If I am in full support of taking a stand against discrimination and restriction of rights for all people, and in support of freedom of health choice, freedom of religion and gender equity, what do I do?’ The headlines scream atrocity, and for the first time in my life I actually have to determine how I feel about it.
There was time in the car on the way to school one morning when both my oldest daughter Ella and son Lucan began talking trash about Trump. One of the things I want for my children is for them to develop their own values and beliefs without feeling they must match mine or their mom’s or anyone. Their mimicked behavior arrived from exposure to adults who chose to not speak in code. It bothered me.
My best reply was that ‘I wasn’t going to be voting for him, but a lot of other people will and they have their reason.’ My worst reply was ‘Don’t believe everything you hear adults say.’
Months later, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Now, I’m okay with telling my children, ‘Yep, Trump is a bad person.’ If pressed, I’d be honest in telling it straight. ‘He hurts women. He lies. He is a name caller. He lacks empathy.’ My daughter is 8 years old. She’ll understand.
In coming to this conclusion, I have realized that my vote is for my daughters. I have learned from my life that we either learn our lessons now, or we learn them later, or we pass it on. My biggest fear is passing it on. The time has come… “Later” is “Now.” If I sit through these next four years I’ll be passing it on. No can do.
Besides already having this conversation with the mother of my children, my first action will be to hold my daughter’s hand and begin an age appropriate dialog about what is happening about *some* of the current events.
This Saturday, Ella and I (and Virginia) will attend the Planned Parenthood rally. I want Ella to understand that Planned Parenthood is essential for health care.
I won’t talk of things like birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, woman’s exams and probably a lot more I don’t know about. But I will let her know that important health care provisions that have been in place for a long time would no longer be accessible to millions of (mostly low income) people who rely on it within their communities. I will try my best to explain that folks who already face barriers for getting care, especially people of color and people in rural areas, could face even more hurdles for healthy living.
Foremost, I’ll let her know that Planned Parenthood promotes basic reproductive health care. Fundamentally, I want her to understand that Planned Parenthood is on the side of women having the final choice about their body and Trump is trying to take that away.
This weekend, Ella is going to ask a lot of questions. I want to tell her that this is what freedom is… That this is what makes our country (theoretically) great… That we have the right to take responsibility for standing up to bad people when they make choices about what they think we can and cannot do with our bodies. It’s important to me that I, as her father, bring her here because she should always have the right to decide what choices she makes for her body. No one else. I want her to know I will always support her in that right and fight for it beside her.
It’s real to me now. Up until present day, I’ve barely given a shit. But I’ve just whispered ‘I love you’ into Ella’s ears as she closes her eyes for sleep. My promise as a parent has always been, “The buck stops with me.” This Saturday we both start a new chapter.
I have heard people call Valentine’s Day a Hallmark Holiday because it’s perceived to exist for commercial purposes. Maybe I even said that once(?) …Was I on some alpha male high horse saying I shouldn’t have to subscribe to an arbitrary occasion in order to display love and passion? Lame!
I know that in my past, I have been that lame a time or two, but today, I write this urging you not be. If you haven’t noticed, the more love you can dish out for the world, and especially that special person who means so much to you, the better life will be.
I’m single now. I love the relationship I’m developing with myself. Last night, I watched Pretty Woman and I cried at the end because I love fairy tales. I cannot tell you how many wonderful opportunities I’ve had to write my own fairy tale. I’m so grateful. I appreciate romantic love.
That fairy tale can be real if you want it to be, if you’re right with yourself. Let me just say: You are so fortunate to share with another person that loves you, and you them. Exchanging a romantic moment of resonance with another person is the ultimate drug – whether it be for an evening, a season, 7 years, a life time.
Valentine’s day is an opportunity to celebrate exactly what love is in the present moment: an ultimate connection, characterized by a flood of positive emotions, which is shared with another person. Embrace the heck out of it!
Be in that moment, celebrate that moment, prepare for that moment, succumb to that moment and do not take that moment for granted. It is truly divine. It doesn’t have to be lavish with presents, fancy dinners or flowers. Although that’s a great route to take.
Consider Valentine’s Day the Christmas of love, replete with your best dress-up version of Prince Charming. This is not hyperbole. I am not joking. Seize the moment. Not because you think it’s a societal construct that is pressuring you to do so, but because you honor what is sacred. Love is a gift to nurture.
And if you find yourself alone this year, love yourself. Or take an evening to get clear on who you’d like to meet. Write her a letter before you’ve met her. That way when you do, you already have remarkable communication to share.
When the mother of my children and I broke up for the final time, she was pregnant with our daughter Ada.
Every time I picked up our other two (Ella and Lucan), my heart rate would soar from low 70s into the 100s. My nervous system would spike into overdrive. It was like I was being emotionally hijacked.
I am talking about giant waves of bad feelings that completely knocked me down. I’m talking about suddenly falling through a deep dark rabbit hole filled with rage, hurt, panic and fear. To deal with it, I discovered breath work. I’d put my hand on my pulse and breathe deep full breaths until I felt it fall back to somewhat normal.
That technique saved me!
Unfortunately, as I moved beyond that season and those feelings, it was like I forgot about the healing power of conscious breath. I abandoned the practice and never thought to apply breath work toward everything else in life, such as parenting, relationships, financial stress… to name a few.
This experience is called emotional flooding and it got the better of me more than a couple of times.
The day I share a movement for you to try first thing out of bed.
Normally, I video a movement, but it’s not necessary today. Today, just practice to find your breath.
Breathing is easy but often overlooked. You don’t even need to do this first thing out of bed, although I recommend you do. Do it again and again and again throughout your day. Do it every moment you can steal from the frenzy of being alive.
Five deep breaths. Find a moment or more every day for five deep, full breaths. No specific way to breathe. You find your own natural movement of your breath. Pay attention to it. Learn it.
By breathing full inhales and exhales for a minute or so you can slow down your nervous system and allow for clarity, or fall asleep, or calm your nerves, or lower your heart rate – anything, really. Breathing is a tool I recommend mastering. I am by no means a master, but in my recent dive into meditation and yoga, I am in awe of what I am capable of doing with my breath.
Give it a conscious effort this week.
Here and now in this season, I recognize behaviors and associations of mine that I want to change. For me, changing behavior begins with an end. I have learned that I have to first stop a behavior if I want to start a different behavior.
In the case of my emotional flooding, my was body even changing. Here’s how I figured it out. Here’s my four step approach to a lot of things these days.
I state my condition:
My heart is pounding. My breath is shallow. I feel rage, hurt, panic and fear.
I take responsibility for myself:
I am going to calm myself down.
I say how will I take responsibility:
I am going to breathe until my pulse lowers.
I do it like my life depends on it (because it feels like it does)
I had been ignoring the news. I’m busy being healthy, being creative and improving myself. The news, to me, is about as gross as porn. Even more gross, to me, is everyone so addicted to it.
That said, I feel strongly about keeping my eyes open for causes and ways in which I can participate in equal rights and equity for all people. It’s clear that Trump poses a threat in that department.
So where to start?
I started with all the headlines from Trump’s executive orders. Then compiled them into an ordered list of “I want to projectile vomit” down to “I might puke in my mouth a little.”
Anyway, it was a creative mental exercise that helped me get clear on causes near and nearer to my heart.
It got me to thinking about healthy living. I have talked a lot about physical exercise. I have written quite a bit about my own journey with emotional fitness.
I write and be creative every day but just thought that was me. Not something many others do. But maybe you should.
I haven’t talked much about the mental muscle. This post is about practicing and strengthening our mental muscle.
Imagine not using your legs for a week. They would atrophy. You would lose muscle. How about for a month? You might not even remember how to walk!
Just like walking, the mental muscle atrophies within days if you don’t use it.
You need to exercise the mental muscle just like you’d exercise your body. It takes about 2-6 months to build up once it atrophies. Just like it would the body starting from an “out of shape” place.
That’s why I recommend daily mental labor. This occurs in the form of reading and writing. Writing ideas, thoughts, diaries, all kinds of stuff. Crossword puzzles are good too. Be creative. Write your stories and feelings.
For example, yesterday I memorized all 16 flower programs, variety and combinations that the greenhouse I work is growing for Walmart.
Today, I came up with 13 ideas for you to exercise your mental muscle. Try one.
1. 10 things that Trump could do in the next 4 years that would change our mind and not think he is a complete douchebag
2. 7 things you can start doing immediately that do not require any money and that you know just out of your own common sense to improve your health
4. 11 family trips you would like to take before your children graduate from high school
5. Every productive thing you did yesterday
6. 13 different at home businesses you could start with $500 or less
7. 30 different chapter titles for your autobiography
8. A complete listing of the best coffee shops in town and why you like their brew better or less than the others
9. Skip the to-do list, write a to-don’t list for the day
10. Empty all of your to-do items on a blank piece of paper and categorize them i.e. home, work, family, social
11. 19 hard situations from your past that blossomed a blessing over time
12. 29 of your all-time favorite books and big take away from each. Haven’t read 29 books? Start reading. That’s a great place to begin.
13. A comprehensive list of links of the best Tony Robbins videos that can be found for free on YouTube
It’s hard to exercise the mental muscle every day. Nobody is perfect. I don’t know if I’ll get to it today. But I know when I do, I know when I make it a priority to be creative, it works. I’m healthier. I’m better. I’m improving.