Tag Archives: adulthood

Why is it so Hard to Feel so Good?


Perhaps it’s the stage of life I’m in, mid-life, where I’ve noticed the conversations with my friends has taken on a slightly different tone than when we were younger. Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist, continues that during our 20’s discussions were often filled with lofty talk about our future. We’d talk about our goals, hopes and dreams, with an occasional “guy or girl story” sprinkled throughout our conversation. Now most of my contemporaries are in their 40’s or older. Many of us have met some, if not a lot of the important goals, we set out to achieve. Some of these achieved goals are even the ones we would dream and talk about, during our younger years. One might think this would create a sense of glee, or at the very least some sliver of self satisfaction to feel good, but I have found the opposite to often be true. The interesting thing about goals is there are always new ones waiting to be born. Only the goals of adulthood don’t always benefit from the veil of grandiosity or hopeful feelings, so typically felt during our youth. Adult goals, although still equally longed for and dreamt about, get internalized alongside a healthy dose of reality; a byproduct of living life and in some cases being humbled by it.

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Find Out What You Want – Step #3


 What a remarkably appropriate stick this is, how well fitted for today. How interesting that I pulled it out of my bunch now, of all times. Now that I sit in a hotel room in Poland, in Katowice, in the city I grew up in. The city I escaped from. The city that still haunts me in nightmares.

Here I am, shocked like a deer in the headlights, because I feel the past closing in around me. I feel a life that is over and done with, that is gone, long gone, coming back from its dark hole. Here I am. Not Pausha Foley anymore but Patrycja Gawronska. Again.

Clinging to Christopher with all my might – he is my shield against Polishness. My link to Pausha. My link to Pausha Foley. To the American life. To the French life. To the lives I created for myself.

But then this – this dark, hard, painful existence in this dirty, dark, crumbling city – have I created this too? Have I created my childhood full of fear and pain? Have I created the trauma that sent me for long years into apathy and obliviousness?

I would hesitate to answer this … maybe … has it not been for one night, long ago, in Los Angeles. I worked with the wizard that night. I went deep, deep into the source of me, into dark places and scary blanknesses filled with a terrifying father, with masculine abuse and feminine neglect, with collapse of my power, my autonomy, my soul. And then, when the time came to return to my body, I resurfaced accompanied by a thought:

interesting how I organized all those experiences for myself…

Click here to read Find Out What You Want – Step #1 and Find Out What You Want – Step # 2

Elephant in the Room: The Guilt of Leaving Home

Travel is stressfulDear Cora,

I moved in with my grandma after my freshman year of college because the other adults in my life were unreliable – my parents aren’t around and my step-mother all but kicked me out. So my grandma has been there for me when I felt like I had no one else and we are really close.

She lives just outside of New York City, and I just got a full-time job in Brooklyn. I’ve been commuting for a while but it takes forever. A friend has offered me a room to sublet in her apartment and then we’ll find another place together. It’ll mean much less commute time and also moving into a place of my own and fully transitioning into post-college adult life.

I really want to move out of my house, but every time I bring it up to my grandma, she gets upset and offended by it. She keeps telling me that I’m her best friend and I feel so guilty that I drop the subject. She’s not the reason I want to move, and I don’t want to upset her after everything she has done for me, but I feel like it’s time for me to go. How do I tell her it’s time for me to go without hurting her feelings?

Ready to Go


Dear Ready to Go,

It sounds to me like you’ve had your fair share of guardian troubles, and I’m sorry to hear things have been difficult for you. But it warms my heart to hear about your grandmother and your bond. She seems like a sweet woman, and I understand your desire to mollify her, but I can also hear your desire to spread your wings. Your desire to move out is your natural desire to grow up. I remember that need all too well.

When it was time for me to go to college I had two viable choices – I could go to school in the next grasslands over from my parents, where many of my friends were also going and where weekend trips home would be easy and probably frequent. My other option was to move across the country, where I knew no one and would have to explore a vast new land for myself. Despite having been a wandering elephant himself when he was my age, my father had become very protective in his older years and was very vocal about his desires for me to stay close. I felt a burning wanderlust though. While I knew going to option one would be safe, and I’d get a great education, I yearned to see something new. It felt intoxicatingly romantic to fend for myself in a big city away from everything I had known before.

I had my work cut out for me though, because my father was as logical as he was protective, and I’d need an iron clad argument to convince him to see my point of view. Like you, just saying “I just want to go,” wouldn’t work and he’d get this pained expression whenever I tried to explain it was my choice, not his. However, when I explained how good it would be for me to try this – that it’d make me a stronger elephant – he seemed to recognize his old self in me and softened a bit. It was the “You can always visit and it’d be exciting for you too,” bit that sold him though.

My college years were the most exciting, educational, and influential years of my life. As hard as it was for my parents, and my occasional bouts of homesickness, I don’t regret my decision for one second. And my father visited a total of 16 times over four years – I think that has to be some sort of record.

You’re going to have to be strong, ready, and prepare your solid argument. Luckily, you have the benefit of not moving too far away going for you. Sit your grandmother down and off the top tell her exactly what you told me – how much you appreciate what she’s done for you, and she’s your best friend too, and none of that has to change just because you live a few train rides away. Remind her how it’ll be good for you to learn how to live by yourself and it is a rite of passage for a couple of young twenty-somethings to try and squeeze into a matchbox sized apartment. This is ripping off the Band-Aid. Soothe the pain by adding that you’ll be back for weekend visits all the time (this is encouraging but also vague so you’re not over-committing) and if you have your own place she’ll have a place to escape to when she needs a change of scenery.

The thing is she is never going to be completely happy about this decision – she’s a grandmother who loves you and obviously wants to keep you close. However, if you explain to her how badly you want this, need it for your own development, she’ll see it’s best for you – and if there’s one thing grandmothers want it is the best for their grandchildren. It’ll be hard for her, so be patient with her, but inevitably she’ll come around. Just give her a chance.

Best wishes,

* * *

avatar-NO-BKCGRNDSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

3 Ways To Find Your Inner Child and Add the WOW! Back to Life

flying kidKids don’t like being bored. So, when the world becomes boring to them, they find things to make it interesting. They invent, create, imagine – or at least they do this until much of our schooling pulls this desire and ability out of them.

Here are some alarming statistics: Kids laugh and smile more than 400 times a day. Adults – only 15. The ability to see the greatness, awesomeness, and wonder about life is such an incredible trait in kids, and one that we, as adults, have either forgotten how to do or have been trained out of. Though we are each born great, we often trade our greatness in order to fit in. We accept what others do as what “is done” and in the process, we become more and more disconnected from our true talents, strengths and passions. We loose our sense of wonder – we stop being kids.

So what if, just for a moment, we could get back into our “kid thinking” – the thinking that allowed us to see possibilities everywhere, that prevented us from being afraid of standing out, failing or doing anything but loving life? What if we were more focused on all that could happen instead of constantly seeing what can’t happen? Image how our lives would change.

Consider these three ways to reconnect to your inner child to find ways to add more WOW! and wonder back into your life:

1. Reconnect to your memories. Think back to when you were a kid. What did you love to do? What did you dream about? Who were your heroes? Where did you spend your time? When we were younger, we did things that made
us happy, mostly because we were less concerned with what others thought. We tried things and chose to do things we knew were right – or fun – for us. Kids are remarkably authentic and true. So thinking back to when you were
younger and identify what was right and fun for you. Without others telling you who to be, how things are or what to do, you filled your time with the things you loved; you did what mattered to you. Many of these things still matter to you. List them, think about them, reconnect to them. You need this information to do what comes next: action.

2. Act on what mattered to you. From that list of possibilities, select one or two. If you loved to dance, go dance. Take lessons or put the music on when you are home. If you loved to write, use numbers, solve puzzles, cook, build
things, dream, run, play sports, lead others, act or anything else, start it again. These things mattered to us. And for the most part, we were good at them. We have both the interest and the ability to bring it back into our lives in some form. Keep a running list of things you want to add back into your life. Then go do it.

3. Tell the judging committee in your head to sit down and shut up. The greatest reason why we live small (why we seemingly don’t love life like kids do) is that we have a committee in our head that likes to tell us what and how to do things. So if you reconsider doing things you did as a kid, the adult, responsible and serious committee in your head is going to give you a tough time. As an adult, these “voices” tell you that acting like a kid is foolish. Life is serious, dangerous and hard. Though all that is true, life is also ours to invent. A life that is built around play – where play means doing what we love in both work and life – is better, happier, and more successful than a life that is serious, dangerous, and hard. We choose how we see life – thrilled like a kid or stressed like an adult. And the cause of much of our “can’t do” attitude is the inner critic, expert and curmudgeon that wants us to play it safe, stay small and follow someone else’s rules. So in the moment when you feel pulled to put the kids dreams away, practice telling your inner critic and committee to sit down, go get a book and shut up.

We could have a life of WOW – in fact, I personally think that is how it is intended. Life is full of great moments that should appreciated and celebrated. But we have been taught that fun is not responsible. We are taught that hard work is the only route to a good life. We are taught that we are supposed to grow up and act like adults, often defined as serious, compliant and disciplined. But why? Why give up the perspective that life is fun, filled with possibilities that are new, exciting and awesome?

So here’s my challenge for you. When you find yourself in a situation where you feel stressed or manic, ask yourself: what would a kid do (WWAKD)? Because maybe, that answer might be exactly what you need to do in that moment. And in the process, we could add more fun, adventure, and WOW to our lives, allowing us to add more good times, joy and excitement. If we remember what we loved as kids and brought some of it back, we could rekindle our love of life and be impressed with all that it can be.

Now, tell your ‘committee’ to be quiet and go out and act like a kid…

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photo by: Victor Bezrukov