Tag Archives: father

Seven Things I Want my Dad to Know Before It’s too late

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Sure we’d say, “I love you,” and some things were just understood, but we didn’t necessarily communicate on a certain level – that level where you just sit around clearly communicating and talking about feelings. Our actions spoke louder than words, so it was clearly shown how everyone felt, and I felt loved, but I wish I could verbalize some things – to further convey that love. Below are seven things I’d want my dad to know before it was too late: Continue reading

#ShareTheLoad: A Laundry Detergent Starts A Conversation About Gender Equality

Ariel brand laundry detergent just released a commercial that is more than just an ad. It’s even more than a sweet snapshot of a family at home. It is starting a conversation about gender equality, standards of upbringing for girls and boys and whether or not those things can change. Continue reading

How to Live with Questions Instead of Hunting for Answers

questionsI am a child of the West. More specifically, I am a child of the United States and the mentality of answering a question is deeply-ingrained in me. I often think back to when I was in school, third or fourth grade and the teacher asked a question. I can still see the class, all boys, in sport coats, dress shirts and ties as we collectively raised our hands, we knew the answer. We wanted our teacher to know that we knew.

Someone was picked and the answer was given and then, it was on to the next question. When I worked on presidential campaigns, John Kerry in 2004 and Bill Richardson in 2008, I would sit at the edges of the rooms as the press asked questions. Q&A sessions are the core of journalism. You couldn’t possibly just have a “question” session where a question was left to float and linger; nor have there been many great ‘answer’ sessions where everyone gathers around and shares an answer to a question that was never asked.

We grow up and we want the answers. Why does she love? Why did she stop? Why did this happen or that? We hire therapists and read the books. We seek answers in the stars, our friends, and our family members. Today, in the world of electronic connection, there has to be an answer to every text; there has to be a response to every post and every email.

Not only that, we often read the simplest of pieces of communication over and over for an answer. We want to know why the person sent it; what’s the logic for the use of wink and not a smile. We pull layers off of layers and try and see what lies underneath. We need to find the answer.

Almost two years ago, I set out on my own journey to find out what happened to my father who had died in Southeast Asia in 1984. This was also less than a year after my mother had died in my arms in a hospice in Arizona. I set out with a mission. The impetus for my leaving was  a dinner I had with two close friends in Cape Town, South Africa while on a business trip there. “Go” they each told me, “go find out. It’s what you need to do.” I remember sitting at restaurant, as the waiters bustled about. I remember the feeling of the crowd and the room. I remember thinking, ‘yes I will go.’ So I went.

I learned an enormous amount on my journey. The journey concluded with me being back in that same restaurant last week while back in Cape Town on another business trip. I sat there and thought about what I had learned and what I hadn’t.

I left on my journey with my Western sense of “I need to find the answers” fully intact and front and center. I thought if I worked a bit harder, if I went to one more place that my father had gone to back then, if I stood on one more street corner where I knew that he had stood, I could find the answer. Any answer. An answer to how he felt when he was there. An answer to how he felt when he died. Something.

What I learned is that you should always go on your journey. We each have something that we have either always wanted to do. A place that we went to when we were young that we have wanted to go back to. Or perhaps we want to see where our parents were from, or where they met. We could want to see where someone near and dear to us lived, or died. It can be as far reaching as traveling Southeast Asia as I did, or as simple as wandering an old neighborhood where you grew up at night.

Go on the journey.

But go, not as I did as Westerner looking for the answer, though I suspect that you will leave that way. Go as the Burmese and African friends that I met along the way would go. Go knowing that the answers are elusive and not only are they elusive, the questions travel with you.

When you learn to live with the questions all day and all night, you realize that the answers don’t matter nearly as much as you once thought. When I was in Burma, I would get emails from my friends from the States, ‘did you find out what happened to your father?’ But no one there ever asked me that. They knew that it wasn’t the answers that mattered so much, but the journey itself. And living with the questions.

I wish I could go back to the classroom of my youth and when the teacher asked a question, instead of shooting my arm up and seeking to be the one with the answer, I would be the boy who sat there and just thought about the question.

 

photo by: paul bica

It’s the Journey, Not the Destination That Matters

the journey homeSo many of us are rushing though life – focused on the destination, not the journey. A great life, however, is really all about the journey – about what you meet, learn, endure, understand, appreciate, discover and choose along the way. Be intentional about participating in what life shares with you as you head out each day.

It is good advice to have goals and objectives – to know in which direction to head. The more we understand our unique abilities – our talents, strengths and passions – the clearer our life’s direction becomes. With this information, we can then sort through what our world has to offer to find those opportunities that fit what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. This is only the start. The real value happens not as we define our road, but as we show up on that road – to see what we can see and be part of along the way.

“The view matters,” is something my dad used to say to my five siblings and me. The view from the meandering garden path matters as he would stop us on each curve in the path to see what could be seen, experienced and even smelled. His intentional planting of certain trees, bushes and flowers created beauty, fragrance and an experience along the way – from the house to the street and from the house to the driveway. All of it was intentional. Stop. Look. Appreciate. Enjoy. Learn. Experience. It’s here for you – along the way.

My 3 daughters are now in their 20s and out of the house. Between rushing to and from soccer games, school events, college dorms – it all seems to have passed by so quickly. Goals achieved: college completed, jobs and lives on their own. On those roads over the past 20 years, I met amazing people, been to some outstanding places, done some totally dumb things and some absolutely amazing things. I have such bigger and fuller memories of the times I took the time compared to those that blurred by as I dashed here and there. I truly believe that a great life is not about getting it all done, but is one committed to seeing and experiencing things along the way.

Mind you, I have better intentions to slow down and show up than my delivery seems to show. But I am glad to be aware of it because awareness is the first step to becoming more intentional about choosing to experience the moments of life. Acknowledging that we are rushing through life, missing the things along the way, can help us choose to show up more present – to notice what we can see, feel, sense, experience and be part of. Life’s value isn’t in getting the to-do list all done. It’s about how we how up to the list.

So we are still at the start of a new year. There is time to make a commitment to make 2014 the year of the journey, not the dash for the finish. What today, right now, can you pay better attention to – can be more intentional about – so that you connect to the moment and all that it has for you? How can you slow down to increase the learning, experience and connection that will feed your soul, your spirit, your passion and perhaps even help you find your purpose. Everything you need for a most amazing life is found in the moments that you meet along the way.

Like Jay’s blog? Check out these similar Intents on Intent.com!

Intent - journey

Intent - miraculous journey

photo by: paul bica

Juggling Glass and Wood: How to Prioritize Your Life

Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 1.51.48 PMMy father likes to explain life using a juggling metaphor. “Life is all about juggling glass and wooden balls. Sometimes you can’t keep all of them in the air. The trick to being successful is that if you have to drop any balls, make sure they are the wooden ones.” If a wooden ball drops on the floor, it’ll just roll away whereas the glass ones will break and cause an even bigger mess. So now not only do you have to juggle, but you have to watch your feet so you don’t step on any of the shards. Inevitably that will cause you to drop all the balls – and that’s a full fledged level 5 disaster.

I’ve always found that metaphor useful when I’m starting to feel stressed out. Like recently as I’ve been trying to finish projects for the end of my first quarter of school, scheduling blogs, making appointments with my over-priced personal trainer, writing stories for my storytelling seminar… It gets to be a bit much. And I’m not even trying to pretend to be like many of you who are juggling jobs, children, relationships with everything else.

Those responsibilities can grow exponentially during the holiday season when you add buying gifts, cooking family meals, sending out Christmas cards, making that pot luck dish for the office party – it never ends. So how do you deal with it? Get out a piece of paper and start identifying what balls you have in the air.

How do you tell if something is a glass ball? If you answer yes to any of the following questions, it’s glass.

Is this essential to me paying my bills at the end of the month (aka keeping my job, etc)? 

Does not doing this negatively affect my health or the health/safety of those around me? 

Is this essential to the happiness and stability of my family (or for you personally)? 

If it does not fall into one of those categories, no matter what pressure anyone else is putting on you – it’s a wooden ball. This means the world isn’t actually going to end if one of them drops, even if it seems that way. However, there are still more important wooden balls than others and prioritizing them will only help you further. Try these tips for figuring out the most important tasks.

  • Order the tasks by timeline (what has to be done the soonest?)
  • Tackle the tasks that will take the most time and effort first (as you complete one hard task it’ll only energize you to tackle the others)
  • Are there any tasks that completing them will make the others easier? These definitely go first! 
  • Which tasks reap the largest rewards? Whether that’s time with family (or for yourself!), financially, or space in your calendar – line them up in order of payoff. 

At this point you should have a good idea of the essentials and know the order of your task list. Now you can get started, and if the clock starts winding down and you know you aren’t going to get to everything – start dropping from the bottom. It’s all wood, you’re going to be okay. Breathe. Keep tossing and catching. Toss and catch. One at a time and steadily the list gets smaller and smaller until you get down to only the essential balls that hopefully will feel by instinct at this point so you can rest.

How do you determine your glass and wooden balls? Leave your tips below! 

5 Quotes on the Importance of Family

Magazines-24-711. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” – Lilo & Stitch (Walt Disney Studios)

Disney has ways of making all of us cry, but one of the universal “Hold on, let me grab the tissue” moments was when Stitch reminded Lio what “ohana” means. No matter what our family looks like or whether they are blood related to us, family sticks together.

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2. “I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching, they are your family” – Jim Butcher (source)

Family isn’t always about blood relations – it’s about being there for each other. Don’t get so caught up in logistics.

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3. “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” (source)

Our loved ones may not always be around when we need them, but know that they stay with us even when they go.

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4. “Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” (source)

We may move on from our homes, but families help us keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

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5. “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox (source)

We can trust a man who got his start in Hollywood on a show called “Family Ties” to know a thing or two about family bonds. Plus Michael J. Fox is just an all-around good guy.

Healing from Drug Addiction: A Lesson in Second Chances

Illegal Drug Addiction and Substance AbuseBy Carol Lind Mooney

The hospital room where my father lay deathly ill from emphysema was small and sterile. All of his friends in Alcoholics Anonymous were gathered in the waiting room telling stories and recounting fond memories of their time with Dr. John Mooney. This was 1982 and my father had been an upstanding citizen of our community for 23 years. He was a well-known surgeon who plummeted through the gates of hell with a drug addiction, along with my mother, until a series of miracles and loving friends forced him to get help. In the recently published book, When Two Loves Collide, by William Borchert, the readers can follow the heart-ache, pain, despair, and loneliness, on a spiritual journey with an ending that has touched thousands of lives.

The crowd that was gathered at the hospital that day seemed jovial. There was laughter along with the tears. At times, the nurse had to plead for silence as patients were complaining about the noise. It was a room filled with love and support. That’s how AA folks are.

I sat in a chair in the corner facing away from the group in dirty blue jeans. I wanted no part of the camaraderie. I was 20, strung out on drugs and homeless. Because my parents got sober in 1959, they understood addiction. In fact, they dedicated their lives to helping others. But they had done all within their power to get me sober, to no avail. They were pretty sure their only daughter, would die a horrible alcoholic death. A letter I received from them in 1980 read:

Dearest Carol Lind,

Your father and I love you very much, but we have accepted the fact that death may be the answer to your alcoholism. Although that would be the worst thing imaginable, we will have to find a way to be okay. You are always in our prayers.

Love,

Mama and Daddy

They had turned me over to God and gotten on with their lives.

My home was a small tent by the railroad tracks. In the mornings, I would awaken with leaves tangled in my hair. My mom found me there and asked me to come say “good-bye” to my dad.

So, as I sat in my corner of the ICU waiting area, I was alone. My father was the most important person in my life. He was witty, charming, and brilliant. But I couldn’t stay sober long enough to have a relationship with him. I wanted nothing more than to walk in his room, hold him, telling him how much I loved him. Instead, I sat in my cold metal chair, shaking, and thinking about getting high. When the doctor let me go in to see him, my dad looked at me with disgust and sadness in his eyes and asked me to leave.

Thank God for second chances. Much to the doctor’s surprise, my dad recovered and was released from the hospital. Several months later I hit my bottom with drugs. I asked for help and began my own journey into recovery. My dad was mostly home-bound. I learned in early sobriety to be helpful to others, so I spent time getting to know him & helping him. In his pajamas he taught me about the intricacies of baseball. He educated me on the many species of birds outside of his window. He showed me how to forgive others – no matter what they had done. He taught me about being of service to God and my fellows. I was able to make amends the best I could. An alcoholic or addict causes harm in ways too painful to express. But he forgave me. He did that not only for me, but for him. So he could have peace of mind.

Ours is a story of hope, forgiveness, and love. It is not a sad tale. When my father passed away on November 10, 1983, he knew I was safe and happy. That’s all he ever wanted, I suppose. I thought he wanted me to have fancy titles and prestige, but what he wanted was to lie down at night and not worry about his daughter. I am forever grateful I got sober in time to have a relationship with the greatest man I ever knew.

* * *

Carol Lind Mooney is an Attorney and Certified Addiction Counselor with over 30 years of experience helping alcoholics and addicts. She owns three recovery residences in Statesboro, Georgia and is a co-owner of Willingway, a nationally recognized treatment center also in Statesboro. She is the daughter of Dr. John and Dot Mooney, the subjects of “When Two Loves Collide,” the new book by Emmy-nominated writer Bill Borchert. The book is available on Willingway.com, Amazon.com, books.com  and in most major book stores.

Dreaming of My Dad Years After His Death

HeartLast night I dreamed of my dad. I wish I could say I remember all the details, but what I remember is enough. I woke up with a smile. Since my dad died 4 years ago from pancreatic cancer, I’m always happy when I dream of him.

I feel his energy and presence around me all the time when I’m awake: writing, reading, crying, laughing, walking on the beach, driving, meditating, and, of course, during savasana. Oh, sweet savasana! But when I’m asleep and I dream of him, those times take me by the biggest surprise because it’s normally unexpected (I’m not thinking about him when I go to bed or asking for him to show up in my dream).

I always wake up from one of these dreams thinking how normal it felt, as if the dream scenario was 100% real. Of course, it is real – real in another dimension than the physical plane we occupy now. I guess that’s what makes it so difficult to understand, because there are no big “aha” moments in these dreams. We are normally just hanging out as we did when his physical body was still here. Sometimes he is healthy, other times he is sick, but the dreams typically feel ordinary.

I have to admit, one thing that always nags at me the next morning is why. Why did I dream of him? What does it mean? I’ve always been a curious person, and I wish I knew why I dream of him sporadically and if there is a deep meaning behind it.

There are many schools of thought regarding the meaning of dreams. Dreaming of him could be a survival instinct to refocus on cherishing the physical realm relationships I have now. I could unconsciously be thinking of him more than I realize, and that’s why he shows up in my dreams. Of course, it could be Dad just dropping in to say “hello”. Or, it could mean nothing at all (although, that would admittedly be a downer).

I guess regardless of what it means, I am happy when he is in my dreams. Yes, sometimes it may make me sad and miss him, but I know I’m lucky to even have these dreams. I cherish them.

Years ago, I eagerly visited a shaman to ask him some deep, life questions. I was at peace when I left, but not because he answered my questions. Turns out, he told me I simply ask too many questions. I’ve always remembered that and understood what he was teaching me: There are many ways to “know” things, and they don’t always appear in ways our brains and minds can understand. My dream questions remind me of this. Of course, I am still intrigued with the why and what, but for now, I’m just happy to “see” my dad in my dreams.

“Decoding Deepak”: A sneak-peak at the upcoming film

You probably know Deepak Chopra as a physician, a writer, a speaker, or, as he says, “an explorer of consciousness.” You may have read some (or all!) of his more than 65 books, and perhaps you’ve seen him speak at an event on consciousness, science, or spirituality. You may have seen videos of him on The Chopra Well. Remember this line from “Meet the Chopras”? “I am a luminous, stardust being that was manufactured in the dust of the Big Bang.” Classic Deepak.

Well, here is your chance to see another side of Deepak…Deepak Chopra the father, the grandfather, the everyday man living his life. Gotham, Deepak’s son, spent a year traveling around the world with his father in an attempt to unpack the persona that has developed around the man. The resulting documentary, “Decoding Deepak,” is scheduled for release in theaters and on demand October 5.

To give you an idea of what to look forward to, here is an excerpted scene from the film. In the scene, Gotham and Deepak have arrived in Thailand where Deepak is soon to be honored in a traditional Buddhist ceremony for monkhood. Separated from his work, social networks, and chaotic schedule, he grows restless.

Cool, huh? Yes, even Deepak Chopra is plugged in to social networks. And even Deepak Chopra can grow restless without them. This is just a taste of what’s to come.

Subscribe for The Chopra Well so you don’t miss the next excerpted scene from “Decoding Deepak.” And then catch the entire film, starting October 5, in select theaters and on demand.

Grief Has Its Own Timetable

After the death of someone we love our grief experience and overall healing has everything to do with our relationship to the deceased, the intensity and depth of the love we felt for them and our degree of faith in a hereafter.  In the immediate aftermath of a person’s death, it’s hard to breathe and everything hurts. We feel shattered, bewildered and frightened. Sometimes, however, grief shows us its own timetable and can be delayed or complicated.  I experienced a long delay in time sequence when my father died.  I was thirteen years old; it was the springtime of my life. 

 I rarely spoke about him back then and it appeared that I was coping fine until my early 30’s when my denied pain erupted on the heels of a favorite uncle’s death.  I discovered then just how much sorrow I had repressed when my father was layed to rest.  I also discovered that just because he was at peace didn’t mean I was.

When, Katie, my beloved daughter, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 18 I felt gripped again by old feelings of terror and potential loss.  During the next ten years while Katie battled the up and down relapses and recoveries of her surgeries and treatments I had to deal with the realty of what might happen to her: a premature death. We don’t always get what we want in this lifetime so when Katie passed away at age 28 my father’s death was immediately eclipsed because, despite my love for him, no grief compares with the agony of losing a child.  

Now, after 11 years and 51 years, respectfully, my feelings of loss still go up and down simply because our souls do not mark time linearly. And while I don’t feel that crippling paralysis that I experienced initially, I continue to experience their loss and see the empty spaces left behind.  But now, I make the conscious choice to fill that "missing you" space by helping others deal with their losses. Making that daily choice to help others allows my communion with Katie, my father and everyone I’ve lost to remain open, active and meaningful. It also helps me to be present in my life as it is now and in the lives of those whom I love and who love me.  

It took me a long time to get where I am emotionally because I, as many other people whose lives are changed by monumental loss, wanted to get "my old life" back.  I finally understand that pursuit is futile because "my old life" is not coming back.  I’m confident, however, that my faith and trust in life’s process will help me to find the joys and peace that are looking for me just as I am looking for them.

Mary Jane Hurley Brant, M.S., CGP, Author of When Every Day Matters, Simple Abundance Press

http://www.MJHB.net

http://www.WhenEveryDayMatters.com

 

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