Archive for ‘Relationships’

July 19, 2011

Gifts, They Are Plenty

BBC World Service Radio Interview

Another interesting stop along the winding road of life; lately there have been many. A recent interview that I did with Sian Griffiths at BBC World Service Radio was broadcast yesterday and brings with it a new level of accountability and motivation. You can hear the interview by clicking on the icon to the right.

Two things really stick out for me as the day comes and goes, and perhaps ironically, neither of them really has to do with swimming, or pools but both of them have a lot to do with my MEfurbishment.   During the interview Ms. Griffiths talks to the entire Campbell-Wynn family and something that 15 year old Keven said could not be more spot-on.

“You can go about living your life, living how many years you can live or you can go and measure it by how many people you reach out to, how many people you touch and how many people you get to help.”

Every MEbucket is impacted positively by having this type of outlook on life. When you start to live your life in this way, it fills you up in ways that material things just cannot manage, and it is contagious. The universe has a way of reminding us what’s important, why we are all here, but we need to slow down long enough to notice. This is really what MEfurbish is all about.  Thanks for the reminder Keven!

The other thing I took out of the day yesterday was a reminder of my level of gratitude for everything I have in my life. From my family and friends, to the country I live in. Monica C Chongo reminded me of this on the Outlook, BBC World Service Facebook page where she comments:

“I wish I could do this in Zambia. As it is, some neighbourhoods do not even have clean drinking water, let alone water to swim in. Good for you Leslie”

Here, here MS. Chongo. I try not to take things in my life for granted. Our society really conditions us in a lot of ways to have expectations. Things should be easy, more is better, and me first! When we take time to think about what is really important, things like the basic human rights and requirements of food, shelter, safety, and clean drinking water, it helps bring into perspective how fortunate we are in Canada.

The many gifts I receive from my original simple request to swim continue to astound me.  As I have shared over and over again, no bucket goes untouched in this process. Thanks to each and every one of you for sharing in my journey.

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July 5, 2011

30 Days Later – Part 3

Are You Mental?

If you had asked me 3 years ago how my mental health was I would have probably “top shelf”, or “fit as a fiddle.” Looking back in hindsight I can see now that this couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Why, you ask would have said such a thing then? Well that’s a tricky answer. Mental health is a taboo subject. People don’t walk around saying that they are not mentally healthy. People would look at you like you had three heads, literally.

In my experience, as soon as the topic comes up people shut down. They either want to change the subject or get the heck out of dodge as quickly as possible. I don’t blame them, in the past I have been in these situations and it’s hard to know what to do or say. The other thing that comes to mind is a genuine fear of judgement. Not just the awkward moments or weird looks but the possible impact to your work and career. Would I have been tapped to give the next big presentation or take on the next big project if I was the head case guy? Who knows.

Are You for Real?

We live in a society where being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. There seems to me more dialogue at a high level about mental health, but when you get right down to the nitty gritty, in the trenches with the people who hold your livelihood in the balance, there is not a lot of education or awareness. I have been met with sighs, eye-rolling, sneers, anger, confusion and outright disbelief. A common reaction seems to be that I have done something wrong.

What’s going on here? Isn’t this supposed to be an update on how I am doing after 30 days? Yes, but it’s important to know where I was to be able to measure how far I have come. I also want to make the point that recovery in this area is huge for me and needs to be called out. I need to be as willing to share my successes in this area of my life as well. So, with that, let’s get to the good news!

Lookin’ Good!

I wish I could say that I have gained 427 units of positivity or my confidence is at an all-time high of 624. Unfortunately there are no blood tests for these things. We need to cover things that my gut tells me, and talk about feelings. Those of you who can’t take it, please feel free to run away screaming! Hehe

  • I have always been an idea guy. When I was working, I often came up with very creative solutions to problems that would impress clients and colleagues alike. This is something that I have missed while not at work and was diminishing considerably in the later years of my recent career. Finding a pool to use through a Kijiji classified ad post has given me a taste of that satisfaction. I feel proud of the creativity that I used here, and it has definitely added to my overall happiness and confidence.
  • If you asked my colleagues and friends, many would say I am confident. This too was waning in recent years. Taking the steps I have taken in the past year to prioritize my health and more specifically the swimming portion of my recovery, has helped considerably in this area. Solving the problem of the pool, putting myself out there on the radio, and here on MEfurbish has all helped my confidence considerably.
  • Acceptance of who I am and what I have or have not accomplished in my life is another area that has seen a dramatic shift for the better. Part of this has come with my ability to be less of a people pleasure that I have been in the past. When I stop looking for you to accept me, I begin to accept myself more. Getting in the water each day, because it’s what I want to do for me, regardless of how crazy some people think this whole thing is has really helped me to accept more readily where I am, who I am and that only I can really get this done. No one else can solve this problem for me.

The reason I started on this path to MEfurbishment and that I get my butt in the pool 4 times a week in the first place is to improve my overall happiness. This is the real barometer of success and I can say without a doubt that I am happier than I have been in a long time. Things just seem more manageable. For today, I am going to embrace that happiness and keep doing what I think has helped me to get here. I know that I have a long way to go, but you know what? I have no doubt today that I can do it!

Peace,

Leslie

June 29, 2011

Me You and the World

Get Out There!

The coolest things that have come my way as a result of my effort to swim are the changes that I see in some of my current relationships as well as the gift of some new relationships. Putting myself “out there” has fostered a real sense of community in me. I have talked to absolute strangers who have seen my picture on the CBC website and are excited for me and just want to show their support.

I have now had two interviews with Hallie Cotnam and she is not just a great broadcaster and journalist but a really cool person that I have met and feel like I have a connection with. Spending time discussing my story, both the challenges and rewards, makes me feel a bit more understood, a lot more heard, and certainly more connected to the community at large.

Getting emails, blog comments, voice messages, text messages, status update feedback and messages of support and encouragement from across the nation has further connected me to the world around me in a way that is indescribable.  There is a level of honestly and sincerity present that is not typical with people I find. I have opened up, and put information about me out there that I had previously kept mostly to myself; the result is that many people have related to that, and to what I am going through. With the exception of a few jokesters out there, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

I have noticed that some of my most important relationships have shifted slightly as well. This experience has opened up lines of dialogue with friends and family that haven’t been open in a while due to my depression. Let me be clear, these are lines that I myself closed off, in many ways out of necessity, but slowly I can see them opening nonetheless.

The most important relationship I have, the one with my twelve year old daughter, is perhaps the one that I am most excited about. On the surface there haven’t been a lot of differences, but there is a level of confidence and pride on my part that has been eluding me as of late. I am proud of what I am doing. I feel like I am a good example to her in all of this. I am hopeful that she sees that she can ask for help when she needs it too. One journalist I was recently speaking with used the expression “grabbing the bull by the horns” to describe my effort to put my health first. As a proud vegan, I would never grab a bull that didn’t grab me first, but I get her point!  This is something else that I hope my daughter can glean from this situation.

As is the case with the physical changes I have witnessed, it is a miracle to me to be able to observe the depth of change that has taken place in such a short period of time. Tomorrow I will look at some of the more subtle changes that are taking place in my life, those in the area of my mental health. Until then, I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

PS. Today was a significant milestone in my swimming. I swam for a total of 60 minutes!  This is a good 12 minutes longer than any other time I have swam but it is also important because it is the goal I set for myself when I first got into the water, and the amount of time I will settle at moving forward. This week I have let go of counting laps, and will just focus on the 60 minutes. Moving forward, my goal will be to maximize the number of laps I can do in an hour, pushing myself to better my lap time gradually. Wish me luck!

Peace,

Leslie

June 28, 2011

30 Days Later – Part 1

How We Doin’

As a former business owner and manager it comes instinctively to me to stop frequently through any project and at various milestones to determine what’s working and what’s not working. It’s a perfect time to remove any roadblocks that might hinder continued success.

It has been one month since I first jumped into the pool to start the MElaps portion of my MEfurbishment. I thought it would be as good a time as any to have my first look back to assess how far I’ve come in the first 30 days.

The first thing I did was contemplate the different areas that have been impacted by my starting to swim. There is of course the obvious one, health but upon reflecting on the situation I can see that it goes beyond that. I have seen changes in my physical health as well as my mental health. There are positive things to look at around community, friendships and parenting as well.

Over the next few days I will look at each of these and think about where I have come from and where I am going. Today we will start with the one that most people are most interested in when I bump into them or receive emails, physical health. Here is a quick snapshot of what’s changed in the month.

Physical Health

Improvements

The most obvious change has been in my physical health. It is amazing to me what one month can do for changing your health. I have dropped 11 pounds so far but I know that I have lost more than that in fat. My clothes are fitting much differently and I am reminded each day when I buckle up my pants that there is more going on here than weight loss. I have already moved over four notch holes on the belt in just 30 days! I notice a considerable difference in the muscle mass in my arms, shoulders.

When walking, my steps have started to even out and my limp has reduced slightly. This tells me that my left leg, the one with worst knee is beginning to strengthen as well.  Something as simple as pushing off the wall of the pool at the end of each lap feels different as a result of this exercise too. There is, without a doubt, a much more evenly balanced power in my legs.  It would be great to be able to test my cardio in some way because I can feel a substantial difference in my breathing. The Wii Active 2 does have a fitness test that measures heart rate and recovery, but the test is hard on my knees. With a little more strength in my leg, I may be able to consider doing this test again to be able to measure my cardio improvement.

I know you are wondering how this has impacted things in the bedroom. Well, I haven’t had one leg cramp at night since starting to swim, a common problem before. In addition, my sleeps have been much better when I have slept. Get your mind out of the gutter!

Roadblocks

Swimsuit

Looking back there have been two things that have hindered my improvement this month. My notes from each day show the most consistent hindrance was my bathing suit. Yes, I said my bathing suit, sorry for the visual. While I don’t want to go to the extreme of using a brief style Speedo bathing suit, my current suit is now way too big and actually restricts my movement considerably in the water. Big size bathing suits aren’t cheap so I might try to hem and take in the current one if possible to allow for a little more freedom of movement and allow me to get through the next couple of months before buying a new one.

Counting

My obsession for knowing how many laps I have completed has actually slowed me down in the pool. For the first week or two, I was stopping after each lap to hit the lap timer on my cell phone, I progressed to using a waterproof watch but still found this a distraction. In weeks three and four I stopped timing each lap and just timed my entire swim and counted my laps out loud while swimming. This was definitely an improvement but I still find it to be a disruption. I find my time in the pool doing laps to be quite meditative and I really want to be able to let go of counting and timing altogether but still hold myself accountable.  I decided that this week I will move up to swimming for 60 minutes and just start a countdown timer so I can let go of time altogether. Over the next couple of weeks I hope to be able to come up with a better system for mindlessly counting my laps so I can let go of that too. I even thought of jimmying up a piece of string with close-pins or something that I can just slide at the end of each lap. My inner MacGyver is up to the challenge.

All in all I must say that I am thrilled about how things have gone. I have managed to keep myself from trying to add on 20 laps per day in an attempt to improve beyond what is reasonable and healthy. This is a big step for me, someone who is always looking for instantaneous gratification and results.

In the next post I will look at how my relationships and sense of community have changed since hitting the water. The changes here are perhaps the most rewarding of all and certainly the biggest surprise. Stop by tomorrow and have a read.

Peace,

Leslie

June 6, 2011

Weekend For The Soul

What a great weekend!

Friday was a PD day for the school kids in Ottawa so that meant a day off and in essence, a long weekend spent with my daughter. Awesome! The owner of the home where I swim suggested my 12 year old was welcome to join me at the house swimming and even cooler, invited us to come out later in the weekend to show her the horses as well. I gladly took her up on both of these offers.

Play Like A Kid

After some much needed rest and a lazy morning sleeping in, we headed out to the pool and hit the water. I had explained to my daughter that I needed to do my laps first and then we could frolic about after that. While it was a slight distraction to have someone in the pool while I was doing my laps it paled in comparison to the fun that we had when I had finished the “exercise” portion of the swim. Once I was done we grabbed a foam football and started to toss it back and forth to each other making dramatic dives for the catch. We invented our own little game had a best 2 out of 3 series. What a blast! I thoroughly enjoyed myself. We laughed hard and made fools of ourselves for about an hour, but it felt like only minutes has passed. The focus was not on the exercise but we were getting some nonetheless. It was a great start to the weekend.

Just Say I Do

Friday evening I had the pleasure of witnessing some dear friends of mine “tie the knot.” It was a great wedding and the entire evening was filled with more laughter, moments of intimacy, and a real sense of what is important in life. Family, friends and time spent connecting and celebrating with those that are important to us. While the numbers fell as the evening progressed there were several of us who kept the party going. We were further rewarded when we were able to be a part of some even more special moments during the after party at a local pub, and the late-late night or early-early morning breakfast at a local diner. Highlights included the father of the bride showing up at the pub unannounced to fanfare, and who will ever forget the spontaneous applause in the jam packed diner when the bride arrived in her stunning dress. Unforgettable!

Horse-Play

Sunday brought moments of joy that any parent can relate too. As my daughter and I drove out to the ranch to meet the horses and the awesome family who lives there, I could sense her anxiety. Understandably, meeting new people at the best of times is can be awkward and stressful. Throw in the circumstances by which our two families have met (my swimming pool ad), and finally the apprehension about perhaps sitting on or riding a horse for the first time and you have a potpourri of emotions tugging in all directions.

Our hostess did a fantastic job of easing my daughter into the process. She started with introducing the horse, explaining a little bit of his history, then moved into the grooming of “Spider”. Together they cleaned the coat, the hooves, and saddled the horse with a focus on safety, both for the horse and the rider. Next, sitting on the horse, feeling Spider’s movements and tendencies, being lead on the horse with myself and another on either side of the horse, and then finally actually riding, steering, starting stopping and instructing the horse on her own. I was completely amazed in the transition. What I witnessed was a microcosm of how gaining confidence works. Her demeanour from beginning to end was truly night and day to see as an outsider. By the time she was done, she was beaming, sitting tall with confidence and looking each of us in the eye just a little bit more.

Leave it to a twelve year old to reiterate to me what continues to need being reiterated. When we come upon a challenge in life we have two choices, the safe easy way or the challenging, sometimes stressful path that is inevitably more rewarding. She reminded me that I have been doing that myself! When I say to her “you must be so proud of yourself for putting yourself out there,” it reminds me that I too should be proud. I am proud. I can only hope that along the way I will try to continue to take the next step in putting myself out there. With that, there will continue to be substantial rewards and endless learning.

Last night our weekend wound down surrounded by family and extended family enjoying a meal together. A fitting end to a weekend for the soul. A glass of wine, a cold beer, some great conversation and the sound of kids giggling in the background.

It really doesn’t get much better as far as weekends go. I need to remember that it didn’t take a flight, a reservation, or a new gadget to bring the contented feeling that this weekend brought. There is no reason why I can’t do it again next weekend.

Actually, there is no reason that I can’t find a way to do it today, right now.

Peace,

Leslie

May 19, 2011

Enough Wise Ideas

The Execut(ion)er

I’m a great starter. It’s always been one of my strengths to come up with big ideas. I do great research, I plan well, I create custom forms of tracking and accountability and then I get at it. Occasionally this gets me into trouble.  After the high of all the strategy and planning wears off, I am left with delivery. Execution. Monotony.

It is clear to me today that this is a short sited view when I quickly forget why I had the big idea to begin with. There was something I wanted to manifest in my life, some goal I wanted to reach, or some problem I want to solve. Without the execution of the plan true MEfurbishment will never happen. This is the insight I had when I was meditation this morning.

Happy Life

I have had lots of ideas and lots of plans lately and I want to make sure I take stock of my progress but also remember where I am heading with all of this. I want to MEfurbish my life. My buckets are clear and my plans are made. That is not to say that this are rigid or unchangeable but rather that I must not allow myself to become distracted. I am aiming for good health, good relationships, and a happy life.

All this is to say that the tone of is moving out of an ideas phase and into an action phase and this is what I will continue to share with you in the weeks ahead. To that end I have added a new widget to my sidebar that shows my weight loss to since I started tracking my food and exercise on myfitnesspal.com

I have a lot to do to move the needle in this and my other buckets before I get back to ideas.

Wish me luck!

Peace,

Leslie

May 18, 2011

MEbucket Is Full

20/20 As They Say

It’s funny how the passage of time or some new insight can totally shift your perception on something. I was spending some time this morning reflecting on MEbucket’s and looking too see where I need to take some action. I began by going through my list of bucket items to see where I have not taken any action recently and an interesting fact came to light.

When I placed my ad on Kijiji at the beginning of the month, there was no doubt in my mind what bucket I was trying to take action in – Health. It is really interesting to me that now in hindsight; I can see how this action is having an impact in the area of every one of my MEbucket’s. Here’s my breakdown.

Health

This one is pretty obvious and was my original intention. The most basic goal here is to get some activity. In my struggles with my weight, most recently I have found it hard to find exercise that I can actually do. Finding access to a pool that I can use will be easier on my joints and as a result, I will be able to sustain it. It’s also something that I love and miss doing. To be excited about exercise is something that I know will only benefit me in the long run.

Finances

Money talks, and since I don’t have any, there hasn’t been a lot of talking going on lately in this area. With my current financial situation, it was imperative that I look for a means of exercise that was cost effective. What could be more cost effective than free! My willingness to do some manual labour in return for access to a pool is my means of “payment.” The other less tangible thought I have is that my overall health and level of fitness are both likely to have a positive impact on my ability to generate income in the future. So this saves me money now, and makes me money in the future. I like that!

Creativity

I have received many many emails, comments, well wishes, and shows of support since my CBC Interview was broadcast on May 17th. Without a doubt the word used most to describe the steps I took to prioritize my exercise by placing an ad to do manual labour in exchange for pool access was “creative.” I would never have really looked at it that way unless others told me it was the case, but now I can see it clear as day. I guess desperation is a real springboard towards creativity.

Environment

The impact to the environment is a little more subtle than some of the other more apparent buckets nut it is there, in the nuances.  There are many times that I end up using my car in a situation where I would certainly be able to use a bike or my legs if I was in better shape. Running errands locally, doing fun things with my daughter and a variety of other things that I typically use my car for could be done without the vehicle.  Wear and tear on my clothes, the amount of packaging I end up using, and even the frequency of my trips to the doctor are all impacted by my size.

Community

This one is a no-brainer. The community has just opened up in front of my eyes as a result of this situation. I am getting so much support from the community it is mind blowing. Even more, I am going to be meeting some members of the community as I get out there and start to use their pool. The interview on CBC was a direct and extreme form of conversation with the community and the connections I have made are priceless.

Fun

This may be the most exciting bucket that is going to be filled by my reaching out. The idea of swimming frequently has been something that I have carried around with me for some time. When I was younger I was a fish! We had a pool in our backyard when I was in elementary school and I missed it ever since.  I am so pumped about getting an opportunity to get into the water and get my heart pumping.

Relationships

I will be forging new relationships and making the ones I have stronger. I have already met several new folks and plan to me meeting more over the next few days and beyond. Exercising, getting in better shape, and spending time discussing this project with friends and family are already having an impact.

I know I have made a great decision for my overall happiness when I can look back and see that every bucket I have is filling up. Something tells me that I may even start to overflow in a bucket or two and really, can I ask for anything more than that?

Isn’t life grand?

Peace,

Leslie

April 26, 2011

Right Back At It

Four Day Week!

It was a busy Easter weekend, and while it was great, and it was nice to spend some extra time with family and friends, I am glad that it’s over. In my journey of MEfurbishment, one of the most important things I have going for me are my routines. Much has been said and written about the routines of children over the years. I have come to believe that routines are equally important to adults too but certainly they are to me.

My level of awareness, regarding what contributes to stress and what alleviates it in me, has grown considerably over the past year. While I absolutely love holidays and special events, they also add more stress in my life because of their impact on my routines. Routine becomes a stress reducer in many ways because of its familiarity but also because it ensures that I am getting what I need to be happy and healthy. As long as my routine is set up with my MEbucket’s in mind, there is a dramatically positive impact on my happiness and well-being.

Our routines ensure that we have a balance of all of the buckets that we want to work on in our lives. Changes to these routines can sometimes swing a pendulum too far in the direction of one particular area. For example, I can very easily put all of my focus on family and friends and take time away from things like health, finances and creative endeavours. Coming out of a holiday weekend I can often feel like I have spent too much money and really need time to myself. In recent months I am also discovering that when I don’t prioritize my creative endeavours I really notice a difference in my energy and contentedness.

Going into this long weekend, I took a look at each of my buckets and decided how I would ensure I maintained the balance that I need in my life. Let’s have a look at how I did:

Health

Going into Easter weekend I wanted to focus on two major things to ensure that I was prioritizing my health bucket.  I wanted to make certain that I kept up my meditation practice during the weekend. This is something that I can easily let slip on a long weekend and I really notice the difference in my level of grounded-ness when I meditate. The other key ingredient was healthful food choices. I managed to make both of these happen despite a visit from the Easter Bunny.

Finances

My tendency is to spend too much money at holiday times and I wanted to make sure this was not the case this Easter. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the holiday event itself where I regret my spending but in the other things I write off in holiday weekend cash dumps. Going out for meals, additional un-needed shopping sprees, and a desire to fill up my long weekend with additional events like, movies, concerts, museums and the like are all things that have derailed me in the past. This Easter weekend I was able to keep my spending in check which is a great feeling coming into the start of the week.

Creativity

Normally the first thing to go during a busy holiday weekend, creativity was something that I was really focused on making sure it still had its place. A couple of things helped me out in that area. I wanted to make a new and exciting Vegan Easter feast, this being my first Vegan Easter. Cooking is always a creative experience for me because I rarely use a recipe as it is written. I will often use a recipe as a base and experiment with it until it is perfect for the MEkitchen.  I ended up with a delicious Carrot Coconut Bisque and a hearty Mushroom Quinoa Loaf. Next was time spent writing and taking pictures of my gastronomic fun to share on MEfurbish. The photography aspect of the recipe posts really got my creative juices flowing. I have missed photography and while I would not call the quick point and shoot stuff I did this weekend very creative, it really got me thinking about what I could do with recipes and photography in the future. I am really looking forward to working on this more in the months ahead.

Environment

There were a few ways that I made the environment a focus this weekend. With all its busyness it would have been easy to just pick up something like Tofurky instead of spending the time preparing my own meal, especially with the fact that I am the only vegan in my home. Taking the time to pick up bulk, and mostly local ingredients, saved on packaging and travel and making a large batch of food will save on energy costs in the upcoming few weeks as I enjoy leftovers. Another way in which I expanded on the environment bucket was to attend a local EcoExpo here in my home town of Ottawa. Any time I can educate myself and make new contacts I am making progress here.

Community

Community is something that was fostered by the EcoExpo I was at as well. The ‘Green”  community as well the Vegan community both had a presence at the Expo and networking with these individuals and gaining awareness about the industry as a whole is helpful.  I also made a decision to attend a function of another community organization I belong too instead of one of the family events that I have taken part in every year since my childhood. The event I let go of  does not feed me in the same way as the function I chose. It was a hard decision to make, but one that I am glad I made in the end for my own peace of mind.

Fun

This was an easy one for me to work on. Spending time with family and friends, buying treats and gifts for my daughter, cooking, listening to tons of music, and spending lots of time writing are all things that I find fun. I was able to easily work these and more into the four days of the weekend.

Relationships

Like fun, relationships are easy one for me to focus on within a holiday weekend. Spending time with family and friends works on these relationships by default. In looking for opportunities to take special action in working on key relationships I made a concerted effort to spend time with some of them that have taken a back seat lately. One area that may seem trivial but that was important to me was taking the time to send a few emails that I haven’t made the time to do recently. Out of all of the steps I took this weekend, this simple one, may have had the greatest impact on my mood, and serenity. Clearly, it was something that was taking up too much space in my head.

Even with all the work on keeping things balanced, things just seem to go smoother when the day to day routines kick back in. Spontaneity and routine used to seem like polar opposites to me, but what I have found is that my routines allow me to be spontaneous without feeling like I am taking away from something else. This is a big shift and an enjoyable one.

Peace,

Leslie

April 14, 2011

Just Because

You Rock!

Taking stock of the status of each of the MEbucket’s today it’s clear to me that there is a bucket that I am not putting as much work into as others, that being relationships. I am going to keep this post today simple. As simple as it is to honour an important relationship.

Today, I am going to go out of my way to show someone how much I appreciate them.  I am going to do this selflessly. The funny thing about these things is that they always have a bigger impact on the giver.

Peace,

Leslie

April 6, 2011

Phase I Operation Morning Run, Complete!

What a Nag

I am a single dad of an “almost twelve” year old daughter that I adore. As is the case with many kids her age she has started lose her ability to spring out of bed in the morning raring to go out and tackle the day ahead. Join the club. Couple this with her wondrous ability to find joy in examining the lint in her navel and her tendency to turn her morning into a stop-motion animation audition, the result is not pretty. Earlier in the school year I found myself pulling out my few remaining hairs each morning telling her to hurry up; telling her not to forget this or that, stressing myself out to make sure that she was getting to school on time with everything complete. Nagging.

Not Black and White

What exactly was this teaching her? Well, that mornings are horrible of course. That she doesn’t have to think for herself, she can just do her thing and when she falls behind someone will be there to get her unstuck so she doesn’t have to think for herself. I can hear other parent readers everywhere saying, “It’s your job as her Dad to be there for her, and to show her that you will always be there for her.” Yes and no. Like everything in life, it is not that black and white.

I hope she knows that I will always be there for her, that I will always put her first and I am there to give her a hug when she falls. It’s the getting up part that I am talking about today; me picking her up setting her back on her feet, dusting her off and getting her back on track vs. her learning to do it for herself. During one of those crazy mornings back in the fall after dropping her off at school, late, with tear stained eyes and a lot of resentment I decided to actually reflect on how I wanted to approach this situation. How to stop re-acting and start pro-acting.

What’s the plan Stan?

First, I decided what my priorities were. To teach her to enjoy her life, honour her commitments, prioritize her day and love herself is what came to mind. To do this in a way that re-enforces how much I love her is also critical; as well as show her that I will always be here for her.

Next a game plan was developed with these priorities in mind. How would I accomplish all of the above? I wanted to not just get her to school on time every day of my own accord so that I could feel better about myself and avoid some kind of perceived (or actual for that matter) judgement. I decided I needed to be willing to let her fall and learn to work through the consequences of that so she could make a decision on her own to want her mornings to run smoother.

I contacted her teacher to let her know about my daughter’s struggles to get to school on time and that I was going to take a different approach. She was very receptive to the feedback and the plan of action. Then I spoke to my daughter and let her know that I was going to stop nagging at her in the morning to hurry up and to get this done and that done. She was also pretty receptive, at the time I am sure mostly focused on the fact that I would no longer be “bugging” her.

I Have Fallen But I CAN Get-Up!

The next few weeks were a trial and error for her and result was that she was late much more frequently for a short period of time. I was not concerned because I had shared the plan with the teacher. If she asked me questions about how she could arrange her morning, or was looking for advice, I would support her and answer her questions but I did not “offer” advice without being asked and though I had to bite my tongue very frequently, on most mornings I did not utter a peep about hurrying up or what time it was.

The first morning that “I can’t believe I am late again” came out of her mouth, I had to hold back a little smile. Gradually she was able to motivate and organize herself enough to start getting to school on time with consistency. The proof is in the pudding. The teacher actually commented on her report card that she “had done a great job of dealing with her lateness issue in the second half of the term!”

Mission complete! Or so I thought…the universe decided there was more for both of us to learn on this subject. You can read about that in Phase II Operation Morning Run, Complete.

Peace,

Leslie