helping our young adults live in fullness

helping our young adults live in fullness

This morning another full moon filled our skies— at 1 am MST to be precise. Some of the full moons in 2024 are named Wolf Moon, Hunter’s Moon, and Cold Moon… but this one is named Worm Moon… not exactly an inspiring name, if you ask me, but perfect for the topic of this post.

My oldest son is nineteen, not a child, not yet a man, and he’s dealing with challenges. What concerns me most lately are the types of thoughts that worm their way into his mind. Thoughts where he discounts himself, tells himself he should be more, do more, without giving himself credit for what he’s accomplished.

For years, he poured his heart and soul into musical aspirations with his band which recently lost an important member… causing my son to lose a lot of his inspiration and juice. All of the socializing after the shows takes a toll on him, too, and he’s in a place where he’s wondering if music is really what he wants to do after all. He said it like he’s boxed into a corner and doesn’t have other options. And I looked at him and said, “You’re nineteen. You’re young! Let your mind work for you, not against you. If you want to try something else, do it and see where it takes you.”

He has mad skills on the guitar and would go far if he’s willing to put energy into it. But right now I’m not sure what he’s going to do. In fact, he quit the band last night. It was tough but sometimes you have to quit what you know isn’t right before you’re able to feel your way into the next right thing. It’s scary. But there are no guarantees. This is life. So he’ll continue to take a few classes and figure out the next right thing.

He told me he wanted to be significant. I said, “You are significant, just by being here.” He said, “Well, that’s a new way of looking at it.”

Our society does place a lot of our worth in what we accomplish, and accomplishing our goals does build self-esteem. But accomplishments don’t make us more or less valuable. They do put us in a better position to thrive.

And he’s accomplished a lot already in music yet battles with not feeling good enough. What does he need to accomplish to feel good enough? It’s an elusive end goal and probably can’t be reached unless he gives himself credit for what he’s accomplished already and is at peace with who he is now. It’s like he’s caught between thinking, “I’m too invested to start over with something new” and “I’m not good enough to make it in music.” Well, yeah, I’d feel shitty, too, stuck between those two thoughts.

We’ll see what the future holds. I just want to see him pursue his path but not from a place of striving. Instead, from a place of thriving.

It can be unnerving having kids. Seeing them struggle. Witnessing their self-doubt. Touching base with the self-doubt you’ve experienced in your own life and grew from, too. Knowing it’s impossible to transfer your years of growth in this area to your child.
You can relay nuggets of truth. You can be an example. But you can’t walk the path for them. They must come into their fullness on their own.

The other night, while driving, I was filled with angst over my son’s turmoil. But straight ahead, through the windshield what appeared to be a full moon blazed above in the night sky. Apparently, not quite as full as this morning’s moon, but full and bright to my common eye… and immediately, within my angst, I was moved by the moon’s beauty and felt a connectedness and appreciation for having more time to practice coming into fullness, just like that moon. And another day to be here for my son as he practices coming into his fullness, too.

The most important element I took away from this article is this: from now on, when I talk to my nineteen-year-old, I’ll ask him, “What would you like to see happen next?”

This is important because I’m realizing more and more, I can’t control the outcome of my son’s life. Only he can do that. What I can do is listen and then ask the question, which puts the next step back into his court and helps him visualize what he would like to see happen. Sometimes things fall into place. Sometimes they don’t. Here are the main tips from the article and you can click the link to read more detail.

How to Help Your Young Adult When They’re Struggling

1. This is normal.

In his book, Emptying the Nest: Launching Your Young Adult Toward Success and Self-Reliance, Dr. Brad Sachs states, “No amount of education, care or effort is going to inoculate you or your young adult against disappointment and disillusionment, challenge and complexity.”

2. Don’t freak out.

If you freak out, your young adult is more likely to freak out.

3. Don’t catastrophize.

Predicting the worst is never helpful. There’s a good chance your young adult will get through it okay when they’ve experienced a set back. (I personally translate this to FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT not what you don’t want.)

4. Let your spouse or grandma take the call once in awhile. (This one makes a smile… we all need a break sometimes.)

5. Ask questions like, “How can I help?” or “What would you like to see happen next?”

6. Remind yourself: their future is not in your hands.

7. Don’t take it personally if they curse at you.

8. But, do consider it could be about you.

9. Offer reasonable support.

10. Consider if the issue with your young adult is related to substance abuse or mental illness.

For mental health issues, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a good parent resource.

11. Realize you cannot fix everything.

“In education, they have a term, scaffolding, which means supporting kids just enough to get them to where they can learn or do the next thing on their own.”

12. Young adulthood can be a challenging time of life. Most young adults will be fine.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

the barbie nominations debate

the barbie nominations debate

It’s hard to miss the controversy surrounding the Oscar nominations this year in regard to the movie, Barbie. Or should I say lack of nominations for lead actress Margo Robbie and director Greta Gerwig.

Like many others, I was pissed when I heard the news. How is it the lead actress and director don’t receive nominations, yet the movie is nominated for best picture? Barbie was the highest grossing film in 2023, earning over $1.4 billion at the box office, and, no, that doesn’t guarantee an Oscar, but it does say something about its appeal.

I think I speak for most us that we’re happy to see America Ferrera receive her first nomination for best supporting actress and Ryan Gosling best supporting actor… yet, the sting remains… how the lead actress doesn’t receive a nomination as Barbie in the movie Barbie, and neither does the woman director. A movie about the Patriarchy ruling the world seems to carry its very theme into this year’s nominations.

I read up on it, expecting to find articles in line with my thoughts on the issue, but, for the most part, that was not the case. I was encouraged to take a step back and look at it through a larger lens.

To make it a quick read, I highlighted my main takeaways from each article and posted them below. If you want to read the article itself, just click on NPR, PBS or The Hollywood Reporter.

My personal rebuttal to Ann Hornaday’s comments is, “Greta Gerwig’s movie may not be auteurist, but it is rigorous and ambitious work. And, yes, Poor Things is a comedy that made the cut, but it is directed by a man.  (I plan to watch it soon.)

 

 If you want to check out this additional Hollywood Reporter article, click here. It combines articles from The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Slate, and others on the topic. Be prepared, some of it is snarky and of the opinion Barbie is lucky to receive attention at all. Other bits of the article make good points, and it’s worth a read if you want more coverage on the topic.

Margo Robbie is delighted about the amount of attention the movie is receiving, and if you’d like to read the Vanity Fair article, where she is interviewed on the topic, click here!

The 96th Oscars are coming up! The program airs live on ABC coast to coast this Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood in a new earlier time slot (7-10:30 p.m. ET/4-7:30 p.m. PT), with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host for a fourth time.

 

Photo Illustration Courtesy of Warner Bros.

connect with your cause

connect with your cause

I’m a really private person. Yes, I like to talk with others, but it usually depends on the day, topic, relationship I have with the other person, etc. When I stop and think about it, I’m more reserved than I thought I’d be as an adult, considering I minored in Theatre Arts and played music in a live band in my twenties.

But I’ve also come from a background where rigid beliefs were held by my family and passed down, most of them rejected by me at an early age. Yet, I felt a sense of shame for rejecting those beliefs which transformed into an outward defiance from assuming I wouldn’t be accepted by those around me. After all, my family isn’t accepting me for who I am, so why should I assume others will?

I no longer think or feel this way. I stand in my truth and validate myself. And I hope to do the same for others. But I think partly what makes it difficult for me to want to give myself to a cause or volunteer for an ecological organization, for example, is that people who have their causes can many times hold their own set of rigid beliefs around those causes.

I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with people who, even for the sake of a good cause, think it’s their way or the highway.

Can we connect with causes (such as recycling, sustainable farming, etc.), that ignite us, while trusting we’ll be given space to be ourselves, not a cookie cutter version of other people passionate about the same cause? I think I’m entering a phase of life where I’m ready to give more of myself while being myself. I’m no longer afraid if someone validates any of my beliefs because, more than ever, I’ve learned to validate myself, while remaining open to hearing other points of view.

Just because we connect with like-minded people on our causes doesn’t mean we have to be identical in every belief, even within that cause. What are we so afraid of? As long as we’re promoting healing and well-being for our planet, that’s the important thing.

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, it seems there are so many causes in need of our attention. Where to start?

By taking small steps. What areas interest you? Make a list, Google them, start reading, and let the process unfold. Maybe we give an hour a week or a month. Whatever we can do… but, at least for me, the overwhelm from all the causes out there is lessened if I’m doing my little part to make the world a better place.

Cliche? Yes.

Truth? Most definitely. 

Over the course of her life, Joanna has given much thought to the moral and psychological challenges presented by nuclear weapons and energy production. If you visit her website, you’ll see the books she’s written and what she’s been involved in. What struck a cord for me is her workbook Coming Back to Life – The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects. 

This workbook is a form of group work designed to foster the desire and ability to take part in the healing of our world.

It works off the premise that,”instead of privatizing, repressing and pathologizing our pain for the world (be it fear, grief, outrage or despair), we honor it. We learn to re-frame it as suffering-with our compassion. This brings us back to life.” In other words, we’re no longer overwhelmed by what is going wrong in the world and we can do our part to change something for the better. See the image below, illustrating the cycle involved:

 

Starting with gratitude, these consecutive stages reflect a natural sequence  common to psychological growth and spiritual transformation. The Spiral is like a fractal, governing the overall structure of the workshop while also arising in its component parts. Within a given workshop, we can move through the Spiral more than once, and become aware that with every cycling through, each stage can yield new and deeper meanings.

 

Taken from Coming Back to Life – The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects, here are a few questions to think about:

If there was NOTHING to stop you, what would you do as your unique contribution to the healing of our world?

What are the resources you already have to bring this gift of yours to the world?

How would you stop sabotaging yourself from doing it? How would you overcome this?

Click here to check out Joanna’s website and click here to buy her book if it strikes a cord with you! (The link connects to goodreads.com, but, if you Google the book, you can find it other places, too.) I plan to buy the book. There are group workshops to take part in, too.

black holes (much like toxic relationships) can die

black holes (much like toxic relationships) can die

I’m fascinated by space and, in particular, black holes. When I started working with a therapist, and I talked about my relationship with my ex-love, the visual that came to mind for my therapist was a black hole. I’ve mentioned this in another post but wanted to check in on this topic again today, quite some time later after my ex-love and I have stopped speaking, and say that, yes, much like how a black hole can eventually shrink down to nothing and pop away, so can a toxic relationship, once you finally get the hell out of it. Don’t get me wrong— I love this person and always will, but the ways he viewed me influenced the ways he interacted with me and it did not help me thrive. In other words, by my estimation, he was treating me badly.

Okay, so the estimated amount of time it can take for a black hole to shrink down to nothing is an incredibly slow process. Thankfully, once we finally cut off our energy from someone who is not contributing to the relationship, it doesn’t take as long for a human connection to dissolve.

After we broke up and remained friends, I was the one expending much more energy to build the relationship while he constantly withheld energy. I see now I was wanting things to change, and that kept me in the gravitational pull of our toxicity.

My advice? Give up on change and set yourself free! You’ll find that, once you cut the cord, the pull you felt a week ago will lesson… keep going and eventually you’ll find yourself in a fresh new mental state! He used to bring that up, too, how he felt so much freer after breaking up, and, like an idiot, I just listened to that instead of saying, hey buddy, you’re contributing to how I still feel sucked into a shitty hole, it’s not just about how I was affecting you. But since he couldn’t change how he interacted with me, (basically by just being more considerate in general), I had to change my life and cut the cord.

Maybe one day we’ll be friends again, maybe not. But whatever the future holds, at least we will have finally allowed the black hole to dissolve. The future is bright and free. 

 

 

We’re talking science today! I love the black hole visual because it’s so incredibly powerful and ominous, yet learning that even a black hole can dissolve is, for me, enlightening. According to the article, “a good size black hole— say, a few times more massive than the sun— will take about 10^100 years to eventually evaporate through this process, known as Hawking Radiation.”

What is Hawking Radiation? Well, I’m glad you asked! This article explains that back in the 1970s, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking discovered through an interaction between the boundary of a black hole — known as the event horizon — and the quantum fields that make up reality, black holes can slowly evaporate.

“So they’re not entirely black,” the author tells us. “They do give off a little bit of energy, which causes them to lose mass. It’s not much since a typical black hole will emit only one particle every year, but it’s not nothing. Over time they shrink down to nothing and simply pop away in a flash of energy.”

Do it today, cut the cord in your toxic relationship, and begin to feel stronger, tuned into who you know you are, not to how someone is treating you shitty… 

Pop!

old habits die hard… or not at all

old habits die hard… or not at all

Hear ye, hear ye! One and all! This is epic what I’m about to tell you.

6 years ago, when my ex-lover and I first got together, we would have a situation where I would text him something sweet like, “have a good day,” and sometimes it would take hours before receiving a reply.

How do you think I handled it? Yup, I’d stew over it, wonder how he could be so insensitive. And so, hours later, usually, when there wasn’t a reply, I’d text him while feeling quite pissed off. I’d say something like, “Where are you? How can you not reply to my good morning? To which he’d respond something defensive or rude. Our texting patterns were an ongoing problem with us. He just seemed so insensitive.

Okay, fast forward y-e-a-r-s later, and now we’re friends who rarely text. But at least we remained friends. One day recently I woke up to a short text from him, where he asked me a question, and I answered the question then said, “hope it’s a great day!” To which, once again, I received crickets… all day.

How many thoughts do you think I had? Yup, a ton of them. Everything from even as friends he’s pulling this, to how can he be so rude, to this is the last time I’m dealing with his shit. So, by the end of the night, after I’d had time to talk to a girlfriend about it, I sent him a straight forward, non-emotional, friendly text, and I asked him if, going forward, one of us says “have a good day” the other person makes a point to say “you too” after reading the first text, and that’s the end of it. No more hurt feelings, that simple.

I wasn’t sure if he’d get mad, laugh, or think I was ridiculous. And guess what? I didn’t care. I felt that if I couldn’t be honest about how I needed us to handle that type of situation in a specific way, then we didn’t need to text at all anymore. Period.

His answer to my text: “Had a very rare mega oversleep day and read your text the second I woke up and then was off and running immediately, so it just slipped my mind you had even said that. If that happens, another text a bit later saying HEY, YOU OK? would be awesome too. Then you’d get two responses back. Hope it’s a great day on your side today!”

I was like, wow! What a nice response! I’d finally gotten to the place where I could text what I needed nicely, even though I was frustrated. And he got to the place where he could answer my request for handling the situation differently in the future nicely! No more drama! Done! And we celebrated our communication success! It was a milestone.

And then after thinking about it more I realized the patterns didn’t change at all. After 6 years of this type of thing going on, it didn’t change AT ALL. He did the same type of thing, woke up, read my text and was off and running without a quick response. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lived through this scenario with him. And it was far worse emotionally for me when we were together because I’d left my husband for him, was going through a divorce, had kids to raise and everything else, yet he’d do this type of thing and I’d feel so abandoned!

When this happened this time, I didn’t feel abandoned, just pissed and like he was insensitive. After reading his reason for not responding, I realized he was just feeling behind on his day, which happens a lot with his mindset. Being an entrepreneur definitely contributes to that. Being self-employed isn’t easy in that regard. But still, it’s a pattern in his behavior. How hard would it be to lie in his bed for ten more seconds and type a simple “you too!” Especially when it’s caused us so much angst in the past. Ten more seconds to type that would have made a difference in my day, and it’s tempting to think I’m just not important enough to him to type two little words before starting his day. The fact things like this couldn’t change along the way definitely contributed to why we are strictly friends now.

So, bottom line here peeps—all my complaining about this type of thing happening, and it happened AGAIN! But the way in which we handled it was completely different, which was great. Of course I wish it wouldn’t happen in the first place… and I realize his solution was for ME to send a follow up text asking if he’s okay rather than HIM thinking maybe next time he can just take a minute, stop reacting out of habit by immediately jumping out of bed, and send a two word text before starting his “already-behind” day.

I’ve realized “it is what it is” and “we are who we are,” and he has no intention of changing in this area and never has.

The success came in how we communicated our viewpoints nicely! I’ll take that as a definite win.

According to this article, we need four steps to change a habit for good. I will highlight the main points of the aricle and provide a link at the end so you can read it all.

Step 1. Mindfulness: being aware of the present moment

Step 2. Train your mind, train your behavior. The author gives the following example:

Situation-Thought-Feeling-Behavior

Situation – I have a meeting.

Thought – I don’t like this meeting.

Feeling – Anger, frustration, anxiety

Behavior – I go to the meeting but feel agitated and checked out the whole time. I to to the vending machine right after the meeting and get a sugary fatty snack food. Now I have a habit.

Step 3. Implement a new rewarding routine

Situation – I have a meeting.

Thought – I don’t like this meeting, but I know it’s important for me to be there.

Feeling – Ease, contentment

Behavior – I go to the meeting with an attitude of receptivity. I also make a plan to go for a walk afterward as a reward.

We change our habits by changing our routine to a new rewarding one.

4. Create a Compassionate Action Plan

Research from Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion shows that when we have a critical thought, our nervous system goes into fight/flight/freeze and from this place we can only respond from our reptilian brain (we are in survival mode). From a place of fight/flight/freeze we are unable to see the bigger picture, be creative or compassionate toward the perceived stressor. Criticism makes us feel more anxious, more depressed, and more afraid of failure.

The author of the article tells us she believes the antidote to criticism and greatest motivator is compassion.

Wow, this last step is really intriguing to me because, first of all, I’m a big believer in being compassionate with ourselves, and it took me a long time to realize my ex-lover’s choice to not send me a quick two-word text before getting out of bed is because he overslept and was already feeling behind on his day. Which means he was feeling self-critical. Instead of being compassionate with himself and me, he quickly read the text, probably feeling a bit shitty for having slept so late, and he hurried out of bed, completely forgetting he’d seen the text at all. A more compassionate response, to both him and me, would be, in my opinion, to take ten seconds for a two-word text.

To read the article, on how to change a habit, in its entirety, click here!

 

sucked dry

sucked dry

Sometimes we stay in a relationship to the point we’re sucked dry. Is it that we’re too needy or the other is too insensitive?

A recent podcast I listened to (Do You F*cking Mind podcast, episode 42, hosted by Alexis Fernandez), made the point we shouldn’t rely on our partner to have our needs met. I love this podcast, but I have to wonder about this comment. I mean, if her guy continuously walked through the door and treated her in a way in which her needs weren’t met, eventually, she’d move on.

But she makes a good point in saying the best kind of love flows from being secure within ourselves.  So it’s a mix of both— being sensitive to one another but also taking responsibility for our emotional health. It’s a tricky thing, balancing the needs of another with our own.

My ex lover rarely wanted to meet my needs. I was the one sending cards, or a letter, or a sweet note, or feeling sentimental, or asking for more tenderness, or saying I was sorry, yada, yada, yada. I can count on one hand the times he apologized to me. It really would have helped; instead he seemed to think conflicts were almost always my fault.

I was always looking for that one little action on his end that would tell me he loved me. This grew worse once we moved into a friendship. Now I see why: I made the mistake of ex sex, and that bonding, mixed with a looser commitment, resulted in even less of my needs met but more neediness. Toxic mix.

I was always looking for more tenderness, more validation in our friendship. I was the one considering his feelings, even in friendship, far more than he considered mine. Like a bone dry water well in the middle of a dried up field, I’d lower my bucket into the depths, only to pull the bucket up empty… again. No real affection or validation sent my way from him. I was always longing for more.

It’s so clear to me now, I should have left long before I did. When someone ignores your needs for that long, somehow you begin to believe it’s your fault, you’re wanting too much. Now I see I was used and he was selfish.

I’ve moved forward with my ex-husband and we’ve reconciled, which, of course, in my ex-lover’s mind, is lame, weak, needy and whatever else unhealthy. So the validation I craved from my ex-lover is never going to be there, no matter what, because now I’m with my ex-husband, the last person my ex-lover thinks I should be with. But what does he know about it? He wasn’t able to bend and meet needs in a relationship. Obviously, I reconciled because many needs are being met with my ex-husband. I know it’s not a typical solution, to reconcile with the ex-husband, but so far it’s been the right move for me.

According to this article, our core needs are non negotiable.

Successful relationships come down to basic questions about our core needs:

  • What do I need in a relationship in order to feel loved, happy, fulfilled, and secure?
  • What do you need in a relationship to feel the same?
  • Are you willing to meet my needs in this relationship?
  • Am I willing to meet yours?

Basically, this article reiterates what I’ve felt to be true! If someone is important enough to you, if you want your relationship to succeed, then you try to meet that person’s emotional needs.

It’s a quick read but a good one! Click here to read the article!

Of course we can’t expect our partner to fulfill our every emotional need. And it makes us a stronger person when we soothe ourselves instead of relying on someone else. But like everything else in life there’s got to be balance.

Read this next article written by Sheri Stritof on soothing our own needs while being mindful of our partner’s.