Saying Yes to This Moment

Can we say “Yes” to what is arising in this moment? Can we say yes to being human? Can we say “Yes” to imperfection, compassion, understanding and patience? Can we say “Yes” to what we are experiencing right now, perhaps without pushing away, avoiding or changing anything? This could be what we need in this moment. To allow what is here to be here.

Below, I offer a guided practice, Saying Yes to This Moment.

One of my favorite poets is Danna Faulds. She captures this idea of saying “Yes” to our experience in the poem Allow,

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a 
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in —
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.


Join Center For Self-Care for an upcoming event. Follow the links on the right side of the screen for our Wednesday evening Mindfulness Meditation Drop-In as well as Mindful Men Meeting the first Thursday of evening month and our fall 2018 Habit Change monthly class.

Taking Care of Ourselves

HC-picture-2There are often times I think about why am I not taking better care of myself or why am I not taking care of myself. I need to eat better, exercise more, meditate more, drink less, worry less, etc. Often this comes with self-criticism self-doubt, or judgment. When I go in this direction I don’t always have the answers or am able to change my ways or solve the problem. It’s hard to make the time. I feel pulled in a million different directions, spread thin, exhausted, and sometimes get stuck. What I do know is that when I make my care a priority, something that I need and deserve, it makes a huge difference for my well-being and the well-being of the people around me. When it comes to my care it is important for me to take the time and stop and pause, to ask questions of myself to connect or reconnect with what is most important to me and my care.

What do I need for my care?

What is between or in the way of me taking care of myself?

What do I notice when I care for myself or don’t care for myself?

By pausing and taking the time to go inward and reflect, it might give us what we need, uncover something, open our hearts and minds, it might just be the reminder or information we need to care for ourselves. I believe our care is important and deserved in whatever way works best for each of us. We can start now. We can start again and again and again. We can come back to ourselves and reconnect, making the time to be present and listen to what we need and offer ourselves care and support.


Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 9.20.19 PMCenter For Self-Care offers numerous opportunities to practice self-care with in-person and online communities. Register and participate with us today!

Visit our Podcast, YouTube Channel, and Facebook Page for more.

Are you curious about Mindfulness Meditation? Mindfulness has been defined as a way of paying attention, fully and with interest, to what is happening in the present moment, without judgment.  Mindfulness involves the practice of being aware of the present-moment experience without being preoccupied by stressors and distractions. Do you want to take time for your care and connect with others? Josh Gansky will lead us on an exploration of ways to better navigate through our busy and stress-filled lives. Self-care is at the heart of everything we do; the way we feel, think, and act.  When we care for ourselves, we can be at our best.  We can actively make our lives and other people’s lives better. Drop in anytime for these weekly sessions which include guided Mindfulness practices and discussion in a supportive group setting. Develop greater connection, inner calmness, and awareness, allowing you to be more present in your life. This class is Appropriate for all levels. Please join us to take a pause, connect, reflect, and make time for your care.
Location:
Upper Merion Community Center
431 West Valley Forge Road
King of Prussia, PA 19406
610-265-1071 


What Brings You Here?

logo.pngThe practice of mindfulness asks us to notice and allow. Each moment is an opportunity to notice what’s here, allowing it to be here without changing anything, pushing away or avoiding. It is important because it can help us to see what is really here.  Things will change, emotions will come and go, but when we step back, we open space to identify what is important to us and what we need for our own care.

In our last Mindful Dads Meeting, I offered three questions:

  • What brings you here?
  • What do you need for your care?
  • What is your intention?

You don’t need to be sitting with a group to reflect on these questions. You might even try it out now:

This post is the sixth in a series that offers teachings to support a mindful practice and lifestyle. They are based on gatherings of Mindful Dads Meeting but offer universal wisdom suitable for anyone.


landscape-1445637858-1444139506-meditating.jpgThe best time to meditate? Now! if this very second won’t do, we can support you in your practice. We are online every Sunday at 9pm and Tuesday at 8:30pm at www.center4selfcare.com/meditate4selfcare. In the coming weeks, we have mens fire circles and dads groups suitable for all experience levels.


Suffering = Pain * Resistance

77645358.jpgThere are so many motivations that bring us to mindful practice. We may be stuck in regrets of the past or fearful of challenges in the future. Oftentimes, our attempt to control our circumstances leaves us worse for the wear. When we hold on too tight, we get rope burn.

The formula above reminds us that we can feel pain, unpleasant and negative emotions, but still experience joy and contentment. It is only when we resist and react that the pain is literally multiplied into suffering. We can incline ourselves towards joy by allowing for our emotions, holding them lightly and letting them come and go on their own time.

As we discussed in our group, I offered two conditions for joy. It’s as simple as when

  • people pay attention to us
  • we receive a message that says, “I’m here for you and I care about you”

Interestingly, we can often these gifts to ourselves through self-compassion and self-care. We can bring our attention inward and treat ourselves with love and forgiveness. In the practice below, we use an awareness of the body to find meaning and purpose in our experience.

What Happens When You Can’t Figure It Out?

In our last gathering, we explored What Happens When You Can’t Figure Out The Answer? Human beings, and often men in particular, have a tendency to try to solve, fix, and resolve issues and challenges so they “go away.” We want to get it out of there. This is natural. Our natural instinct is to preserve our safety and our security. So we become doers, we become fixers. And these acts become our identity.

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.”

– Wendell Barry

This post is the fifth in a series that offers teachings to support a mindful practice and lifestyle. They are based on gatherings of Mindful Dads Meeting but offer universal wisdom suitable for anyone.

So what happens when we can’t figure it out? We may worry that our identity is tarnished. We scramble. We blame. We argue. We withdraw. Sometimes we ask for help, but we have received thousands of cultural messages that asking for help represents weakness. Feelings of inadequacy and failure to live up to expectations arise. What to do?

field.jpgWith mindful practice, we sit with the emotions of uncertainty and doubt. We can open ourselves to patient waiting and letting go of outcomes. We can ask the questions differently – “Isn’t it interesting that I don’t know what to do next? What do I really need in this moment?

And we can also bring self-care and self-compassion. We recognize that we aren’t the only ones who have ever experienced this. Enjoy the guided practice below that reminds us of our shared humanity and our ability for self-soothing:


Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 9.20.19 PMPlease join Center For Self-Care every Sunday at 9pm or Tuesday evening at 8:30pm for Meditate4SelfCare. Simply login through this link. Open to men and women.

We also meet in person for Mindful Dads Meeting this Wednesday, April 11 at 8pm and every 2nd Wednesday of the month. Click here to sign up and join us.

 

The Space Between How Things Are And How We Want Them To Be

A lecturer walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

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She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”


This post is the third in a series that offers teachings to support a mindful practice and lifestyle. They are based on gatherings of Mindful Dads Meeting but offer universal wisdom suitable for anyone.

black-and-white-draw-drawing-expectation-Favim.com-1617878Stress can be defined as the space between our expectations and our reality. Our instinct when we see this space is to try make it go away. Somehow fill in the space with overwork, micromanagement or distraction. It may be that we already feel the walls closing in around us or that there is a gaping chasm between us and feeling free. But in reality, this space is small. It is a space of hyper focus and hyper vigilance. Either/or thinking, doubt, judgment, insecurity, anxiety and worry. We have a great opportunity to nourish this unpleasant place by stopping, experiencing and allowing.

The first step is to notice. To check in with yourself as you become quiet. What is here in this moment and can I be with it? What is really here? You might try the following practice to arrive at this state:

The space between how things are and how we want them to me gets filled in with messages of doubt and self-criticism. Things like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m a bad parent/partner/child.” This wanting things to be different is a natural result of our mis(perceptions), expectations, preferences, perspectives, standards and assumptions. When we get stuck in this space, we can create disconnection from ourselves and others.

Christopher Germer, the author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion writes,

“when bad things happen to us, we tend to have three unfortunate reactions: self-criticism, self-isolation, and self-absorption. Why do we react like this? I look at it this way, the instinctive response to danger – the stress response – consists of fight, flight or freeze. These three strategies help us survive physically, but when they are applied to our mental and emotional functioning, we get into trouble. When there’s no enemy to defend against, we turn on ourselves. “Fight” becomes self-criticism, “flight” becomes self-isolation, and “freeze” becomes self-absorption, getting locked into our own thoughts.”

stress-750x517.jpgThere are several conclusions to be drawn from this passage. First, our habitual reactions are normal. Humans have evolved to escape physical threats. It wasn’t until the last several hundred years that our ability to tame and eliminate most physical threats made the stress response less adaptive. Second, by recognizing that we are in this mode, we give ourselves a choice to respond thoughtfully instead of react out of habit. When we pay attention to our stress and the habits, patterns and triggers that make up our responses, we open a space for a choice based on awareness. Most of our modern threats are emotional and psychological so this space is important.

Germer’s colleague, Kristin Neff writes, “We give ourselves compassion not to feel better, but because we feel bad.” This shift from cure to care allows our natural gentleness and compassion to emerge slowly. Self-compassion consists of three elements as described by Neff in the video below:

  • Self-Kindness – Providing yourself with the compassion and self-soothing you deserve
  • Common Humanity – The understanding that you are not alone in your suffering, that it is part of the human experience
  • Mindfulness – An awareness of what is actually happening in your lived experience.

It is rewarding to find someone you like, but it is essential to like yourself. It is quickening to recognize that someone is a good and decent human being, but it is indispensable to view yourself as acceptable. It is a delight to discover people who are worthy of respect and admiration and love, but it is vital to believe yourself deserving of these things.” – Jo Coudert

We closed our evening with a self-compassion meditation based on Neff’s work that brings the three elements of self-compassion into focus. As we imagined a difficulty or challenge in our life, we offered the following wishes:

  • I am (struggling, suffering, stressed) right now and that is ok.
  • We all (struggle, suffer, feel stress).
  • May I be kind to myself. May I offer myself the compassion that I need.

Try it for yourself below and check out our upcoming events including Mindful Dads Meeting and our April co-ed full-day retreat.


Marc and I are passionate about self-compassion and its promise of self-care and kindness that then extends to all around you. Below is the most downloaded episode of our podcast followed by additional articles that you mind enjoy.


The Art of Self-Compassion Part 1: A Personal Reflection

The Art of Self-Compassion Part 2: Meeting The Critic

Secure Your Own Mask First

Coming Back To Ourselves

“I think we learn the most from imperfect relationships, things like forgiveness and compassion.”  -Andrea Thompson


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All relationships are imperfect, including the relationships we have with ourselves. Can we cut ourselves some slack? Give ourselves a break? Or at times, get out of our own way to enjoy the moment, allow ourselves to be open to the moment, let our guard down, resist a little less, not hold on so tight or fight so much.  Can we pause, release the grip, and breathe, so we can see what is right in front of us? Can we forgive ourselves and accept our imperfections and can we be a little kinder and nicer to ourselves?  This is our shared experience as human beings.  The struggle, the pain, the suffering, the joy, the happiness, the forgiveness, and the compassion and kindness. We experience it all and we deserve to be ourselves and the only thing we have to be is who we already are.

Compassion and Forgiveness are critical qualities to cultivate on a path to mindfulness. We have shared our favorite writings and audio below. Stay tuned for more including self-compassion in the coming days.

Accepting My Need To Be A Perfect Parent Fierce Self-Compassion: Meeting The Critic Talk and Guided Practice
The Most Important Job Forgiveness Guided Practice

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We have a great lineup of offerings coming in early 2018. They include:

Mindful Dads Meeting – Every 2nd Wednesday inc. 1/10
Men Sitting By A Fire – Various Mondays inc. 1/22
Mindful Tools For Stress Management for Men
5 weeks beginning February 21
Full Day Mindfulness Retreat – 4/8

Accepting My Need to Be A Perfect Parent

Our thoughts and images of what an ideal parent should be can get in the way of just being the best we can be in any given moment.

There’s a common misperception that practicing mindfulness imposes another idealized picture of what our lives as parents or lovers or close friends or leaders at work should be: Always calm, always in control, and always knowing what to do, like a stereotype from an old TV show. We can’t help but fall short of this idealized vision. Recognizing that view itself is something to notice, and then we can practice setting it aside.

Our relationships, our career, the way our kids turn out—these rarely match the pictures in our minds.

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Mark Bertin, MD

This is an excerpt from “Let Go of Being the Ideal Role Model,” by Mark Bertin from the July 21, 2016 issue of Mindful Magazine. Reading this couldn’t have come at a better time.  It connected with how I had been feeling and thinking about myself as a parent.

My friend Patti once said to me, “You are only as happy as your most unhappy child.” What an important reminder that parenting is difficult, exhausting, and stressful and it also brings me the greatest joy.

Not long ago, I had been going through a difficult time worrying about my son and blaming myself for his struggles and difficulties.  Since I began practicing Mindfulness, I have focused a lot of time on the practice of allowing myself to be imperfect toward myself, but until I had a conversation with another friend, Kenny, I did not realize the unrealistic expectations that I was putting on myself as a parent. I was not aware that I was placing unrealistic expectation of perfection on myself.  

I guess I should have known better since this is something I have been doing my entire life. It makes sense that these feelings would enter this part of my life. Of course what followed was judgment, self-criticism, and meanness toward myself. I had been expecting myself to be that perfect parent based upon the expectations that I had put upon myself and blaming myself for my childrens’ struggles and hardships.  

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The blaming I had been doing was based upon my negative perceptions of how my actions have hurt my son, as well as the fears and worries I have for him.  I want him to be happy and have good friends.  I don’t want anything that I could have done to damage this. Kenny also shared, “No matter what we do for our kids and teach them, there are going to be things out of our control and they are going to be who they are.”  I struggle with this, too, putting my expectations on my kids and when they don’t act the way I think they should, it is a real struggle and causes me a lot of stress.  

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When I really look inward I am able to see a lot of this comes from my feelings of fear and worry.  It is really hard to see my kids struggle and be in pain. 

I have misperceptions about what is happening right in front of me when it comes to them or worries about what might happen in the future. I begin to create stories about what is happening based upon my expectations of outcome.  My highlight reel of worry and fear sets in with me doing the play by play, which piles on more worry and fear.  

So, what do I do with these feelings?  I become aware of what is really here in each moment, whether it is my story, fear, worry, etc. By taking time to pause and see what is here I am reminded of what is most important and remind myself of my intentions of patience, compassion, understanding, and acceptance.   This practice is about and/both.  So often we see things as all or nothing and either/or.  Instead we can experience the pain or worry and give ourselves the care, patience, and compassion that we need.  We don’t have to push it away.  We allow our feelings to be here and  we give ourselves the support right along side of it. When I am feeling the struggle, pain, fear, I can give myself the patience, compassion, understanding, and acceptance. They are right alongside of it. It is in these times I need it most.  I can make a choice to offer this to myself in those times of struggle. The practice below from my colleague Marc Balcer is one way to work with this.

I mess up often as a parent and I am learning to accept that there is no right or wrong way to do it. I am trying to give myself more of a break and cut myself some slack.  I am constantly modeling imperfection and letting my kids know it is okay to be imperfect. Patti also shared, “A good friend told me years ago that our children will take our lead.  No truer words, or so I’ve found. I’ve tried to live by this as a parent.I know that I give my kids all the love I have, tell them as often as I can how much I care and love them, set limits, and remind myself and them that no one is perfect. I will always be there for them no matter what.  


meditationLooking for an opportunity to learn and practice together? Join us for Mindful Men Meeting on Wednesday, November 8 or for an extended gathering, check out Big Questions for Mindful Living: A Half-Day Retreat for Men on the morning of Saturday, December 2.

 

Becoming Aware

The quieter you become, the more you can hear. – Ram Dass

This post is the first in a series that will offer teachings to support a mindful practice and lifestyle. They are based on gatherings of Mindful Dads Meetings each month but offer universal wisdom suitable for anyone.

Self-care-for-support-people.pngThe key to this practice is self-care. With mindfulness practice and meditation, we make time for ourselves. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you bring an intention and a curiosity. It is a big deal to make time for yourself because there are so many other demands on your time. Our culture seeks to keep you in a trance, consuming and doing, but never being. So time is a gift. We spend plenty of time trying to build a work-life balance that we often neglect the self. With just a bit of practice, one breath, one minute or more, we build our focus and attention and then bring this quality to our daily experience.

Six Words of Advice by Tilopa

Let go of what has passed.
Let go of what may come.
Let go of what is happening now.
Don’t try to figure anything out.
Don’t try to make anything happen.
Relax, right now, and rest.

Our first gathering of Mindful Dads Meeting emphasized the following qualities:

  • Experiencing New Possibilities (Community)
  • Discovering Embodiment (Back to the body)
  • Cultivating Observation (Noticing/Aware of Inner Experience)
  • Moving Toward Acceptance (Non-Judgment/We each have our own experience)
  • Growing Compassion (Care)

Recognizing the challenges of being human are abundant, we will never be able to eliminate stress, empty our minds, or complete our to-do list. This is normal and human. We are built to feel struggle, pain and suffering along with joy, happiness and excitement. But when we stop trying to fix things and instead change our relationship to these inevitable stressors, we open a space in our heart and mind to respond thoughtfully instead of react habitually. We give ourselves more choices as opposed to continuing through life on autopilot.stimulus-response_1

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl

Mindfulness Pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It is about allowing and being familiar with our experience as it is right now. That doesn’t mean it will always be this way but the valuable information we gather informs our thinking and guides our future actions.We have an opportunity with awareness to become aware of our habits, our patterns, perception, our ways of thinking, the judging, the jumping to conclusions, assuming, the things that set us off, piss us off, expectations, what iffing, blaming, sadness, pain, worrying, that make us afraid, keep us up at night.

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One way to explore our experience is through the Triangle of Awareness. As we observe our experiences, we note thoughts, emotions and sensations in the body. And each of these informs the other. A sensation in the body might trigger thought or drive an emotion. It is with keen seeing, that we can notice, acknowledge and allow. Allowing for an integration between the three points of the triangle for intuition, insight and wisdom. Want to try it out? Check out the guided practice below:

It is important to give yourself reminders to practice. It may be that we have a specific object, or a sticker or a notification on our phone to support a consistent practice. It may be helpful to connect your mindfulness practice to a routine. For example, each time you step into the car, enter a room, brew a pot of coffee, you practice mindfulness or meditation simply. One simple practice we use to return to the present moment is “Stop, Breathe, Be.” Its as simple as that. Stop for a moment, come to stillness and silence. Observe one full breath either with your eyes open or closed. Then, allow yourself to be for several more seconds. Not rushing on to the next thing but resting in presence. If you find yourself rushing through it, just do it again. It only takes a few seconds.

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 9.20.19 PMWe’d love to hear from you! Please comment below to share your own insights or email us at connect@center4selfcare.com. We encourage you to join us for our monthly Mindful Dads Meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Woodlynde School from 8 to 10pm. Click here for details, including our November 8 meeting.


600_448894163Looking for an extended opportunity to learn and practice? Join us the evening of Friday, November 3 through Sunday, November 5 for Bravery and Courage: A Men’s Retreat or the morning of Saturday, December 2 for Big Questions for Mindful Living: A Half-Day Retreat for Men.

Its All About Connection

Five years ago I was feeling pulled in a million different directions-stressed-spread too thin-not enjoying life to the fullest. Trying to find balance between, family, friends, and a stressful job. I was not feeling connected to the most important people in my life. Every weekend I would drive around with a pit in my stomach.

Personality-Judgments-AccuracySelf-Doubt would set in. Am I a good dad, husband, colleague, friend, etc? It was the constant questions of, Am I ______ enough? I wanted to have more control of my life, feel less stress, deal with the pain I was experiencing, while also wanting to be happy, have more balance in my life, and take better care of myself.  I wanted to be more present for the people in my life, instead of getting lost and stuck in my head, focusing my attention on the “what ifs” and “coulda shouldas.” I wanted to let go of the self-criticism and judgment that was filling up my life and taking up a lot of space.

One of my mentors recommended that I take a Mindfulness class.  I took my first of many classes and trainings in what is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction through Thomas Jefferson University.  It has Changed My Life.  I learned to make my care a priority in my life, to be kinder and nicer to myself, to be more patient and understanding, forgiving, and allowing; giving myself the compassion I deserve and need. Taking time to remember and come back to what is most important and matters most.  

I began to be more aware and pay attention to what was inside of me and around me.  I realized that when it came down to it I didn’t have control of anything.  I became more aware of my stress and pain and have learned to work with it in healthier and more accepting ways. I have allowed myself to be a human being, imperfect and flawed. It is something I have to remind myself of again and again, moment to moment. Mindfulness has given me greater connection with myself, the people in my life, and the people that cross my path each and every day.

Mindfulness for me is about connection and it is at the heart of all I do.  Two summers ago I realized that I needed to create a place of connection and community in my own backyard.

connections-index.jpgIt was important for me to find a place where I could feel connected and supported. A place where I could be myself, a place where I could be heard, and accepted for who I am. I wanted to form a group of dads. I wanted to create a support group of men to talk about important things, to have deeper connection with one another, where we could show our vulnerability and care for one another.  This was about having a group of great friends spending time together.

As I did my research, this idea of friendship and creating a group in this way was so eloquently described by Diane Reibel, Director of the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Don McCown, the Co-Director of the Center for Contemplative Studies at West Chester University write in their book, Teaching Mindfulness, A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Educators. “So friendship begins with the intention of meeting people ‘where they are,’ of coming to any encounter without an agenda or intention to fix or improve the other, and with a willingness to allow relationships and situations to unfold in a fresh way.

It has been two years since I created a men’s group focused on Mindfulness, with the intentions of connection, support, and self-care.  We have been meeting twice a month during this time. It has made an incredible difference in my life and I would go so far to say, in all the group members lives.  I have seen transformation occur in myself and my fellow dads. Together we have created a shared space of our experiences and stories.  A place of strength, trust, and compassion, where we feel we are not alone and all in this together.

Lastly, that bring us to here, to the Center for Self-Care. My experience and that of my colleague, Marc Balcer, have become the backbone behind the C4SC.  

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Together, we have created this space to bring people together with the hope of building connections, growing friendships, and creating community. Please consider joining us for many of our upcoming events. Our first, Mindful Dads Meeting, is on October 11th from 8-10pm at the Woodlynde School in Wayne. To sign up or learn more about C4SC, click the link above or visit www.center4selfcare.com and follow the sign up links on the right hand column. You can also find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thecenterforselfcare.

Being a Dad

This summer I thought a lot about Mindfulness and why I “got into it” and why it has become such an important part of who I am. One of the biggest reasons I “got into it” was that I wanted to be more present with my family (Wife and Kids) and enjoy my time with them more. Everybody says it, when it comes to your kids, and it is true from my experience, it goes so fast. The other piece is I didn’t like the way I was reacting to my son which in turn caused me to not like myself. What I realized is that I had to start with myself and take care of me. Mindfulness has given me this gift. It has helped me to be a more patient, kind, loving, present, compassionate, and understanding husband, dad, friend, brother, colleague, counselor, coach, teacher, and son. As I reflected upon all of this I began to think about, what does it mean to be a dad (parent)?

Being a dad is…….

Love, fear, joy, stressful, courageous, uncertainty, gratitude, the greatest thing, the hardest thing, happiness, brings tears to my eyes, insecurity, makes me a better person/human being, messing up, not knowing it all, humility, hugs, kisses, high fives, pats on the back, wrestling, tickling, laughing, playing, crying, smiling, pain, exhausting, In For Life, unexpected, love to the highest degree, teaching, learning, listening, yelling, frustration, not enough sleep, providing, changing diapers, asking them to do the same thing again and again, intense, worry, imperfect, kindness, pleasant, unpleasant, vulnerability, emotional, fun, milestones, playful, demanding, messing up, trying the best I can, comparing, setting an example, not being good enough, needing a drink, being called dad, seeing them born, seeing them grow up, wanting the best for my kids, can’t put into words, unchartered territory, compassion, spending time together, being as present as I can be, timeouts, listening, disciplining, takes heart, hard work, tender, memories, connection, caring, most important thing and matters most, responsibility, beating myself up, unpredictable, heart-breaking, heart-warming, empathy, tucking them in, soccer, coaching, their biggest fan, watching movies, going out to dinner, vacations, kissing a boo boo, exhausting, taxi service, supporting, failing, roller coaster ride, an adventure, making meals, first steps, scoring the goal, seeing them left out, an honor, no guarantees, a myracle, always wanted to be one, family, LOVE, Alyssa, Kody, Annemarie…….