Mirrors, Sponges, and Little Drunk People: Striving to Be a Better Adult

The other day I saw a meme on Facebook: “Our job as parents is not to train children to act like adults. Our job is to be better adults.”

Something about having (or even being around) children forces us to look at ourselves more closely and critically. Children are at once 1) mirrors, reflecting us back to us, 2) sponges, soaking up and learning everything, and 3) little drunk people, who cannot control their emotions and behaviours.

When we yell in frustration “STOP YELLING, BE QUIET OR ELSE!” they will copy our approach to dealing with things that don’t go their  way. 

When we tell them that their work is just not good enough, their brains internalize our voice and they learn to tell themselves they are not good enough.

When we force them to do things they are not developmentally ready to do, we undermine their growth and maturity.

They hear every negative thing we say about others; they see every reaction we have under stress; they internalize our messages…
We must be our best selves as we help them develop their own navigation system for the world: they need a sense of right and wrong, judgment to know the difference, wisdom to make good decisions, and strength to stick to the right choices. 

Children watch our every word and deed, learning from every breath we take and every move we make. It is imperative for us to strive to be better adults. We must model for them good behaviour.

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Reflection on the Kung Fu Virtue of STRIVE

The practice of mind, spirit, and body to make the right decisions(Deflecting cravings with discipline.)

Vigilance in word, thought, and deed with compassion.

To strive is to find inspiration from challenge, growth from discomfort, learning from critique.

Striving turns ink into art, anger into motivation, and fear into opportunity.

Striving is embracing a journey

Where each step is celebrated

Each try appreciated

Each mistake reimagined

Each obstacle challenged

Each transgression forgiven

Each interaction embraced.

Striving is when perfection is not the end goal, but rather the journey.

Kung Fu Virtue of Strive

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Today I joined a distinguished group of brothers and sisters. I joined the instructor program at our School to help develop a deeper appreciation for and understanding of Shaolin virtues. Today is the first day of the rest of my life striving to improve myself and to contribute towards better health for my community.

Funny how I got on this path.

I’m really just a mom, a recovering Tiger Mom if I am to be honest. I just wanted to get my kids into something good for them. I just thought, gee, I’m bringing them to a martial arts class every week, if only they ran an adult class at the same time, I’m here anyway, might as well. I just wanted them to practice with their class more than once a week so I started bringing them in twice a week. I just wanted to offer my help to the kids class for that second day. And then BOOM. I find myself signing up for the instructor program and I am now a Junior Assistant Instructor!  Me, little ole beginner me.

At the instructor workshop, Master Dao served us traditional Chinese tea and then we each selected a Shaolin Virtue to focus on. I selected Strive, or the Shaolin Virtue of continuous improvement: having the willpower to always work on being better at everything: physical strength and flexibility, mental strength and openness, emotional maturity and calm. I have much to work on and I am looking forward to becoming a better version of myself, moment by moment, step by step, day by day: a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister, a better aunt, a better friend, a better colleague, a better me.

Striving is not about winning.  Striving is about being earnest.  Striving is about stretching. Striving is about doing my best.

Today I focus on: Strive.

Back from Hiatus

Never again!  Never again am I ‘taking a break’ from Kung Fu classes. What was supposed to be a decision that should have alleviated scheduling commitments to lessen stress this past summer has turned out to be a slippery slope back to bad habits!

This summer, we decided that we would take a break from our weekly Kung Fu classes, you know, to leave weekends open to go do other things (some quite legitimate things).  However, as a total beginner Kung Fu practitioner, I really need my weekly class to keep me motivated and on track.  Without it, I did not have enough self-motivation to do my meditation, stretches and forms… Luckily we started up again this September and my body remembered enough to get me back on track.

I’ve already told my instructor that I want to be that 80-year old woman who can do Kung Fu and the splits.  (The good news is that I’m almost able to do the splits!)

 

Good Stress, Bad Stress

Like cholesterol, there is good stress and bad stress.  Bad stress brings fear (of failure) and disruption (to your health).  Good stress on the other hand, comes from challenging ourselves, which in turn, helps with our development and growth.

The boys have been going to their Kung Fu summer camp this week at the Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute.  Initially, they were a bit stressed by all the practice and how hard Shifu was pushing them.  Then, two days into it, something clicked.  They felt stronger, more focused and leaner.  They were proud of their stances, they were fast and strong and eager to perform!  The stress brought out the best in them.

For me, as a new driver (at 46 no less!), I noticed that I was feeling stress when driving on the highway.  Initially, I didn’t realize that my body was stressed.  When I noticed it, I became aware of how much I was concentrating to do the right things: merging, watching the big truck in front of me, checking for pedestrians, slowing down…  A few days into it, something clicked.  I felt more aware, more confident and more focused.  I was proud of how much I improved, and at the same time, understanding that it was still going to take a great deal of practice to be a good driver.

Good stress: makes you better!

Bad stress on the other hand comes from toxic relationships, lack of constructive communication and constant unknowns. Bad stress causes frustration, anger, confusion and ultimately hurts our health.  There will always be unknowns in life, but we all need to work harder at improving our relationships through communication… or removing ourselves from relationships that hurt us.

Bad stress: makes you sick!

It is up to us to see what kinds of stress we are under and how to address them: rise up to the challenge and develop… or get out of the situation quickly!

Film Review: The Angry Birds Movie

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Today the boys and I watched the Angry Birds Movie. I thought for sure that it would only be a fun experience for my little avid gamers and that I would be rolling my eyes through it all, but surprisingly, it was a movie with heart (on top of the obligatory doo-doo-doo-doo Angry Bird diddy and mandatory slung-shot birds knocking down green pigs).

The story starts with Red having an anger problem, so he was made to take an Anger Management class with a new age yoga instructor voiced by the very funny Maya Rudolph. Ironically, I’ve been spending the past year working on controlling the anger that I experience when I’m under the daily stresses of being a working mom. So when the story got to the part where his anger was celebrated, I had to take a pause and figure out how I felt about that as a moral of the story for my young boys. Do I want them to think that acting out in anger is ever right?

After a few moments of mulling, I realized that the answer was a resounding YES!

Taking your anger out on innocent people is not right. That needs to be controlled; we definitely all must have some self-discipline when it comes to that kind of anger. But anger directed at the right things can motivate us to do heroic acts.There are many things for us to be angry about in this world… and taking a stand, being a leader… risking ourselves to do what is right, is a message I’m cool with. I think I’m going name this Anger Discipline: be angry with what is wrong with the world then do something about it.

There were lots of funny little bits and pieces – I could hear the boys giggling (and even laughing aloud) through it all. The violence was pretty much reflective of anything any Angry Birds player would have already seen… so it’s not excessive, maybe goofy from time to time. Plus Peter Dinklage’s Mighty Eagle’s old school music was an extra bonus for this 40-something mama!

3.5 stars outta 5

It Was a Cold and Wintery April Day

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Under normal circumstances, on a freezing Saturday afternoon, I would much prefer to stay cozy in my nice warm house, maybe read some books, clean the washrooms, or do some blogging. However, it was already well into April, it was sunny, and it was time to get serious about getting outdoors again. So, the boys and I muddled through. First we got out the bikes.  Wouldn’t you know it, Aiden’s bike was too small for him, Alec wanted to scooter instead of bike and my bicycle hadn’t been touched in (we won’t mention how many) years… it needed a lot of pre-work to get it road ready. So we went back home and tried again. The boys got out their scooters and I dusted off my rollerblades… and we took off! Well, my 46-year old ankles protested quite loudly and the boys by then decided that they wanted to play in the big park – too far for my rollerblading sore ankles to allow. So we turned back again.

One complained about how cold it was, how numb his face was getting, and how much better it would be just to go home. The other one complained that if he and I went to the park, the other one would get to play video games at home, which of course would be totally unfair.

I couldn’t help it, I roared at them and declared that we would all dump everything at home, we would get warm hats and scarves, we would walk over to the big park, and darn it all, we would play in the park!

We first popped into the recreation centre and played a bit of ping pong to warm up. Then we went to the playground.  It was full of optimistic kids and parents.  We ran around, pushed each other off the balancing thing, and climbed stuff. We had a LOT of fun!

Thanks Kung Fu for giving me back the energy and inclination to run around outdoors in the freezing park! Next goals: 1) Get outside every day regardless of weather, and 2) Rollerblade around the lake!