Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Moms on the Run

Who says moms have to sit around and take care of everyone all the time?

Paula Spencer agrees. She ran away from home, i.e., took a week without the kids and hubby, on Mackinac Island. No schedules, no routines, no cars…how cool is that? See her article in the September Woman’s Day or check out her website at for more ideas. Have you ever taken a vacation from the kids and partner? It rocks.

In The Balanced Mom. Raising your kids without losing your self, Bria Simpson has a lot of useful tidbits for maintaining some equilibrium in your life. She suggests periodically taking “an extended break from it all” with a few or many days away in order to “unplug yourself from the outside world, and reconnect with yourself.” Another runaway.

What makes us (and us can include dads, husbands, partners, anyone) feel we have to stick to some routine that keeps us tied at the hip to another person, or people? It’s tough to figure out what you really want and need without allowing the wants and needs of others to always come first. Picture yourself running and feeling light and free. Where are you? Where are you going? Take a few minutes to consider this. And think about what you might need to recharge.

Getting away from it all isn’t the only answer. For true inspiration check out soccer moms turned soccer players in this article about a league in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The moms got tired of watching and decided to get out there and kick it. Talk about moms on the run.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You Are What You Think

I’m about to watch a soccer tryout and I’m wondering how these kids can be passed over, lose a game, miss a shot, or otherwise fail in the conventional sense, and still be worthwhile, wonderful, successful people.

Have you ever said the words, “I am a [bipolar, ADD, a failure, a loser, a worthless person]?

What if, instead, you said:

“I have bipolar disorder.”
“I have ADD.”
“I failed the bar exam…didn’t get into my first choice college…”
“I hate it that I’m 50 and I just got divorced.”
“My boy/girlfriend just broke up with me.”
“I didn’t get the contract I wanted…my article accepted...”

See the difference? It’s semantics, but not just that. To say I am ADD implies that ADDness is at the core of my being, the same way it is when I say I’m a woman, or I’m a psychologist. To say I have ADD implies it’s one of many things you might know about me. To say I’m a failure because I failed an exam implies that the exam performance defines me. To say I failed at something says just that; I failed at some one thing.

Why allow a momentary disappointment, or even a bigger failure, to translate into these globally negative pronouncements?

Sometimes we even allow our kids’ or partners’ shortcomings to define us. There’s the parent who feels like a terrible failure because their kid didn’t get into the best college. There’s the person who feels like a failure because their partner doesn’t make enough money for them to have the biggest house or most expensive car.

At times we use these defeatist attitudes to self-handicap. In other words, I already know I’m going to fail because I’m ADD. I couldn’t possibly get an A on this paper because I’m ADD and therefore disorganized and incapable of managing such a complex task successfully. I’ll try but, you know, I’m ADD.

Sometimes it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. I’m bipolar, so I know that when my roommate moves out I’m going to go into a deep depression. Or, I can’t meet someone really exciting and interesting because I’m a loser and they’ll know it as soon as I open my mouth. Yeah, that attitude is going to snag some fascinating dates.

Athletes with a “growth mindset” know they can learn from their failures and misses and become better players. People with growth mindsets know they can do anything they set their minds to, regardless of their ADDish, Bipolarish or OCDish behaviors, and become better people.

So consider that even if you don't make this team, publish this paper or pass the bar exam the first time, there are plenty of other opportunities out there just waiting for someone like you to come along and grab them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Clark Kent, Meet Superman

Ever feel like you’re pretending to be someone or something you’re not, like Superman pretending to be Clark Kent, i.e., ever feel like an impostor? I hear this a lot from new graduates at all levels, people new on their job, new parents…okay, new [fill in the blank]. It’s difficult to move from study to practice, from known to unknown.

While I don’t generally borrow whole hog from a source, I thought this APA Monitor article about impostor syndrome provided some really excellent solutions, which are as follows, with just some minor additions and deletions.

Be patient with yourself. It takes awhile to grow accustomed to new roles and situations. You will make mistakes; no one’s perfect.

Acknowledge compliments and successes. Keep a diary of them or post them visibly so you’re reminded often of things you’ve done well.

Let go of the overdoing rituals if you can. Reading too much to prep for a new job, studying too much for an exam, or rehearsing too much for a presentation or performance just reinforce your own notion that you’re not good enough. Consider keeping these things a level the average, above-average performer would find appropriate.

Embrace positive rituals. Taking calming breaths, or using positive self-talk, pump-up songs and the like, are fun, upbeat ways to ensure yourself that you are what others seem to think you are.

Celebrate your accomplishments. You’re good. Show yourself you believe it by doing something special for yourself.

So stop pretending and be yourself. Like Superman. Or was it Clark Kent pretending to be Superman?

To pump it up: Start Me Up (Rolling Stones)