Level Up, Parents

A parent recently approached me about helping her middle school child navigate the muddy waters of social media. I was delighted to do so, and it got me thinking about how many parents I know who feel like they are in a death match with social media and video games, a fight over their children’s humanity. What lessons are they learning from anonymous people online? How are they interpreting and internalizing violent video games? What if they turn out to be violent weirdos? Or worse, they don’t get into college??

It is a dark time to be a parent, my friends. It’s dark that is, until you begin redefine your relationship social media and video games. When we lean in and come from a mindset of curiosity, we create connection with our young ones. Yes, video games might seem droll and gratuitous to us, but they are dynamic and very real for kids. It’s time that we honored that.

Asking open-ended questions and being honest about our lack of understanding will create an opening for your child to explain something to you. They are the authority on this, and it’s your turn to be the student. You may choose to play with them, or simply watch and learn. Creating a connection around this time can lead to your child feeling respected and understood, and can actually tip the balance of “digital power” back to neutral.

As for social media, it goes without saying that there’s no way to avoid it. This is the world our kids live in, and resistance is futile. So how do we reconcile our innate (adult) desire for privacy with children’s desire to connect online? We get online, of course. Meet them where they are, with compassion and a desire to connect. They will think we’re lame and complain about the fact that Aunt Judy likes all of their posts, but the subtle message is that the adults in their lives care enough to be involved. And we’re watching.

Consider it the modern equivalent to your mother looking out the kitchen window and watching you dangle by one leg from that huge tree in the backyard, while your brother throws clods of dirt at you. You might get scuffed up, but you’ll be fine. She knew it, you knew it, and now you know that you should never be a willing target for your brother’s curveball.

So what now? Will you wade into the waters of social media and video games with your child? If so, how do you feel about it? Comment below; I’d love to get your perspective!

These thoughts and ramblings were inspired by an article that was written much better than mine; please check it out and read in full. It’s terrific and worth the read. https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/52899/forget-screen-time-rules-lean-in-to-parenting-your-wired-child-author-says

The Beyonce Dream

Last night I dreamt that Beyonce invited me to sing onstage with her. I said yes, and then immediately panicked. I had no clue what the song was, what the lyrics were, what the DANCE MOVES were, and I was wearing lame street clothes. I couldn’t even get a hold of the music video to practice with. I kept rushing around backstage, trying to get a laptop to play some of her songs so that I could try to remember some words. Words to songs that I wasn’t sure I’d be singing. I felt like schlub, dressed in jeans and a sweater. I had no sexy costume, I had no sweet dance moves. I didn’t feel qualified to have either, quite frankly. Needless to say, I was not exactly keeping my cool.

It was beyond stressful, but I was willing. I knew that I had been asked to sing with her because she liked how I sing and knew that I could hold my own. (Not that I was sure in the moment! I was freaking out!)  I knew that no matter how unprepared or ill-attired I was, I had to do it. No one says “no” to Beyonce. Plus I knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I mean, really. Beyonce.

No accidents that I had a Beyonce anxiety dream, because I’m doing the same thing in real life. I’ve committed to huge risks lately, with zero (or close to zero) evidence that I can pull it off. I have skills and a support network, and the rest is up to me. Leaving teaching and living in Denver has stretched my comfort zone in emotional, physical, mental, financial, and spiritual ways that I didn’t anticipate. My body has reacted in funky ways, I’ve felt unmoored, but also more free and open to possibility than ever before.

When we step into committed action, the Universe conspires in our favor. We may feel unprepared, but things are moving forward whether we know it or not. Beyonce was my universe last night, inviting me to step into the unknown, with only my abilities to rely upon. It was an opportunity to reinvent, re-imagine, and then do it again. Even if I felt unready, I had to seize the moment and step on stage. Most importantly, I had to trust the process. Trust that regardless of how things went down, they were supposed to go down that way. I can’t control it all, and I still get to say yes.

The future is bright, and the present is scary. When people ask how I’m doing, I can honestly say that I’m good. I’m excited about my life and committed to this journey. Is it bumpy? It sure as hell is. But there’s no going back, and what I want to create is much more enticing than staying in my comfort zone. So here I am, getting onstage with Beyonce in jeans and a sweater, no clue what I’m doing but able and willing.

The End of an Era

Just like that, it’s over. No more school. It feels strange to be untethered from a profession I love so dearly, but here I am, a free agent. I’ve done my fair share of crying in the last couple of weeks, but to be honest I thought I’d cry even more than this. The end of the school year feels more like the continuation of a cycle, not a loss. It feels like growth, like stepping into the unknown. I guess this is how the 8th graders felt at graduation. At least I hope they did.

Here we go!

I’m a teacher, but not for much longer. It feels strange to know that a month from now, I will no longer have a classroom to set up, have students to teach, have fellow teachers to collaborate with. I really really love my job, you guys. I’m living the dream. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a teacher, so why am I giving it up?

The answer is simple: it’s time. After working with personal development centers in New York and Colorado for five years, some essential understandings have occurred to me:

  1. You are the author of your life, which means that you are responsible for all outcomes. Because this is true, it is entirely up to me to create my own dream life.
  2. No one is coming. I say this in the most positive way possible: in a “put on your big boy pants” sort of way. The knowledge that you get to handle your own stuff means that you are empowered to take action.
  3. Listening to your inner voice is ESSENTIAL for survival. If you want to thrive, connect, and feel totally loved and supported on a regular basis, you’re going to have to listen to yourself. It’s one of those things.

All of these understandings led me to the decision to leave my dream career and leap into the void of consulting, gigging, and trusting the universe. I swing back and forth between terrified and trusting, but in general the trust side is winning.

This will do for now.