Fearless Parenting

Since my husband and I married, I have embraced the role of my family’s chief event planner. I particularly enjoy planning family vacations for my family of three. My goals for every family vacation include the following objectives:
 
  • Exploring a place that our family has never visited;
  • (On road trips) introducing my husband and son to new audiobook; and,
  • Participating in some outdoor adventure.
 
Thanks to this formula, we have enjoyed excellent vacations and created long lasting memories. We have done activities outside of our comfort zones and that is a good thing. Life requires adventure. Without it, you spend your life in a never-ending loop of wake, work, and sleep.  
 
Many think we pursue outdoor adventures for the adrenaline rush. Personally, I seek outdoor or extreme adventures because they can teach you lessons that you carry throughout life. I force myself to be adventurous. I have been canyoneering, skydiving, rock-climbing, and white-water rafting, to name a few. These adventures, have given me insight that helped me in life. The have helped me examine problems. They have helped in my growth. I hope they can guide you too.
 
Be an active participant in your own rescue 
I sat at the front of a yellow, six-person raft. A rush of water splashed from the river. I was drenched. I thanked G-d that we had opted to rent the scuba material suits; the water was freezing. And, it was moving fast, faster than it had first appeared while we stood at the side of the river waiting to checking in.
 
Our raft began to move through some intimidating rapids. Rocks jutted from the river bed, creating the white peaked waves that pushed us downriver. Then, I heard voices yelling from the rafts ahead. Nervous energy built up across all six rafts in that excursion. A young man of approximately thirteen years had fallen out of his boat. I began to feel worried. His poor mom! I tried to recall the advice given by the river guides that morning. Point your feet down river. Swim to the boat closest to you.
 
“Come on kid. Get back into a raft. Any raft.” The river guide yelled from his position in the back of our raft. “Remember, you must be an active participant in your own rescue.”
 
Years later, those words stay with me. These words have deep implications in how I move forward in life. They imply several ideas. They are so powerful and profound that I find myself from time to time, contemplating them. In fact, they are words that I instill on my stepson. 
 
First, learn to look out for and save yourself. One of the most important things we must do as adults is look out for our own safety. This means many things. It means maintain situational awareness in your day to day life. In large crowds, keep you eyes off your phone and moving around observing everything. But, it means more than looking out in the physical world. It means, that you must be aware of your circumstances. How do you do this? Ask for help when you need it. It means be your own advocate. And, it means that you do not rely on anyone without first doing what you can for yourself.
 
And, these words translate into the career world also. when situations place us in peril we must work to protect ourselves. For example, a problem arises with a work project. You must ask your employer how to correct the problem. You could go to your boss throw your hands up in the air and say “not my fault and I don’t know what to do.” But handling different could garner better results.
 
Instead, tell your employer about the problem and provide solutions. In this manner, you are being an active participating in your own rescue. Plus, you have demonstrated great skills to your employer. You have provided insight into your strategic thinking. Moreover, you have shown initiative providing solutions not only problems to your employer. You have demonstrated an ability to be coachable or trainable. This is crucial.
 
Rely on your tools & training
 
My family first learned to rock climb at a gym in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you have never been rock climbing, know that it is hard. It requires lifting your body from the safety of the ground up onto the edge of a rock formation by a small piece of metal and some rope. Tough to wrap your mind around. But, worth it. 
For me, rock climbing helped clear my mind in a way that my many attempts at meditation have never been able to do. When I begin to ascend the side of a mountain, I cannot think of anything but the task on hand. Maybe it is because I am afraid of falling to my death. But, I prefer to think that it is because at that moment I am Zen.
 
Rock climbing has taught me that at that you have to have faith in your preparations. I learned the tools of the trade- helmet, harness, carabiners & belays plus some rope- are enough to secure your safety. But, preparations and thoughts are not enough without action. At some point, you have to get to climbing.
 
Let go & enjoy the view
 
Fifteen years ago, I decided that I wanted to experience skydiving. I have a sibling who is much more adventurous than me and he had been itching to try this adventure.
 
Skydiving is one of the more complicated of the extreme adventure activities. A beginning skydiver takes approximately eight jumps strapped to an experienced skydiver. This is a tandem jump. Thereafter, they are ready to free fall alone.
 
My brother and I were different, or so we reasoned. We could handle it the “right” way. We discovered an eight hour long class at the end of which we would do static line jumps on our own. In a static line jump, your parachute connects to the airplane. After you fall a certain number of feet, the cord connected to the plane pulls your parachute out.
 
During the eight hour class we were instructed on the mechanics of the jump. We learned on the importance of grabbing on to the wing and letting go at the right time.
 
After the training, I thought I had it all figured out. I felt ready to go. Unfortunately, once we got up and my turn came, the practice was nothing like the reality. I had no problem grabbing the wing as I had on the ground. But, I had not factored the wind speed hitting against me as the plane was flying! (I know what was I thinking.) 
 
I am a teacher’s pet by nature and want to do everything “the right way.” I wanted another chance to do it. (Truthfully? I was freaked the fuck out and I needed to wrap my head around this new information.) I sought to re-enter the plane. That was not permitted. My instructor took one look at me, shook his head no, and kicked the one foot holding me into the plane.
 
I WAS FALLING!
I was falling to the ground at such a fast speed that I could feel myself screaming but could not hear my own sounds. My nightmare scenario come to life! After five seconds, five minutes, or five hours, I cannot recall how long, my parachute finally opened. My fear dissipated. I looked around and saw the beauty of the earth without the noisy interruptions of daily life. I felt alive.
 
I have not gone skydiving since then and I probably never will again. But, I have become better at letting go both physically and emotionally thanks to that experience. I still feel the confidence of overcoming such an emotional obstacle, even if I did have to get kicked out of the plane.
 
Except for the skydiving, all outdoor adventures have included my stepson. From age six, he has participated in white water rafting and rock climbing with us. And, although not athletic or adventurous by nature, he has enjoyed the experiences. Whether he has gained as much from them as I is yet to be seen. But, I believe that my adventures have improved me. They have made me approach others differently. And in that regard, I know that his life has been impacted as well.
 
What parenting lessons have you learned from your outdoor adventures?

Grand New Party

What a grand new party it will be, once we stop thinking you versus me.

And start acting collectively, like a WE.

They call themselves the grand old party A.K.A. GOP.

Their goal: to fuck us over. Yeah, you and me.

They believe in rights if you’re a corporation.

Just not for the people all across this nation.

With them, Poverty is your only station.

They want no health care or public education.

Democrats you ain’t far behind.

For decades you supported racist minds.

You spewed hatred and told minorities “toe the line.”

What’s more? Greed overwhelmed your lives.

Politicians they all knew.

Their rhetoric spread and the anger grew.

The people? They just fell for it.

Didn’t see past the fucking bit.

Fought each other to be the fittest of fit.

At the table, angry cause an “other” took a seat.

Fighting for one damn scrap of meat.

Since we don’t work together, we get beat.

It’s time to act. Don’t be hasty.

Be a voter, large numbers means safety.

Take care of neighbors.

Stop with the race wars.

Don’t let yourself be politicians’ whores.

But oh, what a grand new party it will be,

Once we stop thinking you versus me.

And act collectively, like a WE.

Show me the love

“It ain’t the money or the diamond rings, honey I ain’t impressed with your material things” *

I spend a lot of time thinking about love. You see, in my spare time, I am writing a fictional romance set in my hometown of Manhattan, Kansas. In the last nine months, I have spent time writing, thinking, and researching ideas for this story. In that time, I have made several observations. The clearest of these observations? Many people believe that romance and love are demonstrated through showy displays of affection or gifts of material possession.

Americans we are a materialistic society. We marvel in the latest gadgets and newest toys. We liken success with an ever increasing ability to purchase. Thus, it makes sense that when it comes to romance we would do the same. We want a romantic partner to surprise and delight us with the best of everything.

So when we see these displays of attention they impact the way one considers even our own relationships. Right? As we scroll through people’s flashy proposals or other type of attention getting display of affection, a small part of us wonders why our other half doesn’t do the same for us. And that’s when the harm really happens. Little by little we begin to compare ours with another’s. And, when we do not have those same things happening for us, we decide there is something missing in the relationship in which we are involved.

That’s the worst thing that we can do. Comparison is the thief of joy. All of a sudden your spouse picking up dinner from a drive thru isn’t as special as that fabulous weekend getaway that your BFF got from her honey and posted photos about last week.

The worst part of this type of comparison is that it causes one to become completely self absorbed.

“Why doesn’t my honey do this for me?” We complain.

But here’s another question we should be asking, why don’t you do the thing you want for your honey? Why not make your person feel as special as you want to feel? More importantly, why does a display of affection require any type of material possession? Why does true love equal a weekend getaway or a shiny new bauble? I don’t know that it does.

I feel this type of pressure most around my birthday. People know that my husband is a person who is generous with his time and money. But, I normally encourage him to avoid extravagant displays of affection.

After all, how much someone spends on you is not a direct correlation to how much they care for you.

Does it matter to you how much your partner spends on you?

*Lyric taken from Paula Abdul’s ‘It’s just the way that you love me.”

Support Your Sisters

Ayuda a tus hermanas.

Whether you say it in English or Spanish, supporting other women is important.

Over the course of the last year, I have had complex feelings about what it means to be a woman in this world. On the one hand, I feel comfortable identifying as woman. I always have. I have never minded the mandates and conventions placed upon my gender even though I may not have always abided by them. But over the last year, I have found the cultural backlash against women to be overwhelming. Depressing even.

For that reason, I plan to make 2021 my Women’s Appreciation Year. This means that I am going to take active steps to appreciate and support women. I endeavor to fully embrace this concept in a number of ways.

Arts

In the arts arena, I intend to focus my purchasing power on female artists, authors, actors, and musicians. Beyond that, I am going to take extra steps to introduce my friends and family to those that I love. As gifts, I will consider giving the gift a of book written by a woman. I will write a positive review about a blogger and share her through my social media. I will create a playlist with women’s music that moves me and share it to my colleagues.

Business

There are many ways to support your sisters in business. First, contemplate all of the friends and family members you have that are in direct sales. Second, think of all of the things you purchase from your favorite big box retailer. Finally, think of the friends that you can purchase from instead of the retailer. Need skin care? Talk to your cousin who sells Rodan and Fields. Want to try a new mascara? Give your friend whose been a long-time Mary Kay consultant a call.

The key to purchasing from friends in this manner is to purchase ahead of your needs. You do not have the luxury of running out of a product when you purchase the direct sales method because it can take a few days for your purchases to come in.

From there, expand your horizons. Check out women owned businesses in your town. Don’t know how to find them? Call your local chamber of commerce or use your favorite search engine to discover women owned businesses.

Professionals

I am talking attorneys, accountants, and doctors. If you have never done so, consider hiring a female professional. If finding a female professional seems onerous, stop sweating. Call your state’s accounting, bar, or medical association for a list of referrals. Ask your friends and family members about professionals they have used in the past. Finally, start looking at business websites after a search engine check of “Female Attorney” (or accountants or doctors) and the name of your city.

Now it’s your turn…

How do you plan to support women in 2021?