On a good week, I can hit four classes. When I miss a week, my body feels it.
In addition to keeping my body right, yoga helps keep my mind right.
I’m no expert in yogic traditions, but yoga carries a strong component of spiritual training that has been passed along for eons. Life lessons are often sprinkled into a yoga class.
As your physical body is stretched to the limits, your mind is forced to move to the present.
A great supplement to meditation.
A small comment from the instructor this week stuck with me.
“As you practice your forward fold, shift your weight to the ball of your feet – focus on grounding the inside edge of your foot. When you do this, your mind will be forced to stay present in the Now.”
Balance is crucial in yoga (and life). Your body has a tendency to shift your weight to the outside edge of your feet as you try to maintain balance in difficult positions.
When you focus on shifting your weight to the inside edge of your feet, you get a deeper stretch (in many positions), and you work against your default mode. You force your mind to focus in the moment – presence, awareness, Now.
This presence is the essence of meditation.
Perhaps the essence of spirituality.
A simple shift of your weight. A shift that is applicable at any moment in your day. A physical shift that also triggers the most fundamental mental shift.
The Inside Edge of Life. My new secret to staying in the moment.]]>
Or is it?
Four kids, and special needs? Definitely crazy.
The addition of #4 has been a topic of discussion for me and The Queen for quite a while. Four kids always seemed like a stretch. Especially when SATB2 was added to the equation.
But every day we grow. What once seemed like a stretch becomes a possibility.
And then a must.
The quiet moments in the wee hours of the morning are my opportunity to sit, breathe and meditate.
At some point in the quiet, I hear the creek of the door as a groggy Mack emerges from sleep.
The boys are early risers.
Mack suspended in the half-wakefulness of breaking slumber. Me suspended in the half-wakefulness of meditation.
We shoot for 8 hugs per day, but the first is always the sweetest.
He sinks into my crossed legs and melts into my lap. The embrace is silent, but deep. A warmth, a love that is hard to put to words.
While the mind is quiet and the world is slow, answers are clear. Your intuition knows. Trust your gut.
Dad is my superpower. The Queen is made to be a Mom. These kids were crafted to support each other. This family was designed to be together.
But we’re not done yet.
The Mrs. summed it up best in the FB announcement…
Are we crazy?! Heck no!
You could ask the internet:
Or you can trust your gut.
We’re going with the gut.
Does special needs play a role in our decision? Of course. Special needs is part of our reality. But it doesn’t define us. It doesn’t limit us. Special needs makes us stronger, more capable, more daring. Embrace every moment, every opportunity.
One more person to love Awesome Mack.
There are no “right” answers. We’re all making it up as we go. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Trust your gut.
The Dudes are growing, and we couldn’t be more excited!
PS – We’re getting a puppy too!!! Yeah, that’s kinda crazy.
#4, Baby Boy]]>
I recently shared the idea that it may be helpful to think of life as a game: The Tao of Tetris. A quick sum…
I’ve enjoyed this perspective. It’s allowed me to seek opportunities to improve, but not take life, and myself, too seriously.
That balance between improvement and enjoyment is a tight line to traverse. Erring on the side of fun seems the wise choice, and games are meant to be enjoyed. Good match.
Your gaming strategy becomes the art of improvement. Your systems are your daily practice. The practice is the set of rules we choose to live by.
The daily routines, rituals, and habits. The consistency that accomplishes great things.
This is not an invitation to make promises we won’t keep. It’s an opportunity to make daily progress, keep score against yourself and enjoy the process.
Where to start? Gather info, make a plan, get to work.
Take what you can from others, but this is your life, your time, your skills. You are unique. Build your unique game.
I’ve kept the eye on the interwebs and located some ideas to kick us off.
There are more great ideas to be found. But no need to wait. Now is the time. Simple. Actionable.
The greatest tool at our disposal is the right attitude. Open. Creative. Excited.
Inflexibility breaks. Flow creates.
In my humble opinion, meditation may be the best training ground to build the right attitude muscle.
Ryan Holiday shared a post about the great power of greeting it all with a smile – awesome story about Jack Johnson…the boxer, not surfer/singer.
The world is going to try to knock us down. We will face unfairness, animus, even evil. How will we respond? With anger? With rage? By letting it get to us?
No. We should instead respond with the excitement and smile of a Jack Johnson.
Personal Rules Lead to Great Things
Every game starts with a set of rules. A framework to build the game.
Understand the rules so we know how to bend them. Know the standard so we can exceed expectations.
Rules may seem limiting, but personal rules offer freedom. The freedom to simplify and clarify.
Reduce decision points. Stop negotiating with yourself. Know your clear direction.
Your personal rules lead to power, independence.
A strong overarching strategy is 1% progress, daily. The Kaizen Method.
Leverage the compounding effect of daily progress.
It applies to all aspects of life, and you can tackle many habits at once. Simply ask…
What is one small thing that I can do to improve X?
The Art of Manliness has a great post discussing the Kaizen Way – interesting background and simple suggestions.
System-focused, not goal focused. Build your systems to continually improve. The goal is progress.
Kaizen has become my first thought when considering how to improve. But the game of life is broken down further into multiple systems.
Each of these systems is broken down further into individual steps – habits. Each of these habits is the opportunity to improve by 1%.
Regardless of your goal, narrowing down your focus to small manageable tasks that can be done daily is the secret weapon to achievement. – 10x Your Results, One Tiny Action at a Time
The vast majority aim for mediocrity. It’s a bit of a paradox, but the medicore has the most competition, while few aim for great.
99% of people are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most competitive. – Tim Ferriss
Ryan Holiday wrote a great book on this subject a few years ago – The Obstacle is the Way.
Obstacles are exciting. The large majority will give up. Keep pushing.
Aim high. Don’t be afraid to fail…seek failure!
The Ancient Greeks had two concepts of time – Chronos and Kairos.
Chronos is the time we refer to on the ticking clock. Kairos carries a spiritual significance – a sense of presence and attention to the moment.
Chronos is a necessity to operate in the daily world. But Kairos is where we find joy, motivation, and greatness.
Create Kairos – know your purpose, set aside quiet time, create quiet space.
Be ready to pause when the opportunity presents itself.
There is a new Leonardo da Vinci biography the interwebs are buzzing about. One of the highlights the author has pointed out is da Vinci had distractions just like we do today. One of da Vinci’s strengths was the ability to pause and focus when he was inspired.
You can’t always schedule quiet moments for reflection. Even when we can schedule Kairos, inspiration may strike off schedule.
Cultivate the habit of the da Vinci Pause. Cultivate Kairos.
Be present. Be aware. When inspiration strikes, pause. Focus on the moment. Focus on the inspiration. See where the flow takes you.
Create Your Time
The game of life is a long game. There are daily, moment to moment, opportunities to improve.
Systems and daily practices evolve. The game evolves. We evolve.
The evolution of the best you is a fantastically rad process. But it helps to have a few reference points to start from…
I’m not often choked up.
Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.
As life progresses, I realize my rough exterior is pierced more often than I’d like to admit. Not by sadness, but by life’s significance. The significance of all the small details, small moments.
2017 has claimed my lovely bride’s two Grandmothers. As a result, the fam has experienced two memorial services for Great Grandmothers in the past month.
Neither a surprise. Both an opportunity to reflect.
Both remembered for strength and grace.
The above poem was read at yesterday’s memorial service. A great sum of my feelings on loss and funerals.
Let the ones you love, know you love them. Now.
One of life’s many lessons: be present, aware, with a focus on Now.
But our everyday life pulls us to the opposite poll – rushed, stressed, focused on the past AND the future.
The Now requires a focused effort…Easier said than done.
I practiced my best focused effort during yesterday’s service. I related to the poem, spent time with family and reflected on the kind words.
I was surprised by a familiar twinge of emotion starting in the chest and pushing towards the eye – a tear threatening to escape.
Not because of sadness – I hope I showed love when I had the chance. It was the significance that bit so hard.
As we age, life seems more significant. In reality, we’re just more aware of the significance that has been there all along.
Great-Grandmother-in-Laws have impacted me more than I could ever imagine.
They opened their hearts, their homes, and their families. They accepted me unconditionally and trusted me with their lineage.
These moments may seem small, but the significance cannot be overstated. This kindness, this love will carry on for generations. They are in our veins and they are in our actions. I see their love in my family every day.
I know I say the words, but I’m not sure I’ve understood the significance.
Saying I love you is easy (important, but easy).
Recognizing the significance of this moment is hard.
A memorial is a great reminder. But the opportunity is Now.
A Saturday night stargazing and a Sunday morning lounging with Curious George may seem simple, normal. But the significance is hidden by the normal.
Last night’s stars were extra bright, and the hugs this morning are extra sweet.
With the right focus, perhaps I can capture more of the significance life has to offer – the people, relationships, and love that can be lost in the everyday hustle.
Pay attention to the small details and the significance of each moment.
When they are gone, they are gone. Love me today.
Thank you Mimi and Granny. We love you.
The morning surf-check is one of life’s delicacies. A day of clean waves is nothing short of a gift from God.
Unfortunately, the clean lines that surfers crave do not always march to shore. When the variables – wind, swell, tides, etc. – are not aligned those clean lines become a mass of confusion, some days/hours/minutes more threatening than others.
Those messy, threatening days do not dilute the fortune of living by the sea. The stormy moments offer a richness that would be lost if every day was nothing but clean lines.
Similar to the rogue wave or sudden storm, life’s engineering does not always match the forecast.
The Mrs. and I have shared the beginning of our special needs parenting journey:
As this special needs journey continues, the richness matches the beauty of the sea – unfolding in calm breezes, clean waves, and favorable tides. And unexpected storms.
Unfortunately, as any surf forecaster will tell you, ignoring the storm does not change the foreboding path. Storms will arrive. And patterns will repeat.
There is a cycle of grief. And this cycle repeats. Despite my best intentions to change the unchangeable, I recognize this cycle because we experience the raw emotions – on repeat.
We work through this grief cycle individually and as a family. We manage this cycle as best we can, and I’d like to believe we are improving with each repetition.
We yearn towards the clean lines of acceptance, and we revel in the warm sun and cool breeze of our strong, loving family. The majority of our time is spent enjoying the amazing waves of love and happiness that ALL special needs parents know.
But we need to mindful of the forecast. We don’t know when the storms will blow through, and we don’t know how hard we will need to bear down to remain grounded, but be prepared.
It’s amazing what a well-timed hug or good cry can do.
We’re lucky to live by the sea, but we’re even luckier to be special a special needs family.]]>
― Lao Tzu,
Simple isn’t easy. Life gets in the way of simple. Life is complicated.
Or perhaps we make life complicated.
Crossing into my fourth decade on this wild ride is driving me to
drink determine the Tao of the Dude.
What are the rules I live by? What are my guiding principles?
If we don’t consciously determine our personal Tao (Way) than outside forces will determine the Way for us. I have let this happen far too often in my 40 years.
I need a simple framework to create a simple Tao. A Way that is easy to apply from sun up to sun down, through thick and thin.
One foundation that has caught my attention recently is the idea that life is a game. A simple mindset that adds a layer of fun to the ups and downs of the daily grind and switches the focus from survival to strategy.
This cool cat Oliver Emberton wrote a great post outlining his view of life as a game.
I’ll let you jump to the post for the full monty, but a few highlights…
I dig this simple framework to maintain focus on the important strategies of a “successful” (IE happy) life.
But there is room for this framework to grow, to deepen, to expand to life’s nuances.
If life is a game, what game is it?
Nintendo Gameboy was glued to my hand in 7th grade, and Tetris was my weapon of choice.
Are you aware that a rocket blasts off if you hit 100,000 points in the original Tetris?! You need to be dedicated to see that rocket. I was.
I wasn’t aware I was building the Tao of the Dude with each block I rotated into perfect position. But in hindsight, a life strategy was slowly taking off.
This great post by Tor Bair adds the next layer to our life is a game framework…
Our first inclination may be to view life as a game of chess where we agonize every move to vanquish our foes. But life is much more fluid than chess, and our most formidable opponent is the person we were yesterday not an enemy across the table.
Highlights to ponder:
Play to play. Enjoy the game. Keep it simple.]]>
The road less traveled can be challenging. But it also offers great opportunity.
I recently discussed our new path with Awesome Mack :
Definitely a road with few travelers.
Making sense of this new reality is no small task. Missed expectations can be a bitch. Your vision moves one way, but reality jolts another.
Attachment to those missed expectations is a disservice. To you AND the new reality.
Disabilities don’t meet expectations. Screw expectations. Find the gifts.
Mack is not what we expected. He’s exactly what we need.
Embrace the rare. Be patient. Maintain perspective. Pay attention to NOW.
One of our methods to embrace our new reality is to talk about it. We want to draw attention to SATB2. We want to share with parents that may be on a similar path. We need to process the thoughts swirling in our heads.
In addition to firing words at the page here on DKB, we’ve also been selected to contribute to The Mighty – a great special needs blog that boasts the tag lines:
“Real People. Real Stories. We face disability, disease, and mental illness together.”
And has a mere 125 MILLION readers.
Sweet, right? Yeah, we’re excited too.
You can find our first contribution here:
Unfortunately, meditation is a habit that fades for many. Too much thinking. Too much sitting. Not enough Zen.
Good news. Your Monkey Mind is easy to tame, and it’s as simple as breathing.
Love this dude.
Mingyur Rinpoche – a Buddhist master – explains how to train your Monkey Mind and create an easy meditation practice – anywhere, at any time.]]>
“Be the expert.”
A platitude I’ve echoed in my head as I venture into uncharted territory.
My general lack of direction over the years has created ample opportunity for this self-talk.
But I’ve never qualified as an expert. Always onto the next horizon before my “10,000 hours” arrived.
Then I became a dad.
The fit was precise. Love, purpose, direction – the missing ingredients I never knew were missing.
The search for meaning (conscious or unconscious) was over. I knew my path to 10,000 hours – be the best dad I could be.
I didn’t really need to be an “expert.” I just needed passion.
When actual experts confirm that I am the expert – not by choice, but by necessity – the implications are profound.
Almost two and a half years ago, The Mrs. and I shared an update about Awesome Mack – developmental milestones had been missed and the search was on for a cause behind those missing milestones.
That search has led us down a path with developmental specialists, neurologists, geneticists, dental exams, ex-rays, MRI’s, sight tests, hearing tests, PT, OT, speech therapy, blood tests, genetic tests …and ultimately THE ANSWER.
Never heard of it? You’re not alone.
Mack was the 53rd diagnosed case of this genetic syndrome – in the world!
But the numbers are growing. We see new members added to the FaceBook support group on a regular basis. Genetic tests are improving, and SATB2 is making waves (ripples?) in the genetic community.
What may have once been categorized as Autism (Mack was almost diagnosed), may have deeper genetic meaning.
Public Service Announcement: If you know a child – perhaps diagnosed with autism? – with no speech and some crazy teeth, a genetic test is probably worthwhile.
What to do with a SATB2 diagnosis?
Become the expert.
With so few diagnosed cases, the parents are the experts. We are the living lab. The doctors defer to the parents.
To begin, we have become very good at expounding the SATB2 highlights:
It feels cold to discuss statistics, characteristics, and cases. But that’s what experts do, and that’s the world we’ve been thrown into.
A technical mindset is a must to navigate the medical, educational and financial aspects of a lifelong march into uncharted territory. We need to work within large, established bureaucracies, and we need to fight for our needs. We need to speak their language. We need to be the expert.
But that technical mindset doesn’t change the fact that this group paving the way into uncharted territory is full of children, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, Grandparents, and friends. People.
We’re not just cases and numbers lumped into studies. We are the experts, but we are also the emotions that lie beneath the surface. Our determination creates a suit of armor difficult to penetrate, but our love for those we fight for keeps us vulnerable.
A paradox that can be difficult to manage.
Finding the SATB2 answer has removed a small piece of hope – hope that things could all of the sudden be “normal.” Perhaps hope is overrated.
More important than hope, knowledge gives us the will to fight for what we believe in. The determination to overcome the odds. The courage to march into uncharted territory.
The strength to be the expert.
Where does Jasper Mack fall into all of this? Speechless.
We may not seem like experts. We may not act like experts. But when it comes to SATB2, we are the undisputed experts. And our expertise is growing daily.
Why us? Why Mack?
Natural questions, but not worth the energy. No one has the answer, and the answer doesn’t matter.
This is our world. This is our fight. This is our Mack.
Our family is exactly the way it should be. Mack is exactly who he should be and exactly where he should be. We are stronger, better people because of Mack.
I relish the opportunity to be the expert that I need to be.
Update: Mom & Dad interview…
PS – It’s funny how life gives you what you need when you need it. Coincidence? Synchronicity?
While you wrestle with that conundrum, check out the trailer for an ABC show called Speechless. A great view of being the expert. We can relate…]]>
Conspiracy theories abound.
More importantly, conspiracies abound.
Everyone is selling the idea they believe in.
But does anyone actually “know?” I mean reaaaalllllly know.
And I think we’re all guessing. At just about everything.
We talk like we know. We discuss “facts” as if they are factual. We try to fool ourselves into believing we know.
But we don’t…
Universe came from the Big Bang?
Oil comes from dinos that died to give us Netflix?
Oh look, here’s a man-made structure that’s 47,600 years old!
Yeah, but hunter-gathers were still just roaming chasing food 10K years ago, right?
At least we know how our current worldview was created – like money and debt…
We reaaaalllly don’t know. And that’s awesome.
Life is wide open. One big treasure hunt.
Be open. Be aware. Be ready to learn from anyone at any time.
But don’t believe the “facts” just because they’re fed to you.
Think for yourself.
Here, I’ll get you started.
You know how to poop, right? Sure…we all do. #2 has been our close compadre all our lives.
But maybe we’ve been doing it wrong…at least since the brainwashing potty-trainers got a hold of us.
Don’t believe me? The below pooping unicorn will make you change your life…and question reality.
If we don’t know how to poop, then what do we know?!]]>