Let’s Stop Dismissing Our Young People (Our Decency May Depend Upon It)

My son recently pointed out how much I break the law. At first, I resisted what he had to say. Eventually, I surrendered to it. And, in doing so, I realized how much young people have to teach us about how far we adults have strayed from the decent, dignified lives we once aspired to, and once tried to inspire them to…

wisdom of children

Photo Credit: Borakovskyy (Bigstock)

I’m driving a lot slower these days.

A month ago, my oldest son Aidan got his driver’s permit. He’s taking Driver’s Ed and he has read The Rules of the Road and he’s learning how to do this whole driving thing by the book. He’s learning about why speed limits exist, and where you should stop at a stop sign, and how to stay precisely in your lane when making a turn. Which means he’s a total pain in the butt when I’m driving.

Because I break the rules all the time.

He points out regularly that I don’t keep my hands at 10 and 2—in fact, I rarely have two hands on the wheel. I pay way too much attention to my phone. If I stop completely at a stop sign at all, it’s at least two yards ahead of it. I treat the speed limit like a speed suggestion. I treat yellow lights like commands to speed up rather than slow down. I treat my blinker like its optional.

I don’t drive according to The Rules of the Road; I drive as if I rule the road.

So, he’s been teaching me how to drive properly again and, I’ll be honest, at first, I dismissed him. At first, I appealed to my driving record—one ticket in twenty-five years and low insurance premiums. Then, I appealed to comparison—other people break the rules worse than I do and at least I don’t look at social media while I’m driving. Finally, I appealed to my age and experience and authority—“You know, Son, The Rules of the Road are one thing but the reality of the road is something else altogether.”

Fortunately, he won’t let me get away with that kind of defensive, dismissive, condescending, authoritarian, patriarchal nonsense.

So, in the end, I agreed it would be best for me to drive according to the actual rules of the road. And yesterday, while I was driving to the grocery story, I was thinking (now that I’m going the speed limit, I have a lot more time to think while driving) about how much better my driving is now that I have surrendered to what he is re-teaching me about the proper ways to drive. And it made me wonder:

How much better would my life be if I let him re-teach me about the proper ways to live?

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Week 46: You Aren’t Here to Be More Happy (You Are Here to Be More You) [Loveable 047]

“Life doesn’t have an easy setting. Remembering who you are isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor. It’s not a pass-fail assignment. The truth is much closer to this: life is like a sieve and everything we do runs through it. If we watch closely, we’ll notice passing through the sieve all those things that aren’t really us. And we’ll notice, captured in the sieve of life, the parts of us that are who we’ve always been.” 

We often confuse our passions and our skills, and this week we unconfuse them. A passion is “something we are extravagantly fond of doing.” That is very different from “something we are extra good at doing.” The former produces meaning in our lives, the latter just…produces. In Episode 47 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk in detail about the difference between passion and skill, how you might get more clarity in differentiating the two, and how that clarity can change your life.

loveable podcast episode 47

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • When you protect the time you have set aside for practicing your passions, you are not being unfaithful to others, you are being faithful to your true self.
  • If we want to be serious about practicing our passions, there will be some good things—people and commitments—which we have to set boundaries on, or let go of altogether.
  • Our skills lead to productivity; our passions lead to peaceful productivity.
  • Our understanding and clarity about our passions never ceases to evolve.
  • Skill doesn’t generate passion; actually, passion is the fuel that bids skill.
  • Don’t let others tell you what you are good at; tell them what you are passionate about.
  • Where skill and passion are both along for the ride, make sure your passion is in the driver’s seat, not your ambition.
  • Passion does not protect you from hardship; but it does give rise to the joy that sustains you through hardship.
  • We fully own our passion when we boldly announce it to our circles of belonging.
  • We don’t become familiar with the many layers of our passions by thinking about them; only by practicing them.
  • Shame will tell you that you have to practice your passion to be worthy; grace will tell you that you get to practice it because you are worthy.

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Week 45: Why the Most Mundane Life Is Sometimes the Most Passionate Life [Loveable 046]

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” –Gustave Flaubert

In Episode 46 of The Loveable Podcast, we are focused on taking the space in your life created by last week’s exercise and doing something a little counterintuitive with it—we are going to build some monotony into it. In other words, we are going to focus on building structure around the practicing of your passions. By the end of this episode, you are going to be more motivated to make a habit of doing the things you love.

loveable podcast episode 46

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • When we quit an activity to free ourselves up to pursue our passions, we are not quitting that activity for a day, nor are we necessarily quitting it forever; we are quitting it for now, for this season in our life.
  • Adventure is made possible by that which is routine.
  • We don’t practice our passion after we overcome all of our fears; we value it enough to practice it in spite of not overcoming all of our fears.
  • The practicing of our passion is built on a foundation of rituals, routines, and rigor that seems very ordinary and unexciting.
  • You can avoid creative blocks by building creative habits.
  • In a busy life, little happens unless it is on the family calendar; put your passion on the family calendar.
  • Make particular time slots in your week sacred, by giving them to your passion.
  • Calendars are like budgets for your time. Where are you spending your valuable time?
  • Practicing your passion always leads to feelings of vulnerability and thus always requires courage; tune in next week for that discussion!

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Why I’m Glad My Daughter Got Kicked in the Face with a Soccer Ball

kids resilience

Photo Credit: golubovy (Bigstock)

Several years ago, when my daughter was five, she played soccer and got kicked in the shin during a game. From the sidelines, judging by her behavior, it seemed like the leg would have to be amputated. We were able to save the leg (with a bag of ice), but she never really recovered emotionally.

She takes after her father in this way.

Eventually, she finished the season and decided she’d rather dabble in extracurriculars with lower odds of getting kicked with a cleat—dance and gymnastics and piano, for instance. However, this autumn, she decided to try soccer again.

The first practice, she looked like Frogger.

She ducked and dodged away from every other player on the field. When the ball came toward her, she turned away from it and hugged herself tightly. She never actually fell onto the grass in the fetal position, but it seemed like it could happen at any moment. She explained that the kids at this level were bigger and she was afraid of getting kicked in the face with the soccer ball. I told her the odds were long that it would ever happen.

Whoops.

By the time our third game rolled around, she’d become less afraid and more aggressive on the field, refusing to back down on defense and inserting herself into the scrum for a loose ball. Her fear appeared to be melting away for good.

Then it happened.

A giant, precociously pubescent fourth grader launched a ball directly into her little third grade face. I didn’t see it happen—I was busy trying to get four players on the sidelines to sit still and quit squirting water bottles at each other. But, when she arrived at the sideline, the evidence was there: a big, rosy welt covering most of her left check. She was in tears, head in hands.

But I’ll be honest, a part of me was glad it happened.

This was her biggest fear about soccer, and you can’t play your best soccer if you don’t know that you will be able to endure your biggest fear. The same is true of life. A good life isn’t one in which we avoid all of the loss and heartache and disappointment and loneliness and rejection and failure of being alive; a good life is one in which we become confident we can survive all that pain.

In life, most of our anxiety comes from fearing the soccer balls that will be kicked in our face, while most of our resilience comes from feeling them.

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Week 44: The Beauty of Becoming a Quitter [Loveable 045]

“Sometimes, life gets too cramped to move in any new direction. Sometimes, the direction we need to go is backward. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to undo the best things we’ve done.”

In Episode 45 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on quitting some of the things we added to our lives before we gained clarity about who we really are. In this way, becoming a quitter can actually make space for the practicing of our passions. By the end of this episode, you will begin to see more clearly a path toward practicing your passions, because you will be planning to clear that path of debris.

loveable podcast episode 45

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • A better definition of a meaningful life: “Any life that, on the whole, reduces the overall collective level of misery on the planet.”
  • Generally, living from our false self adds to the collective level of misery on the planet—it increases loneliness, aggression, and arrogance—whereas living from our soul decreases it, through simple acts of love and acceptance.
  • Quitting things that are not an accurate reflection of your true self is not about impulsively quitting attachments, commitments, and relationships; it is about wisely discerning how you can begin to transform your life over time, while being sensitive to some of the realities you live within.
  • You don’t become who you are; you unbecome who you are not.
  • We wear “being busy” as a status symbol, when, really, it’s probably just a sign that we are living according to a lot of other people’s agendas.
  • We don’t start quitting things because we know exactly where we are going to end up, but simply because we need to move toward being who we actually are.
  • You are never too old to start making time for the practicing of your passions.
  • Wise quitting isn’t about getting rid of stuff that is unpleasant but about eliminating stuff that is unyou.
  • Books mentioned in this week’s episode include Falling Upward by Richard Rohr, Love Does by Bob Goff, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine, and The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey.

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Week 43: Don’t Do Something More Meaningful (Do Something More You) [Loveable 044]

“If you were given permission to simply be more you, what would you do? Start speaking up? Standing up? Standing out? Walking out? Reaching out? Pouring out? Sitting in? Giving in? Giving up? Opening up? To what? Dance lessons? Photography school? Medical school? Dropping out of school? Starting a band? Starting a business? Starting a movement? Dominoes? Why wait? After all, you weren’t created to be successful. You were created to be you.”

In Episode 44 of The Loveable Podcast, we challenge the belief that what we are passionate about doing must make a difference in the world, that it must matter in some particularly measurable way. By the end of this episode, I think you will be more motivated to begin practicing your passions, not because they are one way to be meaningful, but because they are the only way to be truly you.

loveable podcast episode 44

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • A sense of meaning is not the reason for practicing our passions; it’s the byproduct of practicing them.
  • We don’t make a difference by trying to make a difference; we make a difference by becoming different, by becoming someone free to live out our true selves by doing the things we love to do in the world.
  • Meaning doesn’t flow from trying to be meaningful; it follows from faithfully practicing our passions and letting the meaning take care of itself.
  • The unique thing about practicing a passion is that the failures you experience while practicing it are worth it.
  • If people’s responses to our passions are a motivation for practicing them, we will almost never get started.
  • Encouragement of our passions may come from unexpected quarters; that is one way we gain increased clarity about our circles of belonging.
  • We don’t practice our passions because we think they will matter—we practice them in spite of the fact they probably won’t matter.
  • Growing up isn’t about becoming more mature; it’s about becoming more you.
  • Practice your passion not to get results, but regardless of the results.
  • Every time we practice our passion we need to ask, is my true self practicing this today, or my false self?

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This Is Why Your Definition of Success Might Be Keeping You Stuck (And Here’s a Better Definition)

success stuck

Photo Credit: soupstock (Bigstock)

One morning, I won a bunch of gold medals on my first try.

When I ride my bike, I use a social app, which tracks your route, distance, speed, and other metrics. Usually, other riders have created “segments” along your route—specific stretches of road or path in which your time is recorded and then ranked against your past rides.

On the day of the gold medals, I was bored with my typical routes, so I chose a new route with new segments, and I began. My legs felt heavier than usual, and the humid late-summer air was thick in my lungs. It was clear from the outset that this morning would be a long, slow, slog of a ride. So, when I finished the route and looked at my results I was, at first, incredulous.

Four segments. Four gold medals.

Then, as the dawn turned into day, it slowly dawned on me: it had been my first time riding this route, my first time completing these segments. So, no matter how badly I performed, it was my best performance of all time. At first, this was exceptionally unsatisfying. But then I realized why it was so unsatisfying:

My definition of success is all messed up.

My definition of success has to do with being the best, rather than being determined. My definition of success emphasizes conquests instead of courage. My definition of success focuses on the completion of projects, and it neglects the bravery required to begin them.

What if the first time we do something is always our best performance, regardless of how we perform, because getting started always requires the best kind of courage?

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Week 42: Don’t Try to Be More Extraordinary (Try to Be More Human) [Loveable 043]

“Yes, the extraordinary is a gift some of us receive at rare, fleeting moments. But our humanity is the ordinary gift we are, all of us, always receiving all the time.”

In Episode 43 of The Loveable Podcast, we are once again tackling the voice of shame, which undermines the practicing of our passions by convincing us that those passions must feel extraordinary, look extraordinary, and produce extraordinary results. By the end of this episode, you are going to be closer to discerning a path forward for yourself that looks ordinary and beautiful.

loveable podcast episode 43

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Awareness of our passions doesn’t happen in a moment of epiphany; it dawns slowly, like a sunrise.
  • We don’t build resilience, self-esteem, and identity through uninterrupted success, but through failures that we learn how to survive.
  • Quit chasing an extraordinary life; embrace your ordinary one, and discover a better kind of extraordinary.
  • When we embrace our worthiness, our shame doesn’t die; it goes into hibernation until we begin embracing our passions, then it wakes up and tells us our passions must be extraordinary to be pursued.
  • There is a simple joy in practicing our passions, not necessarily an extraordinary accomplishment.
  • Embracing the ordinariness of life might not mean you will do something different with your life, but it will mean that you do it differently.
  • When someone tries to shame your passion, responding with compassion for the shame out of which their condemnation arises can disrupt the cycle of aggression.
  • Even when you’re hiding your passion from the public eye, the voice of shame within you is watching and ready to discourage you with a reminder of how extraordinary you “should” be.
  • Real success is not excitement about what you’ve done but contentment about who you are.

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Week 41: How Five Senseless Days Could Make Sense of the Rest of Your Days [Loveable042]

In the words of Frederick Buechner, “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

In Episode 42 of The Loveable Podcast, we are focused on cultivating a healthy sense of urgency, not by becoming more aware of what we aren’t living, but by becoming increasingly aware of what we are already living, and how precious this one chance life really is…

loveable podcast episode 42

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Each time you journey through the three acts of your story—worthiness, belonging, and purpose—what you discover about each of them will be different, more challenging, and more rewarding.
  • A passion may look like it changes over time because we are in different stages of life that produce different insights about it, but really, as we grow, we just discover new angles on it, and a more complete vision of it.
  • Our thoughts usually revolve around a sense of scarcity; our senses usually reconnect us to a sense of abundance.
  • Most of us have multiple passions, and at times, they may feel incompatible with each other. That’s okay. Learning how they can co-exist is part of the journey.
  • Accomplishment is often incompatible with presence; attention to doing is often incompatible with attention to being.
  • Paraphrase of a great quote: “We cannot be grateful for all things; but we can be grateful in all moments.”
  • Mindfulness requires patience with oneself; while you learn mindfulness, you also learn patience.
  • Oftentimes, “success” is a painkiller in disguise.  True success is being connected with one’s true self and living in alignment with it.

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School Is Back in but It Was Never Really Out (and This Is Why That Matters)

back to school parenting

Photo Credit: yarruta (Bigstock)

It’s nearing the end of summer vacation, and I’m out of ideas.

For my kids, ages eight and ten and fourteen, the early thrills of summertime have lost most of their thrill. Riding fast on a bike has turned into riding sweaty on a bike. Free time to read what they want has turned into free time to read Big Nate for the hundredth time. Sleeping in has turned into, well, sleeping in and then waking up to nag your siblings.

It’s all wearing a little thin for everyone.

So, on a Friday afternoon, I tell them we’re going to do an experiment, and if they choose to participate, there is ice cream in their near future. I tell them each to grab a piece of paper and a pencil. I grab a book, and out the door we go.

We drive to a local park, which sprawls out along a river floating by at the same languid pace that everything else seems to be moving during these dog days of summer. We choose our places on a bench, in the grass, and on a tree stump. The kids are itching with curiosity about what we are here to do.

When I tell them, they stop acting curious and start acting furious.

We are going to do a ten-minute breathing meditation, I am going to do a poetry reading, and then we are each going to write our own poem. Surprisingly, my oldest and youngest surrender quickly. The middle child resists but then gives in, angling more for ice cream than for peace. But, whatever. I’ll take it.

After ten minutes, I read the poem. It is from Mary Oliver’s Red Bird, and it is entitled, “Mornings at Blackwater.”

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