Purposeful Living

As a life coach and co-leader in the online course, Write the Love Letter to your Teenage Daughter, I was sharing my values. I really want to pass on resilience, creativity, and kindness to my children.

Yesterday, I mentioned to CoCo, “See how lonely it is when one of you kids is gone?” (Her twin sister Cate is kayakying in Alaska.)

CoCo agreed.

“You kids are my purpose,” I said.

“How can kids be your purpose? What about people who don’t have kids? They have purpose too.”

“Right. Each person has her own purpose. And purpose — not things or achievements — provides meaning and joy.” I said. “But every one of us has to find her own journey and purpose.”

Am I too obsessed with my own kids? Am I a helicopter parent? It’s no secret I swamp my media channels with pictures of my kids. (And they are not always too happy about it.) I facebrag. I post their pics on Twitter and Instagram.

I can’t help it. I love them. My husband is challenging; my children are challenging — but they give back. Maybe this crazy family is the reason for all of my struggles.

But as my chicks fly the nest — in the coming months, the girls head off to nearly two months of summer camp and my son to college — What is my purpose then?

After my three kids, my purpose has always been my work. I have always been a writer and now am pursuing teaching. Have been having so much fun and meaning teaching at prep schools. I love the kids and the teachers.

Am also loving this recent editing work — connecting with writers, implementing a social justice vision for response magazine.

My main thing is — as my purpose and my focus may shift — I choose to remain intellectually curious, to be kind, to love without condition, and to come at life with a slant of creativity. (Tell all the truth, but tell it slant. – Love Emily Dickinson)

To persist. To pursue.

I guess all of this is why I chose the title, To Pursue Happiness for this blog. It is in the pursuit and not the attainment that we find our purpose. We find our way. (For more on why we choose our titles – check out All about me.)

BTW, happy Father’s Day, to all the dads and men who have mentored, loved, and parented. My husband is an amazing father — full of love.

And for you fathers, I bring you flowers from the Lyndhurst rose garden in Tarrytown, New York. For more flowers, visit my Pinterest Flower Board.







Iron Man Ignored the Kid

The iron man and us
The iron man and us (Photo credit: Bev Goodwin)

I love summer blockbusters. I also love French films and independent films and basically any kind of films (though, true fact: I have never seen an X-rated movie, unless flipping around and catching Robin Byrd on cable counts!)

I just love losing myself to the dark of any movie theater.

But something kept rattling in my brain after seeing Iron Man 3. I was disturbed by the way Iron Man treated the kid who had rescued him. He totally ignored the kid.

Iron Man seemed to think a dark roomful of toys/tech equipment could replace the presence of a loving adult.

See, the kid in the movie had been abandoned by his dad, and no surprise, when Iron Man showed up, the kid assumed he was a dad figure. And when the superhero needed help, the kid was helpful. (This is not a spoiler. I think it’s fairly obvious that the kid will be useful to Iron Man.)

iron man 3But then the kid was not rewarded for being there for this father figure. In the end, the only thing the boy received was all kinds of digital devices for him to tinker with. This is his reward?!? The kid needed a frozen yogurt with the dad figure, or a picnic in the park, or, yes, the proverbial, game of catch.

In this room of tech equipment, the product placement of FiOS plastered all over the huge flatscreen TV was jarring and obscene. I was totally taken out of the movie and felt I’d landed in a stupid commercial.

So the message on this Father’s Day weekend seems to be: you want to be a good father? Buy your kid off, get them tons of tech stuff so they can play alone in a dark room. And then you can retire, alone yourself, in your own dank and dark digital kingdom. That’s Hollywood.

This is relevant to my life right now because my son is being punished (I won’t go into the details). And his tech equipment is taken away. He is clueless as to how to survive. I’ve suggested fro yo, a picnic, or a game of catch. But like Iron Man, our superhero, he’d rather be alone with his devices than outdoors with his friends or dad or sports or, even, ice cream.

I find this choice sad — not nearly as thrilling or active as an action film or life could be.

Stronger in the Broken Places

Chris loves to watch the kids play sports, especially Hayden on the Little League field. He loves to teach them cards.

The Parkinson’s Disease makes some typical Dad things difficult, but he does them any way. He never says, “I can’t.”

He loves to cook, and he is a slow cooker.

His ability to show his love is slow too. He can’t help it.

Can any of us help who we are or what we get? I try to remember this when my husband falls asleep when I’m talking to him or walks away in the middle of a conversation. He leaves a mess worse than Linus in his wake. He refuses to leave his computer chums for real-life friends.

I try to remember who Chris used to be. I try to remember the quick flick of his wrist on the tennis court, the persistent phone calls to place our kids into pre-school, the lover of literature, the smooth dancer at the Broadway show’s after-party. He is still all of these things, but they are slower to show themselves.

I lean on and love other dads too. They might not even know how much I need them — my kids’ uncles, grandpa, friends. I lean on these father figures so my kids get the attention, love, support they need.

Fathering (and parenting) takes a village. Sometimes I feel I should do it all alone. Or I feel that that there is only this one person or one way to be a family. Or I feel I shouldn’t reveal our/my weaknesses.

But we are stronger in our broken places (I think that’s a book title). The shoulder bone Hayden broke when playing baseball is stronger at the point of its break, which happened to be the growth plate.

When we lean on one another, we are stronger. We reinforce the growth plate.

By remembering why we love someone and getting over the frustration of that challenge (if possible), there is an ease and a deep gratitude. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always anti-depressants.

I’d like to write more about this but I have to go and make a Father’s Day breakfast. I have to call my own father and say, Thank you!