Clubber Lang and the unexpected day

6 10 2011

Ever since I decided to make the great leap away from the safe shores of day job and dive in the mighty current of self employed…ness, I have found myself filled with this amazing energy. It oscillates between blissful creative excitement and unfettered monetary panic. Most of the time, I am easily able to practice what I preach and coach myself into a better emotional space if panic sets in. Today however, my anxiety treated me exactly as I did my high school gym coach when he tried to motivate me to try any other exercise than freestyle sulking.  (Which, l lettered in) It smiled politely, shook its streaked hang-bang over its eyes and then flipped me off.  I spent my breakfast trying not to rush over to my computer to check craigslist for a job. Which I know, (from other stressful moments) would only generate more stress.

one half of what is needed for a rough day

Yes, today was one of those days that, I’m convinced, inspired the birth of both the chocolate croissant and chili cheese tater tots. Neither of which, are low carb. I reluctantly forced myself out of the house with my walking shoes on, and by the end of my powerwalk, I did manage to change my state and motivate myself to go out and do some face to face promotion.  I showered, man-scaped, got my meet and greet clothes on, and headed out with flyers and business cards in hand.  As I walked towards my first target, I started to become aware that I had the beginnings of a migraine forming behind my right eye.  This mini-graine grew steadily as I made my way from store to store and opportunity to opportunity.  By one o’clock, I had done pretty damn well despite the insistent hammering that Clubber Lang was doing on my optic nerve.

I pity your head, fool!

So far, I had heard, “put the flyer up there” ,“sure, I’ll come”, “great, I’ll be there” ,and finally “yes, and I’ll drag my husband along”.  Feeling good about myself, I reasonably chose to get gas, head home and see if I could get Clubber to hit the showers.  At the gas pump, as the meter was spinning up an obscene number for 10 gallons of gas, a big black SUV pulled up to the pump adjacent to mine and out stepped a busy, but cheerful Gen X parent.  I thought, “this would be a great moment to practice my cold approach, if only I didn’t have this stupid headache.”  Then a voice, calm and collected asked me a solid coaching question, “What would you do if you could not fail?”


Damn it, I was trapped.  I ended up having a 10 min conversation with this parent of four.  “We will definitely be there, and I think my husband would agree

that we could benefit from coaching.”  I (quietly) celebrated on the drive home,while trying not to vom from the Rocky III beating my brain was taking.

“Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus .”

Three advils , a bath and a 30min nap later Clubber was done.  As I sat in the after migraine glow/stupor, my wife came into my office literally jumping for joy and exclaimed, “I just won $500 in groceries from Trader Joes!”   Man, that is around a month’s full of groceries, at a time when money is really tight. As we were celebrating, the phone rang, it was a friend that I hadn’t talked to in like 14 years.

By friend I mean, great friend and mentor whose love and honesty changed the course of my life. This person, whom we shall call G called me today after 14 years to say that she had seen my website and was amazingly proud of me.  As we caught up, she said, “even though it is hard and scary, this is the perfect work for you to be doing. “ And that’s Jenga, just what I needed to hear at just the right time.  Tonight as I was taking the trash out, I looked up at the Boss, and thought, “You, my man, are totally a class act.”


Building an awesome day.

4 10 2011

Cheaper than prozac.

Lately, I have been upgrading my habits a bit, nothing huge,  just tweaking my operating system to a more forty year old friendly interface.Little things like taking my melancholy for a walk rather than out for a Monster Taco, or choosing to acknowledge that I am a little annoyed rather than making threatening remarks to the security camera at the ATM. As part of this retooling, I have started to take myself for a 45 min power walk in the mornings.Not that kind of Power walk, not the Dan Ackroyd penguin waddling to the sounds of DEVO kind.

Too much gold here.

I mean a fast paced walk where I tell the Boss ( not Springsteen but close) how absolutely f-ing stoked I am about being alive, healthy and in an amazing relationship. I get myself all revved up about my life then I remind myself what my goals are and how I will work towards them during the day. It is like spinning up the hyperdrive and then feeding coordinates. It really makes me feel motivated.

So yesterday, as I was walking, I told myself in no uncertain terms that I was going to find or create opportunities to increase my coaching practice. By told I mean, Charlton Heston on the mountain, two tablet holding commanded my subconscious to get off of its sub-ass and help me make something happen.

Thou shalt carry a firearm to church!

I got home took a shower and made one phone call. By the end of the day I had booked a workshop, a monthly parent skills group and a gig at an local event doing hourly group coaching sessions. (Cue the lightening crack and the fleeing toga clad extras)

I had so much momentum that at the grocery store I attempted the dreaded cold approach. For those who don’t know, the cold approach is walking up to an unknown but potential client and giving them your pitch and business card. This can be a very risky maneuver, if handled wrong you can get anything from a defensive glare eye blast to the awkward slow monosyllabic withdraw. I usually don’t try this approach as I get so nervous that they will be offended that I stammer and apologized in advance, like so much Woody Allen.

Not an inspiring parent figure.

But not yesterday, both times (yes twice) the parent was super excited to talk about coaching and took a few of my cards for friends. This is for me is the equivalent of a turnaround jumper from the three point line. The closest I ever came to that was almost sinking one for the other team in seventh grade.

I highly recommend this to my fellow under motivated Gen X adults. I’m not the only 30 to 40 something to have felt the pang of shame when we are referred to as the slacker generation. However, if you look at the top grossing movies made by some of our peers, there seems to be a common story of the grown up child trying to find his or her responsibility. (That’s right Apatow, I’m calling you to the mat) I know for me motivating myself to start a career took having and raising a child.

Think fast Byrd Turd!

I was pretty settled into painting signs and playing videogames until then. But I digress, If you choose to try this routine, I guarantee that you will get a little out of it, my high school gym coach would say, “exactly as much as you put into it.” Then he would throw the basketball at me.

Soapbox Time!

2 10 2011

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will all tell you that I get really excited about new things.  Some would politely call me

Not worth the accident.

Sanguine, others would (and have) said, “do you think anything that doesn’t come out of your mouth?” You know who you are, and I am still sorry for almost making you wreck your car over Azaleas. You gotta admit it was a BIG bush.

Suffice to say, I have a somewhat over enthused response to certain stimuli, like seeing Ziggy Marley at WonderCon. I like this part of my nature, I see it as unconsciously throwing little surprise parties for my inner child.

Total comic book geek.

However, I have become aware, in the past few years, that it is not always necessary or appropriate to interrupt a conversation because someone is wearing a H.R. Puffinstuff t-shirt or there is a raga version of “MacArthur Park” playing during dinner.

After getting some really kind feedback about this, I decided it was time to bring a little more awareness to my level of distraction. Ever since I saw StarWars as a child I have had a fondness for new age/ self help stuff, so I started there. I started reading about calming techniques, breathing exercises, mindfulness, Zen, Transcendental Meditation (TM), yada, yada and, yada. I hadn’t realized that there were like hundreds upon hundreds of meditation and calming techniques. Every single religion has its own form or forms of meditation.

Being me, I got really excited about meditating. I eagerly tried as many as I could, not T.M. though because they want literally $2700 to learn it. I am not knocking it,

David Lynch and Russell Brand can afford it.

I just can’t justify spending that kind of cash for meditation. I would try deep prayer for a while, then mindful walking, chanting on the way to work, then creative visualization. What I found was, surprisingly, all of them work. Really, everyone that I tried had an amazing effect on my ability to focus.

Here comes the soapbox, meditation has been studied scientifically since the (surprise) 60’s. In particular, Transcendental Meditation was the subject of a study done in the early 90’s. The study found that having a large number of people meditating 20mins twice a day dropped the crime rate in Washington DC by 20%. A link to the study is at the bottom of the post.

"Om, Doon't taaze mee bro, Om, Doon't taaze mee bro."

Over the years since then, I have had periods where I meditate everyday and periods where I forget for a month or so. It is amazing that I let my practice lapse as meditation totally changes my day. No lie, I do everything better when I remember to practice. Especially Parenting! When I practiced regularly, I was able to remain calm, centered and even playful during the craziest kid dramas. I was like a Jedi,

Child: “AAHHH, I want a Coke tm Slurpee tm!!!!”

Me:  “These are not the treats you are looking for.”

Child:  “These are not the treats I want, may I have Brussels Sprouts instead?”

(This was a dramatic reinterpretation, not a real parenting event. This is in no way intended to represent my actual son or parenting skills.)

So, obviously, and despite the long windedness, I recommend some form of daily meditation. There are many to choose from, and not all are tied to a particular religion, so you should be able to find one in your size and fashion.  Or you can do what I do and try to use them all. (Just like Pokemon tm ) I promise you that you will not regret it.

Soapbox officially put away.

Click to read article on TM study.

A little reading, a lot of understanding.

1 10 2011

I came across this REALLY interesting article today about Gen X parents. Here is a link. I would love to discuss this.

Welcome to parenthood, Gen X (part 2)

30 09 2011

So,  I had my fathering role model and plenty of motivation to power my transformation from loving, cool and pop culture savvy dad to Gregory Peck inspired, awesome, eat your pudding loving heart out Cliff Huxtable, SuperFather!


My head swam with fantasies of long bonding moments and poignant life lessons. As I set out to be more fatherly I realized that I had no idea how to parent like Atticus Finch. I thought about how he talked, his facial expressions, his body language, and his sense of values and I could not apply it to any of the parenting situations at hand. “Patrick, can I have another brownie?” “No son, you see, it’s never ok to kill a mockingbird.” “uh…ok” (munch munch)

Not an all purpose parenting tool.

How was I going to make this thing happen? I new that something had to change in my relationship with my son, because was not content with being a fun dad, and I was definitely not OK with being a strict, overbearing, and emotionally distant father. I wanted to be a good dad. I wanted to know that I was doing my best to create a healthy, happy, responsible,  and conscious young man.

I thought about Atticus Finch, fathering and the times when I learned great and important things from the adults in my life. I realized that it had nothing to do with what they were saying, it was who they were when they weren’t parenting that inspired me. Atiticus Finch was a great parent because he was a great man. He stood up for his values, and taught them to his children not by lecturing , but by following his own integrity daily. The answer was clear, I needed to quit focusing on teaching my son to grow up and start helping me grow up.

"Namaste." "No, its a caterpillar."

I want to be clear that I have always been interested in self discovery and growth. Reading self help books and spiritual texts had been a hobby of mine since my rebellious teen years. Yes, reading spiritual texts is rebellious, if you grow up in a Sunday Catholic household. This insight was different than when I decided to only bow to people instead of shaking hands. (this commitment lasted only one hour, then I ran into a guy who used to pick on me in school. I wasn’t bowing to him)

I wanted to own the qualities that I saw in Atticus Finch not behave like I did. So that day I started on the long and sometimes painful process of sorting through my values one by one to see if I actually valued them at all. Many were not my values, they were just picked up on the way. What happened was remarkable. My relationship with my son started to change. Not overnight, but slowly a little here and a little there we became something more than buddies who could laugh when Brock Sampson killed someone in a particularly skillful way. My relationship with me changed, I stared to feel like a good father. One who painted his nails, regularly.

But I’ll write about Eddie Izzard some other time.


Welcome to parenthood Gen X!

29 09 2011
Hi, welcome to my blog. I have recently started working as a Parent andFamily Coach. As you can imagine in this line of work, I now spend far more time thinking about parenting than I did when my son was growing up. Actually, I thought about it plenty but it was not always pleasant thoughts. Lately as I consider the trials and joys of being one who has “offsprung”,

One listens to the Ants and one uses borax to chase them out of the kitchen.

I find myself in awe that not only am I a parent but I devote my professional life to parenting. The awe factor comes from the feeling that it wasn’t very long agothat I sat listening to The Cure and expounding to my friends about how the human race is over populated and doomed anyway.

I was convinced that not only was I unlikely to produce an heir but that the whole notion of heir-dom was, as Andrew Macarthy put it in “Saint Elmo’s Fire”, “…made up by people who were lucky to make it to twenty without being eaten by dinosaurs.” I was far more interested in eyeliner and worrying if I would ever learn to play the synthesizer like Nick Rhodes to think what I would actually be like as an adult. I don’t think I am alone in this feeling. I’m sure that I am not the only Gen X dad to explain to his son that he probably shouldn’t sing “Dear God” by XTC in class.

Not in Class!

It is strange to feel so close to my teenage years while watching my son go through his. I believe that our generation is probably the first generation to be really unprepared for adulthood. This is evidenced by pop culture. All of the big comedies revolve around mid to late 30 somethings struggling to grow up. All of the big action movies are obviously (and to my delight) being written and helmed by guys who spent their afternoons and Saturday mornings in fantasy land. (looking at you Michael Bay and Christopher Nolan). I don’t think that our child like qualities are bad, quite the opposite.

Not age appropriate

As a parent, I really enjoyed turning my son on to The Cure, Kids in the Hall and many other things that I enjoy. Though to be honest Highlander was probably a bad choice when he was seven. “ You’re going to love it, it has immortals, swords and, oh yeah, beheadings.”

I got to be a good buddy to my son as he grew up, and it was awesome. That is until he made it clear that he didn’t need a buddy. He needed a Father. (insert lost expression) As he grew up, I realized that I had to grow up too, and fast. I quickly tried to figure out how to be a good father, and over did it. This led to power struggles and yelling. And let me tell you, nothing makes you feel like the adult you despised as a teenager than yelling at a 10 year old. This was the reason I didn’t want to grow up in the first place. Yet, there I was, transformed into a loud overbearing dad. I was stuck, I could continue being a cool but ineffective dad or I could change. No, I did not read an amazing parenting book that altered my family forever. I did however, start searching for the perfect father to emulate. Some one I would have wanted to be my dad. I watched men with there kids in public and talked with other dads I encountered. What I saw mostly were men trying really hard to be good dads but falling into the same traps as I was. Like me they would step from being the best buddy a kid could have to the loud tyrant without much middle ground. I was quickly getting discouraged so I changed tactics.

Strong yet lacking humanity.

I scanned the media that I had consumed throughout my life for great fathers. Let’s see, Optimus Prime, strong, caring, and can turn into a semi. I had two out of three. Bill Cosby, fun, caring and likes pudding. OK but no. Darth Vader, No.

Finally by the deductive process I hit upon Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch is probably the greatest dad in literature.

He is kind yet strong, smart yet accessible, and above all chill. Atticus Finch took no shit but never had to raise his voice to prove it. He could set limits with his kids but be totally loving at the same time. That’s an adult I could respect, even if he didn’t paint his nails.

Super Dad!

Continued next week… Patrick

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