I Need a Hug!

hugs-copy

It amazes me how many situations can be instantly diffused when one person (no matter the age) makes the leap to say, “I need a hug!” It can be so hard to get there when you’re in the story of whatever’s got you in a knot.

But not for some kids. Some kids make that leap easily – and I want to learn from them.

Imagine a world where asking for a hug was the first instinct…

  • Car breaks down, AAA can’t find a tow truck for you. Your response? “I NEED A HUG!”
  • Sick in bed with a cold. You’re cranky and start a fight with your honey and snap at the kids. Your next four words? “I NEED A HUG!”
  • Trying on bathing suits in a dressing room with horror show mirrors and garish lighting. Attendant asks if you need anything. Your request? “I NEED A HUG!”

Ooooh. I like it…a lot!

Why are hugs so good? My guess is that you don’t need any empirical evidence to answer this question. It’s a human need to be close. But in case you do, check out 10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day in mindbodygreen.com. Here’s a short list from the article:

  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Create a sense of security
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Boost self esteem
  • Balance nervous system
  • Boost serotonin and oxytocin levels
  • Support bonding

The longer I live the more I’m sure that our needs as adults are pretty much the same as newborn needs. Here’s a beautiful article on Mommypotamus.com about the benefits of skin to skin contact: 7 Health Reasons to Be Skin-to-Skin with Your Baby after Birth

Aren’t we all just strangers in a strange land here as humans on Earth anyway?

Let’s Talk About Not Talking

dumberHad a dream last week about something that’s currently going on in my personal life. I won’t bore you with nonsensical details, but in the dream I was told NOT TO TALK ABOUT the situation for three weeks. Just let it rest…let it cool off for a while. Very specifically, for three weeks. Hugely challenging since it’s the biggest thing going on.

So far, so good. I didn’t speak until I was three. Maybe I can channel my inner toddler.

When we talk about something, we give it power and momentum, keep it alive AND we are blocking other positive schtuff…energy…enjoyment…information…solutions.

I’ll illustrate through a real-world, parking lot example:

Me: (Driving, stopped, looking out window to my left) I can’t believe that guy took my parking spot. He totally saw me waiting here for it!

Passenger: Oh, yeah. That stinks.

Me: (Head still turned) I mean, I was right here. With my blinker on.

Passenger: Uh, Laura.

Me: (Yep, head still turned) Look at him. He can’t even look this way.

Passenger: Laura…

Me: (Not taking my eye off the guy) He totally knows he was in the wrong.

Passenger: Laura!

Me: (Finally turning around) What?!

Passenger: You just missed that other spot that had opened up over there.

Don’t miss out on the good schtuff by talking incessantly about the “bad.” 

Three weeks. Hmm…21 days. Sounds like just enough time to create a new habit.

Lifehack’s Should-Know-How List

eggs

Few things ignite my anxiety more than articles like Lifehack’s 54 Things Everyone Needs to Know How to Do. As if I needed more things to worry about.

Scanning the first 10, I’m at about 30%. (Man, I make a killer fried egg.)

Looking through the full list, I pull in a (better, but still failing) score of 51%.

They lost me at “should.” Should. Should. Should. It’s a dirty 6-letter word. Can’t you just feel your chest tighten when you hear that word? I should have kept going when I saw this article. #1 should be: Know how to take advice articles with a grain of salt.

And it’s not an exhaustive list. I mean, I can think of a few 100 more things that I do know how to do that aren’t on that list, so maybe this list isn’t really that fair.

After taking a cleansing breath and committing to NEVER doing a search that leads me to an article like this again, I can see that there are some good points here – and some items have been on my list for years. Thanks for the reminder, Lifehack.

Now, the tricky part: Not just jumping into action to conquer the remaining 49% of the list like it’s my day job. So, I’ll pick three for 2015: Learn CPR, Know how to roast a turkey and Learn how to sew (using my still-in-the-box Singer).

How about you?

Please send me a message if you’ve mastered 100% of the list. Maybe I can just hang around you all the time and save myself from figuring out my 49%.

Check out my short version of the list below – or go to lifehack.com for the full article.

1. You should know how to start a fire without matches.
2. You should know basic survival skills.
3. You should know how to grow your own vegetables.
4. You should know how to swim.
5. You should know how to change a tire.
6. You should know how to jump start a car.
7. You should know how to code.
8. You should know how to build a website.
9. You should know how to think critically and question the status quo.
10. You should know how to cook an egg (correctly!)
11. You should know how to perform CPR.
12. You should know how to manage your time.
13. You should know how to dress properly.
14. You should know how to approach and meet new people.
15. You should know how to lift your own weight.
16. You should know how to remember peoples’ names.
17. You should know how to give a toast in front of lots of people.
18. You should know how to negotiate.
19. You should know how to detect a lie.
20. You should know how to shut up and listen genuinely.
21. You should know how to tell a good story.
22. You should know how to defend yourself against single and multiple assailants.
23. You should know how to use a credit card correctly.
24. You should know how to invest in the stock market.
25. You should know how to speak at least one or two languages besides English.
26. You should know how to make money (without a job).
27. You should know how to manage your personal finances.
28. You should know how to draw.
29. You should know how to be a respectful house guest.
30. You should know how to keep your computer secure.
31. You should know how to navigate with a map and compass (without a GPS).
32. You should know how to sew.
33. You should know how to travel hack.
34. You should know how to buy a car without getting ripped off.
35. You should know how to be happy.
36. You should know how to fix a bike flat.
37. You should know how to have a conversation with someone of any age.
38. You should know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle.
39. You should know how to back up your data.
40. You should know how to say “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.”
41. You should know how to sing or play an instrument.
42. You should know how to ask for help.
43. You should know how the basics of how to repair a car.
44. You should know how to control your temper.
45. You should know how to show gratitude, write a thank you note.
46. You should know how to parallel park.
47. You should know how to write professionally.
48. You should know how to perform basic first aid.
49. You should know how to give a compliment.
50. You should know the correct way to respond to criticism.
51. You should know how to put together a basic emergency preparedness kit.
52. You should know how to prepare and roast a turkey or chicken.
53. You should know how to use Google efficiently.
54. You should know how to crowd-source opinions from your Facebook friends…Where do you think I got most of the ideas for this article?

Wash Your New Clothes, (Wo)Man!

Wash Clothes First

This handy tip was brought to you by The Wall Street Journal. (They are really expanding their content topics!)

Do you really need to wash new clothes before wearing them?

My mom told me I should. But I don’t always. I used to. I wash the kids’ clothes. Mostly. But then life happens and who has the time? After all, the clothes look so fresh and ready to go.

Yep, “ready to go” with chemicals (buy organic, friends!) and quite possibly little stowaways like lice and bedbugs and any other microscopic creepers that were on the hands of the people who were manufacturing and packaging the clothes.

They had me at L-I-C-E. Now, based on my extensive field research earlier this year (yeah, over Christmas break…awesome), lice can’t survive long without a human host, but who wants to take that chance? Not this senorita.

So scrub those duds. The Wall Street Journal AND MY MOM told you so.

Swearing for Pain Relief?

40-year-old-virgin

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of using “potty” words. But lately, I’m not so sure.

A girlfriend of mine has been going through a hard time. Someone close to her is very sick, with a disease that’s possibly terminal. Out of the blue my friend laughed and said, “We’ve been cursing and it’s helping…a lot!”

Hearing this made me laugh because, like me, she’s squeaky clean and the prospect of her cursing like a sailor is comical.

But she said that it’s actually helping… Cursing is helping to relieve pain. Very curious. It’s impossible for me to connect those two ideas (cursing) (pain relief) without recalling the chest waxing scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin. (Turn the volume down if you’re at work or with the kids. Yep, lots of potty words.)

In the scene, the mild mannered main character Andy (Steve Carrell) lets loose on the esthetician. Like, really loose. Maybe it was scripted. Maybe it was improvised. But I practically cannot breathe because I’m laughing so hard when he yells “Como se llama!” and “Kelly Clarkson!”

Scientists are actually studying the connection between cursing and pain relief. From Greatist.com, and the article’s source links:

Researchers found that study subjects who were allowed to let loose with their language had a higher pain tolerance, less perceived pain, and lower heart rates.

For many people, swearing (cursing) provides readily available and effective relief from pain. However, overuse of swearing in everyday situations lessens its effectiveness as a short-term intervention to reduce pain.

So, in short, if you curse all the time, it’s not going to have the same impact.

But is it really about the cursing? Maybe it’s just the physical, vocal expression of emotion that’s at the heart of it. Or that people who usually don’t curse also usually don’t let loose (in some meaningful way). What if instead of cursing you screamed with the same fervor “I AM REALLY REALLY SUFFERING!”

Not trying to hold it in. Not trying to be brave. But belting it out. Letting loose.

Although, now that I’m reminded of it, I’m kinda leaning towards yelling KELLY CLARKSON!

(Or meditating helps, too.)

Five Mom Wisdoms

IMG_0217 (1)Like many people, I have a mother.

And I am a mother.

And sometimes I wonder (obsess) about whether or not I am being a good mom, and what thing I am doing (screwing up) unwittingly will be my son’s opening line when he walks into his therapist’s office in, say, 15-20 years.

Thankfully, like you, I’m not going through this life on an island and, even if I only pay attention a fraction of the time, wisdom soaks in.

So, here are the five mom wisdoms that quiet the doubts and remind me that I’m working way too hard. Thank you to my beautiful mother and all the moms – and dads and just people in general – who continue to shape us.

Make eye contact and smile. Ok, time to get serious, people. Three years of graduate school in psychology summed up in five words. Making eye contact and conveying love…it outweighs all the other schtuff. I’ve witnessed the lack of it – and the change that can come over a child when they receive it. Transforms the situation, or the mood in a flash. Who doesn’t want to be looked upon with unconditional acceptance and admiration? Without this, we are all screwed.

It’s not what you do, it’s what you do next that counts. So sometimes you’re not your “best self.” Great news! There’s always a next moment. Go apologize, you dumb-dumb. We all mess up. If you’ve gone off the deep end, jump out, dry yourself off and go make amends. Make it right. You would do this with a friend. Why not your child? (Thanks to the awesome relationship coach Kat Kehres Knect for this wisdom – I use it daily!)

You learn something new every day. Yep. Everyone. It’s a proven, scientific fact. (I’m sure. Right?) That means that no only do I have the opportunity to improve upon yesterday, but so do kids. Life is a continuum. This means that the white lie told today does not automatically equate into white collar crime with bail set at $2.2 million.

It’s not your life, Mom. It’s mine. Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow. My son’s life IS NOT mine. I’m his guardian. His teacher. His mentor. His protector. But even at his ripe old age of six, I can see that THIS IS HIS LIFE. (Seriously, I knew that before he was born. The kid has an iron will.) The more I micromanage, the more things get funky. Thanks to Billy Joel for this pearl.

Every moment is a teachable moment, but maybe not by you. Get off the soapbox, Laura. Kids learn through experiences. Not (just) through lectures. I learned when I was seven that stepping on your sister’s foot while you’re wearing an ice skate is a very mean thing to do. Not because she told on me and my parents put me in a time out or lectured me. But because she DIDN’T SAY A WORD. And I thought that was noble and wanted to be like her.

SNŪZNLŪZ – WiFi Donation Alarm Clock

snuznluzYou snooze, you lose! Dinero. Cashola.

The SNUZNLUZ alarm clock connects via WiFi to your online bank account, and donates YOUR real money to an organization you HATE when you decide to snooze!

I’m a big fan, only because I’ve never been a “snooze alarm” person. When I’m up, I’m up. But I know a few people who might benefit (and they will remain nameless).

It’s goodness…but based on avoidance of a negative/badness. I guess that’s still good.