The S.T.U.C.K. Method

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on RESPONDING AUTOMATICALLY

We all do it.

Someone…

a family member, a neighbor, a child…

Says something that just irks you to the core.

And you respond.

Automatically.

Because you, I, are just stuck

On responding…

On reacting…

automatically.

Which ultimately tends to leads us to places we’d rather not be in.

And, yet, somehow, we feel powerless over that gut, knee-jerk reaction…

As if we have no control over it.

Yet, we do.

*****

Over this past week, I came to realize the enormous value in the letter “S” of the acronym “S.T.U.C.K.”

STOP.

Just STOP.

So when your family member, or neighbor, or child,

says something to you that irks you to the core,

you will just pause.

And in that moment, something may potentially happen.

Perhaps the pause will allow them to realize that their words were:

misdirected,

misguided,

obnoxious,

arrogant,

disrespectful

out of context,

hurtful,

or just plain rude

OR

Perhaps the pause will allow you to realize that their statement wasn’t meant to be

misdirected,

misguided,

obnoxious,

arrogant,

disrespectful

out of context,

hurtful,

or just plain rude.

You see, the simple pause may allow for endless possibilities.

The chance for the other person to realize his/her mindless speech.

The chance for you to not get resentful or angry.

The chance for compassion.

The chance to find some truth (some truth!) in what was said.

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Either way, we must not underestimate the power of pausing.

At the minimum, it could save a conversation.

At the maximum, it could save a relationship.

As Mark Twain said, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

*************

So, how do we do this?

How do we incorporate pausing into our lives, when the most natural instinct we have as humans is to respond?

By purposefully stopping on a regular basis.

Call it what you may: stopping, sitting, meditating.

It doesn’t matter.

It’s just the intentional practice of forcing ourselves to stop,

each day,

for a predetermined amount of time.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.

And, it’s value is way overlooked.

You should try it.

And, before you dismiss this invitation,

STOP.

And, in that space,

see what arises.


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STUCK on LIFE

IMG_20140114_072605The dog is gone.

After rescuing him from being abandoned, we strove to find the puppy a new home.

We posted on Facebook.

We put ads on 2 Israeli “for sale/for free” websites.

We offered the dog to each person that we bumped into in our community.

And, we even spoke with new potential dog owners (via new contacts in Israel thanks to some of you).

To no avail.

After 2 weeks of hard work and effort, the few leads that we had didn’t come through.

And we were left with the decision that we never wanted to face.

Sending the dog to the pound.

In other words, ending its life.

We knew we gave it our best effort.

We also knew that we couldn’t keep the dog.

So, we made the decision tonight.

And called the dog catcher this evening and told him to come first thing in morning.

*****

As my daughter and I were on the way out the door to a “mother/daughter pre-Bat Mitzvah gathering” in a nearby community, my husband suggested we take the dog with us.

“You never know.  Maybe one of the other girls there will want to take him home.”

My daughter and I deliberated over the idea, but chose just to take him anyway.

What could we lose?

And, indeed one of my daughter’s friends fell in love with the puppy and decided to take him home this evening.

And, her mom agreed.

A happy ending.

I called the dog catcher and cancelled the “appointment” for the pick-up.

******

All of us are thrilled.

We are relieved.

We are happy that this dog will now have a good home, a loving home, a happy home.

Yet, don’t think for one minute that over the course of this “ordeal” it didn’t cross my mind once that I was “stuck”.

Stuck on life.

Stuck on life?

Could there be such a thing?

How would anyone be anything but stuck on life?

*****

Certainly there must have been other people who would have not shown an ounce of care for this dog’s life, so why were we so stuck on saving it?

I mean, really.  It was just a dog.

And, yet, we were stuck there, fearing his loss of life and holding onto any last bit of hope for his survival.

We were stuck on what it would mean for us, as human beings, to so easily turn our heads to saving a life.

We were also stuck on pity for the dog.

He certainly couldn’t have done much harm in this world.  Why should he deserve to die at such a young age?

******

It had me thinking.

Could I have considered a different perspective?

Could I have been not stuck on life?

Should I have been?

Even though the Torah commands us to “Choose life”?

And, what does that mean essentially?

*****

In life, we’re not the controllers of our or others’ life destinies.

So, perhaps sometimes we should learn how to and when to just let go of a life, because essentially, it’s not in our hands.

Even though we tend to want to believe it is.

And, even though we act like we are in control.

When we really aren’t.

As in the words of the L’cha Dodi (welcoming the Sabbath prayer): סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה (Sof ma’aseh b’machshva tchila) –

“Whatever happens has been planned ahead of time.”

(Just like the Sabbath was created on the 7th day of creation, but was planned ahead of that time).

So, perhaps, if the story had gone a different way…

If the dog hadn’t been transferred over to the home of this lovely girl….

If the dog catcher had come tomorrow morning…

Perhaps I would have realized that I shouldn’t feel defeated.

But, rather at peace.

That what was happening at that very moment was meant to happen.

And, as much as I was stuck on saving his life, perhaps I would have been more wise to simply surrender and accept.

****

All I know is that in this story, we chose to save a life.

And, we did.

And that’s what was meant to happen.


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STUCK on PUPPY LOVE

Interestingly (or obviously?), all of my blog posts so far have been about being stuck on what would be considered negative emotions: disappointment, frustration, anger, etc.

I have yet to write one post about being stuck on what would be considered a positive emotion.

Well, here I am…

Stuck on puppy love.

Four days ago, my oldest son noticed a puppy, alone and shaking in the rain, next to the pre-schools on the kibbutz.

Everyone around us was wondering who the puppy belonged to.

But, no one knew.

My son asked if we could take him home.

Yes, I told him.  We could take him home, give him food, and start to put out ads to look for the owner.

So, I did.

Not only did I write to the community google group and put an ad on the community Facebook page, I practically asked every person that I passed if they were interested in adopting the dog.

To no avail.

“I already have a dog.”

“My house is too small.”

“I don’t like dogs.”

“I don’t want the responsibility.”

And, in the meantime, we all got attached.

Stuck.

On puppy love.

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And, the puppy apparently got stuck on us.

And, the knitted blankets that his “Bubbe” made.

And, his stuffed animal friend called, “Hugh”.

And, one slipper passed on from his cousin named, “Amit.”

Yes, we were one big  happy family.

As if we’ve been like this forever.

I woke up early each morning to open the door to let him “do his thing”.

My two youngest children would wake up minutes after, get dressed quickly, and meet us outside to play before going to school.

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My older children (taking longer to wake up in the mornings), would then join the crowd once we came back inside.

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And, I have to admit, this dog is adorable.

And everyone in the house seemed somewhat happier with the dog around.

For so many reasons:

He’s not barking.

He’s totally loyal.

He’s an incredibly appropriate size for my youngest child (who probably needs a younger sibling anyway, and won’t be getting one as far as I know!!).

My husband loves dogs.

So, do I.

(Well, not all dogs, but most.)

And well, he’s following us all around like a little puppy!

Yes, one big happy family.

One big stuck family.

What about all the responsibility that comes along with the dog?

And, the attention it needs? (We already have 4 kids, each of whom feels like they don’t get enough attention.)

And, the training?

And, the vaccination shots?

And, the trips to the vet?

And, the purchasing of the food.. and collar… and other special dogs accessories?

And picking up the dog poop?  (Yes, we would be unique dog owners in our community for that reason.)

And, finding someone to take care of the dog when we go away.

And, caring for the dog if it gets sick (and yes, dogs do get ill).

Are we ready for this again?  (We had a dog a few years ago who got sick quite quickly, and you can say we kind of lost steam with her.)

Do we really want this?

Or, are we just stuck on this momentary feeling of love.

Considering all of this (and with the help of a good friend), our perspective changed.

We’re not ready for a dog.

We’re not ready for the commitment.

We’re not ready for “until death do us part.”

Not now, at least.

Maybe in 20 years when they kids are out of the house.

But certainly not now.

******

It’s like choosing anything in life.

We must choose things proactively and mindfully.

And not choose out of emotions only.

Just like choosing to have a child.

And, while no one has yet to show interest in adopting this dog, and as much as I may not like the alternative (giving the dog to a pound in which the dog may eventually be put to sleep if no one claims it), the choice has been made and the dog is going to go.

And, my kids know and accept this.

And, once the dog leaves, we’ll hold on to the few memories that we have.

And, some photos.

And the realization that even love can be a force that leads to getting stuck in the moment.


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STUCK on SOLO YOGA

Ever since I moved to Israel, I haven’t taught much yoga like I did while living in the United States.

When I lived in New Jersey, I taught several classes a week in yoga studios and health centers for groups of anywhere from eight to 25 people.

It has been about four years since I’ve taught a regular yoga class.

And for me, that’s like being a fish out of water.

The reason I haven’t taught a yoga class in four years is because I didn’t have a space conducive to teaching classes.

There were no public buildings on the kibbutz and my home is too small to accommodate people for a yoga class.

After four years of waiting, a new youth hall was built which gave me the chance to get back into teaching.

This building contains a large all-purpose room (perfect for teaching a yoga class to up to 20 people) and three small classrooms (for teaching up to six students). People in the community had previously expressed interest in a yoga class, so it was a no-brainer for me to start one immediately.

I chose a night of the week to teach and advertised it to the community.

On the night of the first class, I arrived early, heated up the large all-purpose room (expecting at least ten people to show up), set the ambience with candles, put on relaxation music, and waited.

But, only my husband and one other woman showed up.

And that was it for the night.

I managed to not get stuck on disappointment, recognizing it was the middle of the winter and people have a hard time leaving their cozy homes at night.

But, I stopped and close my eyes for a moment.

Nonetheless, teaching to a class of two in a space that can fit 20 made me feel sad.

And I told myself that.

The space felt empty, my energy lost.

I didn’t mention this to the woman or my husband, but concerned that neither would return for another class. I was certain they also suffered from a lack of ambience.

I uncovered my beliefs.

As a practitioner, I’ve always felt ambience to be a signficant factor in whether or not I enjoy a yoga class.

When I dug even deeper, I realized an empty room represented more to me. True or not, an empty room meant I wasn’t a good enough teacher to fill it. Or so I thought.

A good yoga teacher would be able to fill up the big room.

And have lots of students.

And I only have a few.

Which means people don’t like my classes.

And if people don’t like my classes, then what am I doing teaching yoga in the first place?

I took a few breaths before I walked into my house.

I knew these beliefs weren’t 100% accurate.

I considered to remind myself I had a great reputation as a yoga teacher back in New Jersey.

And that I could teach in the small room instead of the all-purpose room. After all, teaching in a small room does not reflect who I am as a teacher.

In fact, I considered teaching in a small room could create a more intimate space, a space where the students would feel more attention from me than they would in a large space where energy is lost.

And that teaching in a small room could create more physical warmth on these cold nights.

I got stuck on disappointment, but it’s OK.

The following week, I welcomed my two students into the small room with a renewed sense of love, presence and optimism.

 

 


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STUCK on NOT ENOUGH!

If you don’t already know, I’m a fan of yoga.

A big fan.

Not only have I and continue to teach yoga to adults, children, pregnant women, business people, travelers (and more), I practice (or at least aim to) yoga each morning.

You see, for me as a mother of 4, I find that the morning is the sweetest and most precious time of the day.

There really isn’t any other time of the day like the morning is for me.

Especially at 5:30.

When it’s quiet.

And peaceful.

And there’s no one around to bother me because everyone is sleeping (typically until 7:00 am).

So, this is when I practice.

Because it’s practically a guarantee win situation for me.

Some days I just roll out my mat and do my own thing.

On other days, I take a pre-recorded class (as a subscriber to www.yogaglo.com).

Today I decided to take a class.

60 minutes of yoga all to myself.

AHHHHHHHHHHHH…..

And, it started out wonderfully.

The scene looked like this.

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I did some gentle stretches and breathing exercises and really tuned into how my body was feeling this morning.

Until 5:45 am when my 3rd child got out of bed saying he wanted to throw up.

Agh.

OK.

Pause the video.

And, after that lovely 5 minute episode in the bathroom, that child chose to lay on the couch and watch me continue with my class.

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Fine.

No big deal.

Not such a distraction.

I can continue.

And, I did.

Until 15 minutes later, when child #4 got out of bed and rolled out a yoga mat right next to me.

“Ema (mom), what is he doing?  Do it this way!  What is that guy saying??”

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Agh.

OK.

Fine.

No big deal.

I can continue with one sick child on one side of me and another child talking incessantly into the laptop.

I reminded myself of where I was.

Peace.

Tranquility.

Must continue.

Until 15 minutes after that, child #2 gets out of bed and wants to meditate.

He took my mat.

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I’m now completely outnumbered and matless.

Agh.

Then, I really started at it (to myself)…

“Can I not even enjoy the early times of the day to myself when you’re not even supposed to be awake?”

“Can I not just do a freakin’ yoga class by myself without being interrupted by little people?”

“Have you no respect at all for your elders?”

But, I caught myself.

I didn’t allow myself to get stuck on “not enough” for too long.

Especially when my eldest child got up on her own (who otherwise ALWAYS needs to be woken by someone), ten minutes before 7:00 am.

Ten minutes before 7:00 am.

Isn’t something happening this morning at 7:00?

What was it?

What was it?

Oh, the ball drop, of course!

And, the laptop is already on!

And, as we raced to find a live stream video of the event, everyone (including my husband) got close together to watch the excitement happening in NYC and around the world.

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And, as I stood back and looked at this scene, I was reminded of how lucky I am.

For my family.

For my children.

For my husband.

And, for the yoga that I did do this morning, however long it was.

So, as we welcome in 2014, may we all be blessed to acknowledge the blessings that we receive moment by moment and realize that what we have right now is probably plenty enough.