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

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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STUCK on a PAUSE

I was stuck on despair a few days ago.

As as I processed through this challenging emotion, I reminded myself of the “S” step (in S.T.U.C.K.).  That is, the importance of intentionally Stopping and taking a break from the busyness of the mind.

And when I did this, I basically came back to the same conclusion that I had several months ago: reaffirming that yes, this business idea is what I really want to be doing with my life.  And, in order to do so, I must just move forward, be patient and keep an open-mind.

Yet, that’s not what the step of stopping is all about!

It’s not about reaffirming our life’s desires.

Rather, stopping is an opportunity to witness life as it unfolds, moment by moment, experience by experience.

And, there is a big difference between the two.

This revelation came to me (as most revelations always do) during my morning meditation sessions over the past three days.

Pause_Hammock_Postcard

I recognized two inter-related ideas of why I (and many others) may struggle with pausing:

1) In general, I think most of us believe we are in total control of our lives, when in actuality we are not.  And, if we were to pause, it would mean we are not being responsible because it would mean we are wasting precious time as opposed to being busy doing something else.

2) Most of us are interested in seeing the immediate outcomes of life’s situations.  So, if we allow ourselves to pause, for even a moment, we would presumably delay that outcome.

And so, the tendency is to not stop.

Not to pause.

But, when we do, life can appear differently.

And, incredibly interesting.

And almost magical.

And certainly gratifying.

Like two days after writing about being “stuck on despair”, when I received a phone call from one of the biggest hi-tech companies in the area (1200+ employees). A company that I didn’t even reach out to personally, but just passed my information on to a friend.  A company that invited me to give 2 (not just 1) demo classes and will pay me full-price (not free sessions which I’ve been offering to other companies).   A company who sees the value of my services.  A company who is interested not only in my yoga, but my meditation classes.  And, believe it or not, my mindful eating workshops as well.  A company that has an incredible physical space to hold my yoga/meditation sessions.  A company that wants to support their employees’ overall health.

And to think… I hardly did anything proactive to really get my foot in the door to this company.

It came to me with hardly any effort at all.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m certainly not saying, let me lean back, kick my legs up, and wait for clients to come knocking down my door.

No, I’m far from saying that.

Instead, I’m just advocating the pause.

And, to be curious about it.

And allow those precious moments of the unknown to arise.

Without judging them.

Who knows? Maybe there won’t even be interest from any employees from this company.

I certainly can’t be stuck on expectations.

Or what about the two part-time job offers (unrelated to Yoga at Work) that came knocking at my doorstep this week?

Hmm…

Interesting…

Maybe…

And, continue to pause and watch life unfold as it is meant to be.

Whether it’s how we intended it to be or not.

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STUCK on DESPAIR

This week, I went from being “stuck on rejection” to being “stuck on despair”.

With my business.

Yoga at Work.

After many, many rejections and a handful of potential clients that fell through, this past week I just lost it.

“Really, Shira, wouldn’t it just be so much easier to get a ‘regular’ paying job?”

“What’s all this effort for anyway?”

“Do you really think you’re going to make something out of this business idea?”

“You’re in Israel, don’t forget.  Not America.  It’s a different culture.  Different lifestyle.”

“How long can you emotionally last pursuing this business idea?”

“How long can you afford to do this without seeing a single shekel week after week?”

Until I realized that I was just stuck.

On despair.

despair

And so, I just “S” – STOPPED.

And did nothing.

Didn’t react.

Didn’t anticipate.

Didn’t prepare.

Didn’t plan.

Didn’t make any phone calls.

Just paused.

On purpose.

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And just sitting there brought me back to myself.

To a place of quiet and a feeling of complete presence.

To a reduction of my temporary stress.

To a feeling of gratitude for this mindfulness practice.

To a realization of “doing exactly just this… sitting… breathing… de-stressing… is exactly what I want to be doing with my life and bringing to others… just like I did in the States.”

And, acknowledging that it will just take some more time, plenty of patience, and an open mind.

And, it will take mindfully listening to the reasons of rejections and seeing them as opportunities to improve my marketing strategy and business plan.

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Funny, how time and time again, I forget to stop.

I rush to find solutions or try to change my perspective on things way before I even give myself a second to just pause.

And, why do I do that?

Probably because I don’t practice enough “intentionally sitting/meditation” on a regular basis which would otherwise create that “well” of experience and wisdom within me.

And so, when I need to pause, I don’t even consider looking for it.

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And so that is my aspiration for this upcoming Sabbath.

To make dedicated and holy time to just pause.

On purpose.

And do nothing else.

Except be.


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STUCK on a Beggar

Down the street from Hannaton, the closest junction actually, stands a beggar.

Not everyday.

But often enough.

She’s covered from head to toe in a burqa (the enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public.)

And she stands with a newborn in her arms (even on the coldest days of winter) watching the traffic light to turn red.

Her cue.

To come tapping at your window and stare at you with her open palm

and wait.

Until either you roll down your window and give her a shekel or two,

Or you ignore her long enough and she moves on to the next car.

I don’t know how much she’s earning from this “work”, but I can tell you she’s been standing at this junction for quite some time.

Almost like a part-time job.

Apparently the police has been called.

Allegedly she comes from the West Bank.

And here I am stuck on judging her.

“Why are you standing here, so close to my home?  Why aren’t you standing somewhere farther away where I won’t see you?”

“Why are you holding a new born baby?  Don’t you know that’s dangerous?  Don’t you realize it’s unhealthy for the baby to be inhaling fumes from the vehicles? Do you honestly think you’re going to gain any compassion from me just because you’re holding a baby?”

“Why don’t you just look for a job, just like I am?”

“Why do you think you have the right to bother me?”

Yup.

There I was again.

Stuck on judging.

Could I change my perspective?

I knew I had to.

Unless I wanted to continue “suffering”.

I tried.

I really did.

Yet, I kept returning to the aforementioned judgments and couldn’t see the situation in any other light.

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So, I decided to reach out to a few friends of mine with whom I am participating in a “mussar” group  – (“a Jewish path of contemplative practices and exercises that have evolved over the past thousand years in which the individual focuses on one personality trait or characteristic in order to release the light of holiness that lives within each soul”.)

By chance, the week I reached out to my friends, we were working on “judging others favorably”.

How ironic.

My friends were quite empathic to the situation, stating “it can feel invasive or bothersome when people beg for money” and were also graciously willing to offer some insight or guidance to me, suggesting “it does make us face the horrible reality that there are people in this world, and even more so – so close to my home – that don’t have food or shelter.”

Jamie wrote, “For me, in these types of situations, I remind myself that we don’t know the person’s back story.   G-d forbid any of these things…  Maybe she has a serious illness and has been unable to work… maybe she has a husband who is ill and cannot work and she has to stay home…. maybe she has an abusive husband who forces her to beg… or maybe she is lazy and does not want to work….  Does it matter?”

Shoshana acknowledged that a person’s experiences, unknown to us, can push them to behave in a way that is difficult for us.

Then, she wisely cautioned, “It is imperative that the infant’s (relative) safety has been seen to and that the mother’s behavior isn’t deemed excessively risky by police or other officials.  If there is any question regarding significant danger to the infant, it is important for people to know that they are each empowered – and responsible – to call – again and again if necessary, to the police or other local authorities.”

Edite shared that because of our email exchange (and being part of the mussar group), she’s learning how to be more aware of how often she judges and from that learning how to challenge her thoughts more often.

My friends shed light for me on this situation and helped me realized how difficult I have with the concept of  “belief”. (Remember, the snow in Nazareth?)

Of course, my friends are right.

I don’t know this woman’s situations.

And the truth is, I don’t need to.

It doesn’t matter that I can’t see this woman’s home situation, I can still believe that she’s in an unfortunate enough of a situation to have to spend her days standing on a street corner, newborn baby in arms, begging for money.

My friends brought such light to this experience for me that my heart wanted to go find this woman.  I wanted to run immediately to the junction say to her, “Look. I judged you.  And, I’m sorry about that.  I don’t know your circumstances, and the truth is I don’t really need to know.  I believe you.  I know you need help.  Please take this money and be well.”

I really wanted to do that.

But I couldn’t.

Because she hasn’t shown up in quite a while.

Hannaton Junction

And so, I haven’t had the chance to share my revelations with this woman.

To apologize.

And to wish her well.

Her disappearance almost made me feel sad, like an opportunity has been lost to bring love and light to the world.

But, I realize that truly nothing has been lost.

Only gained.

A new perspective.

Belief.

Compassion.

and understanding.

And hope, for the next time I come face to face with her or any other beggar for that matter.

Where I won’t be a slave to judgment, but rather be free to just accept not knowing.

 


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STUCK on GREAT EXPECTATIONS

great-expectations-picturesWell, doesn’t any “normal” parent have them from their children?

And, as the mother of relatively young children, I’m not talking about college acceptances, marriage partners, or professions, but rather the simple things like:

Treating others with respect,

Sharing your toys and your snacks,

Chewing with your mouth closed,

Not interrupting when others are speaking,

And when you speak, speak, please don’t whine.

Being a good sport and a good loser,

Cleaning your room (at least once in a while),

and many other basic values I try to instill in my children.

And so, day in and day out, from morning until evening, in the home and on the playground, I find myself drilling these concepts into my children:

“Did you say thank you?

Why don’t you give some of your crackers to your friend?

Can you please close your mouth when you eat?

Good job waiting patiently while I was speaking.

Thank you for not whining.  It’s much easier to understand you that way.

Puh-LEASE clean your room!!!

And on and on.

It’s like a constant education.

At every opportunity.

And for the most part, it seems to be “working”.

My kids are, in general, nice, friendly, courteous, secure, disciplined and empathic kids that other kids and adults like to be around.

So, on the one hand, I feel like giving myself a pat on the back because it seems that I’ve been doing something right.

On the other hand, because of a recent incident with my oldest child, I question to myself, “Until what age am I supposed to continue parenting my children in this way… With such great expectations?  Or, expectations in general? And, at what point, if any, am I supposed to just take the back seat and just observe?

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Last night, after finishing our Sabbath dinner and nearing the end of a family-favorite board game, we were getting ready to tally up the points to see who the winner would be.

My daughter, who tends to be quite slick at this game and has been playing this particular game long enough to know many tactics for winning, stated (in my opinion, in a rather haughty kind of way), “I want to add up my points last.”

And, I know why she said that.

Because she tends to win this game quite often.

And she likes the attention received when everyone watches with suspense to see how many points she earned.

What can I say?  With this games, she likes to be in the spotlight.

And, I, her mother, can’t stand when she (or any of my other children) act with an attitude of arrogance.

I was stuck on great expectations.

So, I called her on it.

“Ayalah!  Why do you need to act like that?”

My words, my intonation, and the rolling of my eyes (I swear, I have so little control of that!) were enough to silence her and then make her cry.

I ruined her fun mood.

Apparently, I even ruined her evening.

And with that, we finished the game.  (My daughter actually came in 3rd place, ironically).  And, she went into her room.

And, a few minutes later, I came to speak with her.

And, what ensued was basically a conversation that made me realize the recent pull I am feeling between believing my children are completely dependent on me to learn right from wrong vs. realizing they may not be as dependent on me as I believe.

I shared with my daughter that for nearly 12 years, I’ve been parenting her as if one of the only places she was receiving her values from and knowing the “right way” to live was from me.

And, yet as her Bat Mitzvah is approaching, I’m beginning to wonder how much more unsolicited guidance she really needs from me.

Last night, I shamed my daughter.

Point blank.

I shamed her.

In front of others (who, by the way, could have cared less that she wanted to tally her points last.)

But, I could have chosen not to say a thing.

I could have chosen not to roll my eyes (I’m still working on that one… believe me I am.)

I could have just thought to myself, “Interesting… that she’s acting that way. Interesting.”

And, if I felt like I truly had to say something to her, I could have taken her aside, after the game and once all the guests had left.

My behavior was wrong.

And, I apologized for that.

And, slowly I started to realize that as my daughter matures,  the amount of control and expectations that I have over her must change.

I question to myself, if the basic values that I tried to instill in her (or my other children by this age) haven’t been absorbed, will they ever?

Will my constant hounding really do any good at this point?

Will constant judging her really have any affect on her ultimate behavior?

I’m beginning to realize that if I don’t alter my parenting with her as she matures, she will continue to feel judged by me for sure, not feel good about herself when she’s around me, and she won’t want to be around me much.

And, I can even bet that she’d eventually start hiding things from me at times when she’s aware that she’s not meeting my expectations.

That’s certainly not a route I’m interested to go down.

Just another balancing act in the world of parenting.

And so, this incident was actually a learning experience for me.

An opportunity for our relationship.

And, as I told her of the efforts I’m going to make to be more aware of all of this, she gave me a great hug and told me how great of a mom I am.

Which, of course, brought me to tears (because I was feeling quite the opposite at that moment).

And, back to great expectations: thinking how wonderful it would be if my other 3 boys could one day turn out as terrific as their older sister.

This blog was written with permission by my daughter.