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

Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being


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Not STUCK on Disappointment

I was like an angel yesterday.

Because I knew something about the future that others (like my daughter) didn’t.

And, I was able to cautiously guide her peacefully through something which could otherwise have led to an emotional eruption.

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

She arrived home from school and sat down at the bar in the kitchen.

“Do you remember the theme of the speech I gave the Friday night of your Bat Mitzvah?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.  “The importance of a pause.”

“Right,” I continued.  “So, I’m going to tell you something, but I want you to keep the pause in mind when I tell it to you, ok?  Remember, just pause and take a breath.”

She said, “Ok, now you’re making me nervous. But, go on.”

LeketI read her the email I received from Leket (Israel’s National Food Bank that she and her classmates were going to volunteer for this coming Sunday in honor of her Bat Mitzvah.)

“Due to the unusual weather that we experienced this winter and the hot temperatures of this season, most of the plants that we planned to pick in April and May ripened earlier than planned and therefore, our picking season ended earlier then expected.  We unfortunately need to cancel the picking activity that we scheduled for you.  The next harvest won’t be ready to be picked until the end of June.”

And, to top it off, the principal of her school (who – because of the educational nature of the program – was generous to allow Ayalah to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah on a school day), said to me that there would be no other days for the rest of the school year in which we could do this activity.

My daughter’s jaw dropped.

Tears started to swell up in her eyes.

And, as I watched her, I could feel that she felt defeated.

After all this planning,  finding a date with Leket that was also appropriate with the school’s calendar, creating and sending out an invitation, sending out and receiving permission slips, ordering a bus, reserving a room for the party to follow, planning the party, and more.

She closed her eyes.

She took a breath.

And said without an ounce of pessimism, “Ok, so now what?”

Incredible.

As if those words were just coming out of the mouth of the most enlightened person I knew.

I fumbled for a moment.

And then brainstormed quicker than ever…

Maybe we could do this party on the day after the last day of school?

Or, push it off until September?

Or, cancel this idea and just invite a small group of your friends to do something else entirely?

Or, save the money we were planning to spend on this party and go to Eilat and swim with the dolphins (which she’s been speaking about for nearly two years).

Or, do the “party” part without the “Leket” part.

Or, consider that maybe the Bat Mitzvah service and community kiddush that we already had can be considered enough. (I told her that most likely this is how I would plan the other siblings Bar Mitzvah celebrations anyway).

And, within a few moments, she maturely responded, “Ok, let’s just do the party part.  And, let’s do it on an evening, rather than a morning. Actually, maybe it will be even more fun this way anyway.  Plus, we can all get dressed up, which we couldn’t do if we were going to go pick vegetables in a field first.”

Just like that.

She didn’t get stuck in disappointment.

She seamlessly went from a place of potential disappointment to a place of contentment and sincere happiness.

The possible emotional eruption never even occurred.

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

It must be nice to have an angel on your shoulder once in a while.

Even more so, an angel who knows how to caution you before you get stuck.

On some days, I wish I had such a personal angel.

On other days, I wonder if I do have such a personal angel.

And, I simply need to wake up to its presence.

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NOT STUCK on 1 STUDENT

Friday is errand day in Israel.

Preparing for Shabbat.

Cleaning the house.

Cooking.

So, when I moved my weekly yoga class on Hannaton from Tuesday nights to Friday mornings, I had to take into consideration that the class size may ebb and flow each week.

And, this week I had a strong inkling that no one was going to show up.

IMG_20140523_092529So at 8:15 (the time of the class), when no one showed up, I picked up the phone.

Not to vent.

Or cry.

But, to call my husband.

Who tends to work on Fridays, but sometimes has the flexibility to walk away from his work when called upon.

So, I called him to see if he wanted to take a private yoga class.

And within 3 minutes, he showed up.

IMG_20140523_092612He chose an angel card from the sachet bag which would set the intention of the class.

POWER.

“Power?” he asked me.

“What does that mean?”

“Let’s explore it in the class,” I answered.

And, we did.

We explored the power that is within each of us to watch the busyness of our minds and to continuously redirect our attention back to something real and tangible, like the breath or a IMG_20140523_092635sensation in the body.

No matter what pose my husband was in, I reminded him of that intention.

To return to his breath.

To let go of intrusive thoughts.

To just be.

This class, which settled his mind immensely, ended in a 25 minute relaxation (which typically only lasts for 10 minutes).

After which we both sat for a moment in gratitude for the day.

And I sat in gratitude for the opportunity of teaching one student.


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STUCK on “Your Kid’s Got an Attitude!”

I was at a community event recently when I witnessed a teenager acting quite disrespectfully to another adult (who happened to have been a friend of mine).

bad attitude

I was struck dumb by this teenager’s audacity and impertinence.

How could such a child in our community speak back to an authoritative figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community deliberately roll her eyes and scoff at an adult figure in our community?

How could such a child in our community have such confidence to believe that he can even act this way in the first place?

I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

And, as I stood there incredulously, I found myself being stuck on “your kid’s got an attitude, and I’ve gotta do something about it.”

I didn’t “S” stop and pause and breathe.

I didn’t “T” tell myself what I was feeling.

I didn’t “U” see what may have been underneath this all.

And, I certainly didn’t “C” consider a different perspective.

I just reacted.

Automatically.

And, I got myself involved in something to which I wasn’t even invited.

I went straight up to that teenager and told him what I had just witnessed.

And that I saw him speaking to that adult in that way.

And that he had no right to speak that way to any community member.

In other words, I put him in his place.

And his reaction?

After a little huffing and puffing and rolling of the eyes, he just walked away.

And, in that moment, I felt really good actually.

I felt like I did a good deed.

The right thing.

That any other responsible parent would have done.

But later that day, when I finally did take a moment to pause…

And speak to my own child (who was there at the scene),

I found myself regretting my behavior.

That I didn’t just stop and pause at the time.

And recognize what I was feeling (frustration).

And acknowledge that probably what was underneath all of this was the struggle of living in a small community where there are some parenting styles which I don’t endorse (which of course leads to children’s behaviors which I don’t endorse).

And consider another perspective, such as:

  • Maybe this child actually has a real problem
  • Maybe his parents are dealing with this said problem
  • Maybe the response by the adult at the scene was enough
  • Maybe you don’t have to get involved in everything that you see
  • Maybe you don’t know everything

But, that was the past.

And, this is the present.

And, while I wish I had stayed in the framework of “S.T.U.C.K.” and avoided that confrontation, I can only be compassionate to myself and remember that it’s o”K” that I got stuck there in the first place.

And now that I’m in a different mindset, can consider whether or not the right thing to do at this point is make an apology.


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S.T.U.C.K. on “I’ve got something to say to you”

I went to a kibbutz committee meeting recently for the purpose of partaking in a particular discussion that would ultimately end in a vote the same evening.

The meeting was set for 9 PM at a friend’s house.

And scheduled to end promptly at 10 PM (out of respect to the tireless volunteers that donate endless hours of their time for the benefit of the kibbutz).

For one hour, eight of us sat around in a very orderly and respectful way, discussed the topic (of which the details aren’t necessarily pertinent to this post), listened mindfully, and spoke respectfully until the head of the committee told us it was time to make a decision.

Minutes before the vote, a non-member of the committee shows up to the meeting.  (The meeting was considered “open” and so anyone from the kibbutz was welcomed to join the discussion.)

Yet, having showed up at 10 PM, she didn’t partake in the discussion.

She didn’t know what was discussed.

She didn’t even know the reason why this discussion was arising (since we already had a similar “study group”) about it last year.

She just came to give her opinion.

Which I guess would have been fine had she done it in a respectful way.

But, she didn’t.

Racing against the clock, she burst into the house, grabbed a seat, first gave her opinion on the topic (with lots of huffing and puffing and rolling of the eyes), and then started to rudely criticize the committee for mismanagement (that is, for having this discussion when it was already discussed last year).

And frankly, as a member of this committee and believer that our work is being done honorably, I just wanted to scream.

The audacity!

In my mind, this person had absolutely no right to burst in the way she did and she had no right to criticize the committee (specifically because she wasn’t present for the entire meeting and therefore missed the reasoning of why this topic was being raised again).

*****

My reaction?

I actually just calmly filled her in and caught her up on the last hour’s discussion.

Which actually seemed to have calmed her down a bit (after having heard more of the big picture).

off-my-chestBut, still, I was stuck for a few days.

Stuck on “I’m not done.  I’ve got a few more words for you, my dear!”

And so, automatically, I started to gather all that was in my head and put it down on paper. (G-d forbid I’d forget anything.)

I wrote down things like:

How wrong was her behavior and….

She will not speak to me or the group in that way ever again and…

That, we as volunteers, are acting out of our best intentions to make this community the best community we possibly can and she should acknowledge that, and…

We are community members, family friends, and neighbors and that it would be the wise thing to treat others with a minimal amount of respect and …

That she, of all people, should be acting as a role model in our community and …

SHOW UP ON TIME next time!

But, when I processed this with S.T.U.C.K. and arrived at “C”, I recognized my choice:

That I didn’t really have to say anything…

Even though my ego really wanted to.

And, that’s exactly what I did.

I did not approach her after the meeting.

I did not reprimand or parent her.

What I did do was respond appropriately to her at the meeting.

And that’s all that’s really needed.

Certainly there’s not need on staying stuck on having to be heard every time I think I’ve got something important or urgent to say.

Because the truth is, most people aren’t ready to listen anyway.


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STUCK on a D’var Torah for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah

This is the D’var Torah (words of Torah) that I will be saying tonight at Friday night services on Kibbutz Hannaton in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter.

Shabbat Shalom.  This week’s portion is Behar.  The two main concepts that we learn from this portion is Shmittah and the Year of the Jubilee.

Ayalah Bat MitzvahOver the past week or so, I really struggled with figuring out what kind of special D’var Torah I could come up with in honor of the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter, Ayalah.

With such an emphasis on the “land”, I thought about connecting the portion to our Aliyah and the implications of that decision: the wonderful experiences as well as the many challenges.  I also thought about sharing with the community Ayalah’s choice in celebrating her Bat Mitzvah by harvesting crops with the non-profit organization called Leket instead of a traditional dance party.

Yet, after reading the portion a few times, I still felt stumped. I started asking friends for help.  I searched the internet.  I read articles and commentaries and watched videos, but couldn’t find anything that truly came from my heart and that was meaningful enough to me to be able to share with you and in honor of Ayalah.  I started to get nervous.  Endless thoughts starting running through my mind.  Maybe I shouldn’t do the D’var Torah.  Maybe my husband should just do it?  Maybe I’ll ask a friend?

And, then I stopped.

I just paused.

And in that space, came my D’var Torah.

The idea of “stopping”.

In this week’s portion, we see an emphasis on stopping a few times.

Leviticus 25: 3-4 -For 6 years you may sow your field and for 6 years you may prune your vineyard, and you may gather in its crop.  But, the 7th year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem, your field you shall not sow and your vineyard you shall not prune.”

Leviticus 25: 8-12 “You shall count for yourself seven cycles of sabbatical years… shall be 49 years… You shall sanctify the 50th years and proclaim freedom throughout the land…. Each of you shall return to his ancestral heritage…”

Interestingly, how often are we commanded in the Torah to DO things and then STOP doing that same commandment?

And, why are we commanded to stop?

Is it merely just to regain energy?  Rejuvenate?   So, that we have strength and energy to keep us going until the next pause?

Or, is there something more to it?

When I look at my own life, I can readily admit how difficult it is to stop.

There’s always so much to do.  I feel like I’m usually behind the 8 ball in the house, with the kids, and the laundry, and the meals, and the homework, starting a business, and the committees, and the community meetings, and on and on.

My tendency is not to stop.

And, I can think of 2 inter-related reasons why this simple, but not necessarily easily action occurs:

1)      I (like most people) believe that we are in control of our destiny.  That life is in our hands.  And so, in order to accomplish things, I need to keep moving and doing.  If I were to temporarily stop, I would appear (to myself and others) to be an irresponsible member of society or the family.  And so, believing that destiny is in my hands, I keep moving.

2)      I (like most people) want to see immediate results of their actions.  If we set any kind of goal for ourselves, then we keep moving towards that goal in efforts to achieve it without stopping, of course.

And yet, we are commanded to stop.

And, I believe there’s more to it than just the physical rejuvenation.

That when we pause, from whatever it is we are doing, something else occurs.

An opportunity: To just notice life continuing to exist moment by moment without any action on our part.  (Something we usually miss because we are so busy).

An opportunity: To acknowledge the Source of all life.

An opportunity: For gratitude.

And when we realize and accept this reality, perhaps we would be more willing to pause and be more grateful to the One who sustains us all.

And so, when we pause (before we eat, before we speak, before we act, before we start our day, when we are at work, on Shabbat), we put ourselves in an entirely different mode of being.

Which is the reason that I try to pause each morning before I start my day with meditation.

And why I often do this in the public spaces of our house (like the living room).

So that my children can observe and perhaps recognize the value of intentionally pausing.

And so, Ayalah, on your Bat Mitzvah, I wish you the wisdom of the act of pausing and the courage to practice it, even when you think you don’t need it.  So that when you do need it, it’ll become second nature to you.  And I hope that you will learn in your own life the power of a pause and how it can strengthen you as a young girl, a woman, and a human being.

And with that, I would like to pause for a moment and be aware of all of my blessings and thank Hashem for giving you life and sustaining you and helping you to reach this day.

Shabbat Shalom.


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STUCK on Israel Memorial Day

Today is Israel Memorial Day – The day Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers who lost their lives in the struggle that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and for those who were killed during active duty in Israeli’s armed forces.  In recent years, the commemoration has extended to victims of terrorist attacks.

The Memorial Day here in Israel is quite different in mood and character than the Memorial Day that I grew up with in the States.

Here, for 24 hours (from sunset to sunset), all places of public entertainment are closed and flags are lowered at half mast.

yom hazikaronThe most noticeable feature of the day is the sound of the siren that is heard throughout the country twice during this 24 hours period; 8:00 PM to mark the start of the day of mourning, and 11:00 AM on the next day. During this time, everything (everything) comes to a halt.  At school.  At work.  Even traffic. Even shopping.  (See my experience this morning while shopping for food for the upcoming Bat Mitzvah of our daughter.  The siren is faint, but it goes off at about 1 minute into the video.  And, back to routine at around 3:00 minutes.)

Everyone, even children, like my 3-year-old son, stands in attention – hands by the sides, head tilted slightly down, for two full minutes.

Radio stations and T.V. stations are fully dedicated to broadcasting music and programming appropriate for this “holiday”.

Schools organize their own memorial services.

The day is even more enhanced by the sight of children and teenagers all dressed in white shirts and blue pants or skirts, on the way to school, and thousands of soldiers on their way to military cemeteries.

There is nothing “happy” about the Memorial Day here in Israel.

There are no picnics.

There are no barbecues.

There are no sales.

Here, the day is felt by all, even by those who may not have a first degree of separation between a loved one that was killed.

Like me.

And yet, I’m still wrapped up in this day, like the rest of the country.

And, I can see how easy it can be to get stuck in the mourning.

Of the loss of a child.

Or the loss of a spouse.

Or the loss of a fellow platoon mate.

How does one get past that?

I can imagine how one would just want to stay in a place of sadness, grief, anger, resentment and guilt.

Forever.

And yet, this is not how the Israeli calendar has evolved.

And this is not how Israelis lived.

Instead, the country has chosen to mark the holiday appropriately and then move intentionally move forward.

The country “S” stops (literally) and pauses on this day.

It “T” tells itself how it is feeling, and shares those feelings with others.

It sees what’s “U” underneath those feelings, the unfairness, the politics, the attempts at a peace process.

But, yes, it also “C” chooses a perspective – that there is a time and place for everything.

A time to mourn.

And, a time to dance.

The holiday here doesn’t end in an amorphous kind of way.

Instead, it ends with an intentional and clear transition, of mourning to celebration.

It ends in a ceremony in which the flag is raised back up again.

It ends with a declaration of Statehood.

It ends with a beginning.

Of another celebration.

Israeli’s Independence Day.

Another 24 hour celebration.

This time, focused on life.

With no time for being stuck on the previous day.