Last Conversation with My Dad

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Last year in the last week of may was the last time I heard my father’s voice. I was in Paris with girlfriends and then had ny husband join me for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary. It was the first time we left kids for that long to do this.  Granted, they were with their grandma.

My dad was in Paris to pick up his youngest son and bring him home to Zagreb. He planned to watch French Open so the only way he thought we could see each other was for me to come to the gates and message him from there to come meet me.  None the less, he was in Paris an entire week.

It took everything for me to say no to his proposal to meet him by the gates and not because I didn’t want to make an effort to see him but because for as long as I could remember, I was the only one making an effort. I thought this changed when he broke the streak of broken promises 2 years before this by coming for a weekend to meet my older son and spend some time with me.  I appreciated that very much, but the reality is, this was a rare moment and one of  few I can count in the past 30 years.

I decided to do what works not what I wanted.  French Open was in a completely different part of the town and had I gone there, I would’ve missed a chance to see Paris and I felt that I worked really hard to earn that trip. I was so mad because I really wanted to see him and introduce him to my husband.  And yet, I didn’t feel like it was ok to invest so much money, time and effort in celebrating my anniversary to set it all aside and adjust my schedule to my dad’s. I was mad that he didn’t want to find another way. He was mad that I didn’t accept his proposal and that I was mad and that was it. 

He never spoke to me again. I reached out a few times and then stopped. Some time in November I began to feel regret that we weren’t talking.  Then I realized, it wasn’t up to me.  I didn’t mind reaching out, but I think everyone eventually gets tired of trying.  I knew that in every possible way, I tried to be better, more understanding and forgiving.  I didn’t see any effort on my dad’s part.  On contrary, he always gave himself an out by saying: “I am the way I am” and by asking me to “let it go.”

I cried my eyes out over this that night.  If I wasn’t happily married, I would’ve felt completely unlovable.  In fact, from time to time my husband reminds me that he will not abandon me because that experience, even though from childhood, still felt ingrained in my mind.  I even did a family constellation session.  I thought, why not give it a shot to try to repair this relationship on a soul level.  My friend, and facilitator told me: your father is there for you on a soul level, but his body doesn’t know how to be.

On New Year’s day he sent me a message with greetings. I responded with a picture of my family. He wrote back that it was beautiful to see us. On my birthday, a few days later, he had a stroke he never woke up from.  I often wonder if my clearing had something to do with his sudden reaching out.  Did he know deep inside that something was going to happen.  Had he not, the last thing I would remember would be the fight with him from my expensive hotel room about him not willing to make time to see us.

Am I at peace?  most of the time. It’s bitter sweet. On one hand, I stood up for myself a year ago in Paris and broke the habit of always setting everything else aside when my dad is available.  I am glad I did that because I didn’t want my marriage to come second to my dad’s crazy expectations of me (that he doesn’t have of himself).  But I am sorry.  I am sorry I got mad and I am sorry that I couldn’t have it just wash off of me and leave no impact.  It’s silly that we get mad at people for being who they are.  My dad was being true to himself and whether or not that was enough for me, I have to accept it.

I could feel guilty but I am not going to.  I am writing this just to share because I often hear people beating themselves up over choices they made in the past.  The things is, the time is always now to make the right choice.  After that, the only choice we have is to make peace with it.  I made peace with mine.  I still and completely love my dad.  And I know he loved me. We had whatever time we had.  May he rest in peace and may my children never feel I am hard to get through to in any way.  This is not the end of grief, however, for me.  It’s merely a beginning ❤

How To Make Effective Requests

I learned this from one of the best coaches I had: “if your life doesn’t work, it’s because you suck at making requests.”  Little did I know though, I had so much to learn in how to make effective requests of people, ask in a way that honors them, myself and creates opportunity.

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Here is what NOT to do:

Pretend that what you are asking for is not a big deal for the other person

  • Nobody wants to be undermined for the effort that it takes to do something for another human being.  People often assume things are easy for others but this is not only untrue, even if it was true, it doesn’t mean we want to give away our time and effort to others just because

Give a lot of background story and explanation instead of asking for things straight

  • Nothing is as annoying than seeing someone’s elaborate intro that makes you feel like a request is coming but your time is being wasted by so much backstory you really don’t want to know about and not because you are a bad person but because you know: this person is not sharing to share, they are preparing for what’s to come: asking for a favor.  I am much more inclined to help the straight shooters because I feel that they own that they need help, they don’t waste my time in the process and then it’s easy for me to respond not feeling like I have already invested more than I bargained for in listening to the long story.  The only thing long story often does is guilts us into helping instead of helping us choose to help

Be resistant to hearing a NO

  • Most of us don’t like hearing a NO.  It is, however, everyone’s right to help us or not, so not giving them space to choose freely is a form of manipulation that doesn’t feel good.  Things like: “I am sorry I asked” and alike after you decline someone’s request are one of the worse experiences ever because they make us feel that we are only respected and honored when we say YES.  We are not really given that choice.

Being entitled to being helped

  • I once heard someone complain about her expenses blaming this person she knew who was wealthy for not stepping in to help her.  Couple of things are a problem here, one of them being: just because someone else has more, it doesn’t mean they have to give what they have away to people who don’t. In my experience, people that often seem like they are well off, are really not, their expenses may be higher or they work hard to have it so they can afford something else, not so they can give it to people who don’t make the same effort.  So entitlement is just no sexy, no matter where it’s coming from

Now, here is how to make an EFFECTIVE REQUEST:

  1. Work out all the reasons you deserve to be supported.  How can you justify this being given to you so that you can own it instead of having to dump it on others.  Deserving is a way of being, not a long story you tell, so it is up to you to do create this first
  2. Honor that another’s person consideration is valuable and enough.  Give people an experience that their time matters and ask with that in mind
  3. Honor people with clear request, don’t have them fish around for what you mean.  This allows people to easily determine if they can help or not
  4. Be mindful to express that whatever the answer, you will love them anyway; meaning, give people full permission to answer freely knowing that you will be ok regardless
  5. See what you can give return or at least think about how this can be an opportunity for the other person instead of just something you gain.  Everything balances in the Universe and affects one another so being able to see what the other person can gain (even if it’s just a satisfaction of helping you or seeing you humbled) is appreciated

Then and only then make your request.  We need to ask, we need to practice this and we are bound to make mistakes, but this will help guide us when we do so that we don’t hold a grudge against people who say NO but rather reset and continue trying.

We can’t do it alone and nobody owes us.  If we can allow these two statements to live inside of us, we are bound to make effective requests and honor people with them such that their answer, no matter what it is, can be a WIN/WIN situation for all.

How To Help Our Mental Health at Least a Little

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A few weeks back, I got hooked on watching Suits with my husband.  I really enjoyed the first season and loved that we could binge watch the show as there was already 6 seasons available on amazon prime.  As a coach, I master manage my time, so initially, I would get my work done pretty fast to get back to TV and watch some more.  The beginning was inspiring to me, I liked the character development and would comment on it with my husband as we would relax for an hour or so before we go to sleep.

Then, naturally,  we started getting busier and we could no longer sit together and watch so my husband gave me a go ahead to watch on my own.  I watched it shamelessly: episode after episode, season after season.  I starting doing everything I possibly could do with a show in a background because at some point, and this often happens to me when I binge watch something, the show looses it’s charm, the plot loosens, things begin to be less believable and it gets very obvious that the writers are milking it.  All of this works because by season 3, most people are so in love with the characters, and for those of us who binge watch, curiosity trumps desire for quality and value.

But here is the thing, I pay attention to what I am thinking and how I am feeling, part of it is my job and I do that with others so I naturally do the same for myself.  The more I watched the show, the worse I felt about myself.  I often, when I get into a show like this and watch it for a couple of days, even dream about characters being in my life.  Luckily, I allow this to happen so rarely that I can just watch my experience almost like it’s not happening to me, appreciate that life is really not about sitting on a couch and watching someone else’s life but rather living your own.

Yet, I wonder, how many people give into show after show on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or whatever else is out there and begin to slowly lose sense of living their own life.  I studied Film in my undergraduate and graduate studies and I truly appreciate what a piece of good writing for film and television can do and the message it can send to the masses, but I worry, I truly worry about our minds getting slowed down and sloppy over time.  I worry that watching fictional lives before our eyes has us not make an effort in our own.  Having a great life, accomplishing your dreams and having success requires an effort and I worry that getting used to stories presented to us makes us lazy thinkers.

Here is my truth, I watched the Suits for a few days, 6 seasons and 90 or so episodes I believe.  I want you to know, I felt it.  I felt the effects of being almost lost in my own life from being fed someone else’s story for such a long duration.  I had a couple of dreams with those characters in them and I definitely felt down on myself.  It’s been a bit more than a week that I stopped and I feel I snapped back into reality, but I worry that there are people out there who do this all the time.  And if so, it’s not surprising that things that we witness on news are happening, that people are losing their mental health and that the issue is seemingly out of control.

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Our minds are vulnerable and if we feed them information that makes us feel angry or paralyzed, it is easy to drift and feel a heavy heart.  I am not saying that this can prevent all the suicides and crimes that happen in the world, but I am sure that if we spent less time in front of the screens and more time with our feet in the grass looking at the sky, we will feel happier overall.  I know I feel really crappy after I eat junk food and watch stupid TV shows.  When I don’t, when I eat clean and read inspiring books, I inevitably feel high on life.  Sure, this is not an answer for everyone but it can sure help prevent an experience of despair and going down to rabbit hole to most of us.  As humans, we are vulnerable, so the more we work on feeding ourselves the good stuff, the better chances we have of staying sane.

What are you feeding your body, mind and soul with?

10 Reasons to Pay Your Own Bill when Dating

Where I come from, men pick up the tab.  They get “seemingly” offended if you even try to get the bill yourself.  Offering to split it is out of question as you are immediately labelled as cheap:  either pay it all up or shut up and let it be paid.  My culture, however, is not my reference but the years of working with individuals and couples on relationships is.

I remember talking to a friend from Montreal years ago and her complaining that men from Quebec don’t offer to pay the bill.  This was a turn off for her and she felt that, if they were not going to pay, she wouldn’t give them the time of the day.   I could relate to what she was saying as all throughout college and even graduate school, I really wanted and liked it when men picked up the tab when I went out with them.  The only difference was, I never waited for them to do it, I always offered to pay my part.youblur-close-up-cutlery-370984

Here is what I think some women don’t get:  men are human beings too and in the game of dating, it’s often not so much that they can’t pick up the tab, it’s that when they don’t just go for it, it tells them if the woman who is with them is just along for a free ride or she cares about him more deeply.  Whether or not you pay your part shows that.  And while so many women out there are coaching you on how to get the most out of men, here are 10 solid reasons to pay for your own shit:

  1. When you pick up your part, it shows you wanted to be there, you are willing to invest your time and money to spend the time with person.  While you may split or cover the bill once, doing it the second time is a proof of commitment: putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak
  2. You prove that you can’t be bought, you can order what you wish knowing you are treating yourself fully to this enjoyment.  If you are prepared to pay for it, you will never be disappointed
  3. You release the attachment and the desperation that comes from waiting for someone to pick up your bill or wondering throughout your time together about who will get it at the end
  4. You prove yourself to be feminist, that woman have a voice and can make all decisions the same way men can.  After all, aren’t most of us always trying to prove this to the world
  5. You are energetically invested, when you pay up, there is no guilt or even a remote wonder if you need to do something in return.  Your bills are paid and all is squared, everything that comes after that is a choice
  6. Men are impressed by women who take care of themselves and real men will respect it, even if they insist on paying
  7. You will release all those men who think their money can buy you and your attention, you will not be their player, you will be your own
  8. You will know if you want to do this again, because when it hurts your wallet, you get to be more mindful of how and with whom you spend your time
  9. You will leave the guy with an impression that you are stable, responsible, dependable and he will think much more highly of you
  10. You will never have an experience that you sold out for a glass of wine, or a 10 course dinner; no matter how big or small it is, selling out is selling out.

Hope these reasons make you reconsider waiting for a guy to pick up a tab.  Nobody is born in service of you.  This is such an archaic way of thinking and people who expect it are bound to be disappointed.  The more you expect the less you have ownership over your life and what happens in it.   When you take care of yourself, do your part, everything else is a bonus, it becomes much easier to live in gratitude and that is the energy that attracts men, money and good things your way.  Which one will you choose?

 

RIP Kate Spade

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Nobody will really know what happened that had Kate Spade decide to take her own life, especially not the public.  We make up stories about other people and live vicariously through the famous few.  Sadly.  I guess the effort to make our own lives work is more than it takes to plug into social media, TV or read newspapers.  We, then,  naturally live on sidelines and comment.
I glanced at the article today that read: “it’s lonely on the top”… What a way to frame what happened and tell a story that might have nothing to do with Kate’s story.  I don’t blame anyone who comments or writes because I can feel it, we are all impacted and we all need to process things our own way.  I am taking a moment myself to digest the fact that a 13 year old girl came home yesterday to find out her mom was gone and now she will know from her dad, papers, friends, etc, that she took her own life, because her mom’s life was public.  I can’t and don’t want to even imagine what that must be like for that little teenage girl.
What can cause someone who seems to be having resources, to not find a way through and out.  I never followed Kate’s life but if depression was the cause, is it possible she never reached out for help?  There is no shame in asking for help no matter how successful or unsuccessful you are. People are not meant to live alone and deal with everything alone, that is the assumption that is destroying lives.
People around me and I have dialed friends or hotlines in times when life felt painful. It doesn’t mean anything. It just means you need someone else to support you to see things you can’t see from where you are standing.  It’s not a shame and you may get a “no” a few times before someone says yes.  We have to find strength to keep on looking.
My grandma the other day told me she didn’t want to bother anyone. She is in her 80s and lost her husband and older son within a year and my uncle lives far away. I keep telling her to not hesitate to ask for what she needs, but I can hear it that it doesn’t come naturally to her.  When we are children and at the old age and any time in between when we are sick, we need support.  Please make that right.  Please allow yourself to ask for what you need and not be attached to where it comes from.
We can only give when we are full and we must be able to receive when we are not.  That is a flow of life.  There is nothing shameful about asking for help, needing something and reaching out.
In meantime, here is the

Call 1-800-273-8255
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When you allow someone to help you, you give them a gift of being someone who contributes.  We are all in this together.