i saw that - karma

In Moments of Great Stress What Are Your Comforts?

I was thinking about my friends who don’t have kids. No judgment about their choice. I am, however, very pleased that my progeny are making their way in the world of college and soon-to-be of life. It’s an honor to support them and watch them grow.

They say, that when you are dying, your life flashes before your eyes. I’m pretty sure I experience this every time I go to the dentist for work. As the needles are set against bone to deliver the pain killer, my mind wanders to the end of all things, what have I accomplished in my life? This is the micro-version of the life-flashing thing.

Here Are My Comfort Images

  • Son and Daughter who are making their way in the world as loving and responsible adults.
  • My own work on myself, my relationships, my co-parenting, writing… All the work is created to support parents who also lose a large portion of their parenting lives to divorce.
  • My books. I always wanted to be a writer. There’s no denying that.
  • Being kind. Friendly. Gregarious. Helpful. (Always.)
  • Having a life partner who supports me and my imagination.
  • Being a solid partner.

What’s not on the list:

  • Had a long string of technical marketing jobs and made a lot of money.
  • Owned a ton of cool cars.
  • Earned more money than my dad.

In moments of great stress, or pre-death, your brain will slow things down and try and recall your PURPOSE. Why are you here? What good did you bring into the world?

Kids and Hope

In terms of kids, I hope we’ve done a good job setting both of our kids up for future happiness and success. In terms of love, I’m in a growing and warm relationship with a woman I would like to marry. (Eventually.) I guess that means I’m not really single. And then, I am happy I have continued to express creatively my journey in life. My journey as a dad who loses everything. A musician who’s been strumming and playing out since I was in my 20s. A writer who keeps cranking out books without an agency. And a poet who believes a love poem is as important as a technical journal article.

Today, I had a root canal started. As the nitrous began to flow the music got a lot better, but the worry and anxiety were still there. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to sound horrible. It’s going to smell and taste funny. And I’m going to be numb for the rest of the afternoon. What’s good about this?

In that moment, I reached for my comforts. I’m trapped in a chair, with two people pushing things in and out of my mouth. Hurting me with courtesy. And all I could do was lean into the music, and the picture of my daughter’s face. She’s been a source of great resilience in my divorce recovery. And today, I’d say, we’re having the best relationship of our lives.

I am different for my kids. Their mom remained the hardass, the Excel-driven parent who wants everything accounted for. She’s not got many warm and fuzzy elements to her. So, she’s the “responsible” and “practical” one. Well, except when it comes to their latest adventure, remodel her new husband’s old house, as a multi-year project. “WOOHOO,” said very few people. I can think of nothing worse. And with an OCD couple, they’re setting themselves up for a lot of fights. With each other. With the contractors. With the foreman. The architects. Not a fun journey, if you ask me.

They’re Going To Be Fine

My kids are alright. They are both struggling a bit at college with the austerity their mom has inflicted on them. Related to the overruns on the remodel? Probably. (grin)

What makes your life worth living? How can you define the parts of your life you’d like to lean into more as you get more time? Today, I’m interested in leaving behind a legacy of work. Good work. Creative work. And work to help other fathers maintain a strong relationship with their kids, even if the wife and new husband make it ever more difficult. I want to wring their necks and ask, “Do you think this is helping our kids? Is this supporting them? Does your financial situation have to affect them so dramatically that they need to ask me for money nearly every time we speak?

I know that’s the plan. I’ve agreed to pay off my kids’ student loans. So, my wife is having them apply for every loan offered. Hardship loans? Um, yeah, what’s your hardship again? Your mom and her husband are building a new house? Hmm. Not our problem.

My comforts:

  • Kids
  • Good works
  • Kindness to self and others
  • Creative work

How will you find your purpose and your comforts?

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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