Everything is a Gift, No Matter How Sh*tty the Wrapping Paper.

PUBLISHED ON ELEPHANT JOURNAL

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I am not into politics.

I am not into picking people apart or putting them down.

I am into compassion and respect. I am into seeing the gift—the good in everything and everyone.

I have not always been this way. I have been on a journey most of my life, as we all have; most of us just don’t know it.

It has been a journey of seeing past what is right in front of my eyes and knowing there is something deeper, more meaningful going on. It is about intuition, seeing within, tapping into my innate sense of knowing there is something beyond what our eyes see and our ears hear. There is something beyond people’s personalities that drives their actions.

When you take a moment and look beyond what is at face value, you can grab a taste of it. You can see something good, or at least understand why something is happening. It is coming to the awareness that everyone and everything is here to help us—and we don’t have to like what we see and feel to know the truth of this.

I am not a stranger to disappointment, anger, frustration and turmoil. When I faced a full-term pregnancy loss 13 years ago, my heart was broken into a million pieces. The grief was insurmountable.

Yet slowly, as my heart began to heal and I reached beyond the loss, I was able to see the gifts I had been given. The amazing value of life, the strength I never knew I had, my own innate power, the ability to not sweat the small stuff, the ability to live in the present and the knowledge that I can handle anything life throws at me.

How can I say losing my child was a gift? Because I cannot count the number of lives that I have touched positively as a result of that tragedy. Because the compassion my heart has felt every moment since goes beyond what most can bear in a lifetime. Because the beauty of a bird can bring tears to my eyes, and the wonder in a child’s eyes can warm my heart.

I have come to know a faith that is beyond this world and a joy that I feel each day, no matter what is going on in the world around me.

So yes, it was a gift, even though the wrapping paper was f*cking sh*tty, and I hated every moment of the process.

Because of it, I am the person I am today—the one with the rose-colored glasses. It is the reason I can look at our country and see beyond what the media displays and the people shout. I see the changes that are just beyond the horizon, and they look pretty f*cking good to me.

I can even see Trump, despite all his shortcomings, as a gift.

I don’t see a man taking power who has already said and done so many things that go against the things I believe. I see a million women rising up and finding their voice.

I don’t see chaos. I see change.

I don’t see Facebook getting blown up by political posts, I see people reaching deep down within themselves and figuring out what it is they believe. I see our country four and eight years down the road as a better place. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Despite the pregnancy loss, I have been given the gift of three other beautiful children. As most moms know, one of our jobs is to spend hours in the car driving our children from one activity to the next. Just yesterday I drove a car full of 16-year-olds home, and I did what I always do—I listened to their conversation.

Within a few moments, the conversation turned to politics. But it was beyond politics. They discussed the impact of climate control, the necessity of space travel, confirmation hearings, the Department of Education and the importance of speaking the truth when you are the U.S. President. Never in my life, in all the years I have been carpooling, has the conversation been this interesting and thought-provoking.

How great is that? What a gift! Without Trump getting elected and all that has occurred since, I would have only born witness to conversations about homework, dating and who has the longest running Snapchat streak.

Is our country messy right now? Absolutely. It is messy because people who are not used to using their voice are forgetting the Golden Rule. We are forgetting to “do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” This holds true for our 45th president as well.

We are forgetting respect and compassion. It’s not about shutting up or stopping the posts or tweets. It’s about communicating consciously, speaking what is in our hearts, all while keeping the bigger picture in mind.

Yes, I see everything in life as a gift, no matter how sh*tty the wrapping paper. It has been years since I have taken off my sunglasses, and put on my rose-colored glasses. And it is pretty damn sunny here, just the way I like it.

I have a pair waiting for you. Just uncurl your fists and open your palms. Take my hand. I will show you the way.

 

 

Author: Beth Mund

 


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The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

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I was blessed to have grown up in the seventies.  I was able to play outside until dark, walk downtown to the local candy store, and I was lucky enough to not have a cell phone.  My parents did not know where I was or who I was with.  It was up to me to figure out how I was to act, think and feel.

Did I make mistakes?  Of course.  I made a lot of mistakes, but I am here.  I am alive.  I survived.  And I learned a whole bunch of life lessons that have served me well.

I am an adult now, and have children of my own.  Teenagers and a seven year old, to be specific.  I do not envy them, growing up in a world where safety is even a question when they go off to school or to the movies.  Where I grew up in the disco era, they have grown up in the mass shooting era. As parents, all the violence makes us want to wrap them up, keep them safe, know where they are at all times.  I get it.  But we cannot control if something horrific happens to them, or even more likely, if they make a mistake.

With the development of technology, parents have been able to know where our kids are at all times.  We are able to track their cell phones, knowing if they are where they said they would be.  Now, we can hover even more.  As discussed in the article, How to Monitor Your Kids iPhone or Android This new device created by “Teen Safe,” now allows you to know every single text they send out, even those that they deleted.

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What is the result of tracking our kids to closely?  Children do not learn how to make their own decisions, navigate the world, and yes, break the rules.  We are attempting to prolong something inevitable.  It is called growing up.  We are so laced in fear, so afraid of our child making the wrong move, becoming disappointed, or not living up to our expectations, that we want to do whatever we can to prevent this from happening.

Mistakes are our biggest teachers in life.  They allow us to figure out what we think, feel and believe.  But society does not allow us to make mistakes without paying for them.  We shame and we judge.  Remember Monica Lewinsky?  How can we forget the national stage in 1998, that showcased her mistakes.  Do you know what she said about it seventeen years later?  It was not the affair, but the humiliation she felt, the judgements and the ongoing criticism she received, that nearly killed her.  “One of the unintended consequences of my agreeing to put myself out there and to try to tell the truth had been that shame would once again be hung around my neck like a scarlet-A albatross. Believe me, once it’s on, it is a bitch to take off.”

If we release judgement about making mistakes, allowing our children to fall down, brushing themselves off can be the biggest gifts a teenager can receive.  Psychologist Wendy Mogel’s book, Blessings of a B Minus she goes on to say, “As leaders of our children, it is essential for us to step back from the urgency, the mistakes, the heartbreaks, the rejection. “By taking a deep breath and withdrawing, you make space for your child to grow.”

Adolescents need compliments, attention and family dinners.  They need supportive, experiences of independence – taking the train by themselves, flying to another state or country, volunteering and hanging out with their friends.  Adolescents need guidance, not constant monitoring. They need to hear, “I love you no matter what,” as often as possible.

Yes, with cell phones, the stakes are higher for them to make a mistake.  In their fast paced technology packed world, they have little time to think about what they want to say before they hit send.  But that is not a reason to monitor their every move or text.  We need to reach down within ourselves, take a deep breath, and release the control.

We are trying to lock them up in a safe little box, so that we will not have to feel any pain at their mistakes, or God forbid, something worse happening to them.  But we cannot control any of it.  It is an illusion to think we can prevent our children from experiencing pain, sadness or disappointment.  We are all here to learn, grow and experience life.  It is not about good or bad, but how we grow, what we learn.  We had many years to teach our children, by the time they are teenagers we need to release our grip, ease up on the reins, give them some lee way so that they can develop their own moral compass, not continue to rely on ours.

The biggest challenge and yet most important job we have as parents is to learn how to let go.  The biggest mistake I ever made was not wanting my children to make the same mistakes I did. They just might, or even make a few of their own. We just need to love them no matter what.