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Josh Misner, PhD

Mindful Living in a Distracted World

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Gratitude

23 Father’s Days, and These 7 Lessons Are All I Have to Show For It

A dozen years passed between the first time I witnessed the birth of one of my children and the last time I cut an umbilical cord. I was a mere 19 years old the first time, blissfully ignorant, arrogant, and ready to take on the world, while at 31, for my last child’s birth, I had grown, changed, and matured considerably. In fact, I was barely the same person.

This Father’s Day marks the 23rd time I’ve claimed my right to the holiday, and although my entire world changed between the first and last birth, even more has changed from the last birth until today (almost exactly a decade). Continue reading “23 Father’s Days, and These 7 Lessons Are All I Have to Show For It”

A Soul Generated By Love (For Oren)

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“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly” – Richard Bach

Last Saturday, February 28, 2015, the world lost Oren Miller, a soul generated by love.

I was never blessed with the opportunity to meet Oren in the flesh, but in today’s age of communication technology, that fact is nearly moot. It was shortly after another tragedy, that of the Sandy Hook school shooting, that Oren greeted me with virtual open arms, into the fold of the Dad Bloggers community on Facebook.  Back then, we were just a few hundred guys who wanted to promote the virtues of fatherhood and to advocate for the right of men to be a dad and all that being a dad entails. Continue reading “A Soul Generated By Love (For Oren)”

The 12 Days of Fatherhood

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote, “A few days after we came home from the hospital, I sent a letter to a friend, including a photo of my son and some first impressions of fatherhood. He responded, simply, ‘Everything is possible again.’ It was the perfect thing to write because that was exactly how it felt.”

Parenthood is all about possibility and new beginnings. Many of us, myself included, may have grown up in less than ideal conditions when it comes to the father-child bond, but that doesn’t mean that those patterns have to continue. Each and every day we wake up again, we have the opportunity in front of us to do it all over again, or as the Auschwitz survivor, Viktor Frankl said, we can “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.”

Personally, I am a walking example of this. Being one of four children myself, as well as the youngest, I grew up pretty independent and fending for myself. Though I didn’t suffer or starve, I found myself on many occasions craving something from my parents that they weren’t equipped to provide, and that was the gift of presence. Ever since becoming a father myself, now a father of four, I have seen firsthand the impact a father’s presence can have upon his children.

In today’s media, you may read that fathers are more important now than ever before. I believe that is misleading. Fathers have always been important throughout history, fathers are important today, and fathers will continue to be important tomorrow.

Today, I’d like to share with you a plan I call “The 12 Days of Fatherhood.” These are simple, down-to-earth activities that we can all do with kids of any age, once a day, starting on the 14th of December. I have done all of them before, by the way, but I plan on sharing with you stories from my experience on how they have impacted my relationship with my children. If we merely spend a fraction of our time committing to the once-a-day activities on this list, that minuscule investment of time will have greater returns on your investment than you could ever imagine.

Continue reading “The 12 Days of Fatherhood”

Father-Son Duo, Team Hoyt, Celebrates 37 Years of Inspiring Teamwork With One Last Boston Marathon

 PHOTO: Dick Hoyt pushes Rick Hoyt as they compete in the 2008 Boston Marathon on April 21,2008 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

In 1962, Dick and Judy Hoyt welcomed their son, Rick, into an unsuspecting world; a world that would forever be changed by their presence and sacrifice. Because of complications with his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. According to a CBS interview, Dick remembers the advice of the doctors who suggested that his son would essentially be non-functioning, and that he should place him in an institution.

Dick refused. Continue reading “Father-Son Duo, Team Hoyt, Celebrates 37 Years of Inspiring Teamwork With One Last Boston Marathon”

Day 3: Sharing Our Gratitude

There will be no images today, no witty short-attention-span-videos from Vine to share, and no memes extolling the virtues of parenting.

Today’s task was in the heartfelt expression of appreciation for my children.

I’m a big believer and proponent of gratitude lists.  By starting each and every day with listing things that I am grateful for at that moment, it changes my perspective and forces me to think critically about what is right with my life, rather than what may be lacking.

Today, however, that was turned around.  I wasn’t just writing about what I am grateful for, but what I am grateful to experience as a result of being my children’s father.  It took me a whopping 10 minutes to hand write three different lists of 10 things I appreciate about each of my children who are still living at home.

10 minutes.  In that amount of time, I could have gotten a refill on my coffee.  In that amount of time, I could have popped a bag of popcorn for lunch.  In that amount of time, I could have done at least a hundred other menial tasks that have no bearing on the meaning I ascribe to my existence, but today, I chose to do otherwise.

Shortly after my kids came home from school, I pulled them aside individually and read them the lists, one-by-one.  For my youngest daughter, one item included her dimples, at which point, she smiled, letting them shine.  Another item included her hugs at the perfect moment, at which point, she proved me right, squeezing me tightly.  As I read my youngest son’s list to him, I started noticing a trend…

For each item I expressed gratitude, my children enacted that very item.  My son even asked if I would read his to him again, at which point, he re-enacted them all again.

The best part?  My youngest daughter, later this evening, created her own list of 10 things to share with her mother, who was having a particularly rough day and needed to hear just how much she is loved and appreciated.  Then, my wife turned and created her own lists in return for each of them.

Mother Teresa once said, “I have found the paradox; that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”  I think she was onto something with this.  As we express our appreciation, it invites others into relationship with us, encouraging further behavior for which the original gratitude was expressed.

The only drawback to this exercise?  It took 10 minutes away from my normal daily routine.  

Not much of a drawback, is it?

Fatherhood just got real

It should come as no surprise, to those who even barely know me, to learn that, at my house, Star Wars is practically a way of life.  This also means that Lego Star Wars is a daily topic for conversation, especially with the recent Cartoon Network Lego Star Wars special episodes that have become a staple of our viewing habits.

For Fathers Day, Lego put together a stop-motion animation video, celebrating the joys of fatherhood, depicting Vader and Luke engaged in various activities together.  Take a look for yourself:

This morning, I excitedly rounded up the two little ones and showed them this masterpiece.  They enjoyed it and watched it a few more times before I settled in to get some grading done.

Then, it got quiet.  Too quiet.  Anyone with children knows the dangers that serenity foreshadows.

My daughter came into the room and said, “Parker’s in his room crying, Dad.”

Uh-oh…

My first response was, “What did you do to your brother?”

“Nothing!  I don’t know why he’s crying!”

Yeah, right.

I put the computer down and went in to his room, expecting to play referee and call a foul on my daughter for having taken things too far.

Nope.

He was curled up in the fetal position, pillow over his head, sobbing great, big, sloppy ones.  “Hey, buddy, what’s wrong?”  As soon as I asked, he started crying even harder, but wouldn’t answer me.  I pried and prodded, but still, nothing.  No answers, just more tears.

I picked him up and held him close.  I sang our favorite song (Hush Little Digger), rubbed his back, and reassured him that everything was okay, but still, he cried.  I asked why again, and he finally responded with a sobbing, “I d-d-d-don’t know!”

Hmm…

I asked if he hurt himself.  Nope.  I asked if he had a headache, since his molars are coming in, after all.  Nada.  Finally, I asked if there was something making him sad.

Bingo.

On a hunch, I asked him if it was the Lego Star Wars video, to which he replied, “Y-y-y-y-essss!”

Putting it all together, I recognized what was happening.  I asked him if it was because, in the end of the video (I hope you watched it by now, or else this is a spoiler), Luke leaves and Vader sheds a Sith tear.  Yep—nailed it.  I then spent the next fifteen minutes or so reassuring him that I wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was he.

What blew me away was the depth of this five year-old boy’s sensitivity.  Children this young *get* a lot more than we, as adults, ever give them credit for, and for him to recognize from this brief video the pain of separation is a testament to our bond as father and child.

I am one heck of a blessed guy this Fathers Day.

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