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Josh Misner, PhD

Mindful Living in a Distracted World

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Striking Realizations

The Bookmarks to Our Life Stories

fb_img_1428860458077_900858ba3edad2232d66bc617464e937.today-inline-largeThis week, the online world was introduced to a young man named Carter Gentle, a brave little boy with a congenital heart defect who has undergone multiple open-heart surgeries, and when looking at his chest riddled with scars, Carter cried when seeing them out of the fear of being judged by others as hideous or ugly. Carter’s dad, though, acted nobly by sharing this story online, so that his son could hear from the rest of the world how beautiful he is because of the stories his scars tell us about uncommon strength. In less than 24 hours, Carter had over half a million people reassure him that his scars were not only nothing to be ashamed of, but stories of which he should be proud. As of this writing, that number is in the millions.

As Carter’s story spread, others came forward to share their scar stories, as well as how they came to terms with what those scars represented to them. The sharing of this story has given way to a crucial conversation on the definition of beauty as it relates to personal “flaws,” and more importantly, how we, as a society, allow our culture to define what is flawed. These conversations have been ongoing in my family for the last seven years or so, thanks to one event that could be considered any parent’s nightmare. Continue reading “The Bookmarks to Our Life Stories”

Of Products, Perfection, and the Process of Parenting

255570_794709274363_186471642_nBedtime: A word representing that time of day for a parent that either inspires anticipation or instills dread. For a great many of us, the latter is the case, for when we announce, “It’s bedtime!” — our children often tap into some previously undiscovered energy reserve, which is then channeled into arguing, protesting, and if your children are like mine, the ancient ninja art of escape.

Sometimes, we give in, too tired ourselves to fight, and then they fall asleep in the most unlikely places: Continue reading “Of Products, Perfection, and the Process of Parenting”

Why I Will Never Carpe Diem Again

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“Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” The moment I heard those words fall from Mr. Keating’s lips in Dead Poets Society, I felt myself come alive. Even as a headstrong teenager, I knew Keating was right, and I set out to suck the marrow out of life, to seize each day, and to make it extraordinary. From that day forward, back in 1989, I committed myself to those two familiar words, made immortal through a near-extinct language: carpe diem. Continue reading “Why I Will Never Carpe Diem Again”

5 Steps Toward Parental Perfection

What do nearly all parents have in common with Heath Ledger’s Joker?  Take a look at the following quote:

a8cbd262a627a304e694027ae9f5b65f4c090c3145f558322492098b8d2bec2dWhat this quote from Ledger’s legendary portrayal of Batman’s nemesis does is perfectly encapsulate the essence of chaos, and what this has in common with most of us is the pursuit of perfection, for most of us wouldn’t know what to do with it, IF we ever caught it, but continue to chase it, we must.

Earlier today (thanks in part to HowToBeADad.com‘s post on Hindsight Parenting and how wise parents become when looking at our experiences in retrospect), I asked my wife what, if anything, she would advise our children someday, when the time comes for them to become parents.  Her response was a brilliantly simple as it was beautifully profound. Continue reading “5 Steps Toward Parental Perfection”

A Testament to Teachers & Social Media

About a month or so ago, I wrote an article in praise of my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Ray, partly because I was reminiscing about him with my daughter, explaining how he played a vital father-figure-esque role in my childhood, but also partly because of a case of mistaken identity.  At my daughter’s behest, I Googled Mr. Ray and found what I thought was his obituary, so I did what any of his former students would have done, considering his profound influence on our lives: I eulogized him on my site.

Not more than a few hours later, I received a message from Mr. Ray, correcting my blunder and noting that it was his brother’s obituary that I found.  See, his brother was also a teacher in the same city where I grew up, but also looked remarkably like the man I thought I remembered, so the mistake was understandable.  Nevertheless, I retracted the article immediately and rewrote it, but that was only the beginning of the story.

Today, I had the chance to spend some time with Mr. Ray, who still teaches elementary school to this day.  We met at a local coffee shop and bakery, settled into a dark corner on a couch in the back of the house, and lobbed stories back and forth in an effort to catch-up.  We swapped tales about life since our last meeting, nearly 30 years ago, and after that, we fished out our old stories from the dark recesses of our minds, dusted them off, and reminisced about playing battle ball, butts up, and ruthlessly difficult research-based trivia games.

As I reflect on the experience even now, I feel as though the meeting may have been a surreal dream, because it is almost unbelievable that, what started as a leisurely conversation with my daughter on our way to school about a month ago ended with a reunion among mentor and mentee, where I was able to introduce my children to the man from whom many of their lessons in morality, sportsmanship, and character originated.

We truly live in an amazing time, in which we have the powerful potential to connect with one another by way of the very tools that also threaten to separate us.  Let my story be a reminder that social media is a tool, just like a hammer.  As the old saying goes, to the little boy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but to the mindful carpenter, the hammer can be used to create beauty.

If we are mindful of how we wield this tool, we may allow it fill our lives with the same grace and wonder as this stranger-than-fiction story provided me.

To Mr. Ray, thank you for allowing me to tell you a little bit about how much you meant to me, while I still had the chance.

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