It's All Good

“Sorry for being so tired, sad, and overwhelmed,” I quietly said to my husband as I stared over at our two youngest kids doing cartwheels and dance moves in the pool. I hate being tired. Being sad and overwhelmed is even worse. It's the trifecta of emotional drama. So much of what I was creating emotionally and physically in this moment originated in my thoughts, and yet I was having an especially hard time recalibrating today. No judgment, I reminded myself. Ha! I downed a second cup of coffee midday to stave it off. No luck. Maybe if I managed my mind a little more closely, my day and my overall mood would improve. Easier said than done.

But CB seemed unfazed.

“Mart. You've got this!” he said kindly. 

“Yeah, barely, but right now I'm doing the best that I can,” I said, holding back tears. 

“Well, it's all good. You're showing up. That’s all that matters,” CB said with his usual sweetness. 

I sighed deeply, and gazed off in the distance. Tears cascading down my cheeks. Why was I so tired? Every muscle ached, and my heart felt so sad. Although I was physically present, my head was a million miles away trying to grasp our new reality. I missed Ellie and Ben, our two oldest, whom we said goodbye to weeks earlier as we dropped them off for their senior and junior year at Culver Academies. I missed our home on Twixwood Lane and the very best neighbors anyone could ask for. I missed our dear friends and family. I missed my Notre Dame clients. I missed the familiar. The known. I missed driving places without needing my GPS. I missed my routine. I missed being on autopilot a portion of my day so that I wasn’t so fatigued by the end of it. It was only 3 weeks earlier that we had bid farewell to our beloved Midwest, our home for the last 17 years. All of this for a new adventure, new growth. 

CB touched my leg and looked me straight in my eyes. 

“Hey babe,” he said with intense seriousness. 

“Yes? What?” 

A pause. 

“You’re doing an awesome job.” 

“Really?” 

“Yes.” 

"No use fighting it. I am just trying to sit with all of these yucky feelings. These too shall pass. It's all good.” 

It's all good is our family mantra. It came into being when we lived in Guatemala for a year, and it seemed to encapsulate being human on a daily basis. It’s all good meant that the struggle, the unknown, the beauty, the rawness, the exhaustion, the real, the awesome, the confusion, the learning, the fear, the messy — it was all good. Nothing more, nothing less. Whatever it was, big or small—I, we, dear friends who knew the saying declared: “It's all good!” It has become our go-to, a catchphrase, like a secret password, reminding us to slow down, to breathe, to question our crazy thought patterns, to stop being so perfectionistic and relentlessly hard on ourselves, and to celebrate all the highs, lows, and in-betweens in life. No harsh judgment allowed. It’s all good.

Your volleyball coach is an ass and he basically told the entire team that you are his favorite player because “even though you have no talent and no athleticism, you have a good work ethic and a positive attitude.” Wow. Although devastated, you are holding your head up for the most part and keeping a perspective on things. You might quit. Or not. You are focusing on what you can control and making eye contact and inroads with the other players. It’s still awkward. You are questioning your thoughts that are making it personal, and choosing to soften those with not making it all about you. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are resilient. It’s so hard. It's all good. 

A work colleague loses his temper and holds a grudge based on a mistake you made. You owned the mistake, but felt rattled by his reaction. It threw you off your game for a few days, more time than you would have liked, but you rallied. You're learning to not rely on and seek out external validation as the only barometer for your performance. It's really an inside job. It's a process. Baby steps. It's all good. 

You say something that your friends interpret as strange. You feel weird. Insecure. You want to crawl into a hole. You don't. You own your weird. It's all good. 

Your ACT score is lower than you would like. It will likely hold you back from getting into the school of your dreams. You remind yourself that it is just a number. One very small piece of you. There's so much more to you. You're crushed. You recalibrate. You consider your 2nd and 3rd college choices. You get back to work. You hope. You pray. It's all good. 

Your Mom struggles handling constructive criticism. She takes it personally. She gets hurt easily. You are frustrated. Angry. You bridge the gap by recognizing that she is doing the best that she can. So are you. You realize that you are becoming an adult and sometimes your parent is an emotional child. The roles are reversed. How and when did that happen? Welcome to being on the verge of adulthood. You realize that your parents are human. It's all good. 

Your heart was broken by a boy, but you conjured up the courage to start talking to another boy and join him and his friends for dinner. You’re nervous, and feeling vulnerable. It's all good. 

You’re struggling with depression and it’s hard to do much of anything but you shared your struggle with your roommate and walked over to the counseling center and scheduled an appointment with a therapist. You go, sister! It's all good. 

If you're having a crap day, if life is just feeling like too much, if things are just crazy...remember, it's going to be okay. Get a handle on those thoughts that are creating the tired, the crazy, the overwhelm. If you’re able to, shift them to something a little softer, a little kinder, a little more forgiving. If not, sit with them and know that they will pass through you. Know that you are going to make it. Even in the messiness of it all, you are going to be okay.

It's all good, people.

 

Holding Space

I believe that the more self-aware we are as parents, the better we are at holding space for our young adults and allowing them the process of finding their way through this beautiful, hard, excruciating, and sweet gig of life. Our children's greatest desire and need is to be seen, known, and loved without fixing or judging. It means being more of a witness as a parent, listening intently, and creating a safe place to land for our young people. 

At times, my inclination with my children is to want to shield them from the messiness of life. I somehow believe that I have the answers to many of their ails and if they would just follow my lead, all would be well. What I have come to learn, not always easily, is that my reactions to my children and where they are in their worlds has so much to do with my own stuff, and my need for feeling better. My own anxieties, motives, and judgments creep in, so instead of being a safe place to land, I run roughshod over them and their process. By doing this, I lose the magic of connecting with them and grounding them. 

As I grow in my own self-awareness, I am leaning into allowing my children space to grow and evolve without having a set agenda of what I think they need to be to be okay. Their beings are less about me and more about them. Our tendency as parents is to believe that they are a reflection of us and our parenting, and I think to a certain degree that is true. But when it comes to figuring out the question Who Am I?, this is theirs to answer and ours to respect and hold space for them to explore. Instead of trying to fix our young wobbly insecure adults, or shield them from the struggle, or solve their problems because we think this will protect them from unnecessary pain, consider holding space for them and teaching them how to feel their feelings, go through the hard and messy, ask questions, and build a skill set to problem solve on their own. What about just letting them be unsure, angry, or sad, or scared and not doing anything to take it away, but to be with them as they figure it out. How about asking them Author Kelly Corrigan's goldmine of a question, "Tell me more..." This kind of opening allows for learning on both sides because we are communicating from a place of truly listening and seeing one another. It's not about fixing.

Teaching our children to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, to straddle the unknown, to feel the sad, to express the anger without exploding and inflicting pain on others, and to acknowledge the fear without covering it up is core to their wellness and emotional resiliency. Instead of fixing the hard, choose to listen instead. Ask questions. Hold them. Hang with them. Gently inquire about what is going on and help them process through their emotions. Do they want advice or support? Why are they feeling sad? Insecure? Angry? Unsure? What are the thoughts that they are having on repeat that are only perpetuating their feelings? Is there another thought that they can have that softens these feelings and allows for some relief? Tell me more...

We all desire our children to have confidence. Emotional resiliency. Connection. When you create a safe space for them to be seen, known, and loved, this is the gift of holding space. 

You Are Not Defective

I have worked with hundreds of young adults who are insecure and do not feel good enough. Just because you feel insecure does not mean that something is wrong with you! In fact, it is developmentally appropriate. It means that you are human and you are in the messy and beautiful business of finding your fit and figuring out who you are. This journey of self-exploration can be glorious and miserable, enriching and painful, sweet and angsty. 

Your job as a human and young adult is to figure out who you are, and in the same breath, appreciate your sense of individuality. It isn't about morphing into who you think you should be or who others might desire you to be. It is about you figuring out YOU and putting the pieces together to create your masterpiece. It is about becoming YOU very well. Find your fit. Understand your leanings. Work with your strengths, and compensate for your weaknesses. If you are struggling with this a bit, find support. Seek therapy. Get excellent medical care. Consider medication if necessary. Own it all. Love it all. Ask for help where and when needed, and get to work! 

Social media is presenting a very alluring but dangerous and inauthentic picture of connection, belonging, and happiness. What you see on your instagram and snapchat accounts is not real. It is an airbrushed version of life. When you stay on the surface, there's no real connection and meaning. Is it any wonder that you struggle to feel whole and good enough with this as your bar? Seriously, people! Stop the crazy. Take a social media hiatus. Fast from your phone for a day. Or two. Feeling defective is commonplace now. You are being sold a bill of goods. You are so far from defective. There is nothing wrong with you.

Wherever you are in this moment, you are exactly where you are meant to be, and it is your job from this day forward to build a relationship with yourself that is about curiosity, compassion, growth, and love. Start journaling. Take walks. Go for a run. Meditate. Get to know the different parts of yourself. The light, the dark, the in-between. It's all good. 

Dig in, be present, conscious, and question everything that isn't working for you. Tweak where needed. Get help. Work hard. Try, try, try again. And all the while, walk this journey with yourself and find the path that honors your gifts, creates connection, cultivates purpose, and contributes to the greater whole. I believe in you! Now, get moving -- the world needs messy and beautiful you! ox