Friday, September 19, 2014

Lessons I've Learned From My Father

Yesterday was my father's 64th birthday. In honor of this occasion, I would like to present the latest installment of my lessons I've learned series: Lessons I've Learned From My Father.

- Spend time with your children. My dad worked a lot when I was a child. I remember days when he would leave for work before I got up for school and get home around dinner time. But he still had time to spend with his four children. We played together. We went to the park. We went to the zoo, the Children's Museum, church functions, school functions, and spent time together at home. When I was getting older and we had "Family Life" classes at school, my dad would take me to Village Inn to get a piece of pie and talk about what we were learning. Those could have been really awkward talks. But they weren't. My dad was spending time with me. That wasn't all we talked about. We talked about what was worrying me, how school was going, etc. I will always remember those times and that is why I try to have "Mommy and K days" with my daughter as often as I can with two little boys around. When the boys get older, I will try to have "Mommy and Little K days" and "Mommy and T-Rex days" too!

- Don't let your children be concerned about your problems. As adults, we go through a lot of stuff. It's important that our children know that they do not need to be concerned with our problems. Kids have enough to worry about without taking on our issues as well!

When I would get worried about something when I was a kid, my dad would always say to me, "What kind of problem is that?"
I would respond with, "An adult problem."
"So," he would say, "What should you do?"
"Don't worry about it."

If you are going through something, sometimes it is important for your kids to know what you are going through. For example, if you have a chronic illness. Your kids will want to know what's wrong with mom (or dad). But even if it is something that you tell your kids about, let them know that it is not something they need to worry about. Let them know that mom and dad are taking care of it. If they have questions, they can ask. But they shouldn't worry about it, whatever it may be.

- Be silly with your kids! My dad loves to sing. To this day, he still sings silly songs to his dog and to his grand kids. Sometimes when he's in a really silly mood, he might even sing them to his grown kids. I caught this habit from him and I sing silly songs to my kids. My daughter says I'm crazy. My husband says I'm weird, but they still laugh when I sing my silly songs. My dad's silly songs are one my favorite things about him!

- Show your spouse affection. Don't let your kids saying "Eww" when you give your spouse a quick peck on the lips deter you from showing affection. I always knew my parents loved each other because of how they treated each other and those little kisses and pet names were one way they showed it.

There's a lot of other things I learned from my dad, but I could write a book if I kept going.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I love you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Turning Point - How September 11, 2001 Changed My Life

I was already feeling depressed. I'd been going downhill for a little while now, but I wasn't really aware of what was going on with me. Then, it happened.

September 11, 2001 is a day that will go down in history for all Americans. Mostly, we remember how we united as Americans and the signs of love and compassion in New York City where the twin towers fell. For me, it was a personal turning point.

I had a little bit of difficulty getting moving on the morning of September 11, 2001. It was after 8:30 am. My class was at 10 am and I wasn't even out of bed yet. The phone rang. It was my roommate's sister. She told me to turn on the TV. She was a jokester, so I wondered what silliness she was up to today. When I turned on the television, my annoyance at being roused from my sleep was quickly replaced by shock.
"What happened," I asked her.
"Someone crashed planes into the World Trade Center. They crashed one into the Pentagon too."
I watched the news for a few minutes and then I got ready for my class which was, interestingly enough, Introduction to Islam.
We spent the class speaking about what led up to these events. We talked about the Taliban's rise to power. The professor stressed that these actions were not indicative of Islam itself. Some of the Muslims in the class spoke about how they were feeling. It was an enlightening experience.

The next week was difficult for me. There was an overarching sense of insecurity, sadness, and depression throughout the university campus. For reasons I didn't really understand, I seemed to experience these feelings even more deeply than the others around me. Within a couple of weeks, others had moved on with their daily lives. I had moved on as well, but this sense of sadness wasn't leaving. I didn't know why. For a while, I thought I was getting sick. I went to the doctor. They said nothing was wrong with me. Then, one day in March, my professor for one of my classes said the words that broke open that shell.
"You just seem really depressed."
I cried.
Then I sought counseling.

It was a turning point for me. I still don't know if I would have started to feel depressed if the events of September 11, 2001 hadn't occurred. I still don't know if I was already depressed before these events took place. I was depressed, yes. I needed help, counseling, and medication to get over that. But when I was off the medication, when I was no longer depressed, when I opened myself up and really explored those emotions, I discovered something about myself. That something is what has led me on my current career path. That turning point 13 years ago has led me to pursue my Master's Degree in Clinical Counseling. September 11, 2001 changed the lives of so many people in so many ways. This is how it changed mine.