Plugged in and Disconnected (aka: Connecting With Kids)

“I’m baking poppy seed muffins!” I call out from the kitchen. “Who wants to join me?”

Sometimes my youngest son or my daughter stops whatever they were doing to join in. Sometimes no one. Which is actually fine, because let’s face it, it is much easier to bake poppy seed muffins or cakes or cookies by myself than with one of my kids. But that’s not the point.

I flop into my favorite chair in the living room. “So, what are we watching for movie night?” I ask the kids. Because at least twice a month, we have a movie night. Sometimes we rent from Redbox or so what’s on Netflix or pay-per-view. Sometimes we watch a comedy, or something thrilling or adventurous. Very rarely do we watch one of my favorite types of movies, but I don’t mind.

That’s not the point.

It’s about connection. I love spending unplugged time with my kids. By unplugged, I mean that the portable devices are off, the computers are off, and the only video games allowed are the ones that we are playing together. If I didn’t make a conscious effort to spend moments like these with my three kids, then they would probably spend a great deal of time “plugged in and disconnected,” as I like to put it. But  I want to teach my kids that connecting with people — really connecting, is the thing that adds value to life.

Plugged in Kids

It’s not always an easy thing to connect with kids. Each one is so different, with different interests and ways of communicating. My 9-year-old, for example, is an extrovert. He really gets his energy from being with other people. So to connect with him, I have to really be “in the moment” with him, actively listening to his stories and giving feedback. My daughter, whose personality is most like mine, is happy to connect in a variety of ways, from going for bike rides to cooking meals to reading teen novels together and discussing our favorite parts. My teen is a little trickier, as he prefers to withdraw beneath his headphones in his world of music, video games,  and YouTube videos. But sometimes I flop down beside him and stare at the screen along with him while he explains what’s so cool about it. I’ve also found that my teen will open up and talk about his life while the two of us engage in a game of table tennis or Nerf Ball catch in the living room.

 

 

I don’t always make a big deal out of connection time. After all, human contact is supposed to happen naturally. But in this odd age of electronic entertainment, sometimes our kids need a little nudge to pull away from the virtual world and reconnect to people in the real world. As do I.

connecting with kids

GREAT WAYS TO CONNECT WITH KIDS

1. Read a book or series of books together as a family.

My kids and I have enjoyed the Harry Potter Books, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and the Pendragon series, among others. Sometimes I let my kids suggest the book, and sometimes I do the research to find something that we can all enjoy. Stumped? Try Planet Esme — I’ve used her children’s book suggestions for years with great success. Older readers? Hard to go wrong with the American Library Association’s suggestions.

2. Have a regular Family Movie Night.

In our house, Movie Night happens on Friday Nights, often with popcorn, cocoa, or homemade pizza. It isn’t always easy to find a movie that will suit everyone, so occasionally someone will opt out of Movie Night, and that’s okay, too.

Connecting with kids in nature

3. Find a reason to head outdoors together.

Hiking, biking, kicking around the soccer ball, flying a kite, tossing a frisbee, playing tennis in the park — there are so many great things to do outdoors with kids. If your kids are the hard-to-motivate type, then make hiking fun by passing around binoculars, setting up a nature scavenger hunt, or trying out Geocaching (more on this to come in a future post).

4. Root for a Team Together

I am still trying to make this one work with my kids. It’s tricky, because I am the only real sports fan in the family. But maybe one day…

5. Travel Together

Part of the fun is in the planning. Weeks in advance, I get my kids involved in helping to decide where to stay, what to do, and what to eat during our trip. When camping, I let them help to pick the spot, plan the meals, etc. The more involved the kids are, the more the vacation becomes “our trip” and not just mine.

6. Try New Hobbies

This doesn’t always mean together. After all, my kids and I share pretty different interests for the most part. But if my son decides to get into advanced yo-yo tricks, then I am happy to connect with him by watching his tricks, suggesting sources for learning new things, shopping for yo-yos, and cheering him on as his skills improve.

7. Explore New Foods

My kids and I have gone through a variety of international cooking phases, from Thai to Indian to French cuisine. We enjoy exploring ethnic markets for interesting foods, picking out restaurants, and, of course, tasting. Some foods turn out to be total flops, but others become family favorites that we return to time after time.

8. Grow  a Garden

For us, gardening is a family affair. My kids and I have built a raised bed together, studied garden books, planted, and cared for our small vegetable garden for years. This year, we are planning to continue our tradition at a community garden. It is a great way to connect with each other and with nature while growing our own healthy foods.

9. Family Game Night

This can mean a rousing group game on the WiiU or a good old-fashioned game of Checkers, Connect Four, or Monopoly. My kids and I recently discovered The Game of Life Zapped Edition, which uses an Ipad to turn a great family classic into something extra-special.

10. Make Something Together

This can mean woodworking, model kits, Lego structures, baking a cake and decorating it creatively, making handicrafts, or whatever sounds fun. You don’t have to be talented or skilled. The public library is brimming with how-to books that kids and parents alike can benefit from.

Goodnight iPad

Other good resources for family fun together:

Spoonful

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/842477/50-family-fun-night-ideas-for-families

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44 responses to “Plugged in and Disconnected (aka: Connecting With Kids)

  1. In addition to the pain of the Manchester United result against Chelsea, upon which we will not dwell at length, there was the sadness of Barcelona’s tie with Levante, which left them in a position vulnerable to overtaking by the cheaters and dirty players at Real Madrid! But on the plus side, AC Milan won their first game under new coach Clarence Seedorf, the ex-Ajax and AC Milan legend. Seedorf will have a tough road ahead – AC Milan is in 11th place in the league, 30 points out of first place, and the team has a lot of weaknesses, although they also have Bollotelli, Robinho and Kaka (slower than he used to be) in the attack, so they have the ablity to create beautiful goals.

    Marcus, in 9th grade, is an AC Milan fan, while Marcel, in 7th grade, is a Barcelona supporter, although he also likes nearly every other top team in the world – Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Valencia, Lyon, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Juventes, Roma, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain, England … He doesn’t yet understand that you’re not supposed to root for two teams that are rivals, LOL.

    • I sometimes root for two teams that are rivals. 😀 I also love Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal equally and hope to see a showdown at the finals of the Australian Open.

      That Man Utd. loss was a great win for my 2nd faves in the league, btw.

      Can we exclude Cristiano Ronhaldo from your list of cheaters and dirty players? Come on…he is beautiful to watch on the field! Such amazing talent. Almost makes me want to root, “Hala Madrid!” 😉 Almost.

      My kids, sadly, are completely indifferent to all of this. They just don’t connect that way. I’m hoping they’ll outgrow it.

  2. Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo is a phenom. I especially loved him when he was 21 and young and innocent, doing all his moves and fancy passes at the 2006 World Cup, when Portugal had Deco in the midfield distributing the ball and Figo at striker, and they made it to the semi-final. He was the player that really opened things up and created mismatches and open spaces.

    Hopefully they will outgrow it and see the light! 🙂

  3. One of the things that’s been tough for me as I grow older is that my siblings and I keep growing apart. We were so close growing up, it felt like we were all so similar, but in retrospect I think what we had was a bunch of shared experiences (some of them traumatic), which bonded us and gave us the same frame of reference to talk about life and share things. Part of our closeness also reflected a moderately unhealthy dose of codependence (encouraged and even imposed by my mom).

    Then, over time, as we’ve each individuated, we’ve gotten more and more like ourselves. Those little differences that seemed so small when we were kids have gotten larger and become more important. Shoshon always seemed a little scattered and disorganized, but it was just part of his artistic personality, and sure, he skipped school and soccer practice occasionally, which none of the rest of us did, but that was just part of his quirkiness. In contrast, Isho was good at coming home and doing his homework before doing anything else. He was a little more diligent, but it didn’t seem like a big deal. Now, Isho and Shoshon are so different – Shoshon is much more of a risk taker, still totally disorganized, and has a lot of trouble bringing projects to completion and sticking with a job. Isho is very risk averse, very disciplined with his diet and exercise, but also seems somewhat constrained, trapped and unhappy. He and Shoshon have such a different outlooks and approaches that it’s almost impossible to go on surf camping trips together, and they have so much conflict that they’re not currently in communication. It’s been a real eye opener to see how the assumptions we start with are so different, and the way we approach problems and relationships and emergencies is so different. I guess we have different values – the importance of security to us, finances, family, privacy, etc.

    • That’s a tough one for me to relate to. Maybe because of how normal and healthy it sounds. 😉 Perhaps most siblings are close in childhood, but grow apart as the years pass, unless they live within close proximity and/or have very similar values and lifestyles.

      I was always the “left out” kid, and adulthood is no different. My sibs closest in age to me were great friends with each other, and spent our childhood going in one direction while I went another. Two sisters were bullies who taunted and tortured me in our parents’ absence (I did not speak up – just hid away with my books). Now as adults, I really only get along with one sis, who lives in SoCal. We talk on the phone maybe once every 3 or 4 months. Another sister hates me and has shunned me for years, because my personality offends her. The others live within an hour’s drive, but we do not have what I would call a close relationship. Not by a longshot.

  4. Wow, that sounds terrible and traumatizing, I’m sorry to hear you went through all that growing up.

    It’s not quite as healthy as it sounds LOL – there were definitely some boundary issues there – but overall I was very lucky to have a good mom and a great childhood, and it didn’t really matter at all that we were poor, living on welfare and food stamps, because we had so much fun together.

    It does make real life tough though. After going camping every summer for 3 months, living outdoors and care free, building rafts out of driftwood logs to cross the Columbia River, eating fresh apricots with grape nuts and powdered milk, swimming in Lake Chelan, drawing and reading, climbing rocks and diving in the water and drying off in the sunshine and then doing it all over again – well, after living that way, sitting in an office turning myself into veal just doesn’t really compute!

    • But then, it’s not like you can’t still do those things, right? You get plenty of vacation time, so you can still go camping and do outdoor activities. You can still draw and read. You can create an outdoor space where you live, right? You can even eat Grape Nuts and powdered milk, if that’s your thing (yuck). 😉 Of course you can’t be care free and outdoors all the time, but I suppose that is just what growing up is about. We do what must be done, even though it may be tough or dull, and then spend our free time doing what we love to do.

  5. Hopefully I will be able to spend more time outdoors, much more. I havent’ been allowed to take any vacation during the first 6 months of my new job – the probationary period – and then we have to accrue the vacation time – you don’t just get 4 weeks to start with. Also, I’m going to use my first week of vacation to finish remodeling projects. But after that, yes, more time outdoors!

    Thinking about the bigger picture, while it’s true that most adults don’t spend much time outdoors, let alone being care free, I just feel like life doesn’t have to be that way. I feel like our culture and way of life are messed up, unhealthy, and almost designed to be unfulfilling (not intentionally, of course, but if someone were trying to create stress-filled lives, their plan would look kind of similar to the lives we currently live). As you’ve noted, having real, meaningful connections is super important to happiness. That’s part of the reason that books like The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies document the remarkable fact that as countries become advanced, democratic, free market economies, which are supposed to produce all the best things life has to offer more efficiently, the people in those countries find less meaning and less happiness in their lives. They also suffer from more depression and more mental illness. In contrast, people in hunter-gatherer societies and undeveloped countries experience more meaning and satisfaction in their lives, because they have real connections to people in their communities and their lives are more grounded in real experience. They also have more free time, and less constant stress. They’re certainly not fighting traffic during a commute every morning and every evening and sitting in an office all day.

    I think there should be a significant place in our lives, or at least I want to create a place in my life, where I can spend a lot of time outdoors, and I think there should also be a place for adults to be care free at least some of the time, whether it’s through creative expression or some other mode. 🙂 🙂

    • That’s an interesting way to see it, that people in less developed societies consider themselves to be happier and more satisfied with their lives. It seems counter-intuitive, considering their constant need to focus on survival, as opposed to the freedom of those in developed societies to focus more on development and recreation.

      Free time to develop one’s interests and hobbies is certainly important for balance in life. I’m sure that it will help when your vacation time kicks in and you can finally have a rest. Stress can have a huge impact on one’s sense of well-being, as well as physical health. I’ll bet it will feel great to have a long stretch of time to enjoy the outdoors, catch up on projects, etc.

      It makes sense to me that the happiest societies (not necessarily less developed societies. Denmark comes to mind) have more meaningful social connections in their communities. The idealist in me used to dream of being part of a close-knit community, in which people got together often for fellowship, helped one another in times of crisis, and celebrated the good things in life together. In fact, I used to be part of such a community, or so I thought. Now I think that such a community is something that only exists in books — not in real life. At least not in this culture.

  6. Yes, I think Denmark is a good example of a developed society that has more emotional connectedness. I think that’s one of the reasons my sister likes living there.

    I think there’s also a sense in which real life or real engagement with life is satisfying in a way that life in our society isn’t. What I’m thinking of, for example, is a time when I was in Baja with my brother, and there was a flood that washed away some bridges, and a car in front of us was stuck in an arroyo, and it got swept down the stream by the rushing water. We swam after them and helped rescue the people in the car – a woman, her 4-year-old daughter, and their uncle, none of whom could swim. Even though it was kind of dangerous and could have turned out badly, it’s also true that being in the present and reacting out of our better instincts and feeling fully engaged and helping real people with real, immediate problems, is more rewarding than, say, drafting a contract that will help protect a banking institution from a potential default in the future. The contract is so theoretical and abstract, so far removed from real people in the here and now, and the risk is attenuated. It’s tough to feel as engaged while drafting the contract.

    I think for millions of years, humans and proto humans evolved in Africa helping one another, living in small bands or tribes, dealing with problems that were immediate and real: what will we eat for dinner tongiht; let’s gather wood to build a campfire; let’s build a protective hut before sunset so we have some protection against the lions.

    And I think that real stress – the emergency of a lion attacking or a kid floating away in the river so we need to jump in to save her – is short and sudden, whereas the stress in most of our lives is more low-level and constant – how am I going to help my kids get into college in 10 years? How am I going to pay for it? How am I ever going to pay off my mortgage? How am I going to meet my bonus goals by the end of 2014? How am I going to get to work on time in this traffic (every day)? It’s weird because our stress isn’t usually caused by a real emergency, but it feels so overwhelming sometimes.

    On a more cheerful note, I’ve really gotten into making breakfast burritos 🙂 – it’s such a simple, healthy thing to make, and the boys like them.

    • Breakfast burritos are terrific! Easy to make, and yes, quite healthy.

      I think that humans are meant to live with stress. I imagine that even in less civilized societies, the struggle to survive is a very stressful thing, from the brief and powerful stressful moments of hunting, to the stress of collecting enough food, etc. to be prepared for winter, to the stress of illness and death that were much more prevalent long ago. There was not less to be stressed about — just different things.

      The important thing is knowing how to handle the stressful situations which life presents, to be aware of how that stress affects us individually, and to reduce it effectively.

    • I meant to add that I agree about the way tribes dealt with stress and life as a community. People did not have to be alone long ago. When you think about it, it is a very unnatural thing to be alone. It is not a natural thing for people to come and go, to drift in and out of one another’s lives, except perhaps for death. For many centuries, people were a part of the same community from cradle to grave. They learned to work together and get along together, because they had to, for the good of the community, and I imagine that it was also better for the spirit. Our culture today is so transient and temporary. Apparently, even people are disposable. When you outgrow them, like old shoes, you discard them and move on. When kids grow up, they are expected to go away and live separate lives. From an anthropological perspective, this to me seems like one of the ways in which humankind is declining.

  7. I agree completely that it’s not natural to be alone and isolated. I think one of the unforeseen consequences of the industrial revolution and masses of people moving to cities was that we became more isolated. Rather than living in a small village, eating around a fire together in the evenings and sharing stories and problems and ideas, and then going to sleep in a hut near the fire, people rode the subway and worked with people whom they didn’t cook with and eat with and share lives with.

    And now the post-industrial cities and suburbs are even more isolating. Instead of tenement buildings and public housing complexes where everyone knew one another, and borrowed flour and sugar from one another, now we all go our separate ways after work to our own houses in different areas. And the transcience you mentioned means we’re no longer even near our extended, intergenerational families (on a personal level, thank goodness for that! But at the societal level, maybe not so good). Child rearing used to be shared with grandparents, uncles, aunts, great uncles, great ants, first and second and third cousins, and friends, but now it’s basically just down to the parent(s), who are responsible for doing everything themselves.

    As you pointed out, when you’re with the same people from the cradle to the grave, it fosters more honesty and generosity and kindness – reciprocal altruism, as biologists would say. It’s not like you can just cheat someone and then move to a different region and avoid the guilt. You have to face them the next day and deal with their anger and perhaps retaliation. Moreover, generosity is rewarded – if you’re kind and generous to people, they are likely to be kind and generous to you in a year or 2 or 10. If you helped someone when they were starving by sharing your food, they are likely to remember in 10 years when you are starving. But that doesn’t work if you move away to a different city – all your generosity has been “wasted” (not really, but from the perspective of building up “generosity capital.”)

    So in our impersonal, lonely modern cities, towns and suburbs, the incentive to be kind, generous and honest is weaker, and the incentive to be dishonest and cheat others is stronger, and the social bonds are weaker. Relationships and friendships are less stable and less durable. No wonder so many people suffer from depression and mental illness, and their subjective well-being is lower, despite the vast oceans of material wealth and creature comforts!

    • I agree. I also think that the internet has added an even stranger twist to this. I came to a conclusion that social media, like Facebook, gives people a sort of false intimacy, which perhaps has some temporary effect of making people feel socially connected. But in reality, those social bonds are very weak – perhaps weaker than those made with acquaintances in one’s real life. (I could go on here, but I’d rather not share personal details).

      Humans crave intimacy. Okay, most humans do, while the rest of us shun it and run away screaming. But still, it is human to crave intimate relationships with other humans. And when we do not have this, we seek to fill in the gap, often in unhealthy ways. Addictions to drugs, alcohol, and video gaming; overeating, gambling, etc. Me? Perhaps I am addicted to living in the world of my imagination.

      This topic reminds me very strongly of a wonderful book I read a couple of years ago, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (a must-read for everyone, IMO). The book makes a brilliant comparison between the “savage world” and the “civilized world,” and leaves you with the question of which is which? The title comes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, but is used ironically:

      “O wonder!
      How many goodly creatures are there here!
      How beauteous mankind is!
      O brave new world!
      That has such people in’t!”

  8. I’ll have to check it out – sounds good. (BTW, what is IMO?)

    I agree, it is very human to seek intimate relationships with other humans (our survival depended on it for millions of years – we’re an interdependent, social species – so it was selected over and over and over through the generations), we’re hard-wired for it, and perhaps our imaginations serve the purpose of preventing us from going to crazy when we don’t have the real thing. It’s certainly healthier than addictions to drugs, alcohol, overeating, gambling and the like.

    We’re not very good at rejection though – that has to be one of the most painful experiences in life. Perhaps that’s because there wasn’t much rejection or abandonment throughout the long history of pre-agricultural society, so a healthy, adaptive emotional response has not yet evolved. We just don’t have the software to cope with that. Maybe when you live with the same band or tribe of 100-300 people for your whole life, hunting and gathering, rejection and abandonment are very rare things – there must have been a much higher level of cohesion and similarity from shared life experiences and shared cultural traditions. Everyone in the same group must have had very similar expectations about the nature of friendships, relationships, social status and hierarchy within the group. Now we all have different expectations based on different backgrounds and ideals, which makes the social world much tougher to negotiate.

    And then there’s the tension between craving intimate relationships versus fear of the pain when things go awry. Perhaps the internet feels safer because of the weak bonds and low emotional investment, so there’s less at stake and less to lose, but in some ways I suppose it can be less satisfying than friends IRL 🙂 and more prone to miscommunication and disillusionment.

    • Yes…in some ways a diverse society is a wonderful thing. It is a pleasure to learn about and absorb some of the customs, ideals, and habits of people who come from very different backgrounds than our own. But in truth, it is the more homogenous societies that seem to have the most social harmony. And yes, human rejection was something that our ancestors likely did not experience much, as rejection from society would also mean death in the ancient world, and even until fairly recent times, the idea that a person could be a complete social outcast was a rarity.

      I do not believe that it is possible to actually be friends with another person on the internet. I think that it is possible to pretend, but it is a false sense of intimacy between people who are really just strangers. Online, it is too easy to be false, too easy to create an identity for oneself, and to make others believe that identity, which is really only a mask for the true self. I rarely assume that people are anything like they present themselves on the internet. I usually assume that in real life, they are actually very, very different. Therefore, there is always a wall of mistrust and scepticism that allows for a kind of detachment and indifference to develop. This is so unnatural for human beings! It is like something that would have been written in a sci-fi novel from long ago to warn us of the terrible things that may come in the future, when humans are not much more valued than the machines through which we communicate.

  9. Wow, cynicism is the new realism!! 🙂 :). Actually your post made me smile.

    I hadn’t really thought very seriously about intentional falseness, I was just thinking about the limitations of communicating in writing – the same would apply to letters. You could get to know someone in a different country in the old days by being pen pals, and neither person would intentionally deceive the other person in any way, and each would be honest, but there’s still so much that gets lost in translation, and you don’t have the experience of sharing things in person, nor the benefits of nonverbal communcation, so it’s limited in those respects. There are also the limitations of self-awareness, so that people acting in good faith sometimes describe themselves differently than an objective third party would.

    I’m not very familiar with internet communication. I suppose people are false and create false identities online, but what in the world would be the point? It seems like an incredible waste of time and energy to me! Create a false persona to deceive people just because you can? I guess some people would be amused by that, but it does seem awfully silly. At least the emails I get from the Nigerian who wants to depost US$4 Million into my checking account makes sense inasmuch as it’s a tranparent attempt to get my bank account info!

    I guess I would bet money that your are basically as you describe yourself and as you present yourself on your blog. The thought has never crossed my mind that you could be any other way. There’s just too much content there! All the details and the internal consistency. I mean, it’s theoretically possible that you’re a 13-year-old living in Uruguay, but it seems so unlikely, so remote a possibility that it’s not really worth considering.

    I suppose a similar point could be made about my posts. I could change my username, but you would instantly recognize my “voice” in my writing. My mind works how it works, and I have certain types of thoughts and observations, and there’s a certain rhythm to my writing and thinking, and it would not be possible to disguise that entirely. It’s just recognizably me, because it’s part of who I am at a fundamental level.

    Diversity: even though I’m theoretically a big diversity supporter, in practice it gets quite tricky. I agree that the homogeneity in countries like Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden permits them to have much stronger social safety nets and health care policies, without the resentment of helping “other people” who aren’t like you.

    • Yep…cynicism is my new middle name. I think that there is a difference between internet communication and pen pal communication of long ago. Internet culture is a very tricky and unusual thing. And yes…it is very easy to create a false persona online. It is, in fact, a part of the culture. Even I have had other blogs for other purposes, using a different persona and name. It is role play, for the purpose of being someone else, instead of someone unworthy and incapable of real life relationships. People do it all the time. It is not difficult.

      There is a part of me in all that I write. And this blog is probably the closest representation of me. But the posts on this blog are lighthearted, bubbly, and sometimes silly, and in real life, that is not me. Maybe long ago, when I was happier or whatever, but not today.

      Anyway, I am and will always be detached and mistrustful about people whom I meet on the internet, whether it is through this blog or other channels. You may be whoever you want to be, and tell me whatever you want, and I will read and respond and not be judgmental. But for all I know, you could really be a disabled 75-year old guy living in some basement in Canada. It’s fine by me.

  10. Actually I’m a huge extrovert, and it’s only in between big parties where I get to meet lots of new strangers that I make time to get online. LOL 🙂

    It’s funny, Shoshon’s wife is a true extrovert. She describes meeting new people as being like a piece of candy – she just gets a burst of excitement from meeting a new person and talking to them and learning a little bit about them. She’s a lobbyist at the Oregon legislature, and she loves her job (luckily she lobbies for good causes – better funding for schools in poor areas, funding for the Oregon food bank to feed homeless and people who are really struggling to make ends meet). And don’t get me wrong, I really like her also, she’s super kind and has a generous spirit.

    Seriously, it’s a fair point that role play is part of the internet culture, and it is easy to create a false persona, and some people enjoy doing that for various reasons. As you accurately described, it is probably better than feeling unworthy and incapable of real life relationships.

    My father is a therapist, and he describes the heart of that feeling as feeling “unlovable.” It’s a really tough issue to deal with. If you don’t believe, at a very deep, fundamental level, that you are a lovable, good, worthwhile person, who someone else could really love and appreciate, then it makes things really difficult in a lot of areas – your sense of self-worth, your ability to have a positive outlook on life, and your ability to interact in positive ways with people, not to mention actually forming healthy friendships and relationships.

    There’s a psychologist named Jeffrey Young (who I think is fairly gifted) who has an approach called Schema Therapy which can be helpful in addressing these types of issues (http://www.schematherapy.com/). I like his approach because it’s a blend of different schools of thought, not just pure cognitive therapy, and he helps people who have been really neglected and abused as kids. His questionnaires also make sense to me. A “schema” is kind of like a way of thinking and set of emotions that you get stuck in. Here are the descriptions:

    1. ABANDONMENT / INSTABILITY (AB) The perceived instability or unreliability of those available for support and connection. Involves the sense that significant others will not be able to continue providing emotional support, connection, strength, or practical protection because they are emotionally unstable and unpredictable (e.g., angry outbursts), unreliable, or erratically present; because they will die imminently; or because they will abandon the patient in favor of someone better.

    2. MISTRUST / ABUSE (MA) The expectation that others will hurt, abuse, humiliate, cheat, lie, manipulate, or take advantage. Usually involves the perception that the harm is intentional or the result of unjustified and extreme negligence. May include the sense that one always ends up being cheated relative to others or “getting the short end of the stick.”

    3. EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION (ED) Expectation that one’s desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others. The three major forms of deprivation are:
    A. Deprivation of Nurturance: Absence of attention, affection, warmth, or companionship.
    B. Deprivation of Empathy: Absence of understanding, listening, self-disclosure, or mutual sharing of feelings from others.
    C. Deprivation of Protection: Absence of strength, direction, or guidance from others.

    4. DEFECTIVENESS / SHAME (DS) The feeling that one is defective, bad, unwanted, inferior, or invalid in important respects; or that one would be unlovable to significant others if exposed. May involve hypersensitivity to criticism, rejection, and blame; self-consciousness, comparisons, and insecurity around others; or a sense of shame regarding one’s perceived flaws. These flaws may be private (e.g., selfishness, angry impulses, unacceptable sexual desires) or public (e.g., undesirable physical appearance, social awkwardness).

    5. SOCIAL ISOLATION / ALIENATION (SI) The feeling that one is isolated from the rest of the world, different from other people, and/or not part of any group or community.

    6. DEPENDENCE / INCOMPETENCE (DI) Belief that one is unable to handle one’s everyday responsibilities in a competent manner, without considerable help from others (e.g., take care of oneself, solve daily problems, exercise good judgment, tackle new tasks, make good decisions). Often presents as helplessness.

    7. VULNERABILITY TO HARM OR ILLNESS (VH) Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fears focus on one or more of the following: (A) Medical Catastrophes: e.g., heart attacks, AIDS; (B) Emotional Catastrophes: e.g., going crazy; (C): External Catastrophes: e.g., elevators collapsing, victimized by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes.

    8. ENMESHMENT / UNDEVELOPED SELF (EM) Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents), at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often involves the belief that at least one of the enmeshed individuals cannot survive or be happy without the constant support of the other. May also include feelings of being smothered by, or fused with, others OR insufficient individual identity. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and floundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence.

    9. FAILURE TO ACHIEVE (FA) The belief that one has failed, will inevitably fail, or is fundamentally inadequate relative to one’s peers, in areas of achievement (school, career, sports, etc.). Often involves beliefs that one is stupid, inept, untalented, ignorant, lower in status, less successful than others, etc.

    10. ENTITLEMENT / GRANDIOSITY (ET) The belief that one is superior to other people; entitled to special rights and privileges; or not bound by the rules of reciprocity that guide normal social interaction. Often involves insistence that one should be able to do or have whatever one wants, regardless of what is realistic, what others consider reasonable, or the cost to others; OR an exaggerated focus on superiority (e.g., being among the most successful, famous, wealthy) — in order to achieve power or control (not primarily for attention or approval). Sometimes includes excessive competitiveness toward, or domination of, others: asserting one’s power, forcing one’s point of view, or controlling the behavior of others in line with one’s own desires—without empathy or concern for others’ needs or feelings.

    11. INSUFFICIENT SELF-CONTROL / SELF-DISCIPLINE (IS) Pervasive difficulty or refusal to exercise sufficient self-control and frustration tolerance to achieve one’s personal goals, or to restrain the excessive expression of one’s emotions and impulses. In its milder form, patient presents with an exaggerated emphasis on discomfort-avoidance: avoiding pain, conflict, confrontation, responsibility, or overexertion—at the expense of personal fulfillment, commitment, or integrity.

    12. SUBJUGATION (SB) Excessive surrendering of control to others because one feels coerced – – usually to avoid anger, retaliation, or abandonment. The two major forms of subjugation are:
    A. Subjugation of Needs: Suppression of one’s preferences, decisions, and desires.
    B. Subjugation of Emotions: Suppression of emotional expression, especially anger.
    Usually involves the perception that one’s own desires, opinions, and feelings are not valid or important to others. Frequently presents as excessive compliance, combined with hypersensitivity to feeling trapped. Generally leads to a build up of anger, manifested in maladaptive symptoms (e.g., passive-aggressive behavior, uncontrolled outbursts of temper, psychosomatic symptoms, withdrawal of affection, “acting out”, substance abuse).

    13. SELF-SACRIFICE (SS) Excessive focus on voluntarily meeting the needs of others in daily situations, at the expense of one’s own gratification. The most common reasons are: to prevent causing pain to others; to avoid guilt from feeling selfish; or to maintain the connection with others perceived as needy . Often results from an acute sensitivity to the pain of others. Sometimes leads to a sense that one’s own needs are not being adequately met and to resentment of those who are taken care of. (Overlaps with concept of codependency.)

    14. APPROVAL-SEEKING / RECOGNITION-SEEKING (AS) Excessive emphasis on gaining approval, recognition, or attention from other people, or fitting in, at the expense of developing a secure and true sense of self. One’s sense of esteem is dependent primarily on the reactions of others rather than on one’s own natural inclinations. Sometimes includes an overemphasis on status, appearance, social acceptance, money, or achievement — as means of gaining approval, admiration, or attention (not primarily for power or control). Frequently results in major life decisions that are inauthentic or unsatisfying; or in hypersensitivity to rejection.

    15. NEGATIVITY / PESSIMISM (NP) A pervasive, lifelong focus on the negative aspects of life (pain, death, loss, disappointment, conflict, guilt, resentment, unsolved problems, potential mistakes, betrayal, things that could go wrong, etc.) while minimizing or neglecting the positive or optimistic aspects. Usually includes an exaggerated expectation– in a wide range of work, financial, or interpersonal situations — that things will eventually go seriously wrong, or that aspects of one’s life that seem to be going well will ultimately fall apart. Usually involves an inordinate fear of making mistakes that might lead to: financial collapse, loss, humiliation, or being trapped in a bad situation. Because potential negative outcomes are exaggerated, these patients are frequently characterized by chronic worry, vigilance, complaining, or indecision.

    16. EMOTIONAL INHIBITION (EI) The excessive inhibition of spontaneous action, feeling, or communication — usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses. The most common areas of inhibition involve: (a) inhibition of anger & aggression; (b) inhibition of positive impulses (e.g., joy, affection, sexual excitement, play); (c) difficulty expressing vulnerability or communicating freely about one’s feelings, needs, etc.; or (d) excessive emphasis on rationality while disregarding emotions.

    17. UNRELENTING STANDARDS / HYPERCRITICALNESS (US) The underlying belief that one must strive to meet very high internalized standards of behavior and performance, usually to avoid criticism. Typically results in feelings of pressure or difficulty slowing down; and in hypercriticalness toward oneself and others. Must involve significant impairment in: pleasure, relaxation, health, self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, or satisfying relationships.
    Unrelenting standards typically present as: (a) perfectionism, inordinate attention to detail, or an underestimate of how good one’s own performance is relative to the norm; (b) rigid rules and “shoulds” in many areas of life, including unrealistically high moral, ethical, cultural, or religious precepts; or (c) preoccupation with time and efficiency, so that more can be accomplished.

    18. PUNITIVENESS (PU) The belief that people should be harshly punished for making mistakes. Involves the tendency to be angry, intolerant, punitive, and impatient with those people (including oneself) who do not meet one’s expectations or standards. Usually includes difficulty forgiving mistakes in oneself or others, because of a reluctance to consider extenuating circumstances, allow for human imperfection, or empathize with feelings.

    • Wow, that quiz is very long. :/ I will give it a try, but it seems silly, when I can just read these descriptions and easily categorize myself and my own “schemas” and analyze where they probably began. I have read many psych websites and journal articles in an attempt to understand myself. I think that I understand myself well – the shortcomings and the strengths I possess, my real limitations and perceived limitations. But the knowing and understanding does not change anything.

      I have not always seen myself as an unloveable person, or one who is unworthy of healthy, normal relationships with peers. Despite the challenges of my youth and my own natural timidity and fear of rejection, I tried many times to seek relationships, mostly via church groups, etc. I had normal friendships and acquaintances. But, as I already mentioned, I experienced a deeply heartbreaking separation from friends who meant a lot to me — more than they probably ever realized. And I have been trying unsuccessfully for several years to recover from that, and I just can’t. Pills, therapy, self-help books and websites, journaling, and time, time time — yes, I have tried so many healthy methods of coping and healing, but I really just think that an important part of me is irreparably broken. I have nothing to offer to other people in terms of relationships. Who will benefit from my broken pieces? No one. It isn’t even fair or kind to expect anyone to try.

      I didn’t mean to share so much of this, especially on a public blog, but since the topic keeps coming up, I may as well make myself clear. I am here in my isolated world, because I think that this is where I have to be, just focusing on raising my kids and trying to be as healthy as possible. And maybe there is a world full of things to do and places to go that could be interesting, or fun to explore, or whatever. But you know what? I don’t care anymore. I can’t do those things with them anymore, or share my life with them anymore, and the part where I miss them is much, much stronger than the part that cares about what the world has to offer me. (And please don’t say the words “let go.” People are not balloons. You can’t just open your hand and let them float away and then feel better. That’s not reality).

      • I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to feel pressure to disclose more than you felt comfortable with. I may have gotten carried away in my enthusiasm – I love this kind of stuff, but the intention in sharing it was not to create pressure on you.

        I understand that it’s impossible and facile to say “let go” in such circumstances.

        Sometimes when we’re in grief and pain, trying to cope with loss, that’s just where we are, and no amount of journaling about it or talking about it or reading psychology books to thoroughly understand it can make it go away. I haven’t tried pills or alcohol or drugs, but I assume those are also ineffectual. That’s just the state that we’re in. At least that’s been my experience.

      • No worries. But just to clarify, by “pills,” I meant antidepressants, not drug abuse. 😉 I have never used drugs or alcohol as a coping measure.

  11. Here’s the long form questionnaire (you can probably tell from the descriptions which ones apply to you, but the questionnaire may help for clarifying):

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Listed below are statements that a person might use to describe himself or herself. Please read each statement and decide how well it describes you. When you are not sure, base your answer on what you emotionally feel, not on what you think to be true.

    If you desire, reword the statement so that the statement would be even more true of you. Then choose the highest rating from 1 to 6 that describes you (including your revisions), and write the number in the space before the statement.

    RATING SCALE:

    1 = Completely untrue of me
    2 = Mostly untrue of me
    3 = Slightly more true than untrue
    4 = Moderately true of me
    5 = Mostly true of me
    6 = Describes me perfectly

    EXAMPLE:
    I care about
    A. I worry that people ^ will not like me.

    1._____ People have not been there to meet my emotional needs.

    2._____ I haven’t gotten love and attention.

    3._____ For the most part, I haven’t had someone to depend on for advice and emotional support.
    4. _____ Most of the time, I haven’t had someone to nurture me, share him/herself with me, or care deeply about everything that happens to me.

    5._____ For much of my life, I haven’t had someone who wanted to get close to me and spend a lot of time with me.

    6. _____ In general, people have not been there to give me warmth, holding, and affection.

    7. _____ For much of my life, I haven’t felt that I am special to someone.

    8. _____ For the most part, I have not had someone who really listens to me, understands me, or is tuned into my true needs and feelings.

    9. _____ I have rarely had a strong person to give me sound advice or direction when I’m not sure what to do.

    *ed

    10._____I worry that the people I love will die soon, even though there is little medical reason to support my concern.

    11. _____ I find myself clinging to people I’m close to because I’m afraid they’ll leave me.

    12. _____ I worry that people I feel close to will leave me or abandon me.

    13.______I feel that I lack a stable base of emotional support.

    14.______I don’t feel that important relationships will last; I expect them to end.

    15.______I feel addicted to partners who can’t be there for me in a committed way.

    16.______In the end, I will be alone.

    17. _____ When I feel someone I care for pulling away from me, I get desperate.

    18. _____ Sometimes I am so worried about people leaving me that I drive them away.

    19.______I become upset when someone leaves me alone, even for a short period of time.

    20.______I can’t count on people who support me to be there on a regular basis.

    21.______I can’t let myself get really close to other people, because I can’t be sure they’ll always be there.

    22.______It seems that the important people in my life are always coming and going.

    23.______I worry a lot that the people I love will find someone else they prefer and leave me.

    24.______The people close to me have been very unpredictable; one moment they’re available and nice to me; the next, they’re angry, upset, self-absorbed, fighting, etc.

    25.______I need other people so much that I worry about losing them.

    26.______I feel so defenseless if I don’t have people to protect me that I worry a lot about losing them.

    27.______I can’t be myself or express what I really feel, or people will leave me.
    *ab

    28. _____ I feel that people will take advantage of me.

    29. _____ I often feel that I have to protect myself from other people.

    30. _____ I feel that I cannot let my guard down in the presence of other people, or else they will intentionally hurt me.

    31. _____ If someone acts nicely towards me, I assume that he/she must be after something.

    32. _____ It is only a matter of time before someone betrays me.

    33. _____ Most people only think about themselves.

    34. _____ I have a great deal of difficulty trusting people.

    35. _____ I am quite suspicious of other people’s motives.

    36. _____ Other people are rarely honest; they are usually not what they appear.

    37. _____ I’m usually on the lookout for people’s ulterior motives.

    38. _____ If I think someone is out to hurt me, I try to hurt them first.

    39. _____ People usually have to prove themselves to me before I can trust them.

    40. _____ I set up “tests” for other people to see if they are telling me the truth and are well-intentioned.

    41. _____ I subscribe to the belief: “Control or be controlled.”

    42. _____ I get angry when I think about the ways I have been mistreated by other people throughout my life.

    43. _____ Throughout my life, those close to me have taken advantage of me or used me for their own purposes.

    44. _____ I have been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by important people in my life.

    *ma

    45. _____ I don’t fit in.

    46. _____ I’m fundamentally different from other people.

    47. _____ I don’t belong; I’m a loner.

    48. _____ I feel alienated from other people.

    49. _____ I feel isolated and alone.

    50. _____ I always feel on the outside of groups.

    51. _____ No one really understands me.

    52. _____ My family was always different from the families around us.

    53. _____ I sometimes feel as if I’m an alien.

    54. _____ If I disappeared tomorrow, no one would notice.

    *si

    55. _____ No man/woman I desire could love me one he/she saw my defects.

    56. _____ No one I desire would want to stay close to me if he/she knew the real me.

    57. _____ I am inherently flawed and defective.

    58. _____ No matter how hard I try, I feel that I won’t be able to get a significant man/woman to respect me or feel that I am worthwhile.

    59. _____ I’m unworthy of the love, attention, and respect of others.

    60. _____ I feel that I’m not lovable

    61. _____ I am too unacceptable in very basic ways to reveal myself to other people.

    62. _____ If others found out about my basic defects, I could not face them.

    63. _____ When people like me, I feel I am fooling them.

    64. _____ I often find myself drawn to people who are very critical or reject me.

    65. _____ I have inner secrets that I don’t want people close to me to find out.

    66. _____ It is my fault that my parent(s) could not love me enough.

    67. _____ I don’t let people know the real me.

    68. _____ One of my greatest fears is that my defects will be exposed.

    69. _____ I cannot understand how anyone could love me.

    *ds

    70. _____ I’m not sexually attractive.

    71. _____ I’m too fat.

    72. _____ I’m ugly.

    73. _____ I can’t carry on a decent conversation.

    74. _____ I’m dull and boring in social situations.

    75. _____ People I value wouldn’t associate with me because of my social status (e.g., income, educational level, career).

    76. _____ I never know what to say socially.

    77. _____ People don’t want to include me in their groups.

    78. _____ I am very self-conscious around other people.

    *su

    79. _____ Almost nothing I do at work (or school) is as good as other people can do.

    80. _____ I’m incompetent when it comes to achievement.

    81. _____ Most other people are more capable than I am in areas of work and achievement.

    82. _____ I’m a failure.

    83. _____ I’m not as talented as most people are at their work.

    84. _____ I’m not as intelligent as most people when it comes to work (or school).

    85. _____ I am humiliated by my failures and inadequacies in the work sphere.

    86. _____ I often feel embarrassed around other people because I don’t measure up to them in terms of my accomplishments.

    87. _____ I often compare my accomplishments with others and feel that they are much more successful.

    *fa

    88. _____ I do not feel capable of getting by on my own in everyday life.

    89. _____ I need other people to help me get by.

    90. _____ I do not feel I can cope well by myself.

    91. _____ I believe that other people can take of me better than I can take care of myself.

    92. _____ I have trouble tackling new tasks outside of work unless I have someone to guide me.

    93. _____ I think of myself as a dependent person, when it comes to everyday functioning.

    94. _____ I screw up everything I try, even outside of work (or school).

    95. _____ I’m inept in most areas of life.

    96. _____ If I trust my own judgment in everyday situations, I’ll make the wrong decision.

    97. _____ I lack common sense.

    98. _____ My judgment cannot be relied upon in everyday situations.

    99. _____ I don’t feel confident about my ability to solve everyday problems that come up.

    100. _____ I feel I need someone I can rely on to give me advice about practical issues.

    101. _____ I feel more like a child than an adult when it comes to handling everyday responsibilities.

    102. _____ I find the responsibilities of everyday life overwhelming.

    *di

    103. _____ I can’t seem to escape the feeling that something bad is about to happen.

    104. _____ I feel that a disaster (natural, criminal, financial, or medical) could strike at any moment.

    105. _____ I worry about becoming a street person or vagrant.

    106. _____ I worry about being attacked.

    107. _____ I feel that I must be very careful about money, or else I might end up with nothing.

    108. _____ I take great precautions to avoid getting sick or hurt.

    109. _____ I worry that I’ll lose all my money and become destitute.

    110. _____ I worry that I’m developing a serious illness, even though nothing serious has been diagnosed by a physician.

    111. _____ I am a fearful person.

    112. _____ I worry a lot about the bad things happening in the world: crime, pollution, etc.

    113. _____ I often feel that I might go crazy.

    114. _____ I often feel that I’m going to have an anxiety attack.

    115. _____ I often worry that I might have a heart attack, even though there is little medical reason to be concerned.

    116. _____ I feel that the world is a dangerous place.

    *vh

    117._____ I have not been able to separate myself from my parent(s), the way other people my age seem to.

    118. _____ My parent(s) and I tend to be overinvolved in each other’s lives and problems.

    119. _____ It is very difficult for my parent(s) and me to keep intimate details from each other, without feeling betrayed or guilty.

    120. _____ My parent(s) and I have to speak to each other almost every day or else one of us feels guilty, hurt, disappointed, or alone.

    121. _____ I often feel that I do not have a separate identity from my parent(s) or partner.

    122. _____ I often feel as if my parent(s) are living through me — I don’t have a life of my own.

    123. _____ It is very difficult for me to maintain any distance from the people I am intimate with; I have trouble keeping any separate sense of myself.

    124. _____ I am so involved with my partner or parent(s) that I do not really know who I am or what I want.

    125. _____ I have trouble separating my point of view or opinion from that of my parent(s) or partner.

    126. _____ I often feel that I have no privacy when it comes to my parent(s) or partner.

    127. _____ I feel that my parent(s) are, or would be, very hurt about my living on my own, away from them.

    *em

    128. _____ I let other people have their way, because I fear the consequences.

    129. _____ I think that if I do what I want, I’m only asking for trouble.

    130. _____ I feel that I have no choice but to give in to other people’s wishes, or else they will retaliate or reject me in some way.

    131. _____ In relationships, I let the other person have the upper hand.

    132. _____ I’ve always let others make choices for me, so I really don’t know what I want for myself.

    133. _____ I feel the major decisions in my life were not really my own.

    134. _____ I worry a lot about pleasing other people so they won’t reject me.

    135. _____ I have a lot of trouble demanding that my rights be respected and that my feelings be taken into account.

    136. _____ I get back at people in little ways instead of showing my anger.

    137. _____ I will go to much greater lengths than most people to avoid confrontations.

    *sb

    138. _____ I put others’ needs before my own, or else I feel guilty.

    139. _____ I feel guilty when I let other people down or disappoint them.

    140. _____ I give more to other people than I get back in return.

    141. _____ I’m the one who usually ends up taking care of the people I’m close to.

    142. _____ There is almost nothing I couldn’t put up with if I loved someone.

    143. _____ I am a good person because I think of others more than of myself.

    144. _____ At work, I’m usually the one to volunteer to do extra tasks or to put in extra time.

    145. _____ No matter how busy I am, I can always find time for others.

    146. _____ I can get by on very little, because my needs are minimal.

    147. _____ I’m only happy when those around me are happy.

    148. _____ I’m so busy doing for the people that I care about, that I have little time for myself.

    149. _____ I’ve always been the one who listens to everyone else’s problems.

    150. _____ I’m more comfortable giving a present than receiving one.

    151. _____ Other people see me as doing too much for others and not enough for myself.

    152. _____ No matter how much I give, it is never enough.

    153. _____ If I do what I want, I feel very uncomfortable.

    154. _____ It’s very difficult for me to ask others to take care of my needs.

    *ss

    155. _____ I worry about losing control of my actions.

    156. _____ I worry that I might seriously harm someone physically or emotionally if my anger gets out of control.

    157. _____ I feel that I must control my emotions and impulses, or something bad is likely to happen.

    158. _____ A lot of anger and resentment build up inside of me that I don’t express.

    159. _____ I am too self-conscious to show positive feelings to others (e.g., affection, showing I care).

    160. _____ I find it embarrassing to express my feelings to others.

    161. _____ I find it hard to be warm and spontaneous.

    162. _____ I control myself so much that people think I am unemotional.

    163. _____ People see me as uptight emotionally.

    *ei

    164. _____ I must be the best at most of what I do; I can’t accept second best.

    165. _____ I strive to keep almost everything in perfect order.

    166. _____ I must look my best most of the time.

    167. _____ I try to do my best; I can’t settle for “good enough.”

    168. _____ I have so much to accomplish that there is almost no time to really relax.

    169. _____ Almost nothing I do is quite good enough; I can always do better.

    170. _____ I must meet all my responsibilities.

    171. _____ I feel there is constant pressure for me to achieve and get things done.

    172. _____ My relationships suffer because I push myself so hard.

    173. _____ My health is suffering because I put myself under so much pressure to do well.

    174. _____ I often sacrifice pleasure and happiness to meet my own standards.

    175. _____ When I make a mistake, I deserve strong criticism.

    176. _____ I can’t let myself off the hook easily or make excuses for my mistakes.

    177. _____ I’m a very competitive person.

    178. _____ I put a good deal of emphasis on money or status.

    179. _____ I always have to be Number One, in terms of my performance.

    *us

    180. _____ I have a lot of trouble accepting “no” for an answer when I want something from other people.

    181. _____ I often get angry or irritable if I can’t get what I want.

    182. _____ I’m special and shouldn’t have to accept many of the restrictions placed on other people.

    183. _____ I hate to be constrained or kept from doing what I want.

    184. _____ I feel that I shouldn’t have to follow the normal rules and conventions other people do.

    185. _____ I feel that what I have to offer is of greater value than the contributions of others.

    186. _____ I usually put my needs ahead of the needs of others.

    187. _____ I often find that I am so involved in my own priorities that I don’t have time to give to friends or family.

    188. _____ People often tell me I am very controlling about the ways things are done.

    189. _____ I get very irritated when people won’t do what I ask of them.

    190. _____ I can’t tolerate other people telling me what to do.

    *et

    191. _____ I have great difficulty getting myself to stop drinking, smoking, overeating, or other problem behaviors.

    192. _____ I can’t seem to discipline myself to complete routine or boring tasks.

    193. _____ Often I allow myself to carry through on impulses and express emotions that get me into trouble or hurt other people.

    194. _____ If I can’t reach a goal, I become easily frustrated and give up.

    195. _____ I have a very difficult time sacrificing immediate gratification to achieve a long-range goal.

    196. _____ It often happens that, once I start to feel angry, I just can’t control it.

    197. _____ I tend to overdo things, even though I know they are bad for me.

    198. _____ I get bored very easily.

    199. _____ When tasks become difficult, I usually cannot persevere and complete them.

    200. _____ I can’t concentrate on anything for too long.

    201. _____ I can’t force myself to do things I don’t enjoy, even when I know it’s for my own good.

    202. _____ I lose my temper at the slightest offense.

    203. _____ I have rarely been able to stick to my resolutions.

    204. _____ I can almost never hold back from showing people how I really feel, no matter what the cost may be.

    205. _____ I often do things impulsively that I later regret.

    *is

  12. Here’s another inventory about parents, which may also apply to the way your sisters treated you since you grew up as a latch key kid and they may have been in the caregiver/abuse giver role :

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Listed below are statements that you might use to describe your parents. Please read each statement and decide how well it describes your parents. Choose the highest rating from 1 to 6 that describes your mother, then your father, when you were a child and write the number in the spaces before each statement. If someone substituted as your mother or father, please rate the scale for that person. If you did not have a mother or a father, leave the appropriate column blank.

    RATING SCALE:
    1 = Completely untrue
    2 = Mostly untrue
    3 = Slightly more true than untrue
    4 = Moderately true
    5 = Mostly true
    6 = Describes him/her perfectly

    MOTHER FATHER DESCRIPTION
    __________ __________ 1. Loved me, treated me as someone special.
    __________ __________ 2. Spent time with and paid attention to me.
    __________ __________ 3. Gave me helpful guidance and direction.
    __________ __________ 4. Listened to me, understood me, shared feelings with me.
    __________ __________ 5. Was warm and physically affectionate.
    *ed
    __________ __________ 6. Died or left the house permanently when I was a child.
    __________ __________ 7. Was moody, unpredictable, or an alcoholic.
    __________ __________ 8. Preferred my brother(s) or sister(s) to me.
    __________ __________ 9. Withdrew or left me alone for extended periods.
    *ab
    __________ __________ 10. Lied to me, deceived me, or betrayed me.
    __________ __________ 11. Abused me physically, emotionally, or sexually.
    __________ __________ 12. Used me to satisfy his/her needs.
    __________ __________ 13. Seemed to get pleasure from hurting people.
    *ma
    __________ __________ 14. Worried excessively that I would get hurt.
    __________ __________ 15. Worried excessively that I would get sick.
    __________ __________ 16. Was a fearful or phobic person.
    __________ __________ 17. Overprotected me.
    *vh
    __________ __________ 18. Made me feel I couldn’t rely on my decisions or judgment.
    __________ __________ 19. Did too many things for me instead of letting me do things on my own.
    _________ __________ 20. Treated me as if I were younger than I really was.
    *di
    __________ __________ 21. Criticized me a lot.
    __________ __________ 22. Made me feel unloved or rejected.
    __________ __________ 23. Treated me as if there was something wrong with me.
    __________ __________ 24. Made me feel ashamed of myself in important respects.
    *ds
    __________ __________ 25. Never taught me the discipline necessary to succeed in school.
    __________ __________ 26. Treated me as if I was stupid or untalented.
    __________ __________ 27. Didn’t really want me to succeed.
    __________ __________ 28. Expected me to be a failure in life.
    *fa
    __________ __________ 29. Treated me as if my opinions or desires didn’t count.
    __________ __________ 30. Did what he/she wanted, regardless of my needs.
    __________ __________ 31. Controlled my life so that I had little freedom of choice.
    __________ __________ 32. Everything had to be on his/her terms.
    *sb
    __________ __________ 33. Sacrificed his/her own needs for the sake of the family.
    __________ __________ 34. Was unable to handle many daily responsibilities, so I had to do more than my share.
    __________ __________ 35. Was unhappy a lot and relied on me for support and understanding.
    __________ __________ 36. Made me feel that I was strong, and should take care of other people.
    *ss
    __________ __________ 37. Had very high expectations for him/herself.
    __________ __________ 38. Expected me to do my best at all times.
    __________ __________ 39. Was a perfectionist in many areas; things had to be “just so”.
    __________ __________ 40. Made me feel that almost nothing I did was quite good enough.
    __________ __________ 41. Had strict, rigid rules of right and wrong.
    __________ __________ 42. Became impatient if things weren’t done properly or quickly enough.
    __________ __________ 43. Placed more importance on doing things well than on having fun or relaxing.
    *us
    __________ __________ 44. Spoiled me, or was overindulgent, in many respects.
    __________ __________ 45. Made me feel I was special, better than most other people.
    __________ __________ 46. Was demanding; expected to get things his/her way.
    __________ __________ 47. Didn’t teach me that I had responsibilities to other people.
    *et
    __________ __________ 48. Provided very little discipline or structure for me.
    __________ __________ 49. Set few rules or responsibilities for me.
    __________ __________ 50. Allowed me to get very angry or lose control.
    __________ __________ 51. Was an undisciplined person.
    *is
    __________ __________ 52. We were so close that we understood each other almost perfectly.
    __________ __________ 53. I felt that I didn’t have enough individuality or sense of self separate from him/her.
    __________ __________ 54. I felt that I didn’t have my own sense of direction while I was growing up because he/she was such a strong person.
    __________ __________ 55. I felt that we would hurt each other if either of us went away from the other.
    *em
    __________ __________ 56. Worried a lot about the family’s financial problems.
    __________ __________ 57. Made me feel that If I made even a small mistake, something bad might happen.
    __________ __________ 58. Had a pessimistic outlook; often expected the worst outcome.
    __________ __________ 59. Focused on the negative aspects of life or things going wrong.
    *np
    __________ __________ 60. Had to have everything under control.
    __________ __________ 61. Was uncomfortable expressing affection or vulnerability.
    __________ __________ 62. Was structured and organized; preferred the familiar over change.
    __________ __________ 63. Rarely expressed anger.
    __________ __________ 64. Was private; rarely discussed his/her feelings.
    *ei
    __________ __________ 65. Would become angry or harshly critical when I did something wrong.
    __________ __________ 66. Would punish me when I did something wrong.
    __________ __________ 67. Would call me names (like “stupid” or “idiot”) when I made mistakes.
    _________ __________ 68. Blamed people when things went wrong.
    *pu
    _________ __________ 69. Was concerned with social status and appearance.
    __________ __________ 70. Placed strong emphasis on success and competition.
    __________ __________ 71. Was concerned with how my behavior would reflect on him/her in the eyes of others.
    __________ __________ 72. Seemed to love me more or pay more attention to me when I excelled.
    *as

  13. One more post for this morning, because coping styles are an important aspect of how we react to different experiences in life:

    COPING STYLES

    Different people cope with their schemas in different ways. This explains why children raised in the same environment can appear to be so different. For example, two children with abusive parents may respond very differently. One becomes a passive, frightened victim, and remains that way throughout life. The other child becomes openly rebellious and defiant, and may even leave home early to survive as a teenager on the streets.
    Partly this is because we have different temperaments at birth. Temperamentally, we may tend to be more frightened, active, outgoing, or shy. Our temperaments push us in certain directions.
    Partly this is because we may unconsciously choose different parents to “copy” or model ourselves after. For example, because an “abuser” often marries a “victim,” the child in this family could model either the abusive parent, the victimized parent, or have elements of both coping styles.
    We view coping styles as normal attempts on the part of the child to survive in a difficult childhood environment. Unfortunately, we keep repeating our coping styles throughout adulthood, even when we no longer need them to survive.
    Most of the time, as adults, these coping styles lead us to act in ways that end up blocking our development: for example, we may abuse alcohol, become excessively rigid and stubborn, isolate ourselves from other people, stop feeling emotions, or mistreat other people.
    There are three general ways that we adapt to our schemas:
    Surrender, which means giving in to our schemas and repeating them over and over;
    Avoidance, which means finding ways to escape or block out our schemas; and
    Overcompensation, which means doing the opposite of what our schemas makes us feel.

    Common Maladaptive Coping Responses

    Overcompensation

    1. Aggression, Hostility: Counterattacks through defying, abusing, blaming, attacking, or criticizing others
    2. Dominance, Excessive Self-assertion: Controls others through direct means to accomplish goals
    3. Recognition-seeking, Status-seeking: Overcompensates through impressing, high achievement, status, attention-seeking, etc.
    4. Manipulation, Exploitation: Meets own needs through covert manipulation, seduction, dishonesty, or conning
    5. Passive-aggressiveness, Rebellion: Appears overtly compliant while punishing others or rebelling covertly through procrastination, pouting, “backstabbing,” lateness, complaining, rebellion, non-performance, etc.
    6. Excessive Orderliness, Obsessionality: Maintains strict order, tight self-control, or high level of predictability through order & planning, excessive adherence to routine or ritual, or undue caution. Devotes inordinate time to finding the best way to accomplish tasks or avoid negative outcomes.

    Surrender

    7. Compliance, Dependence: Relies on others, gives in, seeks affiliation, passive, dependent, submissive, clinging, avoids conflict, people-pleasing.

    Avoidance

    8. Social withdrawal, Excessive autonomy: Copes through social isolation, disconnection, and withdrawal. May demonstrate an exaggerated focus on independence and self-reliance, rather than involvement with others. Sometimes retreats through private activities such as excessive tv watching, reading, recreational computing, or solitary work.
    9. Compulsive Stimulation-seeking: Seeks excitement or distraction through compulsive shopping, sex, gambling, risk-taking, physical activity, novelty, etc.
    10. Addictive Self-Soothing: Avoids through addictions involving the body, such as alcohol, drugs, overeating, excessive masturbation, etc.
    11. Psychological Withdrawal: Copes through dissociation, numbness, denial, fantasy, or other internal forms of psychological escape

  14. You may have already seen the news last weekend, but isn’t it remarkable that Man. U. were able to buy Juan Mata, who was MVP of Chelsea for the last two years in a row and is an extraordinarily gifted (Spanish, of course :)) midfielder?

    I have to say I also really like the passing and attacking style of Arsenal. I was so excited when Mesut Ozil went there from Real Madrid. I think he’s such a gifted attacking midfielder, his passes and runs are the kind where he sees opportunities that no one else sees. And I love that he’s Turkish in Germany, part of a discriminated-against minority, but he’s been embraced on the German national team. I love how soccer cuts across ethnic lines – same thing with Zidane being Algerian but being embraced by France even though the French discriminate against Algerians/Muslims.

    • I’ve been excited about Mata ever since I first started to hear the rumors. I think he’ll be a great addition to the team. Really was hoping to see the game against Cardiff on Tuesday, but I was too busy. Guess I’ll have to wait until this weekend.

      As for Arsenal, I’m afraid I stopped keeping up with them a while ago. I tend to catch the MU, Chelsea, and Liverpool matches when I can. I haven’t seen Ozil play with them yet. I, too, love the way soccer breaks the color lines and unites people from so many different nations. This is why I consider it my favorite sport — not only for the love of the game itself, but for how it brings the whole world together. What other sport can do that?

  15. Exactly! 🙂 It’s part of the reason I’m so excited that Marcus and Marcel have embraced the sport. It’s been such a great vehicle, for Marcel especially, to learn about other cultures and broaden his horizons and develop an interest in visiting far away places and learning foreign languages. It’s also something I can do with them and appreciate with them, a way to connect. Not that there’s anything wrong with playing basketball and football, but I’m glad they’ve embraced the beautiful game, the World’s game 🙂

    • Understandable. It’s like I mentioned – it is so important that we find ways to connect with our kids, both to strengthen our bonds with them, and to have a medium for communication. And, of course, being such a soccer nut, I can understand your enthusiasm in having kids who have really embraced the sport along with you. 🙂

    • Okay, I am so curious to know how it is you ended up living in a place so very far from the ocean when it is clear that it is a place that you love. For me it was fairly simple — I have always lived in California (except for one summer in Oregon after high school). And while I once had dreams of moving to the Seattle area, marriage and career and family and friends were the things that bound me here. But what motivated you to go to Texas, of all places? Just curious. 🙂

  16. I woke up this morning dreaming of being out on the water, surfing a good sized swell. I don’t normally remember my dreams, but this morning it was so vivid, almost more like memories than dreams. It caused significant pangs of regret about time wasted away from the water.

    Alas, a sad string of honest mistakes, naive choices and lack of clarity led me to my present situation. When I went to law school, I didn’t have any particular desire to be a lawyer. That was a mistake. What I really wanted was to study physics (I’m fascinated by theories of cosmology), but I didn’t have the confidence in my math skills. And I also didn’t really know where to start or how to go about pursuing it.

    In any event, law school was pretty fun and pleasant and interesting – the sunshine, riding my bike to school, the effortlessness of reading interesting materials and discussing and writing about them, the foothills to go jogging, a nice park near my apartment where I could play soccer, an outdoor soccer league and an indoor league to play in, great road biking and mountain biking, some nice hotsprings to hike to near Los Alamos, my trusty little Toyota Tercel that I’d had since I bought it in 1996 in San Francisco. It was a pretty balanced, happy time in my life, and I generally enjoy school and learning to begin with.

    My intention was to leave San Francisco for 3 years, enjoy the mountains and the high desert, and then move back to the coast. I wasn’t sure what I would do – maybe get a teaching credential and teach High School or teach writing at a community college. But then I started to realize how much debt I had accumulated. So I realized I had to make real money. So I started applying to large law firms (wasn’t it obvious from day 1 that I was a fraud?). And despite graduating at the top of my class, I didn’t get any job offers in San Francisco (too many law school graduates, not enough law jobs), which didn’t bother me too much because I never aspired to be a workaholic lawyer in a big city anyway. The only point of being in San Francisco was living in the outer sunset and surfing every day. So I got job offers in Portland and Dallas, and I thought I would go to Portland, but after working there for a summer I didn’t think I could stand the work, and the legal market in Portland doesn’t pay nearly as well as other markets – it’s just much smaller, and everyone wants to live in Portland, so they don’t have to pay as much to attract top candidates. The difference was $90,000 vs. $160,000 starting salary. So I thought I would go to Dallas, work for 2 or 3 years, pay off all my debts, and then move to the coast.

    My favorite place in the world, I would say, is the coast between Santa Cruz and Seaside, OR, maybe even further North to British Columbia. I lived in a small fishing village on the Puget sound for a couple years growing up, and also lived in Eastern Washington and Southern Oregon, and I spend a lot of time camping and going on road trips in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Northern California and the Sierras, as well as some time in the Tetons and Northern New Mexico. That whole part of the world is magical to me, so magnificent in its beauty, and most of it is still not too overpopulated.

    Now, though, I’ve been thinking more expansively about locations. I still have my fantasies of building a hobbit hole in Baja, and a tree house in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps on the Lost Coast overlooking a surf break. But my brother’s trip to Nicaragua has got me daydreaming of the opportunities there, the uncrowded waves, the affordable land, a chance to try some permaculture ideas :). And then there’s the coast of Chile calling out to me, thousands of miles of pristine, beautiful coastline. I don’t exactly have the stomach for fishing (gutting and filleting fish), but Marcus does. I would love to buy a home base in Nicaragua, or perhaps Baja or Costa Rica, or maybe Chile or Peru, and take Marcus and Marcel and Jade, and Jasmine if she wants, on camping trips down there, and surf Isla de la Natividad and really share with them the beauty of those experiences and the freedom (and responsibility) of a simpler, more independent way of life. So that’s what I’ll be daydreaming about today 🙂

    • Ohh, but fishing is great! My stepdad went fishing often when I was growing up, so we had plenty of fresh fish to eat. I miss that.

      I think that the Pacific coast is lovely no matter where you are. 🙂 Each region has its own special magic, from fog-drenched boulders to impressive cliffs and falls to warm, golden sand. Being a Bay Area girl, I am partial to the cool, misty, wild waters of Northern Cal and the Pacific Northwest. I used to dream of living in a home with large windows that overlooked the ocean, but that was too expensive a dream to keep.

      If your role for those kids is only that of mentor, would their parents really be receptive to you taking them so far away? I don’t mean to be negative, or too nosy, but it seems unusual, and perhaps a little alarming, for an unattached man to be so involved with someone else’s children that he would consider taking them on trips far from home.

    • I totally get how a lack of clarity and mistakes can lead one to be in less than desirable circumstances. I never meant to be stuck here in the suburbs, but I have learned to make the best of it. At least it is a good place to raise kids, with good schools and safe parks, etc. And when we can save money, there are a lot of great places to visit and hike within a day’s drive.

      I think that a lot of young students have a lack of clarity when they go to university, and many people end up in unsatisfying careers. Then responsibility and duty keeps them there for many years. I suppose that it becomes tempting to dream of a completely different lifestyle or career. But the grass is often greener, right? 😉 Well, who knows — sometimes gambling and risks pay off with a greater reward. But more often, they do not. Luckily for you, though, you still seem to be on the young side, without children of your own who could be potentially harmed by a drastic change of lifestyle. So then I wonder, why not?

  17. I understand how my role could sound alarming or inappropriate, especially in this world of sociopaths and child molesters who prey on children. And I don’t think the title of mentor accurately describes my role either. The way it developed is this: about 3 1/2 years ago now, I decided to help this family, to take them under my wing. It was somewhat of a Christian impulse, and also driven by several other considerations. First, I was making a ton of money, and I really didn’t need it all. When I was growing up, being raised by a single mom with 5 kids, living on welfare and food stamps and free lunches, I always wondered why wealthy people didn’t help poor people. So when I got to be wealthy, I wanted to help people who found themselves in circumstances less fortunate. I tried giving some money to United Way, and volunteered at a homeless shelter, and even let a homeless man live in my house for several months. But I was never particularly satisfied with my efforts at charitable giving. I was working in this very boring corporate office job, and I wanted to make more of a difference, to help real people. I felt like, “what’s the point of making all this money, if I don’t help anyone with it?” Second, this family had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and they were adjusting to life in a new place. I had experienced a similar feeling of being a fish out of water when I moved from the west coast to New York as a teenager. Third, I identified with a mom who was raising 4 kids on her own, with no dad present and no financial contributions coming in. Fourth, and most importantly, I identified with the kids, having been in a similar situation myself when I was growing up. I just naturally understood and empathized with a lot of their unmet needs, and saw that their prospects without intervention would likely be poor.

    Still, my original intention was not to become as involved as I am. What happened is that they kept asking for more. Sometimes, I’ve had to say no, to keep my boundaries and to protect my finances. But their mom wants all the help I can give, and the kids want all the time and energy and stuff I can give as well. Jade thinks it’s not fair that Marcus got to go on a fun surf trip with me and my brother. Marcel thinks it’s not fair that I sent Marcus to a mountaineering/river rafting camp last summer, but he didn’t get to go. Marcel wants me to play soccer with him and teach him more moves and coach his teams. Jade wants me to pay for her tennis lessons. And they all want me to take more vacation time and take them on trips. And of course their mom loves the help with parenting and sees the improvements in the kids’ grades in school and their general behavior. And then there are other times – for example, Marcus doesn’t know who his father is, and he’s never had someone to take him to school events for fathers. So he wanted me to take him to the science fair at school, which was a father-son event. And of course it’s difficult for me to refuse those requests, because when I was growing up I didn’t have a father, and it was sometimes awkward or embarrasing to explain that my father wasn’t involved in my life and I didn’t know where he lived or what he was doing. So I do these things, and functionally my role is now like that of a step-parent.

    I don’t always love being in that role, because parenting is a huge responsibility, and it’s also a lot of work. My life was easier before, when I could relax and read and sleep in all weekend and go for a jog along the river and walk to the farmer’s market. I don’t have time for that now. But now these kids are counting on me, and unfortunately they don’t have anyone else. So it’s either me or no father figure in their lives.

    • I guess that’s a little more clear. As I’ve mentioned, I think that it is a very good thing to choose to involve oneself in the lives of others, and to help them in a very real way that goes beyond just offering money. Offering your time and energy, and your example as a father figure, will likely reap great rewards in the lives of those kids. It is only that it is unusual for a man to be so invested in the lives of children who are not his family, hence the alarm bells. It is natural, though, for one to desire to pour himself into shaping the next generation, and to either pass on skills and values which he learned from his own parents, or those which he did not acquire from his parents but feels that he should have.

      Washington was my dream location for years. I love California, especially the Bay Area, but it is very pricey to live there. Seattle is similar in a lot of ways, but more affordable, and prettier, too, with more trees than houses on the hills. During my first year of marriage, I traveled there alone for job interviews and actually got hired. I found an apartment in Kent (great place to raise kids, I’ve heard) and was all set to move. But then my husband decided that he absolutely did not want to move there (couldn’t have told me sooner? Yeesh). Occasionally, I still have “what if?” moments about living there, but, well, life happens, you know? And anyway, I could never give up rooting for the 49ers to root for the Seahawks, so they’d probably have to kick me out. 😉

      On Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 12:43 PM, The Girl From Jupiter wrote:

      >

    • Random response, I know, but just wanted to share tonight’s dinner menu, because it is the type of meal I make often. Chicken noodle soup. But always made with a homemade stock, and then plenty of veggies, including turnip, which I feel is the one of most underused vegetables in this culture. My kids are crazy about egg noodles in their soup (me too). I make them from scratch, so they are big and thick and chewy. Yummers. Hungry yet? 😉

      The problem with being so isolated from society is that sometimes, I just want to share something as inane and simple as what I’m cooking for dinner, and hear someone else’s menu in response. Twitter is mostly one-way…it is a very rare thing to hear a response.

      Now here’s the interesting thing. While writing this, I felt the immediate need to apologize for bothering you (or anyone else) by sharing an inane detail from my life and then hoping for a response. Why is that? I’ve never really wondered this before, why it makes me feel guilty to initiate reciprocal communication with others. Perhaps it is because, for most of my life, I have been expected to be giver and not a taker. I have learned (or taught myself) that my role is to be invisible and undemanding. Do not demand or expect anything from anyone. Do not become too attached. Do not turn to other people to meet your needs. Do not ask for help — be independent. Be strong. Or, as the poet Alice Walker puts it so beautifully, “Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”

      It is a way of life that comes so easily for me now, but it is crippling, too. There. That’s my Psychology 101 insight for the day.;)

  18. Nicely put – once I started investing in the kids, I began to see that I was having a positive impact, and I began to see more of their potential, and that inspired me to try to convey more of my values, and shape them a little bit the way I would if I had kids of my own – especially to expand their horizons and open intellectual opportunities, and to have them experience nature. They grew up in New Orleans when they were young, and then moved to Dallas after Katrina, so they always lived in a a city, and they’ve never been swimming in rivers, never seen mountains, never hiked in the wilderness or seen the mountain streams and waterfalls that you have in the Sierra, they’ve never camped in the desert and seen how bright the stars are once you get away from the city lights. Last summer I bought a canoe on craig’s list for $200 and took them to lake Texoma a couple times, just so they could see a nice clear lake and go swimming in a natural setting. I also bought them bikes and a membership to a pool so they can ride their bikes and go swimming near their house during the summer. Hopefully those types of experiences will give them more balance and perspective as they get older, and also instill some confidence and innate sense of capability. And hopefully those kinds of activities, along with things like soccer and gymnastics, will keep them away from hanging out with friends and doing nothing, getting into trouble, committing vandalism and smoking and drinking and thinking of themselves as bad kids.

    Yes, Seattle is nice, although it’s also gotten more expensive. I have a friend from high school and college who moved out there with her husband, and they struggle financially. And of course you’d still have to root for the 49ers! 🙂

    • Years ago, I was a camp counselor at a camp designed to give the summer camp experience to girls from low SES backgrounds. Many of the campers lived in the city, and, like your kids, had barely experienced the outdoors beyond their own neighborhoods. It was a really big deal to them just to camp under the stars, and to realize that there are so many stars in the night sky. It was really gratifying to be part of sharing that with them, and to giving them a week of wonder and great memories, and hopefully a little spark of curiosity about the wider world that didn’t exist for them before.

      Of course, with my own kids, there is much more time to instill good things (hopefully) and to share my love of books and nature and good foods and sports (well, I’m trying). I adore taking them out for local outings, or day trips, or long road trips. I adore exploring redwood forests or arid deserts or rocky beaches with them, or having fun in theme parks, or exploring little shops in Chinatown, you name it. Our only limitation is our finances, due to our shoestring budget, but I do try to save each month so that we can do something special each year, even if it is small. This year, I’m hoping to take them camping at Lake Siskiyou – one of our old favorites since the kids were very small. It is this lovely, clear, and surprisingly warm lake where you can enjoy a gorgeous view of snow-capped Mt. Shasta while floating around in the water. We’re also hoping to head down to SoCal to visit with family and have fun at the beach. We’ll see if I can save enough to make it happen. 🙂

      Yes, I’ve noticed that Seattle has become pricier in recent years. I hope that the high property values don’t result in developers heading up and destroying the gorgeous greenbelt by packing it with houses, like in the Bay Area hills. :/ I would love to plan another trip up there in the not-too-distant future. My daughter and I went fairly recently (for sports), but my boys have never been. I’d love to combine it with a quick stopover in Canada, though, as I have never been there.

      On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 7:48 AM, The Girl From Jupiter wrote:

      >

  19. I love Lake Siskiyou and Mt. Shasta and Castle Crags – that whole area going North out of Redding. We used to drive up there all the time (my brothers and I), when we lived in the Bay Area and my dad lived in Ashland. It used to take me 6 hours and 10 minutes from door to door (if I left late to avoid traffic). The first part of the drive was alway hot in the summer, and then we’d hit the Sacramento River, stop for a quick swim and feel completely refreshed … ahhh, what great memories 🙂

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