YogiRunner Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘youth’

I AM?

hannah-valentine-400714-unsplash

International Women’s Day was a big deal in our house. Not necessarily because we were celebrating it, but because my 14-year-old son was challenging it.

My approach to parenting is to support individuality. My children are encouraged to be free thinkers and to challenge ideas and concepts. I believe it is my responsibility as a parent, to encourage authentic individuality and this doesn’t happen by forcing my beliefs or those of our society down their throats. As a result of this approach, my son Noah is wise beyond his years at age 14.  And my 8-year old daughter Charlee, well, let’s just say she will likely be the most brilliant lawyer of all times.

But I have to say, this challenge of International Women’s Day from my son caught me off guard. Particularly because other adult forces in Noah’s life were expressing “disappointment” with his “disrespect” for the day. And well, let’s face it – I am a woman, so this one hit me on a personal level. So, I asked Noah to explain his thought process and here is what he said:

“You know, I mean I see all people equal, no matter what race, religion or gender. I just think that having days like these are separating us as a people even more so that is why I think it should be a day for all overcoming these kinds of struggles. I won’t respect you or disrespect you because you are a woman or a certain race. I will respect or disrespect you based on what kind of person you are. I don’t respect, or disrespect people based on their struggles, but rather on how they choose to handle them. That’s just how I think, Mom.”

I was speechless. It took me a moment to really absorb what he was saying and more importantly, to honor the free-spirited thinker he has become. And so, when I thought about how to respond, one very important truth was ringing in my mind; I AM not just a woman. I simply, AM.

  • I’m not a pure descendent of any one race therefore I AM white, Hispanic, Italian, Mexican, Native American and probably a touch of many, many more.
  • Although I choose Christianity, I apply many teachings of other religions to my life therefore I AM simply a child of God.
  • As a woman, I also have a male leading energy (according to an assessment by Tony Robbins) and am a very logical thinker. Therefore I AM, simply a human being with female and male “qualities.”
  • I run a business but also have children and a husband therefore, I AM  a homemaker who also provides income.
  • I have experienced sexual harassment, so I raise my hand for the “Me Too” movement. Yet, I am also experiencing the greatest business opportunity of a lifetime (in a business run by men) therefore, I AM NOT a victim to one person’s primitive existence but rather I AM a productive member of a gender neutral workforce.

The list goes on and on, solidifying that I don’t just fall into one bucket for anything.  If you really think about it, do you?

The longer we continue with the black and white thinking, the longer the segregation will continue. What if we open our minds to the idea that WE are not all so different after all.  Perhaps our level of respect would change for one another. Maybe Noah is right, maybe all of these concepts that separate us into buckets of human beings should be changed to an ongoing celebration of who we all are as humankind. Maybe, if we truly saw in everyone else what exists in ourselves, all this destruction would end. Because doesn’t the hate stem from separateness in the beginning? It all start with us against them, or you against me.

International Women’s Day is a beautiful celebration of what women have overcome and I don’t want to diminish that in any way, but is it another message to our youth of US against THEM? Every one of these movements over time have been with the intent to bring us together as one.  At what point do we eliminate the separateness of these movements?

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I will say this – if I have a 14-year old thinking this way, seeing humans as humans without much regard for gender, religion, or color – our youth are moving in the right direction. My son just can’t grasp the concept of man vs woman or black vs white and trying to force him to see the separation is a step backwards. Perhaps our youth will show us the way with this evolved thinking, because isn’t that what the movements are all about anyways?


The Introverted Mirror

The introverted mind is like an amusement park. It is a deep sea of imagination and creativity. Ever since I can remember, I found peace in being alone. As a kid, I could sit for hours in my room just thinking. Every bout of solitude would take me on an adventure – one that had no restrictions and no judgment.

My mother used to worry. She did not understand why I did not desire to be outside playing with the neighborhood kids all the time. After all, the social norm is focused on an extroverted lifestyle, so why wouldn’t a mother want her child functioning as part of the norm?

Children spend the majority of their time around other children. The average school day begins at 8:00A and ends at 3:00P. The entire day is spent in a classroom with at least 25 other people, often working in groups. Even “breaks” are additional social ventures…..tons of kids gathering in the cafeteria followed by the same plethora released to the playground to “unwind.” The amount of energy this requires of an introvert is indescribable. I remember wanting nothing more than solitude at the close of these exhausting school days. Nothing sounded better than curling up with my favorite book – alone in my room. Seemed perfectly normal to me….Until –

I realized that most kids wanted MORE interaction after school. The majority of kids in my neighborhood wanted to drop off their backpacks and hit the streets for play time! This always seemed like such a daunting task to me even though it was what I thought I was supposed to do. I often found my way out of it (faking sick was an easy go to), but many times I just ran with the pack to avoid being different. There were periods of my life when I chalked up this secret difference to just being shy. There were other periods when I thought I was just downright strange. With time, I learned how to play the extrovert game while finding ways to sneak in my ever-so desired quiet time. 2-years ago, I googled the word introvert. I had sneaking suspicions that I was one, but had worked so hard to become socially normal, that I really wasn’t sure. The book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts – by Susan Cain; came up so I bought it (oh the power of Amazon). What a game changer this book was for me. Susan Cain hit every nail on every head. Suspicions be gone….I am an introvert.introvert

Noah ViewMy son is 11-years young and I watch his introverted nature unfold with a sense of dignity. He has the same need to retreat as I did when I was his age. With a grateful heart I am fully accepting that this is a beautiful innate quality that will take him on inward journeys to places only he can go.

Is he still considered slightly out of the cultural norm? Maybe according to some. But studies show that an estimated 1/3 of the U.S. population is introverted. Just because we live in a culture that promotes constant social interaction as the norm, doesn’t mean it feels like the norm for everybody. There is something very freeing in this simple fact that we introverts are not alone.

I can’t say that my old cultural imbedded fears don’t pop up from time to time when it comes to my son. Every now and then a worrisome thought crosses my mind…Should he be doing what the masses do? Does he feel out of place? It doesn’t take me long to realize however, that his solitude is intentional. I find comfort in the realization that he is more than OK. He sees the world through his very own lenses and has everything it takes to be happy….right inside that magical amusement park of his mind. We talk about introversion all the time. I encourage him to do the things that make him happy, rather than running with the pack. He loves to read. He loves to write. He loves to dream. His though process runs deeper and more expansive than anyone I know.

I’m not only content with my own introverted nature, I am now grateful. I have the gift to deeply connect with someone just like me. We read together. We write together. We dream together. And now, we run together. It is on these runs that I get a glimpse of that deep, expansive thought process of his as he opens up to someone who can relate. And when we are done sharing our creative worlds, we run quietly…. side by side, each enjoying our own magical amusement park.