Parenting, Anxiety, and Gingerbread Houses: How to become a #fearhunter 

I just had to share this story. Seriously, it has gone in my journal as the most challenging day I’ve had. The day started out with my plan: Wake at 4:45am, work until 10:30am, help kids with school for an hour, and then work from 2pm until dinner. It sounds easy enough, right? Well, challenge after challenge piled up and interrupted my plans. But even more, these challenges threatened to shut me down.

I’ve been writing a lot and discovering patterns, habits, and behaviors that link to fear-based thoughts. Thoughts like self-sabotage, self-doubt, procrastination, rationalization. These are all fears masked under a different appearance. For a majority of my life, I believed this was a part of me and there was nothing I could do about it. Then I learned that if I spent enough time discovering the source of where these are born and come from, I could become a #fearhunter. I began beheading the fears. Once you are able to define, discover, and recognize the enemy, you can manage and overcome it.

So here is how the day played out:

I woke at 4:45am to head into the studio to create concepts that I needed to email for approvals and submit. I planned to finish a couple of paintings. Teach kids around 10:30am and then wrap up paintings around 2-5:30pm. Easy enough, right?

5:30am: I accidentally spill some tea on my keyboard. I can’t access my screen because I can’t type in my password. The submissions sit in my computer and I can’t send them. Stores don’t open for another five hours for me to buy a keyboard.

5:45am: Shift gears to work on paintings. Then realize another two pieces of machines for my production aren’t working. I normally would use my computer to pull some ideas. I decide to just grab my laptop. I grab laptop, and battery is dead. Go find cord in the dark house with family sleeping.

6:30am: My watch clamp on my new strap comes loose. I’m anal about my time. It drives me nuts not to have a watch since I use it every 10 minutes or so. Look for screwdrivers and they are not where they are supposed to be. My mind races with how much time I’m losing. I’m already two hours behind. Finally find screwdrivers in my studio.

6:48am: Find pieces to get the paintings going and laptop working.

7:00am: Grab my camera to shoot some reference, but the battery is dead. It doesn’t make sense; I charged it all night! Plug battery in charger. Go back to painting. Remember that maybe there’s an old keyboard in the closet that I can use to plug into the computer.

8:00am: Have spent an hour digging through every place a keyboard could hide. I found two mouses though (the computer kind of mouse).

8:45am: After 45 minutes of painting, go back to battery to load into the camera to shoot. It’s ready. Although, it’s not. The new battery isn’t compatible with the charger. WHAT THE HECK!!!!?? I call an audible and use my iPhone.

9:00am: I go back into the house to take a break to have breakfast with the kids, bible time, and prayer to restart the day. In my head, I have an hour of production to get done and can’t get this concept sent. I have asked my daughter to pick up the dog poop, get dressed, and get ready to leave for the computer store four times. Each time I’m told, “I forgot.” Seriously? In five minutes, you forgot? Four times?? During this time, Lil’ Noah asks Griffin, “You want to build the gingerbread house today? Griffin says, “No, some other day.”

10:00am: After rounds of herding the kids to get ready, we finally take off for the store. The store doesn’t have the keyboard I need. I have to drive across town to another store. After an hour of driving, I find the keyboard at a store. Even though I’m five hours past my workflow deadlines, I race to get home.

11:00am: Hook up keyboard and it doesn’t pair. It doesn’t work. I went for a walk around the block to cool myself. The kids are waiting inside to finish school. I work for the next hour and finally get some traction, and the keyboard works. NOW I need to finish up the concepts, take the pictures I need, paint the painting I needed, and wrap all this up. Basically, I’ve lost a half day being shut down at every corner.

1:00pm: While walking through the house, I hear a tearing sound. Yep. It’s our little Chuweenie biting holes in our expensive living-room rug. She’s now hit three rooms and decided to make today the day to finish the triple crown.

2:00pm: I look out of the studio to see my wife saluting. That’s code word for her rubbing her hands up and down her face in disbelief. As her husband of 14 years, I know what this means: She’s been pushed beyond the limit. It was so bad she came to me for help. And she is fried. Something has gone wrong. Something bad.

2:15pm: Chantel says that the kids decided to make the gingerbread house without us. There’s a moment as a dad when you don’t want to go in the house because you already know what your response will be. I was right. As I walked into the kitchen, I am greeted by my two kids COVERED in powdered sugar. Why? Because the room is covered in powered sugar — even the floor, walls and art. What makes it worse is that they thought they could clean up the floor with water. Yes. Water. Now our kitchen sounds and feels like the floor of a movie theater or taxi cab.

3:15pm: I finally finish wiping up and cleaning the whole kitchen and finally sit down for a snack since I haven’t eaten lunch. As I sit down my elbows stick to the table and arm rests of the chair which reminds me I need to give the kitchen another pass of cleaning.

5:15pm: It’s about time for dinner. The day is shot. I plan on eating dinner with the family and then head out to the studio to “begin my day.”

So, what did this day teach me? A TON! This day hit on so many stress levels. I recognized fear in every moment: My speech, my tone, my outlook, my response, my guilt, my shame, my approach.

THE GOOD NEWS: For years, these fears were not on my radar. I just ran red lights in my behavior only to go to bed saying I blew it as a dad and came up short on delivering responsibilities. I now have these fears on my radar and know the reasons they exist. I LET THEM.

THE STRATEGIES:

1. I now approach these moments knowing they are temporary. If I overreact, it will not change the outcome; fear wins. Therefore, I behead the fear of overreacting.

2. Yelling or getting frustrated with the kids won’t make them listen any better to me. I behead the fear of temper. The kids will listen more to a whisper than they will a shout. I will admit I did lose it in the kitchen, but regrouped and approached it from another way. Good grief though.

3. I couldn’t let the situations with the keyboard, battery, and timing of it all get to me. I beheaded the fears of shame, doubt, criticism, and guilt. If I didn’t, I would rationalize my time to take the day off and say it was just a hard day. Then, I wouldn’t get anything done.

I learned that the enemy is myself; the way I’ve thought for years. The sooner I tell my brain what to do, my behaviors and actions follow. I spent years trying to change actions. It takes discovering the root of actions. Its takes defining the enemy. Find and define the fear, and you’ll change your life.

I am convinced that we complicate our own lives by defaulting to what’s easy: anger, frustration, outbursts, and complication. Let’s face it; it’s way easier to get upset than it is to be in control and have self-discipline. A majority of our unhealthy actions and unhealthy non-productive habits are based in self-hate. The more we self-hate, the more fear wins. Become a fear hunter and hunt down the lies, mis-beliefs, and mis-codes that battle to win your life and rob your joy.

We get to pick. We have a choice. That’s the good news, we get to choose to fight, hunt, and deal with the fears.

Oh and by the way, the fears will never be gone. They will be around the rest of our lives. It’s whether or not we will learn the art of silencing them instead of giving them power through a voice. It’s like living in the eye of a hurricane. Life is and will always be stormy. You have to learn to dance in the rain and have joy in the eye of the storm. Those are the individuals who change the world because the world doesn’t run them, they run the world.

This blog post is brought to by my lovely new keyboard which I’m using to type these words.

Have an amazing week. I’d love to hear from you. Have you had these sorts of days? Leave a comment below and let me know how you handle them. Also, please share this post and forward it to those you know could use a boost.

I’m glad you’re here.