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I fish. It’s what I do. Some have asked me what in the world draws me to stand by a pond and throw a little feathered hook in the water time and time again, often with very few results. I fish so I can de-stress. 

It’s mindless (somewhat) and I can leave all the emotion, anxiety, and uncertainties behind me for just a little while. If you fish, you understand this. I can clear my head before re-entering the real world. Fishing is my self-care

Self-Care… It’s become a popular term that’s popped up in conversations around health, mindfulness, and stress. You do self-care when you do any kind of action deliberately in order to care for your mental, physical, or emotional health. And it’s widely thought to be effective in reducing anxiety and stress. 

How apropos in our current state. At perhaps no other time in recent memory has it been so important to stay healthy. Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. People are stuck at home. Routines are turned upside down. Family members are spending way more time with each other than they are used to. 

I’d say self-care is a precious commodity right about now. 

I don’t know about you, but in my house, it’s easy to give our kids a schedule that includes some healthy activities. However, it’s extremely difficult for me personally to get into a routine of self-care activities. My game is so thrown off by the stress of our circumstances. And it’s sometimes a fight just to get me away from the computer screen. 

But it has to happen. As parents, we’ve got to be a good example and practice self-care right now. And here’s why: 

You can’t give what you don’t have. 

Meaning, if you want your kids to practice self-care, you need to self-care. You’ve got to fill your tank so you have it in you to help them fill their tanks. When you self-care, you’re better able to handle feelings of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and stress. This is so important so that these emotions don’t get the best of you. 

Pay attention to yourself. Keep an eye on the radar of your emotional state. Take the time to do some things each day that help you deal with all the chaos that is going on

  • Go for a walk. Get some fresh air. Let the sun shine on your face for a little while. 
  • Meditate or pray. Sing (out loud). 
  • Get plenty of sleep. 
  • Do push-ups. Or go for a run. Or practice yoga. Anything to stretch, strengthen, and move the body. 
  • Eat clean. Healthier food keeps your energy up. Drink plenty of water. 
  • But, every few days, sneak in that Oreo. Because stress
  • Read a book. Watch a documentary. Keep your mental game strong. 
  • Communicate your needs to the people that love you. Let them know when you need to be alone. And let them know when you need to be with them. Get plenty of both. 

These are just a small number of suggestions for self-care. Search online for other ideas and find out what feeds your health—body, and soul. And then do it. Regularly. 

Of course, we don’t self-care simply for our own needs. Our families are depending on us. That’s why it’s so important that we set a good example of self-care as parents.

Your moments of self-care are the teachable moments for your kids.

As parents, every little thing we do is seen. Young eyes are watching how we handle ourselves—especially in the midst of anxiety and stress. They take their emotional cues from what they see in us. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a terrible parenting style—particularly when it comes to self-care. They need to see you handling your health in a positive way

It’s okay for your kids to know you are anxious or fearful. But it’s so much more important that they see how you handle your anxiety and fear. When they see you taking care of yourself, you are modeling that for your children. 

And think about this: when this whole pandemic, self-quarantine, social-distancing era is behind us, your kids are going to use what they’ve learned from you for the rest of their lives. I hope this is the last time we ever have to go through this, but it won’t be the last time your kids will experience stressful times. It may sound funny, but your example of self-care leaves a legacy. 

Parents, take care of yourself. For your sake, and for your kids. They’re counting on you.

Image from Unsplash.com

Fishing has taught me a lot about marriage. One of the most frustrating things I experience on a fishing trip is when something malfunctions with my fishing reel, and the line becomes a horrible mess of tangles and knots. Some folks call this a “bird’s nest.” The thin fishing line can bunch up in a giant mound of filament protruding from the reel.

It’s a “reel” pain.

There’s really only one way to deal with this situation: sit down on the side of the riverbank and begin the slow, tedious process of untangling the fishing line.

Yes, it’s daunting. And it’s the last thing you want to do.

It requires an enormous amount of patience and care. And the one rule to remember is that no matter how frustrated you get, you don’t want to start recklessly pulling on the line from the nest, cinching the knots even tighter, making the problem worse.

You’ve got to enter the mess and start carefully unweaving the nest until the tangle is clear and you can finally, and happily, resume catching fish.

I’ve found that tangles in marriage work in the same way. Disagreements and misunderstandings happen. It’s important to hit the pause button, sit down with your spouse, and slowly begin untangling the nest.

Yes, it’s daunting, and it may not be the most pleasant process.

And just like a bird’s nest, it requires an enormous amount of care and patience. BUT the last thing you want is to have tempers flare, say thoughtless words, and make the problem worse. This will cinch your marital tangle even tighter.

Instead, enter the mess together with a spirit of calmness and anticipate a joint solution. Just like in fishing, you’ll find in your marriage that when the tangle starts to unweave, you and your spouse have grown closer in the process.

 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

There is a right way and a wrong way to tie a fishing lure to your fishing line. I learned the hard way why it’s important to be sure and tie a strong knot.

Every. Single. Time.

One fishing trip, I decided to use my favorite spinning lure at the creek, and so I quickly (carelessly) tied it onto my line. When I went for my first cast, the reel jammed up and didn’t allow the fishing line to process from the rod. As I whipped my rod point toward the water, there was a weird, twangy sound, and the next thing I know, I’m watching my lure fly through the air, land in the water, and float down the creek with no fishing line attached to it.

Goodbye, favorite spinning lure.

After a few moments of dismay and upon further inspection, the wadded up, squiggly end of my fishing line told me that my lure hadn’t been securely tied on. It was a poorly-tied, loose knot.

It’s also important for the proverbial marital knot to be strongly tied. Jams occur, and the unexpected often happens. All too often, marriages end up floating down the creek and gone for good – all because the knot was loose.

A strong knot means that no matter what, you and your spouse constantly choose to be all-in.

Here are a few ways to make sure your marriage knot is tied strongly:

  • Resolve with your spouse to always work through disagreements and spats instead of ignoring them and letting them fester. Anticipate a solution.
  • Never let the D word (i.e. divorce), at any time, enter into your vocabulary, or even in your thoughts. Choose for that not to be an option.
  • When jams occur, revisit and acknowledge with your spouse the words you said as part of your wedding vows, such as “…to have and to hold from this day forward…for better or worse…” Acknowledge with your spouse that, no matter the jam, these words still hold true.
  • When you work through stressful situations and find solutions, celebrate it together! Go out for a nice dinner. Enjoy an intimate evening without the kids. Celebrate your commitment!

Strong knots help keep both fishing lures and marriages from floating downstream. Keep your marriage knot tied tight!

 

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

I’ve learned a lot about marriage by fishing. As I watched my two elementary-age daughters fishing in our neighborhood pond yesterday, it reminded me of how my dad passed on his love of fishing to me at an early age, just as his father had passed it on to him. We hand important skills down from generation to generation: how to carry a rod properly, baiting a hook, casting in the right spot, and the pinnacle of all childhood fishing skills—handling the fish and taking it off the hook. (And if you’re in my family, the tradition is to kiss your first fish!)

I proudly watched as my 8-year-old carefully removed her (fourth or fifth) bluegill from her lure. I also watched my 11-year-old practice casting with a fly rod (a much different art than with a traditional rod and reel). Proud daddy moments, for sure.

We also pass marriage skills on to our kids through our example. Children watch their parents carefully. They quickly catch on to how we handle our relationship with our spouse: how we manage disagreements or stress, how we show love and respect, and the way we share family tasks.

Marriage skills aren’t as much taught as they are caught by our children (please pardon the fishing pun). And kids catch both the good and the bad.

I’m proud to say I’ve inherited (and still use) some old rods and reels from both my grandfather and my father. And I plan to pass them on to my daughters and their children. But more importantly, I hope they will inherit from me good relationship skills they can use to strengthen their own future marriages.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***