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Lesson of a new parent #3: Love the mystery by Misha Lyuve

Oct 31, 2014

Matisse at MOMA

When at the end of his life Henry Matisse, couldn’t stand up and paint, he dedicated himself to art of scissors and developed series of cutouts, currently presented at the Museum of Modern of Art in New York City. The exhibition, full of child-like optimism, reminded me that while art might have an explanation, it’s not the point – the deliciousness of art experience lies purely in art’s mystery.

In fact, I was reminded of that by my two 11-month old daughters whom I brought with me. They didn’t express any interest in headphone lectures, the neat fonts of wall explanations or even artwork titles. But you should’ve seen them: they were ecstatic; they pointed at the art work with their hands; they stared into the shapes and vocalized their excitement. Had there been an opportunity, they would’ve touched them and even ate them.

This exhibition evoked a very similar emotional reaction in me. But I was consumed with something else – I desperately wanted to understand: what exactly are they seeing? What specifically they are reacting to? What’s happening inside of their cute little heads?

I have to admit that these questions have been following me all along. Many parents find the process of child development fascinating – because it truly is. And we want to know – so we read books and consult specialists; and then we come up with questions, seek explanations and look for answers. And often that is what a good parent should do. But not always.

Some time in the middle of the exhibition I let go of my unanswerable unnecessary questions and embraced my children’s mystery. One of my daughter was sitting in the carrier close to my heart and we were standing right in front of a Matisse’s whimsical masterpiece. And this double mystery felt like heaven.

Lesson #3: Love the mystery – stop asking questions; observe and enjoy instead.

This post is a part of Lessons of a new parent cycle. (If you missed, here is Lesson of a new parent #2 – Reciprocity)

Mattisse

Photography by Laurie Lewis

Rome by Misha Lyuve

Sep 19, 2014

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Ice bucket challenge with rhymes by Misha Lyuve

Aug 19, 2014


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Lessons of a new parent. #2: Reciprocity by Misha Lyuve

Apr 29, 2014

This post is a part of Lessons of a new parent cycle. (If you missed, here is Lesson of a new parent. #1 – Happiness)

Lesson #2: Reciprocity – relationship with your child, as any other relationship, has elements of give and take; pay attention to what you are taking.

It was a fairly cold February day during my paternity leave. Myself I wouldn’t even consider going out in such cold unless I really had to. But with the kids, there was hardly a question in my head – the kids loved being (or to be more precise, sleeping) outside.

As usual, Central Park embraced me with its winter solemn beauty and, on a cold day like this, it was desolate – very much to my liking. On the way home I reflected on how much I enjoyed this walk and arrived to the following question: while it seemed like I took my daughters for a walk, was it in reality visa versa – were they the ones taking me out?
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It is common to think about parenting as something one gives: whether it is food, comfort, entertainment or education; while a reward comes in a form of a child’s response (from a smile to an acknowledgement) or an accomplishment (from the  first step to college graduation.) But that walk in the park pointed me to a much more profound parent-child relationship exchange.

When my kids request my attention, I find ways to engage them; but in return they provide me with entertainment, and let me assure you, it’s top notch. On the surface it might seem that I am there to teach them something, but truthfully in this short time my kids have shared with me most profound lessons. They started even before I met them during my adoption journey and continue to this day (thus Lessons of a new parent). And on top as you already know, they take me on awesome walks.

When I acknowledged this reciprocity, the relationship with my children became that much deeper and more fulfilling. Notice what your children give you.

RIP Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Misha Lyuve

Apr 18, 2014

…they no longer felt like newlyweds, and even less like belated lovers. It was as if they had lept over the arduous cavalry of conjugal life and gone straight to the heart of love. They were together in silence like an old married couple wary of life, beyond the pitfalls of passion, beyond the brutal mockery of hope and the phantoms of disillusion: beyond love. For they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez “Love in the Time of Cholera”

Lessons of a new parent. #1: Happiness by Misha Lyuve

Mar 27, 2014

You can speak to your children of life,
But your words are not life itself…
Don’t mistake your desire to talk for their readiness to listen.
Far more important are the wordless truths they learn from you

“The Parent’s Tao Te Ching”, William Martin

Lesson #1 – Happiness: If you have at least a small interest in your child’s happiness, be a happy person yourself.

I always treated my personal happiness and satisfaction as something indulgent and selfish, pertaining only to me.

One day I was upset about something. It was time to start feeding one of my daughters. I sat down holding her and watched her hungrily latching on to the nipple of the bottle. About half-way through her meal, I saw that I was still upset and many “frustrated” thoughts were rolling inside my head in circles. And then I noticed how my frustration was floating from my head down into my arm, from my arm into the bottle and from the bottle right into her little mouth. And this all while my heart, soaked in anger and disappointment, was pulsing against her little head. This observation was awakening.

At that exact moment it became unequivocally clear that my happiness or unhappiness for that matter doesn’t belong only to me. My personal happiness, fulfillment and peace had much bigger impact than I ever imagined.

Shortly after gaining this understanding, I watched an interview with Osho “If People Are Happy Nobody Can Drag Them Into a War”. Osho talked about a generation of parents that lived sacrificing their happiness for their children. Those children learned how to sacrifice, but not how to be happy. And the martyrdom went on and on, and at the end NO ONE got to be happy.

This comes down to a very simple truth – if you want your kid to know how to be happy, you have to become an embodiment of fulfillment, life satisfaction and joy yourself. Let’s not underestimate the task: happiness is not a state in which most humans find themselves naturally at a snap of their fingers. But it doesn’t mean it is not available. By the way, The Slight Edge, a book by Jeff Olson I recently read, has some practical ways of applying discipline and conscious living to make happiness into a daily practice.

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A man is about to rape a woman by Misha Lyuve

Mar 2, 2014
Putin-UkrainePhoto credit: iStockphoto 

A man is about to rape a woman. It is a daylight. In fact, it’s midday; the weather is really nice and a lot of people are out. It is a busy street.

When the man pulled the woman towards the wall and held her hands from the back, the people went by wondering – “what’s going on here?“, “he can’t just rape a woman in a daylight in the middle of the street.”

By the time the man started pulling the woman’s skirt up from behind and ripping her stolkings, a small crowd started gathering around them. People spoke among each other: “what does he think he is doing?“, “doesn’t he see that we can see him?“, “doesn’t he understand that there will be consequences?

By the time the man was unbuttoning his fly and pulling his thing out, the crowd got bigger. The folks were outraged: “how dare you?“, “if you do this, we will make your life hell“, “no one will come to your party this weekend.”

And Putin was smiling.

Premature opinionation and three considerations on how to deal with it by Misha Lyuve

Feb 15, 2014

Woody Allen glases

This posting is not about Woody Allen’s child molestation accusations. It is about me. And maybe you.

I liked some of the Woody Allen’s movies. After reading the recent letter of his adoptive daughter accusing him of sexual abuse, without much questioning I silently joined the public outrage. I “liked” scornful Facebook commentary and vowed to never watch another Allen’s movie again. The guilty verdict was irreversibly apparent.

Then I read “Woody Allen’s Allegations – Not So Fast” by Robert Wiede, who produced and directed a documentary about Allen. Not only did I not know much about the man, but even what I thought I knew was not true. For instance, I was sure that Allen had married his adoptive daughter, and that made me cringe profusely (especially now as a father of two adoptive daughters), while in reality Soon-Yi was adopted by Mia Farrow and one of her previous husbands. Among other facts the article shed light on aspects of Mia and Woody relationship as well as the investigation that came out from the original accusations back in the 90′s.

After having read the article I became very clear about one and only one thing: I had no idea what Woody Allen did and what he didn’t do. And as I mentioned earlier, this posting is not about Woody Allen. The disturbing behavior that I had to face is my own.

There was a moment, literally a point in time, when without much deliberation I jumped into a judgement (see also A judgmental jerk) and formed an opinion about the matter. Let’s call this phenomenon premature opinionation. I didn’t have much information about the topic; I didn’t do any investigation on it nor was I going to research it in the future. Moreover, I didn’t plan to take a single action based on my opinion (e.g. counsel sex abuse victims or bring peace to Allen-Farrow family). In other words, my opinion was for the sake of the opinion, purely.

The humanly natural process of creating opinions, even premature ones, would be merely entertaining, if we didn’t relate to our opinions as the Truth. And should one person fall into a trap of premature opinionation, it would be a non-event, but imagine what kind of a mess we end up in when this happens with hundreds, thousands of people, including TV hosts, radio personalities, celebrities and maybe even you.

So before you ever become a victim of premature opinionation, here are three considerations to keep in mind:

1. Before forming an opinion, pause and ask yourself: “What if I don’t come up with an opinion now?” If you think that the world order will stay intact, just give yourself time

2. If you feel utterly compelled to form an opinion right now, allow yourself to do it. But if there is more than 1% chance that it is premature, keep it to yourself for now – do more research, sleep on it, give it time

3. If you consider sharing your opinion, a good questions to ask: “Who really cares about what I think about this topic?” Just be honest here. Remember that even those who get into a dialogue with you about your opinion most likely care about their opinion way more than about yours

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