Intercontinental Parenting

My three children are adults now. They live in Australia, Los Angeles and Israel. I can’t picture any of them living in Milwaukee. They are happy where they are.

Here are some of the ways I deal with the distance. It’s not easy.

1.Trust their choices. My eldest daughter moving to Australia was tough. Australia is far – from practically everywhere – but it is where she found love. Israel is more than an abstract dream; for my youngest, it is home. My son ditched neuroscience and a medical technology company in Copenhagen to write, record and produce music in Los Angeles .

2. Blame yourself, a little. You showed them the world. You traveled as a family and never saw geography as an obstacle. As parents you fostered the confidence and independence they need to be away.

3. Visit them. Face the fact that in order to see your kids you may have to sit in a crowded metal cylinder in the sky for a full day traveling to places that you wouldn’t choose for yourself – LA that would be you.
Meeting half-way changes it up. Japan was a perfect halfway meeting point for our Australian and Hawaii a perfect place for her wedding. Europe works for our Israeli.

4. Make them come visit you even if you have to pay their way.

5. Create an active group chat. For us pictures of food and dogs dominate, with some great memes.

6. Coordinate reading the same book or watching the same series.

7. Once in a while send a card. It may take forever to get there but they will have something tangible to hold. Conversely get them gifts in their local shops and they can be delivered to their door.

8. Count your blessings if far away for you is driving distance.

9. Stay involved in each other’s daily lives. Your kids never stop needing you. Make sure they know you are there for them for everything. Don’t be restrained by time differences.

10. Never end a conversation before saying “love you”.

Mercury Retrograde And What Does It Have To Do With You?

 

Mercury in retrograde – the default scapegoat when you’re having a bad day, your computer crashes or if you have to explain doing something really impulsive. Before we start judging it as fact or folly, L+M wants to know what it actually means. It suits me as a once aspiring astronaut who always wondered about astrology.

Mercury Retrograde. Take a deep breath. And don't text your ex.

Mercury is a tiny planet that moves super fast. When Mercury zips around the sun, as it passes Earth it appears to be moving backwards, from Earth’s vantage point. This optical illusion is what is known as Mercury retrograde. This happens about 3-4 times a year and lasts three weeks each time.

Stargazers have always been fascinated by retrograde motion. When Mercury speeds by, it creates a sort of disruption or turbulence that is thought to affect us on earth. In astrology, Mercury is associated with communication, relationships, travel, contracts, and computer codes.

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EAT A PEACH!

Let’s start the weekend thinking about the peach. The vibrant mix of fiery orange and red sweeping its surface. How sexy is that shape – with the round, fuzzy curvature and visible crack? It baits you to take a big messy bite, juice running down your chin. The sweet flesh a wake up call to recruit your sense of taste, smell and touch. When perfectly ripe on a summer day it is 100 percentage fruit – sheer delight.

I brought one to a friend in the hospital. That peach stood out like a beacon in the dull room full of grey machinery, tubes and the monochromatic hospital lunch tray. I’ll never forget the expression when he tasted it.

Where I live, finding fresh fruit can mean waiting for a truck to come in every month. The truck is packed with Georgia peaches and pecans in early summer and gorgeous Michigan blueberries added later in the season. By august thankfully I have my own home-grown cherries and raspberries.

Everything has its time, it’s season. Being knowledgable and active in seeking out fresh, local produce grounds us.
I play with metaphor here as the peach, at the right time, can be a remarkably sensual experience.

Every day life conveniences – fluorescent light, air conditioning, TV, cars, – can distance us from the earth. Savoring a peach pulls us back in.

CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE

On the 4th of July Milwaukee is like Pleasantville, USA. This becomes a place where people are “swell and perky.” American flags fly proudly. Kids decorate their bikes in festive red, white and blue. There is a parade with floats, clowns, animals and classic cars. You can win a stuffed animal at the carnival. Roasted sweet corn, snow cones and cotton candy are standard fare, along with plenty of beer.

I love a holiday with no religion.

Family travels in and the walls of our house expand to fit whoever can stand the chaos. My famous American flag cake is expected. I don’t formally invite friends; it’s an open annual event by now. The barbecue grill is fired up for hours. We skip the carnival and the parade and spend the day in the water.

When darkness sets in, we move to the deck, leaning on the railing in anticipation. Local fireworks are launched from a nearby park and we can see them from our backyard. The colors light up the night sky and reflect off the lake. The deep booms and short pops are magnified and echoed in the bowl of the lake. Only after our dog Marley lost her hearing in her later years could she finally relax during the show.

Who can resist the glory of fireworks? Those brilliant, loud, flashes of light mesmerize even the cynics. Scientists say we like them because they scare us. I say they are a part of our collective unconscious. They bring us back to a time we believed in magic. Even when experienced in a group, the experience is paradoxically internal and personal: fireworks stir up a sense of nostalgia, wonder, and possibility.

Ask Dr. Annie K: How Mental Health Can Affect Relationships

 

I’ve (34M) been with my girlfriend (40F) for 3.5 years and very much do still love her. I suffer from severe anxiety and PTSD but have been active in therapy for well over 15 years. My girlfriend suffers from BPD or bipolar (hasn’t been fully diagnosed yet) and unlike myself, is just starting to go through therapy and seeing a psychiatrist as well. I love her to absolute death but she’s become a very difficult person to be in a relationship with and have it not be a miserable ride.

She’ll pin me down for 2+ hours trying to explain and get me to side with some of her destructive relationship behavior. It’s very exhausting and it’s hurting our relationship. I try to give advice, but it usually doesn’t get absorbed or even listened to at all. I don’t look forward to seeing her anymore and I hate that feeling but I’m not sure how or if I can get back to the excitement of being around her again.

What do I do? Establish that we need to take a break? Break up completely? Toughen the heck up and quit being a wuss? I’m at a complete loss because even though we love each other, being her boyfriend while she’s in this state is bringing the most unhappiness I’ve ever felt in my life…

Sincerely,
A guy stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Love+Medicine

Dear Guy,

Thank you for consulting me. It is always difficult to assess the entire picture when having only one side of the story but I will offer my observations.

I am sincerely happy to hear about your own personal progress with your anxiety. You are clearly invested in treating your illness and realize how valuable it is to stay in therapy. You do not want your illness to prevent you from having a healthy, loving relationship.

If you read your letter to yourself again, you will see that the answers are there. You are clearly in love with this woman. Yet you describe yourself as experiencing “the most unhappiness I’ve ever felt in my life.”

This is understandable. Anyone who has a relationship with someone suffering from bipolar disorder knows the challenges. Your girlfriend is just now starting the healing process. It can take time to reach stability.

In the meantime, you are unhappy and this can impact your own mental stability. Giving the relationship a break may be the way to go for both sides. Your partner needs time to get healthy.

You would not be splitting because she has mental health issues. You would do it because you are miserable right now and appropriately concerned about the future.

After a period apart, you can both reassess how you are feeling. A couples counselor can be helpful particularly when confronting painful emotions – especially when facing the possibility of an end of your relationship.

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