In my private practice life, I maintain a fairly private existence. My focus in session is on my client, not on getting my social needs met. Coaching is the same – although it’s more directive and less intimate and uncovering. But with back and forth discussion, clients get to know me pretty well. They don’t learn the details about my life but do gather a lot from my sense of humor, occasional stories, and encouragement. I want us to get to know each other too. For GKIS to be useful for you, you need to be confident that I share your values and that my sources are credible. I need to know what questions you want answered and topics that you’d like to hear about. It doesn’t escape me that your time is very valuable. If you take the time to open articles, I want to make sure you get as much value and applicability as possible. Same with my books and online parenting courses. In today’s article, I’m going to tell you why I love GKIS so much – and why so many people tell me they love the message.
I’m at a transitional point in my life. I’m 50 years old, my dad is gone and my mom has severe dementia; I’m two years post-divorce, newly in love, and my oldest is engaged and my youngest is officially a teen. I’m at a stopping place where I’m finding myself again and deciding who I want to be when I grow up. It’s a time of new-found stillness and opportunity. I’m old enough to have the wisdom of experience and young enough to plan more adventures and re-create aspects of the woman I really want to be.
My kids still mostly accept my influence, and I’m no longer overtasked to the point of feeling buried. I’m traveling and exploring and openly celebrating without the self-consciousness I had in my younger years. I feel free and curious and energized. I’ve created a business that I’m proud of, with a unique balance of doing things I love as a healer and a teacher. GetKidsInternetSafe is my legacy-building project for helping families achieve true connection and screen safety. It’s about prevention more than treatment. It’s been eye-opening in ways I didn’t expect. Today I’d like to share with you the profound “Ah-ha” I uncovered during a group coaching session. I’m hoping it might move you to create magic moments of stillness in the coming days to help you create more meaning and have more fun in your life, as an individual and a parent. Who do you want to be when you grow up, or are you already there?
Last Saturday I was a creative branding workshop geared to make my business more vital, energizing, and meaningful. Our coach presented two exercises that really got me thinking. The first was to describe the last moment I was in true bliss.
Here’s what I came up with:
Late morning game drive. Perfect 68-degree weather, light breeze on our faces cruising down a red dirt road. Swaying waist-high golden blonde grass as far as the eye could see, a termite mound or a crop of gray rocks here and there. The hum of the engine and tiny jolts from a rocky road. Brad, our two companions from Salt Lake City, and I were on high alert scanning for animals. Our Masai warrior in his hot pink beanie had the windshield down scanning, always quietly scanning. Our jeep had no windows or doors, so it felt like we were flying with few obstructions blocking our view. Scanning, scanning, occasionally switching our internal lense from looking for the grey boulders in the distance that were elephants to the swaying kill in a tree for leopards to the black ears and cunning eyes from the head of a lion or hyena.
The anticipation we all felt seemed to sizzle between us…like somehow our joint efforts were combining into the thrill of patient discovery. We knew after days of tracking that our efforts would definitely payoff. Maybe it would take hours, maybe seconds. We might be treated with a sleek cheetah mom hunting with her two pouncing cubs. Or maybe we’d get to sit and coo at the adorable baby elephant rolling a log with her back foot. Maybe we’d see the gruesome site of a partially-eaten zebra hanging from a tree or the violence of a lion pack stalking and taking down an old water buffalo. The thrill of the beauty of Africa was absolutely intoxicating. I was in true meditative bliss. Hours of meditation spiked with the shock of powerful violence or the lazy relaxation of grazing zebras and wildebeest. I’ve never felt anything quite like that. I was as happy as I get.
Time up, exercise over. Brain shock.
We all looked up from our pens and paper, still kind of stoned from our blissful moment. Waiting with patient curiosity what our coach was going to do with this content…what this could possibly have to do with our businesses and well-honed mission statements.
Then she asked us to write down three things we loved to do as children.
I wrote: take long drives after dinner, play speed games, and climb rocks camping with my BFF standard poodle, Ty.
Then she asked us to compare our bliss now and as kids to what we do in our businesses every day.
I mean really, what does the miracle of the African savannah and childhood antics have to do with GKIS?
You can tell me if I’ve lost my mind, because our coach Zhena makes us feel like that sometimes. But with her suggestion, I was struck all at once. My bliss in Tanzania was about the anticipation of thrilling discovery. Thrilling discovery is what childhood is all about. Discovery is why kids tear apart the house, ask incessant questions, and beg for screen time. Watching kids geek out over lady bugs and Mexican Train and Minecraft and Snapchat and Fortnight – that is what parenting is about. Watching our children play and joining them in it is about Discovery.
My work as a psychologist, teacher, writer, and researcher is the same type of discovery I loved on my after-dinner drives with my family. Imaginary mountain climbing on rocks while camping was about adventure. And speed games is pure connection and delight. Parenting and my work as a psychologist is not about this all day, every day. But all of those elements are woven into my job. I get the privilege of watching people discover the pathways from dark places to the light.
Since that blissful midmorning in sunny Africa, I have described that scene to clients in my office while I teach imagery and mindfulness – clients ranging from 6 years old to 76. Then they tell me a scene that is special to them. It’s a moment of connection in the therapy office. A moment where we share our bliss. It’s intimate and fun and connecting, not unlike how it feels to hang out and be truly present with your child. It’s what we are born to do…connect.
The truth is, the reason why screen time is so compelling is because it is ALL about discovery and connection. We can’t turn away from the stimulating, on-demand content. It’s intoxicating. It distracts us from everything and everybody. We get high on it.
That’s not all bad. Learning and discovery is amazing. But research also tells us that learning and discovery in the three-dimensional world outside of screen time is also necessary for balanced health and happiness. GKIS is about connection, discovery, and balance. It’s about supporting each other with strategies and tools to help us guide our kids through this maze of temptations on- and offline.
So, there it is. GKIS is my later-in-life adoption that allows me and my subscribers true discovery. And from my recent inner reflections, I’m reminded that kids hijack peace and quiet, organization, and self-care. Parenting is chaos in motion. It captures us in ways that no other activity does. For me, memories of taking care of my toddlers brings me gently delicious images of bedtime snuggles and kitchen dances. The impossible moments of trying to keep the house clean and stepping on llegos are far dimmer in my memory. Special moments are what you too will remember.
I hope you are inspired to take a moment and write about your recent moment of bliss. Maybe it was a steamy cup of tea early in the morning, or a walk with your best friend, or a snuggle with your child. Or maybe it was an exotic adventure like mine. Whatever your bliss, please take the time to notice it. Even better, create a magic 20 minutes of stillness once a week to curl up on the coach and read your weekly GKIS article. Reflect on how your family is growing and the gaps that GKIS ideas can help with. Journal. Make a gentle plan for progress. Screen safety certainly, but far more delicious are the magic moments of connection that you will have with your family.
I can’t wait to hear what you think of GKIS ideas in the comments of the blog, on FB and Instagram, or email me directly at DrTracy@DrTracyBennett.com.
I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetKidsInternetSafe.
Onward to More Awesome Parenting,
Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D.
Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI Adjunct Faculty