Hello, my name is Leon and I’m a stress-ball. I’m high-strung. I’m Type-A. And, I’m the father of two girls (ages 12 and 16).
All their lives they’ve seen Dad get intense when things didn’t go right: the bagger forgets to put the eggs in my grocery bag and I have to return to the store; I find an extra charge on my credit card bill that I don’t recognize; unannounced road construction makes us late to the movie theater. These all create anxiety in me, and everyone in the family knows it.
Being Type-A also means I’m a goal-setter—I fully submerge myself in the resolution process every January. This year I set a number of resolutions and took an online course about reaching my dreams, called the “Infinite Possibilities 30-Day Project.” Every day for the month of January, I watched a two or three-minute video and moved on with my life. In one video I was asked to look at my resolutions and create a running theme, using a phrase or title.
After some consideration I realized that “It’s All Good” would be the right mantra to encapsulate my resolutions, especially the one about making lemonade out of lemons: Everything happens for a reason, and it’s all-good in the end. If it’s not good, then it’s not the end.
Applying “It’s All Good” in 2016
Last spring, my youngest daughter won a contest and one of her prizes was a family trip to Universal Studios, Orlando. The company arranged everything: flight, accommodations, transfers, excursions, park tickets, etc. There was nothing for us to do but pack our bags, bring a camera and have fun.
Well, the trip was fraught with many unforeseen twists and turns. Our first encounter with one of these hairpin turns was sitting on the tarmac at Burbank Airport, waiting for take off.
“We’re sorry about the delay,” the captain announced. “We’re experiencing some tail wind conditions that are keeping us grounded. We’ll be waiting another forty-five minutes before we take off. Please sit comfortably.”
I could see my daughter Grace, the prize-winner, calculating. She knew we had a connecting flight to catch at JFK, and there was only an hour layover. When we took off, the captain informed us we’d have to land in Las Vegas for refueling: another 30-minute delay.
Grace asked, “Won’t that mean we might miss our flight?”
That’s when it came out of me. It was definitely my voice, but the words…the words didn’t sound as though they belonged to me.
“Don’t worry. It will all work out.”
Even though I knew we’d miss our flight, I truly believed it would be okay.
We got to JFK two-and-a-half hours late. I calmly walked over to a help desk, spoke about our dilemma, and asked what could be done. At first, it sounded like we’d have to spend the next sixteen hours at the airport. The agent worked some magic and after two more flights, we were in Orlando.
The hairpin turns didn’t end there—we had issues with the voucher for transportation to the resort from the Orlando Airport, the front desk clerk forgot to give us room keys to our resort, and at the box office for the Blue Man Group, they lost our reservations. When they finally got us in, they gave away our seats. The whole time I was calm, believing it would all work out—“It’s All Good.”
One evening back in our room, we started recounting all of our mishaps (there were so many more I could write a mini-series about our trip), and how each situation worked out. We still made it to Orlando on additional flights, the desk clerk gave us free meals for forgetting our keys, and they gave us the best seats in the house at the Blue Man Group show. Then, Grace said something that got everyone’s attention:
“You didn’t freak out.”
My 16-year old whipped her head up from her phone. “Yeah, I totally noticed that, too. What was that about?”
Even my wife chimed in, saying how surprised she was. I reminded my family that I was practicing my New Year’s Resolution. Being calm was very liberating.
“It helped me, too,” said Grace. “I expected you to go off the handle and be freaking out, but when you didn’t, I felt safe. I felt like things were under control, and my anxiety was lowered.”
My older daughter agreed. “I totally get that. I wasn’t sure what was going on—if Dad was just trying to keep it all under control and not explode. When I saw he really was calm, I really became calm, too,” she said.
It made me feel both good and bad as a parent. My control helped ease the anxiety in a stressful situation for my family—but that means for the last sixteen years, my intensity helped exasperate stressful issues. I hadn’t realized how much my reactions affected my family’s stress levels.
I feel fortunate this trip helped me learn that “It’s All Good” is more than just a mantra; it’s a crucial mindset for me to continue in order for my family to stay calm and happy.