Welcome brother! If this is your first time reading Woodshop Wisdom, this is a place where, every Monday, we answer a specific question from the men’s community. We give straight-forward answers to a variety of relationship problems and the challenges men face everyday as a provider, father and husband. And often we will challenge you to go much deeper in your understanding of the problem and how to think about it more effectively.
Let’s get started.
This is a question that comes from my life. It is a question I need to ask myself. What you will see in the answer is my best attempt to coach myself. This is what is on my mind right now.
I have some work at the shop to do before a fast-approaching deadline. It will require me to work late the night before. I asked my ex-wife to take the kids the night before the deadline day instead of the next morning so I can get to my job before 10 am and complete the tasks needed to get the project done.
I thought it was a simple request.
I had my two girls five out of the previous seven days. I threw my youngest a birthday party/sleepover with her friends on one of those nights. It was a busy week, and I tried my hardest to spend quality time with my kids before and after school each day. I took Friday off and took her and her friends shopping at the mall. I was being present and attentive during our time together.
Tonight, I dropped my daughters at their Mom’s and her and I chat a bit. We catch up on some family stuff and what we each have been up to. It was nice. She asks about work and without hiding anything I tell her I am going in early to get this project wrapped up and thanked her for taking the kids one night earlier than scheduled.
What you need to know is that our relationship ended mainly due to her disdain for the way I “worked hard” in the past and was not present at home as much as she desired. Tonight, she says with sarcasm that “yeah, it’s no problem I take them after working all day…you need the rest.” She then added, “Nothing has changed has it?”
I believe this references my past behaviors and solidifies for her the reason we aren’t together. I don’t know for sure because I didn’t ask her. I kind of just froze up, stunned that after this time apart she still sees me that way. I didn’t defend myself. I don’t feel I have to. I simply excused myself and headed for the door.
I don’t argue with her anymore. I’m done with that.
My oldest who heard everything exclaimed, “You shamed him momma, why did you do that?” You know what, she was right, I was feeling shame. I was on the edge of one of those shame spirals and I needed space to breathe.
This woman has an uncanny ability to cut right down to the bone and expose my worst fears. She is a mirror that often reflects the things I don’t like about myself. She is good at it, no, great at it.
I also have a bunch of other mirrors around me that reflect a lot of the qualities I do like about myself. I feel encouraged by those mirrors. My ex-wife’s mirror though, hot damn, it still affects me though. It’s got me asking myself questions.
My question tonight is “Have I really changed?”
I want to start off my answer by being grateful for her and her challenges. It is through these challenges that I can grow.
Have I really changed?
The short quick answer is – yes, it sure feels like it to me.
I feel more aligned with who I am. I feel confident and focused. I feel like I am following a universal wisdom and a clear direction set before me. I feel that I accept the circumstances around me and respond to the best of my current abilities. I feel calm, empowered, alive, and in control of my destination. I take 100% responsibility for my life.
But…let’s dive into the “shame” part.
I did feel something though. As much as I like to think I changed, it did set me back on my heels when she stated she did not see anything different. That is something worth noting.
Maybe I am just making this into something bigger than it must be. Maybe I am using this as a good excuse to look closely at my overly booked schedule and order of priorities.
You know what, here is the rub. I don’t like this over-whelmed feeling of being “too busy”. I don’t like the familiarity of this situation I find myself in where I have too much to do, and too little time to do it.
Do I say “yes” too much? Maybe. I get caught up in the excitement of the next problem to solve or person to help. I feel immensely useful and on my mission when I sign myself up to contribute to something beautiful or meaningful. It gets my engine revved up.
However, it does leave some people in my wake feeling disappointed, forgotten about, and neglected. When I fail to deliver on my promises or make excuses for why something didn’t get done, it affects people negatively. That doesn’t sit well with me.
What is the answer here? (really, anybody who has any ideas to try please email me. I’m all ears 😊)
Is it more “No’s?” Do I simply cut out things from my life that don’t fit perfectly? These are things that I enjoy doing though.
I don’t haver the answer tonight…and I don’t feel I have to have it yet. This letter is going to end here being an example of how I process and ask myself questions to gain clarity around my direction in life.
I will follow this email up with how these questions affected my day tomorrow.
Thoughts From The Woodshop
Tomorrow, I will be working on projects and pondering. Using my hands and doing physical work while thinking always seems to bring about answers for me. It is in the quiet, focused attention that I begin to hear the quiet voice that guides me. Much like meditation, woodworking brings me closer to the universal creative force behind life.
Where to go from here?
I see you man. I see that you are ready to engage, you are ready to create something new. I see that you are ready to pick up the tools we have available and get back to building something in your life that is beautiful, impactful, and meaningful. I look forward to seeing it.
It all starts with a question – what do you want to build?
Most of us men spend a lot of time in our heads. We have conversations with ourselves but never show that thinking and feeling side to anyone else. The question and answer example above is exactly like the wise conversations we have every day ALL day in the Mentoring Men Community. This is the smartest, strongest, most caring and courageous group of men I’ve ever known.
We meet weekly for group coaching calls and have deep conversations with men around the world 24/7. This online men’s group is like none other out there. This is what we hear.
“Thank you, Thank You, Thank You for reminding me of who I really am and helping me kill that annoying hummingbird. My wife has seen an immediate change in my attitude and outlook while she has struggled to make progress of her own. She has even made the statement that “I want to be where you are and want to find something that I can connect with and that will make me a better person.”
Join us and start changing your life faster than you ever thought possible.