The holidays are full of uncomfortable situations.

Take family gatherings.  Please.  (Cue rim shot.)

If you choose to see your loved ones even though it puts you face to face with family members you’d rather not see, try Martha Beck’s Dysfunctional Family Bingo.

Here’s how it works:
You make a bingo card much like traditional ones.  But instead of letters and numbers, you use situations.

Situations you would rather avoid.

Mom criticizes my hair
Uncle Jim touches me inappropriately
Angie’s family ignores me
Suzie brags about her house in Boca
Dad gets drunk and picks a fight
Ann is passive aggressive
Everyone gets a present except me

You get the idea.

You check each one off until you complete an entire row or column.


Once you choose to be in a situation that makes you cringe, why not make it less painful?
Change your thoughts from painful to gleeful.

It’s a major reframe.

You may actually be rooting for Grandpa to suck his teeth after dinner if it means you win.

A friend and I have been talking about feeling broken recently.

You see, I think being broken is a good thing, she thinks it’s a bad thing.

I think the difference is that she has people using those words as a weapon.

“You are a broken person.”

Yeah, that would hurt.

But here’s how I see it.

You might feel broken, but you’re never actually broken.

You are broken open.

It’s like my son working out for football.

He bench presses more than his weight.

That tears (or breaks) the fibers in his muscles and makes them stronger.

It takes the breaking to create the growth.
You can visually understand breaking and beauty with the Japanese form of art called Kintsugi.

They take a pot that has broken, and instead of gluing it together and trying to disguise the break and make it look new again, they look at the break as a part of the pot’s history, and repair it with gold. Their old pottery is laced with beauty.

Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Sometimes when you are in pain, it takes being broken open to let in the cleansing light.

Shame is a feeling that is only dissolved by breaking open and letting the words out.

Shame is like a vampire. It thrives in the dark, but dies in the light of day.


If someone calls you broken, that’s on them, not you.

They are trying to hurl their crappiness on you in a way that makes them feel better.
You may hear it as broken and can’t be fixed.

I prefer to think of you as broken open, getting stronger and more golden every day.


I need to talk to you.

You’re the one who’s a little worried about next year.

The going-to-college year.


The unknown.


You are taking the leap that it’s going to be good, maybe even great.

You are going because that’s the thing that comes next.


But when things are quiet.

During the pauses.

The enormity looms large.


And I am here to tell you that it is going to be all right.

It’s going to be okay.

Because coming of age at 18 is when everyone is thrown in the deep water.


Because this is the time you get to challenge yourself.

Not with academics, but with your adapting skills.


Skills like boundary setting and changing your thoughts and listening to your internal guidance system.


It might seem like they aren’t very important.
The skills, that is.

It might seem like there aren’t any skills to adapting, change is just something that happens to you.

But that’s our bad.

We all focus so much on academics, I can see how you would get that idea.


Adapting skills are some of the most important skills in life.

At any age.

Because it’s not just college.

Things keep changing your whole life.


Adapting is a lot like surfing.

You live in constant creative response to what is right in front of you.

Right this minute.


And like surfing, you don’t stand up on the board and do it perfectly the first time.
You expect to suck at first.
But with practice you learn.

And that’s how adapting skills are too.

You suck at first.

You stumble.

You botch a few.

And then you get smoother.

And eventually you incorporate them and they aren’t skills. It’s just one more thing you do well.


All this icky feeling?

It’s just how it feels to grow.

And you can even learn to look forward to this feeling, because once there, you will see that on the far side of this feeling the far side is oh so sweet.