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Hello everyone,

This Fall I will be providing an important new lecture to school parent groups called:

IT’S TIME TO TALK: Parenting in the age of technology

This will be a unique and interactive discussion with parents.  Parents will have the opportunity to learn about and discuss the following:

  • The connection between technology use and mental health
  • How much screen time is too much
  • The link between ADHD and Tech overload
  • Strategies to help your child lower his/her anxiety
  • How much sleep is acceptable for your over-scheduled child
  • Creating leaders not followers
  • Your role as a parent

………… And much more!!

 

I am getting more calls than ever from parents with children suffering from anxiety, depression and behavioral issues.  What parents don’t know is that the cause of these issues is  the countless hours (8 or more hours per day) that their kid’s spend plugged-into their smart phones, computers, video games and ipads.  Yes, their brains are being re-wired and the result is an inability to cope with “real-life” issues.  This lecture will cover all of this and will include lot’s of real cases I’ve dealt with.  Please spread the word.

Email me at tom@tomkersting.com and I will send you the flyer for this important lecture.

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Alone or Lonely: Which One Are You?

Lonely_or_AloneAll morning, I was looking forward to the pineapple fried rice. When my lunch buddy, Mike, told me that he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go to our favorite Friday Thai spot, I was a little disappointed. I don’t remember the last time we missed a Friday lunch at this place. So I had a decision to make. Should I go alone or should I do something else for lunch? The idea of a sit-down lunch by myself seemed a little strange, because it’s not something I normally do. As I thought about it a little harder, I said to myself, “why wouldn’t I go alone?” After all, I had been looking forward to the pineapple rice all morning, and I happen to enjoy my own company. Yes, I do like myself and could care less what other patrons might think of the poor guy (me) sitting alone with no friends. So I went.

As I sat at the table, I found myself quite tuned in to my thoughts. Although I missed Mike’s presence, I embraced the alone time. I very much enjoyed it.

It got me thinking about a topic that I discuss with many of my patients at my private counseling practice: the difference between aloneness and loneliness. The difference is quite extreme — here’s why. People who avoid idle, alone time fear being lonely. They don’t like the idea of having a front row seat to their thoughts. People who embrace alone time, on the other hand, enjoy the adventure and creativity that their thoughts can bring. It can be rather exciting for them, as it should be, because these are the people who literally attract the things they want into their lives.

Which type are you? Are you the type that looks at alone time from a perspective of loneliness or from a perspective of aloneness? If loneliness is your answer, here are some strategies that will help you to start embracing your time alone.  Doing so will help you to build a stronger relationship with yourself and will help you in the direction of your goals a lot faster.

  1. Have a meeting with yourself every day. That’s right. Make it a priority to have a 15-minute meeting with “you” every day. While you’re at it, really pay attention to your thoughts. What exactly are you thinking about? How are you feeling? Are your thoughts filled with worries or fears? Are your feelings down? If so, start replacing those thoughts with positive ones. Breathe in feelings that are abundant. The more you practice this, the quicker you will become it.
  2. Give thanks. During your alone time, steer your thinking. Start giving thanks for all of the wonderful things you have. Give thanks for your health, your family’s health, the home you live in, the car you drive, and the bed you sleep in. You get the picture. Creating a daily “attitude of gratitude” will literally have you loving yourself in no time.
  3. Meditate: Speaking of alone time! Meditation is the epitome of it. Have you ever closed your eyes for 15 minutes at a time in a quiet place for several consecutive days? Try it. Not only will you learn new things about yourself, but you’ll also discover who you actually are.
  4. Stretch: Take a few minutes to lightly stretch your body, and do it slowly. You can do this right from your desk. Not only does this help you to tune in to your physical body, it also help you tune in to your thoughts.  This is a great way of creating a balance of mind and body.
  5. Accept aloneness: The next time you have some serious downtime with basically nothing to do, don’t try to fill in the downtime with meaningless activities like Internet surfing or texting. Instead, embrace the boredom. Boredom time is probably the most mentally creative time there is. It is the Miracle-Gro of the mind.

As always, contact me if you have any questions about my blog or anything else. Let’s talk!

Post-Holiday Vacation Memories

While I enjoyed some moments lounging by the pool and sipping Pina Coladas last week in the Bahamas, that wasn’t the focus of my much needed vacation. The focus was the quality time I spent with mfat fish Atlantisy family. It was about enjoying one another’s company, and creating memories that we’d forever cherish. It was about the excitement in my children’s faces as we raced around Atlantis, plunging down the water slides.  That sense of pride in my
8-year-old daughter eyes, as she stood tall with her back against the measuring chart, proving to each water-slide attendant that yes—she was indeed 48 inches tall, thank you very much!!!

I decided to share a little about my recent vacation, because I’ve always felt that it is important for us parents to remember that when we are on vacation with our children, we need to be aware of their needs, not just ours. For example, there was a boy I met on one of the water-slide lines. He was around my son’s age (11), and by himself. He told me that he was there with his father, but that his dad was relaxing by the pool. I felt bad for the kid,
because his father obviously didn’t realize that being on that slide with his son was probably more important to his son than the slide itself.  The memories that you help your children create with you in them will last a lifetime. When they are older, your kids will remember how involved you were with them. Here are some of the memories that my family and I will be talking about for years to come.

  • The massive, ugly-looking fat fish in the underground aquarium maze that we laughed about the entire trip.
  • Seeing major league baseball great, Albert Pujols, at Carmine’s restaurant. The best part was that Pujols looked right at me and did a double take. My son then looked at me and said, “Dad, you know Albert Pujols?”
  • The waffle maker at our hotel during breakfast. My kids loved it. Now I’m going to have to buy one of these things.
  • Going down the “Leap of Faith” waterslide over and over again. My butt was killing me, and my kids found that to be quite humorous.
  • The unbelievable yachts in the Atlantis marina, especially the one with the basketball hoop. My son pointed that one out.
  • Teaching my daughter how to negotiate at the souvenir kiosk. She was able to get the Coca-Cola guitar for $20 instead of $25. And she felt quite proud of herself.
  • The bill at Bobby Flay’s restaurant – yikes!!!
  • My son and I flipping over in the river rapids.
  • My wife finally going down the “Leap of Faith” waterslide. My kids loved it.

As parents, it is absolutely OK to unwind and pamper ourselves while on vacation, but we also have to remember to attend to the needs of everyone, not just ourselves. Go to breakfast with your kids. Take them out to dinner with you. Go on the slides with them. Ride the waves with them. Take some risks with them. If the only memories my kids had of me on our vacations were of me sitting by a pool all day with a drink in my hand, I would feel like I failed them. Instead, I feel confident that when they are older, they will remember just how involved I was in their lives.

Blended Families on The Ricki Lake Show

 

 

 

 

 

Tune-in to the Ricki Lake Show next Friday, 12/21.  I will be on the show giving some advice to “blended families.”  Think of it as “modern” families.  I taped this segment back in August at the beautiful Culver studios in Culver City California.  I have to say, Ricki was very nice and so were all of the producers.  I wish nothing but the best for the future of the show.

http://therickilakeshow.com/episodes-clips/2012/12/Blended-Families

 

Married or not, you should read this

I came across the post below that someone sent to me and had to share.  This is a must read.  Read on and pass on to others.

 

MARRIAGE

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.

Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly.

She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.

She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane.

When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.

She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don’t tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outsidethe door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.

On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn’t tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me… she had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it’s time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy.

I drove to office…. jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.

Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.

At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed – dead.

My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push thru with the divorce.– At least, in the eyes of our son— I’m a loving husband…

The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage

Written by: Kimmies Floral

Unplugging My Family

Unplugging My Family – Day 17:              Tuesday, 11/27/12

Our cable and television finally came back on last week.  We decided not to cancel our subscription as it would have been a major headache to have everything set-up again when we were ready.  Instead we are sticking to our commitment, as best we can, to not watch television and not use the internet while we are home together.

Although my kids have not watched any mindless television or been on the internet, my wife and I haven’t been perfect.  My son and I watched some of the Rutgers game (not as “meaningful as I hoped”) this past weekend and both my wife and I have gone on the internet a couple of times.  Although we haven’t been perfect, things are still a lot better.  But I have to tell you; it has not been easy since our service was restored.  I almost wish I had stuck to my original plan of just cancelling the service and restoring it when I was ready.

The good news is that all of us continue to do meaningful, family oriented things together like sports, games and just plain old conversation.  By no means are we controlled by technology.

Why I’m doing this 30 day challenge

This  blog (scroll down further) is  about my 30-day personal challenge to go without television or internet from home and help out my fellow New Jerseyan’s who suffered devastating losses do to Hurricane Sandy.  Please spread the word about this as I will be raising money for those in need and also developing a stronger bond with my family.

I lucked out.  The hurricane just left me without power, internet or tv for a a little more than a week.  I’ve decided to cancel my service for another 30 days.  The money I would have spend (about $130) will go to The Red Cross.  Here’s why I’m doing this

Most folks I know complained about how horrible it was living without power  for several or more days.  Call me crazy but I found it to be one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My family and I became closer, I felt completely cleansed and de-stressed from not being able to check emails and stuff, and I got more sleep than I’ve ever gotten.  My hope is that I can inspire other families to “Unplug” for 30 days and discover the most important thing in the world—each other.   I ask that you too take my 30-day challenge.  If you decide to do it, feel free to reply to my daily posts and write about your own experiences.   And as I mentioned, I’m going to donate the monthly cost of my television and internet subscription to the Red Cross to help families who suffered tragic losses from the hurricane.  Feel free to do the same should you commit to my challenge.

Unplugging My Family: Our 30-day-commitment without tv or internet – Day 5

Unplugging My Family

This daily blog (scroll down further) is  about my 30-day personal challenge to go without television or internet from home and help out my fellow New Jerseyan’s who suffered devastating losses do to Hurricane Sandy.  Please spread the word about this as I will be raising money for those in need and also developing a stronger bond with my family.

I lucked out.  The hurricane just left me without power, internet or tv for a a little more than a week.  I’ve decided to cancel my service for another 30 days.  The money I would have spend (about $130) will go to The Red Cross.  Here’s why I’m doing this

Most folks I know complained about how horrible it was living without power  for several or more days.  Call me crazy but I found it to be one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My family and I became closer, I felt completely cleansed and de-stressed from not being able to check emails and stuff, and I got more sleep than I’ve ever gotten.  My hope is that I can inspire other families to “Unplug” for 30 days and discover the most important thing in the world—each other.   I ask that you too take my 30-day challenge.  If you decide to do it, feel free to reply to my daily posts and write about your own experiences.   And as I mentioned, I’m going to donate the monthly cost of my television and internet subscription to the Red Cross to help families who suffered tragic losses from the hurricane.  Feel free to do the same should you commit to my challenge.

 

Unplugging My Family – Day 5:              Thursday, 11/15/12

Not much to talk about today.  I got home from the office at 6:40 and prepared dinner as I waited for Krista and the kids to return from an event.  They got home at 7:20, dinner was ready to go and we all sat down  to eat.  Obviously no television, and you know what – no problemo.

Ashlyn was extremely tired and a little uncharacteristically grouchy, so we put the kids to bed a little earlier than usual, around 8:15.  I laid in Matthew’s bed with him for a good 20 minutes and we had some quality talking time.  Ashlyn was out like a light as soon as her head hit the pillow.  Matthew and I talked about school, sports, God, a little bit of everything.  I find this to be so valuable for kids—just talking with them freely without any distractions.  I encourage you to do the same.

After I gave Matthew his final kiss good night, Krista and I laid in bed and talked for a while.  We had a pretty good argument on Sunday and we never got a chance to hear each other out and clear the air.  Well, we did and I feel better about it.  I then went downstairs for my usual 15 minutes of meditation.

Have a good night!!!

Unplugging My Family: Our 30-day-commitment without tv or internet – Day 3

Unplugging My Family

This is my third post (see a few paragraphs down)  about my 30-day personal challenge to go without television or internet from home and help out my fellow New Jerseyan’s who suffered devastating losses do to Hurricane Sandy.  Please spread the word about this as I will be raising money for those in need and also developing a stronger bond with my family.

I lucked out.  The hurricane just left me without power, internet or tv for a a little more than a week.  I’ve decided to cancel my service for another 30 days.  The money I would have spend (about $130) will go to The Red Cross.  Here’s why I’m doing this

Most folks I know complained about how horrible it was living without power  for several or more days.  Call me crazy but I found it to be one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My family and I became closer, I felt completely cleansed and de-stressed from not being able to check emails and stuff, and I got more sleep than I’ve ever gotten.  My hope is that I can inspire other families to “Unplug” for 30 days and discover the most important thing in the world—each other.   I ask that you too take my 30-day challenge.  If you decide to do it, feel free to reply to my daily posts and write about your own experiences.   And as I mentioned, I’m going to donate the monthly cost of my television and internet subscription to the Red Cross to help families who suffered tragic losses from the hurricane.  Feel free to do the same should you commit to my challenge.

 

Today I got home a little early from the office, 5:30 and had some quiet, alone time as my wife and kids returned from Ashlyn’s gymnastics at around 6:00.  I then prepared dinner and the four of us sat down together and enjoyed each other’s company.   We cleaned-up together etc. and not a word a word about tv was mentioned from either of my kids.  It’s as if they’ve forgotten about tv altogether, which is a good thing.

 

After dinner, I took my daughter upstairs for a bath while Matthew read downstairs on the couch.  Ashlyn and I ran around upstairs playing hide and go seek for about 15 minutes before her bath.  We had a ton of fun.

 

Unplugging My Family – Day 3            11/13/12

At around 8:00 we headed into Ashlyn’s room and my wife read 3 books to her while Matthew and I listened in the other bed (Ashlyn has two single beds in her room).  At 8:30 both kids were in bed and my wife and I spent some quality time alone talking about our vacation plans for next summer.  I headed downstairs a little later and did my meditation.  At 9:45 I was in bed for the night.  Day 3 = success

Unplugging My Family: Our 30-day-commitment without tv or internet – Day 2

Unplugging My Family

This is my second post about my 30-day personal challenge to go without television or internet from home and help out my fellow New Jerseyan’s who suffered devastating losses do to Hurricane Sandy.  Please spread the word about this as I will be raising money for those in need and also developing a stronger bond with my family.

I lucked out.  The hurricane just left me without power, internet or tv for a a little more than a week.  I’ve decided to cancel my service for another 30 days.  The money I would have spend (about $130) will go to The Red Cross.  Here’s why I’m doing this

Most folks I know complained about how horrible it was living without power  for several or more days.  Call me crazy but I found it to be one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My family and I became closer, I felt completely cleansed and de-stressed from not being able to check emails and stuff, and I got more sleep than I’ve ever gotten.  My hope is that I can inspire other families to “Unplug” for 30 days and discover the most important thing in the world—each other.   I ask that you too take my 30-day challenge.  If you decide to do it, feel free to reply to my daily posts and write about your own experiences.   And as I mentioned, I’m going to donate the monthly cost of my television and internet subscription to the Red Cross to help families who suffered tragic losses from the hurricane.  Feel free to do the same should you commit to my challenge.

 

Unplugging My Family – Day 2:              Monday, 11/12/12

Well, I got home a little later than expected today, 7:00 P.M.  I walked into the mudroom from the garage and as I strolled through the kitchen toward the family room I noticed my wife, son Matthew and daughter Ashlyn playing the board game Sorry.  Once again no Sponge Bob or anything else coming from the tv.  We soon sat down together for dinner and enjoyed a pleasant meal and conversation.  After dinner Matthew practiced his clarinet and played Ode To Joy perfectly.  I was impressed.  Then it was upstairs to get changed into my PJ’s.  Ashlyn and I layed-down on my bed for a little while  and talked about her day.  The kids then took baths and at around 8:30 it was time to tuck them in.  After they were in bed I meditated in the family room for about 15 minutes (yes, I do this regularly) and headed to bed.  My wife and I talked for a little while and by 9:30 we were both sound asleep.  I can’t believe how early I’ve been going to bed since my tv and internet went out.

Unplugging My Family: Our 30-day-commitment without tv or internet – Day 1

 

This will be the first post about my 30-day personal challenge to go without television or internet from home and help out my fellow New Jerseyan’s who suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Sandy.  My wife is on board with me.  I ask that you spread the word about this as I will be raising money for those in need and also developing a stronger bond with my family.

I lucked out.  The hurricane just left me without power for 10 days and 14 days later I still don’t have internet or television access.  Once my service is restored I’m going to call my carrier and cancel my subscription for 30 days.  The money I would have spend (about $130) will go to The Red Cross.  These first 14 days will not count towards my 30-day commitment to Unplug my family.  That challenge begins now but before I post about DAY ONE, which was yesterday, I’d like to explain why I’m doing this.

Most folks I know complained about how horrible it was living without power  for several or more days.  Call me crazy but I found it to be one of the greatest weeks of my life.  My family and I became closer, I felt completely cleansed and de-stressed from not being able to check emails and stuff, and I got more sleep than I’ve ever gotten.  My hope is that I can inspire other families to “Unplug” for 30 days and discover the most important thing in the world—each other.   I ask that you too take my 30-day challenge.  If you decide to do it, feel free to reply to my daily posts and write about your own experiences.   And as I mentioned, I’m going to donate the monthly cost of my television and internet subscription to the Red Cross to help families who suffered tragic losses from the hurricane.  Feel free to do the same should you commit to my challenge.

 

Unplugging My Family – DAY ONE:              Sunday, 11/11/12

Because I was in bed at 9:00 last night (that’s what happens when there’s no tv or internet) I woke-up at 6:20 A.M. before my wife and kids.  I brewed a delicious pot of coffee, opened up the blinds in my family room and settled myself down with a good book.  Occasionally I looked out the window and took-in the beauty of autumn.  By 7:15 the rest of the gang was up and we spent some time just hanging out.  No Sponge Bob, no Sportscenter, just us.  At 8:30 I brought my son to a local baseball field and we practiced for about an hour and a half to get him ready for travel tryouts next week.  At 11:30 and it was time for me to do the leaves, which took forever.  I really hate doing the leaves by the way.

It was a beautiful day for November (65  degrees) and my son and daughter were outside playing with some other kids in the neighborhood the entire time I was doing the leaves.  It was great!!  Later it was off to basketball for my son and then off to dinner at Blue Moon Mexican Restaurant.  We came home, did some reading and the kids were in bed by 8:30.  I fell asleep tucking-in my daughter.

All in all, it was a great day.  I missed all of the football games on Sunday, which sort of stinks……….. or maybe it doesn’t.   But, I got a lot of things done around the house, spent tons of time with my wife and kids and, my kids played outside—not inside—for hours.  Day 1 was a big success for the Kersting’s.

Great article in Psychology today from my friend Sean

It’s all about communication folks!!!

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/adventures-in-dating/201210/its-not-what-you-fight-about-its-how-you-fight