triumphant woman boxer, maggie mcreynolds blog

How to Win a Fight without Throwing a Single Punch

Anybody, kid or parent, knows there are all sorts of rules—good ones—to protect kids from cars on school grounds. Rules about where you can pick up and drop off. Rules about where to park. And, above all, an iron-clad rule that you stop if you see someone of any age entering the crosswalk from the parking lot to the school’s door.

On this particular morning, school had already started, and I was arriving late to drop off the lunch bag my son had forgotten at home. As I approached the crosswalk, I saw a woman hesitating at the school side of it. I slowed, and prepared to stop. But instead of stepping into the crosswalk, she made a spasmodic gesture with her hands that confused me. I interpreted the gesture to mean, “No, go ahead, I’m just standing here, waiting for someone,” and so I slowly proceeded.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when she hollered like a banshee, leapt into the crosswalk into the wake of my passing car, and kicked my bumper as hard as she could. Guess that wasn’t what her hand signals had meant, after all.

By the time I’d parked my car, prepared to approach her, explain, and apologize, she was standing outside hers, halfway across the lot, and screaming at me.

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Boarding Pass Privileges

Of all the things that can keep me up at night, one of the most pernicious is reliving and stewing over something hurtful someone said to me.

smiling receptionist, boarding pass, maggie mcreynolds blog

Smiling Receptionist: Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

“I should have said this,” I mutter, punching my pillow into what I hope will be a more sleep-inducing shape. “I should have said that,” I growl, trying one leg outside the blanket to see if that will cool me down without giving me shivers. “I should have…done something!”, I sputter as I thrash around and succeed only in knocking over the glass of water on my nightstand.

And I am right: I should have done something. And that “something” I should have done is not let someone else’s judgment of me, my life, my kid, my business, or even my dog on board, if it didn’t resonate with me or feel true to me. What’s keeping me awake and seething isn’t the original comment itself so much as the fact that I opened my door and let it in.

Building these kinds of boundaries—what you will allow on board, into your core, and what you will not—is challenging work, and most of us never get taught to do so, or even told that we should.

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Fear: Friend or Foe?

fearful man, maggie mcreynolds blog, Signature:1aa0edd3f00ecb0adc8aa215f572f8061f81f2bd7ee14d34f53c48d50acdcb69My son tells me he is afraid. “There are so many things to be scared of,” he says. “I don’t understand the point of fear. Is it to keep you from doing stuff?”

Well, yes. And no. frightened guy

Life without fear would be dangerous indeed, because fear can provide useful information that might help keep you alive. Consider sufferers of congenital analgia, a rare and total insensitivity to pain. People with this disease often don’t live past age 25, because as children, it’s extraordinarily difficult for them to learn to avoid danger when they simply can’t feel the consequences.

While the rest of us are learning—often the hard way—that fire burns, that knives cut, that heavy objects break bones—those with congenital analgia get no such feedback from their brains. They can get third-degree burns from a scalding bath or cut off a finger without feeling a thing.

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