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Guest Blog: the Art of Dad-Fu

February 15, 2011

Recently I became a dad.  There are lots of things that come with being a dad both wonderful and challenging.  One thing that I didn’t expect was to put on weight.  During pregnancy when the mum-to-be is being flooded by hormones, progesterone which is associated with ‘nesting’ tendencies is one of these hormones.  Progesterone production also increases in men and this shift tends to bring with it a weight gain.  Once the baby is born it’s also common for a new dad to gain between half a stone and one stone just because you end up eating more and being less active.  So while I didn’t expect this change, it looks like I’m not alone.

Pre-baby I would have got back to training martial arts with my teacher, upped my solo training and not worried about it.  That’s what I planned, but finding an extra 15 or more hours each week doesn’t seem very realistic in the post-baby world.  That doesn’t mean I won’t do martial arts, but I will have to find my way back to it more slowly than I thought.  What do I do about getting more exercise right now?  It doesn’t work to take time out from work, or from supporting my wife and seeing my son – it’s a bit of a dilemma.  Well, it was… Until I invented Dad-Fu!

I love creating practices – taking regular activities and making them conscious processes to engage in.  I have a book on this subject: ‘A little book on finding your Way – Zen and the Art of Doing stuff’ and I’m working on another about fatherhood called The Art of Dad-Fu!  Dad-Fu is a practice that involves taking my son, Samson, out for a walk for an hour every day in the sling.  Doesn’t sound like such a big deal?  Let me explain…

It meets my need for getting some good basic exercise, Samson is happy wrapped up in his furry super-suit, and my wife gets an hour to herself to do with as she pleases!  It meets everyone’s needs and I get some more bonding time with Samson.  If he’s awake I talk or sing to him (I don’t look any more crazy than your average blue-tooth headset user!) and if he’s asleep then at least he’s still in my energy field.

This has taught me a valuable lesson about developing practices: as wonderful as some practices may be, sometimes what’s most important is that the practice fits your life not the other way around.  If your practice is not supportive of you taking this one precious life and making the best of it then what’s the point?  That’s not to dismiss taking special time out to meditate or do Karate or whatever floats your boat, that can be vital to living a fulfilled life too.  For me right now my highest priority is being the best dad I can, so I practice Dad-Fu.

Maybe you’re asking “Why Dad-Fu?”  Well partly because I think it sounds cooler than “The art of going for a walk in the cold with my son” but also I think there is a parallel between Kung-Fu and being a dad.  Kung-Fu can be translated from Chinese as ‘time and hard work.’  Whether you are practicing a martial art or being a father, it is going to be hard work sometimes. It also takes time to practice anything and while that means that the hard work is never finished, it also allows time and space to make mistakes, learn from them, and to heal from the disappointments.  Taking up any form of committed practice is both a burden and a gift – especially parenting.  This dichotomy is part of the beautiful mystery of life.

As with any new practice, Dad-Fu has had some unexpected delights.  I get an hour to ponder things as I walk which can feel like quite a treat!  I have also discovered hidden architectural delights.  It feels magical to be mostly on my own, Samson asleep on my chest and find a place, view, or moment which is thought-provoking or inspiring.

What about your own practices? What do you want to create in your life and do these practices help you do that?  There is an old saying:  “Necessity is the mother of Invention.”  I have certainly found that to be true in inventing Dad-Fu.  Perhaps you have necessities which are calling for your creativity…?

Whatever you practice, I hope it brings you joy in the easy times, strength in the tough times and growth all the time.

***

This is a guest blog by Francis Briers. A Little Book on Finding Your Way: Zen and the Art of Doing Stuff is self published by Francis under the Warriors of Love Publishing imprint and is available via his website: www.fudoshin.org.uk (although it should be on Amazon soon so if you are reading this post after March 2011 check out my Books I Recommend Page for a link to where you can buy it through Amazon.com)

If you would like to be a guest blogger here on finding my own Way send me a note via the Contact Me page and we will see what we can sort out.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Doc permalink
    February 16, 2011 2:14 am

    Older dad-fu observations… (my son turned 22 years old a few months ago)

    once eating solids, baby poop takes on a life of its own and smell

    some of the golden moments you have early on, storytelling, making up tales, etc., may not be remembered by your kiddo, that’s okay, be in the moment.

    set the tone for lessons learned…not failures, they can always be lessons learned.

    celebrate successes AND ‘failures’, the lessons learned. We actually do learn more from our challenges.

    milestones, love em, cherish em, savour them…

    whether it is the first time going to martial arts or…if he is his own man, maybe its wanting to play futbol, football, rugby, frisbee, who knows or maybe its the arts, still inhale those moments, absorb them as much as you can because they will be gone before you realize it.

    Give him the tools to learn and achieve and sit back and enjoy. (I ended up getting a coach’s license for futbol and coached recreation and then competitive for 12+ years.) The high school years of futbol were golden and I still miss them, almost every day. My son’s college futbol is over and now I miss that. Riding bikes with my son in the neighborhood is over and I miss that… I may start sounding like Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner at the end…

    Guess I am saying be totally in those moments with your son, the times fly by before you know it, they are gone.

    And, when you find yourself saying “have to”…I have to take my son to ….” change that attitude to “get to” because before you know it, he will be out on his own and there will be no more have to’s or get to’s.

    • February 17, 2011 9:47 am

      Thanks Doc. I think your final comment sums it all up nicely. It is something I have tried to remember each day since I read “Tuesday’s with Morrie”. Today might just be our last day with the people we care about. Every moment is a “get to” moment.

  2. February 16, 2011 8:04 am

    Hello Francis – lovely story. Makes me think of the importance of instilling meaning in all the things we do; walking your son has become much than that for you. I try to approach household chores the same way – which is not always easy! I guess I am thinking of the saying that goes something like ‘Before enlightenment, there is drawing water and chopping wood. After enlightenment, there is drawing water and chopping wood.’ Everything has meaning if we bring that too it. Enjoy your son!

    • February 17, 2011 9:49 am

      Don’t forget baking chocolate cake Pam! That has more meaning when it is done with love.

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