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“F*cking Orange”: Confessions From a Quarantined Dad

Funny stupefied dad and two adorable daughters show dirty palms with paints, stare at camera together, wear festive carnival costumes, celebrate Children Day, isolated over purple background

“F*cking orange!” These were the words our 3 year old daughter exclaimed at the dinner table recently. My wife and I looked at each other stunned while also holding back laughter. “F*cking orange!”, she said again while holding the orange in her hand. This time we directed our attention to her and firmly said, “We don’t say that word.”

 

Where Did She Hear That?
This was my first thought. Then I felt a deep pit in my stomach as I realized that her mother and I have both had our fair share of emotional outbursts during this season of quarantine. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t using fruit as weapons during our disagreements, but we may have exchanged a word or two that we later regretted saying. I share this with humility yet I know many of you can relate. It’s amazing what stress does to our mind & body.

 

You Are What You Eat
As I shared recently, The Broccoli Test is a great way for us to think twice about the calories we consume online and in our kitchens. The problem is, during the COVID pandemic, there are so many stories, headlines, and nuggets of content filling our pantries and being swallowed up by our minds.

This leads many of us to eat a steady diet of 6 oz of fear with 2 sides of stress for 3+ meals a day. These feelings spike our emotional insulin leaving us cranky, tired and sometimes cursing in front of loved ones! I’m not blaming my word choice on the media, but I am aware that what I consume online directly impacts my thoughts.

 

Food For Thought
Below is the cover of the USA today from January 4th, 2006 (before there was fake news). Forty-one hours after an explosion trapped 13 men in a West Virginia coal mine, family members and a state official said 12 of the miners had been found alive. The papers were quick to distribute this miracle story.

 

Look at the reaction of the faces in this picture — they are full of cheer, relief and match the headline so perfectly. However, just 12 hours after this article was printed, the exact opposite headline unfolded as the truth came out that 12 miners had died and only 1 survived. The paper had the story wrong.

 

Does Your Cover Story Match The Truth?
Lately my cover story and the things I share online do not match the true story that I’m feeling. For example, I posted this online yesterday after ‘homeschooling’ my kids while being in the worst mood I’ve been in all month.

 

The stress and mental strain of being home with 2 toddlers, 2 parents who are self-employed, and too much time consuming empty digital calories on social media have impacted my words and the way I’m feeling in ways that I’m not proud of. Fortunately, as my mentor tells me….

 

Be Slow to Speak and Quick to H.A.L.T
The acronym HALT stands for Hurt. Angry. Lonely. & Tired. This is a great tool to determine the words you are going to use before expressing them. It’s a reminder that before you react to someone, you should first HALT and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this person Hurt?
  • Are they feeling Angry?
  • Are they Lonely?
  • Are they Tired?

 

If the answer is yes to one or more of these, you may want to step back and take a lap around the house or go hide out in your bedroom for a minute. Keep in mind, you can also apply these questions to yourself before reacting in a way that you’d later regret (i.e. Am I hurt? Am I angry?, etc.).

I don’t always practice this when I’m upset, but the times I get a flash of HALT across my mind, it tends to slow me down. I find this particularly helpful during this unprecedented season we are in.

 

Before I Go…
We all have a desired cover story we are trying to maintain that most likely doesn’t match the new reality we are living in. This is very stressful.

 

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with emotion and ready to say something that you may regret, take a deep breath and ask yourself the HALT questions. Become aware of what you are feeling and take a mental or physical lap before you express your emotionally charged words.

 

Of course, if this doesn’t seem to do the trick, you can always just close your eyes and picture a nice round f*cking orange.

 

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About Mark Ostach

A wellspring of energy and born empath, Mark Ostach holds degrees in business, psychology and technology. A recipient of Crain’s Detroit Business 20 in Their 20s and Oakland County’s 40 Under 40 awards, he’s an experienced leader who’s helped create strong cultures at several prominent businesses in Metro Detroit. In his free time, Mark likes to write music, spend time in nature, and enjoy life with his wife and their two children. He is determined to remind the world that human connection is the most powerful connection we have. For more on Mark, visit www.markostach.com

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