The Time I Thought They Forgot My Birthday

The Universe schooled me this week.

I thought my coworkers were going to forget my birthday. You know, kinda like what happened to Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles. Except I am a GROWN WOMAN and felt really dumb worrying about people forgetting my 43RD BIRTHDAY. And yet, I worried.

“Maybe you should drop a hint?” my sister half-joked.

“I can’t do that! I’ll look crazy!” I answered.

So the anxiety stayed in the back of my mind for the next few days. I wondered why I cared so much. I don’t really like being the center of attention, so why did it matter if they remembered or not. It matters because them remembering makes you feel like YOU matter, I thought to myself. Oh right. That makes sense. Conversely, if people forget, it means you don’t matter. Nobody wants to not matter. Duh.

Anyway, these girls remembered like a boss. They remembered so hard. Balloons, decorations, cupcakes, flowers, a card, lunch and treats. They even sung the birthday song. They outdid all previous coworker birthday celebrations. How could I ever have doubted them? That was silly.

Universe: When will you learn? I got this.

 

The Business Plan That Had Nothing To Do With Me

An ex-boy-now-a-friend of mine was in town for a visit a couple of months ago and wanted to get together. Last time we saw each other, we were 20 years old and making lots of terrible decisions. As dramaticically driven twenty-somethings do. He ended up moving away for a job, we broke up and eventually lost touch.

During our visit we had a drink, caught up on life and talked about the future. He mentioned that he planned to move home again (my city) and wanted my help re-starting his business. We could be partners. I asked if his live in girlfriend knew about his plans and he said that she did, but that she would never move. It became obvious that they were on the rocks. Like, big rocks.

I figured the move-back-and-start-a-business plan was all just talk. Something we all do when we are looking for an exit from current life circumstances. Even so, we continued to discuss it after he left town. I kept checking on his commitment.

I’m sure you’ll change your mind, I texted.

Not changing my mind!, he texted back.

For weeks we talked logistics, timeframe and long term goals. As excitement grew, I began to think it could possibly work out. I allowed myself a measured amount of enthusiasm regarding the venture because I also knew that people rarely follow through with grand plans. This move-back-and-start-a-business thing was an obvious attempt to escape whatever shitstorm was happening back at his house. So I was playing it by ear.

Then everything went silent. He quit answering my texts.

“I’m not surprised,” my sister said. “People are shitty.”

“I’m not surprised he changed his mind, but I always expected him to tell me when he had,” I replied. “Not just play dead!”

(His sister has confirmed he’s not dead, by the way.)

For whatever reason, he’s not interested in dealing with the situation.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

People do weird things like this all the time. When I was younger, it used to upset me. I would get really wrapped up in figuring out the ‘why’ of it all. I’d take the disappointment personally. But now… now I just feel like people are complicated.

It’s not a personal thing. We all have our reasons. Our fears. Our insecurities. Our baggage. Our enigmatic actions are shaped by our own experiences and usually they have little to do with the people who are left wondering about them.

In The History Of Politics, Has Anyone Everrrrr Changed Their Mind?

I’m terrible at discussing politics. I get flustered and can never remember statistics or acronyms or what happened when. The opposition will pull elusive facts (?) I have never heard of out of a hat and me with no chance to google them. Under pressure, everything I know goes out the window and muttering, “I just feel like I’m right and you’re wrong” doesn’t really cut it.

So I avoid it.

But sometimes I will make an exception and talk to my dad about politics because a) I really want to know what he and his side are thinking and b) I know he won’t attack me. Unlike some people I know who feel that loud + rudeness = correct.

The other night we went a few rounds about Trump. Finally I had to just stop and say, “You think you’re right. I think I’m right. Everyone thinks they’re right. And everyone just wants the best outcome. Doesn’t mean anyone is evil.” Ok some are evil. But most are not. The opposition is made up of our friends, our family, our spouses and our co-workers. People we like and respect in our day-to-day.

As he was leaving, he said, “I respect your opinion. But you’ll see as you get get older. Most democrats are young.”

(In case you missed that, he’s saying democrats are naive, emotional, idealist do-gooders.)

I smiled. Challenge accepted.

Have you ever tried to change someone’s mind? If you have succeeded, I definitely want to know in the comments!

photo credit: no need to argue via photopin (license)

You Take The Good, You Take The Bad, You Take Them Both & There You Have…The Facts Of Life

As I get older, I am more able to appreciate people’s strengths and be more forgiving of their weaknesses (as perceived by me, obviously). The black and white perspective of my youth has shades of gray and the judgement that comes with being newer to the world has faded. Life is full of nuances and a feast of all different people. Not everybody can be every thing.

My dad isn’t super plugged into my life, but anytime I need help he is there. He is patient, helpful and scary smart. I choose to appreciate those things about him now instead of harping on the things he lacks. He is there when I need help and can figure out ANYTHING.

When my mom died, I unrealistically wanted my sister to take her place. But she couldn’t because she’s not my mom. Instead I grew to appreciate her thoughtfulness, generosity and pragmatism. She is there in a bunch of other ways when it counts.

We have a friend of the family who is a terrible communicator and can be very difficult to deal with. But he is also generous, assisted us in caring for my mom when she was ill and is always willing to jump in and help.

Expecting people to be exactly what you want them to be seems immature to me now. I think lovingly accepting peoples’ limitations helps us accept our own, too. What do you think?

#Throwback Thursday: Where Perfectionism Exists, Shame is Always Lurking

Originally published 5/19/14

My good friend and I were taking our lunchtime stroll when I mentioned how my recent 3 week cough had gotten me to the point where if I coughed too long and hard—I peed a little. What’s that about, I pondered, since I had a C-section birth. Is it just typical aging? I’m only 40!

“They say we are supposed to be doing those kegel things,” my friend noted.

“Yeah, in the car at red lights or whatever,” I said, “I never remember to do those things.” Why can’t I remember to do things, I thought silently.

My friend sighed and unknowingly answered, “There are just too many things to do!”

I agree. There are too many things to do. And it’s pretty overwhelming when you insist on trying to do all of them. I’m in awe that we even try.

Recycle or prepare to see your face on the wall of awful citizens.
Don’t use too much electricity and get those green lightbulbs, too.
Don’t eat too much sugar. Or carbs. Or meat. Or dairy. Or fat.
Eggs will ruin your life. Oh nevermind, eggs are awesome.
Drink tea but not coffee..oh wait coffee adds years to your life..who knew.
Walk 5 minutes every hour or come to terms with an early death.
Use sunscreen and make sure it has SUV protection..oh I mean UVA.
Get teacher gifts but no more apple items for pete’s sake.
Moisturize. Exfoliate. Condition. Floss.
Use glass, not plastic everyone knows plastic contains BPA.
Eat organic. You know, if you want to live and all.
Keep your photos archived, backed up and printed if you want to be a good mom.
Get your oil changed every 3000 miles ok how about every 5000.
Do your breast exams or it will be your fault when you get cancer.
Change your air filter do you want your kid to get asthma?
Clip the cat’s nails or you’re going to suffer the consequences.
Lift weights because you know you lose muscle mass every year after 40.
Read or stay completely ignorant.
Don’t watch too much TV because then you’re just wasting your life.
Keep up your gratitude journal because people who journal have happier lives.
Back up your files and if you don’t, your hard drive will definitely go bad.
Update your iOS if you want to be in the know.
Rotate your tires or you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for that blowout.
Cut the grass or the neighbors will think you’re bad lazy people.
Take these vitamins but not these or these, but yes these, no not those, these.
Register for PTA but only if you’re a good parent.
Remember birthdays or just be a thoughtless sucky person.
Meditate or just have that heart attack instead.
Drink 8 glasses of water and no diet soda doesn’t count.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

“You don’t have to do all of those things.” —People who live what must be a wonderful and peaceful existence.

Yeah. But.

Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.” —Brené Brown

Nailed it! That’s exactly how I operate.

I have often been criticized for being bossy, uptight and wanting things “just so”. Part of that I attribute to a bit of a roller coaster home life. I had no control then so, in order for me to feel ok as an adult, I need to have as much control as possible now.

But the other part, I had not considered. The not wanting to be judged. Not wanting anyone to tell me I messed up. Not wanting to look like I don’t have a handle on things. Because if I have a handle on things, then that means I am worthy and I am good enough for people to want me around. I am worth spending of their time and energy.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.

How many of us think:
If I don’t lose this last 20lbs, I am clearly not datable. If I don’t get these photo albums made, I won’t have any proof that I love my child. If I don’t remember a to ask my friend about their surgery, I am a self involved loser. If I forget to get back to a colleague, clearly I am incapable of handling my job. If I have a car wreck, it must mean I am a half wit. If I don’t play that game with my child, I am a terrible parent.

Brené talks about the usual “I am enough” type things, but what she says about permission slips caught my attention. She said a lot times, in order to stop beating herself up about things, she has to write permission slips for herself. I give myself permission to _______________.

I give myself permission to:
Be lazy.
Cry.
Take a break.
Let things go.
Be too tired to finish.
Not read a book.
Watch trash TV.
Slip up and yell.
Forget things.
Not be in the mood to deal with certain things all the time.
Let go of guilt.
Be ok with knowing I did my best.
Just get by sometimes.
Be silly.
Not sweat the small stuff.
Complain.

We are supposed to live in the moment. But plan for our future. And also learn from our past. Let’s give ourselves permission to do all or none of these things any time we damn well please.

Being Cool is the Fonz’s Job

“Thanks for letting me have friends over. I always feel happy after spending time with them,” Hannah said as we drove away from her friends’ house. We had just wrapped up a sleepover with Hannah’s silly twin sister friends, Trista and Jenna*.

“I’m glad you had fun,” I said.

“Kids at school are always trying to act older than they are. They’re afraid of not looking cool,” she told me. “But with Trista and Jenna, we don’t care if we look silly, we just have fun and act our age without worrying what we look like. I just want to be a kid while I’m a kid.”

Impressive observations for a 13-year-old.

I told her that it was good that she realized that and was making a conscious decision to let herself be vulnerable. “Lots of people have fear of being judged so they spend a lot of time editing themselves. Brené Brown calls ‘cool’ an emotional straightjacket. You care less what people think as you get older, but some adults still wear the straightjacket.“

“Yeah,” she agreed. “It’s a bummer.”

And it is a bummer. Because cool is overrated. And pretending to be someone else is exhausting. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

*Not their real names