#Throwback Thursday:You Don’t Know My Life! (And Other Things About Being Judgmental)

Originally published 10/13/2013

A few days ago, Hannah and I were watching Glee. It was the episode where they killed off Finn and paid tribute to Cory Monteith, the actor who played him. Hannah is a big fan of the show and was aware that he had died from a drug overdose over the summer. She told me how a few people had commented that he was a drug addict and it’s his own fault. She felt bad that they were saying that and told me that it wasn’t his fault he was addicted to drugs. This was a great opportunity for a conversation.

I told her that people make their own choices and it certainly was his choice to take drugs. However, sometimes as human beings, we should take a look at the root cause of behavior. Usually people take drugs to escape some kind of pain. I have compassion for people who feel the need to turn to drugs to numb whatever feelings they can’t seem to face.

I also notice people, in general, seem to have a really low tolerance for people with drug problems. They get super judgy, super fast. Yet drugs are not the only way people numb their pain. Many times, the people who feel they are better than drug addicts are the same people who escape life’s darkness and discomforts in “acceptable” ways. Maybe they gamble, shop, eat, work too much, drink too much, watch too much television or stay on the internet all the time. Some of these things have obvious consequences, some less obvious. But the motivation is always the same. Escape.

I’m not suggesting they should not be held accountable for their actions or that we should take responsibility for them. Maybe we could judge a little less and empathize a little more. “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

#ThrowbackThursday: My Daughter Doesn’t Take Piano Lessons (And Other Things I’m Failing At)

Originally published 6/21/2013

“Mommy can I take piano lessons?”

I consider this request. I would like her to take piano lessons, but we have no piano. It seems unreasonable that I should go buy one. She suggests a keyboard. Even still. We’ve done dance, gymnastics, acting lessons, soccer and girl scouts. We participate in swimming and drama. Can’t I just let myself off the hook, piano-wise?

The other day, I was folding laundry when a commercial for paper towels came on. The mother just smiles as her daughter “helps” her by sloshing a ridiculously full bowl of soup across the kitchen to the dining room table. Mommy, head in the clouds, smiles as she notes that her daughter likes to help. Mommy is unfazed as she reaches for a paper towel.

I instantly hate the overly patient Bounty mommy, certain that there are real Bounty mommies everywhere and I am definitely not one. I would have shut down the whole soup carrying thing before she even took a step. I bet Bounty mommy even cooked the soup with her daughter. Meh.

I feel like the Queen of Hurry Up, You Have To and How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You. It’s a kingdom where my minions are Disappointment, Guilt, Remorse and Regret. I know I am not alone in this kingdom. It just feels like it.

I yell sometimes. My headaches rob me of a lot of patience. Sometimes, I don’t feel like listening to her stories. I cook a real dinner 2-3 times a week. I am on my phone too much. I should make her put her iPad away more. No, your bathing suit isn’t clean for camp. We should be taking walks. I need to sign us up for some yoga classes. Yes yes, that would be fun and not at all challenging to fit into our packed schedule. Why aren’t we eating nice summer dinners on the patio more. We watch too much TV. I don’t like getting up in the evening to tuck her in. That is lame.

The other day, out of the blue…….

Hannah: I’m proud of the life you made. Even though things didn’t go as you planned, you picked yourself up and built a nice life. You don’t live off of anyone. You did it yourself.

Me: If there was someone to live off of, I would.

Hannah: I’m trying to have a moment here.

And those are the moments when I know I’m doing more good than harm. I smile to myself.

I Think It’s Not Really About The Guns

“Guns don’t kill, people do.”

Okay, but that’s still a really big problem.

Each time an act of gun violence occurs, I feel like we try to treat the symptoms but not the disease. Gun violence is a symptom of a much larger problem. Gun control is a band-aid and not a cure.

Like when Hannah and I get home from a long day, it’s a million degrees out, I have a headache and I trip over her backpack and yell, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR BACKPACK HERE! I’VE TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES TO TAKE IT TO YOUR ROOM! YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!” Hannah stares at me for a moment and then says, “Ok this obviously isn’t about the backpack. What’s the real issue?”

It’s like that.

She could move her backpack, but that’s not really what has me pissed. And even if she hadn’t left her backpack there, I’d find another dumb reason to explode. So what really needs attention is the root of my anger, not the location of the backpack.

I’m not a gun person. Like most Americans, I support common sense gun legislation. Yes! Good. Do it. That’s an appropriate reaction. Lock all that shit down! Especially the ridiculous automatic weapons. That’s a no-brainer for anyone, you’d think.

But also…negative emotions stem from fear …and violence is a symptom of fear. Fear is the real disease and it’s spreading. It’s becoming accepted as part of our culture (I’m looking at you and your fence, Donald Trump). It’s a spiritual problem that needs our attention.

“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.” —Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

What do you think? I would love to hear. Please feel free to comment!

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Observations & Admiration On Memorial Day

I didn’t notice until I got older. All the blanks I could now fill in. About a quiet hero, my grandaddy.

Grandaddy didn’t give opinions unless he was asked. And if you were smart enough to ask, you could count on walking away with some new insight or life lesson.

He didn’t brag about his achievements though there were many. Instead, he set an example that you longed to follow.

He never complained, but worked very hard. He was strong and did what had to be done.

He offered generous help and support when you needed it, but would never mention to you how many times he had come to your rescue.

He had a sense of humor and a devilish grin. Always a new joke to tell.

I remember sitting in Grandaddy’s big Lincoln Town car which was the perfect car for him. Classy, handsome, dependable, smooth, unforgettable.

Grandaddy loved quietly, but kept the people and things that mattered close to his heart.

To All The Moms On Mother’s Day

To all the moms who:
listen to the stories
dry the tears
bake the cakes
agonize over decisions
drive the carpools
pull together the costumes
lose the sleep
fix the boo boos
brave the unpopularity
guide the projects
throw the parties
pass on the wisdom
cheer the victories
empathize with the losses
sit through the shows
clean up the messes
nurse the sickness
muster infinite energy
steer the ship with unrelenting determination
You’re amazing.
And to all the mothers who have passed on, we thank you and love you for showing us how to do all of these things. ❤️

She’s in the Arena aka “Daring Greatly”

“I decided this is going to be the year of risk,” Hannah told me as she briefed me on her first day of school. “I’m not going to be afraid to talk to people or answer questions in class or try out for things,” she continued.

I smiled to myself. “You’re going to do like Brené says and dare greatly!” I cheered.

“Yeah!” she confirmed.

Man, I am so lucky I got a kid who is open to all the Growing Towards the Sun talk. A kid who really takes our conversations and runs with them. I often think about how I could have gotten a kid who kinda glazed over when I spoke about intention …or who complained about having to go to Oprah’s Best Life Weekend …or who just got sick of me talking about being vulnerable and daring greatly. But I didn’t! I got Hannah.

Over the next several days, she would tell me about what “risky” thing she did that day. One day it was reading a passage in class when the teacher asked and no one else would raise their hand. Another time it was starting a conversation with a girl in her science class she’d never spoken to before.

Then it was time to try out for the Fall musical. Ugh. Am I allowed to say I hate auditions? Because I’m saying it. I hate auditions. They’re such a roller coaster. Hannah told me (SHE felt) hers didn’t go well and lamented the fact that she never gets the parts she wants and will probably never get the part she wants. <Insert quick pep talk here>. Then she told me about a girl a grade below her who was at auditions and sitting alone.

“She seemed sad so I went over and asked her how her audition went,” Hannah explained. “She said she didn’t think she did very well. I told her a lot of 6th graders don’t even try out and that, when I was in 6th grade, I was too scared to. I said she should feel proud of herself for that. That really seemed to lift her spirits!”

Wow. Proud. “Hannah even if you never, ever get on that stage again, it is these things that make me the most proud of you,” I told her. The next day I put this Theodore Roosevelt quote in her lunch box. She got a kick out of it. And now she knows she’s in the arena.


Everyone Flipped Over ‘Frozen’ But It Really Just Annoyed Me

The older I get, the more deeply I understand that communication is underrated. I just looooove talking to people about stuff. Most misunderstandings can be avoided if people would just speak up, clear up and man up.

I can’t stand speculation, wondering, fretting and fuming over an issue as I build a story about—or even a case against—the person or event currently festering in my never-turns-off mind.

I’ve been called a troublemaker or mean and who knows what else but, truthfully, I just try to be as genuine as possible in my day to day interactions. This means if I have a question, I ask it. If I don’t understand something, I get an explanation. If I feel misunderstood, I go to that person and clear the air. It seems so easy, I don’t get why more people don’t do it.

When Anna was breaking into her 14th year of the pitiful ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” performance, I was all caught up in why her parents couldn’t just get real up in that castle.

“Anna, the reason Elsa can’t come build a snowman is because she has freako hands and almost killed you once.”

Or Elsa could have taken the bull by the horns after her parents died and yelled at Anna through the door, “I can’t come build a snowman because I have this really weird affliction where everything I touch turns to ice. If I were to build a snowman with you, YOU’D be the snowman. Capish? Also, don’t tell anyone.”

It’s kind of funny that I work in a corporation where I must function amidst endless red tape, mountains of forms and layers of people who are assigned to each and every task. My coworker and I were working on a powerpoint presentation together and were receiving art direction through a layer of people.

<groan> I haaaaate that.

Some of this direction was clearly not going to work and so we began to stew. “Why does he want the graphic that way? It’s going to look so cheesy.”  “Why does he want a map of England there? That makes no sense”.

Then I remembered, ohhhhh yeaaaaah! We have a mouth that allows us to communicate directly with people. And a phone on which to call anyone we wish. So we called our creative director.

My coworker was reluctant, but went along. Afterwards, we managed to get the creative director to see our way. My coworker even told me she felt so much better after that call. And it only took 5 minutes to totally change our perception of the project.

Another time, a coworker told me that another coworker was asking, in front of my boss, if I had a problem with them. I didn’t. So I lined up a meeting with that coworker, my boss and me. In 5 minutes we all understood that there was no problem and we were free to go on with our lives. Not having any problems with eachother.

I will never be accused of being a woman of few words, but I wouldn’t (and quite possibly couldn’t) have it any other way.