Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I wish the world was what I thought before I knew what I still don't understand now

I am priviliged. I didn’t know that when I was growing up. I thought the kids who were buying their clothes from The Gap were priviliged; not me with my Goodwill finds and Kmart specials. But I was priviliged even then.

As a child I understood racism to be a thing of the past. How perfectly normal that I had friends of all different ethnicities, that we all went to school together. Skin color was simply a descriptive feature: black, white, Korean… like hair color--black, brown, or blonde. I didn’t understand the stories of slavery in history class or why segregation had existed in my parents’ time. It was an absurdity. Practically a folk tale. How could that have been real, I wondered. I’m glad people figured it out, I thought.

But more and more I realize it isn’t all figured out. There is so much hurt and anger that I don’t realize from where I stand. The news stories that keep popping up around the country confuse me. There really isn’t another way to say it. I’m confused. I’m confused that people are trying to make their point with violence. But I am also learning how many other people are trying to make the same point peacefully. That media highlights the disastrous results of the few and not the quieter resolve of the others.

At least this is the point I see people making in my very limited way of viewing media--mainly from stories shared via Facebook of people I know and respect. I haven’t watched the news. I never watch the news. I never follow news stories online. I see my friends posting updates about their sadness over Baltimore, a city we grew up next to, so I seek out what is happening in Baltimore. But I don’t follow the story. After seeing a headline about riots, I mutter about the craziness and move on with my day.

Then I follow it only through what people share on Facebook and I see stories and photographs of people standing in peace. I see citizens trying to keep others from damaging police cars, looting, or attacking others. I see citizens cleaning up the debris. I also see my cousin’s office spray-painted with F--- Police. I see her husband’s car with windows smashed, tires flat, roof bashed in.

I see all these things. Different sides of a surely incomplete story. And I am sad.

I am sad that not everyone has as peaceful of a day as I am having. I am sad that there is a need for a hashtag #blacklivesmatter. I am sad that people feel hurt, angry, or less than. I am sad that any one person feels unheard or scared.

I am sad and I am confused and I am sorry that this world isn’t as simple as I once thought it was. This sucks.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why is slowing down so hard?

[caption id="attachment_3644" align="alignnone" width="500"]from the Love Your True Colors Oracle Deck by Outiart from the Love Your True Colors Oracle Deck by Outiart[/caption]

As I do most mornings, I began today by drawing an oracle card. Today’s message was “Slow Down.” I scoffed. Not that it isn’t a good message. It absolutely is.

However, today time was on my side. I had a lot to do and plenty of time to do it. Then a weird thing happened.

My first stop was to drop by the preschool’s office. While there I was asked to hold on while a phone call was answered. The longer the phone call went on, the more antsy I got. My mind raced with, I have things to do! Places to go! This was just a quick stop.

After that was a trip to the dry cleaner during which I got a phone call. Then I sat in the parking lot waiting to wrap up the call before going in. Things to do! Places to go! Quick stop!

This pattern repeated as I stopped at the cafe for a half hour of writing that I scheduled for myself (another phone call), then waiting to order my drink where the person in front of me kept apologizing for how long his order was taking. “No problem,” I said. “I have time today.” Meanwhile I was feeling the antsy tick-tock within me urging the universe to nudge things along.

Then I thought of that card.

Slow down.

Ohhhh. So maybe this message was meant for me. I tried to relax. Maybe it worked a little. I got my half hour of writing in and I went home.

Alas, immediately upon arriving, I rushed to the mailbox, raced around moving laundry from one machine to another and gathering the next batch, so I could get on with an hour of client work before preschool pick-up.

And yet, I had time. Slow down. Take it easy. It will get done.

Why is this such a hard lesson?

P.S. If you want to follow along with the Card of the Day, follow me on Facebook.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Flecks #31

redtreebuds

It has been a while since I've written a flecks post. Mostly because I used to write these weekly, but lately my blogging has become less frequent, so I didn't want all of my posts to be flecks.

What do I mean by flecks? Flecks of reflection from the week: what I'm learning and celebrating. Have I repeated the word enough to make it lose meaning? Probably.

Here we go...

Things I learned this week:



  • Having a team supports growth and progress. I don't mean a paid team that helps accomplish work (though I'm sure that is wonderful, too). I mean having people that cheer you on and ask questions to help you understand yourself and remind you who you are when you get lost. This is so valuable. This week, I specifically want to thank Sara, Alina, Elora, and Ginny. Thank you so much for being part of my team.

  • Flowers make the kitchen feel more inviting. Even $4.99 flowers from the grocery store.

  • A clean kitchen makes the whole house feel better.

  • Weather affects mood. We have had some invigorating sunny days and some quiet damp days. I love them both.


Things I'm celebrating this week:



  • Articulating how I want to serve myself and others. This was huge! Want to hear it? My goal is to enhance the quality of life through self-awareness and personal growth, which will lead to self-acceptance and others-acceptance for improved self-esteem and interpersonal relationships.

  • Articulating who I want to serve. Another huge step for me and previously, my answer has always been, "Um... women like me?" So here it is: I want to serve women in family partnerships--wives, ex-wives, moms, stepmoms. Women whose lives are shared daily with other people. Women who may feel like they lose themselves from time to time and want to feel their own identity while maintaining their family roles.

  • Progress with an idea I am beginning to study.

  • A new client.

  • Productivity.

  • Rest.

  • Budding trees. Our apple, cherry, peach, and plum trees all have buds, as do the trees that line our street. By this time next week, it should be quite a sight.


Things that are resonating with me:


Seed by Stephanie Perkinson on Annapurna Living, in which she says, "Everything that has happened to you. All the good, all the bad, has gifted you a seed. Now, some of them may have blown away in the wind. Some may have already been planted and some are probably still stored in your pocket. These seeds are opportunity. They are hope. They are a second chance. They are forgiveness. They are intuition. They are wisdom."

Lessons learned from nine years of blogging by Susannah Conway, in which she reflects, "My online persona is pretty close to my off-line persona, though in the 3D world I’m far more sweary."

The book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. I am learning about the tendencies and distinctions that affect my behavior. I recognize that I like rules, that 9:00 a.m. is my most productive time of day, that I am a procrastinator, and that I get a thrill from using things up.

How to Do a Do-Over, a recent podcast by Jeff Goins. In this interview, Jon Acuff talks about walking away from his dream job. Because sometimes the dream job isn't quite what we imagined. Sometimes you need a do-over.

Your turn:


What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I'll share a "Woohoo!"

fruittreebuds

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

About My Love of Self Improvement

BetterThanBefore

If you walk a mile in my shoes, you'll end up at the bookstore.

A friend shared this with me on Facebook last week and I loved it. Because it's true. Well, not literally walking a mile because there is nothing that close to where I live, but metaphorically speaking, if you follow me, you will find yourself at the bookstore. I love the bookstore.

Once at the bookstore, you may see me scanning all sorts of aisles--general fiction, mystery, memoir, new age, gardening, nature, art, photography, journals, bargain books. Ultimately, however, you will find me in self improvement. This is where I will linger. I may even sit on the floor while I peruse a few options. It is my favorite section.

I have read a lot of books from this section and seeing them on the shelves with all sorts of unread potential treasures beside them is both comforting and exciting. It's like visiting old friends who are inviting me to meet new friends, except I don't have to think of something witty to say.

Even the blogs and articles I read online are mostly about self improvement. I know I am not a perfect person. I know that isn't even a realistic goal. But I am always interested in how I can be a better me. How can I focus on what is truly important? What is truly important to me? What makes me cranky? What makes me happy? How do I get more of that? How can I live my life better?

These are the questions I follow. It's not that I want to be bigger or faster or have a different life. I want to know how to be more content and more kind in the life that I already have. I feel that the key is making small shifts in my attitude, habits, and behavior. Self improvement.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Marriage is Doomed and Other Lessons from Gretchen Rubin's Talk

[caption id="attachment_3615" align="alignnone" width="500"]jeffandme Photo credit: Amy Pinard Photography[/caption]

I have realized a problem with my marriage. Yep. While seeing one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, speak the other night, I learned a possible reason for why my husband and I drive each other crazy in certain cases.

It comes down to this: I am an Upholder and he, I'm fairly certain, is a Rebel. These are two of the four habits categories Gretchen has identified in her latest book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. And according to her, it is rare that Upholders and Rebels work together.

Doomed. (Sorry, you had to find out this way, sweetums.)

Here's how the categories break down. It all has to do with how you meet expectations.

  • Upholders meet both their own and others' expectations.

  • Obligers meet others' expectations, but have trouble meeting their own.

  • Questioners meet their own expectations, but question others' expectations.

  • Rebels resist all expectations.


Do you see that little difference between Upholders and Rebels? That little disparity? I am a rule follower. I can't even go in the out door at a store. I stressed out for a good hour about what to wear to see Gretchen speak. I wanted to wear jeans, but I didn't know if that was acceptable since it was hosted by the chamber of commerce. I tried several different outfit combinations before deciding that jeans and a blazer would make me most comfortable and probably meet a dress code. Being comfortable is a happiness rule from Gretchen's earlier book The Happiness Project, so I told myself she would approve of my choice.

My husband has no such problems. He does what he wants, when he wants, how he wants, regardless of the rules.

My husband resists categorizations as well, so if he has read this far he is probably reeling right now. I rather like categorizations. (See? Doomed.) They help me understand myself and others and help me understand what to expect (or not) in my interactions.

There is plenty more information about all of these types in Gretchen's book and on her website at www.gretchenrubin.com. If you're curious about your own type and can't quite decide based on the list above, you can take her quiz to find out where you fit. (Update: My husband took the quiz and the result was Rebel, just as I suspected. DOOMED!)

I have already started considering how the various types might think differently and what that might mean for relationships. What does this mean for how I interact with my stepson? Where do my friends fall in this outline? How do we approach situations differently because of it?

I am excited to dig into this book to see how I can improve my own habits. Maybe I'll even find a few tips for being in partnership with a Rebel. After all, he's kind of hot. Even if he does make things difficult. (We joke that I Make Things Difficult would be the title of his biography if he had one.)

I know we can make this whole paradox work. We have survived almost seven years of marriage so far. Categories be damned.

And seriously, if Gretchen Rubin is ever in your area, go see her. She is an engaging speaker, so delightful in person, and she knows her stuff about happiness and habits.

Now, I am off to work on some of my own habits. After all, she signed my book with "Begin now!" I would like to meet that expectation.

[caption id="attachment_3613" align="alignnone" width="300"]insta_Upholder Image credit: www.gretchenrubin.com[/caption]