Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Let's All Be Drunk Girls in Bathrooms

I made it through February with no dreams about my brother or dad, no complete mental breakdowns, and lots of hawk sightings. I read some really good books as well as a couple that were just okay and a few that were meh. Since I now give myself permission to stop reading books that I don't like, even those didn't waste too much of my time. The one that was really good--The Middle Place, a memoir by Kelly Corrigan--made me miss my dad terribly.

Like I said before, I miss lots of things about him, but I really miss feeling cherished. It sounds selfish and more than a little childish, I know. I'm grateful to be surrounded by wonderful friends and family. My grown daughter is my best friend, and my husband is literally the most amazing man I have ever met. I'm not hosting a pity party ... Just wondering: What makes people feel cherished? Can I make others feel cherished? Is it something you can work on? Can you improve your ability to cherish?

You didn't just meet me. You know I'm going to try. 

Where to start? Every time I walked into my parents' house, my dad complimented something. "Oh your hair looks so nice today! Is that a new top? Wow, those boots are really snazzy!" Many times a day, I have those same thoughts about people. Her nails are pretty. I like that shirt. What a cute outfit. So that's a good place to start: Never pass up the opportunity to say something kind. Compliment people every chance you get.

That said, I'm ashamed to admit that too often I do better at this with strangers and acquaintances than I do with my own people. So, step two seems to be: Treat strangers like friends and family like strangers. Go out of my way to say kind things to my family too. Mix a few niceties in with the: Stop arguing, clean up your mess, put your water bottles in the recycling bin, and more. 

When I thought about it, I could not remember the last time I told Peyton how great he was doing in his college classes. At 16. And when was the last time I told Lily how perfect her curls were or how hard she works at gymnastics? Some days I say nicer things to the dog than I do to my kids. Guess what they won't miss...

That guided me to the next logical step: Pay Attention. Look past the daily nonsense and focus on the blessings. Yes, Lily has stripped most of the finish off the kitchen table making slime, but she is hanging out with me in the kitchen doing something creative. Peyton has 42 empty water bottles on his floor, but at 16, he is usually home, in his room, drinking water. It's easier to be overwhelmingly grateful for Chloe, who is being her fabulous little self and not making a mess in my house every day.

And finally...cast a wide net. Since I'm basically a hermit, the only people I regularly interact with in person are my husband and kids, but I "see" lots of people on social media every day. It's so simple to like a picture or make a nice comment. Why wouldn't we do that? 

The thing about spreading kindness is it's addictive. It feels good to make other people feel good. I think and write and talk so much about female relationships. Mommy wars, and mother-daughter feuds, and mean girls. I can't grasp why women can get so caught up in comparison and competitiveness, jealousy and judgement. In this abundant universe, there's more than enough success and love for everyone. 

If you're reading this? I am so grateful for you. This blog, writing, is my way of connecting to people, of reaching out and inviting people into my head hoping that they'll "get" me, I suppose. Thank you for the gift of your time. I cherish you!

For daily encouragement, or a safe 
place to vent, please visit me on Facebook

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I'm Sorry. You Don't Have to Forgive Me.

I just listened to a conversation between two of my favorite writers: Brene Brown and Harriet Lerner about the power of apologizing. They told a parable of a king and his son who had a falling out. In the story, the king sends word to his son, "Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you." Isn't that powerful? It made me think of my dad, who has been gone 6 years yesterday. I miss sitting on his lap and telling him all the shit that bangs around in my head. I miss him telling me how smart and pretty I am. I miss being cherished ... but I'm grateful for having been cherished.

Phew, this isn't about my dad. So back to that conversation, Brene says it's our duty to apologize. I agree. I've gotten quite adept at apologizing--mostly because I'm pretty adept at fucking things up. I have a smart mouth and a quick temper and have been guilty more times than I care to count of hurting people's feelings with my sometimes-cutting words. I always regret being unkind. I would much rather save a relationship than be right. Still, sometimes the words come out before the brain and heart have a chance to temper them. I'm sorry.

Here's the thing though: While it's on us to apologize, it's not the other person's duty to forgive us. When we apologize, we can't do so with expectations. I'm not good at this. Not at all. In fact, I SUUUUCCCCKKK at this. If someone apologizes to me, I will accept it and them with open arms. Consequently I have grown to expect this in return. Because I'm a little--lot--bit idealistic. But that's not fair; is it?

Have you heard of the concept of Ho'oponopono? It's an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness involving 4 simple concepts and phrases:

Repentence: I'm sorry.
Forgiveness: Please forgive me.
Gratitude: Thank you.
Love: I love you.

We can use it to heal a multitude of transgressions and old wounds in ourselves. Additionally it's a very simple way to seek healing in relationships. But we can only reach out; we can't expect others to welcome us with open arms, or reach back or anything else for that matter. No expectations.

Oh look. It's another four things. Just like The Four Agreements, which I still am doing my best to live by. Maybe this year, SINCE I'M 44, I'll do better with my 4's.

In the middle of writing this blog, I got a phone call from one of my best friends. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about writing and she said, "It's so funny, when I talk to you about your writing it's like you're in labor, but when I read it, it's like you're running down the beach with a kite." Perspectives. This one, I bet, is like labor for all of us. Ugh.

What are you giving up for Lent, if you practice that? I'm going to give up saying mean things to people. Including myself. Starting...........Now.