Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sweating, Swearing, and finally Sunshine

Yesterday, I went to a funeral for an amazing woman. She was one of my mom's best friends for more than 40 years and had the most wonderful zest for life. She laughed and sang and danced through life. She left messages for my mom saying, "CIAO!!!" and sent her birthday cards every year reminding her that she was just a little bit younger. They're both 85. My heart aches for her family because she was, as her son eloquently eulogized, like sunshine.

When witnessing a life-altering transition, I try to focus on presence. Life is temporary. People are temporary. We have a short time to do whatever it is we're going to do, so we'd best not squander it.

Also, yesterday, I saw a friend's adorable pictures of a kindergarten field trip with her little boy. It tugged at my heart because I remembered the same trip with my little boy. The not-so-little-anymore boy who finishes his junior year of high school next week and will--in just over a year--leave for college.

It was a lot of feelings for one day, especially after getting up before 4 a.m., so full disclosure: I got the kids pizza for dinner and played Gardenscapes for the rest of the evening giving zero fucks what anyone thought because adulting felt like too much.

Today, after a full night's sleep, I've realized a few things. I want to be sunshine for my family, and in order to do that, I need to let go of stuff. Maybe not as much as I once needed to let go of, but still some.

I've been trying to shed a few pounds before summer anyway, so why not let go of some emotional weight as well, right? Here are a few things I'm letting go of:

Worrying what other people think. This is a multi-faceted issue, but here's a brief example: It was book fair day at the middle school, and Lily called needing $12 for a book. Ughhhh, this is at least the second book fair of the year. Lily never reads the books. I said no. Instantly, I had a pang of, "Should I take her money? Will people think I am a bad mom?" I quickly realized this "What will people think" refrain in my brain doesn't belong to me. It is not even my thoughts. I don't care; I've been conditioned to believe I should.

So I let it go. I struggle with this a lot, but letting go of one small thing at a time is freeing.

Policing what I eat. Fuck. It's exhausting to wake up every morning guilt-ridden as I replay in my mind everything I ate the day before. Again, this is not something I came up with on my own, it's words that were instilled in me and still bang around in my head. But last night, I ate pizza for dinner. I drank a glass of wine--just one because I was so tired. And I didn't beat myself up. This morning, I'm going to meet my friend for coffee, and I already know I'm going to have a doughnut. Because...Nova. And I am not going to feel guilty about it.

My favorite writer, Anne Lamott, tells a story about shopping with her friend Pammy--who's dying of cancer--for something to wear on a date. She tries on a dress that fits her perfectly but is more revealing than her usual style. Shyly modeling it, she asks, "Do you think this makes my hips look big?" Pammy quietly replies, "Annie, I don't really think you have that kind of time."

We sure don't have that kind of time.

After thinking--and crying--about growing old and kids growing up and how fleeting life is, I don't want to spend one more second letting stupid shit steal my joy. I want to spend more time counting blessings and less time counting calories. I want to wear what I want without thinking, "Is this too young? Will people think I'm trying to be someone I'm not?" I want to let go of caring who people think I am and just BE who I am. And mostly, I want to bring love, kindness, compassion and a little more sunshine to every person I encounter.

Tell me...what are you sweating that you want to let go?


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Big Fat Heaping Spoonful of Self-Awareness

Lately I've been overthinking more than usual about a couple situations. In fact, I've been ruminating. I know they're synonyms, but ruminating feels darker to me. More destructive. "Overthinking" can and often does bring me to a solution whereas ruminating keeps me stuck on a merry-go-round revolving nauseatingly around a situation that's completely out of my control.

Follow me down this rabbit hole, if you will. I am a highly sensitive person. I will beat myself up for days if I think I've said or done something unkind. I'll lose sleep over possibly offending someone. Countless times, I've texted my girlfriends to apologize for something I did or said. Countless times, they've said that my behavior was not offensive. Granted, I'm outrageously blessed to have a tribe of absolutely A M A Z I N G women, but they will tell you if you're out of line...lovingly.  

Given this trait, I sometimes project onto others and think they--though usually not as sensitive (holla atcha girl, INFJ's)--have a basic understanding of the fact that other people do in fact have feelings. Consequently, when people do jerky things, I sometimes take it personally.

Hello, Darkness, my old friend.

Now, after worshiping at BrenĂ© Brown's feet for years and reading The Four Agreements about 16,000 times, my reaction tends toward moderate irritation followed by analysis of motivation. HINT: It's not about me. Or you. Ever. 

I try to be particularly sensitive to the space I take up in the world. I try to bring good energy and kindness. I try not to be a jerk. Sure, I mess up. I usually apologize. Sometimes, I over-apologize. I'll accept blame to avoid a conflict; I'd rather be happy than right and all that jazz.

Side note: Have any of you read Gary Chapman's book about The Five Languages of Apology? I just heard about it on Gretchen Rubin's podcast Happier, and I can't wait to read it. 

It's taking a really long time to get to the point--I warned you it was a rabbit hole. 

We've all witnessed the: "I'm sorry if you were offended," mentality; right? And I know: People are so easily offended about lots of inane stuff. That's often true. But I'm talking about people being dicks, not apologizing for being a dick, and then insinuating there's something wrong with you for being hurt by their behavior.

So, I started to write about how lack of self-awareness drives me crazy. However, I immediately countered every example with: Well, I do or did or have done that. But instead of disproving my original point, it brought me to another point--No, I still haven't made it. Good God. 

When we're aware of ourselves, we can be aware of others. When I acknowledge my own bad behavior, I can look at someone else's from a different perspective. When I realize that on any given day, I can be a dick, then I can stop taking other people's shit personally. I can give them space to be human. And maybe, someday, I'll even be able to give myself a little grace to make a mistake. 

In the meantime, it's enough to remember, we don't get to choose how others treat us, but we do get to choose our reaction. Every time. And this time, I'm choosing grace. Grace for you. Grace for me. Namaste. And please don't be a dick.