What It Means To Be Strong
Dictionary.com has 28 different definitions to support that strength comes in many forms. For the longest time, I thought that being strong meant persevering, standing tall, doing the right thing no matter who's watching. Now, I believe there is more to it than that. Being strong is hard. It's persevering and living, standing tall and kneeling, doing the right thing no matter who's watching and no matter what other people think. No one knows your life, the decisions you are faced with making, the lengths you go to live to fight another day. Life is short; it is precious. We only get one shot at living, and I don't know about you, but I'm living it!
I am so grateful for the people in my life, having a great job that I love, and all the adventures I get to go on! I am strong. I am stronger than I thought. I am stronger than I ever thought possible in fact. Faced with situations, I never thought I would be in charge of, making decisions I don't know that I was even qualified to make.
There was a period when I was unsteady when I didn't trust myself, and I didn't trust others with what I considered flaws. The biggest lesson I think I've learned in the last few years is learning to be vulnerable, and that is no small feat. The only way I've found to be vulnerable requires having people in your life who truly love you unconditionally. People who are not competing with you, using you, benefiting from your misfortune, throwing you under the bus, criticizing your every move so that they don't have to assess themselves. The people who do those things are toxic, and they have no place in my life, not anymore that is.
At the end of the day when I have to look myself in the mirror, I know that I did everything that I could do to the best of my ability with the information I had at the time and that is good enough for me. Being strong means going to bed knowing all of those things, not questioning yourself. I haven't slept this well in a long time, and man is it amazing to get a good nights rest! I'm strong like Hulk!
The Man In The Arena
From a speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910. This is my favorite part of what he said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
What a powerful message, also the inspiration behind my new facebook cover photo!
Here's What I Believe
While rereading Brene Brown's book "Braving the Wilderness" it struck me that I must write about part of her message, I couldn't agree more with all of this. Here is the excerpt:
“Here’s what I believe: 1. If you are offended or hurt when you hear Hillary Clinton or Maxine Waters called bitch, whore, or the c-word, you should be equally offended and hurt when you hear those same words used to describe Ivanka Trump, Kellyanne Conway, or Theresa May. 2. If you felt belittled when Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables” then you should have felt equally concerned when Eric Trump said “Democrats aren’t even human.” 3. When the president of the United States calls women dogs or talks about grabbing pussy, we should get chills down our spine and resistance flowing through our veins. When people call the president of the United States a pig, we should reject that language regardless of our politics and demand discourse that doesn’t make people subhuman. 4. When we hear people referred to as animals or aliens, we should immediately wonder, “Is this an attempt to reduce someone’s humanity so we can get away with hurting them or denying them basic human rights?” 5. If you’re offended by a meme of Trump Photoshopped to look like Hitler, then you shouldn’t have Obama Photoshopped to look like the Joker on your Facebook feed. There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanization—the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.” -Brene Brown
(visit her full article: brenebrown.com/blog/2018/05/17/dehumanizing-always-starts-with-language/)
When I engage in conversation usually it's not just to hear myself talk, I want to be understood, I think most of us have that goal in mind. My communication style is intuitive which means that I only care about the forest, not the individual trees. Details are cumbersome to me. The most significant reason for miscommunication in my interactions happens when I'm talking with functional communicators. Those who crave the details, clarity, planning, and end points. They overlook nothing and account for all aspects. Often the difference in styles creates obstacles which lead to misunderstandings.
I get so frustrated when I'm talking, and there is no response, no acknowledgment. It feels like I'm just providing information rather than having a conversation. Then I feel like what I have to say is not important. I'm left reeling over things like, did I mention something I shouldn't have or use the wrong words? Was I not clear, did I leave out necessary details? By the time we talk, again I have over-analyzed the previous conversation to an unrecognizable state (see my post on Assumptions). Which doesn't solve anything, in fact, it only creates more problems to work through.
As hard as it is to do in practice, I try to keep reminding myself that feelings are never right or wrong, they just are. So I have to convince myself that I shouldn't take it as a personal attack. The person I was talking to wasn't engaged in the conversation because I didn't provide the details needed for him to invest. That or, I dominated the conversation because I wasn't listening to listen, I was waiting for my turn to respond. Once all of that is out of the way, it's pretty easy to clarify and remedy the situation (though getting to that point can feel like an eternity sometimes).
I also have a terrible habit of getting frustrated and then shutting down and just responding "ok" when deep down I don't feel "ok, " but I refuse to say anything. I don't want to make it worse but that whole thought process, if put into action, does make it worse. I think all of it could be avoided by just staying in the moment and asking questions until everything is crystal clear, but man is that tough to do because we all have pride and that pride does not like being swallowed! I'm not perfect yet, but I am well on my way! Haha!
Some people are always ready to communicate, anytime day or night but I am not that person. I require a certain amount of prep work. I can listen to someone else, but as for sharing my day or talking about what I'm working on or interested in or excited about, I have to be in the mood or get myself motivated to do so. I've only started to notice myself being this way as I have gotten older which has made me wonder why. I have a half-baked theory to share.
Before I can have a meaningful conversation, I have to get right with myself and do some self-validating. I have to remind myself that I don't need for the other person to get excited with me or understand my thoughts or feelings or agree with me. I have to remind myself that their reactions and responses (or lack thereof) do not determine the relevance of what I have to say. It takes work to do this because it is not my default mode, I would prefer everyone think I'm brilliant and always right, and everything I have to say is intellectual and stimulating. Unfortunately, that is not the way life works thus the reason I must mentally prepare and sometimes I just think I'm too tired or too lazy to equip myself properly so let's chat another time.
We communicate to share and share to be understood (see my post on Miscommunication). We seek for others to share in our excitement when we are happy and we seek comfort and support when we are sad. But I think that sure puts a lot of pressure on the other person to know what you need or want in that moment and give it to you unconditionally. Maybe there is a compromise somewhere in there, but I haven't found it yet. I will say this though, because of the way I compensate for what I need or want I have started to become a better conversationalist for those around me. I have learned the difference between listening and hearing, receiving information and engaging, asking questions and seeking clarification.
Of course, it is still a fantastic feeling when someone else validates us; I think we all crave validation from time to time so knowing how to self-validate is maybe a worthwhile skill to master even if it means not always being ready to have a meaningful conversation at the drop of a hat. Quality interactions can just learn to have a little patience!
Have you ever heard the line "assuming makes an ass out of u and me"? And to think, we all make hundreds of assumptions every day. I'm not implying we are all assholes because more often than not we make them subconsciously, the only time it makes us the asshole is when we knowingly do it. When there are gaps in the information collected, we fill in those blanks to reconcile what we are experiencing with what we think is going on. We don’t even realize we do this. When we expect certain things or hope not to have them, guess what my friend, unspoken expectations or lack thereof can be a form of assuming.
Most of us didn't get here with OnStar; we had help crafting the perfect storm with the help of our insecurities or all those participation trophies we received as children. Or any number of other factors, bad relationships, or a variety of different ingredients that went into the blender to form the bittersweet concoction that I know I have had to taste from time to time.
The danger is, that what our senses are telling us, and what we think is happening, may not be the reality (see my post on Miscommunication) . So how do we permanently remove that address from the GPS and choose not to drink the Kool-Aid? (I've never much liked Kool-Aid anyway, if you know me then you know I prefer Powerade)!
Being aware is insightful, but solving for it seems to be little more difficult. So far, these are a few of the strategies I've found some success with:
- Be curious, ask questions, gain clear information before making decisions
- Freely give trust, change your default first to assume the best
- If you didn't see it or hear it yourself, don't write your script for a scene you experience.
So how do you deal with assumptions? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave a comment below!
As much as it pains me to admit, I am guilty of this. What is stonewalling you ask? It can show up in a couple different ways like when someone refuses to participate in the conversation or mid-sentence they just change the subject. Other ways of stonewalling include the silent treatment or my personal favorite, when asked if something is wrong (because clearly there is something wrong) I simply respond "nothing" (see my post about Miscommunication).
For me, stonewalling started out innocently, usually by trying to avoid conflict or calm myself down and keep from stressing out, or sometimes I honestly didn't know how I felt at the moment or what to say so it was a defense mechanism of sorts to just stay silent.
The impact that stonewalling has though is not so innocent, quite frankly, its passive aggressive in that we think the other person should already know what's wrong or what they did wrong so we shouldn't have to tell them. That leaves the other person feeling ignored, misunderstood, invalidated or just plain hurt. Left unattended for too long, it will certainly lead to resentment.
Many times I would have already played out how I thought the conversation would go before even having it and then I would use that as justification for not having the conversation at all (see my post on Assumptions). It has taken me a long time to realize I was going about it all wrong.
If we are going to have successful relationships where communication flows freely then we have to start assuming the best of our partner, every time. Stop thinking we know what they are going to say or do because they might surprise you. I know I have been surprised time and time again with the patience and willingness to learn from each other and grow together, the thoughtfulness that my significant other has shown me has changed my whole way of thinking and interacting.
I haven't yet mastered this completely but I am definitely well on my way. Hope this helps someone else as much as learning it for myself has helped me!
I do things with passion and give it my all or I just won't do them at all, and I once cried over a Folgers commercial, so I think that qualifies me as being emotional without even using the stereotypical fact that I'm a girl.
I believe that logic and emotion are not mutually exclusive, they work best when used together. My knee jerk reactions tend to be based more on feeling rather than thinking but given some time to digest; I usually become reasonable which is probably why my apologies have gotten better as I have gotten older.
As time has gone by and I have experienced more interactions both professionally and personally, I have slowly learned to communicate better by pausing after my initial reaction to something someone has said and let my brain reason with the information. Before I started doing this, back when I would respond off the cuff, I had many regrets after conversations because I hadn't taken the time to think things through.
These days I do have more successful interactions and by actually listening to what others who believe differently than I do have to say, I have learned a lot. We are all unique and have something to offer if others are willing to accept.
Beyond just making decisions balanced between emotion and logic there are still obstacles to overcome. Staying open-minded and accepting of others thoughts, feelings, rationale, and emotions add a whole new level of potential problematic variables because you can only control you. You can't make other people open to what you are saying, thinking and feeling.
Without going too off topic, I will venture to say that these are the same reasons it 's hard to talk about politics when different beliefs are involved. Surely there is a better way, a more successful approach. I just haven't found it yet.
No Amount Of Time Is Enough
I know that the last couple of posts I have written seemed to follow a theme and while I'm changing it up for this post, I will get back to all of that shortly. But tonight something happened, and I can't help but share it.
See, this blog started as an outlet for me, and it continues to be a safe place for me to write, vent, express and sometimes just bitch about the things that maybe I don't have the balls actually to address in real life. But at least if I can write it down, I can get it out of my head and continue moving forward.
So.. Tonight was amazing, I went out with the girls to sing karaoke, and we had a great time! I probably drank a little too much, but hey, I wasn't driving! My Lyft driver was fantastic!! =) When I got home though I made some inferior decisions.
See, it has almost been a year since my mom went into the hospital and about this time last year I saved all of the old voicemails from my phone onto an external drive and when I got home and was checking my email I came across the reminders of the files I added a year ago. If you don't already know, let me just tell you that listening to the voice of someone who has passed away after you have alcohol in your system is a terrible idea. All it does it intensify your emotions and make it that much more hysterical.
I honestly don't know if I will ever be ready to hear those again. Maybe in another 20 years but for right now I can still hear my mom's voice in my head, I still know what she sounds like, and I don't need a reminder. I thought it would be good to hold on to all of those old voicemails just in case, but that was before I knew how she would forever be etched into my memories and how much it would hurt actually to hear her voice again instead of just imagining it.
I say all of this, but I also feel the need to mention that my mom was the most amazing person I have ever met. Anyone who knew her would agree because I show no bias by saying that, she was truly the most loving and accepting person and I know that everything she did in her short time here wasn't for nothing, it couldn't have been. I know that she has to be somewhere, doing great things. I have to believe that deep down she knows that she doesn't have to worry about me because she raised me right and she prepared me for all that has and is still to come and no matter what, I am going to be alright. I love you, and I miss you, mom!
THE PRICE OF PERSEVERANCE
When someone pays me a compliment I usually down play it or shrug it off because for whatever reason compliments make me feel uncomfortable. Someone told me recently that I know how to persevere, and I just nodded in agreement at the time, but I've been questioning whether or not they were right about me.
Perseverance is an admirable trait to possess, but not always a glamorous one. Overcoming adversities in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement is hard work, and the reward doesn't always feel good because to be successful you have to make tough decisions that others in your life may not agree with.
I am straight forward and blunt about most things, and on occasion, I lack tact. Chalk that up to working in a predominantly male environment all of my adult life and the fact that I have mostly male hobbies I guess. Whatever the reason, I usually spend a lot of time playing defense after I've said something in the wrong tone or at the wrong time or it gets taken out of context. I feel like the details of how or when or why I deliver a message shouldn't matter as much as the message itself, why get lost in the details?
I realize that not everyone else thinks this way, but I like to think that those who know me well are at least willing to give me the benefit of the doubt and look at what I'm doing rather than how I got it done. I also believe that I am open-minded and smart enough to admit that I won't get it right every time which means I need help. I need feedback and advice, thoughts and suggestions, and sometimes I just need to say it out loud to hear myself think.
Things don't always have to be done my way, but they do have to get done. I wake up every morning with the best of intentions, not with a plot to piss anyone off. My mom had a rule that I have and will always continue to live by which is "don't complain unless you can suggest a solution or you are willing to work on finding one."
I would like to say that I'm adapting well to all of the changes. I'm still learning that it is not possible for me to be three different people but I can adopt some of the traditions that were most important to them and make sure those continue. I allowed myself to believe that I was gaining some life balance, but that is not the case. Instead, I think I have adjusted enough to free up the brain capacity needed to see that other things have changed too and not in a positive way. In all fairness, some of it was probably there all along, and I was either too naive to see it, or I refused to acknowledge it because doing so would mean that the foundation I have built upon and the values I believe in are just smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, once you open your eyes it is not possible to just close them and forget what you saw and since I am not capable of just ignoring things I am forced to address them.
My family is sacred to me. They give me strength and power and most of all they give me courage. I remember starting my first "real" job, and one of my co-workers mentioned that he had not spoken to his family in over a year and honestly, that completely blew my mind because at the time I talked to my mom, dad, sister and brother on weekly, sometimes daily basis. For the life of me, I could not begin to understand what could keep someone from communicating with their family because my family is such a huge part of my world. While I hope I'm wrong, I am starting to think I understand how that can happen now.
Find Out Who Your Friends Are
This post has been a long time coming, but I just didn’t feel like writing it until now. Probably because writing it means that I have to revisit painful memories that haven't yet had a chance to heal but life is getting better, I am getting better. There are so many amazing people in my life that I know every time I try to talk about them individually I always seem to forget someone and I want to apologize for that. Many of those people who anchor me to reality the most have been part of my life for so long that the idea of them not being part of my life is absurd, which makes it easier to overlook their contributions to my well-being. My family and friends give me strength, give me hope and remind me of who I am when I start to forget. I would like to believe that those of you I am referring to know how important you are and what you mean to me because I tell you all the time. But I will do my very best to not leave you out going forward because if I have learned anything as of recent, it is that life is short, so don't leave things unsaid.
So here's what I've been thinking about today. I am so thankful for you Chris Johnson when my mom died you sent me texts every day for WEEKS; you called just to sit in silence with me if that's what I wanted to do and you always have and still give the best hugs ever. I am also so thankful for you Rachel Petersen. For being bossy and telling me what I'm going to do, for letting me be myself no matter how scary that may be and for spending hours on the phone or in the car with me talking about things that don't make sense even when a quick google search would easily resolve. I love you both so much, and I don't know what I would do without you!!
One last note, I am thankful for ex-boyfriends who are kind enough to come still and help you when you have car trouble. Thank you, Justin Tipton.
Adulting Is Hard
I like to think that in general, I am a decent human being and that I have no enemies even though it's not realistic. I don't always do the right thing and I know I've made some epically bad decisions over the years, but I also know that I try hard to the right my wrongs and make amends when possible. I still get the (not so subtle) reminder from time to time that I am relevant enough to have haters still.
I am hard headed, and it takes me a while to learn life's lessons, usually because I refuse to take the easy route. I have found a new appreciation for peace and peace of mind as I get older and I think I have reached a point where I am now able to self-reflect and in turn, take responsibility for my actions (and even admit when I'm wrong on occasion). I am smart enough to know that I don't have it all figured out and honestly I never will because I won't always get it right, mistakes are bound to happen.
After many years of arguing my side of things thinking that if I just explain it the right way, I can get my point across. I learned that fighting is a competitive sport and most people will do everything they can to win even when it means losing sight of what the argument was even about in the first place. So now I know that it isn't worth fighting every battle that presents itself because sometimes winning is not a win. The only thing that matters is the risk and reward and whether or not I can live with the consequences that come with each outcome.
Taking the high road is not easy, but I do take it more often than I used to. Even when deep down I would like nothing more than to use the extensive vocabulary I have acquired (thanks to dictionary.com) to annihilate my adversaries. The funny thing is that it only takes a few "be the better person who doesn't play into the drama" experiences to realize that the best revenge strategy is not giving them what they want, which is a response.
Mean girls suck
If you are a mean girl, you suck! I forgot how immature and catty women can be until recently when out of nowhere came a blast from the past. While the reminder itself was fun for me because I adult just well enough to know that not responding and playing into someone's drama is the absolute best response you can have. And since I have a website of my very own I can post what I think and control the response! Haha, that was probably a joke.
It reminded me that there are still so many unhappy, insecure women in the world who probably don't even know who they are deep down. They are like Julia Roberts in the movie "Runaway Bride" especially the part where she realizes she doesn't even know how she likes her eggs.
I don't envy these ladies, not one bit because I was the same way at one time. I hope they eventually learn that there is no need to be malicious or vindictive because it only makes them ugly inside and out. That they learn to love themselves no matter how evil they've been so far in life, there's still hope to turn it around!