20 Year High School Reunion

My 20-Yr High School Reunion just happened this past July, and I almost didn’t go.
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I skipped the 5, 10, and 15 year.
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I assumed I would never attend any of the reunions, but as Justin Bieber always says, “Never say never!” 😜
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I hated high school.
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But, not because of them, my classmates.
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It was because of HIM… My coach. He violated every code, law, and human decency imaginable.
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And I suffered in silence. No one knew, not even my team. It was a horrible, dirty secret.
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No one knew, and yet I felt like everyone knew just by looking at me. I thought everyone could see how worthless I was. At least, that’s how I thought about myself at the time.
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I hated him. I hated myself. And therefore, I displaced my hate towards them, my classmates.
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When I say that “I hated high school,” what I really mean is, “I hated that I had to go through that all by myself. I hated that I didn’t get to have a normal high school experience. I hated that I didn’t get to have my first time be with someone I loved.”

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After many years of destruction, and then many years of reconstruction, I am in a good place. So, when I got the invite for our 20-Yr Reunion, I was genuinely excited.

It’s euphoric when you realize you have healed from something that for so long you truly believed it would define you for the rest of your life. I thought I would always be “damaged goods.” Which was why, of course, I avoided all of the reunions before.

It’s extremely intriguing how easily we displace our thoughts and feelings. For, well, 20 years, I thought that I hated high school. It took a lot of therapy and processing to realize that what I actually hated was myself.

Often, when we hate something or someone, more times than not, it’s actually something else going on internally within ourselves. So, pay attention, and call yourself out when necessary. 

You know how we always tell each other to not take it personally when someone else is a jerk to us, because you’re really not the problem?! Well, the same applies the other way around!
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So, I went to the reunion anew and I enjoyed it, and I got to re-experience my high school class in a whole new way.
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Thanks for the memories, Class of 99!!

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New Name, Same Mission

Just a heads up that I have officially changed the name of “The Barbell Diaries” to “The Purves Perspective.”

And, just to be clear, it’s pronounced “per-viss.” Haha! I know you were thinking about it.

While I have changed the name of my blog, Instagram, and Facebook Pages to “The Purves Perspective,” my blogs and posts will still be about life. I am not changing my mission to talk about life, and share the highs and lows. I will continue this journey towards self-love, personal development, education, empowerment, compassion, and being more human!

If you haven’t heard yet, I am starting school in a couple of weeks! I have been accepted to the University of Akron to obtain my Masters in Marriage & Family Counseling.

WOOT WOOT!

Yes, I am very excited for so many reasons!

This is one of the rare times I am going to toot my own horn and celebrate myself, because I am doing something that I actually have always wanted to do. Back in college, I got my B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling, and I wanted to continue on and get my MFT.

However, a very long story short, life happened and I never did it.

I don’t regret it, because the events that followed have brought me to where I am today, and my life is pretty freaking awesome! I am a mother of three girls, about to celebrate 10 years  of marriage to my best friend, and everyone is happy and healthy right now.

Of course, as life continued to happen, though, I had more and more excuses to NOT get my MFT. It eventually became a “never gonna happen” dream, and I stopped thinking about it.

Thankfully, this year a spark happened, and I decided to take the plunge. I’ll be blunt – I’ve always hated the excuse “I’m too old… It’s too late…”

No.

Even if I’m 79, and I find myself suddenly passionate about baking, I WILL sign up for baking classes and open up my own little stand downtown. 😉

Gosh darn it.

Keep dreaming. Keep living. Keep growing.

Body Image

Last week, I was taking pictures of myself in my sports bra and shorts in my bathroom mirror. Then, I was trying to find the right filter to show some sort of definition in my abs. Haha! As I was desperately trying to create an impressive “after” photo for Instagram, my 7-year old daughter looked over my shoulder and asked, “Mom, why are you taking photos of your stomach? You’re weird.”

With a chuckle, I told her I was taking progress photos of my fitness and trying to get my abs back. She replied, “But, why do you need to take photos? Don’t you know you’re already strong?” Awww, bless her little heart.

I then tried to explain to her that taking photos throughout my fitness will help me to compare how far I have come, and I’ll be able to really see the difference each month as I progress. She then asked me, “Well, what are you trying to look like?”

It was that question that stopped me dead in my tracks.

“Well, what are you trying to LOOK like?”

Those words stabbed me in the heart, and flooded me with memories of diet fads, self-hate, and wanting to look like the models in magazines. I was also horrified in that moment as a mother, because I realized I was doing exactly to my daughter what I learned from society growing up – We have to LOOK a certain way.

Bullsh**.

I’ve come too far personally to make the same mistakes and put my girls on the same destructive path of negative body images.

I put my camera phone down, hugged my daughter, and then tried to retract. I told her that she just helped me realize that I was falling into an old habit, and the problem within the health & fitness industry is that we make it too much about aesthetics. “Transformation Tuesdays” are always photos of before and after, with the after being skinnier, more tone, more defined and chiseled, and supposedly more happy. We’ve equated thinness and muscles with health & fitness, and even worse, with happiness and success.

The REAL transformations happens within us, though. Dealing with our inner demons. Our trauma. Our bullsh** stories we keep telling ourselves. Our insecurities and doubts. Our thought patterns and habits. Our relationship with ourselves.

Unfortunately, we can’t SEE the transformation on the inside. It’s a feeling. An attitude. A behavior, and it usually is noted with comments like, “You just seem like a weights been lifted off your shoulders. You look the same, but there’s just something different about you.”

Understandably so, we use our body to show our transformation. Everyone can see us go from flab to FAB and praise us. It’s an easy and aesthetically pleasing post to share with the world. We all love a great before and after photo, especially me! And, I love it even more when I get to share my own before and after photo. Yes, I have an ego just like everyone else!

But… my daughter made me realize what posting my half-naked body on Instagram would have done – Continue to perpetuate the beliefs that health & fitness is about aesthetics, and as a woman we are supposed to be a certain size, shape, and weight in order to be attractive and good enough. That we should workout in order to look sexy.

For too long, I worked out to look good. It’s exhausting, sometimes even unsafe, and downright destructive. Admittedly, though, I do still want to look good. We are human, and we all have an ego. It doesn’t make us bad people. My goal, though, is to stay focused on the right things, like my physical performance in the workouts, progress in my lifts, and choices in my thought patterns.

When we focus on the right things, like quality in movements and performance, proper nutrition, healthier habits, and better thought patterns, the aesthetics will naturally take care of themselves.

In response to my daughter’s question when she asked what I was trying to look like, I told her, “Well, honey, it actually doesn’t matter. I’m not going to post that picture of me, because my abs are not what makes me important, nor do they show anyone what I can do as a person. I don’t want to look like anything other than the best version of myself. So, as long as I am making healthy and positive choices each day, however my body reflects those choices will be beautiful.”

My daughter thought about my response for a moment and then said, “Well, I always think you’re beautiful, mommy, because you’re my mom and you’re pretty great at it.”

If you ever need a confidence boost, talk to my 7-year old! 😉

In fact, we need to think more like a 7-year old, and less like our broken, old ways!

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The Lost Art of Listening

The letters in the word, “LISTEN,” also spell out the word, “SILENT.”

Something is happening in our world right now. Actually, a lot of things are happening, and it feels like a boiling pot ready to explode.

After watching the Ford vs. Kavanaugh hearing, and then witnessing the outrage on social media from all sides, I cannot help but feel like a purge is about to happen. Everything going around is racial, political, sexist, and downright hurtful.

I never actually saw the movie, “The Purge,” but the concept of the story has me worried, because it seems very likely that one of these days we’re all just going to snap and go postal on each other.

We aren’t listening anymore – We’re yelling over each other.

We don’t listen to understand, we just want to react and respond.

We’re like the kids living in a shoe with the old lady.

Reading comment after comment after comment, and post after post after post on social media has made me sad. Everyone wants to be heard, and yet, no one is listening. Everyone has an opinion, and yet, no one cares. Everyone wants to scream and shout, and yet, it all falls on deaf ears. So, everyone gets louder and meaner. And still, no one is listening.

Life is hard, to say the least. We all fight battles each day that the rest of the world knows nothing about. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel the need to have a pissing contest – Who has it harder, who is more traumatized, who had a tougher upbringing, whose experience was more damaging. We often dismiss each other, whether intentional or not, by comparing and offering unsolicited advice.

We also have a selfish habit of having to share our own experience when someone confides in us. When a friend talks about her pain of miscarriage, we immediately share our own story of loss. When a co-worker vents about not getting enough sleep with the newborn, we respond with our own kids keeping us up even later than him. When a family member shares a 20-year secret of an uncle touching her, we cover it with stories of our own trauma. And, while, yes, some do it in order to feel connected, and help the other person feel less lonely, at its core, what we are doing is selfish. We are NOT listening.

Listening would involve being quiet while your friend goes on and on about her struggles through her miscarriage. Listening would allow her all the time she needs to talk about herself and her process. Listening would also include asking her meaningful questions, like, “What can I do to support you through your process? May I bring you some home-cooked dinners to help out? Would it be okay if I took your kids to the park this Saturday so you can have a couple of hours to yourself?”

Listening requires us to put ourselves aside. It is not about you.

When was the last time you truly listened to someone? I mean, zero interruptions, absolutely no advice given, and none of of your own personal stories overshadowing. When have you allowed someone the entire stage?

When was the last time someone listened to you?! Has anyone ever actually listened to you before?

I can tell you from personal experience, from both being the listener and the talker, it’s a feeling like no other! The simple act of LISTENING has an incredible power to heal. More times than not, what we really need is acknowledgement. Plain and simple.

We just want someone to validate us, believe us, recognize us… And then, to accept us.

Many times, when we are yelling, screaming, and fighting against the world, it is because we have not been heard by a single person.

When we do not listen, we hurt each other. 

Right now, we are not listening to each other. We are fighting each other. I just saw long-term friends cut ties in an instant on Facebook over a disagreement about the Ford vs. Kavanaugh hearing. Just like that. Years and years of close friendship tossed into the trash because neither of them were listening to each other. I’ve known other friends who shot and killed each other over a political disagreement. 25 years of friendship, and then suddenly, BAM, dead over one disagreement because neither wanted to listen to the other – Only to prove the other wrong. I’ve seen brothers never speak again after sharing who they voted for President. They didn’t want to listen to each other.

We don’t have to agree on everything. We do not have to have the same political and religious views to be able to get along. We do not have to have the same experiences to show empathy and compassion. We do not have to be right all the time.

We just need to listen. And then, to be kind.

Before the purge happens, let’s try to listen more.

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

 

Rename & Redefine Miscarriages – A Mother’s Heartache & Plea

I recently Googled synonyms for the word, “miscarriage,” and these are what popped up:

“Abortion, mishap, botch, breakdown, defeat, error, interruption, malfunction, misfire, mistake, nonsuccess, failure, weakness, deficiency.”

The antonyms just added insult to injury, “Accuracy, certainty, correction, success, triumph, win.”

Whoever decided that the word “miscarriage” was the correct term for a mother’s loss, I will never be able to fully understand.

The word itself implies fault of the mother. It’s no wonder why so many of us feel shame, cry behind closed doors, shutdown, and don’t talk about it. And, it is not wonder why society does not know how to properly support us, and how to gracefully acknowledge it.

It’s actually a very common and normal part of life, and yet, even with today’s great advances and higher education, we still treat it like the Black Plague.

That word really sucks. It sucks the soul of the mother, and it sucks the humanity of society.

It’s not your fault, Mama.

Let me repeat that to you – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

You’re not a mistake, a malfunction, or a botch. You did not misfire, you are not weak, and you most certainly are not an error.

Life really does work in mysterious ways, and there is so much about it that we just do not understand. Not even our advanced sciences and technology can understand all of it. Probably never will, either. Heck, we still don’t even know what really triggers labor, and why breast milk is so magical. We just have a lot of good guesses and bits and pieces of information that help us make educated conclusions. But, we really don’t know. Mother Nature is a beautiful enigma, and it’s why so many of us call life itself a miracle!

We need a new word. And, we need one right now!

Every other alternative I’ve found, though, just doesn’t work for one reason or another. I’ve spent weeks and weeks looking at words. There are over 171,000 words in the English language, and none of them seem to suffice.

“Loss” still has a negative connotation, because it’s not the same kind of loss when our parents pass away, or a friend dies in a car accident. And, any other synonym for “loss” still implies fault or failure of the mother.

This kind of loss is deeply, deeply personal.

How do you pick a word for that?!

For lack of a better word, I had a miscarriage back in 2015, and I had a lot of anger and resentment during that time. I wasn’t angry at myself, though, nor at any one in particular. I wasn’t even mad at the loss itself.

I was mad at the culture we’ve created surrounding miscarriages.

I had very well-intended women swarm around me telling me, “It wasn’t meant to be. The baby just wasn’t ready. God has a plan. Mother Nature took care of it for you. It happens all the time. Women have lots of miscarriages. You’re not the only one. I had five miscarriages before I had Johnny.”

Can I just tell you straight up – When a woman is drowning in mourning, she doesn’t want to hear any of that. It is not comforting, even though it is intended to be. However, it inadvertently minimizes her pain and experience. And, I get it – We naturally want to ease the pain of someone suffering, therefore, we try to take some of it away by saying those things. But, you can’t take someone’s pain for them. Nor should you try to. Pain, while uncomfortable to deal with, is important and necessary for the mourner.

So, instead, acknowledge her loss and let her lead her healing process.

Don’t tell her how to feel or how to deal with it.

It’s her loss, not yours.

Let it be about her, not you, or anyone else.

I also had men and women who just outright avoided me for a few weeks because they were uncomfortable, and I understand why. They felt it was better to just not say or do anything, since they didn’t know what to say or do. But, admittedly, that hurt me, too. I really needed to be acknowledged.

And then, there were the others.

I got asked, “Did you eat anything you shouldn’t have? Maybe it was that sushi you ate. Do you think it’s because you worked out too much? Were you doing something you shouldn’t have right before it happened? Maybe you’re too muscular to carry (I owned a CrossFit gym at the time).”

I don’t think I need to explain how utterly disgusted I felt by these questions, and how inappropriate it is to ask any mother these types of questions after the loss of her unborn child, so we will move on…

As a blogger and social media participant, I saw a great deal of moms pleading their cases, followed by trolls shaming them, and then others excusing them, while still others were just insensitive and downright despicable. I started questioning humanity at this point.

There was NO SAFE PLACE for me to go and deal with my miscarriage. So, I did what too many of us do – I closed my door, hid under the covers, and cried my heart and soul out all by myself. I hid from the world. I dealt with it alone. I felt like I had to, and THAT made me mad, because we have created that environment.

Eventually, I was able to write about it in my blog, and I tried to start a real conversation about it, but alas, no one seemed ready for it yet.

How can we undo the damage here? How can we create a better culture around this? And, what word would better represent this personal experience?

To this day, every time I have an OBGYN appt and I must fill out an information sheet, and it asks how many pregnancies, births, abortions, and miscarriages I’ve had, I still tense up at having to mark that fourth box with that word next to it. It stings, to say the least.

And, I still haven’t figured out a better word for it.

Back when I had to explain to our oldest daughter why we weren’t going to have a baby, I told her that we were getting a Guardian Angel. Maybe that’s what we call it, because I would be much more willing and able to answer the question, “How many Guardian Angels do you have,” on my OBGYN information sheet.

So, can we, as a society, better yet, as a COMMUNITY, create a better word and a better culture for this?

Can we start a better healing process together, and give moms a safe place?

We need to start somewhere, though, and I think starting with a new word is a great place to begin!

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After our loss in 2015, we were fortunate to have our second daughter in 2016, and this week we will be welcoming our third (Sept 2018)!!!

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Be More Human With Your Kids

Today, I screwed up and had an adult temper tantrum in front of my 6-year-old and 2-year-old while out shopping. It was a legitimate outburst that would have competed strongly against any teething toddler with no sleep and an empty sippy cup.

My jacket zipper got stuck, and then while trying to get it unstuck, I managed to rip a huge hole inside of it. The down feathers came pouring out like water, mocking me as they flew away in the wind. And I snapped. Like an Incredible Hulk super smash showdown.

I yanked my jacket off, chucked it as hard as I could across the passenger-side seat of the minivan, and screamed a cornucopia of very bad words. My white-knuckled hands punched the air around me as if I were fighting a gang of angry bees. I continued by heaving my body into the driver seat, slammed the door as hard as I could, and then battled through a tug-o-war with my seatbelt. I was sweating and swearing. I was the worst version of myself in that moment.

It had been a very long week, as any mother can relate, and that darn zipper was my final tipping point. After I finished my hissy fit, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and remembered who my audience was in the backseat.

I finally mustered the courage to look back at my 6-year-old and make eye contact with her. She was unsure what to do. So, she did nothing. She just sat very quietly and did not move a muscle. Even my 2-year-old was frozen in suspense.

I quickly transformed back into “normal Mommy” and sincerely apologized for my behavior. I explained how my actions, while completely human from time to time, were unacceptable, and my choice in words was very poor. I could have handled it better.

She still didn’t move or say anything.

I then asked her how I could have handled that situation better.

She finally blinked, looked out the window in thought, and then replied, “Well, maybe next time take three really deep breaths and close your eyes, and then listen to the sounds outside, like the birdies singing, and then you’ll be happy again.” I agreed with her suggestion and then asked if she had any other ideas to deal with anger. Without hesitation, she said, “You could also count to 10 or 20, or even 100, you know, whatever number you need to get to calm down. Sometimes, I count to 20, because I need more time than 10.”

I nodded again, and she quickly followed with, “Or, you could also ask for help. You always tell me to ask for help when I get mad when I can’t do something. So, maybe since you couldn’t unzip your jacket, you could have asked Daddy for help instead.”

(My whole face lit up and I was smiling ear to ear. Wow, I love that kid. How did I get so lucky?!)

 

Even better, when I apologized again, she said, “Don’t worry, Mama, I forgive you. And, I’m sure Santa forgives you, too, and he will still bring you a present, because he loves you, just like me.”

She is my constant source of humility and grace. And, because I allow her to see me be more human, and because I talk openly with her about my mistakes, she is learning compassion and forgiveness.

Not just for others, but even more importantly, for herself.

When I first became a mother, I thought I had to be perfect. I thought I had to have a perma-smile with all the right answers, Pinterest-worthy style and recipes, and be in constant control. I thought that if my daughter ever saw me mess up or make a mistake, then I would be a failure as a mother.

Funny thing is, I messed up a lot as a first-time mom. It’s inevitable. We are only human. But, one of the most important lessons I have learned as a mother is that our children do not need us to be perfect. They need us to love them and to love ourselves.

I am not a perfect mother, but I am perfect for my daughters.

When I was a teacher, I loved the quote, “When one teaches, two learn.” Now, as a stay-at-home mom, I have transformed that quote into, “When one loves, two grow.”

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Published on Motherly, September 6, 2018:

https://www.mother.ly/life/im-only-human-and-its-okay-if-my-kids-see-that

A Lesson in Self Control

From 2010 to 2017, my husband and I owned a CrossFit gym in California. One of the skills that eluded many was double unders with a jump rope. This is when the rope travels around you twice in one jump. Trying to master this seemingly simple skill can make any grown man drop into the fetal position and cry himself to sleep.

As a coach, I tried to emphasize the importance of relaxing and smiling when learning how to jump rope, because the second a client tensed up and got angry, the rope would punish the poor athlete with whip marks. The more you fought the rope, the more it fought back. It was a marvelous built-in lesson on patience and self-control, both physically and mentally.

Fast forward to today, and my husband and I now live in Ohio with our two girls, and one more on the way. We no longer own the gym, and I am currently a stay-at-home mom. However, the other day, I suddenly found myself re-living my coaching days with my 6-year-old daughter.

Last week, she came home with a new purple jump rope that my husband got her from the bookstore. She was very excited and eager to start practicing. After changing her shoes and quickly tying her hair in a messy ponytail, she was in the backyard gleefully practicing with her little sister cheering her on. I enjoyed about twenty minutes of mommy bliss watching her play, but then suddenly, I saw it. A rain cloud forming over her head. It got bigger and darker. With each trip up on the rope, her rain cloud grew. Finally, she had enough, and her thunderstorm broke loose. The jump rope was tossed angrily to the ground, her face was red, hands clenched, and her feet stomped into the house. “I HATE THAT ROPE! It’s stupid! That rope is mean, and it won’t work, and I don’t want it!” Hot tears streamed down her face as she slumped into a chair.

I sat down next to her and allowed a long pause before saying anything. I put my arms around her and tried to gently reason on how she is brand new to jumping rope, everyone learns at a different pace, and reminded her about all our friends at our old gym who also struggled with learning how to jump rope. Like most 6-year-olds, though, she defended herself by explaining to me how she had been practicing “forever,” though, and therefore she should have gotten it by now. I quickly realized that her reality of time and space were far too sophomoric for her to understand any of my adult explanations that I used with clients at the gym. So, I had to think of something else that a 6-year-old could relate to. Unfortunately, in that moment, I couldn’t think of anything, and we called it a loss that day.

The next day, she came home from school with a newfound enthusiasm to try again. So, she gingerly picked up that rope and started practicing. It only took her about five minutes this time to reach utter despair and hopelessness. Again, I tried reasoning and explaining to her, and again, it fell on deaf ears.

Then, I remembered a t-shirt my husband used to wear at the gym that said, “Never Double Under Angry.” I reminded my daughter about her daddy’s t-shirt, and then asked her why she thought her dad would wear that. She shrugged her shoulders in annoyance. She didn’t want to think, she just wanted me to fix it for her, and I understood. So, I explained, “Well, you see, the secret of the jump rope is that it responds to your feelings. If you get angry and tighten up all your muscles like this [Clenching my fists and making an angry face] then the rope tightens up and gets caught on your feet. That’s why you kept tripping on it, because you were mad, so the rope got mad with you. But, if you relax and smile, the rope will loosen up, too. The happier you are, the easier it is to jump rope because the rope will be happy with you.”

Her eyes gazed at the floor, and I could tell she was considering my explanation. I watched as her eyebrows started to relax, and her whole face changed back to my happy-go-lucky kid. She got it.

After a few deep breaths, a big hug, and a final statement of acceptance, she went back outside and picked up the rope. I held my breath as I watched her take that first jump. She tripped, but she took a deep breath, relaxed her shoulders, and tried again. *Swish* She made it! Her face lit up, and she looked at me with accomplishment. “Mom! Did you see that?! It worked! I stayed calm, and the rope went around me!” She did it again. Then again. And she continued to jump rope for over half an hour. By the end, she was able to do ten consecutive jumps. And, more importantly, she was smiling and enjoying the entire process.

She came inside to take a break and get a drink of water. With a big, sweaty smile, she said, “Mom, I was happy the entire time, and the rope was happy with me! We’re friends now!”

The days that followed proved to be more small victories. Every time she picked up the rope, she took a deep breath, relaxed her shoulders, and conquered her emotions.

About a week later, she was trying to fold an Origami butterfly with no success. At first, she got angry, but then quickly caught herself and said, “Mom, I wonder if the paper is like the jump rope. I feel like when I get mad, the paper is harder to fold. Maybe I should smile and try again.”

Eureka! She gets it!

The attitude we choose to have determines the experience we will have.

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The Truth About Relationships

A couple of years ago, I learned that my grandma was a pretty tough mother-in-law to my mom.  Passive-aggressive statements, undermining my mother’s authority, and just constant poking.  My mother apparently endured years of this with a smile.

Now, please don’t misunderstand and jump to any conclusions here. My grandma was an amazing woman who spoiled and loved us!  But, being a grandma and being a mother-in-law are also two very different roles, and I only have experience with one of those roles.

My two brothers, sister, and I were always oblivious to the “adult stuff” going on around us.  We didn’t care.  We just wanted to have fun with grandma, drink her orange sodas, eat her cookies, learn piano from her, and play pool in her basement.

My mother never let on that there were ever any conflicts.  In hindsight, however, I do have memories that make way more sense now.  There were many times my mother would tell us to do something, like pick up our toys, and my grandma would chime in with a rebuttal like, “Oh, they can play for 10 minutes and then I’ll clean it up so they can go get ice cream with Gary (my father).” Grandma for the win.

There were countless times that my grandma “saved us” from our mother’s orders.  Grandma could do no wrong in our eyes!  I always chose to sit next to her, ride in her car, stay behind with her, hold hands with her, help her with the dishes, etc.

Grandma was always winning the popularity contest.

And, now I realize my mom let her win, for us.

For so many, many years, my mother put her ego and pride at bay so that we could have happy memories of our grandma.  I will always be thankful for that.

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I don’t know what happened behind closed doors all those years.  I don’t know everything that my grandma ever said to my mother, or even about her.  I don’t know if my mother ever talked back or confronted the issue.

I don’t know their story.  Their relationship.

So, I can only write about the memories I have, the little bit my mother shared with me a couple of years ago, and come to this conclusion…

Your relationship with someone is your own unique experience, and no one else will have the same feelings as you.  The way in which you react and believe a relationship to be with someone is yours, and yours alone.

It doesn’t matter who else knows it or believes it to be, nor does it even have much validation, because their relationship with that same person is very different than yours.

I could try to make assumptions and conclusions about my mother and grandma, and concoct a great story to put my mother in a good light, and my grandma in a bad one.  I could embellish my memories in favor of my mother.  Or, maybe I want to glamorize my grandma, instead, so I could twist everything to make it look like my mother was just jealous.

I have a very powerful opportunity right now…

How I decide to write this story will greatly determine how you decide to judge my mother and grandma.  And then, you may even talk with a friend sometime about this story, and embellish it even more to make it sound the way you either interpreted my story, or how you want my story to sound in order to get a great emotional reaction out of your friend.

After all, telling a story where your friend gives you a “meh” response is really lackluster, so why not make it worthwhile for both of you?!

Bottom line, don’t talk about other people’s relationships, especially with other people. And, don’t make judgments and assumptions.

You have no idea.

You only know the things you are told by others, and the way in which you “see” things yourself.  But, you do not know their relationship the way that they know it.

I have another very important choice here…

Now knowing that my grandma was rude to my mom, do I completely dismiss all of the wonderful memories of my grandma, and suddenly view her as a bad person? I could. I could decide that grandma was actually a deceitful bitch, and she was only doing those nice things for us to get under my mom’s skin. I could question every intention of my late grandma., and start to paint a completely different picture.

Or, I could see it as two women who, despite their feelings for each other, both wanted the best for us kids, and made the best of the situation to give us great memories.

I really don’t know the relationship between my mother and grandma.  Only they know how that went down.  I do know, though, that both of them loved us more than life itself.

I also know that both of them were just doing what they felt was the best for us at the time.

My grandma wanted to spoil us rotten and let us be wild, happy kids.  My mother wanted us to have a great childhood, which including having an awesome grandma.

I am thankful for them both.

My biggest take-away from all of this was that we are all allowed to have our own relationships and realities with others. Let others have their relationships, and you have yours.

What you experience with my husband, for example, may be extremely negative, and therefore you conclude that I married an asshole, and he must be a jerk of a dad. However, my experience with my husband is that he is a fun-loving father with a plethora of classic dad jokes, a supportive husband, and very hard-working man who can build a gorgeous wood staircase from scratch.

You see, just because YOU don’t like my husband based off of YOUR experiences with him, that does NOT mean that that is who he is to everyone, everywhere, everyday. Your negative experience with my husband was YOUR experience. Not mine. And, not for many, many others.

This does not, however, take away from your experience with my husband, though. The two of you may very well not get along at all, and he may have even hurt your feelings in some way because of your differences. That is your reality.

But, what we all need to start to realize and accept is that each relationship is unique, and just because we may have experienced something with someone, it does NOT mean that that is the ONLY experience a person is capable of having with the rest of the world.

And, if you ever hear of a negative experience from someone about a friend or family member of yours, don’t be so quick to forget all of your positive experiences with that person.

While reviews of others can be helpful in some situations, and give us fair warnings from time to time, take it all with a grain of salt and an open heart.

Yes, some assholes really are assholes. However, most people are actually good, and just have a bad experience with one or two specific people. After all, we are all human.

Allow each other to be more human with one another.

And, allow each other to have our own unique experiences with the world. Let people learn and do better next time with the next person.

Maybe your negative experience with someone will be the inspiration he/she needs to change for the better.

Give them that chance for change.

Give each other a chance.

What Love Is… And Is Not

For years, I have carried a heavy burden on my shoulders.

I have a difficult time making friends with women. I have deep seeded trust issues and insecurities surrounding relationships with them. They stem from past shitty experiences. A classic Psychology case study.

What I am starting to realize in my late 30’s, though, is that I have mistakenly associated friendship with back-stabbing, lying, manipulation, jealousy, and deceit. I see friendship with women as a trap, a set up for failure.

I have formed a negative image of girlfriends in my mind, and have believed it for too long.

This is why I struggle to form new friendships.

The truth is, friendship is NOT lying and manipulating each other. It is not being jealous and competing with each other. Those things are different. My problem is that I’ve been confusing these things AS friendships, though. Hence my hesitations to start any new friendships with women.

I think a lot of us make this mistake without even realizing it.

It’s why we say things like, “Love sucks! Marriage stinks! I never want to date another man/woman again!”

Love, in all forms, is love. Yes, it IS as simple as that.

When someone lies to you, cheats on you, hits you, verbally abuses you, they are NOT loving you. That is NOT love. That is not friendship. Nor is it marriage or dating, or any of those other positive relationships.

Those are red flags, warning signs, and issues that need to be addressed. Those are wake up calls, boundary testing, and character checking.

Love does NOT hurt. Lies hurt.

Love does NOT suck. Cheating sucks.

Unfortunately, in order to have a happy marriage, a great friendship, a functional relationship of any kind, we have to sort out and filter the bad. We have to face lies, deceit, bad words, manipulation, and pain.

Those are the challenges that teach us what we want, what we need, and what we deserve in a relationship.

It is how we find true love and friendships that last a lifetime.

We have to know pain to appreciate love.

Just don’t mix up the two as one and the same.

As I shift my perspective, I find myself much more open to women in general, and a newfound excitement for friendships that I’ve been robbing myself of for so long.

When we allow love to happen to us, and deal with pain as a tool towards building a quality of life, we are no longer jaded or bitter.

Love is love.

liam_neeson_lovequote

Change The Water

Every moment of everyday, we choose our reactions, where we focus our attention, how we feel, and what we do. Whether we realize it or not (Or even want to admit), we are constantly making choices.

A choice is what we have complete control over. However, we often muddle it with excuses and outside forces. We allow others to make our choices for us. We trap ourselves in boundaries and limitations. We rationalize and justify our own bullshit.

Depending on the stories we tell ourselves, and the realities we believe in, our choices are being made second by second within those beliefs.

So, what is it you are telling yourself everyday?

What is your story?

I’m 38 years old, and depending on who you ask, I could be considered young, middle aged, or old. Haha!

I just consider myself lucky, though.

However, I still have yet to write a book, which is something I have talked about pretty much all of my life. I love writing and reading. They have always been a passion and favorite pass-time of mine.

So, why haven’t I written a book yet?!

Because of the bullshit story I keep telling myself.

Somewhere along the way, a few people told me I couldn’t do it, or it would be too hard, too frustrating, too impossible. Despite the majority encouraging me, I believed the few, and have since talked myself out of writing my book for decades.

Ooooh, self-sabotage.

Here is MY reality – I have a deep-seeded fear of trying and working hard on my dreams, because I have been destroyed in the past. My most recent devastation was a few years ago when I ambitiously went back to school to become a Chiropractor. It was the first time in too many years that I went for greatness. And, not even three months into my new adventure, it was all ripped out of my arms by people I trusted and loved.

Life has a shitty way of teaching us lessons sometimes. But, within those painful experiences, there are always beautiful outcomes if we look for them.

Had I not been forced into that difficult situation, and had not left Chiropractic school, I would not have my second daughter today, nor my third that is on the way!

My girls are my daily reminder of gratitude.

Despite all of my gratitude, though, I still keep telling myself the same story about writing a book – “It’s too hard. I’ll get rejected too many times. It will take too long. It will never be a best-seller. I’m too busy with the girls. I need a real job. Why put all that work into something that won’t pay off?!”

What is even worse is that I am completely aware of the bullshit story, and what I can do to change it, yet I continue to soak in the same dirty water.

It’s time to drain the water, scrub the tub, and start a new bubble bath!

There is a disturbing truth in mediocrity – It’s safe, comfortable, and predictable. Sitting in the same dirty bath water, I know exactly what to expect.

We find comfort in knowing. It’s why as children, we love patterns and re-reading the same picture books. It’s why as teenagers, we repeat our mistakes and date the same losers. And, it’s why as adults, we stay in our shitty jobs and drink our deep feelings away.

Never writing my book, I can safely continue to talk about it and dream. The act of NOT writing my book (Because even inaction is in and of itself an act of choice) allows me the comforts of security, while pretending to seek out greatness.

I can make everyone else think that I am trying, even myself.

It is a ridiculous truth that so many of us play. Admit it.

C’mon, tell me your dreams. Your real ambitions. What do you really want to do? What have you thought about for years and years, and have just kept pushing into the background?

What scares and excites you at the same time?

Write down your bullshit story, from beginning to end, and then burn it.

Choose.

Decide to work for it.

Just start, and adjust the sails as the winds change.

I’m going to start to write my book.

I might die before I finish it. It may never get published. I might get rejected hundreds of times. There will probably be days when I write a ton, and then weeks when I can’t think of a single word to write. Nothing may come from my book. Or, maybe everything will. Maybe it will become a national best-seller. Maybe someday, I will see my book in the public library and bookstore.

Endless possibilities.

The one and only thing I know for sure, though, is that the process itself – The actual writing of the book, is what I will enjoy most.

All too often, we worry more about the outcome, when really, it’s the process, the journey that matters most.

We can’t know how it will end. We have no control over that. We can certainly give ourselves better odds, but never a guarantee. So, we might as well enjoy the journey itself along the way to whatever is going to happen.

If we don’t enjoy the journey, then there is even more pressure for a positive outcome, and an even bigger setup for disappointment. Everything starts to rely on that one outcome we seek.

We start to believe that the outcome is going to give it all meaning, when really it’s the PROCESS that gives it meaning. No matter the outcome, the act of working on your passion and dream is what living your life is all about.

I am going to write a book because I love to write and share it with others. NOT because I want to become a best-seller and make millions. Obviously, those would be incredible outcomes, however, those are not my reasons. Those are not meaningful to me. I am not passionate about fame and fortune. I am passionate about writing and connecting with other human beings through my writing.

So, here we go.

Let’s start writing a book!

The bubble bath is starting, and I’m soaking my feet in new water. Ahhhhh! 🙂