Thursday, October 23, 2014

Patience with others

As a mother my patience with my children often grows too thin, I know, I'm really unique, but my five year old has a way of teaching me how to be a little more understanding of her five-year-old perspective.

She's been afraid of the dark for as long as I can remember, and lately I haven't had much patience with her. I become annoyed when she screams in the dark, or when she insists on sleeping with her door open, even though she has two night lights and shares the room with her sister. I struggle to understand her fear, when night after night she sleeps safely in the dark, right next door to her mommy and daddy. I try to rationalize with her, to prove that her fear is baseless, and I tell her at some point she needs to just get over it. Then one evening after the millionth time of attempting to reason, the following conversation occurred:

Hannah: Mommy, what are you afraid of?
Me: Dead bodies.
Hannah: Well, how would you feel if you had to sleep in a room full of dead bodies?

I had no response, because clearly I would be absolutely terrified and nobody would be able to talk sense into me about why I shouldn't be scared to sleep in a room full of dead bodies. Nobody would be able to quell that fear for me. No amount of reasoning could be used to make grown up me feel good in that situation, so how did I expect my five year old to feel safe.

Later on, we came across the image of Heath Ledger's Joker. I'm confident she's never seen The Dark Knight, she's hardly watched anything beyond PBS, but she said to me, "Mom, that's the guy who comes in my dreams!" I was shocked, I didn't know what to do. She said a similar thing while walking down the Halloween aisle at Walmart when we came across a cluster of scary masks. She pointed out a scary clown mask and said, "Oh, what is his name? He's the guy from my dreams!"

Well no wonder she's terrified.

All too often we tend to dismiss others fears and pain, just because they seem silly and irrational to us. If we were to examine our fears through the eyes of another, we may find them silly and irrational too, but all of us have fears and hopes. We all experience dread and desire. We need to learn to have patience with those around us, even though, perhaps especially because, they are different.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On Dating an Early Adopter

Creative Commons image from Flickr user Brad Frost
My boyfriend loves the latest. The latest what? Yes, exactly. The latest everything.

Health tracker?


Social media platform?
     Yes. (Don’t ask me why I still have a Foursquare account...I didn’t want it in the first place.)

Gaming system?

I, on the other hand, am not an early adopter (in my work life, yes; in my personal life, nope). Let’s just put it this way: I watch Matlock. I still have a TV/VHS player combo. I love vinyl albums. I still wear t-shirts from high school.  It took me 6 month, maybe even 9 months, to update my cell phone to the last operating system, and now you want me to do it again?!

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy and appreciate progress. I definitely do! It’s just that I don’t like unexpected problems popping up… Let me break it down.


  • Bugs! Software glitches. Errors. Lost files. Frozen screens. Inaccurate navigation maps. No thanks. Not until you work the glitches out. See you in 3 years, new iOS. 
  • Recalls. How annoying is it to just get started with something only to have to send it back for a replacement, repair, or refund? Why not just wait for the updated version to come out? 
  • Money. New things are expensive (whether it’s financial or time to figure it out--both of which are very valuable). I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to buy something without having the cash in hand, and I like knowing that what I’m buying is going to be valuable, useful, durable, and something I’ll appreciate for a long time. Sometimes these new technology pieces are just fads. I wait it out. 
  • I drop things. I'm not proud of it. New things tend to be fragile. See previous bullet point about things being expensive. 
  • My boyfriend often tells me “You should start using this” or “Why aren’t you on this?” or “I think you’d really like this” or “If you had this then you could just do ….” Very considerate, but just because he likes something doesn’t mean I’m going to like it. Plus, I’m stubborn sometimes. 
  • I’m trying to simplify, reduce clutter, and appreciate what I already have. Why add another device to the pile, or another app to juggle or waste more memory? 


  • He helps me know what the latest thing is so I know what the heck I’m reading about on Mashable. 
  • I get to enjoy the benefits of new technology without having to deal with having it myself. Want to try out this app? No problem, I’ll just use his phone/tablet/television/all-the-things to learn my skills so that by the time I update/new purchase whatever it is I’m actually capable of using it right away! 
  • He and the technology developers (I suppose they get some credit here) get all the bugs worked out by the time I work up the energy or desire to update my technology. Fewer annoying glitches! 
  • It all balances out and eventually I stop being stubborn if I feel like the technology is actually something I could/should use. 
  • He gets really excited, and I love seeing him get really excited. Enthusiasm is attractive. 

So, while we don’t exactly have the same approach to this aspect of life, it all seems to work out. How about you? What's your take on early adoption? What about times when you and your partner's differences compliment each other?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dealing with gut wrenching guilt

When I was around eight years old I was invited to Jenny McMillan's birthday party. When you are eight, birthday parties are the social events of the year, and being invited to one can make or break your social status. I've always been a social butterfly, and I wanted to go. I was excited. Except, Jenny's birthday was July 1st. The same day as my dad's.
I have a great dad, and you can clearly see, I am his favorite. 
I was torn. Should I go to my friend's birthday party, who was only sort of my friend from church (a whole grade older than me! The honor!) or should I stay with my dad an attend whatever small family gathering my mom had planned (a family picnic). To this day, more than twenty years later, I can still recall what a major dilemma it was. I'm sure I made a mental pros and cons list, though I had no idea what a pros and cons list actually was at the time. My dad left it "up to me" he said was going to be fine either way. Knowing my dad, I'm sure he said something like, "You're going to go to a friend's birthday instead of spending time with your dad?" And I'm sure he would have made the comment in jest. I decided to go to Jenny's party.

From the moment I climbed into the back of her parent's truck, I KNEW I'd made the wrong decision. Part of me thinks that the birthday was held somewhere up a canyon or something, but I could be wrong, because all I could think about was how I must have let my dad down. I had to have hurt his feelings. Could he possibly have a happy birthday without me? Did he feel rejected? How could I, his oldest, not to mention FAVORITE child have betrayed him in such a way? I was wallowing so much that one of Jenny's parents offered to take me back home, but then I'd be ruining TWO birthday parties and I don't think my little heart could have taken it.

Guilt is a funny thing. It lingers with you, eating away at your gut. Guilt has it's purposes, but I also think that guilt is very often self inflicted and unnecessary. It can render us utterly useless. We need to learn to cope with guilt in healthy ways so that we can learn from it, but not allow it to overtake us. Some things that have helped me deal with guilt are:

1) Recognize it for what it is, don't ignore it. If I face my guilt head on, it allows me to acknowledge my mistake, and I'm able to deal with it quicker and easier.

2) Own up to it. If the guilt is induced because a mistake has been made, instead of making excuses, apologize for what you've done. I must have apologized half a dozen times to my dad, who could see I was torn up about what I'd done. To him, it wasn't a big deal, but he could see the way I was being affected by it, and he readily forgave me. In my experience, when you sincerely apologize, most of the time it's hard for the person not to forgive you.

3) Recognize your own limitations. Sometimes the guilt we feel comes from the feeling of not being enough. It's okay to have limitations, and we shouldn't necessarily feel guilty for having them. Recently I was asked to bring a meal to a neighbor who had just had a baby. I was 38 weeks pregnant and my husband had just had knee surgery. Initially I said yes, because I felt like saying no would be a betrayal. My husband gently reminded me that I couldn't even cook for my own family, let alone someone elses. I initially felt guilty, but then I recognized my own limitations and I forgave myself.

4) Accept the mistake that was made, and move on. This one's a toughy. As the saying goes, sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. The lasting memory of my first experience with true guilt over potentially hurting my dad's feelings has obviously stayed with me for many years, but I've learned through my many other experiences with guilt that unless you accept that you cannot change your mistake, only make restitution and move on. The quicker we develop this skill, the easier life will be.

5) Turn the guilt into a positive learning experience. Do you think I thought a little harder about my choices the next time I was faced with one? You bet. Especially knowing my choices could have potentially negative consequences for another person.

Guilt is a part of life, and knowing how to deal with it is a skill we must continually master our entire lives. We need to deal with it quickly, and be quick to forgive ourselves if we are truly penitent.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On Scheduling Everything

I am lost without my calendar.
Creative Commons image from Flickr user photosteve101
I sync my work calendar to my personal calendar and then do a weekly calendar overview of important events with my boyfriend and add some of his events to my calendar. 

I have birthday reminders, and reminders a little before that to mail the birthday card for the upcoming birthday. I schedule so many things: classes, reminders to go get groceries or pick up a package at UPS after work, rehearsals, birthdays (friends, family, friends’ kids, coworkers, boyfriend’s family), weddings, anniversaries, date nights, book clubs (plural…), workout schedules, game nights, family visits, reminders to write these blog posts… Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and redundant.

At some point I realized that I was forgetting to “schedule” down time. Time where I don’t have to rush from one thing to the next. Time where it’s about being and not going. Time where I’m not constantly looking at my calendar or waiting for the next ding from my phone reminding me to get somewhere on time.

It’s easy to let that unstructured time suddenly fill with something. “Well, technically I am free then, so I could go…” or “I feel bad saying no if I’m not really doing anything then…” And so, I resolve to be more diligent about intentionally scheduling down time. That may likely mean I need to literally type it into my calendar, because, if it’s written on the calendar it’s a nice reminder that, yes, I do have plans then. My plans include reading, laundry, cooking real food for the first time all week, filing paid bills away, balancing my checkbook, pretending like it’s normal to have a big 75 lb. sandbag sitting along the wall of my kitchen all spring/summer because I don’t have a garage and I know winter is just weeks away again (*sigh*)… Or none of that.

Maybe just sitting, napping, thinking, being.

How do you step away from constantly going?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Recommended Friends

In the fall of 2008 I was nearing the end of my undergrad degree at UNLV. I enrolled in Children's Literature, which not only filled a requirement, but quickly became my favorite class. On the first day of class, the professor told a story of her summer in Chautauqua where she spent part of her time wrapped up in the Twilight series.

As she was talking, I began feeling itchy. It's the kind of itch that comes when I want to talk to someone about a book that we both love. This woman was intelligent and intimidating, so I didn't want to approach her and look like this eager teachers-pet-wannabe. But at the same time, Twilight. (Listen, I'm going to stop you right there before you judge was 2008 and everyone was obsessed with the phenomenon that was Twilight.)

The urge to gush about my favorite book de jour overcame my fear of approaching said teacher and once the class was over I went over and started to talk about Edward Cullen. We had a quick chat and I left feeling slightly embarrassed. This conversation, however, led to more conversations about Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, and pretty soon it was evident that we were going to be good friends.

As it turned out, Twilight wasn't the only book we bonded over. In fact, she is one of the few people in my daily life who share my intense passion for reading, writing, words, etc. Six years later we are still good friends, recommending books, and walking through life together.

Have you ever had a book recommend a friend?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Well, Maybe You Just Needed Washing

Sometimes the big things are put into perspective by the little things. 
Enjoy this short film, Light Rain