Friday, May 20, 2016

Are we Republicans or Democrats?

"Mom...  are we Republicans or Democrats?"

I looked up to see my teenage daughter, scrolling through her phone, but with an expectant look that waited for my answer.

I thought for a moment about what to say. "We aren't either. Your political beliefs get to be your own... and what I believe could even be different from what Dad does.  Yours don't have to be mine. That's kind of the beauty of it."

Her wrinkled nose told me that she wanted the easy answer, and maybe not so much the true one.

"Look," I said. "I don't think it's my job to tell you what your beliefs should be. I think it's my job to help you find what they are -- and to teach you to have the compassion and kindness to be able to understand why someone else might believe differently, and to not be cruel to them because of it."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kicking People Pleasing to the Curb (a little more)

Tackling my propensity to people-please is not new. It seems I've been struggling with it for years.

Just last year, I made "People Pleasing" my habit to give up for Lent. I'm not sure that I really made any giant changes -- though I did end up giving myself permission to re-order my own world. To put myself in a position where I would be less aware of things (or sometimes people) that irritated or hurt me.

I think the greatest value of it was that I really dug into the reasons behind my need to people please -- or more accurately, my insistence on letting other people's opinions matter so much -- and I began to understand it a little more -- and to get accustomed to the idea and the belief that not everyone's opinions had to matter.

Which put me in a great place for the next step of the journey.

A friend recommended the book, The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, by Sarah Knight,... and I'm really glad I picked it up.  I know some of you are likely turned off by the title... and honestly, if language is something that you can't take, this isn't the book for you.  Girl uses the F-word more often than I use the word, "the." No, I'm serious.

She talks a bit about not caring what other people think of you -- but I was glad that I had walked down that road myself last year.  She kind of glosses over the "how" or the "why"... and is just sort of flamboyantly 'Do it!'  I'm the kind of person who needs to understand WHY doing something or letting go of something is so hard  -- so I was okay with the glossing, but grateful that I had already done that work.

Where the value of the book really came in for me was sitting and deciding what things I wanted to care about... and what things I just didn't.  She walks you through four different categories of things that you give your time, energy, and money to -- you sit down and you really think through what you care about, and what you actually don't.

This sounds simple... but it was a lot harder than I had anticipated.  At first, it was hard to think of things -- and I honestly think that it's because we're not trained to do it.  We're trained to grin and bear. We're trained not to make a fuss. We're trained to not rock the boat, to go along. I was surprised at how many things there were that I usually said, "Well... it's not that bad... so I'll just do it." Once I learned to recognize that, I began to see all the places that I did it, and it came a little easier.

And then, you give yourself permission to let those things go -- to say, "it's totally okay that I don't care about this... and I'm not going to be mean, but I'm not going to let myself get roped into pretending anymore either."

So far... this has been really freeing. Maybe it's been only small things so far, but I feel like I have more emotional energy.

I spoke to someone that hates me.  And I didn't die.

I didn't forward a chain letter.... And I had no guilt.

I swore off all Pampered Chef/Candles/Leggings/Whatever parties.

I find I'm talking to myself a lot, and saying... "You know... you don't actually have to bother with this."

I let go of a lot more... but I am finding that the more I let go, the more room I find for the things that I really do care about -- and suddenly, those things have homes again.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

An Open Letter to Ryan Kelly

... as dictated, via Skype

Dear Mr Kelly... RK... Ryan... Dad?  I'm not really sure what to call you.  (Editor's Note: At this point, the interviewee made some sort of pant-y slurpy sound. Interpret as you will.)

Can we talk?  I feel like we need to talk. Honestly, I had high hopes for this relationship.  

Maybe I should start over.

This is Larry.  Your dog. The one you abandon for weeks at a time to go traipse around the world and be fawned over. We need to have a chat.  Not about the abandoning.. it's really pretty sweet at your folks' house. I'm good with all that.

It's something else...  I'm a Boston Terrier.  We are a small breed - in stature -- but just barely escape the fate of a purse-dog by looking a little bit like someone smashed our faces in with a 2 x 4.  That's not an insult.  It's that or "purse dog."  We'll take the smashed face.  Smashed face makes us a MAN DOG. It's cool.

Like I said, I had high hopes. By all appearances, you seemed to have all the necessary parts to make Man/Man-Dog relationship work to its optimum peak.

It started out well...  but then, things began to change.  I should have clued into it earlier... but I thought it was just one of your weird phases. Like when you were into Spice Girls.  Or Star Wars.  

That might be a bad example.

I'm starting to question that whole "necessary parts" thing. First, it was a Celtics jersey.  That wasn't so bad... I thought it was a one-time thing. "He could change!" I said.  But then, it was another. And another. There was a Yoda costume. Seriously, what is wrong with you? Are you 12?  

A coat. (I have a coat.  It's called fur.) Shoes.  Shoes.  SHOES.  SHOES!!!!!!!!  I have more clothes than you do, for god's sake.

I am a DOG.  I am a MAN DOG. MAN DOGs do not get dressed up! And for all that's good and holy, certainly not in shoes. Look, I know you love me -- and because I know that, I'm coming to you.  

Sir, they are taking away my Man Dog Card.  You should hear the mockery at the park. You think that's friendly barking from the other dogs?? I assure you, it is not. YOU MADE ME INTO A CALENDAR. You try living that down at Poker Night!!!!!

I'm starting to get emotional.  It's just...  It's just a little embarrassing, that's all.  And by "a little embarrassing," I mean, "DEAR GOD, MAKE IT STOP!!!!!!"

I am not above chewing all your basketball trophies.  Well, or that one.

*Interviewee sighs.. long long whimpering sigh*  

Look, I will see you when you get home from Australia. Any souvenirs better the heck be something I can chew on or there will be hell to pay. Running shoes can easily substitute. 

You've been warned.

Take care,

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