All Of the Things I Am Not – Leading With the Negative

There are countless things that I am not:

  • A good cook
  • Patient
  • Nurturing
  • Good with directions
  • Wealthy
  • Able to hide my emotions
  • A good housekeeper
  • Responsible with money

…the list goes on.  I recently found myself not only recounting all of the things I’m not to someone, but also focusing on them, in a negative way, in my own time.  What’s that about!?  That is not productive behavior and it is certainly not Owning It!

Yes, there are many things that I am not, and there are many things that I can’t do (I can’t slam dunk a basketball, I can’t bake a Martha Stewart worthy wedding cake, I can’t sculpt a masterpiece out of clay…) but who cares about that stuff?  Why am I not thinking about, and focusing on, all of the things that I AM?  I am a good friend, a caring person, a hard worker, strong, determined, successful, funny, honest, trustworthy…those are great qualities!  Why am I focusing on things like the fact that I can’t cook?  Why is that what I tell people?  Why do we so often lead with the negatives?

Let me ask you a question.  When someone pays you a compliment, what do you do? What is your first reaction?  Is it to shrug it off, downplay it, or deny it?  Be honest.  I know those are my first reactions.  “You look really nice in that dress, Annie.”  My response should be “Thank you!” but instead it’s an insecure look down, or in a mirror, and a shrug, an eye roll, and a comment about some insecurity, “Oh, it makes my hips look wide.”  Good god, why do so many of us do this?  Does this go back to the crazy beauty standards we see thrown at us every day?  Or is it that we don’t want to appear arrogant or conceited?  Either way, it’s messed up!  “You look really nice in that dress,” does NOT mean I should immediately compare myself to the model I saw wearing the dress in an ad.  Do I look like the model?  No.  Does that mean the dress doesn’t look nice on me?  NO.  Saying “Thank you,” to that compliment does not mean I’m conceited and think that I look better than anyone else.  It means that I took the time to choose this dress and put it on because at some point, I liked the way it felt and looked, and the fact that someone is acknowledging what I kind of already hoped to be true anyway should be met with gratitude, not self-deprecation.

Do you notice it when you talk to your friends?  Do you notice yourself dong it?  Do you notice your friends doing it?  How do you feel when you tell your friend she looks great and she rolls her eyes and says something negative?

Why do we lead with the negatives?  Why do we think that we should hide our confidence?  These are terrible habits that get in the way of each one of you being able to Own Your You.  Owning who you are and embracing who you are does not take away from anyone else.  So often we shortchange ourselves in order to make sure others have enough (any moms out there – you KNOW I’m talking to you!) but the rest of us often do it too.  It’s important to us that our friends and family have enough – enough whatever it is at that point in time – and so we sometimes hold back, take less, give more, etc. to ensure others are not wanting.  That’s ok, in moderation, but I believe that it flows over into things like this and starts affecting our confidence.

Have you ever heard, or said, something like “Yeah, I can do that, but Jess does it better,” or “Thanks, I do like this dress, but Sara’s really got the legs for it, not me.”  These are both examples of us trying to still give more to our friends and family.  Give more praise, give more credit…more something.  Maybe Sara does have legs that would look great in that dress, and maybe Jess does have skill at something that you also do, but does accepting compliments on YOUR stuff diminish them in any way?  No.  Does Jess do X any less well because you acknowledged that you did a good job at it?  No.  Do Sara’s legs look any less fantastic because you accepted a compliment on a dress that she isn’t even wearing?  NO!  Let’s stop this madness, friends.  We are all allowed to do well, be good at something, feel good about ourselves…this does not diminish or take away from anyone else around us.

Let’s break these habits.  Let’s tell the world about all of the things we ARE and all of the things we CAN do.  Let’s put on our favorite outfit and Own It!

Settling. Stop doing it!  Find the love you deserve!

I’d like to address an epidemic in our society.  An epidemic of settling.  People seem to settle for everything.  It starts off with something small, but that sets the stage for more settling.

Have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered your meal and gotten something not exactly what you ordered?  Have you ever just accepted it – settled for it – and eaten it because it was easier and less disruptive than sending it back?  Probably.  I mean, if you are a vegetarian and they brought you a steak, I would assume that you’d send that piece of flesh back to the kitchen, or if you are allergic to dairy and they bring you big plate of cheese fries, I assume that heaping plate of gooey goodness went straight back.  But if it’s just a little off – like you didn’t want artichoke hearts in your salad but it came with artichoke hearts anyway – are you just going to pick them out (or even just eat them) because it’s less hassle than sending it back?  I think chances are good that many of you – me included! – will just eat, or pick out, the artichoke hearts and move on with our meal.

Guess what just happened?  We just settled for something that we didn’t really want – it was close to what we wanted, what we deserved (since we’re paying for it!), but not quite there.

Big deal, you may be saying to yourself.  Pick out the damn artichoke hearts and let it go!  Yes, I see your point, it’s just one salad, it’s just a few artichoke hearts.  But artichoke hearts may be the gateway drug to settling for bigger things.  Think about it: what else have you settled for?  Have you ever REALLY wanted to do something, say, go on a scuba diving vacation to the Florida Keys?  And you suggest the idea to someone (best friend, significant other, whoever your go-to travel partner is) and they’re on board and they’re excited and you start planning this fantastic scuba diving vacation.  And then, somewhere during the planning, they discover that scuba diving is a little more expensive than they had expected and they actually can’t afford that, but how about you guys just go parasailing one day and chill out on the beach the other days?  What do you do now?  You’re already in the middle of planning this trip, you’ve picked dates, you’ve booked flights, your travel partner is excited…and, I mean, you still get to take a vacation and go to the Keys and sitting on the beach sounds really good, and parasailing looks like a lot of fun…so do you settle for this vacation?  It’s a great vacation but it’s not what you wanted, what you planned on.  But, settling for this vacation will make your travel partner happy and, sure, you could go scuba diving by yourself, but you wanted to share it with someone and you don’t really want to just leave your friend alone while you go do that…so, you convince yourself that this vacation is good enough and you go.  And you have a good time.  But you don’t go scuba diving.  You don’t get out of it what you wanted to get out of it.  You settled.

Over time, we’ve learned that settling is just part of life.  You compromise, you make trade-offs.  You sometimes settle for things that aren’t exactly what you want because, hey, life isn’t perfect!  And eventually that translates into settling in your relationships.  And eventually you wake up 5 or 10 years into a relationship wondering how you got there and how you ended up with this person who doesn’t actually make your heart skip a beat, who doesn’t actually meet your needs, who you aren’t actually happy with.  You ended up there because you slowly started settling.

Here’s the one line bullet-point summary of this entire (extremely long) post:

  • Stop Settling!

You have a checklist.  It’s ok to admit that, everyone has one.  It doesn’t have to be a long, specific, overly-detailed thing, but there are things, qualities, characteristics that you look for, that are important to you.  Your list may include things like: must be kind, compassionate, love kids, be loyal, have a sense of humor, love to cook, want to see the world, love to read, be from a big family…whatever is important to you.

Then you meet someone.  There’s a spark.  You seem to hit it off.  You find out that Honey is an only child.  Ok, so what?  That’s not a big deal.  You cross “be from a big family” off your list, I mean, after all, it’s not like Honey has any control over that!  Things go along and you get involved and start leaving toothbrushes and pajamas at each other’s place.  You find out that Honey hates to read and never read anything except for work emails.  Huh.  Ok, I mean, that’s not a big deal, really.  So you’ll talk to your friends about the books and articles you’ve been reading and find interesting.  It’s not like you guys have to like ALL of the same things.  Now you’re really involved, you’re practically living together.  Things are great.  You don’t go to all of your family’s gatherings because Honey gets overwhelmed by all of the siblings and cousins and general familial chaos.  But that’s fine, I mean, you can see your family whenever and they do hold a lot of get-togethers, what’s the big deal if you don’t go to ALL of them for the whole day?  Eventually you and Honey tie the knot.  This is great!  This is everything you wanted!  Well, except for the things you don’t really share with Honey because Honey doesn’t really like those things…but everything ELSE is great!  For your honeymoon you go…nowhere, because Honey doesn’t actually like to travel and has no interest in seeing the world.

Do you see where I’m going?  I’m guessing one day you wake up and realize that Honey isn’t actually the one for you.  You settled without even realizing it.  I’m guessing Honey stopped giving you butterflies somewhere around the time you first took them to a family event and they didn’t like it.  And you justified that because who really gets the butterfly thing after the first few dates, anyway? Right?

Does any of this sound familiar?

Guess what?  You deserve better!  You deserve someone who meets your needs, who gives you butterflies, who has the traits and characteristics that are important to you.

In order to find this person you have to do ONE thing:  Love yourself first.  When you love yourself, you know your worth and you know that you deserve all of the things you want.  You love yourself enough to NOT settle for less.

Love yourself, fill your life with what you love, make the plans you want, live the life YOU want.

Your true love is out there.  Your true love isn’t someone who will complete you.  Your true love isn’t someone who will fill in the emptiness in your life.  Your true love isn’t someone who will save you from anything.  Your true love is someone who will complement you and will fit into the full life you’ve already built for yourself.

I know this is a lot of words, and a lot to take in, so I’ll wrap it up with this, your challenge:  think about what you want, what you love, what you need.  Start building THAT life.  Start thinking about how to build YOUR life.

It might be scary, it might be overwhelming.  Start with something small.  Do you always go to a certain restaurant even though you don’t really like it just because it’s familiar or your friends or partner love it?  Find a restaurant YOU love and go there.  That’s simple.  You can do that.  Build on that.  Find the things that you love, that bring you joy, and do them!

It may be a slow process, but it will be worth it.  You deserve to love your life.  When you have built the life you want, your true love, the person who will complement you and fit into your already-full life will turn up.  You won’t even have to look for them.  They’ll just be there.

True love.  It’s out there and you deserve it.  In order to find it, you have to Own Your You, love yourself, and live YOUR life.

I Believe in Love…But is it Really Attainable?

I’ve been thinking a lot about love recently.  It turns out I have a lot of ideas about it and I’ve been preventing myself from truly experiencing it, too.  Who knew!?

Love.  Is there anything more powerful in the world?  I really don’t think there is.  We all know that countless songs, books, movies, and plays have been written about love.  Without love, what would people write about?  What would teenage girls gossip and dream about?  Love has brought people together and driven people apart.  Love has created alliances and started wars.  Love continues to be what millions of people spend a lot of time and energy seeking.  Love is a multi-billion dollar industry – think about the cards Hallmark wants you to send, the online dating sites that want to help you find love…the entire wedding industry.  Billions and billions of dollars are spent by people seeking or celebrating love.

It’s true, millions of people spend a lot of energy seeking love.  Either because they truly believe in the magic of it, or because they feel that finding love will complete them and fill their voids (obviously, this is NOT the reason to look for love, and in fact, you can’t actually find love if these are your reasons – but that’s another topic for another rant post.)

It’s also true that millions of people take love for granted, or (claim that they) generally don’t believe in love.  For some it may just be the image they want to project, for others it is likely a defense mechanism because for some reason they don’t feel worthy of love.  They may tell you that this is complete bull, but I’d be willing to bet that in the vast majority of people who claim that they don’t believe in love are really just wounded souls trying to protect themselves.

Just as we are surrounded with society’s version of beauty (you can read my thoughts on that insanity here) we are also surrounded with society’s version of love.  And, as it is with beauty, society’s version of love is IMPOSSIBLE!  We are fed all of these stories of happily ever after loves.  I’m not even talking about the Disney Princess happily ever afters that get people all fired up.  I’m talking about all of the other happily ever afters we are supposed to believe in.  There are some pretty high standards being set by Hollywood and the like.  Has your Significant Other ever run through an airport to declare their undying love for you?  Probably not (maybe only because of all of the security measures that exist these days).  Has your SO ever broken out in song in a very public manner to express his/her feelings towards you?  Probably not.  Has your SO ever fought off R.O.U.S.’s for you? Probably not.  (Any Princess Bride fans out there?)  Does that mean they don’t truly love you, like the kind of love you see in the movies?  Probably not.  But is it easy to start to believe that these big gestures are what set the foundation for true love?  Probably.

Given that this is how we see “true love” shown to us on a daily basis, it can be very easy to become cynical about it and believe it will never happen for you.  Or, you’ve been hurt before and your way of protecting yourself from getting hurt again is to denounce love.

I get it.  I understand that it’s easier to mock something than to accept that it won’t happen for you.  I understand that it’s easier to tell yourself that you don’t believe in something than it is to open yourself up to being hurt.

I’ve been down all of those roads.  I’ve been down the weird path of holding the guys in my life to the standards set by the (ahem, fictional!) guys in the love songs and love stories.  I’ve been down the unhealthy path of thinking that it’s better to put up walls and not let anyone too close because it was safer to protect myself from being hurt.

Despite my rocky relationships of the past, and my current divorce situation, I’m realizing that neither of these paths are right for me, neither of these paths are healthy.   I want you to know that, while these paths are normal, they are not your rightest path.  Whatever other anti-love path you might be on, that’s not your rightest path, either.  True love does exist.  You deserve to find it.  It won’t be like it is in the movies, but it will be real.  It will be yours.  It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.

I’m not cynical about love.  I believe that love is the most powerful force out there.  I love love.  I just didn’t know that I was blocking myself from truly letting it in.  I’m working on removing those blocks.  I believe in love.  And it is attainable for all of us.

There are a lot of things that have to happen with YOU before you are truly open to love.  One of the first is that you have to work on admitting that you believe it exists, and another is that you have to believe that finding it is worth the risk of getting hurt.

Let’s start by identifying some of your love blocks.  Which anti-love path (or paths) are you on right now?  When I say “true love” what do you think?  Do you roll your eyes and snort with derision?  Do you smile wistfully and think that it’s a nice idea but it won’t happen for you?  Think about it.  Think about what you believe to be true about true love in your life.  Once you can be honest with yourself about that, you can start to get off of the anti-love path, once you can be honest with yourself about how you feel about love, you can start to open yourself up to love.

Wherever you are today: Own it.  Embrace it.  And then think about how to improve it.  Let’s work on letting love in.

The Sun Still Rises

Life just threw me a pretty major curve ball.  One I hadn’t really accounted for.  My husband decided he can’t do this anymore, and ended our marriage.  Just like that.  He decided this is what he wanted, there was no discussion.  Talk about a twist in my path!  I’m still struggling with all of the emotions that come with this…sadness, confusion, anger…and it’s tough.  I’m not going to pretend, either for my sake or for yours, that it’s not.  I didn’t get married, just two years ago, thinking that we would come to an end.  Certainly not like this, and certainly not after only two years.  But here we are.

It happened on a Saturday earlier this month.  I felt confused and lost and sad on Saturday night.  Sunday was a bit of a blur, but I had a lot of work to do, so I focused on that.

But as it always does, Monday morning came, and the real world was staring me in the face.  As I was driving to my morning yoga class, I looked to my left, as I always do at this time of year, to marvel at the colors of the sky as the sun makes its way over the horizon.  And suddenly, this surreal Monday, I had this thought: the sun still rises.

Yes, I’m going through some stuff, and it’s hard.  And yes, my personal world has been tipped on its end.  And whatever plan I thought I had has changed.  But the sun still rises.  Things will always get better.

I have no doubt that I will be just fine…more than fine, actually!  I will get through this and continue my journey.  I have no doubt that there will be times during this period where I will wonder how to do that, how to keep going on my journey, how to be confident that I’m on my rightest path.  But, I also know that every single morning, I can look out and see the sun.  The world keeps turning, life keeps moving, and I keep working on me.

This is part of my journey now, it’s becoming part of who I am (a divorcee…seriously?), and I am going to have to learn to own it, to own me.  This is the next chapter in my life.  I think I’ll title it The Sun Still Rises.  And I’m going to own it!  I’ve got a whole new journey ahead of me, one I had never considered, and one I can turn into anything I want.  I’m going to embrace it!

My message to anyone who is struggling, who is going through some tough times, who feels a little overwhelmed or lost is simple:  Please know that whatever life hands you, you CAN handle it.  You are strong enough, you are smart enough, you are capable enough.  You can take any punches that life throws at you and you can keep on moving forward.  You are allowed to have sad days, you are allowed to have angry days, you are allowed to have whatever it is that you need, just know that you will come out of whatever your situation is as a stronger person who has amazing things to experience.

Your path won’t always be what you expect, your journey won’t always take you where you thought you wanted to go.  That’s ok.  Embrace the change.  Love the journey.  Live your life.  Own Your You.

Perfectly Imperfect – My Musings on Body Image and Beauty

Body image.  Ugh.  What a horrible topic.  But let’s just dive right in.  (oh, also, I’m back! Thanks to those of you who stuck around even though I haven’t posted in an embarrassingly long time!)

Body image has always been something I’ve struggled with.  It’s something that most women, (and men, too) I believe, struggle with.  It seems impossible NOT to struggle with this.  We’re bombarded each and every day with thousands of images of beauty and perfect and what we should aspire to.  (I know I’m only about the 4,103,381,193rd person to write about this topic, so I may not be saying anything new or earth-shattering – BUT I might say something that actually hits home with someone, and that’s why I’m going to continue with this topic.)

So, let’s just take a minute and look at the standards of beauty that we are supposed to a) believe are real and attainable and b) aspire to.  Perfectly toned EVERYthing; perfectly proportioned hips, waist, bust, neck, thighs, arms…; perfectly straight and gleaming white teeth; perfectly coiffed hair (sleek, curly, tousled…whatever the style, it’s got to be perfectly pulled off); perfectly sculpted chin, cheekbones, collar bones…; perfect, blemish-free skin.  And that’s just the start.

Now let’s take a look at who our role models for this level of attainable perfection are, who we can look to for guidance, support, advice on how to reach this perfect beauty.  Oh, wait…there is no one because that level of perfection is only attainable though artificial means.  Thank you, PhotoShop.

By now we’ve all seen multiple articles, memes, and videos of the lengths that people go to in order to project this image of perfection.  We all know that what we’re seeing isn’t real…but it LOOKS so real!  It’s insanely difficult to look at photos in magazines and NOT compare yourself to them.  I get it.  I do it!  I get frustrated with myself because I’m doing it…and I get frustrated with myself because I’m not attaining it!  How messed up is that?

Here’s what I’m doing to counter this epidemic of false beauty and poor body image for us “regular” women.  I’m no longer commenting on how pretty, skinny, etc. Celebrity X is.  I’m no longer looking at magazine photos as anything more than an advertisement for a product or a celebrity personality.  I am looking around me, and the real women I see in my daily life, and focusing on their beauty.  Their real-life, day-to-day imperfect perfection.  I’m talking about the women who live each day to the fullest: they get up each day and say, “I’ve got this.  Today is going to be.  And I’m going to live it.”

It doesn’t matter what today is going to be.  Not every day is perfect, not every day is a party…but every day IS.  And you don’t have to love everything about every day, but you do have to live it.

I’m talking about the women who MAKE each day one they want to live.  They have a love, a passion, a goal.  They have hobbies and friends and family who bring them joy.  I’m talking about the women who may not get to the gym as often as they’d like, they may have baby food in their hair at noon, or they may be in a stressful board meeting at dinner time, but when girls’ night comes, they throw on their Spanx and their LBD and they OWN IT.  They MAKE their lives what they want them to be, and they are happy.   And that’s where their beauty comes from.

Beauty comes from living a life you love, surrounding yourself with love and positive energy, and exuding joy.  Those are the women I look up to.  Those are my role models for beauty.

Those are the women who should inspire us, those are the women we should look to as role models.  I’d like this to be the beauty we all strive for.  We are all beautiful.  YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.  I’d like to challenge each of you to find at least one real person each day who you find beautiful…whatever defines beauty for you – courage, kindness, generosity, etc. and focus on that for a few minutes.  You can tell the woman you think she’s beautiful if you want, but you don’t have to.  This isn’t a challenge to put anyone in an awkward social situation or to be creepy, but it’s a challenge to redirect your ideas of beauty and perfection.

Imperfectly perfect.  That’s what we all are.  Part of my journey has been to accept that.  It’s time to own it.  It’s time to Own Your You.

Own Your Fears!

So can I just tell you how I almost died the other day?
Disclaimer – this post involves the death of a spider.  I am terrified of spiders.  I know that some people love spiders, or at the very least, don’t hate them, and I know that there are people who will not kill a spider, but who might safely capture it and set it free outdoors.  I am not one of these people.  I kill spiders.  I hope that my story does not offend any spider lovers out there.

And so we begin…

A bit of background: you may or may not know that I am petrified of spiders. Absolutely terrified. Not in the way that I don’t like ants, or other bugs, but actually terrified of spiders. I have a physical reaction to them (sweating, shaking, sometimes there are tears – because when there is any spike in emotion and/or adrenaline for me tears just happen. It’s ridiculous and I’ve come to terms with it, although it can be pretty inconvenient!) and the reaction is directly related to the size of the spider (I’m pretty sure that if I came across a tarantula I’d have to be hospitalized!) I often scream. I always jump and then freeze in a complete panic with no idea what to do.

My method of killing spiders is intricate and involves chemicals and does not involve me attempting to touch or squish them by hand while they are alive. I will generally grab whatever spray bottle is closest (water, hair spray, bathroom cleaner…pure acid. whatever) and spray the hell out of the spider until it is either dead or immobilized. This method, while keeping me distanced from the monsters, has led to many discolored splotches on my walls and ceilings throughout the years. That is a small price to pay for my safety, I say. My husband, however, has (repeatedly) asked (told) me NOT to spray random chemicals on the walls. Clearly, though, I cannot promise such a thing unless he can promise to ALWAYS come to my rescue when a spider is nearby no matter the time of day or night…AND not be grumpy about it. Clearly he can’t promise that (although he says he does, but I’ve seen the attitude I get when I need spider assassination assistance and it’s not convenient for him!)
And don’t even get me started on the hysterics that occur when a spider is above my head! You KNOW they are going to jump down on me and kill me. And if you try to get one while it’s up there you will fail and it will end up down your shirt or nestled in your hair. Fortunately with my spray bottle technique, you can stand at a distance far enough away that when they do fall down you are out of the landing zone. Also, attempting to squash/kill with a tissue or something like some people do is NOT an option for me because obviously what would happen is it would bust through the tissue and bite my hand or crawl up my arm. And if you try to use like a wad of tissues or something you have no way to tell if you actually got it because you can’t feel it in the bunch of tissues and so it probably got away and will come back and kill you later. So yeah. Spiders must be immobilized before I can pick them up with tissues for their watery burial flush them. Do not put them in the trash because they will obvoiusly come back to life and kill you later – I assume that goes wthout saying, but just in case any of you weren’t aware, I felt it my duty to let you know!

Ok, now to this week’s events. I’m in my office attempting to walk out my door when I’m stopped dead in my tracks by something on the light beige carpet. Is it a spider? It’s a weird one that I don’t think I’ve seen before. So, no, maybe it’s a hairball or piece of something that somehow landed in my doorway (there have been many fuzz balls that have put me into my spider panic before I got up the nerve to investigate and discover that they were not, in fact, spiders set out to kill me). So I lean in (not TOO close, mind you, but closer – still several feet away) and the freaking thing JUMPS! Just a little hop to the side. Well that does it. Now I’m in full on spider panic.

Things running through my head at this point include such logical and coherent thoughts as: “OMG. Spider. OMG. OMGOMGOMGOMG. Spider. WTF. What do I do? It’s big. It jumps. I’m not attempting to step on it. OMG. OMG. OMG. Scream for help. Seriously, should I yell for help? Would that be over the top? What if it’s poisonous? OMG OMG OMG. Help. I should yell for help. No. Spray bottle. Get the Windex. Crap. I can’t, the Windex is in the kitchen and I have to go past the spider to get to the kitchen. If I am able to get past it without it jumping on me, by the time i get back, it will have crawled into my shoes or my closet and I’ll never find it and never be able to work in this office again. Dammit. Why don’t i have a spray bottle in my office?! Water. I have water. I have a cup of water. I can probably dump the water on it and stun it enough that I can get it. Ok yes. Water.”

I grab my huge cup of water (full. with ice in it) and fling the water and ice out of the cup towards the wall/floor where the spider is hanging out. Obviously I mostly miss and now there’s just a big wet splotch on the wall and carpet and the spider scurries away. It is now mere inches from going behind my filing cabinet. Just on the other side of the filing cabinet are my Uggs (wouldn’t THAT be a cozy place for this creature of the devil to hide out and wait for me?!) so I move the Uggs (fling them across the room) but now there is no barrier from stopping the monster from scurrying behind the filing cabinet and into the closet which has roughly 10 pairs of my shoes (all of which are amazing hiding places) on the floor plus a toolkit bag thing. And my jacket is hung up in there. And a box of pens (another GREAT hiding spot!)…no this cannot happen. The spider cannot make it to sanctuary in the closet. Fortunately just then, Dave (one of our analysts) walks by.

Me: “Dave. how do you feel about spiders?”
Dave: “Well. I mean, I don’t LOVE them or anything…”
Me: “Ok great. So can you help me?”

I briefly summarize the situation for him (and pay no attention to his expression when he’s standing in a puddle and a pile of ice!) Fortunately he is a good sport and together we scootch the filing cabinet out together (those things are heavy!) and I hand him a tissue. One single tissue. This spider was easily big enough to bust through a whole pile of tissues but Dave takes it like a champ and one tissues this monster!

Dave: “That’s a weird looking spider.”
Me: “Yes. Kill it.”

He senses my unease and disposes of it (wisely, NOT in my office trash can – didn’t even have to ask him to go somewhere else. He’s a good kid. And now he’s my hero. After he disposes of the monster he comes back to help me heave the filing cabinet back in place and finally asks about the puddle.

Dave: “So you threw the water at it?”
Me: “Yes. The whole cupful”
Dave: “So was that a reaction, or was that your plan…?”
Me: “No. that was my plan. I thought that out before I did it.”
Dave: “Oh. Ok. Well I’m glad I could help you out with that.”

What a gem. Once that ordeal is over my face is beet red, I’m sweating a little bit, my heart is racing, and my hands are shaking. I went into the kitchen to fill my water (since it was now empty!) and heat up my lunch. My hands were literally shaking the whole time I was making it! They finally stopped after about 10 minutes.

Phew! That was a close call.

What does this have to do with Owning Your You? Well, quite simply, in order to Own Your You, you need to own ALL of your you: your crazies, faults, neuroses and everything else that makes you YOU! A few years ago I may not have had the confidence to ask for help and show my weakness in that manner. I don’t know exactly how I would have handled it, but it would have caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety!  This terrifying (and a bit ridiculous) scenario showed me that by being able to ask for help…even in something as silly as this (although, when I’m in the midst of a spider-panic, it does not seem to be a silly thing!) showed me that I’ve taken more steps on my path towards owning my me.  I was grateful that I could acknowledge that (after the sweating and shaking subsided).

Whatever your you is – embrace it.  Own it.  And tell me about it!

Cut Them Loose!

You know how there are those people who drain you, who bring out the worst in you?  Cut them loose!  Your life is too precious to waste on people who neither appreciate you nor reciprocate your friendship/love/commitment.

Every now and then we are lucky enough to meet people who bring out the very best in us, who make us want to be more, be better.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet two amazing women who are so beautiful, supportive, encouraging, creative, and all-around amazing, that every time we get together, I leave with my mind racing about all of the possibilities of the new endeavors and projects we have come up with.  Together we set new goals and build new dreams and we inspire each other to be ourselves reach for our dreams – both our individual dreams and our collaborative dreams.  They’re by my side, always, reaching. supporting. encouraging.  These are the best kind of friends to have.  They’re rare, you can’t always identify them at first, but once you realize you have found one – treasure her (or him)!

So this post is a shout out to my amazing friends (thanks, for being awesome!), but even more importantly, it’s a request that each of you take an honest look at your closest friends, your confidants, the people you spend the most time with – and really think about who makes up this group.  Go ahead, take a minute and think about it.  I’ll wait.

My experience tells me that you probably have a couple of honest to goodness true friends who love and support you no matter what.  (Good! Treasure them!  Tell them you love them today!)  My experience also tells me that you probably have some people who do not – they are probably DrainersThwarters, or Obligators.  Sometimes these people can be hard to identify, and if you don’t look too closely, you may never identify them.  Here are some tips on identifying these people, and what to do about them.

Drainers are the people who leave you feeling exhausted after you talk to or spend time with them.  It’s likely that they monopolize all of your time together by talking about themselves – their problems, their achievements, etc.  It could be that you and the Drainer grew up together and have been friends for years and you may feel obligated to continue this friendship.  If you have to try to psych yourself up to get together with one of these people, or you have to force yourself to smile and nod at their stories, or if you leave an encounter with one of these people and just want some quiet time by yourself – congratulations.  You have identified a Drainer.   A Drainer might disguise themselves by asking you questions about yourself.  This is a trick.  As soon as you answer, the Drainer will turn the conversation back to themselves, often cutting you off in the process.

The Drainer is generally either someone you have known for a very long time, or someone you just met who has a bright, dynamic personality.  If the Drainer is the former, someone you have known for a very long time, you probably feel obligated to continue the friendship.  Let me tell you this – you are NOT obligated to continue this pseudo-friendship.    If the Drainer is the latter, you likely just got swept up in all the excitement that is their life – or so they tell you.  They are friendly and easy to talk to (i.e. they will talk to anyone about themselves – endlessly) and it’s easy to think that you are forming a friendship.  But if you were to do nothing but nod and smile during a conversation with them, would they even notice?  Probably not.  They are draining you!

The easiest way to cut a Drainer loose is to stop feeding into their need to talk about themselves.  Don’t encourage the conversations.  Eventually their need to talk about themselves will overtake them and they’ll seek out someone else who will listen.

Thwarters are people who do want to hear about you and your life and your accomplishments…so that they can then tell you a better story, or give you a better suggestion.  Also known as “one uppers,” Thwarters generally have a better story than the one you just told.  Oh, your significant other surprised you with a weekend getaway? Well that’s so great, but the Thwarter’s significant other surprised them with a week long cruise!! Isn’t that amazing?  But more than one upping you, the reason I call these people Thwarters, is because you tell them about this great event that you are really excited about, and if they can’t “beat” the story, they have to tell you why it’s not actually that great.  Oh, you got a promotion at work, one that you’ve been working really hard for?  Wow, that’s great – doesn’t that mean that you now have to work weekends and miss out on time with your family? wamp wamp.

Thwarters are a little tricky to cut loose.  It’s worth it to try to talk to them about the behavior, especially if it’s new behavior.  Sometimes they don’t actually realize that they do it, or they may be going through a rough time and this is some sort of subconscious defense mechanism.  Sometimes talking to a Thwarter will help your relationship.  Other times, they will be offended and seek out other friends to thwart.

Finally, you have the Obligator.  These friends somehow make you feel as though getting together with you is a huge obligation (side note: do you perhaps do this to your Drainers?) They are generally quick with excuses as to why they can’t get together, or they simply don’t respond and then when you do hear from them, you hear how they are SO busy they just forgot.  Here’s the thing – you are not an obligation.  Your friends should WANT to spend time with you.  Of course life happens and things come up – but can you honestly say, Obligator, that you never have time to get together?  I doubt it.  The Obligator is the easiest type of faux-friend to eliminate: stop reaching out to them to make plans.  If the Obligator is actually a true friend, they will reach out to you.  Most likely, though, the true Obligator will just fade off into your past.

I realize that this might sound very harsh and cold.  I admit, I have a bitchy side, but the bottom line is this: friendship matters.  We’re all busy, we’ve all got our own lives going on with families, jobs, hobbies, relationship, etc. but if you can make time for your friends, then your friends can make time for you.  And if they can’t, they aren’t really your friends after all.  Life is too short to surround yourself with anyone who doesn’t bring just as much to your relationships as you do.

Another important step on your journey to owning your you is to work on surrounding yourself with the right people.  The people who love, encourage, inspire, challenge, and support you JUST AS MUCH as you love, encourage, inspire, challenge, and support them.  Surround yourselves with these people.  The will make your journey more enjoyable, and they will make it easier to Own Your You.

 

 

 

Just Listen.

It’s tough to not have all the answers.  We want to have all the answers, to know the next move, the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, we don’t always know these things.  It can leave us feeling helpless. I felt that way twice this past weekend.  I had two separate friends tell me about two separate things they were dealing with and I couldn’t “fix” either of them.

Of course, we are all responsible for our own lives and the only one who can fix your life is you.  And no one comes to me expecting me to fix it for them.  However, I’ve grown accustomed to at least being able to give some helpful advice or suggestions.  But these two instances were such that there was really nothing I could say to make the situation better for them.  I felt as though I were letting my friends down.  That was tough for me.  I was disappointed in my lack of ability to help and thought that my friends would probably feel the same way.  When I lamented this to one of these friends, she wisely told me that “…sometimes we just need to vent…”

Bam.  Just like that.  Hit in the face with some truth.

Sometimes we just need to vent.

Sometimes we just need to listen.

Sometimes that’s all the help someone needs.  Wow.

I learned that while I love it when I can actively help someone with something, part of my role is to just listen.  And that is helping.  It’s even something that I’ve told my husband before:  “Babe, I don’t need you to try to fix anything, I just want to say these things.”  I thought I was asking him to do something simple.  Just listen to me.  Don’t offer suggestions or advice.  Just listen.  He’s a doer like I am, though, so now I see that I wasn’t making a simple request, I was asking for something more difficult.  Even though I’ve been the one who simply needed to vent, I still wasn’t able to just let myself be a listener!

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

So I have learned something about me, and about my journey.  I don’t have to have all of the answers.  I will work on being a listener.

Sometimes it’s enough to just listen.

Fake it!

The hardest part about Owning Your You is believing it.  Believing that you are good enough, capable enough, etc. to do what you want to do.  It’s hard to change how you view yourself, you’ve spent your whole life thinking about yourself in a certain way; for many of us, that “certain” way includes a fair amount of negativity and self doubt.  I’m not as smart as her.  I’m not as pretty as her.  I’m not as talented as her.  I can’t do what she does.  I’m not.  I can’t.  I’m not.  I can’t….

After years of the “not” and “can’t” commentary in your head, no wonder it’s so hard to break out of that and start to think “I AM” and “I CAN!”

But I have good news.  There is a way to start acting like you are and you can: Fake it! Yes.  Fake it.

You see, perception is reality.  Think about that for a second.  Perception is reality.  If other people perceive you as being confident and capable (or whatever else you want to portray) then in their eyes you ARE confident and capable.  They believe it if you act like you believe it, too.  Eventually, their perception of you is that you are confident and capable – repeat that last part: you ARE confident and capable.  It’s often true that a big part of our negative feelings about ourselves are a result of what we believe that other people think about us.  Well, then, the opposite is also true.  If we believe that people think we are confident and capable, we will begin to believe that ourselves until, eventually, you’re not faking it anymore…you’re believing it…you are Owning It!

The next time you are in a situation where you want to be successful, where you want to be capable (again, these are my examples, use whatever skill/trait that YOU struggle with and want to improve on) take a minute before you enter that situation and remind yourself to act the way you want to be perceived.  Remind yourself to fake it.

You’re on your way to Owning Your You.  Be proud of that.

Fleeting Crazy

I’m not a writer. I love to read. I love to write. But I am not a writer. I have friends who are amazing writers, and some of them are also amazing bloggers.  They can just see/hear/feel something and WRITE about it.  In a way that is in engaging, humorous, honest, and meaningful.  I tend to ramble.  I have realized that I put short bursts of thoughts down, but struggle with expanding on them without a defined end result.

Great.  Another blogger who can’t write.  Just what the internet needs, right? I know! I couldn’t agree more.  The reason I’m taking this leap is that, while I can’t churn out beautiful, deep, thought provoking prose on cue, I can talk to people about their concerns, issues, thoughts, etc. – what I call their “Crazy.”  I have always been a person my friends know that they can come to for honest, no-nonsense advice.  I have referred to myself as the “Crazy Wrangler” on more than one occasion when friends have come to me with their current Crazy and asked me to help them rein it in…or wrangle it.  I can do this; I love doing this.  I want to do this for you.

Therefore, this blog, my blog is at the mercy of you.  Yes YOU.  I can’t do this without you.  I need your questions, situations, drama…I need your Crazy.  I want to help you Own Your You.

We’ve all got a little bit of Crazy in us.  Some of us have a lot of Crazy in us.  It’s all ok.  It’s who we are.  It’s your Crazy that makes you YOU.  It’s your Crazy that makes you interesting.  Don’t be afraid of your Crazy.  Own it.  Thrive with it, in spite of it, or because of it…whatever makes sense for you.

Of course, every now and then, we experience a Fleeting Crazy – a situation that normally doesn’t affect us turns us into crazy, obsessive, over-thinking, over-reacting creatures that we don’t even recognize!  This kind of Crazy is ok, too.  It’s normal.  And I’m here to help you acknowledge it and work through it.

I had a bout of Fleeting Crazy recently.  I generally am fairly confident and try to be positive about things…except when I’m not.  I started comparing some of my work to that of some other talented, and more experienced, people.  Their work is amazing.  I was comparing and found myself severely lacking.  I was feeling very mopey and “woe-is-me” for the better part of a day.  I hate feeling that way.  I acknowledged it, but I could not get myself out of it.  I turned to two of my friends and just told them how I was feeling and why I was feeling that way.  I didn’t ask them to fix it, I didn’t ask them to make me feel better, and I certainly didn’t ask them to shower me with false compliments.  I just said this is what I’m feeling, and this is why.  And, being the amazing friends that they are, they knew exactly what to say.  They did not fill my head with flowery words and tell me that I’m the absolute best thing in the world and there is no one better – they were honest.  They told me they understood, they’ve felt that way before, and they gave me their honest feedback on my work (fortunately they do like my work, so that helped!) and it helped.  I felt better.  I am not “fixed,” I will still have moments of doubt, moments of harsh self-criticism, moments where I contemplating throwing in the towel.  But I know that’s my Fleeting Crazy, and I know if I need help getting through it, help is just a call or email away.

Oh, Crazy.  You do make life interesting.