Woulda, coulda, shoulda

Often it is easier to look at the life before us and think about all the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. If you had that different job, then your day would be so much better. If you lived in the house you almost purchased, you would have a better life. If you went on that vacation, you would be more adventurous. If you had not lost your parent or sibling, you would not be so sad or depressed. There are so many ideas we can tell ourselves about how life could be different if something had happened, or if it had not, that we can agonize over all the woulda, coulda, shoulda moments.

What if we just looked at what is?

I am a fan of Jonathan Tropper. I have read all his books, and am always interested to hear when a new one has come out. Recently a daily email newsletter from Oprah contained this quote from Tropper:

“You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you’ve lost.”

So simple, yet so eye-opening. If we looked at what we have right now, appreciate it, take care of it, love it — well life would just be better. I have had many, many times in my life where individuals have asked me, how do you do it losing your parents so early in life? How do you cope? My response: “It is what it is.” If I always compare my life to what I have lost, if I only see what I don’t have, then I am not looking at what is right in front of me. I have a great job, an amazing husband + marriage, my family is healthy, wonderful friendships, all my material needs are met. Of course I have those very tough moments when loss feels great, but those are moments. I live my life from a place of abundance, and gratitude for all that is right in front of me.

The same is true for not getting those opportunities that we want, that person we might want to date, that job we have been preparing ourselves for, or maybe it was an award we felt worthy of receiving. Whatever we think we have lost, does not really matter in the grand scheme of things, what matters is what we do with what is right in front of us. How do we seize the day? How do we make every moment worthwhile in our current job, home, marriage, party, even at the grocery store? Are we letting life pass us by just because it does not compare to what we wished we had?

My life is full, and I want to suck every moment out of every day.

Love Life or Love Life

I love a good oxymoron, a play on words, anything to get my brain to think and wonder. Rob Lowe’s newest book is called: “Love Life.” His title could really be more about his wife (the love of his life), about his love life, or what I think he really meant, which is to love the heck out of the life that is in front of us. In any case, Love Life is an interesting and thought-provoking memoir. I was a fan of his first autobiography, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends.” See, I like Rob Lowe. He plays interesting characters. From West Wing to Brothers and Sisters to Californication to Parks and Recreation, not to mention all the movies he has been in. Does Outsiders ring a bell? He does not play the same character again and again (as some actors tend to do), and I love that about him. When I happened across his first book, I thought it would be an annoying, pompous book from a famous Hollywood actor. It was nothing like that.

The writing is good, and while I do not know if he actually wrote it (who ever knows these days) it was still a compelling memoir of his life. He is very transparent about himself, his pros and cons, and you can tell in everything he says how much he loves his wife, two sons, and how important it is to him to be a dad. I loved this quote on the very first page:

“I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who said 90 percent of successful moviemaking is in the casting. The same is true in life. Who you are exposed to, who you choose to surround yourself with, is a unique variable in all of our experiences and it is hugely important in making us who we are. Seek out interesting characters, tough adversaries and strong mentors and your life can be rich, textured, highly entertaining and successful, like a Best Picture winner.” Page 1

It really makes you think about who you surround yourself with, and that while we do not always have a choice of who we interact with each day, we should focus on the situations we can control. Lowe never wanted to live a boring life, and neither should we! So get rid of the boring, the dull, and the uninspiring and bring on the adventure.

And, if you never take the leap and have more adventures, then you may never see success. Sometimes you have to have a few failures to find the gem. He discusses the different shows or movies he was involved in that did not make it off the ground, were cancelled, or just did not get the ratings.

“Maybe I’m in denial, but I don’t believe in ‘flops.’ You try something and it may not work. You try something and this time it might. You never know, and you have no choice other than to keep trying. The only time you flop is when you don’t learn something.” Page 148

Sort of like the Coldplay song, “Fix You” with a favorite line 0f mine: “If you never try you’ll never know.” I strongly believe that the tough times and disappointed moments turn into beautiful works of art. Sometimes we just have to have extreme patience as we go through the growing pains.

I pooped my pants at Safety Town

There have been a few times in my life that I have pooped my pants. I will tell you right now that it was not always as a child. As an adult, my poopy pants stories revolve around “Smooth Move” tea. My advice to you is to NEVER drink it. It is like a laxative that you cannot get out of your system… for days. Anyways, this is not about adult poopy pants. I was young, before elementary school, but I do not remember exactly how old I was. I am sure my sister can remember.

We were at Safety Town with the local Parks District. I do not remember if my sister was there for Safety Town or if she was my chaperone. Regardless, I vaguely remember that she did not want to be there in the least. Generally speaking I got very excited about Safety Town. They turned tennis courts into regular streets and sidewalks. There were stop signs, traffic lights, and bike lanes. We had a mini city all to ourselves from behind the daring excitement of our tricycles. For whatever reason I thought it was the coolest thing. Almost as though my tricycle was a car, and we got to be adults. There were even awards and trophies. Who knows why, but I LOVED Safety Town.

Except for the time when I pooped my pants.

You would have thought it was a regular I-have-to-go-to-the-bathroom moment. Yet, it wasn’t. I pooped my pants from absolute fear. This specific day was when the police, ambulance, and firefighters were coming to visit. They would take us onto the trucks and teach us about the apparatus. Except for me. I was scared shitless. There was always something eerie to me about an ambulance (scariest vehicle) and a fire truck (next scariest). In my mind they were going to help someone who was hurt, sick, or dead, or something was on fire. I did not like thinking about the number of sirens I heard daily and how many people needed help. I also thought that if I went inside the ambulance that I might not be allowed to leave. I have no idea where I got that idea. The Safety Town folks did their best to assure me, as well as my sister, but I was definitely not going into those vehicles. I got so scared, I pooped my pants.

My sister was not thrilled. I do not remember what happened after that and if I got into trouble for my scared-shitless actions. I am almost positive my parents did not ever understand my predicament, or even talk to me about it. I think they just thought I had an accident. Yet, I still remember it so clearly. Regardless, I continued to go to Safety Town and enjoyed the make-believe world of our tricycle town.

And, I still have a moment of pause when I hear an ambulance or firetruck. No, I don’t pee or poop myself, but I do think about those in need of help and hope all is well.

99 Days Without…Facebook?

Are you addicted? Am I? I am not entirely sure. I am a 1-2 times a day Facebook user. I usually check in the morning when I post my blog, and then at night before bed. I will be completely honest that other than posting my blog and a random quote or idea here or there, that I am more of a voyeuristic Facebook user. I like to see photos of friends, connect with folks from my childhood (some… not all), and generally keep up with friends. I am not one to care about whether you made it to the bathroom that day or all the endless rants and crap about your day. I like to find information that adds to my life rather than bores me to death. Pictures help. They help a lot. So if you are posting photos I am generally going to look at them.

So when I came across this Christian Science Monitor article regarding a campaign to not use Facebook for 99 days, I was quasi interested. Could I do it? Probably not. Would it be good for me to disconnect? Most definitely. Do I have the strength in me to do it? Maybe. I am not sure. I like staying connected in my own non-consumed way. So then you might say, “So why would it be hard for you to disengage for 99 days?” I like knowing what is happening. I like seeing the newborn baby pictures of a good friend that lives on the other side of the world. I like being inspired. Yes, there is a lot of junk I want to block and a lot of stuff I couldn’t give a shit about, but could I disconnect for three months? I am not sure.

Is it sad that I feel that way? Maybe. Or maybe I am a slight introvert and a slight extrovert and Facebook allows me to decide HOW I want to engage. How often and in what ways. The initiative is called, “99 Days of Freedom.” I do like the sound of that. I am truly curious about the question in the article: “How do you feel when you don’t use Facebook?” I think there is only one way to tell. Would you like to join me and see, or are you just as much addicted that it will be hard to not log in? The only way I can imagine trying is to delete your account, and remove all history of your online Facebook data. Otherwise, how would you stop yourself from logging in?

It looks like at the time of the article, 17,000 people had signed up for the 99 Days… That is a good amount. Are you going to join them?

 

Consent: No means no

We get to decide who touches us. We get to decide how we allow others to treat us. We get to decide how we allow others to make us feel. Yet, how we are socialized to respond and react to each of these is remarkably different. Not a single person has the same experience in how we were taught to handle our reaction, or how we handle “consent.”

“Consent: giving permission for something to happen.”

Have you ever thought about how even the littlest of babies have the right to decide (give consent) to whether a stranger touches them? As a parent, are strangers allowed to touch a small baby or do we protect them until they are capable of communicating their consent? What we teach children at an early age matters, because it is the beginning of their education on consent.

Consent in some ways is similar to telling kids there is a Santa, and they believe you, then one day you tell them there is no such thing as Santa. Have we not then taught them a lie? Should they trust us after finding out we have told a fib all those years?

The below video “4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter” really opened my eyes about the topic of consent and shares the following four points:

1. Tickling and Roughhouse Play

2. Contradicting their Feelings

3. Forced Affection

4. Respect your elders

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We teach politeness over feeling comfortable. We make kids hug their elders, or individuals they may not feel comfortable around. We tell them that they cannot think or feel how they feel or think. We do not stop tickling them when they ask us to stop. All of these ideas mentioned in the video are ways we continually teach children not to think for themselves and rather do what they are told. Of course, I am not proposing that kids be rude, but we often force them to do things they do not want to do. We need to listen for when they are not comfortable instead of only when they are just grumpy or do not want to participate or interact with others. There is a balance between being a bratty or disrespectful kid and allowing them to make choices that are most comfortable to them.

Eye opening ideas for me. Teach them that their “no” matters. Teach them to trust their instincts. Teach them to have a voice and to know when to give consent.

#ahamoment