December Eighteen – Eighteen Whys I Discovered in the Past Year

December Eighteen

12.18.18

It’s been waaaaaay too long since I’ve blogged. That is just the kind of year I’ve had. I wouldn’t take back this year for anything, however, as I am pretty sure I’ve grown as a person along the way.

One year ago today I started a new position at a new company. I knew I’d like the job and I also knew it would be an adjustment. Both of which ended up true. I also knew that I would find out some “whys” over time, which I most definitely did:

  1. Why I was supposed to leave my old company.

I knew this answer would come with time. I also knew the second I found out that my position was eliminated that it would be for the better. However, you have to wait these things out. I pretty much let myself cry about it two times. Once driving away and once the next day cleaning out my office. Then I was done. I have yet to go through the box from my office, even though I know there are things in there that I could put in my new office and that would be helpful for me to have. I drove back into the parking lot about three months later because I had to drop something off for some friends.  I didn’t know it would affect me at all since I pretty much didn’t let my mind think about it…but it did. When I pulled into the parking lot, it felt like I was being punched in the stomach and it was hard to catch my breath. I can say that I am in a way better position at a better company that is 100 times more stable with growth potential. I didn’t know how much I’d actually enjoy a position with no one reporting to me right off the bat. It was different but it allowed me time to truly learn first, which has been incredible. It also taught me that no one is immune to getting laid off if a company is in trouble. Every single person is out to save themselves, no matter what that means. Everyone becomes a number instead of a person and it humbled me a lot. I’ve always been good at what I do and have always cared a whole heck of a lot, so I just never ever thought I’d be in that situation. It made me a stronger person. I also found out later that I was a strong leader and there was a hole left when I was gone.

  1. Why I didn’t choose other job offers.

I would rather not have to make big life decisions. My entire life I’ve questioned myself because I never want to regret a decision or be disappointed. It is easy to think “what if” – what if I would’ve chosen the one that offered more money but was farther away, or the one that would’ve taken me out of my comfort zone but I could’ve proved to myself I that I could do it? It didn’t take too long for me to see why. My gut guided my decision and I knew I was in a good place, even if I never found out anything else. I did find out, however, that the leadership at both of the other companies I was considering turned over within six months, and not voluntarily. While I am sure it would’ve been fine, it certainly would’ve been more stress to deal with as someone new.

  1. Why everyone says parenting a teenager is no picnic…and should most definitely come with a manual.

I really don’t have to say much more here. It is walking a fine line between being a parent your teenager enjoys being around and preparing them for life – sometimes with a little necessary tough love. They don’t understand how difficult executing on this tough love thing can be. It’d be way easier to just let them do whatever, but I won’t do that. I’ve had moments I’m not proud of when my patience got the best of me. I have a stronger backbone than I’ve ever had. There are also such amazing moments when she wants to hang out and do the same things I love to do and even some times when she wants to snuggle (!!!), which I soak in 1000%. This year we’ve handled anxiety, depression, self-harm, all-out screaming fits, punching, hitting, doubting God and faith, experimenting with vaping and even a little drinking. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle more, more came. I am the whipping boy and I just take it over and over again, knowing that one day she will realize that I did care and did love and did make decisions based on what I knew to be best for her life and future. I question myself daily and still want to get my hands on a parenting teens manual that works every time. I realized long ago that no matter how hard I try I cannot make someone else happy or make someone else do something for themselves or make someone else care. That holds true as a parent of a teenager.

  1. Why I shouldn’t worry about things I cannot control.

I know I learned this a long time ago, but man I still try to control every little thing in my life. God has to be shaking His head at me all the time because as much as I pray to let go, it is so natural for me to just take control. I think it is my safety net and go-to so I fool myself into thinking I can hold outcomes in my own hands. I will continue to work on this one in 2019, that’s for sure!

  1. Why travel for work is way more work than it appears.

I traveled with my old job, but nothing like I traveled this past year. Just leaving for one to two nights disrupts life and even more so when traveling to the west coast or gone for five nights. Being divorced with 50% custody of my children also makes this quite the balancing act. Every trip I had brought value to my role, so I knew it was important to my future. I got to see a lot of places and meet so many amazing people. However, I had a lot of 4 am and 1 am trips to and from the airport to avoid more nights in a hotel. Dealing with weather or other delays brings another element of crazy. So while it is valuable, I found it is like working quadruple time.

  1. Why giving time its proper time works.

This one speaks for itself based on the above. If I wait to respond to anything, it is almost always a better response. Time is a healer. Time is knowledge. Time is strength. Time shows us so many important things if we just let it.

  1. Why God has us live in limbo.

Have I mentioned before that I absolutely HATE living in limbo??!! I believe that is why God puts me in situations where I must live I limbo. He must have more work to do on me because I am still living in limbo as I type this. I am trying to be patient and allow time to first, get me out of limbo, and second, show me why. Still waiting!

  1. Why I love my family so freaking much.

I am so beyond blessed with my family. They are incredible – loving, understanding and patient. They are always there for me and my children and my heart could explode just thinking about each one of them. My parents are the most selfless people I’ve ever met. They’ve gotten screwed over a lot because they won’t speak up or be all in it for themselves, however it is character. It is true selflessness and taking the higher road. It is killing others with kindness and loving your neighbor as yourself. My sister has an unspeakable bond with my daughter. This bond has helped so much this past year with everything we’ve gone through. She can be there in ways I can’t be as the mom. And it taught me that when she has a teenage girl the aunt I will be for her daughter.

  1. Why everyone in our lives crosses our specific path for a reason.

My mix of people has completely changed over the last year. It is crazy how much time you spend with your close co-workers. You spend more time with them than your own family, actually. It is sad when the ones you used to talk to and see every day are gone, but to gain a whole new group of people with their own stories and need for a listening ear, is what I live for. I would’ve never met so many more amazing people this year had I not gone through everything I went through. I know each and every one is in my life (no matter how significant) for a reason. Sometimes we don’t ever find out that reason, but it is there.

  1. Why it’s ok to truly let someone you were once in love with completely exit your life.

I’ve stayed friends with exes before, including my ex-husband. In order to truly move on and let each person heal, it is ok to completely close a chapter of your life, though. I have always felt bad and haven’t wanted to be mean, but I learned that sometimes it is absolutely necessary. Not because you are being mean, but actually doing what is best. I believe certain people in our lives will always hold a certain spot in our hearts and that is ok. It doesn’t mean anything more or less than that.

  1. Why I just want to be home.

Between traveling and having a less than stellar place to call home, along with not being able to sleep very well alone, I felt rootless this year. It’s like living in limbo…I hate it. However, I do take a deep breath sometimes when I have a true stretch at home with my kids because as I put my stuff away and hang my clothes where they belong, I just soak in where my home actually is. Maybe this year helped me to see that even in a 1970s duplex it can somewhat start to feel like home if you are surrounded by your stuff and make it smell good. It also taught me that maybe home isn’t so much of a place, either. Maybe it is more of a feeling. And that feeling can be just as much someone’s arms as where you hang your clothes. J

  1. Why exercise is so important.

I’ve never gone very long in life without exercising. I did get really busy earlier this year, though, and it went to the wayside for a few months. I never felt more horrible. I never had a more difficult time dealing with stress as during those months. As much as I can hate running, running is my ultimate, #1 stress reliever. It works like a charm every single time, no matter how much I am cussing at it during the dreaded treadmill minute, which by the way is at least 10 times longer than a normal minute! No matter how busy I am, I cannot stop exercising because it is the only way I can handle stress.

  1. Why living my best life simply for me and making decisions accordingly is vital to my happiness.

Sometimes I live too much for other people. When I’ve allowed myself to make decisions for me and what I truly want and what is best for my kids, I’ve definitely felt good. I need to keep that up.

  1. Why it’s ok to still let your kids – no matter their age – sleep with you now and again.

Always. I learned that it will end. I learned that they grow up too quickly, especially in today’s world.

  1. Why I wasn’t meant to be a plumber.

My dad taught me that hot is on the left, but this girl is no handyman. I was meant to have a man in my life, living with me. I can be independent in so many other ways. This is not one of them. Especially at midnight when the toilet floods the upstairs bathroom and begins showering into the laundry room downstairs. I was not given the appropriate talents to handle these kind of situations with grace. This just happened to me last weekend and I am still salty about it…haha.

  1. Why hearing the words “I love you” mean so much more to me now.

They just do. Actions do speak louder than words, but sometimes you just need to hear the words. I learned that this year.

  1. Why trips to the ocean are good for the soul and why I must walk the beach if I am anywhere near the ocean.

Ahhhhhhhhh. The large, majestic ocean, no matter the coast, still amazes me every time I’m there. Maybe growing up in Iowa far away from the ocean gives me a different appreciation. I cannot travel near the coast and not walk on the beach. That is so wrong to me. I was lucky this year to see the ocean many times. I have no problem walking the beach alone. It is pretty special to have someone to take long walks on the beach with, too. He is even adding it to his resume.

  1. Why I need to stop holding everything in and trying to cope by internalizing.

This is my signature. I battle it constantly and it is like battling who I truly am at the core. I am a stubborn ass. I really am. How do I change that? I guess since I am at the end of my 18 things, I can just say that I am focusing on this one in 2019. Is that good enough?

So there was my year. I learned a lot. I stressed a lot. I got through a lot. And I still have a long way to go! Here’s to enjoying the next 365 with as much grace as this stubborn ass can exude.

I Am From…

I attended a training yesterday that wasn’t really a training, actually. It was a drama troupe that put on a great production surrounding many issues we all face – whether it be personally or professionally. It was a work event, so a lot of the content fit the workplace – such as diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment and communication.

I read once that most work challenges are because of people. People are messy. We all are. We all come from our own place and see the world and others from our own perspective. Because we don’t always know what’s someone has been through or where they are from, it is difficult to assume what their perspective is and even more difficult to understand it without the background information.

I am writing about this because the exercise we did at the end of the production really impacted me. They had us all write a short “I am From” poem. In highs school I remember writing a similar poem, which was called “This is me. I am.” I loved that poem, too. Why? Because they help me put into words my own story and realize where I am at in my journey. Do I still have guilt associated with some things? What has impacted me so profoundly that it makes the poem? If you dig deep, even your own eyes are opened by the content.

I dug deep, because that is usually what I do. I could’ve kept it very surface level but it wouldn’t have been authentic. I knew that if I had to share it, tears were going to flow, but I decided not to hold back, even though I am newer employee and not everyone knows me very well at all yet.

So, here is my current I am From:

  • I am from God, the mile wide city (Denver, Iowa), middle child, middle class, self-employed family, shamrock baby
  • I am from the end of the alphabet and being last in line
  • I am from an eating disorder starting in 3rd grade that never really goes away, even if outwardly I am controlling it
  • I am from family and authentic relationships that are trusting and close and make me laugh until my stomach hurts
  • I am from having my own baby way before I was ready in the mile high city
  • I am from a 10+ year roller coaster of pain that led to a divorce that my deep rooted faith and values never wanted to allow me to have
  • I am from guilt for my kids’ lives being a single mom, living in a run-down duplex
  • I am from a whole lot of faith, hope for the future and full of grace for others
  • I am from trying to please others too much sometimes
  • I am from fairy tale visions of romantic comedies and being swept off my feet
  • I am from Hawkeye Heaven and shop til you drop
  • I am from jumping to conclusions like a boss
  • I am from pizza and diet coke for every meal
  • I am from dreams, goals, determination and hard work to accomplish what I seek to achieve
  • I am from stubbornness and impatience of wanting to know everything…and taking control whenever I can
  • I am from not knowing the answer when it comes to parenting and just trying to do the best I can every day
  • I am from my imperfections, my experiences, my tendencies…and always always always my children’s hearts

What is your I am From? Understanding where others come from is such a big step in tackling the biggest distance that usually exists between two people: misunderstanding. The most effective communicators meet someone where they are and where they come from, not the other way around. Share your story with others. You never know who’s life you might touch.

I am from

Conquer your mind, control your thoughts and get the hell out of your own way

get out of your own way

Everything in this world is fleeting. Everything. Life is hard – it literally kills us all at some point. Knowing the first two statements are true, how do you begin to live differently today?

I have been asking myself this question for a long time now. Worrying is in my blood and so is this relentless need to want to know everything. Perhaps that is called impatience? Yep, that is what I’ve got deep within my bones. A whole lot of it.

I have noticed some of my closest friends in the same boat – rowing and rowing and seemingly getting nowhere. This could be with a relationship, a job, parenting – you name it. As I’ve listened to stories and lived my own, I continue to search for ways to master myself because my mind is the biggest part of the battle.

It sounds easy to change your mindset or conquer your thoughts. There are so many things in life that I can easily learn and apply whether it be a new skill, understanding a mathematical equation or a challenge at work. But, this is not the case when trying to conquer my own mind. Some times are easier than others, but to consistently have the frame of mind to take you to the next level in life is something I am sure very few people accomplish in a lifetime. I am bound and determined to be one of them, though!

I tend to take bits and pieces of things I’ve read or seen and put together my own puzzle in terms of helping myself with anything. My mind challenge has been no different. So, here are the things I’ve learned so far to start to truly live above the daily grind and constant worry about tomorrow.

  1. Focus first on staying true to who you are and who you want to be

This includes doing all of the things you want to do while on this earth. Quit talking about everything you want to do and pick one thing and do it. Just one. Don’t sacrifice your personality for anyone. Don’t hold back for anyone. The right people will be in your life no matter what. I am guilty of this – over and over I am guilty of it. I hold back. So, I made a list for this one. My list includes every area of my life and every role that I play that is vital for keeping me true to myself. Tip: if you write it down it magically becomes easier to focus on. I am going to sign up for golf lessons next month. That is my action step. Keep me accountable!

  1. Take your time whenever you absolutely can – sit in the traffic jam instead of choosing the fast lane and see how your decisions change

I’ve read this before as practice the pause. My daughter recently wanted to get a pixie cut (and still does). When she makes up her mind to do something, she wants it right then and won’t even stop to think about it. It eerily reminds me of me at her age.  Now that I am older and wiser I try to teach her these lessons but they just don’t seem to sink in very well?! I settled to let her get her very long, beautiful and thick hair (that I wish I had!) cut to above her shoulders.

There are so many times in life that once I get through something or give it time, my thoughts and feelings about the situation completely change. Practice the pause. Let go and let God!

  1. Be ok with the spotlight not on you

Pride and ego. Both can be so ugly and can highlight insecurities that you never even knew you had. My top two strengths from the Strengthsfinder assessment are Achiever and Competition.  While these two strengths drive me to great things, they also get in my way. I always want the next title at work. I want to be the best at certain things. Those things drive me and that is ok. I don’t want to need recognition or attention, though.

I read once that “beautiful things ask for no attention.” Yet here I am continuing to want attention. All. The. Freaking. Time. I am working on this one. It has been an eye opener for me as I have tried to pinpoint the deep reasoning behind certain thoughts and behaviors. My goal is to serve others, recognize others and be content in the shadows, behind the scenes. There is this song I listen to and some of the lyrics are “I don’t need my name in lights. I’m famous in my Father’s eyes.” THIS. SO MUCH THIS.

  1. Respect yourself and demand the same of others

Make a list of your standards in life – for anything – your job, relationships, faith, etc. Respect yourself enough to stick to these standards. Speak up for what you believe in. Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Don’t let yourself be disrespected first and foremost by yourself. And certainly not by anyone else. I am a people-pleaser and accommodating by nature, which makes this one especially challenging for me.

  1. Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket

No one is responsible for your happiness but you. Relying on someone else for it is the surest way to be disappointed.

  1. Smile

“Let your smile change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.” <— That is a sign I got from my parents once. I have a ginormous smile and an obnoxious giggle when you really get me going. At times I have been self-conscious of both. I was told recently that my son shares my exact laugh. I never noticed that before, but one thing I did notice many times was how much his laugh makes me smile.  So, I have decided to smile and laugh my own crazy laugh as much as I possibly can.

  1. 24 hours at a time – nothing more

God gave us life in 24 hour chunks for a reason. He said he would never give us more than we can handle or tempt us more than we can bear. We do this to ourselves by thinking beyond the present moment. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We are all one phone call, text message or media blast away from tragedy that personally impacts us. This is why we have many “before this” and “after this” moments. These are the lines drawn in the sand when we experience something that changes things so profoundly, nothing is ever the same afterward. And, no one is immune to these things. Living for 24 hours also helps us know we can get through anything. You CAN get through the next 24 hours and then the next 24 hours and then the next. Time has a mysterious way of making things ok.

I have been working on the 24 hour rule for a good year – not that I haven’t always tried to live this way – but it has been one of my main focuses. I don’t do this perfectly every day. I do take a deep breath and remind myself of living for the day when my mind starts to get too far ahead of itself. Living for 24 hours at time allows us to enjoy surprises as they come. Living for the day helps with worry. Worrying only makes us suffer multiple times instead of just when it happens – if it even ever does.

  1. EVERYTHING in moderation

80/20 rule. Not just with food and exercise, but with everything. You can literally over-indulge on anything other than seeking God. Give yourself a break and then get right back on track.

  1. Everyone you meet knows something you don’t

You will benefit from having a conversation you didn’t want to have or shy away from having. A quote that sticks out to me is “don’t be afraid of the conversations you are having. Be afraid of the conversations you are not having.” How true is this? It applies to all areas from the stranger sitting next to you on the airplane to your kids to your significant other to your co-workers. Put yourself out there, smile and ask someone a simple question in order to learn a whole lot. You never know who you will meet or what it will lead to.

  1. Have a forgiving heart

Holding grudges literally kills our soul. Try really hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you find it is difficult to give grace and forgive. Not a single one of us is perfect. We are human and we sometimes unintentionally hurt others (sometimes intentional too, I know) and unfortunately, often times hurt the ones we love the most. Give the benefit of the doubt first. Most of the time it is a lack of communication or simply coming from different perspectives. We assume that others think the exact same way we do. It is human nature. However, that is not true. The biggest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Love unconditionally. Be the nicest to those who aren’t the nicest to you. This will set you free.

  1. If you see something in someone or feel something for someone, SAY IT

There is nothing worse than suppressed thoughts and feelings. You also just might make someone’s day when you express yourself. This is something I read every single day to remind myself:

Missing someone? CALL

Want to see someone? INVITE

Want to be understood? EXPLAIN

Have a question? ASK

Don’t like something? SAY IT

Like something? STATE IT

Want something? ASK FOR IT

Love someone? TELL THEM

I will give fair warning right now that the list I made above is not an easy list to follow. I do better at some of them over others depending on the day, but I am constantly trying to live my life this way. I figure if I have one small win everyday, it will add up to a big difference. A difference where my mind is clear and I actually notice and enjoy all of the little things or surprises throughout the day.  A difference where I worry less and tackle the hard stuff as it comes to me, instead of trying to tackle things in my mind, of which 90% + won’t even actually happen.  A difference where I dismiss the vision in my head of how I want things to be and LET THEM BE AS THEY ARE. A difference where I give up control and just be me, loving the hell out of the people in my life, telling them daily and respecting myself enough to take care of every morsel of my being – mind, body and spirit.

Funny (and irritating) plane ride story

Current situation. On a plane to Chicago. In the window seat. Guy on the aisle is snoring – like Larry Zars snoring (my dad – who could win an Olympic medal for snoring – but don’t worry, he doesn’t have Sleep Apnea – just ask him!) The guy in the middle is seriously in my bubble – and I am so close to the window that any closer I’d be skydiving.

I am going to have a serious neck and back ache from having to sit this way for almost 4 hours. I elbowed his arm once and gave him my best death look and he moved it, but now it is right back way over the arm rest. And he has a cold, is sniffling non-stop and using the same nasty tissue that I fear is going to touch me. I am usually pretty laid back but I am outright irritated at this point.

I am too nice. It is difficult for me to look someone in the eye and say excuse me you are being a giant d-bag. Will you please get out of my space? And take some freaking nyquil. I’d rather you be snoring like the other guy.

And the internet is slow.

And get this – the middle seat guy was sitting in the aisle seat when I got to the row. He told me that if I would’ve had the aisle seat he was going to ask me to switch because he doesn’t like the middle seat (because so many people do). Luckily I had the window seat or I probably would’ve let him have the aisle seat. When the other guy came to claim the aisle seat, middle seat guy didn’t even ask him to switch!

I almost paid extra for a closer seat. It would’ve been worth every penny. SMH, looking out the window…man I’d rather be skydiving right now.

I'd rather be skydiving right now.