Life is about living. I’ve said this before. You only get this one life and if you don’t enjoy it, what’s the point? I’ve also pointed out that any “diet” that doesn’t let you live isn’t sustainable. Well, we put that theory to the test this past week. My son’s father turned 38 (yeah, he’s old… but still cute) and you know what birthdays mean… cake and food. In large quantities, generally speaking.
It started Thursday with a fairly healthy dinner of homemade hamburgers on fabulous whole wheat buns. But then came the cake… four layers of chocolate death, overloaded with miniature chocolate chips and filled with whipped cream. Top that with buttercream icing and you have a sugar coma just waiting to happen. We all had a slice (well, everyone but the little man, who still staunchly refuses to eat anything “normal”) and as we were all sitting there settling into our food comas I asked “so, who votes I take the remainder of this cake to work tomorrow?”
There was an immediate consensus, so there was no repeat of chocolate overload in our household the next day. Friday is our usual cheat dinner day so we had pizza. I love pizza Fridays. But then Saturday… Oh lord.
I took the birthday boy (err… man) out to dinner. We hit up a highly reviewed local Brazilian steakhouse. If you’ve never been to one, let me explain. It’s all about the meat. It is meat, meat, meat, and more meat. There’s a salad bar, sure, but as yummy as the offerings there, the main attraction are the numerous gauchos walking around with various cuts of meat on spits, offering you everything from lamb, to filet, to rib eye steak. There are sausages and chicken legs and bacon wrapped goodness everywhere you look. You pay a flat rate for each diner and in return you get a little disk.
When you flip the disk to the green side, you’re swarmed by gauchos, all sweet and polite and bearing meaty death anyway you like it. Flip it to red and they leave you to stuff your face in peace.
Needless to say I warned the birthday boy to wear loose-fitting pants. After overdosing on meat we went back to my sister’s house for beer and board games. My brother-in-law is a game reviewer, so he gets all kinds of cool games to play for free (in addition to press passes to events like Comic-Con, where he meets people like William Shatner, Robert Downey Jr., and Nathan Fillion… he’s such an asshole – because he never invites me!!! LOL).
Anyway, the games are always new and interesting and we have a blast playing them. On the way back to my sister’s house though, I said to the birthday boy “ugh… you better hope she’s not planning cake or anything.” This earned a very heartfelt groan from the passenger seat.
Our little man had a blast running around with his cousin, until he tried to slide under the railing to the stairs feet first. We all had a heart attack when my niece started yelling for us. Mind you, we were only five feet away, but the stairs are around a small corner in my sister’s usually very child safe house. Thankfully, our little snot is a little too big to fit all the way through and no harm was done (unless you count our nerves being completely fried).
A reprimand for the little boy and huge hugs for the little girl and all was well again.
… and it was time for cake. Oh, the poor birthday boy.
When the night of fun and games was over my brother-in-law was packing up the cake. I adamantly told him “we are not taking that home”. There was a small fuss, but in the end I was brooking no argument.
So, we lived this past week. It’s a good thing exercising is a part of living as well and that over-indulgence only happens on occasion.
Enjoy life. Overeat once in a while. Try new restaurants. But know when to say no. Don’t take the cake home with you because if it’s in your house, you’ll eat it all.
But whatever you do, don’t skip the experiences just because you’re on a “diet”. After all, life is always better with a few sprinkles and a little icing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “The only thing holding women back is other women”. It is absolutely ridiculous the way women feel they have to compete with each other by tearing each other down. Snarky comments, unwarranted insults, callous judgment; we’re terrible to each other. What we don’t see is that it’s not only hurtful toward the person you aim it at, it’s self-detrimental as well.
I get that we’re conditioned from birth to be the prettiest, to compete for the attention and affection of other, to be jealous of any girl/woman who has something we covet. But at some point in time, we all grow up. One would think that in growing up we’d be able to teach our daughters, nieces, siblings, etc… to be better women.
The other day I saw a heavier woman jogging on the side of the road. A few years ago I would have thought to myself – “Keep going girl, lord knows you need it.” Now I think “Good for you, keep it up!”
It took years of mental conditioning to go from criticizer to cheerleader. We pick on each other on the basis of looks, weight, personality, intelligence, fitness, clothing, boyfriends/girlfriends, occupation, gpa, parents, siblings, children, child rearing practices… the list can literally go on and on. Every single nuance of your life is open for criticism so that another woman can benchmark and unconsciously rank herself against you.
She’s prettier than I am: -1pt
Her house is larger -5 pts:
She drives a nicer car: -3pts
She’s got much larger boobs: – 1pt
Her husband is fatter than mine: +3 pts
Her son got a D in English, mine got an A: +6 pts
Her nose is crooked: +4 pts
Her lawn looks like crap: +3 pts
Her ass is sagging: +6pts
If we could count cards in Vegas the way we tally our social ranking as women, we truly would rule the world.
The problem is, we don’t keep it completely internalized either. The above tallying would converse something like this:
“You look great today, Sally , are you trying new makeup? I don’t know how you keep up with your mortgage payment, don’t you every worry that John will lose his job and you’ll get foreclosed on? The leather seating in your car is so extravagant, it’s too bad it’s not available on my car, but you know my car is eco-friendly, so no animals were hurt in the process of building it. Do you think that much cleavage is appropriate for our outing today? I mean, we’re heading over to a “play-date” so my son can help Johnny Jr. with his English homework. Speaking of Johnny Jr., it looks like all this studying has him behind on his chores, I couldn’t help but notice your lawn is overgrown…. Oh, Johnny Jr. doesn’t handle that? Please tell me John won’t be out there mowing shirtless again. Maybe all of us could hit the Gym together later, I mean, I go every day so my ass doesn’t start sagging.”
And this would be the conversation between “friends”. Can you imagine the out-and-out hostility between people who don’t know each other?
Even with as enlightened as I try to be, I rank myself without thought sometimes. It’s hard work to deprogram a habit you’ve had ever since your school friends pointed out that you were still carrying a Teddy Ruxpin lunchbox when they had already moved on to Barbie or Rainbow Brite. These habits start in grade school. Even my optimistic self can’t conquer them overnight.
When I catch myself rating what I have, how I look, or anything else about me, I have to pull myself back. I have a great family and supportive friends, I’m active and fit and healthy and I’m providing my son with the best foundation I possibly can. I have to work harder at not judging myself than I do at not judging others.
How much do you judge others? How much do you judge yourself? Is there a male perspective out there you can share with me?
Women, answer me this, why can’t we be one large sisterhood? Our mothers and grandmothers fought for equality with men in the workplace, in the political world. They fought for the freedom of choice. We can choose to work. We can choose to vote. We can choose to raise our children as we see fit.
Why, when they struggled for this equality, do we now see fit to terrorize other women based on their choices or even worse, on their looks?
The next time you feel you have the right to judge another woman, think about whether or not you’re doing it just to make yourself feel better. Seek out your own insecurities and attack them with the same vigor you attack other women and maybe, just maybe, we can finally take a step towards building a web of support and cheering on other women that changes the future of womanhood for the following generations.
Smile sympathetically at the woman whose child is having a meltdown in a public place instead of shaking your head in disdain.
Cheer on the woman who has the confidence to jog in public for working to better her health.
Be supportive of a woman’s choice to breastfeed, or bottle feed, or co sleep or detachment parent.
Spread laughter and acceptance so that you can reap laughter and acceptance in return.
To any woman who reads this who has ever been judged by herself or others, let me say “I accept you, I support you, and I will cheer you on as you struggle to make your path in this world. Be happy with who you are and I will be happy for you as well!”
Just my thought of the day.
In the first quarter of this year I lost 30 pounds due to stress. I had what was, basically, a nervous breakdown. I am the opposite of a stress eater. I suffer from stress induced anorexia, I also tend to not eat when I’m really involved or occupied by something. Obviously no one, not even me, was happy with my weight loss. But when I got a handle on things and was able to drag my happy, optimistic self back up to the gleaming surface of the world again, I decided I was going to seize this moment and turn it in my favor.
It was time to take something that was unhappy and unhealthy and turn it into something beautiful and empowering.
I resolved to eat better. Not healthier, per se, because I already focus on veggies, fruit, and moderated portions. But definitely more often and on a routine schedule – so I started packing a full work days’ worth of meals every day that included snacks and vitamin supplements. I limited my coffee drinking to before 11:00am and I increased my water intake to nearly a gallon a day. I started tracking my calories again.
I signed up for Warrior Dash, which forced my unmotivated behind to return to the gym (where I hadn’t been for 4 months) where I signed up for two boot camp and one spin class each week.
I’d lost the weight, which was half of what was holding me back. Now it was time to tone and strengthen.
So, to keep myself honest, this is my progress report.
To date: I’ve gained 5 pounds but lost: 4 inches on my hips, 1.5 inches on my waist, and 1 inch on my chest. I wear a size 6 jean (7 juniors) but I now have to wash and dry them on hot and after wearing them for an hour or so they sag in the thighs and butt. Official sizing charts put me in a size 4 (5’6” – 34, 25, 36) but we’ll see about that.
The bikini I purchased for motivation is, because I’m a moron and bought a large, too big on the bottom. So I’m going to have to buy a new bottom prior to our trip to the Dells at the end of the month.
On the exercise front: I can run a mile at a 6 mph pace without stopping or feeling like I’m going to die. My squats go all the way to the floor now and I have actual muscle in the back of my arms, as opposed to old lady pigeon wings. I don’t even complain about the diamond push-ups in boot camp anymore.
I’ve been lazy with my running program. I’d like to say I’ve been too busy with school (I just finished another 4.0 semester which brings me to 3.88GPA overall) but the truth is I’ve just been more interested in having a life. I’m going to try to get back on board with the running, but I won’t kick myself too hard if I don’t, since I’m still taking classes during the week.
My food intake has improved, but it’s not perfect. I do great on the days I’m at work, but on Thursday and the weekends I forget to eat, I sneak coffee in the afternoons, I don’t drink enough water, and I completely forget about my vitamins. I’m working on a solution for this… Probably making a week’s worth of meals on Sunday, so I have no excuses not to eat. But, at least on average, I’m meeting my calorie minimum every day!
All in all, I’m glad I’m back to my shiny, happy self. I’m determined to continue on my path of personal growth and, barring another extremely traumatic series of events, am hoping to avoid any more nervous breakdowns because it’s really not the preferred method of losing weight.
This post is my way of keeping me honest about my progress this far. Pictures might be added at a later date.
“Top 10 Tricks to Keep Your Relationship Strong!”
“Seven Secrets of Successful Couples Revealed.”
Get in line at the checkout of any store and these headlines pop out at you, challenging you to pick it up off the rack and add it to the cart full of stuff you probably don’t actually need. You thought you were happy with your relationship, but maybe those “successful couples” know something you don’t.
We’re cultivated from birth, in our culture of consumerism and vanity, to always look for the next best thing. Nothing is ever supposed to be good enough. There’s always a better version around the corner. And there are magazines, commercials, and all other forms of marketing there in the background whispering, always whispering, that you’re probably not as happy as you should be. With yourself, with your thighs, with your food, with your children, with your relationships; you don’t even realize it but as a woman everything about you is under a slow, steady, never-ending merchandising attack.
Stop at the magazine rack the next time you‘re at your local bookstore and note the difference in headlines. Ironically, the Men’s Magazines and the Women’s Magazines might feature a beautiful woman on the cover, but for completely different reasons. When was the last time you saw a Men’s Magazine that said “10 Sex Moves that Will Blow her Mind and Bind her Heart”? The sexism of the media and advertising has been much debated over the years but all you really have to do is walk through a store and pay attention to what lines the aisles; the differences between how things are labeled for men and women.
Women: Your wrinkles, laugh lines, cellulite, graying hair, dull uneven skin, lifeless or limp tresses, saggy arms (boobs, thighs, butt, whatever) are all HORRIBLE. You will hate yourself forever if you don’t fix them. Your children are not smart/cute/advanced/gifted/spoiled/organic/indulged/enlightened/etc.. enough and will grow up to be gang banging serial puppy murderers if you don’t catch up. Your relationship is NOT happy! You’re deluding yourself if you think it is.
Men: You need to increase your physical and sexual performance, take this supplement. Look at this half naked model on the cover; she likes puppies and her turnoffs are drama, carbs, and puffy-beer bellied men. You should work out more. You should also eat lots of meat, drink lots of beer, watch lots of sports, and be practically chained to your grill.
Yes, that was a very sexist view of the marketing strategies aimed at women and men and it represents just the two extreme sides but really… walk through a store and really look around. If you’re not offended, then I applaud you. Eventually, we’ll go into depth about the garbage that bombards women from the day they’re born and makes them so neurotic, but that day is not today.
Today I want to focus on relationships. Now, you might ask why I lead in to this subject the way I did and there are a couple of reasons for that.
1.) American culture presents relationships and the associated value of said relationships differently to men and women.
2.) Men and Women have been trained to view relationships differently.
3.) There’s a good chance that something is sabotaging your relationship and you don’t even realize it.
4.) It’s my blog and I can lead in to a topic any way I want. So Nyeh!
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way:
We’ve all be taught to look for the fairy tale. True, all consuming, match made in heaven, they lived happily ever after, love. The pieces will fall together perfectly and it will seem almost effortless. Even when you fight it will be (relatively) easily resolved. “I’m Sorry” always heals all wounds.
Wow! What a load of CRAP! You might find your perfect match and it might feel like that – for a little while. But all relationships eventually require work. They will not always be perfect. You will argue. You will fight. “I’m sorry” sometimes won’t count for shit.
Now we can move on to the real heart of the relationship issue:
Women learn early that a relationship is essentially required in order for her to be complete. Men, however, are taught to be complete on their own. This isn’t anything new and really shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. But for some reason, I’m fairly sure I can hear the indignation of the women reading this right now.
“I don’t need a man to complete me!!!”
And you’re right. You don’t.
But, chances are, you’re still acting and thinking like you do. See, a woman secure in herself and her relationships reads that and thinks “That doesn’t apply to me.” She gives a little shrug and moves on to a different blog. She doesn’t get upset or defensive. She also doesn’t buy magazines because they have such enticing articles as”2012 – your astrological predictions for lasting love”.
If it makes you feel any better, I’m with you. I still get defensive; just not as often as I used to.
The more aware you are of yourself and your surroundings (including the little landmines that try to sabotage your relationship and self-esteem) the more you’ll be able to be like the confident woman who read that and clicked the little “x” on their browsers thinking “Wow, what a completely ridiculous thing to say. That blog totally doesn’t apply to me.”
The more aware you are, the more you’ll challenge the way you view things. Why do you think your wrinkles are ugly? Why do you think your cellulite makes you less attractive? Why do you think the stretch marks you gained while creating life are hideous? Where did you get the idea that you have to wait for someone to sweep you off your feet? Who do you think has the perfect life and why do you think so? How much airbrushing do you think that model needed?
You’ll challenge yourself so much, in fact, that you could end up viewing everything in your life differently. But you have to be willing to ask and answer the hard questions. You have to give up your current mindset (” This is wrong with me”) and adopt a new one (“this is right with me”).
In all relationships (friends, lovers, family, etc…) each person brings something to the table and needs something in return. Both parties come with baggage, surprises, and scars. But they also come with unique views and, hopefully, characteristics that can help you achieve a better personhood. See, a good partner won’t complete you (sorry, Jerry Maguire fans) but it should assist you in your personal evolvement. It should be something that you can grow with, something that gives you room to be yourself, helps you feel secure to become the person you’re supposed to be, and provides support, encouragement, and love in times of setbacks or frustration. Just don’t expect it to always be perfect. Because, there is no such thing as perfect.
I’m not going to give you a list of the top ten things you should do to make your relationship better.
But I will tell you what I’ve observed Happy couples doing. I say happy as opposed to successful because… how do you judge success in a relationship? Longevity? A couple can be miserable but stay together for 60 years. So… let’s go with happy.
1.) They respect each other: They might tease, joke, or play around. But they have a mutual respect for each other’s feelings, opinions, and input.
2.) They feel secure together: I think that a small degree of jealousy can be a good thing. You should feel protective of your relationship and partner because it holds high value to you. But at the same time, you should feel that your partner is as dedicated to your relationship as you are. You should feel completely secure in yourself and how your partner feels about you.
3.) They’re open, honest, and accepting with each other: They have nothing to hide from each other, so nothing is hidden. They wouldn’t think twice about saying “Hon, there’s an email from my sister on my account with the address, would you mind printing it out while I finish getting ready?” They know how each other feel, they express their feelings without fear, and they’re not afraid to have detailed billing on their joint cell phone account. Usually, if someone acts like they have something to hide it’s because they’re hiding something.
4.) They still say please and thank you to each other: In other words, they don’t take it for granted when their partner does something for them.
5.) They’re still affectionate towards each other: even when the super passionate period cools off. Small touches, protective gestures, and loving body language are the little physical I love you’s that show in a happy couple.
6.) They make decisions as a couple and keep each other informed: This goes hand in hand with respect. No one person has the full power to make all the decisions and no critical information is ever held back.
7.) They have similar interests, opinions and hobbies, but they are not attached at the hip. They’re as comfortable doing their own thing as they are doing things together.
8.) They’re both willing to work when things get difficult: It’s never a one sided relationship. No one wins, no one loses. They both win when they work things out.
9.) The good is more valuable than the bad: These people place more value on the good times than they dwell on the bad times. The good things they share are worth more to them or are enough to make the bad times easier to get through/work out. They can go through a stretch of hell, when everything looks bleak, and it seems to last forever. But, no matter how bad it gets, they work through it together without forgetting how they feel about one another.
10.) They mean it when they say “I’m sorry” and they understand that forgiveness doesn’t come with a time-table. Little things are forgiven with a kiss while large ones are forgiven through mutual effort and willingness to forgive.
I’m sure there are many nuances to these happy relationships that I’ve missed. But those seem to be the common; underlying themes to every couple I know who is truly happy.
The world, your friends, the media, without even trying, is going to try to sabotage your happiness. So I guess the only thing I’d add to this list is that when you feel angry, or hurt, or upset, or unhappy in your relationship; that you ask yourself “why” you feel that way and then answer honestly. Is it a “toilet seat” issue? (the equivalent of being angry because you sat down on the cold, porcelain rim of the toilet or almost fell in – in other words, something you should let go of.)
Is it something that needs to be thought about further? Is it something that needs to be discussed?
You might learn something about yourself, what you expect/need from a relationship, and, at the very least, why you respond to things the way you do.
Do not let the media, society, your family, or even this blog tell you how to be happy. Question yourself and what you think you know. Next time you’re in a grocery line and you’re thinking you want to pick up a magazine, get the one with the collection of 30 minute meals. It’s less likely to make you dislike your body, your home, and your relationship.
And keep in mind that I’m divorced and currently single. So I probably know absolutely nothing about the actual practice of building a solid, lasting relationship. I can only try to interpret what I see, be happy with who I am, and try to implement it when I find a partner I feel is worth it (and me).
Oh, and I avoid magazines that have headlines that say “Top 10 Tricks to Keep Your Relationship Strong!. Really? 10 tricks to a strong relationship? Something about that just doesn’t sit right with me.
I officially started my training program this week. Wednesday was my first spin class and I. Am. A. Moron. I was totally prepared; brought my towel, a bottle of water, and a positive attitude. What I needed to check at the door is my propensity to overdo it. It started out well, really it did. The instructor was cheerful and pleasant. She was very encouraging.
The first ten minutes were a breeze. It was everything after that that didn’t go so well. See, the instructor tells you when to raise and lower the resistance on the bike and by how much. But I’m a rebel and when it came time to lower the resistance, I foolishly refused to take it down as low as she wanted. This is a long standing habit of mine. I put every piece of equipment I use to work out on higher levels of resistance and, for the majority of my life, left my own bicycle set on a gear that felt like slogging through mud. It’s just the way I’ve always been. I completely soaked my towel. I drank my entire bottle of water and when I stepped off the bike at the end of the 45 minute torture session (complete with arm workouts) I felt like I was going to vomit. But I survived.
Now, she warned us that our “bottoms” would hurt. I don’t know where HER bottom begins and ends, but I don’t have an ass-vag so it’s certainly NOT my butt that hurts. Just sayin’. Thankfully, I recovered rather quickly and am completely prepared to go kill myself at boot camp class tomorrow morning… where I’m sure I’ll overdo it again. Some habits just can’t be broken I guess.
Yes, I always try to look on the bright side of things. I am always trying to point out an upside, even if the situation tears me apart inside. It is a rare occurrence for me to give into my misery when I’m unhappy. That doesn’t mean that I run blindly towards the good in life. My parents raised me to “hope for the best but be prepared for the worst”. It is important to see how things could go wrong. But it’s more important to focus on what could go right.
The person who focuses only on the downside, the consequences, the negative, has nothing to hold on to or strive for. They tend to develop the “this will never work” mentality and they end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even if they try to be enthusiastic about something, the way they approach people or talk about it comes off differently than someone who truly believes things will be okay. Humans can endure untold hardship and suffering and my philosophy is simple: if you dread the outcome constantly for fear of pain; you’re likely doing more damage to yourself than any negative outcome will do.
I call myself an optimist because I see sun when there’s rain, I look for rainbows instead of pots of gold, and I know that life is short. But perhaps a more appropriate term is “Optimistic realist”. I daydream but I know they might not come true. I hope but I am not completely crushed or immobilized when something goes wrong. I have faith that the good in life will always turn back in my direction but I take the steps necessary to meet it halfway.
Our society seems to be addicted to drama. TV, reality, real life; it doesn’t matter. Drama appears to be the fuel in the tank for many people. So much so that I know a number of people (including my former self) who end up creating their own drama by complicating things needlessly, whether by accident, intent, or influence. I see too many people make their lives so much more difficult than they need to be. It makes me want to yell at them to wake up and see the havoc they’re wreaking. But the realist in me knows that I can only nudge and be patient. Optimists can’t be created instantly and people have to be free to choose their own paths in life.
There is no use in railing against those who don’t see things the way you do, who don’t share your opinions or beliefs. The best thing you can do is be yourself around them, speak from your heart and accept them as they are. I gave up trying to “bring people around” to my way of thinking a long time ago and have since learned to appreciate the wealth of diversity in my little corner of the world. After all, I’m sure there are beliefs or fears that I cling to that have made me who I am and I believe I am entitled to them. Why shouldn’t everyone else be entitled to theirs as well?
See the possibilities in every difficulty you face and it will feel like spring all year round. Spread the sunshine with those you love by being accepting and watch the unnecessary drama fade from your life.
A random musing from:
Live. Laugh. Love.
These are three words that I live by. No, it hasn’t always been easy. I remember, years ago when I was married, I had a husband who always needed more. More money, more things, more everything. He would stress over every little thing. Back then I gave great advice. “if there isn’t anything you can do about it right now, then just breathe and let it go. The solution will come to you when the time is right.”
I used to live by that advice too. The recession was more than monetarily devastating for a lot of people. For many people it was a time of uncertainty. A time that threw people into chaos and left them feeling a lack of security in their lives. People like me, who were doing everything right, still couldn’t get out from under the cloud of a bad economy. I liken what followed, the constant worry and anxiety, to post traumatic stress disorder. Once you’ve lived through a time where there was nothing you could do to make your life better or easier you worry that the bottom is going to fall out from under you again. Constantly.
It took baby steps to embrace life again, even when it’s chaotic. I used to enjoy occasional chaos because it kept me on my toes. I’m slowly getting back there. I refuse to worry about the things that I cannot control and I focus on living my life every day, laughing as much as I can, and loving with all my heart.
Just a short thought for the morning.
I thought today, while starting at the ceiling above me and trying desperately not to scream, that women are just insane creatures. I paid a woman good, hard earned money to day to have me lay completely bare before her, contort me into strange positions, and rip the hair out of my most sensitive skin. In the name of beauty. Seriously.
I can understand makeup, I can understand the new desire to run miles when I’m not being chased, I can even understand wearing six inch heels that kill my feet more than the pounding from running. But there are times, that as a woman, I just don’t get the torture we put ourselves through.
My most recent long term relationship I felt like I needed to be superwoman. Don’t ask me why because I honestly don’t know. It was likely a combination of my desire to take care of my family and feel some control in chaotic times and his inability to tell me he didn’t need me to do absolutely everything for fear of unbalancing my tightly coiled balancing act. The poor man, I almost pity any guy who goes up against a woman who is in a phase of her life where she’s burning herself out trying to be superwoman.
Giving up the need to be everything for everyone all the time while still doing everything was an experience similar to today’s waxing nightmare… It was a repeated ripping off of old ideas and habits, trying not to rail against yourself for making such a stupid decision in the first place. It took practice, much gritting of teeth, and a steel resolve to get to the place I am now. To not worry about every little detail. To not have to do everything perfectly all the time.
Today, in addition to paying a stranger to torture me in incomprehensible ways, I went for a run, did some light shopping, did a home kettlebell workout, and let myself have some much needed me time. I didn’t even start my homework until 9pm (even though it’s due tonight) and, Oh My God, the world didn’t stop turning on its axis.
My brain is practically reeling at this realization. My world didn’t end, nobody died, the homework still got done, and yet… I feel refreshed. I’m not completely stressed and freaking out about work in the morning. I don’t feel guilty for putting my needs first. I don’t feel horrible for making time for myself.
And I’m still superwoman.
I’m a good mother. I’m a good friend and daughter and sister. I’m a good person. And each time I let go of the habit to do everything, I become a better person. I become a happier person, able to handle adversity and twists of fate that would have thrown my entire life into chaos in the past.
I might just start wearing a cape, with my new bikini that shows off the results of my torture… you know, for fun. Just saying.
1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
I’m an optimist. I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking. I may get stressed and tired and frustrated, but I always know that it will work out. That these feelings will pass. I’m stubborn in the way that I don’t give up on people, challenges, or the world. There is always a bright side, there is always a solution, and there is always hope.
Optimists have the power to change the world. Because we are always looking for ways to make the better futures that we see. We look for color in the darkness and we see the true beauty in everything. We tend to not be shallow or superficial and sometimes we’re too honest, open, and vulnerable.
This means that we get hurt deeply when the people or things that we believe in fail us. We open our hearts in the hopes that others will do the same. We share our deepest secrets and speak from the heart. We are also thoughtful and tend to look for ways to improve ourselves.
Even when everything seems to have gone wrong for others, when I look back I remember the good things more sharply than the bad. I’ll remember the happiness and smiles and laughter. The successes and triumphs as opposed to the heartaches and pains. I see the way negatives can affect people, the way situations can make life difficult, but I always believe there can be a resolution.
So – When we’re hurt deeply, shattered to our core, do we give up trusting and having faith that things will work out? Absolutely not.
We retreat, we lick our wounds, and we focus on a better tomorrow.
But why would we continue to leave ourselves open to pain and hurt, you might ask?
Because a true optimist believes that it is better to suffer an occasional hurt (or even an earth shattering agony) than to walk through life believing in the bad, ultimately turning cynical and, in turn, miserable. I don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to meet a cynical, jaded person who is truly happy with themselves or the world.
I choose to be an optimist. I choose not to let events of circumstance or other people get me down for long. When I get knocked down, I get back up. And I’m damn proud of it.
It is the human condition to look for the easiest path. If we are unhappy with ourselves, we often blame others. Little things that are easily resolved become major annoyances, unable to be overcome when we cannot fix what is wrong with ourselves. It is this simple inability to acknowledge what the true problem is that is the downfall for so many people and relationships in this world.
How many times have you done this yourself?
You’re unhappy with a job, so you quit. Only to find the past repeats itself with your new job in short order.
You’re unhappy with how you feel about yourself, so you blame your partner for not paying you the proper attention or compliments. S/he isn’t affectionate enough, you tell yourself, and because that person doesn’t bolster your ego in the manner which you feel would make you feel better, you try to find someone who will.
You go through cycles of unhappiness and instead of looking deeper into who you are and why you are unhappy, you say you’re unhappy with where you are… when in all reality you’re likely to be unhappy with WHO you are. And you’re blaming everyone but yourself.
It’s so much easier than getting to know the uncomfortable truths about yourself. Easier to blame or walk away entirely. But does it help you in the end? No. You will never be happy unless you are accepting of who you are.
But how do you do that?
Well, the first step is to be completely honest with yourself. Whose fault is it that you’re unhappy? What have you done to contribute to your own unhappiness and the unhappiness in your relationships? Look closely at your frustrations and make sure you see all of the symptoms. Unhappiness is like an illness, if you can’t accurately identify the symptoms, you might miss the underlying cause. Is there a pattern? Are there other factors that always seem to be in play when you’re most unhappy? Do you have a chronic or recurring problem that seems to amplify your unhappiness? Do you always choose the easiest target of blame?
I’ve done it, you’ve done it… we’ve all fallen victim to this broken way of thinking at one point or another. It takes conscious effort to trace back a pattern of behavior and find the root cause. It takes willingness to see the domino effect that a single instance can have on future problems or concerns.The next time you find that you’re unhappy, take half an hour (or more) and think about all of the things that are bothering you, think about things that have happened to and with you in recent memory and make sure you’re not missing an important symptom.
Do yourself a favor and don’t try to treat the problem until you’re positive you’ve made a correct diagnosis. Sometimes inaction is a better solution while you’re attempting to determine the exact cause of a problem…. Otherwise you might end up sabotaging your own future happiness by treating the wrong problem.