Next Year Starts Today

I know.

It’s black Friday.

Sales.

Stores.

Shopping.

But let’s think of an alternate universe….one where we think about our goals for next year…aka resolutions.

I think we should all start our new year’s goals today.

Why? you ask skeptically.

Because there’s no pressure.

None.

If you decide to work out, you don’t feel any pressure that a proclamation was made- “I hereby decree that I will work out every day for two hours.” (which we know will be just dust in the wind by January 2)

You just take a walk around the block, or do some sit ups.

And tomorrow you do some lunges and some arm circles.

No. Pressure.

You ease into the new year with a plan of attack. You’ve already cut out what you don’t like, and have figured out some stuff that you do.

By the time January 1 rolls around, you are already into a routine.

Don’t think about what you can buy today that will make you “better”: think about what action you can perform that will make you feel better- about your body, your mind, your situation, your life. And do one small step towards achieving it.

A better life can not be found in a box 50% off that you had to wait in line for, for three hours.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Some shots from last nights balloon inflation! Have a great day!!

Whose Life is it Anyway….

John and Jane Doe are married.

Jane Doe goes to the Doctor for her annual check up and finds out she has a disease. She makes appointments with specialists and reads up on the illness. She finds a Doctor that she likes and is confident with the treatment plan that is put before her.

John Doe is not a Doctor. John Doe has never had this illness, nor know much about it. John Doe does some internet searching and determines that he likes a different course of treatment. He wants Jane Doe to do something other than what she likes.

Is it HER life and choice?

OR

Is it THEIR life and choice?

How much say does your spouse have in a medical decision and course of treatment?

Once you have discussed the options with your partner, and family if wanted, how much do you take other people’s feeling/wishes into account?

Do you choose a course of action you’re not comfortable with to please your partner?

How much does your partner matter in the decision making regarding your course of treatment?

Is the expectation that the decision should be made as a unit? Or should it be made by the individual undergoing the treatment?

Does John Doe have the right to be disappointed if Jane Doe doesn’t listen to him regarding her treatment?

How much should John Doe push Jane Doe into doing what he wants?

Does your opinion change at all if John and Jane Doe are not married, but just living together?

What does being a partner mean if one is ill?

Disclaimer: This is a hypothetical situation and is NOT happening to me. I’m just trying to get a handle on the topic we’ve been discussing as to how partners treat and respect one another, and how we handle expectations and disappointment, and obviously, agree or disapgree on things.

Agree to Disagree

No two people are alike. We are all as unique as our fingerprints. Yet, most of us manage to find relationships, whether they be family, friends, or romantic partners. How important is it for the people in a relationship to be in sync? Are certain issues more important than others?

Let’s talk about partners. What are the most important ways for two people to be alike? Obviously, it’s specific to the actual sets of people. I know people who would never consider marrying someone who was not the same religion, while others could care less.

But what about politics? Can a democrat and a republican share a bed without the pull of left or right entering into the discussion? Do you lose respect for your partner if they don’t pull the same lever as you do in the voting box? Or in NYC, fill in the same blanks?

How about how you want to raise your kids? Before marriage people may talk about wanting kids, but how often do they ask what the tenets of parenthood are? Can a disciplinarian coexist with a laisez faire parent?

Rural or urban? If one partner dreams about living on ten acres, miles away from anything, can their partner be someone who likes walking two minutes to get a Starbucks? Remember Green Acres? Did Lisa really like living with a pig? If the show lasted longer would she have moved back to Park Avenue?

I’ve seen plenty of home decorating shows where a sparse modern is paired with a cozy Victorian, and I really begin to wonder how many other things are they opposite on.

Which differences matter more than others?

How are you and your partner different and does it cause friction?

How are you able to compromise, or at least reach détente on issues that you don’t see eye to eye on?

How many differences are too many?

Irreconcilable differences is a valid reason for divorce. Is that just a fancy way of saying “We just disagree?”

All comments welcome!! There are no wrong or right answers….it’s just food for thought…

 

I Bet I Can Change Your Mind

I like to argue. I like to debate. I also like to ask questions.

I’m not doing this because I’m a contrarian. I’m not doing this because I’m annoying (I’m annoying for a whole host of other reasons…) I do it because I am always looking for new perspective. I do it because I am always looking for the opposite opinion. We only grow by learning, and we only learn by questioning and talking. But somewhere along the line, I think we’ve forgotten that.

Last week my blog friend Kim wrote a review for a book. She really liked the book, while I didn’t. Her review was very accurate as to what happened and how the author explained things.

“Good review. But I still don’t like the book.” I said.

“I didn’t expect you to change your mind.” she replied.

“You didn’t?” I asked. Now here’s where written communication gets tricky because I needed a wink emoji in here because I was totally joking.

“No. Not at all.” she responded seriously.

To which I replied that I was joking, because obviously we are allowed to share opinions and not expect people to change their minds.

Aren’t we?

This week I wrote a few blogs with what you could call discussionable topics. I was discussing a point I had made with a blog friend, and at one point she said “You’re not going to get me to change my mind.” I responded quickly that my goal wasn’t to get her to change her mind, only think about something in a different way.

There are very few things that are completely right or completely wrong. The vast majority of things fall in the grey area of life. Unfortunately, I think most people only discuss their theory of thought, and only read things, or watch things,  that back up their particular ideology. This is a dangerous game. This divides us.

I admit this line of thinking is why I don’t discuss politics or religion. It’s why many people don’t discuss politics or religion. People become zealots to a certain degree- where they just keep telling you their opinion is right, and the other is wrong, and you’re stupid if you don’t agree.

Point of fact- no one is stupid.

Point of fact- there is more than one way to look at any subject.

Point of fact- right and wrong are arbitrary.

Point of fact- no one knows everything.

This is why (with the exception of politics or religion) I choose to discuss things. I look forward to meeting up with my friend S, because she, more often than not, disagrees with me on everything. I love talking to her because she makes me think about things in ways I hadn’t thought of. I need to go out of my mental comfort zone and see the other side of the picture. She may not change my mind, but she has given me food for thought. She has expanded my mind.

If you only study what you know, how do you learn anything new?

Don’t shy away from discussing ideas with others- it shouldn’t mean that someone is trying to force one’s opinion down another’s throat. It should mean opening up another line of dialogue. It should mean temporarily putting your feet in someone else’s shoes. It should mean learning something that you didn’t know when the day started.

Ask a question. Share your thoughts. Learn something new. Think about something differently.

Open your mind.

 

 

Disappointment is the Shadow Cast by Expectation

Disappointment is the shadow cast by expectation- as quoted by Cindy Color &Light in response to my blog yesterday. I love this thought, because it so accurately sums up what I was thinking, without knowing that was what I was thinking.

Yesterday I started with the premise that it is inevitable that we will disappoint those that we are in relationships with. I know some thought that this was a rather harsh and sad way to view life and relationships- which it is, but is it also just the reality of relationships? The reality of two or more people interacting? So I decided to break this down a bit more.

Last weekend the plan was that my husband I would have dinner at a bar/restaurant down the street from my home. My expectation was that it would just be the two of us.

He called me on Friday and asked if I would mind inviting two other couples to the evening. I said fine, thought I was slightly disappointed because I really didn’t feel like a group- you know- introvert- groups suck up my energy.  My expectation was that we would meet them at the place at 7pm.

Saturday arrives, and it turns out that my Husband has invited the couples over to our house at 6pm, for cocktails before dinner. I am now disappointed again, because it is not what I envisioned.

Unbeknownst to me, my Husband has also reached out to another couple, (who are with friends) to meet up with us. The texting between my Husband and this group begins at 6. The group is growing larger, as is my disappointment.

The original six go to the restaurant at 7. Continued texting is going on between my husband and the other group- they keep saying they are on their way. Fine. Disappointment rises up a notch.

It turns out we need to order ASAP because apparently the kitchen closes at 7:30- now if you know anything about NYC and bar food in general this is just bizarre, and another disappointment, but that’s a whole other story…

So the six at the restaurant order, we get our food and drinks, we watch college football, whatever. At 9pm, the other group still hasn’t arrived, but the rest of us, we’re ready to call it a night.

Fine.

At 9:15 we settle the bill. We are literally seconds away from putting on our coats. I am tired, cranky and am done with the evening.

Of course, the other group arrives.

I want to leave.

My husband says- “You can’t leave. It will look bad. You need to stay.”

My expectation is that I matter more to him than people who show up as we’re about to leave.

His expectation is that I suck it up.

My disappointment that he puts their feelings ahead of mine.

His disappointment that I wouldn’t take one for the team.

Who’s right?

Who’s wrong?

Neither?

Both?

It doesn’t matter, because we all have feelings, and both of us felt trampled on. Both of us had expectations and both were disappointed when the expectations weren’t met.

Let’s look to the larger picture. In the context of a long term relationship, is this a deal breaker?

  1. If the situation is a one off, never happened before, never happens again, it’s probably one small incident that doesn’t interfere in your relationship.
  2. If it happens maybe once a year, it’s a slight annoyance.
  3. If it happens continually, it’s the beginnings of a problem.

When we’re in a relationship we expect things. That’s what vows are at a wedding ceremony- you are setting the minimal expectations that involve being part of a union. We also may expect that we will have children, or buy a house, or travel the world. If our partner (or child, or parent) doesn’t share those expectations…what happens?

 

Disappointment

I often find that there is a certain circularity to life. Yesterday I penned a diatribe about how my Mother still finds ways to drive me crazy, which is sort of circular in itself. I had a conversation with a friend who wonders if they will make a good parent because they did not have a great role model….which is similar to thoughts that I had had before I had a child, which harkens to my blog post. Plus, we read a book for book club….

I had book club yesterday. We had read “Waking Lions” by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen (translation Sondra Silverston). During discussion of the book (because we really do discuss the book in my book club) the person moderating the discussion wanted us to discuss a quote that she found interesting…

Like all fathers, he knew it was inevitable that he was destined to disappoint his son.

Isn’t it odd that this was a quote that I was asked to discuss not long after I wrote a blog about how my Mother still disappoints me?

So my question is: Is it inevitable that parents disappoint their children?

I’d like to think that no, it isn’t inevitable. But then I think about how many people are in therapy and how often it really does relate back to their childhood. The saying is that kids are resilient, but is that really the case? I think kids are less resilient because they just don’t have enough tools in the box to learn how to properly take things in, and act (or not act) upon them. Yet every day, adults make decisions that will effect their children. Which is fine, because sometimes you have to be the adult and do something that is best for the family as a whole, but they forget that the kids need to be counseled about the changes, the positives and the negatives. Kids are not rubber balls: they don’t just bounce back.

Is there really any other path than the one that leads to kids being disappointed in their parents?

Parents are human. Yet, when kids are born, their parent becomes their world: hero, nurse, monster slayer, teacher. When you are a kid, you think your parents can do no wrong. When you’re a teen, you think that parents can do no right. Of course, the truth is somewhere in between, but at that point, the kid has already been disappointed by at least one of their parents.

Where do we go from here?

I wonder if this is why so many parents aim to be “friends” with their child: if you’re a friend, you can’t disappoint your child, because a friend is a peer, not an authority figure. And if you’re not in a position of authority, how can you disappoint them?

Is this why parents indulge their children? Spoil them? Because they’re trying to evade disappointment?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that you can’t help but disappoint your kids. Part of being a parent it making touch decisions, and often those decisions are in direct opposition to what a kid has in mind. We disappoint our kids because we give them a bedtime. We disappoint them when we make them brush their teeth. And we disappoint them with major things: divorce, remarriage, moving, addiction. We disappoint them by dying….

My parents disappointed me in many ways, and still continue to disappoint me. They are never changing their behavior. I can only try to change my reaction to them. Some days that is easier than others.

And it all comes back to resilience. We need to have a resilient core in order to do anything…

Stomping My Feet

So here I am, closer to the right side of sixty than the wrong side of fifty, and my Mother can still make me retreat to a sulky adolescent. What’s the word people love to throw around, triggered? Yes- this would sum up what my Mother is still able to do to me. And today you’re going to hear about it.

My Mother was a helicopter parent long before it was fashionable. When other kids talk about their youth, and how they just ran around all day, I sit and listen with fascination, because that was not how it was in our house. I think I’m an avid reader because that was about the only thing my Mother thought was “safe” was sitting in your room with a book . Her biggest refrain was “What do you need to go outside for? What’s out there for you?” My Mother was (and still is) one billion percent sure that she was right about everything. There isn’t a topic that my Mother doesn’t know….. We don’t need to go into the years I spent trying to please her, and how that was a big, fat miserable failure…

But I digress…

Last week my Mother called, and the topic was my Daughter.

“Did you know”

I can still hear the exhale of smoke even though my Mother hasn’t smoked in thirty years, but I’ve heard this same song for so long I only have to figure out which lyrics will come next…

“…………….your daughter is doing volunteer work in an underprivileged school………”

And in my mind I’m like no ma, not at all, even though I talk to daughter every day and I had to sign a permission slip….

“Well you know, DC isn’t all designer shops and the Smithsonian” 

Because again, I have no idea where my daughter goes to school or what a city is..

….it’s in a very bad neighborhood….

Well, how do you know how bad the area is? And really, what does it matter, because she’s an adult- maybe not when she started doing the volunteer work, but she is now, and she’s doing a good thing, helping kids who need help, and she’s done this since high school and she likes helping and WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS A BAD THING AND WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS ABOUT YOU? I didn’t say it in those words exactly, but you get the idea of my response… to which she replied:

“Well I guess you know everything. I’m just pointing out things to you, but I guess I don’t need to…”

Triggered. I could feel my body tense up, and I immediately began rubbing my left eye brow which is what I do when I’m stressed out because it is my self soothing mechanism (FYI- spot was practically bald when I was growing up)

Of course, this conversation led to:

You know…..it wouldn’t be bad if she dated….

OMG

Why why why do people think it’s bad if you’re not dating. And the worst part is, my Mother will SWEAR that she never gave my sister and I grief about not dating, or not having boyfriends, which lead to more angst about not being good enough…

“So you’re saying that she needs a boyfriend or girlfriend?”

I didn’t say that. I just said it wouldn’t be the worst thing…

Why?

Well, eventually she’s going to want to…

Maybe she won’t, maybe she will, who cares…..at this point I decided that the dog really needed to go out  so I got off the phone because I couldn’t stand one more moment talking to her and figuring out what else she was going to have a problem with. All I wanted to do was stomp my feet, scream and have a really solid tantrum.

Why do parents have the capability to make you lose your cool?

My problem was, I felt like she was attacking my daughter’s choices, which no one does on my watch, because that is my baby and no one is allowed to say anything bad about her….especially her grandmother. Obviously, I also took it as a gut punch to my parenting skills, because obviously I’m doing something wrong. Which goes back to the whole my mother never approved of me and had unreal expectations and  now my eyebrow is bald and I want to eat everything in the freezer except that all that is in there are little ziplocs of leftover ingredients that I had too much of when I cooked and who wants to have a spoon of tomato puree, a dash of chipotle in adobo, and a speck of ginger on top of a banana?

See?

I need a drive thru therapist right now.

“Welcome to McShrink, what can I get you today?”

“I’ll have a mother doesn’t think I’m good at anything, along with a side of self doubt”

So yes. I might be a grown up verging on the senior citizen discount, but my mother still has the ability to make me feel like a child….I only hope I don’t do the same to my daughter.

What Do You Do All Day

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about some job related issues. I’ve complained about the new short term economic goals, and while some agree with my analysis, others did not. The people that understand and appreciate the new ethos of pick up and leave, jump from job to job, there is no such thing as stability camp were shouting the virtues of living a happy life. Do what you want because you shouldn’t be beholden to a job. Life’s too short: you need to live.

Ok. For today’s discussion, let’s assume that these people are right. As working for a corporation, or even a steady 9-5 job can be soulless, and frankly, hard to achieve, we’ll go with jobs should be secondary to life.

So…

Why are stay at home Moms (SAHM) brutalized?

I was a SAHM.  In a world where anything goes, why was I given grief about being “just a Mom”?

As TJ pointed out last week, she stated that she always wanted to be a Mom. That was the career she always wanted. She said it almost apologetically though, like, I know it sounds funny, but this is what I wanted.

Why is Mom as a “profession” or “career” not as respected as other things?

Directly, or indirectly I’ve been referred to as lazy, stupid and lacking ambition. The question I have been asked the most is not “How are You”, but “So, what do you do all day.” Because apparently, being a Mom is easy, doesn’t take much time, doesn’t require one to think, and should not even vaguely considered a job.

Why do people take delight in belittling those who chose to stay at home?

Why does your worth as a person still depend on what you do?

Do we automatically respect some jobs while we disrespect others?

I never felt the need to defend my status as a SAHM. I made a choice to do what I thought was the right solution for me and my family. My choice, my decision, no one else’s business.

Yet…..people judged me.

I got snide looks as I showed up to school with cupcakes for the bake sale, or volunteered for field trips, or worked on executive committees for PTA. “Must be nice to have the time”. To this day, people will still say to me, “Well of course your daughter is a good student, you only have one kid and you were home with her all the time. With that situation, any kid would be good.” Really?

Why do people feel the need to make themselves feel better by putting others down?

Why do people think that being a SAHM is easy?

Why do people care so much about what others are doing, assuming it’s legal and ethical?

Judging…….