Shall I compare thee…Maybe…Maybe Not

Last weekend, one of my BFF’s sent our group a photo taken back in 1987. When I first looked at the photo my feeling was gratitude- the four of us are still in pretty constant contact with one another (text chains- long, amazing, gratifying text chains). But my second thought was to compare 1987 me with 2020 me…

Yeah- that’s not a good road to go down.

So I quickly realigned my thoughts to the good, happy, these are my friends for life thoughts…

Alas, the thought of me and my younger days brought about another thought: A few years ago, another college pal, a guy asked me:

“Back in the day were you upset that your best friend was super attractive and all the guys liked her?’

My best friend was, and still is super attractive. And she has about the best personality- fun and adventurous and really the best college best friend possible, as well as lifelong friend.

But essentially, my friend was asking if I was envious of having a great looking friend.

Which means, did I often compare myself to her.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

As many stated yesterday, people compare themselves to others. We just do it: it’s human nature.

But…

How quickly does comparing yourself to another lead you to the dark side?

If I really stared at the picture of myself a million years ago, I probably could have gotten depressed that I don’t look like that anymore. In fact, I was bemoaning that to a friend yesterday who reminded me that I took care of myself and was still attractive, so there…(friends reel you back in when you start to go to the dark side)

But instead of comparing myself to 23 year old me, I looked at the Brightside of the friendship. I laughed because one of the girls in the picture still has the same earrings that she wore back then. I thought, I am so lucky to have these amazing women in my life. Today I am buying ink so that I can print out a copy of the pic to place on my desk…

When you compare yourself to another (or a younger version of yourself), you highlight that you are either better than them, or worse than them.

Why do you need to be better or worse than someone else?

How much of your self esteem is tied to being better or worse than another person?

Many high schools have gotten rid of class rank, because students comparing themselves to others was becoming a real problem. My daughter’s school did not announce the actual valedictorian until the day of graduation. They compared and contrasted and competed with one another as it was: if there was an actual rank they would have driven themselves crazy trying to be number one instead of doing all the wonderful things that they did.

Comparing may be human nature, but we need to be careful of this road. Wishing to have what others have, be what others are, is eventually going to make you feel bad about yourself. If you are constantly keeping up with the Jones Family or the Kardashian family, or any family, when are you doing what makes YOU truly happy? Is comparing yourself to others the best way to spend your energy?

If I dwelled that my best friend was more attractive then me, compared myself to her,  I would have resented her. I might not have hung out with her. And that would have been a great loss in every way.

We need to make sure we don’t live in Compareland. We need to play down the comparisons and play up our own natural attributes. Let’s face it, there is always going to be someone more attractive, successful, smarter, better writer…and there’s always going to be someone who is less attractive, less successful, less smart…. But we can’t live our lives off this particular currency. We need to live our lives being the best that we can be.

The people I know who lead the least satisfying lives are ones that tend to spend their time comparing themselves to others. Envious of their brand new shiny white kitchen. Jealous that there husband is home at 6pm every night. They spend their energy wishing they were someone else, have someone else’s objects or attributes, instead of focusing on what would make their life better. They are living life externally. They see something and they want it. But they don’t really think about working on themselves internally.

Your homework today is to consciously think about when and why you compare yourself to another. If seeing someone with a really great tennis serve inspires you to take a lesson, or practice more, than go with it. This is the good side of comparison: seeing what someone else has or does and let it inspire you to do better in a positive way. If comparing your body to the curvaceous woman/ripped guy you see at the gym makes you feel bad about yourself, or makes you hate the person, consider what comparing is doing to your self esteem. Do you need something else to make you feel bad about yourself?

Maybe you can’t control your thoughts: but you can work on your reactions to them.

 

It’s Not

I often said the wrong thing- wake up, shut up, grow up. These are the wrong thing to say when people are sad about some minor cruelty or sentimental incident. Denise Mina “Conviction”

Who says you can’t get insight from a fictional, psychological thriller?

I read this quote last week, and it sort of jibed with everything that I had been thinking and experiencing. I had a lousy week, yet there were a bunch of people who would line up to tell me that I was wrong to feel this way. I have so much more than other people. OR That no one should ever have bad days, we should all adjust our mindset to just dismiss them entirely…

I call BULLSHIT on that…

No one has the right to tell anyone how they should feel.

I’m going to repeat that so you get how emphatic I would be if you were standing next to me:

NO ONE

HAS THE RIGHT

TO TELL ANOTHER PERSON

HOW OR WHAT THEY SHOULD BE FEELING

The most personal thing we have are our feelings- our feelings are ours and ours alone. To tell someone that there feelings are wrong, it essentially telling them that they, as an individual, are wrong.

To tell someone to just think positive, or act happy, or brush it away because it doesn’t matter means you are negating the person’s ability to express emotion. You are telling them that positive emotions are the only ones we should ever feel…and you’re setting them up for a lifetime of disappointment. If the expectation is that we are supposed to be positive 100% of the time, the majority are going to be depressed 50% of the time because they will think that soemthing is wrong with them. How dare they not be happy? How dare someone doesn’t always see the rainbow? The pot of gold?

Take adversity and throw it away.

Positive people are postive all the time and that’s the way to be…

Sorry- that’s cult mentality.

But for a moment- let’s cut to the other side of this coin: the people who say- You should be happy because there are others much less fortunate than you.

I want you to think about this: If you say that there are others less fortunate than you, you are comparing.

Never compare your life to someone else’s. The grass is always greener, keeping up the Jones/Kardashian clans are bad for your mental health because you will never be content with what you have. You will always feel less.

Conversely, always looking at others and saying I’m more fortunate than them is pretty much saying- Wow- I am so much better than they are. They are inferior. I am superior. Because, let’s face it- you’re saying that you should be happy because you are not them…

We all have emotions. Good ones and not so good ones. That’s a fact. The trick is to learn how to DEAL with the myriad emotions that we all face. The goal shouldn’t be to pretend that we never feel anything negative. The goal should be to learn how to deal with the negative emotions in a positive way.

One of the greatest lessons we can teach our kids is how to deal with the bad things, whether they be as small as getting a bad grade on a test, or as large as losing someone you love. It’s our old friend resilience again… Don’t tell your kids to smile, or be happy. Don’t say to them- well, I don’t know what you’re mad about, look at all the stuff you have. Don’t say that they have it much better than you had it as a kid (comparing again)

Tell your kids that mad, sad, angry are ok. Blah is ok.

Then teach them healthy ways to deal with it. Physical activity. Creative project. Read a book or watch a show with a character that feels the same way…

Don’t tell someone that there feelings aren’t valid. All feelings are valid. The only thing not valid is telling someone that they’re not.

 

 

 

It’s Ok

If you read my blog over the weekend, you learned two things about me:

  1. I had a yucky week, where I felt like Charlie Brown when Lucy keeps taking the football away as he’s about to kick
  2. My week was filled with outings with friends and husband, art, film, books and outrageous food- all my favorite things

Sometimes, even when you have everything that you love right there, you can still have a lousy week.

Now, there are people out there that will tell you that you have nothing to feel bleh about: you have what you need. Which is a great sentiment…for them….maybe…

It’s OK to have a crappy week and hold yourself a teeny tiny pity party, little violin included…

You hear me?

Every now and the, it’s OK to let yourself wallow a little.

I am giving you permission to take an occasional Self Pity Day….

Self Care is the term du jour. It beats you over the head with special sections in book stores. It crowds the posts on Purewow and BuzzFeed. Pinterest is just one big self care journal…The goal is to take care of YOU- make sure YOU come first…healthy mind, healthy everything else… Have spa days,read a book, journal. etc. Do things to take care of you. And I am good with all of this. I have books staring at me from my desk that are all about taking care of me: Calm, Simple Abundance, Page a Day Journal…etc. I put self care in my planner…

But even with the books and the journals and the vision boards…the colored pens and relaxing music and comfy chairs…the museums and concerts and outings…

I can still feel like the world is mocking me…

You know what?

Sometimes the world is mocking me. Sometimes the world is mocking you. Sometimes life just stinks…

And we need to know that it’s OK to have a bad day, or a bad week.

It’s OK to accept your negative thoughts and just say- yeah- life sucks.

but…

even though I’m giving you permission to wallow in your misery, I’m also telling you that after a few days, you need to put on your big kid pants and just get on with life.

You can’t let self pity define you.

Sunday nights I close out my week, and begin to think about the week ahead. I also try to close out any negativity that I might be harboring- because face it, where there is good there is bad- so I can start the week off on a good note.

The bad week is gone. My time to wallow is over. I’m going to try to right the wrongs of last week…

Allow yourself to feel, no matter what the feeling is. Self care is not thinking that life is always positive. Self care is accepting that we are multi faceted and have many emotions, and it is learning to accept and deal with those emotions in a healthy way. Self care means taking care of the authentic you: not just the good, but the bad as well…

Self care days and self pity days go hand in hand. It’s all about balance. If you don’t accept the not so good days, if you try to push them away and hide them, you’re not really taking care of yourself. You’re hiding those feelings instead of dealing with them. Don’t let your bad thoughts be like those items you throw in the back closet: if you keep throwing stuff in that closet, one day it’s just going to explode. It’s not great when it happens in a storage unit: it’s really bad when that storage unit is your mind…

Good and bad. Accept it. It’s OK.

 

 

Highlights of the Week That Was 1/26/2020

On another note- I am intrigued by all the 20/20 challenges that are being done…so I decided to do monthly 20/20 challenges (total FOMO) So, as I only came up with this this week, I chose to watch 20 movies in January as I have my own personal goal to see as many Oscar nominated movies as possible…I’ll tell you next week how I did…

Gratitude Saturday 1/25/20

Ok- this week had quite a few downs, and when you have a few it becomes really hard to find positives among the negatives. Stiff neck, insurance woes (homeowners), husband sick, yogagate, misunderstandings….bleh…

But I WILL find gratitude….

OK- I am most grateful for realizing that my gym pants had a hole in the crotch before I went to yoga…. (can you imagine a bridge- ugh)…

And to piggyback…

I am grateful that Old Navy had 50% off on athletic wear…

Namaste…

Protocol

I joined Instagram a year ago, but I never really found my stride. This year I decided I would do a photo challenge: the one I found has a weekly theme. This has been a lot of fun so far. I am a hands on person: I learn by doing not from reading (which is sort of ironic because I read so much, one would think I’m a learner via that conduit but who knows how the brain works, especially mine…) so I’m starting to understand how this whole photography thing works…(kinda, sorta)

But anyway…

Instagram challenge. So I followed the hashtags that the challenge coordinator wants to use, which has brought me a few new followers, who I in turn have followed.

Fine.

But here’s the thing. Most people are content just “liking” someone’s pictures, with the occasional public comment about how pretty or cool or whatever adjective sums up the picture…

But occasionally…

Do men (or women- let’s have equality in this moment)  assume that woman who post pictures on the instagram want to be chatted up in a Dm- or IM- or whatever private messages are called?

So I received a private message last week on insta from someone who followed me (OK- when you say you have followers it does sound sort of weird and cultish and I have Eyes Wide Shut visions all of a sudden).

And some random guy sent a how are you message followed by a what’s up message.

Ok- that’s nice, but he gave me no indication that he knows my from the blog, so I ignored it. Not that I’m anti friend making, but I usually choose my friends based on some mutual interest, and both of us posting pics on Instagram is not quite enough of a common denominator.

The next day I was on insta posting a pic and he sent me another message, the emoji for writing, (ok really- are we twelve or cavemen? Just write the words…)

And I ignored him again.

So my fellow bloggers and instagrammers, what is the proper protocol for handling a person who private messages you when you have no interest in following them back?

Do you:

  1. respond playfully
  2. respond tersely
  3. ignore
  4. unfollow
  5. block the person

And the greater question:

Why do people start conversations with strangers online. especially a vehicle like Instagram which is all about the pictures? (or…is that the draw- he figures if I post a picture about lines, I’ll eventually post pictures of my lines?)

Does he really think a writing emoji is going to turn me on so much I’ll start to scribe dirty little somethings?

Do you ever just “say hi” to someone on a social media platform with no reference to anything posted? Like, no comment about a blog, or picture, or comment?

If someone randomly messages you, do you respond?

What is the protocol, the etiquette for these situations that Emily Post never dreamed of?

on a funny side note, I went to my Instagram to get the exact thing he messaged me, but he already unfollowed me…there you go…I guess he wanted to know what was behind the camera more than what I posted. Shocking…

LA Post Guide to Social Media Etiquette

When I was younger, my Mother bought me etiquette books (if you knew my family you’d understand how this was sort of ironic, but sort of necessary) I don’t remember what mine was called, but I clearly remember my sister being gifted “Tiffany’s Table Manner for Teens” (again- if you knew my sister you would find this laughable…)

There used to be a certain code- a certain way of doing things. Recently one of my blog friends (sorry- can’t remember who I should be crediting) wrote about how hand written  thank you notes were a thing that you were just supposed to do… Of course there’s the no elbows on the table, a gentleman stands when a lady stands from the table, etc.

No one seems to pay attention to any of these conventions anymore.

Is the world a better or worse place for this? Or does it not matter at all?

But, for arguments sake, let’s say that etiquette rules DO matter. And maybe the place we need them most is on social media.

so…

Let’s brainstorm!!!!!

What should be the social media rules of etiquette?

  1. No cell phones at the table unless you’ve clearly stated a good reason why the call you may receive is vital
  2.  No texting when you are amid conversation with another
  3. No posting photos of anyone without their permission
  4. No derogatory remarks about anyone you know, especially partners
  5. No passive aggressive comments in regards to anything
  6. No opinions unless specifically asked for opinion
  7. Unless you know something is a definite danger, no comments that might take away enjoyment of others
  8. NO SPOILERS UNLESS YOU CLEARLY STATE FIRST THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO GIVE SOMETHING AWAY
  9. Share the moment you are experiencing because you think it’s wonderful, not to incite envy of others (which means- do you really need to post 50 pics of the same spot on the beach, when a few will do)
  10. Be mindful of the posts exclaiming the virtues of your current partner- less is more
  11. The internet lasts FOREVER. Be mindful that one day your grandchildren are going to be able to access those photos of spring break 2020, as are your future in laws, future partner, and future employers
  12. If you have broken off a relationship that has been public online, you need some sort of boiler plate comment that you are no longer with that person- first off, it saves embarrassment if you run into someone you know casually and they innocently bring up your ex. Secondly, if you are looking for a potential new mate, remember, they will see you social media history- let them know that you are as graceful an ex as you were a partner. If you loved someone and the relationship is no longer intact, have the decency to kindly state that the relationship is no more and there are no hard feelings (even if there were- the internet is not the place to air dirty laundry
  13. You don’t need to share everything, but once it’s out there, expect that it will come back to haunt you

So what do we think of these? Any you would omit? Clarify? Add?

What do you think the social media code of conduct should be?

I realize that I have told stories about my family that may or may not show them in a good light. But my blog is not my personal social media page. This blog is an outlet for me to share things that happen to me, the good and the bad, in hopes of furthering communication and showing that we’re all more alike than we realize, yet we are all unique individuals I think there is a big difference in how we diseminate information.

You Shouldn’t Say That

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was tired of seeing the uphill positive trajectory of romance on Facebook, but yet never saw the downward slide from the climax. Loving pictures, then cut to cutting partner out of the pictures…

A few of my blogger friends commented that for the sake of family harmony, people shouldn’t berate their spouse on a public platform because their kids might read it… which I agree with…in theory….

Now you’re all thinking- oh no- LA has a theory on something. She’s not actually going to say that it’s ok to publicly fight with your partner, is she?

Well, kinda, sorta, maybe…

  1. I don’t think you should ever be nasty or passive aggressive on a social media platform to anyone
  2.  I do think you need to argue with your spouse so that you’re children are aware that there is an issue, or that you don’t agree on something

Kids need to learn that even adults who love each other sometimes don’t agree, that adults  get mad at one another. And they need to learn how to get past the anger, learn how to compromise, learn how to listen, and learn how to fight fair…

Kids need to learn these skills at home.

If a kid never see’s there parents fight- then they grow up thinking that couples never argue. We all know that couples argue. If a couple gets along 100% of the time, I’d say that one of them is not being authentic at least 50% of the time. So what kind of relationship is a future adult thinks that there will NEVER be angst in a future relationship. I know adults that don’t understand why sometimes they get mad at their partner because their parents always got along. They think that a good relationship equates to agreeing on everything, all the time. You know, like in Fantasyland at Disney…

Conversely, always fighting in front of your children is damaging. Always fighting is not a good representation of model behavior. By always fighting, your child learns that yelling is the only way to resolve conflict. We’ve all seen the byproduct of this behavior as well.

Now we can’t talk about the couple dynamic without discussing passive aggressive behavior: to me, this is the worst way for couples to communicate. Snide innuendos, backhanded compliments, seemingly nice sentences but with so much nuance thrown in that cuts sharper than any stiletto. When you are passive aggressive, what exactly do you think your kids are learning? The passive aggressive fight is the one we’re bound to see on social media platforms…it’s the easiest to “hide”.

So- here’s your assignment: Learn how to fight fair. Don’t blame your partner for things in a hostile way. When they do something that annoys you, try saying when you do X, I feel Y. Realize that not every situation can and should be a compromise. Listen. Communicate. Walk away for a minute if you feel out of control. Think before you speak. Let your kids know that adults sometimes don’t get along. Teach them how to talk out a conflict. Learning how to fight properly is a skill just as important as potty training, throwing a ball, reading, and doing multiplication. We live in a community where we need to get along with others who we may or may not agree with. We need to teach our children how to navigate that world.

And yeah…you don’t need to air all your dirty laundry on facebook…but at least have the courtesy to tell us when you’re getting divorced…

World’s Collide

I got yelled at yesterday. In my yoga class. So it wasn’t really yelling, but a whispered reprimand.

This is what happens when type A tries to slow down…

Here’s the story:

I have a 50 minute yoga class that begins at 10:30- which math wise means in ends at 11:20. I told my husband to meet me outside of class at 11:30 because we were going to grab lunch and go to a movie.

We all know that I don’t like to be late, and if I am going to be late, I tell the person. Seriously- if I am five minutes late I will text the person that I’m meeting.

As you know, movie times at theaters are fixed: they don’t just start showing them when we enter the theater. The viewer has to tow the line and get to the theater at the appointed time.

So here’s the situation: class ends at 11:20, I grab my things, meet husband at 11:30. walk twenty minutes to restaurant, eat leisurely lunch, walk to theater, get seats, enjoy movie (well- in this particular case, it was more wonder how this movie was nominated for not one but two Oscar’s)

Fine. Leisurely. Relaxing (for me)

But what if class runs a little bit long?

I don’t check the time during my classes: I operate on the principal that the teacher will run the class for the appointed time. But what happens if I do something which causes my fitbit to light up and display the time, and I realize that it is 11:36?

I freak out. I jump up and scramble to the back of the room to grab my bag so I can grab my phone before it…

rings…

cause my husband knows I’m never late without calling or texting…

but I just miss shutting off phone.

Ring.

And you know when you are trying to shut down ringing you simply can’t get it done quickly…

but I don’t get yelled at for ringing phone…

I get yelled at for putting my mat away…because the class was still in Savasana…

First off: I do not like getting yelled at…ever.

Secondly: if the teacher is running the class long, should she tell the class that it is past the appointed hour?

I know that part of yoga, a big part, is relaxing the body and the mind, going with the natural flow. But sometimes life interferes. Sometimes we are supposed to be at a certain place at a certain time. And by the class running long, I was not at peace with myself. I left the class agitated, which is the exact opposite of how you are supposed to feel.

I felt bad that I was leaving class “early”. I felt bad that I disturbed people. I felt bad that I was late to meet my husband. I felt bad that we might need to rush through lunch.

Bad, bad, bad, when I was supposed to feel good, good, good.

Tense and stressed when I was supposed to feel relaxed.

So how does someone with my personality learn to let go? How do I make the two worlds meet?

Maybe I shouldn’t schedule things after class. But that’s not realistic. There are always things to do, and only so many hours in a day. Being mindful shouldn’t collide with being late, or not getting things done. I get the “does it really matter” kind of mantra, but in the reality that is me, I like to be on time. To me, part of karma is respecting others, which means being on time…I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time…

The greatest challenge in my journey to mindfulness is that it often collides with how I operate. We’ve learned that the road to happiness starts with owning who you are and respecting your own internal boundaries. I need to live my life on my terms- which is high energy pragmatism, orderly and planned. But isn’t there a way I can be mindful too? Operating on a loosey goosey schedule stresses me out. I need to have a semblance of a plan in order for my mind to be at peace….all the meditation and yoga and journals in the world aren’t going to help if I don’t have a schedule: it’s just who I am.

Is it possible to have planned mindfulness?

So here is my struggle: attempting to live in the moment, but having those moments sort of exist in my planner.

Is it possible for these two things to coexist? Or are they just going to keep colliding?

 

We Don’t all Get to do It

My parents are avid theater goers. Though they live in the suburbs, they maintain two theater subscriptions for theaters in Manhattan. My parents are 82 and 79, and my Father recently asked my Mother to start getting matinee tickets instead of evening. The 8pm showtimes and the ensuing hour trip back home was beginning to get to him.  My Mother’s response: No- that’s what old people do.

Last week I attended a show with my Mom- my Dad had no interest in a one woman show about her issues with her family. Showtime: 8pm. Curtain up about 8:03. Mother asleep about 8:10…

She pretty much slept through the show.

I understand that falling asleep can happen to anyone at anytime. We’ve all nodded off. But this is not the first time I’ve attended something with my Mom and heard her snoring before intermission.

My friend J comes over to watch Netflix with me. When we sat down to watch “The Irishman” I had the TV on volume 10- what we normally use. She asked me to turn it up. And turn it up…By the end of the movie, the volume was at 35. Remember- there’s maybe eight feet between my TV and the couch.

After the movie J, who’s 70, looked at me and said- “Maybe I should check into hearing aids…I guess I really didn’t realize how bad my hearing has become. The thought just makes me feel….” and she just shook her head.

We can buy creams and lotions, have plastic surgery. We can deny that things have changed- we can fight it…But how ever you look at it, things change as you get older.

The current mantra is to fight aging. Buy this, do this, try this. There are a thousand things that we can do to fight aging. But is that the best use of our time?

The bottles that line my medicine chest all bare names that have to do with aging. I get it…but think about my Mom- she’s missing the shows. Her vanity of needing to see shows at night because that’s what young people do ends up being a very expensive nap…Look at what’s she’s missing by not accepting that she is tired at night?

My friend J: not accepting that her hearing is not what it used to be is probably stopping her from fully enjoying the things she likes most: movies and television. How can you enjoy a show if you can’t hear everything?

I was formulating this post in my head last night when I turned on Grace and Frankie- without giving anything away- let’s just say that early in the second episode you see that Grace is not accepting aging well either…

Aging is not all about trying to maintain what we had when we were younger. Take care of yourself- that’s a given. But deal with the changes that nature has brought you. The goal is to live our fullest life no matter what stage we are in.

Remember: aging is a privilege, not a right. Not everyone gets the opportunity to age. Do what you can to maintain what you have, but realize that things do change, no matter how much we don’t want them to…