Archive of ‘Bleah’ category

Why You’re Still Fat and I’m Still Broke

Did you ever watch the TV show The Biggest Loser? For those of you that live in yurts: these were people who were severely overweight (we’re talking major health afflictions related to their obesity) that got hooked up with personal trainers and nutritionists and doctors for a few months, and video cameras recorded it all. As expected, this reality show made losing weight a competition and the winners walked away 30, 40, even 50% lighter than they were when they started. HUGE health improvements. HUGE emotional breakthroughs. HUGE wardrobe overhaul (I’d imagine).

But what happened to a majority of those people once the show was over?

Of course. They gained (at least some of) the weight back.

There are a billion reasons “experts” could give for this phenomenon, but I’ll add mine to the mix because I am also an expert. Not at gaining and losing and gaining weight, but…well, let me explain.

Thoughts are just beliefs that you keep thinking. If you think your neighbor is a jerk for long enough, you’ll be right. If you think you’re fat for long enough, you’ll be right. If you think you’re broke for long enough…guess what?

I’ve been broke my entire life. I grew up wearing nice clothes and going to good schools. I got a car when I turned 17 and my mom sent me on a trip to Paris with the French club, too. I went to an amazing private college. I lived in Los Angeles, flew to New York on a whim a few times to see Broadway shows… I’ve bought two houses as an adult and am the proud owner of a (real) Louis Vuitton purse (thank you, Bear). My last luxury car was paid off before I bought my new luxury car. I never have enough money for anything and at least one night a week, sometimes two, we eat out.

See how broke I am?

I’ll bet you thought this post was going to be about carbs…

Here’s the thing: when I was 7 years old, my dad died. He was the bread winner. Like, all the bread. He won a SHIT LOAD of bread. After he went to heaven, my mom sat one night at her dressing table with a calculator and a check book register. I remember looking at her furrowed brow and stiff hand. I watched her push the buttons on the calculator and then write numbers down. I finally got close enough to her for her concentration to break and I asked her, “Do we have enough money?”
“Oh. Yes, honey. We’ll be fine.”
That was all it took. My dad, the protector, the leader, the winner of the bread was gone. And my mom was worried. I could tell. Just that one interaction (along with my interpretation of about 1,000 more interactions) became a belief: we don’t have enough money.
I don’t have enough money.
That belief has never left me. It is a thought I keep thinking. Despite never having starved or living in anything less than a beautiful home and never missing a vacation (we just took our kids on a cruise), I’m broke. Always have been. And always will be, unless the belief changes.

So every single one of those contestants on The Biggest Loser who gained the weight back didn’t do it for lack of willpower or because they’re lazy or because they weren’t educated: they did it because they never changed the BELIEF that they were fat. They just removed the fat. So eventually, the beliefs made things “right” again. They ended up putting on some or all of the weight they’d lost.

To truly change anything in life, you have to change the thing while slowly changing the beliefs. You can’t go from broke to rich in one thought – it’s too big of a jump. You can’t go from overweight to perfect healthy weight in one thought either. You won’t believe yourself. You won’t believe your own thoughts and so you’ll continue thinking the same thoughts you’ve always had, and the patterns will repeat. But if I can convince you to change your THOUGHTS, I can help you change a belief. Then.
Then you can change your body, your bank statement, and whatever else you can use to fill in the blank – “I have always been ______”.

My thoughts are different today than they were even a month ago. I truly believe I’m covered. I still wake up scared every now again because damnit if that isn’t the deep groove I thought myself into over a lifetime, but I’m able to gently lift myself out and start reminding myself of what’s true: “I have enough, there is enough, and my income continues to increase everyday.”
What new thought can you replace your fill-in-the-blank statement with? Need help coming up with a new thought? Just let me know in the comments or an email.

Erin.salem@gmail.com

A Disjointed, Complete and Total RANT (and not for the reason you think)

dribble_stop_makingI had to turn off my Facebook feed today, and not for the reason you think.
I woke up to the news and also to the hate. Hate coming out of the mouths of people who have been preaching love. Hate for those who voted for Trump. Hate for those who voted for Hillary. Hate for those who voted for a third-party. You blame people. You celebrate by high-fiving people in the face. You grieve by refusing to be friends anymore.

Go ahead. Have your freak out. Be upset. But even my six-year-old is required to use kind words when he loses.
I know you’re scared. I know you’re angry. I know you’re happy. I know you’re celebrating. I know you’re confused. I know that’s where all your reactionary behavior comes from. I get it. But stop it. It’s not helping.

Take. A. Deep. Breath.

Your only option is to love. Truly love yourself. (If you don’t know how to do that, it’s time to learn.) Because it is only in the loving of yourself that you’ll feel safe enough to let other people have opinions different from yours. You’ll feel safe that your lack of control over them or your circumstances does not limit the control you have over your own choices.
You have the choice to be kind.
Opinions and ideas are your right, but if you choose to share them, then you have opened a reciprocal door giving others the same right.
You want to “fight”.
You want to “show them”.
You want to give the middle finger to the other voters.
You want to HATE them.
And you can. You can do all that.
But don’t expect to get love back when that’s what you share. It’s not how Universal Law works.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
I keep seeing people ask, “What will I tell my children?!”
What will you tell your children?!
You will tell them that you love them! You will tell them how to love others! You will tell them everything you were telling them just yesterday. You will tell them that in the wake of your perceived injustice, or your perceived win, you will still choose to be kind. You can still choose love.

Love doesn’t just apply to your opinion.

You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be unkind. We live in a country that makes it possible for you to be both of those things, freely. But you cannot expect to be those things and then receive love in return. You won’t.

We live in an amazing country during an amazing time. We are chock full of change-makers and love-givers and progress. They’re all still here. It didn’t suddenly change overnight. The world is the same: some horrors and some miracles, every. single. day.
Yesterday was ok.
Today will be, too.
Be kind.
(I love, accept, and cherish all people and opinions, both those I agree with and those I don’t. I want to understand you. I want to understand where you’re coming from. If you choose to comment with an opinion, I welcome it. But keep your tone gentle, and I will do the same.)

The Political Post

Here it is. You’ve been WAITING for a political post. It’s election season and there MUST BE POLITICS ON THE BLOG.

Who are you voting for? Who am I voting for?

LITERALLY NO ONE CARES.

Well, that’s not true. Lots of people care. They put tons of energy and woooooords into caring about who they and you and I vote for. And they TELL everyone with memes and clever videos how much they care.
And you care.
You are going to vote and you don’t like some of those memes, damnit! And that video right there isn’t even factually accurate! AND WHY HASN’T ANYONE REPORTED THAT OFFENSIVE MEME AS BEING OFFENSIVE?!?! I need to comment. I need to comment and tell the owner of this Facebook account that the meme is offensive and why it’s offensive and then SUPPORT MY VIEW POINT WITH FACTS. And THEN I need to include a link to more FACTS so that you understand my FACTS are FACTUAL and your meme is therefore factually OFFENSIVE.
WHO MADE THIS GRAPH? This graph is factually unfactual and you’ve offended the immigrant Sikh sheep family that rents my third bedroom and THEY PAY TAXES. Your numbers are made up and I know the truth because I have black/gay/Muslim friends, OK?
Yes, yes, yes, we can both agree that these aren’t the IDEAL candidates, but come on! One of them is CLEARLY less of a criminal/rapist/liar/philanderer/corrupt/ill-equipped EGO-MANIAC! IT’S SO OBVIOUS WHICH ONE I’M TALKING ABOUT HERE!

And therein lies the rub, friends. This election, for a lot of people, comes down to the lesser of two evils. “I’m voting for Clintrumpary because it’s better than the other choice!” Or even more exciting, “I’m voting for a third party candidate because it’s the ONLY WAY to bust up our two-party system!”

It’s not either candidate’s fault. They’re playing a game that was already created before they showed up. A game of money and favors and pinky swears and you know what? House of Cards wasn’t a work of fiction. That’s real shit, everybody. THAT IS HOW IT WORKS. You can keep fighting that one candidate is less corrupt than the other and I will stand way far back out of the way and let you fly your flag because that’s the country we live in: you get to fly whatever flag you damn well please.You get to post your memes and your videos and your long-winded diatribes and then we all get to unfollow you because AMERICA. I won’t even judge you because I know this shit makes people crazy and when it’s all said and done you’ll still be the person I can call/love/hug/eat dinner with/pray for/call when I have a flat tire.

burning-braSo, here’s my vote. I’m not voting to teach our government a lesson about only having two viable parties and I’m not voting based on “the lesser of two evils” because I don’t do that. I have more integrity than choosing between heroine and cocaine. I choose neither. If I want to see a circus I’ll grab tickets to Ringling the next time they come through. I’m not voting to prove a point, I’m not voting because economy, and I’m not voting because FEMINISM. The women in the generations before me wrote letters, staged marches, and burned bras for the RIGHT to cast a vote and their voice is LOUD and HEARD. I love those women for that; seriously LOVE. But I don’t think they ever expected that shit would get this insane, and I feel fairly certain a lot of them would just put their charred bras back on and cross their disapproving mom-arms muttering, “Well, this isn’t what we fucking meant.”

 

Marshmallows

marshmellowFor the past month, since we became a single (read: tiny) income family building a new business, newly married, and watching all our money fly away, I’ve received the same message almost every single day: change your thoughts, change your life. It’s come in the form of other blogs, newsletters, podcasts, random Facebook posts, prayer group, tv shows, movies, random people in the grocery store…the message has been persistent. And consistent…ly annoying the shit out of me.
I’m woo-woo. I’m a spiritual-thinker. Unless, of course, it’s me that is going through a poop-storm. Then, most of my woo-woo goes bye-bye and I get depressed and terrified. This experience has been no different, interspersed with plenty of joy and laughter and encouraging moments. But the woo-woo hasn’t really served me well lately, hence I’ve ignored the obvious sign that it’s fairly important for me to change my thinking.

Then today…science. Science gave me the message again, only this time, in a SCIENCY way. And I heard it differently.

Remember the Marshmallow Test? Created by psychologist Walter Mischel, a few marshmallows were set on a table in front of a young person (maybe 4 or 5 years) in an empty room. The children were told if they waited to eat the marshmallows until the adult came back into the room, they’d get EXTRA marshmallows. The study was repeated hundreds of times, all in an effort to correlate the delay of gratification with success: if you can control yourself, you’ll be successful in life. The kids that waited would go to college, the ones that gobbled up the marshmallows would not.
But ironically, this was not at all what Mr. Mischel expected people to take from the study. Because the study itself is rarely explained in its entirety…
No, Mr. Mischel had another set of children in the experiment. This set of kids were the entire POINT of his studies, but were usually left out of the anecdotal evidence. These children were also sat in a room, with a table, and lots of marshmallows. They were also told to wait until the adult came back into the room before eating the marshmallows. BUT. Before the adult left, he or she would make a suggestion, such as, “You can just pretend the marshmallows aren’t there until I get back. You can pretend they’re just a picture.”
Guess what? Not only did the number of children who delay gratification increase, the length of time they COULD delay gratification tripled, from 5 minutes to 15 minutes.

Why?

Because Mr. Mischel changed the way the children could choose to interpret the situation. There was an option besides, “This sucks and I’m going to have to white-knuckle this ish.” He taught them to re-frame it. Those aren’t marshmallows. Those are just pictures of marshmallows. “It showed the many ways people can change what they become and what they think. They aren’t defined by their own biographies…” Mr. Mischel explained. We humans are actually very flexible because we have these awesome things called brains that allows us to CHOOSE the thoughts we have (with the exception of mental illness).

But that’s not the moral that our culture drew. Our culture, and then the media for decades, defined it as, “The destiny of your future is in a marshmallow.” Your future is based on the cards you are dealt, the bad things that happen to you, how lucky you happen to get…
When in reality, Mr. Mischel wants us to get that our future is based on what we choose to think.

Which brings me back to the woo-woo…

The self-control Mr. Mischel was testing was not whether or not you could control your actions, but whether or not you could control your thoughts…
I have to change my thoughts. I am the only one in control of that. I am the only one with control of the things my brain thinks. And for being such a control freak, I’m totally dropping the ball when it comes to controlling my own thinks.
New goal: think 5 good things a day and reverse any negative/scary/anxiety-ridden thoughts into good ones, even if I don’t even believe myself. I’ve tried a bunch of other ways to control this situation, and none of them have worked…

“It’s not simply that life does things to us…we in turn do things to it.”
-Walter Mischel

Time to try doing things to life.

Thank You – A Stream-of-Consciousness Rant

I am a good person. I am. I’ll say it out loud without a shred of modesty. I care about people, I give, I receive, I contribute, I honor, I serve. I laugh at jokes that aren’t funny.
I’m also a person. A human one. Which is why I’m looking around on a daily basis asking, “WTF? Bad things should NOT happen to me or the people I love because I AM A GOOD HUMAN PERSON.”
I didn’t get the job. After Bear lost his job, my interviewers cited my lack of experience as it relates to the position, which to me means that I haven’t worked outside the home in almost 6 years, so I’m lookin’ like a risk… That job, while still a few months off, would have offered us such stability. It would have been a beacon. “Just hold on until August.” We would have had a mantra. At the very least…a mantra.
It is so damn easy to lose your faith when God doesn’t give you what you want when you want it. I mean…I pray. I meditate. So…why can’t I haaaaaave it?
Why do we have to be staring down our rising debt and our withering savings after FINALLY getting to a place where we were financially stable after buying our first (and, god-willing, last) home?
Why did we have to get married (and pay for it) in the middle of this gaping hole in income?
Why does starting our own business cost so much freaking money?!

I’ll be totally honest…I’m feeling pretty blame-y. There have been people and things we welcomed into our lives that have hurt us, literally stolen from us, and changed what should have been a beautiful time to a terrifying (for me) time. And I’m mad at those people and things. I BLAME them.
And, of course, that’s stupid. Blaming anyone or anything is a complete waste of time. So, starting now, I’m trying something different.

gee-thanksI’m going to try to start saying, “Thank you.”

Yes, yes, thank you for our house and our health and our love and our children, etc. etc. etc. But bigger, deeper, crappier…thank you for this experience.
Thank you for this stupid, I hate this, this sucks experience. Thank you for pushing us out in a boat towards the open sea and letting us drift so far from shore that we don’t even know when we might get home. Thank you for trusting us with this giant unknown.

I’m trying to give myself some space to be with the fear of the unknown. I’m trying not to run away from it with my constant need to work and move and do. (I’m failing a lot of the time.) I’m trying to go for a walk with the unknown so that I can be reminded that it wont actually kill me.

I’m sill fairly certain it’s going to kill me.

But still. Thank you for the experience. Thank you for what it’s here to teach me.
And please speed up the lesson. I am tired and I reeeeeeally want my husband to feel appreciated at work and my children to know that yes, we can go out to dinner instead of eating in again.
No, no. No, seriously. Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. I am truly grateful.
(And stop it.)

I recognize that life’s big disappointments are just sign posts showing us a better way. I’ve had HUGE disappointments in my life, but they’ve all led me to the greatest love I’ve ever known. The pain and the fear are here to show us a different way. Right? Because if happiness and joy were the catalysts for ANY kind of reasonable and worthy change, we’d definitely choose those. But they aren’t. We stop touching the flame when it burns. We stop moving in certain direction when we’re scared.

Thank you for moving us. Thank you for using the fear and the disappointment to show us something better. We will find it, the “something better”, if we just keep moving. Or maybe if we stop moving. “Be still and know?”
I have no idea.
I mean, that’s just the truth.
I really have no idea…

Clogged

I would like to know how plumbing at the soul’s journey are connected. I’m not talking about internal plumbing. I’m talking about home plumbing. Since we moved into our new home, we had a plumber to our house no fewer than 6 times. We’ve lived here 6 months. (I offered them a cot on the back porch last time they were here so I didn’t have to put in anymore service calls…) Now, there’s nothing wrong with our house other than it being old, recently remodeled, and that it sat empty for 6 months prior to us purchasing it; things are bound to back up. But one day recently…I got fed up with calling plumbers and plunking down a check everytime they pulled out of the driveway.

Our new kitchen didn’t have a disposal when we moved in. Now, I’ve lived with and without disposals and let me tell you, I prefer “with.” So we purchased one from our local hardware store and installed it shortly after moving in. But one night when I had the house to myself (which meant I could clean it without it becoming IMMEDIATELY messy again), I did the dishes and suddenly, the water wasn’t draining in the kitchen sink. No. No no no no, I thought. This is not happening. I tried the old stanbys: hot water, vinegar and baking soda, plunger…nothing was working. I stared at the dirty water just standing in my sink, chuckling at me. “Plumb again, eh Salem?”
Shut up, water.
I went to Google. I learned that it could be anything from food stuck in the disposal to a clog deep in the ground that would require digging up half the house. I had a mild pity party and went to bed leaving a big, red sign on the sink. SINK IS CLOGGED. DO NOT USE SINK. I live with boys, you know, and they probably wouldn’t have thought twice about continuing to run the water despite the obvious signs of a clog…
The next morning I woke up and said to myself, “Not today, Satan. Not today.” I Googled a video about how to take the elbow pipe off the disposal. I cleared out all the cleaning products from under the sink, got a bucket, some kind of a grippy tool that looked similar to the one in the video, and went to work. The water immediately all drained out of the sink and into the bucket.
AH HA! The clog in further down the pipe! I’m like a Plumber Einstein!
Shit. The clog is further down the pipe. That means I have to dig up half my house…
“Not today, Satan.”
I Googled more. Try a Zip-It. Have you ever seen one of these?
Zip-it-tool-to-unclog-drainThey’re $2 and you shove this long piece of serrated plastic into your pipe and it grabs anything in its way. Seeing as how we’ve had 900 clogs before this one, we had one so I grabbed it. I shoved. It went into the pipe in the wall under the sink for about 6 inches. I tried pushing harder and then I imagined it breaking off inside the pipe and decided this would be worse…
I Googled more.
Pipe snake. Seeing as how we’ve had 900 clogs before this one, we had one so I grabbed it. I started trying to fish it into the pipe and I still only made it about 9 inches. Obviously snaking this pipe was not going to work. I sat quiet on the kitchen floor amidst the mess and continued Googling.
Finally, I found a suggestion: use a shop vac. Hmmm. A shop vac. We have one of those. I rolled it in from the garage and wrapped a towel around it and the pipe to get good suction. Then, I prayed.
Dear God, please let whatever is in this pipe come out so that my sink drains properly so that I don’t have to begin dipping into my retirement account (just kidding, you know I don’t have one of those) just to do the dishes. Thanks. Erin.
I clicked the shop vac on. I heard a quick whoosh and then a POP.
Shit. A pop seems bad.
I turned it off and stared at the shop vac and the pipe. Did something come out? Did I just ruin the pipe? AM I GOING TO HAVE TO CALL OFF THE WEDDING AND MARRY A PLUMBER?!
I opened the shop vac and…there it was. A piece of saran wrap. A bunch of food and a piece of saran wrap. That could have been it, right? That could have been blocking the pipe, right?!
Only one way to find out…
I put the elbow pipe back in it’s place and tightened it using my grippy tool. I took a deep breath, and turned on the water.
Swoosh. Straight down the sink it flowed. I watched it for probably 8 minutes flow into the sink, continuously, with no back up…

I AM VICTORIOUS. I raised my arms and paraded the kitchen. I AM VICTORIOUS. I HAVE BEATEN THE CLOG. I NEED NO PLUMBER. I AM VICTORIOUS.
“What does victorious mean, Mommy?” Abe asked.
“It means I win. I win at life today, Abe.”
“Oh, ok.”

I don’t know if perhaps plumbing is a metaphor for life. I Googled that phrase and nothing of significance came up, so maybe it’s just that we got super unlucky with the old pipes. But whether it does or doesn’t mean I’ve got some sort of deep-rooted issue with things flowing or with the direction of life being clear, I know one thing: I won that battle, and I will win the war.

The Other Bus

urlI once heard a writer say that she sometimes mourned The Other Bus.
We’re all on a bus, and it’s heading in a certain direction. Yours might be a career bus, a family bus, a bus with both parents still on it, or maybe a bus with tons of travel. And as you roll along in your own bus, you will see other busses pass. You’ll wonder, even wish, “What would it be like on that bus?” There are days you’ll think you’re going to make a transfer from one bus to another, but you either miss it or find out it wasn’t heading where you wanted to go. It is my belief, though, that if you pay attention, you’ll be on the bus taking you exactly where you’re supposed to be. That doesn’t mean you won’t be sad, even depressed, when The Other Bus passes you by…the one you thought you’d be on.

Last month, I felt divinely guided to re-enter the workforce. The one outside my home. I mentioned in another blog the AGONY of beginning to send out cover letters and resumes when you haven’t done it in 5 years, how feeling like 34 years old is too late to get back in the game. I sent out so many letters and resumes that I actually got good at it. I hit every school that I could think of, google could think of, or that was recommended to me by someone else.
And suddenly…I got a reply.
I got a reply from an amazing woman who I’d worked with a tiny bit when I first moved to this city 7 years ago. She was offering me an interview.

A real life, gosh darned, INTERVIEW. For a JOB.

I was stunned. I actually gasped out loud like they do in cartoons when she confirmed the time. It felt like I moved, and God held up a sign: Keep Moving.
I was about to transfer to a bus I’d watched pass by so many times…

So what did I do? I started preparing for the interview. (Five days before it was supposed to happen.) I printed out plenty of resumes (subsequently running out of printer ink and running out to buy more), and also printed the email exchange we had and paper-clipped it neatly in a file folder. I picked out an outfit and played with my hair until I found a comfortable but proper hairstyle. I bought bells. Why? Because I told her I’d “be there with bells on”, and I do what I say I’m going to do. I paced my house practicing my responses to common interview questions. I researched the school to learn how I could align my skills with their missions. I researched the job and became clear about which parts I’d already experienced and which parts would be new to me so I could give them an honest scope of what I could offer right off the bat. I got up at 6:15am this morning, 5 hours early, and practiced my interview again so that when I was asked anything, I would have something in my mind to pull from.
I truly wanted them to see that I’d taken this seriously. I’ve been on enough theatre auditions to know that the outcome wouldn’t be correlated to my ability, but rather what it was they were looking for in a person. I could handle rejection. I just wanted to give it my best shot; a chance to get on that bus.

At 8:30am, that same amazing woman emailed me to say that the school decided they no longer wished to fill the vacant position.

And that was that.
Zoom.
The bus didn’t even stop.

I spent the rest of the day, seated at the proverbial bus stop, waiting for someone to come pick me up, crying. I cried most of the day, in between day-dreaming about the way my day could have gone. Day-dreaming about different busses I could be riding. A career bus. A bus full of kids. A bus that doesn’t have any kids and can fly anywhere in the world…

Let me make one thing clear: I know I’m lucky. I work from home. Most people would die to do that. I have healthy kids. I myself am healthy. My bus isn’t a terrible bus to be on. But I think it’s ok that, every once in a while, we acknowledge The Other Bus, a life we didn’t choose (or one that didn’t stop for us), and we just get to be sad about it. I’m on this bus and I have all these skills, all this education, and I don’t really ever get use any of it. I get to PAY for it once a month in the form of a student loan check. But I very rarely get to use it. So yes…today I mourn the passing career bus with all the women who have kids and careers.. (And I’ll bet they’re mourning my bus as it passes, too.) I’ll probably give myself one more day to feel sorry for myself, and then I’ll get back on my bus to see where it goes.

Some people become obsessed with The Other Bus. They spend their entire lives switching busses, trying to find the right one. They never just sit down on a bus to see where it takes them. I’m trying not to do that. I’m trying to let God lead me to the next stop without pulling on that little string that hangs over the windows. I’ve literally never seen one of those little strings in real life. Did they ever really exist?

No-Drinking Experiment Over

light_bulb_experimentIt has been over a month since I had a sip of alcohol. I’ve smelled a few, but never tasted. Not once. I was VERY tempted in the beginning. A margarita, a whiskey sour, a Corona with a lime in it…
As the days ticked on, it honestly did get easier. I felt far more comfortable letting it pass me by because I’d already said no a few times before AND because people got used to the idea that I wasn’t going to be their Fun Time Sally. I also got used to the idea that I didn’t need the drink to be Fun Time Sally, which was a nice change of pace for me.

I anticipated that I was going to get a big surprise by not drinking. I anticipated realizations galore and friendships highlighted and my own weaknesses strengthened. Instead…
Not drinking has not changed my personality, though it’s amplified others’ personalities and I noticed I didn’t like some people as much as I thought I did. (Don’t worry, I’m not talking about you.) It has not diminished my anxiety, though on a few days I felt a little more capable of WORKING on my anxiety. Abstaining has demonstrated to me that alcohol never really played that big of a role in my life (except during my divorce) and it’s a sort of take-it-or-leave-it thing.
SO.
I concluded the drinking experiment was over this past weekend. I decided I could, in fact, drink again. And you know what I did?
Nothing.
I didn’t drink.
I forgot about my own party. I anticipated a big to-do when I started drinking again and instead, I didn’t even remember to do it.

It occurred to me today that the actual lesson in all this had nothing to do with drinking. It had to do with anticipation. How much time do I spend focusing on what I think will happen? SO MUCH. How many changes have I made externally hoping they’d change something internally? I made assumptions about the drinking experiment. I thought something fantastic would happen to fix one or many of my problems. Sometimes I assume that I worst, in an effort to quell the pain when the worst happens. The time I spend anticipating, or in laymen’s terms guessing, is time I could have spent just being where I was. And how often does the worst actually happen?!

(I anticipate we will barely have enough money to cover all the unexpected bills coning due at the end of this month. But as of today, we’re fine. Today, we have enough to eat lunch and dinner and to buy a cheap bottle of scotch, which I don’t feel like drinking. Today is all that matters.)

Experiment over. Information gleaned. No major or amazing realizations, but a few small ones. It’s a few small steps at a time that gets you from start to finish. No one gets one big step and then BOOM, journey over. You win. You have to take the baby steps.
I hate baby steps. I like things changing overnight.
Nothing ever does.

And so I will continue taking these damn baby steps and drinking or not drinking and learning and growing and being a Fun Time Sally (sometimes).
What a boring experiment.

BYYYYYE MONEEEEEY!!!!

money-flying-awayA month ago I discovered a big pile of water in my garage. We determined it was coming from the wall in the corner that contains the hot water, AC unit, and washer/dryer just on the other side of the wall. It took three contractors, one leak inspector, and a water mitigation company to determine that it was the air conditioning unit backing up.
A week ago, when everything was “fixed”, my mother and I turned on my washing machine and, as soon as the water began to empty out of it, water began pouring out of the exposed pipe in the wall.
“Oh. The drain pipe in the wall has a leak in it…”
All these people appear to have completely overlooked the BIGGEST PIPE IN THE WALL NEAREST TO THE PILE OF WATER.
I had to call a plumber to fix the pipe and now we have to pay to have the wall put back together. Bear’s truck went into the shop for routine maintenance last week and it came out with a nearly $1,000 bill. My dog ate my $500 bite guard. My car insurance is due. Quarterly taxes are due. Oh, and I’m trying to plan a wedding…
Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world who has a job, whose partner has a (GOOD!) job, and who still looks at the bank account and thinks, Will I ever be able to retire to the Caribbean at this rate?! We are so, so, so, so blessed! We have a house! We have cars! We have health insurance! And yet, I get so incredibly frustrated that we’re not finding a surplus at the end of each month because LIFE KEEPS HAPPENING!!!
Then, I watched Cheryl Strayed on Super Soul Sunday.
Did you know that on the way to her first appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Cheryl Strayed purchased a new outfit at the thrift shop nearby? Why did she do that? Because her and her husband’s rent check bounced that month.
Her book, Wild, was already on the New York Time’s Best Seller list. It took her two years to write it. Her husband was a documentary filmmaker. They’d been married a solid amount of time with two kids and they often had to sell books to the used book store to buy groceries.

SHE ADMITTED ALL THIS OUT LOUD.

Like everything else, I look around and figured everyone else has it figured out. We bought a modest house, we only have one car payment, we don’t have debt (aside from my student loans, which can suck it). I just assume that we are the only ones who SHOULD be able to go on vacation once a month and can’t. But Cheryl Strayed bounced her rent check. She wrote a best selling book and still had to wait almost a year to see anything from that big win. And it took YEARS and YEARS before THAT of her writing consistently and trying to get published and being broke and doing things for free. And here I’m getting impatient…

So we’ll rebuild the damn laundry room and get the truck fixed. I had new impressions of my teeth done last week for my bite guard (yes, I tried the little plastic ones from Walgreens, they didn’t work). I paid my car insurance and my taxes and my cell phone bill, Bear paid the rest of our bills and our surprise bills and made sure our kids were taken care of with food and new shoes because WHY DO THEIR FEET KEEP GROWING, and I sold some stuff in our house so I didn’t have to worry about taking myself to dinner on Friday. And I’ll just keep trusting that eventually life will slow down for a month or two and we will be able to set money aside, treat ourselves, treat our kids, and relax.

At least I’m saving money on all that alcohol…

Want to Want to

Have you ever heard yourself saying this? “I want him to WANT to do the dishes.”

keep-calm-and-make-me-feel-betterI was talking with a friend last week about how I ask my son to do something like clean up his room or feed the dogs, and sometimes it’s just a big hurumph. And it makes me feel badly that he’s annoyed or aggravated that I’ve asked him to do just ONE thing to help me out.
Or when I ask Bear to show me how to use a wall anchor after he’s sat down from a long day. He gets irritated that he then has to get up to show me. I mean yeah, he worked 12 hours. And yeah, he hasn’t really shut his brain off yet today. But then I feel badly that I’ve bothered him and why can’t he just be happy about showing me?!?!
As we were discussing this phenomenon of asking for help and feeling badly that someone isn’t excited to help us, another friend asked, “Well, why does someone have to WANT to help you in order to help you?”
And that got me thinking. What’s my ultimate goal in asking someone for help? Is it to solve a problem I can’t solve alone? Lift a burden? Or is my goal for someone to be HAPPY about helping me?!
Reality check: My family isn’t in the service industry. They aren’t in retail. They’re not being paid to be nice while they help me. (They’re not paid at all.) They’re human beings who aren’t always overjoyed about hanging a TV after work or picking up their towels.
Ever notice the days when your happiness is reliant upon the members of your family being happy? Like if everyone isn’t smiling and saying, “Thank you” for dinner then you can’t enjoy yourself? Hanging your hat on someone else’s happiness is a lovely term known as co-dependence. And every time you want someone to WANT to help you, you’re actually just asking them to make you feel better about asking for help. And that ain’t their job.
It’s like setting a trap and waiting for your loved ones to fall into it. “I’m going to ask you to help me make the bed, and if you aren’t HAPPY when you do it, then my feelings will be hurt…even if the bed gets made.” If you asked for what you meant, you’d ask, “Can you help me make the bed and then make me feel OK about asking you to help me make the bed?”
“No.”
No would be the answer.
Here’s another trap: someone asks us what we want, well tell them, so they give it to us, and then we’re upset because they only gave it to us because we ASKED for it. “I told him I like roses and then he bought me roses, but he only did it because I told him!!”
Girl.
Do you want the roses, or do you want him to be Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook? Here’s some information you may or may not have heard before: men are simple and they just want you to be happy. They are black and white creatures. They fix stuff. If you tell them roses, they aren’t going to pick you wildflowers after a long walk through the fields and meditation about how much they love you. They’re going to go to Kroger or Publix and buy you roses.
If you want the wildflowers, you should get them yourself. Or point out the wildflower field on the way to Home Depot with him.
In fact, most people are simple. They follow instructions as given. They operate on the information they have. They get irritated when they have to do something they don’t want to do. I mean, do I like doing the laundry?! No. In fact, it’s irritating. But literally no one in my household is focused on the fact that I’m not happy while I’m doing the laundry.
They’re focused on clean underwear.
I’m super guilty of hoping that my family will be happy about my asking them to do things around the house, and plenty of days of the week I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter how they FEEL about helping me. It matters that the trash goes out. Whether it’s me taking it or someone else who lives here, I get to choose to be happy.
And so do you.

 

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