Archive of ‘Am I the only One?’ category

Control

“It is easy to understand how you would come to the conclusion that your path to feeling good is through influencing or controlling the behavior of others. But as you attempt to control them (through influence or coercion), you discover that not only can you not contain them – but your attention to them brings more like them into your experience. You simply cannot get to where you want to be by controlling or eliminating the unwanted.”
-Esther Hicks

I’m realizing more and more that the vast majority of people’s actions are an attempt to control their environment. Control feels like real, tangible stuff. Say you want a thing, walk into a store with money, find the thing, bring it to the front of the store to exchange said thing for money, and leave with the thing you wanted. Control.
Of course, you can probably remember the last time you wanted a thing and they were out of the thing or the store was closed or the thing is different from the last time you wanted it…

We try to control for everything, and yet even the best controllers land smack dab in the middle of the uncontrollable situation.

We try to control our government by voting and by telling other people who to vote for or by refusing to speak to people who don’t vote for who we vote for, but really we have no control over how the government is run at all in the first place. If you’ve ever watched House of Cards or listened to the podcast Serial as they discussed the ins and outs of bringing Bowe Bergdahl back to the United States (think “a bottle of Johnny Walker Black will get you a place on the Secretary of Defense’s schedule), you’d know that pretty much everyone holding a position of power is going to figure out how to do what they want to do.
We try to control our partners by setting up rules (which sometimes we call “vows” and sometimes we call “boundaries” but really they’re mostly fancy words for rules). We tell them not to cheat on us, but more than a third of spouses do. We tell them to be loving towards us, but anyone who’s been in a relationship for more than 5 minutes knows that goes out of the window some days. We tell them not to smoke, so they sneak the cigarettes on business trips. We tell them not to spend too much money, and so they get a secret bank account.
We try to control our society by telling them they can’t drink too much, steal, hurt each other, drive on the wrong side of the road…and yet people do these things. Regularly. Like, a lot.

People do what they want. And as much emphasis as we put on character and dignity and integrity, we’ve all done something that someone else asked us not to do because we liked our way better, even if it’s as small as using regular steaks instead of organic ones for the cookout (why would I spend $15/ribeye when I could spend $9 and they taste the same?).

So what’s a human to do?! Control nothing and just hope for the best?

Well, sort of.

You can only control how you treat the world around you, and how you react to it. You can leave this country for another one whose government you like better. You can choose a partner who is more in alignment with the rules you set for yourself (btw, do you follow all those rules you set for yourself all the time?). You can choose which situations you stay in and which you don’t. (Just remember that you’ll be brining yourself with you wherever you go, so unhappy-here doesn’t necessarily mean happy-there.) But standing still and resisting what IS is kind of the definition of insanity…
It’s all a game of resistance, and as much as I’d love for resistance to result is LESS of a thing I don’t like, it will always result in the same amount or more, because we get and become what we think about, even if what we’re thinking about it what we don’t want. (Remember Prohibition?)

What if instead of trying so fervently to control what others think, believe, and do, you spent all that energy focused on making yourself happy? What if the whole world was filled with people who took responsibility for themselves and left you alone unless you both agreed it would be fun to be around each other? Is it possible that you could find your own personal happiness without worry about what someone else is doing? What if you had the same grace for others as you have for yourself?

I know, I know. Perfect world. <3

*Note because someone will say it: NO, I’m not talking about minding your own business if you know someone is being physically abused or has a disability and needs help or someone got the flu and wants some soup. Because duh.

But did I ask…

I have a lot of really strong, legit girlfriends. They all serve different “friend” purposes in my life. I have the one who strengthens my relationship with God. I have the one who listens every time I need to cry. I have the one who calls me on my BS. I have the one who makes me feel better about eating massive amounts of carbs by eating massive amounts of carbs with me…
One day in particular I was feeling really frustrated when my husband didn’t seem appreciative of anything I was doing. And I was doing EVERYTHING. I knew that I could go to my “I need to cry” friend, but that I wasn’t actually going to solve the problem by crying. I also knew that carbs would feel good but…
I called my “no BS” friend and explained the situation to her. And she asked me something that changed my life.
“But did he ask you, though?”
“Did he ask me what?”
“Did he ask you to do all of that stuff you’re doing and not being appreciated for?”
“NO! But if I didn’t do it, no one else would have!”
“Right, but you’re the one who wanted it done. Did he want it done?”
“Well, I mean I assume he wants clean clothes.”
“But does he know how to work the washer and dryer?”
“Yes.”
“Then if you DON’T do those things, he can. He knows how. And I don’t get the sense that he would resent you if you didn’t do them. So you’re actually upset that he’s not appreciating the things that you chose and wanted to do.”

Well. Damn.

While I don’t think that conversation in any way exonerates us or our partners from showing appreciation for each other (I think that’s the foundation of any partnership and means the most to some of us), it did get me thinking about how many times I make moves based on what I think other people need.

Then it made me think about the people who make moves based on what THEY think that I need. Oh my GOD is that annoying.
Like when you tell someone about a situation you’re in and they offer advice without you ever asking. If you’re me, then you’re taking the advice thinking that you did ask for it and trying to apply it when you never actually did ask for it, nor did you want it, but still you’re new focus becomes applying someone else’s opinion.
AN OPINION THAT YOU NEVER ASKED FOR?

(Do you do this? Do you give advice even when no one asks for it?! STOP IT!)

I guess the point is to mind your own business, and that really means mind your own feelings. If you’re getting opinions you didn’t ask for, consider them to be worth what you paid for them. Also re-consider going to that part particular opinion-giving person the next time you have a problem.
If you’re feeling unappreciated, first check to see if you’re seeking appreciation for things that no one asked you to do. Then, if you are, tell the people around you that you’d like appreciation for those things so they know! It’s their choice whether or not they show you appreciation after that and, if they don’t, you get to decide if they stay or go, if you continue doing what you’re not being appreciated for, and if YOU stay or go.

If you don’t want to do those things you’re not getting appreciated for, then do what I did: teach your kids how to do their own laundry.

I’m not unlimited.

I just made a huge realization.

HUGE.

Are you ready for this?

I am not unlimited.

Now I shall explain.

When I was 7, my dad died and I felt an immense amount of pressure to be brave (mainly due to all the adults telling me I needed to be brave). My mom and family never asked me to be anything but a 7-year-old but I still felt the need to be the best, or at least way better, to account for the fact that everyone now had to live without my dad.
I grew up with the understanding that I would get good grades, go to college, and have a career. Not unlike most people.
I was an actress and so everyone told me they’d “see me on Broadway.”
I didn’t make it to Broadway so I went back to school, grad school in fact, to get a degree in something I didn’t really care about so I could say I had a masters.
I got married and everyone asked when I’d have a child. I couldn’t get pregnant without the help of fertility treatments and that made me feel like a total loser…until I shared my story on my blog and became a hero again. Hero with a graduate degree.
My marriage didn’t survive, as so many don’t, and I no longer had either of my hands or feet on the ladder to greatness. Then I was in an accident that broke my leg and everyone told me what I hero I was for not giving up or giving in. BACK TO HERO!
(This was weird to me because what was there to give up on? I had a son and people who loved me who were constantly helping me and I had stuff I liked to do. Why would I give up?
Do people often break their legs and give up?
It’s way easier to come near death than to deal with most other life-issues because when you’re injured and incapacitated, everyone shows up to help you and proclaim your greatness.)
Finally, I started amping up my work life and became a Beachbody coach and surrounded myself with what was familiar: people telling me to continue being brave, being a hero with a masters degree, being great. I quickly became a reputable source of health and wellness information and reached the higher levels of Beachbody Coachdom and everyone cheered: “Look at her go! She can do anything!”

Until, one day, it hit me.
I opened up one of my familiar podcasts (you know the ones…full of people telling you that you can be bold, that you can be fearless, that you can have the life of your DREAMS!) and within the first 15 seconds…I stopped it.
Holy shit.
“You have the potential to be UNLIMITED!”
Holy shit.
I don’t want to be unlimited.

I’ll be 36 in a month and…wow.
I don’t want to be unlimited.
I don’t want to be brave or a hero with a masters degree or geared up for greatness.
I don’t want to be scalable or tax exempt or even altogether special.
I just figured out that I want to be…Erin.

I want to work and make money. I want to be a mom and a wife. I want to garden. I want to do things that are fun, like theatre. I want to share my feelings through my blog and social networks and help people to see and love each other a little bit better.
But Lord have mercy, I am tired of trying to figure out the next way that I’m going to be GREAT. No one has ever looked at me and said, “Hey. You’re good, just being you. And you don’t have to do any of this to be good.” Not that this is a very intuitive or natural thing to say, but maybe it should be?
Maybe we all need to look at ourselves every morning and say, “What you’ve done so far today in the past 30 minutes…that’s enough. That’s enough to make you great.” You won’t believe it at first, but you might eventually begin to internalize the fact that not being the best and the greatest and the most important or the most recognized…would be ok?

The process of transformation is not about becoming something that we weren’t. It’s about unveiling what we were the whole time.
– Author William Paul Young

I’m a helper. An employee. A friend. A laugher of laughs.
I’m not unlimited. I don’t need to be.
Just me is enough.

 

On Saying No…(Yes.)

“‘No’ is a complete sentence.” – Oprah Winfrey

I tell people to say no. I remind them. “It’s ok to say no!” And isn’t it just the most tangly web when we tell other people what we ought to be doing?
The problem is I don’t even realize when I start yessing myself to death. Most of us don’t. We say yes to helping, to trying, to fixing, to going, to staying, to reading… We’re exhausted and out of time and proudly wearing the “I Do Everything” badge and we cannot for the LIFE of us figure out when we’ll be nominated for the Nobel ISayYes Prize while we’re finishing up that favor for that one woman we met at church one Sunday and simultaneously texting our girlfriend to let her know we’ll watch her kids on Christmas Eve.

Ok so maybe it’s not that bad.

But it’s bad.

So why don’t we say no?
1. We don’t want people to be mad.
If you’re like me, you feel very, very uncomfortable when anyone is anything but pleased with you. You don’t want to say, “No” to someone in case it might upset them and you don’t want to deal with someone being upset because it makes you feel like poop.

2. We want people to like us.
This is different from not wanting them to be mad. We want them to think we’re great and fun and likeable. We want them to think we’re good.

3. We feel valued when we’re busy.
Every time someone asks us to do something, it’s like a high. It’s another thing to do and having things to do makes us feel valuable. Besides. We’re not worthy when we’re napping…

I was listening to author Cheryl Strayed discuss this idea with Oprah and O said she turned into a bank when she became a celebrity. Her family no longer talked to her like a person; they talked to her like a transaction. And it was really difficult for her to explain why she wouldn’t be funding their every wish and solving their every financial problem. It hurt her to say no! And so, she didn’t have relationships with her family members for over TEN YEARS!!!

Eventually, she decided to tell each of them what she WANTED to give them, she gave them each the amount she wanted to give, and that was it. They could ask for money all they wanted but they knew from that point forward she would say no.
That made some of them mad.
Some of them didn’t like her anymore.
Oprah felt less valuable.

I get you, Oprah.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the importance of saying YES! I mean if figuring out when to say no isn’t enough…
But O went on to say, “I know what a real yes feels like now. It feels awesome. It feels exciting. It feels like a hell yes!”

Do you remember the last time you gave a hell yes? When the yes felt so right, so GOOD, that you couldn’t wait to say it??
Did you know that you’re allowed to feel that way every time you say yes?! And that if you don’t feel hell yes, you don’t actually owe anyone an explanation for your no???
Not your friends.
Not your family. (UGH)
Not your pastor.
Not your neighbor.
Not a perfect stranger.

When to say yes:
When it’s a HELL YES.
When the yes feels good.
When the person you’re saying yes to is worth the yes.

When to say no:
When it’s inconvenient.
When it doesn’t feel right or good.
When your first reaction is a no but you talk yourself into a yes.

How do you know when it’s a yes and when it’s a no for you? Have you noticed lately?
Yes?
No?

 

Lent

When I was about 2 years old, maybe 3, my dad was pulling the basket out of our swimming pool filter. It was dusk and we were leaving for dinner in a few minutes. I was wearing a cute little jumper and my dad had on a nice collared shirt (which never stopped him from tinkering with high-risk shirt-ruining activities). He leaned down and, as he did, I leaned over to watch him grab for the basket. I remember leaning just far enough to hear him say the beginning of the word, “Oh!” Then I heard a big swish. My eyes were open and I remember a feeling of spinning. Before I could really figure out that I was under water, my dad’s huge arm plunged into the water behind me. His hand wrapped almost twice around my little arm and yanked me to the surface. He stood me up and my mom was screaming.
Keep in mind, I’d been swimming since I was about 6 months old. I regularly swam all summer long in Ohio, so there was no real chance of me drowning.
My mom immediately wrapped me in a towel she apparently always had within arm’s reach and my dad kept semi-shaking me asking, “You ok? Y’alright?” I think I nodded I was fine, but either way they knew I was ok.
Most importantly, I knew I was ok. I knew from the second I fell from the edge into the pool, while I spun down into the water, when I opened my eyes and saw the white wall…I knew that within seconds my Dad’s hand would wrap itself twice around my little arm and I would be back at the surface. I didn’t worry or panic, not even for a second.

Growing up, I usually gave up a food for Lent – one that I liked. Sometimes I gave up something I didn’t like because I didn’t feel like giving up anything I actually liked, but most of the time it was frozen Snickers bars or cookie dough. As an adult I didn’t observe Lent. In fact, I haven’t observed it for about 15 years. So this year, while standing in church on the first day of 40, I prayed hard. This is going to have to be a good one, I thought to myself. I prayed and I listened and I didn’t get the answer until the car ride home.
What do I give up for Lent in exchange for bigger faith in God?
Worry. You give up worrying.
How in the hell am I supposed to give up WORRYING?!
There weren’t any answers after that…
Having a dad for 7 years who was my protector, was my savior, was my personal God (yes, we went to church but he was still sort of God-like to me), it never even occurred to me to worry. About anything! I didn’t worry when it thundered, I didn’t worry in the dark, I didn’t worry when he was late coming home, and I didn’t worry if a bully on the school bus picked on me because I knew my dad would size the 9-year-old up in an ice cream shop and tell him, “Never go near my daughter again.”
My dad’s favorite song was, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He used to call my mom on the house phone when it came on the radio in his office and put the phone up to the speaker, shouting, “This is that song! This is it!”
The night he died was the very first night that I ever experienced worry.
I have probably experienced worry every single day since.
The idea of not worrying for 40 days was completely impossible, but I felt really driven to at least figure a way to try. I decided that when I began to worry about something, I would actively pray for God to take it from me. Take my money, my self-esteem, my career… I’m turning it over to You. Take it from me.
In other words, “You figure it out.” 
I probably prayed that prayer 1,000 times in the first two days. I tried to rationalize away fear, I tried to write about it, I tried to sit with it and let it take over my body (I would not reccomend this if you don’t know what you’re doing…I don’t know what I’m doing). The ONLY way I could stop worrying was to turn around and walk away from it. If I was balancing our budget and I started feeling panicked, I would set it down and walk away. I’d come back to it later and if I felt the same way, I’d walk away again. I just kept doing that until the fear subsided enough that I could get something done. Sometimes it took hours, sometimes it took days. But eventually I walked away praying my prayer enough times that I could come back and face whatever was worrying me.
I was successful at this about 70% of the time.
There were still days I completely lost my mind. There were still days I crawled into bed and stayed there. But a 70% improvement is damn good coming from where I was coming from.

I think if you grew up for any period of time, be it 18 or 7 years, with parents who made you feel safe and protected, worry isn’t as ingrown in your DNA as it is in mine. You have natural worries. But you don’t worry constantly that no one will pull you to the surface if you slip into the water; you assume eventually you’ll float to the surface and breathe again. I don’t have the innate ability to trust I’ll breathe again. In fact, most days I just assume it will be the last day I could truly breath.

So what happened after 40 days?

I now have longer stretches of breathing. I still panic or remind myself that I haven’t worried in over 27 minutes sometimes. I get myself back into the routine of waking up and beginning a list of things I have to worry about before I set the list down and try to wake up again with a different list, or just a prayer. I am still turning and physically walking in another direction when the all-too-familiar gut punch threatens to reverberate for an entire day. I’m practicing replacing worries with best-case-scenarios, and writing my ideal day out in my notebook at least 4 times a week to focus my energy on something I do want instead of something I don’t. I’ve even caught myself letting loose as if there’s NOTHING to worry three or four times!

But the best part is, in 40 days, I never once drowned. Even when I fell in, I just bobbed up to the surface like an invisible hand was lifting me back to safety. I’m still here, and still breathing.

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

Speaking in Car

My car died last Tuesday. I also broke four nails and spent 3 days in bed crying, so it’s a toss up as to the actual WORST part of last week, but it was a bad one.
It’s been nearly a 6 days since my car has been passed from shop to shop getting “diagnosed” because it’s “foreign” and no one in this country “speaks its language.” I’m sorry but if a kid in my middle school figured out Mandarin Chinese and Latin, you’d think SOMEONE employable in the city of Jacksonville could figure out a dialect “Mini Cooper.”
The whole thing felt like a pull from God to get a new car. Mostly because the guy at the first foreign car fixit shop I brought it to looked straight at me and said, “Time to get a new car.”
I told my husband I wanted to go car shopping and he immediately replied, “YAAAAAAAS” and started doing a weird little joy-dance. He’s not a big dancer, but he loves buying things like cars.
I decided I want something bigger than a Mini Cooper. Bear helped me narrow the field and we decided to go check out a few cars on a Sunday with the kids in tow. This way we’d have a good excuse to leave when Abe started licking things that people at the dealership would be uncomfortable with him licking.

“Whoops! No more licking Audi R8s, sweetie! Time to go!”

The first dealership had 6 guys standing out front and one of them sauntered over to us with a styrofoam to-go cup in his hand, like, “Eh. I’m just finishing lunch but I’ll help ’em out.”

“Looking for something?”
Of course I wanted to respond, “Yeah, I dropped my pen earlier…”
But Bear responded, “Probably a used 4Runner. You have any in white?”
“Yes. Over to the other end.” This guy was about 6 foot 2, grey hair, with a Russian accent. It literally sounded like everything he was saying to us was a set-up for heist that we may or may not now be involved in.
The walk to the pre-owned side of the lot was longer than the green mile, and Hubs was NOT speaking. Abe was speaking. A lot. “Gonna buy that car, mom?”
“No.”
“That one?”
“No.”
That one?”
“No.”
Russian guy said nothing.
Finally, we got to the 4Runners.
“I guess we don’t have any in white,” Russian guy said as he peered out over the sea of cars.
Now, to me, it seems like if you work at a car dealership you should have SOME way of knowing what inventory is on the lot. Like a list. A list of cars. That tells you what you have and what you don’t have. So when you’re walking a family of four to what feels like their imminent death by Russian mafia, you can assure them you have the color 4Runner they want.
“Ok. Can we test drive a gray one instead?” Hubs asked.
They guy literally handed us the keys and a loose license plate and told us to “bring it back.” I guess he felt like he’d made it clear Black Widow was waiting in the lounge if we didn’t act right, so he wasn’t concerned about the safety of the 4Runner. We drove it, brought it back, and left before anyone could offer us a shot of vodka.

“Let’s check out the Jeep dealership,” Bear said. I didn’t want a Jeep, but I was willing to try anything. By this point, Abe was holding up really well and Cub was silent and miserable, which was better than Abe’s normal loud and miserable. We walked onto the property and soon discovered you had no choice but to walk through the showroom to get to any of the cars.

*Immediately assaulted by sales associates.*

“Hey I’m Steven.”
Steven is maaaaybe 5 feet tall. He has piercing blue eyes and looks like he wants to climb my entire family while rattling off every feature and spec of all the cars on the entire lot. He also appears to be 12 years old.
I. Hate. Steven.
“What are you looking for?” he asked Bear.
“A car for her,” Bear pointed to me.
“What are you looking for?” he asked me.
“I’m not too sure.”
“You’re not sure?! Well, what have you driven so far today?”
Bear could sense my dislike of the man walking half a step behind me. “We just want to check out a Grand Cherokee,” Bear said.
“Oh yeah! Sure! I’ve got a black one over here!” Steven practically skipped to the car.
“I’m looking for something in white,” I said.
“Oh really? White? Ok. Cool. Why white?”
“Because it’s the color I want.”
“Ok cool. What color car do you have now?” he asked and I squeezed my hands into fists.
“A black one.”
“OOh! Ha. Yeah,” he said as he simultaneously looked at my husband and WINKED at him, as if to say, “Oh women. They think cars are like nail polish, don’t they?”
It took EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING not to say mean things in front of my children on purpose to teach them how not to treat a women and then lead my family out the front door.
He proceeded to rattle off a TON of colors and features to me like “heated seats” and “push this little button to close the hatch.” Then he proceeded to say, out loud, “Oh, your husband will think this is cool. Come here, man, while I pop the hood…”

Look. I get it. I’m a girl. I want a car that works good and looks nice. I don’t care if it’s a 2.9 or has 50 horses inside or how many of the wheels drive at once in the mud. I want to go from where I am now to where I want to go next without having to worry about a tow truck driver named Possum telling me about how he tore both shoulders and both knees pushing a tractor out of a ditch while he drags my beloved car to get fixed and I wait on an Uber. But. If you would INCLUDE me in conversations about the purchase of my OWN vehicle, I’m far more likely to purchase it from you.

Steven proceeded to corner, shift, refocus, and reframe the conversation one million times until he had enough information from us to try and make us a sweet deal. “Look. I’m not supposed to talk numbers with you (he was whispering in the middle of a rooftop parking lot wherein we were the only 5 people anywhere to be seen, so I can only assume he was wearing a wire), but I’ve got to move 45 cars in the next 3 days. I can get you some really good deals. But I’ve got to have some numbers to work with for my manger. Let’s go inside and talk about how we can make this happen today.”
“Oh, this isn’t happening today,” Bear corrected him.
It seems that when you tell Steve something, like you want a white car or you aren’t buying a car today, Steve hears, “I’ll take any color car and I’ll buy it today.” In the amount of time it would take me to dissect and write out this man’s technique for somehow roping us back around to the same conclusion of, “We’re not buying a car today,” you could order a pizza, have it delivered, and eat half of it before I was finished.

After two hours of this, Steven said it again. He said it. Again. After hundreds of offers for another bottle of water, one more look at “that gray one”, even offering to paint the gray one white (yes he did!), he asked me, “So what’s it going to take to get you in this car today?”

I paused. I breathed. And I looked him dead in his bright, blue eyes.
“Steven. Look at me in my eyes…”
“Ok ok ok…” he started.
“No. No seriously, Steven. Look at my eyes.”
He did. And he was terrified. I think Bear was smirking like, “Oh this is gonna be fun.”
“I’m. not. buying. a car. today. Got it?”
“Got it,” he nodded, still locked on my eyes.
“Now, if you still have this car tomorrow, or the next day, and it’s for sale for the same price, and I have slept on it and decided I want to purchase it, I will come back here and I will buy this car from you. Only you. No one else. No other dealership. I will walk in, ask for Steven, and ask you to bring me the keys to my new car. But I will not, under any circumstance, buy this car today.”
Steven didn’t ask me to buy the car after that.

I want to buy the car. I really like it. The gray one. (I know, I know, cars are like nail polish to me.) But, for once in my life I want to make a decision on my own time, in my own way. I don’t want to look at the people around me and ask their opinion. I don’t want to die of decision-paralysis and never get the car I want. I just want to say what I want and then walk away if what I want isn’t being offered. That simple. Bear said to the guy at the dealership, “This car is for her. She chooses what she wants.” I feel like that’s why he was put into my life; to remind me it’s mine and I get to choose what I want.

Also did you know the “energy between eclipses” is a thing?! It’s when everything goes bat shit insane between any two types of eclipse experiences. (We had one on the 10th and one this past weekend.) I *just* found out about this phenomenon from a woman who eats kale and talks to crystals. I asked my acupunturist about it and she was like, “You didn’t know that’s a thing?!” So if anything you’ve said or done in the past 7 days has been dramatic, we can blame it on the “energy between eclipses” and then take our shoes off and dance with Mother Earth or whatever.

 

Faith or Whatever

A few weeks ago I sat down to paint my fingers and toes. This is one of my favorite “me-time” activities. Not only do I save myself $50/month, but I frankly like the way I do my own nails better than any salon ever does them.
Unfortunately, by the time I got ready to do my toe nails, I was all but falling asleep. I’ll do them in the morning I lied to myself. The next morning came and went, along with like four more mornings. Until Friday night when it was time to go to see a play and I realized I couldn’t wear any of my heels because they all had open toes and I had…empty toes. Ugly old empty toes. Frankly, I got angry. Angry that I’d thrown away my one pair of closed-toed heels because they were falling apart at the seams and now I needed them. Angry that I didn’t have the money in my bank account to go shoe shopping. Angry that even if I did have the money in my account, I wouldn’t spend it on myself anyway. Angry that other people have NICE, NAME BRAND shoes that make them feel fancy. AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE EYELASH EXTENSIONS?! I used to get them but I can’t afford them anymore and they were my favorite thing and now I have NO heels to wear and short eyelashes.
I picked through the shelves of my closet looking for what, I don’t know, until I came upon a box. “Oh. I forgot about these.” My friend lent me a pair of shoes to wear to my wedding and I didn’t end up needing them. I set them on a shelf in their box because I didn’t feel comfortable wearing her shoes unless it was to my wedding, but when I calculated that that was 9 months ago, I thought it was possible she wouldn’t care. I looked back at the box. What kind of shoes are theseI wondered.
Vince. Camuto.
I hadn’t heard of Vince Camuto until late last summer when I was at Disney with a group of Beachbody coaches. We went into a Vince store because everyone loved that store (and I pretended to love it, too, even though I didn’t know the guy) and one of the dudes bought some of his cologne. It smelled great and seemed fancy so I bought Bear a little bottle. Some of the other girls bought shoes while they were there, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
But here I was, standing in my closet with a pair of Vince Camuto heels. Sparkly ones, too. With closed toes. The very thing I was complaining about not having 15 seconds before I was holding in my hand. Every aspect of what I asked for was right here: nice, name brand, fancy, closed toe.

“Let go and let God.” This is what they tell me. That if I have the faith the size of a mustard seed, I can move mountains.
Or whatever.
I’ll tell you, I’m a big believer in God, but He and I have been in a big ol’ fight for a while now. I’ve been believing in him for some serious stuff, praying a lot, listening for answers, and boy if he isn’t preoccupied making amazing things happen in other people’s lives lately. I’m focused everyday on avoiding the potential disasters surrounding me and He’s off galavanting with celebrities, I can only assume. There are so many days I ask Him, “Where ARE you?!?!” But I’m coming to think that maybe it’s the “let go” part I’m not doing. The “let God” part I’m all good with. Let God. You do it, God. It’s all You. Go for it. Fix the problems.

It’s the letting go and believing that He’s constantly working on my behalf if I’ll get out of the way that is my biggest challenge. It’s doing what I can do as a human, but then stepping back and leaving a little room for a high power to do the work I cannot do on my own (but really like to think that I can).
That little room between what I can do and what God can do, I think that’s what they call faith.
It’s that moment that I looked around my closet aimlessly with no real mission or expectation that God gifted me the exact shoes I said I wanted.

Except, they weren’t mine. So I texted my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You read that? “You can keep em!” So now, they’re mine. A perfectly perfect, flashy, simple, closed toed, name brand, fancy pair of heels…delivered 9 months ago, 15 seconds after I asked for them. I dunno if that’s faith or luck or coincidence or whatever, but I think it’s how God works. We ask, we move where we can, and then we get OUT OF THE WAY. Because He thinks of stuff we don’t think about so we can have what we want in WAY easier ways than driving to Nordstroms and putting it on a credit card.

P.S. My coach at the gym walked in with some brand new flashy eyelash extensions this week. She told me about the woman she found who does them out of her home and charges a third the price I used to pay. So. I’m getting those, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst Burn

My girlfriend got into a minor car accident this morning. She was fine and actually felt encouraged that it was better to just stay home, which is what she woke up thinking she wanted to do anyway. But the feeling of loyalty and concern I felt for her before finding out it was pretty minor gave me a PTSD response…

Almost 10 years ago I was in a head-on car accident with my Before Husband. He was relatively unscathed, as was I, except for a decent burn on my forearm from the airbag. I was taken to the hospital from the scene so they could check me out because I was complaining of neck pain, too. I had to be in a little room all by myself while my Before Husband dealt with insurance and the police. I wondered if anyone knew what room I was in. I wondered if any of these nurses had checked to see if my Before Husband was finished in case he might want to come be with me. I wondered if our friends were there.
One nurse came in and gently cleaned my burn. “What’s the red?” I asked.
“Those are capillaries.”
“I don’t think they are, though. That doesn’t look like it’s part of my body.”
“Oh, you know what? You’re right,” the nurse said. “As I look closer I think those are threads from the airbag. I’ll need to scrub those out.”
I was sorry I asked.
If you’ve ever had a burn. You know it hurts. If you’ve ever had anybody SCRUB a burn, you know that’s just not necessary and ridiculously cruel without numbing medication or hard opiates.

It hurts. So much.

Luckily it was a small burn and she only scrubbed for about 45 seconds. She gently wrapped it and after getting a clear neck and spine, I was free to go. I stood up and began walking down a long hallway. When I turned the corner of another long hallway, she was standing there. She stood firmly, feet planted, arms crossed, angry that she couldn’t cross the invisible line the hospital had drawn in front of her. My best friend. She was waiting for me.
Her concern was overwhelming, her loyalty palpable. In that moment, I felt so covered. My person is here. Yes, I had a husband then who was also my person, but she was my sister. And she was here. She had me.

It’s been almost three and a half years since we’ve been friends. Divorce does funny things.

I’ve reached out to her a few times, and the most recent time seemed like it did the trick. It seemed like we were going to be friends again. We were talking like we used to, making old jokes, listening to each other. We agreed we would start over and take it slow and talk through our grievances because it was worth the time to do that. I left the ball in her court to call be next since she was far less flexible with her time than I am. “Just call me next week sometime when you’re ready. I’m always around!” I texted her a few times after that phone call. It felt so good to know we were back on track.

That was the last time I heard from her.

A few weeks ago I learned that she’s due to have a baby in a few months. I found out from a third party – my Before Husband’s new wife. I wasn’t really hurt by it at the time because I’d already written the friendship off (again). But today, when my friend was in the car accident and I felt compelled to go stand at that invisible line in the hospital waiting for her…I realized that I might never truly stop grieving that old friendship. We always talked about having our babies together. And when I had Abe, she told me how much she’d need me when she had her first. She was my person. She stood on the line for me.

And ultimately, the loss of our friendship burned me worse than that car accident did.
It hurt. So much.

Relationships are such weird things. Have you ever felt that longing for an ex like, “I would do anything to have them back but now that they’ve shown me their true colors I don’t really want them back but I’d still take them back in a heartbeat!!” Friendships can be the same way. Maybe even worse. And just like with an ex, I kick myself when I start thinking of our old friendship again and wishing I had it back. Almost like I’m brain-cheating on the girlfriends I have now.

God has seriously blessed me with 6 or 7 women who would stand on that line for me today. Nah. They would jump the line and fight to get into the room and hold my other hand while a nurse scraped and scrubbed my burns. I literally praise God for them daily. The landscape of my life would be one big tree (or Bear, if you want to be more literal) and a few little saplings without them. But they don’t replace the friendship I lost. No one can. Not even 6 or 7 can.
I just can’t believe I’m still grieving it even after all this time. And how much it still burns.

 

THE INSTANT POT

I was lucky enough to go to the Propel Women’s conference this past weekend, spending an entire day listening to some POWERHOUSE women talk about how to get shit done. And I need to share with you the most important details I learned from them…

…tomorrow.

Because today we need to talk about something even MORE important.

My new Instant Pot.

Look. I’ve got a beautiful crock pot. I’ve got a rice cooker. I’ve got a steamer. I’ve got the STUFF, ok? This isn’t that. This is a whole new level of life-changing.
The Instant Pot, in short, is a crock pot that cooks things in half, a third, even an eighth of the time it takes to cook conventionally.
I did not believe it either.
But not only does it cook so much faster, it cooks BETTER. It’s fail-proof. You cannot dry out chicken. You cannot mess up your beef stew. Your hard boiled eggs will be the stuff DREAMS are made of.

Am I overselling it?

I DON’T CARE. EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS.

What is it? Is it magic?
Yes. Sort of.
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, only with less pressure than traditional pressure cookers. This means it doesn’t involve your stove and it’s far safer. There is a fair amount of automation (press the “poultry” button for chicken and then fold half a load of laundry because that’s about how much time you’ll have before it’s ready). There’s also some shortcuts and a learning curve, but it’s all Googleable (it’s a word).

15328187_10155503434199829_1914045671_nMy first meal was boneless, skinless chicken breast. And what do we know about boneless, skinless chicken breast? Say it with me.
“IT GETS DRY!”
I didn’t have any broth so I tossed in water and a ton of herbs with an onion. I set the pot for “poultry”. It took 5 minutes to heat up and 20 minutes to cook. No brining the chicken. No marinating. No covering or turning or basting. Just toss it all in the pot and wait.
Guess what?
It was freaking delicious. Moist. (Sorry, everyone who hates that word.) It was flavorful. It was all in one pot. With potatoes. Also perfect.

15388839_10155503432969829_64847280_oNext I did chicken parmesan with broccoli and garlic. So good.

Tonight was pot roast. Forty-five minutes for pot roast that tasted slow-cooked. I didn’t take a picture because everyone ate it faster than I could snap it.

The most beautiful part is that you CAN start anything you’re cooking early in the day and it will keep it perfectly warm without continuing to cook it until you get home. How does it do that? I DON’T KNOW. I DO NOT KNOW.

15354217_10155503432944829_644750893_oEggs? Put them in with a cup of water for 12 minutes. Boom. Perfectly cooked with shells that fall off.
STAHP IT.
I won’t.

I don’t know where this pot was all your life, either. And I’m sorry it took so long for me to tell you about it.

No, I don’t work for Instant Pot. I just can’t deal with how amazing it is and I think everyone should own one. I’m going to be posting Instant Pot recipes as I find/create them, so follow along with your own IP if you have one.

I ordered my Instant Pot on Black Friday at the suggestion of a friend on Facebook. Regularly it’s $129.95. Now that I know what it can do, I would pay it in a HEARTBEAT.
There are also smaller versions that cost less. Mine is a 7-in-1 6 qt., which apparently means I can cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes and also make my own yogurt, so I’ll be trying that next… Different ones go on sale at different times. Right now the 6-in-1 6qt pot is a little less expensive for no real reason.

Tomorrow I’ll share something VERY inspiring and deep and memorable with you. But today. Today I just want you to know the Instant Pot is my Monday night savior.

 

Amazon 7 in 1 6qt pot (this one can make yogurt and the 6 in 1 can’t…)

Amazon 6 in 1 6qt pot:

Amazon 7 in 1 5qt pot (this one can make yogurt and the 6 in 1 can’t…)

Amazon 6 in 1 5qt pot:

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