You Like Me, You Really Like Me (I think)

I just had a text conversation with one of my good friends about a phone call I took tonight. It was from a person I thought was a good friend of mine, but realized recently that my view of the friendship was much deeper than what they felt toward me. Ouch. Yeah, that one stung a tad.

This phone call tonight elated me. Yes, I got hurt by this person. Yes, I vowed to never fall victim to manipulation again. But they CALLED.ME. After all, I miss this person in my life.

Almost as soon as they called, my brain started it’s own conversation.  It went something like this:

Brain: I can’t believe you are falling for this again.

Me: (Whining) Whhhhhaaaaaaatttttt? I miss them.

Brain: They’re pimping you for information.

Me: …………..I don’t care. Shut up.

After the call, I felt a little happy and a little pathetic. I am a strong woman, ask some of my good friends – I can be fierce. But I’m also a normal person and WANT to be liked. I mean, who doesn’t?

I want the cool kids to like me. I want to sit with the popular folks at lunch and get invited to parties with the Richies (shout out to any other “Pretty in Pink” maniacs). I WANT to be wanted.

stef

Yes, I’m a 45 year old woman and not a 17 year old girl.

I’m also an idiot.

Sometimes in our want of recognition and validation, we lose sight of our standards. We give up those things like honesty, like dignity, like sanity even.

Would I let a good friend of mine keep getting used by a turkey in their lives without saying something? Probably not. But guess what-I do allow myself to get taken in and bent like a “spineless jelly” on occasion.

I’m a sucker for manipulation by others sometimes. Maybe you are, too. Maybe I want to be in the club for just a minute rather than the outsider behind the velvet ropes. Maybe I wanted to break out of that damned box I am usually pushed in (especially with work relationships).

Tonight I traded my brain for my heart, and in life, this is the choice you make. It doesn’t mean that there are no consequences. For me, it’ll be timing how long some of the information I shared with this person takes to get back to me (usually in a mangled tale that in no way resembles my actual conversation). I’ll also realize that this rush of “friendship” I am feeling right now is like my tan, fake. But lets not squash this feeling *too* soon, ok?

That’s the hard part.

sally

But just like Sally Field said whilst accepting her Oscar, I may say “you like me” but my brain really does know the difference between manipulators and true friends. I may just need to listen to it a bit better next time.

 

 

 

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Mantra Friday – You are NOT Dumb

It’s Friday and my favorite day of the week. Yeah, you have to go to work, but it’s the easiest day to do. Everyone is typically in a great mood for the impending weekend and more goofing off is done on Fridays than any other weekday (I’d footnote the science behind this fact, but I made it up-just to be completely honest).

But some Fridays are tough, am I right? Some Fridays you may screw up and really start to come down on yourself, then linger on it all damn weekend. This Friday Mantra is for those days – keep it in your back pocket for when you may need it.

Today’s Mantra: You are NOT Dumb.

Notice the period at the end of this sentence. Period. Meaning, zero discussion or “but”s.

Your only work today is to repeat this mantra when you start getting inside of your own head. Remember all the smart shit you can do. Remember all the stuff you can teach others to do.

Again, You are NOT Dumb. Say it to yourself at your desk, in your car (although, please don’t drive and blog binge), in your bed when you are too lazy to get up, at Taco Bell, or any other damn place you happen to be.

d&d

We all have “blonde” moments. As a newly found blonde, I can tell you that this is not offensive.

We all fuck up.

Forgive yourself and remember what a smarty pants you really can be.

Bittersweets

Bittersweet Chocolate, you know, it’s that chocolate used for baking. As a kid, your mom would be making something in the kitchen with the opened foil and paper wrappers of the bittersweet chocolate squares lying on the counter and you’d be all sly and snag a piece. Almost as soon as you put it in your mouth, your face squinches up and you’re left with a thick, almost tangy, half sweet-half sour flavor in your mouth.

Maybe it’s exactly that reaction I am channeling when I experience a bittersweet life experience. Those events that are happy, yet sad-all at the same time. An internal emotional conflict that rolls through you where your head and your heart are torn apart. Typically, my bittersweet moments are at the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Relationships, jobs, friendships, whatever.

I’ve got a bittersweet event right now. So many happy things surround my heart and I have a huge loyalty thing goin’ on over here. However, my head is on a mission, pulling my heart along like a impatient mother pulling her little kiddo from the playground. I hear my inner voice telling me “this is best”, or “it’s time”. But my heart is stubborn. I imagine that I’m tasting the chocolate just now. My face hasn’t fully turned sour over it, yet. I’m still trying to convince myself it’s the most delicious milk chocolate ever.

Alas, I’m not a glutton for punishment. I’ll come around. I’ll connect my tastebuds again and realize this ISN’T milk chocolate anymore – it’s semi-sweet – then it’s bittersweet. Not terrible, but not satisfying. Time to find something else.

When it’s time to align my heart and my head – the universe will deliver the message to me in a peaceful way that illuminates the right decision to make. I’ll be both sad and happy when this happens.

Forrest Gump’s Mamma was right. Life is like a box of chocolates. Just don’t settle for those pieces that taste less than delicious.

Hissing Geese and Susans

We have a pond behind our house and another bigger pond across our neighborhood (small lake?) Anyway, on tonight’s walk at the small lake, there was a family of geese. Two parents and 7 young adult geese, to be exact. As we were walking on the path, these geese saw us approaching and would.not.move. The eldest started hissing at us and so I hissed back at them, getting the aggressive attention of the whole gaggle (I am making this the plural of geese and I didn’t Google search to make sure it’s right – covfefe).

My husband said “Don’t get aggressive with them – be quiet and walk slowly.” Sure enough, our quiet, gentle movements made the geese move aside to let us pass. Only one adult was still unsure and hissed quietly under it’s beak (breath).

It donned on me that dealing with hissing geese is a lot like dealing with aggressive people in life, including work. When you come at an aggressive goose in an aggressive manner, that bird is gonna get you. Same goes for the “Susan” in the office.

You know Susan, although she may have a different name where you work, she is passive aggressive, likes to stir the pot, throw people under the bus, and other non-Kumbaya activities. Susan makes people tense and sometimes angry. Going at Susan aggressively won’t work for you. Quietly and slowly maneuvering around her may garner you some hissing, but not a full-on attack.

Susan

*Susan is just a term here, not an actual name, but it feels good to have a word for this kind of person, doesn’t it. Just imagine saying “Damn it, Susan”. Feels real good, doesn’t it?

I’ve got a Susan where I work. I’ve tried being nice, ignoring her, confronting her, and god only knows what else. My tactics have not worked and now I feel as if I’m hissing at a hissing goose. There are no winners here, folks. In fact, I know an attack may be eminent.

Tonight’s encounter with the hissing goose made me realize I had a new tactic in dealing with Susan.  I shan’t hiss back next time she hisses at me. I’ll just quietly move around her with a smile and go back to my desk or continue walking around the work pond, avoiding the poo on the sidewalks.

 

 

Father(less) Day

Today is the Sunday in June that we celebrate the fathers in our lives. Cards with fish and beer on them fill the Hallmark aisle at the grocery. I see mothers with their small children choosing a gift for Daddy, and never really deciding on something good enough.

If you are a father, bless you. Love that child with all of your heart (and be kind and supportive to your baby mama, too). May today be filled with giggles and hugs and fond remembrances of all things Daddy and me.

I’m lucky to be married to a fantastic father to our only child. He has always been there for her (and to me, his baby mama) and she is truly a Daddy’s girl.

But what happens when you don’t have your own father to shower with affection on this Father’s Day? My own father passed away when I was 27. For those of you that assumed I am 29, I love you. But alas, my father has been gone for over 19 years now. Wow.

My father and I didn’t have the best relationship when I was growing up. I was a surprise baby to my parents, my mother was 27 and my father, 31 in the early 1970s. They never wanted children-a fact my father reminded me of, often. He adored alcohol. That’s the only way I can put it. He drank…and he drank…and he drank. Not a nice drunk either.

Before you go feelin’ all sorry for me, please know, I’m not writing this as some therapy session or even for your pity. But the trials and tribulations I went through made me who I am today. I’m a survivor (please sing Beyonce now, it’s ok, I am). I’m tough as nails and wont let just anyone try to cut me down or allow blatant disrespect. I also have the backs of others. Yeah, try talking shit about my friend around me…I’ll be the first one contradicting you.

My Father and I had a rocky relationship, but I always loved him…I still do. We made amends when I graduated from college and became an “adult”. I still remember the talk, over a beer, at his favorite bar. I listed out all of the stuff that I hated him for. Surprisingly, he had his own grievances against me (many on point). Of course I forgave him. He forgave me, too. We were then able to build a bond and relationship a bit before he got really sick. I look back with fondness at those years, and try to block out the other bits.

So this Father’s Day, while I cannot give him a card about drinking beer or hug him, I can share with you the lessons I learned from him.

Lesson 1: The lesson of respecting yourself and standing up for those who may be weaker than you. I used to stand up for my mother, now I do it as a career for others.

Lesson 2: That life is too short to be unhappy. Leave a job that is draining your mojo. Leave a relationship that makes you sad. Ditch “friends” that really aren’t your friends.

Lesson 3: Forgiveness is everything. Get over yourself. Acknowledge the wrongs and the hurts, then forgive. To leave everything unsettled is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Ask for forgiveness if you need it, too.

Lesson 4: Never wrap a gun in a ski mask. This is a bit of an inside joke – but I know he’s laughing his ass off wherever he is.

Parents do the best they can. My Dad never wanted to be a Dad. When faced with this impending fact, he didn’t know what to do. There’s no manual on fathering or mothering, for that matter. Being a parent is scary stuff. Here’s this teeny tiny little helpless human needing you – yes, and that means any and all baggage you may be carrying, too.

My Father wasn’t a great one, but he was mine. He inadvertently shaped me into the strong, successful woman I am today. I could have tons of resentment for the lack of a caring and loving Father, but be careful with your judgements-I had to learn another lesson.

Lesson 5: My Father loved me and was proud of me. I only learned this at his funeral, sadly. A man my Father worked with for over 30 years came to my Dad’s funeral. When I recognized him, he told me that my Father was so proud of me. That he talked about my accomplishments to his team at work, and showed all of them my school pictures.

I never knew.

So today, if you have a Father that’s still alive and you know how to reach him. Do it. Call him, drive over, just let him know that you love him. Forgive him if you can (you should) and start the path to reconciliation.

Be sure to tell your kids you love them. They need to hear it. Don’t let it be implied. And most importantly of all, have a terrific day with your kids and your Dad today.

Happy Father’s Day!

Getting Personal about Taking it Personally

*Insert your most recent memory about someone (anyone) telling you to “not take it personally”.

Feel that defensiveness and possible borderline rage creep in? Of course you do. Congratulations, you’re human.

I’m experiencing a major-big-deal in my life right now. It’s a bit of a crossroads, if you will. While explaining the details here would be highly inappropriate at this time, I can tell you that you likely have had a similar realization in your life.

I can be a bit of a Type A personality that has overcome Type A’edness by forcing myself to embrace non-Type A behaviors. These are not nature traits for me, they are nurtured. My natural instinct to any major dilemma in life is to 1) freak out; 2) pretend like I’m not freaking out; 3) scramble to assess immediate options of escape; 4) realizing I’m an adult and running away from adversity is frowned upon; and then 5) pulling up my waders and mucking through the shit to solve the problem. Note: Pardon my French here, but at this point, we are old pals and you should know I sometimes curse – a lot.

Along this major-big-deal, as I’ve termed this little shit storm, I’ve been reaching out to friends and loved ones to vent and run by game plans. The resounding message at the end of their patience and great insight has been to “try not to take this personally.”

This is a trigger phrase for me. Maybe it’s one of yours, too. I instantly feel my body and mind freeze and take this phrase as a sort of insult.

This is wrong. I know this. These people I love in my life care about me. They aren’t brushing off my problems with the broad brush that “don’t take it personally” feels like. They are trying to give me perspective. It’s just taken me 45 years to figure this out.

I had an ex-coworker give me some very valuable advice, but the one of his thoughts that resonates with me is this: all of us will have two types of people in life, those that care about us and those that are just curious about us. Identifying these two groups of people in my life has been mission critical. Making mistakes on classifying a friend or co-worker as caring or curious can be painful, hurtful, and downright disastrous. But time and time again, I find myself making this mistake and realizing, only too late, that my “friend” wasn’t a friend at all. PS: This is a blog for another day.

But hear me out – realizing who those people are that only are curious, will save you some sleepless nights. These are the people that you should listen to their well-intentioned advice in the same manner you would listen to a complete stranger on the street. They don’t know you, they can’t understand you, and many times they have no desire to do either.

But those people in your life that you know CARE about you are those you should treasure and hold close to your heart. They may slip in those knee jerking lines like “no offense but” or “don’t take it personally”, but you need to see those lines for what they are – lines. They aren’t part of your loved one’s way of bringing you down or brushing off your concerns.

Knowing the difference is liberating and healing.

So, in the same vein – I’m telling you, please stop taking advice so personally. Know your audience and their intentions.  Work on your fuse and lengthen it. I know I am continuously working on both of these things and maybe always will.

In the meantime, I’ll be listening to advice from my caring friends and family on this situation I’m faced with and doing my best to take their insights personally.

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Summer

It’s summer my friends. This is time for kiddos to be off from school and for those of us that work full-time, to find time to live a fantabulous life after 5pm.

My summer life starts as soon as I hit the doors of work in the late afternoon. I get a skip in my step and possibly even whistle to my car. Don’t get me wrong – I LIKE my job, a lot. In fact, I adore the people I get to spend the daily grind with. However, summer is my jam and summer nights are my favorite.

Driving home, I have around a 30 mile commute from work, I think of all the possibilities that await me when I hit the front door. Let the party begin.

With the sunroof open, air conditioning blowing, and some kind of music (sans Country -it’s just my least favorite) blaring out of the car speakers, you can find me wearing a spectacular pair of sunnies and singing…loud.

Summer is for patio living. My husband and I just bought a new home last August and our new patio has all you could want. A outdoor living room-ish area that’s covered, and an exposed area with our dining table, grill and Chiminea. Perfect.

Our new yard butts up to a State Route. We call it our Hillbilly Highway. Most of the cars you will see/hear will be big, loud trucks or old shoddy cars with exhausts in need of repair. We think it’s better sightseeing than watching the summer series on TV. Almost like people watching at the fair, I like to imagine where these people are going or where they came from. I also ask nearly every time, “why are you goin’ so fast?” If the vehicle is especially loud, we’ll yell after it…”GET ITTTTTTT!”

Drinks and a lovely dinner are part of our summer nights. Sometimes we cook at home, sometimes we order out. Most always that order out is Mexican food. I like my red wines and hubby enjoys his Miller Light. The music goes on and we sit out on the patio until dark.

I’m sitting there right now. The lightning bugs are out and our “pet” frog, Lawrence, is singing from under our patio umbrella stand. We live just on the edge of of town and it’s pretty quiet out here (aside from the Hillbilly Highway, of course). We have a nice pond on the edge of our property and it is heavenly. It’s supposed to storm tonight so the clouds are a particularly gorgeous dark grey/blue with some off in the distance lightning illuminating the sky.  Yes, please.

This is my beautiful summer. These are the days that run long and conversation sparks new ideas. It’s the time for relaxation and doing nothing more than enjoying life and those you choose to share it with.