Grown Ass Conversations

“I don’t want to talk about it. The whole thing feels stupid and ridiculous. That’s why I texted you. I wanted to tell you about it but I don’t want to talk about it.”

But I did want to talk about it. What I actually wanted was for him to simultaneously find a magical way to tell me I was right, I was wrong, I was super smart, I was super silly, and this was the miraculously simple way to fix the whole thing. That should be easy enough, right?

Instead he just loved me through it. And told he some soft truths about myself. Things I already knew. Things I was working on. Things he was proud of me for making progress in. The truths are actually pretty hard. They are things I hate to think about and just want to function in their dysfunction. But they don’t because they are, well, dysfunctional.


“Why do you feel ridiculous?”

“Because I am grown. Grown ass women aren’t supposed to get up in their feelings about this kind of thing.”

“It’s exactly because you are grown ass woman that you are capable of having the grown up conversations.”

“But what if I’m wrong?”

“Then that’s on you. I watch you do this thing pretty often where you feel a kind of way and should do something about it, but you go to your programming that says you are probably wrong and so you do nothing and nothing changes and you just take it. Now understand that I am not saying you are less than, I am saying that you are too hard on yourself.”

“I might do that a little.”

I might do that a lot.

I watch folks who are able to say anything. They are able to engage in confrontation in a way that makes my skin goose up. They are able to have the conversations – provoke them even – and keep moving forward. I am trying hard to be that person. To say the things I want to say fearlessly and openly. To be honest with people even it exposes a weakness or a wrong. To open loops that might close differently than I would like them to, or worse, not close themselves at all.

This season’s Big Brother is the Celebrity edition and it has been very interesting. I am watching these somewhat accomplished folks participate in varying degrees of empowerment. During many of the exchanges I find myself so frustrated that person A won’t just tell person B to go to hell, you are not the boss of me. They should say it. Person A deserves to say it and person B deserves to hear it, but they don’t. I would like to think I would. I probably wouldn’t.

But the real truth is that candidness is part of being a whole, real, honest, decent person. It isn’t fair to people I want relationship with to have to bear the judgement of my unspoken assumptions. It isn’t the way I would want to be treated. I would want them to have the courage to come to say what they needed to say. More than courage, I want to be seen as the kind of person with whom it is safe to have those kinds of conversations. I want to be a grown up and I want to be with grown up people. If I hope for that level of maturity from others, it is reasonable that I have to foster that type of maturity from myself.

It’s a funny little Catch 22 that I notice more in woman than I do in men. It’s the “if I have to ask for it, I don’t really want it” or its cousin, “if you loved me you would just know.” I don’t know where these tendencies come from, but I will be the first to admit that I have them. Further, they make sense to me in an inarticulable way. But it also makes sense that we should be able to ask for what we need, have adult conversations about wants and happys and hurts.

I’ve done much better the past year opening my mouth and exposing my inner thoughts. There’s something to be said for safety and confidence. There is also something to be said for the being able to see a real glimpse of unconditional love for oneself and others – not in the wild or in the pretend, but in your own life, involving your own heart. Like any other behavior, it is easier to understand and adopt once you see it modeled.

The neat thing is that motion creates momentum. The more I speak my thoughts, the more I think, the more I get comfortable with having all the thoughts, the more I feel okay to speak, the more connection I create, the more love I am able to give, the more love I am able to receive, the more positive my thoughts, the more I am able to converse, the more resilient I am when things are funky, the more whole I feel, the healthier I am, the more I speak my thoughts.

Take all the time you need to go through that spiderweb of interconnected healthy. Nothing happens in a vacuum. None of us are labels or defined by one singular thing. Sentient, dynamic, eclectic beings we are. That movement of all things in us and around us is a beautiful thing.

#TeamGnat

I don’t think I have ever been so excited to see a sand gnat in my entire life as I was Sunday. Kids were slapping themselves silly and the adults were reaching for sprays and remedies.

I sat on the bench of the picnic table in my backyard and felt like a kid at Christmas 4th of July.

Weather is not my favorite. I like it one way – hot and sunny. I will tolerate warm and sunny. My face starts distorting at rainy (don’t even ask what my hair does). When the mercury dips south of 70, I get nervous and it is all downhill from there. Fall is my least favorite time of the year because it’s the furthest away I ever am from summer.  Hurricanes? Snow? Just. No.

This aversion to a wide range of weather patterns is not new to me. I’ve known this about myself for a long time. I typically get more moody in the winter and have to pay a bit more attention to my general outlook during those months. I live in southern Georgia for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is our milder, shorter winters.

Listen, I have been known to occasionally have the ability to pull my shoulders back, put my head down, and bulldog my way through situations that are less than fun. I am no stranger to the harder things and I can carry my own in the physical toughness/mental fortitude department. I am typically a pretty positive person with a seemingly deep reservoir for optimism. All that being true, this winter has seriously kicked my ass.

I didn’t realize what was happening until pretty late in the season. I have had a lot going on. There is way more change happening in my life than I am typically accustomed to. I am at this interesting moment in my life where I am happier and safer than I have ever been and that translates into more movement of environment and self than I can keep up with most days. My life resembles a drunken game of speed Yahtzee. Just when I think I have found my groove, I lose it again.

Since I came off the corporate payroll in October, every single strategy I have attempted to employ in my life has had roughly the same life span as a lovebug with about the same level of usefulness. And I have worked really hard on strategies – time blocking, goal setting, accountability, schedule keeping, free range, lists, reminders, affirmations – you name it. But, none of those things have helped. This all get pretty frustrating especially when the things I am attempting to accomplish aren’t even new to me. I would simply like to be a better caretaker of my family (food, chores, availability), a better friend (time, attention, support), and a better steward of myself (health, writing, self care). That’s it. That’s not a lot. I’ve done it before.

I have, surprisingly enough, been pretty gentle with myself in the process. I am very careful to watch how I talk to myself. Even those “better”s in the last paragraph gave me pause as I was worried how others might view them. I know that I don’t mean I think I am less than. I have come to a comfortable place where I know I will always want to be better and that’s okay. I can want to be better while still being happy with the present.

Except when the present looks like me last week, playing Call of Duty, in my pajamas, at 1:30 in the afternoon, hands wrapped around an Xbox controller being the only thing that kept them from being thrown up in utter defeat. I had completely given up on even trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the gumption to go to the gym, why I couldn’t noun and verb, why the laundry pile up was unphasing, why brushing my teeth seemed like the biggest chore in the world at that moment. Seriously, hadn’t I gotten my whole family up, out, and on time? That’s something.

But, the universe loves me and I have the best friends. A text came in completely unrelated to my life or Call of Duty. But because I have friends who think the deeper thought and love without judgement, I found the space to think about it for two seconds longer in a slightly different way.

Holy shit! It’s this effing weather. This is my first winter without a regular job. I have no frame of reference for being prepared to go through this particularly off putting time without a pretty rigid foundation for things I just have to do. I can’t find a center because I have been unable to spend any real time outside and I don’t have the crutch of the job. I wasn’t prepared to go into this season without a plan. The whole thing had caught me off guard.

I was encouraged by the realization. I instantly felt better. There was nothing I could about it at the moment. As good as I am, I cannot change the weather. But there is comfort in knowing. I took solace in that and felt a little better killing zombies.

We had a multi family potluck Sunday. The sand gnats showed up and I couldn’t have been more excited to see them.

 

2012 Manifesto – Because I Like the Word “Manifesto”

It has been an interesting year…looking back on 2011 as it comes to a close, it seems while one might say “business as usual” there are actually some fairly interesting movements.

Typically, I start each new year with an anthem of sorts…and honestly, I can’t remember what this year’s was. I suppose I could go back and look at some of the places I would have recorded it. But frankly, if I can’t remember, that says something about its importance.

Knocking on the door of 2012, I know there are things that have to change. They have to change because I have changed. I am known for a pretty thick skin. It has worn a bit thin. While I am more comfortable in it, I feel through it a bit differently. Situations that I could view or pass through unscathed now move me in ways that are distracting. My eyes well on a regular basis. My heart hurts. I feel sadness. It isn’t that I myself am sad, or my own circumstances cause pain, but the empathy for those around me.

I witnessed a great deal of pain, sickness, hurt, death, and despair this year. I also experienced great joy, love, creation, and happiness. I doubt there were more occurrences – I am simply more susceptible to its effects.

Things that used to seem interesting or even slightly important now seem pivotal and game changing…

Even as I write this, I realize I am not saying all the things I want to say. It is becoming clear that this movement will develop itself…continue to develop itself…as I grow and learn with it.

I know that I am not all that I could be. I also know that it is not because I fail – but because I have so much potential, I have great room for expansion! I know I make mistakes, I realize that I am not perfect. I understand that if I were to run for a public office, it would be interesting. But I also know that I am a fabulous person. I am not scarred by failure and missteps. I am enriched by experience and journeys.

This year I became a runner. It has had a marked effect on me as a person. It has strengthened nearly every aspect of my person, created some beautiful friendships, and has become a core characteristic of who I am. The combination of time alone, exercise to the body, and a great illustration of my personal fortitude have created a deeper understanding of all that I am capable of.

This year I have owned my profession. For the first time I refuse to accept second best in any aspect of my professional life. I have gone back to school. I have forged new relationships. I have clarified roles, positions, expectations. I accept full responsibility for things that are mine. I do not martyr myself for others who refuse to do the same. I appreciate that there will always be critics and people who have nothing better to do than to try to drag down others. They can do that by themselves – I am not playing that game anymore.

This year I have learned that meanness is a major contributor of all things ugly in the world. Its root is fear. Fear makes for dark places. I am learning to place more emphasis on compassion than right, grace than win, comfort than conversion. I have learned that people are defensive, not because they are created that way, but because they are conditioned to proverbial face slaps whenever a weakness or a fault shows through the façade. So we fake. And we puff out our chests and berate others over the one thing we have gotten right so that maybe no one will notice all the other things we have yet to figure out. Because we can’t be weak…we can’t be wrong…we can’t fail…yeah, I am calling bullshit on all of that. A little harsh in the language category? Maybe, but I am thinking I am going to get pretty darn militant about compassion, grace, and comfort.

This year my family is nearing the conclusion of the journey that will bring us fully into the Catholic faith. It has done more to strengthen our resolve as a family and increase our compassion to humanity in general than I can begin to explain to you. Is this an evangelical mission? Not unless you want it to be…otherwise, it is simply me sharing with you another moment in my year. Interesting that I even feel I have to qualify that…something I will need to chew on…at any rate, this journey is becoming more evident in nearly everything I do. I was nervous about that for a minute. I am not so much anymore.

I am excited about 2012. I am looking for wondrous happenings. I am as prepared as one can be for more heartbreak…because I am committed to loving and serving more fully. In that position, heartbreak just happens – I am working on no longer judging that as good or bad…it just is…and hurting for others is proof of the love for others. Compassion moves with people where they are…and sometimes those places are painful.

But I am committed to the rainbows and unicorns. I am committed to smiles and hugs. I am completely sold out to motivational posters and talking in bumper sticker…because, quite frankly, I am thinking that a happy dork is going to be more productive as a human than a hateful suave.

Photo credit to Planet Breathe

Little Changes = Big Results

Do you know how often I hear, “What time did you _______?”
Insert into the blank

  • send that email
  • write a blog post
  • comment on a website
  • anything that has a timestamp.

Bunches.  Most people don’t notice the 3:30AM ish time – but when they do, they have questions.

Yes, I am typically up by 3 or 4 in the morning.  But I am typically asleep by 11PM.  I learned quite some time ago that I am super productive during the early morning hours.  I don’t require a whole lot of sleep.  If I sleep too much, my brain and body gets lazy.

The thing that interested me the most is that I wouldn’t get the same questions if I stayed up until 1 or 2 and was up at 6 or 7.

This difference in perception made me wonder – how many people lose out on big gains because they are stuck doing it the way they have always done it, or the way it “ought” to be done?

We often think we are not as productive, happy, energetic, accomplished as we could be because of outside influences – market, weather, circumstance.  But, what if it’s not any of those things.  What if it’s you?

  • Sounds crazy to get up at 3 – you might be missing your peak time.
  • Can’t imagine sleeping later and staying up till after midnight – that could be where your stride is.
  • Do you need to start a little earlier and stay a little later so you have extra time a lunch to relax – or even sleep?
  • Maybe when you take a shower, eat breakfast, or any part of routine is out of whack.
  • Do you read enough?
  • Do you listen enough?
  • Do you sleep enough?
  • Do you eat enough?

Take a look at the way you run your day.  Is it all that it could be?  Have you tried making it more effective in the past but could never seem to quite make it work?  Think outside of the guided path – what little changes could make a big difference in your productivity?

The Confessions of a (Relatively) Perfect Mom

I love being a mommy – it is truly one of my favorite things. My four daughters are a joy in my life and I wouldn’t trade them for a thing in the world. Ask them and they will tell you – I am the best mom in the world. In fact, I do consider myself the perfect mom.

***Begin playing sappy music***

McDonald’s is not a staple of our diet. We have family movie night. I am cautious of the movies they watch, clothes they wear, music they hear, and the friends they have.  We discuss values and citizenship. We see the dentist twice a year and the doctor for regular check ups. We discuss stranger safety. Chores are a must. School work is priority – even in the summer.

***Record playing sappy music scratches to a halt***

Let’s get real…I am a great mom, relatively.  While all the above statements are true, let me let you in on some more truths.

We rush in the morning to get to school on time. They probably watch too much TV.  The kitchen isn’t always clean. I don’t read to them for 30 minutes every night. Sometimes I just want to be left alone. They brush their teeth at least once a day, but definitely not after every meal. There is always laundry to be done. We don’t always eat together. I am ready for summer break to be over. Sometimes dinner comes out of a box. Their room is a mess and I am tired of fighting about it. I have made the mad dash to Wal-Mart to get supplies for a school project that is due the next day.

Why tell you all this? Because I believe I am not alone. I believe that there are a ton of mommies – probably most – out there who feel overwhelmed and under performed most of the time.  I believe that these moms (dads too?) carry around heavy guilt that makes the hardest job in the world even harder. I believe that we think we are the only ones dealing with these feelings and ask ourselves why we can’t have it “together” like the super mom who lives down the street (who, by the way, is probably thinking the same thing about you.)

I believe there are far too many of us asking ourselves, “What’s wrong with me?”

The answer – Nothing, except being human.

I believe our children deserve the very best we can give them. I don’t think that looks like perfection. I think it looks like unconditional love. Kids don’t care so much about “stuff” when they feel protected and cared for. Don’t believe me? Watch a kid’s face light up when they get the one present they wanted most.  Then watch his heartbreak when you won’t play with him. The toy means nothing without the love.

We spend so much time trying to be a perfect mom to the world and then feel like a failure when we can’t pull it off. Wouldn’t that time and energy be better spent on something you can do – like being the perfect mom to your kid?

My Beautiful Chaos

Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.
Henry AdamsThe Education of Henry Adams

I have been asked about my tagline “Beautiful Chaos.”  Where it comes from and what it means.  It was born during a conversation with a girlfriend and is the perfect definition of my wonderful life. And I love explaining it and refuse to apologize for it.

I look down at my daily planner, cross check it with the one on my desk, then make sure I haven’t missed something on my Outlook. First thing that crosses my mind as the coffee touches my lips – “yeah, right.”

Some may think it is a defeatist attitude to start the day knowing that 10% of your “to do list” will still be left to do tomorrow. Not me. I am a busy woman with lots of priorities. I will get to them all – eventually. I will leave the “performance guilt” for somebody else.

About Me

My father’s people call me Hapa Haoli. The words are Hawaiian; Hapa, meaning half, and Haoli meaning, white or mainlander. My mother is a beautiful Georgia Peach with the hair and freckles of the Irish and my dad is Hawaiian with salt water in his veins and sand in his hair. Both cultures are so rich with family tradition. So, you could say that I am a southern transplanted Hawaiian with a strong sense of family.

I am a southerner by heart, by speech, and by eats. There is nothing about the south I don’t like. From cornbread to grits and from hundred degree weather to 100 percent humidity. I have a drawl, I say ya’ll and a cook with so much ham hock and butter my vegetables are unhealthy. I say ma’am and sir and I can tell you, with pretty good accuracy, where yonder is. I love family reunions, weddings at the bride’s Grandma’s house, and azaleas in the springtime. I love the way southern people don’t move to fast, the way we take the time to say hello and smile. The way we take things easy – we really have no choice – most of the time it is too hot to do anything fast. Most of the colleges aren’t as big, but the football is great. Most of the doctor’s aren’t as rich, but he knows my history without my chart. My history, my momma’s, my two sisters my aunt, our neighbor – you get the point. I wouldn’t give up my Southern roots for all the tea in China – because we drink ours sweet and I don’t think they do.

I am Hawaiian by birth. My father comes from a family whose tree is planted firmly in the sands that are Hawaii. My father makes it a point to impress upon us the importance of the Hawaiian blood. Its traditions are rich and family important. I don’t have any Hawaiian friends. They are all family. They are not Mr. and Mrs. They are Auntie and Uncle.

In Hawaii, you are of the land or you are a visitor. There is no place in a Hawaiian’s heart for disrespect of the islands. The land is sacred. It is a part of the history of the people and as such has embedded upon its children the love and respect due to an honored parent. My father has done his best to keep traditions alive. It has been hard since we live so far away, but he has done well. My sisters and I can cook some of the more common dishes such as luau luau and lomi salmon, and we all dance the hula. The distance between the place I was born and the place I was raised is great, but they are both home.

My family is my rock. I believe that even without oxygen, my family could sustain me. The people in my tree define who I am. My mother has given me the courage to withstand all things. She has taught me the meaning of integrity and perseverance. She showed me how wisdom was important and that taking a stand was cool. She gave me the permission to open my mouth in protest as long as I remember that everyone deserves respect. My father gave me the backbone to follow through. He taught me that who you are is shown more by what you do than what you say, who you know or what you have. Together they showed me that nothing is more important than waking up every morning knowing you were loved unconditionally. I now have my own children to love unconditionally.

My two oldest girls are like sun up and sun down – both beautiful and glorious yet on completely opposite ends of the earth. My littles are not quite so little anymore.  11 months apart in age, they could have been born on different planets. Watching these creatures go from my womb to the world has taught me more about following the journey of life than any other thing I could imagine. The past year has blessed me with bonus babies. A stunning, dramatic girl, and a full of life, big hearted boy. If you had told me a mother could love babies not from her body as much as she did those that do, I may have thought that a huge feat. Not anymore. The joy these six children bring to my life is to much for words. They feed me life. As much as parents are supposed to teach their children, they have taught me more. They have showed me that most answers are simple and most hurts can be cured by a hug and an ice cream. I now know that folded clothes, if left unattended for a second, will need to be folded again and dirt has radar. I have also learned that their best chance of becoming wonderful adults involves being around wonderful adults. In this they have shown me the kind of person I strive to be.

The lover of my soul, the other half created just for me, has given me a part in a love story that would rival any in the history of love stories. I had long given up on the idea that a love like this was in the cards for me. I have rarely been this wrong. In his arms I have learned the true meaning of strength, forgiveness, honesty, partnership, selflessness, and forever.

I have the best friends. They are like a bouquet of flowers – each different and colorful and bringing incredible life into my world. I love them dearly. They are more than friends, they are fellow journeyers. They walk with me down my life’s path and allow me to experience theirs.

My personality evolves everyday. With each new experience my repertoire changes. I grow and learn and increase myself. But who I am, where I am from and the things I hold important are as certain as Georgia Heat, Hawaiian Surf and the roots that have been nurtured by each.

Updated 12/10/2017