1.29.2015

Boundaries

My heart broke a little this morning, or it wanted to break just a little this morning. I almost caved to my instinct to stop the heart breaking, but I held firm instead. And you know what happened? My heart grew instead. I work from home these days, and I knew that this morning I had a call that I needed to be on and ready to actively participate on by 8. I didn't want to be on mute and in the background getting The Girl ready to leave the house and then off to daycare where she catches the bus. After my workout I woke her, telling her I was going to get in the shower, that I had an early call, and that she needed to be up and ready if she wanted a ride to daycare (it is 2 blocks away). She said almost nothing in response, so I was not surprised when after my shower she was still in bed showing no signs of waking or moving. I told her again, that I had a call, and that when I was dressed/ready we would be leaving or that she could walk. After I was ready for the day, she was of course, still sleeping. I told her I would make her lunch, but that if she wasn't ready in 10 minutes I wouldn't be able to drive her.

I guess you can all see where this is going...at 8 I got on my call. The Girl was still in bed. I heard her moving around upstairs at a little past 8, and at 8:10 or so she came into the office with her sad face and asked me for a ride. I pointed to the phone, and told her I couldn't (I had to mute). She slammed the door and stormed off. Then she came back again and tried the same thing to no avail. After a couple of minutes she gave up and walked down to daycare. I was able to actively participate on my call without muting (mostly) and I felt strong because of it.

My point in sharing this story is not to embarrass my daughter. It came to me a few days ago - with the help of T showing me that I needed to get this, that we don't have firm enough boundaries with our kids - or maybe just I don't have firm enough boundaries with them. This hasn't always been the case, but it has been recently. I read a few books in the past year that I think set me on a path where I thought we didn't need boundaries and consequences (though to be fair this was absolutely not in either of the books). I'd been devoting a lot of my time and energy towards helping both of my kids in letting themselves feel their emotions when they happen rather than stuff them and hide them and fear them as I learned to do as a child. I know that this has been important work, and it is by no means done, but in addition to that work my kids need to know that I have boundaries. Both kids to some degree have been testing boundaries lately, nothing disastrous really, but in hindsight I can see that my kids were pushing back to see where the actual boundary was. I've had scenes like the one with The Girl this morning many times before, and I have still driven her when she comes down with a sad face, and then muted myself on the call. So why would she respect my time limit for getting a ride to daycare? She didn't think it was a real boundary, and she knew she could negotiate with me and get her ride.

I still don't love the incident this morning, the nurturing mom in me wanted to drive her. I knew that the indulgence of me driving her today wasn't going to do her any good tomorrow though. Ultimately it wouldn't do her any good as she becomes an adult either. I hope that she is able to be strong enough to set boundaries for herself, and stick to them. There are so many times in life when we are asked to trample our own boundaries, and that is where problems arise. The only way she will become an adult who can set and stick to her own boundaries is by having parents who model that skill for her as she is growing up.


Another Brené Brown quote to learn from

The same idea holds true for my son. Just yesterday he confided in me that some kids at school took his pencil, a pen, and a highlighter from his pencil case under the guise of "being funny." It wasn't funny though, and he was too shy, and too afraid to speak up for himself. Instead he went the rest of the day with no pencil because he only had one with him at school that day. I think in his case the issue is trickier than needing firm boundaries, but it is certainly an aspect of what happened. A year ago I would have talked to his teacher about it on his behalf, but he doesn't want his Mom involved now that he is in middle school. He and I will talk about it more. I think he understands that those kids stole from him, and the fact that he doesn't want to say anything to them or a teacher about it because he is afraid one of them will beat him up - well that is bullying. As much as I want to swoop in and rescue him, I can see that what he really needs is for his Mom to be there to coach him through it - and to listen to how he feels about it. He may not decide to stand up for himself in this particular case, but hopefully over time he will realize that he has that power inside himself. I want him to know that he is he worthy of boundaries.

The hardest thing about parenting seems to be that we can't give our kids anything we don't already have for ourselves. If I don't respect my own boundaries my kids won't be able to do that for themselves either - unless they find themselves a good deal of therapy as adults that is. As much as I want my kids to be able to learn from what I say, they will only learn by watching what I do. Recognizing that power - that obligation - forces us to grow up.




1.26.2015

Bridges

I love bridges, or more specifically I love pictures of bridges. I was searching for a few photos to fill a new collage frame we put up, and I realized just how many bridge photos I've collected over the past few years. My favorites from this bunch were all taken with my iPhone while running. A small sample:
Mill City Ruins - Minneapolis, MN

Bridge over Mission Bay - San Diego, CA

Bridge over Mission Bay - San Diego, CA
Bridge over the Chattahoochee - Columbus, GA

Bridge over the River Ouse - York England
Another bridge over the Chattahoochee - Columbus, GA
Bridge over Pacific Ocean Inlet - San Diego, CA

1.25.2015

Tempted to grow

This week was strange. The kids and I had Monday off so it was a short work week for me. It was made even shorter by a quick work trip to Toronto Tuesday/Wednesday. Obviously the week wasn't actually shorter, but working while traveling doesn't feel quite the same as working from home does. While in Toronto some work news surfaced that at least temporarily rocked my world. The person who recruited me into my current role is no longer there. I won't say more than that, but it was most definitely a shock. My first reaction was to speculate about how this change would affect my work. I think it will affect me, but it is too soon to know exactly how that will be. I've decided that my best plan for the moment is to continue my current efforts until my work is no longer needed there. There are several possibilities for me there, but I don't think my future projections will help me cope with today if I dwell on them. The reality is that there is very little I can do to influence my future there if I don't focus on the job I currently have.

I started reading a new (to me) book this week called "Seat of the Soul," by Gary Zukav. Oprah mentions this book in her Super Soul Sunday shows fairly often, and I watched an older re-aired Master Class on OWN that was about Oprah herself where she mentioned it again. I finally gave in and bought the book to read for myself. My first observation is that I am probably not completely ready to read this book. It is remarkably hard to follow as he circles around the concept of our soul and our personality and how the two work together but also apart. I feel as though there is truth in his words, but I need to read them more slowly to allow myself to fully absorb the meaning. Or perhaps I will finish the book, but then come back and read it again at another time. Either way, there are a few tidbits that I've taken from the book already.

The first tidbit is that temptation is your soul's way of allowing you to test yourself without involving others. Temptation gives us an opportunity to grow stronger. I know that when I resolve daily to eat less junk food, to eat more consciously, and not eat to numb my feelings I am always tempted to throw that away. I had seen temptation as weakness, but the book shifted my perspective about it. If temptation is actually strength what does that mean for me? I should expect temptation, and I should be happy for it. When I resolve that I am going to yell less, my kids do things that make me want to yell even more - and again I felt that I was weak in not being able to respond more constructively. Now I see that every opportunity where I would normally comfort eat, or yell to try to solve a conflict with my kids is an opportunity for me to grow - for my personality to better align with my soul if you will. I recognize that this is out there, so it isn't as though I am suggesting that all of you go read this book or believe the same things I do about the messages. For me though, that may have been the lesson I needed to learn this week.

I think back to the person I was just a couple of years ago, and that person would not have been ready to read that temptation was a good thing. She would not have been willing to move beyond the "why me" aspect of a big job change so quickly either. I know I still have a long journey of growth ahead of me, but it is good to recognize how far I've come. As I go forward into a new week I am choosing to be grateful for any and all temptations that try to take me off of my resolved path. I will know that it is my soul's work (or God's work if you are so inclined) to help me grow and make me stronger against those temptations when they continue to arise.

Lake Ontario Sunrise

1.18.2015

The second post

The second post back after a long break from blogging seems to be the hardest for me. I have made a few returns to blogging, but then couldn't come up with a follow-up. It was as if I had said what I wanted to say, and could then step away again. Maybe that is all I need from a blog - an outlet when I occasionally want one, but otherwise a static, boring page. I guess I'll find out as I go along, but it felt good to write 'for me' again, and I want to remind myself of that feeling at least a few more times before I hide back in the corner in silence.

This week I traveled to San Diego for work. I think I have been in San Diego 10 or so times in my life, and for some reason I feel drawn to the city. The first time I was there I was 8 years old and my parents took my brother and me to the San Diego Zoo. I don't remember that trip at all, other than vague images of me wearing my Mickey Mouse Ears I'd just gotten at Disneyland and of it raining in San Diego. I also spent a week in San Diego as a teenager, where a church group I was with stayed at a college campus and I did my best to ignore the prosthelytizing while enjoying the socializing and the ocean. On that trip my distinct memory is of swimming in the ocean and being helped to shore by a lifeguard because I had been caught in a rip current. Most of my trips there have been for work though. I assume conference planners are drawn to San Diego because of the predictable weather - generally not too hot, not too cold, and pretty much predictably gorgeous all year round.

When I've found myself in San Diego for work I have always found a way to make it to the ocean or the bay - whether that be a morning run along the bay from one of the bayfront hotels, a run along the beach, or at a minimum eating at a restaurant with a good view of the ocean. This week I had a chance to walk on the beach 3 different times, twice for morning runs, and once at night after dinner at a beachfront restaurant. The beaches I saw this week were mostly uninhabited, which is my favorite sight to see. I can certainly appreciate a good crowded beach, but the peace from a deserted beach is something that touches my soul. The waves crashing to the sand, the vastness of the ocean, and just little old me standing on the shore taking it all in...there is something magical in that. I think when I have a moment like that I am closest to god. I can feel the way we are all connected when I look out at the never-ending ocean. The beauty, the sounds, the experience, it all comes together to remind me that we are all in this together. I am but one tiny speck in the universe, but we are all part of the same life force. Instead of making me feel small and insignificant the ocean makes me feel powerful and free. I get to be part of the same life force that created all of this beauty, and that means I have the same beauty within me.


Torrey Pines State Beach - San Diego, CA

I would love to live closer to the ocean, to be able to see that beauty whenever I want to. There is certainly beauty in my home town, but sometimes it is harder to connect with it when it is covered with snow. Although even snow, and the cold hard months of winter remind me of the power there is in the universe. When I run past the frozen pond that sits at the entrance to our subdivision I always think about the turtles and frogs who lie buried at the bottom - almost completely frozen and in a state of nearly dead - who will come alive again in the spring. In a way the contrast of the easy living ocean, and the nearly dead turtles at the bottom of the pond are a reminder that sometimes life is smooth and easy and at other times you have to work hard to get what you need. Without one I don't think you can adequately appreciate the other.

1.10.2015

Choosing

It has been too long since I've posted here, which clearly goes without saying. I recently decided that I missed having blogging as an outlet. I had to get an SMS to my phone to reset my password to post here - which is somewhat weird considering that meant that I didn't know the password for my primary personal email address that I use every single day (mostly to collect tons of spam and marketing emails - what would I do without a daily email from DSW, White House Black Market, and Zulily?). I think it is somewhat fitting that 2.5 years ago I wrote my last post, and it is all still so true. I think then I was in the fake it until you make it stage of giving myself that message. I think I am closer to living it now - or maybe I will continue to fake it a bit more each day until I can't tell the difference between faking it and living it anymore.

I've been in a new job for just over a year now, and the first year was filled with anguish for a variety of reasons. I had to learn a new (complicated) company culture, and find a way to navigate within it while working remotely from home. When the opportunity for this job first came to me from a certain persistent former manager, I didn't think I was up to the task. I honestly didn't see in myself what he saw in me, and I felt as though I would be found to be a fraud. At some points during the last year I was convinced that I would only stay for a year, that working remotely from home was just too isolating and that I would go find a safer, easier job somewhere local. However at a dinner with a colleague in England, after a few days of both of us complaining about all of the things that were terrible at our workplace, something shifted in me. I can't remember which of us said it, but we came to a mutual understanding that we were not going to complain anymore. We acknowledged that we were sitting there together brainstorming just how awesome our products could be, and we had to double down to put all of our efforts into making them so. We've held each other to it too, it can be cathartic to complain at times, and we do still vent, but we stop each other before we go down that negative path. That dinner changed me.

Just this week I sat in a long painful meeting discussing progress on a project that I have known in my gut was the wrong project for us to invest in from the start. I listened, I answered questions, and I took away some action items. At the end of the meeting instead of fulfilling my action items I just looked at the notebook page I had written them on. I crossed them out, and wrote "cancel the project" underneath them. I asked myself why I was letting myself work on something I knew to be the wrong way forward. I had excuses of course, I had attempted to convince my manager that this was the wrong project from the start and had failed at doing so. I hadn't tried hard enough though. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you that you are on the wrong path should not be ignored - even if you've been told to ignore that feeling on multiple occasions. I ended the work week yesterday by convincing others that we needed to stop the project. There will be fallout from that decision of course, so there is more to do, but I stood up for what I knew was right and that feels amazing.

I watched Brené Brown's TED Talk about vulnerability and shame and courage at some point last year, which led me to her second TED Talk, and then to read two of her books (The Gifts of Imperfection, and Daring Greatly). It also led me to start watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN. I'd been on a spiritual journey already when these messages came into my life which is why I know I was ready to hear them - but I thank my version of god every day now that they did. I feel awake in a way I never had been before. I put a post-it with one of Brené Brown's quotes on the wall (and then the desk because it isn't sticky enough and kept falling down) in my office so I can see it when I'm working. It says: "You can choose courage or you can choose comfort you cannot have both." When I'm working and tempted to take the comfortable path, the quote kicks me a bit and challenges me to be courageous, to be vulnerable, to shake my perfectionist tendencies that stop me from getting my work out there. My counselor, whom I've seen for various reasons for some long stretches at a couple of different points in my life uses the word comfort a lot too. She says something along the lines of just because it is comfortable doesn't mean you like it, or that it feels good, just that it is what you know. So here is to 2015 where I choose to be courageous more than I did in 2014. Here is to a thousand little decisions every day in which I choose to be brave and find the strong way forward, instead of the well worn path of what I know.



6.04.2012

Remembering to be Awesome


When I was growing up I wasn’t an athlete.  I tried many different sports including soccer, hockey, baseball, and softball.  I was never the best on any team I played on, but I enjoyed being part of a team and trying to get better.  I didn’t find running until I was an adult.  I can still remember doing my own version of a couch to 5K plan by running between bridges on the 9 Mile Creek Trail and then walking again.  Eventually I was running the whole time, not walking at all, and I was hooked.  I can still remember running 4 miles without stopping and without being winded.  That feeling is something I will probably never replicate, but breaking 2 hours in a half marathon two years ago came pretty close (oddly finishing my 2 marathons did not give me anywhere near the same feeling).  Despite the fact that I have two active kids, work full time, and have lots of other responsibilities I can still make the time to push myself to get better.  In the last few miles of that half marathon 2 years ago, I almost let myself give up.  It was getting harder to maintain my goal pace, and I had stopped to walk through a water stop and didn’t want to run again.  I made the decision that I wasn’t going to come *this  close* again and just let it slip me by, so I didn’t.  I sucked it up, and I let myself be awesome.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t come close to winning any sort of age group award in that race, I had earned a mental victory.

I was out running this weekend, and I started to feel self doubt creep in as I took a walk break, doubt that I could be fast again.  Then I realized what I was doing, a common pattern for me, I was giving myself an excuse not to try.  In my own self-preserving way I was giving myself an easy out, doubting enough so that I wouldn’t really try, and therefore wouldn’t fail.  This year I was supposed to put myself into running again (self imposed goal), but I haven’t.  It is much easier to sit on the sidelines and tell yourself that you can’t, than it is to put in the necessary work and give it a real try.  The reality is that I might not break 2 hours again this year, but I certainly won’t even come close if I don’t try.  I know that the self preserving part of me is there for a reason.  It tries to protect me from failure, even though it often causes me to settle for mediocrity.  I’ve made a promise to myself now, a promise that whenever I feel that self-doubt creep in, and that desire to let myself be mediocre because it is easier, I will remember to be awesome. 

I see myself settling for mediocre in other areas of my life too.  At work it can be easier to complain about the things I can’t control, rather than to put everything I have into the things I can control.  That usually leaves me feeling like something is missing, like I am coasting along and not really challenging myself.  I’m also carrying around about 10 pounds more than I want to, and not because I don’t know how to lose that weight.  I settle for good enough in this aspect of my life too.  Losing these 10 pounds would be easy if I would just get out of my own way.  Excelling in my career should be easy too.  I get lots of professional accolades that I dismiss, or explain away because I don’t feel like I have truly earned them.  In many ways, my self-preservation is harming me, and holding me back.   I’m posting this on my long neglected blog, because I want the reminder of what I can do and what I can be.  Will I allow myself to keep settling for good enough, or will I remember the awesome that is inside me?  I plan to strive for the awesome, and learn from my failures along the way.

12.21.2008

An Early Christmas Present

The Boy and The Girl will not stop singing this silly song from a cell phone commercial. It is driving me bonkers, but tonight I decided to record them doing it so I could share it with family and friends.

video