general, life

A bit of open-minded thinking never hurt anyone

Today it might seem I am rambling more than usual.

Can I be honest for a minute?

I know everyone is “entitled” to it, but truthfully; very few things in life aggravate me more than another person’s one sided, the world owes me, my way or the highway, black and white opinions. Particularly when it feels personally directed.

You DON’T know me.

You know the pieces I have shared, the parts I have allowed you to see, and the opinions you have derived from those. We all curate parts of ourselves for public viewing. You don’t know about the events that I have dealt with, the choices that shaped me into the person I am today, or how I got here.

You don’t know that if I had taken the easy road and followed that chapter in the psychology textbook, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.j_murphyquote

I chose the opposite path. The harder path. The road less traveled. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it. I am a relatively private person and I have never really been one to be railroaded. I was often referred to as headstrong, independent, obstinate, strong willed, or stubborn.

I spent my teens, twenties and most of my thirties dodging opinions and criticism, feeling the need to prove myself…Proving I could fit in and choosing a lot of the wrong people to befriend when I was young. (Do you ever really fit in as a tween or teenager anyway?) Protecting myself in the only ways I knew how, because there was nobody to protect me. Proving that I didn’t need anyone and letting go of several good people that I should have valued more. Proving that I could make peace with my childhood. Refusing to self-destruct. Proving I was worthy of love. Proving that being independent doesn’t mean I’m a bitch. Proving I wasn’t “just another pretty face”. Proving I wouldn’t live my life angry. Proving that I could be a young mom, a wife, and do them both well. Proving I would not allow alcohol or drugs to consume me, the way they had consumed several people in my life. (Honest and very humble horn toot: I have bad genetics with regard to drugs and alcohol, so I never took the risk. I have never tried drugs and with the exception of a margarita on my 21st birthday, and a few sips of champagne at our wedding, I stopped drinking at 18.) Proving that I could learn how not to repeat past mistakes.

Proving I am a good person with good intentions.

I do not expect anyone to abandon their personal convictions, but I value open-minded thinking and empathy. So while I respect the idea that we are all entitled to an opinion, if you are only interested in your own, I ask that you kindly stop talking. Listen. Listen and try to hear.

Bill Bullard said, “Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.”

That passage speaks to me in a way no other has. Ever.

What you discuss within your personal space is your prerogative. Outside of those walls, the world isn’t black and white. There are circumstances you know nothing about, things that have happened and are still happening to the people around you. e_rooseveltquoteShaping those people. Your own circumstances and choices have shaped you. Shape has a different meaning than define.

You might consider looking it up.

Who are we to make another person feel as though they aren’t enough, based on opinions derived from what we see on the outside.

We need to understand that our opinions are the product of our personal experiences. There is no personal growth when we hold on to our opinions and believe them to be the only possible truth.

There will be times when our personal experiences are the truth, but we must make the conscious choice to try to understand this world from other people’s perspectives. To be open to knowledge and growth. If we do not open ourselves to knowledge and #empathy, we risk ignorance, and sadly ignorance just breeds more ignorance.

Forward movement is one of my personal themes for 2017. Part of my forward movement is continuing to acknowledge that I no longer allow space for anyone who makes me feel as though I am not enough. I love to see people succeed. When I give, I don’t keep score. I am a fan of quiet contemplation. If I say that I envy you, stop and take a moment to listen. I promise you it’s not in the way you might think.

Envy:  verb (used with object), envied, envying. To regard (a person or thing without malice) with envy: He envies you for your hard-earned success. I envy your writing ability.

Do not make the mistake of thinking I envy who YOU are, or your material possessions. I envy the ease in which you make decisions, or your ability to consistently live with a carefree nature. I will not purposely place myself in anybody’s crosshairs, but I will advocate for myself loudly when forced. I have learned to speak my personal truths gently, because I know what it’s like to be misunderstood, or not to be heard at all. If my attempts to be genuine aren’t taken at face value, I’m not malevolent or angry, I just change the amount of space I allow that person to occupy in my life.

I know who I am. I have worked long and hard to become the person I am today and today is what matters. Happily, I am still evolving.

-Kim

life, motherhood

Parenting adults: is it the high road or the low road?

Answer: it’s both and it can be beautiful and bumpy, so buckle up!roughroad1

If you had asked me a few years back whether I thought parenting would be harder when our girls were young adults, I would have chuckled and said no. Then I might have wondered why you were asking…

One of my biggest parenting challenges has been to sit back and watch as our daughters navigate the harder life lessons that come along with #adulting. I labored through those years under the notion, that once they reached adulthood, all the lessons I taught would have a trickle down effect. I know that does actually happen. It’s just not happening all at once.

Like every other parenting stage, much of it has been really rewarding, but truthfully, there are times when it feels like I’m herding cats.

Where is the owner’s manual, or at the very least, that big red “easy” button, when you need it?

My job is to teach. To protect them while also allowing (age appropriate and non-life threatening) mistakes. There is no definitive rule on how to do this. It’s not always as simple as it sounds.

Maybe dodgeball is a better comparison? Remember that movie with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller? “Just remember the five D’s of dodgeball: Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…dodge.” Parenting adult children is like a dodgeball game. Except you don’t always feel like you’re dodging. The lines are blurred. It’s harder to get out of the way, and just like in the movie, you often take one to the gut, the head, or both.

It starts when our children are small and we are new to the parenting game. Our first inclination is to “fix” whatever is wrong. They cry; we pick them up. We kiss all the boo-boo’s big and small; even the ones we know we don’t need to. Maybe we want to give them all the things we didn’t have as a child, or we feel some guilt when we go to work and try to compensate for that. Maybe they sleep in our bed when we really don’t want them to, or we’re tired, so we let it slide when they misbehave.

I don’t believe you can ever love your babies too much, it’s simply not possible, but as they get older, we have to learn to separate the boo-boo’s. Hovering like a helicopter to keep them from experiencing pain, or spoiling them just because you can, doesn’t benefit you, your people, or anyone who has to be around them for an extended period of time.

Fred is running by the pool after you have asked him not to. SallyJane is out of bed for the umpteenth time, for no apparent reason, and now wants to sleep in your bed. Every child and every household is different. How do you manage it?

Me? I was a young mom “with everything to prove”. There were many things I was steadfast on. Sleeping in our bed wasn’t a regular thing at our house. I use this example because I have been asked this question dozens of times over the years. They could sleep with us if they were sick. They could fall asleep with us when they needed the extra cuddles. That was it. I always felt our kids needed positive separation from us and that quiet time with my husband was very valuable to me. We all know that having one child in your bed is like having a whole herd of them in there! Who could possibly be well rested after dangling precariously from exactly 1.64 inches of a mattress all night? While they might only be three feet tall, those little stinkers spread out, into all four corners of the bed, like a giant octopus. Their head is angelically placed on the pillow, but their knees and feet are somehow wedged in your sternum and kicking the small of your back simultaneously!

Uhhhh, no thanks.

“Please don’t run by the pool Fred. It’s not safe. You could slip and fall.” Suddenly, there is howling and skinned body parts. I clean up the knee, or elbow, or chin (or all three!) and Fred is poolside, marinating in sunscreen and consequences.

That said, I certainly doled out more than my share of kisses for those questionable boo-boo’s. The key? Find the balance between their currency and your own and choose wisely.

You’re not always going to get it right. Sometimes we’re just too overwhelmed, or too damn tired to dodge the ball! I’ve said before that parenting is about using the tools you have to put your best foot forward 99% of the time. If you missed that post, you can read it here. The remaining 1% is reserved for the days when that last nerve is on the brink of nuclear detonation. It’s OK, we all have them.

mary_poppinsAs hard as it is to separate, I am learning that I cannot allow parental guilt to be a factor, at any stage. We are allowed to make, and then reconcile, mistakes! It’s expected really. Life can wear out even the most persistent “Mary Poppins”, and I guarantee that the spoonful of sugar she sings about won’t save you!

Besides, Mary was never a parent, remember? She just flew in, solved the household problems of the moment, and then drifted away on the breeze.

Whatevs Mary.

I can tell you the scenarios only become more challenging as kids get older, but I have discovered the basic principles are the same.

So how do you know when to dodge? The truth? Sometimes you don’t; sometimes the answer is really easy, whether you want to see it or not; and sometimes the answer is to draw a line in the sand and not step over it.

f2fbc252bd8ca74e10e043ac02134355Staying connected: Adult children are often focused on themselves. Do your best to keep your lines of communication open. You want to know everything that is going on in their lives, but you don’t want to know everything. Parental guidance should begin to take a back seat to the opinions they are forming on their own, but they continue to need the emotional and moral compass provided by parents.

Finding the balance: This has been one of the most difficult for me, but stepping back is vital to their success as adults. Sometimes they take the scenic route. You won’t always agree with their choices, which may be vastly different from yours. Express your feelings without guilt. Let your child know that, even when you don’t agree, you accept that their opinions and choices might differ from your own.

8a6f11e53fe5eb41cc197a374f64465bTrusting your choices: Remember that the word NO is a complete sentence. Successful parenting includes setting standards for behavior while fostering love and mutual respect. Taking a hands-off approach, in order to avoid conflict, will leave children without clarity regarding what is expected of them. This can breed a “victim” mentality and a child who cannot see fault in their actions. That behavior isn’t beneficial to anyone.

Setting expectations: Young adults need to learn to take responsibility for themselves. Allow them make their own decisions and live with the consequences. This is often easier said than done.

Setting limits: It’s easy for parental guilt to jump in the driver’s seat. No matter what mistakes have been made in the past, if you have done your best to reconcile those mistakes, move forward. You are not a doormat. Boundaries should move to the forefront. No more blurred lines. Be clear and fair. Don’t be arbitrary in setting limits. Explain your reasons. They may not understand all of it right away and that’s OK. In the long run, the relationship between you and your child will benefit.

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I feel like I have taken more shots to the gut in the last two months than ever before, but I am determined to turn good people out into the world. What is most important to me is that our daughters continue to develop into strong and independent women. Women who among other things; love themselves and their families, work hard, surround themselves with a circle of wonderful people, and understand the importance of paying it forward and giving back to their community.

I’m still learning. Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge.

-Kim

 

life

The difference between a father and a dad…

They say you either gravitate in the direction of a partner who is very much like your father, or you choose someone who is the complete opposite.

I grew up with a semi-absent father and when I was young, I had no idea what kind of impact that would have on my life choices.

When I was old enough to understand, I didn’t walk, I ran, as fast as I could, in the opposite direction.

Looking back, I know now, that my father did the best he could with a very limited set of tools. I have made peace with the past and I wish him peace as well.

When I first met my husband, we were teenagers. There was something about him. He was intelligent, funny, devastatingly handsome, outgoing and just a little shy (it was his friend, not him, who came back to ask for my phone number).

His smile still gives me butterflies and I’m not exaggerating!

We were young when our first daughter arrived. When you have children with someone, you hope they will be a good father. I didn’t have to hope. I already knew. It was something deep within my soul. I can’t explain it.

He took on fatherhood with every ounce of himself. TT was his little sidekick. In the beginning, we worked opposite schedules so that we could be home with her. I started work at 6AM and he worked a swing shift. We were like ships in the night, but agreed we wanted to do what was best for our baby girl. When Fred came along to complete our family, his love spilled over in buckets.

My husband is a dad.

He loves and lives for our family. He is brilliant and funny and ambitious and stubborn and supportive and tender. I can close my eyes and vividly picture our future. I can tell you exactly what he looks like when we are in our 90’s. His work ethic is inspiring. He ducks life’s monkey wrenches like a ninja; he can figure it out, fix it, make it happen, and presses forward through everything. He is the voice of reason when PMS takes over our house. He hugs and protects like a bear, but you can still breathe. He is witty and his laughter is contagious. He is generous with his time. He hates the limelight and will brush it off as though he’s no big deal, but trust me when I say, HE IS EVERY BIT A BIG DEAL! I am regularly in awe of him. #soluckytohaveyou

So to my husband, with all my heart: Thank you for being the best dad to our girls, my best friend, everything I knew I needed in my life, and so many things I only hoped for.

I love you. Happy Father’s Day!

-Kim

 

 

 

 

life

I work hard, but I’m not ambitious

Happy Friday! Whew. It’s been a whirlwind since finals.

I spent last week in Texas, with our youngest daughter, to surprise her best friend for graduation and then celebrated my birthday yesterday.

I’m 44.

My husband asked me if I woke up feeling any different. Nope. I looked in the mirror; no new wrinkles or age spots, so that was a relief. Still, it’s funny how some birthdays sneak up on you.

It’s not a monumental number or anything. It’s just 44, but it comes with the acknowledgement that 50 really is just around the bend, and frankly, I have a lot of things on my personal “before I’m 50” to-do list!

I have been tossing around what the future looks like for awhile now. Dangling ideas in front of myself and allowing each one to hang in the air for a bit. I kept wondering why it’s so difficult for me to pinpoint. I’m the donkey with the carrot on the stick, but the carrot isn’t working its magic. Mostly because I’m stubborn and (beyond carrot cake) I’m not a huge fan of carrots.

Then, while visiting Texas last week, my friend Kim made a comment about working hard vs. being ambitious. Our husbands are both very ambitious people. Their brains are always working on the next great idea.

On our flight home, I realized it was how I had been trying to explain who I am for years.

I work hard, but I’m not ambitious. Does that make sense?

Ambition is one of the qualities I admire most in my husband. I also think one of the reasons our relationship thrives stems from the balance we bring each other. It’s not that I don’t have hopes and dreams. I definitely do! There are many things I want to accomplish and experience during the remainder of my (our) life, but I don’t aspire to be Bill Gates or Oprah.

Maybe that’s why I have only ever been able to clearly picture myself as a mom and not the CEO of a major corporation. I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.

Maybe that’s why I can’t always understand my husband’s point of view when it comes to taking time off, or saving instead of splurging. (He’s really good at saving. In fact, he’s too good sometimes.) I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.

I think it’s ok to be someone who is willing to work hard, but doesn’t necessarily feel the pull to work 80 hours a week and climb the corporate ladder. There are plenty of people who want the corner office with a view. It’s just not me. I’m “too old” for that now.

I want to be successful in my own right, doing something that allows my husband to take some well deserved time off. I want a career that brings me joy 90% of the time. I want to help reach our life goals, while still having some flexibility to enjoy time with my husband, daughters, and eventually, our grandbabies.

I want to find the balance. Is that too much to ask?

Around this time last year, I set out to reach some goals. My theme was “You can do this”. I am well on my way, so I decided that this year the theme will reflect how I feel in this moment.

whynot“Well why the hell not” seemed the most appropriate.

I plan to figure out my career path and take some of the financial pressure off my other half. I want do more things that scare me. I want to travel to places I haven’t seen. I want to continue learning. I plan to spend more quiet time and go on more adventures with my husband.

I want to make balance a priority.

And I WILL have it all.

Here’s to 44!

 

-Kim

life

A Costco bag of tortilla chips: My life in a nutshell…

The gigantic $3 bag of Costco tortilla chips has been sitting on the floor, in the corner of our kitchen for three weeks. If you have a Costco card, you know which bag I’m talking about. THREE WEEKS! Why you ask? Why, indeed? For starters, it doesn’t have a home and nobody is interested in eating them. In spite of my protests, my other half insisted the chips were a necessity during one of our weekend dates to Costco. That said, I have walked right past that damn $3 bag of chips, dozens of times, pretending not to notice it. Hmmmm…What chips?

tortillachips
Chips? What chips?

I adore my husband and I’m not kidding when I say this is exactly why he isn’t “allowed” (his rule) to have a cart, when headed out on a trip to Costco, alone! It had to be this way. We just don’t have the room for 48 different types of frozen snacks. The box of individual servings of hash browns that just (Ew!) need you to add water. The case of fizzy water he wants to try. A 12 pound package of hamburger. The vat of Que Bueno nacho cheese, and (unless you operate a snack bar) who needs a 26 pound bucket of red vines anyway!? I’m exaggerating of course, but not much.

I digress…

We all harbor something. When I was young, we lived in an older neighborhood of mostly turn of the century homes. Our house was always in process, construction cluttered, and unfinished – not unlike the famed Winchester Mystery House, only without the rogue spirits, hidden passage ways, and other oddities; and our car (a 1970 Pontiac Tempest) was always breaking down.

In this season, many parts of my life feel cluttered. Unfinished. Out of order. Under construction. Clutter gives me a certain level of anxiety. In fact, while we are on the subject, unfinished home renovations and unreliable cars are right up there too. Call them “leftovers” from my childhood.

I am a creative brain, so I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. It’s not always a trait that I appreciate, but it’s part of who I am. In spite of all the growth I have experienced in the past year, I have not stopped to do a full review of my “life list”. Maybe I didn’t want to until now. There it is, procrastination.

The truth is, the more you have to manage, the more clutter you end up having, and you can unwittingly carry it from place to place. I suppose you have to put it all somewhere, right?  So while I am very aware that the clutter makes me anxious, it’s all I can see! End of semester paper piles. Stacks of clothes that don’t fit in the dresser. Kid piles. Piles in the laundry room. Piles on the nightstand (mine and his). Bags of tortilla chips on the kitchen floor. There are four pairs of shoes scattered around the family room right now, and none of them belong to me! What is happening here?

All those physical piles eventually become mental weight. Do you ever feel like that? Weighed down by mental clutter? What do you do to start cleaning it up? Lately, I simply shuffle all the clutter from one task to another and one thought to another.

Procrastination is a fine line and I’m teetering on the edge! One more pile might push me over, and there I would be, lamely dangling by one foot, like a cartoon character in a booby trap, nose to nose with everything on my life list that I’m trying to ignore.

This is the culmination of too many half completed to-do lists. Lists that I just can’t seem to sweep into one tidy pile. Why is that? I know many people feel this way in different phases of their life. We started a home renovation, several years ago, that we can’t seem to finish. The garage needs to be cleaned out (heaven forbid we throw away that one sliver of sheetrock, or scrap of plywood we MIGHT need). I have cabinets and closets that need to be emptied, projects that need to be completed, and life decisions that need to be made. Our cars have finally aged to the point where it’s probably time to give them up, but I can’t seem to wrap my brain around the idea of car payments (and I’m pretty sure my other half doesn’t want to), so we keep dumping money into them. It’s all mental clutter.

Holding onto clutter is often a manifestation of other unfinished business. It’s never really about the piles, it’s about why all that “stuff” is there in the first place. So I will begin by asking; what is keeping me from doing or deciding? I need some answers people!

I am a glass half-full kind of girl, who has the procrastination gene, so I already know there’s really only one solution. DIVE IN! The first order of business? I’m going to throw away those damned chips! Then I’m headed into the garage to yell “PLOT TWIST” at the top of my lungs, sweep all those to-do lists into one giant (forget tidy!) pile, and wait for the dumpster to be dropped off, so I can move forward!

Do you have your own #lifelist that needs so be pared down too? Just do it! I’ll be here to cheer you on!

-Kim

 

general, Uncategorized

Shameless self promotion…

Did you see my YouTube videos yet? Did you want to? As I mentioned in my previous post, public speaking is not my thing. In fact, it scares the hell out of me! I am taking a great social media class this semester. We’re learning about every aspect of social media possible, including (GASP!) using YouTube. If you want to see the videos, you can check them out here and here. It really is ironic that the post I had planned for this week was about overcoming fear. Lol.

I’m more the kind of gal who would rather promote myself via Pinterest boards. If you’re interested, you can see those here. I recently added some great dessert recipe pins and there will be a board for my new Friday post series.

Thanks for following along! I’m so glad you’re all here! Have a great week!

-Kim

life

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

There is a German proverb that says “fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

I’ve said it before, we all have fears. Here is a list of the ten most common fears. Maybe you identify with a few of them too?

  1. Flying
  2. Public Speaking
  3. Heights
  4. The Dark
  5. Intimacy
  6. Death
  7. Failure
  8. Rejection
  9. Spiders
  10. Commitment

I don’t like public speaking, or spiders, at all! The gigantic potato bugs that I find floating in our pool freak me out too, but they didn’t make the list. (Admittedly, some fears are a bigger deal than others. Lol.) I know we’re not talking nail polish colors, or picking a new sofa here.

All joking aside; #fear often keeps people from reaching their full potential. Has this ever happened to you? In the last few years, fear of the unknown has kept me from taking needed steps forward in my life. It’s interesting to me that I do not consider myself a fearful person by nature. I embrace change and new experiences. I’ll try almost anything once, but there’s a difference.

So why do I hold myself back?

Variables. I can’t control the unknown variables involved with the big changes, and at this point in my life, time is a very valuable commodity to me. My career goals are a good example. Right now, I don’t have any. Why? In part, because uncertainty keeps me from diving into the water. I have a basic vision of what I want to accomplish, but I’m not sure how I want to get from point A to point B, and I don’t like the idea of trying and “failing” now that I am approaching mid-life. It’s a cyclical fear. I know I don’t need to have all the answers right away, but I don’t feel like I have time to waste. I want to dive in and love what I am doing until I can no longer do it, but I won’t know what that is until I dip my toes in the pool. In turn, I am sitting on the edge, wasting the time that is so valuable to me.

At the moment, my needs are pretty simple. I want to do something that is as fulfilling as raising my children was. (Frankly, I think I have earned that opportunity.) I also want to contribute financially to my household and realizing the goals my husband and I have for our future. I have taken the first step forward and returned to school, but I’ve yet to unlock the next door. It would appear that, besides #2 (public speaking) and #9 (spiders), I most directly relate to #7 (failure). If you haven’t read my previous post about my interests (read it here).

So how do I break the cycle? It’s not easy to let go of fear, especially our fear of the unknown. It takes practice. Often we manifest this fear because what is known to us is our safety net. Our brains create scenarios about all that can go wrong with the unknown. Kick off those cement shoes! Will there be setbacks? Maybe. Focusing on what “might” happen is not worth your energy. The truth is there is always another option. It might take some brainstorming to come up with solutions, but very rarely are you without choices.

Change is good and knowledge is power. Ask yourself what you’re really afraid of and then take the time to process the information. When you have a clear picture of your fears, it makes them easier to identify when they begin to infiltrate your thinking. Take a deep breath and LET THEM GO! You are in control of the outcome! Think about the positives. Not every step has to be dramatic, just keep moving forward. Focus on the big picture and the good that will come from making the changes you envision.

Do you need to make a change in your life? It was Sheryl Sandberg who said “So please ask yourself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.”

So? What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?

-Kim