Dear Children of the World, it’s not supposed to be like this.

The world isn’t supposed to turn on itself.

People aren’t  supposed to open fire on large crowds of unassuming people.

None of this is supposed to happen, yet it seems to be the norm these days. There are so many sad things that come from it, but among the saddest? Indifference. People becoming numb to tragedies. Lack of compassion.

It  hurts my heart to think about it as an adult and it hurts worse to know that I am raising children in this world.

I remind myself not to let the bitterness steal my sweetness (thanks, Maya). I remind myself not to let his hatred in my heart. I remind myself that we CAN make the world a  better place by being better than just tolerating each other, by loving each other. I remind myself that I can make a small difference by raising good human beings who are strong, who are compassionate, who care about other people, who look outside their own neighborhood and see the world on a larger scale. I remind myself that small things can create larger tides.

Today I have to remind myself just a little bit harder. Today I have to be thankful that last night I was sleeping in my bed with my toddler and my husband. Today I will remind myself that it isn’t the end of the world that said toddler won’t sleep in her own room. That we all need a little bit of compassion and that snuggling can in fact turn a bad day into a better one. Today I remind myself of so many things, but among them, I remind myself not to forget about the people who cannot hug their loved ones anymore. That had their entire world ripped away from them. I remind myself that people still don’t know if their loved ones are alive, but I know exactly where my people are and they’re all safe. I remind myself that although I take that for granted so much of the time, it is actually the biggest blessing of them all and it is not something to get used to, because in any moment it can be stripped away much like it was for so many families last night.

These tragedies come in all shapes and sizes. I hope we learn from them. I hope we grow. I hope we reach out and I hope we try to comfort other people in this terrible, horrible, no good time. I hope we don’t use this as our frame of reference when we judge the whole world. I hope it doesn’t cause people to live in fear and I hope it helps me teach my kids NOT to be afraid.

I hope it does a lot of things – and all of them good. I hope that everyone affected finds peace in whatever shape or form it might come in and I am praying for all of them.

Stop telling people how to protest

I am not overly political on social media and as such, I am probably part of a widespread problem. If you engage me in an issue, I will gladly have a conversation with you about. I will not call you names. I will merely state the facts as I see them and provide my opinion on the matter. While this sounds all good and dandy, it often results in name calling among other things and I’ve  learned that it is simply not worth getting into an argument about. People have to be willing to understand another side and even possibly, accepting that side and if they’re not, it just goes awry. I pick my battles accordingly.

But seriously, here’s some food for thought.

I work at an insurance company. I have attended some political events. I wear overtly political shirts that say things like “Who needs a glass slipper when you can shatter the glass ceiling” or “Girls just want to have fundamental rights.” I have an opinion on these things and you know what? Nobody is telling me to stop and go back to my day job. Heck, I wear these IN my workplace and you don’t see a single person bat and eye and I have yet to be told that I need to keep that to myself. It’s my small way of taking a stand.

So, knowing this and knowing that we don’t put other people in a box and decide how they express their beliefs, why are people up in arms about a bunch of football players kneeling during the national anthem? This is THEIR way of using their platform to further their cause. People keep telling them to just do their jobs, but I don’t see them saying that to the people that OWN the football teams. That are also high profile but also donate tons and tons of money to political campaigns that they believe in. I don’t see people saying that about the recent KKK rally, which I think most can agree was a disgusting display of racism. All those people have day jobs and nobody is telling them to go back to them, so why?

You don’t get to pick how people peacefully protest. You just don’t. And guess what, I don’t get to tell you how to peacefully protest either. That’s your right. If you want to go to a KKK rally, I will roll my eyes six ways to Tuesday because I think it’s ridiculous, but I am not going to encroach on your freedom to express yourself. I will keep my thoughts to myself and my friends, but I will never try to take that freedom from you and lord knows I don’t believe in that cause.

When you have a privilege (and if you’re sitting here and you’re white, you do), you have a responsibility. These NFL players HAVE privilege. They’re rich. They’re televised. They have an opportunity to speak out against things that they don’t believe in and endorse things that they do. Didn’t y’all just see one of the Seahawks visiting the Seattle Children’s Museum? He’s encouraging donating to that cause. IT IS THE SAME THING. The difference is that you don’t agree with it for whatever reason. I don’t see you getting mad at him that he’s supporting sick kids. I don’t see you trying to take his right away to endorse something he believes in, but when he kneels to take a stand because he’s felt injustices in his life, people try and tell him how he should feel. They try and tell him what he should do. They try and tell him that he should be ashamed. He is not disrespecting the flag. He is not burning it to send a message. He’s not trampling on it. He’s not walking on it. People make bikinis out of the American flag. They make that print in underwear you know? Go talk to them. Be upset. Don’t watch the games. Heck, don’t go to them and maybe now I’ll be able to afford a ticket (thanks for that), but consider how very NOT different this is from many of the other things people are keeping silent about.

That is wrong. That is encroaching on someone’s freedom.

Freedom isn’t free. It comes at a price. There are people in our own country right now that are also paying that price. That are being called things because they’re fighting for freedoms that I as a white woman have always experienced. You don’t get to tell people how they feel. There  may be African American people out there that say they’ve never felt any prejudice and maybe they haven’t, but that doesn’t mean that every other person that is speaking out and saying that they have is wrong. They’re not making this up for attention. Do you realize life is harder for them BECAUSE they’re speaking out. Does anyone actually do anything to make their life harder intentionally? I mean really? You would CHOOSE a life of oppression? I highly, highly doubt it. Think that one through.

Privilege comes in many shapes and sizes. I grew up completely broke. Telling me I had privilege when I was younger, I would’ve laughed at you. It is such a privilege to wonder if there is any food in your fridge at home. I simply didn’t understand. Privilege doesn’t mean you life a life of luxury. It means nothing of the sort, actually. It just means there are things that happen to you every single day that you might not even notice (and probably don’t) because they’ve always happened for you like that. Some of these things are super small, but regardless of how small they are, there are people out there that are not afforded the same “small” privileges. How different the world might be if people took the time to truly understand what that means. You may think this isn’t your circus, but it is. It is mine too. If you want to understand even a little bit, research and learn for yourself. It is not a minority person’s job to educate those of the majority race on what their issues are and why what might be occurring is racist. They’re actually doing you a service by even informing you at all.

Just please, stop telling people how they’re supposed to feel. I am not telling you how to feel. I am telling you to stop discrediting everyone else’s experience just because yours is different. And maybe, read some of the links below.

http://code.ucsd.edu/pcosman/Backpack.pdf

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-crosleycorcoran/explaining-white-privilege-to-a-broke-white-person_b_5269255.html

One Year Down in WA

A few weeks ago we came up on the one year anniversary of our move to Washington.

One whole year spent 1500 miles away from our friends and family.

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. I would be lying if I said the entire year was easy, but it wasn’t for many of the reasons you might initially think.

Being a little pod of three people was hard. Most of our tribe is back in NE and KS (though I have tribe mates all across the United States these days and am lucky for it). Still, we were three in every sense of what that means. We had to rely on each other for everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

When Ryan and I got somewhat backed up or had a rush of orders with our online business, there wasn’t really anyone readily available that we could call to take Elle for the afternoon. We have friends that would do it here of course (and bless them for being so willing), but we never wanted to bother them. We had to power through that struggle alone and that meant many, many late nights. It meant so many nights where we didn’t go to bed at the same time followed by other nights of purely crashing and not waking up till someone forced us.

We didn’t go on a date outside the house this entire year. Ryan and I had one solo time together during our trip to Denmark, but outside of that, I literally cannot think of a single time we intentionally left the house, just us, to go hang out together. I might be drawing a blank, but the fact I can’t remember any of those times at all is hardly a good sign.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t spend a lot of time alone. We spent many, many nights in together – every night actually. Our weekends were filled with finishing schoolwork, working on side business (which is no longer a thing we have to do on the weekends and we’re finding so much peace with that). As a whole, our first 9 months here, we literally worked 7 days a week save for a handful of trips where we worked remotely. We didn’t see as much of what we wanted to see for the first 6-7 months. Ryan didn’t have a job the first few months, making his social circle somewhat challenging and then when he did get a job, we were faced with the new challenge of childcare and making sure our schedules worked with Elle’s schedule.

It was hard. I get fatigued even thinking about it.

But, there was so much growth. There is nothing like only having each other to rely on. Where many might go crazy, we spend so much time away from each other, we’re really just looking to reconnect again by the time the weekend comes. In our marriage, this has without a doubt been the most challenging year, but it has helped us see what we can work through and what we can accomplish together. I’d be lying if I said that we were in the best place that we’ve ever been. We’re not. We need to work better on making each other a priority and we need to start doing that ASAP. We are too quick to push our needs off to the wayside.

But where we lack in some areas, we make up for in others. We are a strong family. Ryan is the best dad I’ve ever met and I think even if I was outside looking in, I’d still think that, seriously. I can handle things on my own. We are used to working things out between the two of us to better life for the three of us. We are ready to take on so many more things that we otherwise took for granted back in NE. The challenges weren’t so much in missing family. The challenges were in really understanding what it feels like to be alone and have to make conversation. To develop a new friend circle and no longer have people around you that know your entire background. The challenge is opening up and putting that effort out there even when you’re exhausted and drained and it’s so much easier to go home and chill. The challenge is in staying connected with the people far away and reminding them you love them, that you didn’t move to hurt them and that they’ll still be a part of your life and they’re still a priority.

The challenges are many, but the rewards are so much greater.

I am so proud of us for even doing this. For saying yes on a literal whim without much thought. For trusting that it would all work out and that even if it was hard, we owed it to ourselves to give it a shot. For convincing ourselves that children are portable and that even though it would be hard to raise our kid without her family surrounding her, we are her family. We are her sense of home. Home is not geographic. It is found within your people.

We’re doing the exploring we always said we would out here. We are challenging ourselves. We’re meeting people who are challenging us and we are challenging them. We are carving out our own little slice of Washington and building ourselves a family here for as long as we’re allowed to stay (cause you know, we’re mobile and everything). We moved as far away as we could because we knew if my job ever moved us again, no matter what we’d be closer and that would feel nice.

We’re living by our own definition and even though sometimes life pulls and we feel like we’ll break. We’re not. We don’t. We’re coming out ahead, stronger and ready to take on our next challenges.

I dropped my kid off at daycare and I didn’t even have to work.

Thursday I did something I’ve never done before. I dropped Elle off at daycare on my day off.

I mean I had an appointment that morning and we don’t live around a single family member, so regardless, she was going to end up there for at least an hour or two, but I did something I’ve never done.

I left her there all day on my day off.

There was a small period of time where I struggled with my mom guilt about it. The entire time I was driving there, I felt bad that I wasn’t going to get to spend one of my three days a week off with her. I really do relish our time together.

I also know how exhausted I am coming off working 3 straight days of 10 hours plus commute time. How I get home at 6:45 on those night and we barely collectively have the energy to throw something together for dinner and make it to bed time and onto the next day. Dishes barely get done. Nothing else does, that’s for sure. That’s just the beginning of our week together and it can be pretty brutal.

By the time Thursday rolls around, I have had maybe four seconds to myself and when I look around, the house is messy and unruly (even on a good day it seems to fit that description) and then I will typically struggle through trying to pay attention to my two year old in between trying to do dishes, do laundry, mop and sweep and maybe clean a toilet.

You know what normally happens? I toss a movie on and do that.

Now, that’s obviously not the worst thing ever, but I feel myself rushing around the entire time. We pay for 5 days of daycare, so I also asked myself where the harm in dropping her off there while I try to power through some of these activities at a less stressful rate really lies.

The harm lies in my head of course. I made it up. It’s my mom guilt kicking in and it sucks. But I really got thinking about it and honestly, this is the best thing – for her and for me.

I could spend my day paying some attention to her, but not all attention of course because we’re not really spending quality time together when I am trying to get our house situated and ready for another week. I could save those activities for the weekend, but we almost never get them completely done and if we do, it is my husband watching Elle or me watching Elle while the other person cleans something up – that’s not really quality family time. OR, I could just take her to daycare, knock that stuff out and pick her up at 3 or 4 after she’s refreshed from a nap and I am refreshed from no longer having a messy house.

Quality time is so much more important than quantity of time spent together. I have always, always told myself that but sometimes I don’t think I believe it. Once upon a time I did everything when she slept. I refused to clean anything or do anything but hang out with her and do kid related things or go places unless she was asleep. Fast forward a little bit and she of course sleeps less and my workload has not diminished. In fact, we added on more schooling, at one point had a home business plus school plus a kid plus a house plus full-time jobs and we’re just now getting into the swing of things sans extra job. It’s stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. A kid needs a clean-ish house, not an immaculate castle. We need clean clothes. Some things are obviously not avoidable and until I can get my husband to let me outsource, we’re doing it together and on our own.

So here I am now, planning to do the same thing next Thursday. Not because I want to be kid free. Not because I don’t miss her. Not because the feeling will wear off, I don’t anticipate that it will. But because a sane mommy is a much better mommy and I don’t want to spend our day off together with her chasing me around begging me to hold her while I am trying to juggle that and everything else. I want to take her to a place that makes her happy, that will further enrich her and will give her a chance to play with other kids (something she doesn’t get at home since she’s an only child currently) and I want my few hours to just knock everything out so I can pick her up and spend time with her – in the greatest sense of what that means.

Knowing that is more refreshing than even seeing vacuum lines on the carpet (and if you know me, you know I loveeee vacuum lines).

Why Ya Gotta Be So Mean?

Let me first preface this by saying I am going to sound like a wet blanket.

Let’s talk T-Swift. I grew up with her. We’re basically the same age. I loved her before anyone even knew who she was and I have religiously gone to all her concerts, some more than once. I’ve bought every album. I know the words to every song. I am a very, very loyal fan.

Her new single though, it kinda makes me sad.

From a marketing standpoint, it’s genius. I’ll give credit where credit is due. She sings that the “old Taylor is dead” and that’s represented in the removal of all her social media and going dark. Genius. It’s a rebirth in so many different forms and what I feel this album is probably going to be for her – a complete change.

Taylor has always been honest in her lyrics and she draws so much of her work from her personal life, as many artists do. She’s always seemed to take the high road in her lyrics though – calling people out and being semi-direct, but never vengeful. She’s also had her fair share of shade thrown her way as a result. She not only seems to  be embracing that shade, but she’s seeming to indicate that she is everything they say she is.

Some people might construe this as “using her power” and applaud her for it. I don’t quite look at it the same way. She is powerful. This rebirth is powerful. Has her power ever even been a question?

She’s leaning into it, I get it. It’s definitely a strategy, but it’s not one that we’ve ever seen her use in the past and I am not sure that it shows growth.

Her newest single is vengeful. It is full of bitterness and I have no doubt that’s how she feels. Why does it make me kind of sad? Well, as someone who has grown up with her, it’s a definite change and it makes it seem like the bitterness is stealing her sweetness. Where before she used to question why people were mean, she seems to be embracing the queen of mean stereotype that people  have been throwing at her. Does this make them right? In my mind, people live for reactions and she’s giving them one. She’s claiming they’ve changed her as a result of their actions, and while I am sure they have, the way she’s portraying that they’ve changed her is not one of growth, but rather makes her look like kind of bitter and petty. THAT is what makes me sad – I saw her as someone who would rise above that stuff and right now she’s not doing much in the way of rising.

She’s entitled to her feelings. I do think this is another stage of her life and is definitely a shift in her personality. I wouldn’t expect someone to sit back and take all the lashings from her haters, but I will admit I expected her to respond differently and was surprised when she didn’t.

My curiosity is piqued for the rest of the album. If it reads much like this one song, I am not sure it’s going to be a favorite of mine. I am still an avid Swift lover, but I am proceeding with caution on this one. I support an evolution in music and in person, but I thought she stood for something different than what she’s making herself out to be at present. For now, it’s not love for me.

New Beginnings

Image result for new beginnings

I got a new team at work this week and whenever that happens, it’s like the first day of school all over again. Associates are concerned about the transition. I am concerned about the transition, the foot I am getting off on, the impression I am making, the expectations I am setting. Yet at the same time, it’s very freeing.

We also got rid of quite a bit of stuff over the weekend during a garage sale and a donation drive by after said garage sale. So many things we were just hanging onto for the sake of hanging onto – we’d probably never use them again and I’m not sure they’re worth keeping to figure that out. That was also freeing.

I spent a whooping 45 minutes in the gym for the first time in many, many months. I ran two miles and biked some and shockingly, it felt good to get out there and get moving. I forgot how much I enjoy running, even just on the treadmill. The trick is keeping it going, but I feel as though I am at a strange point in my life where I actually WANT to keep it going. Not for the sake of a chore to be fit, but just because it represents a few moments to myself where I feel really mentally clear and like I can actually do it. That is freeing.

I didn’t realize how many of these things just happened to stagger upon each other, but it’s refreshing. I am coming off a weekend of being mostly by myself (Ryan and Elle were both out of town) and although I did almost nothing notable, I feel recharged and ready to take on the world – or at least a small portion of it. I binge watched some stuff. I cleaned some stuff. I got rid of some stuff. I let go of some stuff. All things I might be able to accomplish around people, but am better suited to handle alone.

So many new, yet not so new, things.

I often wonder how many new beginnings someone actually needs. Like how many times do you actually have to start over? You really shouldn’t, right? Yet we find so much solace in closing chapters of our books and moving onto something else. Beginnings happen all the time, all over, to everyone. Some things close because we want them to, others are forced closed and we’re left wondering why. Yet even when they’re things we don’t want to happen, there’s still something to be said for getting to start over.

With my work teams especially, I get an opportunity to learn from my mistakes. I can take a minute, reflect on what I’ve done right or wrong with my last team and decide what I want to carry over. It’s not a completely fresh start. People gossip. They talk amongst each other about what type of boss you are, but at the very least, you get a chance to prove them right or wrong – depending on your preference. Things that were challenges before may not be again simply because you head them off, expecting them to come up. It’s always calm in the beginning because people are shy. Then you start seeing true colors and you can adapt accordingly. There’s just so much that goes into it.

At any rate, it’s refreshing. I feel refreshed. My people feel refreshed and I am going to try and make it a point to take good care of myself during this cycle in hopes that I can find things that I don’t have to start over ever again. But, if we’re being honest – going to the gym sounds terrible. 😉

Toddler tantrums and an entitled society

 

A celeb went viral a few months ago for a post he made about parenting. In it, you could see his 4 year old throwing a fit at the store and he was letting her work through it. Rather than forcing her to do anything, he was just letting her work through her feelings so they could move on.

There were cries of outrage and there were screams of joy that someone was parenting in this way.

The outrage came from people who feel as though letting your child throw a fit creates an entitled child. They feel that the kid needs to get up and do exactly what the parent wants and behave in public or they’re going to get in trouble. Many people cited spanking as a means to an end to get a kid to listen and commented that the people who were in favor of letting their kid behave in this way were attachment, crunchy parents – and they meant that as a derogatory term.

I disagree for many, many reasons and I am not a crunchy mom.

Think back to the last time you were super mad about something. If someone walked up to you, picked you up or tried to hug you and tell you to get over it, how would that feel? I bet you $10 you wouldn’t get over it. I bet you $20 you’d get madder and I bet you $30 you’d react or at least consider reacting and try to distance yourself from that person.

Why do you expect something different from the least rational human beings on the planet? Toddlers and younger kids have complex needs that they don’t even begin to understand. Toddlers especially cannot even tell you what they need in some cases. Can you imagine how difficult it must be living in a body that desperately needs something, but can’t explain exactly what they want? Can you imagine how hard it must be to get told no so frequently? These are the lives toddlers live.

And if you think I’m someone that thinks a kid should be allowed to roam and do as they please, you’re also inaccurate and you’ve misjudged me.

Kids do need to listen, but we need to have realistic expectations for their age group. I do not expect my 2 year old to know how to sit through a full 1-1.5 hour dinner. I can barely sit still that long. I do not get mad at her when she tries to get down. Do I make her try to sit? Yes. Do I sometimes get up and walk with her? Yes. She has limits. She is learning.

I do not think that if you child throws a fit you should give into said fit. THAT breeds entitlement. The notion that if I throw a fit and cry hard enough my mom will toss me that popsicle because she just wants me to shut up is definitely something I’d continue to employ as a means to an end if it was successful. Heck yes.

But that’s not what this dad was doing. This dad said no to something. Their kid got worked up about it. They let her work through those feelings. They didn’t give her what she wanted, they just let her throw her fit, get it out of her system and then moved on. I parent similarly.

If Elle wants something and it’s not appropriate – like candy, I tell her no. When she melts down and throws a fit, I ignore her to the best of my abilities. I tell her to let me know when she’s doing with her feelings and then we can play together again. She works through her feelings. She periodically even looks up at me to see if I am paying attention and I do my best to avoid eye contact. I make sure she’s safe and can’t hurt herself and I carry on with my day.

When’s the last time you did something over and over again with no reward? Conditioning teaches you if something is or isn’t worth your effort. No means no in my house. It means you’re not getting that and no amount of kicking and screaming is going to make it happen for you. Sorry bout it. Eventually, when she realizes that her tantrums are just that – tantrums, she will stop. She will stop crying and whining and she will start doing things that do result in rewards. It’s a basic notion really, but it’s very complex.

I agree with the dad in the supermarket on so many levels. Nobody is more frustrated about a situation like that – it’s super embarrassing. What would also be embarrassing is watching her grow up assuming she can be a giant pain in the butt and get her way. It would be embarrassing to know that she thinks she deserves these handouts in the world and that we’re going to give them to her if she raises enough hell. THAT is embarrassing. I can explain a 2 year old throwing a fit. I can’t explain a 15 year old that thinks she deserves everything and doesn’t want to put effort in. That’s when I’ll feel like a failure. Until then, my house may be a little louder occasionally, but shhh, we’re teaching some serious life lessons over here.