Monday, February 17, 2020

thought for the week February 17, 2020

It's an unfortunate part of life but there will be times when things will go so wrong because of someone else that it's impossible not to think of some horrible fate to come down on them. I've been there. I've had those thoughts of revenge. It didn't feel fair that things could go so wrong in my world and yet the person who I felt caused me the pain, felt nothing,

The problem with this kind of thinking, however, is that the only person it affects is you. The person who did you wrong, who took your promotion or boyfriend or parking space doesn't feel a thing. They have most likely forgotten about you. By thinking about them and plotting revenge, you're not letting the story end. When you keep replaying something in your head, you strengthen the neural pathways carrying those memories and you just make them stronger.

This is the exact opposite of what you want. Whoever has wronged you, misaligned your life plan or in some way has made you angry, doesn't matter anymore. Let it go. The best revenge is to focus on your life and your decisions going forward. Let them be them. Wish them well if you can. It may seem impossible at the moment to wish someone well when they made your life hell, but I've done this and the weight of holding a grudge is too heavy of a weight to bear. Banish them and what they have done to you from your mind. Focus on living your own happy life. Every time they pop into your head, change the path. Recite a song lyric, say the alphabet backwards. Do whatever you have to do to stop the thoughts that don't serve to move your life forward.

Maybe not now, but I promise someday when they pop into your head, you won't feel sad or angry. Maybe, just maybe you'll wonder if they are now as happy as you.

Friday, February 14, 2020

How to Have a Great Valentine's Day

I don't think there is any other holiday that is so polarizing. People either LOVE Valentine's Day or they hate it.  I think it starts in childhood.

In elementary school you either sit at your desk smiling with a stack of Valentines from your classmates or you sadly look at the couple cards that you received. (Do they do it differently now? Does every student have to give a Valentine all classmates? I hope so.)

In high school (at least in my high school) students could send each other pink carnations. Some girls (and guys) had a bouquet of flowers and some had none.

In college, you hoped that when you got back to your dorm after classes that there would be flowers waiting for you at the reception desk. Everyone knew exactly who got flowers and who they were from. Receiving no flowers / stuffed animals / balloons / chocolates was devastating.

At work, some people receive flowers  and some people take a pause in the bathroom because this whole Valentine's Day amped up love thing is too much.

And this is why Valentine's Day is so rough. Regardless of what all the TV spots have to say, your value doesn't depend on what someone gives you. It's about love and kindness. If you don't have someone in your life right now. It's OK. Love YOU. You can be and should be the love of your life. If anyone else wants to sprinkle you with kisses or pink cupcakes or flowers or chocolates that's a bonus  but you loving you is where it starts. Then send out kindness into this world. Call someone you know who just got out of a relationship or is feeling down. Just call / email or text to say "You know what I love about you? You always look happy on Monday mornings / I admire the work you put into rescuing animals / You've always made me feel special, no matter how crazy things were, you remembered me. etc." Call your parent, partner, child or friend who hasn't felt the love from you lately because you're too busy working / going to school / just trying to get through the day. Just call and say "I love you so! You are gift in my life and if I don't tell you this often enough!"

Kindness, a true compliment nestles into the heart of the recipient. It can't help but make you smile and be happy. You have no idea what someone is going through on Valentine's Day (or any other day) and you have no idea how much your kindness was needed. If you feel like it, surprise someone with a cupcake or a card but that compliment, that hug, that smile is going to last a lot longer than whatever else you may give.

Years ago, my husband, L,  and I decided that we didn't need to shower each other with gifts. It stressed both of us out thinking about what to buy and was it enough? I said I would rather receive a single gardenia blossom just because you love me. We are raising our daughter, Waverly, the same way. It isn't about the gifts. It's about the kindness and the time that we spend together. Tonight, the night before Valentine's Day, I was bathing the baby when my husband came home and said "I bought you girls something." As we walked downstairs, Waverly in PJ's and her wet hair slicked back, I hoped that L. remembered our decision regarding holidays and gifts. I was imagining a giant teddy bear and balloons.

Then I saw them. Two single gardenia blossoms. I looked at L. "It's not for Valentine's Day," he said. "It's Thursday. I thought maybe Wave would like a gardenia like her Mom." A heavenly-scented gardenia for my daughter and I during these rainy, grey Seattle days. It's the best gift he could have gotten us.

I wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. You are loved. You have special gifts that are appreciated. You have the ability to help someone else with your kindness today. Take the opportunity.

With love love love!

Monday, February 10, 2020

the one thing I'll never ask of my daughter

Waverly was about six months-old when this happened. We were in the market and she was happily sitting in the seat in the shopping cart. We were in the produce aisle and I had turned my back to get some zucchini. When I turned around to smile at Waverly, there was a woman in front of her, touching her very still feet. It took me a moment to process the fact that a stranger was touching my baby.   Waverly locked eyes with me and then looked at the stranger. I said "It's OK, Baby, I got you." The stranger smiled at me and said "She's so pretty!" The words then flew out of my mouth. "NO TOUCH!" She looked at Waverly who was being very still and said "I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything. She's just so. . ." No. Just because a person is small doesn't mean you have the right to touch them. From the start, we've taught Waverly about personal space and her right to it.

When I was growing up, when my parents had friends or extended family over,  I was told "Go give _____ a hug and/or kiss." Maybe it was just how things were at the time but I was never comfortable touching or being touched by someone other than my immediate family.  I've always been very protective of my personal space, even today. It has taken me a lifetime to overcome the bristly/itchy feeling of being touched by strangers who want to hug or do the kiss-kiss thing. After working with a therapist exploring why I feel this way, I am more open to hugs (not so much on the kiss on the cheek unless it's someone I know REALLY well.) I'm also conscious of others and I ask before I hug someone.

When our daughter, Waverly, was born we decided that we would teach her from very early on that she had control over her personal space. It was her body, her call. So, from the beginning, when we changed her diaper, we would tell her what we were doing. I didn't tickle her unless I asked her "Tickle time?" If she said yes, then we would tickle her toes or her tummy as long as she laughed. When she said "Stop!" we stopped. If she took a tumble and we needed to take a look, we didn't just grab her body part. We would tell her why we or a doctor wanted to examine her. We also don't just scoop her up. Of course, we cuddle and hug and kiss but we are very cognizant of her space. I feel like this has made her trust us more as she develops her confidence and her sense of safety.

We've carried this concept into the rest of her life as well. We've made a decision that the one thing we will never ask her to do is to give forced affection i.e.  "Go give ______ a hug and a kiss." Even when she was a baby, when we flew back to Massachusetts so we could spend her first year with family and friends, when a friend or family member wanted to hold her, I would introduce them "Waverly, this is Mama's friend,  we went to school together. Let's say hello!" If she wanted to hug or cuddle, great but if she seemed uncomfortable, then she didn't have to be held by someone she didn't know.  She was incredible though. I can't remember a single time when she cried when she was held by someone.

Today, at almost 2 1/2, we still let her make the decisions regarding her body and her space. (Obviously we won't let her run wild. She has boundaries and rules about what we do. She understands that she needs to hold our hands in parking lots and to always be sure she can see me or my husband. This is more about forced affection touching and being in control of her body.) Recently we toured a school and as we walked through the front doors during their open house, she strode in confidently and went right up to people. As we met teachers and parents I introduced Waverly to them. She smiled, jumped in whole-heartedly and shook hands with them. With one mom, she wrapped her arms around her legs and gave her a hug and a giggle.

We're also teaching her that she can speak up for herself. A few months ago she was in daycare. Her class was mostly boys. I was concerned with them being too rough with her when they played. I spoke with the Director and she said "Waverly's great. She holds her own. She doesn't let anyone push her around." I couldn't have been prouder.

As we watch Waverly grow into a happy resilient little girl, we feel confident with the choices that we are making. I hope that by letting her know that she has command of her personal space that this gives her the confidence to make wise decisions regarding her body as she gets older.

We wondered at the beginning, if we didn't enforce the mandatory "Give them a hug and a kiss!" would she be less likely to show affection? It turns out that Waverly loves being held and cuddled. She gives hugs and kisses freely. Her favorite thing is to run straight at you and lift her arms up to you, If you pick her up, she will look directly into your eyes, put a chubby little hand on either side of your face and plant a kiss on your nose before hopping down and running off to play.

That's our girl.  I couldn't ask for more.

Monday, February 3, 2020

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