Have You Been Kicked on a Bad Day?

What do you do when you’re feeling hurt? Do you call a friend? Do you eat some chocolate? Do you say a prayer, read the Bible, go for a run? What is it that takes you from a place of pain to a place of joy?

 

I imagine the answer is different for everyone. I know at some point I’ve done all of those things to combat the feelings that come with being kicked on a bad day. But I’m reading Rising Strong, by Brené Brown and I’m hearing her say something that I’m not sure how to do. She talks about leaning into the hurt and the pain rather than shrinking from it. Being curious about why we’re feeling the way we are. Then she talks about really wrestling with how we feel and taking a hard look at the story we’re making up about our struggles.

 

She says people who rise strong after a fall are willing to rumble with their stories. And by “rumble” she means “…they get honest about the stories they’ve made up about their struggles and they are willing to revisit, challenge and reality-check these narratives as they dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness.”

 

That’s a mouthful. But it’s interesting to me. Rather than hide from the feelings…or bury them, she says to feel them and then challenge them. How much of our frustrations are due to a narrative we’re telling ourselves that’s full of assumptions rather than facts?

 

For example, you walk into the store and down the aisle you notice someone you haven’t seen in a few years. Suddenly you feel a little sick to your stomach, remembering the last time you spoke had been a bit of a heated discussion and you never really resolved it. At one point, you notice this person look at you and then look away in disgust, turning her cart around and moving the opposite direction. Now you’re hurt and ticked off. She can’t even say hello? What is that?

 

You carry this with you all day, building a whole narrative in your head as to what she’s thinking and why she’s angry with you and how unjust it is. You snap at your kids because you’re rehearsing in your head what you will say to this woman next time you see her. You go to bed and toss and turn because you’re running your last conversation with her over and over in your head.

 

Now the same situation from the other woman’s perspective: She needed to get dinner supplies. She’s in the bread aisle when she realizes she forgot to grab the ground beef and it’s all the way on the other end of the store. She rolls her eyes at herself, whirls around, and heads back the way she’s just come to grab the ground beef.

 

That’s it. That’s what really happened. (Well, I mean, this is a fictional example so it didn’t really happen…but you get the idea.)

 

I guarantee this kind of thing happens all the time. We spend a lot of time assuming things that have little basis in fact. So I love that Brown challenges us to “revisit, challenge and reality-check these narratives…” We can build up a story in our minds to epic proportions, consuming so much energy on anger, hurt and frustration, leaving no energy left to actually deal with our reality. I’m so guilty of this. I never would have thought that I would be. I’m not the type to assume someone is mad at me, in general. But I can look back over the last several years and see times where I’ve built a whole narrative in my head around a situation that was way more rooted in my insecurities than it was in the actual facts of the situation.

 

However, that’s not to say there aren’t times when we are dealing with real stuff. When someone has intentionally or unintentionally hurt us and it’s painful. When someone kicks you, it hurts. Whether they meant to or not…makes little difference. And letting someone tell you not to feel the pain isn’t the answer. Brené Brown would say to lean into that pain. Be curious about why you feel the way you do and be deliberate in how you respond.

 

She says, “It doesn’t matter whether we are ready for an emotional adventure—hurt happens. And it happens to every single one of us. Without exception. The only decision we get to make is what role we’ll play in our lives. Do we want to write the story or do we want to hand that power over to someone else? Choosing to write our story means getting uncomfortable; it’s choosing courage over comfort.”

 

I’m still wrestling with how to do what she’s talking about. But that last paragraph really resonates with me. I don’t want others to write my story. I don’t want to be passive. I want to write the next page and the next, not hand the pen to someone else.

 

So I’m learning how to distinguish between a story I’ve built up around a non-event and the real pain of being mistreated. And I’m going to continue to work on rumbling with my feelings and not allowing myself to shut down or disengage. When you’ve held your hand out and it’s been slapped, the natural reaction is to stick your hands in your pockets and tell yourself the story that nothing good happens when you put your hand out. But if that’s where the story ends, you’ll never receive any of the gifts that people want to put in your hands either.

 

If you close yourself to the bad, you’ll close yourself to the good. Let’s choose courage over comfort. Continue to risk because without it, there is no reward. Continue to be open to pain so you can still feel joy. And of course, good friends; chocolate; prayer; a run…all those can help too.

 

*Quotes from Rising Strong by Brené Brown. 

Photo credit: 
Danny Huizinga on Creative Commons

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How Do You Do It All?

Someone asked me recently, “How do you do it all?”

My answer? “I don’t.”

I am busy. This is true. I have four kids ranging from 11 to 20 and that means a lot of driving and juggling schedules, etc.

I am a full-time Realtor and I am an author in the midst of launching my second book. Yes, there’s a lot going on in my life. But I think that when people see success in one area of your life they assume you must be successful in all areas.

Those people have not been to my house. I have a lovely house and if someone would come over here on a regular basis and de-clutter and clean it for me, it would look wonderful.

But the reality is that something’s got to give and for as long as I can remember right now, that’s the house.

Now I know some would say, “Your children should be helping you keep your house clean.” (Insert laughing/crying face here) Yes, I agree. So if someone wants to come over here and figure out how to make that happen on a regular basis, be my guest.

I know what my kids should be doing. (They also know what they should be doing.) I know what I should be doing. But, it’s just not happening right now. (You may wonder about my husband…well he’s awesome and he irons his clothes and he does mounds of laundry—very kindly folding the laundry into random piles on the dining room table—and he will do the shopping, he’ll cook dinner, he’ll wash the dishes. All those things. As I said, he’s awesome.) But the problem is that we’ve had a ton of change in our family over the last couple years and we just haven’t figured out how to make it all work. We haven’t nailed the adjustment yet.

So we are moving at the speed of light and we are reacting to life instead of being proactive. And at some point, Bill and I are going to slow down long enough to discuss it and make a plan. But until then, the laundry will still be sitting on the dining room table and the dishes will be in the sink and my younger boys will make themselves ramen noodles for lunch because there’s nothing in the fridge.

Is this ideal? No. Is it easy to ignore. No. But sometimes you just have to admit you can’t do it all and live in the mess.

I know I’m not alone. How do I know that? Because I posted the following picture on Facebook the other day …

 

My kitchen. Right now. ‪#‎reallife‬
My kitchen. Right now. ‪#‎reallife‬

 

… and I received a lot of “Me too!”s and other such commiseration. That’s so comforting. But my favorite comment came after about 15-20 people who were “right there with me.” One lovely young friend simply said, “Pretty dish, I love it.”

How adorable. Everyone else, including me, focused on the mess. She found the beauty.

So that’s what I’m going to try to do during this topsy-turvy time of life. I’m going to look for the beauty amidst the chaos.

I hope you can find a pretty plate amongst your mess today, too.

~rebekah 🙂

 

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Introvert? Extrovert? Neither or Both?

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I’ve always been so confused by the whole Introvert/Extrovert thing. Because I identify more with the Introvert side of things—I recharge by being alone, not around a bunch of people, I’d rather read than anything go to a party—but, I’m also friendly, I enjoy new friends and I have no problem talking to the girl behind me in the checkout line. So what the heck am I?

 

Recently, I noticed people are shocked when I say I’m an Introvert. They react as if I’m insulting myself and they want to convince me that I really am an Extrovert and all is well. Haha. Well, I don’t think one is good and one is bad. I think they are just different ways of moving through life. So, yes, I lean toward the Introverted side of things, but apparently a good actress can seem like an Extrovert when inside she just wants to go home and curl up with her book.

 

Ask anyone I went to high school with…I was rather shy. I did not like to be the center of attention. I was quiet unless I knew you really well. The only time I put myself out there was when I was singing and it took a lot of convincing on the part of my music teacher to get me up on that stage. And even though people said I looked calm, I wasn’t. I was terrified. I just didn’t show it. (I still feel that way when I’m in a room full of people I don’t know. Calm on the outside, sick on the inside. But at least now I know why I feel that way!)

 

Once I graduated, I found that I had to be more outgoing to be successful at my job. So I adapted. I became more Extroverted when I needed to be. But despite what people think, I didn’t actually turn into an Extrovert.

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Still, over the years, I’ve been confused about how my brain actually works. I thought I was supposed to be one or the other. But I finally came to a place of realizing I just didn’t fit the mold and I started thinking of myself as an Outgoing Introvert.

 

And then, last week, my sister Leah (I included her name because she’s leans toward Extrovert. They like seeing their name in print.) sent me a Wall Street Journal article that made so much sense. Did you know that there is a third “vert?” It’s true. There are Extroverts, Introverts and Ambiverts.

 

An Ambivert is in the center of that spectrum. They can lean more toward Extrovert when needed and then back toward Introvert when that is called for. The majority of people actually fall into this category! Why had I never heard of it before? It would have saved me years of confusion when answering questions on personality quizzes. 

 

So, it turns out I’m an Ambivert (and you probably are too). It’s not an either/or situation. It’s more of a both/and situation. I’m probably 70% Introvert, 30% Extrovert and I can adapt toward either side, depending on the situation.

 

Why does any of this matter? Well, I think it’s good to understand how we tick. Learning that Introverts recharge by being alone may give someone with that tendency the feeling that they aren’t strange because they’d rather be alone after a long day at work.

 

Or, it may help the “non-stop talker Extrovert”  realize that not everyone is like him and he might want to give his girlfriend some alone time—not because she doesn’t like being around him but because she simply needs to recharge.

 

Or it may help a mom to understand why her six-year-old son asks to go on a play-date every day after school when she’s not wired that way and would rather just stay home. He needs that recharging time with people. It’s how he’s wired. (Not that I’m saying he should actually get to go on a play date every day. But you get the idea.)

 

If you’re not a believer in all the personality profiles and Introvert/Extrovert talk, that’s okay…not everyone is interested in this kind of stuff. But I know a lot of people who are. As a matter of fact, I wrote a blog post a few years ago about the DiSC personality traits and I still get hits on it every day. It’s one of my most read posts. People are fascinated by this stuff and I am too. So tell me, dear reader, where do you think you fall on the Introvert/Extrovert spectrum?

~rebekah

*Note: When using the term Introvert, I’m talking about someone who leans heavily to that end of the spectrum. And the same with Extrovert. I don’t believe anyone is completely one or the other. But I think there are some people who are pretty strongly to one side.

 

Photo Cred: Nguyen Hung Vu (Introvert)

Dominic Alves (extrovert)

 

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My Ten Year Old…the Quilter?

 

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Had a conversation with Ten yesterday that went something like this:

Ten: “Mom, I’m bored out of my mind.”

Me: “Well, boredom isn’t necessarily bad, buddy. It helps you learn to be more creative. Makes you find something interesting to do.”

Ten: “Mom.” He gives me the look—you know, chin down, looking up at me with furrowed brows. “I’ve literally googled what to do when you’re bored. Literally.” He pauses for dramatic effect. Then, in a completely serious, exasperated voice “…and it’s QUILTING!”

I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help myself.

It had been such a serious moment for him. Tears pushing on his lower lids. Talking about how he hates being the youngest because everyone is too busy to do anything with him. And then—quilting.

He smiled in spite of himself, dimples flashing. I could just picture him sitting at the computer, awaiting the results of his query. Maybe Google would have the answer to his all-important question.

And up pops a picture of ten women in a quilting circle.

So, while it was a funny moment, it did have me thinking about what I can do to help him. It’s got to be hard on him after having me home for most of his life and now I’m working and not as available. He’s right. Everyone else is so busy and he’s not. He’s taught himself to draw and he does his homework and his chores. He practices his drumming and reads his book. And then he’s got about…oh…hours still to fill.

I mean, we have sporting activities, and other things going on some nights. But after school I can see why he’s bored out of his mind.

So I’m just kind of curious, dear readers; What do your kids do to occupy themselves? Obviously there are times that we can do things with them but they really do need to learn to entertain themselves. How do you manage that?

I’ve got a few ideas I’m going to try. We are going to work on taking his bedroom from kid-like to middle-school like. That’s long overdue. I’m willing to bet he still has Dora the Explorer dominoes in there. And probably a copy of Cat in the Hat. So that will help. And since he likes to draw, I’ll stock his art supplies. But I still need ideas of things that ten year olds enjoy doing.

So, save my son from the quilting circle. Give me some ideas. Ready, set, go!

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IMHO

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IMHO. That was one of those “text speak” words that I had to look up after seeing it over and over on Facebook and having no clue what it meant. Most of them I could figure out when I first noticed them:

  • LOL= Laughing out loud (although, I’ve heard it said that it should really read LQTM…Laughing quietly to myself…because that’s really what you’re doing most of the time that you type LOL).
  • BTW= By the way
  • BRB= Be right back
  • OMG= Oh my gosh/god (depending on your convictions)
  • IDK= I don’t know
  • OMW= On my way

You get the idea. But IMHO stumped me. (as did SMH…shaking my head). IMHO means In my humble opinion (thank you Google, you’re my BFF). Often it’s thrown in at the end of a rant or someone’s explanation of how they feel on any particular subject. (I think it’s kind of a funny statement because rarely when I’ve seen it used did the user sound very humble.)

 

But anyway, I digress. I’ve been thinking about my opinion today. I am trying to figure out exactly what I think about a sticky situation someone brought up, and I was stressing a little. Because I’m not sure what I think but I know it’s not what I’m “supposed” to think. Not what I’ve been told to think my whole life.

 

And I was getting a little frustrated. Because while I believe it is admirable to really know why you believe what you believe, I get a strong sense that thinking too much about what you’ve been raised to think, pushing on some edges, makes others uncomfortable. But I can’t not think about things. I want to know why I believe what I believe. Whether it’s in regards to politics, religion, raising kids, whatever.

 

But after a few minutes of mulling over things, I got really excited because I realized something that is so freeing; I don’t have to tell anyone my opinion about anything, if I don’t want to. I know that may sound obvious. I’m sure a few of you are saying, “Duh.” But it was kind of revolutionary for me. I’ve always thought that I should be an open book. It’s the way I’m wired—a people pleaser, at heart. But after some awkward conversations lately I’m coming to realize that I don’t have to share my thoughts about anything unless I feel safe doing so.

 

I know. It’s really an odd stance for a blogger to take. I mean, what is a blog like this if it’s not my opinions? You’re right. It is odd. (It’s also why I’ve written almost nothing in six months.) But I mean…I am a writer. I’m writing a book about parenting a strong willed child, for goodness sake. Obviously, I’ll be sharing my opinions. So, I’m not saying I’ll never give my opinion. I’m simply saying that I’ve realized I get to choose what I share and what I don’t and just because someone wants to pin me down to a position, doesn’t mean I have to let them. I can still have a great relationship with someone even if they don’t know what I think about all the “hot topics.”

It was quite freeing for me to realize that I can choose to keep:

  • What I think about God between me and Him.
  • What I think about politics between me and the voting machine.
  • What I think about raising kids between me and my husband.
  • What I think about the weather…well that it SUCKS. (See, I don’t mind sharing some of my opinions ;))

 

I may be the only person in the world who never realized I had a right to keep my thoughts to myself. But probably, someone out there reading this also needed “permission” to think for themselves and not let anyone push them into doing otherwise. So there it is.

That’s the truth.

IMHO.

~rebekah

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Just Airing My Clean Laundry

[originally posted this in May 2014. Someone mentioned it to me this week and it made me laugh when I looked back at it. Hope you enjoy the pics at the end ;)]

(Alternate Title: Stop Comparing your Behind-the-Scenes with everyone else’s Highlight Reel!)

So, I’ve been collecting pictures for months for this particular blog post. Some time around Christmas, a friend told me she wasn’t going on Facebook anymore because seeing everyone else’s perfect kids and perfect husbands and Pinterest-worthy one-year-old birthday parties and Hawaiian vacations, etc., etc., was making her feel bad about her life.

I thought, but you know that’s just people’s highlight reel, right? It’s not their every day. It’s where they post the things they are happy about, excited for…you know…the highlights.

 

Then, I remembered when I posted some family pictures (I actually don’t post many pictures of my kids. Not because I’m against it or anything. No, I just forget to take them). So we hired an incredible photographer (shameless plug here for Sj Bridgeman) to take some family photos and I shared some of them on Facebook…mostly so extended family could have access to them. (Because you know, I’m probably never going to actually get around to having prints made. Yeah, it’s been on my ToDo list for six months.) And also, cuz it’s probably the only time I’ve ever looked half decent in my photos.

 

When I posted this pic…

photo

 

… a sweet young friend commented that she hopes she and her baby girl have a relationship like me and my daughter. I remember looking at that comment and actually laughing out loud. Not because it’s not a sweet sentiment. It is. And not because I don’t want her and her little one to have a great relationship. I do. But because the assumption appeared to be, because we look happy in the photo, that we have a great relationship.

Um…I can say now, that we really do, but that’s very recent. After nineteen years, we are finally starting to get each other. But at the time, we were really struggling to like each other. And being her mom has always been hard … because she’s amazingly smart and strong-willed.

At this moment, I couldn’t be more proud of the young lady she’s become. As a matter of fact, yesterday was probably one of my favorite days ever, with her. I think she’s pretty brilliant. But she will tell you, there were times we didn’t know if she would make it out of childhood alive! (Settle down…it’s hyperbole. I wouldn’t actually have killed her. On purpose.)

Anywho … it struck me then, as it did again when my friend went on her Facebook fast, that so many people are comparing other people’s Highlight-Reel with their own Behind-the-Scenes.

Friends, that doesn’t work. Stop doing it.

It’s unhealthy for you and for those around you. You’ve probably heard it said, “Comparison is the death of contentment.” That’s true. And that’s when you’re comparing apples to apples. But this comparing your life to what you see online? That’s not even apples to oranges. It’s like apples to orangutangs monkeys. (That word just looked strange.)

Most people don’t post the bad stuff on Facebook. Cuz that would just be weird:

“Here’s the picture of Tommy writhing on the floor after his brother kicked him in the balls.”

“Oh, and here’s a great one of my teenager giving me the finger.”

“And this one…can’t forget this one. Little Suzy had just puked and decided to rest her head on the toilet. So sweet.”

“And this is a selfie of me, giving my husband the silent treatment cuz I’m pissed at him.”

 

People! All this stuff is happening to other people, too. It’s just not socially acceptable to share it. So settle down. Relax. You’re not the only one who’s a hot mess.

As a matter of fact, as I said, I’ve been trying to remember to take pics for months for this blog post. I was looking for behind-the-scenes kinds of moments. I got several.

And then I forgot about it. Cuz I do that. A lot.

But this morning, I saw a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Kristen Howerton, and it was about this exact thing!! I mean…exactly what I wanted to talk about. She even used the word “highlight reel” (this is the second time this week that I’ve been pretty sure someone has been spying on my brain.)

At first, I thought … Dang! Now I can’t write my post!

But then I remembered I’m not comparing myself to anyone else so I can write about it, too. I stopped reading immediately, so I wouldn’t be tempted to compare her awesomeness with my awesomeness (haha). 😉 Now I’ll have to go back and finish reading her post. And I’ll even link you to it…cuz even the small part I’ve already read, is awesome: “I’ve Got Your Lifestyle Blog Right Here.

So, I wanted to let you know, if you ever feel like you can’t get your shit together, feel free to send me an email. (When I first wrote that, I wrote ‘shizzle.’ Then I deleted that and wrote ‘s#%t.’ Then I decided that was dumb and I used the real word…cuz it works.) I can list so many things that I fail at. I’ll be happy to give you a list so you can feel better. Actually, I already did. Here’s a blog post I wrote about it.

And to make you feel even better, here’s a fun story. Just this weekend, I broke Nine’s little heart when I got him to the baseball field at 7:30 pm for his 8 pm game … that actually started at … 6pm.

Crap.

“But I was supposed to be the starting pitcher and I was going to get to play first base and shortstop!” (I heard that sentence over and over and over for the next two days.)

I felt HORRIBLE. Seriously, wanted to throw up cuz I felt so bad. But, it happens. I had to let it go. (I even sang the song to myself. Really.)

 

So, now, for your viewing pleasure…I have some Behind-the-Scenes family pics for ya. Enjoy! (and I really did take a pic of my youngest, sitting on the bathroom floor, just after he threw up. But, I can’t find it. So you (and he) have been spared :))

The contents of my linen closet. Pretty much how they looked when they were still in the closet. (At least it's clean.)
The contents of my linen closet. Pretty much how they looked when they were still in the closet. (At least it’s clean.) I still can’t fold a fitted sheet!

 

Even if this started out as fun, you know there was screaming within seconds... Fighting. Even if this started out as fun, you know there was screaming within seconds...
Fighting. Even if this started out as fun, you know there was screaming within seconds…

 

This was a fun day. When Twelve broke his arm the day before basketball season started. It was awesome.

 

This one has a story. This is a picture of my very favorite tea cup. My friend, Marissa, knew I loved this little tea cup so one day, she stopped by and gave me a matching one. I was thrilled. So, I took it to the sink to wash it, and proceeded to drop it. CRASH! I don’t think my friend was even out of the driveway yet. FAIL!

 

What my dining room table looks like, most of the time.

 

I was the one who applied the sunscreen. (or didn't)
I was the one who applied the sunscreen. (or didn’t)

 

What happens any time I don't use a timer. Take that, Pinterest!
What happens any time I don’t use a timer. Take that, Pinterest!

 

And last, but certainly not least, this picture was taken …

IN FEBRUARY!!!
IN FEBRUARY!!! Bam!
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Tell Your Face

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Twelve and Ten. In this shot, I had asked them to cross their arms. Ha!

Last night at Sixteen’s volleyball game, two different moms told me that my boys (Ten and Twelve):

  1. Were so cute
  2. Were so well behaved and always seemed happy
  3. Got along really well

I’m still laughing.

One out of three aint bad; they are cute.

Perception is such a funny thing. The way we think we are perceived and they way we are actually perceived can be so far apart. I remember when I used to lead worship at the women’s Bible study at my church. One night there was a woman in the audience who had a scowl on her face the whole time. I mean, if I had been a newbie I would have been totally freaked out.

But then afterward, she sought me out to tell me how much she enjoyed the worship music and how it touched her heart. I smiled and thanked her, but inside I was wondering if I should mention that she might want to tell her face how she was feeling!

So, back to my boys. They actually are good kids and they do get along pretty well in public. But at home? It’s pretty much World War Three.

Every. Single. Day.

Which means I walk around feeling stressed out by their behavior, trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong and how I can fix it. So, when two people make comments about my boys that are so far from the perception I have, I take a step back and evaluate. They really are pretty good kids. They drive me crazy and they don’t get along. Except when they do. Like at volleyball games. I think maybe I should take what I can get and give them a little credit, ya know?

And then I wonder…am I doing the same thing to myself? Am I walking around stressed out by all my flops and failures that no one else really sees? Am I constantly trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong and how can I fix it? Probably. It’s a quiet and subtle voice, so it’s easy to just let it play on in the background all day without realizing it. But I’m sure it affects the face I’m wearing. I’m sure it colors how I see the people around me.

I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Because that would be a lesson in missing the point. I’m just going to start listening a little more to some of the other comments in the conversation. I’ve been reading through Jesus’s words this week. The Red Letters. And in those red letter sections, I’ve seen some pretty cool comments about how valuable I am and how much God loves me.

And you know what? He says the same thing about you. He probably even thinks you’re cute.

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