So I had an experience this morning that served as a great reminder.
It was 7:45 AM. I just got done dropping kids off at school with all that goes into that. Got myself to school on time and was feeling great about that. Heading into class I received a solicitous comment of:
Wow! You really NEED makeup.
I was caught off guard.
What the what now?!
My reply: ‘You don’t get a vote.’ as I kept on walking.
I could have explained myself. But I shouldn’t have to. I could have educated her. But I didn’t have time nor was I in that mind space.
But it’s a great reminder and good reply to have in your holster. No one gets a vote about your appearance or the right to define what your best efforts look like. Period.
You know you’re trying your best. Your best, no matter what that looks like, is good enough. And no one else gets a vote.
Apparently this is the face worth commenting on.
*Taken just now in the garden as I typed this up for you.*
For a minute there my world ramped up to be busier, and more stressful as the gift of time and energy competed with available hours in a day. The things I needed and wanted to do contended with requests and obligations from others. With each additional invitation to participate, it began to feel as though the world was closing in around me. Life became more hectic as each square on the calendar was sectioned out to the enth degree.
Drowning. No, seriously. I feel like I am suffocating in my own life over here.
And you know what? It’s all my fault. A couple weeks ago whilst snarfing down lava hot chicken tenders bought at the deli section of a Vons so that I would have food in between obligations, mentally running my line up of ‘to dos’, and considering making a list on my phone to see if I could streamline trips to fit more in, my life hit a snag. There I was sitting in my car with parking lot as my scenery; it dawned on me. ‘Girl, put down the chicken. This is how people go crazy. You are on the brink of losing your fool mind!’
Time for a new plan.
I sat there taking in the stillness of my car. Merlin’s Beard am I Tired! I’m working full tilt and still feel like I’m failing. I’m lonely as hell and I have zero social life. How can I be this worn out?
Well, I was giving myself away one yes at a time.
So how do I fix that? On the side of that paper chicken bag I began the ‘to do’ list to save myself.
Schedule ‘Me’ time and keep it. Okay, that sounds easy. But my Me time was one of the first things I was willing to give up to be helpful to others. Me time includes yours truly on the lanai sipping a yummy beverage, going on a walk or reading a good book. I love to pre prep crafts so I have last minute fun things to do with my kids. I love jump roping and cannot tell you the last time I actually did that. I really miss it too. What about that repurposed painting I have been putting off since last summer or the guitar waiting for me to pretend to be a rock star or that crochet hat/beard matching set I want to make for my kids because I think it would be hilarious? Ya know….the silly little things that make kooky people like me feel whole. Joy events. One at a time my Yes gave all that goodness away.
Say No. Which I found to be a really hard thing to do at first. Because I’m not always a straight out No sorta person, it was a matter of finding the right language. What I began to say is this: ‘I’m sorry, that’s not going to work for me/my family.’ And give no further explanation. If it’s a person you are somewhat close to, simply state that you wish to scale back your calendar.
You’re thinking, ‘Oh no Christy, that’s so rude!’ I say, not at all, it’s actually very smart. People who want to talk you into giving your time will reason away any excuse you make to prove that you can and really should do what they ask. No further information gives the asker nothing to grab onto to change your No to a Yes. Don’t say, ‘I’ll think about it.’ or ‘Ask me later.’ That just means, ‘I’ll say yes if you ask me another way another day.’ Don’t fall for it. Stick to your guns.
Be prepared for people who don’t take no for an answer. Not everyone will be understanding when you decline. I was surprised to find some passive/aggressive behaviors when I began to say no. Have I been saying Yes for so long that the word No is surprise enough to inspire a temper tantrum-ey episode? From the reaction of some, I think yes. If so, then look at it as an unacceptable (yet educational) eye opener into the character of those you were once obligated to.
For those people who try to negotiate past your no, do not respect that you need a break, and act the fool about it, repeat the words: ‘I’m sorry, that is not going to work for me.’ And sashay away.
Never Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain yourself to unreasonable people.
Never JADE. Simple.
‘That doesn’t work for me/our family.’ Really is a good enough reason.
If the people you worked so hard to help really do care about you, then they should understand that you are going to need a break from time to time or move on to other things. And that’s okay.
Be prepared to defend against the task masters. I’m not saying that task masters aren’t the sweetest people you have ever met. But some have gotten accustomed to their ability to talk people into doing things. On looking back I can see where my willingness to be helpful has played to their strengths.
Don’t bring the calendar and pretend I don’t have one on my phone. A willingness to open my calendar equals a willingness to open myself up to make more obligations. Master task givers feed off my willingness to ‘see if I can squeeze one more thing in’ and thrive off of assigning aka roping one more soul into doing their bidding. Because I am generally friendly, open and willing, I was an easy target. I need to work on being more aloof. Open calendars are for doctors appointments and joy events that I chose for myself.
Clear the calendar of clutter. Call and bow out. It really is okay. At first it was a challenge to say no. But I soon found it to be liberating. I had to really look at my calendar and seriously consider what I’d signed myself up for. Do those things make me happy? Do they serve me at all? Are they robbing from time with my family? I was the one who agreed to all those things. Me. So then I was responsible for untangling myself from the obligations that aren’t really important. I went down to bare bones. My purged calendar now consists of check ups and school events for my children.
And I’m going to leave it that way for a while. I’m in Yes Recovery and I require time to become comfortable living like that. I need my life to be about love, supportive family, and our experiences together. I was guilty of letting others carve time away from those people that matter most to me.
Be clever about your yes. Pick a thing you are good at and stick to it. A lady at our church does drinks. Sounds simple right? With dedication to coffee, juice and water, she has lifted the job of providing drinks to a higher level with skill and an eye towards presentation. For every wedding, funeral, brunch, luncheon, or benefit she creates the nicest, most welcoming drink experience ever. Drink Lady stands proudly to tend her beverage artistry. After the event she cleans her station, launders the fancy tablecloths and looks forward to next time. She loves it, it doesn’t take up so much time that she is over obligated, and because of that, she is able to give her time joyfully. Does she do other things? No. Her specialty is beverages. Simple. We all respect that.
Don’t worry. When things calm down for you there will be plenty of opportunity to jump back in. But when you do start over with your time, treat it like the precious thing it is. It’s okay to tell people that you only obligate yourself to one event at a time.
The following things count as events that are worth limiting to one at a time:
Sports for you or your kids.
Church or community events.
Homework, school or education of any sort.
Rest, recuperation and recovery of the health, spirit, or grief-loss.
Focus on the family/marriage/partner. (It counts and really matters you guys)
Beware of the pratfalls.
*Some people confuse their value as a person with their service or deeds done for others. Service to others is essential to being a good human being. However, the ‘others’ that you focus on should start with self care and work outwards from there. You have nothing to offer if you are sucked dry from giving too much of yourself. The quantity of time given does not equal the quality of human you are.
*Teach people how to treat you. If you are always there, the forever ‘go to’ person, your presence will be taken for granted. Before long it will be assumed by others that you will automatically be there. You deserve to willingly offer your time and energy and give your very best every time without stifling your creativity with over obligation.
*Decisions made in times of stress or over obligation aren’t always the best. It’s really okay to decline and keep yourself free to get through to a smoother path. More is not better right now. In fact, perhaps this is the perfect time to take the initiative and unload that calendar of clutter.
*Be careful of the ‘Switcharoo’. Something that initially sounds reasonable, but then switches into more commitment than you bargained for. Something like: Agreeing to Help with a bake sale when the job description should have been Run the entire Bake Sale. It’s no fun when a switcharoo turns a job into something beyond what could reasonably be done well by one person.
*The idea that serial obligation equals a social life. Giving time can be very social and feel like you’ve gotten out and had fun. And in some circumstances friends can be made. However, by and large, you will run into people who are there for the event and gone. Chances are these are not going to be your friends a year from now. So if you are over obligating yourself in search of friends and it isn’t working, it’s time to consider letting that plan go.
*Ego driven – Some things we give our time to make us feel really good. And that’s where it can get out of hand. It’s nice to feel special, needed and important to the success of a project or group. It puffs up our ego and makes us feel like a bit of a super hero. It’s really easy to let ego driven projects grow to the point where they rob from other aspects of your life. Don’t forget to look around to see if you’ve left your spouse and children/ loved ones behind in the process.
*If I don’t do it, it won’t get done. Yup, I sure have felt that way before. It’s time to pick sanity over obligation. If you are feeling strangled by over dedication, it is not only okay, but necessary that you say No. If it’s important, it will get done. It just doesn’t always have to be you that’s doing it.
So that’s it guys. This is what I’ve been up to lately. My life has gone from being an unattainable list of things to do to a more reasonable balance. It’s not perfect or always graceful, but I’m getting there. The result is that I’ve been sleeping better, having fun, and laughing more. My kids have responded and even commented on having more of me again. Ouch, right? But also strong incentive to keep my calendar clear for myself and for my family first.
Oh, what’s that? You need a coordinator for a jog-a-thon coming up in March? Gosh, that sounds fun! I’m sorry. That really won’t work for me.
At 95 degrees outside it’s that time of year when I like to send a message about locking hot cars.
Please lock your car when it isn’t in use. Even if it’s just in the garage doing nothing.
I am a mom to two little people. We go on outings quite often. Part of the fun is the anticipation and prep as we pack snacks and gather things we will need while adventuring. A couple of summers ago my littlest was so excited to get going that he went into the garage and sat in his car seat all ready to go. I was still roaming around, looking for heavens knows what to over pack for the day and noticed he was nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere getting more and more worried at each boy free closet and hiding spot until I eventually discovered him overheated and dazed in our car.
Oh Sweet Heavens Above! No No No!!!
I grabbed my sweaty, slippery son, pulled him into our comparatively frosty house and began to strip him and cool his wee body. Luckily he bounced back and was just fine. However, I was not. Inside I freaked the frick out! And in that fear a lesson was learned.
In no time at all your car gets very hot. Even if it’s in the garage. No matter how attentive you are as a parent or how much you think you have your world secured for your childs best safety, there is still more you can do. I am very aware that my little guy could have gotten seriously hurt or permanently damaged. I am happy and grateful that he is doing well.
And so at this time of year as I hop in for a drive and feel the heat that collects and builds inside my vehicle, I remember the very lucky day that I learned to lock my car.
So please, it’s very easy to do. Just lock your car. It could be your child or a little friend or wee neighbor that you save.
Please, lock your car when you aren’t using it. It takes no time at all and could save a life.
I am super nice to my gardener and he will never know. On days when the gardener comes I either change my gear super early or wait until after the gardener has gone.
Because I would hate for him to be making the yard look nice and accidentally hurt himself. Or heat exhaustion. Or some sort of gardeney emergency. They happen, you know! Then he rings the bell and I am the only adult available. I don’t want to be stuck with my front butt hanging out when I need to be helping him!
So ideally I like to change gear early; but as a mom I sometimes get all busy and cant do it until later. Doing it later entails waiting on food because being an Ileostomate means I have a rapid food in, food out scenario going on which makes the gear changing more exciting than it has to be.
So here it is, pretty much 9am. I have picked up the child toys, scooped the doggy poo, large sticks that fell from the neighbors tree, rearranged the mismatched lawn furniture, watered my plants and wound the hose (which I am notoriously horrid at- it ends up an expert level, strange sort of sailors knot by the time I’m done with it no matter how hard I try.) NOW I can change my gear before he comes.
You’re welcome gardener guy.
**And OF COURSE he is here early today! *Weed whacking as I type* (40 minutes early to be precise) so I now wait to change gear….and eat. He must be having a lovely gardening day and whizzing through at a rapid pace. Crossing fingers our yard is just as easy.**
The ‘R’ word is a bad word in our house. Much like the *F-bomb* and the ‘C’ word. Some words are just not acceptable. Especially when there are kids around.
In our home the highest insult is the ‘S’ word, as in STUPID. Because being unintelligent is the worst sin of all.
As people with the invisible illness of IBD, it is easy for someone to look at us and assume. In the past I have been called ‘AIDS Patient’, ‘Cancer Girl’, ‘Anorexic’, ‘Hypochondriac’ and more. I have even been beat up and had things thrown at me for being different. Unless I say the words, “I have Crohn’s Disease.” you would never guess.
Just as the general public would never guess what is going on in the mind and body of someone Differently Abled. They go through many of the same struggles as someone with an invisible illness. So let us all appreciate that these special people are trying their very best to live happy, normal lives exactly like you and me.At the age of four, my son (who has no idea that he is different) has already been called names, excluded from activities, and shoved over. He has been hurt emotionally and physically. These instances make a mark on his sweet soul that changes him. It hurts to see the cruelty of children. It is hard to know that they were taught this behavior by adults. It is agony to know that my son will continue to deal with this during his formative years. It is misery and apprehension to envision what his elementary years will be like when I send him off to school.
But there is hope. Always HOPE! I love this campaign to shame the ‘R’ word. It should fall under the category of antiquated and out of date. Every decade words slip from our vocabulary and are no longer used anymore. We do not even notice they are gone until some obscure reference brings them up again. Our growing understanding of the world, and those in it, make way for better use of vocabulary and truth telling with our word choices. My hope is that the ‘R’ word will fall into the land of fable where no one remembers anymore where or why that word even existed.
Name calling, especially the ‘R’ word is not helpful. It is out dated, inaccurate, and unintelligent.
My family and I went to the beach. We were hoping to meet up with friends. Because they are conservative dressers, I wore my one piece swim suit. We had a great time playing in the sand, soaking up some much needed sun, collecting shells and chasing the surf. I got some good people watching in, and once we were done with sand play, we decided to walk as a family on the pier to check out the view.
It was beautiful. I feel so lucky to live in such a lovely part of the world. People were fishing off the sides, a cute little café was bustling, couples were snuggling while they enjoyed the view. Mixed voices singing Rasta, the sound of guitars, drums, and a few homemade instruments filled the air. Paradise.
On the way back to the beach I was walking hand in hand with my daughter as my son rode piggy back style on Daddy. We were happily chatting, making observations about the view, and deciding what to do next that afternoon. On the way up the steps came a group of three young people. They looked to be in their early twenties. Two girls flanking one guy. With an air of superiority he made a snide comment about me. I saw his accessing, up and down glance and heard his remark. One of his friends had the decency to inform him that I had heard what he said as she blanched with embarrassment, covered her mouth, and looked away. I watched as he glanced over me again and kept walking.
I did not say anything to him. I was not expecting to have to defend myself from a rude moron. I was stymied about the whole thing. What about me was worth such rudeness? What made him pick me out as someone to belittle? I made mental inventory of myself. I was stinking cute! I put a lot of effort into my outfit, even choosing to wear adorable sandals and sun glasses to set it all off. That guy clearly had something wrong going on to find error with me. The funny thing is, I never saw it coming.
I wondered what he would have said if my Ostomy was showing. I have thought about what I would say in that instance. I would have been prepared for that. And in some way, at least that would have made some sense. To choose something different about me to comment on. However, rude guy was not making fun of my Ostomy. He was making fun of me as a person while I was walking with my children and gigantic husband. It bothered me that rude guy did not care if my children heard. He clearly did not consider that my husband could have caused him physical harm for belittling his wife.
In the car my husband was super sweet. We chatted briefly about the rude guy then turned up the happy music and enjoyed our kids the rest of the trip home. To sum up the man response, he warned me that this is the kind of thing I need to get used to if I am going to be walking around with my Ostomy showing, and that kind of scrutiny is the sort that wrecks your whole day. I love that he cared enough to state the truth, and in a way, prepare me in case I had not previously thought of that.
All valid, good points that could be true in other situations, but not true of today. My Ostomy was NOT showing at all and it did NOT wreck my day. The world kept spinning; I did yard work, mowed and edged the lawn, made yummy stuff in the kitchen, and read a book in the sun. All things that make me super happy.
In the end it does not matter what you look like or how nice you are. There will always be someone there to put you down. They can try all they want, but you do not have to stay down or let rude people set the tone for your day. All in all an unexpected learning experience. I do, however, have some catchy come backs for next time. A girl should always be prepared.
Please stop making clothes for the 6+ age group that would qualify as ‘Super Slim fit’ or ‘Slut fit’. I refuse to waste my money this way, or send the message to my daughter that tight fitting and revealing is an acceptable way to present herself.
Also I will not buy my child adult styled underpants. Thong and bikini are unacceptable for a child. When she is old enough to need a bra, I refuse to purchase anything with padding or ‘boosting’ qualities. She is just fine exactly the way she is. Lets not be ‘boosting’ anything giving her a more mature look, or giving her the subliminal message that her natural self isn’t good enough.
While we are at it, stop marketing make up to children. Anything other than basic chap stick is not necessary for little people still learning about who they are.
Some day she is going to be a devoted spouse and compassionate mother. She will have aspirations to follow and goals to conquer. She will be a complete, happy, secure individual. I will not be limiting those early ideals with unspoken fences in part determined by her clothing, by how others see her from the very beginning.
In addition, also refrain from creating boy clothes geared towards making my son look like a gangster or hard core criminal with baggy pants and provocative messages. He is not a thug, or a grown man. And no more sculls on anything. Unless it is Halloween and my child chooses to go as a pirate; sculls are OUT! (this is true for girls as well) He is still a wee learning person who is as caring and sweet, squirley and filled with springs as any small person should be.
He is going to grow up to be a loving spouse and an attentive father. He will be smart and clever and funny. He will work hard and be successful. He will be confident, well balanced, and happy. I am not going to set him up to think otherwise with his outer appearance and the reaction that will evoke from others.
Just so you know, I will be buying my children’s clothes for at least another 15 years. MY wallet will influence their purchases. And I’m not having it!! Straighten up or it will be a whole bunch of revenue lost for you. Think about it.
What do I want? How about bright colors? These are children after all. Positive messages, cool designs geared towards intelligence.
The options within that range are limitless. So be creative and positive and I will happily give you my money and buy your items.
You know gardening is fun when he puts down his toy car to help.
Yesterday was Earth Day! And what a great day it was. Here in the Pacific Northwest it was actually sunny. Perfect for putting in plants. My darling husband tilled the area while I decided where I wanted everything. My six year old became an expert right away. Eager to plant everything herself or at least try to be in charge. I am certain that she will garden in her adult life. My three year old ran around with a spade excitedly digging holes and flipping dirt. He is the best helper ever. *All plants involved in toddler digging survived ~ whew!* Perhaps he will be another future gardener?? I can’t wait to see.
We put in five kinds of tomatoes, garlic, chives, herbs, Walla Walla sweet onions, jalapeno peppers, cucumber and zucchini. By dinner time the children and I had everything planted. We were happy to head in to wash up and eat together.
Reviewing the days high points over our evening meal we unanimously decided that we had great success and immediately started brain storming for what else we may want to add. We want our garden to be successful enough that we can share our food. This takes careful planning. We decided spinach, beans, and peas from seed is the way to go.
I went out in my mini bag and got dirty. Except for being really mindful to drink extra fluids, I did not think about my Ostomy. I was lifting, digging, sweating and having a great time. I love the sun on my back and my hands in the soil. When the kids needed a break from planting I ran around and kicked the soccer with them. We had the best active, productive, sunny, fun day.
We are already looking forward to working on our berry patch next weekend. If everything lives, we will have a delicious summer.