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More On the Subject of Life Lessons…

Man, oh man, could I write a book tonight. I happened upon a news article that was a follow up to an existing story about a (now former) police officer who fabricated a story about experiencing hate simply because he was a cop. The tumultuous divide this propagates (more on that in a minute) left me feeling a little dumbfounded as the continued situation unfolded. My reaction is below. You can find the news article I’m referencing right here.

I hesitated to comment on this article but I’ll do it anyway because when have you ever known me to shy away from telling you what I really think?

I remember reading the original article on this, when the news story first broke about a police officer who’d been given a cup of coffee with insulting profanity on it. At the time, my heart sank for what only highlighted a seemingly nasty divide in our country. 

But then I read the article today, which cleared things up. 

The story was false. 

The former officer had made it up and, only after it could be proven that he had lied, he came clean. He said it was a joke (it is never, ever a joke). That makes my heart sink even more. 

This past season on Survivor, one of the male cast members was accused of inappropriate behavior with a female cast member. 

From what was shown, it wasn’t dangerous behavior that he was doing but it made the woman feel uncomfortable and she’d asked him to stop, which he didn’t…so it was inappropriate. 

Some of the other female cast members intentionally used the discomfort of this woman and claimed to have ALSO experienced the same from him, only to later say that they hadn’t…that they were just using it to get ahead in the game. That’s not okay.

We live in a world that is often confusing, where it seems hard sometimes to separate fact from fiction. We live in a world where news media, for better or worse, spreads quickly and the court of public opinion is strong. We owe it to each other to condemn this kind of behavior and to teach our children that it won’t be tolerated. 

I don’t want to assume malintent in either situation because I’d like to believe all parties involved here truly didn’t consider the magnitude of their actions but we HAVE TO DO BETTER. We can’t continue propagating this kind of hate in the world, it only serves to make things worse for us all.

I think it’s going to take positive actions, from each of us, with our friends, family, neighbors, and strangers, to counteract the negative ripple effect that things like this cause. Let’s take a moment to show the world that it’s a beautiful place to be. 

Furthermore (can’t stop / won’t stop), in this #MeToo era truth telling is PARAMOUNT. 

If you want to know WHY this feels like such a colossal ordeal to me, I’ll tell you. 

Abuse (sexual, physical, emotional) is VERY hard to prove and for every person who fabricates a story for personal gain (or for whatever sick reason they justify in their heads) there are victims out there who struggle to prove what’s happened to them, who are terrified to confront their abusers, and who simply aren’t believed. 

These human beings are often left to deal with the aftermath of the trauma they experienced for years. It creates a strain on our mental health system and continues cycles of distinction. 

We owe it to each other to not tolerate this kind of behavior. 

Victims deserve to have their stories believed and heard. When people spread falsehoods, it makes it that much harder to believe those who are telling the truth, who need help. 

I was reminded, after posting about this on my social media, about a situation in my own life where someone I know doesn’t want men spending time alone with their thirteen year old daughter. As parents, it is 100% their prerogative to add that stipulation onto visits with family and friends, whether other parties agree to it or not.

Only one of the family members in the situation is distraught about the idea that her husband, whom she loves and adores, isn’t to be trusted (her perception of the stipulation) around their daughter. She’s left questioning the WHY behind their decision making. That’s fair. On both accounts.

But here’s the thing…you are not OWED an answer as to why someone does, says, or decides something in life. You aren’t owed an explanation, no matter HOW badly you want one. So in the situation with the contestant who felt uncomfortable with the man on Survivor, she doesn’t have to explain WHY she was made to feel uncomfortable…once she articulated that she WAS uncomfortable the behavior should have stopped. Plain and simple. End of story, end of discussion.

Similarly, this family doesn’t owe anyone an explanation as to why they’ve made this decision or are uncomfortable with their newly pubescent teenage daughter spending alone time with men, regardless of who they are. Nobody is owed a justification for that decision…no matter how badly one is wanted. I think it’s fair to ask for one, but it’s not fair to be upset if it’s not received.

The other big life lesson here is that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE for the way in which your interactions, behaviors, and actions impact the world around you. You aren’t responsible for other people’s emotional well being, no way, but you are definitely responsible for the impact you make in this world and in BOTH situations (where the former cop was a lying liar who liked to tell lies and where the other contestants on the reality show decided to lie to get ahead) the potential negative impacts and ripple effect is pretty severe.

Bottom line, and I’ll go because I know this is long….We have GOT to be better about being good human beings. We just HAVE TO. For ourselves and for future generations.

That’s all.

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Life Lesson: The Only Love You Are Entitled to Is the Love You Give Yourself

I wrote a post on New Year’s about life lessons that I’d come to discover over the past year. I promised to expand on them so…here goes.

Lesson #1: The Only Love You Are Entitled to is the Love You Give Yourself

As much as I would like to pretend like this first lesson is one that I’ve mastered already…it’s not. It’s one that I struggle with nearly every single day of my life.

Like you, I’m sure, over the years I’ve had relationships come and go beginning and ending for different reasons. Each relationship I’ve had throughout life, from childhood friendships to those that I’ve had the honor of participating in as an adult, has impacted who I am as a person.

I recently read a blog post highlighting the emotional devastation felt from lost friendships where the original author described her experience in meeting a coworker, feeling that there was potential for great friendship, and then realizing that the other person did not feel the same. My reaction to the original post is below:

After posting, I thought more about the topic as it relates to all of the relationships in my life. I’ll be honest with you, feeling that you care about someone that doesn’t feel the same about you hurts…a lot. I think that’s why they make songs and movies about unrequited love, right?

But at the end of the day, here’s the thing…

You’re not entitled to someone else’s love. And neither am I.

It’s nice to be loved by other people…but we’re not entitled to it, in any way.

I believe a lot of hurt, devastation, and emotional trauma are a result of feeling entitled to love that you don’t receive.

Understanding that you aren’t owed someone else’s love is super hard. It’s something that I struggle with nearly every single day of my life because as much as I acknowledge this hard truth, deep down inside I still seek validation and love from other people (because I am, after all, a human being).

This year, I plan to work on trying to overcome feeling entitled to receive love from others and recognize that the love that I do receive is a bonus to the love that I give to myself.

Until next time,

H

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Life Lessons: 2019 Edition

Oh, New Year’s. What a time to celebrate.

Sleep eludes me once again. This is not an uncommon thing for me lately, it tends to happen when my brain is busy navigating through the realities of life. Only tonight is a little different because the rest of the world (or my corner of it) is awake with me ushering in a new decade.

I thought I’d put my thoughts to paper, erm, keyboard and share some of the lessons I’ve come to realize over this past year. Some of these things that I’ve come to understand as true are good, some are bad, and some are ugly…but all of them, I believe, are lessons that are imperative to my growth as a human being and I hope that in sharing them you’ll find some growth, too.

Please understand that I’m still very much learning and expanding on each of these takeaways myself. I am not a perfect person and I don’t claim to have all of the answers. What I do know is that I’m trying every single day to gain a better understanding of myself and the world around me so that I can appreciate and enjoy this experience as much as possible.

I plan to go through and elaborate on each of these lessons in subsequent posts. For tonight, I wanted to simply get them out there. You can watch for more later. Without further adieu, I present to you…

Life Lessons: 2019 Edition

Lesson #1– The Only Love That You are Entitled to Is the Love You Give Yourself.

Lesson #2– The Only Attention That You’re Entitled to is the Attention You Pay Yourself.

Lesson #3– Just Because You Think It, Doesn’t Make it Truth.

Lesson #4– You Aren’t Owed an Answer or Explanation.

Lesson #5– Some People Don’t Actually Care About a Solution, They Just Want the Problem.

Lesson #6– Just Because You Care About Something, Doesn’t Mean that Other People Do.

Lesson #7– You Are Not Owed Affection.

Lesson #8– It’s Okay to Not Have the Answers.

Lesson #9– Life Is Not Complicated, People Are.

Lesson #10– It’s Okay to Still Be Learning How to Navigate Your Way Through Emotions.

Lesson #11– You Are Responsible for the Way You Impact Other People.

Lesson #12– You Are Also Responsible for Your Reactions.

Lesson #13– Life is Short. Even When It Seems Long, It’s Short.

Lesson #14– Sometimes People Change. Understand that.

Lesson #15- Sometimes People Don’t Change. Understand that, too.

Lesson #16- Changing Your Mind Doesn’t Make You a Failure.

Lesson #17- There’s So Much Beauty to Be Seen in the World. Just Open Your Eyes.

Lesson #18- There’s So Much Beauty Within YOU. Don’t Be Afraid to Show It.

Lesson #19– At the End of The Day, All That Matters is Love.

Lesson #20– Someone Else’s Opinion of You Doesn’t Define You.

That’s all for tonight.

Happy New Year.

-H

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What to Do When You Have the Flu

Tis’ the season, as they say, for the flu. That’s right, influenza is making its rounds and there seems to be a lot of confusion as to how the virus spreads. I’m not being facetious, I truly believe that there are some people who remain ignorant to the facts when it comes to illnesses and I’m aggressive (not passive aggressive, outwardly aggressive) enough to make sure that information gets out there…Why?! Because it’s important to me.

Why is it important to me? Well, let me tell you…I have people in my life, and I’d be willing to bet that you’ve got people in yours, with compromised immune systems. If these people get sick, they could literally die. Because of that, I’ve become a little bit of a germaphobe.

My daughter’s involvement in extra curricular activities leave us in small, confined spaces with other human beings multiple times a week. As a result, we’re often exposed to the things that other people have going on. That can be good and bad. The good? You get to know and love the people around you. The bad? Germs spread like wildfire.

Why is that problematic? See above.

Recently, someone in the aforementioned (small, confined) space knowingly had the flu and claimed to have a 105 degree fever with hallucinations. Why on EARTH, would this person be willing to spend time in public – – around CHILDREN – – when they’re that sick?

I couldn’t even begin to answer that question for you.

What I do know is that their reaction to me mentioning my concern for them being in a public space left me to believe that they were, perhaps, ignorant to how germs spread. I’m willing to give the implausible benefit of the doubt in this situation. Coincidentally, two other people in my life were also sick last week but handled their illnesses responsibly and ethically by staying home until they were no longer contagious.

I created an easy to digest infographic illustrating what you should do when you have the flu. Petty? Perhaps. Informative? I’d like to think so.

What to do when you have the flu

Illnesses happen. People get sick. These are facts of life and I understand that. I’m not one to place blame on others when I come down with an illness but I’m also not one to let people put small children, whose immune systems are still developing, at risk. My goal with this post is to help people understand why that behavior is problematic and concerning.

If someone had the Ebola virus and willingly got on an airplane, knowing they were sick, they would be culpable for infecting the entire airplane. This is a smaller scale version of the same issue. Please consider the impacts that your choices have on others, especially when you’re sick, and just stay home. It’s not worth risking someone else’s life because you want to get out of the house. It’s just not.

I implore you, if you’re sick, please don’t go sit in a tiny space with other families. Please, please don’t do that. When you have the choice to stay in your car or simply stay at home (which you do, I promise you that), please choose to be respectful of those around you.

By not doing so, you send the message that your desire to be out in public is more important than the health and well being of the people you come into contact with.

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Anxiety. Let's chat.

I attempted to do laundry this weekend. Four loads.

That’s huge.

I never mind the process of washing and drying…it’s the time commitment that folding, hanging, and putting things away that seems to bother me. I’m the type of person who would rather just pull clothes out of the dryer and wear them again than deal with trying to be responsible and complete that third step in the process. I clearly adult well.

That’s not the point of this post, though.

I have one of those fancy dryers that I paid entirely too much money for because I convinced myself that I needed it. It’s a very beautiful shade of red and plays a lovely melody when it’s finished with the job…On my forth and final load of laundry today the dryer started malfunctioning.

Error code D90.

Jesus. What on Earth does that even mean?!

Hello smartphone, my old friend…

I did a handy little internet search for my specific type of dryer and the error code I was seeing on the screen. Apparently there’s a clog somewhere in either in the duct or in the vent outside of my house that’s not allowing enough air to push through so the dryer automatically shuts itself off after ten(ish) minutes.

In hindsight, that’s actually a fairly great safety feature.

I read an article a few weeks ago about why you should keep your bedroom doors shut at night, in case of a fire. Apparently it’s a lot better and can keep you alive. Fascinating.

I remembered that article when I saw that my dryer was malfunctioning. And my brain immediately jumped to stories about how dryers are actually a huge cause of house fires in this country.

Now I’m not asleep, like I should be. I’m so tired.

What if there’s a fire in my house? Have I done enough to protect my family in the event of a fire? Have I discussed what to do in case of a fire with C enough? Would she panic and do the wrong thing? Should I have her come into my bed and sleep in here so we can be together if something happens? Would I have the courage to jump from my second floor bedroom outside and risk breaking my legs if I needed to? What about the dog? What are we supposed to do with the dog if we have to jump out of the windows? Is my insurance enough to cover a house fire and allow us to still be okay? Do I have enough documentation for insurance of what’s in my house in order to properly file a claim? Are the smoke detectors working the way they should be? When’s the last time I checked those?

I talk myself down from the ledge. I’m good at that, it’s my saving grace.

That particular safety feature in the dryer makes it almost impossible to accidentally start a fire because the dryer literally will not stay on long enough to get overheated as a result of the clog. So brilliant. That seems to help a little but those thoughts of ‘what if’ are still there. They linger.

Welcome to life with anxiety…

It’s manageable (for me because) I’m able to recognize it but I imagine how difficult it must be for someone who has anxiety and doesn’t realize that’s what’s going on. The chronic overthinking that sometimes plagues us all is an ugly form of anxiety that doesn’t have to run your life. Promise.

I share this because I used to think I was alone in this. I’m not. You’re not either.

Hang in there.

-H

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"Don't Quit Your Day Job," they said. Whoops.

Gosh it’s been a minute. Welcome back, you! (and also me).

What’s new? Oh…I quit my job.

Whew. I said that. Like, out loud, and now everyone knows it. Scary.

I didn’t quit my job because of any one singular thing, in particular. Rather, I quit my job because it was time to quit my job. I knew it long before I did it, but I stayed because I felt bad leaving. How ridiculous, in hindsight. How utterly ridiculous. I’ve been working for the same media outlet for nearly eight years. And it’s been an amazing ride.

I’ve learned so much, I’ve met some amazing human beings and have had some really great experiences. But still, despite all of that, it was simply time to move on. So I did. In mid-November I sent my boss an email and told her that after the close of the year, I felt it was time for me to move on and close this chapter of my life.

After I sent it…I couldn’t believe what I’d actually done. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel happy. I just felt at peace and that’s when I knew I had 100% made the right decision for me. I’ve kept this news to myself, for the most part, over the last few weeks because I wasn’t prepared for the inevitable “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?!” questions.

Here’s what I’m going to do…

I’m going to follow my passions.

I’m going to earn my keep doing creative work that I’m good at. I am going to do more intentional travel. I’m going to spend more time volunteering. I’m going to invest more time in my most important job, as a mom. I’m going to do what I can, with what I have, to make my corner of the world a better place. I am going to get back to writing (hence this post). I’m going to spend some time doing something for ME. Why? Because I can. And I want to. And now is the time to do it.

That’s what I am going to do.

I’m going to be the best version of me I can be.

Somewhere along the road over the last 7+ years, I stopped doing some of the things I love. That is not anyone’s fault but my own. I am an adult who makes my own choices, as we all do. But…you know what?! That makes me pretty sad. So I’m going to get back to doing those things….like writing, sharing, spending time doing good. Being.

And I can’t wait to bring you along in that journey with me.

Welcome back, you (and me), I’ve missed you.

-H

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Teenagers These Days…

I’m sitting in a local Starbucks (also known as my second home) while Charlotte is at dance and I decided to take a moment to appreciate the other people that are here with me in this space…right now in this very moment.

There is a couple, I assume, sitting in the comfortable leather chairs in the corner of the room. They’re so engaged in conversation with one another, each leaning into the other, fully immersed in the moment.

I can’t help but wonder what the story is behind THEM. Who are they? How did they meet? What’s the glue that holds them together? Is it the random Starbucks dates? The fact that they seem to hold each other in high regard, respectfully communicating with each other in a way that’s beautiful to witness. I wonder what they’re talking about.

A group of girls sits to my left, they’re working together to achieve a common goal: Homework. I think of Charlotte and her future. I can only hope that she has friends when she’s a teenager that she can meet at the coffee shop and bounce ideas off of one day. I wonder who her friends will be in seven years.

I can’t wait to meet them. Have I already met them?

The most striking set of people sharing this space with me right now isn’t the couple or the girls working together but, rather, the group of teenage boys sharing the table to my right. At first glance, they’re the very best of friends…congregating at a table together hanging out. But when you start to dig a little deeper you notice that they’re so much more than that.

These kids are having a discussion, a respectful and engaging discussion on philosophy and religion. It’s really beautiful.

That’s actually what I hope for my child.

I hope she finds something she believes in, something that excites her and makes her want to discuss it with other people in her life. We’ve introduced her to the concept of God and have explained to her that there are many religions in the world, each united with common ideas but divided on the details. We’ve told her that we will introduce her to all of these ideas as she grows and learns and finds her way in the the world…until, one day, she’s confident in what she believes and then we will support her in her choices and respect what she finds to be true.

I can’t help but be in awe of these kids. They’re amazing. I don’t remember being that amazing as a teenager. Their dedication to one another, to what they believe in, and to what they’re focused on inspires me and gives me hope for the future of this country.

Teenagers these days are incredible.