Posted in Family, Self improvement

Couples who idealize each other are happier

Michaelangelo believed that his sculptures were resting in the stone, waiting for him to release them. The way I see it, that’s how we all are. We are resting in stone and over time, we are sculpted. Into what, well, it’s determined by the sculptors.
For better or worse, we choose our sculptors. They are the people with whom we choose to spend our time. Our friends, our family, our spouses. They sculpt us. Most importantly our spouses. I think it’s because this is the person with whom we are most invested.

Generally, the Michaelangelo Phenomenon means, “Couples who idealize each other are happier.” But it’s not just idealizing, it’s helping each other become our ideal selves. 

I’m not always so certain that we’re doing this marriage thing right (we learn as we go).  

Are there times when we might have a bit of an inflated opinion of each other? Yes.

Are there times when we annoy the crap out of each other? Yes.

The Michaelangelo Phenomenon exists between us. This is one area in which I know Donnie and I are killing it. We believe in each other, we idealize each other, we sculpt each other. Without that support, it would be damned hard to achieve our dreams.
In fact, I think we annoy other people with our blind support for each other. Donnie regularly thanks me for my “unbiased opinion” of his work. And he knows that this blog has got some pretty eloquent writing in it, and he doesn’t have to read a word. (I’ve read some out loud to him, he’s not much of a reader.) If you asked him if I could be president, he’d probably say “Yes, if she put her mind to it.” That’s how annoyingly supportive he is.

The downside to the Michaelangelo Phenomenon is when one or the other is not working toward his/her ideal self. It can be really frustrating when the person who supports you, believes in you, motivates you, sees you failing. I know I want to write a book. Each day that goes by that a book isn’t being written makes me feel guilty. Not only am I letting myself down, but I’m letting him down. Because he believes in me.

This is the part we try to work on. It may not be the right time. It may not be the right goal. So, we must back off or redirect our annoying support.

All in all, I think, with the right sculptor, the Michaelangelo Phenomenon does make couples (people) happier.

When the sculpture is finally revealed, it’s going to be amazing.

Posted in Observations

You’ve Got to Stand for Something

I was 9 when I first heard the song You’ve Got to Stand for Something by Aaron Tippin. There’s a Mellancamp version but it’s super weird.

🎶 You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything đźŽ¶

It wasn’t until I got older that the lyrics actually meant something to me. Growing up, I was always very gullible. I’d listen to this song and think, “Yeah, I do need to stand for something.” That’s how gullible I was, letting songs tell me what to do.

Still, anytime I stood up for myself I thought about that twangy lyric. It’s true. It’s good to have firm, unwavering beliefs. 

But…

Is it possible to have an open mind and firm beliefs? 

My beliefs have changed over the years. Does that mean I’ll fall for anything? I could fall, but I’m grower and a changer. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I like to think that I won’t let my pride stand in the way of believing/standing for what I think is right. Maybe this year I’ll stand for something and then next year (with new information, experiences), I’m standing for something else. 

I would not knowingly continue to stand ignorantly. 

I guess I’m still the same ol’ gullible 9 year old. 

Posted in Just words, Stories

Let your creak flag fly

My bathroom door has a creak. 

Creak open. Creak close. With 3 kids, that door is revolving in my house. Creak, creak, creak, creak.

The creaking was about to drive me insane when I remembered that I have some WD-40. I grabbed the can from the garage and smartly sprayed the hinges. Then I patted myself on the back for a job well done.

I gloated about my problem solving abilities and demonstrated for Donnie. I opened the door. I closed the door. I opened the door. I closed the door.

Silence.

I smiled. 

Donnie made that face he makes when he’s really trying not to roll his eyes at me.

The next morning, as I’m getting ready for work, the door smacks me in the back of the head. Turns out, the un-lubricated hinge was keeping the door from closing on its own. So, now, when I get ready in the morning, I hold my arm behind me and push the door back every time it comes a swingin’. 

What is it called when you solve one problem and it causes another to appear? I’ve been trying to figure out if I can use this as a metaphor for something in my life. 

At this point, all I can think is that I wish I had my creak back.

Posted in Observations

We need each other

I like to be alone.

I’m one of my favorite people. I don’t mean to sound like a narcissist (it’s not like I spend all my time alone practicing my smile in the mirror). I firmly believe that time with myself makes me a better person. Loving myself makes me a better person.

Being alone is easy for me because I’m an introvert. I love my family and I love my friends but too much of a crowd can be overwhelming and exhausting. 

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for me to reflect on what I love about being alone…. but I won’t. Being sick and having most of my family out of town, I spent a lot of time alone over the last week. Contrary to what I always say, this week has actually reminded me that I need other people.

I have a weight room in basement, and yet I get my best workout at the YMCA. As I was working out, I realized that I had increased my weight, despite a solid 4 days of sickness. I people-watched for a minute and noticed that everyone seemed to be killin’ it on Black Friday. Is it the competition? The solidarity? Whatever it is, I felt rejuvenated. We need each other. 

As much as I love being alone, too much isolation can be lonely and overwhelming. It was nice to get out of the house and speak to another adult using my actual voice box. I rode a wave of extrovertism as I said bye to the YMCA people and danced my way out the door. 

I suggested the boys and I head to the store. 

Let’s shop! Let’s go to Lowes! Then we’ll go home, and we’ll do some painting! Then a nice long walk! Then I’ll make some homemade dinner and finish that book I started!

I started the car, pulled out of the lot and headed home. The boys took a nap and I brewed some tea and reconnected with House of Cards for the next few hours.

Sometimes I just really need my alone time.

Posted in Family

Rainbow Riley

Tonight, I had a date with my 4 year old.

He held the door open for me. He ordered his own food. He got his own drink. He sat across from me (instead of nearly on my lap). He ate his food with a knife and a fork. He used a napkin (a napkin, people). He made conversation.

This 20 minute dinner on our way to basketball practice was very personal, very one-on-one. It was a definite aside from our usual hustling around, me yelling at him to keep up and then chasing after him as he runs across the parking lot. 

I’m pretty impatient with Riley. I think it’s partially because of his being the 3rd kid and partially because he’s so mature. But Riley has a very special place in my heart. 

I got pregnant with Riley after two previous pregnancy losses. In some circles (pregnancy forums), babies after loss are called rainbow babies. The idea is the rainbow after the storm. Not that my other pregnancies were a storm but that they were painful, scary. 

As such, we wanted to add Rainbow to Riley’s name in remembrance and celebration. His full name Riley Reyn resembles that notion. We just wanted a simple thing, not over the top. No rainbow walls, no rainbow bedding, no rainbow striped hair colors. Just his middle name. 

Not knowing the origin of his name, Riley’s favorite color is rainbow. 

I think I should go on dates with my 4 year old more often. 

Posted in Just words

Tristesse

Malheureusement, je suis malade.

Je ne peut pas joue mes enfants. Je ne peut pas travaille dans ma maison ou mon table.

Ce repos est très barbant. J’ai Ă©tudiĂ© la langue du français et regardĂ© la tĂ©lĂ©vision.

Alors, cet vacance est horrible.

Pauvre moi. Pauvre, pauvre moi.

Posted in Stories

White Chicken Chili… Pioneer woman inspired.

I hate baking, but I looooove to cook. I think it’s because, cooking is a lot more forgiving. If I mess up, I can easily tweak here and there to get it back on track. The people I’m feeding are none the wiser.

Here’s what I cooked last night and the adventure that got me to one of the best soups I’ve made… sort of on accident.

8ish cajun grilled chicken thighs (#darkmeatmatters)
3 or 4 cans of Northern beans (or Navy beans, which are also white, it makes no sense.)
1 red onion
A spill of garlic powder (if you’re out of fresh garlic)
8 CUPS of chicken broth or bouillion
1.5 TBSP of cumin or 3/4 tbsp of chili powder if you’re out of cumin because you use it so much
Salt and pepper
1 can of Rotel
3 TBSP of butter (not margarine, are you kidding me with margarine?)
2 TBSP of Masa or cornmeal (because who just has Masa in their cabinets?)
1 CUP of whole milk (It’s almost never ok to use Skim)
5 or so slices of monterrey jack or pepper jack cheese. The jack part is important.

This recipe is loosely based on Pioneer Woman’s White Chili.

As I recall from last night’s soup-making party, here’s how I compiled this soup.

1. I diced up the onion as much as I could until my eyes were burning so badly I was dancing around the kitchen. All parties must have dancing.
2. Toss all those onion bits into the crockpot quickly. Those heathens won’t get the best of me!
Note: My crockpot has a stovetop setting, so if yours doesn’t, better use a pot on the stovetop.
3. Sauté on medium heat with 3 TBSP of butter and a spill of garlic powder. Fresh garlic is preferred but I cook with garlic nearly every night, so I was out. The recipe said 2 minutes but I like to make sure there are no crunchy bits in my soup… so I held out an extra minute or two.
4. I went ahead and started tossing more stuff in. Like, the chili powder (or cumin) and the can of Rotel. Green chilis would have been better, but I always have Rotel on hand. Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper in the pot.
5. Now seemed like a good time to add the chicken.
6. Then 2 cans of beans.
7. 8 cups of chicken broth. I used bouillion cubes and 8 cups of water.
8. Then I frantically started scooping out some of the water because I realized that my beans are canned and not dried. Then I Kendra that I’ve ruined my soup and am now hoping to save the beans from drowning. Leave about 2 cups of the water in the pot.
BONUS: If you use bouillons like me, you’ll have more concentrated flavor and less liquid… just go with it.
9. I took the temp to high and removed the lid until it started simmering and then dropped the temp and replaced the lid. I set the time for 30 minutes, which gave me just enough time to get Riley bathed and in bed and address 3 post bedtime visits to answer “What is tomorrow?” “Why is that light on?” and “Why do my eyes hurt?”
10. I returned to the pot to find the beans disintegrated. Hm. At this point, I added another can of beans.
11. Then, I let it simmer another 10 minutes while I made sure Logan got to bed and actually brushed his teeth.
12. I returned to the pot to find it disappointingly lean on the beans. I added another can of beans. That did it.
13. Then I went back to the recipe. I mixed (I mean, really mixed) the cornmeal with the whole milk and let it set for about 1-2 minutes.
14. After that I poured the mixture into the soup to help thicken it and to also give it a corn-y flavor.
15. Then I let it simmer for 10 minutes while I cued up Gilmore Girls for Anya and me to watch.
16. I tasted the soup but it was much to hot to determine the flavor so, as a precaution, I added 3 slices of pepper jack cheese. Fun fact: Jack cheese is the best cheese for soup because it melts to a liquid and not stringy.
17. I added two more slices of pepper jack for good measure and kept the soup on low for a little while longer before storing it in the fridge.

So, there you have it! A white chicken chili! So many mistakes… but it still turned out yummy. I love cooking.

Posted in Observations, Self improvement

3 bricklayers… and finding my true calling

This morning on my way to work, I heard the parable of the three bricklayers. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this parable before but I forget a lot of things if they don’t directly apply to my life at that present moment. (It’s good to have a blog).

Three bricklayers were working side by side.

When asked: “What are you doing?”
The first bricklayer: “I’m laying bricks.”
The second bricklayer: “I’m putting up a wall.”
The third bricklayer: “I’m building a cathedral.”
bricks

To me, this parable is about perspective. Based on the type of water cooler talk I hear (“Is it 5 yet?” and “I can’t wait until Friday” and “Are you trying to look busy?”), most people are laying bricks or putting up a wall. What I mean by that, is that people see a task and complete that task because they have to. They do the work, they get the money, appreciation, recognition, whatever. They don’t do the work because they love to do the work.

Most people don’t think of their jobs as a “calling” or a “vocation;” To most, a job is a job or a career. I’m definitely not completely exempt. I won’t lie, I’ve dreaded Mondays and watched the clock. I think we all have at some point.

You spend your whole life dreaming that you will someday stumble across your calling and then you will live the rest of your life fulfilling that calling. It’s not that easy.

I think it starts by following aspirations and it ends with perspective. I’m a writer. Am I writing famous acceptance speeches? No. Am I writing screenplays for comedies? Sadly no. But I am writing… a lot. That’s where my calling lies. I write because I love to write. When I’m writing, I’m not watching the clock. Most of the time, I don’t get any special bonuses or awards or recognition. Sometimes, when I’m writing, 5 p.m. on Friday evening can come and go and my mind is so engaged in thought and in practice that I’m practically floating over New Zealand.

To me, that… is building a cathedral.