I’m right! (and other things I’m wrong about)

Lighting strikes the same place twice: wrong!

A penny dropped from the Empire State Building can kill you: wrong!

The blood in our veins is blue: wrong! (For most of us anyway)Blue blood

The earth is flat: wrong!

Riley (4) won’t make a huge mess in my new car with just one tiny cracker: wrong!

There are so many things we’ve been wrong about. If we all know this, then why do we try sooo hard to be right all the time? I’m no exception. I’m shamefully on a never-ending quest to know everything about everything. But, thankfully, that’s impossible. We can’t know everything and we shouldn’t. In fact, much of what we do know (FOR A FACT!), could be prove false in 5, 10, 50, 100 years from now. 

So instead of always trying to prove myself right and make sure my rightness is known, maybe I should ask mysel how wrong I am, most of the time. It’s all over the place, the wrongness. Seeing only right, correct, done, stifles growth and, let’s be honest, makes me look like an ass.

Who cares if I’m right about how to pronounce a word, or the best substitute for oregano in a recipe, or what to do at a 4-way stop? Ok that last one’s important because I’m certain no one actually knows and “safety first,” am I right? 
The point is: I need to question the things I’ve filed away as “solved” and continue questioning what I think I know, what I value, what I learn. I think this is how I’ll  grow. 

Or… maybe I’m wrong about that. 

Tell me I’m not alone.

Anxiety is a mother.

Anyone who tells me they have no anxiety is lying.

One thing that makes me feel better when I have anxiety is to know that I’m not alone. I think that’s how support groups and forums originated (?). As much as I dislike the term “normal,” when I’m in my anxiety spiral, I just want to know that what I’m experiencing is normal. I’m not alone.

So many people suffer in silence, alone. Afraid they are overreacting (hypochondria), overprotective, or experiencing anxiety for some unwarranted, unrealistic reason.
When I’m really worried, I’m amazed at the power of two simple words: Me too.

I thought about this today when a friend told me her insecurities and struggles. I knew that the physical anxiety symptoms  were a typical response to what she’d been through recently. (Sorry for the generalities due to privacy). In our conversation, I realized she was looking for some sameness. Some empathy. Some people don’t have a Kendra to say “Me too” or a Donnie to say “You’re normal.”

So I did her the favor. I said “Hey. Me too. I’ve had that exact same symptom when I’ve been extremely stressed.” I told her a personal story of a time when I’d been extremely overcome with worry. My legs went numb. My fingertips tingled. I had heart palpitations. Just. Like. Hers. She was shocked. She’d googled every possible disease associated with her symptoms and she never believed it was simply anxiety.

I could almost see the weight lift off her shoulders when she said, “Really?”

I told her about my vulnerable moments that caused the anxiety with the same symptoms. And she unfolded. I like to think she left my house a little bit less stressed, knowing that she didn’t have an incurable disease,  that she likely wasn’t dying, and that she was not alone.

It’s ok for things to suck sometimes

I’m listening to a new book called, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.

I was 10 minutes in and already laughing at my own expense. Yes I feel guilty about a lot of things and yes I feel guilty right now for feeling guilty. 

When I’m mad, I get frustrated and mad more quickly about petty things.

When I’m anxious, I become more anxious about being too anxious all the time.

I love looking into these feelings, discovering what makes me tick. Why I am the way am and maybe how I can change for the better.

I’m always looking for the next self help book that will help me be better, better at writing, better at momming, better at making art, better at volleyball, better at life. Sometimes I can be deep into these books and totally bought into the message that, yes I can be happier if I just tweak these few things and keep my kitchen sink clean. Gee, I guess I never realized that I wasn’t happy enough… until I saw a book that pointed it out or social media posts of seemingly happy people to compare myself to.

What I’m learning from this particular self titled “the anti-self help book,” is that maybe we just have bad days, anxious days, angry days, guilt-filled days. It’s a just a matter of seeing it for what it is and not letting those feelings take over my entire week, month, year or life.

Sometimes life sucks and the sooner I accept that, the better I’ll be. 

News flash: It’s better to be impressed than to impress.

I was 9 years old the first time I remember trying to impress someone.

It was about 50 degrees outside.

I challenged my sister Dawn to a run around the block. More like, convinced her that if she didn’t go with me, she could just stay home and continue being bored and everyone would know that I was the fast one. Methods aside, I convinced her to go with me.

The block was probably about 1/2 a mile but at the time, it seemed more like 5. We took off. I loved running. I wanted to be fast. I was the fastest kid in the neighborhood. Note: I didn’t say the fastest GIRL in the neighborhood.

We circled the block and huffed and puffed up the driveway. Dawn’s relentless competitive nature helped her keep up with me, most of the way.

I remember grabbing a glass of orange juice. I knew that was the healthy option so that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be fast and healthy. Dawn casually grabbed a bag of Doritos despite my warnings that she was cancelling out her run with those Doritos. My dad (a known health nut) walked in as we were sitting down for our snack. I caught his attention “Hey Dad, Dawn and I just ran around the block. I’m drinking this healthy orange juice and she’s chowing down on Doritos.”

Dawn said, nonchalantly, “Yeah. Doritos are good.”

Dad nods. “That’s nice.”

Not quite the praise I was looking for. Wasn’t he impressed that we went all that way? Wasn’t he impressed that the healthiness continued with the orange juice?  I’m being who you want me to be, Dad! If I wasn’t doing this to impress someone, then why was I doing it? Why couldn’t I just eat the Doritos with Dawn?

Dawn didn’t care about impressing anyone. At the time, I just looked at her thinking, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you care what he thinks?” In all honesty, I don’t think she did.

So then why did I care so much? Why do I still care?

It’s funny. I’ve spent a lot of my teen and adulthood trying not to care what other people think (especially my dad). This is a 25-year nagging feeling I’ve been fighting against. Yet, it’s made me challenge myself most of my life. Yes, I’ve accomplished things for myself, of course. But a small part (probably bigger than I’d like to admit) of that was trying to impress other people as well. Did it all start with orange juice?

It’s good to care a little bit about what other people think. Everyone cares about what other people think (except for the competely apathetic). As always, it’s about moderation. Spending all my time concerned about what other people think and letting that dictate all of my decisions is very unhealthy. As a teen, that behavior led me to be extremely susceptible to influence. And believe me, the influence was not as positive as my parents would have wanted. I was trying to impress anyone who would be impressed.

My dad wouldn’t be. Other adult figures were barely impressed. Other successful, athletically inclined kids were too busy thinking about their own lives to be impressed by me. I had to find someone who I could impress. This method definitely took my far, far out of the way of the path I originally intended on travelling. In fact, I’m lucky I made it back safely.

Knowing what I know now, I would say that trying to impress people is not a good way live your life. It may be better to be impressed by people. Other people appreciate people who appreciate them. Thinking back to my dad, maybe if he’d been impressed by the things I was doing specifically to impress him, I wouldn’t have gone down that darker path. Maybe I would have. Is this really just about orange juice? Probably not. But, I can’t really blame my parents for everything bad that’s happened in my life, can I?

Showing appreciation and that you’re impressed by another person is a great way to make them feel good about themselves. I know for a fact that I like to surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself, don’t you?

Today I spend more time trying to appreciate other people, notice their accomplishments (no matter how small), compliment them, let them know just how much of a bad ass they are. People need that no matter how much they deny it.

And, maybe sometime, try to impress them. It will fuels your competitive side. And without competitiveness, Dawn never would have gone on that run.

Did Teddy Roosevelt hate Monarch butterflies?

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech Citizenship in a Republic in 1910.

To me, this quote means that we need to keep trying things, fail or succeed, no matter what others say. Daring greatly means taking risks, even when (especially when) the odds are against you.

I’m horrible at following Teddy’s advice. I care too much about what the critics think and where the odds are stacked. I tell myself I don’t enjoy writing and choose a hobby that’s also enjoyable, but much easier, then I do that instead. I’m working on it, I’ve read the book, I’ve taken small steps toward the arena, I’ve written the blog posts. But eventually I’m going to have to actually take action (write something meaningful) despite my reservations.

When I think of the man in the arena, I think of my husband Donnie. He’s always been the man in the arena, (sometimes I have to push him into the arena) but hes always been different. At nearly 7 feet tall, one gets accustomed to standing out from the crowd. But he embraces it. He lives his life the same way, his way.

Last night, we were watching the life cycle of Monarch butterfly and there were literally hundreds of thousands of

butterflies in one tree (a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope – how cool is that?!). There were so many butterflies crammed on each limb that the branches drooped down. Meanwhile, the tree next to it, same type of tree, was completely empty. I remarked, “Donnie, if you were a monarch butterfly, you’d be on that other tree enjoying your space and mocking the butterflies that were uncomfortably cramped on the other tree, “Stupid butterflies.” He agreed.

 

While, being in the arena has major benefits, one thing Donnie never gets used to is the criticism. Who can? And, boy is he criticized. He’s failed. He’s succeeded. He’s dared greatly. But the other butterflies don’t understand that. They only understand sameness, routine, conformity. It’s instinctive. Donnie wouldn’t survive as a monarch butterfly.

Luckily! We are not butterflies. We are humans (duh). We need to stray from the kaleidoscope and try new things to grow and thrive. We have to go through a lot of pain, dust, sweat and blood to succeed and live whole lives. But it sucks in the arena! (Clearly I’m conflicted) Many of us (me) never enter the arena because we (I) anticipate the pain involved. Unfortunately, if we never enter the arena, we could be (gulp), “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

For the record, Teddy Roosevelt probably didn’t hate Monarch butterflies.

Everyday I’m hustlin’

I know how to play volleyball. I’ve played indoor 6s for two decades. I’m comfortable there. I’m good. I’m reliable. I’m confident. But beach volleyball is something I play a few times each summer with a few people who are just “messing around.”

I read somewhere that when trying something new, you should be humble. Learn all you can. Don’t pretend to know everything. If you do, people will resent you, overestimate you and you may not improve. Which is the ultimate goal when you’re learning.

So, when I started actually playing beach volleyball (no sideline beers), I took the humble route. I let everyone know “Hey everyone, I’m a beginner.” That was very hard for me to do. I don’t like failing publicly (I do a lot of that in Toastmasters… but I’m a beginner there so it’s ok). I don’t like sucking at things. It’s why I don’t bowl. Like, ever.

The reason I went the full disclosure route, is because I didn’t want those players to think that I’m a veteran who just sucks. This way the general consensus becomes “she’s really good for a n00b.”
If you’re gonna fail, it’s the best way to fail.

I made sure no one had lofty expectations of me. People gave me the benefit of the doubt when I messed up and made dumb moves.

It’s like when I used to wait tables and I’d have a bad night where nothing seemed to go right. I’d mess up so many times that finally I’d just tell the people, “It’s my first day.” The rough edges get smoothed, shoulders drop and people have a little more empathy for my errors. What? Everyone did it.

So when I went to my third high level doubles beach tournament, I told all my partners, hey, I’m a n00b. Among high verticals and even higher egos, it was the best approach.

It was a queen of the beach tournament. Basically, the idea behind that is: the best teammate wins. You are matched up with each person in your pool. You start each game with a new team. No prep time. No practice. Just playing. Whoever wins the most games with different teammates, wins the tournament.

This is very difficult because many partners spend years trying to find their mojo. We had 20 minutes and then it was over. But… we were all on the same playing field.

So back to me being a n00b. I was walking around all n00b-like. Putting my sand socks on the wrong feet and sunscreen in my hair (really selling the n00b-status). It was borderline hustling. I wasn’t the best among this group of women, but I definitely was not the worst, not even close. That’s the big problem with the n00b strategy. Employed in a competitive setting, like this cutthroat tournament among strangers, it becomes my glaring weakness.

My partners treated me like a toddler, coaching me and putting me in the least favorited positions. At this point, I know as much about strategy as they did. I’m not an idiot. But… I sure felt like one.

It was even worse that the other teams knew I was a n00b. That means, they picked on me. And BOY, did they pick on me. They served me every ball. Some nails (low and hard) and some lobs (high and easy). But, you better believe every single serve (and most attacks) went my way.

Typically, I can handle being picked on a little bit but this was a little boy on ant hill with a magnifying glass and I was writhing around in the scorching heat (this is an appropriate analogy because it was literally over 100 degrees that day). Even Kerri Walsh-Jennings couldn’t handle being picked on in Brazil at the 2016 Olympics. Competitors finally realized that maybe Misty May-Treanor was the amazing one and they should have been picking on Kerri all along. They more than made up for the misappropriation of serves by taking Kerri way out of her game by serving her off the biggest court in the world. She couldn’t pass, she couldn’t hit. Eventually, she fell apart. I, being a shorter player, never overestimated Kerri and always knew Misty was the real talent. But I felt for Kerri. It happens to the best of us.

So after hours of beatings and humiliation that July day, I was sunburned and dehydrated and so was my spirit.

I learned many lessons that day, which are as follows.

– Never underestimate your competitors or your teammates

– Be honest, don’t try to under promise so much people look down on you

– Be confident

– Hydrate

– Hustlin’ is only effective if you’re a phenom.

I think it’s ok to be honest about being new at something. It’s good to admit when you don’t know something. But maybe I took it a little too far with the n00b volleyball status.

Nice guys finish last because kindness always wins.

“Be nice” is what I tell my kids when they are “not nice.” It’s also what I say to my adult friends, family members, irritable people waiting in line at Firehouse subs, anyone who’s not “being nice.” It never occurred to me to look deeper into what “be nice” actually means.
“I know there’s a difference between being nice and being kind, and I’m going to figure out what it is.”

That’s what I said when a good friend of mine told me she wanted to work on being nicer. (NOTE: It was not in response to me telling her to “be nice.”)

After some research, I think I’ve figured it out. It’s about motive.

Being nice is externally motivated. A nice person craves acceptance and acts nice in order to belong.

Being kind is internally motivated. A kind person cares less about what people think and more about “doing the right thing.”

TRUE CHARACTER IS WHO YOU ARE IN THE DARK

A nice person avoids confrontation and saying no. He will not express anger for fear of upsetting someone, but in the same right, will have anger outbursts due to long-held resentment.

A kind person doesn’t seek confrontation, but will not avoid confrontation if it means being untrue to himself.

A nice person is not true to himself for fear that he won’t be accepted

A kind person is authentic and is not diminished by others’ disapproval.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

Being a “kind” person is my ideal self. It’s why I read all those self development books. I would love to always be authentic, true to myself, care less about what others think, no need for approval, honest. Okay, I’ll be honest. The last year, I’ve done way better at the genuine part. 

 In the article I read, it said that most people look up to those who aren’t afraid to be genuine. But, sometimes, the real, fallible you isn’t socially acceptable. Sometimes, doing what’s right isn’t popular. These are the times, when I really look up to those kind people, the ones who are strong, confident and do what’s right, regardless of what other people think.

If you want to stop being “nice” and start being “kind,” stop looking to others for love and approval and look inward instead. 

I think I’m going to stop telling everyone to be nice. It’s the kind people who really have their shit together.