Gratitude: Dear Dad

This is a letter in the Gratitude series. For more information on where this came from and to view the video from SoulPancake that inspired me, keep reading after the letter. Or, if you can’t handle too many feels in one day, just keep scrolling to the bottom. My dad won’t mind.

Stars

Dear Dad,

Thank you for never being disappointed in me, but making the distinction that you were disappointed in my choices – and always emphasizing that you still love me. You have instilled in me just enough paranoia to keep me on the right track, though sometimes it can get the best of me. I have always looked up to you for your work ethic and your willingness to put our needs before yours – I never truly understood it until I had kids. As I’ve grown up, I’ve enjoyed the little chats we have, no longer huddled around a speak n’ spell, but still always learning and growing. You taught me how to be self-sufficient and problem solve, and to love all things smart and Trekkie. I love that when I come to visit, if you’re working on a project, you light up as you show me what you’re doing and how you did it… inevitably finding some cool trick to make it easier, faster, or even more awesome than it began. In fact, because of your excitement for processes, it’s one of my favorite things to work with today (next to people – but I think I get that from mom). You’ve always supported me, given me your honest opinion, and loved me no matter what. I appreciate every lesson you taught me, even the ones you had to teach me twice. I’m grateful that I had a pretty good team raising me – we were never perfect, but we were always just right. There are days that I crave a bologna sandwich with spicy yellow mustard on white bread… and dirt. You’ve always been just cautious enough to still have some fun, especially on those off-road trips we got to take… camping out on the Mogollon Rim during the last 400 miler is probably one of my favorite memories as a teenager. I never felt like ‘just a girl’ or a ‘silly kid’ because you always treated me like a partner in the garage or on the road, always teaching me something along the way..

I hope that through it all, the headaches and the worry and the stress (and the locked doors for that brief period I frightened you as a teenager), you know how very much I love, respect, and appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Even if this is awkward to read, don’t worry… I won’t ask you to say anything. I just wanted you to know. ‘Cause I think you’re pretty awesome.

Love you, dad.
Melonhead

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This week, a video by SoulPancake was shared on my wall on Facebook. I’m still familiarizing myself with SoulPancake because let’s face it, science & feels are RIGHT up my alley! What I’ve seen so far has been so thought-provoking and inspiring… I just can’t get enough!

This particular video, linked below, is an experiment in happiness and how gratitude… well, you really should view it for yourself.

Go on. I’ll wait.

So after viewing the video… cleaning up a few tears, then viewing again, I thought – Gratitude. Huh. What a concept. I know I don’t give it out enough. I don’t say what I truly mean (and being a bitch doesn’t count, Mel… it just doesn’t).

After the compelling and happy science, I decided to start my own gratitude series as a way to boost my positivity and maybe even that of those around me. At the very least, I hope that those in my life know how very much they mean to me.

Much love,
Mel

Gratitude: Dear Husband

This week, a video by SoulPancake was shared on my wall on Facebook. I’m not too familiar with SoulPancake just yet, but I plan to be soon (science & feels – RIGHT up my alley!). The video is an experiment in happiness and how gratitude… well, you really should view it for yourself.

Go on. I’ll wait.

So after viewing the video… cleaning up a few tears, then viewing again, I thought – Gratitude. Huh. What a concept. I know I don’t give it out enough. I don’t say what I truly mean (and being a bitch doesn’t count, Mel… it just doesn’t).

After the compelling and happy science, I decided to start my own gratitude series as a way to boost my positivity and maybe even that of those around me. At the very least, I hope that those in my life know how very much they mean to me.

Here we go!

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Dear Husband,

I appreciate your support so very much. You have been my cheerleader for a number of years, managing our household while I work outside of the home. Even when we were first figuring out this new routine, and I acted entitled and more important than you, you had the courage to look me in the eye and say “Cut it out.” Some look inside of our lives and pass judgement on your motivation or lack of desire to work; some think that you lead a charmed life. Hell, I’ve thrown it at you (more recently than I care to admit) that you have it pretty easy. But I’m much more aware of how difficult your days can be than I may appear. Rationalizing with an irrational and emotional pre-schooler, helping the kindergartner overcome obstacles and staying connected with his teachers… planning meals for the family  and making sure I have everything I need (and want) for work. I don’t think I would be successful in the same job. To some, you live an easy life, and by a number of standards, you do… I mean, neither of us are living a hard life, and I’m grateful for that. But you deserve more respect, appreciation, time and attention than I have given you. I’ll admit, I don’t know how to show you that I appreciate you anymore than I currently do, except refraining from irrational displays of emotional wacktitude at something I asked you to do in the first place. There are just not enough words to express how much you do to make my world better. You have given me two beautiful and smart, kind and crazy kids that challenge me more than any job I’ve ever had. You’ve influenced them towards compassion and education and encouraged a love of all things, geeky or otherwise. Thank you for your dedication to our family, to me, and to making our lives the best they can possibly be each day. Thank you for forgiving my shortcomings and sticking by my side through each day, and for owning up to your own faults when it seems we both needed a good argument. It is because of your support and your encouragement that I continue to press forward, in hopes that I make you proud. I am excited to continue this journey together… though someday, I hope to finally absorb from your personality just how to have fun and enjoy things, without the worry monster on my shoulder. Thank you… for everything.

Love,
Wife

*Disclaimer: I was not asked to write about, nor am I affiliated with, SoulPancake. I loved the video so much and it’s science was so in line with the changes I’m trying to make, I wanted to use it as a catapult for positivity… plus, I’m pretty sure I’ll watch it a lot, just reemphasizing the point for myself and hopefully reducing the number of purposeless cries I have during the week (you know, because watching this gives me feel-good cries). Check out SoulPancake and their cool science vids on YouTube. I just watched a handful and wow… just. Wow.

Chapter 5: Only the Beginning

I decided to end this random  series on Chapter 5, though it’s only the beginning of my adventure in recognizing and breaking down the lies I constantly tell myself. I’ve had to be reminded several times over the past few weeks of my truths and continue to retrain my self-talk to stay away from the falsehoods. I wish it were easier to remember through all the stupid emotions that moment that I realized I am a good mom and wife, I do work hard, and I’m not as lazy I try to convince myself.

Moving on…

It’s been a rough couple of weeks inside my head – both at work and home. I’m irritable and frustrated, angry and sad. Anything that goes even a little sideways sends me into a downward spiral into this personal tirade against myself, spewing each and every lie back into the mix. Trying to convince myself that everything is in my control is somehow so much easier than realizing most of it is not – and what is has been poorly managed by choice.

After a pretty long and productive chat with my boss the other day, I’ve decided to climb on her positive wagon. After all, in order to truly change the way you feel about things, you have to adjust your perspective, right? If I keep focusing on the negative – the bills I keep juggling, the debt I keep incurring, the arguments I keep having – then I’ll be too busy to see all the wonderful things in my life – the husband who supports me, the children who are healthy and smart and fun, the job that is supporting my bad habits as well as my necessities. As I began to change my perspective today, it suddenly occurred to me (on the hour-long commute home – the first epiphany in a while!).

I can no longer justify my negativity with a ‘but’. 
That’s so great – but it was so frustrating getting there.
You didn’t have it yesterday – but it sure would have been helpful.
He’s progressing so well – but the focus is beginning to wear me down.

It’s time for a change (I say that a lot, don’t I?).

I’m determining right now, to my entire audience, great and small, that I will no longer tolerate my own negativity. I will be making every effort to change my words, my focus, and my arguments, to be positive and driven towards solutions, not problems.

That’s so great – it is!
You didn’t have it yesterday – I didn’t, and I’m so grateful I DO have it now!
He’s progressing so well – he is! And I’m so excited to see his next accomplishment!

I’m leaving my lies on the doorstep and inviting my truths in. I’m not burying them, because they inevitably call your name at night when you least expect it, causing an impromptu growth of new lies and self-doubt. But if they stay at the door long enough, watching the truths pile in, the positives jolly right on past, maybe they’ll whither up and just fly away… like a memory that feels distant but still a part of your past.

I’ve said it before and gone missing for weeks, but I’m going to try to be on here more often, spinning some positivity, offering up some gratitude, hopefully sharing some positivity that will inspire (or at least make someone feel nice).

Hug your family tonight. Say thanks to the universe for the things you have (or praise your God), and just take a moment… even if it’s just to smile at absolutely nothing at all.

Much love,
Mel

*If this post is too saccharine, it’s only going to get worse. Just fair warning… :)

Chapter 4: How much more can I do?

I am a slave to the ‘do’. Gotta do this or that, no one else will do it right, if I’m not doing I’m lazy, I don’t do enough.

Ahh… and there is the lie.

I came to this one quick this week and it didn’t even take a commute home to work it out.

The Basics
As I continue to grow my career while co-raising a family, I find there are more and more things that need to get done. My son needs a few new social interventions, my daughter needs more activity to release this unreal energy, my husband needs more time away, and I need some better time management skills.

My husband has always been very supportive of my career, growing into the Human Resources arena and moving ‘up the ladder’, so to speak. I don’t really believe in ladders in today’s business world, but that’s another story. We have come up with a solution that works for us in managing our household, and it comes with judgement at times, with some support at others. But mostly, it comes with an understanding that while my job is to work outside of the home, making a modest wage to support our family, his job is to manage the household, raising our kids by day and supporting the extra-curricular activities that come with both networking in a human-based field and the need for a non-business, non-mom getaway. We have our good weeks and bad weeks, but things seem to have evened out a bit.

The Dos
I’ve recently decided to join a networking industry group for women to further my knowledge in the industry for which I currently work, as well as volunteering/consulting for a class to be offered to the community aimed at raising awareness and understanding of mental illness. Add to this a 40 hour work week that includes a 2 hour commute each day and the last half of a bachelor’s degree and you’ll see why this whole “I don’t do enough” is such a lie.

Where does this silly lie come from?
My best guess is my old mainstay – comparisons. I compare myself to others in my circle. Nevermind that those others have far different circumstances than I – single, introvert, stay-at-home, more income, complete education, different-needs for kids. Tack on to that the mom label, and I screw myself. It’s why I glommed on immediately to the Strong Moms Empower campaign* – because I am one of the biggest offenders of the compare-and-diminish group.

LIE: I don’t do enough. I don’t make anyone around me happy so I need to continue to do more so that everyone else is pleased with their lives and with me. Plus, if I don’t do it, it won’t get done right.
NEW TRUTH: I do exactly what I need to do to support my family. I’m not perfect at managing my time, but when I recognize that I’m slacking in the family department, I correct; when I recognize that I’m not that nice to my partner, I find the source and then I apologize; and when I see that I’m so overwhelmed that I begin to shut down, I reassess my priorities and straighten myself out – with the help of my partner and my kids. I don’t have to pack cool lunches, or volunteer at school, or hand-make their clothes to be a good mom. Moms who do that are just as good as me; different, but still awesome.

Today I’m going to cut myself some slack. I shortened my To Do list to the essentials – a few homework items, a little light reading, a Disney movie, and, in the mandatory category – a tickle fight. Notice there’s nothing to do with sweeping, mopping, dishes, or laundry… Because today, that isn’t a priority.

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Yes… my notes and To Do lists actually look like this. Hey – if they’re not pretty, I won’t re-read them. :)

My house is a mess, the kids have legos and books strewn everywhere, the dog is in time-out, and the husband’s off gallivanting with his fancy friends. And I’m going to be perfectly content to get my homework done, lounge in my pajamas, and maybe even pretend to be sleeping on the couch for a few minutes.

And this, my friends, is how a rare rainy, cloudy Saturday SHOULD be spent in Arizona.

Much love,
Mel

*Disclaimer: I was not asked to write about anything or talk about the Strong Moms Empower campaign. I was just so moved this week by a moment in which I realized (again) that comparing ourselves to each other is often detrimental to the relationships we can build. We are each trying our hardest with what we’ve been handed or what we’ve created and to not support each other is to not support ourselves. I guess I just need to remind myself of this… a lot. <3 Peace out.

Reorganization, Structure, and Paper Clips*

Tonight is a night of reorganization.
Today was a rough day on my ego and my self-esteem. I’ve been making a lot of mistakes and leaving a lot of loose ends, well… loose. And it’s all catching up to me.

So, I broke out Gladys, the beautiful, orange laptop case that I purchased for my ultra-strict school schedule back in October 2012. She’s been begging me to dig her out again, get back onto my old routine that got me on the 4.0 path. But I’ve quietly whispered, “Not tonight,” for weeks now.

Well. Tonight is yours, Gladys. Tonight, you are packed with a notebook for each venture (there are 4, yes FOUR – a non-profit class aimed at educating the community about mental illness, an industry group for women in construction, my colorful work notebook, and my even more colorful school notebook… not including Penny, mentioned below).

With so many things going on, I’m having a hard time keeping up. I purchased a large planner to try to get started right. I’ll be regimented, I’ll let myself go every once in a while, but most of all, I’ll make sure my priorities are right. Often, I’m so overwhelmed and busy with everything else that I’m just a mom-ster at home. No more. If I learned anything while reading On Becoming Babywise, a book about scheduling with a newborn to build routine^, it was this: A schedule is not a pair of handcuffs to keep you tied down, boring, with no fun allowed – it is a way to ensure you segment your day so that when you’re at work, you’re at work and when you’re at home, you’re free to be at home, with little to no distractions from work or other obligations.

So Gladys, what should we name your new, teal friend? I was thinking Penny… Penny the planner. We’ll get a photo of the gals together as they get to know one another. Until then, Gladys says goodnight.

Much love, friends.
Mel

*Paper clips? you ask… yes. I’m chewing on one. I know, I know – super bad for my teeth. I’m not chewing so much as just holding it in between my lips, like a little metal non-smoking cigarette. Hey, this post is super random, so the title should be too, no? Yes.

^This book is quite controversial. We chose it because our life became chaos and we felt structure was a good start. We did not adhere to all of the directives in the book, but the things that we learned allowed us to anticipate the needs of our children and read the signs we needed to keep them happy and healthy. So, if you want to debate the book, I’m probably not going to. If you want to read the book, I say take everything with a grain of salt and use what you feel comfortable with. But most of all, I support your parenting decisions (unless they include horrible things, then probably not so much). I am not of the let’s-tear-down-moms-because-they-don’t-parent-like-me club. Mom’s are tough and so is the job we do. You’re awesome because you wake up every morning and do it all over again. Keep up the good work mom!

See… I told you it was random…