Last night my husband made us steaks to celebrate a milestone we achieved with our financial goals. It’s not as sexy as saying we are debt free, (11/16/2015 baby) and it’s an important one.
I was really excited to eat the steak and have lots of conversation about the day, but before that I took my little girl to the mall so we could get some exercise and I could shop for shoes for her and for me.
As I was doing that, my husband was cooking with his cast iron skillet for the first time and as often happens when we do something for the first time, it doesn’t always go well, so it got a little smoky in the Haston Love Nest. When we came home (sans any new shoes) the smoke detector was going off and the smell of smoke permeated through the house and kitchen.
Due to the condition of the house, we decided to eat on the patio and it was great! Cool breeze, lovely atmosphere and the food was wonderful!
None of that would have happened if we had done things according to “plan”
We also decided to do it more often, again, it would not have occurred to us to do that if we hadn’t had to deviate.
I have posted about this before, and it’s still an important lesson that I continue to learn especially with a toddler running around the house!
Today is International Women’s Day- YAY WOMEN! There is so much that we can do and there is no limit to what we can try so I say, tell them to try it all.
Reshma Saujani is the founder of “Girls Who Code” and gave a powerful Ted talk a few years ago about teaching our girls bravery, not perfection. She tells a few stories about how she attempted running for office and failed at it in a very public way.
I have to say I think this is easier said than done, and I absolutely know it’s possible.
In the early days of my academic career, I spent a lot of time telling myself I was not good at math and even made the joke “Numbers and I have a fractious relationship” but all joking aside, this was something that definitely held me back in more ways than one.
Thankfully, I had a college professor who finally opened my eyes to the fun and excitement of mathematics but I often wonder what would have happened if I had told myself a different story. Certainly I plan to encourage my daughter to try things that are hard to and to keep trying especially when it’s hard and as hard as it is to watch, encourage her to dare greatly.
My issue is that I always want to be wonderful at the start of anything that I do, and that simply isn’t possible, since you have no idea how to do something you have never done, so you should be prepared to not be great at the start.
When I did my first 5 K in 2014, I definitely wasn’t wonderful- I had good friends to support me when I did that first walk/run and it was not great, but it was a starting line and definitely not a finish, but it did lead to a recent running success.
But it got me thinking, even as a runner, which I definitely am a runner.
Even after multiple races and workouts, I still feel a little like an impostor when I put on the shoes and the headband and get running on the track or treadmill, like any second someone is going to come along and say, oh, you don’t know about mileage and sprints and other running things (maybe I just haven’t learned them yet?) so you aren’t really a runner. It’s pretty easy to surmise that one might feel this way about other roles in life. Perhaps Motherhood?
As I type this, my child is asleep and peaceful, any second she could wake back up (Please Vivienne, stay asleep) and I will be faced with the choice, do I go get her? Do I let her cry it out? Despite the fact that I have already fought this battle a few months back and opted to let her “cry it out” the choice is always there when the situation presents itself. The back of my brain maliciously whispers,, “A real mother would know what to do”,
I am stopped by this and the guilt starts up and then I remember, I have a tool to help defuse that bomb. I simply have to refute that fear-based statement with truth.
I am a real mother. I don’t always know what to do. I know what feels right to me, and her reaction helps me know if it was the right move or the wrong one. It’s a lot of troubleshooting and instinct, as my mother of choice told me during those first days in the hospital.
My pediatrician says she apologizes to her kids when she makes mistakes and then went on to say that she does make mistakes and it’s important for our kids to know that. So if a medical professional who went to school for years and years and has been practicing on other kids for years and still screws up with her kids, what makes me think I am so different? I found that to be a bit of a relief and thought it might be for you as well.
I am sure I am not alone, which is one of the main reasons I decided to write about this today.
A few months ago, I was pushing my daughter in her stroller on a beautiful day in the park and observed some parent doing the same while using her phone. Aghast, I thought to myself, “She must really not love her child, my goodness, what a neglectful parent!”
Okay, I didn’t take it that far, but I did judge her just a little bit. It’s not something I am proud of, but I did do it. I went right on judging later on when I was at the restaurant and meeting my girlfriend for some long overdue catching up (sans both our children) and noticed that three other tables next to us had their phones out and were not really looking at each other or talking to each other, I judged them a little too. Then later, I noticed still another parent give her mewling child an IPad to gain a little peace and judged a little more. I never said anything to anyone but if this was the sitcom version of my life, I would go up to all of them (ala the television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and bust out an improvisational (and yet perfectly choreographed) song and dance about how they are missing the best moments of life and to put the flinging flanging device down, I haven’t really found a rhyme for that, but I am working on it.
In real life, I silently judge and resume my own activity whatever that might be. I felt justified in my judging mainly because I had this idea in my head that to use my device around her at all meant that I was a neglectful parent or it meant somehow I cared less about her because I was doing something on my phone, I never want her to see me using the phone and think for one second it or any other device means more to me than her. This was the story I was telling to myself and no one told that to me, and then a few weeks ago when taking care of my own child 24/7 I found myself seeking the refuge of a few minutes with a device or computer rather than the constant “you are on, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” wait, no scratch that, “You are on, NOW” of being with an active toddler.
I definitely had a lot more leniency in my minds for those I had judged because while not “the answer to life and all its problems”, it definitely provided me with a few minutes of sanity amidst a day of a very fussy Vivienne. Therefore, to all of you out there who I have judged for this, (including my own husband) I sincerely and heartily apologize for judging you.
On the flipside of that, Do I think we could all stand to use devices less? With a count of 80 checks a day to our phones, you bet your bahookie I do, and I think there is room for balance here that I have not previously acknowledged. I really think we are becoming a society of people who spend far too much time behind a screen so I suggest some balance.
A very shocking statistic, some people would give up sex rather than go one day without their phone. Even more shocking, some would choose to give up chocolate rather than their phone.
Some things that I have started to do to help this.
On my days off, I wake up and leave my phone in the bedroom until I head to the gym, or out with friends, that allows me to spend time with my daughter and husband sans phone.
We do not use our phones during meals (we even have a phone jail)
I actively turn off my phone or put it on silent when with other people for dinner or coffee.
I heard about one mother who committed to not using devices when her child was awake, and that’s inspiring. I am not sure I can do that, or that I want to do that, and I love that she has that goal for herself.
Do I think that could work for you? Maybe. It’s up to you how little or how much technology you want to allow and when (whether you have kids or not).
I can’t say for sure what will work for you, and what will not. I encourage you to experiment with it and see how long you can go without it and be intentional about when you choose to use it. My only ask?
I spend a good amount of time concentrated on the sunny side of things. It’s not that I don’t appreciate and embrace reality or the “SUCKS OUT LOUD” of a situation, AND I think it’s probably better than worrying yourself sick over something that may never happen. Keep in mind, this has not been the case my entire life, I spent some time cultivating this habit. Much like using and rather than the word but, which negates what came just before it.
Recently when talking to a friend who was waiting on some news, she was worried about, I said, “What if there is nothing to worry about?” “What if you are worried for nothing?” Still another has a health concern with no answers, and it was actually where this idea originated, “What if everything is awesome?” In both cases, neither is solved and things are definitely NOT AWESOME.
That’s the downside to “looking for positive” sometimes it DOES not pay off and you CAN’T speak what you want into existence. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times the positive spin does NOT pay off and you wind up disappointed but that doesn’t mean it’s not a valid way to start out. You can always spend time dealing with reality if it doesn’t turn the way you want, but what’s the harm in thinking everything is going my way.
I used to have a little mantra I would say and it goes like this.
Expect the Best.
Prepare for the Worst.
Adapt to the Outcome.
So, recently, I ran my first 5K since I had my baby. A major milestone!
To be completely transparent with you, I attempted one back in September, (one year from her birth) but I barely made it a mile and realized how absolutely out of shape I was so I made the decision to get back on the path to working out and training again.
I am DELIGHTED to report. I ran 3.2 miles in 58 minutes and 51 seconds! YAY!
So in this case, everything WAS awesome. (I didn’t know that but posed for victory anyway… see what I am talking about?)
Do me this favor, ask yourself about the current situation that you are pondering.
“What if everything was awesome?” “What if it’s all going to work out?”
If someone says to you, “Hey, You should go to the gym!”
“you should eat better”
“you should sleep more”
“you should drink more water”
What do you do? Do you respond and say, “My goodness, thank you, it’s so clear how much you care about me and want me to succeed so I really appreciate that feedback?”
No, probably not. If you are anything like me you get defensive and REACT. Usually pretty strongly. You might even get defensive. No, maybe that is just me.
This past week, my husband had surgery on his nose, it gave me the opportunity to spend several uninterrupted days taking care of our daughter and love her though I do, it was tough to be “on” that long. My husband does it every day with very few breaks (her nap) and rarely complains. THANK YOU JEREMY!
I lasted five days before I got ornery and told him-
“I need a break” I said, “I know you are tired, I know you are hurting, I know it’s impossible for you to hold her without her touching you and maybe hurting your nose but I NEED A BREAK.”
I should say, I don’t think these were the words I used, I definitely know I was not nice or calm in the way that I coach people to be, because I was in Reacting mode, not Responding Mode.
I think this has to do with the fact that I was telling myself a story during these days, “If I am not totally happy and satisfied with how I feel while (e.g. If I let myself be tired or annoyed or frustrated) I am taking care of her, I am doing it wrong or I am a bad mother”- No one else told me that, I told myself that.
Also, I was saying some not so nice things about him, “Ugh, he is not helping, does he not see how fussy she is and he is DOING nothing!
Well, that wasn’t true either. He was healing from pretty intense SURGERY on his nose. It’s amazing to me how a little time, a little rest, and a little perspective really helps to calm a situation down and more importantly helps you see things much more clearly.
After I apologized for my outburst, we discussed it and I realized that the story I had going in my head felt bigger and larger than the truth which is that I was tired and needed to admit it.
I was telling myself the story that led to my outburst, I could have built a different narrative.
“I am tired of taking care of her and that doesn’t mean that I am not a good mother, it means I am human.”
This is just one small example of me “reconditioning my response” or “owning my story”
Brene Brown talks about this- Lots of ways that we self-sabotage and break ourselves down instead of building ourselves up. It’s super easy to go negative with the thoughts and not think the best of ourselves or a situation.
So, what story are you telling, and does it serve you or stop you?
Today when I was running, I observed the person next to me. His workout had just ended so his stats were in full view. 11 minute pace (mine is 20) and 13 miles run (mine is walk/run and 2 sometimes 2.5) and so I tried hard to not compare as I plodded away at my own treadmill, increasing my speed a little, adding elevation as I felt comfortable.
Logically and Rationally, his workout is better than mine, but Emotionally? Mine was a slam-dunk, home run, and touchdown, you want to know why? I showed up and did it.
Because when I woke up this morning, I had every intention of going to the gym at 7:30 so I could work out before my daughter or husband woke up I could be done with my run before I started my day.
Yeah, so that didn’t happen.
I woke up and was still tired and relieved to see my little mushroom still sleeping soundly (never do I ever not feel grateful for that, sleep is precious especially for your little) and my first thought was, “Great, I can go back to sleep!” I definitely remembered planning to go to the gym (even glanced over at my ready and waiting gym bag) but lure of sleep was strong and so it won out.
I did wake up and get Vivienne her breakfast and starting the day I thought about how the 5K is in 10 days and I haven’t worked out this week. I pulled my workout stuff together and set out for the gym. So I made it, and I had a pretty good workout.
Some days it really is about showing up, but I think it goes deeper than that. I talk a lot about how comparison is deadly and we should all stop “posting perfection”. That goes for workouts too.
My workout is impressive to me, I post the pictures so I have that “victory lap” you get in running but in a picture. If just one person sees that and is inspired to take the stairs instead of the elevator, I have done my job to inspire one person a day.
If it makes you think, I should work out and then you make a plan to do so, also great. If it makes you mad that I post something to inspire other people (yep, there are some people like that) I can’t really help you.
Now, the person who is training for a marathon (my eventual goal!) is at working towards their midpoint with a half marathon. I have to look at the place I AM AT and work from there.
I am at my starting line, and I shouldn’t judge my starting line by someone else’s midpoint, and more importantly, neither should you.