How do you heal?
June 9, 2016
We were all wounded in some domestic war. I found you to settle my score.
When I quoted that passage from a Melissa Etheridge song to Gay Hendricks on the show some years ago, he had me back up and repeat it. That’s how perfectly it summed up much of his own work on relationships.
It’s easy to make things complicated. I think you could take a hundred books on why good employees stick it out with whatever company and boil it down to the fact they’re still learning. That’s why relationships endure, too. Right? You’re still learning.
Have fun, and learn a lot. The secret to life, to work, to love.
When you say “my work here is through” I think what you’re saying is this: “I’ve learned all I can. It’s time to move on.”
You don’t have to be at the mercy of all the ways your parents -- everyone’s parents -- messed up. Figure out what hurts. Chances are the person you said “I do” to pushes those buttons with astonishing regularity. Notice that.
After a while, with enough attention and practice, you morph into new people. Better. Not perfect, but better. More interesting. Better equipped to solve more interesting problems than how you became the people you are.
That’s the point of life, right? Healing the past in time to make your mark on the future.
What does a year look like?
June 8, 2016
Picture the year 2016. What do you see? Do you see a one-page calendar, with each month on little squares? I do. But there’s a twist.
From January through May the months go across the page, like you’re reading this -- left to right. But when I see June it starts going back the other way, toward the left. June’s under May, July’s under March and April, and August is under January and February.
Instead of winding back the other way, though, September is under August. The last four months of the year are straight down. October’s under September, November’s under October, and December’s under November.
The whole thing, I realized sipping coffee one morning, looks like a question mark.
Which is kind of cool. The year I’m in is a question mark. What’s it going to be? What will I have to show for myself?
I don’t know what’s more interesting -- that the year appears this way and always has, or that I never thought to question it until recently.
It makes sense that the summer months take as much space as the first five months of the year. It reminds me of being little, how endless a summer felt. The rest of the year? Making up for lost time, maybe. Putting the hammer down, and down, and down again.
What does it all mean?
The world may never know!
Are you full of it?
June 7, 2016
Age does not confer rank.
I’ve probably learned more from Katie than she’ll ever learn from me, one reason it wouldn’t occur to me to criticize her. It never has. Even when she was a toddler! I kept her safe, but I didn’t shame her. Not once. You can ask.
“I love getting your advice on the unsolvable problems,” Katie recently told me. She notices what I don’t attach to my suggestions. Strings!
“Respect your elders” is such an interesting admonition, isn’t it?
If they’ve earned your respect, no admonition needed.
Have you ever turned on a dime?
June 6, 2016
When Darrell lost his job a few months before Katie was born, he thought it was the perfect time to go into business for himself. I wasn’t sure. I’d seen an ad for a part-time job at the chamber of commerce and I wanted to know what he thought.
“Steady paycheck, huh?” he asked.
I withdrew my request faster than you could type that last sentence. “You’re right,” I said. “Let’s go for it.”
I became a new person in that moment. All in. Playing it safe, I decided, was risky business.
You know, so far.
Do you wear sunscreen?
June 5, 2016
“You rascal,” Darrell teased me recently after I suggested watching a silly video for a few minutes to delay the start of our workday.
“Rascal!” I exclaimed. “That’s what I named my skincare routine.”
He looked at me, wide-eyed. Then he started laughing -- so hard and for so long I still feel a little puffy about it.
If you wonder what the letters represent, here goes…
The first two letters stand for Retin-A. I’ve been using it almost thirty years, and it’s much of the reason my skin looks so good. I used to wear it at night, but that was almost like applying it to my pillow -- so I started using it in the morning most weekdays.
Next, sunscreen. That’s so important! I wear it when we’re running, after I’ve erased any traces of Retin-A.
Next, cream. I take a break in the afternoon to slather my face in something so luxuriously scented I feel like I’m at a spa.
Finally, the “al” stands for “and lotion.” Another lighter layer of something soothing in the evening.
And there you have it.
How do you keep things straight?
Are you kind?
June 3, 2016
“You can’t handle the truth!”
What a great line.
And what nonsense.
The people accused of being “too sensitive” are, in my opinion, suffering at the hands of people who are “too judgmental.”
It’s up to you. It takes time to spare someone’s feelings, granted. Maybe you don’t want to go to the trouble. Which is fine. But know this. You can take the entirety of a life with someone and -- depending on how expressive that person is when she’s angry -- remember only the mean things.
Are those the memories you want to make?
If you really want to help someone, you’ll find a way to be gentle. You don’t have use that stupid donut -- compliment, diss, compliment -- which even the blind can see through. But you can be honest and kind.
People will probably handle it just fine!
Are you gracious?
June 2, 2016
Once upon a time I eschewed compliments. Someone would say something nice, and I’d either slap that away or argue with it. “This old thing?” I’d say. I was a walking cliché.
The appropriate response to a compliment, I’ve learned, is simple: “Thanks!” Or, “Thank you!” Or, “Thanks a lot. What a sweet thing to say.” Wrap it with plenty of eye contact and a big smile. You’ll make the compliment dispenser’s day.
If you challenge a compliment, the person who offered it has a decision to make. Argue back? Make it a project to change your mind about yourself? It’s enough to make a nondrinker head for a bar.
I’ve started basking in compliments, more as an experiment than anything. When they’re from Darrell, I might draw him out a little bit. “Please, tell me more!” I tease him. He’s more than happy to oblige.
The other day I told him again how often he greets me in the morning with some new thing he loves about me. “Do you know why that is?” he asked. I didn’t. “You keep changing,” he said. “You keep getting better. It’s almost like a software upgrade. You’re always coming up with better versions of yourself.”
What a sweet thing to be told. And of course it only strengthened my resolve to be a better kid, daily.
That’s what happens when you focus on what works. It inspires more of the same.