Thursday, June 28, 2007

Just try it.

Every decision I make always seems momentous, like it's the be all end all way things are going to end up. The stress this causes is paralyzing, what if I make the wrong choice? What if I choose the wrong path?

For years I was convinced that there was no such thing as a "wrong choice". I told myself that once a decision was made the only option was to make sure that it was the right one. I made sure to head down my chosen path with a sure step, no looking back, no second guessing. Pick something and then commit.

To be fair, when you are a teenager or a young adult, waffling is not really an option. There are huge life changing decisions waiting around each corner and indecision can be disastrous. To make things worse you have a skewed notion of time and it feels as though each choice you make will affect the rest of your life. Then you grow up and you realize that what you thought was a long time is really just a hiccup along the road of your life.

I think I've finally grown up. While I still believe in making any choice be the right one, I no longer believe that every decision is set in stone. One of the great things about life is that it's long, definitely long enough to try new things just for the sake of seeing how they work for you.

Want a new hobby? Take a class or two. If it turns out to not be your thing, all you've wasted is a little money and a little time. The knowledge you've gained, both about the subject and about yourself, is well worth it.
Bored with your career? Life is long, maybe it's time to start researching a new field. It's a win win situation. Either you'll discover that you are in the right job, or you'll find something that's better suited to your strengths.
Itching to spread your wings? Go! If you hate the place you're headed, you can always go back.
Next time you are faced with a fork in the road, don't torture yourself, chose the road that feels right to you, then give yourself a deadline. When that time is up, if you're miserable, you'll know it's time to try something else, and if you're happy, then you'll know you made the right choice.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Unwanted advances

This question came to me via email this weekend:
I am thirty five, very happily married mother of three
young children.
I have a nephew of eighteen and we
have an excellent relationship.
However, quite recently
one of my nephew's friends (20 years old),
whom I also
treat with the same kind of camaraderie as my nephew,
developed a bit of a crush on me. It is not overt,
but he has sent me
romantic texts etc. I have not
responded to these because frankly I
don't know what
to say.

I like the lad, and do not wish to snub, shun or
otherwise hurt him.
But equally this state of affairs
cannot continue. I am aware that this
kind of thing
happens...though I'm no looker so I never thought it
happen to me! So I need to handle this wisely
and well and would
appreciate your input.


Dear S,
I'm sorry that you are dealing with such a delicate
issue. As flattering as itmust be to have a young man
show you such attention, it must also be very stressful.
If I place myself in his shoes I can remember how amazing
it felt to be in "love" the first time. Everything about
the object of my affection was perfect, and I lived for a
stray smile or look.

Keeping that in mind, all I can do is suggest that you be
very direct and clear with him. It won't hurt at all to
let him know how flattered you are by his attentions,
but don't be wishy-washy at all about how you really
feel about him. It's not a question of letting him
down easy, or even snubbing him, just about being as
clear and direct as possible. You don't need to give
excuses or apologies, you just need to put an end to
his advances. As long as you keep your comments simple
and clear then he shouldn't be offended.

Next time you see him ask to speak to him alone. Explain
that you are happily married and that you have no
intentionof getting involved with anyone other than your
husband. You can tell him that you enjoy his company, but
just as one of your nephew's friends. But whatever you do,
don't say anything like "it's not you, it's me" or "at
another time or another place..." It would just serve to
give him false hope, something you definitely don't want
to spark.

So in conclusion, be as clear and as direct as possible
and everything should go smoothly.
Good luck!

Does anyone had a similar experience that S could benefit
from hearing about?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Seize the moment

This question arrived in my inbox a few days ago, but it's taken me a while to come up with a great answer.

"I recently hurt myself and I've since learned to appreciate the feeling of being pain free. When everything is fine how do you remember to appreciate what you have?"

If this were an easy question to answer countless poets wouldn't have waxed and wained about it endlessly. When everything is going along perfectly it's all too easy to take your blessings for granted; the health of your loved ones, the relative soundness of your home, even the simple things like a morning kiss. Sometimes it takes an accident or an injury to remind you of what you have and how it should be treasured. OK, maybe treasured is too strong, how about simply appreciated? In truth though, it shouldn't take a catastrophe to make you aware of the world that surrounds you.

All you need is a subtle mind shift, and maybe the creation of a habit or two. When you stand in the shower in the morning, instead of going over your list of to-dos, take a minute to make a mental list of 5 things for which you are grateful. Don't have five minutes in the shower? Make your list just before you fall asleep, or in the moment before you finally have to open your eyes, or whenever you are doing a mindless task. If you have a ton of spare time, feel free to write this short list down, maybe on days when you are feeling under the weather it can help make you feel more positive.

Thinking positively is just the first step. Being aware is the second. When you drive down the street, take a moment to notice a pretty yard or a nice house. When your child yammers on non-stop in the car, appreciate the fact that he is yammering, one day he'll be a teen and you won't hear more than grunts out of him. When a friend wears a nice shirt, tell her! Taking a minute to notice and making a note, mental or verbal, is what is going to help you appreciate the minutia of daily life. It's what makes living life a million miles an hour bearable, and, dare I say it, pleasurable.

How do you make sure to take notice of your world? What do you do to make sure you don't take things for granted?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Just say YES!

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm fiercely independent. Before I became a mom I would probably have spent hours at the bottom of a hole before admitting I needed to call for help. I've always been all about doing everything myself and never asking for help. Pregnancy and motherhood have changed me.

I learned my lesson the hard way back when I was 7 months pregnant with C. In an effort to keep the house a little tidy I leaned forward to pick up a t-shirt that was lying on the floor. I never made it back up. My back completely gave out and I had to crawl to the phone. I was originally just going to call work to say I wasn't coming in, but I quickly realized that I needed someone to come rescue me. It wasn't a pretty sight; fat pregnant woman, flat on her back on the floor in the kitchen, cat screaming to be fed... To be honest, if I hadn't been so hungry I would probably just have waited for M to come home at lunchtime, but a pregnant woman has to eat and I didn't think I could wait four hours.

I called a close friend and she rushed to my rescue. I asked for help and the sky didn't come crumbling down. Even more importantly, she didn't think any less of me. I actually think that she would have thought I was an idiot for not calling for help. As she helped me onto the couch I realized that it was no longer just about me being the tough chick. I had another person relying on me, and even though she wasn't born yet she needed me to be a grown-up and be brave enough to admit when I needed help.

Today I have no qualms about asking for help, or just saying yes when people offer it of their own free will. I've learned that most people won't offer assistance if they don't want to help. I've also learned that every little bit can make or break a day. Having someone spend ten minutes playing Legos with your toddler can give you a much needed break. Letting a friend bring you dinner means that you can spend a little more time bonding with your baby. And asking someone to help you get off the kitchen floor and onto the couch can mean the world when your back is so out of whack that you can't do it by yourself.

So next time you find yourself in a bind and someone kindly offers assistance, just say yes. It doesn't prove that you are weak, it just shows that you are smart, and you'll be amazed at the difference it can make.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Just say NO!

Just in time for the weekend I'm going to share a secret with all of you.
Listen carefully now!
All of those soul sucking events that people keep guilting you into attending? You know, the bbq at the cousin's friend's house, the little neighbor's recital, the millionth birthday party your child has been invited to this year, your room-mate's boyfriend's housewarming party? All of those events that drain you of your energy and clutter your weekends to the point of rendering them more exhausting than your work week? You can, I promise it's ok, just shout NO!

OK. Maybe screaming NO! is a little harsh. But just the same, I guarantee that if you politely decline, the world will not stop spinning, the sun will not stop shinning, and the person doing the inviting will not stop speaking to you. I know this because I've been practicing for years now.

The first few times you decline an invitation, just because you don't want to go, are pretty nerve wracking. A part of you huddles in the corner of your brain, convinced that the invitor will know that you have nothing else planned and that you are just brushing them off. You crouch there just waiting for them to jump up and down pointing at you screaming accusations. But then they just say "Oh well. That's too bad.", or something to that effect, and they drop the subject. And the only thing that happens? You have an evening to yourself. It's amazing, and so incredibly freeing!

Now before you get all carried away, let me say one more thing. The key to this whole system is to make sure you don't give a reason. If you start giving reasons the person will undoubtedly try to convince you to choose between what you have "planned" and what they are offering. Going for an excuse no one can argue with is dangerous. Seriously, how many times can you bury your grandma? So you stay as vague as possible; "Wow, that sounds like an amazing talent show. I wish I could come, but I just can't make it. I'm sorry." The other person won't dare ask why, clearly if you had been comfortable mentioning why you would have, and you are in the clear. The best part about being that vague is that you are free to change your mind if it turns out that the event becomes enticing. "You know, it turns out I am free after all! I'm so glad I can come!"

Go out into the world and reclaim your free time! Only attend the events that truly make your heart sing! You will be a much happier person in the long run, and you'll feel that much better about yourself.