She Made Me Do It

I’m a relatively private person, but have decided it’s time to share some text exchanges between me and a certain someone I’ve known—and disliked—for years.

My disdain for her centers around the unequivocal thoughtlessness at play—but her controlling, bullying ways are equally problematic.

She’s a phenomenal fun-ruiner, and a perpetually unwanted third wheel. She loves weekends and traveling—and bullishly inserts herself where, and when, she’s least wanted … and even knows she’s not wanted.

Doesn’t stop her. Doesn’t deter her one iota.

She’s hateful, catty and short-fused—demanding we get fast food, making me cry over an All-State commercial, planting seeds of doubt in my mind, pressing me to think super-mean (not-fit-for-repeating) things about people I encounter throughout the day.

Her name is Flo.

Some call her Aunt Flo. Some call her Cousin Red. Gross. She’s just Flo to me—or sometimes #$%&*@! Flo.

It’s time I put her reprehensible conduct on blast.

text1

She even ADMITS to premeditated timing. Can you imagine being so ill-thought of and still coming around again and again and again?

text22

Gee, thanks for the heads-up. Some months I feel her all around me—know she’s made her displeasing descent—but have no proof, because she’s yet to show her dumb, stupid face.

text3

scully2

Great. Thanks. I love running into door facings, dropping things, and feeling generally swimmy in the head. You’re a real treat, Flo.

text4

text25

So she’s Flo Angelou now? Ugh. Silver lining? She’s actually here, which means the clock has started and she’ll be gone soon. Ish.

text7

For reasons unknown, this heifer LOVES McDonalds. Is it the grease? The salt? I’ve basically accepted that when she’s here, I’ll be in a McDonald’s drive-thru at some point—hating myself and loving life, all at once.

eatingcontest

text8

crybaby1

Oh my gosh—they look so sad! They just sit there kinda humped over and dejected-looking, usually with their back to the camera. Why? Why are they so sad? Why have they turned away? WWHHHYYYY????!

text9

As if I needed any extra help being annoyed by people and their noises. She will NOT let me ignore anything. I try to buckle down and forge ahead, and she’s just there, nudging me, poking me, “Listen. I know you hear him chewing. I know you do. It will make you feel better if you get annoyed. There you go—feel that undiluted agitation? That’a girl.”

text10

text11

Uncommon sleepiness, abnormal hunger and astronomical agitation. Every month. Of every year. For decades. What’s not to love?

text6

rihanna

Grrrrr. Where did you go?? You were gone! ANSWER ME!

text26

Women + Ibuprofen = BFFs 4ever.

text17

text18

bbad

text12

text13

butch-jones-is-pissed

Ohhh, Bubba and I are mad-mad-mad. How you gon’ roll up in here and wreak havoc and then stay extra days when I have fun plans?

text19

Cut to me with orange fingers, crumbs down my shirt and an empty bag of Takis—looking lost in a haze of regret.

text20

The name-calling is especially pleasant; but at least she’s gone and I can get back to a normal routine—and normal behavior—for 28 days.

text16

britcry5

No problem, Florence. Come on back. Disrupt everything I do, boss me around and call me names. Nothing would please me more than getting another day with your rotten face.

Several years ago, one of my guy-friends said it was weird to him that girls faced her every single month, of every year—but hadn’t figured out how to deal with her. As in surely at some point, we just go, “Oh, hey, ‘sup old friend—make yourself at home!”

dexter

This was my response.

Sorry. Flo made me do it.

Let’s link up on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Say What?

I make every attempt possible to never say never. I even outlined my reasoning behind this ongoing personal goal here.

But this is different. Even though I don’t say things like, “I’ll never get a bad tattoo” or “I’ll never leave the oven on” (for fear of eating my words), I’m relatively certain you’ll never hear me say any of the following.

“No, thanks—I’m not really in the mood to hold your baby.”

At one time, I wanted to be a Rockin’ Mama so bad, I was calling around to all the hospitals, trying to get information on the process. It’s a program where hospital baby wards put you in rotation to hold babies who don’t have anyone—so the newborns can get love, warmth and human contact.

I just have an endless capacity to hold babies, and I get geeked when friends tell me they’re pregnant. I’m less geeked when they tell me we can’t actually share the baby. That’s pretty selfish; but I’ll take what I can get. Sometimes they’re all, “Oh, let’s lay him down so he doesn’t get used to being held while he sleeps” and I’m all, “Shut your dumb mouth.” The feeling of that warm little nugget on my chest is an unmatched delight for which my longing never ends.

“I’d really like to see him in a jock.”

I don’t care if you’re Roger Federer or Magic Mike, I don’t want to see you in a jock. No day is made better by seeing a man in a jock.

“No, thank you—I’m full.”

You might hear me say no to food, but it won’t be because I’m full. If it’s food I love (and not dessert), I’ve got the restraint of a pack of raccoons who’ve just found campfire leftovers. On special occasions (i.e. weekends and vacation), I like to eat until I’m full up to my collarbones. Some days—especially when traveling—my lone goal is to get hungry again after a meal. And I’m not ashamed to admit that when I’m greeted by that first hunger pang, it feels like such sweet victory—like precious hope in a dark, dark world.

“I don’t really care who wins the game.”

I have to root for someone. Even if I’m not following the teams or the series or the sport—if it’s on—I have to root for someone. I can’t be ambivalent. If nothing else, I just need a good human interest story on one of the players, and I’m set.

Me: Who are you for?
Jocelyn: Oh, no one really—I don’t really care about this one.
Me: No, come on—help. If it’s gonna be on, I need to root for someone.

The following are the types of things I’m looking for at this point—to tip me to one team or the other:

Jocelyn: Their coach is that one who made it to his 14th conference championship, but still got fired.
Jocelyn: A Utes win would help the Zags.
Jocelyn: Their running back got arrested for domestic violence.
Jocelyn: #4 has the little sister who can’t walk and he carries her everywhere.
Jocelyn: Their shooting guard wasn’t expected to ever play again after his compound fracture.

“There’s no hope for that situation.”

I believe there is hope for everything. Hope is what gives life color. Prayer—and a basic understanding that we don’t know a fraction of what we think we do—tells me that there is always hope.

“Here, take a picture of me drinking out of this straw!”

“And make sure to snap it when my eyebrows are raised mid-drink!” I just hate those posed drinking-out-of-the-straw pics. I can’t explain it. And the recent “Slurpie Day” was just an excuse for everyone to post one and dampen my day.

“Just sayin’.”

Unless you were raised by a honey badger (an animal who truly does.not.give.a.$%#@), then I challenge you to start taking steps to break this fall-back phrase habit. I understand how tempting it is to say what you want—no matter how hurtful or bossy or judgmental—and then smooth it over with a shrugging “jus’sayin’; but please stop.

It’s now so prevalent that people are ending posts and comments with “JS.”

“Well he sure is dumber than a box of hair. JS.”
“The sound of her voice alone makes me wish she’d burst into flames. Just sayin’.”
“My day would improve if she’d go play in traffic—jussayin.”

“Just sayin'” and “Bless her heart” are not get-out-of-being-a-jerk passes.

“I’m not reading anything at the moment.”

Lord-willing, you’ll never hear me say this. I read a lot and can’t imagine my life without books, stories, characters—and the joy they bring.

“Oh here, let me just throw this bloody Band-Aid down for the next person to see.”

I hope this is self-explanatory. Pretty much any awesome day can be wrecked by one sullied Band-Aid sighting.

“Nah, Mexican food just doesn’t sound that good today.”

This nonsensical statement is akin to, “I’m actually pretty ambivalent about oxygen today” or “I’ve never really bought into the wisdom of needing all 10 fingers.”

There is not a day on earth when I couldn’t get down with some tacos. Or burritos. Or chips and salsa. Or all of the above.

“Traveling is a hassle. I think I’ll just stay home.”

Nope. Hassles always arise when traveling—always. But the trade-off isn’t even in the same ballpark for me. A little airport or luggage nuisance in exchange for exploring the world and seeing new things? I’ll “endure” that any day, any time, anywhere. Almost anywhere.

“You relax—I’ll tie those balloons for you.”

I don’t want to blow them up either. I go too fast and too hard and end up hallucinating that Rue McClanahan has come back to cross stitch with me.

“I don’t care what kind of grocery carts they have.”

FALSE. Target’s new, chunkier carts have ruined me for all other carts. I’m obsessed. It feels like I’m pushing around a weightless hover craft. They make me want to sing and skip and do good deeds.

Additionally, there are no words for the sheer and utter joy those smaller half-carts bring me. They’re like little speedy athletes with the agility of a gymnast, the focus of a goalie and the eagerness of a Wimbledon ball boy.

If anyone ever combined the two carts, I’m not sure I’d make it out alive.

“You’ll never hear me refer to the universe as a living thing.”

“The universe has a way of …”, “The universe lets us know we should …”, “This is what the universe has told us …”, “This is what the universe asks of us …”

Never. Like, ever.

“Hmm, I haven’t heard from Whatsherface in a while; I think I’ll poke her on Facebook.”

“Why aren’t you breastfeeding?” or “Why are you breastfeeding?”

Why won’t you ever hear me ask this? Because it’s none of my business, and I assume a mother has a very good reason for her choices. Oh, and I’m not the breastfeeding police. Oh, and that’s right—it’s none of my business. Or did I already say that?

“I’m not a crier.”

I’ve been able to say that truthfully most of my life. But I’ve now come to accept that I can’t see a soldier’s reunion with a loved one or a marriage proposal, and not cry. I’m not a weepy, soppy mess—and I don’t cry over much else—but these two things start the waterworks. I also cry sometimes when I hear the song, O Holy Night. Not so much the David Archuleta version, as the Celine Dion one. And sometimes I cry when the food is over.

“Tush”, “Tushy” or “Bum.”

It’s butt, bottom, ass—or nothing. I remember once, a long time ago, I read a quote from Freddie Prinze, Jr., and he said someone was looking at his “tushy.” No. No, no, no. FPJ was instantly dead to me. He was a grown damn man calling his own butt a tushy. Maybe, maaaaybe if he’d been talking about his baby’s bottom, I could have let it go. But he wasn’t. And I no longer had a place for him in my life.

Do you have things you’ll never say?

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

 

Why I Have Trust Issues

Overall, I’m not a distrusting person. I actually trust people wholeheartedly—trust that they’ll annoy, dismay and fascinate me. I rely, with confidence, on my instincts, and feel I’m a good judge of character. But I can’t deny the fact that I do I have some trust issues—and I have a pretty good idea why.

1. Shazam.

I’ve never once gotten Shazam to think I’m the artist. No matter how perfectly in key I am, how meticulously my timing is or how precisely I rap 16 bars, the app has never once popped up with the original artist and title after hearing me sing. I just find that so sketchy. How is it absolutely certain it’s not hearing an acapella version of the song?

trust issues

2. Two-faced.

Sometimes I think a person looks like an entirely different person—with different temperaments and different insecurities—if I just look directly at their left eye or right eye. Yeah, I know everyone’s eyes are slightly different, but some people have a totally different look in each of their eyes—so different that I think one eye could have committed a crime while the other was writing a sonnet. When I have the chance (if the person hasn’t busted me staring), I’ll study their two personalities until I decide which one I like best, which one I’d trust to have my back in a street fight, and which one would make the prettiest babies.

3. DVRs are spiteful.

DVRs wreck my trust, because 99 times out of 100, when I hit pause, it freezes the absolute worst look any actor or athlete could ever have. I simply cannot take that call or run to the restroom while someone’s face is frozen like a drunk monster. I just feel so bummed for them. I’ll un-pause and re-pause a dozen times if needed, to find a suitable face we can both feel good about.

4. Makeup contouring.

Every single thing about this trend has my body in a cauldron of distrustful emotions. See the image below or simply Google “face contouring makeup” if you want a full dose of this madness—or watch here if you want to unite in head-shaking shock with me.

trust issues

Unless you’re a model or actress, why on earth would you want to look so vastly different from your natural self? I’d never want to set people up to be so sorely disappointed—not with contouring, not with lip injections, not with colored contacts.

Side Note: I think the only cosmetic surgery I’d sign up for is a thus-far-undiscovered procedure to replace my least important finger with Cherry Chapstick.

5. Discontinued.

How is it that certain flavors, candy and scents have remained for decades, but all my favorite things cease to exist at fairly normal intervals? So, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are still hanging in there, but my favorite spicy dish at Pei Wei was written off about a year ago? How do spicy veggies and noodles go out of style? My favorite Sephora lotion went bye-bye recently, yet original Noxzema is still in the game. My favorite Bath & Body bath scent was discontinued last year—forcing me to re-order it from eBay while it lasts—but they still keep pumping out Juniper Breeze (or as I refer to it: instant stomach ache.) All of it makes me distrusting of my life and my disposable choices. If normal, good things can come to an end, then what else can come to an end? Sunshine during the day? MY MOTHER’S LOVE?!

trust issues

6. Good sportsmanship.

I get choked up by good sportsmanship. Players helping up opponents—even in the heat of battle—ends me. Athletes checking on their competition when they look hurt—has me reaching for Kleenex. When both teams circle around an injured player like they’re all one tribe—I can barely deal. So why does this topic feed my trust issues? Because sometimes, those jackasses won’t accept the opposition’s offered hand when they need help getting up. And when that happens, I feel the rejection all the way in my own living room.

Then there is this … which is awful … ly funny.

trust issues

trust issues

7. Comic strips:

I’ll just come right out at say it, then shield my face from your swinging fists. I don’t like comic strips. I don’t care if they’re funny or smart or even borderline genius; my brain shuts off when I see them. Even if they’re just out-of-this-world awesome, I’d never know, because I simply can’t make myself read them. I have no idea why this is so, or why they look no more appealing than a sheet of algebra to me, but I’ve finally just resigned myself to the fact that they’re not my thing. Decades of consistently adverse reactions to them have forced me to accept their non-existent place in my life.

The trust issues surface when people, who I hoped were like-minded, walk up to me and hand me one, awaiting my certain laughter. I trusted you not to put me in the awkward position of pretending to read it/get it/like it. You’ve burst our trust bubble with your thoughtless assumptions and forced me into a scene of false camaraderie. Oh, you thought I’d get a kick out of it? Well I thought you’d pick up on my disdain for tedious stories told in squares with weird illustrations—so great, now neither one of us trusts the other.

8. Google’s attitude.

Have you ever googled something like, “womens dresses”—wait, me neither—how about, “womens jackets” and Google returns a list, but the top line says, “Did you mean women’s jackets?” When did Google get so high and mighty? What’s with the punctuation police? It’s such a passive-aggressive, condescending question—did you mean WOMEN’S JACKETS, Moron? The Google I thought I knew would return endless results with the header, “Got it! Including options for womens jacket, women’s jackets and anything in the female jacket ballpark!” I always thought of Google as this cool, accepting type who didn’t judge. I mean, it does fine with disasters like this:

trust issues

… but it’s gonna get all in my face about an apostrophe? #TrustIssues

9. Pizza gone rogue.

I love good pizza. I could eat it everyday. I’m pretty picky about crust, but not all that hung up on ingredients. I try to be a good pizza eater and not insist on only my favorite toppings; so, I feel completely bamboozled when I open up a nice, hot, fresh pizza box and the pizza is cut into squares. WHAT AM I LOOKING AT HERE, PEOPLE.?! Why would any reputable pizza place opt to cut pizza into … pieces … rather than slices? If a place cuts a rectangular pizza into squares, I’ll be upset and never go there again, but if place cuts a perfectly normal, round pizza into squares, I won’t even associate with anyone who speaks of this establishment.

trust issues

Side Note: I feel the same way about waffle fries. Get out of here with that child’s play. I can just hear some of you right now, “What?! Waffle fries rule! Hello—Chick fil-A?!” Yep, I know. And those weirdo potato waffles are a big barrier between me and their supposedly good chicken.

10. My own irrational thoughts:

When I spot someone existing in oblivion—in public—I feel capable and ready to take the hit. If they’re walking around unaware of the humans around them, and I can tell they might actually run into me, my adrenaline kicks in and I relish the idea of absorbing a good blow. I’ll sometimes even change my path slightly so they run into me. I know this isn’t normal behavior, but I feel like I need to teach them a lesson—and I don’t see any of you people stepping up to the plate.

Side Note: I have especially serious trust issues (with myself) because I’ve been known to consider taking a hit on the highway. Obviously not when trucking along at high speeds; but when I’m getting tailed too closely by some douche kabob … or see a ditzy teen on her phone, swerving around, I’m not above at least letting the altruistic collision play out in my mind.

Since misery loves company, I’ll wrap up with this image. You’re welcome.

trust issues

Trust issues at an all-time high … Taylor and Bruno.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

Pinterest Lies Sometimes

Between Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, we have no shortage of life nuggets, quotes and sentiments crossing our paths everyday. Some are good; some are funny. Some of them make us feel understood and validated. But a lot of them are just … lies.

lies

Pinterest is a well-oiled, fine-tuned, lie-spreading machine.

biscuits

Thank you Dwight. Did Kate Moss start this lie? The only way this quote is true is if you replace the word “nothing” with hot wings, guacamole or ravioli. Being fit feels good—there’s no doubt about that—but you know what else feels good? Seeing the waiter walking up with your enchiladas.

DAyes

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.47.33 AM

This is terrible advice. Just really bad. At least 19 times out of 20 it is. I can think of several things that feel right when I’m mad, but a pair of lips on mine isn’t one of them.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.50.18 AM

Wrong. Coffee is pretty plentiful in these parts. So is Tex-Mex. What about growing herbs like rosemary? That’s pretty easy. The all-or-nothing language in so many quotes makes me combative.

nothungry

First of all, I don’t care for your tone. You sound like a bully—and you don’t know me. Secondly, I actually am hungry. I’ve been drinking water all day, and I don’t get bored, so stop trying to be the boss of me, and go get me a corn dog.

readingquote

I wish someone other than C. S. Lewis had said this, because I feel bad saying he’s wrong. But, of all the reasons I read, this isn’t one of them. Sometimes I just wish quoters would preface their quote with, “I believe that” so I’m not enticed to poke holes in their genius.

reading

Did Oscar really say this? I do like his quote, “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go,” but I’m not down with the one above. I read a LOT, and have done so most of my life, but I’m just not into re-reading books—even ones that changed my life. So for this quote to be true, Oscar the Grouch just thinks I shouldn’t read at all? I reject this!

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.45.01 AM

This quote is in the, “Love is hard” and “Relationships are hard” camp and they all make me want to scream. Not all relationships go through hell. Some do; a lot don’t.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.51.53 AM

Oh boy. I triple love the bottom half of this. It’s the first line that gives me pause.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.52.27 AM

What about a Bugatti? How about the BMW i8 I see at work everyday?

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 11.09.38 AM

Are we absolutely sure about this? I mean, I love the sentiment SO MUCH, but are we positive? How are we coming by our facts here? I’m pretty sure there’s a healthy competition within some bushes and bouquets.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 11.14.21 AM

How about if it just fits? Like, let’s just buy one that fits.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 11.17.21 AM

There’s no way that large pizza is my best teacher.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 11.17.55 AM

My love for Tina Fey knows no bounds, but I can only hope this isn’t fully true. I actually pulled an ab muscle laughing at the food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids. I didn’t have a stitch in my side—I pulled a muscle. So if Tina is right, this does not bode well for my intellect.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 11.16.08 AM

I have no problem with these ethics (well, except for the first one—many people believe AFTER they pray.) But two hyphens are ill-spaced and there are around 5 inconsistencies in capitalization. And then there is the lone period at the end, like maybe the whole thing was a sentence. These things trouble me.

ethicsfixed

There; that’s better.

fabulous

I’m not sure this is sound advice. Helping friends move doesn’t feel all that fabulous. Buying a new water heater doesn’t feel great either—and neither does keeping a black outfit for funerals, but we should still probably do all three.

Now we need to get into some house-related pins. Y’all know I love Pinterest, but I do believe it encourages and lifts up bad behavior.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.51.17 AM

What?! Someone took time to design this! I think people who aren’t tidy believe that tidy people spend all their time cleaning—and doing so instead of having fun and living. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you pick up after yourself, you save yourself exponentially more time later. The math of that should be pretty easy to figure out; but honestly, it’s so much more than that for me. Tidiness brings me peace and clarity. I have a clean house and a very much not wasted life.

logofffb

I actually love this pin.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.41.12 AM

Here is another one I come across a LOT. Every time I see it, I just want to hide my face in my clean pillows and pretend most moms don’t actually believe these two things go hand-in-hand. I hope they don’t chalk up an unhappy kid to sanitized counters and vacuumed floors. Has a child ever yelled, “Why can’t we have spoiled food and filthy floors like Eric’s house?!?!!” before storming away and slamming his door? (no.)

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 10.42.44 AM

Gross. I mean fine, of course let’s make a huge mess with the kiddos. Who cares about messes while making memories—get dirty and envelop yourselves in chaos. I think it’s wonderful! But please clean up afterwards. The memories have been made, so we’re solid there and should just go ahead and clean up now.

messyhouse

Let’s talk about how Pinterest makes people extra cocky.

offendingppl

Offending people isn’t a lofty, worthwhile goal. Neither in our head, nor on social media should our ability to offend be celebrated.

pieceofcake

What are you doing in your life to upset everyone? This is a question worth pondering after you boldly pin this to your “Imma Do Me” board.

bitchology

No. Nope. This isn’t actually the meaning. Being a bitch (or bitty as my mom calls it) doesn’t have much to do with this pin—proven by this conversation that has never taken place in the history of the world:

Tina: I have this friend who stands up for her beliefs and her loved ones.
Danette: What a bitch.

real people

When you pin this, it makes you look like you don’t understand life or basic vocabulary. Every “real” person I know gives a shit. A more accurate pin would be, “Fake people have an image to maintain. Arrogant people don’t give a shit.”

Great, now this is a profanity-laden post—and that’s gonna put me on my mom’s shit list. I believe there’s a pin for that.

mother

See what I did there?

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!

Coziness Of The Soul

I crave small, cozy places and amber-lit spaces. I swoon over the soul-fulfilling ambience of food and drinks, laughter and joy—shared with mindfully-present people I love.

But I had no idea this deep-rooted affinity for authentic conversation—and coziness of the soul—had a name.

Hygge. (pronounced hue-gah)

hyggefeeling

It’s Danish, and it’s the concept of being present … of creating a warm, comfortable atmosphere that makes us feel rooted and connected. It’s about our behavior towards one another, and the coziness and shelter found through reciprocal giving and receiving. It’s the art of creating intimacy, camaraderie and contentment all in one—and it often occurs around a candlelit table, while sharing good food, good drinks and good conversation.

hygge13

Hygge nourishes the soul, and is presumably the #1 reason Danes are considered the happiest people in the world. You heard me—the happiest people in the WORLD.

Before you turn into a 2nd grader and start making faces behind the Danes’ backs and whine-chanting, “Woo-hoo, I’m Danish and I’m the happiest person who ever freakin’ lived,” you need a few facts. Scandinavians experience some of the darkest winters in the world. They are accustomed to long, cold months, where the sun emerges for a few lonesome hours a day. Just reading that will lead half of the U.S. population to a Seasonal Affective Disorder diagnosis.

Yet, people have settled in Scandinavia for thousands of years—essentially choosing to “suffer” through darkness and cold. Why?

Hygge.

“Hygge is, at its essence, the feeling of warding off the dark and cold through the light and love of those around you,” says Philip Trampe.

hygge10

From hot tea, cocoa and wine … to candles, crackling fires and conversation, it’s the art of creating a place where people can lay the hustle aside, while adding another log to the fire, allowing the candle wax to run and absorbing tranquility—without distractions or the noise of the outside world.

And while no other language has a direct translation, words like coziness, security, comfort, fellowship, simpleness and living well are often used to describe the idea of hygge.

Side Note: Of the many attributes of hygge, there is one common—dominant, prominent—thread. Candles. Always candles. In windows, on tables, on stairs, with every meal (even breakfast). Danes feel that lit candles dispel the gloom and defy the long dark hours of winter. They believe there is no distinction between time worthy of candlelight or not. The warm, signature glow is at the core of hygge.

hygge11

In outlining the components of hygge, have you noticed the exclusion of smart phones, TV, drama, heated debates and hurried schedules? Yeah, Danish people don’t partake in the glorification of busy. #blessthem

Hygge is all about celebrating reality, being present and mindfully enjoying the moment with good people, in a warm setting.

But let’s not gloss over “celebrating reality.”

No, none of these.

No, no, no. NOT THESE.

I’ll tell you what that means to me—someone who is not Danish, not living in Denmark and not in the middle of a very dark winter.

It means being in a cozy space with people I love and people who love me; people who want the best from and see the best in each other; people who are too busy being happy for and proud of each other to feel competitive or threatened. It’s us celebrating life’s victories—getting raises, getting the baby to sleep all night, getting better at life—because through those wins, and our shared affection, we all feel lifted. It means being with people free of motives and full of a desire to share in daily joy, good news, successes and answered prayers; people who enjoy talking about pop culture, but also like talking about gratitude, the absolute hilarity of life, acting better, living longer and loving stronger.

It means laughing; because we know that a good, hearty, lose-your-mind-laugh-fest—that builds and spreads and ends in a blinding, breathless pounding on the table—adds a full 365 days to our lives. A mind lost in laughter finds stress healed, anxiety deadened and worry abated. Shared laughter pumps hope into our cells and creates wellness, memories and love.

rafafederer-o

Federer and Nadal actually laughed like this for about 14 minutes straight.

My idea of hygge also means … a second helping and another round, as the candles burn down a little more. It’s not about focusing on rotten people, destructive conspiracy theories, unspeakable tragedies or overly partisan politics; it’s ensuring that after the deluge of negative news and Debbie Downers all week, we’ll take an evening and let the good stuff in. We’ll allow the intrigue of life to nourish our minds and hearts—not pretending everything is good and right, but making sure all the things that are good and right take center stage: a child’s good week at school, a nephew’s home run, a friend’s kid finally asking his crush out (and her saying yes), a project at work that turned out better than you hoped, a loved one’s answered prayer, a parent’s successful transition into retirement (and a fun conversation on why they deserve it), your friends who worked out the problems in their marriage and are stronger than ever, your friends who couldn’t work it out but have successfully put their children first. I want to talk about Heaven and grace and books and why babies are really just tiny drunk people.

IMG_7413

If you’re thinking this sounds great, but isn’t realistic, I have a theory. Your circle is too wide. If you’re having trouble imagining being surrounded by people you can do this with, your circle is too wide. The unworthy people you’ve let in are making it impossible for you to envision hygge. Your “friend” who instigates, your “friend” who sees the negative in everything (and if unable to find it, creates it), your “friend” who only wants the best for you as long as it’s not better than hers, your “friend” who may or may not take up for you when given a chance.

I learned a long time ago that I’m happy with quality over quantity—in all facets of life—but especially with my inner circle. I’m meticulous and unwavering in choosing the people I truly let in. That leaves me with a small, loyal, trustworthy and wonderfully fulfilling inner circle to whom I’m extremely devoted and who faithfully love me back.

We’re talking about inner circles here, not regular everyday friends and acquaintances; it’s not rocket science, so don’t panic. I’d just encourage you to be very judicious with whom you surround yourself, and get comfortable with the fact that you are not obligated to include anyone in your inner circle who doesn’t feel right to you.

Side Note: I have far too much to say on the topic of inner circles and eliminating toxic people from your life for a side note, so perhaps we’ll revisit this. But I will say that toxicity isn’t usually anything overtly evil; it’s typically very personal and subjective—meaning, a lot of times, it’s just you “knowing” someone isn’t healthy for you. If you’re confused and wondering if you have a toxic friend, then just know this much … if you have a friend who competes with you (in life, not in Trivia Crack) … that’s not a good sign. A competitive dynamic overrides a supportive friendship—and you’re never going to alter the actuality of that. So once you identify this issue, you need to know that it’s absolutely and unequivocally OK for you to shift gears and change lanes. I implore you to not give toxic people—or people on the periphery of your inner circle—access to your life. Again, we’re not talking about being cruel or never conversing—we’re talking about access to the inner workings and private, personal parts of your life. Those areas are for people who truly love and protect you.

love&protect

Imagining the comfort and security of hygge forces you to think about who, in your life, would fit into that environment. Knowing it’s a warm atmosphere and a time to enjoy the good things in life, with good people—who do you want with you? I hope you can name a few. My family and friends are at my table. All are eating, some are drinking, a few are talking and a few are listening, and most—thank goodness—are laughing.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!

80% Girl

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really a girl.

Every week I tilt my head at something I hear or read. Last week it was, “Every girl needs a pair of killer heels.” Uh-­oh. Not only do I not have or want any, I don’t actually “need” them—because I have Sperry’s. Even with my vivid imagination, I can’t fathom how killer heels would enhance my life. (All the things you’re yelling at the screen are things I don’t want.) If I could come up with even one benefit that made sense to me, then maybe I’d hit up DSW; but, as it stands, if every girl needs killer heels—and I don’t—then I guess I’m not a girl?

But wait, wait, wait. I enjoy loofahs and talking things out and doodling hearts in the margins. I also like reading into conversations, taking things out of context and perusing every aisle at Target—except the pet one—so I AM a girl, right?

Thank you, Oprah.

Thank you, Oprah.

I also heard this one recently: “Every girl deserves to go to a ball.” First of all, that’s just not true. I know a lot of girls who deserve to be grounded and strictly forbidden from going to balls. Second of all, I have to assume that ball attire requires killer heels, so thankfully, I’m out. Going to a ball appeals to me none percent. It requires shoes I oppose and a pretentiousness that pricks my baby skin. I’m also assuming the football game won’t be on anywhere at the ball, right? Do people who host balls serve anything in the buffalo-blue-cheese-slider family? I’d need to know this before I decided if I really and truly deserved to go to a ball like every girl supposedly does.

This one you’ve all heard, and I could write a dissertation on it, but I won’t. “Every girl wants to be a princess.” People, not only has that never crossed my mind—or taken up even momentary residence in the chamber of my heart where dreams reside—but I want to be a princess about as much as I want to be a lobster, in a pot of boiling water, being prepared for the main course, at a ball I don’t want to attend.

What is the appeal of being a princess? I’m asking because I genuinely want to know and understand this breed.

I can list 5 really quick things that make me not want to be a princess.
1. Their voices are annoying.
2. They wear gowns and killer heels.
3. The have to eat politely … and in small quantities.
4. Their hair is long and they wear it down. All the time.
5. Most of them are dainty, demure and seemingly helpless.

6. Some of them have flippers and act like this.

6. Some have flippers and act like this.

I don’t even want to be friends with anyone over the age of seven who wants to be a princess. I’m sorry—that’s just not a thing. In my mind, that’s just not even a thing. Wanting to be a princess is like wanting to be a figurine. That’s something every girl wants? Like, when they’re stone-cold sober? Ladies, is that true? To the readers who are out of footed pajamas and who don’t still have baby teeth, do you dream of being a princess?

I’m not asking if you want to make babies with Prince Harry. I’m for-real asking, do you really dream of being a princess? I mean, if you do, that’s fine, I guess … I dream of us going on an African safari with Roger Federer and his wife and two sets of twins, and capturing phenomenal shots of giraffes while the sun is setting, but it’s not like I go around saying and tweeting and posting, “Every girl wants to go on an African Safari with Roger Federer and his wife and two set of twins and capture phenomenal shots of giraffes while the sun is setting!”

Nope—no, I don't.

Nope—no, I don’t.

It’s no secret that I like the smell of Home Depot as much as the smell of Sephora. The ambiance of both stores makes my whole body happy. And most of my people know I’d rather watch the NFL Draft than the Oscars.

Side Note: I know something I dream of. I dream of being on the red carpet at the Oscars one day, simply so that when Mario Lopez asks me “who I’m wearing” I can clutch my locket and sigh, “Aunt Norney … I miss her so much.”

But I know I’m still a girl because I have boxes full of old cards, letters, pictures and diaries, and I’d put someone in a full nelson and snap his collarbone if he tried to throw them out. Uh-oh. Only guys do full nelsons and bone-breaking things, huh? Whatever. Still, the high sentimental factor makes me a girl—admit it.

“Every girl dreams of and plans her wedding day from the time she is five.” Really? Like, really­ really? I fully understand dreaming of and planning your marriage, but the wedding? So you’re saying, for 20 years straight, every girl plans those few hours of her life? Every girl? All of us? Dang it—there I go, not being a girl again. But it doesn’t add up, because I love to take long baths and daydream about Britney and Justin getting back together … and in time to have a baby. This is in the girl category, right?

Bang.

Bang.

“Every girl knows where to get the best brunch.” Sigh. Don’t get me started on brunch. It’s NOT “the best of both worlds—breakfast and lunch combined.” It’s HALF of both worlds, without being as good as either. If I have to “do brunch” to be a girl, then I’ll pass, because there are too many good places for afternoon craft beer, hot wings and Neapolitan pizza—none of which will include an egg or Hollandaise sauce.

“Every girl deserves to be treated like a princess.” Again I say, “Not true.” Have you met every girl? This is patently false, because a lot of girls deserve to be treated like the wicked witch of the West. And besides, gross. Why is this so gross to me? I’m fully down with being treated well and being respected and even waited on—for special occasions—but the notion of being treated like a princess gives me the shakes.

I saw a pin on Pinterest the other day and it was an image of a dress and shoes and accessories laying on a bed … with a note on top of it all that said, “Wear this and be ready at 7:00.” Then the caption on the pin said, “Every guy should do this for his girl at least once in his life.”

gag1

I’m not on the market, but if I was, and a guy did that, I would fracture my eyeballs rolling them. Please don’t dress me. The “be ready at 7:00” part is kind of sexy and bossy, but please leave the clothes and accessories purchase out of the mix. That’s not cute.

One thing that makes me feel A-OK about my supposed partial-girl status is The Bachelor. I can’t watch it or even listen to people discuss it, because of the way the girls act on the show. It makes me happy to separate myself from their ilk. I’d rather watch a 10-part A&E series on Houdini’s cousin than two minutes of The Bachelor. But bear in mind, I can watch HGTV until my legs go numb. So who’s the girl now?

I wish society would just stop trying to convince me I’m not a girl, because minus the brunching and killer heels and dressy galas and pukey princess and Bachelor stuff, I’m 100% girl. Or at least 75%—maybe 80% if my obsession with wanting Beyonce and Jay-Z to stay together counts.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Voluntary Torture

Last week I woke up with a crick in my neck. Or maybe it was in my shoulder or trapezii. I’m not sure—but it was something in my upper third. I couldn’t pinpoint the origin of my suffering; I just knew it kept me from break dancing or rolling my neck when I told someone off. I tried to regain mobility by stretching and pulling and complaining—but, to no avail. It was time for Happy Feet.

Happy Feet is a massage place we like to visit when we fancy a proper mauling. Its name is deceptive, as they specialize in total body massage—not just feet. You can opt for hour-long packages that divide time between your feet and body in a number of ways. I always do the 30/30, because, while I do enjoy a good foot and lower leg rub, enough is enough.
… keep reading

Patience Cards™

T: West, can you spare a few Patience Cards™?
Me: Sure, what’s up?
T: My mom called and they’re having issues with their router. She asked if I could come help my dad sort it out.
Me: *sympathetic silence* Please take what you need.
T: I wouldn’t ask, but I just loaned my sister my last two PCs™ because our cousin needs help with her resume.
Me: What’s mine is yours. I have nothing in the foreseeable future that necessitates any, so take ’em. Godspeed.

Patience Cards™ were born out of a desire to be patient with people you love. … keep reading

Fear Factor

I think of myself as pretty courageous. I mean, I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I’m also not afraid to take some risks or speak up when it’s difficult. I’ve lived all over the country and never hesitated to venture out on my own and explore new places.

Side Note: There was that one time, years ago, when I was driving from Indiana to Rochester, Michigan and my low fuel light came on. No problem, I’ll just pull into this convenience store and gas up. WRONG. The clerk came out and told me to keep moving. I guess being 24 and irresistible in Detroit after dark isn’t a great combination. What’s that you say? I am resistible? Noted.

But back to the point. I’d say I’m pretty brave as a whole. There are, however, some things that scare the living daylights out of me. I should say tornadoes and death row, but I’m actually more scared at work when I pull open the restroom door to leave and someone’s coming in at the exact same time. Full. on. fright. with scary jazz hands and heart palps.

It’s also no secret that my sympathy pains are second-to-none, which frightens me a great deal during the Winter Olympics. For this reason, I’ve had to take breaks during both the moguls and Bob Costas’ commentary. I simply cannot abide a torn ACL or pink eye right now.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Sympathy conjunctivitis kills.

Another thing that scares me lifeless is turning on my iPhone camera, and being met unexpectedly by a grotesque person I’ve never seen before: me. Why is my camera in front-facing mode and when did I become a sullen grumpy gus who super-sized one too many #3’s at Mickie D’s? What the WHAT is up with that view? Do we really look like that to the world at large? It’s so discouraging when your worst face shows up with an extra chin … unannounced. I go from epic confusion to pitiful self-loathing, in under five seconds. But then that sweet old friend named Denial kicks in and I grab a bag of Takis.

Speaking of photos, I’m legit scared that I’ll be involved in something that lands me on the news and they’ll use a hideous picture of me. I feel like I should handpick one now and make sure everyone in my family has it, just in case. I could send them a file labeled CNNanna.jpg. I should send two actually—one where I look happy and loving, in case I get framed for some terrible crime and people need to see me in a better light. The second one could be me looking humble, modest and unassuming, in case I’ve done something heroic and need to temper the flames of admiration.

My mom and I are scared to death of water treatment plants (and some dams). We’re good with massive oceans or lakes; they’re part of nature and less menacing. And I can’t speak for her—nor can I put my finger on it—but I feel like some unsavory activity is going on in these facilities. We’ve braved the sight of a few dams together (though not comfortably), but a water treatment plant shuts us up and renders us speechless until it’s well in our rear-view mirror.

I can't.

I can’t.

Every time I get a new car, I’m scared I’ll be assigned a license plate that’s got unfortunate letter combinations, like KGB or NIP or FRT. I absolutely hate the F-word (no, not that one, the other one.) Even when it’s used like “artsy-f***sy” or “brain f***.” UGH. I don’t even want to type it, so of course I worry that I’ll get it as my license plate—and God will be on His throne, shake laughing and thinking He’s pretty funny. I think the DMV would show some mercy if I got the sign of the beast, but would those same good folks care that I’m put off by the F-word? What about this one?:

Well that's unlucky.

Well that’s unlucky.

I’m super scared of pirates and beheadings. Please don’t tell me they go hand in hand, because I could maaaaybe handle a couple of weeks with pirates, but only if it didn’t automatically end in a beheading. As much as I hate paper cuts and stubbed toes, I can’t imagine how much worse a beheading would be. But now that I think about it, if all the pirates could just see what I look like on my front-facing iPhone camera, they’d have little use for me. WAIT—unless what they’re after is a breakdancer with nunchuck skills, in which case, we’d have a big problem.

I’m scared of the savage thoughts I think when I hear someone scuffing their feet when they walk. I wouldn’t be frighted of just thinking, “Oh my gosh, pick up your feet,” but the places my vocabulary goes is appalling—not to mention the ways I imagine giving that person a reason to shuffle. I KNOW! I said it scares me! I usually come in peace, but that lazy-scuff-walk makes me go to dishonorable places in my heart.

ladysailor

I’m afraid of how I’ll react when I finally meet some of my favorite celebrities. There is a decent chance I’ll mess it up. I say this for two reasons. Back in the day, when Dr. Phil was just blowin’ up and hadn’t yet become a fixture on Oprah’s show, I ran into him at a bookstore. Someone already had his attention so I hung around, perusing the Western section, until he was free. This is when I blurted out, “I think you’re awesome!”

Not “Hello.” Not “What are you, 6’4?” Nope.

Then there was the time when we’d just hired a lady at work who, for all intents and purposes, was a pretty big deal. I’d seen her speak at a couple of events and was extremely impressed. One day I saw—well ahead of time—that we were going to cross paths. As with the Dr. Phil situation, I had time to think; but couldn’t decide between “Hey” and “How are you?” Things took a sharp left turn when she spoke first, saying, “Gorgeous day out,” to which I replied, “Heee-howwww.”

Hey came out sounding like Hee and How came out sounding like Howwww; which meant, combined, it sounded like an offensive half donkey, half Native American impersonation. And just when I wanted to vanish into thin air, I felt my hands coming together in prayer as I bowed towards her.

So yeah—I’m scared.

I’d like to leave you with one last fear of mine, and that is the very real terror of autocorrect finally winning. I’m not talking about the occasional “her” instead of “get” or “coco” instead of “xoxo.” I’m talking more along the lines of these disasters:

These are MILD examples of my fear.

These are MILD examples of my fear.

It would make me feel better if I could hear some of your irrational fears. Even if you’re just secretly scared that the snow in Sochi is going to melt before the games are over—we’re friends here—and I’d like to know.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!

A Better Love

Happy New Year! I know, I know—it’s almost February, but it’s still a good time to talk about resolutions. My proposition doesn’t require a yoga mat or a Ninja Blender, but it does involve removing the focus from yourself for a bit.

(I just mentally saw some of you backing away. I won’t name names.)

Um, no thank you, please.

Um, no thank you, please.

This resolution is simple: Love (the people you love) better.

Don’t cringe—you love these people! I’m not even talking about co-workers or the table full of unreasonably loud chip-eaters next to you. I’m just suggesting you start with the people you truly love and value.

Side Note: If it’s actually your family eating chips too raucously, then that is something we’ll address another day.

By no means do I want this new resolution to take the place of your original resolution to post fewer selfies—please, PLEASE do us all (and yourself) a favor and stay.the.course.

Also, go ahead and organize your pantry and back up your photos to yet another external hard drive. Give coconut oil a try and see if cauliflower really can serve as passable pizza crust; but, in and around and between all those lofty Pinterest goals, I want to encourage you to just treat your people better. Make an intentional effort to be a better spouse, daughter, mom, sibling, son, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, dad and friend.

If your head is cocked in confusion, then you’re not using your imagination. The very best way to figure out how you can do better is to ask yourself what you would regret if that loved one was no longer in the world or in your life. It might sound slightly morbid, but that’s OK, because it’s eternally important.

Here goes. What would you regret if _______ was gone?

I have a feeling you’ll say things like:
Why did I fixate on the little things? Why didn’t I encourage her more? Why didn’t I thank him for the invaluable life lessons? Why didn’t I make sure she knew how much joy she brought me? Why didn’t I take a day off work and spend it with her? Why did I let our yesterday cloud our today? Why did I tell everyone but him how amazing he was? How could I have ever been too busy to hug her?

And on a smaller, but equally important note, you might ask yourself:
Why did I continue to leave clothes in the washer when I knew it drove her nuts? Why didn’t I rub his shoulders more often? Why didn’t I put my dirty clothes where she asked me to? Why didn’t I surprise her with more dates? Why did I stop leaving him love notes? Why did I play on my phone when I could have been reading to her? Why did I always let my car get below half a tank when I knew it was his pet peeve? Why did I try to temper her spontaneity? Why did I miss his games for meaningless work meetings? Why did we stop talking for hours and replace it with texts? Why didn’t I write him letters when he was serving our country overseas?

When your loved one is gone, the smallest thing is going to send you into a downward spiral of unspeakable sadness. Yes, things like moving a load of laundry into the dryer and remembering how happy that would make her. Yes, things like seeing The Pokey Little Puppy at Barnes & Noble and remembering how she’d curl into you and giggle when you read to her.

A loss is going to be devastating no matter what, but if you can lessen the number of unnecessary regrets AND make your loved one happy, isn’t it worth the effort now? The only thing that will make paralyzing sadness worse is to stack on top of it a profound remorse for which you are now helpless to fix.

I thought we might need a smile break.

I thought we might need a smile break.

So let’s crawl out now, while we can, and resolve to do better by our loved ones. Whether it’s your relationship with your spouse or your mother or your adult child—if you search your mind—you know where you can extend more grace, be more patient and give more effort.

Does your husband do something that gets on your nerves? Like, does he always want to know the plan? “Hey, what’s the plan when your family comes in town next week?” Do you reply with exasperation because it’s a week away and you haven’t even thought about it? Does it annoy you that he continues to ask?

Here’s a tip … he’s probably a hard-wired planner and not likely to change. The quicker you accept this, the better. Just meet him halfway and get some plans going. He’s not asking you to re-shingle the roof or move cross-country. He’s just asking for something that meets his predisposed needs. All relationships are give and take, so just think what you might gain by meeting him in the middle here—this could open up a whole new world of him asking for directions and clipping his toenails in private.

Do we all agree that the majority of arguments start over extremely stupid things—sometimes so little and ridiculous that you don’t even want to tell your friends why your morning is off to a bad start?

Me: How’s your day so far?
Friend: Sigh, just so-so. Brett and I left the house kinda “off” today.
Me: I’m sorry, is everything OK?
Friend: Yeah, it’s fine, it’s just got me off on the wrong foot. It’ll be fine as soon as we text or talk.
Me: OK good. Wanna talk about it?
Friend: Sure, if you’re up for learning how CEREAL can actually cause a fight.

Sometimes you have to sit back and acknowledge that life is short—and grasp that being upset over trivial things OR needlessly contributing to someone’s fury, is a waste of precious time.

You: Hey, what’s the deal? You and Kirk seem like you’re in a fight.
Friend: Ugh, we’re not in a fight, I’m just so mad at him I could spit.
You: Oh no, what happened?
Friend: Grrr. He won’t use exclamation points or smileys when he texts me.
You: *stifles a laugh* Is this something you two can get past?
Friend: Who knows?! I’ve told him a hundred times that I can’t read his tone without them, but he still refuses—it’s infuriating.

I can't live like this.

I can’t live like this.

To the one who feels slighted: Is it possible that you should just always assume his tone is normal and loving, unless there is reason to believe otherwise?
To the one who refuses to text properly: Could you tap the stubborn brake and do what you can to ensure your tone is reflective of how you’re feeling? Could you reply with more than one word, so she gets the reassurance she needs?

I’ll answer these questions for you both: YES, IT IS POSSIBLE and now is your chance to compromise. I can assure you that when he or she is gone, you’re going to wish you weren’t so unyielding.

Another way you can be better to people you love is to tell them how you feel.

I think it’s potentially a big mistake to assume that everyone you love knows you love them—and to what degree. Yes, perhaps your partner (perhaps) … but what about the rest of your family? “Oh sure! I say ‘I love you’ all the time!”

Not so fast. I’ve had instances where people told me something nice or extremely loving another family member said about me and I was stunned. Like, I knew we loved each other, but the details were such news to me. Good news. Life-enriching news.

So, consider that not everyone in your close circle really knows how you feel, and by all means, tell them! It can be a conversation, a letter, a card. Don’t recoil and say it’s too hard. Fighting in Iraq is hard; watching someone suffer with a disease is hard; seeing Odell Beckman, Jr. make that three-finger touchdown catch and realizing you could never do the same thing with 20 fingers is hard … but sitting down with a pen and paper and telling someone you love them—and why—is not hard.

Even if it’s slightly awkward, it takes about 20 seconds to say, “Hey, you know I love you, but I also want you to know that having you in my life means the world to me … and I didn’t want another day to go by without telling you that you’re wonderful and one of the best parts of my life.”

Again, all you have to do is imagine what you WISHED you’d said if you were no longer able to … and say it while you can.

When you’re in your final moments, which of these statements do you think will play through your mind and heart?

A. I wish I had more Facebook likes. B. I wish I had shown people how much I liked them.

A. I regret putting the care of my aging parents first. B. I regret putting the state of my bank account first.

A. I regret spending time with loved ones. B. I regret spending time being angry.

A. I wish I’d made more time for myself. B. I wish I’d made more time for them.

A. I wish I’d spent more time on my diet. B. I wish I’d spent more time enjoying a feast with her.

A. I wish I’d kept up with the Joneses. B. I wish I’d kept up with my old friends.

A. I wish I’d worked harder to get promoted to the corner office. B. I wish I’d made more reservations for us in a corner booth.

See, you didn’t even have to study and you aced it. In our bones, we all know these things. And we’re never going to be perfect. We’re never going to give every person everything they ever wanted—but we can do better. We can be more aware. We can try harder. We can be more selfless. We can and we should.

Let’s make this the one resolution we keep.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter!