Thursday, January 30, 2014

Two Faces and Attitudes

I read something my grandma reposted on Facebook a while back. The story was written by a son about his mom who abused him and then turned around and put on a big smiley face for someone at the door or on the phone. Because of his mother's behavior, this person vowed to be honest and vulnerable about his feelings.

Tonight, my friend Kristen said she heard the hostess at a restaurant ask a woman how her day was. The woman rolled her eyes and said, "Ugh, don't even ask!"

I'm sure countless times in your life you have told someone asking that you are "fine" when really you feel like this

Are you catching onto my topic yet?

This story my grandma shared caused me to think hard about how we should answer, and when or if there is harm in being two-faced. Or, if you answer that you're fine when you aren't, are you even being two-faced?

For example, my grandpa suffered with stage four lung cancer for quite some time. When people asked him how he was doing, no matter how awful he felt, how little sleep he got, or how much he had been coughing, he always answered, "I'm great!"

Is this the same as the abusive mother in the story? I don't think so at all. I think in acting differently, or in putting on a happy face, your motives are what determine whether it's right or not. She acted in deception, to pretend like she was a different (better) person than she was. My grandpa answered as a means of survival, to lift himself up along with everyone around him.

I think that for the sake of survival and getting by, it can be OK for you to answer that you're doing better than you really are. For some, saying, "I'm fine," is a way to avoid having a meltdown to a total stranger. That probably wouldn't be appropriate, or comfortable, for the people involved. And sometimes, if you say something positive enough, it causes you to think it, and then believe it. Maybe you're trying to make yourself feel better, and hey, it works! Fake it till you make it, right?

I do think there's something to be said for the author's resolve in that little story. Being completely honest and vulnerable with people makes it so that we can connect to one another. How can you cheer somebody up if you don't know that they are struggling? How can you relate to others if they act like their life is perfect all the time? How can anyone show compassion if we never see others struggle?

And then, in what situations is it OK to be completely honest like the author wants to be? I wouldn't say it's appropriate with the hostess at a restaurant who my friend Kristen witnessed. The woman responded with a rude tone. Then the pressure was on for the hostess to follow-up and ask why it was terrible, or to frown in sympathy and say, "Well, I hope your night gets better." These would have been reasonable responses, but also probably still a little shallow in their ability to comfort her. Wouldn't the woman have found more solace if she had expressed her frustration and sadness to a loved one or friend? Or maybe her day was so bad, she just couldn't wait until then to express her feelings.

In short, as usual, the answer always depends on the situation. Each situation is different. Each person's motive is different. Each person's response is different, depending on their needs and comfort level. Responding with, "I'm fine," can be just as good as being totally vulnerable and honest in your responses. We shouldn't judge, no matter what someone's response.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Workout Wednesday: The Breakup

My friend Danica did a few Workout Wednesday blog entries a while back. I love this idea and have a few topics rolling around in my head for some future entries. I don't know how consistent I can be, but I'm going to give it a go. And now for my first Workout Wednesday entry: The Breakup.


Everybody… we broke up.

My best friend… The one that knows all of my secrets… The one that’s been with me on days when I’ve been lazy, days when I’ve gotten serious work done… Stayed up with me through sleepless nights… The one that knows how much I sweat and how far I run…

That’s right. I have taken off my BodyMedia armband. My 13-month free subscription has ended, and so has my activity monitoring.

It probably sounds silly to say that my arm feels naked without it on. But think about it… Wearing something nearly 24 hours a day for over a year, and removing it for something besides a shower or swimming or tanning?

Now, don’t be offended when I submit that this could be akin to a returned missionary removing his name tag. Or maybe I can take it a step further and say it would be like removing your wedding ring. While these might bear a lot more symbolic weight than my silly activity tracker, I have grown a serious attachment to this thing. The skin is white where my band usually is. This was a real commitment.

As I try to move on and wean myself off of constantly having my activity tracked, I am searching to fill the void. I’ve looked into new companions like the Jawbone and the FitBit. I am excited at the prospects of a newer, cuter tracker. I’m seeing light at the end of the tunnel--opportunities to try new products.

While my BodyBugg may not be entirely replaceable, I know that other companions have a lot to offer. For example, a smaller, sleeker appearance as the band is worn on the wrist and could pass as a watch. I always got a lot of stares with my armband, and many people asked what it was for. I sheepishly explained its functions like my friends were asking, “Why are you with him?” Nobody will ask about a newer, more discreet band.

With a new tracker, I can set vibrating alarms to wake me up when I am in a light sleep phase so that I don’t wake up exhausted.

A new band would mean that I wouldn’t have to pay a monthly fee. I would just see the data as part of the entire package. Forever. This sounds like it could be a really healthy long-term relationship, guys.

My BodyBugg sure gave me some accurate readings. It collected a lot more data than these new ones ever will be able to. But every relationship has some give and take, right? I can let go of my accurate data for the added sleep/wake functionality, the free access to my data, and the cuter appearance. Plus, my white arm skin will even out. And I can sleep without a bump on my tricep.

It’s been hard being without my armband today. I feel vulnerable and unaccountable. But time heals all wounds. And with the hope of a great sale in the future and some Christmas money in my pocket, I’ll have a new tracker in no time. It will come into my life and fill the void left by my beloved armband.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

An Inventory

So, everyone who knows me knows I am a list maker. I make lists of really weird things. One list I've made for as long as I can remember is all of the Christmas presents I received in a year.

I am honestly not sure why I do this. I don't consider myself to be a very materialistic person. I try not to buy things I don't need. I am grateful for the things I have. So it's not so I can see "how much I got" on paper. I have thought and thought about why I do this, and I have no answer. I don't know if it's to commemorate all I got as an act of gratitude. I don't know if it's to compare Christmases. I don't know.

I am a little (OK a lot) bugged because I had my whole list typed out, but not saved, in Microsoft Word. I had planned on posting it to the blog tonight. Wouldn't you know it? My computer failed to turn back on correctly after I hibernated it, which I always do. That document has sat there unsaved for 13 days. Thirteen days, people! And not once did I lose it or have my computer crash. But of course, the night when I want to post it, I lose it.

Without further ado, here is my Christmas inventory. I apologize if I forgot anyone or anything. Please know it was probably there before my dumb computer ate it.

From Rachel I got:
Wheat Belly

From Kristen I got:
A thermos water bottle

From Julie I got:
A frame that says “joy” in it

From Allyn I got:
A plate of delicious treats

From Ashleigh I got:
A cute Los Angeles mug, some tea packets, and cough drops

From Carmen I got:
An Amish cookbook

From Therese I got:
A moonstone necklace

From my aunt Lisa and uncle Anthony I got:
A coral eternity scarf

From Jake I got:
A rabbit statue for my Chinese zodiac

From Jared I got:
Mini Yankee candles
Polka dot socks

From my parents I got:
No Doubt Tragic Kingdom on vinyl
A red snowflake spatula
A red measuring cup
A cast iron skillet cookie making kit
A digital kitchen scale
Grandma’s secret stain remover
A tropical island calendar
A paper weight with an inspirational quote on it
A foam roller
A zest grater
The Wizard of Oz on Blu-Ray
Les Miserables on Blu-Ray
A beautiful black dress
Snake egg magnets
A purse hook for finding keys
Hershey almond nuggets
Haribo gummy bears
A lot of money

From Patrick I got:
A sweet letter
7 vinyl records (BTO, The Carpenters, The Cars, Foreigner, The Knack, Billy Squier, Styx)
Warm Bodies on Blu-Ray
Back to the Future Trilogy on Blu-Ray
Say Anything on Blu-Ray
Great Gatsby on Blu-Ray

From grandparents I got:

I am so thankful for all I received. But the best part of Christmas was getting to spend some relaxing time at home. Beautiful California weather, a newly remodeled home (that no longer smells like smoke), and delicious local donuts made for a lovely break. Of course, I got sick, and am still getting rid of the remnants of it two weeks later. But it was still a great, long break. 

I am blessed and feel like my 2013 was a whole lot better and easier for me than it was for a lot of people I know. The greatest gift in my life is, has been, and always will be, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It gives me hope and purpose. 

Here's to 2014, and to being almost halfway through the school year with lazy 8th graders!