Tribes. Revisited.

It was in August of 2016, over 7 months ago, that I last wrote about finding a tribe. It feels like it was only a week ago or maybe a month but that is how time goes these days, fast and furious and recklessly moving forward.

I still strongly believe, maybe even more so now than seven months ago, the following  key things about a tribe:

  1. It’s PEOPLE. Not just one person. I don’t think your tribe (well my tribe anyway) is complete with one person. I think multiple people bring multiple gifts and qualities that make the tribe a richer whole.
  2. Tribes are often formed over time. I think it’s quite rare to step into an already formed group of people who become your friends. I think that is especially rare as I get older. Tribes take time and effort to form. The process is organic and slow.
  3. Tribes change. People move. People move on. People die. People change. The people who make up your tribe will change. I think it is so very important to remember that (especially as we can get set in our ways) being open to new people entering our tribe is a beautiful gift we can give ourselves and the new people who may “join.”
  4. Membership should always be open. This piggybacks a bit on the previous point but I think it is important enough to merit its own mention. If you are part of a tribe, if you have a tribe, if you are a leader of a tribe, please don’t close the membership.

So do I have a tribe? Nope. Not completed yet anyway, but bigger than it was before. Am I still working on it? Absolutely! To reference #3 above, tribes change, and mine is still evolving.

In an effort to evolve my tribe here is a recap of the last half-year. Again, holy crap, how have seven months gone by???

  1.  I have made an effort to talk to people and smile at people and say hello. Even people I do not know. Crazy, right? Yup. I’m that person that smiles and says “hi” if we happen to make eye contact when we are standing in line waiting for coffee. Are you the person who says “hi” back or are you the person who buries your face so deep in your smart phone I would think you were charging the phone with your nose? No judgement, I promise. I have been both those people, but I am trying to do less nose-charging and more “hellos”.
  2. I have especially tried to connect with people even when I feel nervous or awkward because I am not quite sure what to say or do, like if I am at a social event for my kid and there are a bunch of other parents there too. I assume they are feeling nervous or awkward, NOT that they don’t want to talk with me. And I jump right in. As an added bonus I have gotten slightly better at making small talk with random people and I have discovered a few new coffee shops and stores I would never have known about by complimenting people’s shoes or shirts or mugs. Now I just have to figure out how to translate that into a friendship! Baby steps people, baby steps.
  3. I have joined groups that met in person and met virtually online. I have participated and really attempted to connect with the people in these groups. However, it turns out the groups were not quite the right fit for me (like I was the color orange and everyone else with yellow). Everyone I met was very nice and very polite, but I never really connected with anyone. Finally, after six months I was able to say “not my place” and walk away. Which was also kind of scary, because I thought I SHOULD fit and that is why I joined, but then I didn’t. I know though, there are other groups out there and I will keep hunting for that group that is the right fit.
  4. I have been happier knowing I am trying even though it has been hard work and waaaaay out of my comfort zone. Or maybe I am happier because of that nightly foot massage, glass of wine, hot bubble bath, home-cooked meal, no dishes to do… hahahaha, fantasy world people, pure fantasy!  

Tribe2_Blog

So, if I were my own best friend I would remind myself that good things often take time, do not give up, persevere and keep making small talk. Eventually those connections are formed and they grow. Brick by brick is how a castle is built, why not a tribe too? 

Are you trying new adventures and expanding the bounds of your world? Are you already in a tribe and inviting new members into the fold? Are you getting nightly foot massages, glasses of wine, bubble baths, and so on, if YES, then please share your secrets!

 

Bathroom doors.

I think this particular post today is both a glimpse into my life (for those of you who were ever so interested to know what it’s like) and a public service announcement for anyone who visits our house.

We have bathroom doors in our house. We actually have two bathrooms in our house and there is a door for each one. The doors work, meaning they open and they close. This may seem like obvious, well-duh kind of stuff but it is important to note, again, the bathroom doors work.

You wouldn’t know it though if you came to visit our house. The moment my husband or I step into the bathroom and close the door it sets off a strange chain reaction of events tg

Exhibit A: Bathroom door closes. The 20-month old stops whatever she was contentedly doing and suddenly panics that the bathroom (a completely benign space 3 seconds prior) has morphed into a tunnel to another dimension that is going to suck whomever has entered that bathroom into, never to be seen again. Pitter-pat-pitter-pat go the feet in rapid succession as she runs to our rescue. The door crashes open. She breathes a deep sigh of relief that the bathroom has not sucked us into another dimension. She then proceeds to sit on the floor and watch us do our business until we are done, just to make sure that pesky inter-dimensional-bathroom-travel stuff does not happen on her watch. All the while the bathroom door remains open.

Exhibit B: Bathroom door closes. The 4-year-old, also happily ensconced in some activity that requires no supervision whatsoever from a parent, is suddenly seized by the need to ask a question. I am certain the sound of the door closing triggers something in his brain that goes “ASK YOUR PARENT A QUESTION NOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW” and he of course, responds immediately to that primordial command. Knock, knock, knock on the door, then the inevitable question, like “where are my socks” or “why is the sky blue” or “when are we going to go to Hawaii”, and the expectation of an answer right then.  As the answer is being given the door is opened because the four-year-old points out he cannot hear the answer so well and we cannot really have a proper conversation through a bathroom door. (Then wait until I am done in the bathroom and come back out, I briefly think. Ha. Ha. Silly silly thought.) And the conversation continues until we leave the bathroom. All the while, with the door open. (A funny little addendum to this: I have noticed that as soon as we leave the bathroom, the four-year-old ceases to have burning-must-be-answered-right-this-moment questions.)

So, back to the topic of today’s post. We have bathroom doors that work but I am not really sure why, because they are never closed when they need to be.

Conclusions:

  1. The bathroom doors in our house are for guests, not the actual occupants of the house.
  2. If you are visiting our house (as a guest!) be forewarned that when you do your business in the bathroom, even though the door is for you, you may still be visited by a small human.
    1. If it is the 20-month old just continue what you are doing and make sure you do not get sucked into another dimension. We are hoping she will eventually realize people go into AND come out the bathroom AND she does not have to be there to make sure everything is okay.
    2. If it is the 4-year-old be ready to answer some random questions that will just keep coming until you are done. Why are there 7 days in a week? Why does Monday come before Tuesday? What is 7 + 22? Why? What is a number? Why is the tile white? Why are your toes pink? And so on…
    3. We will attempt to run interference in provide you with the glorious privilege of going to the bathroom with a closed door. No guarantees though.
  3. We should get better locks on the doors (because honestly they don’t work very well and that might solve this whole issue once and for all).

Hi. Bye.

There are so many things I could write about, deep, thoughtful, dark-times, hard-decisions kind of things but I find it hard to get started right now and there seems to be enough of that out there right now. So I figured today I would simply say “HI.”

I hope you are a having a decent day. It happens to be Monday when I am writing this, so if you are reading it then, I hope your Monday is decent, but I like all the other days of the week too and I am a believer in equal opportunity when able, so I hope Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and last but not least Sunday are also grand.

I hope you woke up on the right side of the bed today. And if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed I hope a really good cup of coffee, tea, milk, juice, margarita got you going in the right direction. And maybe a hug. Those are good too.

I hope you are looking forward to something fabulous in the upcoming days. Something to dream and think about and keep you motivated to be moving forward. Because there is actual research out there (that I am not going to dig up right now to footnote this because I am really only saying “hi”) that shows people are happier when they have something to look forward to in the future. That seems like a “well, duh” statement, but someone researched it and I read it. So there.

I hope if you are not moving forward then perhaps you are moving backwards. Because sometimes in life we do have to retrace or repeat a few steps to get it “right.” Even though I believe that each time you do something it was “right” for that moment. But maybe you had more lessons to learn, so you were presented with the opportunity to do it again. So, you’re not going backwards, but on repeat. Instead of moving forwards, you are repeating or retracing to learn more lessons. Smart move you!

Finally, I hope you have a nice evening to close out your day. Something with good food or drink to feed your body, good company or solitude to feed your soul, and good thoughts to feed your mind.

Bye.

Two paths.

From far away the paths and end results might look the same. Both paths took a journey of small steps. Both ended up at something big, a goal perhaps. But zoom in close and you find both paths are two very different experiences.

twopaths_blog

On one side you start with a goal. You KNOW what you want to accomplish. You know where you are headed. With a laser-like sense of focus you map out the steps you need to take to get to the goal. The end result is already known. The challenge lies in both figuring out the steps you need to take to get there and then in taking each step. It is a much more linear path.

On the other side you do not start out knowing the goal. You do not know exactly what you want to accomplish. You start out with something you love. You explore that thing you love doing. It takes you a little to the left, a little to the right. The laser-like focus is on exploring and expanding this thing you find interesting. Is it a passion? Hard to say, you like it and you like doing it, but what is it going to lead to? The end result is not so clear. But if you do that thing you love and keep exploring and building on that body of work the path may still lead to a big end result (or not). The difference is you did not start out knowing where you were headed. You started out with curiosity, exploration, a desire to learn more, and a love of what you were doing.

Is one side better than the other? Both end with something big (which may lead to something bigger as you follow another path). Both take multiple steps and require a commitment in time and effort. Both allow for growth and development. But the journey is very different.

I think sometimes I get caught up in trying to make myself follow the linear path. I try to figure out the end result before I start and work backwards to set up the steps. I want a road map. I feel a need to know where I am headed before I even start. And because I do not always know the end result sometimes I do not even start. The truth is I spend a lot more of my life meandering and exploring. I learn and grow and take the less linear path which sometimes leads to something big and sometimes does not. I often feel conflicted about this, like I should know where I am headed and have more of a plan.

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself it is okay to not always know where you are going to end up. Instead be okay with that space of “not knowing.” Be okay with focusing on that moment in time when you are exploring. Be okay with accepting curiosity and curve balls as part of the life you are living. Be okay with knowing that even now, when you have kids and a mortgage and a marriage and bills and a respectable job, that you still may not know where you are headed. Embrace the unrest and see where it takes you. There are big things up ahead. Big and wondrous and marvelous things just waiting for you to arrive.

Stretched.

Have you ever seen an old rubber band? The kind that is a little bit discolored, maybe even gray around the edges, possibly with holes starting to form here and there. You can stretch that rubber band and almost see it working, straining to meet the demands you are putting on it. Those little holes becoming a little bit bigger. The gray edges peeling off. The line of the rubber band becoming ever thinner, sometimes so thin you can barely even see it.

And one of two things will happen. The rubber band will find a way to keep stretching and wrap itself around whatever you are using it for. It bounces back. It holds it together.

Or. The rubber band will snap.

stretched_blog

Sometimes I feel like that old rubber band. Stretched. Trying to figure out how to stretch a little bit further and wrap myself a little bit stronger around whatever it is I am trying to do or balance or manage. How do I keep the holes from growing any bigger? How do I keep my rubber-band-shape so I can still do the job I am supposed to do and contract back? How do I recover when I am stretched a little bit too thin?

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself it is time to take care of yourself. If you are ever feeling like office supplies and comparing yourself to a grimy, old rubber band it is probably time to figure out what you need to do to put a little oomph back in the proverbial tank.

Take a walk. Do yoga. Meditate. Sleep. Eat well. Shower. Take a bath. Read. Cook. Meet up with a friend. Draw. Paint. Build something. Write. Break something. Plant. Bake. Have coffee. Have tea. Nap. Be still. Run. Hike. Camp. Get outside. Swim. See the sun. See the stars. Make a wish. Pray. Laugh. Laugh with a child. Get a massage. Get a facial. Clean. Deep clean. Cleanse.

I hope you are not feeling like a stretched rubber band. But in case you are, I hope something above speaks to you, and you find your way back to a calmer, saner you.

Make time now.

Our office was very busy last week and I had to see patients in one of the dietician’s offices. On her wall was a sign. It said “if you do not make time for exercise and rest you will eventually have to make time for illness.” Hmmm.

A few days later I was flipping through an old issue of Real Simple and there was an article about saving for retirement. One suggestion was to join a gym and commit to an exercise program. The article said that investing in your long-term health would save you money that would otherwise be spent on illness later. Hmmm.

Similar messages. Both suggest that investing in your health and well-being will pay dividends later. OK universe. I am listening. It’s time to start exercising again on a regular basis. It’s time to start investing a bit of time and energy in my health for the long-term.

If I were my own best friend I would dust off my running shoes, dig out my sports bras and get back to the daily ritual of sweat!

How to: Spice up your weeknight dinners

Sometimes I really struggle with the motivation to cook healthy, nutritious, relatively quick-and-easy meals (the kids will eat) during the week.

Sometimes I want to serve up PB-and-Js, mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, or chicken nuggets every night of the week. (Absolutely no judgement if this is what you are doing. I have had weeks where every night the meal came out of a box and all I did was add water. The “vegetable” for the night was a chip that claimed to have vegetables in it. The fruit came out of a can. Nothing wrong with any of this, but I digress.)

Sometimes I want to make a quick run through a drive-thru near me and come home with 10,000 calories of hot, already-cooked food I know the kids will eat.

And then sometimes I decide to really mix it up, which brings us to today’s post!

(Drumroll…..Flashing lights…)

mysterymeal_blog

How to spice up your weeknight dinners:

  1. Cook a homemade meal, then freeze part of it.
  2. Insist that you will certainly not forget what is in that particular container and that you will absolutely 100% be able to tell what the frozen meal is at a later date. And do NOT label it. (This is a vital part of the future fun.)
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 a few times over a few weeks.
  4. Pick a day to have (drumroll again….) “Mystery Meal Night” (Lights flash, cheesy game show host announces “Mystery Meal Night” in a deep, calm, yet excited voice.)
  5. Now open the freezer and pick an unlabeled container to defrost for dinner.
  6. Take bets with your family on what you think is in said container.
  7. Look at said container and muse out loud about what light-brown-tan-red-orange-flecks-of-green meal this might be.
  8. Write your guesses down. Keep a tally over time of who gets it right most often.
  9. Now, defrost and enjoy!

I know. I know. If this is my idea of fun and spicing it up, well… things really have gone downhill. But truthfully my freezer has a few containers in there that I have not labeled. I have absolutely no idea what they are. And while we’re on the topic, why does everything look the same once it is frozen?

So, if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to follow steps #1-9 and have a little fun clearing out the freezer. And then I would buy myself tape and a pen. And I would label every leftover meal that goes into the freezer.

Happy dinner dining!