Category Archives: Advice

Measuring happiness with measuring spoons.

Some days (not very often) I have the opportunity to cook and bake and try new recipes (lots of new recipes). I use every single measuring spoon, measuring cup, mixing bowl, spatula, pot and pan in my kitchen. I have a giant mountain of mess at the end of it all and a bunch of (hopefully) delicious food to eat. And I am so very very happy.

Some days I measure happiness by how many measuring spoons I use. If I were my own best friend I would tell myself to have those days more often. They bring me a lot of joy and feed my soul for days to come. Do you have something like that which you love to do? Do you make the time to do it often enough?

Happiness

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Like the most comfortable pair of jeans ever.

I got my car back this week. It was in the shop for 28 days (supposed to be 10 days but who’s counting). For those 28 days I got to drive a minivan. It was new (only 20,000 miles on it) and had all the gadgets. The doors opened with a press of a button. There was navigation and music and it linked to my phone. Each kiddo had their own captain’s seat. There was a ton of cargo space in the back with the seat folded down. It smelled like nothing.

My car is 16 years old. It has been mine for the past 14 years. It has a lot of miles on it (way more than 20,000). It still has a tape cassette player and does not have keyless driving and the navigation system is me (or whomever else is sitting in the car telling me where to go).  There is plenty of cargo space. And it smells like a lot of things, old leather and rain and stale cheerios and mud and grass and kid barf and so on. And I love it. Getting back into my car was like slipping on the most comfortable pair of jeans ever.

BestJeans

Everything fits. It’s smooshy in all the right places and my elbow rests on the window ledge and I can reach both kids from the driver’s seat. I fully recognize that I will need a new car some day (probably sooner than later). And I fully recognize that the new car I just drove for 28 days was really nice and had a lot of convenient features. But it was not what I knew.

And that is why it is so hard to make changes. That is why it is so hard to start new habits and step into new things or jobs or places or relationships. When you are used to something it is comfortable, like old jeans or your favorite sweatshirt or broken-in slippers. Even if you are presented with something new and wonderful it is so easy to want the old thing or to slip back into the old habit.

So if I were my own best friend I would remind myself that change is hard. It is so much more comfortable to stay with what we know. It is so much more comfortable to keep doing what you are doing (keep driving that 16 year old car or slipping into that old pair of jeans or doing that habit that really is not so healthy for you). But sometimes you cannot stay with what is comfortable and you have to grow and you have to make changes and you have to be uncomfortable. So today I challenge you to think about what has gotten too comfortable in your life and what might need to change. And if you decide to make a change I will be here virtually cheering you on from my broken-in, 16-year-old front seat that smells faintly of stale cheerios today.

Never, never, never…

Never say never say never say never. Beware what you say “never” to… just beware.

I said I would never (99% sure I would never) have kids.

…now I have 2…

I said I would never move to Los Angeles.

…I lived there for 5 years (and ended up really liking it)…

Then I said I would never move back to the Pacific northwest (and away from the sunshine).

… And now I’ve been back in the northwest for almost 8 years…

I thought I would never buy a house, especially an older, quirky, needs-some-love kind of house…

…But I did, and it turns out I probably should not have bought an older, quirky house (it was a lot of work)…

I said I would never move to the suburbs. City living was for me! Preferably downtown, loft-style living.

…Ha. Hello suburban America… And for right now it just makes sense.

I never thought I would wipe my kid’s nose with my hand or co-sleep or go 6+ months without sleeping more than 4 hours in a stretch or cook mac & cheese from a box every week.

…Ha again. I did all of those (and so many more)…

And finally, I said I would never, not ever, no-sir-no, drive a minivan.

…but my car had to have some repairs done and it was the minivan, a two-door hatchback or an F-150 with no back seat to pick from. So another “never” bites the dust (along with any bit of pride or coolness I thought I had retained).

Never

And at this point, if I were my own best friend I would tell myself to stop saying “I will never…” because you really cannot predict where life is going to take you. And I’m starting to believe that saying “I will never…” is a sure-fire way to make that thing happen.  So what have you said “I will never…” about?

Be patient.

I was driving this week and the car in front of me was driving a bit erratically – the stopping and starting were a little herky-jerky and turning was done in increments. Smack dab in the middle of the back of the car was a large yellow sticker that said “New Driver. Be Patient.” And, I was.

BePatient

Imagine if we call came with big yellow stickers. New mom. Be patient. New job. Be patient. Grieving widow. Be patient. Grieving father. Be patient. Recently released. Be patient. Recently dumped. Be patient. Newly single. Be patient. Newly homeless. Be patient. Chronically ill. Be patient. Chronically angry. Be patient. Really hungry. Be patient. Really tired. Be patient. Just moved. Be patient. Just can’t. Be patient. New career. Be patient. New divorce. Be patient. Broken leg. Be patient. Broken heart. Be patient. And so it goes.

If I were my own best friend I would remind myself that everyone, absolutely every single person on this planet, has something they are struggling with today. It is part of being human and being alive. So, instead of getting angry or frustrated or anxious or any number of other not-so-helpful emotions, I will remind myself to be patient. Take a slow, deep breath and simply be patient.

New and different.

Oh my gosh you guys. Oh my goodness. This is the first time in eight years that I have published this blog from a different computer. Not only is it a different computer but it is a completely different operating system (where the heck is everything? why don’t my quick keys work?? argh.). It is also the first time I have (gulp) drawn on the tablet and not on good-old-fashioned pen and paper then scanned it in. I have soooo much to learn. But hopefully this change will result in good things down the road. Sometimes you have to change the tools you are using to change the path you are on. So today’s post is simply about growth. What did you do today that was new or different? Did you scare yourself a little by stepping out of your comfort zone? I know it sounds silly but doing this blog from a different computer and not with my usual tools feels a little scary.

If I were my own best friend I would remind myself to take those chances that push us to grow because without growth we stagnate. And no one really wants a stinky, stagnating blog.

Growth

Instructions plus time and space.

A few mornings ago (pre-caffeine) I was struggling to reassemble a travel coffee mug in the kitchen. Another person in the household provided me with rapid-fire instructions on how to do it, so rapid-fire my brain did not have time to even process the instructions, then took the mug and fixed it for me. I cannot even begin to describe the range of emotions or feelings I went through in that moment but I am going to try.

Grateful for the coffee mug being put back together. Frustration at the mug being taken from me. Excited for the coffee that would fill the mug (yay, caffeine at 6:30 am!). Anger that I did not get the chance to do it myself. Stubborn determination to NOT fix the other one and just leave it on the counter unassembled (you can put it together yourself thank you very much). And stubborn determination to put the damn thing back together, it’s just a coffee mug for goodness sakes. And then… a light bulb of realization hit me.

My stubborn determination to NOT reassemble the other mug is exactly what I see my 7 year old do when he does not get something right the first time. And then… I realized I probably contribute to that. I give him instructions but I do not always give him the time or space to process those instructions and figure out whatever he is trying to do. I know what he needs to do, so it seems very obvious to me, so why is it taking so long?? But this experience made me realize I need to slow down because it is not obvious to him, just like the mug was not obvious to me. I need to allow time and space for things to process and happen.

If I were my own best friend I would remind myself to give space and time along with instructions (for my 7 year old but also for anyone else). I would remind myself to count to 100 before jumping in (not 10). I would remind myself to look at the most frustrating moments as learning and growth opportunities. I would buy coffee mugs that stay in one piece all the time.

And in case anyone out there is curious, yes, I did put together the second mug. It took every bit of control I had to not walk away and behave like a, well, 7 year old, but I overcame and decided to try again (stubborn determination to conquer the mug won out). I successfully reassembled the mug and then successfully drank all the coffee that filled it throughout the day.

Grace. Irony. Or both.

I work in healthcare. One of the aspects of my job is helping people manage a medication that requires frequent lab work and dose adjustments. Part of that management is advising people when or how soon to come back for a recheck and possible dose adjustment.

Some people come back whenever I ask them to come back. Some try to bargain. Some do not come back for as long as possible and require phone calls and letters to remind them to come into the clinic.  One particular patient I work with may wait two weeks to two months later than recommended for office visits. When he does come in I always thank him for being there and we move forward with the visit. I have never scolded him or gotten angry with him for not coming into clinic as some of my colleagues do. He is an adult and it is his decision when to come in for a recheck – he can follow recommendations that are based on what I think would be safest for him or he can do what he chooses to do.

Why am I telling you about this? Well, because taking care of your car can be similar to managing a medication. My car requires oil changes and basic maintenance. The place where I get my oil changed always gives me a sticker with a recommendation for when to return for the next oil change based on time or number of miles. When I finally brought my car in for my most recent oil change I was about 5 months and 500 miles overdue.

Now why am I telling you about getting the oil changed in my car? How do these 2 things relate? Well, it is quite simple. As I pulled into the car care center the man who took my car and checked me in and noted that I was overdue but said “thank you for coming in today to get your car taken care of” was my patient. The same patient who is often overdue for visits with my clinic. The same patient I have never been cross with for being delayed coming back. And I felt the strangest sense of grace and irony.

So if I were my own best friend I would remind myself to practice grace throughout life when interacting with people. You never know what is going on in another person’s life – why they are late, why they are angry, why they are not at their best. And you never know when that same person may offer you grace in return.