Unsolicited Comments : Mark It as Spam

We’ve all gotten comments and opinions we never asked for or invited. Things like:

“Oh, you started working again? I guess your husband’s income isn’t cutting it.”

“Your body may not be ideal but at least you’ve got a beautiful face.”

“It must be exhausting having a downs child.”

“You’re so skinny. I wish I could eat anything and not gain weight.”

“I can’t believe you still use the microwave. It causes cancer.”

Think of these messages of ignorance and stupidity as flagged messages in your inbox and send them to the spam folder.

Do we open messages in our spam folder? No, because based on the subject line, we know the content may be harmful or that the message is meaningless to us.

In that same line of thinking, I’ve been relating it to the unsolicited comments I’ve received in real life. It sucks that sometimes these comments are said by people close to us, but the fact is their comment doesn’t do any good. Before letting a hurtful comment fester – giving time to internalize their words, and opening myself up to their message, I simply sort it to spam. The real life version of “unsubscribe” is to respectfully tell them that topic is off limits, what they said was rude, or brush it off by changing the subject.

Don’t open their loaded email. Don’t let their words ruin your day or get you down. Treat spam as spam: delete. Keep your inbox for what makes you feel good and builds you as a person. Don’t let messages that don’t fit that filter ruin the good stuff.

As a rule of thumb, I also sort gossip to junk mail. Bye bye, BS.

 

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Spring Cleaning

First wave of Spring cleaning: my mind!

Start here this year and I guarantee a better physical decluttering experience of your stuff. You live in your home many hours of the day but you live in your mind 24/7.

Toss out thoughts of self hate and doubt.
Organize your goals and plans for the future so you can access them daily.
Dust off personal achievements so you can see how far you’ve come.
Take care of issues that are keeping you from peace.
Last but not least, save room for good things and don’t let negative things sit in their spot.

Building Mentally Healthy Habits

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Who knew it would take my late twenties to understand the concept of self care?

I used to find purpose in myself by keeping super busy or involved in many things and that was taxing on my body, mind, and spirit. I’m ashamed to admit the little time I took for me meant sloppy tooth brushing, avoiding the 2 minutes exfoliating took, and running to bed many times when I could not keep my eyes open with a face full of the day’s makeup. These are necessary little things, right? So I just raced through all that. But it’s more than necessary, it’s ways I care for myself on a practical level.

Now I’m slowing down a bit, making even those little actions more intentional. I’m pausing for a moment to realize how important it is to not always be rushing and to take note that the minuscule things like cleansing my face and applying moisturizer every night are little ways I love the body I’ve been given. And yes, those crocodile legs are worth slathering in lotion. And I’m worth 2 extra minutes of exfoliating too.

If I can intentionally acknowledge I am worth less rushing and neglecting in my daily routines, I can finally move on to bigger things.

‘Rape Whistle’

metal Whistle

 

We met up for sushi. It was a little past noon, midday, and the place we gathered at is in a safe suburbia town. After our meal, we pulled our keys out of our purses and pockets in preparation to leave. As ladies, we all knew keys in hand meant saving a few seconds where we could possibly be distracted and targeted as prey. I know I’ve been told more than a handful of times to have them out and that the end of a key can work as a weapon of self defense if needed.

Diligently shining from all of our keychains was a whistle. Mine, the shape of a coach’s whistle with the little ball inside, all silver. Some of them had flute like whistles that were shaped more like wands in different metallic colors. We all had them. Each one of us.

“Oh hey,” a friend exclaimed, “I see you guys all have rape whistles too.”

It was funny because it was true, but it was also sobering. We were all concerned enough to equip ourselves with a device that basically shrills in case our voices fail us or don’t carry in the midst of harm. If people see a whistle on a guy’s keychain or lanyard, their first thought is that he coaches. If people see a whistle on a gal’s keychain, it’s not even a safety whistle. It’s a ‘rape whistle’.

Most people in their right mind agree that rape is wrong. Because it is. It certainly is wrong. However, even those who believe it’s wrong are divided. One extreme believes that women who may dress or act a certain way or who perhaps venture somewhere late at night are ‘asking for it.’ The other extreme types ALL CAPS flaming messages about people supporting ideas like carrying a whistle, using rape drug detecting nail polish, and locking panties, claiming it tries to shift responsibility on the victims when rape is always wrong and never the fault or lack of preparation of the victim.

There is so much division, and so many limitations are placed on women because rape exists. Whether or not ladies feel safer walking down the street with a whistle, pepper spray, or locking panties, the bottom line is we’ve advanced SO MUCH as a society, but are still dealing with inexcusable rape statistics.

It’s not just women. Men are raped too. The statistics of rape cases involving incarcerated men is shocking. People joke about butt sex in prison and guys ripping other guys a new one, but at the core of their crudeness, what they are advocating is rape. How are we still taking rape so lightly in our culture, in this day and age?

We own our own bodies. They are important, and they are ours. No one has permission to do to our bodies what we do not allow. We are to respect our own bodies and respect others’ bodies. Anything other than yes means no. These simple truths are universally permeable, yet rape still happens. I just don’t get it. I dream that one day in the near future, these simple truths will resound enough to eradicate rape.

I hope that one day, when I pull out my keys, my whistle can truly be a safety whistle, not a rape whistle.

Dad and Daughter Time

I feel like growing up, my family kind of divided stuff. I went on outings with my mom, and my brother did stuff with my dad. I was homeschooled by him for a majority of my primary education so it’s not like he wasn’t around or we weren’t close. In fact, he was the relaxed parent and so Nate and I loved spending time with Dad (and sometimes conning him into our shenanigans.) But it seems like once college hit I just kind of let our relationship coast. My brother spent a lot of time with Dad and I figured it was just like when were were growing up.

Now that Dad’s been retired for over a decade, his mannerisms are very routine and sometimes scarily robotic. Like, I could guess that this morning he had a cup of cereal mixed with a single serve container of yogurt and drank coffee black with sweetener. And that by now, he’s probably been to the weather channel to see what kind of conditions our loved ones and friends in other states are being subjected to. I can tell you that around 5pm-6pm the TV is vouched for because it’s time for him to watch the local news. I can tell you that after dinner he hunches over the computer with a pair of headphones watching an episode or two of Netflix. And sometimes, that robotic also includes his interaction or lack thereof with family members. He does his own thing almost like no one else is around. It really bothered me when I moved out. I expected my family to pay some dang attention to me when I was over and made the time to be present, but usually my mom was chatting on the phone or busy cooking and my dad would say hi and go back to his regularly scheduled program.  I know he isn’t aware of this, but for years, I just decided it wasn’t worth it to change anything. Until a few years ago when I realized time is precious. And this year, when my uncle who is only months older passed away.

I feel like this is an area I fail a lot. Sometimes I am cruel to my dad. I hate to say that but it’s true. I don’t know if I feel mentally superior or entitled or that he doesn’t understand me…but it’s not good. Just this past week, in a rush to work, I told him it was worthless for him to wake up and make coffee 15 minutes before I run to work because 70% of the time I’m already about to run out of the door and he’s in my way. What the hell. That was not okay. But it came out. And this week after I made that poor comment, he has slept in and there is no coffee made and no one to share breakfast with. He has poor hearing and sometimes replies yes or uh-huh without letting me know he didn’t hear me. Sometimes he doesn’t hear right and that causes issues too. So yeah, I am sometimes short fused and repeat things until I’m yelling.

Despite some short comings this week, I willed to spend more intentional time with him because my mom was out of town. I proposed a dad and daughter date. We went out to dinner on Wednesday and I felt like what I was able to say was just small talk and felt awkward. But I could tell like all loving parents he was so happy to have me instigate a dad and daughter date. I asked him if he wanted to grab dinner and watch something in theaters. I let him pick the restaurant and movie. By the time I opened the door that afternoon he was ready to go and reminded me several times of the time in anticipation to start our night out. Even though we only small talked it was still nice and he enjoyed both the dinner and the movie we went to see.

Yesterday we also had dinner together and watched it while his 6pm news segment was on. Plates in hand in the living room, watching channel 5 news. We didn’t say much but he enjoyed the food and complimented it several times and was smiling.

I think I’ve learned two things this week. Maybe three. First of all, this intentional relationship thing is harder than I thought and I kind of stink at it. But, two, my dad enjoyed it and saw that I was trying. I think I need to accept that I’m a complex thinker and a very different and sensitive personality type and my dad is not. He’s a very simple, enjoy life and the small things kind of guy. He’s practical and on the range of emotional empathy scores very average while I over analyze everything. If I can remember this and not try to expect too many social cues and responses I think it’ll help me. My mom is more like me, more complex, very sensitive to others reactions and emotions, and reacts more to compliments and general comments. I’ve spent a lot of time appreciating that and not enough time appreciating the benefits of my dad’s personality and personhood. It’s that personality that still got excited for a dad and daughter date the day after his daughter complained about his small act of love of getting up earlier than he likes to make coffee for both of us. The personality who said nothing in response though he has the right to as I ran out the door. The one who selflessly tried several times to let me pick the dinner spot and movie because he wanted me to enjoy it. The one who smiled ear to ear as I walked in after work on Wednesday knowing he’d be spending the whole afternoon with me. ❤

Vitality Corner

I’ve done a few big projects to make my room a sanctuary and here’s a project I’d like to complete next: a vitality corner of encouraging quotes and pictures and many plants.

plant-leaves

I would call it a vitality shrine but some would take offense to that because of the religious connotations people assume with the word ‘shrine.’ It’s not religious in an idolatrous way, but it is reflective and meditative.

I want to use green plants as a reminder of all the things I want to be: 

– I want to bloom as I prepare myself emotionally, financially, and physically for mid-life. 

– I want to reach new heights.

– I want to seek the light even if I must bend and outstretch in one direction towards it. 

– I want to nourish my body with good healthy food and kindness so that my radiant outside reflects a well fed and cared inside. 

– I want to be growing in Christ. I feel tingling in my roots and hope to know and experience even more foundational truths about my God and our relationship. I need to be reminded that what I soak up in my roots helps me react to the world around me and feeds me substance.

– I want to prune and throw away the bad parts so that I can focus on what’s important and not feel inhibited. 

– I want to remember as I’m tending them that people who love me are tending me and to love them back fiercely with that devotion. 

– Like photosynthesis, I want to use good energy to fuel me and have that process produce beneficial things for my environment. 

– My assortment of plants may all look different and need different types of tending and soil environments for best performance, but they all work together to be beautiful although they are diverse. Similarly, I want to see my strengths and weaknesses more bigger picture and know that what I have works together to do even more good collectively.  I want to remember not to judge someone for not having similar outlooks, interests, faith, or personalities, but find ways to admire them and encourage our growth and relationships.

– Like potted plants, I want to accept help when I can’t get what I need from my limited resources. Plants need fertilizer, and I need other people’s wisdom, encouragement, and experiences to help feed me. I may need coaching, programs, and therapy to help me reach my potential at different times in my life and shouldn’t be afraid of needing these resources.

I think just a few years ago I would have thought this notion was silly, but perhaps that is a sign I’ve grown. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Does Anyone Have it All Together?

You’ve heard it before: “They seem to have it all together.”

That person looks like they are the model citizen – someone to aim to be like in most if not all ways. They’re rational, inspirational, well-rounded, innovative, and just seem to have everything going in their favor. From what we can see, through our rose colored glasses, their life is envious. We examine our own lives and beat ourselves over where we think we fall short in terms of personal or societal expectations.

Does anyone have it all together?

The high school sweethearts are finally married and have a love story that would compel Nicholas Sparks to turn it into a novel. They never expected their small combined income would cause them to move thousands of miles away from where they grew up and desperately miss all their family and friends. And still, they are scraping by.

The successful businessman is at every charity, well loved, and the social media pictures of his lavish vacations with his family cause much envy. Little do they know his 80+ hour work weeks leave him worn and give little time to make memories with loved ones. He treats them all to summer vacation splendors to reconnect and thank them for understanding. Sometimes he wishes he could trade the success for time, but knows he is able to provide a future and financial legacy if he just stays the course.

The budding millionaire has three innovative patents that have enabled her to “get rich quick”.  Growing up with little, her head is spinning when thinking about investments and managing her expanding wealth. Friends and relatives she never figured would leech are pressuring her for loans and pricey gifts and dinners. She is making waves and ready to date after spending years developing her products. But now, she isn’t sure if the suitors are wanting to get to know her or more about the patents or figures.

The county’s brightest student is off to an Ivy League – but his ultimate goal is to be a minister. His family and teachers desperately want to see those smarts equal a high profile job. He wants to do what is on his heart and is passionate about his dreams.

The grace and beauty of her small town is as lovely inside as she is outside. She has looks, smarts, and heart, and is complimented all the time on all three. Even though she is praised often, some jealous individuals try to make life difficult for her just because of her beauty. They are downright rude and constantly looking for flaws to make her seem less perfect. For all the good they have to say, they jab her with remarks about nearing the end of fertility, wasting her looks not thinking about making progeny, and scratching their heads about why with all that she has going for her she can’t “get a man.” They don’t understand the personal standards she has committed to and why she is cautious. She can’t tell them about all the times men have tried to pursue her only to be a notch in their belt or for less than savory intentions, about how she has to be extra careful because her beauty sometimes means unwanted predicaments. They would think she was full of herself to say such things.

No one has it all together. For all the steps we take forward, we encounter new obstacles. Our timelines are unique. There isn’t an ideal for everyone. Our milestones are ours to make, and were never meant to be compared. Just because someone’s struggles seem smaller doesn’t mean it doesn’t takes less out of them. When we pretend others have it all together, we only take the joy out of our lives by pining for something we only see through a lens.

I can choose to look around and feel like I’ve fallen short, or I can choose to look at my own path and see how far I’ve come.

My victories are no less victorious. My struggles are no less real. My journey is mine to take. I’m not going to assume that I, or others, will ever have it all together. Life is happy, sad, joyful, messy, hard, rewarding, sweet, and stressful. Life is not multiple choice, it’s essays. I was never meant to try to glance at others #2 graphite lead filled bubbles and try to copy. I was meant to write my heart out and try my personal best. Just like school days, you finish the last sentence and turn it and sigh deeply. It was hard, but you did what you could with what you knew and the resources you were given. And that’s the same for everyone.

What I’m Up To

January and February always breeze by, but this year my schedule is even crazier!

Trim Healthy Mama 30 Day Challenge – The eating lifestyle I follow is called Trim Healthy Mama (THM). I sort of apprehensively looked into it as I’m not a mother and the main rules looked like other diets I avoided like the plague because of “no sugar, no flour.”

Long story short, I found that while definitely a lot of work, THIS was something I could do and best of all, IT WORKS WHEN I FOLLOW IT! I haven’t lost much weight because of fuel crossovers too often but my health has improved greatly. No more thyroid meds. No more high blood pressure meds. My blood tests since starting are the most optimal they’ve ever been.

I admin an unofficial group of us that are not purists – meaning we aren’t afraid of convenience items to work the diet to our busy lives. We’re kicking off a 30 day challenge to get everyone on track for the new year. And as admin, I plan to lead by example. 😉 This challenge is all about faithfulness and has nothing to do with most inches and weight lost. Which is something that comforts me. I lose like a sloth and am going for a slow and steady loss.

Apologetics Series “Get a  Grip” – I feel so fortunate my church is hosting such an AWESOME series! We’ve got 6 seminars lined up with some of the best of the best speaking and it’s an area I’ve always been interested in. Reasons that back up my faith more than, “Well, I believe it and feel it…”
Five of the speakers are big names and the last one, which I’m actually most excited for, is a pastor from my church who went from being a passionate Atheist to an on-fire Christian. Greg Koukl, whom I’ve had the pleasure of seeing/reading before, is one of the headliners, as well as J. Warner Wallace. The series starts next week and wraps up at the end of February.

Birthday and Anniversary – My poor boyfriend. He’s a trooper. I’ve never liked Superbowl and football bores me, but he is a big fan. Between Christmas in Dec., our Anniversary in Jan., and my birthday in Feb., he does a lot of gifting and adoring back to back and even puts football aside to make sure I’m celebrated well. This birthday brings me closer to 30 and that is a bit intimidating!

Non-profit Things – We had a meeting this Saturday for H4K. At the butt crack of dawn. There it was on the sheet of contacts – Laura, Print Media Chair. They passed out the postcards and flyers I designed and the founders thanked me copiously for it. I wasn’t sure how to react to having that attention on me, but I was very grateful for their praise. We have a county’s worth of places to display our run and foster fair info and I signed up to do a lot of the posting in my town. When February rolls around, we’ll be meeting every other weekend and then in April, weekly before the event. Things are getting real! I can’t really share what we’re doing outside of the event, but we’re working with the courts to do some exciting things for foster youth. It’s been so neat! My maternity house jewelry project was kind of put aside for the holidays but I’ll be getting in touch soon to work with them on new pendant designs.

Painting and Photoshop Lessons – I hate to say this but there have been several times I’ve been tempted to end my lessons for the sake of freeing up more time. I’ve grown too fond of my painting instructor, however, and enjoy her friendship and chit chatting as much as my lesson. I also can’t complain about our system for payment – we skill share! She teaches me to paint, I teach her photoshop. Most lessons typically run $25-50 per session so we are both saving a lot of money by skill sharing.

Galatians Bible Study – On Tuesday nights I have Precepts bible study. The inductive studies have been wonderful for me to dig deeper but are VERY homework heavy. Kaye Arthur has not made a study book for Galatians so we are doing a smaller book that is a quick study and it couldn’t be at a better time! I need something less intensive as my plate is very full until the seminars are over.

I should have started the gym but I haven’t yet! The boyfriend and I are walking to dinner and back, though, and it’s 1.8 miles each way. That will be my workout today, and Wednesday I plan to get my butt back in the gym.

What are you up to? How’s this new year treating you so far?

Why Minimalism is Not my Living Style…

So you guys know from recent posts that I am in the middle of a great purge and downsizing. The main reason is practical – not having more than I have room for. However, the secondary reason, nearly as important as the first, is, “Is this purposeful?”

Here’s why I like stuff:

1. I like stuff because it holds a memory.

The coins from my trip to Southeast Asia. The ticket stubs from some awesome concerts. The doodles from high school before I had any formal art training. The snow globe from Seaworld that encapsulated a picture of my family from 1998.

2. I like stuff because it reminds me I’m taken care of.

Extra boxes and cans in the pantry mean I can have people over for dinner on a whim or survive a bad earthquake. Extra clothes means more options to express my style. Excess in general means I’m blessed with more than enough.

3. I like stuff because I can share it.

One of my love languages is gifting people my time and treasures. Time is fickle because sometimes there’s a lot to share, and sometimes there’s not. But stuff? I tuck away items I get a good deal on or that remind me of someone so that I always have a personalized gift on hand. Something that says I took time and considered their interests.

4. I like stuff because I’m visual.

My mood can change because I walked outside and noticed the clouds were nice and fluffy and the sun highlighted the trees so that they glowed. In the same way, walking into a room with fun art and objects helps me unwind or find bliss. I feel happier with things around me rather than empty walls and few accents. Conversely I know people who find that stuff stressful and overwhelming and need a “clean” or streamlined feel. We’re all different.

5. I like stuff because it fuels creativity and can actually help me be frugal.

Art and craft supplies bought on sale or with a 40% off coupon save a lot of money. And having things around the house help me stay creative which is something I inherently crave both as a person and for my profession. The problem here is not having direction and dipping my fingers into too many pots. Scrapbooking and stamping are just not things I’m really into if I’m honest with myself and they take up a fair amount of space. So it’s better to donate those supplies and keep room for paper crafts, painting, and mixed media projects.

I think it’s important for me to note that I’m visual and not minimalist by nature to understand that is not where my heart is and not my goal at this time. I have a lot of clothes but few fit me well. That doesn’t translate simply into tossing 3/4 of my closet. I need to dig further. Purposefully. The reasons are not just material. I struggle with weight. This means not letting extra clothes be my comfort blanket and not buying things just because they fit me okay. But it also means reminding myself to stay the course for weight loss plans. To feel better and fit better in what I wear. And to not forget confidence.

I have a lot of art supplies not being used. Books that are stacked in a “to-read” pile. Why am I not doing what I love? What is using up my free time? Why am I not doing things that unwind and inspire me?

I have 5 cans of tomato paste. Why? I didn’t shop intentionally, that’s why. I’m not keeping good record of what I have.

When I ask questions like this, I am considering so much more than the object. And that’s what’s important right now. Intention, purpose, and practicality.