The Infamous Flow

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Lately I’ve been perusing the endless possibilities of Bumble.  I’ve been on several dates, none of which (obviously) have manifested into the love of my life, but they’ve mostly all been interesting albeit a let down when it doesn’t move forward, especially because I actually enjoy meeting random people and hearing their perspective on life.

One date in particular, recently, was a bit of a disappointment.  We met on Thursday, had sushi and some wine, talked for HOURS without pause, and in general had an awesome time.  I came home on a high, and excitedly told all my girlfriends what a great time we had had.

A couple of days go by, and no second date invitation seemed to be forthcoming.  Determined to not slip silently into Bumble oblivion, I threw out a message saying what a great time I had had, and if he was free Monday or Tuesday, I’d love to get together again.

Crickets.

Needless to say, I was pretty bummed.  And immediately fell to analyzing anything that could have gone wrong.  Was it because of the holiday weight? (Damn you Christmas Walk cookies!) The zit that had popped up on my face hours prior to the date?  The fact that I seemed TOO interested?  Not interesting enough?  Perhaps because my hair was day-old curls and not fresh ones?  I could go on.

Of course, all craziness aside, it just simply comes down to the fact that he, for whatever reason, was not into me. *womp womp*.  No matter how much I wish I could capture his affection, I can’t.  End of story.

People always tell me to just ‘go with the flow’ and ‘it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen’.  If you know me at all, you know that this seriously goes against my usual M.O.  I am (most times) a take charge, get-this-shit-done-NOW, no excuses type of person.  Sitting back and allowing love to manifest seems appealing to me; actually waiting for it to happen does not.  When I get an idea in my head, I cannot put it off for later; it must be accomplish ASAP.

Yet, as with all great things, you cannot force amazing things to happen; all you can do is put in the ingredients for success, stir it up a bit, and hope that it works.

For example, in teaching, I cannot walk in to the classroom and expect my students to instantly respect and adore me (as much as they totally should *hair toss*).  I have to come in and show them that I care.  I have to plan lessons that don’t suck.  I have to make sure that I listen when they are struggling.  I have to make class fun yet productive.  All of the ingredients can be carefully portioned out and folded together with a gentle yet masterful hand, and there will still be those days where that one girl in the second row gives you so. much. attitude.  Yet despite those few anomalies, if the ingredients are quality, the product will be amazing 9 times out of 10 IF you don’t open the oven every two seconds to check how it’s doing.

Similarly, I also cannot force myself to have the perfect bikini body, as much as I wish I could snap my fingers and look like Kim Kardashian.  Instead, I need to stick to my diet, exercise, refrain from alcohol (sob), and trust in that process to slowly change my body, however long it takes.  I cannot starve myself for a week and expect miracles.

Likewise, I am now acknowledging (slowly but surely) that I cannot will my perfect person into my life.  I simply have to create a more perfect version of myself, solidify what I want, and allow my vibes to permeate the universe and attract someone when they’re meant to come in to my life.

Which low-key DRIVES ME CRAZY.

But throughout all of my dating shenanigans, I have refused to compromise on what I want in a guy.  Which I haven’t found yet.  And that brings me to my conundrum:  how will I find my person if I don’t make SOME effort, yet why am I wasting my time on dates when I need to be focusing on the goals that I have set for myself?  How can I attract the right person into my life if I spend all my time looking for the person and not actually building myself into the person that my perfect person would love?

Truthfully, I can’t.  I need to take a step back and just….be.  And there are times that I do-I go through cycles, like I think that everyone does.

While ruminating on it, I’ve realized that failing at dating seems a lot less scary than failing at my goals.  Everyone fails at dating.  It’s normal.  It’s accepted.  It’s expected that date after date will turn into a great big nothingness (until the magical moment that it doesn’t).  Yet trying to do things that other people don’t normally do, such a blogging, a podcast, a second side career, writing books…failing that that seems more REAL.  More hurtful.  More in-your-face.

Not trying isn’t scary at all.  It gives you a lot of free time.  Yet one of my Bumble dates made a great observation when he said “the world is our oyster”.  Why wouldn’t I try to gather as many pearls as I can?

So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I’m going “shake it off, shake it off” and turn my focus to what I want to do that will just be the cherry on top of my already full life.  I need to stop the bullshit and simply DO.

And so, dear readers, expect big things in my next year of blogging.  I’ll keep you updated, and you can keep me accountable.

2018—you’re MINE.

Growth Opportunities (Alt. Title: F*CKING UP)

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Last week was a WEEK.  I had a mix-up with my car servicing on Tuesday, my car got broken into on Wednesday AND I got a parking ticket that same night, and to top it off I got a talking-to at work on Thursday.  Needless to say, I was pretty much a mess by the time Friday rolled around.

However, even though almost everything that happened to me cost me quite a bit of money, the thing that upset me the most was getting talked to at work.

A bit of backstory:  I transferred to my current school this year because I wanted to move up to a high school and I wanted to get IB trained.  I ended up getting assigned 7th, 8th, and 9th grade (not really the high school grade levels I was envisioning) and getting misinformation that I WAS going to be trained, but then ultimately being told that I was not.  While I have fallen in love with my kids, I have been pretty grumpy about not being trained in IB since I had made up my mind that that’s what I wanted to do, had asked (and been told yes) several times, and was watching one of my friends prepare to go to training even though I had asked to be put in her position initially.

Needless to say, I am not a quiet person, and so whenever the subject came up I tended to voice my disappointment.  This came across as negative to a member of my department, who discussed it with my AP, who then came and discussed it with me.

Now, I am the first to get pissed off when I am approached about something that I don’t feel is right.  However, the reason I got so upset is because I knew that this person was actually correct.  I HAD been negative.  I HAD been dwelling.  I HAD made my friend feel bad (who had had no hand in assigning training).  I was in the wrong.

This, my friends, is the absolute worst realization ever.  I was wrong.  I fucked up.  I deserved to get a talking-to.

I was a wreck for the rest of the day after that discussion.  The silver lining that came out of it was my kids were super concerned about me, and I even got a note from one of them telling me how awesome I was and how sorry she was that I was “in pain” (#thesweetest).

Unfortunately, I can’t go back in the past and unsay everything I said.  I can’t go into people’s brains and change whatever impression they may have of me now.  I can, however, look at this whole experience as a growth opportunity, and take steps to learn and apply as much as I can.

First, I need to change what I can change.  I cannot change the already spoken words, but I can definitely change my attitude and my words that I choose to release in the future.  I also already made sure that I apologized to my friend so that I could undo some of the damage my careless words caused.  Realizing when you’re wrong sucks SO BAD, but the more important thing is making sure that you go forward armed with the new knowledge and not burdened by it.

Second, I need to apply the lesson to other areas of my life.  In this particular instance, I was dwelling on something that I couldn’t change.  Are there other areas of my life in which I’m dwelling?  Do I know that something is hopeless or not really in the cards and yet I am still ruminating on it and keeping it in my mind?  If so, I know that the potential results of that are at the least not promising and the most, disastrous.

Finally, I need to be thankful for the fuckup.  This, for me, is the absolute hardest one out of the three.  I pride myself on my ability to navigate life with grace and wisdom.  And most of the time, I do a fairly decent job.  However, this means that rather than a myriad of little stumblings, I have a handful of epic whoppers that bring me to my knees.  And yet, these catastrophic episodes of tumbling to the ground teach me so. freaking. much.  I can’t waste too much time crying about them, because they are a virtual goldmine of information that I can use to twirl my way through the next span of time (until I once again crash to the ground).

In reality, not one of us will get through life without some sort of fuck-up.  And truthfully, the bigger the fuck-up, the more valuable the lesson AND the more likely it is that you are trying to do something great.  If you stay in your comfort zone, you will not make mistakes that often.  Which feels great-who doesn’t like to be the master of something?  But the longer you stay in your area of expertise, the less likely it is that you will keep accomplishing at the rate that you had been previously.

Now, I’m not advocating for you to go try to screw up royally on purpose.  But I AM encouraging you to spread your wings and take a risk or two.  Don’t beat yourself up when you fail–that is my lesson that I’m still learning.  I tell my students all the time that “It’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok not to try”.  Honestly, I need to take my own advice.

Try something difficult.  Try something new.  Try SOMETHING.  And when you fail (and you will fail), be grateful for the lesson that it brings.  Adjust.  Grow.  And then, TRY AGAIN.

What is Family, Anyway?

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As I write this blog post I am currently sitting on a plane that is taking me away from one home and towards another.  Every year at Thanksgiving I make the aeriel trek home in order to eat some delicious food, see my family, and eat more delicious food.  I am never disappointed.

Despite the fact that I love my life in California, I am particularly morose this year as I journey back towards the land of sun and sand.  Being together with everyone has reminded me how much we all have grown up (and how much we haven’t) and has made me realize how much I miss out on when I don’t get to see my siblings for a year at a time.

And yet, even with that year of time between being together in person, I experienced nothing but complete settledness.  Even with every single one of us branching out and living lives so completely different from one another, the moment we are back in our childhood house we immediately fall into our relationships with ease.

For those of you who are also able to experience this, how lucky are we?  We are able to grow and expand and experience and fall and succeed yet still have a place of safety and ease on which to land and take a break from everything in our regular lives.

The dictionary definition of family is “all the descendants of a common ancestor”.  However, this succinct phrasing cannot encompass the true meaning of family; having individuals in your life that you simultaneously love, can’t stand, and every other emotion in-between but overall, can’t imagine your life without.  Family means…everything.

FAMILY means acceptance.  There are five total children in my immediate clan, and two of them are married (hint: it’s not me).  Whoever walks into the door of my parents’ house opens a Pandora’s box of personality types, backgrounds, strengths, and issues.  I love so many things about every single person in this eclectic circle, and every single person has a particular way that they can Drive. Me. Up. A. Wall.

Yet, because of the bonds shared since womb-hood, I cannot imagine cutting any of them out of my life.  No matter how annoying, stupid, or irresponsible any of them can be, I accept them whole-heartedly.

The great and unbelievable thing about this is, is it is true in reverse.  I know 100% that I do and say things that drive my family nuts or rub them the wrong way.  There is no possible way to avoid doing so after 28 years of being around the same people.  However, I know that no matter what I say or do short of cold-blooded murder, I will never be cast outside of the fold.  And there is absolutely no better feeling than that.

FAMILY means constructive criticism.  While family may accept your imperfections, they are not averse to putting in their two cents when they feel necessary.  Yet in opposition to most criticism thrown around in the world, these thought-provoking comments or conversations spring out of a place of deep love and desire for the best for whoever is receiving the notes.

This Thanksgiving, I had finally gotten fed up with one of my siblings and had snapped a curt retort.  My grandma simply stated “cool it, you” as she walked past.  Straightforward, short, to the point, yet it completely shook me out of my annoyance and made me realize that my vitriol was not necessary.  Sometimes a simple reminder from people who love you regardless is just the thing you need to change a negative attitude or a habit.

FAMILY means safety.  The reason that I am able to fly so far from the nest of my youth is because I know without the slightest shadow of a doubt that I can always, 100%, rely on my family if I were to need help in any way.  Even with all of the pulls on their attention, if I were to ever get so desperate as to need a place to stay, I would have one.  If I ever need to vent and not worry about sounding like a Negative Nancy, I can call on any number of ears and take advantage.

Anything and everything that might crop up in life does not seem like a big obstacle because I have access to an incredible network of strong individuals that will do anything in their power to make sure that I am ok.  This knowledge is a powerful antidote to any fear or hesitation I might feel over any roadblock I may face.

FAMILY means abnormal normality.  My dad has been known to make up short bizarre songs on the spot.  My brother decides to speak in random accents at unforeseen times.  My sister loves to reference anything I do wrong in her eyes as the act of an “uncultured swine”.  We 100% bust out the Disney songs when we ride in the car, and my voice is usually the loudest one.

All of these quirky, random, non-normal aspects of every single person in the inner circle makes my family, family.  Every single family in the world has their weird, zany, creative, off-the-wall, embarrassing habits that they would rather the outside world not know.  I say, however, that we should embrace that weirdness as OURS.  There is a distinct sense of pride in ownership, and your family deserves that pride as much as your car or your house.

As a teacher, I am privy to the heartbreaking reality that my family situation is rare.  There are too many children and adults that go through life without the love, acceptance, criticism, and sense of belonging that they need in order to thrive.

So for those kids and grown-up kids, who is family, anyway, if it’s not blood?  Thankfully, we can still get all of these benefits from families that we build ourselves.  Actively seek out people that can offer this support to you, and make sure to offer it in return.

So, if you are in possession of this sense of family, cherish it.  If you are not, build it.  Life is better with our people, and I think we could all do a little bit more to make sure our people know how awesome they are.

Because honestly, without the bonds of family, what is life, anyway?

 

 

 

Reasons to Embrace Being Single

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Whenever cocktails and girlfriends (or even just the latter) are in the same room, the conversation almost invariable makes a stop on the subject of men, or more accurately, boys.  Specifically, bemoaning the fact that we can’t find any good ones, causing us to be subjected to singledom for eternity (or so it feels).

Couples holding hands seem to pop up everywhere we go.  Pictures of engagement rings fill our Facebook feeds.  Movies like “The Notebook” and shows like “The Bachelor” get shoved in our face.  Everything couple-related becomes glaring reminders of the missing piece in our lives.

Being in a relationship, the right relationship, is an amazing thing.  However, as amazing as a relationship is, we have to remember that there are some damn good things about being single, too.

You can do whatever you want.  This is the most obvious and most touted perk of singles everywhere.  But I feel like very rarely do people actually take advantage of this freedom.  Think about it.  There are truly no limits.

Take travel, for instance.  Do you want to go overseas and experience the exoticism of Asia?  You can!  You have no one else’s schedule to worry about, no one else’s budget, no one else’s preferences for the trip.  If you want to have a super high-end luxury week with spa pampering and endless cocktails by the pool, you can make that happen.  If you want a three week trek through the jungle sleeping in a tent with the native people, you can do that too without worrying about what someone else would want to choose.

Even on a smaller, daily scale, this luxury shouldn’t be taken lightly.  You can eat takeout for dinner if you want.  You can make a four course meal every night.  You can meet up with an old friend at a moment’s notice.  You can stay in bed all day or go out and socialize all night.  It’s truly 100% up to you.

Being single in your 20’s and 30’s is really the only time that you can actually take advantage of this fully.  There are no academic obligations of high school and college.  There are no work obligations that you didn’t fully choose if you have a career you love.  There are no stigmas attached to anything that you might enjoy, because you are now surrounded by adults and not asshole teenagers.

So many people waste singlehood on Netflix and sweatpants on the couch.  There is SO MUCH LIFE to live, and it’s ridiculous to skip out on it because you don’t have someone to experience it with yet.

You can discover yourself.  This is another cliched mantra of the single ones, but it is so true.  In the past, I have been guilty of taking on my boyfriend’s interests and letting my own slide.  However, this really was because I hadn’t solidified my own interests before I got into a serious relationship.

Now that I’ve been on my own for a while, I’ve tried tons of different things and discovered what I love and what I can do without.  Just because something hasn’t been a part of your life up until this point does not mean that it can’t become a part of your life now.  For example, I played no sports in high school (sadly).  Now, I play beach football, turf football, and kickball.  I absolutely love it, and while I am not at the level of athleticism I would prefer to be at, I am getting better with each game that I play.  Had I not ventured out of my comfort zone, I would have never discovered that I actually like to play sports.

So many people don’t try things because they either ‘think’ they won’t like it or because they are simply too snobby to give something new a try because, surprise surprise, they are going to suck at it at first.  We have to stop getting so caught up in being perfect at things all the time.  It is only when we allow ourselves to embrace the possibility of falling that we will be able fly.

You can build yourself.  When you don’t have someone else constantly in your space, you tend to have a lot of time to think–if you don’t crowd out these valuable hours with mindless TV and/or social media and/or other various wastes of time.  If you spend some quiet moments alone reflecting on yourself as a person, both in and out of a relationship, you may come across some things that you don’t like.

This is hard to take.  We all like to think that we are just a little bit more perfect than those around us and if anybody needs to change, it’s the other guy.  But admitting that you have things to work on is arguably more admirable than swimming in self-denial and staying the same, even if you are a decent person to start out with.

In my reflections lately, I’ve noticed that I am a pretty selfish conversation participant.  Whenever someone has something to say, I immediately try to relate to to something similar that has happened in my life.  Not that trying to relate and find common ground is necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes letting that person have their moment in the conversational sun is the more kind and less egotistical choice.  While this is just a small example of something that I feel I need to change personally, there are many other things that we could allow ourselves to get better at if we just acknowledged that some maintenance needs to take place.

Beyond making  cosmetic adjustments to our temple, we can also build on whole new sections.  I have always admired my sisters for being able to play guitar, and a couple months ago I drug out my old acoustic and vowed to spend more time playing.   That lasted for a little while, but it has since faded away as it is not a fully solidified part of me yet.  However, I know that if I really put my mind to it, I can achieve success in that arena, and I plan to make a more concerted effort to make it happen since this is something that I do actually want to add into my life.

Overall, being single is a chance to mold yourself into the person that your future partner will jump at the chance to be with.  So often we admire qualities in other people and desire them in our relationships, but forget we cannot expect roses if we are offering dandelions.

Embrace the freedom.  Embrace the challenge.  Embrace the endless opportunities.  Our years of singlehood will be far less than our years of partnership, so squeeze every last drop out of awesomeness from your solo ventures, and don’t be sad if it takes you a while to find The One.  In fact, take some time to be thankful that they haven’t materialized yet, because you just get a little longer to date yourself.  And lucky for you, you’ll always get the rose.

Loving Life

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This morning before joining my team on the beach for our playoff game (we lost *sniff*), I went on a walk down the pier and just simply looked at the ocean.  It was a cloudy day, and the stratocumulous and stratus streaks in the sky created a beautifully dappled water view that was complimented by the occasional peak of golden sun dancing across the lazy waves.

Headphones in, I simply sat and admired the view for a long moment before walking back down the pier with slow steps and a small, just-for-me smile.  It was such a simple, small, insignificant-in-the-scheme-of-things moment, yet it was perfect.

Lately, I’ve been having quite a bit of those moments.  I’ve felt a lot happier and more carefree for the past week or so than I have felt for a long time.  While I am not at the point of complete Hakuna Matata, upon reflection, there are several things that I feel have contributed to this carefree newfound happiness.

Settling in.  I have now been at my new work site for 12 weeks.  At the beginning, it was a super rough start because of teaching three different grade levels, not knowing anyone, and putting my foot in my mouth seemingly every time I tried to make a move at the school.  Now, however, I have a pretty good handle on what I’m teaching, I have made several friends, and I’ve become more accustomed to the odd politics that swirl around the staff.  In short, I’m not longer wearing sunglasses in a dark alleyway.

Entering a new situation, whether it be a move, a job, a relationship, or what have you, is always stressful in the beginning.  If you are an A type personality like me, it can be excruciatingly painful to flounder around in the shallows when you are used to swiftly beelining in the deep end.  However, I am a firm believer in putting myself in uncomfortable situations for the purpose of growth.  There is no way to improve your game past a certain point if the playing field and the players never changes.  Therefore, discomfort is a necessity.

Acceptance.  I have been in a constant struggle with my body for years.  Not that I am overweight by any stretch of the imagination, but like any female who lives in a state with 365 days of beach season, I have a very specific image of what I want to look like when I slip on my itsy bitsy bikini, and 99.9% of the time, I fall short of this picture.  There have been several times when I have reached a point where I am aaaaalmost there, but inevitably something will happen that causes a huge wave of stress in my life, which causes the tremulous hope of achieving said specific look to come crashing down.

Obviously, this sucks.  However, lately I have been giving myself more of break.  In comparison to a fitness model, I am not 1/10th as impressive or in shape.  However, compared to anybody else, I am doing pretty well.  Obviously, I don’t want to set the bar super low just to make myself feel better, but for the past couple of weeks I have stopped beating myself up for every little slip up.  Usually, if eat more than I should or have a drink when I should just pass it up, I mentally pummel myself about it and feel like a giant failure.  Now, I simply acknowledge that that probably wasn’t the best choice, and then simply… let it go.  Oddly enough, I think it has helped me start to get closer to my ideal shape.

When we beat ourselves up for every little failure, we can hardly even enjoy the victories we do have because we are focusing on how far we still have to go rather than how far we’ve come.  I am in no way saying that we should settle into a life of contentment with average and pat ourselves on the back for every mundane “accomplishment”.  However, there is sometimes something to be said for making the journey towards your goal the focus rather than the shining, ever-so-far-away end target.

Release from self-imposed obligation.  I have a lot of goals that I want to accomplish, but if I am honest with myself, some of them are goals that I FEEL I should strive for and not my actual personal ambitions.  This leads to me put certain things on my to do list because I feel obligated to do them, not out of actual enjoyment or because of some true deeper desire to fully hit that target.  Usually, I end up not doing these things and then I get down on myself for not hustling hard enough, or not putting in enough effort, or for doing other things with my time rather than shoving my nose to the grindstone.

Lately, though, I’ve let myself fully enjoy the things that I like doing and not really care when I don’t get everything in that I planned out.  I’ve noticed that ever since I’ve let myself off the hook with a lot of things, I am gravitating more towards actually doing them.  In other words, when it’s not a big scary duty, it’s actually something I want to do.  Who woulda thought?

Overall, if you are striving to become better every day, allowing yourself to indulge in what truly makes you happy, keeping your mind and body healthy, and taking the time to wash yourself in the small, beautiful moments that pop up in your life, there is no way that you can’t be truly happy.  Our life is so, so short, yet we tend to live like we have endless amounts of time to squander on beating ourselves down and wallowing in misery.

I say, take steps towards your ideal but leave the shackles of useless obligations and constant regret behind.  Life is a journey, and in order to smell the roses you are going to have to deal with the thorns.  You could try to eliminate all spikes before diving in, but that is both impossible and impractical.  Deal with the pricks but put your main focus on indulging in the deep, rich, floral scent and feeling the smooth velvet against your skin.  In the end, everyone’s last petal will fall, and only you will know if you spent the time basking in your moments of being a prince or wallowing in the few beast-like junctures you may have come across.

From now on, I chose to focus on royalty.

 

 

Energy is Everything

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Today I woke up with a full-blown cold.  Stuffy nose, throat slightly scratchy, coughing-the whole nine.  Ironically, today is also the day that I determined that I would revamp my entire life and mindset and become extremely productive,  stop fucking around with my diet, and basically become Hannah 2.0: Awesome Edition.

While I still fully intend to get all of my things on my Win the Day list done, it is proving to be substantially more difficult because I. Am. Drained.  I have thus far completed one task (meal prep) and all I want to do is take a nap.

This got me thinking about how energy is KEY to living our lives as our best selves.  I have no idea how people who are chronically sick, always tired, or perpetually mowing down fast food every day of the week do it.

Your energy is the pilot light of your life.  And as such it needs to be your top priority.  So, how do you ensure that you are always running on a full tank of gas?  How do you avoid the gas light coming on when you’re still 40 miles away from your next destination?

Be Proactive.  I could feel the inklings of this cold on Friday night.  Yet I still chose to go out drinking and stay up late.  Granted, it was a friend’s birthday party so I would have been a bit of a rat if I had skipped out last minute, but I could have chosen not to drink, headed back to the hotel early, or made sure that I was consuming good, healthy food before heading out.  Instead, I chose to ignore the signs and carry on as if all was well.  And now, here we are, 12 kleenexes deep before noon.

Being proactive about your health is the best way to ensure that your energy reserves are always replenished and you are constantly running on all cylinders.  Our mind may be the tool that is responsible for getting most things done, but it is housed in our bodies; it can only do so much if its living space is constantly drained.

Even before the hint of a cold, I could feel myself getting run down by all of the things going on in my life.  School, sports leagues, working out, diet, birthdays, friend hangouts…everything seemed to happen at once and without a break, constantly keeping me moving, and I went along on the rapids, not realizing how much all of the perpetual motion was really affecting me.

You need to be able to recognize when you are on the verge of cracking, and somehow ease off the pressure for a little bit.  Giving yourself a night off from your responsibilities, taking a slow walk with no heart rate goal in mind, indulging in a mid-week glass of wine.  All of the things that we may not allow ourselves to do because we have too many other responsibilities to handle; those are the things that become the most critical tasks when we approach the breaking point.

Practice Prevention.  Taking the time to slow down can be difficult, because I am a firm believer in the fact that productivity and accomplishments are what give us our sense of self-worth.  No one should feel good about wasting their days away just doing things they feel like doing in that moment on a consistent basis.

But there is the other side of the coin where if you don’t take the time to indulge your inner whims, you will lose sight of what you enjoy about life and wind yourself tighter and tighter until you eventually have no choice but to explode.

In order to live your best life, you have to be productive, accomplish things, grow from one week to the next.  Yet to achieve this constant growth, you must have an abundance of energy, which comes from your ability to take a step back from the grindstone and admire your progress, drink some water, wipe off the sweat, and then get back to it.

Use the energy you have.  In my experience, the more you use your energy, the more energy you will have available to you.  If I go to the gym after work and spend a good hour on strength expenditure, I will have exponentially more energy for the rest of the evening than if I skip the gym altogether.  This logically should not make sense.  Yet I have experienced it time and time again.

Likewise, when I get quite a few things done on my list for that day, I am a lot more motivated to get even more things done.  Contrarily, when I wake up, plant my ass in front of the TV, and don’t move for an hour or so, I want nothing more than to not move for the rest of the day.

Know yourself.  Sometimes, when you’re feeling like you can’t get anything done and you are dead tired, all you need to do is push past the mental barrier and you will be whipping through your stuff in record time.  Other times, you can try as hard as you want to push through, but you simply cannot because you are running on empty.

You need to be able to tell those times apart.  If you know in the back of your mind that you tend to feel overwhelmed and shut down at a certain point yet you still have some reserve left, push yourself past that mental block.  If you know, however, that you are seriously approaching your breaking point, ease off the gas and allow yourself to have a break for a day.

Overall, balancing your energy is one of the most effective tools for owning your life.  No one wants to gather their grandchildren about them and regal them with tales of the time you sat and watched TV every weekend for 20 years straight and how you always felt sick and run-down.  Taking control of how you feel and really taking the time to know your body and safely push your limits is the best way to get the most out of this gift we have been given.

Take the time to give yourself a break, but only enough to gather your force for the next breakthrough.  Everything, much like the tides of the ocean, is a cycle, and you can either have it work for you or against you.  Learn to read the waves, and you will find yourself surfing with ease rather than tumbling along the break-line gasping for air.

Me Too

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I have been overwhelmed and saddened by the amount of “me too” posts that I have seen in my social media feed over the past couple of days.

Not that I didn’t know that girls all over the place experienced the catcalls, unwanted brushes of the hand (or other parts), and suggestive looks and comments, but because these things are so commonplace that I have simply looked at them as a integral part of life.

I almost didn’t post a ‘me too’ status because I thought “I haven’t actually been brutally raped…I’ve never experienced violent sexual harassment…I’ve never felt like I was in imminent danger of sexual violation.”

But then I stopped myself.  I have experienced whistles and comments from men on the streets on a regular basis.  I have been asked multiple times by random men at bars if they could “just” see or squeeze my ass.  I have ignored whistles and “damnnnnn” comments from STUDENTS at my school because I wasn’t sure how to handle such disrespectful behavior and I thought if I ignored it it would just go away.  I felt a man rub his genitals on me in a crowded subway and try to take a picture of my face.

I have experienced all of these things and more, yet I still hesitated when posting a status to join the ranks of women who have been sexually harassed because I wasn’t sure if I had been hassled “enough” to stand with them.

How absolutely sad is that?

Women have become so used to feeling judged by their bodies that a certain level of discomfort has become normal.

That needs to stop.

Right the fuck now.

Women are not commodities.  Women are not eye candy.  Women are not tits and ass and a pretty face.

So why we are branded as such?

Simply put, humans are a creature of habit and learn almost everything by example.  If I were a man and grew up seeing the men around me talk about women in a disrespectful manner, calling out dirty remarks for a laugh, and generally basing their value of a woman off of how good she looks in a pair of skinny jeans, I would quite honestly do the same.  It would be normal.  And heartrendingly, that’s how most of the men in America are raised.

However, this is not the norm across the entire range of male humanity.  I have never once seen my dad make a disrespectful comment about a woman.  I can’t even remember him commenting on a woman’s body in a complimentary and non-sexual way.  It simply was never a part of the rhetoric that he used.

Not surprisingly, my brother is the exact. same. way.

Never once have I heard my brother comment about any girls in a sexual way.  There have been zero instances where I saw him oogle a woman.  No dirty jokes.  No inappropriate comments.  Not even with his wife, where it would be more acceptable.  It has been nothing but consideration and respect.

How much more amazing would every female’s experience be if every male had an example like my dad or brother to emulate?  I can’t even imagine how it would feel to step out into the world and not wonder who is checking out my ass or tossing a glance at my silhouette.

BUT WAIT, you say.  Sexuality is part of human nature!  Surely you cannot be suggesting that we move to a mindset where sex is not somewhere in the forefront?  That’s impossible.

I agree.  Sex IS part of our nature.  Sex, in fact, is freaking awesome.  And it’s doubly awesome when you feel sexy and confident and you know you look good and the person you are having sex with makes sure you know how attractive you are to them.

But a large part of that feeling is immediately doused in ice-cold water when you feel disrespected.  I have gone from feeling awesome and self-assured to feeling insecure and small in a matter of seconds all because of a moment of unwanted attention that crossed the line.

And no, this doesn’t only happen when I’m wearing a sexy dress or short shorts.  I have dealt with this feeling in every different type of clothing imaginable.

The bottom line is, I want to take my body back.  I want to be able to feel comfortable in anything.  I want to be able to wear something that makes me feel like a million dollars without worrying that someone is going to assume that I want to hear their two cents.

Comments on my body make me feel amazing when they come from people that I give a shit about.  Nothing makes me smile wider than a well-placed “damnnn” from the person that I’m dating.  But when it comes to words pouring from the mouths of strangers, it gets old really fucking fast.

So men, please, please listen:

Woman love to feel sexy.  We love to feel special.  We love to feel like we are on top of the world.  But that outcome is not achieved by catcalls, “flattering” compliments, or forcing yourself upon us.  That result is not realized by staring at us from the corner and raking your eyes constantly across our frames so hard we can feel it even when we uneasily turn away.  That effect is not attained by focusing solely on our physical attributes that you find pleasing.

We want to be seen.  Really, truly seen.  Move past the old rhetoric that has been passed down from generation to generation and be the man that takes a step forward to take a hand, not grope a curve.

You will still have your animal needs sated, don’t worry about that.  But maybe, just maybe, you will realized that treating women as civilized creatures rather than prey to be hunted will yield a far richer feast than the outdated methods of pursuit with bow and poisoned arrow.

Be the change.

Please.