Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Small Stuff

Lately, I've been increasingly bothered by what used to seem like really small things: petty little actions made by others that, in the grand scheme of things, shouldn't really be that big of a deal, but suddenly add up in my mind in such a way that the cumulative effect causes an almost unreasonable anger/sadness inside me. When did people stop paying attention to each other?

When you take any of these actions in a vacuum, they don't seem like much -- they can easily be excused one-by-one: that person must be in a rush, or having a bad day, or a myriad of other excuses that we all have for not being considerate.

However, it seems to me that, more than ever before, there is an overwhelming amount of people, all choosing to make these selfish, petty decisions, taking actions that indicate their thoughts are focused solely on their own little world and they see little beyond its boundaries.

They may in grand ways still be generous and kind, thoughtful and caring, but its these small things that truly show the character of a person - the choices they make when they think no one they know is looking.

I'd like to think that my daily actions show that I care about others - people I know and love, and those I do not know, strangers on the road during rush hour or in-line at the crowded grocery store. I'm not deluded enough to think that I am successful in this at all times (I have a terrible temper when it comes to rush hour and school carpool lines in particular), but I do know that I take care to try and strive to grow in this way. I make a conscious effort to consider others in my little daily actions.

I know that it is these actions -- these choices I make when I think no one is looking -- that really define the person I am... and I want that person to be someone I am proud of.

What do your little daily actions say about you? Do they match up with the person you want to be?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Journey together

Each of us travels on a journey. We each face our own obstacles. We each have those things that are worth struggling for -- the things that, as Wallace states, we love so much that we would die for without thinking twice.

We share the journey in that we each take the journey. What we find in our own journey, the obstacles, the struggles, the pathways, will sometimes be similar to what others experience but often will be unique to us. We cannot truly know another's journey -- we can only know our own. It makes no sense to compare -- what good does that do to anyone?

Instead support one another along the journey that we are all taking -- care for one another, acknowledge and empathize with the hardships of each other, and be kind to each other. Our struggles and obstacles my be different, but we can share the journey together.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ban Negative Nancy & Company

Do you have one? I feel like I have a whole Council in there, rubber-stamping negative thoughts like paperwork and then letting them fester in the dark corners of my mind, seeping out when I am most vulnerable to make me second-guess myself.

I think I may print this one out for the old Mirror :)

It's time to tell the Council that they have lost the election and boot them out of there. Negativity causes so many problems -- in your relationships, in your work, in your health -- kick the negative committee out and you'll remove one giant obstacle you may not have realized you had.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shiny Happy People

Have you ever noticed how perfect people seem on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, or even our own chapters here at TMN? Sometimes, I will admit, it seems like some lives are just too wonderful, too filled with great activities, happy smiling faces, pretty dresses and lovely backdrops of beautiful lakes or aesthetic old barns.

Sometimes I look at these things and I feel a tiny bit jealous. It seems easy for everyone else. They are doing all these great fun things and everyone is happy and no one is frustrated or overwhelmed or anxious about anything.

I think "What's wrong with me?" that I can't have this perfection in my daily life, the clean house, the spontaneous art projects on the living room rug, the pretty clothes and beach trips and happy smiles everywhere you go. Why does my life seem filled most days with work and struggling to get everything done and picking which part of my life will be disappointed while I scurry to pick up the slack in the other areas -- will the house be a mess? will the kids spend the afternoon in front of the tv because I have to work? will I be able to get work done with such a messy house and kids to entertain? Its enough to drive a person crazy!

But the truth is, what I see on Facebook is no different than what I put on Facebook -- its the happy little moments in my life that I am willing to share with others. Facebook would be pretty depressing if everyone got real -- so maybe its okay that people are sticking mostly to the happy parts.

I have to remind myself that what others put out there isn't the everything -- they are just showing the "highlight reel" of their life, editing out the bloopers and ugly parts and showing off the finished shiny product.  I have to remember that my "behind-the-scenes" footage is probably not much different from anyone else's... and not let myself be tricked into thinking otherwise.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Have you ever noticed that when you are in a bad mood, it seems that everyone is especially annoying and even the most endearing little things your kids do, or your friends do, or your significant other does, make you want to pull your hair out?

It's so so tempting to say "Well, I'm in a bad mood, so deal with it" and let your bad mood infiltrate the others in your life.

I, like every one of you, have been the victim of someone's bad mood more than once. Its no fun, especially when you are in a "very good mood" and someone else ruins it with their "very bad mood." Can you imagine if everyone decided to do that? Everyone who was struggling with something, or frustrated with the obstacle they are facing just decided to take it out on everyone else? Madness.

Everyone, every day, is facing some obstacle, fighting some battle -- a "something that is important enough to them to be willing to struggle for." You are not the only one struggling and their struggle is just as important to them as yours is to you.

So be nice to each other. Really. Its not that hard. Resist the urge to share your bad mood and instead cheer yourself up by being kind to others. You may find it makes your struggles a little easier as well.

Monday, October 28, 2013



I'm reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest right now. Not a book for everyone, I don't think. It has so much depth and sadness and true soul-bearing reality, I actually have to take breaks from reading it or I get too moody and thoughtful. VERY good book. Just warning you, it will make you think.

I will most likely share a lot of quotes from this book at one point or another. The quote above is NOT from this book, but the one below is... and I think the both share a similar thought:

You are what you love. No?
You are, completely and only, what you would die for
without, as you say, the thinking twice.

-- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

The obstacles in our lives are unique to us -- they block our ability to gain whatever it is that we most want or need, be it a person, a thing or an ideal. Whatever it is that we want or need - that thing is important to us, so important that we are willing to be uncomfortable, to struggle to overcome that obstacle.
We learn what is most important to us through learning what we are willing to struggle for -- what we are willing to go out of our way to make happen, to work hard for, to make an effort for. A thing is not an obstacle for us unless it is blocking something we want or need to have.

This leads me to two thoughts:

1. That without obstacles, we cannot really understand what we value most. Therefore obstacles, though frustrating, are a necessary evil.

2. That since the things that are most important to me are not always the things most important to other people, it makes sense that the things that are obstacles to me, the things I struggle with, might not seem like such a big deal to other people... and vice versa.

What are the obstacles in your life, in your work, in your parenting that you are struggling to overcome? What does this say about what is most important to you?

Friday, October 25, 2013


Excitement. It's hard not to get excited when someone else is excited, isn't it? You see how jived up they are about whatever it is they are jived up about and it makes you just a bit jived up about it too.

So when I read this quote, from Joyce's Portrait, despite the fact that it was being used to point out how the things being taught to Stephen and his classmates were mere rote with no sense of understanding from those they were meant to educate, I actually saw how this COULD be used to educate... such a simple statement that says so so much.

Excitement is definitely important. As someone in nonprofits, I love passionate people because they are so excited about what they are doing that they are willing to volunteer to do it! I NEED excited people!

But being excited without being SMART.... its like being lost in the ocean. What is the point of being excited if you go off half-crazy and don't think through what it is you are hoping to accomplish? Its easy to get excited about a project, but its important to throw in a bit of caution to keep your course clear ahead! Red balloons are great, but not if you allow them to lift you up into the air and never get back down again!

Be excited. Be passionate. But be SMART too.