Three Simple Ways To Reframe Life

Good evening, Dear Reader! It was a beautiful day to snuggle under the covers with a good book, but I had to work. I plan to indulge this weekend, but until then, I just wanted to chat with you. 

On Wednesday before bed, my son asked me if I’d get something from his backpack ‘that was really cool’. So I grabbed his bag, and inside I found a mid-sized squishy ball. (My son is autistic, and he likes squishy things). I thought, “That is a cool ball. Wonder where he got that?”. So I asked him how he became the purveyor of such a remarkable object. He devised an elaborate story centered on wheelin’ and dealin’. He ended his narrative by asking for $2 to pay the previous owner. While I was impressed by his creativity (he’s quite the storyteller, that one), something in my gut whispered, “Lies! Lies! It’s all a bunch of lies!”

I looked at him through narrowed eyes and said…

“I’m going to ask you again where you got this ball, and if you lie to me, you will be in more trouble than if you tell me the truth.”

His eyes widened. He looked down, and his lower lip quivered. Then he looked me dead in the eye.

“I took it.”

“Took it from whom?” I calmly asked.

“From the gym teacher.”

I looked at my little thief and said, “Thank you for telling me the truth. Enjoy that ball tonight because tomorrow you’ll return it.” I kissed him on the forehead and left the room. I then located his PE teacher on Facebook and messaged him to let him know that we needed to meet with him in the morning. I didn’t mention why. 

Long story short: My son returned the ball. He apologized. The coach explained why things should not be taken from the school. He even offered to let my kid borrow the ball, informing him that it needed to be arranged in advance because other kids needed it for gym class. 

No one yelled at him. I had given prior directions on the proper way to apologize. His PE teacher informed him of the expectations for borrowing the ball. There are consequences to match the infraction. I think all of this is appropriate. I mean, the kid already felt terrible. Why shame him?

This brings me to today’s post. As adults, we constantly rehash our past mistakes and try hard to be better adults by obsessing over what we do wrong. We, essentially, shame ourselves every single day. Here’s an idea: How about we don’t do that anymore? Let’s consider stopping and shrugging while we whisper, “That no longer serves me. Think I’ll do something different.” 

I’ve got three simple ways to navigate life for you this morning that will help reframe how you’ve always done things. Frankly, they are so simple I’m wondering why it’s taken me nearly 51 years to embrace them.

Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s go.

1) Your strength comes from knowing your weaknesses. I’m not too fond of job interviews. “Tell us your greatest strength. Tell us your greatest weakness.” Well, Karen, I’ve learned that sometimes my weaknesses can be my greatest strengths. I can be hyper-focused which makes me a good problem-solver. Office chit-chat bores me, so I finish my work and meet deadlines. When you understand your weaknesses, they can become a source of strength. 

2) Accepting your flaws makes you beautiful. I love the television shows that take a frumpy middle-aged mom (um…yeah) and give her wardrobe an overhaul, essentially turning a frog into a princess. I have flaws. We all do. But I am learning to appreciate mine. For example, since learning I am susceptible to others’ energy, I’ve learned to set better boundaries. Because I set better boundaries, I’ve become a calmer and kinder person. Instead of thinking, “God. Why can’t I be more gregarious and outgoing?”, I’ve accepted that I don’t really like people much. I’ve become more selective about where I spend my time and energy. I’m also carrying a few extra pounds – which some people may consider a flaw – but that makes me a good candidate for a “cheeseburger and a beer” date. I hear most men appreciate that. You, like me, are flawed…and you’re beautiful. 

3) Your mistakes equal wisdom. My friends and I went to hear a local favorite, Isaac Kenneth, sing his sultry lyrics. The topic of dating musicians came up somehow. My friend said, “I wanted to be a musician when I grew up.” I scoffed and replied, “You can’t be both a musician and a grown-up.” Which got a little chuckle…but still. My experience with loving a musician led me to realize that they are a lot like expensive cars: Fun to look at…but really pricey to maintain. Now, not all musicians are bad. I’m sure there are hard-working, kind musicians who aren’t prone to infidelity out in the world…somewhere. But falling madly in love with a musician is a mistake I made once and am not willing to make again. You may have learned that taking a job just because it pays well may not be the right path for you. Or maybe you’ve learned that when your child comes up with a creative story that seems a bit unbelievable…it’s because it’s not truthful. Perhaps you’ve learned that one too many arguments rehashing the same exact thing means nothing is really going to change. So, repeat this: I made the best decision possible with the information I had at the time. Then ask yourself how you can choose something different if faced with that same dilemma again. A mistake is just that… A Miss Take. Take a different route next time. The new path is where wisdom meets the road.

And with that, my friend, I leave you with a song. This upbeat 1994 song by Des’ree encourages you to dig deep and discover your true self. It promotes bravery, serenity, and honesty. I think that if you consider my three tips, you’ll become bolder, tougher, stronger, and cooler. She’s right, though, about one thing: Love will save the day. But that starts with self-love.

Dear Reader, if you liked this post, share it on all those social thingys. Please and thank you.

Stop Going To The Circus

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I hope my shouting didn’t affect that hangover of yours. If it did, well, you must have enjoyed the evening, and that’s all that matters. Me? I don’t deal with amateurs and value my life, so I cuddled up on the couch with John Cusack (“Serendipity”) and good wine. I expanded my mixology knowledge a bit by experimenting with expensive whiskey. I learned how to make a damn good Old Fashioned (Hint: Simple syrup and good bourbon. Do. Not. I repeat: Do not skimp.).

I also found a way to make “handcrafted” Amaretto, which I intend to make a dessert out of this weekend. But, alas, you don’t come here for cooking advice and drink recipes – although my mixed drinks are pretty damn good at times – so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

The new year is here. The slate is clean if you want it to be. This is the time of year when folks decide to make resolutions and set goals, only to break or discard them a few months down the road. So, if that’s the way it always goes, how about we turn the tradition upside down for a change. Yes, instead of ADDING to our life (more gym time, more activities, more stuff), why don’t we SUBTRACT from it? I ended 2021 with this post and encouraged you to do just that, right?

So, what shall we get rid of, you say. Well, I’m sure you aren’t surprised that I happen to have some advice for you on that. So, grab a drink. Settle in. I have one main point today to get you started.

Got that drink? Great.

Put a cease and desist order on any toxic relationships. Toxic people are really nothing more than insecure, self-loathing individuals. And here’s a shocker for you: Every single one of us has the potential to be toxic. Our odds double if we are in a relationship with another toxic person. Newsflash: you can’t control the other person’s unhealthy behaviors, but you damn sure can control yours. So, let’s get to it, shall we?

1) Admit that you might be part of the problem. Oooo. Ouch. But, as ‘they’ say: The first part of solving a problem is admitting there is one. Even if you grew up in a loving home, never do drugs, get adequate rest and eat your veggies, everyone can be toxic at times. How do you know if you’re toxic? People will finally get sick of you, put on their shoes, and walk out the door. Simple as that.

2) Learn to like yourself. Yeah, let’s not even fast-forward to ‘love yourself’. Let’s take baby steps, and begin with simply liking yourself. Get some therapy – no, really, get in treatment – to get you over yourself. ‘Tis the season (as it gets colder and darker) to get a grip on this stuff. Waiting until April, when it is warmer and there is more daylight, to be a nice person again is unacceptable.

3) Let go of your resentments. Hey, I’m a Virgo, so I fully understand that this is no easy task. Virgos can hold grudges like no other sun sign, and we can even dream of ways to hide bodies if we are furious. I was so resentful for so long that I missed out on dating a great man a few years ago. He told me on our first – and only – date that “Maybe you should get over being so angry at your ex before you date anyone”. Hmmm. Ya think? Don’t tell him this, but he was right. What happened after that date? I kept dating other people with issues that compounded my own until I couldn’t do it anymore. One day I realized that being resentful was affecting most areas of my life. So, I got up, dusted off, and moved on. Best advice I ever got? Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus. Dang, that was good. (Oh, and that first date guy? After stalking my blog, he realized I’m fun now and finally asked me out again four years later. And bonus: He even likes expensive whiskey. Insert “Yay” gif of your choice.)


4) Act like a plant. Get more sunlight, drink enough water, talk nicely to yourself and you will grow. I’m not much of a gardener. I wrote about my black thumb here, but funny thing…the better I got at loving myself, the better off my plants have faired. Vow to save a life today – namely, yours – but also that sad-looking vine-thing you call a decoration.

5) Find some hobbies and volunteer to help others. The best advice my therapist gave me was to find three hobbies that would help me from being so self-centered: One to stoke my creative fire, one that got me moving, and one that made me money. She encouraged me to volunteer with children, so I stepped up more at my son’s school. If you help others and see that you are making a difference, you’ll feel better. It’s really hard to feel sorry for yourself when you see a child who has duct-taped his shoes together. Your so-called sorry-assed life is put into perspective really, really quickly.

6) Read a minimum of ten pages from a motivational book every day. You might read the Bible, but I encourage you to expand your reach. I personally love “The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F***”, but you do you (Not ready to read? Watch her TedTalk). Other great books to get your started are listed here. (Not a single Brene Brown book on the list. You’re welcome.)

The bottom line is that you need to recognize when you have headed down the slippery toxic slope. Here’s a great article that may help you figure out the problem. Here’s another one that may help you realize if, indeed, your relationship is toxic.

Sticking with my tradition from 2021, I leave you with a song today. If you click that link and you really do feel unwell, even though I make light of a lot of things in this blog, mental unwellness is not one of them. Please believe me when I tell you I understand depression, anxiety, and all those things bring to the table. So, I urge you to reach out and get some help. There’s power in doing that and you will get through this. {Chin up, tits out.} Claim 2022 as the year you stop going to the circus.

If you have any ideas for blogs in 2022, let me know. I’m putting together one that tells you how I raised my credit score from 480 (Do. Not. Judge. Me.) to 720 in a little under 24 months. It was all very empowering, and I never did have to give up wine or cut out Netflix in the process. Hint: It’s not magic. It’s a puzzle. You like puzzles, right? Good. Stay tuned.