It’s December 31st, 2013. I just got home from Appleton. We picked up my pup from her third surgery on the same knee. Here’s hoping that this won’t be the third failed surgery.
And that’s pretty much how 2013 has been. Except… EXCEPT! I started Under the Tapestry. And that has made all the difference! Because each time we chat, I’m reminded that for every dark cloud, there is a silver lining, and that each and every tangled thread I see is part of a much bigger and more lovely picture.
In 2013, I crapped my pants. Twice. We’ve been over this. My stomach was a MESS. A terrible, horrible mess. And I went through a lot of scoping and the like to be diagnosed as cra-a-a-a-zy lactose intolerant. But in the process, I was saved from a pretty much certain fate of colon cancer. So boom– turns out that was pretty awesome!
If that’s not enough to make me believe in silver linings and blessings in disguise, what could?!
For that reason, and many others, I am truly grateful for all the good, and especially the bad, that has happened in 2013. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a lesson or two less in 2014, but I’ll take it as it comes. After all, the bad often comes with a funny story to share and knowing it’s good blog material makes it much more bearable!
Best wishes to you and yours in the coming year, friends!
PS: Tonight, Seth and I are wearing comfies, snuggling our pup, watching tv, eating chips, and struggling to stay up until midnight. Perfection.
Ahhhh… hope. To discuss my thoughts on hope, I really have to start with what I consider the opposite.
Have you ever had a case of the eff-its? It’s a condition to which I am highly susceptible.
Never heard of it? Let me explain.
A case of the eff-its happens when you give up hope and just say EFF IT. So, essentially, it’s the opposite of hope.
I’ve been known to say eff it with respect to eating (ok,especially eating), exercising, cleaning, studying, yard work, cooking, hair styling, grad schooling/experimenting, etc, etc, etc. But if I’m totally honest with myself, as satisfying as screaming EFF IT and diving into some sort of lactose-laced decadence (sans lactaid, because I’m a glutton for punishment when I’m doing it to myself), hope is always better.
In 2013, I was presented with an occasion to choose hope and I hoped harder and more vehemently than I’d ever hoped for anything before. In May, my grandfather fell into a canal in Venice, Italy and took an enormous amount of contaminated water into his lungs. Given his age, lung condition, and long-term history of smoking, the Italian doctors gave him very little chance of survival. But you guys, he pulled through. Against all odds, and perhaps on the strength of hope and love alone. During that time, all I wanted was for my Grandpa to come home again and I hoped for it night and day for the entire month long ordeal. Never once did I feel a sense of despair, never once did I give up hope and say eff it. How could I? The thing I hoped for was worth it.
So perhaps, then, the secret to hope is making sure that the thing you’re hoping for is truly worth it?
When I contract the eff its about diet and exercise, it’s usually because I feel like I’ve eaten something “bad” or failed to work out hard enough, but recently, I embraced the notion of Health At Every Size (HAES) in combination with the idea of living the healthiest life you can enjoy. I can more reasonably hope for a healthy lifestyle and comfort in my own skin than I can hope for a body and/or lifestyle that’s simply not enjoyable for me to maintain.
After 30, I hope for a healthy and enjoyable life.
When I contract the eff its about cleaning, it’s usually because I’m tired and I’ve set unreasonable expectations for myself. I make a mile long to do list and become overwhelmed. But it’s amazing how nice it feels to wake up and make breakfast in a kitchen that’s been tidied up. Just one little thing. And I think I can hope for a basic level of maintenance clean, enough to keep my home a peaceful place for us to live, without feeling the need to edge the carpets and dust the blinds on a weekly basis.
After 30, I hope for a peaceful and comfortable home.
Grad school weakened my mental immune system and I was highly prone to the eff its during that time. In retrospect, I think that’s because the only thing I ever hoped for was to be done. I took no pleasure from the process because it was never the end. And suddenly, the magnet my Aunt Susan gave me during grad school makes so much sense:
Right. Happiness is not defined by getting to the destination, but rather by finding happiness in the moment. I need to hope for happiness rather than the thing I expect to bring it, because if I’ve learned anything in the last 30 years, it’s that happiness can be found in the most unexpected of places.
After 30, I hope for happiness, wherever it may be.
I suppose the place where hope has never really deserted me… no, let me rephrase that. The place where, in my life, I have been least likely to desert hope has been in relationships. There are a lot of people in this world that I love very, very much and as evidenced by the immense hope I held on to while my Grandpa, Grandma, and Aunt suffered through my grandfather’s terrible ordeal in Italy this spring, the hope I can feel for their safety, well-being, and happiness, is truly limitless.
After 30, I will continue to hope for all-things-good-and-faith-and-peace-when-they-are-not for all the people I love.
Hope truly is a thing with feathers and in my first 30 years (or perhaps in the last year of my first 30 years) I’ve learned to appropriately direct it to what truly matters in my life, regardless of the storm. Much like it’s cousin love, hope asks for nothing in return and is not in limited supply. Of course, it can be accompanied by disappointment should the thing you hope for not come to be, but hope for peace or recovery or strength or gratitude can simply take its place.
PS: You know what else was a thing with feathers? Even if only briefly? Dinosaurs. Excellent.
According to Wikipedia (omg, a venue in which I can legitimately cite Wikipedia! hold on for a second while I savor this moment……….. consider it savored!), advent is “a season observed in many Western churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.” Clearly, Wikipedia knows what’s up!
I’ve always liked advent, probably because of the candles, but have really latched on to it with greater fervor in the last year or two. Apparently, someone picked up on that because the day after I frantically scoured all of Marshfield looking for 3 purple candles and a pink one, my mother- and father-in-law dropped off a beautiful advent wreath as an early Christmas gift. (How did they know?! Seth swears he didn’t tell them…) Since I absolutely couldn’t stand the thought of candles that didn’t match, I had settled on four white, vanilla-scented glass votives clustered around a poinsettia. The advent wreath my in-laws gifted to me was much more beautiful and included its own little Nativity scene. I’m in love with it.
I have to be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t actually get to light all of the candles, and certainly not at the appropriate time. It just didn’t feel right to leave my kennel-bound puppy in the other room while we had a nice candlelit dinner (and she cannot be on linoleum right now without doing the whole Bambi-on-ice thing) so we mostly ate near the kennel as we waited for a miracle for the knee-that-simply-will-not-heal.
Even though I didn’t get to light all the candles in my own home, I was still able to reflect on what they mean and how important those things are to this beautiful season.
And lastly, on Christmas day, the Jesus candle, which is in my mind all of those things (hope, peace, joy, and love) wrapped into one.
I had a truly lovely Christmas, enjoying a brief time (marked by an unfortunate ice storm) at my parents’ house in Michigan and a day of gifts and food and warmth at my in-laws in Mosinee. But with Christmas come and gone, my thoughts, as usual, turn to my birthday, which is coming up mid-January.
On January 14th, I will turn 30. And I’ve had lots and lots of feelings about that number, which I plan to discuss later. Thirty feels like it should be something of a big deal. True, there are no new privileges connected to it, like a driver’s license or the ability to rent a car, no major milestones, like your sweet 16 or “adulthood” at 18. (Perhaps you reached the maturity of adulthood at the age of 18; I personally did not. Hence, the quotation marks.) So I’m going to have to do something else to make it a big deal– to reflect on those years between 1984 and 2014 and to decide how I want to enter this new phase of my life.
To use the exact advent imagery might be blasphemous or heretical or something like that (though that’s certainly not the intent). So I think I’ll write some blog posts instead.
This week, I will write about my hopes for 30.
During the week of December 29th, I will write about making peace with 30 and finding joy at 30.
During the week of January 6th, I will write about love at 30 and I will highlight 30 years of silverlinings in my life.
And finally, on Tuesday, January 14th, I will welcome 30 with all of the hope, peace, joy, and love it deserves!
Because I love cake.
And I can’t imagine that 30 is going to change that.
I’d love nothing more this year to send a Christmas to each and every one of you who has been reading along with me at Under the Tapestry because I am just so grateful to you for being such good friends! But with so very, very many readers, the postage becomes somewhat cost prohibitive…
He he, not really that popular, not even close. Actually, I just don’t have the internet skillz (girls only want boyfriends who have great skills! gosh!) to track you all down at home, so instead, I offer you this little snippet– warm winter wishes, a bitty little family photo from the 4th of July in Rhinelander, and my sincere hope that I can continue to make you chuckle every so often in 2014.
Wishing you a very, very merry Christmas and the happiest of happy new years!
PS: I, of course, mean no offense by wishing you a Merry Christmas. I say it only because it’s the winter holiday that I happen to celebrate. So happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Random Wednesday in December, or whatever it is you call your own– I truly just want you to be happy!
PPS: The title of this post totally reminds me of the scene in The Jerk where Steve Martin sings, “I am picking out a thermos for you….” Stuck in your head now, isn’t it? Merry Christmas!
(Like my newspaper-style title? Made me feel pretty clever…)
Have you ever seen The Labyrinth? Please say yes… because David Bowie plus the Muppets, it’s too good!
In case you haven’t had the pleasure, let me give you a very brief synopsis:
Angry at her parents for leaving her home to babysit her little brother, fantasy-loving Sarah wishes that the Goblin King would come and take him away. Which, unfortunately for Sarah, he does. In order to get her brother back, Sarah has to make her way through a massive labyrinth, replete with many interesting characters, both good and bad… on a deadline. I’m sure IMDB does a better job here.
While I love the movie for a lot of reasons (like I said, David Bowie AND the Muppets… what’s no to love?), I’m especially fond of the character Hoggle and I found myself thinking about him the other day.
Hoggle is the first person (or person-like thing) Sarah meets in the labyrinth and she immediately clings to him as a friend. To which Hoggle replies:
“Friend. Huh! I like that. I ain’t never been no one’s friend before.”
But Hoggle messes up. A couple of times. And ends up reassuring himself that he doesn’t need friends and that the only person Hoggle needs is Hoggle. But you can see that he’s totally dejected and lying even to himself as he says it. (Hoggle may be a classic introvert, yes.)
The best part is at the end, when Hoggle realizes that not only is Sarah his true friend, but so are the others in their unlikely band of heroes– Didymus and Ludo. (Didymus is a little foxish dog-like thing who rides a dog around as his noble steed, I just love it!) Ludo even says in his slow, sweet, growl-y voice:
“Hoggle and Ludo frieeeeends…”
It makes me so happy; that organic growth of friendship out of shared experience and necessity.
And I’m delighted to tell you that I’ve somehow managed to scrape together a similar sort of (heroic) band right here in Marshfield.
As I partied with my crew on Friday night (ugly Christmas sweaters and white elephant gift exchange*) I thought about this group of people and how it came to be and the word that kept springing to mind was that old, standby buzz word:
Organic growth is a good thing in business. It’s also valued in the marketplace. People are pretty into organic fruits and veggies, meats, cleaning products, and personal care items. The idea of something being natural, or as-intended, generally has a very positive connotation.
And I guess I’m not sure why I ever thought that friendship would be any different.
I had a really great group of friends in grad school and it was hard to leave and go to a place where my crew wouldn’t be quite so ready-made. And I wasn’t really sure what to do about that. I signed up for several fitness classes, I scoured craigslist and meetup and the library bulletin board for some sort of group or club to join or get involved with, and nothing really worked out. I even got overly excited about a new potential friend after we ran together at an early morning conference 5K and invited her to go fly kites with me (I’m not even kidding… I’m such a nerd…), but it was so forced and just didn’t work out. I was so sad. And somewhat resigned.
I had essentially decided that I would forgo friendship for the time being and focus on family. I assumed that someday I’d have kids and they would make friends and I would become de facto friends with their parents. Problem solved.
As I pursued that route of action (or non-action, really), hanging out primarily with my husband and his sister and brother-in-law, something rather curious happened. We got involved in sand volleyball at a local supper club, Sister Doctor invited people she knew from the clinic, Seth invited another soccer referee and his wife who were also new to the area, and things kind of just… happened. Turns out, one of Sister Doctor’s resident friends lived next door to the soccer ref and his wife. The wife is a teacher and had another friend from work interested in getting together… the weather got cold, volleyball ended, and we started playing board games… and then started a book club…. and then had a Christmas bash… and planned another for New Years Eve… and look at this. Friends.
Hoggle has friends.
It wasn’t fast, but it also wasn’t forced. And I think, for me, that has made all the difference.
*A white elephant gift exchange is something I was not familiar with. I assumed it was a small secret santa-style gift exchange. Wrong. But I didn’t bother to google it until after I’d already bought gifts for Seth and me. So I was the nerd who brought a homemade pan of apple butter cinnamon rolls and a jar of cream cheese frosting to go with and a lovely little Christmas cactus and box of frosted Christmas tree pretzels. White elephant fail! Although, I walked out with a sweet inflatable ninja turtle punching bag, I don’t that’s a tacky gift at all!!
You know how in cartoons, a good smell will come wafting by and the character floats along on the stream of good smells until they find what it is that smells so dang good? Like this:
(Note: if you click on the link to the picture source, you’ll find a recipe from May the Fork Be with You for homemade pierogies with kielbasa that looks to… die… for… Definitely going to have to try that.)
Anyway, I was sitting in my office this morning when that exact thing happened to me.
A delicious smell touched my nose and I floated up, up, up out of my chair and down the hall toward what was truly a sight to behold!
I’ve mentioned before that I have some pretty stellar coworkers. And by stellar I mean, of course, out-of-this-flipping-world. But it’s not just my coworkers that are completely awesome.com. The people who work near us are awesome as well. And my friend Debbie Crocker is no exception.
Although, she is exceptional. And she was responsible for that heavenly smell.
Debbie Crocker went ALL OUT to celebrate Christmas with us today! She brought homemade chicken fettuccine alfredo with garlic and parmesan to top it! She brought big puffy rolls and butter to spread on them– with a Christmas tree-topped spreader! And the cookies, my goodness! Debbie Crocker is famous for her annual cookie day and she brought us the spoils! And in case all that weren’t enough, she even brought a deliciously cheesy chip dip as an appetizer! Un-be-lieve-a-ble!
I know it looks like your typical office potluck. But it’s not– Debbie Crocker brought in and made everything herself. And this is what it actually looked like in person (i.e. through my eyes) because the photo above just does’t do it justice:
(I really identify with Miss Piggy, FYI.)
This woman’s heart… it’s just so big, so beautiful, so good… so overflowing with kindness and positivity and joy. My heart swells just looking at her! And I can tell you without a doubt, that today, I am feeling very loved (and very, very full) and I’m sure all of my coworkers (and even Sister Doctor who was invited for lunch!) do too. Because this is a very, very special woman.
You know the end of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens– Scrooge becomes a changed man and says, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” My dear friend Debbie Crocker is that person, the person who has Christmas in her heart, and happiness and goodness besides, the whole year round.
Today, she was absolutely the Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge after his revelation. The Grinch after his heart burst the little measuring doo-hicky. But most importantly, Deb is like that every day– every. single. day. She is just awesome. And while I know I can never be just like Deb, because she’s truly one-of-a-kind, she does inspire me to do everything I can to make others feel as good as she makes me feel through kindness and love.
Kindness and love and cookies. Christmas cookies.
PS: Did you notice the falling snow on the blog?! Isn’t that awesome! I’m in love with it!
Have you ever been to London? And if you have, did you ride the Underground?
In 2009, I went. And I did. And it was every bit as awesome as I ever could have imagined.
True, I was living in DC at the time and the DC Metro really isn’t that different from the London Underground, and yet, it felt quite different to me. My favorite thing? The warnings to “mind the gap”:
And even better was how polite people were. Until recently, I had a nasty habit of severely over packing when I traveled. (Don’t worry, baggage fees and lost luggage have essentially cured me.) As I lugged my ridiculously large suitcase around in London, people constantly offered me help. My favorite line: “Can you manage, love?”
He called me love! What an excellent term of endearment! I hope I can make it a habit when I have kids someday, because it’s just too good!
Last week, I had a well-timed therapy session as I was nearing a melt down and I was reminded of how frequently we need to mind the gap– and not just when us Yanks are tooling around London. But everyday. (My therapist agreed that it would make an awesome blog post– he’s super blog-supportive, I love it. Nothing like validation from a medical professional to convince a crazy person they’re doing it right!)
You see, our world is full of gaps– big ones– between society and biology, and some of them have become dangerously large. At least to me.
Our food is engineered to maximize bliss. Don’t believe me? Check out Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss. It’s hard to know quite how to eat when our biology is constantly being manipulated for the purpose of increasing consumption.
Sleep patterns are pretty disrupted by the availability of light on demand… not to mention all that screen time. A recent study found that after just a week of camping, away from artificial light and modern technology, study participants’ internal clocks essentially “reset” to sync with the sun.
Fertility is another big one– our biological peak fertility occurs when, from a societal perspective, having kids is something of a no-no (unless you can get yourself on MTV). I’ve heard that the most sure fire way to get pregnant is to be 16 and in the back of a car. For many of us, that ship has long since sailed…
And I could go on listing gaps, chasms even, between biology and society in many different areas– body image and expectations, women’s equality and femininity, familial instinct and the mommy wars, etc, etc, etc.
So what are we to do? How are we to balance the things dictated by our biology with the expectations we face in our society?
The best answer I can come up with is relatively simple:
Trust your gut. Trust your eyeballs. Trust your heart. Trust your instincts to lead you in the right direction for YOU.
Trust yourself to mind the gap.
And trust that others are minding it for themselves.
With respect to food, I agree with Dr. Yoni Freedhoff in believing that the best life for ME is the healthiest one I can enjoy– and that includes food choices. I try my best to eat the carrots, but often eat the cookie too. That’s cool.
With respect to sleep, I believe that the best thing you can do for yourself is listen to your body. I’m not exactly the best sleeper, but naps have recently become something of a hobby for me. And it is good.
And fertility– how about if we all just stop asking about it? I believe I discussed leaving other people alone when it came to s-e-x a while ago (see numbers 11 and 12). And I’m pretty sure this is an extension of that. Someone else’s choice or not choice to have or not have children is really nunya bizness. And if you haven’t already, read this— it’s genius. Says it much better than I ever could.
And in all those other myriad ways in which our society bucks biology, we just have to do the best we can to avoid tripping or getting stuck or falling in, whatever it is that the London transportation authorities are so concerned about, that gap… we must mind it, love!
…but because we’re all in this together, perhaps lending a hand with a suitcase every now and then would be good too.
Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, Jamie, King George, Harry… worth the watch all on his own.
Anyway, in the movie, two men (two British men) pretend to be named Ernest because, as the lovely little Cecily says:
“… it has always been a girlish dream of mine to love a man named Ernest.”
Can I ever relate! Except it was the name Seth that really did it for me. Happily ever after. The end.
(Kidding of course, it was his singing! Car singing… that’s what really won me over!)
Anyway, both Jack and Algy pretend to be named Ernest– Ernest Worthing. Until their fiances get together, find out they’re both engaged to Mr. Ernest Worthing, the men have to come clean, and hilarity (musical hilarity, I might add!) ensues! Admittedly, I am not done watching the movie (I couldn’t stay on the elliptical that long), but I plan to finish it tonight and I’m pretty sure I get the message:
And I can get behind that!
You see, my good friend Lee Chim went on a first date with a gentleman suitor this weekend and as she regaled us with the tales of the somewhat dorky awkwardness that the date entailed this morning, I couldn’t help but smile and smile and smile. (Oh, look! I’m smiling again!!) Because that’s who she is– to a T. Lee is a little bit dorky, a little bit awkward, but kind to the absolute center of her core. And she had FUN being herself: dorky, awkward, and kind. A lot of fun. Enough fun to want to do it again. And so did he! Even though she opened the door for him (chivalry goes both ways, people! especially in the great white north!) and ended the evening with an awkward handshake-hug-pat-on-the-back combo– she was still the vibrant and lovely Lee, just being herself, the “pretty lady” that she is (he totally called her that– swoon!) and that was what I’m certain won him over.
Lee went on her date as Lee, not as Ernest. (See the connection I’m making here?) Pretending to be someone you’re not can be pretty funny in the movies, but seems like an awful lot of work without the possibility of much reward in real life.
I can’t be the only one who finds faking it exhausting, can I? And even more so, frustrating when it’s someone else putting on a front for me!
I love Lee for Lee (she’s seriously amazing you guys, and yes, I’m putting some extra compliments here at the end because I am banking on forgiveness in the morning! but I really do mean it… I cannot tell you how glad I am to have met her!! and to see her have fun on her date!!) and tonight I’ll find out if Cecily and Gwendolyn are willing to love their Ernest Worthings even if they go by Algy and Jack instead (don’t worry– it’s a romantic comedy, all signs point to yes). In my life, I’ve spent a lot of time pretending to be something I’m not. (I’d like to say trying rather than pretending, but I’m also trying to be honest with you here… so I’ll keep it real. Pretending it is.) And not once has it ever paid off.*
I have a sneaky feeling that (if you look for it love actually is all around… couldn’t help it after I started the sentence that way!) Lee would prefer to be loved for being her authentic self, dorkiness and all. That’s why I love her, to be sure! (Dorky is my love language, y’all.) And all the most important people in my life love me in the same way. Warts and all, as they say! (But seriously, I had a lot of warts on my left knee when I was growing up, it was unfortunate.)
*Ok, actually, there was that one time… when I pretended to molt at the dinner table for a while and begged for reptilian company to molt with, I did actually get an iguana for Christmas. That paid off pretty handsomely. But that was the only time, I swear.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: unless you’re trying to get your parents to buy you a lizard for Christmas, it’s probably best to just be yourself.
PS: Lee Chim is just a super clever nickname– got to protect the innocent and all that! Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is, well, because that’s the point… 😉 I love you, Lee Chim!! <3
I had such a great start to my day today. It was 7 degrees below zero this morning and the windchill was something ridiculously below that. It was cool though, because I dressed warm with a hat and mittens and all that, but I still wasn’t exactly looking forward to the hike from my car to the building. But, I noticed when I parked that one of the security vehicles stopped in front of me (I pulled through– because it makes me feel smug to not have to reverse when I leave) and rolled down his window.
My initial reaction was “CRAP! Am I outside the lines or something?!” but that nice, nice man offered me a ride to the building instead! Seriously?! I was thrilled! I usually enjoy a nice walk to start my day and again in the evening, but this snot-freezing cold isn’t exactly pleasant. So instead, I climbed in, he cranked the heat, and we listened to Christmas tunes and chatted until he dropped me off right at the door. I was absolutely delighted by this small kindness!
But, I’ve got to admit, I was also feeling kind of smug when I stepped out of that car and walked right up the stairs and in the door, barely feeling the chill. And I thought to my self, “Good grief! The things that make me feel smug are so silly! I should make a list.” And this is that list.
Things That Make Me Feel Smug
Living somewhere colder than you. I know, it’s ridiculous, right? I of course have absolutely no control over the weather and neither do you, and yet, when it’s colder here than it is there– I get smug. The high for today: -2 degrees. Smugness.
Being able to reach that thing on the top shelf. I’m tall and I have got some seriously monkey-style arms. Before I instituted a ban on negative self-talk (for other people mostly, but sometimes they call me on it), I complained about it a lot. And yet, when there’s something up high that needs to be grabbed, I feel super smug when I’m the only one that can do it.
Having a real Christmas tree. Real trees are messy and expensive and can be a major source of bother for allergy sufferers… and yet, having a real one makes me feel totally smug. Please don’t mistake smugness for judgement. This is about me, not you. But that tree, it gets me!
When I hit 10,000 steps in a day. I wear an UP band every day (I’ve told you about that before) and those days when I hit my goal (and the goal everyone is supposed to have or something) I feel totally smug. Boom… step x 10,000! I rule!
Using my passport when I travel domestically. Unnecessary? Oh yes. But it makes me feel so worldly. Like yeah, I have a passport, it’s really NBD. (Except the first time I tried to use my passport at BWI, the TSA guy was like, “Is this your first time using your passport?” I, naturally, beamed at him with a huge YES and started going on about my vacation. To which he responded, “You need to sign it.” Not so smug right then.)
Having an out-of-state driver’s license. I was truly sad the day I had to get my new Wisconsin license because being carded was no longer so exciting. I loved buying a bottle of wine at Festival Foods and having the cashier ask me when I moved here and why. It was a fun little way to start a conversation. And it made me feel super smug– yeah, I did just move here from a big city, whatevs. I’m a Sconi through and through now, though. No more smugness… unless I get carded in California. That still makes me feel smuggy– just a little Sconi from a small town on vacation in SoCal 😉
Buying a whole chicken. I was scared of roasting a whole chicken for a really long time. Until I did it once. It was actually crazy easy and oh so ridiculously delicious. I’ve loved doing it ever since. And I always feel so smug when I buy one. Look at me, buying this whole chicken like Julia Child, and yes, I am going to season and cook it myself. I’m even going to make stock out of the carcass. Go ahead, be impressed.
How about you? What makes you feel smug? I can’t be the only one.
I had a friend in college who always looked smug, my friend Aimee and I (yes, that Aimee) called him Smuggums– appropriate and a palindrome. Making up good nicknames makes me feel smug too… just ask my sister, Shabsky.
I’ve been working on this post for kind of a while, but have been struggling at keeping it from turning into an angry rant. You see, I recently pinned a little saying on Pinterest that I think is so important and I have embraced it as something of a blog motto– a blotto.
Buuuuutttt… I kind of want to talk about something that SUPER bugs me. So what’s a girl to do? Flip it, that’s what! I did it when I talked about the 23 things a while back. And I’m going to do it again here. Get ready for this masterpiece!
When I smile, my whole entire face kind of goes with it and it always has. When I was in high school, a friend once said, “Can you even see when you smile?” The answer: not always. My eyes get tiny when my cheeks go up, I can’t help it.
On me, not smiling when I’m happy just doesn’t look natural (seriously, I have wedding pictures to prove it).
But smiling when I’m not happy? Don’t make me go there.
My smile is mine to give away when I please and I firmly believe that I am under no obligation to anyone to provide a smile on command. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t have to do it. And when people tell me to “smile” it annoys the pants off of me.
Don’t tell me to do it– give me something worth smiling about! Then we’ll talk. Or maybe we won’t, maybe I’ll just beam at you and we’ll call it good.
Either way, I think that the smile command has roots in the good girl, the pretty girl, the happy, compliant, silent girl. And all of that is probably the reason for my general disdain.
A while ago, one of my coworkers was patted on the head and asked to be good (not literally, of course, but that was definitely the point) because of my “bad” behavior in the past. I can’t help but think that if I had I been a man and behaved the way I did or had my coworker been a man attending the meeting after me, the message would have been very different… or perhaps not been conveyed at all. She didn’t need to be told to be good or that I had acted badly. Instead, my actions should have been viewed as a product of an unfortunate situation– one that, if not repeated, would give no reason for anyone else to behave similarly.
Again: change the situation if you want a different outcome, don’t just offer up a meaningless command.
Asking our girls to smile for us is, in my mind, akin to asking my coworker to be a good girl as an adult. That’s not really ok. Because why would you ever want someone to be disingenuous?
Little girls need to know that it’s ok to express their feelings, even if not verbally, then at least on their own dang face. If we note a frown, perhaps we should be asking why. From there, perhaps we could work together on a solution, or maybe just offer a little bit of support.* But what good does telling someone to smile do except to suggest that whatever has caused them not to smile is somehow invalid?
So I guess what I’m promoting (because I’m promoting, not bashing, remember?) is this: the right of women everywhere to express their emotions on their face. If they’re happy, smiles are welcome! If they’re not, no one has any right to expect it, let alone ask for it. So who cares if you have “b****y resting face” as the kids are calling it these days– your face is your face, and I’m sure it’s lovely regardless.
And as Roald Dahl says: If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
Perhaps we need more good thoughts of which to think!
*Or you could try a really awesome joke. Here’s one of my favorites, my sister (the blood-related one, Sister Engineer) made this one up all by herself:
What did the robot say when I asked it to clean my room?
I don’t know, what?
Good one, Ab. Pure gold 😉
Or if that doesn’t work– consider a little song, like this one my little brother made up (to the tune of You Are My Sunshine):
You are my dinosaur, my only dinosaur
You make me happy when skies are PURPLE
You’ll never know, dinosaur, how much I love you, dinosaur
So please don’t take my dinosaur away!
They both make me smile, anyway! (Literally smiling right now! And with good reason!)