Pick your battles

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I was first introduced to this phrase years ago when I lived with my ex boyfriend and his three children.  At the time when I became a major part of their lives, they were a mere 6, 8 and 11 years old and were dealing with the divorce of their parents.   I had the fortune of knowing them for years before their father and I were involved so I did not take on the role of “step-monster”.  I instead had a solid foundation for a relationship with all of them.  But that did not mean the transition was easy for any of us.

There were certainly days that I found more frustrating than others, as I’m sure they did as well, and inevitably arguments ensued.  It wasn’t until their father and I were having a chat one night over a much-needed glass of wine that he bestowed a little gem on me.  He pointed out the glaringly obvious problem – I was trying too hard to win the battles and not every war in that house was going to be won – by anyone.  That stunning revelation was a game changer.  Pick your battles – such a simple phrase with epic results.

It’s hard to take a step backwards and give yourself a “time out” to realize what the audible scrimmage is really about.  You have to decide if the fight is worth the effort you are putting forth to win.   It could be an argument that, at the end of the day, really has no great effect on the bigger picture but the negative energy from the conflict just may.  You must go in with a strategy but be willing to change tactics and maneuver away from the barrage of verbal banter.

If it’s not a life changing situation, give a little.  You’ll spend countless minutes and hours trying to be right when it isn’t going to change the rotation of your world.  Sometimes all of the smaller problems can become compounded and the war you face can seem extremely overwhelming.  You must learn to choose your crusades wisely.  Learn to cloak your emotions until you can see ahead of the problem that burdens your path.

The age-old saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is the same gift in different wrapping.  I have carried this ideal with me throughout the years and it has served me well.  Pick your battles – be proud of the scars of war but make sure the ones you earned were worth the fight.

They just needed to point a little harder

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The words are back, the characters are active and the book is alive.  Motivation is a fickle thing.  For months I have been wanting to get back to the book but life had a way of coming first.

Suddenly I find myself overwhelmed by the personalities who are craving attention.  These poor characters have been so neglected that they are doing everything they can to be heard.  The voice recorder on my phone is never far away since these voices seem to have no sense of time.  They pay no attention to the blackness of the night sky and chatter incessantly in my ears.  After not writing a single word about them over the last couple of months, I have recorded almost 5000 words in two days because they do not want to be silent anymore.

I’m happy for their intrusion.  I welcome their chatter.  And I am willing to lose sleep to hear their stories.  Fingers crossed, over the next few months I can keep up this pace and have a book at the end of this.  Keep pointing fellas….it seems to be working.

 

Finding your strength

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“It doesn’t take a lot of strength to hang on, it takes a lot of strength to let go.” ~ J.C. Watts

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I was born a “fixer” and, until a few years ago, I had spent a great deal of my time taking on other people’s burdens as my own.  But something shifted in the paradigm of my reality when I got divorced in 2012.  I realized I was spending too much of my time trying to change a life that was not mine to change.  I was hanging on to problems that irrevocably had impact on my life but I had no power to solve.  I needed to let go.  But I was so stuck in the pattern of my life that I didn’t know how to let go.  I wanted so desperately for things to work out in my life that I honestly thought that this was the syllabus of my future.

It takes a monumental amount of courage to walk away from a relationship that you have put your heart and soul into but a relationship has to give you what you need for it to be successful.  By its very definition, a relationship is a form of communication.  Wants and needs are expressed and, in a healthy relationship, are reciprocated without condition.  Such was not the case for me and I knew it.  I felt it deep within myself but it took me a long time to admit it because to do that would have made me feel like I had failed.  But I had only failed myself by not seeing the signs sooner and listening to that nagging inner voice.

I finally found the nerve to put my needs first and, in finally letting go, I gave myself permission to define myself according to my needs and not the needs of anyone else.  The strength to hang on was easy, it was my comfort zone, but finding the strength to let go made me feel eviscerated, vulnerable and it was not something I was accustomed to.

I wanted to write this post because I have friends now in the situation in which I found myself years ago.  I want them to know that letting go is not always the easy choice, but it may be the right choice, for them.   It may be hard to listen to that petulant voice in your head, but that voice is the most sincerely honest advice you will ever get.

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Don’t give up easily.  If it is worth the fight, than fight, fight like your life depends on it.  But if you know in your heart that nothing will ever change, let go, let go like your life depends on it.

Yes, I’m going to say it again…..

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I loathe the word nagging.  I much prefer the term ‘getting your point across in a relatively passive-aggressive way’.

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When I feel strongly about something, I can be a bit overwhelming in my pursuit and subsequent follow-up.  While my intentions are completely honorable, my execution can be somewhat irritating.  But at the heart of my bothersome behavior is my desire to see the benefit of my persistence far outweigh the burden of my pestering.

I really do want the best for people.  And sometimes I feel like the droning sound of my voice, saying the same thing over and over again, will eventually have its desired effect.  But I can hear myself.  I can hear the warming of my vocal chords as they prepare to drown the recipient in their ambient sound waves.  And although the compulsion is unrelenting, if I am lucky, sometimes I can catch myself before the melodic tone of my incessant chatter reaches maximum annoyance.

On the bad days, I do see my nagging as a challenge – a moment to rise above the urge to deliver unwarranted advice.  But on the good days, I see my nagging as a strength – a moment to reflect on the genuine feeling of emotion behind the message I am trying to convey.  Regardless of which day it really is, I am compelled to react because the apprehension I feel for a situation is directed at a person who is very close to my heart.

Although the word nagging is derived from a Scandinavian word meaning “to gnaw”, I like to think of my foray into personal harassment as more of a nibble.  And if you find yourself on the opposite end of one of my lectures, please know it comes from a place of love and from nowhere else.

When did I become THIS person?

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I would never have described myself as being overly adventurous in my youth.  I wasn’t afraid to try new things in my teens and early twenties but my limits for risky undertakings were much higher then and now my willingness to live on the edge (or a reasonable facsimile of the edge) has completely diminished.

I have not felt the desire for wanderlust that seems to be an affliction for so many of my friends.  I am content to live vicariously through the tales of their adventures and to witness their triumphs through the photographic journey that they provide as a backdrop for the narrative of their experience.

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I have always been a homebody.  I prefer a “staycation” to a long line in an airport terminal with the risk of acquiring some form of contagious bacteria to bring home as a souvenir.  I would not go so far as to say that I have become a recluse but the evidence is mounting and the verdict could completely contradict my argument for my defense.

Where once I would brave the terrain and the elements, I now shy away from driving in bad weather.  I don’t like driving at night anymore because my eyesight feels somewhat compromised in the dark and I make the excuse that it is for the safety of the other drivers on the road.  And I shrink into my couch every time gale force winds undulate through the bare branches and howl outside of my window.

But I have come to realize that my plight is not one of fear.  It is one of freedom.  I have allowed myself to be just that, myself.  I am not going to jump behind the wheel of my car because someone thinks I am paranoid and I want to prove them wrong.  I make no excuses.  I ask for no sympathy.  I simply live the way I want to live.  I am quite content to sit in my living room with my computer in my lap and blog about the fact that I am comfortable becoming THIS person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have resolved only one thing….

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I am not a fan of making resolutions for the new year.  I have never followed the time-honored tradition of making a list of things that, once they are scripted, seem somewhat ridiculous and marginally unattainable.  I have known enough disappointment in my life to know that setting myself up for a possible failure, in a manuscript penned only by me, is not an option.

But this year something changed.  A small cog in the wheel of my thought process became stuck for a short period of time and had me reflecting on the past year and the role that social media played in perpetuating a plethora of misguided and angry posts.  No topic was sacred and no member of any social media outlet came out unscathed.

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Friendships have been lost or irrevocably changed.  Lines have been drawn in the sand and sides have been taken.  The majority of posts I ignored and would not engage in a battle, political or otherwise, without the benefit of being able to see my opponent.  It is easy to send a cascade of beliefs out into the cyber world without having to actually face your adversary.  There is a level of comfort enjoyed when you are typing your emotional mitigation without the burden of having to face a rebuttal.  You can simply turn off your device and ignore the reply.

So my resolution this year is simple and it came as no surprise.  I have resolved to not post any negative statements this year.  This does not mean I will not have strong opinions on many topics.  It simply means I will hold my pessimistic views about any issues until a fair and just way of sharing those sentiments presents itself in a personal and neutral setting.

Social media makes voicing thoughts far too easy without taking that extra moment to calm down before we type.  Just thinking about how many eyes may read what I write has made me want to be much more culpable for the content of my posts.  Fingers crossed I can hold my tongue if the need arises!

 

More than rainbows….

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That inspired moment,

the moment that seemed to stop in time,

when there were so many things I wanted to say,  yet,

none of them would come out.

Silence stole the spotlight,

but there was a shared comfort in that quiet.

I realized,

in that muted moment,

when the silence was deafening,

that I didn’t need to say anything.

My words needed no sound.

The emotion in my reticence spoke volumes.

And in that breath of repose,

everything I wanted to tell you,

you already knew.

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