Twelve years ago I became the mother of twins.
The awesomeness of these two little people cannot be understated.
However, there were some aspects of twin motherhood that can also not be understated....the sleep deprivation and agony of feeding them.
In my fatigued and pained delirium I turned to an old fashioned cure recommended by many generations of wise women on Google.
Cabbage in the bra...
I was willing to try anything, so I got some fresh cabbage leaves and tucked a couple away. Then I waited for the promised relief.
As I was waiting, I got lost in the demands of the day. One baby cries, do something! Another baby cries, do something! Stop moving, start drooling, experience multiple micro-sleeps. This pattern of activity really doesn't make a person very reasonable.... like, at all.
Suddenly, my attention was captured by a faint something or other. I was so upset that my precious baby seemed, well, smelly. (Can't recall which baby.) What's wrong with her??? Change diaper, bathe... it's not better. I'm a terrible mother because I have a smelly baby no matter what I do! What's going to happen when she goes to elementary school? She'll have no friends and have to sit in the back of the room all alone because she stinks.
Just as I was about to call their dad to break the news about our child's, as yet undiagnosed, odorous condition I remembered... the old cure for nursing pain... cabbage... long since wilted. Cue the joyous music and epiphany that my child was really as fresh as a daisy and the problem wasn't what I thought it was! Telling the girls this story now always makes me cry with laughter because they are mortified.
But seriously, there is a good life lesson here.
When we are at our most tired and emotionally exhausted it's so easy to jump to conclusions and misidentify the real source of an issue. When we are ravaged by the blessings of life we become susceptible to the ultimate worst case scenario. You know, that really stinks... but it's true.
Lesson for Today: Be careful! The problem may not be what you think.
We've all gotten a bad gift before. But, I have to say that a few years back my Brother-in-Law Aaron recieved the WORLD'S WORST present... like...ever.
He was gifted with a Pregnant Dog.
At first Aaron had no idea that there were pending "bonuses" coming along with his newly acquired pet. That realization came later. The gift just kept getting better and better!
While most of us have not actually gotten a pregnant dog, we have all been handed a less than desirable situation that continued to well... grow.
Being given a "Pregnant Dog" actually helps us in the long run. I'm serious! Hear me out...
A "Pregnant Dog" allows us the opportunity to reflect on others' positive intentions. The individual who gave Aaron the dog really did want to do something nice for him. It was done out of care on some level.
"Pregnant Dogs" help us to practice mindfulness before responding. Sure, there's going to be the initial "What the hay!?!" thoughts and feelings, but we can learn to slow down and handle them with grace.
"Pregnant Dogs" give us enhanced problem solving skills. What DOES one do with a pregnant dog... and then all the puppies?!? This scenario gives us a chance to show off our mad clever skillzzzzzz.
Most importantly, "Pregnant Dogs" give us great stories and laughter. Laughter makes everything better.
So, be thankful for all your "Pregnant Dogs".
Like all modern cyber addicts I am exposed to thousands of images and headlines every week. Most of these stroll in and out of my consciousness, never really making it into long term storage. But... every now and then I'm stopped in my tracks by an image that is
Burned into my brain.
Such is the case for the advertisement you see here.
It's been a while since I had babies, but I was shocked at the development of this product.
Are we so afraid of our children suffering the smallest hardship that we will literally suck the snot out of their noses?!? I love my children. I really do. But, I have boundaries. I have limits, people.
Somewhere along the way we've forgotten the importance and the beauty of negative experiences.
Parents are especially susceptible to being "suckered" into this type of product (pun totally intended). Doing things FOR kids and protecting them from pain comes out of a loving place. But, it isn't reasonable or even desirable I would make the argument that every accomplishment is preceded by some kind of suckiness (again, pun totally intended).
You don't get the joy of accomplishment without prior discomfort.
Remember how badly our kids wanted to walk? They fell down 1,000 times, but the delight of the first few steps is never to be forgotten, right?
Remember how slow and laborious it was watching them learn to read and spell? There is joy in a funny letter or story now.
Forgetting a lunch is uncomfortable... but a growling tummy can spark the desire to make this daily task a priority.
Has your little sweetheart gotten in trouble at school? Let them take responsibility. It's hard to see them sad, but they may need that negative emotion to learn and grow.
This photo sparks another thought as well... self-care. We are willing to go to GREAT LENGTHS for our children and family to succeed. That's not a bad thing at all. But, there are times when we have to ask ourselves...
Are we being nasal aspirators?
If so, put the tube DOWN and step away. Empowered men and women do not suck snot out of noses.... we inspire independence. This starts with making ourselves a priority.
And there is beauty in the struggle.
Recently I had to part ways with a dear old friend... a gorgeous and pricey piece that fit like a glove - until it didn't.
You know that there is nothing worse than a bad bra. It bothers and distracts you all day long.
(Fellows, feel free to mentally replace 'bra' with the undergarment of your choice.)
A bad bra is uncomfortable and unsupportive.
There have been times that I knew the bra was bad right away. It was instantly pokey or rough... too stretchy or not stretchy enough. Because I knew this quickly I didn't take the time to get attached.
It's so much harder when the bra that used to be perfection morphs into a bad bra.
It is tough because there are moments when you know it's happening.
But, you don't want it to. So you tell yourself it's still just fine and you make some adjustments.
You remember the day you bought the bra and how happy it made you in the beginning...
Only to find that a short time later, the sad realization sets back in.
The bra is now bad and you need to part ways.
Now, to be fair to the bad bra, its condition may not entirely be its fault. Bras need special care!
What if you washed it with the towels or threw it in the dryer too many times?
In that case it's a bad bra of your own making.
Don't hate on the bra. Own the situation and move on.
Learn from your mistake and next time treat it better.
Even when it's not your fault you can learn from a bad bra.
Bras are not always meant to last forever. Bras come in and out of our lives.
Some good, some bad, some that start out good and turn bad.
Dealing with bad bras can make us stronger, kinder, but also
better able to detect a bad bra earlier the next time around.
Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".
But a bad bra isn't just a bra. It's that job that isn't right for you.
That relationship that's run its course. Or that good time habit that's not so good timey anymore.
Of course though, sometimes a bad bra really IS just a bra.
A couple of years ago my husband and I decided to have the tile and tub replaced in our bathroom. If you have done any remodeling lately you probably already know that the options are ridiculously unlimited with ideas all over the place for trendy, life hack-y things to do. In situations like these, you really see how people come together, problem solve, and break out those old perspective taking skills.
It feels really nice to know that someone you are working with takes the time and effort to examine things from your point of view so that a project turns out just right.
Case in point, as we were making decisions on tile, placement, etc. the contractor and the tile guy went to great lengths to be sure that I would be completely happy with my newfangled bathroom.
There was a moment in this process that will forever be frozen in my mind.
All four of us were in the bathroom. It was a tight squeeze in there physically and mentally. I mean, it’s not too common of a meeting place now is it? It was hot in there and just a little bit weird. But, I did my best to politely watch the contractor and the tile guy discuss various “tile and contracting” things. Then this beautiful example of social perspective taking occurred…
The tile guy jumped into the bathtub and started pretend shaving his legs.
The contractor standing calloused hand to stubbly chin, looked on intently examining the direction, leg angle, and possible foot height. They debated for a bit until both were confident in suggesting the best set up for me to shave my legs with the greatest possible joy and ease.
I have to say there was something utterly endearing about these two tough guys really trying to put themselves in my position.
Do I love my bathroom? Yes, I do! But, I love the memory of those pretend leg-shaving tough guys even more. We can all do a better job of perspective taking, can’t we?
So get out there and put yourself in someone else’s shower.
My heroes have always been slightly weird.
In the 80’s my sister (and Irish twin) Hillary was the cool one.
She knew all about the movie Thrashin’ and loved the band The Dead Kennedys.
Hillary was also blonde and didn’t wear glasses.
I was the redheaded Casstevens girl with coke bottle glasses who really liked Huey Lewis and the News.
The poster in my middle school locker… Well, it was not cool rockers.
It was the space shuttle Challenger.
(I know! I know! I’d just gotten home from Space Camp.)
Our lockers were arranged in alphabetical order. So, Heather C. was next to Brian B.
Looking back now, I think Brian B. was actually a fully grown man in the 7th grade.
He was so much bigger than me that I think he may have been shaving and driving to school.
Anyway, Brian B. was epically unimpressed with anything NASA.
When he saw the inside of my locker there was a moment of shock…. Eyes agog, over-sized mouth wide open.
Then Brian B. then exclaimed, “Is that a SPACE SHUTTLE??? That is so…. so STUPID!”
I’d like to say that Heather C. had a witty comeback and told him what to do with his opinion.
But, she did not…. and the picture quietly came down.
It really was a formative childhood moment.
Fast forward a decade (ok three) and being an adult is mostly awesome.
I seriously love my red hair. I have the best purple cat eye glasses EVER.
I never became an astronaut, but I still have weird heroes.
What poster would I put in my locker today?
It would be of Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, or maybe even Friedrich Nietzsche.
Philosophers searching for meaning in an absurd world. Existentialists are often found asking… WHY?
This isn't a question that can be asked (or answered) just one time.
No matter where you are with your WHY one thing should always remain...
Never Let A Brian B. Make You Take Your Space Shuttle Down.
Recently, my mind has been pushing away realities I'd rather not accept. This is, of course, an exercise in futility. Things that I try to deny and escape inevitably bound back to me, somehow strengthened by my rude avoidance. Ah such is life. It was during one of these unwanted reunions with a situation that an old school activity popped into my head.... wisdom from a circle time song of long ago.
"We're going on a bear hunt, a bear hunt, a bear hunt" my classmates and I would chant while tapping on our knees. With each verse an obstacle appeared and the pace would grow faster and faster. Tall grass, storms, and rivers were no match for our saddle oxfords and youthful determination. Never mind the ending retreat, my memory was drawn to the refrain.... "We can't go over it. We can't go under it. We've got to go through it."
My first grade teacher could not possibly have known that thirty three years later this funny song would be a source of wisdom and comfort to her red-haired and knee-socked student.
When this refrain came back to me, it was the mantra I so desperately needed to face the moments
that I wanted to push away.
"We can't go over it. We can't go under it. We've got to go through it."
Life is a Bear Hunt full of difficulties and obstacles. Face them and embrace them.
(Saddle oxfords -optional)
I grew up completely enamored of my grandfather Bill Casstevens. Like every loyal granddaughter I thought he was the funniest, smartest guy in Ector county (or probably the entire state of Texas.)
He wanted us mini-Casstevens to be decision makers, “Either stay inside or stay outside. You’re letting flies in the house!” And I’m sure we stuck with one of those choices! (For a good five minutes.)
But, Bill Casstevens also wanted his passel of granddaughters to be open minded…. which brings us around to his hair. Bill was a dapper fellow and he took great care in the style and maintenance of his West Texas locks. Carefully oiled, fly away free, and parted square down the middle. Every. Single. Day.
This process preceded all other daily activities and even occurred prior to the first bowl of Fruit Loops
(Bill also had a sophisticated palate).
Why is this relevant, you ask? Because Bill was the first to tell you that his was a Mugwump hairstyle.
Unfortunately, in this day and age most people don’t know what a Mugwump is. There is a rich political history behind the term. One that we won’t delve deeply in today. Let me relieve you of your curiosity.
Simply defined, a Mugwump is an independent, neutral party.
Yes, Bill Casstevens announced to his progeny that he was a Mugwump because he had voted for both Democrats and Republicans.
No self-respecting Mugwump would impulsively side with one party or another.
A quality Mugwump will purposefully and intentionally
stand back to process before fully committing.
So, I’m moving to bring back the Mugwumps. Let’s take the time to fully process all sources of information —— and THEN thoughtfully commit. You see, when we savor the details and let them roll around in our minds we may see things we missed at first glance. We will have the opportunity to engage in some quality perspective taking that could have the end result of us seeing value in a stance previously eschewed.
Bringing back the Mugwumps may actually cause us to realize that
as humans we are all more alike than different.
We can bring back the Mugwumps and we don’t even have to part our hair down the middle.
When I was 15 I got a copy of “Emily Post’s Etiquette” for Christmas. I was totally unimpressed and probably said something charming like, “This is so dumb”. “Emily” sat on my dresser collecting dust until the boredom of some Saturday afternoon drove me to check it out. (This was way before the internet and cell phone explosion.) I began to realize that maybe this Post lady actually had something to say…
My admiration for her sage advice grew along with my career in mental health. One may not initially connect Emily Post with help for depression, anxiety, and complex family systems. But, take a closer look.
There are at least 3 ways the pages of “Emily Post’s Etiquette” rival many self-help and traditional counseling books.
1. “Dear God, make me a bird. So I can fly far… far, far away from here.” - Jenni Gump
If you struggle with social anxiety chances are this famous line has crossed your mind during a dinner party or two. We can’t avoid them all! Prepare for your next event like an Emily Post Ninja Warrior and check out the chapter “The Good Conversationalist”. It gives you clear and practical tips for talking to people you don’t know. When we’re really nervous it can be tough to come up with anything, so being armed in advance with some specific lines can ease you into flow of conversation. See, we knew you could do it!
As a bonus, she includes sections like “Dealing with Awkward Situations” and “Unkind Remarks”. Both of which by definition catch us off guard. You don’t have to freeze like a deer in headlights the next time you get trapped talking to that person who knows it all.
2. Readers of Emily Post have a leg up on getting along with others.
Even the happiest of families goes through some difficult stuff. A very wise soul once told me, “Conflict is the nature of human relationships.” How true! When handled with poise, these inevitable tough times can be much less painful.
Emily’s chapter “Your Personal Life” covers several hot topics like “Spouses, ex-spouses, in-laws, and other relatives” and “Dissolving a relationship”. Need to extend support and condolences? There’s guidance for that too.
Even if you’re not actually going through these situations yourself, you definitely know someone who is. It feels so much better to be able to say the right thing at the right time… whether that person in front of you is a fuming soon to be ex-relation or a friend who's just lost a close loved one.
3. Manners can be a real mood booster because you’re showing people you care about them.
Depression is a modern day epidemic. This comes from about 1 million different factors. However, we know one simple thing to be true. Doing something for someone else is a real mood booster. Depression steals our connection to others. It can lock us alone inside our head. Simple acts of consideration can help to pull you back out into the wide world.
Emily points to some pretty basic social skills. Take simple eye contact. When you make eye contact and truly listen to the person who is talking to you it says "I see you. I really see you." It shows them that you think they are important. Don’t we all want to feel like we matter? Opening doors for others has less to do with gender than consideration for our fellow man. That thank you note for the nice blender from Aunt Lucille might be the one positive thing in her otherwise downer day.
Manners boil down to ways to acknowledge the value of the people around you. They bolster our social connections and as mammals (yes, you’re a mammal) we need others to get and stay healthy.
So, get those elbows off the table, strike up a conversation with someone, support a friend going through a tough transition.
You won’t just be polite, with Emily you’ll be one step closer to well-being.
It's amazing how a meme can represent the collective psyche.
Take a look at this one from Memecenter.com.
That guy would make a marathoner out of the most staunchly committed couch potato.
Let's face it, we ALL need a little extra push at times.
If the point is to get up and do something frenetic,
then the "Insane Bozo Posse" may be just what the doctor ordered.
But what if the point is to do something purposeful and keep it going...
while at the same time feeling good about it?
In that case, scare tactics alone don't work. Although, many people think they do.
Scare tactic motivators sneak their way into our minds more than you think.
"If I don't do this, then (insert catastrophic outcome here)."
When we use scare tactic motivators we are running away from something.
But, we'd probably do much better -- long term -- running towards something.
What do you want? Be specific.
What will that look like? Step into that picture.
When you know what you're working for... When you tease out what it looks like, sounds like, smells like, FEELS like then you get pumped up in a way that scare tactics can't replicate.
It's the internal drive that keeps us on course day after day.
Then you can kick Bozo to the curb. You won't need that guy anymore.