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being an introvert, change, family, friends

No More Apologies

I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about apologizing.  She laughed and said, “We women walk out of the womb saying, ‘I’m sorry.'”  That is so true!  Why is that?  Is it just a female thing?  How do we learn to apologize for everything under the sun?

After mulling this topic over for a few days, I’ve decided to stop apologizing.

Please note: This does NOT count for instances when I am truly in the wrong.  I will apologize all day long to Tim, my boys, my family, my friends and everybody else if I mess up.  Here is what I’m talking about:

1. I will not apologize for setting boundaries that safeguard my family and myself.  This includes physical, emotional and social boundaries.  This might mean declining certain invitations or leaving early from events.  We may not sign up for every sport or academic club no matter how vital or popular the advertised skills may be.  “That’s a great offer, but no thank you, ” will not be accompanied by, “I’m sorry but we can’t make it.”

2. I will not apologize for being a lady and playing “man roles” like coaching a boys baseball team.  I’m not sorry when I plan out a practice drill that the players don’t quite get.  We’ll get it right and try again next practice.  I’ll teach those players to run the bases aggressively because when the pitchers are wild and the catchers can’t catch, we will get the W by stealing home eight times in a row.  The dads aren’t apologizing for winning, so I won’t either.  I also won’t apologize for teaching my players humility and compassion towards the other team.  It’s fun to win but empathy is a skill they will value long after they realize making it to the major leagues is a pipe dream.

3. No more apologies will come from me when I decline to attend another event or meeting when my schedule is already full.  And I won’t apologize when my “full schedule” doesn’t seem full to someone else.  My brain and body need recharge time.  That’s just who I am.  The Crazy Lindsey comes out when I haven’t had a chance to get back to normal frequency levels.  Believe me, nobody wants her here.

4.  I won’t apologize for being quiet in a world that doesn’t see the strength in that.  I also won’t apologize for my child’s slow to warm up demeanor either.  Susan Cain is teaching me that 50% of the world is like us shy ones, we just live in a culture that only values the other loud half.  We need both the quiet and loud, the sensitive and thick-skinned, the yin and yang.  It’s the combo that is successfully complete.

5. Financial decisions we make as a family don’t need have apologies attached.  Quite frankly, we don’t need to justify any decisions we make for the four of us.  Our family is, for the most part, an open book.  If there are explanations requested, we’ll oblige, but we aren’t sorry about well thought out conclusions.  We love to verbally process and philosophize with our trusted small circle.  They don’t need fake apologies from us and we don’t care if they make different resolutions for their own families.  Differences aren’t threatening, they make this world more colorful and beautiful.

6. I won’t apologize for my wardrobe choices.  First of all, everybody who knows me, understands that my husband has better fashion sense than I do.  If left to my own devices, I will be in jeans and t-shirts or any sort of workout attire (with no gym in sight).  I’m in my mid-thirties so the need for comfort has overpowered the need to impress others.  Sorry, I’m not sorry about that.

7. When others come over to my house, I won’t apologize for the messiness.  I love a clean house like anybody else, but some weeks the household chores don’t get crossed off the list.  If you are in our house, you are family.  We will feed you and house you because we WANT to and that’s what life is all about.  Hospitality is much more than sparkly counter tops.  Plus, if I apologize for the state of my house, that conveys the message to my guests about what I expect when I go over to their house.  I don’t freaking care if you have dog hair on your couch and toys scattered everywhere, I sure hope you don’t mind if I do too.

8. I won’t apologize when, “I’m sorry” accidentally slips out.  It’s a habit almost 34 years in the making; it is going to take a while to reshape the behavior that has become automatic.  Whenever it does slip out, I want to be introspective.  Did I really need to say that?  Am I really sorry?  Hopefully, then I can get to the root of the situation and the message I truly want to convey.

The problem with unnecessary apologizing is it loses it’s potency.  The words lose strength and credibility when peppered into every day speech.  Save the I’m sorrys for when they are real.

Honest remorse and regret are needed to heal and refuel all relationships.  We all mess up and it does your people justice when you admit it.  I’m not talking about the, “I’m sorry that you feel that way, or I’m sorry that you interpreted the situation that way.”  Those are cheap and fake words.  Don’t take the easy way out.  You are pretending to apologize when really still placing blame on the other person.  Take some ownership over your own actions and hurtful words.

I’m still working on this.  I’m guilty of fake apologies.  Now I’m trying to weed out the stuff that doesn’t need to be there.  Both the fake words and the unnecessary ones take away from what’s real.  When I tell someone, “I’m sorry,” I want it to be genuine and complete.  Hopefully my true offerings will be met with grace.

Are you like me?  What situations do you feel the need to offer up unnecessary apologies?  Are real I’m sorry’s hard for you?

change, life, love

Safety and Accountability in Numbers

Consistent runs have been out of my workout repertoire for a long while.  I can blame bad joint genetics but we all know some wimping out has a little to do with it.  I started a new workout plan this week and today’s active prescription was interval running.  Ewww.  I can run a little, no biggie.  But sprinting?  Hell no.

Even when I was in my prime, my “sprint” was a tad faster than everybody else’s jog.  Now that I’m getting closer to the mid-30s I don’t even remember what a prime feels like.  I’m pretty sure my body will hate me if I try to get it moving faster than my usual turtle pace.

Sticking to plans is important to me so I knew I had to get out there and pound the pavement at some point today.  When I woke up, I peeked warily out the blinds. Cold, dark and wet.  That didn’t help motivate me.  A freak cold front was probably coming.  I’m sure rain mixed with hail would be on the forecast.  I put on some warm running gear hoping the inspiration would come from the cozy stretchy fabric.  Didn’t work.

Maybe lacing up my running shoes would get me out the door, but then I saw a whole sink of dirty dishes that were begging to be cleaned up.  I checked email and social media to delay even more.  An extra chapter in my book helped put off the run even longer.

I finally  looked back out the window to survey the disastrous environmental conditions.  Dang.  The sun was shining, the day was clear.  I couldn’t put it off any longer.  I stepped out my front door to a warm and breezy morning.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Perfect running conditions.

Starting was the hardest part.  My body wasn’t used to this consistent heart and lung beating.  Eventually I got into a groove and was able to enjoy the fresh air.

At one point I was struggling up a hill when another runner passed me.  As I entered into the active resting part of that interval, I saw her trek up the road at an impressive pace.  After a few more intervals I ended up catching back up with her and passing her on the last stretch of a sprint.  Both of us had our earbuds in so I tried to give her a wide berth as I passed.  My precautions failed because I totally freaked her out.  I smiled and tried to let her know I wasn’t a ferocious attacker.  I apologized for the scare and we both laughed.  She mentioned that this little incident made her realize how unsafe and unaware she was running alone with her music going.

We started talking a little and she ended up doing my last interval with me.  The conversation kept going into our cooldown.  She was spunky, beautiful and welcoming.  We ended up talking about kids, living in our cute little town and workouts.  Just by looking at her I would have never guessed she just celebrated her 50th birthday and had a kid almost ready to graduate college.

We parted ways when we got to her neighborhood, but not before exchanging numbers and sending promises of future runs.  Us ladies need to stick together on those lonely paths.  There is safety and accountability in numbers.

As I walked home I pondered about that fact.  There IS safety and accountability in numbers and it doesn’t just have to do with running.  I know when women get together, cat fights and drama ensue.  Sometimes it’s deliberate and out in the open, but other times it’s in the way we approach a situation or debrief after the fact.  I wish it didn’t have to be that way.  Us kindreds need to stick together.  Actually, even if we don’t all sync up together, we should at least come from a position of loving respect.  Down with the lady drama already!  We tend to either beat each other up, or beat ourselves up.  Even if we don’t agree or come from different backgrounds or hold beliefs in various ideas, that shouldn’t weaken us.  Those can be our strengths, if we let them.

How do we change that?  I want the unity, even in diversity, but how do we accomplish it?

What if we used this blog right here to create and practice unity?  My hope is that even though we are immersed in a world where competition and power struggles rule, we can escape from that here.  We can practice our togetherness and support each other, even when disagreements arise.  I would hope that through practice we can help the unity spread beyond the blogosphere.

What do you think?  Do you see a need for this?  How can we make it happen here?  How can we make it happen in our everyday lives?

change, life

Controlled Chaos

If you look up in the header, there is some paisley/henna/swirly art.  That was extremely purposeful.  Initially, I picked it because I have an emotional attachment to paisley.  On my first date with Tim, we both wore paisley shirts.  That’s another story for another time but just know that is where my obsession began.  The more I thought about it though, the meaning and purpose evolved.

Let me give you a little background first.  I’m a simple girl who would rather wear jeans and a t-shirt on fancy days.  Unfancy days involve a lot of stretchy fabric that should probably only be worn to the gym.  I only accesorize on special ocasions like date nights, holidays and any other event where I am desparately trying to pretend I am an adult.

In decorating my house, I like clean, straight, even lines.  I hate adding anything unnecesary because for one, I don’t want to dust it and two, it makes my brain feel jumbled.  Recently, I took the risk of hanging pictures on my stairway wall because I really wanted a family album that I could see everyday.  One of my favorite parts on this wall is a mirror.  It wasn’t put there to reduce the ocassions of heading out the door with food smears on my face and clothes, while that is a definite bonus.  I put it there because if you are in our house, you are on the family picture wall.  In our home, you are family.  The picture collage wall was a good idea in theory, but it is driving me a little batty.  First off, I didn’t measure in even spaces between each picture.  The disproportionate spaces between different sizes of pictures give me a twitch.  Plus, every time one of us runs up or down the stairs, the pictures shift and half of them aren’t level anymore.  I spend half of my day righting the crooked frames.

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In other parts of the house I like 90 or 45 degree angles.  I like functional furniture and open spaces.  Nothing foofy or fancy sits atop any ledges.  My soul can breath when I see open, uncluttered places.

Having my own kids and neighbor kids running in and out of the house each afternoon makes for some lived in clutter.  Items like backpacks, footballs and smelly socks get deposited in random places.   I want my home to be welcoming, but I also love when everything is in it’s evenly spaced place.  I want all my ducks to stay in their row AND be the place where people feel comfortable to let loose.  Those two ideas are constantly warring with each other because I can’t have both, I know that.

As you can see, I have control issues.

When my friend Stacey and I were brainstorming art ideas for the blog, I mentioned that I loved paisley and henna.  The only reason I mentioned it was because of Tim’s and my cheezy history.  As we were throwing ideas back and forth, my eyes were opened.  I started to look around my house.  For how much I like order and straightness, that chaotic, swirly paisley sure showed up all over my house.  I may highly value simplicity but this flowy design was everywhere!

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I have multiple rugs with henna and paisley inspired designs.  It pops up in bedspreads, pillows and picture frames.  Hell, last Spring I even tattooed it onto my entire right arm.

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I realized the universe was speaking to me.  You may think you thrive in order, but you also need a little flow in your life.  Not everything needs to be controlled.  Freedom comes when you let go.  Quit trying to put yourself into a box.

People don’t fit into neat, tidy packages.  They are messy.  They flow.  When you dig into the messiness, that’s where you find the beauty.  Perfect can mean level, even and sameness, but it can also mean truth and openness and flow.

I don’t want my own family and friends and the people I come in contact with feel like I’m trying to shove them into uncomfortable parameters.  I don’t want my battle with control to turn people away.  I don’t want others to feel like they have to hide who they really are.  My hope is that my home and my heart welcomes all.  Muddy shoes will track in the mess and clutter.  When that happens, instead of panicking, I want to smile and say, “Welcome!”

Control is important to me, but so is chaos.

How about you.  Do you have issues with control?  If so, how do you keep it contained so it doesn’t bleed into areas of your life that thrive on free flow?