Musings of an Old Hag on her Birthday, part deux

So, I went back and reread my Musings of an Old Hag on her Birthday, part one from last year and I must say that it all still holds true.

For those of you new to my blog since June of last year, you can read it here: OLD HAG. I really hope you enjoy it and/or identify with it because I have to tell you that I’m happier in my 40s than I’ve ever been before and it’ll tell you exactly why.

As I don’t want to repeat what I said last year I’m going to list a few things that I’ve learned and a few things for which I am thankful.

Things for which I’m thankful:

  1. I have a loving family who always makes me feel special
  2. My husband kicks so much ass that it hurts my brain sometimes
  3. I have wonderful blogging buddies that add so very much to my life
  4. My 2nd toe is shorter than my big toe and that makes me very happy
  5. I’ve added about 15 new teddy bears to the Sofa Teddy collection and I have fun with them all the time
  6. Getting emails from people who’ve been helped by my sassy mouth–such a wonderful feeling
  7. I’ve managed to stay a non-smoker for approximately 6 months, 13 days and 2 hours (not that I’m counting)
  8. I’ve managed to only gain 8 pounds since I quit–really, that sucks, but it could have been 20, so I can’t complain
  9. I’m healthier since meeting the hubby than I’ve ever been in my life and he loves me even if I’m covered in scars from head to toe
  10. I still think that aging gracefully is a wonderful thing

Things I’ve learned:

I recently went back home for a visit (last week) and while I was there I saw two old friends who are so very dear to my heart. One I’ve known for 29 years. The other I’ve known for 22. Both of them have made such a great impact in my life–I wouldn’t be who I am today without either of them. One taught me what true friendship is. One taught me when to cut and run, how to heal and how to forgive. It was really quite emotional being back there, but I’m so thankful I went. Here’s what I’ve learned over the the last half of my life from knowing those two people:

  1. Friendship doesn’t need to be constantly reminded of itself. True friends can go years without seeing one another and then fall back into place like only a day has passed in the meantime.
  2. Friendship isn’t full of bullshit and fear. True friends love you enough to risk telling you when you are being a dumb ass and are loyal enough to hold your hand through the worst and best of times.
  3. Bravery is a beautiful thing, even if it means facing something you worry will cause you great pain. There is something about just the facing of it that can give you such great relief.
  4. Faithfulness and loyalty are the greatest gift you can give the one you love AND the greatest gift you can give yourself. Being able to look in the mirror in the morning and not shudder from disappointment in yourself is truly a blessing.
  5. Separating your heart from your mind and saying, “Enough is enough” is a skill that I’m so very happy to have, even if it is a bitch to put into practice.
  6. I have so much room in my heart for love that it astonishes me sometimes. Often I worry that I’m a little bit hard–things that make others cry often don’t really affect me. But I think that what it really is, is that I love those close to me so very deeply and completely that there isn’t a great deal of room left. That may sound bad, but I mean it in a good way. I love fully and with abandon. I don’t love with fear. I don’t love with regret. I love openly and I’m so very happy and thankful for that.
  7. And finally, forgiveness is truly the most glorious of all human abilities. It may take 10 minutes or 20 years, but forgiving yourself for your own mistakes (be they intentional or not) and forgiving others who have harmed you (again, whether or not they intentionally harmed you) will not only make the world a bit brighter, but will reduce the ache of that pain at least down to a very tiny pin prick, if not remove it completely.

As you can see, these two old friends have helped me achieve the beautiful life I have now and I thank God every day that they not only came into my life, but that they stayed.

On an entirely different note: Did I go an entire post without using the word “fuck”? Holy crap!  😉

Last but not least, here is a pic of my Mommy and me last week at the beach. I’m 5 days shy of being 43 in this pic and my mom is 74. We both embrace our age, though we also both still feel 22 (and often act it too!). I am most grateful that my mom is not only still around, but that she is for the most part happy and healthy. She is a true gift from God and I’m forever thankful to have her.

Mom and me at the beach

Fight Fairly? Oh, I see, we’re off to LaLaLand!

In addition to living an insanely funny life (as you can tell by my bizarre posts), I am also very blessed to live a peaceful life with very few urges to grab a baseball bat and start swingin’! But that minimization of violent urges didn’t happen overnight. 🙂 Something that has greatly helped me over the years is learning how to fight with my mate in a way that actually accomplishes something other than blood shed, calls to 911, short stays in prison, etc…

Below is a chapter from my Intimacy book. I hope it helps you the next time you find yourself carrying a cast iron frying pan and in your best Jack Nicholson voice calling out to your honey. 🙂

17. Fight in a fair and constructive way

When a fight is over, it’s over.

This may be one of the most difficult things to do, but it’s also one of the most important. No one, including us ladies, likes to have things they’ve done in the past thrown in their face. It’s not fair (I hate that expression, but it holds true here) to keep bringing things up time and time again when you are angry with your man. Let me assure you that when you say the following things, your man immediately either gets angry, defensive, offensive or tunes you out completely:

  • Why do you always…
  • Every time you…
  • Remember 6 months ago when you…

Believe me, from the moment you utter those words, he’ll be mad and worse yet, dismissive of everything you say from that point forward. Once a man is in this frame of mind there is no point to arguing with him because nothing you say will get through to him and the whole point of an argument is to try and resolve something. If, in his mind, he’s thinking, “La la la la la…football, porn, video games, I wish she’d shut up…” while you are berating him for things he’s done in the past, you aren’t going to accomplish your goals.

So, how can you fight in a constructive way?

Here’s a solution that works with most men. Yet again, it’s about figuring out how and when to talk to a man. If you need to have “a talk,” make it a bulleted list, not a screaming, crying dissertation. If he walks in the door from work and you launch into him (even if it is sorely deserved!), he’s not going to want to deal with you. Or, even if you wait until he’s had his first beer and is relaxed, if you come at him cursing and yelling and crying, you’ve already lost the argument. He may say tons of things to placate you (read that as: make you shut up), but ultimately, most things accomplished by a long, drawn out, weeping, yelling battle are only temporary solutions. What you want is a real solution. So, how do you get that?

While this may feel completely unnatural, especially when you are piping-hot mad and looking around for some sort of blunt object, try arguing like this and see how it works with your man.

1) Ask him, “Honey, do you have a few minutes?”

  • Whatever you do, don’t tack “To talk” onto the end of that sentence. That immediately puts a man on edge as they fear those two words more than prostate cancer.
  • By asking him if he has a few minutes, rather than telling him you need a few minutes, you’re allowing him the opportunity to say yes or no. If he says no, then ask for a specific time when the two of you can chat.

2) When you are both ready to start this conversation, take him somewhere private, other than the bedroom or the living room. Outside or the kitchen can be good places.

3) Once you’ve both sat down, reassure him that you love him and tell him that you want to discuss something with him.

4) Slowly, calmly and quietly explain what your concern is, without attacking him personally.

  • “When you do X, I feel Y,” is a great way to start. It’s not accusatory, it’s explanatory. And there is a HUGE difference between the two.
  • For example:
    • When you drink until you pass out, I feel worried and scared.
    • When you are short with me, I don’t understand why and I start to wonder if there is more to it than you just being in a bad mood.
    • When you come home late from work without calling, I worry that something has happened to you.

5) Then let him talk. Let him fill in the silence. Don’t feel the need to do that yourself. Allowing him time to think of his response is critical. Chances are you’ve been plotting this discussion for hours, days, weeks, etc…but he’s just now hearing about it, so he may need a few minutes to figure out his answer. That’s okay. Silence is okay. Plus, he’s busy trying to think up his defense anyway, so any talking you do is falling on deaf ears.

6) When he does respond, listen to him, even if what he says is total bullshit. Give him a chance and then calmly explain your side of the story in greater detail. But don’t call him names or raise your voice or tell him he’s a knuckle-dragging pig that you wish you’d never met (even though you may be DYING to say that!).

7) Once you’ve discussed what the issue is, end the discussion with “Thanks, baby, for listening to me. I really appreciate it,” and then some kind of physical contact—a hug, a kiss, a held hand.

Now, I know you may be thinking, “ARE YOU CRAZY? I want to rip his nuts off and choke him to death with them! That bastard deserves to be drawn and quartered!” Believe me, I understand that urge. But this is all about how to have a healthier relationship with your man. If he dreads “the talk” or you yell, cry and call him names during “the talk” then he’s going to do everything in his power to never have “the talk” with you again.

Unfortunately, him not wanting to suffer through “the talk” doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily stop doing the things that make you want to kill him. Instead it means he’ll make “the talk” such a miserable experience for you that you’ll stop wanting to even have them. Slamming the door of communication like that is one of the worst things you can do in a relationship.

It takes patience and practice to have an effective argument. There is a lot of trial and error, and as every man is different, you’ll have to tailor your argument style to suit your man. Some men give in if you subtly guilt them. Some men give in if you are a solid boundary-drawer. Most men will listen if you just lay it out, in a verbal bulleted list without all the (what they perceive to be) “lady-drama.”

It’s important to know that this doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to cry during an argument. Sometimes, you just can’t help it. But be aware of how your man will react to your tears when deciding (if that’s even possible) whether or not to show that kind of emotion.  While there are many types of reactions men have to tears, I’ve identified a few of the main ones. Try and figure out which type of man you have and that’ll help you know whether or not to really fight the urge to cry during an argument.

  1. The Placater: This guy jumps right into “fix it” mode where he will say anything to make you stop crying. Unfortunately, what he says won’t necessarily happen once the conversation is over. It’s typically just a salve to get you to not cry anymore. He may even be well-intentioned in the moment, but quite often he’s just grabbing at straws to stop the flow of tears and probably won’t even remember half of what he said an hour later.
  2. The Deer in the Headlights: This guy immediately shuts down and becomes a mute. Your tears terrify him and he has no idea how to deal with you, so he stops interacting completely. This type of communication shutdown keeps the conversation from moving forward even an inch, and then you have to try and recover from it and start all over again.
  3. The Jerky Prick: This peach of a guy thinks, “GREAT! Here come the waterworks!” It may be that he sees your tears as manipulative and/or melodramatic, so he dismisses them automatically. When he dismisses your emotions like that, there is no way any continuation of the conversation will help you at all. (My suggestion is, if possible, to run from this type of man as fast as you can. If he sees your true emotions and scoffs at them, he’s probably a jerky prick in a lot of other areas as well. Why suffer the rest of your life with that???)
  4. The Self-Pitying Child: This type of guy gets defensive as they perceive your tears as a personal attack on them or they feel so instantaneously guilty that their reaction becomes knee-jerk instead of calmly responsive. Once they start to sulk and give you that, “Yeah, I know, I’m horrible and I hate myself,” routine, the real forward progress of your conversation has come to a screeching halt. They are too buried in feeling sorry for themselves to actually process anything you are saying.
  5. The Attentive Sweetie Pie: A good and loving man will see that you are truly in pain and will want to really work through the issue with you. Your tears will be an indicator to him of just how deeply hurt or angry you are and he’ll want nothing more than to resolve the issue with you. (God bless this type of man and I hope most of you ladies have this kind of guy.)

Regardless of which type of man you have, even if he’s not listed here or is a combination of a few of them, just remember that your tears have power and if you cry wolf with them, they lose that power. Tears should always be a genuine display of emotion, not a manipulation tactic. When you are real and honest with your emotions, you set up an environment where it’s safe for him to be real and honest too.

A final thought on this subject. While the Golden Rule of Communication is to treat others as you want to be treated, the Platinum Rule of Communication is to treat others as THEY want to be treated. Knowing that men are such different creatures from us, you have to keep in mind what is most effective in speaking with them. Keeping calm and rational may drive you crazy, especially when all you really want to do is hit him in the head with a cast-iron frying pan while weeping hysterically. In the end, however, it will help you better resolve your arguments (I prefer to think of them as “discussions”) and isn’t that the outcome you are hoping for?

 

 

Image procured from http://www.123rf.com/clipart-vector/hitting.html

Musings Of An Old Hag On Her Birthday

So, today I’m 42. Yep. 4. 2. How is that possible? Am I not still 16? 23? 31? I feel like I’m young. And really, it’s not like 42 is knocking on Death’s door. But it’s not 20–THANK GOD.

The great thing about my happy day is that I wouldn’t go back to being 20 for all the otters in Otterland. I mean that sincerely.

Here’s me at 20:

Here’s how I felt about everything:

  • Scared
  • Insecure
  • Worried
  • Unsure about who I should be
  • Unsure about who I was at the moment
  • People pleasing was a full-time job
  • Thought I had to be perfect all the time
  • Wanted everyone to like me

Here’s me at 42 (okay, 41 and 7 months as Christmas isn’t today):

Here’s how I feel about everything now:

  • At peace
  • Happy
  • Contented
  • Secure
  • Confident
  • Strong
  • Hopeful
  • Self-aware
  • Okay about aging gracefully
  • People pleasing is only a very small hobby
  • I don’t want to be perfect even 25% of the time
  • I prefer it when people like me (as I kick ass! 😉 KIDDING!), but no longer let it bother me if they don’t

Man, that makes it seem like I’ve got everything figured out. I don’t. But I have a lot more figured out now than I did when I was 20.

Here are the things I’ve learned over the years:

  • I like who I am.
  • What other people think isn’t the most important thing in my life (it’s way down the list.)
  • I surround myself only with people that I love (or at least like a lot.)
  • I rarely allow myself to be pressured into anything (been there, done that.)
  • I am kind in every instance possible and still not mean even when provoked (though I can be QUITE firm when necessary.) 🙂
  • Too much pride and ego get you nowhere.
  • Judging other people because they have different beliefs is ridiculous. What is right for me may not be right for them, and that’s okay.
  • I’m introverted–yes, it’s true. I’m an INFJ for those of you who know what Myers Briggs is. Shocking, I know.
  • I don’t like any form of housework (as you all well know!)
  • I let people take care of me sometimes–I don’t have to be superwoman 100% of the time.
  • I regret nothing, even the screwed up crap that about killed me at the time. It doesn’t change anything and all roads led me to here.

The difference between 20 and 42 isn’t just 22 years, it’s a lifetime. I am so very thankful for all the wonderful people and things in my life. My husband, family and friends are so very dear to me. I am also very thankful for my new blogging family. I am stunned beyond measure just how many of you wonderful people I interact with daily and I’m so very happy I met you guys! Have a very blessed day and life!

KILL the Road Rage! Banish the Angst!

So, a lot of you guys have read my book excerpts page, which contains some crazy suggestions for how to properly behave in a bathroom–ewww…ick! But I wanted to share this next excerpt with you because I had dinner with a girlfriend the other night and she said that this particular part of my book changed her life. Yay!!! Now, while this section is out of the book for the ladies, it applies to both men and women alike. I think I’m going to put this one in the new book too because I’ve gotten so much positive feedback on it and it should not just be in the chick book. I hope you like it and that it helps you quell fits of rage! 😉

Live by the 10 to the 5th power rule. (Can’t do superscripts, dangit!)

What, you may ask, is the 10 to the 5th power rule? This is how it breaks down. When something aggravates me I think to myself, “Am I still going to be mad about this in 10 minutes? 10 hours? 10 days? 10 months? 10 years?” My reaction to the situation is determined by how long what is happening is going to affect me.

  • 10 minutes? Sit and grumble and curse to yourself for a minute and then let it go. It’s not worth the stress to harp on it.
  • 10 hours? Maybe have a short (VERY short) conversation with the person who has made you mad, but keep it to less than 5 minutes, don’t get riled up, and then let it go. If you won’t care about it tomorrow, is it worth causing a fight that might still bother you tomorrow? Probably not.
  • 10 days? It needs to be dealt with, but don’t beat it to death. While not sweating the small stuff will likely give you a longer and healthier life, you do have to sweat some things. If you are still going to be pissed in 10 days, then you need to air your grievance and find a way to come to some sort of conclusion about it.
  • 10 months? This is a real issue that could impact your overall happiness. If something annoys you today that will still be rubbing you the wrong way almost a year from now, then a serious discussion is necessary to iron it out and clear the air. This type of incident is not the kind to sweep under the rug. Doing so will only do further damage to you, to him and to your relationship.
  • 10 years? This is likely one of those, “This needs to change or I’m going to have to do something drastic,” types of conversations. This is another reason why it’s so important to tell your man what makes you angry and what you consider to be deal-breakers. He has to KNOW not to do this kind of stuff or it’s hard to hold him responsible for doing it (keeping common sense in mind, of course—you may never have explicitly told him not to bed your sister, but if he does, Hell hath no fury, right?).

Just like we talked about before, when learning how to have “talks” with your man, if you decide that what has happened is important enough to address, then it’s important to broach the subject of your anger in a calm, timely, non-accusatory, non-defensive way.

If what has happened is so dramatic that it’ll affect you for a year or ten years down the line, then give yourself some time to figure out how to respond. You don’t have to fly into a rage immediately. You don’t need to burst into sobs right in front of him. Sometimes, it is a great idea to step into another room and just process. Then you can cry or punch a wall or call him every name in the book while you are alone. Process the rage or hurt by yourself, and then come up with the most productive way of handling both him and the situation.

Yet again, it’s about picking your battles. The 10-minute battles are usually not worth fighting about, so just let them roll off your back. Having that kind of attitude will save you from having a million fights about who forgot to buy the milk. All those tiny irritations just aren’t worth the negative energy and the constant, underlying vibe of annoyance and disharmony. You’ll find that when you and your man live in a home where you accept each other and don’t pick over the small things, your home will be a warmer and more wonderful place to live for both of you. Ahhh…bliss…

Perspective from a Formerly Dead Person

What a title, right? I have a lot of people ask me how I’ve learned to find such peace and contentment in my life. Like everyone else, I deal with struggles, hardship, and loss. But even through all of that, I usually find a way to come to terms with it all and move forward in a positive way. That doesn’t mean I don’t wanna smash my computer with a bat when it doesn’t work right. Or that I don’t want to drive into my office and ring necks when people get on my nerves. It doesn’t mean that if anything ever happened to my husband that I wouldn’t want to crawl into a hole and die. But, for the most part, I’m able to roll with the punches and keep my chin up (wow, 2 cliches in one sentence! That’s a record!).

I think one of the reasons for that is that I’ve been dead twice. Yeppers, you read that correctly. Once when I was just a very small child and again in my early 20s. I believe with all my heart that God jump started my heart both times so that I could live a bit longer.

How these death experiences have helped me is two-fold:

  • I had no fear when I died. None. I believe in heaven and both while dying (though I don’t really remember it the first time) and upon coming back, I never felt fear. I felt peace.
  • I realized that life can be gone in the blink of an eye, so I knew I’d have to make it count while I was here.

Having those two understandings helps me in so many ways. I don’t worry so much about the little things anymore. I don’t try and control everything. I never try to control other people. I know that eventually, all things work out as they should. I’m okay with who I am. I know that I don’t have to the prettiest, smartest, funniest girl on earth to be happy. I’m almost 42 and I don’t worry that I don’t look like I did when I was 20. I find growing old gracefully to be a blessing and a huge stress relief.

Ultimately, I learned and live my life’s mantra because of these experiences: Wake up. Be kind. Go to bed. Repeat.

While I hope none of you have to go through the physical struggles I’ve been through, I do very much wish that all of you find peace and contentment in your lives. When you have those 2 things, everything else comes naturally.

Blessings to all of you!

PS: If any of you out there have experienced something similar, I’d love you to share that story here so we can all benefit from what you went through.