These Things I Know (UPDATED)

The hardest part about this blog post was coming up with a name for it 😀

About a month ago when I picked up writing again, I mentioned I was working on a reflection – some lessons learned, some life rules I’ve adopted, some general thoughts on life. And it’s finally ready!

But to pick a title …. hmmm.

See, it’s not all lessons I’ve learned, nor is it purely a list of “life rules”. Some of it I’ve personally experienced; others I’ve observed. But when it comes down to it, I decided that everything kinda falls into a broader bucket of things I know to be true.

So without further adieu, I give you These Things I Know 🙂

  • Life Rule #1 is “Don’t Be An Asshole”.
    • And I should clarify that this is a blanket coverage on all interpretations of that word – being shady, rude, arrogant, selfish, disrespectful, obnoxious, inconsiderate, or unkind. And if anyone wants to bring this negative junk around me? BYE FELICIA. #sorrynotsorry
  • If you break Life Rule #1, realize it, acknowledge it, apologize for it, and then move on.
    • Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. And in general, they only become super problematic if you don’t learn from them and make the same mistake over and over again.
  • One of my favorite quotes need to be rewritten.
    • I love quotes, really. But some should be updated to be more easily understood and put into practice, because their meaning can get lost in flowery and eloquent language. For example, take one of my favorites – “actions speak louder than words”. Totally believe it, agree with it, and live by it. But it’s too proper. My proposed alternative is: “Words don’t mean sh*t unless they’re backed up by genuine, honest, recognizable action.” BOOM. See, now isn’t that more clear?
  • Big goals are great, but you have to break them down into realistic and manageable pieces to feel like you’re getting anywhere.
    • This was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me. I set big goals but then get frustrated when I don’t make as much progress as I think I should be making or if it’s not happening fast enough. And I fall off the wagon and get angry with myself. I will be much more successful at setting and sticking with goals if I make them manageable and realistic. Take weight loss as one example. Instead of just having a big goal of, “I want to lose xx pounds”, keep that big goal in mind but I shift my thinking to be, “I want to lose 5 pounds to start”. Then when that happens, reset and think, “Awesome, now I want to lose 5 more” until I get to my big goal.
  • Self-care is critically important, in all ways … physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
    • And sometimes you have to prioritize one aspect of self-care more than others.  And that’s okay.  You figure out what needs more of your focus, work through it, and then re-evaluate.
  • All relationships are two-way streets. Period, end of story.
    • Doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, friend, spouse or significant other, business associate, neighbor. Both people have to be willing to make an effort. And if that doesn’t happen … if only one person is putting in the effort …he or she will eventually stop trying. Trust me on this. I’ve done it – stopped trying. It sucks, especially when it’s someone you care about a lot. But it’s easier than constantly feeling ignored or that you’re the only one who cares about said relationship. BUT, that being said ….
  • Relationships can also naturally ebb and flow over the course of time, particularly with people who are in your life for awhile.
    • It’s natural. You just have to accept it and figure out how what works for you and (insert name). But do NOT use this as an excuse to ‘phone it in’.  The note above still applies. There’s a definite difference between not putting in effort to maintain a relationship with someone and being apathetic versus navigating periods of time where it’s harder to stay in contact with someone or when you might not feel as connected (i.e. vacations, big life changes like moving or having a kid or starting a new career, new relationships, etc).
  • Every single one of us is capable of doing hard things.
    • You may take a different path than others, it may take awhile to do it, and/or you may not get it right the first time. But everyone can do hard things if we put our minds to it, if we stay focused, if we don’t give up.
  • Don’t ignore your feelings, especially when you are struggling with something (big or small).
    • Find a way to work through them, and realize that how you do that will differ from everyone else. Some people journal, some talk to friends and family, some seek help from a counselor or therapist, some exercise, some travel. Figure out what works for you. When I was going through stuff last year, I chose a combination of those examples above plus had what we jokingly called the “shouty caps notebook”, when I’ve had some strong and/or angry words to get out of my system but didn’t want to or didn’t feel like I could share them in real life 🙂
  • And also, remember that just because someone doesn’t outwardly express how they feel doesn’t mean they don’t feel.
    • Big difference between not showing feelings versus not feeling.
  • If you want to help someone going through a tough time, do something, anything, to show you’re there for them. 
    • Words are great, sure.  But they’re easy to say and don’t always come backed up with actual meaning.  (See bullet point 3 above.)  Asking someone “how can I help” may or may not do any good, because often times he or she who is struggling doesn’t know how to answer that question.  I was one of them – at the time, I didn’t know how anyone could help.  So instead, aim for something different … set aside quality time to spend together, pop in a favorite movie and watch with them, cook them a meal, go out for a coffee, take a walk or try a new form of exercise together, share a favorite book/lyrics/quote, drop a card or letter in the mail, etc.  SHOW THEM you’re there, don’t just tell them.
  • Choose your words wisely, especially during emotionally heavy situations.
    • Once you say them or write them, you can’t take them back, no matter how hard you wish for someone to forget them. It’s simply not possible.
  • Also, be careful with how much you decide to share with people.
    • This is particularly true for new or difficult or confusing situations you find yourself in. Really think about it … will what I say do any good?  could it permanently change how I think about someone or how they think about me, and how will I deal with it never being the same?  how will I feel after – happy, relieved, warm and fuzzy, embarrassed, etc?  Again, it’s worth repeating – once you put something out there, you can’t take it back. Is it worth the risk sometimes?  Absolutely.  But not always.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
    • Kind of an exaggeration (the ‘killing’ part), but it’s true. Similar to “you can do hard things”, you CAN and WILL get through tough times. And often you’ll come out better and brighter after the darkness 🙂

Take care of yourself, and take care of each other. Remember Life Rule #1. And let’s make it a great week!

Cheers,

SMR

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Must Always Remember

I just want everybody to be happy. That’s just me and who I am. It’s hard-wired in my DNA.

I’m a fixer, a worrier, an overanalyzer, a heavy-duty empathizer, and a protector when it comes to the most important people in my life 🙂 And by extension also to the people who are important to MY people, whether I know them well or not.

I also want to be the best spouse, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, etc that I can be, at all times.

Because of that, I often … okay, super often … neglect to remember this:

AND … through focusing so much energy on being whatever type of friend my people need, whenever they need it, I sometimes (okay, LOTS of times) forget to take care of ME … which should be equally as important as taking care of and looking out for others.

It’s kind of like the “secure your own oxygen mask first” instructions you get during the pre-flight safety rundown on an airplane, you know? You can’t help others well if you’re not putting yourself first.

Plus, in addition to it not being my job to be everything to everybody, it’s damn near impossible. Believe me, I’ve tried. Doesn’t usually end well.

Maybe it’s obvious to most, but maybe this can be a reminder for someone else, too 🙂

This is just one of the lessons I’ve learned/re-learned/realized over the last year or so. More to come. Alllllmost finished with Part 1 – stay tuned!

Cheers,

SMR

I Won’t Let Go

I heard a snippit of this song a couple days ago on a TV commercial, and the lyrics immediately caught my attention. Like, we’re talking full head whip from looking away from the television to being glued to the screen and sound.

I googled the full version and fell in L-O-V-E. It’s from Rascal Flatts and was released back in 2011.

Not only are the lyrics beautiful and simple, but they speak to support between two people in any number of situations….between family members, between friends, between significant others, or even between a yourself and a higher power.

If ever I could put into words what I want people in my life to feel from me when they’re going through tough times, regardless of the situation or what my current relationship with that person is, this is it.

I hope you enjoy. And if you want to hear the full song, check out the YouTube video at the bottom of this post.
Rascal Flatts “I Won’t Let Go”

It’s like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that

You think you’re lost
But you’re not lost on your own
You’re not alone

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won’t let go

It hurts my heart
To see you cry
I know it’s dark
This part of life
Oh it finds us all
And we’re too small
To stop the rain
Oh but when it rains

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight

And I won’t let you fall
Don’t be afraid to fall
I’m right here to catch you
I won’t let you down
It won’t get you down
You’re gonna make it
Yeah I know you can make it

Cause I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
And I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won’t let go
Oh I’m gonna hold you
And I won’t let go
Won’t let you go
No I won’t

Your Tribe


Too often we either struggle to realize (or wait too long to make a change) when we have people in our lives that maybe shouldn’t be or at least shouldn’t have such a large part in it.

Not everyone feels this way, but I personally believe that you should surround yourself with people that bring you peace, happiness, joy, and positive vibes, and people who help you find those things within yourself. 

And if someone doesn’t fit that bill? Think long and hard about how much you want them around. Life is too short to do otherwise.

We have the power to choose who we surround ourselves with…those who are in our tribe. Yes, there are times when it’s unavoidable to be around someone with negative energy or someone who you just plain don’t like – such as a particular family member or coworker – but for the most part, it’s up to us.

Here’s some quick math: On an average workday, I sleep 7-8 hours a night, take about an hour to get ready, spend 1-1.5 hours commuting, and work anywhere from 8-10 hours. So, for five days a week, that leaves me with about 4-6 hours where I get to choose what I do and who I spend time with – about 15-25% of my day.

In the grand scheme of things? That’s not a lot of time. As harsh as it sounds, why would I waste any of those hours with someone who doesn’t bring positivity, happiness, joy, and peace to the table?

Make good choices, folks. Choose your tribe wisely 🙂

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

(who read the title of this post and started singing? 😉 )

I have some pretty fabulous friends.

Some I’ve known since I was a kid, some since high school or college, and others I’ve met further into my adult life.

Some of these friendships have been constant smooth sailing while others have had their bumps along the way.  But people who are truly meant to be in your life always end up back beside you, even if you drift apart for a bit.

Here’s a collection of memes dedicated to my friends 🙂

blurting out lyricslaugh a little loudermichelle obama wisdomoctopus on your facesing it back to yousomeone's gonna get itsoulmate friendshipso clear

 

 

The Importance of Good Colleagues

Who do you spend most of your waking hours with?

For me, the answer is undoubtedly my work colleagues…at least Mondays through Fridays 🙂

There are so many men and women of all different ages and backgrounds who have taught me some of the most valuable life lessons and been with me through both the best and worst times of my life…helping me through the first time I experienced the loss of a family member, celebrating engagements and weddings, distracting me on a flight that’s making me nervous by chatting nonstop, rocking it out on the daily carpool ride to work, etc etc etc.  Often, they’re right there on the front lines with me…the first ones to know of good or difficult news, even sometimes before my nearest and dearest friends.

I read the article below awhile ago and found myself smiling and agreeing with most of it, thinking of specific memories for each mention.  The title is, “The Ways Your Coworkers Know More About You Than Your Friends Do”, and it appeared on the website EliteDaily.

1. They see you under pressure and immense stress. For the most part, your coworkers are right there with you when you’re in the trenches and sifting through the muck. Your colleagues know how to handle you when you’re on edge and can empathize when you’re juggling a nearing deadline and demanding boss.

2. They celebrate you on your actual birthday. Your best coworker also plays the role of your mom when she sneaks away to organize a surprise “Happy Birthday” serenade in the kitchen. She even knows you well enough to buy your favorite Macchiato cookies, instead of cake.

3. They see you in your natural state. Whether you’re running late and looking like hell or eschewed the makeup case after a rough night out, your colleagues have seen you at your worst. Sick, tired, hungover, tear-stained, puffy — you name it. We seriously wonder how anyone lands a cubicle boyfriend.

4. They double as your therapist. When your significant other, family or friends are pissing you off, you know you can vent to your coworkers about it. They won’t judge you or take sides because they don’t personally know these people in your life (aside from what scary stories you share about their grooming habits and from briefly meeting at those blurry holiday parties). Above all else, office policy dictates they are obligated to listen to it.

5. They know how you take your coffee, what you order in your salad and what cream cheese to buy on bagel day. And on a rough day, they know what bag of chips to grab, or which bar of chocolate when you’re having a random craving at 3 pm. Colleagues know your eating habits better than the neighborhood Chipotle cashier, whom you routinely visit more often than you’d care to admit…

6. They don’t judge when you’re bitching about something as trivial as a paper jam. …Or when you’re frustrated because Jack in Accounting messed up your paycheck. Or when your computer spontaneously shut down and didn’t save. Or when you have to come in early for no reason, other than it’s your job. Or maybe today the lack of toilet paper really set you off. Whatever it is, your coworkers have been there.

7. They commiserate with your financial struggles. No one quite understands how to live off your pitifully low salary until they have inherited your job. Your colleagues are among the few who can share in your financial woes because they’re earning basically the same as you. There’d be way more happy hours together if you and the team could afford it.

8. They can directly relate to a huge component of your life. Articulating why your boss is the devil to an outside friend is not as easy as when you explain it to your associate. She better understands the office environment and personal dynamics and, thus, relates to your problems with authority. If you’re questioning whether to take a sick day, you know she’ll give you an honest answer because she’s familiar with the work mentality.

9. They know the live details of your breakup and when you’re on your period. Who else is going to slyly pass you a tampon underneath your desk?

10. Everything is communal. Your associates are obligated to share everything with you: bathroom stalls, casual snacks from the commissary, talk time and even your favorite pen in times of desperation. It’s easy to bond over a shared love of black ballpoint Bics.

11. They’ve seen you with your guard down. Whether you got momentarily heated during an intense debate or you cried after receiving terrible news about your performance, your associates have seen it all. They’re the people sitting side-by-side with you every day, through the pressure-cooker situations and account celebrations. While they may be slightly horrified at times, they definitely know you better than most.

I hope you have I have been fortunate to have some of the most FUN and AMAZING coworkers over the first eleven years of my professional career.  To my current and past colleagues who are reading this – thank you 🙂       

Cheers!

SMR

Find Out Who Your Friends Are

I laughed a bit at myself today when I realized how often I write about music here.

I think that’s happened for several reasons.  First, I grew up with music.  It was on in our house, in the car, at my grandparents’ house, everywhere.  We went to musicals and other theater shows, I was in choir for awhile, I played the violin and piano for several years, etc.  It’s just part of me.

I also find that I both channel emotions through  and associate emotions with music.  For every mood I have, for many memories I have, for many people in my life, there’s a song that comes to mind.  Examples:

  • Feeling joy?  “Can’t Stop The Feeling”, Justin Timberlake
  • Feeling zen?  Kenny G, Chris Botti, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma
  • Feeling angry/rage-y?  “Break Stuff”, Limp Bizkit
  • Remembering my grandparents’ house?  anything by Nat King Cole
  • Celebrating an anniversary with my husband? “Wonderful World”, Louis Armstrong
  • Road trips with my sister?  “Lifestyles of the Rich & the Famous”, Good Charlotte
  • Dancing on stage with a friend at my wedding?  “Save a Horse, Ride A Cowboy”, Big & Rich
  • Getting thru some of the most challenging?  “Stand”, Rascal Flatts
  • Missing people I’ve lost?  “One Sweet Day”, Mariah Carey

This week at work, I’m listening to cancer patients talk about their journey and their attitudes towards their treatment and outlook on life.  One of the ladies we heard today said that through her journey, she ‘really found out who her friends are’.

While that notion kind of sucks – that sometimes “friends” aren’t really friends when you’re battling day after day the beast that is cancer – I actually smiled, because that’s a song that I associate with a very special friend of mine.  She and I carpooled to work for several years before I moved, and we always enjoyed that song (and sang it!) together.

If you haven’t heard it, check it out in the YouTube link below.

“Find Out Who Your Friends Are” – Tracy Lawrence

Run your car off the side of the road
Get stuck in a ditch way out in the middle of nowhere
Get yourself in a bind, lose the shirt off your back
Need a floor, need a couch, need a bus fare

This is where the rubber meets the road
This is where the cream is gonna rise
This is what you really didn’t know
This is where the truth don’t lie

You find out who your friends are
Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get their fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far.’
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who you’re friends are

Everybody wants to slap your back
Wants to shake your hand
When you’re up on top of that mountain
But let one of those rocks give way then you slide back down look up
And see who’s around then

This ain’t where the road comes to an end
This ain’t where the bandwagon stops
This is just one of those times when
A lot of folks jump off

You find out who your friends are
Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get there fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far.’
They just show on up with that big old heart
You find out who you’re friends are

When the water’s high
When the weather’s not so fair
When the well runs dry
Who’s gonna be there?

You find out who your friends are
Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get there fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far.’
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who you’re friends are.