Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ducks in a Row

I was talking to a friend today in my office and said, "Well, when you get all your ducks in a row—a co-worker poked his head in at that moment and said, "Make sure they are your ducks!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Independent vs. Dependent

It seems strange to me that there are men out there that want to have a submissive, docile, train-them-as-they-go, dependent wife. I know this is true, and okay.  I know there are men who want to exert their manliness in their marriage and home. I know there are women who are perfectly happy following their lead. I know this but it's hard for me to wrap my head around.

I have been and am currently blessed to be surrounded by independent, strong, opinionated, forward thinking, headstrong, educated women in my life. So when the topic came up about dating a submissive/docile woman vs. a headstrong/independent women it got my mind reeling.

I grew up in a home where my parents, in my eyes, seems to equally work in our home. If mom made dinner—dad did the dishes. My dad may have been the primary breadwinner but my mother has kept up her teaching/licensing and is a substitute teacher when she wants.  My mom runs the money and the house. My dad plays a significant spiritual role. This was not the pattern of either of their parents.

I have 2 beautiful, brilliant, talented sisters who are married and they are both independent, headstrong, opinionated, powerful, fierce women. They love their husbands and respect them. Their husbands encourage them to be their best selves. Neither of these men married submissive, docile wives, and neither of them are any less manly as a result. In fact, I find I respect and love them more for their ability to blow wind in the sails of my sisters.

 I've learned a few things along the way of how to date, love, empower, etc. an independent headstrong women from awesome examples, like my mom and sisters, in my life.

  • Don't make decisions for her. She has worked hard, done the research, and has her own opinion. Instead ask her.
  • She may be strong and independent but that doesn't mean she doesn't need a place to be weak and fall apart. Allow her that space. Take her in your arms, talk to her, and listen. She never feels more loved then when she can be vulnerable and strong at the same time.
  • It is far better to understand than to be understood.
  • It is possible for you to be a gentleman without being patronizing
  • When you encourage her to be independent, strong, have opinions, it will not diminish your strength, power, or role as a man.
  • "Intimidating" women love to relax, feel comfortable, take off their heels, put away the days work, put their hair in a messy bun or ponytail, and still feel sexy. How a man makes her feel in these moments matter.
  • It is okay for you to talk to her about things that hurt you about her independence or strong will. It is okay if you want to serve her or give her things, or if you just want to be the strong one for a while.
  • It might be hard to get a strong independent women but the work will be worth it once you climb those walls.
  • Listen. Invest. Be present. You just might be blown away by her heart and mind.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Story Time: Richard

Cape Coast
Ghana, West Africa

"...I unloaded my things, put on my swimsuit & headed to the coast/beach to swim. I went expecting to really dive in & swim but didn't. I mostly just stood where I had sure footing & let the waves hit me. The under current was too strong & the riptide too dangerous to go swimming. Along the way I befriended Richard & he watched my stuff, smoked pot, listened to music through his headphones, while I played in the VERY salty ocean."

At the end of very long and very hot day in Ghana I was ready to relax. I dropped my stuff off at a small hotel and ran to the beach. I had a few things I dropped in the sand but couldn't go too far into the water without worrying about my stuff. And that was when I met Richard. I kept coming out of the water to check on my things and after the 3rd time or so he told me he would keep an eye on my stuff. Honestly, I didn't know if I would see my stuff again but I trusted him and ran off into the water.

After a long time of playing in the ocean I came back for my things. There was Richard just kickin' it, smoking pot, listening to his tunes, and keeping an eye on my stuff. I gathered my stuff, thanked him, and started to walk back to my hostel. Richard started walking with me.  He asked if he could buy me a drink. I politely refused. He asked why. I said I don't drink and he couldn't believe it. He asked me if I smoke, gesturing to share his joint. I said no. He threw it on the ground and smashed it.

Then he asked me all sorts of questions about why I don't drink or smoke. We talked about my beliefs for a bit and he continued to walk with me. I told him he didn't need to walk me all the way but he insisted. I asked him about his family and he told me they were all dead—that he was alone in the world. He said he makes and sells things on the street to live but that he makes good money and not to worry about him. He told me that "Life is good, God is great, and all my needs are taken care of." Even though he was completely high I couldn't help but smile at his faith. When I inquired more about his family he told me he didn't want to talk about such dark things. "Some things are better left in the past."

After walking a bit more he asked if he could come up to my room. I, wanting to understand his intentions, asked, "Why?". He laughed this jolly big laugh that filled the air around us. I'll never forget his crooked smile when he said, "Let me guess you don't do that either?" I laughed with him and said no. He was very polite and respectful and asked more questions about my beliefs. We sat on a random curb and shared beliefs.

He shared that he thought life was better when he was high because he didn't have to feel pain or joy because they were mirrors of each other. He liked to stay safe and somewhere in the middle. I shared with him my feelings about touring the slave castles earlier that day. It got dark and I was tired so I said goodbye to my new friend Richard. He handed me a bracelet he had made and told me it was free. I thanked him again and he walked away.

Thank you Richard for watching my stuff on the beach. Thank you for the bracelet. Thank you for your kindness and open heart. Thank you for sharing some of your story. But mostly, thank you for reminding me that, "Life is good, God is great, and all my needs are taken care of."

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Art of Self Sabatoge

I was huddled in a corner of the SDSU track field (above a parking garage) in torrential rain and strong gusts of wind trying to figure out when my sister was going to be doing Triple Jump for UVU. I was on the phone w/ my mom and she was telling me that Alexa's coaches wanted her to scratch out of Triple Jump. I was confused and upset.

Then I spoke with a friend of hers and he told me that Ali best triple jump is around 36 and SDSU's sand pit is around 36. So her coaches wanted her to scratch b/c if she doesn't PR (jump the best she has ever) she won't even make the sand. My sister heard what they said and decided to jump anyway. I looked at her friend and asked him why? He smiled at me and said, "Kylee, she knows that in order to make the sand she will PR and that will force her to jump her best."

It was like a light exploded in my head. I have been thinking a lot about self sabotage, limiting ourselves, etc. I have talked with a lot of my friends who are trying to figure out things in their lives (and mine). It seems that they are almost afraid to be successful. They don't know how to live their dreams. They are so quick to limit what they are capable of doing to what they are familiar with.

I have been thinking lately of how I am looking down the triple jump lane in my life. Do I see the sand and fear the gap or do I see the sand and have faith that I will make it?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Room To Grow

"I had become a new person; and those who knew the old person laughed at me. The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements and expected them to fit me." (George bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Man and Superman, 1903.)

People change. I am grateful that I am not the same person I was 10 years ago. I liked me 10 years ago but life has taught me much since then. I wonder though how forgiving I am of those I knew 10 years ago? Do I "measure them anew" when I see them again. Do I allow them space and room to grow, change?

Like life, people don't stay static. Challenges and heartache carve out holes in their hearts and triumphs and miracles build muscle. The heart of someone you once knew is not the same heart today. 

I know I need to be better at allowing people room to grow as I hope they will allow me the same.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Story Time: Delores, The Lady On The Corner

When I was living in Boston, MA as an AmeriCorp V.I.S.TA. I would often walk around downtown during my lunch break. I would walk around the Public Gardens or the Boston Common. Some days I would walk down to the water and eat my lunch overlooking the Harbor. No matter when I went for lunch I noticed this homeless lady standing on the corner, the same corner, every day.

She wasn't pan handling or even begging—I don't really know what she did there. I remember the day that snuck into my mind. I didn't know her. I didn't know what she did, where she came from, what her story was that led her to the corner. Most importantly, I didn't know her name.  I had been cordial to her in the past saying hi or good day. I think I even gave her a few bucks now and again but it wasn't the same.

One day I was determined to get to know the lady on the corner. When it came time for lunch I mossied on over to her corner and introduced myself. I asked her name and she smiled her almost toothless grin and said, "My name is Delores, but you can call me D—everybody does." Delores noticed my lunch and told me that if I was going to talk to her I might as well share my lunch. I laughed and let her pick through my lunch and take what she liked. Then we talked about perfectly random things.

Delores asked me if I wanted to buy a newspaper from her. I asked about the newspaper and she told me about Spare Change, a newspaper written & sold by the homeless in Boston. She bought each paper for 25¢ and sold them for $1. She let me know that a few weeks ago they ran an article she wrote. I bought a paper from her and she was done talking with me.

I took my newspaper and what was left over of my lunch and sat down at the base of the fountain in Boston Common, near the beginning of the Freedom Trail. I couldn't help but be grateful for talking to Delores.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Story Collector

In my life I have collected a few things such as postcards and angels but nothing for too long or on a regular basis—except for stories.

The other day a friend of mine called me a Story Collector and I loved it. He said that I seemed to love listening to people tell their life stories—that there is something about me that just compels them to share. He is right. I love to hear people tell their stories and can't wait to find the right moment to sit down and hear someone's story.

Everyone has a story but they are seldom asked to share it. I am continually amazed at what people will share when given the opportunity and listening ears.

I decided that I am going to start sharing some of the stories I have collected over the years.  Stay tuned for a series of simple, raw, unique, honest stories. I hope you enjoy reading about real people who have shared their experiences and stories with me.

This series of stories will be called, Story Time.

My New Obsession

For Christmas my mom gave me a Kindle. I wasn't expecting it and wondered if I would use it much. I really like the feel of a real book. I also got an Amazon gift card at Christmas. I had no idea that these two gifts would soon fuel my new obsession.

One day I "liked" TED on Facebook. Inspired by my sister, Chelsea Shields Strayer, who gave a TED talk in India. I had no idea what that would lead to. Just like in the book, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie," one thing has led to the next.

I watched this TED talk by Shawn Achor
 I wanted to learn more about Positive Psychology and Happiness so I bought his book (on my Kindle w/gift card), "The Happiness Advantage."

 Then a few days went by and another TED talk caught my eye in my FB newsfeed so I check it out...

 I watched this TED talk by Susan Cain
 I loved it so much I couldn't help but buy her book (on my Kindle w/gift card), "Quiet." I also discovered that I think I'm an Ambivert.

No friends, it is not Pinterest, but I am nervous about this trend.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Long Enough To Work

Recently, I was asked a question I've been asked at least 13 times (that was for you Brandon) okay more like a hundred. "So what do you want in a relationship?" Usually I just say something like a good man who loves me and I love him. I don't go into too much detail. I was never a list maker when I was young, I don't really have a type. I have dated a variety of guys across the spectrum.

However, this time I was asked a new answer bubbled to the surface and came out of my mouth. I said something to the fact that I want to be in a relationship long enough to get to the point where we have to work.

I love love. I am a super fan of people actually finding another person who loves them and the love is returned. I love the feelings that you get in the beginning of a relationship—when you are unsure of everything but feeling so much. I love the "honeymoon" stage of a relationship where you look past another's flaws and focus on the here and now.


The part of the relationship I love the most is when all of that is over, when the friends/roommates aren't around, when it just the two of you and you have concerns, issues, red flags, to discuss. I love those raw, real, moments of communication. I love them because being willing to work with someone in a relationship means you truly love them. It is easy to quite. It is easy to walk away. It is easy to shine the light on someone else' flaws in order to feel better about leaving.

Working on a relationship means it is worth working on. To me, these days, that is what I am most looking for in a relationship—the work!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Lizard Lips & Hippos Tongues

I have a weird mom.

She likes it best that way.  Let me explain:

When I was a kid she would sing and dance in the kitchen while making us food. We would always ask what we were going to have for dinner and she would say, "Lizard Lipps & Hippos Tongues." To this day I don't know if it was to be funny or if it was because she had no idea what she was going to make for dinner.  As she continued to sing and dance we would get all embarrassed (we secretly love it!) and tell her to stop being so weird. She would keep singing and tell us, "You don't want a normal mom. Everyone has a normal mom." And she was right.

Thanks for being the perfect amount of weird mom!

Some Things Just Take Time

"A Russian team discovered a seed cache of Silene stenophylla, a flowering plant native to Siberia, that had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel near the banks of the Kolyma River (map). Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the seeds were 32,000 years old."

I recently read an article about a 32, 000-year-old plant that was brought to life. Isn't she beautiful?

Once I saw a picture of her I couldn't seem to get her out of my mind and then she weaselled her way into my heart. I kept thinking about how amazing it was that seeds would be found, nourished, fed, taken care of, and then 32,000 years later grow into a beautiful white plant.

In a world that is so focused on the here and now this little fighter plant is a reminder that some things just take time.

Healing hurts and takes time

Love grows or diminishes over time

Friendships are born out of time shared

I am grateful to that little Ice Age squirrel who buried the seeds of this beautiful plant. Silene is a reminder to me that some things just take time.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Date A Girl Who Writes

This blog was inspired by these blog posts: "Date a girl who reads""Date an Entrepreneur"

Date a girl who writes. Date a girl who spends her money on pens, paper, and books rather than fancy-dancy clothes or expensive makeup. Date a girl who writes because she has a wonderful vocabulary but doesn't make you feel dumb.

Find a girl who loves paper. She writes on a computer for convenience but she prefers paper. She has cards ready on hand in her purse and loves to leaves a trail of notes wherever she goes. She is the one who is writing letters—the old fashion way of pen to paper, and sending them in the mail. She is a girl who owns a typewriter to actually use instead of admire.

Because she is a writer she is also well read. She knows that good writers are good readers. You will notice she always has a book in her bag next to her current writing notebook. Date a writer because all her books have dog-eared marked up pages with notes written in the margins that you secretly want to read. She is the one who doodles ideas on scraps of paper, napkins, and is always telling you her new story plot and fanciful ideas. You can find her at Bookstores lost in thought as she is doing research on what books are selling, what is the current YA trend, and trying hard to resist buying one more book she doesn't need.

Date the girl who is reading a book with all sorts of notebooks spread out around her. Sit by her, she might not notice at first, but challenge her with real questions and real desire to understand her world. Ask her about her book characters, the book(s) she is currently reading and share your favorite books. Challenge her on her ideas.

It is easy to date a girl who writes. Give her a book, notebook, gift card to a bookstore for her birthday, for Christmas, and anniversaries. Give her the gift of words in poetry, in song, in a simple letter. Give her Mary Oliver, Poe, Emerson, Rilke, any book on writing. "Let her know that you understand that words are love." Understand that she knows the difference between creating a world and the reality she lives. She will try to live her stories or fix her life problems through her characters and if you're lucky you will be privy to her sacred tears and triumphs in the process.

Let her really know how you feel about poetry, syntax, words, blogs. Don't be afraid when she wanders from reality to a place where she is generative, creative, and other worldly—she will wander back to reality.

Date a girl who writes because there is nothing like it. You will find she brings light, joy, and color into your life. If you want a safe half lived life filled with dull moments and splashes of color walk away from a writer. "If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who [writes]."

If you find a girl who writes keep her close. When you see her eyes glaze over and she is scrambling for something to write down a new idea—be patient. She doesn't know any better way to capture the stories, worlds, characters that are running around rampant in her head. When she is up at 2am writing furiously or crying over a book she can't stop reading, make her a cup of tea and hold her.  She may talk to you about her characters and their story, as if they are real, because to her they are. "You may lose her for a few hours but she will always come back to you."

It's okay to fail a writer because she knows that failures lead to triumphs, that after the climax comes the denouement, that sometimes the story ends...but sometimes there is a sequel. She knows that life is full of heroes and villains and patterns hers after those who have affected her life. It is also okay for you to be her hero and give her plenty of fodder for her next novel. Don't be too worried or scared of being perfect. Girls who write understand character development and the idea that flaws make for better full rounded characters.

Marry a writer because you can't imagine spending you time with anyone else. Because your heart is ready to burst and bleed out all over the floor when she gives you that look. Marry a writer because even is she never gets published you will never have worry about life being boring or lack for entertainment. Together you will write the story of your lives and sometimes you will use paper.

Love a writer because she will introduce your children to "Green Eggs and Ham", "Boxcar Children", and Shell Silverstein. She will play tinker toys, Lego's, and build castles out of blocks while introducing to them the idea of creating stories and using their imagination.  She will whisper poetry in your ear at the right time and will always be able to keep herself busy.

Find, date, marry, and love a writer because with her you will live a thousand lives, dream a million dreams, and never lack for a story.