Jealousy


Its funny how quickly envy can turn into anger. And anger can turn into defeat or feelings of inadequacy. I am not a materialistic person. I do not enjoy shopping or get a high off buying something new. I don’t feel the need to decorate my house or coordinate my curtains with just the right throw pillow. I’m not even sure why people own throw pillows (no one ever throws them) or have that beautiful room in their homes no one is allowed to sit in. But for some reason, when I see these things on Facebook, I get all knotted up inside and I get angry and begin to wonder what I did so wrong in life that I don’t have these things that I don’t even want.

Why? Honestly, I’m not just saying this, I don’t want those things. I want a happy, healthy family. I want boys who play in the mud and laugh all the time. I want just enough to not do without but not so much I forget to appreciate the small things. I want loving relationships and understanding friends. I want love and beautiful memories. So why do I care when someone else acquires and boasts about things I couldn’t care less about? Why does it needle me when I see granite counter tops or crown molding peeking in the corner of a boastful picture of a new mixer or a loveseat that “makes a room”?

I grew up in a house with shag carpet, and it wasn’t the 60s when shag was in. We had olive green appliances with a stove that didn’t work so well. Everything in our house was outdated by at least 20 years and there was never a plan or money to change that. We had a couch that was threadbare, hand-me-down dressers, and the latest and greatest of nothing. I didn’t care and never felt embarrassed until I was 15 and a terrible boy made fun of my house and asked why everything in it was so old. Ouch.

I made a vow that in my home, in my future, I’d have the nicest stuff. I’d play the game just right, go to school, get a degree, get the good job with the great benefits, grow with a company, find the right man, invest in my future, and have this amazing awesome house with a beautiful modern kitchen, gleaming appliances, and the perfect décor all situated on a beautiful piece of property in at least 3000 square feet. When I was a grown up, it would all be mine.

So I did play the game and jump through the hoops designed to reach that destination. However, somewhere along the way the game changed, or maybe the prizes did, because it became far more important to just be happy, satisfied with life and living. Welcoming living creatures into my space and finding bliss in my job. I didn’t care so much about the dream as I did about life and I never did attain the things I thought were important. I’ve owned 4 homes and not one has had a wood beam ceiling or an A frame living room.

I live in a small house, with 80s blue carpet and those awful hollow doors that never last and buffer no noise, ever. I have plastic showers and kitchen outlets that never work. I have windows that leak like a sieve (on the plus side we will never die from carbon monoxide poisoning), shingles that hang a little off, and a couch that is quickly showing its age.

Sometimes I feel bad, like I missed the boat or haven’t amounted to much. I look at the photos others post and I wonder why I don’t have the big beautiful house made of stone and large weather tight windows. I feel bad that one day someone might point out to my kids that their home is less than because it is small and missing wainscoting and marble. That their second hand clothes aren’t cool and their used toys are just little bit wonky. I imagine that one day they will feel like I did, set on finding and having the “better” life. I just hope they realize that a better life has little to do with things, and everything to do with living.

So yes, I sometimes feel a pang of jealousy for the things I don’t even really want. But I think it is less because I want them and more because I promised myself I would have them. A self who was too young to know what true happiness was, too silly to understand what it really meant to “have arrived”.

All to often we get down because we let the lives of others influence our feelings. We get caught in the cycle of being “not as good as” or “wish I had that”. We forget about what we do have and what really is important. I think becoming an adult is about realizing what it really means to have it all.

I have 1300 sq feet filled with enough laughter to fill a space three times that size. I have a couch that is perfect for practicing headstands and summersaults or spilling food and having accidents. I have love that brightens every room in a way no new and modern fixture ever could. I have carpet that doesn’t inhibit play but invites it, all the muddy paws, globs of play doh, tire tracks, and drops of paint are welcome here. I have land that sprawls, where adventure waits uninhibited by danger or strangers. I have dogs that get to dig, chase, and play without a landscape care in the world, their furry faces covered in dirt and smiles. I have food to feed us, water to quench us, and a cozy pellet stove to keep us warm and dry.

I like to think my posts make others just a wee bit jealous. After all I am human and what are humans without competition? I like to think people see our goofy smiles and our trampoline living room and they think secretly to themselves “I wish I was that brave or that lucky”. Brave and lucky enough to live a life full of the important things and not just things; full of life, laughter, love, silliness, mistakes, failures, strength, and togetherness. I like to think they look at my home and see the time I wasn’t watching and two little boys went crazy with the chalk, or the time I had to watch tv from the floor because there were too many dogs on the couch. I hope they see a daddy playing dodge ball inside on a snowy day not worrying about knocking over lamps and décor because we don’t have any of either. I hope they see little boys screaming with excited terror running from balls and hiding in cabinets kept empty on purpose for just such a reprieve.

When I post something I hope it makes everyone out of their mind insanely jealous. Not because they don’t have what I have, or their countertops aren’t as stained as mine, but because everyone should have such a family, everyone should want such joy. Not because they own the right things or have the latest gadget, but because they have loved well and found that the only value in life is sharing yours with loving living creatures, not the perfect wall color that looks good with that chair.

I think the world would be better, and people would be happier if our posts were less about what we have gotten and more about who we love. I wish I saw more about moments of bliss and contentment and less about new cars and shoes. I wish I knew more about my friend’s partners, their children, their guinea pigs than I did about their boats, vacations, and jobs. I wish everyone understood what was worth boasting about. What was worth being jealous over. What was worth giving time and effort to.

So while you may not understand from pictures why none of my glasses match, why my towels have holes in them, or why all my pictures hang just a little bit crooked from too many stray dodge balls, there is no way you can spend real time in my home without understanding, no wishing, that your home was just like mine.

This week I am feeling very grateful for the living things in my life that add spice, humor, love, and beauty to my every moment. Words I cannot buy, gestures that can’t be coordinated, and moments that are never staged. This is my life, and it is a good one. Not despite the things I never achieved or acquired, but because of the things I never achieved or acquired. I am lucky to have been such a failure. I am glad I stumbled and fell just enough times to crash into the perfect storm of colossal mistakes that led to and created this family in this moment.

Are you happy? Is your life filled with the beauty of things and items only money can buy? Or is it filled with people and life that bring you joy and create happiness? I challenge you to play in that room no one ever goes in, spill milk on that rug that cost a fortune, and leave dog hair on your pants when you leave the house. I challenge you to walk away from the things you think matter and embrace the things that really do. If it grows, if it breathes, if it lifts its face up to the sky and smiles, then it is the right thing.

What I am reading: Information on wind turbines, solar panels, and on demand hot water heaters. Thinking about cost, the environment, and of zombie apocalypse or nuclear fallout situations. Maybe I need to read about fall out shelters, or at least tornado shelters.

What I am listening to: Babylon by David Gray

What I am watching: I just binge watched Jericho, it aired from 2006-07. I hate that it ended on a cliffhanger and while it wasn’t the world’s best acting it did remind me that it is such a shame our current tv line up is driven by the watching habits of a populace that thinks Honey Boo boo is good television. Sadly, that means we lose good shows like this one that make you think and have diverse subplots. I guess it just proves television is not the thinking man’s medium.

Now moment: Being asked for one more hug eight times as I try to leave a room from a little boy trying to avoid bed time in the cutest, most effective way possible.

Gratitude: Things I am grateful for

consignment sales

tax refunds

sand box toys

dog kisses

healing eyes

perfect haircuts on the run

hugs from my husband

friends becoming patent agents (selfishly can’t wait to file needless patent)

possible new jobs that are truly exciting

opportunities for happiness

basil pesto

dishwashers

options

spiderman shoes that light up

monster truck toys for $4

Friends who “get it”

donut pans (review to follow)

 

 

I’m More Dude Than Most Dudes You Know

 

A good friend (yes Dink you are) recently said to me:

Wendy you are more dude than most dudes I know

I can’t stop thinking about it, and let me just say without reservation it is quite possibly the BEST Compliment I have ever gotten. I have been waiting almost a lifetime to hear such praise from my fellow human. I am sorry it took so long, but thankful it was someone I respect so much for being all over awesome that it was indeed a compliment I know was said with merit and not just a pick up line.

I would love to pin point exactly what this cool fellow meant when he said that great line to me, I doubt I could because I do not see me through his eyes. But I think all girls should try to be a little more dude like, you know, for the good of female kind and all that.  So I have compiled a list of things that make me “more dude than most dudes you know” just to help out those ladies in the audience who have forgotten why guys are cool and why we are often so unbelievably lame (trust me, we are).

It is with all due respect to myself I compile this list, let me stress that I am indeed also very female and some might even call me attractive (some, not all; I am nothing if not humble), IMG_1057cmbut I guess when I call you up out of the blue and ask for help trouble shooting my truck’s “death wobble” I get a few props for being just a little well hung (figuratively speaking).

  1. I named my dog Rutger, after the actor (as most men guess) not the university (like most women assume).rutgerbw
  2. I know what a Chiltons Manual is and how to use it. Yes, I was disturbed when my husband said “What’s that?”.
  3. My “purse” is smaller than most men’s wallets. I consider most women’s purses to be carry on luggage. Below is my “big” purse.IMG_1017m
  4. I only own one pair of jeans. I do not have a fancy pair, a fat pair, a skinny pair, a dark pair, or a pair with a strategic hole. I have 1 pair. Period.
  5. I only have 1 piercing (in my ear, don’t be gross). My husband has 4. Enough said.
  6. I own big dogs. None of my dogs would fit in a purse or can be hand carried anywhere. Anything with 4 legs was meant to walk, trust me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  7. I own a gun and before children I used to keep it under the bed; then I would practice and execute perfect commando rolls to retrieve it.
  8. I smell my clothes to determine their cleanliness.
  9. I might be able to build a pipe bomb. I admit nothing, deny everything.
  10. It takes my husband longer to get ready for a date than me. He’s bald, what is he doing in there?IMG_2460
  11. I love science and engineering and learning how things work.
  12. My “makeup kit” consists of sunscreen, Chapstick, and eyeliner.

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My point in all this, besides being grateful that someone finally sees how supertastic I am, is to remind women that most of what we do as women is a waste of time. No seriously. Our culture, society, media, or whatever you want to call it has us convinced that we need to be a certain way, look a certain way, and have a certain level of maintenance attached to us because we are women. That men will never want us if we don’t look like super models or we don’t carry a bag of all the items necessary to keep us “put together” for the day.

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Women have become a joke; high maintenance creatures that spend countless hours of our lives on fruitless pursuits that mean very little in the grand scheme of the world and even our own lives. We put on our masks (makeup) and decorate ourselves (manicures) in a way that make most men roll their eyes with anything BUT admiration. We have lost the respect of the very partners we hope to win. We have stopped using our brains for anything more than how to apply a great eyeliner or when is the right time to do a pore minimizing mask. We have stopped using our bodies for anything more than bait. We are helpless when it comes to getting things done and we worry about our hair, clothes, and shoes when life presents a real problem for us to solve. Really, everyone should know how to change a tire, more importantly though, women should be able to do it without being worried about how we look while doing it.

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Don’t get me wrong, ladies, I love ya, I really do. I just could never be you. I’d rather my husband look at me adoringly because I fixed his death wobble or trained his dog to shake, than because my hair looks perfect and my ass looks good in those pants. I prefer his look of adoration when I flip the giant tractor tire because he is admiring my ability, my strength, my resolve, more than the amazing legs I’ll attain by flipping it a bunch of times. I love that when something goes wrong with the TV or he needs his Xbox hooked up he calls me over to troubleshoot and seems genuinely proud that I can make his worries go away. Sure his eyes may gloss over when I explain how buffering works and why Netflix works better on my iPhone than our Blu-ray player, but I know deep inside he is grateful that one of us knows why and can solve the problem so we can watch more episodes of Breaking Bad.DSC_0058

I spent a few years in my younger days obsessed with looking perfect. I spent money on clothes and makeup and shoes ( I won’t lie I still like shoes I just don’t buy them anymore), and what I learned from that was happiness didn’t come from standing on the sidelines looking good, it came from jumping in the fray and getting dirty, sweating my ass off, snorting when I laugh, and taking risks. 020_20

All things dudes do. I discovered that the time I spent in front of the mirror was better spent under a car or digging a fire pit. DSC_0156I learned how to truly get shit done and have fun while doing it. I will never be the girl pushing her boobs together and bending over in front of a cop to get out of  a ticket. I hope I am always the girl the cop secretly wishes was his wife because I am such a kick ass driver he feels a little guilty for pulling me over.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I take pride in my ability to be gentle and kind, feminine and strong. I am thankful that genetics have given me a fair deal and that I cry probably more than I should and that I will always, always think with my heart first. But I take far more pride in being “like a dude” because when someone says that, what they really mean is I am smart, capable, fun, interesting, low maintenance, and easy to get a long with. I can’t imagine a greater compliment than that. Sure you can tell me I’m pretty, but that doesn’t hold a candle to calling me “Dude”.IMG_2809

So women, I implore you, stand up, heed the call. Rise to the occasion of your own potential and life. Stop the hair twirling and pouty expressions. Stop the selfie post with duck lips and instead gloat about your accomplishments in life. Start living. Because as far as I know, you only get the one life. So you can choose to spend it on maintenance and upkeep (things that get harder and more time consuming as we age with little to no actual return on the investment), or you could spend it laughing and scraping dirt out from underneath your broken finger nails making friends who may not remember that you once looked hot at that dinner party, but instead will remember how fun and thrilling you were climbing up that rock face. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATrust me, it is way better. So get out there dudes, put the lipstick down, take those high heels off (they are only giving you a bad back and deformed feet anyway).

Live, learn, experience, risk, create.

Make being a girl something I would consider as high a compliment as being more dude than most dudes you know.

PS. You can still look good doing it :)

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What I am reading: Reached by Ally Condie it is the third book in a trilogy of YA dystopian novels. I am strangely addicted to the dystopian novels at the moment. BTW I need iBooks money, this 3 books a week thing is killing my wallet.

What I am listening to: House of Gold by 21 Pilots

What else I am listening to: Compass Lady Antebellum my heart has never led me astray.

Inspirations from the ether: We take so much for granted here.

Now moment: Nothing beats Christmas Morning with two little kids. Magic is real.

 

If This Doesn’t Scare You, You Aren’t Reading Close Enough

My goal this week has been to do things that scares me as often as possible. It was a goal brought about by an exchange with a virtual stranger on Facebook- I guess you can never tell where inspiration might strike. It started out innocently enough with my giving a cheer to a shared post from Upworthy that had a quote from Mark Twain in it; the quote goes like this:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw of the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade minds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

So a friend shared this post from Upworthy, who really shared it from another source, and then a friend of this friend commented on the post- you follow me?- and then my mind was reeling from the friend of the friend’s comment. Blew me away doesn’t cover it.

The quote by Mark Twain is one I had heard many years ago. It is a good one, and  great one to live your life by. I highly recommend it. I have discovered that not only is it entirely and utterly true, but it is unbelievably freeing and liberating to live life in this manner. So how does one improve upon that way of life? How does a single person -unknown to me- make a casual comment that blows this quote out of the water? What did someone say on Facebook that was actually useful and not negative? What indeed. I am still mulling over the comment and it has been two days. For the sake of privacy I will not call out her name -she probably knows who she is anyway- but this person said the following in response to the Mark Twain quote- I’m paraphrasing a touch for effect here:

Ask yourself this question: If you keep doing things in your life the same way as you are today, what will that look like in 5 years? and more importantly, are you okay with that?

Is your mind blown yet?? Seriously, think about it for a moment. We all have dreams and goals etc. that we are either truly working toward, think we are working toward, or just hope will miraculously happen without us working toward them, but honestly, if you kept doing exactly what you are doing, where would you be? Will you have obtained ANY of those goals? Will anything about you be different? Will anything about your life be different? I don’t know about  you, but I had never thought about life in quiet this way, and while I clearly have adopted the view that living in the NOW can lead to inner peace, clearly there is value in looking forward and realizing that your life may be exactly the same in 5 years as it is right now.

So unless you are Beyoncé, who probably wouldn’t mind a bit if she is still rich and relevant, happily married with a beautiful daughter in 5 years, YOU probably don’t want to be exactly where you are right now in 5 years. Even if you are happy. Even if you have a great job. Even if your family life is wonderful. I highly suspect we all can think of variations of our future we would enjoy more, variables we would like to change. Dreams we would like to chase. So I ask you, if you continue down the path you are on, doing what you have always done, will you be where you want to be in 5 years? I can give you a hint here, you know based in logic and all that silly nonsense… you will likely be almost exactly where you are now.

Okay, so you will be 5 years older, possibly fatter, maybe you will have lost some hair. You might have moved to a new home or your children will clearly get older and their interests will change- meaning trips to karate instead of soccer perhaps- but in the end you will still be you, working the same type of job most likely, living in generally the same area, with the same friends, just mindlessly stumbling through life because I guess it isn’t bad enough for you to do something different, or you don’t know what to do different, or you are convinced that no matter what you do things can’t be different.

I have discovered the secret to ensuring that my life in 5 years will look markedly different. When I ask myself if I continue doing what I am doing, will I like what I see in 5 years, the answer is unequivocally a no. I really don’t think so. I think that is the whole key behind intentional living. If you are living intentionally working toward your own identifiers you can’t possibly be unhappy with the you of tomorrow because you will have reached some of your goals by ding things differently than you are right now. Have I lost you yet? If you just plod along numbly doing what you have always done day in and day out then 5 years from now you are likely to be right where you are today. If you are living intentionally that is probably not good enough for you.

I think the best way to honor yourself and both quotes above is to do something that scares you. Because, if it scares you then you likely aren’t doing it already; and changing your routine in anyway will change the you of tomorrow. Plus, doing something that scares you usually means you are rising to a new challenge, sticking your neck out there, or are willing to take a leap of faith. All things if done regularly, usually, lead to a better life and increased opportunity. Why? Because they allow you to be primed and situated for the opportunities you are hoping for to come your way.  Even if you can’t create the opportunities, you can create an environment where the opportunities would want to live.

And all you have to do is take a risk, do something scary, and be true to yourself. If I continue doing what I am doing right now- my job, my daily life, my hectic pace, my limited time with my husband- I highly suspect I will not like what I see in 5 years. I will probably feel stifled and underappreciated at a job that isn’t my dream. I will probably resent my children because I have remained in this job because I am afraid of losing the good income and great health insurance that having children sort of necessitate (not their fault mind you, but resentment is usually not logical). I might resent my husband for never being home or having time to help with the daily crap of life. It isn’t a given, but if nothing changes in my life, I can easily see it.

I started this blog because I absolutely wanted to change my life. I wanted to find a better way to live. I suppose if scaring the crap out of myself will help me meet that goal, then so be it. I will do it and happily so. So this week I took a chance and applied for a job at Upworthy. It isn’t exactly my dream job, but it is a step in that direction, working for a company I know I would be excited about and proud to tell others about. Applying was scary enough, they didn’t exactly have a job opening for “Enthusiastic Chronic Underachiever”, but writing them an open letter here on the blog for all to see most certainly was scary. What if they didn’t like it? What if the readers didn’t like it? What if you didn’t like it? What if my husband asks me “What is Upworthy?” (true story) It was hard to put myself out there open to judgment and possibly ridicule. But I did it. because if I don’t ever do anything scary, then I will just continue to be a girl with a dream that never comes true. And the me of 5 years from now already judges her. And I can’t have that, now can I?

 

What I’m reading: Seconds by David Ely. I just finished it. I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t recommend I, but I am curious about the movie made from it in 1966 with Rock Hudson. Hm…

What I’m listening to: Frank Turner, If I Ever Stray. I highly suspect if he didn’t have an accent I wouldn’t like being yelled at so much. I wonder if British people think they’d like him better if he only had that Yankee accent?

Now Moment of the week: Riding the water slides at the indoor water park with my son. As I went all to fast down the big one he isn’t allowed on- because daddy forced me too to show my sons how easy it was- I actually experienced this moment of irrational fear. The slide is not that long, steep, or fast, so why was I actually scared? It felt great to get to the bottom. Was that because I was alive? Vindicated? or it was over? I must ride the slide again until I stop having an involuntary adrenaline rush- or for the rush- why can’t I understand this? Grrr…

Inspirations from the ether: 5 Regrets of the Dying. Don’t wait until you are dying to solve these. Make your regrets upon dying that you have no more life to live, period.