Normal is the New Normal

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This is the phrase of the week in my home. Written on the fridge in dry erase marker and everything. The kiddos have been put on notice.

The world may be coming undone but normal is the new normal in my home. I have decided it just makes sense.

Actually things are far from normal but we are going to aim for it. I figure even 80 percent is a win. After all, I have a little and two pre-teens (one, not mine, who made some really bad choices this weekend and is in super big time out for sneaking out w a friend in the middle of the night while supposedly on a sleep over at her big sister’s) and no time to waste setting the expectation bar.

I may not be ready for it but that doesn’t change the reality that it’s a whole new (teen) era and I am now a mom of two and a life coach and drill Sargent all in one for mine plus one. It’s sink or swim. Four (and some change) critical years lie ahead for the older ones, and little is watching and learning. No time to waste. Red pill time. I will not lose them on my watch.

What do you think of normal being the new normal as a family goal? Please share in the comments.

p.s. Feel free to add potential future phrases of the week for consideration in the comments as well. Seriously under consideration for next week is, “Adapt or die” (said w a wink but also THE look. Gotta keep ’em guessing!)

 

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Being Up in a Down World

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Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is how to stay up when there is so much “down” in the world.

Perhaps in youth I just didn’t notice it, or maybe things really are getting a lot worse. But either way I have been really struggling to stay positive as I feel increasingly surrounded by bad news, downward trends, and growing negativity.

In my own personal world, things are going better now than a year ago, or two years ago, or even five years ago. Not that I am without trials and struggles, but overall compared to a few years ago I am personally living much less on the edge.  Thank Goodness.

Perhaps that is the solution — to focus on the micro level. Me and mine. Here and now. The moment. Because when I look out into the world, the bigger picture, things seem increasingly precarious.

There’s little I can do to control that bigger picture, so I struggle to figure out how much attention to pay all of that. If any attention at all. And yet to be oblivious also seems unwise.

And then there is the chatter. All the information that may or may not be true, real or not, harmless or a threat. It’s increasingly difficult to know who or what sources to believe anymore when every side seems to be yelling, “danger, danger, danger!”

I think all this weighs especially heavy on me as an empath type person. I literally can absorb other people’s emotional state, feeling it as if it were my own. I stopped watching televised news, or even online news for that very reason. It’s too disturbing. I prefer to read my news. And even then, it can get to me.

Anyway I don’t have the solution so in this case I ask you as the reader, what do you do to stay up in a down world? How do you keep the trials and tribulations of the outer world from draining energy needlessly from your inner one? How much do you let that in? What do you do to keep it out? How do you stay informed without that information becoming overwhelming, or downright paralyzing?

Please feel free to share in the comments your best tips for staying sane in an insane world. I appreciate it!

 

 

 

Choose to Follow

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It’s a controversial topic, submission, but one worth talking about more often because it’s so misunderstood.

When many people hear the word submission today, they often think oppression or abuse. But in reality it’s anything but.

True submission is a CHOICE, not something imposed or forced upon anyone. It’s the choice to follow, not lead.

And it’s not just a female-male thing. Men actually submit to recognizing a hierarchy and following the recognized leader all the time. In the military or at work, for example. Even in casual situations, an AMOG (Alpha man of the group) surfaces and the men all seem to intuitively know where they fit in the order. When they don’t, bad things can happen and AMOG may be established with posturing or even by physical force. Bar fights are an easy example of this.

Women are the ones who seem to struggle with the concept more. Women’s minds seem to function more in a “let’s all be on the same level and all have an equal say” way. This likely comes from a biological place, as in ancient times women most likely lived in villages with the young and the old and other women and things were always a collaboration/negotiation. This approach can be a strength, but not when it comes to recognizing leadership.

I have countless times observed women in a work setting, for example, not getting in step with or openly subverting their team leader or manager rather than recognizing who the leader is and choosing to follow direction. It can cause lots of problems when this happens.

The same can be said in a family. When there is no clear leader, there can be much chaos. The women I know who struggle most or are least happy in their marriages are often also fighting to have equal say or more often to be calling the shots.

If you had asked me in my youth, when I was blue pill, I likely would have argued that marriage should be 50/50 and all should have a say and so on. I believed that in my own marriage and many times actively went against my now ex-husband in decisions on finances or other matters. And you know what? Looking back I can see he was right and had I listened we (and I) would have been ahead had I gone along rather than fought for my own way. There were many cringeworthy moments.

For example, at one job I got 1000 stock options for $1 each. At one point they were worth over $100 each. My husband advised I cash out. I refused, believing it would go higher. Within a week they were at $45 a share. He advised I sell, as it was dropping fast. I refused. I held those darn options right down to $4 a share. To his credit he never rubbed that in my face. But how I wish I had just listened, chosen to follow. It was foolish pride on my part. I would have been far better off to listen.  (Eventually after my divorce I sold them for around $12 a share. Later they finally went to up to $45 again. Sigh. But anyway…)

The above is just one example, but I have learned. In my current relationship I refuse to fight for the lead. I choose to follow. I choose someone I knew I could safely follow. He’s a good man and he’s made a lifetime of good choices.  I trust his opinion and advice. I am smart but he’s much smarter. I recognize this and see going with it is in my advantage. He’s not forcing me to, in fact he’s always willing to hear me out, and still I am choosing to cede the lead. It’s working out really well. It’s by far the least drama relationship I’ve ever had, and I like it.

In short, choosing to follow can be a good thing and fighting the lead can be costly. It’s a mistake only YOU can choose not to make.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

 

Another Kiddo Tale

Comments in yesterday’s post brought up the topic of kids needing parents just as much in the tween and teen years as the ones before. A story about the 13-year-old daughter of a co-worker is an excellent example.

The family lives in a neighborhood in town. Dad works, mom is SAH. Four kids, two grown, one boy younger than the 13-year-old by 5 years. The daughter had friends in the neighborhood she regularly hung out with so mom didn’t think much of it when she asked to go to her friend’s house a few streets over.

Luckily after a few days the friend’s conscience got the better of her, and she told her mom the girl had actually gone to meet a supposed 17-year-old boy she had met on snap chat. The girl met him at a dead end road, got in his car, and the two made out. Mind you this was a complete stranger she had only met online a few hours before!

Luckily things did not go as badly as they could have, the girl easily could have never been seen again. When confronted she wasn’t sorry she had done it, only that she had been caught.

Mom hid the incident from dad, as she usually does. Instead of allowing dad to serve as protector, mom “shielded” her daughter from that and handled the punishment herself, some combo of losing the cell phone and being grounded.

Not long later the daughter (14 now) started attending the conservative Amish-like church in our area because she was interested in a boy who attended there.

They would meet in town unsupervised “to go to McDonalds” or some such and her mom thought it was all on the up and up until the boy’s mother called one evening to reveal she had read her sons text messages and discovered the two were sexually active.

The boy’s mother offered to “make it right” by considering the two betrothed and having them marry in a few years. The boy’s mother suggested a meeting of the fathers to discuss it.

Again the mom declined, hid the information from the dad, and the boy’s parents forced him to break off the relationship.

The girl no longer attends the church and is embarrassed because “everybody knows” and avoids her now.

Later, the girl’s mom learned this boy had not been her daughter’s first sexual partner. Somehow she had concealed the other relationship from her mom entirely.

The mom responded by figuring it’s just going to happen, so she took her daughter to get an IUD and has pretty much given up on trying to keep track of her whereabouts. The girl is increasingly defiant and continues down this path.

While some of the details are unique, it’s probably not such an atypical example of what pre-teens/teens might be doing with unsupervised idle time.

Commenters were right to say that just because kids of this age can be more independent, that doesn’t mean that parents can check out or be hands off.

Perhaps what this girl needed was more parental involvement, more structured activities, parents who were working together to keep her from making bad choices, and a more transparent relationship with her dad?

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

Teach Your Children Well

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Recently I had the experience of sitting with a 22-year-old gal as she filled out online job applications. Let’s just say, it became painfully obvious very quickly, this girl is in no way prepared for the world. Not even close.

I’ll spare the details to preserve the innocent but let’s just say if one thinks answering the question, “How long do you plan to stay in this job?” with “A. Less than three months” (even if true) is the “best” answer, one is missing something. Likewise filling out FOUR online job applications (and one’s top picks at that) with a cell phone number that is currently disabled because one didn’t pay it, as the primary contact, without realizing that is not a good plan until I pointed out the obvious, well… I was speechless.

Now I don’t know her well enough to know her whole story, but my guess is there is a big fail in there somewhere in the parenting of this young woman. My guess is the parent/s took the friend-rather-than-leader route, so popular today. She may mean well but she’s as clueless as a lamb to slaughter, wholly unprepared for the reality of life as an adult ahead. And with no safety net to fall back on, no kin themselves able to carry her for a bit more, this kid is really looking at a very tough and not fun future.

It’s all obviously her problem and responsibility to deal with now, but I would say it’s not totally her fault. Not that excuses will solve anything. It’s now time for this gal to focus on the solution, not the problem, or the source of these problems. After she overcomes them, maybe then she will have time for that. But first she’s got to grasp the problem, which her lax attitude did not seem to suggest.

All this brought to mind a quote I heard somewhere along the way, maybe in comments here, that kids have enough friends, what they need their mom and dad to do for them is to be their parents. Amen.

Not that I am a perfect parent myself by any means, but it was a reminder to me that I am my children’s guide, and while I am in the trenches day-to-day, my real job is to prepare them to launch into this world as a functional adult. And that the time to accomplish that in is limited, never to come again. While it seems far away now, it’s really right around the corner. If I fail them in this, I set them up for a lifetime of struggle, failure, and angst. And worse — dependance, victimization, and subsisting on the scraps of life.

A friend who is also a therapist once said to me, being a kid’s pal, giving in at the moment for peace and quiet, vs actually “parenting” them (with guidance, limits, rules, corrections, consequences, etc.) is the lazy way out. It’s selfish, and immature. It’s the strategy of a parent who refuses to grow up enough to BE a parent. Many times such a child has to do their best to parent themselves, and sadly also often parent their own parent at the same time.

I am not saying there is no hope ahead for this girl, but even in my infinite patience and innate desire to see the best in one, I was struggling to stay positive about her chances of a successful future. She has so much to learn, and the time to learn all that was long before now when she faces rent, bills she has no way to pay, and the very real possibility of being homeless if she doesn’t get a job, any job, in the next month.

When she was younger, lessons and consequences were smaller. The cost of failure, smaller to overcome. Now she’s near the end of the runway and there is yet no takeoff. Now what? I can only hope rubber grips road very, very soon and this failure to launch is somehow against all odds overcome.

In exasperation I finally said the obvious — “How about modeling?” The girl is very attractive, slim, six-feet-tall, and looks about 15. Naturally she said no, that would be “objectifying.” (“She’s got her looks and youth,” some may say. “Pair her off with someone to take care of her,” they may suggest? Too late. At the moment she is in a relationship with a gal even LESS capable than herself, if you can imagine that.  She’s somehow gotten herself into the position of being a sole breadwinner, minus the ability to bake.  A  Millennial experience? On the other hand, they may be able to move in with girlfriend’s mom so perhaps there is this??? Or wait, GF is less prepared, so this suggests even LESS parenting to be had at her place.)

At that point I decided for my own sanity to let it rest for the time being. Maybe after I regroup, I will give it another go. Maybe not. In the end, this is not my monkey, and this is not my circus. I can only do or give so much when I have my own battles to fight.

Teach your children well. If not, their future may well become a living hell.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

 

 

 

Choose Wisely

Something women should do is choose who they surround themselves with wisely.

Why? We tend to adopt the views and habits of those around us.

So for example if you value marriage and family, best to surround yourself with likeminded pals who share your goals and ideals. Likewise, surrounding yourself with women pondering frivorce, or who live a “sex in the city” lifestyle, or who don’t value marriage and family would be unwise.

Attitude and emotions are infectious. I know many times I have been feeling perfectly fine, only to have time spent with negative women running down their man, marriages, jobs, etc. leave me feeling drained and dissatisfied myself. I call such negative get togethers “hen sessions” and now avoid them at all costs. These groups can be found anywhere — even in church bible study groups!

I found the same effect can happen with television. Talk shows are one example. After half an hour of listening to people who have made bad choices and have big problems, it’s hard not to feel upset, angry, or down yourself.

Social media is another area where this can easily occur. I finally decided to forgo it altogether when it turned the corner from a fun way to share photos with family and friends and into a quagmire of people arguing and disagreeing about everything under the sun.

Pay attention to the attitudes and life choices of those in your inner circle. Are they people who inspire and uplift you or people who leave you feeling defeated and down. Not that everyone can’t have an occasional off day, but overall is their glass half full or half empty?

Its OK to step back or take a break from the toxic people in your world for your own sake. It doesn’t have to be a big blow up, you can simply fade away.  If you must interact with them at work, family gatherings, or other social situations take steps to insulate yourself from their rays of gloom as much as possible.

Time is too precious to spend with people or activities that bring negativity and drama into your world. Trust me, you will be a lot happier without all the angst.

Seek out those who are happy and healthy themselves. You’ll build each other up and enjoy doing it. Better to just have a single friend of this sort than oodles of the other.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.

Crafting a Life

I’ll admit, the red pill gets to me at times. It can seem overwhelmingly negative, defeatist, hopeless even. In a world so upside down, with such unrest and instability, what’s the point?

When I feel like that, I refocus on the gift the red pill can give — the chance to craft a life. A life based in reality, yes, but at least a reality that has some chance of success versus pipe dreams and fairy tales.

And even more, the chance to craft a life not only for myself but for my children. A hope to help them avoid the snares and pretty little lies that lead so many astray. To help them get it right.

Sure, I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Or I think I do until I remember how poorly all that really worked.

The red pill can be bitter, reveal harsh truths we’d rather not see, detonate all once held to be true. Yet it’s only from there one gets the chance to rebuild — wiser, better, stronger. The chance to truly craft a life well lived.

What do you think? How has the red pill changed your life for better or worse? Please share in the comments.

 

 

Unconditional Love

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We could learn a lot from animals, especially about unconditional love.

Since I was young I have always felt a special bond with animals. Compared to people they seemed refreshingly honest and true. They love simply, totally, and unconditionally.

In the love and commitment department, I’d say animals put us to shame. Imagine how much better of a world it would be if humans loved each other that way?

Dogs, for example, don’t leave each other. That’s why it is so traumatic for a dog to be given away — it’s something they simply don’t do, or understand. Commitment till death do you part is an automatic to them.

Indeed we could learn a lot from our furry friends about love, commitment, forgiveness, loyalty, not holding grudges, and living in the moment. I’d suggest when one struggles in love they ask themselves, “What would a dog do?” And try doing that. I know it sounds simple but for all our supposedly superior brainpower, I see more animals getting it than people.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

Don’t Just Go With It

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While in the car with the kids and Dancer’s youngest we were listening to the radio. It was set to a channel with today’s top music.

The lyrics of one song struck me. It basically was about relationships, advising to “Just go with it,” and “To see where it goes.”

This is popular relationship advice aimed at young women today, but for the most part it’s really bad advice.  Just like hookup culture, casual sex, and no strings attached are bad advice.

Women who get involved in undefined or poorly defined sexual relationships hoping they will “maybe” go somewhere or turn into something are setting themselves up for repeated and needless pain.

It opened the door to a teachable moment about valuing oneself. About a really good talk about how girls they knew or saw taking this route were not having success but rather multiple failures.

I encouraged the girls to take the path less travelled. While other girls are dating young and getting all wrapped up in boys, they could instead invest all that energy in themselves, in learning life skills, in preparing themselves for their future forever guy and for a happy, stable life.

Multiple rejections, heartbreaks, and bad experiences do the opposite. One only needs to look around in real life to see many examples of that. Painting it as “normal” teenage rights of passage has lead to a lot of destruction. As has the common, “just go with it” advice.

I hope a seed was planted. I wish someone had told me these things at their age.

What do you think? Please share in the comments!

Find Someone Who Likes YOU

I would wish this was obvious, but based on my outside observations of several friends navigating the dating market, it apparently isn’t — finding someone who likes YOU should be a baseline.

Instead they are with guys who roll their eyes, make comments behind their backs, and are so obviously not into THEM it’s not funny.

Sure these guys like the easy and available sex, stretching things out for months or even years, but sadly it’s clear they really don’t like or value the PERSON they are having that sex with. So much so they show up at the last minute possible and split as soon as they can. More than not.

Granted, no story is one sided. Perhaps these gals aren’t demonstrating value outside the bedroom. Maybe they are putting all their eggs in one basket. Maybe there is no there-there otherwise?

Now, if you want to be more than a booty call or hook up, of course step one is be likable. Don’t be bs drama. Don’t play all sorts of tiring games. Add value to the overall. Add more than. Be a gal worth committing to.

And then, after making sure you are all you can be, find someone who likes YOU. Not someone who likes having easy sex with you. But someone who actually likes YOU.

Don’t kid yourself either. If they are leaving as soon as they can, every single time, something is wrong. Even if they toss crumbs to keep you on the line, don’t fool yourself.

Its hard to face the truth, but the truth can also set you free. Free to spend that time with someone who likes YOU.

That’s the good stuff. Low drama and low angst relationships may not be the fodder of romance novels or rom cons but in real life that’s the equation I see working for the couples that really work.

Let those who have ears hear.

What do you think? Please share in the comments.