Letting It Be: The Lesson Yelling Taught Me

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons.

Seriously. It does. And I’m finally (in my aging state of almost 36) learning to open up, listen, and learn from these teachings. Lord knows I could stand to learn a thing or two – probably more. It might even make life a little easier…

Last week, I kinda let lose on my mom. Yes, the loving woman who I would give my vital organs for. The woman who suffered through 36 hours of labor, raised me, clothed and fed me. The woman who, to this day, washes little kids clothes, and picks up after them (and their parents) every day. I just want her to relax – not clean up after the girls, or us, and just rest. I want her to not be exhausted and frustrated with the weird side effects like a newly discovered ache, or everlasting fatigue, from last year’s cancer fight. I just want her to be happy and rested. So I yelled.

Clearly, I’m heartless and evil.

Larryhorns

I was stressed. I’ve been running around like that poor chicken sans head, and I just needed someone to listen to me. Know what I wanted to cook for dinner. Not assume anything and just wait for me to catch my breath before having to answer to someone else’s needs. Just once. I want someone to know I’m worried about what pains and aches I have, but I’m too afraid to talk about it, or interrupt the lives around me with what’s probably nothing. Really. Nothing. Right?

So, instead of asking if she was ok, or thanking her for getting a head start on dinner since I was clearly tied up and not able to respond, I just became a super-wenchy daughter. (What busy working mom in her right mind YELLS at someone for making dinner?!?!?! This one, apparently.)

Had I stopped a second to talk with her, no – listen to her – I would have heard (or more likely observed) that she has her post-cancer treatment mammograms this week. I would have remembered this, and realized that she too is anxious. I would have remembered that she’s been through a lot, dammit, and yet she still puts up with my crank.

I didn’t really think about this…

…until I was on the receiving end of some pretty hurtful assumptions and accusations. And, surprisingly for my normally über-defensive self, my first instinct was to breathe, and remember that this person has a lot going on. And although I’d been hurt or put off by some of their actions, and trying to slowly back away and give space, that this wasn’t my turn to talk and share my side of the story unless it was wanted. Clearly, it wasn’t, but I answered a tough question honestly, tried to calmly offer the opportunity to talk, and let it go. I don’t let things go well. I’m more like a rabid dog, holding on to the death. But this isn’t about me, and as I realized I was giving this up to the universe as what was meant to be…it came to me…

mom and me

Mom knows my pain and my anxieties. She listens. She tries to help, and even when I freak, she remains calm, tells me not what I want to hear, but what I need to hear to grow stronger and learn from where I am. I learn from her – still – every day. I hope more and more of her character becomes part of me as I continue to grow and learn. I was trying to be with a friend like Mom is with me, trying to listen although I love (and need) to talk, and maybe that’s why I can let this be. Because I know, despite how frustrated I may be, Mom makes me feel loved, and I know as tough or contrary as I may be at that moment…I can be me.

I don’t like it. I don’t like that I can’t be everything to everyone when they need it. I don’t like thinking that someone assumes I don’t care, but they don’t care to want to need to listen to the real story – because they can’t where they’re at. I don’t have to like it. But its not always about me. I can learn to let it be.

powerpuff

Buttercup, the PowerPuff Girl. This is the character I thought (andprobably still do think) resembles me. Saving the world, determined and impatient, one tough girl reaction at a time...

Letting it be takes away the stinging pain of letting it go… and I can be ok with that.

So, I learned this week that while yelling might make me feel better for a tiny split second… while it might make me think someone else has heard me more clearly because I was loud and angry… I learned to squelch the urge to yell and listen first. To someone else’s words, or their silence, or even my own inner voice. Figure out why I’m so upset, or why my kids were trying to get a reaction out of me…or the real reason my mom is on edge. I really don’t like yelling anyway.

This is going to take practice, people. I’m loud. I’m normally quick to react. But now I know that if I try… I can let it be…quietly.

I love you, Mom.

Have you mastered “letting it be?” Tell us how!

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It All Depends on How You Define Cool…

I haven’t read it. I don’t really need to. And, thanks to facebook and twitter, I don’t have to actually read the article as many of my friends have commented on it already. So, bonus.

I’m talking about the piece posted on e-online about the Abercrombie CEO. Whatshisname. Not wasting the precious space in my grey matter to try and remember it.

I knew what this article reveals about the company 17 years or so ago. I was a college freshman or sophmore at GW. I had recently graduated from St. Mark’s, a New England Prep School, where A&F didn’t really fit the dress code. I never really looked good in their clothes anyway, but I LOVED the way their colognes smelled, and I really wanted to find a pair of their jeans that fit my “athletic” thighs.

The Mall at Pentagon City had an A&F store. I needed a part-time job, so I donned my SM crew jacket over my best A&F look-alike attire, figuring that it couldn’t hurt to channel my “Prep” while interviewing. Sadly, the jacket didn’t help. It was abundantly clear by their actions and words that they weren’t really looking for “someone like me.” Really, you give me the once over and actually say that? So – cool on paper, not in person. Eh.

I brushed it off knowing there were better things ahead, right? After all, this was DC. I really didn’t need to hang out in a mall, right? And I could sing and play sports, and I had great friends and a boyfriend (who wouldn’t get another bottle of Woods). So screw Abercrombie. I got a job working with the greatest group of people on campus at the Smith Center – working basketball games, gymnastics meets, the front desk, our prized Commencement – way cooler.

And the cool kids? I’m sorry, but the things I did at GW made me much cooler than folding over-priced t-shirts and jeans that featured your panties as a waistband for all-too-skinny kids could have made me.  Opening for Judy Collins, performing at the Kennedy Center Honors, and singing at Vice President Gore’s Christmas Parties with the Troubadours, starting the Club Field Hockey team, getting an internship at the US Department of State, driving in a Presidential motorcade, watching a Bill Clinton and Tony Blair press conference from the 5th row in the East Wing, making friendships that have lasted through career moves, mood swings, weddings and children – those, Mr. Whatsyourname, are things the cool kids with great attitudes are doing.

Since being turned down for employment in your store, I’ve done all that, plus gotten a Masters Degree. I’ve served in local office, managed regional communications teams for a national health organization, fundraised for all sorts of causes among other things, and am now leading a marketing team for an awesome educational software company.

I look and feel the best I have ever felt in my almost 36 years. I eat healthy, feed my kids well, pack their lunches, encourage them to be active, let them know that I run and train to stay fit, invite them with me even though its MY alone time, encourage them to be smart AND beautiful on the inside more than the outside, and work my tail off so they know that nothing comes without hard work and a little sweat. Because they will know that nobody can hold them back from achieving whatever they dream of, or make them “not cool”, or take away that youthful confidence – despite what words they may say. Its going to take work, but they’ll know it.

Here’s the important part!

I don’t need approval or a pat on the back for the things I’ve done, or for how cool I am. (Yes, I’m cool – at least in my daughters’ eyes, and that’s what matters) The only reason I’ll ramble on about this ridiculousness is because every mom, every former and present self-conscious awkward but really cool girl and boy, every HUMAN out there should know that every single one of us is cool. It all depends on how you define cool. And we, my friends, can help change the perception of cool. Of right. Of good.

These are the things the cool kids are doing, Mr. Whateveryournameis. Not perpetuating ridiculous, inaccurate stereotypes that you seem to be holding on to, well into 2013.

Oh, and I don’t fold shirts now, either.

me at airport

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