I’m instituting the 40 After 40 list

standard June 3, 2016 5 responses

I am not the only one of my friends who happens to be turning 40 this summer. I am not the only one who appears to be struggling with this, and struggling to find the reason they’re struggling with it. Everyone is approaching the issue differently, but internally, I think we’re all freaking out a tad.

The funny thing is, I think the reason we’re not sure why we’re freaking out is because the panic around turning 40 seems to be fabricated by the culture around us. It’s all about the concept of being “over the hill” after 40, or the “40 before 40” list pressure, as if there’s no time to try something new or experience something different once you’re out of your 30’s.

I was driving the other day to meet a friend for lunch and ruminating on the fact that this year has been so busy that I never found time to create a “40 before 40” list. Had I made one, there’s no way I would have accomplished any of it in the scant amount of downtime my current schedule allows for.

And then I realized how incredibly stupid the concept is.

I mean, why?

WHY 40?

WHY a list of things that MUST be done, tried, accomplished before turning 40?

Is it that after it’ll be too late? New things must be experienced or at the very least attempted before?

What, somehow on July 23rd it’ll be too late for me to go on a hot air balloon ride? Sheer an alpaca? Attempt to cook something exotic I’ve never attempted before?

That seems… ridiculous. No?

But, apparently, that’s what main stream media would like us to believe.

And I’m calling B.S.

First of all, how many people, before 40, have the kind of disposable income it takes to accomplish the sorts of “dreams” people put on their 40 before 40 lists?

Second, I’m sorry, but most people are a tad busy in their 30’s what with kids and careers and all that jazz. Some days it’s a miracle when your socks match, let alone when you attempt to think of something new to try.

So I’m instituting a new type of list. A sort of celebration of 40 and beyond. Of all the living there’s yet to do.

I’m calling it the 40 After 40 list.

Original, right?

It’s going to be full of awesome, BIG things. Things that remind me how amazing it is that I GET to turn 40. That I am alive and kicking. That I have already accomplished great things and GET to enjoy a lifetime of accomplishing MORE.

Now that’s a list I can get behind. What are you putting on yours?

40 After 40 List Image

 

We are the stories we tell ourselves

standard October 7, 2015 1 response

Who were you when you were a kid?

I was the lazy one. The underachiever. The one who got by by doing the least humanly possible. Who read all day instead of studying or working.

I told my husband this the other day. Then I told him that I still thought of myself as lazy, as underachieving. He just looked at me and burst out laughing.

He’s known me for over 15 years and never, not once in all that time, have the words lazy or underachiever, been words he thought of when he thinks of me.

And yet? I still think of myself as lazy. As doing the least minimum possible to get by.

Even though I’m on the PTA. Chair a volunteer program at school. Wrote a novel. Pack wholesome lunches for two kids every day. Do a million loads of laundry every. single. week. Work tirelessly for three, sometimes four clients, while managing my own blog and starting my own business. Help with homework, push literature until it comes out of the kids’ ears, listen to endless conversations and concerns about school and friendship. And so on, and so forth, from sun-up to sun-down.

And yet? If you ask me, I’ll probably shrug, wrinkle my nose, and say that I probably can do more…should do more…that I don’t because I’m lazy.

Have you ever noticed how the stories we’re told when we’re kids stick?  How they become truth? Indelible truth. In ways that are so very, very hard to alter. In ways that literally shape us and turn us into who we are, or, at the very least, into who we believe we are.

As kids, we all too often become the stories that are told about us. As adults, we are the stories we tell about ourselves. And yes, often those stories are one and the same.

Now that I’m aware of this story I’ve been hearing and telling for over three decades, I’m going to make a conscious effort to change the story and change how I perceive myself.

Because if I’m not behaving like a lazy bum, at the very least I could be giving myself credit for all the work I do instead of constantly berating myself for not doing more.

When I fall into bed, spent, at the end of the day, I’m going to focus on what I did do, not what I didn’t. I’m going to tell myself that I’m a good mom, a great writer, a supportive wife, a trustworthy friend. I’m going to remind myself that a day is only 24 hours long and that I’m making the very best of the ones I can control.

And I’m going to try to change the story I tell about myself and be a little bit more supportive of my own efforts and successes.

What’s your story?

That time when I didn’t take the job at Facebook

standard September 23, 2014 3 responses

Seven years ago, almost to the day, I dropped off my 11-week-old child at the daycare her 2-year-old sister attended daily, which she too would soon attend regularly, and headed off to Facebook HQ.

I was wearing a professional looking outfit that didn’t fit right over my still bloated post-partum body. I hadn’t slept more than an hour at a stretch in 11 weeks. I looked broken, felt broken, but most importantly, was desperate to not go back to my existing job when my tiny infant turned 4 months old.

Facebook at the time was still relatively new. By that I mean that they had just celebrated their millionth user and were feeling pretty badass, but their head quarters consisted of a bunch of cheap looking furniture on which perched MASSIVE computer screens. Power cords crisscrossed all the floors and the conference rooms just looked a bit… unfinished.

They’d just experienced their first big media hiccup – the Facebook SUCKS debacle stemming from the banning of breast feeding photos, which led to moms leaving the site in droves and deleting their accounts in a huff.

I was being interviewed for a customer service position and I was really excited to discuss the issue with them.

I should have known better.

My interviewer – head of the department – was a young guy who didn’t look old enough to have to shave daily. After talking briefly with him, I met with every important member of his team, pitching myself as best as I could without really being able to glean what it was they were looking for, why they’d brought me in to interview, feeling increasingly uncomfortable as my milk supply built up, missing my sweet baby, wondering what the heck I was doing in this start-up office, talking to people who had a very different take on customer service than I did.

I asked them what they planned to do about the Facebook SUCKS walkout and they shrugged, asking me if I really thought it was worth worrying about.

I asked them about their overtime policy and they gleefully told me that everyone was allowed to work as much overtime as they wanted.

I asked them about how strict office hours were and if it would be weird if I dashed out the door to get to daycare on time at the end of the day. They looked perplexed, told me they thought that one team member might be married, but that they were certain no one had kids, and anyone most of them went out for drinks every day after work and that it would nice if I could join them a couple times a week.

I walked out of that room dazed, looked around at all the people hunched over keyboards, frantically typing, fully focused on their work, knowing without a shred of a doubt that this was not the place for me.

A few weeks later the hiring manager called and told me he thought I might not be a good fit for the team. I actually laughed and said “Ya think?”

Then, a month later, I gave up on the hopes of finding the ideal position, dropped off my baby at daycare with her sister and went back to my soul sucking job, which felt a little less soul sucky now that I knew what the alternative could be.

I wasn’t there for all that much longer, but that’s a whole other story.

Last week, I got to go back to Facebook HQ. New location, new digs, better furniture, different vibe, lots of new people.

I wasn’t there because a family member had landed me an interview, I wasn’t there because I was looking for a job, I was there because I’d been invited as an influential blogger to hear about how certain Facebook products could be beneficial to families.

I was shown to a lovely conference room, given some fun Facebook schwag, introduced to a lot of neat Facebook programs, invited to share feedback, and then taken on a tour of the new campus.

To say that it was a different experience is putting it mildly.

To say that I was a different person is putting it mildly too.

I was not tired, broken, fragile. I was feeling strong, good about myself, good about what I know, what I do.

On that day 7 years ago, I could not have told you where my path was heading. I was worried I’d be an administrative assistant/office manager for the rest of my life.

A month ago if you’d asked me, I don’t think I could have put into words what visiting the Facebook campus made me realize.

I seem to have come a lot further than I had noticed. I seem to have learned more than I thought. I seem to have grown more than I would have ever deemed possible.

I’m really glad I didn’t get that job back then.

I’m really glad to be on the path I ended up on.

Facebook schwag

Embrace: My one word for 2014

standard January 2, 2014 6 responses

Every Tuesday morning I hike with a friend at a well known nearby trail. It takes us about an hour to hustle around the 3.3 mile loop. We chat about everything under the sun, exercising our bodies and exorcising our petty annoyances at our worlds. At the end we’re sweaty, happy, and feeling ready to face another week.

During one of these walks my friend mentioned that 2014 was going to be the year she gets fit and thin, and 2015 would be the year when she’d fix whatever hadn’t been “fixed” with the help of some plastic surgery.

Now, I’m not averse to plastic surgery. Heck, my father-in-law is a plastic surgeon and I’ve seen first hand how it can truly be a wonderful thing.

But the whole plan, the two year process, just the mere thought of all that time, all that effort, exhausted me. Not the actual effort, the working out, the eating better, etc, just the sheer amount of time that would have to be spent self-analyzing, self-critiquing…. bah. Exhausting.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my whole life seeking out my flaws, physical and behavioral. I’m over it.

So I told her I was skipping straight to the 2016 portion of the plan. The part where we shrug and say “oh well, what you see is what you get” and get on with the business of living our lives.

I’m not going to stop eating as well as I can, or working out as often as I can. But I’m going to stop berating myself for every little perceived failure.

Because that’s what they are, perceived failures. Who sets that bar we all seem to measure ourselves against? Do we? Does society? And why do we allow ourselves to move that bar whenever we feel like it?

Madness I tell you. Or at least it leads to it. And I’m done with that for now.

2014, your word is Embrace. 

This year I vow to embrace who I am. 
All my flaws.
All my shortcomings.
All my failures.
All my successes.
All my quirks.
My looks.
My sense of humor.
My habits, both good and bad.

And it’s going to extend to beyond my personal sphere.

This year I vow to embrace what happens to me. 
The highs.
The lows.
The in-betweens.
The surprises.
The plans.
The changes in plans.
The challenges along the way.
The setbacks.
The opportunities.

I tell a lot of my friends that life flows along like a river. You can spend a lot of effort and time fighting the current, trying to force your way up stream or even force the river to change direction. Or you can relax and let the river flow, see where it takes you, open yourself to the uncontrolled adventure.

I’m convinced that the destination is the same. The river drops you off where it wants. But if you change the way you approach the journey, you’re the one who’s changed upon arrival.

I’m tired of fighting the river. I want to embrace the journey.

Last year my word was Brave and it served me well as I faced down many a personal demon and triumphed all the way!