I Don’t Have An Anger Problem, Unless You Are Four Years Old

Tonight was one of those nights where I wanted to quit motherhood. Like seriously, quit and walk away. Quit because it is so hard and clearly, whatever I am doing is not working.

I still feel like a broken mother. And earlier, giving up seemed like the better, wiser option because I can’t do this. I am not good at this.

I wanted a permanent timeout. For my kid, yes, but mostly for myself.

Me. Except not as well dressed. And way angrier. [Click photo for credit.]
The breakdown was well-earned. Only five minutes into an evening walk, something that is becoming something of a ritual for us, my oldest decided he wanted to go a different direction than I did. When I explained this was not on the agenda, he escalated into what became the biggest, loudest, nastiest tantrum I have ever seen.

I turned the baby and the stroller around to head home because no child of mine was going to enjoy themselves if they behaved this way. But the walk home only got worse.

I would tell you all the graphic moments and how I was so painfully wronged, but I am learning that my child is not a possession but a separate human so it’s really not fair for me to share his bad behavior with you. At least not all the gory details. Even if he tells you about mine, like he has at church more than once. Sigh. But I digress.

When we got home, he had lost all his privileges for the evening. I managed myself fine while we were out walking. I couldn’t very well freak out in public. But when he kept up his tantrum-ing at home, my cool and collected self straight up evaporated. I lost it: a showdown of who could yell the loudest.

I wanted an ally so I told Josh about how our son had lost his mind and what needed to happen for him to find it. I sort of wanted revenge.

But then, I’d lost my mind too. I had to own that.

My son and I have a lot in common, aside from our strong personalities and our love of adventure and people. We freak out when we feel powerless, when we feel we are fighting a losing battle. We get scared, and we lose our cool. We both do it, and I’ll bet he learned it from me, not his dad.

It makes me sad because I’m afraid if I keep this up, I will lose more than my patient demeanor, the thing that makes me look good in front of other people. If I don’t watch it, I could lose my son too.

I feel powerful in many area of my life. I know how to talk to clients or co-workers, how to get people to share my ideas or jump on board with my plans.

But I never feel so powerless as I do with my children. I think those moments when we reach the end are the tests, and I usually fail them.

Two years ago, I wrote about my anger problem, how I yelled too much. But I don’t have an anger problem. I have a power problem. I don’t feel powerful when my kids act up so I react by acting powerless. I yell or freak out or overreact, letting the moment or their behavior tell me what to do, rather than guiding them forward and upward with my calm presence.

I know better. They don’t. But in the heat, I’m as lost as they are.

So who’s the parent? Sometimes I don’t know.

Don’t worry. I’m not really going to quit. I know that blaming myself for being a “bad mother” is just a pity party, a crappy excuse to stop doing hard things. I can’t quit. I mean, it’s not even legal. But if it was, it’s lame.

I can’t walk away when I’m bad at something, even if it’s one of those annoying (yet hopelessly necessary) virtues like patience or self-control.

Apparently, God thinks I need parenting, need this particular child, for my personal growth. And he needs me.

We need each other. (Sorry, son.)

Before he went to bed tonight, my son and I apologized to each other. We talked about our anger problem and what we can do next time to keep from letting it get there.

Mostly, I need a plan for myself. I am 33. He is 4. One of us can be expected to have another tantrum. The other needs to manage it, be a good example, for crying out loud.

If you’ve got loads of patience and self-control, pray for me. I need what you have. But if you can relate, help me remember – and I’ll remind you too – that we aren’t here to parent our children perfectly. Nor are we here to make perfect humans of them. But we are here to make each other better, with each interaction, to bring the other closer to God.

Our children can do it for us. Let’s try to do that for them too. You with me?

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The Worst Thing That Can Happen When You’re Naked

[Hello there. If you’re visiting from Start Marriage Right, welcome. Great to have you, and I’d love to have you back. Click here to become a subscriber to the blog, and as a thank you, I will send over my free inspirational eBook, My Birthright For Soup.]

I awoke on a Saturday morning in March 2008, alone in my bed, my wedding only weeks away. My waking mind soon scurried with wedding plans until it drifted to a familiar longing, my desire to marry my best friend, to wake up next to him, to never again say goodnight and part ways.

But this morning, the room hushed quiet around me as a different anticipation snagged my attention. “There is no one here but me,” I noticed, suddenly thankful. “Appreciate your last few days alone in bed. It won’t be long before a man lies next to you, breathing heavily, nuzzling closer, wanting only one thing.”

My fiancé and I had that chemistry young couples possess, the barely-keep-your-hands-off-each-other kind. And yet I’d read what was about to happen to me. I was about to be married, and no matter how much I wanted sex with my fiancé now, married girls don’t want sex. They fake headaches instead.

There was nothing in our relationship that indicated my pulsing hormones might turn off. Nevertheless, every book I read, religious or not, plainly informed me of the dynamics of men, women and sex. Men are visually stimulated, I learned. I wouldn’t even be able to dress myself in the morning without him wanting sex. Good grief. How was I going to get anything done?

The books also told me husbands can convince their wives to have sex if the husband washes the dishes first. I didn’t much care about dishes, but I assumed marriage would change me.

A few weeks later, we got married. That’s when I turned into a man. Well, not exactly.

I kept all my girl parts, but I learned an unthinkable lesson: men weren’t the only ones who liked sex. I did too. Me and all the men.

Although our early sex life was fraught with problems, including discomfort for me, which slowed the process way down, I didn’t mind much. It frustrated my new husband, but despite the pain, I found myself wanting to be intimate as often as possible.

Neither of us suffered from self-esteem issues, but when I suggested sex and he said, “No,” I experienced feelings I never imagined I would in marriage: Trapped. Cast aside. Wounded.

That’s when I learned the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re naked is getting rejected.

[Click for photo credit]
[Click for photo credit]
Offering sex to our partners is not only a nakedness of the body but also a nakedness of the soul. It’s an expression of desire for your husband or wife, a request to be wanted, coupled with a deep need to have that desire returned.

When my husband rejected my offers for sex, I felt helpless and ashamed. I was angry with him. I was angry with myself. First, I decided something must be wrong with him. He was a man who didn’t like sex (as much as me). But then, I was a woman who did like sex. Maybe I’d absorbed too much testosterone from something I ate. Something must be wrong with me.

The rejection wounded and infuriated me, and I learned the meaning of Shakespeare’s famous prose: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But just beneath the anger, I felt small, powerless and trapped. I knew I wasn’t going to get sex from anyone beside my husband. I would have to accept the fate that for the rest of my marriage, I may want my husband more than he wants me. The fact that all the books told me it would be the other way around left me feeling more alone than ever.

Until I discovered something, an entire subculture of women who liked sex and found themselves shocked and dismayed in their relationships by their partners who were not that into it.

This realization didn’t solve my problem, but at least I didn’t feel alone. Crying and talking with God and my friends helped me immensely. But it would be months, even years before my husband and I reach a place of similar sexual interest.

What brought us together wasn’t my ability to convince him of my sexiness. Instead, I learned to ask more questions and serve my husband, rather than wanting sex on my terms. I discovered fears and hang-ups I’d collected related to sex, and God helped me replace them. I read Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book, Real Marriage, just the sex part, of course, and felt liberated to experiment.

I learned to initiate sex with the understanding he might say, “No,” and that was his right. If I wanted to accept him, I needed to accept his “No” as well. And timidly I adopted an approach of excruciating honesty, telling him how it felt to be rejected and what I needed from him.

Slowly, awkwardly, we met in the middle. As I more gracefully accepted “No” and learned to serve, he found himself desiring sex more.

Talking about sex is scary and vulnerable, but so is the act of sex. Our sex lives will never be deep and fulfilling if we are afraid of the conversations.

So whether you are the sexual initiator in your relationship, or the one with the lower sex drive, be open to discussing how you could improve your sex life. Talk with your partner about what you need, then do more listening. Don’t judge each other. Keep an open mind. Honor each other’s boundaries and fantasies, as long as they strengthen your marriage relationship. And seek counsel if you discover something may truly be amiss with your sex life.

Sure, you only spend a fraction of your life in the act of sex, but nevertheless, it is an important indicator of relationship health. Not only that: it’s free fun that provides you with a great way to bond and deepen your married love. So go ahead: talk about and prioritize sex. I promise you won’t regret it.

 

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God Is Where You Left Him

I hate to admit it, but I read almost no fiction. I am so imbalanced. I read mostly Christian self-help books. I think they’re called Christian Inspirational, maybe. But really, they’re the type of books you read when you want to avoid reading the Bible but still feel like you did something spiritual.

You know the kind. Yea, I’m always reading those. I read them because sometimes I want to reconnect with God, but not right now. I want to read about God, not actually talk to him.

I’m reading one of these books right now, Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg, and I’m growing downright uncomfortable because the book is calling me and my bad habits right out.

The thing is, I want to read about and talk about God instead of talking to him because it’s easier. But it’s a sure sign of disconnection, evidence of a person who used to be friends with God, but now can only tell stories from the past.

Being a friend of God changed after I got married six years ago. Since then, it’s like I forgot how to stay in touch, forgot about all the places I knew I could find him. It was easier when I was single. I woke up in the morning, propped up my pillow in my bed and there it was: Quiet Time.

Apparently they found a photo of me from pre-husband days, diligently practicing my quiet time. Look how good my hair looks when I wake up. [click photo for credit]
In the circles I ran in, Quiet Time was one specific thing: you and God, assuming he showed up, with an open Bible and a journal so you could write down prayers and profound mysteries revealed to you during your 60-120 minute God-meeting. It earned the name Quiet Time because, I think, I was supposed to be quiet so God could talk. That may not have happened as much in my God times, but I assume he knew what he was getting into when he showed up. He did make me, after all.

Anyway, my very narrow definition of this quality time with God proved detrimental when my marital status changed. I was alone a lot less, and definitely not in my bed. So my old habits were right out. The dialogue between God and I grew few and far between, mostly in regards to major life decisions or praying for other people. God and I became the friends who used to be friends. Eventually it feels kind of awkward trying to reconnect.

In Soul Keeping, John Ortberg reminded me that care of the soul is my job only. And what becomes of my soul is really my greatest investment in my life. My soul will either be sturdy, flourishing and strong, generous and intimately acquainted with heaven, or it will be shriveled and bony, obsessed with scarcity and hanging on for dear life.

I want a strong soul, but I wasn’t doing the things strong-souled people do. I’ve been reading about God long enough, I figured. So I went to go find him.

I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t want to walk the overgrown path to find a God with his arms crossed sitting next to my dying, skeleton soul. The reunion didn’t feel too inviting.

It always feels like the walk back to God will take forever, but then I start the journey and it’s like I’m there in seconds. Because God is always where I left him.

I used to meet with God near oceans and lakes, on long drives or trail runs, in new cities, or layovers in airports. I found him when I was writing and when I got quiet and listened. Pretty much anywhere.

lake

So I went to a lake and tried to get quiet. I thought maybe God wouldn’t come, but I always think that. I think he came anyway. Nothing neon or fancy, but we both showed up. And he reminded me he still goes to all the places where we used to hang out. God seems to think I’ve been making it too complicated, and I have. He’s right.

So I made this list of all the places we used to go. Because he is still there. Right where I left him.

journal

Do you need to reconnect with God? Think of the last place, or places, you know you found him and go back there. I bet he will be there. And not only that, you’ll probably find the road back isn’t so long after all.

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Love That Doesn’t Need You To Say It Back

[Today, I’m honored to be a guest at the home of the brave and spunky Leanne Penny. I joined up with her Love Showed Up series with a tale very close to my heart: the story of my husband and I. I love to tell this story because it sounds new and different every time. If you’re visiting, from Leanne’s, welcome. It’s great to meet you. If you like what you see, subscribe to the blog right here, and I will send you my inspirational eBook, My Birthright For Soup. It’s that easy. And without further ado, here’s our story.]

“I think we’re going to break up,” I announced to my new boyfriend after everyone else left the church that night. “I break up with all my boyfriends.”

We’d only been dating two days, yet my previous relationships told me everything I needed to know about this one. Relationships with me end badly. I figured it was only fair to let this new guy in on my secret.

Ironically, I started this relationship believing it would end. But on the other side of my inner cynic was a hopeless romantic, one who hoped someday a man and I could love each other with a true and lasting affection. I’d just never seen it done. Not in my life anyway.

I don’t remember how he responded to my anxious forecast, but I have no doubt he calmed the storm with his trademark patience I would come to expect over the years. I do remember we left in the same car that night. And the next day, we were still together.

After barely a month of dating, or in my world, after 30 days of not breaking up, we curled up beside each other on a crusty, aged couch along his living room window. It was already dark, but we wouldn’t say goodbye for hours. I never wanted to leave him, even though he terrified me. No matter how dim my pessimistic predictions, I couldn’t make him go away.

As we lay there talking, he whispered the three scariest words, words I knew meant we were over. “I love you,” he said, his voice tender and sincere. But they sounded like the end to me.

I couldn’t say it back. I didn’t know how I felt. My mind flooded with all the fearful thoughts. It was too soon for the L word. Why was he being so pushy? Doesn’t he know you’re supposed to wait on those words, like a year or something? The men who said “I love you” before wanted me to say it back. And then we broke up. The L word is a break-up precursor. Doesn’t he know the rules? Now we’re doomed.

As the anxiety whirlwind spun a dervish in my mind, I sealed the words inside my mouth. Eventually I mustered, “I can’t say it back yet.” I braced myself for the awkward guilt I knew would follow my confession.

Will he reject her and break her heart? Find out as the story continues at Leanne’s.

This photo may or may not be a spoiler alert. [Click for photo credit]
This photo may or may not be a spoiler alert. [Click for photo credit]
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When People Become A Means To An End: A Confession

Most of the time, the world feels like a hot mess. There is so much work to be done, so many lives to patch together, marriages to save, mouths to feed, books to write, organizations to start, and concepts to communicate.

And yet, while there is so much work be done for people, it seems people are the very thing keeping me from accomplishing my work.

Someone isn’t completing a task on deadline while someone else is ignoring my phone calls. Someone won’t respond to my emails while someone else thinks my genius business plans needs revision. My children leave the house a wreck and my husband needs the night off. I need a friend to vent to, but she needs to vent to me.

And so it goes. The work I need to get done for people is constantly being hampered by people.

And all the people I need to help are totally cramping my style. [click for photo credit]
Ever feel this way? Well, I have.

It’s time for a nasty confession. Ugh. I hate this about myself. I’ve told you several times about my dream to be a full-time writer and communicator so I can do what I love and be home with my family more. I told you about how I’m writing a book called Dream or Die, with the goal of helping people discover their calling and recover their dreams. I invited you to subscribe to the blog to follow along in the dream process, and I even wrote an inspirational eBook to give subscribers as a thank you.

I’ve been working hard, wanting to inspire you with my words and my labor and the stories of trying. But in all my efforts to support myself and my family financially through the books and my writing here, I forgot about who mattered most: you.

I forgot that I am here to breathe life to you, to lift you from discouragement and help you dust off your dream, to stand by you as you trade in despair for hope. To inspire you with the courage to live your days with purpose, free from regret.

The painful irony is, in my hopes of inspiring you to learn your calling, I forgot my own. I started obsessing about how I would make this all work, terrified I might never be financially independent enough to pursue my true passion and watch my kids grow up as a mom who is home far more than I am now.

I started making people a means to an end, not an end in themselves. I started trying to figure out what people needed and wanted, not to serve them, but so they could serve me.

Gross, huh?

I’m really sorry I did it, that I forgot why I am here, that it’s about giving you something of value and serving you. Just the discovery of this itself hurt enough, although God’s reminder was gentle.

So here’s the lesson I’m learning: People are never a means to an end. People are the end. Relationships are the end. Good behavior and acting right don’t matter one bit outside of the context of relationships.

I will definitely be talking about this more since I can’t stop thinking about it, but we were born into relationships, and relationships are what all the work is for. Work is not the goal. The work is the means through which relationships are founded and cultivated. We can do nothing of value alone. We are made for each other, and we are intended for a life with each other.

So here I am again to say I am here to serve you. I want to see you flourish in your God-designed calling, to see you love your life as you uncover dreams long forgotten. Nothing would make me happier. I’m still working hard on this for you, but with a new end in mind.

If you want to troubleshoot dreams and calling, I want to talk. Shoot me a message here. Your question may inspire a blog post, or maybe I can direct you toward an answer you probably already know.

I hope you can forgive me for my selfishness and ineptitude, but know that I am still on the journey with you. And for you.

Here’s to deep relationships here and in your life. And here’s to never forgetting that’s all that matters.

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3 Reasons We Usually Quit Too Soon

When I was five, I’d already determined my destiny. I was going to be a ballerina. Not just any ballerina though. The “prima ballerina”, as in the best, the one everyone talked about because she was so elegant, graceful and talented.

I knew everything about ballet from reading books and watching movies. I talked my grandma into buying me a pink tutu and dance slippers. My mom signed me up for ballet class, but to my chagrin, they wouldn’t let me wear my tutu so my undies peered out the bottom of my navy blue leotard.

Oops. Rookie move.

I was not discouraged though. The tutu covered the undies nicely, and that was the whole point of being a dancer anyway. A flouncy, pink tutu and miraculous, swirling movements, which I regularly performed for my family in the living room, and whenever I could get an audience with my dad’s video camera.

When I arrived in class, it turned out most of the girls in my ballet class were merely beginners, unlike me. Our teacher wanted to teach us the basics of ballet, the five positions for our feet, and how to stand like a proper dancer.

This sort of slow motion nonsense was for the birds. I wanted to do all the French verbs that demonstrated my true level of skill: the plié, the pirouette and the grand jeté. Duh.

I probably looked like this… [click for credit]
…but I fancied myself this. [click for credit]

By the time I was seven, I quit ballet class. I’d already learned everything I could from that lady who apparently thought she was teaching a novice. I could wear my tutu and leotard and dance real ballet at home so why waste my time?

Unfortunately, I regularly adopted this approach to learning new sports or tackling new projects throughout my life. I discovered the end result I envisioned would take far more time than I anticipated, and I didn’t easily make peace with my apparent lack of competence. It was easier to pretend I was gifted in the privacy of my own home than labor for hours under the supervision of an expert who could help me achieve my goal.

I quit for the same reasons most of us quit.

1. I learned of the true work involved in my dream, and I didn’t want to do it. Most of us discover a dream or goal we thought we wanted to achieve will require much more of us than we envisioned. Just the thought of the hours we will have to spend wearies even the most devoted among us. If we haven’t truly bought into the dream, the time we will need to commit to it will deter us from accomplishing it.

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. -Earl Nightingale

2. I felt under-recognized for the talented I already displayed. I didn’t understand why my dance teacher didn’t recognize my obvious gifts and move me to the advanced dance class where they practiced all the real ballet. (The teacher did tell my mom I had talent, but I figured that meant automatic dance class upgrade – it didn’t.) I didn’t realize that a foundation of knowledge is required in any goal or habit. You have to do the hard work to learn basics first, and then you build the beautiful things on top of it.

3. The first stage to learning is “conscious incompetence“, and I hate to feel dumb. I have quit more things than I want to admit due to simply feeling incompetent. But this stage is a necessary and inevitable stage of learning. Did you always know how to use the toilet, ride a bike or tie your shoes? Of course not. When we were children, we patiently learned these skills, yet as adults, we shy away from the fact that learning is lifelong and the stage of feeling a little stupid is simply a landmark on the way to expertise. You can embrace the incompetence when you know it’s temporary.

Learning will rarely be fun unless we approach it with humility and patience with ourselves, along with an imaginative and curious mind. Once we choose these attributes, we are unstoppable.

Have you been a quitter before? Did you quit for these reasons or other ones entirely? Share in the comments below. 

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It’s Always Easier to Be a Faker

I remember where I was when I first realized I was a faker.

I was 19, maybe 20, driving to church for my weekly stint in youth ministry, worship music playing through my radio, and just then, I realized I’d mastered the art of acting Christian.

The formula was simple: Pray certain words during group meetings, quote Bible verses when you want to “encourage” people, and offer just enough self-revelation to display an appropriate awareness of sin while demonstrating your pursuit of holiness.

It felt empty, but it gave me the sense that if I didn’t want to actually arrive, I could at least sound like I had.

It’s so easy to pretend. It’s so much harder to be.

Pretty much sums it up. [click photo for credit]

Despite the fact that I am over a decade older, I find the problem is still the same. To appear to be or to be. That is our daily question. Whether or not we will do the hard, unseen work of becoming who we aspire to be, or if we will simply dress the part.

For most of us, it is easier to talk about ourselves as if we are who we want to become. And there is certainly truth in our aspirations, the fact that we are actually who we want to be to some degree. However, there is a great temptation to stop waiting for the hard work to shape and perfect a reality in us, settling instead for a facade of who we could truly be.

In the age of social media profiles where we can claim anything we want about ourselves, it’s easy to pretend we’ve arrived. Most of us would rather tell people we are educated, spiritual, funny or attractive rather than prove it by our actions.

One of my greatest pet peeves is when people tell me things about themselves, things I should be able to tell by their actions and character.

Please don’t tell me you are loving, passionate, funny or smart. That doesn’t tell me that you are – it tells me that you want to be, but you don’t believe it yet.

And as I much as I hate this when I see it in others, I hate it most in myself, my own tendency to be a faker. To leap ahead toward appearing to be rather than laboring to become.

Jesus used these terms all the time when he talked about how we enter the kingdom of heaven and grow in our relationship with him. “You must become like a little child”, he said. Or when talking about the Pharisees and others who looked good but never got in on the real Jesus, he said he would only have this to say to them when he returns: “Depart from me; I never knew you.” Not the kind of cerebral, knowing-about something, but the kind of knowledge a husband and wife have. The kind it takes years to develop.

There are no shortcuts in life or in the Kingdom, and we should not be so easily impressed with our own bold claims or the claims of others. The proof of our dedication and who we are cannot be found in our bold claims, aspirations and journal entries but will inevitably resound in how we spend our minutes and hours, the goals and relationships that we truly cultivate.

Where do you struggle most with faking it? Share in the Comments below.

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You Don’t Need A New Year To Start Over

You waited, didn’t you? You’ve been waiting to start your new ideas and goals until tomorrow.

The procrastinators among us love to say, “I’ll start over when there is a new day, a new week, or especially, a new year.” 

We say we’re going to wait until the clock starts over, and until then, we’re going to live our old indecent and undesirable ways. It’s like our own personal Mardi Gras every day, sowing our wild oats one last day or week until we have to make better decisions.

But isn’t that a terrible way to live? 

I am so thankful for new days, new weeks, new months and New Years. I believe that starting over mentally and chronologically hits a true reset button. In fact, even sleeping can reset us in measurable ways.

[click photo for credit]
However, believing that we need to wait for a new year or new month to start something new is a huge waste of time. Isn’t it arbitrary anyway?

Each of us has a lot more to offer the world then living mediocre versions of ourselves until some cosmic starting over. We don’t need a new year to start over. We can start over tomorrow, but it would be even better if we started over today. 

So what if you realize you want to make a change on a Wednesday in April – make the change. Starting over can happen any time of day, morning, noon or night. The time doesn’t matter – commitment to the change does.

Don’t buy the hype that you need an federally recognized holiday to start over. This thinking will cause unnecessary anxiety as you remain in a place of mediocrity you’ve already outgrown. It’s like trying to cram yourself back into pants that fit you in high school. The old behaviors and ways of thinking don’t fit anymore, but you’re still trying to live in them. It’s uncomfortable and ingenuine, isn’t it?

Want to make change that lasts? Here’s a quick guide. Decide what you want to change, create a plan, set up accountablity, then follow through. You don’t need a new year or a new day for that.

Here’s to big changes we keep, and here’s to new, even though we don’t really need it.

What have you been procrastinating on?

Anger Is Fun, Or Why All Those Outraged People Annoy You

[click for photo credit]

In college I was Queen of the Boycott. As a Social Work major, it was my job to know about all the evil going on. Boycotting businesses, corporations or people was the only sane response to ALL THIS DESPICABLE INJUSTICE OUT HERE!!!!!!

Because if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Right?

One year while I was a student, I boycotted Target for blocking Salvation Army from ringing bells outside their doors. I boycotted Wal-Mart for something related to them being a huge corporation (can’t remember now). And I boycotted the Dillard’s department store for rumors of racial profiling.

It became very difficult to shop.

Sometime later I boycotted Starbucks for their support of Planned Parenthood. (I know PP provides essential healthcare for women, but their profits come at a price, which was my concern – they are known for skirting the law by not reporting rape, abuse or human trafficking violations. Don’t believe me? Check out these videos here.)

Last year, I found out that many large chocolate vendors purchase their cacao beans from companies who essentially force children to harvest the beans. It’s more or less slave labor.

So I boycotted all chocolate, unless it was made via Fair Trade.

I told my friends at work and posted about it on the blog. I wanted people to be angry with me. Children were being forced to harvest our chocolate. This was appalling and disgusting to me.

But no one jumped on my Boycott Bandwagon. No one. Except my husband, reluctantly, but probably only while I was around.

I couldn’t understand why no one else was OUTRAGED. Except that they loved their convenience and coffee and chocolate too much to care about people who had no voice.

A few weeks into my chocolate boycott, Greg Gutfeld released his book, The Joy of Hate. The Twitter conversations around the book were the beginning of the end of the Queen of the Boycott.

With my head tucked near the tail between my legs, I heard the shrill sound of my tiny, angry voice, raging against the corporate machines. Alone.

And I finally admitted to myself that I loved the anger more than the people or the cause. I just wanted to be mad. To be in the center of the commotion. To be the one who knows what is going on around here.

Yup, that’s what my anger was about. And that’s why all the super right and super left people on your newsfeeds and at your dinner parties drive you crazy. They aren’t truly angry about injustice. I mean, maybe a little.

But they love to be angry.

Anger is a power emotion. Anger makes us feel as if we know something important, and we are doing something about it.

But we are kidding ourselves. No one is innocent of atrocity out here. We are all guilty.

After some investigation, I learned that Starbucks’ support of Planned Parenthood was through a matching fund offered to their employees. Their staff have hundreds of charities with whom they can partner, and Starbucks will also contribute to the charity of their choice.

Also, many other companies that make our food and computers and make our lives go all support Planned Parenthood. My own employer, the US government, offers the same matching program for charities, and Planned Parenthood is on their list.

So should I boycott my own employer? How would I even do that?

Anger is easy, but it quickly becomes a game of blame-shifting and faux activism. So here are three things I learned from being a Fake Angry Person:

  1. I am just as guilty as everyone else at perpetuating injustice. I work for an organization that partners with a business I don’t believe in. If they are guilty, I am guilty.
  2. People who do things I disagree with also serve and support organizations I believe in. Many charities I would personally back are funded in part by Starbucks or the government or other corporations. We are capable of great good and great evil all the time.
  3. Anger and outrage are not the means through which social change happens. Action is. It takes peaceable, level-headed, strategies, fueled by an awareness of injustice without a raging, fist-swinging preoccupation with it.
  4. This was a painful lesson. Mostly because I don’t like to be wrong. Without all the answers, I am presenting to you what not to do. I am still learning how to be mad, because sometimes that is the appropriate response. But for the love, let’s not stop there. Let’s really do something about it.

    Now be honest: what is your pet cause or your favorite thing to be angry about?

I Know Why The Proverbs 31 Woman Is Laughing

This is me. Tomorrow. [Click for credit.]

I know as an empowered women of the new millennium, I am secretly supposed to be annoyed with the Proverbs 31 woman, the uber-successful, have-it-all-in-perfect-balance icon we can never possibly emulate in real life. She was the quintessential female, the Giselle Bundchen of 4000 years ago. (Thanks a lot, King Lemuel, whoever you are.)

But every time I read this chapter, I just can’t hate her. I mean, she has all this energy and is always showering people with love. She owns at least one thriving business, and she has maids, for crying out loud. What’s not to love?

Madam Proverbs 31 and I actually have a lot in common, which is oh-so comforting. She has outside-the-home employment, lots of people to care for, in addition to her children, a husband with a prominent role and she stays up til the wee hours of the morning to get it all done.

I may not alway be “clothed with strength and dignity”, but I am usually clothed, which is a strong start to any day (for me), and I can relate to her workload.

I’ll admit I’ve struggled with the “laughing at the future” part though, which she apparently has down. This is the verse that always kinda made her feel fake. Until tonight.

Tonight I realized Madam P31 has toddlers. This is her secret. This is how she can laugh at the future.  

Why would a mother of toddlers laugh at the future? It’s because some days, like today, we cannot laugh about this day. Or this week. Or maybe this year. The present is not funny at all. The present is mean and exhausting. The present is gray hair-sprouting and milk spill-cleaning and high-pitched whine-tolerating.

Oh, but the future. This future is grand. The future is much cleaner and neater, with all my home decor and table centerpieces exactly where I left them.

Yes, me and the Proverbs 31 woman and all the Toddler Mamas know some day, these children will (finally) know how to use the toilet without help, make themselves a meal without the requisite wreckage ensuing, and wash their own laundry.

And someday, they will have children of their own. Children who have no control of their bladders and no respect for ungodly hours of the night.

Are you laughing yet, Oh Mothers of Toddlers? This is not a laughter of revenge, but a laughter of relief. So if you’re cackling, cut that out. You probably need some sleep. Oh, don’t we all?

So you see, we can finally rest assured that the Proverbs 31 Woman is not as unattainable a persona as we thought. So start laughing now because these days are short. And even if we can’t always enjoy them, we know we will enjoy the future.

Come on, let’s have it: What kind of future are you laughing about? No more diapers? Sleeping for more than 3 consecutive hours? Communicating with words instead of whines? Share in the Comments below. 

{Laugh, live and dream big with me. Click here to subscribe to the blog for free updates and a first copy of my book, Dream or Die, at its release early next year. And stay connected on Facebook or Twitter.}