Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Future Was Wide Open

Into the great wide open, under them skies of blue.

Tom Petty is a great storyteller who happens to write incredible music to go with it. Monica introduced to me to Tom when we met, and we've been companions ever since. Maybe I used Monica to get closer to TP ...I'll never tell.

I would like my life to make a great Tom Petty song.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Failure equals neglecting what we want most for what we want right now." Hal Runkel

This morning Ben called me on my way to work to ask if I had left him the checkbook & the keys to the filing cabinet. I hadn't because these are two things that I never use, yet for some reason we keep them in my purse. He needed both of these items for supervision & for the private clients he's seeing today, so he had to drive 32 miles round trip to my office to get them. At least it's Friday...

Keep Going Strong
We were discussing last night about how easy it would be for us to fall into the busyness of life & not follow through with all of our BIG plans. The above picture was taken right before we walked out the door a few weeks ago on our impromptu road trip to Taco Bueno & listened to the life-changing audio book that inspired us to change our story.

One of our goals is to make our office/junk room into a livable space. This past week Ben has been working hard to declutter & organize this room & I have been doing small projects that he gives me, but mostly observing. We hope to get a dry erase board that covers most of one wall so that we can brainstorm & write our goals down (my dad & Zig Ziglar would be proud).

My Office Quote of the Week
"I hung out with some people from high school & all of them had degrees from like 4-year colleges & whatnot."

Just to clarify, these quotes come directly from my office, not The Office TV show as some have misunderstood. My work environment is a mix of engineers & machinists (good ole' boys) & so I overhear a lot of interesting water cooler conversations.

The Grinch
is what I've referred to Ben as in previous years when he hasn't allowed us to put up our Christmas tree OR watch Elf until after Turkey Day. For some reason, this year he's cool with it because I asked nicely, so this weekend our house will become a Winter Wonderland & I'm super giddy! I've decided to purge our x-mas decorations that I don't absolutely love instead of displaying them out of guilt.

On The Road Again...
This weekend we're celebrating Ben's bday with a few close friends & we're having an ice cream sundae party at our casa (per Ben's request). Next week is a 2 1/2 day work week for me & then we're off to the family triangle trip of OK & MO! I'm assuming that I will be able to squeeze a blog in next Friday in between Black Friday shopping & football (yawn). I'm excited to see what movies come out this holiday season too! Well, that's it for me. Here's hoping that this Friday flies by & that everyone has a fantastic, no family drama Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Thrive Tips

I often see things around this time of year called "Holiday Survival Guides." It might also come in the form of survival tips... Either way, holy-days can become unholy quickly when it is about survival.

I AM TIRED of trying to survive holidays. So, I am giving you a thrive tips rather than a survival tips.

Un-role Yourself Often. When I go home, I feel an urge to become the immature little brother again and I hate it. It always leads me to say something at the dinner table to shock everyone. This year, I am going home as a confident, driven, adult man who can be himself. When regression kicks in, I have to remind myself that I am not the baby of the family anymore. When you feel you've been sucked into whatever role is not you, allow yourself to step back, breath and be who you really are. I may be the youngest brother, but that doesn't make me the little brother.

Change the triangles. Triangles are for orchestras, but even orchestra triangles are not really triangles because one corner is missing for the sound to come out right. We often go home and find ourselves in a triangle with two other people--maybe parents, siblings, cousins, friends, restaurant staff, etc. It is not necessary to tip more because someone at your table is rude to the waiter. Also, your parent's problems are your parent's problems. Thrivers let conflict be where it needs to be. "Sounds like that's between you and _______," can be a good way out. Thrivers may also say, "It doesn't feel healthy for me to be in the middle of this, so I need to excuse myself from this conflict." Then you can think "Ding," because you let the triangle vibrate the way it needed to.

Fresh air is your friend. Thrivers make personal space because they know being cooped up with the people they spent at least 18 years getting away from can be suffocating. We live at least 5 hours from our closest set of parents and we do great away from them. If we do not take breaks while we're home, we leave wanting to live even farther away. If we go to a movie or to coffee by ourselves, we re-energize and then are able to enjoy the precious time we have with our family.

A Word on Love. When I say I love my wife, I am saying I want what is best for her. My responsibility as one who loves her is to do what is best for her. If I am not taking care of myself, which is one of the best things I can do for her, am I really loving her? Same with family. We all say we love our families, and then forget to take care of ourselves. What is best for my family is for me to not be grouchy, resentful, distant, and/or in some role I resent. In my love for them, I take care of myself the best I can, even when they don't understand why I must take a walk or eat a meal with just my wife. Then I can thrive, rather than survive.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Unsolicited advice is really criticism.

Wow, what a whirlwind of a week! It started off by Ben falling off a ladder on Sun, then he accepted a FT job offer on Mon, we were out almost every night doing fun things & we've been dog sitting a Labradoodle for our friends all week. Cali was glad to have a friend to play with, but I also think she's happy to be an only pup again.

What does WCW stand for you might ask? We have been celebrating Waffle Cone Wednesday at TCBY with our friends Preston & Alana for several months now & have loved every moment! Waffle cones of any size are like 50 cents cheaper than usual & Ben loves TCBY so much he wants to marry it because it's a healthier choice than regular ice cream. 

Things I Learned About Ben This Week
- He thinks it's weird when people wash their dishes with hand soap instead of dish soap.
- "I actually like girls in boots." BT
- Kicking or throwing his shoes that he leaves in our bedroom right after I've cleaned the house does NOT make him want to put them away next time.

A Way to a Girl's Heart...
is through her stomach, or so it was for me yesterday. I go to the same Quiznos for lunch at least once a week & order the exact same thing because I am a creature of habit & find comfort in finding something that I like & sticking to it. I walked into the store & the lady asked, "small turkey?" as usual except after I confirmed she pointed to the toaster oven because when she saw my car pull up she went ahead & made my sandwich to my exact specifications! My first thought was, "Am I really that predictable?" & my second thought was, "This is the best customer service I've ever had!" Hats off to you Quiznos!

Since Ben is Mr. Moneybags now with his fancy new job, we are financially able for me to pursue my dream of becoming a Professional Home Stager. I plan on going to Atlanta in Dec for a 3-day training session & hope to be up & running with lots of experience by spring. We have also been taking baby steps to having a ScreamFree marriage & hope to be ScreamFree parents someday, so that's been both frustrating & fun. Have I mentioned that I love dreaming with Ben & taking action to make the characters in our story who we want them to be (read Ben's insightful blog post below for more details)? Have a great weekend & go get some Tim Tams from Target!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Life Story, pg. 1

There are times in life when intersections occur. Times when several things from different spheres of life seem to point to the same thing. Then, there are times like I am experiencing, and everything points to the same thing. In the last couple weeks, I’ve learned to pay attention and let whatever needs to unfold like watching a dream and knowing it will make sense in the morning. My insides want to use every defense mechanism against allowing change to recreate me, including the harder than usual eye blinks to test reality.

At last, a combination of reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, attending a Screamfree Parenting training, getting a new job, and dogsitting, all pointed me to something changing life as I know it. It is the concept of story, of living a better story, of being a bigger story than I am. I had the realization I was living a crummy story, where the most significant thing happening was earning stars on DJ Hero. When a video game became my means of asserting my power and mastery in the world, I knew the story had to change or nobody would read it, but boy could I mix it up on the pretend vinyl with a fade switch.

Why am I living a life I don’t want? Why I am living a story where the most intense conflict is whether or not my truck passes inspection? Why do I eat some new form of grease-soaked substance every day when I value my appearance? Why am I working three jobs that don’t even add up to a fifth of what I should be making? Why do I keep looking to other people to give me some magical bean to plant and then climb the vine into the clouds to find a better story full of alliterating giants and farm animals that birth gold?

Everything began pointing to story. Like Donald Miller, I found myself living a boring story. I am now in a process of creating a new story—one with conflict and triumph, power and mastery, one where the hero is not trying to manipulate 1s and 0s to get a higher score. Life looks different now. I can speak to it, tell it I love it, and tell it that it sucks. I hear a born and bred impulse telling me to cool it, take it easy. As I told a friend yesterday, the old me has a thought, “I guess you’ll just have to hit TOP before you come back to reality. Don’t get too excited.” In the new script, I have a level 3 curse word for that thought that would leave my mom giving her unapproving head shake I used to depend on as a morality gauge.

The biggest lie we face is that we can’t change our stories right now. I believed this and waited and waited and waited. Fortunately, a little thought occurred and shot across synapses in my brain and then the connections began to form, “What about a new story? One where you overcome conflict to get what you want. One where you are free of a life of labels you didn’t choose but accepted. One where you knee dogs in the chest so they stop jumping on you and start respecting you.”

I actually ordered oatmeal this morning rather than greasy eggs and freedom toast because the protagonist in my story has choices. For some reason, my character also drives a car that is clean on the interior. My character sweats the small stuff for a bigger purpose. My character makes decisions with purpose. My character has a wife that is turned on by purpose. My character writes blogs at the risk of sounding like the next guy who just lost it. My story is changing…

Monday, November 9, 2009

You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.

SNAP, KICK, BREAK, BOOM, OWW. I followed this with a level 2 curse word.

"I just had a fall..." I said to Monica in the middle of her nap.

"I fell off the ladder. Well, I fell with the ladder."

"Did you lose consciousness?"

"I don't think so, but I hit my head and I don't know if I hit it on the ladder or the wall, and I wound up sitting between the rungs of the ladder behind our house. It's funny, my first concern was that I scratched my glasses. And then my head hurt and I was hoping it wasn't bleeding."

This was my first significant ladder accident. I trusted an old wooden ladder that has been sitting in water and mud for two months, so this one's on me. What you can't see is the 5 other places I am banged up, including a substantial scrape behind my leg that stung like a continual bee sting when I got in the shower. I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of this encounter and how I wound up completely turned around sitting between two rungs of a ladder with two dogs staring at me.

P.S. This is NOT our exciting news.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Life is either a great adventure or nothing.

Whew - so much to blog about much happened this week that it's going to be tough to condense! I will attempt to tell the "Ben version" rather than the overly detailed "Monica version".

The Hosts with the Most
Last weekend we threw the party of all parties, the bash of all bashes - it was fun, you get the point! We had many obstacles in our way including throwing together perfect costumes which entailed trips to multiple Wal-Marts & party stores the day before & of Halloween, Ben attempting a last-minute home repair on our bathroom sink & last but not least, 2 words: DJ Hero.

I was worried all week about what activities we were actually going to DO at the party just to have Ben throw together a scary movie trivia, Frankenface game & a candy guessing game at the last minute & they were a big hit! The prizes were $6.66 Starbucks gift cards (also Ben's genius idea). Ben was a Wii remote & I was a gothic princess in case you were wondering. Cali did not get a costume this year & was banished to the back bedroom during the party, so she pretty much hates Halloween forever now.

My Office Quote of the Week
I didn't hear any zingers this week, however I was referred to as "document control" which I found humorous & a very "Office Space" term.

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
On Sunday Ben told me that Don Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) had written a new book & was coming to Memphis this week to speak on his book tour. I decided to download the audio book & listen to all 5 hrs. of it at work on Monday on my iPhone. I was blown away by how powerful it was! I told Ben that we should drive to Nashville that night & eat at Maggiano's so that he could listen to it too. Plan B was to drive to Taco Bueno in Little Rock & so we jumped in the car & did it!

We tend to make lots of big life decisions while driving around & this was no exception. We were tired after getting home around 1AM, but I love that we are both still willing & excited to do things like this ...we'll sleep when we're dead.

Buddy the Elf! What's your favorite color?
Only 48 days until Christmas - seriously people! I somehow dragged Ben into Pier One yesterday just to gaze & giggle upon the x-mas decorations - love that store! I'm not trying to rush x-mas though because I'm lovin' this crisp fall 50º in the morning/70º in the afternoon weather!

Stay tuned for some exciting news (no, we are not preggers) - I will let Ben share it with you in one of his tween blogs. In the words of Bob Dylan, "the times they are a-changin" for the Benicas!