Moxie’s Resolutions for Everyone Else: 2016 Edition

Regular readers of GWM will be familiar with this tradition: I share 10 resolutions for people, organizations, etc. other than myself. This year, I’ve incorporated some video clips to better illustrate my resolutions.

1. Stop abbreviating words just to be clever (Millennials). I’m blaming them, but it may not be completely their fault that the media is now saturated with obvi, totes, ack…you get the idea. Do you have a problem with letters? No? Then spell the whole damn word!

2. Make adult bibs socially acceptable (American society).

3. Drop the “vanilla diamond” marketing strategy (LeVian). The chocolate diamonds are bad enough, but now this company has begun calling traditional white diamonds “vanilla.” The first time I saw one of their ads with this crap, I started yelling at the screen because it’s complete bullshit. My bestie Deena, who’s worked in the jewelry business for over 20 years, agrees. Not only does the emperor have new clothes, he also has a fabulous new vanilla diamond ring!

These are DIAMONDS. Period.

4. Stop expecting to be validated on social media for all of my opinions (social media users). I’m guilty of this, too, but I gotta say I’m tired of doing this and I’m tired of seeing others do it as well. When we put our opinions out there for all the world to see (or, at the very least, our friends and friends of friends), there is bound to be someone who disagrees. Worst case scenario, no one even notices. In either instance, social media isn’t a megaphone or bullhorn that’s guaranteed to get you interaction, especially of a positive, validating nature. If you understand this, then share on. If not, then maybe it’s time to rethink your communication strategies.

5. Make pencil eraser caps that fit without tearing (office supply manufacturers). 

6. Contract a musician to create new hold music (IRS). Every time I’ve had to call the IRS over the last few years, they have had the same hold music. I’m not making that up; this guy has noticed it, too. Surely the IRS can afford to pay someone to create new music, or perhaps Pandora or Spotify would be cheaper. Either way, this music needs to go.

7. Use headphones with my electronic devices when in public places (everyone). You know this person: they are blasting their music or a video  from their smartphone, tablet or computer so loud that it flashes you back to the ghetto blasters and boom boxes of the 80s. That is a flashback I don’t need, nor does anyone else. Headphones are cheap. Get a pair, get two. Hell, get three. THEN USE THEM.

8. Bring back the clean shaven look (bearded dudes).

I wish I could turn this photo upside down and their beards would disappear, like those old pens with the girls in bikinis. Right side up, he’s got a beard! Upside down, he’s shaved!

So many hipsters…so many beards. I’m tired of it because as Great Grandma A would say, “why did you have to go and disfigure your face?” I can’t see YOU. All I see is scraggly hair covering half your mug. Unless you’ve got a terrible skin condition or you wear a beard for religious reasons, it’s time to shave and show the world your face.

9. Continue developing shows that showcase diversity in casting and subject matter (Hollywood). It’s great to see so much diversity on TV shows, whether it’s from a major network or a streaming service. A few examples include Master of None, Transparent, Orange is the New Black, Fresh off the Boat, Black-ish, and Telenovela. When made by producers, directors and writers who are part of the cultures represented, these shows take the stereotypes and demonstrate if and when they are applicable, but also illustrate the commonalities with the average white American. In the coming year, I hope to see shows featuring people with disabilities, Middle Easterners, Eastern Europeans and folks from former Soviet bloc countries.

10. Choose love (everyone). A couple months ago, I had a dream in which I was in a room full of people. I stood up in front of them and said, “I figured it out! It’s so simple. Choose love.” When I woke up, I was in the best mood all day, because it’s true: we always have a choice in what we are going to say or do. There have been so many instances this past year in which individuals, from political candidates to photographers, police departments to passengers on a train, have made that choice in a public forum. Sometimes that choice shows fear and engenders divisiveness, anger and hate. But sometimes that choice sheds light on the brightest, best parts of humanity. When we choose love, we shine a light that only keeps growing warmer and brighter, eliminating the darkest places all over the world.

choose love, love, compassion, how to deal with hate, how to get over fear, how to get over anger

 

What are your resolutions for everyone else in 2016?

Gratitude, Updates and a Request

Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post on dealing with depression. It’s been nearly a month and while I don’t feel as awful as I did, I still have some bad days, interspersed with fair to middlin’ days. I continue to journal about all the feelings and honor my flow when it comes to socializing and interacting with the world.

After I wrote that last post, I noticed something that I think deserves mention. When those of us who struggle with depression are honest about how we are feeling, sometimes those who are “normal” (and by that I mean people who have never been formally diagnosed with depression) present the depressed person with what I’m going to call escape routes. Those may take the form of a trip somewhere, a meal out, a weekend adventure.

Sometimes no mention is made of the depressed person’s struggles. Sometimes it is. And while I’m sure their motives are coming from a genuinely compassionate place, and they may not know what else to do or say, I want to let them know what is the most helpful thing they can do: hold the space.

Holding the space for someone who is going through a difficult time in their life – whether it’s because they are grieving a loss, chronically depressed, physically ill, caring for someone who is ill, or a host of other reasons – can be the kindest, most compassionate thing you can do. It doesn’t require elaborate displays, big promises, witty words or clever memes. It doesn’t ask either party to do anything outside of their personal comfort zone. It just asks you to be present.

Holding the space looks like any or all of these things, at least to me:

  • a Like, heart or smile emoticon on a Facebook post or in a tweet
  • a virtual hug
  • a hug in person
  • a note in the mail that says “I am thinking of you”
  • a private message (email or social media) that says “I am thinking of you”

I know that asking people to do what may look like nothing of substance may fly in the face of what society deems helpful. I think most folks (myself included) want to contribute tangible items or experiences, because it’s measurable.

But here’s the thing: it’s the little moments of grace and goodness, the one-sentence messages of love and support that grow bigger and brighter in the heart of the person who receives AND in the heart of the person who gave. It’s the heart emojis that show we are willing to spread love in a world full of fear, anger and hate. It’s the intangible work of holding the space that, in time, presents tangible results – ones that foster hope, faith and love in the world and shine a light into the darkest of places, no matter where those dark places may be.

Finding Joy => Finding Love, Part 2: Marriage

Here’s another post that originally started in July 2011. It’s undergone some heavy editing, but the core idea of joy and love remains.

A few years ago I had a couple single folks tell me that a divorcé(e) is someone who was once loved enough to have had someone marry them. My mind is still boggled by this logic, because it seems to discount the possibility that love wasn’t even a factor in getting married. Some marriages happen because “we’ve been together for [insert number] years, I guess I owe him/her,” “he/she asked and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying I wasn’t ready,” family pressure/expectations, a pregnancy. In some cases, marriage is used by abusers as a way to gain control over a partner. Those things don’t constitute love. Obligation and fear, yes. Love, no.

Part of the issue here is that society and the media can really screw with our notions of what makes for a healthy relationship, what constitutes a good, loving marriage, and what love is. I know I’ve had some wacky ideas for a number of years about love and relationships. Personally, I blame “Love Boat.” I should have never been allowed to watch that show. The story lines basically went like this:

  • boy and girl meet, flirt, sit at the Captain’s table for dinner
  • boy and girl look at the stars and share a passionate kiss, then end up knockin’ boots in someone’s cabin (which are WAY bigger on the show than actual cruise ships, as I understand it)
  • boy and girl fight on the Lido deck the next morning over some crazy misunderstanding, with the girl stomping off, nearly flattening Jill in the process
  • boy gets sage advice from Isaac the bartender, while girl flirts with Doc and realizes she can do way better with whats-his-name from the night before
  • boy and girl reconcile and leave the ship arm in arm, telling Julie the cruise director and Gopher they’ll be back on their honeymoon

The truth is more like the Supremes’ hit song “You Can’t Hurry Love”, or Frank Sinatra’s “Nice and Easy.” Love needs time to grow roots and blossom. Rushing to get to the good parts rarely leads to a loving, supportive relationship, much less a lasting marriage. You want all of that? You have to work for it – and it starts with working on YOU.

I try to be compassionate to the men & women I know who want to be married, or in a long-term relationship. But so often the conversations descend into whining and bitching over the dating pool and a big honkin’ glass of self-loathing. Sometimes the self-loathing is couched in “I’m totally fine being single” or “I’m happy with my life,” as if that negates all the whining and bitching. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Because here’s the thing: if you truly are happy, you’re not going to throw any energy at those moments when your phone isn’t blowing up with OKCupid messages or when the person you thought was Mr./Ms. Perfect (and potentially Mr./Ms. Right) turns out to be emotionally unstable, a philandering narcissistic asshole, or worse. If you have faith that, at some point in your life, you’re going to find the perfect partner, those instances of dealing with nitwits will be like a SnapChat image in the big Smartphone of Life: it will (ideally) disappear within seconds.

How do you get to that level of happiness? I recommend a three-step process.

  1. Shut the hell up. Drop the bitterness and the attitude problem. Stop telling the world how upset you are with online dating, with the guys/girls in the town where you live, with navigating relationships. Even if you feel that way, stop talking, tweeting or posting about it, because you’re putting all this negativity out in the world and it’s harshing any possible mellow you could achieve.
  2. Fight your demons from the inside out. Y’all know how I love analogies, so here’s a good one: some of us have nasty demons or dragons inside of us, put there by unfortunate circumstance or choices we’ve made over the years. These creatures demand food and attention, and can be so unruly that often we don’t know how to tame them. Work with a counselor or therapist if necessary to do one or both of the following: a) find your sword that will slay the beasts; b) find compassion to turn those monsters into docile pets.
  3. Open your heart, even if it’s just to the smallest things. Maybe it’s working with those in need, such as shelter animals, disabled veterans or the homeless. Maybe it’s being compassionate to friends and loved ones who are struggling with personal challenges. Whatever it is, opening your heart and filling it with light that comes from being kind to others is the best way I know to show the universe that you’re in a space where joy and love are welcome.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll end up married if you follow these steps, but at the very least you’ll feel better about yourself. That being said, I’ve seen enough friends find the relationships they were longing for, all because they stopped working against their own best interests and started loving.

Are you ready to try? Isaac thinks so.

Isaac Washington, Ted Lange, bartender, Love Boat, Isaac the bartender

 

 

Finding Your Joy => Finding Love

Note: This morning I discovered I have 24 blog post drafts in various stages of completion. I decided to start going through them and see what was still relevant and interesting enough to me to finish and post during NaBloPoMo. This post is one I started writing in July 2011. Since then, Ms. Chick found her Mr. Right and married him. As for me, well…you’ll just have to stay tuned.

Earlier this year I met local blogger Ms. Chick. She writes some very funny posts about online dating and life in general. But she also writes about her frustration with her search for Mr. Right.

While I’m not focused on finding Mr. Right, or even Mr. Right Now, at this point in my life, I do understand the frustration. I think many women go through phases when it seems as if all their peers are hooking up, shacking up, getting married, engaged or having babies, and they are left holding the Party of One sign. I’ve been there. It’s actually part of the reason why I left SoCal: everyone I knew seemed to be moving on to coupledom and I wasn’t even dating anyone. After one incredibly disastrous relationship and a couple blah ones, I was done with trying to find a good partner. I also believed that if I stayed, I would feel pressured into dating much more quickly than I was ready for, just so I wouldn’t be the odd-woman-out at gatherings with my friends and their significant others.

Spending the summer of 2010 in a small college town didn’t do a hell of a lot for my social life, but it definitely helped me get some perspective on who I am, what I love and what I want. The answer became clear very quickly: I am someone who loves to laugh and entertain, and who loves being laughed at (and with) and entertained by others. I love helping people connect in ways big and small. I want joy and peace of mind, body and soul.

A few months ago I asked Ms. Chick what gives her joy and what makes her laugh, really laugh from the pit of her stomach. Because it’s my belief that it’s when we focus solely on finding our joy, everything else falls into place: relationships, career, home, health. All the wrong drifts away and we’re left with all the right – including finding, dating and coupling up with Mr./Ms. Right.

It’s hard to get to that place, though. We’re all so conditioned for wrongness, whether we are feeling wrong or trying to make others feel wrong, intentionally or not. And looping on our failures can be affirming even when we claim we want things to be different. As this letter from Miss Information at Nerve.com says:

Failure sucks, and is frustrating. But really listen in: even when you’re pissed at yourself, there is often some perverse pleasure in it.

It’s emotional self-flagellation, really: we beat ourselves bloody for our failings and never quite fix them. T-Wizzle calls this “beating yourself with the Wrong Baton.” Because fixing them means honing in on key beliefs and attitudes we have about ourselves, seeing which ones are unhealthy and unhelpful and working hard to replace them with helpful, healthy beliefs.

I’m not suggesting that in order to find love, you need to become Pollyanna and drop the jaded, cynical tones. I’m saying that in those moments when the bitterness and anger is threatening to ruin your day (and maybe your life), acknowledge its presence and agree to disagree. (Yes, I’m anthropomorphizing feelings, deal with it.) Let the angry, cynical ego self be what it is and choose to do something that brings you joy.

sunset, Anna Maria Island, Florida, Gulf of Mexico, beach

What helps me find my joy.

 

If You’re Gonna Feng Shui Your House, Better Feng Shui Your Head, Too

On Saturday night I found myself in Ms. Chick‘s bedroom.

Wait. That didn’t come out right.

See, she’s been having a dry spell with dating, and I wanted to see if I could help her out.

That still didn’t come out right. Or my mind is just constantly in the gutter.

Some background: several years ago, T-Wizzle turned me on to feng shui, the Chinese art of living in harmony with your environment. She had met and worked with Karen Rauch Carter, author of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, a practical, easy-to-use feng shui guide for people who don’t want to be bothered remembering a lot of details about what belongs where. I bought a copy of the book, figured out how the bagua aligned with my current apartment, and started moving my crap around. I had been having serious issues in different areas of my life and wanted to do something physical that might help change things.

feng shui, bagua, Black Hat feng shui

Basic bagua layout for your home. Image courtesy feng-shui-tips-for-wealth.com

And my life did change. I started dating, my relationships with family members improved, I made some great new friends. I found a new home for Angel, my cat who was aggressive and miserable living with me and my other cat, Mossimo. I bought a new car that I absolutely loved. I gave feng shui a lot of credit.

But the truth is, I had been feng shui-ing my head as well. I had started using affirmations and other techniques to help reset my brain to stop being so negative and cynical and nasty and being more open and compassionate and fun. And it made a huge difference. Because I’ve learned that there’s no way changes can take place in the real world until you change the way you think about the things that bother you.

I can’t sum up everything I did to feng shui my head in one blog post. But here are my basic suggestions:

  • Write down on a piece of paper what’s not working in your life. I have an old list that reads: “My love life is nonexistent. My new friendships are not as nurturing as I would like. I don’t feel motivated to write or be creative.”
  • Write down on another piece of paper what IS working. Love your job? Have a great bunch of friends? Car running beautifully? Write ’em down.
  • Go back to the first piece of paper and consider what attitudes are behind those not-working items. The key is to make sure you stay focused on yourself. For me, my love life was nonexistent because deep down I believed I was unattractive and undesirable because I am fat. It had nothing to do with the men I was interested in or had dated in the past. It was all about me.
  • Install mental updates. Your internal self-esteem software obviously needs a bug fix, so it’s time to fix that. Write some affirmations about your inner and outer beauty, make peace with your inner child, get a close friend to help you work out your shit. I spent a lot of hours on the phone with T-Wizzle working out my shit – and in turn I helped her work out her own.
  • While you’re working on these affirmations and feeling super positive about yourself, start moving stuff around in your home. Carter’s book is a great starting point. Some folks may need a professional consult, which can be expensive but if you have the money it’s well worth it.

Back to Ms. Chick and her bedroom. She had an empty laundry basket in the Love & Relationships section. I pointed at it and said, “That needs to go, unless you want to continue having nothing happen with your lovelife.” (If it had been full of dirty laundry I still would have said she needed to move it, because then she’d be dealing with – you guessed it – guys with a lot of dirty laundry.) She moved the basket and according to a tweet I got from her tonight, things have already started shifting. But I’m willing to bet she started shifting her attitude about dating, too.

Back in the Blogging Groove – Well, for an Hour, Anyway

It’s been about a month since I updated the blog with any news on my life, and people are starting to ask questions. Now that I’m comfortably ensconced at Starbucks with a vanilla latte and a company laptop (more on that in a moment), I feel inspired to post again.

Work: I am still enjoying my job immensely, even when it makes me nutty. The drama that comes up is manageable and often quite humorous. One of my clients is about to launch a website, and setting up demos and interviews has been fun yet challenging. In the process I’ve learned a lot from my boss about the art of delicately negotiating coverage and handling excitable clients who want results yesterday.

I now have an account coordinator that reports to me. Learning how to be middle management without being a micromanaging tool has also been challenging. For years I wanted to be a manager and now that I’m in that role, I find management to be way overrated. Not only do I have to do my work, I have to make sure that she’s keeping busy, understands her tasks and deadlines, etc. It’s more than a notion.

Several of my colleagues read the blog now, and I’m realizing even more how I need to be very clear on what I’m willing to blog and what I need to keep to myself. It’s in my nature to be an open book, so self-editing feels somewhat unnatural. I keep reminding myself that if I can’t say it out loud, I’m not allowed to blog about it.

That being said, there’s a lot of venting and bitching I’d like to do publicly but I don’t want to offend anyone or get myself into trouble. Mainly my venting has to do with generational differences in work ethic, attitude and overall outlook on life. I remember behaving the same way as my younger colleagues not so long ago, so it’s easier to be empathetic and realize they will have to get some hard knocks before it’s clear as to what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. At times, though, I want to call up former employers and supervisors and apologize for being such an arrogant little shit.

Life: My long commute and work hours sometimes render me comatose. Yesterday it wasn’t until 7 p.m. that I finally got showered and dressed. I’m recognizing more and more the necessity of work/life balance, and I’m looking more into what technology I can use to help me achieve some balance (more on that in a minute). I also have an order in for some liquid vitamin supplement thingy so that may help too. I try to get out and socialize with friends and attend Meetups as much as I can without overtaxing myself, and I’ve been forcing myself to get away from my desk for at least 30 minutes at lunchtime, just so I have a chance to clear my head and decompress.

Love: For the past few months, I’ve been spending time with Peter*, a warm, funny, kind man who has been very patient with me and my occasional bouts of mistrust and panic over “where is this going???” He reads the blog and provides commentary to me, and questions the need for blogs in general. Sometimes that makes my head explode, but for the most part I am amused by his comments. I enjoy his company and do my best to respect his privacy, so you won’t see much about him on the blog.

Technology: As part of my ongoing attempt to feel balanced between life and work, I’m embracing a bit more convergence in my technology. I’m borrowing a laptop from work – an IBM Thinkpad that is actually quite fast and uses XP, thank god – and I just bought a first-generation iPhone from a friend who upgraded to the 3G model. I’ve set up accounts with I Want Sandy, the virtual personal assistant who sends you email, text message and Twitter reminders when you have crap to get done; Zenbe, a web-based email aggregator; and FriendFeed, a service that makes it easy to track all my social networks. I just picked up a new SIM card from AT&T prior to coming to Starbucks, so here’s hoping that the process of getting the iPhone fired up and working goes smoothly. I do need to update the Technology/Moxie scoreboard as there have been some amusing incidents recently.

I’ve got a few web things in the works…a new blog, an upgrade to Girl with Moxie, and some other fun stuff. So stay tuned and follow me on Twitter if you’re so inclined.

Friday’s Hot Tip(s): Relationships

It’s actually Sunday when I’m writing this – the first week on the job was pretty intense. I suppose I could schedule the post for this coming Friday, but what fun would that be?

Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of people about romantic relationships. It seems we’ve all been struggling with love on some level, and trying to connect with someone while still maintaining our own identity can be really difficult at times. I’ve thought about it a great deal, had many discussions with T-Wizzle on the topic, and I’ve decided to do something a little different with this week’s Hot Tip. It’s actually five tips on how to make relationships work, as conceived by me. Feel free to expand on these or offer revisions in the comments.

1. Determine whether you’re a provider or nurturer. Regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, people tend to fall into one of two groups: provider (the one who works and provides the financial structure for the family unit) and nurturer (the person who nurtures family members and offers emotional support). It’s been my experience that we get into trouble when we try to force ourselves to be a nurturer when we’re really much more comfortable as a provider, or vice versa. In relationships, this can also show up as insisting that the other person take on a provider role because we believe that we are a nurturer, for example. Figure out what you are, and be okay with it.

2. Honor your flow as well as your partner’s flow. Whenever I say “honor your flow” to people, they look at me as if I’m insane. What I mean by this is “do what feels right for you.” Part of honoring your flow, though, requires that you take responsibility for your actions and be prepared to handle the consequences. Sounds a bit heavy, I know, but if you’re coming at a relationship with an open, loving heart and mind, this isn’t that difficult.

3. Don’t make yourself wrong, and don’t make your partner wrong either. As I recently wrote here, we’re not here to get things perfect. I try to come at life from the perspective that we’re all doing the best that we can in any moment, even if that seems hard to believe sometimes. No one ever wants to feel wrong for things they have done or not done, said or not said. In a relationship, you owe it to yourself and your partner to understand that their behavior is not an indication of your worth as a person. Sounds easy to understand intellectually, but emotionally, it can be tough.

4. Accept the present. In relationships it’s so easy to get caught up in the future. “How serious is he? Does he want to move in with me? Will she be the mother of my children? When will we get married?” and so on. If you’re constantly thinking about the future, it is damn hard to be in the moment while you’re sipping Frappuccinos on your third date with Cindy Lou.

5. Enjoy yourself. This is closely tied with #4. If you’re really in the present moment, all the pressure is off. You can just be yourself and have a good time. Maybe Cindy Lou isn’t the right woman for you…but the barista with the cute smile might be.