Author: kburlage

Ok – so sometimes the song is ‘If I weren’t on camp staff.’ But sometimes its a great way to poke fun at one another.

And as we know, poking fun at one another is how you survive camp staffer-ing. (sure, its not a word. But I just used and you understood it, so pfftht).

Every summer, I get a little nostalgic for camp. I think this is the case for most people who have worked as part of a summer camp staff – and in my case refers to my two summers working at the Howard H. Cherry Scout Reservation for the Boy Scouts of America. Well, technically it was two years, but I volunteered part time a third year, and then somehow ended up Commissary Director 16 years later.

I am not sure what summer camp stories you heard – but its definitely not like the movies. There’s no rival camp across the lake. There were no dance-offs. While I was there, there wasn’t even any nudity (although stories abound). So, here is my top-10 list for things its good to know about being camp staff. I’m not including any photos in this post because photos are ‘evidence.’ We are proceeding as if this whole list is simply fun, purely hypothetical situations.

10. The food can be pretty bad. Camp’s don’t have huge budgets. Don’t be too hard on the kitchen people – they are doing the best they can! That being said, the words ‘taco meat’ can still evoke some pretty strong reactions from anyone on camp staff circa 2000-ish. (shudder). Always befriend the cook. It may just net you baggies filled with chocolate chip cookies to stash away. (Thanks Barb!)

10 (Part 2). Befriend the ranger. Our ranger was a bit gruff and grumpy – but was also an amazing guy with a huge job to do. Generally, the best way to befriend the ranger is to do your job and not be an idiot. Some people do better at this than others. Give as good as you get. You’ll do fine (unless you are an idiot, in which case, this summer is going to be hard).

9. Speaking of befriending the cook – the best way to do that is to pitch in. If you have a few minutes and no pressing duties, give a hand in the kitchen (or wherever is needed). Camp kitchens are usually bottom choice for incoming staff people. Who wants to work at a camp, only to be inside all day? No one, that’s who. Its also a sweat lodge, but who doesn’t want to be nostalgic for a bead of sweat running down their butt crack? There are always a few places in every camp desperate for a little extra help. Give a little extra help. Not only is it the right thing to do, it gets you brownie points to counteract whatever trouble you may get into, as well as contacts to assist you later on.

8. Speaking of assistance later on. You know what camp kitchen people can get you? Kool Aid. Not the stuff we serve the campers – that stuff already has the sugar mixed in. We needed the pure Kool Aid that. Purple Kool Aid. Why? Because obviously the sugar would have drawn flies, and the flies would have bothered the horses. Purple Kool Aid, it turns out, does not bother horses. Fun Fact: A purple horse will turn first red, then pink, as the purple fades. It usually lasts just long enough for the ranger to panic about returning a pink horse to the owner. You know, like a month.

7. ALWAYS MAKES SURE YOUR RADIO BUTTON IS NOT COMPRESSED WHEN YOU TALK SH*T ABOUT WORTHLESS MEMBERS OF THE CAMP STAFF.

6. There are generally a lot of volunteers helping a camp to stay afloat. This was certainly true of our camp – the mowing alone took a small volunteer army. Volunteerism can go wrong, however. Like, for instance, if a certain volunteer decided to meddle with MY POOL. And if that volunteer decided to turn off the circulation pump to check something, and then neglect to turn it back on, and also leave the acid pump running. And let’s say two days go by and you don’t notice the pump is off because you didn’t turn it off and you expect it to be on. And let’s say the ranger checks it and (after yelling at you for not noticing) turns it back on. Let’s suppose that suddenly orange-brown jets suddenly shoot into the swimming pool from every circulation vent. Just picture a whole pool turning brown in a matter of 2 minutes. Then almost black the next day. Then (after much draining, refilling, pumping, hyper-chlorinating), green but opaque. Then turquoise, but still opaque, then blue, and finally, clear. Just in time for scouts to arrive. Its only 95 degrees all summer long, no one is going to want the swimming pool – right?

5. Working on camp staff is long, hot, and hard. Staff tend to get creative in now to blow off steam. Since Fight Clubs are frowned upon, this typically results in pranks. Good rule of thumb: don’t hurt anyone and don’t destroy property. Oh, and make sure they person you are pranking isn’t a total tool. Most camp staff’s have a resident prank officiant. He/She is the one with good ideas who generally knows how to keep their own hands clean. Let’s call him Paul. Befriend Paul, but don’t let your guard down. Ever. And Paul won’t be the only one. Its everyone. Basically working on camp staff is the pranking equivalent of the Hunger Games. But what would I know? I’ve never put copious amounts of cayenne pepper in chocolate cookies, or garlic powder in Banana Bread. I definitely was not involved with the purple horse.

4. Camp-fires are the best. Skits and songs and laughter, all under the open sky with a big-ass fire behind you. Make a mistake? No one cares. Sure, now they are laughing AT you instead of WITH you, but no one (including you) seems to mind. A word of caution: if you decide at age 36 to revisit a skit you used to do all the time when you were 21 – just remember YOU ARE 36 AND YOUR BODY DOESN’T DO THAT ANY MORE. Always remember – at camp fires you must sing the CORRECT versions of songs. Not the wildly inappropriate versions you made up with your follow staff members.

3. Always make up wildly inappropriate versions of the camp songs.

3 (Part 2). Quotes. Any self-respecting camp staff should keep a running list of the best quotes of the summer. And then put them on a t-shirt. How else am I supposed to remember ‘I gave a beaver a poncho today!’ ‘Ranger 1 to Ranger 2 – leave the girls alone and go do something.’ ‘If I wanted to be hot, I’d light myself on fire.’

2. You can’t shirk the work. There is simply too much to do, and all hands are needed. That being said, it is totally appropriate to help young camp staff members feel included by giving them very important tasks that you do not want to do. Need someone to rub lard on a watermelon? Sounds like a job for the young people! That stuff will NOT come off. Hey, young people, go catch that snake swimming across the pool. Put it in a bucket and take it to the Ecology people.

The last one. Number 1. Cherish it. The long hours, the sweat, the blood, the tears, the fights, the exhaustion, the sunburn, the mosquitoes. Everything. Camp was the first place I really felt like I belonged (I was 20). I still feel that every time I drive onto the property. There is something joked about every year at the end of year party. If you ask staff on the last day of camp (typically after they have been working for 3 days straight to clean and close) if they are going to return, many are reluctant. ‘I don’t know.’ Fast forward 4-5 days to the party. Everyone has eaten a few regular meals, slept in their own bed, and is starting to decompress from the constant fear of impending prank. Ask them if they are coming back. Yeah, of course. They already miss it.

Camp Staff is a family. A big, messy, blended family. A family where whether you are 20 or 60, you are counted as a friend. Going back after 16 years was strange. It was great to be back, but also bitter sweet. I was only there in the mornings, and only in the kitchen. I loved seeing the new staff continuing to carry the mantle. Sad because I wasn’t truly a part of it anymore. Except that every time I step foot on camp, I know there was a time I belonged. And in a way I always will.

If you remember your own camp staff experience (or something similar) like and share and drop a comment!

Quirky Thoughts

You know, for someone who works really hard to stay positive, to try to see a variety of perspectives, and who usually succeeds – I have my fair share of rage. I usually hide it. Most people don’t know about my rage. Its not really secret. More private. And I tend to use a really bright, cheerful tone when ranting in my rage spiral. I hope that doesn’t make me a crazy person – but, here we are!

For the purposes of this post, I’m not talking about rational rage (and boy, there is SO MUCH of that – people who hurt each other because they can or because they are too selfish to see, people who remain ignorant because its too uncomfortable to face reality, turning the other way or blaming those in pain because it means you don’t have to do anything. . . . . And I’m getting onto a different track.)

So, we’ll call this my ‘irrational rage.’ Events that just make me crazy – that most people either don’t notice or can deal with like their normal and stuff.

  • People who comment on internet recipes saying ‘I’m never going to make this.’ Or! ‘I can’t make this, I can’t have dairy.’ WHY WAS IT NECESSARY TO WRITE THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!
  • Side note: People who ask for very simple recipe substitutions on blog post comments. GOOGLE PEOPLE. GOOGLE. You are going to get more options with less judging. Also, just assume its Chicken stock.
  • People who assume whatever magic diet worked for them works for everyone. Lose weight? Gain energy? Fight off alien parasites? Become low-key superhero? They have the answer. Now – I am a firm believer that if it works for them, great! I am very excited for them. But, no, I don’t want to hear about it. I have a great deal of health information that for some reason I haven’t shared with you – and while you may be well-researched in your preferred diet, you don’t know me. I do. Also, I have heard AT LEAST 8 versions of the diet that will definitely ‘fix’ me. Some from doctors, some from books, some from people. I’ve tried the ones that made sense to me – did not work. But the ‘ragey’ part comes when people say ‘but for SURE this one will definitely work!!!’ You know what? That’s what they all say. I don’t believe you. This one makes me snort hot air out of my nose.
  • Target being out of sour cream 4 weeks in a row. Seriously?
  • Target stocking in general. I’ve gone in the mornings, the afternoons, the evenings. I can’t seem to find a time they aren’t blocking half the store with stocking carts. And staff who don’t seem to see any of those pesky customers trying to work around them.
  • Chipmunks who systematically steal my best tomatoes but only eat two bites and leave them on the ground. Those stripey little bastards.
  • PEOPLE WHO DON’T USE TURN SIGNALS.
  • Turn Signals 2.0 – People who slow down 4 miles before their turn and basically come to stop before turning. Commit to your turn and go already!
  • That house in the neighborhood with a doggy door, so their two dogs can run out and bark endlessly at everyone who walks by on the sidewalk. Every. Damn. Time.
  • Teenagers/young people who talk condescendingly to you just because you haven’t crushed them with your knowledge and experience. Yet.
  • Amazon search engine results that somehow think when I search for a pair of dress sandals what I really want is skanky lingerie. Really?
  • Relationship advice articles that tell me all the things I’m doing wrong. Then I have to admit to my husband all of may complete failings. Then we laugh. But there’s still rage in there. There isn’t a ‘right way’ to have a good relationship. Kindness. Respect. Humor. The end.
  • And while we’re on articles. Dating and sex advice articles clearly written by a sociopath conducting some kind of wide-scale longitudinal study for research and/or amusement.
  • Oh! Oh! More articles! Angry hairdressers/wait staff/chefs, etc. ’10 things your [insert angry profession here] wishes you would stop doing.’ Sure, there are some super common sense things. But some stuff is just ridiculous. Like why I should always tip 20% even for bad service because its probably not the server’s fault. Nope! I’m a pretty generous tipper – and I do understand when things are busy and get a little long. But when you can’t manage to be polite or attentive – its just not my problem.
  • Lifeguards ignoring basic safety issues! This one is also heavily on the management, because if you have one good guard, they’ll get a ton of complaints if they are the only one maintaining order. Most pool goers are far more concerned with having fun than safety. Until someone gets hurt, then they are mad rules weren’t maintained. People are kinda the worst sometimes. So, lifeguards! Here’s your partial but incomplete list of stuff you have to stop ignoring:
  1. No play involving grabbing the head/neck.
  2. No sitting on the shoulders of someone else.
  3. No flips off the side.
  4. Children in floaties should be accompanied by a parent – not just given run of the pool.
  5. Children should not be allowed to slow themselves down in the slide, or stop, or switch positions, or make trains. Its super easy to tell when they are doing it.
  6. No throwing children high into the air so they can come down head first in 4 1/2 feet of water. That’s a shallow water dive you moron. Spinal Cord Injury 101.
  7. Parents are the worst. Grow a pair and be prepared to tell them what to do too. You can definitely be polite about it – but if you are responsible enough to keep people alive, you should be able to express yourself with some confidence.

  • Back to the rest.
  • Mean, judgy mommies. Online or in real life.
  • Mommy bloggers who come up with complicated systems/stories/lies to get children to pick up their toys because ‘I don’t want to be the bad guy.’ For goodness sake! BE THE BAD GUY SOMETIMES! Its called discipline and respect.

Ok. That’s enough rage for today. Please join me in purging the rage by watching this baby elephant chase birds.

Sometimes you just have to spew! (Not S.P.E.W. – which of course, is totally different). Now I’m done. And I feel better.

Like and share and stuff (ok – having to post this is a tiny rage because I hate having to remember it).

Take care people,

Kim

Life Logic Quirky Thoughts

I’m going to keep this one short (ok, even I don’t really believe that – but I’m going to TRY).

One of the biggest lies perpetrated in our culture today is that tears are weakness and never/very rarely crying is a sign of strength.

No.

No. No. NO. Nope. No.

Now – I will preface what I am about to say with this disclaimer: everyone is different. There are some people who simply aren’t big criers. If that’s you – cool – you aren’t who I’m talking about.

I read a lot, and, especially as we approach summer, I like to read stuff that’s just fluffy and fun. I’ve said before that I usually read Young Adult fiction because I find it more imaginative and clever (and less dependent on sex and/or gore for the plot). I want CHARACTERS. I will drop a book mid-chapter if they don’t flesh out their characters or if the characters suddenly change personality or magically develop skills they never had before. I do this with movies too – but I don’t watch many movies.

So, one of my favorite summer reading authors is Nora Roberts, who does not, in fact, write young adult fiction. She writes romantic fiction for adults. I like her stories because they often have a paranormal bent, and she doesn’t get to graphic in the bedroom scenes (don’t have a moral objection, just not my thing). I also like her because her stories are totally predictable after you’ve read a few, and quite frankly I like that. I like not being super surprised by my light summer reading. I don’t need twists and gasps. Just entertain me and don’t hurt my brain.

I like it when the good guys prevail, evil loses, and love wins. I know that’s now how things always happen in the real world, and I don’t care – I read to escape!

(Side Note: Game of Thrones is HUGE right now since the show just ended, and yes, I am super obsessed with it. I never watched a single episode of the show, never read one of the books. Nope, too gory. Otherwise its right up my alley. I may, at some point write a whole other post about being a side-line fan. I know GRRM’s big thing is subverting expectations. Cool – still not gonna read it. Partly because of that. I need the good guys to win, man.)

Ok, I’m back. So, as I’m doing summer prep at home I end up listening to audio books – especially in the kitchen. I just finished a couple Nora Roberts books and find myself itchy and irritated by a few assumptions she makes.

One of the main ones – adhering to my theme here – is that crying is weakness. Characters will say or think things like ‘I/She never cry/cries’, or ‘crying pisses me off.’ Lots of variations on the theme.

Its really everywhere. I have noticed it mainly in female characters or observations of women in real life – but I think that is due to the fact that everyone just ASSUMES males shouldn’t cry (this is extremely destructive, by the way). Its in our culture, deeply embedded. Crying is a weak, womanly thing to do. Men don’t cry, so by extension, strong women don’t cry.

This idea is so dumb it makes my head hurt. Tears are a sign of emotion. We are, in fact, emotional creatures – as our well-developed limbic center can attest. Emotions are what connect us to one another – they form the bond that we need to survive (and I’m talking about actual survival, in the biological sense). Emotions signal us when something is not right (anger), clue us in to the loss of connection (sadness/grief), and reinforce positive life experiences (happiness).

When we banish tears as weakness, we are saying we cannot embrace emotion and be strong. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we cannot ignore/repress emotion and be truly strong. Its like storing vats of acid in the basement. Sooner or later the vats are going to leak, destroy your foundation, and the house is going to come crashing down.

Emotions are like waves. Good surfers learn to ride the highs and lows. They see the fluctuation as just part of the natural order of things. No one ever learned to be a good surfer in calm seas. They learned by riding the highs and lows. And like the sea – you can’t embrace the highs and avoid the lows. They are so inextricably linked that if you repress your tears, you repress your ability to feel joy.

Ride the waves. Cry when you are sad, cry for joy, ignore the idiots who tell you its weak, and flip the bird at destructive cultural norms.

Emotions don’t always feel good. But they feel ‘whole.’

Ok – its not short. But consider liking and sharing anyways.

Take care!

Kim

Life Logic

Well, this is going to be short and sweet. At least, I think it will be short – but I often think that and am then immediately proven wrong. And I lied when I said it would be sweet. That’s on me. I’m feeling kind of pointy.

First of all – you know what happens when you make an assumption – right? That’s right, you are an ass. Leave me out of it – this one’s on you.

So why am I feeling so salty? I have been on the interwebs. I know! I know! I am not supposed to read comments. I KNOW I am not supposed to read comments. So why do I read comments? Honestly – I do it because I desperately hope to find good people out there who care enough to stand up and say they care.

What do I find? Well . . . . . . . not usually that. My longstanding desire to create/become internet police will have to wait for its own article. Probably not a long wait though. Maybe a couple days.

Here’s what I want to cover sort of briefly. Assumptions. Internet assumptions and in-person assumptions. Specifically the assumptions that come from gossip.

Let me give you an example: Story on internet about person who was harmed/wronged.

Comments: ‘I bet she just . . . ‘ ‘He probably is . . . . .’ ‘You just know she’s the kind of person who . . . . . . ‘

(Insert picture of me tearing my hair out because I don’t feel like inserting a picture today even though the stupid blog software will tell me people only like blogs with pictures because we are all secretly still kindergarteners.)

I have this happen in real life too. I am a massage therapist and people routinely say to me ‘You probably don’t work on Saturdays though.’

(Insert picture of me face palming).

Let’s try that again, shall we? ‘Could you please tell me if you work on Saturdays?’ Why YES dear person, I can tell you! I DO work some Saturdays. See how much nicer the interaction is when you ask a question instead of just lobbing an assumption at me?

The internet can work the same way! First of all, let’s all agree that we are not trained detectives – and even if you happen to be, you are not the detective assigned to this case, if indeed there is a case. Perhaps there is more information available than what has been presented to you – important as you are.

Second – admitting you do NOT know something, and are willing to build on your knowledge base by asking questions, makes you look smarter. It makes you actually smarter too – but more people are interested in appearances than reality.

Third – your biases, misogyny, and racism start showing really quickly with these assumptions. Maybe that’s a good thing – we can spot you more easily. He must have been on drugs. She must have been drunk. He is obviously someone who’s never worked. She probably has 4 babies with 4 different guys. All. The. Time.

So here’s a couple options:

  1. Keep your opinions to yourself. Not always, of course. But when you really have no idea what you are talking about. Side note – one personal experience does not make you an expert. If you decide to share your perspective, remember others with similar experiences may have vastly different reactions.
  2. Engage compassion. When you hear that assumption in your head, ask yourself – what other circumstances might explain this situation?
  3. Ask questions. “I am curious as to who might have benefitted from that kid being harmed” is a lot better than “Well you know it was the dad based on the 20 second interview shown on the news.”
  4. Be kind. Not sure why we have to repeat this one so often.
  5. Consider necessity. Is your comment adding anything useful to the conversation? Spoiler – if its an assumption, it is not.

The point I really want to make the most is this – if you want to learn and engage, you ask questions. If you are just looking for a quick fix of attention and self-importance, you make assumptions.

Don’t make an ass of yourself. (Once again, I am not involved in your assumptions, so am just fine over here).

Take care!

Kim

Oh – and do the ‘LIKE’ and ‘SHARE’ thing – even if I didn’t give you pictures this time.

Life Logic

This story has nothing to do with fish. Bear with me.

I’m going to tell you one of my favorite stories about the power of a positive attitude. But in true ‘me’ fashion, I have to tell you a separate story first.

When I was 20/21, I worked at a camp in the summers. Specifically Boy Scout Camp. It was awesome. I was the Waterfront Director (canoeing and rowing), and later the Aquatics Director (Swimming, Lifesaving, BSA Lifeguard). I loved it. I got to work with a great group of people and got to help train young scouts in how to not die in the wilderness. The staff also doubled as court jesters to keep the young hooligans entertained. It is important to keep a group of a couple hundred boys between 11-17 focused and happy. 10/10 recommend to reduce chaos.

Camp songs are an essential part of camp. No matter where you went to camp (or worked at camp), you learned songs. They’re silly and fun and to this day I occasionally break out into one of the old dittys. Of course, when staff are alone, those songs frequently get re-written to be wildly inappropriate. That’s part of the fun of camp staff. Also hypothetically accidentally broadcast to the whole camp because of a handheld radio incident. But that was Jim’s fault, not mine. Hypothetically.

The song I need to tell you about today is the Fishing Song. I could do a video with the actions, but I won’t. Not because of any dignity related issues (seriously, not a problem), but because it would take more energy than I have this morning to figure out how to do that.

Here’s the lyrics (must be sung with great gusto):

Have you ever gone fishing on a bright sunny day?

With all the little fishys swimming up and down the bay.

With you hands in your pockets and your pockets in your pants.

All the little fishys doing the hoochy-coochy dance.

Da-da-duh-da-da. Da-Da-Duh-Da. DA-DA-Duh-DA-DA, DA-DA-Duh-DA.

With your hands in your pockets and your pockets in your pants.

All the little fishys doing the hoochy-coochy dance.

I have no idea who wrote this. But that person is clearly a creative genius.

Ok. now you know about the song. Now, the camp I worked at was beautiful. The ranger and a ton of volunteers kept the whole place clean and maintained. During camp season, however, lets just say we put a little extra strain on the ecosystem. Adding 300-500 people a week (150-300 of which are teenage boys) will do that. The whole staff pitched in at the beginning and end of camp to make sure everything was clean and well-maintained (it was part of the job – to be perfectly honest we weren’t necessarily doing it just because we loved the camp). There was also a list of things that needed to be done every Saturday when the troops left. I mostly didn’t do any of that because I was a ‘responsible adult’ and also was required to vacuum out the pool with a vacuum that weighed approximately 1700 pounds.

Which leads me to my actual story. One of the responsibilities of the staff was to check the campsites and clean out the latrine pits.

You know what a latrine is, right?

Sometimes, a latrine is also called a pit toilet. Not to be confused with a Sarlacc-Pit toilet. . . .

Note to my husband: Yes, I am trying to figure out how to get one of these.

So, a latrine is basically a toilet seat on top of a concrete stump with a whole in the middle, leading to a pit underground.

Can anyone spot the difference between a and b? No, seriously – can you? Its bugging me.

So your poops fall down into the pit and eventually someone pumps out the whole thing. If you do this small-scale when you’re camping you just bury your hole.

The latrines at our camp were actually pretty decent. There were stalls for privacy, and running water to wash your hands. And functioning toilet seats.

Why are the toilet seats important? Because otherwise the wildlife go exploring, and its kinda yucky down there. Also a pit. So they die.

But, more important to the point of this story, kids are the worst sometimes and throw garbage down into the pits. This is a problem because the pits are designed for pees and poops and papers, and that’s it.

So, someone’s job every week was to ‘fish’ the latrine pits. We had a long pole with a hook, and a long pole with a cup. With those, you could pretty much collect whatever garbage was down there.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, this was not a popular job. Typically we would foist it off on a younger staffer because it was fun and we could. I say we, but I wasn’t really involved. I always knew I was headed down to the pool to wrestle the giant vacuum.

Then, one Saturday, one of the staffers came to collect the hook and cup. He was about 18 – younger than us ‘old people’ who were 21, but older than the junior staffers. He could have passed on the job, but he didn’t. He propped the poles over his shoulder and walked out the door, singing.

And what was he singing? The damn FISHING SONG. Scroll back up and read it again. It was, to this day, one of the most beautiful things I have every seen in my life. It might sound minor – but it was quite literally life changing.

At that moment, I realized something. He was voluntarily doing one of the icky jobs. And instead of complaining about it or dreading it, he was staying positive. I guarantee that job sucked a lot less that day.

I have used that image and that thought 1000 times since that day. Its gotten me through a lot of tasks that could be seen as unpleasant. Its reminded me to laugh when something unexpected makes a mess of things.

I’ve said before that positive thinking isn’t about ignoring the negative. Its about changing how you see the negative. Sometimes its about EMBRACING THE NEGATIVE. Life has ups and downs. Some of those downs are huge, and sometimes the positives to find are tiny in comparison. Sometimes all we can manage is a watery chuckle in the midst of our tears. If you can’t see any positive in a situation – that is ok. Just breathe and do the next thing and get through it. Some situations are like that. Sometimes we only see the positives (like that friend who made us laugh when we didn’t think we ever would again) looking back.

Sometimes the only positive I can find in situations is that it has made me a lot more compassionate. Suffering tends to open the eyes. So, if by dealing with the hard stuff, I have become kinder and more able to help others, I’ll take it. If its taught me that sometimes I just need to breathe and let the world take care of itself because its not my job to fix everything, I’ll take it.

That day, it taught me that singing a jaunty little tune doesn’t make the poo go away. It doesn’t make it stink less. But maybe it makes you notice enough other things that you don’t mind so much.

Take care,

Kim

If you enjoyed reading, please like and share!

Uncategorized

Its International Women’s Day! And if you are threatened by that, its ok – I understand. Weak men have always feared strong women (leans back, sips imaginary tea). Strong men appreciate strong women. Incidentally, weak women also fear strong women. A strong woman will be seeking to build up those around her. The weak try to tear others down to their level.

You see what I did there? If you are offended- good.

But what I really want to do is celebrate some of the amazing and badass women who have inspired me along the way. Through quotes, because I gotta me be.

Glennon Doyle gets to go first because she is my favorite.

Glennon Doyle is one of my favorite people on the planet. She is unapologetically authentic, and she works tirelessly to spread love and acceptance. She’s also not afraid to speak up and advocate for things that must change. Along with a number of other amazing women, she is part of TogetHER Rising, a group that harnesses the collective power of women to make change. Recently, through small donations, they raised millions of dollars to support children who were separated from their families at the border. You should absolutely watch her TED talk. And her two books (Carry On, Warrior and Love Warrior) are funny and heart wrenching and real and powerful statements on unbecoming who the world is telling you to be, and becoming instead who you are. She also has a blog at Momastery (don’t let the title fool you if you are not a Mom – its got loads of other great stuff for women).

Score another point for authenticity!

With all these women, it was incredibly difficult to choose just one quote. Of all the women in this post, I found Nanea Hoffman most recently – probably 6 months ago. I love her focus on self-care. I love that she is a fierce advocate for artists who’s work is used without permission, and without attribution. And while I don’t drink coffee (I KNOW!!), I love that she understands the miraculous healing powers of a warm drink and a cozy blanket (and not peopling for a while). Check out Sweatpants and Coffee on Facebook.

Sometimes its not ‘my thing’ its ‘my person’ – same goes.

I’ve followed Tanya Markul (aka Thug Unicorn – Facebook) for a couple of years now. Her writing style is real and raw. She journeys through pain and a thousand scars to say ‘that was/is a part of me, now I am more.’ She also has a book! The She Book is a collection of short writings that speak both from and to the soul. She embraces the darkness as a counter point to the light that we all have – and can create around us.

I love this quote SO MUCH.

Maya Angelou is someone else who channeled their personal darkness into beauty. Her words flow over me like a warm breeze and there is so much wisdom there. She was truly a genius, and a genuine soul.

It appears Eleanor Roosevelt was the actual originator of ‘Just Do It’ – I wonder if Nike payed her royalties.

You have to admire the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt was no shrinking violet. She truly reshaped the role of First Lady, and effectively served as co-president during FDR’s terms in office. She regularly attended meetings or engagements in his stead, particularly if his mobility was a barrier. If you don’t believe me – watch ‘The Roosevelts’ (a documentary by Ken Burns). Why? Because I had to that’s why. My husband has an unnatural attachment to Ken Burns’ documentaries.

‘The Hiding Place’ is one of my favorite books ever. I’ve read it a dozen times, and still cry every time.

Cornelia ten Boom was the spinster daughter of a clock maker. During a time when women generally married and ran a home, she chose to be educated as a watch maker. When the Nazi’s began taking over Holland (her home), she became involved with the Dutch underground – smuggling Jewish people, food vouchers, false papers, etc. Eventually they were discovered and sent first to prison, then to a concentration camp. Corrie lost her sister and father, as well as other family members. Her faith was her mainstay – although she does not shy away from her doubts. From her, I learned to be thankful for the fleas. ‘The Hiding Place’ is an amazing read, I highly recommend it.

Her survivorship leaves me in awe.

Most of us know who Harriet Tubman was. A runaway slave that became a conductor on the Underground Railroad – helping other slaves escape to freedom. Actually – a great resource on Harriet is the Nathan Hale series ‘Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.’ My son has learned a lot about history, and the information is well researched – and also entertaining. To me, Harriet’s words remind us of a time in our history we can’t afford to forget, and can also speak to any survivor. Just. Keep. Going.

I could have added 1000 quotes from Harry Potter. But I didn’t. For now.

I have made no secret of my love of Harry Potter, and thus, for Joanne Rowling. The scope of vision it takes to create an enduring universe that lives and breathes is astonishing. However, for all the amazing quotes (they’ll get their own post sometime), this one is my favorite. It reminds us all there is no ‘safe’ path to achieving anything.

True Story.

Brene Brown is a researcher on shame, vulnerability, and courage. She has a number of books available – as well as a TED talk (which is always a good place to start). She reminds us all that we can never be truly courageous without being truly vulnerable. She also teaches that vulnerability cannot be forced with oversharing, it has to come from trust. Shame is toxic, and its antidote is empathy.

I could NOT find an attribution for this – it seems to be in 1000 places, but no one is giving credit. If you know who originated, please let me know and I will updated!


While we are on the subject of strong women, let’s dispense with the idea that strong women don’t cry. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will again – strong women are entitled to the entirety of their emotions. All of the feels. You can be strong in tears. You can be strong when you hit bottom. You can be strong when you panic. Feel what you feel. Then get up, and go. Glennon Doyle would tell you there’s no ‘either/or’, its ‘and/both.’

To all the amazing women out there – I love you. I love how you are strong in a thousand ways, and they all look different. (I see you guys out there too – way to go for being strong enough to love strong women – together we change the world).

Please ‘Like’ and ‘Share’! (oh – and check me out on Facebook).

Life Logic

So today the sun is shining, but also feels like an Antarctic wasteland. The children had a late start again, which makes it approximately 187 years since they’ve had a full week of school.

I’m grouchy. I don’t normally get overly grouchy. I can get a little cranky (which is different – trust me) about specific things, but this kind of grouchy is reserved for late February (which sometimes extends to mid-May, depending on the weather).

Its not seasonal affective disorder – I know it is for many people, but for me it feels like claustrophobia. I want to go outside. I want to breathe air that doesn’t hurt. I want to walk the dog without fear of death on sidewalks coated in 2 inches of ice.

I want to win the lottery and move to Key West and make pocket money gluing googly eyes on sea sponges and calling them puppets.

But for today, I just gotta make it through. And since I don’t really see the point in getting through the day feeling like this, I’m going to try to make it better.

Better is often about the little things. I’m going to see how many I can come up with. Feel free to add your own.

A brand-new pair of thick, warm socks.

A new sweatshirt that has never been washed.

The smell of fresh baked bread.

Hell – the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies!

The smell of wood smoke.

The first day you can see a haze of green on all the trees in the spring.

The first time you feel the warmth of the sunshine again after winter.

That first crisp breeze in the fall.

Puppy snuggles.

Newborn sighs.

Baby belly laughs.

That feeling when you kid had a rough day and the only thing they want is to sit and cuddle with you for a bit.

Sharing a great book with someone you know will enjoy it.

Reading out loud (and doing the voices).

Having a friend say ‘thank you’ because you showed up when they needed someone.

Telling a friend ‘thank you’ because they showed up when you needed someone.

Making handmade gifts for those you know will appreciate them

Designing and building something.

Taking something old and tired and making it fresh and new and interesting.

Hearing someone say you brightened their day.

Doing something nice for someone in secret.

Deciding to get good at something, and then doing it.

Kitten fur.

Manatee videos.

A husband who looks at you like you are miraculous when you feel like a potato.

Someone who holds on whenever you need it, and never makes you feel like you owe them anything.

A really good burger.

Two-day free shipping.

Dinner parties in sweatpants.

Whole conversations made with only eye contact.

A hot bath with a good book.

Kayaking.

A day in the woods.

Really good sushi (but only the cooked stuff).

Finding something really awesome on a really good sale.

Yelling ‘who are you and how did you get in the house?’ when your kids come into the room.

Kitchen dance parties.

Realizing you got all the cleaning and prep done before the people came over.

Singing broadway show tunes really loudly.

Singing other stuff, also really loudly.

Farting with abandon when no one’s around.

Laughing at how funny you are.

Realizing how glad you are some of your past wishes and prayers did not come true.

Standing outside at night and listening to the earth breathe.

Watching the bats catching insects at sunset.

The otters at the zoo.

Sitting with someone when they realize its been 5 years since they were hospitalized.

My bed.

Eating something you normally don’t eat and allowing yourself to enjoy the hell out of it.

Painting.

Key West.

Harry Potter.

Books. All my precious darlings.

Writing – even when it drives me mad.

Dark Chocolate.

Well. What do you know. Its just a little bit better now.

What’s on your list?

Take care – Kim

Uncategorized

I had a great conversation recently with someone about the current trend of positivity. And how its kinda stupid.

Ok – let me be clear first off. Positivity is GOOD. It is. Positivity is important and it is the foundation that I have built my life upon.

Like most things, the movement to educate people on positivity, and positive thinking started out good. There is good research there. Shawn Achor is one of my absolute favorites, and one of the people leading the charge, using research he’s gleaned from years of practice and scientific study (at Harvard). Here’s his absolutely fantastic TED talk. I watch it about every 3 months when I need a recharge (then I watch Glennon Doyle Melton’s TED talk. You can watch both in about 30 minutes and I really think you should).

Hey – I figured out how to include a link for you guys. The least you can do is go watch it.

Shawn Achor has several books available – I have the first two, ‘The Happiness Advantage’ and ‘Before Happiness.’ They are not only extremely informative, but FUN TO READ. I have talked about them so frequently that my husband had no choice but to get on board. He has stolen borrowed my copies and they now live at work with him. He uses them for team presentations.

Plus, one time I commented on Shawn Achor’s Facebook page and he commented back, so we are friends now.

Ok. Let me make my point here, before I get too far down the rabbit hole.

POSITIVITY IS GOOD. However, like most things American, we have oversimplified it in an attempt to make it quick, cheap, and easy. So the study of positive psychology and real happiness has been dumbed down to ‘just be happy all the time and always find the good in things because everything happens for a reason.’

First, I totally disagree with the platitude that ‘all things happen for a reason.’ Totally disagree. Tell that to someone who has lost a loved one. Or is facing a devastating diagnosis. No, not all things happen ‘for a reason.’ This is the way we attempt to avoid hard emotions. Instead, try this on – ‘you can create meaning out of any circumstance.’ What I mean is this – we have agency in our own lives. Good and bad things will happen – and we can choose to create meaning from those things. The meaning we create shapes our lives (check out Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – one of the pillars of modern psychology and the father of existentialism). One person with a terminal diagnosis might devote themselves to raising awareness. Another might devote themselves to living their best life for the time that remains. Or a hundred other things. They create meaning from their circumstance, and whatever meaning they choose shapes their life. One is not greater than the other.

Second, positivity has nothing to do with being happy all the time.

Tal Ben-Shahar was one of Shawn Achor’s mentors. His books are also good, and I recommend checking them out! Gotta love research-based ideas!

Ok – so I have established that ‘being happy all the time’ is the WRONG takeaway from the positive psychology movement. So what should we take away?


Ahhh. Now we come to the crux of what I mean. True happiness and positivity is about fully experiencing the world around you. The good and the bad. But more, its about how we process that world.

When I found out my job was being eliminated, I was devastated (even though I was also totally burned out). My safe, steady life was gone. Ahead was all this uncertainty.  For many of us, uncertainty is the worst possible outcome. Worse, even, than the bad stuff. Bad stuff we can prepare for. We can take action against. Uncertain is a threat.

But, I am also a firm believer in positive thinking and have put that belief into practice for years. So, after giving myself time and permission to feel all the feelings, I took a deep breath and said ‘In two years, I will look at this as the best thing that could have ever happened.’ As it happens, that was just over two years ago. It was the best thing that could have happened. I was burned out and was physically breaking down. Does that mean everything was easy? Nope, nopity nope nope. It’s been two years of watching the budget really closely, of cutting out non-necessities, of being more worried about money. Its included the stress of starting a business and learning to be ok with some uncertainty. However, by making the decision that this was going to be a good thing, it freed my brain from the energy of worrying about what might happen, and allowed me to focus on making it a good thing. That’s positivity. Its standing knee deep in sh*t and remembering to laugh while you keep firm in your mind the picture of the way it will be.

There’s no ‘right way’ to do this. Its not about being correct or doing things ‘the best’ way. Its about finding resources from many places. Its taking the bits that resonate with you and leaving the parts that don’t. Sometimes I will read a whole book and take away one thought or idea. That’s worth it to me.

So honestly, you can take your ‘be happy all the time and only pay attention to the good stuff’ and strap it to a rocket filled with C4 (I have been watching a lot of Mythbusters).

Pay attention. Life is happening around you and you have to take it all in. Then you decide how you give your energy out. That’s the real key to positive psychology – making an active choice how to experience the good and the bad. Both ‘Before Happiness’ and ‘The Happiness Advantage’ talk about ways to train your brain. They are simple and straightforward ideas as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for each day (different things) in order to train your brain to scan your surroundings for the good. Its reducing the ‘noise’ (Before Happiness) and focusing our energy on improving by paying attention to ways we are successful.

Be cause of COURSE I was going to include Glennon – she’s my favorite!

So, I guess what I’m saying is live REAL. REALLY see the people and things around you. Feel whatever you feel about them. Sometimes the thing that breaks your heart is the thing that spurs you to greatness.

When I take all this in, here’s what I come up with. Real happiness is standing where you are supposed to stand in the universe. So many people are so unhappy – and are not doing anything to change that. Maybe unhappiness (not to be confused with sadness or grief – which are different)is nudge to make a change. Maybe its a constant reminder that we aren’t where WE want to be. But – like unhappiness, real happiness is contagious. When our light shines out, it lights the path for others.

Sometimes the path to happiness is through uncertainty. We need all the lights we can get.

Take care. Let’s light things up.

LIKE AND SHARE!

Kim

Uncategorized

There is still just SO MUCH bad advice out there. And some of it (sort of) sounds like good advice. It sounds wise and thoughtful – especially when layered over beautiful landscape pictures or silhouettes of crying people.

I’m over it you guys. I read out loud a lot. I read to both my kids, and also to my husband because sharing a book that way is one of our ‘times’ together. Sometimes I will be reading and will realize the author did not read it aloud. They missed how awkward it sounds aloud. It doesn’t sound awkward when you read it, just aloud. Our brains tend to correct stuff before we really think about it.

Well, many of these little picture quotes sound like good, sage advice. “Oh my goodness!” we say. “I should use this to shape how I think about everything.”

Except when you actually think about them for a second, its like finding the awkward passage by reading aloud. Instead of awkward, however, it is downright stupid and potentially damaging.

Let us begin.

It got cut off and I’m too annoyed to find another. It says “You can’t love other people until you love yourself.”

Oh – and also I am usually strict about finding attributions to give proper credit for all quotes – but SO MANY people seem to have said something like this. Interesting font, cool black and white chalkboard-y kind of appeal.

So wise, right? NO! This is STUPID! Oh, and before I really get going.

My friend Lauren invented the ‘finger dance.’ Its like a jig where you alternate showing both middle fingers. I’m doing it in my head now.

Let’s unpack this together, shall we?

So, the gist of these two (incredibly stupid) quotes is that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else, and also before anyone can love you.

Now, I grant you that there is the teeniest, tiniest thread of partial truth in that – but we’ll get to that later when we talk about boundaries. Right now we’re talking about love, and therefore this is just horse apples.

Does that mean I someone don’t understand the importance of self-love? No! Self-love is incredibly important. Immensely important. Something you should put time and energy into every moment.

So why am I comparing these quotes on self-love to horse excrement? Well, because it puts the giving and receiving of love as CONTINGENT on loving yourself. That gets the big NOPE from me.

Why? Love is a GIFT. In its pure form it should be given or received freely, without expectation or strings. When it has those other things, its not really love my friends. REAL LOVE does not come with qualifications.

So, what these quotes are telling me is that because I am broken, because I struggle, because I have ‘stuff,’ I am not worthy of giving or receiving love. No. no. no. no. no.

Perhaps someone sees in us what we are struggling to see in ourselves. Perhaps when they give us their love, it is a lesson we can learn in how to receive love – even from ourselves. Perhaps when we feel we are not of value, and the only thing left we have to offer is our love, by giving it (freely) we are reminded that we are a part of a greater whole. By recognizing that, we plant a tiny seed that can be coaxed into love.

Just to be clear – if in our struggle, in our brokenness we see ‘love’ as a commodity, as something we ‘have to’ give or a bargaining piece to maybe get something back so we feel worthy – that is not truly love. And we need to stop calling it love. Its fear wrapped in the need for approval and acceptance, swathed in the sticky strings of believing we have to earn a place in the world.

Which brings us to boundaries. My favorite ‘boundary’ resource is Brene Brown. Her books are great – but if you want the short version, check out her interviews or TED talks on YouTube.

Here is where the plan starts to come together. How many times when ‘love failed us’ can we see after the fact that we did not establish the boundaries of what we could and could not accept.

So, you ask, am I blaming you/us for what we experienced? No! But unless we can start to unpack the baggage we aren’t going to move past it. We fail to set boundaries, largely because we really don’t believe we are in a position to. Beggars can’t be choosers. And yes, believing that you are WORTH setting boundaries is perilously close to loving yourself. Its a stepping stone. Maybe feeling that love is too big a leap, but saying ‘in any relationship with me, this is what I will and won’t accept’ is a big move forward.

Trust me on this. This is hard and messy and it sucks sometimes. It can mean recognizing the love someone offers to you is not enough if it doesn’t respect the boundaries. It can mean that the love you freely offer that person in return means you wish them well – but also means you have to distance yourself.

‘Also the fact that someone else doesn’t love you doesn’t mean you aren’t worth that project.’ – me

There’s the other piece. I said earlier that sometimes when someone else offers us their love, because they see something in us we struggle to see, it can help us learn to love ourselves. That’s absolutely true (that’s why I said it). Its also not simple. We can’t wait around to be rescued by someone else’s love, we can, however, think of them as a Sherpa. We still have to climb the mountain that is learning self-love – but they seem to know the way and maybe they can help guide us.

We may need to detox from that other kind of ‘love.’ It might be messy. It won’t be fun. I’ll be honest – the people around you will probably change. Some will be gone, or less present. Others will emerge. But as you shovel away the bull***t you’ll find the path is a little clearer. You may find that some of those around you also carry shovels.

Take care.

If you enjoyed reading, please LIKE and SHARE!

Kim

Life Logic

I’ve been thinking recently about how many things we see and hear that are utterly and completely meaningless. Pretty picture quotes or memes or platitudes.

Now, I say this will full awareness that I have a wall full of picture quotes in both my home and office. I love quotes. Quotes that encourage. Quotes that make you think. Quotes that light (or kindle) a fire in you. Quotes that give you a different lens or make you consider something in a whole new way.

But . . . can we just address how BAD some of these are? Now, quite frankly I am going to save some of these for another time. I think we’ll start with this little gem.

This quote comes from Angelina Jolie regarding her divorce, and I’ve seen it in about 157 articles, etc, so I can’t give you an attribution for its first publication. But everyone seems to agree it was her, so that seems accurate. It goes like this, “I was very worried about my mother growing up – a lot. I do not want my children to be worried about me. I think its very important to cry in the shower, and not in front of them. They need to know everything is going to be all right, even when they aren’t sure it is.”

Uuugggghhhhhhhh

Ok – first of all, let me just say that crying in the shower is fine. Cry wherever it strikes you to cry. Maybe the shower feels safer and more comfortable. Yes, cry there.

The issue here is hiding emotions to pretend everything is fine in front of your children. I don’t agree with this. At all. I do believe in parental boundaries. I don’t think you share everything with your kids- they are kids! Parental boundaries. Do those things.

Its the hiding. Its the assumption that by crying in the shower your kids somehow don’t know you are hurting. I assure you they do. They know because kids are open and they are often paying far closer attention than we think. So what do we teach them? We teach them that big, hard emotions are to be hidden. They are shameful and secret.

Why not, instead, teach them that adults have big, hard emotions too sometimes. And we struggle with them. But (and this is a really important but) then we take steps to address the situation, manage those big, hard emotions, and care for ourselves.

Let me give you an example. The last couple of years have been tough ones. I’ve had some health issues, major job transitions, crazy schedules, and that’s on top of the regular chaos of raising a family.

I was/am exhausted. Sometimes so much so that I would cry. In front of my children. Because its important that they know that big, hard feelings are part of life – but they don’t have to take over.

Like Angelina Jolie, I did not want my children worrying about me, but frankly if they hadn’t noticed anything was wrong up until this point I wasn’t parenting correctly. We talk a lot about the importance of ‘seeing’ other people – especially those who are hurting.

So we would have some variation of this talk. ‘You know how mom hasn’t been feeling that good? Well, I get really tired, and it makes things hard. And today (this thing) happened and mom is just sad and struggling with that. But I will be ok.’ Maybe I go take a walk. Maybe I go take a bath. Maybe I go meditate. Maybe I ask them to stop firing questions at me for a while (you all know you can do this, right? Totally an option). My kids see me cry. They also see me dry my tears, take a deep breath, engage in self-care, and move on. They usually ask if I want a hug. I tell them ‘yes, I would love a hug. I also want to be sure you know its not your job to make this better. Mom knows what to do, it just takes time.’

Hiding big, hard feelings from your kids doesn’t help them. Its confusing because they SEE YOU, yet you say you are fine. Perhaps they are also supposed to say they are fine when big, hard things are happening in their life. Perhaps they are supposed to cry in the shower where no one can see.

Courage and tears are not exclusive of each other.


Maybe instead of hiding our pain, we thank our children for noticing. We embrace their compassion and teach them the boundaries of being present for someone without being responsible for taking on their hard things. We show them that big, hard things are not insurmountable things and that tears are not weakness. Maybe we take a moment to remember that WE don’t have to assume adults have it all together either.

Life Logic