Skip to content
Advertisements

I feel sorry for murderers

October 5, 2017

Yes, I’m sorry for their victims and the loved ones they and their victims left behind, but I’m starting to view murderers as victims too. Whether they murdered in the name of Allah or Jesus, whether they murdered to “protect” their race, whether they murdered to innact revenge or increase their wallet size, or there was no motive and they were just “psychotic.” There are so many motives for murder – probably a nearly infinite list due to the complexity of being human. And I feel this way because I don’t think anyone is a murderer by choice, and it took some serious amount or depth of anguish for them to arrive at that point to commit such an act, and no one chooses that for themselves.

In the child psychology class I took last Spring, the thing that stuck with me was how much happens in a child’s brain during the formative years. There is so much growth and development happening at the socioemotional level during the entire 18 years, but especially in the first few. How many children are born into “ideal” conditions? It’s easy as an upper middle class white woman to idealize motherhood as this beautiful gift of life filled with a balance of love and snuggles and challenges and tantrums but that it’s all worth it in the end to watch your baby grow and become an amazing contributer to our world in one way or another. But what if you’re a teen mom with absentee parents that never showed you the gift of loving, engaged and disciplinary parenting, and you accidentally got knocked up while searching for belonging in the world around you. You have no job, and now your own future looks bleak, and you’re in charge of raising another? If you didn’t have a good experience in life so far, what kind of hope would you have in raising a child in your world? What kind of resentment might you bring to parenting if you’d never known a healthy relationship? So then your child doesn’t have that solid start in the world that is so important to a healthy well-being. This is a cycle, and one that happens all too commonly in our nation. Take this scenario to the Middle East or Africa, where you are born into a community where violence is the norm on the streets, most often in the name of religion or heritage. Feuds between sects run thousands of years long and it is ingrained in you from birth what is “right” and who is “wrong” and that death is fair punishment for non-compliance. This is all you know. This is all your friend’s and family know. This is all your country knows.

Those are just a couple obvious examples of how people can end up so “evil” – when they have been raised around emotional vacancy and/or violence – what else would they know? But there are others who have had seemingly easy, loving upbringings, and something else “triggers” their violence. This could be any number of things – bullying, major life stress, chronic illness, for example. And perhaps layered with all these life experiences we have varied genetics that affect how our minds and bodies respond to these experiences – the degree to which they impact us; our resiliency. Maybe there is a genetic pre-disposition to a mental disorder that could cause violent behavior. Still, that wouldn’t be the murderer’s fault. Blame their parents, yet again.

On top of the above variables, I will add the health/lifestyle variables. While pharmaceutical companies aren’t big on sharing this info, it is well documented that many lifestyle factors are effective treatments for depression and anxiety.  I know healthy eating, time spent outdoors, and regularly exercise in this country are the exception and not the rule, especially as you move away from the wealthy end of the spectrum. So when this kind of lifestyle isn’t the norm, depression/anxiety are lurking nearby, and we know those things can become a vicious cycle for many that deal with it.

So take all the above, layer on increasing social disconnection as we bury our faces in electronic devices, the mainstream media news that we’re reading on our devices is trying to be provocative and further divide us on emotionally charged issues. Oh, also, I forgot to mention possible environmental toxicity in our air, water, food, clothing…blah blah blah. Basically, there are SO MANY WAYS a person can “become evil” or “go crazy.” It’s not really that unbelievable when you consider all of the above and that many people in our world are living with most of the above. It’s a wonder we don’t see more disgusting, evil things going on. And maybe I’m sheltered since I’m an American upper middle class white woman. My exposure to some of this is limited, but I’ve had my share of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. It has made me feel crazy at times, so I can’t imagine what others with more complex issues feel.

But this is why I feel sorry for murderers (and those that commit suicide). Their pain and desperation from whatever combination of the above or not yet mentioned must be so unbearable that they cannot rationally think or act. I cannot even begin to fathom what goes through their minds when planning or acting out in harming themselves or others, but I know it is dark and full of pain. Even if they claim a motive or some “cause,” it is not some joy they get out of committing evil acts. It is a misguided release of hurt and anger, perhaps an attempt to rid their body of that feeling by ending their life or tranferring it to others. I don’t know, but I truly don’t believe they rationally chose to be there. The pain someone else or something caused them, whether accidental or on purpose, has affected them in a deeply damaging way.

Obviously this has been on my mind due to a recent local teen suicide and the tragedy in Las Vegas. And I’m not bringing up this point in lieu of the need for reform to the manner in which the public can purchase firearms. I just think it’s way more complicated than that. This is a culmination of events and things I’ve been thinking on and reading recently surrounding empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. We want to stay comfortable and be right, but at what cost? It’s something we desperately need more of so that we can start helping each other heal from whatever damage we’ve all taken over the years.

Advertisements

In the eye of the hurricane

September 8, 2017

Read more…

Leftovers

August 8, 2017

I just finally stopped sweating from a sunset jog/walk around the lake, and now I can’t sleep. This is the problem with working out at night, is it generally gives me a second wind, but maybe I should embrace this so I can also do things like write on this blog or clean up the dinner leftovers instead of leaving it for tomorrow…anyway, the 4.9 miles I managed to fit in today feels like a big accomplishment. The fact that I had enough energy to even entertain this thought in the evening after a a fitful previous night’s sleep and long, stressful day at work is kind of a miracle. A workout of any sort, any time of day these days just seems near impossible to me. My back and hips ache from inactivity and my neck has a crick from one of the last times I lifted weights a few weeks ago, and I’m just so mentally tired all the time from the stresses of work and motherhood that doing absolutely nothing is my most prized hobby at this point in life. But, the evenings are unseasonably mild, there’s a lake down the street calling my name at all times, and most importantly, I’m going to be attempting to hike at least one 14,000 foot peak in Colorado in 40 days. It’s time to get serious about my fitness if I don’t want my friends to have to carry me down the trail.

What’s fairly mind-blowing to me is how intimidated I am by this upcoming hiking trip, when just a few years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I was a CrossFitter. CrossFit was LIFE. Fitness and nutrition were LIFE. I never envisioned a future where that wasn’t the case. I got certified in nutritional therapy, I got certified in CrossFit, and I was going to bring real health and fitness and happiness to the world while practicing what I preached. But here I am, lucky to attempt a workout every couple weeks, snacking on gluten-filled pretzels and non-organic cheese (nope, NOT on the paleo diet), 20 pounds overweight, and worst of all, I can’t do pull-ups anymore. I mean, WHO AM I?

I’m a much different person now, and the life events, both good ones and bad ones, have changed and shaped me. So while there may be 20 extra pounds of fluff and less muscle to lift heavy things, I gotta remember my heart is bigger with love for the additional child I grew since I last did a pull-up, and my heart is stronger for all the family challenges and victories we’ve won. So though my heart is my trophy for now, life’s stresses and challenges have taken a toll on my emotional well-being and in turn affecting my physical ability to exercise and eat right (yep – meal planning and prep take way too much energy for me to tackle right now).  I’m mostly trying to ration what little energy I have left these days for my family, and I’m doing a sub par job just giving them my leftovers. I’m a terrible housekeeper, I sometimes do laundry, I rarely cook. I feel like I’m living one day at a time. From Sunday night through Thursday I’m grumpy and feel like I’m barely treading water at life, and then I cheer up for the weekend. I feel bad for my family – they get the worst of me the majority of the week, and I feel frustrated and guilty that it’s not the other way around. They should be the priority, but instead there’s this thing called a job that requires me to be there a lot and attempt to do smart things that make people money. And they pay me good money to be there, so I kinda have to. They’d probably stop paying me and show me to the door if I treated my work the way I treat my family. Luckily, it’s not as easy for my family to fire me, so they keep me around, for now. I know, excuses, excuses, excuses. Well your fitspiration photos can bite me at this point in life.

On the other hand I know there is this person stuck inside this perpetually tired, stressed out, puffier body, that’s really awesome. I’ve got an adventurous and competitive spirit that if I could just get some oomph back in my blood I’d be doing good things for this body that supports me. I’ve got deep, crazy thoughts on life and relationships and spirituality and philosophy and if I just found the energy and time again I’d be sharing them here, gaining that liberating feeling for my nonstop racing thoughts that only writing brings me.  And I love my family and friends so much that it hurts and feels overwhelming during the stressful times, so I just shut down and pray they’ll continue to believe in me and support me. I dream of a day where my energy is balanced and I can overwhelm them with love and laughter. That person is in here, tapping impatiently to climb her way out. Until then, I’m going to start celebrating the small wins that help me find my way back to my true self. And hopefully that also means I’ll be able to celebrate not blowing a lung or a knee on a mountain in the near future.

The pursuit of happiness

April 27, 2017

Trying to sell our house may well be one of the most uncomfortable situations we’ve ever chosen to put ourselves through. We just never expected it to be this hard with the way this market has been and with the amount of work we’ve done to update this home. We are not naive to real estate – Ronnie used to be a real estate agent and we’ve seen every episode of every buying and selling and flipping show ever on HGTV. We listed with an experienced and successful agent late last Summer and through the Fall, with very little traffic and only a few that showed interest but ended up choosing something else. Our entire neighborhood was slow during that time (I follow everything on the market over here with email alerts), but when we saw houses selling in a matter of days in February, we decided to list ourselves and take advantage of the hot streak. But that was mid-March and here we are, almost May, with no offers. We get little bites now and then, but the people most interested usually aren’t ready to buy or would rather be on the other side of the State Line. It’s somewhat baffling when we see what sells quickly and often at higher price points than ours. We’re beginning to wonder if there’s a curse, or maybe we are just blind.

The toughest part is the feeling of temporary living. We packed up a ton of stuff to de-clutter (which, makes me breathe easier too so maybe that stuff will just stay in storage!), but due to needing to be ready for showings, we never feel like we can just relax. On evenings that we don’t pick up after ourselves, it feels really stressful, like what if someone calls and wants to come see the house tomorrow morning? It’s always a thought in the back of my mind when I’m in a hurry, multitasking and not doing household chores, but sometimes you don’t want to live like a model home. You want to actually LIVE and not just clean! There are things that we don’t do now purely because it’s not worth the mess, and I don’t like not having that freedom to just be us in our own home. Not for this long!

And it’s such a vulnerable, personal thing to have people constantly coming into your home and basically judging you. If they don’t like something, or don’t love the house enough to make an offer, I take every one of those rejections personally. I try not to, and I know I shouldn’t, but this is our home, a place we’ve worked hard to make nice, so any negative feedback just feels like an insult. Homes are so personal! But that thinking has also lead me down another path – I’ve learned that I don’t want to be defined by my material belongings. This whole home selling thing and trying to figure out what we want in our next home and the things we truly value in this life has got me really anti-materialism. I know that our family and our quality of life is so much more than the size of our home and the finishes in it. That’s up to us to define and no one else. You don’t like our lack of landscaping and far from pristine lawn? Well, let me tell you about the fun things we did and the memories we made playing in the yard with the girls or sitting on the patio enjoying cocktails together instead of doing yard work. You don’t find the musky scent of two giant dogs refreshing? Well let me tell you about all the puppy snuggles on the couch and lazy Sunday naps we’ve shared with our beloved furry family members. There’s so much more to life than this house, our cars, our clothes, our bank accounts.

When this house finally sells, we are dreaming of a simpler life. One that might be on the outskirts of town with some acreage to hike and hunt on. Or maybe it’s a small lake community. Whatever it is, we want our next home to be an escape to nature and away from the stress of modern life. While we aren’t going all hipster-tiny-house-family, we do want something small and functional, but at this point we aren’t picky. Something we can pay off soon that isn’t a financial burden. We are focusing on the life we want to create for us and our girls. Simpler, more natural, more intentional. Fresh air and time and space to breathe.

In the meantime, until this house sells, I just tell myself that our future home isn’t ready for us yet, and the perfect future homeowner of this place isn’t ready yet either. There’s a plan, that’s on different timing than I prefer, but in the end, it will be the perfect timing. So we live one day at a time, learning lessons to stay in the present and not get too carried away with the future. Isn’t that how we should be living every day, no matter our circumstances? Isn’t being truly present and having gratitude in the current moment where we find real joy? Dear God, I’m listening.

This moment in time

March 14, 2017

My daughters – so alike and so different. And changing so fast. I see the Facebook Memories from 1 year ago to 5 years ago and I’m transported to another world. Even one year ago and I cannot believe how much has changed. So I need to document these things, before they are distant memories again, or worse, before I forget.

Skyler – “The Sweet One,” since the birth of your sister and contrast with her personality, this is your current nickname. You have such a kind and giving soul. Catholic school was seemingly made for you as you take to heart the lessons taught by Jesus. Lately some of the girls at school have been teasing you to the point of tears, and when our first reaction as pissed off parents is to tell you to stand up for yourself and dish it back, you immediately point out that “Jesus said to turn the other cheek.” But when we come back with “but the Bible also said an eye for an eye,” you respond “makes the whole world blind.” Ugh, I love your innocence and heart of gold! I wish I could protect it forever. You have your fair share of fire, too. You are still a sore loser and have learned not to play anything you can’t do well at. Watching you jump up and down to celebrate shooting a basket at a game gives me so much pride and joy. And your learning to love reading and have already started to notice how it makes you better at writing. You read a book and then decide to write a book. I love watching the wheels turn and seeing that spark ignite in you. Sometimes I think with your artistry and your writing and your faith, you are like a mini-me. But you got that spunk – sense of humor and quick-temper from your Daddy. I hope and pray all these qualities are never squelched – whether by peer pressure or lack of self confidence or idiot teacher. I want you to embrace these gifts that are uniquely you and use them to power your future without a doubt in your mind. You are such an amazing gift to this world.

Layla – “The Crazy One,” who keeps us on our toes and makes us question our parenting abilities that we thought were on point after your sweet sister was so easy and so good. You’ve challenged us since before you were born. Your name means “dark beauty” or “intoxication with wine,” which is SO fitting. You are like a crazy little drunk person and you drive me to drink! We like to joke that you are our little boy, the into-everything, always-moving, eat-anything-on-the-floor, accident-prone type. And you are all hot or cold – there’s rarely anything in between. If you are holding something you shouldn’t have and we take it and tell you no, you act like your heart has been broken into a thousand pieces, and you run to the other parent for consoling. You love to smile and say hi to strangers, but you’ve been fussing in nearly every car ride ever since we brought you home from the hospital. I finally figured out the other day that if I gave you a bag of veggie straws to snack on in the car, you didn’t complain. Go figure, tubby likes to eat! Which lately, I can’t feed you enough. Even though you don’t want much while it’s mealtime in your high chair, you are constantly pointing at our food, eyeballing whatever anyone else has, even if it’s the same thing you had that you threw on the floor or fed to the dogs. Or you’re in the pantry looking for a snack there or just pointing and whining at the kitchen for SOMETHING. It’s never enough! And bananas, speaking of never enough, there are never enough bananas in a day for you. You are a monkey. Right now, you’ve learned to shake your head “yes” with a big grin to almost any question we ask you, even if you have no idea what we are talking about. And you love to help out by carrying your dirty diaper to the trashcan and closing the lid once you’ve tossed it. You march around the house, pumping just one arm in determination, as you move from one task to another. But God forbid I leave the room, even if you were playing contently by yourself. You are Momma’s Girl for sure, even though when I’m gone you think your Daddy is the coolest. You used to adore your Big Sis, but now that you’ve got some independence, you are showing her some sass. You squeal in protest if she tries to pick you up, and you hit her in the face if she gets in your space. The best is how you kick her nonstop from your carseat all the way to drop her off from school. You can’t help but be obnoxious. You are very much the personality of your father, and it’s adorable. I am exhausted by you but yet pray that time will slow down so we can keep you adorable and hilarious for a little longer.

Both of you girls are so amazing and so different. I pray we continue to learn how to help you both continue to grow into your true selves and that we can protect you from those people and things that try to dim your light. You are both such wonderful gifts to this world.

Things that matter

February 17, 2017

I shouldn’t even be taking the time to write this. I should be working, or studying, or cleaning, or showering. But I haven’t written in several weeks and I’m so sick of doing all the “have to’s” and not having any time or energy left to do the “want to’s,” so damn it I’m writing.

My Badass book said something about how when things finally click for you and you decide that thing that you really want to go for (your calling I guess), and you’re all Gung ho and moving in that direction, Murphy’s Law or maybe it’s Satan tries to get in the way and create obstacles that feel like a sign that maybe you made the wrong decision and should go back to playing it safe. And it feels like that’s exactly what’s happening. My job has been unfulfilling for quite some time and I finally figured out I wanted to go back to school for psychology.  About a month ago I signed up for a class to get started meeting the prerequisites of a Master’s program, was getting up early to make quiet time and exercise for myself a priority, and was all Positive Polly since I had it figured out. Nothing was stopping me. And then yet another person from our department quit (I think that makes 5 in the last 6 months or so?) with no sign of backfilling any of those positions in sight. My own team is half the size it was a year ago but responsible for more work. So when I should be studying a subject I enjoy and spending time with my family, I’m working nights and weekends to do even more unfulfilling work. I’m staying up really late to do work and not getting much sleep and thus not waking up early for probably the most important time of the day, my “me time.” I stopped going for walks with my coworkers in the afternoons because we all just have too much to do. Now and then I have a discussion or meeting that involves building relationships or collaboration or conflict resolution and those things get me really excited and motivated (hence why I want to study psychology) and I have hope that I can impact things that matter at work. But then I get quickly buried in the mundane  work work work that clients are actually paying for and I never have time to do the good stuff. Complete opposite the direction I want to be going and it’s making me super cranky.

On top of the above, I made goals this year to connect with friends and family more and I feel like that’s just silly right now. One of my best friends is fighting cancer and I feel like I can barely keep up with her. What’s funny is SHE feels guilty that she’s been so busy fighting cancer that she hasn’t kept up with me – how ridiculous is that?!?! I don’t answer calls or texts from people because I’m in the middle of work. My kids are growing up at lightning speed and right now and I don’t feel like I can just relax and enjoy them. My husband and I haven’t been on a date since sometime in December and we’ve been unable to secure a babysitter successfully for awhile. In this kind of situation I used to take a day off work just so we could have a day date while the girls are at school/daycare, but if I did that right now it would just guarantee I’d be in the office the following Saturday.

There’s a glimmer of hope that something at work will change soon and I’ll get some balance back, but I don’t know how long that will take and I don’t know how long I can take this. The morale across the team is so low, every day I come in wondering who will be resigning next and how much more work we’re going to have to figure out how to shoulder. I cry almost every night when everyone goes to bed and I’m stuck with writing reports and insights for stuff that in reality JUST. DOESN’T. MATTER! I’ve looked around at other job openings in the city but there’s nothing that I care to make the effort for. It all just seems like more of the same. One thing I’ve learned and realized through this is how my coworkers and I have built up some great friendships and at least we have each other, right? Misery loves company. But for real we are encouraging each other and helping each other and trying to become better people through this, and I don’t want to leave that for some place new. I hold out hope that things will get better where I’m at.

I don’t really know how to end this post. Normally I try to wrap things up positively or whatever but I’m just here. It’s where I’m at. And I should get back to working or taking care of my sick kid, since I’m doing both on this beautiful Friday.

So emo

January 27, 2017

Now that Trump has taken office and got busy right away doing things, I find myself incredibly emotional. And probably not in the way that a lot of people are. I’m emotional about all the emotion that I’m hearing about at work and seeing on Facebook. There is SO much anger and angst. Empathy is a strength of mine but right now it feels like a weakness as I soak up all the feels of those around me. It’s overwhelming and I’m seriously considering taking a break from Facebook for awhile because I need to filter the outside emotions out so I can actually feel myself for a bit.

But then I feel guilty if I turn off Facebook, turn off the news, put on my headphones and ignore people talking about things. Does that make me an ostrich with my head in the sand? Does that make me part of the problem as a someone with white privilege that can just turn it off and ignore what’s going on in the world and be fine? When I shut all that out, I see and hear my daughters and husband right in front of me, and the only thing that really matters is them. I focus on us, and doing whatever it is that helps us become better people while enjoying life as much as possible. Half the problems in this country I think are the end result of the fall of family values, so my current job of trying to turn out offspring that are decent and smart people isn’t a walk in the park and has some nobility to it. On top of it I spend time bettering myself – right now it’s studying and learning about child development in the class I’m taking, so someday I can be more impactful in my career and make a positive difference in this world. Is that so wrong?

I’ve made a goal this year to be more present – does that mean present in the lives of my nearest and dearest and my own self, or present in the community and the world and the apparent strife that’s unraveling? Sometimes I wonder if any of that “out there” is even real – I don’t actually see it or experience it in everyday life. The “issues” aren’t big issues to me. Again, there goes my white privilege in assuming everything is fine because it’s fine with me and my circle. Maybe I’m living in the Truman Show or the Matrix or part of a simulation experiment ran by higher beings.

But then when I decide to get out of my bubble and try to pay attention to what’s going on out there I get overwhelmed with the search for truth. I don’t know what or who to believe anymore when I look through the news on various issues. That empathy thing comes into play again as I find myself identifying with both sides of most every issue that everyone is so upset about and I again feel guilty that I can’t truly side with anyone. Like no matter which way I think, it must be wrong if so many people can feel so strongly the other way. I struggle to piece together the facts when everyone reporting has an agenda. I find myself with paralysis by analysis and then panic that I can’t figure out the answer in order to even form an educated opinion on the situations at hand. It seems so clear to everyone out there but I just can’t accept everything as it is. It’s one part conspiracy theory that there is way more to this than anyone on either side realizes, and the other part that I default to believing that everyone really has goodness in their heart and means well. My faith leads me to think “WWJD” and I think the answers get simple but no one out there is trying to do anything simple!

It’s exhausting and confusing. Nothing is black or white. I can’t stand labels and restrictive thought. I just want peace and joy for myself, my loved ones, and everyone in the whole wide world. I wish everyone would take a chill pill, love themselves and each other and those they don’t agree with, and rather than resting on their laurels and assuming things are fine or running around hands in the air spreading fear, recognize that things aren’t perfect and never will be, and then decide what part they can play to make this world a better place. I mentioned previously that I want to be more active in a charitable way from now on, especially with my time and talents. And I’m going back to school to study psychology and counselling in hopes that I can apply that knowledge and skills to have a more positive influence on those around me and hopefully work that into a more fulfilling career. I know I have so much good to give this world so I’ve gotta get busy giving it in whatever way I can NOW.

So if I seem distracted, MIA from social media, playing the devil’s advocate, crying in a corner, obsessed with my family, or just plain enjoying life, it’s just me trying to figure out this maze. I’m just doing my best and can forget the rest! Thanks Tony Horton. Lame Beachbody joke. If you know, you know. Nevermind.

Signed,

Pollyanna