Is it you or are you surrounded by assholes?
Having kids really does show you what you're made of. It also shows you what the people nearest to you are really focused on.
How do you live an authentically happy life? There are a lot of aspects to being happy, one of the big ones for me is Being Around Like Minded People. If your life is a lovely quilt then you need to create the pattern of love by cutting out people that make your world ugly. For example, I went on a trip and the weather dropped 25 degrees and I had forgotten to leave my heat on. So I naturally asked around to see who could drop by my place and turn on the heat. Only one person was happy to help me and it really made me think. This was a chance to learn a really valuable lesson: don't surround yourself with people who take and don't give.
Several years ago I had a New Years resolution of being more selfish. It was a great journey of learning about setting boundaries and putting joy before unnecessary help. Now I really understand that I can't be loving towards my family if I'm not loving towards myself.
One of the biggest eye openers I had in my first year of parenting was that I was kind of surrounded by assholes. Don't get me wrong, I can be an a-hole too; we all have our bad days when we aren't living up to the kind of people we know we can be. But as I really looked around my life I realized how many people were just not kind to be around.
3 ways to know if you're surrounded:
What is the last nice thing someone said to you? As I have had different phases of clearing out friends I have really learned to think and listen. Often I discover that someone in my life has not sad a single nice thing to or about me for years.
Who would water your favorite plant if you went away? I know this sounds silly, but give it some thought. Who would water your plant? It is not about finding people who will do things for you but having people who want to see you happy.
Are you happier after spending time with your friends? This can be a painful answer to have to give. Sometimes you will realize you feel worse after spending time with a friend. One close friend of mine was always subtlety putting me down so I would feel bad after spending any time with them but I could never quite put my finger on why.
It is surprising to realize how many people around us aren't really nice people. I talk with other moms and it is a common feeling. We are all busy, sure. We're all a bit distracted, ok, but are we really all kind? Practice kindness in your life towards your children, your family and yourself but don't accept anything less than kindness from your friends. Is it you or are you surrounded by assholes?
5 free ways to entertain your toddler this summer
Any mama on a budget understands how hard it can be to come up with fun outings that don't end up costing a bunch. I love doing something fun with my little guy every week during the summer to break up our routine just a bit and give us quality time for fun without mom worrying whether the dishes are washed or the deadline has been met.
Pick wild fruit. My son firmly believes blackberries are perfect for both body war paint and eating. We spend all summer picking wild berries and singing the yummy in our tummy song while walker-by's hurry up to avoid us.
Build mini rock forts at the beach. My toddler isn't quite big enough to build drift wood forts so we stick to building with materials that help him feel big and powerful.
Spot minnow in the creek. There are a couple great creeks near our town and my son is just starting to enjoy looking over the little edge and splashing his feet. Bring a towel and some diaper wipes for the muddy feet.
Be pirates for an afternoon at the playground. Wearing fun outfits and being silly are as part of our week as bouncing on mom while she does yoga. I love making the every day of playground play a little bit more magical or silly.
Collect moss or leafs in the forest. We do lots of short forest walks in the warm months and my son loves finding sticks for both of us so he can beat small plants and cackle at his misdeeds.
Whatever your summer plans are there are always fun ways to play with a little one that doesn't cost anything. Take their playtime as a reminder to be freer and play too. Adults can learn a lot from toddlers; be focused on fun, feel deeply in the moment and hug your mom.
Getting rid of internal ageism. The ever present disordered thinking when it comes to age is one of the biggest killers of our joy as we age. What about aging scares you? I know too many women who don't enjoy themselves because they are so worried about getting older. I am getting older, you are getting older and we don't have to be scared. Getting old is a pretty cool privilege. I'm so excited to greet each year of life, to watch my son grow up and to see each year how many people I can help be happy and live vividly. It's an honor to be alive and when I start to freak out over a wrinkle that no longer goes away when I'm not smiling I remember that life is for living not for fearing death.
Lets break apart a few common concerns about aging:
Your family leaving you alone. This is a big fear I hear from retired family. A sense that their children are too busy for them, that their grand-kids won't know them and that in the end they'll be alone. Building strong bonds with your children as they transition into adulthood will save you a lot of worry down the road. This means being present and mindful as a parent. Once your children have jobs, families and obligations of their own keep in touch and be helpful. Send a box subscription, mail the grand kids snacks or call and ask how their day is going. All these little things will help lessen worries of being left alone.
Becoming less attractive and not being wanted around as you age. This seems to be a really big one for women hitting middle age. Guess what ladies? You're amazing! And, in all honesty, you age way better than men. Think about it, I see amazing lovely and talented women over 50 all the time but men over 50 have a much steeper decline in looks and energy. So when a man, and trust me it's always a dude, tells you that younger girls are sexier just know that it isn't true and you will always be wanted.
Do you fear being isolated and ignored as you age? One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give to both women and men is to cultivate relationships that will grow with you as you age. As a mom it can be imposable for me to get out and spend time with anyone that isn't my toddler. But I make a big effort to see my sisters, my brothers, a friend or two and my extended family regularly. When I can't see them I send emails and cards in the mail with photos and stories. Staying connected will make aging so much easier.
Aging isn't simple for us emotionally but it can be a wonderful thing to grow older and know what makes you happy. Do something every week that will make you happier in 10 years. Live an amazingly vivid life and don't let fear control how you age.
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