Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Death by Qualifiers and/or Comparison

Taking a walk earlier this week, I found myself going in circles, literally.  It was too hot and humid to walk outdoors and 11 laps around the first floor lobby equal one mile.  I was walking at a fairly brisk pace and there was two people walking that I lapped not once but twice (once I started noticing). When I compared myself to the speed/progress they were making, I felt pretty good.  Yet for all the comparison, did it change one thing about my progress?

So I had to start thinking about comparison.  And here is the deal.  Depending on how you use it, you are either trying to make yourself feel better about who you already are....or tearing yourself down for all you are any given category.  And at the end of the day, comparisons do not effect change.

It starts out innocently enough.  As new moms, we might compare where our children are at in their development.  Fair enough.  However, I remember a story my mom would tell me about my dad.  He was very concerned that a baby around my same age had more teeth than me.  He didn't feel better until mom pointed out that developmentally, I was much more advanced (crawling).  And so it begins.  By the time kids reach the teenage years, a parent might say "my kid is no saint, but at least he isn't as bad as her kid."

Upon further reflection, the things I battle with are the things I tend to "shop around" for comparisons.  This could be age/weight related, how well I do my yoga (or not well), my clothing choices, height, degree of happiness....the list could go on and on.

What is the gain?  Why do you or me need to feel better (or worse) when compared to another person? What does it change for/in us?

with no qualifier or comparison!
Don't get me wrong.  Not all comparison is bad if used properly.  For example, if you are comparing a fruit dessert versus an ice cream sundae....forge ahead.  I would say there is NO COMPARISON but that depends on what you want to accomplish.

And while we can make ourselves feel pretty darn miserable by playing the solitaire game of comparison, there is something worse.

Have you ever had something you did (or didn't) do, something you are (or are not) compared to someone/something someone who allegedly loves you?  (Think - why can't you be more like your _______?)

Even a hero is determined by comparison to others and their actions (or lack thereof).

This was really brought home the other day when I was listening to a podcast called "Where should we begin" featuring the iconic relationship therapist Esther Perel.  She is sharing conversations with ten participating yet anonymous, couples who are seeking to better understand the details of "their story".  The stories all varied but some of the questions asked by the therapist still haunt me.  One line in particular was  "How does it feel to be someones disappointment for almost 20 years?" Another question she asked, and I continue to ponder is "Do you want to be right, or do you want to listen?"  Wow.

That brings me to the "almost" apology.  It starts out strong..."I am sorry" and then it is all taken back with the word "but".  I am sorry but...if you would listened; if you would have told me; if you would have....quick, get rid of any accountability at this point and render your apology worthless.  The same thought for comparison can begin "I love you, but".  ARGH.  What part of unconditional love is missing from this equation?

And finally, if it's not bad enough that we compare, and are compared, when we are just a tad more confident, we qualify what we are saying.  "Wow, you look pretty good for a ___year old".  Why can't we just look pretty good?  Or even better, pretty???  Or, "you look pretty good for someone who just had a baby?"  Again, same thought process.  Maybe if we have to qualify, we should just downgrade our initial assessment to more accurately reflect reality.  How about "Wow, you look ok".  Or maybe just "wow".

Can you imagine what the world would like like (assuming I am comparing it to now) if we spent as much time on our manners, our actions, choosing our words, being the answer to someone else's prayer for that day, rather than worrying about who might be smarter, prettier, thinner, happier (etc etc)?

I can't speak for the masses but I will say this for me, I have got to be kinder to myself.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bikini Bias

In listening to podcasts, attending conferences and just reading for self improvement for fun, I have recently been confronted with (fill in the blank) bias.  It could be opportunities to test for racial bias, male (or female) bias, you get the drift.

I need truth in advertising
It's all very interesting to me because we all like to believe that we are cool with everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, politics, etc.  It's just not the case.

When taking the different quizzes, it quickly becomes apparent that some decisions we make are solely based on all the wrong things.  It could be a deep seated thought or feeling that was instilled when we were young,

And sometimes, what we think and feel, pop up at the most interesting times,  

Just when I thought I was able to recognize all things about me....biased, I had to confront a recent revelation.

What are those bikini bottoms called where there really isn't any "bottom" at all.  You know what I am talking about...the small triangle of fabric preventing frontal nudity but the bottom is basically a string that disappears once it is worn.

Okay,  I am not a prude and I have become quite familiar with seeing all types of swimwear (both male and female) while at the beach, on cruises or even at the local water park.  But I feel justified in drawing the line when I am out to dinner.

So here is what happened.  We (Mr. French and I) are out of town and just walking around looking for a "local" spot to enjoy adult conversation and dinner. Anything "chain" was eliminated because we always want to go for the experience.  We certainly got an experience that night,

We saw a very popular Sports Bar and Grill (judging by the parking lot) so we approached.  Two waitresses were sitting out front to greet us.  They did have on long sleeved halter type tops but hey - no big deal.  After exchanging pleasantries, I said "having a good night?"  One of the girls said "ehhh" so I just said "it's never fun when you are working."  She said the sweetest thing..."No, it's not that, I just see you two holding hands and I would really like a boy to hold my hand."

So nice, And we still do hold hands.  So in we went to the restaurant.  Mr, French was already looking at all the TV;s with a plethora of sports featured as we quickly grabbed a table.  Our waitress handed us the menus and took our order.  Once she turned to go walk away, a few things quickly became apparent.  SHE ONLY HAD ON SWIM SUIT BOTTOMS.  And by SWIM SUIT BOTTOMS, I mean what I referenced earlier,  Terry's face was as red as the ketchup bottle on the table.  He quickly immersed himself in the table top design.  I, on the other hand, began to take stock of my surroundings. Right away I saw I was severely over dressed for this venue.  In fact, for most of our time there, I was the only woman customer.

All the girls were very young and very slim.  We discussed the type of body you would have to have in order to work there,  This was validated when we saw a "normal size" girl relegated to clearing off tables, fully dressed.

And that is when I became aware of my bikini bias.  

Unless there was a Olympic sized pool in the center of the bar, and all channels were turned to swimming, I had a hard time justifying why this was still allowed (and happening without warning) in this day and age.  Comparing this sports bar to Hooters, makes Hooters look classy, and I have never been in one.  

And could have gone a long time before going in this type of "sports" bar.  Not conducive to the young girl outside just wanting to hold hands,

I felt bad for the girls (and they couldn't have been much more than 21 - if that).  I felt bad that they thought this okay for them.  All this while attending a conference and even speaking on a panel regarding women leaders - how far have we come?

I would have to say - not far enough.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Proceed with Caution!

Proceed with caution!
As we were coming home from church on Sunday, we noticed the entrance ramp onto the highway was closed,  There were detour signs posted and we mindlessly followed the postings.  Right away, we realized we were heading in the opposite direction of where we were supposed to be going.  Mr. French said "What kind of detour is this?".  We stayed with it and after a couple of miles out of route, we were back on the highway, heading in the direction of home.

This week when I went to the dentist, I was scheduled for a cleaning only, however, x-rays revealed that a few old fillings were failing and needed to be fixed.  The doctor said they could work me in RIGHT THEN if I was so inclined.  Instinctively I wanted to say "NO".  This was not the direction I envisioned for my day.  However, by allowing myself to say yes to "the detour" I avoided much of the anxiety associated with an upcoming dental visit.  I pondered this as I enjoyed the loud sound effects of the drill while my mouth was propped open with a "mouth assistant".

So then I had to start thinking how many times we have a plan for a day, vacation, career, family....heck, life in general.  And things just don't go as planned...or don't work out at all.  At that moment in time, wouldn't it be such a blessing if signs instantly appeared saying "detour"?  We could then quickly divert and just follow a new route.

Because eventually, we do follow another path when things don't work out.  We may intentionally think the situation over and try to make sense of next steps.  We may prayerfully seek guidance. Other times we simply react.  This can lead us to take the scenic route or the road less traveled.  We may bypass all the detour signs that life has thrown at us and prefer to go off-road to make it work.

Eventually we will have to stop.  Stop and review the situation.  Consider how we got to where we are now.  Consider other routes.  Obviously, the detour on the highway coming home did not stop us from wanting to get home.  It just changed the way we needed to go.

Not all detours are as bad as they initially seem.  Before Mr. French and I met, we had each traveled different roads.  We had no idea when the roads we were on ended, where life's detours would take us. Yet here we are.  Together.  Twenty plus years later, still loving (and liking) each other through the many seasons of marriage.  We are a result of previous life detours.

And now we navigate life's detours as a couple.  It's funny how things work out.

So, when life (instead of baseball) throws your a curve ball, shift your perspective.  The outcome of what happens next, will depend on the choices you make.

Until next time,

Your pal,

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