Why Not?

I saw this list on Buzzfeed yesterday and was instantly full of glee at #3 – so much so that I installed a notepad app on my phone to remind me to put googly eyes on items in my own fridge.

As soon as Erik left the house this morning I set to work using super glue, a permanent marker and some frosting eyes left over from my birthday cake. Here’s the glorious result:

1460090_10154852566510008_7525712342777031031_n 10447847_10154852568710008_6380951959616857932_nWhy would I spend twenty minutes doing this instead of getting ready for work? The better question is why NOT?

The Marriage Date

Just texted my boo and asked him on a date. [Insert goofy smile here.] We have been dying to see Dumb and Dumber To since we heard about it over the summer, and it’s finally coming to the Reel Mountain Theater on Friday! I could hardly contain my excitement as I formulated our plan to go get pizza at the new “New York style” woodfired joint in town. Being from the East Coast, I am wishing and hoping that this place gets it right…

What could be more exciting than a date between two people who are married to each other? (I was going to type “two married people” but then realized that could mean two people who are having an affair.) There’s something so innocently charming about going on a date with your husband. I can’t explain it.

One of the most touching gifts I received when we got married was a letter from my Aunt Cheryl that was filled with marriage advice. I read that letter from time to time and think about how spot on it is.

Have date night.

Talk to each other.

Eat dinner together.

From klipd.com

From klipd.com. I think Erik would be Harry because he’s nicer, so that makes me Lloyd.

It goes on, but check, check, check. Eating dinner at the table together has been one of the greatest investments we’ve made in our marriage. Not only does it give us time to sit down, look at each other and talk, it’s turned into a family tradition. Not his family, not my family: OUR family.

The word “investments” just caught my eye. Investing doesn’t sound romantic, does it? It works though. My mom always told me that marriage is hard work, and I believed her, and I still think it’s true. I’m skeptical when I hear people say, “Marriage shouldn’t be ‘work.’” Hmm. No? Then why is it a commitment not to be taken lightly? Why does it involve legalities and ceremonies if it’s not going to be hard?

Stepping off my soapbox. Anyway, enjoy your marriage dates, your time at the dinner table, and keep talking to each other. We all change, and the only way you’re going to keep your marriage fun (and not miserable) is by finding out who your significant other has become today.

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Shedding Expectations

This one has been on my mind a lot recently: expectations, and what a killer they are.

When my wedding was a month away I started telling people that I was lowering my expectations so I wouldn’t be disappointed in how the day turned out. They were shocked and appalled, and told me how depressing that was, but I didn’t understand why. Lowering your expectations doesn’t mean you think you’re going to have a shitty wedding: it means that if you keep your hopes low, you’re going to have an amazing day.

Spoiler alert: it worked. I didn’t care when the DJ played the wrong version of our first dance song, when my bustle came undone and I had to hold my skirts up, or when everyone left early and didn’t get to see the killer going-away dress I had changed into.

Here’s another example: I thought being engaged was supposed to be the best year of your life. I was constantly disappointed that year. I really don’t have any fond memories from 2012; as a matter of fact, I remember every single awful thing that people said to me, the horrible ways they acted, the way this major life highlight was ignored, etc., etc.

As I continue this trek I’ve started, I’m realizing how damaging your own expectations can be. They don’t start out that way. You learn relationship and societal cues from the environment you observe. Cape Gramma treated Mom and Aunt Marlowe like her own daughters, so naturally I thought it would be the same with my mother-in-law. My expectations were not met; thankfully I have a great step-mother-in-law to ease the pain a little bit.

I thought I’d be an adult and own a house by the time I was 30. My expectations were not met.

I thought I’d be a faster runner. My expectations were not met.

I could go on, but you get the point. These self-created, environmentally-cued expectations do more damage than harm. If I had not expected my mother-in-law to care about me, I would not be so hurt and consumed by her actions. If I had not expected to own a house, I would not feel embarrassed that I don’t. If I had not expected to be a faster runner, I would not feel disappointed in my race times.

How do you shed expectations? I don’t know! I might try setting realistic expectations based on facts I know. For example, based on past behavior, I expect my mother-in-law to be involved in my sister-in-law’s life but not mine. It becomes harder to be angry and disappointed simply because I’ve shifted my mindset. Instead of expecting my mother-in-law to have a relationship with me, I’ve realized that not all MIL-DIL relationships are the same. Not all MILs can be Cape Gramma!

In essence, lowering your expectations is another road to acceptance. It’s not depressing, it’s not pessimistic, it’s not wrong. It’s another weapon in your arsenal of happiness – does that sound like a depressing view?!

Communication, Astrology-Style

I’ve been wondering about communication styles, so I’m reading up on Mercury throughout the signs and applying them to my own relationships.

AriesLet’s start with the people I have no trouble communicating with. Melissa and I both have Mercury in Aries, which would explain why she’s so easy to talk to. I never really have to explain myself to her or worry about offending her. We’re both quick, honest and frustrated when someone doesn’t grasp our opinion. A conjunct match made in heaven!

LibraDea has Mercury in Libra, making our match an opposition. While that may sound bad, it’s not. We are a problem-solving dynamic duo because we complement each other perfectly.

Caitlin has Mercury in Gemini, a sextile combo with my Aries Mercury. Enjoyable, easy and fun.

Aunt Marlowe has Mercury in Leo, so our match is trine. Boy is it ever! We enjoy learning from each other, working together, sharing ideas and find it easy to communicate.

CancerHere come the squares, which I find complicated. There are a lot of Mercury Cancers (Erik, Emily and my boss) and Mercury Capricorns (Mom, Aunt Cheryl, a former boss and my MIL) in my life. A square is supposed to cause friction which from my understanding can either be a great source of frustration and irritation or a challenge that makes things more interesting. Quite frankly, I was very surprised to know that Emily, my boss, and Aunt Cheryl are square to my Mercury. I find it easy to communicate with them all. Sure, we don’t always see eye to eye, but I don’t consider our interactions to be frustrating. I do have trouble sometimes with Erik and my mom, but in different ways: Mom and I easily enter into a pissing contest with each other, whereas Erik takes too long to answer my questions.

CapricornI was not surprised to see that my Mercury was square to my MIL and former boss. Another unexpected surprise is that they were both born in a Mercury retrograde phase. Again, this is not entirely a bad thing, but does make them susceptible to some communication differences: most notably, careful communication which really does not jive with my lightning-fast Aries Mercury.

VirgoFinally, two people I’ve consistently had miscommunications with were found to both be Virgo Mercuries, making us inconjunct. I just found an interesting statement about this on astromarkt.net: “It is like talking in a disconnected phone when you are face to face.” Personally, this seems much worse than a mere square. The author also compares it to sitting on a seesaw and expecting the other person to move without moving yourself. I thought that analogy is fitting especially for one of the people I’m referring to.

Once again, astrology has helped me to gain an understanding of my interactions with people. If nothing else, it helps me create realistic expectations and serves as a reminder to not take things personally (which is exceptionally difficult with an Aries Mercury).

Boundaries

For the first time in my life, I’m learning what it means to set and maintain boundaries. It’s tough work, for a few different reasons:

I have to ask myself, “What do I want from this relationship?” In all honesty, I want it to be something completely different, and that’s not possible. There comes a time in life when you realize you just can’t have the Full House experience in your family; you can’t force an in-law to care about you; you can’t make someone interested in being your friend when they just don’t want to be.

So then, what IS important to get from difficult but necessary relationships? There’s a nifty thing called the Personal Bill of Rights, and it goes something like this:

I have the right to express my emotions, regardless of what they are.

I have the right to be unafraid in your presence.

I have the right to communicate honestly and assertively.

I have the right to say “yes” or “no” without explaining why.

I have the right to remove myself from a conversation if it gets insulting or dangerous.

And so forth. For well-adjusted people, these statements sound like common sense. For people like me, they sound almost mystical. “I… I am allowed to have… feelings?”

Courtesy of celebritydachshund.com

Courtesy of celebritydachshund.com

Anyway, back to boundaries. It’s not enough to determine what you realistically want from a particular relationship: you have to learn how to enforce the boundary. I enforced a boundary this weekend, very unexpectedly. It was terrible. My blood pressure went through the roof. I got sad, guilty, angry and finally, most importantly, proud. I set a boundary and the world didn’t end. No one died, no one shot me (although being 2,000 miles away is helpful in the physical danger aspect), and surprisingly the person didn’t cuss me out. It was a wonderful way to dip my toes in and prove to myself that I can do this.

I imagine the worst part of setting boundaries is informing the other party of what they are. I am hoping this step is unnecessary, but I think I already know that it’s crucial to healing.

Well, onward and upward!

My Pumpkin

A Halloween Poem

Tonight in honor of Halloween
We’re busting out onto the scene!
Dressed in harlequin,
My costume is thin
So I’ll wear a shirt underneath.

Got a satchel to carry my treats
And headphones to carry my beats,
So downtown I go
To see all that I know
And eat my favorite burrito!

Later on when I crawl into bed,
I’ll replay the scenes in my head,
Thinking of candy
And friends that are dandy
And wondering what I will dream.

My Pumpkin

Weigh-In Day

I let my scale down as it goes up. There it is, disappointed in me again, chastising me for failing. Well Fatty, shouldn’t have eaten Sonic on Saturday. Should have run faster. Shouldn’t be so ugly. You are disgusting. Your body is wrong.

I used to write in my journal something along the lines of: “I can lose all the weight I want, but what’s the point? I can’t change my ugly face.” Once I step on the scale and discover I’ve failed, any shred of self-confidence I’ve gathered in the past ten years becomes a pile of ash. Inevitably, I will feel sick to my stomach. Inevitably, I’ll stare at photos of myself, analyzing, picking, beating up. Inevitably, I’ll no longer be able to look in the mirror. Inevitably, I’ll compare.

Sometimes I think my entire life has been a struggle against food, or more accurately, against what they call healthy self-esteem. Today is one of those days where I give up and hate myself, and hate the pudgy marshmallow surrounding my innards.

I hate that I watch what I eat and exercise and nothing happens.