January 18, 2017

On Being There




In primary school, my mom would put two packs of M&Ms into my lunchbox each day; one for me, and one to share with my friends. If you know my mom at all, that's the least surprising thing in the world. She's thoughtful and giving in a way that's so extreme, it seems like the exaggerated quality of a sitcom character. For years she kept an entire kitchen cabinet stocked with foods for any guests. A corner of the fridge, too.

It all started out well, the whole extra-pack-of-M&Ms situation. Day after day, I'd pass the 2nd pack around the table, each of my close friends grabbing a few. As weeks turned into months, though, that friend group grew a bit larger, and I still had just two packs of M&Ms. There weren't enough in that 2nd pack to go around, so one day, I decided to share my pack, too. 

It's obvious where this is going, right? Because eventually, of course, I was passing out both packs of M&Ms each day. They were my favorite little treat in the lunchbox, but at some point, I decided it wasn't worth hurting anyone's feelings. I just wanted everyone to feel included.

Things clearly could've been handled by, you know, not bringing M&Ms anymore. Or not passing them out at all. Or realizing that, duh, hello, nobody cared nearly as much as I thought they did. But I was 8, or maybe 9, and extra sensitive, and everything felt like a big deal.

I didn't tell my mom about it, because she probably would've started putting 3 packs in there and all hell would've broken loose. My brother was the one I turned to, and after I explained the situation, he looked at me with such a blank expression that I started to repeat myself.

"There's a solution."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Don't have as many friends."

Oh, to be a boy, right? I've mulled over and laughed about his quick reply several times over the years. That conversation took place more than 2 decades ago, but it still feels relevant. In 2nd grade you hand out candies, and at 20-something, it's phone calls, dinner dates, your time.

The thing is, it's incredibly hard to be there for all the ones you love in exactly the way you really want to be there. That's a conversation I seem to be having with so many people lately, all of us feeling stretched just a bit too thin. Sometimes you have to settle for sending a text instead of making a phone call, or mailing a gift instead of making the trip, and all the while you feel sort of terrible about it. In different phases of your life, there just isn't enough of you to go around, and unfortunately, that may be when you're needed the most.

People I love are marking milestones, and so am I, and I've come to realize that it can be hard to keep up. There just aren't enough M&Ms for everybody, you know? And that's okay! Even if it feels like it isn't. You just have to do your best and be honest with yourself, because it's impossible to be there, all out, for all the people you care about most. Especially when you don't quite have things figured out for yourself just yet.

This is a small reminder, for myself mostly, that by all means, you should be there whenever you can. Show up, show your love, and make it count. And when you can't? Skip the phone call and send the text. I'm sure it still means something. 


January 12, 2017

2017




I started sharing annual lookbacks in 2012, which I called my favorite year yet. Then came 2013, a year of firsts; 2014, a year of opposites; and 2015, a year of learning. This past year, of course, has been a year of growth. It wasn't just physical growth, although there was plenty of that..hello, baby bump! There was also a whole lot of new, uncharted emotional territory. I found out that I was pregnant in the middle months of last year, so 2016 started with that electric thrill of knowing you're on the edge of something big. And big it's been.

So here's what I hope for you in 2017..yes, you, my readers..if there's any.

I hope you take a look around at the people who have held you together for another year. Let's face it, even the most independent spirit needs a shoulder to lean on, and in the routine of day to day it's easy to forget that you've had people cheering you on and holding onto you on the days and nights where you couldn't even think of taking another step forward. Yet here you are, and so are they, and you're the luckiest person in the universe to be able to say that.

I hope you silently thank the people who walked out of your life this year. For one reason or another, not everyone stays, not just romantically, but in friendships too. Not every person you expect to stand by your side ends up coming through. Some people weren't intended to be in your story for the rest of your years, but temporary characters woven throughout your stories, to teach you lessons and make you a better person. And if they left your life, I hope you don't beat yourself up and carry it with you, but be grateful for the times you had together, and wish them well.

I hope you open your arms to new people. That you don't only decide that the faces you've come to know and the voices you're so used to hearing are the only ones that will ever matter. That you don't pass up the chance to say hi to that stranger who's reading the book you love, or to that person who you suspect you would get along with, but you're too afraid to make the first move. Make moves. Close the gaps between you and the people in this world. Remember that for every person in your life that you love so dearly, they were once a stranger too, and now you can't imagine life without them, so why not give others that chance too?

I hope you open your heart, too. Maybe you have someone who will be kissing you at midnight and holding your hand into this new year, and for that, be grateful. Yet over time we tend to stop exploring and believing there's anything left to discover in a person, we stop caring as much because we think we know everything. Take a look at this person, and look at their face, are they the same person you knew at the beginning? Discover them again, and again, and again. If you don't have your forever person, or any person at all, then I hope you open your heart as wide as you know how. That you don't allow past hurts and loves gone wrong to cause you to never try again. I hope you do the opposite, I hope you love without hesitation, without worrying they will break your heart, because let me tell you, everyone's gonna break your heart a little. If you never open your heart, you'll never find the love you deserve. So do it.

I hope you take chances, little ones, big ones, everything in between. Whether it's a simple change from your usual style that you've been too nervous to try, or it's an opportunity that changes your entire life, I hope you take it. I hope you don't allow past voices and the self-deprecating words in your head tell you that you're not worth it; that you don't let them keep you from going for dreams and chances you never thought possible. That you don't stay within the confines of comfort that you've used as an excuse to play it safe. That you see more than that in yourself, and that you do something about it.

I hope in 2017, you surprise yourself with just how incredible you are.

Cheers to 2017!


 

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