Heavy Joy, A Letter on your 8th Birthday

Dear Reese,

Today is your 8th Birthday!!!  8 years!  And so much has happened since you came into our lives!  When I go through your photos and our memories, when I sit down to write my thoughts for you, there is SO much I want to say.  I’ll be 32 years old next month, and I will tell you that this year is the first of your birthdays that I have had the courage to pull out all of your baby books, birth photos, cards from past events, and memory albums.  I have two large organizing bins full of memories from your first years, multiple drawers stuffed with your best artwork and sweetest treasures you gathered and gave to me from days at home with me to preschool to 1st Grade and with Sunday school lessons in between.  I have been hoarding moments.  Storing them.  Tucking away photos.  I’ve posted tons of photos and stories and updates of you to social networks for sharing with family and friends but mostly for storing away for myself.  And during this all, I’ve wanted to go through it all. I’ve wanted to complete scrapbooks.  I’ve wanted to organize, sort, and rediscover what all I have archived.  I’ve wanted to watch your baby videos too.

But until this year, I couldn’t do it.  This is the first year I’ve had the courage.  Silly.  Sure.  But true.  It’s taken me 8 years to be able to review your baby, toddler, and first moments because those moments, I thought, were the best moments of my entire life and I would never get them back or recreate them again.  I guess I believed that if I did not face them, they were not over.  If I hoarded back all of my best, all of my sweetest memories of you, I wouldn’t have to acknowledge that you are growing up so fast.  I could apologize for this because it sounds sort of damaged!  Ha.  But as much as it was, I don’t feel I have failed either of us.  It took me a while.  Longer than some.  But I’m able to look through your photos today and smile.  See, life can be both incredibly sad and incredibly sweet all at once.  And sometimes the sweet is so good it makes us sad.  Or it does for me anyway.  I was afraid if I looked at your memories, I would be swept away with sadness.  And today. I was still afraid.  But I looked through everything and guess what I found… Joy.  I found Joy.

You and daddy have always laughed at how emotional and sentimental I get.  At the movies, even animated shorts, that I cannot watch without over-feeling it all and spilling over in tears.  I avoid things that push me into that feeling.  I don’t like to feel sad.  I don’t like to feel overtaken.  I don’t let things overtake me because I’ve lived overtaken at times in my life and it wasn’t good.  But, I’ll tell you, I’m learning something great the older I get.  The older you get.  The longer we live.  I’m learning to grow.  I can keep my heart without having to seal it away or avoid it or turn from anything that calls it to the surface.  I’m learning that facing my fears, experiencing the moment, and remembering the past are things I can do simultaneously without being swept away or fearing what comes next.  Ultimately, I’m learning that I can handle heavy things.

I can even handle heavy Joy.  And that’s what I feel when I look through your memory books.  Heavy.  Deep.  Proud.  Authentic.  Peaceful.  Humble.  J-O-Y.

See, for every year you have been alive, I have been growing up too.  And I am still learning and growing up every day as we speak.  We are growing up together in many ways.  And even though I’ll always be a little further ahead in some areas, you’ve been able already to show and teach me from things that you know too.  I love that about truth.  Truth knows no age.  You can be 8 years old and speak truth like adults have never known.  And you can be nearly 32 years old, wise in many ways, and still learning every day.  As long as we keep open, we can learn from anybody no matter their age, their life, or how we relate to them.  And I hope that we can both always learn from and teach one another things just by how we live and by who we are, and by how we interact with one another.  Mothers and daughters go through so much together and sometimes you and I won’t want to learn or teach a thing to one another.   That is okay.  That is normal.  What is important, though, is that we always work to overcome our feelings by reaching out for what is true.  No matter how we feel, truth prevails.  Always shake the emotion and remember the truth.  Truth keeps us grounded when emotions flood.  Emotions are important.  And when you feel them, good or bad, you’ll have some seriously personal convictions and justifications and reasons for your feelings.  Sometimes, feelings are made in truth.  But oftentimes the way we feel and what is true is entirely different or at least not supportive of one another.  So, how do we overcome in our relationship as mom and daughter and what makes great relationships work in general?  Well, I’m still learning the answer to this too.  But I’ll tell you what I think.

Great relationships are ones where feelings rush at times and threaten everything but both parties fight for truth instead.  Truth isn’t always good.  Sometimes, truth ain’t even great.  But truth in relationships is what takes them from good to great, from thin to thick, from shallow to deep, from temporary to long-lasting.  Truth is what makes two people grow up together and become greater individuals that bring out greater parts of one another.  And when you are faced with feelings that rob you of truth, I think getting back to the truth is always possible.  How do we get to the truth?  Turn away from feelings and give each other: Love.  Grace.  Patience. Humility.  Forgiveness.  Appreciation.  Empathy.  Courage.  Effort.  Respect.  No matter how we feel, if we both put forth our best, we will overcome our worst.  And I believe that’s true for all relationships.

I started this post today with the intent to share five things with you.  Just five.  Seems I always have more I want to say to you.  But for now, I’ll leave you with these thoughts…

As our relationship evolves, I just want to be sure that you know that I look up to you as much as I hope to always give you reasons to look up to me.  And to help you know that I look up to you, I have to treat you in ways that cause you to see and feel my admiration.  And I have to behave admirably as well.  We both are going to royally mess it up sometimes, but we know the truth.  God gave us to one another and we are here for each other.  And no matter how we feel, we can face heavy things and we can even hold heavy Joy.

With heavy joy in mind, here are 8 Words for your 8th Birthday, wishes I have made for you based on what life has taught me so far!

  1. Agency: The ability to act for yourself.  It is really hard to help give you this, help you find this, help you learn this, because you are not in charge right now.  But I wish to give you an appreciation and respect for your self and your life.  You need to have the capacity to act and you need to have the capacity to affect your life and to make your own choices.  Avoid any relationship that requires you to forfeit your agency.  I used to wonder why God created people if he knew the whole time Adam and Eve would do what they did and the world would fall and people would become sinners and awful things would happen.  I didn’t understand how a Heavenly Father would be loving and good and yet allow such awful things to happen to his children.  Then, at many different times and through relationships with many different people and even in many different seasons of my interests, I had the opportunity to learn from the ‘other’ version of love and life and relationship.  The version without agency.  No life, no love, and no connection is truly good if you look back and realize that you didn’t truly act and choose it for yourself or that you did but in doing so that relationship kept you from having agency in other areas of your life.  God could have taken away the agency.  He could have taken away free will.  He could have made us all in his image with no will and personal choice.  How good and loving though is a God that only creates thoughtless, powerless, uninvolved, incapable beings to love and worship him and to live in constant service to his plan?  Love without agency is empty.  Devotion without agency is captive.  Service without agency is slavery.  Loyalty without agency is lost.  Without the capacity to choose, we are simply drones robotically living out of habit.  Humans aren’t robots.  Humans need agency.  If you take away a human’s agency, you take away their hope.  If the hopeless human can learn to survive hopelessly living, it will cost them their mind, their life, and their purpose.  God is love and love is not obligatory worship.  Healthy relationships cannot steal your agency because to remove your choice is to remove your humanness.  So why didn’t God give us agency but program us to always choose good and right?  Because again.  Programming someone to choose what benefits us is brain washed obedience.  How loving are we if we set a person with agency but make so that the choices given to the person are still only good choices according to our plans?  Exactly.  We can’t.   True love, healthy opportunities, and purposeful relationships require agency.  And if you look at the choices you are given, and none of them serve you, be careful.  False agency is not agency.  without the authentic capacity to make decisions for yourself, you will lose yourself to a robotic life you were never asked to live.
  2. Authenticity: be yourself.  If you don’t know who you are at any point, take some time and figure it out.  You will and should find that who you are can evolve, change, and move back and forth at times.  Ultimately, though, your best guide for authenticity is to let others be authentic too.  Notice your differences.  Be comfortable with bringing different things to the table.  Do not assume what you lack as a negative.  Do not take what they bring as a subtraction from your gifts.  Be yourself.  Bring yourself.  Grow when you can where you can and when you should.  And otherwise stand up for the difference you are.  If you lose your authenticity you’ll lose sight of your purpose and you’ll lose enthusiasm.  If you feel lost and uninterested, these are often signs that you need to be more authentic.  If you can’t be more authentic in the situation, look around and find a new one.
  3. Kindness: you don’t have to be fake, but you can always be kind.
  4. Respect: Respect is admiration shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas.  I truly believe everyone has good ideas but everyone has a different definition of “good”.  Respect everyone for having their own good ideas, and maintain self-respect by refusing to purposefully and knowingly disrespect anyone.  Respectable people should not expect you to respect them while they disrespect you, but it happens.  You cannot define respectable people by how well they respect you alone because sometimes, like a college professor for instance in a course you have to take to graduate, sometimes the person’s authority requires your respect even though they are disrespectful to you and have done nothing and will do nothing to earn your respect toward them–nothing but be hired to wield authority in your class and nothing but earn the position over you in that classroom.  You cannot get through life by avoiding every person who disrespects you or by choosing to treat every disrespecting person as poorly as he or she has treated you.  It will not work to your benefit. So, learn to give respect whether it is earned or not.  However, keep in mind that the more someone disrespects you, and the less they make any effort to change, the more that person becomes less and less deserving of your time.  Put your full effort into that course, give your best in all required of you, and get out with your grade.  Don’t flunk and have to go take the same professor again because you realize there’s no way around it.  Get in, be respectful, get things accomplished, and move forward.  Your time is too precious to waste it.  And you are too precious to spend time respecting those who do not show you the same.  Do it as long as you must.  Try your best to be heard.  Give opportunity for resolve.  Then ultimately go where you are shown basic human respect with no other merit necessary other than you are a human being.  Everyone deserves your basic respect and to disrespect others is to lose sight of your self-respect.  But not everyone deserves your time.  To give your time is to give yourself, and to respectfully give yourself to someone or something that disrespects you is sometimes required–but it is not how your story ends.  Giving anymore time than necessary would be a loss of self-respect.  Self-respect is where it all starts.  You cannot respect anyone else if you don’t first have respect for yourself.  Respect yourself.  Do not demand others respect you but seek to move beyond anyone who regularly shows they do not deserve anymore of your time.
  5. Laugh: the moment you look around and can’t find anything funny, get up and go take a walk outside.  I mean it.  Get some fresh air.  Laughter and a sense of humor, smiling, giggling, you need these things.  Your spirit needs a walk outside when you catch yourself feeling like nothing is funny.
  6. Isolate: sometimes, you need to be alone. I am an introvert so I need to be alone all of the time.  It recharges me.  But you seem more extroverted and seek out others to be energized.  Nothing is wrong with either of our personalities!  You and your daddy remind me to get out and keep seeking out others.  You remind me to find energy in a crowd even when I’m overwhelmed or in a bad mood.  You remind me that it feels good sometimes to go out and get involved and talk with different people.  You push me and challenge me to be more social and to get out of my comfort zones!  I need that.  Thank you!  But I’ll ask you to remember to do the same.  Don’t forget that a group of people and a constant activity list is your comfort zone.  And there’s a lot to be said for stepping away and turning off the TV and sorting out what is on your mind and in your heart.  Challenge yourself to find enjoyment without constant interaction and stimulation.  It is good to slow down and listen to your own beat once in a while.
  7. Believe: to believe is to feel sure of the truth of.  So much of growing up causes you to lose assurance of the truth in what you once never questioned.  This does not mean that truth is lost.  If you fear there’s nothing left to believe in, truth is still there, but you need to keep looking.  Remember, faith is belief of that which we cannot see.  If belief is feeling sure of the truth of something.  And faith is belief of that which is unseen.  Then, having faith means feeling sure that something is true even though we cannot see it.  Just because you cannot explain or illustrate something you feel does not mean it is untrue.  Test it.  Question it.  But never lose sight of something you believe just because others criticize your lack of proof.
  8. Accountability: be accountable.  Acknowledge your responsibilities and keep them.  Acknowledge your mistakes, and work not to repeat them.  Acknowledge those around you and help them to be accountable too.  Accounting our actions and willingly accepting responsibilities means we are never so right that we cannot be wrong, we are never so good that we cannot improve, we are never so knowledgeable that we cannot learn, we are never so above that we cannot reach down, and we are never so down that we cannot get up.  Accountability is the key to make progress moving forward; without it, movement occurs but either in the wrong direction or at a total standstill.

Heavy Joy is worth it.  I wish you the deepest of a life well-lived.  You’re just getting started in these past 8 years, and I’m already so proud of you and who you are becoming!

Happy Birthday, love!  Thank you for making life a blessing just by being in it!  I hope one day you look back on it to say your mom provided the same blessing to you!

Love, Mom

P.S. Pictures make a blog post better! 🙂


Your feet 8 years ago today…




Our first picture together…


Your first picture with Daddy…


Your baby room wall paper and your favorite music…


Sweet girl!


First Halloween! Punkin Head!


Playing at the house in Hixson…


First Birthday Party! Carousel in Chattanooga.


1st Birthday Party moments…


And now! You’ve grown so much!!!




Love our silly selfies!!





Happy 8th Birthday, Reese!










Five Short Poems, November 30th

  1. I have tried to understand more than was there to know, in hands I could not shake from a heart I could not hold, and all I had was all I am, so there’s nothing more to show, I revealed each part of me while you refused me whole. More than once I tried, but got lost along your way, on circle paths through shady woods of all you wouldn’t say. Unless the threat of loss was pending or fear of pain ensued, I learned you saw no value in me, and I guessed you never would. 
  2. Three times five is fifteen, I was sixteen when you left, so who knows why I’m counting, who can quite forget? 
  3. Bright and beautiful is the one who isn’t threatened by the bright and beautiful in another. 
  4. Take me to a place and show me what you know tell me all your past lives and the parts you never show give me a reason to believe that at least you are consistently true and let’s laugh and talk for hours about things we shouldn’t do maybe go off to a cabin or take off to a shore I don’t care where you take me just get me out the door.
  5. In phony fake mouths smiling speaking lines of gold deep underneath therein lies a cold and angry heart swimming in an empty soul.

Bitter Truths

1. Whole communicating with someone who is dedicated to half listening means your thoughts will be heard only half way. It is a waste of time. I hate wasted time. I hate wasted words. Save your whole words for people who whole listen. 
2. Refusing others what you demand or expect for yourself makes you an entitled, pompous, frustrating jerk. Period.
3. If your effort and kindness are doled out only according to how much a person is able to do things for you and give you what you want, then you will never know how a true relationship feels because you’ll build connections that are parasitic when true relationships should grow to become symbiotic. You can’t be good for someone if the only time you connect is to get what you want. 
4. If you need an audience to do what is important to be done, you’re an actor. Life is too short. Find your true self and get off the stage. Be that true self and do what you do. Otherwise, go start an acting career and at least get paid for it.

5. Rudeness is a weak way to further frustrate an existing problem. Deal with the problem. Don’t be rude. If it takes rudeness to get your message through, then you have a bigger problem on your hands than whatever issue you’re dealing with at the moment.

For Self-Fulfilling Prophets

If we have negative thoughts and negative feelings and then act according to those negatives, our actions will positively fulfill our own prophecy. Example: I think this won’t work out and I think it’s already hopeless, therefore I won’t try, won’t do, will avoid, will adjust to save myself and my time. Then, things do fail. The question is did the failure occur because I saw only negatives and quit, or did failure occur because the situation was doomed to fail? The truth? Nothing is ever really doomed. The minute you think it is, you’re believing a lie. The lie of doom leads us to situations that fail every time. And that’s why the lie of doom is so enticing: it leads us to think we called it—we see failure, failure occurs, we become vindicated in our own ability to prophecy the failure that lies ahead. What’s wrong with this pattern? It creates an ego that is doomed and yet inflated by its rightness in predicting the impossibility of the circumstances. Who wants to live proudly in a recurrent cycle of failure after predicted failure? Nobody. But believing in our hopelessness and acting like the failure is unavoidable means we’ll always find ourselves floating in a never-ending pseudo-wisdom that never achieves our goals and instead keeps us down and alone and afraid. Focusing on the positive and acting according to what we can positively control doesn’t eliminate the possibility of negative outcomes but it most certainly increases the likelihood of reaching our better good. Acting negatively brings about more negatives. Conversely, behaving and thinking positively brings about more positives, and that’s true even when negatives still occur. Not acting at all is also a strategy but should only be used when necessary to achieve the positive end; failure to act or to move should never be a symptom of fear. If you stop acting because you’re afraid, you avoid the opportunity to improve your own chances. So act or do not act according to strategy. Do not live in fear. Do not avoid life and decisions. Do not shut people out. Do not stop seeking the positive. Be positive. Think positive. And no matter what fails, focus toward success. Fulfill a prediction that you will succeed. No matter what challenges face you, make the next move believing that any set back you encounter is really just another page in your success story. 

31 Things

I’m 31 on March 12th. More than ever in my life, I understand who I am. What I need. Who I am not. I don’t have anything totally figured out. But I know more than I’ve ever understood of myself before.

Who I am is sensitive. I’m serious. I’m intense. I’m silly, too. I have dark places. I get depressive, anxious, untrusting. But I have a lot of light too. I’m not made for everyone. And that’s ok. 

So, in honor of understanding more truth about ourselves, (which I think everyone should do by the way), here’s a list! 

31 things I really want and crave in my closest relationships:

1. Take me seriously.

2. Critically & actively listen to what I tell you. Don’t just hear me; listen. 

3. Be honest and open with me.

4. Trust me with your true self. 

5. Don’t insult me or my intelligence. 

6. Apologize as much as you demand to be forgiven. Forgive me too.

7. Laugh with me. Laugh at my jokes not at my expense, unless I’m laughing too and then just laugh with me at me! Just help me laugh more often. 

8. Slow down for me.

9. Come around for me.

10. Don’t try to make me jealous of you or your other friendships.

11. Miss me when I’m gone.

12. Don’t shout or yell at me.

13. Respect my privacy. If you’re not sure, ask.

14. Protect me.

15. Appreciate my time.

16. Validate my experience and my feelings even if you don’t agree with me or if you need to challenge my view.

17. Never “let” me win. I don’t want off easy. Challenge me. Give me a chance to rise. 

18. Be kind. 

19. Consider ways you could be wrong or possible things you may have overlooked.

20. Correct me when I’m wrong & call me on it, just do it privately. Don’t let wrongs fester. Let me know what I need to improve.

21. Don’t be vengeful. 

22. Learn the difference between being passive aggressive, aggressive, direct. Aim for direct.

23. Read up on introverts. Accept me as one. 

24. Acknowledge my effort.

25. Consider my feelings. 

26. Take a nap or tv day with me.

27. Try new things & have fun with me.

28. Ask me my thoughts. Then, don’t use them against me. 

29. Show & tell love. Not just one or the other.

30. Don’t withhold. Unless it’s negativity for negativity’s sake. 

31. Include me in your thought processes; think out loud to me; involve me in your decisions any time you can. 

I think I’ll revisit this list next year, annually actually. Let’s see what age 31 brings around for a 32nd truth of who I am and what I need. How old are you? I dare you to list that many truths of what you want out of your closest relationships! Tag me somehow. I want to read yours!


Your Valentine’s Day Guide to Pleasing Any Woman in 25 Easy Steps

You want to please your special lady and make her feel loved? You want to keep her smiling and happy? Here’s how!

1. Laugh at her efforts to impress you.  Especially make her feel dumb when she fails. Always return the gifts she gives or throw them in a random drawer or closet so she can see how little she succeeded. All the little things she does to gain your attention, either don’t notice them or laugh at them so hard. Just make her feel dumb for trying.

2. Burp or fart around her. On her. In her face. In the car. Under the covers. Anytime you can.

3. Don’t laugh at her dumb jokes.

4. Don’t compliment her. And find things that she really cares about and wants compliments on, then compliment another woman about those things right in front of her.

5. Cause her to question if she is safe around you. This means drive drunk, wrecklessly, impaired, while texting, while emailing, while heavily sedated, when you’re so sleepy you can’t stay awake, all of these at once if possible. Be verbally, physically, emotionally, financially, and/or sexually abusive. Start fights with the general public. Place her in risky situations. Break the the law and encourage her to be an accomplice. Step outside of your relationship. Make her walk and wait for you alone in dark or poorly lit areas. Tell her to meet you in a place she’s never been and to go alone very late at night. These are just a few ideas. Just be sure she knows you are a danger and threat to her life, her health, and her safety. 

6. Always cause her to doubt she can trust her inner most thoughts to you. Just tell her secrets, her business, things she shares in confidence with you. Give her information and her feelings out to other people. Gossip about her life and her family and her situations with others. Show her she is never safe to trust you with any information ever. 

7. Be late often, and without good reason.

8. Flirt with other women, whether she sees you or not. 

9. Have double standards. Forget treating her how you expect to be treated. Just expect that she treat you how you demand to be treated and never give her the same benefits. 

10. Embarrass her in public and around her friends and family and even where she works. 

11. Hold her accountable for things you haven’t yet discussed with her. Make her aim to recognize how you feel, what you expect, what you desire, and what you want from her without having ever been told directly from your own mouth. In other words, react poorly every time she fails to read your mind.

12. Let other people disrespect her. Whether she’s in the room or not, whether you agree with the person or not, don’t show up for her and never speak up or stand up for her. If people keep up the disrespect of her, keep hanging around and listen to it. Don’t walk away or put an end to the discussion. Make sure people feel comfortable disrespecting her in front of you. They don’t have to know you value her, so just let them do whatever they want. 

13. Lie to her. Period. Even those little white ones. If you can be dishonest about how you feel, what you did, or what you want to do, then do it. Learn the art of witholding and how it too can be a useful form of dishonesty. Also learn how to be exceptionally vague. Try to keep her guessing at what you really mean. Keep the lines of possible interpretation wide open. You want her to guess. And you want to be able to always change to fit a situation best. You need to be able to make her guess wrong so you can be sure she feels bad. Be as dishonest with her as you can. Always. Just really show her that you have no reason to be straight with her about anything. 

14. Ignore her texts. Let hours, days, weeks pass when you can. Sometimes, just don’t even acknowledge her message at all. Delete it. Never text to say things like “let me think of what I want to say” or “give me a sec” or “not sure how to respond here”. Ask her questions, and when she replies, don’t say anything back. Instead, shoot for dead silence. Be as rude, immature, and frustrating as you possibly can in text message communications. Ignore. Delete. Single word her. Just make her wish she never messaged you in the first place.
15. But. Do text her more often than you call her. Talking to her and hearing each other’s voices is an overrated pastime. 

16. Don’t make plans with her. If you must make plans with her, break those plans. If you must go through with your plans with her, invite tagalongs but don’t tell her you’ve asked others to join.  Just let her show up and see others with you or bring her and tell her just before you get out of the car that you’ve asked others along. Try to keep making the plans you have to make in as much of a last minute timeframe as you possibly can. Show her that her time doesn’t matter. Change parts of the plan at the last minute too. Be really vague or really specific, then switch and suddenly do none of what you acted upon originally. Have her amped over things you made into such a big deal, then she shows up to find none of that planning mattered.  Even better if you can underplay the big deal of planning an event so she shows up totally unprepared. When possible, have her find out about the plans you’ve made for her from one of the third party tagalongs you have invited. Let her find out from the grapevine what she’s going to be doing with her time with you.

17. Let her calls go to voicemail, especially  when she’s returning a call she missed from you. Make her wish she never miss another call from you again.

18. Make self-deprecating remarks. She likes you. She is interested in getting to know more of you. The self put downs will prevent her learning about you more and they’ll insult her for liking you in the first place. This is true whether you’re dating or married. The girl chose to be with you whether for tonight or for a lifetime. So make sure you show her how awful her choice was when she chose you. Doubt her true desire and attraction and interest in you. Make her have to convince you that she has good reasons. Fish as many compliments as possible while completely shredding apart her confidence in thinking you’re so great. 

19. Point out her flaws as often as possible. Call her out if she puts on some pounds. Bring up that pimple on her forehead. Tell her she looks bad in the color she’s wearing. Criticize her choice of haircut and color. Bring up her newest wrinkle. Point out her cellulite at the pool. Let her know her gray is showing. Just pick her apart.

20. Always put her ideas & opinions on the bench. Never let her mind get involved.  Show her that you don’t care to know her thoughts on a subject. If she ever shares her thoughts, shut her down. A woman who likes you and admires you should never think that you value her opinions. Actually using her advice and giving her feedback on how things turn out is a terrible idea too. When you don’t agree or when you try what she suggests and it blows up, talk to her about what happened and make sure she knows how everything is her fault for ever guiding you with her ideas. Choose others’ ideas over hers and try to do this openly and actively so she and everyone around can appreciate that you value her input so little.

21. Make fun of her in front of other women. Not like cute, adoring, flirty teasing. Really ridicule her and get other women laughing at her expense.

22. Be sure she knows you only care about her looks. Her body. Nothing more.

23. Don’t ever let her suspect you actually want a relationship with her.

24. Notice her favorite things just so you can deny them to her.  If you can’t notice her because you don’t get to see her much or you’re daily schedules bring you both home exhausted, just flat out ask her what her favorite things are from time to time. Get specific. She might not even know herself. Try to let her open up more to you over time by showing her over time that you’re still interested in finding out. But! Only so you can choose not to deliver. Really specific questions like what’s you’re favorite two candies if you’re at the store?—never get those candies just go for generic or tell her they were out. If you’re really thirsty, and there’s only a gas station open, what would you get to drink in there?—never get those drinks, just get what you like instead and make her drink that. What are your favorite colors?—never buy things in those colors. Name your all time favorite bands or musicians.—buy tickets to contrasting genres & bring her along for her birthday. Do you like breakfast better or lunch?—only make her the opposite. If you couldn’t bring more than three pairs of shoes with you to another planet, what kind would they be?—gift her all other types for every Christmas. Just get creative. Ask her things that lead her to make choices for herself. Then learn from the choices she makes on her own. What restaurant would she pick if it was just her to decide?—never go there. What is her idea of romance?—be completely off the grid from that. What makes her feel pretty?—avoid it. What chores or tasks does she hate most?–leave them for her to do. Where can you step in and show up and do or bring the things that show her you notice her?—be sure you run away in the opposite direction. She likes your beard?—shave it. She hates beards?—grow a wooly one. She compliments your shirt?—burn it.  You get the point. Find out her favs & her dislikes. This throws her off. Then remember your goal: find out only so you can do none of what she wants and instead fulfill all of what she hates. 

25. Be inconsistent. Make her think she’s crazy. Deny all reality. Avoid her recognition of you if she’s figured you out at all. When she gets fed up, reacts, or goes bonkers, cal her insane and question her emotional stability. Be sure she doubts herself and her own feelings.

Okay. Okay. So this was a fun satire. But you enjoyed it way more than a how-to list, I’m sure! Flip these around and you’ll really be on to something. 😉 

Happy Valentine’s Day!!! 


The Five for Toreros 

1. I used to tell my writing students: just trust me. The ones who were smart, who had fire, who just needed to believe it and go along with the process. The ones who wanted to trust me but couldn’t or hadn’t yet. Pretty much every student now that I think of it. See. I know the writing process. I know it like the back of my hand. I know that in that last sentence, I made use of a tired and overworked simile. Of all I know and don’t know, I know how to teach writing. So I would tell them to trust me. I mean I would all but beg some students. Especially my evening classes. People double my own age. Smart, skilled, fully experienced adults who worked by day and attended classes by night and who could whip me into shape in all sorts of subjects. Smart people. But in my writing classroom, I knew more. And had the audacity to beg them to trust me. The ones who did. They would follow my advice, they would create the structure, they would use the stages of the process as I guided them to do, to see it and use it. And it worked. They trusted me and the process and it worked. Their voices became stronger. They killed the bull on paper, and in their own hearts. 

2. Today, this year, lately… I’m eating every word of my former teaching career in this now year two of mortgage sales. I’m eating ever word. If I taught it, I’m getting the same lesson now. If I begged my students for trust, blind trust, I’m now the one with the blindfold. I am the one who is out of my own element, completely dependent on resources outside of myself to understand what I’m doing and to succeed. I’m like those night class students. I have skills. I am not stupid. I’m not an 18 year old with no idea about life. I have experiences. But not in this subject. And so I have to trust a process, a system, and teachers…people. I have to trust people. 

3. I don’t like trusting. I’ve been misled. Lied to. Easily manipulated. Too kind. Too open. Too naive. Too innocent and too unaware. I’ve been stung in the rear so many times I forget. And I don’t like losing. I hate losing. I can handle not winning but truely losing is different. And I never once considered how unbelievably difficult this was on my students. I thought asking my students to trust me and just do as I say was okay because I knew I wasn’t leading them to failure. But they didn’t know me or have that same assurance of my heart. I now realize that those students who chose to trust me did it afraid, took a risk, and then saw success as their outcomes from the other side. They had no guarantee of success before trusting me to lead them to it. They did it afraid. 

4. No wonder so many of them would never just trust me all the way. I used to think they were stubborn. Now I understand they were afraid. This trusting stuff is hard. I’d like to gather all of my former students in an auditorium and say:

 “To those of you who trusted me with your writing and your work, thank you for your courage—it’s an asset to have in the world today. You passed a course and you surpassed you own expectations. I hope that part is what you never forget. Courage in the face of doubt led you to be successful beyond your own belief. Not in my small writing course, but in the course of life. I now see how much courage it took you. I saw it then but I didn’t appreciate that courage as I do now. Your courage inspires me to be courageous too. It’s tough to be courageous when you are an adult trying to succeed and at least partially depending on other people to get you through. Dependency is my least favorite word. I hate it really. It scares me to death. But at one time you depended on me and I now see how special that was. Thank you. To those who are as scared as I am, who never trusted me or gave me a chance to help you, who are caught up in fear of failure and dependency now, if you’re breathing, it’s not too late. Go get it and try again.

5. More than my fear of dependency, looking back on life and regretting what I didn’t do scares me even more. Without going into too much backstory of why she mattered deeply to me or what a life my Nana had, I’ll tell you I spent the night with her many times in my life. I watched her as she got older. She held regrets. She had memories and people and decisions that would sit with her at night. Her life made her both wise and sad. She held so much knowledge but regrets ate at her. She never spoke up much to give me advice but she would tell me about her life and things that happened in it, choices she had made. I could hear her regrets. I could see them on her face. It was not the people who had hurt her that haunted her most. Her most regretful stories never dwelt on the trusting of people who did her poorly. No. It wasn’t them. The real regret came when she’d talk about herself. Things she chose to do or not do based on fear, on hurt, on past pain. So I think this relates. Trusting people is hard and I don’t like it. But failing to do things…to accomplish things…to try my best…to learn. Failure to live my life while I have it…that’s what I’ll regret most when I’m old and looking back on everything. Bitter people stop living life because they fear it. Their pride and pain and past holds them back from trying again. I don’t want to be bitter and regretting what I did not do. I’d rather be smart as I know how, real as I can, and open to all outcomes, success and failure, honest people and people who turn out to be the worst. I’d rather be a scared but courageous learner, living life open rather than to be closed. We can’t hold safely to never doing anything that challenges us on every level of who we are if we would like to avoid regret, for regret comes in many forms and some of the deepest regret out there is not that which we experience at the hands of the people we trusted. No. Deeper is the regret we hold in our own hands when we realize we were too skeptical, too proud, too experienced, and too untrusting to step forward. The ‘what might have been’ is always harder to swallow than the failure we experience in moments where we face life head on and the bull takes control.  I would rather have stories of broken bones, bruised egos, and times I liked to have died than to sit around at the end of my life and be haunted by memories of every arena I never entered out of fear the bull would kill me. I really want to show I lived. I believe getting hurt is better proof of having lived life to the fullest; showing off untouched armor always carries a regret for never having seen what it could do in a fight.

Go get inside the ring. Dance with the bull. Regret is inevitable. Make sure it’s the kind you can stomach at the end of the day.

P.S. This blog’s concept is transforming. I don’t know what it will shape into…but the list of 5 is holding me back. Keep an eye out for change. I’m letting it do its own thing and I can feel this list format isn’t quite enough anymore.