"Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything. They make you feel so alive that you’d follow them straight into hell, just to keep getting your fix." - Karen Marie Moning
What's that old saying?
The couple who IKEA's together...almost doesn't stay together?
Or something similar.
Nine months ago I sold my horrible IKEA couch after 3 years of barely using it and despising it every day. It was a huge relief to be rid of that stiff, unwelcoming, eyesore and I was so thankful that B took it on as his first job in SF: get rid of it via good ol' Craig's List. It was there when I left for work in the morning, and gone when I came home. I will never shop IKEA again!, I vowed.
For nine months we then hemmed and hawed over what we wanted to replace it. Because of our teeny tiny space issues (read: we have no space), it was almost nicer not having a couch at all while we worked to settle into shared home-hood together. Then he got a bike for his commute, and the space got even smaller. Then everyone we love on the east coast decided it was the best year to get married and/or have babies, so our bank accounts got even smaller. In short, we've been couch-less for awhile, and it's only recently started to get to us.
The straw that broke the Diggy/Fell backs in finally pushing us to whip out our credit cards, though, was our creaky and slightly starting-to-sag bed. Both of our lower backs had been sore off and on for a bit, and we noticed that any bit of movement was waking us both up several times a night. Lord knows, if mama doesn't get a good sleep, there will be a price to pay. I realized at 30, it was time to firm up. Goodbye, soft pillow top, hello, latex lumbar support. We've waited long enough -- it was time to commit to new furniture.
So, we looked online for a few weeks. And we visited a few shops in our area. But since we were already going to be outside of the city, we decided to just look at a few IKEA pieces. Kill two birds with one stone, we thought, we'll simply look for ideas...and really, maybe it was just my one fluke horrid couch, how bad could it be...
About 10 minutes into maneuvering the IKEA maze like a couple of suburban lab rats, the only question replaying through both of our minds was What fresh Hell is this?...
To summarize the outcome of this trip: Tired, hungry, with growing impatience and regret for leaving the shining 80 degree sunshine to enter into fluorescents-ville, we ended up buying a new bed, new frame, and new couch for the sake of satisfying the overwhelming desire to just be freaking done with it already. Which, I think, is their plan all along -- weaken the people, make them vulnerable, then lure them with do-it-yourself discounts and the hope of $1 ice cream cones at checkout. The home delivery line alone was so bad, I barely had to convince health-conscious B that after already eating 2 slices of cake at a birthday party prior to our IKEA trek, this $1 ice cream cone was a really good idea.
Overall, I think we worked pretty well together through the nonsense and hiccups that is IKEA. A few moments of tension mixed with a lot of shared laughs and hatred of their instruction manuals is not too shabby, all things considered. I know B must really love me, because his response to my inquiring how I could be of assistance during his apartment scrub down/re-arrange was "go eat, or you'll just get so hungry, you'll be hangry". Like a good little listener, I went out and bought a breakfast burrito. It was definitely the most helpful thing I could do, and I particularly enjoy being helpful when avocado is involved.
Unfortunately, poor B had to return to IKEA today to pick up a missing and crucial piece of our bed frame. Oh yes, said customer phone support, you have to buy that separately. But wait: No one in the store thought to mention this to us in all 3 hours we were there. But we'd already driven home in traffic. But we'd patiently waited for our delivery the next morning, and then needed to make cocktails to stay calm during the assembly. Sorry for ya, was the reply, you'll have to go to the store to get it...
This was such an infuriating and ridiculous piece of knowledge to gain during the final step of our 1.5 hour long building process that...as my girl Annie says...I began to think things so horrible it'd make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.
B feels the same way, Jesus/cat dish bad words and all. So even though we are thankful to just be freaking done with it (it = new apartment furniture, done = pending final build this evening), we are also so, so very done with IKEA.
This time I really mean it*.
(*can someone remind me of this the next time I think it's reasonable to just go and "browse"? ...)
I dropped the ball on last week's Portrait of our Life, both in posting and in actually documenting. But you're in luck...because I did happen to stumble upon the above photo on my old computer :)
Halloween, circa 1994. Little ol' hobo/vagabond Trish. Classic! As goofy as ever, and still with that wild, travelin' soul (only slightly less filthy and without an actual 5 o'clock shadow)...
love and light,
After posting this little piece on kindness, particularly during difficult times for others, a few folks reached out to ask about what, exactly, this type of kindness looks like. What does it really mean, include, entail?
An excellent question, that I'm so glad you asked! Y'all are just so deliciously introspective and curious -- I'm the luckiest to have you here.
So, my darlings, while I am certainly no expert, here's how I have learned to recognize true kindness in hard times:
Kindness is taking a deep breath before responding to someone and their "news"; taking a deep breath before reacting to just about anyone, actually. A moment...a pause...to wash away impulses of judgement or fear. One deep breath can be just the ticket. In Buddhism, there is a beautiful practice called Tonglen. When at a loss for words or direction, a very compassionate act is to breathe in deeply, feeling a fiery, scratchy burn deep in your throat as you imagine absorbing all of the hurt for another. Then, as you exhale, imagine you feel a cooling breath; soft, calm and refreshing. Breathe in their pain, breathe out relief. It's a simple gesture that has a powerful influence on energies being exchanged; it's a simple gesture that works wonders on exercising kindness for yourself, as well.
Kindness is striving for (as we say in coaching) "level 3 listening"; a listening that self manages, takes out the "me" thinking, and simply listens intuitively, with curiosity, and openness. Remember: there's not always a need for fixing (read: rarely a need for fixing), but always lots of need for holding safe space.
Kindness is small gestures. A card, an email, a little treat to lift their spirits. No need to spend a lot of money--we live in a digital world that provides lots of free opportunities to pop up and say hello, I'm thinking of you, loving you, and sending you good thoughts. And because you will think of them, randomly, as our brains thrive on all things random, jump on that moment to connect. Don't wait until later, you know? Don't wait for the "perfect time", because that moment is the exact perfect time. And before you say it -- no, this is not awkward. Ever. You know what else is not awkward, even when it seems like it might be? Human touch.
Kindness is human touch. A hug, a hand to hold. I often tell my friends, "FYI: I'm really into physical touch these days" before I rub their back or reach out to stroke their arm as they share with me, to help break the ice a bit. This will usually illicit a giggle, or a "you're so weird", but I just keep right on touching, and eventually it feels as natural as can be. We live in these annoying bubbles, afraid to make actual, physical contact with another person as a gesture of love or support or hey, I see you, hear you, and am here for you. Get out of the damn bubbles, I say. Reach out and touch someone, baby, even when it feels awkward as hell (you'll get over that, I promise).
Kindness is reaching down into most humble and vulnerable places of our hearts, and offering up a bit of compassion....something we've all been naturally given, but sometimes forget to dust off every once and awhile.
Kindness is showing up, despite having no idea what the "right thing" to say is. It's just showing up, and letting the other person just show up, too. Brene Brown has a beautiful message on this, and really the entire heart of empathetic kindness, here.
Kindness can sometimes feel really hard. But it's worth practicing anyway, don't you think?
What does kindness look like to you?
"Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way." - Anne Lamott
"When you walk with naked feet, how can you ever forget the Earth?" - Carl Jung
A trip back home for another beautiful wedding also allowed for prime baby holding time for me last week.
These little nuggets stole my heart and choked me up from the instant they were placed in my anxious arms. I couldn't believe how much I was drawn to them both, and just kept telling their respective mamas (one my cousin and one a BFF) that it was "so weird" to be holding the offspring of two women I've known fo-eva. Thankfully, they agreed. It was joyful, grateful, awe-filled weirdness all around. Just how I like it!
The truth is, if you'd asked me a few years ago about whether or not I wanted to have children, the answer would have been a whole hearted NO. The thought alone sent me into a panic around losing my freedom, the potential fights, the stress, the money and a zillion other questions on how they would be raised. But, as time has rolled on, and my life has taken quite a few new turns, I've realized how deeply I wish to be a mama.
This might be because of my freshly-turned-30 biological clock, or because of my partner being just about the sweetest thing ever around kids. It might be the case for any number of tangible reasons, but mostly I think it's because I've vowed myself to the never ending commitment of learning to choose love over fear.
And from the very, very little I know about "good parenting", I'd say this is a pretty nice place to start.
I have this friend who is just so sweet.
I genuinely mean that. Not sweet in that kind of "oh she's so nice" way of describing a girl's personality simply because you can't think of any other outstanding or flattering character compliments. She truly is just the sweetest, right to her core, and everyone says so immediately after meeting her.
So this sweet friend of mine, she's going through a challenging time. And the truth is, it's just the beginning of this challenging time. She knows it, I know it. It's the start of a lot of unsure and potentially scary days ahead; ones made up of guilt, sadness, excitement, worry, and hope bits and pieces, all mixed together, swirling to the surface at most inconvenient times. But it's also an incredibly transformational time. A time of humble vulnerability and of embracing the unknown. And it's the first time, in a long time, where she is fully listening to her spirit and making choices to honor her best life possible. She's betting on herself, which is a worthy risk to take, though often frightening beyond words.
But this sweet friend of mine is also facing an additional layer of complications to this challenging time. You see, some of her family members aren't being very kind to her when she tells them "the news". Lots of fear projecting, doubtful questioning, and whatnot. We humans are so talented at that kind of reaction to "the news", aren't we?
It's really bringing my sweet friend down. My friend, who is always so supportive of others, and who never seeks to judge choices because of her heartfelt understanding that not always understanding does not = grounds for every unsolicited opinion.
If you couldn't tell, I'm kinda puffed up for my friend.
A few years ago I remember reading/seeing/hearing a random quote from Hilary Duff (sorryI'mnotsorry for enjoying a little celebrity smut in my life from time to time) that basically ended with a line that's lingered with me for years, and has resurfaced again from hearing about my friend's family difficulties: We are just not kind enough to each other.
Taking Ms. Duff's lead, I want to impart one small piece of advice to the TGL community (because I know I'm the luckiest to have your attention for a moment). I want to say here what I'd like to say to her family but can't (annoying social norms and all that), so that this desire for a shift on behalf of challenging times can be put into the Universe somehow...
When someone you love feels he or she must make a very difficult decision in order to better themselves -- one that has been painfully, awkwardly, or hauntingly nagging at them for months, possibly even years -- think for a moment not so much on what you would personally do in their particular shoes (because darlings, you have no idea unless you magically, actually are) but rather of all the ways you yourself would hope, pray, and yearn to be shown compassion in the midst of a difficult decision. How much it would mean to you, for someone to listen without judgement; to offer no solutions, but an abundance of love.
That's really all anyone ever wants from our fellow man, you know? An abundance of love.
The truth is: We don't always have to understand. And oh my, will we ever not understand. But we do, I think, have to try our hardest to remember kindness.
It's applicable everywhere, this kindness vibe. In all areas of life, a daily dose of this magic elixir has powerful healing benefits. For the parents of the screaming baby on your 6 hour flight, for your son who decides to quit his high paying job to travel the world, for the customer who asks so many annoying questions you should be billing extra, for your sister's recent break up from a guy you all really (finally) liked. Imagine what would happen to each of these folks if we were, simply, a little kinder to one another.