What influences us

I had my headphones on and was listening to music while doing the dreaded domestic choring. Whether it was allergies, not eating right, or simply working really, really hard, this morning’s “what day is it?” adrenaline rush told me I needed a break from my routine. So I am playing hockey taking a rest day from the gym and from exercise. And doing housework. And if I get tired of doing housework, I have other work-work waiting. Or not. Maybe I’ll waterproof the iPad and float in the pool for awhile.

So were my thoughts earlier in the day. Instead I finished my domestic duties, cooked some food for the upcoming week, and had long conversations with some dear friends.

While I do not feel badly about taking the day off, I feel the reflexive, distant anxiety of losing something with this skipping a day. Rationally I know I am not going to regress and forget everything I have learned in the last year, nor am I going to lose my muscle gains and all that good stuff that comes with a lot hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. But I was kind of a mean girl about it, and I regret it. And I was kind of mean girl about it because I have been in that place of anxiety and fear and crippling self-doubt. I do harbor some concern that I could fall back down that rabbit hole without much thought.

Earlier today I was doing my usual run through of blogs I follow and titles that capture my attention and tempt me to take a look. Sometimes it’s a one-and-done read, other times I find myself returning for a second, third look, perhaps add them to my rotation of blogs I read periodically.

There are a couple in particular in the personal finance realm that are opinionated and extraordinarily negative. While I am all for the idea of saving a buck, I am no frugalista, hate bargaining and negotiating (although I will do it if pressed or it seems appropriate), and I believe that people are imperfect, make mistakes, or just make different choices than my own. Too much badgering on how wrong everyone else is, how they are spending their money wrong, or going to run out of money in retirement (if they are so fortunate), or are simply generally negative and unpleasant make me want to turn tail and run. Actually, too much general obsession with money tends to bother me anyway. I worry about other people’s money for a living, know a lot of folks doing really well and having money practically rain from the sky for their efforts, yet they have the same sorts of problems as everyone else, sometimes exponentially bigger or more intense problems with their elevated income levels.

So I have to stop, just say no, not be tempted any further by such blogs. I am not bothered by people having problems or talking about how they are dealing with the issues, because I get some great ideas to incorporate into my own life. Or maybe I have faced something similar and have supportive things to say or a suggestion to offer. I am also always suspicious of my own ability to cope, particularly on an emotions front, because I do not necessarily process in the same ways, particularly afflictions for which I have limited or no experience with.

More and more, I am finding myself shying away from blogs where Debbie Downer lives 24/7. Even in the most heartbreaking things I have followed people through there is something good, positive, or just different from the constant drone of “woe is me” or “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “I am so angry and refusing to get over it because I get a lot of attention and strokes for being this way.” People have deep and significant hurts out there that are not being addressed and they are left on their own to try and find a way to heal themselves to simple functionality. Sometimes a kind word means a lot to a stranger – this is something I know from own personal experiences with blogging.

These random influences have an impact on me, and there seems to come some overexposure point when I have to step back and away or drive myself crazy and to unhappiness because of it.

Then I got to thinking about who and what influences me out here in the real world, in my own life. And I wonder about others as well. I know there are people I influence in real ways, who like me because of who I am and the qualities I bring to the table.

As they enter the home stretch of wedding planning and the rubber is meeting the road as far as the wedding, I see K getting bogged down in the details. She calls it her crazy, in that she gets a visions of something and then for whatever reason it does not work out as she thought she is deeply disappointed. Even something so simple and insignificant as my replacement dress search, she tells me she’s having trouble getting enthusiastic about any of the new choices because she has this vision in her head of the original dress. It makes me feel kind of bad, and she knows the problem is not with me. I know the problem is not with me. But her obvious disappointment is impacting me and making me feel like screw it, be twinsies with the aunt and let her be happy with this detail on her big day. That bothers her as well, so we are sort of at an impasse. Today I’m still at the screw it point; I have a couple of other very acceptable choices that I love, Love, LOVE (and one shows off the new smooth lumpy-bumpy lines in the emerging shoulders!) and will figure it out as we get closer.

Mostly I know I impact her in real ways, and I do not want me or anything related to me to weigh a microgram on her stress scale.

Those who influence me most in my life – M, of course; my kids and their spouses; my village (TM, trainer J, RD, Dr. Spencer); my closest circle of friends, which is maybe 8 to 12 people on any given day and depending upon the circumstances. My family, my friends, my village are people I depend upon to steer me straight and to tell me the truth when I need it. For the most part, they are pretty positive folks. We talk smack about others, we talk smack about ourselves. But when it comes down to it, there are days, strung out into weeks and months, where we are overwhelmed with personal problems and issues that take up the majority of our energy. But when I think of these people and why they are my closest friends, problems are not unsolvable, and if they are unsolvable, they are transformed into broken things to be tidied and then abandoned. It is not always so simple, easy, or without a lot of angst and drama, but to a person these are not people who enjoy angst and drama. We are practical people, problem resolvers and overcomers more than anything else.

And maybe this is why they became my trusted advisors, or my closest of friends, or somehow morphed into a new hybrid that is both. If I can help you, I will. If I cannot, I will tell you. But it just came up recently – my lack of worry is not the same as a lack of concern. Worry is a waste of energy, an obsessive thinking loop that does nothing productive and drains my emotional batteries.

I am not facing big problems right now, but others I know are struggling mightily. And unfortunately the only thing I can do for them is to listen, to read, to reply when they communicate with me. And to blog about my life and times. If I am in a Very Good place t shows. If I am in a Very Bad place it is like flashing neon lights. A big bonus and blessing in my life the last few years is being able to resolve my thornier issues or turn them into some assembly line of bite-size pieces to be managed. I would not know how to do that if it were not for the influence of those around me holding me hand through all my life’s big and little crap.

I make light-hearted reference frequently to me and my first world problems, because I recognize the things I whine about here are microscopic cakes when compared to others. But I also get that my ability and willingness to lay it all out there and accept the constructive criticism and advice to turn the situation around also makes me feel more in control and on top of my issues as they arise. Others are not always so receptive, and I truly believe it is partly the fault of the recipient for not being ready and possibly part of the delivery system and how the message is presented.

So maybe my current march toward positivity and being the best me I can be is just choosing great influences and mentors and friends. Maybe the people I choose to surround myself with, admire, and aspire to be more like are big parts of the reasons I am still standing after the way my life began and how hard those wounds were to heal. The biggest thing is that I face the choice, every minute of every day, and I now understand hope for good and better choices is for me as well as for everyone around me, everyone I care for and about. It’s different. I write thousands of words about this every week, and it seems like I get incrementally closer each day to what I actually mean with each new lot of words and posts.

The therapy was not as hard this year, maybe my issues were not so deeply rooted to the point that ripping them out and then watching the healing happen. Or maybe it was just my time to learn to have a hopeful heart with enough generosity and compassion left over for myself. Or maybe I finally grew my heart and soul enough to have generosity and compassion for me as well.

I’m fortunate to have the circle of influence that surrounds me. I’m so grateful for their patience and continuing affection. I’m glad they have always accepted me as I am and give me opportunities to continue to grow and to be better. I’m love my tribe.

Positivity terrorist? Yep, it’s me.

Glitter-bombing unicorn? Yep, that’s me, too.

Happy heart and soul? Oh yes, and improving.

And if I have to turn a blind eye and shy away from the droning unpleasantness of others, I think it is worth the cost of missing out on whatever thoughts and ideas they may be sharing. But the bitterness, the negativity, the contempt, the darkness is everywhere; I have no need to deliberately seek it out on my own. It’s an election year; the specter of the upcoming presidential race and its ugliness taints everything.

Those who influence me most, we are not yes people to one another. We are not sitting around nodding in trance-like agreement with everything that is said or opinion expressed. And from those interactions and exchanges I have learned and will continue to learn to be a better human being.

And blog about it. A lot.

I wish you all a very good week.

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