Introducing: The New Boss of Me

Louie05Everyone, I would like you to meet Mr. Walter Louis White.

His name WASN’T my idea. I have never seen Breaking Bad in my life, but my parents have, and since they were his foster parents for a couple days, they decided on Walter White. When he became mine, I picked his middle name, and that’s what he goes by: Louie.

As the January entry of my 2014 New Years Resolution, “Do Something New Every Month,” Mr. Louie is featured as “Adopt a Cat” – which, if you’ve read my full Bucket List & Resolutions, you will see that this also crosses off a life goal as well!

Living with Louie has certainly been an adventure, and it’s only been two and a half weeks since he moved in. He’s taught me invaluable life lessons about kitty ownership that I think ought to be shared.

1. Cats are not like dogs.

Yes, this is common knowledge. But try going from being a dog person for most of your life to living completely alone for over two years, and then getting a cat. I’m used to dogs. Floor dwellers. Silent unless commanded to speak, or a leaf flutters in the wind. Teachable, out-smartable. The bigger the dog, the more protection against intruders. Not so with felines. It didn’t take long to figure out that there is nothing out of Louie’s reach unless it is behind a closed door. Also, I learned rather quickly that Louie does not tend to come when he’s called, as do most dogs. And, it was immediately apparent that Louie likes to talk – A LOT. And not much will get him to stop (“Louie! Hush!” hasn’t worked yet, though for some reason I keep trying. He just sasses me right back.)

2. You don’t train cats. They train you.

After I figured out that my space is Louie’s space, there needed to be some immediate changes. This realization came after I watched him dance around my dirty dishes on the kitchen counter the first night he was home. I could have scolded and punished him for being on the counter, but what good would that do since he has free reign to go wherever he wants to while I’m at work? So after a couple of incidences where I had to chase him out of the dishes, the laundry, the stack of mail, and the pile of shoes, it was clear that Louie’s first training session for me was titled “Don’t want me in it? Put it away.” Needless to say, my house was spotless in a couple of days.

Louie also has a very strict timeline as to when meals ought to be served to him. Yes, he instilled this timeline himself. For example, he is under the impression that breakfast is served NO LATER THAN 7:30 every morning. Even on Saturdays. Sleeping in is for dog owners. As soon as my alarm goes off at 7:00, he is on my chest, staring into my soul with those big ice blue eyes, and says, “MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM.” until I either body slam him into the mattress, or finally shuffle halfheartedly into the kitchen to measure out his 1/3 cup of Kitty Kibbles. And then he takes two stinking bites and then goes off to play with his little mousey toy.

Jerk.

3. Catnip is crack for cats.

Louie, when he’s not hungry or grumpy, is a pretty chill dude. He is very fond of naps, and cuddling, and he’s not very active (hence the carefully measured diet). His pastimes include scratching his cardboard box and scratch mat, and kneading my furniture. And he likes to follow me around the house and talk – nonstop.

That’s when I pull out the catnip.

The dude goes BONKERS. For like 5 minutes. Then he gets tired, and falls asleep again.

4. Purring is good for the soul.

There’s something about it that is like magic. Maybe it’s just my lonely heart bonding with the nearest living creature, but there’s something about a warm cat curled up on my chest, head tucked under my chin, purring low and slow like a motor boat that just washes the stress of the day away.

Louie iphoneAll that to say, my “Do Something New” entry has turned into a bond of true love. Louie may be a narcissistic, food-hoarding, carpet-scratching catnip addict who thinks he’s the boss of me, but who’s to say that’s not exactly what I need in my life right now? He’s officially a member of the Emma Dilemma family.

And I love him.

 

 

 

An open letter to the clerk at CVS

Dear Aaron,

I know your name because I checked the receipt as soon as I left the store. I’m not stalking you, I promise. But I did want to identify you so someone would get credit for what happened at my local CVS pharmacy.

We did not know each other when I shuffled in through the automatic doors, and unfortunately for you, this means that you had no idea that I am the Simon Cowell of customer service.

Simon Cowell

In our initial interaction, this is probably the look I gave you when you asked if I was finding everything alright.

I spent enough years behind a counter and on the phone learning how to create and maintain customer relationships that I can smooth talk almost any grumpy, dissatisfied patron off the cliff of “Take My Business Elsewhere.” Truly, there’s an art behind customer service, whether it’s promoting a new product, up-selling to increase add-ons, and (my personal favorite) recovering a sale when someone in your establishment messed it up and did not take responsibility. There is skill behind every well-timed smile, every carefully rehearsed phrase, every studied response to any situation. A proficient customer service representative is one who treats every customer with individual and personalized attention, respect, and pleasure. He or she is never without grace, charm, and charisma, in spite of how stuff goes down in the break room. Regardless of his or her service level, every representative’s main goal should be to keep the customer feeling pleased, appreciated, welcomed, and most importantly, keep them coming back – and never give them a good reason not to.

Unfortunately, like most arts, the skill and technique behind customer service is lost in our culture of mediocrity and entitlement. Our storefronts are full of representatives who’s sole purpose is to reach the paycheck at the end of the week and will only do the bare minimum to keep the boss happy – not necessarily the customers. We just want them satisfied. Happy is a bonus, not a requirement.

You know who I’m talking about… The representative who offers a cool greeting, politely asks if you found all of your items okay, swiftly and silently bags all of your goods, and hands you your receipt with a flat and emotionless “Thank you for shopping at Happy Campers. Please come again.” All without looking in your eyes or cracking a single smile.

It was this kind of “customer service” that I was expecting when I entered your establishment, Aaron. I was certainly not prepared for what what I got instead.

As I trudged up to your counter, only half-thawed from the frozen weather outside and carrying more cereal and milk than my arms could hold, I’ll admit, I was probably a bit grumpy and formidable. You looked like an average preppy high-schooler who probably only had this job for spending money, but I was no match for you. You looked me straight in the eye, grinned, and said, “Looks like someone needed a basket!”

I half-smiled. Smart aleck kid. Just ring me up.

But oh no. You took on the Customer Service Nazi.

“Okay, your total is $37.86. Do you have a CVS card?”

“No.”

“Okay, well let me just scan this one here to see if I can get any discounts for you… Oh wow! You just saved five whole dollars on your purchase!” *big grin here*

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The Simon Cowell in me got curious right then and there. Sell it to me, kid.

You kept going: “The great thing about this CVS card is that it’s already activated with this purchase! And attached to it is an informational booklet that will help you get it all registered and set up so that we can continue to offer you great discounts in the future. And even if you lose the card, we can just enter your phone number and still save you money. Would you like to keep it?”

You looked me in the eye and offered me the card. You gave me the choice to opt out. Nice move, Skippy.

I accepted the card (I don’t normally).

As my receipt started printing, you were almost bouncing for this next part. “Alright, let’s see if you got any additional bucks you can use in future purchases! OH MY GOSH, from this transaction, you got two CVS dollars that you can use at any time!!! Just bring this receipt right back to save two dollars on your next trip to CVS!” You were so excited, and it was genuine.

15T069.1 colorYou were enjoying your job. You took pleasure in serving a grumpy stranger and your attitude was professional, cheerful, and not overbearing. You saved me SEVEN WHOLE DOLLARS in one swift move, and you did it all with personable charisma.

Yeah, I can guess that maybe there was some ulterior motive behind talking me into accepting the CVS card and promoting the additional CVS dollars, but that’s when the art of customer service truly shines in taking on a challenge, and never letting the customer know you’re trying to reach a tally or quota set by Higher Corporate Powers, because to the customer, you’re doing this exclusively for them. The customer leaves feeling special and appreciated, and she will most CERTAINLY return to use those two dollars!

I was beaming by the time I left. And I was serious when I told you that you should consider becoming a car salesman (you said you’d think about it – with another smile).

Thank you for taking on your craft with sincerity and passion. You, sir, are a beacon of hope for the Simon Cowell’s looking for natural talent and ability to achieve.

Congratulations, Aaron. You’ve advanced to the next round.

Sincerely,

Emma

It was fun, but I’m glad it’s over.

I for one am happy to see 2013 disappear into the history books.

Not for any particular, profound, deeply reflective reason, but to me the year change is a nice reminder that no matter what happened, life moves on. As Victor Kiam said, even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.

I fell on my face a few times last year. It really hurt, and it hurt people around me too, but made standing back up all the more worthwhile. Let us pause and look back on a few of the moments that made 2013 memorable:

  • Graduation from college with an Associates of Science and an Associates of Arts (and 3.69 GPA – not too shabby)
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  • Weddings – I was the maid of honor (for the first time!) in one, crashed another, and caught the bouquet in a third.
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  • I traveled to Nashville, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio. (Some favorite moments included going to the Grand Ole Opry, meeting my cousins’ children, and taking my mom on a roller coaster, respectively).
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  • Photography: I bought a camera, and quickly realized that I was over my head. However, with a little practice and some coaching, I discovered a true passion for portraits and close-up photography. (I also learned how much I love COLORS.)
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  • I started a blog. Thanks to all of you wonderful people who read it, I’ve kept writing. And I still can’t believe you’re still reading.
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I lost friends, won back some old ones, and gained a few new ones. I broke a heart, and I broke a car (to my knowledge, at least one of those has been repaired). I learned a lot about myself, and a lot of it surprised me. I discovered the strength of family and the power of a hug. I realized what it takes to be a true friend. I found freedom in forgiveness. And I was humbled by how much I need grace…

But for 2014, I’m ready for a year of discovery, exploration, adventure, and anticipation…
I want to take leaps of faith, even when they’re scary.
I want to make active choices for the life that I’m living NOW, not for the life I want to fall into my lap.
I want to work harder, push further, love deeper, and pray longer.
I want to enjoy the moment without my phone.
I want to look into my friends’ eyes and hear their hearts, not their news feeds.
I want to have stories to tell, songs to sing, moments to remember!
I want to enjoy contentedness with all that I have been abundantly blessed.
I want to learn how to love life as a process, not an event.

Beyond all of this, I want to become stronger in my faith and weaker in myself, and remember every day that without Him, I’d have no hope. No matter what year it is or season of life I’m in, He is still good and sovereign and on His throne.

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

– Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-15 (ESV)

Is it wrong to eat my mother?

It started out so well…

As I faced the Great Texas Icepocalypse of 2013, I knew I had two options: stay at my own house alone where I would eventually die of boredom and be eaten by a pack of wild, rabid dogs, OR stay with my parents and eat warm meals, watch endless games of football, and spend quality time with my mother. I opted for the latter. And besides, it was only supposed to last a couple of days.

It was going to be the perfect mother-daughter bonding time. I could already smell the buttery cinnamon wafting out of the oven, and hear the fire crackling in the woodstove and the tinkling laugher as we merrily hung the ornaments on the tree together, reminiscing over every cotton ball and popsicle stick ornament from my childhood.

It started out SO well…

Day 1.

I woke up like I was in an Ambien commercial. Refreshed, energized, and practically glowing from warm, restful sleep under an electric blanket. The scent of fresh coffee hit me before my feet hit the cold floor, and as I entered the living room, my mother called to me from the kitchen with a bright and cheerful “Hi there, honey!”

Heaven.

Though the weather outside was frightful, we had a beautiful day. Like the good daughter, I took the dogs out so my mom didn’t have to brave the cold. In return, she made homemade blueberry muffins. We cozied in on the couch, and had deep heart-to-heart discussions about love, faith, and healthy living.

Day 2.

No fresh muffins…

No worries, I ate the remnants from yesterday’s breakfast. Mom and I chatted a bit about the weather. We stayed inside. It was quiet.

The ice had compacted and solidified overnight, so it was clear that my stay with my parents would be a little longer than expected.

We eventually decided to watch a movie. Bridget Jones Diary kept us entertained and laughing for a good 2 hours, and then it was quiet again. Only 6 hours until bedtime… We were confined to the main living area of the house because it was the only one with heat, so we were grateful that we got along so well. Braving the cold, we went outside to take pictures of ice to post on all of our social media and spent the rest of the day scrolling through thousands of other filtered Instagram photos of merry sledders and icicles on rooftops.

Day 3.

We ran out of milk. Our morning greetings were reduced to low grunts.

The ice froze on, but our cheery dispositions slowly melted away over the long hours of confinement. I took a long hot shower for the sake of alone time. Our entertainment consisted of mocking each other.

Day 4.

All attempts at personal hygiene were abandoned. Roads were still impassible. Considered walking the 7 miles to my house. Leftover spaghetti for breakfast. Took turns chasing the cat out of the half-decorated Christmas tree. Sick of the living room. Stopped talking to each other. Spent the evening working on a jigsaw puzzle and bottle of wine. She finished one of them without me.

Day 5. (Today)

Contemplated cannibalism. Tried to chop up the ice on the back porch for fun. Didn’t work, gave up. Battery life on phone back down to 20% after refreshing Facebook 375,284 times. Argued with mom over how to properly scramble an egg. Wondered how long it would take wild, rabid dogs to consume an entire corpse.

The ice is threatening to melt… Kinda.

This has been such a great practice run for NEXT weekend when my mom and I will spend 4 days together in San Antonio for my birthday. We are still excited about the trip (The Hobbit, SeaWorld, and Riverwalk, oh my!), but this time we will be sharing a bedroom… Hilarity ahead…

Stay tuned…

To friendship.

4166182931_ccbc31bfa6True friends are the most rare and wonderful creatures in the world.

Because they can give that hug that stretches on for a few seconds longer and makes all the difference in the world.

Because when you say “I need to have an ugly-cry” they just open their arms and let you wail like a banshee into their sweatshirt until you’re exhausted from the effort. And then they don’t try to fix you afterwards.

Because they tell you to your face when you need to grow a spine and set a boundary.

Because when she comes to stay the night in your single-girl house complete with 30 pairs of shoes by the front door, hair in the shower drain, unopened mail piled on the table, and empty cereal boxes everywhere, she doesn’t flinch or get grossed out. And she’s totally okay with sleeping on a pallet made up of every single cushion from the living room furniture (because you still sleep on a twin bed).

Because he has a sticky note with your name on his wall. And he prays for you, every day. For like, the last year.

Because they know when to empathize with your pain, and when to tell you to stop wallowing in it.

Because age difference doesn’t apply when it comes to girl-talk.

Because they know you too well to put up with your crap. And you know that for Round One they will give you grace. In Round Two they will apply pressure. And if you make it to Round Three, you’d better get ready because they’re about to freaking storm the castle – and you will lose.

Because when you tell them about your most recent dilemma and heart wrenching drama, they point you back to Jesus.

Because when you haven’t seen them for months, you can pick up right where you left off. And it’s like falling back into your favorite book.

Because even though one of your biggest insecurities is the mountain range that lies beneath a heavy layer of concealer and foundation on your face, you can let her sooth and massage your bare skin and feel safe and loved.

Because they don’t give up on you. Even when you’re not the friendliest person in the world…

Because they open your eyes to a beautiful new world of colors, sights, and sounds.

Because you can spend hours together talking about Jesus and neither of you will run out of anything to say.

True friends are rare. They are valuable. They are deep. And they can love like nobody’s business.

And I am so grateful for them.

Glass Wall

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Two inches thick doesn’t seem like much.
Only five feet and ten inches tall,
The perfect size.
Seamless, smooth, and safe.

A strong defense, built over time,
Keeping everything out, and holding everything in.
It has only one flaw;
Complete transparency.

Everything inside is in plain sight.
No hidden details.
No disguises, no masks,
No facades, no sound.

The most colorful display set to the rhythm of
Silence.

Suddenly, two inches seems like a mile,
No matter which way it’s seen through.
Everything on the other side is so close,
And yet so far.

Saltwater slides down the clear encasing
As senses long to be reunited.
Sight with sound, and most importantly touch.

But at what cost?
Harder than diamonds, and more valuable too.
What does it take to break
A glass wall?

From the outside looking in,
Is what’s inside worth the effort?
From the inside looking out,
Is what’s outside worth the risk?

Only a few accepted the challenge
With gentle love and warm light
And the softest touch imaginable.
It shattered in a moment,
And covered the ground in white.

Two inches doesn’t seem like much
For a near six foot glass wall.
Although successful at it’s job,
I wish it wasn’t there at all.

Ugly is the new beautiful.

from Trey Ratcliff at www.stuckincustoms.com

“That was very brave of you to put yourself out there! I don’t think I could do that.”

“I wish I could express my feelings like you do, but I don’t think I can.”

“That was so [powerful, heavy, beautiful, honest]! It reminded me of myself, but I can’t share it like you can.”

First and foremost, thank you for all of the response to my last post. I really appreciate all the encouraging words, shares, and texts. It means a lot to me that people enjoy reading my blog and that they like what I have to say.

But to be honest, something in the middle of all of that encouragement and positive response was bothering me. A lot.

This nifty hosting site keeps a log of all of my blog traffic, and I can go in and view all kinds of fun and interesting statistics. Like how many page views I get per day, what countries my readers are in (shout out to the Philippines, and to Bahrain and Germany – you know who you are!), and how many followers I have. My favorite statistic is which topics are most popular. And while I’d love to say that your favorite posts are the ones in which I share a thoughtful opinion, some random quirky thoughts, or my growing photography skills, that’s not exactly the case.

My three most popular posts are not happy. They’re not funny, quirky, or light. They are serious, honest, heavy, and they were hard to write. It’s when I shared the uglier side of myself that my page views shot up and my phone started buzzing with notifications from readers.

And it bugs me. It’s not hard to deduce that people tend to be drawn to drama, but there’s something so horribly backwards in knowing that if I want to draw readers in, I will need to write about the ugly things I experience. The stuff that I try to otherwise hide in all of my social media. The deeper, more truthful parts of myself.

In other words, real life.

Isn’t it ironic? We are so drawn in to the stories of hardship, brokenness, struggles, and pain, especially if they have feel-good endings with freedom, redemption, and healing. We love to know how others are coping with their tragedies. We sympathize and cry with them. But secretly, we all have that ugly story, although we do our best to hide it from the world (especially if it doesn’t have a feel-good ending).

Yeah, I’m looking at you, Pinterest-Perfect Person. You aren’t fooling me.

If my ugliest stories are the ones that impact you the most, how do you think your ugly stories might impact someone else? Do you consider how transparent you are with your friends and family? Do you ever wonder how differently the world might look if we stopped pretending like we have it all together and admit that we are all jacked up?

That’s why I blog about the hard and ugly stuff. It’s real, and it’s part of my story. I have no problem confessing my failures and shortcomings, because at the end of the day, I can say with confidence that every sin and flaw in me was done away with at the cross. It is easier to let the world see my struggles and ugliness because in that transparency, people will see Christ at the center of my being, and every day I am just a little closer to being more like Him.

And the truth is, you can be honest too. You CAN let people know you’re struggling. It does take courage and vulnerability, but you’re a deeper person than your face-value Instagram or Twitter feed. You’re a person with real thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It’s okay to stop comparing your real life to everyone else’s projected dream life, and start being humbly transparent.

In reality, we’re all ugly, but there’s something incredibly beautiful about being able to acknowledge it.

Forgive me.

rainy tree

Everything in me tells me to run. Run far away, and try to forget.

Forget the pain. Forget the past. Forget him.

My knuckles are turning white, so I let go of the steering wheel and focus instead on trying to keep the tears inside my face. Composure is key, I try to tell myself, knowing that is just a lie. The last thing I want to do is go through those doors and face him, but there is nothing I want more than to have this behind me.

The guilt, torment, and sorrow hang heavy around my neck. I repented and prayed for forgiveness, but that necklace reminding me of my shame every time I look at my own reflection is a thick, heavy chain. And it hurts to wear every day.

Every link a different sin. Manipulation, control, physical gratification, selfishness, disrespect, dishonor… Anger. Bitterness. Lies…

Hot tears spill onto the clenched fists in my lap. Crap. I need to be strong!

No, you need to be weak. Let me be strong.

How can I even get the right words out? Nothing I say will be enough. With a failed engagement and tarnished purity between us, and most of it by my own doing, how can I stand before him and admit that in just a few months’ time, I had single handedly destroyed so much goodness in him that left his heart charred, bruised, broken, and trashed? Every word of accusation and disrespect that spewed from my mouth and every glare of disapproval and discouragement that left my eyes like a sharp sword had branded him like a hot, ugly iron. Every moment of red passion that I selfishly stole from him could not be returned.

Better that I turn around and leave. Let him hate me forever. I do not deserve what I am about to ask for.

No, you don’t deserve it. But it’s still the right thing to do. You will not regret this, I promise.

Isn’t His forgiveness enough? Is this really necessary? Shouldn’t I just try to forgive myself, forgive him, and move on? Yes, that would be so much easier.

Confess your sins to one another that you may be healed.

Healing… I want that, so badly. Even more than I want to run away.

Then it’s time.

Every step between my car and the front door feels longer and heavier than the one before it, and I am half a century older by the time I finally stand at the front desk, staring into his deep, brown eyes.

He is certainly bewildered by my presence after nearly two years of bitter separation, but he agrees to talk to me in private.

Fists shoved deep into my pockets, knees shaking uncontrollably, and my voice betraying every ounce of courage I struggle to muster up, I finally say it.

“I came here to tell you that I’m sorry.”

I can’t hold the tears back any more, so I quit trying. They flow down my cheeks and under my chin as the remorse pours out of my heart and through my mouth.

He is surprised, even humored at first, but his expression slowly hardens as he listens. Slowly even that melts away and the whites around his eyes turn red and shiny.

I cry and I talk until I am gutted out. The ugliness of my heart is before me, exposed for him to see. I wait and for a moment my heart catches in my chest, overcome with fear that those three words I so desperately crave will never come, but then he finally says it.

“I forgive you.”

The chain around my neck breaks and shatters on the concrete under my shaking feet. I realize I will never wear that chain again.

Alone in my car once more, I start to cry. This time, it’s different. This time, I’m free. And at long last, the healing process begins.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Sometimes, words are just too much to handle. At least, that’s the way I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. I’ve been intending to put out another blog post for some time, but the words aren’t there yet.

So here’s a happy post of pretty pictures displaying just a few of my favorite things.

1. Puppies. Especially when they’re not mine to take care of.

puppy

2. Light after a rain storm.

rainyday033. Color.

258026_2114620227100_3436647_o4. My siblings. (I miss you guys…)

527833_3899628331187_1737418460_n-15. When design elements come together perfectly. The first time.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 6.28.09 PM

Story behind this logo: The client wanted a permanent logo for this annual breast cancer awareness event. The town paints a symbolic pink stripe down Main Street, so the logo definitely needed to include the element of paint. She also wanted to include the iconic county courthouse as part of the design. With a bit of analysis and sheer dumb luck, the top of the courthouse just WORKED as the top of the paintbrush. The design was SO POPULAR that it earns it’s place in my design hall of fame.

6. Interesting art. (Found on the streets of Denton, TX)

IMG_13567. This guy playing the hang drum.

Hopefully my words will return to me and I’ll post something of substance relatively soon!

(Edit: I thought of a few more later last night! 🙂 These don’t have pictures… but they’re definitely on the list.)

8. The way my Canadian pastor says the word “clean.”

It’s really crisp on the first consonant, but then it rolls into the L in this really unique way that I can’t replicate. Must be a Canadian thing.

9. Crossing the last item off my to-do list.

10. The 5 minutes when my computer desktop is uncluttered and organized.

11. Grossing my mom out when I pop my joints.

12. Popping my joints.

13. Public speaking / Storytelling. Yeah, I love it. There’s something highly addictive in being able to captivate a listener with my words and leaving a particular message or emotion behind.

14. Completing a blog post.

Appreciating the Differences

Coffee-and-milk-coffee-909061_1024_768Let’s just say you’re arguing with someone that you love and it’s just taking them forever to realize that you’re right.

And in the midst of talking about it… she will say her point of view so succinctly with some clever metaphor that’s dear to your heart, and suddenly, you get it. It makes perfect sense.

After a little awkward silence, you realize you’re so inside her point of view, you completely forgot what you were arguing about… You have to ask.

“Excuse me, can you remind me what I was…?”

“Yeah. You said that I was…” and she’ll describe the whole thing back to you.

And you go “Oh, huh. Wow.”

And it’s sort of one of those figure ground things, and it switches and you can see it again…

I mean, you had drawn your conclusions! You had collected the data, connected the dots, you’d seen the picture emerge, you were certain.

Same dots, same data. Just draw the lines differently, different picture.

Wow, never would have thought of that!

– David Wilcox, Singer/Songwriter

Why is it that we are so bent on forcing others to agree with our perspective? Think the way I think. Hear the way I hear. Speak the way I speak. Love the way I love. Our motives are so often focused on fixing others to be more like ourselves so that we feel comfortable, accepted, and wanted.

But ultimately, I think we want to fix others so we feel right. Correct. Justified.

I guess I could preach at you the sermon you’ve heard over and over to love people for who they are, not who you want them to be. Stop trying to fix everyone. Learn how to communicate on their level, love in ways they can receive, be there for THEM, yadda yadda yadda, you know all of this.

So… why do so many people have such a hard time with just letting others be different from them? There’s little to no room for being okay with the fact that other people think, process, and just act differently than you do.

Maybe it’s just me… but lately I’ve had quite a few discussions with friends about their frustrations with communicating with the people they love most, and I hear both sides. One side is angry, saying “You’re refusing to communicate with me in on my terms,” and the other side is crying out in anguish, “You won’t let me communicate with you on my terms!”

What would happen if you learned to understand and accept that the person across from you is a different person? She thinks differently, she processes differently, she expresses herself differently, and she loves differently than you do. This is what makes her unique. This is what makes her valuable. You want to learn how to be a better friend to her? Try being okay with the fact that SHE IS NOT YOU.

And more often than not, it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s about learning who the other person is, and celebrating it!

So when you’re in the middle of that conflict with someone that you love, stop. Just stop. If it’s real love that exists between you, you should both be able to step back and understand that the other person is not trying to hurt you or be malicious. Love doesn’t scream “I’m not okay, and it’s YOUR fault! If you would just do X, Y, and Z, things would be so much better!” (Or on the opposite side of the same coin: “You’re not okay, and it’s YOUR fault! Tell me what’s wrong – in my language and timing, so I can understand you – so I can tell you how to fix yourself!”)

Love says “This is what I’m feeling. How did this make you feel? What can I do to make this right?” (And again, opposite side of the same coin: “I can see you’re not okay. Would you like to talk about it? You don’t have to, and I won’t make you. I love you, and I’m here for you.”)

I’m either rambling or ranting at this point… I guess my point is, just be willing to look at the dots again and see a different picture. Appreciate the differences.