Progress Report on “Dreading Winter (Slightly) Less”

I can find it hard to conjure up positive sentiments this time of year.

I am not a fan of snow. I am not a fan of ice. I am not a fan of winter activities. I am not a fan of the cold. I am not a fan of all the layers required to do simple activities like walking to the mailbox.

But, we chose to live in Eastern Canada and that means we have to endure get to experience all four seasons.

This winter I was determined to dread it all (slightly) less. I wrote about my intentions for making the season feel more joyful and full of warmth, literally and proverbially. It’s only the middle of January – and I don’t want to jinx things – but so far this winter has been so much better than last year (and most other winters in recent memory).

what’s working

I’ve gone ahead and implemented almost all the ideas I proposed in my Ways To Dread Winter (Slightly) Less post. Key highlights:

Photo flashback to Levi’s birthday (aka: “The worst birthday party ever!”)
  • Lighting candles. I don’t have to remember to do this because Levi begs to light the tapers on our dining room table each night at suppertime (and occasionally at breakfast too). Candles provide such a cheery glow and I genuinely look forward to dimming the lights and enjoying my meal by this flickering light source. And years after receiving them, I still adore our Danish candlesticks – gifted by my brother and his wife who live in Denmark, the birthplace of hygge.
  • Keeping our house warmer. We improved the insulation in our house dramatically this year and replaced almost a dozen windows/doors that were old and drafty. Also, we’ve adopted a new approach for our heat pump (leaving it at a constant, higher temperature instead of lowering it dramatically overnight and then having to turn on the oil furnace to get the house warm in the morning) that is working so well. Oil consumption has plummeted and we’re a lot warmer. It makes a huge difference for my mental state when I wake up warm…and stay warm.
  • I continue to use Magic Bags/the office space heater as needed. I don’t try to power through the cold. When I feel it settling into my bones, I leap into action.
  • Good clothing choices. I wear heated socks. Thanks to a well-timed Christmas gift, I now own a heated vest (thanks for the recommendation, NGS). And even if I’m just walking around the block to check the mail – and even if the sun’s shining – I always put on my snow pants. Out of all the cold-weather gear I own, these are my favourite item. They’re Columbia brand and extremely warm, but also very “flexible.” Most snow pants feel stiff and don’t sit properly on my hips, but these fit like a dream. We’ll walk the kids to school and I’ll come home and launch right into my workday without taking off my snowpants. They’re that comfortable!!
  • Leaving finger gloves in the car. We don’t have a heated steering wheel and having something that keeps the chill off my hands is important. I wear heavy-duty leather gloves when I’m exercising outside, but I can’t drive with all that bulk, so finger gloves are a must. Leaving them in the car means there is always a set to pull on when I need them most.
Alas, the gifts are gone but the kids are still rocking their new jammies and the mantle still looks decidedly festive.
  • Keeping some festive/wintery décor. The artificial tree in our basement is still decorated and twinkling away. I have never left it up this late into the new year, and now I’m debating getting a few heart-themed items at the DollarStore and converting it into a Valentine’s tree? It’s so nice to see that little burst of festive cheer when I walk downstairs (and because we never use it functionally at Christmas, it doesn’t feel “stale” to me). Our mantle swag is still twinkling away and I’ve left a few seasonally neutral items up on our hutch. There’s a wreath on our front door. I’m thinking mid-February I’ll officially dismantle these last vestiges of Christmas?
  • Regular visits with my parents. I’ve tried to be especially intentional about carving out time to see them several times each week. They weren’t able to relocate for the winter during COVID lockdowns, so it’s so nice to have them temporarily nearby and I’m making the most of their proximity (and tracking all our time together as part of a 2023 goal)!
  • Comfort food. This weekend I made up a batch of those Chocolate Chip Spice Cookies that have made their way around the interwebs. This was my third batch since Suzanne linked to the recipe back in November and they are officially a family favourite (one person said, and I quote: “I could eat like a hundred of these.”). Suzanne called it “The Perfect Fall Cookie” – I’m here to tell you, it’s the perfect winter cookie, too (and, I suspect, the perfect spring and summer cookie). The house smelled delicious and, wow, they taste amazing warm from the oven. We’ve had curries and soups and I’ve been drinking Holiday Chai Tea (bring on the Jamaican rum flavouring!) every morning. Yum.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the weather so far has been spectacular. We’ve had a few cold days (the lowest around -12 C) but, for the most part, things have been hovering just above zero. Warm temperatures make it easier to keep – and stay – warm in and out of doors.

I know there are long, dark, cold days ahead but it is a major morale boost to be this far into the winter with a smile on my face and nary a goosebump. And I still have some tricks up my sleeve! We were recently gifted a puzzle (300 pieces and a very doable picture – no huge expanses of blue sky!); I have two TV series I want to binge with the kids; I have several exciting books waiting in the wings.

In terms of my mission to dread winter slightly less, I call it a resounding success.

Your turn. How has winter been in your neck of the woods? Do you find it harder to temperature regulate for the heat or cold? What’s your best go-to solution to offset cold or dreary winter weather?

Remembering That Christmas Can Be the Hardest Season Of All

I mentioned a few weeks ago how my childhood Christmases have been categorized as being of the “Norman Rockwell” variety.

This is largely true.

I did grow up enjoying idyllic holidays. Year after year we would sing as a family around the Christmas tree or sit on the hearth in front of a blazing fire watching holiday movies together – the house filled with delicious smells and festive decor. For me, Christmas lived up to the lyrics purporting It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

But there was one very sad Christmas, and it has informed the way I view the holidays and the emotional impacts on those suffering a loss or enduring hardship. Because, quite frankly, Christmas can be the most difficult time of the year.

I was almost 12 years old. I remember exactly what I was doing that December afternoon – watching an episode of the soap opera Passions (not a sanctioned TV show for the daughter of a Baptist minister; DO NOT TELL MY PARENTS).

The phone rang.

I was home alone with my brother who was sleeping; he had just been diagnosed with mononucleosis, which explained his unrelenting fatigue. I kidded him about this endlessly, joking it was from having a girlfriend (mono often being called “the kissing disease”). I had gone so far as to cut paper lips out of red construction paper; I had taped them all over his bedroom door before he arrived home from university.

When I answered the phone, I was devastated to learn one of my sisters had gone into pre-term labour.

This was in an era without cell phones and I wasn’t able to tell my parents until they called to say they were coming home from work.

I woke up my brother.

I remember Amy Grant’s version of My Grownup Christmas List playing on the radio.

I remember crying.

I remember the supper we ate that night: broiled pork chops, whipped potatoes, and peas. I remember everything tasted like sawdust.

I remember getting into the car to drive to the hospital in a blizzard; watching the snow hit the windshield, it felt like we were driving through a snow globe. The giant hill leading up to the hospital was treacherous. The minister coming to visit my family couldn’t get his car up the hill – he kept sliding back to the bottom. Eventually, he gave up and parked his car at the base of the hill, and simply walked the rest of the way.

My infant nephew didn’t survive, stillborn just a few days before Christmas.

I remember going to my sister’s home while she and her husband were still in the hospital. The crib was set up in the nursery with homemade blankets hanging over the side. There were presents under the tree for the baby-to-be.

Christmas Day that year was gorgeous – crisp and cold with a perfect white blanket of snow. I remember leaving the house to go for a walk through unplowed streets while arrangements were being made with the funeral home. On Christmas Day.

This is a tragic story for so many reasons, but the proximity to Christmas makes the rawness of it all even more palpable. Because pain at Christmas is a special kind of pain.

I love posting about cheerful, uplifting holiday topics. Christmas is a time of great hope and joy, especially for those – like me – who celebrate Jesus’ birth and what that means for the future. Yet it can also be a very difficult season.

For those grieving a loss or struggling with unforeseen challenges, battling anxiety, burdened by past trauma, struggling with physical, financial, or relational tensions, or questioning the future, the pain of life has the potential to overshadow everything else.

So this year, as much as we’re able, let’s aim to be kind, mindful, and a true encouragement to those in our lives who might be struggling. Let’s leave our hearts open to meeting people where they’re at – whether that’s a state of joy or grief. Let’s be willing to acknowledge the pain others may be facing and journey with them.

Hard emotions don’t need to be (shouldn’t be!) wrapped up in fancy paper and bows and stuffed under the tree. We don’t have to say: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Really and truly it’s okay to say: This is hard or I still grieve the passing of a loved one, or I didn’t expect this reality for my life.

There is no expiration date on grief. There is no prize for saying everything is “fine” when, in reality, the opposite is true.

If you are struggling this Christmas, I pray you find peace and comfort; but, also, I hope you recognize that lament and grief have a place at Christmas, too.

Header photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

More Thoughts On the Power of the “Right” Words

This seems like a fitting day to post on the power of the “right” words because my second-born child – and favourite son* – turned eight this morning. And when I was pregnant with Levi, someone said exactly the right words at exactly the right time.

*When I was younger my Mom would often say, “You’re my favourite…youngest daughter.” It always gave me a thrill. To be called favourite anything felt special, so using this designation today honours her diplomatic wording all those years ago.

By way of a quick summary: we received some unsettling test results at our 20-week ultrasound and walked away from the hospital with a 1 in 4 chance our baby was going to be born with an underlying health condition. The whole experience was exhausting and the weight of uncertainty sometimes felt unbearable. When we shared this news with our friends, family, and church community, people rushed to offer sympathy and supportive stories of how they had encountered others in similar experiences where “everything had turned out ‘fine.'” Perhaps, under different circumstances, this would have been the response I needed to hear.

This time it was not.

And then someone I didn’t know very well came to me and simply said: I want you to know that you can call me – any time of the day or night – and I will pray for you.

That’s it. No promise that things would be okay. No story about someone else’s experience.

About a week after Levi was born – healthy – a different friend asked: Tell me how you’re actually feeling about everything that has happened.

I was stunned by this question. Because in the middle of a wave of relief and joy, there were so many other emotions. Guilt over my relief. Sadness over how much time I had spent in worry. Exhaustion from the whole experience. Everyone else in my life – logically – assumed all I felt was relief. But my emotions were extremely chaotic (hello postpartum hormones), and to have someone genuinely interested in plumbing deeper – beyond the situationally “appropriate” feelings – was a powerful experience.

I’ve also written about when a friend told me, in response to my catastrophizing about an inability to breastfeed, that my daughter could “still be a doctor.” Those words were exactly what I needed to hear and tangibly impacted my long-term view of my failed attempts. All of this accomplished in less than 10 words.

I’m not particularly good at finding the right words at the right time. That’s one of the reasons I like to write – I can take time to process and measure my speech to match the posture of my heart.

Also, no doubt we’ve all been wounded – perhaps for life – by unkind words. But the reverse is true, too. The right words can radically impact how we view the world or ourselves.

Finally, Happy Birthday to my sweet boy. Always and forever, my very favourite son.

1 day old
1 year old

Your turn. Do you know someone who has an uncanny ability to find the right things to say to lift a conversation, soothe an emotional wound, or enact change? Can you think of a time when someone has said “just the right thing” when you needed it most?

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Ways To Dread Winter (Slightly) Less

I’ve never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. But guess what, I still know that Winter is coming.

Years ago an extended family member was late in finalizing some items for a birthday. Despite the fact it wasn’t even my birthday, I was still a bit huffy about the whole situation. In my mind, there was no excuse. Birthdays are a set date – after it’s over one year, you have exactly 364 days to prepare for the next one.

But I’m no better. I know winter is coming – as it did in 2022 and will again in 2024 – and yet it always seems to catch me with my proverbial pants down.

And I need my pants – warm and fleece-lined, please and thank you – belted snugly and tucked into reliable winter boots if I’m going to come through the next few months with a smile on my face.

So when I was out for a walk (on an unseasonably warm November day), I voice memoed a list to myself titled: Ways to Dread Winter (Slightly) Less. Here’s what I came up with…

to offset the cold

So much of my discomfort over the winter months comes from being too cold. An ounce of prevention is worth ten pounds of cure because once I’m cold it is virtually impossible for me to warm up without an extremely hot shower.

  • Turn up the heat. The extra insulation we added to our house during renovations should help a lot, but I also need to turn up the heat. I won’t win any medals for being cold all the time. We limit energy outputs in many other ways, and I should just turn up the thermostat and not always think in dollar signs.
  • Invest in good winter boots. I still haven’t pulled the trigger on any of your suggestions…
  • Start the car sooner. I always leave this until the last minute. I know idling is not good for the environment, but for both my sanity and safety reasons (without a garage the windows can be frosted and cloudy)…I need to start the car with more buffer before having to leave the house.
  • Heat up Magic Bags constantly.
  • Use the space heater in the office. It really does help so much!
  • Wear heated socks and buy a second set. One of the reasons I didn’t wear heated socks every day is because I would ration them to offset the need to recharge the batteries…
  • Shower twice if I need to. This is a surefire way to get me warm.
  • Use the blow dryer on my body. I so rarely use this trick, but it works very well. If I close the door to our tiny ensuite bathroom and blow hot air all over my (clothed) body this is a great way to relieve bone-chilling cold.

to offset a mental slump

The winter is dark and cold and, well, it can feel long and exhausting and sad. So I plan to:

  • Make an effort to visit my parents every week at their rental house (bonus points if this visit involves a warm beverage).
  • Make more desserts. I really fell out of the routine of baking, but the warmth of the oven and the comfort of a sweet treat at the end of the day is a real mood boost.
  • Make the house as cozy as possible. Light candles, turn on lamps, simmer orange peels with cinnamon sticks on the stove. Basically, I need to channel all the Danish hygge wisdom I’ve picked up from my sister-in-law.
  • Take each day at a time. Yes, the winter is long, but each day is bearable. I don’t need to worry about the next snowstorm if it’s sunny outside today.
  • Have a plan for school snow days. These are inevitable! I should come up with a loose default schedule that includes work (clean rooms?), play (a round of our favourite game, a set time for movies) and movement (shoveling or a walk around the block).
  • Come up with a list of shows/movies to watch over the winter. As an added bonus, I might categorize: whole family, me with the kids, me with John, and solo. All screen time should involve Magic Bags, a robe, and a very fluffy blanket.
  • Save some great books for the winter months.
  • Try to get away somewhere warm. This has only happened once and it was incredible – I’d love to repeat this experience in 2023.

Your turn. Give me all your best suggestions of how I can dread winter (slightly) less. Once Christmas is over, I tend to hit a major slump in terms of energy and enthusiasm for doing anything other than hibernating (and complaining about the cold). I want to do better this year – help me out!!

Header photo by Alex Padurariu on Unsplash

When Your Brain Feels Broken…

*I wrote this at the end of the summer – a point in time when I was struggling emotionally for a number of reasons. Writing is cathartic for me, so the simple act of translating these scattered thoughts into words helped me process my experience. I shared this piece with a few people, but opted to push pause for a while before publishing it for a wider audience. There will be ups and downs in life and I’m so thankful that, currently, things have been decidedly “up” for me but this essay still feels relevant and, I hope, if you read this at a period when your life might be in a “down” phase, that you feel encouraged to reach out, find a patient ear, speak to a trained professional, and identify positive changes that will support your mental/physical health and bring joy.*

Years ago, when I was a little girl – around four or five – I injured my foot. I’d been playing on a swing about a hundred yards from our house. When I reached the top of my upward climb, I launched out and off the swing. I’d made this leap countless times before and was accustomed to landing safely.

But that summer afternoon I landed hard and awkwardly. Something snapped, but I didn’t know it at the time. I just knew my foot hurt.

Memories are vague, but I suspect I ran to find my mother in a fit of tears. She wasn’t overly concerned; as a nurse, she’d seen worse. I could still walk and flex my foot. Also, since I was the youngest of four kids, she had been around the block treating childhood ailments. (Her attitude may also have been a reflection on my tendency to exaggerate reality for dramatic effect.)

My complaints continued intermittently, but she brushed them off – handing me an ice pack when groaning crescendoed. Over a week later we were at a local baseball field watching my brother compete in a tournament. I wandered off and my mother happened to see me at a distance, limping across the playground. Even when I didn’t know I was being watched, I was still maintaining a posture of pain. It was at that moment she decided something was actually wrong and that’s how we wound up in the radiology department of our local hospital.

An X-ray filled in the gaps. I had broken a bone at the top of one foot. It was a small break and since several weeks had passed since I hopped off the swing, there was no point in putting on a cast. But, effectively, we needed to pretend like I was wearing one.

The doctor prescribed rest, ice, and time.

My mother, understandably – and to my utter satisfaction – launched into a guilt response. I milked the experience for all it was worth. I remember lounging on a picnic blanket on our front lawn, a battery-operated cassette player beside me, a plate of snacks at my feet. I wasn’t ashamed of my injury. It was a fact and I was following orders: rest, ice, and time – served up with a side of Ritz crackers and Phil Coulter tapes (because I was cool like that).

The whole story has gone down as part of family legend.

I’ve been talking – and thinking – a lot about mental health lately.

I’m not thinking about mental health because it’s fashionable or trendy. I’m thinking about mental health because it’s real. And I’m talking about mental health because the older I get, the more I realize all of us are eventually impacted – directly or indirectly – by mental health challenges.

But it also feels like mental health is still so far removed from the openness and transparency we afford physical health. (I realize the two are inextricably linked but, for the purposes of this post, I’m going to treat them in isolation.)

I get that not everyone wants to share and I understand if not everyone wants to hear me share! But often, especially since becoming a mother, I’ve felt like everyone else has it all together, at least mentally. That everyone else spends their days taking pictures of daisies in the field (proverbially speaking). And maybe I add to this perception because taking pictures of daisies in a field very much sounds like something I would love to do (literally speaking).

I know people who are even-keeled. These people ride the waves of life with a calm demeanor that is at the very core of their personality. I hope this is you and I sense, from some of the lovely comments I receive/from reading your blogs – there are some very even-keeled people who visit this space. As Ron Swanson would say: Bully for you.

This is not me. I like to think if I study hard enough, try long enough, get good enough – emotional waves won’t ever knock me down again.

But they still do. And that is frustrating.

I’ve grown to dislike the term mental health. I’m not sure why – perhaps because it feels clinical and vague? When my foot was broken, I didn’t tell people: Behold my physical health issues! I said: I have a broken foot.

But here’s the rub – you can’t see a broken brain.

My brain is not broken, of course. I write e-mails and go on walks and put French braids into an 11-year-old’s hair and fry onions and drive a car and make my bed every morning.

But I also had several dozen panic attacks over the summer. How’s that for a tidbit to accompany your morning coffee?

Before this point, I had experienced exactly two panic attacks in my life, almost a decade apart. So this is not my norm. And this recent run-in with a panicked response left my brain feeling completely and utterly broken.

So why write about my experience here?

This space has become a creative outlet. I don’t want it to be an open door for all my woes. I like having a platform that reminds me to focus on the good and to discuss and celebrate all the wonderful moments that make life so rich and beautiful. I am deeply privileged.

But if I had a broken foot, would I hide my cast? No. I’d ask people to sign it! I’d want others to support me and follow along with my healing process. I’d have people open some doors, pull out my chair, grab my crutches when I forgot them by the couch. I could sip coffee on a café patio and sing along to my favourite songs on the radio. But showering would be a proper nuisance and I’d likely complain about the infernal itching under my cast. I’d be completely useless on a beach volleyball team. And everyone would understand – because a broken foot feels like an accident.

A broken brain feels like weakness.

It makes me feel human.

And sometimes it’s hard to recognize the limitations of humanity. As one of my favourite Bible verses beautifully references it, I am a jar of clay. But I’d rather be an invincible superhero! Impervious to pain! Undaunted by challenges! Superheroes don’t have panic attacks at 4 am – by that point in the day they’re already out saving the world in Spandex.

But I am human. And you are too, so you can likely relate.

Last summer was full of adventure. Sometimes the beauty literally left me speechless. This is 100% true and my reality.

But on other days (or sometimes even those same days when beauty was taking my breath away), my emotions felt like one big tangled mess. And as quaint as that line might be about feeling “broken, but beautiful” here’s my truth: when I’m feeling “broken”, the brokenness doesn’t usually feel beautiful. It just feels…broken. And, well, I’d rather nothing ever felt broken to begin with.

Thankfully I haven’t had a panic attack in months; I’ve talked to medical professionals and feel so much better emotionally. It helps that renovations are over, company is gone, major career decisions have been made, a challenging neighbourhood situation has de-escalated, and the kids have entered a new, exciting season of independence. The chaos in my environment – and in my head – has had a chance to settle down. I’m trying (mostly successfully) to frame the whole experience as part of a natural process of growth and development.

But it was also really, really hard.

And I have to admit, chances are good I’ll wind up in the center of another emotional storm again. That’s life. But for now, I’m taking one day at a time and that feels good.

Also, for the record, while I am not out picking daisies in a proverbial field all day long, I am committed to stopping to admire them when I come across a patch.

Header photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Bully For You - Bully For You - Sticker | TeePublic
I couldn’t resist.

System Overload <> A Poem

He likes to fix computers and so I told him once:
You know, I’m like a computer.
Every day I Wake from Sleep to find 5 windows already open. And then there’s the 15 minimized from the day before.

He looked at me and said:
I usually shut those down so I can focus – one window at a time.

Oh, I replied. That must be nice.

I searched for the red “X” but couldn’t find it.

And the Power Off button seems to be missing from my machine.

Your turn. Do you ever feel like you have 50 “tabs” open at any given time? I started using this analogy many years ago – even if all those tabs are minimized, they’re slowing down my processing capabilities! – and it still feels so relevant. I’ve started deleting some “file folders” so there is less fodder to clutter up my home screen…but it’s a constant battle!

Header photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Turning My Frown Upside Down…

Often, it’s the littlest of things that help lift me out of a sour mood. Sometimes I don’t even realize I have a furrowed brow and tense shoulders. But then I’ll do one of the items from the list below and – Wow! I feel so much better!

I’m not above wallowingat all! – and I try to give myself lots of space to feel whatever emotions are relevant and necessary in the moment. But, it can also feel empowering to take tiny steps toward boosting my mood. Especially as I’m coming off a week where everything felt slightly off-kilter and I was a bit… irritable.

When I was drafting this post, I jotted everything down in a stream of consciousness; while there are many more that would likely be relevant, in reviewing the list it does seem highly reflective of what (currently) works for me.

mood boosters

  • A trip to my favourite cafe. This never fails. It feels like a luxury. And I love people-watching in this space. It’s predominantly a senior-citizen clientele and I can’t get enough of watching the ladies come in with their fresh perms and canes, sipping lattes and having a “chin-wag with the girls”. #LifeGoals
  • Filling my water bottle. I don’t even have to take a drink; just the act of self-love of having a full water bottle gives me a jolt of pleasure and energy.
  • LOUD music. It needs to have a great beat and it really does need to be loud.
  • Freshly mopped floors.
  • Tidying a space.
  • Preparing and consuming a cup of tea. The whole process acts as a reset. Putting on the water to boil, picking out my tea, waiting for it to brew and bustling around the kitchen while I wait. And then – drinking it of course! My favourite for this time of year is Stash brand Decaf Chai.
  • Going for a walk.
  • Writing.
  • Laughing.
  • Driving. Traffic issues aside, I find there to be something inherently relaxing about sitting in the car and driving. The kids are contained and (mostly) don’t fight. I can listen to loud music on the radio (see above).
  • An empty laundry basket.
  • Opening curtains in the morning; closing curtains at night and turning on our outside house lights + lamps in the bedrooms/living room.
  • Brushing my teeth. This doesn’t necessarily spark “joy” in a conventional sense, but it really does boost my confidence and, maybe it’s the mint, but I swear it also gives me a little energy boost as well.
  • When the kids are both asleep early enough that I can sneak in and watch them.
  • Taking a hot shower.
  • Putting on basic makeup/getting dressed in “normal” clothes. Sometimes it’s nice to lounge around in exercise gear all day, but if I’m feeling a bit low, taking 10 minutes to put on some mascara, brush my teeth, and put on slightly less stretchy pants can really reframe my outlook.

Also, a huge thanks to Katie over at Law and Creative (Hi, Katie!) who inspired me to write this post.

Your turn. What things are guaranteed mood boosters for you? Maybe lighting a candle, snuggling a pet, 30 minutes with a good book, or going for a long run?

Header photo by Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

Weighing Judgments

I can’t remember where I read the following quote (it might have been Brené Brown?) but it went something along the lines of: Care the most about the judgments of people who care the most about you.

(Side note: apparently both spellings are correct – judgements and judgments – though I’m still not sure which one looks “right”.)

This advice came at an opportune time; I have been ruminating over some unpleasant feedback I received relating to a tricky interpersonal situation. My tendency is to avoid conflict. At the end of the day I want to make – and keep – everyone happy with me. (Oh how desperately I want everyone to be happy with me!)

But here’s the thing, if someone is critical or hurtful or we simply don’t see eye to eye on a matter, I need to weigh my response in proportion to that person’s investment and overlap in my life.

I need to care the most about what the people closest to me say – what’s their feedback? Is the negative information I’m getting from a socially-distant person in line with what I’m hearing from those who love me, who have my best interests at heart, and whose input I most value?

In this case, the feedback didn’t align. While this doesn’t mean I should totally disregard the negative feedback (there are elements of truth to it, I admit), I need to weigh its impact on my decision-making accordingly.

Easier said than done, of course. But it’s likely wise, moving forward, to care the most about the judgments/feedback of people who care the most about me.


Header photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash