I Don’t Know How to be a Friend

Friendships are typically two-way relationships. Typically. As I look at all of my friendships, I see that I have a door up and it is a one-way only door. I don’t share with my friends as they share with me. Why? It’s not like I don’t trust them.

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Stop Treating Me Like I’m Stupid

My husband and I were talking about something recently that hit a trigger of mine. The thing is, I hadn’t realized it was a trigger until after this situation. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but I remember the feeling I had. It was the feeling that he was saying something in a tone or in a way that made him come off as though he was all-knowing and that my thought or my lack of knowledge on the subject brought out my stupidity. I felt like he was telling me I was stupid and his thought was the only thing that could be right. 

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Protect Your Health

Let me start this off by saying that I’m not using this post to tell you how to be healthy and I’m not giving any tips on how to lose weight. If that is what you are looking for, you won’t find it here. What I am talking about it is what I’m doing to make sure that I take care of myself first.

2020 has been a difficult year, nobody can deny that. With this difficult year, a lot of us have had to really get grounded in what we believe is important. For me, one thing has been my overall health. I started the year off not drinking and being impatient to get back to working out hard to get back to a specific weight. I was kind of working on my mental and emotional health, but not giving the effort I really wanted to. I wanted to start my new job off right and I did.

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Taking Up Space

Just like most people my age, or even those older than me, I was told that kids are not meant to be heard. I was yelled at for running, for stomping, for being too loud, for being bossy, for almost everything. Because of that, I developed a complex. I new that if I was noticed in whatever I was doing, I was doing something wrong and I was taking up too much space. Everything about my life was about everybody else because I got the worst anxiety attacks if I felt that I was ever the center of attention. To say it was uncomfortable, rather to say it is uncomfortable, is putting it mildly.

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Today’s Way of Life

As of writing this post, the United States has been in some sort of COVID-19 limbo for about seven months. A lot of people’s lives have been turned upside down while some haven’t really been affected much at all. To be honest, I don’t know one person who hasn’t been affected in one way or another, but I am sure there are some out there. Life today is very different than it was just over seven months ago.

Life for me has changed moderately, mostly with travel and my husband’s switch to most likely permanently working from home with me. Oh and everybody and their brother deciding to buy campers or tents and heading to the mountains and leaving a fucking mess. Life has slowed down and I am grateful for it.

This year we had a lot of travel planned to multiple places for vacation and family events or conferences. All of it has been canceled. All of my business travel has been canceled. I haven’t gotten on a plane or left the state since March. We don’t even know if our normal holiday travels will happen. I was so excited for our new airport to open in September and book travel specifically around the opening. That has not happened for me. I have no idea when I’ll get to check out the new airport. All of these things are trivial in the thirty thousand foot view of our world right now.

Eddie is an extrovert who needs people. He thrives on working in a setting with people that he can interact with all day. If he doesn’t interact with multiple people, it’s almost as if he is a bit ADD. It’s like his energy builds up and has nowhere to go. When his company sent everybody to work from home, we assumed he would be back in the office within weeks. Hell, I think society at large assumed life would return to normal relatively quickly. Unfortunately for Eddie, it is looking like quarantine is actually pushing his company to make the decision for his team to work from home permanently. Thankfully we have enough space to have our own offices, but that doesn’t bode well for an extrovert who can’t go to concerts or do other things to get out his energy. There are most definitely many people who are just like my husband and who are probably struggling. Life for them has taken a turn they can’t easily remedy.

There are more people than ever in the mountains and camping. I wouldn’t ever want to deprive someone from getting out in nature or claim that the mountains are mine, but for goodness sake, clean up after yourself and put your damn fires out!! I am tired of finding a camping spot only to have to use almost an entire trash bag to clean up other people’s messes. Leave nature how it is intended to be. And be responsible. Put out your fires all of the way. Utah has had more fires this year started by people abandoning campfires than any previous year. I am sitting on the porch with smoking skies from all of the fires from here and further west. I know Utah isn’t the only state with fires and I know that a lot of the fires are from irresponsible people.

We’ve also benefited from the economy and market since the shutdown in March. We were able to refinance our home at a great rate and get some big renovation projects paid for. We’ve also had more time to get into the mountains and camping since we aren’t using Eddie’s paid time off for all of the other travel. We’ve been challenged to redefine what is important to us. We’ve been able to spend more time taking care of each other and our home.

As I sit here and write this post, I am grateful for my life slowing down so much that I can really define what is truly important to me. I get to revisit my goals and enjoy an afternoon after getting things done around the house. Life is different today from what it was like in March. As we head into the fall, I am looking forward to the slower pace and ability to spend more time taking care of our home and each other.

Life may have been turned upside down, but it doesn’t mean that life can’t be good. Find the good in everything because if you don’t, you will miss something great.

I Embrace Me

As I’ve talked about many, many times, I’ve always struggled with being true to who I am. I’ve never truly embraced me for me. Until recently. I am really starting to get the hang of just being me. Me as a happy person, me as a grumpy person, me as a friend and a wife, me.

Understanding and embracing who we are, how we’ve been created, is the launching pad for living a fearlessly genuine life, where we’re no longer pretending or trying to be something other than what we are on the inside.

Jen Hatmaker, Fierce Free Fire

The key to my progress of late starts with understanding who I am. It means peeling back all of the layers that I’ve built up to get to my core to understand who I was created to be. I have not lived a genuine life embracing myself. I have lived a life embracing who I thought other people wanted me to be. I am no longer going to pretend to be anyone for anybody. I am going to show my true me.

Who is the true, genuine me?

I am still discovering this. As I continue to peel back all of the layers I’ve built up, I get to know myself more and more. This process is exhilarating and it is scary. It’s like I’m in a new relationship and the other person is the me that I’ve been hiding all of these years. I am taking chances and living into things that I’ve avoided before. I went camping a couple of weekends ago and woke up in a frustrated mood after sleeping like shit. I was kind to other people, but instead of getting mad as myself for being frustrated, I let it roll. I let myself be in that space and feel those feelings. Soon enough, the frustration just slid away. I also had the first conflict with a friend that I’ve had in a really long time. Fuck that sucked. We had differing opinions and I told her my opinion, not to tell her she was wrong, but to stand up for myself. We agreed to disagree and that it’s okay to have different opinions. It sucked, but it felt better to be true to me than to cave or just go silent until a new topic arose.

I’m also leaning into the things that might make other people annoyed with me. I have some serious (maybe not to the diagnosable point) OCD tendencies. I also have some strong beliefs about what it means for my home to look sloppy. I prefer to have everything in it’s place and if there are piles, I feel like a slob. My husband disagrees and thinks my view is only me thinking about or caring what other people think. Yeah, I can’t deny that is part of it. But, it is a deep-rooted feeling. I’m caring less and less what some people think because I know that what I think matters more.

Then there comes the topic of weight and health. I’m not perfect in my healthy eating. I want to do better, but I know that if I diet or get extremely strict, I will go so far the other way. I no longer want to eat healthy to lose weight. I don’t care. I don’t care that I have a bit of a gut or the my thighs are flabby. I have finally come to the realization that I do not have to fit anybody else’s opinion of health. My health journey is now primarily focused on how I feel and eating or being active to embrace habits that might help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

I embrace me. All of me. Even the parts that I historically have not liked.

I embrace me.

Who Am I?

I am Crystal, a strong, beautiful woman. I am a women who knows her values and lives by them. I am a proud, successful woman who never settles for less than what I know I can earn through hard work and dedication. I am an adventurer. I am me.

Notice, I didn’t say I am a project manager or I am a wife or I am a dog mom. I am those things, but those things don’t define who I am to my core. Those are things that are who I am because my core shapes them. Being a wife is shaped by who I truly am. Being a project manager comes from who I am to my core. Being a dog mom comes from the love I have and can give to these precious pups.

Who we are is not defined by who we are attached to or what we do for work. Who I am is not defined by anybody but myself. Who you are is not defined by anybody outside of yourself. You disagree? Then there are some changes you need to make in your life.

I am an individual before I was ever anything else. If I were to represent my union before myself, then I would be discounting who I am for who we are. I do not expect my husband to represent us before himself. He sure as hell tries (the stupid ‘happy wife, happy life’ way of thinking), but I don’t want our relationship to come before each of us as an individual.

I am an individual before I am an employee or manager. Being true to who I am and being me first helps me to be a better employee and manager. By bringing my individual experience and beliefs and education to my role, I can have a diverse team that works well together.

Who are you? Have you sat and thought about who you would be if you didn’t have your spouse, your children, your pets, your job, anything other than yourself?

Who are you?

Sensitive to Sounds and Smells

Another item on the list explaining the traits of an empath is the sensitivity to sounds, smells, or sensations. I don’t see myself as being sensitive to sensations, but I sure am sensitive to sounds and smells.

For me, my sensitivity to smells is primarily that I can smell things much more intensely, much faster, or that I smell them when nobody else does. I don’t know if anybody else is this way, but last week when I was walking through the grocery store, I walked within 10 feet of the peaches and through my mask, the smell of perfectly ripe peaches hit me. It was like a glorious slap in the face. I tend not to buy fruit because of the high natural sugar content, but I most definitely had to buy a couple peaches that day.

Now sounds. Oh sounds are my nemesis. Especially the sounds of someone tapping or banging intensely on their keyboard. My husband taps all of the damn time. If he isn’t tapping, his foot or knee is shaking. Somehow he is always doing something that creates a consistent tapping or swishing sound. It drives me absolutely batty. Dogs cleaning themselves loudly, yeah that is just obnoxious. The air compressor is filling, I’m leaving the area.

There are so many sounds that trigger an almost immediate reaction to make the person or thing stop. Then there are the sounds that I crave. Birds chirping, a creek rushing, or crickets singing their song. Those are sounds that I could go everyday hearing consistently. When I am listening to any of these sounds, especially when I’m in nature and they aren’t just some white noise I’m playing, I must restrain myself for telling people to shut up so I can hear them.

Sensitivity to sounds, smells, or sensations doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Yes, I have sensitivities that drive me insane, but I also have sensitivities that bring my soul to life. The thing about being sensitive to anything is that you are the only person being affected and if it is bad, then you decide that it is bad, and if it is good, you decide that. Nobody gets to tell any of us that our sensitivity is bad or good. We get to make that decision for ourselves.

Making Fun of Me

Growing up I was made fun of for my clothes, my shoes, my hair, my home, my parents, my face, my glasses, my everything. I was continuously told everything that was wrong about me. Including being smart. It gave me a complex that I’m still working on today. There is a lot of baggage there that I have to unpack.

This baggage still creeps into my life today. Little things feel like big things. Little things like my husband giving my sarcastic crap about banging my hand on the corner of the counter as I walk by because I’m clumsy and it happens all the fucking time. We have been together for almost nine years and this isn’t the first time he has been sarcastic about it. But, this time and the time before it caused me to lose my shit.

I felt attacked. I felt like he was criticizing me. I felt like every time he acknowledges when I hurt myself, he is making fun of me. All of that emotion bubbled up and came out on him.

It isn’t unusual. Baggage builds up for years if it isn’t addressed. Then one day it explodes. And it probably explodes when you least expect it.

I took the approach of trying to understand why he continuously commented or pointed it out. He didn’t understand where my questioning was coming from since it has been “our well-known joke” for so many years. He couldn’t understand why all of a sudden I changed from joking about it with him to feeling attacked. We disagreed. Doors were slammed. Feelings were hurt.

He said he would stop. He said he would work on it but asked that I not expect an immediate change to an old behavior. He said he didn’t realize it was hurting my feelings. He didn’t understand the change in perspective.

Neither do I.

I don’t know that he should stop. Is this one of those things I should work on accepting? Is this one of those things that my baggage is causing more issues than necessary? Is this something I could actually lean into and have fun with?

Probably.

I should do the work, not him. It is an internal issue, not his issue. He is sarcastic by nature. I am sensitive and serious. Probably because I was made fun of. I probably got so serious because I was trying to avoid being made fun of. I got tired of getting picked on and feeling like shit. So I limited myself trying to become invisible to their comments.

Eddie isn’t making fun of me. He isn’t criticizing me. Eddie actually loves me and is a very sarcastic person. He is very easy-going. He is the complete opposite of me.

So what did I do?

After a few hours and during a walk with the dogs, I told him not to change. I told him I am going to work on my baggage issues. We talked about what might be causing my increased sensitivity to things that haven’t ever bothered me before. The discussion led to talking about other things I’m working on and through.

The lesson here? No matter how hard we work at unpacking our baggage, it may still creep back up into our daily life. Also, talk it out. You might not be able to talk it out right then, but cool off, journal or find a way to have some introspection, and then talk out whatever caused you to lose your shit. It doesn’t hurt to say sorry either. That is, sorry for losing your shit. Don’t apologize for being you and working through your baggage. Thankfully Eddie know’s I’m working on that and that I have to ponder on it. He just hopes I actually do ponder about it rather than just continuing to lose my shit on him.

Baggage may creep up, but we can work through. I can work through it.

My Abundance of Time

Our lives have all been turned upside down. From the local economy to the world as a whole, nothing is the same as it was just a couple of months ago. So much has changed in such a short time. Time is what so many of us want more of, yet we don’t do anything different when we get it.

Recently I read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and in one of the chapters, he mentions a hypothesis that was formulated by Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen: how we seek to spend our time may depend on how much time we perceive ourselves to have.

So I am asking you, how are you spending your time? Are you spending it as though you have an abundance of time and will live “forever”, or are you spending it as thought this gift (or curse, depending on how you look at it) of extra time will come to an end?

I can tell you how I have always lived my life: like I have more than an abundance of time, yet as though there is not enough time. I have lived with contradictory habits around time for as long as I can remember. You see, I am that person who is always on time. And by on time, I mean I am no less than 10 minutes early to everything. I also make sure that the house is perfect hours before people actually come over. I generally have to slow myself down in food preparation because I am so anxious about being behind when people arrive. I get horribly anxious about being late (remember the 10 minutes early from above) for everything. This anxiety almost hurts.

But, I also live as though I have all the time in the world. I have goals I want to accomplish and I diddle dawdle around them every single day. I save recording and editing my YouTube videos until almost the last day before they are “scheduled” to post. I procrastinate in getting coaching content created and published to this website. I have pictures and video for our Desert Mountain Overland website and Instagram that are months old that I haven’t even reviewed for editing. I have so much that I want to do, but I don’t do it.

I live very contradicting outlooks on time. Do you? Are you like me?

We have been given this extra time to be home with our families. For some people, this extra time is definitely not a blessing, and I get that, and I’m praying for speedy healing for everyone. But the rest of us who are bitching that we can’t go do the things that our every day life normally calls for? Yeah, we have been given a blessing of extra time.

No, I don’t have kids. But if I did, I’d hug them more, play in the yard more, cook with them more, play games, take walks, learn their schoolwork with them, and more. I would enjoy that time I get to have being together, even when the little shits are fighting or being sassy. This is time I wouldn’t have had with them otherwise.

As for what I’m actually doing? Well, I am writing this post a couple weeks ahead of time and up until this post, I’ve only really done a little of what I want to do to grow as a person and both of my “businesses”. But, I can tell you what I do want to do more of. I want to read more and take better notes of what I’m learning, I want to be more energetic in recording my YouTube videos, I want to get in the garden and yard more, I want to walk the dogs more, I want to learn how to fly my drone, I want more sexy time with my husband, I want to develop more content for you, and I want to edit and produce more images and videos that I have stored from previous off-roading or camping trips. I want to learn more. I want to share more. I want to inspire you more.

I want to use my abundance of time to finally stop being a procrastinating dreamer. I want to get off my ass and get shit done.

What do you want to do with your gift of time??

Again, if you or anyone you know is or has been affected by this virus, I am praying for a speedy, full recovery.