Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Good Talking, Bad Talking

A very close friend and I were talking the other day and I realized she no longer speaks ill of anyone. If I mentioned being annoyed by something another friend did, I noticed she wouldn't join in, or comment in anyway. If anything she would defend said person, and would then go on to present some rationale for their annoying-ness. At first I felt bad for saying anything at all, but then I started to notice this friend follows the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" mantra. I brought it up to her and she said she is trying to be kinder to other women, and that we are in this together so the least we can do is support one another. I found this to be admirable.

I began to watch other women around me. Who is catty or gossipy, and for what reasons? When do I feel like saying things about people and why? When is talking about someone, talking behind their back, and when is it discussing or venting? I noticed that I didn't feel the need to talk about someone just because, and when I did feel the need to talk about someone who wasn't in my presence it was because I upset and needed to express myself.

I have a friend who studies the adolescent brain. She has a colleague who studies why people gossip. It was perfect timing the other day when I was upset about something and told my extremely smart friend about it. I finished my story with, "I am trying not to gossip.” She said she just leaned herself that it serves a strong purpose, and is not always a bad thing. People often gossip because it helps us gage what is okay and what isn't within relationships. We share a story, check in with someone else and based on their reaction know whether our response or instinct is matched. Then if the feelings that come up are shared, you feel less isolated about them.

I am not a "shove it under the rug" type of person. I typically express feelings and don't hold them in. Maybe even to a fault. So practicing speaking only positively about other women only worked until a friend got upset and made a negative comment towards me. Now, I am not going to say she is a bad person or disown her, but I needed to review what happened to check in that this wasn't something I actually did wrong. I was trying to not say anything when a mutual friend came to me with the same complaint about this women's actions. It was validating to know we were just in the wrong place when this person needed to vent.

I now know the difference between bad talking someone as if it is a fun sport, and sharing feelings about something someone has said or done. So I will continue being supportive to other women. I will not talk ill about a bad boob job, or what a bitch so and so can be, unless so and so directs those issues to me, then you might hear some whispers.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Being Impressionable

I admit that I am impressionable. I sometimes don't want to hear about the latest "amazing" health craze because I might buy into it. I became a vegan for five years in my twenties because a friend's sister had me read some information that proved to me eating meat and dairy was bad. I have been known to buy matcha, spirullina and a rebounder trampoline the same day I read about the health benefits. People can pick up both negative and positive traits from being impressionable, but being stubborn gets you nowhere but stuck.  I don't blindly adopt new ideas, but I am open to hearing about them, and if they make sense I can't not consider the idea.

Observing my young children navigate their friendships I see examples of when they are both impressionable to their friends behavior — and I cringe. Sometimes, I want to pull them aside and say, “Do your own thing” or “You don't have to be a copy cat." I think of what was often told to me when I was a kid, "If your friend jumps off the Empire State Building, would you do it too?" On the flip side, I’ve also seen my kids be the bossy leaders who lead their poor, unsuspecting friends down a mischievous adventure. I have come to the conclusion that neither are bad once in a while.

Being impressionable doesn't always need to mean vulnerable. It also can mean open. When I began dating guys that were interested in running, cooking or new music, I learned to open my mind to new tastes. When making new friends who loved certain movies, and were excited to share their enthusiasm with me, I opened my mind to new art. Sure, people can pick up positive and negative traits by being impressionable, but the alternative is being stubborn and that doesn't get one anywhere but stuck.

Stepping out of myself and observing my own behaviors, I can recall times when I am confident and strong. I can also recall times where I am out of my comfort zone and chose to remain a fly on the wall. Depending on circumstance and what is going on around me, I speak my mind loud and clear, or I can't find a single thing to say that would fit the conversation. This week though, when approached by another parent who voiced some concerns about a certain behavior my child exhibited, I took pause. Was I being too sensitive, or was she? Was she right, or was I? Was there even a right or wrong, at all? Was I just following her lead and her reaction to my child, and not forming my own opinion? Was I being too impressionable to her?

Navigating other parents is one of those grown-up situations you don't ever imagine having to deal with until you are an bone fide grown-up. The "serious" confrontations with other adults. I remember my friend talking about when he was a kid he heard the words like “mortgage" and "miscarriage" thrown around in his house. He knew they carried the weight of grown-up proportions, but when he grew up to say them as an adult he still wasn't prepared.

Despite being uncomfortable in these kinds of confrontations I think I handle them well enough. I often don't think of the right thing to say in the moment, but I thank the person for reaching out and then say I need some time to process the information. That is what I did last week. Then I try to figure out what I actually feel about it. When I come to somewhat of a gut feeling, I run it by my husband. I am impressionable to his opinions because I respect him and want to know what I can learn from another perspective. Then I mull it over some more, and decide how long I want to wrestle with it and put a cap and time limit on it. No big decision I make for myself is ever decided by someone else, but its also not decided without the help of others. I am impressionable that way.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Drive Down Memory Lane

We recently went back to the gymnastics studio where my daughter used to take classes before we left Beverly Hills and moved to Culver City. She had been going there since she was two and we never found a great replacement for it where we live now. She said she missed gymnastics and since it's summer and we have a bit more time, I got her a private lesson with her old coach as a special treat. In LA traffic this could be an hour away, so we decided to make a day of it. We drove to her favorite diner, Nate and Al’s, for her favorite meal of matzo ball soup. My husband used to take her for dinner there while I was pregnant, because I couldn't eat or cook without getting sick. This became a ritual she never wanted to end. 

We also stopped at the little local toy store we used to frequent in downtown Beverly Hills. The layout is exactly the same including the mechanical coin operated horse that the kids would ride. So much on the street was the same. Sure, there were a few new shops, but most were the same ones that were there before we moved. It is amazing to me, how much an area, a street or even a home can remain so comfortably fixed in your mind. It was second nature to pull into the parking garage to turn left at the corner and to find a specific crosswalk, even though you haven't crossed it in years.

After lunch we drove up over our old canyon. We passed a park that I used to take my kids too frequently. I didn't say anything, and my daughter asked if we used to play there. As sharp as these memories are for me, they are cloudy for her. To move away from someplace at five or six is so different than it is for an adult, or for my son who was two and doesn't remember much at all. We passed by the house where our close friends used to live, and when I pointed out to my daughter she struggled to remember what it looked like inside. Up the road just a little bit more was our street. I didn't turn up, because we didn't have time, but also because it would just make me sad. Our house was redone on the outside, and it actually looks a lot better, but it also looks different. I have driven up that Benedict Canyon Drive so many times, it felt strange not to hang a right on our old street, pull into our driveway and walk right in. It is not our home anymore though, and I miss it.

Every inch of that drive was a memory. As we passed my house I remembered when a friend picked me up once and she turned too wide and we almost got hit by another car. It wasn't funny at all, but somehow we ended up laughing so hard. I also remember the time I got a call from my dad while driving, and with an odd sense of urgency in his voice, he asked me to pull over. I will never forget the exact spot I stopped when he told me my brother in law had died. Further up the road was the little strip of stores where my husband and I used to hang out when we needed a little people watching. I pointed out to my daughter how we used to drive from there to her school where she went to Kindergarten. 

I am not sad we moved to a place that has better schools, a stronger sense of community and so much more for families, but I am sad that we had to say goodbye to our home to do that. That house was my first adult home. We got engaged in that house, we had a wedding brunch there, we had many parties and much to celebrate there, and even brought our two babies back from the hospital to that house. When we set out to go to gymnastics, I didn't realize everything we would pass. I had originally thought maybe we could stop by my daughters old preschool, but there wasn't enough time. It's a good thing too, I think that one might have thrown me over the edge of memory lane.