“You Can’t Text a Tough Conversation”

I recently read the book titled “You Can’t Text a Tough Conversation” by Mike Bechtle. Exploring through the pages and connecting the information to my experiences and perspectives reminded me of being in graduate school. As I read its almost as if I could physically feel my brain expanding, like I was watching my soul grow from 3rd person perspective. The information is simple, but it elicits such profound understanding. It’s one of my favorite feelings; a full body epiphany.

Communication is riveting to me. A relationship I was in several years back awakened my realization of how two people who seem extremely similar can have vastly different interpretations of the same conversation. Our struggles to effectively communicate ignited a desire to deeply understand the ins and out of communication. This relationship caused me to retrospectively wonder how I was being interpreted to those in my circles and how they were wanting me to interpret them. As I devoured the pages of this book I found so many pieces of information that resonated with my experiences and allowed me to comprehend them on a more intimate level.

“In the absence of data we believe our own made up perspectives”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 58

This one made me giggle to myself. When it comes to relationships, intimate or platonic, I am a catastrophic thinker. If I am left in silence to create my own narrative of what is going on, I immediately resort to the worst, most hurtful, options: “There is somebody else”, “They are faking being my friend simply because they think it makes me feel better”, “They are dead on the side of the road somewhere”, “They just don’t care”. Even though those situations usually get “rectified” when the communication finally does occur, those hurtful thoughts have already done their damage. This is something I am aware of and work on daily both in my interpretation of things and in how I communicate to others. I have to consciously force myself to come up with healthier alternatives to my catastrophic thoughts and I am careful not to leave people to creating their own narratives.

“People will soften if you communicate via phone or face to face then on paper or text”

Mike Bechtle Pg

The work place anyone? I can be ready to write a scathing e-mail, and then I will happen to run into the intended recipient face to face before I can compose it. Immediately my entire demeanor changes. I am suddenly polite, understanding, and patient. It’s not fake; it’s simply realizing the humanity of the person on the receiving end. This is such a crucial lesson in this time of social media and our heavy reliance on technology to communicate. There’s a human on the other end; someone who makes mistakes, has feelings, and is dealing with things we may know nothing about. Face to face Human interaction keeps us kind.

“Communicating is like dancing…value motivates us to continue the dance”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 65

In those casual encounters with someone from past, value is low, so the dance is awkward usually short and void of meaningful interactions. With the people we value we are willing to have the tough conversations and communicate through our differences; the dance is smooth and full of meaning and growth. That moment when the music stops, the value recedes, and the effort dissipates can be heart wrenching. I have vivid memories of the moments when I realized the value had been lost (Adult Growing Pains). It can be heartbreaking, lonely, and it can feel hopeless. It can also be a freeing relief. The music stops and the dance ends.

If two people see things exactly the same way, one of them is unnecessary”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 67

Sometimes diversity is frustrating. There are moments when you just want someone to instantly understand your perspective without having to tediously explain yourself. Quotes like this remind me of the beauty in our differences. It gives me an ounce more of patience when our views aren’t on the same horizon. It also reminds me that focusing on our similarities can pull us together, always focusing on our differences will drive us apart.

When communicating use/get as many senses as possible”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 77

As a person who identifies with the love language of physical affection, both in receiving and giving, this point felt so important to me. I love communication, even when it’s difficult, it builds trust and safety in my relationships (when its followed through with actions). The more communication there is the safer I feel and the more vulnerable I’m willing to be. I find that effective communication forces me to grow individually and grow closer to those around me.

I was never a big fan of FaceTime or video chatting. However I’ve been using it more frequently and it made the authors point come to life. The author explained that when people are separated they should communicate in ways that use the most senses. So if you can video chat start there, if you can’t video chat then use phone calls, if you can’t use phone calls use texting or writing but increase the frequency so it feels intentional. Technology is wonderful for enhancing communication but it should not replace it (Mike Bechtle Pg. 77). Video chatting with my friends who live far away immensely altered the atmosphere of the communication. It was so much more authentic and vibrant.

It also sparked thoughts of gratitude for those people I have in my circle. Our communication feels so intentional. We don’t live close to one another but we are almost always in communication with each other. Not only with memes or a simple “hey”, but thoughtful love filled conversations and of course the ever prevalent, I love you. It makes me wonder how any guy I date will ever live up to the love I feel from my closest friends *giggles*.

“Being late says what I’m dong is more important than what you’re doing”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 79

I have lost, and will continue to lose friends over this one. Late happens to all of us occasionally, but make it a habit and I can’t help but feel like our friendship isn’t a priority. It doesn’t feel good to be apart of relationships where equal effort isn’t being given on both sides. It’s not worth it to me to keep them around; it doesn’t make me feel valued.

“Independence is valuable but interdependence strengthens both people”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 79
The TenBoers #Goals

Growing up independence was a highly coveted trait in our household. I idolized women and peers who “didn’t need a man” and I judged those who clung to or outwardly longed for theirs. My outlook as an adult is vastly different. I admire those who are interdependent. Those who are their own person but have also become vulnerable enough to need their partner in the life they’ve created. Partnerships that have committed to facing the tough issues together as a team. As relationships grow and become more serious, there should be a sense of need behind the connection. In marriage you experience so much together: love, loss, children, disasters, financial struggles and successes, depression, failure. Enduring all those things as a unit should elicit a healthy need to lean on your partner and use your strength as a couple to get through it. Without that sense of need the connection doesn’t have purpose.

“Emotions aren’t good or bad they’re just fuel”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 94

I hid my emotions a lot in my early twenties and late teens. I was proud to be seen as someone who never cried and held a strong demeanor. As I grew into myself I realized that tough exterior was keeping me from making the authentic connections that I so strongly desired. It’s defeating to have a vulnerable conversation with someone who presents as a tin man. We often look for validation in those bare moments; when that need is met with a lack of outward empathy the motivation to share dissipates. It’s far more comforting to give those moments to someone who is willing to share those emotions with you. Hiding from my emotions only kept my closest friends at arms length; letting them into my soul and owning my fears and insecurities out loud has only made us grow closer, and has only made me grow stronger.

“Logic becomes valuable after we’ve processed the emotion (positive or negative)”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 96

I lead with emotion. Its the lens in which I process information through and it’s the fuel that drives my decisions. I struggle immensely to put myself in the shoes of those who process logically. Their ways feel cold and isolating to me. Remembering that a logical lens can be beneficial after I have processed the emotion is a helpful reminder to be more balanced in how I analyze things.

“When we are unhurried conversational nuggets of gold can be found…Spend longer relaxed unhurried amounts of time with people… the conversation becomes more than just simply catching up”

Mike Bechtle Pg. 106
Mimosa Mafia

This served as the inspiration for my 2nd celebration of my 30th birthday on the shores of lake Tahoe with six of my closest girl friends. I intentionally picked a place where the days were slow so we would spend most of our time simply connecting. The difficulty we have getting us all in the same place is baffling; You turn 30 and suddenly you’re planning get togethers months in advance because its the first available weekend you all have. With crammed schedules, our sporadic gatherings are spent simply catching up; there isn’t much time left to truly connect and talk about thoughts that randomly meandering through our conscious.

Five days on the shores of Lake Tahoe with no itinerary gave us the opportunity to do just that. We had incredible conversations about our perspectives and how we navigate the world. We analyzed our similarities, our differences, and of course shared how grateful we are to know each other. This trip forever changed a few of my relationships. We had epiphanies about how we connect and why we interact the way we do. I adore the growth that it has given us.

“Fear is an emotion people like to feel when they know they are safe”

Alfred Hitchcock

I love haunted houses; they are without question my favorite part of Halloween. I recognize they are thrilling because I know I’m safe so it’s fun to feel scared. In relationships feeling fear isn’t fun because their is no security of safety behind it. Its of the utmost importance to keep the relationship an emotionally safe place. Both people don’t necessarily enjoy having those tough conversations but they are willing to have them in order to preserve the happiness of the relationship. When terror hits these kind of relationships it tends to bring two people closer together, in unsafe relationships it drives them apart.

These quotes are simple; their lessons almost seem obvious. However, the growth they elicit is invaluable. These are just a few, there are so many more to be had, in this book, and elsewhere in the world. I genuinely believe that the key to happiness starts with a foundational understanding of who you are and what you need. Discovering ways to ask for those things, and strategies to understand others is a key piece in finding them. I don’t want to walk through this life like a zombie, doing things and feelings things without understanding why. I want to authentically understand what drives me, I’m dedicated to being continually curious about who I am; this book is a powerful component of that journey.

Interested in reading the book yourself? Here’s a link to purchase it via Amazon: “You Can’t Text a Tough Conversation“. This would be a great book club book; it would serve as an phenomenal catalyst for more meaningful conversations.

Advertisements

In the Midst of Healing

Spring 2018: I remember coming to the beach when you got sick. I remember looking out over her vast horizon and being so angry that it had to be you. It was almost like she was at fault. Out of all the billions of people she touches and dazzles with her beauty, she chose to take you.

Summer 2019: I came back today. You’ve been gone for 9 months, but with every crashing wave it feels like you’re here. The lullaby of her curls surrounds me with your soul. It’s overcast and cold matching the atmosphere in my heart, but the breeze wraps me in an unexplainable warm comfort, like I’m not sitting here alone. It’s deep and it’s consuming, and its undeniably you.

9.21.2019: I sat down to create a touching video that would honor your memory. I was eager to create something memorable that would not only commemorate your life, but a piece that would evoke memories for guests and remind them of their significance to you. I overlooked how hard this task would be. Scouring the pictures was bittersweet; the memories made me smile, but then the fog would clear and reality elicited tears. Sorting through the videos was almost cruel; they encapsulate all of you as if you are still here. The final touches of laying in the music was emotionally harrowing. Music can stir such powerful and passionate emotions. In Loving Memory of Joe

9.27.2019: Dread. It may sound harsh but I’m dreading the very celebration you asked for. Celebrating simply doesn’t suit the way my heart feels. I know logically the closure will be healthy and we all need to experience it to aid in the healing. Emotionally, I’m not ready for closure. This celebration has been looming over us for almost a year now, without it happening it almost feels like you aren’t all the way gone just yet. Once it’s over, it feels like the loss of you will be more vivid.

9.29.2019 “Celebration of Life”: There were tears, there were laughs, there were memories shared, and drinks raised to you. In a way it felt like losing you all over again, however being surrounded by all the lives you touched was heart warming. You deserved that. When my dad creatively honored you by writing his speech from your perspective it was as if the world had stopped turning and everyone stood still together in a moment of time. It was exactly what Joey would have done. “To you All – my family and friends: To all of my friends living in Cazadero or in and around the Russian River: I consider you all, my friends and my family. There so many awesome memories of sharing hospitality and coming together as a community in good and in bad. I will always love you! To My CYO Friends: You all gave me some of the best times of my life. We are life long friends forever. My favorite memories are as a life guard and of course the between session breaks were epic, especially at Crows Nest.  Oh, also, It was not me who stole the Coors Beer from the Vatican, you know who it was, his name either starts with a J or a C (although I think both were involved). To my Dad: I know that you are here and that you have some kind of cocktail in your hand (Grandpa had a fresh martini in his hand, how fitting) and to my mom, who I am with at this very moment: You molded me into the man I am and I will be forever grateful. You taught me right from wrong and how to be strong, regardless of what life throws at you. I want you both to know that I made it and it’s because of you two. To my brother Michael: I do not believe that I have ever met someone more genuine than you. You stayed true to yourself and I admire you greatly. I especially absolutely love your laugh; straight from the heart and so contagious. I love you my big brother. To my brother Ronnie: There is no question that you are my most favorite (please do not tell Jeff – he will whine like a little baby.)  I had my most favorite times when Fiona and I would pick you up for the Holiday’s, so, so fun. You always inspired me to become a better person, always. Thank you Ronnie, I love you. OH! One more thing Ronnie; It was Jeff’s idea, not mine, to shave half of your mustache off. I know that he always blamed me. To my brother Rob: I am so proud to be your big brother – always there, always around.  I had so much fun having you, Vince and Donna around to mess with. Hey, was it you that lost our contest (picking a number 1 to 100) for going to the movies with John and me?  I feel so bad about that haha. I love you bro. To my brother Vince: Do not let anyone tell you that YOU DO NOT look and sound just like Harry Potter. I’m pretty sure you’re the same height as well.  Seriously though, I am so happy that you met Chris; I’m thinking these may be the happiest times of your life.  Love every moment. You’re the best my little brother, I love you To my sister Donna: No one can tell me that you are not my favorite sister :). Without question, you are special and I mean that in the most sincere way. You are without a doubt one of the most stubborn and hard-headed people on earth. You are also one of the most determined and creative people I have ever met. I can see that you have put all that wood you STOLE from me to good use. I could not be more proud of you, I will love you forever. To my cousin John Lang: Easily, you are and will always be one of the most special people in my life We had so many great memories and I thank you so much for visiting me at the end. To all of my Cousins, Aunts and Uncles: Thank you all for being here, some of you drove a very long way. I want you to know that I think of you all often and even though long periods of time sometimes separated us, it never once eroded the closeness and love that we have for each other. To Bill and Sheryl: Perhaps what I am most grateful for is how you supported Fiona all the way to end and beyond. I am so blessed to have friends like you. To Sarah and Andrew: Whether you know or not, I look upon you as if you were my own – so different, yet so the same – I have loved and cherished every moment we have spent together. To my brother Jeff: I need to apologize. I always told you that I loved your Bloody Mary’s; to be honest, they were terrible……okay, maybe not absolutely terrible, but you could definitely use some lessons.  Seriously though, we had so much fun growing up together, not many brothers can say they became and remained best friends forever. I wish nothing but happiness for you and Sherri. To my wife Fiona: Believe it or not, you taught me some really cool swear words. I actually learned words from you and Sarah that I had never even heard before. With my whole heart and soul, I thank God that you entered my world.  You easily gave me the best 10 years of my life and nobody could ask for more than that.  I’m so glad that you accepted me and my crazy family. If I never told you, you were my Rock, my foundation, my whole world. I ask that you keep our memories close, but please do not be afraid of the future.  I love you.

Love Always,

Joey”

9.30.2019 Trying to find the silver lining of your death seems impossible. I’m so beyond grateful for the time I did get to spend with you. What I wouldn’t give for just a little bit more, a few more memories to deepen the connection. In my heart, you and Fiona were my safety net. If anything were to ever happen to my parents, I found security in knowing I’d have you both. I wish I would have expressed that comfort to you. In the wake of your death I guess I can say I’m closer to family, especially my aunts. I’ve cried in front of them far more times than I’m comfortable with, I’ve also used all my might to hold back tears in their presence more times than I’m proud of. We’ve been more authentic and more connected in recent months. I know the authenticity of our relationship honors your soul. I have consciously let that permeate through all of my relationships; your influence will always guide me.

10.14.2019 I so desperately want to honor your wishes and truly celebrate you surrounded by those who love and miss you dearly. Hopefully, in time, our hearts will be able to cheers you with laughter and celebrate the goodness of your soul in manner thats in the spirit of celebration.

Winters Burden

Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

The days are getting shorter; the cool breeze is making its seasonal return. The clouds are growing heavier shadowing our days with their ominous grey. The leaves are taking their last sips of chlorophyl preparing for their fall finale. The darkness is settling in, beginning to suffocate our light. The anxiety of seasonal depression is on the horizon, and those of us who struggle are grasping for every last ounce of summer comfort.

I have always loved every season as they come. As they run their cycle I fall in love with its quirks and characteristics. Every season is my favorite as I’m experiencing it. However through that love I’ve always noticed that my soul has peaks and valleys; periods when I’m full of love and drive, then others where I’m depleted and looking for reassurance of purpose at every turn.

I became curious about my valleys. I yearned to know the trigger so I could find a resolution. I found myself identifying with those who dread the holidays like some sort of scrooge. I contemplated how they affected me as a single twenty something year old. Were they a reminder of how alone I was? It didn’t quite fit but it’s the only answer I could conjure up, so I adopted it. I hated the holidays.

That perspective changed a few years ago when a brave friend of mine confided in me about her struggles with seasonal depression. She shared her overwhelming desire to hibernate when the world turns cold and the daylight is fleeting. Her experiences resonated so deeply with me. It immediately explained why I could love snowboard season so much but dread it full heartedly at the same time. The moments between those serotonin releases were like trudging through molasses. It was a heaviness I couldn’t shake in the winter months.

Through those winter months I find myself coasting; wading through my duties until I can be back on my couch curled up with my spiraling thoughts. I contemplate my life choices and goals; I spiral into wondering what I’m even striving for, what my purpose is. My energy is ever fleeting like theres no hope in catching up, or even the desire to.

It’s a comforting gust of wind to recognize that it’s just the season. It’s the clouds and the chill in the air. It’s the hibernating atmosphere and the cultural drive to relax that throws my equilibrium off. There’s hope in knowing it will pass, but there’s unparalleled dread in knowing it will return.

In the past, I’ve cringed when posting pictures like these. In my perspective they’re from the worst angle and the amount of chins I have is infinite..but then I took a step back. These pictures capture true happiness. That’s me, being undeniably happy. This is what I strive for my winters to look like all season long, however, for now those moments are short lived. So instead of hiding the unflattering picture, I’ve decided to post it, proudly. It’s moments like these that I’m exceptionally grateful for, and they should be celebrated. These are the moments that keep me fighting through the darkness of winter.

Adult Growing Pains

Ive never been one to have the most friends. I’ve always been drawn to quality over quantity, so when I lost one of my closest friends when I was 28, it cut me deep. It was a quality friendship of almost 10 years that included living together, being teammates and countless weekend excursions. It took me a while to realize what was happening, but she was gone. She didn’t die or move far away; She simply decided that our friendship was keeping her from “living her best life”.

It’s been two years, and writing that previous sentence out loud still makes my heart race with anxiety and my stomach drop with embarrassment. Admitting that truth to the world feels like standing naked in front of a crowd of people and listening to them point out my imperfections. It feels like the most genuine form of failure; like you’re losing in a game you weren’t aware that you were playing while everyone watches.

It happened slowly, but also all at once. I remember our last time together. We had gotten lunch one afternoon and when I left I remember thinking something was off. The vibe was different and it just didn’t feel like us. She was one of those friends that felt like a lazy Sunday afternoon; comfortable and enjoyable with hope that the day will last forever. She was someone who got to see my soul more often then most. We had a good balance of vulnerable heart to hearts and wild weekend outings, or so I thought. When I left lunch that day, it felt stiff; it wasn’t the sunny dreamy Sunday afternoon vibe, it was more like a damp Monday morning. The hard part was it looked like a Sunday afternoon. We hugged, we talked, we ate. It was our normal, but also so far from it. I felt crazy. Was I imagining the difference in atmosphere? I convinced myself I must be and moved forward.

A week or two went by and I hadn’t heard from her. We were both extremely busy with too many things on our plates, so this wasn’t atypical, but for me there was still something eerie in the air. So I reached out, asking for confirmation that our friendship was all good. I got the thumbs up. It reinforced my self deprecating dialogue – yup I’m just a needy friend, someone who needs a ridiculous amount of reassurance that I am loved. I brushed it off and kept pushing forward.

….Then weeks went by, still radio silence from the other end. Those weeks turned to months, and those months became a year. As time passed it became obvious to me that this wasn’t simply us drifting apart, it felt deliberate. In our ten years of friendship we had never gone this long without speaking, even when we were living in separate cities.

Eventually I became exhausted of living through the consequences without an explanation, so I reached out and requested that we get together to talk. I was ready to be vulnerable. I was willing to hear her side of the story, take responsibility for my own, and grow together to hopefully repair the friendship that had fallen through the cracks over time. After all, we had been best friends for ten years, I felt it was important to give our relationship the effort it deserved.

We met. Perspectives were shared. Kind words were exchanged. Words that cut like knives were said. Tears were shed. Love was expressed. At the root of everything was a miscommunication that had happened the day we had lunch almost two years back. At the time I was going through one of the lowest points of my life, and I wasn’t ready to open up about it just yet. I needed time to accept it and find my peace with it; at that stage I had never said the words out loud to anyone. The only people who knew what was going on were the ones who were there when it happened. That day I had said, “I’m sorry, I’ve only told people that are close to it”. What she heard was, “I’m only telling people that I’ m close to”.

Finally reaching an understanding of the others perspective agreements were made to be better in the future. There was a glimmer of hope as we left that day, but her hug and words felt distant as we parted ways to our cars. I didn’t know it then, but our friendship would never recover. We may have reached a common understanding, but the damage had already been done. That one sentence was the straw that obliterated 10 years of one of my favorite relationships.

The days, weeks, and months that followed were heart wrenching. Having family and friends innocently ask about her dropped me to my knees while my body was still physically standing. Scrolling through social media evoked paralyzing fear that everyone else was moving forward as if nothing had changed. I was slowly fading into the darkness letting mutual friendships fall to the wayside. It is the worst heartbreak I’ve ever experienced. It’s a wound that will forever influence my current and future relationships.

It’s hard not to wonder why I wasn’t enough. Why our friendship wasn’t important enough for her to communicate through our struggles and differences. I can’t keep wondering. I can’t keep asking. I can decide to be broken or to be broken open. I can get smaller and angrier and lash out to hide my vulnerability. Or I can be broken open. I can let this wound cut through the floor of my soul to reveal a new cavity of who I am. A moment that will remind myself of who I am, not who I momentarily thought I was.

Dear Drunk Driver

Dear Drunk Driver,

You are so lucky that you collided with me. You are so fortunate that I was the one just beyond that white line in the distance beyond the beaming red light. I am a 30 year old abled bodied woman: a strong human being. I was able to endure the impact and keep my head straight as you spun me through a familiar intersection. I was tough enough to grit my teeth through the shock and evolving pain to exit my vehicle. Looking back, I’m more impressed with my emotional strength than that of my physical tolerance. As you got out of your car and walked my way, it was you I felt bad for. I knew that you had the red light and causing the collision would be a burden, both financially and emotionally in this modern world. I suppressed the anger of my mangled dream car and possible injuries to worry about you.

Then I was slammed with a reality more astonishing then the steal impact of your F250 against my brand new car. You walked towards the scene as Police approached, and you looked right through me. There wasn’t a wince of empathy on your face or even a polite gesture of concern in your eyes. Then I heard you tell the police, ” I was coming from McNears, I had two drinks“.

It didn’t hit me in the moment, but as the days have past that initial concern I felt for you has turned to rage. Your decisions could have had devastating consequences.

What you don’t know is that earlier that day I was nannying for two wonderful children, ages three and seven. They were in that car with me all day long. I had just left their house. The point of contact where your truck impaled my door, was right where the 3 year old would have been buckled into his carseat. His sister just one seat away.

What you don’t realize that is that I walk across that street weekly. I live a block away. Your truck blowing through the red light and my car spinning uncontrollably through the intersection could have killed pedestrians.

What you don’t know is that I have a bad right shoulder; I was a softball pitcher in college and had shoulder surgery in high school. I rely heavily on my left shoulder to compensate for the lack of strength in my right. The collision has caused injury to my left shoulder. You have stolen my summer hopes of wake boarding my weekends away. Not to mention, with every twist and turn in the night Im reminded of the accident.

What you don’t know is that you obliterated my dream car. “The Beast” was only 4 months old and she was everything I could have ever dreamed of in a car. Sometimes when I hopped in to drive her I would sit and just smile at her sleek interior. I was so proud to walk up to her in the parking lot and be the one to drive her away. She had abundant summer plans and too many pictures to count to prove how proud I was to own her.

When my car came sliding to a stop. I was completely alone. My phone had been thrown in the accident and I had no way of contacting my support system. I’m am beyond grateful for the kindest woman (Megan) and her son. They stopped to comfort me and offered their perspective to the authorities. She lended me a caring hand, a way to contact my family, and waited with me until I was surrounded by familiar faces. Thank you, so much.

You see, you are so lucky that you collided with me. You are so fortunate that in your second DUI offense, the only thing you killed was my dream car.

Sincerely,

Me.

Married at First Date

During the school year I have a strict rule about only agreeing to Bumble dates on weekdays. The weekends are my time and I want to spend them with my people. I’m not willing to take the chance on a date that has the potential to go sour in the first ten minutes. However, it’s summer time, which makes everyday Saturday, and this wasn’t a bumble date. We connected on OkCupid so I broke my own rule and asked him out for a drink before I headed home early on a Saturday evening.

I told him I only had time for one drink as I had to get up early on Sunday; this was a white lie but I’ve learned with online dating you have to have an end game just in case it goes south quickly. We met up at a local watering hole and upon his introduction I knew there was something familiar about him. I had definitely had an interaction with him before but I couldn’t put my finger on where. We sat down, sipped our drinks and shared the basic get to know you facts – careers, age, hobbies, drink preferences, and similar experiences. He mentioned that he was a bartender for some time at a bar that was popular when I was in college …. Boom. It hit me. A flood of memories flashed furiously through my mind. He was the bartender at a bar I used to frequent when I was freshly 21. He has a deadpan sense of humor and a quick mouth. I remember it vividly. As an inebriated bright eyed 21 year old that didn’t know how to order drinks the mixture of his blunt sense of humor and his good looks intimidated me. The memories smeared a smile on my face and I continued to listen with giggles in my eyes finally pin pointing my deja vu.

The conversation was unfolding comfortably and soon enough we had reached the bottom of our glasses. To his surprise I agreed to another round of drinks. We walked to the bar and ran into a small bachelorette party. They were three young foreign girls shipping their good friend off to the land of marriage with a fun scavenger hunt. The bartender in him allows him to casually and comfortably strike up a conversation with anyone, so he did. He promptly greeted the girls and asked to see their list, scanning it to see if there was anything he could check off for them. “Get serenaded by a guy”. He sang her an unenthusiastic version of the Itsy Bitsy Spider. They weren’t satisfied with it, and silently, neither was I. They egged him on, considerately checking with me to make sure I was in support of the festivities. I was, completely; I was ready to make some memories for this bachelorette. Suddenly I hear the bachelorette ask my date how long he and I have been together for. Without missing a beat I decided to take a risk. I reply with, “We’ve been married for 7 years”. I’m immediately thankful that my hands were in my pockets because all three girls instantly dart their eyes towards my ring finger. Yup, he smiles, 7 happy-ish years. He teases as his eyes meet mine. The girls are giddy with shock, they can’t fathom that we’ve been married for so long. Apparently I look far too young for that nonsense (their words, not mine). They ask all the questions, how did you meet, what advice do you have, and of course how did he propose? I fielded how we met, he was a bartender and I was patron. He chimed right in explaining that he never charged me for drinks which kept me coming back. Finally I agreed to take his number. The bachelorette was in awh. I could see the sentimental hope in her eyes, she couldn’t wait to be telling strangers about her marriage story one day. The girls insisted we tell them our engagement story, I passed this one off to him eager to hear how elaborate he was willing to make this story. As he began to talk I realized this may prompt them to inquire about my ring. I smoothly switched the attention back to the bachelorette reminding the group that this night was about her story not ours. With that I offered them a round of shots so I could make a proper toast. As the shots arrived I slyly slipped the ring I was wearing onto my left hand. As I had anticipated, once the shots were finished they asked to see my ring. I held my hand out and explained that we like to keep it simple. I was wearing a simple silver band with a tarnished engraving. With the arrival of the bill we bid them a good night and all the well wishes for her wedding. I don’t quite remember all the details of our interaction, but I know we walked away from that conversation as a happily married couple of 7 years with two kids.

As we sat down and laughed about our victory I officially redacted the fake curfew I set in motion at the beginning of our evening. I was sold. Whether this budding relationship had true potential or not I still didn’t know, but I was ready to see where the night would take us. No matter what the future outcome the night was one for the books.

Social Media Authenticity

With the invention of social media we have more community than ever. We are consistently connected to far more people and “interact” far more often. In the few seconds I have between classes I can keep tabs on my nephew in Ohio as well as the girl I met in Croatia. I’m one of the first graduating classes to know what most of my classmates are up to despite the fact that I’ve never attended a reunion. But is that community? Does watching someone’s highlight reel create, sustain, or deepen a connection? Does social media make us feel connected to each other, or more like we have to prove ourselves to each other with the next best post? When I posted my 30 days without alcohol blog I was not prepared for the overwhelming out pouring of support and love for the piece. I had several people reach out to me via text, social media comments, and private messages to thank me for writing such an authentic piece. I was shocked. Being raw and real through the platform of social media sparked a reason to connect. It was one of the few times I have felt a genuine connection through social media. People were opening up to me, they were sharing similar experiences, and they were feeling inspired to challenge themselves. The connection of social media was creating a genuine jumping off point to create deeper relationships in real life.

We need more of that; I want more of that. We need to see the raw and the real, the highs and lows. I’m careful to say that as I’m not referring to “dumping”. I am not talking about the posts that are written rashly out of high emotion that seem to be begging for attention. I mean posts that invite others in to elicit understanding. Posts that are thoughtfully written to share an experience. Posts that are vulnerable and give others insight to different perspectives. Thats how we grow together; that’s how we grow as people.

I recognize that social media platforms aren’t necessarily designed for lengthy well planned pieces. It caters more effectively to the quick check in. It’s also not always the safest place to share your lows, or even your highs. However, I think we could all do our part in creating a better balance of what is shared. A balance that elicits authenticity – a refreshing perspective that reminds scrollers that behind the screen we are all simply human. The raw and real posts give us validation. Its a settling, deep breath of comfort that we are where we should be. Social media can present this constant underlying anxiety that we aren’t enough or won’t be enough – or that others are so much farther in front of us that we won’t ever catch up. These authentic posts calm those fears, they validate where we are all; they confront the highlight reel perspective head on. Social media is what you interpret it as, but if we were all just a little more authentic it could relieve the unconscious pressure of living up to our social media presence or someone else’s.

When I started this blog I didn’t have the intention of publishing it. It was simply going to be a place for me to keep all my pieces in a well organized manner. I also considered publishing it without sharing it through my social media – so the chances of someone I know reading it would be slim. I thought about writing it under a pseudonym so my identity would never be revealed. But now I’m committed. I’m craving more of those connections; I love deepening the relationships I have around me. For me, this is what makes life worth living; creating a community to experience life with.

One Game, One Love

“Baring It All” isn’t my first attempt at having my own blog. I began blogging in 2012 when I was a graduate student working towards an MA in Sport Psychology. I was so inspired by what I was learning in the classroom, I needed a place to share it all. To this day I still share my insights and expertise as they relate to sports. Check it out: One Game, One Love

30 Days Without Alcohol

I set out on a 30 day no drinking adventure on April 28 2019. I had just finished a wicked snowboard season full of mimosa’s, shot skies, and mid-slope fireball swigs. I was prepared for the ultimate challenge; one that would test my will power, my confidence, and the depths of my personality. Fun is in my soul, and ever since my days at Chico State alcohol has been the forefront of that fun. Somewhere in my mid twenties drinking had become the headliner on the main stage and other forms of entertainment were simply side acts. A sporadic few had begun to worry, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally ponder the issue, so I took the plunge. I documented my experience along the way, here is what I noticed and learned.

Day 4 – I drink for others, not myself. Almost immediately I recognized that I often drink to ensure that others around me have fun rather than choosing to do so out of my own desires. I actually realized this long before I started this journey; it’s the biggest reason I brushed off people’s concerns with my alcohol consumption. As you’ll find out on day 11, others people’s impression of me is highly correlated to my alcohol tolerance. If I’m not drinking I must not be having fun, and I more than anyone out there, hate party poopers. So to ensure the masses that I am in fact happy and loving the moment, I drink.

Day 5 – I love the bar scene. I spent my first weekend without alcohol bar hopping with a good friend of mine. We bopped around to bars that I frequented in grad school and even tried some new ones. I ordered mocktails and did shots of sprite – the experience wasn’t any less enjoyable and the energy was as contagious as ever. I love the bar scene with or without alcohol.

Day 6 – The placebo effect runs deep. Maybe its because wine has always been associated with relaxation in my life. Whatever the cause, whenever I sat down with a non alcoholic glass of wine and took a few sips … that deep exhale melt into the couch relaxation consumed me. It’s not the alcohol content, it’s the habit that provokes a mindset. It’s also worth mentioning that fake Rose isn’t half bad!

Day 8 – Alcohol IS entertainment. Planning to meet up with a friend for a drink is all the planning you need, the day or night naturally unfolds from there. Without that option I had to put more effort into my social gatherings – we had to find activities that correlated with our interests and the weather. What can you do in this town besides wine taste and go to happy hour? Having the option of an alcoholic beverage gives the interaction purpose, there’s always an underlying activity that accompanies the conversation. Without it I found myself wondering what to do with my hands. I found it more challenging to end or extend the outing.

Day 10 – I’m not skinnier and my wallet isn’t fatter. I swapped food for alcohol and shopping is much more expensive than drinking – not to mention it keeps you entertained for shorter amounts of time.

Day 11 – Alcohol isn’t confidence. I’ve always been a high energy, eyes on me type of person. Most people assume I’m most comfortable being the life of the party, which is mostly true, but it has to be the right party. In my early years of college I found it a struggle to be social in a room full of new people. I had this skewed perspective that because I wasn’t on the thinner side guys and even girls wouldn’t want to befriend me. So I laid low and faded into the background. In time, with a few sips of alcohol I felt more inclined to engage. Once I discovered I could drink with the big boys I really hit my stride. My tolerance became a silent introduction to those around me, and it fueled my innate center of attention personality. I was thankful for the crutch and I turned to it often; It was comfortable and I was good at it.

Who would I be without that introduction, without that party trick? What I found, was so much more than a party trick. Without the buzzed facade I displayed all of me. My introduction was my confidence and the fuel of the engagements was the variety of facets that compile who I am. People were intrigued by who I was rather than what I was doing. I had grown into my own and I had learned to embrace being the life of the party at every party, not just the right ones. It made me feel like I had come full circle. A roommate from my 2nd year in college once mentioned I was the same drunk as I was sober. 10 years later, I was reminded of that, and the confidence boost is far greater than that of alcohol.

Day 16 – I didn’t forget how to feed my soul, I just forgot to. I began my life as a student when I was 5 years old; with school came friendships, extra curricular activities and of course, homework. I continued my career as a student until I was 28 working my way through a BA, an MA, and a teaching credential. Again with those degrees came friendships, sports and homework. My life has always naturally dictated a healthy balance for me. I had a goal I was working towards, a passion that fueled my soul, and a support system that kept me socially thriving. When sports and school faded I merely had my job, and my social life. In the past, my weeks were so full of striving for goals and exploring my passion that letting loose on the weekends with my girlfriends was the perfect break – it was what I thought made me feel happiest. With only work and my social life on my calendar, my empty days were filled with social gatherings, 99% of which involved alcohol. At first it was euphoric, I could do what made me feel happiest more often…but the more I did it the less fulfilling it became. I’ve come to realize that the only reason I felt the happiest in those times is because I had been “filling my tank” all week. I was feeding my soul with studies of sport psychology and writing my blog. I was working towards a goal and bettering my life everyday in school and at work. Without putting in the “work”, the reward didn’t taste as sweet. A wise elderly woman once told me the secret to life was: “everything in moderation” – I had lost that moderation and low and behold life had become less fulfilling.

Day 18 – Drunk moments don’t correlate to deep connections. Throughout my entire career as a collegiate athlete I believed the easiest step towards team cohesion was a drunken night out together. I wasn’t wrong, those blurry nights allowed us to put our guards down, relax, and share memories together. However, what I didn’t realize is these nights were merely a jumping off point; it took many sober interactions to foster and instill that lasting connection. In team sports this happened naturally because we were together all week practicing, working out, and going to classes. As an adult they don’t happen as naturally. Most social interactions happen during leisure time, which is usually accompanied by a glass of wine, therefore my sober social interactions with my close friends were far more sporadic.

Day 19 – Temptation is fucking real. Before I began, I thought this journey would be tough; I figured that most days I would really struggle to stick to mocktails instead of cocktails. I didn’t, I waltzed through 18 days with virtually no temptations. Then I hit day 19. I was on a 3rd date with a cool guy and wine sounded incredibly enticing. I didn’t need a confidence boost, I didn’t need to relax, but the atmosphere and the company were wonderful and a glass of wine would have been the cherry on top. I almost gave in. He didn’t know my friends or my family, so I felt like I could have a glass, never tell anyone, and still claim victory after 30 days. I didn’t, I stuck to my guns and drank a glass of fake rose. I thought that admitting I experienced temptation would make my commitment less of a success, but it doesn’t. I’m more proud that I was able to resist it, more so than I would have been if I didn’t experience temptation at all.

Day 22 – Ok. I am skinnier . Ten pounds skinnier to be exact. (Welp, that won’t last long). I’m trying to convince myself it’s the morning gym workouts I’ve committed to, but let’s be real, it’s not.

Day 24 – Genuine friendships. All my friends were incredibly supportive, some even stood in solidarity with me when we were out and about. Cheers to you guys! (Irony intended)

Day 26 – I take far less pictures. My social calendar wasn’t any less packed than it typically is. However, looking back through the photos on my phone I notice that I documented far fewer moments.

Day 30 – Already? The last drink I had was a margarita at Mi Pueblo on Butter and Eggs day (April 27, 2019). It’s officially been 30 days. I’m shocked at how quickly time passed.

Is 30 days without alcohol a huge victory? Not necessarily. However, 30 days without anything you typically have or do is something to be proud of. I’m proud of myself for committing to it; I’m proud of myself for diving in and genuinely noticing the differences as time passed. I was able to be still long enough to evaluate my happiness instead of constantly moving to ensure others. As far as what I ultimately learned about myself along the way; I was reminded of who I already knew I was.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started