Please Stop Yelling!!!

I have two girls who are just over a year apart in age, but almost complete opposites in so many ways.

My youngest is tall (taller than me even though she’s only 12) and thin. She loves to watch television and do crafts. Although she likes having friends over, she sometimes will choose to go off on her own for a while to get a break from people. She’s the classic introvert in that way, although not overly shy. She’s a STEM girl – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – although she also adores Pinterest and will happily spend hours meticulously recreating the crafts found there.

My oldest daughter has been shorter than her sister for the past 5-6 years and the gap has been increasing dramatically the past year. Although not “fat”, she has been self-conscious of her weight for as many years. As an extrovert she never tires of being with friends and is often the hostess, entertaining even Emma’s friends when they’re over. She gravitates toward leadership and has even received an award at school for her initiative there. She would much rather listen to music while chatting with her friends than do any kind of art project.

How could you possibly compare two individuals who are so different? Why would you want to?

And yet they constantly compare themselves to each other. This creates so much friction and animosity it’s sometimes difficult to tolerate.

Around the time the girls were 9 and 10 I finally read the book Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

In this book they talk about all the ways we create animosity between our kids without meaning to, and I realized my contribution to what was going on.

I know when they were little I would create mini competitions to get them to do what they needed to do – “Let’s see who can get ready for bed fastest!” I can’t tell you how beautifully this worked, but after reading this book I can see how I probably should have tried something different.

I try to be very conscious of how I phrase things with the girls, attempting to reinforce the idea that they are unique individuals with very different personalities, strengths and interests. Sometimes I can see this helping. There are little glimpses of collaboration when my oldest helps my youngest with a school project or my youngest invites her sister into her room to listen to music.

But even in these moments the bitterness still bubbles underneath the surface, just waiting to return.

Unfortunately their dad doesn’t understand how comparing them to each other or creating competitions feeds into this hostility they feel toward each other. Add to this their now 2 year old sister who they see as the “full time child” in that household and tension between them sizzles like bacon frying in a pan – just waiting for you to come close enough to splatter hot grease all over you.

So, I’m adding this book onto my reading list again – perhaps after the 10 books I already have stacked around me. I want to make sure I’m at least doing the best I can. I can’t change anything at his house but I know I can respond better to their bickering when they are with me. I just need to remember how.

I sometimes miss the days when their problems were easier to solve. Back then a hug or kiss could heal most anything.

What Happened When He Got Me Alone on the Beach?

I have been spending a lot of time these days reading about how to write better. I like the way I write, my voice, but there is still a lot to learn. As I am learning I am also working on the rewrite on the Clay/Caleb story. And when I say “rewrite” I mean just that. I am essentially rewriting the entire story but I think it’s coming out great.

Today I have been working on the scene where the main character (now named Jessica) meets Clay. Below is the part of the story where Clay and Jess are dancing. This is the main reason I haven’t had as much time recently to post on WordPress.

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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The people dancing around us began to blur, like I was in the center of a carousel that spun ever faster around me. I stumbled, unaware I had moved until I almost fell. Something kept me upright and I sank against what was either Clay or a randomly placed telephone pole.

A thought slogged through the mud and muck inside my brain but couldn’t come to the surface. There was something I was supposed to be doing. What was it? Think!

A breeze hit the sweat on my neck, sending a shiver down my spine. I looked around and realized I had made my way to the water. How did that happen? The waves kissed my ankles as they ran up to greet me.

The horizon tilted like the labyrinth game I had as a young girl. How I had loved tipping it one way then the other, careful to keep the marble from falling in the holes. The game was less fun when you were the marble.

“Whoa. Easy there. Why don’t you sit down for a few minutes?” The voice came from above.

“God?” I asked.

Laughter.

Okay, not God. Still, sitting sounded like a good idea. I landed awkwardly with a splat, my elbow stuck up by my shoulder until it was abruptly released. The water receded, then came rushing back. I kicked my feet, sending a spray of water sailing into the air.

Suddenly I couldn’t stop giggling. As the water continued its attack I hit it with both palms, scaring it away. I dug my feet into the soft sand and gazed up at the stars twinkling like the fireflies I had tried to catch by the pond on my grandparents’ plantation.

I felt as carefree as I had when I was that little girl. Where had she gone?

I felt a weight being lifted off of me. The burden of trying to live up to my parents’ expectations eased. The crushing loneliness I’d felt since their death receded with the next wave and floated out to sea.

“Feeling better?” asked the voice from above that I now knew wasn’t God.

Looking up I saw Clay’s face, one half illuminated by the moon, the other half still cast in shadow, giving him an almost sinister look. All he was missing was the mustache. The moment passed as he crouched down beside me. Up close he was stunningly good looking and I found myself wondering how it would feel if he kissed me.

“Do you think you can stand?”

I nodded.

He held out his hand but I just stared at him. As he waited, a flush swelled from my chest and up my neck, warming my cheeks. He’s waiting. Do something!

Kira’s Sunday Scribbles

This week’s art inspiration!

Word of the Day Challenge

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Welcome to Kira’s weekly inspirational art piece.

Let the whole picture tell you a story, or dive into the small intricate details to make one up! Write a poem, a fiction piece or come up with a picture or drawing of your own, that you feel relates to it.

Feel free to copy Kira’s drawing, to add it to your own post!

Anything goes, there are no rules. But don’t forget to link us to your post with a pingback. Not sure how to do that? See how to create pingbacks here.

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Do You See the Glass as Half Full?

I place before you a glass. Slowly I pour water into it, stopping halfway to the top. I ask you, “Is the glass half full or half empty?”

Traditionally this analogy is used to compare optimism and pessimism. An optimist would see the glass as half full and a pessimist would interpret it as half empty. The position of the water in the glass doesn’t change but an optimist views only what is there while a pessimist sees only what is missing. We’re led to believe it is better to be an optimist, to see the glass half full.

You respond, “I’m a glass half full kind of person,” a degree of pride in your voice.

What if I told you it was even more important to be able to see that the glass is both half full and half empty at the same time?

Knowing that these two perspectives exist simultaneously gives you the power to choose how you view any situation. Rather than passing judgement, claiming it is better to focus on the positive, acknowledge that there are multiple points of view and that each are equally valid. There will be times when it is beneficial to decide the glass is half full, or half empty, or times when we truly need to appreciate that it is both.

Make the best of a situation:
Because my ex determines the schedule with the kids and decides who drops off on any particular day he has recently decided that I need to pick the girls up at the after school program and drive them to his house on the first night they are with him. Until this school year he would just pick them up but not anymore. I can choose to be angry that he continues to control such decisions, or I can enjoy the half an hour I get with the kids before they go to his house. When I choose to appreciate the extra time with my girls, I am deciding that the glass is half full.

Improve something that isn’t working well:
We write here on WordPress, hoping to reach an audience, build a following.  If we don’t get the results we hope for we have a choice.  We can “look on the bright side” and decide that it is better to reach 10 people than no one at all.  Or we can examine what is missing,try to understand what we could do better. In doing so we decide the glass is half empty but we start to find ways to fill the glass to the brim.

Know that people have different needs at different times:
I’m camping this weekend and I fervently hope it doesn’t rain.  But if you have a large garden in need of water then a storm would save you from going out with your hose and so you may be hoping for a shower to pass over. In this case we respond to the same situation differently. The glass is both half empty and half full at the same time.

Understand the point of view of someone else:
Driving across a long bridge with my niece one day she looked out her side of the car at dark clouds and crashing waves.   “It’s about to rain,” she observed.  Looking out the window on my side of the car the sky was blue and the water was calm, barely a cloud in sight.  “It’s beautiful out,” I countered.   This became a running joke between us that my kids fail to find funny, but shows that people can see two different things even standing in virtually the same place. Again, the glass is both half full and half empty but this time it is because we are looking in different directions.

So I ask you again, “Is the glass half full or half empty?”

Bravely Living an Amazing Life!