Posted in meandering, gratitude


The sunsets in Arizona are pretty consistently amazing.

When I lived back east, there was occasionally a sunset that really made you stop and just take it in, but here, it happens regularly. Almost daily.

After living here for almost 16 years, I’ve not tired of it.

I’m sure the photo I used for this post isn’t the best sunset photo I’ve taken, but after weeks of taking one or more from the top of the bleachers at The Kid’s track practices, I liked the shot through the fence. Something a little different.

It’s also kinda fun to look at all of the pics from all of the weeks and just see how the sunset has changed. Colors, position of the sun against the horizon, state of the trees.

Besides getting a little exercise running the bleachers, my sunset photo attempts give me a little something to look forward to at track practice.

The sunrises here are also phenomenal. In the winter, the sun is just coming up over the mountains as I drive to work. (Always driving; no pics.) I’m not a big fan of being up that early, but it’s a perk of the commute to have that view for the couple of minutes that I travel east.

(By this time of year, I’m just blinded by the sun that’s up but not high.)

Grateful to have beautiful sunrises and sunsets to admire here, even if the sun is otherwise not so friendly for several months each year.


Posted in gifts, know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

The Golden Rule, and how we get it wrong

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

We get stuck in the details.

“Well, I like pedicures, but if the person I gift one to doesn’t like pedicures, then they’re not happy even though I treated them how I would like to be treated!”

That’s not what it means.

We want to be respected. We want to be known and heard and understood and loved.

Do that. The process, not the outcome.

(It’s harder than just giving other people things we like.)

Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, parenting

Believe people; respect boundaries

A while back, I was at a going-away party at a school. There were sandwiches, chips, etc. set out cafeteria-style, and some of the lunch ladies were helping distribute it.

lunch lady: Do you want some chips?

me: No thank you.

LL: It’s OK to cheat.

me: It’s not cheating.

LL: You’re on a diet. It’s OK to cheat.

me: I’m not on a diet. I don’t actually want any chips.

There are a few problems with this conversation.

First: If you offer and someone says no, respect them, believe them, and move on.

Second: If you’re not going to believe them, don’t project your issues onto them and assume they’re on a diet.

Third: If they are on a diet (or following a diet), don’t try to steer them off it.

From the other side:

If someone offers and you don’t want it, say no. If you do want it, say yes. If you’re not sure, say you’re not sure. Use your words.

If someone continues to pressure you to eat food that you told them you don’t want, you are not obligated to eat it just because they lack manners. Stop teaching people that ignoring boundaries gets them what they want. (Why was she so invested in me eating chips, anyway?)

This applies to so much more than food. Shall we take a tangent?

I learned this first in teaching. You establish classroom rules, with positive and negative consequences. You enforce consistently and fairly, and kids typically learn how to function in your room.

Fortunately, I had a solid foundation of this before having a kid of my own, because this is a boundary they push constantly.

If a kid asks you for something and you say no, maybe they ask why and you give them a solid reason (because you have a solid reason, right?), and they ask again, the answer is still no. And still no. And still no. And if, on the 14th time they ask, you’re so tired of them asking that you change the answer to yes just so they’ll be quiet, they have just started to learn that pestering you is the way to get what they want. Or they’ve continued to learn it, if it’s not your first time.

We can get mad that they pester us, but if we’re rock solid in consistency, they learn. No catchy “technique” compensates for inconsistency. (Holy cow it takes a long time, though. Years.)

(That said, if The Kid—or a student—offers a counter argument that is solid, I will acknowledge that it’s a solid argument and explain why or why not it works in this case. Because we’re two people having a conversation. Because I want them to learn to advocate for themselves, even (especially?) if it’s inconvenient to me. Because I want to be fair, whether “fair” results in their happiness or not.)

When a mobile child is in your space (as mobile children are likely to do) and you don’t want them to be in your space, gently tell them. They don’t read body language in that way. And while it is a parent’s responsibility to keep their kid in check to some degree, if the kid is bothering you, tell them. Model boundary-setting. (Also helps the kid to learn that it’s not just their parents making up arbitrary rules about how they should act around other people.)

Back to the original tangent:

This is not a lesson we stop learning. I bet you can name someone who will crack if you keep asking. Or three other someones who never say no in the first place.

Set reasonable boundaries and stick to them.

Respect other people’s boundaries.

But also—it’s not your job to set other people’s boundaries. That’s something they need to learn to do for themselves.

And, to add one more layer … I learned in therapy—and this blew my mind at the time—that setting boundaries for yourself includes keeping yourself reigned in. That explosive anger (among other out-of-control actions) is not respecting your own boundaries.

In light of that, respect your own boundaries. Learn anger/sadness management skills. (I list anger and sadness because, in my experience, those are the two emotions most likely to lead to disrespecting yourself.)

This is such a pervasive problem in our culture, in all walks of life, across all different habitats. See what you can do to make it better.

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Posted in gifts, gratitude


I’ve been somewhat fascinated with my hands lately.

I have callouses from rock climbing. I love my climbing callouses, which seems odd, but I think they’re just a reminder that I have time and ability to do something I enjoy doing on a regular basis. And maybe a splash of the badass feeling I had making it up that last route last time.

For a while, I’ve sometimes wished I had close up photos of my hand on a hold. It’s often a particular hold; I don’t know why. Usually outside; occasionally inside. I snapped a few using a large rock on the ground once near where we were climbing. My angles were bad, so they didn’t turn out at all as I’d like, but The Climbing Daddy jumped in and we ended up with some that were nice in that way.

My fingers can move in patterns to play songs on a myriad of different instruments. When I play ukulele enough (read: not lately), I have callouses for that, too.

One finger (right hand pinky) changed the course of my college career, which led to so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Another story for another day.

Of course, I use my fingers to type all of these posts. And emails. And social media posts. And whatever other things I type for work or for play.

And I use some of them to write. My book, so far, has been mostly hand-written, though as of earlier this week, there is also now an electronic copy.

My hands grip weights for lifting.

They hold hands. They rub backs. They tie shoes. They please my lover.

They pull the weeds, push the vacuum, chop the veggies, spread the nut butter, stir all the things.

A long time ago, I learned how to give a good hand massage. I didn’t use that skill, and I’ve forgotten. But I think it would be great for The Climbing Daddy and I to learn it, to be able to give some special lovin’ to these amazing hands that do so much for us every day.

(Every time I’ve read that last sentence, I’ve cringed at what sounds like hyperbole, but I truly am amazed by these things lately.)



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Posted in differences, mindset

Introversion as a deficiency

During the course of conversation and brainstorming with my group during a training, someone mentioned that they have children whose parents put them in an ensemble (band or orchestra) to “get over their shyness.”

First of all, in a traditionally-run ensemble, there’s not a lot of verbal interaction between players, so that’s not really going to help the cause.

But more importantly, being shy is not a deficiency.

Shy people might be introverted, might be socially anxious, or both.

If a person is socially anxious, it’s a good idea to work some of that out. Most paths require us to interact with strangers fairly regularly, and being anxious about these interactions (or avoiding them altogether) makes life hard. I know about this.

Throwing someone into an uncomfortable situation—or a series of them—doesn’t make the discomfort go away, though it could help the person to gain skills to mask it. I’m pretty familiar with that, too.

But if a person isn’t anxious about interacting with people and just doesn’t care to, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not something to “get over.”

Band is where I have found many of my best friends through life, but I certainly didn’t learn to be social there. (And, as a teacher, the kids who aren’t social are generally easier.)

Introversion isn’t a deficiency.