What do a Gingerbread House, Footloose, and the Last Jedi have in common?

It’s a strange feeling when faced with evidence that contradicts how you [prefer to] perceive yourself.
I consider myself to be flexible and go-with-the-flow and while I embody that a lot of the time, I can also be inflexible and cling rigidly to my ideas about how things “should” be.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my beliefs and opinions this past week. This past week, a gingerbread house, Footloose, and the Last Jedi all showed me how fixed I can be in my thinking.
How come I can be flexible if we miss an exit on the highway, or if someone is running late to meet me, if we need to find a creative idea at work etc. Yet in other situations I feel a constriction inside my chest when I face new ideas from others, even my own children?  I certainly don’t want to be an obstacle to my kids’ or anyone else’s creativity and confidence in coming up with their own ideas.
Exhibit A (gingerbread house) – on Wednesday afternoon I was making our third (and final) gingerbread house with my 5 year old. I love decorating gingerbread houses and have such fond memories of doing so as a child! After taking a backseat role in the construction of the first two gingerbread houses, I saw my desire for control creep into the building of the third house. I had an idea to spread icing in the “backyard” of the gingerbread house and put green candies on it like a yard (I noticed how much I enjoy symmetry when decorating and creating patterns with the candy.) I’d spread icing on half of the backyard when my 5 year old swooped in with some tiny gingerbread icing people, laid them down and said they were “makin’ snow angels!” There was one split second where I felt myself clench up thinking to myself “Nooo, I was making a backyard!” and I observed that internal reaction and realized how attached I’d gotten to my own idea. Her idea was awesome and creative.  She was so cute and delighted to place the g-people on the icing. We had a ton of these little icing gingerbread men [I’d ordered on Amazon] and they did look adorable making snow angels in our icing snow.  In that moment, I chose to respond with openness and said “Wow, honey! What a great idea!”  I really meant it!  It was a great idea. It was fun and whimsical! My whole intention was to have fun and make happy memories in the process of decorating these gingerbread houses.  I felt how close I was to ruining it by clinging to my plan for a green candy backyard.
Little ginger-people making snow angels. Look how happy they are? Notice my symmetrical color pattern of holiday “lights” on the edges of the roof. Who knew I had this inner control freak?
Exhibit B (The Last Jedi) – I saw the Last Jedi this past Sunday.  I loved it because I’m a super Star Wars fan and enjoy that imaginary world so much. Hans Solo was my first crush. I dressed up like Princess Leia playing pretend with my brother when we were kids. I have a Chewbacca keychain. My lovely friends gave me a beautiful scarf for my birthday recently with secret printed R2D2s on the fabric. You get the point! After reflecting on the movie, I became quite incensed by some choices that director Rian Johnson made with the story and the characters. I hadn’t been that fired up about the franchise since refusing to see the Hayden Christensen trilogy (Episodes I-III) for over a decade in protest of him playing Anakin Skywalker.  I don’t want to share spoilers with anyone about the Last Jedi. However, I went on a rant to my husband the night after about some of the jokes, sub-plots, and lines that were written for certain characters – taking issue with many of them.  That said, I also loved other pieces of the movie.  Although I felt “right” in my criticism and super smug about it, I experienced some low feelings in the days to follow wondering if I was clinging too tightly to my own vision of Star Wars “should” be.  There are millions of fans out there aside from myself (not all who will agree on anything either) so who am I to get all pissed off about Rian Johnson’s choices? Where else in my life am I clinging too tightly to things, ideas, or old beliefs?
Exhibit C (Footloose) – this is an oldie but it came to mind during my self-reflection about the Last Jedi.  The Footloose remake came out in 2011 starring Julianne Hough and some other guy named Kenny Wormald.  I was SO PISSED that Hollywood remade Footloose. “It is a classic! It cannot be redone” I said to anyone who would listen (or who was stuck listening to me say that). “Kevin Bacon is king!” I still haven’t seen the movie. I was also angered this past year to hear that Hollywood would be remaking the 1987 movie Overboard starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn (which I recognize does have some problematic story elements that would not work nowadays). After a quick Google search, I see the remake is coming out next year starring Eva Longoria and Anna Faris. Maybe it will be funny!  Maybe it won’t!  Another piece of info from my googling the Overboard remake is that they are reversing the roles of the man and women. Hmm. Maybe I will see it as a curiosity excursion and alternative option to my ranting about movie remakes I never actually see because I am stubbornly clinging to my criticism.  [Just for the record, I have no issue with the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters and still want to see the all-female version directed by Paul Feig!  Since having kids, I lag way behind seeing movies in a timely manner.]
I want to open my mind more consistently to people remaking things from the past, accepting others’ ideas more readily, even in what may seem like the smallest moments. Taking improv classes is also helping me with this intention.  I’d sincerely like to change my current trajectory which is heading towards crotchety older woman who rants about how “everything was perfect as it was when I was young!”  What if my kids want to go to the movies with me 10-15 years from now (fingers crossed) and I start yelling about the latest reboot of let’s say The Big Lebowski and become indignant like “how dare they remake that movie?”   I imagine the effect would be that I’d bring the mood down and disconnect myself from my children in that moment. What if I choose openness and curiosity instead?  Fast forward to this imaginary conversation in 10-15 years: “Wow, so they’re remaking The Big Lebowski! What was one of my favorite movies when I was in college. I’m so curious to see how it comes out. Who’s that actor/actress playing the Dude’s role? I don’t recognize them. Oh wow, a robot? How ingenious!”
My kids are growing up way too fast. I am growing older. My friends are growing older. My parents are growing older. My grandmother is growing older (she’s amazing at 96!). Yes, this is part of life. On a rational level, I know that time marches on! Yet I’ve noticed a resistance and an undercurrent of struggle with change recently.  Last month, I cried in the car on the way back from visiting my 96-year old grandmother at her apartment just because it hit me that time is passing.  I’ve also been known to cry sometimes on my kids’ birthdays for the same reason. Is my struggle manifesting in odd ways such as my getting so cranky about movies? And feeling controlling about symmetrical candy-backyards for my kids’ gingerbread house?
Of course, I could have bought my own gingerbread house kit and decorated it to my liking and gotten all obsessive over it.  I probably would have enjoyed the process!
Fa La La La La! Check out my perfect dream g-bread house with powdered sugar chimney smoke, ya’ll!
However, I may have missed the lesson and opportunity to take a look at what was really going on for me underneath.
While I am someone who often likes to change it up and experience variety, I also have a hard time in certain situations accepting that life, my loved ones, the world, and I are constantly changing.  Sometimes I embrace change and other times I resist it. I’m learning that sometimes sticking to our beliefs can serve us well and empower us. Other times, old beliefs or patterns may not serve us, our relationships, or what we are trying to create in our lives.
This holiday season, my intention is to be present. Only then will I set myself up to choose openness. I almost wrote “extra present” or “super present” but I believe that in regards to being present, you either are or you aren’t. It feels true to me right now so I’m going with it.
Maybe the only constant is that now is the only moment we have…
The only moment that matters…
The only moment where we are in control of how we want to show up…
Creating the kind of impact we are aiming for.
Wishing all of you joy, peace, your favorite things, quality time with loved ones, laughs, and a bit of magic over the holidays and into 2018!
What do you want to create?

What if we asked “What if…?” (in bed)

I have memories of eating Chinese food with friends in college and in my early twenties and having everyone read their fortunes afterwards. We would then add the phrase “in bed” at the end of the fortune for laughs.  Yes, it was the pinnacle of maturity!  I couldn’t remember any exact fortunes so I looked some up on this fortune cookie website:
You are very talented in many ways…in bed
The greatest risk is not taking one…in bed
Today it’s up to you to create the peacefulness you long for…in bed
A new voyage will fill your life with untold memories…in bed
…in bed
Let’s bring the question of What if? into the bedroom.  To be clear, I’m not proposing suggestions or hinting at anything about the answers to “What if?”  I’m merely offering up the question and seeing what opens up in the space.  I see the question as a way of opening a door to a new room where you can walk in, check it out, and stay as little or as long as you like.  Maybe there is even another door in that room to someplace else.
If we zoom out to, I’ve been asking “What if” questions recently about other areas of life. I believe it’s in service of us as human beings to point the question to areas of our lives that we don’t typically talk about very much.  Like aiming a flashlight at a shadowy corner!
All parts of our lives deserve examination or re-examination to evaluate whether we are running on default settings or making conscious choices that serve us.  What have we accepted as “reality?”  I’m not making assumptions about change always being necessary. Change might feel right for some people and for others it’s an opportunity to re-choose the choices we’ve made.
So, back to “What if…(in bed)?” Who is uncomfortable already?
I usually only talk about these kinds of things with close trusted friends for fear of:
  • Seeming inappropriate
  • Making others uncomfortable
  • Embarrassing myself
  • Making myself look bad/weird/etc.

Also, my mom reads my blog!  Hi Mom!

Remember my life purpose I shared in my first blog post a few weeks ago?  Well, today I am the Wild Card who is kind of afraid my Mom will read this.  My inner critic or Gremlin if you will, is in my head like this:

Shhh! I’m trying to save you from embarrassment!

I’m joking and possibly creating some awkwardness here.  Why?  Because I’m already anticipating reactions, thinking of censoring myself, and so on.  I’m also joking because it is a way I avoid conveying in a more serious way, something I care about, and think is an important question to ask.

Here are some fortunes I made up:

What if things changed…in bed?

What if you changed who you thought you were…in bed?

What if you asked for what you wanted…in bed?

What if you allowed your most authentic self to emerge…in bed?

If you do turn away from some of these questions out of discomfort my only request is to ask yourself what’s underneath that reaction.  Of course, you have every right to refuse that request.  I will not take it personally if you stop reading my blog or have a less-than-stellar opinion of me.

This space is about reclaiming the power of “What if” questions and pointing them towards possibility, exploration, re-examination of beliefs, and so on.  It’s not a place to fan the flames of catastrophic thinking or fear.  That said, I do acknowledge that fear often stands in the way of exploring possibilities.

We live life once.  I believe we should enjoy it as the fullest expression of our authentic selves.  I myself am still working on it and this blog is part of that exploration. How does holding back and censoring ourselves get in the way?

There is power in asking What If questions. This is not a blog with “10 Magical Steps To Bliss” or advice to give.  I ask a lot of questions and trust you readers to come up with your own answers because you are creative, capable and fully in charge of yourselves! Everyone’s life and journey are unique.

I strongly believe there is an empowering space of possibility that lies beyond any What If question and that includes questions that end with “in bed.”




What if I started a blog? Well, here we go.

The Forest of What Ifs. There is some good stuff in here but watch out for Gremlins.

Full disclosure! Starting a blog was a challenge given to me this morning by my amazing coach.  It feels scary but I’m doing it anyway because I want to step outside of my comfort zone to see what’s out there.  What if it’s not so bad?

I’m here because the current version of my life purpose is:

I am the Wild Card that reveals your “What if?”  

A couple of weeks ago during a yoga class, a little voice in my head said “you’re holding back” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  What if I am holding back?  How can I truly step into my life purpose of being a Wild Card if I’m holding back? What if I tried something new? What if I didn’t try and I regretted it later? My blogging resume includes exactly one post I wrote two years ago which was a Motherhood Manifesto.  That was also the result of a challenge given to me by a coach. It was nerve-wracking for me at the time to publish it.  As someone with a preference for introversion, I haven’t yet cultivated supreme comfort in sharing my innermost thoughts.  And I may never feel comfortable with it!  That doesn’t mean I can’t and shouldn’t do it though.  Some of you may have heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. In MBTI terms, I am an INFP. My beautiful cousin Kelly (and fellow INFP) sent me a a funny article last week entitled The Definition Of Hell for Each Meyers-Briggs Personality Type.  The definition of hell for me as an INFP was listed as:

Your deepest thoughts and feelings are exposed to a large audience and everyone thinks that you’re pathetic and unoriginal.

Eeeek. That felt true for me when I read it. And yet here I am.

I have a core belief that I haven’t quite articulated yet and it’s something related to the question of “What If?” and how hidden doors to new spaces open up for people as a result.  This just popped into my mind! In a 1903 letter to his protégé (captured in Letters to a Young Poet), Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

I have a deep-seated desire for people to realize that there is so much more available to them than they might think. “More what?” you might ask.  More love, more connection, more adventure, more fun, more of what they want and more of what’s important to them.  We can live our way into this new space.  I suspect this new space lies beyond the stories we tell ourselves like “Oh, I’m just not that kind of person” or the list of practical reasons that can prevent us from trying something different.

Currently, I think there are two kinds of What Ifs.  Those that open the door of possibilities like “What if I started a blog? What if I enjoy writing it?”  I think the second kind are What Ifs that open the door to Gremlin-land like “What if no one reads it? What if people judge me? What if no one cares? What if I stink at using WordPress?”  I imagine my focus in these blog posts will be more on the door of possibilities but what if I’m wrong about that?

What if you pour water on Gizmo? He will turn into a Gremlin. But that’s not the kind of Gremlin I’m referring to.

This post will not be a one-time deal and I am committed to hashing out my ideas around “What if?” here in a public forum.  I needed to write that down so I don’t have an out. You can all witness me exploring and stumbling around as I process (via this blog) the concept of “What if?” and what it means for me and for others.  Writing that previous sentence made me realize I do not want to put up a glass observation booth here that hinders connection. Please know that I wholeheartedly invite your comments and participation about the impact of What Ifs on you and your life.  Stay tuned for more.  What if it’s actually not hell for me as an INFP revealing my thoughts and feelings to a public audience?  I’m curious about what’s next and open to whatever space I’m living my way into.