positively confrontational

I don’t know why confrontation is always thought of as negative.

That’s a lie.

I know exactly why. It’s because confrontation is uncomfortable.

I used to be a very non-confrontational (and therefore very passive aggressive and deeply self-conscious) person. I was constantly having to read between the lines of what friends and coworkers were saying. I was jumping to (often incorrect) conclusions about how others felt about me. I was not telling anyone how I really felt. I finally got fed up with the constant anxiety, and decided I really needed to be more open with others so that they could be open with me. Here are some of the things I’ve learned in my quest:

1. Confrontation can be positive.

You don’t have to  go in swinging. Being willing to confront a difficult issue with someone — rather than letting it fester and destroy your relationship — is an act of love. So do it lovingly. Be calm, respectful, and honest.

2.  It doesn’t have to be an ordeal.

It can be (and much of the time SHOULD be) a short and to-the-point conversation. There’s no getting around that fact that confrontation is uncomfortable — why drag it out?

3. You’ll feel better afterward.

Even though the conversation may be hard, inevitably I feel about a thousand times lighter after it’s done (provided I haven’t gone in swinging or drawn it out far longer than necessary). We avoid these conversations to spare ourselves the discomfort, but I’ve found that living with the unspoken tension is often far less comfortable than simply having the talk.

4. Not everything needs to be confronted.

SURPRISE! Didn’t see that one coming from Miss Confrontational, did you? It’s true, and I actually feel pretty strongly about it. When you get in the habit of confronting important issues and begin to reap the benefits of having open relationships and getting things off your chest in a healthy way, you may find yourself addicted to confrontation. Be careful. Before you put yourself (and your unsuspecting friend) through a difficult conversation, be sure that you are asking yourself: is this worth making a fuss over? Trust me on this one. I’ve learned the hard way.


As an exercise, next time your friend makes a passive aggressive remark, try calling him out on it and see how it goes. My prediction? He’ll be embarrassed, sure, but he’ll also probably tell you what’s actually wrong. Suddenly you will have opened up a previously clogged line of communication simply because you cared enough to ask.

Here’s an even more challenging exercise: call yourself out next time you make a self-deprecating joke.

Confronting yourself can be just as uncomfortable — and just as important — as confronting anyone else.


NOTE: I have gone over and over this piece. I even posted it once, and then immediately deleted it. I’ve just had the hardest time bringing myself to share it with you, which seems particularly ironic in a post about openness. The truth is, I felt guilty for sharing it because not all of these ideas are totally original to me, and I struggled with how to properly credit those who have taught me. So, I will calm my conscience by being open about the fact that I’ve learned none of this in a vacuum.

I have learned from friends, coworkers, bosses, books, and my own mistakes (and some successes!). I’d be happy to recommend a plethora of reading material and wise people for you to talk to, if interested.


tidying up

I’ve started a funny daily ritual the last month or so. It’s basically a turn down service… for myself. Sometime in the hours before bed, I tidy my bedroom, turn off the overhead and turn on the bedside lights, fluff the pillows and turn down the covers. That way, when I’m ready to turn in, I snuggle up in a hotel-esque oasis. It makes the every day event of going to bed feel luxurious.

Now, I haven’t started putting chocolates on my pillows yet, but maybe I will.

I got to thinking about this the other day when I realized it’s been almost exactly a year since I started the process of “Kon Mari-ing” my life. I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, for my book club last March and it really did change my life.

I am far from perfectly tidy, and I’m not going to try to summarize her book here. It should be required reading for all humans, so I’m just going to recommend you purchase it and read it yourself. What I do want to do here is tell you that my life was forever changed by that book — not because I learned the best ways to fold clothes and stay organized — but because I learned how to create an environment in which I can thrive. Her philosophy changed my relationship with things, with money, and with my home. Tidying Up was also one of the first meaningful interactions I had with the idea of good energy making an impact on one’s life — an idea I plan to explore further in future posts.

All this to say, for those of you who (like me) are on this journey of self-improvement, I think The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an excellent place to start.

i do what i want

I do what I want.

I really do. The past year I’ve been making a conscious effort to do what I want — and perhaps more importantly — not do what I don’t want.

This may sound incredibly selfish or irresponsible, but I disagree.

This idea first started circulating in my brain a couple of summers ago when I felt a lot of social pressure to attend a number of baby and wedding showers. I decided I would only go to the ones I actually wanted to attend, because if it were me, I wouldn’t want anyone coming to my shower because they felt like they had to be there. It was such a relief! I felt I had control over my life, that I could make my own decisions, and maybe the best part was that I was able to feel genuine enthusiasm for the events I did choose to attend. I want to have that same feeling of freedom — of acting out of choice, not obligation — in everything I do.

This doesn’t mean I enjoy every single thing I do. For example, I don’t always enjoy doing the dishes, but I do it. But I don’t do it because I want to do the dishes, I do it because I want to be helpful. If I didn’t want to help, then I would most certainly not do the dishes. I don’t always enjoy cleaning the house, but I want to live in a clean house, and so I choose to clean. I don’t always want to get up early and go to work, but I do it because I love my job and I want to do it well. It’s a choice I make every day — not an obligation.

Of course, in reality, we are all obligated to do certain things, but I do my best to avoid acting out of obligation. If I really have to do something, I try to find a reason why I might want to do that thing so that I can find joy in doing it. For example, I am obligated to pay my mortgage every month, and the truth is I want to do that, because I want to be a responsible adult, and I want to live in my beautiful house.

If this perspective still sounds selfish to you, consider for a moment how much more it means to you when someone pays you a compliment or does you a favor — not because they have to do it, but because they want to do it.

people are the worst

Election season brings out the very worst in people.

During this time, so many people say and do horrible things. They have terrible ideas. They make egregious mistakes. They antagonize and berate one another. They are rude. They are inconsiderate. They make assumptions that are unfair and unfounded. They are disrespectful of each other, our elected officials, and our country. People are the worst.

This can be incredibly disheartening to watch. It can be hard to hold on to the belief that people are inherently, basically good when you see them saying and doing things that are just — well — the worst.

However, I don’t believe that being basically good and being the worst are mutually exclusive.

Let me explain.

I do believe there are corrupt people in this world. However, on the whole, I think humans are basically good. We want to get along, we want peace. We want what is best for our families, and for others. We just have different opinions on what’s best.


Liberals want to redistribute wealth in order to provide opportunities and help those in need. Conservatives want everyone to work for their money and receive a fair wage, not handouts. Both groups think the other is either stupid, selfish, or both, and treat each other accordingly (hence being the worst).

What everyone seems to forget is that both groups actually want the same thing: for everyone to have opportunities to learn, grow, and work. Liberals just think the government needs to play a bigger role in making that happen by leveling the playing field. Conservatives just think the government needs to stay out of it and let people make their own way via hard work and determination. Different routes to the same destination: a better future.

So please, consider carefully the words with which you describe your political opponents. Please remember that (for the most part) we are all just doing the best thing we know how to do. We can have different opinions, and still have the same good intentions.

And if we can calm ourselves down, be respectful and kind, and exchange ideas rather than insults, we may even learn from each other. There can be more than one right way to do things.


monday morning culture

Our culture is decidedly anti-Monday.


Living for the weekend.

Case of the Mondays.

All these phrases paint a picture of a society that focuses on leisure over work. Which makes sense. Don’t get me wrong — I love my days off. I love sleep. I love unscheduled afternoons. I love the weekend! But this idea that the workweek is something to trudge through just to get to the end so that we can live our “real lives” 2 days out of the week is a pretty depressing concept.

Now that I’ve admitted that I do, in fact, like all sane humans, love the weekend, I will also tell you that Mondays are my favorite weekday. Yep, MONDAYS ARE MY FAVORITE. And I’ve been wondering if we aren’t all setting ourselves up for failure every single week by perpetuating this Monday myth.

Before I explain why I’m a big fan of the first day of the week (and why you should be, too) let’s take a look at why most people are not.

Mondays are a bummer because…

  1. the weekend is over.
  2. we have to wake up earlier.
  3. traffic.
  4. things seem to go wrong twice as often on a Monday as any other day of the week.
  5. your fellow coworkers are just as grouchy, if not more so, about numbers 1 through 4 as you are.

Yes, the weekend is over, but that also means another one is coming. Do we have to get up earlier on Monday than any other weekday? And does getting up early have to be a bad thing (more on this in a moment)? is traffic actually worse? Do things really go wrong more often? Or are we simply expecting it, and therefore manifesting these negative things? I will grant that our coworkers probably really are grouchier on Monday than other days, but if we could all shift our perspective this may not be the case.

This “living for the weekend” mentality is much more than just Mondays. It’s each and every day of our lives. The vast majority of us enjoy staying up late and sleeping late. We enjoy the end of the week but not the beginning. We aren’t starters, which makes it really hard to be finishers.

We, as a society, are huge procrastinators, and this translates to more than just putting off term papers — we’re putting off life.

I have been challenging myself, and I want to challenge you as well: change your perspective on Mondays. They can be wonderful for a lot of reasons. Here are some of my favorites to get you started:

  1. it’s a new week, which means a clean slate.
  2. you’re rested up from the weekend and can tackle new challenges head on (if you aren’t resting up on the weekends, you may benefit from changing than just your perspective).
  3. you get the chance to set yourself up to succeed all week long. If your Monday goes well, it makes all the following days a bit easier because you aren’t trying to catch up all week long.

I also challenge you (and me) to change our view of mornings. I’ve been working on this for over a year now, and it’s still a struggle but always, always worth it. Fall in love with early mornings. I don’t know how many articles I’ve read on “5 Habits of Highly Successful Individuals” that are basically all about getting up early and planning ahead. There’s no getting around it, you guys. If we can get ourselves in a good headspace in the morning, our Mondays will get infinitely easier. If we can make Mondays awesome, the rest of the week will follow. And if we can enjoy our weeks, we can enjoy our months and our years and our lives.

If we want to live better lives, we need to start with our beginnings (which is a very good place to start).

gratitude nerd

More than a few times in the last couple of years, I have experienced sudden and intense feelings of gratitude. It just hits me out of nowhere and pushes me to the brink of tears. I stop and look around and think “How in the world can I be so lucky?” I feel the need to express my gratitude to the world somehow, but so many times I end up suppressing the urge to talk to anyone about it. Why? Why shouldn’t I be grateful?

Most of the time that I choose not to say anything it’s because I don’t want to come across as if I am bragging about my life. Or as if I am immune to struggle. I’ve gone through some pretty terrible and agonizing things in my life. If I express my joy, will those who have suffered with me feel abandoned? Like I have moved on without them? If I express my gratitude, will those who are currently struggling roll their eyes and think, “Well isn’t that great for you? Some of us aren’t so lucky!” Sometimes it’s just the fear of being the oddball for being so enthusiastic about anything — even feelings of gratitude. And so I stay quiet.

Sadly, I fear that when I suppress my expression of gratitude over and over, I begin to suppress the feeling itself. If I cannot encourage or compliment or thank, I find myself forgetting to see the good in others, or in the present circumstances.

We live in a culture that rolls its eyes at enthusiasm. Just think: what makes someone a nerd? Liking superheroes? or LOVING superheroes and knowing a little more trivia and owning a few hundred more comic books than your average Joe? It’s a person’s passion and enthusiasm that labels them a nerd. And that’s a bummer, because some of us are exuberant people who simply love life, or work, or comics, colorful staplers, or our fellow humans. We just can’t show it for fear of being labeled as shallow, fake, needy, naive — or a nerd.

I am trying to be more conscious about this tendency I have towards repressing positive impulses like gratitude and affection. I’ve been trying to worry less about what other people think and focus on doing my best to put my good energy out in the world.

I am trying to be a gratitude nerd.