balance

My Control Panel

In a challenge right now with a fitness group, we were tasked with thinking daily about what in our lives we can and cannot control. We had to write it down and repeat it to ourselves each day several times. To some this might seem silly, but especially in this time of flux and frustration, I found it useful. Here are some of the things I wrote down this week.

What I cannot control:

-My other family members’ schedules

-Other people’s priorities

-How other people interpret and respond to my choices

-How other people see me

-Many details about my work day – where I work, how I allocate my time, how many meetings I have to attend

-Traffic

-How fast the postal service delivers packages

-The coronavirus pandemic – its length, severity, and impact on people I care about and the world at large

-How others respond to the pandemic…their movements, opinions, responses, precautions (or lack of)

-Whether or not my daughter will have a lacrosse season

-The weather

-Other people’s level of stress and its’ impact on their actions, attitudes, etc.

The list goes on…and I realize I spend a LOT of time spinning my mental and spiritual wheels on the list above. NOTHING I CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT. AT. ALL.

Here’s what I can control.

-My actions

-My choices

-Where I put my energy – writing, reading, recreation, learning, exercise, rest

-Where I direct my attention

-My movement

-What I consume – food, media, etc.

-My hydration

-My attitude toward challenges

Really, it’s a small list, but it’s what I need to focus on. You notice that most of what I can’t control involves other people and most of what I can involves me. When I find myself fretting about the world and all its ups and downs, I remember what I can control and then try to DO something related to these lists.

It seems like a goofy task to say these things several times a day, but I learned that my anxiousness lessens when I consciously remind myself what I can do something about. And then DO one of those things. What’s on your lists? Give it a try and see how you fare.

perspective

$&7%# is all she wrote…

I made it through Saturday.

Then Sunday came along and I learned a few words. Observed my couch getting a beat down. I listened to hootin and hollering more than I care to reflect on.

Now it’s Monday. Same shit different day.

False start!

No foul.

Out of bounds, you ass!

Block in the back.

You suck!

Why isn’t the whistle blowing.

Take the time out.

YES!

Quiet for a few minutes. Maybe it’s half time? 

Friggin’ safety sucks. 

Are you kidding.

Whistle blows repeatedly.

Offsides.

Whistle blows.

False start.

It’s going to #6 be ready! said spectator.

Get out of bounds!

Spike it!

Ooooh.

Good job.

Jesus friggin’ Christ.

This is bullshit.

He got pushed!

He got pushed.

Over and over.

Watch the recap.

No penalty. 

Penalty declined.

Oh, what on earth could I possibly be writing about? Damn football. College football. NFL football. Monday Night Football. It’s all the same to me. A shit show on steroids.
Unfiltered chaos. Overwhelming negativity.

A big fat distraction at bedtime. An annoyance on the weekend. A time suck. An unnecessary event that includes rage, celebration, sportsmanship, and so much more. Why do people get so hyped up that they talk to the TV? Do they think the referee can hear them? Is a game really that personal? So crazy to me.

Is there a healthy level of watching football that doesn’t seem like it will cause a heart attack? Am I the only one that experiences this? I took a poll and apparently I’m not.

I don’t need to go to a bar for this kind a of people watching. I can be in my own house. I can go to a friend’s house where the guys are watching a game in the man cave. Sometimes it’s even a coed event and/or spectacle.

It’s hard to do your homework. It’s hard to pay your bills. It’s hard to have a phone conversation when others are acting like 2-year-olds having a tantrum because they didn’t get a sucker or toy at the store. 

How does one sum up this behavior? What does it do for our kids who are watching silently? Will this aggression spill over to a youth football game? Is there any logic in this chaos? Should one be able to control their emotions in the moment? This doesn’t even include alcohol which would only intensify the crazy.

Is there another equivalent to football in America that causes so much raw emotion amongst its spectators? Maybe a heavy metal concert. A violent hockey game? Just not sure.

I’m sure there is another side of football I can’t see at the moment because my judgment is clouded with all the noise and disturbance around me. Either way I found it fitting to jot down my environment during this insanity.  I thought somebody make get a chuckle out of it.

Are you a football fan?

Can you keep your behavior in check?

Are you an athlete?

I will invest in some headphones during football season to stay sane. At one point I thought a finger might have been severed with all the curse words I heard. Guess no cause for alarm. It’s just football.

Oh damn it’s just half time now! I need to get headphones now.

challenges, family

Body Shaming

Where to start with this one? I’m confident in my body and its outward appearance to others. I may not be a size two with an hourglass figure but that’s okay. I wasn’t built with that frame.

I’m thicker. I have more padding. Some muscles. Some fat. For years I didn’t always make the best eating choices. Those minutes on the lips last a lifetime on the hips is a true statement. Since I can’t change history, I live in the skin I have. The weathered skin. The unbroken shell. The thick-by-design to ward off all those who try to poke at my body image.
This is me as an adult. Have I always been this strong? Probably not, but it’s where I am today. Now for a young impressionable girl, she may struggle with body image. Why? Because the digital world is an unforgiving place. Let me just share a few examples:

  • You are a female athlete. A boy can feel intimidated if your body is stronger than theirs. What do they do? Bash you online. Why? To feed their own ego or soothe their own inferiority complex.
  • You are a female with some meat on your bones. Thick thighs. Big booty. Full chest. Are you different from others your age? Maybe. Does that make you a target? It could. Others may feel the need to pass judgment on you only because they are not confident in themselves. This isn’t always a male. Sometimes females act negatively.

What is wrong with kids today that they think it’s okay to ridicule another female’s body? Body shaming they call it. When the girl cries herself to sleep at night or does not eat for a year, who wins? Nobody.

Words hurt. Pictures tell stories and mark journeys. They should not be used to target somebody’s ego in a negative manner online. Unfortunately shallow folks choose the latter. As sad as it sounds. It happens. 

I am a social person. I’m also an online presence. One can take my pictures and poke fun for them. I am okay with that as it takes all types to make up a world. However a young impressionable girl may not have the same mental strength to do the same when their photos are misused.

If you have a son, raise them right. Teach them to respect women/females. If you have a female teach them that they should lift up other females not degrade them. Neither action is progress. Don’t allow your kids the ability to body shame anyone. It’s not right. It’s hurtful.

Every parent has the responsibility to talk to teens as they approach teen hood to young adults and let them know how the internet can be a tool as well as a weapon. Without that conversation they may not realize how their keystrokes can be damaging.

The repeat convo over and over is the next step. Teens need constant reminders from adults. Their brains are still developing. They may not understand that their actions have consequences. 

If this message reaches you, do your part if you are a parent and have the difficult conversation. If you are in the teen to young adult age group. Read and reread this post as many times as you need to. If you are not in either age group, pass in on or share the overall knowledge. 

perspective

Doctor Doctor

A not-so-well-known fact about me: I’m a doctor. No, not the kind of doctor that prescribes medications or carries a stethoscope. I’m a doctor of the mind – a PhD. Earned in 2012 in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)

Why do I bring this up? Recently I read an op-ed and surrounding arguments about our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and whether or not she should own her “Dr.” title. The author raised all kinds of small-minded reasons why she should drop the Dr. title, even calling her “kiddo” at one point, as if her using the title she earned was childish and deserved a patronizing pat on the head. The arguments he made only showed his own shallow thinking and aren’t even worth reviewing here. Still all this made me mad, and also made me reflect on my own title.

I’m not going to bother to defend the work it took to earn my title. Six years, countless courses, teaching, publications, awards, etc. I have an obnoxiously long academic vita that does that. In some ways the PhD is a measure of stubbornness and I earned that through and through. I also won’t argue that all Dr. titles are worth the same. Especially now, when we see even more brightly how health care is heroism, I can’t even begin to equate what I have with what they can do.

What my PhD shows is that I have learned how to think. I have learned how to collect data, analyze it, theorize it, and write about it at length. When I earned that title, I knew that it was one of the few things no one could take away from me. I am one of the two “Drs.” in my building. Maybe it won’t surprise you that a school actually makes a big deal about a doctorate. Yes, my kindergarteners call me Dr. Friese. (Sometimes, with a wink at Southern custom, they call me “Miss Dr. Friese.”) For a while I wondered if the students should use my title or if it really mattered, but now I think it’s good for students to see that thinking is valuable in all areas of life. If they love that kind of advanced-level thinking and intellectual work / play, it can be pursued in countless contexts. Doctoring isn’t just in an office or hospital. We don’t all wear scrubs (and special props to those who do!) The more people see different possibilities, especially kids, the better.

On the flip side, Dr. has its downsides. I can be a total snob about things. I can’t unsee typos on a professional document. I ask too many questions at times, which can lead to the “analysis paralysis,” or being so stuck in overthinking I don’t get anything done. (I’m trying to remedy this with my OLW this year: DO!)

I also know that titles aren’t everything. Several people I know are much smarter than me learning from the school of hard knocks or lessons from in the trenches. I’ll be the first to argue that my classroom smarts doesn’t always help me “in the streets.” I embody the absentminded professor stereotype in many areas of life. Many will make a better living and a happier life taking paths that don’t necessarily lead to titles, certifications, or initials. So a Dr. isn’t everything, but it is something and it was the right challenge for me. Whether it’s initials or just more digits in your bank account, I’ll honor what you have earned.

What bothers me most about how this writer treated Dr. Biden is the tone and the underlying sexism of it all. As if being First Lady should make anything else she does or has done take a back seat. As if prioritizing her work as a highly educated educator is sort of laughable. As if the title conferred by marriage is the one she should favor over the one she earned for thinking, writing, and persisting. How many times have I gotten mail directed to Dr. and Mrs. instead of Mr. and Dr. or even Dr. and Mr.? Why does doctoring default to men? Why should women minimize what they earned when it takes nothing from anyone else? Sometimes I even minimize what I have earned myself, if I let the opinions of others invade my mind and erode my confidence.

When I taught at UGA, my students called me Beth. It was a personal choice and I had my reasons. These days, if someone calls me Mrs. Friese at work, I don’t correct them but my bosses often will if they hear it. Although my interests have taken me elsewhere, all this has revived my thinking about that title, what it means, and what it’s worth. Some might say I don’t use my doctorate, but in many ways I use it daily. I think. I write. I argue. I reason. I plan. I observe. I analyze. Every. Single. Day.

So yes, you may call me doctor. If you don’t, it doesn’t change who I am or what I’ve earned. In the mean time, I won’t waste energy worrying about what you think of me or my title. I’ve got too much to plan and DO to fret over small-minded guys.

challenges

The 2020 Ta-Da List

2020 was a year that upheaved many goals. Maybe it was the rules changing about where we can go and what we can do. Maybe it was shifting priorities from getting out and going to just hunkering down and staying safe. Maybe it was self-imposed or created limits of mental exhaustion and the like.

Whatever the reason, 2020 pulled the rug out from our runway of dreams. The universe laughed at our plans. Goals had to shift. Travel, work, adventure, all kinds of things had to pivot.

I looked back at my goals and in a conventional sense, I didn’t meet them. I’m not giving myself a pass because life got hard. It is what it is. But, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to make a little “Ta-Da!” list, which reminds me that despite my 2020 challenges, things still got done.

  • I maintained my fitness regimen, moving my body pretty much daily. Most of the time this meant working out at home or in the gym, but I also started hiking more often and put many miles on my bike.
  • I took a more active role in my personal finances, learning how to move money around and make it work.
  • I partnered with trusted friends to purchase the property for 3Splitz Farm. We navigated the first stages of planning and implementing the vision for our rustic paradise.
  • I started a new business of my own.
  • I established a 501(c) and led that organization through a successful first year.
  • I bought a new car.
  • I read lots of books.
  • I parented my kids through a trying and confusing time in their lives.
  • I maintained several of my health priorities: eat well, drink well, connect.
  • I lifted up my friends and loved ones to lighten their mental loads.

2020 wasn’t what I expected, and 2021 won’t be either. Some of these accomplishments weren’t on my radar at all this time last year. This has all informed how I am thinking of my goals this year. Leave a little more room to move, to play, to grow.

I had to stop myself from writing the “shadow truths” about each of these goals. For most of these bullet points, there is something I could have written as a “but…” But ta-da lists shouldn’t come with qualifications. These are what they are, and many are a start. Several appear in my goals for 2021, to enhance, improve, and expand.

What’s on your ta-da list for 2020?