It’s not me, it’s you.

Have you ever been in an argument with someone who you know has done wrong but won’t admit it?  You provide a variety of examples to “make them see” to no avail.  You usually part ways frustrated, exasperated- wondering why they won’t take responsibility.  In the end, sometimes you even apologize for bringing it up, simply because you hate to live in conflict.  How do we reckon with this?

We are unable to force someone else to be self-aware or apologize for their wrongdoings.  Many people suffer from low self-esteem and choose to find faults in others in order to make themselves feel better.  Often, they don’t even realize they are doing it.

They criticize the way you look because inwardly, they hate their own body.  They resort to physical violence because you made them feel weak with your words.  They question your career choices because they never reached their full potential and regret it.  They insult your parenting style because deep down, they are defending theirs.  They provide a thousand different reasons for why they are unable to commit, all-the-while the true reason lies buried deep underneath.

Ultimately, it is not our responsibility to “make them see”.  When faced with these difficult confrontations, it is best to first validate their feelings.   “I’m sorry I/this job/decision/outfit makes you uncomfortable.  It was never my intention.”  By using this statement we are not apologizing for who we are or what we believe in, rather, for the fact that it makes them uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry breastfeeding my baby makes you uncomfortable.  It was never my intention.”   I will not apologize for feeding my child but I am happy to express sympathy that it makes you uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry you do not like my hair/tattoo/new job/diet/boyfriend/wife.  It was never my intention.”  I will not apologize for my choice but I am sorry you do not agree.

Sometimes, we also need to recognize our part.  Is there any truth to their accusations?  Certainly it is tough to convince someone else to see their faults if we are not first able to see our own.

“You’re right.  I haven’t been exercising enough.”  “You’re right, this is not the job I thought I would have.”  “You’re right.  I am taking the hard road.”

By addressing their concern rather than arguing against it, you have taken away some of their ammo. At this point, they may find something else to argue about but before that, perhaps you can offer an opportunity of self-reflection by asking a question:  “Can you tell me why that bothers you?”

“I’m sorry you do not like _______.  It was never my intention.  Can you tell me why that bothers you?”

If we can approach these conflicts as an opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other rather than to vehemently defend, we may walk away all the wiser.  Or, we may just walk away knowing, “It’s not me.  It’s you.”

Your discomfort of my choice is not mine to behold.  It is not mine to have to defend.  It is yours to live with and my hope is that by asking you why it bothers you, I have planted a seed for you to consider; an opportunity for self-reflection.

My choice to avoid ” trying to make you see” frees me; for your life is yours to live just as my life is mine.  And my hope is that you will respect mine, as I respect yours and that in time, we will recognize and take responsibility for our own faults.  That we will show gratitude when we have been made aware of something we had not previously recognized.  That we will practice empathy in difficult situations and that we may find peace when it is not our burden to bear.









Reality Check

I feel like a fraud and I’ve got to address it.  So far, my blog, for the most part, appears as if I am shitting rainbows and butterflies.  While it is true that I grew up stuck in the back seat of a car on long road trips listening to motivational speaker Tony Robbins on tape (thanks Mom) and as a result, strive to find the silver lining in any situation, the reality is . . .I feel super overwhelmed at some point every single day.  Then I feel guilty for feeling this way because I do not have an immediate family member with a chronic illness, I live in America, I am a white, upper-middle class female with a supportive family, I have a great education and am healthy.  What the hell do I have to feel overwhelmed about?

I remind myself that it is all relative.  I remind myself of my time in Africa- when I did not know how to return to America and live this life I have been given when I knew how others were living thousands of miles away (let alone a few blocks away).  I remind myself to continue to be self-reflective.  To evaluate my weaknesses and develop plans of how I will improve.  To pat myself on the back for my successes.  To be humble.  To be empathetic.  To feel everything because what the hell else are we doing here on Earth but to “feel it all” as Feist sang?

I lose my Sicilian temper, I yell at my kids and feel bad.  I wish I could runaway sometimes or trade places with someone else I see pictures of on Facebook.  I feel guilt and regret and disappointment at my self-pity.

Pictures are worth a thousand words but we never see the full picture, do we?

So I offer you my words.  My truth.  My reality.  It’s not all rainbows and butterflies but sometimes it is, and those sure are pretty.

Orphanage in Accra, Ghana 2000



Love to You

Swinging, strolling, playing, nursing.  None of it has worked.  It is 9 PM and you should have been asleep two hours ago.  Instead, you are awake and crying when placed in your crib.  What is a mom, to do?

You had me up at midnight and 5 a.m.  Your sisters, collectively, woke me at 1, 2 and 4 a.m.  I haven’t slept in years.

After all of the trying, the rocking, the swaying, it dawns on me just what you need.  It’s so simple, why didn’t I think of it all along?

My energy changes.  I lay you on your tummy.  You fight.  I place my gentle hands upon your back.  Your head.  You settle.

I caress the soft skin on your sweet, little chubby arm and you lift it begging me to continue.  So I do.  I channel all the love I have for you through the end of my fingertips.  I calm and so do you.

We’ve been connected since the beginning and we always will be.

I set aside my exhaustion, my frustration and I send my love to you.

I slowly stop moving, resting my full palm upon your body.  A fingertip.  Hovering.

I’ve waited all of this time for you to sleep and yet I pause to marvel at your perfection before shutting your door, leaving my energy safely enclosed so that you feel safe.  Secure.

All my love, to you.



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This is you after spending hours cracked out in the tiny half-bath in our Nags Head home, replacing the flooring.  Breaking your back, sweating, and yet still smiling and proud of the work you completed.  This is you.  Hardworking.  Sincere.  Authentic.  My One. True. Love.


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This is you with your very first harvest of tomatoes in 2012.  You were so proud and it shows in the picture.  So does your incredible body at 40 years old.  You work hard, Emmett, and I am so proud to call you my husband.



This is you with all three of our daughters.  Little do they realize, they hit the jackpot when it comes to daddies.   You were literally born to do this.  To be a model father.  You sacrifice on their behalf.  You spend quality time with them Every. Single. Day.  Picking the garden, swinging, building sand castles, tea parties, legos, they name it, you’re all in.



You are my one true love.  The answer to my prayers.  My real life romance.  I love you through and through, forever and ever, through Heaven and Earth.  My soulmate.


Happy Anniversary Emmett Carawan.


Achilles Heel

We all have one.  A weakness, an Achilles heel.  For some, it is more obvious- perhaps a physical disability or chronic illness.  For others, it is an internal battle- a mental illness, an insecurity, invisible.

In today’s age, where friendships are formed over the internet and text messages, it is easy to hide these shortcomings- using photographs and witty quips as a facade for what lies beneath.  But the weakness remains and with it its ability to fester and silently crumble our confidence.

Some of us are more aware of our flaws than others, perhaps even too aware- obsessing over our failures; punishing ourselves as if that fixes the problem- while others choose to avoid confronting our demons, sweeping them under the proverbial rug where they grow and grow, only showing face during unrelated arguments.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  I could not agree more.  Looking back, my saddest moments were when I 1)  blamed others for my unhappiness  2) knew the root of a problem but refused to face it and 3) exhausted myself in an attempt to force someone else to recognize and fix their own problems.

Now, when my life feels imbalanced, I first look within.  I try to break through the several smaller issues that easily distract me from the true root of the problem.  Once identified, I take responsibility for my part- how did I contribute positively/negatively and what can I do now to improve it?

It is at this point that my achilles heel rears its ugly head- my inability to control the way others perceive me.  I care way too much about the way other people feel about me.  I envy strong-natured souls, unafraid to publicly announce their biased opinion, regardless of how it ostracizes them.  Instead, I play the middle-ground, always empathizing with the other party in an attempt to understand their point-of-view, wanting to appear fair and considerate.

It has taken a lot of thought for me to understand why I am this way and, as is the case for many insecurities, it stems from my childhood.  I am one of eight children; however, they are all half or step-siblings.  To me, they have never been anything but “siblings” because they all entered my life by the time I was three years old, but to them, I was an addition- the youngest and in some cases, unexpected child.   In an effort to “fit in” to three different families, I forced myself to be malleable, afraid that if I was deemed to have a difficult personality, I would be overlooked or avoided.  Fast forward thirty years later and here I am:  paralyzed when I have done everything I can to be easy-going and yet still sometimes misunderstood, powerless to change the other person’s perspective.

Once we recognize our weakness, it is up to us to either live with it or deal with it.  I don’t want to live this way any longer so I am determined to deal with it.  I don’t have a perfect answer but I know I can focus on what I DO HAVE:  The nuclear family I am creating- the fact that my daughters won’t feel as misplaced as I felt growing up.  I focus on my health- my gratitude for my healthy body and mind.  And I focus on my strengths- what I am doing well, giving myself credit for what I have overcome to get to where I am today.

The truth is, Achille had only one weakness but in the end, it was the weakness that killed him.  And I’ll be damned to allow this weakness to be my demise.  I will take all the necessary time “To find yourself, think for yourself”, as Socrates said best.  And I challenge you to do the same.

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