Nov 10, 2013

I Don't Care?

There once was a boy named Pierre. Who only would say, "I don't care." Read his story my friend for you'll find at the end that a suitable moral lies there,"
Maurice Sendak

Many many years ago when I was a wee little lass I was introduced to a teeny tiny blue and yellow book about a boy named Pierre. It is a cautionary tale. And due to the fact that Carole King actually sang the words of this book I have it completely memorized and of course my children also grew up reading about onery little Pierre....and hearing the song.

I used to not understand Pierre because 99% of the book Pierre did not care.....about anything. His parents spend oh so much time begging him to care. They offer many things to him if he would just care about something but he just keeps declaring, to everything, the words, "I don't care." After being swallowed whole by a lion and miraculously surviving it turns out in the end that Pierre does care. If you get a minute it really is worth it to Google "Pierre and Carole King" and watch the Youtube video of the song it truly is fabulous.

I have never ever understood the not caring thing. My whole entire life I have been the opposite of Pierre in every way. Caring way too much about everything:

 Caring about what people think.
 Caring eternally about if others are happy.
 Caring about being nothing but kind to you.
 Caring about avoiding conflict.
 Caring about if you understand me.
 Caring about if you like me :)
 Caring about if anyone is going to be offended.
 Caring about if everyone is comfortable.
 Caring about if I can do something right the first time.
 Caring about dishes being done before I go to bed.
 Caring about if all the leaves are raked up :)
 Caring about getting the paint color just right on the wall :)
 Caring about playing the organ perfectly in church.
 Caring about getting rid of the frizzies in my hair :)

Sigh, yeah it has been a whole lot of caring. I honestly never minded it. I was pretty sure it was who I was. It did not feel exhausting at the time. I know reading that list may make you feel tired but honestly I had no idea. I thought it was normal. I did not really see that maybe sometimes it was necessary to.....gasp.... not care??

I have read recently that humans are emotional and moral beings and we are not capable of observing other peoples behaviors without reacting emotionally and morally to it. We have to care and if we stop caring we actually stop being human. Drat, I was hoping it would be possible to be like Pierre....well not the lion part. So now that I have to accept that I care and always will I have to learn how to live with the caring and most importantly learn how to do it in moderation. As with everything in life I am slowly learning that there is always a happy medium. It seems we are always walking a fine balance in everything we do. There should be a just right amount of caring and a just right amount of recognizing when to not care.

I am happy to say I have learned to say "I don't care" to the things I simply can not care about and it feels remarkable to say it and let go. I can not care what you think anymore. I need to be accountable only to my Heavenly Father for the choices I make and no one else. Yes, I want you to like me but I can not care anymore if you do. Yes, I care about the dishes on the counter but sometimes it is more important to go upstairs and sit on the bed with my little girls and read or watch a movie.

It is stunning how great it feels to understand this concept. I feel so:
 and free
 and grownup
 and strong
 and beautiful
and skinny
and rich
and on top of the world
and in control

....okay, maybe not all of that but pretty darn close :)

Lest you think you should nominate me to be the poster child for figuring out how to care in just the right amount I must tell you it takes a lot of control and a lot of practice. I am SO not perfect at it. Sometimes I find my mind back in the, "caring about things I have no control over" area and I have to grab it and drag it back to the healthy side where I only care and obsess about things I can control.....which sadly are not you :)

I am not a freakishly uncaring person now I just know how to recognize when caring in an obsessive way is no longer healthy. There are so many things I simply can not control and thus can not care about. It appears that I seem to be "all in" in everything I do in my life. It would probably be fair to use the word epic to describe all I do. But not in the caring department anymore :)

“The right mixture of caring and not caring - I suppose that's what love is.” 

Nov 2, 2013

You've Had A Birthday.

What makes a birthday special? As I was reading through all the things that people on Facebook wished for me for my recent birthday I found myself thinking about this question.  Post after post everyone said in some way or another that they hoped my birthday was special. What does it mean if something is special? It means it is going to be different or distinguished from what is normal. If something is not special it is general. So I thought about what I do everyday that makes those days normal and then I thought about things that make a day different or distinguished from the normal. And I have to confess to all my dear Facebook friends despite all your amazingly kind wishes and hopes my birthday was general :) But the good news is that is okay because it is normal :)

Some of my Facebook friends hoped that someone had made me my favorite cake for my birthday. Years ago when we lived in Princeton, New Jersey this very sweet Japanese lady in my ward at church made me the most elegant and yummy cake for my birthday and I was so touched. She and I were nowhere near best friends. I had visited her a few times and we had talked about the bombing of Nagasaki but that was all. No one had ever gone to that much work for me since I had become a grown up. And I was amazed to discover how that felt. I am not really sure what my favorite dessert is. I think for me it is just the thought that you went to some work to make something with sugar in it for me. That same year another sweet lady in my Princeton Ward bought me a shirt from the Gap for my birthday. This was another first for me. I had never had a friend of mine buy me a gift of clothes before. I loved that shirt and I wore it until it got holes in it and I was forced to get rid of it. We had no money and a shirt from the Gap for myself was unthinkable on my budget at the time. I remember I was so enamored with even the Gap box the shirt came in. It made me feel so special.

People used words like super, terrific, wonderful, delightful, great, fabulous, awesome, and amazing to describe how they hoped my day would go. I found myself wondering what would have to happen for me to feel like I could use one of those words to describe my day of birth celebration? I think the perfect birthday would be someone I completely adore being with telling me they were going to pick me up at some ungodly hour in the morning and that we were going to go hike to the top of a mountain and watch the sun come up. Then we would go for an epic drive and talk and talk and talk and then go eat somewhere little, unique and yummy. And then spend hours finding funny and cool things on youtube to watch....yeah, I am a weirdo huh? It would not really matter what I was doing it would just feel amazing to have someone want to sacrifice a day and want to listen to me and talk with me all day. Just to be noticed. I have never been a give me a gift kind of girl. I want your time and full attention and words :)

I will never forget my 12th birthday. My parents threw me a boy/girl surprise party. I was surprised and it was truly the best. I got three necklaces from boys as presents that night and I thought it meant they all liked me but now I realize it meant their moms picked out my present :) But I felt so special and thought of :)

I wonder if that is what makes a birthday great is someone doing something for you that makes you realize they understand you, listen to you, and "get" you. Someone doing something for you that you know was a sacrifice for them. High maintenance? Who me? :)

I had a pretty great birthday a few years ago when my, "used to be annual" New York City girl trip ended up being on my birthday. My sweet friends and sister bought me a cupcake without me knowing it and gave it to me in the morning in the hotel room. We stayed in the Waldorf Astoria and I woke up to sunlight pushing through the light curtains that were hanging from these super tall windows and I laid there and thought about all sorts of things for awhile. We spent the day in New York City which I completely adore doing. I love the people watching. I love the sights. I love the sounds. I love the walking. I love everything about New York City. Birthday and New York City are very a very sweet combination :)

It takes a lot of effort to do a birthday right. To know somebody well enough to know what would make their day feel distinguished and different. I have had people do something as simple as buy me some magazines from the checkout counter at the store and put them in a gift bag but it meant the world to me because I would never buy those for myself and yet I sometimes want to read them. I have had people show up throughout the years at my door with a simple offering of a treat and it meant so much to me. I know how much it takes to remember and then to execute when you have your normal life to also keep up. My birthday comes right before a holiday when people are very busy with school parties and Halloween costumes and I know someone really loves me when they appear in the middle of all that chaos with even just a card for me.

I try year after year not to have too many expectations for my birthday. But I confess I still have a fantasy in my head of what would be an ever so perfect birthday. I have found that lately I do not want anyone to acknowledge me or reach out to me at all so I did not make it easy for anyone to celebrate me this year and I am grateful for the few that saw past that and recognized what was really under all those protestations that I really did not need anything. There is something about finding out even if it is just for one day out of 365 that you are appreciated. That people recognize your goodness and talents and want you to know.