I’ve always had an interesting relationship with my birthday. It comes once a year and usually I feel unprepared. Last year and this year I decided to get away and take a trip. This year has had a lot of ups and downs. I moved, traveled, taught, and adulted through a lot. I’ve made some new friends and let some others go. I’ve reconnected with people and had an opportunity to take on some new responsibilities professionally. Lately I’ve reflected on the last decade of my life and it’s crazy how much can happen in ten years. Here I am four degree and several cross country moves later. It’s been an interesting ride but I’m looking forward to more personal and professional growth and new experiences. Maybe staying home for a change and putting down some roots for real.
I recently realized how much my circle has changed. I’m not in close contact with many of the people I grew up with and over the years I’ve also grown apart from some friends I met during my college years. One thing I like about my current circle is the fact that everyone wants to do better. There’s intentionality around improving personally and professionally. One great quality of a good friendship is that you feel accepted as a person. You aren’t judged or made to feel like your friend is trying to change you. However, I’ve come to realize that the mark of a good friend is one that challenges you to grow—even if it’s an uncomfortable process. They aren’t trying to change you but they also realize opportunities for growth that you may not see so they challenge you to be better. Constructive criticism feels different when it comes from someone you know who genuinely has the best intentions for you. Instead of becoming more defensive, it’s easier to internalize what they’re saying. This type of a friend is rare to have and if you find one be grateful and keep them around.
There’s a lot that’s been going on and lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of compatibility in a romantic context. I’ve always been someone that hated the small talk part of getting to know someone. I’d rather ask deep personal questions that one should never ask on a first date that tend to illicit an awkward reaction. One of the most important compatibility aspects is the fact that both partners have shared outcomes. While they may not share the same favorite color or food, their values and life goals are compatible. They are on the same page about monogamy (or the lack of it), life philosophy, and other important big picture stuff. It gives them something to bond over and talk about because they’re on the same page and they see similar things in the future. Having increased positive interactions can help them in dealing with the everyday relationship stresses. It’s not always glamorous, but compatibility on a deep level works wonders for relationships success.
Just a few pictures from the few days I spent Phoenix. There’s nothing like dry heat and while it was hot, it wasn’t sticky. It’s one of the places I’d love to visit again and really explore.
I’ve been attempting to write a bit more consistently and it’s been quite a challenge. One thing that has been interesting for me has been the recent increase in working with couples as a therapist. It is such a different vibe than seeing a person by themselves or a family as a whole. A spouse/partner can be your best friend or worst enemy and a lot of things in between. One thing that many of my clients have in common is the fact that they failed to make the small changes that would have helped them to avoid the major issues that came up. They grew apart over the course of months and years and they became so comfortable with avoiding meaningful communication that the other individual has become a stranger. But the truth is that you can’t undo years of damage overnight; there’s too much disconnection and both people have been going in different directions. It’s in those times that a major course correction is necessary. One of the things that I’ve learned is it the importance of making minor course corrections when they are still minor. Checking in, talking about tough stuff, and making time for each other are some of the things that have to be done intentionally because it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and take your partner for granted. Developing healthy communication patterns and fighting respectfully and effectively while remaining emotionally connected is a narrow tightrope to walk on. However, the things that are worthwhile are worth doing well. Great relationships don’t happen haphazardly. They are maintained through intentional effort, time, and emotional connection.
Lately I’ve been on this health kick. Technically I probably shouldn’t call it that because it’s a lifestyle change and I’m consciously being more intentional about making healthy choices. It’s been a very very very challenging six weeks but it’s been good to see some of the results I’ve been wanting. Through this process I’ve been reminded of how important having discipline is to daily life. This was a reality that I also faced last year when I had to get my shit together and finally finish my dissertation. Nothing would be written unless I stopped making excuses and actually sat down to write and became intentional about doing so. So here I am again tapping into that same part of myself to improve and to consistently workout. I thought about the concept of internal integrity and how crucial it is to achieving success. It means that you keep the promises that you make to yourself. Self talk is one of those things that impact us even if we don’t necessarily always consciously realize it. Our actions and emotions are closely tied to what we tell ourselves and our internal dialogue. Internal integrity means that you are a person of your word and that you follow through–even when you want to change your mind about a course of action because you’ve already said you’d do it. A great example of this is the fact that I decided to juice for three days and while I absolutely hated it, I stuck to it because it was what I had promised myself I would do. It was hard but I knew that I could do it because I’ve had to discipline myself in other areas of my life. The mind is a powerful tool and I personally think that it’s important to make a practice of making decisions that have a long term positive impact even if they cause short term discomfort. It’s those types of decisions that pave the way for long term meaningful change. I don’t know if the process gets easier but I hope eventually that it does.