Tag Archives: Trying Something New

Tell Me What You Think, What You Really Really Think

Does anyone ever just say what they mean? Like no-holds-barred, tell it like it is, kick-you-in-the-crotch and spit-on-your-neck honest?

I find myself having to resist this urge lately. I find myself in a few (very few) relationships lately with people who I think need a pretty severe reality slap. People whose expectations and outlooks are seriously out of whack with reality and possibility. I tend to be neutral, to let these people vent or get out their feelings, without really telling them what I think. I’m a relatively honest person in that I don’t lie very well and don’t feel the need to lie, especially about how I feel about things in my life. But I’m not confrontational and I won’t be completely honest about how I feel about YOU and your behavior.

I am starting to reconsider this approach. Is it doing anyone any good? I try to put myself in their shoes. Would I want someone to take my hand and gently, but firmly, tell me to get a grip? I think yes. I would, I do appreciate when someone points out my (ridiculous) behavior and suggests perhaps I should look at it from another point of view.

Why do we shy away from the hard talk? We seem to respect it in our characters in television, movies and books. Gregory House and Elizabeth Bennett are a few that come to mind. Everyone knows that the only opinion on American Idol that counted was Simon Cowell’s because he wasn’t afraid to say what he really thought.

What about in real life? I think I respect someone who would not be afraid to be honest with me, who would not hesitate to lay it on the line. But would I? Or would I just think, man he’s rude? Or wow, what a bitch?

In my writing classes, I find myself going overboard to be effusive about others’ work. Is this really helpful? I do it because 1) I want to be “nice”, I want people to like me; and 2) because I know how hard it is to put your work out there and I really want to encourage other writers. I remember needing the praise (and still do). But. Isn’t there a way to encourage without falsity? In my own critiques, I dismiss people who are effusive. I listen to the ones that offer me real insight and tell me what’s wrong. Because it makes me better.

I am thinking of trying an experiment. Of spending a whole week in honesty. Of gently, but firmly, putting the truth out there and seeing what happens. Of not flinching from the consequences, of not worrying about what others think of me, of not being concerned with whether I am liked or not.

Now, I’m not talking about the nuances and dances that are necessary in relationships. I am not going to walk around and spout out honesty at people like a weapon. And I’m not talking about going overboard. I have an acquaintance who is unreasonably rude and unyielding. She uses honesty as her excuse. She says “I’m not being rude, I’m just being honest.” No, she’s being rude. Being rude is not what I’m going for.

But if you ask me what I think? I’m going to try honesty. Consider this your notice and your warning.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Eek.

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January’s a Bitch, But At Least She Admits It

To me, the physical representation of the calendar is vertical. December is at the bottom, and January is at the top. So at the end of the year, in my mind’s eye, when we move from December 31 to January 1, I figuratively look “up” to the start of January, on the next page, and see the 365 days spread ahead, down the hill, the gradual slide of time and days and months and moments into 2011. I’ve tried to step back and actually “see” the calendar for what it is- arbitrary, invented, just a way for humans to keep track of an ordered universe that is anything but ordered. I can’t do it. January looks different to me. She is tall and slim and sleek and cold and silvery and shiny. She reflects what the future could be, what it might be, but she is empty and unmoving. Whereas December to me is full and fat and warm and red, the glowing fade of a sunset, the edges spilling over with celebrations and what-could-have-beens and the softened edges of memories. December looks back and captures everything the way we want to see it. January shows us the way we want to be.

I’ve never made resolutions. I never felt the need and I am not an extreme person, so the idea that I’d promise to work out everyday or lose 10 pounds or stop eating chocolate or organize my closet or whatever didn’t make much sense to me. I knew on December 15th I wouldn’t do those things, so being January 1 didn’t make me want to do those things either. I also usually find January depressing. I love the holidays and January seems like such a buzz kill, it’s cold but not for any fun holiday reasons, everyone is busy being “good” and boring, there is really nothing to look forward to until about March.

This year, however, I feel differently. Christmas was a bit of a letdown for me, due to my own busyness and stress. I haven’t been focusing on what I want to. All of a sudden, for the first time, January seems necessary. I’m ready for January this year, ready for her blank slate and clutter clearing and refocusing. And this year,  I made not resolutions exactly, but commitments. I’m re-crossing the Rubicon.

Commitments to myself, for myself, all about writing.

Commitments to myself and to my family about slowing down and savoring life.

Seems like in life, we are always starting over in some way or another. For example, I haven’t written nearly as much as I intended to in the past 6 months, haven’t gotten nearly as far as I wanted. Instead of feeling defeated and frustrated, maybe I just need a better perspective. Maybe it’s not starting over, it’s just starting better. I know how to do it better now.

So here’s to a shiny and blank New Year, ready to be filled with new adventures, new experiences, and falling down and getting back up, new babies ( T and A and K and U!), a new move (sister), new expectations and disappointments and reflections, new philosophies and embracing new detours, new stories and new friends, new laughter and new seasons. While we move forward, we cannot leave the past behind, so here’s to your New Year also being filled with old friends and favorite routines and rituals becoming traditions.

I’m coming for you, cold January lady. I’m gonna wipe the blank slate right off your face.

Happy New Year!!!

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