Wednesday, November 15, 2017

TO BE YOU




The other night I was sipping red wine on my friend’s patio overlooking the skyline. We were talking about how hard it is to be ourselves. While at first glance this may sound trite, like a nice slogan from childhood of “just be yourself!” Now, there is nothing wrong with the statement, in fact, the statement is fine. What is difficult is actually living it out.

My friend said “I’ve literally never talked about this to another woman.”

The content of the topic had her feeling so much shame, so abnormal, so different that she had literally never talked to another woman about it before. I just have one thing to say:

GIRL. I GET IT.

There are certain taboo topics among women and all of humanity for that matter that seem to cause a tightening in our chests. And there are other topics that are so much milder when you really get down to it, but still make us super anxious!

These things about ourselves can be as serious from I’ve never wanted to get married to I don’t like donuts or I read [write] fan-fiction.

Do you know what I mean?

Why is it SO hard to be unapologetically ourselves?

Well thanks for asking! There are clearly a number of reasons.

We crave with the deepest parts of our souls to belong and sometimes belonging means we have to stay the same. Belonging is survival and so being different or abnormal or not part of the group feels incredibly threatening to our very being.

No wonder we give in to camouflaging so easily. Call it whatever you want. Crowd psychology, group think, mob mentality. There is safety in numbers and more often we find ourselves flocking like pigeons.

It’s this invisible pressure that is always pulling us and yanking us to be just like everyone else.

I read a lot, a lot of books but a lot of articles and blogs too. Bios have scary similarities almost as if we can’t venture outside of anything that doesn’t fall into basic white girl category (and yes I’m one of them).

Examples are as follows:

Brunch lover. Succulents. Fitness

Girl running on coffee and Jesus

Puppies. Big dreamer. Pizza.

Outdoors.  Donuts.  Love well.

Juice Cleanse. Find the positive. Healthy living.

Boss babe. Positive vibes. Nutrition Coach.

Family. Faith. Fitness.

Be brave. Adventure. Crunch dead leaves in Uggs and flannel.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with the above (clearly I am a HUGE advocate for my coffee and I can be real basic about it all).

But also I’ve thought about some things that are true of me that are harder to admit, and they aren’t even that bad, but they just aren’t currently trending, they aren’t mainstream and honestly imagining them on my bio or byline makes me feel tense. They aren’t just about fitness and succulents and the gym and eating pizza. I kill succulents. I don’t really like pizza and the gym is a huge bore to me.

Let me tell you something though. The authors who have really REALLY spoken to me have said the things no one else is saying. They said the thing everyone is afraid to breathe out loud and that is why I love them, because I had a YES ME TOO moment.

And with my friend on the patio, eye to eye, face to face, we had a moment of ME TOO and it’s okay. We belong together. 

Belonging to an actual person is so much better than belonging to whatever is trending on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and the wide variety of blogs we read. It’s so much more fulfilling than just pretending you’re into all the things you’re not.

So here it is, unapologetically me:

  • I love wild fowl (eating it).
  •  I hate the beach in the summer.
  • I have never had a problem drinking water and my whole life I always nod and act very interested in “hydrating well” and say “I just gotta drink water!” so I can fit in and not seem braggy. But for the love of God, if I come across like a bragger butt because I like water and drink lots of it, then we all need to take a seat.
  • I really don’t like pizza. I never crave it.
  • I would eat pasta every day and be very happy and this includes box mac’n’cheese.
  • I truly love salads. I love the texture and the crunch and the munch. I always feel nervous people assume I’m trying to be healthy or trying to lose weight when I order a salad but I have loved salads since I was a child.
  •  I think football is dumb.
  •  I can’t handle slow, sad, dramatic TV shows.
  •  I love school and academia and while I tried to complain so I could be empathetic and be part of the group, I secretly loved writing papers.
  • I hate going on vacation and feeling pressure to visit the “top 10” places YOU MUST SEE. It makes me want to see none of them. Sometimes I don’t want to be a tourist. Sometimes I want to lie around the hotel and read a book. It’s vacation after all.
  •   I don’t wash my face in the mornings.
  •  I enjoy making up words. 
  •  I really enjoy the smell of gasoline.
  • I hate movies based in space. It makes me feel claustrophobic.
  • C.S. Lewis has not changed my life.
  • I can’t stand diet culture.
  • Pre-injury, I loved running specifically long distance running.
  • I have multiple library cards because I read like I’m running out of air.
  • You will never catch me utilizing the Find My Friends app. It is the most invasive thing ever. 
  • I hate the hashtag #fitfamily the most.
  •  If I run out of dish soap I just fill it up with water much to my husband's dismay. #sorrynotsorry
  • I think heels are the worst invention ever and refuse to wear them.
  • Turtle necks are a nightmare (does anyone really want something crawling up their neck?!)
  • I love hand written letters and write letters regularly. I am still a 90’s girl who is always seeking a good pen pal.
  • I stick tampons EVERYWHERE so that wherever I am I will find one (think random kitchen drawer, glove box, suitcases, pockets, zippers, etc.).
  •  I love laser tag.
  • Peeling off my nail polish is extremely satisfying. 
  •  I love all obstacle courses.
  •  I actually don’t like Coldplay.
  •  I love a good gravel road.
  • I studied the macaroni penguins in school.

P.S. Here is my list of basic white girl things that I truly and deeply love: cold brew, Jesus, puppies, fall, leggings, and pumpkin spice everythinnnnggg. (Sorry Jesus, I didn’t mean to say you were basic).

Here’s what I’m learning.

I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to be the type of woman people needed or expected me to be to fit in with the larger culture.

I’ve spent time trying to be the type of Christian people needed or expected of me.

I’ve spent time trying to be the type of human people needed or expected of me.

But I’ve been anchoring into myself. I’ve been listening to my gut, my body, my soul. I’ve been trusting it more. Instead of shaming myself for what I like or don’t like, I try to be curious about it. Instead of just “sucking it up” and doing what everyone is expecting of me, I’ve been trying to turn towards me rather than away from me.

It’s really revolutionary. I get quiet and listen to the space where there is no crowd or mob telling me what I must be.

There’s quite a few even bigger things I’m coming to terms with about myself that doesn’t fit in with what I thought it meant to be a white, straight, Christian woman living in America. I’m realizing I differ on some things.

I’m finding there are many out there who are looking for a voice to unapologetically claim who they are and what they're about. 

I’m wondering if maybe there is something you enjoy out there that just feels like it doesn’t fit in?

If we could talk about our basic likes and dislikes, what colors we like, our favorite foods, maybe we could move on to bigger and scarier subjects? Subjects about politics, social injustice, trauma or even more scary, how we really feel inside.

What are we actually drawn to? I think this is important to think about. There is so much need in our big aching world but sometimes I think we rush down the current of what is trending. If we aren’t deeply passionate about a certain subject we feel guilty and then end up neglecting the subject we truly resonate with. 

We simply can’t be into everything. We have to embrace our niche and then own it. We can’t be a chef/neuroscientist/yoga instructor/elementary teacher/coder/ veterinarian all at the same time.

God doesn’t need you to be an activist for everything.

In the world of social justice I see it often. People feel a pressure to be actively advocating for everything. Homelessness. Sex trafficking. The refugee crisis. Poverty. Access to healthcare and education. Those struggling with substance abuse and addictions. Racial reconciliation. Civil rights. Recycling.   Education on feminism. Fighting against patriarchy. Disabilities rights. Reproductive justice. Mass incarceration.  Gender workplace diversity. Special needs. Spiritual abuse. Labor Laws. Immigration.  Child abuse. Human rights. Animal rights. The environment. Transgender rights. Gun violence.

How can we tend to the good in our world without letting the evil swallow us up?

Can we tolerate being different? Even if we don’t have the same hobbies, or dreams or desires or hopes? Can we manage our reactivity a bit more about these things? Why would we ever want to take away the creativity and originality inside each of us?.

I know for a fact that even the most basic coffee loving, Jesus loving, organic eating girl has more going on than that. There is more beating inside her soul than just her thoughts on organic foods and whole roasted beans.

For me I like having duck for my birthday dinner and I plan trips to the beach when it’s cloudy or even rainy. I am passionate about foster care, and helping young adults and adolescents manage anxiety and helping end stigma surrounding mental health. I care a lot about how we talk about sexuality especially within the Christian church. I like saying hi to dogs and asking how their day is going (in front of their owners) and I will forever abhor the smell of an airplane but can handle just about anything with a good book.

Now it’s your turn? What do you love? What is your niche? This is not a group decision as Shauna Niequist says, “This is actually my life, and it doesn’t matter a bit if it would feel lovely for someone else to live. What does matter: does it feel congruent with God made me and called me?”

Do you like kidney beans? Do you wear mis-matchd socks? Do you own a pet that you can only see under a microscope?  Do you hate uggs? Answer below in the comments!



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Do Men Really Have The Higher Sex Drive




And Is This Really The Right Question?*

A long clung to stereo-type is the whole “men are more visual and men have a higher sex drive than women” First things first though! Whatever you are doing I want you to get to a calendar as FAST as you can. Google calendar is fine, the one on your phone or on your wall. But just check in on the year. I’ll wait.

So now that we’ve had that little update let’s all say the year together:

2017.

It’s 2017!

That means we are here. In the present. And I have to say, sometimes we live a lot like we are in the past. We still carry around strange old stereo-types like they are badges of honor. And one of the favorite old-school narratives is: men have a stronger sex drive.

I wonder if we can break this one down a little? What are the implications of this? Personally it’s a well-used and (quite worn out I might add) power play. Implications are as follows:

I, a man, have a stronger sex drive than you therefore:

-I need sex
-I lust all the time
-I can’t help but look
-I am visual
-If I cheat, you know why.

Now excuse me while I go barf in the trash next door.

Now I know I am not a scientist. I am not a professional researcher. I don’t study biology full time.  I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and from my experience both professionally and personally this whole thing is a bunch of poop shit. (saying poop twice gets the point across more I think). Men and women both have sex drives and while they might express themselves DIFFERENTLY that does not mean one gender has a higher sex drive then the other.

But in case you are skeptical of my highly scientific and highly researched data (aka my personal and professional experience and all the books there ever was) below are five reasons why we might be able to finally call B.S. on the nonsense of “men have a stronger sex drive than women”. *

So here are Five Reasons why this data just might not be all that accurate anymore

      1. Some Research is Biased.
Who were the ones who created the research on this in the first place? If we look at the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) it’s easy to note the gender gap. Men have dominated this industry for a very long time. So if we continue along this line of thinking we might presume that largely white straight men have been creating and driving this line of thinking that men have higher sex drives right? When you think about it, it’s absurd because so much research has lacked a female perspective or even perspective of different ethnicities especially in the science field. It seems to me that this research comes out of a patriarchal and sexist mindset that only (at least appears) to benefit men and not women. Basically we know what white, straight men think but what do the rest of us think when it comes to this topic? (and you do know that a white man came up with the tampon 

2.     Our Sex Drives Are Different.
This does not mean men have higher sex drives and that women have lower sex drives. It means they are different and show up differently. In some ways male sex drives are more linear and straightforward. Women’s sex drives tend to vary from high highs to low lows especially when you think of the female menstrual cycle and the way hormones levels change and interact throughout the month. There are even  a couple of studies done by Meredith Chivers that shows some difference between men and women’s desires. What she found was that women were aroused physiologically by a much wider range of stimuli than men.

3.    Hormones!
Speaking of hormones, sex drive has more to do with hormones than with gender. Estrogen, testosterone and progesterone make up part of the sex drive. Everyone lands on a spectrum of sex drive and each person has varying degrees of libido often depending largely on our hormone levels.  

4.    Cultural Constructs Matter
The stereo-type of men having a higher libido might be more of a cultural construct than a biological truth.  Different sexual expressions are often a byproduct of socially constructed norms. Biological differences can arise from social conditioning such as telling males their whole life that they have a “strong sex drive” and will struggle with lust affects how they perceive the world. In the same way perpetuating the stereo-type that “you’re a woman and you don’t crave sex” has conditioned women to feel shame about their sex drive, hide it or completely repress it and therefore they don’t believe theirs is very strong. A survey in the UK showed that 47% of men would give up sex for 6 months for a 50-inch Plasma TV. Women would only make that trade 35% of the time. So look how gender priorities are reversed!

5.  Don’t Forget About the Individual Experience
 It is too black and white and inaccurate to claim that all men have high sex drives and all women have low sex drives. We cannot reduce or oversimplify humans in such a way. Yes SOME men do. And yes, SOME women do as well. According to research 1 in 5 men would rather do anything else but sex.  It is not helpful in fostering closeness between partners and it disregards individual experience, season of life, hormone levels, age, ability, current stressors, medication side affects and the actual relationship. If anything, this stereo-type harms both males and females. Men feel constantly pushed into being the initiator, the more sexually aggressive one, the one who is visual and needs sex constantly. If they don’t feel this way internally they experience shame and question their masculinity. In the same way when women find themselves with a strong sex drive, wanting to initiate sexually and being aroused easily it can create shame because it feels like they are acting out of what is seen as abnormal for their gender.


*Sidenote let’s for one sec just pretend men do have the higher sex drive. (like we’ve pretended for the LAST MILLION AND ONE YEARS). Well I have a question; um since women are the ones who PROCREATE after all, shouldn’t we be a bit more concerned about helping females out with their SEX DRIVE? AKA why have we literally poured billions into Viagra to help men keep a penis awake and done nothing to help out women out?! I am completely baffled. 

**Also men and women both agree that bacon is better than sex. Agree or disagree?



Monday, September 25, 2017

Marital Strengths




This weekend I am helping out with a Hold Me Tight couples retreat with some other amazing therapists I work with! The retreat is based off of the book called, Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson who is the developer of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.

I am so looking forward to this retreat! I know that EFT has helped out so many couples in distress and has helped them foster a secure attachment. In honor of this retreat coming up I decided to take a little bit of time to think about my own relationship. I thought of our strengths as a couple and what helps continue to foster our secure attachment to each other.

It's ironic (and sad and sometimes humorous) that our culture and media shows us what "strengths" are relationally and how often these so called "strengths" are never what really helps a couple thrive. Often what we see on simplistic romantic comedies (which I love by the way so no hating) as strengths are as follows:
  • The couple is super hot (and if not, the woman is super hot)
  • They have sex constantly or at least want it constantly (they can barely function, go to work or pay their bills BECAUSE SEXUAL TENSION)
  • There is a serendipitous moment (a meet cute) or just a moment of knowing this is the other person's soul mate. How they discover this? Through background music and staring into each other's eyes and moving VERY SLOWLY. 
  • Usually a very weird and easily avoidable misunderstanding/miscommunication. 
  • An exit and then a chase of sorts (due to disastrous communication). Someone will invariably try to leave by plane, boat, train or on foot (due to their terrible lack of communication skills) and the other will chase them down by plane, boat, train or on foot.  

Things like consistency, trust, loyalty and putting in the effort (to learn some freaking communication skills) are not exactly highlighted or showcased in the media, movies or books. In defense of romantic comedies if they whole thing was one dialogue about "what makes you feel safe relationally" for example we would all fall asleep. The couple would be more happy but we wouldn't be very entertained. We love our chases! 

I thought I would share some of Scott and I strengths that I experience day to day that help us feel connected and securely attached to one another. When we have conflict I think about the things that are positive about our relationship. I remember that we are so much more than a fight or irritating argument. Some are super simple like shared experiences or hobbies (which helps us feel connected as we spend quality time together) and some are more complex and something we've had to work on (like asking for space when we need it.) 

  • We both love reading together. 
  • We both like to explore coffee shops and try out new coffee. 
  • We both highly value winning prizes.
  • We respect each other's space and independence.
  • We are thrifty and sneaky financially and somehow figure out how to go on trips together.
  • We are creative.
  • We take time to hear about each other's day. 
  • We ask the hard questions. 
  • When we we mess up; we say sorry.
  • We like to dream about our future together.
  • We both share a deep passion for COZY. (soft blankets, candles, fun drinks)
  • We are rock stars because we have different internal clocks. (when Scott is wide awake in the morning I am asleep and when I am buzzing around at midnight he is snoring)
  • We make time with friends and family a priority and encourage each other to do the same.
  • We verbally affirm each other regularly.
  • We feel safe enough to ask for what we want and need.
  • We write each other little notes.
  • We usually win at board games when we are on the same team.
  • Scott is a good cook and I am good eater.
  • We have rituals (date nights, morning coffee dates, evening prayers)
  • We are both love spending time with our little pup and taking him to new places, beaches, and parks to explore. 
  • We both care about our neighborhood.
  • We are deeply and soulfully invested in our faith. 
  • We both care about our spiritual growth.
  • We list out our gratitudes to each other every night. 
  • We both love nature and the outdoors but hate laying on the sand at the beach because ITCHY.
  • We are pretty decent candlemakers.
  • We are really INTO each other.
  • We connect well intellectually.
  • We both love making the other person laugh. 
What are some of your relational strengths?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Refreshing Gin Tonic



Hi guys! I know this is not a life-style blog but sometimes I like lifestyle things especially if it has anything to do with fall, growing an urban garden or attaining the perfect bikini body (bahahaha) And since it's still hot out in San Diego even though it's September (September is generally our warmest month) I decided to share my favorite refreshing cocktail with you.

Scott and I toured a gin distillery when we visited St. Andrews, Scotland last year and ever since then I've been stuck on gin cocktails. This one is super simple. I don't like complicated ANYTHING in the kitchen so it's very accessible. It's an easy crowd pleaser too.

Grapefruit Gin Tonic

Ingredients:
Grapefruit
Gin
Rose Lemonade
Ice

Directions:
Quarter slice of grapefruit at bottom of glass
Fill glass with crushed ice.
Add 2 ounces of gin for a double (We love New Amsterdam or Ballast Point Old Grove)
Fill the rest up with rose lemonade (We love Fentimans which you can get on Amazon)
Garnish with a small slice of grapefruit (you can add a lime too!)

You're welcome. 



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The World Is Scary So Let's Wrangle Some Joy



So the world is a scary place right now.

There are many many reasons for this.

Threats of nuclear war

Death and injuries dues to Charlottesville white nationalist rally

So much racism.

So much sexism.

So much violence.

So much bigotry.

The refugee crisis.

Break-ins and burglary in our neighborhood on the regular. (pretty mild all things considering amiright?)

Oh and there are some crazy creepy white supremacy blogs out there. (free advice: sometimes it's best to forget research and go outside so you can avoid losing your mind)

And there is the usually downpour called every day life. Scott got sick with the flu. We ran out of Nyquill, Advil, toilet paper and paper towels all around the same time. The car didn't pass the smog check. Leonard threw up. We spaced paying car registration. We ran out of quarters to do laundry etc...

Besides that; Scott and I have been going through a tough season  (outside of the normal mundane type stuff). The details are private right now but I can tell you this WE ALL NEED A LITTLE BIT OF GOOD NEWS.

So I just finished Jen Hatmaker's new book, Of Mess and Moxie and if you haven't yet, stop whatever you are doing and go buy it!

It made me laugh so hard you guys (and I can't even relate to her content on having teenagers but it was so funny all the same!)

I really needed to laugh. Jen talks about wrangling joy and delight out of life. I love the idea of wrangling something like joy. Because right now? We have to wrangle it. I don't find that joy and happiness is going to just waltz on in without a bit of request or wrangle if you will.

We have to wrestle it in. We have to dig down deep into the gusto and guts and grit of our soul and find the ability to make something of what we have. You remember Jacob and how he had to wrestle a bit to be blessed? (Genesis 32:26) I'm imagining something like that for us.

So here's what I did: I created a little acronym called HOPE* to help wrangle a bit of joy into my every day life. In the mornings I am walking through this practice to pray, set an intention, embrace my values and yes pull joy in like a kite that wants to fly away in this strong and chaotic windstorm called the world.

HOPE: What Is Bringing Me Hope Today About The Future?

Look you guys, it can be ANYTHING. Don't try to be fancy or philosophical about this. Here's my list:
  • Fall is coming. (There are already pumpkins at Marshalls and I cannot be sad knowing this)
  • My sister is due Sunday (YAY for being an auntie!!!)
  • I COULD win the lottery. (don't analyze this. think big you guys!)
GOOD NEWS: Who Can I Bring Good News To Today? (P.S. I know that my "O" is a stretch here but work with me...)

We all need some happy news. We desperately do. Who can you advocate for today? Who can you encourage? What can you do practically? Maybe it is buying backpacks for your local elementary school. Maybe it's signing up to bring dinner for the neighbors whose house just burned down and are still recovering from the after shock. Maybe it's donating to the STARS program for teen girls involved with CSEC. (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children). Maybe it's volunteering your time to help walk some dogs. You can become a foster family. You can help fund kids to go to a Young Life camp. And keep calling your senators! 

Again, it doesn't have to be a huge life altering decision either. It can be sending a letter encouraging your friend who is going through cancer treatments. It can be telling your spouse you love them. It can be buying the person in line behind you a coffee. (actually forget everything else I told you: THIS IS THE TRUE GOOD NEWS). You can text them and tell them you are really praying for them. Or Amazon Prime them a prize. It's simple. It's a couple clicks and now you are seeing good news via the mail! Host a girls night and drink lots of Sangria. Make your friends a home cooked dinner. This IS always and always and forever amen good news. Good news comes in all shapes and sizes. Find someone and show them God's love. 

Here are mine:
  • Bringing good news to husband via gatorade and medicine and driving him to Urgent Care. 
  • Bringing good news to my clients by reminding them they have hope and they are rock stars. 
  • Bringing birthday presents to nephews + nieces. 
POSITIVE: What Is One Positive Thing In My Day? 

Think of something you're especially grateful for or thankful for today!
ENERGY: Where Do I Want To Put My Energy Today?

YOU GUYS. I'll lose it for real if I put all my energy on Trump lump okay? I cannot put all my energy into social media and battling the crazy trolls out there. We gotta forget that noise. I'm trying to put my energy into people I can see and touch and feel today. The people who live in my home, my neighborhood and my community. It's not that I don't care about what is going on "out there" but if I spend all day online trying to educate people on racism I will shit my pants (well wait... it's more likely I'll constipate my pants from gritting my teeth but this isn't really a saying so I digress) Also silver lining: Scott and I will become homeless if I spend all my energy and time fighting online instead of working and being present with my surroundings. 

So for today my energy is on:
  • Scotty and helping him recover from his flu virus.
  • My clients.
  • My puppy Lenny because feeding and walking him is the best use of my energy sometimes. 
So do you want to join me and practice HOPE on the daily? I feel like at the best we will feel a spark of joy and happiness and at the worst, maybe we will have given someone else a tiny ray of hope. 

* I also created a super neat acronym called POOP. It is to help you feel the opposite of hope and joy. Works in a jiffy.
P: Poop your pants (now that is a hope stealer if I have anything to say)
O: Get online. Stay online as long as humanely possible. You will quickly feel like poop in no time!
O: Offer to stand in line at the DMV for a friend. It's a nice thing to do.
P: Politics. Try to think about politics every second of every minute of every hour. You will feeling stunningly shitty in a matter of mili-seconds! But don't let that detour you! Keep thinking about politics.

For best results: Do not go outside, see the sun or smell fresh air. Stay inside where it's warm and cozy and stale and near your computer and phone and charger. And don't be silly, keep those blinds closed for heavens sake! 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

20 Reasons to Celebrate America Despite it's Glaring Imperfections.

This week we celebrated the fourth of July.

And if I'm honest I felt a little sheepish about celebrating.

America is not perfect and this past political season has showcased that quite clearly. (it's been ugly)

It's really embarrassing.

I'm pretty appalled by the values we have ignored and disappointed by what we have prioritized.

So I did what I do when I'm feeling a lot. I made a gratitude list. I created a list of things I am thankful for when it comes to America.

I thought I would share it because even when things aren't perfect there are still silver linings and things to be grateful for. (and in no way does this EVER condone the mess we have made here)

Here's what I celebrated on the fourth of July (in no particular order)
  • The National Park Services
  • Public libraries
  • Trader Joes
  • Amazon Prime
  • San Diego beaches
  • Donuts
  • Stripes and stars are fun
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Jazz music
  • Baseball (especially the Padres and the Twins)
  • Steak
  • Fall in Minnesota
  • How obsessed we all are with our pets (especially DOGS)
  • Thanksgiving mashed potatoes and green bean casserole #yum
  • How big the sky is in Nebraska
  • Access to clean water 
  • COFFEE CULTURE and the whole take-it-to-go thing
  • Public education (as flawed as it is...)
  • Food portions are just large and it is awesome (especially ice-cream scoops)
  • All my friends and family that live here


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review: Better Than Before




I read the book, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin for Blogging For Books . It's basic premise and question is, "how we change" and I believe her conclusion is that we change by developing and keeping good habits. She has a lot of practical advice paired with research for all her habits she discusses. 

She discusses four types of personalities when it comes to making habits, the upholder, obliger, the rebel, the questioner. She states she is an upholder and for upholders her material might be relatable. Her ability to empathize with those different than her seems to be a little bit short sighted. I am a rebel (according to her book) but I disagreed with rebels just breaking rules, struggling with discipline and being seen as lazy teenagers. Most people I know would describe me as very disciplined and mastering a habit has never been difficult for me. I like don't like the status quo and I enjoy breaking rules :) However, I know that discipline has it's dark side. 

As a Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked in treatment centers specifically for those struggling with eating disorders I was uncomfortable with all her talk about eating less sugar, exercising more and wanting to lose a few pounds. It felt so typical to me and completely unaware of a very large population who is so good at discipline and strict diets that they are now in treatment centers for starving themselves or over-exercising. I think I felt a bit protective of this population as she made it seem that everyone just wants and needs to lose a few pounds! (Does this have to be the American dream?!) I found the research to have many holes in it especially after working with nutritionists and diet techs in my profession. Anyway, I digress :)

I did enjoy her practical advice on organizations and un-cluttering her home. I did feel she might be over-functioning for everyone around her by offering to clean out their closets for them. It's one thing to do something for yourself, it's another to need to everyone to do the same as you to lower your anxiety or stress. 

I really enjoyed her previous book, The Happiness Project and I always think her goals on getting more sleep is absolutely admirable (and so important for everyone). It's always hard for me not to over-analyze an author whose book's genre is "self-help" especially when it seems that in order to be "happy" or "better" one needs to do all these things externally to create peace inside. I am more interested in books that go "inside" and because of this intentional soul searching and soul tending, are now able to change a few poor habits. Overall I did not love the book. I would probably rank this as a 2.5