Dear Tom Hanks,

As a long time fan of basically anything that has Tom Hanks associated with it, I appreciate how he has made the world a far brighter place.

tom hanks hello GIF

And I’m not talking about his acting, directing, or producing skills.

Nope.  Not at all.

Those things help.

I was far too young when I first watched Big (though I still absolutely loved it).  And Turner and Hooch will hold a special place in my heart.  Though Cheese the dog is banned from ever watching the movie.  And then as I got older, the movies just kept getting better and better and better.  Where he and Meg Ryan had a continued love affair through Sleepless in Seattle to You’ve Got Mail.  And then let’s just not even go in depth and my love and appreciate for the uber nerd (from one nerd to another) with how focused and meticulous any war movie ends up being.  Band of Brothers was the first movie(ish) thing that made me ugly cry.  And continues to do so to this day.

think tom hanks GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

So basically, I will just willingly throw all of my money at anything that has Tom Hanks involved.

ready tom hanks GIF

But do you know much about the man (the myth, the legend)?

Tom Hanks is notoriously kind and generous.  From a seemingly infinite set of stories of fans that have met him.  Or people who he has worked with.  Kind and generous are always paramount.

He recently read a series of tweets where he commented on how kind and generous other people had been.  Highlighting that there is, in fact, kindness in our cruel world.

Because, in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our schools, we have a problem.  We have a problem of the heart.  Yes, you can blame it on guns, or violence, or the Democrats, or the Republicans.  You can blame it on the fact that I love the color pink, but you don’t.  On the fact that I believe something that you don’t.  And because we have different beliefs, I have to hate you, because you’re different.

What all of that boils down to is one thing.  One thing only.

The heart.

At some point in history, and everyone is probably going to have a different opinion on this.  And because everyone is going to have a different opinion on this, I’m not going to pinpoint one specific thing.  Because that isn’t the point here.  What is the point is that at some point in our history we decided that hate was going to win.

Ok, maybe it was less of a cognitive decision and more of a we knuckle under because the overwhelming amount of hate that was being thrown in our direction could only be combated with even more hatred.

Right?

Wrong.

That isn’t going to solve anything.  That’s going to exponentially make matters much worse.

But somewhere along the line, we decided that if someone was going to be evil and ugly to me, we would respond in kind.

Dear friends, there is a solution to this awful situation that we are ensconced in.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely yes.

Yes!

Be a little bit more like Tom Hanks.

Do you want to stop school shootings?  Do you want to stop domestic violence?  Do you want to stop the social media based civil war that this country is in the middle of?

Fix the heart issue.

If you fix the heart issue, all of the other issues just cease to exist.  Because instead of spewing negativity and hatred towards one another, we send out love and generosity and kindness and open mindedness.

Does this mean that we all need to agree on, well, everything?

Absolutely not.

But guess what?

THAT’S OK!

Because we don’t have to agree on every single thing to be kind to one another.

It’s as simple as that.

Be.  Kind.

Always.

Humble Confidence

I don’t want to brag, but…

I am smart.

I am beautiful.

I am thoughtful.

I am hard-working.

I am stubborn.

I am sarcastic.

I am funny.

I am tough.

I am strong.

I am…a million different things.

Just because I am all of these things, doesn’t mean that you aren’t, too.

The dangerous trend, that honestly has probably been around since nearly the dawn of time, is that to have self-confidence, one must also put others down, to highlight just how awesome we are.  You can’t be nearly as awesome as me, because you suck, and I smell like roses.

And, oh, how many times in my life have I fallen victim to this???

How many times do I still fall victim to this???

Insecurity.  Insecurity in ourselves, in how the world perceives us, in who we are.  Insecurity causes so many challenges.  Some people, like me, respond to this by shutting down.  I start to believe all of those negative comments that people make, because I believe in how they are talking to me, talking about me.  I believe them.  And I shut down.

The other response is to be one of those people who put others down.  There are varying degrees of this.  Sometimes this can come across as a very polite comment, but the truth of what is said is a criticism.  Other times it is very blatant, rude and meant to hurt.  And still other times, an insecure narcissist can be outright damaging, both physically and emotionally, to other people.

  • “You might as well just go to the nursing home and marry an 80 year old man, because no one else will ever want to marry you.”
  • “Why would you wear that?”
  • “That’s hysterical that you think you can write a book.”
  • “You just don’t know what you’re talking about.”
  • “You’re stupid.”
  • “You’re ugly.”
  • “You’re fat.”
  • “You smile too much.”
  • “What do you have to be so happy about?”

All of these things have been said to me, and then some!  And when I heard them, they hurt.  And I started to believe them…

 

One of my own personal struggles is that I don’t know how to walk the very fine line of between being humble and egotistical, confident and coward.  It is a very fine line.  And I tend to fall on the negative side of the line.

Even still today.

I know, and honestly do believe all of the qualities that I listed above.  I believe all of them with my whole heart.

But the tendency to believe that negative inner monologue still afflicts me.

And oh how many times have I stopped myself from doing something because someone else made me feel inferior.  Sometimes, it’s the actions of other people directly putting me down.  Sometimes, I see how amazing other people are, and think that there isn’t possibly a way I could do that, so why should I even try?

Even if I don’t always realize it, even if I don’t always see it, I know, deep down (sometimes way, way, way deep down) that my life has a purpose.  That even if other people can do awesome and amazing things, so can I!

So instead of tearing each other down, let’s just stop.  Stop it all.  Stop the negative talk.  Stop the criticism.  Stop the judgement.  Stop believing that we are horrible people.

Yes, it is easy to compare ourselves to everyone else.

But just because I’m awesome, doesn’t mean that you aren’t awesome, too!

Awesomeness isn’t mutually exclusive.  There isn’t just one awesome award that gets handed out in life.

Ope, I won the Awesome Award this week, sorry ’boutcha!

Life doesn’t work like that!

So join me in being a cheerleader for life.

Build each other up.

Compliment instead of criticize.

We just might change the world.

 

The (Not So) Happy Birthday

My birthday is this week.

Growing up, birthdays were a big deal.  I mean, a really big deal. The entire family got together.  Presents were showered upon us. My grandma made them a big deal.  Always.

My grandma was also a little crazy.  And was definitely a one-upper. She waited until her brother scheduled the date for his wedding.  And then scheduled hers for the day before. My grandma was an amazing woman. But a little crazy, nonetheless.  

18 years ago, she definitely one-upped me.  She died on my 20th birthday. All of a sudden, a day that had always been a huge deal became something else.  And I’m still not sure how to feel about it. Over the years, I have tried to take the day back. But to say the least, I have been unsuccessful.  It seems like the harder I tried to plan good things, and good things only, to happen on my birthday, the worse the day was.

One year, my ex nearly knocked me unconscious, and I ended up with a bruise from my eye to my ear.  He tried to tell me the watch and earrings were my birthday present. But really, it was a weak form of apology.

Another year, a different ex started a huge fight with me, because how dare I have a birthday, and the attention be taken off him for a day.  After making a huge celebration for his own birthday, he turned around and told me that anyone who tried to celebrate their birthday was immature.  He got drunk. And I cried myself to sleep.

And then, even last year, the last entry in my “thank you God that didn’t work out” series of boyfriends tried to do something nice.  Turns out, I got threatened at school.  

This year, I’m purposely not making any plans.  I’m not trying to make the day, well, anything. Secretly, not so secretly, I’m still hoping up hopes that something amazing and fantastic and wonderful will happen.  Who wouldn’t?

But honestly, if I can just survive the day, I will be thrilled. 

The Curious Q-Tip Incident

Do you ever look back at events in your past, and realize that though they seemed horrific at the time, they now just seem utterly ridiculous?

I know personally that my brain often doesn’t shut down, and I relive events from my past.  Wishing that I had done something differently. Sometimes in a more positive way. More often thinking that I was just a moron.

And I don’t know if any other survivors of abuse have done this, but recently I have been thinking about one particular “fight” (we’ll call it that) that my ex started with me.  Over Q-tips.  

Yes, you read that correctly.

Q-tips.

For most of my childhood, I was plagued with ear infections.  Plus, I have wet earwax (I honestly didn’t know that there were different types of earwax, until I was in Biology class with my students last year).

According to him, I was “wasteful” and an “idiot” because I chose to use 2 Q-tips after I showered, to clean my ears.

And because he decided I was wrong, yet again, I must be punished.  And I was only allowed to use 1 Q-tip from now on.  And he would be keeping track, and counting exactly how many Q-tips I used.

Absurd, right?

Even more absurd?  Get this, 5 years after I removed myself from the situation, I still only used one Q-tip.

Recently, I have been thinking about the burden that I carry because of what I went through.  And often, the weight of it does not feel as heavy as it once did. But then, I realize why I continue to do some of the things I do.  And the weight all of a sudden feels a little heavier.

One of the things that I have realized over the past 5 years is that forgiveness in these circumstances is vitally important.  It is important because carrying the weight of the lack of forgiveness weighs on my heart. So turning all of that over to God, and allowing him the vengeance that already told us is His, and His alone, frees that weight from my heart and shoulders.  I take comfort in the fact that he will have to face God for the things that he did.

But the other thing that I know for certain is that even though I have forgiven.  Even though I know that I never have to experience anything like that again, I catch myself doing something as a result of the abuse I suffered, and I realize that no matter how much healing I go through, I will continue to carry pieces of that me around.

That isn’t a bad thing.  Not really.

I am a far different person that I was then.  

I am stronger.  I am healthier. I am happy.

But I am forever changed because of what I experienced.  

Every single time I pick up a Q-tip, I am reminded of why I only use one Q-tip.  Except, a couple of weeks ago, I stopped cold in my tracks, and it really hit me why I only use one Q-tip.  And I couldn’t move. For over 5 years, I have dealt with my ears itching all day long because I didn’t clean them out properly.  

5 years!!!

Over a stinking Q-tip that costs about a penny.  

So no more.  I realized that I am not, in fact, being wasteful.  I am taking care of myself. But now, because it was so ingrained in my head only to use one, I have to remind myself some mornings that I can use 2 Q-tips.  

The times that I work through some of these issues, I pray and ask God how many more of these incidents do I have to work through.  I thought I was doing really well. I thought I had gotten over the hump on many of these things. But clearly, I am not all of the way there.  So how many more ridiculous nuances of my life that are a result of abuse must I get over?  

At this point, only God knows the answer to that.

Am I the only one that has this reaction?  Laughing at how idiotic some of the reasons he started a fight truly are? Tell me your stories.