Category: life advice

The Rule I Use To Help Me Navigate The Tough Stuff

There are not many hard and fast rules that I cling to. Rogue that I am, I’ll wear white after Labor Day, I’m not afraid to call guys one day after a date and I’ve been known to drink the water, um, everywhere.


There is one rule that I reference on the regular and, friends, that rule is “The Bad/Break Rule.” And here is the crux of my extremely complex approach to the challenges of modern life: When something or someone is making you feel bad, you need to make a break for it.

This is not where I advocate giving up on things that challenge you, walking out on your partner after an argument about the laundry or quitting your job because you’re the only one who ever makes coffee. A situation or person that makes you feel bad is not the same as a situation or person that makes you feel frustrated, annoyed, challenged, exasperated or overwhelmed.

But the partner that makes you question your self worth or feel unattractive? The boss that yells at you in front of colleagues and makes you cry? The friend that mocks your dreams or lies to you? That business makes a person feel bad. And you know what you can do about it? Leave. You can quit the job, end the relationship, stop taking that friend’s calls.

As an owner of rose-colored glasses, I can frequently convince myself that any relationship or situation is salvageable and that with good communication and kind intentions we can all make good. Which may be true. But all that compromising and communicating is also time consuming and exhausting. And it’s not always worth it! There are thousands of jobs and homes and relationships out there that aren’t right for us. And life needn’t be as complicated as we make it. If someone or something is making you feel bad, you owe it to yourself to distance yourself from them.

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience in which we rationalize away a partner’s/employer’s/friend’s shortcomings and make excuses for the things that they do and say that make us feel shitty. He told me I looked fat because he had a tough day at work. She yelled at me because she was frustrated that our program lost funding. She made fun of my haircut (for the eighth time, after I asked her not too) because that’s her sense of humor. Nobody’s perfect.

And then later, somewhere down the line, we get a new job or start seeing someone new or make a new friend at book club and are overwhelmed by how easy it is. How amazing it feels to be congratulated and valued and treated with respect! So this is how it’s supposed to be! Who knew?!

Of course, into every life a bit of frustration and compromise must fall. And nobody is, in fact, perfect. But life’s too short to be wandering around this amazing world in the company of people that make you feel bad. So point your feet towards the horizon, walk away from that rubbish and towards something that will make you happy.

What do you do when faced with people or situations that make you feel bad? What bad stuff have you distanced yourself from?

photo by paula borowska // cc 

Tell Them

A few weeks ago, a close friend lost her father to cancer.

Familial relationships aren’t always easy. If we’re really, really fortunate, we luck into family that loves and supports us and ‘gets’ us in a way that others might not. We might even like our family members in addition to loving them out of genetic obligation!And even into the best relationships, a little rain must fall. Certainly, we’ve all had yelling matches about why can’t I wear that belly shirt to church! Stop stifling me! You can’t choose your family, but you can choose how you interact with them and how you express your love for them.

At the risk of going all existential on you, your parents aren’t going to be around forever. And neither are you. The world is rife with speeding trains and cancer-causing fumes and open manholes. Accidents happen. Don’t be the person who regrets a fractured, tenuous relationship, when a well-placed email or phone call could mend those bridges.Tell your family you love them.

Dear Mom,

I like you so hard. If we were co-workers instead of family members, I’d still want to hang out with you. It might take me a while to look past your cargo shorts and see your dry sense of humor, adventurous spirit and love for books – but once I got past those thematic earrings? We’d be sitting in the break room talking about Arrested Development every.blessed.lunchbreak.I am so, so lucky to share DNA with you. I want to be you when I grow up. Except for the Larson jawline. But you know how I feel about that. I love you.

Dear Dad,
I have so much respect for your love of nature and your commitment to family. I love that you’re so proud of us and all we’ve accomplished. I can’t thank you enough for teaching me the value of a dollar, showing me how to stack wood and change my oil and how to skin a squirrel – though I hope to never do the latter ever, ever again.
You’ve passed on a great last name, a love of travel and two crooked pinkies. I love you.

Dear Little Sister,

I have so much admiration for your determination to make it on your own. You take care of everyone around you, you give thoughtful gifts and you’ve got some of the best hair I’ve ever seen. You put up with all the dance recitals and plays that I forced you into and built fort after fort with me.I wish we lived in the same time zone, but it gives me comfort to know that you’re living life on your own terms someplace warm with someone you love. I love you.

You guys. Do it. Now! Gogogogo! Make that phone call/send that email/write that letter.